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The Glenn Negley Collection 
of Utopian Literature 















Printed at Thk Vnivhrsity 1'riss, Dublin. 



Concerning the Birth and Education of Dr. 
Gervaas Van Varken, and his Loathing and 
Abhorrence of the whole Human Race — How 
he met an A ncient Par see merchant in Bombay, 
and got an introduction to the Great Magician 
of Thibet— How he went to Thibet; what he 
lear?ied there, and how he departed from it, 




Of the shifting city of Lucetta — How Dr. Van 
Varken met an apparent Yahoo— Of the great 
astonishment of the citizens at sight of the 
Doctor, and how they gave him in charge to a 
committee of three — How the committee learned 
the Dutch tongue, and shozved the Doctor 
sundry strange and wonderful maps, . 


viii Contents, 



Concerning Physical Hesperography — Of the great 
Cloud-Screen, and its effect on Terrestrial 
Astronomy — Of the Chronic Equatorial Tor- 
nado, and of its extraordinary importance 
in the history of Hesperos — Of the Giant 
Mountains; and of the Flora and Fauna, . \< 


Of the Origin of Rational Life in Hesperos—Of 
the Cyclical Organic Life — Of the Law of 
Evanescence by Mortal Lesion — The story of 
the Hesperian Cain— Of the Law of Evanes- 
cence by adverse Metronomic Balance— How a 
Court of Justice sentenced a culprit to Eternal 
Punishment; and how the culprit escaped, . 45 


Of the causes of the high civilization of Hesperos 
—Of the relations of the sexes— Of private 
personal property— Of property in Land; and 
of the methods of Eviction— Of the Jacks and 
Masters of all Trades, 66 

Contents, ix 



Of the Universal Language— Of the Universal 
Empire and first measures of the World- 
Parliament — Of the great progress of the 
Hesperians in all Physical Science; and of 
their fruitless craving after the Unknown 
God, 74 


Of the first attempt to pass the Equatorial Tor- 
nado ; and its tragical issue — Of the attempt 
to pass the Cloud- Screen , .... 85 


Of the great courage of three Engineers — How 
they passed the Screen and saw the Host of 
Heaven — How they further discovered a Disk 
of Unknown Fire— Of the reception of the neivs 
throughout the world— Of the construction of 
a mountain Observatory ; and of the rapid 
growth of Astronomical knowledge . 98 




Of the development of World- Weariness in Hes- 
peros; and of the second attempt to cross the 
Equatorial Tornado— How the Forlorn Hope 
succeeded, and discovered a City of the Dead — 
How the terrible mystery of Evanescence was 
explained; and how the crew set out on their 
return, 113 


The oldest inhabitant of the South relates its history 
— How the awful intelligence was received in 
the North, 128 



How the two Hemispheres were amalgamated- 
Concerning the Sympathetic Telegraph; and 
how the great astonishment of the Hesperians 
at the first sight of the Doctor was fully ex- 
plained, ,-- 

Contents, xi 



Of the great social changes which resulted from 

the discovery of the Indestructibility of Life \ . 150 


How the Doctor delivered a course of lectures on 
the History of the Earth and its Inhabitants — 
Of the effects of his ghastly description — Of 
the atte?npt of two Hesperians to reach the 
Earth; and of its unsatisfactory result, . 159 


Of the further wanderings of Dr. Van Varken — 
Of his visits to Australis and the great Obser- 
vatory — Of a strange physical Theory con- 
cerning the Tornado — Supposed cause of the 
Doctor's return to the Earth, . . .171 

4 THAT we are to livt hereafter, is just as reconcilable 
with the scheme of atheism, and as well to be accounted 
for by it, as that we are now alive is ; and therefore 
nothing can be more absurd than to argue from that 
scheme, that there can be no future state.' — Bishop 


Concerning Ihe Birth and Education of Dr. Gervaas Van 
Varken, and his Loathing and Abhorrence of the 
whole Human Race— How he met an Ancient Parsee 
merchant in Bombay, and got an introduction to the 
Great Magician of Thibet — How he went to Thibet ; 
what he learned there, and how he departed frcm it. 

[Mr. Gervaas Van Varken was a trades- 
man who flourished on the Boomptjes of 
Rotterdam in the early years of the last 
century. His business was that of a ship- 
chandler — for so we may approximately 
translate the inscription, ' Koopman en 
Touwwerk en andere Scheepsbehoeften,' 
which appeared at the side of his door. 

Van Varken drove a tolerably brisk trade, 
and, being of extremely miserly habits, 
succeeded in accumulating a respectable 
amount of capital. He was a man of very 

<7o B 

2 History of a World of 

morose and sulky disposition, and, when he 
had reached the period of middle age, 
married a Vrouw who was not only gifted 
with a moral character closely resembling 
his own, but had, moreover, embraced 
Calvinistic views of the most austere type. 

This disagreeable couple were blessed 
with a small family consisting of one son, 
called Gervaas, after the name of his father, 
and this Gervaas, junior, was the author of 
the diary before us. 

The personal experiences of this unlucky 
youth were such that his imbibing the very 
gloomiest views of things in general, and, 
in particular, of human nature, was a simple 
matter of necessity. In his earliest child- 
hood he arrived at the conclusion that there 
was absolutely nothing he could do which 
did not issue in a sound thrashing, adminis- 
tered either by his father or his mother — 
supplemented, in the latter case, by ener- 
getic assurances that his present suffering 
was a mere joke in comparison with the 

Immortals without a God. 3 

elaborate and abiding torments in store for 
him, as a vessel of wrath, in the ne\t world. 
In addition to these personal severities the 
child spen*. the greater part of his time 
locked up in an empty room, imperfectly 
clothed, more than half-starved, and with 
nothing whatever to do but reflect on the 
inscrutable problem of human life. 

When he was ten years old he was sent 
to a school kept by a savage old friend of 
the ship-chandler, who carried out the 
parental system of discipline with even 
greater vigour; and thus it resulted thclt 
when in course of time Gervaas, junior, was 
moved to the University of Leyden to study 
for the medical profession — a profession for 
which he was destined by his father, without 
the slightest consideration for the young 
man's personal wishes — he had contracted 
such a habit of intense misanthropy that it 
remained with him as his leading character- 
istic for life. 

Gervaas, though by nature of a somewhat 
b 2 

4 History of a World of 

crusty disposition, was by no means a cruel 
man— at least he had none of that delight 
in inflicting pain, as such, which character- 
izes some of our species. In fact he was 
very fond of most sorts of animals, and con- 
fined his malevolence strictly to the human 
race, of which his experience had been so 
unfavourable. When his medical education 
was completed he was sent, as surgeon, for 
several voyages in an English vessel com- 
manded by another malignant friend of his 
father ; and assuredly the rough and coarse 
life on board had no tendency to counteract 
his pessimistic estimate of mankind. The 
British mariners, with their habitual con- 
tempt of foreigners, considered Doctor Van, 
as they called him, an eligible subject for 
all sorts of violent practical jokes ; which, 
to do him justice, he retaliated, whenever 
he got the chance, by the infliction of 
lingering torments in various surgical ope- 

The doctor, who had a considerable gift 

Immortals without a God, 5 

for languages, soon picked up English, and 
a copy of the, just then published, * Voyages 
of Captain Gulliver ' falling into his hands, 
he read them with intense interest; being 
specially delighted with the account of the 
crazy philosophers in the third voyage, and, 
above all, with the horrible description of 
the Yahoos in the fourth. From this time, 
indeed, he seems to have invariably used 
this term in speaking of his fellow-men. 

When he had reached tho age of about 
thirty years his mother died ; and as his 
father did not long survive her, the young 
man inherited an amount of property which 
afforded him a tolerable income, and 
rendered him independent of his profes- 
sion. He resolved to abandon it and visit 
the East ; for, having made several voyages 
to Bombay, he had come to the conclusion 
that the Yahoos of that part of the world 
were less intolerable than the European 
specimens of the breed. 

So he took his passage in an English 

6 History of a World of 

East Indiaman, and, after an uneventful 
voyage, landed at Bombay in the early part 
of the year 1729. As soon as the anchor 
was cast in the roads he lost not a moment 
in quitting the ship, having with difficulty 
escaped the indignity of being obliged to 
shake hands with the Yahoo captain. On 
landing he took up his quarters at the house 
of a trader to whom he had a letter of intro- 
duction ; and, shortly afterwards, by the 
merest accident, he encountered in the 
street an old Parsee merchant, who, though 
of course a Yahoo, seems not to have been 
absolutely intolerable in the eyes of the 
over-sensitive misanthrope, whose notes, at 
this point, become continuous for the first 

1 As I was walking in the shade of a row 
of trees which lined the street, I was ac- 
costed by a very ancient merchant of the 
Parsee persuasion, who asked me if I had 
not come from England in the ship which 
arrived that morning. I replied that I had 

Immortals without a God. 7 

been a passenger in her, and we fell into 
conversation. The old gentleman was not 
nearly so offensive to the senses as are the 
European Yahoos, and he was perfectly well 
acquainted with the English tongue. I 
found that, in the exercise of his calling, he 
had travelled a great deal in divers parts of 
Asia ; and, from his way of talk, I gathered 
that the Yahoos of those countries were fully 
as abominable in his eyes as the European 
specimens of the breed were in mine own. 
This common sentiment of loathing for our 
neighbours proved to ourselves an occasion 
of union, and before long there was between 
us as warm a friendship as two Yahoos are 
capable of entertaining for each other. 

* One day, as he was relating some of his 
adventures, he told me that, in the days of 
his youth, when travelling on mercantile 
business in the Himalayah Mountains, he 
chanced to meet a Thibetian gentleman 
named Koot Homi. Having on one occa- 
sion done a signal service to this Mr. Homi, 

History of a World of 


i|t came to pass that the Thibetian, who was 
of a grateful turn of mind, had always 
showed himself a faithful friend to the 
Parsee. The old merchant further informed 
me that Homi was a man endowed with 
many and strange gifts ; that the famous 
wonders worked by the Indian magicians 
or jugglers were the merest play of babies, 
when compared with the feats accomplished 
by Homi ; and that if you only whispered 
his name into the ear of one of these magi- 
cians when engaged at his work, the magi- 
cian would give a frightful howl, and run as 
if Beelzebub himself was in pursuit of him. 

' Among other wonders wrought by this 
Homi was one which struck me as the most 
notable of all. This was the power of 
moving himself, and various articles in con- 
tact with his person, in some inscrutable 
way from one district of the earth's surface 
to another, no matter how remote, and 
apparently in an instant of time. I asked 
my friend whether he had ever visited Mr. 

Immortals without a God. <> 

Homi in Thibet. He told me that he had 
been there, but only once ; that a long and 
terrible journey had to be undertaken ; 
frightful mountain-passes had to be sur- 
mounted ; that the country in which the 
magician's abode was fixed was inhabited 
by a strange society or brotherhood, the 
members of which were endowed with many 
of the powers possessed by Homi himself, 
who was their chief; and that access, unless 
by a special permission, which was very 
rarely granted, was an absolute impossi- 

1 And hereupon the old man added an ex- 
pression of his never-ceasing regret that he 
had not availed himself of his opportunity 
when in Thibet of endeavouring to persuade 
Mr. Homi to exercise his wonderful power 
upon him, either by transporting him wholly 
from the Yahoo regions, or, possibly, by 
transmuting him into a less hateful form. 
" I have never ceased to mourn over my 
stupidity in this respect," he said, "and, 

1 o History of a World of 

were I only able for it, I should gladly 

repeat my visit to Thibet. But I am far 

too old to venture on the fatigues of such a 

journey. As for you, however, the case is 

quite different ; you are an active and 

energetic man ; and should you think it 

worth your while to try what might be done 

in your behalf in the way I have suggested, 

I will gladly give you a letter which will 

enable you to pass without hindrance from 

the Brotherhood to the head-quarters of 

Mr. Homi." I thanked him very much for 

his offer, and asked him to let me think the 

matter over till next day, when I should 

give him my answer. 

'The more I reflected on my friend's 
kind offer the better v/as I pleased with the 
prospect of the journey. Inasmuch as life 
had become well-nigh intolerable, I cared 
but little for fatigue and danger. My time 
also was wholly at my own disposal. So 
next morning I told the Parsee that I gladly 
accepted his proposal ; and he, without any 

Immortals without a God. \ \ 

delay, not only wrote the promised letter of 
introduction, but also drew up for my use 
an itinerary of the most convenient road 
from Bombay to Eastern Thibet, containing 
notices of the towns, distances, and various 
peculiarities of the countries through which 
it was necessary to pass.' 

[At this point the memoranda assume 
a very fragmentary form. This I h?ve 
observed to be always the case when the 
doctor was actually engaged in travelling. 
When stationed for a time in some fixed 
locality he wrote out his observation? pretty 
fully ; but whenever he was moving about, 
mere hints are available for the guidance 
of the editor. His journey was evidently 
very long and arduous, and it certainly 
occupied several months. In its course 
many obstacles were plainly put in his way 
by the natives of the different territories 
which he had to traverse ; and the annoy- 
ance thence arising greatly ruffled his 
temper, and seems to have increased to an 

12 History of a World of 

almost incredible extent his abhorrence of 
the human race. 

At last his indomitable energy and per- 
severance were successful. He reached the 
mysterious Thibetian region ; and, having 
exhibited the old Parsee's letter, he was 
permitted by the Brotherhood to pass to 
the residence of their chief. Koot Homi 
received the doctor in a very friendly 
manner, and even declined to inspect his 
letter of introduction, assuring him that 
the chief of the occult Brotherhood had no 
need to do so. Van Varken seems to have 
resided with the chief for about five months, 
and was evidently admitted to great in- 
timacy with the whole of the Brother- 

One reason for this was clearly the very 
great interest taken by Homi in the 
'Voyages of Gulliver,' a copy of which was 
presented to him by the doctor. In parti- 
cular, the accounts of the philosophers in 
Lagado, and of the rational animals in the 

Immortals without a God. 13 

outward shape of horses, encountered on 
his fourth expedition, were listened to by 
the sage with eager attention. The chief 
does not seem to have even in the slightest 
degree doubted the veracity of Gulliver ; 
but he certainly expressed the most intense 
contempt for the Lagado professors, laying 
much stress on the profundity of their stupi- 
dity in not having amended the deplorable 
condition of the Struldbrugs in Luggnagg, 
of whose existence the professors were, 
doubtless, aware. ■ Even when immortal life 
was given them to work upon, they were 
incompetent to ward off the effects of senile 
decay ! Why, the merest tiro in our schools 
would be ashamed to allow the poor old 
Struldbrug to get into such a state,' said he, 
with scornful indignation. 

But, though he showed much sympathy 
with Dr. Van Varken's longing to be trans- 
muted out of the species he so much ab- 
horred, Mr. Homi did not hold out any 
hopes of success in so laudable an endea- 

14 History of a World of 

vour. * No,' said he, ' many years of 
arduous preparation, to say nothing of rare 
natural gifts, are indispensable qualifica- 
tions for such transformation ; few even of 
the adepts are capable of it. But the power 
of instantaneous passage from one terres- 
trial point to another is far more easily 
arrived at.' 

And it appears that, after a few months' 
probation, the secret of this process was 
actually communicated to the doctor; but 
under such rigid obligations to silence that 
no traces of its nature are to be found com- 
mitted to writing. All that can be ascer- 
tained about it is this — that an instan- 
taneous disintegration, and equally rapid 
re-integration of the ultimate molecules of 
the bodies to be moved is effected ; that the 
transit is accomplished through the medium 
of the undulations of the ethereal vehicle 
which pervades all space ; and that the rate 
of transmission is identical with that of 
the transmission of light, namely, about 

Immortals without a God. 15 

186,000 miles in a second. Once more the 
notes become continuous.] 

I was greatly pleased at gaining this new 
and wonderful faculty of moving myself; 
but, after making a few successful essays, it 
seemed to me that, after all, I should not be 
much the better for its possession. Yahoos 
being everywhere spread over the face of 
the earth, wherever I moved I should still 
assuredly And them ; and perhaps this was 
the reason why, as I was walking by myself 
one evening and chanced to see the planet 
Venus, or Hesperos, shining in the sky, the 
thought came into my mind that, inasmuch 
as the ether fills all the space between the 
planets, it might be just possible that the 
power of movement by disintegration of 
molecules, which, as yet, had only been 
essayed between places on the earth's sur- 
face, might extend as far as the planets 

The moon, being far the nearest of the 
heavenly bodies, would naturally seem to 

16 History of a World of 

afford the most promising opportunity for 
trying the experiment; but, having learned 
in Thibet that she is quite destitute of air, I 
resolved to try some other region ; for I 
thought it would be quite useless to arrive 
there, and straightway perish for want of * 
breath. If I could only get as far as Hes- 
peros my chances of life would be much 
better, inasmuch as I was assured, by the 
same philosophers, that there is good reason 
for believing that planet to be very abundantly 
supplied with air. Moreover, it fortunately 
happened that she was just then approaching 
the position called by astronomers her in- 
ferior conjunction, so her distance from the 
earth was not much over twenty-five millions 
of miles. 

The main risk I should run in attempting 
to make this passage would evidently be the 
possibility, perhaps I should say the proba- 
bility, of extinction of the vital force during 
the period of disintegration, which I estimated 
at a little more than two minutes. It was 

Immortals without a God. 17 

known to the Thibetian Brotherhood that the 
disintegrated particles moved with exactly 
the same speed as light; and as light requires 
about eight minutes to traverse the distance 
between the sun and the earth, two would 
nearly suffice to move it as far as Hesperos in 
her lower conjunction. Whether after such 
an interval of suspension the vital force 
would maintain sufficient energy to accom- 
plish the re-integration on which continuance 
of bodily life depends, an actual experiment 
alone could show. But I cared but little for 
the risk. Life had long become hateful to 
me ; a chance was now given to escape the 
society of the Yahoos, and all their abomina- 
tions. I. resolved to try my luck — at the 
worst I should only perish. 

I made no communication of my intention 
to the chief, lest perchance he should raise 
some objection to my intended enterprise ; 
and, on the very next night, at ten o'clock, I 
went out, taking with me, in various pockets 
of the eastern dress which, for convenience 


18 History of a World of 

in Asiatic travel, I had adopted in Bombay, 
sundry small articles for the toilet, also my 
silver watch, and an ingenious instrument 
for measuring quantities of heat, which had 
been sent me as a gift just before I left home, 
by my good friend, Mr. Gabriel Fahrenheit, 
of Amsterdam, who had lately invented it. 
I sat down on a rock by the side of the 
mountain ; Hesperos was distinctly visible, 
though only a thin crescent of her illumi- 
nated face was turned towards the earth. 
Carefully noting the time, which was exactly 
thirty-seven minutes past ten, and having 
also marked the temperature, which was 
fifty-seven degrees of my thermometer, as 
the instrument is called, I accomplished tie 
disintegration, indicating Hesperos as the 

Immortals without a God. 19 



Of the shining city of Lucctta — How Dr. Van Varkcn 
met an apparent Yahoo — Of the great astonishment 
of the citizens at sight of the Doctor, and how they 
gave him in charge to a committee of three — How 
the committee learned the Dutch tongue, and showed 
the Doctor sundry strange and wonderful maps. 

On recovering consciousness I found my- 
self lying on what felt like soft grass 
on the steep side of a mountain. The sky 
was intensely dark, no stars were visible, 
and, of course, there was no moon. Before 
me, at a considerably lower elevation, and, 
as well as I could judge, at a distance of 
four or five miles, I saw what had the 
appearance of a very brilliantly illuminated 
city ; the illumination was such as no arti- 

c 2 

20 History of a World of 

ficial light known on earth could approach 
in splendour. So strong was it, that even 
at the distance of the place where I was 
sitting its effect was quite visible in lighting 
the hill. In front of the city was a large 
sheet of water, and on it were many moving 
bodies, probably ships, all of them lighted 
with the same strange radiance which per- 
vaded the city. I looked at my watch, and, 
as might have been expected, I found that 
it still marked thirty-seven minutes past ten. 
I had stupidly forgotten that, during dis- 
integration, the machinery could not have 
worked, so I was unable to verify my com-, 
putation of the time required for the transit. 
The mercury in the thermometer quickly 
moved up to eighty-six degrees. 

I judged it best to stay where I was till 
daylight, especially as I saw some traces 
of dawn appearing in a quarter of the sky 
which I hence concluded to be the east. I 
awaited the coming day with great eager- 
ness, and, I admit, with some anxiety, for it 

Immortals without a God. 21 

would be hard to say what reception T might 
meet with. This much was plain — the planet 
was not destitute of some forms of life, and 
I had escaped the detestable Yahoos. 

But, as the reader will soon learn, my 
conclusion was over-hasty. As the light 
gradually increased I began to make out at 
first the main features, and scon the minuter 
details of the landscape. The sloping 
ground on which I had landed formed the 
base of a high mountain. Dense forests 
concealed the summit ; the lower part, on 
which I was sitting, was covered with soft 
short grass, and trees, most of them bearing 
some sort of fruit, were here and there 
scattered about. A few yards below me the 
steepness of the slope eased off into a 
gentle descent, and the mountain finally 
terminated on . the shore of a deep bay of 
clear and still water. At the end of this bay 
lay the city which shone so brightly in the 
night ; it was about five miles from my 
landing-place, and, as I afterwards learned, 

22 History of a World of 

was called Lucetta. The opposite shore of 
the bay, which was nearly ten miles wide, 
was occupied by a lofty range of peaked 
mountains. The temperature was high, but 
by no means intolerable, and the air was 
perfectly still. 

I saw no traces of any habitation outside 
the city, and no signs of animal life, except- 
ing birds, were anywhere visible, but of the 
birds there were many and lovely kinds. I 
was greatly struck by the appearance of the 
sky ; this was completely covered with a 
canopy of white cloud, seemingly at an 
enormous elevation. I was very desirous to 
get a sight of the sun, and, if possible, to 
measure its apparent magnitude, which I 
knew must greatly exceed its appearance \ 
from the earth ; but the thickness of the 
cloud was such that no trace of the disk was 
visible. I had hoped, by this means, to 
satisfy myself that I had really reached Hes- 
peros, namely, by comparing the observed 
magnitude with that which I had computed, 

Immortals without a God, 23 

and noted on a leaf of my pocket-book before 
I left Thibet. So I waited another hour, 
but seeing no signs of movement among the 
clouds, and despairing of getting an obser- 
vation, I got up and walked down the hill in 
the direction of the city. 

Presently the great steepness of the slope 
abated, and I soon arrived at a wide and 
smooth track which ran along the shore of 
the bay. The country was quite open ; there 
were no walls, hedges, or any kind of fences 
— not even any of those notice-boards so 
familiar to the wanderer in civilized terres- 
trial regions, which address him by the 
name of Trespasser, and convey menaces. 
I turned into the road, in the direction of 
the city, and, after proceeding along it for 
about half a mile, I descried, at some dis- 
tance, an approaching object, which, to my 
unspeakable horror, had all the look of a 

As we came nearer the suspicion became 
a certainty. The creature was walking very 

24 History of a World of 

slowly, and seemed to be quite absorbed in 
contemplation of a small article which he 
held in his hand. He was a man of middle 
age, with an exceedingly intelligent cast of 
countenance, and his dress did not materi- 
ally differ from the Eastern costume which 
had accompanied me from Thibet. 

So I could not at all account for the ex- 
treme intensity of his astonishment when, at 
last raising his eyes, he got the first sight of 
me as I walked towards him. He seemed 
completely paralyzed, gasped for breath, 
and for several moments was quite incapable 
of speech. Such utter stupefaction might 
have been manifested by the inhabitants of 
Lilliput and Brobdingnag when they first 
beheld Captain Gulliver, but in the present 
case there was no apparent cause for amaze- 
ment. At length he recovered himself suf- 
ficiently to address a few words to me, none 
of which I could understand. I replied, but 
with the like want of success. I pointed to 
the sky, to intimate that I had come from 

Immortals without a God. 25 

another world, and then to the city, as a 
hint that I wished to go there. Both of 
these signs he evidently understood, and he 
turned back, and accompanied me in silence. 
I must do my companion, and indeed all the 
Venusians (or Hesperians) I have encoun- 
tered, the justice of admitting that, though 
in Yahoo form, they possess none of the 
offensive peculiarities of the breed. 

We had not gone very far before we 
overtook a young girl of exceedingly pre- 
possessing aspect, walking towards the city. 
She too, on seeing me, appeared to be struck 
with the same overwhelming and stupefying 
astonishment which had produced so great 
an effect on my first acquaintance. I could 
not understand it at all- There was nothing 
in the personal appearance of either the 
man or the girl which struck me as ex- 
tremely unusual. Why, then, should I be so 
extraordinarily wonderful in their eyes ? 

When we came up with the girl the man 
stopped, and they talked in a very excited 

26 History of a World of 

manner for some minutes. While they were 
so occupied it occurred to me that some- 
thing very remarkable might have happened 
in the reintegration of my body on arrival 
at the surface of the planet. I might, for all 
I knew, be suffering from some grotesque 
distortion of features, or other bodily mis- 
fortune. But no, that was not the cause of 
their wonder, for, as the road ran close along 
the shore, I took the opportunity of surveying 
myself in the clear water, and the reflection 
showed, beyond all possibility of doubt, that 
there was nothing whatever astray with my 
personal appearance. 

Presently, hearing a slight noise behind 
me, I looked back, and saw a vehicle on its 
way to the city approaching us. It was 
running swiftly, although there were no 
horses attached, nor any visible motive 
power; the wheels ran on two steel rods 
which I had before noticed lying parallel to 
each other on the road. As soon as the 
vehicle reached the spot where we were 

Immortals without a God. 27 

standing it stopped at once, and the man 
and the girl making signs to me to get into 
it, I did so. In the vehicle were about a 
•dozen people, of various adult ages, the 
youngest seemingly about twenty years old, 
the eldest about sixty. They were of both 
sexes, and, with one consent, they all, old 
and young, male and female alike, received 
me with the same intense, and, as it seemed 
to me, needless amazement as the first man 
and girl had shown. 

The vehicle resumed its course and ran 
on swiftly and with exceeding smoothness 
into the city. It was easy to see that I was 
the exclusive theme of the eager and ex- 
cited discourse of the passengers. Their 
manner was very friendly, but their aston- 
ishment showed no signs of abating. A 
few minutes sufficed to bring us to the end 
of our journey. The car ran through a 
long and wide street, bordered on each side 
with rows of splendid trees. Through their 
foliage the houses were visible. Each house 

28 History of a World of 

was separated from its neighbour by an 
interval of several yards ; was but one story 
in height ; and, so far as I was able to 
judge from a hasty glance in rapid pas- 
sage, was very elaborately and tastefully 
ornamented. It was plain that land was 
abundant, and ground rents, if any, were 

We soon reached our destination — a large 
open space in the middle of the town. This 
great square was surrounded by stately 
public buildings, some of them being of 
considerable elevation. One of these was 
especially striking on account of its gor- 
geous magnificence. It had all the look of 
a vast cathedral, and the roll of deep-toned 
music, much resembling the tones of a pow- 
erful and curiously sweet organ, issuing 
from the open portals, served to heighten 
the illusion. Though still early morning, 
many people were about in the square, and, 
as soon as rve alighted from the car, I saw 
the faces of all the bystanders assume 

Immortals without a God. 29 

the same look of bewildered astonishment 
which all who had yet seen me so needlessly 
put on. 

From all sides the people came running 
together ; but there was no crowding or 
pressure ; the multitude were most orderly, 
and seemed quite friendly in their de- 
meanour; but it was plain that, for some 
mysterious reason, my arrival indicated a 
crisis in the history of the city. At last a 
young man, who appeared to be in a posi- 
tion of authority, mounted a low flight of 
steps which led up to the building before 
which the vehicle had stopped, and ad- 
dressed a short speech to the assembled 
people. The crowd at once dispersed, and 
three persons came forward and took me in 

Two of these were men, one of them 
elderly, the other of middle age ; the third 
of these custodians, as I had to consider 
them, was a very beautiful girl, seemingly 
about twenty years old. The countenances 

30 History of a World of 

of all three were characterized by marks of 
extreme intelligence ; and each of them had 
a peculiar look which is common to all the 
Hesperians I have seen, and which I can no 
otherwise describe than as a look indicative 
of immense and profound knowledge. These 
three persons, as I afterwards learned, were 
appointed by the man in authority as a sort 
of commission to take charge of me, and 
endeavour to ascertain what I was, whence 
I came, and whither I was going. The real 
cause of the intensity of the wonder which 
I excited everywhere will be explained 
farther on. 

The elder man made signs to me to walk 
up the steps, and enter the large building 
beside us, which I did, the others following. 
The steps led up to a spacious hall, from 
which long corridors branched out in va- 
rious directions. One of the men inquired 
by gesture-language if I wished for food. 
As I was by this time exceedingly hungry, 
I replied, in the same way, that I was quite 

Immortals without a God. 31 

ready for my breakfast. Whereupon they 
brought me to a room which opened into 
one of the corridors, where, on turning a 
handle in the wall, a sliding panel opened, 
and a table on rollers passed through. 
Various kinds of meats and drinks were on 
the table, and of these they invited me to 
partake. I made a hearty meal. I noticed, 
in particular, respecting some of the dishes, 
that they greatly resembled in taste various 
kinds of flesh-meat, very delicately cooked, 
but they were totally different in appearance 
from anything of the sort ever served up on 

I observed also that my three keepers did 
everything in their power to induce me to 
give the names, in my language, of every 
object in sight. The girl had a sort of small 
memorandum book, in which, with a fine 
pencil, she constantly wrote, in what seemed 
a system of shorthand, the words and sen- 
tences I uttered ; and she and the two men 
repeated them articulately several times. 

32 History of a World of 

They gave me the idea that they were much 
more anxious to learn my language than 
to teach me theirs. In fact, I afterwards 
learned that this was part of the instructions 
they had received respecting me. 

As soon as I had finished my breakfast 
they took me into a large room, which 
opened into another corridor, and was hung 
round with all sorts of charts. Among these 
I saw, to my intense astonishment, a large 
circular map, about sixteen feet in diameter, 
on which, depicted with singular accuracy, 
were the well-known outlines of the con- 
tinents and larger islands of the eastern 
hemisphere of the earth. The immense 
white masses at the poles, the blue colour 
of the southern and Indian oceans, the 
yellow tinge of the Great Sahara and Asiatic 
deserts were especially prominent objects. 
The process by which this wonderful map 
was made was afterwards fully explained to 
me. It was what they called a sun-picture 
taken by the help of an enormous tele- 

Immortals without a God, 33 

scope in one of the national mountain ob- 
servatories, of which I learned much more 

They showed me several other equally 
excellent charts of the earth, exhibiting dif- 
ferent portions of her surface. All of these 
were taken when she was in opposition, and 
therefore were all on the same scale. The 
committee showed great delight when I 
intimated my acquaintance with the details 
of the charts ; inasmuch as this was a suffi- 
ciently clear proof of the place from which 
I came. I pronounced, as distinctly as I 
could, the names of the continents, seas, 
and principal islands, indicating, at the 
same time, by pointing them out, the lo- 
calities named. All of these words they 
repeated as before ; and the girl took them 
down in her rapid shorthand. 

The extraordinary quickness with which 
these three Hesperians acquired the lan- 
guage of Holland would not be easily cre- 
dited by an inhabitant of the earth. Still 


34 History of a World of 

it is a fact that, by the simple process of 
constantly conversing with me, and record- 
ing every word I spoke to them, in little 
more than a week all the three could speak 
our language with great fluency ; while I, 
who had a great facility for learning foreign 
tongues, had acquired only a few words 
and elementary sentences of the Hesperian 
speech. This training in our language was 
by no means confined to the three members 
of the committee. Each morning the results 
of the day's conversation were faithfully re- 
ported in the Hesperian journals from the 
girl's memoranda ; and the whole popula- 
tion of the city engaged with heart and soul 
in the study of Hollandish — plainly with the 
intention of putting themselves as quickly 
as possible in the way of getting an expla- 
nation of my astounding appearance among 

Immortals without a God. 35 


Concerning Physical Hesperography — Of the great Cloud- 
Screen, and its effect on Terrestrial Astronomy — Of 
the Chronic Equatorial Tornado, and of its extra- 
ordinary importance in the history of Hesperos — Of 
the Giant Mountains ; and of the Flora and Fauna. 

To understand aright the nature of my in- 
tercourse with the Hesperians, I must needs 
give a short description of the structure and 
principal natural features of the surface of 
their planet ; and likewise some account of 
the origin of the rational inhabitants thereof, 
and of the main points wherein their condi- 
tions of life differ from our own. All this 
knowledge was obtained by me, after the 
establishment, as I have explained, of a 
means of communication, in the course of 
many dialogues, not only with the three 

d 2 

36 History of a World of 

whom I had instructed in the Hollandish 
tongue, but also with many others, who 
had, with nearly equal quickness and ease, 
picked it up. But I think the reader will 
find it more convenient if I present him, in 
a connected discourse, this strange history 
which came to my knowledge only by de- 
grees and in a rather roundabout way. 

Our own astronomers have, long ago, 
computed the distance of Hesperos from the 
sun, her magnitude, density, time of rotation 
on her axis, and a few other particulars. 
Some of these computations are approxi- 
mately right, but they have considerably 
over-estimated her distance from the sun, 
which is leally not much over sixty-six 
millions of miles. And with respect to the 
physical geography, or more properly, Hes- 
perography of the planet, they are, all of 
them, in absolute ignorance, and that for the 
best of possible reasons—no human being but 
myself has ever seen her surface. Improve- 
ments in the telescope will never enable 

Immortals without a God. 37 

the terrestrial astronomers to penetrate the 
permanent stratum of cloud which, at an 
average elevation of twenty miles, surrounds 
the entire planet like a screen. The visible 
disk of Hesperos is simply the outer surface 
of this cloud-screen, which reflects the solar 
rays very copiously. The Hesperian atmo- 
sphere is of immense density, for the average 
height at which mercury stands in a tube 
constructed after the method of Signor 
Torricelli is somewhat over fifty-nine inches. 
It is fortunate that, except in the equatorial 
region, storms are unknown, for the impact 
of a hurricane of air of such density would 
be fatal to most forms of life. 

This ponderous atmosphere supports the 
stratum of cloud just mentioned, which is 
sufficiently dense to act as a screen against 
the solar rays, and. it thus renders the 
climate of the greater part of the planet by 
no means unpleasant. Though the supply 
of solar heat is nearly double of that received 
by the earth, I never, during my two years' 

38 History of a World of 

residence in Hesperos, experienced as much 
inconvenience from that source as I have 
frequently met with in our own tropical 

The planet is divided into two regions, 
which in ancient times were supposed to be, 
and, in one respect, really were, mutually 
inaccessible. The division is made by an 
immense equatorial ocean which surrounds 
the entire globe. The extent of this ocean, 
measured from north to south, is nowhere 
less! than four thousand miles. Each of the 
poles is the centre of a vast continent which 
extends on all sides till it meets the great 
central ocean. The margins of these conti- 
nents are exceedingly irregular in shape, 
being broken by arms of the sea, which 
often run up the country for many hundreds 
of miles. Many islands, some of which are 
of considerable size, are scattered through 
the ocean, but none of these lie at a very 
great distance from the mainland. The 
entire surface is nearly riually divided 

Immortals without a God. 39 

between land and water, this distribution 
forming a marked contrast with the present 
state of the earth. 

By far the most striking of the physical 
phenomena on the planet is the frightful 
chronic hurricane which rages round the 
equator. To this I must ask the reader's 
special attention, inasmuch as some of the 
most astounding events in the Hesperian 
history are only to be understood with 
reference to this extraordinary and hitherto 
unexplained tornado. I have already men- 
tioned the exceeding density of the air, and 
also the fortunate exemption of the greater 
part of the planet from storms. But it seems 
that this latent energy of the atmosphere 
finds its vent in a zone about five hundred 
miles in breadth, of which the equator forms 
the central line. According to all accounts 
a permanent tornado, of such violence that 
one who is accustomed only to the storms 
which occur in the rarer atmosphere of the 
earth, is incapable of even imagining it, 

40 History of a World of 

tears and rages round this zone for ever. 
Still less could anyone conceive the aspect 
of the ocean subjected to this unceasing 
and tremendous hurricane. Anyone who 
could realize in imagination the cataract 
of Niagara, broken loose from its American 
moorings, and wandering on the sea, might 
perhaps have some notion of one of the 
equatorial waves. 

This is the reason why I described the 
northern and southern Hesperian hemi- 
spheres as mutually inaccessible. No ship 
constructed by mortal hands could approach 
this pandemonium and live. We shall see, 
farther on, that, after the lapse of many 
ages, counting from the first appearance of 
rational life, the transit was effected in a 
wholly unexpected manner. This transit 
led to a most awful discovery, and with 
this discovery we shall see that the Modern 
History of Hesperos begins. 

Moreover, the differences as to heat and cold 
in the various climatal regions of Hesperos 

Immortals without a God. \\ 

are not nearly so great as those which are ex- 
perienced on the earth. This fact is partly to 
be explained by the considerable increase in 
the density of the permanent cloud stratum, 
which takes place as we approach the 
equatorial zone. This provides a more 
effective barrier against the solar rays in 
the districts where such a screen is most 
needed. For the purpose of residence the 
two polar regions are unquestionably far the 
most agreeable. Each of them abounds in 
beautiful lakes and magnificent mountain 
scenery. The Hesperian mountains are on 
a much larger scale than any which occur 
on the earth. In particular, starting from a 
point near the northern pole, there runs in a 
south-easterly direction a mighty chain which 
has several peaks not less than twenty Eng- 
lish miles in height. 

Some of these peaks even pierce through 
the cloud screen, and these have been 
made available for the construction of exten- 
sive astronomical observatories. There are 

42 History of a World of 

similar, though not quite as lofty ranges in 
the southern hemisphere, and their summits 
have been utilised in the same way. It 
should be observed that, were it not for 
these mountains, the Hesperia'is would have 
been wholly cut off from all knowledge of 
the remainder of the universe, for none of 
the heavenly bodies are visible through the 
permanent screen. I need not say that very 
great precautions are taken at all the obser- 
vatories to protect the astronomers and the 
instruments from the great heat of the sun. 

I have already mentioned that, with the 
terrible exception noticed above, storms are 
unknown in Hesperos. The country is every- 
where well watered. There are no sandy 
deserts. Extensive evaporation takes place 
over the central ocean ; rain clouds at a 
much lower altitude than the screen are 
constantly formed, and, being wafted by 
very gentle breezes over the land, discharge 
their contents in fertilizing rain. There are 
no thunderstorms or electrical phenomena of 


Immortals without a God, 43 

any kind ; no hesperoquakes, no volcanoes, 
nor indeed any of those vast natural instru- 
ments of death with which our earth is so 
copiously supplied. 

The planet abounds, as might have been 
expected, in multiplied forms of vegetable 
life. There are many trees which closely re- 
semble those of the earth ; many also of very 
different types from any known here. The 
great preponderance in number of the fruit- 
bearing trees over the barren species is 
exceedingly noteworthy. As for the flowers, 
I have seen none on earth, tropical or 
non-tropical, which in any way approach 
the gorgeous splendour of the Hesperian 

Animal life, on the other hand, is scanty, 
and confined to a small number of seemingly 
insignificant species. The bird tribe forms 
the only exception. Of these the forms are 
numerous and lovely, and, as they are 
never molested by the inhabitants, they are 
singularly tame. There are no large or 

44 History of a World of 

carnivorous mammals ; and it is worth 
notice that in the small-sized and grami- 
nivorous types of this class — the only 
quadrupeds in Hesperos — the reproductive 
power is, in comparison with the earth 
tribes, exceedingly small. Insects and 
reptiles are wholly unknown ; the numerous 
birds live entirely on the abundant fruits. 
I greatly appreciated the comfort of being 
able to sit and rest on the grass without 
being immediately covered with a disgusting 
swarm of stinging ants, and, when in the 
house, I soon learned to submit with resig- 
nation to the absence of the loathsome 
cockroach and the both loathsome and 
dangerous centipede and scorpion. 

Immortals without a God. 45 


Of the Origin of Rational Life in Hesperos — Of the 
Cyclical Organic Life — Of the Law of Evanescence 
by Mortal Lesion — The story of the Hesperian Cain 
— Of the Law of Evanescence by adverse Metronomic 
Balance — How a Court of Justice sentenced a culprit 
to Eternal Punishment ; and how the culprit escaped. 

[Warnung by Antares Skorpios— Should this book, 
by any mischance, have fallen into the hands of any 
habitual consumer of the style of literature known as 
* Shilling Shoe hers,' or ' Penny Dreadfuls' the Shocked 
or Terrified is earnestly exhorted to waste none of his 
valuable time on the pages which follow. He may rely 
on it that, although up to this point he may have been 
able to comprehend the narrative, the remainder of the 
work is utterly beyond his tether. I now proceed with 
my translation.'] 

I shall now proceed to give an account of 
the nature and origin of rational life in Hes- 
peros ; but, before doing so, I must venture 
to address a word of advice and exhortation 

46 History of a World of 

to the reader. Should he, unhappily, be 
one of those narrow-minded persons who 
exalt the normal phenomena of this little 
globe of earth into the unique standard and 
pattern of what must needs prevail through- 
out the entire universe, he had better close 
the book at once. But should he be of 
larger mind, and allow the possibility of 
more than he has dreamed of in his phi- 
losophy existing in heaven, he may perhaps 
find in the following sketch of the ancient 
history of Hesperos, communicated to me by 
those who were themselves the eye-witnesses 
of what they related, abundant matter both 
for profitable reflection and delectable enter- 

I may here add that, for the convenience 
of these large-minded readers, I have in all 
cases reduced the measures of time and 
distance from the Hesperian terms in which 
they were given to me, to those which are 
best known in Europe. Thus, when I speak 
of years, I mean our own period of 365 days, 

Immortals without a God. 47 

and not the Hesperian of 224; and similarly 
I have expressed their measure of distance 
in English miles and feet ; these being, 
perhaps, the best international standards. 

The whole surface of Hesperos contains 
a little over one hundred and eighty- two 
millions of square miles. Hence, as land 
and water occur in nearly equal proportions, 
we have as the total amount of land about 
ninety-one millions. This again, being nearly 
equally divided between the north and south 
hemispheres, gives forty-five and a-half 
millions for each. If we deduct from this 
the odd five and a-half millions, as an allow- 
ance for the immensely high mountain chains, 
and other districts not suited for supporting 
life, we shall have left forty millions of square 
miles in each hemisphere available for that 

Such being the physical condition of the 
planet, it happened that, in the year b.c 
18,270, just twenty thousand years ago, there 
suddenly appeared, uniformly dispersed over 

48 History of a World of 

the forty million square miles of the northern 
hemisphere, exactly one hundred millions 
of rational creatures in the likeness of the 
human race. This is an ultimate fact which 
has hitherto baffled all inquiry. The mani- 
festation took place suddenly and simul- 
taneously ; but whether it was the result of 
a new creation, or of a translation from other 
regions of space, is wrapped in impenetrable 
mystery. For twenty thousand years the 
Unknown Power which called them into 
being has preserved a rigid and unbroken 
silence. All that is known is that at the 
above epoch one hundred millions of highly 
intelligent creatures, equally divided between 
the two sexes, male and female, simultane- 
ously awoke into conscious life. 

Though thus strictly contemporaneous in 
origin, they were nevertheless, so far as 
appearance indicated, of very different ages. 
They all seemed to be adults, but their 
aspects varied between that of an adult of 
twenty and one of sixty years of age. 

Immortals without a God, 49 

It is not my intention to describe the long 
and complicated process by which these 
detached creations, all alike ignorant of 
what had taken place, were, in the long 
course of ages, gradually amalgamated into 
communities and states. This would form the 
subject of a separate work on the ancient his- 
tory of Hesperos, for which I possess copious 
materials. [I fear lost.] I must here con- 
fine myself to setting out more in detail the 
extraordinary differences, as to their circum- 
stances and. conditions of life, which exist 
between the rational inhabitants of Hesperos 
and those of the earth. 

The first fact which will strike the reader 
as a very extraordinary difference indeed is 
this — that, although there is the same dis- 
tinction of sexes as is found on earth, and 
although there is just the same mutual 
attraction between them, there is no such 
thing as reproduction of the species. To 
counterbalance this strange fact, however, 
there are no such things, at least as the 


50 History of a World of 

result of natural causes, as disease, decay, 
and death. When I said that the apparent 
ages of the new created or imported Hespe- 
rians varied between twenty and sixty years, 
I did net mean to intimate, and the reader is 
not to infer, that anything in the slightest 
degree resembling the horrible condition of 
the Struldbrugs of Luggnagg has place in 
Hesperos. Far from it ; the dependence of the 
bodily organism on the age of the individual 
in that planet has no analogy with the pro- 
gressive decay of the wretched Struldbrug ; 
it follows a more complicated law. 

Every Hesperian, in fact, considered solely 
with reference to this bodily organism, leads 
a periodical life. The length of this period 
is not absolutely fixed, but it may be taken 
on an average at one hundred years, which 
may be conveniently divided into three 
sections, which may be respectively named 
as stationary, senescent, and juvenescent. 
For example, if we take a person who has 
just reached the apparent age of twenty 

Immortals without a God. 51 

years, his organic life will proceed some- 
what as follows : — For the next twenty years 
he or she shows no outward and visible sign 
of change ; but, at the end of this first or 
stationary period, traces of departing youth 
begin to manifest themselves. This process 
goes on for forty years, much in the same 
way as is the case with the human race on 
earth ; and, at the end of this period, which 
we call senescent, the person has, in external 
form, all the look of a man or woman sixty 
years old. 

At or about this time a crisis in life takes 
place. This crisis is marked by the patient 
falling into a sort of stupor or trance, in 
which he usually continues for about seven 
days. On awakening from this trance he 
resumes his ordinary life, apparently under 
the same conations as before. But the con- 
ditions are not the same. It soon becomes 
plain that the trance has wrought some 
mysterious change in his powers of bodily 
life. At the date of his awakening the last 

E 2 

52 History of a World of 

section of the periodical life, called the 
juvenescent, begins. Change both in ex- 
ternal form and bodily activity proceeds, 
but it proceeds in a reversed direction, so 
that at the end of ten years the man of sixty, 
instead of being promoted to the rank of a 
septuagenarian, has all the appearance of a 
man of fifty; ten years more bring him to 
forty, and so on, till the limit of twenty is 
reached again, and the stationary stage sets 
in once more. 

Thus the cycle of one hundred years is 
completed — twenty years stationary, forty 
senescent, forty juvenescent. It should be 
remembered that these numbers only give 
averages ; they vary in different cases within 
limits of a few years, nor are they, even for 
one and the same person, quite rigidly fixed. 
So the reader must not suppose that those 
who happen to be of the same apparent age 
at any one given date, will evermore pre- 
serve the same chronological relation to 
each other. 

Immortals without a God. 53 

It appears at once from the consideration 
of this cyclical law, that about one-half of the 
population of the planet are (apparently) 
over, and the other half under, the age 
of thirty-five years. Still it must never be 
forgotten that this cycle of events affects 
the corporeal existence exclusively. Mental 
power is in no way under its control. 
Although it is true that, during the sene- 
scent period, both the desire and the 
capacity for active bodily exertion alike 
decline, there is no abatement whatever in 
the intellectual energy, or the slightest 
failure in the faculty of memory. 

This, then, is the second essential dif- 
ference between the Hesperian and the 
Terrestrial conditions of life. The first 
being the fact of Non-reproduction, the 
second may be called the Law of Cyclical 
Organism. A third still remains for our 

This third essential difference was known, 
during the period of the ancient history of 

54 History of a World of 

Hesperos, as the Law of Evanescence. But, 
before proceeding to explain it, I must pre- 
mise that, since the commencement of the 
modern history, it has been ascertained that 
the real significance of this law was entirely 
misconceived in the earlier period. Though 
the facts, so far as they had been then 
observed, were sufficiently accounted for by 
it, the observations had been very far from 

The reader has, of course, already noticed, 
as an obvious consequence of the fact of 
non-reproduction, that all the now existing 
rational inhabitants of Hesperos are contem- 
poraneous with the sudden manifestation of 
rational life on her surface. Whatever 
appearances might seem to indicate, not one 
of them is under twenty thousand years of 
age. Even the lovely girl who made notes 
of my conversation was not a day under it, 
though, at that time, I should have found it 
very hard to believe the fact. I have already 
mentioned that there is no such thing as 

Immortals without a God, 55 

death from disease or other natural and 
necessary cause. Still other causes may 
exist, and to these a portion of the original 
population may have fallen victims, so that 
the present Hesperians may be only the 
survivors of the original creation. These, 
too, some day or other may in like manner 
disappear, and rational life may thus be 
ultimately obliterated from the face of the 
planet. Such indeed was for ages the pre- 
vailing belief. How the belief was found to 
be based on an erroneous view of the actual 
facts will appear when we come to the history 
of the wonderful discovery which marks the 
commencement of the modern history. 

But, as for the belief itself in the likelihood 
of extinction of life in the planet, its origin 
may be easily explained. Soon after the 
sudden creation, or manifestation, of the 
Hesperians, the people in contiguous dis- 
tricts began to fraternise with each other. 
By degrees small communities were formed ; 
rude languages were invented ; private 

56 History of a World of 

property began to be acquired ; the advan- 
tages of co-operation and division of labour 
were dimly discerned. But, side by side with 
these marks of progress, many discouraging 
symptoms appeared. These, perhaps the 
inseparable companions of advancing civi- 
lization, were simply envy, hatred, jealousy, 
and all kinds of malice, too often resulting 
in energetic quarrelling, blows, and wounds. 
In one of these early contests one of the 
combatants, who had armed himself with an 
exceptionally heavy bludgeon, chanced to 
strike his antagonist an awful blow on the 
temple. The result was equally awful. 
Instead of falling to the ground, stunned 
by the force of the blow, as had been 
the usual result under* similar circum- 
stances in many previous encounters, the 
man who had received it simply vanished 
— instantaneously vanished. Not a trace * 
of him was left, and the Hesperian Cain 
stood staring at the vacancy which his 
departed brother had filled, gasping with 

Immortals without a God. 57 

amazement and consternation at the work he 
had achieved. 

As years went on many similar cases 
occurred. Occasionally this evanescence 
took place as the result of an accident ; the 
co-operation of a neighbour, though a 
common, was not an indispensable ante- 
cedent. For instance, if a man fell over 
a precipice several hundred feet high — and 
many such are to be found among the moun- 
tains — evanescence on reaching the foot of it 
was invariable. 

At length, by the process of comparing a 
vast number of instances in which this 
strange phenomenon had been observed, 
what was called the Law of Evanescence 
was established, namely, that a certain 
class of bodily injuries exist, which result 
in the instantaneous dissolution and dis- 
appearance of the recipient. And here^ I 
found my medical education of great service 
in enabling me to understand the nature of 
this law; for, from the accounts I got of the 

58 History of a World of 

various causes of evanescence, it became 
quite clear to me that in almost every case 
of the occurrence of the phenomenon, what 
would be called in human beings a mortal 
lesion is the invariable antecedent ; that, in 
fact, the decomposition of the body, which 
on the earth takes place slowly, is instan- 
taneously effected in Hesperos. 

Having referred to my medical education, 
I may call the reader's attention, just in 
passing, to a difficulty which that education 
brought very forcibly before my mind. How 
could there be any science of anatomy in Hes- 
peros ? No corpses could be procured for 
dissection. An amputated arm or leg might 
be anatomised, but an examination of the 
structure of any of the vital organs is simply 
impossible. Just as, in mediaeval times, medi- 
cajl students on the earth were obliged to 
have recourse to the dissection of the lower 
mammalia, in order to learn their business, 
so is it now with the Hesperians; and, in 
both cases, the results arrived at may be 

Immortals without a God. 59 

useful as the grounds for more or less 
ingenious hypotheses, but are quite insuffi- 
cient as a foundation for any science worthy 
of the name. 

But the above account of evanescence as, 
in all cases, the result of mortal lesion, is not 
in absolute conformity with the facts of ex- 
perience. Such lesions are unquestionably, 
in the vast majority of instances, the real 
causes of the phenomena. Still, occasion- 
ally, though comparatively rarely, cases 
occur which seem to be irreducible to any 
such rule, and these, for many ages, were 
regarded as inexplicable anomalies. How- 
ever, the law which governs such mysterious 
cases of evanescence was at last found out, 
as I shall now proceed to explain. 

This important discovery was really the 
result of the invention of a most ingenious 
instrument, by means of which the degrees 
of pain and suffering on the one hand, and 
of joy and satisfaction on the other, endured 
or enjoyed by any given individual, during 

60 History of a World of 

any assigned period, may be accurately 
measured, their aggregate amount computed, 
and the balance on either side struck. The 
machine is constructed somewhat on the 
principle of Mr. Fahrenheit's thermometer, 
but the details of the construction, and of 
the mode of fixing the unit on which the 
calculations rest, were not communicated to 
me; indeed, the Hesperian who gave me a 
general account of it very frankly assured 
me — and I find no difficulty in believing him 
— that to understand its mode of action lies 
far beyond the range of my merely human 
faculties. However this may be, it is not 
easy to see how, without some such invention, 
the Second Law of Evanescence could have 
been discovered ; but, by the application of 
this wonderful instrument to a great number 
of cases, the Law in question was at last 
established on a sufficiently wide inductive 

This Second Law of Evanescence may be 
stated in a popular form as follows : — Evan- 

Immortals without a God, 61 

escence takes place whenever the total 
quantity of suffering undergone by anyone, 
exceeds, by a certain fixed amount, the total 
quantity of happiness he has enjoyed. This 
fixed amount when estimated by the Hes- 
perian joy - and-sorrow - metronome, above 
described, is exactly ten million units of its 
scale. When this negative balance is reached, 
the second law acts spontaneously, and the 
sufferer is thus released from all further 

Under the existing conditions of life in Hes- 
peros, it would be hard to over-estimate the 
importance of this law. For example, only 
for it there is nothing to prevent a court of 
justice from sentencing a prisoner to eternal 
punishment. And, as a matter of fact, one 
of the very earliest noticed cases of anoma- 
lous evanescence was the result of just such 
a sentence. 

The case occurred about three thousand 
years after the creation. At that time, 
states, governments, and courts of justice 

62 History of a World of 

had been fully established. In one of the 
larger islands not far from the northern 
continent, a somewhat turbulent citizen had, 
in a quarrel commenced by himself, * evan- 
esced' one of his neighbours, a man who 
happened to be exceedingly popular in the 
community where he dwelt. Public indig- 
nation was thereby excited to a terrible 
pitch. Cases of violent evanescence, or, as 
we should call them, murder, were frequent 
in the earlier periods; but, at the time of this 
outrage, they were beginning to be regarded 
with much disfavour. Owing to the absence 
of reproduction, it was quite plain that, unless 
this practice was discountenanced, the de- 
population of the planet was inevitable ; 
and, inasmuch as the question 'Is Life worth 
living?' had not yet been answered in the 
negative, it was resolved that the whole 
force of society should be brought to bear 
against all violent evanishers. 

This state of public opinion, combined 
with the great amiability of the victim, 

Immortals without a God, 63 

induced the judges to pass on the criminal 
a sentence which they must have believed to 
amount to eternal punishment, namely, penal 
servitude for life. Life was, at that time, 
held to be interminable, except by violence ; 
and, inasmuch as the convict in prison was 
secure from everything of the kind, the sen- 
tence could bear no other interpretation. 
However, at the end of about three years 
and a half, the prisoner, without any apparent 
lawful reason, suddenly evanesced. This 
event greatly puzzled the community where 
it occurred ; but after the discovery of the 
Second Law, there was no further mystery 
about it. The man's absolute wretchedness 
at the forlorn prospect before him of ever- 
lasting life in jail, was quite sufficient, with- 
out his undergoing any other form of physical 
suffering, to work his deliverance. The 
negative balance of ten million units was 
reached in the three years and a half, where- 
upon he departed into invisibility under the 
natural operation of the law. 

64 History of a World of 

It is obvious that the time which is required 
to make up the fixed number of metronomic 
units will depend very much on the degree 
of the intensity of the suffering undergone. 
Instances have occurred where a few days of 
exceedingly acute bodily torture have sufficed 
to raise the index to the required point. On 
the other hand, a man who is only suffering 
from chronic ennui may endure for half a 
century ; the balance against him rising by 
very slow degrees. It should also be re- 
membered that when a man who has enjoyed 
a very happy life falls into adversity, he will 
certainly have much sorrow to endure, before 
he can hope for deliverance by this beneficent 
law; for the balance on the positive side (for 
joy), which will be high, must be reduced 
quite down to zero before the negative sum- 
mation begins. 

From the above-stated facts the reader 
will have perceived that the conditions of 
rational life among the Hesperians differ 
from those experienced on the earth in 

Immortals without a God. 65 

several essential points. The most important 
of these are the three following : — The 
absence of any reproduction of the species; 
the exemption of the individual from death, 
so far as this is the result of natural and 
necessary causes ; and the cyclical waxing 
and waning of the powers of the bodily 
organism. Evanescence, though its real 
nature was unknown, had plainly, for the 
ancient Hesperians, the same significance as 
death has for us ; the only difference being 
that, with them, the dissolution of the body 
was an instantaneous act, instead of being 
effected, except when accelerated by fire, 
through the medium of a slow and loath- 
some process of decay. 


66 History of a World of 


Of the causes of the high civilization of Hesperos — Of the 
relations of the sexes — Of private personal property 
— Of property in Land ; and of the methods of Eviction 
— Of the Jacks and Masters of all Trades. 

When we bear in mind these essential 
differences of Hesperian life, the rapid de- 
velopment of civilization which took place in 
the northern hemisphere after the sudden 
introduction of the rational creation will not 
appear surprising. So far as I have been able 
to form an estimate, from the information that 
has been very freely afforded me, the newly 
created Hesperians were, both intellectually 
and morally, much on a par with the average 
of human beings. But the conditions under 
which they were placed rendered their 
advance in civilization incomparably more 

Immortals without a God. 67 

rapid than anything which a similar species, 
circumstanced as we are on the earth, could 
hope to attain. 

Their total exemption from the chronic 
paralysis of the human race which is involved 
in the incessant passage of the latter through 
the stages of infancy and childhood, would, 
by itself, be enough to give the Hesperians 
such a start in the race as to render compe- 
tition useless. With us the intelligent man 
of matured wisdom departs, carrying with 
him to the grave the greater part of his 
accumulated stores of knowledge, and all his 
skill; leaving his successor, the child, to 
recover them as well as he can. The Hes- 
perian is crossed by no such check; his 
course is one uninterrupted advance. Thus 
it came to pass that, after the lapse of a few 
thousand years, the condition of the northern 
hemisphere was, as regards every form of 
advanced civilization, a very long way ahead 
of anything even dreamed of, much less 
realized on earth. 

F 2 

68 History of a World of 

It is quite necessary that I should here say 
a few words on the relations between the 
sexes in this strange planet. On this difficult 
subject I have taken abundance of notes 
from the information I received; information 
which, I am bound to say, was given me 
without the slightest reserve. [I suppress all 
details in these notes, as public opinion, very 
rightly, ddes not permit the discussion of 
such matters.] It is obvious of itself that 
the permanence of individual life renders 
the establishment of such a life-contract as 
marriage an impossibility. Accordingly, the 
Hesperian relation which most nearly corre- 
sponds with the matrimonial institution on 
earth usually lasts for one of the cyclical 
periods already described as one of the dis- 
tinctive peculiarities of Hesperian life. This 
is, I say, the customary procedure ; but the 
relation is terminable at any time, and at 
the will of either party concerned. It should, 
of course, be remembered that, as there are 
n\> children, the disastrous consequences 

Immortals without a God. 69 

which would be the inevitable result of such 
a state of things on earth do not take place. 

As for the institution of private property, 
the same permanence of individual life gives 
it quite a different form from that which it 
assumes under the conditions of death and 
succession. Personal property, indeed, in 
our strict sense of the term, can hardly be 
said to exist at all. There being no real 
family life — for the mere dwelling together 
of a childless man and woman can scarcely 
be called by such a name — a different social 
unit has been adopted. Three or four persons 
of each sex usually reside together, thus 
forming a household numbering six or eight, 
and * property ' has commonly reference to 
the household so constituted. The reader 
will see further on that this account of pro- 
perty is only correct for the ancient history 
of the planet. 

With respect to property in land, very 
great troubles took place in the primitive 
times ; and many ages elapsed before a 

70 History of a World of 

satisfactory settlement was arrived at. Hes- 
peros is, in comparison with the earth, very 
sparsely populated. One hundred millions 
of inhabitants to forty millions of square 
miles of land, give but an average of two 
and a-half to each square mile. Now, if we 
assume that the area of England is about 
50,900 square miles — an estimate which does 
not much differ from the fact— and that the 
population (a.d. 1730) is somewhere about 
seven millions, we have above one hundred 
and thirty-seven to each square mile. In an 
island of like dimensions in Hesperos— and 
one such really exists not far from the main- 
land—there are only 127,250 inhabitants. 

Hence it would seem that the land supply 
is greatly in excess of the needs of the 
population. But there are such extraordi- 
nary differences in the eligibility of particu- 
lar sites as places for residence, that great 
competition invariably arose for those spots 
which are specially favoured by nature. 
These disputes were much aggravated by 

Immortals without a God. 71 

the conviction that the successful candidate 
had acquired a real, bona fide, and by no 
means fictitious perpetuity in the coveted 
abode. Thus tb ; bitter feuds only too 
frequently resulted in the eviction of the 
occupier by one or other of the well-known 
processes by which evanescence was brought 
about; either that of mortal lesion, which 
was commonly effected by somebody lying 
in wait for the envied tenant in some lonely 
place ; or by the slow method of the metro- 
nomic balance, carried out by imposing on 
the victim a sort of social ostracism, re- 
fusing to hold any intercourse with him, or 
indeed supply him with the necessaries of 

Matters at length proceeded to such ex- 
tremities, that the governing bodies, in 
alarm at the depopulating process, passed a 
very stringent land law, limiting the tenure 
of any holding to the period of the Life 
Cycle, which, as we have already seen, ave- 
rages one hundred years. At the end of 

72 History of a World of 

that period the estate was disposed of by 
lot, but there was no rule to prevent the 
incoming tenant from coming to terms with 
the outgoer. It must be distinctly under- 
stood, however, that, as the extent in area 
of each holding was strictly limited by law, 
there was abundance of land for everyone, 
and the dispossessed occupiers were merely 
transferred to another part of the country. 

Permanence of individual life again is the 
cause of a marked difference in Hesperos 
from anything we experience on Earth, with 
respect to the tenures of the various occupa- 
tions, trades, or professions, by the persons 
who exercise them. With us life is so short, 
and art so long, that when a man has once 
acquired the skill which is needful for his 
calling, he has but small opportunity, after 
having exercised it for a time, of ever learn- 
ing another. But eternal tailoring or shoe- 
making, or even eternal writing of poetry, 
or painting, or playing on the fiddle, could 
not be thought of. Any attempt to carry out 

Immortals without a God, 7& 

such a permanence of occupation would 
quickly terminate in the evanescence of the 
patient by the operation of the metronomic 

So here again the life cycle is usually 
adhered to ; and on its completion the sub- 
ject almost invariably adopts a new calling. 
Hence a strange state of affairs now in 
Hesperos — every man, and woman also, is 
not only Jack, but master, or mistress, of all 
trades. A friend told me that, during the 
last seven centuries of the ancient period, 
he had successively occupied the positions 
of miner, lamp-maker, cathedral- organist, 
confectioner, marine engineer, barrister- at- 
law, and maker of sun-pictures. 

74 History of a World of 


Of the Universal Language— Of the Universal Empire 
and first measures of the World-Parliament — Of the 
great progress of the Hesperians in all Physical 
Science ; and of their fruitless craving after the 
Unknown God. 

It has been already mentioned that the 
land surface of Hesperos consists of an 
immense polar continent, bordered with a 
very considerable number of islands, which 
vary greatly both in magnitude and con- 
figuration. The island populations naturally 
lived for a long period in complete separa- 
tion from each other, and the hesperographi- 
cal peculiarities of the continent, such as 
extensive chains of impassable mountains, 
produced a similar effect on the mainland. 
Hence, just as on earth, different national- 

Immortals without a God, 75 

ties came into existence ; and also, as on 
earth, each of these different nationalities 
had its own special language. But, as time 
went on, ships were invented, and communi- 
cation between the islands and the continent 
became frequent. Commerce soon assumed 
extensive proportions ; for in Hesperos, as 
in the earth, different regions abound in 
different products. Engineering operations 
also had been organized on a large scale, 
and these required much transportation of 
minerals and other materials of construc- 

In the sixth millenary period, counting 
from the rational creation, a most important 
improvement was originated by the Hes- 
perians; an improvement which brought 
still more notable changes in its wake. This 
was the adoption of one universal language 
for the globe, in room of the many which had 
sprung up in the different states. By this 
time they had fully realized their positions as 
permanent denizens of the planet, and the 

76 History of a World of 

advantages of a universal medium of com- 
munication were too obvious to need discus- 
sion. For this reason all the independent 
governments united in an international con- 
vention, and appointed a large committee 
of the most eminent philologists to consider 
the whole question. Pursuant to the report 
of this committee, a universal language was 
adopted ; and the whole Hesperian world set 
to work, resolutely, at its study. In a very 
short time the polyglot system came to an 
end, and the language still spoken over the 
whole planet was an established fact. 

The adoption of this universal language 
prepared the way for the union of all the 
separate states. into one vast empire. Thanks 
to the reckless use of the two methods of 
evanescence, the original population of one 
hundred millions had, in the lapse of ages, 
dwindled down to little more than eighty 
millions, and eighty millions were not con- 
sidered to be too large a number for a 
single administration. It is true they were 

Immortals without a God, 77 

scattered over an exceedingly wide area ; 
but, even at the time I speak of, an admir- 
able system of communication had been 
organized. The sciences of mechanics and 
chemistry had made astonishing progress, 
and natural forces had been discovered and 
utilised for the purpose of locomotion. Of 
these, however, a fuller account will be 
given further on. 

Here it will suffice to mention that, in the 
year 5784, the whole northern hemisphere 
was finally united under one central admin- 
istration, chosen by the suffrage of the 
whole Hesperian population, male and 
female alike. For it should be noticed that, 
as a consequence of the female sex being 
exempt from the cares of maternity, they 
take a much larger share in the pursuits of 
the other sex than would be at all desirable, 
or even possible, with us. 

Two highly important measures were at 
once agreed to by the world-parliament — 
first, the limitation of tenure of land to the 

78 History of a World of 

cyclical period of life, which had been al- 
ready adopted by most nationalities, was 
made a universal law ; and, secondly, very 
stringent penalties were annexed to the 
crime of procuring the evanescence of any 
one. Whether it was effected directly or 
indirectly no difference was made in the 
penalty, which was evanescence of the per- 
petrator by the ten-million-unit process 
applied by a cat-o'-nine tails. 

Some years later another resolution was 
passed to the effect that it is inexpedient 
that any city should be allowed to exceed 
the limit of one hundred thousand inhabi- 
tants. This was issued rather as a recom- 
mendation than as a binding statute; but 
its expediency was so plain that it was 
almost universally adopted. The legislature 
were induced to pass it, in consequence of 
the congestion of the population at Lason- 
dre, which had been unanimously selected 
as the metropolis and seat of government. 
The natural advantages of its situation, at 

Immortals without a God. 79 

the head of a vast indentation of the conti- 
nent by a bay of the central ocean, its 
magnificent scenery and delightful climate, 
rendered it so desirable a residence, that, at 
the time when this resolution was passed, 
the population had already reached the in- 
credible number of two millions ; it was still 
on the increase, and the resulting incon- 
veniences were so manifold and severe, that 
it was further resolved to emigrate the 
superabundant citizens gradually, by the 
help of the cyclical law. 

It must not be supposed that, during all 
the ages which had elapsed before the 
establishment of the world-parliament, spe- 
culation had not been rife among the Hes- 
perians as to the nature and significance of 
the sudden and mysterious wakening into 
life which they had all simultaneously ex- 
perienced. Quite the reverse was the fact. 
From the very earliest period, even from the 
time when small groups of them had in- 
vented the first rude forms of speech, the 

80 History of a World of 

questions how they had been formed, how 
summoned into life, whence had they come, 
and whither were they going, had been 
started, discussed, solved, the solutions re- 
jected, abandoned for a time as hopeless, 
again resumed, and as zealously as ever 
re-discussed, with the same results as before. 
All were agreed that Something had made 
them, and had made them for some purpose. 
But that the Something either could not or 
would not speak to them, or hold any sort of 
communication with them was a patent fact, 
and this caused unutterable sorrow to the 
Hesperian mind. 

In the earlier ages all persons were so 
much engrossed with the cares unavoidable 
for the supply of the necessaries of life; 
and, besides, were so deeply interested in 
investigating the physical laws of the world 
in which they were placed, that this increas- 
ing source of grief and anxiety did not 
produce as much effect upon them as it did 
in later times. But even then there was 

Immortals without a God, 81 

hardly a small town to be found which had 
not, among its public buildings, some sort 
of a temple, with the inscription ' To the 
Unknown God,' whom they ignorantly wor- 
shipped and longed after, but in vain. 

And, not only were they in this state of 
darkness respecting their Maker in conse- 
quence of the absence of any form of a 
direct revelation, but, being absolutely cut 
off from all knowledge of the remainder of 
the universe, by the physical structure of 
their atmosphere, they were also debarred 
from reaching Him through the medium of 
His works. The cloud-screen which shelters 
them from the fierce solar rays is impene- 
trable to vision, and thus, so far as any 
knowledge of the sun, and planets, and stars 
is concerned, they might as well have been 
a race of blind men. How it was that the 
canopy over their heads passed regularly in 
the course of about twenty-three hours and 
a-half through the two phases of brightness 
and darkness, was to them an inexplicable 


82 . History of a World of 

phenomenon. All sorts of conjectures, hy- 
potheses, theories, were hazarded, but none 
were accepted. The phenomenon was not 
even universal. At one place, near the 
centre of the continent, and for a consider- 
able distance around it, the alternation of 
light and darkness followed quite a different 
law. For, instead of the change taking 
place at intervals of a few hours, light shone 
steadily for more than a hundred and twenty 
days, and was followed by nearly as long a 
period of darkness. It was an inscrutable 
puzzle. Some said that on one or two oc- 
casions a round and shining body had been 
dimly seen for a few moments through the 
mist, and that this might possibly have 
something to do with the illumination. But 
the fact was discredited, and the alleged 
appearance ascribed either to an optical 
illusion or deliberate mendacity. The ob- 
servers, accordingly, being invariably treated 
with either contempt or personal violence* 
the theory disappeared. 

Immortals without a God. 83 

Meanwhile great progress continued to be 
made in all departments of physical science. 
The various branches of mathematics were 
extensively and successfully studied, and the 
Hesperians became most expert geometers. 
The art of ship-building was soon carried 
to a high pitch of excellence, and various 
methods of propelling the vessels through 
the water were devised by the mechanical 
engineers. Some such artificial propulsion 
was almost indispensable, as the prevailing 
calms rendered the use of sails unavailable. 
One of the earliest motive powers exten- 
sively employed was the expansive force of 
the vapour of water, raised at a high tem- 
perature ; and for many hundred years these 
curious ships were in actual use. I have 
seen several of them which are still kept in 
a vast marine museum at Lasondre. The 
vapour-engines propelled the ships either by 
means of great wheels furnished with boards 
which turned in the water, or by the action 
of one or more screws at the stern, which 

G 2 

84 History of a World of 

worked much as the tail of a fish does in 
shoving the animal along. But the use of 
the vapour of water as a motor was found to 
involve a terrible waste of power, and it has 
been long since abandoned. 

The progress of chemical science led to 
the discovery of an inexhaustible supply of 
force, which combines all the advantages 
of small cost, extreme portability, resistless 
strength, immunity from risk, and universal 
applicability. All this was obtained by the 
steady work and indomitable perseverance 
of three chemists who, contrary to usage, 
devoted themselves to this one branch of 
science for several consecutive cyclical 
periods of their career. Not being skilled 
in chemical learning, I was unable to com- 
prehend the nature of their discovery ; but 
I was told that it consisted in the applica- 
tion of certain laws of combination among 
various gases, each of which is easy to 
manufacture and store up. 

Immortals uithout a God. 85 


Of the firs*- attempt to pass the Equatorial Tornado ; and 
its tragical issue — Of the attempt to pass the Cloud- 

These improvements in ship-building and 
ship-propelling were naturally followed by 
a great development of the science of navi- 
gation, to which the mathematical powers 
of the Hesperians formed an invaluable 
auxiliary. And thus all that was possible for 
them to ascertain concerning the. physical 
universe was soon learned. The circumna- 
vigation of the globe was easily effected, for 
the shape of the continent was such that it 
could be made without going out of sight of 
land. Other and more adventurous ships 
were sent on voyages of discovery in a 


History of a World of 

southerly direction, and these made the dis- 
covery of the frightful tempest, mentioned 
before, which rages everlastingly in the 
equatorial zone. Not one of these ships 
succeeded in getting within two hundred 
miles of the equator itself. The crews 
reported unanimously that, even at that 
distance, the seas were simply terrific, and 
appeared to increase rapidly in violence 
towards the south. Some of them escaped 
from the vortex with extreme difficulty. 

Whereupon two ships were specially con- 
structed for the purpose of carrying out this 
exploration. They were of extraordinary 
strength, fitted with immensely powerful 
gas-engines, and provided with a seemingly 
inexhaustible supply of the necessary che- 
mical agents. A crew of one hundred 
volunteers embarked in each, and they 
started together on their perilous expedi- 
tion. After eighty-five days one of these 
ships returned, but only twenty-five of 
her crew were with her; the rest had 

Immortals without a God, 87 

vanished either by mortal lesion or metro- 
nomic misery. The survivors reported the 
existence of an absolute pandemonium. The 
crew had succeeded in forcing the ship about 
fifty miles further into the zone of tempests 
than any of the former explorers. But fur- 
ther progress was hopeless. The man who 
before described to me one of the waves as 
a wandering cataract was among those who 
escaped, and his escape was a very narrow 
one indeed. He told me himself that when 
he got back into port his negative metro- 
nomic balance wanted but a few units of 
the point which would have terminated his 
career. And though they succeeded in forc- 
ing their way out of the tornado, this was 
only accomplished by putting on such power 
as threatened to tear the sides out of the 
ship. One of the Niagara-like waves fell 
on the sister-ship, and she was never seen 

After this tragedy an act was passed for- 
bidding all attempts to enter the South Sea. 

&8 History of a World of 

Though many volunteers were ready to risk 
their lives, the legislature refused to sanc- 
tion such peril. 

So now the Hesperian knowledge of the 
Universe, at the period I speak of, may be 
shortly summed up as follows : — They knew 
that their place of abode was a spherical cap. 
Some had at first maintained that it was a 
circular plain ; but this theory was soon 
exploded. The uniformly circular horizon 
visible at sea, and on every large plain, and 
the results obtained from a general survey 
of the continent by triangulation, combined 
to discredit the planar and establish the 
spherical theory. They knew, also, from 
pendulum and other experiments, that, at 
a spot coincident with the centre of the 
presumed sphere on which they lived, an 
unknown centre of force existed to which 
all bodies on the surface tended. And 
beyond this knowledge there was a great 
blank. What lay outside the cloud-screen 
or beyond the equatorial ocean had not 

Immortals without a God. 89 

entered into the Hesperian mind to con- 

The attempt to pass the ocean, and the 
hopes of thereby being enabled to gain some 
further knowledge of the works of the 
Unknown Maker, having been completely 
baffled, the attention of the Hesperians was 
at once concentrated on their only remain- 
ing resource — the possibility of penetrating 
quite through the cloud-screen. Could this 
be passed, it was possible that something 
might be found beyond it which would 
throw some light on the dark problem of 
their origin. But difficulties, seemingly in- 
superable, lay directly in the way of any 
such attempt. I have already mentioned 
that a chain of gigantic mountains extends 
in a south-easterly direction for several thou- 
sands of miles from the vicinity of the North 
Pole, and that several of the peaks of this 
chain attain an altitude of not less than 
twenty miles. But, to the ancient Hespe- 
rians, the real height of these peaks was 

90 History of a World of 

quite unknown. No man had ever seen 
their summits, for they were lost in the 

It might certainly be supposed that here 
was an obvious way of entering, and 
possibly penetrating through the screen. 
But a very short description of the physical 
features of the mountains will suffice to 
dispel any such notions. 

All the engineers who had made a minute 
survey of the great mountain chain seem to 
have agreed that the particular peak which 
afforded the most favourable opportunity 
for ascent is one which is situated at about 
three thousand miles from the pole. It 
should be remembered that the level of the 
cloud-screen crosses these peaks at an alti- 
tude of about twenty miles, or, in round 
numbers, one hundred and five thousand 

At the place referred to, the several 
stages of the ascent would be as follows :— 
First, about twenty thousand feet of easy 

Immortals without a God. 91 

slopes lead to a wide table-land, a resort 
much frequented by Hesperian households 
on account of its delightfully cool, and 
bracing climate. Then follow ten thousand 
feet of steep ascent to the glacier region. 
This region, which is commonly regarded as 
the most formidable obstacle to success, 
extends, at an average inclination of forty- 
five degrees, to a vertical height of twenty 
thousand feet more. The strata of rain- 
clouds, which are as different in formation 
from the cloud -screen as water is from 
smoke, never attain a greater elevation 
than ten miles ; so here we have the limit 
above which neither rain nor snow can be 
deposited, and where, consequently, the 
glacier region ends. 

This brings us to an altitude of fifty 
thousand feet above the level of the ocean, 
and next comes the region of precipices 
which stretch up to the cloud-screen. This 
final ascent is divided into three gigantic 
steps ; the first, and smallest of them, about 

92 History of a World of 

ten thousand feet high, leads to a wide 
plateau ; next comes the most awful of the 
three, not less than thirty thousand feet, 
terminating in a much narrower terrace, 
from which starts the last of the steps. 
This is not exactly a precipice, but a slope 
of seventy-five degrees; about fifteen thou- 
sand feet of this are visible ; it then enters 
the cloud and is lost to view. 

The above description has, I trust, made 
it manifest that an attempt to reach the 
screen by the mountain route would prove 
a very arduous undertaking. Vast labour 
and cost would be essential, and here the 
advantages of the great world-parliament 
became exceedingly conspicuous. The 
enterprise was cheerfully voted to be a 
world-work. There was no fear that it 
would come to an untimely end through 
lack of any material supplies. A committee 
of the . ablest engineers was appointed to 
examine and report on the most favourable 
spot for commencing operations. They 

Immortals without a God. 93 

were not long in coming to an unanimous 
decision, and the works began. 

It was resolved to drive a tunnel the 
whole way from the table-land under the 
glacier as far as its upper edge. This for- 
midable work was found to be quite indis- 
pensable, in consequence of the incessant 
avalanches and ice-falls which, issuing from 
the glacier, fell down the steep slope to the 
table-land. Indeed, they were obliged to 
start the tunnel at a distance of fully five 
miles from the foot of the slope, as a 
security against the blocking of the en- 
trance. Running nearly horizontally for 
these five miles, it then bent upwards at an 
angle of forty-five degrees, and, after a total 
rise of thirty thousand feet, issued at the 
top of the glacier, close to the foot of the 
first step in the series of precipices. The 
excavation of this tunnel, which was nearly 
thirteen miles long, was an exceedingly 
formidable task. But it was undertaken 
with such zeal and energy, and carried on 

94 History of a World of 

with such perseverance, that the seemingly 
insuperable obstacles were at last overcome. 
Gangs of experienced miners, superintended 
by skilful engineers, relieved each other, 
night and day, at the work. Every material 
required was supplied in profusion. The 
new dynamical agent which had supplanted 
the vapour of water as a motor force, had 
been rendered available for instantaneous 
percussive action, after the manner of gun- 
powder, but with incomparably greater 
energy ; and this was extensively utilised 
for the removal of the rocks. Still, as it 
was not possible to work at the tunnel 
except on one face, several years elapsed 
before the miners emerged into daylight at 
the top of the glacier. 

Here, before beginning the assault on the 
region of precipices, an immense depot was 
established. The tunnel was laid down with 
double lines of the same sort of parallel 
steel rods as those which I had noticed on 
the road at Lucetta. On these ran a series 

Immortals without a God. 95, 

of small trucks, driven by an endless chain 
which was moved by the gas engine before- 
mentioned ; and by means of these all. the 
stores required were easily brought up. 

At the height of fifty thousand feet, which 
had now been reached, little or no difficulty 
in breathing was encountered. This was 
probably owing to the extreme density of 
the Hesperian atmosphere, which, as was 
noticed before, is so great that the mercury 
in the tube of Torricelli, at the sea level, 
stands at an average height of more than 
fifty-nine inches. Moreover, the slow rate 
at which it was observed to fall, during the 
ascent of the last few thousand feet, gave 
the engineers good hope that, even at the 
summit, a sufficiency of air to support life 
would be found. 

The ascent of all the three stages of the 
precipice region was effected by the process 
of cutting open galleries, inclined at an 
angle of thirty degrees, in the face of the 
vertical cliff. The region of ice and snow 
having been passed, tunnelling was no 


\Historyofa World of 

longer necessary. Four zigzags, each a 
mile long, sufficed to reach the first terrace, 
where another depot was constructed ; and 
a few years' more labour, and about a dozen 
similar zigzags, accomplished the ascent of 
the tremendous middle precipice, thus 
bringing them within fifteen thousand feet 
of the cloud-screen. 

As the great work neared its completion, 
the anxiety and excitement, not only of 
those actually engaged in it, but of the 
entire population of the planet, rose to a 
scarcely conceivable intensity. It was now 
plain that the cloud level would be reached ; 
but no light had as yet been thrown on 
the question whether the mountain top did 
or did not pass through the cloudy stratum. 
If it did not, all their labour of years had 
been merely thrown away, and they were 
left as before in absolute ignorance of the 
external universe. And the fact that the 
ascent which still remained to be scaled, 
was not absolutely vertical, but, sloping a 
little, even at its foot on the last terrace, 

Immortals without a God, 97 

appeared to diminish its inclination as it 
approached the cloud, gave reason to 
suspect that the actual summit of the 
mountain was not very far off. It may be 
added that the cloud itself, as they came 
nearer, presented an unpromising appear- 
ance of great density. 

So, the final depot having been con- 
structed, the work on the last series of 
galleries was begun and carried on with 
greatly increased vigour, till an altitude 
only a few yards lower than the under 
surface of the cloud was gained. At this 
place the angle of inclination of the cliff had 
eased off to sixty-three degrees, and it was 
thought advisable, in view of the unknown 
possibilities of the mountain inside this 
thick screen, to establish, by blasting away 
the rock, a level surface of sufficient extent 
to enable them to build yet another store- 
house, before venturing to proceed with the 
sloping gallery. 


98 History of a World of 


Of the great courage of three engineers— How they passed 
the Screen and saw the Host of Heaven— How they 
further discovered a Disk of Unknown Fire— Of the 
reception of the news throughout the world— Of the 
construction of a mountain Observatory ; and of the 
rapid growth of Astronomical knowledge. 

The levelling of the rock was necessarily a 
work which required a good deal of time; 
and, while it was proceeding, three of the 
engineers formed the daring project of 
scrambling up the cliff, into the cloud, and 
endeavouring to penetrate through it by 
themselves. All the three were in the sta- 
tionary period of life, and, consequently, in 
the possession of full bodily strength and 
activity. The cliff was in most places rough 
enough to give good hold for both hands 
and feet. Still, to venture on a climb 

Immortals without a God. 99 

through a dense mist, on the face of a nearly 
precipitous and wholly unknown mountain, 
where a single slip would be certainly fol- 
lowed by immediate destruction, was re- 
garded by their comrades as too hazardous 
to be thought of. 

But the three were not to be dissuaded — 
I ought, perhaps, to mention that it is to 
one of these daring men I am indebted for 
the account of the whole expedition. Their 
preparations were soon complete, for their 
equipment was very simple ; each of them 
took about one pound weight of some 
sort of food in a highly concentrated form, 
and a flask containing a pint of water. 
Water, it may be observed, was valuable at 
this elevation, for every drop had to be 
carried up from the glacier region. Each 
man also carried a coil of about five hundred 
yards of fine, but very strong twine. This 
was intended to be used as a clue to guide 
them back to the camp. Fixing an end of 
one of these coils to the wall of their store, 

h 2 

100 History of a World of 

they started on their perilous journey at two 
o'clock in the afternoon. Without very 
much difficulty they scrambled up to the 
edge of the cloud, and there disappeared 
from the sight of their friends, most of 
whom believed that they had gone mad. 

As a proof of the great care and skill 
with which the works had been carried on, I 
may here remark that, up to this time, but 
one fatal accident had occurred. This was 
during the construction of the galleries on 
the face of the thirty-thousand-feet precipice. 
The top had been nearly reached, when a 
man, who was heaving a fragment of rock 
over the edge, lost his balance, and fell 
with the fragment. His horrified comrades 
watched his terrible fall, unbroken for about 
twenty thousand feet; there he touched a 
projecting spur of the rock, and evanesced 
instantly, mortal lesion having been made. 

As soon as the three adventurers had 
entered the cloud they had the satisfaction 
of finding that, at all events, one possible 

Immortals without a God, 101 

obstacle, an obstacle which might have 
proved fatal to the success of the whole 
undertaking, had no existence. It had been 
feared that the atmosphere of the cloud- 
screen might turn out to be unfit for the 
support of animal life. But they found no 
difficulty in breathing. The extreme tenuity 
of the air, of course, rendered active exer- 
tion very laborious and exhausting, and 
thus, though the rock was not unfavourable 
for climbing, their upward progress was 
exceedingly slow. They often encountered 
difficulties which were quite insuperable, and 
which compelled them, retracing their steps, 
and recoiling their clue, to seek another line 
of ascent. 

As they slowly attained a higher altitude, 
it became quite plain that the angle of 
inclination was steadily becoming less. Be- 
fore long it reached fifty degrees, and this 
change of slope, though it eased their climb, 
caused great apprehension to the climbers, 
for it seemed to indicate an approach to the 

102 History of a World of 

top, and certainly no signs of any abatement 
in the density of the mist had yet become 
visible. To reach the summit while still 
wrapped in the cloud would be the death- 
blow to all their hopes. 

This angle of fifty degrees continued un- 
altered for a considerable distance. At 
about six o'clock, after four hours' hard 
work, they came to the end of their second 
coil of string. Night was evidently coming 
on ; they sat down on a small ledge of rock, 
and after taking some refreshment, they 
fastened their last coil to the string already 
paid out, resolved to proceed till it also came 
to an end. 

A few hundred feet further on the slope 
suddenly grew much steeper, and this, 
requiring additional exertion in the very 
thin air, soon produced such exhaustion in 
two of the party, that they were obliged to 
stop again and rest 

By this time it had become quite dark, 
and the third engineer, who was still in as 

Immortals without a God. 103 

vigorous a condition as when he started from 
the camp, imagined that he perceived over- 
head through the mist what seemed to be 
small twinkling lights. Immediately he re- 
sumed the ascent, and still holding the clue, 
climbed a few yards higher up the mountain. 
And then he stopped and held on to the steep 
rock with both his hands, while he looked 
at the great Host of Heaven shining in the 
black depths of space. The cloud termi- 
nated above as abruptly as it began below. 
He had reached the edge, and the vision 
came upon him suddenly. 

When he recovered his speech he called 
softly to his companions to follow up the clue, 
for the cloud was passed. They struggled 
up with difficulty, and then all three stood 
together in silent wonder at the spectacle 
before them. They had not the slightest 
conception of its meaning ; what the lights 
were ; whether connected or not with their 
own abode ; what were their distances ; were 
they living beings — for a falling star, which 

104 History of a World of 

suddenly flashed across the sky, suggested 
this question. Seen through that exceeding 
thin air, the splendour of the stars and planets 
was greater than what we, who have only 
seen them through a much denser medium, 
are able to conceive. Conspicuous above 
them all in beauty and brightness was the 
earth itself, which, being then in opposition, 
was at its least distance from the observers. 
When in that position, the earth presents to 
the Hesperians a much more brilliant object 
than their planet does to us. For, though 
not receiving as great a supply of light from 
the sun as Hesperos does, this deficiency 
is far more than balanced by the fact that, 
when in opposition, the whole of the illumi- 
nated face of the earth is visible at Hesperos, 
while only an exceedingly thin crescent of 
Hesperos is visible at the earth. 

Notwithstanding the intense coldness of 
the air, they stood for a long time contem- 
plating the wondrous illumination. At last 
they became conscious of a change in the 

Immortals without a God, 105< 

scene. The small lights began to grow dim, 
while the light diffused around them in- 
creased. The upper surface of the sea of 
cloud which lay stretched out on all sides, 
a few feet below them, gradually manifested 
itself as a smooth greyish -coloured plain. 
Behind them, towards the east, the mountain 
still sloped steeply up ; but, at no great 
height above their heads, the top was dis 
tinctly visible. They resolved to continue 
the ascent, having first fastened the end 
of their clue, which was now unnecessary, 
to a conspicuous projection of rock about 
a hundred feet above the upper cloud sur- 

The remainder of the climb, which was 
hardly a thousand feet more, was easily 
accomplished by the three engineers, now 
rested and reinvigorated by success. And, 
on reaching the summit, which proved to be 
a small and nearly level platform of rock, 
they were rewarded with another spectacle 
totally different in kind, but fully as astonish- 

1 06 History qf a World of 

ing as that which met their eyes when they 
emerged from the cloud. 

By this time every trace of the heavenly 
lights had vanished, and they beheld on all 
sides of them a perfectly uniform and level 
plain. At one point, towards the east of this 
plain, an object was visible which at once ab- 
sorbed the entire attention of the three. A 
very small segment of a fiery circle bordered 
on the horizon, shedding a track of bright 
light over the cloudy sea, which lay about a 
thousand feet below them. As they gazed 
and gazed on the fiery segment, it soon 
became plain that the segment belonged to 
a burning circular disk which was rising out 
of the cloud. The segment quickly grew 
into a semicircle; a few minutes more, and 
the whole disk became visible, left the cloud, 
and mounted slowly in the sky. At the same 
time the vast plain took a snow-white colour 
of dazzling radiance, and the heat emitted 
from the disk became so intense that the 
three mountaineers retreated quickly into 

Immortals without a God. 107 

the shadow of the peak by descending a few 
steps on the western side. One thing had 
become quite clear to them, namely, the 
cause of the daily illumination of the cloud- 
screen. It was evidently the great disk of 
unknown fire, which was still mounting in 
the air and travelling towards the west. 

Obviously no delay was to be made in 
descending to the camp and communicating 
to their comrades the tidings of the com- 
plete success of the expedition. They were 
obliged to use great caution on the downward 
journey. All mountaineers are aware that 
the descent of a very steep slope, where a 
single slip would be fatal, is a much more 
ticklish process than its ascent, insomuch that 
some have ventured to affirm that few great 
ascents would be made if the descent came 
first. By two o'clock in the afternoon they 
had accomplished the descent of the open 
part of the mountain ; they easily found the 
string fastened to the projecting rock, and, 
re-entering the cloud, and guided by the 

108 History of a World of 

clue, they very slowly, but without accident, 
found their way back to the camp, which 
they reached about six o'clock in the 

The reader will easily understand the joy 
which the safe return of the three engineers 
occasioned in the camp, and the intense 
interest with which their story of the 
marvels visible beyond the cloud was 
listened to. Their report was hastily com- 
mitted to writing, sent down by the tram- 
ways, and circulated through the world 
with all speed. Operations were instantly 
resumed at the gallery, which had still to 
be driven through the cloud stratum. It 
was resolved to continue it right up to the 
top of the mountain, for the report of the 
engineers rendered it quite plain that an 
extensive observatory must be established 
there, and that a corps of the ablest mathe- 
maticians and best trained physical observers 
must take up their permanent abode in it, 
in order to investigate the nature and 

Immortals without a God. 109 

meaning of the myriad smaller lights and 
the great fiery disk. 

Meanwhile, during the progress of the 
works, many of the artificers who were in 
the prime of life, repeated the ascent which 
had been so successfully accomplished by 
the three pioneers ; with the guidance of the 
clue, this was now a comparatively easy 
undertaking. Before the lapse of three 
years the first Hesperian observatory had 
been actually built, and a body of twenty- 
five of the ablest scientific men entered upon 
the study of practical and theoretical as- 
tronomy in that elevated abode. As a 
protection against the violence of the un- 
screened solar rays, a cavern was excavated in 
which the observers could pass the daytime 
at their calculations, and, issuing forth at 
nightfall, they laboriously watched the stars. 

The speed with which these men found 
out the clue to the explanation of the com- 
plicated phenomena before them, would be 
quite incredible to anyone who did not bear 

110 History of a World of 

in mind the remarkable conditions under 
which they worked. This was no case of a 
gang of stolid country bumpkins contem- 
plating for the first time the starry heavens. 
Every one of the observers was an expert 
geometer, was perfectly familiar with all 
kinds of algebraical calculation, and had 
been trained for centuries in every type of phy- 
sical observation and experiment. Before the 
discoveiy of the heavenly world telescopes 
had been invented ; but, being adapted for 
use on the surface of the planet only, they 
were all of small size. The vast field for 
observation now disclosed, created a demand 
for a much more powerful class of instru- 
ments, and the stimulus thus given to 
opticians soon showed its effect in most 
important improvements in the manufacture 
of glass. Before many years were over, high 
class astronomical instruments were attain- 
able, including those by which angles can 
be measured to an extraordinary degree of 

Immortals without a God, in 

Thus the great rapidity with which this 
able band of observers succeeded in reducing 
the chaos of the fields of heaven to an orderly 
cosmos may be explained. I need not at- 
tempt to recount the successive steps in 
their marvellous progress. A very few days 
after they began their systematic labour, one 
of them suggested the real rotation of the 
planet on her axis as the cause of the 
apparent diurnal movement of the celestial 
sphere. This conjecture was speedily veri- 
fied by pendulum experiments at the pole. 
Then followed the discoveries of the distinc- 
tion between stars and planets and satellites; 
the distances and magnitudes of the planets ; 
the position of their own world among them, 
and the dependence of the whole solar 
system on the sun. In short, by the close 
of the ninth millenary period, the Hesperian 
astronomy was a long way in advance of 
anything even now known on earth. 

In the ancient history of Hesperos this 
discovery of the external world forms by far 

112 History of a World of 

the most important epoch, and, for several 
centuries, the study of astronomy seems to 
have absorbed a great part of the energies 
of the inhabitants. Two other places were 
found on the mountain chains of the north, 
where, by going through the same kind of 
works as those detailed above — some of them 
involving even greater difficulties in their 
execution — peaks which rose above the 
cloud were reached, and observatories built 
upon them. It thus became possible to com- 
pare observations taken at different parts of 
the surface, and astronomical discoveries 
proceeded with still greater rapidity. 

Immortals without a God. 113 


Of the development of World-Weariness in Hesperos ; and 
of the second attempt to cross the Equatorial Tornado 
— How the Forlorn Hope succeeded, and discovered a 
City of the Dead — How the terrible mystery of Evanes- 
cence was explained ; and how the crew set out on 
their return. 

But, notwithstanding the signal success 
which had attended their labours, there 
can be no doubt that during the next 
thousand years a general feeling of gloom 
and despondence gradually settled down 
over the Hesperian race. That the brilliant 
discoveries of the astronomers had failed to 
throw the faintest glimmer of light on the 
question of questions — Who was their 
Maker? — was a fact which could not be 
disguised. An answer to this was as far 
off as ever — further off, indeed. They had 


114 History of a World of 

learned the enormous extent of the universe, 
and, as a consequence, that the Hesperians, 
so far from exhausting its contents, were no 
more than insignificant specks in its un- 
fathomed deeps. In the vast profusion of 
worlds they felt themselves lost. If their 
Maker had charge of that vast universe, he 
might well have forgotten them altogether. 
Why, then, should they not depart from life ? 
The door of exit was always open. A fall 
down the nearest precipice was always easy, \ 
and the instantaneous dissolution of the body 
was an unfailing remedy for every ill. 

This feeling of discontent with life, or 
general world-weariness, reached a climax 
in the concluding years of this period ; and 
its existence in the mind of a small band of 
practical engineers was certainly the main 
cause which led to the terrible discovery that 
placed an indelible line of distinction between 
the ancient and modern Hesperian histories. 

Although the northern hemisphere only 
was accessible for exploration, it was by this 

Immortals without a God. 115 

time perfectly well known that the planet is 
a sphere. Hence they considered it not at 
all improbable that, to the calms of the north, 
a similar condition in the south might cor- 
respond ; and that the chronic hurricane 
which had hitherto barred the passage to the 
southern ocean might prove to be confined 
to a zone not exceeding a few hundred miles 
in width. Should this be the case, it might 
perhaps be passed, and a southern continent 
discovered. This would greatly develop as- 
tronomical science ; nothing less than a 
hemisphere of unseen stars might be brought 
into vision. Moreover, a transit of Mercury 
across the face of the sun would take place 
in a few years ; and, in order to utilise this, 
a place of observation in the southern hemi- 
sphere was essential. 

It occurred to one of these engineers that, ship floating on the surface of the 
ocean could possibly live in the equatorial 
tornado, it might be practicable to devise a 
submarine vessel which, by sinking to a very 

1 2 

116 History of a World of 

great depth below the surface, could traverse 
the four or five hundred miles of raging 
cataracts, and then, emerging from the 
depths, might find a smoother sea. 

It was plain, however, that whoever ven- 
tured on such service must be content to 
incur imminent risk of utter destruction. No 
one could venture to guess how far down- 
wards the seemingly preternatural disturb- 
ance might reach ; or what horrors fatal to 
every form of life might be met in those 
frightful abysses. So, except for that feeling 
of weariness of life which was fast growing 
through the world, it is not at all likely that 
a body of volunteers, sufficiently numerous, 
could have been found for a service of such 
exceeding peril. In one respect, indeed, 
but only in one, this new enterprise had not 
as terrible an aspect as that which had been 
undertaken by the earlier and unsuccessful 
voyagers to the south. These earlier voy- 
agers had actually ventured on the Infinite, 
for they had no clue to the shape or extent 

Immortals ivithont a God. 117 

of their world ; but, thanks to the astrono- 
mers, it was now well known that the planet 
is, at all events, bounded in every direction. 
The engineer communicated his plan to 
some of his comrades, and, after trying a 
great many experiments in submarine navi- 
gation on a small scale, they succeeded in 
constructing a model boat, which promised 
well for success. Their next step was to 
collect a sufficient number of volunteers ; 
they considered that fifty would suffice. 
Owing to the desponding feeling then pre- 
valent, the fifty, a forlorn hope, were soon 
found. They then applied to the world- 
parliament for the funds necessary for build- 
ing and fitting out the ship, which would be 
a very costly undertaking, in consequence 
of the enormous strength which would be 
requisite to resist the water pressure at the 
great depths to which they would be con- 
strained to descend. But, in the interest of 
scientific discovery, the funds were readily 
supplied ; the works were commenced without 

118 History of a World of 

any delay; and, in about two years, the 
ship was complete. It was lavishly supplied 
with stores of food, and force, and every 
requisite that could be conceived ; and the 
fifty embarked and started for the south ; 
none of them expecting, or indeed much 
wishing, ever to return. 

All of them were excellent engineers, and 
practised astronomers ; indeed the hope of 
extending the field of the latter science had 
certainly some influence in stirring them up 
to their expedition. They continued on the 
surface of the water till they approached the 
stormy region. Into this they penetrated, 
still keeping on the surface, till the violence 
of the waves became so great that it was no 
longer possible to steer the ship. They then 
stopped the propelling engines, and opening 
the valves which admitted water into the 
tanks, sank slowly into the deep. At the 
depth of five hundred feet they found the sea 
quite still, and they started the propellers 
again. But, a few miles farther on they 

Immortals without a God, 119 

had to go five hundred feet lower. As they 
approached the line of the equator itself they 
were obliged by degrees to go lower and 
lower, till at last an immersion of two thou- 
sand feet was reached ; and, at this depth they 
forced their way for about two hundred miles. 
The ship behaved admirably. Notwith- 
standing a pressure exceeding a thousand 
pounds on the square inch, not a trace of a 
leak could be discovered. At last they 
thought they might venture to rise a little ; 
so, by altering the inclination of the pro- 
pellers they gradually ascended about a 
thousand feet without any unpleasant result. 
At this height, signs of water disturbance 
rendered it inexpedient to continue their 
upward progress till they had made another 
fifty miles of their voyage. Thqy then as- 
cended five hundred feet more; at that depth 
the water was rough, but practicable. Fifty 
miles further, they ventured to force the 
water out of the tanks, and rise to the 
surface. This they did very slowly and 

120 History of a World of 

cautiously, and on emerging they found that 
tjie zone of tornadoes was passed. The sea 
was still exceedingly rough ; but looking 
back towards the north, it was easy to see, 
from the much greater violence of the waves 
in that quarter, that they had left the equa- 
torial hurricanes behind them. 

They were now in the southern hemisphere, 
and, as well as they could compute, about 
two hundred and fifty miles south of the 
equator. The total width of the belt of 
storms, at the place where they had crossed 
it, they estimated at five hundred miles. As 
they proceeded towards the south, the sea 
became smoother and smoother, till they 
reached a region of nearly perfect calm. 
They resolved to hold on their course, due 
south, till they either reached land or the 
South Pole itself. 

On the ninth day after their emergence 
they sighted land. The country was evi- 
dently mountainous ; overhead, the cloudy 
screen continued unbroken, and seemingly 

Immortals without a God, 121 

at the same elevation as in the north. Soon 
the ship was near enough to the shore for 
the crew to be able to discern unmistakable 
signs of life ; and, on rounding a headland, 
a city of moderate size came into view. The 
style of the buildings was in no way different 
from that which was familiar to them at 
home. As they cast anchor a few hundred 
yards from the shore, they could see that the 
pier was densely crowded with people, who 
had been evidently attracted by the strangely- 
shaped vessel. 

Presently one of the crew, taking up a 
spy-glass, leaned on the handrail and took a 
steady look at the people on the pier. He 
had not gazed for more than a few seconds 
when he suddenly turned as white as a sheet, 
staggered back a couple of steps, and, gasping 
for breath, handed the glass to the man be- 
side him. The captain asked him what was 
the matter — ' It is a City of the Dead,' he 
stammered, in a voice all but inarticulate 
with terror. 

122 History of a World of 

A like expression of horror came over the 
second man's face, as he also looked through 
the telescope. And no wonder at it. The 
people who were standing on the pier had 
lived with them in the north, and were be- 
lieved to have vanished from life for ever. 
A feeling like that which arises on earth in 
the presence of a ghostly visitor came over 
the crew. They were plainly face to face 
with some terrible mystery, which was now 
to be cleared up. 

Meanwhile a boat with several rowers 
pushed off from the pier and came swiftly 
towards the ship. As she approached, 
several of the engineers recognized in the 
steerer the man who had perished on the 
awful precipice which leads up to the great 
observatory of the north. When the boat 
came within hail, this man shouted, * We 
have been expecting you for some time, 
and we congratulate you on your submarine 
passage.' So it was plain that these myste- 
rious people knew all about the expedition. 

Immortals without a God, 123 

They saw the consternation of the engineers, 
but evidently did not reciprocate their con- 
fusion. On the other hand, all seemed 
highly delighted at the arrival of their old 
friends. More boats came out to the ship, 
and the crew were speedily landed. The 
citizens received them with great kindness ; 
took them hospitably into their houses, and, 
when the astonished guests had rested, and 
recovered a little from their state of utter 
stupefaction, the supposed ghosts communi- 
cated to them the history of their adventures 
in the southern hemisphere. 

The substance of what they learned was as 
follows : — The phenomenon of evanescence, 
hitherto supposed to be the final destruction 
of the subject in which it takes place, is only 
the first step in a much more complicated 
process. The evanescence itself consists in 
a sudden disintegration of the molecules 
which compose the body. But these disin- 
tegrated, and therefore invisible, molecules 
are really endowed with an affinity or attrac- 

124 History of a World of 

tion which tends to the south pole of the 
planet. Just as on earth, the magnetic 
needle turns into the magnetic meridian, 
so on Hesperos those organized molecules 
which enter into the structure of a rational 
animal, when freed by disintegration, instan- 
taneously seek the South Pole, the trans- 
mission taking place with the exact velocity 
of light. On reaching the pole, reintegration 
is equally instantaneous; so that in Hesperos 
we may say that the death, decomposition, 
and resurrection of the body form three con- 
secutive steps in one connected series of 
events, the whole of which is accomplished 
in a single instant. \ 

Evanescence, then, in the northern hemi- 
sphere, and indeed in the southern also, is 
nothing more nor less than instantaneous 
transference to the South Pole. The reinte- 
grated body is, with one most important 
exception, an exact reproduction of the dis- 
integrated original. The exception is this: 
any bodily organ which has suffered a lesion 

Immortals without a God, 125 

of any kind is restored in its primitive 
healthy condition. Had this not been the 
case, many a man would have been doomed 
to the shocking fate of languishing in a 
maimed and mutilated state for evermore. 
The two laws of evanescence which have 
been observed in the north are equally valid 
in the south ; but it should be remembered 
that the transference is always to the South 
Pole, no matter in which hemisphere evanes- 
cence occurs. j 

Hence it is obvious that, before the ar- 
rival of the submarine boat, the conditions 
of population in the north and in the south 
respectively were directly contrasted. In 
the former there was a constantly diminish- 
ing number which could not be increased ; 
in the latter a constantly increasing number 
which could not be diminished. But it was 
quite plain that, assuming the return voyage 
of the submarine ship to be practicable, 
equilibrium would soon be restored. 

Such were the main facts communicated 

126 History of a World of 

that evening to the astonished engineers. 
They all retired to rest in their new quarters 
half petrified with amazement and horror. 
The gate of exit from life was shut and 
barred — or rather, none such had ever ex- 
isted. What was supposed to have been 
one had no such real significance ; and if 
there was one anywhere it had still to be 

To their question, How had the south- 
erners become aware of their projected sub- 
marine voyage ? their hosts replied that one 
of the northerners who had been evanesced 
by an accident while the ship was building 
had, on arrival at the pole, communicated the 
plan. Indeed, in this way, by the frequent 
arrivals from the north, the southerners were 
kept well posted up as to everything which 
took place at the other side of the equator, 
and had learned all the grand results of the 
new astronomy. 

The engineers resolved to lose no time in 
making the return voyage; and they offered 

Immortals without a God. 127 

to take with them, as passengers, any, to 
the number of fifty, who chose to revisit 
their former habitations ; more than fifty 
they could not easily accommodate. The 
offer was gladly accepted. Among those 
who returned they brought the oldest in- 
habitant of the south, the victim of the 
Hesperian Cain, whose untimely extinction, 
just 9997 years before, had led to the dis- 
covery of the first law of evanescence. He 
was now, to all appearance, in the twenty- 
fifth year of his age. Also three of the crew 
of that ill-fated ship which perished in the 
abortive attempt to cross the surface of the 
equatorial sea accompanied them. 

128 History of a World of 


The oldest inhabitant of the South relates its history— How 
the awful intelligence was received in the North. 

As the return voyage occupied several days, 
the engineers had a good opportunity for 
obtaining from the passengers much in- 
teresting information concerning the past 
history and present condition of the southern 
hemisphere. In both physical structure and 
configuration the northern and southern por- 
tions of the planet are very similar ; a great 
polar continent, with many islands off the 
coast, being the leading feature common to 
both. The south pole itself is situated in 
the middle of a very wide and fertile valley, 
surrounded on all sides by gently sloping 
hills. The climate is delightful, especially 

Immortals without a God. 129 

in the spring and the autumn ; and this 
attraction, combined with the fact that the • 
pole, hitherto, had been the sole port of 
ingress to the hemisphere, caused its selec- 
tion as the sice of the southern metropolis. 
The oldest inhabitant proved invaluable 
as a historian. His account of the origin 
and gradual growth of the city was as fol- 
lows : — ' When I found myself extended on 
the ground at the pole, I had no conception 
of what had happened, or even that I had 
been moved from one place to another. I 
remembered distinctly the fight in which I 
had been engaged, my own exasperation, 
and the furious gestures of my antagonist. 
But he had vanished altogether, and the 
place where I now found myself was quite 
different from the scene of the combat. 
I got up and looked around me. The 
country was similar to my former place of 
abode ; the same abundance of fruit-trees ; 
the same pure streams of water ; but the 
hills and mountains were quite differently 


130 History of a World of 

shaped and grouped together. I could see 
no signs of rational life ; the silence was 
broken only by the sweet singing of the 
birds, of which, as before, there were many 

1 While I was still lost in astonishment at 
what had occurred, there suddenly appeared 
on the exact spot of ground where I had, a 
few minutes before, awakened into new life, 
another man extended on the grass. An 
instant before not a trace of him was visible. 
For a moment I imagined he must be my 
recent antagonist, and I instinctively pre- 
pared to renew the battle. But he turned 
out to be a man I had never seen before ; 
his speech was unintelligible to me, as was 
mine to him. We separated ; he walked 
off to seek his fortune elsewhere, while 
I remained in the neighbourhood of the 
strangely-haunted spot which is now known 
as the South Pole. 

1 Before long more arrivals took place in 
the same mysterious manner. I must neces- 

Immortals without a God. 131 

sarily omit details : it will suffice to say that 
before many years had expired a population 
amounting to several thousands surrounded 
the pole. As most of these men, and women 
also, arrived in consequence of mortal lesions 
received in fights, it turned out that they 
were, as a general rule, of rowdy and quar- 
relsome dispositions, and thus for many 
centuries the lovely country was little better 
than a pandemonium. 

* But by degrees things began to improve. 
Among the importations there was always 
a respectable minority of orderly persons, 
whose evanescence had been brought about 
either by accident, or when honestly fighting 
in self-defence. Order has always a ten- 
dency to prevail over disorderly violence. 
The orderly party combined and formed a 
compact body on the side of regular govern- 
ment. A sort of vigilance committee was 
established to keep guard over the pole 
itself. The special function of this com- 
mittee was to take charge of all fresh 

K 2 

132 History of a World of 

arrivals, to explain to them the actual state 
of affairs in the south, and to enlist them 
on the right side. 

* Thus, at last, the anarchical period came 
to an end. After the establishment of the 
universal empire in the north, and the con- 
sequent cessation of international war, im- 
migration to the South Pole diminished 
enormously. Such things as batches of 
several hundreds arriving in the course of 
a few minutes from a field of battle were 
no more heard of. The rowdies themselves 
showed signs of reformation ; they were 
never intrinsically bad, and they are now 
as well conducted as any in the south. 

1 The comparatively few who still con- 
tinued to drop in from the north proved 
of inestimable service. As you are aware, 
they taught us the universal language, and 
they have always kept us well informed in 
the history and discoveries of the larger 
world. Owing to the great congestion of 
population at the metropolis which naturally 

Immortals without a God. 133 

resulted from the conditions of immigration, 
it was found necessary, about two thousand 
years ago, to adopt very stringent measures 
for its abatement, and great numbers of the 
inhabitants were removed to other parts of 
the country. Since that time the northern 
limit of one hundred thousand has been 
rigidly observed.' 

Such was the main part of the informa- 
tion given to the crew of engineers as they 
pursued their northern course through the 
smooth waters of the southern sea. When 
the equatorial zone was reached they de- 
scended once more beneath the waves, and 
by the same process and with no more 
difficulty than before effected its passage. 
On the twenty-second day, after a total 
absence of fifty-three days, they arrived in 
safety at the port of Lasondre. 

By this time their return was expected in 
the northern metropolis, and the anxiety of 
the people had risen to very great intensity. 
As the ship was entering the harbour the 

134 History of a World of 

whole population swarmed on the quays. 
The city was decked with every sign of 
rejoicing", and the sweet-toned peal of the 
great bells which hung in the towers of the 
vast world-cathedral, erected in honour of 
the Unknown, filled the air with their music. 
But when the engineers landed with their 
company who had returned from the dead, 
and when the knowledge of what had been 
found spread into the city, all was hushed in 
silence. Joy at the safety of the crew, and 
at the unexpected sight of their departed 
friends, was none the less ; but awe was the 
predominant feeling. The certainty of ever- 
lasting life, and of the shutting for ever of 
the only door of exit, were not to be lightly 
received. The tremendous intelligence was 
immediately communicated to the world, and 
the Modern History of Hesperos began. 

Immortals without a God. 135 



How the two hemispheres were amalgamated — Concerning 
the Sympathetic Telegraph ; and how the great aston- 
ishment of the Hesperians at the first sight of the 
Doctor was fully explained. 

On the morning after the return of the 
ship the parliament met, and immediately 
passed a vote for the construction of a large 
fleet of submarine vessels, to be built on the 
pattern of the original whose voyage had 
proved so successful. It was evident that 
intercourse on a very large scale would take 
place between the two hemispheres. The 
southerly journey, as was now well known, 
might be effected in quite a different way; 
for an energetic blow on the head provided 

136 History of a World of 

the intending traveller with a swift and 
gratuitous passage to the South Pole. But 
there were many objections to this mode 
of transit; and, at all events, the return 
journey was strictly confined to the sub- 
marine route. 

So the new fleet was at once put on the 
stocks, and all the Hesperian dockyards 
were provided with work in abundance fof 
several years. Meanwhile the original ship 
was kept on hard duty. On each voyage, 
and in both directions, she was crowded 
with passengers, some eager to see the new 
discovered world, others longing to revisit 
the scenes of their former life. Presently, 
as one of the results of the discovery, there 
arose an important question in international 
law. Whether those persons, now residing 
in the southern hemisphere, and subjects of 
its government, but whose evanescence had 
taken place subsequently to the establish- 
ment of the universal empire of the north, 
were still bound by their northern allegiance, 

Immortals without a God. 137 

or, had the fact of evanescence discharged 
them of that allegiance, thus leaving them 
lawful citizens of the south. 

The question involved some nice points ; 
but fortunately there never was any occa- 
sion to bring it to an issue. For, the ad- 
vantages arising from the amalgamation of 
all the northern governments into one 
universal empire were so manifest, and 
were so thoroughly appreciated even in the 
south, that the union of the two hemispheres 
in one universal planet empire very speedily 
took place. In fact it took place imme- 
diately after the important preliminary 
question was settled, In which hemisphere 
should the seat of the central government 
be fixed ? Many circumstances seemed to 
suggest that it should be in the south, and 
at the pole. 

The explanation of the real significance 
of evanescence which ultimately revolution- 
ized Hesperian life, was not the only piece 
of astounding intelligence imported into 

138 History of a World of 

Lasondre by the submarine ship, on her 
first return voyage. Even in the midst of 
the general stupefaction occasioned by the 
return of the dead, the announcement of 
another extraordinary discovery excited the 
attention of the citizens. This was no less 
than a method whereby instantaneous com- 
munication might take place between two 
persons no matter how widely separated 
they might be on the surface of the planet. 
The discovery was made in this way." 
About one thousand years earlier, a man 
who was an earnest student of chemical 
science, was engaged in trying some experi- 
ments at Lucetta. These experiments were 
of a highly dangerous character ; and one 
day, notwithstanding all precautions, a 
terrific explosion took place. So violent 
was it, and so minute were the fragments 
to which the experimentalist's body was 
thereby reduced, that there was scarcely 
need for the first law of evanescence to 
operate in removing the remains from the 

Immortals without a God. 139 

land of the living. However, of course, it 
did operate, and the chemist was duly re- 
integrated at the South Pole. He was, as 
usual, received by the vigilance committee, 
who explained to him, as they were in duty 
bound to do, the circumstances of his new 

The chemist, nothing daunted, pro- 
posed continuing his experiments ; and the 
southern authorities, hearing the nature of 
them, and suspecting that a considerable 
series of sudden disintegrations and re- 
integrations of his body were likely to result, 
kindly assigned him a laboratory quite close 
to the pole — a fact which materially facili- 
tated the memorable discovery which soon 
rewarded his labours. 

At a distance of a few miles to the east 
there is a hill which is mainly composed of 
a singular-looking mineral which has not, 
as yet, been found anywhere else in the 
planet. This mineral occurs at a very small 
depth below the surface, in separate masses, 

140 History of a World of 

none of them exceeding ten pounds in 
weight, is of a bright green colour, and 
possesses the remarkable property of very 
easily splitting into exceedingly fine rods, 
no thicker than an ordinary needle. 

Desiring to make an analysis of this 
mineral, which the southerners called molyg- 
don, the chemist procured a great quantity 
of these rods, cut them into lengths of a few 
ihches, and tied them up tightly in bundles 
which he left for some days on a shelf in his 
laboratory till he was ready to examine 
them. When he was at leisure, he took one 
of these bundles, untied it, and threw the 
little rods into a flat vessel full of water, in 
which they floated, their specific gravity 
being small. To his great surprise the rods 
speedily assumed positions parallel to each 
other. He twisted one of them a little out 
of its direction, whereupon all the others 
turned through the same angle, so that the 
parallelism remained. 

At last, after a long and careful series of 

Immortals without a God. HI 

experiments he succeeded in establishing 
the following momentous law : — Two 
needles of molygdon which have been kept 
in close contact for not less than thirty-six 
hours at any spot not exceeding three 
hundred yards' distance from the South 
Pole, possess the property of always remain- 
ing parallel to each other, whenever they 
are freely suspended in parallel planes, no 
matter how they are situated with respect 
to each other on the surface of the planet. 

This discovery afforded an easy mode of 
immediate communication between any two 
places in the southern hemisphere. All 
tha.t was needful w r as to suspend two needles, 
rendered sympathetic by the above process, 
on pivots in the centres of two circular 
cards. A code of signals was easily devised, 
sufficient for ordinary purposes ; and, by 
placing the letters of the alphabet round the 
edges of the cards, verbal conversation 
could be carried on. 

Soon after the discovery of this important 

142 History of a World of 

law of nature, the southern parliament re- 
solved to utilise it on a vast scale by 
founding an institution which would enable 
any two persons, even without being in 
possession of two directly sympathizing 
needles, to communicate with each other. 
It was estimated that the population of the 
south was not much under twenty -five 
millions. Accordingly, twenty-five million 
pairs of these sympathetic needles were 
manufactured, and each needle was mounted 
in a suitable circular box. This was done 
at the national expense ; the intention being 
that one box should be given to each in- 
habitant of the south, the corresponding box 
being deposited in a building to be erected 
in the metropolis for the special purpose of 
the safe custody of the duplicates. As each 
box was a small cylinder, not exceeding 
three inches in diameter and one inch in 
height, no very large space was required 
for their accommodation. These duplicates 
were all arranged in order and numbered ; 

Immortals without a God. 143 

the corresponding number being stamped 
on each sympathetic box. 

The process of conversation thus became 
very simple. For example, No. 23,482,657 
wishes to say a few words to No. 10,334, 
who is somewhere, but where he knows not, 
in the southern hemisphere. He sends his 
message to the central depot. The stirring 
of the needle there rings a small bell, and 
displays a white mark on the front of the 
box. The clerk on duty takes it down, 
reads the message; then taking box No. 
IO >334> he repeats it to the required corre- 
spondent. Of course, any two particular 
friends who may have occasion for frequent 
conversation can have, in addition, two 
special needles with which they can com- 
municate directly. 

All the passengers in the submarine ship 
were provided with these boxes, and, on 
their arrival at Lasondre, the question, 
whether the sympathetic influence extended 
to the northern hemisphere, was at once 

144 History of a World of 

decided in the affirmative. Communication 
with the South Pole was just as easy from 
the north as from the south side of the 

The South Pole being thus the most con- 
venient centre for communication with the 
entire surface of the planet, had evidently 
strong claims for selection as the site of the 
universal metropolis. And before two years, 
dating from the return of the ship, were 
over, the whole planet was united in one 
vast empire, and the seat of government 
fixed at Australis, as we may style the city 
of the South Pole. 

The united government at once extended 
to the whole world the signalling system 
which had been so successfully carried out 
in the south ; this, of course, involved an 
enormous addition to the depot in Australis. 
And now, for the first time, the exact 
number of the primeval creation of the 
rational inhabitants was definitely ascer-\ 
tained. It was found that, at the era of the 

Immortals without a God, H5 

ship, there were in the northern hemisphere 
7°>589>347 persons, and in the southern 
29,410,653 ; thus the total population, which 
had never been increased, nor, as they had 
just learned, diminished, was, as before 
stated, exactly one hundred millions, and 
these were equally divided between the male 
and female sexes. 

Several years elapsed after the return of 
the ship before the stupendous change which 
had been wrought in the condition of the 
Hesperians, by the knowledge they had 
acquired of the indestructibility of life, began 
to produce the effects which afterwards 
became conspicuous. They were essentially 
a travel-loving race, and the great stimulus 
given to this propensity by the discovery of 
a new hemisphere seems for a time to have 
absorbed a good deal of their energies. 
The epoch, moreover, was immediately 
marked by the complete cessation of volun- 
tary evanescence — in other words, of suicide, 
which, under the influence of the widely- 


146 History of a World of 

spread world- weariness, had become only 
too common during the last age. When it 
was clearly understood that evanescence 
only meant change of place, the ignoble 
custom came to an end. 

It is well worth notice that, at the era of 
the union, the southern empire, though 
numerically far inferior to the northern, had 
reached a very much higher stage of both 
moral and political development. This su- 
periority is easily explained. For thousands 
of years the southerners had been acquainted 
with the true conditions of life ; that is to say, 
they had known that each individual is an 
indelible unit, in no way to be obliterated ; 
and, therefore, that it is expedient for 
society to make the best of him. This same 
knowledge also reacted on the individual, 
however badly disposed he might have been 
by nature. He knew perfectly well that he 
could no more get rid of the society than the 
society could get rid of him ; that, in fact, 
society was by far the stronger of the two, 

Immortals without a God. 147 

and, for this reason, it was plainly his interest 
to conduct himself at least in an inoffensive 
manner. It was invariably found that such 
a course of behaviour, steadily maintained 
for a lengthened period, reacted so strongly 
on even a malignant character, that, in a 
century or two, the subject became a worthy 
member of society. 

In the northern empire, on the other hand, 
as it was believed, and indeed with truth, 
that an undesirable and troublesome neigh- 
bour could at any time be suppressed, either 
by the gallows or some equivalent method, 
criminal legislation seems to have rather 
aimed at the extirpation than the reformation 
of the offender. But after the era of the 
ship, and subsequent union of the whole 
planet, all this was very speedily changed. 

Through the entire period often thousand 
years which, at the time of my arrival, had 
elapsed since the beginning of the modern 
history, no revolutionizing discovery had 
taken place. But, slowly and silently, a change 


148 History of a World of 

took place in the characters of the Hesperians. 
which ultimately led to the complete remodel- 
ling of the greater part of their social institu- 
tions. Evanescence, except as the result of 
accident, wholly disappeared, for the age of 
violence was passed, capital punishment was 
an impossibility, and suicide a fruitless ebul- 
lition of temper. The enforced toleration of 
everyone by everyone else, worked, in the 
course of ages, as its inevitable result, a 
greatly increased kindliness of disposition 
and demeanour; and this was still further 
helped when progress of time, combined 
with the absolute fixity of the population, 
brought about the strange state, of things, 
that each individual was personally ac- 
quainted with every other member of the 
Hesperian multitude. The number of his 
acquaintances was 99,999,999. 

And now we have the explanation of the 
great intensity of the astonishment which my 
sudden appearance in Lucetta excited in that 
town. Though not differing very much 

Immortals without a God. 149 

either in person or dress from many of them- 
selves, yet the mere fact of my being a 
stranger to them was sufficient evidence that 
I was either a new creation on the planet, or 
had come from another world. In either 
case my arrival gave them hope that some 
light was about to be thrown on the great 
question which had vexed them all so long — 
Who was the Maker of the Universe ? 

150 History of a World of 


Of the great social changes which resulted from the dis- 
covery of the Indestructibility of Life. 

When this period of the acquaintance of 
everyone with everyone else had been reached, 
very little time intervened before a completely 
socialistic system was established all over 
he world. In fact it soon became obvious 
to all that private property had now become 
a clumsy incumbrance. The substitution of 
socialism was greatly facilitated by the ex- 
treme ease with which all the necessaries, 
and most of the luxuries, of life were procur- 
able. This was partly due to the favourable 
climatic and other conditions of the planet, 
and partly to the extraordinary progress 
which had been made in the physical sciences 

Immortals without a God, 151 

in general, and in chemistry in particular. 
The universal abundance of vegetable life 
has been already noticed, and also the 
absence of all noxious and destructive types 
of the animal kingdom. Food, in the shape 
of esculent fruits, grew everywhere and in 
superfluous abundance; and, for all who tired 
of these, a perfect equivalent for the flesh of 
animals was readily available. 

Hesperian chemists had, long before this, 
completely solved the problem, which still 
baffles their terrestrial brethren, of the arti- 
ficial formation of organic compounds from 
their ultimate elements. For instance, the 
seeming roast-beef with which I was regaled 
on my first morning in Lucetta, had just 
before been manufactured from some carbon, 
azote, and water, with a very small admixture 
of fluorine and potassium, without interfering 
with and inconveniencing any animal what- 
ever. All the purveyors of provisions were 
good chemists. It is true that, some thou- 
sands of years earlier, the Hesperians were 

152 History of a World of 

in the habit of using animal food, but the 
practice has been for ages abandoned, and 
is now regarded with abhorrence. Milk and 
butter and eggs are also manufactured with 
equal ease, and of singular excellence, out of 
similar materials. 

So much for the supply of food. As for 
their clothing, it is exceedingly simple, and 
is made exclusively from vegetable products. 
tt is worn, indeed, merely as a protection 
from heat or cold ; for the notion of there 
being anything indecorous in appearing in a 
state of nudity has no existence in the Hes- 
perian mind. Thus, the two great leading 
wants being easily supplied, the population 
being all personally known to each other, 
and a due consideration for the wishes of 
their neighbours being universally recognized 
as a ground of moral obligation — engrained 
as this had been into the disposition of each 
through ages of exercise— the establishment 
of a perfect socialistic system was easily 

Immortals without a God, 153 

The state of society which, at the time of 
my visit, prevailed over the whole planet, 
was one which could not have existed under 
less favourable conditions of life. It was not 
based on the chimerical theory that every- 
body is supposed to sacrifice himself for 
everybody else ; and thus unite in each 
person the incongruous characters of a 
greedy baby and a self-denying saint — 
selfishly and unscrupulously taking from 
others the fruits of their labour, while un- 
selfishly yielding up whatever he has earned 
by his own hard work. Far from it: the 
Hesperian system was founded on the fair 
and rational doctrine of give and take, hon- 
estly carried out. No one was afflicted with 
an inscrutable desire of thrusting a * happi- 
ness' on his neighbour which he, for himself, 
repudiated with scorn. The gifts of nature 
were so very liberal that a small amount of 
daily labour on the part of each person 
sufficed to discharge his debt to the society ; 
and this amount was, by everyone* regarded 

154 History of a World of 

as a rigorous debt of honour, never to be 
shirked or evaded in any way. 

In the appointment of this prescribed 
quantity, it was a recognized maxim in prac- 
tice that, whenever it was possible, the 
inclination of the labourer should be con- 
sulted. Special commissioners entrusted 
with this task were from time to time 
appointed in each town and district. The 
work proceeded with great smoothness. 
Everyone was anxious to do his share 
honestly. There were none of those idle 
scamps whose only object is to loaf around 
in idleness at the expense of their neighbours, 
and whose existence elsewhere renders every 
form of socialism an impossibility, except, 
under a system of espionage so rigorous as 
to render life an intolerable burden. Every- 
one, by this time, being quite competent for 
the work of every skilled trade or calling, 
exchanges of allotted tasks were easily 
effected. The more irksome the labour, 
the shorter was the time required from the 

Immortals without a God. 155 

labourer. Sometimes it would happen that 
a man or woman would prefer, instead of 
working for a short time each day, to execute 
a long task by continuous labour, so as to 
have leisure afterwards for some special pur- 
suit ; this also was a matter easily arranged. 

This organization of labour was not nearly 
so complicated a business as such a task 
would be if attempted on the earth, even if 
we were to assume that the average terres- 
trial character was as well-conditioned as that 
of the Hesperians. For it is plain that, 
under the Hesperian conditions of life, the 
number of separate callings and professions 
is comparatively small. A world where there 
are no children has no need for the vast 
machinery of education ; the great army of 
schoolmasters, tutors, and professors is 
non-existent. The absence of death leaves 
no place for the undertaker and his ghastly 
satellites. There are no clergy, for there is 
no known God. 

Medical science is, as has been already 

156 History of a World of 

noticed, in a very strange condition, or rather 
is non-existent. Dissection of the vital parts 
of the body being impossible, the physician is 
indebted to the analogy of the lower animals 
for his hypotheses as to the structure of the 
rational being. Fortunately, diseases are 

As for surgery, a singular revolution in its 
practice was an immediate result of the dis- 
covery of the real nature of evanescence. In 
the earlier ages, before the weariness of life 
had set in to any great extent, the occurrence 
of any grave bodily lesion, which, though 
not fatal, was sufficient to involve a serious 
mutilation, or the entire loss of organs of 
perception, was a calamity so great that 
the inhabitants of the earth, confined as 
they are to one short bodily life, would 
find it hard, even in imagination, to realize 
its severity. In spite of all precautions such 
accidents sometimes took place, and the un- 
happy sufferers, reluctant to surrender their 
whole existence, would often consent to 

Immortals without a God, 157 

undergo operations which had the effect 
of leaving them to abide for ever as help- 
less, mutilated trunks. So the Hesperian 
surgeons were skilful amputators of limbs, 
and they could, and often did, perform other 
serious operations for the purpose of pre- 
serving the patient from evanescence. Still 
their success was but small, for the wretched 
condition of the sufferer usually led to the 
extinction of his life under the metronomic 
law of Adverse Balance — evanescence, in 
fact, was only postponed. 

But, as the world-weariness gained ground, 
few were found who were willing to pur- 
chase life at so heavy a price. And finally, 
when the true nature of evanescence was 
understood, all operations except those of 
the most trifling character ceased at once. 
Whenever a serious accident takes place, an 
anaesthetic sufficiently powerful to destroy 
life is administered, and the patient awakes 
immediately, with his organism restored, at 
the South Pole. 

158 History of a World of 

The complete establishment of the com- 
munistic system also contributed to the 
simplicity of the social arrangements in 
the planet ; inasmuch as all the multi- 
farious professions which are incidental to 
the tenure of private property collapsed 
at once. There was no further need for 
lawyers, attorneys, bankers, stockbrokers — 
still less for stock-jobbers — and the great 
multitude formerly required to serve as 
policemen, coast-guards, and excisemen, 
were now at liberty for more directly useful 

Immortals without a God. 159 


How the Doctor delivered a course of lectures on the History 
of the Earth and its Inhabitants — Of the effects of his 
ghastly description — Of the attempt of two Hesperians 
to reach the Earth ; and of its unsatisfactory result. 

[At this point the doctor's notes become 
very scanty : still the following facts may 
be readily gleaned from his memoranda. 
Hesperos was the abode of one hundred mil- 
lions of rational and highly-cultured beings, 
incapable alike of increase or diminution in 
number, constrained to exist on the surface 
of the planet, and firmly believing in the 
existence of an intelligent Creator who, 
although in all his works which were acces- 
sible to them, he manifested unmistakable 
marks of benevolence, refused to speak to or 
hold any communication with his intelligent 

160 History of a World of 

creation. And yet, for such communication 
they craved with all their soul and with all 
their strength. The vast temples erected. in 
their cities to the Unknown God, and the 
solemn services held therein, as well as their 
intense devotion to all branches of natural 
science, alike indicated their longing to 
penetrate tjhe mystery of the material world, 
and reach the spirit which they believed to 
lie behind. 

The hopes which had been excited so many 
years earlier by the discovery of the immen- 
sity of the Universe when the cloud-screen 
was passed, had ended in bitter disappoint- 
ment. Vastness of power on the part of the 
Maker had indeed been strongly illustrated ; 
but, most certainly, no light had been thrown 
on any of his other attributes. So it is easy 
10 understand the intensity of interest with 
which the news of an arrival from another 
world was received. That their visitor came 
from the earth was at once ascertained, as 
we have already seen, by his familiarity 


Immortals without a God. 161 

with the earth charts in the museum at 

When this wonderful arrival was tele- 
graphed at the metropolis, the world-parlia- 
ment instantly met. It was resolved that a 
committee should be appointed at Lucetta, 
whose business should be, first, to learn the 
stranger's language, and then to communi- 
cate to him a general description of Venus, 
and the leading facts in the history of her 
inhabitants, so as to enable him to bring 
before them the main points of agreement 
and difference in the conditions of life on 
the two planets. That these instructions 
were well carried out by the committee is 
manifest from the notes which have now 
been brought to light and translated into 
the English tongue. 

As soon as this preliminary process was 
completed, the doctor was requested in his 
turn to give the Hesperians an account of 
the affairs of the earth ; of its physical con- 
dition ; of its irrational animals, supposing 


162 History of a World of 

such to exist ; of its rational animals, one of 
which they had seen ; and lastly, to answer 
the great question of questions — Whether 
the terrestrial rational beings had any direct 
knowledge of the Maker of the whole. 

On all of these points he delivered lectures 
in the cathedral of Lucetta, to a crowded 
audience of more than five thousand people. 
From the short notes in his pocket-book it is 
easy to gather his manner of treating the 
above subjects. Of course the reader will 
bear in mind the great intensity of his mis- 

He began by describing the physical con- 
dition of the earth's surface, and contrasting 
it, much to its disadvantage, with that of 
Hesperos. In illustration of his malignant 
remarks, he seems to have made much use 
of the great terrestrial charts which had been 
constructed at the observatories. The awful 
polar climate of the earth came out very un- 
favourably when compared with that of the 
corresponding regions of Hesperos ; as did 

Immortals without a God. 163 

also the burning heat of the torrid zone, un- 
protected from the solar rays by a permanent 
screen of cloud. He dilated, with much 
relish, on the phenomena of earthquakes, 
volcanoes, thunder and lightning, deluges, 
droughts, great sandy deserts, and other 
terrestrial peculiarities of a disagreeable 
character, which were quite unknown to the 

As he approached the animal kingdom 
his spirits seem to have risen. The abun- 
dance on earth of loathsome and noxious 
types of animal life ; their portentous fecun- 
dity ; the formation of entire species which 
can live only by destroying and devouring 
the weaker and more defenceless, were hap- 
pily contrasted with the innocent fauna of 
Hesperos, confined ' 10 a small number of 
harmless, frugivorous animals, in which the 
power of reproduction no more than sufficed 
to keep up the breed. 

But when he came to explain the nature 
and circumstances of terrestrial rational life, 

M 2 

16 4 History of a World of 

Van Varken's hatred of the Yahoos burst 
out in a description which seems to have 
filled the Hesperian congregation with 
horror and dismay. The entrance of the 
human being into life through the same re- 
productive process as that of the lower 
animals ; the redundancy of procreative 
power, in respect of the means of subsis- 
tence, which is one of the curses of the race ; 
their helpless infancy; their wretched edu- 
cation; their liability to horrible and tor- 
turing diseases; their early extinction by 
death ; the low civilization in which the 
masses vegetate, leading the lives of cattle ; 
their mutual hatred ; their incessant wars- 
all of these topics, and many more of a 
similar nature, were expatiated upon by the 
doctor with a cheerful vehemence which 
much astounded his audience, and enhanced 
the contrast between all these abominations 
and social life in Hesperos. 

As for the final question— that of the 
Maker of all— he began by hypocritically 

Immortals without a God. 165 

expressing his deep regret that his profes- 
sion as a Doctor of Medicine rendered him 
but a badly qualified person as an expounder 
of theology ; he also professed an earnest 
wish that a learned terrestrial Doctor of 
Divinity could be found to relieve him of 
such an uncongenial task. The reader will 
readily appreciate the sincerity of his aspira- 
tions after the help of a Yahoo divine. 

He then proceeded to inform his audience 
that the inhabitants of the earth, not being 
included, as the Hesperians, in one vast 
empire, but being dispersed in a great 
number of independent nationalities, which 
varied very much in their degrees of civili- 
zation, had formed for themselves equally 
varying theological systems. That those 
who were in the lowest grades, either did 
not recognize the Maker at all, or, if they 
did recognize him, regarded him as a fiend 
who was only to be propitiated by offer- 
ing him bloody sacrifices. That there 
was another system of religious belief, the 

166 History of a World of 

followers of which were in a much higher state 
of civilization than those last spoken of, who 
held that all true believers (meaning them- 
selves) would be ultimately admitted to a 
paradise of sensual delights, the most effectual 
passport being the extirpation, by the sword, 
of unbelievers (meaning all the rest). That 
another system, the followers of which were, 
perhaps, the most numerous of any, taught 
that the Maker would ultimately grant the 
boon of cessation of existence to his creatures, 
but only after they have undergone a long 
series of transmigrations into other forms of 

At last he came to the form of religion 
which he described as that which, though 
not including the greatest number, is cer- 
tainly professed by all of the most highly 
civilized types of humanity. Into the doctor's 
exposition of the Christian faith we need not 
enter. Suffice it to say that when he came 
to the explicit statement — delivered with 
evident marks of delight — that the Maker 

Immortals without a God, 167 

designed the greater part of the human race 
to live everlastingly in excruciating torture 
by fire, the whole of the assembly rose simul- 
taneously to their feet and left the cathedral. 
They would hear no more. 

Every word of these extraordinary lectures 
was automatically taken down, and sent 
through the world as fast as delivered. The 
whole history of the earth contained therein 
fell like a thunderbolt on the Hesperians, 
who were quite unprepared for any such 
revelation of the Unknown. After this, the 
notes show that the doctor had many inter- 
views and discussions with people from all 
parts, but no memoranda of them are to be 
found. Clearly, the result of his communi- 
cations was an intensifying of the gloom 
which prevailed in Hesperos. The hopes of 
the people, which had been strongly excited 
by his arrival, were as suddenly changed to 
despondency. And no wonder ; for, cer- 
tainly, tidings of such a Maker as the Being 
depicted by their visitor, were not calculated 
to raise any enthusiastic delight. 

168 History of a World of 

Doubts seem to have sprung up among 
some of the Hesperians as to the perfect 
accuracy of his statements, which, as one or 
two of the leading journals pretty plainly 
hinted, might possibly be coloured by pre- 
judice. So incredible, indeed, did some 
parts of his lectures appear, that two enter- 
prising persons, then in the juvenescent 
period of life, volunteered to attempt the 
passage to the earth, if Van Varken would 
entrust them with the secret of transference. 
They wished to examine the terrestrial phe- 
nomena, both religious and temporal, for 

Dr. Van Varken, who was much mortified 
at these suspicions as to his veracity, received 
them with some coolness. He made two 
objections to their proposal. First, he was 
under a pledge of secrecy to Mr. Homi, 
and, secondly, the attempt would be at- 
tended with extreme peril to themselves. 
For it was quite impossible to tell beforehand 
what region of the earth they might land in; 
and, if they chanced on an uncivilized nation, 

Immortals without a God, 169 

death by mortal lesion, and that beyond the 
salutary influence of the Hesperian pole, 
would be their nearly certain fate. 

But his indignation at their unworthy 
suspicions, and his burning desire that an 
irrefragable proof of the truth of his state- 
ments might be afforded to the sceptics, by 
an actual inspection of the earth by two 
pairs of Hesperian eyes, at last overcame 
his scruples. He argued that, inasmuch as 
he himself had actually discovered the mode 
of passing the interplanetary space, he was, 
in that respect, bound by no promise to Mr. 
Homi ; and that, having warned the adven- 
turers of the risk they ran, his duty to them 
was discharged. So he gave way at last, 
and imparted the secret of interplanetary 
transference by the process of disintegration. 

All in vain; the disintegration was effected 
at once without the slightest difficulty ; but 
when that stage was reached the Hesperian 
polarity proved too strong for the terrestrial 
influence ; overcame it instantly, and the 

170 History of a World of 

two missionaries to the earth, to their very 
great chagrin, found themselves reintegrated, 
in perfect safety, at the South Pole of Venus, 
according to the ordinary Law. It was quite 
plain that the Hesperians were absolutely 
bound to their planet, and that escape, even 
if it were desirable, was hopeless. 

Immortals without a God. 171 


Of the further wanderings of Dr. Van Varken — Of his visits 
to Australis and the great Observatory— Of a strange 
physical Theory concerning the Tornado — Supposed 
cause of the Doctor's return to the Earth. 

After the delivery of his remarkable lec- 
tures, the doctor's notes become even scantier 
than before, and are of quite a fragmentary 
character. We can gather from them that 
his time thenceforth was mainly occupied in 
travelling in various directions through the 
country ; and this is, very likely, the cause 
of the deficiencies in his memoranda. 

He seems to have been greatly struck 
with the vast engineering works which met 
him everywhere ; and especially with the 
magnificent roads on which carriages, like 
those at Lucetta, ran on rails ; these car- 

172 History of a World of 

riages were free to all ; everyone in his turn 
took his share in managing the service, like 
any other calling. His first visit was to the 
great imperial metropolis, Australis, to which 
he of course proceeded by the submarine 

When he arrived there it was the winter 
season for the southern hemisphere. During 
the discussion on the selection of the uni- 
versal metropolis, at the time of the union of 
the hemispheres, an objection had been raised 
to Australis, namely, that there was darkness 
for about one-third of the year. But, in 
consequence of the other advantages of the 
site, the objection was overruled, and that the 
more readily, as an artificial chemical light of 
extraordinary brilliancy had just been dis- 
covered. So great was its power that, for 
moderate distances, it nearly equalled the 
light of day. These were the lights which 
Van Varken, on his first arrival, saw shining 
in Lucetta, and on the ships in the bay. 
And thus, when he reached Australis, he 

Immortals ivithout a God, 173 

found not only the city, but the whole sur- 
rounding valley blazing with this wonderful 
illumination. Some persons, indeed, could 
never reconcile themselves to this artificial 
light, so another city was, in course of time, 
built at the North Pole ; and, by migrating 
at the proper seasons, from one to the other, 
perpetual daylight might be enjoyed. 

The curt and jejune memoranda which 
remain tell us but little of the metropolitan 
city. The points which seem to have 
specially impressed him were — The great 
magazines or depots of all sorts of articles 
which, in our cities, are usually sold in the 
shops, and which, under the Hesperian 
system, are abundantly supplied by the com- 
munistic labour ; from these stores everyone 
supplied himself as he wanted. The splendid 
museums of science and art, and the pictu- 
resque style of the houses, all of which were, 
as in Lucetta, detached from each other, and 
but of one story in. height, filled the doctor's 
soul with admiration. Above them all was 

174 History of a World of 

conspicuous the great temple or cathedral of 
the Unknown God. The gorgeous services 
performed there made a wonderful impression 
on the traveller ; he was specially affected by 
one solemn and mournful chant, sung in 
unison by the whole of the immense congre- 
gation, and accompanied in strangely rich 
and complicated harmony on the largest 
organ he had ever seen. 

But, beyond these few details, nought is 
recorded. After his return to the north, he 
paid a. visit to the great Observatory whose 
foundation he has so fully described. The 
original structure had been removed, and 
the buildings which now occupy the site are 
of vast dimensions, and are furnished with 
every astronomical instrument which the 
great skill of the Hesperians is competent 
to execute. Specially noteworthy are the 
mechanical contrivances for moving and 
adjusting the ponderous telescopes. Though 
these weigh many tons, the mere pressure of 
the finger on a couple of metal knobs suffices 

Immortals without a God. 175 

to direct any of them to whatever point of 
the sky is to be examined ; and, with 
the telescope, the platform for the observer 
simultaneously takes the requisite posi- 

He found some of the astronomers en- 
gaged in abstruse mathematical calculations, 
in connexion with a theory which had just 
been suggested as an explanation of the 
chronic equatorial tornado. It was this, 
that Hesperos has a satellite of small dimen- 
sions, not, indeed, exceeding a mile in 
diameter, but of very great density ; and 
that this satellite revolves in the plane of the 
equator with tremendous velocity, so close 
to the surface that it comes into actual con- 
tact with the water several times in each 
revolution. Hence the terrible waves and 
storms. Whether this ingenious theoiy was 
verified or not we have no record. Unfor- 
tunately, at the time of the doctor's visit, the 
earth, being in conjunction, was not favour- 
ably placed for observation. He seems to 

176 History of a World of 

have suffered a great deal on this excursion 
from the extreme rarity of the air. 

And, at this point, the notes may be said 
to end. Nothing more than a few incoherent 
jottings on the kst remaining page are 
legible. From these I gather that he went 
back to Lasondre, and there, having probably 
informed the inhabitants of his surgical pro- 
fession, he delivered a lecture on the anatomy 
of the human body. When we remember 
the invincible obstacle to any scientific study 
of the anatomy of the Hesperians which was 
presented by their conditions of life, we can 
easily understand that such a lecture, from 
an expert, must have excited unusual interest, 
and, combining this fact with the abundance 
of strong and profane expressions which dis- 
figure the concluding memoranda, I think it 
not at all unlikely that some signs of a desire 
to avail themselves of the doctor's own 
person for the purpose of dissection may 
have been exhibited by his audience, and 
may have suggested to his mind the ex- 

Immortals without a God, 177 

pediency of a hasty return to the earth. But 
I wish it to be distinctly understood that this 
is only a conjecture, and not, as the remain- 
der of his history, based on the explicit 
statements of the note-book. 

At all events the discovery of the manu- 
script in the University library is abundantly 
sufficient proof that the Thibetian influence 
was powerful enough to overcome the Hes- 
perian attraction, and that he succeeded in 
getting back to the earth. So much, I say, 
is certain, ct hypotheses non Jingo, 

And here ends our knowledge of the God- 
less Immortals. It is not likely that their 
hundred and sixty years' additional exist- 
ence have lightened the World-Weariness 
and Sorrow which was plainly settling down 
upon them like a heavy pall.] 


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