Lo!, by Charles Fort, , at sacred-texts.com
In every organism, there are, in its governance as a whole, mysterious transportations of substances and forces, sometimes in definite, circulatory paths, and sometimes specially, for special needs. In the organic view, Teleportation is a distributive force that is acting to maintain the balances of a whole; with the seeming wastefulness sometimes, and niggardliness sometimes, of other forces: providing, or sometimes providing, new islands with vegetation, and new ponds with fishes: Edens with Adams, and Adams with Eves; always dwindling when other mechanisms become established, but surviving sporadically.
Our expression is that once upon a time, showers of little frogs were manifestations of organic intelligence, in the choice of creatures that could survive, in the greatest variety of circumstances, if indefinitely translated from place to place. They'd survive in water, or
on land; in warmth, or in coldness. But, if organic intelligence is like other intelligence, there is no understanding it, except as largely stupid; and, if it keeps on sending little frogs to places where they're not wanted, we human phenomena cheer up, thinking of the follies of Existence, itself. I have never done foolisher, myself, than did Nature when it, or she—probably she—fatally loaded the tusks of mammoths, and planted a tree on the head of the Irish elk, losing species for the sake of displays. By intelligence I mean nothing that can be thought of as exclusively residing in, or operating in, brain substance: I mean equilibration, or adaptation, which pervades all phenomena. The scientific intelligence in human brains, and the physiologic intelligence that pervades the bodies of living things, wisely-foolishly acts to solve problems, and somewhere in the beauty of a theorem, or of a peacock, lurks the grotesque. When Nature satisfies us critics with such a graceful stroke as a swimming seal, she fumbles her seal on land.
But there is another view. We apologizing theologians always have another view. Cleverness and stupidity are relative, and what is said to be stupidity has functional value. To keep on sending little frogs, where, so far as can be seen, there is no need for little frogs, is like persistently, if not brutally, keeping right on teaching Latin and Greek, for instance. What's that for? Most of the somewhat good writers know little of either. According to my experience, both of these studies, if at all extended, are of no active value, except to somebody who wants to write up to the highest and noblest standards of the past, and considers himself literary. But this is an expression upon the functions of stupidity. It is likely that showers of little frogs, and the vermiform appendix, and classical studies are necessary for the preservation of continuity between the past and the present. Some persons, who know nothing about it, must for ages go on piously believing in Sir Isaac Newton's doctrine. People who go to fortune tellers and people who go to church are functioning conservatives. If the last platypus or the last churchgoer should die off, there would be broken continuity. It would be a crack in existence. Perhaps to this day, a chink is stuffed with iguanas, which are keeping alive the dinosaur-strain. Why is it that, when one's mind is not specializing upon anything,
it is given to recalling past experiences? It is preserving continuity with the past, or is preserving whatever one can be thought of, as having, of identity. We shall have instances of the interruption of this process, in human minds. Perhaps if Existence should stop sending little frogs, and stop teaching Latin and Greek, a whole would be in a state of amnesia. Our expression is that Teleportation is enormously useful to life upon this earth, but our data have been, and for a while will continue to be, mostly of its vagaries, or its conservations.
If our existence is an organism, it would seem that it must be one of the most notorious old rascals in the cosmos. It is a fabric of lies. Everywhere it conjures up appearances of realness and finality and trueness—words that I use as synonyms for one state—and then, when examined, everything is found not to be real, or final, or true, but to be depending upon something else, or some other chimera, merging away, and losing its appearance of individuality, into everything else, or every other fraud. That this pseudo-individualizing may in some cases realize itself is a view that I am not taking up in this book. Here it is our concern to find out, if we think we can, whether we be the phenomena of an organism, or not. Whether that organism be producing something, or be graduating realness out of the phenomenal, is a question that I shall take up some other time.
Imposture pervades all things phenomenal. Everything is a mirage. Nevertheless, accepting that there is continuity, I cannot accept that anybody ever has been an absolute impostor. If he's a Tichborne Claimant, after a while he thinks that there may be some grounds for his claims. If good and evil are continuous, any crime can be linked with any virtue. Imposture merges away into self-deception so that only relatively has there ever been an impostor.
Every scientist who has played a part in any developing science has, as can be shown, if he's been dead long enough, by comparing his views with more modern views, deceived himself. But there have been cases that look more flagrant. To what degree did Haeckel doctor illustrations in his book, to make a theory work out right? What must one think of Prof. Kammerer? In August, 1926, he was accused of faking what he called acquired characters
on the feet of toads. In September, he shot himself. The only polite way of explaining Prof. Smyth, Astronomer Royal of Scotland, who founded a cult upon his measurements of the Great Pyramid, is to say that his measuring rod must have slipped. If in his calculations, Prof. Einstein made the error that two distinguished mathematicians say he made, but, if eclipses came out, as they should come out, as reported by astronomers who did not know of the error, there is very good encouragement for anybody to keep on deceiving himself.
I can draw no line between imposture and self-deception. I can draw no line between anything phenomenal and anything else phenomenal, even though I accept that also there are lines. But there are scientists who have deceived others so rankly that it seems an excess of good manners to say that also they deceived themselves. If among scientists there have been instances of rank imposture, we shall expect to come upon much imposture in our data of irresponsible persons. The story told by Prof. Martino-Fusco, of Naples, when, in August, 1924, he announced that he had discovered the 109 missing volumes of Livy's History of Rome, is not commonly regarded as imposture, because when the Professor could not produce the missing volumes, his explanation that he had been indiscreet was published and accepted. This scientist's indiscretion was glossed over, as in the time of full power of the preceding orthodoxy, the indiscretion of any priest was hushed up. The impression went abroad that all that was wrong was that the Professor had been too ardent, or so hopeful of finding the books that prematurely he had announced having found them. But there are other impressions. They are of credulous American millionaires, and of the unexpected interest that the Italian Government showed in the matter.
What about the other Professors, who told that they had seen the volumes? See Current Literature, 77-594. Here is published a facsimile of four lines, which Dr. Max Funcke said that he had copied from one of the manuscripts, which according to Prof. Fusco's explanation, he had only hoped to find. I can find no explanation by Dr. Funcke.
One explanation is that perhaps there was not forgery, and that
perhaps the volumes were found, and by evasion of representatives of the Italian Government, are in the collection of a silent, American millionaire, today. But I do not think that collectors care much for treasures that they can't tell about.
The tale of an itch—Dr. Grimme and the inscribed stone—and the irritation it was to a pious Professor, until he was able to translate it, as it should be translated. In the year 1923, Dr. Grimme, Professor of Semitic Languages, at the University of Munich, sent out good cheer to the faithful. God, who had been doing poorly, got a boost. Dr. Grimme announced that, from an inscribed stone, which had been discovered in a temple, at Sinai, he had deciphered the story of the rescue of the infant Moses, from the Nile, by an Egyptian Princess.
London Observer, Oct. 25, 1925—a letter from Sir Flinders Petrie—that Dr. Grimme had made his translation by adding cracks in the stone, and some of its weather marks, to the hieroglyphics—that, in one division of the inscription he had "translated" as many scratches as he had veritable characters, to make the thing come out right.
If Dr. Grimme alleviated an itch with scratches, that is the temporary way by which problems always have been said to be solved.
Only to be phenomenal is to be at least questionable. Any scientist who claims more is trying to register divinity. If Life cannot be positively differentiated from anything else, the appearance of Life itself is deception. If, in mentality, there is no absolute dividing-line between intellectuality and imbecility, all wisdom is partly idiocy. The seeker of wisdom departs more and more from the state of the idiot, only to find that he is returning. Belief after belief fades from his mind: so his goal is the juncture of two obliterations. One is of knowing nothing, and the other is of knowing that there is nothing to know.
But here are we, at present not so wise as no longer to have ideas. Suppose we accept that anything phenomenal ever has developed, though only relatively, into considerable genuineness, or a good deal of a look of genuineness, so long as it is not examined. But it began in what we call fraudulency. Everybody who can
exceptionally do anything, began with a pose, with false claims, and with extreme self-deception. Our expression is that, in human affairs, rank imposture is often a sign of incipiency, or that astrologers, alchemists, and spiritualistic mediums are forerunners of what we shall have to call values, if we can no longer believe in truths. It could be that, with our data, we tell of nothing but lies, and at the same time be upon the track of future values.
Snails, little frogs, seals, reindeer have mysteriously appeared. The standardized explanation of mysterious human strangers, who have appeared at points upon this earth, acting as one supposes inhabitants of some other world would act, if arriving here, or acting as inhabitants of other parts of this earth, transported in a state of profound hypnosis, would probably act, is that of imposture. Having begun with a pretty liberal view of the prevalence of impostors, I am not going much to say that the characters of our data were not impostors, but am going to examine the reasons for saying that they were. If, except fraudulently, some of them never have been explained conventionally, we are just where we are in everything else that we take up, and that is in the position of having to pretend to think for ourselves.
The earliest of the alleged impostors in my records—for which, though not absolutely, I draw a dead line at the year 1800—is the Princess Caraboo, if not Mary Willcocks, though possibly Mrs. Mary Baker, but perhaps Mrs. Mary Burgess, who, the evening of April 3, 1817, appeared at the door of a cottage, near Bristol, England, and in an unknown language asked for food.
But I am not so much interested in whether the Princess, or Mary, was a rascal, as I am in the reasons for saying that she was. It does not matter whether we take up a theorem in celestial mechanics, or the case of a girl who jabbered, we come upon the bamboozlements by which conventional thought upon this earth is made and preserved.
The case of the angles in a triangle that equal two right angles has never been made out: no matter what refinements of measurement would indicate, ultra-refinement would show that there had been errors. Because of continuity, and because of discontinuity, nothing has ever been proved. If only by making a very bad
error to start with, Prof. Einstein's prediction of the curvature of lights worked out as it should work out, we suspect, before taking up the case of the Princess Caraboo that the conventional conclusion in her case was a product of mistakes.
That the Princess Caraboo was an impostor—first we shall take up the case, as it has been made out:
London Observer, June 10, 1923—that the girl, who spoke unintelligibly, was taken before a magistrate, Samuel Worrall, of Knowle Park, Bristol, who, instead of committing her as a vagrant, took her to his home. It is not recorded just what Mrs. Worrall thought of that. It is recorded that the girl was at least what is said to be "not unprepossessing." When questioned the "mysterious stranger" wrote in unknown characters, many of which looked like representations of combs. Newspaper correspondents interviewed her. She responded with a fluency of "combs," and a smattering of "bird cages" and "frying pans." The news spread, and linguists traveled far to try their knowledge, and finally one of them was successful. He was "a gentleman from the East Indies," and, speaking in the Malay language to the girl, he was answered. To him she told her story. Her name was Caraboo, and one day while walking in her garden in Java, she was seized by pirates, who carried her aboard a vessel, from which, after a long imprisonment, she escaped to the coast of England. The story was colorful with details of Javanese life. But then Mrs. Willcocks, not of Java, but of a small town in Devonshire, appeared and identified her daughter Mary. Mary broke down and confessed. She was not prosecuted for her imposture: instead, Mrs. Worrall was so kind as to pay her passage to America.
Mostly our concern is in making out that this case was not made out—or, more widely, that neither this nor any other case ever has been made out—but I notice a little touch of human interest entering here. I notice that we feel a disappointment, because Mary broke down and confessed. We much prefer to hear of impostors who stick to their impostures. If no absolute line can be drawn between morality and immorality, I can show, if I want to, that this touch of rascality in all of us—or at any rate in me—is a virtuous view, instead. So when an impostor sticks to his
imposture, and we are pleased, it is that we approve a resolutely attempted consistency, even when applied to a fabric of lies. Provided I can find material enough, I can have no trouble in making it appear "reasonable," as we call it, to accept that Mary, or the Princess, confessed, or did not confess, or questionably confessed.
Chambers’ Journal, 66-753—that Caraboo, the impostor, had told her story of alleged adventures, in the Malay language. Farther along, in this account—that the girl had spoken in an unknown language.
This is an inconsistency worth noting. We're on the trail of bamboozlement, though we don't have to go away back to the year 1817 to get there. We hunt around. We come upon a pamphlet, entitled Caraboo, published by J. M. Cutch, of Bristol, in the year 1817. We learn in this account, which is an attempt to show that Caraboo was unquestionably an impostor, that it was not the girl, but the "gentleman from the East Indies," whose name was Manuel Eyenesso, who was the impostor, so far as went the whole Javanese story. To pose as a solver of mysteries, he had pretended that to his questions, the girl was answering him in the Malay language, and pretending to translate her gibberish, he had made up a fanciful story of his own.
Caraboo had not told any story, in any known language, about herself. Her writings were not in Malay characters. They were examined by scientists, who could not identify them. Specimens were sent to Oxford, where they were not recognized. Consequently, the "gentleman from the East Indies" disappeared. We are told in the pamphlet that every Oxford scholar who examined the writings, "very properly and without a moment's hesitation, pronounced them to be humbug." That is swift propriety.
If the elaborate story of the Javanese Princess had been attributed to a girl who had told no understandable story of any kind, it seems to us to be worth while to look over the equally elaborate confession, which has been attributed to her. It may be that regretfully we shall have to give up a notion that a girl had been occultly transported from the planet Mars, or from somewhere up in Orion or Leo, but we are seeing more of the ways of suppressing mysteries.
[paragraph continues] The mad fishmonger of Worcester shovels his periwinkles everywhere.
According to what is said to be the confession, the girl was Mary Willcocks, born in the village of Witheridge, Devonshire, in the year 1791, from which at the age of 16 she had gone to London, where she had married twice. It is a long, detailed story. Apparently the whole story of Mary's adventures, from the time of her departure from Witheridge, to the time of her arrival in Bristol, is told in what is said to be the confession. Everything is explained—and then too much is explained. We come to a question that would be an astonisher, if we weren't just a little sophisticated, by this time—
By what freak of accomplishment did a Devonshire girl learn to speak Javanese?
The author of the confession explains that she had picked up with an East Indian, who had taught her the language.
If we cannot think that a girl, who had not even pretended to speak Javanese, would explain how she had picked up Javanese, it is clear enough that this part of the alleged confession is forgery. I explain it by thinking that somebody had been hired to write a confession, and with too much of a yarn for whatever skill he had, had overlooked the exposed imposture of the "gentleman from the East Indies."
All that I can make of the story is that a girl mysteriously appeared. It cannot be said that her story was imposture, because she told no intelligible story. It may be doubted that she confessed, if it be accepted that at least part of the alleged confession was forgery. Her mother did not go to Bristol and identify her, as, for the sake of a neat and convincing finish, the conventionalized story goes. Mrs. Worrall told that she had gone to Witheridge, where she had found the girl's mother, who had verified whatever she was required to verify. Caraboo was shipped away on the first vessel that sailed to America; or, as told in the pamphlet, Mrs. Worrall, with forbearance and charity, paid her passage far away. In Philadelphia, somebody took charge of her affairs, and, as if having never heard that she was supposed to have confessed, she gave exhibitions, writing in an unknown language. And I wouldn't give half this
space to the story of the Princess Caraboo, were it not for the epitomization, in her story, of all history. If there be God, and if It be ubiquitous, there must be a jostle of ubiquities because the Fishmonger of Worcester, too, is everywhere.
I should like to think that inhabitants of other worlds, or other parts of one existence, have been teleported to this earth. How I'd like it, if I were teleported the other way, has nothing to do with what I'd like to think has befallen somebody else. But I can't say that our own stories, anyway so far, have the neat and convincing finish of the conventional stories. Toward the end of the year 1850, a stranger, or I should say a "mysterious stranger," was found wandering in a village near Frankfort-on-the-Oder. How he got there, nobody knew. See the Athenaeum, April 15, 1851. We are told that his knowledge of German was imperfect. If the imperfections were filled out by another Manuel Eyenesso, I fear me that suggestions of some new geographical, or cosmographical, knowledge can't develop. The man was taken to Frankfort where he told his story, or where, to pose as a linguist, somebody told one for him. It was told that his name was Joseph Vorin, and that he had come from Laxaria. Laxaria is in Sakria, and Sakria is far from Europe—"beyond vast oceans."
In the London Daily Mail, Sept. 18, 1905, and following issues, are accounts of a young man who had been arrested in Paris, charged with vagrancy. It was impossible to understand him. In vain had he been tried with European and Asiatic languages, but, by means of signs, he had made known that he had come from Lisbian. Eisar was the young man's word for a chair: a table was a lotoba, and his sonar was his nose. Mr. George R. Sims, well-known criminologist, as well as a story writer, took the matter up scientifically. As announced by him, the mystery had been solved by him. The young man, an impostor, had transposed letters, in fashioning his words. So the word raise, transposed, becomes eisar. But what has a raise to do with a chair? It is said that true science is always simple. A chair raises one, said Mr. Sims, simply. Now take the word sonar. As we see, when Mr. Sims points it out to us, that word is a transposition of the word snore, or is almost. That's noses, or relation to noses.
The criminologists are not banded like some scientists. In Paris, the unbanded wisemen said that Mr. Sims’ transpositions were farfetched. With a freedom that would seem reckless to more canny scientists, or without waiting three or four months to find out what each was going to say, they expressed opinions. The savants at Glozel, in the year 1927, were cannier, but one can't say that their delays boosted the glories of science. One of the wisemen of Paris, who accused Mr. Sims of fetching too far, was the eminent scientist, M. Haag. "Take the young man's word Odir, for God," said M. Haag: "transpose that, and we have Dio, or very nearly. Dio is Spanish for God. The young man is Spanish." Another distinguished wiseman was M. Roty. He rushed into print, while M. Haag was still explaining. "Consider the word sacar, for house," said M. Roty. "Unquestionably we have a transposition of the word casa, with a difference of only one letter, and casa is Italian for house. The young man is Italian." Le Temps, September 18—another wiseman, a distinguished geographer, this time, identified the young man as one of the Russian Doukhobors.
Where would we be, and who would send the young ones to school, if all the other wisemen of our tribes had such independence? If it were not for a conspiracy that can be regarded as nothing short of providential, so that about what is taught in one school is taught in the other schools, one would spend one's lifetime, learning and unlearning, in school after school. As it is, the unlearning can be done, after leaving one school.
The young man was identified by the police, as Rinaldo Agostini, an Austrian, whose fingerprints had been taken several times before, somewhere else, when he had been arrested for vagrancy.
Whether the police forced this mystery to a pseudo-conclusion, or not, a suggestive instance is told of, in the London Daily Express, Oct. 16, 1906. A young woman had been arrested in Paris, charged with picking pockets, and to all inquiries she answered in an unknown language. Interpreters tried her with European and Asiatic languages, without success, and the magistrate ordered her to be kept under surveillance, in a prison infirmary. Almost immediately, watchers reported that she had done exactly what they
wanted to report that she had done—that she had talked in her sleep, not mumbling in any way that might be questionable, but speaking up "in fluent French, with the true Parisian accent." If anybody thinks that this book is an attack upon scientists, as a distinct order of beings, he has a more special idea of it than I have. As I'm seeing things, everybody's a scientist.
If there ever have been instances of teleportations of human beings from somewhere else to this earth, an examination of inmates of infirmaries and workhouses and asylums might lead to some marvelous astronomical disclosures. I suppose I shall be blamed for a new nuisance, if after the publication of these notions, mysterious strangers start cropping up, and when asked about themselves, point up to Orion or Andromeda. Suppose any human being ever should be translated from somewhere else to this earth, and should tell about it. Just about what chance would he have for some publicity? I neglected to note the date, but early in the year 1928, a man did appear in a town in New Jersey, and did tell that he had come from the planet Mars. Wherever he came from, everybody knows where he went, after telling that.
But, if human beings ever have been teleported to this earth from somewhere else, I should think that their clothes, different in cut and texture, would attract attention. Clothes were thought of by Manuel Eyenesso. He pretended that Caraboo had told him that, before arriving in Bristol, she had exchanged her gold-embroidered, Javanese dress for English clothes. Whatever the significance may be, I have noted a number of "mysterious strangers," or "wild men," who were naked.
A case that is mysterious, and that may associate with other mysteries, was reported in the London newspapers (Daily Mail, April 2; Daily News, April 3, 1923). It was at the time that Lord Carnarvon was dying, in Cairo, Egypt, of a disease that physicians said was septic pneumonia, but that, in some minds, was associated with the opening of Tut-Ankh-Amen's tomb. Upon Lord Carnarvon's estate, near Newbury, Hampshire, a naked man was running wild, often seen, but never caught. He was first seen, upon March 17th. Upon March 17th, Lord Carnarvon fell ill, and he died upon
[paragraph continues] April 5th. About April 5th, the wild man of Newbury ceased to be reported.
If human beings from somewhere else ever have been translated to this earth—
There are mysteries at each end, and in between, in the story of Cagliostro.
He appeared in London, and then in Paris, and spoke with an accent that never has been identified with any known language of this earth. If, according to most accounts of him, he was Joseph Balsamo, a Sicilian criminal, who, after a period of extraordinarily successful imposture, was imprisoned in Rome, until he died, that is his full life-story.
The vagueness of everything—and the merging of all things into everything else, so that stories that we, or some of us, have been taking, as "absolutely proved," turned out to be only history, or merely science. Hosts of persons suppose that the exposure of Cagliostro, as an impostor, is as firmly, or rationally, established, as are the principles of geology, or astronomy. And it is my expression that they are right about this.
Wanted—well, of course, if we could find data to support our own notions—but, anyway, wanted—data for at least not accepting the conventionalized story of Cagliostro:
See Trowbridge's story of Cagliostro. According to Trowbridge, the identification of Cagliostro was fraudulent. At the time of the Necklace Affair, the police of Paris, needing a scapegoat, so "identified" him, in order to discredit him, according to Trowbridge. No witness appeared, to identify him. There was no evidence, except that handwritings were similar. There was suggestion, in the circumstance that Balsamo had an uncle, whose name was Giuseppe Cagliostro. One supposes that a police official, whose labors were made worth while by contributions from the doctors of Paris, searched records until he came upon an occurrence of the name of Cagliostro in the family of a criminal, and then went on from that finding. Then it was testified that the handwritings of Balsamo and Cagliostro were similar. For almost everybody's belief that of course Cagliostro was identified as Joseph Balsamo, there
is no more than this for a base. In February, 1928, the New York newspapers told of a graphologist, who had refused to identify handwriting, according to the wishes of the side that employed him. According to all other cases that I have ever read of, anybody can get, for any handwriting, any identification that he pays for. If in any court, in any land, any scientific pronouncement should be embarrassing to anybody, that is because he has been too stingy to buy two expert opinions.
Cagliostro appeared, and nothing more definite can be said of his origin. He rose and dominated, as somebody from Europe, if transported to a South Sea Island, might be expected to capitalize his superiority. He was hounded by the medical wisemen, as Mesmer was hounded by them, and as anybody who, today, would interfere with flows of fees, would be hounded by them. Whether in their behalf, or because commonplace endings of all mysteries must be published, we are told, in all conventional accounts, that Cagliostro was an impostor, whose full life-story is known, and is without mystery.
It is said that, except where women were concerned, where not much can be expected, anyway, Cagliostro had pretty good brains. Yet we are told that, having been identified as an Italian criminal, he went to Italy.
There are two accounts of the disappearance of Cagliostro. One is a matter of mere rumors: that he had been seen in Aix-les-Bains; that he had been seen in Turin. The other is a definite story that he went to Rome, where, as Joseph Balsamo, he was sent to prison. A few years later, when Napoleon's forces were in Rome, somebody went to the prison and investigated. Cagliostro was not there. Perhaps he had died.