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original conception. This conception, however, so
commonly entertained, has never, within my know
ledge, arisen out of any abstract considerations. Being,
on the contrary, always suggested, as I say, by the
vortical movements about centres, a reason for it,
also, a cause for the ingathering of all the orbs into
one, imagined to be already existing, was naturally
sought in the same direction among these cyclic move
ments themselves.

Thus it happened that, on announcement of the
gradual and perfectly regular decrease observed in the
orbit of Encke's comet at every successive revolution
about our sun, astronomers were nearly unanimous in
the opinion that the cause in question was found; that
a principle was discovered sufficient to account, physi
cally, for that final, universal agglomeration which,
I repeat, the analogical, symmetrical, or poetical in
stinct of man had predetermined to understand as
something more than a simple hypothesis.

This cause, this sufficient reason for the final in
gathering, was declared to exist in an exceedingly rare,
but still material medium pervading space; which
medium, by retarding, in some degree, the progress of
the comet, perpetually weakened its tangential force,
thus giving a predominance to the centripetal, which, of
course, drew the comet nearer and nearer at each revo
lution, and would eventually precipitate it upon the sun.


All this was strictly logical, admitting the medium or
ether; but this ether was assumed, most illogically, on
the ground that no other mode than the one spoken of
could be discovered of accounting for the observed
decrease in the orbit of the comet ; as if, from the fact
that we could discover no other mode of accounting
for it, it followed, in any respect, that no other mode
of accounting for it existed. It is clear that innumer
able causes might operate, in combination, to dimin
ish the orbit, without even a possibility of our ever
becoming acquainted with one of them. In the mean
time, it has never been fairly shown, perhaps, why the
retardation occasioned by the skirts of the sun's atmos
phere, through which the comet passes at perihelion,
is not enough to account for the phenomenon. That
Encke's comet will be absorbed into the sun is prob
able; that all the comets of the system will be ab
sorbed is more than merely possible ; but, in such case,
the principle of absorption must be referred to eccen
tricity of orbit, to the close approximation to the sun,
of the comets at their perihelia ; and is a principle not
affecting in any degree the ponderous spheres which
are to be regarded as the true material constituents of
the universe. Touching comets in general, let me here
suggest, in passing, that we cannot be far wrong in
looking upon them as the lightning flashes of the cos-
mica! heaven.

The idea of a retarding ether, and, through it, of a


final agglomeration of all things, seemed at one time,
however, to be confirmed by the observation of a posi
tive decrease in the orbit of the solid moon. By refer
ence to eclipses recorded 2500 years ago, it was found
that the velocity of the satellite's revolution then
was considerably less than it is now; that on the
hypothesis that its motion in its orbit is uniformly
in accordance with Kepler's law, and was accurately de
termined then, 2500 years ago, it is nowin advance
of the position it should occupy by nearly 9000 miles.
The increase of velocity proved, of course, a diminu
tion of orbit ; and astronomers were fast yielding to a
belief in an ether as the sole mode of accounting for
the phenomenon, when Lagrange came to the rescue.
He showed that, owing to the configurations of the
spheroids, the shorter axes of their ellipses are subject
to variation in length, the longer axes being perma
nent ; and that this variation is continuous and vibra
tory, so that every orbit is in a state of transition,
either from circle to ellipse or from ellipse to circle.
In the case of the moon, where the shorter axis is de
creasing, the orbit is passing from circle to ellipse, and,
consequently, is decreasing too; but, after a long
series of ages, the ultimate eccentricity will be at
tained; then the shorter axis will proceed to increase
until the orbit becomes a circle, when the process of
shortening will again take place; and so on forever.
In the case of the earth, the orbit is passing from ellipse


to circle. The facts thus demonstrated do away, of
course, with all necessity for supposing an ether, and
with all apprehension of the system's instability on
the ether's account.

It will be remembered that I have myself assumed
what we may term " an ether." I have spoken of a
subtle influence which we know to be ever in attend
ance upon matter, although becoming manifest only
through matter's heterogeneity. To this influence,
without daring to touch it at all hi any effort at ex
plaining its awful nature, I have referred the various
phenomena of electricity, heat, light, magnetism ; and,
more, of vitality, consciousness, and thought in a
word, of spirituality. It will be seen at once, then,
that the ether thus conveyed is radically distinct from
the ether of the astronomers, inasmuch as theirs is
matter and mine not.

With the idea of material ether, seems, thus, to have
departed altogether the thought of that universal ag
glomeration so long predetermined by the poetical
fancy of mankind, an agglomeration in which a
sound philosophy might have been warranted in put
ting faith, at least to a certain extent, if for no other
reason than that by this poetical fancy it had been so
predetermined. But so far as astronomy, so far as
mere physics, have yet spoken, the cycles of the uni
verse have no conceivable end. Had an end been
demonstrated, however, from so purely collateral a


cause as an ether, man's instinct of the Divine capacity
to adapt would have rebelled against the demonstra
tion. We should have been forced to regard the uni
verse with some such sense of dissatisfaction as we
experience in contemplating an unnecessary complex
work of human art. Creation would have affected us
as an imperfect plot in a romance, where the denoue'
ment is awkwardly brought about by interposed
incidents external and foreign to the main subject, in
stead of springing out of the bosom of the thesis, out
of the heart of the ruling idea ; instead of arising as a
result of the primary proposition, as inseparable and
inevitable part and parcel of the fundamental concep
tion of the book.

What I mean by the symmetry of mere surface will
now be more clearly understood. It is simply by the
blandishment of this symmetry that we have been
beguiled into the general idea of which Madler's hy
pothesis is but a part, the idea of the vortical indraw-
ing of the orbs. Dismissing this nakedly physical
conception, the symmetry of principle sees the end of
all things metaphysically involved in the thought of a
beginning; seeks and finds in this origin of all things
the rudiment of this end ; and perceives the impiety of
supposing this end likely to be brought about less
simply, less directly, less obviously, less artistically,
than through the reaction of the originating Act.

Recurring, then, to a previous suggestion, let us


understand the systems, let us understand each star
with its attendant planets, as but a Titanic atom exist
ing in space with precisely the same inclination for
unity which characterized, in the beginning, the actual
atoms after their irradiation throughout the universal
sphere. As these original atoms rushed toward each
other in generally straight lines, so let us conceive as
at least generally rectilinear the paths of the system-
atoms toward their respective centres of aggregation;
and in this direct drawing together of the systems into
clusters, with a similar and simultaneous drawing to
gether of the clusters themselves while undergoing
consolidation, we have at length attained the great
Now, the awful present, the existing condition of the

Of the still more awful future a not irrational an
alogy may guide us in framing an hypothesis. The
equilibrium between the centripetal and centrifugal
forces of each system being necessarily destroyed upon
attainment of a certain proximity to the nucleus of the
cluster to which it belongs, there must occur, at once,
a chaotic, or seemingly chaotic, precipitation of the
moons upon the planets, of the planets upon the suns,
and of the suns upon the nuclei ; and the general re
sult of this precipitation must be the gathering of the
myriad now-existing stars of the firmament into an
almost infinitely less number of almost infinitely su
perior spheres. In being immeasurably fewer, the


worlds of that day will be immeasurably greater than
our own. Then, indeed, amid unfathomable abysses
will be glaring unimaginable suns. But all this will
be merely a climatic magnificence foreboding the great
end. Of this end the new genesis described can be
but a very partial postponement. While undergoing
consolidation, the clusters themselves, with a speed
prodigiously accumulative, have been rushing toward
their own general centre, and now, with a thousand
fold electric velocity, commensurate only with their
material grandeur and with the spiritual passion of
their appetite for oneness, the majestic remnants of
the tribe of stars flash, at length, into a common em
brace. The inevitable catastrophe is at hand.

But this catastrophe what is it ? We have seen
accomplished the ingatherings of the orbs. Hence
forward, are we not to understand one material globe
of globes as constituting and comprehending the uni
verse ? Such a fancy would be altogether at war with
every assumption and consideration of this discourse.

I have already alluded to that absolute reciprocity
of adaptation which is the idiosyncrasy of the Divine
art, stamping it Divine. Up to this point of our re
flections, we have been regarding the electrical influ
ence as a something by dint of whose repulsion alone
matter is enabled to exist in that state of diffusion
demanded for the fulfilment of its purposes; so far, in
a word, we have been considering the influence in



question as ordained for matter's sake to subserve the
objects of matter. With a perfectly legitimate reci
procity we are now permitted to look at matter as
created solely for the sake of this influence, solely to
serve the objects of this spiritual ether. Through the
aid, by the means, through the agency of matter,
and by dint of its heterogeneity, is this ether mani
fested is spirit individualized. It is merely in the
development of this ether, through heterogeneity, that
particular masses of matter become animate, sensi
tive, and in the ratio of their heterogeneity, some
reaching a degree of sensitiveness involving what we
call thought, and thus attaining conscious intelligence.

In this view we are enabled to perceive matter as
a means, not as an end. Its purposes are thus seen
to have been comprehended in its diffusion ; and with
the return into unity these purposes cease. The ab
solutely consolidated globe of globes would be object
less, therefore not for a moment could it continue to
exist. Matter, created for an end, would unquestion
ably, on fulfilment of that end, be matter no longer.
Let us endeavor to understand that it would disappear,
and that God would remain all in all.

That every work of Divine conception must coexist
and coexpire with its particular design seems to me
especially obvious; and I make no doubt that, on per
ceiving the final globe of globes to be objectless, the
majority of my readers will be satisfied with my



" therefore it cannot continue to exist." Neverthe
less, as the startling thought of its instantaneous dis
appearance is one which the most powerful intellect
cannot be expected readily to entertain on grounds so
decidedly abstract, let us endeavor to look at the idea
from some other and more ordinary point of view;
let us see how thoroughly and beautifully it is corrob
orated in an a posteriori consideration of matter as
we actually find it.

I have before said that " attraction and repulsion
being undeniably the sole properties by which matter
is manifested to mind, we are justified in assuming
that matter exists only as attraction and repulsion; in
other words, that attraction and repulsion are matter,
there being no conceivable case in which we may not
employ the term * matter ' and the terms * attraction '
and * repulsion ' taken together as equivalent, and
therefore convertible, expressions of logic." *

Now, the very definition of attraction implies par
ticularity, the existence of parts, particles, or atoms;
for we define it as the tendency of " each atom, etc., to
every other atom," etc., according to a certain law. Of
course, where there are no parts, where there is abso
lute unity, where the tendency to oneness is satisfied,
there can be no attraction : this has been fully shown,
and all philosophy admits it. When, on fulfilment of
its purposes, then, matter shall have returned into its

1 Pages 205, 206.

VOL. X. 21. ?


original condition of one, a condition which presup
poses the expulsion of the separative ether, whose
province and whose capacity are limited to keeping
the atoms apart until that great day when, this ether
being no longer needed, the overwhelming pressure of
the finally collective attraction shall at length just
sufficiently predominate * and expel it, when, I say,
matter, finally, expelling the ether, shall have returned
into absolute unity, it will then (to speak paradoxically
for the moment) be matter without attraction and
without repulsion, in other words, matter without
matter ; in other words, again, matter no more. In
sinking into unity, it will sink at once into that noth
ingness which, to all finite perception, unity must be ;
into that material nihility from which alone we can
conceive it to have been evoked, to have been cre
ated by the volition of God.

I repeat, then : Let us endeavor to comprehend that
the final globe of globes will instantaneously disap
pear, and that God will remain all in all.

But are we here to pause ? Not so. On the uni
versal agglomeration on dissolution, we can readily
conceive that a new and perhaps totally different series
of conditions may ensue, another creation and irra
diation, returning into itself, another action and re
action of the Divine Will. Guiding our imaginations
by that omniprevalent law of laws, the law of perio-

1 " Gravity, therefore, must be the strongest of forces." See page 230.


dicity, are we not, indeed, more than justified in en
tertaining a belief let us say, rather, in indulging a
hope that the processes we have here ventured to
contemplate will be renewed forever, and forever, and
forever; a novel universe swelling into existence and
then subsiding into nothingness at every throb of the
Heart Divine ?

And now, this Heart Divine what is it ? It is our

Let not the merely seeming irreverence of this idea
frighten our souls from that cool exercise of conscious
ness, from that deep tranquillity of self-inspection,
through which alone we can hope to attain the pres
ence of this, the most sublime of truths, and look it
leisurely in the face.

The phenomena on which our conclusions must at
this point depend are merely spiritual shadows, but
not the less thoroughly substantial.

We walk about, amid the destinies of our world-
existence, encompassed by dim and ever present
memories of a destiny more vast, very distant in the
bygone time, and infinitely awful.

We live out a youth peculiarly haunted by such
dreams, yet never mistaking them for dreams. As
memories we know them. During our youth the dis
tinction is too clear to deceive us even for a moment.

So long as this youth endures, the feeling that we
exist is the most natural of all feelings. We under-


stand it thoroughly. That there was a period at which
we did not exist, or, that it might so have happened
that we never had existed at all, are the considera
tions, indeed, which, during this youth, we find diffi
culty in understanding. Why we should not exist, is,
up to the epoch of our manhood, of all queries the
most unanswerable. Existence, self-existence, exist
ence from all time to all eternity, seems, up to the
epoch of manhood, a normal and questionable condi
tion, seems, because it is.

But now comes the period at which a conventional
world-reason awakens us from the truth of our dream.
Doubt, surprise, and incomprehensibility arrive at the
same moment. They say: " You live, and the time
was when you lived not. You have been created. An
Intelligence exists greater than your own; and it is
only through this Intelligence you live at all." These
things we struggle to comprehend, and cannot, can
not, because these things, being untrue, are thus, of
necessity, incomprehensible.

No thinking being lives who, at some luminous point
of his life of thought, has not felt himself lost amid
the surges of futile efforts at understanding or believ
ing that anything exists greater than his own soul.
The utter impossibility of any one's soul feeling itself
inferior to another ; the intense, overwhelming dissatis
faction and rebellion at the thought ; these, with the
omniprevalent aspirations at perfection, are but the



spiritual, coincident with the material, struggles to
ward the original unity; are, to my mind at least, a
species of proof far surpassing what man terms demon
stration that no one soul is inferior to another; that
nothing is, or can be, superior to any one soul; that
each soul is, in part, its own God, its own Creator ; in a
word, that God the material and spiritual God now
exists solely in the diffused matter and spirit of the
universe; and that the regathering of this diffused
matter and spirit will be but the reconstitution of the
purely spiritual and individual God.

In this view, and in this view alone, we comprehend
the riddles of Divine injustice, of inexorable fate. In
this view alone the existence of evil becomes intelli
gible ; but in this view it becomes more it becomes
endurable. Our souls no longer rebel at a sorrow
which we ourselves have imposed upon ourselves, in
furtherance of our own purposes, with a view, if even
with a futile view, to the extension of our own joy.

I have spoken of memories that haunt us during
our youth. They sometimes pursue us even in our
manhood; assume gradually less and less indefinite
shapes ; now and then speak to us with low voices,
saying :

" There was an epoch in the night of time when a
still-existent Being existed, 1 one of an absolutely in-

1 See pages 280, 281, paragraph commencing " I reply that the right," and
ending " proper and particular God."



finite number of similar beings that people the abso
lutely infinite domains of the absolutely infinite space.
It was not and is not in the power of this Being, any
more than it is in your own, to extend, by actual in
crease, the joy of His existence ; but just as it is in your
power to expand or to concentrate your pleasures (the
absolute amount of happiness remaining always the
same) so did and does a similar capability appertain
to this Divine Being, who thus passes His eternity in
perpetual variation of Concentrated Self and almost
Infinite Self -Diffusion. What you call the universe is
but his present expansive existence. He now feels His
life through an infinity of imperfect pleasures, the par
tial and pain-intertangled pleasures of those incon
ceivably numerous things which you designate as His
creatures, but which are really but infinite individual-
izations of Himself. All these creatures, all, those
which you term animate as well as those to whom you
deny life for no better reason than that you do not
behold it in operation, all these creatures have, in a
greater or less degree, a capacity for pleasure and for
pain; but the general sum of their sensations is pre
cisely that amount of happiness which appertains by
right to the Divine Being when concentrated within
Himself. These creatures are all, too, more or less
conscious intelligences; conscious, first, of a proper
identity; conscious, secondly, and by faint indeter
minate glimpses, of an identity with the Divine Being



of whom we speak, of an identity with God. Of the
two classes of consciousness, fancy that the former
will grow weaker, the latter stronger, during the long
succession of ages which must elapse before these
myriads of individual intelligences become blended
when the bright stars become blended into One.
Think that the sense of individual identity will be
gradually merged in the general consciousness; that
man, for example, ceasing imperceptibly to feel him
self man, will at length attain that awfully triumphant
epoch when he shall recognize his existence as that of
Jehovah. In the meantime bear in mind that all is
life life life within life, the less within the greater,
and all within the Spirit Divine.

The theories of the universe propounded in Eureka
had, it appears, been under consideration with Poe for
a year or more previous to the publication of that

In February, 1848, Poe had outlined these theories
in a letter " to a correspondent " (whose name is not
recorded), of which the following are the more im
portant portions :

" By the by, lest you infer that my views in detail
3 2 7


are the same as those advanced in the Nebular
Hypothesis, I venture to offer a few addenda, the sub
stance of which was penned, though never printed,
several years ago, under the head of


" As soon as the beginning of the next century it will
be entered in the books that the sun was originally
condensed at once (not gradually, according to the
supposition of Laplace) to his smallest size; that, thus
condensed, he rotated on an axis; that this axis of
rotation was not the central line of his figure, so that
he not only rotated, but revolved in an elliptical orbit
(the rotation and revolution are one, but I separate
them for convenience of illustration); that, thus
formed and thus revolving, he was on fire and sent into
space, his substance in vapor, this vapor reaching
farthest on the side of the larger hemisphere, partly on
account of the largeness, but principally because the
force of the fire was greater there ; that, in due time
the vapor, not necessarily carried then to the place
now occupied by Neptune, condensed into that planet ;
that Neptune took, as a matter of course, the same
figure that the sun had, which figure made his rotation
a revolution in an elliptical orbit; that, in conse
quence of such revolution, in consequence of his being
carried backward at each of the daily revolutions, the



velocity of his annual revolution is not so great as it
would be if it depended solely upon the sun's velocity
of rotation (Kepler's third law); that his figure, by
influencing his rotation the heavier hah*, as it turns
downward toward the sun, gains an impetus sufficient
to carry it past the direct line of attraction, and thus
to throw outward the centre of gravity gave him
power to save himself from falling to the sun (and,
perhaps, to work himself gradually outward to the
position he now occupies) ; that he received, through
a series of ages, the sun's heat, which penetrated to
his centre, causing volcanoes eventually, and thus
throwing off vapor, and which evaporated substances
upon his surface, till finally his moons and his gaseous
ring (if it is true that he has a ring) were produced;
that these moons took elliptical forms, rotated and
revolved, ' both under one,' were kept in their monthly
orbits by the centrifugal force acquired in their daily
orbits, and required a longer time to make their
monthly revolutions than they would have required if
they had had no daily revolutions.

" I have said enough, without referring to the other
planets, to give you an inkling of my hypothesis, which
is all I intended to do.

" You perceive that I hold to the idea that our moon
must rotate on her axis oftener than she revolves
round her primary, the same being the case with the
moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus.

3 2 9


" Since the penning, a closer analysis of the matter
contained has led me to modify somewhat my opinion
as to the origin of the satellites ; that is, I hold now
that they came, not from vapor sent off in volcanic

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