Edward Maitland.

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FED 2S193I

RISG \ i


Llol — H41



^tt ^xsioxxcni Romance of the Jfuttire.



In those clays shall "

Ana'eni Prophecy.





[_All Rights Rese)vcd.'\






N T/ie Pilgri77i and the Shrhie
was represented a youth escaping
from the trammels of traditional
belief, and laying himself wholly open to the
influences of the living Universe, so as to
allow his entire system of religious faith to
evolve itself freely from the contact of ex-
ternal nature with his own soul.
:; "In Higher Law a similar method was
: applied to Morals.

" Having endeavoured in these two books to
' exhibit the evolution of Religion and Morals
*L out of the contact of the world with the


human consciousness, the author cherishes the
hope of being able some day to complete the
series by a third."

It is in pursuance of the design thus
indicated in the preface to the Second
Edition of Higher LaWy that the present work
is offered. What the general intention of the
series now completed may be, as well, of
course, as how far that intention finds its fulfil-
ment in By and By, the reader is left to deter-
mine for himself. All that the author feels
disposed to add is, that whatever the short-
comings which may be discerned by others,
they can scarcely make a more formidable
list than those of which he himself is conscious.
This, so far as execution is concerned. For
who but the artist knows the artist's ideal .'^

London, April, 1873.



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive

in 2009 witii funding from

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign




ESCENDING slowly, surely, help-
lessly, towards earth ; the stars
growing dimmer, until their light
is utterly extinguished by the
mists w^hich, clammy, dense, and oh ! so cold,
are wrapping us round as in a death-shroud.
The silence absolute ; and nothing to indi-
cate the nature of the place that is to re-
ceive us on quitting our aerial course. Is
it land ? Is it sea ? Mountain or plain ?
A wilderness of snow, or a held of ice ?

" Imagine a group of conscious souls in
the interval between two existences, on the



point of being ushered Into a state of Being
absolutely new and untried, and devoid of the
confidence which comes only of experience,
— and you may Imagine the depth of those
sentiments of awe and mystery which pos-
sessed myself and my comrades on that
night, some five and forty years ago — night
so dread in itself, yet but for which, and its
relation to us, this our latter age would never
have been illumined by the bright, true, pure
spirit of him concerning whom I have under-
taken to tell."

The speaker was old Bertie Greathead.
The place was the common hall of The
Triangle. The audience consisted of the
members, young and old, of that famous Club,
besides some other persons. The occasion
was the first anniversary of the death of one of
the members, towards whose memoirs, written
by myself, Lawrence Wllmer, Bertie's narra-
tive was a contribution.

Havinof uttered the above sentences with
tearful eyes and faltering voice, Bertie paused
and gazed upon his hearers. The evident
sympathy he found In their looks reassured


him, and, with stronger accents, he began his
formal relation.

" Members of The Triangle, and other
friends here assembled, — The narrative which
I have undertaken to contribute towards a
connected history of the loved friend we have
lost, claims to be but a simple statement of
facts. As most of you know, the literary
function is not mine. Although for many
years a leader and teacher of youth, my busi-
ness has been aerographical and locomotive,
not mental or scholastic. In short, I am
simply a professor of aerial navigation. It
was on one occasion, when returning from an
excursion taken partly for the sake of visiting
foreign regions, partly for the purpose of in-
culcating my art, that the series of uncommon
incidents occurred without which there would
have been no occasion for me to appear now
before you.

" The time is forty-five years ago last
Christmas. Of the youths entrusted to my
charge for an aerial trip, to two only shall I
have occasion to refer, namely, Mr. Wilmer,
the father — lonof since dead — of our dear



Lawrence here, and our distinguished friend,
Charles Avenil, who, being unavoidably-
absent this evening, is represented by his
nephew and other relatives. It is of a third,
who joined our party on its route, and of the
way in which he joined it, that I have more
particularly to tell you.

" We were bound homewards from a so-
journ in the volcanic isles of the North Pole,
a district which had then recently been made
available for settlement, through the perfec-
tion to which the science of aerial navigation
and universal telegraphy had been brought.
Surrounded at a distance by a rarely passable
barrier of ice, these islands, nevertheless, en-
joy a fair climate for a considerable portion
of the year, owing in part to the presence of
oceanic currents from the Equator, and in
part to the prevalence of volcanic fires at a
short distance beneath the soil.

'' These facts are, doubtless, familiar to
most persons present. But, as I desire to be
fully comprehended by all, even the youngest,
of my hearers, I must request indulgence if,
for the sake of some, I go more fully into


detail than is requisite for others. The gar-
rulity and tediousness naturally appertaining
to seventy-five years of age, I shall endeavour
to suppress.

'' Desiring to avoid the crowd of summer
tourists, and to study without distraction the
meteorological and magnetic phenomena pre-
sented by the country under the total de-
privation of sunlight ; as well as to examine
at leisure the manners and traditions of the
tribes w^hose discover}^ by the lirst aerial
polar expedition made the great sensation
of a comparatively recent generation, owing
to the enormous and undoubted antiquity
of their records, w^hich showed that, though
isolated from the rest of mankind for tens
of thousands of years, they yet possessed
the same characteristics of form, manners,
and religious symbolism to which we had
been wont to ascribe a far later origin — for
these reasons, I say, we had extended our
sojourn nearly to mid-winter, intending to
return to England in time to spend the Fes-
tival of the Year with our friends at home.

''The winter solstice was just commencing


when we embarked on our return journey at
the North Polar Aerial Transit Station, in
the vehicle in which we had made the out-
ward voyage, my own favourite aeromotive,
a machine whose staunchness had been
proved in many a long and stormy flight
over all parts of the earth. How it came to
fail me on this occasion is still a matter of
doubt. It was probably through the action
of a sudden blast of intensely cold air upon
the cylinder of the decomposer (for it was a
magnetic-atmospheric propeller). However,
in mid-air, and mid- way upon our voyage,
we were so crippled as to have no choice but
to descend, and proceed either by land or sea,
according to the nature of the element upon
which we might alight, for the car was
adapted to either purpose.

" By aid of our parachute-apparatus, v/hich,
in spite of the intense cold, worked admirably,
we were, in a very few minutes after the acci-
dent, slowly and steadily descending towards
the earth. The only question of any import-
ance was as to where precisely we should
iind ourselves on alighting. In the event of


further progress being impracticable, and the
country being devoid of suppHes, we still had
sufficient to keep us until we could telegraph
for, and receive aid.

'* It is true that in those days the network
of wires which now cover both sea and land,
like the lines of latitude and longitude in the
maps devised by our ingenious ancestors, was
but scantily diffused over the Arctic regions.
But even then there were points for commu-
nication, though comparatively few and far
between ; and we did not doubt but that,
alight where we might, we should be able, by
travelling no very great distance, either by
land or sea, to summons from the Central
Home Depot an aeromotive to our relief

" And here 1 must be pardoned a digres-
sion if, for the sake of these little ones, I stop
a moment to call their attention to the bless-
ings which civilisation has conferred upon the
world in our days. Once upon a time, and
for myriads of ages, it was a chief business of
one generation of men to destroy the im-
provements made by another. Amid the
universal wreck and havoc of those Ages of


War, such a scheme as our universal network
of telegraph-wires would have been impos-
sible, if only for its costliness. It is true that
a war Involving equal, or even greater outlay,
Avould have been undertaken with readiness
and lightness of heart, so that it was not the
cost alone that interfered, but the fact that
humanity was still In Its destructive stage,
and therefore disinclined to make the same
effort on behalf of construction. It is because
we have got rid of the waste of war, and vast
armaments for national offence and defence,
and no longer absorb labour In useless works,
or withdraw it from working altogether, that
we have been able to construct and maintain
works of such vast magnitude and utility as
the Floating Oceanic Telegraph System, and
the corresponding Terrestrial Service.

" Our precise position was unknown to us.
Under ordinary circumstances this would
have been of little consequence. Such was the
speed of my aeromotive — scarcely surpassed
even by later inventions — that she must have
been very far out of her course to be unable
to recover it In a few hours. The voyage ta


the Pole is simple enough. Travellers have
but to steer northward until the needle points
vertically downwards, and then to look about
for a spot on which to alight. Twenty-four
hours due north, at an average speed of a
hundred miles an hour, is bound to bring them
in sight of the volcanic fires which, rising
from the summits of the Polar ?^IountaIns,
make such convenient beacons for aeronauts.
The time, however, varies somewhat, owing
to the action of the polar atmospheric cur-
rents, which frequently divert the traveller
from his direct course, and compel him to
approach the Pole in a spiral direction.

''Similarly, in returning from the Pole, the
spiral direction Is taken at the start, as it
happened in our case ; and it was the impos-
sibility of ascertaining the velocity of these
currents that prevented us from calculating
our position. In any other region we should
have remained aloft until daylight and then
leisurely selected a spot whereon to descend.
But as the accident to our machinery oc-
curred in the middle of an arctic winter, when
the night is several months in duration, it was


impossible to remain floating about waiting
for daylight.

'' Well, when it was indicated by the baro-
meter that we must be in the lower stratum
of air, and therefore very close to the earth's
surface, we adjusted our electric-reflector
lamp so as to project Its brilliant column of
light directly downwards. All that we dis-
covered, however, was the fact that on all
sides, as far as we could see, the earth was
covered by a mist so dense as to conceal
entirely from our view the spot we were
approaching. We were therefore unable to
determine whether it was for contact with a
solid or a fluid element that we ought to be

'' Descending very slowly and cautiously ;
checking our downward movement by work-
ingi* the spiral fans of our machine with our
hands, and watching intently for any sight or
sound that might indicate our whereabouts,
we were disposed to be somewhat appalled
by the intense stillness that prevailed. Of
course, high up, the stillness is equally intense,
save only when broken by the noise of the


propelling machinery, and the rushing by of
the air. But there, close to the earth, its
characteristics seemed different. I have no
doubt my young friend, Lawrence, or at least
Mr. Avenil, junior, has heard his relation
speak of the impression it made upon us '*

" I remember," said Avenil, '' my uncle
saying that Wilmer's father, who was then
about fifteen years old, asked if it were possi-
ble that they had missed the earth and got
foul of the dark side of the moon, or some
asteroid in which light and life are extinct ;
and that as he was speaking you were all
knocked off your seats as if by some invisible
vindicator of the honour of the heavenly body
in question."

" True, he was of a poetical temperament,
like his son after him. But the suggestion
turned out to be more appropriate than at
iirst appeared likely. It was neither earth
nor ocean that was about to receive us. Our
first intimxation that we were nearing anything,
came in the form of a blow from some unseen
body. Recoiling a little, we continued our
slow descent, until presently we received


another concussion ; a slighter one, for we
rebounded but a very little way from the
substance which had given it. The next
sensation was that of sliding down a nearly
perpendicular slope. It was clear that we
were alighting upon the side of a steep moun-
tain ; and supposing that we were in about
the eightieth degree of latitude, I hoped to
find ourselves either on the north coast of
Greenland, or In Spitzbergen, or on some
other land that borders on the Arctic circle,
and therefore within reach of a telegraph
point, and consequently of succour : for points
had recently been placed upon all the princi-
pal summits for the convenience of aerial
voyagers. That is, upon the principal per-
manent summits ; for of course icebergs were
not taken into account ; and it was upon a
gigantic Iceberg that, on finally settling down,
we found ourselves safely deposited."


HE first thine to be investisfated
was the practicablHty of repairing
our crippled machinery, with a
view to continuing our voyage.
A little examination showed that this was out
of the question. The next point was whether
we could reach the edge of the floe, and launch
the car upon the open sea. Before this could
be done, it was necessary that the mist should
clear off, for that was so dense as utterly to
defy the rays of our reflector. A third point
to be determined was that of the berg's
mobility, that is, whether it w^as upon a
motionless continent, or a drifting island that
we had alighted.

" In the meantime, it was necessary to take
precautions against the cold. By the aid of


our reflector, we ascertained that we had
slidden into a sort of wedge-shaped hollow,
or crater, with sides vertical or overhanging,
rising some fifteen or twenty feet above us
all round, except on the side nearly facing the
declivity of the berg, where there was an
opening some yards in width. The bottom
of our crater was tolerably smooth and level,
and so, taking all things into consideration,
we decided that we could not do better than
remain there for the present. And in a little
while after touching ground, or rather ice, we
were snugly ensconced in the angle of the
hollow, between solid encircling walls of green
ice, which, inclining over head, made an
admirable shelter, especially when supple-
mented by the floaters of the aeromotive,
which we detached for the purpose. Indeed,
it is no exaggeration to say we were comfort-
ably settled, both as regards our mental and
our physical condition, for those with me had
too much confidence in me, and I had too
much confidence in the resources still left to
us by science, to think of despairing of our
ultimate safety.


" Let me enumerate those resources. It
was still mid-winter, so that the berg would
not melt or turn over. We had provisions
that niight last us a couple of weeks or more,
and we might add to our store by catching
some seals or bears. Our ice-house Avas so
warm that we could save all our combustibles
for the purpose of illumination. It is true
there was not much chance at that season of
a traveller passing over our heads, or of his
perceiving our signals of distress, if there were
one. But there was a chance, and it was my
main hope, though its success depended upon
the thickness of the ice, and upon our finding
an aperture through which we could get at
the water. This, again, however, would be of
little use, unless our resting-place were in mo-
tion, for the chance consisted in our being able
to drop a grappling line through into the sea,
and hooking up a wire by which we could at
once communicate with home, and summon
relief. The floating telegraphs have all been
constructed with this view ; so that persons
at sea are always within a few miles of some
link in the magnetic network. We knew that


it was not impossible that even at that mo-
ment, while upon the top of the ice-floe, its
under side might be in contact with one of
these wires, and that it was only necessary to
reach it in order to obtain aid in a few

*' But to this desirable end two things were
almost certainly necessary. We must get at
the water in order to sink our line ; and we
must be in motion in order to catch the wire.
This once caught, any one of the lads of my
party could communicate with home by means
of his magnetic pocket-speaker, as readily as
tell the time by his watch.

" It is a strangely uncomfortable sensation,
that of being in the dark, and without the
slightest notion of the kind of place one is in.
Beside the discomfort we experienced on
this account, there was the necessity of learn-
ine something^ about our immediate surround-
ings, if we were to escape by leaving them.
So we spent much time in endeavouring to
grope around our cave. Whoever undertook
the office of explorer, was always made fast
by a cord to keep him from slipping away or


Otherwise being lost. AVe made several of
these attempts without any satisfactory re-
sult, for the ice sloped away so steeply on all
sides when we had got just outside the cave,
that it was with difficulty we could draw the
explorer back to us. It seemed precisely as
if we were in the crater of a volcano, with a
break in the wall on one side. The thickness
of the fog continued to neutralise all attempts
to gauge the darkness with the reflector.

*' My last attempt in this direction was
prompted by a surmise of so uncomfortable a
nature, that I was anxious to keep it to my-
self I had, for reasons obvious to the
scientific mind, erected the aeromotive's
pendulum in the centre of our nook, so as to
be always readily observable, and I had given
the lads strict injunctions to communicate to
me its slightest movement. For the first day
or two it was motionless. Then occasional
tremors were observed to be passing through
it. This mxade me watch anxiously for the
next development. The fog was our chief
enemy in the present. A steady oscillation of
the pendulum vrould indicate a rolling motion

VOL. I. 2


in the ice, that could only proceed from a
storm, which though at first distant, would in
all probability soon arrive and disperse the
fog. The larger and more compact the ice-
field, the smaller would be the arc described
by the pendulum. This was obvious. It
ought to have been equally obvious that the
higher we were above the sea-level, the larger
that arc would be. But I confess that this
had not occurred to me at the time of which I
am now speaking. The situation was far
from being a familiar one. Mountains don't
rock or roll.

" Well, it was the period we treated as
night, and for which we turned in to sleep,
when I was watching the movements of the
pendulum with a perplexity that increased as
they increased and varied. I thought every
one except myself was asleep. Suddenly, to
my astonishment and alarm, the pendulum,
instead of going backwards and forwards over
the diameter of the circle inscribed below it,
changed its direction, and described a circular
movement, passing completely round over the
circumference of the indicating circle.


" ' It's no use, Master Bertie,' said a voice
which at first startled me by its unexpected-
ness, but which I recognised as that of the
young Avenil, who, instead of sleeping, had
been quietly exercising his precociously
scientific faculties in watching the pendulum,
and drawinor his own inferences. ' It's no


use your trying to keep things to yourself,
for fear of frightening us. Look at this rod.'

" Resting one end of a short bar upon the
floor, he made the other end slowly describe
a circle in the air.

" ' This is where we are,' he said, pointing
to the upper end of the bar. ' It's just as well
we didn't lower any of the boys further down
when we were prospecting the outside of our
hollow tree. I shall go to sleep now. Good-

" He had made the discovery first, a dis-
covery which caused me to gasp with appre-
hension. At that moment a rushing sound as
of wind attracted my attention. I went to the
aperture of the cave and looked out. The
sight confirmed my worst fears. The fog
was entirely gone. Over head shone the

2 — 2


Stars out of a sky intensely crystalline and
black, save where the streamers of an Aurora
darted their pale colours athwart it. Tower-
ing before me was the steep slope of the
loftiest portion of the berg, adown the side of
which we had slidden ; and below me and on
all sides were depths apparently unfathomable.
To make sure before communicating my dis-
covery, I returned into the cave and brought
out the reflector. Turnino^ on the liorht to its
fullest extent, and directing the rays down-
wards, the whole truth was revealed. It was
upon no level ice-field that we had alighted,
nor even at the foot of an ice precipice, but on
the top of one of the highest peaks of a lofty
berg, whence descent seemed to be impossible.
And not only was the berg in motion, but, as
the pendulum indicated, it was rolling as if
approaching the period when through the
action of a warm sea-current upon its im-
mersed portion, it was liable to turn com-
pletely over.

'' However, as the danger of such a cata-
strophe did not appear to be imminent, the
discovery I had made still afforded room for


hope. We were In motion. That was a
valuable fact. The area of the Ice was limited,
so that the water could not be very far from
the base of our eminence. This too was
Important. The rolling proved us to be
detached from any field. Even though It
should be Impossible to descend from the
peak, we might be able to reach the sea with
a grappling line, and telegraph home for
relief If we succeeded In doing this, the only
thing that then remained for us to do, would
be to keep our position so brightly Illuminated,
that the Relief would be able to see us and
take us off ; for not knowing where we were,
we could not tell them where to look for us.

" These things passed through my mind as
I stood by the entrance to the cave. Return-
ing within, I was accosted by Avenll, who

" ' I have been making some calculations in
my head, and am very much Inclined to think
we must be on the top of a pretty high old
berg. What have you seen ? Is the fog
gone yet ?'

" Telling him to wrap his furs closely


around him (we all had dresses of fur, double
ones with fur on both sides), I took him out-
side and showed him our position.

*' ' I suppose,' he said, ' that these things
take to rocking and rolling a long time before
they can tumble over, so that we need not
trouble ourselves about that.'

'' ' Could we not,' he then asked, ' find out
whether it is ice or water down below, by-
firing some shots down ?'

" ' Certainly,' I said, ' if we had been pro-
vided with a gun.'

" ' I have my piece with me,' he replied,
* and some percussion bullets left from the
stock I brought out with me.'

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Online LibraryEdward MaitlandBy and by : an historical romance of the future (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 13)