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The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer Lytton

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of the rocks which constituted its boundary, was cultivated to
the nicest degree, except where certain allotments of mountain
and pasture were humanely left free to the sustenance of the
harmless animals they had tamed, though not for domestic use.
So great is their kindness towards these humbler creatures,
that a sum is devoted from the public treasury for the purpose
of deporting them to other Vril-ya communities willing to
receive them (chiefly new colonies), whenever they become too
numerous for the pastures allotted to them in their native
place. They do not, however, multiply to an extent comparable
to the ratio at which, with us, animals bred for slaughter,
increase. It seems a law of nature that animals not useful to
man gradually recede from the domains he occupies, or even
become extinct. It is an old custom of the various sovereign
states amidst which the race of the Vril-ya are distributed, to
leave between each state a neutral and uncultivated
border-land. In the instance of the community I speak of, this
tract, being a ridge of savage rocks, was impassable by foot,
but was easily surmounted, whether by the wings of the
inhabitants or the air-boats, of which I shall speak hereafter.
Roads through it were also cut for the transit of vehicles
impelled by vril. These intercommunicating tracts were always
kept lighted, and the expense thereof defrayed by a special
tax, to which all the communities comprehended in the
denomination of Vril-ya contribute in settled proportions. By
these means a considerable commercial traffic with other
states, both near and distant, was carried on. The surplus
wealth on this special community was chiefly agricultural. The
61community was also eminent for skill in constructing implements
connected with the arts of husbandry. In exchange for such
merchandise it obtained articles more of luxury than necessity.
There were few things imported on which they set a higher price
than birds taught to pipe artful tunes in concert. These were
brought from a great distance, and were marvellous for beauty
of song and plumage. I understand that extraordinary care was
taken by their breeders and teachers in selection, and that the
species had wonderfully improved during the last few years. I
saw no other pet animals among this community except some very
amusing and sportive creatures of the Batrachian species,
resembling frogs, but with very intelligent countenances, which
the children were fond of, and kept in their private gardens.
They appear to have no animals akin to our dogs or horses,
though that learned naturalist, Zee, informed me that such
creatures had once existed in those parts, and might now be
found in regions inhabited by other races than the Vril-ya.
She said that they had gradually disappeared from the more
civilised world since the discovery of vril, and the results
attending that discovery had dispensed with their uses.
Machinery and the invention of wings had superseded the horse
as a beast of burden; and the dog was no longer wanted either
for protection or the chase, as it had been when the ancestors
of the Vril-ya feared the aggressions of their own kind, or
hunted the lesser animals for food. Indeed, however, so far as
the horse was concerned, this region was so rocky that a horse
could have been, there, of little use either for pastime or
burden. The only creature they use for the latter purpose is a
kind of large goat which is much employed on farms. The nature
of the surrounding soil in these districts may be said to have
first suggested the invention of wings and air-boats. The
largeness of space in proportion to the space occupied by the
city, was occasioned by the custom of surrounding every house
with a separate garden. The broad main street, in which
Aph-Lin dwelt, expanded into a vast square, in which were
62placed the College of Sages and all the public offices; a
magnificent fountain of the luminous fluid which I call naptha
(I am ignorant of its real nature) in the centre. All these
public edifices have a uniform character of massiveness and
solidity. They reminded me of the architectural pictures of
Martin. Along the upper stories of each ran a balcony, or
rather a terraced garden, supported by columns, filled with
flowering plants, and tenanted by many kinds of tame birds.
>From the square branched several streets, all broad and
brilliantly lighted, and ascending up the eminence on either
side. In my excursions in the town I was never allowed to go
alone; Aph-Lin or his daughter was my habitual companion. In
this community the adult Gy is seen walking with any young An
as familiarly as if there were no difference of sex.

The retail shops are not very numerous; the persons who attend
on a customer are all children of various ages, and exceedingly
intelligent and courteous, but without the least touch of
importunity or cringing. The shopkeeper himself might or might
not be visible; when visible, he seemed rarely employed on any
matter connected with his professional business; and yet he had
taken to that business from special liking for it, and quite
independently of his general sources of fortune.

The Ana of the community are, on the whole, an indolent set of
beings after the active age of childhood. Whether by
temperament or philosophy, they rank repose among the chief
blessings of life. Indeed, when you take away from a human
63being the incentives to action which are found in cupidity or
ambition, it seems to me no wonder that he rests quiet.

In their ordinary movements they prefer the use of their feet
to that of their wings. But for their sports or (to indulge in
a bold misuse of terms) their public 'promenades,' they employ
the latter, also for the aerial dances I have described, as
well as for visiting their country places, which are mostly
placed on lofty heights; and, when still young, they prefer
their wings for travel into the other regions of the Ana, to
vehicular conveyances.

Those who accustom themselves to flight can fly, if less
rapidly than some birds, yet from twenty-five to thirty miles
an hour, and keep up that rate for five or six hours at a
stretch. But the Ana generally, on reaching middle age, are
not fond of rapid movements requiring violent exercise.
Perhaps for this reason, as they hold a doctrine which our own
physicians will doubtless approve- viz., that regular
transpiration through the pores of the skin is essential to
health, they habitually use the sweating-baths to which we give
the name Turkish or Roman, succeeded by douches of perfumed
waters. They have great faith in the salubrious virtue of
certain perfumes.

It is their custom also, at stated but rare periods, perhaps
four times a-year when in health, to use a bath charged with

* I once tried the effect of the vril bath. It was very
similar in its invigorating powers to that of the baths at
Gastein, the virtues of which are ascribed by many physicians
to electricity; but though similar, the effect of the vril bath
was more lasting.

They consider that this fluid, sparingly used, is a great
sustainer of life; but used in excess, when in the normal state
of health, rather tends to reaction and exhausted vitality.
For nearly all their diseases, however, they resort to it as
the chief assistant to nature in throwing off their complaint.

In their own way they are the most luxurious of people, but all
their luxuries are innocent. They may be said to dwell in an
atmosphere of music and fragrance. Every room has its
64mechanical contrivances for melodious sounds, usually tuned
down to soft-murmured notes, which seem like sweet whispers
from invisible spirits. They are too accustomed to these
gentle sounds to find them a hindrance to conversation, nor,
when alone, to reflection. But they have a notion that to
breathe an air filled with continuous melody and perfume has
necessarily an effect at once soothing and elevating upon the
formation of character and the habits of thought. Though so
temperate, and with total abstinence from other animal food
than milk, and from all intoxicating drinks, they are delicate
and dainty to an extreme in food and beverage; and in all their
sports even the old exhibit a childlike gaiety. Happiness is
the end at which they aim, not as the excitement of a moment,
but as the prevailing condition of the entire existence; and
regard for the happiness of each other is evinced by the
exquisite amenity of their manners.

Their conformation of skull has marked differences from that of
any known races in the upper world, though I cannot help
thinking it a development, in the course of countless ages of
the Brachycephalic type of the Age of Stone in Lyell's
'Elements of Geology,' C. X., p. 113, as compared with the
Dolichocephalic type of the beginning of the Age of Iron,
correspondent with that now so prevalent amongst us, and called
the Celtic type. It has the same comparative massiveness of
forehead, not receding like the Celtic- the same even roundness
in the frontal organs; but it is far loftier in the apex, and
far less pronounced in the hinder cranial hemisphere where
phrenologists place the animal organs. To speak as a
phrenologist, the cranium common to the Vril-ya has the organs
of weight, number, tune, form, order, causality, very largely
developed; that of construction much more pronounced than that
of ideality. Those which are called the moral organs, such as
conscientiousness and benevolence, are amazingly full;
amativeness and combativeness are both small; adhesiveness
large; the organ of destructiveness (i.e., of determined
65clearance of intervening obstacles) immense, but less than that
of benevolence; and their philoprogenitiveness takes rather the
character of compassion and tenderness to things that need aid
or protection than of the animal love of offspring. I never
met with one person deformed or misshapen. The beauty of their
countenances is not only in symmetry of feature, but in a
smoothness of surface, which continues without line or wrinkle
to the extreme of old age, and a serene sweetness of
expression, combined with that majesty which seems to come from
consciousness of power and the freedom of all terror, physical
or moral. It is that very sweetness, combined with that
majesty, which inspired in a beholder like myself, accustomed
to strive with the passions of mankind, a sentiment of
humiliation, of awe, of dread. It is such an expression as a
painter might give to a demi-god, a genius, an angel. The
males of the Vril-ya are entirely beardless; the Gy-ei
sometimes, in old age, develop a small moustache.

I was surprised to find that the colour of their skin was not
uniformly that which I had remarked in those individuals whom I
had first encountered,- some being much fairer, and even with
blue eyes, and hair of a deep golden auburn, though still of
complexions warmer or richer in tone than persons in the north
of Europe.

I was told that this admixture of colouring arose from
intermarriage with other and more distant tribes of the
Vril-ya, who, whether by the accident of climate or early
distinction of race, were of fairer hues than the tribes of
which this community formed one. It was considered that the
dark-red skin showed the most ancient family of Ana; but they
attached no sentiment of pride to that antiquity, and, on the
contrary, believed their present excellence of breed came from
frequent crossing with other families differing, yet akin; and
they encourage such intermarriages, always provided that it be
with the Vril-ya nations. Nations which, not conforming their
66manners and institutions to those of the Vril-ya, nor indeed
held capable of acquiring the powers over the vril agencies
which it had taken them generations to attain and transmit,
were regarded with more disdain than the citizens of New York
regard the negroes.

I learned from Zee, who had more lore in all matters than any
male with whom I was brought into familiar converse, that the
superiority of the Vril-ya was supposed to have originated in
the intensity of their earlier struggles against obstacles in
nature amidst the localities in which they had first settled.
"Wherever," said Zee, moralising, "wherever goes on that early
process in the history of civilisation, by which life is made a
struggle, in which the individual has to put forth all his
powers to compete with his fellow, we invariably find this
result- viz., since in the competition a vast number must
perish, nature selects for preservation only the strongest
specimens. With our race, therefore, even before the discovery
of vril, only the highest organisations were preserved; and
there is among our ancient books a legend, once popularly
believed, that we were driven from a region that seems to
denote the world you come from, in order to perfect our
condition and attain to the purest elimination of our species
by the severity of the struggles our forefathers underwent; and
that, when our education shall become finally completed, we are
destined to return to the upper world, and supplant all the
inferior races now existing therein."

Aph-Lin and Zee often conversed with me in private upon the
political and social conditions of that upper world, in which
Zee so philosophically assumed that the inhabitants were to be
exterminated one day or other by the advent of the Vril-ya.
They found in my accounts,- in which I continued to do all I
could (without launching into falsehoods so positive that they
would have been easily detected by the shrewdness of my
listeners) to present our powers and ourselves in the most
flattering point of view,- perpetual subjects of comparison
67between our most civilised populations and the meaner
subterranean races which they considered hopelessly plunged in
barbarism, and doomed to gradual if certain extinction. But
they both agreed in desiring to conceal from their community
all premature opening into the regions lighted by the sun; both
were humane, and shrunk from the thought of annihilating so
many millions of creatures; and the pictures I drew of our
life, highly coloured as they were, saddened them. In vain I
boasted of our great men- poets, philosophers, orators,
generals- and defied the Vril-ya to produce their equals.
"Alas," said Zee, "this predominance of the few over the many
is the surest and most fatal sign of a race incorrigibly
savage. See you not that the primary condition of mortal
happiness consists in the extinction of that strife and
competition between individuals, which, no matter what forms of
government they adopt, render the many subordinate to the few,
destroy real liberty to the individual, whatever may be the
nominal liberty of the state, and annul that calm of existence,
without which, felicity, mental or bodily, cannot be attained?
Our notion is, that the more we can assimilate life to the
existence which our noblest ideas can conceive to be that of
spirits on the other side of the grave, why, the more we
approximate to a divine happiness here, and the more easily we
glide into the conditions of being hereafter. For, surely, all
we can imagine of the life of gods, or of blessed immortals,
supposes the absence of self-made cares and contentious
passions, such as avarice and ambition. It seems to us that it
must be a life of serene tranquility, not indeed without active
occupations to the intellectual or spiritual powers, but
occupations, of whatsoever nature they be, congenial to the
idiosyncrasies of each, not forced and repugnant- a life
gladdened by the untrammelled interchange of gentle affections,
in which the moral atmosphere utterly kills hate and vengeance,
and strife and rivalry. Such is the political state to which
68all the tribes and families of the Vril-ya seek to attain, and
towards that goal all our theories of government are shaped.
You see how utterly opposed is such a progress to that of the
uncivilised nations from which you come, and which aim at a
systematic perpetuity of troubles, and cares, and warring
passions aggravated more and more as their progress storms its
way onward. The most powerful of all the races in our world,
beyond the pale of the Vril-ya, esteems itself the best
governed of all political societies, and to have reached in
that respect the extreme end at which political wisdom can
arrive, so that the other nations should tend more or less to
copy it. It has established, on its broadest base, the
Koom-Posh- viz., the government of the ignorant upon the
principle of being the most numerous. It has placed the
supreme bliss in the vying with each other in all things, so
that the evil passions are never in repose- vying for power,
for wealth, for eminence of some kind; and in this rivalry it
is horrible to hear the vituperation, the slanders, and
calumnies which even the best and mildest among them heap on
each other without remorse or shame."

"Some years ago," said Aph-Lin, "I visited this people, and
their misery and degradation were the more appalling because
they were always boasting of their felicity and grandeur as
compared with the rest of their species. And there is no hope
that this people, which evidently resembles your own, can
improve, because all their notions tend to further
deterioration. They desire to enlarge their dominion more and
more, in direct antagonism to the truth that, beyond a very
limited range, it is impossible to secure to a community the
happiness which belongs to a well-ordered family; and the more
they mature a system by which a few individuals are heated and
swollen to a size above the standard slenderness of the millions,
the more they chuckle and exact, and cry out, 'See by what great
exceptions to the common littleness of our race we prove the
magnificent results of our system!'"
"In fact," resumed Zee, "if the wisdom of human life be to
approximate to the serene equality of immortals, there can be no
more direct flying off into the opposite direction than a system
which aims at carrying to the utmost the inequalities and
turbulences of mortals. Nor do I see how, by any forms of
religious belief, mortals, so acting, could fit themselves even to
appreciate the joys of immortals to which they still expect to be
transferred by the mere act of dying. On the contrary, minds
accustomed to place happiness in things so much the reverse of
godlike, would find the happiness of gods exceedingly dull, and
would long to get back to a world in which they could quarrel with
each other."

Chapter XVI.

I have spoken so much of the Vril Staff that my reader may
expect me to describe it. This I cannot do accurately, for I
was never allowed to handle it for fear of some terrible
accident occasioned by my ignorance of its use; and I have no
doubt that it requires much skill and practice in the exercise
of its various powers. It is hollow, and has in the handle
several stops, keys, or springs by which its force can be
altered, modified, or directed- so that by one process it
destroys, by another it heals- by one it can rend the rock, by
another disperse the vapour- by one it affects bodies, by
another it can exercise a certain influence over minds. It is
usually carried in the convenient size of a walking-staff, but
it has slides by which it can be lengthened or shortened at
will. When used for special purposes, the upper part rests in
the hollow of the palm with the fore and middle fingers
protruded. I was assured, however, that its power was not
equal in all, but proportioned to the amount of certain vril
70properties in the wearer in affinity, or 'rapport' with the
purposes to be effected. Some were more potent to destroy,
others to heal, &c.; much also depended on the calm and
steadiness of volition in the manipulator. They assert that
the full exercise of vril power can only be acquired by the
constitutional temperament- i.e., by hereditarily transmitted
organisation- and that a female infant of four years old
belonging to the Vril-ya races can accomplish feats which a
life spent in its practice would not enable the strongest and
most skilled mechanician, born out of the pale of the Vril-ya
to achieve. All these wands are not equally complicated; those
intrusted to children are much simpler than those borne by
sages of either sex, and constructed with a view to the special
object on which the children are employed; which as I have
before said, is among the youngest children the most
destructive. In the wands of wives and mothers the correlative
destroying force is usually abstracted, the healing power fully
charged. I wish I could say more in detail of this singular
conductor of the vril fluid, but its machinery is as exquisite
as its effects are marvellous.

I should say, however, that this people have invented certain
tubes by which the vril fluid can be conducted towards the
object it is meant to destroy, throughout a distance almost
indefinite; at least I put it modestly when I say from 500 to
600 miles. And their mathematical science as applied to such
purpose is so nicely accurate, that on the report of some
observer in an air-boat, any member of the vril department can
estimate unerringly the nature of intervening obstacles, the
height to which the projectile instrument should be raised, and
the extent to which it should be charged, so as to reduce to
ashes within a space of time too short for me to venture to
specify it, a capital twice as vast as London.

Certainly these Ana are wonderful mathematicians- wonderful for
the adaptation of the inventive faculty to practical uses.
I went with my host and his daughter Zee over the great public
museum, which occupies a wing in the College of Sages, and in
which are hoarded, as curious specimens of the ignorant and
blundering experiments of ancient times, many contrivances on
which we pride ourselves as recent achievements. In one
department, carelessly thrown aside as obsolete lumber, are
tubes for destroying life by metallic balls and an inflammable
powder, on the principle of our cannons and catapults, and even
still more murderous than our latest improvements.

My host spoke of these with a smile of contempt, such as an
artillery officer might bestow on the bows and arrows of the
Chinese. In another department there were models of vehicles
and vessels worked by steam, and of an air-balloon which might
have been constructed by Montgolfier. "Such," said Zee, with
an air of meditative wisdom- "such were the feeble triflings
with nature of our savage forefathers, ere they had even a
glimmering perception of the properties of vril!"

This young Gy was a magnificent specimen of the muscular force
to which the females of her country attain. Her features were
beautiful, like those of all her race: never in the upper world
have I seen a face so grand and so faultless, but her devotion
to the severer studies had given to her countenance an
expression of abstract thought which rendered it somewhat stern
when in repose; and such a sternness became formidable when
observed in connection with her ample shoulders and lofty
stature. She was tall even for a Gy, and I saw her lift up a
cannon as easily as I could lift a pocket-pistol. Zee inspired
me with a profound terror- a terror which increased when we
came into a department of the museum appropriated to models of
contrivances worked by the agency of vril; for here, merely by
a certain play of her vril staff, she herself standing at a
distance, she put into movement large and weighty substances.
She seemed to endow them with intelligence, and to make them
72comprehend and obey her command. She set complicated pieces of
machinery into movement, arrested the movement or continued it,
until, within an incredibly short time, various kinds of raw
material were reproduced as symmetrical works of art, complete
and perfect. Whatever effect mesmerism or electro-biology
produces over the nerves and muscles of animated objects, this
young Gy produced by the motions of her slender rod over the
springs and wheels of lifeless mechanism.

When I mentioned to my companions my astonishment at this
influence over inanimate matter- while owning that, in our
world, I had witnessed phenomena which showed that over certain
living organisations certain other living organisations could
establish an influence genuine in itself, but often exaggerated
by credulity or craft- Zee, who was more interested in such
subjects than her father, bade me stretch forth my hand, and
then, placing it beside her own, she called my attention to
certain distinctions of type and character. In the first
place, the thumb of the Gy (and, as I afterwards noticed, of
all that race, male or female) was much larger, at once longer
and more massive, than is found with our species above ground.
There is almost, in this, as great a difference as there is
between the thumb of a man and that of a gorilla. Secondly,
the palm is proportionally thicker than ours- the texture of
the skin infinitely finer and softer- its average warmth is
greater. More remarkable than all this, is a visible nerve,
perceptible under the skin, which starts from the wrist
skirting the ball of the thumb, and branching, fork-like, at
the roots of the fore and middle fingers. "With your slight
formation of thumb," said the philosophical young Gy, "and with
the absence of the nerve which you find more or less developed
in the hands of our race, you can never achieve other than
imperfect and feeble power over the agency of vril; but so far
as the nerve is concerned, that is not found in the hands of
our earliest progenitors, nor in those of the ruder tribes
without the pale of the Vril-ya. It has been slowly developed
73in the course of generations, commencing in the early
achievements, and increasing with the continuous exercise, of
the vril power; therefore, in the course of one or two thousand
years, such a nerve may possibly be engendered in those higher
beings of your race, who devote themselves to that paramount
science through which is attained command over all the subtler
forces of nature permeated by vril. But when you talk of
matter as something in itself inert and motionless, your
parents or tutors surely cannot have left you so ignorant as
not to know that no form of matter is motionless and inert:
every particle is constantly in motion and constantly acted
upon by agencies, of which heat is the most apparent and rapid,
but vril the most subtle, and, when skilfully wielded, the most
powerful. So that, in fact, the current launched by my hand
and guided by my will does but render quicker and more potent
the action which is eternally at work upon every particle of
matter, however inert and stubborn it may seem. If a heap of
metal be not capable of originating a thought of its own, yet,
through its internal susceptibility to movement, it obtains the
power to receive the thought of the intellectual agent at work
on it; by which, when conveyed with a sufficient force of the
vril power, it is as much compelled to obey as if it were
displaced by a visible bodily force. It is animated for the
time being by the soul thus infused into it, so that one may
almost say that it lives and reasons. Without this we could
not make our automata supply the place of servants.

I was too much in awe of the thews and the learning of the
young Gy to hazard the risk of arguing with her. I had read
somewhere in my schoolboy days that a wise man, disputing with
a Roman Emperor, suddenly drew in his horns; and when the
emperor asked him whether he had nothing further to say on his
side of the question, replied, "Nay, Caesar, there is no
arguing against a reasoner who commands ten legions."
Though I had a secret persuasion that, whatever the real
effects of vril upon matter, Mr. Faraday could have proved her
a very shallow philosopher as to its extent or its causes, I
had no doubt that Zee could have brained all the Fellows of the
Royal Society, one after the other, with a blow of her fist.
Every sensible man knows that it is useless to argue with any
ordinary female upon matters he comprehends; but to argue with
a Gy seven feet high upon the mysteries of vril,- as well argue
in a desert, and with a simoon!

Amid the various departments to which the vast building of the
College of Sages was appropriated, that which interested me
most was devoted to the archaeology of the Vril-ya, and
comprised a very ancient collection of portraits. In these the
pigments and groundwork employed were of so durable a nature
that even pictures said to be executed at dates as remote as
those in the earliest annals of the Chinese, retained much
freshness of colour. In examining this collection, two things
especially struck me:- first, that the pictures said to be
between 6000 and 7000 years old were of a much higher degree of
art than any produced within the last 3000 or 4000 years; and,
second, that the portraits within the former period much more
resembled our own upper world and European types of
countenance. Some of them, indeed reminded me of the Italian
heads which look out from the canvases of Titian- speaking of
ambition or craft, of care or of grief, with furrows in which
the passions have passed with iron ploughshare. These were the
countenances of men who had lived in struggle and conflict
before the discovery of the latent forces of vril had changed
the character of society- men who had fought with each other
for power or fame as we in the upper world fight.

The type of face began to evince a marked change about a
thousand years after the vril revolution, becoming then, with
each generation, more serene, and in that serenity more
75terribly distinct from the faces of labouring and sinful men;
while in proportion as the beauty and the grandeur of the
countenance itself became more fully developed, the art of the
painter became more tame and monotonous.

But the greatest curiosity in the collection was that of three
portraits belonging to the pre-historical age, and, according
to mythical tradition, taken by the orders of a philosopher,
whose origin and attributes were as much mixed up with
symbolical fable as those of an Indian Budh or a Greek

>From this mysterious personage, at once a sage and a hero, all
the principal sections of the Vril-ya race pretend to trace a
common origin.

The portraits are of the philosopher himself, of his
grandfather, and great-grandfather. They are all at full
length. The philosopher is attired in a long tunic which seems
to form a loose suit of scaly armour, borrowed, perhaps, from
some fish or reptile, but the feet and hands are exposed: the
digits in both are wonderfully long, and webbed. He has little
or no perceptible throat, and a low receding forehead, not at
all the ideal of a sage's. He has bright brown prominent eyes,
a very wide mouth and high cheekbones, and a muddy complexion.
According to tradition, this philosopher had lived to a
patriarchal age, extending over many centuries, and he
remembered distinctly in middle life his grandfather as
surviving, and in childhood his great-grandfather; the portrait
of the first he had taken, or caused to be taken, while yet
alive- that of the latter was taken from his effigies in mummy.
The portrait of his grandfather had the features and aspect of
the philosopher, only much more exaggerated: he was not
dressed, and the colour of his body was singular; the breast
and stomach yellow, the shoulders and legs of a dull bronze
hue: the great-grandfather was a magnificent specimen of the
Batrachian genus, a Giant Frog, 'pur et simple.'

Among the pithy sayings which, according to tradition, the
philosopher bequeathed to posterity in rhythmical form and
76sententious brevity, this is notably recorded: "Humble
yourselves, my descendants; the father of your race was a
'twat' (tadpole): exalt yourselves, my descendants, for it was
the same Divine Thought which created your father that develops
itself in exalting you."

Aph-Lin told me this fable while I gazed on the three
Batrachian portraits. I said in reply: "You make a jest of my
supposed ignorance and credulity as an uneducated Tish, but
though these horrible daubs may be of great antiquity, and were
intended, perhaps, for some rude caracature, I presume that
none of your race even in the less enlightened ages, ever
believed that the great-grandson of a Frog became a sententious
philosopher; or that any section, I will not say of the lofty
Vril-ya, but of the meanest varieties of the human race, had
its origin in a Tadpole."

"Pardon me," answered Aph-Lin: "in what we call the Wrangling
or Philosophical Period of History, which was at its height
about seven thousand years ago, there was a very distinguished
naturalist, who proved to the satisfaction of numerous
disciples such analogical and anatomical agreements in
structure between an An and a Frog, as to show that out of the
one must have developed the other. They had some diseases in
common; they were both subject to the same parasitical worms in
the intestines; and, strange to say, the An has, in his
structure, a swimming-bladder, no longer of any use to him, but
which is a rudiment that clearly proves his descent from a
Frog. Nor is there any argument against this theory to be
found in the relative difference of size, for there are still
existent in our world Frogs of a size and stature not inferior
to our own, and many thousand years ago they appear to have
been still larger."

"I understand that," said I, "because Frogs this enormous are,
according to our eminent geologists, who perhaps saw them in
dreams, said to have been distinguished inhabitants of the
upper world before the Deluge; and such Frogs are exactly the
creatures likely to have flourished in the lakes and morasses
of your subterranean regions. But pray, proceed."
"In the Wrangling Period of History, whatever one sage asserted
another sage was sure to contradict. In fact, it was a maxim
in that age, that the human reason could only be sustained
aloft by being tossed to and fro in the perpetual motion of
contradiction; and therefore another sect of philosophers
maintained the doctrine that the An was not the descendant of
the Frog, but that the Frog was clearly the improved
development of the An. The shape of the Frog, taken generally,
was much more symmetrical than that of the An; beside the
beautiful conformation of its lower limbs, its flanks and
shoulders the majority of the Ana in that day were almost
deformed, and certainly ill-shaped. Again, the Frog had the
power to live alike on land and in water- a mighty privilege,
partaking of a spiritual essence denied to the An, since the
disuse of his swimming-bladder clearly proves his degeneration
from a higher development of species. Again, the earlier races
of the Ana seem to have been covered with hair, and, even to a
comparatively recent date, hirsute bushes deformed the very
faces of our ancestors, spreading wild over their cheeks and
chins, as similar bushes, my poor Tish, spread wild over yours.
But the object of the higher races of the Ana through countless
generations has been to erase all vestige of connection with
hairy vertebrata, and they have gradually eliminated that
debasing capillary excrement by the law of sexual selection;
the Gy-ei naturally preferring youth or the beauty of smooth
faces. But the degree of the Frog in the scale of the
vertebrata is shown in this, that he has no hair at all, not
even on his head. He was born to that hairless perfection
which the most beautiful of the Ana, despite the culture of
incalculable ages, have not yet attained. The wonderful
complication and delicacy of a Frog's nervous system and
arterial circulation were shown by this school to be more
susceptible of enjoyment than our inferior, or at least
simpler, physical frame allows us to be. The examination of a
Frog's hand, if I may use that expression, accounted for its
78keener susceptibility to love, and to social life in general.
In fact, gregarious and amatory as are the Ana, Frogs are still
more so. In short, these two schools raged against each other;
one asserting the An to be the perfected type of the Frog; the
other that the Frog was the highest development of the An. The
moralists were divided in opinion with the naturalists, but the
bulk of them sided with the Frog-preference school. They said,
with much plausibility, that in moral conduct (viz., in the
adherence to rules best adapted to the health and welfare of
the individual and the community) there could be no doubt of
the vast superiority of the Frog. All history showed the
wholesale immorality of the human race, the complete disregard,
even by the most renowned amongst them, of the laws which they
acknowledged to be essential to their own and the general
happiness and wellbeing. But the severest critic of the Frog
race could not detect in their manners a single aberration from
the moral law tacitly recognised by themselves. And what, after
all, can be the profit of civilisation if superiority in moral
conduct be not the aim for which it strives, and the test by which
its progress should be judged?

"In fine, the adherents of this theory presumed that in some
remote period the Frog race had been the improved development
of the Human; but that, from some causes which defied rational
conjecture, they had not maintained their original position in
the scale of nature; while the Ana, though of inferior
organisation, had, by dint less of their virtues than their
vices, such as ferocity and cunning, gradually acquired
ascendancy, much as among the human race itself tribes utterly
barbarous have, by superiority in similar vices, utterly
destroyed or reduced into insignificance tribes originally
excelling them in mental gifts and culture. Unhappily these
disputes became involved with the religious notions of that
age; and as society was then administered under the government
of the Koom-Posh, who, being the most ignorant, were of course
79the most inflammable class- the multitude took the whole
question out of the hands of the philosophers; political chiefs
saw that the Frog dispute, so taken up by the populace, could
become a most valuable instrument of their ambition; and for
not less than one thousand years war and massacre prevailed,
during which period the philosophers on both sides were
butchered, and the government of Koom-Posh itself was happily
brought to an end by the ascendancy of a family that clearly
established its descent from the aboriginal tadpole, and
furnished despotic rulers to the various nations of the Ana.
These despots finally disappeared, at least from our
communities, as the discovery of vril led to the tranquil
institutions under which flourish all the races of the

"And do no wranglers or philosophers now exist to revive the
dispute; or do they all recognise the origin of your race in
the tadpole?"

"Nay, such disputes," said Zee, with a lofty smile, "belong to
the Pah-bodh of the dark ages, and now only serve for the
amusement of infants. When we know the elements out of which
our bodies are composed, elements in common to the humblest
vegetable plants, can it signify whether the All-Wise combined
those elements out of one form more than another, in order to
create that in which He has placed the capacity to receive the
idea of Himself, and all the varied grandeurs of intellect to
which that idea gives birth? The An in reality commenced to
exist as An with the donation of that capacity, and, with that
capacity, the sense to acknowledge that, however through the
countless ages his race may improve in wisdom, it can never
combine the elements at its command into the form of a

"You speak well, Zee," said Aph-Lin; "and it is
enough for us shortlived mortals to feel a reasonable
assurance that whether the origin of the An was a tadpole
or not, he is no more likely to become a tadpole
again than the institutions of the Vril-ya are likely to
relapse into the heaving quagmire and certain strife-rot
of a Koom-Posh."

Chapter XVII.

The Vril-ya, being excluded from all sight of the heavenly
bodies, and having no other difference between night and day
than that which they deem it convenient to make for
themselves,- do not, of course, arrive at their divisions of
time by the same process that we do; but I found it easy by the
aid of my watch, which I luckily had about me, to compute their
time with great nicety. I reserve for a future work on the
science and literature of the Vril-ya, should I live to
complete it, all details as to the manner in which they
arrive at their rotation of time; and content myself here
with saying, that in point of duration, their year differs
very slightly from ours, but that the divisions of their year
are by no means the same. Their day, (including what we call
night) consists of twenty hours of our time, instead of
twenty-four, and of course their year comprises the
correspondent increase in the number of days by which it is
summed up. They subdivide the twenty hours of their day
thus- eight hours,* called the "Silent Hours," for repose;
eight hours, called the "Earnest Time," for the pursuits and
occupations of life; and four hours called the "Easy Time"
(with which what I may term their day closes), allotted to
festivities, sport, recreation, or family converse, according
to their several tastes and inclinations.

* For the sake of convenience, I adopt the word hours, days,
years, &c., in any general reference to subdivisions of time
among the Vril-ya; those terms but loosely corresponding,
however, with such subdivisions.

But, in truth, out of doors there is no night. They maintain,
both in the streets and in the surrounding country, to the
limits of their territory, the same degree of light at all
hours. Only, within doors, they lower it to a soft twilight
during the Silent Hours. They have a great horror of perfect
81darkness, and their lights are never wholly extinguished. On
occasions of festivity they continue the duration of full
light, but equally keep note of the distinction between night
and day, by mechanical contrivances which answer the purpose of
our clocks and watches. They are very fond of music; and it is
by music that these chronometers strike the principal division
of time. At every one of their hours, during their day, the
sounds coming from all the time-pieces in their public
buildings, and caught up, as it were, by those of houses or
hamlets scattered amidst the landscapes without the city, have
an effect singularly sweet, and yet singularly solemn. But
during the Silent Hours these sounds are so subdued as to be
only faintly heard by a waking ear. They have no change of
seasons, and, at least on the territory of this tribe, the
atmosphere seemed to me very equable, warm as that of an
Italian summer, and humid rather than dry; in the forenoon
usually very still, but at times invaded by strong blasts from
the rocks that made the borders of their domain. But time is
the same to them for sowing or reaping as in the Golden Isles
of the ancient poets. At the same moment you see the younger
plants in blade or bud, the older in ear or fruit. All
fruit-bearing plants, however, after fruitage, either shed or
change the colour of their leaves. But that which interested
me most in reckoning up their divisions of time was the
ascertainment of the average duration of life amongst them. I
found on minute inquiry that this very considerably exceeded
the term allotted to us on the upper earth. What seventy years
are to us, one hundred years are to them. Nor is this the only
advantage they have over us in longevity, for as few among us
attain to the age of seventy, so, on the contrary, few among
them die before the age of one hundred; and they enjoy a
general degree of health and vigour which makes life itself a
blessing even to the last. Various causes contribute to this
result: the absence of all alcoholic stimulants; temperance in
82food; more especially, perhaps, a serenity of mind undisturbed
by anxious occupations and eager passions. They are not
tormented by our avarice or our ambition; they appear perfectly
indifferent even to the desire of fame; they are capable of
great affection, but their love shows itself in a tender and
cheerful complaisance, and, while forming their happiness,
seems rarely, if ever, to constitute their woe. As the Gy is
sure only to marry where she herself fixes her choice, and as
here, not less than above ground, it is the female on whom the
happiness of home depends; so the Gy, having chosen the mate
she prefers to all others, is lenient to his faults, consults
his humours, and does her best to secure his attachment. The
death of a beloved one is of course with them, as with us, a
cause for sorrow; but not only is death with them so much more
rare before that age in which it becomes a release, but when it
does occur the survivor takes much more consolation than, I am
afraid, the generality of us do, in the certainty of reunion in
another and yet happier life.

All these causes, then, concur to their healthful and enjoyable
longevity, though, no doubt, much also must be owing to
hereditary organisation. According to their records, however,
in those earlier stages of their society when they lived in
communities resembling ours, agitated by fierce competition,
their lives were considerably shorter, and their maladies more
numerous and grave. They themselves say that the duration of
life, too, has increased, and is still on the increase, since
their discovery of the invigorating and medicinal properties of
vril, applied for remedial purposes. They have few
professional and regular practitioners of medicine, and these
are chiefly Gy-ei, who, especially if widowed and childless,
find great delight in the healing art, and even undertake
surgical operations in those cases required by accident, or,
more rarely, by disease.

They have their diversions and entertainments, and, during the
Easy Time of their day, they are wont to assemble in great
numbers for those winged sports in the air which I have already
83described. They have also public halls for music, and even
theatres, at which are performed pieces that appeared to me
somewhat to resemble the plays of the Chinese- dramas that are
thrown back into distant times for their events and personages,
in which all classic unities are outrageously violated, and the
hero, in once scene a child, in the next is an old man, and so
forth. These plays are of very ancient composition, and their
stories cast in remote times. They appeared to me very dull,
on the whole, but were relieved by startling mechanical
contrivances, and a kind of farcical broad humour, and detached
passages of great vigour and power expressed in language highly
poetical, but somewhat overcharged with metaphor and trope. In
fine, they seemed to me very much what the plays of Shakespeare
seemed to a Parisian in the time of Louis XV., or perhaps to an
Englishman in the reign of Charles II.

The audience, of which the Gy-ei constituted the chief portion,
appeared to enjoy greatly the representation of these dramas,
which, for so sedate and majestic a race of females, surprised
me, till I observed that all the performers were under the age
of adolescence, and conjectured truly that the mothers and
sisters came to please their children and brothers.

I have said that these dramas are of great antiquity. No new
plays, indeed no imaginative works sufficiently important to
survive their immediate day, appear to have been composed for
several generations. In fact, though there is no lack of new
publications, and they have even what may be called newspapers,
these are chiefly devoted to mechanical science, reports of new
inventions, announcements respecting various details of
business- in short, to practical matters. Sometimes a child
writes a little tale of adventure, or a young Gy vents her
amorous hopes or fears in a poem; but these effusions are of
very little merit, and are seldom read except by children and
maiden Gy-ei. The most interesting works of a purely literary
character are those of explorations and travels into other
regions of this nether world, which are generally written by
84young emigrants, and are read with great avidity by the
relations and friends they have left behind.

I could not help expressing to Aph-Lin my surprise that a
community in which mechanical science had made so marvellous a
progress, and in which intellectual civilisation had exhibited
itself in realising those objects for the happiness of the
people, which the political philosophers above ground had, after
ages of struggle, pretty generally agreed to consider
unattainable visions, should, nevertheless, be so wholly
without a contemporaneous literature, despite the excellence to
which culture had brought a language at once so rich and
simple, vigourous and musical.

My host replied- "Do you not percieve that a literature such as
you mean would be wholly incompatible with that perfection of
social or political felicity at which you do us the honour to
think we have arrived? We have at last, after centuries of
struggle, settled into a form of government with which we are
content, and in which, as we allow no differences of rank, and
no honours are paid to administrators distinguishing them from
others, there is no stimulus given to individual ambition. No
one would read works advocating theories that involved any
political or social change, and therefore no one writes them.
If now and then an An feels himself dissatisfied with our
tranquil mode of life, he does not attack it; he goes away.
Thus all that part of literature (and to judge by the ancient
books in our public libraries, it was once a very large part),
which relates to speculative theories on society is become
utterly extinct. Again, formerly there was a vast deal written
respecting the attributes and essence of the All-Good, and the
arguments for and against a future state; but now we all
recognise two facts, that there IS a Divine Being, and there IS
a future state, and we all equally agree that if we wrote our
fingers to the bone, we could not throw any light upon the
nature and conditions of that future state, or quicken our
apprehensions of the attributes and essence of that Divine
85Being. Thus another part of literature has become also
extinct, happily for our race; for in the time when so much was
written on subjects which no one could determine, people seemed
to live in a perpetual state of quarrel and contention. So,
too, a vast part of our ancient literature consists of
historical records of wars an revolutions during the times when
the Ana lived in large and turbulent societies, each seeking
aggrandisement at the expense of the other. You see our serene
mode of life now; such it has been for ages. We have no events
to chronicle. What more of us can be said than that, 'they
were born, they were happy, they died?' Coming next to that
part of literature which is more under the control of the
imagination, such as what we call Glaubsila, or colloquially
'Glaubs,' and you call poetry, the reasons for its decline
amongst us are abundantly obvious.

"We find, by referring to the great masterpieces in that
department of literature which we all still read with pleasure,
but of which none would tolerate imitations, that they consist
in the portraiture of passions which we no longer experience-
ambition, vengeance, unhallowed love, the thirst for warlike
renown, and suchlike. The old poets lived in an atmosphere
impregnated with these passions, and felt vividly what they
expressed glowingly. No one can express such passions now, for
no one can feel them, or meet with any sympathy in his readers
if he did. Again, the old poetry has a main element in its
dissection of those complex mysteries of human character which
conduce to abnormal vices and crimes, or lead to signal and
extraordinary virtues. But our society, having got rid of
temptations to any prominent vices and crimes, has necessarily
rendered the moral average so equal, that there are no very
salient virtues. Without its ancient food of strong passions,
vast crimes, heroic excellences, poetry therefore is, if not
actually starved to death, reduced to a very meagre diet.
There is still the poetry of description- description of rocks,
and trees, and waters, and common household life; and our young
Gy-ei weave much of this insipid kind of composition into their
love verses."
"Such poetry," said I, "might surely be made very charming; and
we have critics amongst us who consider it a higher kind than
that which depicts the crimes, or analyses the passions, of
man. At all events, poetry of the inspired kind you mention is
a poetry that nowadays commands more readers than any other
among the people I have left above ground."

"Possibly; but then I suppose the writers take great pains with
the language they employ, and devote themselves to the culture
and polish of words and rhythms of an art?"

"Certainly they do: all great poets do that. Though the gift
of poetry may be inborn, the gift requires as much care to make
it available as a block of metal does to be made into one of
your engines."

"And doubtless your poets have some incentive to bestow all
those pains upon such verbal prettinesses?"

"Well, I presume their instinct of song would make them sing as
the bird does; but to cultivate the song into verbal or
artificial prettiness, probably does need an inducement from
without, and our poets find it in the love of fame- perhaps,
now and then, in the want of money."

"Precisely so. But in our society we attach fame to nothing
which man, in that moment of his duration which is called
'life,' can perform. We should soon lose that equality which
constitutes the felicitous essence of our commonwealth if we
selected any individual for pre-eminent praise: pre-eminent
praise would confer pre-eminent power, and the moment it were
given, evil passions, now dormant, would awake: other men would
immediately covet praise, then would arise envy, and with envy
hate, and with hate calumny and persecution. Our history tells
us that most of the poets and most of the writers who, in the
old time, were favoured with the greatest praise, were also
assailed by the greatest vituperation, and even, on the whole,
87rendered very unhappy, partly by the attacks of jealous rivals,
partly by the diseased mental constitution which an acquired
sensitiveness to praise and to blame tends to engender. As for
the stimulus of want; in the first place, no man in our
community knows the goad of poverty; and, secondly, if he did,
almost every occupation would be more lucrative than writing.

"Our public libraries contain all the books of the past which
time has preserved; those books, for the reasons above stated,
are infinitely better than any can write nowadays, and they are
open to all to read without cost. We are not such fools as to
pay for reading inferior books, when we can read superior books
for nothing."

"With us, novelty has an attraction; and a new book, if bad, is
read when an old book, though good, is neglected."

"Novelty, to barbarous states of society struggling in despair
for something better, has no doubt an attraction, denied to us,
who see nothing to gain in novelties; but after all, it is
observed by one of our great authors four thousand years ago,
that 'he who studies old books will always find in them
something new, and he who reads new books will always find in
them something old.' But to return to the question you have
raised, there being then amongst us no stimulus to painstaking
labour, whether in desire of fame or in pressure of want, such
as have the poetic temperament, no doubt vent it in song, as
you say the bird sings; but for lack of elaborate culture it
fails of an audience, and, failing of an audience, dies out, of
itself, amidst the ordinary avocations of life."

"But how is it that these discouragements to the cultivation of
literature do not operate against that of science?"

"Your question amazes me. The motive to science is the love of
truth apart from all consideration of fame, and science with us
too is devoted almost solely to practical uses, essential to
our social conversation and the comforts of our daily life. No
88fame is asked by the inventor, and none is given to him; he
enjoys an occupation congenial to his tastes, and needing no
wear and tear of the passions. Man must have exercise for his
mind as well as body; and continuous exercise, rather than
violent, is best for both. Our most ingenious cultivators of
science are, as a general rule, the longest lived and the most
free from disease. Painting is an amusement to many, but the
art is not what it was in former times, when the great painters
in our various communities vied with each other for the prize
of a golden crown, which gave them a social rank equal to that
of the kings under whom they lived. You will thus doubtless
have observed in our archaeological department how superior in
point of art the pictures were several thousand years ago.
Perhaps it is because music is, in reality, more allied to
science than it is to poetry, that, of all the pleasurable
arts, music is that which flourishes the most amongst us.
Still, even in music the absence of stimulus in praise or fame
has served to prevent any great superiority of one individual
over another; and we rather excel in choral music, with the aid
of our vast mechanical instruments, in which we make great use
of the agency of water,* than in single performers."

* This may remind the student of Nero's invention of a musical
machine, by which water was made to perform the part of an
orchestra, and on which he was employed when the conspiracy
against him broke out.

"We have had scarcely any original composer for some ages. Our
favorite airs are very ancient in substance, but have admitted
many complicated variations by inferior, though ingenious,

"Are there no political societies among the Ana which are
animated by those passions, subjected to those crimes, and
admitting those disparities in condition, in intellect, and in
morality, which the state of your tribe, or indeed of the
Vril-ya generally, has left behind in its progress to
perfection? If so, among such societies perhaps Poetry and her
sister arts still continue to be honoured and to improve?"
"There are such societies in remote regions, but we do not
admit them within the pale of civilised communities; we
scarcely even give them the name of Ana, and certainly not that
of Vril-ya. They are savages, living chiefly in that low stage
of being, Koom-Posh, tending necessarily to its own hideous
dissolution in Glek-Nas. Their wretched existence is passed in
perpetual contest and perpetual change. When they do not fight
with their neighbours, they fight among themselves. They are
divided into sections, which abuse, plunder, and sometimes
murder each other, and on the most frivolous points of
difference that would be unintelligible to us if we had not
read history, and seen that we too have passed through the same
early state of ignorance and barbarism. Any trifle is
sufficient to set them together by the ears. They pretend to
be all equals, and the more they have struggled to be so, by
removing old distinctions, and starting afresh, the more
glaring and intolerable the disparity becomes, because nothing
in hereditary affections and associations is left to soften the
one naked distinction between the many who have nothing and the
few who have much. Of course the many hate the few, but
without the few they could not live. The many are always
assailing the few; sometimes they exterminate the few; but as
soon as they have done so, a new few starts out of the many,
and is harder to deal with than the old few. For where
societies are large, and competition to have something is the
predominant fever, there must be always many losers and few
gainers. In short, they are savages groping their way in the
dark towards some gleam of light, and would demand our
commiseration for their infirmities, if, like all savages, they
did not provoke their own destruction by their arrogance and
cruelty. Can you imagine that creatures of this kind, armed
only with such miserable weapons as you may see in our museum
of antiquities, clumsy iron tubes charged with saltpetre, have
more than once threatened with destruction a tribe of the
90Vril-ya, which dwells nearest to them, because they say they
have thirty millions of population- and that tribe may have
fifty thousand- if the latter do not accept their notions of
Soc-Sec (money getting) on some trading principles which they
have the impudence to call 'a law of civilisation'?"

"But thirty millions of population are formidable odds against
fifty thousand!"

My host stared at me astonished. "Stranger," said he, "you
could not have heard me say that this threatened tribe belongs
to the Vril-ya; and it only waits for these savages to declare
war, in order to commission some half-a-dozen small children to
sweep away their whole population."

At these words I felt a thrill of horror, recognising much more
affinity with "the savages" than I did with the Vril-ya, and
remembering all I had said in praise of the glorious American
institutions, which Aph-Lin stigmatised as Koom-Posh.
Recovering my self-possession, I asked if there were modes of
transit by which I could safely visit this temerarious and
remote people.

"You can travel with safety, by vril agency, either along the
ground or amid the air, throughout all the range of the
communities with which we are allied and akin; but I cannot
vouch for your safety in barbarous nations governed by
different laws from ours; nations, indeed, so benighted, that
there are among them large numbers who actually live by
stealing from each other, and one could not with safety in the
Silent Hours even leave the doors of one's own house open."

Here our conversation was interrupted by the entrance of Taee,
who came to inform us that he, having been deputed to discover
and destroy the enormous reptile which I had seen on my first
arrival, had been on the watch for it ever since his visit to
me, and had began to suspect that my eyes had deceived me, or
that the creature had made its way through the cavities within
91the rocks to the wild regions in which dwelt its kindred race,-
when it gave evidences of its whereabouts by a great
devastation of the herbage bordering one of the lakes. "And,"
said Taee, "I feel sure that within that lake it is now hiding.
So," (turning to me) "I thought it might amuse you to accompany
me to see the way we destroy such unpleasant visitors." As I
looked at the face of the young child, and called to mind the
enormous size of the creature he proposed to exterminate, I
felt myself shudder with fear for him, and perhaps fear for
myself, if I accompanied him in such a chase. But my curiosity
to witness the destructive effects of the boasted vril, and my
unwillingness to lower myself in the eyes of an infant by
betraying apprehensions of personal safety, prevailed over my
first impulse. Accordingly, I thanked Taee for his courteous
consideration for my amusement, and professed my willingness to
set out with him on so diverting an enterprise.

Chapter XVIII.

As Taee and myself, on quitting the town, and leaving to the
left the main road which led to it, struck into the fields, the
strange and solemn beauty of the landscape, lighted up, by
numberless lamps, to the verge of the horizon, fascinated my
eyes, and rendered me for some time an inattentive listener to
the talk of my companion.

Along our way various operations of agriculture were being
carried on by machinery, the forms of which were new to me, and
for the most part very graceful; for among these people art
being so cultivated for the sake of mere utility, exhibits
itself in adorning or refining the shapes of useful objects.
Precious metals and gems are so profuse among them, that they
are lavished on things devoted to purposes the most
92commonplace; and their love of utility leads them to beautify
its tools, and quickens their imagination in a way unknown to

In all service, whether in or out of doors, they make great use
of automaton figures, which are so ingenious, and so pliant to
the operations of vril, that they actually seem gifted with
reason. It was scarcely possible to distinguish the figures I
beheld, apparently guiding or superintending the rapid
movements of vast engines, from human forms endowed with

By degrees, as we continued to walk on, my attention became
roused by the lively and acute remarks of my companion. The
intelligence of the children among this race is marvellously
precocious, perhaps from the habit of having intrusted to them,
at so early an age, the toils and responsibilities of middle
age. Indeed, in conversing with Taee, I felt as if talking
with some superior and observant man of my own years. I asked
him if he could form any estimate of the number of communities
into which the race of the Vril-ya is subdivided.

"Not exactly," he said, "because they multiply, of course,
every year as the surplus of each community is drafted off.
But I heard my father say that, according to the last
report,there were a million and a half of communities speaking
our language, and adopting our institutions and forms of life
and government; but, I believe, with some differences, about
which you had better ask Zee. She knows more than most of the
Ana do. An An cares less for things that do not concern him
than a Gy does; the Gy-ei are inquisitive creatures."

"Does each community restrict itself to the same number of
families or amount of population that you do?"

"No; some have much smaller populations, some have larger-
varying according to the extent of the country they
appropriate, or to the degree of excellence to which they have
brought their machinery. Each community sets its own limit
according to circumstances, taking care always that there shall
93never arise any class of poor by the pressure of population
upon the productive powers of the domain; and that no state
shall be too large for a government resembling that of a single
well-ordered family. I imagine that no vril community exceeds
thirty-thousand households. But, as a general rule, the
smaller the community, provided there be hands enough to do
justice to the capacities of the territory it occupies, the
richer each individual is, and the larger the sum contributed
to the general treasury,- above all, the happier and the more
tranquil is the whole political body, and the more perfect the
products of its industry. The state which all tribes of the
Vril-ya acknowledge to be the highest in civilisation, and
which has brought the vril force to its fullest development, is
perhaps the smallest. It limits itself to four thousand
families; but every inch of its territory is cultivated to the
utmost perfection of garden ground; its machinery excels that
of every other tribe, and there is no product of its industry
in any department which is not sought for, at extraordinary
prices, by each community of our race. All our tribes make
this state their model, considering that we should reach the
highest state of civilisation allowed to mortals if we could
unite the greatest degree of happiness with the highest degree
of intellectual achievement; and it is clear that the smaller
the society the less difficult that will be. Ours is too large
for it."

This reply set me thinking. I reminded myself of that little
state of Athens, with only twenty thousand free citizens, and
which to this day our mightiest nations regard as the supreme
guide and model in all departments of intellect. But then
Athens permitted fierce rivalry and perpetual change, and was
certainly not happy. Rousing myself from the reverie into
which these reflections had plunged me, I brought back our talk
to the subjects connected with emigration.

"But," said I, "when, I suppose yearly, a certain number among
94you agree to quit home and found a new community elsewhere,
they must necessarily be very few, and scarcely sufficient,
even with the help of the machines they take with them, to
clear the ground, and build towns, and form a civilised state
with the comforts and luxuries in which they had been reared."

"You mistake. All the tribes of the Vril-ya are in constant
communication with each other, and settle amongst themselves
each year what proportion of one community will unite with the
emigrants of another, so as to form a state of sufficient size;
and the place for emigration is agreed upon at least a year
before, and pioneers sent from each state to level rocks, and
embank waters, and construct houses; so that when the emigrants
at last go, they find a city already made, and a country around
it at least partially cleared. Our hardy life as children make
us take cheerfully to travel and adventure. I mean to emigrate
myself when of age."

"Do the emigrants always select places hitherto uninhabited and

"As yet generally, because it is our rule never to destroy
except when necessary to our well-being. Of course, we cannot
settle in lands already occupied by the Vril-ya; and if we take
the cultivated lands of the other races of Ana, we must utterly
destroy the previous inhabitants. Sometimes, as it is, we take
waste spots, and find that a troublesome, quarrelsome race of
Ana, especially if under the administration of Koom-Posh or
Glek-Nas, resents our vicinity, and picks a quarrel with us;
then, of course, as menacing our welfare, we destroy it: there
is no coming to terms of peace with a race so idiotic that it
is always changing the form of government which represents it.
Koom-Posh," said the child, emphatically, "is bad enough, still
it has brains, though at the back of its head, and is not
without a heart; but in Glek-Nas the brain and heart of the
creatures disappear, and they become all jaws, claws, and

95"You express yourself strongly. Allow me to inform you that I
myself, and I am proud to say it, am the citizen of a Koom-Posh."

"I no longer," answered Taee, "wonder to see you here so far
from your home. What was the condition of your native
community before it became a Koom-Posh?"

"A settlement of emigrants- like those settlements which your
tribe sends forth- but so far unlike your settlements, that it
was dependent on the state from which it came. It shook off
that yoke, and, crowned with eternal glory, became a Koom-Posh."

"Eternal glory! How long has the Koom-Posh lasted?"

"About 100 years."

"The length of an An's life- a very young community. In much
less than another 100 years your Koom-Posh will be a Glek-Nas."

"Nay, the oldest states in the world I come from, have such
faith in its duration, that they are all gradually shaping
their institutions so as to melt into ours, and their most
thoughtful politicians say that, whether they like it or not,
the inevitable tendency of these old states is towards

"The old states?"

"Yes, the old states."

"With populations very small in proportion to the area of
productive land?"

"On the contrary, with populations very large in proportion to
that area."

"I see! old states indeed!- so old as to become drivelling if
they don't pack off that surplus population as we do ours- very
old states!- very, very old! Pray, Tish, do you think it wise
for very old men to try to turn head-over-heels as very young
children do? And if you ask them why they attempted such
antics, should you not laugh if they answered that by imitating
very young children they could become very young children
themselves? Ancient history abounds with instances of this sort
a great many thousand years ago- and in every instance a very
96old state that played at Koom-Posh soon tumbled into Glek-Nas.
Then, in horror of its own self, it cried out for a master, as
an old man in his dotage cries out for a nurse; and after a
succession of masters or nurses, more or less long, that very
old state died out of history. A very old state attempting
Koom-Posh-erie is like a very old man who pulls down the house
to which he has been accustomed, but he has so exhausted his
vigour in pulling down, that all he can do in the way of
rebuilding is to run up a crazy hut, in which himself and his
successors whine out, 'How the wind blows! How the walls

"My dear Taee, I make all excuse for your unenlightened
prejudices, which every schoolboy educated in a Koom-Posh could
easily controvert, though he might not be so precociously
learned in ancient history as you appear to be."

"I learned! not a bit of it. But would a schoolboy, educated
in your Koom-Posh, ask his great-great-grandfather or
great-great-grandmother to stand on his or her head with the
feet uppermost? And if the poor old folks hesitated- say, 'What
do you fear?- see how I do it!'"

"Taee, I disdain to argue with a child of your age. I repeat,
I make allowances for your want of that culture which a
Koom-Posh alone can bestow."

"I, in my turn," answered Taee, with an air of the suave but
lofty good breeding which characterises his race, "not only
make allowances for you as not educated among the Vril-ya, but
I entreat you to vouchsafe me your pardon for the insufficient
respect to the habits and opinions of so amiable a Tish!"

I ought before to have observed that I was commonly called Tish
by my host and his family, as being a polite and indeed a pet
name, literally signifying a small barbarian; the children
apply it endearingly to the tame species of Frog which they
keep in their gardens.

We had now reached the banks of a lake, and Taee here paused to
97point out to me the ravages made in fields skirting it. "The
enemy certainly lies within these waters," said Taee. "Observe
what shoals of fish are crowded together at the margin. Even
the great fishes with the small ones, who are their habitual
prey and who generally shun them, all forget their instincts in
the presence of a common destroyer. This reptile certainly
must belong to the class of Krek-a, which are more devouring
than any other, and are said to be among the few surviving
species of the world's dreadest inhabitants before the Ana were
created. The appetite of a Krek is insatiable- it feeds alike
upon vegetable and animal life; but for the swift-footed
creatures of the elk species it is too slow in its movements.
Its favourite dainty is an An when it can catch him unawares;
and hence the Ana destroy it relentlessly whenever it enters
their dominion. I have heard that when our forefathers first
cleared this country, these monsters, and others like them,
abounded, and, vril being then undiscovered, many of our race
were devoured. It was impossible to exterminate them wholly
till that discovery which constitutes the power and sustains
the civilisation of our race. But after the uses of vril
became familiar to us, all creatures inimical to us were soon
annihilated. Still, once a-year or so, one of these enormous
creatures wanders from the unreclaimed and savage districts
beyond, and within my memory one has seized upon a young Gy who
was bathing in this very lake. Had she been on land and armed
with her staff, it would not have dared even to show itself;
for, like all savage creatures, the reptile has a marvellous
instinct, which warns it against the bearer of the vril wand.
How they teach their young to avoid him, though seen for the
first time, is one of those mysteries which you may ask Zee to
explain, for I cannot.*

* The reptile in this instinct does but resemble our wild birds
and animals, which will not come in reach of a man armed with
a gun. When the electric wires were first put up, partridges
struck against them in their flight, and fell down wounded. No
younger generations of partridges meet with a similar accident.

98So long as I stand here, the monster will not stir from its
lurking-place; but we must now decoy it forth."

"Will that not be difficult?"

"Not at all. Seat yourself yonder on that crag (about one
hundred yards from the bank), while I retire to a distance. In
a short time the reptile will catch sight or scent of you, and
perceiving that you are no vril-bearer, will come forth to
devour you. As soon as it is fairly out of the water, it
becomes my prey."

"Do you mean to tell me that I am to be the decoy to that
horrible monster which could engulf me within its jaws in a
second! I beg to decline."

The child laughed. "Fear nothing," said he; "only sit still."

Instead of obeying the command, I made a bound, and was about
to take fairly to my heels, when Taee touched me slightly on
the shoulder, and, fixing his eyes steadily on mine, I was
rooted to the spot. All power of volition left me. Submissive
to the infant's gesture, I followed him to the crag he had
indicated, and seated myself there in silence. Most readers
have seen something of the effects of electro-biology, whether
genuine or spurious. No professor of that doubtful craft had
ever been able to influence a thought or a movement of mine, but
I was a mere machine at the will of this terrible child.
Meanwhile he expanded his wings, soared aloft, and alighted
amidst a copse at the brow of a hill at some distance.

I was alone; and turning my eyes with an indescribable
sensation of horror towards the lake, I kept them fixed on its
water, spell-bound. It might be ten or fifteen minutes, to me
it seemed ages, before the still surface, gleaming under the
lamplight, began to be agitated towards the centre. At the
same time the shoals of fish near the margin evinced their
sense of the enemy's approach by splash and leap and bubbling
circle. I could detect their hurried flight hither and
thither, some even casting themselves ashore. A long, dark,
99undulous furrow came moving along the waters, nearer and
nearer, till the vast head of the reptile emerged- its jaws
bristling with fangs, and its dull eyes fixing themselves
hungrily on the spot where I sat motionless. And now its fore
feet were on the strand- now its enormous breast, scaled on
either side as in armour, in the centre showing its corrugated
skin of a dull venomous yellow; and now its whole length was on
the land, a hundred feet or more from the jaw to the tail.
Another stride of those ghastly feet would have brought it to
the spot where I sat. There was but a moment between me and
this grim form of death, when what seemed a flash of lightning
shot through the air, smote, and, for a space of time briefer
than that in which a man can draw his breath, enveloped the
monster; and then, as the flash vanished, there lay before me a
blackened, charred, smouldering mass, a something gigantic, but
of which even the outlines of form were burned away, and
rapidly crumbling into dust and ashes. I remained still
seated, still speechless, ice-cold with a new sensation of
dread; what had been horror was now awe.

I felt the child's hand on my head- fear left me- the spell was
broken- I rose up. "You see with what ease the Vril-ya destroy
their enemies," said Taee; and then, moving towards the bank,
he contemplated the smouldering relics of the monster, and said
quietly, "I have destroyed larger creatures, but none with so
much pleasure. Yes, it IS a Krek; what suffering it must have
inflicted while it lived!" Then he took up the poor fishes that
had flung themselves ashore, and restored them mercifully to
their native element.

Chapter XIX.

As we walked back to the town, Taee took a new and circuitous
way, in order to show me what, to use a familiar term, I will
100call the 'Station,' from which emigrants or travellers to other
communities commence their journeys. I had, on a former
occasion, expressed a wish to see their vehicles. These I
found to be of two kinds, one for land journeys, one for aerial
voyages: the former were of all sizes and forms, some not
larger than an ordinary carriage, some movable houses of one
story and containing several rooms, furnished according to the
ideas of comfort or luxury which are entertained by the
Vril-ya. The aerial vehicles were of light substances, not the
least resembling our balloons, but rather our boats and
pleasure-vessels, with helm and rudder, with large wings or
paddles, and a central machine worked by vril. All the
vehicles both for land or air were indeed worked by that potent
and mysterious agency.

I saw a convoy set out on its journey, but it had few
passengers, containing chiefly articles of merchandise, and was
bound to a neighbouring community; for among all the tribes of
the Vril-ya there is considerable commercial interchange. I
may here observe, that their money currency does not consist of
the precious metals, which are too common among them for that
purpose. The smaller coins in ordinary use are manufactured
from a peculiar fossil shell, the comparatively scarce remnant
of some very early deluge, or other convulsion of nature, by
which a species has become extinct. It is minute, and flat as
an oyster, and takes a jewel-like polish. This coinage
circulates among all the tribes of the Vril-ya. Their larger
transactions are carried on much like ours, by bills of
exchange, and thin metallic plates which answer the purpose of
our bank-notes.

Let me take this occasion of adding that the taxation among the
tribe I became acquainted with was very considerable, compared
with the amount of population. But I never heard that any one
grumbled at it, for it was devoted to purposes of universal
utility, and indeed necessary to the civilisation of the tribe.
The cost of lighting so large a range of country, of providing
101for emigration, of maintaining the public buildings at which
the various operations of national intellect were carried on,
from the first education of an infant to the departments in
which the College of Sages were perpetually trying new
experiments in mechanical science; all these involved the
necessity for considerable state funds. To these I must add an
item that struck me as very singular. I have said that all the
human labour required by the state is carried on by children up
to the marriageable age. For this labour the state pays, and
at a rate immeasurably higher than our own remuneration to
labour even in the United States. According to their theory,
every child, male or female, on attaining the marriageable age,
and there terminating the period of labour, should have
acquired enough for an independent competence during life. As,
no matter what the disparity of fortune in the parents, all the
children must equally serve, so all are equally paid according
to their several ages or the nature of their work. Where the
parents or friends choose to retain a child in their own
service, they must pay into the public fund in the same ratio
as the state pays to the children it employs; and this sum is
handed over to the child when the period of service expires.
This practice serves, no doubt, to render the notion of social
equality familiar and agreeable; and if it may be said that all
the children form a democracy, no less truly it may be said
that all the adults form an aristocracy. The exquisite
politeness and refinement of manners among the Vril-ya, the
generosity of their sentiments, the absolute leisure they enjoy
for following out their own private pursuits, the amenities of
their domestic intercourse, in which they seem as members of
one noble order that can have no distrust of each other's word
or deed, all combine to make the Vril-ya the most perfect
nobility which a political disciple of Plato or Sidney could
conceive for the ideal of an aristocratic republic.

Chapter XX.

>From the date of the expedition with Taee which I have just
narrated, the child paid me frequent visits. He had taken a
liking to me, which I cordially returned. Indeed, as he was
not yet twelve years old, and had not commenced the course of
scientific studies with which childhood closes in that country,
my intellect was less inferior to his than to that of the elder
members of his race, especially of the Gy-ei, and most
especially of the accomplished Zee. The children of the
Vril-ya, having upon their minds the weight of so many active
duties and grave responsibilities, are not generally mirthful;
but Taee, with all his wisdom, had much of the playful
good-humour one often finds the characteristic of elderly men
of genius. He felt that sort of pleasure in my society which a
boy of a similar age in the upper world has in the company of a
pet dog or monkey. It amused him to try and teach me the ways
of his people, as it amuses a nephew of mine to make his poodle
walk on his hind legs or jump through a hoop. I willingly lent
myself to such experiments, but I never achieved the success of
the poodle. I was very much interested at first in the attempt
to ply the wings which the youngest of the Vril-ya use as
nimbly and easily as ours do their legs and arms; but my
efforts were attended with contusions serious enough to make me
abandon them in despair.

These wings, as I before said, are very large, reaching to the
knee, and in repose thrown back so as to form a very graceful
mantle. They are composed from the feathers of a gigantic bird
that abounds in the rocky heights of the country- the colour
mostly white, but sometimes with reddish streaks. They are
fastened round the shoulders with light but strong springs of
steel; and, when expanded, the arms slide through loops for
that purpose, forming, as it were, a stout central membrane.
As the arms are raised, a tubular lining beneath the vest or
103tunic becomes, by mechanical contrivance inflated with air,
increased or diminished at will by the movement of the arms,
and serving to buoy the whole form as on bladders. The wings
and the balloon-like apparatus are highly charged with vril;
and when the body is thus wafted upward, it seems to become
singularly lightened of its weight. I found it easy enough to
soar from the ground; indeed, when the wings were spread it was
scarcely possible not to soar, but then came the difficulty and
the danger. I utterly failed in the power to use and direct
the pinions, though I am considered among my own race unusually
alert and ready in bodily exercises, and am a very practiced
swimmer. I could only make the most confused and blundering
efforts at flight. I was the servant of the wings; the wings
were not my servants- they were beyond my control; and when by
a violent strain of muscle, and, I must fairly own, in that
abnormal strength which is given by excessive fright, I curbed
their gyrations and brought them near to the body, it seemed as
if I lost the sustaining power stored in them and the
connecting bladders, as when the air is let out of a balloon,
and found myself precipitated again to the earth; saved,
indeed, by some spasmodic flutterings, from being dashed to
pieces, but not saved from the bruises and the stun of a heavy
fall. I would, however, have persevered in my attempts, but
for the advice or the commands of the scientific Zee, who had
benevolently accompanied my flutterings, and, indeed, on the
last occasion, flying just under me, received my form as it
fell on her own expanded wings, and preserved me from breaking
my head on the roof of the pyramid from which we had ascended.

"I see," she said, "that your trials are in vain, not from the
fault of the wings and their appurtenances, nor from any
imperfectness and malformation of your own corpuscular system,
but from irremediable, because organic, defect in your power of
volition. Learn that the connection between the will and the
agencies of that fluid which has been subjected to the control
104of the Vril-ya was never established by the first discoverers,
never achieved by a single generation; it has gone on
increasing, like other properties of race, in proportion as it
has been uniformly transmitted from parent to child, so that,
at last, it has become an instinct; and an infant An of our
race wills to fly as intuitively and unconsciously as he wills
to walk. He thus plies his invented or artificial wings with
as much safety as a bird plies those with which it is born. I
did not think sufficiently of this when I allowed you to try an
experiment which allured me, for I have longed to have in you a
companion. I shall abandon the experiment now. Your life is
becoming dear to me." Herewith the Gy's voice and face
softened, and I felt more seriously alarmed than I had been in
my previous flights.

Now that I am on the subject of wings, I ought not to omit
mention of a custom among the Gy-ei which seems to me very
pretty and tender in the sentiment it implies. A Gy wears
wings habitually when yet a virgin- she joins the Ana in their
aerial sports- she adventures alone and afar into the wilder
regions of the sunless world: in the boldness and height of her
soarings, not less than in the grace of her movements, she
excels the opposite sex. But, from the day of her marriage she
wears wings no more, she suspends them with her own willing
hand over the nuptial couch, never to be resumed unless the
marriage tie be severed by divorce or death.

Now when Zee's voice and eyes thus softened- and at that
softening I prophetically recoiled and shuddered- Taee, who had
accompanied us in our flights, but who, child-like, had been
much more amused with my awkwardness, than sympathising in my
fears or aware of my danger, hovered over us, poised amidst
spread wings, and hearing the endearing words of the young Gy,
laughed aloud. Said he, "If the Tish cannot learn the use of
wings, you may still be his companion, Zee, for you can suspend
your own."

Chapter XXI.

I had for some time observed in my host's highly informed and
powerfully proportioned daughter that kindly and protective
sentiment which, whether above the earth or below it, an
all-wise Providence has bestowed upon the feminine division of
the human race. But until very lately I had ascribed it to
that affection for 'pets' which a human female at every age
shares with a human child. I now became painfully aware that
the feeling with which Zee deigned to regard me was different
from that which I had inspired in Taee. But this conviction
gave me none of that complacent gratification which the vanity
of man ordinarily conceives from a flattering appreciation of
his personal merits on the part of the fair sex; on the
contrary, it inspired me with fear. Yet of all the Gy-ei in
the community, if Zee were perhaps the wisest and the
strongest, she was, by common repute, the gentlest, and she was
certainly the most popularly beloved. The desire to aid, to
succour, to protect, to comfort, to bless, seemed to pervade
her whole being. Though the complicated miseries that
originate in penury and guilt are unknown to the social system
of the Vril-ya, still, no sage had yet discovered in vril an
agency which could banish sorrow from life; and wherever
amongst her people sorrow found its way, there Zee followed in
the mission of comforter. Did some sister Gy fail to secure
the love she sighed for? Zee sought her out, and brought all
the resources of her lore, and all the consolations of her
sympathy, to bear upon a grief that so needs the solace of a
confidant. In the rare cases, when grave illness seized upon
childhood or youth, and the cases, less rare, when, in the
hardy and adventurous probation of infants, some accident,
attended with pain and injury occurred, Zee forsook her studies
and her sports, and became the healer and nurse. Her favourite
106flights were towards the extreme boundaries of the domain
where children were stationed on guard against outbreaks of
warring forces in nature, or the invasions of devouring animals,
so that she might warn them of any peril which her knowledge
detected or foresaw, or be at hand if any harm had befallen.
Nay, even in the exercise of her scientific acquirements there
was a concurrent benevolence of purpose and will. Did she learn
any novelty in invention that would be useful to the
practitioner of some special art or craft? she hastened to
communicate and explain it. Was some veteran sage of the
College perplexed and wearied with the toil of an abstruse
study? she would patiently devote herself to his aid, work out
details for him, sustain his spirits with her hopeful smile,
quicken his wit with her luminous suggestion, be to him, as it
were, his own good genius made visible as the strengthener and
inspirer. The same tenderness she exhibited to the inferior
creatures. I have often known her bring home some sick and
wounded animal, and tend and cherish it as a mother would tend
and cherish her stricken child. Many a time when I sat in the
balcony, or hanging garden, on which my window opened, I have
watched her rising in the air on her radiant wings, and in a few
moments groups of infants below, catching sight of her, would
soar upward with joyous sounds of greeting; clustering and
sporting around her, so that she seemed a very centre of
innocent delight. When I have walked with her amidst the rocks
and valleys without the city, the elk-deer would scent or see
her from afar, come bounding up, eager for the caress of her
hand, or follow her footsteps, till dismissed by some musical
whisper that the creature had learned to comprehend. It is the
fashion among the virgin Gy-ei to wear on their foreheads a
circlet, or coronet, with gems resembling opals, arranged in
four points or rays like stars. These are lustreless in
ordinary use, but if touched by the vril wand they take a clear
lambent flame, which illuminates, yet not burns. This serves as
an ornament in their festivities, and as a lamp, if, in
107their wanderings beyond their artificial lights, they have
to traverse the dark. There are times, when I have seen Zee's
thoughtful majesty of face lighted up by this crowning halo,
that I could scarcely believe her to be a creature of mortal
birth, and bent my head before her as the vision of a being among
the celestial orders. But never once did my heart feel for this
lofty type of the noblest womanhood a sentiment of human love.
Is it that, among the race I belong to, man's pride so far
influences his passions that woman loses to him her special charm
of woman if he feels her to be in all things eminently superior
to himself? But by what strange infatuation could this peerless
daughter of a race which, in the supremacy of its powers and the
felicity of its conditions, ranked all other races in the category
of barbarians, have deigned to honour me with her preference? In
personal qualifications, though I passed for good-looking amongst
the people I came from, the handsomest of my countrymen might have
seemed insignificant and homely beside the grand and serene type
of beauty which characterised the aspect of the Vril-ya.

That novelty, the very difference between myself and those to
whom Zee was accustomed, might serve to bias her fancy was
probable enough, and as the reader will see later, such a cause
might suffice to account for the predilection with which I was
distinguished by a young Gy scarcely out of her childhood, and
very inferior in all respects to Zee. But whoever will
consider those tender characteristics which I have just
ascribed to the daughter of Aph-Lin, may readily conceive that
the main cause of my attraction to her was in her instinctive
desire to cherish, to comfort, to protect, and, in protecting,
to sustain and to exalt. Thus, when I look back, I account for
the only weakness unworthy of her lofty nature, which bowed the
daughter of the Vril-ya to a woman's affection for one so
inferior to herself as was her father's guest. But be the
cause what it may, the consciousness that I had inspired such
108affection thrilled me with awe- a moral awe of her very
imperfections, of her mysterious powers, of the inseparable
distinctions between her race and my own; and with that awe, I
must confess to my shame, there combined the more material and
ignoble dread of the perils to which her preference would
expose me.

Under these anxious circumstances, fortunately, my conscience
and sense of honour were free from reproach. It became clearly
my duty, if Zee's preference continued manifest, to intimate it
to my host, with, of course, all the delicacy which is ever to
be preserved by a well-bred man in confiding to another any
degree of favour by which one of the fair sex may condescend to
distinguish him. Thus, at all events, I should be freed from
responsibility or suspicion of voluntary participation in the
sentiments of Zee; and the superior wisdom of my host might
probably suggest some sage extrication from my perilous
dilemma. In this resolve I obeyed the ordinary instinct of
civilised and moral man, who, erring though he be, still
generally prefers the right course in those cases where it is
obviously against his inclinations, his interests, and his
safety to elect the wrong one.

Chapter XXII.

As the reader has seen, Aph-Lin had not favoured my general and
unrestricted intercourse with his countrywomen. Though relying
on my promise to abstain from giving any information as to the
109world I had left, and still more on the promise of those to
whom had been put the same request, not to question me, which
Zee had exacted from Taee, yet he did not feel sure that, if I
were allowed to mix with the strangers whose curiosity the
sight of me had aroused, I could sufficiently guard myself
against their inquiries. When I went out, therefore, it was
never alone; I was always accompanied either by one of my
host's family, or my child-friend Taee. Bra, Aph-Lin's wife,
seldom stirred beyond the gardens which surrounded the house,
and was fond of reading the ancient literature, which contained
something of romance and adventure not to be found in the
writings of recent ages, and presented pictures of a life
unfamiliar to her experience and interesting to her
imagination; pictures, indeed, of a life more resembling that
which we lead every day above ground, coloured by our sorrows,
sins, passions, and much to her what the tales of the Genii or
the Arabian Nights are to us. But her love of reading did not
prevent Bra from the discharge of her duties as mistress of the
largest household in the city. She went daily the round of the
chambers, and saw that the automata and other mechanical
contrivances were in order, that the numerous children employed
by Aph-Lin, whether in his private or public capacity, were
carefully tended. Bra also inspected the accounts of the whole
estate, and it was her great delight to assist her husband in
the business connected with his office as chief administrator
of the Lighting Department, so that her avocations necessarily
kept her much within doors. The two sons were both completing
their education at the College of Sages; and the elder, who had
a strong passion for mechanics, and especially for works
connected with the machinery of timepieces and automata, had
decided on devoting himself to these pursuits, and was now
occupied in constructing a shop or warehouse, at which his
inventions could be exhibited and sold. The younger son
110preferred farming and rural occupations; and when not attending
the College, at which he chiefly studied the theories of
agriculture, was much absorbed by his practical application of
that science to his father's lands. It will be seen by this
how completely equality of ranks is established among this
people- a shopkeeper being of exactly the same grade in
estimation as the large landed proprietor. Aph-Lin was the
wealthiest member of the community, and his eldest son
preferred keeping a shop to any other avocation; nor was this
choice thought to show any want of elevated notions on his part.

This young man had been much interested in examining my watch,
the works of which were new to him, and was greatly pleased
when I made him a present of it. Shortly after, he returned
the gift with interest, by a watch of his own construction,
marking both the time as in my watch and the time as kept among
the Vril-ya. I have that watch still, and it has been much
admired by many among the most eminent watchmakers of London
and Paris. It is of gold, with diamond hands and figures, and
it plays a favorite tune among the Vril-ya in striking the
hours: it only requires to be wound up once in ten months, and
has never gone wrong since I had it. These young brothers
being thus occupied, my usual companions in that family, when I
went abroad, were my host or his daughter. Now, agreeably with
the honourable conclusions I had come to, I began to excuse
myself from Zee's invitations to go out alone with her, and
seized an occasion when that learned Gy was delivering a
lecture at the College of Sages to ask Aph-Lin to show me his
country-seat. As this was at some little distance, and as
Aph-Lin was not fond of walking, while I had discreetly
relinquished all attempts at flying, we proceeded to our
destination in one of the aerial boats belonging to my host. A
child of eight years old, in his employ, was our conductor. My
host and myself reclined on cushions, and I found the movement
very easy and luxurious.

111"Aph-Lin," said I, "you will not, I trust, be displeased with
me, if I ask your permission to travel for a short time, and
visit other tribes or communities of your illustrious race. I
have also a strong desire to see those nations which do not
adopt your institutions, and which you consider as savages. It
would interest me greatly to notice what are the distinctions
between them and the races whom we consider civilised in the
world I have left."

"It is utterly impossible that you should go hence alone," said
Aph-Lin. "Even among the Vril-ya you would be exposed to great
dangers. Certain peculiarities of formation and colour, and
the extraordinary phenomenon of hirsute bushes upon your cheeks
and chin, denoting in you a species of An distinct alike from
our own race and any known race of barbarians yet extant, would
attract, of course, the special attention of the College of
Sages in whatever community of Vril-ya you visited, and it
would depend upon the individual temper of some individual sage
whether you would be received, as you have been here,
hospitably, or whether you would not be at once dissected for
scientific purposes. Know that when the Tur first took you to
his house, and while you were there put to sleep by Taee in
order to recover from your previous pain or fatigue, the sages
summoned by the Tur were divided in opinion whether you were a
harmless or an obnoxious animal. During your unconscious state
your teeth were examined, and they clearly showed that you were
not only graminivorous but carnivorous. Carnivorous animals of
your size are always destroyed, as being of savage and
dangerous nature. Our teeth, as you have doubtless observed,*
are not those of the creatures who devour flesh."

* I never had observed it; and, if I had, am not physiologist
enough to have distinguished the difference.

"It is, indeed, maintained by Zee and other philosophers, that
as, in remote ages, the Ana did prey upon living beings of the
brute species, their teeth must have been fitted for that
purpose. But, even if so, they have been modified by
112hereditary transmission, and suited to the food on which we now
exist; nor are even the barbarians, who adopt the turbulent and
ferocious institutions of Glek-Nas, devourers of flesh like
beasts of prey.

"In the course of this dispute it was proposed to dissect you;
but Taee begged you off, and the Tur being, by office, averse
to all novel experiments at variance with our custom of sparing
life, except where it is clearly proved to be for the good of
the community to take it, sent to me, whose business it is, as
the richest man of the state, to afford hospitality to
strangers from a distance. It was at my option to decide
whether or not you were a stranger whom I could safely admit.
Had I declined to receive you, you would have been handed over
to the College of Sages, and what might there have befallen you
I do not like to conjecture. Apart from this danger, you might
chance to encounter some child of four years old, just put in
possession of his vril staff; and who, in alarm at your strange
appearance, and in the impulse of the moment, might reduce you
to a cinder. Taee himself was about to do so when he first saw
you, had his father not checked his hand. Therefore I say you
cannot travel alone, but with Zee you would be safe; and I have
no doubt that she would accompany you on a tour round the
neighbouring communities of Vril-ya (to the savage states,
No!): I will ask her."

Now, as my main object in proposing to travel was to escape
from Zee, I hastily exclaimed, "Nay, pray do not! I relinquish
my design. You have said enough as to its dangers to deter me
from it; and I can scarcely think it right that a young Gy of
the personal attractions of your lovely daughter should travel
into other regions without a better protector than a Tish of my
insignificant strength and stature."

Aph-Lin emitted the soft sibilant sound which is the nearest
approach to laughter that a full-grown An permits to himself,
ere he replied: "Pardon my discourteous but momentary
indulgence of mirth at any observation seriously made by my
113guest. I could not but be amused at the idea of Zee, who is so
fond of protecting others that children call her 'THE
GUARDIAN,' needing a protector herself against any dangers
arising from the audacious admiration of males. Know that our
Gy-ei, while unmarried, are accustomed to travel alone among
other tribes, to see if they find there some An who may please
them more than the Ana they find at home. Zee has already made
three such journeys, but hitherto her heart has been untouched."

Here the opportunity which I sought was afforded to me, and I
said, looking down, and with faltering voice, "Will you, my
kind host, promise to pardon me, if what I am about to say
gives offence?"

"Say only the truth, and I cannot be offended; or, could I be
so, it would not be for me, but for you to pardon."

"Well, then, assist me to quit you, and, much as I should have
like to witness more of the wonders, and enjoy more of the
felicity, which belong to your people, let me return to my

"I fear there are reasons why I cannot do that; at all events,
not without permission of the Tur, and he, probably, would not
grant it. You are not destitute of intelligence; you may
(though I do not think so) have concealed the degree of
destructive powers possessed by your people; you might, in
short, bring upon us some danger; and if the Tur entertains
that idea, it would clearly be his duty, either to put an end
to you, or enclose you in a cage for the rest of your
existence. But why should you wish to leave a state of society
which you so politely allow to be more felicitous than your

"Oh, Aph-Lin! My answer is plain. Lest in naught, and
unwittingly, I should betray your hospitality; lest, in the
caprice of will which in our world is proverbial among the
other sex, and from which even a Gy is not free, your adorable
daughter should deign to regard me, though a Tish, as if I were
a civilised An, and- and- and---"
"Court you as her spouse," put in Aph-Lin, gravely, and without
any visible sign of surprise or displeasure.

"You have said it."

"That would be a misfortune," resumed my host, after a pause,
"and I feel you have acted as you ought in warning me. It is,
as you imply, not uncommon for an unwedded Gy to conceive
tastes as to the object she covets which appear whimsical to
others; but there is no power to compel a young Gy to any
course opposed to that which she chooses to pursue. All we can
to is to reason with her, and experience tells us that the
whole College of Sages would find it vain to reason with a Gy
in a matter that concerns her choice in love. I grieve for
you, because such a marriage would be against the A-glauran, or
good of the community, for the children of such a marriage
would adulterate the race: they might even come into the world
with the teeth of carnivorous animals; this could not be
allowed: Zee, as a Gy, cannot be controlled; but you, as a
Tish, can be destroyed. I advise you, then, to resist her
addresses; to tell her plainly that you can never return her
love. This happens constantly. Many an An, however, ardently

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