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The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer Lytton

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Fred Ihde

The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton

Chapter I.

I am a native of _____, in the United States of America. My
ancestors migrated from England in the reign of Charles II.;
and my grandfather was not undistinguished in the War of
Independence. My family, therefore, enjoyed a somewhat high
social position in right of birth; and being also opulent, they
were considered disqualified for the public service. My father
once ran for Congress, but was signally defeated by his tailor.
After that event he interfered little in politics, and lived
much in his library. I was the eldest of three sons, and sent
at the age of sixteen to the old country, partly to complete my
literary education, partly to commence my commercial training
in a mercantile firm at Liverpool. My father died shortly
after I was twenty-one; and being left well off, and having a
taste for travel and adventure, I resigned, for a time, all
pursuit of the almighty dollar, and became a desultory wanderer
over the face of the earth.

In the year 18__, happening to be in _____, I was invited by a
professional engineer, with whom I had made acquaintance, to
visit the recesses of the ________ mine, upon which he was

The reader will understand, ere he close this narrative, my
reason for concealing all clue to the district of which I
write, and will perhaps thank me for refraining from any
description that may tend to its discovery.

6Let me say, then, as briefly as possible, that I accompanied
the engineer into the interior of the mine, and became so
strangely fascinated by its gloomy wonders, and so interested
in my friend's explorations, that I prolonged my stay in the
neighbourhood, and descended daily, for some weeks, into the
vaults and galleries hollowed by nature and art beneath the
surface of the earth. The engineer was persuaded that far
richer deposits of mineral wealth than had yet been detected,
would be found in a new shaft that had been commenced under his
operations. In piercing this shaft we came one day upon a
chasm jagged and seemingly charred at the sides, as if burst
asunder at some distant period by volcanic fires. Down this
chasm my friend caused himself to be lowered in a 'cage,'
having first tested the atmosphere by the safety-lamp. He
remained nearly an hour in the abyss. When he returned he was
very pale, and with an anxious, thoughtful expression of face,
very different from its ordinary character, which was open,
cheerful, and fearless.

He said briefly that the descent appeared to him unsafe, and
leading to no result; and, suspending further operations in the
shaft, we returned to the more familiar parts of the mine.

All the rest of that day the engineer seemed preoccupied by
some absorbing thought. He was unusually taciturn, and there
was a scared, bewildered look in his eyes, as that of a man who
has seen a ghost. At night, as we two were sitting alone in
the lodging we shared together near the mouth of the mine, I
said to my friend,-

"Tell me frankly what you saw in that chasm: I am sure it was
something strange and terrible. Whatever it be, it has left
your mind in a state of doubt. In such a case two heads are
better than one. Confide in me."

The engineer long endeavoured to evade my inquiries; but as,
while he spoke, he helped himself unconsciously out of the
brandy-flask to a degree to which he was wholly unaccustomed,
7for he was a very temperate man, his reserve gradually melted
away. He who would keep himself to himself should imitate the
dumb animals, and drink water. At last he said, "I will tell
you all. When the cage stopped, I found myself on a ridge of
rock; and below me, the chasm, taking a slanting direction,
shot down to a considerable depth, the darkness of which my
lamp could not have penetrated. But through it, to my infinite
surprise, streamed upward a steady brilliant light. Could it
be any volcanic fire? In that case, surely I should have felt
the heat. Still, if on this there was doubt, it was of the
utmost importance to our common safety to clear it up. I
examined the sides of the descent, and found that I could
venture to trust myself to the irregular projection of ledges,
at least for some way. I left the cage and clambered down. As
I drew nearer and nearer to the light, the chasm became wider,
and at last I saw, to my unspeakable amaze, a broad level road
at the bottom of the abyss, illumined as far as the eye could
reach by what seemed artificial gas-lamps placed at regular
intervals, as in the thoroughfare of a great city; and I heard
confusedly at a distance a hum as of human voices. I know, of
course, that no rival miners are at work in this district.
Whose could be those voices? What human hands could have
levelled that road and marshalled those lamps?

"The superstitious belief, common to miners, that gnomes or
fiends dwell within the bowels of the earth, began to seize me.
I shuddered at the thought of descending further and braving
the inhabitants of this nether valley. Nor indeed could I have
done so without ropes, as from the spot I had reached to the
bottom of the chasm the sides of the rock sank down abrupt,
smooth, and sheer. I retraced my steps with some difficulty.
Now I have told you all."

"You will descend again?"

"I ought, yet I feel as if I durst not."

"A trusty companion halves the journey and doubles the courage.
8I will go with you. We will provide ourselves with ropes of
suitable length and strength- and- pardon me- you must not
drink more to-night. our hands and feet must be steady and
firm tomorrow."

Chapter II.

With the morning my friend's nerves were rebraced, and he was
not less excited by curiosity than myself. Perhaps more; for
he evidently believed in his own story, and I felt considerable
doubt of it; not that he would have wilfully told an untruth,
but that I thought he must have been under one of those
hallucinations which seize on our fancy or our nerves in
solitary, unaccustomed places, and in which we give shape to
the formless and sound to the dumb.

We selected six veteran miners to watch our descent; and as the
cage held only one at a time, the engineer descended first; and
when he had gained the ledge at which he had before halted, the
cage rearose for me. I soon gained his side. We had provided
ourselves with a strong coil of rope.

The light struck on my sight as it had done the day before on
my friend's. The hollow through which it came sloped
diagonally: it seemed to me a diffused atmospheric light, not
like that from fire, but soft and silvery, as from a northern
star. Quitting the cage, we descended, one after the other,
easily enough, owing to the juts in the side, till we reached
the place at which my friend had previously halted, and which
was a projection just spacious enough to allow us to stand
abreast. From this spot the chasm widened rapidly like the
lower end of a vast funnel, and I saw distinctly the valley,
the road, the lamps which my companion had described. He had
exaggerated nothing. I heard the sounds he had heard- a
mingled indescribable hum as of voices and a dull tramp as of
9feet. Straining my eye farther down, I clearly beheld at a
distance the outline of some large building. It could not be
mere natural rock, it was too symmetrical, with huge heavy
Egyptian-like columns, and the whole lighted as from within. I
had about me a small pocket-telescope, and by the aid of this,
I could distinguish, near the building I mention, two forms
which seemed human, though I could not be sure. At least they
were living, for they moved, and both vanished within the
building. We now proceeded to attach the end of the rope we
had brought with us to the ledge on which we stood, by the aid
of clamps and grappling hooks, with which, as well as with
necessary tools, we were provided.

We were almost silent in our work. We toiled like men afraid
to speak to each other. One end of the rope being thus
apparently made firm to the ledge, the other, to which we
fastened a fragment of the rock, rested on the ground below, a
distance of some fifty feet. I was a younger man and a more
active man than my companion, and having served on board ship
in my boyhood, this mode of transit was more familiar to me
than to him. In a whisper I claimed the precedence, so that
when I gained the ground I might serve to hold the rope more
steady for his descent. I got safely to the ground beneath,
and the engineer now began to lower himself. But he had
scarcely accomplished ten feet of the descent, when the
fastenings, which we had fancied so secure, gave way, or rather
the rock itself proved treacherous and crumbled beneath the
strain; and the unhappy man was precipitated to the bottom,
falling just at my feet, and bringing down with his fall
splinters of the rock, one of which, fortunately but a small
one, struck and for the time stunned me. When I recovered my
senses I saw my companion an inanimate mass beside me, life
utterly extinct. While I was bending over his corpse in grief
and horror, I heard close at hand a strange sound between a
snort and a hiss; and turning instinctively to the quarter from
10which it came, I saw emerging from a dark fissure in the rock a
vast and terrible head, with open jaws and dull, ghastly,
hungry eyes- the head of a monstrous reptile resembling that of
the crocodile or alligator, but infinitely larger than the
largest creature of that kind I had ever beheld in my travels.
I started to my feet and fled down the valley at my utmost
speed. I stopped at last, ashamed of my panic and my flight,
and returned to the spot on which I had left the body of my
friend. It was gone; doubtless the monster had already drawn
it into its den and devoured it. the rope and the grappling-
hooks still lay where they had fallen, but they afforded me no
chance of return; it was impossible to re-attach them to the
rock above, and the sides of the rock were too sheer and smooth
for human steps to clamber. I was alone in this strange world,
amidst the bowels of the earth.

Chapter III.

Slowly and cautiously I went my solitary way down the lamplit
road and towards the large building I have described. The road
itself seemed like a great Alpine pass, skirting rocky
mountains of which the one through whose chasm I had descended
formed a link. Deep below to the left lay a vast valley, which
presented to my astonished eye the unmistakeable evidences of
art and culture. There were fields covered with a strange
vegetation, similar to none I have seen above the earth; the
colour of it not green, but rather of a dull and leaden hue or
of a golden red.

There were lakes and rivulets which seemed to have been curved
into artificial banks; some of pure water, others that shone
like pools of naphtha. At my right hand, ravines and defiles
opened amidst the rocks, with passes between, evidently
constructed by art, and bordered by trees resembling, for the
11most part, gigantic ferns, with exquisite varieties of feathery
foliage, and stems like those of the palm-tree. Others were
more like the cane-plant, but taller, bearing large clusters of
flowers. Others, again, had the form of enormous fungi, with
short thick stems supporting a wide dome-like roof, from which
either rose or drooped long slender branches. The whole scene
behind, before, and beside me far as the eye could reach, was
brilliant with innumerable lamps. The world without a sun was
bright and warm as an Italian landscape at noon, but the air
less oppressive, the heat softer. Nor was the scene before me
void of signs of habitation. I could distinguish at a
distance, whether on the banks of the lake or rivulet, or
half-way upon eminences, embedded amidst the vegetation,
buildings that must surely be the homes of men. I could even
discover, though far off, forms that appeared to me human
moving amidst the landscape. As I paused to gaze, I saw to the
right, gliding quickly through the air, what appeared a small
boat, impelled by sails shaped like wings. It soon passed out
of sight, descending amidst the shades of a forest. Right
above me there was no sky, but only a cavernous roof. This
roof grew higher and higher at the distance of the landscapes
beyond, till it became imperceptible, as an atmosphere of haze
formed itself beneath.

Continuing my walk, I started,- from a bush that resembled a
great tangle of sea-weeds, interspersed with fern-like shrubs
and plants of large leafage shaped like that of the aloe or
prickly-pear,- a curious animal about the size and shape of a
deer. But as, after bounding away a few paces, it turned round
and gazed at me inquisitively, I perceived that it was not like
any species of deer now extant above the earth, but it brought
instantly to my recollection a plaster cast I had seen in some
museum of a variety of the elk stag, said to have existed
before the Deluge. The creature seemed tame enough, and, after
inspecting me a moment or two, began to graze on the singular
herbiage around undismayed and careless.

Chapter IV.

I now came in full sight of the building. Yes, it had been
made by hands, and hollowed partly out of a great rock. I
should have supposed it at the first glance to have been of the
earliest form of Egyptian architecture. It was fronted by huge
columns, tapering upward from massive plinths, and with
capitals that, as I came nearer, I perceived to be more
ornamental and more fantastically graceful that Egyptian
architecture allows. As the Corinthian capital mimics the leaf
of the acanthus, so the capitals of these columns imitated the
foliage of the vegetation neighbouring them, some aloe-like,
some fern-like. And now there came out of this building a
form- human;- was it human? It stood on the broad way and
looked around, beheld me and approached. It came within a few
yards of me, and at the sight and presence of it an
indescribable awe and tremor seized me, rooting my feet to the
ground. It reminded me of symbolical images of Genius or Demon
that are seen on Etruscan vases or limned on the walls of
Eastern sepulchres- images that borrow the outlines of man, and
are yet of another race. It was tall, not gigantic, but tall
as the tallest man below the height of giants.

Its chief covering seemed to me to be composed of large wings
folded over its breast and reaching to its knees; the rest of
its attire was composed of an under tunic and leggings of some
thin fibrous material. It wore on its head a kind of tiara
that shone with jewels, and carried in its right hand a slender
staff of bright metal like polished steel. But the face! it
was that which inspired my awe and my terror. It was the face
of man, but yet of a type of man distinct from our known extant
races. The nearest approach to it in outline and expression is
the face of the sculptured sphinx- so regular in its calm,
intellectual, mysterious beauty. Its colour was peculiar, more
13like that of the red man than any other variety of our species,
and yet different from it- a richer and a softer hue, with
large black eyes, deep and brilliant, and brows arched as a
semicircle. The face was beardless; but a nameless something
in the aspect, tranquil though the expression, and beauteous
though the features, roused that instinct of danger which the
sight of a tiger or serpent arouses. I felt that this manlike
image was endowed with forces inimical to man. As it drew
near, a cold shudder came over me. I fell on my knees and
covered my face with my hands.

Chapter V.

A voice accosted me- a very quiet and very musical key of
voice- in a language of which I could not understand a word,
but it served to dispel my fear. I uncovered my face and
looked up. The stranger (I could scarcely bring myself to call
him man) surveyed me with an eye that seemed to read to the
very depths of my heart. He then placed his left hand on my
forehead, and with the staff in his right, gently touched my
shoulder. The effect of this double contact was magical. In
place of my former terror there passed into me a sense of
contentment, of joy, of confidence in myself and in the being
before me. I rose and spoke in my own language. He listened
to me with apparent attention, but with a slight surprise in
his looks; and shook his head, as if to signify that I was not
understood. He then took me by the hand and led me in silence
to the building. The entrance was open- indeed there was no
door to it. We entered an immense hall, lighted by the same
kind of lustre as in the scene without, but diffusing a
fragrant odour. The floor was in large tesselated blocks of
precious metals, and partly covered with a sort of matlike
14carpeting. A strain of low music, above and around, undulated
as if from invisible instruments, seeming to belong naturally
to the place, just as the sound of murmuring waters belongs to
a rocky landscape, or the warble of birds to vernal groves.

A figure in a simpler garb than that of my guide, but of
similar fashion, was standing motionless near the threshold.
My guide touched it twice with his staff, and it put itself
into a rapid and gliding movement, skimming noiselessly over
the floor. Gazing on it, I then saw that it was no living
form, but a mechanical automaton. It might be two minutes
after it vanished through a doorless opening, half screened by
curtains at the other end of the hall, when through the same
opening advanced a boy of about twelve years old, with features
closely resembling those of my guide, so that they seemed to me
evidently son and father. On seeing me the child uttered a
cry, and lifted a staff like that borne by my guide, as if in
menace. At a word from the elder he dropped it. The two then
conversed for some moments, examining me while they spoke. The
child touched my garments, and stroked my face with evident
curiosity, uttering a sound like a laugh, but with an hilarity
more subdued that the mirth of our laughter. Presently the
roof of the hall opened, and a platform descended, seemingly
constructed on the same principle as the 'lifts' used in hotels
and warehouses for mounting from one story to another.

The stranger placed himself and the child on the platform, and
motioned to me to do the same, which I did. We ascended
quickly and safely, and alighted in the midst of a corridor
with doorways on either side.

Through one of these doorways I was conducted into a chamber
fitted up with an oriental splendour; the walls were tesselated
with spars, and metals, and uncut jewels; cushions and divans
abounded; apertures as for windows but unglazed, were made in
the chamber opening to the floor; and as I passed along I
15observed that these openings led into spacious balconies, and
commanded views of the illumined landscape without. In cages
suspended from the ceiling there were birds of strange form and
bright plumage, which at our entrance set up a chorus of song,
modulated into tune as is that of our piping bullfinches. A
delicious fragrance, from censers of gold elaborately sculptured,
filled the air. Several automata, like the one I had seen,
stood dumb and motionless by the walls. The stranger placed me
beside him on a divan and again spoke to me, and again I spoke,
but without the least advance towards understanding each other.

But now I began to feel the effects of the blow I had received
from the splinters of the falling rock more acutely that I had
done at first.

There came over me a sense of sickly faintness, accompanied
with acute, lancinating pains in the head and neck. I sank
back on the seat and strove in vain to stifle a groan. On this
the child, who had hitherto seemed to eye me with distrust or
dislike, knelt by my side to support me; taking one of my hands
in both his own, he approached his lips to my forehead,
breathing on it softly. In a few moments my pain ceased; a
drowsy, heavy calm crept over me; I fell asleep.

How long I remained in this state I know not, but when I woke I
felt perfectly restored. My eyes opened upon a group of silent
forms, seated around me in the gravity and quietude of
Orientals- all more or less like the first stranger; the same
mantling wings, the same fashion of garment, the same
sphinx-like faces, with the deep dark eyes and red man's
colour; above all, the same type of race- race akin to man's,
but infinitely stronger of form and grandeur of aspect- and
inspiring the same unutterable feeling of dread. Yet each
countenance was mild and tranquil, and even kindly in
expression. And, strangely enough, it seemed to me that in
this very calm and benignity consisted the secret of the dread
which the countenances inspired. They seemed as void of the
lines and shadows which care and sorrow, and passion and sin,
16leave upon the faces of men, as are the faces of sculptured
gods, or as, in the eyes of Christian mourners, seem the
peaceful brows of the dead.

I felt a warm hand on my shoulder; it was the child's. In his
eyes there was a sort of lofty pity and tenderness, such as
that with which we may gaze on some suffering bird or
butterfly. I shrank from that touch- I shrank from that eye.
I was vaguely impressed with a belief that, had he so pleased,
that child could have killed me as easily as a man can kill a
bird or a butterfly. The child seemed pained at my repugnance,
quitted me, and placed himself beside one of the windows. The
others continued to converse with each other in a low tone, and
by their glances towards me I could perceive that I was the
object of their conversation. One in especial seemed to be
urging some proposal affecting me on the being whom I had first
met, and this last by his gesture seemed about to assent to it,
when the child suddenly quitted his post by the window, placed
himself between me and the other forms, as if in protection,
and spoke quickly and eagerly. By some intuition or instinct I
felt that the child I had before so dreaded was pleading in my
behalf. Ere he had ceased another stranger entered the room.
He appeared older than the rest, though not old; his
countenance less smoothly serene than theirs, though equally
regular in its features, seemed to me to have more the touch of
a humanity akin to my own. He listened quietly to the words
addressed to him, first by my guide, next by two others of the
group, and lastly by the child; then turned towards myself, and
addressed me, not by words, but by signs and gestures. These I
fancied that I perfectly understood, and I was not mistaken. I
comprehended that he inquired whence I came. I extended my
arm, and pointed towards the road which had led me from the
chasm in the rock; then an idea seized me. I drew forth my
pocket-book, and sketched on one of its blank leaves a rough
design of the ledge of the rock, the rope, myself clinging to
it; then of the cavernous rock below, the head of the reptile,
17the lifeless form of my friend. I gave this primitive kind of
hieroglyph to my interrogator, who, after inspecting it
gravely, handed it to his next neighbour, and it thus passed
round the group. The being I had at first encountered then
said a few words, and the child, who approached and looked at
my drawing, nodded as if he comprehended its purport, and,
returning to the window, expanded the wings attached to his
form, shook them once or twice, and then launched himself into
space without. I started up in amaze and hastened to the
window. The child was already in the air, buoyed on his wings,
which he did not flap to and fro as a bird does, but which were
elevated over his head, and seemed to bear him steadily aloft
without effort of his own. His flight seemed as swift as an
eagle's; and I observed that it was towards the rock whence I
had descended, of which the outline loomed visible in the
brilliant atmosphere. In a very few minutes he returned,
skimming through the opening from which he had gone, and
dropping on the floor the rope and grappling-hooks I had left
at the descent from the chasm. Some words in a low tone passed
between the being present; one of the group touched an
automaton, which started forward and glided from the room; then
the last comer, who had addressed me by gestures, rose, took me
by the hand, and led me into the corridor. There the platform
by which I had mounted awaited us; we placed ourselves on it
and were lowered into the hall below. My new companion, still
holding me by the hand, conducted me from the building into a
street (so to speak) that stretched beyond it, with buildings
on either side, separated from each other by gardens bright
with rich-coloured vegetation and strange flowers.
Interspersed amidst these gardens, which were divided from each
other by low walls, or walking slowly along the road, were many
forms similar to those I had already seen. Some of the
passers-by, on observing me, approached my guide, evidently by
their tones, looks, and gestures addressing to him inquiries
18about myself. In a few moments a crowd collected around us,
examining me with great interest, as if I were some rare wild
animal. Yet even in gratifying their curiosity they preserved
a grave and courteous demeanour; and after a few words from my
guide, who seemed to me to deprecate obstruction in our road,
they fell back with a stately inclination of head, and resumed
their own way with tranquil indifference. Midway in this
thoroughfare we stopped at a building that differed from those
we had hitherto passed, inasmuch as it formed three sides of a
vast court, at the angles of which were lofty pyramidal towers;
in the open space between the sides was a circular fountain of
colossal dimensions, and throwing up a dazzling spray of what
seemed to me fire. We entered the building through an open
doorway and came into an enormous hall, in which were several
groups of children, all apparently employed in work as at some
great factory. There was a huge engine in the wall which was
in full play, with wheels and cylinders resembling our own
steam-engines, except that it was richly ornamented with
precious stones and metals, and appeared to emanate a pale
phosphorescent atmosphere of shifting light. Many of the
children were at some mysterious work on this machinery, others
were seated before tables. I was not allowed to linger long
enough to examine into the nature of their employment. Not one
young voice was heard- not one young face turned to gaze on us.
They were all still and indifferent as may be ghosts, through
the midst of which pass unnoticed the forms of the living.

Quitting this hall, my guide led me through a gallery richly
painted in compartments, with a barbaric mixture of gold in the
colours, like pictures by Louis Cranach. The subjects
described on these walls appeared to my glance as intended to
illustrate events in the history of the race amidst which I was
admitted. In all there were figures, most of them like the
manlike creatures I had seen, but not all in the same fashion
of garb, nor all with wings. There were also the effigies of
19various animals and birds, wholly strange to me, with
backgrounds depicting landscapes or buildings. So far as my
imperfect knowledge of the pictorial art would allow me to form
an opinion, these paintings seemed very accurate in design and
very rich in colouring, showing a perfect knowledge of
perspective, but their details not arranged according to the
rules of composition acknowledged by our artists- wanting, as
it were, a centre; so that the effect was vague, scattered,
confused, bewildering- they were like heterogeneous fragments
of a dream of art.

We now came into a room of moderate size, in which was
assembled what I afterwards knew to be the family of my guide,
seated at a table spread as for repast. The forms thus grouped
were those of my guide's wife, his daughter, and two sons. I
recognised at once the difference between the two sexes, though
the two females were of taller stature and ampler proportions
than the males; and their countenances, if still more
symmetrical in outline and contour, were devoid of the softness
and timidity of expression which give charm to the face of
woman as seen on the earth above. The wife wore no wings, the
daughter wore wings longer than those of the males.

My guide uttered a few words, on which all the persons seated
rose, and with that peculiar mildness of look and manner which
I have before noticed, and which is, in truth, the common
attribute of this formidable race, they saluted me according to
their fashion, which consists in laying the right hand very
gently on the head and uttering a soft sibilant monosyllable-
S.Si, equivalent to "Welcome."

The mistress of the house then seated me beside her, and heaped
a golden platter before me from one of the dishes.

While I ate (and though the viands were new to me, I marvelled
more at the delicacy than the strangeness of their flavour), my
companions conversed quietly, and, so far as I could detect,
with polite avoidance of any direct reference to myself, or any
20obtrusive scrutiny of my appearance. Yet I was the first
creature of that variety of the human race to which I belong
that they had ever beheld, and was consequently regarded by
them as a most curious and abnormal phenomenon. But all
rudeness is unknown to this people, and the youngest child is
taught to despise any vehement emotional demonstration. when
the meal was ended, my guide again took me by the hand, and,
re-entering the gallery, touched a metallic plate inscribed
with strange figures, and which I rightly conjectured to be of
the nature of our telegraphs. A platform descended, but this
time we mounted to a much greater height than in the former
building, and found ourselves in a room of moderate dimensions,
and which in its general character had much that might be
familiar to the associations of a visitor from the upper world.
There were shelves on the wall containing what appeared to be
books, and indeed were so; mostly very small, like our diamond
duodecimos, shaped in the fashion of our volumes, and bound in
sheets of fine metal. There were several curious-looking
pieces of mechanism scattered about, apparently models, such as
might be seen in the study of any professional mechanician.
Four automata (mechanical contrivances which, with these
people, answer the ordinary purposes of domestic service) stood
phantom-like at each angle in the wall. In a recess was a low
couch, or bed with pillows. A window, with curtains of some
fibrous material drawn aside, opened upon a large balcony. My
host stepped out into the balcony; I followed him. We were on
the uppermost story of one of the angular pyramids; the view
beyond was of a wild and solemn beauty impossible to describe:-
the vast ranges of precipitous rock which formed the distant
background, the intermediate valleys of mystic many-coloured
herbiage, the flash of waters, many of them like streams of
roseate flame, the serene lustre diffused over all by myriads
of lamps, combined to form a whole of which no words of mine
21can convey adequate description; so splendid was it, yet so
sombre; so lovely, yet so awful.

But my attention was soon diverted from these nether landscapes.
Suddenly there arose, as from the streets below, a burst of
joyous music; then a winged form soared into the space; another
as if in chase of the first, another and another; others after
others, till the crowd grew thick and the number countless.
But how describe the fantastic grace of these forms in their
undulating movements! They appeared engaged in some sport or
amusement; now forming into opposite squadrons; now scattering;
now each group threading the other, soaring, descending,
interweaving, severing; all in measured time to the music
below, as if in the dance of the fabled Peri.

I turned my gaze on my host in a feverish wonder. I ventured
to place my hand on the large wings that lay folded on his
breast, and in doing so a slight shock as of electricity passed
through me. I recoiled in fear; my host smiled, and as if
courteously to gratify my curiosity, slowly expanded his
pinions. I observed that his garment beneath them became
dilated as a bladder that fills with air. The arms seemed to
slide into the wings, and in another moment he had launched
himself into the luminous atmosphere, and hovered there, still,
and with outspread wings, as an eagle that basks in the sun.
Then, rapidly as an eagle swoops, he rushed downwards into the
midst of one of the groups, skimming through the midst, and as
suddenly again soaring aloft. Thereon, three forms, in one of
which I thought to recognise my host's daughter, detached
themselves from the rest, and followed him as a bird sportively
follows a bird. My eyes, dazzled with the lights and
bewildered by the throngs, ceased to distinguish the gyrations
and evolutions of these winged playmates, till presently my
host re-emerged from the crowd and alighted at my side.

The strangeness of all I had seen began now to operate fast on
my senses; my mind itself began to wander. Though not inclined
22to be superstitious, nor hitherto believing that man could be
brought into bodily communication with demons, I felt the
terror and the wild excitement with which, in the Gothic ages,
a traveller might have persuaded himself that he witnessed a
'sabbat' of fiends and witches. I have a vague recollection of
having attempted with vehement gesticulation, and forms of
exorcism, and loud incoherent words, to repel my courteous and
indulgent host; of his mild endeavors to calm and soothe me; of
his intelligent conjecture that my fright and bewilderment were
occasioned by the difference of form and movement between us
which the wings that had excited my marvelling curiosity had,
in exercise, made still more strongly perceptible; of the
gentle smile with which he had sought to dispel my alarm by
dropping the wings to the ground and endeavouring to show me
that they were but a mechanical contrivance. That sudden
transformation did but increase my horror, and as extreme
fright often shows itself by extreme daring, I sprang at his
throat like a wild beast. On an instant I was felled to the
ground as by an electric shock, and the last confused images
floating before my sight ere I became wholly insensible, were
the form of my host kneeling beside me with one hand on my
forehead, and the beautiful calm face of his daughter, with
large, deep, inscrutable eyes intently fixed upon my own.

Chapter VI.

I remained in this unconscious state, as I afterwards learned,
for many days, even for some weeks according to our computation
of time. When I recovered I was in a strange room, my host and
all his family were gathered round me, and to my utter amaze my
host's daughter accosted me in my own language with a slightly
foreign accent.

"How do you feel?" she asked.

23It was some moments before I could overcome my surprise enough
to falter out, "You know my language? How? Who and what are

My host smiled and motioned to one of his sons, who then took
from a table a number of thin metallic sheets on which were
traced drawings of various figures- a house, a tree, a bird, a
man, &c.

In these designs I recognised my own style of drawing. Under
each figure was written the name of it in my language, and in
my writing; and in another handwriting a word strange to me
beneath it.

Said the host, "Thus we began; and my daughter Zee, who belongs
to the College of Sages, has been your instructress and ours

Zee then placed before me other metallic sheets, on which, in
my writing, words first, and then sentences, were inscribed.
Under each word and each sentence strange characters in another
hand. Rallying my senses, I comprehended that thus a rude
dictionary had been effected. Had it been done while I was
dreaming? "That is enough now," said Zee, in a tone of command.
"Repose and take food."

Chapter VII.

A room to myself was assigned to me in this vast edifice. It
was prettily and fantastically arranged, but without any of the
splendour of metal-work or gems which was displayed in the more
public apartments. The walls were hung with a variegated
matting made from the stalks and fibers of plants, and the
floor carpeted with the same.

The bed was without curtains, its supports of iron resting on
balls of crystal; the coverings, of a thin white substance
resembling cotton. There were sundry shelves containing books.
24A curtained recess communicated with an aviary filled with
singing- birds, of which I did not recognise one resembling
those I have seen on earth, except a beautiful species of dove,
though this was distinguished from our doves by a tall crest of
bluish plumes. All these birds had been trained to sing in
artful tunes, and greatly exceeded the skill of our piping
bullfinches, which can rarely achieve more than two tunes, and
cannot, I believe, sing those in concert. One might have
supposed one's self at an opera in listening to the voices in
my aviary. There were duets and trios, and quartetts and
choruses, all arranged as in one piece of music. Did I want
silence from the birds? I had but to draw a curtain over the
aviary, and their song hushed as they found themselves left in
the dark. Another opening formed a window, not glazed, but on
touching a spring, a shutter ascended from the floor, formed of
some substance less transparent than glass, but still
sufficiently pellucid to allow a softened view of the scene
without. To this window was attached a balcony, or rather
hanging garden, wherein grew many graceful plants and brilliant
flowers. The apartment and its appurtenances had thus a
character, if strange in detail, still familiar, as a whole, to
modern notions of luxury, and would have excited admiration if
found attached to the apartments of an English duchess or a
fashionable French author. Before I arrived this was Zee's
chamber; she had hospitably assigned it to me.

Some hours after the waking up which is described in my last
chapter, I was lying alone on my couch trying to fix my
thoughts on conjecture as to the nature and genus of the people
amongst whom I was thrown, when my host and his daughter Zee
entered the room. My host, still speaking my native language,
inquired with much politeness, whether it would be agreeable to
me to converse, or if I preferred solitude. I replied, that I
should feel much honoured and obliged by the opportunity
offered me to express my gratitude for the hospitality and
civilities I had received in a country to which I was a stranger,
25and to learn enough of its customs and manners not to offend
through ignorance.

As I spoke, I had of course risen from my couch: but Zee, much
to my confusion, curtly ordered me to lie down again, and there
was something in her voice and eye, gentle as both were, that
compelled my obedience. She then seated herself unconcernedly
at the foot of my bed, while her father took his place on a
divan a few feet distant.

"But what part of the world do you come from?" asked my host,
"that we should appear so strange to you and you to us? I have
seen individual specimens of nearly all the races differing
from our own, except the primeval savages who dwell in the most
desolate and remote recesses of uncultivated nature, unacquainted
with other light than that they obtain from volcanic fires, and
contented to grope their way in the dark, as do many creeping,
crawling and flying things. But certainly you cannot be a
member of those barbarous tribes, nor, on the other hand, do
you seem to belong to any civilised people."

I was somewhat nettled at this last observation, and replied
that I had the honour to belong to one of the most civilised
nations of the earth; and that, so far as light was concerned,
while I admired the ingenuity and disregard of expense with
which my host and his fellow-citizens had contrived to illumine
the regions unpenetrated by the rays of the sun, yet I could
not conceive how any who had once beheld the orbs of heaven
could compare to their lustre the artificial lights invented by
the necessities of man. But my host said he had seen specimens
of most of the races differing from his own, save the wretched
barbarians he had mentioned. Now, was it possible that he had
never been on the surface of the earth, or could he only be
referring to communities buried within its entrails?

My host was for some moments silent; his countenance showed a
degree of surprise which the people of that race very rarely
26manifest under any circumstances, howsoever extraordinary. But
Zee was more intelligent, and exclaimed, "So you see, my
father, that there is truth in the old tradition; there always
is truth in every tradition commonly believed in all times and
by all tribes."

"Zee," said my host mildly, "you belong to the College of
Sages, and ought to be wiser than I am; but, as chief of the
Light-preserving Council, it is my duty to take nothing for
granted till it is proved to the evidence of my own senses."
Then, turning to me, he asked me several questions about the
surface of the earth and the heavenly bodies; upon which,
though I answered him to the best of my knowledge, my answers
seemed not to satisfy nor convince him. He shook his head
quietly, and, changing the subject rather abruptly, asked how I
had come down from what he was pleased to call one world to the
other. I answered, that under the surface of the earth there
were mines containing minerals, or metals, essential to our
wants and our progress in all arts and industries; and I then
briefly explained the manner in which, while exploring one of
those mines, I and my ill-fated friend had obtained a glimpse
of the regions into which we had descended, and how the descent
had cost him his life; appealing to the rope and grappling-
hooks that the child had brought to the house in which I had
been at first received, as a witness of the truthfulness of my

My host then proceeded to question me as to the habits and
modes of life among the races on the upper earth, more
especially among those considered to be the most advanced in
that civilisation which he was pleased to define "the art of
diffusing throughout a community the tranquil happiness which
belongs to a virtuous and well-ordered household." Naturally
desiring to represent in the most favourable colours the world
from which I came, I touched but slightly, though indulgently,
on the antiquated and decaying institutions of Europe, in order
27to expatiate on the present grandeur and prospective
pre-eminence of that glorious American Republic, in which
Europe enviously seeks its model and tremblingly foresees its
doom. Selecting for an example of the social life of the
United States that city in which progress advances at the
fastest rate, I indulged in an animated description of the
moral habits of New York. Mortified to see, by the faces of my
listeners, that I did not make the favourable impression I had
anticipated, I elevated my theme; dwelling on the excellence of
democratic institutions, their promotion of tranquil happiness
by the government of party, and the mode in which they diffused
such happiness throughout the community by preferring, for the
exercise of power and the acquisition of honours, the lowliest
citizens in point of property, education, and character.
Fortunately recollecting the peroration of a speech, on the
purifying influences of American democracy and their destined
spread over the world, made by a certain eloquent senator (for
whose vote in the Senate a Railway Company, to which my two
brothers belonged, had just paid 20,000 dollars), I wound up by
repeating its glowing predictions of the magnificent future
that smiled upon mankind- when the flag of freedom should float
over an entire continent, and two hundred millions of
intelligent citizens, accustomed from infancy to the daily use
of revolvers, should apply to a cowering universe the doctrine
of the Patriot Monroe.

When I had concluded, my host gently shook his head, and fell
into a musing study, making a sign to me and his daughter to
remain silent while he reflected. And after a time he said, in
a very earnest and solemn tone, "If you think as you say, that
you, though a stranger, have received kindness at the hands of
me and mine, I adjure you to reveal nothing to any other of our
people respecting the world from which you came, unless, on
consideration, I give you permission to do so. Do you consent
to this request?"

28"Of course I pledge my word, to it," said I, somewhat amazed;
and I extended my right hand to grasp his. But he placed my
hand gently on his forehead and his own right hand on my
breast, which is the custom amongst this race in all matters of
promise or verbal obligations. Then turning to his daughter,
he said, "And you, Zee, will not repeat to any one what the
stranger has said, or may say, to me or to you, of a world
other than our own." Zee rose and kissed her father on the
temples, saying, with a smile, "A Gy's tongue is wanton, but
love can fetter it fast. And if, my father, you fear lest a
chance word from me or yourself could expose our community to
danger, by a desire to explore a world beyond us, will not a
wave of the 'vril,' properly impelled, wash even the memory of
what we have heard the stranger say out of the tablets of the

"What is the vril?" I asked.

Therewith Zee began to enter into an explanation of which I
understood very little, for there is no word in any language I
know which is an exact synonym for vril. I should call it
electricity, except that it comprehends in its manifold
branches other forces of nature, to which, in our scientific
nomenclature, differing names are assigned, such as magnetism,
galvanism, &c. These people consider that in vril they have
arrived at the unity in natural energetic agencies, which has
been conjectured by many philosophers above ground, and which
Faraday thus intimates under the more cautious term of

"I have long held an opinion," says that illustrious
experimentalist, "almost amounting to a conviction, in common,
I believe, with many other lovers of natural knowledge, that
the various forms under which the forces of matter are made
manifest, have one common origin; or, in other words, are so
directly related and mutually dependent that they are
convertible, as it were into one another, and possess
equivalents of power in their action."

29These subterranean philosophers assert that by one operation of
vril, which Faraday would perhaps call 'atmospheric magnetism,'
they can influence the variations of temperature- in plain
words, the weather; that by operations, akin to those ascribed
to mesmerism, electro-biology, odic force, &c., but applied
scientifically, through vril conductors, they can exercise
influence over minds, and bodies animal and vegetable, to an
extent not surpassed in the romances of our mystics. To all
such agencies they give the common name of vril. Zee asked me
if, in my world, it was not known that all the faculties of the
mind could be quickened to a degree unknown in the waking
state, by trance or vision, in which the thoughts of one brain
could be transmitted to another, and knowledge be thus rapidly
interchanged. I replied, that there were amongst us stories
told of such trance or vision, and that I had heard much and
seen something in mesmeric clairvoyance; but that these
practices had fallen much into disuse or contempt, partly
because of the gross impostures to which they had been made
subservient, and partly because, even where the effects upon
certain abnormal constitutions were genuinely produced, the
effects when fairly examined and analysed, were very
unsatisfactory- not to be relied upon for any systematic
truthfulness or any practical purpose, and rendered very
mischievous to credulous persons by the superstitions they
tended to produce. Zee received my answers with much benignant
attention, and said that similar instances of abuse and
credulity had been familiar to their own scientific experience
in the infancy of their knowledge, and while the properties of
vril were misapprehended, but that she reserved further
discussion on this subject till I was more fitted to enter into
it. She contented herself with adding, that it was through the
agency of vril, while I had been placed in the state of trance,
that I had been made acquainted with the rudiments of their
language; and that she and her father, who alone of the family,
30took the pains to watch the experiment, had acquired a greater
proportionate knowledge of my language than I of their own;
partly because my language was much simpler than theirs,
comprising far less of complex ideas; and partly because their
organisation was, by hereditary culture, much more ductile and
more readily capable of acquiring knowledge than mine. At this
I secretly demurred; and having had in the course of a
practical life, to sharpen my wits, whether at home or in
travel, I could not allow that my cerebral organisation could
possibly be duller than that of people who had lived all their
lives by lamplight. However, while I was thus thinking, Zee
quietly pointed her forefinger at my forehead, and sent me to

Chapter VIII.

When I once more awoke I saw by my bed-side the child who had
brought the rope and grappling-hooks to the house in which I
had been first received, and which, as I afterwards learned,
was the residence of the chief magistrate of the tribe. The
child, whose name was Taee (pronounced Tar-ee), was the
magistrate's eldest son. I found that during my last sleep or
trance I had made still greater advance in the language of the
country, and could converse with comparative ease and fluency.

This child was singularly handsome, even for the beautiful race
to which he belonged, with a countenance very manly in aspect
for his years, and with a more vivacious and energetic
expression than I had hitherto seen in the serene and
passionless faces of the men. He brought me the tablet on
which I had drawn the mode of my descent, and had also sketched
the head of the horrible reptile that had scared me from my
friend's corpse. Pointing to that part of the drawing, Taee put
31to me a few questions respecting the size and form of the
monster, and the cave or chasm from which it had emerged. His
interest in my answers seemed so grave as to divert him for a
while from any curiosity as to myself or my antecedents. But
to my great embarrassment, seeing how I was pledged to my host,
he was just beginning to ask me where I came from, when Zee,
fortunately entered, and, overhearing him, said, "Taee, give to
our guest any information he may desire, but ask none from him
in return. To question him who he is, whence he comes, or
wherefore he is here, would be a breach of the law which my
father has laid down in this house."

"So be it," said Taee, pressing his hand to his breast; and from
that moment, till the one in which I saw him last, this child,
with whom I became very intimate, never once put to me any of
the questions thus interdicted.

Chapter IX.

It was not for some time, and until, by repeated trances, if
they are to be so called, my mind became better prepared to
interchange ideas with my entertainers, and more fully to
comprehend differences of manners and customs, at first too
strange to my experience to be seized by my reason, that I was
enabled to gather the following details respecting the origin
and history of the subterranean population, as portion of one
great family race called the Ana.

According to the earliest traditions, the remote progenitors of
the race had once tenanted a world above the surface of that in
which their descendants dwelt. Myths of that world were still
preserved in their archives, and in those myths were legends of
a vaulted dome in which the lamps were lighted by no human
hand. But such legends were considered by most commentators as
allegorical fables. According to these traditions the earth
32itself, at the date to which the traditions ascend, was not
indeed in its infancy, but in the throes and travail of
transition from one form of development to another, and subject
to many violent revolutions of nature. By one of such
revolutions, that portion of the upper world inhabited by the
ancestors of this race had been subjected to inundations, not
rapid, but gradual and uncontrollable, in which all, save a
scanty remnant, were submerged and perished. Whether this be a
record of our historical and sacred Deluge, or of some earlier
one contended for by geologists, I do not pretend to
conjecture; though, according to the chronology of this people
as compared with that of Newton, it must have been many
thousands of years before the time of Noah. On the other hand,
the account of these writers does not harmonise with the
opinions most in vogue among geological authorities, inasmuch
as it places the existence of a human race upon earth at dates
long anterior to that assigned to the terrestrial formation
adapted to the introduction of mammalia. A band of the
ill-fated race, thus invaded by the Flood, had, during the
march of the waters, taken refuge in caverns amidst the loftier
rocks, and, wandering through these hollows, they lost sight of
the upper world forever. Indeed, the whole face of the earth
had been changed by this great revulsion; land had been turned
into sea- sea into land. In the bowels of the inner earth,
even now, I was informed as a positive fact, might be
discovered the remains of human habitation- habitation not in
huts and caverns, but in vast cities whose ruins attest the
civilisation of races which flourished before the age of Noah,
and are not to be classified with those genera to which
philosophy ascribes the use of flint and the ignorance of iron.

The fugitives had carried with them the knowledge of the arts
they had practised above ground- arts of culture and
civilisation. Their earliest want must have been that of
supplying below the earth the light they had lost above it; and
at no time, even in the traditional period, do the races, of
which the one I now sojourned with formed a tribe, seem to have
33been unacquainted with the art of extracting light from gases,
or manganese, or petroleum. They had been accustomed in their
former state to contend with the rude forces of nature; and
indeed the lengthened battle they had fought with their
conqueror Ocean, which had taken centuries in its spread, had
quickened their skill in curbing waters into dikes and channels.
To this skill they owed their preservation in their new abode.
"For many generations," said my host, with a sort of contempt
and horror, "these primitive forefathers are said to have
degraded their rank and shortened their lives by eating the
flesh of animals, many varieties of which had, like themselves,
escaped the Deluge, and sought shelter in the hollows of the
earth; other animals, supposed to be unknown to the upper world,
those hollows themselves produced."

When what we should term the historical age emerged from the
twilight of tradition, the Ana were already established in
different communities, and had attained to a degree of
civilisation very analogous to that which the more advanced
nations above the earth now enjoy. They were familiar with
most of our mechanical inventions, including the application of
steam as well as gas. The communities were in fierce
competition with each other. They had their rich and their
poor; they had orators and conquerors; they made war either for
a domain or an idea. Though the various states acknowledged
various forms of government, free institutions were beginning
to preponderate; popular assemblies increased in power;
republics soon became general; the democracy to which the most
enlightened European politicians look forward as the extreme
goal of political advancement, and which still prevailed among
other subterranean races, whom they despised as barbarians, the
loftier family of Ana, to which belonged the tribe I was
visiting, looked back to as one of the crude and ignorant
experiments which belong to the infancy of political science.
It was the age of envy and hate, of fierce passions, of
34constant social changes more or less violent, of strife between
classes, of war between state and state. This phase of society
lasted, however, for some ages, and was finally brought to a
close, at least among the nobler and more intellectual
populations, by the gradual discovery of the latent powers
stored in the all-permeating fluid which they denominate Vril.

According to the account I received from Zee, who, as an
erudite professor of the College of Sages, had studied such
matters more diligently than any other member of my host's
family, this fluid is capable of being raised and disciplined
into the mightiest agency over all forms of matter, animate or
inanimate. It can destroy like the flash of lightning; yet,
differently applied, it can replenish or invigorate life, heal,
and preserve, and on it they chiefly rely for the cure of
disease, or rather for enabling the physical organisation to
re-establish the due equilibrium of its natural powers, and
thereby to cure itself. By this agency they rend way through
the most solid substances, and open valleys for culture through
the rocks of their subterranean wilderness. From it they
extract the light which supplies their lamps, finding it
steadier, softer, and healthier than the other inflammable
materials they had formerly used.

But the effects of the alleged discovery of the means to direct
the more terrible force of vril were chiefly remarkable in
their influence upon social polity. As these effects became
familiarly known and skillfully administered, war between the
vril-discoverers ceased, for they brought the art of
destruction to such perfection as to annul all superiority in
numbers, discipline, or military skill. The fire lodged in the
hollow of a rod directed by the hand of a child could shatter
the strongest fortress, or cleave its burning way from the van
to the rear of an embattled host. If army met army, and both
had command of this agency, it could be but to the annihilation
of each. The age of war was therefore gone, but with the
35cessation of war other effects bearing upon the social state
soon became apparent. Man was so completely at the mercy of
man, each whom he encountered being able, if so willing, to
slay him on the instant, that all notions of government by
force gradually vanished from political systems and forms of
law. It is only by force that vast communities, dispersed
through great distances of space, can be kept together; but now
there was no longer either the necessity of self-preservation
or the pride of aggrandisement to make one state desire to
preponderate in population over another.

The Vril-discoverers thus, in the course of a few generations,
peacefully split into communities of moderate size. The tribe
amongst which I had fallen was limited to 12,000 families.
Each tribe occupied a territory sufficient for all its wants,
and at stated periods the surplus population departed to seek a
realm of its own. There appeared no necessity for any
arbitrary selection of these emigrants; there was always a
sufficient number who volunteered to depart.

These subdivided states, petty if we regard either territory or
population,- all appertained to one vast general family. They
spoke the same language, though the dialects might slightly
differ. They intermarried; They maintained the same general
laws and customs; and so important a bond between these several
communities was the knowledge of vril and the practice of its
agencies, that the word A-Vril was synonymous with
civilisation; and Vril-ya, signifying "The Civilised Nations,"
was the common name by which the communities employing the uses
of vril distinguished themselves from such of the Ana as were
yet in a state of barbarism.

The government of the tribe of Vril-ya I am treating of was
apparently very complicated, really very simple. It was based
upon a principle recognised in theory, though little carried
out in practice, above ground- viz., that the object of all
systems of philosophical thought tends to the attainment of
unity, or the ascent through all intervening labyrinths to the
simplicity of a single first cause or principle. Thus in
36politics, even republican writers have agreed that a benevolent
autocracy would insure the best administration, if there were
any guarantees for its continuance, or against its gradual
abuse of the powers accorded to it. This singular community
elected therefore a single supreme magistrate styled Tur; he
held his office nominally for life, but he could seldom be
induced to retain it after the first approach of old age.
There was indeed in this society nothing to induce any of its
members to covet the cares of office. No honours, no insignia
of higher rank, were assigned to it. The supreme magistrate
was not distinguished from the rest by superior habitation or
revenue. On the other hand, the duties awarded to him were
marvellously light and easy, requiring no preponderant degree
of energy or intelligence. There being no apprehensions of
war, there were no armies to maintain; there being no
government of force, there was no police to appoint and direct.
What we call crime was utterly unknown to the Vril-ya; and
there were no courts of criminal justice. The rare instances
of civil disputes were referred for arbitration to friends
chosen by either party, or decided by the Council of Sages,
which will be described later. There were no professional
lawyers; and indeed their laws were but amicable conventions,
for there was no power to enforce laws against an offender who
carried in his staff the power to destroy his judges. There
were customs and regulations to compliance with which, for
several ages, the people had tacitly habituated themselves; or
if in any instance an individual felt such compliance hard, he
quitted the community and went elsewhere. There was, in fact,
quietly established amid this state, much the same compact that
is found in our private families, in which we virtually say to
any independent grown-up member of the family whom we receive
to entertain, "Stay or go, according as our habits and
regulations suit or displease you." But though there were no
laws such as we call laws, no race above ground is so
37law-observing. Obedience to the rule adopted by the community
has become as much an instinct as if it were implanted by
nature. Even in every household the head of it makes a
regulation for its guidance, which is never resisted nor even
cavilled at by those who belong to the family. They have a
proverb, the pithiness of which is much lost in this
paraphrase, "No happiness without order, no order without
authority, no authority without unity." The mildness of all
government among them, civil or domestic, may be signalised by
their idiomatic expressions for such terms as illegal or
forbidden- viz., "It is requested not to do so and so." Poverty
among the Ana is as unknown as crime; not that property is held
in common, or that all are equals in the extent of their
possessions or the size and luxury of their habitations: but
there being no difference of rank or position between the
grades of wealth or the choice of occupations, each pursues his
own inclinations without creating envy or vying; some like a
modest, some a more splendid kind of life; each makes himself
happy in his own way. Owing to this absence of competition,
and the limit placed on the population, it is difficult for a
family to fall into distress; there are no hazardous
speculations, no emulators striving for superior wealth and
rank. No doubt, in each settlement all originally had the same
proportions of land dealt out to them; but some, more
adventurous than others, had extended their possessions farther
into the bordering wilds, or had improved into richer fertility
the produce of their fields, or entered into commerce or trade.
Thus, necessarily, some had grown richer than others, but none
had become absolutely poor, or wanting anything which their
tastes desired. If they did so, it was always in their power
to migrate, or at the worst to apply, without shame and with
certainty of aid, to the rich, for all the members of the
community considered themselves as brothers of one affectionate
and united family. More upon this head will be treated of
incidentally as my narrative proceeds.
The chief care of the supreme magistrate was to communicate
with certain active departments charged with the administration
of special details. The most important and essential of such
details was that connected with the due provision of light. Of
this department my host, Aph-Lin, was the chief. Another
department, which might be called the foreign, communicated
with the neighbouring kindred states, principally for the
purpose of ascertaining all new inventions; and to a third
department all such inventions and improvements in machinery
were committed for trial. Connected with this department was
the College of Sages- a college especially favoured by such of
the Ana as were widowed and childless, and by the young
unmarried females, amongst whom Zee was the most active, and,
if what we call renown or distinction was a thing acknowledged
by this people (which I shall later show it is not), among the
more renowned or distinguished. It is by the female Professors
of this College that those studies which are deemed of least
use in practical life- as purely speculative philosophy, the
history of remote periods, and such sciences as entomology,
conchology, &c.- are the more diligently cultivated. Zee,
whose mind, active as Aristotle's, equally embraced the largest
domains and the minutest details of thought, had written two
volumes on the parasite insect that dwells amid the hairs of a
tiger's* paw, which work was considered the best authority on
that interesting subject.

* The animal here referred to has many points of difference from
the tiger of the upper world. It is larger, and with a broader
paw, and still more receding frontal. It haunts the side of lakes
and pools, and feeds principally on fishes, though it does not
object to any terrestrial animal of inferior strength that comes in
its way. It is becoming very scarce even in the wild districts,
where it is devoured by gigantic reptiles. I apprehended that it
clearly belongs to the tiger species, since the parasite animalcule
found in its paw, like that in the Asiatic tiger, is a miniature
image of itself.

But the researches of the sages are not confined to such subtle
or elegant studies. They comprise various others more
39important, and especially the properties of vril, to the
perception of which their finer nervous organisation renders
the female Professors eminently keen. It is out of this
college that the Tur, or chief magistrate, selects Councillors,
limited to three, in the rare instances in which novelty of
event or circumstance perplexes his own judgment.

There are a few other departments of minor consequence, but all
are carried on so noiselessly, and quietly that the evidence of
a government seems to vanish altogether, and social order to be
as regular and unobtrusive as if it were a law of nature.
Machinery is employed to an inconceivable extent in all the
operations of labour within and without doors, and it is the
unceasing object of the department charged with its
administration to extend its efficiency. There is no class of
labourers or servants, but all who are required to assist or
control the machinery are found in the children, from the time
they leave the care of their mothers to the marriageable age,
which they place at sixteen for the Gy-ei (the females), twenty
for the Ana (the males). These children are formed into bands
and sections under their own chiefs, each following the
pursuits in which he is most pleased, or for which he feels
himself most fitted. Some take to handicrafts, some to
agriculture, some to household work, and some to the only
services of danger to which the population is exposed; for the
sole perils that threaten this tribe are, first, from those
occasional convulsions within the earth, to foresee and guard
against which tasks their utmost ingenuity- irruptions of fire
and water, the storms of subterranean winds and escaping gases.
At the borders of the domain, and at all places where such
peril might be apprehended, vigilant inspectors are stationed
with telegraphic communications to the hall in which chosen
sages take it by turns to hold perpetual sittings. These
inspectors are always selected from the elder boys approaching
the age of puberty, and on the principle that at that age
observation is more acute and the physical forces more alert
than at any other. The second service of danger, less grave,
40is in the destruction of all creatures hostile to the life, or
the culture, or even the comfort, of the Ana. Of these the
most formidable are the vast reptiles, of some of which
antediluvian relics are preserved in our museums, and certain
gigantic winged creatures, half bird, half reptile. These,
together with lesser wild animals, corresponding to our tigers
or venomous serpents, it is left to the younger children to
hunt and destroy; because, according to the Ana, here
ruthlessness is wanted, and the younger the child the more
ruthlessly he will destroy. There is another class of animals
in the destruction of which discrimination is to be used, and
against which children of intermediate age are appointed-
animals that do not threaten the life of man, but ravage the
produce of his labour, varieties of the elk and deer species,
and a smaller creature much akin to our rabbit, though
infinitely more destructive to crops, and much more cunning in
its mode of depredation. It is the first object of these
appointed infants, to tame the more intelligent of such animals
into respect for enclosures signalised by conspicuous
landmarks, as dogs are taught to respect a larder, or even to
guard the master's property. It is only where such creatures
are found untamable to this extent that they are destroyed.
Life is never taken away for food or for sport, and never
spared where untamably inimical to the Ana. Concomitantly with
these bodily services and tasks, the mental education of the
children goes on till boyhood ceases. It is the general custom,
then, to pass though a course of instruction at the College of
Sages, in which, besides more general studies, the pupil receives
special lessons in such vocation or direction of intellect as he
himself selects. Some, however, prefer to pass this period of
probation in travel, or to emigrate, or to settle down at once
into rural or commercial pursuits. No force is put upon
individual inclination.

Chapter X.

The word Ana (pronounced broadly 'Arna') corresponds with our
plural 'men;' An (pronounced 'Arn'), the singular, with 'man.'
The word for woman is Gy (pronounced hard, as in Guy); it forms
itself into Gy-ei for the plural, but the G becomes soft in the
plural like Jy-ei. They have a proverb to the effect that this
difference in pronunciation is symbolical, for that the female
sex is soft in the concrete, but hard to deal with in the
individual. The Gy-ei are in the fullest enjoyment of all the
rights of equality with males, for which certain philosophers
above ground contend.

In childhood they perform the offices of work and labour
impartially with the boys, and, indeed, in the earlier age
appropriated to the destruction of animals irreclaimably
hostile, the girls are frequently preferred, as being by
constitution more ruthless under the influence of fear or hate.
In the interval between infancy and the marriageable age
familiar intercourse between the sexes is suspended. At the
marriageable age it is renewed, never with worse consequences
than those which attend upon marriage. All arts and vocations
allotted to the one sex are open to the other, and the Gy-ei
arrogate to themselves a superiority in all those abstruse and
mystical branches of reasoning, for which they say the Ana are
unfitted by a duller sobriety of understanding, or the routine
of their matter-of-fact occupations, just as young ladies in our
own world constitute themselves authorities in the subtlest
points of theological doctrine, for which few men, actively
engaged in worldly business have sufficient learning or
refinement of intellect. Whether owing to early training in
gymnastic exercises, or to their constitutional organisation,
the Gy-ei are usually superior to the Ana in physical strength
(an important element in the consideration and maintenance of
female rights). They attain to loftier stature, and amid their
42rounder proportions are imbedded sinews and muscles as hardy as
those of the other sex. Indeed they assert that, according to
the original laws of nature, females were intended to be larger
than males, and maintain this dogma by reference to the earliest
formations of life in insects, and in the most ancient family of
the vertebrata- viz., fishes- in both of which the females are
generally large enough to make a meal of their consorts if they
so desire. Above all, the Gy-ei have a readier and more
concentred power over that mysterious fluid or agency which
contains the element of destruction, with a larger portion of
that sagacity which comprehends dissimulation. Thus they cannot
only defend themselves against all aggressions from the males,
but could, at any moment when he least expected his danger,
terminate the existence of an offending spouse. To the credit
of the Gy-ei no instance of their abuse of this awful
superiority in the art of destruction is on record for several
ages. The last that occurred in the community I speak of
appears (according to their chronology) to have been about two
thousand years ago. A Gy, then, in a fit of jealousy, slew her
husband; and this abominable act inspired such terror among the
males that they emigrated in a body and left all the Gy-ei to
themselves. The history runs that the widowed Gy-ei, thus
reduced to despair, fell upon the murderess when in her sleep
(and therefore unarmed), and killed her, and then entered into a
solemn obligation amongst themselves to abrogate forever the
exercise of their extreme conjugal powers, and to inculcate the
same obligation for ever and ever on their female children. By
this conciliatory process, a deputation despatched to the
fugitive consorts succeeded in persuading many to return, but
those who did return were mostly the elder ones. The younger,
either from too craven a doubt of their consorts, or too high an
estimate of their own merits, rejected all overtures, and,
remaining in other communities, were caught up there by other
mates, with whom perhaps they were no better off. But the loss
43of so large a portion of the male youth operated as a salutary
warning on the Gy-ei, and confirmed them in the pious resolution
to which they pledged themselves. Indeed it is now popularly
considered that, by long hereditary disuse, the Gy-ei have lost
both the aggressive and defensive superiority over the Ana which
they once possessed, just as in the inferior animals above the
earth many peculiarities in their original formation, intended
by nature for their protection, gradually fade or become
inoperative when not needed under altered circumstances. I
should be sorry, however, for any An who induced a Gy to make
the experiment whether he or she were the stronger.

>From the incident I have narrated, the Ana date certain
alterations in the marriage customs, tending, perhaps, somewhat
to the advantage of the male. They now bind themselves in
wedlock only for three years; at the end of each third year
either male or female can divorce the other and is free to
marry again. At the end of ten years the An has the privilege

of taking a second wife, allowing the first to retire if she so
please. These regulations are for the most part a dead letter;
divorces and polygamy are extremely rare, and the marriage
state now seems singularly happy and serene among this
astonishing people;- the Gy-ei, notwithstanding their boastful
superiority in physical strength and intellectual abilities,
being much curbed into gentle manners by the dread of
separation or of a second wife, and the Ana being very much the
creatures of custom, and not, except under great aggravation,
likely to exchange for hazardous novelties faces and manners to
which they are reconciled by habit. But there is one privilege
the Gy-ei carefully retain, and the desire for which perhaps
forms the secret motive of most lady asserters of woman rights
above ground. They claim the privilege, here usurped by men,
of proclaiming their love and urging their suit; in other
words, of being the wooing party rather than the wooed. Such a
44phenomenon as an old maid does not exist among the Gy-ei.
Indeed it is very seldom that a Gy does not secure any An upon
whom she sets her heart, if his affections be not strongly
engaged elsewhere. However coy, reluctant, and prudish, the
male she courts may prove at first, yet her perseverance, her
ardour, her persuasive powers, her command over the mystic
agencies of vril, are pretty sure to run down his neck into
what we call "the fatal noose." Their argument for the reversal
of that relationship of the sexes which the blind tyranny of
man has established on the surface of the earth, appears
cogent, and is advanced with a frankness which might well be
commended to impartial consideration. They say, that of the
two the female is by nature of a more loving disposition than
the male- that love occupies a larger space in her thoughts,
and is more essential to her happiness, and that therefore she
ought to be the wooing party; that otherwise the male is a shy
and dubitant creature- that he has often a selfish predilection
for the single state- that he often pretends to misunderstand
tender glances and delicate hints- that, in short, he must be
resolutely pursued and captured. They add, moreover, that
unless the Gy can secure the An of her choice, and one whom she
would not select out of the whole world becomes her mate, she
is not only less happy than she otherwise would be, but she is
not so good a being, that her qualities of heart are not
sufficiently developed; whereas the An is a creature that less
lastingly concentrates his affections on one object; that if he
cannot get the Gy whom he prefers he easily reconciles himself
to another Gy; and, finally, that at the worst, if he is loved
and taken care of, it is less necessary to the welfare of his
existence that he should love as well as be loved; he grows
contented with his creature comforts, and the many occupations
of thought which he creates for himself.

Whatever may be said as to this reasoning, the system works
well for the male; for being thus sure that he is truly and
ardently loved, and that the more coy and reluctant he shows
45himself, the more determination to secure him increases, he
generally contrives to make his consent dependent on such
conditions as he thinks the best calculated to insure, if not a
blissful, at least a peaceful life. Each individual An has his
own hobbies, his own ways, his own predilections, and, whatever
they may be, he demands a promise of full and unrestrained
concession to them. This, in the pursuit of her object, the Gy
readily promises; and as the characteristic of this
extraordinary people is an implicit veneration for truth, and
her word once given is never broken even by the giddiest Gy,
the conditions stipulated for are religiously observed. In
fact, notwithstanding all their abstract rights and powers, the
Gy-ei are the most amiable, conciliatory, and submissive wives
I have ever seen even in the happiest households above ground.
It is an aphorism among them, that "where a Gy loves it is her
pleasure to obey." It will be observed that in the relationship
of the sexes I have spoken only of marriage, for such is the
moral perfection to which this community has attained, that any
illicit connection is as little possible amongst them as it
would be to a couple of linnets during the time they agree to
live in pairs.

Chapter XI.

Nothing had more perplexed me in seeking to reconcile my sense
to the existence of regions extending below the surface of the
earth, and habitable by beings, if dissimilar from, still, in
all material points of organism, akin to those in the upper
world, than the contradiction thus presented to the doctrine in
which, I believe, most geologists and philosophers concur-
viz., that though with us the sun is the great source of heat,
yet the deeper we go beneath the crust of the earth, the
greater is the increasing heat, being, it is said, found in the
46ratio of a degree for every foot, commencing from fifty feet
below the surface. But though the domains of the tribe I speak
of were, on the higher ground, so comparatively near to the
surface, that I could account for a temperature, therein,
suitable to organic life, yet even the ravines and valleys of
that realm were much less hot than philosophers would deem
possible at such a depth- certainly not warmer than the south of
France, or at least of Italy. And according to all the accounts
I received, vast tracts immeasurably deeper beneath the surface,
and in which one might have thought only salamanders could
exist, were inhabited by innumerable races organised like
ourselves, I cannot pretend in any way to account for a fact
which is so at variance with the recognised laws of science, nor
could Zee much help me towards a solution of it. She did but
conjecture that sufficient allowance had not been made by our
philosophers for the extreme porousness of the interior earth-
the vastness of its cavities and irregularities, which served to
create free currents of air and frequent winds- and for the
various modes in which heat is evaporated and thrown off. She
allowed, however, that there was a depth at which the heat was
deemed to be intolerable to such organised life as was known to
the experience of the Vril-ya, though their philosophers
believed that even in such places life of some kind, life
sentient, life intellectual, would be found abundant and
thriving, could the philosophers penetrate to it. "Wherever the
All-Good builds," said she, "there, be sure, He places
inhabitants. He loves not empty dwellings." She added,
however, that many changes in temperature and climate had been
effected by the skill of the Vril-ya, and that the agency of
vril had been successfully employed in such changes. She
described a subtle and life-giving medium called Lai, which I
suspect to be identical with the ethereal oxygen of Dr. Lewins,
wherein work all the correlative forces united under the name of
vril; and contended that wherever this medium could be expanded,
as it were, sufficiently for the various agencies of vril to
47have ample play, a temperature congenial to the highest forms of
life could be secured. She said also, that it was the belief of
their naturalists that flowers and vegetation had been produced
originally (whether developed from seeds borne from the surface
of the earth in the earlier convulsions of nature, or imported
by the tribes that first sought refuge in cavernous hollows)
through the operations of the light constantly brought to bear
on them, and the gradual improvement in culture. She said also,
that since the vril light had superseded all other light-giving
bodies, the colours of flower and foliage had become more
brilliant, and vegetation had acquired larger growth.

Leaving these matters to the consideration of those better
competent to deal with them, I must now devote a few pages to
the very interesting questions connected with the language of
the Vril-ya.

Chapter XII.

The language of the Vril-ya is peculiarly interesting, because
it seems to me to exhibit with great clearness the traces of
the three main transitions through which language passes in
attaining to perfection of form.

One of the most illustrious of recent philologists, Max Muller,
in arguing for the analogy between the strata of language and
the strata of the earth, lays down this absolute dogma: "No
language can, by any possibility, be inflectional without
having passed through the agglutinative and isolating stratum.
No language can be agglutinative without clinging with its
roots to the underlying stratum of isolation."- 'On the
Stratification of Language,' p. 20.

Taking then the Chinese language as the best existing type of
the original isolating stratum, "as the faithful photograph of
man in his leading-strings trying the muscles of his mind,
groping his way, and so delighted with his first successful
48grasps that he repeats them again and again," (Max Muller, p.
13)- we have, in the language of the Vril-ya, still "clinging
with its roots to the underlying stratum," the evidences of the
original isolation. It abounds in monosyllables, which are the
foundations of the language. The transition into the
agglutinative form marks an epoch that must have gradually
extended through ages, the written literature of which has only
survived in a few fragments of symbolical mythology and certain
pithy sentences which have passed into popular proverbs. With
the extant literature of the Vril-ya the inflectional stratum
commences. No doubt at that time there must have operated
concurrent causes, in the fusion of races by some dominant
people, and the rise of some great literary phenomena by which
the form of language became arrested and fixed. As the
inflectional stage prevailed over the agglutinative, it is
surprising to see how much more boldly the original roots of the
language project from the surface that conceals them. In the
old fragments and proverbs of the preceding stage the
monosyllables which compose those roots vanish amidst words of
enormous length, comprehending whole sentences from which no one
part can be disentangled from the other and employed separately.
But when the inflectional form of language became so far
advanced as to have its scholars and grammarians, they seem to
have united in extirpating all such polysynthetical or
polysyllabic monsters, as devouring invaders of the aboriginal
forms. Words beyond three syllables became proscribed as
barbarous and in proportion as the language grew thus simplified
it increased in strength, in dignity, and in sweetness. Though
now very compressed in sound, it gains in clearness by that
compression. By a single letter, according to its position,
they contrive to express all that with civilised nations in our
49upper world it takes the waste, sometimes of syllables,
sometimes of sentences, to express. Let me here cite one or two
instances: An (which I will translate man), Ana (men); the
letter 's' is with them a letter implying multitude, according
to where it is placed; Sana means mankind; Ansa, a multitude of
men. The prefix of certain letters in their alphabet invariably
denotes compound significations. For instance, Gl (which with
them is a single letter, as 'th' is a single letter with the
Greeks) at the commencement of a word infers an assemblage or
union of things, sometimes kindred, sometimes dissimilar- as
Oon, a house; Gloon, a town (i. e., an assemblage of houses).
Ata is sorrow; Glata, a public calamity. Aur-an is the health
or wellbeing of a man; Glauran, the wellbeing of the state, the
good of the community; and a word constantly in ther mouths is
A-glauran, which denotes their political creed- viz., that "the
first principle of a community is the good of all." Aub is
invention; Sila, a tone in music. Glaubsila, as uniting the
ideas of invention and of musical intonation, is the classical
word for poetry- abbreviated, in ordinary conversation, to
Glaubs. Na, which with them is, like Gl, but a single letter,
always, when an initial, implies something antagonistic to life
or joy or comfort, resembling in this the Aryan root Nak,
expressive of perishing or destruction. Nax is darkness; Narl,
death; Naria, sin or evil. Nas- an uttermost condition of sin
and evil- corruption. In writing, they deem it irreverent to
express the Supreme Being by any special name. He is symbolized
by what may be termed the heiroglyphic of a pyramid, /\. In
prayer they address Him by a name which they deem too sacred to
confide to a stranger, and I know it not. In conversation they
generally use a periphrastic epithet, such as the All-Good. The
letter V, symbolical of the inverted pyramid, where it is an
initial, nearly always denotes excellence of power; as Vril, of
which I have said so much; Veed, an immortal spirit; Veed-ya,
immortality; Koom, pronounced like the Welsh Cwm, denotes
50something of hollowness. Koom itself is a cave; Koom-in, a hole;
Zi-koom, a valley; Koom-zi, vacancy or void; Bodh-koom,
ignorance (literally, knowledge-void). Koom-posh is their name
for the government of the many, or the ascendancy of the most
ignorant or hollow. Posh is an almost untranslatable idiom,
implying, as the reader will see later, contempt. The closest
rendering I can give to it is our slang term, "bosh;" and this
Koom-Posh may be loosely rendered "Hollow-Bosh." But when
Democracy or Koom-Posh degenerates from popular ignorance into
that popular passion or ferocity which precedes its decease, as
(to cite illustrations from the upper world) during the French
Reign of Terror, or for the fifty years of the Roman Republic
preceding the ascendancy of Augustus, their name for that state
of things is Glek-Nas. Ek is strife- Glek, the universal strife.
Nas, as I before said, is corruption or rot; thus, Glek-Nas may
be construed, "the universal strife-rot." Their compounds are
very expressive; thus, Bodh being knowledge, and Too a
participle that implies the action of cautiously approaching,-
Too-bodh is their word for Philosophy; Pah is a contemptuous
exclamation analogous to our idiom, "stuff and nonsense;"
Pah-bodh (literally stuff and nonsense-knowledge) is their term
for futile and false philosophy, and applied to a species of
metaphysical or speculative ratiocination formerly in vogue,
which consisted in making inquiries that could not be answered,
and were not worth making; such, for instance, as "Why does an
An have five toes to his feet instead of four or six? Did the
first An, created by the All-Good, have the same number of toes
as his descendants? In the form by which an An will be
recognised by his friends in the future state of being, will he
retain any toes at all, and, if so, will they be material toes
or spiritual toes?" I take these illustrations of Pahbodh, not
in irony or jest, but because the very inquiries I name formed
the subject of controversy by the latest cultivators of that
'science,'- 4000 years ago.
In the declension of nouns I was informed that anciently there
were eight cases (one more than in the Sanskrit Grammar); but
the effect of time has been to reduce these cases, and
multiply, instead of these varying terminations, explanatory
propositions. At present, in the Grammar submitted to my
study, there were four cases to nouns, three having varying
terminations, and the fourth a differing prefix.

Nom. An, Man, | Nom. Ana, Men.
Dat. Ano, to Man, | Dat. Anoi, to Men.
Ac. Anan, Man, | Ac. Ananda, Men.
Voc. Hil-an, O Man, | Voc. Hil-Ananda, O Men.

In the elder inflectional literature the dual form existed- it
has long been obsolete.

The genitive case with them is also obsolete; the dative
supplies its place: they say the House 'to' a Man, instead of
the House 'of' a Man. When used (sometimes in poetry), the
genitive in the termination is the same as the nominative; so
is the ablative, the preposition that marks it being a prefix
or suffix at option, and generally decided by ear, according to
the sound of the noun. It will be observed that the prefix Hil
marks the vocative case. It is always retained in addressing
another, except in the most intimate domestic relations; its
omission would be considered rude: just as in our of forms of
speech in addressing a king it would have been deemed
disrespectful to say "King," and reverential to say "O King."
In fact, as they have no titles of honour, the vocative
adjuration supplies the place of a title, and is given
impartially to all. The prefix Hil enters into the composition
of words that imply distant communications, as Hil-ya, to

In the conjugation of their verbs, which is much too lengthy a
subject to enter on here, the auxiliary verb Ya, "to go," which
plays so considerable part in the Sanskrit, appears and
performs a kindred office, as if it were a radical in some
language from which both had descended. But another auxiliary
52or opposite signification also accompanies it and shares its
labours- viz., Zi, to stay or repose. Thus Ya enters into the
future tense, and Zi in the preterite of all verbs requiring
auxiliaries. Yam, I shall go- Yiam, I may go- Yani-ya, I shall
go (literally, I go to go), Zam-poo-yan, I have gone
(literally, I rest from gone). Ya, as a termination, implies
by analogy, progress, movement, efflorescence. Zi, as a
terminal, denotes fixity, sometimes in a good sense, sometimes
in a bad, according to the word with which it is coupled.
Iva-zi, eternal goodness; Nan-zi, eternal evil. Poo (from)
enters as a prefix to words that denote repugnance, or things
from which we ought to be averse. Poo-pra, disgust; Poo-naria,
falsehood, the vilest kind of evil. Poosh or Posh I have
already confessed to be untranslatable literally. It is an
expression of contempt not unmixed with pity. This radical
seems to have originated from inherent sympathy between the
labial effort and the sentiment that impelled it, Poo being an
utterance in which the breath is exploded from the lips with
more or less vehemence. On the other hand, Z, when an initial,
is with them a sound in which the breath is sucked inward, and
thus Zu, pronounced Zoo (which in their language is one
letter), is the ordinary prefix to words that signify something
that attracts, pleases, touches the heart- as Zummer, lover;
Zutze, love; Zuzulia, delight. This indrawn sound of Z seems
indeed naturally appropriate to fondness. Thus, even in our
language, mothers say to their babies, in defiance of grammar,
"Zoo darling;" and I have heard a learned professor at Boston
call his wife (he had been only married a month) "Zoo little

I cannot quit this subject, however, without observing by what
slight changes in the dialects favoured by different tribes of
the same race, the original signification and beauty of sounds
may become confused and deformed. Zee told me with much
indignation that Zummer (lover) which in the way she uttered
it, seemed slowly taken down to the very depths of her heart,
was, in some not very distant communities of the Vril-ya,
53vitiated into the half-hissing, half-nasal, wholly
disagreeable, sound of Subber. I thought to myself it only
wanted the introduction of 'n' before 'u' to render it into an
English word significant of the last quality an amorous Gy
would desire in her Zummer.

I will but mention another peculiarity in this language which
gives equal force and brevity to its forms of expressions.

A is with them, as with us, the first letter of the alphabet,
and is often used as a prefix word by itself to convey a
complex idea of sovereignty or chiefdom, or presiding
principle. For instance, Iva is goodness; Diva, goodness and
happiness united; A-Diva is unerring and absolute truth. I
have already noticed the value of A in A-glauran, so, in vril
(to whose properties they trace their present state of
civilisation), A-vril, denotes, as I have said, civilisation

The philologist will have seen from the above how much the
language of the Vril-ya is akin to the Aryan or Indo-Germanic;
but, like all languages, it contains words and forms in which
transfers from very opposite sources of speech have been taken.
The very title of Tur, which they give to their supreme
magistrate, indicates theft from a tongue akin to the Turanian.
They say themselves that this is a foreign word borrowed from a
title which their historical records show to have been borne by
the chief of a nation with whom the ancestors of the Vril-ya
were, in very remote periods, on friendly terms, but which has
long become extinct, and they say that when, after the
discovery of vril, they remodelled their political
institutions, they expressly adopted a title taken from an
extinct race and a dead language for that of their chief
magistrate, in order to avoid all titles for that office with
which they had previous associations.

Should life be spared to me, I may collect into systematic form
such knowledge as I acquired of this language during my sojourn
amongst the Vril-ya. But what I have already said will perhaps
suffice to show to genuine philological students that a
54language which, preserving so many of the roots in the
aboriginal form, and clearing from the immediate, but
transitory, polysynthetical stage so many rude incumbrances,
s from popular ignorance into
that popular passion or ferocity which precedes its decease, as
(to cite illustrations from the upper world) during the French
Reign of Terror, or for the fifty years of the Roman Republic
preceding the ascendancy of Augustus, their name for that state
of things is Glek-Nas. Ek is strife- Glek, the universal strife.
Nas, as I before said, is corruption or rot; thus, Glek-Nas may
be construed, "the universal strife-rot." Their compounds are
very expressive; thuat which the Ana have attained
forbids the progressive cultivation of literature, especially
in the two main divisions of fiction and history,- I shall have
occasion to show later.

Chapter XIII.

This people have a religion, and, whatever may be said against
it, at least it has these strange peculiarities: firstly, that
all believe in the creed they profess; secondly, that they all
practice the precepts which the creed inculcates. They unite
in the worship of one divine Creator and Sustainer of the
universe. They believe that it is one of the properties of the
all-permeating agency of vril, to transmit to the well-spring
of life and intelligence every thought that a living creature
can conceive; and though they do not contend that the idea of a
Diety is innate, yet they say that the An (man) is the only
creature, so far as their observation of nature extends, to
whom 'the capacity of conceiving that idea,' with all the
trains of thought which open out from it, is vouchsafed. They
hold that this capacity is a privilege that cannot have been
given in vain, and hence that prayer and thanksgiving are
55acceptable to the divine Creator, and necessary to the complete
development of the human creature. They offer their devotions
both in private and public. Not being considered one of their
species, I was not admitted into the building or temple in
which the public worship is rendered; but I am informed that
the service is exceedingly short, and unattended with any pomp
of ceremony. It is a doctrine with the Vril-ya, that earnest
devotion or complete abstraction from the actual world cannot,
with benefit to itself, be maintained long at a stretch by the
human mind, especially in public, and that all attempts to do
so either lead to fanaticism or to hypocrisy. When they pray
in private, it is when they are alone or with their young

They say that in ancient times there was a great number of
books written upon speculations as to the nature of the Diety,
and upon the forms of belief or worship supposed to be most
agreeable to Him. But these were found to lead to such heated
and angry disputations as not only to shake the peace of the
community and divide families before the most united, but in
the course of discussing the attributes of the Diety, the
existence of the Diety Himself became argued away, or, what was
worse, became invested with the passions and infirmities of the
human disputants. "For," said my host, "since a finite being
like an An cannot possibly define the Infinite, so, when he
endeavours to realise an idea of the Divinity, he only reduces
the Divinity into an An like himself." During the later ages,
therefore, all theological speculations, though not forbidden,
have been so discouraged as to have fallen utterly into disuse.
The Vril-ya unite in a conviction of a future state, more
felicitous and more perfect than the present. If they have
very vague notions of the doctrine of rewards and punishments,
it is perhaps because they have no systems of rewards and
punishments among themselves, for there are no crimes to
punish, and their moral standard is so even that no An among
56them is, upon the whole, considered more virtuous than another.
If one excels, perhaps in one virtue, another equally excels in
some other virtue; If one has his prevalent fault or infirmity,
so also another has his. In fact, in their extraordinary mode
of life. there are so few temptations to wrong, that they are
good (according to their notions of goodness) merely because
they live. They have some fanciful notions upon the
continuance of life, when once bestowed, even in the vegetable
world, as the reader will see in the next chapter.

Chapter XIV.

Though, as I have said, the Vril-ya discourage all speculations
on the nature of the Supreme Being, they appear to concur in a
belief by which they think to solve that great problem of the
existence of evil which has so perplexed the philosophy of the
upper world. They hold that wherever He has once given life,
with the perceptions of that life, however faint it be, as in a
plant, the life is never destroyed; it passes into new and
improved forms, though not in this planet (differing therein
from the ordinary doctrine of metempsychosis), and that the
living thing retains the sense of identity, so that it connects
its past life with its future, and is 'conscious' of its
progressive improvement in the scale of joy. For they say
that, without this assumption, they cannot, according to the
lights of human reason vouchsafed to them, discover the perfect
justice which must be a constituent quality of the All-Wise and
the All-Good. Injustice, they say, can only emanate from three
causes: want of wisdom to perceive what is just, want of
benevolence to desire, want of power to fulfill it; and that
each of these three wants is incompatible in the All-Wise, the
57All-Good, the All-Powerful. But that, while even in this life,
the wisdom, the benevolence, and the power of the Supreme Being
are sufficiently apparent to compel our recognition, the
justice necessarily resulting from those attributes, absolutely
requires another life, not for man only, but for every living
thing of the inferior orders. That, alike in the animal and
the vegetable world, we see one individual rendered, by
circumstances beyond its control, exceedingly wretched compared
to its neighbours- one only exists as the prey of another- even
a plant suffers from disease till it perishes prematurely,
while the plant next to it rejoices in its vitality and lives
out its happy life free from a pang. That it is an erroneous
analogy from human infirmities to reply by saying that the
Supreme Being only acts by general laws, thereby making his own
secondary causes so potent as to mar the essential kindness of
the First Cause; and a still meaner and more ignorant
conception of the All-Good, to dismiss with a brief contempt
all consideration of justice for the myriad forms into which He
has infused life, and assume that justice is only due to the
single product of the An. There is no small and no great in
the eyes of the divine Life-Giver. But once grant that
nothing, however humble, which feels that it lives and suffers,
can perish through the series of ages, that all its suffering
here, if continuous from the moment of its birth to that of its
transfer to another form of being, would be more brief compared
with eternity than the cry of the new-born is compared to the
whole life of a man; and once suppose that this living thing
retains its sense of identity when so transformed (for without
that sense it could be aware of no future being), and though,
indeed, the fulfilment of divine justice is removed from the
scope of our ken, yet we have a right to assume it to be
uniform and universal, and not varying and partial, as it would
be if acting only upon general and secondary laws; because such
perfect justice flows of necessity from perfectness of
knowledge to conceive, perfectness of love to will, and
perfectness of power to complete it.
However fantastic this belief of the Vril-ya may be, it tends
perhaps to confirm politically the systems of government which,
admitting different degrees of wealth, yet establishes perfect
equality in rank, exquisite mildness in all relations and
intercourse, and tenderness to all created things which the good
of the community does not require them to destroy. And though
their notion of compensation to a tortured insect or a cankered
flower may seem to some of us a very wild crotchet, yet, at
least, is not a mischievous one; and it may furnish matter for
no unpleasing reflection to think that within the abysses of
earth, never lit by a ray from the material heavens, there
should have penetrated so luminous a conviction of the ineffable
goodness of the Creator- so fixed an idea that the general laws
by which He acts cannot admit of any partial injustice or evil,
and therefore cannot be comprehended without reference to their
action over all space and throughout all time. And since, as I
shall have occasion to observe later, the intellectual
conditions and social systems of this subterranean race comprise
and harmonise great, and apparently antagonistic, varieties in
philosophical doctrine and speculation which have from time to
time been started, discussed, dismissed, and have re-appeared
amongst thinkers or dreamers in the upper world,- so I may
perhaps appropriately conclude this reference to the belief of
the Vril-ya, that self-conscious or sentient life once given is
indestructible among inferior creatures as well as in man, by an
eloquent passage from the work of that eminent zoologist, Louis
Agassiz, which I have only just met with, many years after I had
committed to paper these recollections of the life of the
Vril-ya which I now reduce into something like arrangement and
form: "The relations which individual animals bear to one
another are of such a character that they ought long ago to have
been considered as sufficient proof that no organised being
could ever have been called into existence by other agency than
59by the direct intervention of a reflective mind. This argues
strongly in favour of the existence in every animal of an
immaterial principle similar to that which by its excellence and
superior endowments places man so much above the animals; yet
the principle unquestionably exists, and whether it be called
sense, reason, or instinct, it presents in the whole range of
organised beings a series of phenomena closely linked together,
and upon it are based not only the higher manifestations of the
mind, but the very permanence of the specific differences which
characterise every organism. Most of the arguments in favour of
the immortality of man apply equally to the permanency of this
principle in other living beings. May I not add that a future
life in which man would be deprived of that great source of
enjoyment and intellectual and moral improvement which results
from the contemplation of the harmonies of an organic world
would involve a lamentable loss? And may we not look to a
spiritual concert of the combined worlds and ALL their
inhabitants in the presence of their Creator as the highest
conception of paradise?"- 'Essay on Classification,' sect.
xvii. p. 97-99.

Chapter XV.

Kind to me as I found all in this household, the young daughter
of my host was the most considerate and thoughtful in her
kindness. At her suggestion I laid aside the habiliments in
which I had descended from the upper earth, and adopted the
dress of the Vril-ya, with the exception of the artful wings
which served them, when on foot, as a graceful mantle. But as
many of the Vril-ya, when occupied in urban pursuits, did not
wear these wings, this exception created no marked difference
between myself and the race among whom I sojourned, and I was
thus enabled to visit the town without exciting unpleasant
60curiosity. Out of the household no one suspected that I had
come from the upper world, and I was but regarded as one of
some inferior and barbarous tribe whom Aph-Lin entertained as a

The city was large in proportion to the territory round it,
which was of no greater extent than many an English or
Hungarian nobleman's estate; but the whole if it, to the verge

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