Imágenes de páginas

genius could not invent or even dream of are revealed. A drop of putrid water under the microscope becomes a lake full of terrifying monsters large enough to destroy man. Heard through the microphone the sap ascending a tree becomes loud as a torrent. Seen through a telescope nebulous spots in the sky become clusters of constellations. Divested of its second skin the nerve becomes sensitive to influences too rare and fine for the perception of the optic nerve in a more protected state. Beings that bear no relation whatever to weight or the law of impenetrability, float about and flash hither and thither swifter than lightning. The air and other ponderable matter are nothing to them. They are no more than the shadows or reflections of action, the imperishable progeny of thought. Here lies disclosed to the partly emancipated nerve the Canton of the painter's vision. Here the city he made to himself is as firm and sturdy and solid and full of life as the Canton of this day on the southern coast of China. Here throng the unrecorded visions of all the poets. Here are the counterfeits of all

the dead in all their phases. Here float the dreams of men, the unbroken scrolls of life and action and thought complete of all beings, man and beast, that have lived since time began. In the world of matter nothing is lost; in the world of spirit nothing is lost either.

If instead of taking the whole of this imaginary skin off the optic nerve, we simply injure it ever so slightly, the nerve may become alive to some of these spirits ; and this premature perception of what is around all of us, but perceived by few, we call seeing ghosts. It may be objected that all space is not vast enough to afford room for such a stupendous panorama. When we begin to talk of limits of space to anything beyond our knowledge and the touch of our inch-tape, we talk like fools. There is no good in allotting space with a two-foot rule. It is all the same whether we divide zero into infinity or infinity

The answer is the same; “I don't know how many times it goes.” Take a cubic inch of air outside your window and see the things packed into it. Here interblent we find all together resistance and light and sound and

into zero.

odour and flavour. We must stop there, for we have got to the end, not of what is packed into that cubic inch of air, but to the end of the things in it revealed to our senses. If we had five more senses we should find five more qualities; if we had five thousand senses, five thousand qualities. But even if we had only our own senses in higher form we should see ghosts.

If the third skin were removed from the optic nerve all things we now call opaque would become transparent, owing to the naked nerve being sensitive to the latent light in every body. The whole round world would become a crystal ball, the different degrees of what we now call opacity being indicated merely by a faint chromatic modification. now regard as brilliant sunlight would then be dense shadow. Apocalyptic ranges of colour would be disclosed, beginning with what is in our present condition the least faint trace of tint and ascending through a thousand grades to white, white brighter far than the sun our present eyes blink upon. Burnished

What we

brass flaming in our present sun would then be the beginning of the chromatic scale descending in the shadow of yellow, burnished copper of red, burnished tin of black, burnished steel of blue. So intense then would the sensibility of the optic nerve become that the satellites attendant on the planets in the system of the suns, called fixed stars, would blaze brighter than our own moon reflected in the sea. To the eye matter would cease to be matter in its present, gross obstructive sense. It would be no more than a delicate transparent pigment in the wash of a water-colour artist. The gross rotundity of the earth would be, in the field of the human eye, a variegated transparent globe of reduced luminousness and enormous scales and chords of colour. The Milky Way would then be a concave measureless ocean of prismatic light with pendulous opaline spheres.

The figures of dreams and ghosts may be as real as we are pleased to consider ourselves. What

arrogance of us to say they are our own creation! They may look upon themselves as superior to us, as we look upon ourselves as superior to the jelly-fish. No doubt we are to ghosts the baser order, the spirits stained with the woad of earth, low creatures who give much heed to heat and cold, and food and motion. They are the sky-children, the chosen people. They are nothing but circumscribed will wedded to incorporeal reasons of the nobler kind, and with scopes the contemplation of which would split our tenement of clay. They are the arch-angelic hierarchs of man, the ultimate condition of the race, the spirit of this planet distilled by the sun.


« AnteriorContinuar »