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it. There were now no more sounds of awakening industry; no harvesters in the field; no busy clatter of engines in the factories; no clamor of ponderous machinery along the river sbore.
The morning brought sad confirmation of my fears. Expresses reported the same phenomenon every where — every where the same terrorIn the third morning edition of the Aërial Telegraph I read the following:
‘DURING the night, we received such special dispatches from nearly every quarter of the globe as leave us in no farther doubt of the nature of the calamity impending over us. Yesterday, the same startling appearances were observed at Lima, at San Francisco, and Astoria ; and by a dispatch over the Bhering Straits and Asiatic Line we obtain similar reports from London, and the principal European cities, as well as from Pekin, Singapore, Bagdad, Timbuctoo, and Cape Town. In this city, the streets are narrowing steadily; every thing is shrinking. The College' is utterly confounded, and the people, despairing of aid from it, have grown wild in robbery, debauchery, and recklessness of life.
“We are requested to state, in behalf of the committee for celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the battle of Louisville, where the armies of the Union achieved such a splendid victory over the Disunionists, that the celebration will not take place to-morrow, as arranged, but is postponed indefinitely.'
In our own village the scene was now pitiful. The process of condensation had gone on rapidly during the night, and the change was now striking. All business and occupation were dead for ever. Men stood listlessly in their door-ways, or wandered distractedly up and down the streets, or, collecting in little groups on the corners, conversed in trembling whispers. Little children left their hoops and marbles on the pavement, stole silently to their mothers' side, and in their baggard faces learned to dread the unknown calamity.
But why need I detail all the horror, the sleepless nights and hopeless days of the approaching ruin? Gradually and slowly, but surely, day by day, the fields and streams narrowed and shrank, the houses neared each other, crushed together, and fell hugging the hardening earth. On the thirtieth day, the river that ran by the village had become a mere thread, the farms had shrunken fearfully, the streets were narrow paths, and the houses were fast sinking into the ground. Then, too, began to be shadowed the most fearful, the last act in the drama of annihilation. Every one but myself had complained for days of an increasing weariness, an inability to move freely or lift their feet from the ground, of a pressure that was crushing them, of a power that was irresistibly sucking them toward the centre of the earth. These sensations were known to me only by observation. I did not understand them, and I do not now know why the human race was not crushed and buried in the first instant; why they were left in such lingering agony. I thought it a miracle then, and do now.
Day by day, hour by hour, I watched the destruction of my
Soon men could no longer move; the weakest could not support themselves upright; then the strongest sank powerless ; till, finally, all were held bound immovable to the earth. I have reason to believe that most were unconscious of this terrible death, for a merciful Providence had taken away the light of reason, and the world for days had been a world of maniacs. Yet, to see the poor idiots turn smiling faces up to the sun and stars, and with insane laughter make merry with dissolution, was appalling!
Sick and stricken, as with infinite terror, I fled from the village and the haunts of men-alas! of men no more. All sensation of hunger and thirst, and indeed every feeling but that of utter desolation, had left me, and I wandered on blindly and madly, any where - any where from the sight of human anguish. For the first time, I noticed that the days and nights were growing shorter, but this did not impress me so much then as it did afterward. Still I wandered on and on, until at length I stood upon a broad, barren prairie; here, at least, I should escape the awful spectacle of sinking dwellings and crushed men.
From this period I can give no account of time: day and night were alike to me. "I think I must have swooned and slept for days, and perbaps months. Yet I knew all the while that the earth was continually condensing; that the days grew shorter and shorter. When full consciousness returned, the prairie had shrunk to the size of a mere grassplot. Leaving that, I wandered to the north-east, in the neighborhood of the Great Lakes. I found only diminutive ponds. The mighty cataract of Niagara, which I had thought would endure for ever, was no longer visible; and in vain I searched for any trace of those great northern metropolises, Detroit, Chicago, and Sault Sainte Marie. Every where was the desolation of death. The vast northern forests had vanished, and which ever way I turned my footsteps, I met the same chilling silence. Home or shelter there was none on all the dreary earth; it mattered little whether I laid down on Arctic snows, or in the fervid tropics sought in vain the cool refreshment of spice-bearing forests that overgrow so rankly there. Listless, and almost emotionless, I roamed like a vagabond, denied every thing but life. How often I wished I had slept in a quiet grave on the banks of the Hudson, long ago, when the mounds were green
there! At one time I stood on the shore of the Atlantic. Its surface was waveless — smooth as polished marble. Thinking to bathe my aching limbs, I stepped forward; but it yielded not to my feet; it was firm, solid as adamant. Walking out upon it, I looked down, down into its crystal depths. The rays of the sun, gliding into its bosom, returned to my eye in all the hues of the rainbow, and all the mighty ocean sparkled and glittered like a huge diamond; while below me, in infinite number and form, the tribes of fish and sea-monsters lay motionless and still as if bound in iron.
Again, straying southward, I stood beside Chimborazo. It had shrunk to a little hillock. And sitting down on its peak, I looked along the range of the Andes, now mere dots on the earth's surface, and off over the calm Pacific. All its coral islands, that sat' very glorious in the midst of the sea,' vocal with song of tropical birds, stirring with busy traffic, and swarming with traders
from the ends of the earth, had long ago been engulfed. All the ships that used to skim its surface, laden with wealth and the products of man's industry, and all the men who manned them, where were they?
Keeping still southward, along what was once the range of the Andes, I reached the southern extremity of the Western Continent. The Patagonian bluffs had disappeared ; Terra del Fuego had sunk its frowning rocks; and the once terrible sea, where so many stout ships had foundered in the vexed waves, was now as calm as a summer lake. With a vague consciousness of the silent shrinking and condensing of the earth, of the continual shortening of the days, a listless retracing of my steps northward, and I stood once more on the North American shore of the Atlantic
The ocean had dwindled to the width of a ferry, and before me, almost within a stone's throw, lay England and the European land. Going forward upon the glassy sea, with no need now of chart or compass, I reached the Old World. (I have forgotten to mention before the condensation of the atmosphere, which circumstance had for some time impeded my progress; and now it was with difficulty that I could push my way through it. The sensation was something like that of walking against a stormy wind. The effort of breathing so condensed a gas was quite evident upon my respiratory organs also.) I was in England. But where were London and the vast cities of the Thames? I was in Austria. Where was 'cannon-girt Vienna?' I was in Russia. Where were the gorgeous cities of the Cossack Empire? Farther eastward, I reached what were once the wide plains of Bactriana, near which I knew had been the Garden of Eden. Here had been the cradle of the human race. Here, I exclaimed, “it is fit that the Last Man should find his grave.' My journeying on earth was ended. I wandered no more; but there, in dogged indifference, awaited my fate. At this period, another phenomenon, which I have not alluded to, began to grow upon my perception. I refer to the rotation of the earth on its axis. I had been slightly sensible of this for some days, but now it seemed to increase in an accelerated ratio. The sun did not now rise majestically as usual, but shot quickly
in the east, hurried its flight across the heavens, and plunged into the west; it was so with the planets and stars.
I have said I was in a state of dogged indifference. This is only partially true. At times I was wrapped in most blessed visions, from which I awoke to keenest agony; and again I fell into a deep insensibility. Now there was charming music in the air; strains sweet as ever Eden heard. Anon, it was full of faces ; beautiful faces; known and remembered faces of those I had loved and cherished. How they smile on me! how they pity me with their gentle eyes! And there are the grave, immortal faces of the great of all ages, sad as we see them in pictures. How the wonderful gathering increases ! It stretches away illimitably; the whole sky is filled. Hands beckon me: I hear voices. Yet the crowd increases ; they press upon me; they jostle me. I start up! There is only the dull sky and the hard earth, shrinking, shrinking !
Or, I dream of green fields, and trees in full leaf, and cool streams flowing by pleasant banks, and the blue sky over all. I am ill; ill at home. The room is shaded, that the light shall not disturb me. I hear light footsteps on the carpeted floor. A form bends over me, and a face that I passionately loved in boyhood, that I learned to regard with
a truer and deeper affection when manhood came. She bends still lower to part away the hair from my feverish forehead, and a soft curl touches my cheek. How the vision maddens me when I awake! Awake to what?
The earth had diminished to a very small compass. The sun did not now rise and set, but was fixed overhead; and the fact was past doubt that the earth was whirling on its axis with increased rapidity, and I with it, round and round, describing a circle continually lessening. From this time, recollection is confused. I remember that the rotation of the earth was accelerated every hour, every moment. In my rapid whirling, the sun seemed no longer a globe, but a band of flame, encircling the sky, and the stars slender threads of parallel light. The centrifugal form was evidently, in relation to myself, overcoming the centripetal ; my hold on the earth was loosened, and the next instant I was hurled — shot like a rocket — afar into space. With what a delicious, delirious sensation I sank down, down; or rather, to drop the word down as not applicable to space, I floated onward. I was free! The untamed Tartar was not more so. The gray eagle never knew so bold and daring a flight. My spirits rose in unbounded exhilaration, as if I had tasted the elixir of life. The heaviness of earthy clods was no longer about my feet, but I moved in the pure ether like a spirit.
The novelty of my situation for a time wrapped me in astonishment : alone, unsupported, floating out in that vague, indefinable space I had longed all my life to fathom. I had become as one of the nightly host that used to look down so pityingly on me when on the earth ; a brother to the stars ! To my unobstructed sight, the vast multitude of worlds were visible — around, near me, or glimmering in the far, soundless depths. Looking back, I could not distinguish the earth ; but the wild moon yet wandered, widowed, through the heavens. For a time my course seemed in a straight line, and I moved very swiftly. But at length I felt other influences at work upon me. My speed was considerably diminished. I was drawn hither and thither, turned this way and that, I suppose by the conflicting attractions of the sun and stars. Soon these influences also ceased, or rather became harmonized, and I moved on steadily and rapidly. This motion has never changed. From my limited knowledge of astronomy and the position of the heavenly bodies, (quorum pars magna sum,) I think I am in what we used to call our system, moving in a vast circle round the sun. I consider my situation a desirable one, unless I should enter a complaint on account of the extreme scarcity of provisions. But men are mere creatures of babit. I have become a planet. I don't know but I am as contented to be a planet as to be shut out from the light of day, and the sight of God's fields and stars, by grates of iron and stony-hearted keepers.
Here the manuscript ends, or rather runs into insane ravings about freedom, and the bliss of the planetary state. Then follow interjections, dashes, blots, and mere disjointed insane sentences, which the present editor can in no wise decipher: nor does he care to.