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College of Scientific Men' has convened in all haste to investigate and devise a remedy. They have brought to light the almost forgotten theory of philosophers, that the earth is so porous that if adequate pressure were applied, it could be condensed into the space of A SQUARE FOOT!' In spite of their assumed composure, it is evident they are perplexed and terrified. The people are awaiting the result of their investigations with an impa tience amounting almost to madness. Further particulars at five o'clock.
P. S. This announcement has crowded out our editorial on the civil war in Patagonia. We merely state that Gen. AugHFULTOP, the leader of the republican forces, has completely routed the insurgents in a pitched battle.'
As I read, the words seemed to burn into my brain. I saw it all. In the omnipotence of God, the 'adequate pressure' was being applied, and the world was doomed; its beautiful fields, busy cities, restless oceans, and millions of men, all fated to perish! Stupefied, and terrified almost to insanity, I ran through the streets to my own dwelling, and ascended the observatory Family, friends, almost life itself, were forgotten, in the all-pressing thought of ruin. Darkness came, and hour after hour I sat listless and inattentive; only always was the horrid truth burning my brain, the inarticulate murmurs of despair from the village beneath me filling my ears; but above, the silent, pure stars rode on, as peerless and tranquil as when first they sang together. The many pleasure-balloons had sunk to the earth, as the event proved, never more to rise in airy flight.
So I sat there, enveloped in gloom; only startled from my reverie when the air-couriers bringing the mail from the city bourly drove along, marking their course by the rockets which from time to time they sent blazing into the night, announcing their arrival to some village or hamlet, when they dropped its quota of mail, and then went, like winged, firebreathing steeds, wbizzing on their way. Many a night before I had watched them, seeming to trace their paths among the stars, as quickwinged, fire-heralded messengers of science; but to-night, as hourly they sent up their flaming signals, flying over town, lake, lowland and mountain, gleaming and irradiating the darkness, till their light was mingled with the northern stars, I could only look upon them as flying fiends, avant-couriers of doom, confirming woe and ruin. What announcements they brought I cared not to know. Every thing, alas ! was too clear to me already — the earth and all its inhabitants were to be crushed, compressed to annihilation. And to add to my terror, the thought was ever present with me that I alone, of all men, should live. By some mysterious power, I should be exempt - should see the earth grow smaller and still less — should stand the last of men upon the last of earth. So wore away the dismal night.
Morning broke with unusual magnificence. As the sun mounted the orient, and threw his first beams upon the vast map of cultivated country within my view, upon the many villages, upon the homes of wealth and luxury, and for many miles upon the winding river, and spires, domes, and monuments, and the calm water grew radiant and golden in the reflected light, I thought I had never beheld a sight so glorious. But the pomp and splendor of the sun, moving upward with such calm strength — a symbol of eternal endurance -- seemed to me a terrible mockery of the boastful earth, now shrinking into nothingness. And how changed the landscape! True, it lay in all its accustomed loveliDess; but it was the beauty of a dream. The hush of desolation was on
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 shore.
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:
*THE WORLD DOOMED!! * 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 boops 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 pow. Day by day, hour by hour, I watched the destruction of my race. 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 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.
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 perhaps 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 catáract 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?