Sunday, 4 November 2012

Celestial Glimpse

What an Alien observer would think of 19th Century Planet Earth – ‘A Celestial Glimpse of Us’ – 1891
by Sandra Rimmer

Reported in the Manchester Times, 6 November 1891

    Imagine Earth had a “recurring celestial visitant…, winged with the light, sent on mighty errands to the outermost regions of space, what visions would meet that flight as it passed our planet at its various stages of development!
    The grey weltering mass of vapour and water and cloud of the early epochs; the morass, the forest, the wallowing monsters of following ones; the upheavals and detonations and volcanic bursts and floods and slow erosions; the emergence of green lands and silver rivers, and the birth of flowers; the ripening of fruit upon the bough, and the appearance of upright beings, being scarcely removed from the brutes at first, homeless, or haunting the edge of the forest, then the cave dwellers, and, on some other journey, seen to be at last the builders of houses and shelters.  This celestial visitant would have seen a world in the process of making, refining, purifying constantly in the lapse of ages, adapting itself to the requirements of a race to be born upon it.  “And to what purpose?” he might ask, when he comes again, even today.
    Had he seen a planet cast forth from the sun, cooled, ploughed with convulsions, sowed with seed, beautified with plants and blooms, glorified with clouds and sunshine – had he seen all this mighty work go on through countless aeons of years, the orb sweeping along though prodigious bounds of space, simply that an order of beings might possess it for the sake of preying on each other, degrading and destroying multitudes as they attain every new end?  Tiny beings, as compared with the bulk of the planet, unable to interfere with its cosmical force, yet otherwise seeming to possess it and reduce it, if only as the earthworm possesses and reduces the earth with his casts; here he swarms in squalor, in suffering and filth, unlovely to the sight as the swarm of creatures one turns up under a stone; and there in glittering show he swarms again across imaginary lines of boundary, with mimic flash and thunder, and slaughters his fellows, and maims and rides over them, and blows them to pieces, at the command of the few who sit in high places and gather that which results.
    “Was it for his end that all that tremendous work of making and moulding the star went on?” the celestial visitant well might ask.  Perhaps it would not be amiss if we also asked the same question.  And it may be that as the influence of the feminine mind and heart is more and more felt, as women come to the front with softening and refining force, war – at any rate, cruel and unnecessary war – will be wiped away from the face of the earth.  And if poverty still exists, the celestial visitant, coming again, may see all the wealth and strength and thought that went to the making of armies and to the ruin of peoples, go then to help the wretched, ameliorating, alleviating, and uplifting the race.”
 Source:  abroadintheyard