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"The To-Morrow Of Death"
by [?]

In spite of their exalted position, the ether-folk do not disdain to mingle with the affairs of terrestrial mortals. They give us counsel in dreams, and it is from this source, we presume, that our author has derived his rigid notions as to scientific method. In evidence of this dream-theory we have the usual array of cases, “a celebrated journalist, M. R—-,” “M. L—-, a lawyer,” etc., etc., as in most books of this kind.

M. Figuier is not a Darwinian: the derivation of our bodies from the bodies of apes is a conception too grossly materialistic for him. Our souls, however, he is quite willing to derive from the souls of lower animals. Obviously we have pre-existed; how are we to account for Mozart’s precocity save by supposing his pre-existence? He brought with him the musical skill acquired in a previous life. In general, the souls of musical children come from nightingales, while the souls of great architects have passed into them from beavers (p. 247). We do not remember these past existences, it is true; but when we become ether-folk, we shall be able to look back in recollection over the whole series.

Amid these sublime inquiries, M. Figuier is sometimes notably oblivious of humbler truths, as might indeed be expected. Thus he repeatedly alludes to Locke as the author of the doctrine of innate ideas (!!), [2] and he informs us that Kepler never quitted Protestant England (p. 336), though we believe that the nearest Kepler ever came to living in England was the refusing of Sir Henry Wotton’s request that he should move thither.

[Footnote 2:
Pages 251, 252, 287. So in the twenty-first century some avatar of M. Figuier will perhaps describe the late professor Agassiz as the author of the Darwinian theory.]

And lastly, we are treated to a real dialogue, with quite a dramatic mise en scene. The author’s imaginary friend, Theophilus, enters, “seats himself in a comfortable chair, places an ottoman under his feet, a book under his elbow to support it, and a cigarette of Turkish tobacco between his lips, and sets himself to the task of listening with a grave air of collectedness, relieved by a certain touch of suspicious severity, as becomes the arbiter in a literary and philosophic matter.” “And so,” begins our author, “you wish to know, my dear Theophilus, WHERE I LOCATE GOD? I locate him in the centre of the universe, or, in better phrase, at the central focus, which must exist somewhere, of all the stars that make the universe, and which, borne onward in a common movement, gravitate together around this focus.”

Much more, of an equally scientific character, follows; but in fairness to the reader, who is already blaming us for wasting the precious moments over such sorry trash, we may as well conclude our sketch of this new line of speculation.

May, 1872.