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Fort, Charles - The Book of the Damned - Falls of fish and frogs



Type of Spiritual Experience


Long but fascinating.  I have put a link to apporting, not because I think it is necessarily the solution, but because it is connected to this phenomenon.

There is one extremely important extra piece of evidence I found which needs to accompany this observation from Lyall Watson. Bell Telephone Laboratories did a computer study of the occurences that Charles Fort had collected and found that when the cycles were plotted against cosmic events they seemed to correspond to interactions of solar and lunar influence - solar flares for example - producing unusually large fluctuations in the earth's magnetic field and placing additional stress on the telluric hot spots - and that the places mentionned often were telluric hot spots

A description of the experience

THE BOOK OF THE DAMNED by Charles Fort –
[A procession of the damned.  By the damned, I mean the excluded.  We shall have a procession of data that Science has excluded.  ]

The living things that have come down to this earth:

Attempts to preserve the system:

That small frogs and toads, for instance, never have fallen from the sky, but were--"on the ground, in the first place"; or that there have been such falls--"up from one place in a whirlwind, and down in another."

Were there some especially froggy place near Europe, as there is an especially sandy place, the scientific explanation would of course be that all small frogs falling from the sky in Europe come from that center of frogeity.

To start with, I'd like to emphasize something that I am permitted to see because I am still primitive or intelligent or in a state of maladjustment:

That there is not one report findable of a fall of tadpoles from the sky.

As to "there in the first place":

See _Leisure Hours_, 3-779, for accounts of small frogs, or toads, said to have been seen to fall from the sky. The writer says that all observers were mistaken: that the frogs or toads must have fallen from trees or other places overhead.

Tremendous number of little toads, one or two months old, that were seen to fall from a great thick cloud that appeared suddenly in a sky that had been cloudless, August, 1804, near Toulouse, France, according to a letter from Prof. Pontus to M. Arago. (_Comptes Rendus_, 3-54.)

Many instances of frogs that were seen to fall from the sky. (_Notes and Queries_, 8-6-104); accounts of such falls, signed by witnesses. (_Notes and Queries_, 8-6-190.)

Scientific American_, July 12, 1873:

"A shower of frogs which darkened the air and covered the ground for a long distance is the reported result of a recent rainstorm at Kansas City, Mo."

As to having been there "in the first place":

Little frogs found in London, after a heavy storm, July 30, 1838. (Notes and Queries, 8-7-437);

Little toads found in a desert, after a rainfall (Notes and Queries, 8-8-493).

To start with I do not deny--positively--the conventional explanation of "up and down." I think that there may have been such occurrences. I omit many notes that I have upon indistinguishables. In the London Times, July 4, 1883, there is an account of a shower of twigs and leaves and tiny toads in a storm upon the slopes of the Apennines. These may have been the ejectamenta of a whirlwind. I add, however, that I have notes upon two other falls of tiny toads, in 1883, one in France and one in Tahiti; also of fish in Scotland. But in the phenomenon of the Apennines, the mixture seems to me to be typical of the products of a whirlwind. The other instances seem to me to be typical of—something like migration? Their great numbers and their homogeneity. Over and over in these annals of the damned occurs the datum of segregation. But a whirlwind is thought of as a condition of chaos--quasi-chaos: not final negativeness, of course-

Monthly Weather Review, July, 1881:

"A small pond in the track of the cloud was sucked dry, the water being carried over the adjoining fields together with a large quantity of soft mud, which was scattered over the ground for half a mile around."

It is so easy to say that small frogs that have fallen from the sky had been scooped up by a whirlwind; but here are the circumstances of a scoop; in the exclusionist-imagination there is no regard for mud, débris from the bottom of a pond, floating vegetation, loose things from the shores--but a precise picking out of frogs only. Of all instances I have that attribute the fall of small frogs or toads to whirlwinds, only one definitely identifies or places the whirlwind. Also, as has been said before, a pond going up would be quite as interesting as frogs coming down. Whirlwinds we read of over and over--but where and what whirlwind? It seems to me that anybody who had lost a pond would be heard from. In Symons' Meteorological Magazine, 32-106, a fall of small frogs, near Birmingham, England, June 30, 1892, is attributed to a specific whirlwind--but not a word as to any special pond that had contributed. And something that strikes my attention here is that these frogs are described as almost white.

I'm afraid there is no escape for us: we shall have to give to civilization upon this earth--some new worlds.

Places with white frogs in them.

Upon several occasions we have had data of unknown things that have fallen from--somewhere. But something not to be overlooked is that if living things have landed alive upon this earth--in spite of all we think we know of the accelerative velocity of falling bodies--and have propagated--why the exotic becomes the indigenous, or from the strangest of places we'd expect the familiar. Or if hosts of living frogs have come here--from somewhere else--every living thing upon this earth may, ancestrally, have come from--somewhere else.

I find that I have another note upon a specific hurricane:

Annals and Mag. of Nat. Hist., 1-3-185:

After one of the greatest hurricanes in the history of Ireland, some fish were found "as far as 15 yards from the edge of a lake."

Have another: this is a good one for the exclusionists:

Fall of fish in Paris: said that a neighboring pond had been blown dry.  (Living Age, 52-186.) Date not given, but I have seen it recorded somewhere else.

L'Astronomie, 1889-353:  Fall of fishes, June 13, 1889, in Holland; ants, Aug. 1, 1889, Strasbourg; little toads, Aug. 2, 1889, Savoy.

The best-known fall of fishes from the sky is that which occurred at Mountain Ash, in the Valley of Abedare, Glamorganshire, Feb. 11, 1859.

Cosmos, 13-120,
quotes a Virginia newspaper, that fishes said to have been catfishes, a foot long, some of them, had fallen, in 1853, at Norfolk, Virginia, with hail.

The Editor of the Zoologist, 2-677, having published a report of a fall of fishes, writes: "I am continually receiving similar accounts of frogs and fishes." But, in all the volumes of the Zoologist, I can find only two reports of such falls. There is nothing to conclude other than that hosts of data have been lost because orthodoxy does not look favourably upon such reports. The Monthly Weather Review records several falls of fishes in the United States; but accounts of these reported occurrences are not findable in other American publications.

Nevertheless, the treatment by the Zoologist of the fall reported from Mountain Ash is fair. First appears, in the issue of 1859-6493, a letter from the Rev. John Griffith, Vicar of Abedare, asserting that the fall had occurred, chiefly upon the property of Mr. Nixon, of Mountain Ash.

Upon page 6540, Dr. Gray, of the British Museum, bristling with exclusionism, writes that some of these fishes, which had been sent to him alive, were "very young minnows." He says: "On reading the evidence, it seems to me most probably only a practical joke: that one of Mr. Nixon's employees had thrown a pailful of water upon another, who had thought fish in it had fallen from the sky"--had dipped up a pailful from a brook.

Those fishes--still alive--were exhibited at the Zoological Gardens, Regent's Park. The Editor says that one was a minnow and that the rest were sticklebacks.

He says that Dr. Gray's explanation is no doubt right.

But, upon page 6564, he publishes a letter from another correspondent, who apologizes for opposing "so high an authority as Dr. Gray," but says that he had obtained some of these fishes from persons who lived at a considerable distance apart, or considerably out of range of the playful pail of water.

According to the Annual Register, 1859-14, the fishes themselves had fallen by pailfuls.

If these fishes were not upon the ground in the first place, we base our objections to the whirlwind explanation upon two data:

That they fell in no such distribution as one could attribute to the discharge of a whirlwind, but upon a narrow strip of land: about 80 yards long and 12 yards wide--

The other datum is again the suggestion that at first seemed so incredible, but for which support is piling up, a suggestion of a stationary source overhead--

That ten minutes later another fall of fishes occurred upon this same narrow strip of land.

Even arguing that a whirlwind may stand still axially, it discharges tangentially. Wherever the fishes came from it does not seem thinkable that some could have fallen and that others could have whirled even a tenth of a minute, then falling directly after the first to fall.

Because of these evil circumstances the best adaptation was to laugh the whole thing off and say that someone had soused someone else with a pailful of water in which a few "very young" minnows had been caught up.

In the London Times, March 2, 1859, is a letter from Mr. Aaron Roberts, curate of St. Peter's, Carmathon. In this letter the fishes are said to have been about four inches long, but there is some question of species. I think, myself, that they were minnows and sticklebacks. Some persons, thinking them to be sea fishes, placed them in salt water, according to Mr. Roberts. "The effect is stated to have been almost instantaneous death." "Some were placed in fresh water. These seemed to thrive well." As to narrow distribution, we are told that the fishes fell "in and about the premises of Mr. Nixon." "It was not observed at the time that any fish fell in any other part of the neighborhood, save in the particular spot mentioned."

In the London Times, March 10, 1859, Vicar Griffith writes an account:
"The roofs of some houses were covered with them."
In this letter it is said that the largest fishes were five inches long, and that these did not survive the fall.

Report of the British Association, 1859-158:
"The evidence of the fall of fish on this occasion was very conclusive. A specimen of the fish was exhibited and was found to be the Gasterosteus leirus."  Gasterosteus is the stickleback.

Altogether I think we have not a sense of total perdition, when we're damned with the explanation that someone soused someone else with a pailful of water in which were thousands of fishes four or five inches long, some of which covered roofs of houses, and some of which remained ten minutes in the air. By way of contrast we offer our own acceptance:

That the bottom of a super-geographical pond had dropped out.

I have a great many notes upon the fall of fishes, despite the difficulty these records have in getting themselves published, but I pick out the instances that especially relate to our super-geographical acceptances, or to the Principles of Super-Geography: or data of things that have been in the air longer than acceptably could a whirlwind carry them; that have fallen with a distribution narrower than is attributable to a whirlwind; that have fallen for a considerable length of time upon the same narrow area of land.

These three factors indicate, somewhere not far aloft, a region of inertness to this earth's gravitation, of course, however, a region that, by the flux and variation of all things, must at times be susceptible--but, afterward, our heresy will bifurcate--

In amiable accommodation to the crucifixion it'll get, I think--

But so impressed are we with the datum that, though there have been many reports of small frogs that have fallen from the sky, not one report upon a fall of tadpoles is findable, that to these circumstances another adjustment must be made.

Apart from our three factors of indication, an extraordinary observation is the fall of living things without injury to them. The devotees of St. Isaac explain that they fall upon thick grass and so survive: but Sir James Emerson Tennant, in his History of Ceylon, tells of a fall of fishes upon gravel, by which they were seemingly uninjured. Something else apart from our three main interests is a phenomenon that looks like what one might call an alternating series of falls of fishes, whatever the significance may be:

Meerut, India, July, 1824 (Living Age, 52-186); Fifeshire, Scotland, summer of 1824 (Wernerian Nat. Hist. Soc. Trans., 5-575); Moradabad, India, July, 1826 (Living Age, 52-186); Ross-shire, Scotland, 1828 (Living Age, 52-186); Moradabad, India, July 20, 1829 (Lin. Soc. Trans., 16-764); Perthshire, Scotland (Living Age, 52-186); Argyleshire, Scotland, 1830, March 9, 1830 (Recreative Science, 3-339); Feridpoor, India, Feb. 19, 1830 (Jour. Asiatic Soc. of Bengal, 2-650).

A psycho-tropism that arises here--disregarding serial significance—or mechanical, unintelligent, repulsive reflex--is that the fishes of India did not fall from the sky; that they were found upon the ground after torrential rains, because streams had overflowed and had then receded.

In the region of Inertness that we think we can conceive of, or a zone that is to this earth's gravitation very much like the neutral zone of a magnet's attraction, we accept that there are bodies of water and also clear spaces--bottoms of ponds dropping out--very interesting ponds, having no earth at bottom--vast drops of water afloat in what is called space--fishes and deluges of water falling--

But also other areas, in which fishes--however they got there: a matter that we'll consider--remain and dry, or even putrefy, then sometimes falling by atmospheric dislodgment.

After a "tremendous deluge of rain, one of the heaviest falls on record" (All the Year Round, 8-255) at Rajkote, India, July 25, 1850, "the ground was found literally covered with fishes."

The word "found" is agreeable to the repulsions of the conventionalists and their concept of an overflowing stream--but, according to Dr. Buist, some of these fishes were "found" on the tops of haystacks.

Ferrel (A Popular Treatise, p. 414) tells of a fall of living fishes--some of them having been placed in a tank, where they survived--that occurred in India, about 20 miles south of Calcutta, Sept. 20, 1839. A witness of this fall says:

"The most strange thing which ever struck me was that the fish did not fall helter-skelter, or here and there, but they fell in a straight line, not more than a cubit in breadth." See Living Age, 52-186.

Amer. Jour. Sci., 1-32-199:

That, according to testimony taken before a magistrate, a fall occurred, Feb. 19, 1830, near Feridpoor, India, of many fishes, of various sizes--some whole and fresh and others "mutilated and putrefying." Our reflex to those who would say that, in the climate of India, it would not take long for fishes to putrefy, is--that high in the air, the climate of India is not torrid. Another peculiarity of this fall is that some of the fishes were much larger than others. Or to those who hold out for segregation in a whirlwind, or that objects, say, twice as heavy as others would be separated from the lighter, we point out that some of these fishes were twice as heavy as others.

In the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 2-650, depositions of witnesses are given:

"Some of the fish were fresh, but others were rotten and without heads."
"Among the number which I got, five were fresh and the rest stinking and headless."
According to Dr. Buist, some of these fishes weighed one and a half pounds each and others three pounds.

A fall of fishes at Futtepoor, India, May 16, 1833:  "They were all dead and dry." (Dr. Buist, Living Age, 52-186.)  India is far away: about 1830 was long ago.

Nature, Sept. 19, 1918-46:

A correspondent writes, from the Dove Marine Laboratory, Cuttercoats, England, that, at Hindon, a suburb of Sunderland, Aug. 24, 1918, hundreds of small fishes, identified as sand eels, had fallen--

Again the small area: about 60 by 30 yards.

The fall occurred during a heavy rain that was accompanied by thunder--or indications of disturbance aloft--but by no visible lightning. The sea is close to Hindon, but if you try to think of these fishes having described a trajectory in a whirlwind from the ocean, consider this remarkable datum:

That, according to witnesses, the fall upon this small area occupied ten minutes.

I cannot think of a clearer indication of a direct fall from a stationary source.


"The fish were all dead, and indeed stiff and hard, when picked up, immediately after the occurrence."

Monthly Weather Review, June, 1882:
Storm at Dubuque, Iowa, June 16, 1882, in which fell hailstones and pieces of ice.  "The foreman of the Novelty Iron Works, of this city, states that in two large hailstones melted by him were found small living frogs." But the pieces of ice that fell upon this occasion had a peculiarity that indicates--though by as bizarre an indication as any we've had yet—that they had been for a long time motionless or floating somewhere.

Living Age,  52-186:
That, June 30, 1841, fishes, one of which was ten inches long, fell at Boston; that, eight days later, fishes and ice fell at Derby.

Timb's Year Book, 1842-275,
it is said that, at Derby, the fishes had fallen in enormous numbers; from half an inch to two inches long, and some considerably larger. In the Athenæum, 1841-542, copied from the Sheffield Patriot, it is said that one of the fishes weighed three ounces. In several accounts, it is said that, with the fishes, fell many small frogs and "pieces of half-melted ice." In the London Times, July 15, 1841, it is said that the fishes were sticklebacks; that they had fallen with ice and small frogs, many of which had survived the fall. We note that, at Dunfermline, three months later (Oct. 7, 1841) fell many fishes, several inches in length, in a thunderstorm. (London Times Oct. 12, 1841.)

Monthly Weather Review, June, 1882
Of the ice that fell, some of it enclosing living frogs, at Dubuque, Iowa, June 16, 1882, it is said that there were pieces from one to seventeen inches in circumference, the largest weighing one pound and three-quarters--that upon some of them were icicles half an inch in length. We emphasize that these objects were not hailstones.

Nature, 3-512:

That, near the bank of a river, in Peru, Feb. 4, 1871, a meteorite fell. "On the spot, it is reported, several dead fishes were found, of different species." The attempt to correlate is--that the fishes "are supposed to have been lifted out of the river and dashed against the stones."

Nature, 4-169:  That the fishes had fallen among the fragments of the meteorite.

In the Annual Record of Science, 1873-350

 it is said that, in 1873, after a heavy thunderstorm in Louisiana, a tremendous number of fish scales were found, for a distance of forty miles, along the banks of the Mississippi River: bushels of them picked up in single places: large scales that were said to be of the gar fish, a fish that weighs from five to fifty pounds. It seems impossible to accept this identification: one thinks of a substance that had been pressed into flakes or scales. And round hailstones with wide thin margins of ice irregularly around them--still, such hailstones seem to me more like things that had been stationary: had been held in a field of thin ice. In the Illustrated London News, 34-546, are drawings of hailstones so margined, as if they had been held in a sheet of ice.

The source of the experience

Fort, Charles

Concepts, symbols and science items


Activities and commonsteps