In the confusion of thought about a future life, the peculiar facts related in the following pages can certainly be regarded as helpful. Spiritualism, with its morbid tendencies, its infatuation and deceit, has not been of any substantial value in this inquiry. It may afford to those who have experienced any positive visitation from another world a very comforting and indisputable proof. To most sane people it is a humiliating and ludicrous vagary.
At the conclusion of a life spent rather diligently in study, and in association especially with astronomical practice and physical experiments, I have, in view of certain hitherto unpublished facts, decided to make public almost incontrovertible evidence that in the planet Mars the continuation of our present life, in some instances, has been discovered by myself. I will not dwell on the astonishment I have felt over these discoveries, nor attempt to describe that felicity of conviction which I now enjoy over the prospect of a life in another world.
My father was the fortunate possessor of a large fortune, which freed him of all anxieties about any material cares, and left him to pursue the bent of his inclination. He became greatly interested in physical science, and was also a patron of the liberal arts. His home was stored with the most beautiful products of the manufacturer's skill in fictile arts, and on its walls hung the most approved examples of the painter's skill. The looms of Holland and France and England furnished him with their delicate and sumptuous tapestries, and the Orient covered his floors with the richest and most prized carpets of Daghestan and Trebizond, and of Bokhara.
But even more marked than his love for art was his passion for physical science. His opportunities for the indulgence of this taste were unlimited, and the reinforcement of his natural aptitude by his great means enabled him to carry on experiments upon a scale of the most magnificent proportions. These experiments were made in a large building which was especially built for this object. It contained every facility for his various new designs, and in it he anticipated many advances in electrical science and in mechanical devices, which have made the civilization of our day so remarkable. I recall distinctly as a boy his ingenious approximation to the telephone, and even the recent advances in wireless telegraphy, which has been the instrumentality by which my own researches in the field of interplanetary telegraphy have been prosecuted, had been realized by himself.
It was in the midst of a life almost ideally happy that the blow fell which drove him and myself, then a boy and his only child, into a retirement which resulted in the discoveries I am about to relate. My father's devotion to my mother was an illustration of the most beautiful and tender love that a man can bear toward a woman. It was adoration. Though his mind was employed upon the abstruse questions of physics which he investigated, or edified by new acquisitions in art, all his knowledge and all his pleasure seemed but the means by which he endeavored to gain her deeper affection. She indeed became his companion in science, and her own just and well regulated taste constantly furnished him new motives for adding to his wide accumulations of art.
I can recall with some difficulty the day when with my father in a room immediately below the bedroom in which my mother was confined he awaited the summons of the doctors to see his wife for the last time. It was a rainy day, the clouds were drifting across a dull November sky. Through an opening in the trees then leafless, the Hudson was visible, even then flaked with ice, while an early snow covered the sloping lawn and whitened the broad-limbed oaks. I remember indistinctly his leading me by the hand through the hallway up the stairs, and softly whispering to me to be quite still, entered the large room dimly lit where my mother, attended by a nurse and a doctor, lay on the white bed. I remember being kissed by her and then being led from the room by the nurse. My father doubtless lingered until all was over, and the dear associate of his life, whose tenderness and charity had made all who approached her grateful, whose genial and appreciative mind had supplied the stimulus of recognition he needed for his own studies, passed away. After that I seemed dimly to recall a period of extreme loneliness when I was left in charge of a private instructor, while my father, as I later learned, bewildered by his great loss, and temporarily driven into a sort of madness, wandered in an aimless track of travel over the United States.