The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

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The Raven Edition





UPON my return to the United States a few months ago, after the
extraordinary series of adventure in the South Seas and elsewhere, of
which an account is given in the following pages, accident threw me
into the society of several gentlemen in Richmond, Va., who felt deep
interest in all matters relating to the regions I had visited, and who
were constantly urging it upon me, as a duty, to give my narrative to
the public. I had several reasons, however, for declining to do so, some
of which were of a nature altogether private, and concern no person but
myself; others not so much so. One consideration which deterred me was
that, having kept no journal during a greater portion of the time in
which I was absent, I feared I should not be able to write, from mere
memory, a statement so minute and connected as to have the _appearance
_of that truth it would really possess, barring only the natural and
unavoidable exaggeration to which all of us are prone when detailing
events which have had powerful influence in exciting the imaginative
faculties. Another reason was, that the incidents to be narrated were
of a nature so positively marvellous that, unsupported as my assertions
must necessarily be (except by the evidence of a single individual, and
he a half-breed Indian), I could only hope for belief among my family,
and those of my friends who have had reason, through life, to put faith
in my veracity--the probability being that the public at large would
regard what I should put forth as merely an impudent and ingenious
fiction. A distrust in my own abilities as a writer was, nevertheless,
one of the principal causes which prevented me from complying with the
suggestions of my advisers.

Among those gentlemen in Virginia who expressed the greatest interest
in my statement, more particularly in regard to that portion of it
which related to the Antarctic Ocean, was Mr. Poe, lately editor of
the “Southern Literary Messenger,” a monthly magazine, published by Mr.
Thomas W. White, in the city of Richmond. He strongly advised me,
among others, to prepare at once a full account of what

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Text Comparison with Eureka: A Prose Poem

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"Nor had our forefathers any better right.
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"I have often thought, my friend, that it must have puzzled these dogmaticians of a thousand years ago, to determine, even, by which of their two boasted roads it is that the cryptographist attains the solution of the more complicate cyphers--or by which of them Champollion guided mankind to those important and innumerable truths which, for so many centuries, have lain entombed amid the phonetical hieroglyphics of Egypt.
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But abstruseness is a quality appertaining to no subject _per se_.
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And what is a First Cause? An ultimate termination of causes.
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Nevertheless, as an individual, I may be permitted to say that _I cannot_ conceive Infinity, and am convinced that no human being can.
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leave _it_, the tendency, free to seek its satisfaction.
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[1] "_Murders in the Rue Morgue_"--p.
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In the direction of the centre each atom perceives more atoms than in any other direction.
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To explain:--The Newtonian Gravity--a law of Nature--a law whose existence as such no one out of Bedlam questions--a law whose admission as such enables us to account for nine-tenths of the Universal phaenomena--a law which, merely because it does so enable us to account for these phaenomena, we are perfectly willing, without reference to any other considerations, to admit, and cannot help admitting, as a law--a law, nevertheless, of which neither the principle nor the _modus operandi_ of the principle, has ever yet been traced by the human analysis--a law, in short, which, neither in its detail nor in its generality, has been found susceptible of explanation _at all_--is at length seen to be at every point thoroughly explicable, provided only we yield our assent to----what? To an hypothesis? Why _if_ an hypothesis--if the merest hypothesis--if an hypothesis for whose assumption--as in the case of that _pure_ hypothesis the Newtonian law itself--no shadow of _a priori_ reason could be assigned--if an hypothesis, even so absolute as all this implies, would enable us to perceive a principle for the Newtonian law--would enable us to understand as satisfied, conditions so miraculously--so ineffably complex and seemingly irreconcileable as those involved in the relations of which Gravity tells us,--what rational being _could_ so expose his fatuity as to call even this absolute hypothesis an hypothesis any longer--unless, indeed, he were to persist in so calling it, with the understanding that he did so, simply for the sake of consistency _in words_? But what is the true state of our present case? What is _the fact_? Not only that it is _not_.
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To sum up what has been here advanced:--As a starting point I have taken it for granted, simply, that the Beginning had nothing behind it or before it--that it was a Beginning in fact--that it was a beginning and nothing different from a beginning--in short that this Beginning was----_that which it was_.
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Thus from his original bulk--or, to speak more accurately, from.
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[6] [6] I am prepared to show that the anomalous revolution of the satellites of Uranus is a simply perspective anomaly arising from the inclination of the axis of the planet.
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_ The only mode, therefore, in which, under such a state of affairs, we could comprehend the _voids_ which our telescopes find in innumerable directions, would be by supposing the distance of the invisible background so immense that no ray from it has yet been able to reach us at all.
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Their material--their spirit is not ours--is not that which obtains in any part of our Universe.
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But let us bring the matter more distinctly before the eye of the mind.
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Thus, in the density of the globes, we have the measure in which their purposes are fulfilled.
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It is hardly worth while, perhaps, even to sneer at the reveries of Fourrier:--but much has been said, latterly, of the hypothesis of Maedler--that there exists, in the centre of the Galaxy, a stupendous globe about which all the systems of the cluster revolve.
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With the idea of a material ether, seems, thus, to have departed altogether the thought of that universal agglomeration so long predetermined by the poetical fancy of mankind:--an agglomeration in which a sound Philosophy might have been warranted in putting faith, at least to a certain extent, if for no other reason than that by this poetical fancy it _had_ been so predetermined.
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Now ready.