Sunday, 8 March 2015
09:18:42 PM (GMT)
TEST TEST TEST
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to
correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of
black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences,
each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the
piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of
reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the
revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark
Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle wherein
our world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange
survivals in terms which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland optimism.
But it is not from them that there came the single glimpse of forbidden aeons which
chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it. That glimpse, like
all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out from an accidental piecing together of
separated things—in this case an old newspaper item and the notes of a dead
professor. I hope that no one else will accomplish this piecing out; certainly, if I
live, I shall never knowingly supply a link in so hideous a chain. I think that the
professor, too, intended to keep silent regarding the part he knew, and that he would
have destroyed his notes had not sudden death seized him.
My knowledge of the thing began in the winter of 1926-27 with the death of my
great-uncle, George Gammell Angell, Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages in Brown
University, Providence, Rhode Island. Professor Angell was widely known as an
authority on ancient inscriptions, and had frequently been resorted to by the heads
of prominent museums; so that his passing at the age of ninety-two may be recalled by
many. Locally, interest was intensified by the obscurity of the cause of death. The
professor had been stricken whilst returning from the Newport boat; falling suddenly;
as witnesses said, after having been jostled by a nautical-looking negro who had come
from one of the queer dark courts on the precipitous hillside which formed a short
cut from the waterfront to the deceased's home in Williams Street. Physicians were
unable to find any visible disorder, but concluded after perplexed debate that some
obscure lesion of the heart, induced by the brisk ascent of so steep a hill by so
elderly a man, was responsible for the end. At the time I saw no reason to dissent
from this dictum, but latterly I am inclined to wonder - and more than wonder.
As my great-uncle's heir and executor, for he died a childless widower, I was
expected to go over his papers with some thoroughness; and for that purpose moved his
entire set of files and boxes to my quarters in Boston. Much of the material which I
correlated will be later published by the American Archaeological Society, but there
was one box which I found exceedingly puzzling, and which I felt much averse from
showing to other eyes. It had been locked and I did not find the key till it occurred
to me to examine the personal ring which the professor carried in his pocket. Then,
indeed, I succeeded in opening it, but when I did so seemed only to be confronted by
a greater and more closely locked barrier. For what could be the meaning of the queer
clay bas-relief and the disjointed jottings, ramblings, and cuttings which I found?
Had my uncle, in his latter years become credulous of the most superficial
impostures? I resolved to search out the eccentric sculptor responsible for this
apparent disturbance of an old man's peace of mind.
The bas-relief was a rough rectangle less than an inch thick and about five by six
inches in area; obviously of modern origin. Its designs, however, were far from
modern in atmosphere and suggestion; for, although the vagaries of cubism and
futurism are many and wild, they do not often reproduce that cryptic regularity which
lurks in prehistoric writing. And writing of some kind the bulk of these designs
seemed certainly to be; though my memory, despite much the papers and collections of
my uncle, failed in any way to identify this particular species, or even hint at its
Above these apparent hieroglyphics was a figure of evident pictorial intent, though
its impressionistic execution forbade a very clear idea of its nature. It seemed to
be a sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form which only a
diseased fancy could conceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination
yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I
shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head
surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general
outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful. Behind the figure was a
vague suggestions of a Cyclopean architectural background.
The writing accompanying this oddity was, aside from a stack of press cuttings, in
Professor Angell's most recent hand; and made no pretense to literary style. What
seemed to be the main document was headed "CTHULHU CULT" in characters painstakingly
printed to avoid the erroneous reading of a word so unheard-of. This manuscript was
divided into two sections, the first of which was headed "1925 - Dream and Dream Work
of H.A. Wilcox, 7 Thomas St., Providence, R. I.", and the second, "Narrative of
Inspector John R. Legrasse, 121 Bienville St., New Orleans, La., at 1908 A. A. S.
Mtg. - Notes on Same, & Prof. Webb's Acct." The other manuscript papers were brief
notes, some of them accounts of the queer dreams of different persons, some of them
citations from theosophical books and magazines (notably W. Scott-Elliot's Atlantis
and the Lost Lemuria), and the rest comments on long-surviving secret societies and
hidden cults, with references to passages in such mythological and anthropological
source-books as Frazer's Golden Bough and Miss Murray's Witch-Cult in Western Europe.
The cuttings largely alluded to outré mental illness and outbreaks of group folly or
mania in the spring of 1925.
The first half of the principal manuscript told a very particular tale. It appears
that on March 1st, 1925, a thin, dark young man of neurotic and excited aspect had
called upon Professor Angell bearing the singular clay bas-relief, which was then
exceedingly damp and fresh. His card bore the name of Henry Anthony Wilcox, and my
uncle had recognized him as the youngest son of an excellent family slightly known to
him, who had latterly been studying sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design
and living alone at the Fleur-de-Lys Building near that institution. Wilcox was a
precocious youth of known genius but great eccentricity, and had from chidhood
excited attention through the strange stories and odd dreams he was in the habit of
relating. He called himself "psychically hypersensitive", but the staid folk of the
ancient commercial city dismissed him as merely "queer." Never mingling much with his
kind, he had dropped gradually from social visibility, and was now known only to a
small group of esthetes from other towns. Even the Providence Art Club, anxious to
preserve its conservatism, had found him quite hopeless.
On the ocassion of the visit, ran the professor's manuscript, the sculptor abruptly
asked for the benefit of his host's archeological knowledge in identifying the
hieroglyphics of the bas-relief. He spoke in a dreamy, stilted manner which suggested
pose and alienated sympathy; and my uncle showed some sharpness in replying, for the
conspicuous freshness of the tablet implied kinship with anything but archeology.
Young Wilcox's rejoinder, which impressed my uncle enough to make him recall and
record it verbatim, was of a fantastically poetic cast which must have typified his
whole conversation, and which I have since found highly characteristic of him. He
said, "It is new, indeed, for I made it last night in a dream of strange cities; and
dreams are older than brooding Tyre, or the contemplative Sphinx, or garden-girdled
It was then that he began that rambling tale which suddenly played upon a sleeping
memory and won the fevered interest of my uncle. There had been a slight earthquake
tremor the night before, the most considerable felt in New England for some years;
and Wilcox's imagination had been keenly affected. Upon retiring, he had had an
unprecedented dream of great Cyclopean cities of Titan blocks and sky-flung
monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with latent horror.
Hieroglyphics had covered the walls and pillars, and from some undetermined point
below had come a voice that was not a voice; a chaotic sensation which only fancy
could transmute into sound, but which he attempted to render by the almost
unpronounceable jumble of letters: "Cthulhu fhtagn."
So, cant do ENTER, and no scroll.
Last edited: 21 March 2015