Mysterylights Group Message 0398

Subject: The Elephant on the Moon
From: "sean_b_palmer" <sean@...>
Date: 07 Apr 2006 21:29

Apparently first published in 1854, The Elephant on the Moon [1] was a
satirical poem written by Samuel Butler on the state of astronomical
integrity at the time. I mention it because in the course of my
Will-o'-the-wisp research today, I happenstanced upon the following
quote from an online transcription of a recent article from New

in 1663, Butler Hud decribed it as that which "... bewitches 
and leads men into pools and ditches."
- Mekong Mystery, New Scientist, 6 September 1997; via [2]

I'd not heard of this Butler Hud fellow before, so I Googled and found
that it was a mistranscription of "Butler, /Hud./", Hud. being the
abbreviation of Samuel Butler's most popular work, Hudibras. I should
have figured this out sooner since Fulke was called "W. Fulke Meteors"
in just the previous sentence.

I've been doing a lot of work these past couple of days on
Will-o'-the-wisps and the whole anomalous lights site. As I mentioned,
I was preparing a transcription of a work of Rev. John Brand, and I've
now published that:
- John Brand: Will With A Wisp (1777)

As well as that, I've added new references to the wisps page and a
couple more quotes from The Times that I managed to find and
transcribe recently--and there's plenty more to come! I went hunting
for copies of Notes and Queries and found one today, though I missed a
page so I should go back and get that. I also got a paper by Allan
Mills, whom I mentioned recently, and his work cites many other
previous works that I've subsequently been looking for, though I only
found one in my relatively vast library, which was disappointing.

I also looked up the old details of a random ignis fatuus story that I
found a couple of years ago, and got a copy of that too. I shall be
transcribing all of this since it's in the public domain or would be
classed as fair dealing (the UK's kinda-equivalent to fair use).

I've also been preparing a huge table of synonyms with much richer and
more granular citations and other annotations, but now I've started to
think that I ought to make an XML database out of it so that I can
process and update the information easier, so that whole thing will
probably be delayed.

In more local news, I subscribed to the list so now
we get some alternative archives just in case Yahoo! pulls the plug
here, or in case someone wants a better interface:

It might also make the posts easier to find on Google. I've been
thinking about housing some copies on too, but as usual
I'm struggling to decide on the best structure for it. As well as all
that, I ordered Night Orbs [3] from long-time list member James
Bunnell, and the new Corliss book that Peter recommended to me the
other day--and I got to speak briefly to the man himself in the
process of ordering it.

Once the database of Will-o'-the-wisp articles is of a sufficient
size, I'll probably make yet another table of the most interesting
characteristics, and perhaps attempt to plot a map of all of the
sightings onto a map of Britain, with date information marked clearly,
to see if there are any interesting trends there. There are some other
axes that I'm rather interested in, but I need to do loadsa
transcribin' still.

I'm a bit worried about the wisp reports being thin on the ground, so
if anybody knows of some that I don't have, please do feel free to
send them to me! Facsimilies of original article content, especially
that in the public domain, would be appreciated most of all.



Sean B. Palmer

Mailing list run by Sean B. Palmer
These are archived posts of mailing list messages: see the "From" line at the top of the page for the actual author. I take no responsibility for contents of mailing list posters, but feel free to email me if you have any concerns.