Since I’ve been on the subject of Jacques Bergier’s Extraterrestrial Visitations from Prehistoric Times to the Present (1970), I should bring up another instance where Bergier received inspiration from H. P. Lovecraft, leading him to ridiculous conclusions.
Bergier relates the life of Sir Henry Cavendish (1731-1810), an aristocratic British scientist famed for his discovery of hydrogen. Cavendish was pathologically shy, to the point that he refused to communicate with women and would turn his back even on men. Despite the clear record of the scientist’s life from birth to death, Bergier suggests that Cavendish was an extraterrestrial wearing a human mask, trying to hide his face so no one could examine the synthetic covering too closely. Bergier also suggests that Cavenish’s vast wealth (more than £1.2 million in cash and property at his death) was due to either (a) extraterrestrial shenanigans or (b) his ability to create gold chemically. Cavendish was the descendant of two noble families with eight centuries of accumulated wealth behind them, which he inherited halfway through his life in documented bequests. He was also frugal to the point that he spent but one-eighth of his income each year; he didn’t need aliens to get money.
For the record, Henry Cavendish’s wealth came from: (a) his father’s £159,000 legacy, inherited in 1783; £145,000 from his grandmother Elizabeth’s estate; (c) an investment in South Seas annuities that grew from £1,100 in 1776 to £14,000 by 1781; and (d) miscellaneous other sources. This wealth his advisors invested well (though Cavendish himself had no interest in money), and it grew and compounded over time. (See Christa Jungnickel and Russell McCormmach, Cavendish: The Experimental Life [Quality Books, 2001], 491-492.)
These facts were not publicized in his lifetime, leading to speculation about the true source of his wealth down to the twentieth century, when a diligent search of records finally explained the “mystery.”
All of this is prelude to Bergier’s insidious commentary on Cavendish’s life:
These are not Lovecraft’s exact words; the 1973 English translator of Bergier's book has neglected to consult the original English texts and has instead re-translated back into English Bergier’s French translation of Lovecraft’s English original. The first line is a slightly mangled version of one from “Pickman’s Model”: “Either he was born in strange shadow, or he’d found a way to unlock the forbidden gate.” The second line comes from “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”: “This face is a mask, and what it covers is not human” (emphasis in original).
(Oddly enough, Bill and Peggy Foster and Nadine Wheeler use the mistranslated “Pickman” quote from the English version of Bergier in The Black Triangle Abduction [Invisible College, 2005], and it’s obvious where they borrowed it from.)
By quoting these stories, Bergier means to lead us to Lovecraft and through those stories attribute to Henry Cavendish the fate of Lovecraft’s characters. In “Pickman’s Model,” Richard Upton Pickman becomes a ghoul, surrendering his humanity to enter into a parallel realm of dark creatures. More to the point, in “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” Randolph Carter (Lovecrat’s literary alter ego) finds his mind trapped in an extraterrestrial’s body and uses a wax mask and bulky robes to try to pass for human. A similar disguise is found in “The Whisperer in Darkness,” where an alien (a Mi-Go) tries to pass for human through use of a mask of hands and a face to communicate with a human visitor to a remote farm.
In his usual elliptical way, Bergier means to suggest that Henry Cavendish was an alien passing for human—a particularly astounding feat, since it involved counterfeiting a human life from birth to death, with all its attendant changes, using masks.
But no one ever though Henry Cavendish was wearing a mask, not the men who dined with him each week at his club, nor the servants he abused, nor the tailor who measured him annually for the same new purple suit.
Instead, Bergier must have begun with a reading of Lovecraft and then sifted through history to find a character to fit into the slot of the masked alien. Once again, we see how Bergier’s own words demonstrate his dependence on Lovecraft for the development of specific claims in his ancient astronaut theory.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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