The Spectre Of The Broken





The following observations on that singular phenomenon called the

Spectre of the Broken, in Germany, is related by Monsieur J. L. Jordan,

in the following words.



"In the course of my repeated tours through the Harz (mountains in

Germany), I ascended the Broken twelve times: but I had the good fortune

only twice (both times about Whitsuntide) to see that atmospheric

phenomenon called the Spectre of the Broken, which appears to me so

worthy of particular attention, as it must, no doubt, be observed on

other high mountains, which have a situation favourable for producing

it. The first time I was deceived by this extraordinary phenomenon, I

had clambered up to the summit of the Broken very early in the morning,

in order to wait for the inexpressibly beautiful view of the sun rising

in the east. The heavens were already streaked with red; the sun was

just appearing above the horizon in full majesty; and the most perfect

serenity prevailed throughout the surrounding country; when the other

Harz mountains in the south-west, towards the Worm mountains, &c. lying

under the Broken, began to be covered by thick clouds. Ascending at that

moment the granite rocks called the Tempelskanzel, there appeared before

me, though at a great distance, towards the Worm mountains and the

Auchtermanshohe, the gigantic figure of a man, as if standing on a large

pedestal. But scarcely had I discovered it, when it began to disappear;

the clouds sunk down speedily, and expanded; and I saw the phenomenon no

more. The second time, however, I saw this spectre somewhat more

distinctly, a little below the summit of the Broken, and near the

Heinnichshohe, as I was looking at the sun-rising, about four o'clock in

the morning. The weather was rather tempestuous; the sky towards the

level country was pretty clear; but the Harz mountains had attracted

several thick clouds which had been hovering round them, and which,

beginning on the Broken, confined the prospect. In these clouds, soon

after the rising of the sun, I saw my own shadow, of a monstrous size,

move itself, for a couple of seconds, in the clouds; and the phenomenon

disappeared. It is impossible to see this phenomenon, except when the

sun is at such an altitude as to throw his rays upon the body in an

horizontal direction; for if he is higher, the shadow is thrown rather

under the body than before it.



"In the month of September, last year, as I was making a tour through

the Harz with a very agreeable party, and ascended the Broken, I found

an excellent account and explanation of this phenomenon, as seen by M.

Haue on the 23d of May 1797, in his diary of an excursion to that

mountain; I shall therefore take the liberty of transcribing it.



"'After having been here for the thirtieth time,' says M. Haue; 'and,

besides other objects of my attention, having procured information

respecting the above-mentioned atmospheric phenomenon, I was at length

so fortunate as to have the pleasure of seeing it; and, perhaps, my

description may afford satisfaction to others who visit the Broken

through curiosity. The sun rose about four o'clock; and, the atmosphere

being quite serene towards the east, his rays could pass without any

obstruction over the Heinnichshohe. In the south-west, however, towards

the Auchtermaunshohe, a brisk west wind carried before it their

transparent vapours, which were not yet condensed into thick heavy

clouds. About a quarter past four I went towards the inn, and looked

round to see whether the atmosphere would permit me to have a free

prospect to the south-west; when I observed, at a very great distance,

towards the Auchtermaunshohe, a human figure, of a monstrous size. A

violent gust of wind having almost carried away my hat, I clapped my

hand to it by moving my arm towards my head, and the colossal figure did

the same. The pleasure which I felt on this discovery can hardly be

described; for I had already walked many a weary step in the hope of

seeing this shadowy image, without being able to satisfy my curiosity. I

immediately made another movement by bending my body, and the colossal

figure before me repeated it. I was desirous of doing the same thing

once more; but my colossus had vanished. I remained in the same

position, waiting to see whether it would return; and, in a few minutes,

it again made its appearance in the Auchtermaunshohe. I paid my respects

to it a second time, and it did the same to me. I then called the

landlord of the Broken; and, having both taken the same position which I

had taken alone, we looked towards the Auchtermaunshohe, but saw

nothing. We had not, however, stood long, when two such colossal figures

were formed over the above eminence, which repeated our compliment, by

bending their bodies as we did; after which they vanished. We retained

our position, kept our eyes fixed upon the same spot; and, in a little

time, the two figures again stood before us, and were joined by a third.

Every movement that we made by bending our bodies, these figures

imitated; but with this difference, that the phenomenon was sometimes

weak and faint, sometimes strong and well-defined. Having thus had an

opportunity of discovering the whole secret of this phenomenon, I can

give the following information to such of my readers as may be desirous

of seeing it themselves. When the rising sun (and, according to analogy,

the case will be the same at the setting sun) throws his rays over the

Broken upon the body of a man standing opposite to fine light clouds

floating around or hovering past him, he needs only fix his eye

stedfastly upon them, and in all probability he will see the singular

spectacle of his own shadow extending to the length of five or six

hundred feet, at the distance of about two miles from him. This is one

of the most agreeable phenomena I have ever had an opportunity of

remarking on the great observations of Germany.'--"





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