The Fortress by the Sea, from Gog, by Giovanni Papini

March 29th, 2014

New Parthenon, October 6
For the last few years the state of the World has been growing more and more alarming and dangerous, and I have thought best to prepare an impregnable refuge for myself. Wars, invasions, and rebellions are sure to continue for some time yet, and no one is safe. Let all who realize this, and who do not wish to be starved or butchered, take early precautions.

On the northern coast of -Brazil and not far from the mouth of the Parnahyba I discovered a small peninsula that exactly suited my purpose, and the work of fortifying it and making it habitable is already well advanced. It is connected with the mainland by a sort of isthmus, where I have laid three rows of mines; thus in case of danger in less than three minutes my peninsula could become an island.

On the highest point I have built a castle faced externally with stone and lined with steel plates, those of roof and terraces being especially thick. At a certain distance, hidden among the trees, are two buildings for the servants. The castle has a deeply excavated underground apartment divided into several chambers, where one could live quite comfortably in case of emergency. There are also spacious cellars for storing provisions and ammunition.

I have installed several plants to render me absolutely independent of the rest of mankind–water cisterns, electric and refrigerating plants, a wireless station, and a vast bin that is already full of coal. The castle is equipped with a library of nearly twenty thousand volumes, comprising the masterpieces of all literaLures, the best encyclopaedias, and manuals of every branch of science. There are also three orthophonic gramophones with thousands of disks, and a gallery containing reproductions in color of the masterpieces of all times and countries. On the highest terrace I have placed a telescope with a twenty-six-inch lens, which will be useful when I am suffering from insomnia. The terrace is also equipped with several anti-aircraft guns in case an inquisitive airplane should seek to pry into my affairs. Fortunately my peninsula has a natural harbor, where I shall always keep two motorboats, a yacht, and two whaling-boats when I am at the castle. I really believe I have not overlooked anything.

As soon as any undesirable changes or alarming demonstrations take place in the country where I happen to be living, I can rush off at once to my fortified hermitage, where I shall find everything necessary for comfort, and there await the end of the crisis in perfect safety. The place is well chosen, for I am near the Gulf of Mexico and in my yacht can cross to New Orleans in a few days. Fortunately there are no towns in my neighborhood, but the hinterland is fertile and could supply many articles that might become necessary during a long period of isolation. I should take some thirty persons with me, among them a doctor, a librarian, an engineer, three capable mechanics, and two athletes. I have already purchased a hundred rifles and six machine guns, and I have ordered twenty battery guns. Thanks to the conformation of the peninsula, it would be quite easy to defend it against an attack from the
sea.

A ship laden with all sorts of tinned and preserved foods is already on its way there from Brazil, and I intend to build a stable to hold about a hundred head of cattle. Thus equipped I should be able to hold out for at least a year Without receiving any supplies from outside. Thanks to the precautions I have taken, I need not fear solitude. Time passes quickly when one has books, music, and astronomy.

I am surprised that the great lords of the earth, men as rich or even richer than I, have never thought of preparing similar places of refuge against the misfortunes and upheavals of war and revolution. Man’s shortsightedness is appalling and passes belief. No one foresees, no one provides against, disasters that–if we consider the madness that has invaded mankind–must be regarded as not only possible but actually imminent. The example of Russia has failed to open the eyes even of those great plutocrats who are most in danger of being shot or despoiled. I alone perhaps, in the whole world, have thought of preparing a buen retiro for stormy times-—a bueno retiro partaking of the nature of the feudal castle, the fortified convent, and the pirates’ cave, but which will prove far more useful than those sumptuous villas the wealthy have erected in the open country within reach of every one, as if for the very purpose of arousing the envy of the poor and, by providing the opportunity, of awakening that instinct to plunder which is common to us all.

My peninsular refuge will also serve me in times of peace. Every now and then I am seized with the longing to get away not only from the city but even from thickly populated country places. At such times I shall be able to become an anchorite, a hermit, surrounded by all the comforts of civilization. And to my way of thinking, there can be nothing more delightful than to be able to isolate oneself from one’s own odious kind, to feel in every way independent of them, in a well—defended retreat where they can neither molest nor offend.

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