Call of Cthulhu: Letters from Arkham
Innsmouth: Superstition and the Sea
By Michael Peabody
English in single small, slim volume. Copyright 1920.
Published by Small, Maynard and Company – Boston, Mass. (Note: 1897 to 1927)
The book details the strange customs and quaint folk practices of small Yankee seacoast towns with Innsmouth, Massachusetts, as its focal piece. One old Innsmouth native is quoted in the book as he speaks vaguely of a curse that lies upon his home, stating “that the old town has lost more than its share of sons and daughters to the sea.” Peabody concludes his treatise with the assertion that Innsmouth’s loss of maritime trade in the 19th century caused its insular populace to resort to superstition to restore its prosperity, forsaking healthier routes of alternate industry. In this bizarre effort, the town failed, though has yet to, and may never, emerge from its intense insularity.
A brief endnote to the book by the publisher states that author Michael Peabody drowned just before the publication of this, his only book.
“… perhaps nowhere else have declining maritime fortunes had such an adverse social and economic effect than in Innsmouth, Massachusetts, a once thriving seaport now reduced to a depressed hamlet. Education and other social services are all but unknown, leading to a rapid decline in cultural mores, despite the town’s close physical proximity to Arkham, home of the prestigious Miskatonic University. Arkham for its part ignores any responsibility it might feel it has as a community to its backwater neighbor. As a result, the residents of Innsmouth have combined elder sea lore, religion, and cultural ways into an odd mix of superstition and secretive ritual practices unique in New England. Samples of Innsmouth superstition include rituals to reap better lobster harvests, spells to attract and control sharks, and charms wrought to invoke a watery doom on the unwary. Perhaps most curious are some of the genuine golden ornaments that are incorporated into many of the rituals and charms. Locals insist these are locally crafted; nonetheless they possess a disturbing, otherworldly quality that this author struggles to convey in words. I have examined only two such ornaments, and this under circumstances that would draw the ire of many locals, should they know of my trespass into their affairs. The ornaments most greatly resemble similar pieces described in ancient occult tomes such as the obscure Ponape Scripture, a copy of which resides in special collections at nearby Miskatonic University Library. There have been rumors circulating in academic circles for years of similar objects and practices common to the geographically and socially isolated peoples of the Louisiana bayou country. If proven, this could prove a fascinating link between the cultural, moral, and religious decline of the two separate, isolated communities …”
Found in the home of Dr. Swanson Ames.