1920 The Temple

From Gustave Doré's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798)
Written in the Fall of 1920, published in Weird Tales 1925.09, 1936.02.

Opening Statement:
(Manuscript Found On The Coast Of Yucatan)

      On August 20, 1917, I, Karl Heinrich, Graf von Altberg-Ehrenstein, Lieutenant-Commander in the Imperial German Navy and in charge of the submarine U-29, deposit this bottle and record in the Atlantic Ocean at a point to me unknown but probably about N. Latitude 20 degrees, W. Longitude 35 degrees, where my ship lies disabled on the ocean floor. I do so because of my desire to set certain unusual facts before the public; a thing I shall not in all probability survive to accomplish in person, since the circumstances surrounding me are as menacing as they are extraordinary, and involve not only the hopeless crippling of the U-29, but the impairment of my iron German will in a manner most disastrous.
What in Brown Jenkin's Name..?
     A weird ivory statuette leads a German submarine crew to destroy themselves in a superstitious panic. The only survivor (the still-skeptical captain) discovers a strangely lit, underwater city.
Weird Tales 1936.02, Margaret Brundage.
     A WWI German sub commander writes an account of how his U-boat destroyed a British ship. Later, a dead body is found clinging to the outside railing. An ivory idol is taken from the body, and the dead man seemingly swims away. The sub is caught in a current and the crew see dead faces outside. After a mysterious explosion and some mutiny attempts, the sub is pulled under and southward, out of control. The captain is forced to kill all of the crew during a mutiny, except one man. Later the one man, maddened by a “calling”, goes outside to his death without a pressure suit. The sub eventually hits the ocean floor where a lost city is found (probably Atlantis, or R’lyeh). The captain explores the city and finds in a mysterious temple the same image as was carved on the dead man’s ivory talisman. The captain sees lights coming from the temple and is driven to enter it, knowing he will not survive. The account is jettisoned in a bottle as the captain’s last act before exiting the sub.
Essential Saltes:
     There was no animal or vegetable phosphorescence about, and the city that sloped down to the river was invisible in blackness. What I did see was not spectacular, not grotesque or terrifying, yet it removed my last vestige of trust in my consciousness. For the door and windows of the undersea temple hewn from the rocky hill were vividly aglow with a flickering radiance, as from a mighty altar-flame far within. 
From Dr. Armitage's Notes:
  • WW I setting, from the viewpoint of the Germans.
  • Alien statuette: a statuette also previously featured in "The Doom That Came To Sarnath", but the most notorious statuette is probably the one in "The Call of Cthulhu".
  • Ancient scientific civilization, now sunken. R'lyeh (from "Cthulhu") would also have a similar fate.
  • The Temple is seemingly referenced in "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath".
  • Lovecraft was greatly inspired in his youth by Gustave DorĂ©'s illustrations for Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (see top of page).

The Horrible Conclusion:
     The light in the temple is a sheer delusion, and I shall die calmly like a German, in the black and forgotten depths. This demoniac laughter which I hear as I write comes only from my own weakening brain. So I will carefully don my suit and walk boldly up the steps into the primal shrine, that silent secret of unfathomed waters and uncounted years.
Read it here.

Follow'd by "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family"
Weird Tales 1925.09, Andrew Brosnatch.