What Happened Upon Our Return Home
From: To Mars Via The Moon
(Written by John Yiewsley Claxton, Esq., of Norbury, in the County
Borough of Croydon, Surrey)
In accordance with the desire of my old friend, Wilfrid Poynders, I am
now about to publish the book which was handed to me by Merna on the
morning of our departure from Mars.
I knew that my dear old friend's thoughts and aspirations ever soared
towards the skies; but, as his last testament shows, his sympathies
embraced all humanity, and I am somewhat reluctant to add anything which
must necessarily bring the subject down to a lower plane.
As a narrative of his own personal experiences in connection with our
trip to Mars, the Professor's work is quite complete; still I thought
his readers would wish to know how it fared with his colleagues after
they left Mars, and have accordingly appended a few pages furnishing
I am quite convinced that, in deciding to remain behind on the planet,
the Professor, as M'Allister remarked, "did the right thing"; but after
the many years we have spent together in the closest and truest
friendship, I miss him-ah, more than I can say.
It was really a tremendous wrench, that parting with my two old
friends, the Professor and Merna, and leaving them behind on Mars,
although I fully appreciated the Professor's desire to end his days with
his dear son, to whom he had been so strangely reunited.
We started that morning directly after our farewell, and found a large
concourse of people assembled, who had come from all parts of the planet
to see us off.
Soranho and many other high officers of state whom we knew were present,
and, of course, the Professor, Merna, Eleeta, and Siloni, as well as
many others whom we had come to regard as personal friends; and they did
not allow us to depart empty-handed.
Merna handed me the packet which the Professor had referred to. We had
no formal farewell with the Professor-that was all over; but he came
forward at the last moment, and we parted from him with a loving
After a most affectionate leave-taking with our other friends, with whom
I took good care to include Siloni, we boarded the Areonal. M'Allister
at once took charge of the machinery, switched on the power, and we
immediately rose into the air, amidst shouts of farewell and repeated
good wishes from the assembled multitude.
We rose rapidly; but, so long as we kept in view of the place, we could
see the people still waving their adieus to us, and I frequently
responded to their signals.
At last, when these lovable and hospitable Martians were lost to sight,
I went into the Areonal, closing and bolting the outer door, which was
never again to be opened until we reached our destination-our home in
I have no doubt that, long after we lost sight of them, many of the
Martians kept the Areonal in view with their telescopes, and followed
its course far into space.
I then directed M'Allister to set our course for our own world; and when
he had done so, he looked up at me and said, "Heh, mon, yon Martians are
rare good folk, and I'm right sorry to leave them!"
"Yes, so am I, M'Allister," I answered. He again looked at me keenly,
with a queer smile on his face; and remarked, "Mon, I'm thinking you are
that, and that you have left something behind you!"
I knew he meant that I had left my heart behind me, for I was thinking
the very same thing; but I turned away from him with a sigh, without
answering. The matter was not one about which I cared to speak just
then, for I felt very sad and heartsore.
Our journey passed off without any exciting incidents, everything on the
Areonal working most satisfactorily. On the 4th February, 1910, we
passed within forty-one million miles of the sun, and the heat at this
stage of our journey was terrific, but we had a magnificent view of the
sunspots, the corona, and other solar surroundings. In spite of all
precautions for counteracting the tremendous pull of the sun, we were
drawn considerably out of our direct course, so the journey occupied
three days longer than we had anticipated. A large proportion of our
time was spent in the air-chamber, in order to prepare us for breathing
the atmosphere of our native world.
We passed across the orbit of Venus on two occasions, and had a near
view of this splendid planet (and also of Mercury), for many days; but
apart from its larger apparent size and intense brilliancy, we did not
see anything more than we could from the earth with a good telescope.
The dense atmosphere and its glowing light prevented us from seeing any
definite details upon its surface.
Only three days late, we arrived at our home at Norbury on Monday the
21st March 1910, about an hour before daylight. We descended quite
unobserved, and having stowed away our good ship Areonal in its shed
and made all secure, we astonished Mrs. Challen by walking into the
house very soon after she had risen.
She seemed truly delighted to see us back again after our long and
unprecedented voyage through space, and as soon as our greetings were
over she asked, "Where is Mr. Poynders?"
I said we would tell her all the news whilst we had breakfast, so she
bustled about and got the meal ready very quickly. When we sat down she
listened with intense interest to our long story, expressing great
astonishment when I told her about our discovery of Merna upon Mars. I
had tried to keep her from asking about Mr. Poynders, but at length she
questioned me so directly that I was compelled to answer, though I
dreaded the effect the news would have upon her.
So, as gently as I could, I explained that Mr. Poynders, having found
his son a native of Mars, could not risk bringing him to such a climate
as ours, and, as he was unable to leave him, had decided to remain on
Poor Mrs. Challen was so upset upon learning this that she threw up her
hands, exclaiming, "Then I shall never see my dear old master again!"
and putting her handkerchief to her streaming eyes, she hastened out of
the room to conceal her emotion.
I felt very sorry for her, as I knew she had a great respect and liking
for Mr. Poynders, with whom she had been so many years.
During the day I called upon the Professor's solicitors, in accordance
with his instructions, and handed them the letter he had entrusted to
me. They read it with many exclamations of surprise, for the news it
contained was enough to startle even staid lawyers out of their
One of them rang a bell, which was answered by the managing clerk, who
was requested to bring in the sealed packet of papers left by Mr.
Poynders before he went away. This was quickly brought, and, when
opened, found to contain documents settling an annuity of L150 per annum
upon Mrs. Challen, a deed of gift of the sum of L200 to M'Allister, and
another deed settling all the residue of his estate upon his old friend
John Yiewsley Claxton.
There was also a will to the same effect, in case he might die before
the papers were claimed; everything being properly signed and in due
The solicitors both shook hands with me, congratulating me on this
substantial addition to my estate; but I told them I already possessed
sufficient for my wants, and would greatly prefer that Mr. Poynders
should be here to enjoy his own.
I gave them some particulars of our adventures, and we had quite a long
chat; then, taking a cordial leave of them, I returned to Norbury.
I at once acquainted Mrs. Challen with her good fortune, but she was
not to be comforted, saying she would very much rather have her old
master back again; and, as this was exactly my own feeling in the
matter, I expressed agreement with her.
However, she calmed down after a while, and I then asked her to consider
what she would desire to do in the future. If she liked to remain in the
house and look after my welfare, I should be very glad to have her as my
own housekeeper; but said it was entirely for her to decide the matter,
and she could take her own time to do so.
She replied that she had neither relatives nor friends to trouble about,
so there was no need to take any time over it, for she would only be too
pleased to retain her old position, and would do her best to make me
comfortable. I assured her that I had no doubt whatever upon that point;
thus it was all settled there and then, and she has remained with me
My aunt was long since dead, but my two cousins, James and Timothy
Snayleye, lived in London: so I thought I would go over to apprise them
of my return home. They, however, received me so very coldly that,
beyond saying I had been to Mars and back again, and giving a few
details of what we had seen there, I did not tell them very much.
They asked a few questions now and then, but evinced very little
interest in my affairs, though I noticed them frequently exchanging nods
and winks with each other. I soon left, but after such a reception, was
rather surprised when James Snayleye walked into my house the next day
and asked to be allowed to call in a day or two and bring with him a
couple of friends who were interested in Mars, and would like to hear
anything I could tell them. I did not altogether care about discussing
my adventures with entire strangers, but, as he was so very pressing, in
the end I agreed to see them.
When they arrived I was greatly surprised to find that, instead of being
persons of about the same age as my cousin, both were elderly men. One
was introduced to me as Mr. Josias Googery, a Justice of the Peace, and
the other as Dr. Loonem.
We had no sooner sat down than the doctor started the conversation by
asking, in an unctuous tone of voice, several questions about my
trip-"Whether, ah, it was really true that I had, ah, travelled all the
way to Mars and back again in, ah, a vessel of our own construction?"
All the time he was speaking he was performing the operation known as
"washing the hands with invisible soap," a trick which always has an
irritating effect upon my nerves.
In answer to his question I said, "It was quite true that I had been to
Mars," and mentioned a few particulars of our trip.
Mr. Googery then put a few questions to me, and, as I replied, he
interjected after almost every sentence that I spoke, "Ah! h'm, yes,
just so," James Snayleye sitting by all the time with a sneering grin
upon his face which I found very aggravating.
When I had told them as much as I thought necessary, they both started
cross-examining me in such an impertinent and sceptical manner that at
length I became extremely irritated, and declined to answer any more
questions. Whereupon Dr. Loonem proceeded to wash his hands again,
saying in an oily manner, as though addressing a child, "Pray, ah, don't
excite yourself, my dear sir; don't, ah, excite yourself! You know, ah,
it's not good for you!"
This was too much for flesh and blood to bear, so I rose and said that
as I had an important engagement to attend to, I could not spare any
more time that day, at the same time ringing the bell for Mrs. Challen
to show them out.
She did so, and returned in a state of indignation, saying, she did not
like those people at all, they were so rude; and that as they were
passing through the doorway she heard the doctor say, "It's a clear case
enough; did you notice the gleam in his eyes? that alone is sufficient
to settle it!" To this Mr. Googery had replied, "Ah, h'm, yes, just so!"
"Well, Mrs. Challen," I said, "please understand that if either of those
people calls again, I am not at home."
"Certainly, sir," she answered with great alacrity, as she went out of
It was no mere excuse, but perfectly correct, when I told those people I
had an important engagement to attend to. An old friend of mine, Sir
Lockesley Halley, was President of the Dedlingtonian Astronomical
Society, and, after hearing my account of Mars, said he would be very
glad if I could attend the meeting of his Society on the following
evening and give a short address on the subject.
I was rather averse from this, as the Society was not a large one,
though it had several clever men in it, and I knew that the
professionals who controlled it, and also the majority of the members,
prided themselves on being exponents of what they termed "sane and
unsensational astronomy"; which in some cases amounted to saying that
they were a long way behind the times.
It is an interesting fact that we owe a large proportion of our
knowledge of planetary detail to the work of enthusiastic amateur
observers. In this Society, indeed, nearly all the best observational
work was done by the non-professional class; and when, as the result of
their systematic and painstaking work, they noted on their planetary
drawings some lines or markings which had not previously been recorded,
one would have thought their original work would have been commended. It
was, however, not unusual in such cases for a professional to rise and
calmly declare that the new markings were only illusions, such as he had
often predicted would be claimed as discoveries.
Thus the amateurs were kept in their proper places; but the
professionals did not always prove to be correct in their strictures and
In these circumstances, I did not expect much credence to be given to
anything fresh that might be stated in my address, and therefore I
rather demurred to Sir Lockesley's proposal. He, however, made such a
personal matter of it that, as he was an extremely able man and a good
fellow, I at last consented to do as he wished.
M'Allister accompanied me to the meeting and sat among the audience.
After a few introductory remarks from Sir Lockesley, I gave my address,
which lasted about half-an-hour; but it was received even more
chillingly than I had anticipated, and the few comments made by the
members were nearly all indicative of scepticism of my statements and
unbelief in my bona fides. A scientific audience is usually rather
cold and unenthusiastic; but, in the present case, except for one or two
isolated hand-claps, the vote of thanks was allowed to pass sub
silentio. Sir Lockesley, of course, could not help this, and I saw that
he was much annoyed at my reception.
The meeting then split up into groups, lingering here and there to
discuss my statements as they moved toward the door; and M'Allister told
me that, as he stood near a group, he heard one man exclaim, "It's all
arrant nonsense! five minutes with my 12-1/16-inch reflector would
convince any sane man that there are no fine lines to be seen on Mars,
because none exist!" This brought a murmur of assent; then some one else
said, "Well, I certainly see some of the lines with my 7-1/2-inch, but
regard them as illusions"; and he also received some support.
Another man then spoke up, remarking, "My experience does not agree with
yours, gentlemen, for when I used a 6-inch refractor I could see some of
the lines, yet felt doubtful of their actuality; but since I have used a
12-inch reflector my opinion has entirely changed. The lines are visible
whenever the atmospheric conditions are favourable, and are seen with so
much certainty that I have long abandoned my doubts of their
representing real markings!" "Hear, hear!" said several, "and in a
clearer atmosphere you would see still more!"
This was the Martian controversy in a nut-shell: for so much depends
upon individual eyesight, instrumental power, and good atmospheric
conditions. Even the finest instruments fail when observational
conditions are unfavourable!
Many other people to whom I spoke about my trip to Mars exhibited the
same incredulity as those at the meeting. I showed two persons, whom I
thought would be open to conviction, some photographic views in their
natural colours, which I had brought home with me. One of them looked at
the pictures, then handed them to his friend, with the remark: "Clever
fakes, aren't they? you can do almost anything with the camera
Similar opinions were either expressed or implied by others who saw
them, so now I keep all such things to myself.
Two days after the meeting Sir Lockesley called to have a chat with me,
and, whilst we were conversing, Mrs. Challen announced that two men
insisted upon seeing me, although she told them I was engaged.
"Well," I said, "show them into the next room and I will soon dispose of
them"; then asking Sir Lockesley to excuse me a few minutes, I passed
through the folding doors which separated the two rooms.
The men were perfect strangers to me, and clearly not of a class with
which I should care to make acquaintance.
"To what do I owe this visit?" I inquired, as I entered the room.
"Beg pardon, sir," said one of the men, "but we wished to see you on
urgent business, and ask you to come with us. There is a carriage at the
"But who are you, and where do you wish me to go?" I inquired.
He hummed and haa-ed, then said, "A friend desired to see me at once,
and it was only a short journey!"
"Well," I replied, "I am at present engaged with a gentleman, but I must
certainly decline to accompany you at all without further and definite
particulars as to why you wish me to do so."
Then the other man advanced, and said, "As you won't come quietly,
there's no help for it; so just look at these papers and you will see
you must come!"
He showed me several documents, and, on reading them, I was astounded to
find one was an order for my removal to a private lunatic asylum, the
papers being signed by Josias Googery, J.P., and Dr. Loonem; and others
contained statements of the evidences of my insanity, signed by my two
Of course I was furious, and refused to go with them, whereupon they
rushed forward to seize hold of me. I shouted for Sir Lockesley to come
to my assistance, and he at once dashed into the room. The two men,
however, immediately warned him not to interfere, as they were acting in
a perfectly legal manner.
This he had to admit when the matter was fully explained to him; then he
urged me to accept the situation and go quietly, and he would take
immediate action to secure my release.
As it was clearly useless to resist a legalised process, I gave in, and
thus was I, a perfectly sane man, incarcerated in a lunatic asylum!
There I had to remain while Sir Lockesley saw my solicitors,
communicated with the Commissioners in Lunacy and others, and after much
correspondence and innumerable interviews, at last secured my release;
but not until I had endured more than a week's confinement in that
It was all a scheme concocted by my scapegrace cousins to have me
declared insane, and thus secure control of my fortune, they being my
only living relatives. But for Sir Lockesley's presence and influence
their precious plot might have proved quite successful.
I do not attach much blame to the magistrate and doctor, although they
might have exercised more care; but no doubt the Snayleyes had made such
suggestions to them that they were prepared to find insanity in anything
I did or said.
Mrs. Challen, who had been much affected and distressed at my being
carried off in this fashion, was delighted when at last I returned home
safe and sound after my release, and told her the trouble was all over.
M'Allister had intended going on to Glasgow during the previous week,
but had remained at home at Norbury to assist in securing my release;
doing yeoman's service in seeing various people and carrying messages.
When things had quite settled down again he went to Scotland and stayed
with his wife for three weeks.
Upon his return we discussed our future arrangements, and agreed to
become partners for the purpose of securing and working patents for
various machines which we had studied upon Mars; and this has proved a
lucrative business for us, besides supplying our engineers and
manufacturers with greatly improved machinery.
Ever since our return home we have eagerly read all the scientific news
concerning Mars that has been published, for we were anxious to learn
whether there had been any verification of the Professor's forecasts as
to what was likely to be seen from the earth at the opposition of Mars
in 1909. The result is very gratifying to us, not only as proving the
correctness of the Professor's pronouncements, but also as testifying to
the keen-sightedness of some of our astronomers and their carefulness
and accuracy as observers; though, of course, there are still
divergences of opinion as to the meaning of what has been seen.
MARS, AS SEEN THROUGH A 12-INCH TELESCOPE ON 16TH AUGUST, 1909
The south polar snow-cap is seen at the top, and as it is early June on
this part of Mars, the snow-cap has become small. The dark line across
it is a wide rift, the ice having commenced to break up at this part;
and the dark shading round it is water from the melting snow. The
circular light area near the centre is "Hellas," and the dark
wedge-shaped area is "Syrtis Major." The protuberance usually seen on
the eastern side of Syrtis Major has this year almost disappeared, and
but little detail is visible anywhere.]
For instance, M. Antoniadi, of Juvisy Observatory, near Paris, has
published a very interesting account of his own observations with the
fine Meudon refractor, which has an object glass 32.7 inches in
diameter; and he has also furnished several beautifully executed
drawings of what he has seen. The most noticeable new features observed
were two large detached pieces of the south polar snow-cap, the altered
shape of the Solis Lacus and other dark areas, numerous dark rounded
spots on the dark areas, much detail along the lines of the canals, and
the observation of scattered markings instead of lines.
M. Antoniadi lays great stress on the advantages of large telescopes;
and, whilst making frank admission that the drawings of Professor Lowell
show the outlines of the Martian details more accurately than the
drawings of any other observer, he dissents entirely from his views
respecting the actuality of the canal lines.
With regard to M. Antoniadi's observation of dark rounded spots, it has
been suggested by another writer that these are volcanoes, and,
moreover, that the canal lines are really cracks in the solid ice
covering frozen oceans and seas. These contentions involve the
supposition that Mars is still in the stage when volcanic action is
prevalent, and also that what have hitherto been supposed to be desert
lands are really fields of ice. Mars has passed far beyond the stage of
volcanic activity; and the theory does not account for the ochre colour
of the frozen oceans, which are exactly the same colour as our deserts
appear when viewed from a great distance, for the sandstorms so
frequently observed, nor for the general absence of any indications of
frost over a large portion of the Martian surface. It is also very
difficult to imagine the existence of a profuse growth of vegetation
along cracks in solid ice; and I am afraid this theory, like many
others, fails to fit in with the observed facts.
I may remind my readers that the Professor suggested that many more dark
rounded spots would, under favourable conditions, be discovered on the
dark areas of the planet, and he has stated what they are.
As a result of his recent observations, M. Antoniadi has boldly declared
that the supposed canal lines are really separate spots and markings
which, when seen with instruments of lesser power than the one he used,
appear to be lines, the network of canal lines being an illusion. He
contends that the markings he has seen are beyond the power of Professor
Lowell's telescope to resolve, and that what he has seen forms an
unanswerable objection to the canal theory and stops all discussion!
This argument has, however, been fully met in this book by anticipation;
and, as will be seen later on, Professor Lowell completely refutes it
and shows that M. Antoniadi is mistaken. It has also been pointed out
that, if we could secure perfect seeing, the lines might really appear
as separate markings, and that apparent breaks and irregularities are
exactly what we might expect to find in connection with canals. I gather
from a recent remark made by Professor Lowell that he also holds this
Moreover, a discreet silence is observed with regard to the progress of
vegetation on Mars being from the poles towards the equator, instead of
from the equator towards the poles, as is the case on our earth.
This mode of progression can only be accounted for by the flow of water
from the poles, and such flow extending beyond the equator involves the
artificial propulsion of the water, as the flow is contrary to
Professor Lowell's statements as to this peculiar growth of the
vegetation do not depend upon the results of a few casual observations,
for he has given the matter most systematic and prolonged attention, and
noted upon hundreds of charts the dates when the vegetation has first
appeared in various places and latitudes after the passage of the water
down the canals.
This is such a hard nut for the opponents of the canal theory to crack,
that I am quite prepared to learn that all these careful observations
are merely illusions.
Professor Hale, of Mount Wilson Observatory, in California, has taken
some photographs of Mars which do not show any canal lines; and these
have been eagerly seized upon as another proof that the canals have no
Unfortunately, these photographs do not show many well authenticated
details which are seen with comparative ease, nor the new details seen
by M. Antoniadi. It is, therefore, no matter of wonder that they do not
show the much fainter canal lines. If the absence of the canal lines
from the photographs is proof that the canals do not exist, then the
photographs must still more emphatically prove that these much more
conspicuous details-which have been seen and drawn by M. Antoniadi and
scores of other observers-are also illusions and have no objective
existence. Those who seek the support of these photographs for their
views must be left to extricate themselves as best they can from the
dilemma in which they are now placed in regard to the observations and
drawings of those highly skilled observers.
The photographs were taken with a sixty-inch telescope, and possibly
this very large aperture was not stopped down sufficiently to secure on
the photographic plates such very fine detail as the canal lines; on the
other hand, the atmospheric conditions at the moments of exposure of the
plates may have been unfavourable for good definition. However good the
photographs may be, the deductions drawn from them are erroneous.
Against such purely negative evidence-which never affords good ground
for argument-we must set the positive evidence of Professor Lowell's
numerous photographs, which do show many of the canal lines and also
confirm the drawings of observers.
Professor Schiaparelli, who has been appealed to on the subject, still
maintains the objectivity of the canal lines which he was the first to
discover, and repudiates the suggestion that the new photographs supply
any evidence against them. He remarks that during the last thirty years
many other astronomers, using more perfect telescopes than his, have
observed and drawn these canal lines, and have taken photographs which
reproduce an identical disposition of the lines. He adds that a
collective illusion on the part of so many astronomers is impossible,
and that the photographs which do show the canals cannot be illusions.
Professor Lowell controverts M. Antoniadi's claim to have proved that
the lines are non-existent, and that the only markings are small
separate shadings which are illusively seen as lines. He points out that
what M. Antoniadi has seen is exactly what would be seen when using a
very large telescope, and that it indicates poor seeing instead of good
definition. He remarks that when using such large instruments, which are
so much more affected by atmospheric conditions than smaller ones, the
diffraction rings round a star (which should appear as complete
concentric circles) begin to waver, then break up into fragments-a sort
of mosaic-and finally end in an indiscriminate assemblance of points.
In certain kinds of bad seeing the parts may seem quite steady, but the
fact that the mosaic exists is proof positive of poor seeing. What
happens to the rings in such circumstances must also happen to fine
lines! the mosaic effect seen by M. Antoniadi is therefore "the exact
theoretic effect that a large aperture should produce on continuous
lines, such as the canals, and always does produce in the case of the
rings in the image of a star!"
It has been stated that Professor Lowell had admitted the illusory
nature of the canal lines. His reply, however, is emphatic: "I have
never made any retractation as to the reality and geometricism of the
canals; they are marvellous beyond conception, and are only doubted by
those who never observed the planet itself sufficiently well."
Seeing an announcement that Professor Lowell had arrived in England for
the purpose of lecturing on "Planetary Photography" at the Royal
Institution of Great Britain, M'Allister and I made up our minds to be
present at the lecture, a resolution which, I am glad to say, we carried
In the course of his lecture Professor Lowell gave an account of the
methods of planetary photography initiated and carried on with such
success at the Lowell Observatory; and then proceeded to give some
interesting particulars of his observations of Mars at the opposition of
1909, which resulted in one of the most important discoveries ever
recorded in connection with that planet.
He stated that on the 30th September, 1909, when the region of the
desert to the east of Syrtis Major came into view, after its periodic
six weeks' invisibility due to the unequal length of the days of the
earth and Mars, some long new canals were plainly observed which had not
been visible when the region was previously in view. A long and careful
investigation of fifteen years' records proved absolutely that not only
had these canals never been seen before, but that they could not have
existed. They are on a region which is frequently very favourably
situated for observation, and could not possibly have been overlooked,
for they are now the most conspicuous objects on that part of the
planet. It is beyond question that they are not only new to us but new
The two main canals run in a south-easterly direction from Syrtis Major,
and with them are associated two smaller ones and at least two new
oases; while, from their inter-connection, they are all clearly parts of
one and the same addition to the general canal system; for they now fit
in with the system as though they had always formed part of it. These
new canals were not only seen and drawn, but several photographs were
taken at different times.
Consider what this great discovery really means! In a region which has
never been anything but a desert during the whole period over which our
observational knowledge of Mars has extended, there are now strips of
land many hundreds of miles in length and miles wide that have become
fertile almost under our very eyes; and this result has been brought
about by the passage through them of water which has artificially been
carried there for the purpose of irrigation! We know this is so, for
what we see is the growth of vegetation; and the systematic way in which
the new canals have been fitted into the existing canal scheme proves
the artificiality of the whole system.
Some sensational statements in the Press have fostered in many minds the
idea that all these hundreds of miles of new canals were constructed
within the very short period of six weeks! This is altogether wrong. It
is the vegetation that has grown in six weeks, in consequence of the
turning on of the water to the irrigation works. We have good scientific
reasons for believing that irrigation works on Mars could be
accomplished much quicker than on the earth; but, as the telescope does
not enable us to see the works, we do not know how long they may have
taken to construct. It may have been months, or years. We only see the
results of the works when actually in operation.
When we consider these works and their results, surely it becomes
impossible to resist the evidence of intelligent design which they
furnish; while if we also remember the very recent development of these
canals, the existence of life upon Mars at the present time seems to be
demonstrated beyond the possibility of reasonable doubt! In what
physical form that life is enshrined even our science must fail to
reveal. Professor Lowell, however, pointed out that the inhabitants of
Mars are not necessarily human beings, but their work clearly proves
that they are beings endowed with a very high degree of intelligence. A
study of the canal system reveals a marvellous conception marvellously
carried into effect.
Observers at Flagstaff have, therefore, practically seen the completion
of a work which is the creation of intelligent beings on Mars; and in
the remarkable photographs shown we were, so to speak, able to look upon
the results of that work-fertility in a region which had previously
been an arid desert.
The water, as the lecturer remarked, was probably not in all cases
conveyed by means of canals dug out of the soil, but we know that in
some way-whether by canals, or by trunk lines of pipes and smaller
subsidiary pipes, or otherwise-the land has been artificially irrigated
and fertilised by water, which could not possibly have taken the course
it has without being intelligently directed. Tunnelling would be easy on
Professor Lowell spoke of these matters in well-weighed and well-chosen
phrases, which carried conviction of his earnestness and sincerity to
the minds of his hearers; and we observed that the audience was
evidently profoundly impressed by the importance of his statements. This
fact seemed to us very significant, as he was addressing one of the most
brilliant assemblies-representing many branches of science-ever
gathered within the walls of the Royal Institution. The numerous
photographs showing the Martian canal lines were projected on to the
screen by a lantern, and thus their convincing evidence was clearly
brought before the whole of that vast audience.
Another very interesting series of photographs showed the coming and
going of the first frost of the season in the antarctic regions of Mars.
This frost was first observed and photographed at Flagstaff on the 16th
November, 1909, and other photographs were taken on the 22nd of that
In connection with these, Professor Lowell quaintly remarked that, "To
chronicle thus the very weather on our neighbour will convince any one
that interplanetary communication has already commenced; and that, too,
after the usual conventional manner by mundane greetings."
Referring to the photographs, it was pointed out that the human eye can
see at least ten times as much as a photograph can show as regards
planetary detail. This, though not generally known, is perfectly true,
and it may be explained thus: We know that in terrestrial photography
the camera will reveal many details which the eye is apt to overlook;
and, by very long exposures, even celestial photography will give a
similar result. In planetary photography, however, exposures must be
very short, and the picture obtained is so very tiny that it cannot show
all that the eye could see. Under good conditions, therefore, the eye at
the telescope will always see immensely more of the finer details on a
planet than any camera could show.
The great value of the photographs of Mars lies in the fact that they
demonstrate beyond the possibility of doubt the existence of certain
fine markings which many observers have seen and drawn, but as to the
reality of which others, less skilled or less favourably situated, have
been extremely sceptical. If the fine lines had no existence on the
planet they could not be photographed.
In drawing attention to the details on these photographs Professor
Lowell emphatically declared that, "The lines you see are
'certainties,' not matters admitting of the slightest question, for
all their strange regularity. Not only I, but all my assistants, have
seen them thousands of times the same, and sometimes with all the
clearness and sharpness of etchings or steel engravings.
"An optical mistake," he then remarked, "which has latterly been hailed
as showing that the lines were not lines but a series of dots, was made
the other day in France. The observer saw perfectly correctly, but one
with knowledge of the optics of a telescope should have known that the
effect observed was the inevitable result of using an aperture which the
seeing did not warrant; as he could easily have assured himself by
looking at the shattered rings round the synchronous image of a star."
It may here be pointed out that these weighty and well-considered
declarations-which are a complete answer to M. Antoniadi's bold
claim-were made by the most experienced observer of Mars, who, as even
his opponents admit, possesses the finest site in the world for his
astronomical work, and is equipped with a very perfect instrument.
Besides the splendid photographs of Mars, many views of Jupiter and
Saturn were shown, exhibiting clearly numerous fine details, markings,
and wisps as to which much doubt had been expressed when some observers
had shown them on their drawings. These beautiful and convincing results
of the clever and original methods of planetary photography adopted at
Flagstaff appeared to come as a complete revelation to the majority of
those present, notwithstanding their scientific experience.
Probably never before had anything so wonderful as these results of
skill, patience, and prolonged research been exhibited, even in that
great and historic home of science. As Professor Lowell remarked in a
fine peroration: "They exhibited something of the advance recently
achieved in our knowledge of solar science; on the other hand, they
constituted in themselves the beginning of a set of records in which the
future of the planet might be confronted with its achieved past, and
which should endure after those who first conceived such registry had
long passed away.... They were histories of the planets written by
themselves-their autobiographies penned by light; and in their grand
historical portrait-gallery astronomers yet to come might see the
earlier stages of the great cosmic drama which was slowly but surely
working itself out!"
At the conclusion of this most interesting lecture M'Allister turned to
me and said, "How I wish our old friend the Professor could have been
here to-night; he would have keenly appreciated what we have heard."
"Yes, he would indeed," I answered; "but remember, he knows more now
than any one we see here could tell him about Martian matters!"
Before concluding, it may be of interest to state that Professor Lowell
still maintains the accuracy of the discovery made at Flagstaff that the
existence of water vapour on Mars is demonstrated by the photographic
spectrum of the Martian atmosphere; and he asserts that the attempt to
disprove it has failed. A further discovery has since been made at the
same observatory, viz. that oxygen also is present in the atmosphere of
During the observations in 1909 several observers noted that, at times,
very large areas on the surface of Mars had been so obscured by a
yellowish veiling that all details were entirely blotted out. The
announcement of this fact gave rise to sensational statements that a
terrible catastrophe had occurred on the planet. The explanation is,
however, very simple-seasonal mists arising from the canals, with the
addition of clouds of sand particles in the upper air, as the result of
desert sandstorms, caused a temporary obscuration of certain parts of
the planet as viewed from the earth. Only this, and nothing more!
We have been interested to note that an English observer, the Rev.
Theodore E.R. Phillips, has observed some new details on Mars in the
region where the new canals were discovered. Mr. Phillips has in past
years given considerable attention to this region, and observed several
changes in the Lacus Moeris, to the east of Syrtis Major. The lake
disappeared altogether for some considerable time, then reappeared. Last
September he saw it again, and it was evident some further changes had
occurred; and he also saw some dusky shadings on the adjacent desert of
Lybia. There seems little doubt but that he actually saw, though
imperfectly, the new canals which Professor Lowell's much clearer
atmosphere and larger instrument enabled him to see clearly.
From what has been related in the last few pages it will be seen that
many of the forecasts, as set forth in this book by our old friend the
Professor, and his statements as to the Martians being actively engaged
in altering, extending, and developing their canal system, have been
amply verified by the observations of our astronomers; and I am
confident that his other prognostications will also be fulfilled in
course of time.
Turning now from scientific matters to others affecting ourselves
personally, I may say that I have heard nothing more of my cousins the
Snayleyes; and, after the failure of their mean attempt upon my liberty
and fortune, it is not likely that I shall again be troubled by them,
for they will naturally take good care to keep out of my way.
As the days and weeks pass by I often think of those we left behind upon
that far distant world: wondering how they are faring, and whether they
have attempted to transmit any influences or communications to us, for
up to the present we have not been conscious of any such influences.
Kenneth M'Allister is a thoroughly happy man, as he is working for his
own benefit, congenially and fully occupied with matters connected with
his beloved machinery. He is on the high road to making a very large
fortune; indeed, we are both doing remarkably well, and are, therefore,
able to give financial aid to many projects in which we are interested,
having for their objects the uplifting of the people, and the
improvement of social conditions generally. It was only yesterday that
M'Allister remarked to me, "Heh, mon, if we continue to go ahead at the
same rate as we are going now, we shall both be millionaires before very
Yes, we are doing well-there is no doubt about that; but,
notwithstanding my present very satisfactory circumstances and the
certainty of a brilliant future if I stay here, ideas have long and
persistently been running in my mind that it would be far better for me
to go back to Mars, and-by Jove! strange indeed that I never thought of
it before!-perhaps those very persistent ideas are actually the outcome
of Martian influences!!
The wonderful music I heard upon Mars still rings in my ears; and, at
times, so thrilling and peculiar is its effect upon me, that I feel as
though I were being almost irresistibly impelled to return to that
planet. Well, I should very much like to see the dear old Professor and
Merna again, and also my many Martian friends. Then there's Siloni, whom
I can never forget, for mentally her image is ever before me. What a
nice girl she was! If I were to return to Mars, I wonder whether--?
Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO Edinburgh & London
 The exact diameters of the planets are difficult to measure owing to
irradiation, and estimates of various authorities differ, especially
with regard to the more distant planets.
 Most probably the larger planets possess satellites which have yet
to be discovered.
 It is not yet ascertained with certainty whether Mercury and Venus
rotate in about twenty-four hours, or whether the period is the same as
that of their revolution round the sun. The evidence seems to point to
the latter period.
 The "terminator" is the boundary between the lighted and the dark
portion of the disc.
 Those who have seen the undercliff in the Isle of Wight will be able
to form some idea of the terraces of the lunar ring-mountains, as they
are very similar formations.
 This is the case as regards separate satellites; but it may be
pointed out that a similar thing must occur in regard to the rings of
Saturn. The rings are composed of swarms of satellites so small that
they can only be termed particles, and these particles at the inner edge
of the "crape ring" revolve round Saturn in 5 hours and 33 minutes, the
inner edge of the ring being only about 47,000 miles from the centre of
the planet. The planet itself revolves on its axis in 10-1/4 hours.
Thus, an immense number of these minute satellites must revolve round
the planet in less time than it takes the planet to make one rotation.
It is calculated that the particles in the outer edge of the next ring
complete one revolution round the planet in 14 hours and 28 seconds.
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