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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/308

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

circumstances with great care for some years. I must be permitted to say that, having carefully studied what Mr. Lowell has set forth, and having tested his facts and figures in every way in my power, most astronomers have come to the conclusion that, however astonishing his observations may seem to be, we can not refuse to accept them.

No one has ever seen inhabitants on Mars, but Mr. Percival Lowell and one or two other equally favored observers have seen features on that planet which, so far as our experience goes, can be explained in no other way than by supposing that they were made by an intelligent designer for an intelligent purpose. Mr. Lowell has discovered that there are certain operations in progress on the surface of Mars which, if we met with on this earth, we should certainly conclude, without the slightest hesitation, were the result of operations conducted under what we consider rational guidance.

A river, as Nature has made it, wends its way to and fro; it never takes the shortest route from one point to another; the width of the river is incessantly changing; sometimes it expands into a lake, sometimes it divides so as to inclose an island. If we could discern through our telescopes a winding line such as I have described on Mars it might perhaps represent a river.

But suppose, instead of a winding line, there was a perfectly straight line, or rather a great circle on the globe drawn as straight as a surveyor could lay it out—if we beheld an object like that on Mars I think we should certainly infer that it was not a river made in the ordinary course of natural operations; no natural river ever runs in that regular fashion. If such a straight line were indeed a river, then it must have been designedly straightened by human agency or by some other intelligent agency for some particular purpose. In its larger features Nature does not work by straight lines. A long and perfectly straight object, if found on our earth, might be a canal or it might be a road; it might be a railway or a terrace of some kind; but assuredly no one would expect it to be a natural object.

We have the testimony of Schiaparelli, now strengthened by that of Mr. Lowell and his assistants, that there are many straight lines of this kind on Mars. They appear to be just as straight as a railway would have to be if laid across the flat and boundless prairie, where the engineer encountered no obstacle whatever to make him swerve from the direct path. These lines on Mars run for hundreds of miles, sometimes, indeed, I should say for thousands of miles. They are far wider than any terrestrial river, except perhaps the Amazon for a short part of its course. The lines on Mars are about forty miles wide. Indeed, the planet is so distant