Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/397

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AREOGRAPHY.

Schiaparelli himself was the only person who perceived any relationship between the two, and that after the fact.

Unmoved by the universal scepticism which rewarded his epoch making discovery, Schiaparelli went on, in the judgment of his critics, from bad to worse—for in 1879 (Map VI.) he took up again his scrutiny of the planet to the detecting of yet further peculiarity. He re-observed most of his old canals and discovered half as many more. But the striking part of the affair is something which does not seem to have attracted attention—the increased unnatural look of his lines. Lost in the general incredulity a little bizarreness more or less escaped significant criticism. It was all so strange that any change in strangeness simply went to confirm the universal skepticism.

In 1881-2 (Map VII.) he attacked the planet again and with results yet farther out of the common. His lines were still there with more beside, but the startling thing about them was their appearance. If they had looked strange before, they now appeared positively unnatural. The things were simply fine, narrow, uniform, straight lines sometimes alone, sometimes astoundingly paired, but, however associated, geometrical to a degree. As he himself expressed it, they seemed as if drawn by rule and compass, these absolutely regular lines connecting one dark marking with another.

In 1883-4 (Map VIII.) the same thing occurred. An unnatural precision distinguished all his 'canali' To add to the difficulty of acceptance, as in 1882, they followed arcs of great circles, and were in every respect markings of a highly suspicious cast of character. Nor did his exclusive perception of them conduce in astronomic estimation to the assurance of their objective existence.

The map compiled from the observations of 1883-4 was the last made by Schiaparelli of the whole planet. In subsequent oppositions the south pole was so tilted away from the earth that only the regions of the northern hemisphere were well seen and in consequence charted. But the omissions are not material to the present purpose, for the character of the charting remains substantially the same.

As will have been gathered from the above description, the factitious appearance of the 'canals' was the chief bar to their acceptance. That they looked inconceivable argued their conception in the brain of the observer alone. An inference, this, not without a certain justification in the inability of others to follow in his steps. But one point contained in the charts failed of making its impression. If we compare with special reference to the unnaturalness of the lines the several maps of the series with one another we shall be aware of a progressive increase in regularity in the physiognomy of the canals with the time. Schiaparelli's map of 1877 viewed in the light of his subsequent productions seems but a tame bit of innovation after all. His canals as he saw them