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Chapter 10 The Epilogue

  • I cannot but regret, now that I am concluding my story, how little I am abl_o contribute to the discussion of the many debatable questions which ar_till unsettled. In one respect I shall certainly provoke criticism. M_articular province is speculative philosophy. My knowledge of comparativ_hysiology is confined to a book or two, but it seems to me that Carver'_uggestions as to the reason of the rapid death of the Martians is so probabl_s to be regarded almost as a proven conclusion. I have assumed that in th_ody of my narrative.
  • At any rate, in all the bodies of the Martians that were examined after th_ar, no bacteria except those already known as terrestrial species were found.
  • That they did not bury any of their dead, and the reckless slaughter the_erpetrated, point also to an entire ignorance of the putrefactive process.
  • But probable as this seems, it is by no means a proven conclusion.
  • Neither is the composition of the Black Smoke known, which the Martians use_ith such deadly effect, and the generator of the Heat- Rays remains a puzzle.
  • The terrible disasters at the Ealing and South Kensington laboratories hav_isinclined analysts for further investigations upon the latter. Spectru_nalysis of the black powder points unmistakably to the presence of an unknow_lement with a brilliant group of three lines in the green, and it is possibl_hat it combines with argon to form a compound which acts at once with deadl_ffect upon some constituent in the blood. But such unproven speculations wil_carcely be of interest to the general reader, to whom this story i_ddressed. None of the brown scum that drifted down the Thames after th_estruction of Shepperton was examined at the time, and now none i_orthcoming.
  • The results of an anatomical examination of the Martians, so far as th_rowling dogs had left such an examination possible, I have already given. Bu_veryone is familiar with the magnificent and almost complete specimen i_pirits at the Natural History Museum, and the countless drawings that hav_een made from it; and beyond that the interest of their physiology an_tructure is purely scientific.
  • A question of graver and universal interest is the possibility of anothe_ttack from the Martians. I do not think that nearly enough attention is bein_iven to this aspect of the matter. At present the planet Mars is i_onjunction, but with every return to opposition I, for one, anticipate _enewal of their adventure. In any case, we should be prepared. It seems to m_hat it should be possible to define the position of the gun from which th_hots are discharged, to keep a sustained watch upon this part of the planet,
  • and to anticipate the arrival of the next attack.
  • In that case the cylinder might be destroyed with dynamite or artillery befor_t was sufficiently cool for the Martians to emerge, or they might b_utchered by means of guns so soon as the screw opened. It seems to me tha_hey have lost a vast advantage in the failure of their first surprise.
  • Possibly they see it in the same light.
  • Lessing has advanced excellent reasons for supposing that the Martians hav_ctually succeeded in effecting a landing on the planet Venus. Seven month_go now, Venus and Mars were in alignment with the sun; that is to say, Mar_as in opposition from the point of view of an observer on Venus. Subsequentl_ peculiar luminous and sinuous marking appeared on the unillumined half o_he inner planet, and almost simultaneously a faint dark mark of a simila_inuous character was detected upon a photograph of the Martian disk. On_eeds to see the drawings of these appearances in order to appreciate full_heir remarkable resemblance in character.
  • At any rate, whether we expect another invasion or not, our views of the huma_uture must be greatly modified by these events. We have learned now that w_annot regard this planet as being fenced in and a secure abiding place fo_an; we can never anticipate the unseen good or evil that may come upon u_uddenly out of space. It may be that in the larger design of the univers_his invasion from Mars is not without its ultimate benefit for men; it ha_obbed us of that serene confidence in the future which is the most fruitfu_ource of decadence, the gifts to human science it has brought are enormous,
  • and it has done much to promote the conception of the commonweal of mankind.
  • It may be that across the immensity of space the Martians have watched th_ate of these pioneers of theirs and learned their lesson, and that on th_lanet Venus they have found a securer settlement. Be that as it may, for man_ears yet there will certainly be no relaxation of the eager scrutiny of th_artian disk, and those fiery darts of the sky, the shooting stars, will brin_ith them as they fall an unavoidable apprehension to all the sons of men.
  • The broadening of men's views that has resulted can scarcely be exaggerated.
  • Before the cylinder fell there was a general persuasion that through all th_eep of space no life existed beyond the petty surface of our minute sphere.
  • Now we see further. If the Martians can reach Venus, there is no reason t_uppose that the thing is impossible for men, and when the slow cooling of th_un makes this earth uninhabitable, as at last it must do, it may be that th_hread of life that has begun here will have streamed out and caught ou_ister planet within its toils.
  • Dim and wonderful is the vision I have conjured up in my mind of lif_preading slowly from this little seed bed of the solar system throughout th_nanimate vastness of sidereal space. But that is a remote dream. It may be,
  • on the other hand, that the destruction of the Martians is only a reprieve. T_hem, and not to us, perhaps, is the future ordained.
  • I must confess the stress and danger of the time have left an abiding sense o_oubt and insecurity in my mind. I sit in my study writing by lamplight, an_uddenly I see again the healing valley below set with writhing flames, an_eel the house behind and about me empty and desolate. I go out into th_yfleet Road, and vehicles pass me, a butcher boy in a cart, a cabful o_isitors, a workman on a bicycle, children going to school, and suddenly the_ecome vague and unreal, and I hurry again with the artilleryman through th_ot, brooding silence. Of a night I see the black powder darkening the silen_treets, and the contorted bodies shrouded in that layer; they rise upon m_attered and dog-bitten. They gibber and grow fiercer, paler, uglier, ma_istortions of humanity at last, and I wake, cold and wretched, in th_arkness of the night.
  • I go to London and see the busy multitudes in Fleet Street and the Strand, an_t comes across my mind that they are but the ghosts of the past, haunting th_treets that I have seen silent and wretched, going to and fro, phantasms in _ead city, the mockery of life in a galvanised body. And strange, too, it i_o stand on Primrose Hill, as I did but a day before writing this las_hapter, to see the great province of houses, dim and blue through the haze o_he smoke and mist, vanishing at last into the vague lower sky, to see th_eople walking to and fro among the flower beds on the hill, to see the sight-
  • seers about the Martian machine that stands there still, to hear the tumult o_laying children, and to recall the time when I saw it all bright and clear-
  • cut, hard and silent, under the dawn of that last great day…
  • And strangest of all is it to hold my wife's hand again, and to think that _ave counted her, and that she has counted me, among the dead.