Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/198

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142
MARS

particularization. To know, therefore, what part of the planet anybody means when he mentions it, one has to keep in his head enough names for five worlds. To cap which, it is to be remarked that not one of them is the thing's real—that is, its Martian—name, after all!

Fortunately, with the canals, matters are not so desperate, because so few people have seen them. Schiaparelli's monopoly of the sight pleasingly prevented, in their case, christening competition. What is more, he named them, very judiciously and most picturesquely, after mythologic river names. Where he got his names is another matter. Whether he started by being as learned in such lore as he afterward became may well be doubted. Certainly, one of the greatest discoveries made at Flagstaff has been the discovery of the meaning of Schiaparelli's names; some of them still defying the penetrating power of the ordinary encyclopaedia. Among them are classical mythologic ones of the class known only to that himself mythical character, Macaulay's every school boy; which speaks conclusively for their reconditeness. Others, I firmly believe, even that omniscient schoolboy can never have heard of. Want of space here precludes instances; but as a simple example I may say that the translation to Mars of the Phison and the Gihon, the two lost rivers of Mesopotamia, satisfactorily ac-