Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/223

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165
DEVELOPMENT

explanation which accounts for this delay. Now, when we do so, we find that the explanation advanced above for the blue-green areas explains also the canals, namely, that what we see in both is, not water, but vegetation; for if the darkening be due to vegetation, time must elapse between the advent of the water and its perceptible effects,—time sufficient for the flora to sprout. If, therefore, we suppose what we call a canal to be, not the canal proper, but the vegetation along its banks, the observed phenomena stand accounted for. This suggestion was first made some years ago by Professor W. H. Pickering.

That what we see is not the canal proper, but the line of land it irrigates, disposes incidentally of the difficulty of conceiving a canal several miles wide. On the other hand, a narrow, fertilized strip of country is what we should expect to find; for, as we have seen, the general physical condition of the planet leads us to the conception, not of canals constructed for waterways,—like our Suez Canal,—but of canals dug for irrigation purposes. We cannot, of course, be sure that such is their character, appearances being often highly deceitful; we can only say that, so far, the supposition best explains what we see. Further details of their development point to this same conclusion.

In emerging from invisibility into evidence,