Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/199

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counts for their not being found on earth by modern explorers.

With due mental reservation as to their meaning, I have adopted Schiaparelli's names, and, where it has been necessary to name newly discovered canals, have conformed as closely as possible to his general scheme. If, even in an instance or two, I have hit upon names that are incomprehensible, I shall feel that I have not disgraced my illustrious predecessor. For a brand-new thing no name is so good as one whose meaning nobody knows, except one that has no meaning at all. In that case the name not only is becoming but actually becomes the thing.

These names will be found affixed to their respective canals in the map at the end of the book, a map made upon what is called Mercator's projection. Mercator's projection I take to have been primarily an invention of the devil, although commonly credited to Mercator. It is not simple to construct and for popular purposes is eminently deceitful. It is intended for those at sea, whom we pray for on Sundays. It is certainly calculated to put any one entirely at sea who attempts to learn geography by means of it. Its object is to enable such as wish to do so to sail upon rhumb lines, a rhumb line upon a sphere being one which never changes its direction,—one, for example, which runs perpetually north-east one quarter east, or south half west.