Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/206

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that is, the lack of absolute uniformity is comparable to the uniformity itself, and not of the negligible second order of unimportance. In fact, it is by the very presence of uniformity and precision that we suspect things of artificiality. It was the mathematical shape of the Ohio mounds that suggested mound-builders; and so with the thousand objects of every-day life. Too great regularity is in itself the most suspicious of circumstances that some finite intelligence has been at work.

If it be asked how, in the case of a body so far off as Mars, we can assert sufficient precision to imply artificiality, the answer is twofold: first, that the better we see these lines, the more regular they look; and, second, that the eye is quicker to perceive irregularity than we commonly note. It is indeed surprising to find what small irregularities will shock the eye.

The third count is, if possible, yet more conclusive. That the lines form a system; that, instead of running any whither, they join certain points to certain others, making thus, not a simple network, but one whose meshes connect centres directly with one another,—is striking at first sight, and loses none of its peculiarity on second thought. For the intrinsic improbability of such a state of things arising from purely natural causes becomes evident on a moment's consideration.