The First Men in the Moon – Day 81 of 82

“A tide of twittering and piping swept into the remotest corners of that great assembly then it was last made clear that we men know absolutely nothing of the contents of the world upon which the immemorial generations of our ancestors had been evolved. Three times had I to repeat that of all the 4000 miles of distance between the earth and its centre men knew only to the depth of a mile, and that very vaguely. I understood the Grand Lunar to ask why had I come to the moon seeing we had scarcely touched our own planet yet, but he did not trouble me at that time to proceed to an explanation, being too anxious to pursue the details of this mad inversion of all his ideas.

“He reverted to the question of weather, and I tried to describe the perpetually changing sky, and snow, and frost and hurricanes. ‘But when the night comes,’ he asked, ‘is it not cold?’

“I told him it was colder than by day.

“‘And does not your atmosphere freeze?’

“I told him not; that it was never cold enough for that, because our nights were so short.

“‘Not even liquefy?’

“I was about to say ‘No,’ but then it occurred to me that one part at least of our atmosphere, the water vapour of it, does sometimes liquefy and form dew, and sometimes freeze and form frost–a process perfectly analogous to the freezing of all the external atmosphere of the moon during its longer night. I made myself clear on this point, and from that the Grand Lunar went on to speak with me of sleep. For the need of sleep that comes so regularly every twenty-four hours to all things is part also of our earthly inheritance. On the moon they rest only at rare intervals, and after exceptional exertions. Then I tried to describe to him the soft splendours of a summer night, and from that I passed to a description of those animals that prowl by night and sleep by day. I told him of lions and tigers, and here it seemed as though we had come to a deadlock. For, save in their waters, there are no creatures in the moon not absolutely domestic and subject to his will, and so it has been for immemorial years. They have monstrous water creatures, but no evil beasts, and the idea of anything strong and large existing ‘outside’ in the night is very difficult for them….”

[The record is here too broken to transcribe for the space of perhaps twenty words or more.]

“He talked with his attendants, as I suppose, upon the strange superficiality and unreasonableness of (man) who lives on the mere surface of a world, a creature of waves and winds, and all the chances of space, who cannot even unite to overcome the beasts that prey upon his kind, and yet who dares to invade another planet. During this aside I sat thinking, and then at his desire I told him of the different sorts of men. He searched me with questions. ‘And for all sorts of work you have the same sort of men. But who thinks? Who governs?’

“I gave him an outline of the democratic method.

“When I had done he ordered cooling sprays upon his brow, and then requested me to repeat my explanation conceiving something had miscarried.

“‘Do they not do different things, then?’ said Phi-oo.

“Some, I admitted, were thinkers and some officials; some hunted, some were mechanics, some artists, some toilers. ‘But all rule,’ I said.

“‘And have they not different shapes to fit them to their different duties?’

“‘None that you can see,’ I said, ‘except perhaps, for clothes. Their minds perhaps differ a little,’ I reflected.

“‘Their minds must differ a great deal,’ said the Grand Lunar, ‘or they would all want to do the same things.’

“In order to bring myself into a closer harmony with his preconceptions, I said that his surmise was right. ‘It was all hidden in the brain,’ I said; ‘but the difference was there. Perhaps if one could see the minds and souls of men they would be as varied and unequal as the Selenites. There were great men and small men, men who could reach out far and wide, men who could go swiftly; noisy, trumpet-minded men, and men who could remember without thinking….'”

[The record is indistinct for three words.]

“He interrupted me to recall me to my previous statements. ‘But you said all men rule?’ he pressed.

“‘To a certain extent,’ I said, and made, I fear, a denser fog with my explanation.

“He reached out to a salient fact. ‘Do you mean,’ asked, ‘that there is no Grand Earthly?’

“I thought of several people, but assured him finally there was none. I explained that such autocrats and emperors as we had tried upon earth had usually ended in drink, or vice, or violence, and that the large and influential section of the people of the earth to which I belonged, the Anglo-Saxons, did not mean to try that sort of thing again. At which the Grand Lunar was even more amazed.

“‘But how do you keep even such wisdom as you have?’ he asked; and I explained to him the way we helped our limited”

[A word omitted here, probably “brains.”]

“with libraries of books. I explained to him how our science was growing by the united labours of innumerable little men, and on that he made no comment save that it was evident we had mastered much in spite of our social savagery, or we could not have come to the moon. Yet the contrast was very marked. With knowledge the Selenites grew and changed; mankind stored their knowledge about them and remained brutes–equipped. He said this…”

[Here there is a short piece of the record indistinct.]

“He then caused me to describe how we went about this earth of ours, and I described to him our railways and ships. For a time he could not understand that we had had the use of steam only one hundred years, but when he did he was clearly amazed. (I may mention as a singular thing, that the Selenites use years to count by, just as we do on earth, though I can make nothing of their numeral system. That, however, does not matter, because Phi-oo understands ours.) From that I went on to tell him that mankind had dwelt in cities only for nine or ten thousand years, and that we were still not united in one brotherhood, but under many different forms of government. This astonished the Grand Lunar very much, when it was made clear to him. At first he thought we referred merely to administrative areas.

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