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The War of the Worlds
by H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells

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I cannot but regret, now that I am concluding my story,

how little I am able to contribute to the discussion of the

many debatable questions which are still unsettled. In one

respect I shall certainly provoke criticism. My particular

province is speculative philosophy. My knowledge of com-

parative physiology is confined to a book or two, but it

seems to me that Carver's suggestions as to the reason of

the rapid death of the Martians is so probable as to be

regarded almost as a proven conclusion. I have assumed

that in the body of my narrative.

At any rate, in all the bodies of the Martians that were

examined after the war, no bacteria except those already

known as terrestrial species were found. That they did not

bury any of their dead, and the reckless slaughter they per-

petrated, point also to an entire ignorance of the putrefactive

process. But probable as this seems, it is by no means a

proven conclusion.

Neither is the composition of the Black Smoke known,

which the Martians used with such deadly effect, and the

generator of the Heat-Rays remains a puzzle. The terrible

disasters at the Ealing and South Kensington laboratories

have disinclined analysts for further investigations upon

the latter. Spectrum analysis of the black powder points

unmistakably to the presence of an unknown element with

a brilliant group of three lines in the green, and it is pos-

sible that it combines with argon to form a compound

which acts at once with deadly effect upon some constituent

in the blood. But such unproven speculations will scarcely

be of interest to the general reader, to whom this story is

addressed. None of the brown scum that drifted down the

Thames after the destruction of Shepperton was examined

at the time, and now none is forthcoming.

The results of an anatomical examination of the Martians,

so far as the prowling dogs had left such an examination

possible, I have already given. But everyone is familiar with

the magnificent and almost complete specimen in spirits at

the Natural History Museum, and the countless drawings

that have been made from it; and beyond that the interest

of their physiology and structure is purely scientific.

A question of graver and universal interest is the possi-

bility of another attack from the Martians. I do not think

that nearly enough attention is being given to this aspect

of the matter. At present the planet Mars is in conjunction,

but with every return to opposition I, for one, anticipate

a renewal of their adventure. In any case, we should be

prepared. It seems to me that it should be possible to define

the position of the gun from which the shots are discharged,

to keep a sustained watch upon this part of the planet, and

to anticipate the arrival of the next attack.

In that case the cylinder might be destroyed with dyna-

mite or artillery before it was sufficiently cool for the Mar-

tians to emerge, or they might be butchered by means of

guns so soon as the screw opened. It seems to me that they

have lost a vast advantage in the failure of their first

surprise. Possibly they see it in the same light.

Lessing has advanced excellent reasons for supposing that

the Martians have actually succeeded in effecting a landing

on the planet Venus. Seven months ago now, Venus and

Mars were in alignment with the sun; that is to say, Mars

was in opposition from the point of view of an observer on

Venus. Subsequently a peculiar luminous and sinuous mark-

ing appeared on the unillumined half of the inner planet,

and almost simultaneously a faint dark mark of a similar

sinuous character was detected upon a photograph of the

Martian disk. One needs to see the drawings of these ap-

pearances in order to appreciate fully their remarkable

resemblance in character.

At any rate, whether we expect another invasion or not,

our views of the human future must be greatly modified

by these events. We have learned now that we cannot regard

this planet as being fenced in and a secure abiding place for

Man; we can never anticipate the unseen good or evil that

may come upon us suddenly out of space. It may be that in

the larger design of the universe this invasion from Mars

is not without its ultimate benefit for men; it has robbed

us of that serene confidence in the future which is the most

fruitful source of decadence, the gifts to human science it

has brought are enormous, and it has done much to promote

the conception of the commonweal of mankind. It may be

that across the immensity of space the Martians have watched

the fate of these pioneers of theirs and learned their lesson,

and that on the planet Venus they have found a securer

settlement. Be that as it may, for many years yet there will

certainly be no relaxation of the eager scrutiny of the Martian

disk, and those fiery darts of the sky, the shooting stars, will

bring with them as they fall an unavoidable apprehension to

all the sons of men.

The broadening of men's views that has resulted can

scarcely be exaggerated. Before the cylinder fell there was

a general persuasion that through all the deep of space no

life existed beyond the petty surface of our minute sphere.

Now we see further. If the Martians can reach Venus, there

is no reason to suppose that the thing is impossible for men,

and when the slow cooling of the sun makes this earth

uninhabitable, as at last it must do, it may be that the thread

of life that has begun here will have streamed out and caught

our sister planet within its toils.

Dim and wonderful is the vision I have conjured up in

my mind of life spreading slowly from this little seed bed

of the solar system throughout the inanimate vastness of

sidereal space. But that is a remote dream. It may be, on

the other hand, that the destruction of the Martians is only

a reprieve. To them, and not to us, perhaps, is the future


I must confess the stress and danger of the time have left

an abiding sense of doubt and insecurity in my mind. I sit

in my study writing by lamplight, and suddenly I see again

the healing valley below set with writhing flames, and feel

the house behind and about me empty and desolate. I go

out into the Byfleet Road, and vehicles pass me, a butcher

boy in a cart, a cabful of visitors, a workman on a bicycle,

children going to school, and suddenly they become vague

and unreal, and I hurry again with the artilleryman through

the hot, brooding silence. Of a night I see the black powder

darkening the silent streets, and the contorted bodies

shrouded in that layer; they rise upon me tattered and

dog-bitten. They gibber and grow fiercer, paler, uglier, mad

distortions of humanity at last, and I wake, cold and wretched,

in the darkness of the night.

I go to London and see the busy multitudes in Fleet

Street and the Strand, and it comes across my mind that

they are but the ghosts of the past, haunting the streets that

I have seen silent and wretched, going to and fro, phan-

tasms in a dead city, the mockery of life in a galvanised

body. And strange, too, it is to stand on Primrose Hill, as

I did but a day before writing this last chapter, to see the

great province of houses, dim and blue through the haze

of the smoke and mist, vanishing at last into the vague

lower sky, to see the people walking to and fro among the

flower beds on the hill, to see the sight-seers about the Mar-

tian machine that stands there still, to hear the tumult of

playing children, and to recall the time when I saw it all

bright and clear-cut, hard and silent, under the dawn of

that last great day. . . .

And strangest of all is it to hold my wife's hand again,

and to think that I have counted her, and that she has

counted me, among the dead.



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