1911: Mars and its Inhabitants

MARS AND ITS INHABITANTS

(Note: The following are supposedly details of life on Mars as reported by clairvoyant Charles W. Leadbeater of the Theosophical Society when he astral journeyed to Mars about a hundred years ago.)

 Charles W. Leadbeater wrote in the book Inner Life (published 1911):

 The present condition of the planet Mars is by no means unpleasant. It is a smaller planet than the Earth and more advanced in age. I do not mean that it is actually older in years, for the whole chain of worlds came into existence-not simultaneously indeed -but within a certain definite area of time. But being smaller it lives its life as a planet more quickly. It cooled more rapidly from the nebulous condition, and it has passed through its other stages with corresponding celerity.

When humanity occupied it in the third round it was in much the same condition as is the Earth at the present time-that is to say, there was much more water than land on its surface. Now it has passed into comparative old age, and the water surface is far less than that of the land. Large areas of it are at present desert, covered with a bright orange sand which gives the planet the peculiar hue by which we so readily recognize it. Like that of many of our own deserts, the soil is Probable fertile enough if the great irrigation s ystem were extended to it, as it no doubt would have been if humanity had remained upon it until now.

The present population, consisting practically of members of the inner round, is but a small one, and they find plenty of room for themselves to live without great effort, in the equatorial lands, where the temperature is highest and there is no difficulty as to water. The great system of canals which has been observed by terrestrial astronomers was constructed by the second order of moon-men when they last occupied the planet, and its general scheme is to take advantage of the annual melting of enormous ma sses of ice at the outer fringe of the polar snow-caps. It has been observed that some of the canals are double, but the double line is only occasionally apparent; that is due to the fore-thought of the Martian engineers. The country is on the whole level, and they had great dread of inundations; and wherever they thought that there was reason to fear too great an outrush of water under exceptional circumstances the second parallel ‘canal was constructed to receive any possible overflow and carry it away safely.

 The actual canals themselves are not visible to terrestrial telescopes; what is seen is the belt of verdure which appears in a tract of country on each side of the canal only at the time when the water pours in. Just as Egypt exists only because of the Nile, so do

 large districts on Mars exist only because of these canals. From each side of them radiate at intervals waterways, which run some miles into the surrounding country and are then subdivided into thousands of tiny streamlets, so that a strip of country a hundred miles in width is thoroughly irrigated. In this area are forests and cultivated fields, and vegetation of all sorts starts forth in the greatest profusion, making upon the surface of the planet a dark belt which is visible to us even forty million miles away when the planet is at its nearest and favourably situated.

 Mars is much farther from the centre of the system than we are, and consequently the sun appears to its inhabitants scarcely more than half the size that it does to us. Nevertheless the climate of the inhabited portions of the planet is very good, the temperature during the day at the equator being usually-about 701 Fahrenheit, though there are not many nights in the year when there is not a touch of frost. Clouds are almost unknown, the sky being for most of the year entirely clear. The country is therefore to a large extent free from the unpleasantness of rain or snow. The Martian day is a few minutes longer than our own and their year is nearly twice as long as ours, and the variation of the seasons in the inhabited part is but slight.

 In physical appearance the Martians are not unlike ourselves, except that they are considerably smaller. The tallest men are not above five feet in height and the majority are two or three inches shorter.

According to our ideas they are somewhat broad in proportion, having very great chest capacity – a fact which may possibly be due to the rarity of the air and the consequent necessity of deep breathing in order fully to oxygenate the blood. The whole civilised population of Mars is one race, and there is p ractically no difference in features or complexion, except that, just as among ourselves, there are blondes and brunettes, some of the people having a faintly yellowish skin and- black hair, while the majority have yellow hair and blue or violet eyes — somewhat Norwegian in appearance- They dress mostly in brilliant colours, and both sexes wear an almost shapeless garment of some very soft material. which falls straight from the shoulders down to the feet. Generally the fee t are bare, though they sometimes use a sort of metal sandal or slipper, with a thong round the ankle.

 They are very fond of flowers, of which there is a great variety, and their towns are built on the general plan of the garden-city, the houses usually being one storeyed only, but built round inner courtyards and straggling over a great deal of ground. These houses look exteriorly as though built of coloured glass, and indeed the material which is used is transparent, but it is somehow so fluted that while the persons inside enjoy an almost unimpeded view of their gardens, no one from outside can see what is going on in the house.

 The bouses are not built up in blocks, but the material is melted and poured into moulds; if a house is to be built, a sort of double mould of it is first made in metal faced with cement, and then the curious

 glasslike substance is melted and poured into this mould, and when it is cold and hardened the moulds are taken away, and the house is finished except for a certain amount of polishing of the surface. The doors are not exactly like ours, since they have no hinges or bolts, and are opened and shut by tr eading on certain spots in the ground, either without or within. They do not swing on hinges, but run back into the wall on each side. All these doors and all furniture and fittings are of metal. Wood seems to be used scarcely at all.

There is only one language in -use over the whole planet, except for the few savage tribes, and this language, like everything in their world, has not grown up as ours have done, but has been constructed in order to save time and trouble. It has been simplified to the, last possible extent, and it has no irregularities of any sort. They have two methods of recording their thoughts. One is to speak into a small box with a mouthpiece on one side of it, something like that Of a telephone. Each word so spoken is by the mechanism expressed as a kind of complicated sign upon a little plate of metal, and when the message has been spoken the plate falls out and is found to be marked in crimson characters, which can easily be read by those who are familiar with the scheme. The other pl an is actually to write by hand, but that is a n enormously more difficult acquirement, for the script is a very complicated kind of shorthand which .Can be written as rapidly as one can speak. It is in. this latter script that all their books are printed, and these latter are usually in the shape of rolls made of very thin flexible metal. The engraving of them is exceedingly minute, and it is customary to read it through- a magnifier, which is fixed conveniently upon a stand. In the stand there is machinery which unrolls the scroll before the magnifier at any desired rate, so that one reads without needing to touch the book at all.

On every hand one sees signs of a very old civilization, for the inhabitants have preserved the tradition of all that was known when the great life-wave of humanity occupied the planet, and have since added to it many other discoveries. Electricity seems to be practically the sole motive power, and all sorts of labour-saving machines are universally employed.

The people are on the whole distinctly indolent, especially after they have passed their first youth. But the comparatively small size of the population enables them to live very easily. They have trained various kinds of domestic animals to a far higher condition of intelligent co-operation than has yet been achieved upon earth, so that a great deal of servants and gardener’s work is done by these creatures with comparatively little direction.

One autocratic ruler governs the whole planet, but the monarchy is not hereditary. Polygamy is practised, but it is the custom to hand over all children to the State at a very early age to be reared and educated, so that among the vast majority of the people there is no family tradition whatever, and no one knows who are his father and mother. There is no law compelling this, but it is considered so

decidedly the right thing to do and the best for the children that the few families who choose to live somewh at more as we do, and to educate their children at home, are always regarded as selfishly injuring their prospects for the sake of what is considered mere animal affection.

The state is thus in the position of universal guardian and schoolmaster, and the school authorities of each district are instructed carefully to sort the children according to the aptitudes which they display, and their line of life is decided for them in this manner – a very wide range of choice, however, being allowed the individual child as he approaches years of discretion. But children who show at the same time great intellect and wide general capacity are set apart from all the rest, and trained with a view of becoming members of the ruling class.

The King has under him what may be called viceroys of large districts, and they in turn have under them governors of smaller districts, and so on down to what would be equivalent here to the head-man of a village. All these officials are chosen by the King from this group of specially educated children, and when the time of his own death is considered to be approaching it is from among them or from among the already appointed officials that he chooses his successor.

They have brought their scientific medical studies to such perfection that disease has been eliminated, and even the ordinary signs of the approach of old age have been to a large extent got rid of..

Practically no one appears old, and it would seem that they hardly feel old; but, after a life somewhat longer than our own the desire to live gradually fades away, and the man dies. It is quite customary for a man who is losing interest and feels that death is approaching (this corresponds to what we should ca ll a centenarian) to apply to a certain scientific department which corresponds to what we might call a school of surgery, and ask to be put painlessly to death – a request which is always granted.

All these rulers are autocratic, each within his own sphere, but appeal to a higher official is always possible, though the right is not frequently exercised, because the people usually prefer to acquiesce in any fairly reasonable decision rather than to take the trouble involved in an appeal. The rulers on the whole seem to perform their duties fairly well, but again one gets the impression that they do so not so much from any pre-eminent sense of right or justice as to avoid the trouble that would certain ly ensue from a flagrantly unjust decision.

One of the most remarkable things about this people is that they have absolutely no religion. There are no churches, no temples, no places of worship of any sort whatever, no priest, no ecclesiastical power.

The accepted belief of the people is what we should call scientific materialism. Nothing is true but what can be scientifically demonstrated, and to believe anything which cannot be so demonstrated is regarded as not only the height of folly, but even as a positive crime, because it is considered a dang er to the public peace.

Martian history in the remote past was not unlike our own, and there are stories of religious persecutions, and of peoples whose beliefs were of so uncomfortable a nature that they forced them not only into feverish energy for themselves, but also into perpetual interference with the liberty of thought of other people. Martian public opinion is quite determined that there shall never again be any opportunity for the introduction of disturbing factors of that sort, and that physical science and the lower rea son shall reign supreme; and though there, as here, events have occurred which material science cannot explain, people find it best to say nothing about them.

Nevertheless on Mars, as in other places, there are a certain number of people who know better than this, and many centuries ago a few of these joined themselves together into a secret brotherhood to meet and discuss such matters. Very gradually and with infinite precaution, they took other recruits into this charmed circle, and so came into existence, in this most materialistic of worlds, a secret society which not only believed in superphysical worlds but knew practically of their existence, for its membe rs took up the direct study of mesmerism and spiritualism, and many of them developed a good deal of power.

At the present time the secret society is very widely spread, and the head of it at this moment is a pupil of one of our Masters. Even now after all these centuries its existence is not officially known to the authorities, but as a matter of fact they have something more than a suspicion of it, and they have learnt to fear it. None of its members are actually identified as such, but many are strongly suspected, and it seems to have been observed that when any of these strongly suspected people have in the p ast been injured or unjustly put to death, the persons who were concerned in bringing about that result have invariably died prematurely and mysteriously, though never in any case has their death been traceable to any physical-plane action on the part of the suspected member. Consequently, although such a belief is no doubt somewhat of an infringement of the principles of pure reason by which everything is supposed to be governed, it has come to be generally understood that it is safest not to pry too close ly into the beliefs of people who seem to differ in some degree from the majority, so long as they do not openly make profession of anything which would be considered subversive of the good morals of materialism.

 Driven far away from the pleasant equatorial regions into inhospitable lands and impenetrable forests, there still exist some remnants of the savage tribes who are descended from those left behind when the great life-wave left Mars for the earth. These are primitive savages at a lower stage than any now living on the exterior of our earth, though bearing some resemblance to one of our interior evolutions.

Some at least of the members of the secret society have learnt how to cross without great difficulty the space which separates us from Mars, and have therefore at various times tried to manifest themselves through mediums at spiritualistic seances, or have been able, by the methods which they have learnt, to impress their ideas upon poets and novelists.

 The information which I have given above is based upon observation and inquiry during various visits to the planet.”