Love Letter to a Princess of Mars, Postcript

So Number Three Son and I have read to chapter XI of Princess of Mars, when we came across these words. John Carter is trying to explain his origins to Dejah Thoris.

She addresses him thus:

“I heard your challenge to the creature you call Tars Tarkas, and I think I understand your position among these people, but what I cannot fathom is your statement that you are not of Barsoom.”

“In the name of my first ancestor, then,” she continued, “where may you be from? You are like unto my people, and yet so unlike. You speak my language, and yet I heard you tell Tars Tarkas that you had but learned it recently. All Barsoomians speak the same tongue from the ice-clad south to the ice-clad north, though their written languages differ. Only in the valley Dor, where the river Iss empties into the lost sea of Korus, is there supposed to be a different language spoken, and, except in the legends of our ancestors, there is no record of a Barsoomian returning up the river Iss, from the shores of Korus in the valley of Dor. Do not tell me that you have thus returned! They would kill you horribly anywhere upon the surface of Barsoom if that were true; tell me it is not!”

Her eyes were filled with a strange, weird light; her voice was pleading, and her little hands, reached up upon my breast, were pressed against me as though to wring a denial from my very heart.

“I do not know your customs, Dejah Thoris, but in my own Virginia a gentleman does not lie to save himself; I am not of Dor; I have never seen the mysterious Iss; the lost sea of Korus is still lost, so far as I am concerned. Do you believe me?”

My son and I, both gentlemen of Virginia, immediately rose to our feet, sang the anthem of the commonwealth, and made the salute, and shouted Sic Semper Tyrannis.

I laughed a laugh more cold and bitter, and I could not explain to my young son why I laughed when I read this line:

All property among the green Martians is owned in common by the community, except the personal weapons, ornaments and sleeping silks and furs of the individuals. These alone can one claim undisputed right to, nor may he accumulate more of these than are required for his actual needs. The surplus he holds merely as custodian, and it is passed on to the younger members of the community as necessity demands.

The women and children of a man’s retinue may be likened to a military unit for which he is responsible in various ways, as in matters of instruction, discipline, sustenance, and the exigencies of their continual roamings and their unending strife with other communities and with the red Martians. His women are in no sense wives. The green Martians use no word corresponding in meaning with this earthly word. Their mating is a matter of community interest solely, and is directed without reference to natural selection. The council of chieftains of each community control the matter as surely as the owner of a Kentucky racing stud directs the scientific breeding of his stock for the improvement of the whole.

In theory it may sound well, as is often the case with theories, but the results of ages of this unnatural practice, coupled with the community interest in the offspring being held paramount to that of the mother, is shown in the cold, cruel creatures, and their gloomy, loveless, mirthless existence.

You see, I had read those theories, of Plato and of Marx, of the collectivist and eugenicist daydreams which form the major axis of the current secularist Progressivism which forms the most advanced of the several morbid cancers and diseases of which our current civilization is dying.

Burroughs saw clearly enough in 1912 what the terrible cost to the soul is exacted when the vain attempt is made to put into practice these Lacedaimonian infatuations.

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