The War of the Worlds: Pearson’s Magazine Installment 4 Annotations
by Madeline B. Gangnes
This installment comprises the text that is roughly comparable to Book I (“The Coming of the Martians”), Chapters XII-XIII of the 1898 collected edition and subsequent versions.
The majority of the annotations on this page draw from the following critical editions of The War of the Worlds, which will be cited and tagged according to the last name(s) of the editor(s) of that edition:
DANAHAY: Martin A. Danahay. The War of the Worlds. Broadview Press, 2003.
HUGHES AND GEDULD: David Y. Hughes and Harry M. Geduld, eds. A Critical Edition of The War of the Worlds: H. G. Wells’s Scientific Romance, with Introduction and Notes by David Y. Hughes and Harry M. Geduld. Indiana UP, 1993.
MCCONNELL: Frank McConnell, ed. The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds: A Critical Edition. Oxford UP, 1977.
STOVER: Leon Stover. The War of the Worlds: A Critical Text of the 1898 London First Edition, with an Introduction, Illustrations and Appendices. McFarland and Company, Inc, 2001.
Madeline Gangnes has added additional annotations and resources, especially those that address materials related to Pearson’s Magazine and adaptations of the text. They are cited with their source(s) (where applicable) and referenced as GANGNES.
From MCCONNELL 173: “four to eight guns in the Horse Artillery of the time”
Annotation: and so I resolved to go with the artilleryman
GANGNES: In the 1898 edition of the novel, this phrasing is changed and expanded in a way that begins to flesh out the artilleryman as a character. In the serialized version, we never see the artilleryman again after this installment, but he returns and serves a large role in the 1898 edition. See text comparison page and another note on the artilleryman farther down this page.
Annotation: I would make a big detour by Epsom to reach Leatherhead
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 209: The narrator “intends to make a northerly bypass of Leatherhead then circle back to it from the east.”
From MCCONNELL 175: “a surveying instrument with a telescopic sight, for establishing horizontal and vertical angles”
From DANAHAY 85: “A mirror mounted on a pole, used in this situation to communicate the whereabouts of the Martians and warn the artillery of their approach.”
From MCCONNELL 175: “a moveable mirror, usually mounted on a tripod, used to transmit signals by sun flashes”
From DANAHAY 85: “An apparatus for telegraphing by means of the sun’s rays flashed from a mirror.”
Note: There is a photograph of heliograph operators in DANAHAY Appendix I.
GANGNES: short for “aluminium” (British; American aluminum)
From MCCONNELL 176: “First isolated in 1825, aluminum … began to be produced in massive quantities only after the discovery, in 1866, of a cheap method of production by electrolysis.”
From DANAHAY 86: busily
From MCCONNELL 177: “Guns capable of firing a twelve-pound ball. Heavy artillery, like every other aspect of warfare, underwent a gigantic growth in the late nineteenth century–especially after the German munitions maker, Alfred Krupp, developed the first all-steel gun in 1851.”
From DANAHAY 86: “artillery, heavier than field guns described previously”
From DANAHAY 87: “a broad embankment raised as a fortification”
Annotation: It’s bows and arrows against the lightning, anyhow
STOVER: “It is the inequality of combat, magnified, between French and German forces in the Franco-Prussian War.”
GANGNES: In addition to STOVER’s note, consider the larger scope of nineteenth-century European imperialism; the 1890s were a time when the British empire was nearing its decline, and The War of the Worlds was one of many well-known novels written at the end of the century that addressed imperialism. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (serialized in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in 1899 before being collected) tells of a real-life imperial experience, but Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which was, like The War of the Worlds, published in 1897, is a very different kind of novel that nonetheless explores the idea of Britain being invaded by a superior entity in the way the British invaded colonial lands.
Numerous Wells scholars have written on the “reverse colonization” and “Empire comes home” nature of The War of the Worlds. As Robert Silverberg writes, “[Humans] simply don’t matter at all [to the Martians], any more than the natives of the Congo or Mexico or the Spice Islands mattered to the European invaders who descended upon them to take their lands and their treasures from them during the great age of colonialism.” Likewise, Robert Crossley observes, “The Martians do to England what the Victorians had done to Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific–and Wells intended that his fellow English imperialists taste a dose of their own medicine.”
- Robert Crossley, “The Grandeur of H.G. Wells,” A Companion to Science Fiction, ed. David Seed (Blackwell Publishing, 2005), p. 357.
- Robert Silverberg, The War of the Worlds: Fresh Perspectives on the H. G. Wells Classic, ed. Glenn Yeffeth (Benbella Books, 2005), p. 8.
- Facsimile of “The Heart of Darkness” in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine
- Article on the first edition of Dracula on the British Library’s site
From DANAHAY 87: a horse-drawn bus
Annotation: crosses in white circles
From MCCONNELL 178: “The insignia, then as now, of the Red Cross, founded in 1864 as a result of the Geneva Convention on international warfare.”
From DANAHAY 87: “literally means day of worship; people are dressed as if for going to church on Sunday”
Annotation: these is vallyble
GANGNES: A large collection of orchids would, indeed, have been quite valuable. The craze surrounding “orchid hunting”–the search for rare and beautiful orchids to collect (and/or sell to collectors)–was at its height during the late nineteenth century, to the point where the fad had a name: “orchidelirium.” Some varieties would fetch extremely high prices, and wealthy Victorians sank excessive amounts of money into their collections.
Sources and more information:
- Claire Cock-Starkey, “The Dangerous and Highly Competitive World of Victorian Orchid Hunting,” MentalFloss, November 18, 2016.
- Andrew Amelinckx, “Old Time Farm Crime: The Cutthroat World of Victorian Orchid Hunters,” Modern Farmer, August 1, 2014.
- Li Zhou, “Orchidelirium, an Obsession with Orchids, Has Lasted for Centuries,” Smithsonian.com, January 29, 2015.
From MCCONNELL 178: “the priest of a parish”
From MCCONNELL 178: “Originally, grenadiers were especially tall soldiers in a regiment employed to throw grenades. This practice was discontinued by the end of the eighteenth century, though the tallest and finest soldiers of their regiments continued to be called ‘grenadiers.’ After 1858, the only regiment officially referred to by the name was the Grenadier Guards, the First Regiment of the Household Cavalry.”
From DANAHAY 88: “originally ‘grenade throwers,’ but by this time an elite army regiment
Annotation: the Shepperton side
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 210: north bank of the Thames
Annotation: the tower of Shepperton church–it has been replaced by a spire
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 210: This is the Church of St. Nicholas; it is later smashed by the Martians.
GANGNES: In this case, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the door to “subsidiary building in the grounds of or adjoining a house, as a barn, shed, etc.”
Annotation: towards Chertsey
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 110: Chertsey is ~1 mile northwest of Weybridge.
Annotation: Surrey side
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 210: southern side of the Thames
Annotation: The inn was closed, as it was now within the prohibited hours.
From DANAHAY 89: “Inns and pubs were allowed to sell alcohol only during particular hours specified by law.”
Annotation: pollard willows
From MCCONNELL 180: “willows cut back to the trunk, so as to produce dense masses of branches”
From DANAHAY 90: a large travelling bag or suitcase
Annotation: In my convulsive excitement I took no heed of the artilleryman behind me, and to this day I do not know what became of him. I never set eyes on him again.
GANGNES: This line is cut from the 1898 version because it is no longer true. As HUGHES AND GEDULD (210) and others point out, the artilleryman becomes a major figure in the volume, featured in Chapter 7 of Book II, “The Man on Putney Hill.” See text comparison page, the earlier note about the artilleryman on this page, and the note about the artilleryman on the Installment 3 page.
Annotation: The decapitated colossus
GANGNES: The scene beginning at this point and running through the end of the chapter was significantly revised with dozens of small rewordings. In addition to deemphasizing some of the narrator’s personal emotions, as Wells does in other parts of the novel, these changes show Wells grappling with exactly how to describe the appearance and movement of the Martian fighting machines and the nigh-cinematic scene of destruction that makes this novel highly suited to visual adaptation. See text comparison page.
From MCCONNELL 182: “The first portable camera, the Kodak, had been patented by George Eastman in 1888. Wells himself was an ardent amateur photographer.”
From DANAHAY 91: “These were very large, box-like cameras.”
Annotation: the four winds of heaven
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 210: Reference to Daniel 7:2: “and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.”
Annotation: tidal bore
From MCCONNELL 182: “an abrupt rise of tidal water flowing inland from the mouth of an estuary”
Annotation: the thing called a siren in our manufacturing towns
From MCCONNELL 183: “The word [used in this way] was still new at the time, and referred primarily to factory whistles.”
Annotation: towing path
From MCCONNELL 183: “a path along the bank of a river for the horses or men who tow boats on the river”
Annotation: towards Laleham
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 110: Laleham is ~2 miles north of Weybridge.
From DANAHAY 92: a loud, metallic ringing sound
From MCCONNELL 184: “welt or ridge”
From DANAHAY 93: “a member of the clergy who is either in charge of a parish or who is serving as an assistant in a parish.”
Annotation: as the earthquake that destroyed Lisbon a century ago
From MCCONNELL 185: “The Lisbon earthquake, on November 1, 1775, produced tremors felt throughout Europe, destroyed almost the entire city, and killed thirty thousand people.”
From DANAHAY 94: “Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, was almost completely destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 1755.”
Annotation: Kingston and Richmond
GANGNES: towns/villages on the banks of the Thames, past Halliford toward central London; Richmond is farther away from Halliford than Kingston
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 230: “Usually called Kingston-on-Thames. A municipal borough in northeast Surrey, about nine miles southwest of central London.”
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 233: “a borough of greater London, on the Thames in North Surrey, about eight miles west-southwest of central London”
From DANAHAY 94: “small clumps of trees, not large enough to be a wood”
Annotation: When I realised that the Martians had passed I struggled to my feet, giddy and smarting from the scalding I received, and for a space I stood sick and helpless between the drifting steam and the suffocating, burning, and smouldering behind. Presently, through a gap in the thinning steam,
GANGNES: Cut from the 1898 version. This is another instance of removing the narrator’s commentary on his own feelings and reactions, especially those that seem weak or cowardly. See text comparison page.
GANGNES: according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “partially cooked by boiling”
From HUGHES AND GEDULD: Upper Halliford is “a district southwest of greater London, between Sunbury and Shepperton, thirteen miles west-southwest of the city center.”
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 234: “Walton (on the Naze) [is] a town on the North Sea, about seventy-five miles northeast of London.”
Annotation: Middlesex bank
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 211: north shore of the Thames
Annotation: I do not clearly remember the arrival of the curate
GANGNES: From this point through the end of the installment is one of the most heavily reworked scenes in the novel. There are significant cuts, additions, rearrangings, and rephrasings. The revisions alter the curate’s mood and the narrator’s emotional and intellectual responses to the curate’s outburst. Through these edits, Wells seems to be grappling with how to most effectively present a critique of religion. See text comparison page.
Annotation: mackerel sky
From DANAHAY 95: “A mackerel is a seawater fish that has rows of dark markings on its back. The rows of clouds resemble these markings.”
Annotation: Sodom and Gomorrah
From MCCONNELL 188: “In Genesis 18:20-28, the Lord sends fire from heaven to destroy the sinful people of Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Annotation: What are we?
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 211: possible reference to the Kepler epigraph at the beginning of the novel
Annotation: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom
GANGNES: Reference to Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” This line is part of the cuts made to this installment between the serialized version and the volume. See text comparison page.
Annotation: The smoke of her burning goeth up for ever and ever
GANGNES: With his mind still on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, MCCONNELL identifies this quote as referencing Genesis as well. STOVER and DANAHAY both identify the reference as coming from Revelation, but disagree on which passage. An examination of each passage would suggest that Stover is correct, though DANAHAY’s passage also describes destruction.
From MCCONNELL 188: “A slightly inaccurate quotation from Genesis 18:28.”
From STOVER 130: reference to Revelation 19:3: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.” (“her” = the harlot of Babylon, Rome)
From DANAHAY 96: “Revelations[sic] 6:16-17 describes the end of the world in these terms.”
GANGNES: North and slightly to the east of Upper Halliford, where the narrator and curate are located at this point. Roughly a half-hour walk or less, depending on where in Upper Halliford and where in Sunbury-on-Thames.
From HUGHES AND GEDULD 234: “a town in Middlesex, known fully as Sunbury-on-Thames, thirteen miles west-southwest of London”
Annotation: hide them from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne
From STOVER 131: reference to Revelation 6:16
GANGNES: Note that this is the passage DANAHAY cited earlier in the curate’s speech.
From MCCONNELL 190: European scarab beetle
From DANAHAY 97: large European flying beetle