Before I had satisfied myself whether the planet was or was not inhabited, I found myself in a position from which its general surface was veiled by the evening mist, and directly over the mountain in question, within some twelve miles of its summit. This distance I descended in the course of a quarter of an hour, and landed without a shock about half an hour, so far as I could judge, after the Sun had disappeared below the horizon. The sunset, however, by reason of the mists, was totally invisible.
I will not attempt to express the intensity of the mingled emotions which overcame me as I realised the complete success of the most stupendous adventure ever proposed or even dreamed by man. I don’t think that any personal vanity, unworthy of the highest lessons I had received, had much share in my passionate exultation. The conception was not original; the means were furnished by others; the execution depended less on a daring and skill, in which any courageous traveller or man of science knowing what I knew might well have excelled me, than on the direct and manifest favour of Providence. But this enterprise, the greatest that man had ever attempted, had in itself a charm, a sanctity in my eyes that made its accomplishment an unspeakable satisfaction. I would have laid down life a dozen times not only to achieve it myself, but even to know that it had been achieved by others. All that Columbus can have felt when he first set foot on a new hemisphere I felt in tenfold force as I assured myself that not, as often before, in dreams, but in very truth and fact, I had traversed forty million miles of space, and landed in a new world. Of the perils that might await me I could hardly care to think. They might be greater in degree.
They could hardly be other in kind, than those which a traveller might incur in Papua, or Central Africa, or in the North-West Passage. They could have none of that wholly novel, strange, incalculable character which sometimes had given to the chances of my etherial voyage a vague horror and mystery that appalled imagination. For the first time during my journey I could neither eat nor sleep; yet I must do both. I might soon meet with difficulties and dangers that would demand all the resources of perfect physical and mental condition,