Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/42

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32
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

cussion, and carries the question back to remote periods. It is true that the great antiquity of man on this continent had been maintained previously, but the evidence was quite unlike what is now offered. Yet, whatever may be concluded ultimately respecting the antiquity of the Delaware flints, it is quite apparent that the red-man found in America at the period of its rediscovery by Cabot, Vespucci, and Columbus, was not the descendant of any glacial man. No line of connection can be made out. This continent does not appear to have any Kent's Hole like that at Torbay, affording a continuous history, beginning with the cave-bear and ending with "W. Hodges, of Ireland, 1688." The race that rose to wealth and power in Central America did not succeed any rude spear-maker. More and more is it becoming evident that the people of Central America sprang from a superior race inhabiting the borders, of the Mediterranean. This is indicated by a certain similarity in manners, customs, architecture, and religion. Investigations, now in progress, promise to yield the approximate date of the period when the first conquerors of Mexico and Yucatan crossed the sea. The Spaniards learned that the people whom they conquered had themselves figured in the rôle of invaders, entering from a country called Tulan of Tulapan, and overrunning the then dominant race. It may yet be demonstrated that this took place about the third year of the Christian era. But who were these earlier inhabitants? These we believe were not the descendants of an indigenous race, any more than were the later tribes. There is nothing to show that they were ever connected in America with any glacial or pliocene man. They might, however, be referred to still more remote migrations from Europe, which may have taken place in connection with events that gave rise to the story of the lost continent of Atlantis, as related by Plato. The so-called aboriginal red-man is comparatively a modern, although the author of "Leaves of Grass" asks concerning "the friendly and flowing savage," is he "waiting for civilization or past it and mastering it?" However this may be, he is wandering over the graves of peoples who left no record of their exploits, either in the continent where they sprung into life or where they died. It is, indeed, a significant fact that the East furnishes no very plain tradition of any exodus which peopled America. The prehistoric emigrant must have been possessed of the idiosyncrasies of those who

". . . . fold their tents like the Arabs
And silently steal away."

The absence of such traditions is nevertheless not at all surprising, since the people of antiquity, and notably the Phœnicians, guarded their distant maritime discoveries with care. Indeed, we wholly misapprehend the spirit of that remote age, in supposing that the navigators would hasten to show the way to new-found lands, and proclaim their discoveries to all the world. This was not even the spirit of the