Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/50

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
40
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

war, which the Saga says was employed by the Skrællings in their fight with Karlsefne.

It is said, "Karlsefne's men saw that they raised up on a pole a very large ball, something like a sheep's paunch, and of a blue color; this they swung from the pole over Karlsefne's men upon the ground, and it made a great noise as it fell down. This caused great fear with Karlsefne and his men." The statement at first appears curious and almost childish; yet in Schoolcraft's work on the Indians (vol. i, p. 83) may be found a description of a similar engine employed in the ancient times, when the red-man used to sew up a round bowlder in the skin of an animal, and hang it upon a pole borne by several warriors, which, being swung against a group of men, did great execution. The Skrællings may, therefore, have acquired the idea in their fights with the more skillful red-man then pushing his way into their territory. Pursued by a superior force, we may conclude that the Skrællings retreated into the north. Dr. Abbott himself is of this opinion, saying, "When, also, we consider that the several conditions of glacial times were largely those of Greenland and Arctic America, and that there is unbroken land communication between the desolate regions of the latter and our own more favored land, and, more important than all, that there now dwells in this ice-clad country a race which, not only in the distant past, but until recently if they do not now, used stone implements of the rudest pattern—it is natural to infer that the traces of a people found here, under circumstances that demonstrate a like condition of the country during their occupancy, are really traces of the same people."

That the country as far south as New Jersey was formerly adapted to boreal tribes is evident from the fact that the walrus has been found at Long Branch, while the great auk formerly flourished around the borders of Mount Desert in Maine. Dr. Henry Rink, who for so many years superintended the Danish interests in Greenland, and who studied the question without any reference to the glacial man, reached the conclusion that the "Esquimaux appear to have been the last wave of an aboriginal American race, which has spread over the continent from more genial regions, following principally the rivers and watercourses, and continually yielding to the tribes behind them, until they have at last peopled the seacoast." Originally their distribution was very wide, and their language prevails to-day from Greenland to Labrador and the northeastern corner of Siberia. Professor Dawkins holds that the paleolithic cave-dwellers of Europe were of the same race as the Esquimaux or Innuit, though no such connection can be shown between them as exists between the ancient Skrællings and the Esquimaux.

The Icelandic records prove that the conflicts begun with the Skrællings in the eleventh century in New England were renewed in the fourteenth in Greenland. Possibly it is to the Skrællings that