Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/290

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from its limit of greatest eccentricity; and though all are familiar with the consequent fact that the glacial epoch, which has so long made a large part of the northern hemisphere uninhabitable, has passed its climax; yet it is not universally known that, in some regions, the retreat of glaciers has lately made accessible tracks long covered. Amid moraines and under vast accumulations of detritus, have been found here ruins, there semi-fossilized skeletons, and in some places, even records, which, by a marvellous concurrence of favorable conditions, have been so preserved that parts of them remain legible. Just as our automatic quarrying-engines occasionally turn up fossil cephalopods, so little injured that drawings of them are made with the sepia taken from their own ink-bags; so here, by a happy chance, there have come down to us, from a long-extinct race of men, those actual secretions of their daily life, which furnish coloring-matter for a picture of them. By great perseverance our explorers have discovered the key to their imperfectly-developed language; and in course of years have been able to put together facts yielding us faint ideas of the strange peoples who lived there during the last preglacial period.

"A report just issued refers to a time called by these peoples the middle of the nineteenth century of their era; and it concerns a nation of considerable interest to us—the English. Though until now no traces of this ancient nation were known to exist, yet there survived the names of certain great men it produced—one a poet whose range of imagination and depth of insight are said to have exceeded those of all who went before him; the other, a man of science, of whom, profound as we may suppose in many other respects, we know definitely this, that to all nations then living, and that have since lived, he taught how the Universe is balanced. What kind of people the English were, and what kind of civilization they had, have thus always been questions exciting curiosity. The facts disclosed by this report are scarcely of the kind anticipated. Search was first made for traces of these great men, who, it was supposed, would be conspicuously commemorated. Little was found, however. It did, indeed, appear that the last of them, who revealed to mankind the constitution of the heavens, had received a name of honor like that which they gave to a successful trader who presented an address to their monarch; and besides a tree planted in his memory, a small statue to their great poet had been put up in one of their temples, where, however, it was almost lost among the many and large monuments to their fighting chiefs. Not that commemorative structures of magnitude were never erected by the English. Our explorers discovered traces of a gigantic one, in which, apparently, persons of distinction and deputies from all nations were made to take part in honoring some being—man he can scarcely have been. For it is difficult to conceive that any man could have had a worth transcendent enough to draw from them such extreme homage, when they thought so little of those by whom their name as a race