ing these conditions, and as he learns it is not to be doubted that "evil" will lessen. If we affirm acquisition of knowledge by man, we must postulate a precedent or "necessary" condition of ignorance. Hence it may be truthfully said that evil is a necessary correlative, and in a manner the necessary condition of good; and also, I think, that a broad view of the world-wide struggle for life shows not an absence of moral elements, but rather that the ethical is inherent in the very nature of animate things.
We may not all share Mr. Fiske's exuberant optimism, and many can not accept his teleological implications, but of the ultimate triumph of good over evil, of knowledge over ignorance, we may not doubt.
|Frank M. Loomis.|
|Buffalo, November 10, 1899.|
Editor Popular Science Monthly:
Sir: I beg to take exception to the exploded Boston theory again revived by Miss Cornelia Horsford in the last number of your valuable magazine. It is astonishing to notice how little Prof. G. Storm's excellent prize essay and Mr. Reeve's careful edition of the text of sagas seem to have availed against the misplaced patriotism that persists in carrying those Norse explorers down to New England in the face of the numerous difficulties with which this feat is associated. If I am not mistaken, not a single historian or antiquarian of note has taken Professor Horsford's extremely unscientific treatment of the sagas or his Norse discoveries seriously, and the sober verdict of Mr. Thorsteinn Erlingsson and Dr. V. Gudmundsson on the alleged Norse ruins seems to show that Miss Cornelia Horsford has met with no better success. To refute all the philological curiosities and illogical conclusions drawn by Professor Horsford in his ten treatises on the subject would, however, require a book of at least five hundred pages, and nobody seems to think the question important enough to warrant such an output. The fact that Mr. A. H. Keane, in his recent work, Man, Past and Present, takes it for granted that the Norsemen met with Eskimos in New England in the year 1000 seems to prove, however, that this persistence in defending a baseless supposition is not merely a matter of innocent patriotism. Fortunately, the current year, which marks the nine hundredth anniversary of the discovery, will be sure to see some valuable new treatises on the subject, and those who are sufficiently interested furthermore need only consult the above-mentioned books to discover how many serious objections the New England theory really has to contend with. Permit me to mention one of them. Cape Cod has, it is true, one singular feature that suggests the Keel Cape of the best version of the Vinland manuscripts—viz., sandy shores. As everybody can see for himself, however, by consulting Mr. Reeve's book, the explorers sailed south from Keel Cape on the eastern shore till the country became indented with bays. At the mouth of one of these they established their first winter quarters (the so-called Streamfirth), and the next fall proceeded still farther south for a considerable time till they came to "Hop," the true Wineland. The extraordinary ease with which Professor Horsford, in his book Landfall of Leif Ericson, undertakes to chop up this version, in order to make the explorers return to Boston from Cape Cod instead of continuing on their course, is something remarkable in the annals of historical research. But even then his theory fails utterly to satisfy the critical reader. The trouble with most of the writers on this subject, not excluding a professional historian like Prof. John Fiske, is that they have failed to sift the material or see the force of Professor Storm's criticism of the Flat Island version. This being done, everything falls into line for the Nova Scotia theory, due consideration being given to the fact that an oral tradition of at least one hundred years intervened between the events narrated and the first somewhat extended written record.
While, therefore, owing to the last-mentioned fact, it is not altogether impossible that the Norsemen reached New England, it should be distinctly understood that such a conclusion can only be drawn on archæological lines, the test of the sagas pointing clearly in the opposite direction.
|Field Columbian Museum, Chicago,|
|December 7, 1899.|