Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/580

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ideals, are in eternal metamorphosis. Schrader tells us this to-day as did Heraclitus long ago. The twentieth-century idea that its culture and its creations will endure may be false, as have been the ideas of Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The conception of stability is an illusion. All passes and repasses.

Egypt for millenniums has been only a gift of the Nile renewed by its floods. The heroes of Homer are brigands to-day. The Roman Caesar has become a Pope. Spain died when the Indies were born. The cliff-dwellings of Arizona and New Mexico speak of things past and gone. The Negritos, the Bushmen, the Ainu, the Lapps, the Eskimo are being driven to the wall. The fate of the American Indian is partly sealed. The Aztec is a peon; the Peruvian a cargador. The Beothuk and the Tasmanian are already gone. Britain is saved from being an insular Labrador by the Gulf Stream. Bordeaux survives only through its vineyards.

With the ebb and flow of industry and manufactures, villages, towns and cities spring up like mushrooms. Others have disappeared like the melting snow-flakes. The forest vanishes and the sea is encroached upon. Holland reclaims a lost country, America reanimates a desert. Rivers and lakes are dried up and mountains are hewn down.

But, after all, there is an illusion about this flux itself. To remind us of its relativity, the Fellah, direct descendant of the most ancient Egyptian, keeps watch beneath the pyramids. Before him have passed, as the ages came and went, Libyan and man of Punt, Sardinian and Hebrew, Persian and Babylonian, Greek and Roman, Arab and Turk, Frenchman, Englishman and American. And amid all their notable mutations he has remained practically the same. He still waits for the stirring of the waters.

III. Imitation.—Wise men before Solomon said "there is nothing new under the sun." And in all they have thought, said, done or dreamed, the ignorant in all times and among all peoples have corroborated the sages. The great majority of the wise, too, have labored zealously at the same task. To-day, Tarde tells us, imitation is everything.

Art is imitation of nature and nature imitation of God. God imitates himself. Civilization is mimicry. Genial repetition is the sum and substance of great knowledge and deep wisdom. Ignorance is gross imitation. Life and death are both imitative. By imitation childhood learns, youth hopes, manhood forgets, old age despairs. Heredity itself is imitation. Both the individual and the race have acted, "as if its whole vocation were endless imitation."

How hard it is for man to do otherwise than his fellows are doing or have done! To repeat is so much easier than to invent. To borrow than to create. To follow than to lead. To stand with the many