Page:The Outline of History Vol 1.djvu/159

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

dreaming in human history. Before it awakened it produced nightmares.

Away beyond the dawn of history, 3000 or 4000 years ago, one thinks of the Wiltshire uplands in the twilight of a midsummer day's morning. The torches pale in the growing light. One has a dim apprehension of a procession through the avenue of stone, of priests, perhaps fantastically dressed with skins and horns and horrible painted masks—not the robed and bearded dignitaries our artists represent the Druids to have been—of chiefs in skins adorned with necklaces of teeth and bearing spears and axes, their great heads of hair held up with pins of bone, of women in skins or flaxen robes, of a great peering crowd of shock-headed men and naked children. They have assembled from many distant places; the ground between the avenues and Silbury Hill is dotted with their encampments. A certain festive cheerfulness prevails. And amidst the throng march the appointed human victims, submissive, helpless, staring towards the distant smoking altar at which they are to die—that the harvests may be good and the tribe increase.... To that had life progressed 3000 or 4000 years ago from its starting-place in the slime of the tidal beaches.