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HISTORY is a narrative of public events at any given epoch, and necessarily is not an exact science. When the record is complete, consistent with acknowledged facts and undisputed, we call it Authentic, and when not so accredited, Apocryphal. It occasionally becomes transitory-that is to say, studied as time passes-in the light of new discoveries, particular incidents cease to be authentic, either in themselves or in their relations, becoming not unfrequently dislocated, and, like the pieces of glass in a kaleidescope, arrange themselves in new and unforeseen combinations, changing place with other and older events, sometimes losing, never gaining importance by the movement. Some of the best attested historical facts turn out veritable fables and closely pursued, their metamorphoses resemble the shadows which chase each other over mountain tops, and are lost to view as daylight ap
proaches. The Americans are bolder than other nations in their jettison of such deck load and lumber, albeit they came over in the Mayflower," or were landed at Jamestown.
Early American history is at this moment especially disturbed. There is, in fact, less certainty about it now than at any former period. The reason is as curious as it is unsatisfactory. It is because now, four hundred years since Columbus, we find we know more of geography and history than either he or his predecessors for a thousand years. He probably knew of the voyages of which we are to write, and and honestly believed the islands he encountered on his way to Asia a new world; but it is impossible he could have died, as is still thought and taught, with the impression that Cuba and Japan were the same countries. This continent was supposed to have risen from the ocean, on the breast of some mighty and recent
convulsion. Springing from mysterious depths into visible life like the fabled Roman goddess—but with several feet deep of vegetable loam upon its surface, it seemed the latest and most wonderful achievement of the exhaustless energies of creative nature, the fair and beauteous virgin bride of earth's maturer longings, and the destined theater of man's nobler life and sublimer destinies.
But, piercing the mysterious silence of unrecorded time, amidst the trackless forests of Central America, there were exhumed deserted cities in Yucatan, with treasures of painting, sculpture and wonderful architecture, arsenals and weapons of war, implements of husbandry and the chase, literary works, the relics of an unknown people who, in those once favored regions, possessed for centuries a civilization older and more perfect than the Ptolemies. And then, to shock the romantic dreams of our ancestors and shame their easy credulity, came the discovery in the woods of North America of great mounds and earthworks resembling those of Britain, stretched across the Mississippi Valley east from the Great River to the sea, and on the other side, entrenchments projected from the mouth of the Rio Grande to its source in some lone canyon of the Pacific coast, wrapped by the Sierras in lofty gloom and dipping lines of beauty and grandeur down to the western horizon.
On both sides of the Mississippi
the earth teems with evidences of an armed and bitter struggle between civilized populations in the south and vast hordes of northern Asiatics continued for generations, wherein millions of men participated and perished, and of which they are the sole relics and were the only witnesses. Our forefathers peopled the unknown seas with great monsters, but they were of mortal birth. The barriers we have to encounter are celestial as the angels-the fallen angels-in their immortality, and more invincible in their stubbornness. Not a few are yet to be found who begin American history with the voyage of Columbus. Some even doubt the Sagas and Norse voyages. While these heavy-shod antiquaries are vainly striving to keep step with modern progress, we affirm the following propositions as covering the present condition of American Archæological Science and its result, viz.:
1. The legend of Atlantis is not a fable, the former existence of that country being attested by evidence. equally satisfactory with the proof of the lake dwellers. America is not "The New World," but the oldest of the continents.
2. In no sense can Columbus be said to have been "the Discoverer of America," his voyage having been preceded by many others at intervals in three hundred years, beginning in A. D. 545. When these navigators came here they found this continent peopled by colonies and tribes