Imágenes de páginas

artificial in

tends to ho


The Mediter


equalized by artificial inventions; nor is it alone a similarity But, through of habits, a similarity of physiological constitu

tion also ensues. The effect of such inventions ventions, it

is to equalize the influences to which men are ness in modern exposed; they are brought more closely to the

mean typical standard, and—especially is it to be remembered—with this closer approach to each other in conformation, comes a closer approach in feelings and habits, and even in the manner of thinking. On the southern slope of the mountain axis project the

historic peninsulas, Greece, Italy, Spain. To ranean penin- the former we trace unmistakably the com

mencement of European civilization. The first Greeks patriotically affirmed that their own climate was the best suited for man; beyond the mountains to the north there reigned a Cimmerian darkness, an everlasting winter. It was the realm of Boreas, the shivering tyrant. In the early ages man recognized cold as his mortal enemy. Physical inventions have enabled him to overcome it, and now he maintains a more difficult and doubtful struggle with heat.

Beyond these peninsulas, and bounding the continent on The Mediter- the south, is the Mediterranean, nearly two

thousand miles in length, isolating Europe from Africa socially, but uniing them commercially. The Black Sea and that of Azof are dependencies of it. It has, conjointly with them, 'a shore-line of 13,000 miles, and exposes a surface of nearly a million and a quarter of square miles. It is subdivided into two basins, the eastern and western, the former being of high interest historically, since it is the scene of the dawn of European intelligence; the western is bounded by the Italian peninsula, Sicily, and the African promontory of Cape Bon on one side, and at the other has as its portal the Straits of Gibraltar. The temperature is ten or twelve degrees higher than the Atlantic, and, since much of the water is removed by evaporation, it is necessarily more saline than that ocean. Its colour is green where shallow, blue where deep.

For countless centuries Asia has experienced a slow upward movement, not only affecting her own topography, but likewise that of her European dependency. There

ranean Sea.

Secular geo


was a time when the great sandy desert of Gobi was the bed of a sea which communicated through the Caspian with the Baltic, as may be proved not logical moveonly by existing geographical facts, but also ment of Eu: from geological considerations. It is only neces- and its social sary, for this purpose, to inspect the imperfect maps that have been published of the silurian and even tertiary periods. The vertical displacement of Europe, during and since the latter period, has indisputably been more than 2000 feet in many places. The effects of such movements on the flora and fauna of a region must, in the course of time, be very important, for an elevation of 350 feet is equal to one degree of cold in the mean annual temperature, or to sixty miles on the surface northward. Nor has this slow disturbance ended. Again and again, in historic times, have its results operated fearfully on Europe, by forcibly precipitating the Asiatic nomades along the great path-zone; again and again, through such changes of level, have they been rendered waterless, and thus driven into a forced emigration. Some of their rivers, as the Oxus and Jaxartes, have, within the records of history, been dry for several years. To these topographical changes, rather than to political influences, we must impute many of the most celebrated tribal invasions. It has been the custom to refer these events to an excessive overpopulation periodically occurring in Central Asia, or to the ambition of warlike chieftains. Doubtless those regions are well adapted to human life, and hence liable to overpopulation, considering the pursuits man there follows, and doubtless there have been occasions on which those nations have been put in motion by their princes ; but the modern historian cannot too carefully bear in mind the laws which regulate the production of men, and also the body of evidence which proves that the crust of the earth is not motionless, but rising in one place and sinking in another. The grand invasions of Europe by Asiatic hordes have been much more violent and abrupt than would answer to a steady pressure resulting from overpopulation, and too extensive for mere warlike incitement; they answer more completely to the experience of some irresistible necessity arising from an insuperable physical cause, which could

Rate and ex


drive in hopeless despair from their homes the young and the old, the vigorous and feeble, with their cattle, and waggons, and flocks. Such a cause is the shifting of the soil and disturbance of the courses of water. The tribes compelled to migrate were forced along the path-zone, their track being, therefore, on a parallel of latitude, and not on a meridian; and hence, for the reasons set forth in the preceding chapter, their movements and journey of easier accomplishment. These geological changes then enter as an element in

human history, not only for Asia, of which the tent of these great inland sea has dwindled away to the

Caspian, and lost its connection with the Baltic, but for Europe also. The traditions of ancient deluges, which are the primitive facts of Greek history, refer to such movements; perhaps the opening of the Thracian Bosphorus was one of them. In much later times we are perpetually meeting with incidents depending on geological disturbances; the caravan trade of Asia Minor was destroyed by changes of level and the accumulation of sands blown from the encroaching deserts; the Cimbri were impelled into Italy by the invasion of the sea on their possessions. There is not a shore in Europe which does not give similar evidence; the mouths of the Rhine, as they were in the Roman times, are obliterated; the eastern coast of England has been cut away for miles. In the Mediterranean the shore-line is altogether changed; towns, once on the coast, are far away inland; others have sunk beneath the sea. Islands, like Rhodes, have risen from the bottom. The North Adriatic, once a deep gulf, has now become shallow; there are leaning towers and inclining temples that have sunk with the settling of the earth. On the opposite extremity of Europe, the Scandinavian peninsula furnishes an instance of slow secular motion, the northern part rising gradually above the sea at the rate of about four feet in a century. This elevation is observed through a space

many hundred miles, increasing toward the north. The southern extremity, on the contrary, experiences a slow depression.

These slow movements are nothing more than a continuation of what has been going on for numberless ages.

Since the tertiary period two-thirds of Europe have been lifted above the sea. The Norway coast has been elevated 600 feet, the Alps have been upheaved 2000 or 3000, the Apennines 1000 to 2000 feet. The country between Mont Blanc and Vienna has been thus elevated since the adjacent seas were peopled with existing animals. Since the Neolithic age, the British Islands have undergone a great change of level, and, indeed, have been separated from the continent through the sinking of England and the rising of Scotland.

At the earliest period Europe presents us with a double population. An Indo-Germanic column had entered it from the east, and had separated into two portions the occupants it had encountered, driving one to the north, the other to the south-west. These primitive tribes betray, physiologically, a Mongolian origin; and there Early inhaare indications of considerable weight that they bitants of themselves had been, in ancient times, intruders,

Europe. who, issuing from their seats in Asia, had invaded and dislocated the proper autochthons of Europe. In the Pleistocene age there existed in Central Europe a rude race of hunters and fishers, closely allied to the Esquimaux. Man was contemporary with the cave bear, the cave lion, the amphibious hippopotamus, the mammoth. Caves that have been examined in France or elsewhere have furnished for the stone age, axes, knives, lance and arrow points, scrapers, hammers.

The change from what has been termed the chipped, to the polished stone period, was very gradual. It coincides with the domestication of the dog, an epoch in hunting life. The appearance of arrow heads indicates the invention of the bow, and the rise of man from a defensive to an offensive mode of life. The introduction of barbed arrows shows how inventive talent was displaying itself; bone and horn tips, that the huntsman was including smaller animals, and perhaps birds, in his chase; bone whistles, his companionship with other huntsmen, or with his dog. The scraping knives of flint, indicate the use of skin for clothing, and rude bodkins and needles, its manufacture. Shells perforated for bracelets and necklaces, prove how soon a taste for personal adornment was acquired; the implements necessary for the

Their social condition.

preparation of pigments suggest the painting of the body, and perhaps, tattooing; and batons of rank bear witness to the beginning of a social organization.

We have thus as our starting-point a barbarian population, believers in sorcery, and, in some places, undoubtedly cannibals, maintaining, in the central and northern parts of Europe, their existence with difficulty by reason of the severity of the climate. In the southern, more congenial conditions permitted a form of civilization to commence, of which the rude Cyclopean structures here and there met with, such as the ruins of Orchomenos, the lion gate of Mycenæ, the tunnel of Lake Copais, are perhaps the vestiges.

At what period this intrusive Indo-Germanic column made its attack cannot be ascertained. The national vocabularies of Europe, to which we must resort for evidence, might lead us to infer that the condition of civili

zation of the conquering people was not very

advanced. They were acquainted with the use of domestic animals, farming implements, carts, and yokes ; they were also possessed of boats, the rudder, oars, but were unacquainted with the movement of vessels by sails. These conclusions seem to be established by the facts that words equivalent to boat, rudder, oar, are common to the languages of the offshoots of the stock, though located very widely asunder; but those for mast and sails are of special invention, and differ in adjacent nations.

In nearly all the Indo-Germanic tongues, the family names, father, mother, brother, sister, daughter, are the

same respectively. A similar equivalence may state deduced be observed in a great many familiar objects, from their vo- house, door, town, path. It has been remarked,

that while this holds good for terms of a peaceful nature, many of those connected with warfare and the chase are different in different languages. Such facts appear to prove that the Asiatic invaders followed a nomadic and pastoral life. Many of the terms connected with such an avocation are widely diffused. This is the case with ploughing, grinding, weaving, cooking, baking, sewing, spinning; with such objects as corn,

Their civil


« AnteriorContinuar »