« EelmineJätka »
which with great arrogance pushed its way into Europe and Asia from the Atlantic Ocean. Beyond the entrance wbich you call the Pillars of Hercules there was an island larger than Libya and Asia together. From it navigation passed to the other islands, and from them to the opposite continent which surrounded that ocean. On this great Atlantic island there was a powerful and singular kingdom, whose dominion extended not only over the whole island, but over many others, and parts of the continent. It ruled also over Libya as far as Egypt, and over Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This kingdom with the whole of its forces united tried to subjugate in one campaign your country and ours, and all the country within the strait. At that time, O Solon, your nation shone out from all others by bravery and power. It was placed in great danger, but it defeated the attacking army, and erected triumphal monuments. But when at a later period earthquakes and great floods took place, the whole of your united army was swallowed up during one evil day and one evil night, and at the same time the island of Atlantis sank into the sea.” Crantor, quoted by Proclus, corroborates the account by Plato, and says that he found this same story retained by the priests of Sais, three hundred years after the period of Solon, and that he was shown the inscriptions on which it was recorded.
Turning to the western side of the Atlantic, we find in the “ Teo Amoxtli," as translated by the Abbé Brasseur de Bourburg, an account of the overwhelming of a country by the sea, when thunder and flames came out of it, and “the mountains were sinking and rising.” Everywhere throughout America there are traditions of a great catastrophe, in which a whole country was submerged, and only a few people escaped to the mountains; and the Spanish conquerors relate with wonder the accounts they found amongst the Indians of a universal deluge. Amongst the modern Indians the traveller, Catlin, relates that in one hundred and twenty different tribes that he had visited in North, and South, and Central America, “every tribe related, more or less distinctly, their tradition of the deluge, in which one, or three, or eight persons were saved above the waters on the top of a high mountain.”*
If Atlantis were lowlands connecting the West Indian islands with America, the other islands mentioned by Plato may have been the Azores, also greatly increased in extent by the lowering of the ocean; and the overwhelming of this lowland, on the melting of the ice at the close of the glacial period, may be that great catastrophe that is recorded on both sides of the Atlantic, but is more clearly remembered in the traditions of America, because all the highlands there had been covered with ice, and the inhabitants were restricted to those that were overwhelmed by the deluge.
I approached this subject from the side of Natural History. I was driven to look for a refuge for the animals and plants of tropical America during the glacial period, when I found proofs that the land they now occupy was at that time either covered with ice or too cold for genera that can now only live where frost is unknown. I had arrived at the conclusion that they must have inhabited lowlands now submerged, and following up the question, I soon saw that the very
* “Lifted and Subsided Rocks in America,” by G. Catlin, p. 182.
Ch. XIV.] THE SEA DRAINED BY GLACIAL ICE.
accumulation of ice that made their abode impossible provided another for them by the lowering of the sea. Then pursuing the subject still further, I saw that all over the world curious questions concerning the distribution of races of mankind, of animals, and of plants, were rendered more easy of solution on the theory that land was more continuous once than now; that islands now separated were then joined together, and to adjacent continents; and that what are now banks and shoals beneath the sea were then peopled lowlands.
I have said that during the glacial period, if, as I believe, it was contemporaneous in the two hemispheres, the sea must have stood at least 1000 feet lower than it now does. It may have been much lower than this, but I prefer to err on the safe side. When geologists have mapped out the limits of ancient glacier and continental ice all over the world, it will be possible to calculate the minimum amount of water that was abstracted from the sea; and if by that time hydrographers have shown on their charts the shoals and submerged banks that would be laid dry, fabled Atlantis will rise before our eyes between Europe and America, and in the Pacific the Malay Archipelago will give place to the Malay Continent. Here is a noble inquiry, an unexplored region of research, at the entrance of which I can only stand and point the way for abler and stronger minds; an inquiry that will lead to the knowledge of the lands where dwelt the peoples of the glacial period who lived before the flood.
Vague and visionary as these speculations must seem to many, to others who are acquainted with the enormous glaciation to which America has been subjected they
will appear to be based on substantial truths. The immense accumulation of ice over both poles, reaching far down into the temperate zones, in some meridians encroaching on the tropics, and in Equatorial America certainly all the land, lying 2000 feet above the level of the sea, supporting great glaciers, involve conditions which must have greatly drained the sea. Lands now submerged must have been uncovered, and on the return of the waters at the close of the glacial period many a peopled lowland must have been overwhelmed in the nearly universal deluge.
( 275 )
A Nicaraguan criininal–Geology between Ocotal and Totagalpa- Pre.
parations at Totagalpa for their annual festival-Chicha-drinking -Piety of the Indians-Ancient civilisation of tropical America -Palacaguina–Hospitality of the Mestizos—Curious custom at the festival at Condego-Cross range between Segovia and Matagalpa-Sontuli—Birds' nests.
We got back to Ocotal, from Depilto, before dark, and made arrangements for setting out on our return to the mines the next morning. Whilst sitting under the corridor, looking across the pretty flower-garden at the glowing western sky, illumined by the last rays of the setting sun, a poor fettered criminal, holding up by means of a string the thick chain that bound together his ankles, came limping along, with a soldier behind him armed with gun and bayonet. He had been brought out of prison to beg. In most of the towns of Nicaragua no food is given to the prisoners, whether convicted, or merely charged with crime. Those that have no money to buy food are sent out every day with an armed escort to beg. The prisoner that hobbled up to me was under twenty years of age, and had been convicted of murder and condemned to death. He had appealed against the sentence to a higher court, but I was told that there was scarcely any chance of a decision in his favour, and that he would probably be shot in a day or two. Not