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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/95

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Part II.

peopled a country so densely as to require art and to appreciate magnificence, the arts sprang up among them with as much perfection, we may fairly assume, as they Avould have attained had they been practised for thousands of years under the same circumstances and uninfluenced by foreigners. It is even more startling to find that the arts of the savages who inhabited the south of France, on the skirts of the glacial period, are identical with those of the Esquimaux of the present day, and even at that early time attained a degree of perfection which is startling, and could hardly be surpassed by any people in the same condition of life at the present day.


There is no reason to suppose that any people occupying so low a position in the intellectual scale could ever cultivate anything approaching to abstract science, and there is no proof of it existing. Living, however, as they did, on the verge of the tropics, in the most beautiful climates of the world, and where the sky is generally serene and unclouded, it was impossible but that they should become to some extent astronomers.

It is not known that any of them ever formed any theory to account for the phenomena they observed, but they seem to have watched the paths of the planets, to have recorded eclipses, and generally to have noted times and events with such correctness as enabled them to predict their return with very considerable precision; but here their science stopped, and it is not known that they ever attempted any other of the multifarious branches of modern knowledge.

We have only very imperfect means of knowing what their agriculture was; but it seems always to have been careful when once they passed from the shepherd state, though whether scientific or not it is not easy to say. On the point of artificial irrigation the Turanians have always been singularly expert. Wherever you follow their traces, the existence of a tunnel is almost as certain an indication of their pre-existence as that of a tomb. It is amusing, as it is instructive, to see at this hour an Arab Pacha breaking down in his attempt to restore the irrigation works of the old Pharaohs, or an English Engineer officer blundering in his endeavors to copy the works instinctively performed by a Mogul, or a Spaniard trying to drain the lakes of Mexico. Building and irrigation were the special instincts of this old people, and the practical intellect of the higher races seems hardly yet to have come up to the point where these arts were left by the early Turanian races, while the perfection they attained in them is the more singular from the contrast it affords to what they did, or rather, did not do, in other branches of art or science.