Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/53

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genealogies for ten generations. There is nevertheless something in other accounts related by them which may possibly suggest traditions relating to changes that had taken place upon the globe in the past, and traditions that might have come down from the glacial period, when Nature conducted her operations upon such a stupendous scale. It would appear as though their rude intelligence had argued what would take place in the future from what had transpired in the past. For instance, it was their belief at the time the missionary came among them, that all of the present race would become extinct, and the earth be broken up by some widely operating force, and then purified by a vast flood of water, after which the dust of the earth would be blown together and become more beautiful than before, as the rocks would disappear, being covered with verdure. Now, in this was their fancy stimulated by traditions that had come down to them from glacial ancestors, concerning what we call geological epochs, or was this also taught them by the Northmen? It is, perhaps, to be regretted that we have so few of these relations by the early Greenlander, as they might have proved useful in connection with the attempt to solve the question of his origin. Nevertheless, the case is by no means hopeless, and testimony may yet be discovered that will connect him beyond question with the glacial man.



PERHAPS there are but few persons who have read Poe's "Raven," or Dickens's "Barnaby Rudge," who have not felt some curiosity to learn why ravens and crows, more than any other birds, should be invested with characters so ominous and demoniacal. And not only do these birds bear this ominous reputation in poetry and fiction, and in the legends and folklore of many of the nations of the earth, but by the unlearned they are still looked upon as too weird and uncanny for ordinary birds; and many a person can be found even in this age of positivism who would consider a crow lighting upon his house-top as certain a harbinger of evil as Hesiod did, seven hundred and fifty years before Christ, when he said to his brother Perses, "Nor when building a house, leave it not unfinished, lest, mark you, perching upon it, the cawing crow should croak."[1]

In this age, our plane of thought is so far above that of our rude and ignorant ancestors that their superstitions and myths seem too puerile to merit notice; but when we study them attentively, with

  1. Hesiod, "Works and Days."