Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/744

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after escaping from the stronger into regions unfavorable to civilization, and, secondly, that many powerful nations have declined and decayed, it was shown that the men in the most remote and unfavorable regions have not always been the lowest in the scale; that men have been frequently found "among the woods and rocks" in a higher state of civilization than on the fertile plains, such examples being cited as Mexico, Peru, and even Scotland; and that while there were many examples of special and local decline, overwhelming masses of facts point to progress as a rule.

The improbability, not to say impossibility, of many of the conclusions arrived at by the duke appeared more and more strongly as more became known of the lower tribes of mankind. It was necessary on his theory to suppose many things which our knowledge of the human race absolutely forbids us to believe: for example, it was necessary to suppose that the Australians or New Zealanders, having once possessed so simple and convenient an art as that of the potter, had lost every trace of it; and that the same tribes, having once had so simple a means of saving labor as the spindle or small stick weighted at one end for spinning, had given it up and gone back to twisting threads with the hand. In fact, it was necessary to suppose that one of the main occupations of man from "the beginning" had been the forgetting of simple methods, processes, and implements, which all experience in the actual world teaches us are never entirely forgotten by peoples who have once acquired them.

Some leading arguments of the duke were overthrown by simple statements of fact. Thus, his instance of the Eskimo as pushed to the verge of habitable America, and therefore living in the lowest depths of savagery, which even if it were true by no means proved a general rule, was deprived of its force by the simple fact that the Eskimo are by no means the lowest race on the American continent, and that various tribes far more centrally and advantageously placed, as, for instance, those in Brazil, are really inferior to them in the scale of culture. Again, his statement that "in Africa there appear to be no traces of any time when the natives were not acquainted with the use of iron" is met by the fact that from the Nile Valley to the Cape of Good Hope we find, wherever examination has been made, the same early stone implements which in all other parts of the world precede the use of iron, some of which at least would not have been made had their makers possessed iron. The duke also tried to show that there were no distinctive epochs of stone, bronze, and iron, by adducing the fact that some stone implements are found even in some high civilizations. This is indeed a fact. We find some few European peasants to-day using stone mallet-heads; but this