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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/649

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THE GOLD SANDS OF CAPE NOME.

have been already wrecked in ancient or modern times. And it is far safer to leave such men unwatched, with the certainty that they will receive a fair value for all they find, than it is to drive a gang under the lash, on bare wages, without rewards to keep them from pilfering. The English system means mutual confidence and good faith; the native and French system of force means the destruction of both information and antiquities.

And yet besides this there is the essential business of observing and recording. Every hole dug must have a meaning and be understood, as to the date of the ground at different levels and the nature of the place. Everything must be spelled out as the work advances; any difficulties that can not be explained must be tried with all possible hypotheses; each detail must either fall into place as agreeing with what is known, or be built in as a new piece of knowledge.

Twenty years ago nothing was known of the date of any Egyptian manufactures, not even of pottery or beads, which are the commonest. Now, at present it is seldom that anything is found which can not be dated tolerably near by, and in some classes of remains the century or even the reign can be stated at once, without a single word to show it. The science of Egyptian archæology is now in being.

In this, therefore, as in many other matters, the Anglo-Saxon taste for private enterprise is the ruling power, and in spite of political obstacles and of taxation, which are happily unknown in other sciences, the private work of individuals has quietly traced out the foundations of one of the earliest civilizations of mankind.

 

THE GOLD SANDS OF CAPE NOME.
By Prof. ANGELO HEILPRIN,

LATE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILADELPHIA GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY.

ONE of the most interesting contributions to the history of gold and gold mining has undoubtedly been discovered in the region of Cape Nome, Alaska, during the past summer. Vague reports have from time to time, for a period of a year or more, been sent out from the bleak and inhospitable shores of Bering Sea of the discovery there of rich deposits of placer gold, and of almost fabulous wealth acquired by a few fortunate prospectors—a new Klondike on American soil—but these gained little credence beyond the portals of transportation companies and the organizers of "boom" enterprises. A few of the more credulous and those unmindful of adventure and hardship took practical action on the