Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/272

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268

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

metal has been produced in that nation, in small quantities, from remote antiquity. There are no evidences that India ever possessed any silver mines of note, but in Burmah there have been found extensive slag dumps rich in lead and zinc, and carrying a notable per cent, of the white metal, whence it may be inferred that it was produced there in some quantity at some time in the past. In the little known and very rugged region between Hindustan, the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, embracing the crude nationalities known as Persia, Armenia, Afghanistan and Baluchistan, there has been a small production ever since early historic times, and the same may be said of Asia Minor. The Grecian peninsula, however, possessed a silver-producing region of great importance and high antiquity, from which, as early as 1000 b.c., the metal came in notable quantity. There are no known ancient silver-producing districts of any note in Africa, but the Italian peninsula and Spain yielded the metal in early historic times, the former moderately and the latter very abundantly. In fact, Spain was really the first great silver-mining country of the world.

More than any other metal silver has been intimately associated with the advance of civilization, or rather of that very important department of human activity that is called commerce, meaning thereby international trade. Authentic history seems to begin with the fact of two comparatively peaceful, industrious and frugal races, occupying the rich valleys of the regions now called India and China; and a lot of turbulent, migratory people in western Asia, eastern Europe and northern Africa, who devoted much of their time and energy to fighting and destroying each others' homes. Between the two was the highest and most difficultly passable mountain chain in the world, known now as the Hindoo Koosh and Himalaya Range, which for centuries, and perhaps millenniums kept them apart effectively enough to allow each to develop its own peculiarities. The first, which we distinguish as the Orientals, appear to have settled down at a very early period to agricultural pursuits, and to such peaceful arts and occupations as were naturally the outgrowth of ruralism. Population grew fast, a crude and quiet, yet strong trading capacity developed, religious advance was marked, but was not of the proselyting kind, was more contemplative and introspective. The arts progressed only to a certain point, and then became stationary. Wealth was attained by industry and accumulation mainly, and did not often arise from exploration or conquest. Such luxury and ease as resulted never passed much beyond the barbaric stage. The sciences did not become exact or even organized, and have retained, up to the present day, an air of mysticism. Literature was of the contemplative kind, and produced only a most cumbersome methods of recording itself.

The second, which we may call the Occidentals, advanced along