Riddles of Prehistoric Time, James A. Anderson (Beaumont)

Riddles of Prehistoric Time, James A. Anderson (Beaumont)









4 March 2023

This work is a kind of log or record such as sailors keep of voyages in unknown seas. 

For forty years the author had been a plodding lawyer, but, having become incapacitated, by an apoplectic fit he, pondering on the riddle of existence, compiled this book, which is but a resume of facts gleaned while he was seeking to know whence came the world and its peoples. In making the investigation, the course pursued was the same as would have been taken in examining a law case, taking notes of facts found gathering information from various sources like a bee gathering material with which to load the hive from flower to flower.

More interesting than any tales that ever have been sung are the cradle songs, the earliest traditions concerning the evolution of the world from chaos to existing order.

From the beginning, man, powerless to explain the miracle of birth, the vicissitudes of life, the enigma of death, realised that there is some in scrutable power that worketh, now evil, now good.

As time went on and he contended with beasts and his fellows for subsistence and supremacy, he became imbued with the idea that the phenomena a that surrounded him, making or marring his comfort, were but the manifestations of, various powers also contending. Gods he called them, and these gods were oft capricious, now sending soft showers to cool the earth and beating down the tender grass with heavy rain, now fructifying every green thing with gentle heat and now parching herb and flower. Terrible were these Gods in anger, and he must appease them with protestation and sacrifice. Their altars and now he crowned with fragrant blossoms, and now drenched with blood.

Then came the great flood, and populous cities sank beneath the waves, and there were earthquakes and mountains belched forth fire and smoke. And the survivors fled far away lands, and as slaves, perchance, long regretted the Splendours of their fathers.

Mayhap their tales of the past excited derision in the halls of their new masters, and tradition was swallowed up in the oblivion of enforced silence. 

Be that as it may, we of the twentieth century, proud of our civilisation and enlightenment even we have not solved the picture writing on the ancient stones. Little we know of primitive ideas and vast empires that had fallen in decay long ere Solomon builded his temple unto the Lord, or David sang to soothe the troubled king we know in part and little by little, a fragment here and a fragment there, we are evolving the history of time.

The preparation of these chapters has been the means of whiling away the tedium of many an irksome hour, and should they inspire or accentuate the reader’ s interest in things ancient, then, indeed, the author may rest content.


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