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there are other explanations with authoritative names behind them. The old dread of the Western Ocean is attributed to the teaching of primitive religions that there was the land of shades, and to the colossal trickery of Phænician mariners who wanted no competitors beyond the Pillars. The American legends of bright-faced strangers coming over the water from the east are declared to be still another form of the sun myth. The worldwide tradition of a deluge may represent the independent thinking of various races of men who found fossil shells on their hill. sides and reasoned that at some time a sea had covered them. It is asserted that Termier assumed too much for his specific evidence of a recent submersion—the fragments of tachylyte dredged from the ocean floor—when he declared that vitreous lava could not form under the sea. Accepting, as many geographers do, that a great land domain has sunk near the coast of Africa, they say that this was not a historic, nor a prehistoric, but a geologic event.
The controversy reduces itself, at last, to a question of time: Did the large island which Plato called Atlantis disappear after men came upon the earth? Termier does not assert this, but thinks it possible, and in some measure the wish is father to the thought. As an American geographer puts it, “It is well known that Professor Termier is not only a good geologist, but also a great lover of the beautiful and much given to the poetic in speaking and writing.” This passage in the Termier address is in point:
“Meanwhile not only will science, most modern science, not make it a crime for all lovers of beautiful legends to believe in Plato's story of Atlantis, but science herself through my voice calls their attention to it. Science herself, taking them by the hand and leading them along the wreck-strewn ocean shores, spreads before their eyes, with thousands of disabled ships, the continents submerged or reduced to remnants, and the isles without number enshrouded in the abyss.
Beyond the appeal to poetry the Atlantis legend has anotheran appeal which is also a temptation. It explains much, perhaps too much. There are gaps in the story of human origins, and in the history of the arts and sciences, that are as wide as the black voids the astronomer sees in the skies. Atlantis fills them all. Science has sought to fill them by assumptions—the origin of man in a drowned continent of the Pacific called Lemuria, of which Australia is a fragment; the origin of civil. ization on the Mediterranean floor when it was dry land. These are assumptions without a tradition behind them. Paradoxically enough, the point of attack upon the Atlantis theory is that a legend supports it, and other legends fit into it. The whole matches into an ingenious and simple design, and are the affairs of nature and man ever so simple?
It is not for anyone to answer yet, perhaps ever. But one has license from Termier to speculate, and, if one will, to dream. If in substance Plato's tale was true, it needs no effort of image ination to picture the empire of Atlantis as it was eleven thou. sand years ago, for all its drama save the dreadful end has been repeated. The British Isles, with their sea-borne commerce, their Mediterranean and Caribbean garrisons, their mines and metal workings, their ancient Druidical religion and costume, even their addiction to horse-racing, reproduce in the northern seas the story of this vanished island dominion south and west of Gibraltar.
The outlines of the crowning calamity of history—if history it was—have already been drawn by legend, and there are authentic human experiences on a lesser scale, and in other times and places, to fill in the canvas. In the European port nearest the supposed site of Atlantis, on the first day of November, 1775, a sound of thunder was heard underground, and in an earthquake that shook twelve million miles of sea and land the city of Lisbon fell in ruins, burying sixty thousand persons beneath it.
“About one o'clock in the afternoon”—it is Pliny the Younger speaking, the place is near Pompeii, and the time August 24th, A.D 79—“a vast and singular cloud was seen to elevate itself in the atmosphere. It spread horizontally, in form like the branches of the pine, and precipitated the burning materials with which it was charged upon the many lovely but ill-fated villages which stood upon this delightful coast. ...
.. Multitudes crowded toward the beach, but the boisterous agitation of the sea, alternately rolling on the shore and thrown back by the convulsive motion of the earth, precluded every possibility
Now were heard the shrieks of women, screams of children, clamors of men, all accursing their fate and imploring death, the deliverance they feared, with outstretched hands to the gods whom many thought about to be involved together with themselves in the last eternal night.”
Let the biblical account of the deluge speak the closing word upon Atlantis: "And all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered, and the waters prevailed upon the earth.'
One turns from the convulsion and welter of the deep, and the beautiful and dreadful thing that lay beneath it, and fixes the gaze on archaic ships, laden with strangely robed men and women, riding the long billows of the Caribbean toward a quiet shore. There if the dreamers are right-they built another civilization, which flourished and in turn vanished, with its temples and palaces, beneath the green mantle of the tropic forest. If the dreamers are right.
The high plateau of Cundinamarca in the interior of Colombia was once an inland sea. Its vestiges remain in small lakes which the Indians held sacred, and into which they cast offerings of emeralds and golden ornaments. There was a special ceremony at Lake Guatavitá. When a cacique died and another was chosen, a long procession moved down to the shore. At the head went mourners, nude and wailing, their bodies stained with red ochre. Behind them were other groups in jaguar skins, their hair dressed with feathers, their limbs agleam with barbaric jewelwork. Amid the joyful tumult of horns and pipes followed the priests in tall black caps and long black robes. In the rear came high priests and nobles carrying a bar. row hung with disks of gold. Upon the barrow rode El Dorado
-the Gilded Man-newly chosen chief of an obscure native tribe, and destined to become, through no quality of his own, the elusive central figure in the most singular chapter in exploration, above all others the figure of fate in South America.
He was well named, with the poetry wherewith Spain had invested the very headlands and harbors that her sons had found in the west. Like the mourners, the Gilded Man was naked, and yet he was clad. His body had been rubbed with fragrant gums, and priests with tubes had blown gold dust over him, until he gleamed like the god of day incarnate. Arrived at the shore, the enameled chief went upon a raft with his cortège and was ferried to the middle of the lake. There he plunged in and laved himself while the people shouted and the trumpets brayed on the beach. The golden dust that had covered him glim. mered down through the water as an offering to its deity. In its wake followed the bracelets and brooches which the attendant lords flung into the pool. So the ceremony ended.
This rite, beautiful and significant, is history, and not baseless legend. Golden ornaments have been uncovered in the lake, which was drained by modern treasure-seekers; among them was a piece wrought with some art which seems to be a representation of the sacred raft and its passengers. Humboldt thinks that the rite came from warmer regions and that the nude figures and coronation bath are alien to the climate of the tableland. But the fatal feature of the ceremony is that it was already history when the Spaniards heard of it. The Muysca Indians of the Bogota region subjugated the Muysca Indians of the Guatavitá region about the time of the discovery of America. The custom of bathing a gilded cacique passed with this small tribal conquest. The memory of it remained. Unique among the customs of the continent, it was talked of along the coasts of the Caribbean when the Spaniards came. There were ru. mors of it in Peru, and even farther south.
“Let us go in search of that gilded Indian,” said Belalcazar when a native of the north brought the first news of him to Quito, which had fallen to Pizarro a few years before. The Spaniards went, and found all there was to find—the deep waters of Guatavitá. But this did not content them. The Gilded Man was a symbol. He stood for something larger than a rite that might take place once in a generation. He stood for the very arrogance and folly of a royal and a priestly wealth that must be beyond measure. Every sunrise the body of the haughty savage was covered afresh with glittering dust. Every sunset, so the Spaniards fabled, he cleansed himself in a pool, the bottom of which had slowly paved itself with gold, as generation after generation of his dynasty performed their ablutions. Only a mighty nation and a rich could have so prodigal a king; and so El Dorado came to mean not so much a man as a golden city in a gilded land. The altars and ewers and basins of its temples, the furnishings and plate of its palaces, the jewels and table service of its nobles—here was promise of a booty to match the loot of Mexico and Peru.
In seeking it Spain spent more lives and sank more treasure than in all its conquests in the New World.
Somehow the land that held it seemed to recede as the exploring columns advanced. It was sought in Colombia, in Venezuela, in eastern Peru, in northwestern Brazil, in Bolivia, and from Paraguay. Over a great inverted triangle the base of