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Prof Cortlandt's Historical Sketch Of The World In A D 2000

Part of: JUNITER
From: A Journey In Other Worlds

Prof. Cortlandt, preparing a history of the times at the
beginning of the great terrestrial and astronomical change, wrote
as follows: "This period--A.D. 2000--is by far the most
wonderful the world has as yet seen. The advance in scientific
knowledge and attainment within the memory, of the present
generation has been so stupendous that it completely overshadows
all that has preceded. All times in history and all periods of
the world have been remarkable for some distinctive or
characteristic trait. The feature of the period of Louis XIV was
the splendour of the court and the centralization of power in
Paris. The year 1789 marked the decline of the power of courts
and the evolution of government by the people. So, by the spread
of republican ideas and the great advance in science, education
has become universal, for women as well as for men, and this is
more than ever a mechanical age.

"With increased knowledge we are constantly coming to realize how
little we really know, and are also continually finding
manifestations of forces that at first seem like exceptions to
established laws. This is, of course, brought about by the
modifying influence of some other natural law, though many of
these we have not yet discovered.

"Electricity in its varied forms does all work, having superseded
animal and manual labour in everything, and man has only to
direct. The greatest ingenuity next to finding new uses for this
almost omnipotent fluid has been displayed in inducing the forces
of Nature, and even the sun, to produce it. Before describing
the features of this perfection of civilization, let us review
the steps by which society and the political world reached their
present state.

"At the close of the Franco-Prussian War, in 1871, Continental
Europe entered upon the condition of an armed camp, which lasted
for nearly half a century. The primary cause of this was the
mutual dislike and jealousy of France and Germany, each of which
strove to have a larger and better equipped national defence than
the other. There were also many other causes, as the ambition of
the Russian Czar, supported by his country's vast though
imperfectly developed resources and practically unlimited supply
of men, one phase of which was the constant ferment in the Balkan
Peninsula, and another Russia's schemes for extension in Asia;
another was the general desire for colonies in Africa, in which
one Continental power pretty effectually blocked another, and the
latent distrust inside the Triple Alliance. England, meanwhile,
preserved a wise and profitable neutrality.

"These tremendous sacrifices for armaments, both on land and
water, had far-reaching results, and, as we see it now, were
clouds with silver linings. The demand for hardened steel
projectiles, nickel-steel plates, and light and almost
unbreakable machinery, was a great incentive to improvement in
metallurgy while the necessity for compact and safely carried
ammunition greatly stimulated chemical research, and led to the
discovery of explosives whose powers no obstacle can resist, and
incidentally to other more useful things.

"Further mechanical and scientific progress, however, such as
flying machines provided with these high explosives, and
asphyxiating bombs containing compressed gas that could be fired
from guns or dropped from the air, intervened. The former would
have laid every city in the dust, and the latter might have
almost exterminated the race. These discoveries providentially
prevented hostilities, so that the 'Great War,' so long expected,
never came, and the rival nations had their pains for nothing,
or, rather, for others than themselves.

"Let us now examine the political and ethnological results.
Hundreds of thousands, of the flower of Continental Europe were
killed by overwork and short rations, and millions of desirable
and often--unfortunately for us--undesirable people were driven
to emigration, nearly all of whom came to English-speaking
territory, greatly increasing our productiveness and power. As,
we have seen, the jealousy of the Continental powers for one
another effectually prevented their extending their influence or
protectorates to other continents, which jealousy was
considerably aided by the small but destructive wars that did
take place. High taxes also made it more difficult for the
moneyed men to invest in colonizing or development companies,
which are so often the forerunners of absorption; while the
United States, with her coal--of which the Mediterranean states
have scarcely any--other resources, and low taxes, which, though
necessary, can be nothing but an evil, has been able to expand
naturally as no other nation ever has before.

"This has given the English-speakers, especially the United
States, a free hand, rendering enforcement of the Monroe doctrine
easy, and started English a long way towards becoming the
universal language, while all formerly unoccupied land is now
owned by those speaking it.

"At the close of our civil war, in 1865, we had but 3,000,000
square miles, and a population of 34,000,000. The country
staggered beneath a colossal debt of over $4,000,000,000, had an
expensive but essentially perishable navy, and there was an
ominous feeling between the sections. The purchase of Alaska in
1867, by which we added over half a million square miles to our
territory, marked the resumption of the forward march of the
United States. Twenty-five years later, at the presidential
campaign of 1892, the debt had been reduced to $900,000,000,
deducting the sinking fund, and the charge for pensions had about
reached its maximum and soon began to decrease, though no one
objected to any amount of reward for bona fide soldiers who had
helped to save the country. The country's wealth had also
enormously increased, while the population had grown to
65,000,000. Our ancestors had, completed or in building, a navy
of which no nation need be ashamed; and, though occasionally
marred by hard times, there was general prosperity.

"Gradually the different States of Canada--or provinces, as they
were then called--came to realize that their future would be far
grander and more glorious in union with the United States than
separated from it; and also that their sympathy was far stronger
for their nearest neighbours than for any one else. One by one
these Northern States made known their desire for consolidation
with the Union, retaining complete control of their local
affairs, as have the older States. They were gladly welcomed by
our Government and people, and possible rivals became the best of
friends. Preceding and also following this, the States of
Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America, tiring of
the incessant revolutions and difficulties among themselves,
which had pretty constantly looked upon us as a big brother on
account of our maintenance of the Monroe doctrine, began to
agitate for annexation, knowing they would retain control of
their local affairs. In this they were vigorously supported by
the American residents and property-holders, who knew that their
possessions would double in value the day the United States
Constitution was signed.

"Thus, in the first place, by the encouragement of our people,
and latterly, apparently, by its own volition, the Union has
increased enormously in power, till it now embraces 10,000,000
square miles, and has a free and enlightened population of
300,000,000. Though the Union established by Washington and his
contemporaries has attained such tremendous proportions, its
growth is by no means finished; and as a result of modern
improvements, it is less of a journey now to go from Alaska to
the Orinoco than it was for the Father of his Country to travel
from New York or Philadelphia to the site of the city named in
his honour.

"Adequate and really rapid transportation facilities have done
much to bind the different parts of the country together, and to
rub off the edges of local prejudice. Though we always favour
peace, no nation would think of opposing the expressed wishes of
the United States, and our moral power for good is tremendous.
The name Japhet means enlargement, and the prophecy seems about
to be literally fulfilled by these his descendants. The bankrupt
suffering of so many European Continental powers had also other
results. It enabled the socialists--who have never been able to
see beyond themselves--to force their governments into selling
their colonies in the Eastern hemisphere to England, and their
islands in the Western to us, in order to realize upon them.
With the addition of Canada to the United States and its loss to
the British Empire, the land possessions of the two powers became
about equal, our Union being a trifle the larger. All danger of
war being removed by the Canadian change, a healthful and
friendly competition took its place, the nations competing in
their growth on different hemispheres. England easily added
large areas in Asia and Africa, while the United States grew as
we have seen. The race is still, in a sense, neck-and-neck, and
the English-speakers together possess nearly half the globe. The
world's recent rate of progress would have been impossible
without this approximation to a universal language. The causes
that checkmated the Continental powers have ceased to exist.
Many millions of men whose principal thought had been to destroy
other members of the race became producers, but it was then too
late, for the heavy armaments had done their work.

"Let us now glance at the times as they are, and see how the
business of life is transacted. Manhattan Island has something
over 2,500,000 inhabitants, and is surrounded by a belt of
population, several miles wide, of 12,000,000 more, of which it
is the focus, so that the entire city contains more than
14,500,000 souls. The several hundred square miles of land and
water forming greater New York are perfectly united by numerous
bridges, tunnels, and electric ferries, while the city's great
natural advantages have been enhanced and beautified by every
ingenious device. No main avenue in the newer sections is less
than two hundred feet wide, containing shade and fruit trees, a
bridle-path, broad sidewalks, and open spaces for carriages and
bicycles. Several fine diagonal streets and breathing-squares
have also been provided in the older sections, and the existing
parks have been supplemented by intermediate ones, all being
connected by parkways to form continuous chains.

"The hollow masts of our ships--to glance at another phase en
passant--carry windmills instead of sails, through which the wind
performs the work, of storing a great part of the energy required
to run them at sea, while they are discharging or loading cargo
in port; and it can, of course, work to better advantage while
they are stationary than when they are running before it. These
turbines are made entirely of light metal, and fold when not in
use, so that only the frames are visible. Sometimes these also
fold and are housed, or wholly disappear within the mast.
Steam-boilers are also placed at the foci of huge concave
mirrors, often a hundred feet in diameter, the required heat
being supplied by the sun, without smoke, instead of by bulky and
dirty coal. This discovery gave commercial value to Sahara and
other tropical deserts, which are now desirable for mill-sites
and for generating power, on account of the directness with which
they receive the sun's rays and their freedom from clouds. Mile
after mile Africa has been won for the uses of civilization, till
great stretches that were considered impassible are as productive
as gardens. Our condensers, which compress, cool, and rarefy
air, enabling travellers to obtain water and even ice from the
atmosphere, are great aids in desert exploration, removing
absolutely the principal distress of the ancient caravan. The
erstwhile 'Dark Continent' has a larger white population now than
North America had a hundred years ago, and has this advantage for
the future, that it contains 11,600,000 square miles, while North
America has less than 9,000,000. Every part of the globe will
soon sustain about as large and prosperous a population as the
amount of energy it receives from the sun and other sources will
warrant; public debts and the efficiency of the governments being
the variable elements.

"The rabbits in Australia, and the far more objectionable
poisonous snakes in South America and India, have been
exterminated by the capture of a few dozen of the creatures in
the infested districts, their inoculation with the virus similar
to the murus tiphi, tuberculosis or any other contagious-germ
complaint to which the species treated was particularly
susceptible, and the release of these individuals when the
disease was seen to be taking hold. The rabbits and serpents
released at once returned to their old haunts, carrying the
plague far and wide. The unfortunate rabbits were greatly
commiserated even by the medicos that wielded the death-dealing
syringe; but, fortunately for themselves, they died easily. The
reptiles, perhaps on account of the wider distribution of the
nerve centres, had more lingering but not painful deaths, often,
while in articulo mortis, leaving the holes with which they
seemed to connect their discomfort, and making a final struggle
along the ground, only to die more quickly as a result of their
exertions. We have applied this also to the potato-bug, locust,
and other insect pests, no victim being too small for the
ubiquitous, subtle germ, which, properly cultivated and utilized,
has become one of man's best friends.

"We have microbe tests that show us as unmistakably whether the
germs of any particular disease--like malaria, typhoid, or
scarlet fever--are present in the air, as litmus-paper shows
alkalinity of a solution. We also inoculate as a preventive
against these and almost all other germ diseases, with the same
success that we vaccinate for smallpox.

"The medicinal properties of all articles of food are so well
understood also, that most cures are brought about simply by
dieting. This, reminds me of the mistakes perpetrated on a
friend of mine who called in Dr. Grave-Powders, one of the
old-school physicians, to be treated for insomnia and dyspepsia.
This old numskull restricted his diet, gave him huge doses of
medicine, and decided most learnedly that he was daily growing
worse. Concluding that he had but a short time to live, my
friend threw away the nauseating medicines, ate whatever he had a
natural desire for, and was soon as well as ever--the obvious
moral of which is, that we can get whatever treatment we need
most beneficially from our food. Our physicians are most serious
and thoughtful men. They never claim to be infallible, but study
scientifically to increase their knowledge and improve the
methods of treatment. As a result of this, fresh air, regular
exercise for both sexes, with better conditions, and the
preservation of the lives of children that formerly died by
thousands from preventable causes, the physique, especially of
women, is wonderfully improved, and the average longevity is
already over sixty.

"Our social structure, to be brief, is based on science, or the
conservation of energy, as the Greek philosophers predicted. It
was known to them that a certain amount of power would produce
only a certain amount of work--that is, the weight of a clock in
descending or a spring in uncoiling returns theoretically the
amount of work expended in raising or coiling it, and in no
possible way can it do more. In practice, on account of
friction, etc., we know it does less. This law, being
invariable, of course limits us, as it did Archimedes and
Pythagoras; we have simply utilized sources of power that their
clumsy workmen allowed to escape. Of the four principal
sources--food, fuel, wind, and tide--including harnessed
waterfalls, the last two do by far the most work. Much of the
electrical energy in every thunderstorm is also captured and
condensed in our capacious storage batteries, as natural hygeia
in the form of rain was and is still caught in our country
cisterns. Every exposed place is crowned by a cluster of huge
windmills that lift water to some pond or reservoir placed as
high as possible. Every stiff breeze, therefore, raises millions
of tons of water which operate hydraulic turbines as required.
Incidentally these storage reservoirs, by increasing the surface
exposed to evaporation and the consequent rainfall, have a very
beneficial effect on the dry regions in the interior of the
continent, and in some cases have almost superseded irrigation.
The windmill and dynamo thus utilize bleak mountain-tops that,
till their discovery, seemed to be but indifferent successes in
Dame Nature's domain. The electricity generated by these, in
connection with that obtained by waterfalls, tidal dynamos,
thunderstorms, chemical action, and slow-moving
quadruple-expansion steam engines, provides the power required to
run our electric ships and water-spiders, railways, and
stationary and portable motors, for heating the cables laid along
the bottom of our canals to prevent their freezing in winter, and
for almost every conceivable purpose. Sometimes a man has a

windmill on his roof for light and heat; then, the harder the
wintry blasts may blow the brighter and warmer becomes the house,
the current passing through a storage battery to make it more
steady. The operation of our ordinary electric railways is very
simple: the current is taken from an overhead, side, or
underneath wire, directly through the air, without the
intervention of a trolley, and the fast cars, for they are no
longer run in trains, make five miles a minute. The entire
weight of each car being used for its own traction, it can ascend
very steep grades, and can attain high speed or stop very

"Another form is the magnetic railway, on which the cars are
wedge-shaped at both ends, and moved by huge magnets weighing
four thousand tons each, placed fifty miles apart. On passing a
magnet, the nature of the electricity charging a car is
automatically changed from positive to negative, or vice versa,
to that of the magnet just passed, so that it repels while the
next attracts. The successive magnets are charged oppositely,
the sections being divided halfway between by insulators, the
nature of the electricity in each section being governed by the
charge in the magnet. To prevent one kind of electricity from
uniting with and neutralizing that in the next section by passing
through the car at the moment of transit, there is a "dead
stretch" of fifty yards with rails not charged at all between the
sections. This change in the nature of the electricity is
repeated automatically every fifty miles, and obviates the
necessity of revolving machinery, the rails aiding communication.

"Magnetism being practically as instantaneous as gravitation, the
only limitations to speed are the electrical pressure at the
magnets, the resistance of the air, and the danger of the wheels
bursting from centrifugal force. The first can seemingly be
increased without limit; the atmospheric resistance is about to
be reduced by running the cars hermetically sealed through a
partial vacuum in a steel and toughened glass tube; while the
third has been removed indefinitely by the use of galvanized
aluminum, which bears about the same relation to ordinary
aluminum that steel does to iron, and which has twice the tensile
strength and but one third the weight of steel. In some cases
the rails are made turned in, so that it would be impossible for
a car to leave the track without the road-bed's being totally
demolished; but in most cases this is found to be unnecessary,
for no through line has a curve on its vast stretches with a
radius of less than half a mile. Rails, one hundred and sixty
pounds to the yard, are set in grooved steel ties, which in turn
are held by a concrete road-bed consisting of broken stone and
cement, making spreading rails and loose ballast impossible. A
large increase in capital was necessary for these improvements,
the elimination of curves being the most laborious part,
requiring bridges, cuttings, and embankments that dwarf the
Pyramids and would have made the ancient Pharaohs open their
eyes; but with the low rate of interest on bonds, the slight cost
of power, and great increase in business, the venture was a
success, and we are now in sight of further advances that will
enable a traveller in a high latitude moving west to keep pace
with the sun, and, should he wish it, to have unending day."

Next: Dr Cortlandt's History Continued

Previous: President Bearwarden's Speech

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