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

: 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 p
riods 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"Electricity in its varied forms does all work, having superseded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."