The Lost Continent

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 34

wrought to have erased not only every sign of
civilization from the face of this great land, but even the name of the
enemy from the knowledge and language of the people.

I could only account for it on the hypothesis that the country had been
entirely depopulated except for a few scattered and forgotten children,
who, in some marvelous manner, had been preserved by Providence to
re-populate the land. These children had, doubtless, been too young to
retain in their memories to transmit to their children any but the
vaguest suggestion of the cataclysm which had overwhelmed their parents.

Professor Cortoran, since my return to Pan-America, has suggested
another theory which is not entirely without claim to serious
consideration. He points out that it is quite beyond the pale of human
instinct to desert little children as my theory suggests the ancient
English must have done. He is more inclined to believe that the
expulsion of the foe from England was synchronous with widespread
victories by the allies upon the continent, and that the people of
England merely emigrated from their ruined cities and their devastated,
blood-drenched fields to the mainland, in the hope of finding, in the
domain of the conquered enemy, cities and farms which would replace
those they had lost.

The learned professor assumes that while a long-continued war had
strengthened rather than weakened the instinct of paternal devotion, it
had also dulled other humanitarian instincts, and raised to the first
magnitude the law of the survival of the fittest, with the result that
when the exodus took place the strong, the intelligent, and the
cunning, together with their offspring, crossed the waters of the
Channel or the North Sea to the continent, leaving in unhappy England
only the helpless inmates of asylums for the feebleminded and insane.

My objections to this, that the present inhabitants of England are
mentally fit, and could therefore not have descended from an ancestry
of undiluted lunacy he brushes aside with the assertion that insanity
is not necessarily hereditary; and that even though it was, in many
cases a return to natural conditions from the state of high
civilization, which is thought to have induced mental disease in the
ancient world, would, after several generations, have thoroughly
expunged every trace of the affliction from the brains and nerves of
the descendants of the original maniacs.

Personally, I do not place much stock in Professor Cortoran's theory,
though I admit that I am prejudiced. Naturally one does not care to
believe that the object of his greatest affection is descended from a
gibbering idiot and a raving

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