The World And The Books Are So Accustomed To Use, And Over-Use, The Word
'new' In Connection With Our Country, That We Early Get And Permanently
Retain The Impression That There Is Nothing Old About It.
We do of
course know that there are several comparatively old dates in American
history, but the mere figures convey to our minds no just idea, no
distinct realization, of the stretch of time which they represent.
say that De Soto, the first white man who ever saw the Mississippi
River, saw it in 1542, is a remark which states a fact without
interpreting it: it is something like giving the dimensions of a sunset
by astronomical measurements, and cataloguing the colors by their
scientific names; - as a result, you get the bald fact of the sunset, but
you don't see the sunset. It would have been better to paint a picture
The date 1542, standing by itself, means little or nothing to us; but
when one groups a few neighboring historical dates and facts around it,
he adds perspective and color, and then realizes that this is one of the
American dates which is quite respectable for age.
For instance, when the Mississippi was first seen by a white man, less
than a quarter of a century had elapsed since Francis I.'s defeat at
Pavia; the death of Raphael; the death of Bayard, SANS PEUR ET SANS
REPROCHE; the driving out of the Knights-Hospitallers from Rhodes by the
Turks; and the placarding of the Ninety-Five Propositions, - the act
which began the Reformation.
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