Foundation building is neither picturesque nor especially interesting, but it is indispensable. However fair the structure is to be, one must first lay the rough-hewn stones upon which it is to rest. It would be much pleasanter in this sketch to display at once the minarets and towers, and stained-glass windows; but that can only be done when one's castle is in Spain.
Would we comprehend the Germany of to-day, we must hold firmly in our minds an epitome of what it has been, and see vividly the devious path of its development through the ages.
The German nation is of ancient lineage, and indeed belongs to the royal line of human descent, the Aryan; its ancestral roots running back until lost in the heart of Asia, in the mists of antiquity.
The home of the Aryan race is shrouded in mystery, as are the impelling causes which sent those successive tides of humanity into Europe. But we know with certainty that when the last great wave spread over Eastern Europe, or Russia, about one thousand years before Christ, the submergence of that continent was complete.
Before the coming of the Aryan, the Rhine flowed as now; the Alps pierced the sky with their glistening peaks as they do to-day; the Danube, the Rhône, hurried on, as now, toward the sea. Was it all a beautiful, unpeopled solitude waiting in silence for the richly endowed Asiatic to come and possess it? Far from it. It was teeming with humanity—if, indeed, we may call such the race which modern research and discovery has revealed to us. It is only within the last thirty years that anything whatever has been known of prehistoric man; but now we are able to reconstruct him with probable accuracy. A creature, bestial in appearance and in life; dwelling in caves, which, however, a dawning sense of a higher humanity led him to decorate with carvings of birds and fishes; but, certain it is, the brain which inhabited that skull was incapable of performing the mental processes necessary to the simplest form of civilization; and life must have been to him simply a thing of fierce appetites and brutal instincts. Such was the being encountered by the Aryan, when he penetrated the mysterious land beyond the confines of Greece and Italy.
The extermination, and perhaps, to some extent, assimilation, of this terrible race must have required centuries of brutalizing conflict, and, it is easy to imagine, would have produced just such men as were the northern barbarians, who for five hundred years terrorized Europe: men insensible to fear, terrible, fierce, but with fine instincts for civilization—dormant Aryan germs, which quickly developed when brought into contact with a superior race.
The earliest Indo-European migration is supposed to have been into Greece and Italy, where was laid the basis for the civilization of the world. The second was probably into Western Europe and the British Isles; then, after many centuries, the central, and last, and at a time comparatively recent, into the Eastern portion of the continent....