A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version
Prof. Cortlandt's Historical Sketch Of The World In A. D.
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"Electricity in its varied forms does all work, having superseded animal and manual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