Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

Ignatius Donnelly
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 287 pages of information about Caesar's Column.

“My son has already told me that you have this day rendered him and me an inestimable service.  I need not say that I thank you with all my heart.”

I made light of the matter and assured her that I was under greater obligations to her son than he was to me.  Soon after we sat down to dinner, a sumptuous meal, to which it seemed to me all parts of the world had contributed.  We had much pleasant conversation, for both the host and hostess were persons of ripe information.  In the old days our ancestors wasted years of valuable time in the study of languages that were no longer spoken on the earth; and civilization was thus cramped by the shadow of the ancient Roman Empire, whose dead but sceptered sovereigns still ruled the spirits of mankind from their urns.  Now every hour is considered precious for the accumulation of actual knowledge of facts and things, and for the cultivation of the graces of the mind; so that mankind has become wise in breadth of knowledge, and sweet and gentle in manner.  I expressed something of this thought to Maximilian, and he replied: 

“Yes; it is the greatest of pities that so noble and beautiful a civilization should have become so hollow and rotten at the core.”

“Rotten at the core!” I exclaimed, in astonishment; “what do you mean?”

“What I mean is that our civilization has grown to be a gorgeous shell; a mere mockery; a sham; outwardly fair and lovely, but inwardly full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  To think that mankind is so capable of good, and now so cultured and polished, and yet all above is cruelty, craft and destruction, and all below is suffering, wretchedness, sin and shame.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“That civilization is a gross and dreadful failure for seven-tenths of the human family; that seven-tenths of the backs of the world are insufficiently clothed; seven-tenths of the stomachs of the world are insufficiently fed; seven-tenths of the minds of the world are darkened and despairing, and filled with bitterness against the Author of the universe.  It is pitiful to think what society is, and then to think what it might have been if our ancestors had not cast away their magnificent opportunities—­had not thrown them into the pens of the swine of greed and gluttony.”

“But,” I replied, “the world does not look to me after that fashion.  I have been expressing to my family my delight at viewing the vast triumphs of man over nature, by which the most secret powers of the universe have been captured and harnessed for the good of our race.  Why, my friend, this city preaches at every pore, in every street and alley, in every shop and factory, the greatness of humanity, the splendor of civilization!”

“True, my friend,” replied Maximilian; “but you see only the surface, the shell, the crust of life in this great metropolis.  To-morrow we will go out together, and I shall show you the fruits of our modern civilization.  I shall take you, not upon the upper deck of society, where the flags are flying, the breeze blowing, and the music playing, but down into the dark and stuffy depths of the hold of the great vessel, where the sweating gnomes, in the glare of the furnace-heat, furnish the power which drives the mighty ship resplendent through the seas of time.  We will visit the Under-World.”

Follow Us on Facebook