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March 19, 1922 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1922-03-19

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TION" , i
By Joseph McCabe
(A Review by R. D. S.)
Joseph McCabe, in his well-informed
little book, "The Evolution of Civiliza-
tion" (Putnam), has boiled down the
subject matter of such works as "The
Outline of History" and "The Story
of Mankind" to 138 brief pages, in
which he follows the story of civiliza-
tion from the days of the squat Pith-
eanthropus up to the present stage of
cultural life.
His general aim in summarizing the
course of civilization, which he des-
cribes as "a thin film of idealism de-
veloped on top of a million years of
savagery," is to trace the origin of
each ancient civilization and follow it
to the height of its culture, "telling
of the flow of peoples, the shaping of
institutions, the unsteady rise of
ideals from one age to another." His
particular aim is to dispel curfbnt
illusions about the moral status of
the older peoples. He shows that the
moral conditions, in almost every
case, were as high as they are today.
In addition to this side of their life,
he takes up art, politics, religion, and
the social standards of the ancient
civilizations. -
In the opening chapter, "A Million
Years of Childhood," he sketches
through the story of early man as
told by the remains of fossils and
stone instruments., From this he goes
on to the beginnings of civilization as
evidenced by the ife of the "Mediter-
rancan Race," refugees from frozen
Europe, who packed the eastern end
of the Mediterranean and, as the land
began to founder, spread around the
shores from Italy to Egypt, the main
body settling in the largest remain-
ing portion, Crete.
Here, 4,000 years ago, these people
founded a great culture. They built
gigantic castles equipped with plumb-
ing systems that have not since been
equalled until within the past hundred
years. Due to the inability of schol-
ars to translate the ancient Cretan
records, their moral and religious be-
liefs necessarily remain obscure.
From the Cretans on, however, a
fairly complete record is available.
The Egyptians developed art and a
wonderful system of engineering.
Their religion was divided among a
surprising number of gods but they
maintained a uniformly high moral
code-altogether McCabe finds them
a people of "sober idealism."
Babylon, too, reached a high state
of culture and, in spite of the tradi-
tional idea, had a morality compar-
able to that of today.
The moral and religious culture of
the Jews has been a constant influ-
ence of civilization, but their chief
contribution to progress was the ele-
ment of "the voice of the people" in
But it was left to the Greeks to de-
velop the first democracy. They also
built the world's finest city and, more
than 2000 years ago, made contribu-
tions to politics, art, and philosophy
which have never been equalled.
Rome inaugurated the first complete
democracy and, with Greece, upheld
high moral ideals. McCabe points out
that the lapses, of which Rome has
so often been accused, were only
temporary. The Romans raised cul-
tare to its highest point. With the
fall of their empire, civilization was
totally suspended, to be revived only
after the dark years of the Middle
Then the evolution of civilization
began again, =slowly developing
through the period of the Renaissance
until it reached its present stage.


The resume of these various cul- lovers. Such occasions and such liter-
tures shows a remarkably slow growth ati, are rare, but among them, let
of a higher morality. The Persian there be enrolled Robert Nathan, who,
"ascetic self-denial" runs through it
all, but, on the whole, it was practic- in his "Autumn" (McBride) has dem-
ally as high in the days of early Egypt onstrated that style, and an under- a :-
as it is today, a point which the author tanding of sentence structure are still
brings home with special emphasis. among the accomplishment of at least
McCabe believes that the art of the J one American novelist.
Greeks will never again be approached
since the growing imiportance of the ."Autumn" is hardly a hook which
sine te rowngimprtace f te will he read by many, yet it is one l
intellectual factor in our life is an
obstacle in the way of realizing the which can be highly recommended to-,
greatest in art. Otherwise he holds all. It contains none of those erotic ; -
an optimistic outlook for the world's embellishments which make the best, . 4
future. Politically, the world is now sellers of the day so attractive; it
better than it was in ancient times haso't a frank, open discussion of
and "the promise of the application love at all; all that it has to recom-
, ad "he roiseof he. ,pplcatonmend it is a quiet, intimate charac-
of -science to the whole of life... tis ion of a smal, Ne Egand
the finest feature of our age." community, thesleadingw figure of OVER-BLOUSES of crepe de
Thus does he sum up the significant which, for Mr. Nathan's purposes, is h c e
points in cultural evolution through Mr. Jeminy, the village school master.
the ages. He presents his evidence But strangely enough, Mr. Jeminy, most brilliant of colors or in
in well arranged order, in the briefest and his querulous housebeeper, his m
form possible but in a manner always friends, and the children who have more subdued tones ithcon-
entertaining. To the advanced ethno- been placed in his charge, seem quite trasting embroidery have been
logist or historian the book will prob- sufficient to make "Autumn" a rather
ably offer nothing new. It is ad- notable achievement, especially - designed for wear
dressed, rather, to the layman, the
man who has not the time to investi- And lest those scoffers at American with the popular suits.
gate such matters thoroughly, and letters doubt the truth of my opening
who, as a result, entertains vague if sentence, let me quote the first para-
not erroneously ideas concerning graph of the book: "On Sunday the
them. This type of reader will find church bells of Hillsboro rang out
it both instructive and far from dull. across the ripening fields with a
grave and holy sound, and again' at
evening knocked faintly with a quiet HAND-MADE waists in batiste
sorrow, at doors where children o
"AITUNN" watched for the first star, to make or voile and dainty tailored mod-
By Robert Nathan their wishes. Night came, and to the els of dimity in all white and
croaking of frogs, the moon rose over
(A Review by S. T. BeaC1) Barly Hill. In the early morning the fetching colors are being worn
It is seldom in this age of attempt- grass, still wet with dew, chilled the with separate sport skirts.
ed naturalism that one finds a man bare toes of urchinsfontheir way.to
_- ~school where, until four o'clock, the
who, escaping the obsession which tranquil voice of Mr. Jeminy disputed
seems to have overcome the greater with the hum of bees, and the far off
portion of our present-day American clink of the blacksmith's forge in the
novelists, demonstrates that he never- village."
theless understands .that, to write a The refreshing part of it is that there petticoats in pussy-willow and
is no discouraging letdown-no sudden
good novel, there must be something s o iang to b qu d n jersey are absolutely necessary
besides a hectic and detailed discus- the utter mediocrity of later chapters. for wear with three piece gar-
sion of infant prodigies or adolescent (Continued on Page 8)
(Coninue 'onPage$) mexnts of Tweed or Trelamne.

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