CRY OF DISTRESS IN GALVESTON. 81
divinely attuned to concordant sounds, can hear at vespers. Without
either the poet's eye or the musician's ear it is still possible to
conclude that traditions which have survived so many centuries,
and which contradict nothing of the exact truth of science as to
original causes, may be as well trusted as science when it begins to
speculate, which is all it does when it seeks to prove that the Scandinavian
fiords were in the country before the Scandinavian himself.
STORY OF THE LOST ATLANTIS.
The world, with the lapse of centuries, has not even been able
to outgrow the tradition of the lost Atlantis. Perhaps this is the
oldest of all traditions of cataclysms which have blotted out cities
and continents. It may be that it is because this one comes
handed down to us from the illustrous hand of Plato that we yield
to it a veneration which prolongs its life. Certainly it can never
be more than tradition, without a return to the ages of miracles.
Our lately found expertness in deep sea soundings have given us
no new light on Atlantis.
And yet we cling to the old story, and are loath to turn from
the spectacle of a continent in the agonies of a watery burial, or to
take down from the walls of our brain cells the pictures of a submerged
world in which sea moss trails over and around great temples
and monuments. More than half the world believes that there
is a lost Atlantis. The Egyptians believed so, long before Plato's
day. It is in the mouth of an Egyptian priest, talking to Solon, that
Plato puts the description of the vanished land. That description
makes of Atlantis a land larger than the Texas of to-day.
BELIEVED THE SEA HAD CONCEALED A LAND.
The Greek philosopher located it off the shores of North
Africa, a little to the southwest of Gibraltar. The Platonian description
of the interior of the Atlantis of ancient times is surpassingly
beautiful, but not more so than the rare imaginative power
with which Plato writes of the country and its people, a most fabulous
and engaging history.
All this, of course, is the work of pure fancy, and only im6
Lester, Paul. The great Galveston disaster, containing a full and thrilling account of the most appalling calamity of modern times including vivid descriptions of the hurricane. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth26719/. Accessed October 20, 2014.