The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans
Buy and Download >
CIVILIZATION is the flowering of the human species. It is both a recent and a fragile thing. The first glimmering of genuine civilization appeared only eight or ten thousand years ago. This might seem a long time. It does not seem so long when we remember that behind civilization’s dawn lies a vast night of barbarism, of savagery, of bestiality, estimated at half a million years, since the ape-man shambled forth from the steaming murk of tropical forests, and, scowling and blinking, raised his eyes to the stars. Civilization is complex. It involves the existence of human communities characterized by political and social organization; dominating and utilizing natural forces; adapting themselves to the new man-made environment thereby created; possessing knowledge, refinement, arts, and sciences; and (last, but emphatically not least) composed of individuals capable of sustaining this elaborate complex and of handing it on to a capable posterity. This last consideration is, in fact, the crux of the whole matter; the secret of success, the secret, likewise, of those tragic failures which perplex and sadden the student of history. Man’s march athwart the ages has been, not a steady advance, but rather a slow wandering, now breasting sunlit heights, yet anon plunging into dank swamps and gloomy valleys. Of the countless tribes of men, many have perished utterly while others have stopped by the wayside, apparently incapable of going forward, and have either vegetated or sunk into decadence. Man’s trail is littered with the wrecks of dead civilizations and dotted with the graves of promising peoples stricken by an untimely end.