The Southern Mountaineer
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The Southern Mountaineer The Southern Mountaineer I T was only a little while ago that the materialists declared that humanity was the product of heredity and environment; that history lies not near but in Nature; and that, in consequence, man must take his head from the clouds and study himself with his feet where they belong, to the earth. Since then, mountains have taken on a new importance for the part they have played in the destiny of the race, for the reason that mountains have dammed the streams of humanity, have let them settle in the valleys and spread out over plains; or have sent them on long detours around. Wben some unusual pressure has forced a current through some mountain-pass, the hills have cut it off from the main stream and have held it so stagnant, that, to change the figure, mountains may be said to have kept the records of human history somewhat as fossils hold the history of the earth. Arcadia held primitive the primitive inhabitants of Greece, who fled to its rough hills after the Dorian 3 Blue-grass and Rhododendron invasion. The Pyrenees kept unconquered and strikingly unchanged the Basques-sole remnants perhaps in western Europe of the aborigines who were swept away by the tides of Aryan immigration; just as the Rocky ::Mountains protect the American Indian in primitive barbarism and not wholly subdued to-day, and the Cumberland range keeps the Southern mountaineer to the backwoods civilization of the revolution. The reason is plain. The mountain dweller lives apart from the world. The present is the past when it reaches him; and though past, is yet too far in the future to have any bearing on his established order of things. There is, in consequence, no incentive whatever for him to change. An arrest of development follows ; so that once imprisoned, a civilization, with its dress, speech, religion, customs, ideas, may be caught like the shapes of lower life in stone, and may tell the human story of a century as the rocks tell the story of an age. For centuries the Highlander has had plaid and kilt; the peasant of Norway and the mountaineer of the German and Austrian Alps each a habit of his own; and every Swiss canton a distinctive dress. ::Mountains preserve the Gaelic tongue in which the scholar may yet read the refuge of Celt from Saxon, and in turn Saxon from the Norman-French, just as they keep alive remnants like the Rhreto-Roman, the 4 The Southern Mountaineer Basque, and a number of Caucasian dialects. The Carpathians protected Christianity against the :Moors, and in Java the Brahman faith took refuge on the sides of the Volcano Gunung Lawa, and there outlived the ban of Buddha. So, in the log-cabin of the Southern mountaineer, in his household furnishings, in his homespun, his linsey, and, occasionally, in his hunting-shirt, his coonskin cap and moccasins, one may summon up the garb and life of the pioneer; in his religion, his politics, his moral code, his folk-songs, and his superstitions, one may bridge the waters back to the old country, and through his speech one may even touch the remote past of Chaucer. For to-day he is a distinct remnant of Colonial times-a distinct relic of an Anglo-Saxon past. It is odd to think that he was not discovered until the outbreak of the Civil War, although he was nearly a century old then, and it is really startling to realize that when one speaks of the Southern mountaineers, he speaks of nearly three millions of people who live in eight Southern States-Virginia and Alabama and the Southern States between-and occupy a region equal in area to the combined areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania , as big, say, as the German Empire, and richer, perhaps, in timber and mineral deposits than any other region of similar extent in the world. This region was 5 Blue-grass and Rhododendron and is an unknown land. It has been aptly called " Appalachian America," and the work of discovery is yet going on. The American mountaineer was discovered , I say, at the beginning of the war, when the Confederate leaders were counting on the presumption that Mason and Dixon's Line was the dividing line between the North and South, and formed, therefore, the plan of marching an army from Wheeling, in West Virginia, to some point on the lakes, and thus dissevering the North...


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