NATIONS ten thousand years before These States, and many times ten thousand years before These States; Garnerâ€™d clusters of ages, that men and women like us grew up and travelâ€™d their course, and passâ€™d on; What vast-built citiesâ€”what orderly republicsâ€”what pastoral tribes and nomads; What histories, rulers, heroes, perhaps transcending all others; What laws, customs, wealth, arts, traditions; What sort of marriageâ€”what costumesâ€”what physiology and phrenology; What of liberty and slavery among themâ€”what they thought of death and the soul; Who were witty and wiseâ€”who beautiful and poeticâ€”who brutish and undevelopâ€™d; Not a mark, not a record remainsâ€”And yet all remains.
O I know that those men and women were not for nothing, any more than we are for nothing; I know that they belong to the scheme of the world every bit as much as we now belong to it, and as all will henceforth belong to it.
Afar they standâ€”yet near to me they stand, Some with oval countenances, learnâ€™d and calm, Some naked and savageâ€”Some like huge collections of insects, Some in tentsâ€”herdsmen, patriarchs, tribes, horsemen, Some prowling through woodsâ€”Some living peaceably on farms, laboring, reaping, filling barns, Some traversing paved avenues, amid temples, palaces, factories, libraries, shows, courts, theatres, wonderful monuments.
Are those billions of men really gone? Are those women of the old experience of the earth gone? Do their lives, cities, arts, rest only with us? Did they achieve nothing for good, for themselves?
I believe of all those billions of men and women that fillâ€™d the unnamed lands, every one exists this hour, here or elsewhere, invisible to us, in exact proportion to what he or she grew from in life, and out of what he or she did, felt, became, loved, sinnâ€™d, in life.
I believe that was not the end of those nations, or any person of them, any more than this shall be the end of my nation, or of me; Of their languages, governments, marriage, literature, products, games, wars, manners, crimes, prisons, slaves, heroes, poets, I suspect their results curiously await in the yet unseen worldâ€”counterparts of what accrued to them in the seen world. I suspect I shall meet them there, I suspect I shall there find each old particular of those unnamed lands.