The Ancient Race
BUT thousands of years ago, long before kings, bards, and Druids, with all their learning and comparative civilization, flourished in Ireland, and before the traditions of a beautiful fairy race were brought from the far East by a people accustomed to the sight of beauty, grace and splendour, an ancient race existed in the world--a mysterious, primitive wave of human life that spread over all Europe, perhaps over all the earth, and even surged upon the shores of our own Western island; possibly a pre-Adamic race, inferior in all points, physical as well as mental, to the Adamic race that succeeded them.
They have left no name or history, yet evidences of their nature, habits, intellect, and modes of life can be scientifically deduced from the abundant strange and curious antiquarian remains to be seen in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, of which Sir William Wilde in his illustrated catalogue has given such a perfect and comprehensive description. Records of a period so remote that the use of metals even was unknown; yet these ancient records reveal the story of the rude half-developed, early humanity of the world in as clear a symbol to the expert and the archaeologist, as if written in alphabetical letters on monoliths, like those of Babylon.
Without, therefore, being forced into shadowy theory or nebular hypothesis, we may readily construct the whole life of the primitive man, his mode of being and doing, of dressing and of eating, of living, dying and sepulture, simply from the rude implements fashioned by his hand that cover the walls of the Academy, and are the letters in which an eternal page of human history is written.
But, this first pre-Adamic rudimental humanity was not wholly extirpated by the subsequent Adamic race. Representatives of them still remained throughout the world, and are yet existing, though these half-souled specimens of an early, inferior humanity, are gradually dying out and disappearing before the advance of the higher Adamic race, the destined lords and rulers of earth.
In Ireland the inferior primitive tribes became the bond-slaves for the higher humanity--the Tuatha-de-Dananns and Milesians that succeeded them; and specimens of this slave people can still be seen in remote districts in Ireland along the coast-line of the West, and in the secluded mountain passes. They are held in much contempt by the descendants of the nobler race, and are stigmatized even now as "the slave people," and the bondsmen of their forefathers.
It seems, then, an incontrovertible truth that the early inhabitants of Ireland, as of all Europe--in fact, the whole pre-Adamite humanity of the world--lived and died throughout how many ages we know not in a state little higher than the animal creation, without the knowledge of even the simplest elements of civilization, which all the Adamic races possess, from their higher organization and intellect, and which they seem to have had from the date of their earliest appearance on earth.
The clothing of the primitive man was of the skins of animals fastened with thongs, or tunics made of rushes, such as were found some years ago in Spain, on the skeleton forms of prehistoric date buried in a cave of the Sierra Nevada. Their only weapons and tools were of stone, manufactured by another stone.
Their ornaments were of shells and fish-bones; and their dwellings such only as instinct has suggested to all animals.
There are abundant evidences in our National Museum to prove the existence of this primary stratum of barbarism underlying all the culture of modern Europe; and we might almost hesitate to link so low a type of humanity with our own if we did not recognize in it also the characteristic instinct of man, entirely wanting in the animals--an irrepressible tendency towards progression and improvement, and, above all, to ornamentation, which is a distinctive human quality.