In 1883, the Rev. Joseph Cook published Advanced Thought in Europe, Asia, Australia, etc., a weird little volume that “dissented” from “orthodoxy” on a variety of cultural subjects. The Harvard-trained Cook was a famous American orator in his day, and a thinker on the question of the relationship between science and religion. His conclusion was that, through careful backward reasoning, science could be used to prove the claims of religion. It therefore is of little surprise that he found the same “proof” for the lost continent of Atlantis. His discussion follows, reproduced with the original (and unusual) second person narration. As he explained, “when I say ‘you’ I mean myself.” Despite Cook’s fame in his day, his work did not survive him in the public’s mind, and his speculations have largely faded into obscurity.
From "Lecture I" of Advanced Thought in Europe, Asia, Australia, Etc.
Crossing the Atlantic, you are most interested not in what is on it, nor in it, nor beyond it, but in what is under it. Scholars begin to whisper strange things about the lost Atlantis, of which the Azores are the remnants. You are told that Occident and Orient had their mother in this lost Atlantis. The civilization of Egypt seems to spring into existence, like Minerva from the head of Jupiter, full panoplied from the start. But you find that a few investigators begin to dream that Egypt was probably colonized from Atlantis, a mighty island, as large as Australia, lying off the mouth of the Mediterranean, at Gibraltar. You read in Plato of Atlantis colonizing not merely Europe, but Africa and portions of Asia and parts of the continent beyond Atlantis, toward the sunset. You raise the question whether the cities of Central America, some of which to this day have the same names to a letter with certain cities in Asia Minor, may not have originated in this now submerged island. Plato represents Solon as learning in Egypt that Atlantis sank beneath the sea in a single night. (See the "Timaeus," 25; or, Jowett's "Translation of the Dialogues of Plato," vol. iii., pp. 609, 610.) You remember that Guyot and other physical geographers say that the Azores lie in a zone of fracture of the crust of our earth. The small waist of our own continent, the projection into winch the Mediterranean flows, the Isthmus of Suez, the promontories and islands of southern Asia and the East Indies, show this to have been a line of terrific upheavals and depressions. You look into the ocean, and ask whether the best subject left in modern times for an epic poem is not this same Atlantis. A few months later you are in Athens. You meet Dr. Schliemann, in his Greek mansion and museum, and you say to him: "You have uncovered Troy; why do you not dredge for the lost Atlantis, of winch Plato speaks?" And the doctor replies, with the enthusiasm of a classical scholar: "Where is the passage in the 'Timaeus?' I will read it before I sleep." A score of books (see "Atlantis; or, the Antediluvian World," by Ignatius Donelly [sic], a volume valuable chiefly for its references) have lately appeared, defending the Atlantidean theory of the origin of that most curious civilization which founded the cities of which the ruins remain to astonish us in Central America. Perhaps the unknown moundbuilders of the Mississippi Valley were degenerate representatives of that civilization. Probably the Atlantidean theory has been supported so effectually by the discoveries of the ship Challenger, that, when put forward only as a theory, it will never be quite laughed at again. The ship Challenger has assured the world that a submerged continental island lies underneath the middle Atlantic. Strangely close resemblances are found to exist between the plant and animal life of the Azores and of the nearest coasts of Brazil. One speculation is that this mighty island went down when the windows of Heaven were opened and the fountains of the great deep were broken up in the time of the Deluge, and that the representative of the race, Noah, being carried with his family in the ark away from the scene of ruin, began the peopling of the valley of the Euphrates. The zone of fracture in the earth, the traditions of many nations as to the Deluge, point, it is claimed, to the sinking of Atlantis. I do not endorse this speculation, by any means, but you are crossing the Atlantic, and it is necessary that you should be not merely not sea-sick, but not sick of the sea. You are beginning a tour around the world, and I would have your historic vistas go back, not to Greece and Rome merely, not to those mysterious early seats of the Aryan population on the slopes from the Himalayas to the Caspian, not merely to the Nile or the Ganges. I would have the vista of your retrospect go back to the origin of the Egyptian civilization. Somewhere man must have been developed through ages into the use of lofty standards in most matters before the Egyptian civilization could have sprung forth. I believe it is not incredible at all that Orient and Occident had their mother in the lost Atlantis. England is the mother of America; Germany and Scandinavia at large are the mother of England; Asia Minor is the mother of Germany; the Assyrian slope, between the Himalayas and the Caspian, is the mother of Asia Minor, and the mother, in some sense, of Greece and Italy; but the mother of that slope and of Egypt is, possibly, Atlantis, and the mother of Atlantis is Almighty Providence. Here, then, at the very outset of the voyage, we put a girdle around the earth and begin to perceive that all men are of one blood, as far east, at least, as Calcutta.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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