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A PICTURE WITHIN A FRAME
A modern poet has described the Mediterranean thus :
“O thou great heartless Sea! without a tide
To bless thee with its changing. One may regard the Mediterranean as Dr. Howson did, “as a picture within a frame,” or he may think
of it as sleeping “through silent centuries in the embrace of three continents.” Studying it either as a geographer or historian, he will be well repaid for his efforts.
He may people it again with the gods and goddesses of mythology, or see its waves reddening with the terrors of piracy; he will find literature in abundance to reward his search. He may hear again the swish of galley oars, and behold the crash of ships as Carthage and Greece and Rome measure their strength for the possession of the Sea and its borders; he may follow the fleets of England and France as they meet in death-conflict on the eastern shore of the Sea and hear the wail of the Corsican when he learns that his ships have fallen under Nelson's terrible scourge. Or, turning from mythology and history and bloodshed, he may think of the Mediterranean as the highway between Boston and Constantinople, or London and Bombay, or New York and Shanghai, over which the commerce of nations is carried, and upon which a considerable part of the population of Western Asia and Southern Europe travels on its way to the Americas. The water of the Mediterranean is
much saltier than either the Atlantic on the west or the Black Sea on the east. It is said that the rainfall over the Mediterranean drainage is thirty inches a year, while the evaporation over the area of the Sea is practically five feet, the evaporation being twice as great as the precipitation. Were there no provision for making good this deficiency, the level of the Mediterranean would sink until its surface was so far contracted as to lose no more by evaporation than would be supplied by rain.
This condition would probably not be fulfilled before all of the Ægean and Adriatic and the whole of the western basin west of the island of Sardinia were laid dry, and what is now the Mediterra
EARLY RULERS OF THE SEA
nean would be reduced to two “Dead Seas, between Sardinia and Naples and the other between Africa and the mouth of the Adriatic. .
That the level and the salinity of the Mediterranean remain constant is due to the supply of water which enters at the Straits of Gibraltar. Here there are two
currents, the upper one going from the Atlantic and the under one flowing into the ocean.
Both are affected by tidal influence, but, after allowing that, there is still a balance of inflow in the upper and of outflow in the under current.
But a body of water is not entitled to be termed great simply because of its extent or its physical peculiarities, and the Mediterranean has many other claims to fame. One has only to recall the legends of mythology or the tales of Greece and Carthage and Rome and the piracies which have made the history of the Sea memorable, the conflicts of Moors and Christians, and the numerous crusades sailing from Europe to wrest the holy places from the infidels, to know how much of the world's history has been made on and about the Mediterranean. To mention the peoples that have made the Sea famous, one must begin with the Phænicians on the eastern coast, and think of them as its rulers :
“First of the throng, with enterprising brow,
During the last half-century the Mediterranean has carried the wealth of the Indies westward, and in return has taken on its way through the Suez Canal to India and China and Japan and Australia the best that Europe and America could produce for those
THE SCHOOL OF THE HUMAN RACE 21
countries. During the last decade the modern crusader has taken the place of the armored knight of the Middle Ages, and shiploads of the best people of the Occident have gone to the classic shores of Italy and Greece, to Turkey and the Holy Land and Egypt, while other shiploads from Southern Italy and Southern Spain have sailed westward to find their home in the land unknown when the Moors left Granada.
On the shores of the Mediterranean, as Principal. Howson has pointed out, the Greek and Latin languages, which have ever since been educators of the highest human intellects, were formed and perfected. These waters carried the ship of Jonah from Joppa, and floated down from Tyre King Hiram's beams of cedarwood. By the seaside on one of these shores St. Peter prayed; on one of these islands St. Paul was wrecked. Across this Sea Ignatius sailed to his martyrdom at Rome; at Hippo, on the Carthaginian shore, Augustine wrote those volumes which have instructed the Christian centuries. That which gives to school its dignity is that it is a little world which prepares for the great world; and that which is the dignity and glory of the Mediterranean is, not merely that it is a majestic expanse of water, but that it was ordained to be the school of the human race.