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up to their desolate temples and ruined altars, and wherever we moved we saw the evidence of their taste-their skill in the arts—their wealth and power. In the midst of desolation and ruin we looked back to the past-cleared away the gloomy forests, and fancied every building per. fect, with its terraces and pyramids, its sculptured and painted ornaments, grand, lofty and imposing, and overlooking an immense inhabited plain. We called back into life the strange people who gazed at us in sadness from the walls-pictured them in fanciful costumes, and adorned with plumes of feathers, ascending the terraces of the palace, and the steps leading to the temples—and imagined a scene of unique and gorgeous beauty and magnificence, realizing the emotions of oriental poets—the very spot which fancy would have solicited for the “happy valley” of Rasselas. In the romance of this world's history, nothing ever impressed me more forcibly than the spectacle of this once great and lovely city, overturned, desolate, and lost-discovered by accident-overgrown with trees, and without even a name. Apart from everything else, it was a moving witness to this world's mutations. Cortez, on his conquering march from Mexico to Honduras, by the lake of Peten, must have passed within twenty or thirty miles of it; and if Palenque at that time had been a living city, its fame must have reached his ears, and he would in all probability have turned aside from his road to subdue or plunder it. 'Tis therefore reasonable to suppose that Palenque was at that time deso. late, ruined, and lost.”
Of the ruined city of Uxmal and its ornaments, Mr. Stephens remarks : “ Probably all their ornaments have a symbolical meaning-each stone is part of an allegory or fable, hidden from us-inscrutable under the light of the feeble torch we may burn before it, but which, even if revealed, will show that the history of the world yet remains to be written."
In addition to the evidence recently furnished by the discovery and exhibitions of ruins in Central America, (scarcely begun to be developed,) other evidence of an inferior character, tending to the same result, has long existed at the north, and in every part of our country.
Ancient forti. fications, requiring more industry and greater efforts to erect them, than the race of Indians now existing ever exhibited, and of which no tradi. tionary accounts remain. Inscriptions on rocks and in caves, said to be of Egyptian or Phænician origin-specimens of pottery and other relics, together with mounds, tumuli, and barrows, as they are sometimes called, have led many to suppose that this was the primitive continent—that the ark of Noah rested somewhere within its limits; and that civilization was originally from thence diffused to other parts of the globe.
The evidence, however, in support of these several positions falls short of demonstration, and most of it, without doubt, is wholly imaginary. Dr. Beck, in his Gazeteer of Illinois, speaking of Mount Joliet, a large mound on the west bank of the River des Plaines, near the village of Juliet, and about forty miles from Chicago, says: “It is about three or four hundred yards in length, and two or three hundred in breadth. Its form is that of a prism ; it is evidently the work of art, and is probably the largest mound in the United States."
Priest, in his American Antiquities, speaking of the same, observes : " Its situation is such as to give to its size its fullest effect-being in a level country, with no hill in sight to form a contrast. Its height is sixty feet-nearly four rods perpendicular—its length eighty-four rodsmits width fourteen. This mound is built on the horizontal limestone stratum of the secondary formation, and is fronted by the beautiful Lake Joliet, which is about fifteen miles long, presenting the most noble and picturesque spot in all America. This mound consists of 18,250,000 solid feet of earth. How long it took to build it is more than can be made out, as the number of men employed, and the facilities for carrying on the work, are unknown.”
Persons who have visited Mount Joliet, and read the above glowing description in printed volumes, knowing, as they do, that Mount Joliet furnishes no other evidence of having been erected by human hands, than the White Hills of New Hampshire, or the Rock of Gibraltar, are led to doubt sometimes the veracity, and sometimes the judgment, of their authors.
Sir Walter Raleigh, a celebrated courtier in the reign of Queen Eliza. beth, distinguished alike for his learning and bravery, familiarly known in the annals of Virginia, and the annals of the tower of London, very justly remarks: “If we advisedly consider the state and countenance of the world, we shall find that it were very ill done, by following opinion without the guide of reason, to pare the times over deeply ; because in cutting them too near the quick, the reputation of the whole story might, perchance, bleed.” We will then pass over this secondary evidence, without alluding to the White Indians or the Welch, who, we are gravely told, reside at the far west, or even to the lost tribes of the house of Israel; believing as we do, the existence of such in our country, to be entirely problematical. The extraordinary flood of light poured in of late, upon American antiquities, has put all former evidence in the shade. Central America will soon become classic ground. The savans of Europe will, at a period not far remote, resort thither to decipher, by the light of her flaming volcanoes, those wonderful hyeroglyphics hitherto concealed from every eye. The story of American colonization will then be told. We shall then learn that a living multitude once thronged those forests, now vocal with the tiger’s growl. That that multitude was learned, accomplished, and refined, ere the British Isles had been heard of. That the arts and sciences were taught, and practiced in America, ere civilization dawned upon Europe. We may learn something too of Abraham ; of Isaac, and of Jacob; of Pharaoh, and Joseph ; of the patriarchs, and the prophets. Let, however, the views above referred to check for a while the pride and arrogance of human learning, and, for the present, teach humility to our race.
It is also probable, that Central America will become the seat of an extensive commerce. The fertility of its soil, and its central position between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, coupled with the probability of a ship navigation uniting the two, seem to designate Guatimala as a theatre for extraordinary events; it may, therefore, at some fu. ture day, be restored to its pristine grandeur.
Mr. Baily, a half-pay officer in the British navy, by order of the government of Central America, a few years since surveyed the route of a canal from Port St. Juan, on the Pacific, to the Atlantic Ocean. According to his survey, the distance from the Pacific to Lake Nicaragua is fifteen and two-third miles ; the ascents altogether, are one thousand four hundred and seven feet five inches; the descents are nine hundred and nineteen feet. The lake, it seems then, is one hundred and twenty-eight feet three inches above the level of the Pacific. This lake is ninety-five miles long, and thirty wide, in its broadest part; from thence to the Atlantic, by the river San Juan, is seventy-nine miles. Mr. Stephens estimates the whole expense at from twenty to twenty-five millions of dollars, equal to about the estimated cost of the enlarged Erie Canal. “ I am authorized," says he. " to state, that no physical obstructions of the country present any impediment to its completion." He gives it as his opinion, “That the two oceans will be united ; that to men of leisure and fortune, jaded with rambling over the ruins of the old world, a new country will be opened. After a journey on the Nile, a day in Petra, and a bath in the Euphrates, English and American travellers will be bitten by mosquitos on the lake of Nicaragua, and drink champaign and Burton ale on the desolate shore of San Juan, on the Pacific. To an acute observer of the progress of modern improvement, during the last fifty years, the above seems more probable than many events that have happened in our day and generation.
Illinois originally a part of Florida-Grant of the whole Continent to Spain, by the Pope
His motive-Alonzo De Ojeda–His Proclamation-Cortez-Pizarro-Ponce de Leon discovers Florida-His Expedition thither—Pamphilo de Narvaez—His Expedition to Florida-Ferdinand de Soto-Atahualpa's ransom-Soto's Expedition to Florida-Discovers the Mississippi — Dies—Moscoso succeeds him-Expedition-Returns-Louis Cancello-Admiral Coligny, of France, attempts to colonize Florida—John Ribault sails thither-Colony broken up-Laudonniere renews the attempt-Sir John Hawkins relieves them- Melendez of Spain massacres the whole Colony-De Gourguis retaliates France abandons Florida-Spain resumes and keeps possession of it— Title confirmed.
The State of Illinois was, originally, a part of Florida, and so laid down upon the old Spanish map, of North America. The history of Florida then, is a part of our history; and its conquest, a legitimate subject for considation here.
The title of Spain to the “ Far West” rested, originally, on its discov. ery. Not satisfied, however, with a title, better by far than any other at that time extant, and when accompanied by possession, the very best in the world, Ferdinand and Isabella sought and obtained its confirmation by the pope.
The Roman pontiff, (Alexander VI.,) infamous for almost every crime that disgraces humanity, was born a subject of Ferdinand; and wishing the aid and influence of Spain to promote his ambitious views, rejoiced exceedingly at thus having an opportunity to gratify the Castilian monarch. As the vicar and representative of Jesus Christ, the pope was sup. posed, and believed by many, to have a perfect, indefeasible right of dominion over all the kingdoms of the earth; and especially, over all countries inhabited by infidels. By an act of liberality, which cost him nothing, and which served eventually to establish the jurisdiction and pretensions of the papal see to the newly discovered world, he granted to Ferdinand and Isabella, in perpetuity, all the lands which they had discovered, or should thereafter discover, west of an imaginary line, drawn from north to south, one hundred leagues west of the Azores. By thus doing, he conferred upon the crown of Castile vast regions, to the possession of which he was so far from having any title, that he was unacquainted with their situation, and ignorant even of their existence. Such, however, was the influence and power of the pope, that an opinion adverse to its validity would, at that time, have been presumptuous, and might have exposed its author to imminent peril.
In justice, however, to the high contracting parties, we ought, perhaps, here to remark, that the propagation of the Christian faith was urged by Ferdinand, as a reason for soliciting, and mentioned by Alexander as the motive for making, so extraordinary a grant. We ought, perhaps, also to remark, that several friars, under the direction of Father Boyl, a Catalonian monk of great reputation, accompanied Columbus in his several voyages, to instruct the natives.
To give the Spanish title an appearance of validity, the most eminent divines and lawyers in the kingdom were employed to prescribe the mode and manner of taking possession of the countries thus granted. The history of our race nowhere else furnishes so extraordinary a document. It is, indeed, without a parallel ; unless “ Death tribute, or the Koran,” under which the Moslem had marched to victory, in a thousand fields of battle, could be regarded as such.
The invaders were instructed, as soon as they landed on the Conti. nent
1. To deliver to the natives the principal articles of the Christian faith.
2. To acquaint them, in particular, of the supreme jurisdiction of the pope over all the kingdoms of the earth.
3. To inform them of the grant which the holy pontiff had made of their country to the King of Spain.
4. To require them to embrace the doctrines of that religion which the Spaniards made known to them.
5. To submit to the sovereign whose authority they proclaimed; and in case of their refusal, the invaders were authorized to attack them with fire and sword ; to reduce them, their wives, and children, to a state of servitude; and to compel them, by force, to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the church, and the authority of the Spanish king.
Alonzo de Ojeda, a young man of respectable family, brought up as a page or esquire in the service of the Duke of Medina Celi, having received a commission from Don Juan Rodriguez Fonseca, Bishop of Pla. centia, (who had the chief management of the affairs of the Indies, under which general name was comprehended all the countries then recently discovered in this new world,) to fit out an armament and proceed on a voyage of discovery, embarked from Spain, in the month of May, 1499, and after a prosperous voyage of twenty-four days, arrived on the coast of Surinam. The celebrated Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine merchant, from whom the Continent derives its name, induced by broken fortunes and a rambling disposition for adventure, accompanied him thither. On the arrival of Ojeda, he issued the following “declaration or requisition," which served as a model to the Spaniards in their subsequent conquests; and is so extraordinary in its nature, and exhibits so clearly the principles upon which the Spaniards founded their rights to the extensive dominions they afterward subdued, that it merits an attentive perusal. It was in the following words:
I, Alonzo de Ojeda, servant of the most high and powerful King of Castile and Leon, the conqueror of barbarous nations, their messenger and captain, notify to you, and de. clare, in as ample form as I am capable, that God our Lord, who is one and eternal, created