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ants of America excites in the mind of the philosopher, there is added another no less lively, inspired by the ruins of the monuments, raised by people whose origin can scarcely be traced out. The young, active, enterprising nation, which now so successfully extends civilization throughout the northern continent, sends his thoughts forward to the future:- in the midst of the plains of the west, or on the summits of the Andes, he is led to reflect upon the past. Here the past and the future appear equally obscure; on either side conjecture must be his guide, and it would be difficult to say on which side the smallest chances of error are presented.

When the traveller, for the first time, looks upon the ruins of the ancient continent, he seems to find only the plates of a book which he has before read, mere copies, of which the originals have long been familiar to him. He is not a stranger to the history of the people who constructed these enormous pyramids, or formed with so much art these fluted columns, acanthusleaved capitals, and admirably sculptured works. Nothing in these monuments remains obscure to him, except, perhaps, some inscriptions of little importance. The people who raised these imposing edifices, who called forth from the marble these beautiful statues, had not only architects and sculptors, but also historians and poets, who, in like manner, have left behind them their ruins, and ruins more durable than the former, although composed of less solid materials.

But when in Mexico or Peru, in the midst of a luxuriant vegetation, under trees marked with the stamp of centuries, we find the remains of monuments as gigantic as those of Egypt, we can hardly believe our eyes; we can scarcely conceive that in this land, less than fuur centuries ago entirely unknown, there could ever have existed a people capable of constructing the monuments whose ruins we are contemplating. And when we find that these antiquities are not a dream, we experience a sort of anxious oppressive uneasiness — we feel, more sensibly than ever, how much there is of mysterious in the existence of man and of nations. History had shown to us nations in their infancy, and then growing, extending, and acquiring all the moral and intellectual development of which man seems capable; we had followed them, afterwards, in their decrepitude, and shed tears upon their tombs. We had also seen enough of the monuments, which they had raised in the time of their glory and pride, now strewn upon the earth, like the whitened bones of the slain, to realize the fact that nations disappear as well as NO. IX.



individuals. But here the view is still more sad; of a numerous and powerful people, we find only the disinterred bones ; of their palaces and of their temples, nothing is left but the ruins ; the sole trace of their existence is seen in the monuments of their destruction. What were the people into whose sepulcbres we are digging, whose last vestiges are returning to the bosom of the earth? Whence came they? Whither are they gone? What was the scourge which destroyed them, or the conqueror before whom they fled ? In vain we address these questions to the ruined walls and broken statues and deserted streets.

The only answer returned is the echo of the question.

We turn, next, to the traditions of the aborigines, to the recitals of the earliest travellers ; we pull off the moss from the stones, we draw forth, again, from the bosom of the earth, the scattered vestiges of these monuments, or we abandon ourselves to our imaginations, and reconstruct their destroyed cities, and reanimate the ashes of their last inhabitants, and then seek to find what their edifices and their manners present analogous to the facts elsewhere discovered, either in history or in our own times.

This method of pursuing the inquiry, and deducing the history of an unknown nation, from a minute examination of the ruins which it has left behind, is similar to that so successfully adopted by Cuvier in palconthology. There, also, it was necessary, in some manner, to give life again to animals, of which no people and no epoch bad ever spoken ; there, also, nothing remained to be examined but ruins, and how these were to be used in reconstructing the edifice, was most ingeniously shown by the great naturalist just named — this once done, the history was easily traced out.

At the sight of these immense stones, rudely heaped up, or nicely adjusted, a question at once presents itself for solutioncan the inhabitants of Mexico and Peru be regarded as the descendants of the builders of these edifices ? Several centuries have elapsed since the Spaniards penetrated for the first time into the centre of Mexico. In this interval the aborigines have changed in their habits, and their traditions have not been preserved entire. The information which they can furnish, either by their existing usages, or by their relations, are not conclusive. This, however, is not the case with those which we find in the papers of the Spanish conquerors, or of the historians contemporaneous with the conquest. In the multitude of facts which they transmit to us, we may find enough to present an idea of the American civilization at the time the discoveries were made, after making due allowance for exaggeration in the recitals.

On looking into the letters which Cortes wrote to the king of Spain, we find that the Mexicans, although not as civilized as the Europeans of that age, had reached at least the condition of half civilization, similar to that of many of the most ancient nations of Asia. This will be seen by the following account of ancient Mexico, which we have drawn from Cortes and Humboldt.

This city, situated between two lakes, the one fresh and the other salt, was connected with the main land by several solid roads. It was constructed with great regularity, and contained a large number of grand edifices, used as temples or dwellings for the king and the caciques of his court. In the lake there was a great number of floating gardens, covered with flowers and culinary vegetables. The city was entirely enclosed with walls. The temples and the palaces of Montezuma, were as large as whole cities. The temple dedicated to the principal divinity, was surmounted with forty towers, which contained the particular idols of the different caciques, and served as tombs for their families. The court of Montezuma was very numerous, and a strict etiquette was observed in it. The interior of the palaces was decorated with carpets, and various ornaments made of feathers, gold, stones, and wax. The buildings connected with these palaces, served for menageries, where were kept living quadrupeds, birds, and fishes, of the rarest kinds, and also deformed human beings.

They manufactured cotton, silk, salt, glazed and painted crockery, and chocolate, and wrought in gold and other metals. In the principal market, the extent of which was large enough to contain five hundred houses, was sold a great variety of natural and artificial productions, such as meats, game, fresh and salted fish, eggs, vegetables, maize, and bread of the same grain, and fruits, as in the markets of Europe ; besides gold, silver, and other metallic wares. Every thing was sold by measure or number. The measures were inspected by officers of the police, who were continually passing around the market for this purpose. For money, they used pieces of copper or tin, in the shape of a T, bags of cocoa seed, rolls of woven cotton, and quills filled with gold dust. These quills were transparent, to exhibit their contents.

They had barbers, who shaved with sharp pieces of obsidian ; eating houses, in which meat and drink were furnished at all

* The principal drink was pulque, a liquor made of the juice of the Agave Americana, or Maguey.

hours ; paint shops, in which were sold ground and mixed paints ; apothecaries, who prepared medicinal herbs, plasters, and all articles of pharmacy.

The articles of commerce brought to the city, were subject to an excise duty. Disputes arising between buyers and sellers, were settled by magistrates, who held courts for this purpose in the vicinity of the market place.

The instruments or implements used in the construction of buildings, were not made of iron, but of a mixture of tin and copper, similar to bell metal, and as hard as steel. They wrought in various metals, particularly in those whose ores are most easily fused, as copper, lead, silver, and tin — in working gold, they showed extraordinary skill; the jewellers of Mexico, according to Cortes, being superior to those of Europe.

They could work not only the metals which exist in the native state, and those whose ores are found in alluvial formations; they also knew how to search out the metalliserous veins, by subterranean mining ; they constructed galleries and shalts in the hardest rocks, by the aid of suitable implements. But they did not know the use of iron, although the ores of this metal were abundant. It seems also that their process of extracting the metals from the ores, was a very unskilful one; their furnaces being kept in blast by the breath of a score of men, blowing through tubes of bamboo; which shows that they were unacquainted with the use of the bellows.

By thus examining the different kinds of industry of the inhabitants of Mexico, it is easy to estimate the degree of civilization which they had reached; their knowledge of metallurgy especially furnishes us with a scale by which we can compare them with the people of antiquity, of whom the historians and poets write. A circumstance which must not be lost sight of, is, that the Mexicans, although ignorant of the use of iron, had, however, instruments by the help of wbich they could shape and face stone. Thus there is no proof that the contemporaries of Montezuma may not have been the immediate descendants of the builders of all the monuments of America.

Cortes, in bis march towards Mexico, often had opportunities of seeing their manner of building houses, and in his letters to Charles V., he repeatedly speaks of it with astonishment. Beside which, be soon had occasion to observe, more closely, the skill of the Mexican workmen, when after the complete destruction of the ancient city, he began the foundation of the modern one.

Their edifices were generally very large, but never more than one story, and they had no windows. They must have been able to transport stones of immense size to a great distance, but there is no indication that they made use either of blocks or pulleys. Notwithstanding this, their means were sufficient for the construction of all the buildings of which the ruins are still seen.

We must infer, from all the facts here enumerated, that some one tribe, which for centuries had been devoted to agriculture, and became more numerous and more powerful than those whose sole resources were hunting and fishing, at the time of the conquest, might have reached that degree of civilization which we have found them to possess. Hence it probably never would have been thought necessary to bring the founders of the Mexican monuments from the centre of the ancient civilization, if these monuments had not presented so many points of resemblance in their forms, dimensions, and details, with those of eastern Asia or of Egypt, and if their traditions or religious belief, as well as their practical observances, had not borne the imprint of foreign origin. We shall not attempt to point out the numerous analogies which exist between the American structures and those of the different nations of the east, nor to enumerate the several pieces of sculpture which have been dug up at various times, all of which bring to mind the east of the ancient continent. We shall only add a few words upon the manners of the Mexicans, borrowed from Cortes or Solis.

Cortes compares the religion of the Mexicans to that of the pagans, that is, he regards it as a kind of Polytheism. “ They have,” says he, “their appropriate idols for every want arising to man, according to the usage of the ancient heathens. Thus, they have an idol of which they supplicate success in battle, another for fruitful harvests, and for every thing they hold some peculiar idol in veneration."

In another respect their religious usages resemble those of the people of the east of the ancient continent. Priests, clothed in black, live in celibacy, practice fasting, and undergo corporal mutilations, particularly at certain seasons of the year. The children of the caciques are brought up by them, and do not leave them until the time of their marriage. At the death of a chief several of his slaves are sacrificed to the idol, and it is the glory of his wife not to survive him.

These characteristics are given by Cortes, and they are those most entitled to credit. Many of the peculiarities in the Mexi

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