Sidor som bilder
PDF
[merged small][graphic][graphic][graphic]
[ocr errors]

for making them; and, more than this, to conceive the immense time, skill, and labour required for carving such a surface of stone, and the wealth, power, and cultivation of the people who could command such skill and labour for the mere decoration of their edifices. Probably all these 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, if ever revealed, will show that the history of the world yet remains to be written.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XXVI.

Exploration finished.—Who built these ruined Cities?—Opinion of Dupaix.These Runns bear no Resemblance to the Architecture of Greece and Rome.— Nothing like them in Europe.—Do not Resemble the known Works of Japan and China.-Neither those of Hindu.-No Excavations found.—The Pyramids of Egypt, in their original State, do not resemble what are called the Pyramids of America.-The Temples of Egypt not like those of America.-Sculpture not the same as that of Egypt.—Probable Antiquity of these Ruins.—Accounts of the Spanish Historians.—These Cities probably built by the Races inhabiting the Country at the time of the Spanish Conquest.—These Races not yet extinct.

I HAVE now finished the exploration of ruins. The reader is perhaps pleased that our labours were brought to an abrupt close (my publishers certainly are); but I assure him that I could have found it in my heart to be prolix beyond all bounds, and that in mercy I have been very brief; in fact, I have let slip the best chance that author ever had to make his reader remember him. I will make no mention of other ruins of which we heard at more remote places. I have no doubt a year may be passed with great interest in Yucatan. The field of American antiquities is barely opened; but for the present I have done.

And here I would be willing to part, and leave the reader to wander alone and at will through the labyrinth of mystery which hangs over these ruined cities; but it would be craven to do so, without turning for a moment to the important question, Who were the people that built these cities 2

Since their discovery, a dark cloud has been thrown over them in two particulars. The first is in regard to the immense difficulty and danger, labour and expense, of visiting and exploring them. It has been my object to clear away this cloud. It will appear from these

[ocr errors]

pages that the accounts have been exaggerated; and, as regards Palenque and Uxmal at least, the only places which have been brought before the public at all, there is neither difficulty in reaching nor danger in exploring them. The second is in regard to the age of the buildings; but here the cloud is darker, and not so easily dispelled. I will not recapitulate the many speculations that have already been presented. The most irrational, perhaps, is that of Captain Dupaix, who gives to the ruins of Palenque an antediluvian origin; and, unfortunately for him, he gives his reason, which is the accumulation of earth over the figures in the courtyard of the palace. His visit was thirty years before ours; and, though he cleared away the earth, the accumulation was again probably quite as great when we were there. At all events, by his own showing, the figures were not entirely buried. I have a distinct recollection of the condition of those monuments, and have no scruple in saying that, if entirely buried, one Irishman, with the national weapon that has done such service on our canals, would in three hours remove the whole of this antediluvian deposite. I shall not follow the learned commentaries upon this suggestion of Captain Dupaix, except to remark that much learning and research have been expended upon insufficient or incorrect data, or when a bias has been given by a statement of facts; and, putting ourselves in the same category with those who have furnished these data, for the benefit of explorers and writers who may succeed us I shall narrow down this question to a ground even yet sufficiently broad, viz., a comparison of these remains with those of the architecture and sculpture of other ages and people. I set out with the proposition that they are not Cyclopean, and do not resemble the works of Greek or Roman; there is nothing in Europe like them. We must look, then, to Asia and Africa. It has been supposed that at different periods of time vessels from Japan and China have been thrown upon the western coast of America. The civilization, cultivation, and science of those countries are known to date back from a very early antiquity. Of Japan I believe some accounts and drawings have been published, but they are not within my reach ; of China, during the whole of her long history, the interior has been so completely shut against strangers that we know nothing of her ancient architecture. Perhaps, however, that time is close at hand. At present we know only that they have been a people not given to change; and if their ancient architecture is the same with their modern, it bears no resemblance whatever to these unknown ruins. The monuments of India have been made familiar to us. The remains of Hindu architecture exhibit immense excavations in the rock, either entirely artificial or made by enlarging natural caverns, supported in front by large columns cut out of the rock, with a dark and gloomy interior. Among all these American ruins there is not a single excavation. The surface of country, abounding in mountain sides, seems to invite it; but, instead of being under ground, the striking feature of these ruins is, that the buildings stand on lofty artificial elevations; and it can hardly be supposed that a people emigrating to a new country, with that strong natural impulse to perpetuate and retain under their eyes memorials of home, would have gone so directly counter to national and religious associations. -In sculpture, too, the Hindus differ entirely. Their

« FöregåendeFortsätt »