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“The reader will be able to form some idea of the time, skill, and labour, required for making them [the edifices]; and more than this, to conceive the immense time, skill, and labour required for carving [sculpturing] 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 the edifices. Probably all these ornaments have a symbolical meaning ; [they certainly have] 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 shew that the History of the World yet remains to be written.”
With all humility we have attempted to “reveal” one portion of the Sculpture, (others will follow)—but the emblems of Christianity and the Resurrection, can form no part “of an allegory or fable ;” and truly has the History of the World yet to be written, when historians in ignorance of the Ruins, have traced the Aborigines, who built the gorgeous edifices of Palenque and Uxmal, to have lived and perished in a savage life From the character of the Sculpture, and its devices, Uxmal is placed by us as the last built of all the Ancient Cities as yet discovered on the Western Continent.
Having made sufficient extracts from Mr. Stephens's work on “Central America,” in illustration of Copan, Palenque, and Uxmal, the principal Cities of Ruins; the Traveller's reflections upon his explorations will now be given, and his conclusions met and refuted. We desire, before we commence the following Chapter of refutation, to impress the reader's mind with the importance of a complete removal of the conclusions, arrived at by Mr. Stephens in regard to these Ruins ; —for if he is right, we are stopped at the very threshold of our History. We confess this with all honesty, and desire thereby to arouse the minute attention of the reader to the several points of refutation,--to analyze them critically, and to yield nothing, but from conviction of foregone errors and false conclusions.
In conformity with the rule of argument with which this volume was commenced, we presume that the preceding Chapter completely establishes in the mind of the reader, that Ancient Cities and Ruins have been discovered in Mexican America ; in this belief, the History will be continued, and the Builders and Architecture identified.
A REVIEW OF THE REFLECTIONS OF MR. STEPHENS UPON THE RUINS OF MEXICAN AMERICA—HIS CONCLUSIONS FOUNDED UPON FALSE PREMISES-HIS ERRORS DETECTED BY HIS OWN CONTRADICTIONS.–RESTORATION OF THE TEMPLE OF UXMAL–HIS CHIEF MOTIVE APPARENT—HIS ARGUMENTS AND CONCLUSIONS REFUTED–AND THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE RUINS IDENTIFIED AND ESTABLISHED–REMARKS UPON ROBERTSON'S HISTORY OF AMERICA.
THE interesting Traveller in his last chapter but one of his Second Volume on “Central America," says—
“I have finished the explorations of ruins,—and here I would be willing to part, and to 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 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.”
It is upon this “ground" of his own choosing that we propose to attack his manoeuvring-it is the only field of argument where the necessary truth can be elicited; and he cannot object if his apparently fortified positions should be attacked, and if not sufficiently defended, he will not wonder that they should be demolished or overthrown; and if we cannot succeed in so doing, we are willing to admit, that his “Conclusions” will be to this work what the heir-apparent of the Scottish throne was to Macbeth; and the same words (except one) will speak our frank confession—viz.
“The Prince of Travellers! That is a step On which I must fall down, or else o'er-leap, For in my way it lies.” He writes: “I set out with the proposition that they are not Cyclopean, and do not resemble the works of Greek or Roman.” We admit the negative to the first and last proposition, but not to the second,-for the sculpture at Uxmal is not only as fine, but distinctly of a Grecian character: the meander, or square running border, is essentially Grecian; and even his own description— viz., “Composition of leaves and flowers, and the ornaments known everywhere as grecques." Here is the distinct phrase of his own selection, brought as evidence against his conclusion on the second proposition. The engravings in Waldeck's folio work of the same Ruins, substantiate every description by Stephens, as being correct: the whole façades have, to the eye, an appearance in regard to the character of the ornaments, which compels the looker-on to exclaim, “Grecian knowledge has been there " “There is nothing in Europe like them. [the Ruins] We must then look to Asia or 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. [i. e. on the Pacific Ocean] The civilization, cultivation, and science of those countries are known to date back from a very early antiquity.” The latter sentence does not admit of question; but that the Chinese or Japanese possessed navigation, with “its means and appliances,” at a period to meet these Ruins, or to cover “a very early antiquity,” cannot for a moment be sustained by history or even tradition. Mr. Stephens does not claim China and Japan as the nations building these Cities, but rejects them upon the ground of Architectural comparison. We instantly join in this decision, and too it add the impossibility from the want of navigable means; but, says the Traveller, the supposition is, that they (the vessels) were “thrown upon the Western coast of America,” and thereby expressing that the arrival of those vessels was accidental. We will prove the impossibility of this, for any vessel in the North Pacific Ocean, having left China or Japan, and becoming unmanageable from loss of rudder, the prevailing East-wind would not only