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NATIONAL AND POLITICAL ANALOGIES-HISTORICAL AND TRADI
TIONAL-A TRANSLATION OF THE HIEROGLYPhICAL ALTAR OF COPAN, &c.
HISTORY proves the fact that the higher orders of animals and birds, have been selected as the symbolical emblems of different nations,—as for instance, the British Lion,-the Gallic Cock,-the Roman and the American Eagle, and many others. The Dove was the bird of Babylon and Nineveh, this was natural, as those cities were the most ancient, and nearest to the time of the Deluge, –and consequently the Dove became the apparent emblem of safety; and it is a strong proof of the historical fact of the Deluge and the “Dove.” The next beautiful bird of a peaceful character is the Swan, and this was selected by another immediate branch of Noah's family—viz., the Canaanites. It has already been shewn that the house of Canaan was the original of that of the Tyrians. The antiquary, Jacob Bryant, says concerning this emblem of the Canaanites, “that where they, or their descendants (i. e. Tyrians) may have settled, there will a story be found in reference to Swans.” Now when the above learned writer penned that general remark, he little thought that it would be brought to bear upon the identity of the Tyrians in the Western Hemisphere ; and therefore, in its application, it is of greater authority, from that very fact. He says—that where the Tyrians may have settled, we may earpect to hear some story or tradition about a Swan or Swans. Admitting this to be truth, (and he is quoted as authority upon antiquities,) then is there proof that the Merican Aborigines were Tyrians, as the following incident from acknowledged history will shew. About two centuries before the Spanish Conquest,-the Aztecas, (Mexican proper) were oppressed by a neighbouring kingdom ; the latter demanded as a tribute, that the former should bring one of their celebrated floating gardens from the Lake of Mexico, this tributary present was accomplished, with great labour and difficulty. The next year this demand was repeated, and with this addition—viz., that their emblematical bird, THE Swan, should, also, be brought with it, and in the Garden, sitting on her eggs, and that the present should be so timed as to its arrival, that the eggs should be hatched, when the Garden was presented to the King demanding the National tribute ;-this was actually accomplished, and the Cygnets came forth as the imperious Monarch received the present. Now the substance of the above was recorded by the Spanish Historian over three centuries since, and with no idea to establish that those Aborigines were Tyrians;–it may, therefore, be received as a record of fact, at all events it came to the Historian from the Mexicans as a “story” of their race,—handed down from sire to son, as a “tradition” of their ancestors. In those respects alone—“ story or tradition"—the proof of identity required by Bryant is completely established. “Where the Tyrians are you may expect to hear some story or tradition about Swans.”—Well then, here is the “story” and “tradition” together with the historical fact, and Swans form the material —but, they have been dying in music for centuries yet unregarded;—they have been as a symbolical record buried in a people's Sepulchre, —and which the opening of a Nation's tomb has alone brought to light. The classic reader will remember, that Jupiter assumed the form of the Bird of Canaan, when he sought and won the love of Leda!
We will now endeavour to translate the Hieroglyphics, and Sculpture, upon, and around, the Chief Altar of Copan. We commence with the proposition that the hieroglyphics merely explain the Sculpture, and that if the Sculpture can be explained, the sense of the hieroglyphics, as a consequence, will be translated. If we shall read the Sculpture aright, we believe that it will be found to record a National Act of Friendship, whereby the Tyrians had the power of reaching America. We will not anticipate our History by now stating the detail of that act of amity, it will be sufficient for the present purpose to mention, that the act occurred between the Sidonians and the Tyrians, —it was an act of friendship in front of death itself— and death in its most terrific form, both of torture and of infamy.
Mr. Stephens, in writing of the thirty-six compartments, or squares,-of hieroglyphics on the top of the Altar, says—
“They without doubt record some event in the history of the mysterious people who once inhabited the City” (i. e. Copan).
We believe it, and that the basso-Sculpture on the four sides, as already stated, illustrates the hieroglyphics on the surface. The details of the Sculpture must be first reviewed, in order to establish even analogy in the accessories of the Altar. 1st. The “two Serpents"— (and the same are around the walls of Uxmal).
The Serpent with the Tyrians (who copied it from their neighbours of Egypt) was their Agatho-daemon, —or good demon of the country-and would naturally be used to illustrate any strong act of faith, or friendship ; and as a mutual act of amity had taken place between these two nations,—the Mother and Child,— for Tyrus was “the Daughter of Sidon,”—it follows that two serpents were necessary to illustrate the compound act. We have seen an ancient Tyrian Coin, on the reverse of which is a Serpent entwining an Egg-it may be translated thus, an Egg is the emblem of life, and it being very large upon the Coin in proportion to the Serpent, represents the germ of the Nation's life-the Serpent by coiling around it, presents the good demon (power or Spirit) of the Country protecting the Egg, or Nation, from external injury by its numerous embraces, the warmth of which would, also, bring it into active life. The Altar is described as standing “on four globes cut out of the stone,"— now a globe conveys the idea only of a perfect sphere, but from the drawings of the Altar these “globes" are distinctly oval, and consequently represent the form of Eggs and not “globes " On the Coin above alluded to, the Egg is a principal emblem, and that of life, and those symbols forming the Corner-stones, or foundation of the Altar, seem to illustrate that the story of the Sculpture represents the very earistence,—or rather the birth of the Nation in its present locality, (i. e. Copan). This we believe is the fact, and the warrant for the assertion we will hereafter prove to be founded on the authority of Classical History itself. This Altar we have ever regarded as the Key-stone to the Arch, of these historical sepulchres, and architectural wonders of the Western wilderness. The Serpents and the Eggs then are essentially Tyrian emblems. In the description of the Altar one of the two chief personages holds in his hand an “instrument” or sceptre—buteach ofthelesser figures an “object”—which in the engraving is a spiral shell. These shells, also, illustrate the Nation of Tyrus, for the spiral shell is found upon nearly all the coins of that ancient country! It was placed on their coins in honour of the discovery of the secret of the celebrated colour, called by the ancients, the Tyrian Dye. That renowned colour was not made from any earth or mineral, but from the purple murex,−or the dye shellfish. It was first discovered by a Tyrian on the shores of Tyrus, who, wandering with his Dog, suddenly observed the mouth of his faithful companion to be empurpled,—and upon investigation, he found that it arose from the animal crush