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If America was originally peopled by barbarous tribes, who, gradually increasing, formed at last considerable and permanent communities on the more fertile soils, and by the natural exertion of their faculties discovered the rudiments of science, and the imperfect beginnings of the arts, becoming able to maintain dynasties and hierarchies, of necessity gave birth to kings and priests, and so to government, to inythology and sacred rites — then we may likewise easily believe that but for the violent interruption of this beautiful process of civilization, it would in due time have developed the higher forms of society - that the culture of Greece and the polity
of Rome would have succeeded, in the course of nature, to the patriarchal system of the Incas and the fierce sway of the Montezumas, and at length Christianity itself, or some analogon of it, would have appeared as the last "expression " of progressive humanity.
But if, on the other hand, it be admitted that the primitive inhabitants of this continent were a race already in effect civilized, who, in their hereditary and traditional religious ideas, and in the fixed mythological symbols of these, derived, likewise, from their ancestors, possessed the very soul and body of all culture ; that by which the imagination is quickened and the understanding informed; that religion, making government its earliest instrument, originated an enormous industry which could alone accomplish the vast demands of its dogmas for an adequate realization; and that, having satisfied itself, by thus effecting the erection of monuments and establishing a ritual which exhausted its ideas and expended the whole force of its sanctions without exhausting or even completely unfolding the energies of the race, it was left only the task of maintaining the edifice it had erected; and, finally, that the system thus formed began to decay so soon as it ceased to develop, and was in a state of gradual decadence at the period of the discovery, then we shall be led to believe in the sole supernatural origin of a religion that has continued for three thousand years constantly to develop itself without showing one symptom of decay in its institutions, and which incessantly demands a kind of realization to which the utmost efforts of all men united can but imperfectly approximate.
Let it be remembered, that what we are seeking is the true idea of history — the right point of view from which we may apprehend the real order and proper causes of human
Two Classes of the Remains of Art.
progress. In the undeniable confusion of views now prevaJent on this subject, it will certainly tend to the establishment of a just theory if we can determine the origin and unfold the progress of a race which, having been allotted by Provi
a dence an entire continent as the theatre of its sole and undisturbed development, affords to the historical inquirer the same advantage that an experiment with simple elements affords to the naturalist.
Iu looking round us for the materials from which thus to construct, at least in outline, the primitive history of this continent, we are very soon led to sympathize with Mr. Bradford in the expressions of regret and indignation with which he reverts to the period when the miserable fanaticism or more miserable policy of the Spanish conquerors destroyed so many of its monuments, and especially of those more perishable and at the same time more valuable records — the pictorial manuscripts.
So few of these now remain, and they are so imperfect, that the principal reliance of the investigator must be placed on the scrutiny and comparison of the more permanent ancient monuments. The first part of Mr. Bradford's volume is devoted to a somewhat detailed and remarkably well classified description of these, in which are included all the important remains on the continent. This portion of his work, although it will prove less interesting probably to the generality of readers, reflects the highest credit on the industry no less than on the discrimination of the author; and, to the cultivated reader, so luminous and pregnant a description will possess an interest not inferior to the deductions that follow it.
Mr. Bradford divides the ancient remains of art existing in America, first, into two great classes, differing in style and importance, one of which, namely, that comprehending all such monuments, utensils, etc., as are to be ascribed to the existing tribes of Indians, he dismisses with a brief notice of the characteristics by which they are distinguished from the more ancient remains. Such, in the case of the utensils, ornaments, etc., continually disinterred in the progress of opening new lands, are their proximity to the surface of the earth, their inferior workmanship compared with the ancient specimens, and their obvious similarity to the articles now constructed by the Indians. The tumuli of Indian origin are, in like manner, distinguished from those of earlier date by their inferior size, isolated position, and, in some degree, by the character of their materials and contents, which are usual.y such as indicate sepulchral mounds, not fortresses or tza places for worship. The deep religious reverence for tre dead thus shown to be a characteristic of the savage Indian tribes, is, however, distinguished by our author as a circumstance ideouiying them as a race with the primitive inhabitants of America, and tending thus p establish the theory of a common origin in all the aborigines, whether barbarous or cultivated.
The second, which, of course, the author considers the only legitimate class of American antiquities, he again divides into, first, the remains within the United States; secondly, those of Central America, Mexico, and the adjoining provinces; and third, those of South America.
This division is not wholly founded on the local position of these remains, but partly on differences which, in the progress of the work, become the ground of important inferences as 10 the history of their respective authors. Lastly, the remains within the United States are considered in detail under three divisions: the mural remains, the mounds, and the specimens of ancient art and other miscellaneous articles found in these or elsewhere.
For the particular descriptions thus embodied, we must, of course, refer to the work itself; nor can we do more here than rapidly indicate some of the more prominent points in the general inferences therein drawn out at length from the collation of so extensive materials. Such are the undoubted origin of all these monuments from one people or from nations essentially identical in customs, inferred from their identity in structure, position, apparent uses, etc.; the immense number, wide diffusion, and permanent settlement of that people, inferred from the number of the monuments, which is truly surprising ; from their extent, spreading over the immense valley watered by the Mississippi and its branches, reaching to the great lakes on the north and to Florida on the south, although, except in the last instance, not touching the Atlantic; and, from their size and the art displayed in their construction, both far above the abilities of roving and unsettled tribes; the high antiquity of this people, evinced by the twofold fact of the skill and resources displayed in their monuments, and by the present state of these, covered for the most part, as they are, by heavy forests of the second or permanent 1842.]
Monuments of Mexico.
growth, and corroborated, as we think, by the circumstance that except the more massive and durable works — temples, fortresses, and cities - no structures of this people have survived, no private dwellings, no works for common or temporary uses; their subjection to regular government, as what only can account for so vast and so regularly directed an industry, and their possession of a fixed religious system, indicated by the formal arrangements and astronomically determined position of their temples or bigh places for worship; their knowledge, consequently, of astronomy and geometry, and, as is proved by the contents of many remains, of the art of pottery and the chemical principles involved in it, of the use of the metals, of the Cyclopean arch, of working in stone, of making brick and salt, of agriculture and of fortification and lastly, from their monuments, nowhere but in Florida touching the Atlantic, and from the limitation of these on the north and west, coupled with their unbroken continuity of occurrence in the direction of Mexico, is inferred an origin from that quarter.
The last of these inferences is one relatively of very great importance, and naturally leads us, with a curiosity somewhat excited, to the next division of the American antiquities, those, namely, in Mexico and the adjacent states.
But in passing from a consideration of the relics and monuments within the United States to those of Mexico, we are met on the threshold by the discovery of a wide and interesting difference in the two cases. At the time of the discovery of this continent, the ancient remains in the United States were, as now, abandoned by their authors, and the territory which they covered with ruins so mysterious, was occupied by a savage people, incapable of producing similar works, unacquainted with their uses, and scarcely pretending to be acquainted with their origin; and this had been the case for an indefinite period. But the first conquerors of Mexico, on the contrary, found in that region of America a very different state of things - a country extensively cultivated and occupied by civilized states, with various and settled forms of polity; with an established system of religion, and a numerous, disciplined, and industrious population, perfectly competent to produce works equal in character to the ancient monuments, acquainted with the purposes of these, and actually using them or similar structures according to their original design. Hence, although the policy and NO. XIX. — VOL. X.
religious zeal of the Spanish conquerors have entirely supplanted both the institutions and the entire civilization of the Mexicans by their own laws and the Christian faith, yet, a vast advantage is felt by the investigator in possessing even the recollections and the imperfect relics of a living people as the means of interpreting their monuments and those of their ancestors. Very little has been done in the way of recovering whatever may be traditionally preserved in this manner among the natives of New Spain, but much that is of considerable importance is to be found in the narratives of the Spaniards.
In the portion of his work devoted to Mexican antiquities, Mr. Bradford gives a description of the pyramids, "the most ancient and the most expressive of all the ruins” of Spanish America ; of the roads, aqueducts, and similar works of public utility," seldom excelled in massiveness, durability, and grandeur ;" of the earthen ware, “ of exquisite workmanship and graceful design;" flutes, idols, vases, and grotesque jars, “ modelled into birds, toads, and other animals," retaining their colors and vitreous glazing, formed, many of them, “of an earth as light and well baked as that of Tuscany," and occurring at one place more particularly described, in such quantities was to induce a belief that it was actually a mart for crockery ware ;" and, finally, of the hieroglyphical paintings, too few, but inestimable.
As this portion of the work is intended to serve chiefly as a basis for the second, in which, by a comparison of all the American antiquities, both in respect to each other and with those of other nations, and by the light of analogies and of the historical traditions and records of the old world, the author endeavors to deduce the origin and subsequent history of the race or races that have occupied the new, he contents himself with only two general remarks founded on the description of the Mexican remains.
In the first place he points out that these monuments belong to two distinct epochs, one of which, of course, is that of the Spanish conquest and of the empires then found in existence; the other of an antiquity much more remote. In the second place, he remarks the extraordinary general resemblance of all these remains, of whatsoever age and in whatever part of that vast region they are found, as indicating the identity of their authors, probably as a race, certainly in knowledge, religion, government, and manners. He ob