Изображения страниц


mankind. But this claim to divinity, so common to ancient heroes. and lawgivers, was not at first accorded to these offspring of the The following were some of the peculiar circumstances under which this claim was made by these pretenders, and finally conceded by the natives:-These two descendants from the orb of day were the son and daughter of a white man who had come to the cacique of that country, become his son-in-law, and taught to these his only two children many of the useful arts till then totally unknown in Peru. After the death of this stranger, the father-in-law, determining to deify his family, placed his grandson on a mountain overhanging the densely peopled valley of Cusco, assembled the natives, and declared to them that their god, the sun, had taken pity on them, and sent two of his children to govern them; that they would find these celestial personages on the summit of the mountain; and as an attestation of his statement, they should find the color of their hair like that of the sunbeams. But the people, believing that the light hair and fair countenance of these youth were the effects of witchcraft, banished them to the valley of Rimac. The cacique, persisting in his purpose to deify his posterity, removed his golden-haired grandchildren from the place of their exile to the Island of Titicaca, whose inhabitants were of an easier faith. He then caused the young man to assemble those islanders, and return at their head to Cusco. Those who first banished this bright-faced stranger, now seeing him at the head of so powerful a force, quietly submitted to his claim, and proclaimed him their inca. To all acquainted with the history of Peru it is well known that inca is an official name, by which regal authority was implied, and that the monarchs of that dynasty had Capac or Manco Capac for their common name. Etymologists attempt, in a plausible manner, to account for the origin and appli cation of this name. They inform us that when the father of the first inca was asked by the cacique who he was, he answered, Englishman, which, in the Guichua language, was pronounced ingasman, to which was added Cocapac, (blooming,) expressive of the fair complexion of the European stranger; which united was Ingasman Cocapac, from which came the three words, Inca, Manco, Capac. To dispose of the probabilities against an Englishman's having been cast on this shore of the new world more than eight hundred years ago, we leave entirely to antiquarians. But whether or not the manner how, and the period when, the incarial race entered America are here correctly stated, nothing can be more indubitable than that the period of their arrival at this continent was many centuries later than that at which the first inhabitants of Peru made their appearance. The cultivated state of the arts, and the deeply concerted system of government introduced by this race into Peru, prove no less than the superiority of its now lost language that it was not a wandering tribe of the American woods, but a portion of some civilized nation of the eastern continent. Cusco was the seat of empire under the reign of this powerful dynasty. The shattered remains of this once splendid empire still exhibit some of the most exquisite works of art. Such are especially found in the historical descriptions of this city at the period of its capture. Among many others may be instanced the most curious ornaments of gold and silver which were numerously placed in the royal garden. Some of these were gigantic representations of flowers and shrubs,

containing incredible quantities of the precious metals, and exhibiting a skill in the artists which designed and manufactured them that never belonged to a race of barbarians. Those gold and silver bushes of these burnished metals so filled the area with the glory of their reflected splendor as to give the whole scene an unearthly aspect. Of the architectural skill of this mysterious people some of the most magnificent monuments have disappeared since the Spanish conquest. A relic of them, however, appears in the remains of the ancient temple of the sun. The inconsiderable portion of its walls which remains-on which a most splendid convent has been, built— indicates the exquisite art by which the vast superstructure was erected. The chambers of this spacious building, which, in the times of the incas, were occupied by the virgins of the sun, would have vied with some of the finest models of Grecian architecture. But the most remarkable monument of the perfection to which this art was carried in Peru is found in the ruins of a gigantic fortress, portions of whose walls are still in a state of perfect preservation. The stones which form these walls are of amazing magnitude, of polygonal shapes, and of various dimensions. They were placed together in massive walls, without any kind of cement; yet, notwithstanding their numerous angles and various dimensions, with such surprising nicety was this done as to preclude the insertion of a needle between them. How the Peruvians conveyed to the spot these enormous masses, and raised them to such heights in those lofty walls; how they fitted those amazing blocks of numerous corners and diversified dimensions with such minute precision, are still arcana which European acuteness has never yet penetrated. These and other monuments in Cusco, which have survived the destructive barbarism of its more than Vandal conquerors, attest the civilization and power of the incarial dynasty.

Nor was the superiority of this race less evinced by the depth of policy which existed in the system of its government. Though this government was a pure despotism, it was so ingeniously modified by patriarchal customs and institutions that the authority of the monarch was enthroned both in the fear and affections of his subjects. On a few simple principles was based the vast system of jurisprudence by which the empire was governed. Among the most prominent of those were these three precepts::-Am sua, ama qualla, ama llulla, (i. e., Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not be idle.) The produce of agriculture was enjoyed in common. All the fruits of the earth were divided into four equal parts by officers to whom that important apportionment was committed. One quarter of the whole was devoted to the support of the widow, the orphan, and the helpless. Another was applied to the support of religion, from which means were derived to erect temples, to sustain the priesthood and that numerous train of women called the virgins of the sun. The third quarter was enjoyed by the community at large, to whose various parts it was distributed with the utmost care and impartiality; and the fourth part maintained in more than regal splendor the inca and his wide-spread family, though in the lapse of successive ages this became exceedingly numerous. Like the Spartans, this people never used gold and silver as money. As ornaments these precious metals abounded among the higher classes of the Peruvian nation; but as a circu

lating medium they were never known here until European invaders laid the incarial power in the dust. Another marked trait in the Peruvian policy appears in the arrangements made by that government for the aggrandizement and extending influence of the capital, and also to secure the subordination of the influential class of citizens to the extremities of the empire. Every nation that successively bowed to the sway of incarial power was permitted to add a new division to the city, so that whatever portion of each nation might choose to reside in it for political, commercial, or other purposes, it could retain its usages, costume, and all its other distinctive characteristics. Hence the capital not only exhibited that striking variety which existed in all the nations of that vast empire, but possessing a part of each nation, it held a kind of security for the loyalty of all. The government also required that the sons of certain superior classes, in every part of the empire, should reside at the capital until their education was finished. These youth, thus becoming deeply imbued with the principles of government, and strongly attached to its leading functionaries about the throne, were admirably qualified to countenance and perpetuate the royal authority in the various provinces to which they should return. And as these were continually, in great numbers, near the centre of absolute power, they were a sufficient pledge for the good conduct of their parents, whose rank would have given an alarming character to any treasonable design they might have otherwise formed. Thus was accomplished the double purpose of giving the best qualifications to officers, to the very limits of the empire, and of furnishing the best security against revolt. Indeed, none can so acquaint himself with the ancient system of Peruvian government as to perceive the depth and combination of the various parts of its policy without feeling compelled to seek its origin in a social state very different from that of savages. Nor was this political system merely a stupendous fabric in theory. It was mighty in its practical power. Such was the stable control it held over millions that not a single intestine broil disturbed the tranquillity of the state during the ten long successive reigns. By so steady a hand was tempered justice administered that not a page of Peruvian history was stained with blood until the eleventh inca ascended the throne, immediately anterior to the Spanish invasion. All their wars during the successive centuries of the incarial dominion, by which numerous neighboring tribes were made to bow to that sway, were waged in equity, and terminated without savage cruelty; and in some instances the sole condition required by the conqueror was, that the vanquished should abandon their idols, and worship the sun. Now where on the whole globe can there be found a greater contrast between two nations than that which appears in the social state of the ancient inhabitants of Peru and in the state of that later race which mysteriously entered among them? Those aboriginal tribes, up to the time of the incas, were in the lowest state of savage degradation. Their dwelling places were holes and caves in the mountains. Their food was not the product of the soil, but-excepting human flesh-the game of the woods, the fish of their streams, and the wild roots, fruits, and berries of the forest. Those who were not in a state of entire nudity covered themselves with the undressed skins of the beasts they caught. But the most horrifying feature in their savage character

was their cannibalism. They did not content themselves with imitating the Mexicans, who feasted on the human flesh offered to their gods, or other tribes who made their prisoners of war the meat of their table; but they fed and fattened their own children that they might butcher them, like swine, and feed on their bloody corpses. But no sooner had the incarial family entered Peru, and acquired authority, than these shocking atrocities vanished from the country. Those dismal caverns, fit only for ferocious beasts, were exchanged for habitations erected for man; agriculture took the place of hunting; the undressed skins of wild beasts were exchanged for cotton garments; simple homage to the sun succeeded the sacrifice of their offspring to that imaginary deity; and the horrid practice of butchering their children for common meals soon existed nowhere but in the records of the past. Surely a change so speedy and felicitous, which has turned wild wastes into fruitful fields, and ferocious cannibals into intelligent agriculturists, could only be effected by a race of greatly superior intelligence. Now the fact that the native Americans originated in various nations in the eastern hemisphere, and emigrated at very different periods to the new world, is made evident by the Mexican paintings and several other historical documents. The hieroglyphical tables of the ancient Astics have transmitted to us the principal epochs of the great emigrations toward the south. According to these records, these occurred between the sixth and thirteenth centuries. The thinly peopled valley of Mexico was invaded by the Taultecs in 648, about two centuries later than that great rush took place from the north into the populous and civilized regions of Europe. But while this latter invasion plunged millions of civilized men into the long night of barbarism that shaded the middle ages, that of Mexico shed the first light of civilization on those wandering hordes which had roamed for ages in the desert. At different periods of the twelfth century four other nations successively entered Mexico. These were the Chichimecks, the Nahualticks, the Acolhues, and the Astics, who all evidently flowed from the north, and great portions of whom passed on south of that delightful valley, about which so many of them took up their residence. An author, distinguished for the depth of his researches into the origin of ancient nations, has adduced Chinese annals to show that America was visited by that nation posterior to the middle of the fifth century; and the ingenious Horne, with several later writers of deserved celebrity, collected historical evidence of great strength to prove that old relations existed between Asia and America; and the considerations urged by Count Humboldt, that most distinguished traveler, go far toward proving that the Taultecs or Astics were a part of the Hiongnoux, who, according to the Chinese historians, emigrated under Punon, their leader, and were lost in the northern part of Siberia. This fierce nation of warlike shepherds had more than once changed the political face of oriental Asia, and in an early age, under the name of Huns, it desolated the fairest portions of civilized Europe. Though there are the most indubitable evidences that all those nations which emigrated to the tropical parts of America after the sixth century traveled from the north, there is not a single remaining trace by which to determine from what direction those earliest tribes came which had dwelt there for many generations. The place of their origin, the route they

traveled, and the time of their arrival, are covered with the impene trable gloom of unrecorded ages. Would our limits allow of so much minuteness it might be convincingly shown by asteology that all the American tribes never sprang from the Mongol or any other one race; but that some of them owe their origin to people who have long since been blotted out from national existence. And we learn by various indications that the earliest tribes in this part of the new world were of extremely remote antiquity, that some of the most ancient of them have even become extinct. Reference can now be had to only one of these. In Mexican paintings still preserved are human figures of enormous aquiline noses. No people has been known of such features to exist in America for many past centuries. This race must therefore have, many ages since, sunk in oblivion. Those who entered the tropical regions after the sixth century must have emigrated from the old world at a much later period than those wild hordes that bowed to their superior discipline. Their knowledge of the arts and sciences leaves this unquestionable. In agriculture and horticulture they excelled. They made extensive dikes, excavated great canals, erected magnificent bridges, and possessed the art of founding metals, and of cutting and giving the highest polish to the hardest stones. They erected those huge pyramids the largest of which measured on one side of the base more than fourteen hundred feet. The perfect manner in which they prepared the material for their hieroglyphics, and the extensive scale on which it was formed, were unequalled by any ancient nation of the eastern world. This, which was argave paper, or stag skin, was often seventy-two feet in length. It was folded here and there, in the form of a rhomb, and thin boards, fastened to the extremities, formed their binding, and gave them a resemblance to our books in quarto. Their hierarchy was formed on principles which so combined the civil, military, and clerical functionaries as to prove that a system so complicated, and so well adjusted, must have been preceded by a long series of political experiments which could never have been made in that immense wilderness of the new world. These, and kindred facts which speak the same language, uttered by historical intimations and hieroglyphical paintings, bring us irresistibly to the conclusion, that all those arduous attempts which have been made to prove the natives of America to be the descendants of Israel, or of the Mongol race, or of any other one nation on the globe, have issued in a total failure. So deep is the darkness which rests on these earliest wanderers through the American deserts, that the profoundest researches must leave their origin still in the region of mystery. Every light expires long before the time of their emigration to the western continent can be reached. Indeed, the nations of which they were a part, the land of their forefathers, the route and period of their emigration, are among those millions of human events which have never found a place on the historian's page, and lie too deep beneath the lumber of ages ever to be called from oblivion.

The number of the natives at the time of the discovery cannot without emotion be compared to the number at present in existence. The whole copper-colored race now in being in both Americas cannot exceed six millions. This remnant, scattered over that vast territory which enters the perpetual snow of the north, and reaches

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »