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and it is singular, that the desire of discovering hidden treasure has not prompted the undertaking.”
The Indians preserved many strange traditions, some of which pointed to the Great Pyramid as a temple or place of worship for a divine being, whom they regarded as the conductor of their race to that country, and their instructor in the metallurgic arts. The name by which he was known among them is Quetzalcoatl; and he was described as having been induced by the intreaties of a former and inferior race of beings who occupied the territory of Cholula, to tarry among them. He left after a time, and Montezuma imagined when the Spaniards appeared that they were the posterity of this divinity returned to claim the land which his race had been allowed to occupy for a time. The submissive spirit of resignation which such a belief implies, adds an additional trait of sadness to the memory of the unhappy Mexican king, whose fate it was to come into collision with the first voyagers from the Old World. books," said Montezuma in his first interview with Cortez, "that myself, and those who inhabit this country, are not natives, but strangers, who came from a great distance. We know also, that the chief, who led our ancestors hither, returned for a certain time to his primitive country, and thence came back to seek those who were here established. He found them married to the women of this land, having a numerous posterity, and living in cities which they had built. Our ancestors hearkened not to their ancient master, and he returned alone. We have always believed that his descendants would one day come to take possession of this country. Since you arrive from that region where the sun rises, and, as you assure me, you have long known us, I cannot doubt but that the king, who sends you, is our natural master."
"We know by our
Another very remarkable tradition still exists among the Indians of Cholula, according to which the great pyra
mid was not originally destined to serve for the worship of Quetzalcoatl. "After my return to Europe," says Humboldt, on examining at Rome the Mexican manuscript in the Vatican library, I found that this same tradition was already recorded in a manuscript of Pedro de Los Rios, a Dominican monk, who, in 1566, copied on the very spot all the hieroglyphical paintings he could procure. Before the great inundation, which took place four thousand eight hundred years after the creation of the world, the country of Anahuac was inhabited by giants (tzocuillixeque). All those who did not perish were transformed into fishes, save seven, who fled into caverns. waters subsided, one of these giants, Xelhua, surnamed the architect, went to Cholollan, where, as a memorial of the mountain Tlaloc, which had served for an asylum to himself and his six brethren, he built an artificial hill in form of a pyramid. He ordered bricks to be made in the province of Tlamanalco, at the foot of the Sierra of Cocotl, and to convey them to Cholula he placed a file of men, who passed them from hand to hand. The gods beheld with wrath this edifice, the top of which was to reach the clouds. Irritated at the daring attempt of Xelhua, they hurled fire on the pyramid. Numbers of the workmen perished; the work was discontinued, and the monument was afterwards dedicated to Quetzalcoatl, the god of the air."
This narrative contains too manifest resemblances for us to doubt its derivation from the primitive traditions of the flood, and of the remarkable dispersion of the human race on the plains of Shinar. "It reminds us," says Humbolt, "of those ancient traditions of the East, which the Hebrews have recorded in their sacred books. Rios, to prove the high antiquity of this fable of Xelhua, observes that it was contained in a hymn, which the Cholulans sang at their festivals, dancing around the teocalli; and that this hymn began with the words Tulanian hulu
laez, which are words belonging to no dialect at present known in Mexico. In every part of the globe, on the ridge of the Cordilleras, as well as in the isle of Samothrace in the Egean sea, fragments of primitive languages are preserved in religious rites."
These and many other indications seem very clearly to point to the fact that the race which occupied the southern regions of the North American continent at the time of its discovery in the fourteenth century, were the successors of a still older race, whose unrecovered annals stretch away into the dim and mysterious past, involved in more impenetrable shades even than that ancient epoch of the Egyptian Menes, which still hangs doubtfully on the mystic verge between history and fable.
Humboldt has carefully investigated the interesting question to which we have referred, of the correspondence between the pyramids of Mexico and those both of Egypt and Assyria. He finds a much closer affinity between them and the great pyramid of Babylon than is traceable to any of those of Egypt. But the vast period which is known to have intervened between the building of these similar erections, is a more unanswerable argument against any idea of a common origin, than even the continents and oceans which interpose between the countries where the corresponding structures are found. The Mexican pyramids, it is clearly established, were built in the comparatively brief interval between the epoch of Mahomet and the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. Humboldt most justly remarks, after showing the similarity of the Asiatic and American pyramids: "We cannot observe without astonishment, that American edifices, the form of which is almost the same as that of one of the most ancient monuments on the banks of the Euphrates, belong to times so near our own.
"When we consider in the same point of view the pyramidical monuments of Egypt, of Asia, and of the
New Continent, we see, that, though their form is alike, their destination was altogether different. The group of pyramids at Gizeh and at Sakhara in Egypt; the triangular pyramid of the Queen of the Scythians, Zarina, which was a stadium high, and three in circumference, and which was decorated with a colossal figure; the fourteen Etruscan pyramids, which are said to have been enclosed in the labyrinth of the king Porsenna, at Clusium; were reared to serve as the sepulchres of the illus. trious dead. Nothing is more natural to men than to commemorate the spot where rest the ashes of those whose memory they cherish, whether it be, as in the infancy of the race, by simple mounds of earth, or in later periods, by the towering height of the tumulus. Those of the Chinese and of Thibet have only a few metres of elevation. Farther to the west the dimensions increase; the tumulus of the king Alyattes, father of Croesus, in Lydia, was six stadia, and that of Ninus was more than ten stadia in diameter. In the north of Europe the sepulchres of the Scandinavian king Gormus, and the queen Daneboda, covered with mounds of earth, are three hundred metres broad, and more than thirty high. We meet with these tumuli in both hemispheres; in Virginia, and in Canada, as well as in Peru, where numerous galleries, built with stone, and communicating with each other by shafts, fill up the interior of the huacas, or artificial hills. In Asia these rustic monuments have been decorated with the refinement of eastern luxury, while their primitive forms have been preserved. The tombs of Pergamus are cones of earth, raised on a circular wall, which seems to have been encased with marble.
"The teocallis, or Mexican Pyramids, were at once temples and tombs. The plain on which were built the houses of the sun and of the moon at Teotihuaca, is called the Path of the Dead; but the essential principal part of a teocalli was the chapel, the naos, at the top of the edi
fice. In the infancy of civilization, high places were chosen by the people to offer sacrifices to the gods. The first altars, the first temples, were erected on mountains; and when these mountains were isolated, the worshippers delighted in the toil of shaping them into regular forms, cutting them by stories, and making stairs to reach the summit more easily. Both continents afford numerous examples of these hills divided into terraces, and supported by walls of brick or stone. The teocallis appear to me to be merely artificial hills, raised in the midst of a plain, and intended to serve as a basis to the altars. What more sublime and awful than a sacrifice that is offered in the sight of an assembled nation!"
It is impossible, however, to associate ideas of sublimity with a worship, the rites of which were so bloody and revolting as that of the ancient Mexicans.
It is justly remarked in the introduction to the researches concerning the institutions and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of America :-"We shall be surprised to find, towards the end of the fifteenth century, in a world which we call new, those ancient institutions, those religious notions, and that style of building, which seem in Asia to indicate the very dawn of civilization. The characteristic features of nations, like the internal construction of plants, spread over the surface of the globe, bear the impression of a primitive type, notwithstanding the variety produced by the difference of climates, the nature of the soil, and the concurrence of many accidental causes.
"In the beginning of the conquest of America the attention of Europe was chiefly directed toward the gigantic constructions of Couzco, the high roads carried along the centre of the Cordilleras, the pyramids with steps, and the worship and symbolical writings of the Mexicans. The country around Port Jackson in New Holland, and the island of Otaheite, have not been more frequently de