Page images
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Once more we resume this most interesting and valuable branch of general knowledge, after a much longer suspension than we intended; and we shall now endeavour to pursue it with such avidity as to redeem the time that has already elapsed. When we last treated on this subject, we presented it in connexion with mythology. Since then, we have been [...; mythology by itself. We will now treat on istory in the same manner. We have entered extensively into heathen speculation on the primordial times of the world. But little more of a similar nature remains which we deem advisable to detail. A few brief additional extracts from the work entitled “Ancient Fragments,” will suffice on this point. CANON OF THE KINGS OF EGYPT: From diodorus Siculus.

Some of them fable that the Gods and Heroes first reigned in Egypt during a period little less than eighteen thousand years, and that the last of the Gods who reigned was Horus, the son of Isis.

Froxi pomponius MELA.

The Egyptians, according to their own accounts, are the most ancient of men; and they reckon in their series of annals 330 kings, who reigned above 13,000 years; and they preserve in written records the memory of the event, that since the commencement of the Egyptian race, the stars have completed four revolutions, and the sun has twice set where he now rises.

front herodotus.

There is a very ancient God among the Egyptians who is called Heracles: and they assert, that from his reign to that of Amasis, 17,000 years have elapsed. They reckoned Heracles among the Gods when the number was augmented from 8 to 12.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

A certain person among them, well versed in these matters, wrote a history, in which he says, that God, the demiurgus of all things, for the sake of giving dignity to his roductions, was pleased to employ twelve thousand years in their creation, and extended these years over twelve divisions, called houses. In the first thousand years he created the heaven and the earth ; in the second he made this apparent firmament above us, and called it heaven; in the third, the sea and all the waters in the earth; in the fourth, the great lights, the sun and the moon, together with the stars; in the fifth, every soul of birds, and reptiles, and quadrupeds, in the air, and in the earth, and in the waters; in the sixth, man. It appears, therefore, that the first six thousand years were consumed before the formation of man; and during the other six thousand years, the human race will continue, so that the full time shall be completed, even to twelve thousand years.

rirom censorinus. I will now treat of that interval of time which Warro calls historic : for he divides the times into three parts. The first from the beginning of mankind to the former Cataclysm, &c. The first period either had some beginning, or had endured from eternity; however that may be, it is impossible to make out the number of its years.

Let these speculations suffice; and let us now turn our attention to matters of grave historical fact. Although few particulars relative to the Antediluvians have come down to us, yet we have data sufficient for a variety of reasonable conjectures, some of which we here subjoin. 1. As there was but one language, and as the Antediluvian period was comparatively brief, mankind probably continued one community, instead of being dispersed abroad in different regions of the earth, as we now find them. We may therefore conclude, that but a small portion of the earth was inhabited before the Flood. 2. As the lives of men were then protracted to so great a period, and during this period they continued to have sons and daughters, and their sons and daughters sons and daughters, and so on, the population of the world at the time of the Deluge must have been far greater than we should at first thought be inclined to suppose. And as this numerous population formed but one great community, united by every social ligament, that portion of the earth which was inhabited was evidently far more densely peopled than is the inhabited portion of the globe in our own day, or than it has been at any period since the Flood. 3. It is notorious that a dense population is a hot-bed of vice and crime ; and equally notorious, that the longer a person leads a vicious and criminal life, the more obdurate and flagitious he becomes. With these two causes in operation, the assertions of scripture, that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, that all flesh had corrupted God's way upon the earth, and that the earth was filled with violence, are not only sustained by probability, but by moral demonstration. It follows that the Deity, as the moral Governor of the world, would adopt some tremendous judgment as a purifying corrective. But as the corruption of the human race had become universal; as Noah alone, out of the whole multitude of mankind, was found righteous before the Lord; as the whole body of society had become a mass of moral putrefaction; it was necessary, in order to the thorough purification of the earth, to make one general sweep. Hence the story of the Deluge, in which all but righteous Noah and his family were destroyed, becomes probable a priori. 4. From the circumstance that Cain is stated to have built a city, it is presumable that the old world had cities and villages. And as there were in those days “mighty men, men of renown,” the presumption is fair that wars were waged, that martial feats were achieved, that cities were sacked and fields laid waste, at that early period of history ; and this supposition gains the greater strength from the declaration of scripture already noticed, that the earth was filled with violence. 5. The arts and sciences, also, must have made considerable progress; for we read of the harp and the organ in those days, and of artificers in brass and iron. Their progress in these branches of knowledge must have been

much accelerated, in consequence of the great longevity of

men, which would afford the ingenious full scope for the developement of their powers, and time for their maturity and perfection by experience.

6. It would further appear, that they had the knowledge of the true God. And when we consider that Adam lived almost a thousand years, to relate to his descendants the account of the origin of things; and that Methusaleh was contemporary with Adam one or two hundred years, and lived till the very year of the Deluge, to receive from Adam's own lips this account, and to transmit it fresh through the whole Antediluvian period to those then living; we are led to the conclusion that the Antediluvians must have been well acquainted with the true history of the world from the creation to the times in which they lived, and that they were matter-of-fact people, rather than fabulists, like vast portions of mankind that have lived since.

We are, then, to look upon the Antediluvians, not as wandering savage tribes, like some of our post-diluvian contemporaries, but as a vast and populous community, possessing their cities and their villages, cultivating the arts and sciences, and prosecuting their varied schemes of aggrandizement and ambition. What a field for the novelist is here ! How might he give pinions to imagination, and sketch the character and record the deeds of those “men of renown” of which we have spoken. How easy in that swarming population to muster millions for the bloody strife! How easy to fancy battles, and conquests, and heroes, that would reduce our Napoleons to very pigmies, and their achievements to the mock-fights of schoolboys. Nay, have not the novelists of mythology already done this 1 Seizing upon the fact that there were Giants and mighty men in Antediluvian days, what prodigies have they ascribed to them. Not content with earthly conquests, they must needs attempt high heaven itself, and

[blocks in formation]

Consulting the annals of the Roman Republic, we find that in the four hundred and sixty-fourth year of the foundation of that city, and two hundred and ninety-one years before Christ, peace was granted to the Samnites after a sanguinary war of eight years, and an alliance founded between the two nations; in commemoration of which event, Publius Cornelius Rufinus, then Consul, ordered a magnificent temple to be built in honor of Romulus and Remus, the founders of the city, upon the side of the Curia, which had been the residence of the first of those two brothers, and where, after his death, the Senate used to assemble in order to deliberate on public affairs. About this period, Rome and Carthage were in alliance for the second time, and the first war between them commenced forty-two years after this alliance, and twenty-six ears after the arrival of Wotan; consequently in the four ho and forty-eighth year of the foundation of the city, corresponding with three hundred and seven years before Christ, this second alliance was formed, and in the four hundred and ninetieth year of Rome and the two hundred and sixty-fifth year before Christ, the first Punic War began. There is but little doubt that the Romans and the Carthaginians obtained their first knowledge of America from Wotan himself, although it is probable the latter soon after obtained a confirmation of his report from the mariners of the ship spoken of by Diodorus; or, that the seven Tzequiles whom Wotan speaks of finding in one of his returns, were of this same people ; nor is it less to be doubted, that the first colony sent to America by the Carthaginians, was previous to the first Punic War. This colony, united to the Tzequiles, and reinforced by the Carthaginian mariners who fled from the miseries of war, remained in America, and almost immediately rendered itself master of the country by subduing the first inhabitants, and interrupted the order which the native people

had until that time observed, of being governed by two Captains elected by the priests, one from the family of Wotan, the other from the Tzequiles, as related by Claviger, lib. 1. To preserve harmony between them, the o: of Amaguemecan was established; and the perceptible migrations of the Carthaginians from their own country occasioned the Senate's decree commanding them to re turn, as mentioned by Diodorus, and confirmed by Montezuma in his discourses with Cortez. It is very credible that disobedience to this decree, the refusal to acknowledge fealty, the threat of the person sent to make known the decree, that he would either return with or send a sufficient force to overpower and compel them to subjection, and the consternation excited in their minds by such a menace, (for this alarm is implied in the Mexican tradition, and was spoken of by Montezuma to Cortes, when he says, “that those who were descended from him would return to conquer the country and reduce them to vassalage,”) may have occasioned the downfal of Amaguemecan, because the original inhabitants, taking advantage of the general panic, which was probably increased by the death of Hamacatzin the last king, and the dissensions arising between his two sons Acheauhtzin and Xolotl respecting the succession, seriously thought of shaking off the yoke. For this purpose they formed secret meetings to concert measures for simultaneously commencing in all parts operations against their oppressors, and they suddenly expelled them. Torquemada, Claviger, and others, mention these circumstances very confusedly, but they had not access to information of which we are now in possession. This fact, supported as it is by traditions of the Mexicans and Tultecas of Amaguemecan, is confirmed by the suppliant posture of the Indian between the two crocodiles on the medal, a document sufficient in itself to perpetuate so great and memorable an event.

Again, there were no more than three kings of Amaguemecan: (Torquem : vol. 2.) Ycoantzin, Moceloquichtzli, and Amacalzin ; to the second, authors assign a reign of one hundred and fifty-six years, and to the third, one hundred and thirty-three years, but make no mention of the period the first reigned ; these epochs are wholly beyond the pole of probability. By following however the rule laid down by Dionysius, Halicarnassus, and the note of Lenglet, as better founded on experience, we shall have ninety years, little more or less, which assumes a much greater, appearance of truth; and, if this computation be adopted, it will show that the dynasty was extinct shortly after the decree which caused this revolution had been promulgated. If we have ascertained precisely the period when Wotan was at Rome, it enables us to do the same in respect to other periods now under consideration, and it is undeniable, that from fixed principles, consequences equally certain may be deduced.

To accomplish this, we must have recourse to the Mexican computation, collate it with ours, and compare it with the periods of certain events of American history, and to the epochas assigned to them in their annals. The abbe Clavigero, in the sixth book of his second volume, treats with great erudition upon the system adopted by the Americans in reckoning their months, years, and centuries.

In computing centuries, years, and months, says the his. torian, the Mexicans and other nations used the same method as the ancient Tultecas. The century consisted of fifty-two years, divided into four parts of thirteen years each; two centuries made an age of one hundred and four years, which was denominated Huehiretiliztli, a word meaning old age; to the end of the century they gave the name Toxibicnolpia, which means the bond of our years, as it united two centuries to form one age. The years had four names, Tochtli, (rabbit;) Acatl, (reed;) Teopatl, (flint ;) and Calli, (house;) which, combined with different numbers, formed the century. The first year of the century was one rabbit, the second two reed, the third three flint, the fourth four house, the fifth five rabbit, thus continuing to the thirteenth, which was thirteen rabbit, when the first period terminated. The second period commenced with one reed, and proceeded, two flint, three house, four rabbit, and finished with thirteen reed. The third period began with one flint, and ended with thirteen flint; the fourth began with one house, and finished the century with thirteen house; so that the names being four, and the numbers thirteen, there was no year that could be confounded with another, The Mexican year, like ours, consisted of three hundred and sixty-five days; it contained eighteen months, and each month twenty days, making together three hundred and sixty days: they added to the last month five days, which were called Nemontemi, that is useless, because on those days they did nothing but pay and receive visits. The year one rabbit began on the 26th of February, but in every fourth year it advanced one intercalary day upon our bissextile year. In the last year of the century they beo on the 14th of February, on account of the thirteen ays interposed in the course of fifty-two years, but when the century was completed, they re-commenced upon the 26th. The same author says that he discovered in ancient writings and traditions, that the Tultecas being banished from Amaguemecan and its capital Huehicetlapalla, or Huehuetlapalan, commenced their pilgrimage in the year one flint; and that their settlement, at the foundation of their empire, was in the year eight reed, and although he supposes these two events happened about the years five hundred and ninety-six, and six hundred and sixty-seven of the Christian aera, he declares in a note that the dates are not certain, but probable. It is not very surprising, considering the want of some information which has recently been acquired, that although Torquemada and others found from the annals of the Tultecas that their pilgrimage lasted eight years, from the first flint, until the eighth reed, they should have confounded it with the one hundred and four years or signs of Gemelli's Itinerary, which, as we have already seen, was in Africa; nor does it excite much astonishment that they have proceeded with so much uncertainty, and diverged into such a variety of opinions, without having been able to discover the true origin of the Tultecas and Chichimecas. It deserves notice, as strongly confirming Wotan's correctness on the subject of the seven Tzequil families, whom the authors before named discovered, that during their pilimage the people were subject to seven Captains or hiefs, whose names they have preserved, Zacatlebalcatzin, Evecatzin, Couatzin, Tzihualcoatl, Metzotzin and Tlapalmetzotzin, which are given with a trifling difference by Torquemada, who experienced so much difficulty in comprehending the Mexican tradition of their coming originally from the seven caves, that he confesses “he felt great diffidence in endeavouring to unravel a perplexity the solution of which so many had attempted and yet failed in developing;” yet all the obscurities would be cleared away by substituting the word houses for caves, and families for houses. The system of the Mexican century, divided as it is into four names and thirteen numbers, does not admit of any one year being repeated under the same name and number during that century, yet this repetition does occur in different centuries. This repetition will perhaps occasion doubts as to the century in which any particular event may have happened, especially in referring to very remote times, therefore the connexion and combination of one event with another, is the only method of surmounting thc difficulty, and exactly deciding upon the centnry to which it refers. How are we to demonstrate the correctness of the following epochas! viz. Wotan's arrival at Rome, in one of his voyages, in the year two hundred and ninety-one before Christ; the Punic wars in two hundred and thirty-five, in two hundred and nineteen, and in one hundred and fifty before Christ, and the destruction of Carthage, one hundred and forty-seven years before Christ. For these must prescribe the rule whereby to fix the Mexican century in which the pilgrimage of the Tultecas happened, and consequently the destruction of Amaguemecan and such other periods as may be required. Taking these as fixed data, and comparing the Mexican computation with our own, the year one flint, that in which the Tusca: were driven

[merged small][ocr errors]

“This animal is more commonly found in cold than in temperate climates, and is at least very rare in hot ones. Bory St. Vincent, however, assures us that he shot several in Spain. It is abundant in the northern parts of Europe, Asia, and America. The Lynx of the Greeks and Romans was not the animal which now bears that name, but the caracal. “The Lynx of which the ancients have said, that the sight was so sharp as to penetrate opaque bodies, and of which the urine was made to possess the marvellous property of hardening into a solid substance, a precious stone called lapis lyncurius, is an animal which never existed, any more than all the properties attributed to it, but in fable. To the present Lynx, or to the caracal, this imaginary one has no affinity, but in name. We must not, therefore, as the generality of naturalists have hitherto done, attribute to the former, which is a real being, the properties of this imaginary one, the existence of which Pliny himself does not seem disposed to believe, since he speaks of it only as an extraordinary beast, and classes it with the sphynx, the pegasus, and other prodigies or monsters, the produce of Æthiopia. “Our Lynx possesses not the wonderful quality of seeing through walls; but it has bright eyes, a mild aspect, and, upon the whole, an agreeable and lively appearance. Such however is its native ferocity, that it is said to be incapable of being subdued. Its urine produces not precious stones, but like the cat, an animal which it nearly resembles, and of which it retains the manners, and even the cleanliness, it covers it over with earth. “The most beautiful skins of the Lynx are brought from Siberia, as belonging to the lupus-cervarius; and from Canada, as belonging to the felis-cer varius; because being, like all other animals of the New Continent, smaller than those of the Old World, in Europe they are compared to a wolf in size, and in Canada to a wild cat. “The Lynx has short legs, and is generally about the size of the fox. The ears are erect, and are tipped with a long pencil of black hair. The fur, which is long and thick, is of a pale gray colour, with a reddish tinge, and obscurely marked with small dusky spots on the upper parts of the body. The under parts are white. The skin of the male is more beautifully marked than that of the female. sive motion, but leaps and bounds like the cat. It gains its whole subsistence by devouring other animals; and these it will follow to the very tops of trees. Neither can the wild cat, the martin, the ermine, nor the squirrel, escape its pursuit. It also seizes birds, lies in wait for the stag, the roe-buck, and the hare, and with one bound often seizes them by the throat. When in possession of its prey, it first sucks the blood of the animal, and then lays


It does not walk or run like the wolf in a progres- open its head, in order to devour the brains.

This done, it generally abandons the victim of its fury, goes in search of fresh prey, and is seldom known to return to the former; a circumstance which has given rise to the vulgar remark, that of all animals the Lynx has the shortest memory. The skin of this animal changes its colour according to the season and the climate. In winter it is in every respect better than it is in summer; and its flesh. like the flesh of all beasts of prey, is not proper to eat.”

[ocr errors][merged small]

Neptune was the successor of Oceanus in the government of the seas. He was of the modern race of the gods, being the son of Saturn and Ops, (Rhea, Cybele, or Berecynthia,) and the brother of Jupiter and Pluto. There are different accounts of the manner in which he was preserved from the voracious jaws of his father, who was in the practice of devouring his children. Indeed, one story says that he actually devoured Neptune at his birth, but that afterwards, by virtue of a certain emetic draught administered to him, he was made to disgorge him, together with his brothers and sisters, who had shared a similar fate. Others say, that Ops concealed Neptune, and presented Saturn with a colt, as being the child which had been born ; which colt Saturn devoured, and so Neptune escaped, and was consigned to the care and instruction of certain shepherds. Jupiter, Neptune's brother, deposed their father Saturn from the government of the universe, and divided it into three portions, assigning the ocean to Neptune, the infernal regions to his brother Pluto, and retaining heaven and earth for himself. The wife of Neptune was a sea nymph by the name of Amphitrite, a daughter of Nereus. The symbol of Neptune's government was a three-tined sceptre, denominated a trident. In the cut above, he is represented as holding this sceptre, seated in a shelly chariot beside his queen, drawn by sea-horses, and attended by Tritons, whose upper parts were human, and whose lower parts resembled fish. Triton in the singular number signifies a sea-god, the son of Neptune and Amphitrite. He is denominated Neptune's horn, because he acted as his trumpeter, blowing a horn before him, as seen in the cut above mentioned. But when the term Triton is used in the plural, (Tritons,) it then merely means sea horses resembling Triton, part man and part fish. The race of horses owe to Neptune their existence. Striking the earth with his trident, a horse instantly sprang into being; whence Neptune is called Hippius and Hippodromus. When Neptune and Minerva disputed for the

honour of giving a name to Athens, the gods decided that

that one should do it who would bestow upon the citizens

the most useful gift. Neptune gave them a horse, and Minerva an olive tree. Minerva's gift being the most valued by the inhabitants, the city was ealled Athenae, after one of her names.—Neptune was the producer of the famous winged horse Pegasus; also of Arion, the noblest courser ever backed by monarch or hero.

“The productions of Neptune are for the greater part monstrous. The Aloides, who, heaping mountains upon one another, attempted to scale the heavens, and became dangerous to Jupiter himself, were his sons; and his son also was the monstrous Cyclop Polyphemus, whom Ulysses deprived of his eye. This injury, done to his beloved son by mortal hands, Neptune left not unavenged, but severely punished the daring deed of Ulysses. He rendered vain, as long as possible, all attempts made by the unfortunate traveller to regain his home; he made him endure all hardships and dangers that can befal a sea-saring man; and when, at last, by the will of fate, he must reach Ithaca, his native island, Neptune avenged himself on the innocent ship of the hospitable Phoenicians who brought him thither, transforming her on her return into a rock. Thus dangerous was it even to Minerva's favourite, to have offended the dreadful power of the resistless element, and what was related to it.

“When the Muses were entertaining themselves ‘on the Aonian mount,” with song and the lyre, in so gay and cheerful a manner that all the environs participated in their joy, and Helicon itself leaped under their feet, Neptune, falling into a passion, sent up Pegasus with the injunction to set limits to the mirth o noisy joy of those revellers. When arrived at the top of the mount, #. had nothing to do in order to bring all into its proper, quiet course, but to paw the ground; from beneath his tramp, however, that well known fountain burst forth, out of which the poets sip their inspiration, and which from the horse is called Hippocrene.”

(To be Continued.)

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The existence of a North-West Passage, or of a navigable communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans round the northern coast of America, is a question which has exercised the ingenuity of the learned for the last three centuries; and the return of our adventurous countryman, Captain Ross, from his renewed efforts to aid in its determination, has once again created a lively intererest upon the subject among all classes. Its object may be briefly explained thus.

The greater part of the land contained on the surface of our globe, is collected into two great masses; the one of which is situated in its eastern hemisphere, and is called the Old World; the other in its western hemisphere, and termed the New World. The former, which is composed of the united continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa, presents one unbroken mass of land, stretching from the Cape of Good Hope in the south, to the Arctic Sea in the north. The New W. or the continent of America, forms a similarly uninterrupted barrier, extending a nearly equal length, from the Straits of Magelhaens in the South, to a point yet undetermined in the North. The Atlantic Ocean is interposed between these two masses on one side of the globe, and the Pacific Ocean separates them on the opposite side. Previous to the close of the fifteenth century, it was not known that any communication existed between these oceans; in other words, the countries situated on the Atlantic, (including of course the principal nations of Europe,) had no maritime connexion with those washed by the Pacific, (of which the East Indies form a part.) There are at present two practicable routes by which such communication is maintained. The one is by the southern extremity of the Old World, or the Cape of Good Hope, the other, by the southern extremity of the New World, through the Straits of Magelhaens, or round Cape Horn. They may be termed respectively the South-East Passage and the South-West Passage, from the Atlantic into the Pacific. Each of these passages, however, implies the necessity of sailing to the southern end of the Atlantic, before either the eastern or the western turning into the Pacific can be reached; and as the chief maritime

nations of the world are placed much nearer to its northern end, it has occurred to them, that if they were to sail to the northern instead of the southern extremity, and then turn to the east or to the west, they would reach the Pacific much sooner; in other words, that a North-East Passage (round the northern coast of Europe and Asia,) or a North-West Passage (round the northern shores of America,) would be a much shorter route than the existing South-East or South-West Passage. But obstacles exist to the accomplishment of either of these northern passages, which do not exist in the southern routes. The northern shores of both the Old and the New World are situated in much higher latitudes than their southern limits, and are therefore subject to a much more intense degree of cold; so that while the waters that bound the latter are at all times open to the seaman, those which encircle the former are during the greater portion of the year frozen into a vast icy barrier, entirely obstructing all navigation. Another circumstance also operates to the same effect. In accomplishing either of the southern passages, the navigator has merely to round a jutting promontory in a high latitude; but in attempting either of the northern routes, he has to pass a long line of coast extending above 100° or 180° of longitude under the same frozen parallel. The question of a North-East Passage has long since ceased to excite much interest. It is certain, indeed, that a sea extends from Behring's Strait to the Spitzbergen Seas; but the passage has never yet been performed, and may be fairly assumed to be impracticable. A NorthWest Passage would be a much shorter route; but a shorter than all has been suggested, which is termed the North Polar Passage. It consists in sailing through the Spitzbergen Seas direct into the Polar Basin, or the region immediately surrounding the North Pole, and emerging at Behring's Strait; its track thus forming, as it were, the diameter of the circle presented by the northern shores ot Europe and Asia on the one side, and those of America on the other. We shall now give a brief sketch of the various attempts that have been made to effect the remaining

« PreviousContinue »