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physical nature, which disclose volcanic fires beneath fertile and flowery fields.
It is thus seen that the cruelty of our Indian is not without a parallel,-a remark that applies equally to his love of vengeance. A Scotch Highlander, wronged by an individual of another clan, for example, retaliated on the first of the same tribe that fell into his power. The feuds of the Corsican become hereditary: vengeance is taken by one family upon another, the actors in which may have been unborn at the period of the original quarrel.
As regards the intellectual faculties of our aboriginal race, Morton is of opinion that they “ are decidedly inferior to the Mongolian stock ; and as to their social condition, they are, probably, in most respects the same as at the primitive epoch of their existence." The general inaptitude of Indian character to conform to new laws and custoins, it has been shown by experience, presents, however, no insuperable barrier to their gradual civilization. The Choctaws and Cherokees, and the Creeks to a considerable extent, abandoning the venatie life, have become an agricultural people. Advancing in the useful arts, the acquisition of knowledge and property has gone hand in hand ; and in proportion as mental cultira. tion has taught them the value of salutary and uniform laws, they have become capable of enjoying the blessings of free government. The Cherokees live under written laws, one feature of which is the trial by jury. The Choctaws are rapidly advancing in civilization. In an agricultural point of view, their country resembles the new frontier of white settlements. They understand the value of money, and possess the comforts of domestic life, such as the common luxuries of tea, coffee, and sugar. They cultivate Indian corn and cotton, have large stocks of cattle, and have cotton-gins and mills of different kinds, as well as mechanical shops. In these three tribes, likewise, the rising generation have the advantage of schools, a portion of the annuity received from our government being appropriated to that purpose.*
* It has been recently stated in the Natchitoches Herald that the Choctaws, who number 17,000 souls, have raised $40,000 to build a College for the education of their youth ; and that they have a press which last year printed more than three million pages of books and pamphlets. Do these people belong to a race unsusceptible of civilization ?
That the American Aboriginal is susceptible of civilization is proved by the single fact, that three contemporary centres of civilization, each independent of the other, existed in tropical America, viz., the Mexicans in the north, the Peruvians in the south, and the Muyscas of Bogota intermediate. Nor did these three civilized states stand isolated from their barbarous neighbors; but, on the contrary, the two extremes gradually merge into each other, some nations in this gradation holding a place so completely intermediate as to render it difficult to classify them with either division. In this relation stood the Araucanians to the Peruvians; the Aztec rulers of Mexico, at the period of the Spanish invasion, to the less fierce Toltecas, whose arts they had usurped; and still later, the Natchez tribes of the Mississippi exhibited, even among many of the rudest traits of savage life, some traces of the refinement of their Mexican progenitors. To what degree of civilization the Mexicans and Peruvians would have attained, had America remained unknown to Europe, it is of course impossible to determine ; but even had Mexico and Peru undergone intellectual degradation and gradual extinction from intrinsic causes, there would not be wanting analogous events in the history of the old world. Look upon the present state of Italy and Greece, and contrast them with the people who gave glory to the age of Augustus and Pericles ! 'This state of things did in reality exist in America at the period of its discovery, as is proved by the three great groups of monumental antiquities in the United States, New Spain, and South America. Many of the ancient and cultivated nations had become extinct, or subjugated by the inroads of barbarous or semi-civilized tribes ; and even in Mexico and Peru, the civilization of earlier ages seems to have sunk into a state of decadence.
Of all parts of America, the tropical portions are best adapted for awakening the savage man to a sense of his intellectual powers. That the civilization of countries is greatly influenced by climate and physical features, is evident in the fact that the cradles or nurseries of the first nations of which we have any historical records—the people in which the intellectual faculties were first awakened froin the brutal sloth of savage lifeappear to have been extensive plains or valleys, irrigated by fertilizing streams, and blessed with a mild climate. As the means of sustenance are in such localities easily obtained, the human mind, if man in this primitive state will reflect at all, is most apt to receive that impulse which leads to the cultivation and development of his nature. It is in such regions that we discover the most ancient centres of population; as, for example, the simple habits of wandering shepherds were exchanged by the Semitic nations for the splendor and luxury of Nineveh and Babylon; and in the fertile valley watered by the Nile we also find the first foundation of cities, and the earliest establishment of political institutions; and here, too, were invented hieroglyphic literature and those arts which embellish human life. Thus has it, likewise, been in America; for the elevated lands within the tropics afford a delightful climate, the heats of summer and the rigors of winter being alike moderated ; and here the earth yields its fruits almost spontaneously. Hence it was in this region that the American Aboriginal first received the impulse of social improvement; here were laid the first foundation of cities; and here, too, as was just remarked of Egypt, was invented hieroglyphic literature.
As the most ancient cities of which we have any record, as Babylon, Nineveh, and Thebes, were founded in the midst of alluvial soils, deposited by the Euphrates, the Tigris, and the Nile, this agency would appear to have been the means employed, in the economy of nature, to prepare the world for the residence of social and civilized man. Geology would, indeed, seem to demonstrate, that the formation of soils for the support of animal and vegetable life, is one of the numerous evidences of design, by which the external world has, through successive physical revolutions, ultimately become so admirably adapted to the moral, intellectual, and physical condition of man.
From the recent extensive researches relative to American antiquities, we seem fairly warranted in the following conclusions. The first seats of civilization were in tropical America, whence it was gradually diffused north and south. In the history of the civilized tribes, two distinct epochs are observable, the first and most ancient having existed in unbroken tranquillity for a long and indeterminate period; the second being characterized by national changes brought about chiefly by the inroads of barbarous or semi-civilized tribes. The style and character peculiar to the monumental antiquities of the New World, prove that all have proceeded from branches of the same human family.
The relics and monuments found in the United States, which point for their origin toward Mexico, show that the ancient inhabitants had arrived at a considerable degree of civilization, that they were an agricultural people, lived in extensive cities, and under regular forms of government,—that they possessed a knowledge of the use of many metals, were skilled in the art of fortification, and were not unacquainted with astronomy and geometry; the last two, as well as a decided system of religion, being in the hands of the priesthood. At the period of the discovery of America, these ancient and cultivated nations had becoine extinct within the present limits of the United States, with the exception of the Natchez tribes of the Mississippi, who still retained some traces of the civilization of their Mexican progenitors. These extinct tribes were no doubt coeval, if they did not precede them, with the ancient Egyptians and Phenicians. With the ancient inhabitants of that portion of North America lying south of the United States, we are better acquainted. Unlike the latter region, in which the prior existence of civilized communities became a question of inquiry to the antiquary, the former affords the most decisive evidence of having been occupied for many ages by civilized nations. Mexico, Guatemala, and Yucatan, were found by the Spanish invaders occupied by populous nations, distributed in regularly organized states, partaking of the monarchical, aristocratical, and republican forms of government. Here were immense cities, rivalling in the magnificence of their temples and edifices those of the Old World,-a reinark equally applicable to roads, aqueducts, and other public works. It has been well said that, as regards civilization, those people were decidedly superior to the Spaniards themselves on their first intercourse with the Phenicians, or that of the Gauls when first known to the Greeks, or that of the Germans and Britons in their earliest communication with the Romans. Indeed, in the knowledge of some of the sciences, these aboriginal Americans equalled, if they did not surpass, their conquerors. They seem to have had a mental constitution adapted to scientific investigation. Their knowledge of arithmetic and astronomy was both extensive and accurate. In architecture and sculpture they had made great advances. The remains of aqueducts and canals for irrigation yet exist. They knew how to extract metals from ores; how to form images of gold and silver hollow within ; how to cut the hardest precious stones with the greatest nicety; how to dye cotton and wool, and to manufacture them into figured stuffs. Herrera, in his account of the markets at the Mexican city of Tlascala, says" There were goldsmiths, feather-men, barbers, baths, and as good earthenware as in Spain."
A description of the ancient cities and other ruins of the southern regions of North America, would of itself fill volumes. Clavigero, who has collected much important testimony upon this subject, asserts, upon the authority of Cortez, that not only were their cities numerous, but that some of them contained from thirty to sixty thousand houses ; and so populous were they in the vicinity of these towns, that“ not a foot of the soil was left uncultivated.” As regards the present appearances of these monumental remains or vestiges of ancient population, it will suffice to refer the reader to the well-known works of Stephens, illustrated by Catherwood.
The stupendous pyramids, constituting the temples of our aboriginal race, are perhaps their most extraordinary monuments. The number of these in the Mexican empire, according to the estimate of Torquemada is forty thousand; but Clavigero thinks the number was far greater. The ruins of the celebrated pyramid, sacred to Quetzalcoatl, the “God of the Air," supposed to have been the largest in all Mexico, still stand to the east of the holy city of Cholula. The area covered by its base is twice as great as that of the Egyptian pyramid of Cheops, having a length of 1423 feet, and its altitude, which is 170 feet, is ten feet greater than that of the pyramid of Mycerimus.
Notwithstanding all these ruins are completely deserted, it is noway probable that they are the relics of a people now extinct. By the Spanish conquerors, the temples were found still devoted to their original sacred uses, and the magnificent palaces were not without their princes. The finest temple of the city of Mexico was erected but a short period before the landing of Cortez; and the great“ Teocalli," we are told, was constructed after the model of the pyramids built by the Toltecs,--a people who preceded those found by the Spaniards, and to whom were ascribed by the Mexicans themselves all edifices of great antiquity. When the Europeans first arrived, it is very probable that many cities, in consequence of the revolutions to which every government is subject, had already been deserted, perhaps for centuries. It is, however, true beyond doubt that the ancestors of the present Indians occupying that region, were the authors of many of the existing antiquities indicative of a comparatively high state of civilization. In view of these facts, the relics and monuments scattered over the United States, in