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Title: Rambles in Yucatan - or, Notes of Travel Through the Peninsula, Including a - Visit to the Remarkable Ruins of Chi-Chen, Kabah, Zayi, - and Uxmal. 2nd ed
Author: Norman, Benjamin Moore
Language: English
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                           RAMBLES in YUCATAN

                [Illustration: MOON LIGHT, UXMAL RUINS.]


                           RAMBLES in YUCATAN




                   CHI-CHEN, Kahbah, ZAYI, UXMAL &c.

                         [Illustration: SISAL.]

                            BY B. M. NORMAN.

                 J. & H. G. LANGLEY, 57 CHATHAM STREET.


                          RAMBLES in YUCATAN;





                   CHI-CHEN, Kahbah, ZAYI, AND UXMAL.

                      WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS.

                            BY B. M. NORMAN.

                            SECOND EDITION.

                               NEW YORK:
                 J. & H. G. LANGLEY, 57 CHATHAM STREET.

                   NEW ORLEANS: NORMAN, STEEL, & CO.


        ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1842,
                         BY J. & H. G. LANGLEY,
 in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States, for
                         the Southern District
                              of New York.

                       13 Chambers street, N. Y.
                 R. CRAIGHEAD, PRINTER, 112 FULTON ST.




To those who intend to bestow upon the following pages the honor of a
perusal, it may seem almost supererogatory for the author to mention,
that it has formed no part of his purpose to prepare a book which should
owe its leading interest to its literary merits. His life has been
necessarily more devoted to the dissemination of books than to the study
of their internal fabrication; he has had but slender opportunities for
the cultivation of letters, and little of the preparation requisite for
a task, to the results of which he now solicits the candid consideration
of the public.

Circumstances, however, of which all that is worthy of detail will be
found in the following pages, brought under the author’s observation a
portion of our continent which was strewed with gigantic and monumental
ruins of ancient cities, and which, to the several departments of
Cosmogony, Archæology, and Ethnography, appeared in his eyes to be of
vast importance. Impressed with this conviction, although the author
left his country without the remotest intention of making a book upon
any subject whatever, or even of seeing the wonderful places he has
attempted to describe, yet, with very inadequate scientific
qualifications—without instruments, except a knife and compass, and
without a companion, save an Indian boy—entirely ignorant of the country
and its people—he was enabled to explore many objects of interest and
curiosity; and he has resolved to present the substance of his
observations and researches, in as succinct a manner as possible, that
those who are competent to avail themselves of his labors may digest and
present them to the public in such a form as will most contribute to the
advancement of true science.

It is, therefore, to the facts which it has been the author’s privilege
to witness and reveal, and not to the garniture of those facts, that he
looks, for the interest which he desires to awaken in the minds of his
readers, and upon which he relies for his own justification in having
for once trespassed _ultra crepidam_ into the charmed circle of literary
enterprise. The almost universal curiosity which has manifested itself
in every quarter through which public feeling has utterance, concerning
the vast and unexplained ruins of our hemisphere, found in Central
America and Yucatan, has not been, in modern times at least, excelled by
that upon any subject not involving some immediate and practical
interest, not even excepting the discoveries of modern antiquarians in
Egypt. It is neither the author’s duty nor purpose to analyze this
movement, or to discern its cause; it only concerns him to show that he
had good reason for presuming that further developments of, and
explorations among these mysterious relics of antiquity, could not fail
to awaken some portion of that interest which the public mind, in this
country at least, has already manifested.

A portion of the ruins which are noticed in detail in the following
pages had never been visited, to the author’s knowledge, by any modern
traveller before his arrival. Others, which had been summarily alluded
to, he has portrayed as elaborately and adequately as his circumstances
and scientific qualifications would admit; and, he has no hesitation in
saying, far more minutely than they had ever before been described. In
corroboration of these remarks, he ventures to call the reader’s
attention to the chapters which include the ruins of Chi-Chen, of
Kahbah, Zayi, and Uxmal, of which cities, the last only excepted—to
which Mr. Stephens devotes a few sentences near the conclusion of his
recent popular work upon this subject—no other published accounts, it is
believed, have appeared.

The author avails himself of the present opportunity to make those
acknowledgments to the people of Yucatan which could not be incorporated
with propriety in the body of his work. He feels himself under grateful
obligations for the uniform kindness which he received at their hands;
and he begs to assure those of his American friends who may feel
disposed to visit the province of Yucatan, that whatever inconveniences
they may experience indirectly from an unfavorable climate and an
unsettled political organization, they may count upon meeting, among the
higher ranks of the Yucatecos, a kindliness of feeling and a spontaneity
of hospitality which will compare favorably with their experience in any
other portion of the globe.

In acknowledging his obligations to the friends who have assisted him in
the preparation of these pages, he would be guilty of great injustice
did he not tender his most sincere thanks to an American gentleman, who
has long resided in Yucatan, to whom he is indebted for most of the
facts connected with the political history of that country, which are
embodied in the thirteenth chapter. The long residence of that gentleman
in the country, and his evident familiarity with its political history,
give the author reason to rely implicitly upon his acquaintance with the
subject, as well as upon his fidelity as an historian.

The author regrets that he is not permitted to give the name of the
gentleman to whose aid he is indebted for the philological remarks
contained in the fourteenth chapter, which he ventures to believe will
prove to the scholar and the antiquarian not the least interesting
feature of the work.

It has been the author’s intention upon all occasions to acknowledge his
indebtedness to any preceding or cotemporary writer in appropriate modes
and places in the text, and he believes that he has seldom failed in his
aim; at the same time, he feels that to Waldeck, a distinguished French
traveller, who spent a number of years in Central America and Yucatan,
his obligations are of a character not to be passed over without a
special acknowledgment.

The illness of the writer during the time the following pages were
passing through the press, must constitute his apology, should
inaccuracies be found to disfigure the work.

The Map is intended to show the geographical position of the ruins, and
of the towns passed through before arriving at them; and the Plans to
define the relative locations of the structures, neither of them,
however, is laid out with scientific exactness; it is hoped,
nevertheless, they will still be found sufficiently correct to
illustrate the descriptions.

If the public shall find the work now submitted to them possessed of
sufficient merit to deserve their regard, or if others shall be induced,
by reading it, to extend their researches in a similar direction, or
shall, through its aid, eliminate one new ray of light to illumine the
dark mystery of its subject, the author will feel amply compensated for
the trouble he has taken, and will think himself entitled to indulge the
assurance that his life has not been altogether without profit.

NEW ORLEANS, November, 1842.



        CHAP.                                              PAGE

           I. Setting Out—Accommodations—Arrival at          13
                Sisal—Geographical and Political view
                of Yucatan—A Christening—Lady
                Smokers—Off for the Interior—Merida—A
                Feast-day—Christmas Eve—Christmas
                Day—Conclusion of a Feast—Holy
                Unction—Indian Character—Soldiers’
                Return—Holy Days—Gaming

           II Description of Merida, Geographical and        34
                Historical—The City—Public Squares—The
                Market—Trade—Habits and
                Customs—Health—The Public Buildings—A
                way to get a Husband—New Year Eve—New
                Year Day—The City and Environs—A Touch
                of Music—A Country Seat—Congress of
                Yucatan—Franciscan Ruins—More
                Holy-days—Cock-fighting—A Drill—The
                Bishop at Home—The College—Miracles

          III Mechanical Pursuits—The Circulating            53
                Medium—A Ball—A Remnant of
                Franciscans—Signs of Decay in the
                Suburbs—The Cemetery—The Weather—A
                Whole Congregation Flogged—The Wise
                Men—The Gentlemen—Extra Civilities—The
                Appearances of Trade—Products of the
                Soil—Education—Language of the
                Indians—The Ancient People—Waldeck’s
                Opinion of them—The Maya Language—The
                Lord’s Prayer in Maya—Grammars of that
                Dialect—Difficulties in Speaking
                it—Traits of the Indian Character

           IV Preparations for the Interior—Outfit,          73
                &c.—The Indian Boy—Departure from
                Merida—Arrival at Tixcoco—Calcachen—A
                Feast-day—Isamal at a distance—Arrival
                there—Our Palace—A Procession—Ancient
                Mounds—The Church—A striking
                Indian—Wrong Impressions—Tuncax—A
                Dilemma—Philosophy of the Road-side—A
                Dinner—Visit to a Curate—A Touch of
                Comfort—Mail Carrier—Sitax—An Indian
                Alcalde—Tinum—An Allusion—Valladolid—A
                Mistake rectified in time

            V Festival of the Purification—A Factory         91
                discovered—New Quarters—Appearance of
                Public Buildings—Church—Singular
                Display of Taste—Population and
                Health—The Town—Its Suburbs—Monastic
                Ruins—Remarkable Sonato—Amusements—The
                Riband Dance—The Market
                Ruins—Difficulties of Strangers—A
                Norther—Kaua—The Churlish Curate—End
                of a Feast—The Route—Approach to
                Chi-Chen—A Glimpse of the Ruins

           VI A Visit to the Ruins—Reflections—Indian       108
                Visiters—Detail of the Ruins of
                Chi-Chen—The Temple—The Pyramid—The
                Dome—The House of the Caciques—General
                of the Ruins—Materials and Manner of
                Building—The Finish—Fresco Paintings

          VII An Arrival—Unexpected Honors—Usurpation       129
                of Office—Prices of Labor—Indian way
                of Living—A Sonato—An
                Incident—Departure—Yacaba—Sonato at
                Tabi—Arrival at Sotuta—“Las Ruinas”—A
                Physician—Successful Practice—The
                Reward of Merit—Route to Teabo—Its
                Curate—Mani—Arrival at
                Ticul—Description of Ticul—The
                Estates—Ruins of
                Ichmul—Departure—Cross the Cordilleras

         VIII The Ruins of Kahbah—Those of                  148
                Zayi—Scattered Ruins—Church at
                Nohcacab—The Padre—The Town—Departure
                for Uxmal—Arrival at the
                Hacienda—Quarters and Arrangements—The
                Scenery—General Character of the Ruins
                of Uxmal—The Governor’s House—The
                Nuns’ House—The Pyramid—Other
                Remains—Pyramids, Walls, and

           IX Introductory Facts—Ruins of Yucatan and       168
                other parts of Mexico—Ruins of North
                America—Mississippi and
                Missouri—Look-Out Mountain—Ohio
                River—Mount Joliet and others—Indian
                Morton—Diversity of Opinions—Pyramids
                Siamese—Japanese—Astronomy and

            X Waldeck’s Remarks on Uxmal—Ancient            183
                Tools—Soil and Health—Ancient
                Customs—End of Time—The Coronation of
                an Emperor—Religious Beliefs—Marriage
                Ceremony—Infant Baptism—Origin of
                those Rites—Horse
                for Matrimony—Their Worship

           XI Departure from Uxmal—Abala—The Road—The       199
                Curate’s Hacienda—Arrival at
                Merida—Hotel de Diligencias—Bishop
                Preaching—Strange Scenes—Parting with
                José—Departure from Merida—Coach and
                Passengers—Scenes of the
                at Campeachy

          XII Reception at Campeachy—The City—Public        209
                Buildings—The Convent—The
                Market—Charity—An Ancient
                College—Foundations of the
                City—Subterraneous Caverns—The
                Suburbs—The Harbor—Climate and
                Health—Various Ruins—The Author’s
                Collection of Idols—Dr. Morton on the
                Archæology of Yucatan—Other
                Ruins—Reptiles and Insects—A Concealed
                Nation—The Brothers Camachos

         XIII Political History of Yucatan—The              224
                Rochelanos—A Civil Revolution—A
                Tumultuary Movement in the
                Interior—Santiago Iman—Attack on
                Espita—Retreat to San Fernando—Quiet
                Restored for a Time—Colonel
                Roqueña—Attack on Tizimin—Return of
                the Troops—Attack on
                Valladolid—Capitulation—Succession of
                Events—A New Constitution—The New
                Congress—New Party—Opinions—Physical
                Incapacity for Independence—The Press
                of Yucatan

          XIV Remarks on American Languages in              236
                general—Conflicting Opinions of
                Philologists—Religious Zeal a Stimulus
                that has produced the Grammars and
                Vocabularies of the American
                Languages—Sketch of the Grammar of the
                Maya Tongue—Concluding Observations
                respecting its Origin



         A Brief Maya Vocabulary                            303

         Numbers, 1 to 100                                  311

         Tradition of the Mexican Natives respecting        313
         their Migration from the North

         Traits of the Mosaic History found among the       317
         Azteca Nations

         Origin of Fire-Worship                             327

         Great Stone Calendar of the Mexicans               329

         Scientific Acquirements of Ancient Builders        333
         in the West

         Predilection of the Ancients to Pyramids           336

         The Remains of Cities                              339

         Ruins of the City of Otolum, discovered in         340
         North America

         Ancient Languages of the First Inhabitants of      349

         Historical Sketch of Mexico                        354

         FOOTNOTES.                                         363


                        LIST OF EMBELLISHMENTS.

      MAP                                           12
      Moonlight—Uxmal Ruins                         FRONTISPIECE
      Vignette                                      Title-page
      Indians of Yucatan                            30
      The Plantain Tree                             33
      Yucateco Indian’s House                       72
      The Road-side                                 90
      Sonato near Valladolid                        98
      PLAN OF THE RUINS OF CHI-CHEN                 108
      Indian knife and sheath                       111
      Ornaments of Buildings                        112
      The Temple                                    112
      The Pyramid                                   115
      The Dome                                      118
      The Front of the House of the Caciques        119
      The House of the Caciques                     120
      Ornaments of Buildings                        121
      The Agave Americana                           128
      Zayi Ruins                                    150
      PLAN OF THE RUINS OF UXMAL                    155
      Façade of the Governor’s House                156
      Ornaments of Building                         157, 158
      The Governor’s House                          158
      The Nuns’ House                               160
      Ornaments                                     159, 159, 162
      The Pyramid                                   162
      The Pigeon Houses                             165
      Yucatan Coach Crossing the Mountains          199
      Campeachy                                     209
      Plate No. I.—Idols                            216
      Plate No. II.—Four Idols                      216
      Plate No. III.—Four Idols                     216
      Plate No. IV.—Fragments of Idols or Ornaments 216
      Plate No. V.—Vessels                          216
      Plate No. VI.—Turtle and Household Utensils   216
      Vignettes, &c., &c.


[Illustration: Map of Yucatan Mexico]


                          RAMBLES IN YUCATAN.

                               CHAPTER I.

Setting Out—Accommodations—Arrival at Sisal—Geographical and Political
  view of Yucatan—A Christening—Lady Smokers—Off for the
  Interior—Merida—A Feast-day—Christmas Eve—Christmas Day—Conclusion of
  a Feast—Holy Unction—Indian Character—Soldiers’ Return—Holy

The prospect of leaving one’s country for a season, affects different
people in very different ways. To some, it suggests only the loss of
friends, and the want of the conveniences which habit may have made to
them the necessaries of life. By their formidable equipments, their
groaning trunks, and systematic leave-takings, they intimate a foregone
conclusion, that every nation except their own is peopled with
Ishmaelites, whose hands are ever raised against the rest of mankind.
There is another class, who have faith in man wherever he exists, and
who rely upon the permanence of the laws of Nature; who do not imagine
that a man is necessarily a cannibal or a troglodyte because born in a
different degree of latitude, nor that water will refuse to run down
hill at a foreigner’s request. Through their confidence in the
uniformity of Nature’s laws, they feel it unnecessary to equip
themselves for a campaign into chaos when they leave their native land,
always presuming every corner of this planet, however remote from the
illuminating centres of civilization, to be possessed of some of the
elements of existence, such as air, fire, water, &c., which a traveller
may spare himself the trouble of bringing from home in his trunk. With
the latter class, kind reader, the author of the following notes
deserves to be associated. He would require nothing but a valise to
contain his outfit for a circumnavigation of the globe, and would
include the moon in his circuit, if practicable, without materially
enlarging his equipage, except, perhaps, by some device that would
diminish the inconveniences of a rarefied atmosphere. This faith in the
future, this trust in the resources which a mind of ordinary
intelligence can always command under any sun and in any clime,
sustained the writer in his determination, last fall, to visit some of
the islands of the West India seas, almost without notice, and with
scarcely more preparation than a domestic man would deem essential for
an absence from home of a single week. The cork-legged merchant of
Rotterdam did not commence his journeyings more unexpectedly to himself,
nor less formidably panoplied against the emergencies of his unfortunate
tour. To the writer’s unpreparedness, a term which, in such cases,
usually signifies freedom from anxiety, he feels indebted for most of
the pleasure which this excursion has afforded him; and he has only
cause to regret the want of more elaborate preparation, inasmuch as it
may have deprived these pages of a portion of their interest and value.

It was at the conclusion of the long and frightful season of epidemic
disease, which caused many a desolated home in New Orleans to be hung
with cypress during the summer of the year 1841, and on the 26th day of
November, that I embarked from the Crescent city for Havana. My original
intention had been, to visit the Windward Islands; but, not finding the
facilities of intercommunication which I had anticipated, and excited by
the curiosity of seeing a region of country of which but little is known
to citizens of the United States, I was induced to change my
contemplated route. Accordingly, after a detention of ten days in Cuba,
where I had passed some of the happiest days of my youth, I resolved to
embrace the first opportunity that presented itself to run down to the
coast of Mexico. I was soon enabled to secure a passage on board of a
Spanish brig bound to Sisal, of which I was prompt to avail myself.

Early on the morning of the 9th of December, we slipped by the Moro
Castle with a fine breeze, and had but just effected a good offing when
the vessel was suddenly hove to, much to our surprise and alarm, and
without any apparent reason. Our alarms were soon dispelled, however, by
the welcome intelligence, through the cabin-boy, that “breakfast was
ready!” Our own countrymen are not indifferent to the “family comforts,”
and the English relish still less any interruption at their meals; but
with the Spaniard eating seems to have risen to the importance of a
religious ceremony. Heaving to for breakfast, in a Yankee craft, would
be looked at with astonishment by an American tar—we question if it
would not cancel the ship’s insurance policy. Every country, however,
has its customs, and this is one peculiar to the flag under which we
were now sailing. The meal happily ended, the yards were squared away,
and the brig quietly pursued her course.

The cabin formed a part of the hold, without berths, bulk-heads, tables,
or chairs. Planks were laid down for our accommodation, upon which our
mattresses were distributed, the cargo forming sides, which, as the
vessel rolled, served to retain us in our places. There were eight
Mexican fellow-passengers, perfect out-and-outers in the way of eating,
sleeping, and smoking, which they seemed to consider the ends for which
they lived and moved and had their being. The captain proved to be a
right good sailor, and his vessel, which was dignified by the name of a
packet, shall be suffered to pass without censure, as deserving a better
fate than awaited Sodom, in having at least one good man on board in the
person of her excellent commander. After eleven days of continually
pleasant weather we arrived in sight of the port of Sisal, on the
north-west coast of Yucatan, on the 20th of the month; and, as the bills
of lading might conscientiously have testified, “in good order and

This coast presents a line of shore scarcely merging from the ocean,
with no distinguishing highland to conduct the mariner to his destined
port. The unpretending little town to which our course was directed, at
this time, however, very innocently on its own part, loomed up from the
horizon to an immense height, and it was not until we had approached
very near the land that our false impressions were corrected.

We came to anchor about two miles from the shore, that being as near as
it was deemed prudent for vessels of our burden to venture. A felucca,
manned by three Indians, now boarded us, for the purpose of receiving
the passengers. The place of landing was a long pier-head, loosely put
together, composed of spiles and plank, the only one in the harbor where
the imports and exports are received and shipped. When once fairly on
terra firma, we all started under the escort of our worthy captain for a
public house, followed by a retinue of Indians, that gave us for a time
at least the consequential appearance of Eastern nabobs. This numerous
troop belonged professionally to the class which in our Northern cities
besiege the wharves upon the arrival of a steamboat, as hackmen,
porters, dock loafers, &c., but in justice to the Indians be it
observed, that they are much less clamorous and more civil than their
more pretentious brethren of the North.

Early on the morning of our arrival, our baggage was sent to the
custom-house; but the politeness of the gentlemen attached to that
establishment made the examination a matter of mere form. This civility
is acknowledged with the greater pleasure, in consequence of its having
been accorded without solicitation, and contrary to our expectation.

With the permission of my reader I will here step aside, for one moment,
from the detail of my ramblings, to say a single word about the
geographical and political condition of the country in which I now found
myself a denizen, pledging myself, however, to detain the narrative upon
nothing which will not be pertinent to and explanatory of the subsequent

The peninsula of Yucatan extends over a surface of some eighty thousand
square miles, lying in a north-east direction from Laguna de Términos,
and jutting out north into the Gulf of Mexico, between the Bay of
Campeachy and Honduras. It is about five hundred miles long, and one
hundred and sixty broad, and is divided into five departments, eighteen
districts, and containing two hundred and thirty-six towns. It is
inhabited by something short of half a million of people, the majority
of whom are Indians.

The country is almost one entire plain, half of which, to the north,
consists of a light soil formed upon solid and broken masses of a white
lime and flint rock. The other, the southern half, is a deep rich loam,
but much affected by the heavy rains of summer, which present serious
obstructions to the exertions of the agriculturist. There are no rivers
in the interior. The inhabitants are supplied with water from sonatos,
or natural wells, which are liberally distributed throughout the country
by the formation of supposed subterraneous rivers.

Yucatan was formerly a part of the Mexican confederacy, but having
recently declared her independence, she has her own President and
Congress of legislators, elected by a limited class of qualified
electors. Various attempts have been made, by menaces and by offers of
negotiation on the part of the Mexicans, to reduce the refractory
provincials to their allegiance, but hitherto without success. The
deficiency of means, and the distracted condition of the Confederacy at
home, have doubtless prevented the Mexicans from qualifying their
diplomacy with physical force, which is probably the only kind of logic
that will be conclusive.

Sisal, the place (as I have already mentioned) at which I disembarked,
is situated upon the north-west side of the peninsula of Yucatan, and is
the second port of the province. It presents an open roadstead, which,
during the prevalence of the northerly winds, is considered very
dangerous. The continuance of these storms frequently compels vessels to
get under way and stand out to sea. The town has little of interest to
strangers. Its population is about one thousand, consisting principally
of Indians, and the residue are Mexicans. The houses are built of stone,
are one story high, covering a large space of ground, with a court in
the centre, embellished with trees and plants of the tropics. The roofs
of the dwellings being thatched, give to the streets a somewhat singular
aspect to strangers. The rooms of these buildings are large and airy,
and their floors are formed of mortar and sand. Glass is not used; but
large openings are formed, protected by gratings and doors, which admit
the necessary supply of light and air.

Near the beach is a small square fortification, rudely constructed and
oddly enough garrisoned, if one may judge from the appearance of the
soldiers upon guard. The Indians, who exclusively perform the menial
services required throughout the country, seem to be happy and
contented. Their wants are few and simple. The men wear loose white
cotton trousers, extending a little below the knee, with a shirt of the
same, or striped gingham, a palm-leaf hat and sandals. The women wear a
simple loose dress hanging from the shoulders, loose about the neck, and
falling negligently to the ankles. These garments are more or less
ornamented with needle-work, according to the taste or the means of the

Although so near home, this scene was so entirely new to me, that I was
exceedingly anxious to get a glimpse of the surrounding country.
Unsuccessful, however, in finding an immediate conveyance to Merida, the
capital of the province, we loitered about the town during the day, but
could not discover any very especial signs of business. Every thing
appeared to be dull and inanimate.

In the evening we were invited, through the politeness of the Collector
of the Port, to attend the baptismal ceremony of his infant. The priest
was early at his post, and the whole population of Indians was soon
collected about the dwelling, and preparations were made for a grand
procession to the church, where the child was to be baptized. Every
thing being in readiness, the whole mass started, led off by half-breed
Indians and boys, making all kinds of discordant sounds, with drums,
horns, and whistles; then the priest and the parents, with the child
dressed out with flowers and ribands, and gold and silver ornaments;
after these came the relations and friends, followed by the multitude.
When they had arrived at the church, the performances were conducted in
the usual Catholic style. The child appeared to be the only one who had
any cause of complaint. The rough hands of the priest, and the continual
pouring of cold water upon its delicate head, fully justified its
boisterous protestations against such harsh treatment. Its restoration
to the arms of its mother seemed to give great satisfaction to all
parties present, except perhaps to the deaf and the blind.

The company now returned to the house. On the route, small pieces of
silver coin were distributed among the Indians. The evening was spent,
as is the custom on such occasions, in the greatest hilarity; and none
appeared to enjoy it with a better relish than the priest. Dancing was
kept up till nine o’clock, when supper was announced. The ladies being
seated, a place was assigned to me by the side of the divine, to whom I
had previously been introduced. This secured to me a seat in the
vicinity of the choicest wit as well as wine, that was in circulation;
for, after paying his respects once or twice to the wine that was before
him, his good humor and sociability soon convinced me that he would not
willingly become the victim of too rigid fastings and carnal

Supper being over, dancing was resumed. Those ladies and gentlemen who
were not upon the floor, were smoking. The ladies here are general
smokers; and do it, too, with a grace which, to a smoker, is a study. At
first, it appeared rather strange to receive, from the delicate fingers
of a female, a lighted cigar, yet fresh with the flavor which her own
lips had imparted to it; but, with such tuition, we were quickly
qualified to assume the customs of the country, and we now flatter
ourselves that we can go through all that delicate etiquette with as
much ease as though we were “to the manner born.” The ladies were
dressed in the Spanish style, and appeared quite charming; they chiefly
require animation. Their complexion is rather brunette, their hair dark,
eyes black; and, generally, they are of a low stature.

We withdrew from the party at an early hour, after presenting our
sincere congratulations to the mother of the “orator of the day,” and
bidding adieu to the hospitable family. Once more in the street, we were
lost in meditation. The incidents of the day came into review before
us—the first day that we had passed here among strangers in a strange
land. We found ourselves absolutely regretting to part from friends of
an hour’s creation. He who has wandered much in the world may have
experienced similar sensations. These are some of the transitory
passages, “the sunny spots” of life, which memory most dearly cherishes.
They are snatched, as it were, from the dull round of existence, and are
sanctified by the unexpected gratification that attends them. These are
a part of the items that constitute what man calls happiness—the jewels,
no doubt; and we shall make them lawful prize wherever and whenever they
fall in our way. These reflections brought us to our lodgings, where
preparations were yet to be made for our departure for Merida the next
morning; and, in spite of old philosophy or new acquaintance,

                  “The hour approaches, Tam maun ride.”

At nine o’clock in the morning my conveyance was ready at the door. It
was a rude vehicle, called here a _calesa_, somewhat resembling the
old-fashioned New England chaise, but as heavy and uncouth as wood and
trappings could make it. The machine was drawn by three mules abreast,
attached to it by plaited ropes. All the preparations having been
completed, we started under whip and spur, Jehu-like, rattling over the
rocks, to the no small hazard of bones and baggage. Fortunately, this
speed did not continue long. The road, for two miles, was overflowed;
and the Indian guide was necessarily compelled to direct his team with a
greater degree of circumspection.

The road, for the first sixteen miles, was over a low marshy country,
partially Macadamized, and raised in the form of a causeway; rather
rough, but smooth compared with very many of our own, even in the State
of New York. The sides were filled in with brush-wood as far as
Hunucuma, about sixteen miles from Sisal. We stopped here, at noon, two
hours, to give our faithful mules an opportunity to refresh, after a
sultry morning’s travel. This pleasant village stands about half way
between Sisal and Merida, and is surrounded by beautiful shrubbery. From
this town, which possesses little interest to the foreign tourist, the
open country appears to advantage; but it is not under a high state of
cultivation. The road hence to Merida is finished in a style that would
have done credit to the imperial enterprise of Hadrian. We passed
through several small villages, occupied principally by the huts of the
Indians, and, at five o’clock in the afternoon of the 22d instant,
arrived at the metropolis, thirty-six miles distance from the place of
landing, and drove up to the door of the amiable Doña Michaelé, who
keeps the only public house in the city—not for her own personal
advantage, as she informs her guests, but solely for their
accommodation. Blessings on her kind heart, although her professions of
philanthropy “something smacked, something grew too,” yet we believed
every word of them, and made ourselves perfectly at home in the shortest
possible time.

The residence of this lady stands in about the centre of the city,
occupying a large space of ground, is one story high, with ranges of
rooms and stables, forming a square, which is filled with fruit-trees of
the tropics. The rooms are spacious and airy: they have large doors, and
balconied windows, grated, but without glass. The floors are laid with
stone, set in mortar. Of the Doña and her table, I may be permitted to
say, that when I paid my bill I felt that I had cancelled all the
obligations which her bounty had imposed upon me. Chocolate, with
“panadulza,” a sweet bread made by the nuns, is served early in the
morning, according to the general custom of the country; breakfast is
ready at nine o’clock, made up of Spanish American dishes, composed of
strips of meat, eggs, tortillas, and frejoles, (that is, corncake and
black beans,) with coffee and wine. Her guests consisted of two
Americans besides myself, who came here to trade, and remained, not to
pray, but to be preyed upon by the most dismal prospects—three Mexican
officers, who were exiled by Santa Ana; and three Spanish Jews, who were
from Havana, with merchandise. Dinner was served at three o’clock. The
Doña undoubtedly gave her boarders the best the market afforded, for she
certainly exerted herself to render them satisfied with their fare. It
would be absurd to enumerate dishes, and to object to the style of
cooking because it did not happen to be in accordance with my own
preferences or habits. Among the Mexicans of our company, however, it
may not be improper to remark, that etiquette in the disposition of
their food was but little observed; and knives and forks were
unceremoniously thrown aside for the more primitive utensils with which
nature had provided them.

The 23d of December was the festival of St. Christoval. It was made,
like all the saints’ days in Catholic countries, a gala-day. Measures
were taken accordingly, a week previous, to give to this festival its
full effect. In front of the church is a large square, around the sides
of which were placed poles and staging, forming an amphitheatre, adorned
with rude paintings of various animals, and dressed off with flags and
evergreens; the area of which was to be the scene of a modern
_bull-fight_. The morning was ushered in by the firing of guns and
squibs. The stores were closed, churches opened, bells ringing, and the
population was literally emptied into the streets. At twelve o’clock
signal rockets were fired, and the gates of the amphitheatre, which
appeared to be the principal point of attraction, were thrown open, and
a bull was led in by four Indians. Indians, mounted on horses, attacked
him with spears, whilst others goaded him almost to madness with barbed
sticks. A great noise was made with drums and horns, and by the
acclamations of the audience, composed of ladies and gentlemen of Merida
and its vicinity. The major part, however, of the assembly was composed
of Indians. This portion of the festival was continued during the day;
at the close of which the amphitheatre was deserted, and the neighboring
houses were filled with people, abandoning themselves to the excitements
of every variety of games, and to the dance.

This was the first bull-bait I had ever witnessed, and the impression it
left upon me I shall never forget. These spectacles, however, have been
so often and so graphically described by others, that it would be almost
presumption in me to attempt a description of the scene, or an analysis
of my own feelings. The performance disgusted me to a degree, and has
struck me as one of the most extraordinary psychological phenomena in
nature, that any body of human beings could be found to whom such
exhibitions should be, as they are to the Spanish, sources of the
deepest interest and excitement.

To-day I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of several
gentlemen of the place, who gave me a most cordial reception; among whom
was the President of Yucatan. He is a successful merchant, a plain,
unassuming, practical man; apparently, however, not much versed in
political intrigues. The people have recently declared themselves
independent of Mexico, and the government is now about sending
commissioners to the capital of that republic to treat with Santa Ana,
offering again to return to the Mexican Confederacy upon certain
conditions; which, if acceded to, will give to this province most
decided advantages, besides being still under the protection of the

Christmas eve we passed upon the Alameda, the public promenade of the
city. The occasion brought together the great mass of the population.
The ladies were prettily dressed, with veils tastefully thrown over
their heads; and a beautiful moonlight evening was rendered still more
charming by their smiles. The great majority were Indians. Their white,
loose, cotton dress, bordered with colored needlework, with the janty
veil, carelessly worn, gives them an airy appearance, and embellishes
features that are naturally pleasant and mild. There probably were six
thousand Indians in this collection, mingling with the multitude,
without any apparent distinction of rank or race, quietly indulging
themselves in their walks. No loud talking or noisy merriment could be
heard. Everything appeared to be conducted in a spirit of harmony and
kind feeling. The temperance pledge was alike unnecessary and unknown.

At twelve o’clock (midnight) the crowd dispersed; a portion of them to
the cathedral, to attend the performance of high mass. An immense crowd
was assembled in this place. The aisles, domes, and fretted work of the
windows were illuminated. The sound of music and the voice of the priest
only were heard—all else was silence. The multitude knelt. It was an
imposing sight—the dark ages were forgotten; and the prejudices of a
thousand years were subdued in a moment. At two o’clock I left the
cathedral and returned to my lodgings, with more liberal feelings, and a
better man.

Christmas, as a holy-day, is strictly observed by the general suspension
of business, and service is performed at all the churches, as in most
other Catholic countries. The only exception to this uniformity perhaps
consists in the devotional ceremonies usually offered to a cross affixed
to the walls of the Bishop’s palace, which rites concluded the religious
offices of the day. These services were performed by the Indians—and
give but too painful evidence of the influence of their priesthood.

The next day was Sunday, and concluded the feast of St. Christoval. The
churches were crowded, as is usual, during the morning; but the majority
of the multitude that attended the service consisted of females, mostly
Indian. In the afternoon we proceeded towards the church of St.
Christoval, for the purpose of witnessing the closing scene of a
festival which is finished by a procession. Before reaching our
destination, however, we met it, and took a position in a door-way, the
better to observe it and be out of the crowd. It was headed by eight or
ten Indians, with long brass and tin horns, making the most discordant
sounds imaginable. Then followed Indian boys, drumming on hollow pieces
of wood, squalid and dirty in their appearance, and who were the only
ones of a like character that presented themselves to view among the
immense multitude. Next came the priests, chanting for the saints, and
waving the burning incense, followed by drums and fifes in advance of a
large image of the Virgin, decked in various colors, interspersed with
tinsel ornaments, surmounted with glass vases, in which a lighted candle
or a bouquet of flowers was alternately placed. This imposing display
was borne upon the shoulders of eight Indians, surrounded by priests.
The rear was brought up by a company of soldiers with fixed bayonets;
the whole surrounded by an immense crowd, filling up the streets for a
great distance. All were uncovered, and many knelt during the haltings
of the procession, which were purposely frequent, so as to enable the
people to salute the image. This grand display occupied about three
hours, the procession passing through the principal streets and back to
the church, where it was dismissed. The whole dispersed with the utmost
quietness; some to their homes, and others to places of gaming and

In returning to our lodgings we met a calesa, preceded by two Indians
with lanterns, tinkling small bells, followed by four Indian soldiers,
armed with muskets. The carriage contained a priest, who was going to
administer holy unction. The people, as is the universal custom here,
knelt as he passed. To obviate a similar necessity, we retreated into
the nearest house; thereby escaping a charge of heresy, and the
unpleasantness of coming in contact with muddy streets.

A stranger, on his first arrival in this country, is at a loss where to
place the Indian in the scale of social life. He sees him clean and well
dressed, mingling with the whites, and without distinction. To have
Indian blood is no reproach, and family groups, in many cases, show this
most palpably. It is not unusual to hear mothers threaten to send their
children home to their respective fathers, whenever their rudeness
requires chiding. The Indian, however, performs the menial labor of the
country—and there is an appearance of apathy in his looks and actions,
which seems to carry with it the signs of a broken, or at least a
subdued spirit—resting upon him like a melancholy vision, a dreamy
remembrance, of better days. For, say what we please of him, he is the
humble descendant of a once great and powerful people—the “children of
the sun,” who were lords of that soil on which their offspring are now
held in humiliating vassalage.

We were roused early this morning by the tramp of horses. It was a body
of cavalry returning from a neighboring town, where they had been
ordered for the purpose of quelling an _émeute_. They were headed by a
small bloody-looking Mexican, with a pair of mustachios that the
proudest Castilian might have envied. He was dressed in a blue
roundabout, loose white trousers, and a glazed Mexican hat. His
followers were mounted upon mules of the most jaded appearance, saddled
and caparisoned with manilla matting and ropes. Each wore a shirt,
trousers, and straw hat; and was bare-footed, except a pair of huge
spurs, which embellished the otherwise naked heel of each rider. Their
usual arms were the broadsword and pistols, but this squadron was not
well equipped; and the common bayonet, with them, was frequently
compelled to do duty for one or both of the other weapons. After so
particular a description of these soldiers, it is a matter of extreme
regret that the result of the expedition cannot be minutely stated. I
feel entitled, however, to indulge a little pride in making the
announcement, that they did return crowned with wreaths of victory.

    [Illustration: INDIANS OF YUCATAN.]

This season of the year is the high noon of the holy-days, which
engrosses the best part of the year, and which formerly included
two-thirds of it. Their number, some time since, was reduced by a bull
from the Pope. The people testify their respect for these festival days
(for such they are denominated) by processions and such amusements as
are suited to their taste. Notwithstanding the acknowledged debasing
effects of their sports and pastimes, which wholly consist of
bull-baiting, cock-fighting, and gambling, they are not disgraced by any
riotousness or drunkenness. It is a singular fact, that, although the
degrading habit of gambling is general among all classes of society,
male and female, drunkenness and its concomitant vices are unknown. The
priests give countenance to these recreations, if they may be so called,
both by their presence and participation. It is but due to the Yucatecos
to say, that during my residence in their province, I never observed any
cheating or quarrelling at the gaming table, nor have I observed others
tempted by improper means to participate in the hazard of the gaming
table, after the manner of people at the North. Gambling seems to be a
passion peculiar to the Mexican’s character, which he indulges from
motives quite independent of mercenary considerations. They usually
gamble with cards; but of the skill or even the names of their games, I
must plead an utter ignorance. Their interest would sometimes become
perfectly intense, as every lineament of their countenances abundantly
testified. Hope, fear, satisfaction, and disappointment followed each
other in quick succession over their faces, while the portly priest and
the flippant señora, who stood near, with their bets vibrating with the
chances of the game, seemed scarcely less interested in the result than
the more immediate parties. Had a spell of enchantment been laid upon
the whole group, they could not have been more completely at the mercy
of the uncontrollable hazards of their game. All moral accountability
seemed to disappear before its irresistible fascinations.

    [Illustration: THE PLANTAIN TREE.]


                              CHAPTER II.

Description of Merida, Geographical and Historical—The City—Public
  Squares—The Market—Trade—Habits and Customs—Health—The Public
  Buildings—A way to get a Husband—New Year Eve—New Year Day—The City
  and Environs—A Touch of Music—A Country Seat—Congress of
  Yucatan—Franciscan Ruins—More Holy-days—Cock-fighting—A Drill—The
  Bishop at Home—The College—Miracles.

Merida, the capital of Yucatan, is situated about the twenty-first
degree of north latitude, and is elevated some twenty-five feet above
the level of the sea. The thermometer ranges at about eighty of
Fahrenheit, and the maximum length of the days is nearly thirteen hours.
The city was built upon the ruins of an Indian town, which was destroyed
by the Spaniards in their superstitious zeal, so madly manifested in the
destruction of every thing throughout Mexico that was found belonging to
the people whom they had conquered. The present population is calculated
at twenty thousand, the majority of whom are Indians and half-breeds.

The city was founded in 1542. From the few scattered facts which have
been handed down to us by history, we gather that, prior to the Spanish
conquest, there existed in Yucatan a people of an origin remote and
unknown, who were under the subjection of rulers, with fixed principles
of law and order; had passed through the ordinary vicissitudes of
nations, and finished their career by losing, at once, their liberty and
their dominions. The triumphant forces of the Spaniards having obtained
full possession of the country, the Church came in to execute its part;
and their language, manners, customs, and religion, were disseminated by
the steady and persevering arm of Catholic power and management. To
complete the work, every thing that had a tendency to remind the
vanquished of the past was obliterated, in accordance with the
grovelling policy or the blind fanaticism that marked the times. Ancient
pictorial and hieroglyphical manuscripts were burnt; their idols,
images, and planispheres, were destroyed, and their temples and cities
were razed to the ground. It is melancholy to reflect that a chasm has
thus been made in the early history of the country, which the historian
must despair of ever seeing filled up.

Merida, since it was rebuilt, has not rendered itself in anywise
historical. Its remote and isolated position has prevented its
participation, to any extent, in the political struggles which have
marked the history of the city of Mexico; and the inhabitants appear to
have availed themselves of their peace and political composure by a
cultivation of letters, and general mental cultivation, to an extent
certainly unsurpassed in any province of Mexico.

The streets of Merida are of a good width, laid out at right angles. The
side-walks are four feet wide, paved with rough stone. The houses are
quite uniform in their appearance, and are built of stone. The
mason-work is creditable. The roofs of their houses are flat, and their
exteriors finished in stucco; some of which are painted in the Moorish
style, with balconied windows, ornamented, and presenting rather a
pretty appearance. The middle of the street is the lowest, forming a
passage to carry off the water. During ordinary rains, small rivers,
comparatively speaking, form themselves; flooding the streets to the
edge of the walks, and rendering them impassable for hours after the
rain has ceased, without great exposure. Candles are used for lighting
the city; but, of course, for that purpose, are almost useless.

This place contains a number of fine squares, the principal of which is
in the centre of the city. It is bounded by the cathedral, bishop’s
palace, government house, and dwellings occupied by the citizens. In the
middle of this square is a _waterless fountain_. No attention is paid to
this place, which might justly be compared, from its deserted aspect, to
the “Neutral Ground” in New Orleans; and, like that, it is susceptible
of being rendered a most beautiful promenade. On the side of this square
is the dwelling of Simon Peon, Esq. The front is ornamented with a relic
of the times prior to the conquest. It is a huge door-way, elaborately
carved in figures and lines. The city is indebted to this gentleman for
this display of his liberality and taste, in preserving a very
interesting memento of a people whose history, probably, is destined to
remain for ever sealed to mankind.

The market occupies a large square, in a central position, having two
sides devoted to the sale of meats, and the other two remaining open.
The interior is provided with accommodations for the venders of fruits
and vegetables. The meats are of an indifferent quality; they are cut up
and sold by the butcher in long strips. Their variety of vegetables is
limited, and but little skill is shown in their cultivation. Poultry is
abundant and cheap, as are also the other _necessaries_ of life.

There is but a very limited trade here, of any kind. The resources of
the country are too small for it to be otherwise. To give some idea of
the state of trade in the vicinity of the great public square, just
described, it is sufficient to state that, in crossing it, we have
disturbed the buzzard and killdeer at noonday.

At three o’clock in the afternoon, there is an almost total suspension
of business. The stores, generally, are closed, and the inhabitants
betake themselves to their hammocks, to the enjoyment of their favorite
siesta, which consists of a nap of an hour or more; an indulgence as
indispensable to a Mexican as his cigar. The calesa is the only
wheel-carriage that is to be found in the streets. Indian porters take
the place of drays, and are seen carrying barrels and bales upon their
backs, secured by a plaited rope passed over their foreheads. Being
accustomed, from childhood, to this kind of labor, they are enabled to
take loads of extraordinary weight, and to convey them to a great
distance with an ease that is really wonderful.

The climate of Merida, though very dry, and not subject to great
changes, is productive of febrile diseases at all seasons of the year,
from which even the natives are not exempted. Their bilious, much
resembles the yellow fever; and, in many cases, proves fatal. The fever
and ague is no stranger here. Pulmonary complaints are common, and
consumption carries off many. This malady most frequently shows itself
after severe attacks of the fever and ague, and makes a conquest of its
victim in a very short period.

The principal, as well as the most prominent, of the public buildings,
are the churches. The cathedral is a structure that would attract the
attention of the traveller in any part of the world. It was erected in
the sixteenth century. Its architecture is of the ecclesiastical style
of that age; and, altogether, it has a most commanding appearance. It
has well-proportioned domes, pinnacles, turrets, and lofty windows; and
it occupies, with the palace of the bishop of Yucatan, one entire side
of the most important square of the city. The interior is imposing, from
its numerous and splendidly decorated shrines. Its vaulted roof,
supported by immense stone pillars, gives it an air of solemn grandeur
peculiarly applicable to the ceremonies that are daily performed within
its precincts. The arms of Mexico are displayed upon the exterior front
of the building, which is finished with stone and stucco, with saints in

The bishop’s palace, adjoining, is plain. It is of two stories high,
painted green; and is accessible by a gateway opening into a court, over
which are emblazoned the crosier and mitre. The doors and windows are
much dilapidated. The title of a palace is somewhat of a misnomer for
this edifice, if one were to judge from its external appearance.

There are fourteen church establishments within the city and its
suburbs; they, generally, are well built; and many of them are
remarkable for the power and influence of their particular saints—in
popular estimation. For instance, that of St. Anne is one which the
ladies frequent, to pray for good husbands. Whether the gentlemen go
there to ask for similar blessings, I did not learn; but I was informed
through a source that it would be impolite to doubt, that, in many
instances, the petition of the lonely spinster has been most favorably
received. In this church is a large collection of bone and wax figures,
representing the various limbs of the human body; as, also, crutches,
left there by invalids as offerings to the tutelar saint (St. Barbe) who
has favorably heard their supplications. Models of vessels are deposited
here by those who have been preserved from imminent danger at sea,
through, as the devotees suppose, the efficacy of their appeals and
sacrifices to the saint.

We observed, on entering the church, parts of a human skeleton set near
the vase of holy water; put there, possibly, that all might see and be
reminded that “to this condition we must come at last!” Whether the
priests intended that they should convey a moral, as did those in use
among the ancient Egyptians, or placed them there for other purposes,
could not conveniently be ascertained. Be that as it may, they have an
imposing effect. The taste generally displayed in these churches is not
very pleasing to the eye of a stranger. The images of our Saviour are
rude figures, and what made them appear still worse was, that they were
decorated according to the prevailing fashion of the country; a style
which was calculated to awaken any other than reverential emotions.

New Year’s eve found me on the Alameda, (the promenade of the city,)
where I mingled with the multitude which had collected to enjoy the
pleasantness of the evening at this, the most delightful season of the
year in Yucatan.

On the morning of New Year, 1842, I went early to the cathedral. Dense
masses of Indians, principally females, in their plain cleanly dress,
tastefully arranged, were assembled around the different shrines at
which the priests were officiating. When I returned to breakfast, I met
my fellow-companions of the house at table; but there were none of those
outpourings of good feelings, those kind wishes of happiness that, in
former days, were wont to meet me in the land of my birth. For one
hearty greeting of “a happy New Year!” I would have given for the sake
of “auld lang syne,” most cheerfully would I have given—“a thousand
returns!” But “New Year’s,” alas! is no festival day of the heart in

The day was dull throughout. After the services of the church were
finished, about nine o’clock, the streets were quite deserted. I then
visited the Indians in the suburbs. Their simple huts were comfortable,
so far as mud and stone could make them, and tolerably clean. Their
furniture is composed of nothing more than a few earthen vessels,
calabashes, and hammocks swung across the room. The walls of some of
them were ornamented with rude wooden crosses; and, occasionally,
pictures of saints in tin frames.

The environs of the city present but few pleasant walks. In fact they
are not required, for the inhabitants have not a taste for pedestrian
exercises, and scarcely ever walk when they can enjoy any less fatiguing
mode of locomotion. The practice of riding in the calesa is almost
universal. The ladies, especially, are extremely partial to it; and
having an uncouth gait, they thus appear to the best possible advantage.
Thus mounted and armed with their fan, (that indispensable appendage to
a Mexican lady,) they go forth fully equipped with fascinations,
conquering and to conquer. Their rides are wholly confined to the
streets, as the scenery in the vicinity of Merida offers few inducements
to the equestrian, while the roads constitute a special annoyance. As to
the cultivation of the soil, nature has been left to perform the whole
task, almost entirely unaided either by art or industry. Surely, thrift
is not indigenous to this country. The tropical trees and plants put
forth their blossoms, and the rich perfumes fill the air with their
balmy sweets. But there is a chilling contrast between the loveliness of
vegetable nature about me, and the condition of man, to whose care it is
intrusted. We never have admired the one without wishing that we had the
power to exalt the other to a position equally worthy of the hand that
made it.

We reached our lodgings in season to hear a Mexican disquisition on
cock-fighting, before the commencement of a “grand concert,” that was to
take place in the evening, and to which we had been favored with an
invitation. The _élite_ of the city were to be present, and no small
gratification was anticipated. It took place in a long hall kept for
this and other public purposes. The music was instrumental—and the
performers consisted principally of amateurs. It was a matter of
surprise and disappointment to find that only seventeen ladies and ten
gentlemen constituted the audience. It was odd to us, to see the fairer
part of the assembly set apart from the gentlemen; an arrangement which,
if we are not deceived, gave no more satisfaction to the ladies than to
the gentlemen. The former were quite pretty, and their dress exceedingly
neat; the arrangements of the head in particular exhibited very good

On the following day I made a visit to a gentleman’s country place,
situated about two miles from the city. It was a beautiful morning.
Under the smiles of a rising sun and a cloudless sky nature appeared to
be embellished in all her charms. After a very agreeable walk I arrived
at the house; but was disappointed in finding the owner at home. A few
Indians were hanging listlessly about the premises, under the charge of
a major domo, whose situation was manifestly quite a sinecure. The
mansion was of two stories with piazzas, large, and well built of stone;
but had nothing very peculiar in its construction. The grounds about it
were neatly and tastefully arranged. The division alleys of the garden
were laid with stone, covered with composition, ornamentally disposed,
and answering the two-fold purpose of a walk and a gutter to conduct the
water to the parts where it was required. The orange, the cocoa, the
plantain, and the wide-spread banana, were loaded with fruit. Clusters
of smaller tropical shrubbery, and myriads of flowers, were in
perfection. The enclosures teemed with vegetation, growing in
unrestricted luxuriance. This vegetation is only sustained by the aid of
irrigation. The water is supplied from immense wells and cisterns, which
are opened in large numbers for that purpose. This practice was
originally introduced into Spain by the Moors, who thus changed quite
barren wastes into productive gardens. Even the courses of rivers were
sometimes diverted to effect this important object. Many of the
provinces of the parent country, although since suffered by neglect to
revert to their former uselessness, bear evidence of the important
benefits that resulted from the system. The conquerors of Mexico were
aware of its advantages, of which they availed themselves extensively in
their agricultural pursuits. These reservoirs are frequently made
through a calcareous formation, to the depth of a hundred feet, and are
supplied with water both from fountains and from the rains of summer.
Broad curbs of stone and mortar are formed around them, from eight to
ten feet high, which are used as platforms for drawing up the water by
means of revolving buckets, turned by a spindle, and emptying, in their
evolutions, into conductors leading to reservoirs located near the place
where it may afterwards be wanted. Ascending to the balcony of the
building, I had a partial view of the city, embosomed among trees, with
its domes and turrets peering above their tops. After acknowledging the
hospitality with which I had been received, I made my adieus, and
returned at an early hour to the city.

The Congress of Yucatan is now in session. It is held in two rooms,
connected with each other by double doors. These rooms are neatly and
plainly fitted up for the purpose, having a small gallery or platform at
the sides, for the accommodation of spectators. These apartments
comprise a portion of a convent once belonging to the Jesuits, who
formerly exercised a powerful sway in this province. In 1825 their
property was confiscated to the government; when this and other orders
of monasteries and nunneries were dissolved by the prevailing voice of
the people. Small remains now only exist of this once potent and dreaded
class. The whole building, with the exception of the part mentioned, and
the church, is in a ruinous condition, with broken walls and ragged
casements. Birds of prey, fluttering about and resting upon the trees
that overtop the seat of this once proud, but now fallen society,
present a lesson that others of a similar cast might profit by; yet now,
in the nineteenth century, there are those living in Mexico, who not
only strenuously advocate the maintenance of the order of Loyola, but
are exerting their influence to have it reinstated to all its pristine
wealth, power, and ancient privileges. To revert to the business before
Congress—the houses were discussing the propriety of appointing
commissioners to Vera Cruz, for the purpose of arranging for a secession
from the great plan of independence that had been proclaimed, and again
to return “to their first love,” under the control of the Mexican
confederacy. The members were good-looking, well dressed, and of
gentlemanly behavior—and the system of duelling and bullying practised
so extensively in many of our own legislative assemblies, is unknown to
the unsophisticated individuals who constitute this body. They probably
have not arrived to that state of civilization, which requires such
physical agencies to illustrate and to enforce their arguments.

A temptation to visit the most extensive of the modern ruins of this
province could not be resisted. The Monastery of St. Francisco, which is
situated nearly in the centre of Merida, was erected upon a mound or
foundation that, probably, was the former site of some important
structure belonging to the original inhabitants of the place, which fell
under the destroying hand of the conqueror. The caciques and their
people were driven out, or perished by the ruthless sword; and the
church, following fast upon their footsteps, divided the spoils. Where
are they now? The vanquished and the vanquisher are numbered with the
things that were! and we now stand upon the dilapidated memorial that
indistinctly marks the greatness of the one, and the downfall of the

This monastery was founded in 1520, without being completed until 1600.
It was constructed of walls, after the plan of a fortification, to ward
off the attacks of the Indians, who made sudden and frequent attempts to
regain their dominions and to annoy their enemies. It occupies about
five acres of ground, enclosed by walls forty feet high and eight thick,
with walks upon the top. The material is of hard stone, but composed of
small pieces, imbedded in a firm mass by the means of mortar. This vast
pile, at one time, contained upwards of two thousand friars. Popular
opinion drove them out in the political changes of 1825. Only few of the
order remain in Yucatan, and they are supported by the church.

The entrance to these ruins is through a huge doorway into a room which
was evidently used for persons in waiting for egress, when great caution
was requisite in opening the gates, for fear of being surprised by the
lurking foe. The arched ceiling of the room is painted with flying
ecclesiastical figures, and the apartment is now used as a stable. From
thence the entrance leads to a large square, the sides of which were
once occupied by churches, corridors, and rooms. Passing through these,
over the fallen ruins covered with a rank vegetation, by long halls, we
come to a room that might have been a place of devotion, judging from
the unusual care exhibited in the architecture of the walls, which now,
however, was more or less broken and defaced. Two trap-doors were in the
centre, through which is a descent, by stone steps, to an apartment
twelve by eighteen feet, and six feet high. This room contained piles of
human bones, having been a receptacle for those who died of the cholera.
This cell had passages connected with it, but they were so choked up
with rubbish that they could not be penetrated. After clambering over
broken walls, we reached a second floor, containing halls and rooms that
had been used for libraries and lodgings, as I inferred from the words
placed over the doors. In proceeding along the halls, or entering the
deserted rooms, the hollow sound of the intruder’s footstep drives the
frightened bat from his resting-place, and the lizard to his hole. The
descent here leads through a succession of rooms and cells, under
ground, from whence we left the buildings and passed on through the rank
grass surrounding them to a portion of the area, which was formerly
cultivated as a garden. The stone walk could yet be seen, and the taste
and skill of the designer were perceptible. Fruit-trees still remain, as
also wells and reservoirs for bathing and fishing.

On returning to the gateway, and ascending the front or principal wall,
the highest summit of one of the pinnacles is attained by a ladder of
ropes; from which one may obtain a bird’s-eye view of the city and
surrounding country, as also of the immense pile of ruins around him. In
front of the interior space are two churches, in a tolerable state of
preservation, built in the old Spanish style of pinnacled roof and
arches. On the left, ruins of an immense hall are seen, with its large
broken arch, leaving the whole interior, with its painted ceilings,
exposed to view. Farther on are crumbling bastions and thick walls,
falling, covered with ivy and other vegetation. Squares are filled up
with masses of rubbish, and overgrown with trees. Symbols of the cross
were scattered about, bearing evidence of the class of people that had
last been its rulers. On the right, you look down into the deep recesses
where, but a moment since, you might have stumbled over the emblems of a
once haughty and potent priesthood. All now is silent. No life is
stirring, save the ominous buzzard fluttering over the tottering
pinnacles, or perched upon the blackened and decaying walls, finishing
this picture of desolation.

The 6th of January is the holy-day of the Epiphany. At four o’clock in
the morning the streets were completely thronged, principally with
females. In the cathedral, at this early hour, it was quite dark. The
prevailing gloom was rendered more palpable by the distant appearance of
lighted candles. The priests were administering the sacrament, with
crowds of women surrounding them. The long aisles of the church were
filled with kneeling devotees. As the sun rose, and threw his bright
beams in at the windows, the scene became imposing. A vast multitude of
females were offering up their orisons at the same moment; and, if the
mind of the spectator could be divested of the prejudice that it was not
merely the performance of a superstitious rite, but a direct and sincere
appeal to the Giver of all good gifts, the sight, indeed, had been most
cheering to the eye, most gratifying to the heart.

Early on the morning of the following day (Sunday) I visited the
churches. They were filled, as usual, with the fairer part of creation.
In walking through the streets, after breakfast, great preparations were
observed to be making for a cock-fight, which was to take place at
twelve o’clock. This, next to a bull-bait, is one of the most exciting
scenes that can present itself to a Mexican populace. The gentlemen
keepers were already wending their way to the pits, which are always
kept in readiness for such amusements. The patricians of the city, the
heads of the government, officers of the army, scions of the church,
citizens, and the poor Indian, were all present, mixed up,
helter-skelter; and bets, from six and a quarter cents to three hundred
dollars, were freely offered and as readily accepted. There was much
excitement, but no quarrelling or harsh words. The cock of the
_Secretary of War_ was beaten.

The latter part of the day was spent on the Square, where there were
about three hundred Yucatan soldiers collected for drill. They were
dressed in a shirt and short trousers, with the former article upon the
outside, and a broad-brimmed palm-leaf sombrero. Their military
equipments were in good keeping. They were officered principally by
boys, who had received nothing more than a common school education, wore
jacket and trousers, and used canes as substitutes for swords. During
the drill a slight shower commenced, which dampened the martial
propensities of our heroes with marvellous rapidity. Whatever might have
been their preferences to a fight, they certainly preferred to drill
another day.

I embraced an opportunity, which was now offered me, of visiting the
bishop at his palace. Entering a large doorway in the centre of the
court-yard, and ascending a flight of stone steps to a range of
corridors, I was met by a servant, who conducted me into an ante-room.
My name was taken in; and, in a few seconds, I was received by the
bishop, in an adjoining room, with a most cordial welcome. He has a fine
head. His person is tall, rather robust, and looked the bishop to the
life. He was clad in a blue silk gown, and a cap of the same material,
resting upon the crown of his head; and embellished with a massy gold
chain around his neck, appended to which was a cross. He conversed
respecting citizens and residents of the United States with whom he was
acquainted, either personally or by reputation; and spoke of the
shipwreck of our national vessel, the schooner Porpoise, on board of
which he was a passenger, while on her way to Vera Cruz. He expressed
himself in the highest terms of commendation of the officers, and gave a
glowing account of the perilous voyage. He showed his library with a
great politeness, and a becoming pride; but it struck me as being quite
limited for one in his position. He expressed himself liberally; and no
doubt, as his countenance and actions indicated, he is a right worthy

His rooms were fitted up more with an eye to the useful, than to any
apparent desire for display. The ceiling was ornamented with lithographs
of battles, interspersed with patterns of French fire-boards. Previous
to taking leave, he very kindly offered all the aid in his power for
facilitating my visit to the towns in the interior. For this, as for
other civilities, I shall probably never have an opportunity of
testifying to him the full extent of my gratitude.

He passed with us through his house to the door of the college,
adjoining, when he left us in charge of the rector, with instructions to
conduct us through the building. The institution is called “Minerva.”
The first room entered was the library, which was small and badly
arranged. It was comprised of works principally relating to the church.
It contains a portrait of the founder of the college, a building which
was completed in 1775. It is supported by certain taxes paid by each
curate in the province. These having been cut off, in a great degree, by
the recent changes in the government, seriously affect the institution,
which, at this time, is quite limited in its means. Though the pay of
the president and professors is small, and the contingent expenses are
light, it is apprehended that it cannot long be continued. Its studies
do not go beyond the high schools in the United States. We hastily
glanced at this building, and then entered the cathedral with our
attentive friend, who took especial pains to point out every thing
worthy of particular notice. Upon a close examination of the altars and
shrines, it was plainly to be discovered that the church was poor. The
time is gone by in which churches are made the depositories of the
precious metals, formerly a source of so much wealth to them.

One of the shrines contains a wooden image of our Saviour, to which
attention was called by one of the priests that accompanied us through
the church. He stated to us with much gravity, that it was preserved
harmless from a great fire by a miracle, and that it is now looked upon
as a most sacred relic. A room was shown us containing portraits of all
the bishops of Yucatan. They were badly executed. One of them was
pointed out as having been a great eater; he would devour a whole turkey
at his dinner, and say, “it was a fine chicken.” Another was shown who
had performed the miracle of changing sour apples to sweet, a function
which has given its proprietor’s name to a species of apple, which is
retained to this day.


                              CHAPTER III.

Mechanical Pursuits—The Circulating Medium—A Ball—A Remnant of
  Franciscans—Signs of Decay in the Suburbs—The Cemetery—The
  Weather—A Whole Congregation Flogged—The Wise Men—The
  Gentlemen—Extra Civilities—The Appearances of Trade—Products of
  the Soil—Education—Language of the Indians—The Ancient
  People—Waldeck’s Opinion of them—The Maya Language—The Lord’s
  Prayer in Maya—Grammars of that Dialect—Difficulties in Speaking
  it—Traits of the Indian Character.

Having resolved to visit the towns in the interior, I was under the
necessity of making some preparations which brought me in contact with
the mechanics of Merida. It being customary and even necessary to travel
chiefly upon the backs of horses and mules, the saddler and the tailor
were first called into requisition. These professions were principally
filled by Indians and half-breeds, who, though clumsy in their business,
were far more expert than might have been expected. The custom of the
country invariably exacts the payment of one-half of the amount agreed
upon in advance, in order that the contractor may be in funds to
purchase stock, wherewith to fill his contract. Though their delays are
very annoying, yet they are generally honest, and may be depended upon
for ultimately fulfilling their engagements.

The wants of the people are so limited that few mechanics are necessary.
Nature is kind and lavish. The articles necessary to cover and protect
the body are not numerous, and every thing requisite for its nourishment
abounds. It looks very odd, I had almost said humiliating, to see men
sitting upon the public sidewalks, working upon a lady’s dress, and
similar articles hanging around the door-ways of their houses, as a sign
of the services which they hold themselves competent and ready to
render. Manufactories are nowhere to be seen; the clatter of the loom or
the noise of the hammer never disturbs the quiet of Merida.

Some idea of the wealth or poverty of a country may be formed from an
acquaintance with its currency. Silver is the basis of the circulation
of Yucatan, of which the Spanish sixpence is the smallest. A fractional
sort of change, however, is represented by the seeds of the _cacao_, two
hundred and fifty grains of which are considered equal to sixpence. Of
these, five grains constitute the smallest amount ever received in
trade. In some of the provinces of the Mexican confederacy, pieces of
soap pass as a circulating medium, and lose none of their estimated
value for a few washings, provided the balance of exchange should not be
such as to carry it out of the district where it is known. The great
scarcity of money tends to reduce every thing else in an equal ratio.
Servants’ wages are from three to five dollars a month, and those of
mechanics are at a proportionate rate. Rents are almost a nominal
charge. This is partially produced by the number of untenanted buildings
that are decaying without occupants.

The manner of doing business is simple. Nothing of that stir and bustle
is seen that is to be observed in cities and towns of the United States;
nor do you find the care-worn and anxious look that is so often to be
noticed with us. Speculation, kite-flying, lame ducks, bulls and bears,
and all those curses with which large mercantile communities are usually
visited, are entirely unknown in the province of Yucatan.

During my stay in the city of Merida, a ball was given at the Governor’s
house, apropos of some political event, which I did not esteem of moment
enough to remember. As usual upon such occasions, there were grand
preparations. The man-milliners were busily engaged upon female
finery—and their shop-boards were decorated with the most unlimited
gayety. Every door-way along the principal streets, throughout the day,
was filled with ladies seated upon stools, (their favorite posture,)
working fancy articles, in anticipation of the approaching festival. But
their dresses gaping behind, and hanging loosely upon their shoulders,
and their slip-shod feet, made them appear exceedingly slovenly at home,
and awakened in me a strong desire to see them in full toilet at the
ball in the evening.

On entering the hall, I passed through a dense line of ladies arranged
along the corridors, principally mammas, and wall-flowering spinsters
garlanding the corridors. The dancing had already commenced. At first
sight, the display was dazzling; but after the lapse of a few minutes,
the fascination dissipated. The absence of all conversation, even of
small-talk, which upon such occasions is a relief, rendered even the
ball-room, like all their other domestic institutions here, exceedingly
monotonous and dull. During the dance, not a lip is seen to move—like
Marryat’s wench, they refuse to talk, because they came here to dance!
At the conclusion of a cotillon, the ladies took seats separate from the
gentlemen. They dressed here in very good taste; though a partiality for
brilliant colors was rather too conspicuously displayed for a Northern
eye. There was no extravagant display of jewellery or rich brocades, in
which particular I may be pardoned for commending their example to my
own fair countrywomen. There were many pretty faces, that only required
expression to render them charming. The skill of the man-milliner,
however, deserves full credit. I will add, for the benefit of my
bachelor friends, that there were in attendance about twelve ladies to
one gentleman. This disproportionate abundance of females is common in
warm climates, and constitutes, I believe, one of Bishop Warburton’s
arguments in defence of polygamy in Asia. The ladies in the corridors
were silently enjoying their cigars during the whole evening, and only
relieving the monotony of their occupation, by carrying on a telegraphic
correspondence with some of their neighbors by the aid of their fans.

The ball, as I have already remarked, was given at the Governor’s house,
which occupies a portion of the great square. The room was about fifty
feet long by fifteen wide. The floor was of mortar; the ceilings high
and roughly finished. The walls were ornamented with framed engravings,
and the windows hung with white cotton curtains. A fine supper was
provided; but I left the ball at an early hour, and jostled my way to my
lodgings through an immense crowd of Indians, of both sexes, attracted
by the festivities which I was just leaving.

Within the precincts of Merida, there is a regular monastery sustained
by about twelve monks. In my rambles I passed the door of one of the
friars, who invited me to walk in. He was a middle-aged man, clad in the
usual garb of his order; a loose dress, and sandals tied about his
ankles with cords. His hair was cut rounding; giving it the air of a
Scotch bonnet resting lightly upon the top of his head. He was not only
very polite, but a very learned man. In spite of my sterner judgment, I
could not but sympathize with him, as he dilated upon the historical
recollections of the old and notorious order to which he had attached
himself in his youthful days. As he spoke of it in its glory, his
enthusiasm broke forth with an almost inspired eloquence.

His room was large and airy, and appeared to have been arranged for a
study. It was furnished with two chairs and a table. A few Spanish and
Latin works were lying around. He conducted us through the long halls
and corridors of the monastery, and described to us the various
paintings that covered the walls. They were principally representations
of his tutelar saint, in the different periods of his eventful life,
from his birth to his death; also, of the crucifixion of our Saviour. At
a distance they might resemble pictures; but, on approaching them, the
charm fled. They proved to be most execrable daubs.

The church attached to the monastery is well worth a visit. It has an
immense shrine, formed by a group of figures in alto-relievo, large as
life, representing saints and angels, and all profusely ornamented with
gold and silver. One of the chapters of the church contains a
representation of the crucifixion carved upon stone, beautiful, both for
its design and its execution. It was found by the Spaniards on the
island of Cozumel, the place where Cortez first landed, and has caused
much speculation as to its origin. On returning to the room of our
worthy guide, chocolate was served; and a conversation for an hour
ensued upon the condition of the clergy of the United States, which
arose from an inquiry into the _number and denomination of our
monasteries_! I left him alone within his cheerless walls, and wended my
way back to my home; each of us, no doubt, preferring his own situation
to the other’s. I can at least speak authentically as to one.

I continued my rambles in the suburbs on the following day. Here,
dilapidation and ruin, and the want of cultivation, are too palpable.
Churches built centuries ago, and now surrounded only by a few poor
Indian huts, form a sad but instructive commentary upon the
insufficiency of arbitrary power, under the control of a religious
hierarchy, to develope the intellectual or the physical resources of a
people. Decay and desolation have overtaken all those institutions of an
elder time, which now but serve, like the footsteps upon the shore of a
deserted island, to prove the former presence of a more vigorous
civilization. The hand of man has rarely interfered to protect these
solemn memorials from oblivion. The grounds around them are but little
cultivated, and are mostly covered by a thick growth of furze, with an
occasional cocoa, orange, or tamarind tree. Here, however, the _ramon_
grows to a great height, and is very valuable, its leaves and branches
affording a nutricious food for horses.

About two miles from the city is a cemetery, appropriated to the dead of
Merida. It is located in a beautiful situation; but, like most other
public places in this country, it has been utterly neglected. It
comprehends about half an acre of land, surrounded by a high wall; and
is under the charge of a Catholic priest, who resides upon the premises.
Those who can afford it are provided with vaults, built upon the surface
of the ground. The poor are interred beneath the soil. The priest in
charge does not seem to have permitted his solemn vicinage to disturb
his digestion or dampen his spirits. His sleek and portly appearance
reminded me, at once, of the “fat, round, oily little man of God,” whose
repose Thomson disturbs in his Castle of Indolence. He was kind and
attentive in showing the premises; but his conversation was very feeble,
and indicated a mind almost demented with superstition.

The thermometer now, though the middle of January, ranges at about
eighty. We have occasional showers, but the weather continues to be
delightful. The mornings and evenings are perfectly enchanting. The
climate is not so uniform as that of Cuba; rains are more frequent, and
the dews more abundant. Colds and influenzas are common; and on this
account it cannot, I think, be recommended to invalids with pulmonary

Connected with one of the monasteries of the Jesuits, is the Church of
Jesus. It has partially lost its ancient splendor by the removal of
valuable plate and embellishments, which formerly belonged to it; and I
should not detain my readers with a notice of it here, but for a most
singular religious ceremony which I was permitted to witness within its
walls during vespers. The congregation was composed principally of
Indians. After the usual ceremonies were concluded, a large Indian
prostrated himself upon the floor before the altar, carefully adjusted
his limbs, and laid himself out as if he were preparing for burial. Men,
with coils of rope about their heads, representing crowns of thorns,
dressed in loose garments, and bending under the weight of a heavy
cross, then entered and tottered up the aisles. A cross and scull were
then passed around; the bearer repeating in Latin, as they were handed
to be kissed, “This is the death, and this is the judgment!” When this
form had been concluded, we were all supplied with whips, (I declined to
avail myself of their politeness,) the lights were extinguished, and all
was darkness. Nothing was visible but the gigantic windows, and the
outlines of the stupendous arches and fretted walls above us. The
chamber of death was never more silent than was that church for the
moment. While I was speculating upon what would probably occur next in
the order of exercises, my meditations were suddenly interrupted by the
sounds of stripes rising and echoing through every part of the vast
edifice. That there was whipping going on, I had no doubt; but whether
each one did his own whipping, or had it done by his neighbors, I was,
for some time, unable to satisfy myself; but I soon discovered that the
former was the case, upon the presumption, doubtless, that each one knew
how much his case required better than any one else. This penitential
ceremony continued for the space of fifteen minutes, at least, without
intermission. When it ceased, which was at the tinkling of a bell, the
candles were relighted, and the assemblage slowly left the church,
apparently perfectly satisfied that they had received no more than they

I had the gratification of visiting a number of the learned men of
Merida, or “sabios,” as they are denominated by some travellers. In
Yucatan, this title is not inappropriate. They are celebrated here, and
very justly; for they are tolerably well informed; therein, having
greatly the advantage of the mass of their fellow-citizens. They seem to
be a chosen band, living and moving in a distinct body within their own
circle; like Rosicrucians, having no kindred spirits to whom they can
attach themselves, or from whom they can increase their numbers. Thus,
in the course of ordinary events, as their days approach to threescore
and ten, their order must become gradually extinguished. One of them, to
whom I paid frequent visits, was already upwards of ninety years of age,
and one of the most interesting old men I have ever beheld. He seemed
happy to see me; was fond of speaking of his youthful days; gave an
account of his early studies and recreations; and, withal, a goodly
portion of fatherly advice and admonition. His mind appeared to be
vigorous; too much so, indeed, for the feeble state of his body. He was
pleased to answer questions; and, when adverting to the state of the
country, spoke with much feeling, but despairingly, of every thing
connected with it.

I had the pleasure of meeting, to-day, with the gentlemanly owner of the
estate upon which are the celebrated ruins of Uxmal. He was intelligent
and communicative, and had travelled in the United States. He traced
back, as far as practicable, the title-deeds of his forefathers to this
land, in order, if possible, to gain some clew to its early history; but
it led to nothing that could be made available to the traveller. He
expresses great confidence in Mr. Stephens, who is now investigating
these ruins, and to whom he had rendered every facility for the
prosecution of his task. I asked him what he would take for the land
upon which those ruins were situated; and he readily replied, five
thousand dollars. I declined to embark in a speculation in these lands,
but did not hesitate to avail myself of the letters with which he was so
kind as to favor me to the majordomos of his several estates; for which
I beg leave here to express my most sincere thanks.

The social condition of the female sex in Yucatan, so far as my
observation extends, compares very favorably with that of females of the
same rank in the other provinces of Mexico. The Yucatecos ladies
generally attend to their household affairs, and to the education of
their children; but though their habits are rather domestic, the
standard of virtue is not to be estimated as high as in the United
States. Their personal attractions are quite inconsiderable. In the
absence of animation and intelligence, nothing is left to fascinate or
to be loved. The brunette complexion, regular features, black hair, and
eyes of the same color, predominate. They dress in the Spanish
fashion—bright colors are generally preferred—with a light veil thrown
over their heads, and a profusion of jewellery and other ornaments
carefully arranged about their persons. They seldom walk out, except to
church, where they appear to more advantage than at any other place. At
their houses, their carelessness of dress amounts to slovenliness. They
may be seen at almost any hour of the day, swinging in their hammocks,
with cigars in their mouths, or making their toilet in the doorway of
their dwellings. It is a general custom here for the ladies to sleep in
this suspended apparatus. Those who are accustomed to the luxury of a
bedstead, are not easily reconciled to this arrangement; and I have in
vain tried to discover a sufficient reason for the prevalence of these
articles, to the exclusion of the bedstead.

The gambling propensities of the ladies are as strong as those of the
gentlemen; which, however, they do not indulge in to so great an extent.
They mingle at the public tables, but good order and decorum always

A stranger is particularly struck with the apathy of the wife in her
household affairs. She is seldom seen in conversation with her husband.
Being poorly educated, she has no literary resources whatever. She is
rarely seen with a book in her hand. The common topics of her household
form the only points of intellectual contact between herself and her
husband. Sleep is her chief resource; and, in the swing of the hammock,
many of her best hours are lost in forgetfulness. Music, I found to my
great surprise, was but little cultivated.

Considerable attention is paid to the education of children; but it is
not deemed necessary, by parents, for them to proceed much beyond the
first rudiments. The public school system is adopted, and kept up with
some degree of ability, by the government and corporations. The towns
are divided off into districts throughout the state, in which are two
colleges and fifty-seven schools; besides others of select tuition, in
which the elements of an ordinary education are taught, together with
the doctrines of the Romish church.

The impressions which I have received of the male population are as yet
necessarily undefined, and would not perhaps warrant me in attempting to
characterize them; but, so far as my knowledge extends, I am inclined to
think them a proud, though not a supercilious people. It is that
Castilian sort of pride which is identified with the old Spanish
character; and which has descended from him as naturally to the Mexican
as his siesta. This gives them, even in their ignorance, some character.
While they have this pride about them, we may be sure they will not
degenerate into Caffres. Though they have declared their independence of
Mexico, and have promised to the world to prove themselves worthy of
enjoying entire political liberty, yet it is very evident to a stranger,
that a majority of the population are perfectly indifferent whether they
return or remain under their present rulers. This apathy in political
matters indicates a condition of the national mind, which is likely to
be but little affected by the form of government under which it exists.
Their constitution much resembles that of the United States. They have a
President, Vice President, and two houses of legislators. The elective
franchise extends to all, not excepting either the Indians or the
blacks. The latter class is principally composed of runaway slaves from
the neighboring islands. Their number, however, is small. All religions
are tolerated; but that of the Catholic is _protected_!

In their private dwellings very little or no taste is displayed. Their
furniture, generally, is plain. They are not very choice or select in
the ornaments for their rooms, French lithographs in frames, such as are
usually hung about in our bar-rooms and barbers’ shops, being almost

The people throughout Yucatan are exceedingly polite to strangers. It
would be well for foreigners, however, to know that when, on presenting
letters of introduction to the Yucatecos, they tender you all their
earthly possessions, together with their personal services into the
bargain; it would be wise to get accustomed as soon as possible to the
habit of being satisfied with their individual attentions, without
expecting an immediate transfer of the title-deeds of their estates.
This would save much disappointment, as many of their civilities are
empty ceremonies, offered only in conformity with their national

Commercial transactions are limited to the supply of retail dealers in
the city and country. The principal articles of trade are dry goods,
imported from England and France, by the way of the Balize and Havana.
The exportation of the products of the country is conducted through the
same channel; but owing to the poverty of the soil, and the supineness
of the people, it is likewise very circumscribed. On the whole, so far
as my personal observation has yet extended, the land presents a
barrenness of appearance which offers few of those inducements that have
been held out for emigration, either to the husbandman or the mechanic.

The agricultural products of Yucatan are numerous. Corn, resembling that
of New England, which constitutes one of the principal articles of food,
and from which tortillas are prepared, is raised here in great
abundance. Also black beans, so well known to travellers by the name of
_frejoles_, constitute an agricultural staple of the country. Heniken is
cultivated, and prepared for exportation, to a considerable extent. It
is known in the United States as “Sisal hemp,” and takes its name from
the port whence it is shipped. It is indigenous, and grows upon a rocky
and apparently barren soil, to the height of about twelve feet, from a
short rough trunk. It is cut at a certain period, and the fibres drawn
out and dried, after which it is prepared and put up for the market.
Sugar and cotton are raised in some of the eastern districts; but very
little attention is paid to their cultivation beyond the small demand
for the home consumption. Hats, from the leaf of the palm, are
manufactured in the interior in large quantities for exportation, and
are shipped at Campeachy. They are known in our market as the “Campeachy

There has been much speculation, to little purpose, respecting the
original inhabitants of Yucatan. It is a subject so involved in doubt,
that any satisfactory conclusions can scarcely be expected. Waldeck[1]
is of opinion that it was settled by different nations, broken off from
Tabasco and other states, who particularly used the Maya idiom. He gives
further evidence of this fact, from the facial formation observable in
sundry of the Indians at Merida, particularly in the women, who
resemble, in their physiognomy, the sculptured faces upon the stones at
Palenque. The delicately tapered straight leg, small knee joints, and
large shoulders, are mentioned as characteristics strongly marking a
similarity of descent. The more distant Indians, and especially those of
the mountains, have preserved their idioms as well as their ancient
customs in a much greater degree—their language being more pure, and
their manners more uniform.

That these people are the descendants of the ancient Mayas, there is
hardly room to doubt. That tongue now pervades the whole peninsula, and
is understood and spoken even by the whites. They were well known to be
far advanced in civilization when first discovered, the strongest
evidences of which are scattered throughout the province. Their
calendars have been deciphered; and their astronomical symbols and
hieroglyphical signs have been identified with those of the Mexicans.
They had also their picture writings, called _analthes_, which were
executed upon bark, and folded up in the same shape as books.[2]

Waldeck says, and a residence of several years gives weight to his
impressions, that the Maya now spoken partakes very little of the
ancient language of the country; more especially in the neighborhood of
large towns and cities. The continued intercourse that has existed
between the Indians and Spaniards, since the conquest, has Castilianized
their idiom to such an extent, that the original is nearly lost to those
who are now held in vassalage. The affinity observable between the Maya
and Tchole dialects proves them to be a complete medley; and that this
mixture occurred at an early period, he was convinced from the proofs he
held in his own possession of the ancient idioms. For instance, in
referring to his vocabulary, he finds that those words ending in _un_,
in the Tchole _tulum_, (a circle,) are _tulun_. The _x_ has the sound of
_ch_ in _church_. The Mayas are indebted to Francis Gabriel Bonaventure,
author of a work published in 1560, called _Arte del Idioma Maya;_ and
to R. P. F. Pedro Beltran, who wrote in 1746,[3] two Franciscan monks,
for this style of pronunciation. Waldeck affirms, that the language now
spoken in Yucatan is not that for which those authors laid down the

It appears that these people had no written language other than their
hieroglyphics. The idioms now used were put into their present shape by
their conquerors, from sounds representing things, gathered from the
lips of the Indians. Definitions of their figurative writing, so far as
it can be ascertained, might lead to more satisfactory results. They
might serve as guides to some knowledge of a race, which evidently
practised the useful and the ornamental arts; but which probably had
emigrated to this hemisphere previous to the invention of letters.

The Maya dialect is very barren of expression; and, to a stranger,
difficult of pronunciation. The same word often conveys different
meanings, from the peculiar manner of sounding it. In fact, to speak it
well, requires careful study, and an untiring practice. Under these
obstructions, it would take a long time to become so familiarized to the
tongue, as to be able to communicate with that people in a way to
discover any of those traditions that may yet lurk among them. But,
after all, they are like an exhausted mine; the metal which the curious
seek has been extracted; and it need only be sought for in those regions
where the soil has never been disturbed.

The dress of the Indian is of the simplest kind. His food principally
consists of corn; which is prepared by parboiling, and crushing on a
stone by means of a roller. When ready, it is made into balls; and,
after being mixed with water, it is ready to be eaten. Corn is broken in
the same way, and made into cakes called tortillas, which are the
favorite food of all classes of society in this province. The wages for
Indian service are from one to four dollars per month; the largest
portion of which, in very many cases, is expended for candles and other
offerings to their chosen saint. In general these Indians are extremely
mild and inoffensive. Drinking is their most decided vice; but even
this, as we have already remarked, cannot be called a prevailing one.
They are a listless rather than indolent race, and never “think for the
morrow.” They have quite an amiable expression in their countenances,
and their mode of conversation is pleasing. Their features remind one of
those of the Asiatic more than of any other. Their stature is short and
thick-set, having but little resemblance to that of the North American
Indian. We looked in vain for their pastimes—they have none, except
those connected with the church. They seldom dance or sing. They are
wholly under the surveillance of the priests, and are the most zealous
devotees to their rites and ceremonies. Their hours of leisure are
passed in their hammocks, or else in silently squatting about the
corners of the streets. Though they wear the _outside_ show of freedom,
they have not even as much liberty as the most abject vassal of the
middle ages. They are literally degraded to the position of serfs. They
are always in debt, and are consequently at the mercy of their
creditors, who, by the law of the country, have a lien upon their
services until their debts are cancelled. This, together with the
absence of nearly all the ordinary encouragements to exertion, common in
a colder climate, and among a more progressive people, conspires to keep
the Indian Yucatecos in a state of listless bondage, which they endure
without a murmur, and we may add, from our own observation, without much
positive suffering. Legalized slavery, as it is well known, does not
exist in any part of Mexico.

    [Illustration: A YUCATECO INDIAN’S HOUSE.]


                              CHAPTER IV.

Preparations for the Interior—Outfit, &c.—The Indian Boy—Departure from
  Merida—Arrival at Tixcoco—Calcachen—A Feast-day—Isamal at a
  distance—Arrival there—Our Palace—A Procession—Ancient Mounds—The
  Church—A striking Indian—Wrong Impressions—Tuncax—A Dilemma—Philosophy
  of the Road-side—A Dinner—Visit to a Curate—A Touch of Comfort—Mail
  Carrier—Sitax—An Indian Alcalde—Tinum—An Allusion—Valladolid—A Mistake
  rectified in time.

The varying and unsatisfactory accounts which I had received of the
interior of Yucatan, had awakened in me an irresistible desire to
explore it, although I tried in vain to define to myself the cause of my
curiosity. Partly through a desire of novelty, and partly for the want
of a more definite purpose, I resolved to invade those unexplored
regions which had not yet found a corner in our geographies, nor even
been reached by the all-pervading spirit of traffic. As soon as I had
resolved, I addressed myself to the preparation of my outfit; in which,
despite the ignorance and indolence of my Mexican aids, I was ultimately

To some future traveller, it may be interesting to know the nature of my

In the first place, then, I provided myself with an _over-all_ shirt,
(pockets made to order,) Mexican riding-trousers, and palm-leaf hat. In
addition to these, were a hammock and a striped blanket; the latter
article _Americanized_ by ornamental stars, representing the emblems of
my country, in white, red, and blue; under which one could sleep, fight,
or negotiate, as circumstances might require. Of weapons, defensive and
conciliatory, there were a double-barrelled gun, an Indian knife, and
rather a limited amount of the smallest Spanish coin. The Indian and the
Bowie knife are very similar in weight and shape. The former is an
indispensable accompaniment upon a journey through this peninsula. It
may be seen that, if driven to the wall, a very tolerable show of
defence might have been made.

The cooking arrangements consisted of tin cups and pans, salt, and
loco-foco matches. My philosophical and mathematical instruments were a
memorandum book, an ordinary lead pencil, and a pocket compass! The
instruments and dress were intrusted to no one but myself—the latter
enveloped my person, while the former occupied those invaluable
shirt-pockets, of which I claim to be the original inventor. To the
Indian boy José, (pronounced Hosay,) whom I hired as a servant to
accompany me, and who will be hereafter better known to my readers, was
intrusted the other portion of my luggage.

The boy, to whom allusion has just been made, was decidedly genteel in
his appearance. Though he has been termed a boy, he is of the kind who,
among the Irish, never become men until they are married. He was about
five-and-twenty years of age. His mother and sisters thought the world
of him, and well they might; for he was most worthy of their affections.
Both his physical and mental powers were very symmetrical. He was
active, industrious, and faithful. If he had any fault, perhaps it was
in being too amorous. I do not feel disposed, however, to quarrel with a
constitutional infirmity.

I left the agreeable residence of Doña Michaelé, in company with my
_fidus Achates_, on the twenty-ninth of January, on one of the most
lovely mornings that the eye of God ever looked out upon to bless.

Our route was eastward, towards Valladolid. The road was wide, and in
excellent condition, being one of the principal thoroughfares. This road
is under the superintendence of government; and the expenses of its
repairs are defrayed by a tax, similar to the road-tax usually levied in
the United States.

At ten o’clock we arrived at the town of Tixcoco, and rode up to the
_Casa-real_; which belongs to a class of houses set apart by the
municipal authorities of every town for the accommodation of travellers.
They are the substitutes for public houses; a convenience almost unknown
to the country.

The Casa-real is also the receptacle for the public property of the
place—such as implements of labor, punishment, &c.—consisting of
crowbars, handcuffs, wooden scale-beams, and drums, staffs of the
alcaldes, &c.

These accommodations and depositories are in charge of some six or eight
Indians, who are drafted to serve one year, under the direction of the
alcaldes, who represent aldermen in the judicial capacity. These Indians
also attend upon the wants of strangers, and depend wholly upon the
small pittances they receive for their support. It is almost needless to
add, what follows necessarily from the tenure of their offices, that
they are idle, negligent, and without enterprise.

At a quarter before eleven I took breakfast, which had been brought from
some neighboring house. It was composed of eggs, tortillas, and
frejoles. The tortillas are a kind of corn-cakes, and constitute the
principal bread of the country. Frejoles are small black beans, in
general use in all the provinces of Mexico, and occupy the same elevated
rank in the domestic economy of that nation that the potato does in
Ireland. To complete the morning’s repast, a calabash of _maza_ was
added. This is a drink prepared with corn, and is usually drunk by the
natives in the place of tea and coffee.

The town of Tixcoco is ornamented with a large church, and the
appurtenances thereto usually belonging in Catholic countries; but the
dwellings, generally, are mere Indian huts, of mud walls and thatched

At three o’clock, after the heat of the day, we again started upon our
route; and at six, rode up to the Casa-real of Calcachen, where we
stopped during the night. The best room in the house was placed at our
disposal. The corners of the apartment proved that it had been swept;
for the collections of months still remained there, a _standing_
evidence of the fact.

The Casa-real, according to universal custom, fronts upon a public
square; where great preparations were at this time making to celebrate
some one of the religious festivals on the following Monday. An
amphitheatre was erected, formed of poles, having a row of seats
overlooking the arena, where bull-fights were to take place. In the
evening, in anticipation of the festival, guns were discharged, and a
display of fireworks took place from the roof of the church. The
Indians, on these occasions, like our juvenile patriots previous to the
fourth of July, usually anticipate the sport of the festal day some
forty-eight hours or more before it arrives.

Next morning (Sunday) I was awakened before daylight by the noise of the
natives, who, as usual, could not restrain their impatience for the
arrival of their day of rejoicing. Wooden drums and horns were brought
in requisition; and, at _sun-rise_, rockets were being discharged from
the church. The bells were rung, the crowd entered the building, and
quiet was restored.

Preparatory to cleansing our guns, previous to our departure from this
town, they were discharged. This was understood by the Indians to be a
complimentary salute to their saint, and they crowded around me, to my
great annoyance, insisting that I should remain with them until the end
of the feast. Flattering as was this invitation, which, at one time, I
thought I should be compelled to accept, I succeeded in declining
without giving offence. Bidding them adieu, we saddled our horses, and
were once more upon the road. After passing through two small Indian
towns of little notoriety, we arrived at Isamal at noon.

The road continued to be good; and four miles distant, the church could
be seen, throwing the shadows of its massive walls over the surrounding

On arriving at the Casa-real, it was found to be deplorably filthy and
uncomfortable; to which I was in no condition of mind or body to submit.
I went in quest of the Colonel of the town, whom I found to be a quondam
friend, and an old housemate at Doña Michaelé’s, in Merida, and that he
had been recently appointed to this station. From the natural politeness
of this gentleman, I was guarantied a kind reception, and such good
quarters were provided as to make me feel quite at home; as all will be
prepared to believe, when they know of the accommodations.

We were the sole proprietors of a lordly mansion, with a retinue of
Indians to attend our bidding. The structure which we inhabited occupies
one side of a large square, and is raised upon strong and well-built
arches of about twelve feet, supporting the long ranges of halls, rooms,
and pillared corridors, of easy access by steps leading off at different
sections. The whole was quite imposing in its appearance, and not the
less attractive for having been recently cleansed and whitewashed. This
building was used for public offices in Isamal’s better days. I occupied
the south-eastern angle of the mansion, looking out upon the square and
market-place. The scene without, however, was not very fascinating. A
few Indian women only were to be observed, selling or carrying meats and
vegetables; and mules browsing over the grounds.

Sunday evening was being observed here by a long procession from one of
the churches, composed of priests, and upwards of four hundred Indian
girls, clad in plain white cotton dresses, each carrying a lighted
candle. It was a beautiful and even an imposing sight. In this
procession was carried a figure of the Virgin, surrounded by all the
symbols of the church, upon a stage preceded by music, and heralded with
occasional displays of fire-works.

In the morning, at an early hour, I visited the suburbs of the town,
where I observed a number of mounds, the highest of which I judged to be
from fifty to sixty feet, and which I ascended. The sides were very
precipitous, and covered with loose stones. I was compelled to pull
myself up by the aid of the bushes that overgrew the surface.

Before reaching the summit, and about two-thirds of the way from the
base, is a square platform of about two acres in extent, in the centre
of which is a well, partially filled in with stones, and more or less
overgrown with vegetation. This dilapidation and decay had evidently
been the work of centuries.

From the top of this mound there was a fine prospect. The view of the
town, with its elevated church, and the flat-roofed, Moorish-looking
houses, with the trees of the tropics interspersed, and the tall cocoa,
varying the surface of the extended country in the distance, presented a
rural scene rarely to be met with in this country.

The plane surface of the land around these elevations, precludes the
supposition that they are natural formations. Their origin and purpose
can only be surmised. Probably they were fortifications—perhaps look-out

               “An observatory, from whence to overlook
               The surrounding world at one broad glance,
               And view their wily foes.”

Be this as it may, I felt awed when I looked upon them. I could not but
feel that they established a sort of parenthetic connexion between
myself and elder ages, and a strange people who had customs now unknown,
and of whom history has preserved no better memorials than the
indistinct yet eloquent piles of stone and earth before me.

After our breakfast, I called at the house of the curate, but he was
absent; asserting the prerogative of the traveller, I thereupon
introduced myself to the priest in charge, and informed him that I was a
stranger, and should not be ungrateful for any attentions that might be
bestowed upon me in that character. His reception was rather cool; but,
as my object was to obtain information, I affected not to notice it.
After some trivial delays, I was enabled to visit the church which had
so struck my eye as I approached the city, and which I was desirous of
seeing. It is situated in the centre of the city, upon an artificial
elevation, which once, no doubt, was the site of some important
structure of the ancient people who formerly inhabited this province. It
was probably destroyed to make room for a monastery—the ruins of which
(the church which forms a part of it being preserved) cover some acres
of land.

The church was filled with rude carving, and with still more rude and
incomprehensible paintings. Within the walls, which encompass the whole
of the grounds, is a square that once must have been a magnificent
place, but which is now totally neglected. It has on three sides a
double row of pillars, forming a beautiful promenade, from which the
country, as far as the eye can reach, is overlooked.

The priest who conducted me over the premises, seemed to know nothing of
the church in which he officiated, and even less, if possible, of the
city and its environs, whence came the patronage on which he subsisted.
The Latin inscription upon the builder’s tablet was incomprehensible to
him; but it is no more than justice to say, that he was evidently
chagrined by the ignorance which he had been forced to exhibit. He
conducted me to the turret, and pointed out the clock for my inspection;
it was a rare piece of mechanism; but the most striking part of it was a
_live_ Indian stationed beside it, to strike the hours.

The towns throughout this portion of the interior are well laid out, and
the houses well built; every thing looks as though they might be
inhabited by a stirring people. Arriving in one of them at the close of
the day, the stranger is led to attribute the pervading quiet to that
particular time; in the morning he would think the same; but, at
morning, noon, and night, the same composing monotony reigns, and all
days, (those of the feasts excepted,) and all places, are alike. A
listless apathy seems to hang around them—a pervading stillness and
inactivity, which are painful to observe.

The principal stores are kept by the whites, who, in the ratio of
population, are to the Indians, about as one to six. Their stock
comprises all descriptions of goods required by the inhabitants; among
which the article of distilled liquors is the most prominent—the demand
for which, I observed, increased, as I advanced into the interior.

The Indian of the town clock has this moment struck _one_; the stores
are closed, and the streets deserted. The whole of the population,
excepting a few straggling natives, are in their hammocks. Midnight is
on us in pantomime, without its darkness. In fifteen minutes more, all
Yucatan, literally, may be said to be asleep—even my José now is looking
at me with a drowsy eye, and wondering, no doubt, why I do not follow
the example. The climate is really enervating, and I have determined to
swing a while, if it be only to learn not to condemn the habits of

On the following morning we left Isamal, stopping occasionally upon the
road-side, to examine the sonatos which lay in our route. These are
large wells, which apparently have been formed by convulsions of Nature,
in the midst of silicious and calcareous rocks. They contain a never
failing supply of good water, and are a rendezvous of Indians, and
halting-places for the muleteers, who usually are found taking their
refreshments there. The calabash of Maza was always tendered to us with
unrestrained hospitality, and we were almost uniformly asked to partake
of their other provisions. Sharing the food of these humble wayfarers is
an unfailing guarantee of their good-will, and to decline, if not
construed as an offence, would certainly wound their sensibility.

I frequently had occasion to observe the tact that José possessed of
making himself agreeable to those we met upon the road, and was often
reminded of my good fortune in having secured his valuable services.

Parting from our transient friends, we hurried on in a vain effort to
escape a violent shower which threatened us, and which overtook us in
time to drench us thoroughly before we got refuge, at noon, in the
Casa-real at Tuncax.

It is too late for me to expect any credit for remarking the mutability
of all human affairs; but I was reminded of the fact to-day with all the
force of a new revelation. But this morning I was quartered like a
prince, with a palace for a dwelling, and a cacique’s retinue to obey my
bidding; and now, there is not an Indian so poor as to do me reverence.
The floor of the Casa-real into which fate had cast me was not entirely
covered with water. The hammock swung clear of the mud. There evidently
had been a roof over head, and my situation would have been positively
worse in the streets. Comparatively, then, I was comfortable. The rain
too had almost ceased; the Indians were coming in, and the prospects of
a dinner were brightening. Across the square stood the church, with its
heavy walls blackened with the sun and the rain, with its gabled front,
and pigeon-holed apex, and its trio of bells. By its side stood the
house of the curate, with its low sides, and high though dilapidated
thatched roof. There were some half dozen stores scattered about, and a
few stone buildings, no doubt inhabited by the whites; the rest of the
town, as usual, is made of Indian huts.

The dinner came, and it satisfied me that none can appreciate the
importance of a meal, except those who have tried it after a day’s
riding and fasting in a country like this. After a hearty repast of
tortillas and frejoles, the weather was consulted, with a view of
continuing our journey; but the result was not flattering. The fact was
much clearer than the sky, that we were to remain here during the night,
and there was no friendly Colonel within reach to rescue me from my
lodgings. But it struck me that there must be some resource. The curate
appeared to be the only chance, so to his house I wended my way, and
entered with the customary “Ave Maria” upon my lips. He was swinging in
his hammock. I introduced myself to him at once; described the
deplorable state of the Casa-real, and solicited his influence in
obtaining us more comfortable quarters. He received me very kindly, and
promised to do all in his power to make me comfortable; and right well
he kept his word. A bottle of “Abenaro,” a peculiar liquor of the
country, and its accompaniment of cigars, were speedily sent for; and,
in much less time than it requires to partake of either, I discovered
that I was at home, at the house of my friend, the curate of Tuncax.

A long and animated conversation followed, which, I only recollect, was
poorly understood by either, in consequence of the small amount of words
which we comprehended in common. It was, mainly, of a political cast;
politics being the subject in which he appeared to take most interest.

The curate was a young man, who, compared with many of his order in the
country, had devoted much time to study. He has possessed the curacy for
the last four years; but, if one may draw conclusions from things
around, it is not a very lucrative situation.

Everything in the vicinity indicated extreme poverty; and I felt some
embarrassment in asking to see his church and its nakedness. This,
however, was happily obviated by a polite invitation, on his part, to
conduct me through it. So, putting on his black velvet and silk, and
mounting a curious high-peaked hat, and taking his telescope in his
hand, he led the way over the broken stone floors, and along the dark
damp halls, to the edifice.

As we entered, he remarked that it was poor. Indeed, that was plainly
impressed upon everything in and about it. It had not even cleanliness
and order to relieve its appearance. We passed through it, and ascended,
by a flight of stone steps on the outside, to the roof, where, by the
aid of the telescope, we had a fine view of the surrounding country.

On returning, my kind host made such immediate and complete arrangements
for our accommodation, as guarantied to my _ménage_ not only comfort,
but some degree of splendor. On reaching the house that had been made
ready for our reception, my friend, the curate, informed me that it was
mine, and desired me to call for whatever I wished. The saddlebags and
hammock were sent for, and everything was soon in a comfortable
condition. The table was supplied with refreshments, and ornamented with
large earthen cups of cool water, on the surface of which full-blown red
roses were floating. The garden attached to my house, which I supposed,
of course, was included in the gift, was fragrant with ripe oranges, and
other delicious fruits. Besides all these, a whole troop of Indians were
in attendance, to await my behests. There stands the Casa-real, our
deserted hovel, just across the way. These sudden changes absolutely
require nerve.

Between the kindness of the curate, the company of a civil dignitary of
the town, and two other citizens, as guests, and a supper, which, I
flatter myself, I was fully prepared to appreciate, served up with the
unusual luxury of knives and forks, I contrived to pass one of the most
agreeable evenings that I had enjoyed since my departure from home.

At three o’clock on the following morning, we made ready to leave. The
church was already lighted up, and the worthy curate at his post. At
four we were in our saddles, and were soon making our way upon the road.
The sky was clear and bright. The moon was half gone, throwing a sombre
light upon all things around us. The green bushes by the road-side
looked black; and the bleached wood of the rude crosses, erected at the
pathway entrances to the haciendas, appeared forlorn and startling.

We met with but one living thing upon the road, and that was the
mail-carrier. Neither the trampling of horses, nor the sound of horn,
heralded his approach; but the clamping sounds of his wooden sandals, as
they struck upon the stony road, gave us the first notice that he was
near. The mail was contained in a small box, held by a strap, which
passed round the head of the carrier, who was an Indian.

At eight o’clock we arrived at Sitax, the prettiest town we had seen;
where we stopped for breakfast and to obtain a horse, that of José
having given out. As I strolled about the place, I noticed a more marked
appearance of order than was generally to be seen in the other towns. At
the house of an old Indian I saw an earthen vase, something of the
Etruscan shape, which he told me had been found among some of the
ancient ruins in this province. He used it as an incense-burner; and
refused to sell, or even to set a price upon it. Money is not omnipotent
with these Indians, as in most civilized countries; and this prostration
of the divinity almost startled me.

On returning to the Casa-real, breakfast and an alcalde were sent for.
Both came. The former consisted of the almost undeviating course—eggs,
tortillas, and frejoles; and the latter, of a strapping big Indian,
barefooted, bearing his staff of office, and accompanied by one of his
aids. My wants were soon explained; and he immediately despatched his
aid, who brought an Indian that agreed to carry José and luggage to
Valladolid, eight leagues, for the sum of half a dollar. The bargain was
concluded, and the money paid in advance, as is always customary among
the natives. This demand must be complied with uniformly. Even the women
who wash clothes require a _medio_ in advance, to buy soap.

The luggage was lashed to the back of a mule, and we were again upon the
road. Several stops were made by the way, to visit haciendas and
ranchos, (grain and cattle farms;) but little of interest occurred upon
our journey. We arrived at the town of Tinum at two o’clock. The sun
being excessively hot, we waited till evening. The Casa-real in this, as
in other towns of the province, was the loafering-place of the Indians.
They were squatted about in the shade, silent and motionless, killing
time to the best of their abilities. At four o’clock we again betook
ourselves to the road, and passing through several inconsiderable Indian
towns, arrived at Valladolid at dusk on the fourth day of February,
distance one hundred and twenty miles from Merida.

For the greater part of the way from Isamal to this city, the road is
level, though somewhat rough. As we drew near to Valladolid, gentle
risings were more common at intervals, particularly near the sonatos.
Although this road commences at the capital, and leads through all the
principal cities and towns of the interior, it is but little travelled.
No wheel carriages, of any description, were seen. Transportation is
mostly effected by mules—perhaps I should say, by Indians; many of whom
were met upon the road with heavy packages secured upon their backs, and
held by plaited ropes passed around the head in the usual manner.

After a fatiguing day’s journey, we reined up in the square of the city,
before the Casa-real, and dismounted. I discovered, however, before
entering, that it was full; and, upon inquiry, ascertained that it was
occupied by prisoners, who were detained there while their usual place
was undergoing repairs. This sort of association not being altogether
agreeable to me, we remounted, and went in quest of a countryman, who I
heard was residing here. Successful, after much inquiry, in finding him,
my name, the object of my visit to Valladolid, &c., were all
communicated to him in due form; but somehow Mr. Stephens, who had been
daily expected here for the last two months, had got into the head of my
new acquaintance, as I afterwards learned, and, in his confusion, he had
mistaken me for that celebrated traveller, and led me, without my being
aware of the misconception, to the house of a friend who had been long
advised of that gentleman’s approach. I was met by the polite and
hospitable owner of the house, and invited to walk in, while orders were
given to have care taken of the horses. But, mistrusting that all was
not right, I halted at the threshold, and requested a parley. It was
only with a considerable degree of earnestness that I was enabled to
convince him that I was neither Mr. Stephens nor the _Medico_,
(alluding, probably, to Dr. Cabot, one of the companions of Mr.
Stephens.) The amiable lady and her daughter were quite amused at the
incident, and seemed rather to enjoy my embarrassment than otherwise. I
drew off, and followed my countryman to his quarters, where I was kindly
entertained for the night. This was rather a laughable circumstance; but
I congratulated myself that we came to an understanding in time to
prevent its becoming ludicrous.

    [Illustration: A ROAD SIDE.]


                               CHAPTER V.

Festival of the Purification—A Factory Discovered—New
  Quarters—Appearance of Public Buildings—Church—Singular Display of
  Taste—Population and Health—The Town—Its Suburbs—Monastic
  Ruins—Remarkable Sonato—Amusements—The Riband Dance—The Market
  Place—Cotton—Ancient Ruins—Difficulties of Strangers—A
  Norther—Kaua—The Churlish Curate—End of a Feast—The Route—Approach to
  Chi-Chen—A Glimpse of the Ruins.

Travelling gear was now thrown aside, the toilet consulted, and in a few
moments I was in a procession in honor of the “Purification of the Holy
Virgin,” with head uncovered, as devout a Catholic as could be met
within the precincts of the Vatican, or, at least, within the
congregation about me, if I might be permitted to judge from the
appendix to their devotional exercises on the present occasion. The men,
women, and children, as soon as they had concluded these ceremonies
here, started in a body, with a revolting precipitation, to the gaming
tables, which had been set forth in the ruins of an old convent
adjoining the sanctuary where the procession had just been dissolved!
Here were found all classes of society, male and female. The highest
ecclesiastical and civil dignitaries were there, hob and nob, with the
most common of the multitude. The ladies generally interested themselves
in the games, and sometimes played deep. They were, most of them,
good-looking, and tastefully dressed; but they quite stared me out of
countenance. I doubtless appeared as strange to them, as they and their
customs did to me. I contrived, however, to survive their scrutiny.
After lounging about the long corridors where the company was assembled,
observing and being observed for two hours, and feeling fatigued, not
only with the scenes around, but with the day’s ride, I hastened to my
quarters, and the quiet of the pillow.

Awaking at an early hour in the morning, the sounds of a steam-engine
greeted my ear. No music ever thrilled me with so much delight. For a
moment I dreamed that I was in the land of the workingman, and within
the charmed circle of his ministrations. On looking out, however, in the
direction whence the noise proceeded, I noticed a cotton factory in a
neighboring street. I need not say that it became the very first object
of my curiosity.

The proprietor of this establishment, to whom I had letters, is a
gentleman of the old school, well informed and communicative; and,
withal, a liberal man. He was a native of Spain; in his early years was
attached to the navy of that kingdom; and, among other things in his
eventful life, was at the battle of Trafalgar. Since he has resided in
Yucatan he has been its governor, and held many other high and
responsible stations, and is now esteemed one of its most valuable
citizens. His attentions to me, during my stay, were as real as they
were unremitting. He informed me that the factory was established by
himself, in connexion with others, in 1834. The engine, looms, &c., were
brought from New-York, and transported across the country, from the port
of Sisal to this place, in wagons imported for the purpose. It was an
arduous as well as a very expensive undertaking. The proprietor has
overcome many obstacles which he had to encounter at the commencement of
his enterprise, and is now successfully established, with a very fair
business. His was the first, and is still the only one in the country. I
found it in complete order, and conducted upon the most liberal scale,
yielding to those employed more than double the amount of wages usually
paid in this state. The building was of the most durable stone; two
stories high, forty-five by seventy-five feet, and with an arched roof,
supported by strong butments. The style of the arched roof is common to
this country, owing to the absence of large timber. The ground it
occupies, including the out-houses, is about one hundred and fifty by
two hundred feet. The first floor contains the looms, twenty in number;
and the second, a thousand spindles, with a picker and gin. It turns out
four hundred yards of cloth per day, of a uniform medium quality, of a
strong texture, which is considered superior to either the American or
the English of the same class. It employs fifty men, principally of the
half-breeds, who are paid by the piece. The cost of the building and
machinery was upwards of forty thousand dollars.

The traveller, in this country, is often subjected to the unpleasant
necessity of thrusting himself upon the civility of the inhabitants of
the towns he visits, owing to the almost total absence of public houses,
and the miserable condition of many of the Casa-reals; but foreign
visiters are seldom here, so that the kindnesses I have thus far
experienced, appear to be tendered with the utmost cheerfulness. The
people do not feel the presence of a guest to be irksome; and, whatever
may be said of their characters, the want of hospitality to strangers
cannot be charged against them.

The kind friend to whom I have alluded, procured for me comfortable
quarters in an unoccupied building in the square, of which I at once
took possession. It is situated in front of the church, and adjoins the
curate’s house, which is tenanted by himself and his three or four
_femmes propres à tout_, and fifteen or sixteen children, who are taught
to call him father.

The square itself is a fine one; or, rather, there is room for a fine
one; but, like most other fine squares in the towns I have visited, is
destitute of style or decoration. The public buildings, which are the
town-house, of two stories, with low pillared arches, and the church,
are all that strike the eye of the stranger; the others are comprised of
some few one-story dwelling houses and stores, with huge doors and
barred windows, occupied by citizens and small dealers. The area of this
square serves as a market-place, and a pasture for mules to graze!

The church presents a neat appearance from without, and is one of the
very handsomest buildings I had seen in the country. It is of stone,
covered with a yellow stucco. The door lintels and arches are of carved
stone; it has two square turrets, in good keeping, and is set off with a
well-proportioned dome. There are some irregularities, however; but
these are not seen, except from particular points of observation. The
interior of this, as of most of the churches in the province, is in a
bad condition; its decorations are in barbarous taste, and its shrines
defaced. Its exterior impresses one with an idea of its vastness; but,
on entering, it appears diminutive. This is owing to the great depth of
the walls, of this and similar buildings throughout Yucatan, which are
frequently from twelve to fifteen feet thick. At the entrance is a
shrine, representing our Saviour bearing his cross, assisted by the
figure of a man in tight shorts, of the old English style, and coat to
match. The hat worn by the adjutant was not absolutely bad, but in
shocking bad taste. It was a silk imitation beaver; being one of those
high, bell-crowned narrow-rims, of the style worn some fifteen or twenty
years ago. This was probably intended for “Simon of Cyrene.” The
incumbent of this curacy has a large income, which, it is said, he has
enjoyed for many years, without having ever entered the walls of his

The number of inhabitants of Valladolid and its suburbs, is estimated at
about fifteen thousand. The place is noted throughout the peninsula for
the salubrity of its climate; and no better evidence need be adduced,
than the simple fact of there not being a single doctor or apothecary in
the whole district. Citizens from other parts of the province, less
favored, come here to recruit and to recover their health.

The streets are well laid out, and clean; but grass grows in the centre
of the most frequented. The same style of building is observed here as
in other parts of this country that I have visited. The houses are
principally of one story, flat roofs, large doors, and barred windows;
with court-yards, stone and mortar floors, &c. Many large houses in the
chief streets, within sight of the square, were fast going to decay.

There are no societies, or private or public places of instruction or
amusement. This is singular, when it is considered that the native
inhabitants speak of their _noble_ city, as they term it, with great
pride, and call themselves the _élite_ of Yucatan. This point I am not
prepared to dispute. It is certain, however, that the city, or its
society, presents few evidences of the schoolmaster having been abroad
among them.

The suburbs, or “barrios” as they are locally called, are five in
number; each having a church and its attendant priest. The population,
with a very few exceptions, is composed of poor Indians, the major part
of whom, of both sexes, go habitually _in puris naturalibus_, or nearly
so; living in mean huts, and supporting large and expensive churches;
while they themselves appear to be contented to subsist alone upon corn
and water.

In the barrio Sisal is the ruin of an old convent. Its crumbling walls
tell of changes that are slowly developing themselves in the civilized
world. It was an immense structure in its time, covering a space of two
acres, enclosed within a high stone wall; and remains a painful monument
of the mighty power which the order of Loyola, its original proprietors,
once exercised upon the destinies of this country. All that is now left
is the church, and the house of the priest. The cloisters, corridors,
and squares, are all fast going to pieces; and fragments of them are
lying about in every direction. Its spacious halls are now the abode of
the poor Indian, who aspires to a portion of the hallowed influence
which is reputed to hang around its dilapidated walls. The crumbling
turrets and blackened domes are covered with a wild vegetation, and have
become a perch for the buzzard, and the hiding-place for loathsome
reptiles. One of the wells connected with the monastery is dug through a
solid rock to the depth of one hundred and fifty feet, when it opens
upon a subterraneous river of pure water. In former times, a handsome
temple was erected over it; the remains of a part of its dome still
exist. There are not many pleasing associations connected with these

The other barrios have nothing of interest. They are thickly populated
by the listless natives, who, as usual, live in their small huts,
constructed with poles and mud. Nothing was to be observed like thrift
or industry. They were the most wretched specimen of human beings that I
saw in the country. The churches, too, like all things else around them,
are growing old. Literally, every thing appears to be left here to take
care of itself. The roads in the vicinity are narrow, broken, rocky
pathways for mules.

During my walks about the city I came to a sonato, reputed to be the
largest in the province, supposed to be a portion of a subterraneous
river; and caused, as I judged, by some great convulsion of nature. It
presents a fine spectacle, resembling the mouth of a cavern, with its
overhanging rocks and broken fragments left or worn away into the shape
of inverted cones. Evidently, it was once hidden; and when or how it
effected an opening, no one hereabouts can tell. All that the Indian
knows is, that it affords him an abundant and good supply of water. The
average depth of the water is twelve fathoms; while the distance from
its surface to the surface of the ground above, is full fifty feet. The
well itself has no perceptible outlet, and is about fifty feet in
circumference. The surrounding rocks are principally calcareous, with a
silicious intermixture. These sonatos are held in superstitious
reverence by the Indians. They are reputed to be the places where most
of their religious legends had their origin.

    [Illustration: SONATO near VALLADOLID.]

The Indians and Mestizos here still hold on to some of the old customs
and amusements of their forefathers, upon which they pride themselves.
Among the latter, that of dancing appears to be most popular in
Valladolid, and usually takes place every fair evening, during the
festivals, in or near one of the squares. Around the place designated
for the entertainment, as I frequently observed, were placed benches for
the dancing-girls, who arrange themselves in a row, separated from the
crowd. They are chosen in regular rotation, and led out to dance. Their
toilet was of the olden time, but it set off their plain features and
low stature to good advantage. Their head-gear was a black silk hat, of
the style usually worn by gentlemen, with gold and silver bands,
intermixed with roses and long plumes of feathers; and their rich black
hair, neatly braided, hung down the back, and almost swept the ground.
The dress consisted of a loose white garment, suspended gracefully from
the shoulders, ornamented at the top and bottom with various colored
needlework, and white silk stockings and shoes—the whole beautiful and
chaste. They danced with much skill and taste. The men wore shirts and
trousers made of calico, with sash and blanket. The latter article is
thrown over the shoulder, and carried with a grace which one looks for
in vain out of Mexico. The sight was altogether enchanting; and I
imagined for the moment that I beheld before me the royal abundance and
Indian simplicity of the court of Montezuma.

The three days of masquerade before lent, (Ash-Wednesday,) commenced on
Sunday, the sixth of February. The riband, or pole dance, among the
masqueraders, excited the most attention. A pole, about twenty feet
long, was raised perpendicularly, from the top of which were fastened
fifteen or twenty pieces of wide, variously-colored ribands. Each
dancer, laying hold of a piece and extending it, formed a wide circle
around the pole. The dancing commenced at a given signal, all joining.
They crossed each other with the greatest precision, and in such order
as to form a beautiful lattice or network with the ribands, until they
were wound up. The figure then suddenly changes, and the ribands, by a
reverse movement, are unwound. This they continue until they are tired.
The evenings of the three days were finished by balls at the house of
some one of the citizens, where the most respectable part of the
population was to be seen.

The market-places of the interior, generally, present a singular
appearance to the eye of a stranger. The sellers are principally
Indians, squatted about upon the ground, with small pieces of meat laid
out in piles, and vegetables displayed in the same manner, upon benches
beside them, in the public square. The currency, of _cacao_ seed, is
also counted out in small parcels, ready to make change to customers.
The market-place is vacated at an early hour in the morning by both
customers and venders, to be occupied, for the remainder of the day, by
turkey-buzzards and dogs; which are suffered to legislate upon,
negotiate for, and try as best they may, any disputed claims which may
arise to the property left behind by their predecessors of the morning.

The country in the vicinity of Valladolid is much broken and rocky, and
carries unequivocal indications of earthquakes and convulsions. The soil
is very thin, but good crops of corn are taken from it. The fruit-trees
of the tropics are abundant, and yet no attention is paid to their
cultivation, either for use or for ornament.

The cotton plantations, or rather the districts where the material is
raised that is consumed in the manufactory in this city, are to the
north, and known as the “Tizimin district.” The same spot is seldom
cultivated for two successive seasons. After the crop is gathered, the
ground is suffered to be overrun with weeds and brushwood; which, when
years have elapsed, are cut down and burnt, and the field is re-planted.
Cotton here is not in classification; it is gathered and sold in the
seed, and ranges from ten to fifteen cents per pound. It is generally
superior, both in texture and color; but the indolence of the natives,
and other causes, will prevent the extensive cultivation of that article
for many years to come.

I learned, during my sojourn here, that there were many interesting
places, further to the east, worthy the attention of the
stranger—ancient buildings, and even cities—some as far east as the
island of Cozumel. I also heard of ruins in the neighborhood of
Chi-Chen, which, for reasons that need not be mentioned, I concluded to
visit first. The owner of this hacienda, which is situated about eleven
leagues to the west-south-west from this city, resides here. Having
learned my intentions, he not only very generously offered me the use of
his house, which is near to the ruins, but sent his major-domo to have
it prepared for my reception.

On the morning of the eighth of February, after again experiencing the
instability and fickleness of the natives, and that apathy and indolence
proverbially characteristic of them, I succeeded, through the aid of my
friend, in securing a guide and horse to conduct us thither. The Indian,
who is the traveller’s sole reliance, as previously remarked, in all
kinds of menial service, can hardly be induced to work, unless from the
necessity of supplying his own immediate wants, or under the orders of
the alcalde, to whom strangers are often obliged to apply for assistance
in compelling these indolent people to assist them. In such a case, the
aggrieved party enters his complaint to the alcalde, stating that he has
endeavored to hire an Indian, but that he refuses. The Indian is then
sent for, and his reasons for declining heard: if not satisfactory, and
they seldom are, he is commanded to attend the traveller, and the amount
of his compensation fixed at the time. The penalty for disobedience is
imprisonment, which, however, is seldom incurred.

We were upon the road at an early hour, but had not proceeded far before
we experienced “a norther” of rain and wind—a kind of tempest peculiar
to these regions, and exceedingly annoying. We stopped at an Indian’s
hut for shelter; but the dilapidated state of the walls offered so
insufficient a protection from the elements, that I soon concluded to
make headway under their fury, and to endeavor to reach the town of
Kaua, where we expected to find a good retreat. The ride over the
slippery rocks was slow and hazardous, but at three o’clock we reached
the long looked-for place, where we had pictured to ourselves so much
happiness in the change of clothes and comfortable lodgings. How
fallacious, sometimes, are our brightest anticipations! On arriving at
the Casa-real, (the traveller’s first hope,) every thing was found to be
comfortless and forbidding. Our clothes were drenched, and the storm
continued unabated.

The curate was the next resort; he lived close by. So, dripping with the
rain, and trembling with cold, we went to his house, and gave such a
shivering knock, that it might have denoted our pitiable condition
without the necessity of words to explain it. After some delay, a short,
thick-set, gray-headed old man came to the door, inquiring, rather
gruffly, what was wanted? A single glance might have told him; but we,
however, verbally stated our situation, and requested his advice. All we
could obtain from him in answer was, “Nadie, Nadie!”—with such an
emphatic and significant shrug, that I was sure he had practised it all
his life. I left as I had entered, rather coolly. Slightly scanning his
room, however, I observed, in a corner, a table covered with broken
pieces of cups, the floor filled with old chairs, books, &c., and dirt
in abundance. I had little difficulty in believing the grapes were sour.
I pocketed my ungracious reception as well as might be, and returned
through the streets to the Casa-real, partly to see of what sort of
people this _pious_ churl, to whom I was a stranger, and who took me not
in, was the Corypheus, and partly to get an idea of the topography of
the place. I found my home had much improved by my absence. I was now in
a state of mind to look at it with far greater satisfaction than when I
left it. We built a huge fire upon the floor, warmed ourselves, and
dried our clothes; and over our supper, that we had just bought of the
Indians, decided, that it was better to submit to the evils that we
already had, than “to fly to others that we knew not of.”

Only one white man was seen in the place, and it is questionable whether
he were so all the way through. He was the curate, of whose tender
mercies I had received so refreshing a specimen.

In my walk, I witnessed a scene which was calculated to excite both pity
and disgust. In front of the church were collected some forty or fifty
drunken Indians, with the log drum and other uncouth instruments,
including their voices, making up with discordant and hideous noises a
celebration of the last day of the masquerade. One of the prime actors
in this revel eventually became so affected by the liquor he had drunk,
that he became decidedly mad—striking about him and raving furiously.
His companions were obliged to secure him by ropes, and have him carried
to his hut.

By eight o’clock on the following day, I was mounted and on the route.
The roads were somewhat more passable, though the same rocky surface,
with occasional rises, was encountered. I observed one sugar-plantation
on my way; the cane, which was then nearly ready to be cut, looked very

As I approached Chi-Chen, and while not more than four or five miles
distant, I observed the roadside was strewn with columns, large hewn
stones, &c., overgrown with bushes and long grass. On our arrival, at
noon, we were most cordially received by the major-domo at the hacienda:
the horses were taken into good keeping, and I was conducted to quarters
which had been prepared in anticipation of my coming. These were in the
church near by, in that part which is known to us as the vestry-room;
and a very comfortable room I found too for my purposes.

This church stands upon a rise of land that over-looks the country for a
considerable distance around, embracing the hacienda, and, probably, the
most remarkable ruins the world has ever known. I found the major-domo
as unremitting in his attentions as if he had been made for me
expressly. The eighty Indians attached to the hacienda, the house and
all its contents, as he assured me, were mine. I ought to be comfortable
and happy. This, and the surrounding attractions, offered every facility
for repose. There never could be found a more delightful place for
dreaming life away in a state of irresponsible vegetation than the one
now presented to me. The climate—the example and behavior of Nature
about me—almost tempted me to abandon myself to the enchantment of its
charming indolence.

I cast my travelling equipments aside, and, delighted with the
attentions showered upon me, and which I am happy to say were the
harbingers of an unremitting series from my host, I proceeded to the
house for breakfast. Entering through a well-formed arch, built of
stone, smooth plastered, I passed into a large cattle-yard, which was
divided into three parts by stone walls, (in this manner the whole
premises were enclosed,) and ascended a small flight of steps that were
carried over a long and well-cemented watering-trough for the
accommodation of cattle, which extended the whole length of the front.
On reaching the corridor, the walls and floor presented to me a singular
appearance. Here was an odd and startling figure—the god, perhaps, of a
forgotten people; and there a beautiful rosette: and even beneath my
feet were pieces of carved stone and hieroglyphics that seemed as though
they were striving to make me understand the story of their wonderful
beginning. Within reach of the eye were to be seen the fragments and
ornaments of pillars that once, possibly, embellished the palace of a
proud cacique, stuck into the rude wall of the poor Indian’s hut! Lost
in meditation, I was soliloquizing to myself upon the transitory nature
of all human greatness, when I was suddenly aroused by stumbling over a
huge—heap of beans! This brought me back at once to the world of
reality, and to my welcome breakfast. This meal was served upon a clean
stool; and, seated in a hammock, I made a hearty repast.

My house was one-story, built of stone from the ruins in the vicinity,
with spacious corridors in front and rear. It had but four rooms, which
served for an eating and sleeping room, granary, &c. At the side of the
building was a deep well, to which the Indians and cattle look for their
drink. The water is drawn up by means of buckets, attached by twigs to a
plaited strap of the same material, passed around a cylinder, which is
turned by a mule. In the revolutions, the buckets are emptied into
reservoirs; and thence the water is led off by conductors to the
different places where it is required. A few vegetables were growing
about the premises; but little or no cultivation was perceptible. Fruits
of the tropics, here, as elsewhere in this province, grow in abundance.
I proceeded to the ruins almost immediately after my arrival; but their
description must be reserved for another chapter.

The favorable anticipations respecting the comforts of my quarters were
fully confirmed. Though the furnishing was somewhat unique, still I
found myself comfortably domicileiated. A huge stone altar stood at one
extremity of the room, upon which rested a cross, with curiously painted
devices of sculls, boxes, ladders, knives, cocks, temples, flags, &c.,
the whole capped with the expressive initials of I N R I. On either side
stood small boxes, containing dolls, representing saints, &c. In the
corner of the room were sundry pieces of carved wood, exhibiting the
figure of our Saviour crucified. The sides were filled up with tables
and platforms, to carry the saints on, in the processions. Numerous
wooden candlesticks were scattered about, hither and yond, intermingled
with hammocks, riding equipments, &c.


                              CHAPTER VI.

A visit to the Ruins—Reflections—Indian Visiters—Detail of the Ruins of
  Chi-Chen—The Temple—The Pyramid—The Dome—The House of the
  Caciques—General Ruins—Mounds—Foundations—Characteristics of the
  Ruins—Materials and Manner of Building—The finish—Fresco paintings.

    [Illustration: _Plan of the Ruins of_ CHI-CHEN]

It was on the morning of the 10th of February that I directed my steps,
for the first time, toward the ruins of the ancient city of CHI-CHEN.[4]
On arriving in the immediate neighborhood, I was compelled to cut my way
through an almost impermeable thicket of under-brush, interlaced and
bound together with strong tendrils and vines; in which labor I was
assisted by my diligent aid and companion, José. I was finally enabled
to effect a passage; and, in the course of a few hours, found myself in
the presence of the ruins which I sought. For five days did I wander up
and down among these crumbling monuments of a city which, I hazard
little in saying, must have been one of the largest the world has ever
seen. I beheld before me, for a circuit of many miles in diameter, the
walls of palaces and temples and pyramids, more or less dilapidated. The
earth was strewed, as far as the eye could distinguish, with columns,
some broken and some nearly perfect, which seemed to have been planted
there by the genius of desolation which presided over this awful
solitude. Amid these solemn memorials of departed generations, who have
died and left no marks but these, there were no indications of animated
existence save from the bats, the lizards, and the reptiles which now
and then emerged from the crevices of the tottering walls and crumbling
stones that were strewed upon the ground at their base. No marks of
human footsteps, no signs of previous visiters, were discernible; nor is
there good reason to believe that any person, whose testimony of the
fact has been given to the world, had ever before broken the silence
which reigns over these sacred tombs of a departed civilization. As I
looked about me and indulged in these reflections, I felt awed into
perfect silence. To speak then, had been profane. A revelation from
heaven could not have impressed me more profoundly with the solemnity of
its communication, than I was now impressed on finding myself the first,
probably, of the present generation of civilized men walking the streets
of this once mighty city, and amid

             “Those temples, palaces, and piles stupendous,
             Of which the very ruins are tremendous.”

For a long time I was so distracted with the multitude of objects which
crowded upon my mind, that I could take no note of them in detail. It
was not until some hours had elapsed, that my curiosity was sufficiently
under control to enable me to examine them with any minuteness. The
Indians for many leagues around, hearing of my arrival, came to visit me
daily; but the object of my toil was quite beyond their comprehension.
They watched my every motion, occasionally looking up to each other with
an air of unfeigned astonishment; but whether to gather an explanation
from the faces of their neighbors, or to express their contempt for my
proceedings, I have permitted myself to remain in doubt up to this day.
Of the builders or occupants of these edifices which were in ruins about
them, they had not the slightest idea; nor did the question seem to have
ever occurred to them before. After the most careful search, I could
discover no traditions, no superstitions, nor legends of any kind. Time
and foreign oppression had paralyzed, among this unfortunate people,
those organs which have been ordained by the God of nations to transfer
history into tradition. All communication with the past here seems to
have been cut off. Nor did any allusion to their ancestry, or to the
former occupants of these mighty palaces and monumental temples, produce
the slightest thrill through the memories of even the oldest Indians in
the vicinity. Defeated in my anticipations from this quarter, I
addressed myself at once to the only course of procedure which was
likely to give me any solution of the solemn mystery. I determined to
devote myself to a careful examination of these ruins in detail.


    [Illustration: Indian knife and sheath.]

My first study was made at the ruins of the TEMPLE.[5] These remains
consist, as will be seen by reference to the engraving, of four distinct
walls. I entered at an opening in the western angle, which I conceived
to be the main entrance; and presumed, from the broken walls, ceilings,
and pillars still standing, that the opposite end had been the location
of the shrine or altar. The distance between these two extremes is four
hundred and fifty feet. The walls stand upon an elevated foundation of
about sixteen feet. Of the entrance, or western end, about one-half
remains; the interior showing broken rooms, and ceilings not entirely
defaced. The exterior is composed of large stones, beautifully hewn, and
laid in fillet and moulding work. The opposite, or altar end, consists
of similar walls, but has two sculptured pillars, much defaced by the
falling ruins—six feet only remaining in view above them. These pillars
measure about two feet in diameter. The walls are surrounded with masses
of sculptured and hewn stone, broken columns, and ornaments, which had
fallen from the walls themselves, and which are covered with a rank and
luxuriant vegetation, and even with trees, through which I was obliged
to cut my way with my Indian knife. In the rear of the pillars are the
remains of a room, the back ceilings only existing; sufficient, however,
to show that they were of rare workmanship.

The southern, or right-hand wall, as you enter, is in the best state of
preservation, the highest part of which, yet standing, is about fifty
feet; where, also, the remains of rooms are still to be seen. The other
parts, on either side, are about twenty-six feet high, two hundred and
fifty long, and sixteen thick; and about one hundred and thirty apart.
The interior, or inner surface of these walls, is quite perfect, finely
finished with smooth stone, cut uniformly in squares of about two feet.
About the centre of these walls, on both sides, near the top, are placed
stone rings, carved from an immense block, and inserted in the wall by a
long shaft, and projecting from it about four feet. They measure about
four feet in diameter, and two in thickness—the sides beautifully

    [Illustration: Decoration]

The extreme ends of the side-walls are about equidistant from those of
the shrine and entrance. The space intervening is filled up with stones
and rubbish of walls, showing a connexion in the form of a curve. In the
space formed by these walls are piles of stones, evidently being a part
of them; but there were not enough of them, however, to carry out the
supposition that this vast temple had ever been enclosed. At the outer
base of the southern wall are the remains of a room; one side of which,
with the angular ceiling, is quite perfect; measuring fourteen feet long
and six wide. The parts remaining are finished with sculptured blocks of
stone of about one foot square, representing Indian figures with feather
head-dresses, armed with bows and arrows, their noses ornamented with
rings; carrying in one hand bows and arrows, and in the other a musical
instrument similar to those that are now used by the Indians of the
country. These figures were interspersed with animals resembling the
crocodile. Near this room I found a square, pillar, only five feet of
which remained above the ruins. It was carved on all sides with Indian
figures, as large as life, and apparently in warlike attitudes.
Fragments of a similar kind were scattered about in the vicinity.

    [Illustration: THE TEMPLE, CHI-CHEN RUINS.]

From this room, or base, I passed round, and ascended over vast piles of
the crumbling ruins, pulling myself up by the branches of trees, with
which they are covered, to the top of the wall; where I found a
door-way, filled up with stones and rubbish, which I removed, and, after
much labor, effected an entrance into a room measuring eight by
twenty-four feet; the ceiling of which was of the acute-angled arch, and
perfected by layers of flat stones. The walls were finely finished with
square blocks of stone, which had been richly ornamented. Even yet the
heads of Indians, with shields and lances, could be distinguished in the

The square pillars of the door-way are carved with Indians, flowers,
borders, and spear-heads; all of which I judged to have once been
colored. The lintel, which supported the top, is of the zuporte[6] wood,
beautifully carved, and in good preservation. One of the Indian
head-dresses was composed of a cap and flowers.

Immediately in front of the door-way is a portion of a column, to which
neither cap nor base was attached. It measured about three feet in
diameter, with its whole surface sculptured; but it was so obliterated
by time, that the lines could not be traced. Four feet of its length
only could be discovered. It was, evidently, imbedded in the ruins to a
great depth. Numerous blocks of square hewn stones, and others,
variously and beautifully carved, were lying in confusion near this

Of the exterior of these walls, a sufficient portion still exists to
show the fine and elaborate workmanship of the cornices and
entablatures, though the latter are much broken and defaced. They are
composed of immense blocks of stone, laid with the greatest regularity
and precision, the façades of which are interspersed with flowers,
borders, and animals.

    [Illustration: THE PYRAMID, CHI-CHEN RUINS.]

From this portion of the ruins I cut my way, through a dense mass of
trees and vegetation, to the eastern extremity of the walls, the top of
which was much dilapidated, and obstructed with occasional piles of
broken and hewn stone. On my return, I descended to, and walked along
the outside base of the wall to the rear of the shrine, and over immense
blocks of hewn and carved stone, some of which were, no doubt, the
butments of altar walls; as similar blocks were near here appropriated
to such purposes.

I returned by the outside of the northern wall. The whole distance was
filled up with heaps of ruins, overgrown with trees and vines; through
which I cleared my way with the greatest difficulty.

From the temple I proceeded to THE PYRAMID, a few rods to the south. It
was a majestic pile; measuring at its base about five hundred and fifty
feet, with its sides facing the cardinal points. The angles and sides
were beautifully laid with stones of an immense size, gradually
lessening, as the work approached the summit or platform.

On the east and north sides are flights of small stone steps, thirty
feet wide at the base, and narrowing as they ascend. Those of the south
and west are carried up by gradations resembling steps, each about four
feet in height, but are more dilapidated than those upon which the steps
are constructed.

The bases were piled up with ruins, and overgrown with a rank grass and
vines; and it was only after great labor that I was enabled to reach the
side facing the east. Here I found two square stones of an enormous
size, partly buried in the ruins, which I cleared away. They were
plainly carved, representing some monster with wide extended jaws, with
rows of teeth and a protruding tongue. These stones, from their
position, were evidently the finish to the base of the steps.

    [Illustration: THE DOME, CHI-CHEN RUINS.]

On this side I ascended the fallen and broken steps, through bushes and
trees, with which they were partly covered to the summit, one hundred
feet. Here I found a terrace or platform, in the centre of which is a
square building, one hundred and seventy feet at its base, and twenty
feet high. The eastern side of this supplementary structure contains a
room twelve by eighteen feet, having two square pillars eight feet high,
supporting an angular roof upon strong beams of zuporte wood, the stone
and wood being both carved. The sides of the door-ways, and their
lintels, are of the same material, and ornamented in the same style.
Fronting this room is a corridor supported by two round pillars, three
feet in diameter and four in height, standing upon a stone base of two
feet; both of which are surmounted with large capitals, hewn or broken
in such a manner that no architectural design can now be traced. The
sides of these pillars were wrought with figures and lines, which are
now quite obliterated. The door-sides of these rooms are built of large
square stones, similar to those of the Temple, with the difference of
having holes drilled through the inner angles, which were worn smooth,
and apparently enlarged by use. The other sides contain rooms and halls
in tolerable preservation, having the same form of roofs supported by
zuporte wood. These rooms and halls are plastered with a superior
finish, and shadowy painted figures are still perceptible. The exterior
of the building had been built of fine hewn and uniform blocks of stone,
with entablatures of a superior order, and projecting cornices. I could
find no access to the top but by the pillars, and by cutting steps in
the stone and mortar of the broken edge of the façade, by which, and the
aid of bushes, I reached the summit. I found it perfectly level, and one
of its corners broken and tumbling down. The whole was covered with a
deep soil, in which trees and grass were growing in profusion. From this
height I enjoyed a magnificent _coup-d’œil_ of all the ruins, and the
vast plain around them. I planted a staff upon the summit, with a flag
attached, to float upon the breeze, and after much reflection and
speculation, with which I do not intend to trouble my readers, I made my
way down again, as surveyors say, “to the place of beginning,” at a much
more rapid rate than I ascended.

Unlike most similar structures in Egypt, whose “primeval race had run
ere antiquity had begun,” this pyramid does not culminate at the top, as
I have already observed. Pococke has described one, however, at
Sak-hara, similar to this, which is the only one of which I have ever
heard. The solidity of the structure of the pyramid at Chi-Chen, the
harmony and grandeur of its architecture, must impress every one with an
exalted idea of the mechanical skill, and the numbers of those by whom
it was originally constructed, and like its _elder_ (?) brethren in
Egypt, so long as it stands, it must remain a monumental protest of an
oppressed people against the ill-directed ambition and tyranny of those
rulers at whose command it was built.

About the centre of the ruins of the city is THE DOME, to which I made
my way as usual, through thick masses of tangled vegetation, by which it
was surrounded. This building stood upon a double foundation, as far as
I could judge, though I was unable to satisfy myself completely, owing
to the fallen ruins which once formed a part of its structure, but which
now almost concealed its base from the view.

I found on the east side broken steps, by which I ascended to a platform
built about thirty feet from the base, the sides of which measured each
about one hundred and twenty-five feet. The walls were constructed of
fine hewn stone, beautifully finished at the top, and the angles, parts
of which had fallen, were tastefully curved.


In the centre of this platform, or terrace, was a foundation work,
twelve feet high, and in ruins; the four broken sides measuring about
fifty feet each, upon which is built a square, of a pyramidical form,
fifty feet high, divided off into rooms, but inaccessible, or nearly so,
owing to the tottering condition of the walls. I could discover,
however, that the inside walls were colored, and the wood that supported
and connected the ceilings was in good preservation. In the centre of
this square is the DOME, a structure of beautiful proportions, though
partially in ruins. It rests upon a finished foundation, the interior of
which contains three conic structures, one within the other, a space of
six feet intervening; each cone communicating with the others by
door-ways, the inner one forming the shaft. At the height of about ten
feet, the cones are united by means of transoms of zuporte. Around these
cones are evidences of spiral stairs, leading to the summit.

There is a plan and description published of a “Greenan Temple,” which
bears an analogy to this structure. It was erected upon a spot which, in
former days, was consecrated to the worship of the sun. The name Greenan
signifies the place of the sun. This singular edifice is found in the
county of Donegal, which rises from the southern shore of Lough Swilly,
Ireland, and is represented to be a most lovely place.[7]

Situated about three rods south-west of the ruins of the Dome, are those
of the HOUSE OF THE CACIQUES. I cut my way through the thick growth of
small wood to this sublime pile, and by the aid of my compass was
enabled to reach the east front of the building. Here I felled the trees
that hid it, and the whole front was opened to my view, presenting the
most strange and incomprehensible pile of architecture that my eyes ever
beheld—elaborate, elegant, stupendous, yet belonging to no order now
known to us. The front of this wonderful edifice measures thirty-two
feet, and its height twenty, extending to the main building fifty feet.
Over the door-way, which favors the Egyptian style of architecture, is a
heavy lintel of stone, containing two double rows of hieroglyphics, with
a sculptured ornament intervening. Above these are the remains of hooks
carved in stone, with raised lines of drapery running through them;
which, apparently, have been broken off by the falling of the heavy
finishing from the top of the building; over which, surrounded by a
variety of chaste and beautifully executed borders, encircled within a
wreath, is a female figure in a sitting posture, in basso-relievo,
having a head-dress of feathers, cords, and tassels, and the neck
ornamented. The angles of this building are tastefully curved. The
ornaments continue around the sides, which are divided into two
compartments, different in their arrangement, though not in style.
Attached to the angles are large projecting hooks, skilfully worked, and
perfect rosettes and stars, with spears reversed, are put together with
the utmost precision.

The ornaments are composed of small square blocks of stone, cut to the
depth of about one to one and a half inches, apparently with the most
delicate instruments, and inserted by a shaft in the wall. The wall is
made of large and uniformly square blocks of limestone, set in a mortar
which appears to be as durable as the stone itself. In the ornamental
borders of this building I could discover but little analogy with those
known to me. The most striking were those of the cornice and
entablature, _chevron_ and the _cable_ moulding, which are
characteristic of the Norman architecture.


The sides have three door-ways, each opening into small apartments,
which are finished with smooth square blocks of stone; the floors of the
same material, but have been covered with cement, which is now broken.
The apartments are small, owing to the massive walls enclosing them, and
the acute-angled arch, forming the ceiling. The working and laying of
the stone are as perfect as they could have been under the directions of
a modern architect.

Contiguous to this front are two irregular buildings, as represented in
the plan. The one on the right, situated some twenty-five feet from it,
(about two feet off the right line,) has a front of about thirty-five
feet, its sides ten wide, and its height twenty feet, containing one
room similar in its finish to those before described. The front of this
building is elaborately sculptured with rosettes and borders, and
ornamental lines; the rear is formed of finely cut stone, now much
broken. Near by are numerous heaps of hewn and broken stones, sculptured
work and pillars.

    [Illustration: Decoration]

The other building on the left, is about eight feet from the principal
front, measuring twenty-two feet in length, thirteen in width, and
thirty-six in height. The top is quite broken, and has the appearance of
having been much higher. The _agave Americana_ was growing thriftily
upon its level roof. On all sides of this building are carved figures,
broken images, in sitting postures; rosettes and ornamental borders,
laid off in compartments; each compartment having three carved hooks on
each side and angle. This building contains but one room, similar to
that on the right. A soil has collected on the tops or roofs of these
structures to the depth of three or four feet, in which trees and other
vegetation are flourishing.

From these portions of the ruins I worked my way through the wild
thicket, by which they are surrounded, to the north side of the main
building, in the centre of which I found a flight of small stone steps,
overgrown with bushes and vines, which I cut away, and made an ascent by
pulling myself up to the summit, a distance of forty feet. This platform
is an oblong square, one hundred by seventy-five feet. Here a range of
rooms were found, occupying about two-thirds of the area; the residue of
the space probably formed a promenade, which is now filled up with
crumbling ruins, covered with trees and grass. These rooms varied in
size; the smallest of which measured six by ten, and the largest six by
twenty-two feet.

The most of these rooms were plastered, or covered with a fine white
cement, some of which was still quite perfect. By washing them, I
discovered fresco paintings; but they were much obliterated. The
subjects could not be distinguished. On the eastern end of these rooms
is a hall running transversely, four feet wide, (having the high angular
ceiling,) one side of which is filled with a variety of sculptured work,
principally rosettes and borders, with rows of small pilasters; having
three square recesses, and a small room on either side. Over the
doorways of each are stone lintels three feet square, carved with
hieroglyphics both on the front and under side. The western end of these
rooms is in almost total ruins. The northern side has a flight of stone
steps, but much dilapidated, leading to the top; which, probably, was a
look-out place, but is now almost in total ruins. The southern range of
rooms is much broken; the outside of which yet shows the elaborate work
with which the whole building was finished.

I vainly endeavored to find access to the interior of the main building.
I discovered two breaches, caused, probably, by the enormous weight of
the pile, and in these apertures I made excavations; but could not
discover any thing like apartments of any description. It seemed to be
one vast body of stone and mortar, kept together by the great solidity
of the outer wall, which was built in a masterly manner, of well-formed
materials. The angles were finished off with circular blocks of stones,
of a large and uniform size.

In a northwest direction from the hacienda, of which mention has already
been made, are the ruins of a house which, owing, probably, to its
having been constructed without any artificial foundation, is still in
good preservation. It bears but little resemblance to any of its
fellows. It contains eighteen rooms, the largest of which measures eight
by twenty-four feet, arranged in double rows, or ante-rooms, and lighted
only by a single doorway. They all have the high angular ceilings, like
the other buildings, which enclose as much space as the rooms
themselves. Those fronting the south are the most remarkable, the inner
doorways having each a stone lintel of an unusually large size,
measuring thirty-two inches wide, forty-eight long, and twelve deep;
having on its inner side a sculptured figure of an Indian in full dress,
with cap and feathers, sitting upon a cushioned seat, finely worked;
having before him a vase containing flowers, with his right hand
extended over it, his left resting upon the side of the cushion—the
whole bordered with hieroglyphics. The front part of this lintel
contains two rows of hieroglyphics.

The building is irregular, having a projection in the centre, on one
side, of eight feet; on the other, of four feet. It measures one hundred
and fifty feet long, forty-three wide, and twenty high; flat roof,
unbroken, and filled with trees and grass to the whole extent. The
outside and partition walls have a uniform thickness of three feet.

Among other ruins contiguous to those already described, I discovered
two detached piles about two rods apart. They were erected upon
foundations of about twenty feet in height, which were surrounded and
sustained by well-cemented walls of hewn stone, with curved angles,
measuring two hundred and forty feet around them, parts of which were in
good preservation. We ascended to the platform of the one in the best
condition, in the centre of which stands the ruins of a building
measuring twenty-one by forty feet; the west front being quite perfect,
and shows sculptured work along the whole extent of its façade. The only
accessible part was a hall, having a range of hieroglyphics the whole
length over the doorways, the rooms of which were in total ruins. Across
these halls were beams of wood, creased as if they had been worn by

In a line with these ruins and the temple are numerous mounds, covered
with loose stones and vegetation. Between these and the temple are the
ruins of a mass of foundation-work, about forty feet high; the top of
which is covered with piles of crumbling stones, and ruins of a
structure that once adorned it. These stones were of an immense size,
some square, some round; and the others either plain, hewn, or
sculptured. Among these there are two even larger than the rest, and
similar to those found at the base of the Pyramid. Likewise, among these
ruins I found pillars, beautifully worked with figures and ornamental
lines; some of which are standing, apparently, in their original
position. Also, upright blocks, six feet high and two thick, of each of
which one surface was covered with hieroglyphics. Near by were six
square fragments of pillars, at uniform distances apart from each other.
These, too, were sculptured with ornaments and hieroglyphics. Nothing
could be seen of these ruins from the base of the structure, as they
were buried among trees, and overgrown with long grass and shrubs.

Besides those we have attempted to describe, there are other ruins of
which some remains of walls are standing; and contiguous thereto lie
immense piles of worked stone, which, though presenting no new feature
in the architecture of these buildings, yet serve to give a more
adequate idea of the size and grandeur of this great city. In my walks
in the vicinity, extending miles in every direction, I have seen broken
walls and mounds, fragments of columns, and carved and sculptured stone,
some of which were of as extraordinary dimensions as any that I have
noticed, deeply imbedded in the soil, and wholly disconnected with any
other structure; though they were, without doubt, the remains of
splendid and extensive edifices.

The following general characteristics of all these ruins may not be
thought impertinent to my subject, by those who have had the curiosity
to follow me thus far in the details:—

They are situated upon a plain of many miles in circumference, nearly in
the centre of the province; upwards of one hundred miles from the sea,
and away from all water communication. They have no apparent order, or
laying-out of streets, as the plan shows; but that they bear evidence of
a people highly skilled in the mechanical arts, as also in a portion of
the sciences, must be conclusive to my readers.

The buildings which are now in the most perfect state of preservation,
are the temple, castle, pyramid, and other erections, upon a succession
of terraces composed of _rubble_, imbedded in mortar, held together by
finished walls of fine concrete limestone: the sides of which are
invariably located with reference to the four cardinal points, and the
principal fronts facing the east.

The walls of the buildings rise perpendicularly, generally, to one-half
the height, where there are entablatures; above which, to the cornice,
the façades are laid off in compartments, which are elaborately
ornamented with stone sculpture-work over a diamond lattice ground,
illustrated with hieroglyphic figures of various kinds; the whole
interspersed with chaste and unique borders, executed with the greatest
possible skill and precision. The stones are cut in _parallelopipeds_ of
about twelve inches in length and six in breadth; the interstices filled
up of the same material of which the terraces are composed.

The height of these buildings generally is twenty, and rarely above
twenty-five feet. They are limited to one story, long and narrow,
without windows. The rooms are confined to a double range, receiving no
other light than what passes through the doorway. The ceilings are built
in the form of an acute-angled arch by layers of flat stones, the edges
being bevelled and carried up to the apex, upon which rests a stone that
serves as a key.

The interior of some of the most important of these rooms is finished
with a beautiful white composition, laid on with the greatest skill.
Fresco painting in these rooms is also observable, and the colors still
in good preservation; sky blue and light green being the most prominent.
Figures of Indian characters can be discerned, but not with sufficient
distinctness for the subject to be traced. The floors are covered with a
hard composition, which shows marks of wear. The doorways are nearly a
square of about seven feet, somewhat resembling the Egyptian; the sides
of which are formed of large blocks of hewn stone. In some instances the
lintels are of the same material, with hieroglyphics and lines carved
upon the outer surfaces. Stone rings, and holes at the sides of the
doorways, indicate that doors once swung upon them.

    [Illustration: AGAVE AMERICANA.]


                              CHAPTER VII.

An Arrival—Unexpected Honors—Usurpation of Office—Prices
  of Labor—Indian way of Living—A Sonato—An
  Incident—Departure—Yacaba—Sonato at Tabi—Arrival at Sotuta—“Las
  Ruinas”—A Benediction—Cantamayec—Turn Physician—Successful
  Practice—The Reward of Merit—Route to Teabo—Its Curate—Mani—Arrival at
  Ticul—Description of Ticul—The Church—Curate—Market-place—Pretty
  Women—Convent—Occupations—Health—Roads—Sugar Estates—Ruins of
  Ichmul—Departure—Cross the Cordilleras.

During my stay in the vicinity of Chi-Chen, the family of the major-domo
were expected to arrive from Valladolid. Accordingly, great preparations
were made to receive them. Arches were thrown over the doors, around the
corridors of the house, and erected across the road near by. The Indians
made ready, with their drums and fifes, and with other forms of
congratulation, to hail the approaching visiters. At sun-down on
Saturday evening the “coaches,” so well described by Mr. Stephens in his
travels in Yucatan, were seen coming along the road. The music
commenced; the bell of our little habitation lifted up its noisy tones
of gladness, and all was in commotion. They were soon at the door, and
carefully set down by the Indian bearers; and the contents of the
carriage, composed of women and children, crawled out upon their hands
and knees and hurried into the house. The “coaches” were now put aside,
and preparations made to have a joyful evening. In the morning (Sunday)
we learned that the Indians not only had an evening, as we supposed they
would have, but a whole night of dancing and singing. At daylight they
awakened me by coming into my quarters, for the purpose of going to
matins. The bell was ringing, the candles were lighted, the little boxes
opened, and the altar kissed. It was the work of a few minutes, when the
bell ceased, the candles were extinguished, the little doors closed;
and, by the time the last pattering of the sandal-footed Indian sounded
upon the stone floor as he left the house, I was once more asleep.

This morning, at the usual breakfast hour, I left the “vestry” for the
house. On the way thither I was met by the major-domo, who, I observed,
was very polite indeed—unusually so. He took my hand and led me into the
dwelling, where the best hammock was opened for my reception. I sat down
and took a swing. Presently the lady of the mansion, who had arrived “by
coach” the previous evening, made her appearance, dropping me one of her
sweetest courtesies, and passed out at another door. The children all
followed in slow procession, giving me a similar salutation; until,
eventually, I was left alone in silent astonishment. During this
ceremony the Indians were peeping in at the doors, apparently awaiting
their turn; and, sure enough, it came. They approached in single file,
to the number of some thirty, and, as they marched past, partially
knelt, and made all sorts of obeisances; which were acknowledged with as
much form as my inexperienced greatness could command. I was lost in
amazement. I began to survey the room in search of a mirror, to see what
change had taken place in my person; and the fact stared me in the face.
It was my black suit, that I had put on in the morning (not being on
fatigue duty to-day,) that had given this first impression of my
importance—having, heretofore, only appeared in my working guise before
them. In my future rambles, I shall benefit by my experience in this
little affair; and would recommend it to the careful consideration of
all who may hereafter travel in these parts. After breakfast I stepped
aside, and examined the coat more particularly, to ascertain how long
its newly discovered virtues might be expected to abide with it. I was
delighted to find that it would probably supply me with all the dignity
I should require during my residence in the country.

This (Sunday) has been a lovely day, so far as nature was concerned.
Nothing but the continuation of the dancing and the wild music,
interrupted at times by the revelry of drunken Indians, could be heard,
except the services at the church by the same actors! At vespers, the
principal officiate was so drunk that he dropped the incense-cup, and
broke it all to pieces. Unfortunately for his dignity, it fell upon my
foot; whereat I was so vexed, that I trundled the old reprobate most
unceremoniously out of the sanctuary, and performed the ceremonies
myself, as well as I knew how, and dismissed the congregation. If the
pope has any gratitude he will send me a cardinal’s hat, at least, for
this interference.

There are about eighty Indians attached to this estate. Their wages is
one dollar per month and a sack of corn, which contains about two
bushels, worth here from thirty-seven and a half to fifty cents per
sack; but the amount of wages varies in different parts of the country.
In some sections laborers are employed by the job—so much for cutting
down wood, the work being measured out; so much for planting an acre;
and in the same way for taking in the crops, &c., the prices of which
are regulated by custom; but they are all under as abject bondage at
present as if they had been born slaves. Their wages, low as they
are—owing to the few wants of these people—more than cover their
necessary expenses; but the taxes, and the feasts of the church, absorb
all the surplus. I have known an Indian to expend his month’s pay, and
all he was possessed of besides, in the purchase of candles and trinkets
for a single festival day; the former to burn before, and the latter to
decorate, his tutelar saint.

They are permitted to build their huts on the lands of the estate
without cost. Among those I visited, the best were miserable enough;
consisting merely of poles driven perpendicularly into the ground, to
support a thatched roof. Although plenty of soil is allowed them, they
cultivate nothing for themselves Everything around them indicates
indolence and squalid poverty.

In my rambles in the neighborhood of the hacienda, I discovered, at
about the distance of a mile, a sonata, situated in a dell of the most
romantic appearance; the sides, rising to the height of a hundred feet,
are circular, and are formed of broken and cragged rocks, overgrown with
trees, bushes, and vines. The water is about ten fathoms deep, clear and
good; and always remains without fluctuation except once or twice a
year, in seasons of heavy rains or extreme drought. There appears to be
but one place at the margin where the water is accessible. A part of a
stone wall is here perceptible, and also steps beneath the surface. Less
romantic places than this have made more than one chapter in the
mythology of the ancient Greeks.

While I was thinking that this might be the scene where many a tender
tale of love may have been whispered, a thousand years ago, by the
simple swain and artless damsel who dwelt near its margin—that here the
proud cacique may once have loitered with the lovely mistress of his
affections—while I was meditating over the probability, the almost
certainty of these things, something of a parallel nature was, in
reality, transpiring in my immediate vicinity. My right-hand man, José,
whose peculiar propensity has before been hinted at, was pouring out his
heart to a beautiful Indian girl a few rods distant, and she was
listening to his story of love with all the attention that the most
faithful passion could deserve. They were not, however, permitted to
dream themselves into an undisturbed state of happiness. It is said that
love is jealous as well as watchful. They had been observed by a rival,
who suddenly breaking in upon their stolen moments, threatened total
annihilation to all their blissful anticipations. José manfully
contended for his rights; but, had I not come up at the critical
instant, there is no telling to what extent the rupture might have been
carried. My presence, however, soon allayed the excitement. It was not
difficult to discern that José was the preferred one. I learned from him
that the fair cause of his trouble was from the neighborhood of Merida,
an old acquaintance; and that pledges of love had long since been
exchanged between them; but circumstances had removed her from his
vicinity, he knew not whither, until the present accidental meeting had
again thrown them into each other’s arms. Such being the case, I
promised to intercede with the major-domo in their behalf, which I
subsequently did, but without the entire success that I had anticipated.

Having concluded my visit at Chi-Chen, and my curiosity being fully
satisfied, I was ready at an early hour to continue my journey westward.
The Indians, to the number of fifty or sixty, had collected to witness
our departure. They had been very civil to us during our stay; and, to
express our acknowledgments, I knew no better way than to make them a
few presents, with which they appeared to be highly pleased. We took
leave of our kind host and hostess with regret. They had taken great
pains to make my stay comfortable among them, and I shall always
remember them with gratitude. By eight o’clock we were out of sight of
castles and palaces, and buried in the thick woods of the country. Our
route lay over a narrow stony path, through the small Indian town of
Piste to Yacaba—a distance of about nine leagues; where we arrived at
two o’clock, rode up to the Casa-real, and dismounted in the square. The
church occupied one side of it, and public offices and dwellings the
others. The square is spacious, and comprises nearly the whole town.
Many of the houses are uninhabited and going to ruin. It had rained
heavily during the morning, and the rooms of the Casa-real, as usual,
did not present a very favorable aspect to the wet and fatigued
traveller. However, we got our horses taken care of, and succeeded in
obtaining a tolerable breakfast. By five o’clock the inhabitants began
to leave their hammocks, and made their way to the Casa-real, knowing,
apparently, by instinct, or some faculty peculiar to the inhabitants of
small towns, that strangers had arrived. In this instance, we were glad
to see them; for we were sadly in want of a dry place to rest in. They
offered to do every thing for us. We told them our wants, by showing
them the rooms of the Casa-real. They promised to get others, appeared
glad to serve us, and treated us with great politeness. Off they
started, as we supposed, to fit us out for the night; and that is the
last we ever saw of them. This is mentioned merely to show a marked
characteristic of the people. A stranger, with a sanguine temperament,
in this province, must suffer!

We were obliged, as usual, to depend upon ourselves for quarters; and,
after much research, and disturbing the quiet of many poor old women in
their hammocks, we found a store-house, in which we became somewhat
comfortably accommodated for the night. Shortly after sunrise, on the
following morning, we continued our journey to Tabi, a distance of two
leagues. At this place we spent an hour in visiting a sonato, one of the
most celebrated in the country. It had been the scene of some _miracle_,
the particulars of which we were unable to learn, and is therefore held
in much reverence by the Indians. The circumference is about fifty feet,
and it is about seventy to the surface of the water from the top of the
ground. The water is said to be about a hundred feet deep, and has a
subterraneous channel, the extent of which is unknown. A small chapel is
erected upon its border. In the absence of all rivers in this country,
these watering-places, or natural wells, seem to be one of the most
striking gifts of God’s beneficence. Near this chapel is a tree of the
mammee species, peculiar to the province, of extraordinary dimensions,
growing, apparently, out of a solid rock.

This town is principally inhabited by Indians. The few whites here, as
is usual in many other places, principally maintain themselves by
selling small articles, cotton cloth, and liquors to the Indians. Save a
church, there were no public buildings in the place. No animation or
purpose was to be seen among these listless Indians, who in that, as in
other particulars, resembled all of their race whom I had yet seen.

We continued our journey on to Sotuta, a distance of three leagues,
where we arrived at eleven o’clock, over a good road, upon which the
Indians were at that time engaged in working out their road-tax.

This is a pleasant town, having a fine square, neatly laid out, with
much regularity, and well built. While we were at breakfast, seated on a
long wooden bench (the usual table of the Casa-real) saddle-wise, with
our customary company, ten to twenty Indians squatted (after their
manner) about us, we were waited upon by the curious of the place. They
wished to know who we were, and where we were going? To which we gave
satisfactory answers. They offered us their best services, as usual, and
left us. Soon after they left, the curate called, and was so kind as to
offer us his house, and all the appurtenances thereto appertaining, of
which, however, owing to our limited stay, I did not think it worth my
while to accept. Knowing that I wished to see all that was interesting
in his curacy, he, the dear soul, carried me a league, through a burning
sun, to see what he called “las ruinas.” I walked to them cheerfully
enough, for I anticipated something of an exciting nature. On reaching
them, they proved to be merely the walls of a badly built house, which
had pertained to a hacienda, and which was not over fifty years of age.
When he first called my attention to them, I thought he was playing off
a practical joke; but it was not so; it was a sincere desire to please.
Short-sighted mortal! his day-dreams had never been disturbed by a
knowledge of the pyramids, palaces, and castles of Chi-Chen! By a visit
to the convent, however, on my return, I was fully indemnified for all
my disappointment, by the good things which appear always to concentrate
in these places; and I soon forgot our fatiguing walk to “las ruinas,”
by a swing in the hammock.

While I was here enjoying myself, during the heat of the day, an Indian
brought in a bundle, containing a shroud, intended for some deceased
person. The curate apologized; ordered his robes, in which he was soon
enveloped; had a candle lighted, to which was affixed a silver cross;
gave it to me to hold; took his book, and read over a benediction,
occasionally sprinkling water upon the cloth intended for the dead. This
was done in an off-hand style, and the Indian was quickly dismissed.

It was with some difficulty that I was enabled to tear myself away from
my kind host; and it was late before we started for Cantamayec, four
leagues distant, where we intended to sleep. Before sundown, however, we
bade him adieu, and passing over a rocky path through the woods, we
arrived at our stopping-place at nine o’clock.

Little had we anticipated the cool reception we were doomed to meet, or
we should have remained with our reverend friend of Sotuta. On reaching
the Casa-real of this most miserable town, we found it occupied by
half-breeds and Indians, making themselves merry and drunk, upon the
occasion offered them by some one of the innumerable feast-days with
which their calendar is crowded. The prospect for us, we observed on
dismounting, was not very flattering. We stated to them that we were
travellers; and wished a privilege with them at the Casa-real for the
night, and at the same time offered them money, to remunerate them for
their aid in procuring food for ourselves and horses; but we could
obtain nothing. Their reply was, that the Casa-real and its yards were
full, and that there was no food or water to be had. This was bringing
affairs to a crisis. The prospect was that we were to “hang out” during
the night. Remonstrance was thought of; but experience had long since
taught me that remonstrance with these people was vain. A man in the
crowd was observed with _trousers on_; and with him I thought something
might be done, but I was made to perceive that trousers are only the
uniform, but not an evidence of civilization. A squally night was before
me, and no prospect of a shelter. I thought of trying “the plenipo”—à la
Stephens—but my starred and striped blanket was in tatters, and I had no
“half dollars.” Sunken as I was in the abyss of trouble, my magical coat
never occurred to me. At a complete loss what to do, we walked about the
town, in anticipation of some favorable accident, followed by a
concourse of idle Indians. We were about returning to our horses in
despair, when, passing a hut, with its only door half opened, we saw an
old woman lying in her hammock, sick. I thought of the “medico.” With
this ray of hope to encourage me, I entered, blessing the house and its
inmates, with the best Latin I could muster. A dim light was burning in
a calabash, which stood in the corner. In the centre of the room were
some half-extinguished embers, with the few cooking utensils which the
_cuisine_ of this country require, being near them. A girl was engaged
in making some cooling drink for the invalid; and, upon the whole, I
felt that my prospects were looking up. So I drew up a stool to the side
of the hammock, and looked the “medico” at the invalid, to the best of
my abilities. The Indians from without were collecting around; I talked
in a very deliberate tone, as if just bursting with a plethora of
science, felt the pulse, and examined the tongue! At this stage of
proceedings, an Indian bent down to my ear, and asked, in a low voice,
if he should go for food for our horses? I graciously consented. I
showed my pocket compass, the nearest approach to a surgical instrument
of any thing I had about me, made a few more learned remarks upon the
pathogenetic and therapeutic properties of matter, and advised the
patient to bathe her feet and hold her tongue.

The fire upon the floor was rekindled; eggs and tortillas were soon
placed before us, and I venture to say, that no catechumen in medicine
ever received his first professional fee with more delight, than I did
mine on this occasion. The patient declared herself to be much better.
So was I. I soon began to feel myself “at home.” José made ready our
hammocks, drove the intruding Indians out of the house, and, in a few
moments, we buried all our cares and troubles in deep and undisturbed

Awaking early in the morning, I found the patient much improved, if I
might be permitted to judge from her nasal achievements; and, thinking
it would be a pity to disturb her, I determined not to wait for any
farther fee, but directed José silently to fold our hammocks, and
putting them under our arms, we left the premises, and made our way to
where our horses were quartered. Every thing being ready, we were soon
in the saddle, and, without much regret, left the town; but not without
a sincere wish that the patient, whose comfort had been so unexpectedly
identified with mine, might rapidly recover.

We were now on the road to Teabo, a distance of about seven leagues,
where we arrived at two o’clock in the afternoon. We experienced no
little difficulty in finding the town, owing to the numerous paths that
presented themselves leading to the haciendas and ranchos in the
vicinity, and owing to the town being almost buried among the small
trees and bushes by which it was surrounded. Our confusion was ten times
more confounded by the directions of the Indians; and, finally, we were
obliged to have recourse to the pocket-compass. This is an article with
which every tourist in untravelled countries should provide himself. He
will find it an invaluable guide when he is alone; and it will prove as
efficacious as one ghost, at least, in controlling the services of these
superstitious people.

The Casa-real being occupied by muleteers, I got permission of the
polite owner of a store near by to deposite our trappings, and to make
my toilet in one corner of his establishment. For this purpose a heap of
corn was removed, which so facilitated my preparations, that I was soon
in a condition to pay my respects to the town. After I had made some
examination of it, however, I concluded that, my time had been wasted.
It was, like all the others, as dull and inanimate as the rocks upon
which it stood. As I had always discovered, if there were any thing of
interest in these places, it radiated from the curate, I bent my steps,
in the evening, towards his house. He was a fatherly-looking old
gentleman, received me very kindly, ordered the best room in the convent
to be made ready for my reception, and a good supper to be prepared. He
talked much of his curacy, and seemed to be devoted to the people, as
they evidently were to him. Good order was observable about his house,
which is rarely to be met with in the like places. He showed me his
library, which was composed of about twenty volumes of Latin and Spanish
books. After passing a very pleasant evening with this good old man, I
bade him adieu and retired to my room, which was decorated, or furnished
rather, on all sides, with the symbols of the church, such as crosses,
sculls, images, &c.; but which did not, so far as I could discover,
materially affect my repose during the night.

Early in the morning, after taking chocolate, which my kind host had
provided, we were mounted and on our way to Ticul. We passed through a
number of small towns, one of which was Mani, about three leagues from
Teabo, and formerly the capital of the province. The only fact connected
with the history of this place, of interest to the traveller, is one of
a character kindred to that which has given an infamous immortality to
the Calif Omar, and, in later days, to Cardinal Ximenes; a man who lived
in an age, and professed a religion, which should have taught him
better. This was the place, as I learned while at Merida, where the
ancient history of the Maya people was destroyed, by order of a
Franciscan monk named Landa. These books were thought by the inquisitor
to contain some heretical matters; and, with a bigotry and stupidity
which we can now hardly allude to in terms sufficiently moderate to be
printed, he directed those books to be taken out and burnt in the public
square. This history was written in hieroglyphical characters, and its
destruction has doubtless deprived posterity of the key to the whole
history of the Maya nation.

We arrived at Ticul after a fatiguing ride, under a hot sun, at half
past two o’clock in the afternoon, on Saturday, the 19th of February.
Our coming was anticipated, and good apartments were prepared for us in
the convent, where we were comfortably accommodated, and fully resolved
to remain until we had become thoroughly recruited. José was about worn
out, and the horses’ feet were in a sad condition. My trousers were
torn, my boots were cut up, and my altogether ruinous condition was more
in sympathy with the country which I was visiting, than accorded with my
taste or my comfort. In this condition, I thought it would be no more
than an act of prudence to lie by for a few days to repair damages. I
amused myself meantime in strolling about the town, which I found
decidedly pleasant. It had a life and activity about it that I had not
before seen for a long time. I saw the sun set this evening behind the
Cordilleras; it was a beautiful and imposing sight.

This town is large and well built, though not very compact; enough so,
however, to make it a very desirable place of residence. It is town and
country, beautifully intermingled. It has a fine open square, church,
and market-place, and several stores.

The church, occupying one corner of the square, is built in the form of
a cross, and has a well-proportioned dome to set it off. The mass of
devotees that assemble here daily are decently dressed and good-looking.
The curate is a middle-aged man, who has read much, and figured
considerably in the late political revolutions of the province; and is,
probably, more conversant with the history of his country than any man
in it. Some of the most interesting ruins of the country are within his
curacy, and he was the only person I encountered in the country who had
devoted much time to an examination of them. He received me very
cordially, and was exceedingly kind and attentive during my stay.

The market-place is small; but it is well supplied, and kept clean. It
was rather a strange sight to me to see cattle butchered in the open
streets and public thoroughfares of the town, as is the custom here.

This town enjoys a notoriety for its pretty Mestizas, or half-breed
Indian women; which, as far as I am able to judge, it justly deserves.
They are well formed, and have regular features and brunette
complexions, which are in fine contrast with their long black hair and
simple loose dress. Their dresses are always neat, and hang from the
shoulders without being girded at the waist. They are trimmed off by the
fair hands of the wearers with ornamental borders, &c., &c.

The convent in the rear of, and immediately adjoining the church, is an
immense pile of stone, built in 1624, and was formerly inhabited by
monks of the order of St. Francis. The only habitable part of this vast
structure, at present, is occupied by the curate, the padre, and myself.
A suite of three rooms were given to me; but, in my humble way, I made
two suffice. Its blackened walls, its spacious halls and corridors,
dilapidated casements, its numerous squares and gardens, all going to
ruin, presented the same melancholy picture that is to be seen in all
the principal towns in the province.

A large portion of the inhabitants are Mestizos, who are orderly and
well to do in the world. Their houses, in the borders of the town, are
comfortable; and the wide-spreading palm, growing near, gives to them
quite a picturesque appearance. They manufacture hats for exportation,
and earthenware for home use.

The health of the town is good. This may be attributed not only to the
climate, but to the uniform temperance of these people, both in eating
and drinking.

The roads to and from the principal towns are kept in excellent order.
Portions of them, in the immediate vicinity, with the low stone walls at
the sides, covered with vegetation, resemble those of England.

In the adjoining districts, there are several large sugar plantations.
Near the town of Tekax, considerable attention is paid to the
cultivation of sugar, which is raised entirely for domestic consumption.

The ruins of Ichmul are situated about a half league north of the town
of Ticul. The padre, with a few friends, accompanied me to visit them.
What was my surprise, on arriving at this place, to observe a succession
of mounds, or tumuli, extending many miles around, in every direction,
as far as the eye could reach—the sepulchres, perhaps, of millions! who,
in their turn, possibly, have looked upon similar appearances, that
exist no longer, with the same thoughts as we give utterance to in
beholding these! The grounds are now covered with grass and trees—a
range for cattle! Some of these mounds were forty feet high. Several of
them had been opened by the direction and under the superintendence of
the curate, and within were found rooms, and skeletons deposited in a
sitting posture, with small pots at their feet, which was the position
in which the ancient Mexicans were in the habit of burying their dead.
The walls and ceilings were quite perfect. Large pieces of hewn stone
and pillars were lying scattered around these places, affording ground
for the presumption that they were formerly portions of a once great and
populous city.

On our return with the padre, we dismounted at his house; our horses
were led through it, and myself into it, where, seated in a hammock, I
partook of refreshments, and spent a very pleasant hour with my kind
cicerone. I then took my leave, returned to the convent, rode through
the long hall, and dismounted at my parlor door.

February 23d, at seven o’clock in the morning, I bade adieu to my good
friends of Ticul, and we continued our journey. It was a delightful
morning; our route was along the foot and across the Cordilleras; which
we ascended by a narrow, rough, and cragged pass. We were obliged to
dismount shortly after we commenced the rise, as the steep and slippery
rocks make it not only difficult but hazardous, and we were glad to lead
our horses over in safety. The prospect from the summit was beautiful
and picturesque. Our descent was rather more easy and rapid; and we
reached the town of Nohcacab, three leagues distant, at half past eight
o’clock. Here we took a hasty breakfast, procured a guide, and were
again on the road to Kahbah, distant three leagues, for the purpose of
looking at the ruins which we learned were to be seen at this place.


                             CHAPTER VIII.

The Ruins of Kahbah—Those of Zayi—Scattered Ruins—Church at Nohcacab—The
  Padre—The Town—Departure for Uxmal—Arrival at the Hacienda—Quarters
  and Arrangements—The Scenery—General Character of the Ruins of
  Uxmal—The Governor’s House—The Nuns’ House—The Pyramid—Other
  Remains—Pyramids, Walls, and Mounds—Reservoir—Moonlight.

I first entered upon the ruins of Kahbah from the main road leading from
Nohcacab to Bolen-Chen-Ticul. On the west side I found fragments of
buildings, walls, &c., scattered about, principally upon a low range of
hills. No perfect rooms were visible. Parts of walls and ceilings were
seen, and the ground about covered up with rubbish, mingled with broken
pillars, sculptured work, &c. In the building farthest from the road,
(which is in the best preservation of any on the west side,) we observed
two square pillars, which had been taken from the door-way, and placed
against the ceiling of the room, by some traveller, no doubt, who
intended to present them to the world. They are about six feet high and
two wide; the front facings of which are deeply cut, representing a
cacique, or other dignitary, in full dress, (apparently a rich Indian
costume,) with a profusion of feathers in his head-dress. He is
represented with his arms uplifted, holding a whip; a boy before him in
a kneeling position, with his hands extended in supplication; underneath
are hieroglyphics. The room is small, with the ceiling slightly curved;
differing, in this particular, from those of Chi-Chen.

The ruins on the east side of the road comprise mainly three buildings,
and an immense pile of stone in a pyramidical form, and in a much better
state of preservation than those on the opposite side. These buildings
are elevated upon a succession of terraces, which I ascended by a double
flight of broken steps, to a square formed in front of each; the sides
of which show the existence of walls now nearly levelled, and overgrown
with trees and vegetation. Sufficient, however, is remaining of two
buildings to indicate a similarity with those of the opposite side. The
fronts measure about one hundred feet, the façades of which are
ornamented with the most elaborate and skilful work, though now much
broken and defaced. The carvings are somewhat similar to those of
Chi-Chen; but they are much smaller, and do not display as much order in
the arrangement. Broken columns, of unusual sizes, are to be seen a
short distance from these buildings, evidently moved from their original

The door-step of the principal inner room is elaborately sculptured, and
entirely different from any thing I have observed in other places. In
the centre of one of these squares, foundation walls are to be seen,
which have been recently excavated. They, probably, were pedestals.
These structures stand, uniformly, about four rods apart, on a line; and
all have mounds and a succession of broken walls contiguous to them.

A few rods north of these buildings is a mass of broken stones, piled
together in the shape of a pyramid, at the summit of which, to the
height of one hundred and twenty-five feet, are still to be found the
remains of the broken walls of an edifice. It is located, with reference
to the cardinal points, like the pyramid of Chi-Chen, and was probably
used for the same purposes, (whatever those might have been,) though the
style of the work is not similar or equal to it. Its sides, at the base,
measure five hundred feet, and are mostly bare; the loose stones barely
maintain their form. The space occupied by these ruins cannot be less
than a mile square.

    [Illustration: ZAYI RUINS.]

On the 24th of February, at sunrise, we were again in the saddle,
passing over the same road as yesterday, and following a guide, with his
pack of maza and water, the Yucatan “staff of life,” in pursuit of other
ruins, situated about two and a half leagues south-east of those at
Kahbah. The road was good, and its direction through several ranchos.
Halting at one of these, under a shed of boughs, erected in front of a
rudely built Indian church, we took our breakfast. The variety and
quality of our repast were not such as to detain us long, and we were
soon upon our route, through a hilly country to Zayi. I found my way to
the principal ruin with little difficulty, it having been recently
visited, as I learned from the natives, by Mr. Stephens, to whose recent
labors I was much indebted in approaching the object of my search; the
usual impediments of trees and wild thickets, by which it was
surrounded, having been removed. THE RUINS OF ZAYI are situated in the
midst of a succession of beautiful hills, forming around them, on every
side, an enchanting landscape.

The principal one is composed of a single structure, an immense pile,
facing the south, and standing upon a slight natural elevation. The
first foundation is now so broken that its original form cannot be fully
determined; but it probably was that of a parallelogram. Its front wall
shows the remains of rooms and ceilings, with occasional pillars, which,
no doubt, supported the corridors. The height of this wall is about
twenty feet, and, as near as I was able to measure around its base,
(owing to the accumulation of ruins,) it was ascertained to be two
hundred and sixty-eight feet long, and one hundred and sixteen wide.

In the centre of this foundation stands the main building, the western
half only remaining, with a portion of the steps, outside, leading to
the top. This part shows a succession of corridors, occupying the whole
front, each supported by two pillars, with plain square caps and
plinths, and intervening spaces, filled with rows of small ornamented
pillars. In the rear of these corridors are rooms of small dimensions
and angular ceilings, without any light except that which the front
affords. Over these corridors, or pillars, is a fine moulding finish,
its angle ornamented with a hook similar to those of Chi-Chen. Above
this moulding is a finish of small plain round pillars, or standards,
interspersed with squares of fine ornamental carvings; the centre of the
façade showing the remains of more elaborate work, concentrated within a
border, the arrangement of which is lost. There is an evident analogy
existing between these ornaments and those of Kahbah, but order is less
apparent. I could discover no resemblance whatever to those of Chi-Chen.

Over these rooms of the main building is another terrace, or foundation,
in the centre of which is a building in similar ruins to those under it;
having, also, broken steps leading to the top. It stands upon a
foundation, apparently, of six to eight feet in height, occupying about
two-thirds of the area; the residue, probably, forming a promenade.
There are three doorways yet remaining, the lintels and sides of which
are broken, and which have caused the walls above to fall down. The
walls of this part of the edifice are constructed of hewn stone, without
any signs of ornament. A plain finished moulding runs through the
centre; portions of the cornice still remain, with three or four pieces
of flat projecting stones, which formed a part of the top finish.

The whole extent of the rear is covered with confused piles of ruins,
overgrown with trees. Near by these are fragments of walls and rooms,
with a few ornaments yet remaining about them. Some of the rooms appear
to have been single, and apart from all other buildings. There are also
various mounds in the vicinity.

A few rods south are the remains of a single high wall, with numerous
square apertures, like pigeon-holes. Its foundation is elevated; around
which the broken walls and ceilings are to be seen. The summits of the
neighboring hills are capped with gray broken walls for many miles
around. I discovered no hieroglyphics or paintings of any kind; neither
the extraordinary skill displayed in the ornamental carvings, as at

On my route to these ruins I made digressions from the road, and found,
on all sides, numerous remains of walls and ceilings; also, mounds and
small pyramids, covered with the wild vegetation of the country. My time
being limited to a day, I left these interesting reminiscences of an
unknown people under the cover of night, and returned, wearied with my
day’s labor, to Nohcacab.

The following morning I visited the church with the padre. It is a
large, plain building, with cumbrous walls. The stone being nearly
white, at a distance gave it the appearance of a Massachusetts
cotton-factory. This church is very poor; and its shrines, like many
others in the country, are in barbarous taste. As the padre pulled the
strings, to throw aside the curtains and show the figures, my simplicity
could not avoid thinking of a puppet-show; and more especially so on
account of a figure that had attracted my attention on entering from the
cloisters, dressed in a swallow-tail coat and striped trousers, and
intended, probably, to represent some one of the apostolic brotherhood.

The church stands upon an elevation; and, from the roof, is a charming
prospect of the surrounding country. Attached to the building, at one
corner, is a high wall, forming an enclosure, in which are deposited the
bones of all the dead that had been interred in the body of the church.
The tops of the walls are set off with sculls!

The padre is a young man, quite sociable, and he occasionally preaches.
When this happens, it is in the Maya language.

The town is small, and has nothing particularly to recommend it to the
stranger. It is built upon a shelving rock, a customary site for towns
in this province.

    [Illustration: _Plan of the Ruins of Uxmal._]

At nine o’clock we were again in our saddles for Uxmal,[8] distant about
four leagues. I saw at a distance the ruins of Nohpat; but my haste to
reach Uxmal would not allow us to stop. I passed several fine estates on
the way before reaching that place. The road was a path cut through the
bushes, but easy to travel. I arrived at noon at the hacienda owned by a
gentleman at Merida, before mentioned, who kindly had furnished me with
a letter to his major-domo; which gave me every facility required to
visit the extraordinary ruins in the vicinity. The house of the hacienda
had just gone through a complete repair and cleaning, and held out many
inducements for me to make my quarters there; but, preferring to be near
to the place where I intended to spend my time, I ordered our trappings
to be removed to the ruins, distant about one mile, whither I followed.
I was at a loss which of the splendid structures to appropriate to my
use; but the governor’s house had the appearance of being more tenable
than all the rest, or perhaps more conspicuous. I chose that for my
future place of residence, so I wended my way towards it—passing a grand
and lofty pyramid on the right—and scrambled up the broken steps of the
southeast angle of my prospective domicile. The governor not being at
home, I took quiet possession of three rooms: one for my kitchen, the
others for my parlor and bed, or rather, sleeping-room. The rubbish was
cleared away, and my furniture, consisting of a table and a chair, with
which the major-domo had kindly supplied me, was duly arranged; and some
corn, dried pork, lard, sundry eggs, &c., were carefully provided. José
selected the most finely finished pieces of ornamented stones which were
lying about the door, and silently disposed them around the parlor as
seats for the accommodation of company. We then felt ourselves perfectly
at home, and ready to receive our friends as soon as they might be
pleased to wait upon us. From our door we could see, on our right,
beautiful hills undulating like the ground-swell of the sea; on the
left, the Cordilleras, looking down with an air of great complaisance
upon the plain beneath. Nature is renewing the fields far as the eye can
reach; while in the foreground are the time-defying monuments of other
days, garlanded with luxuriant shrubs and flowers, to sustain which they
had been compelled to give up their own symmetry and beauty. It was
nature in her second childhood.

The GOVERNOR’S HOUSE[9] is a vast and splendid pile of ruins. It stands
upon three ranges of terraces; the first of which is a slight
projection, forming a finish. The great platform, or terrace above it,
measures upwards of five hundred feet long, and four hundred and fifteen
broad. It is encompassed by a wall of fine hewn stone thirty feet high,
with angles rounded, still in good preservation. In the centre of this
platform, upon which trees and vegetation grow in profusion, stands a
shaft of gray limestone in an inclined position, measuring twelve feet
in circumference and eight in height; bearing upon its surface no marks
of form or ornament by which it might be distinguished from a natural
piece. Near by is a rude carving of a tiger with two heads; also, I saw
excavations near them with level curbings and smoothly finished inside,
which are conjectured to have been cisterns or granaries. Along the
southern edge of this platform are the remains of a range of small
pillars, now broken and in confusion.

Upon the north-west corner of this platform is an edifice, which was, no
doubt, from its location, connected with the Governor’s House. It is the
smallest of all the ruins. Its ornaments are few and plain; the most
remarkable of which is a continuous line of turtles, cut from stone of
about a foot square, arranged under the cornices.

        _Restored after Waldeck._]

The south-west corner has connected with it two piles of loose stones,
in the pyramidical form; one eighty, and the other a hundred feet high,
the sides of the bases measuring about two hundred feet. Their tops are
broad platforms, over which, and down the sides, are scattered the
remains of edifices, of which these pyramids were once probably the
foundations. Here we found pieces of pottery, consisting of broken
pieces of vases, and supposed cooking utensils.

Upon the main terrace stands another of smaller dimensions, constituting
the foundation of the Governor’s House. The measurement of this terrace
is three hundred and thirty-eight feet long, eighty-two broad, and
thirty high, having a majestic flight of stone steps, though
considerably broken at the centre, in front of the entrance.

    [Illustration: Decoration]

This majestic pile faces the east, is two hundred and seventy-two feet
long, thirty-six broad, and twenty-four high. The whole building is
plain (unlike those of Chi-Chen) from the base to the mouldings, which
run through the centre over the doorways; above which, to the top, are
ornaments and sculptured work in great profusion, and of the most rich,
strange, and elaborate workmanship. It is divided into double ranges of
rooms, from front to rear. Two of the principal are situated in the
centre, fifty-five feet long, ten broad, and about nineteen high, with
an angular ceiling, occupying one-half of the whole. There are fourteen
other rooms in the front and rear; also, two rooms on each end, and one
in front and rear of the two recesses, of about one-half of the average

The interior of these rooms is sometimes covered with a beautiful hard
finish, and at others presents a surface of uniform square blocks of
smooth stone. The floors are of stone, covered with a hard composition,
which, together with the stone, is now much broken.

    [Illustration: Decoration]

The lintels, which are of zuporte wood, are decayed and broken, to
which, in a great degree, the falling of the walls may be attributed.
The inner sides of the doorways are pierced, and hooks attached, whereon
doors were probably swung. There are, also, apertures in the walls,
where beams rested, to support hammocks, some of which still remain, and
show the marks of the cords. There were no fresco, or other painting or
decorations of any kind in the interior of the building to be discerned.

The front presents the most remarkable architectural skill to be found
about the building. The walls were of the most durable kind of
limestone; and upwards of three feet thick, of fine hewn stone, laid
with the greatest care. There were eleven doorways besides those of the
recesses. The finish of the angles, generally, was as smooth as though
the material were cut with a sharp knife.

    [Illustration: GOVERNOR’S HOUSE. UXMAL RUINS.]

The ornaments were composed of small square pieces of stone, shaped with
infinite skill, and inserted between the mortar and stone with the
greatest care and precision. About two-thirds of the ornaments are still
remaining upon the façade. The most elaborate were over the centre or
main entrance. These have fallen; and now are a heap of ruins at the
base. One of them was a figure of a man, with a head-dress of feathers
and tassels; part of which still remains, with lines of hieroglyphics
underneath. The ground-work of the ornaments is chiefly composed of
raised lines, running diagonally, forming diamond or lattice-work, over
which are rosettes and stars; and, in bold relief, the beautiful Chinese

    [Illustration: Decoration]

From the centre of the building to the recess, at the northern extremity
of the building, the ornaments have mostly crumbled off, and are now
lying at the base in ruins; and the other parts, contiguous, seem ready
to follow the example. The rear of this edifice is more plainly
finished; the main part of the centre has fallen.

    [Illustration: Decoration]

Over the principal doorway are the remains of a female figure, in a
sitting posture. The hands and legs have fallen. It has a fine
head-dress of cap and tassels, and neck ornaments. The waist looks quite
natural, and the whole was finely finished. On each side of this figure
was hieroglyphical writing. The inner rooms of the centre of the
Governor’s House still show the places of excavations, made some years
ago, by the curate of Ticul.

The extensive pile of ruins designated as the NUNS’ HOUSE, is situated a
few rods distant, in a northerly direction from the Governor’s House. It
comprises four great ranges of edifices, placed on the sides of a
quadrangular terrace, measuring about eleven hundred feet around, and
varying in height from fifteen to twenty-four feet, its sides
corresponding to the cardinal points. The principal entrance is through
an acute-angled arch doorway, in the centre of the southern range,
through which I entered into a spacious court. This range is upwards of
two hundred feet long, twenty-five broad, and sixteen high; containing
eight rooms on either side of the principal entrance, which are now in
good preservation. The inner and outer façades are variously ornamented.
Among these I observed signs, symbolical of deities and of Time, as
represented to us as symbolized among the ancient Mexicans whose customs
have reached us.

    [Illustration: THE NUNS’ HOUSE, UXMAL RUINS.]

The opposite, or northern range, by its superior elevation, and more
elaborate work, was evidently the principal portion of this immense
structure. Its foundation, which was twenty-four feet high, is now much
broken. It has contained rooms and corridors, the walls and pillars of
which are still remaining. This range has a wide terrace, or promenade,
in front; which, from its elevated position, overlooks the whole ruins.
The front wall presents five doorways, the lintels and sides of which
have fallen, and filled up the rooms with their crumbling ruins. It
measures about two hundred and forty-six feet in length, and twenty-five
in width, and its height is now only about twenty-six feet. Something
like one-third of the ornaments upon the façade yet remain, which bear
evidence of great power of combination, and extraordinary skill in the
building. No part of the edifice, however, is perfect.

The east and west ranges stand upon foundations which are ten feet high.
The ranges are about one hundred and forty feet in length, thirty-four
in breadth, and twenty-five in height, having four doorways, divided
into eight rooms each. Those of the east are in good preservation—those
of the west are much fallen and broken. The largest one of the rooms
lies on the east side, and measures thirty feet by twelve. The others
range about twelve by eighteen; having ante-rooms on either side, nine
by twelve. The height of the ceiling is uniform throughout, and the
walls are finished with a clean, white, hard substance. The finish and
style, as well as the arrangement of the ornaments, on all sides of
these walls, are different. They are much broken, and many pieces are
lost, which renders it quite impossible to get at the designs.

The northern front, no doubt, was the principal one, as I judge from the
remains, as well as from the fact, that it is more elevated than the
others. The southern range is more plain, both in its front and rear.
The eastern façade is filled with elaborate ornaments, differing
entirely from the others, and better finished. The western façade is
much broken. The remains of two great serpents, however, are still quite
perfect; their heads turned back, and entwining each other, they extend
the whole length of the façade, through a chaste ground-work of
ornamental lines, interspersed with various rosettes. They are put
together by small blocks of stone, exquisitely worked, and arranged with
the nicest skill and precision. The heads of the serpents are adorned
with pluming feathers and tassels, their mouths widely extended, and
their tails represent the rattle divisions.

In the rear of, and within a few feet of the eastern range, are the
remains of a similar range, which is now almost in total ruins. There
appear to have been connecting walls, or walks, from this range to the
Pyramid near by, as I judged from the rubbish and stones that can be
traced from one to the other.

    [Illustration: Decoration]

The outer walls of the northern foundation, which yet remain quite
perfect, are not excelled, in point of workmanship, by the work of any
artisans of the present day. The outer angles, in particular, are worked
with a skill which is almost incredible. Among the great variety of
ornaments, with which these edifices abound at present, I discovered a
number of large stone hooks, finely carved, and none of them broken.
They generally are placed over the doorways, and upon the angles of the
buildings, and must have been an important or a favorite ornament, from
the conspicuous places invariably chosen for them. There are also
figures of men, representing Indians, in standing and sitting postures,
with long clubs; but they are rude, both in design and execution.

    [Illustration: THE PYRAMID, UXMAL RUINS]

Within these quadrangular edifices is a terrace about six feet wide,
extending round the entire court, with flights of steps on all sides,
descending to the large court below, which is covered with square blocks
of stone, considerably worn. The surface was broken, and covered with
earth and vegetation. In the centre of the court is an excavation, in
which an immense shapeless stone was discovered, similar to one
excavated from the area of the main terrace of the Governor’s House.

The PYRAMID is situated about two rods easterly from the ruins of the
Nuns’ House, to which it appears, in some way, to have been connected.
It presents a fine exterior of hewn stone, large at the base, and their
sizes diminishing as they approach the platform. The sides are
precipitous, much broken, and covered with trees. Its base measures five
hundred feet; from the base to the summit or platform, it is one
hundred. The summit is reached, on the eastern side, by a flight of a
hundred stone steps, each one foot high, and about six inches deep;
making the ascent quite difficult, although the steps are still in good

The area of the platform measures seventy-two feet in length and
twenty-one in width, and is occupied by an edifice sixty feet long,
twelve wide, and twenty high; having two rooms both on the east and on
the west sides, and one on either end. These rooms are much defaced, and
their doorways dilapidated. The eastern front has two doorways, and two
small pavilions projecting six or eight inches from the façade,
supported by plain pilasters.

The western façade is ornamented with human figures similar to
_caryatides_, finely sculptured in stone with great art. Their heads are
covered with a casque, and ear ornaments similar to those worn by the
Egyptians. They have girdles around their bodies. On the western side,
immediately in front of the doorway, is a platform, or roof of a room,
the base or floor of which includes about twenty feet of the inclined
side of the Pyramid; leading to which is a broken plane, once occupied
by the steps. Here are two rooms, one of which is of an unusually large
size, with a proportionate doorway, fronting the Nuns’ House. The
interior of these rooms was finely finished with smooth stone. There
appeared to be no communication from them with any other part. The front
and sides of the exterior were filled with sculptured work of the most
elaborate and incomprehensible description. The same degree of skill and
precision was perceptible here that distinguishes the whole ruins.

Below these rooms, at or near the base of the side, are others, where
excavations have been made. They are now much broken, and covered with
the fallen ruins.

    [Illustration: _Section of_ THE PIGEON HOUSES; UXMAL RUINS.]

A few rods distant, in a southwest direction from the Governor’s House,
are the remains of an extensive range, or succession of ruins. They,
probably, were once of no inconsiderable importance in the place. They
are composed of terraces, walls, rooms and corridors, and court-yards.

The principal ruin fronts the north, and, probably, was connected with
the Governor’s House. A wall of two hundred feet remains standing upon a
foundation of ten feet. Its width is twenty-five feet; having ranges of
rooms in both sides, only parts of which remain. This wall has an
acute-angled arch doorway through the centre, similar to that of the
Nuns’ House, with rooms on both sides. The top of this wall has numerous
square apertures through it, which give it the appearance of
pigeon-holes; and its edge is formed like the gable-end of a house,
uniformly notched. In front of this wall appears to have been an immense
court or square, enclosed by stone walls, leading to the Nuns’ House.
The interior of this square, apparently, shows the ruins of walls and
rooms and walks; but nothing definite could be made out, as the ruins
were almost level with the ground, and overgrown with trees and grass.
At intervals, along the outer wall, in a northwest direction, the ruins
of rooms were seen, evidently a regular succession of them.

In the rear of the principal wall is another court or square, but much
smaller than that in front, having broken corridors, and the sides
running back to an artificial elevation of about fifty feet; the form of
which was lost, owing to the dilapidation of the sides and angles. Ruins
of rooms and corridors, both at its base and summit, were perceptible.
Other squares can be defined by the broken walls contiguous to these
extensive ruins; also, numerous mounds; one of which, discovered west of
the Nuns’ House, is found to be an immense reservoir or cistern, having
a double curb; the interior of which was beautifully finished with
stucco, and in good preservation. Some of these mounds have been
excavated, as I have already mentioned, and seemed to have been intended
originally for sepulchres.

In the centre of the avenue between the Governor’s House and the Nuns’
House, in a line with the principal doorway of the latter building, are
the ruins of two walls, running parallel with each other, north and
south, about twelve feet apart. The eastern and inner side shows the
remains of a serpent along its façade, similar to that of the Nuns’
House—a small portion, however, only remains. It also shows rooms and
ceilings quite level with the ground. The western wall is more perfect,
and has a ring inserted in its façade, like those of Chi-Chen; but,
instead of ornaments, presents hieroglyphics upon its sides.

The short period to which I was, unfortunately, restricted in the
examination of these sublime ruins, (and these remarks will apply to all
which have come under my observation,) has permitted me to touch but
slightly even upon those which have appeared to be the most prominent.
Months might be spent among them, and then one would only have entered
upon the threshold of an investigation into their wonders.

A moonlight scene from the Governor’s House is one of the most
enchanting sights I ever witnessed. The moon had risen about half way up
from the horizon, and was now throwing its strong silver light over the
whitened façade of _our house_. Castles, palaces, and falling pyramids
were distinctly to be traced in the foreground. At a distance, walls and
mounds, rising above the green verdure of the land, looked like a
multitude of small islands in a calm summer’s sea. All was quiet but the
chirp of the cricket, or the occasional scream of some night-bird of the
wood. It was a scene of natural beauty such as I never have seen
realized upon canvass of the artist, or even in the pages of poetry.


                              CHAPTER IX.

Introductory Facts—Ruins of Yucatan and other parts of Mexico—Ruins of
  North America—Mississippi and Missouri—Look-Out Mountain—Ohio
  River—Mount Joliet and others—Indian Races—Ledyard—Bradford—Dr.
  Morton—Diversity of Opinions—Pyramids of
  and Mythology.

There are three questions which will very naturally occur to those of my
readers who have done me the honor to follow me through the preceding
details and statistics:—1st. By whom were these ruins built? 2d. When
were they built? And 3d. For what purpose? Before answering the first
question it is proper to state, that all the ruins of which mention has
been made in the preceding pages, and by Mr. Stephens and by Waldeck,
are not a tithe of those still remaining uninvestigated on the American
continent, and, perhaps I may add, in the single province of Yucatan.
Mounds, tumuli, pyramidal structures, and ruins of cities, have been
seen from the southern extremity of South America even to the western
side of the Rocky mountains—from Florida to the western lakes. There is
every reason to presume that the interior of Yucatan, and other portions
of Mexico, contain remains of even a more striking character than those
it has been my province to describe. The Ohio valley and its vicinage
are supposed to have been covered with more than five thousand villages,
the largest of which stood near the junction of the Missouri and
Mississippi rivers.[10] Regular and scientifically constructed works of
a defensive character, between the Ohio river and the great lakes, are
still to be traced; some of which occupied, it is thought, more than one
hundred acres of ground.

Look-Out Mountain, which stands a thousand feet above the surrounding
country, between the Tennessee and Coos rivers, is one of the
Alleghanies. Although the top is nearly level, it gives rise to a river
which, after winding some distance, plunges abruptly over a precipice.
Immediately below this fall, on each side, are bluffs two hundred feet
high; one of which, by the turn of the stream, forms a kind of isolated
peninsula. On the summit of this are the remains of a fortification,
that follows the curve of the river below for more than thirty-seven
rods, and extends to the very brow of the rock. The only descent and
access is by a kind of fissure, which reaches to the shore beneath.
Thirty feet from the top, intersecting this passage, is a ledge or
platform ninety feet long by two to five wide. At this landing are five
rooms, cut out of the solid rock. The entrance is small; but within they
communicate with each other by doors or apertures. This wonderful
excavation has the appearance of being intended as

a place of the last resort for the inmates. From its peculiar position,
twenty resolute men might successfully contend against the assault of a
numerous army, as not more than one at a time can approach, and the
slightest push would hurl an assailant over a precipice of a hundred and
fifty feet to certain and instant death. That this is a remnant of
antiquity there can be little doubt; and that it has escaped the
attention of the curious, is owing, probably, to its retired and almost
unknown situation.

On the Ohio river, twenty miles below the mouth of the Wabash, is a
remarkable cave, consisting of two rooms, one immediately over the
other. The uppermost is accessible by a square opening; and the lowest
is twelve rods in length and five in breadth. The interior walls are
smooth. The floor is level through the centre, but the sides rise in
stony grades, resembling the seats in the pit of a theatre; and leaving
little doubt that it had been so arranged to accommodate an audience
attending performances or deliberations of some nature. The engravings
and hieroglyphics upon the walls are numerous and well executed. Many
animals are represented, among which are eight that are now unknown.

There are conical mounds in Ohio of various altitudes and dimensions,
some being only four or five feet, and ten or twelve in diameter at the
base; while others, farther south, rise even to a hundred feet, and
cover many acres of ground. They are generally in the form of a cone.
These structures seem to have been built at various periods; and it
would be no matter of surprise if some of them were in existence during
the deluge. The materials which compose them appear to be suited to
their locations. In those positions where stone was not to be had, they
are formed of earth.

At Mount Joliet, near the town of Juliet, on the Illinois river, is
probably the largest mound within the limits of the United States. It is
raised on a horizontal limestone stratum of the secondary formation, and
is sixty feet high; and measures, at the summit, eighty-four rods in
length and fourteen in width; and, at the base, it is much larger. In
the neighborhood of Rock river (Illinois) the mounds are numerous, and
give evidence that there once existed in that vicinity a dense

Southeast of the city of Cuernavaca, on the west declivity of Anahuac,
there is an isolated hill, upon the top of which is a pyramid. The whole
height is upwards of six hundred feet, and it is five times as large as
the tower of Babel. It has five terraces, each of nearly sixty feet in
height, covered with solid masonry, upon the top of which rest the
artificial works; and the whole is surrounded with a broad deep ditch.

In Peru, on the Cordilleras, at a surprising height, are works still
more considerable. From a general resemblance of these structures
throughout the whole American continent in their apparent purpose, age,
and style of architecture, it is generally presumed that the architects
belonged to the same races of native Indians. I say races, for there are
reasons for believing that the American continent has witnessed the
growth and extinction of more than one race of men which had advanced to
a high state of civilization.

Wirt’s impressions are, that three distinct races of men have occupied
this country previous to the arrival of the existing white settlers. The
monuments of the first or primitive race are regular stone walls, brick
hearths, (found in digging the Louisville canal,) medals of copper,
silver swords, and implements of iron. These relics, he thinks, belonged
to a race of civilized men who must have disappeared many centuries ago.
To them he attributes the hieroglyphic characters found on the limestone
bluffs; the remains of cities and fortifications of Florida; the regular
banks of ancient live oaks near them; and the hard and regular bricks
found at Louisville, that were longer in proportion to the width than
those of the present day.

To the second race he attributes those vast mounds of earth found
throughout the whole western regions, from Lake Erie and Western
Pennsylvania to Florida and the Rocky mountains. Some of them contain
the skeletons of human beings, and display immense labor. Many of them
are regular mathematical figures—parallelograms and sections of circles;
showing the remains of gateways and subterraneous passages. Some of them
are eighty feet high, and have trees growing on them apparently five
hundred years old. The soil upon them differs, generally, from that
which surrounds them; and they are most common in situations where it
since has been found convenient to build towns and cities. Many
fragments of earthenware, of curious workmanship, have been dug up
throughout this vast region; some representing drinking vessels, some
human heads, and some idols. They all appeared to be made by the hand,
and hardened in the sun. These mounds and earthen implements indicate a
race inferior to the first, which were acquainted with the use of iron.

The third race are the Indians now existing in the western territories.
In the profound silence and solitude of these western regions, and above
the bones of a buried world, how must a philosophic traveller meditate
upon the transitory state of human existence, when the only traces of
two races of men are these strange memorials! On this very spot
generation after generation has stood, has lived, has warred, grown old,
and passed away; and not only their names, but their nation, their
language has perished, and utter oblivion has closed over their once
populous abodes! We call this country the new world. It is old! Age
after age, and one physical revolution after another, has passed over
it, but who shall tell its history?

Priest has concluded that the Carthaginians, Phœnicians, Persians,
Hindoos, Chinese, Japanese, Roman, and Greek nations of antiquity, and
others, as well as Europeans after their civilization, had more to do
with the peopling of the wilds of America than is generally supposed.

Ledyard, in a letter to Mr. Jefferson, from Siberia, says, “I never
shall be able, without seeing you in person, and perhaps not then, to
inform you how universally and circumstantially the Tartars resemble the
aborigines of America. They are the same people—the most ancient and the
most numerous of any other; and, had they not a small sea to divide
them, they would all have still been known by the same name. * * * With
respect to national or genealogical connexion, which the remarkable
affinity of person and manners bespeaks between the Indians on this and
the American continent, I declare my opinion to be, without the least
scruple, and with the most absolute conviction, _that the Indians on the
one and on the other are the same people_.”[11]

“It appears,” says Bradford, “that the red race may be traced, by
physical analogies, into Siberia, China, Japan, Polynesia, Indo-China,
the Malayan Islands, Hindostan, Madagascar, Egypt, and Etruria. In some
of these nations the pure type of the race may be perceived existing at
present, in others many of its characters have been changed and
modified, apparently by intermarriage; and, in others, its ancient
existence is only to be discovered by the records preserved on their

“We are constrained to believe,” says the learned Dr. Morton, “that
there is no more resemblance between the Indian and Mongol in respect to
arts, architecture, mental features, and social usages, than exists
between any other two distinct races of mankind.”

“I maintain that the organic characters of the people themselves,
through all their endless ramifications of tribes and nations, prove
them to belong to one and the same race, and that this race is distinct
from all others. * * * The evidences of history and the Egyptian
monuments go to prove that the same races were as distinctly marked
three thousand years ago as they are now; and, in fact, that they are
coeval with the primitive dispersion of our species.”

Whatever diversity of origin may have existed among the races of Indians
whose remains are the burden of our speculations, one thing is certain,
that the builders of the ruins of the city of Chi-Chen and Uxmal
excelled in the mechanic and the fine arts. It is obvious that they were
a cultivated, and doubtless a very numerous people. It is difficult to
suppose that any great advance in mechanico-dynamic science could have
been made by these people, without some evidence besides their works
remaining. Yet it is almost impossible to suppose that those vast
erections could have been made by the mere aggregation of men, unaided
by science. Herodotus tells us that a hundred thousand men, relieved
every three months, were employed in building the pyramid of Cheops in
Egypt. Ten years were spent in preparing the road whereon the stones
were to be transported, and twenty years more in erecting the edifice.
Yet though Cheops had a nation of slaves to do his bidding, and though
he employed such multitudes upon this stupendous work, it is generally
supposed that he must have been aided by some kind of machinery more
powerful than any thing known at the present day.

It is also pretty obvious that Chi-Chen, and the other cities of
Yucatan, were built by a nation of slaves. All the buildings whose
remains are now visible, were evidently constructed to gratify the pride
of a single man or set of men. They were monuments raised to the glory
of the few at the expense of the thousands. They are not the kind of
works that the people join in building of their own freewill. They
answer no public purpose or convenience. No nation of freemen would
spend their money or their labor in that way. We may safely conclude
that the doctrines of free government were quite unknown among this
ancient people—that they were governed by a despotism, and that they
were taxed contrary to their will, for these, the only works which were
to memorialize their servitude to posterity.

So much for the builders of these ruins. The next question which occurs,
when were they built? is, if possible, more difficult of solution than
the one to which I have been speaking.

The only way to get any idea of the age of these ruins is, by comparison
with the remains of other cities of whose age we have some knowledge.
Measuring their age by such a scale, the mind is startled at their
probable antiquity. The pyramids and temples of Yucatan seem to have
been old in the days of Pharaoh. Before the eye of the imagination—

                 “Their lonely columns stand sublime,
                   Flinging their shadows from on high,
                 Like dials, which the wizard Time
                   Had raised to count his ages by.”

The reader is already sufficiently familiar with the general structure
of the buildings which we have attempted to describe, and the present
condition of their ruins. He will remember that there are walls there
now standing, fifteen feet thick and more, built with an art and
strength which defy both competition and decay; that there is one
pyramid upwards of a hundred feet in height, with a building upon its
summit, which supports trees that are planted in soil deposited from the
atmosphere for the last thousand years or more. Let the reader compare
these ruins, in their present condition, with the Cloaca Maxima of Rome.
More than twenty-five hundred years have elapsed since this work was
constructed, to drain off the waters of the Forum and the adjacent
hollows to the Tiber, and there it stands to this day without a stone
displaced, still performing its destined service. How many years before
it will present the ruinous aspect of the “Temple” of Chi-Chen?
Evidently the city of Chi-Chen was an antiquity when the foundations of
the Parthenon at Athens, and the Cloaca Maxima at Rome, were being laid.
Compare with the ruins of Central America the conspicuous remains of
Balbeck, of Antioch, of Carthage—shall I not add, of Tadmor, of Thebes,
of Memphis, and of Gizeh, their Pyramids, their Labyrinths, their
Obelisks, and Sepulchres. Who shall say that while the servile workmen
of Cheops or Cephrinus were sacrificing the lives of countless
multitudes of men, to prove that the gods were not alone immortal, and
to rear for themselves imperishable burial-places, that at the same
time, on another continent, thousands of miles from the Egyptian house
of bondage, a people of a different race, unknowing and unknown to
history, were not laying the foundations of cities and of palaces and of
temples, less stupendous perhaps, but no less a wonder and a mystery to
succeeding nations? It is not for any man now to place a limit to the
age of the American ruins; but one thing will be evident to every one
who shall look at the more ancient of those in Yucatan, that they belong
to the remotest antiquity. Their age is not to be measured by hundreds,
but by thousands of years.

With regard to the purpose of these ruins, I can add little to the
suggestions which have already been made during the progress of my
narrative. They were, without a doubt, built primarily for the honor and
glory of the rulers of the country. They are, as Pliny very justly says,
when speaking of the similar achievements of the Eastern tyrants,
“_Regum pecuniœ otiosa ac stulta ostentatio_.” Their secondary purposes,
doubtless, were to be used as palatial residences, imperishable
sepulchres for the dead, and temples for religious worship. It is
impossible to suppose that any of the ruined buildings of which I have
given a description could have been intended for private abodes, or
could have been constructed by private enterprise. On the contrary, not
a vestige of the ordinary houses in which the masses might have been
supposed to reside, remain. Every memorial of the people is gone, save
the splendid structures which they erected to gratify the pride of their
kings and their priests.

In this connexion it may not be impertinent to allude to some of the
religious opinions and ceremonies of the South American nations, which
may throw light upon the topic under consideration.

Almost all the Indian tribes, even to the Charibs, have a traditionary
account of the deluge and of the creation; and, what is more singular,
relate it as occurring in or near their present locations upon this
continent—leading to the supposition of an antediluvian existence in
America. They also have their great supernatural benefactors. The
Brazilians have the Payzome, the Tamanac race their Amalivaca, the
Chileans their Them, the Muyscas their Bochica, the Peruvians their
Manco Capac, the Mexicans their Quetzalcoatl, and the Chiapasans their
Votan. This latter people represent Noah under the name of Coxox.

The art of embalming seems to have been perfectly well known to the
people who once inhabited the west, which shows that they were not the
same with the roving Indians of later date.[12] The practice of burning
the dead, which prevailed to a great extent in Asia and other parts of
the world, was customary among all the more civilized tribes. Their
usual method of burial was in the sitting posture.[13] Dr. Morton says,
that “no offence excites greater exasperation in the breast of the
Indian than the violation of the graves of his people; and he has been
known to disinter the bones of his ancestors, and bear them with him to
a great distance, when circumstances have compelled him to make a
permanent change of residence. The practice of inhumation is so
different from that practised by the rest of mankind, and at the same
time so prevalent among the American natives, as to constitute another
means of identifying them as parts of a single and peculiar race. This
practice consists in burying the dead in a sitting posture; the legs
being flexed against the abdomen, the arms also bent, and the chin
supported on the palms of the hands.”

All the civilized Americans had a priesthood, and circumcision was
practised by the Mayas of Yucatan, the Calchaquis of Caho.[14] and
Mexicans,[15] who worshipped the sun and stars, believing that departed
souls became stars. Water was held to be sacred for religious
ablution—and the mounds are generally found near it, or have the means
of being well supplied. Adair assures us that the Choctaws called the
old mounds “Nanne-Yah,” “The Hills or Mounts of God;” a name almost
identical with the Mexican pyramids. In Mexico, the Teocalli, or “Houses
of God,” or Houses of the Sun, (for the word “Teolt,” the appellation of
the Supreme Being, was also used to denote that luminary,) were regular
terraced pyramids, supporting chapels, which contained the images of
their idolatry. The temples of the sun and moon, in Mexico, resemble
similar temples among the ancient Romans. The sun was worshipped at
Emesa, says Gibbon, under the name of Elagabalus, under the form of a
black conical stone, which, it was universally believed, had fallen from
heaven on that sacred spot.

The Siamese and Javanese divide their weeks similar to the Mexicans, the
first, like theirs, being market-day; and their cycles, like the Maya
age, consisted of twenty years. This was a custom with them previous to
any connexion with the Hindoos.[16] The belief of the Mayas and
Mexicans, that the world would be destroyed at the end of one of their
ages, coincides singularly with the same impression among the Egyptians,
according to Herodotus, when they saw the sun descend from the Crab
toward Capricorn. In the festival of Isis, when the orb began to
re-appear, and the days grew longer, they robed themselves in white
garments, and crowned themselves with flowers.

The movements of the Pleiades were observed by most of the primitive
nations, says Pritchard, and not less so by the southern and central
Indians. It is an Egyptian legend that the body of Osiris (the moon) was
cut to pieces by Typhon (the sun.) So, likewise, in the Mexican
mythology, the woman serpent (the moon) is said to be devoured by the
sun; a fabulous allusion to the changes of the moon. In Mexico the woman
serpent, or moon, was styled the “mother of our flesh;” so, in Egypt,
that luminary was called the “mother of the world.” The Mexicans,
Peruvians, Araucanians, the Canadian and Huron Indians; as, also, the
Chinese, Malays, and Hindoos, in cases of eclipses of the sun or moon,
shot off arrows at them, made hideous noises, caused dogs to bark and
howl, and in every possible way struggled to separate the two

Thus much with regard to the impressions left upon my mind respecting
the origin and purpose of these ruins. I make no apology for their
vagueness. It would be presumptuous to attempt to have any definite
ideas upon the subject. But in order to afford the reader every facility
for forming clearer views, if possible, than myself, I have collected
and subjoin in another chapter, a mass of historical information
connected with the subject before me, selected from the writings of the
most recent, sagacious, and faithful travellers, who have left us any
record of their studies. These extracts present all the most important
facts known of the early inhabitants of Mexico. How far history can
assist the antiquary in his investigations of this subject, may be
pretty satisfactorily judged by consulting the following chapter.


                               CHAPTER X.

Waldeck’s Remarks on Uxmal—Ancient Tools—Soil and Health—Ancient
  Customs—End of Time—The Coronation of an Emperor—Religious
  Beliefs—Marriage Ceremony—Infant Baptism—Origin of those Rites—Horse
  Worship—Amusements—Markets—Idols—Candidates for Matrimony—Their
  Worship Varies—Refinements.

In respect to the ruins of Uxmal, Waldeck remarks, that “nothing is in
stucco—all is in well-worked stone. Cogolludo and Gutierre have
confounded Palenque with Uxmal, and Uxmal with Copan. The edifices of
Palenque, except the palace, are of small dimensions—those of Uxmal are,
comparatively, colossal, and all constructed of hewn stone. The pyramid
is called the Conjurer’s Tower, and is the highest of five seen by the
author. He considers it a place originally devoted to sacrifices. The
Asiatic style is easily recognised in the architecture of this monument.
It is ornamented by the symbolic elephant upon the rounding corners of
the building. The trunk is yet visible on the east side, though the
whole figure is much broken on the west side. It is to be regretted that
the figure is not entire. The legs, for the most part, are wanting.
There are some statues in basso-relievo, very natural; and in some
respects very correctly designed. Above all, in the ornaments, we must
admire the patience of the workmen, and the taste of those ancient
people, so rich in monumental wealth. Blue and red are the only colors
distinguishable upon the walls. The carvings, which ornament the façades
of some of the edifices of Uxmal, deserve the careful attention of
artists and savans. When they carefully examine the squares, which
compose those beautiful embellishments, they will be convinced that
their designers had a profound knowledge of the principles of geometry.
I have measured all the details by plumb and line, and have found them
to conform to each other with perfect accuracy in all their parts.”

No iron implements, or tools of any description, have been discovered
here; nor was I successful in finding anything of the kind at Chi-Chen.
Flint was undoubtedly used. This stone is capable of being formed with a
most delicate natural edge, which is as durable, in the working of
limestone, as that of steel.

The soil about Uxmal is rich, principally of a red sand loam, capable of
producing corn, tobacco, and almost any other product that the limited
industry of its inhabitants may be disposed to cultivate. The face of
the land is somewhat undulating, and free of that flat monotonous
appearance which may be considered as almost an affliction to a great
portion of this province. There are ponds in the vicinity; which, taken
in connexion with the rank vegetation which borders them, engender
considerable sickness during the months of autumn. The timber throughout
Yucatan is of a stinted growth.

Antonio de Solis, the author of the “History of the Conquest of Mexico,”
a work of even classical merit, written at a period when he could have
access to all the facts, gives some of the peculiar customs of the
natives of Mexico that may be very properly noticed here; as they may
throw some light upon the subject when the matter is brought to the
reflection of those who are more competent than I am to draw
conclusions. Some allowance should be made for the religious prejudices
of the age in which this book was produced, and of its author. De Solis
says that the Mexicans adjusted their calendar by the motion of the sun,
making his altitude and declination the measure of times and seasons.
They allowed to their years three hundred and sixty-five days, and
divided them into eighteen months of twenty days each; leaving the five
overplus days to come in at the end of the year, which were celebrated
as holydays. Their weeks consisted of thirteen days, with different
names marked in their calendar by images. The “age” or cycle, in their
calendar, was four weeks of years, marked by a circle, which they
divided into fifty-two degrees, allowing a year to each degree. In the
centre of this circle they painted the sun, from whose rays proceeded
four lines of different colors, which equally divided the circumference,
leaving thirteen degrees to each semi-diameter; and these divisions
served as signs of their zodiac, upon which their ages had their
revolutions, and the sun his aspects, prosperous or adverse, according
to the colors of the lines. In a large circle, enclosing the other, they
marked, with their figures and characters, the accidents of the age, and
all circumstances which had happened worthy of being remembered. These
secular maps were public instruments, which served for a proof of their
history. It may be remarked among the wisest institutions of their
government, that they had official historiographers, whose duty it was
to preserve for posterity the exploits of their nation.

They had a superstition that the world was in danger of destruction at
the last day of the “age” of fifty-two years; and all the people
prepared themselves for that dreadful and ultimate calamity. They took
leave of the light with tears, and expected death without any previous
sickness. They broke their household vessels as unnecessary lumber,
extinguished their fires, and walked about like disturbed people,
without daring to take any rest, till they knew whether they were to be
for ever consigned to the regions of darkness. On the dawning of day
they began to recover their spirits, with their eyes fixed towards the
east; and, at the first appearance of the sun, they saluted him with all
their musical instruments, and congratulated each other upon their
security for the duration of another age. They immediately crowded to
their temples to render thanks to their gods, and to receive from the
priests new fire, which had been preserved by them throughout the night.
Next, they made a new provision for their necessary subsistence, and
this day was spent in public rejoicings; the diversions being dedicated
to the renewal of time, much after the manner of the secular games among
the Romans.

Their emperor, who was chosen by electoral princes upon the death of his
predecessor, receives the crown upon very precise conditions. He is
obliged to take the field with the forces of the empire, and obtain some
victory over his enemies, or subdue some rebels or some neighboring
province, before he can be crowned, or permitted to ascend the royal
throne. So soon as the victorious prince was found to be qualified for
the regal dignity by the success of his enterprise, he returned
triumphantly to the city, and made his public entry with great state and
solemnity. The nobility, ministers, and priests accompanied him to the
temple of war, where, after he had offered the customary sacrifices, the
electoral princes clothed him in the royal robes; arming his right hand
with a sword of gold, edged with flint, the ensign of justice, and his
left with a bow and arrows, signifying his power and command in war.
Then the first elector, the king of Tezcuco, placed the crown upon his
head. After this, one of the most eloquent magistrates made a long
harangue, wishing him joy of the dignity in the name of the whole
empire; and added some documents, representing the troubles and cares
that attend a crown, with the obligations he lay under to guard the
public good of his kingdom; recommending to him the imitation of his
ancestors. This speech being ended, the chief of the priests approached
him with great reverence, and between his hands the emperor took the
oath with great solemnity. He swore to maintain the religion of his
ancestors; to observe the laws and customs of the empire; to treat his
vassals with lenity; that, during his rule, they should have seasonable
rains; and that no inundations of rivers, sterility of soil, or
malignant influence of the sun, should happen.

Amidst such a multitude of gods as they worship, they still acknowledge
a superior deity, to whom they attribute the creation of the heavens and
the earth.[17] This first cause of all things was, among the Mexicans,
without a name; there being no word in their language whereby to express
his attributes. They only signified that they knew him by looking
towards heaven with veneration, and giving him, after their way, the
attribute of ineffable, with the same religious uncertainty as the
Athenians worshipped the Unknown God. They believed in the immortality
of the soul, and in future rewards and punishments. They buried great
quantities of gold and silver with their dead, in a belief that it was
necessary to bear their expenses through a long and troublesome journey.
They put to death some of their servants to accompany them; and it was a
common thing for wives to consummate the exequies of their husbands by
their own deaths. Princes were obliged to have monuments of vast extent,
for the greatest part of their riches and family were interred with
them; both the one and the other in proportion to their dignity and
grandeur. The whole of the servants were obliged to accompany the prince
into the other world, together with some flatterers among them; who, at
that time, suffered for the deceit of their profession.

The marriage was a kind of contract, with some religious ceremonies. The
preliminary articles being all agreed upon, the couple appeared in the
temple, and one of the priests examined their inclinations by certain
formal questions, appointed by law for that purpose. He then took the
tip of the woman’s veil with one hand, and one corner of the husband’s
garment in the other, and tied them together at the ends, to signify the
interior tie of their affections. Thus they returned to their
habitation, accompanied by the same priest; where, imitating the Romans
with regard to their _dii Lares_, or household gods, they paid a visit
to the domestic fire, which they believed concerned in the union between
the married pair. They went round it seven times, following the priest;
after which they sat down to receive their equal share of the heat, and
this accomplished their marriage. They registered in a public instrument
the portion brought by the bride, every part whereof the husband was
obliged to restore in case they parted, which very frequently happened;
for mutual consent was judged to be a sufficient cause for a divorce; a
case in which the laws never interfered. When once thus dissolved, it
was inevitable death for them to come together again. Inconstancy was
punished with the utmost rigor.

Their new-born infants were carried to the temples with solemnity, and
the priests received them with certain admonitions concerning the
troubles to which they were born. If they were the sons of nobles, they
put a sword into the child’s right hand, and upon his left arm a shield,
kept in the temple for that purpose. If of plebeian extraction, they put
into their hands mechanical instruments; and the females, of both
degrees, had only the distaff and spindle, signifying to each the kind
of employment which destiny had prepared for them. This ceremony over,
they were brought to the altar, and there, with a thorn of maguey, or a
lancet of flint, they drew some drops of blood from the privy parts;
after which they either sprinkled them with water, or dipped them into
it; using, at the same time, certain invocations. This appears to be a
striking imitation of baptism and circumcision, which De Solis very
piously attributes to the devil; who, he also says, introduced among
these barbarians the confession of sins, giving it to be understood that
thereby they obtained the favor of their gods. He (the devil) likewise
instituted a sort of communion, which the priest administered upon
certain days of the year; dividing into small bits an idol made of flour
and honey, mixed into a paste, which they called the god of Penitence.
They had jubilees, processions, offerings of incense, and the other
forms of divine worship. They even gave their chief priests the title of
_papas_ in their language; which, together with other imitations of the
Catholic church, the author thinks must have cost Satan a deal of close
study and perseverance!

The rest of the rites and ceremonies of “these miserable heathen were
shocking and horrible both to reason and nature; bestialities, and
incongruous, stupid absurdities; which seemed altogether incompatible
with the regularity and admirable economy which were observed in the
other parts of the government, and would scarcely be believed were not
history full of examples of the like weaknesses and errors of men in
other nations, and in parts of the world where they have the means of
being more enlightened. Sacrifices of human blood began about the same
time with idolatry. The horrible and detestable custom of eating human
flesh has been practised many ages since among the barbarous people of
our hemisphere, as Galatia confesses in her antiquities; and Scythia, in
her Anthropophagi, must acknowledge the same. Greece and Rome wanted the
knowledge of true religion, and were complete idolaters; although, in
everything else, they gave laws to the whole world, and left edifying
examples to posterity.” He therefore concludes that the Mexican worship
was no other than a detestable compound of all the errors and
abominations which have been received among the Gentiles in different
parts of the world.

Don Solis would not enter into a detail of their particular festivals
and sacrifices, their ceremonies, sorceries, and superstitions; not only
because they are met at every step, with tedious repetitions, in the
histories, but because it is his opinion that too much caution cannot be
observed in restricting the pen upon a subject of this nature; at best
to be looked upon as an unnecessary lesson, affording the reader little
pleasure and much less profit.

With all due deference to the erudition and moral feelings of the author
above, so largely quoted, I doubt whether information of consequence
might not be obtained from the minutiæ of these ceremonies, trifling as
they appear, that would be of importance to the future historian. If the
exploits of these nations had been handed down even in the writings of
those “capable historiographers,” it would have been some consolation
for the absence of any better authority.[18] The suppression of these
records we cannot pardon—the natives erred through ignorance; their
conquerors, from a policy only worthy of the darkest ages. They not only
destroyed what they confess to be a wise and excellent government, but
they buried in oblivion the very name of the people they so mercilessly
obliterated from a national (it may almost be said from an earthly)

Waldeck, in referring back to the time that Cortez was in Tabasco, gives
an account of a sick horse left with the Indians by that almost
worshipped commander; which, under the rich and unnatural food they
furnished him, very naturally famished. Some say he was fed with grains
of gold; the natives judging, from the prevailing passion of his former
masters, that this would be his most satisfactory diet. He died, poor
horse, however, as might have been anticipated, under their unfortunate
attentions; but the consequences did not end here. They erected an
elegant temple to his memory, deified him, and placed him among the most
prominent of their gods, where he received their faithful and regular
devotions. In after years, the missionaries and Spanish priests had more
difficulty to dissuade them from the worship of this horse, which they
called Tizimin,[19] than they had from all their other gods. From this
circumstance, it appears that this temple must have been built after the
conquest; and, as it possesses architectural beauty in no respect
inferior to the temples of a more ancient date, we may infer that the
same race of people that produced it, may have been the architects of
the most elaborate works among the ruins.[20]

Bernal Diez, a companion of Cortez, who has written a particular account
of the conquest, but not with the elegance of De Solis, is very minute
in describing the great temples in Mexico, the gods, and the rich
splendor of the city. One part of it was occupied by Montezuma’s
dancers; some of whom bore sticks on their feet, others flew in the air,
and others danced like _matachines_. The gardens of the great Indian
prince were very extensive, irrigated by canals of running water, and
shaded with every variety of trees. In them were baths of cut stone,
pavilions for feasting or retirement, and theatres for shows and for the
dancers and singers; all of which were kept in the most exact order by
laborers employed for the purpose.

The market was held upon the grand square. Here, in places prepared for
the purpose, was every kind of merchandise in use among them; consisting
of gold, silver, jewels, feathers, mantles, chocolate, skins, sandals,
slaves, and all the varieties of food, cooked and in a raw state.
Mechanics, in all branches, here performed their labors; and every thing
appeared to be done in the greatest harmony. Judges regularly presided
here to decide any disputes, and to see that the laws were duly executed
and obeyed.

A circuit was made through a number of large courts (the smallest of
which is larger than the great square of Salamanca) before we entered
the great temple, which had double enclosures, built of stone and lime,
and the courts paved with large white cut stone, very clean; and, where
it was not paved, plastered and polished. The ascent to the temple was
by one hundred and fourteen steps; from the top of which was a complete
view of the city and the surrounding neighborhood. Here were two altars,
highly adorned, with richly wrought timbers on the roof; and, over the
altars, gigantic figures resembling very fat men. One was
Huitzilopochtli, their war god, with a great face and terrible eyes. His
figure was entirely covered with gold and jewels, and his body bound
with golden serpents. In his right hand he held a bow, and in his left a
bundle of arrows. A little idol stood by, representing his page, who
bore a lance and target richly ornamented with gold and jewels. The
great idol had round his neck the figures of human heads and hearts made
of pure gold and silver, ornamented with precious stones of a blue
color. On the left was the other large figure, with a countenance like a
bear, and big shining eyes of a polished substance (mica) like their
mirrors. The body of this idol was also covered with jewels. These two
deities were said to be brothers. The name of this last was Tezcatepuca,
and he was the god of the infernal regions; and, according to their
belief, presided over the souls of men. His body was covered with
figures representing little devils, with the tails of serpents. In the
summit of the temple, and in a recess, the timber of which was highly
ornamented, was a figure half human and the other half resembling an
alligator, inlaid with jewels and partly covered with a mantle. This
idol was said to contain the germ and origin of all created things, and
was the god of harvests and fruits. These places were exceedingly
offensive from the smell of human blood, with which they were besmeared.
Here was an enormous drum, (the head was made of the skin of a large
serpent,) the sound of which could be heard the distance of two leagues.

At a little distance from this temple stood a tower. At the door were
frightful idols; by it was a place for sacrifice; and, within, boilers
and pots full of water, to dress the flesh of the victims, which was
eaten by the priests. The idols were like serpents and devils, and
before them were tables and knives for sacrifice; the place being
covered with the blood which was spilt on these occasions. Crossing a
court is another temple, wherein were the tombs of the Mexican nobility.
Next this was yet another, full of skeletons and piles of bones; each
kept apart, but regularly arranged. In each temple were idols and its
particular priests; the latter of whom wore long vestments of black,
somewhat between the dress of the Dominicans and canons.

At a certain distance from the buildings last spoken of were others, the
idols of which were the superintendent deities of marriages; near which
was a large structure occupied by Mexican women, who resided there, as
in a nunnery, until they were married. They worshipped two female
deities, who presided over marriages; and to them they offered
sacrifices, in order to obtain good husbands.

Each province had its peculiar gods, who were supposed to have no
concern with any other; so that, in consequence, there were a great
multiplicity of idols in the various districts.[21] Mexico was thought
to have attained its zenith at the time Cortez first entered it. The
city had risen up in about one hundred and thirty years (from 1388 to
1518) solely by the aid of its military power. As the great temple,
however, is said to have existed a thousand years, this assertion is
hardly reconcilable with the facts. The Tlascalans not only proved
themselves to be as warlike as the Mexicans, but equally qualified as
statesmen. They held it as a principle, that “whatever was unlawful,
with them, was impossible.” At Zempoala books were seen in their
temples, containing the rites of their religion, written in imagery or
ciphers, as was customary with the painters of Teutile, at Tabasco.[22]
The same kind of writing was noticed at Mexico, done on cotton cloth.

Waldeck says that there exists a history of the original Conquest of
Yucatan, written by Villa Gutierre, a copy of which was found in the
archives of the cathedral at Merida. This work is very superior to the
voluminous and undigested compilation of Cogolludo; at the same time it
must be remarked, it carries a similar theological coloring and
religious prejudice. So, though Villa Gutierre was neither priest nor
monk, he none the less invoked, in each page, the trinity and the
saints; and even his book is dedicated to the holy Virgin. This was the
madness of the epoch; Spanish and American literature was entirely
placed under the auspices of monkish bigots, who wrote their histories
in the same style as they did the lives of the saints.

Besides these authors there is no other historian of Yucatan. I have an
abridged manuscript copy of Cogolludo in my possession; but, from a
close examination, it appears to be unworthy of translation. The
numerous writers on Mexico are well known to the reader. Baron Humboldt
is deservedly the most celebrated who has treated on that subject; and
his writings are an honor to the age. But the most remarkable work that
has ever probably been produced, is that of the late Lord Kingsborough,
on American Antiquities, which is acknowledged to be the most costly
undertaking ever attempted by a single individual, of a literary kind. A
copy, and the only one in the United States, is in the possession of the
Pennsylvania Library, at Philadelphia. The collection of materials was
made by Augustine Aglis, who edited and published it in London, in 1830.
He has succeeded in “getting up” a splendid book, but the compilation
falls short of its merits. It is comprised in seven immense folio
volumes, embellished with upwards of a thousand splendid engravings,
colored with the greatest neatness and skill. It is said that only about
fifty copies were suffered to be struck, to be presented to friends. The
plates were then defaced. It cost something like one hundred and fifty
thousand dollars to produce this work. This patron of literature and the
arts, a short period since, died in the prison of Dublin, a sad instance
of self-immolation to his own munificence; his fate being but a
melancholy inducement for others to follow his example.



                              CHAPTER XI.

Departure from Uxmal—Abala—The Road—The Curate’s Hacienda—Arrival at
  Merida—Hotel de Diligencias—Bishop Preaching—Strange Scenes—Parting
  with José—Departure from Merida—Coach and Passengers—Scenes of the
  Road—Zibackchen—Accommodations—Arrival at Campeachy.

The reader will remember that the narrative of my journeyings terminated
at Uxmal. I finished making my observations of those ruins, and on the
4th of March embarked in a Yucatan coach and four, (four stout Indians,)
crossed the Cordilleras, and the same night slept at the Casa-real at
Muna, distant three leagues.

While waiting for my tortillas and eggs, I shall be pardoned for
expressing my acknowledgments to the major-domo of the hacienda at
Uxmal, to whom I was indebted for many kindnesses; and it will not be
amiss to add, that his was one of the best managed estates that I
observed in Yucatan.

The hacienda is built of hewn stone, taken principally from the ruins;
more of which the Indians are now engaged in bringing away for the
improvements the building is at present undergoing. It is about eighty
feet front, having one range of rooms, with a high and wide balcony in
front and rear, with a small chapel attached. In front is the
cattle-yard, with its stone and mortar troughs for water, and wells and
cisterns at the sides; the whole surrounded by a high stone wall, in the
front centre of which is an immense arch-way, set off with pinnacled
ornaments selected from the ruins.

There are a large number of Indians attached to this hacienda, who
appear well; and so does every thing else connected with it. Different
from many others, this establishment has an air of comfort and
prosperity, much to the credit of those who supervise its concerns. It
has its six hundred bee-hives, which are made of hollow logs, cut into
lengths of two feet each. They are well arranged under sheds erected for
the purpose—opened monthly, and the honey extracted. They do not yield
so much honey, or of so good a quality, neither are the bees as lively
as those of the north. Their bees have no sting. Great attention is paid
to the preservation of the wax, which is almost a staple in the country,
so much is consumed in the religious exercises.

On the following morning we were detained for the want of a mule, and as
it had been engaged at an early hour, I felt not a little annoyed at the
disappointment. To indemnify myself in some measure, I resolved to look
at the town; but it was all like other towns here. That which most
attracted my attention was seeing the Indian women, with their leathern
buckets, and coils of long rope about their heads, and earthen pots
under their arms, going to the well, which is in the centre of the
square, to draw water. I thought of Rebecca—of the custom among the
ancient Israelitish women, of performing the same duty—and of the lost
tribes; and I wondered if they did not stray this way, and found all
these large cities that are now tumbling to dust—and I was lost in
reflection, and—lost my way to the Casa-real. Making my course through
squatted Indians and these female water-carriers, who had led me out of
the path, as they have many a wiser man before, I discovered the
stopping-place and waiting mule much easier than a solution to my new

At ten o’clock we were ready once more to set off upon our journey, over
a rocky road, taking the former from choice, the latter from necessity.
After travelling four leagues, we passed through the small Indian town
of Abala. This place has a very neat white church, which was embellished
with two turrets, making a pretty appearance amidst the dulness of every
thing around it. There being no particular inducement to delay here, we
once more took up our march, and, at five o’clock, and two leagues
distant, we arrived at an hacienda belonging to one of the principal
curates of the province, (Isamul,) where we remained for the night. The
house, although plain, was so arranged as to be both convenient and
pleasant. It looked quite unlike any of the buildings for similar
purposes in the country, but resembled that of one of those comfortable
Dutch farm-houses, so common in Pennsylvania. It had a garden unusually
well cultivated, and great attention was paid to the fruit trees. I
noticed that great attention was given also to irrigation, and, all
things taken into consideration, it struck me as being a place where a
man might make himself comparatively happy. Among the inmates of the
house I observed a number of beautiful Mestizos, but they did not
outnumber those of the curate’s house in Valladolid.

At three o’clock, on the following morning, our feet were in the
stirrups; and bidding a kind adieu to our host, we were soon upon our
rocky path, under the light of a waning moon. It must not be supposed
that either the excellence of the road, or the particularly early hour,
held out many inducements for leaving such desirable quarters; but I was
anxious to reach Merida with the least possible delay. The distance was
six leagues to the city, which we reached, after passing through several
haciendas, encountering clouds of dust under a scorching sun, on the 6th
day of March. The appearance of the streets, as we rode through them,
was singular. The stores and houses were closed, and scarcely a person
was to be seen. It was evidently the much respected hour of siesta.
Clouds of the fine white dust of the streets filled the air. It was like
entering a city in the desert of Barca.

I stopped at the “Hotel des Diligences,” which had been opened during my
absence; and though I could not but feel some compunctions at having
thus deserted the amiable Doña Michaelé, yet as she only kept her house
purely for the accommodation of strangers, I felt my defection to be
less serious. The new hotel was liberally supplied with all the natural
advantages that are necessary to make its inmates comfortable. It was,
in fact, _un hotel Français_, and reminded me strongly of those to be
met with upon the borders of Switzerland, which, I am right glad to see,
are finding their way into this province. Perhaps there is no part of
the world where the traveller is more at a loss for accommodations upon
the road, than in Yucatan.

The jaded horses being provided for, I, as is my wont, soon made myself
perfectly at home, and as happy as I could. I was not a little rejoiced
to find that the hotel was provided with a bathing-room, a luxury of
which I was not long in availing myself. I came out completely
renovated, and with all convenient speed swung myself into a hammock and

On Sunday I attended public worship at the cathedral. The bishop
delivered his last of an annual series of ten sermons. “Heaven” was the
subject of his discourse. The church was well filled; the ladies, of
course, and as usual, constituting a majority of the numerous assemblage
that attended. They looked exceedingly well, though I could reconcile
myself with difficulty to their seating themselves upon the cold stone
floor. The words of the bishop, at the remote position which I occupied
in the church, were indistinctly heard; and, therefore, I am unable to
give any opinion of their merits. One thing is certain, their author
looked the prelate to admiration. It was rather an ungentlemanly or
thoughtless act of the commanding officer on parade in the adjoining
square, to fire a feu-de-joie during the preaching. It had the effect of
putting to rout many of the congregation, and drowning the bishop’s
voice, very much to his discomfiture. I had entertained much doubt
respecting the popularity of the church among the higher order and the
better informed people of Yucatan, and this went far to establish it. It
is policy, however, to keep it up as it is—but such examples as this
have quite a contrary tendency.

For the last ten days the city has presented a singular aspect. Stores
have been closing and opening. Processions, military and ecclesiastical,
have been the order of the day. Images, of all sizes and distinctions,
have been paraded through the public streets, and the churches crowded
with women. Prayers were uttered aloud in the public thoroughfares of
the city; and places of most resort, filled with both sexes, arrayed in
suits of mourning. Government officers received indulgences, and all
public labor was suspended. It was the enacting of the scenic shows of
the death and rising of our Saviour. At half-past eight o’clock this
morning, all the bells (and here are not a few) were put in motion. The
Saviour had risen, and all was life—as life is in Merida!

My preparations for leaving Merida were completed. It was now late in
the evening, the last night of my stay at Merida; and José had hung
about, for one petty excuse or other, although he was sick, with an
affectionate reluctance to leave me for the last time. The cause was
almost too prominent to escape notice; and the remembrance of his little
frailties, and they were remarkably few, was at once buried in oblivion.
He wanted to accompany me home, but his health would not permit; and I
was obliged to forego the indulgence of his wishes, and my own
inclination to enjoy the advantage of his faithful services. The time
has been when I have parted from a good old horse with an agitated
bosom, and could less have been expected upon this occasion? The truth
must be told; we both shed tears. I felt sincerely sorry to part with
him. Poor José, God bless him! all I can do for him now is to give him
my kind wishes, and to speak of him as he is—and to say to my countrymen
who may visit Merida, that if they want a boy upon whom they can depend
to follow them faithfully through the world, José is the lad to do it.

On the 7th of April, after experiencing a touch of the fever, to which
all strangers are subjected in this country, I left Merida, by coach,
for Campeachy. It started at five o’clock in the morning, with three
passengers; an elderly woman and man and myself composing the load. The
team galloped off at the rate of ten miles the hour, and changed horses
every hour during the route. The coach was one of four which were
imported from Troy; and, as a sample, was well worthy of the high
reputation the Trojan carriages enjoy throughout the United States; but
the horses and harness were in shocking bad keeping.

The driver was an Indian; besides whom were two other attendants, who
were needed, for the unskilful hands of the Indian, and the wildness of
the horses, made the vehicle go on all sides of the road. It was no
uncommon occurrence, to be brought up against a stone wall at the side
of the road; and, in one instance, we were foul of an Indian hut, which
frightened the inmates to such a degree that they ran out, supposing it
to be an earthquake. By combining the skill and strength of our whole
party, we succeeded in getting the horses and coach again upon the

We stopped at a village to take breakfast, and passed through several
towns on the road, but they afforded nothing worthy of remark. The
country through which our route lay, presented the same aspect as other
parts we had visited. The fields were still covered with weeds, to burn
which the proprietors of the soil were only waiting for dry weather.
This is the only preparation the soil receives prior to sowing it. The
progress of the coach afforded us much amusement, by the fright which it
appeared to occasion to all animated nature in our way. This line of
coaches had been only a short time established, and its whirling along
among people and cattle, had a similar effect that a locomotive has
among the animals and their owners in the wilds of the far West. Nothing
would stand before it. Away went horse and rider, mule and packs, to
secure a safe retreat in the bushes, at the alarming sound of our
approach. Our arrival in the town brought out the whole population, and
the Indians would come round the coach aching with curiosity, their
countenances expressive both of fear and admiration.

Dinner was procured at a town called Zibackchen, and we remained here,
for the want of horses, during the night. Our dining apartment was a
billiard-room, where we sat down to a small table, four in all; our
conductor making one of the number. Our elderly male companion had
evidently seen better days. He was much soured at the appearance of the
viands placed before us; and well he might be, for, agreeably to my
recollections, they were shockingly bad, and dirty withal. There was but
one knife; and that was used for the purpose of scraping the forks; and
yet, the charges were most extravagant. This, too, is the depôt, under
the personal supervision of the owners of the coaches, as we understood;
the principal of whom is the Secretary of State! He, at least, ought to
know the fact, and cause the evil to be abated. If I were upon those
terms of intimacy that would warrant the freedom, with the kindliest
motives, I would not hesitate to inform him of the existence of this
crying evil. Our restiff fellow-passenger had spent some little time in
New York, and was continually drawing comparisons; and, in his vexation
at the things around him, expressed his opinion that Yucatan would never
excel that State. This was a point upon which I felt no great
disposition to cavil.

I walked through the town at four o’clock. The streets were deserted,
the houses closed, and the people in their hammocks. At five, men were
lounging about, and the ladies making their toilet, either at the
windows or doors. This is a large town, and well built; but not more
than one-half of the houses are occupied.

Early in the evening hammocks were slung in the billiard-room, (the
place that had been the scene of our recent dinner,) and all my
fellow-passengers and myself, without distinction of party or sex,
conductors and Indians, turned in for the night.

At four o’clock, next morning, we were called; chocolate was served, and
we were soon off by the light of—our cigars; our lady passenger keeping
up the supply from an ample depository in the folds of her hair. The
road was extremely stony, but it was now undergoing repairs and
improvements. We arrived at Campeachy at nine o’clock; a distance from
Merida of forty leagues, and were set down at the Traveller’s Hotel,
immediately in front of the bay. Here is a fine view of the open
roadstead, in which lie at anchor one Havana packet, and some four or
five schooners. Near the shore are a number of canoes, engaged in the
coasting trade.

    [Illustration: CAMPEACHY.]


                              CHAPTER XII.

Reception at Campeachy—The City—Public Buildings—The Convent—The
  Market—Charity—An Ancient Custom—Population—The College—Foundations of
  the City—Subterraneous Caverns—The Suburbs—The Harbor—Climate and
  Health—Various Ruins—The Author’s Collection of Idols—Dr. Morton on
  the Archæology of Yucatan—Other Ruins—Reptiles and Insects—A Concealed
  Nation—The Brothers Camachos.

My reception at Campeachy was extremely gratifying. There is evidently a
class of society here which contrasts favorably with any to be found in
the other cities of the province. The streets are narrow and irregular;
and have a natural pavement of flat stone, which is much broken, and
makes an exceedingly rough route for carriages. The buildings have not
the clean appearance of those of Merida, owing to the extreme humidity
that accompanies the sea winds; but they display more wealth and taste.

The public buildings on the square are of two stories, and tastefully
ornamented and painted. The churches, as usual, are the most conspicuous
public works. The private houses, generally, are of one-story, and well
painted. There are few good two-story houses in the place.

The convent at Campeachy is a huge mass of stone and mortar; the walls
of which bear the marks of the balls from the cannon of the besiegers of
1840, when the government troops fired upon the town. The cannonading
was continued for three days, but without doing much execution! The city
was obliged, however, to capitulate, for want of ammunition and

The market is well furnished with fruit, vegetables, and fish, and the
customary supplies of meat generally found in similar establishments
throughout Mexico; but articles are much dearer here than in other parts
of Yucatan. This is owing, probably, to the great influx of strangers.
The greater amount of money thrown into circulation has of course a
tendency to enhance the value of the necessaries and luxuries of life,
here, as elsewhere.

Every Saturday brings from the country to the streets of this city a
horde of Indian beggars, who are not to be seen here upon any other day
of the week, and to whom alms are liberally distributed by the
inhabitants. This is a custom, no doubt, that is handed down from the
time of the conquest. The friars were in the habit of giving charity to
the poor on the same day.

The city, including the suburbs outside the walls, contains a population
of about fifteen thousand. There is an “alamede” outside these walls,
which affords a pretty little place for a walk, and there are pleasant
drives around in the neighborhood. There is a college in Campeachy
similar to that of Merida, with six professors, the highest salary of
any one of whom is six hundred dollars per annum. There are fifty-five
pupils, besides thirteen on the foundation. Like all other literary
institutions in this country, it is poorly supported.

The town of Campeachy, built entirely of a calcareous hewn stone, stands
upon a foundation of the same substance, which extends throughout the
whole peninsula, retreating from the sea-shore with a gradual elevation,
until it reaches to the height of five hundred feet, the level of Sierra
Alta, near Tecax. This immense rock has doubtless furnished material,
before the conquest, for the construction of those stupendous temples,
and other magnificent buildings, that now constitute the ruins of this

The whole of Campeachy rests upon a subterraneous cavern of the ancient
Mayas. It is now difficult to ascertain whether these quarries or
galleries, which, according to the traditions of the country, are
understood to be immense, served for the abode of the people who
executed the work. Nothing reveals the marks of man’s sojournings here;
not even the traces of smoke upon the vaults were visible. It is more
probable that the greater part of this excavation was used as a
depository for their dead. This supposition has been strengthened by the
discovery of many openings of seven feet deep by twenty inches in
breadth, dug horizontally in the walls of the caverns. These
excavations, however, are few; and the galleries have been but little
investigated and less understood. Even the inhabitants of the dwellings
above know scarcely any thing respecting these dark habitations.

These catacombs occasion frequent accidents. “Some time before my
arrival,” says Waldeck, “the centre of Moille street caved in. Happily,
this gallery did not extend beneath the houses. Arches were erected that
brought the street to its original level, by the aid of a French
engineer, M. Journot.”

The principal suburbs of Campeachy are San Roman to the south of the
town, Guadaloupe and San Francisco to the north. Each of these has its
church. The city has three churches and five convents.

At the extremity of the San Roman suburb is the general cemetery, around
which is a broken wall and a façade, almost in ruins, feebly protecting
it from the observation of passengers. During the prevalence of the
cholera, this depository was found insufficient to accommodate the
numerous patients, and two others were constructed to meet the
emergency. These last were surrounded by palisades, and are situated to
the right of the road leading to Lerma. Nor did these suffice; sculls
and bones were to be seen in heaps above ground.

At some distance from the cemetery is a small battery that the sea
washes at high water. About two hundred yards to the right of this is
the pest-house, for the accommodation of leprous patients. This
establishment is more expensive than useful, as it has been long
satisfactorily known that the disease is not contagious. Those unhappily
detained prisoners there are lodged and fed gratuitously, and no labor
is exacted from them.

Within less than a mile of this latter building is an hacienda, called
Buena Vista; near it is a colossal tree of the mimosa class, which may
be seen for more than a league at sea. To the east-north-east of the
hacienda is an opening, similar to those above mentioned, that is
supposed to lead to the subterraneous caverns. It is concealed from the
eye of a careless observer, and is very little known. This, however, is
very convenient for smugglers, who resort to it in the night to conceal
contraband merchandise, and who are, perhaps, the only persons that make
these places, in the bosom of the earth, materially serviceable.

The harbor at Campeachy is shallow, and a vessel which draws more than
six feet is obliged to anchor a league from the shore. In spite of this
disadvantage, from the superior excellence of the timber, and other
causes, a number of vessels are built here, measuring a hundred feet in
the keel, which are launched by the aid of ingenious contrivances
invented for the purpose.

A theatre has been erected here under the architectural direction of M.
Journot, before named. This is one of the most beautiful edifices of the
place. The internal decorations, however, will not compare with the
handsome exterior.

The climate of this part of the province appears to be healthy. The heat
is extreme at noon; but the land breeze in the morning, and the sea
breeze in the evening, render the atmosphere, at those periods, most
delightful. During the rainy season, which commences about the last of
May, and ends in September, intermittent fevers are quite prevalent.
These, however, by temperate and regular habits on the part of the
inhabitants, and attention to the wearing of flannel, and such garments
as are suited to the changes of the weather, and keeping from
unnecessary exposure, may, in a great measure, be avoided.

In the neighborhood of Campeachy are many ruins which richly deserve the
attention of travellers, but which the time to which my short excursion
was limited, would not permit me the gratification of visiting to any
extent. Upon a small river near Champoton, some leagues inland, where it
enlarges to a very considerable lake, are situated many ruins of a kind
of sculpture displaying the finest taste; but the edifices are so buried
beneath the water and earth that surround them, that it would require
great labor and perseverance to investigate them. Four leagues to the
north of Campeachy there exist many tumuli, which cannot be visited
during the rainy season without much risk and inconvenience. Three
leagues farther north is a little peninsula, called Jaina. Here is
situated a very large tumulus, around which have been found a number of
small earthen figures, and some flint heads of lances, very finely
formed. To the antiquarian and the curious this ruin presents many

From this tumulus, and other places contiguous to ruins of immense
cities, in the vicinity of Campeachy, were procured among the crumbling
walls, some skeletons and bones that have evidently been interred for
ages, also a collection of idols, fragments, flint spearheads, and axes;
besides sundry articles of pottery-ware, well wrought, glazed, and

These interesting relics are now in the possession of the author. The
reader will observe the Engravings of the most important, and those that
are in the most perfect state of preservation.

Plates No. I., II., and III., are correct designs of the Idols, which
are supposed to have been the household gods of the people who inhabited
these regions. They are hollow, and contain balls about the size of a
pea, that are supposed to be formed of the ashes of the victims that
have been sacrificed to the particular god in which they are deposited.

Plate No. IV. represents fragments composed of the same material as the
Idols. Whether these were intended for the same, or ornaments to their
vessels, I am unable to decide.

Plate No. V. represents the designs of the pots and vessels of the
collection, which were probably used as burners in the performance of
religious rites and ceremonies.

Plate No. VI. represents a Turtle, beautifully wrought in a fine hard
earthy substance. This figure, by its frequent appearance throughout the
ruins of Yucatan, was undoubtedly one of great importance, either from
its religious or civil associations. This plate also represents an
earthen pan, well wrought, (apparently turned in a lathe,) and glazed,
which was probably one of their household utensils; also a stone
pounder, which was probably used in the same department.

The Idols, which are, so far as I am at present informed, the only ones
from Yucatan ever before brought into this country, are unlike any that
have been found in other parts of Mexico. I have compared them with
those brought from the city of Mexico by Hon. Joel R. Poinsett, and now
in the cabinet of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia,
and have been able to discover no analogy between them. This fact gives
color for the presumption that the people prepared these _penates_
according to their respective tastes, and with little reference to any
standard or canon.

The bones and other relics of the persons who had been for a very long
time dead, were now nearly decomposed. Being under the impression that
these remains might assist in explaining the origin of the early
inhabitants, or throw light upon other difficulties in the archæology of
Yucatan, I determined to preserve and bring them with me. Immediately
upon my arrival in Philadelphia I presented these remains to Dr. Morton,
a gentleman who is so well known to the scientific world that it is
unnecessary for me to say, that any opinion which he would be led to by
their examination would deserve, and receive, the highest consideration
from men of science throughout the world. A few days before the present
chapter went to press, but too late to notice the fact in a more
appropriate place, I had the honor of receiving a letter from Dr.
Morton, in which he favors me with the result of his examination; an
attention for which I am the more grateful, inasmuch as it was
accompanied with a permission to make any use of the writer’s remarks
which, in my opinion, would be most acceptable to my readers. I have no
hesitation in presenting to them all the contents of the above
communication which are pertinent to the subject about which we are

    [Illustration: No. 1.
        8 in. Long, 5¼ in. Wide.]

    [Illustration: No. 2.
        6½ in. Long, 3½ in. Wide.
        5¼ in. Long, 3¼ in. Wide.
        5¼ in. Long, 4⅝ in. Wide.
        7 in.  Long, 4¼ in. Wide.]

    [Illustration: No. 3.
        6 in.  Long, 2½ in. Wide.
        5 in.  Long, 2¼ in. Wide.
        5½ in  Long, 3¾ in. Wide.
        3¼ in. Long, 2¾ in. Wide.]

    [Illustration: No. 4.

    [Illustration: No. 5
        4¼ in. High, 4, in. Diameter.
        2½ in. High, 3, in. Diameter.
        3¼ in. High, 5¼ in. Diameter.]

    [Illustration: No. 6.
        5 in. Long, 3 in. Wide.
        9 in. in diameter, 3 in. in height.
        6 in. in diameter, 7 in. in height.]

“Such is the extremely disintegrated state of some of these bones, and
so little animal matter remains in their composition, that I should
suppose them to belong to an ancient period in the history of our
aboriginal nations; a conjecture which is sustained by the circumstances
under which they were found. One of these skeletons is that of a man
perhaps twenty-five years of age, with large bones and no trace of
_epiphyses_. A few fragments of cranial bones are also large and
massive; which remark is also applicable to both the upper and lower
jaws and the teeth, which latter are singularly perfect. The os calcis,
(heel bone,) and other parts of the foot, are of delicate proportions;
thus presenting that contrast between the broad head and small hands and
feet, which has long been observed as one of the characteristics of our
native tribes. Parts of a second skeleton, from the same mound, have
belonged to a smaller person; but they are so much broken as to preclude
any certain indications of age or sex.

“Of the two remaining skeletons, only a few fragments of the long bones,
and others of the hands and feet, remain. They are much larger than
those already mentioned, and have no doubt pertained to individuals
above the ordinary stature.

“I am extremely indebted to you for the opportunity you have thus
afforded me of examining and comparing these ancient relics of our
native Indian race; for, dilapidated as they are, their characters, as
far as I can ascertain them, correspond with all the osteological
remains of that people which have hitherto come under my observation;
and go to confirm the position, that all the American tribes (excepting
the Esquimaux, who are obviously of Asiatic origin) are of the same
unmixed race. I have examined the sculls (now in my possession) of four
hundred individuals, belonging to tribes which have inhabited almost
every region of North and South America, including the civilized as well
as the savage communities, and I find the same type of organization to
pervade and characterize them all.

“I much regret that we have in this country so few sculls of the
Mongolian or Polar tribes of northern Asia. These are all-important in
deciding the question whether the aboriginal American race is peculiar,
and distinct from all others; a position which I have always maintained,
and which I think will be verified when the requisite means of
comparison are procured.”

At Cape Catoche is an entire city buried beneath the luxurious
vegetation, which has not yet attracted much attention from visitors.
From this circumstance, probably, some singular results might be the
reward of those who have the enterprise to examine these ruins. Near the
river Lagartos, and upon its banks, stand two lonely pyramids. Upon the
eastern shore of the main land, opposite to the island of Cozumel, there
appears a long line of ruined edifices, occupying an extent of ground
nearly equal to that over which are spread the ruins of Uxmal.

At point Soliman are other ruins of great interest and little known. On
the south side of Espiritu Santo Bay are also very extensive ruins. In
following the route leading to Bacalar, one may discover towers, whose
summits overtop the surrounding trees.

All the Cordilleras, from Tecax to Muna, is strewed with ruins of towns
and isolated monuments. Who shall tell how many myriads of men were
required to erect and to people such numerous and stupendous cities!

There are many poisonous reptiles and insects in Yucatan, whose bite is
most deadly. The Indians, however, have a ready specific in the various
plants which abound here, and which renders them entirely harmless.

There is a district of country situated between Guatemala, Yucatan, and
Chiapas that has never yet been subdued. This section is surrounded by
mountains, and is said to be inaccessible, except by one way, and that
not generally known. No one yet, who has had the boldness to follow the
inhabitants to their wild retreat, has ever returned to render an
account of their journey. The inhabitants are represented as speaking
the Maya and Tchole languages, and many of them as conversing well in
Spanish. From the latter circumstance, they are enabled to visit the
nearest cities, sell their tobacco, the principal article they
cultivate, and afterwards to return to their retreats. They are
constituted of the Lacandrones and other savage tribes; are expert
warriors, remarkably athletic, and very cruel. They are worshippers of
idols, and their religious ceremonies are said to have undergone little
or no change.

Palenque is in the neighborhood of this settlement; and Waldeck, who
says he has conversed with some of these people, understood that they
had white persons among them—but whether they stay voluntarily, or are
detained as prisoners, he has not mentioned. The same nation is spoken
of by Mr. Stephens. Their number is estimated at thirty thousand; their
secluded mode of life makes it almost impossible to arrive at any thing
like correct impressions respecting them. The Indians of Yucatan and the
neighboring provinces have been seen in conversation with persons from
this district; they, however, appear to know as little of the people of
whom I speak as others. Could a friendly intercourse, by any
possibility, be established with this surprising country, there is
scarcely a doubt that a complete knowledge of the former inhabitants of
the immense ruins scattered throughout the provinces would be revealed.
That their temples and records remain in safety, and are capable of
speaking to posterity, there can scarcely be a question.

I doubt if the above be a true estimate of their numbers, since they
have been enabled to sustain themselves for ages (no one knows how long)
against enemies and intestine wars and dissolution. It would be more
reasonable to suppose that they are the outcast Pelasgi of some invading
nation, and the remnants of a power that once defended those wasted
towns that now lie a huge mass of scattered ruins. The gathered
fragments of Palenque, and other conquered places of equal importance,
may have concentrated their broken strength within the boundaries of
these hills, and, under the strong impulse of desperation, they may have
preserved their nationality in defiance of all the force that surrounded
them. It may well excite universal astonishment, when the fact becomes
known, that there actually exists, within a territory of five hundred
miles, a distinct people, that have governed themselves for ages, and
that they continue to do so without assistance or protection. It would
be a lesson to mankind to ascertain how they have managed their
self-governing principles, and how they have preserved the national
individuality. Three centuries have transpired since the conquest; and,
if neither Yankee nor Irishman have found his way among these
Lacandrones before this, it deserves the careful consideration both of
the psychologist and the statesman.

I had the pleasure of meeting two padres in Campeachy; and, as this is
my first offence of the kind, I hope to be forgiven for mentioning their
names—the brothers Camacho. This I do solely with a view of promoting
antiquarian research. These gentlemen have devoted themselves to science
and learning; and they are the only ones I encountered during my absence
who were enthusiasts in regard to the interesting ruins of Yucatan. They
have spent much labor in individual examinations; have sacrificed
liberally for the benefit of travellers; and would, if they lived in a
more enlightened country, be respected and honored. My visit to their
house was an interesting one. They were alone with their cats!—Their
apartments presented the appearance of a real curiosity-shop, or a
necromancer’s conjuring room, filled up, as they were, with every thing
wonderful, and strange, and antique. They were extremely kind; and
presented me many interesting antiquities of their country. I left them
and their city with regret; they were among the very few whom during my
absence I had met with pleasure and parted from with regret.

I must now close this rambling account of my journeying in Yucatan.

I embarked from Campeachy on the eleventh day of April at daylight, on
board of a small American schooner bound for New Orleans, where I
arrived on the twentieth, after an absence of four months, which I
calendar among the most instructive months of my life.

Though my journal terminates here, I trust I shall be pardoned, by a
portion of my readers at least, for soliciting their attention to some
further particulars connected with the present political condition of
Yucatan, and also to a brief criticism of the Maya language, to which
allusion has already been made. However imperfect these discussions may
be, I trust they may not be found wholly without profit to the very
large portion of my countrymen who, like myself, have never before had
their attention distinctly called to the consideration of these

    [Illustration: Decoration]


                             CHAPTER XIII.

Political History of Yucatan—The Rochelanos—A Civil Revolution—A
  Tumultuary Movement in the Interior—Santiago Iman—Attack on
  Espita—Retreat to San Fernando—Quiet Restored for a Time—Colonel
  Roqueña—Attack on Tizimin—Return of the Troops—Attack on
  Valladolid—Capitulation—Succession of Events—A New Constitution—The
  New Congress—New Party—Opinions—Physical Incapacity for
  Independence—The Press of Yucatan.

It might be well enough for me to adopt the example of Fielding, so far
as to precede this chapter with a stage direction of this kind: “To be
skipped by those who are not fond of politics.” The political history of
Yucatan necessarily possesses but little interest to any class of
foreign readers, and yet I could not but think that some notice of that
kind might add symmetry to a work which relies so much for its value
upon its record of institutions and customs, which are indebted for
their shape and character to the political condition of the people to
whom they belong. For that reason I present the substance of my own
observations and inquiries, without pretending, however, that the
following remarks will answer half of the questions pertaining to this
subject, which a student of political science would be disposed to ask.

Yucatan, since its conquest by the Spaniards, and until the year 1839,
was a province of the great Mexican Confederacy, and formed one of the
United Provinces of Mexico. For several years, however, previous to
1839, the tranquillity of Mexico had been disturbed by a party called
Rochelanos, who insisted upon the independence of Yucatan, or else a
more liberal central government. Their agitations finally placed their
party at the head of the government. In the year 1837 this party was
overthrown and removed from power, having lost the elections by an
overwhelming majority; indeed, so decided was the triumph of their
opponents, that they dared not resist, and a civil revolution was
effected, for the first time since the independence of the country. They
immediately commenced agitating and plotting, but with no decided
success until the year 1839.

With a view of overturning the then existing government, and ousting the
incumbents of office from their places, the Rochelanos favored covertly
a design on the part of those styling themselves Federalists, to regain
the power they had lost in 1834. The 29th of May, 1839, witnessed a
tumultuary movement in the village of Tizimin, a small town of the
interior, where a militia captain, one Santiago Iman, at the head of a
handful of deserters from the third battalion of local militia, counting
on the co-operation of several leading personages, set up the standard
of revolt, under the specious pretext of proclaiming the Federal
constitution of 1824. A feigned attack was immediately made on the
neighboring village of Espita, a place of some importance, containing
about three thousand inhabitants, and distant from Tizimin six leagues.

The military commander at Espita had engaged himself to act in concert,
but at the critical moment he played false, and deceived the hopes of
the leaders in the plot. He received an intimation from Iman to
surrender, as had been previously agreed upon, but retained the
messengers, and made preparations for defence. Iman marched to the
attack in the night, and, much to his surprise, met with resistance. A
very hot firing (as it was styled in the bulletins) was kept up for
nearly four hours; but, strange to say, only one was killed, a negro,
from the window of one of the houses behind which he had posted himself.
Before daylight the firing ceased, and Iman returned unmolested to
Tizimin. Those who had instigated him to take the step having failed in
their engagements to him, his situation now became very critical, and he
was left entirely to his own resources. A retreat to San Fernando was
determined on and executed. This is a small village seven leagues from
Tizimin, to the northward, inhabited by a colony of negroes from St.
Domingo, numbering about seventy males. Here he remained, and threw up
some fortifications, composed chiefly of stone barricades across the
roads at the entrance of the village, and for the purpose of obstructing
their advance, cut down the trees lining the roads by which the troops
were to pass. Nearly two months elapsed before he was attacked—then by
about four hundred men, chiefly militia, under the orders of the
commander of Espita, already named. As might have been anticipated from
the character of this person, nothing of importance was effected; but
after a great deal of noise and smoke, the defenders ran away, and the
attacking party entered, without killing one or taking a single
prisoner. This was afterwards trumpeted as a signal victory, and the
“hero,” as he was styled, greatly eulogized. The revolution was
officially declared to be terminated; but notwithstanding, as no pursuit
was ever made, a sufficiency of time was allowed to the insurgents to
reunite their scattered numbers.

A long time was spent in inactivity on the part of the government
troops, until at last, after some slight brushes, Tizimin was evacuated
by its garrison, and again occupied by Iman, who, finding himself with
no other resource, bethought himself of enlisting the sympathies of the
Indians, by offering them a discharge for the future from the religious
contributions paid by them. This leader, who was destitute himself of
talent and instruction, and in every respect a very common man, could
not foresee the influence this would have on the contest; but the most
well informed men in the country knew its importance, and feared
ultimately a re-enactment of the bloody scenes of St. Domingo. Numbers
of Indians flocked to Tizimin, and contributed, with their persons and
such small means as they possessed, to the maintenance of the struggle.
Supplies of cattle, turkeys, fowls, corn, &c., were carried by them to
the general, as they styled Iman, and the means thus furnished him of
sustaining himself. The government, at last aware of the real importance
of quelling in time this movement, made every exertion, and a division
of about six hundred men marched for Tizimin, under the command of
Colonel Roquena. This officer, who is said to possess talent and
bravery, but who exhibited neither on this occasion, attacked the place
on the 12th of December, in solid column, marching directly to the
point, without an effort to outflank, select a weak point, or cut off
the retreat of the enemy. The whole column was held in check in a narrow
road before a common stone barricade for nearly six hours. After losing
about fifty men, one of the companies carried the place at the point of
the bayonet, and the rest of the division then marched into the place.
The defenders retreated, almost without loss or pursuit, just as at San
Fernando, and a pompous description was given of the brilliant victory.

The troops were afterwards stationed at different points, and the
colonel returned to Campeachy, believing nothing more remained to be
done! The garrison of Tizimin was finally withdrawn, and the place
re-occupied by the insurgents. Things remained in this state of
indecision; the resources of the government were absorbed uselessly in
the maintenance of troops and officers, who took no interest in the
cause, until the 11th of February, 1840, an attack was made on the city
of Valladolid, then garrisoned by three hundred men, commanded by
Lieutenant Colonel Arans. This brave officer determined to discharge his
duty, and knowing his subordinates to have been tampered with, marched
in person at the head of some guerrilla parties, to attack the
insurgents, who had obtained an entrance in the “barrio” of Sisal. He
was killed, and some two or three others, by shots from the houses.
Nothing was thought of after his fall but capitulating. That night the
troops yielded up their arms to a motley looking band of Indians, led on
by some of the outcasts of society, deserters, assassins, &c. A meeting
was held at the town hall, and the _pronunciamiento_ of Valladolid given
to the world, seconding the plan of Iman, and re-announcing the
Constitution of 1824. From the importance of the place, its example was
followed by the surrounding villages and towns, and in the course of a
week, Merida, the capital of the State, declared for the new order of
things; several of the military taking a part in the proceedings.
Nothing was left but Campeachy, the head-quarters of the Commanding
General Rivas, with a garrison of about one thousand men. Marches and
countermarches were effected, until the siege of the place, which
finally capitulated in June, leaving the whole State in the hands of the
so styled Federalists.

An effort had been made before the taking of Valladolid to vary the plan
of the revolution, providing for the removal of the Commanding General
Rivas, who was particularly obnoxious, and changing the _personale_ of
the administration; but Iman, who had been abandoned to his own
resources, was then obstinate and could not be managed. At Merida
likewise, on the occasion of their _pronunciamiento_, the Rochelanos
endeavored to usurp the direction of the movement, which had now become
popular; for many of the most influential and talented men, perceiving
the inability of the government to weather the storm, owing to the bad
faith and cowardice of its supporters, had resolved upon taking an
active part, and endeavoring to guide and direct the mind of the
automaton Iman; who, possessing none of his own, was pleased and glad to
make use of the judgment of others, as thus he was enabled to figure in
high sounding proclamations, to which he could scarcely affix his
signature. Several of the higher clergy or curates came forward in
opposition to these revolutionary movements, actuated by various
motives; one of which we would fain believe was a disinterested
patriotism. They were well aware of the danger that menaced the white
race in Yucatan, surrounded by an Indian population four times their
number, should the revolution be any longer protracted. Another strong
motive was the desire to save their incomes and benefices, directly
attacked by the plan of Iman. This they succeeded in doing in part, as
the males still pay the usual religious contribution; the females only
being exempted by a decree of the Legislature of 1840. The attempt of
the Rochelanos was a complete failure, and only served to sink them
still lower in public opinion, and to justify the estimation in which
they had always been held—of artful and designing intriguers.

The work of the revolution was now completed, as far as the original
design went; namely, that of a change of _men_, for of _principles_ but
few were involved. The ball did not however stop here, as a number of
political schemers, with a view of grafting themselves on, and
identifying themselves with the revolution, brought forward a number of
new projects, which in the first session of the legislature were carried
out. The clergy and the military were directly attacked, deprived of
their exclusive privileges, and many of the latter dismissed. A new
constitution for the State was decreed on the thirty-first of March,
1841, not essentially different from its predecessors, except in the
fact of its religious toleration. The governor of the State is
restricted to certain limited powers in the constitution, but these
restrictions in the end are nominal. From some pretext or other, he is
almost always invested with extraordinary authority; enabling him to
punish without trial; not only the guilty, but even such as he may
choose to consider _suspicious_.

The Congress or Legislature was not elected for the purpose of forming a
new constitution, _but it declared itself_ to be invested with the
necessary powers, and proceeded to exercise them. It also passed a
tariff, greatly reducing the former scale of duties; although the
Federal Constitution of 1824, proclaimed in the State, makes this
entirely and exclusively to lie within the prerogatives of the general
Congress under the new government. A thousand such infractions have been
committed, without exciting remark or surprise. The tariff was altered
and reduced, with a view of discouraging smuggling, and thereby
increasing the revenue. It had this effect for a short time; but the
clandestine traffic is carried on as briskly as ever, and the country
having been overstocked with goods, the amount of duties collected has
greatly fallen off. The whole income of the State does not exceed at
present seven hundred thousand dollars per annum.

For the past year and a half, a new party, if such it may be called, has
attracted attention. The object in view is to continue the separation
from the rest of the Mexican Republic. It is called the independent
party, and is composed of a few young enthusiasts, and a number of older
politicians, who, for the purpose of gratifying their own ends and
interests, and from their connexion with some of the lawless men engaged
in the late revolution, contrive to make it appear that there is a great
deal of enthusiasm prevailing among the people; and that public opinion
is decidedly in favor of the independence of the peninsula. To enter
into arguments for the purpose of disproving this, is perfectly
unnecessary. Such a thing as public opinion is unknown; the masses are
too ignorant, and have been too long accustomed to dictation and
pupilage, to have any opinion. This is demonstrated by the mere fact of
every revolutionary movement having triumphed since their emancipation
from the Spanish yoke; which clearly proves, that either there is
nothing deserving the name of people, or else that they take no interest
in public affairs, but allow themselves to be the playthings of every
ambitious demagogue or military leader.

The country is not destined ever to be of any considerable importance in
the political scale. Its resources are very limited; its capital small;
its soil by no means fertile; it possesses neither good roads to any
extent, nor a single navigable river; manufactures are almost unknown,
and agriculture is in the most neglected state. How then can Yucatan
sustain itself alone, or ever figure as an independent nation? The idea
is absurd, and could only be entertained by an enthusiast, and one
totally ignorant of the elements required to constitute national
greatness and prosperity.

Another circumstance worthy of consideration is the existence of a large
colored population, far outnumbering the whites. Should Yucatan be left
to itself, an insurrection among the Indians would be productive of the
most awful calamities; and in that case, being entirely isolated, no
foreign aid could be looked for to subdue the danger. The glimpse the
Indians have just caught of what they may do, and their exertions in the
last revolution being rewarded by a diminution in the amount of their
onerous religious contributions, may probably stimulate them to make an
effort to free themselves from the bondage of the whites. Many
intelligent and well-informed men, residents and natives of the country,
fear this may ultimately be the result; and it is on this account
chiefly they regret the employment of Indians in the late contest. The
chord touched by Iman has vibrated, the way has been shown to designing
and unprincipled men, of causing an excitement and making themselves
fearful; they have only to hold out promises, however fallacious, to
this race, and ensure themselves a certain measure of importance and
notoriety. Ere long some “Tecumseh” or “Black Hawk” may rise up, and the
most disastrous, heart-rending, and bloody scenes will be re-enacted.

This is the distinguishing feature in the last revolution; it is
certainly fraught with danger to the white race, yet in reward of his
services the disinterested patriot, the new Washington, as he is styled
by his sycophants, the leader and associate of deserters and assassins,
Santiago Iman, is now created Brigadier General. The sphere is however
too elevated for him to hope to maintain his position; and the slightest
change will be sufficient to consign him to his native insignificance.

The state of affairs is now very critical: General Santa Ana, possessed,
to say the least, of considerable energy, is at the head of affairs in
Mexico: he menaces Yucatan with an invasion; and we know enough of the
state of the country, and the feelings of its inhabitants, to say, that
should he verify his intentions by sending an expedition, however small,
he would meet with co-operation, and such aid as would enable him
quickly and with certainty to subjugate the country.

In attempting to present a politico-historical sketch of the province of
Yucatan, my duty would be but imperfectly discharged if I failed to
notice its newspaper press, an engine which in all civilized countries
at the present day has come to exercise tremendous political influence.
It is almost unnecessary for me to say that the direct action of the
press upon public opinion here is quite inconsiderable, for there is but
little public opinion to work upon, and but few papers competent to
exercise any influence upon it.

There are only two or three small papers published at Merida. These are
mostly filled with stories, local news, and markets, an incomplete
marine list, and a collection of advertisements, that too plainly
indicate the fallen condition of trade. At Campeachy there is a single
small periodical, devoted to literature, and very poorly patronised.
These represent the whole editorial strength of Yucatan. These papers
never pretend to differ in opinion with the government upon any question
of public policy. They do not aspire to control public opinion, except
that opinion may be at variance with the wishes of the “powers that be.”
There is no freedom of discussion about the policy of the government or
the religious establishments of the country, allowed or ever asked. What
of interest these papers possess, therefore, arises from the stories
which they occasionally publish, and the local news. It is obvious that
the full force and efficacy of the newspaper have never been realized in
any part of Mexico.


                              CHAPTER XIV.

Remarks on American Languages in general—Conflicting Opinions of
  Philologists—Religious Zeal a Stimulus that has produced the Grammars
  and Vocabularies of the American Languages—Sketch of the Grammar of
  the Maya Tongue—Concluding Observations respecting its Origin.

The origin and the mutual relations of the American languages have long
been favorite topics of discussion among philologists; but their
researches and speculations have led to results so contradictory and
utterly irreconcilable, that we are left, after a thorough perusal of
the leading works upon the subject, in the same state of doubt and
uncertainty with which we commenced it. Mr. Gallatin, in the prefatory
letter to his learned and profound essay, entitled “A Synopsis of the
Indian Tribes within the United States, East of the Rocky Mountains, and
in the British and Russian Possessions in North America,” remarks, that
“amid the great diversity of American languages, considered only in
reference to their vocabularies, the similarity of their structure and
grammatical forms has been observed and pointed out by the American
philologists. The substance of our knowledge in that respect will be
found, in a condensed form, in the appendix. The result appears to
confirm the opinions already entertained on that subject by Mr. Du
Ponceau, Mr. Pickering, and others; and to prove that all the languages,
not only of our own Indians, but of the native inhabitants of America,
from the Arctic Ocean to Cape Horn, have, as far as they have been
investigated, a distinct character common to all, and apparently
differing from those of the other continent with which we are the most
familiar.” Mr. Gallatin, however, in a note appended to this paragraph,
qualifies it by stating that “the grammar of the language of Chili is
the only one, foreign to the immediate object of the ‘Synopsis,’ with
which a comparison has been introduced. Want of space did not permit him
to extend the inquiry into the language of Mexico and other parts of
Spanish America.” Mr. Bradford, however, in his “Researches into the
Origin and History of the Red Race,” p. 309, states unqualifiedly that
“philologists have examined into the form and character of the American
languages, and have established satisfactorily that they have all sprung
from one common source. The features of resemblance are such as enter
into their elementary construction; the diversities, those to which all
languages are exposed, by the separation and dispersion of those who
speak them.”

On the other hand, Baron Von Humboldt, in his “Political Essay on the
Kingdom of New Spain,” vol. i. p. 138, after some remarks upon the
migrations of the American tribes, proceeds to state that “the great
variety of languages still spoken in the kingdom of Mexico proves a
great variety of races and origin. The number of these languages exceeds
twenty, of which fourteen have grammars and dictionaries tolerably
complete. The following are their names: the Mexican or Aztec language;
the Otomite; the Tarasc; the Zapotec; the Mistec; the Maya or Yucatan;
the Totonac; the Popolouc; the Matlazing; the Huastec; the Mixed; the
Caquiquel; the Taraumar; the Tepehuan; and the Cora. It appears that the
most part of these languages, far from being dialects of the same, (as
some authors have falsely advanced,) are at least as different from one
another as the Greek and the German, or the French and the Polish. This
is the case with at least seven languages of New Spain, of which I
possess the vocabularies. The variety of idioms spoken by the people of
the new continent, and which, without the least exaggeration, may be
stated at some hundreds, offers a very striking phenomenon, particularly
when we compare it with the few languages spoken in Asia and Europe.”

We might give quotations from other writers, of an equally contradictory
nature, were it our design to write a treatise upon the origin or the
resemblances of the American languages in general. We intend, however,
to confine our attention solely to the language of Yucatan, or the Maya
tongue, mentioned above, by Humboldt, as one of the original languages
of New Spain.

The Maya was the sole language spoken throughout the peninsula of
Yucatan, and the northern portion of Guatemala, at the time of the first
settlement of the Spaniards in Campeachy. The difficulty of opening an
intercourse with the Indians, and of mastering their language, was at
first exceedingly great; but was finally surmounted by the learning and
religious zeal of the Catholic priesthood, who, after years of incessant
labor and self-denial, under the most discouraging circumstances,
succeeded not only in acquiring a knowledge of the Maya tongue,
sufficient to enable them to converse with and preach to the natives,
but to invent a written language, and to compose a grammar and a
vocabulary. It is impossible to reflect upon the physical and mental
exertions of the Catholic missionaries among the Indians of America,
without admiration. The Jesuits in Paraguay, Chili, Peru, and, in truth,
throughout the whole of South America, animated by an unextinguishable
zeal in the cause of religion, buried themselves in the most remote
districts, in the midst of the most appalling dangers, and quietly and
undauntedly set about the task of conquering the Indian, not with the
sword, but with the pen; and they ceased not until they had obtained
that key to his heart, in the shape of an embodied language, which all
the political changes of the continent, during the lapse of centuries,
have not been able to wrest from them. The Indian in Yucatan and
Guatemala, as well as in South America, acknowledges no authority but
that of the priest, and it is through the influence of the Church alone,
that the temporal power is enabled to keep up even the semblance of
government. The Padre is to the Indian a guide, father, and friend; he
consults him on all occasions. We hazard little in saying that
throughout nine tenths of the peninsula of Yucatan, if we except the
seaport towns, the entire control of the Indians is in the hands of the
priesthood, and that the political relations now existing as between the
government and the governed, would be instantly dissolved were the
clergy to withhold their co-operation; and that the result would be the
same, whatever mutations may take place among the parties which may now
or hereafter contend for political supremacy.

Humboldt speaks of fourteen languages of New Spain as having grammars
and vocabularies tolerably complete. We will endeavor, by means of the
Maya grammar and vocabulary in our possession, to give such a slight
sketch of its structure, as we have been enabled to glean from its
pages. The first Maya grammar was composed by Father Louis de
Villalpando, the first Catholic priest that set foot upon the peninsula
of Yucatan, at Campeachy. This grammar was never published, and was much
improved by Father Landa, the first provincial minister, and the second
bishop of Yucatan. His treatise, with the additions of the bishop,
remained in manuscript, but was the basis of the grammars of Fathers
Juan Coronel and Gabriel de San Bonaventure, which in their turn were
largely used by the author of the work in our possession. It is a
remarkable fact, tending to show the decline of literary taste among
even the priesthood of Yucatan, that we were unable, after the most
active research, to find any of the works above mentioned, and we have
reason to believe that few if any copies now exist. The grammar in our
possession was written by Father Pedro Beltran, a Franciscan, and
published at the city of Mexico, in 1746, see note[3]. The author, in
his preface, characterizes the Maya, as “graceful in diction, elegant in
its periods, and concise in style; often, in a few words of few
syllables, expressing the meaning of many sentences. If the learner can
overcome the obstacle presented by the difficulty of pronouncing some of
the consonants, which are intensely guttural, he will find the language
of easy acquisition.” After some remarks upon the mode in which he
proposes the trial of his subject, he concludes with the following
remarks, which we have condensed here, to show that religious zeal was
the moving cause which produced all the grammars and vocabularies of the
Indian languages: “I will not rest my appeal in behalf of the Maya upon
considerations of mere personal interest, or of the pleasure which must
be the result of being able to communicate ideas in a foreign tongue; I
would elevate my thoughts above such comparatively base and vulgar
views; since I dedicate my work as an instrument for the service of the
Divine Majesty, knowing, from my personal experience, that the brethren
of the church will obtain abundant fruit among the poor Indians, by
instructing them from the pulpit and the confessional, and likewise
holding converse with them, in their native tongue: since by this means
we shall most successfully thwart the Devil, who will be cast down if we
succeed, and who often interposes ridiculous difficulties in our path,
which we can easily surmount; the Accursed One well knowing, that in
turning aside, and not acquiring this language, we deeply offend God, in
that we cause the ruin of many souls. Therefore, beloved reader, apply
yourself carefully to this treatise, to the end that you may please God,
by opening the ears of this poor people, and feeding them with spiritual

The Maya alphabet consists of only twenty-two letters, of which the
following, viz.,

                         ↄ, ch, k, pp, th, tz,

are peculiar to the language, and are very difficult of pronunciation.
Mechanical rules, representing their sounds, are given in the grammar,
but it is almost impossible to acquire them without the assistance of a
native. It is deficient in the following letters:—

                          d, f, g, j, q, r, s.

The remaining letters are sounded as in Spanish.

The parts of speech are the same as in English. The noun is
indeclinable, that is, the cases are formed solely by means of
prepositions; the accusative, like the objective in English, requiring
no preposition when governed by an active verb. The genders are natural,
as in English, and are designated by the particle _Ah_, for the
masculine, and _Ix_ for the feminine, neuter nouns having no prefix;

                      Ah cambezah, ... master.
                      Ix cambezah, ... mistress.

These monosyllables, however, are generally written simply H and X. They
are often used in a pronominal sense when mention is made of any
peculiarity or attribute of a living person; thus, nohoch being an
adjective, signifying great, and pol a noun, meaning head, we should

               H nohoch pol, ... He with the large head.
               X nohoch pol, ... She with the large head.

The genders of beasts and birds are still further designated by the
prefix xibil for the male, and chupul for the female.

The numbers are expressed by affixing to the substantive the particle
ob, to signify the third person plural, and the personal pronouns to
express the first and second persons. The adjective is, like the
substantive, indeclinable; admitting only, as in English, of the
variation of degrees of comparison. These are formed by doubling the
last syllable, and prefixing a pronoun for the comparative; as—

         tibil, good.  û tibilil,  his, her, or its better.
           noh, great. û nohol,    ––––––– " –––––– greater.
           kaz, ugly.  û kazal,    ––––––– " –––––– more ugly.
           lob,  bad.  û lobol,    ––––––– " –––––– worse.

The prefix of u changed to y, and sounded with the adjective, when it
begins with a vowel. The final syllable of all comparatives has been
gradually corrupted into il or el, in the spoken language.

The relation of comparison between two persons or things is expressed by
several words analogous to than, in English; but this part of the
subject belongs more properly to the syntax.

The superlative degree is formed by simply prefixing to the adjective
the word hach, very; as—

             lob, bad.        hach lob, very bad, or worst.
             ez,  enchanted.  hach ez,  most enchanted.

The pronouns are very difficult to classify. The author, however,
arranges them in five divisions, of which two are demonstrative, two
mixed, or partaking of the possessive nature, and one reciprocal or

The first, which is prefixed solely to active or transitive verbs, or
used as a relative, is declined as follows:—

                    Ten,   I;          Toon,  We;
                    Tech,  Thou;       Teex,  Ye;
                    Lay,   He.         Loob,  They.

The second is suffixed to all tenses of neuter or substantive verbs,
except the present and imperfect. It also serves as an objective when
following an active verb, and, joined with a past participle, forms a
neuter verb. It is thus declined:—

                      En,    I;         On, We;
                      Ech,   Thou;      Ex, Ye;
                      Laylo, He.        Ob, They.

The two demonstrative and possessive pronouns are as follows:—

           In,  I,    or mine;       Ca,     We,   or ours;
           A,   Thou, or thine;      A ex,   Ye,   or yours;
           U,   He,   or his.        V ob,   They, or theirs.

The numerous and delicate distinctions between these last, as shown by
the author in many examples, would be fatiguing to the reader were they
set forth at length. It is enough to remark here, that the first is used
in the conjugation of certain tenses of the verbs, and the second in
certain others; and that, as a possessive, the first is used before
nouns beginning with a consonant, and the second before those commencing
with a vowel.

The reciprocal or reflective pronoun is declined as follows:—

            Inba,   Myself;        Caba,       Ourselves;
            A ba,   Thyself;       A ba ex,    Yourselves;
            U ba,   Himself.       U ba ob,    Themselves.

This is used precisely as in English: thus, _cimzah_, to kill;
_cimzahba_, to kill one’s _self_.

The verbs are divided into four conjugations; of which the first
comprehends all absolute or neuter verbs. The verbs of the other
conjugations are all active or transitive, but are rendered passive by
being conjugated after the first conjugation; whence all passive verbs
may be said likewise to be embraced under this form. All verbs of this
conjugation, with a few exceptions, terminate, in the infinitive, in the
letter _l_, and are of more than one syllable. The perfect tense ends
always in _i_, and the future in _c_. We give a few examples, to show
the symmetry of the arrangement of the Spanish grammarian.

         Etppizanhal, etppizanhi,  etppitzanhac, to resemble;
         Elel,        eli,         elec,         to burn;
         Hatzpahal,   hatzpahi,    hatzpahac,    to separate;
         Mankinhal,   mankinhi,    mankinhac,    to persevere;
         Uenel,       ueni,        uenec,        to sleep;
         Xanhal,      xanhi,       xanac,        to delay.

The second conjugation, which is the first of the active verbs, is
indicated by the termination, _ah_. The perfect likewise ends in _ah_,
being distinguished from the present by a different pronoun, and the
future in _z_. A few examples follow:—

          Cambezah,     cambezah,   cambez,      to teach;
          Yukkahzah,        "       yukkahez,    to examine;
          Kochbezah,        "       kochbez,     to blame;
          Xupzah,           "       xupez,       to destroy;
          Zipzah,           "       zipez,       to provoke.

The verbs of the third conjugation are all monosyllabic, and form the
preterite by the addition of _ah_, and the future in _é_ or _ab_
indiscriminately; as, for example:—

              Kam,  kamah,   kamé or kamab,  to receive;
              Mac,  macah,   macé or macab,  to shut;
              Ux,   uxah,    uxé or uxab,    to gather;
              Xoc,  xocah,   xocé or xocab,  to respect.

The verbs of the fourth conjugation differ from those of the third, in
being polysyllabic. They form the preterite by adding _tah_, and the
future by adding _té_ to the body of the verb. If the infinitive end in
_tah_, the preterite remains the same. Some examples follow:—

      Kabatah,     kabatah,        kabaté,         to number;
      Kuul,        kuultah,        kuulté,         to worship;
      Lolobthan,   lolobthantah,   lolobthanté,    to curse;
      Nenol,       nenoltah,       nenolté,        to contemplate;
      Tzolthan,    tzolthantah,    tzolthanté,     to interpret;
      Zinché,      zinchétah,      zinchété,       to crucify.

The irregular verbs, of which there are about as many as in our own
language, are to be learned only from practice. The auxiliary verbs
likewise require much attention, to enable the student to conjugate the
regular verbs. They are used in the different tenses and modes precisely
as the auxiliaries in the modern European languages, except that they
sometimes follow the participles in place of preceding them. We give the
reader a specimen of the mode of conjugating a verb of the second
conjugation in the present and imperfect tenses, our limits not allowing
us to give all its modifications.

                          PRESENT INDICATIVE.

                     Ten cambezic,   I teach;
                     Tech cambezic,  Thou teachest;
                     Lay cambezic,   He teaches.
                     Toon cambezic,  We teach;
                     Teex cambezic,  Ye teach;
                     Loob cambezic,  They teach.

                         IMPERFECT INDICATIVE.

               Ten cambezic cuchi,  I was teaching;
               Tech cambezic cuchi, Thou wast teaching;
               Lay cambezic cuchi,  He was teaching.
               Toon cambezic cuchi, We were teaching;
               Teex cambezic cuchi, Ye were teaching;
               Loob cambezic cuchi, They were teaching.

Were we to give the remaining portions of this verb, as conjugated by
Father Beltran, the reader would be filled with admiration at the
clearness and simplicity of his arrangement, and perceive how much his
labors have facilitated the acquisition of this language.

The great obstacle, however, to the perfect knowledge of the Maya, and
which can only be removed by continual converse with the natives
themselves, is the frequent use of elisions and syncopes. The author has
devoted several pages to this part of his subject, and has laid down
many rules to guide the learner; but finally he is obliged to confess
that no written directions can be given to embrace every case. The Maya
tongue, in this respect, resembles many other Indian languages, in which
words are elided, syncopated, and consolidated together, until the
grammatical construction can only be conjectured by the philologist, and
the radices become jumbled up and difficult to distinguish. The utmost
that the grammarian can accomplish, is to separate the different parts
of speech, and to classify them scientifically. A spoken language is
always more or less elided in conversation, however distinctly the words
may be written in books; but the written languages of South America
present consolidated masses of words truly formidable to behold, and
which tend utterly to discourage the most patient philologist. Humboldt
mentions the word NOTLAZOMAHUIZTESPIXCALATZIN, signifying “venerable
priest, whom I cherish as my father,” as used by the Mexicans when
speaking to the curates; and the vocabularies of Indian languages, both
of North and South America, exhibit words of even greater longitude. It
is evident that so long as the words of a language are, as it were,
fused together, almost according to the fancy of the speaker,
grammatical rules will be of little practical use to guide the scholar,
and that he must acquire the language mostly by the ear. This perhaps
accounts for the disappearance of all grammars and vocabularies of the
Maya tongue from the peninsula of Yucatan, the priests finding it much
easier to learn the language directly from the Indian, than to acquire
it from books. I offer this, however, as a suggestion, rather than as an

The brief sketch we have given of some of the features of the Maya
tongue, naturally leads to speculations concerning its origin, and that
of the nation by which it is spoken.

There appears to be but little resemblance between the Maya, and the
Mexican or Aztec, although they are both intensely guttural, and have a
great similarity when viewed superficially by a cursory observer. The
Maya bears evident marks of very great antiquity, and may have been the
language of Mexico before the great invasions of the Toltecs and Aztecs.
There are some who suppose that the present inhabitants of Yucatan are
but the scattered remnants of a great nation, which once ruled a large
portion of the continent, and had its central seat of power in the
peninsula; and that it was gradually forced to yield to the assaults of
more warlike nations, who invaded it from the North, and retired within
the boundaries of the peninsula, where it decayed by degrees, until all
vestige of political power was lost, long before the arrival of the
Spaniards. Its temples and pyramids, and its spoken tongue, are the only
memorials from which we can form any idea respecting its origin. This
question necessarily involves a solution of the great problem of the
origin of the American race in general.

The opinions of writers upon this subject are diverse, and are supported
on each side with a great variety of interesting facts and inferences.
It has long been a favorite idea with most who have treated of this
topic, that America originally derived its population from Europe or
Asia, or, to speak in the usual manner, that the _New_ World was peopled
from the _Old_. This hypothesis seems to have been assumed in the first
instance as a premise; at least, most arguments upon this head seem to
indicate that it has served as a sort of basis to the train of
deductions; and the most ingenious suppositions and skilfully arranged
facts have been adduced to support a foregone conclusion. Whether the
American continent was peopled at a very remote or a comparatively
recent date, is not of so much moment, although there is a great
diversity of opinion also in this respect. Mr. Gallatin, in his
“Prefatory Letter,” above mentioned, is of opinion that “this continent
received its first inhabitants at a very remote epoch, probably not much
posterior to the dispersion of mankind;” thus evidently referring to and
supporting the theory of immigration, and of the derivation of all
diversities of the human race from one type; while Mr. Bradford, in the
final chapter of his elaborate work, before cited, agrees with Mr.
Gallatin in the hypothesis that “the Red Race penetrated at a very
ancient period into America,” but differs with him in the conclusion
that it “appears to be _a primitive branch of the human family_.” Baron
Von Humboldt, however, in his great work upon New Spain, terms the
Indians “indigenous,” and, although he quotes the opinions of many
authors in favor of their Asiatic origin, he at the same time combats
their views with sundry striking facts, and finally modestly dismisses
the subject with the remark, that “the general question of the first
origin of the inhabitants of a continent is beyond the limits prescribed
to history, and is not, perhaps, even a philosophical question.”

We will candidly confess that we could never understand why philosophers
have been so predisposed to advocate the theory which peoples America
from the Eastern hemisphere. We think the supposition that the Red Man
is a primitive type of a family of the human race, originally planted in
the Western continent, presents the most natural solution of the
problem; and that the researches of physiologists, antiquaries,
philologists, and philosophers in general, tend irresistibly to this
conclusion. The hypothesis of immigration, however inviting it appear at
first to the superficial observer, and however much he may be struck
with certain fancied analogies between the architectural or astronomical
peculiarities of the American and the Asiatic, is, when followed out,
embarrassed with great difficulties, and leads to a course of
interminable and unsatisfying speculations.





                        A BRIEF MAYA VOCABULARY.

Acquaintance, kaholâl.

Adder, can, or cam.

——, (harmless,) tzelcam.

Afternoon, zezikin.

Age (an,) khinkatun.

Agony, takyekik, xulikal.

Air, l’k-ikal.

Alligator, ain, chinan.

Alms, ↄayatzil, zitl, matan.

Anger, campectzil.

Animal, balachi.

Ant, zinic, zacal.

Apartment, uay, kakal.

Appetite, ulolal.

Arm and hand, kab.

Ascend, nacal.

Ashes, ↄitaan.

Asthma, coc, coczen, cencoc.

Avarice, coczioïl.

Ax, baat.

Badger, ah, chab.

Ball, (dance,) okot.

Banner, lacân.

Basket, xac.

Bat, zoↄ.

Bath, katchu.

Beam, chalatché.

Beans, bouloul.

Beautiful man, chichcelem.

Bee, yikilkab.

Bed, uay, chac, chacché.

Bed canopy, yuub.

Bed-bug, kulimpic.

Bell, (small,) kilzimoc.

Bench, xacamache.

Bird, chich.

Birth, züan.

To Bleed, tock.

Bleeding, tockil.

Blood, kik, olâm.

Blemish, yikub.

Blind, ekmaï.

Blister, ppool, choolax.

Body, uinclil, cucut.

Bow, pump.

Boy, pal.

Brain, ↄomel.

Bread, uah.

To Break, noppah.

Breast, tzem.

Broom, mizib.

Bug, (flying,) pic.

Butter, tratz.

Buttock, ppucit.

Calabash, chu.

Caldron, mazcabcun.

Calf of the leg, ppuloc.

Cancer, ↄunuz, ↄunuztacon.

Candle, yibac.

Candle, (wax,) yibaccib.

Cane, ochux.

Cat, mix, miztun.

Caterpillar, nok, nokol.

Chair, yec.

Chamber, unoyna.

Chastisement, tzeac.

Cheek, ppuc.

Chicken, cach

Chin, meex.

Cholic, kuxnakil, yanakil.

Circle, peet, petil.

Claws, (beast’s,) mol.

Cloak, (sort of,) zuyem.

Cloudy, nocoycan.

Coal, thabaantchuc, tchuc, cimenchuc.

Cochineal, mukaï.

Cold weather, ceec.

Cold in the head, zizhalil.

Cold, (any thing,) ziz.

Consumption, tzemztemil, nichoïl.

Contagion, bambanicimil.

Cook, or cookery, coben.

Corn, yxim.

Corner, tunk.

Cord, (line,) kaan.

Costiveness, natzhalil, zunↄnalil.

Courage, ikal, ↄabaïl.

Court, tancabal.

Covetousness, natzil.

Crab, ixbau.

Cramp, lotheek, zizoc.

Cricket, maaz.

Cripple, mech, moch.

Crown, nac.

Cruelty, yxmaↄnↄilil.

Dauphin, ahzibic.

Day, kin.

Day-break, yaja-cab.

Day after to-morrow, cabej.

Dead, cimen.

Deaf, cooc.

Deafness, coocil.

Death, cimil, cimen.

Deceit, tabzah.

Deer, ceb.

To Deflower, zat zubuyil.

Descend, emel.

Desire, ↄibolal.

Diamond, kabliztoc.

To Die, cimil.

Dinner, (to eat,) hanal.

Discord, kexolal.

Dog, pek.

Door, hol.

Doubt, picolal.

Drake, (wild,) catzhâa.

Drawers, ex, humpel, sacech.

Drink, ukil.

Drop, chibaloc, can-nohol.

Dropsy, zot, chupil.

Dumb, tot.

Dumbness, totil.

Eagle, coot.

Ear, leexicên.

Early, matukin.

East, lakin.

Earthen dish, xamah.

Earthquake, cicilan, cicilancal.

Eat, (bread,) hantachouaj.

Egg, hue, cel.

Elbow, cué.

Embroider, chuy.

Enchanter, ahez, ahcunyha, ahcunal.

Ennui, tukolal.

Enter, ocol.

Entrails, hobnel, tzuc.

Eye-lash, matzab.

Eye-lid, pachich.

Eyes, ouich, or ych.

Fair, kinic.

To Fall, nenel.

Family, balnaïl, cuchteïl.

Fan, ual, picit.

Far, naach.

Fast, tumut, hana.

Fat, yek, yekil.

Father, hachyum.

Fear, zablemotal.

Feather, kukum.

Feebleness, tzemil.

Female, chupal.

Fever, chacauil, chocuil.

Fever, (intermittent,) yaxcal.

Fiction, iktili, iktilican.

Fields, hotoch.

Fight, tock.

Fingers, jalkab.

Finger, (middle,) chumuckab.

——, (ring,) ahoïpit.

Fire, kak.

Firewood, zi.

Fish, (lake,) hulum.

——, (peculiar to America,) tzan.

To Fish, tchoukaï.

Flame of fire, leↄka.

Flatulency, baalanik.

Flea, chic.

Flint, tock.

Flux, xaankik.

Foot and leg, oc.

Fore-finger, tuchub.

Foreigner, nachiluinic, ↄul.

Forest, kax.

Forehead, chi-lec.

Forgetfulness, tumbobal.

Fornication, pakkeban.

Foundation, ↄec, ↄecil.

Fraud, tabzah.

Fresh, (a thing,) ziz.

Froth, (scum,) om.

Gall, ka, kha, kah.

Giant, ahuanchac.

Girl, tchoupal.

Glow-worm, cocaï.

Goat, chupul, yuc.

God, Kù.

Godfather, yumilan, yeyum.

Godmother, naylan, naylah.

Gold, kantakin.

Gossip, etyum, yumlàh.

Gravel, kaluix, kataczah, kazab.

Great, nohoch, mapal, nuc.

Grief, okomolal.

Groin, heh, mah.

Gum, chunco.

Gutter, ocoyhaa, oc.

——, (sewer,) beelhaa, yachhaa.

Hale, bat.

Half, tancoh.

Hammock, yaabkaan.

Hamper, baas.

Hands, kab.

Hand-worm, pech.

Hare, (two species,) halu, tzub.

Hat, pooc.

Hatred, uyah.

Head, hoot, pol.

Headache, kuxpolil, yapolil.

Hedge-hog, kixpachok.

Heart, puzcical.

To Heat, kilcab.

Heaven, caan.

Heel, toucuy, chol.

Hen, chcach.

Hermaphrodite, hazakam, cobol.

Hern, bac-haa-zacboc.

Hiccough, toucub.

Hip, bobox.

Honey, cab.

Honey bear, zambhol.

Hope, alabolal.

Horse, tzot, tzotzel.

Host, ula.

Hot, chocouhàa.

House, na, otoch.

——, (stone,) nocac.

Humanity, uinicil.

Hump-backed, ppuz, buz.

Hunger, uüh.

To Hunt, tzonaï.

Husband, ichambil.

Image, vimba.

Imagination, ↄüolâl.

Incest, onelbilkeban.

Inconstancy, hebolal.

Industry, ytzatil.

Infant, hcho, schuchul.

Infirmity, kohanil, chapaïl.

Intention, olil.

Intestine, zal.

Itch, uech.

Jar, (large,) calamacat.

Jaws, camach.

Jewel, ↄipit, kab.

Jug, buleb, zuleb.

Kidneys, yz.

To Kill, cimzah.

To Kiss, machü, ↄuↄ.

Knee, pix.

Ladder-step, ↄac, ↄacal.

Languor, kohanil, chapaïl.

Lead, tau.

League, luub.

To Learn, cambal.

Learning, miatzil.

Left, ↄic.

Level ground, poctchê.

Lie, tuz.

Light, zaz, zazil, zalilil.

Lightning, lemba, lembaïl.

License, zipitolal.

Lime, taan.

Linen, nok.

——, (dirty,) cicinok.

——, (clean,) yamaxihutnok.

Lion, (wild,) kancoh.

——, (white,) ↄacek. [bo, aï.

——, and Leopard, coh, chac-

Liver, tamnel.

Living, ahcuxan.

Lizard, ixmemech, xzeluoh.

——, (kind of,) huh.

Louse, uc.

Love, yecunah.

Madam, colel.

Madness, cooïl.

Man, uinic.

Man, (handsome,) chichcelem.

Market, kinic.

Marrow, ↄubac.

Mask, kohob.

Mat, (rush,) poop.

Mature, takin.

Measles, uzankak.

Meat, baak.

Melancholy, ppoolcmolal, tzemolal.

Memory, kehlaï.

Menses, ilmah-u.

Midnight, tantchoumoukacab.

Midwife, etnaa, nalha.

Milk, ucabim.

Mirror, nen.

Mist, yeeb.

Mole, ba.

Monkey, maax.

Month, ilaxnoc.

Moon, umpekin.

Moth, xthuyul.

Mother, hachnàa.

Mould, ↄalâb.

Mouth, cha, xi.

Murmur, campectzil.

Nail, (claw,) laxquetlac.

Near, nasaan.

Necklace, kanthixal.

Negligence, nayolal.

Negro, ekbok.

Nerve, xich.

Night, acâb, acbil.

Nipple, polim.

No, ma.

Nobody, mamac.

Noise, hum.

Noon, tantchoumoukin.

North, nohol.

Nose, nü.

Nostrils, holnil.

Nothing, mabal.

Obstinacy, nolmaïl.

Oil, tzatza, kaabil.

Ornament, cen, cenanil tap.

Outcry, auac.

Owl, icim.

Pain, ya, yoïl, kinàm.

——, (in the side,) auat-mô.

——, (mouth, teeth,) chacnik.

——, (breast,) tuzik.

Palace, ahauna, papilote.

Palate, mabcaan.

Palm of the hand, tancab.

Palm-tree, haaz.

Pantaloons, humpel ech.

Partridge, num.

Paste, takab, takeb.

Pavement, taztunichil.

Peg, ecbe.

Pearl, yaxiltun.

Pen, cheb.

Period of time, katum, kin-katun.

Petticoat, paytem, bon.

Physician, ahↄuyah.

Pigeon, zacpacal.

Piles, kabak, ixmumuz.

Pillow, kumchuy.

Pitcher, ppul.

Plate, chob.

Poet, hiktan.

Poison, uay, yaah, tenↄac.

Porridge-pot, cucul, yaan.

Pride, nonohbaïl.

To Produce, alan, alan cal.

Promise, zebchiil.

Provisions, nech.

Pulse, tipontip.

Pupil, (of the eye,) nenel, ich.

To Purge, kalab, halabↄac.

Putrefaction, tuil, hio.

Quinsy, zippcal, yacalil.

Rabbit, thul, muy.

Rain, chuluhhàa.

Rainbow, cheel.

Remedy, ↄaↄacil.

To Retake, mol.

Rib, chalat.

Right, noh.

Ring, ↄipit, kab.

Rivulet, haltun.

Rust, yx, akzah.

Saliva, tub, baba, cilbaïl.

Salt, taab.

Salutation, peul, peultah.

Scorpion, zinan.

Scull, tzec, tzekil.

Sea, kanaps.

Serpent, kanal, can, ixkukilcan.

To Sew, embroider, chuy.

Shade, booy.

Shark, ahcanxok.

Shin-bone, tul, tzelec.

Shirt, xicul.

To Shirt, buuc.

Shoes, chanal.

Shoulder, celembal, pach.

Side, tzel.

To Sing, kaay.

Sir, yum.

Skeleton, tzitzak.

Skin, (human,) oth, othel.

——, (animal,) kcuel.

To sleep, uenel.

Sleep, uenel.

Sleeve, teppliz, tzotiz.

Small-pox, kake.

Snails, mexenhubo.

Soil, bitun.

Sorcerer, ahez, ahcunyha, ahcunal

Sore, pomaetel.

Sore eyes, ya ichil.

Soul, pixan.

South, chanian.

Sparrow-hawk, hii.

Spider, leum.

Spine, chacpich.

——, (animal,) zibnel.

Spot, yihul.

Squirrel, cuc, cuceb.

Star, eck.

Steps, eb.

——, (stone,) ebtun.

——, (wood,) ebché.

Stomach, ychpuzical.

Stone, tunieh.

Stool, (cricket,) yculxec.

Stove, mohob, mob.

Stranger, omon.

Stud, moo.

To Suck, ↄuuc.

Sugar, momcab, mom.

Sun, khin.

Swallow, cuzân.

To Sweep, miz.

Sweat, keluc.

Sweet, chahuc, chaku.

Swim, tahal, tahalhaa.

To Swoon, nuniltameaz, haↄik.

Swooning, zalalol, zaccimil, thoyol.

Sword, (sabre,) haↄab.

Table, mayac.

——, (of stone,) mayac tun.

To Take, chaa.

Tarantula, am.

Tear, kabich, yatilich.

Teeth, (grinders,) cham.

Tempest, chacakal.

Temple, machunhach.

Thigh, chacbacal.

Thirst, ukah, ukhil.

Thorn, hiix.

Throat, cal.

Throne, nac ↄam.

Thumb, naakab.

Thunder, humchac, peechac.

Thunderbolt, uhaↄchac.

Thus, or so, beï.

Tiger, balam, chacekel.

Timidity, oyomolal.

Toad, much.

Tobacco, kutz.

To-day, béjélaé, or bechlaé.

To-morrow, saamal.

Tooth, co.

——, (canine,) ↄay.

Tortilla, (corn bread,) pakach, pecuah.

Tortoise, ack.

To Touch, tal.

Treason, kubilah.

Treasure, tzoy.

Tree, (trunk of,) out-choun-tchai.

Tripe, choch.

Trough, poxché, pokoatché.

Turtle, ae.

Understanding, naat.

Vanity, pezbaïl.

Vein, ychac.

Vengeance, tohbaïl.

Venom, soliman, chihimtie.

Vial, ppool, choolax.

Village, cacab.

Vinegar, zuↄci, pahcii.

Viper, ahaucan.

Virgin, zuhuy.

Voice, than.

Vow, ppaachii.

Vulture, (species of,) ouxcil.

To Wake, ximbal.

To Walk, ximbalni.

Wall, pak.

——, (enclosure,) tulum, paa.

Wallet, mucuc, chim.

War, katun, bateil, ppizba.

Wart, ax, chuc.

Washerwoman, humpel, schpo, xpo.

Washing hands, pocolkab.

Water, haa.

Wax, cib.

Weasel, zabin.

To Weep, okol.

Well, cheen.

West, chikin.

Wheel, cocoↄ.

To Whistle, chouchoub.

Wild-boar, ac.

Wild-cat, akxux, zacoboly.

Wild-hog, citân.

Wild-turkey, ahau, cutz.

Will, olha.

Wind, (blustering,) ciz.

Wing, xik.

Wolf, cabcoh.

Woman, or wife, attambil.

Wood-louse, (Indian,) xkuluck.

To Work, meyach.

World, jocokab.

Wound, cimil, centanil.

Wrist, kalcab.

Year, oumpe-hab.

Yes, matan la.

Yesterday, joolgé, or hooljé.

Youth, paal, baac.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                        NUMBERS TO ONE HUNDRED.

  1, hun.

  2, ca

  3, ox

  4, can.

  5, ho.

  6, uac.

  7, uuc.

  8, uaxac.

  9, bolon.

 10, lahun.

 11, buluc.

 12, lahca.

 13, oxahun.

 14, canlahun.

 15, holhun.

 16, uaclahun.

 17, uuclahun.

 18, uaxaclahun.

 19, bolonlahun.

 20, hunkal.

 21, huntukal.

 22, catukal.

 23, oxtukal.

 24, cantukal.

 25, hotukal.

 26, uactukal.

 27, uuctukal.

 28, uaxactukal.

 29, bolontukal.

 30, lahucakal.

 31, buluctukal.

 32, cahcatukal.

 33, oxlahutukal.

 34, canlahutukal.

 35, holucukal.

 36, uaclahutukal.

 37, uuclahutukal.

 38, uaxaclahutukal.

 39, bolonlahutukal.

 40, cakal.

 41, huntuyoxkal.

 42, catuyoxkal.

 43, oxtuyoxkal.

 44, cantuyoxkal.

 45, hotuyoxkal.

 46, uactuyoxkal.

 47, uuctuyoxkal.

 48, uaxactuyoxkal.

 49, bolontuyoxkal.

 50, lahuyoxkal.

 51, buluctuyoxkal.

 52, lahcatuyoxkal.

 53, oxlahutuyoxkal.

 54, canlahutuyoxkal.

 55, holhuyoxkal.

 56, uaclahutuyoxkal.

 57, uuclahutuyoxkal.

 58, uaxaclahutuyoxkal.

 59, bolonlahutuyoxkal.

 60, oxkal.

 61, huntucankal.

 62, catucankal.

 63, oxtucankal.

 64, cantucankal.

 65, hotucankal.

 66, uactucankal.

 67, uuctucankal.

 68, uaxactucankal.

 69, bolontucankal.

 70, lahucankal.

 71, buluctucankal.

 72, lahcatucankal.

 73, oxlahutucankal.

 74, canlahutucankal.

 75, holhucankal.

 76, uaclahutucankal.

 77, uuclahutucankal.

 78, uaxaclahutucankal.

 79, bolonlahutucankal.

 80, cankal.

 81, hutuyokal.

 82, catuyokal.

 83, oxtuyokal.

 84, cantuyokal.

 85, hotuyokal.

 86, uactuyokal.

 87, uuctuyokal.

 88, uaxactuyokal.

 89, bolontuyokal.

 90, lahuyokal.

 91, buluctuyokal.

 92, lahcatuyokal.

 93, oxlahutuyokal.

 94, canlahutuyokal

 95, holhuyokal.

 96, uaclahutuyokal.

 97, uuclahutuyokal.

 98, uaxaclahutuyokal.

 99, bolonlahutuyokal.

100, hokal.

                  *       *       *       *       *


In corroboration of Mr. Atwater’s opinion with respect to the gradual
remove of the ancient people of the West toward Mexico, we subjoin what
we have gathered from the Researches of Baron Humboldt on that point.
See Helen Maria Williams’ translation of Humboldt’s Researches in
America, vol. ii. p. 67; from which it appears the people inhabiting the
vale of Mexico, at the time the Spaniards overran that country, were
called Aztecs, or Aztecas; and were, as the Spanish history informs us,
usurpers, having come from the north, from a country which they called

This country of Aztalan, Baron Humboldt says, “we must look for at least
north of the forty-second degree of latitude.” He comes to this
conclusion from an examination of the Mexican or Azteca manuscripts,
which were made of a certain kind of leaves, and of skins prepared; on
which an account in painted hieroglyphics, or pictures, was given of
their migration from Aztalan to Mexico, and how long they halted at
certain places; which, in the aggregate, amounts to “four hundred and
sixteen years.”

The following names of places appear on their account of their
journeyings, at which places they made more or less delay, and built
towns, forts, tumuli, &c.:—

1st. A place of _Humiliation_ and a place of _Grottoes_. It would seem
at this place they were much afflicted and humbled, but in what manner
is not related; and also at this place, from the term _grottoes_, that
it was a place of caverns and dens, probably where they at first hid and
dwelt, till they built a town and cleared the ground. Here they built
the places which they called Tocalco and Oztatan.

2d journey. They stopped at a place of _fruit-trees_; probably meaning,
as it was further south, a place where nature was abundant in nuts,
grapes, and wild fruit-trees. Here they built a mound or tumulus; and,
in their language, it is called a Teocali.

3d journey; when they stopped at a place of _herbs_, with _broad
leaves_; probably meaning a place where many succulent plants grew,
denoting a good soil, which invited them to pitch their tents here.

4th journey; when they came to a place of _human bones_; where they,
either during their stay, had battles with each other, or with some
enemy; or they may have found them already there, the relics of other
nations before them; for, according to Humboldt, this migration of the
Aztecas took place A. D. 778; so that other nations certainly had
preceded them, also from the north.

5th journey; they came to a place of _eagles_.

6th journey; to a place of _precious stones_ and _minerals_.

7th journey; to a place of _spinning_, where they manufactured clothing
of cotton, barks, or of something proper for clothing of some sort, and
mats of rushes and feathers.

8th journey; they came to another place of eagles, called the Eagle
Mountain: or, in their own language, _Quauktli Tepec_: _Tepec_, says
Humboldt, in the Turkish language, is the word for mountain; which two
words are so near alike, _tepec_, and _tepe_, that it would seem almost
an Arab word, or a word used by the Turks.

9th journey; when they came to a place of walls, and the seven grottoes;
which shows the place had been inhabited before, and these seven
grottoes were either caves in the earth, or were made in the side of
some mountain, by those who had preceded them.

10th journey; when they came to a place of thistles, sand, and vultures.

11th journey; when they came to a place of _Obsidian mirrors_, which is
much the same with that of ising-glass, scientifically called mica
membranacea. This mineral substance is frequently found in the tumuli of
the west, and is called by the Mexicans the _shining_ god. The obsidian
stone, however, needs polishing before it will answer as a mirror.

12th journey; came to a place of water, probably some lake or beautiful
fountains, which invited their residence there, on the account not only
of the water, but for fishing and game.

13th journey; they came to the place of the _Divine Monkey_, called, in
their own language, _Teozomoco_. In the most ancient Hebrew, this animal
is called K-oph, Kooph, and Kuphon: in the Arabic, which is similar to
the Hebrew, it is called K-ha-noos, Khanassa, and Chanass; all of which
words bear a strong resemblance to the Mexican Te-oz-o-moco, especially
to the Arabic Khanoos. Here, it would seem, they set up the worship of
the monkey, or baboon, as the ancient Egyptians are known to have done.
This animal is found in Mexico, according to Humboldt.

14th journey; when they came to a high mountain, probably with table
lands on it, which they called _Chopaltepec_, or mountain of locusts: “A
place,” says Baron Humboldt, “celebrated for the magnificent view from
the top of this hill;” which, it appears, is in the Mexican country, and
probably not far from the vale of Mexico, where they finally and
permanently rested.

15th journey; when they came to the vale of Mexico; they here met with
the prodigy, or fulfilment of the prophecy, or oracle, predicted at
their outset from the country of Aztalan, Huehuetlapallan, and
Amaquemacan; which was (see Humboldt, vol. ii. p. 185), that the
migrations of the Aztecs should not terminate till the chiefs of the
nation should meet with an _eagle_, perched on a _cactus-tree_, or
prickly pear; at such a place they might found a city. This was, as
their bull-hide books inform us, in the vale of Mexico.

We have related this account of the Azteca migration from the country of
Aztalan, Huehuetlapallan, and Amaquemacan, from the regions of north
latitude forty-two degrees, merely to show that the country, provinces,
or districts, so named in their books, must have been the country of
Ohio, Mississippi, and Illinois, with the whole region thereabout; for
these are not far from the very latitude named by Humboldt as the region
of Aztalan, &c.

The western country is _now_ distinguished by the general name of the
“lake country;” and why? because it is a country of lakes; and for the
same reason it was called by the Mexicans _Azteca_, by the Indians,
_Aztalans_, because in their language ATL is water, from which Aztalan
is doubtless a derivative, as well also as their own name as a nation or
title, which was _Astecas_, or people of the lakes.

This account, derived from the Mexicans since their reduction by the
Spaniards, is gathered from the researches of learned travellers, who
have, for the very purpose of learning the origin of the people of this
country, penetrated not only into the forest retreats in the woods of
Mexico, but into the mysteries of their hard language, their theology,
philosophy, and astronomy. This account of their migration, as related
above, is corroborated by the tradition of the Wyandot Indians.

We come to a knowledge of this tradition by the means of a Mr. William
Walker, some time Indian agent for our government. A pamphlet, published
in 1823, by Frederick Falley, of Sandusky, contains Mr. Walker’s
account, which is as follows: A great many hundred years ago, the
ancient inhabitants of America, who were the authors of the great works
of the West, were driven away from their country and possessions by
barbarous and savage hordes of warriors, who came from the north and
north-east, before whose power and skill in war they were compelled to
flee, and went to the south.

After having been there many hundred years, a runner came back into
the same country whence the ancient people had been driven, which we
suppose is the very country of Aztalan, or the region of the Western
States, bringing the intelligence that a dreadful _beast_ had landed
on their coast along the sea, which was spreading among them havoc and
death, by means of fire and thunder; and that it would no doubt travel
all over the country, for the same purpose of destruction. This beast,
whose voice was like thunder, and whose power to kill was like fire,
we have no doubt represents the cannon and small arms of the
Spaniards, when they first commenced the murder of the people of South

                  *       *       *       *       *


The tradition commences with an account of the deluge, as they had
preserved it in books made of the buffalo and deer skin, on which
account there is more certainty than if it had been preserved by mere
oral tradition, handed down from father to son.

They begin by painting, or, as we would say, by telling us that Noah,
whom they call Tezpi, saved himself, with his wife, whom they call
Xochiquetzal, on a raft or canoe. Is not this the ark? The raft or canoe
rested on or at the foot of a mountain, which they call Colhuacan. Is
not this Ararat? The men born after this deluge were born dumb. Is not
this the confusion of language at Babel? A _dove_ from the top of a tree
distributes languages to them in the form of an olive leaf. Is not this
the dove of Noah, which returned with that leaf in her mouth, as related
in Genesis? They say, that on this _raft_, besides Tezpi and his wife,
were several _children_, and animals, with grain, the preservation of
which was of importance to mankind. Is not this in almost exact
accordance with what was saved in the ark with Noah, as stated in

When the Great Spirit, Tezcatlipoca, ordered the waters to withdraw,
Tezpi sent out from his raft a _vulture_, which never returned, on
account of the great quantities of dead carcasses which it found to feed
upon. Is not this the raven of Noah, which did not return when it was
sent out the second time, for the very reason here assigned by the
Mexicans? Tezpi sent other birds, one of which was the humming-bird;
this bird alone returned, holding in its beak a branch covered with
leaves. Is not this the dove? Tezpi, seeing that fresh verdure now
clothed the earth, quitted his raft near the mountain of Colhuacan. Is
not this an allusion to Ararat of Asia? They say the tongues which the
dove gave to mankind, were infinitely varied; which, when received, they
immediately dispersed. But among them there were fifteen _heads_ or
_chiefs_ of families, which were permitted to speak the same language,
and these were the Taltecs, the Aculhucans, and Azteca nations, who
embodied themselves together, which was very natural, and travelled,
they knew not where, but at length arrived in the country of Aztalan, or
the lake country in America.

Among the vast multitude of painted representations found by Humboldt,
on the books of the natives, made also frequently of prepared skins of
animals, were delineated all the leading circumstances and history of
the deluge, of the fall of man, and of the seduction of the woman by the
means of the serpent, the first murder as perpetrated by Cain, on the
person of his brother Abel.

Among the different nations, according to Humboldt, who inhabited
Mexico, were found paintings which represented the deluge, or the flood
of Tezpi. The _same_ person among the Chinese is called _Fohi_ and
_Yu-ti_, which is strikingly similar in sound to the Mexican _Tezpi_, in
which they show how he saved himself and his wife, in a bark, or some
say, in a canoe, others on a raft, which they call, in their language, a

Tezpi sent out other birds, one of which was the humming-bird; this bird
alone returned again to the boat, holding in its beak a branch, covered
with leaves. Tezpi now knowing that the earth was dry, being clothed
with fresh verdure, quitted his bark near the mountain Colhucan, or
Ararat. A tradition of the same fact, the deluge, is also found among
the Indians of the Northwest. I received (says a late traveller) the
following account from a chief of one of the tribes, in his own words,
in the English:—“An old man, live great while ago, he wery good man, he
have three son. The Great Spirit tell him, go make raft—build wigwam on
top: for he make it rain wery much. When this done, Great Spirit say,
put in two of all the creatures, then take sun, moon—all the stars, put
them in—get in himself, with his _Equa_, (wife,) children, shut door,
all dark outside. Then it rain much hard, many days. When they stay
there long time—Great Spirit say, old man, go out. So he take diving
animal, sa goy see if find the earth: so he went, come back, not find
anything. Then he wait few days—send out mushquash, see what he find.
When he come back, brought some mud in he paw; old man wery glad; he
tell mushquash, you wery good, long this world stand, be plenty
mushquash, no man ever kill you all. Then few days more, he take wery
prety bird, send him out, see what it find; that bird no come back: so
he send out one white bird, that come back, have grass in he mouth. So
old man know water going down. The Great Spirit say, old man, let sun,
moon, stars go out, old man too. He go out, raft on much big mountain,
when he see prety bird, he send out first, eating dead things—he say,
bird, you do no right, when me send, you no come back, you must be
black, you no prety bird any more—you always eat bad things So it was

The purity of these traditions is evidence of two things: first, that
the book of Genesis, as written by Moses, is not, as some have imagined,
a cunningly devised fable, as these Indians cannot be accused of
Christian nor of Jewish priestcraft, their religion being of another
cast. And second, that the continents of America, Europe, Africa, and
Asia, were anciently united, so that the _earlier_ nations came directly
over after the confusion of the ancient language and dispersion—on which
account its purity has been preserved more than among the more wandering
tribes of the old continents.

As favoring this idea of their (the Mexicans) coming immediately from
the region of the tower of Babel, their tradition goes on to inform us,
that the tongues distributed by this bird were infinitely various, and
dispersed over the earth; but that it so happened that fifteen heads of
families were permitted to speak the same language. These travelled till
they came to a country which they called Aztalan, supposed to be in the
regions of the now United States, according to Humboldt. The word
_Aztalan_ signifies, in their language, _water_, or a country of much
water. Now, no country on the earth better suits this appellation than
the western country, on account of the vast number of lakes found there,
and it is even, by us, called the lake country.

It is evident that the Indians are not the first people who found their
way to this country. Among these ancient nations are found many
traditions corresponding to the accounts given by Moses respecting the
creation, the fall of man by the means of a serpent, the murder of Abel
by his brother, &c.; all of which are denoted in their paintings, as
found by the earlier travellers among them, since the discovery of
America by Columbus, and carefully copied from their books of prepared
hides, which may be called parchment, after the manner of the ancients
of the earliest ages. We are pleased when we find such evidence, as it
goes to the establishment of the truth of the historical parts of the
Old Testament, evidence so far removed from the skeptic’s charge of
priestcraft here among the unsophisticated nations of the woods of

Clavigero, in his history of Mexico, says that among the Chiapanese
Indians was found an ancient manuscript in the language of that country,
made by the Indians themselves, in which it was said, according to their
ancient tradition, that a certain person, named _Votan_, was present at
that great building, which was made by order of his uncle, in order to
mount up to heaven: that then every people was given their language, and
that Votan himself was charged by God to make the division of the lands
of Anahuac—so Noah divided the earth among his sons. Votan may have been
Noah, or a grandson of his.

Of the ancient Indians of Cuba, several historians of America relate,
that when they were interrogated by the Spaniards concerning their
origin, they answered, they had heard from their ancestors, that God
created the heavens and the earth, and all things; that an old man,
having foreseen the deluge with which God designed to chastise the sins
of men, built a large canoe and embarked in it with his family, and many
animals; that when the inundation ceased, he sent out a raven, which,
because it found food suited to its nature to feed on, never returned to
the canoe; that he then sent out a pigeon, which soon returned, bearing
a branch of the _Hoba_ tree, a certain fruit-tree of America, in its
mouth; that when the old man saw the earth dry, he disembarked, and
having made himself wine of the wood grape, he became intoxicated and
fell asleep; that then one of his sons made ridicule of his nakedness,
and that another son piously covered him; that, upon waking, he blessed
the latter and cursed the former. Lastly, these islanders held that they
had their origin from the accursed son, and therefore went almost naked;
that the Spaniards, as they were clothed, descended perhaps from the

Many of the nations of America, says Clavigero, have the same tradition,
agreeing nearly to what we have already related. It was the opinion of
this author, that the nations who peopled the Mexican empire belonged to
the posterity of Naphtuhim—(the same, we imagine, with Japheth;) and
that their ancestors, having left Egypt not long after the confusion of
the ancient language, travelled towards America, crossing over on the
isthmus, which it is supposed once united America with the African
continent, but since has been beaten down by the operation of the waters
of the Atlantic on the north, and of the Southern ocean on the south, or
by the operation of earthquakes.

Now we consider the comparative perfection of the preservation of this
_Bible_ account as an evidence that the people among whom it was found
must have settled in this country at a very early period of time after
the flood, and that they did not wander any more, but peopled the
continent, cultivating it, building towns and cities, after their
manner, the vestiges of which are so abundant to this day; and on this
account, viz., their fixedness, their traditionary history was not as
liable to become lost, as it would have undoubtedly been had they
wandered, as many other nations of the old world have done. As evidence
of the presence of a Hindoo population in the southern, as well as the
western parts of North America, we bring the Mexican traditions
respecting some great religious teacher who once came among them. These
say, that a wonderful personage, whom they name _Quetzalcoatl_, appeared
among them, who was a white and bearded man. This person assumed the
dignity of acting as a priest and legislator, and became the chief of a
religious sect, which, like the Songasis, and the Buddhists of
Hindostan, inflicted on themselves the most cruel penances. He
introduced the custom of piercing the lips and ears, and lacerating the
rest of the body, with the prickles of the agave and leaves, the thorns
of the cactus, and of putting reeds into the wounds, in order that the
blood might be seen to trickle more copiously. In all this, says
Humboldt, we seem to behold one of those Rishi, hermits of the Ganges,
whose pious austerity is celebrated in the books of the Hindoos.

Respecting this white and bearded man, much is said in their tradition,
recorded in their books of skin; and among other things, that after a
long stay with them he suddenly left them, promising to return again in
a short time, to govern them and renew their happiness. This person
resembles, very strongly, in his promise to return again, the behavior
of Lycurgus, the Spartan lawgiver, who, on his departure from Lacedæmon,
bound all the citizens under an oath, both, for themselves and
posterity, that they would neither violate nor abolish his laws till his
return; and soon after, in the Isle of Crete, he put himself to death,
so that his return became impossible.

It was the posterity of this man whom the unhappy Montezuma thought he
recognised in the soldiers of Cortez, the Spanish conqueror of Mexico.
“We know,” said the unhappy monarch, in his first interview with the
Spanish general, “by our books, 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, who after a while returned again,
alone. We 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_, I cannot doubt but that the king who sends you is our
natural master.”

Humboldt says that the Azteca tribes left their country, Aztalan, in the
year of our Lord 544; and wandered to the south or southwest, coming at
last to the vale of Mexico. It would appear from this view, that as the
nations of Aztalan, with their fellow nations, left vast works, and a
vast extent of country, apparently in a state of cultivation, with
cities and villages, more in number than three thousand, as Breckenridge
supposed, they must, therefore, have settled here long before the
Christian era.

And this Quetzalcoatl, a celebrated minister of these opinions, appears
to have been the _first_ who announced the religion of the east among
the people of the west. There was also one other minister, or Brahmin,
who appeared among the Mozca tribes in South America, whom they named
_Bochica_. This personage taught the worship of the sun; and, if we were
to judge, we should pronounce him a missionary of the Confucian system,
a worshipper of fire, which was the religion of the ancient Persians, of
whose country Confucius was a native. This also is evidence that the
first inhabitants of America came here at a period near the flood, long
before that worship was known, or they would have had a knowledge of
this Persian worship, which was introduced by _Bochica_ among the
American nations, which, it seems, they had not, until taught by this

Bochica, it appears, became a legislator among those nations, and
changed the form of their government to a form, the construction of
which, says Baron Humboldt, bears a strong analogy to the governments of
Japan and Thibet, on account of the _pontiffs_ holding in their hands
both the secular and the spiritual reins. In Japan, an island on the
east of Asia, or rather many islands, which compose the Japanese empire,
is found a religious sect, styled Sinto, who do not believe in the
sanguinary rites of shedding either human blood, or that of animals, to
propitiate their gods; they even abstain from animal food, and detest
bloodshed, and will not touch any dead body.—(_Morse’s Geography_, p.

There is in South America a whole nation who eat nothing but vegetables,
and who hold in abhorrence those who feed on flesh.—(_Humboldt_, p.

Such a coincidence in the religion of nations can scarcely be supposed
to exist, unless they are of one origin. Therefore, from what we have
related above, and a few pages back, it is clear, both from the
tradition of the Aztecas, who lived in the western regions before they
went to the south, and from the fact that nations on the Asiatic side of
Bhering’s Strait have come _annually_ over the strait to fight the
nations of the northwest, that we, in this way, have given conclusive
and satisfactory reasons why, in the western mounds and tumuli, are
found evident tokens of the presence of a Hindoo population; or, at
least, of nations influenced by the superstitions of that people,
through the means of missionaries of those castes, and that they did not
bring those opinions and ceremonies with them when they _first_ left
Asia, after the confusion of the antediluvian language, as led on by
their fifteen chiefs; till, by some means, and at some period, they
finally found this country—not by the way of Bhering’s Strait, but by
some nearer course.

Perhaps a few words on the supposed native country of Quetzalcoatl may
be allowed; who, as we have stated, is reported to have been a _white_
and _bearded_ man, by the Mexican Aztecas. There is a vast range of
islands on the northeast of Asia, in the Pacific, situated not very far
from Bhering’s Strait, in latitude between forty and fifty degrees
north. The inhabitants of these islands, when first discovered, were
found to be far in advance in the arts and civilization, and a knowledge
of government, of their continental neighbors, the Chinese and Tartars.
The island of Jesso, in particular, is of itself an empire,
comparatively, being very populous, and its people are also highly
polished in their manners. The inhabitants may be denominated
white—their women especially, whom Morse, in his geography of the Japan,
Jesso, and other islands in that range, says expressly are white, fair,
and ruddy. Humboldt says they are a bearded race of men, like Europeans.

It appears that the ancient government of these islands, especially that
of Japan, which is neighbor to that of Jesso, was in the hands of
spiritual monarchs and pontiffs till the seventeenth century. As this
was the form of government introduced by Quetzalcoatl, when he first
appeared among the Azteca tribes, which we suppose was in the country of
Aztalan, or Western States, may it not be conjectured that he was a
native of some of those islands, who in his wanderings had found his way
hither, on errands of benevolence; as it is said in the tradition
respecting him, that he preached peace among men, and would not allow
any other offering to the divinity than the first fruits of the harvest,
which doctrine was in character with the mild and amiable manners of the
inhabitants of those islands. And that peculiar and striking record,
found painted on the Mexican skin-books, which describes him to have
been a white and bearded man, is our other reason for supposing him to
have been a native of some of these islands, and most probably Jesso,
rather than any other country.

The inhabitants of these islands originated from China, and with them
undoubtedly carried the Persian doctrines of the worship of the sun and
fire; consequently, we find it taught to the people of Aztalan and
Mexico, by such as visited them from China or the islands above named;
as it is clear the sun was not the original object of adoration in
Mexico, but rather the power which made the sun. So Noah worshipped.

Their traditions also recognise another important chief, who led the
Azteca tribes _first_ to the country of Aztalan, long before the
appearance of Quetzalcoatl or Bochica among them. This great leader they
name Tecpaltzin, and doubtless allude to the time when they first found
their way to America, and settled in the western region.—[PRIEST.]

                  *       *       *       *       *

                        ORIGIN OF FIRE-WORSHIP.

For many ages the false religions of the East had remained stationary;
but in this period, _magianism_ received considerable strength from the
writings of Zoroaster. He was a native of Media. He pretended to a visit
in heaven, where God spoke to him out of a fire. This fire he pretended
to bring with him on his return. It was considered holy—the dwelling of
God. The priests were for ever to keep it, and the people were to
worship before it. He caused fire-temples everywhere to be erected, that
storms and tempests might not extinguish it. As he considered God as
dwelling in the fire, he made the sun to be his chief residence, and
therefore the _primary_ object of worship. He abandoned the old system
of two gods, one good and the other evil, and taught the existence of
one Supreme, who had under him a good and evil angel—the immediate
authors of good and evil. To gain reputation, he retired into a cave,
and there lived a long time a recluse, and composed a book called the
_Zend-Avesta_, which contains the liturgy to be used in the
fire-temples, and the chief doctrines of his religion. His success in
propagating his system was astonishingly great. Almost all the eastern
world, for a season, bowed before him. He is said to have been slain,
with eighty of his priests, by a Scythian prince, whom he attempted to
convert to his religion.

It is manifest that he derived his whole system of God’s dwelling in the
fire, from the burning bush, out of which God spake to Moses. He was
well acquainted with the Jewish Scriptures. He gave the same history of
the creation and deluge that Moses had given, and inserted a great part
of the Psalms of David into his writings. The Mehestani, his followers,
believed in the immortality of the soul, in future rewards and
punishments, and in the purification of the body by fire; after which
they would be united to the good.—(_Marsh’s Ecclesiastical History_, p.
78.) From the same origin, that of the burning bush, it is altogether
probable the worship of fire, for many ages, obtained over the whole
habitable earth; and is still to be traced in the funeral piles of the
Hindoos, the beacon-fires of the Scotch and Irish, the periodical
midnight fires of the Mexicans, and the council-fires of the North
American Indians, around which they dance.

A custom among the natives of New Mexico, as related by Baron Humboldt,
is exactly imitated by a practice found still in some parts of Ireland,
among the descendants of the ancient Irish.

At the commencement of the month of November, the great fire of
_Sumhuin_ is lit up, all the culinary fires in the kingdom being first
extinguished, as it was deemed sacrilege to awaken the winter’s social
flame except by a spark snatched from this sacred fire; on which
account, the month of November is called, in the Irish language,

To this day, the inferior Irish look upon bonfires as sacred; they say
their prayers walking round them, the young dream upon their ashes, and
the old take this fire to light up their domestic hearths, imagining
some secret undefinable excellence connected with it.—[PRIEST.]

                  *       *       *       *       *


This stone was found near the site of the present city of Mexico, buried
some feet beneath the soil, on which is engraven a great number of
hieroglyphics, signifying the divisions of time, the motions of the
heavenly bodies, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, with reference to the
feasts and sacrifices of the Mexicans, and is called by Humboldt the
_Mexican Calendar_, in relief, on basalt, a kind of stone.

This deservedly celebrated historiographer and antiquarian has devoted a
hundred pages and more of his octavo work, entitled “_Researches in
America_,” in describing the similarity which exists between its
representations of astrology, astronomy, and the divisions of time, and
those of a great multitude of the nations of Asia—Chinese, Japanese,
Calmucks, Mongols, Mantchaus, and other Tartar nations; the Egyptians,
Babylonians, Persians, Phœnicians, Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, and ancient
Celtic nations of Europe. (See the American edition by Helen Maria
Williams, vol. i.) The size of this stone was very great, being a
fraction over twelve feet square, three feet in thickness, weighing
twenty-four tons. It is of the kind of stone denominated trappean
porphyry, of the blackish gray color.

The place where it was found was more than thirty miles from any quarry
of the kind; from which we discover the ability of the ancient
inhabitants not only to transport stones of great size, as well as the
ancient Egyptians, in building their cities and temples of marble, but
also to cut and engrave on stone, equal with the present age.

It was discovered in the vale of Mexico, in A. D. 1791, in the spot
where Cortez ordered it to be buried, when, with his ferocious
Spaniards, that country was devastated. That Spaniard universally broke
to pieces all images of stone which came in his way, except such as were
too large and strong to be quickly and easily thus affected. Such he
buried, among which this sculptured stone was one. This was done to hide
them from the sight of the natives, whose strong attachment, whenever
they saw them, counteracted their conversion to the Roman Catholic

The sculptured work on this stone is in circles; the outer one of all is
a trifle over twenty-seven feet in circumference—from which the reader
can have a tolerable notion of its size and appearance. The whole stone
is intensely crowded with representations and hieroglyphics, arranged,
however, in order and harmony, every way equal with any astronomical
calendar of the present day. It is further described by Baron Humboldt,
who saw and examined it on the spot:—

“The concentric circles, the numerous divisions and subdivisions
engraven on this stone, are traced with mathematical precision. The more
minutely the detail of this sculpture is examined, the greater the taste
we find in the repetition of the same forms. In the centre of the stone
is sculptured the celebrated sign _nahuiolin-Tonatiuh_, the SUN, which
is surrounded by eight triangular radii. The god _Tonatiuh_, or the sun,
is figured on this stone, opening his large mouth, armed with teeth,
with the tongue protruded to a great length. This yawning mouth and
protruded tongue is like the image of _Kala_, or, in another word,
_Time_—a divinity of Hindostan. Its dreadful mouth, armed with teeth, is
meant to show that the god Tonatiuh, or Time, swallows the world,
opening a fiery mouth, devouring the years, months, and days, as fast as
they come into being. The same image we find under the name of _Moloch_
among the Phœnicians, some of the ancient inhabitants on the eastern
side of the Mediterranean, from which very country there can be but
little doubt America received a portion of its earliest inhabitants.”
Hence a knowledge of the arts to great perfection, as found among the
Mexicans, was thus derived. Humboldt says the Mexicans have evidently
followed the Persians in the division of time, as represented on this
stone. The Persians flourished one thousand years before Christ.

“The structure of the Mexican aqueducts leads the imagination at once to
the shores of the Mediterranean.”—(_Thomas’s Travels_, p. 293.) The
size, grandeur, and riches of the tumuli on the European and Asiatic
sides of the Cimmerian strait (which unites the Black sea with the
Archipelago, a part of the Mediterranean, the region of ancient Greece,
where the capital of Turkey in Europe now stands, called
Constantinople), “excite astonishing ideas of the wealth and power of
the people by whom they were constructed.”

But whatever power, wealth, genius, magnitude of tumuli, mounds and
pyramids are found about the Mediterranean—where the Egyptian, the
Phœnician, the Persian, and the Greek, have displayed the monuments of
this most ancient sort of antiquities—all, all is realized in North and
South America, and doubtless under the influence of the same
superstition and eras of time,— having crossed over, as before argued;
and among the various aboriginal nations of South and North America, but
especially the former, are undoubtedly found the descendants of the
fierce Medes and Persians, and other warlike nations of the old world.

The discoveries of travellers in that country show, even at the present
time, that the ancient customs in relation to securing their habitations
with a wall still prevail. Towns in the interior of Africa, on the river
Niger, of great extent, are found to be surrounded by walls of earth, in
the same manner as those of the West in North America.

See the account as given by Richard Lander: “On the 4th of May, we
entered a town of prodigious extent, fortified with three walls of
little less than twenty miles in circuit, with ditches or moats between.
This town, called _Boo-hoo_, is in the latitude of about eight degrees
forty-three minutes north, and longitude five degrees and ten minutes
east. On the 17th, we came to _Roossa_, which is a cluster of huts
walled with earth.”

This traveller states that there is a kingdom in Africa called _Yaorie_,
which is large, powerful, and flourishing, containing a city of
prodigious extent. The wall surrounding it is of clay, very high, and in
circuit between twenty and thirty miles. He mentions several other
places, similarly enclosed by earth walls.

It is easy to perceive the resemblance between these walled towns in
central Africa, and the remains of similar works in this country,

                  *       *       *       *       *


As it respects the scientific acquirements of the builders of the works
in the West, now in ruins, Mr. Atwater says: “When thoroughly examined,
they have furnished matter of admiration to all intelligent persons who
have attended to the subject. Nearly all the lines of ancient works
found in the whole country, where the form of the ground admits of it,
are right ones, pointing to the four cardinal points. Where there are
mounds enclosed, the gateways are most frequently on the east side of
the works, towards the rising sun. Where the situation admits of it, in
their military works, the openings are generally towards one or more of
the _cardinal points_. From which it is supposed they must have had some
knowledge of astronomy, or their structures would not, it is imagined,
have been thus arranged. From these circumstances, also, we draw the
conclusion, that the first inhabitants of America emigrated from Asia,
at a period coeval with that of Babylon, for here it was that
astronomical calculations were first made, 2234 years before Christ.

“These things could never have so happened, with such invariable
exactness in almost all cases, without design. On the whole,” says
Atwater, “I am convinced from an attention to many hundreds of these
works, in every part of the West which I have visited, that their
authors had a knowledge of astronomy.

“Our ancient works continued into Mexico, increasing in size and
grandeur, preserving the same forms, and appear to have been put to the
same uses. The form of our works is round, square, triangular,
semicircular, and octangular, agreeing, in all these respects with those
in Mexico. The first works built by the Mexicans were mostly of earth,
and not much superior to the common ones on the Mississippi.” The same
may be said of the works of this sort over the whole earth, which is the
evidence that all alike belong to the first efforts of men in the very
first ages after the flood.

“But afterwards temples were erected on the elevated squares, circles,
&c., but were still, like ours, surrounded by walls of earth. These
sacred places, in Mexico, were called ‘_teocalli_’ which in the
vernacular tongue of the _most ancient_ tribe of Mexicans, signifies
‘_mansions of the gods_.’ They included within their sacred walls,
gardens, fountains, habitations of priests, temples, altars, and
magazines of arms. This circumstance may account for many things which
have excited some surprise among those who have hastily visited the
works on Paint creek, at Portsmouth, Marietta, Circleville, Newark, &c.

“It is doubted by many to what use these works were put; whether they
were used as forts, camps, cemeteries, altars, and temples; whereas they
contained all these either within their walls or were immediately
connected with them. Many persons cannot imagine why the works at the
places above mentioned were so extensively complicated, differing so
much in form, size, and elevation, among themselves.” But the solution
is, undoubtedly, “they contained within them altars, temples,
cemeteries, habitations of priests, gardens, wells, fountains, places
devoted to sacred purposes of various kinds, and the whole of their
warlike munitions, laid up in arsenals. These works were calculated for
defence, and were resorted to in cases of the last necessity, where they
fought with desperation. We are warranted in this conclusion, by knowing
that these works are exactly similar to the most ancient now to be seen
in Mexico, connected with the fact, that the Mexican works did contain
within them _all_ that we have stated.”—[PRIEST.]

                  *       *       *       *       *


In those early ages of mankind, it is evident there existed an
unaccountable ambition among the nations, seemingly to outdo each other
in the height of their pyramids; for Humboldt mentions the pyramids of
Porsenna, as related by Varro, styled the most learned of the Romans,
who flourished about the time of Christ; and says there were at this
place four pyramids, eighty meters in height, which is a fraction more
than _fifteen_ rods perpendicular altitude: the meter is a French
measure, consisting of three feet three inches.

Not many years since was discovered, by some Spanish hunters, on
descending the Cordilleras toward the Gulf of Mexico, in the thick
forest, the pyramid of Papantla. The form of this teocalli or pyramid,
which had seven stories, is more tapering than any other monument of
this kind yet discovered, but its height is not remarkable, being but
fifty-seven feet—its base but twenty-five feet on each side. However, it
is remarkable on one account: it is built entirely of hewn stones, of an
extraordinary size, and very beautifully shaped. Three stair-cases lead
to its top, the steps of which were decorated with hieroglyphical
sculpture and small niches, arranged with great symmetry. The number of
these niches seems to allude to the 318 simple and compound signs of the
days of their civil calendar. If so, this monument was erected for
astronomical purposes. Besides, here is evidence of the use of metallic
tools, in the preparation and building of this temple.

In those mounds were sometimes hidden the treasures of kings and chiefs,
placed there in times of war and danger. Such was found to be the fact
on opening the tomb of a Peruvian prince, when was discovered a mass of
pure gold, amounting to 4,687,500 dollars.—(_Humboldt’s Researches_,
vol. i. p. 92.)

There is, in Central America, to the south-east of the city of
Cuernavaca, on the west declivity of Anahuac, an isolated hill, which,
together with the pyramid raised on its top by the ancients of that
country, amounts to thirty-five rods ten feet altitude. The ancient
tower of Babel, around which the city of Babylon was afterward built,
was a mere nothing compared with the gigantic work of Anahuac, being but
twenty-four hundred feet square, which is one hundred and fifty rods, or
nearly so; while the hill we are speaking of, partly natural and partly
artificial, is at its base twelve thousand and sixty-six feet: this,
thrown into rods, gives seven hundred and fifty-four, and into miles, is
two and three eighths, wanting eight rods, which is five times greater
than that of Babel.

This hill is a mass of rocks, to which the hand of man has given a
regular conic form, and which is divided into five stories or terraces,
each of which is covered with masonry. These terraces are nearly sixty
feet in perpendicular height, one above the other, besides the
artificial mound added at the top, making its height near that of Babel;
besides, the whole is surrounded with a deep broad ditch, more than five
times the circumference of the Babylonian tower.

We learn from Scripture that in the earliest times the temples of Asia,
such as that of Baal-Berith, at Shechem, in Canaan, were not only
buildings consecrated to worship, but also intrenchments in which the
inhabitants of a city defended themselves in times of war; the same may
be said of the Grecian temples, for the wall which formed the parabolas
alone afforded an asylum to the besieged.—[PRIEST.]

                  *       *       *       *       *

                         THE REMAINS OF CITIES.

The remains of cities and towns of an ancient population exist
everywhere on the coast of the Pacific, which agree in fashion with the
works and ruins found along the Chinese coasts, exactly west from the
western limits of North America; showing beyond all dispute that in
ancient times the countries were known to each other, and voyages were
reciprocally made. The style of their shipping was such as to be equal
to voyages of that distance, and also sufficient to withstand stress of
weather, even beyond vessels of the present times, on account of their
great depth of keel and size.—[PRIEST.]

                  *       *       *       *       *


“Some years ago, the Society of Geography, in Paris, offered a large
premium for a voyage to Guatemala, and for a new survey of the
antiquities of Yucatan and Chiapa, chiefly those fifteen miles from

“They were surveyed by Captain Del Rio, in 1787, an account of which was
published in English in 1822. This account describes partly the ruins of
a _stone_ city, of no less dimensions than seventy-five miles in
circuit, length thirty-two, and breadth twelve miles, full of palaces,
monuments, statues, and _inscriptions_; one of the earliest seats of
American civilization, about equal to Thebes of ancient Egypt.”

It is stated in the Family Magazine, Vol. I., p. 266, as follows:
“Public attention has been recently excited respecting the ruins of an
_ancient_ city found in Guatemala. It would seem that these ruins are
now being explored, and much curious and valuable matter in a literary
and historical point of view is anticipated. We deem the present a most
auspicious moment, now that the public attention is turned to the
subject, to spread its contents before our readers, as an introduction
to future discoveries during the researches now in progress.”

The following are some particulars, as related by Captain Del Rio, who
partially examined them as above related, 1787: From Palenque, the last
town northward in the province of _Ciudad Real de Chiapa_, taking a
southwesterly direction, and ascending a ridge of high land that divides
the kingdom of Guatemala from Yucatan, at the distance of six miles, is
the little river _Micol_, whose waters flow in a westerly direction, and
unite with the great river _Tulija_, which bends its course towards the
province of _Tabasco_. Having passed Micol, the ascent begins; and at
half a league, or a mile and a half, the traveller crosses a little
stream called OTOLUM; from this point heaps of stone ruins are
discovered, which render the roads very difficult for another half
league, when you gain the height whereon the stone houses are situated,
being still fourteen in number in one place, some more dilapidated than
others, yet still having many of their apartments perfectly discernible.

Here is a rectangular area, three hundred yards in breadth by four
hundred and fifty in length, which is a fraction over fifty-six rods
wide, and eighty-four rods long, being, in the whole circuit, two
hundred and eighty rods, which is three-fourths of a mile, and a trifle
over. This area presents a plain at the base of the highest mountain
forming the ridge. In the centre of this plain is situated the largest
of the structures which has been as yet discovered among these ruins. It
stands on a mound or pyramid twenty yards high, which is sixty feet, or
nearly four rods in perpendicular altitude, which gives it a lofty and
beautiful majesty, as if it were a temple suspended in the sky. This is
surrounded by other edifices, namely, five to the northward, four to the
southward, one to the southwest, and three to the eastward—fourteen in
all. In all directions the fragments of other fallen buildings are seen
extending along the mountain that stretches east and west either way
from these buildings, as if they were the great temple of worship, or
their government house, around which they built their city, and where
dwelt their kings and officers of state. At this place was found a
subterranean stone aqueduct, of great solidity and durability, which in
its course passes beneath the largest building.

Let it be understood, this city of Otolum, the ruins of which are so
immense, is in North, not South America, in the same latitude with the
island of Jamaica, which is about eighteen degrees north of the equator,
being on the highest ground between the northern end of the Caribbean
sea and the Pacific ocean, where the continent narrows towards the
isthmus of Darien, and is about eight hundred miles south of New

The discovery of these ruins, and also of many others, equally
wonderful, in the same country, is just commencing to arouse the
attention of the schools of Europe, who hitherto have denied that
America could boast of her antiquities. But these immense ruins are now
being explored under the direction of scientific persons, a history of
which, in detail, will be forthcoming doubtless, in due time; two
volumes of which, in manuscript, we are informed, have already been
written, and cannot but be received with enthusiasm by Americans.

By those deeply versed in the antiquities of past ages, it is contended
that the first people who settled America came directly from Chaldea,
immediately after the confusion of language at Babel.—(_See Description
of the Ruins of the American City, published in London_, 1832, p. 33,
_by Dr. Paul Felix Cabrera_.) Whoever the authors of the city may have
been, we seem to find, in their sculptured deities, the idolatry of even
the Phœnicians, a people whose history goes back nearly to the flood, or
to within a hundred and fifty years of that period.

It appears from some of the historical works of the Mexicans, written in
pictures, which fell into the hands of the Spaniards, that there was
found one which was written by _Votan_, who sets himself forth to be the
third Gentile, (reckoning from the flood or family of Noah,) and lord of
the _Tapanahuasec_, or the sacred drum. In the book above alluded to,
Votan says that he saw the great house which was built by his
grandfather, meaning the tower of Babel, which went up from the earth to
the sky. In one of those picture books, the account is given by the
Indian historian, whoever he was, or at whatever time he lived, that
Votan had written it himself. He gives the account that he made no less
than four voyages to this continent, conducting with him at one time
seven families. He says that others of his family had gone away before
himself, and that he was determined to travel till he should come to the
_root_ of heaven, the sky, (in the west,) in order to discover his
relations the _Culebras_, or Snake people, and calls himself _Culebra_,
(a snake,) and that he found them, and became their captain. He mentions
the name of the town which his relation had built at first, which was

Agreeing with this account, it is found by exploring the ruins of this
city, and its sculptures, that among a multitude of strange
representations are found two which represent this _Votan_, on both
continents. The continents are shown by being painted in two parallel
squares, and standing on each is this Votan, showing his acquaintance
with each of them. The pictures engraven on the stones which form the
sides of the houses or temples of this ruined city, are a series of
hieroglyphics, which show, beyond all doubt, that the era of its
construction, and of the people who built it, excels in antiquity those
of the ancient Greeks, the Romans, and the most celebrated nations of
the old world, and is worthy of being compared even with the first
progenitors of the Hebrews themselves, after the flood.—(_See History of
American City, as before quoted_, p. 39.)

It is found that the gods of the ancient Egyptians, even _Osiris_,
_Apis_, and _Isis_, are sculptured on the stones of this city, the
worship of which passed from Egypt to many nations, and is found under
many forms, but all traceable to the same original. We have examined the
forms of the figures cut on the side of the famous Obelisk of
seventy-two feet in height, brought not long since from Egypt, by the
French government, and erected in Paris; and have compared them with
some of the sculptured forms of men, found on the stones of this city,
in which there is an exact correspondence in one remarkable particular.
On the obelisk is represented a king or god seated on a throne, holding
in one hand a rod grasped in its middle, having on its top the figure of
a small bird.

The arm holding this is extended toward a person who is resting on one
knee before him, and offers from each of his hands that which is either
food, drink, or incense, to the one on the throne. The head ornaments
are of the most fantastic construction. The same without variation is
cut in the stones of the ruined American city in many places; with this
difference only, the American sculpture is much larger, as if
representing gigantic beings, but is of the same character. Can we have
a better proof than this, that Egyptian colonies have reached America in
the very first ages of the world after the flood, or some people having
the notions, the religion, and the arts of the Egyptians, and such were
the most ancient people of Canaan, the Hivites, Perizzites, and Hitites,
which names denote all these nations as serpent worshippers.

As it respects the _true founders_ of this city, the discovery and
contents of which are now causing so great and general interest in both
this country and Europe, it is ascertained in the most direct and
satisfactory way, in the work to which we have just alluded, published
in London, 1832, on the subject of this city, that they were the ancient
_Hivites_, one of the nations which inhabited Palestine, or Canaan, a
remnant of which, it is ascertained, fled into the kingdom of Tyre, and
there settled, and into Africa, to avoid annihilation by the wars of
Joshua, the captain of the Jews; and that among them was one who acted
as a leader, and was called _Votan_, and that he sailed from a port in
ancient Tyre, which before it was known by that name, was called
_Chivim_, and that this Votan was the third in the Gentile descent from
Noah, and that he made several voyages to and from America. But the
kingdom which was founded by Votan, was finally destroyed by other
nations, and their works, their cities and towns, turned into a
wilderness, as they are now found to be. (The word _Hivite_, which
distinguished one of the nations of old Canaan in the time of Joshua,
signifies the same thing in the Phœnician language, Serpent people or
worshippers.) The _Hivites_, it appears, were the ancestors of the
Moors, who spread themselves all along the western coast of Africa, at
an early period, and in later times they overran the country of Spain,
till the Romans supplanted them; who in their turn were supplanted by
the northern nations of Germany, the Goths, &c. The Moors were not the
proper Africans, as the hair of their heads was long, straight, and
shining. They were a different race, and of different manners and
attainments. The contour of the faces of the authors of the American
city, found sculptured on the stones of its ruins, are in exact
correspondence with the _forehead_ and _nose_ of the ancient Moors, the
latter of which was remarkable for its aquiline shape, and was a
national trait, characteristic of the Moors as well as the Romans.

When the Spaniards overran Peru, which lies on the western side of South
America, on the coast of the Pacific were found statues, obelisks,
mausolea, edifices, fortresses, all of stone, equal with the
architecture of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, six hundred years before the
Christian era. Roads were cut through the Cordillera mountains; gold,
silver, copper, and lead mines, were opened and worked to a great
extent; all of which is evidence of their knowledge of architecture,
mineralogy, and agriculture. In many places of that country are found
the ruins of noble aqueducts, some of which, says Dr. Morse, the
geographer, would have been thought works of difficulty in civilized
nations. Several pillars of stone are now standing, which were erected
to point out the equinoxes and solstices. In their sepulchres were found
paintings, vessels of gold and silver, implements of warfare, husbandry,
&c. To illustrate the architectural knowledge of the Peruvians, as well
as of some other provinces of South America, we quote the following from
Baron Humboldt’s Researches, 1st vol. Eng. Trans., Amer. ed., p.
255:—“The remains of Peruvian architecture are scattered along the ridge
of the Cordilleras, from Cuzco to Cajambe, or from the 13th degree of
north latitude to the equator, a distance of nearly a thousand miles.
What an empire, and what works are these, which all bear the same
character in the cut of the stones, the shape of the doors to their
stone buildings, the symmetrical disposal of the niches, and the total
absence of exterior ornaments! This uniformity of construction is so
great, that all the stations along the high road, called in that country
palaces of the Incas, or kings of the Peruvians, appear to have been
copied from each other; simplicity, symmetry, and solidity, were the
three characters by which the Peruvian edifices were distinguished. The
citadel of Cannar, and the square building surrounding it, are not
constructed with the same quartz sandstone which covers the primitive
slate, and the porphyries of Assuay; and which appears at the surface,
in the garden of the Inca, as we descend toward the valley of Gulan; but
of _trappean porphyry_, of great hardness, enclosing nitrous feldspar
and hornblende. This porphyry was perhaps dug in the _great_ quarries
which are found at 4000 meters in height, (which is 13,000 feet and a
fraction, making two and a third miles in perpendicular height,) near
the lake of Culebrilla, or Serpent lake, ten miles from Cannar. To cut
the stones for the buildings of Cannar, at so great a height, and to
bring them down and transport them ten miles, is equal with any of the
works of the ancients, who built the cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and
Stabia, long before the Christian era.

“We do not find, however,” says Humboldt, “in the ruins of Cannar, those
stones of enormous size, which we see in the Peruvian edifices of Cuzco
and the neighboring countries. Acosto, he says, measured some at
Traquanaco, which were twelve meters (thirty-eight feet) long, and five
meters eight tenths (eighteen feet) broad, and one metre nine tenths
(six feet) thick.” The stones made use of in building the temple of
Solomon were but a trifle larger than these, some of which were
twenty-five cubits (forty-three feet nine inches) long, twelve cubits
(twenty-nine feet) wide, and eight cubits (fourteen feet) thick,
reckoning twenty-one inches to the cubit.”

“One of the temples of ancient Egypt is now, in its state of ruin, a
mile and a half in circumference. It has twelve principal entrances. The
body of the temple consists of a prodigious hall or portico; the roof is
supported by 134 columns. Four beautiful obelisks mark the entrance to
the shrine, a place of sacrifice, which contains three apartments, built
entirely of granite. The temple of _Luxor_ probably surpasses in beauty
and splendor all the other ruins of Egypt. In front are two of the
_finest obelisks_ in the world; they are of rose-colored marble, one
hundred feet high. But the objects which most attract attention, are the
_sculptures_ which cover the whole of the northern front. They contain,
on a great scale, a representation of a victory gained by one of the
ancient kings of Egypt over an enemy. The number of human figures cut in
the solid stone amounts to fifteen hundred; of these, five hundred are
on foot, and one thousand in chariots. Such are the remains of a city
which perished long before the records of ancient history had a

We are compelled to ascribe some of the vast operations of the ancient
nations of this country, to those ages which correspond with the times
and manners of the people of Egypt, which are also beyond the reach of
authentic history. It should be recollected that the fleets of king
Hiram navigated the seas in a surprising manner, seeing they had not, as
is supposed, (but not proved,) a knowledge of the magnetic needle; and
in some voyage out of the Mediterranean, into the Atlantic, they may
have been driven to South America; where having found a country rich in
all the resources of nature, more so than even their native country,
they founded a kingdom, built cities, cultivated fields, marshalled
armies, made roads, built aqueducts, became rich, magnificent, and
powerful, as the vastness and extent of the ruins of Peru, and other
provinces of South America, plainly show.

Humboldt says, that he saw at Pullal three houses made of stone, which
were built by the Incas, (kings,) each of which was more than fifty
meters, or a hundred and fifty feet long, laid in a cement, or true
mortar. This fact, he says, deserves attention, because travellers who
had preceded him had unanimously overlooked this circumstance, asserting
that the Peruvians were unacquainted with the use of mortar, but this is
erroneous. The Peruvians not only employed a mortar in the great
edifices of Pacaritambo, but made use of a cement of _asphaltum_; a mode
of construction which, on the banks of the Euphrates and the Tigris, may
be traced back to the remotest antiquity. The tools made use off to cut
their stone were of copper, hardened with tin, the same metal used among
the Greeks and Romans, and other nations.

To show the genius and enterprise of the natives of Mexico, before
America was last discovered, we give the following as but a single
instance: Montezuma, the last king but one of Mexico, A. D. 1446,
forty-six years before the discovery of America by Columbus, erected a
dike to prevent the overflowing of the waters of certain small lakes in
the vicinity of their city, which had several times deluged it. This
dike consisted of a bank of stones and clay, supported on each side by a
range of palisadoes; extending in its whole length about seventy miles,
and sixty-five feet broad, its whole length sufficiently high to
intercept the overflowings of the lakes in times of high water,
occasioned by the spring floods. In Holland, the Dutch have resorted to
the same means to prevent incursions of the sea; and the longest of the
many is but forty miles in extent, nearly one half short of the Mexican
dike. “Amidst the extensive plains of Upper Canada, in Florida, near the
gulf of Mexico, and in the deserts bordered by the Orinoco, in Colombia,
dikes of a considerable length, weapons of brass, and sculptured stones,
are found, which are the indications that those countries were formerly
inhabited by industrious nations, which are now traversed only by tribes
of savage hunters.”—[PRIEST.]

                  *       *       *       *       *


_Letter to M. Champollion, on the Graphic Systems of America, and the
  Glyphs of Otolum or Palenque, in Central America._—_By_ C. S.

You have become celebrated by deciphering, at last, the glyphs and
characters of the ancient Egyptians, which all your learned predecessors
had deemed a riddle, and pronounced impossible to read. You first
announced your discovery in a letter. I am going to follow your
footsteps on another continent, and a theme equally obscure; to none but
yourself can I address with more propriety letters on a subject so much
alike in purpose and importance, and so similar to your own labors.

I shall not enter at present into any very elaborate discussion. I shall
merely detail, in a concise manner, the object and result of my
inquiries, so as to assert my claim to a discovery of some importance in
a philological and historical point of view: which was announced as
early as 1828 in some journals (three letters to Mr. McCulloch on the
American nations), but not properly illustrated. Their full development
would require a volume, like that of yours on the Egyptian antiquities,
and may follow this perhaps at some future time.

It may be needful to prefix the following principles as guides to my
researches, or results of my inquiries:—

1. America has been the land of false systems; all those made in Europe
on it are more or less vain and erroneous.

2. The Americans were equal in antiquity, civilization, and sciences, to
the nations of Africa and Europe—like them, the children of the Asiatic

3. It is false that no American nations had systems of writing, glyphs,
and letters. Several had various modes of perpetuating ideas.

4. There were several such graphic systems in America to express ideas,
all of which find equivalents in the east continent.

5. They may be ranged in twelve series, proceeding from the most simple
to the most complex.

_1st Series._—Pictured symbols or glyphs of the Toltecas, Aztecas,
Huaztecas, Skeres, Panos, &c.; similar to the first symbols of the
Chinese, invented by Tien-hoang, before the flood and earliest Egyptian

_2d Series._—Outlines of figures or abridged symbols and glyphs,
expressing words or ideas, used by almost all the nations of North and
South America, even the most rude; similar to the second kind of
Egyptian symbols, and the tortoise letters brought to China by the
_Longma_ (dragon and horse) nation of barbarous horsemen, under

_3d Series._—Quipos or knots on strings used by the Peruvians and
several other South American nations; similar to the third kind of
Chinese glyphs introduced under _Yong-Ching_, and used also by many
nations of Africa.

_4th Series._—Wampums, or strings of shells and beads, used by many
nations of North America; similar to those used by some ancient or rude
nations in all parts of the world, as tokens of ideas.

_5th Series._—Runic glyphs or marks, and notches on twigs or lines, used
by several nations of North America; consimilar to the Runic glyphs of
the Celtic and Teutonic nations.

_6th Series._—Runic marks and dots, or graphic symbols, not on strings
nor lines, but in rows, expressing words or ideas; used by the ancient
nations of North America and Mexico, the Talegas, Aztecas, Natchez,
Powhatans, Tuscaroras, &c., and also the Muhizcas of South America;
similar to the ancient symbols of the Etruscans, Egyptians, Celts, &c.,
and the _Ho-tu_ of the Chinese, invented by _Tsang-hie_, called also the
_Ko-teu-chu_ letters, which were in use in China till 827 before our

_7th Series._—Alphabetical symbols, expressing syllables or sounds, not
words, but grouped, and the groups disposed in rows; such is the graphic
system of the monuments of Otolum, near Palenque, the American Thebes;
consimilar to the groups of alphabetical symbols used by the ancient
Libyans, Egyptians, Persians, and also the last graphic system of the
Chinese, called _Ventze_, invented by _Sse-hoang_.

_8th Series._—Cursive symbols in groups, and the groups in parallel
rows, derived from the last (which are chiefly monumental), and used in
the manuscripts of the Mayas, Guatemalans, &c.; consimilar to the actual
cursive Chinese, some demotic Egyptian, and many modifications of
ancient graphic alphabets, grouping the letters or syllables.

_9th Series._—Syllabic letters, expressing syllables, not simple sounds,
and disposed in rows. Such is the late syllabic alphabet of the
Cherokees, and many graphic inscriptions found in North and South
America. Similar to the syllabic alphabets of Asia, Africa, and

_10th Series._—Alphabets, or graphic letters, expressing simple sounds,
and disposed in rows. Found in many inscriptions, medals, and coins in
North and South America, and lately introduced everywhere by the
European colonists; similar to the alphabets of Asia, Africa, and

_11th Series._—Abbreviations, or letters standing for whole words, or
part of a glyph and graphic delineation, standing and expressing the
whole; used by almost all the writing nations of North and South
America, as well as Asia, Europe, and Africa.

_12th Series._—Numeric system of graphic signs, to express numbers. All
the various kinds of signs, such as dots, lines, strokes, circles,
glyphs, letters, &c., used by some nations of North and South America,
as well as in the eastern continent.

Some years ago, the Society of Geography, of Paris, offered a large
premium for a voyage to Guatemala, and a new survey of the antiquities
of Yucatan and Chiapa, chiefly those fifteen miles from Palenque, which
are wrongly called by that name. I have restored to them the true name
of Otolum, which is yet the name of the stream running through the
ruins. I should have been inclined to undertake this voyage and
exploration myself, if the civil discords of the country did not forbid
it. My attention was drawn forcibly to this subject as soon as the
account of those ruins, surveyed by Captain Del Rio as early as 1787,
but withheld from the public eye by Spain, was published in 1822, in

This account, which partly describes the ruins of a stone city
seventy-five miles in circuit (length thirty-two English miles, greatest
breadth twelve miles), full of palaces, monuments, statues, and
inscriptions—one of the earliest seats of American civilization, about
equal to Thebes of Egypt—was well calculated to inspire me with hopes
that they would throw a great light over American history, when more
properly examined.

I have been disappointed in finding that no traveller has dared to
penetrate again to that recondite place, and illustrate all the ruins
and monuments, with the languages yet spoken all around. The Society of
Geography has received many additional accounts, derived from documents
preserved in Mexico; but they have not been deemed worthy of the reward
offered for a new survey, and have not even been published. The same has
happened with Tiahuanaco, in Bolivia, in South America, another mass of
ancient ruins, and a mine of historical knowledge, which no late
traveller has visited or described.

Being, therefore, without hope of any speedy accession to our knowledge
of those places, I have been compelled to work upon the materials now
extant, which have happily enabled me to do a great deal,
notwithstanding all their defects, and throw some light on that part of
the history of America.

PHILADELPHIA, _January, 1832_.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                      HISTORICAL SKETCH OF MEXICO.

From Clavigero, Storia del Messico—from Solis, Boturini, Herrera, Bernal
Dias, and other authors, we learn the state of the arts in Mexico prior
to the invasion of the Spaniards; the progress made by that people in
science; the form of their government, and of their hierarchy: and from
the simple and unaffected narrative of Cortez, contained in his letters
to Charles the Fifth, we may gather pretty accurate knowledge of their
resources, and of the number and character of the population.

Some idea may be formed of the civilization of a people, by the nature
of their government, their civil institutions, and the laws by which
they are governed. In Mexico, the monarch was elected from among the
members of the reigning family, by six electors, chosen from among the
thirty princes of the first rank. The political system was feudal. The
first class of nobles, consisting of thirty families, had each one
hundred thousand vassals. There were more than three thousand families
in the second class. The vassals were serfs attached to the soil, over
whom the lord exercised the right of life and death. All the lands were
divided into allodial, hereditary, and contingent estates—the latter
depending upon places in the gift of the crown.

The priests were charged with the education of the youth; and on their
testimony of the merit of their scholars, depended their future rank.
Each province was subject to a tribute, except certain nobles who were
compelled to take the field, in case of a war, with a stated number of
followers. The tribute was paid in kind, and was fixed at one thirtieth
part of the crop. Besides which, the governors of provinces vied with
each other in the magnificence of the presents which they sent to the

In the quarto edition of Lorenzano, there are plates of the figures, by
means of which the receivers and administrators kept an account of the
tribute due by each province.

There was an _Octroi_ upon provisions, levied in every city. Posts were
established between the capital and the remotest provinces of the

Sacrilege, treason, and murder, were punished with death; and Cortez
protests that the Mexicans respected the laws of the empire fully as
much as the Spaniards did those of Spain.

The emperor was served with great magnificence and Asiatic pomp.

The attention of the government was principally directed toward the
internal commerce, so as to secure an abundant supply to the people.

A court of ten magistrates determined the validity of contracts; and
officers were constantly employed to examine the measures and the
quality of the goods exposed for sale.

Under Montezuma, the government was despotic, and, in his turn, he was
governed by the high-priest. It will be recollected that at the last
siege of the capital, when the emperor and his council had resolved to
accept any terms rather than prolong a hopeless contest, the high-priest
opposed them and broke off the treaty.

Besides the empire of the Mexicans, there were other powerful states,
whose form of government was republican; and Cortez compared them to the
republics of Pisa, Venice, and Genoa.

I must refer the reader to Clavigero and Lorenzano, for the history of
Tlascala, the most powerful of those states, the government of which
existed some time after the conquest of Mexico.

Tlascala was a thickly-settled, fertile, and populous country, divided
into several districts, under the authority of a chief. These chiefs
administered justice, levied the tribute, and commanded the military
forces; but their decrees were not valid, or of force, until confirmed
by the senate of Tlascala, which was the true sovereign.

A certain number of citizens, chosen from the different districts by
popular assemblies, formed this legislative body. The senate elected its
own chief. The laws were strictly and impartially executed; and Cortez
represents this people as numerous, wealthy, and warlike.

The Mexicans possessed some knowledge of astronomy, and their calendar
was constructed with more exactness than that of the Greeks, the Romans,
or the Egyptians. Their hieroglyphic drawings and maps—their cities and
artificial roads, causeways, canals, and immense pyramids—their
government and hierarchy, and administration of laws—their knowledge of
the art of mining, and of preparing metals for armament and use—their
skill in carving images out of the hardest stone—in manufacturing and
dyeing cloths, and the perfection of their agriculture, inspire us with
a high opinion of the civilization of the Mexicans at the time of the
conquest: especially when we take into consideration the period when
they are described to have reached this state of excellence in the arts
and sciences. We ought always to bear in mind the state of Europe at the
same period, before the Reformation, and before the discovery of the art
of printing. Cortez compares Mexico with Spain, and frequently to the
advantage of the former. The only circumstance wanting to have rendered
their state of society more perfect than that of Spain, appears to have
been a more pure religion, and the use of animals for domestic purposes.

The peasants were compelled to carry heavy loads, like beasts of burden;
and in their religious worship the most shocking superstition prevailed.
Their altars were frequently stained with the blood of human sacrifices.

We cannot judge of the character of the population, prior to the
conquest, by the Indians we now see. The priests, who possessed all the
learning, were destroyed; the princes and nobles were deprived of their
property, and in fact reduced to a level with the lowest class; and the
serfs, who are, and always have been an oppressed and degraded people,
are alone to represent the former Mexicans.

Humboldt says, that “it is difficult to appreciate, justly, the moral
character of the native Mexicans, if we consider this caste, which has
so long suffered under a barbarous tyranny, only in its present state of
degradation. At the commencement of the Spanish conquest, the wealthy
Indians, for the most part, perished, victims of the ferocity of the
Europeans. Christian fanaticism persecuted the Aztec priests; they
exterminated the Teopixqui, or ministers of the Divinity, all who
inhabited the teocalli, or temples, and who could be regarded as
depositaries of historical, mythological, and astronomical knowledge.
The monks burnt the hieroglyphic paintings, by which knowledge of every
sort was transmitted from generation to generation. Deprived of these
means of instruction, the people relapsed into a state of ignorance so
much the more profound, that the missionaries, little skilled in the
Mexican languages, substituted few new ideas for the ancient. The Indian
women, who preserved some fortune, preferred allying themselves with the
conquerors, to partaking the contempt entertained for the Indians. There
remained, therefore, of the natives, none but the most indigent, the
poor cultivators, mechanics, porters, who were used as beasts of
burden—and, above all, the dregs of the people, that crowd of beggars,
which marked the imperfection of the social institutions and the feudal
yoke, and who, even in the time of Cortez, filled the streets of the
great cities of Mexico. How, then, shall we judge from these miserable
remains of a powerful people, either of the degree of civilization to
which it had reached, from the twelfth to the sixteenth century, or of
the intellectual development of which it is susceptible?”

Shortly after Cortez landed his small army at Vera Cruz, he received
messengers from Montezuma, bringing with them presents to a considerable
amount, and entreating the Spanish commander not to march further into
the country. The sight of this display of wealth stimulated the cupidity
of the Spaniards, and confirmed Cortez in his determination to penetrate
to the capital. In his route he had to contend against the republic of
Tlascala, a nation continually involved in war with the empire of
Mexico. Cortez vanquished the republicans in two battles, and, after
compelling them to make peace, he found no difficulty in enlisting them
against Montezuma. Six thousand Tlascalans were added to his European
troops as auxiliaries, and he continued his march upon the capital of
the empire in the guise of friendship. As he advanced, he continued to
augment his forces by treaties with other nations or tribes, which were
inimical to Montezuma; and with a European force of five hundred
infantry and fifteen horsemen, and a large army of Indians, he reached
the city of Tenochtitlan on the 8th of November, 1519. The emperor
received him with a degree of magnificence that excited the astonishment
of the Spaniards. The whole army was lodged and entertained sumptuously,
and Cortez himself received presents to a great amount. Some of these he
enumerates to Charles the Fifth, in order to give him an idea of the
riches and ingenuity of this extraordinary people.

It is not surprising, that at the sight of so much wealth, Cortez should
form the wish to become possessed of it. He soon acquired an ascendency
over the timid Mexicans, and Montezuma found that in admitting an armed
and powerful friend into the heart of his capital, he had delivered
himself and his people into the hands of a ferocious enemy.

The Mexican general, Qualpopoca, who had committed some hostilities upon
the colony left by the Spaniards at Vera Cruz, was, on the demand of
Cortez, delivered up to him, bound hand and foot, and by his order was
burnt alive. Soon after this barbarous act, he contrived to get
possession of the person of Montezuma, and detained him prisoner. But
what, perhaps, irritated the people more even than this violation of the
person of the emperor, was the contempt with which their religious rites
and idols were treated by the Spaniards.

The arrival of Narvaez on the coast, with a large force, despatched by
Velasco to deprive Cortez of the command, compelled the latter to leave
Alvarado in command of the force at Tenochtitlan, and to march against
this unexpected enemy. His departure from the capital was the signal for
the people to manifest the hostile feeling they had long indulged toward
the Spaniards. They took up arms against them, burnt the vessels which
Cortez had constructed to command the lake, and laid siege to the
building in which the Spaniards were lodged.

At this period Cortez returned, after having surprised and vanquished
Narvaez. By this action he acquired a great accession of force; and he
is said to have had, after his arrival at the capital, one thousand
infantry and one hundred horse. The siege was prosecuted with vigor and
determination on the part of the natives, and the place defended with
equal obstinacy and valor on the part of the Spaniards. Montezuma, who
had ascended the terrace to address his subjects and to quell the
insurrection, was killed by a stone or arrow, and his brother Quetlavaca
proclaimed his successor. This gave renewed vigor to the Mexicans, and
Cortez was compelled to retreat. His own account of his flight, in one
of his letters, is well worth reading. The night of this disastrous
retreat was called _La Noche triste_, the melancholy night.

Cortez continued to retreat upon Tlascala, the Mexicans pursuing and
harassing his rear. At Otumba, he was obliged to turn and give them
battle. He describes his own troops as worn out with fatigue, but says
that the enemy were so numerous that they could neither fight nor fly;
and that the slaughter continued the whole day, until one of their
principal chiefs was killed, which put an end to the battle and to the
war. He reached Tlascala without further trouble, with the remnant of
his forces, and was well received by his old allies.

He was urged by his officers, and by the garrison of Vera Cruz, to
retire to the coast, but refused to abandon the conquest of Mexico; and,
in order to maintain the ascendency he had acquired over the people of
Tlascala, he made incursions into the territories of the neighboring
nations, whence he always returned victorious, and loaded with spoil.

In December, 1521, he again marched upon Tenochtitlan, and took up his
quarters in Tezcuco. From this place he carried on the war against the
Mexicans and their allies, until the arrival of the frames of thirteen
small vessels, which he had ordered to be constructed in Tlascala. They
were brought by such a multitude of Indians, Cortez says, that “from the
time the first began to enter the city until the last finished, more
than six hours elapsed.” In order to launch these brigantines, as he
calls them, a canal of half a mile in length was cut from the lake, of
such ample dimensions, that eight thousand Indians worked every day at
it, for fifty days, before it was completed.

On reviewing his troops, after the vessels were on the lake, he found
that he had eighty-six horsemen, one hundred and eighteen fusiliers, and
upward of seven hundred infantry, armed with swords and bucklers, three
large iron field-pieces, and fifteen small ones of bronze, with ten
quintals of powder. He does not give the number of Indians then with
him, but on the following day he despatched messengers to Tlascala and
other provinces, to inform these people that he was ready to proceed
against Tenochtitlan. In consequence of this advice, the captains of
Tlascala arrived with their forces, well appointed and well armed; and,
according to their report, they amounted to upward of fifty thousand.

He divided his forces into three corps: one, consisting of thirty
horsemen, eighteen fusiliers, and one hundred and fifty infantry, armed
with sword and buckler, and twenty-five thousand Tlascalans, was
commanded by Pedro de Alvarado, and was to occupy Tacuba. Another,
commanded by Christoval Olid, consisted of thirty-three horsemen,
eighteen fusiliers, and one hundred and seventy infantry, armed with
sword and buckler, together with upward of twenty thousand Indians, was
to take possession of Cuyoacan. The third division was intrusted to
Gonzalo de Sandoval; it amounted to twenty-four horsemen, fifteen
fusiliers, and one hundred and fifty infantry, armed with sword and
buckler, with thirty thousand Indians. This division was to march upon
Iztapalapan, destroy that town, and then, under cover of the vessels,
form a junction with that of Olid. Cortez himself commanded the fleet.
As soon as they reached their several destinations, Alvarado and Olid
destroyed the aqueducts, and cut off the supply of water from the city.

After a siege of seventy-five days, during which both parties displayed
the most obstinate courage, the besieged, reduced to the last extremity
by disease and famine, made an attempt to evacuate the city by water.
They were pursued by the light squadron of the Spaniards; and the canoe
which carried the person of the emperor was captured by Garcia Holguin.
This capture put an end to the war. When Gautimotzin, who had succeeded
to the throne on the death of his uncle, was brought before Cortez, on
the terrace where he was standing, and which overlooked the lake—he
advanced, says Cortez, toward me, and said that he had done everything
which his duty required, to defend himself and his subjects, until he
was reduced to this state, and that I might now do with him what I
thought proper; and put his hand on a dagger that I wore, telling me to
stab him.

The siege was commenced on the 30th of May, 1521, and terminated on the
13th of August; and Cortez says, that during these seventy-five days,
not one passed without some combat between the besieged and the

The captured Mexicans were divided among the conquerors; and Cortez
informs the emperor that he had preserved his share of the gold and
silver, and his fifth of the _slaves_, and other things, which by right
belonged to his Majesty—and as slaves they continued to be treated for
centuries, notwithstanding the humane laws passed in Spain for their

It would be tedious and unprofitable to trace the colonial history of
Mexico from the conquest to the revolution. From great natural
advantages, this country has become rich and powerful, in spite of a
most impolitic colonial system. In justice to the government of Spain,
it must be acknowledged that the laws of the Indies were wise and just,
and the regulations relating to the poor Indians framed in the very
spirit of humanity; but their administration was bad, and the Creoles
were oppressed by their European masters—and, in their turn, harassed
and oppressed the unfortunate natives. Almost the only bright spot in
the page of this history, is the period of the administration of the
viceroy Revillagigedo. Good roads, leading from the capital to different
parts of the kingdom, were laid out and constructed by his orders; and
the streets of the principal cities were paved and lighted, and a good
police established. The only authentic statistical account of this
country was made out at this period; and almost every salutary law or
regulation now in existence may be traced to the administration of

The immediate causes of the revolution of the Spanish colonies are too
generally known to require any further explanation. The invasion of
Spain by Napoleon only accelerated a revolution, toward which the
Americans were slowly but irresistibly impelled by the conduct of the
mother country, and by the political events of the age.—[POINSETT.]




Footnote 1:

  For the use of a French copy of “Waldeck’s Yucatan,” I am indebted to
  my distinguished countryman, Mr. Stephens, for which, and for many
  other civilities, I embrace this opportunity to make my sincere

Footnote 2:

  A specimen of the Lord’s Prayer in the Maya language is here

  Cayum yannech ti canoob, cilich cunabac a kaba, tac cokol a kahaulil
  utzcinabac, a nolah ti luum baix, te ti caane sa ca zamalkin, uah toon
  helelach, zatex ix czipil bay czazic, u zipil uh ziplob toone maix, a
  uilic e lubul, ti tuntabale, hanuca lukezon, ichil lobil. Amen.

Footnote 3:

  It is my purpose to give a more extended discussion of the Maya
  language in a subsequent chapter. I was so fortunate as to procure
  from an Indian in the interior of Yucatan the only copy I have ever
  seen of R. P. L. Beltran’s Grammar of this language, which is
  mentioned in the text. It is entitled, “Arte de el Idioma Maya,
  Reducido á Succinctas Reglas y Semi Lexicon Yucateco, por el R. P. F.
  Pedro Beltran, de Santa Rosa Maria, ex-Custodio, Lector que sue de
  Philosophia y Theologia, Revisor del Sto. Oficio, é hijo de esta Sta.
  Recoleccion Franciscana de Merida. Formólo y Dictólo sienda Maestro de
  Lengua Maya en el Convento Capitular de N. S. P. S. Francisco, de
  dicha Ciudad. Año de 1742, Yolo Dedica á la Gloriosa Indiana Santa
  Rosa Maria de Lima, con licencia: en Mexico, por la Venda de D. Joseph
  Bernardo de Hogal. Año de 1746.”

Footnote 4:

  Chi-Chen signifies, Mouth of a Well. “Itza,” said to be the Maya name
  for one of the old possessors of these ruins, is sometimes added by
  the natives.

Footnote 5:

  The names by which I have designated these ruins, are such as were
  suggested to me by their peculiar construction, and the purposes for
  which I supposed them to have been designed.

Footnote 6:

  I found the wood of the zuporte-tree had been used exclusively in
  these buildings for lintels and thwart-beams, but for no other
  purpose. Upon several of the beams yet remaining, there were elaborate
  carvings. This wood is well known in this country for its remarkable
  durability and solidity.

Footnote 7:

  Dublin Penny Journal for 1834 and 1835, pages 349, 350.

Footnote 8:

  Uxmal signifies “Times past.”

Footnote 9:

  The names (though misnomers) of these structures originated with the
  people of the country.

Footnote 10:


Footnote 11:

  Sparks’ Life of Ledyard.

Footnote 12:


Footnote 13:

  Bradford’s Am. Ant.

Footnote 14:

  Prof. Rafinesque.

Footnote 15:

  De Solis.

Footnote 16:

  Crawford’s Siam.

Footnote 17:

  Montezuma, in reply to Cortez, says, “In regard to the creation of the
  world, our beliefs are the same.”—_Bernal Diez._

Footnote 18:

  An evil genius of hideous appearance, that, it was believed, would
  devour the world.

Footnote 19:

  “They had books made of the bark of trees, in which were noted down
  the records of past times.”—_Bernal Diez._

Footnote 20:

  “The natives of these countries have learned trades, and have their
  shops, manufactories, and journeymen, and gain their livelihood
  thereby. The gold and silver smiths work both in cast metal and by the
  hammer; and excel, as do the lapidaries and painters. The engravers
  execute first-rate work with their fine instruments of iron,
  especially upon emeralds; wherein they represent all the acts of the
  holy passions in such a manner, that those who had not seen them
  execute it, would not have believed such to have been done by the hand
  of an Indian. The sons of the chiefs used to be grammarians; and were
  learning very well until they were forbidden by the holy synod, under
  an order from the Archbishop of Mexico. They excel in all
  manufactures, not excepting that of tapestry.”—_Bernal Diez._

Footnote 21:

  Bernal Diez.

Footnote 22:

  De Solis.

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the females of a household, and especially by those whose duty it is to
superintend the execution of the orders of the Physician, little benefit
can be anticipated to the invalid. The object of this volume is to
afford the instruction which is essential under such circumstances, and
to render the management of the sick-room as satisfactory, as it is a
labour of love, to her who is unhappily doomed to watch over it.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

                      JAMES’S NEW HISTORICAL WORK,

                Life and Times of Richard Cœur-de-Lion,

                        BY G. P. R. JAMES, ESQ.,

Author of “Richelieu,” and “The Ancient Regime,” &c. &c. 2 vols. 12mo.
  Price $1 50, muslin.

“This new historical work by the author of ‘Richelieu,’ is characterized
by all the usual fascinations of style for which his pen is so
distinguished; he has also chosen an epoch in English history, the most
romantic and chivalrous that could have been selected, and the result
has been he has given us a most interesting and attractive book.”—Boston

“Indeed, the general history of the period of which he writes, is so
rich and interesting, that had the subject of the Life of Richard fallen
into far inferior hands, a readable and entertaining work might have
been reasonably expected.”—Albany Evening Journal.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                        DR. STEWART’S NEW WORK,

      Fourth Edition, Improved. One vol. 8vo. Price $3 00, muslin.

                               A TREATISE

                      ON THE DISEASES OF INFANTS,

                           BY C. M. BILLARD,

Founded on recent Clinical Observations and Investigations in
  Pathological Anatomy, made at the “Hospice des Enfans-Trouvés,” at
  Paris, with a Medico-Legal Dissertation on the Viability of the Child.
  Translated from the French, with Notes, by James Stewart, M.D.

“The original work of M. Billard has long held the highest rank among
treatises on the diseases of children in this country, though there are
many to whom it has hitherto been a sealed book, from their ignorance of
the French language. This difficulty is now overcome, and in a way to
enhance the value of the work; for it is not merely translated by Dr.
Stewart, but enriched with an appendix of valuable comments on M.
Billard’s descriptions, supplying occasional deficiencies and affording
the reader an opportunity of comparing disease as it appears in France
and America.”—Dublin Journal of Medicine, May, 1840.

“The work of M. Billard is generally acknowledged to be one of the most
important on the subject of which it treats, of any that have hitherto
been published. For minute but cautious reasoning, it may serve as a
model; and what it lacks in therapeutic detail, is supplied by the
experienced translator in the appendix.”—American Jour. of the Med.
Sciences, Nov. 1839.

“We know not where we have found, within the same compass, so much
valuable information in relation to the treatment of the diseases of
children; and every reader must admire the candour, modesty and
philosophical clearness, with which the author sets forth his views,
while at the same time he adopts them as his own.”—N. Y. Medical

                  *       *       *       *       *


 Fourth edition, revised. One vol. 12mo. Price $1 75, muslin or sheep.

                         THE DUBLIN DISSECTOR;

Or Manual of Anatomy; comprising a Description of the Bones, Muscles,
  Vessels, Nerves, and Viscera; also the relative Anatomy of the
  different regions of the Human Body, together with the Elements of
  Pathology, by Robert Harrison, A.M., &c. First American from the fifth
  enlarged Dublin edition, with additions by Robert Watts, jr., M.D.,
  Professor of Anatomy in the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the
  City of New-York, &c.

“This work has long been considered the best of its kind in the English
language, and it is only necessary to say that the present edition is
the most valuable and convenient for the dissecting-room of any
extant.”—Journal of Medical Science.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                      DR. MARTYN PAINE’S NEW WORK,

                 In one vol. 12mo. Price $1 00, muslin.


With an arrangement of the articles in their several groups, according
  to their relative value. By MARTYN PAINE, M.D., A.M., Professor of the
  Institutes of Medicine and Materia Medica, in the Medical Department
  of the New-York University.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                       DR. THOMSON’S CONSPECTUS,

         Preparing for immediate publication. One volume 18mo.

                   A Conspectus of the Pharmacopœias;

Thoroughly revised and greatly improved, containing the alterations and
  additions of the last London Pharmacopœia, together with the French
  and American remedies. Edited by an American Physician.

In this manual will be compressed the most useful part of the
information which is obtained from larger works: and by affording a
facility of re-examination, keeps in view remedies not constantly or
generally employed.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                      SIR JAMES CLARKE’S NEW WORK,

         Preparing for immediate publication in one vol. 12mo.


With an account of the best places of resort for invalids in England,
  the South of Europe, &c. By Sir James Clarke, Bart. M.D., F.R.S., with
  Notes and an Appendix, adapting the work to this country, with an
  account of the Mineral Springs, &c., by an American Physician.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                         DISEASES OF THE BRAIN,

                   Second edition, in one vol. 12mo.

     An Inquiry Concerning the Diseases and Functions of the Brain,

                      THE SPINAL CORD AND NERVES.

                        BY AMARIAH BRIGHAM, M.D.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                         TEMPERANCE TEXT-BOOK,

        Fifth Edition, in one volume 12mo.  Price $1 25, muslin.



An Essay on the Nature, Causes, Effects and Cure of Intemperance. By
  Ralph Barnes Grindrod. Second American, from the third English
  edition. Edited by Charles A. Lee, A.M., M.D., &c.

“A work so admirably complete must be hailed by the advocates of
Temperance as an invaluable addition to the cause.”—New Era.

“The work is such a thorough examination of the theme that it must serve
as a text-book on the subject.”—Pennsylvanian.

“The most thorough, learned and satisfactory publication on this subject
ever yet offered to the public in any language.”—Christian

                  *       *       *       *       *

                      ELIZA COOK’S COMPLETE POEMS,

         Preparing for publication in one handsome volume 12mo.

                        MELAIA AND OTHER POEMS.

The above work will comprise all the Lyrics and Poems of this favourite
  poetess, many of which have thus become gems of poesy and song
  combined, and which have rendered them among the most popular of the
  day. This forthcoming edition will be richly embellished by a series
  of highly-finished Engravings, rendering the volume admirably adapted
  for a Gift Book, &c.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                       THE MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS

                              OF THE LATE

                         WILLIAM HAZLITT, ESQ.,

          Preparing for speedy publication, in 2 vols. 12mo.,

With a Biographical Sketch of the Author, by Sir E. L. BULWER,
  Bart.—with remarks by SARJEANT TALFOURD, &c. Edited by PARK GODWIN,

“We have no hesitation in saying that the writings of few essayists
surpass the varied excellence of those of Hazlitt;—whether we regard the
philosophical subtlety of their spirit of observation, the fearless
force of their satire, the unrivalled critical acumen of their literary
discussions, the felicitous truth of their pictures of society, or the
power, the purity and the brilliancy of their style.”—Court Journal.

“Hazlitt’s relish for wit and humour, and his acute perception of the
critical value of the good things he enjoyed, give to these discourses a
raciness and gusto.—It is like reading our favourite authors over again,
in company with one who not only laughs with us, but points out the
felicitous thoughts that please. He was a fine critic and always writes
from the impulse of thought; and, brilliant as is his style, he never,
like too many of our would-be brilliants, sacrifices sense to

“Valuing, as we do, the stern, fidelity with which Hazlitt adheres to
his subject, we are rejoiced to see these searching papers rescued from
the obscurity of magazines and reviews,—they breathe the true feeling of
the enthusiastic critic.”—Athenæum.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                   RYAN’S ALGEBRA—Price $1 00, sheep.


Theoretical and Practical, adapted for Schools, Colleges, &c., by JAMES
  RYAN; to which is added an Appendix by Robert Adrain, Professor of
  Mathematics in Columbia College. Eighth edition, greatly enlarged and
  improved by the author.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                        BEAUTIFUL NEW JUVENILES.

         New Edition with numerous beautiful coloured drawings.


        BY STEPHEN PERCY, Author of the “Kings of England,” &c.
                  Price $1 00 coloured—plain 75 cents.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                             TALES FROM THE


Entirely re-written and adapted for Children. Embellished with nearly
  fifty beautiful illustrations. Price 75 cents, muslin, gilt.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                        THE ANNALS OF THE POOR:

Comprising “The Dairyman’s Daughter,” “The Negro Servant,” “The Young
  Cottager,” “The Cottage Conversation,” “A Visit to the Infirmary,” &c.

                         BY REV. LEGH RICHMOND.

A new edition, enlarged and illustrated with an Introductory Sketch of
  the author, by Rev. John Ayre, A.M. 1 vol. 18mo. cloth gilt. With
  plates. Price 75 cents, muslin.

“The above popular works need no recommendation, having been long among
the choicest works designed for present-books for the young:—it is only
necessary to allude to the elegant style in which the present editions
have been produced and which entitle them to take rank with the best
specimens of the day.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                        THE WESTERN ANTIQUITIES

                           In one vol. 12mo.

                     LEGEND OF THE MOUND BUILDERS;

                        A TALE OF THE FAR WEST.

               One volume 12mo. muslin.  Price 50 cents.

“This is a book of a novel character, and treating of a novel subject.
The antiquities of America have been so little known, that many are
almost entirely unacquainted with their existence. Attention has of late
however been directed to their investigation and this mine of hidden
treasures has been partially explored.”—N. Y. Times.

“The author, whoever he may be, is a man of genius. His style is fresh
and vigorous, and he displays much ingenuity in weaving an interesting
narrative from the vague materials furnished by our aboriginal
traditions. The book is worthy of praise if only for its truly American
character and the novelty of its descriptions.”—N. Y. Mirror.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                         THE ATHENIAN CAPTIVE;

                        BY THOMAS NOON TALFOURD.

                        A TRAGEDY IN FIVE ACTS.

                            Price 25 cents.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                           GREAT NATIONAL WORK.

  Preparing for Publication in royal octavo, an important original work
                               entitled an

                     Illustrated Life of Washington,

                          BY WASHINGTON IRVING.

 Profusely Embellished with Engravings from Designs by Chapman and other
                             eminent artists.

This magnificent work will contain an entirely new biographical memoir
  of General Washington, divided into three distinct sections, viz: his
  personal and domestic history, his military, and also his political
  career; the whole derived from authentic sources, and original
  documents, which will be richly embellished by about 500 illustrations
  exquisitely engraved on wood and steel by the first artists, from the
  beautiful designs of Chapman, including also copies from a series of
  great historical pictures in the possession of J. K. Paulding, Esq.
  Numerous other facilities have been added to the otherwise ample
  resources of this distinguished artist, who will remain with the
  several members of the Washington family during the winter for the
  purpose of collecting materials, much of which, it is understood will
  be exclusive and of great value. In a word, it is the determination of
  the publishers to produce a work in every respect worthy of the
  present advanced state of art, and befitting the national tribute to
  the memory of one whose name is destined to be ever redolent with the
  incense of a nation’s praise. The work will form two large octavo
  volumes, printed from new and beautiful type, on the finest paper, and
  appropriately bound, and gilt. Many of the illustrations are already
  in the hands of the engravers, and the work will be produced with all
  convenient speed commensurate with the care required for such a costly

☞ The publication will be commenced early in the ensuing season, in
monthly parts.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                       THE UNITES STATES MAGAZINE


                           DEMOCRATIC REVIEW.

                       JOHN L. O’SULLIVAN, Editor

By an increase in the number of pages, and by an alteration in its
typographical arrangements, the quantity of matter heretofore furnished
to the readers of the Democratic Review, will be increased in its future
numbers about

                         SEVENTY-FIVE PER CENT.

The following are among the contributors to this work:

Bancroft, J. F. Cooper, Amos Kendall, Paulding, Sedwick, Gilpin, Parke
Godwin, Hawthorne, Davezac, Eames, A. H. Everett, Brownson, J. L.
Stephens, Tilden, Whittier, Bryant, Cass, C. J. Ingersoll, Butler,

The Monthly Financial and Commercial articles, which have frequently
been, pronounced by the most intelligent criticisms during the past year
in themselves alone worth the subscription to the work, will be
continued from the same able hand.

An arrangement has been made, by which the Boston Quarterly Review,
edited by Mr. BROWNSON, is now merged in the Democratic Review, the
latter being furnished to the subscribers of the former, and Mr.
Brownson being a frequent and regular contributor to its pages. It is
proper to state that Mr. Brownson’s articles will be marked by his
name—though to most readers they would doubtless reveal themselves by
their internal evidence; and that it has been agreed, under the
circumstances, that these contributions shall be independent of the
usual liability to editorial revision and control—the author alone
having a similar responsibility for whatever peculiarity of views they
may contain, as though appearing in the original work which has been
heretofore edited with such distinguished ability by himself.

Terms.—Five Dollars per annum payable in advance; each number will
contain one hundred and twelve closely printed pages and embellished
with a finely engraved portrait.

Any person taking four copies, or becoming responsible for four


Committees or Societies on remitting to the Publishers $50 in current
New-York funds, can receive thirteen copies of the work.

Persons residing in the country, who may wish to receive the work by
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Remittances may be made by enclosing the money and mailing the same in
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forwarded to mail subscribers and agents on the 25th of the month
preceding publication. All communications for the Editor to be addressed
(post-paid) to

                                         J. & H. G. LANGLEY, Publishers,
                                         57 Chatham-street, New-York.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                   TO LITERARY MEN, ADVERTISERS, &c.


                 The United States Literary Advertiser,

                       AND PUBLISHERS’ CIRCULAR.

This Circular is devoted to the interest of the Booksellers and
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respecting new works in preparation, American and Foreign, together with
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The United States Literary Advertiser and Publishers’ Circular is issued
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the country. All communications to be addressed to the Publishers

                                         J. & H. G. LANGLEY, Publishers,
                                         57 Chatham-street, New-York.


 ● Transcriber’s Notes:
    ○ The Table of Contents was reformatted to make more room.
    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was corrected.
    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
      when a predominant form was found in this book.
    ○ Text that was in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

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