By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Travels Amongst American Indians - Their Ancient Earthworks and Temples
Author: Brine, Lindesay
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Travels Amongst American Indians - Their Ancient Earthworks and Temples" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)


                            TRAVELS AMONGST
                           AMERICAN INDIANS
                       THEIR ANCIENT EARTHWORKS
                             AND TEMPLES;

                        INCLUDING A JOURNEY IN
                    GUATEMALA, MEXICO AND YUCATAN,
                            AND A VISIT TO
                              AND UXMAL.

                     VICE-ADMIRAL LINDESAY BRINE,

 (_Member of Council of the Royal Geographical and Hakluyt Societies._)
  _Author of “The Taeping Rebellion in China; a Narrative of its Rise
                            and Progress.”_

                    SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & COMPANY,
                         St. Dunstan’s House,
                    FETTER LANE, FLEET STREET, E.C.

                          AND AT KENSINGTON.


The attention of archæologists and students of the ancient Mexican
hieroglyphs has latterly been directed to the mysterious subject of the
origin of the astronomical and architectural knowledge that existed
in Mexico, Guatemala, and Yucatan before the discovery of America.
In the United States researches have also been made for the purpose
of establishing, upon a scientific basis, conclusions respecting the
tribes who made the extraordinary ramparts and geometrically planned
inclosures in Ohio.

It is a remarkable fact that although, since the period when Mexico was
conquered by Cortes, an almost uninterrupted series of investigations
have taken place into the peculiar conditions of civilization of the
Mexican and Central American Indians, nothing satisfactory has yet been
ascertained which explains the manner in which that civilization could
have arisen amongst those exceptionally instructed races.

Las Casas who, in the sixteenth century, lived for many years amongst
the Indians in his diocese of Chiapas and Yucatan and saw several of
the temples in that region, declared that the land contained a secret.
That secret may possibly be discovered if the hieroglyphs and symbolic
characters of the Toltecs and Aztecs can be interpreted. But until
trustworthy methods of decipherment are determined, all conclusions, in
default of other evidence, must necessarily be conjectural.

It was with the vague expectation that I should observe, either amongst
the earthworks in the North or in the constructions at Palenque and
Uxmal, analogies with the works of other races in Asia or Polynesia,
that the travels described in this volume were undertaken. After my
arrival in England a brief paper upon the subject of those travels,
so far as they related to Guatemala and Mexico, was read before the
British Association in Edinburgh and was afterwards published in 1872
under the title of “The Ruined Cities of Central America.”

More than twenty years then elapsed before the approaching termination
of my naval career gave me sufficient leisure to examine my journals
with that exclusive attention which the complicated and perplexing
nature of the subject required. This interval of time has enabled
me to obtain a more vivid perception of the relative proportions
of the problem, and to bring together in a more defined focus the
impressions and observations which had been written during the journey.
The theories then adopted have been modified or strengthened by the
knowledge that has been subsequently acquired in other quarters of the

It will be observed, upon an examination of the illustrations of the
ruins of Uxmal, that the Indians in Yucatan must have possessed great
architectural capacities. Pyramids, Temples, Monasteries and other
religious structures were built under most difficult circumstances, in
a manner which commands admiration.

But it is not only the later civilization of the Mexican Indians that
has to be taken into consideration in any attempts that may be made
to solve the difficult and complex problem of this Indian advance
towards higher conditions of life. Underlying the whole question
are the native proclivities based upon the strange and significant
practices of earlier forms of Pagan superstitions and sacrifices. Some
of the profoundly interesting characteristics of these developments of
the aboriginal Indian belief in supernatural influences have formed
the subject of that chapter which relates to the ancient religious
observances of the North American Indians.

  ATHENÆUM CLUB, _May_ 15, 1894.


                              CHAPTER I.

  New York. — Mr. Grinnell. — Search for Sir John Franklin. —
      Southern States. — The Negroes and their prospects. — Naval
      Academy at Annapolis. — Military Academy at West Point. —
      Shakers. — Boston. — Professor Agassiz. — Prairies and
      Glacial Action. — Coral Reefs in Florida. — Mr. Ticknor. —
      Shell Mounds in Florida. — Schools. — Dr. Howe’s Institution
      for the Blind. — Laura Bridgman                                  1

                              CHAPTER II.

  Professor Wyman. — Indian Antiquities. — Concord. — Mr. Ralph
      Waldo Emerson. — Margaret Fuller. — Note upon a visit to Mr.
      Longfellow. — Saturday Club. — Dinner at Harvard
      University. — Shell Mounds at Concord and Damariscotta. —
      Note upon the Ancient Inscription upon the Dighton Rock         19

                             CHAPTER III.

  Indian Reservations. — Lake Superior. — Beavers and their
      works. — The Forest. — Houghton. — Ancient Indian mining pits
      and trenches. — An Indian battle ground. — The Glacial
      Drift. — Note regarding the Dauphin                             34

                              CHAPTER IV.

      Mound Builders and their geographical position. — Miamisburgh
      Mound. — Grave Creek Mound. — Ages and contents of burial
      mounds. — Rectangular, circular and octagonal Inclosures near
      Newark. — Marietta Earthworks. — Discoveries made in a burial
      mound. — Fortifications near Portsmouth. — Encampments in the
      valley of the Scioto                                            55

                              CHAPTER V.

  MOUNDS AND EARTHWORKS IN OHIO. — Ancient Fortified Inclosures at
      Circleville. — Discoveries in a Burial Mound. — Alligator
      Totem near Newark. — Fort Ancient. — Age of Trees growing
      upon the Ramparts at Fort Hill. — Traditions. — Geometrical
      Ground Plans of Indian Inclosures. — Conclusions                79

                              CHAPTER VI.

  The burning of the Steamer Stonewall. — Indian Mounds and
      Earthworks at Cahokia. — Confluence of the Mississippi and
      Missouri. — Sacs and Foxes. —  Education of Indians. —
      Nauvoo. — Winona. — Sioux Encampment. — Ancient Mounds near
      St. Paul’s. — The Sioux War in Minnesota. — Note upon the
      Ogallalas                                                      104

                             CHAPTER VII.

  Prairies in Minnesota and Iowa. — Boulders. — Glacial Drift. —
      Wild Rice. — Snow Storm. — Nebraska. — The Pawnees. — Human
      Sacrifices. — Note on Indian Customs in War and
      Cannibalism. — Prairie Fires. — Prairie-Dog Villages. —
      Rattlesnakes. — Variations in the succession of growths of
      Trees. — Causes of absence of Trees upon Prairies. — Shoshone
      Indians on the Western Deserts. — Note upon Ute Indians and
      Fuegians                                                       124

                             CHAPTER VIII.

  North American Indians. — Diversity of Languages. — The
      Iroquois. — Dialects. — Descent of Iroquois chiefs through
      the female line. — Pagan Indians. — Belief in a Great
      Spirit. — Ceremonies. — Dakotas. — Superstitions. — Dreams. —
      Fasts. — Sun worship. — Medicine men. — Customs of mourning
      by widows. — Supernatural influences. — Lightning. —
      Transmigration. — Worship of Spirit rocks. — Serpent
      worship. — Human sacrifices. — Burial customs. — Method of
      curing sickness by steam. — Note upon analogies between the
      customs of the Indians, Maoris, and the natives of the
      Sandwich Islands                                               149

                              CHAPTER IX.

  The Golden City. — Coast of California — Cape San Lucas. —
      Manzanillo. — Alligators and Sharks. — Acapulco. — San José
      de Guatemala. — Escuintla. — City of Guatemala. — Indian
      pilgrims from Esquipulas. — Ancient mounds on the plains of
      Mixco. — Insurrection of Indians. — Decapitation of their
      leader. — Preparations for the journey across the Continent
      to Palenque and Yucatan                                        176

                              CHAPTER X.

  Mixco. — La Antigua Guatemala. — Volcanoes of Fire and Water. —
      Comolapa. — Ancient Indian Ruins of Patinamit. — Kachiquel
      Indians. — A Dominican Priest. — Barrancas. — Las Godinas. —
      Panajachel. — Human Sacrifices to the Lakes and Volcanoes. —
      Lake Atitlan. — Sololá. — Orchids. — San Tomas. — Quiché
      Indians                                                        194

                              CHAPTER XI.

  Barrancas. — Santa Cruz del Quiché. — Padre Andres Guicola. —
      Ruins of Utatlan. — Report of Don Garcia de Palacio upon
      human sacrifices to the gods in Central America, Statement
      of Bernal Diaz, about the sacrifices in Mexico. — Burning of
      the Quiché Caciques at Utatlan. — Worship of idols by the
      Quichés. — Sierras. — Gueguetenango                            216

                             CHAPTER XII.

  The Sierra Madre. — Todos Santos. — Evening Prayer (La
      Oracion). — Indian domestic habits. — Religious devotion. —
      Goitre. — Jacaltenango. — Indian Festival. — A Temblor. —
      Indian Idolatry. — Custom of ancient inhabitants to serve the
      parents whose daughters they wished to marry. — Doubtful
      fidelity of my guide. — Condition of Mule. — Mexican
      Frontier. — Comitan. — Note on President Juarez, and the
      Execution of the Emperor Maximilian                            238

                             CHAPTER XIII.

  Camping on the plains. — A night amongst the hills in Chiapas. —
      Lopez. — Indian Sun worship. — Ocosingo. — An ancient idol. —
      Proposed expedition through the unknown region occupied by
      the Lacandones to British Honduras. — Bachajon. — Tzendal
      Indians. — Chilon. — Indian Carnival. — Yajalon. — Carnival
      amongst the Tzendales. — Drunkenness. — Dances. — Horse
      races. — Ruined Churches and Convents. — Influence of the
      Priests over the Indian Tribes. — Las Casas. — Forced
      labour. — The Presbitero Fernando Macal                        259

                             CHAPTER XIV.

  An Indian steam bath. — Tumbalá. — Sierras and Forests. — San
      Pedro. — Desertion of guide. — Alguazils. — Construction of
      Indian huts. — Habits of Indians. — Cargadores. — Crossing a
      River. — Forests beyond San Pedro. — Powers of endurance of
      Indians. — Arrival at San Domingo del Palenque                 278

                              CHAPTER XV.

  Palenque. — The Forest. — The Palace or Monastery. — Night at
      Palenque. — Brilliancy of the light of the fireflies. —
      Pyramidal Mounds and Temples. — Tablet of the Cross. —
      Hieroglyphs. — An Indian Statue. — Antiquity of the
      Buildings. — The Tower. — Stucco Ornamentation. — Action of
      the tropical climate upon the Ruins. — Note upon the
      decipherment of the hieroglyphic characters                    297

                             CHAPTER XVI.

  Mounds in the valley of the
      Usamacinta. — Lacandones. — Catasaja. — Canoe voyage. —
      Rivers and Lagoons. — Alligators. — Jonuta. — Cortes’s March
      to Honduras. — Cannibalism. — The Mexican Emperor
      Guatimozin. — Palisada. — Laguna de Terminos. — Island of
      Carmen. — Campeachy. — Yucatan. — Pyramidal Altar. — Human
      sacrifices. — Tzibalché. — Maya Indians. — Arrival at Uxmal    318

                             CHAPTER XVII.

  Uxmal. — Extent of ground occupied by the Ruins. — Teocallis. —
      Burial places at the foot of the Pyramid of the Dwarf. —
      Evening Service at the chapel of the hacienda. — Casa del
      Gobernador. — Sacrificial customs. — Preservation of the
      wooden lintels. — The Nunnery or Casa de las Monjas. —
      Religious customs of the Indians. — Emblem of the Serpent. —
      Sculptures. — Conjectures respecting the possibility of
      Moorish, Spanish, or Oriental influence upon architectural
      design. — Methods of construction. — Note upon a fall of rain
      supposed to be caused by the fires of the Indians              339

                            CHAPTER XVIII.

  Departure from Uxmal. — Indian officials at Abalá. — Indian
      Ceremonies. — Worship of demons. — Baptismal customs. — Laws
      of the Emperor Charles V. for the government of the natives
      in Yucatan. — Superstitions. — An Indian Well. — Halt at
      night. — Merida. — Convent of the Conceptionistas. — Sisal. —
      The Basque brig Aguinaga. — Departure for Cuba and Florida. —
      Tampa. — Cedar Keys. — Buccaneers. — Shell Mounds. — Ancient
      Burial Mounds. — Florida Indians                               360

                             CHAPTER XIX.

  Mounds and Earthworks in North and Central America. — Migrations
      of the Toltecs and Aztecs. — The Quichés. — Aboriginal
      races. — Palenque. — Hieroglyphs. — Temples. — Desertion of
      the Temples and stone buildings in Yucatan. — Conquest of
      Yucatan by the Aztecs. — Antiquity of Palenque and Uxmal. —
      Aztec custom of imprisoning captives in cages and sacrificing
      them to the gods. — Civilisation of the Toltecs. — Note upon
      the symbol or Totem of the Serpent                             378

                              CHAPTER XX.

  Conjectures respecting the descendants of the tribes who built
      the Temples. — Knowledge and education of the Caciques and
      Priests. — Traditions of the arrival of white strangers from
      the East. — Las Casas. — Quetzal-Coatl. — Crosses found in
      Yucatan. — Gomara. — Legend of the flight of Spaniards by sea
      towards the West after the conquest of Spain by the
      Saracens. — Fabulous island of Antilia. — Columbus on his
      outward voyage steers for Antilia. — Trade-winds. —
      Considerations upon the probabilities of vessels being driven
      across the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans towards America          400

  INDEX                                                              423




   ALTAR-PIECE, TEMPLE OF THE CROSS, PALENQUE            _Frontispiece_.

   BEAVER DAM, LODGE AND POND, NEAR ISHPEMING                         36

   CHIPPEWA CHIEF (West of Lake Superior)                             50

   INDIAN MOUNDS, CAHOKIA                                            108

   CHIPPEWA ENCAMPMENT                                               116

   SIOUX ENCAMPMENT                                                  116

   SPIRIT ROCK                                                       118

   PAWNEE, (SHA-TO-KO) Blue-Hawk                                     132

   PAWNEE WOMAN                                                      136

   PRAIRIE AND BOULDERS, NORTH IOWA                                  142

   PRAIRIE DOGS, NEBRASKA                                            142

   INDIAN, SALT LAKE VALLEY, UTAH                                    146

   CHIEFS OF THE OGALLALAS (Dakotas)                                 174

   ANCIENT INDIAN MOUNDS NEAR GUATEMALA                              190

   CATHEDRAL AND SQUARE, LA ANTIGUA GUATEMALA                        196


   BARRANCA, CENTRAL AMERICA                                         238

   INDIAN HUTS                                                       238

   INDIAN WOMAN GRINDING CHOCOLATE, (Central America)                288

   PALACE OR MONASTERY, PALENQUE (EAST FRONT)                        297

  †UXMAL                                                             339

  †PYRAMID AND TEMPLE OF THE DWARF                                   340

  †AN ANGLE OF THE CASA DE LAS MONJAS                                342

  †CASA DEL GOBERNADOR                                               342

  †AN ANGLE OF THE CASA DE LAS MONJAS                                344

  †CASA DE LAS MONJAS                                                344

   SERPENT EMBLEM, CASA DE LAS MONJAS                                350

      AND TEMPLE, UXMAL                                              352

  †QUADRANGLE, CASA DE LAS MONJAS                                    356


   MEXICAN CACIQUE MAKING AN OFFERING                                398

   MEXICAN CALENDAR STONE                                            408

                            MAPS AND PLANS.

   LAKE SUPERIOR                                                      35

   REGION OF THE MOUND BUILDERS                                       54

   INCLOSURES NEAR NEWARK                                             66

   INCLOSURES AT MARIETTA                                             71

   INCLOSURES AT CIRCLEVILLE                                          81

   FORT ANCIENT                                                       88

   OCTAGONAL AND CIRCULAR INCLOSURES, NEWARK                          97

   ANTILIA (from Ruysch’s Map of the World, 1508)                    418



                      ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT.

   THE GOLDEN CITY PASSING THE SEAL ROCKS                            177

   VOLCAN DE AGUA AND VOLCAN DE FUEGO                                200

   APPROACH TO UTATLAN                                               227

   INDIAN STATUE, OCOSINGO                                           264

   INDIAN STATUE, PALENQUE                                           311

   ENTRANCE TO THE CASA DE LAS MONJAS                                348

  NOTE.—The illustration of the Serpent Emblem in the Casa de las
  Monjas is reproduced from a large photograph taken at Uxmal by
  William D. James, Esq. It will be observed that the details of
  the sculpture of the rattlesnake are very clearly defined.

  The illustrations marked † are from a series of valuable
  photographs, also taken at Uxmal, by Captain Herbert Dowding,
  Royal Navy, who placed at my disposal such of them as I
  considered to be required for the purposes of this work.

  I wish to call particular attention to the representation of
  that part of the Casa de las Monjas where the adjacent Temple
  of the Dwarf is seen. In comparing the structures with the
  pyramid, it has to be remembered that the Casa de las Monjas is
  placed upon a raised platform not less than seventeen feet in
  height. The Pyramid of the Dwarf is completely detached.

  Upon an examination of the frontispiece it will be noticed that
  the centre stone which, when I saw it lying on the ground at
  Palenque, was uninjured, is there shown in two portions which
  are kept in position by iron clamps.

  It was accidentally broken when being removed from Palenque to
  the museum in the City of Mexico.

  The left slab, upon which is graven the smaller figure, is from
  a photograph of a moulding made by M. Desiré Charnay. The right
  slab is from a photograph of the original stone now placed in
  the museum at Washington, and which was represented in the
  Memoir upon the Palenque Tablet written by Professor Rau, and
  published by the Smithsonian Institution. The photographs of
  the right and left slabs have been reduced to the size of that
  of the centre, and thus an exact reproduction of the whole of
  the Tablet of the Cross has been obtained. The representation
  in the frontispiece is, approximately, upon the scale of one
  inch to the foot and is therefore a twelfth of the size of the
  original tablet when it was in its position within the temple.

  The illustrations of Indians are from photographs collected by
  me during my travels and were selected as being typical of the
  respective tribes. My small sketch of the entrance to the Casa
  de las Monjas at Uxmal is drawn to scale, and the character of
  the Indian horizontal arch is delineated in its architectural


                              CHAPTER I.

  New York. — Mr. Grinnell. — Search for Sir John Franklin. —
  Southern States. — The Negroes and their prospects. — Naval
  Academy at Annapolis. — Military Academy at West Point. —
  Shakers. — Boston. — Professor Agassiz. — Prairies and Glacial
  Action. — Coral Reefs in Florida. — Mr. Ticknor. — Shell Mounds
  in Florida. — Schools. — Dr. Howe’s Institution for the Blind.—
  Laura Bridgman.

Upon my return to England, after having completed several years of
foreign service, I obtained permission from the Admiralty to proceed
upon a journey into North and Central America.

There were certain subjects that I particularly wished to examine,
especially those that were connected with the mounds or earthworks in
the valley of the Ohio, and the ruined temples of the southern regions
of Mexico and Guatemala. In the lands inhabited, at the time of the
Spanish Conquest, by Indian tribes who had reached a singular form
of civilisation, the origin of which has not yet been traced, it is
probable that some discovery will be made which will throw light upon
the manner in which their knowledge was obtained.

The problems which have yet to be solved with respect to the ruins
at Palenque, and in Yucatan, have a fascination for those who are
interested in the endeavour to seek an explanation of the strange
events that must have happened amongst the Indians who inhabited that
part of the world. It is possible that evidences may be found which
will lead to the conclusion that at some period, not very remote, there
has been an introduction amongst the aboriginal races of influences
derived from Europe or Asia, and it is not unreasonable to expect that
when the hieroglyphs within the altars of Palenque are interpreted,
much that is now unintelligible will be made clear. The investigations
of Mr. Stephens, in 1840, together with the earlier reports of Del
Rio and Dupaix, directed attention to the extraordinary character of
the pyramids and stone structures that were found deserted and ruined
within the tropical lands and forests.

In the North the field of research has been carefully examined by
competent explorers, but, even in that region, there is much that is
open to theory or conjecture with regard to the purposes for which the
great earthworks in the interior of the Continent were raised. There is
also an almost complete absence of definite knowledge respecting the
race and subsequent migrations of the tribes that dwelt within those
embankments. The extensive shell heaps or kitchen middens found near
the seacoasts, have been partly excavated, and, judging from the
implements of bone and the weapons which they contain, it has been made
evident that the Indians must have had customs singularly corresponding
with those of the tribes who formed the shell mounds in Europe.

I had no theories to establish, but I expected to find that the tribes
in the West and North-West resembled the Manchu race I had seen in the
North of China, and that the Indians in Central America would show
traces of kindred with the Malays. I also thought that, in the ruined
temples, there would be seen architectural affinities with the Buddhist
monasteries in Upper Burmah and Cambodia. These were however only
surmises, and I was prepared to recognise that it would be necessary to
adopt other conclusions.

It was difficult to arrange for any decided plan of travel, but I
intended, in the first instance, to visit the Navy Yards and observe
what progress was being made with respect to ships and their armaments;
and then to proceed to those parts of America where the principal works
of the aboriginal tribes still remain. Finally, I hoped to be able to
cross the Continent and go down the Mexican and Guatemalan coasts, and
from one of the ports on the Western seaboard, cross Central America
from the Pacific to the Atlantic towards Yucatan. Such was the outline
of the direction that I proposed to follow, but which would be varied
or changed as circumstances might require.

We left Liverpool in the Samaria on the 15th of March, 1869, and
reached New York late in the evening of the 28th, after having
experienced a continuation of head winds and stormy weather, which
made our passage across the Atlantic long and tedious. My first care,
upon arrival, was to call upon Mr. Henry Grinnell,[1] whose exertions
and services in prosecuting, at his own expense, the search for Sir
John Franklin and the ships beset in the Arctic ice, are so well known.

In the year 1850 Lady Franklin sent her appeal to the President of the
United States, in which she urged the Americans, as a kindred people,
to help in the enterprise of rescuing our sailors from perishing from
cold and starvation in those Northern latitudes. The appeal was not
unanswered, but in consequence of the unavoidable delays incidental to
obtaining the sanction of Congress for the necessary expenditure, there
was much risk of the season becoming too advanced for reaching the
channels in time, and that, consequently, a whole year’s work would be
lost. It was then that Mr. Grinnell, a leading merchant and shipowner,
prepared and fitted out for Arctic service two of his own vessels.
These ships, respectively called the “Advance” and the “Rescue,” were
officered and manned by the Naval Department and reached the ice in
time to do useful work. The fate, however, of Sir John Franklin and his
crew was not ascertained, although traces of his winter quarters were

At Washington, I found that Congress was sitting. Political affairs
were in an unusually excited condition in consequence of the state of
things resulting from the Civil War and the admission of negroes to
the franchise. Soon after my arrival I attended the Levée of President
Grant, and in the evening dined with our Minister, Mr. Thornton, at the
Legation. Several members of the Diplomatic body were present, some of
whom I had previously met in Europe.

The question of the capacity of the negroes with respect to their
taking an equal share with the white citizens in the management of the
government policy occupied the attention of politicians. It was thought
impossible to foresee what would be the effect of the emancipation of
over three millions of slaves. It seemed certain that the Americans
would have eventually a complicated problem to deal with, presenting
grave difficulties.

From Washington I went into the Southern States. In the districts
where large numbers of slaves had been employed, the subject of their
education was being seriously considered, and schools were established
for the purpose of advancing the intelligence of the black children.
The ignorant and hopeful parents were speculating upon the brilliant
future that seemed to be opening before them. They had vague dreams
that some new and prosperous destiny was going to be granted to their
race. They thought that, as a result of freedom and education, their
children would become active and useful citizens, equal, if they had
fair opportunities, to those who had been their masters.

Such was the universal belief amongst the elders, and great will be the
disappointment amongst the children upon growing up into manhood to
discover, that, in obedience to an unexplained law, there seems to be a
limit to their power of reaching the standard of proficiency to which
they aspired.

I had seen the emancipated negroes in the islands of the West Indies,
and the extraordinary condition of Hayti when under the rule of the
black emperor Soulouque. It was therefore not possible to think that
there was any probability of these school children rising to an
equality with the white races around them. There was something almost
painful in listening to the faith of the fathers in the prospects of
their sons, and the earnest manner in which they spoke of their future
career, if they worked hard and did their best to deserve success.

After passing through the low-lying lands near the coast, which had
in previous years been cultivated by this race, I proceeded up the
Chesapeake Bay, and stopped at Annapolis for the purpose of looking
at the Naval Academy. The system of training officers for sea service
is, in many respects, radically different from that which is followed
in England. With regard to the comparative results it is difficult to
form an opinion. It is presumable that the English system is the best
for developing the naval capacity of English lads, and the regulations
carried out at Annapolis may be more suitable for the Americans. Both
schools succeed in producing efficient young officers.

The principle underlying the policy of the training system in England
is youth. It is thought that in order to make a good sailor, officer
or man, the future seaman must be entered when young, and thus begin
his sea life while he is still capable of being naturally accustomed to
the performance of his duties. In America and also with the maritime
powers on the European continent different conclusions are held. At
Annapolis the age for entry is between fourteen and sixteen, and as the
entries usually take place at the latest period, the age upon passing
out into sea service is about twenty. The preliminary training is
thoroughly carried out, and the Academy is exceptionally fortunate in
being situated on the shores of a large and well-sheltered bay where
there is room for practising the necessary gunnery exercises.

The Military Academy at West Point is placed in a very beautiful
situation. Nothing can be finer than the scenery at that part of
the Hudson river. The site has been well selected with regard to
the various requirements for training officers for general service,
with reference to drills, cavalry exercises, and topographical and
engineering studies. Professor Bartlett, to whom I had a letter of
introduction from Professor Henry, of the Smithsonian Institute, did
everything that was in his power to make my stay agreeable. I was also
much indebted to General Pitcher, the officer in command, who made me
acquainted with all the details of the system in operation.

The Cadets are chosen in the same manner as at Annapolis. Ten are
appointed annually by the President, and the remainder are usually
nominated by members of Congress from their respective states. Private
allowances are discouraged, and the Government make a grant of 500
dollars a year for each pupil, or the same allowance that is given to
the midshipmen at Annapolis. General Pitcher told me that about one
half of the candidates usually failed at the preliminary examination,
and that, upon the average, one-third of the remainder were rejected at
the succeeding examinations, a proportion of failures which corresponds
with that at the Naval Academy. They rise at five, clean their rooms,
place everything in order, attend early drills, and are constantly
at work throughout the day. The series of drills and studies is very
continuous, and there is only just sufficient time allowed for meals,
and very little time for recreation. The average age of the lads
is over twenty-one; the term is for four years. Many distinguished
officers have graduated here and habits of self-reliance are strictly
enforced. The principle which governs the system which is maintained
during the earlier part of the training is that of accustoming each
cadet to be independent of help.

In proceeding from West Point, I visited the Shakers at their
settlements, near the village of Lebanon. I was received by their chief
Elder, a man named Evans, who, by his energy and firmness of will, had
obtained much personal influence over the community. The Shakers had
been successful in securing for themselves a considerable degree of
financial prosperity which was the result of their economy and industry.

Evans was acquainted with the scheme of life contemplated by Mr.
Harris, near Brocton. The community established there had been joined
by Mr. Laurence Oliphant,[2] and I was interested in hearing the
opinions of the Shakers about them. Evans thought that they could not
long keep together, because marriage was permitted amongst its members.
Marriage, he said, meant personal property and where that existed a
communistic society could not succeed.

A few days after arriving at Boston, I dined with Mr. Charles Francis
Adams, who had for many years been the United States Minister in
England. I had met him frequently at the house of Sir Charles Lyell in
London. The conversation turned chiefly upon the conduct of the troops
in the Civil War,[3] all the details of which were eagerly discussed.

An officer present, who had commanded a brigade with distinction
throughout the campaign, gave us some information with regard to the
behaviour of the troops of the Northern army under fire, from the point
of view of their respective nationalities. Of the negroes he spoke
highly from personal knowledge, for during a part of his service, a
regiment of those troops was placed under his command. He said that
they were not intelligent, but were easily disciplined and controlled.
They were found to be useful in covering an assault as they did not
appear to be shaken in their courage or firmness by any great slaughter
in their ranks.

The Germans were expected to be cool and phlegmatic, but it was found
that they were excitable and easily startled and unsettled. The Irish
were always ready to fight, but they were soon depressed by any
reverses. The Americans were excellent as cavalry, as infantry they
were steady and deliberate.

I mentioned that, at West Point, I had met General Vogdes, who had
commanded a negro regiment, and that he considered his men to have
proved that they were reliable and obedient, and capable upon occasions
of showing that they were not wanting in daring. In the operations
around Nashville, a great proportion of the losses in the army fell
upon the coloured troops in consequence, as the general commanding
reported, of the brilliant manner in which they charged the enemy’s
earthworks. This kind of dashing courage on the part of negroes, who
had been bred in slavery, was surprising. I was deeply interested in
hearing the details of the war, particularly such of them as related to
the conduct of the black troops when under fire.

I had seen in the South, the emotional side of the character of the
American born negroes, as shown in their political meetings and their
religious services, but I had not been previously aware that these
apparently lethargic people had by nature, the capacity for becoming
brave and impulsive soldiers. It is obvious that they felt they were
fighting for freedom, and for the emancipation of their wives and
children, the most powerful incentives that could stimulate their
actions. They were ready and willing to face the risk of death in order
to obtain that freedom which, to those that have it not, must be the
most coveted prize that this world can give.

One afternoon I went to Cambridge for the purpose of meeting Mr.
Bartlett, a partner in the publishing firm of Messrs. Little and Brown.
I was indebted to him for many kind acts in assisting me in visiting
the museums, and we had arranged to go to the Harvard University
together, in order to have an interview with Professor Agassiz, who
had returned from Florida, where he had been engaged in the examination
of the coral reefs.

After looking at the extensive collection of corals and shells which
had been placed in the Museum, we walked across the college grounds
to the Professor’s house. I delivered my letter of introduction, and
was received with great courtesy. Agassiz for some time talked about
his varied experiences in many parts of the world and his recent
researches, but upon hearing that I was going to visit the prairies in
the North-west, he showed much interest in the details of the journey
that I proposed to take.

He said that he had been in many parts of those prairies, and had made
several careful investigations with the object of establishing certain
facts with regard to their formation, and had come to the conclusion
that they were caused by glacial action. He thought that the theory
that they were once sea beaches was erroneous, for he was convinced
that the sea had never been in those regions. He also spoke about the
consequences of the habits of the numerous herds of buffaloes that had
roamed, in remote times, over those lands and had made their wallows
there. These shallow depressions collected large quantities of water,
and influenced the manner in which many of the streams originated.

After having drawn my attention to the chief objects of geological
interest that might possibly come within my notice in the region to the
south of Lake Superior, Agassiz mentioned his work in Florida. He had
given much consideration to the outlying banks fringing the southern
coasts of that promontory. The facts he had established were not in
accordance with the views of Darwin and Lyell. “If,” he said, “the
Pacific formations were as described by Darwin and others, those on
the coast of Florida were entirely different. In no way could Darwin’s
theory explain the Florida formations.” He had ascertained that the
corals grew up from great depths, for he had dredged to a depth of
eight hundred fathoms and had brought up live corallines; thus proving
that they existed and worked in very deep waters. It was his opinion
that Darwin’s coral theories had not had a sufficient study of evidence
given to them.

In the evening, at Mr. Ticknor’s house, there were present at dinner
Commodore Rogers, Superintendent of the Navy Yard; Mr. Francis
Parkman, author of several historical works relating to the early
European settlements in North America; Mr. Hillard, also an author of
considerable reputation, and Mr. Frank Parker. Mr. Ticknor[4] told us
anecdotes of his travels in Europe soon after the restoration of Louis
XVIII. He had known many of the celebrities of that time, and spoke of
Sir Walter Scott, Sir Humphrey Davy, Mrs. Siddons, Lord and Lady Byron,
Talleyrand, Madame de Stael and Madame Récamier.

There was a long discussion upon the uncertain future of the republic.
It seemed to be considered that as America became more populated, it
was much to be feared that universal suffrage, freedom and equality
of race, would lead to disorder. Mr. Ticknor mentioned that Prince
Metternich, when speaking to him about this subject, remarked that
there was a great difference between old Austria and America. In
Austria he had always to look out for mischief and prepare to meet
it or contrive a remedy. In America, he said, a mischief, if it
exists, takes time and grows until it gradually forces itself upon the
attention of the people. Finally, if it becomes alarming, the mass
deals with it and arrests its progress as it best can, and then things
go on as before.

Professor Jeffries Wyman,[5] who had discovered several extensive
shell banks on the eastern coasts of Florida, gave me, at his house at
Cambridge, an interesting account of his investigations. He thought
that the mounds were entirely formed by the refuse of the food eaten by
the tribes dwelling near the sea; but, whether by a large settlement
of tribes in a comparatively short time, or by a small tribe in a
long time, it was difficult to determine. Some of the banks were from
fourteen to twenty-five feet high. They varied in length from one
hundred to five hundred yards. On the tops of several of them he had
seen large trees, whose age he estimated to be not less than eight
hundred years. It did not appear that the mounds followed the outlines
of any particular plan of encampment, except in an instance where one
of the longest of them had the shape of an amphitheatre.

He also examined some fresh water shell heaps. These, he thought, were
made in the same manner as the sea shell mounds, by the Indians eating
the fish and piling up the shells. In all of them he had discovered
fragments of pottery and other marks of human life. The Professor
proposed that I should make an appointment with him in order to have a
thorough examination of his collection, not only from the shell heaps,
but also from the tumuli of the mound builders and other Indian tribes.
A day for this purpose was accordingly fixed. In the meanwhile my time
was occupied in visiting the public schools: Mr. Frank Parker, who was
interested in educational work, usually went with me.

From a national point of view it was considered of great importance
that the children of the emigrants should receive a sound education
so as to enable them to become useful and self-respecting citizens.
The majority of the parents upon their arrival at New York or Boston,
do not attempt to seek their fortunes away in the West, but settle in
those quarters of these cities where they find that others of their
race are already established. The elder members of the emigrating
families are quite aware that their age or other circumstances
practically debar them from all hope of success in any attempts to
gain a livelihood by their own work. Thus their attention is directed
to the training of their children, so that these may have a fair start
in life. For this purpose, the free and thoroughly practical system of
education carried out in the schools seems to be excellent.

It is needless to dwell upon the methods adopted in American cities
for raising the standard of knowledge among the boys and girls of the
poorer classes, for they are well known. Nothing can be more pleasing
than to observe the development of the minds of these young wanderers
from other lands, where their fate was adverse and their lives were
without hope. They appear to seize with eagerness the chances that are
given them to attain, by their own intelligence, higher and more secure
positions, and thus break away from the discouraging conditions into
which they were born. The construction and size of the school buildings
were well adapted for their purpose. The health and attention of the
students are, therefore, not affected by close confinement or the
insufficiency of pure air.

There was an institution in Boston, devoted to the work of teaching
the blind, which had an especial interest of its own, and I was
therefore glad to accept Dr. Howe’s invitation to dine with him and
then see Laura Bridgman,[6] the blind girl, whose education had been so
successfully managed, and whose history had, for many years, attracted

After dinner Laura came into the room. I noticed that she was of
average height and looked thin, pale and delicate. She had a shy and
peculiar manner. Mrs. Howe placed herself in communication with her,
and Laura immediately became more assured. When I was introduced she
expressed, by the movements of her fingers, that she was much pleased
to have my companionship. I asked if she wished to inquire about any
English friends? She replied, “Yes. Do you know Dickens, how is he?”
Then suddenly, before I had made any answer, she felt Mrs. Howe’s
sleeve and said, “You have a new dress,” and named the material—a
sort of French silk. Mrs. Howe said that the guess was correct. She
then became more animated and bright, but showed a singularly quick
impatience when wanting Mrs. Howe to listen to her. When not occupied
in maintaining a conversation she became quiet and looked sad.

Mrs. Howe asked in what way she amused herself and what was her
greatest pleasure. She replied, “reading.” “What reading do you like
best?” To this question Laura replied, “Bible, hymns and psalms.” Mrs.
Howe turned round to me and said this answer was very curious as Dr.
Howe had brought her up without any religious training, because he did
not wish to give her mind any especial bent in that matter; but owing,
it was supposed, to the influence and teaching of some friend, she had
been made acquainted with the Bible and had become intensely attached
to it.

It was said that Laura was able to articulate two words—“Doctor” and
“Grandmother”—and I asked her to say them. “Doctor,” was pronounced in
a distinct manner giving the sound “Dok-tá.” The word “Grandmother”
was not so clearly spoken and she gave the sound very rapidly. It
was however sufficiently expressed to be understood. I was told that
these words had in some manner been learnt by feeling the throats of
other people who pronounced them, and finding that certain expansions
of the muscles occurred when the sounds were made. She conversed by
holding out one hand and moving the fingers. Mrs. Howe held her wrist
and communicated her remarks by touch upon it. In this manner an
intelligent conversation was carried on. Laura evidently enjoyed the
excitement caused by this interchange of ideas, for when thus engaged
she looked very happy.

She was blind, deaf and dumb.

                              CHAPTER II.

  Professor Wyman. — Indian Antiquities. — Concord. — Mr. Ralph
  Waldo Emerson. — Margaret Fuller. — Note upon a visit to Mr.
  Longfellow. — Saturday Club. — Dinner at Harvard University.—
  Shell Mounds at Concord and Damariscotta. — Note upon the
  Ancient Inscription upon the Dighton Rock.

Upon the day arranged for my visit to Cambridge, I found Professor
Wyman prepared to employ several hours in examining the Indian
collections. He proposed that we should begin by looking carefully over
the contents of a case within which was placed everything that had been
discovered in a burial mound in Illinois. The mound had contained the
bones of nine adults, several fragments of rude stone implements, and
some arrowheads. The skulls had been flattened and shaped by pressure.

We then examined the collections of human skulls that had been received
from all parts of the continent. Amongst these, were several of an
important character, obtained by Mr. Squier in Central America. They
were long and flattened upon the top, and were supposed to have
belonged to the race that built the stone temples in Yucatan. Other
groups were then compared. It was observable that some tribes had the
custom of pressing in the back of the head to such an extent as to make
it nearly perpendicular. Others pressed the skulls so as to give them
great length. In a few instances, they were given a tall, oval form.
The Californian Indians appear to have given their children a high,
receding forehead. This method of shaping the head is still followed by
the Flathead Indians in the West. It is done by the pressure of boards
tied together in such a manner that the infant gets its skull shaped
when it is in the cradle.

A question arose as to the effect of the artificial shapes of the
head upon the character of the tribes; and particularly, whether, in
accordance with certain theories, there was any known difference in
disposition between the tribes who flattened the forehead and those who
flattened the skull at the back. The Professor said that the matter
had been the subject of inquiry. It was considered, as far as could
be ascertained, that the alterations in shape made no difference in
the character, and that the Indians, whether with long, high, or flat
heads, were similar in their savage nature.

Amongst the Mexican antiquities were a number of terra-cotta figures
which were thought to be emblematic of the worship of serpents,
lizards, and other reptiles. There were also idols carved out of
hard, volcanic stone. After having seen these, and also quantities of
rudely shaped stones, which were probably used by the Indians on the
north-east coast for sinking their nets, the Professor began to examine
the various things that had been taken from the American shell mounds.

First, in order, were the collections that had been brought from Maine
and Massachusetts. There were oyster shells, the bones of wolves, deer
and birds, fragments of coarse pottery, layers of charcoal, and bone
awls. In the shell heaps at Concord there had been discovered various
stone weapons and flint arrowheads. In the Florida mounds there were
found the remains of crocodiles, implements made of stone, the bones of
deer, and numbers of small sharp needles, made from bird bones, which
had been used by hand.

It appears from the evidence obtained by the investigation of the
shell banks, that tribes of similar habits dwelt on the cold coasts
of New England and the almost tropical shores of Florida. It is also
clear, that in many of their customs and methods of obtaining food they
resembled the races that formed the kitchen middens in Denmark. Their
stone and flint implements and their bone awls and needles were of the
same shapes as those used by the prehistoric people who lived upon the
shores of the Swiss lakes.

Many of the stone axes and arrowheads that have been found in
the burial mounds, or in the neighbourhood of the ancient Indian
encampments in North America are of the same type, and show the same
system of workmanship as those that were made by the aboriginal tribes
in Western Europe. The similarities in form, size and methods of
adaptation for use are remarkable, for, although it may be expected
that men, in an uncivilised condition would, in all parts of the
world, have the same wants or necessities, yet it must be considered
surprising that in the construction of the implements for war and for
domestic purposes, the methods of design should be so singularly alike
amongst the savages of the old and new continents.

Upon a subsequent occasion, when the doubtful question of the influence
of the formation of the skull upon the mind was discussed, Mr. Ticknor
mentioned the singular fact that the head of Daniel Webster[7] grew
larger after he had passed middle age. His attention had been drawn
to this circumstance by observing a change in the likeness of that
statesman, and, as he knew Webster intimately, he asked him about
the matter, and Webster said, “Yes, I find that I have constantly to
increase the size of my hats.”

Towards the latter part of my stay in Boston, I received a letter from
Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson, asking me to dine with him at Concord, and
mentioning that he had also invited Mrs. Julia Ward Howe. Upon the day
he had fixed for the purpose, we travelled down to the station, and
were met by Miss Emerson, who drove us home in her quaint old-fashioned
carriage. The pony, she told us, was a friend who had been in the
family for twenty years. We were received by Mr. and Mrs. Emerson. A
few other guests came from Cambridge, and then we went in to dinner.
Mr. Emerson talked much of De Quincey, whom he had known at Lasswade,
near Edinburgh, and then referring to our English poets, mentioned
with admiration, Tennyson’s poem, “Tithonus.” One of his daughters
spoke with enthusiasm about Professor Agassiz’s deep sea dredgings, the
lectures upon which she had been attending.

Finally, the (always) absorbing topic of American politics was dwelt
upon, especially with respect to the effect of democratic institutions
upon the character of the people. Mr. Emerson alluded with much sadness
to those evil influences of political corruption and office-seeking
which appeared to be inevitable blots upon all systems of democracy,
but he said that he thought things would come right in the end. Upon
the various occasions that I met and conversed with leading politicians
(amongst whom was Chief Justice Chase), I observed that they usually
spoke of the future of their country with the same anxiety.

There was much doubt and uncertainty as to what was going to happen
in the Southern States, which had so recently been made desolate.
Men’s minds were still agitated by the memory of the serious events
that had happened during the Civil War. That great national convulsion
had engaged the thoughts and actions of all American citizens to the
fullest extent, and had necessarily diverted the conduct of affairs
from the ordinary channels. There was consequently a feeling of
disquietude amongst those who loved their country, their freedom and
their laws. But this temporary form of misgiving was always accompanied
by the firm conviction that in some manner, not then quite clear, the
nation would ultimately triumph over all difficulties.

After dinner, Mr. Emerson took me into the library, and began to look
over his books and point out his favourites. He said that what he most
delighted in were the translations from Persian and other Eastern
works. Finding that I was interested in his Oriental studies, he did
not care to quit his books, and so we remained in the library until it
was time to leave. In the meanwhile, he had taken down from the shelves
many volumes. He also showed me photographs of his friends, and drew my
attention to a likeness of Margaret Fuller, whom he had known for many
years, and for whom he had felt great regard and esteem.

Margaret Fuller, who must have been a woman of extraordinary
genius, was one of the leaders of the school of thought called
Transcendentalism. Her end was as strange as her life. She crossed
the Atlantic, travelled in Italy, married the Marchese d’Ossoli and
was in Europe when the Revolution of 1848 broke out. Her sympathies
being entirely with the cause of Italian freedom, she took a prominent
part, under the direction of Mazzini, Garibaldi and other patriots, in
the defence of Rome, doing much good service in the hospitals. After
the adverse events of 1849, she embarked with her husband on board a
sailing vessel bound for her own land, on the shores of which she was
wrecked in a storm and all perished.

Before we went away, Mr. Emerson suggested that I should look at the
exterior of the house, in which he seemed to take great interest. He
told me that he had lived in it thirty-five years and had only made one
change—the addition of the drawing room. It was an unpretending plank
building of two stories, standing in its own small grounds, and was
chiefly noticeable in consequence of having some fine chestnut trees in
front between the door and the road.

Upon our return to the city, the President of the University asked me
to be the guest of the Alumni of Harvard. His letter ran thus:—

                                                          “_June_ 23.”


  “On behalf of the Alumni of Harvard College, I invite you to be
  present at the Commencement Dinner in Harvard Hall, Cambridge,
  on Tuesday, the 29th inst. The Alumni and their guests will
  assemble in Gore Hall, the Library, at 2 p.m. on that day. I
  hope to receive your acceptance, and to have the pleasure of
  meeting you on the occasion.”

                          “Very respectfully yours,
                                                WM. GRAY,
                                            _Pres. of Alumni Assoc._”

At one of the customary afternoon meetings of the members of the
Saturday Club, I dined with them as the guest of Dr. Howe. Among
those present were Mr. Sumner, Professor Wyman, Mr. Lowell, Judge
Hoar, Mr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Professor Gurney, the editor
of the North American Review. Mr. Emerson was the chairman. The
possibility of spontaneous generation, was the topic that happened to
be chiefly discussed. Professor Wyman had been carrying out a series of
experiments at Cambridge, and he told us what had been the results of
his experience. He said that he had ascertained that the theory that
boiling water killed life was, to a certain extent, erroneous. A first
boiling killed some of the living creatures, a second boiling killed
more, living organisms being reduced gradually in quantity. After a
fourth severe boiling he failed to trace any life whatever. Finally
after having carried out with great care, tests of all natures, he
doubted the possibility of creating life where no life had previously

  In the following year I accepted the invitation of Mr. Ticknor
  to stay a few days with him before leaving America, and I was
  fortunate in meeting at his house, Mr. Longfellow, who, at
  the time of my previous visit to Boston, was away from home,
  travelling in England, chiefly, as he afterwards told me,
  amongst the English lakes and in Devonshire. He proposed that
  I should go and see him at Cambridge, and this was arranged,
  and I went down there upon the first available day. I found
  him in his study, a small room looking out upon the lawn, and
  commanding a view of the country towards the bridge.

  Before dinner, he showed me a bill of fare which had been
  given to him at a public banquet in London, which was framed
  and placed on the mantel piece of the dining-room. It was
  a coloured drawing of a scene described in his poem of
  “Hiawatha.” The sun was shining on the still waters of a
  lake, or inland sea, and a group of Indians were gazing at
  it. I think it was meant to represent the final departure of
  Hiawatha, westwards towards the sunset.

  Mr. Longfellow said that he was much pleased with this mark of
  attention, not only on account of the merit of the picture, but
  because he appreciated the feeling that prompted the gift, as
  “Hiawatha” was the poem by which he most cared to be remembered.

  He expressed strong sympathies with the poetical legends and
  traditions of the Iroquois and Dakota Indians. His conversation
  was, however, chiefly directed to the question of the future
  social and political condition of the negroes in the Southern

Later in the day, I witnessed a most important triumph of mechanics,
as applied to the removal of a heavy building. The house that was
being moved was large and strongly constructed of stone. It stood at
the corner of a street which was about to be widened, and therefore it
was necessary, either to pull it down or place it in another position,
and it had been decided to execute the latter operation. The building
had a frontage of seventy feet and a depth of one hundred feet. It was
composed of a basement, five principal stories and a Mansard roof.
The engineer in charge of the works told me that his calculations
were based upon having to move a weight of fifty thousand tons. At
the time I saw the house, it was full of residents, many of whom were
looking out of the windows and watching the proceedings. The contractor
permitted me to go underneath and observe the process of moving. The
weight was taken by a vast number of screw jacks, and the building was
lifted off the foundations. It was progressing towards its new site at
the rate of fourteen inches in one hour.

On Commencement Day I went down to Cambridge early in the afternoon,
and after being received by the President, fell into my place in the
ranks of the procession formed in the college grounds. We then marched
into dinner and I took my seat at the table. My immediate neighbours
were Mr. Lowell, Mr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Judge Hoar and Judge Grey.
About six hundred were present in the hall and three hundred dined in
another room. The gradations of age corresponded with the positions of
the tables. The seats towards the left were occupied by comparatively
young men, but on the right, were successive rows of heads, showing
advancing years, until upon the extreme right were the white haired

At the conclusion of the dinner, in accordance with an ancient custom,
all stood up and sang a Psalm to the tune known by the name of St.
Martin. The President then gave his annual address and the usual
speeches followed. Mr. Adams made a good speech and referred to his
late absence as the United States Minister to Great Britain. The
President then rose and told the Alumni that a “representative of Great
Britain” was present and called upon me to respond. This I did as
briefly as possible, and upon resuming my seat I was astonished at the
enthusiastic manner with which the said representative was received.
After much cheering, the band played “God save the Queen,” which was
again the occasion for a strong outburst of cordial good feeling
towards England. As I looked down the hall I saw the slight, tall form
of Mr. Emerson bending forward as he joined in our National Anthem. Mr.
Holmes then recited a poem and Mr. Lowell gave a speech in which he
alluded to the question of the Alabama which was causing such bitter
feeling in America, and after speaking of the volcanic ground into
which he had wandered, said

    “O matre pulchra filia pulchrior,
    Pout if you will, but sulk not into war.
    Had Adams stayed, this danger had not been,
    This less than kindness of two more than kin.”

The singing of “Auld Lang Syne” was the fitting conclusion to an
interesting day.

Professor Wyman told me that, before leaving the States, I ought to
visit the shell mounds at Damariscotta in Maine and also those near
Concord. The latter were considered to be remarkable on account of
their being composed of fresh-water shells. Mr. Emerson had offered to
help me in my examination of them, but not wishing to occupy his time
in this unusual manner, I went down to Concord and tried to find them
by myself. In this attempt I failed, and, finally, I decided to obtain
his help. Fortunately, he was at home and at once put the harness on
his pony and drove me down to the place. We crossed some fields and
found the shell heaps near a sharp bend of the river. They were about a
hundred and fifty yards long, twenty yards wide and twelve feet high,
and were chiefly composed of mussel shells. For more than an hour we
worked zealously and made slight excavations at different parts of the
banks, and found some fragments of bones which had been shaped by hand,
but we were not successful in seeing any stone celts. We then went to
an adjoining hillock upon which the Indians were accustomed to encamp
and there we picked up three rudely-made arrow heads which had been
formed out of hard porphyritic stone.

After finishing the inspection of the middens, we went back to the
house, and remained for an hour or two in the library where we had tea.
Mr. Emerson told me that in order to pass through, with comparative
comfort, the long winter, he and others had formed a society of
twenty-five members and arrangements were made for meeting at their
respective houses. Each member gave a reception in turn upon Tuesdays.
When the time was at hand for going to the train he went to the stable,
and again harnessed the pony, and drove me to the station. When saying
“Good-bye,” he expressed many kind wishes with regard to my projected

Americans must naturally feel interested in whatever relates to the
past history of the native races who were the original inhabitants of
their country, and who possessed, in combination with their savage
nature and cruel practices, certain qualities of honour and fortitude
which seem to point to the existence of latent conditions of mind
placing them upon a different footing from other ordinary savage races.
Theories which relate to the migrations of the tribes who entered
Mexico from the North have also much attraction. As years roll onwards,
and the events, that then occurred, are more distant or obscure, the
causes of those movements and the origin of the influences that created
the subsequent advance in civilisation amongst those Indians are
becoming almost incomprehensible.

On the way from Concord towards Canada I stopped at Portsmouth for
the purpose of seeing the Navy Yard,[8] which was the last naval
establishment that I had to visit on the eastern coast, and then
proceeded to the remotely situated village of Damariscotta.

The shell mounds near the adjacent river far exceeded in magnitude
what I had expected to find. They were placed about twelve miles from
the sea within the limits of the ebb and the flow of the tides, and
formed the banks of a small promontory round which the river made a
sharp bend. Within these banks was a flat space of land which had been
used by the Indians for their camping ground, and which is known to
have been visited by small bands of them as late as the end of the last
century. The heaps extend along the shores of the river and round the
promontory for a length of about six hundred yards, and vary in height
from fifteen to thirty-five feet. It was difficult to estimate their
average width, but in many places it was not less than twenty-two yards.

The mound that I chiefly examined rose directly from the beach close to
the line of the present high water mark. It was thirty-three feet high,
sixty feet wide and one hundred and fifty feet long. Looking from the
river, it presented the appearance of a steep cliff formed of compact
layers of large oyster shells. In consequence of the face of this cliff
being exposed, it was possible to trace all the horizontal strata.
Beginning from the top of the bank there was, in the first place, a
deposit of shells closely packed about eighteen inches thick. Then
there was a well-defined layer of earth or mould, averaging a thickness
of half-an-inch throughout the whole length of the bank without any
break or change in its width. The next layer was not so deep as that on
the top, and was one foot thick. Then came another deposit of mould,
half-an-inch in thickness, resting upon another layer of shells. In
this manner, the alternating deposits of earth and shells succeeded
each other down to the base.

There were not any signs of kitchen midden refuse amongst the shells,
but in the intermediate layers of earth I saw fragments of broken
pottery, charred wood, several rounded stones, small quantities of
bones of animals, and one bone awl which had evidently been much used.
A portion of the cliff which had been undermined by the action of the
river had slipped down upon the beach, consequently the interior of the
mound was exposed. I made an excavation into this new face and found a
stone knife, or scraper, and a small stone chisel. In another part of
the bank I discovered a plank lying flat upon the third layer of mould
below the surface. It was made of fir, and was four feet six inches
long, six inches wide and half-an-inch thick.

These shell heaps, the relics of the feasts and food of the Indians,
although interesting as evidences of the habits of life of the savage
races that once occupied this part of America, prove but little more
than the fact that those races have existed and passed away. The
successive layers of earth in the heaps would enable an estimate to be
made of their age, if the length of the intervals of time that elapsed
between the encampments could be known. The saw-cut plank, resting upon
the third layer is an evidence that the two upper deposits of shells
were made since the arrival of the English colonists. The Indians then
dwelling on these lands were called the Abenakis. These oyster heaps
may have been raised by them when they visited the coast of Maine after
leaving their hunting grounds.[9]

                             CHAPTER III.

  Indian Reservations. — Lake Superior. — Beavers and their
  works. — The Forest. — Houghton. — Ancient Indian mining pits
  and trenches. — An Indian battle ground. — The Glacial Drift. —
  Note regarding the Dauphin.

From Damariscotta I went up the valley of the St. Lawrence, and visited
the reservation lands of the Algonquins, Hurons, and other tribes
that had originally held possession of that part of the country. The
most important assemblage of Indians was placed upon a large tract
of land near the banks of the Grand river in Upper Canada. There I
saw, dwelling in their separate villages, the descendants of the once
powerful confederacy of the Iroquois, who had been our faithful allies
in our wars.

Nearly three thousand Indians were gathered together belonging to
the tribes of the Senecas, Onondagas, Mohawks, Cayugas, Oneidas and
Tuscaroras. Some of them had been converted, but many still maintained
their ancient faiths and performed their customary Pagan ceremonies.

It was extraordinary to observe how unavailing had been the influence
of European civilisation in advancing the intellectual capacities of
the tribes. The French missionaries at Lorette, Oka, and St. Régis,
many of whom were well acquainted with the language of the converts
put under their care, told me that all their efforts were useless, and
that the labours of nearly three centuries were absolutely without any
practical result.

After having passed a few weeks in the vicinity of the lakes, for the
purpose of seeing the condition of various remnants of certain North
American Indian tribes placed upon reservations, I reached the shores
of the Georgian bay, and then proceeded to the port of Marquette in

[Illustration: Plan of the Lake Superior Iron and Copper region.]

My chief object in landing upon the southern shores of Lake Superior,
was to visit the places where ancient Indian mining operations had
been discovered, in order that I might be, in some degree conversant
with matters relating to the origin of the copper ornaments that had
been found in some of the burial mounds in Ohio. I also wished to make
some excursions into the forests where, amongst the numerous lakes and
rivers, the beavers were still constructing their dams and building
their lodges. I desired to see something of beaver life and work before
the advance of civilisation had removed these forests and beavers away
for ever.

I obtained convenient quarters in the mining village of Ishpeming,
placed in a clearing that had been made in the forest, on the summit of
the hills ten miles from the coast. In the interior, within a few miles
from the settlement were two rivers called the Carp and the Esconauba.
Upon these streams and their connected ponds, the works of the beavers
were numerous. They consisted of lodges, dams, canals, excavations, and
the open spaces in the forests called beaver meadows.

There happened to be an unusually large work constructed across one of
the principal bends of the Carp, which by its action in confining the
waters had created a small lake. As the size and formation of that dam
give a good knowledge of the capacity of the beavers, and their powers
of executing works of considerable magnitude, it will be interesting to
describe it with some detail.

It was two hundred and sixty-two feet in length and nearly six feet
high in the centre, where the water was deep. This height diminished
gradually towards the banks. The average width upon the top was two
feet. The slope outwards was in the direction of the angle which
happened to give the utmost resisting power. The base was about
fourteen feet wide. The dam was not made in a direct line across the
stream, but had curves which were convex towards the current, and were
placed at the points of the greatest pressure. The slopes were formed
in such a manner that the upper side acted as a barrier against the
water, and the opposite side acted as a supporting buttress.


The entire construction was evidently made with a correct knowledge
of the strength that was necessary to resist the outward pushing
force that was exerted against it. When an engineering work of this
nature, so great in proportion to the power and intelligence of
its constructors, is examined, and its fitness for the object for
which it has been made and for the duty it has to perform, has been
ascertained, it occurs to the mind to consider whether such operations
are the results of instinct or of some exceptional degree of reasoning

Within the pond was the lodge. It was placed near to the bank which by
its curve gave the most shelter. It was shaped like a rounded beehive
and measured nearly eight feet in diameter, and twenty-two feet over
the outer circumference. The exterior was composed of small sticks cut
in nearly equal lengths, and so intertwined, crossed and plastered with
mud as to give great cohesion.

There were three entrances, two of them leading in the direction of the
bank, and one towards the middle of the pond. The former are said to be
used as the approaches to the inner room, and the latter for escape.
All these entrances were below the surface of the water, and ran
upwards into the dwelling room which was a dry comfortable apartment,
the floor being well above the highest water level.

The beavers, when cutting the branches of the trees into the requisite
lengths, seem to have an accurate perception of what is necessary for
the special works that are then in progress. Thus in their lodges,
which are chiefly made for shelter and warmth, the sticks composing
them are small, and when well plastered together with mud make a
good compact residence. The dams which have a different purpose are
differently built, and in these the sticks are often of considerable
size, being sometimes fully six feet long. Some of the cuttings,
however, are small and many of them are like short poles, having a
diameter about the size of a man’s arm.

The methods of forming the foundations of their dams are most
practical, and the manner in which earth, stones, mud, twigs, fibres
and brushwood are combined, not only show marvellous ingenuity, but
prove that beavers work perseveringly together with incessant labour
for long periods of time.

The superstructures are differently made. They are composed of a
framework of sticks placed at various angles inclined upwards. This
open form of disposition appears to be intended to allow the surface
waters to escape to the extent that is necessary to keep the level of
the pond at the uniform height that is desirable.

Although it is usually considered that the intelligence of the beaver
communities is chiefly shown by their ability in raising works of
construction, I was informed by men who were intimately acquainted with
the habits of these animals, that a greater sagacity was displayed
in the methods adopted by them, under especial circumstances, for
maintaining communications between their dwelling places and the woods
from which they obtained their food and building materials.

These rare and singular works of excavation are called beaver canals.
One of these, which was the largest that was known to occur in this
part of Michigan, I examined with the utmost attention. It was an open
trench or channel, about half a mile long, two to three feet wide,
and from one to two feet deep. The bottom was of the same width as
the surface, the sides being perpendicular. It connected a large pond
with the adjacent forest. The canal was sufficiently large to give
room for a beaver to swim in it and push in front of him the cutting
of birchwood that was to be conveyed to the lodge and there stored for
the winter supply of food. The depth was enough for the purpose of

I also examined some other canals connecting the ponds with trees,
which were of a different character and much smaller. The Indians were
of opinion that these must have been made exclusively for escape when
the beavers, whilst at work, were suddenly alarmed.

But the most important results of the actions of the beavers are the
alterations made by them in the aspect of the country, in consequence
of their raising the levels of the water and causing large spaces of
land to be subject to overflow. Thus, when the dams are in order and
efficiently maintained, much of the adjoining land, when it lies low,
becomes a swamp and the trees decay and fall. Then if the works are
neglected and the waters follow their usual direction, the lands become
dry and are changed into fertile grass meadows. Some of these meadows
are of considerable extent. Around Ishpeming they supply the fodder
required for the cattle employed at the mines. One of them, which
occupies a large acreage, yields over fifty tons of hay annually.

An explorer who happened to pass through a region of this nature after
it had been deserted by the beavers, would be surprised, when following
the trail through the forest, to find himself entering into one of
these open spaces, which have the appearance of small savannahs, and he
would be unable to understand how such sharply defined inclosures could
have been formed.

Near the borders of the meadows and ponds, several birches were
undergoing the process of being felled. The operations were extremely
curious, and it was evident that the beavers are both careful and
ingenious in the execution of the work.

The trees selected for their purposes are generally about three or
four feet in circumference at the part that is within reach. The trunk
of each tree is, in the first place, gnawed evenly round, until only
a portion of the centre, about two inches in diameter, is left to
maintain it in an upright position. It is then carefully gnawed from
the direction towards which the tree is intended to fall, which is
often a matter of some importance. When it is lying upon the ground,
the bark is stripped and stored for food, the branches are cut into
the requisite lengths and used also partly for winter provision, but
chiefly with regard to what may be wanted for the construction and
repair of the dams and lodges.

Upon returning one afternoon from the River Carp, I found that, by some
inattention, I had left the track and had wandered into the forest. Men
who are accustomed to explore this region had stated that the safest
course to adopt when such an event occurred was to observe the position
of the marks of the weather upon the trunks of the trees. In Michigan,
it held been noticed that these evidences of exposure, consisting of
moss or lichen, were upon the Northern sides, and it was considered
that by watching these indications, a line of direction could be

It is possible that in places where the trees are much exposed this
system may be useful, but in this case I did not find it so.

The indications of weather were often very faint and difficult to
trace. Where they did clearly exist, they varied so greatly in
their position, that it was impossible to follow a straight line. I
consequently soon gave up the attempt to find the trail by this method.
Night was approaching, and the outlook was becoming grave. In all
directions but one, there was nothing but many miles of dense forest,
which it would be hopeless to attempt to pass through.

The direction which was available had a broad base, being the road
from Ishpeming to Marquette. This I knew must lie between south and
south-west. Consequently if I could follow a line between these points,
it was probable that the road would soon be reached, as its distance
was less than three miles. I had my watch with me, and fortunately,
the sun could be seen occasionally, so it was possible to make that my

Upon a rough calculation of the true bearing of the approaching
sunset, I found that by keeping the glimmer of the light on the right
hand, and walking steadily forward, the road ought to be reached before
dark. It was, however, anxious work and it was getting late when I
unexpectedly emerged into an open clearing, where a squatter had
temporarily settled. It was with no slight pleasure that I heard the
sounds of life, the lowing of cattle, and the welcome movements of a
busy farmyard.[10]

After concluding my expeditions to the lands and ponds of the beavers,
I went to that part of Michigan where the ancient mining pits and
trenches have been discovered. The earliest knowledge of them was
obtained by an American explorer who, in the year 1847, when seeking
for indications of metal ore, noticed several depressions in the
ground, and saw lying in a heap, near what seemed to be an ancient
excavation, a number of rude stone hammers that he thought had probably
been used by hand.

In the following year another excavation was discovered, and after
clearing this out to a depth of eighteen feet, there was found a
detached mass of copper weighing over six tons which rested upon oak
sleepers, and beneath it there was a vein of copper five feet thick.
There were also several stone hammers, grooved for the purpose of
having handles attached to them, and a copper chisel with a socket for
a wooden handle, a fragment of which although much decayed, was still
in its place. In an adjoining pit at a depth of ten feet, there was
a wooden bowl and some charcoal.[11] In some workings, subsequently
discovered upon Isle Royale and near the end of the Kee-wai-wona
promontory, a number of wooden wedges were seen, together with traces
of extensive trenches.

In consequence of these discoveries further investigations were
made, and a large number of ancient pits were found in the forests,
especially in the districts where are now placed the towns of Ontonagon
and Houghton. It was within a few miles from the latter town, that the
explorers observed the heap of stone hammers, and their attention was
directed to the fact that they had been preceded in the search for
copper by men of some unknown race, who possessed capacities for mining
operations greater than could be attributed to the Chippewas who then
occupied the land.

In order to examine this heap I engaged a man—who knew the mining and
forest region—to guide me to the spot where the hammers still remained.
After crossing the Portage Lake and passing over some low neighbouring
hills, we came to a depression in the ground which looked like an old
ditch or trench. At the side of this ditch, I saw several hundreds of
rounded water-worn stones of various sizes. These had evidently been
chosen on account of the convenience of their shape, for the purpose of
being used for crushing the rocks that contained metal.

A few of the stones appeared to have been partly shaped by hand,
but the majority of them were in their natural form. Several were
perforated by small round holes, caused probably by the action of
water. Some men who happened to be employed at one of the mines in the
neighbourhood, told me that in their opinion they had been made for
thumb holes. They were, however, much too small for such a purpose.

Upon my return to Houghton I met Mr. I. H. Forster, who was the agent
for mines and a Senator for the State. He proposed to accompany me to
the sites of those ancient workings that he had personally inspected.
After passing through a forest of birch and pine trees, we reached an
open space where we saw the evidences of the nature of the operations
that had been executed.

The direction of the trenches could be easily traced, although they
were filled with earth and leaves. Several of the pits had been cleared
out by the men employed at one of the new mines, and it was therefore
possible to go down to the bottom of them and observe the methods of
excavation. The first that I examined was twelve feet deep; from the
base there ran two nearly horizontal galleries or adits, following the
direction of the lode which ran N.W. and S.E. These adits were five
feet wide and extended laterally about six feet. Upon the surface, near
the edge of the pit, was the stump of a basswood tree, six feet in
circumference, and at the opposite edge was the stump of a pine, four
feet in circumference.

The second pit was twenty yards from the first, and had evidently been
sunk in the direction required in order to reach the same lode. It was
ten feet deep. From the base there was one adit following the direction
of the deposit of copper. Close to the edge of this pit was the stump
of a small birch tree. Beyond this were seven other pits, from twenty
to fifty yards apart, and in connection with these, there were several
short trenches from two to four feet wide.

The pits were discovered in 1865. Some animals were being driven along
a track in the forest, when one of them straying from the path, plunged
his feet deep into the ground; this was noticed, and an explorer for
copper examined the place and pushed his stick down it. This led to a
further search, and the hole was found to be an ancient pit. Shafts
were sunk, and the result has been, that, one of the most important
mines in the district was established near the spot.

Upon another occasion I went with Mr. Forster to look at the trenches
and pits that had been found in a more distant part of the forest.
These pits were smaller than those that I had previously seen, but the
trenches were frequently of considerable depth. I measured several that
exceeded six feet deep. These trenches were usually in short lengths,
but one of them was nearly two hundred feet long. Upon making inquiries
amongst the leading men of the various copper mines that have been
placed in the neighbourhood of the earlier workings, I was told that
the practical miners were of opinion that these excavations were of
considerable antiquity. It has, however, been proved by the condition
of the things that were found in the pits that these conjectures are
not well founded.

Near Ontonagon, to the south-west of Portage Lake, a line of trenches
was observed in 1863, and a shaft was sunk in a depression which was
considered to be an old pit. At a depth of nine feet, one of the
workmen drew out upon the point of his pickaxe, a small untanned
leather bag in a good state of preservation. It was noticed that the
mouth of the bag was traversed by a leather string, which was in its
place and could be used for drawing the opening together. The bag was
seven inches wide and eleven inches deep.

Two years afterwards, some men exploring the same part of the forest,
observed a small mound about six feet high. After digging through
it down to the ground, they reached the surface of a pit, which was
carefully excavated by them. At the top there was a deposit of sand;
below that, were many closely pressed layers of decayed leaves. At
the bottom of the pit they saw a birch bark basket, in all respects,
similar to those that are made and used by the modern Chippewas. Near
the basket they also found a bit of beaver or otter skin with the fur
upon it, portions of the jaw of a bear, several pieces of charcoal, a
beating block—fourteen inches square and three inches thick—made out
of a lump of copper conglomerate, some lengths of knotted strips of
buckskin, and a rough bit of wood about three feet long, which the
miners call a digging stick. A collection of these things had been
placed in an office at Houghton, where I saw them. I noticed that the
digging stick was worn and frayed at the end where it had been used,
and that the fur on the beaver skin was still in good condition.

In the same forest country as that where the pits were dug, several
copper spear heads have been picked up. Those examined by me were
unquestionably made by persons skilled in the working of metal.
Several of the members attached to the mission at Sault Ste. Marie,[12]
in the early part of the eighteenth century, made crosses and ornaments
from copper that was brought to them by Indians, who had found small
lumps of the metal on the surface of the ground. The spear heads may
have been made at the mission house.

After the cession of the Canadas to Great Britain in 1763, an English
Company was formed for the purpose of searching for metal in this
region. The operations were conducted by Mr. Alexander Henry, and it
has been ascertained that for several years he worked near Ontonagon,
and at other places upon the Kee-wai-wona promontory. Judging from the
method in which, at the ancient workings, the lodes of copper have
been traced through dense forests, it is evident that fixed plans of
operations must have been pursued, and I came to the conclusion that
the surveyor who directed them, must have had a competent knowledge of
the use of the compass. It is therefore not unreasonable to assume,
that all the pits and trenches were excavated under the superintendence
of Europeans, at some period later than the sixteenth century.

Several miles to the south of these works I was shown the spot
where the last and decisive battle was fought between the Chippewas
and Iroquois. This battle field, which was on a point of land near
Kee-wai-wona bay, was remarkable because it affords an instance of
the great distances that were sometimes traversed by Indians when
conducting their wars of extermination. The Iroquois whose territories
and villages were upon the southern shores of Lakes Ontario and Erie,
crossed into the Chippewa lands by the way of the channels leading to
Sault Ste. Marie. Therefore, supposing that they followed the most
direct line to the place where the battle was fought, they must have
passed over a distance of not less than six hundred miles.

One of the burial mounds which had been opened, contained a large
skull, a pipe made of dark slate and a stone hatchet. Upon the
top of the mound was a pine tree which measured thirty inches in
circumference. The scattered descendants of the Chippewa tribes dwell
in the districts to the west of Lake Superior, but they occasionally
wander into their original country. I met some of them near the shores
of that great inland sea.

During the time that I was travelling in these iron and copper regions,
I took the opportunity of accompanying the superintendent of one of the
mines to look at the evidences of the action of the glacial drift upon
the surfaces of the hills that had been cleared for the purpose of
executing some preliminary mining operations. Some of these hills were
composed of solid hematite iron and jasper, and yet these hard rocks
were deeply grooved by the pressure that had been exerted against them.

Near Ishpeming there was a low range of hills or knobs, whose formation
was a compact greenstone with wide veins of iron, which had been
subjected to a severe grinding, and was furrowed with grooves two feet
wide and five and a half inches deep. The general direction of this
range was from E.N.E. to W.S.W. and the action of pressure was greatest
where the sides of the hills faced towards the north. The grooves were
about nine hundred feet above the level of Lake Superior. Large erratic
boulders covered the surface of the land. I measured one of them which
was lying exposed in a depression between two conical hills, eight
hundred and fifty feet above the lake. It must have weighed over twenty
tons. The boulders were usually masses of basalt, black or red granite,
porphyry and jasper. Rounded boulders of pure copper are sometimes
found. One of these, of exceptional size, was in the forest, in the
direction of Ontonagon, and was estimated to weigh about eighteen tons.

Near Houghton, Mr. Forster showed me the surface of a hill, four
hundred feet above the lake, which had been made perfectly smooth by
the action of the drift passing over it. At another part where the rock
was exposed we counted fifty-seven grooves over a space of sixty-seven
feet of surface. Judging from the direction of the groovings on the
Kee-wai-wona promontory and the iron hills of Michigan, the boulders
appear to have been carried from Labrador.

[Illustration: CHIPPEWA CHIEF.


The waters and floating icebergs must have swept over this country with
much force for in many places the pressure exerted seems to have been

On my way south from this land, which contained so much that attracted
attention, I visited the reservation of the Oneidas, at the spot where
the council fire of that tribe was originally established, near Lake
Ontario. I was received by the hereditary chief of that tribe, who
was named Beech-tree. As he could not speak a word of English, our
conversation was carried on with the assistance of his grandson, who
acted as interpreter. Beech-tree was a large, broad shouldered man,
with a remarkably massive head. If I had met him in the north of China,
I should have taken him for a Manchu Tartar. His hair was very long and
black, and tinged with grey.

He told his grandson to say that he was proud of his unmixed descent
from the ancient chiefs of his nation, which had once been powerful,
and that the land upon which we stood belonged by right to the Oneidas,
and was the place where they held their great councils and decided
upon questions of war or peace. After having made, with assumed
dignity, this brief oration, Beech-tree retired into the interior of
his hut, and I returned to my country cart, which had conveyed me to
his territory, and finally reached the shores of Lake Erie. After
traversing Lakes Huron and Michigan, I proceeded to the banks of the
Ohio river, with the purpose of making expeditions to the works of the
Mound Builders.

Before quitting the Oneida reservation, I made inquiries about a man
named Williams, concerning whom I had heard, when at Boston, a strange
and romantic story. It appears that Williams, whose parentage was
uncertain or unknown, was sent early in the present century from the
Indian village of St. Régis, to act as a missionary among the Oneidas.
Some years later, rumours were spread to the effect that he was the
true Dauphin, the son of Louis XVI. These rumours were stated to be
based upon grounds which warranted a fair degree of belief.

The story as told to me at Oneida was that Williams was supposed to
have been born at St. Régis (a picturesque village reservation on the
South bank of the St. Lawrence, and which, at the time that I saw it,
contained a population of fifteen hundred Iroquois, the majority of
whom were half-breeds).

In early manhood he was sent to a college, trained for missionary work,
and ultimately appointed to preach among the Oneidas. I was informed,
by those who had previously known him, that he was an honest, zealous
missionary, who was quite incapable of attempting any form of imposture.

It however happened (such is the story,) that the Prince de Joinville,
when travelling in America, came to Oneida and saw Williams. It is also
stated that he visited him on a second occasion. After this second
meeting, it was thought by the residents in the neighbourhood, that
Williams was possibly the Dauphin.

A picture of Simon, the gaoler who treated the young prisoner in
the Temple with such incredible brutality, was shown to him, and he
instantly started back with horror, as if recalling some painful
memory. Williams had no recollection of anything about his youth before
the age of fourteen.

In consequence of these apparent corroborations of the local surmises,
it was conjectured that after the execution of Louis XVI., the young
Dauphin was removed from the prison, sent to America and placed in an
Indian family at St. Régis. Williams lived for many years with the
Oneidas, and died at an advanced age. He was described as having been
a man of portly physique, with large features and big hands and feet.
His complexion was rather dark. I think it is probable that he was
descended from half-breed Indian parents.

It will be observed, that, the whole value of the evidence supporting
the theory of his being the Dauphin, depends upon the accuracy of the
story that he received two visits from the Prince de Joinville. This
statement, if correct, appears however to establish the presumption
that the Royal Family of France, may have had some doubts with regard
to the truth of the report of the death of Louis XVII. in the Temple.
It is certain that a boy, said to have been that young prince, was
buried by the orders of the Commune in an obscure churchyard in the
Faubourg St. Antoine, in the year 1795; but the evidence is scarcely
conclusive upon the subject.

[Illustration: _Plan of the region within which are the Earthworks of
  the Mound builders._]

                              CHAPTER IV.


  Earthworks of the Mound Builders and their geographical
  position. — Miamisburgh Mound. — Grave Creek Mound. — Ages
  and contents of burial mounds. — Rectangular, circular and
  octagonal Inclosures near Newark. — Marietta Earthworks. —
  Discoveries made in a burial mound. — Fortifications near
  Portsmouth. — Encampments in the valley of the Scioto.

The great earthworks in Ohio are the subject of much antiquarian
interest and conjecture. Several surveys of them have been made for the
purpose of ascertaining their purpose and the probable period of their
construction, but nothing definite has yet been determined.

In considering the various theories respecting the migrations of
the aboriginal tribes, it is strange that traces of the same kind
of encampments have not been found either in the North-West towards
Asia, or in the southern parts of the valley of the Mississippi. It
is difficult to understand how it happens that these works only occur
within a comparatively confined region. Their actual geographical
limits are contained within an area bounded approximately, towards the
South, by the left bank of the river Ohio, from the neighbourhood of
Cincinnati towards the West, to Wheeling towards the East, and not
extending northwards beyond a line drawn from East to West through the
centre of Ohio.

Consequently it will be seen, upon making a reference to the map, that
the works of the people called the Mound Builders, are situated within
the southern division of the State including both banks of the Ohio
river. These were their extreme limits, but the part of the country
chiefly occupied by them has a much lesser area.

It is evident from the positions of the earthworks, that the tribes
which raised them thought it necessary to maintain their communications
by water with the valley of the Ohio, and on the banks of that river
they had several important fortifications or encampments. It is,
however, upon the banks of the tributaries that fall into the Ohio from
the North, that their settlements were most numerous, especially upon
the Scioto, the Muskinghum and the streams entering those rivers near
Newark and Chillicothe.

The first earthwork that I visited was the great mound of Miamisburgh,
which is situated upon the summit of high ground overlooking the
valley of the Little Miami river. It was opened and examined in 1869,
a few months before I saw it. In appearance and shape it resembled the
largest of the Tumuli that were raised upon the plains of Troy, but the
dimensions of this American mound are much greater. It is sixty-eight
feet high, and has a circumference at the base of about eight hundred
and thirty feet.

A perpendicular shaft was sunk from the centre of the summit to the
centre of the base, and two horizontal shafts were made, one at
eighteen feet, and another at thirty-six feet respectively. At a
depth of four feet from the top, there was a layer of wood ashes. At
eight feet there was discovered a skeleton and some decayed wood. At
fifteen feet there was a layer of charcoal and lime. At the depth of
twenty-four feet a singular construction was found. It consisted of an
upright stone, standing upon two flat stones, together with a number of
rounded water-worn stones. With these there was some closely pressed
material, looking like a kind of cloth made from wood fibre. Upon
reaching the depth of thirty feet, there was discovered a quantity of
charcoal and ashes. Six feet below this was a hollow space and, from
the character of the contents within, it was supposed that there must
have been a vault there, which had been surrounded and covered with
logs of wood. At the base of the mound there was a large quantity of

Before the tumulus was opened, it had been conjectured that it was
raised by the Indians for the purposes of observation. It is situated
at the extreme western limit of the territories of the Mound Builders,
and at a considerable distance from any of their other earthworks.
The other great burial mound was placed in a similar manner beyond
the eastern boundary at the confluence of a small stream called the
Grave Creek with the Ohio, near Wheeling. On my way there by the
river, I passed the mouths of the Scioto and Muskinghum, and the towns
of Portsmouth and Marietta,[13] where are the remains of extensive

The Grave Creek Mound is similar to that at Miamisburgh, but it is, in
all its measurements, rather larger and rises to a height of seventy
feet. In the early part of the present century, some slight excavations
were made upon the slopes, and it was then ascertained that numerous
skeletons were buried there.

In the year 1838, a more thorough system of examination was adopted.
A shaft was carried through horizontally from the surface of the
ground at the base to the centre. Then a perpendicular shaft was sunk
from the centre of the summit to the base, connecting these with the
passage already opened. At three feet from the summit there was found
a skeleton in a complete state of decay. Thirty-two feet lower down,
there was a small vault or structure of logs of wood, within which was
another skeleton also decayed. At the base there was a larger vault,
containing two skeletons which were in a sufficiently well preserved
condition to enable them, subsequently, to be exhibited. These
skeletons were found to be partly enveloped in a fibrous material, and
they were placed within a structure, formed by a number of upright logs
of wood, covered by other similar logs placed horizontally. Upon the
top of this roof there had been piled a small heap of stones.

The excavation of the horizontal shaft, near the surface, disclosed a
very singular system of burial.

Dr. Clemens,[14] in his account of this operation, states that at a
distance of twelve or fifteen feet were found masses of a substance
composed of charcoal and burnt bones, and also that when enlarging the
lower vault, in which were the two skeletons, ten more skeletons were
discovered, all of them in a sitting posture, but in a state so fragile
as to defy all attempts to preserve them. In this lower vault there
were six hundred and fifty beads made of shell and perforated in the
centre. In the smaller vault above, in which was the single skeleton,
there were seventeen hundred shell beads, about one hundred and fifty
small plates of mica perforated at their sides and corners, five
hundred marine shells and five copper bands or bracelets which were
placed on the bones of the arms.

There was a tree growing upon the top of the mound which interfered
with the operations. Dr. Clemens stated that it was two-and-a-half
feet in diameter, and had three hundred growths from centre to
circumference. Some years earlier another oak which had become decayed
was cut down by the proprietor, who said that he had counted upon it
nearly five hundred annual rings. The number of rings in the trunk of
a tree, growing upon any part of the mound, gives clear evidence upon
the question of its least age, and therefore it may be assumed that the
date of the completion of the burial mound cannot be later than the
fourteenth century. It is, however, possible that there may have been
several successive growths of trees on the slopes, and in that case it
may have been raised at some earlier period. The Miamisburgh mound, at
the time when I saw it, was covered with trees, none of which appeared
to be of great age. They must have been preceded by other growths.

The nature of the ornaments buried with the skeletons in the Grave
Creek mound, seems to prove that there must have been communications
between these Ohio races, and the tribes dwelling to the South of
the Mississippi valley,[15] for the small sea shells were considered
to be of the same kind as those seen on the beaches in Florida. The
glittering flat slabs of mica, which hung over the breast, either as
ornaments or marks of distinction, were similar to those discovered in
burial mounds in the Iroquois country, near Lake Ontario. The copper
bracelets were of rude workmanship, and were probably hammered into
their shape from lumps of native copper. Similar bracelets have been
found in some smaller burial mounds in other parts of Ohio. Those
examined by me were made in the most rough and simple manner. The
copper seems to have been beaten out into the required lengths, and
then bent over to form the bracelets. The shapes resembled the bangles
made in Hindostan and Persia.

There are circumstances with respect to the manner of burial by the
Mound Builders which require to be noticed. It seems from the evidence
of the various excavations that have been made, that it was frequently
the custom to construct in the centre of the spot intended to be a
burial place, a vault surrounded by upright logs of wood. In this was
put the earliest burial, which was probably that of a chief. This vault
was then covered with a roof of logs, and over it was piled a heap of
stones. Other mounds were added in the course of time, and were placed
on the surface of the ground in a circle surrounding the vault. This
system of placing mounds was then continued in circles, one outside
the other, until the space or area intended to be occupied was filled
up. The later interments were probably made successively one above the
other, until the tumulus was completed. The time that would elapse
before a tribe had raised such a high mound as that at the Grave Creek,
would necessarily be very long.

In the town of Newark, situated in a part of the country which appears
to have been much occupied by the races that built the ancient
earthworks, a very interesting collection of local antiquities had been
brought together. Amongst the various relics discovered in the mounds
were, stone axes and chisels, quantities of rude coarse pottery, many
shell beads, and some copper bracelets.

Dr. Wilson, who was a resident in the neighbourhood, and took much
personal interest in antiquarian investigations, told me he had
observed that the larger burial places seemed to have been raised
gradually, and at intervals. He had formed the opinion that the
Indians usually traced upon the surface of the ground the outer base
of the tumulus. Within the inclosed space a number of skeletons were
then laid and covered over with layers of earth or small mounds. Over
these, after a certain time had elapsed, more skeletons were placed
and similarly covered. This system of burial was continued until the
mound was completed. There were evidences of a great burning having
taken place upon the top of every successive series of burials. The
nature of the contents of such of the smaller mounds as had been opened
varied in many respects. In some instances nothing was found except
ashes and broken pottery. In others were skeletons together with stone
pipes, chisels made of hard greenstone, flint arrow heads, bone awls
and numerous beads. There were also occasionally found a few rudely
made copper rings. In a mound which was supposed to be a child’s grave,
a necklace of beads, strung upon a kind of fibre, was placed round the
neck of the skeleton.

There was a large cairn, above forty feet in height, placed a few
miles south of the town, which was destroyed about the middle of the
present century in order to obtain materials for constructing a portion
of the banks of a canal. When the stones were removed, fifteen small
mounds composed of earth were discovered ranged in a circle at some
distance from the centre, and near the outer part of the base. There
was also a central mound which contained a quantity of human bones. In
one of the outer mounds the explorers saw a hollow wooden trough, in
which was a skeleton and several rings made of copper. I examined some
fragments of this trough that were preserved in the Museum. The wood
was black and very hard. It was considered that the mounds beneath the
cairn contained earth that must have been brought from a distance. This
singular fact is in accordance with what has been observed in other
Indian works, and probably has a special significance.

Judging from the character of the relics that have been discovered
in the Ohio mounds,[16] it does not appear that there is any reason
to justify the conclusion that the Mound Builders differed in
their condition of civilisation from the other Indian tribes. The
consideration of this subject has been made perplexing in consequence
of the existence of the numerous burial places of the tribes who were
settled in this region after the arrival of the Europeans. In several
mounds were found gunbarrels, silver crosses and other objects which
are undoubtedly of foreign workmanship. The crosses were usually placed
upon the breasts of the skeletons, and from this circumstance it is
probable that they belonged to Indians who had been converted by the
French missionaries.

After I had seen the principal burial places of the Mound Builders, I
proceeded to look at the largest and most important group of that class
of earthworks, which were considered by Messrs. Squier and Davis, who
surveyed them in 1845, to have been raised for the purpose of religious
ceremonial, and who accordingly called them sacred inclosures. It has
also been conjectured that they may have been fortified camps.

They are situated a few miles from Newark, upon a slightly elevated
plain, about forty feet above a river now called the Licking Creek.
Upon two sides of them there are smaller streams, respectively named,
South Fork and Racoon Creek: thus the camps are surrounded on three
sides by water. The site chosen by the Indians was well adapted for
the purpose of defence, when the habits or requirements of the tribes
were such as to make it desirable for them to establish their dwelling
places as near as possible to a river. The inclosures are designed
with skill, and their construction must have involved arduous and long
continued labour, which was probably executed in consequence of the
apprehension of serious danger from the attacks of enemies. Upon an
examination of their formation, it becomes evident that the men who
traced the lines of the embankments, followed clear and well-defined

As these earthworks are, with respect to their principles of
construction, the most remarkable of their kind in North America, it
is expedient to investigate their plans with careful attention. The
inclosure, which is marked A on the annexed ground plan, consists
of a large octagonal work connected with a smaller circular work.
The octagon contains an area of about forty acres, surrounded by an
embankment whose existing average height slightly exceeds five feet.
There are eight entrances or gateways placed at equal distances from
each other. They are guarded by mounds, made sufficiently wide to
extend a little beyond the width of the openings and thus cover the
approach. These mounds are of the same height as the ramparts, and are
placed within them. They were made flat upon the top, and possibly the
platform thus made was useful for defensive operations.

At one end of the inclosure the ramparts leave the octagon, and form
two parallel banks leading into the circle B. This approach
is nearly one hundred yards long and about fifteen yards wide. At its
termination the banks turn to the right and left, and form a circular
work containing an area of twenty acres. At the outer edge of the
circle and opposite to the entrance, is placed a large flat-topped
mound, attached to, but outside the general line of the banks. This
mound, according to my measurements, was twelve feet in perpendicular
height, and had a platform on its summit which was about one hundred
and eighty feet long by thirty feet wide. In consequence of being
several feet higher than the embankments and outside their line, it
commands the approaches to that part of the inclosure. There is no
exterior or interior ditch to either of these works.

[Illustration: _Plan of Indian Inclosures and Parallel Embankments near
  Newark, Ohio_]

From the central, or eastern opening of the octagon a long low line
of parallel embankments connect it with another group of earthworks
which, in the plan, is marked C. The inclosure has been, in
many parts, destroyed or levelled, but it is possible to trace its
original form. It appears to have been an exact square, containing
an area of twenty acres. This square is connected with the circular
work D by parallel banks in the same manner as the octagon
is joined to the circle B, but they are of greater length
and magnitude. At the entrance, where the banks diverge outwards and
begin to form the curve of the circle, they rise to a height exceeding
fifteen feet.

The appearance of these great avenues of approach, and the inclosing
banks, covered with forest trees, is very impressive, and it can be
well understood why it has been thought probable that the circular
work was raised for the purpose of performing religious or sacrificial
ceremonies. With respect to that opinion it should be observed that, in
this particular instance, the theory that the lofty banks were intended
as a fortification is to some extent doubtful, because it happens that
the ditch is placed within the ramparts. This method of defence is
unquestionably opposed to all the rules of European fortification.
Possibly in the systems of Indian warfare where stockades were
generally used, and sometimes placed on the sides of sloping banks, an
inner ditch may have been considered more capable of defence than one
placed externally.

The inclosure, like that at B, is in the shape of a circle.
It contains an area of about twenty-six acres. The ramparts have an
average height of nearly twelve feet, and the depth of the ditch is
over nine feet. At that part of the work which is near the entrance,
the dimensions are, however, of still greater importance, and the
perpendicular height measured from the bottom of the ditch exceeds
twenty-eight feet. The length of the inner slope may be estimated as
being about forty-two feet. In the centre of the inclosure, there is a
low heap of earth and stones which, in consequence of its shape, has
received the name of the eagle mound. It is not improbable that this
was the spot where, after the Indians returned from their wars, their
prisoners were tied to a stake, then tortured, and burnt in accordance
with the usual customs, and war dances with other savage ceremonies,
were performed in the presence of the women and children assembled

When taking into consideration the various circumstances which are
apparent in the[17]Newark inclosures, particular attention should be
given to the fact that their ground plans are geometrical figures.
Thus the circle B is accurately traced. D has some small difference
in the lengths of its diameters, but is very nearly a true circle.
The square has its four sides equal, and all its angles are right
angles. The octagon is carefully laid down, and its angles are almost
mathematically correct.

The plans and measurements are evidences of the existence of mental
capacities which were far in advance of those of the present Indian
races, who are remarkable for their extreme indifference to all ideas
of regularity of form, and who have not, and never could have had, the
slightest acquaintance with the rules of geometry.

The Licking river, after passing these inclosures, finally enters the
Muskinghum, and the Muskinghum falls into the Ohio. The confluence
takes place near the town of Marietta, where there are groups of
earthworks which, in many respects, resemble those at Newark, and
some of the areas were equal. The positions for the inclosures
were evidently chosen upon similar principles. They were upon a
comparatively elevated plateau, and had direct communication with the

In the early part of the present century some discoveries were made,
which were considered to be of the utmost importance. It was thought
that they had a direct bearing upon the question of the civilisation
and antiquity of the Mound Builders, and a letter, written by Dr.
Hildreth, has been acknowledged to be a very important contribution to
the evidence upon these subjects.[18]

The letter ran as follows:-

                                          “Marietta, July 19th, 1819.

  “In removing the earth which composed an ancient mound in one
  of the streets of Marietta, on the margin of the plain, near
  the fortifications, several curious articles were discovered
  the latter part of June last. They appear to have been buried
  with the body of the person to whose memory this mound was

[Illustration: INCLOSURES AT MARIETTA. 1837.]

  “Lying immediately over, or on the forehead of the body, were
  found three large circular bosses, or ornaments for a sword
  belt, or a buckler; they are composed of copper, overlaid
  with a thick plate of silver. The fronts of them are slightly
  convex, with a depression, like a cup, in the centre, and
  measure two inches and a quarter across the face of each. On
  the back side, opposite the depressed portion, is a copper
  rivet or nail, around which are two separate plates, by which
  they were fastened to the leather. Two small pieces of the
  leather were found lying between the plates of one of the
  bosses; they resemble the skin of an old mummy, and seem to
  have been preserved by the salts of the copper. The plates of
  copper are nearly reduced to an oxyde, or rust. The silver
  looks quite black, but is not much corroded, and on rubbing,
  it becomes quite brilliant. Two of these are yet entire; the
  third one is so much wasted, that it dropped in pieces on
  removing it from the earth. Around the rivet of one of them
  is a small quantity of flax or hemp, in a tolerable state of
  preservation. Near the side of the body was found a plate of
  silver which appears to have been the upper part of a sword
  scabbard; it is six inches in length and two inches in breadth,
  and weighs one ounce; it has no ornaments or figures, but has
  three longitudinal ridges, which probably corresponded with
  edges, or ridges of the sword; it seems to have been fastened
  to the scabbard by three or four rivets, the holes of which
  yet remain in the silver.

  “Two or three broken pieces of a copper tube, were also found,
  filled with iron rust. These pieces, from their appearance,
  composed the lower end of the scabbard, near the point of the
  sword. No sign of the sword itself was discovered, except the
  appearance of rust above mentioned.

  “Near the feet, was found a piece of copper, weighing three
  ounces. From its shape it appears to have been used as a plumb,
  or for an ornament, as near one of the ends is a circular
  crease, or groove, for tying a thread; it is round, two inches
  and a half in length, one inch in diameter at the centre, and
  half-an-inch at each end. It is composed of small pieces of
  native copper, pounded together; and in the cracks between the
  pieces, are stuck several pieces of silver; one nearly the size
  of a four-penny piece, or half a dime. This copper ornament
  was covered with a coat of green rust, and is considerably
  corroded. A piece of red ochre, or paint, and a piece of
  iron ore, which has the appearance of having been partially
  vitrified, or melted, were also found. The ore is about the
  specific gravity of pure iron.

  “The body of the person here buried, was laid on the surface of
  the earth, with his face upwards, and his feet pointing to the
  north-east, and head to the south-west. From the appearance of
  several pieces of charcoal, and bits of partially burnt fossil
  coal, and the black colour of the earth, it would appear that
  the funeral obsequies had been celebrated by fire; and while
  the ashes were yet hot and smoking, a circle of flat stones
  had been laid around and over the body. The circular covering
  is about eight feet in diameter, and the stones yet look
  black, as if stained by fire and smoke. This circle of stones
  seems to have been the nucleus on which the mound was formed,
  as immediately over them is heaped the common earth of the
  adjacent plain, composed of a clayey sand and coarse gravel.
  This mound must originally have been about ten feet high, and
  thirty feet in diameter at its base. At the time of opening
  it, the height was six feet, and diameter between thirty and
  forty. It has every appearance of being as old as any in the
  neighbourhood, and was, at the first settlement of Marietta,
  covered with large trees, the remains of whose roots were yet
  apparent in digging away the earth. It also seems to have been
  made for this single personage, as the remains of one skeleton
  only were discovered. The bones were much decayed, and many of
  them crumbled to dust on exposure to the air. From the length
  of some of them, it is supposed the person was about six feet
  in height.

  “Nothing unusual was discovered in their form, except that
  those of the skull were uncommonly thick. The situation of
  the mound on high ground, near the margin of the plain, and
  the porous quality of the earth, are admirably calculated
  to preserve any perishable substance from the certain
  decay which would attend it in many other situations. To
  these circumstances, is attributed the tolerable state of
  preservation in which several of the articles above described
  were found, after lying in the earth for several centuries. We
  say _centuries_, from the fact that trees were found growing
  on those ancient works, whose ages were ascertained to amount
  to between four and five hundred years each, by counting the
  concentric circles in the stumps after the trees were cut down;
  and on the ground, besides them, were other trees in a state of
  decay, that appeared to have fallen from old age.”

It should be observed with reference to the statements made in the
above letter, that the age of the trees, said to have been estimated by
the early settlers at Marietta, has generally been accepted as being
correct, and based upon direct and accurate evidence. Consequently it
would be necessary to admit that the earthworks were raised at some
period before the fifteenth century.

Passing from the question of this date, as calculated by the annular
rings counted upon the trees, to the subject of the contents of the
burial mound which was excavated in the presence of Dr. Hildreth; the
problem that has chiefly to be solved is the age of the silver-plated
ornaments. It is difficult to fix the time when these were made, but
judging from the sketches of them, as published in the account of these
discoveries, the ornaments appear to have been such as would have been
placed upon the sword belt and scabbard of a European officer of rank.

When the inclosures and their ramparts were for the first time surveyed
and described in the year 1805, it was observed that there were
parallel passages or protected ways leading from the larger of the
forts down to the river. These appear to correspond with the parallels
that can still be traced at Newark, and which also lead to the river.
Those at Marietta were however more remarkable, because, in order to
obtain the gradual approach which was required, it was necessary,
apparently, to excavate the river bank in such a manner as to make a
sunken road. A conveniently sloped communication with the water was
thus constructed. It is probable that at the river side where the
protecting embankments terminated, a fleet of canoes was kept ready for
use or escape.

The next confluence of rivers below Marietta, occurs at the point
where the Scioto falls into the Ohio. Near the spot where the town of
Portsmouth is now situated, are traces of an extensive series of low
embankments which seem to have been made for temporary entrenchments.
On the opposite or south bank of the river, there was an inclosure
constructed in the shape of a square, each of the sides being eight
hundred feet long; the area inclosed was nearly fifteen acres. The
embankments were over twelve feet high: and there was no ditch.

This fort was brought into especial notice in consequence of a strange
discovery. A large number of iron pickaxes, shovels and gunbarrels were
found buried in the ramparts. It has been conjectured that they were
hidden there by the French soldiers when they retreated down the Ohio
after the capture of Fort Du Quesne[19] by the British forces in the
year 1758. The Indian fortifications on the banks of that river were
placed upon the direct line of the communication with the other French
forts in the valley of the Mississippi and Louisiana. In the ordinary
course of events they would probably have been used by the French and
their Indian allies, when they happened to be in their neighbourhood.

The valley of the river Scioto above Portsmouth, towards Chillicothe,
was evidently much frequented by the Indians, who dwelt in inclosures
resembling in their formation the square and circular works at
Newark, although the embankments were of smaller dimensions. A brief
description of one of them as it existed when first surveyed, is
sufficient to give a knowledge of the usual plans of these encampments.
It was situated on the left bank of a tributary of the Scioto, called
Paint Creek.

There was a square inclosure, each of whose sides was one thousand and
eighty feet in length. Attached to this square, which contained an area
of twenty-seven acres, was a large circular inclosure having a diameter
of about seventeen hundred feet. This circle had another smaller work
connected with it which was also circular, and had a diameter of eight
hundred feet. The embankments of all these inclosures were low, and did
not anywhere exceed five feet in height. The position of the gateways
and the mounds protecting them was the same as in the octagonal work
at Newark. The large circle had an opening into it leading out of the
square, and the small circle had also one opening which connected it
with the other.

This part of Ohio was, in the eighteenth century, occupied by
settlements of the Shawnee tribes. In several of the burial mounds,
which are supposed to have belonged to them, there have been found
copper kettles, silver crosses and iron gunbarrels—all of which must
have been unquestionably made by workmen of European descent.

                              CHAPTER V.

                    MOUNDS AND EARTHWORKS IN OHIO.

  Ancient Fortified Inclosures at Circleville. — Discoveries in
  a Burial Mound. — Alligator Totem near Newark. — Fort Ancient. —
  Age of Trees growing upon the Ramparts at Fort Hill. —
  Traditions. — Geometrical Ground Plans of Indian Inclosures. —

Before quitting the subject of those ancient earthworks, which were
planned upon geometrical figures, it is necessary to take into
consideration certain inclosures that were situated in the higher parts
of the Scioto Valley, in a position which is at the present time,
occupied by the town of Circleville.

The embankments or ramparts have been razed to the ground, and no
traces remain of what appears to have been one of the most perfect
examples of the mathematical accuracy of that type of construction. It
is fortunate that during the demolition of the works, there happened
to be present an antiquarian of such an acknowledged reputation as
Mr. Atwater, for he has written a full account of their form and
dimensions,[20] together with a report upon the strange discoveries
made when excavating a burial mound, inside the circular inclosure near
its centre. Mr. Atwater, who evidently took careful measurements,[21]
wrote a statement which includes the following extracts:-

  “There are two forts, one being an exact circle, the other an
  exact square. The former is surrounded by two walls, with a
  deep ditch between them. The latter is encompassed by one wall,
  without any ditch. The former was sixty-nine rods in diameter,
  measuring from outside to outside of the circular outer wall;
  the latter is exactly fifty-five rods square measuring the
  same way. The walls of the circular fort were at least twenty
  feet in height, measuring from the bottom of the ditch, before
  the town of Circleville was built. The inner wall was of clay,
  taken up probably in the northern part of the fort, where was a
  low place, and is still considerably lower than any other part
  of the work. The outside wall was taken from the ditch which
  is between these walls, and is alluvial, consisting of pebbles
  worn smooth in water, and sand, to a very considerable depth,
  more than fifty feet at least. The outside of the walls is
  about five or six feet in height now; on the inside, the ditch
  is, at present, generally not more than fifteen feet. They are
  disappearing before us daily, and will soon be gone. The walls
  of the square fort are at this time, where left standing, about
  ten feet in height. There were eight gateways or openings
  leading into the square fort, and only one into the circular
  fort. Before each of these openings was a mound of earth,
  perhaps four feet high, forty feet perhaps in diameter at the
  base, and twenty or upwards at the summit. These mounds, for
  two rods or more, are exactly in front of the gateways, and
  were intended for the defence of these openings.” ...


  Reduced from the survey of Mr. Atwater.]

  “The extreme care of the authors of these works to protect and
  defend every part of the circle, is nowhere visible about this
  square fort. The former is defended by two high walls, the
  latter by one. The former has a deep ditch encircling it, this
  has none. The former could be entered at one place only; this
  at eight, and those about twenty feet broad.” ... “The round
  fort was picketed in, if we are to judge from the appearance of
  the ground on and about the walls. Half-way up the outside of
  the inner wall, is a place distinctly to be seen, where a row
  of _pickets_ once stood, and where it was placed when this work
  of defence was originally erected.” ...

  “What surprised me on measuring these forts, was the exact
  manner in which they had laid down their circle and square;
  so that after every effort, by the most careful survey, to
  detect some error in their measurement, we found that it was
  impossible, and that the measurement was much more correct
  than it would have been, in all probability, had the present
  inhabitants undertaken to construct such a work.”

The mound that had been raised within the circle was ten feet high.
Its summit had been levelled in order to obtain a platform which had a
diameter of nearly thirty feet, and had probably been used as a site
for the dwelling of the chief of the tribe. Mr. Atwater watched the
proceedings when this mound was destroyed. He states that it contained:—

  (1).—“Two human skeletons lying on what had been the original
    surface of the earth.

  (2).—“A great quantity of arrow heads, some of which were so
    large as to induce a belief that they were used for spear heads.

  (3).—“The handle either of a small sword or a large knife,
    made of an elk’s horn; around the end where the blade had been
    inserted, was a ferule of silver which, though black, was not
    much injured by time. Though the handle showed the hole where
    the blade had been inserted, yet no iron was found, but an
    oxyde remained of similar shape and size.

  (4).—“Charcoal and wood ashes on which these articles lay,
    which were surrounded by several bricks very well burnt. The
    skeleton appeared to have been burned in a large and very hot
    fire, which had almost consumed the bones of the deceased.
    This skeleton was deposited a little to the south of the
    centre of the tumulus, and, about twenty feet to the north of
    it was another, with which were—

  (5).—“A large mirror, about three feet in length, and one foot
    and a half in breadth, and one inch and a half in thickness.
    This mirror was of isinglass (mica membranacea) and on it—

  (6).—“A plate of iron which had become an oxyde; but before it
    was disturbed by the spade, resembled a plate of cast iron.
    The mirror answered the purpose very well for which it was
    intended. This skeleton had also been burned like the former,
    and lay on charcoal and a considerable quantity of wood ashes.
    A part of the mirror is in my possession as well as a piece of
    brick, taken from the spot at the time.”

About two hundred yards from this tumulus, and outside the circular
inclosure was a large mound, supposed to have been the common Indian
cemetery. It contained an immense number of human skeletons of all
sizes and ages. The skeletons are laid horizontally, with their heads
generally towards the centre, and the feet towards the outside of the
tumulus. A considerable part of this work still stands uninjured,
except by time. In it have been found, besides these skeletons, stone
axes and knives, and several ornaments with holes through them, by
means of which, with a cord passing through these perforations, they
could be worn by their owners.

The vestiges of occupation that have been left by those ancient tribes
who raised the earthworks in this region are not of a character that
render it possible to form any absolute conclusions about them.

There are, however, in Ohio two large and important mounds built in the
shape of animals which may, possibly, have been made for the purpose
of indicating the emblems which were adopted by the Indians as their
totems. One of these is placed on the summit of a hill overlooking the
valley of one of the tributaries of the Licking river, and about three
miles from the octagonal inclosure near Newark.

In consequence of its shape, it is called the Alligator. There have
been various theories with regard to this strange earthwork, and it has
been supposed that sacrificial ceremonies were performed there. I had
expected to find this figure to a certain extent excavated upon the
surface of the earth, but I observed, upon examining it, that it was a
regularly built up mound of considerable size.

The other large totem, which represents a huge serpent, is upon the
brow of a hill about one hundred miles to the South-west of the
Alligator, above a small river called the Brush Creek. According to the
measurements of the earliest surveyors, its length, if extended, is
about one thousand feet. It was five feet high in the centre, and had,
at that part, a base of thirty feet, which diminished towards the head
and tail.[22]

Upon the slopes of the hills near the Alligator, there are numerous
remains of ancient earthworks. One of the most extensive of them was in
every respect different from those at Newark, and other geometrically
designed works, and seems to have been raised for other purposes, or
possibly by a different tribe. Its embankments, which are irregular in
their form, are in no part higher than six feet, and are thrown up in
such a manner as to inclose the top of a small hill, which is situated
a short distance from the Alligator. The area contained within them is
about eighteen acres. In the centre there is a small circular earthwork
nearly one hundred yards in circumference, and in another part of the
inclosure there are two mounds which have been opened. They contained
large quantities of ashes and some broken pottery.

There are also other camping grounds near the river. The largest of
them inclosed a space exceeding twenty acres, and was surrounded
by a low bank evidently thrown up for the purposes of inclosing a
temporary encampment. Near the Alligator totem I noticed a singular
earthwork made in the shape of a half-moon. The farmers living in the
neighbourhood told me that they had opened and destroyed many of the
small mounds that had been upon their lands. In all cases they had
contained nothing but fragments of rough pottery, together with small
heaps of ashes.[23]

Finally, there remains to be taken into consideration those great
earthworks on the hills which have been specially classified as having
been undoubtedly raised for the purposes of defence, and which
entirely differ from such works as those that were placed upon the
plains. The largest of these camps has been called Fort Ancient, and
it must be acknowledged to be one of the most important fortified
entrenchments that has ever been constructed in any part of the world.

It is placed upon the summit of a hill overlooking the Little Miami
river about thirty miles above its junction with the Ohio. The site
that was chosen by the Indians is remarkable for its natural strength
and is, upon three sides of it, almost impregnable. The hill which is
about two hundred and thirty feet above the valley, is in the form of
a narrow promontory having almost precipitous sides except where it is
joined to the plateau. The Little Miami winds round one part of the
base, and some small tributary streams join it from the other side.

The shape and length of the embankments are shown in the accompanying
plan, which is a reduction that I have drawn from one that was made
in 1843 by Professor Locke of Cincinnati.[24] It will be observed
that the ramparts follow closely the curves of the ridge of the hill
and that the camp is practically divided into two parts, the outer
division being near the plain, and the inner one being at the head of
the promontory, where the sides of the hill are the most steep and
inaccessible. The latter was probably intended as a final stronghold in
the event of the outer work being captured.

The magnitude of the inclosing embankments of the outer camp is
astonishing. It is here that the position is most open to direct
attack, and no efforts or labour have been spared in carrying out
what was thought necessary to prevent capture. No Roman or British
encampment that I have seen surpasses this great Indian work. I walked
round the entire circuit of the ramparts. They are not less than four
miles in length. They follow every curve of the hill and the heads of
all the numerous ravines.

[Illustration: _Fort Ancient_]

The ground of the inclosure is level. At the time of my visit it was
covered with forest trees, amongst which were many poplars. Upon the
slopes of the embankments there was a luxuriant growth of large beeches
and oaks. The quantity of earth that must have been conveyed and thrown
up when forming these banks must have been enormous. The ramparts
vary in height between ten and twenty feet according to the character
of the natural defence afforded by the slopes of the hill. At the
approach from the plain they are fifteen feet high and have a base of
sixty-three feet. The platform at the top averages five feet wide.

There is no ditch. Nothing could more clearly mark the difference
between this fortification and one that would have been made by a white
race. An outer ditch is usually considered as not only of essential
importance in works of defence, but its excavation supplies the earth
required for the ramparts. It seems evident that either these Indians
in their method of defensive warfare did not always consider a ditch to
be useful, or it is possible that, in consequence of not having shovels
or pickaxes, they preferred obtaining earth in some other manner which
they found more convenient.

Upon inquiring among the farmers who were occupying the adjacent land,
I found that there was a prevalent opinion amongst them that the earth
composing these embankments had been brought from a distance and that
it had been carried by hand. It was also believed by them that the fort
could not have been made by Indians and that it was built at a very
remote period by some other race.

When walking upon the top of the broad ramparts I observed that there
were no evidences of the excavations that supplied the earth for the
formation of the enormous banks. In some parts of the interior there
were some shallow depressions, and also several holes which had been
made for some unknown purpose, but they could not have provided the
quantities required. It is possible, and, I think probable, that the
earth was taken from the surface of the land within the inclosure. A
shallow excavation made to a depth not exceeding six inches over the
whole area of one hundred and forty acres would have given a sufficient
supply. The methods of digging the ground, and of conveying the earth
must necessarily have been very primitive, and it is surprising that,
with all the difficulties that had to be overcome, works of such
magnitude should have been raised.

At a gap in an angle over-looking the river the remains of a road,
which led down to the water, can still be traced. At the part where
this road entered the fort it is evident that it had been paved
with flat water-worn stones. The ramparts here reach their greatest
dimensions, being fully twenty feet high. The appearance of Fort
Ancient from this position was very remarkable, and the effect was
heightened by the beautiful foliage of the forest trees that crowned
the summits of these lofty earthworks.

The inner part of the camp was strongly fortified. High banks were
raised across the narrow part of the enclosure at the centre, and
two mounds guarded the approach. The road to the outer camp from the
plain was also protected by two mounds, and from these there ran low
parallels for a distance of nearly fourteen hundred yards. They then
terminated by closing round another mound which was probably used for
the purpose of a look-out. Some labourers at a farm near this position
told me that there once existed other parallel banks connected with the
fort, which could be traced for several miles, but that these had been

There are certain features in the construction of this fortification
which have attracted attention, but their purpose has not been, and
probably cannot be, explained. There are not less than seventy gaps
or openings leading out of the embankments. It has been supposed that
these were intended to allow the escape of water from the interior.
There is another theory which has been suggested, according to which
it is thought possible that they were openings made with the object
of enabling the Indians to rush out at several points to repel their
enemies, and that they were fenced by stockades.

It, however, happens that these gaps are sometimes in positions where
the slopes of the hill are so steep as to be practically inaccessible,
and at other places they are on the level ground from which no surplus
waters could drain away. They seem to have formed part of the system
of fortification, for they occur in the same inexplicable manner at
another hill work of defence, built under similar conditions, on the
summit of a promontory with precipitous slopes, about forty miles to
the south-east of this position, which was evidently built by the same

This large earthwork is called Fort Hill, and it is singular in the
respect of having afforded to its surveyor the means of forming a
judgment upon the question of its antiquity. Consequently it has become
possible to establish well-founded conclusions with respect to the
dates of the construction of earthworks of a similar character.

Professor Locke, in his report on the geology of that part of Ohio,
stated that on the top of the wall of Fort Hill stood a chestnut tree
six feet in diameter. “Counting and measuring,” he observes, “the
annual layers of wood where an axeman had cut into the trunk, I found
them at nearly 200 to the foot, which would give to this tree the age
of 600 years. A poplar tree, seven feet in diameter, standing in the
ditch, allowing the thickness to the layers which I have found in
like poplars, 170 to the foot, would give nearly the same result, 607

Accepting the deductions of Professor Locke as being correct, it
follows that the period when this hill fort was constructed was not
later than the thirteenth century. Admitting that the thirteenth
century, is therefore the latest age that can be ascribed to works
of this type, they may be much older, for the forest trees within the
inclosures may have succeeded earlier growths.

It is not possible to form an estimate of the age of earthworks from
their appearance,[26] and it is only by counting the annual rings
of trees that happen to have been growing upon them, that any safe
theories respecting their antiquity can be adopted.

Looking at the geographical position of Fort Ancient, with reference
to the other hill works of defence that are supposed to have been
made by the Mound Builders, there are good reasons for assuming that
this was their last stronghold, built with the intention of creating
a permanent barrier against the attacks of their enemies. In time
of war it was a secure encampment, large enough to contain the men,
women and children of a numerous tribe. In time of peace it was well
situated for the usual requirements of Indians. It was in the midst
of a country abounding with game, and was immediately connected with
a good navigable river which enabled their canoes to maintain direct
communications with the Ohio and Mississippi.

Although, as far as I was able to judge, there was nothing in the
principles of construction of the hill defensive works which appeared
to be beyond the capacities of a purely Indian race, I invariably
found that the men who were settled as farmers near the principal
entrenchments held the opinion that they must have been raised by a
people possessing a superior condition of civilisation to the tribes
who occupied the land at the close of the eighteenth century, and who
were personally known by many of the early settlers.

It is, perhaps, desirable that these local opinions should not be
altogether disregarded, especially when it is remembered that they are
supported to some extent by Indian traditions and by the fact that no
embankments of a similar formation exist in any other part of North
America. It is therefore necessary that the statements of the Indians,
respecting the previous occupation of parts of Ohio and Kentucky by men
of a white race, should be given a passing consideration.

The Shawnees, who were found to be in possession of this region,
informed the European colonists that the ancient forts had been made
by white people, who after long wars against the Indians had been
exterminated. Their traditions upon this subject were said to have been
clear and decided.

On the other hand the statements of the Delawares, who were settled in
the Northern parts of the State point to other conclusions. They said
that the men who had raised the forts and entrenchments were called
the Tallegewi, and that great wars took place between them and the
Iroquois. After many years the Tallegewi were defeated and left the
country. The Delawares made no allusion with respect to any differences
of race or colour between the Tallegewi and the other Indian tribes.

It is much to be regretted that the evidence upon this interesting
subject is so vague and obscure. If men of foreign origin had been
settled in Ohio before the fourteenth century it would be reasonable
to expect that traces of them would have been left there or some
remaining indications of their religion. In the reports and letters of
the French missionaries, many of whom spoke and understood the language
of the tribes amongst whom they lived, there is no mention made of any
rumours or traditions of white people having dwelt in this part of
America. There were however at a later period, about the middle of the
eighteenth century, certain statements made by officers and men who had
been made prisoners by the Indians, which, at that time, received much
attention. A cavalry officer, named Stuart, said that in the country
west of Mississippi he had seen a tribe of Indians who were remarkably
white in colour and had reddish hair. He was informed by them that
their forefathers came from a foreign land and had settled in Florida,
but that when the Spaniards invaded that country they moved to their
present dwelling places. A fellow-captive, who was a Welshman, declared
that he understood the language of the tribe, as it differed very
little from what was spoken in Wales.

Other reports of a similar character were made by men who had lived
with tribes occupying lands near the southern parts of the Mississippi
valley. It has also been noticed that Indians having fair hair and
blue eyes, were living with the Mandans in their settlements near the
Missouri. With respect to the statements about Welsh speaking Indians,
it is possible that the captives may have been influenced by the
belief in the truth of the tradition that ships, under the direction
of Prince Madoc, left the Welsh coasts in the twelfth century and
landed their crews and emigrants on the eastern shores of the Florida

It is not, however, necessary to account for the existence of large
but irregular embankments, such as those at Fort Ancient, by the
supposition that the actions of a numerous tribe of Indians were under
the influence or direction of men belonging to another race. But it is
otherwise with reference to the geometrical inclosures on the plains,
for these must have been unquestionally planned by men who possessed a
competent knowledge of the methods of tracing mathematical designs.

Take for example the plans of the works at Newark and Circleville.
It may be thought that simple figures, such as the squares, would be
within the comprehension of uneducated Indians. It would nevertheless
be found difficult to lay down upon open fields a square, with all the
sides equal and its angles true right angles, containing so large an
area as twenty acres.[28]


The execution of the outlines of correct circles inclosing spaces of
nearly thirty acres, presents still greater difficulties. It would
have required a specially trained mind to form the conception of a
circumference having an imaginary point within, from which all lines
drawn to it would be equal.

But the figure which would have been absolutely impracticable to
construct without proper surveying appliances for making accurate
measurements, and fixing the true angles, is that of the octagon. Even
under the most favourable circumstances, with the help of suitable
instruments, it would have required much skill and calculation to
trace a true octagon whose embankments contained within them an area
exceeding forty acres. It is difficult to suppose that an accurately
designed work of this shape and magnitude could have been planned by
Indians, or that the construction of a figure so essentially scientific
and unusual, could have been originated by them. It is therefore
possible to conclude, that, the geometrical earthworks in Ohio may have
been raised by native tribes, acting under the direction of European
surveyors, or of men who had received a mathematical education.

Considerations upon the subject of the race and capacity of the
builders, have been to some extent complicated by the reports that were
made concerning the ages of the trees that grew upon and within the
ancient ramparts at Marietta. In the letter of Dr. Hildreth, quoted
in the previous chapter, it is clearly stated that trees were growing
there which were from four to five hundred years old.

As this evidence is very important it is desirable to examine it with
attention. This statement was made when he was attempting to fix an
approximate date for the age of a burial mound which was placed near
the fortifications. It was at the bottom of this mound that were
discovered the ornaments of a sword belt and scabbard. These ornaments
were made of copper and plated with silver, and must therefore have
been of European manufacture.

The calculation of the age of the trees is probably based upon the
results of an examination that took place shortly after the settlement
of Marietta during the latter part of the eighteenth century. It was
at that time decided by several of the inhabitants to fell some of
the largest and oldest trees then growing within the earthworks, and
ascertain their ages by counting the number of annual rings contained
in them. The operations were executed in the presence of Governor St.
Clair and the Rev. Dr. Cutler. Several of the trees were found to have
between three hundred and four hundred circles. One tree was carefully
examined and Dr. Cutler stated that it contained at least four hundred
and sixty-three circles.[29]

As nothing can be more conclusive as a proof of age than the number
of rings found in any tree growing beyond the tropics, this evidence
establishes an antiquity for these embankments earlier than the middle
of the fourteenth century.

The ages of the trees growing upon the Marietta inclosures do not
however enable a date to be estimated for the construction of such
works as those at Newark, for the shapes at Marietta are irregular
and, according to the survey, do not appear to have been laid down
with geometrical accuracy. It is therefore probable that the Newark
inclosures were made at some later period.

The fact of a ferule of silver and a plate of iron having been placed
with the skeletons in the burial mound at Circleville leads to the
conclusion that the tumulus like the one at Marietta was raised since
the time of the arrival of the Europeans. On account of its having been
placed within the inclosure it was originally conjectured that it
belonged to the same people that formed the surrounding embankment, but
the evidence is not sufficient to establish the correctness of a theory
of such importance.

It is difficult to understand what could have been the object of the
Indians in constructing large earthworks in the shapes of squares and
circles. Various theories have been advanced upon the subject, but
nothing that can be considered satisfactory has yet been ascertained.
Upon an examination of the plans it naturally occurs to the mind
to endeavour to form an opinion as to the reasons which led to the
adoption of these particular forms.

It is probable that these types of inclosures would be convenient for
the habits and purposes of an Indian tribe during peace, and that
they afforded protection in war. The square inclosures may have been
intended to contain the village, the dwellings of the chiefs, and the
council house. The circles, with their single opening for approach,
which could be strongly guarded, would in that case be the strongholds
in which, during hostilities, would be placed the women and children.
A circular fort, such as that at Newark, would, under the usual
conditions of Indian warfare, be practically impregnable. In the event
of the outer square being captured it would have a sufficient area to
give the space that would be wanted for the defending tribe.

The antiquity of these works is a problem that does not possess all
the elements that are required for its solution. But in consequence
of the exceptional system of construction certain inferences can be
determined. It may be assumed that the geometrically shaped inclosures
could not have been planned by Indians, and that therefore the
square, circular and octagonal works, were constructed at some period
subsequent to the landing of the Spaniards in Florida, in the beginning
of the sixteenth century.[30]

If these embankments were raised before that period, it would be
almost necessary to admit, that white men possessing a knowledge of
mathematics were living amongst the Indians before the discovery of
America by Columbus in 1492.

The difficult and interesting questions relating to the origin,
civilisation and fate of the Mound Builders, have been the subjects of
frequent investigations and of numerous theories. They appear to have
inhabited Ohio for many centuries.

                              CHAPTER VI.

  The burning of the Steamer Stonewall. — Indian Mounds and
  Earthworks at Cahokia. — Confluence of the Mississippi and
  Missouri. — Sacs and Foxes. — Education of Indians. — Nauvoo. —
  Winona. — Sioux Encampment. — Ancient Mounds near St. Paul’s. —
  The Sioux War in Minnesota. — Note upon the Ogallalas.

Upon the conclusion of a navigation of the waters of the Ohio, which
had extended over a distance exceeding nine hundred miles, we arrived
at the mouth of that river, and proceeded on our course up the
Mississippi. Evening was approaching when we saw a large steamer called
the Stonewall, passing us on her way to New Orleans, crowded with
passengers happily unaware of the terrible nature of their impending
fate, and of the event about to happen before nightfall.

At sunset, all those who were on board of our vessel, were assembled
upon the upper deck, watching the unusual brilliancy of the reflections
upon the water, and the vivid colouring of the clouds gathering round
the setting sun. We then supposed these effects to be caused by the
haze sometimes observed in the atmosphere during that beautiful season
towards the close of the year, which has been given the name of the
Indian summer. We were ignorant of the conflagration that was taking
place lower down the river, or we might have surmised that the glowing
tints were possibly caused by the smoke and flames rising from the
burning of the steamer we had seen earlier in the afternoon.

We were afterwards informed that news had been received, that a
disastrous fire had occurred on board the Stonewall shortly after we
passed her, and the flames spread with such rapidity, that, although
she was close to the river banks, only thirty-five out of two hundred
and forty passengers were saved. The accident was caused by the
carelessness of a man, who, when lighting his pipe, accidentally set
fire to a quantity of hay that was carried between the upper decks as
cargo. It was usual to protect the hay when embarked in this manner,
by covering it with a tarpaulin, but through some inattention this
precaution had been neglected. The Stonewall was burnt to the water’s

As we drew near to St. Louis, we passed the wide low plains upon which
is situated the great Cahokia Mound. As it was my purpose to make an
expedition to that part of Illinois before proceeding to the upper part
of the Mississippi Valley, I went there a few days after we had landed
from the steamer.

The mound when seen from the plains, stands out from them in a manner
so isolated and prominent, that it seems at the first glance, to be
unquestionable that it must have been raised by human labour; but upon
a closer investigation there are good reasons for believing it to be
a natural formation of the land, shaped originally like a rounded
hillock, and subsequently terraced and altered in such a manner as to
make it appear to be altogether artificial. It is ninety feet high, and
the base, if the whole of the irregular and spreading area is included,
covers a space of about nine acres. The summit is level, and contains
nearly two acres. Upon this was established a substantial farmhouse,
which I found to be tenanted by a kind and hospitable family, who were
evidently in a prosperous condition, and able to cultivate their land

The hillock has been given locally the name of Monks Mound, in
consequence of its having been for several years the site of a small
monastery, belonging to some of the brethren of La Trappe, who, towards
the close of the last century, emigrated to this remote spot when the
monastic orders were suppressed during the French Revolution. The
monks used the lower slopes as a garden, and there still remain the
indications of the terraced ground which was used by them for their
solitary walks. The Trappists are supposed to have left Cahokia at the
time of the restoration of the Bourbons. Probably they returned to
France when the Monastery of La Trappe was re-established, in the reign
of Louis XVIII.

Before the mound was used as a farm there was on its summit an Indian
tumulus. The farmer taking a practical view of this burial heap,
destroyed it and spread the contents over his land.

  The accompanying sketch of the mounds was taken from the slope
  of the Cahokia Mound, at a height of about forty feet above
  the plain. It represents what now remains of these singular
  earthworks; they must originally have been much more numerous.

On the plain below, there exists a remarkable group of circular and
platform mounds, which, in consequence of their unusual position and
ground plan, demand careful attention. They differ from the earthworks
in Ohio, and appear to have been raised by a tribe having exceptional
customs and habits of life. The mounds are not surrounded by any
embankments, and were entirely unprotected. They were probably raised
to make high platforms for the dwellings of the chiefs. One of them was
used, at the time of my visit to Cahokia, as the site of the village

I endeavoured to trace the plan of the ancient inclosure, which
contained a group of the greatest archæological importance, but so
many of the mounds had been levelled, that it was difficult to form
definite conclusions with regard to its shape or extent. It seems to
have been an irregular parallelogram, about fifteen hundred yards in
length, having at each end a large earthwork or mound, with a wide
and well levelled platform on the top. In the centre, there were two
conical mounds, which must have been raised in that position for some
important purpose. They were each about forty feet high, and appeared
to have been so placed as to dominate the mounds forming the sides of
the inclosure. The men farming the adjacent plains, stated that there
had been a large number of small burial mounds on their lands, most of
which had been destroyed. They had found in them quantities of bones
and skulls, but no ornaments or stone weapons.

When ploughing the ground, they had seen below the surface, fragments
of rude pottery and many flint arrow heads. A large and highly polished
stone spear head was discovered near the settlement and given by the
finder to the young American lady who was then acting as teacher at the
school house on the mound. It was a hard kind of flinty chert, and was
a singularly fine specimen of Indian workmanship.[31]

When I had completed the measurement of the spaces inclosed by the
mounds on the plain, I returned to the great mound in order to examine
it, and my previous conjecture that it was a natural formation remained
unchanged. It was, however, impossible to form a decided opinion
upon the subject, for it required a properly executed scientific
investigation to be made, before the problem of the construction could
be determined. If it should be proved to be artificial, its position
and shape as a high platform earthwork, would support a theory, that it
was raised by the same race that built the greater temple platform of
Cholula, in Mexico.

After quitting the Cahokia mounds and traversing several miles of the
plains, where for centuries many generations of Indians had encamped,
I returned to St. Louis and embarked on board the Muscatine, a steamer
about to proceed to the highest part of the navigable waters of the
Mississippi. Sixteen miles above St. Louis we passed the mouth of the
Missouri, and observed how its waters, thickly charged with earth,
entirely changed the character of the river into which it flowed. Above
the confluence, the Mississippi is a clear, tranquil stream, but after
receiving the Missouri it becomes muddy, rushing, and turbulent.[32]


It had been my intention to have gone up the Missouri to Nebraska, and
the ancient hunting grounds of the Pawnees, but there were certain
difficulties which made that plan impracticable, so I decided to
proceed northwards, and then to cross the prairies of Minnesota, and
Iowa towards the valley of the river Platte. I was fortunate in having
as a companion on board the steamer, an American judge, who, before
being appointed to the post he then held, had been for many years
acting as Indian agent to the Sacs and Foxes, and was well acquainted
with the habits of the tribes, who were at that time dwelling upon the
territories bordering on the banks of the river.

Judge Williams had great sympathy for the condition of the tribes with
whom he lived, and he endeavoured to ascertain if it were possible
to establish a higher state of civilisation amongst them. He thought
that the younger members of the Sacs and Foxes might be educated in
such a manner, that with due attention to the nature of the Indian
temperament, they could be made capable of taking a sensible part
in the conduct of affairs, and become fitted to fulfil the duties or
occupations of useful and peaceful citizens. The authorities with
whom he consulted, agreed with him as to the utility of the scheme
suggested. Suitable school buildings were placed upon the reservation,
and good teachers were selected. For a time the work progressed
favourably; the boys were in the first place well grounded in the
English language, and then their attention was directed to mathematics.

After several years of study, the senior class of boys had become so
far advanced, as to be able to draw geometrical figures and understand
elementary algebra. The teachers were hopeful, and it was thought
probable, that some of the pupils might ultimately make such progress
as to enable them to be prepared for Yale University. All the zeal and
energies of the masters, were however proved to have been useless.
One morning the whole of the senior class appeared at school, dressed
and painted for war. They had thrown off their ordinary clothes, had
put on mocassins and leggings, twisted their hair in accordance with
savage customs and had stuck feathers in it. The principal asked them
what was meant by this extraordinary conduct. “We have come to say,”
they replied, “that we now leave you; we are no longer boys: we are
Indians.” They then, without saying another word, abruptly left the
school and never returned to it.

The experiences of Judge Williams, with respect to the subject of the
higher education of those tribes of North American Indians, whose
territories were in the upper part of the valley of the Mississippi,
corresponded with what I was told by the French Missionaries placed in
charge of the Indian convents in the valley of the St. Lawrence. More
than two centuries had elapsed since the work of converting, educating
and civilising the Iroquois, Chippewa and Algonquin tribes was
undertaken. During that long time there had been no good result. The
earnest labours and devotion of their lives to these duties had been
unavailing, and the attempts to overcome the wild instincts of Indians
were thoroughly unsuccessful. The Judge was of opinion, that, with all
Indians, the desire for a free and savage life, became irrepressible
upon reaching manhood.

On the plains near the river, there were numerous vestiges of native
encampments. At Nauvoo, I was told by a farmer that he opened a great
number of low mounds which were on his land, and had found in them
nothing but broken pottery and charcoal, but in ploughing his fields
he had discovered quantities of arrow heads, and several grooved stone
hammers.[33] Higher up the Mississippi we entered the country once
occupied by the Dakotas, who in the seventeenth century were considered
to be a most brave and powerful tribe, having superstitious customs
and tribal regulations of an unusual nature.

One of their minor methods of warfare was noticed by the early
explorers on the prairies through which we were passing. It was the
custom with wandering bands of this race, if surprised by a larger body
of enemies and thus unable to make an open resistance, to dig wide,
shallow pits, in which they placed the women and children, and obtained
a certain amount of protection for themselves. These excavations were
scooped out with great rapidity, the men and their families using
for this purpose knives, tomahawks and wooden ladles. This method of
digging the ground, may probably have been similar to that adopted by
the Mound Builders in raising their ramparts. War pits were also made
by the Hurons when retreating from the Iroquois. When coasting the
north shore of Lake Superior, I was shown on the map the positions
where several of these places of refuge and defence had been observed.

We saw at night upon the bluffs, the fires of Indian camps; it was
thought probable that these Indians, whose villages were situated far
towards the West, had come to this part of their ancient territory, for
the purpose of performing certain forms of worship before one of the
large detached granite boulders, situated on the plateau near to their
tents. On the following evening, as we steamed slowly through Lake
Pepin, we looked with much interest at the high steep promontory, upon
whose summit the love-distracted maiden Winona[34] sang her death song,
and then leapt from the edge of the cliff and was dashed to pieces on
the rocks below, within sight of her tribe who were assembled near
their tents on the shore.

The Muscatine terminated her long upward voyage against the swift
stream, at the city of St. Paul’s, nineteen hundred and forty-four
miles above the mouth of the river, a few miles below the great falls
of St. Anthony, and near the confluence of the Minnesota. All this
region was at one time, the principal gathering place of the branch of
the Dakotas, called Sioux, and near at hand was the cave where their
annual council meetings took place. To this place were also brought for
burial, the bones and skulls of their dead, whose bodies had previously
been placed upon scaffolds, and exposed to the influences of the winds
and weather.

Upon a bluff overlooking the Mississippi, there are still to be seen a
strange group of large mounds, whose purpose has not been ascertained.
The examination of them has failed to afford the slightest clue by
which any theory or conjecture can be safely established. Soon after my
arrival I went there to examine them with particular attention, for I
had observed certain peculiarities in their shape and position, which
resembled portions of the defensive hill works of the Mound Builders.
Mr. Hill, a member of the Historical Society of St. Paul’s, accompanied
me, and pointed out those mounds which had been opened, and carefully
inspected by competent observers. It has been supposed that they were
the burial places of the Sioux during long periods of time, and it was
hoped that some discoveries would be made of antiquarian importance.

The largest of the mounds was first examined, but nothing was found
in it. There were no signs of burials near the slopes, and at the
base, contrary to expectation, there was not found any indication of a
fire having been made, and there was no charcoal. In another conical
mound, although no bones were seen, there was in the centre a hollow
space which contained several pieces of charred wood. A comparatively
low platform mound was then opened. Two skeletons were found buried
near the surface, but from their position and state of preservation,
they were considered to be late interments; nothing else was found
within. Finally a large mound, situated upon the extreme edge of the
bluff, was thoroughly excavated, and in this there was found, as in
the previously opened conical earthwork, a small hollow space in the
centre. In consequence of these negative results, it was not possible
to form any conclusions as to the object of Indians in raising these
exceptional works. I thought it not improbable that it might have been
their intention to use them, either for raised dwelling places, or for
defensive inclosures which had not been completed.

Their position is almost impregnable; the mounds are not placed
separately but are closely joined together, so that they form a kind
of embankment. The outer slopes are so close to the edge of the cliff,
that they are practically a prolongation of the steep slopes, and thus
present a singular parallel with portions of those embankments of Fort
Ancient which overlook the valley of the Little Miami. The similarity
in the methods of placing the mounds, is made additionally obvious from
the fact, that there are numerous springs issuing from the upper parts
of the bluff, which flow down as rivulets into the river below. There
are altogether fifteen mounds on the top of the promontory; the largest
of them is about twenty feet high.

Upon our return to St. Paul’s, we heard that a band of Sioux had
come into the neighbourhood, and were encamped amongst the woods on
the opposite side of the river. As I wished to see these Indians, I
crossed over to the settlement of Mendota, and after a walk of a few
miles, saw their tents pitched close to the borders of a small lake. I
was greeted with a loud noise of barking from their dogs, who were as
numerous outside the camp of the Sioux as they usually are around the
dwellings of the Kurds in Asia Minor. After overcoming some preliminary
hostile difficulties with these yelping curs, I received a silent and
not pressing welcome from the Indians, who were mostly squaws and
children, the men having gone away temporarily upon some expedition.

It was getting dark, and the women were making preparations for supper.
Good fires were burning brightly in the centre of the wigwams, the
kettles were hung over them, the water was boiling, and the interiors
were cheerful scenes of enjoyment. The life within and without, was
similar to what may be seen in an English gipsy encampment in the New
Forest in Hampshire. There was something singularly attractive in the
habits of life amongst these wandering nomads, and the warmth and
comfort inside the tents, was in pleasing contrast to the cold and
wintry aspect without. This simple and natural state of existence, has
unquestionably a great charm for those whose natures are essentially
Bohemian. It is not surprising that Indian lads, accustomed to this
kind of life, should feel wearied and cramped by the trammels of
civilization. It is natural that they should long to get away from the
confinement and irksome training of school, and return to the freedom
and independence of their savage hunting and wandering instincts.

There lived at the adjacent town of Mendota, a half-bred Indian,
of French and Sioux parentage named Faribault, with whom I became
acquainted. In his youth, he had dwelt with his mother in the
villages of the Sioux, and spoke their language. In manhood, he had
acted as an agent and trader for the tribes, and passed much of his
life in constant communication with them, and possessed an intimate
acquaintance with their superstitions and religious ceremonies. This
kind of direct personal knowledge, can only be obtained by a man whom
the Indians consider as being one of themselves, in consequence of
his having had an Indian mother belonging to their tribe. It was the
custom of the Sioux, when they encamped in this part of the country, to
meet at his house, and several of them happened to be there when I was


[Illustration: SIOUX ENCAMPMENT.]

Faribault, like all Indians, was usually very reticent, but when he
noticed that I took much interest in matters relating to the habits
of his tribe, especially such as were connected with their religious
beliefs and customs, he became frank and outspoken. He told me of his
own various strange personal experiences, and was particularly earnest
when he mentioned some of the most remarkable of the rules relating to
their fasts and sacrifices. The Indians, who were usually standing near
us listening to what he said, would occasionally, from time to time,
signify their assent to his statements by harsh grunts of approval.

Amongst the superstitions mentioned by him, none caused more attention
than those connected with the worship of their Spirit rocks. One of
these, which has always been considered to be an important Manito,
happened to be on the plateau above Mendota, and the Indians directed
me to the spot where it was placed. I found it to be a huge granite
boulder, which had probably been deposited there by the moving waters
or icebergs, during that remote period when they were travelling
southwards from the sub-arctic latitudes. As it had no geological
relation whatever with the sandstone ground upon which it rested, the
Sioux might have conjectured, that it had been dropped from the clouds.
To ignorant savages, unversed in the mysteries and conclusions of
scientific geology, no other explanation could have been satisfactory.
It lies upon a level space of land, upon the top of a bluff, commanding
magnificent views over the valleys of the Mississippi and Minnesota.
The confluence of these great rivers can be seen, and the steep
water-worn cliffs below the falls of St. Anthony.

Whilst standing upon the promontory, and looking at this wide prospect,
I was joined by a priest, who had been fulfilling his duties at a
neighbouring settlement. We remained near the Spirit rock,[35] looking
at the solitary mass of granite, glittering in the sunshine, and
thought that it was not surprising that the Indians believed this
strange rock to be the manifestation of a great unknown power, and
should have invested with supernatural attributes what must have seemed
to them to be marvellous.

The boulder is polygonal in form, and stands about seven feet high
above the ground. In the other dimensions, it averages a thickness from
nine to twelve feet. It is composed chiefly of grey granite, and its
weight must exceed seventy tons. Faribault said that, when he was a
young man, wandering bands of Sioux occasionally came to this Spirit
rock and encamped near it. They usually stopped about a week, but
sometimes during a whole moon. It was their custom during this period
to continually offer sacrifices, dance round the stone, and paint it
with various colours, red, blue or white. Finally, before taking down
their tents, they covered it with their best furs or skins, and left
them there as propitiatory offerings.

[Illustration: SPIRIT ROCK.


The falls of the Mississippi were also worshipped by the Indians,
through whose territories that great river flowed in its upper course,
and the manner in which adoration was made to the Power, which was
manifested in the movements of these cataracts, is well described
by Captain Carver, who visited them with one of the chiefs of the
Winnebagoes in 1767. The chief in the first place, addressed a brief
invocation to the Manito, and then he made his offerings. In this
instance he gave everything he possessed, that was valuable, including
all his ornaments, together with his pipe and roll of tobacco. He
concluded his acts of devotion[36] by asking the Great Spirit to give
them his protection, a bright sun, a blue sky, and untroubled waters.
I visited the spot near which the chief must have stood upon that
occasion. Much had been changed in the succeeding century, but the wild
and tumultuous character of the falls, and the noise and foam caused by
the rushing waters, are still very impressive.

From Mendota I proceeded towards the north-west, in the direction of
the Minnesota as far as Mankato, with the intention of crossing the
prairies southwards towards Nebraska. It was also my purpose to visit
the Winnebagoes at their reservation. This tribe had been removed
from their lands near Lake Michigan, and settled a few miles from
Mankato; but upon my arrival at that town, I was informed that they
had been again removed to a reservation further west, to give room
for the occupation of the land by the numerous emigrants from Europe,
especially those thrifty, hard-working agriculturists, who came from
Sweden and Norway. The new settlements in this part of Minnesota were
still in an alarmed condition, in consequence of the memory of the
massacres that had taken place a few years previously, when the Sioux
rose in rebellion, and committed a grave series of atrocities upon the
white inhabitants.

At the conclusion of the war, thirty-eight of the chief perpetrators
of cruelties upon the unoffending white people, were condemned to
death and were hanged. The events that took place upon that occasion
were described to me by an eye-witness, as having been exceedingly
repulsive, in consequence of the defiant shouts and gestures of the
prisoners. Hanging is a form of execution particularly disliked by
Indians, because they consider that it is ignominious. The war was
caused by a belief, spread among the tribes, that they had been treated
with great injustice. They declared that they were not allowed to
remain in possession of their lands, and that the treaties which had
been made with them, had not been fairly carried out. The savage desire
for revenge was aroused, and barbarous acts were committed by the
Sioux, whilst they were in a state of passionate excitement.

On a terrace overlooking the waters of the Minnesota, close to the
spot where the Sioux had been executed, I met a half-breed Indian, who
was known to have seen some of the unmerciful deeds that had taken
place. I asked him to give me an explanation of the reasons that had
caused the Sioux, most of whom had led peaceful lives, to suddenly
avenge themselves in this brutal manner. He said, that whatever may
have seemed to be their character, all these Dakotas had an inveterate
hatred for the pale faces, who had deprived them of their lands,
their hunting grounds, their freedom, and all that made their lives
tolerable. After a pause, he observed in a harsh angry tone, that the
women and children were killed, because, in cases such as these, it was
a rule with Indians, to not only kill all the men, but also all who
could become men or give birth to men, and that it was their object to
secure the total extermination of their enemies.

I afterwards met, near the lands which had been occupied by the
Winnebagoes, one of those waifs of civilization, who prefer the
adventurous freedom of the Indians to the ordinary forms of existence
among the whites. He was a Virginian by birth, and had left his home at
an early age to join the Apaches, whose hunting grounds were near the
borders of New Mexico. He lived with them for several years, and then,
desiring a change, he had joined a band of Chippewas. He was given by
them the name of Ara-po-gai-sik or Day-Catcher, because he was first
observed when approaching their camp at daybreak. I found him to be a
man of considerable intelligence, and conversant with the habits of the
tribes with whom he had dwelt.

It is unusual to find men of English descent electing, by their own
wish, to entirely live with Indians. It seems to be different as
regards the French or French Canadians, who appear to have certain
instincts in their nature, which enable them to conform readily with
the domestic customs of Indian life.

  The subject of the claims of the Indians to the possession of
  their ancient hunting grounds, was brought to the notice of the
  United States Government during the time I was at Washington,
  after my return from Yucatan in the summer of 1870.

  A large deputation from the Ogallalas, a warlike tribe of
  Sioux, who dwelt on the prairies to the west of the Missouri,
  came to the city for the purpose of making a statement of their
  grievances, with regard to their lands. They declared that the
  treaties concerning them had not been faithfully carried out.

  The deputation consisted of the principal chief, an Indian
  named Red Cloud, who held a great reputation as a brave and
  daring warrior, and with him were Brave Bear, Rocky Bear, Red
  Dog, and other chiefs, who were also well known for their
  courage and fearlessness, which they had shown upon several
  occasions in fights upon the plains. Several men of the tribe
  accompanied them.

  I happened to see those Ogallalas frequently, under various
  circumstances; they had that power, which is characteristic
  with thoroughbred Indians, of assuming when thought necessary,
  a reserved and dignified manner. Red Cloud, especially,
  maintained the deportment consistent with his position as the
  hereditary chief of his nation.

  The speeches delivered by them in the presence of the
  Commissioner of Indian affairs were remarkable as proving
  that they possessed great natural oratorical abilities. The
  description of the events occurring in their territories, and
  the unfair treatment which they considered they had received,
  were expressed with much force and poetical imagination.

  Their appeals were, however, unavailing. It was made clear
  to them, that it was not possible, that small numbers of
  Indians could be permitted to retain possession of extensive
  grounds, to the exclusion of the necessities of an advancing
  civilization, and that they must accept the fate which was
  inevitable, and accustom themselves to be confined within
  reservations of a limited and definite area.

  The Secretary of the Interior, told the Sioux that the existing
  things were changing, and that they might as well try and keep
  back the winds with their hands, as to prevent these changes.

                             CHAPTER VII.

  Prairies in Minnesota and Iowa. — Boulders. — Glacial Drift. —
  Wild Rice. — Snow Storm. — Nebraska. — The Pawnees. — Human
  Sacrifices. — Note on Indian Customs in War and Cannibalism. —
  Prairie Fires. — Prairie-Dog Villages. — Rattlesnakes. —
  Variations in the succession of growths of Trees. — Causes
  of absence of Trees upon Prairies. — Shoshone Indians on the
  Western Deserts. — Note upon Ute Indians and Fuegians.

It was getting late in the year, when I commenced to cross the prairies
of Minnesota and Iowa. The higher plateaux were in many places already
covered with snow, upon which we saw numerous tracks of wolves. The
long icicles upon the graceful little waterfall of the Minne-ha-ha,
indicated the approach of a severe winter, and flocks of wild geese
were flying towards the upper lakes.

For many miles the surface of the land looked black, in consequence
of the prairie fires that had burnt the grass, during the latter part
of the autumn. On the eastern borders, near the rivers, we passed
some scattered villages, chiefly occupied by emigrants of Welsh or
Scandinavian origin; but towards the interior the land was too wet
and exposed for the purposes of cultivation. Here and there, on the
plains, we saw the lonely huts of adventurous squatters, who obtained
a precarious living by supplying the wants of those who passed near
them, on their way towards the South. At one of these dwellings
situated upon the open plain, twenty miles from the nearest village,
we halted after a long journey over a dreary country, forming the
watershed of the streams that flowed east or west into the valleys of
the Missouri and Mississippi.

The hut was occupied by a man, who, with his wife and family, had
been settled in this remote region for several years. As there was no
timber to be obtained in the neighbourhood, he had built the walls of
his house with wide, thick slabs of turf, which made a good protection
against the storms of winter. He possessed one hundred and fifty acres
of land, of which he only cultivated the small portion he had been
able to preserve from the ravages of prairie fires. The difficulty of
guarding the homestead against this danger, had caused him to feel much
anxiety, but he said that he had, at last, discovered an effectual
method of preventing any damage being caused, as far as his crops and
buildings were concerned.

He saw upon one occasion, that the grass was burning on the verge of
the southern horizon, and the flames appeared to be advancing rapidly
in the direction of his farm. It occurred to him to try the plan of
running two plough furrows in parallel lines between the edge of his
land and the approaching fire. He made them about twenty yards apart,
and then burnt the grass, thus leaving a bare space of blackened earth.
The flames advanced upon their onward course, destroying everything
before them until they reached the outer furrow, when they were
stopped by there not being any grass for fuel, and as they could not
leap over the intervening space, the fire passed to the right and left,
leaving the farm in the centre untouched. The prairie around this
squatter’s home, was wild and dreary.

The track led us over a region which had been shaped into hollows and
undulations, caused by the action of numberless streams and rivulets
which had cut their way in all directions. There were also many small
depressions which contained pools of water. We observed in all these
ponds numerous erratic boulders of various sizes. The majority of them
were small, but others were of considerable magnitude, and must have
weighed from fifteen to twenty tons. They were usually composed of
red, green, and dark grey granites, similar to those I had seen on the
surface of the country to the south-west of Lake Superior.

The boulders were usually standing detached on the ground near the edge
of the water, but sometimes they were heaped together in a pile in the
middle of the pond. Upon an examination of the positions of the strange
aggregations of stones which had been moved from their original place
in the north to this plateau, the impression was conveyed to the mind
that these smaller boulders may have been dropped during the period
when icebergs were floating over the land. It seemed to be probable
that some of the icebergs were stranded, and had left on these spots
the cargo they had carried away from higher latitudes.

Upon other parts of the level prairie where the land was dry, there
were many isolated masses standing up in their places upon the
surface, in the same manner as the Spirit rock near Mendota. It was
remarkable that these boulders, which were often very large, were not
embedded in the soil, but appeared to have remained in the positions
in which they had been deposited. Some of the larger ponds contain
quantities of wild aquatic plants, which yield a kind of rice—the same
which was frequently mentioned by the French exploring missionaries in
the seventeenth century—by the name of La Folle Avoine. This wild rice
was gathered by the Dakotas and Chippewas, and stored by them for food
in time of scarcity.

As we approached the boundaries of North Iowa, we found that the
winter had set in earlier than usual, and the prairies were covered
with several inches of snow. The aspect of the country, upon which the
only marks of life were the footprints of animals, was exceedingly
desolate. The horizon was sharply defined by the white edges of the
land against the sky, and the curvature of the earth was thereby made
distinct. The land seemed to fall away from the eye at a distance which
looked very near. On plains of this perfectly level character in these
latitudes, the actual true distance of the horizon—as seen by a person
of average height standing upon the ground—would be about three miles;
but in consequence of the conditions of light upon the surface of the
snow, it appeared to be less, and the borders of the round line of
horizon seemed to confine us within a small circle. This effect was
particularly noticeable when the sun rose and touched the eastern parts
of the curvature, the sky at that time in the morning being clear and

The weather became daily more severe, and at last we had to encounter
a hard gale of wind from the north-west. Suddenly one afternoon, a
sweeping snow storm overtook us, and in a few hours all vestiges of
the track were lost. Our position became perilous, as nothing could be
seen which would help us in the slightest degree as a guide, and enable
us to steer a straight course. The sky was gloomy and dark with snow
clouds, and the prairie was as bare as the open sea.

The night was approaching, and matters were beginning to be serious,
when the coach was stopped by striking against some concealed obstacle,
and the horses swerved round. After gazing upon the fresh snow for
a few seconds, the driver said that it was practically useless to
attempt to follow the track, as it was impossible to make out its
direction. It was evident that there was not the slightest reason for
making any endeavours to follow one way more than any other, and we
had the dangerous prospect before us of having to pass the night under
circumstances of great hardship.

Fortunately it was suggested, that we might try the experiment of
maintaining a line of progress by attending to the point from which
the wind came. It had been observed that, when we were going along the
straight track, the wind was upon the right hand, nearly abeam, and it
was considered possible that if we could manage to keep it upon that
bearing, we ought finally to arrive at our destination. The driver
thought that this plan did not offer much prospect of success, on
account of the scattered boulders and the rough nature of the country.
He however decided to do what was proposed, and started forward. An
unforeseen difficulty soon arose. The horses having no track before
them to follow, kept constantly swerving to the left to avoid the wind,
and it required much skill and energy to keep their heads pointed in
the right direction.

The obstructions we had to encounter, caused us much anxiety, for
we were exposed to a bitterly cold gale, and the storm blew against
us with a severity that was unendurable. It was with no slight
pleasure that, just before the night, we saw upon the verge of the
horizon ahead, the lights of the town where we intended to stop.
When we arrived there, it was found that the roads had become almost
impassable, in consequence of the great depth of the snow that had
fallen in a few hours.

As the prairies of Western Iowa had thus become a vast white
table land, whose ground was hidden from view, I crossed the Missouri
as soon as possible and proceeded to the interior of Nebraska where
the storm had not taken place and the surface of the land was still in
its autumnal condition. I stopped at various places in the valley of
the river Platte and, at one of the newly formed settlements, obtained
convenient quarters in the house of a man who had passed the greatest
part of his life with the Pawnees, a tribe of Indians who have always
been considered to hold an exceptional position with respect to their
religious observances and language.

He had lived in the tents and was well acquainted with their habits
of life, and like all other men whom I had met who had been much
in contact with the Indians, occupying the country west of the
Mississippi, he had been impressed by the reality of their personal
faith in supernatural manifestations of power for good or evil.

I was much interested in ascertaining the existence of certain facts
which seemed to show analogies between these Pawnees and the race who
under the name of Toltecs or Aztecs had migrated from some unknown
country into Mexico. It has not hitherto been explained how it
happened that this tribe who, as far as is known, have always lived
in this region, placed in the centre of the continent, should possess
a language which is absolutely different from that of any other race
of North American Indians, and that they should have been, for a long
period of time, surrounded by powerful tribes with whom they could
never have held any spoken communications. Mr. Albert Gallatin, a
learned American ethnologist, draws attention to their singularly
isolated position. He states that “they speak a language altogether
different from that of the Sioux tribes or of any other Indians known
to us.”[37]

They do not appear to have been a numerous race, for, when their
territories were first explored, it was estimated that, including men,
women and children, their numbers were under seven thousand. At the
time that I passed through the ancient hunting grounds in Nebraska,
their descendants (of whom there were said to be about three thousand)
were gathered together in a reservation north of the Platte. I saw a
few of them near the banks of that river, and some others who had
committed a series of ferocious acts on the plains and had carried
off several scalps. They were captured, imprisoned and condemned to
death. These men were wild-looking savages who stalked restlessly round
the cells in which they were confined like intractable and untameable
animals. Those I saw wandering near the Platte had, for some unknown
reason, dressed themselves in war paint. Their eyes were encircled by
broad bands of red ochre. Their faces were covered with blue stripes
which in their outlines resembled the tattoed lines of the Maoris in
New Zealand.

The natural colour of the Pawnees I met was rather darker than the
skins of the Sioux and Chippewas. The men were of more than the
ordinary stature and were powerfully built. Their heads were broad and
massive and all of them had remarkably high cheek bones.

The early explorers, sent by the Government towards the West, did
not learn much about the superstitions of the native tribes, but it
is mentioned in the Report of the Expedition to the Rocky Mountains
in 1819–20 that the Pawnees, then living near the forks of the river
Loup in the valley of the Platte, had originally a custom, which was
believed to be annual but was no longer followed, of offering a human
sacrifice to the Great Star.

The victim was always a prisoner that had been captured in war.

Mr. James, one of the members of the exploring party, stated that the
star to which the sacrifice was made, was the planet Venus. It is
probable therefore that this ceremony had some connection with the
worship of the sun, as the Indians, who were accurate observers of all
natural events, would have noticed that Venus, both as a morning and
evening star, appeared to govern the movements of the greater light,
and either announced its approach at dawn or followed its departure at

The Pawnees and the Dakotas are the only North American tribes known
to have had the custom of killing human beings, for the purpose of
presenting them to their gods as propitiations in time of distress, or
as thanksgiving offerings after successful wars. The sacrifices made to
their gods of war by the Aztecs were probably introduced into Mexico
by that fierce race. The last human sacrifice offered by the Pawnees
occurred in the year 1837, and in this case it is believed that the
offering was made to the spirit who caused the land to produce fertile

A young girl of fourteen years of age had been captured during a war
with the Sioux, and it was decided that she was to be killed and
sacrificed to this particular Manito. The strange character of the
method of immolation arrests attention. The girl was carefully secured
upon a framework made of light poles, raised a few feet above the
ground. When she was in the right position for the sacrifice, a fire
was kindled beneath, but before the flames had actually begun to
touch her, and precisely at the moment when it was perceived that the
fire was sufficiently strong to begin to burn her, she was suddenly
killed by a flight of arrows.[38] She was then taken down from the
scaffolding and the flesh was cut into small portions and taken away
into the fields, where the blood was sprinkled over certain parts of
the land which had been planted.

[Illustration: SHA-TO-KO (BLUE HAWK). A PAWNEE.]

The fact of a sacrifice so important as that of a girl on the verge of
womanhood being made to the god believed to have power over all matters
relating to the growth of corn and other vegetable produce, proves that
the Pawnees cultivated the earth to a greater extent than other tribes.
Their neighbours, the Dakotas, were more exclusively a hunting race,
and their human sacrifices, as far as has been ascertained by events
that have happened within the past century, were usually made for the
purpose of propitiation in the more solemn forms of Sun worship, or of
appeasing the anger of evil spirits or demons when manifested by storms
of lightning and thunder.

My host told me that during the time he had lived amongst the Pawnees
he had not seen anything in their observances which led him to suppose
that they had any kind of belief in a future state beyond this world,
or in any absolutely over-ruling Power. The few ceremonies performed by
them were apparently propitiations of the various supernatural Manitos
who, they considered, had influence over them either individually or
as a tribe. One of their most frequent practices consisted of offering
incense to them in the form of tobacco smoke, and they invariably
presented it in the same manner by throwing the first whiff upwards
towards the sky, the next downwards to the ground and then to the right
and left. He had also observed that when this act was finished, each
Indian seemed to mutter some brief ejaculation or prayer.

With respect to their superstitions he thought that they were
practically spiritualists, and believed in the presence of unknown and
unseen influences below, above or around them, having each in their own
separate degree powers of good or evil. He mentioned an event which had
happened within his personal observation.

A Pawnee during a violent storm was injured by a flash of lightning.
The tribe were convinced that this misfortune had been inflicted upon
him as a direct punishment for some wrong deed he had committed, or
that he had in some way, by his own conduct incurred the displeasure of
the god of Lightning. As a consequence of this belief, he was avoided,
and compelled to live apart, as a man placed under a curse or malignant

These Pawnees had the reputation of being cruel to their prisoners,
and in that respect had the same usages as the Iroquois who tortured
the captives and then burnt them at the stake.[39] All North American
tribes appear to have similar habits when their savage natures are
aroused by bloodshed and war, but it is also acknowledged by those who
have had an intimate knowledge of them, that under other and milder
conditions, they possess qualities of an affectionate nature, which
are shown in their domestic lives. An event occurred not far from the
settlement which exemplified their attachment to their children.

The only child of a Pawnee and his wife died and was buried in a grave
dug in the open prairie near a spot where a small band of Indians
had temporarily erected their tents. In the grave with the child
were placed all the things which had belonged to her, including her
mocassin shoes, her plate and cup and her trinkets. Her father had in
his possession a good set of sleigh bells, said to be worth seventeen
dollars which he had intended to sell to one of the white men in the
neighbourhood, but after the death of his daughter he said that he was
happy because no one had yet bought his bells, for he was consequently
able to give them to her, and they were put by the child’s side and
buried. The father and mother then built round the grave a wooden fence
to keep the wolves away, as the Pawnees were going to move their tents
to a distant part of the country. This fence was shortly afterwards
destroyed by a prairie fire, and the place of the grave is not now

These fires are becoming less frequent and, when they occur, are
attributable to carelessness. I happened to see one of them sweeping
over the plains near the river Missouri, my position at the time being
at right angles to the line of its direction. A high wind was blowing
from the South-west and the tall grass was bent over in such a manner
that the flames instead of going with the wind towards the North-east,
caught the tops of the grass and consequently travelled steadily to
windward in the teeth of the gale. The smoke rolled away to leeward
in dense clouds and the flames leapt upwards on tongues of fire to
heights of twenty or thirty feet. The movement forward was like that of
the rapidly advancing crest of a breaking wave. I estimated the length
of the front of the fire to be nearly two miles.

[Illustration: PAWNEE WOMAN.]

When wandering over the wide Iowa and Nebraska plains, many problems
present themselves to the mind with regard to their formation and
existing condition. Of these, none are so perplexing to the farmers
as those which relate to the absence of trees. Several theories have
been mooted and many conclusions have been adopted, and thought to be
rational, but as a rule they cannot be accepted as being altogether
satisfactory. One of the most general opinions, is that the treeless
state of the land has been caused by the destructive effects of fire.
Another opinion is that which attributes the greatest counteracting
influence to the nature of the soil.

One of the most careful investigators into this subject was the
accomplished geologist Mr. J. W. Foster, whom I met at Chicago, and
who was at that time President of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science. He told me what had been the results of his
work, and accompanied me to parts of the outlying Illinois prairies,
to examine the character of the earth near the surface. He had, a
short time previously, carried out a series of experiments relating to
the physical geography of the Mississippi valley, and had given his
attention to the composition of the upper formation of the prairies on
both sides of the river.

He had arrived at the conclusion that the absence of trees upon them
was not caused by fires or by the character of the ground, but was the
consequence of the conditions of rainfall, temperature, climate, and
exposure, all acting in a direction opposed to that natural order of
things in which trees would be inclined to flourish.

On the way south from Mankato, I observed that the banks of the Des
Moines river were thickly timbered, and that on the borders of the
various rivulets which had cut their way through the ground to a
considerable depth, there was usually a flourishing growth of trees,
chiefly consisting of oak, black walnut, basswood, and maple varieties.
In all these instances the trees were sheltered, but on the exposed
prairie immediately adjacent the ground was bare, and without a vestige
of any signs of trees or shrubs. In that particular region it seems
therefore probable, that the exposure to gales of wind sweeping over
the plateau, may be the principal cause of trees not being able to take
root and live.

There are, however, other prairies equally bare of timber which are
not so exposed. Upon those situated near the water shed or dividing
ridge of the tributaries of the Missouri and Mississippi, it may be
the quantities of water lying permanently within a few feet below the
surface which prevent any growth taking place. No single theory seems
to explain the facts, but from my own observation, I am inclined to
think that the chief deterring influence is the nature of the soil.[40]

There is an unexplained problem respecting the growth of trees
in certain parts of North America, which has received much local
notice. My attention was directed to the subject when I was in the
neighbourhood of Lake Simcoe in Upper Canada. An Englishman, who had
established a homestead there and made clearings in the forests, told
me he had observed that after the old trees had been felled, new shrubs
and timber of an entirely different character grew up in their place.
There was nothing in the nature of the surrounding woods which, to his
mind, could account for the change, as there were no trees of the class
that had taken root existing in that part of the country.

A similar alteration in the order of succession of forest growths was
reported by the geologists employed by the Government in conducting
the early surveys of Michigan. They stated that large tracts of land,
originally covered with pines, had been succeeded by a second growth
consisting of white birch, aspen, pine and hazel. In this case the
primeval forest had been destroyed by high winds and afterwards burnt.
It was supposed that where clearings had been made by fire, changes
of the above nature occurred, but no suggestions were given as to the
manner in which these new and strange growths established themselves.

Near Ishpeming, I saw that in all cases where forest openings had been
made by the action of fire, luxuriant masses of dense raspberry bushes
occupied the land; and it was said that where the woods were cut down
by the axe bushes of another class, bearing different berries, sprang
up and flourished.

In other parts of the North-west, variations in the succession of
forest trees have been seen to occur; and usually there seems to be
some connection between the type of the new plants and the methods by
which the clearings have been made. As a general rule there are very
few birds to carry seeds or pips from distant regions and therefore
it is possible that in places where the ground has never for many
centuries been previously disturbed and where the thick forest has
been for the first time removed, and sunlight and fresh atmospheric
conditions are admitted upon the land, new circumstances arise which
are favourable to the development of dormant life.[41]

Before leaving the valley of the Platte I made several excursions on
the plains for the purpose of examining two of the most extensive of
those singular groups of mounds which have been called prairie-dog
villages. The largest of them was situated about two hundred miles west
of the Missouri and three miles north of the Platte. It occupied a
space exceeding fifty acres, which was covered by the rounded heaps of
earth and pebbles thrown up by the little marmots when excavating their
burrows. These creatures, when they are sitting on the tops of their
mounds in a watchful attitude keeping a sharp look out around them and
holding their paws before them, resemble a colony of ground squirrels.
When I was at a certain distance from them they maintained continuous
and defiant sounds like the shrill yelps of puppies, but upon a nearer
approach they suddenly disappeared down their holes.

The existence of these isolated groups of burrowing animals, dwelling
together in communities, was made the subject of observation by
the expeditions sent by the United States Government to explore
these regions, and it was reported that it was not unusual to find
rattlesnakes living in the same holes as the prairie dogs. Captain
Stansfield, the leader of one of these exploring parties, stated that
the holes were generally guarded by a rattlesnake, and that when the
hand was about to be thrust into the hole to draw out the prairie dog
which had been shot at, but had got into its burrow, the ominous rattle
of the reptile was heard within.

Twenty years had elapsed since that time, and many changes had taken
place in the conditions of animal life upon these plains. I thrust
my stick down various holes but there were no rattlesnakes in them.
I afterwards heard that in these districts the reptiles, which had
been so numerous, had disappeared. Another group of these village
communities which I examined was placed to the south of the Platte.
Although it covered a comparatively small area it was more fully
tenanted and the dwellings were closer together, each mound almost
touching its neighbour. One of the young occupiers of this village
had been captured and tamed by a squatter living near the settlement
in which I was then stopping. As it rarely happens that the habits of
these marmots can be regularly observed, this creature’s actions were
noticed with great curiosity.

It was the daily habit of this prairie dog to sit for hours upon
its haunches, with its fore-paws held steadily in front of him,
continuously maintaining a careful watch upon everything that was
happening. I observed that although the method of sitting was that
of the squirrel tribe, the shape and appearance of the body was of
a different type, and like that of a large guinea-pig. The most
attractive point about the little animal was its keen manner of keeping
guard like a sentinel. Nothing seemed to escape its vigilance.




When the fact of rattlesnakes living in the same holes as the prairie
dogs was originally made known, there were several theories advanced
upon the subject; but, in the absence of any direct evidence as to
the nature of the apparent alliance or friendship, nothing could be
positively proved. It was however subsequently discovered that young
marmots were occasionally found inside the bodies of rattlesnakes which
had been killed near the mounds. It is therefore probable that the
reptiles used the burrows for their winter residences, after having
expelled the previous inhabitants.

Nothing is more surprising than the effect of the movement of
civilisation westwards upon the number of the animals who were
accustomed to exist upon the prairies. The explorers who passed through
these waste lands in the beginning of the nineteenth century, reported
that the surface of the country, especially near the river Platte, was
often blackened by immense herds of bisons. Fifty years later when I
went over the same ground no buffaloes were to be seen there, and they
no longer frequented that part of Nebraska. The rattlesnakes have also
almost disappeared in consequence of the introduction of animals that
were hostile to them.[42]

The manner by which this destruction of the snake tribe has been
carried out, was brought to my notice when I was crossing Lake Erie.
Near the west shores of the lake there were several islands which had
been infested with reptiles to such an extent as to make it dangerous
for men to land upon them. A resident who had lived for many years upon
the adjacent shore, and who happened to be on board the steamer when we
passed near one of the largest of the islands, told me that in order
to clear the ground a large number of hogs were landed upon it, and
within a short time the island was made perfectly safe. It was observed
that they rushed immediately forward and when close to the snakes they
dropped upon their knees and commenced to devour them with the greatest
avidity. The darting of the fangs upon them did not seem to have the
slightest injurious effect. It is therefore probable that this strange
invulnerability of the hog is due to the thickness of its hide, and the
close stiff bristles which prevent the penetration of the poison.

On the prairies, the explorers mention their having seen, besides
buffaloes, deer, hares, wolves, eagles, buzzards and ravens. I saw
several herds of antelopes and a few wolves: one of them belonging to
the coyote species was observed in the evening to be prowling round
the huts of settlers at the forks of the Platte. It was caught and
forthwith dispatched. It was a good sized wolf with a thick coat of
shaggy iron-grey hair and looked fierce and savage. On the banks of
the southern branch of the river near this spot I joined an American
companion in an expedition to look for prairie grouse. We found them
amongst the brushwood in considerable numbers, but the birds were wild
and it was difficult to get within range of them. The Platte at this
part was nearly three thousand feet above the sea.

On the desert, at a height of seven thousand feet, I saw antelopes
grazing upon the prairie grass which was growing abundantly and
afforded ample supplies of food for them. Wolves were also on these
plains skulking in the vicinity doubtless hoping to appease their
hunger before many hours had elapsed. These wide and lofty table lands
were the ancient hunting grounds of the Dakotas and Cheyennes.

It was getting late upon a fine winter’s evening when our coach crossed
the brow of a hill and we caught sight of the calm blue waters of the
Great Salt Lake surrounded by snow-covered mountains. It was a quiet
scene of singular beauty. The skies were brilliant with the glowing
effects caused by the rays of the declining sun. It was nearly dark
when we arrived at the City of the Mormons and our horses were pulled
up at the door of an attractive little inn which Brigham Young had
provided for the accommodation of strangers.

After quitting the prosperous lands of Utah on my way to California
I stopped in the centre of that part of the American desert situated
near the borders of Oregon and bounded on the west by the ranges of the
Sierra Nevada. It was my object to visit a tribe of Shoshones who were
then encamped in the neighbourhood. I found them dwelling on a dreary
and exposed plateau in the midst of a region covered with small black
volcanic stones and fragments (or flakes) of obsidian, with which an
old arrow head maker was busily engaged fashioning the rude weapons
required by the tribe. It was the middle of December. The winter was
cold, and the country around looked bleak and desolate.

The Indians were in wigwams made of saplings or withies, bent over
in such a manner as to form the shape of a semi-circle or a low
rounded beehive. They resembled, in their construction and size, the
temporary huts used by wandering bands of Chippewas upon the shores of
Lake Superior. The interiors of these rude and miserable lodges were
not inviting. Squalor, dirt and gloom were present to the eye, and
influenced the mind.


The men differed to some extent from all other Indians that I had seen,
and were in appearance like the Asiatics in the southern Provinces
of China, and had not the massive heads and aquiline features of the
Dakotas or Pawnees; they were also of a more debased type. This,
however, may have been the result of many centuries of struggles
against starvation and exposure to the severe weather that must be
experienced in the deserts upon which they wander. Outside the main
part of the encampment there was a small group of wigwams, which I
found to be occupied by Utes, a tribe even more degraded and wretched
than the Shoshones.

The Utes, or Digger Indians, have always been considered to be the
lowest in civilization of all the American tribes. It has been thought
that they may be the descendants of outcasts, but this opinion does not
seem to be based upon sufficient evidence. There are good reasons for
believing that they are allied in race and language with the Shoshones,
and they are apparently treated by them on terms of friendship and

The Diggers have been given that name in consequence of it being
their custom to live chiefly upon roots, or whatever other food they
can obtain by digging. They also find a scanty support from grass,
seeds and locusts. They have been occasionally met wandering in Utah
in a naked and half-starved condition. It is not possible to imagine
human beings to be in a lower or more harsh state of existence. Misery
and want do not however appear to influence the natural buoyancy and
cheerfulness of these nomads. Possibly their freedom, the constant
occupation of searching the hills and deserts for subsistence, and
their unconstrained life, give them compensation for the hardships that
they are forced to endure.

  There is only one other race that I have seen living under
  similar conditions of continuous want and wretchedness, with
  whom the struggles for bare existence are equally severe.

  That unfortunate people are the Fuegians, who wander in search
  of food upon the rugged coasts of Tierra del Fuego.

  When passing through the Straits of Magellan in H.M.S. Pearl
  in January, 1877, we saw several families of the natives in
  Churruca Bay occupying wretched wigwams, placed close to the
  water’s edge.

  Some of them embarked in their canoes and came alongside to ask
  for food and tobacco. They appeared to be in a half-starved
  and emaciated state, and were sustaining life upon mussel and
  edible roots. The medical officers of the ship measured the
  men, as I wished to ascertain their size and weight as compared
  with the Patagonians dwelling upon the opposite shores of the
  Straits. It was found that the height of these Fuegians was
  between four feet nine inches and five feet two inches. The
  average stature was under five feet. The measurements round
  the chest were comparatively large, being thirty-four to
  thirty-five inches.

  We afterwards anchored in Gregory Bay, Patagonia. As soon as we
  were observed, a numerous tribe of Patagonians rode down to the
  beach, and pitched their tents opposite the ship. Several of
  the chiefs came on board and subsequently allowed themselves to
  be weighed and measured.

  It was ascertained that their average height was five feet
  eleven inches, and their chest measurements averaged forty-four
  inches. Their weights averaged two hundred and thirty-two

  The contrast in the physical condition between the Patagonians
  and Fuegians is extraordinary when it is considered that only a
  narrow channel of water, easily traversed by canoes, separates
  them. It is probable that the Utes, Shoshones and Fuegians
  may have been forced by adverse circumstances to retreat to
  the inhospitable regions in which they live. No race would
  willingly accept or undergo such unchangeable hardships.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

  North American Indians. — Diversity of Languages. — The
  Iroquois. — Dialects. — Descent of Iroquois chiefs through the
  female line. — Pagan Indians. — Belief in a Great Spirit. —
  Ceremonies. — Dakotas. — Superstitions. — Dreams. — Fasts. —
  Sun worship. — Medicine men. — Customs of mourning by widows. —
  Supernatural influences. — Lightning. — Transmigration. —
  Worship of Spirit rocks. — Serpent worship. — Human sacrifices. —
  Burial customs. — Method of curing sickness by steam. — Note
  upon analogies between the customs of the Indians, Maoris, and
  the natives of the Sandwich Islands.

It is expedient with respect to the condition of the North American
Indians, to take into consideration some of the circumstances relating
to their languages, customs, and superstitions; particularly such of
them as may appear to have remote analogies with the observances of
other races, or with the more advanced state of civilisation that
existed in the fifteenth century, among the tribes who had conquered
the aboriginal inhabitants of Mexico, Central America, and Yucatan.
It is also especially necessary that a brief investigation should
be directed to certain exceptional forms of the Indian faith in the
influence and power of the unknown gods by whom the Dakotas believed
themselves to be surrounded and who were propitiated by acts of severe
personal suffering and penance.

In the Northern continent there are two principal facts which attract
the attention of those who are thrown into contact with the Iroquois,
Chippewas and Dakotas. The first of these which comes under notice
is the extraordinary number and diversity of their languages, and
afterwards, upon a more extended acquaintance with the customs of these
Indians, the strange and most grave nature of the higher character of
their ancient religion. With regard to the differences of the languages
my attention was first called to this circumstance by M. Cuoq, who,
when I visited the Missionary establishment upon the shores of the “Lac
des deux Montagnes” in Canada, was in charge of the converts. M. Cuoq
was a learned philologist and had published a volume of studies upon
the Indian languages.[43]

The assemblage of Roman Catholic converts brought together at the
Mission was composed of two tribes, who spoke different languages
which were so absolutely distinct that they were unable to converse
with each other. One of these groups were Algonquins, whose ancestors
originally dwelt to the north of the St. Lawrence, the other was formed
from the Iroquois who came from territories bordering upon the southern
banks of that river. M. Cuoq, when conducting the religious services,
preached to them in their own languages alternately. It is not
surprising that these scattered remnants of the two great tribes whose
languages were radically dissimilar should still (although they have
lived as neighbours for several generations) be unable to understand
each other. It is, however, a different matter when the conditions
are considered under which the original Iroquois language has become
changed into the six languages spoken by the Senecas, Oneidas,
Cayugas, Onondagas, Mohawks and Tuscaroras. The extraordinary manner
in which the Iroquois language has thus become separated is especially
noticeable at the Canadian reservation of those tribes situated near
the banks of the Grand River.

According to the traditions of the Iroquois it appears that the nations
were composed originally of one large tribe, all of whom spoke one
language, and that they dwelt on the southern shores of Lake Ontario.
It is stated that they became too numerous for the land which they
occupied, and a great council was held to consider what steps should
be taken to establish themselves in such a manner as to have hunting
grounds sufficiently extensive to enable them to obtain supplies
of food. After long discussion it was decided to disperse and to
divide into communities. But, in order to prevent disaster from the
possibility of being conquered by their enemies when thus separated,
it was arranged that they should dwell near each other and thus be
able to unite for the purpose of war. It happened, in consequence of
this dispersion, that the language gradually became so greatly changed
that the tribes were unable to understand each other, and in a period
comparatively brief, six distinct dialects were formed which in the
course of time became practically new languages.

When these Iroquois, who had been our allies in war, were gathered
together and placed upon lands within the Canadian frontier, it was
found expedient by them to make one of the dialects a language, which
might be so far understood by the six nations, as to be employed upon
all occasions when they had to perform their ceremonies, or carry out
any purposes which they had in common.

Upon the occasion of my visit to their reservation, I was accompanied
by two Indians respectively of the Seneca and Cayuga tribes, both
of whom spoke English intelligibly. I asked the Seneca what was the
dialect they had chosen to be their language when the Iroquois were
assembled together. He replied, that it was the Cayuga, because
they believed it was the original language which had been spoken by
all of them, and the six nations at the Grand River had learnt it
sufficiently to enable them to understand what was said when they met
at the Council house, but, for all ordinary purposes, and amongst
themselves, each nation spoke its own dialect. With reference to this
subject of variations in language, it is evident that amongst the
North American Indians, who are scattered over such a large extent of
country, the differences in the spoken tongues of the tribes must,
in many instances, be caused by the fact of there being no written
language, and of their being divided into races, kept apart by wars.
It is therefore to be expected that great changes would occur within
comparatively short intervals of time. With tribes originally belonging
to one nation, these would rapidly become formed into dialects
according to the manner in which the tribes moved into other hunting
grounds, and became settled into distinct tribal groups. But after
making all due allowances for these conditions, it still remains
difficult to understand how so great a number of languages have become
established amongst a comparatively small population. At no time, since
the discovery of America, have the total numbers of Indians within the
regions now forming the United States, exceeded five hundred thousand
men, women and children. In 1829, it was estimated that the Indian
population slightly exceeded three hundred and thirteen thousand. In
1850, according to the census, the total numbers were four hundred

The most remarkable fact with regard to the Iroquois tribes is that,
after having had one original language, they should have become
unintelligible to each other, although they lived in close proximity.
Their territories were within the limits now occupied by the State
of New York. With the Dakotas and Chippewas, whose territories are
adjacent, the conditions are different, for these languages have no
relation with each other, and the most careful researches have failed
to trace any connection between them. The Chippewa dialect belongs to
the group of languages classified as Algonquin. Dialects belonging to
that original stock are spoken by the Chippewas, Ottawas, Illinois,
Shawnees, and all the New England tribes. The Dakota language is at
present known to be spoken in thirteen principal dialects, and several
sub-divisions. The Iroquois is exclusively confined to the six dialects
spoken by the six nations assembled in their reservations.

The history of the dispersion of this race seems to establish the fact
that Indian languages can, within a comparatively short period, be so
greatly altered as to become practically distinct. This has happened
with a nation whose separated tribes have always remained at peace with
each other and have united for common defence, or for the prosecution
of a war against powerful enemies. With savage nations whose original
languages are essentially dissimilar, the constant wars which take
place between them possibly introduce elements of change which would
influence very considerably the spoken dialects of the opposing tribes.
It was a frequent custom after the conclusion of hostilities for the
conquerors to incorporate in their tribe the women and children of
those whom they had vanquished. Thus a new dialect would be introduced
amongst them, and the two languages would necessarily become blended. A
succession of wars would cause a continuance of variations of language,
and thus it would gradually come to pass that dialects would be formed
not only greatly differing from each other, but most difficult to trace
to any positive origin.

The Iroquois were not only exceptional in having a fixed system of
confederation which enabled them to combine their forces in a manner
which increased their fighting strength, but they also had special
customs with regard to their chiefs. It was established amongst them
as an unalterable regulation that their hereditary descent should be
in the female line. This unusual system has attracted much attention.
When I was at their reservation I asked my Indian companions for an
explanation of the manner in which this was carried into effect in
ordinary practice, for it seemed to involve difficulties with regard to
intermarriage between the respective nations, and I wished to hear some
direct evidence upon that subject.

The Seneca said: “Our children always take the rank of their mothers
and join their tribe; thus I, a Seneca, not a chief, married a Cayuga
woman the daughter of a chief and my son is therefore a Cayuga and
will be a chief of the Cayugas.” Another Indian said: “I live with the
Cayugas and my father was a Cayuga, but I am an Onondaga because my
mother was an Onondaga woman.”

Whilst I was talking with these men, and passing through the villages
of the Oneidas, Senecas and Tuscaroras, I observed that there was no
church or any building set apart for religious purposes and I asked
the Seneca how this happened, as in the other Iroquois reservations
that I had seen, the church usually was in a prominent position near
the centre of the settlement. He said that I was amongst men who were
called Pagan Indians, and that the Grand River Iroquois were divided
into two classes, Christians and Pagans. The former were settled upon a
part of the lands a few miles distant. He also told me that they always
kept themselves distinct from the converts, and were careful to follow
their ancient belief and maintain, as far as possible, the ceremonies
and religious customs of their ancestors.

I asked a Cayuga, who had joined us, and who was one of the leading men
of his tribe, if he would tell me to what extent, and in what form,
their Pagan worship was practised. I also mentioned, that I wished for
information with regard to the Iroquois belief in a Supreme Being.
It was ascertained by the Jesuit missionaries, that a belief in one
over-ruling Power was found to exist among them, and in this respect
they differed from all other American Indians, with whom it seemed
to be conclusively ascertained, that their worship only consisted of
propitiations of the various powers that they believed had influence
for good or evil in connection with matters around them. It was found
by the priests, that the chief obstacle in enabling the savages to
comprehend the meaning of their teaching, was the want of capacity
in the minds of the Indians to understand the nature of a Power who
controlled all movements of the heavens and earth. It was consequently
interesting to meet an Indian who could intelligently explain this
unusual peculiarity of the Iroquois belief.

This Cayuga, in reply to my questions, said, “We all believe in the
Great Spirit whom we call How-wan-ni-yu, and we have four feasts in
every year made to him. Those at the New Year and at the Harvest time
are the greatest. We meet at the Long House[45] dressed, as was the
custom in former times, with skins and feathers, and have our faces
painted. In the middle of the room we place our offerings of wheat,
fruit, tobacco, and flesh, according to what we can give, and the
season of the year. Round this pile of offerings we have a dance. After
this is over, our principal chief makes a speech and tells us about the
goodness and nature of How-wan-ni-yu. Then we have another dance, after
which another chief makes a speech, and so on, until all the speeches
are finished. Then all the offerings are divided amongst us and the
meeting ends.”

I asked the Indians if they had any other kind of worship or prayer.
They said they had nothing more, and that the dance to How-wan-ni-yu
was not considered by them to be a prayer, but was meant as an
acknowledgment of the goodness of the harvest. I found a difficulty
in obtaining from these Iroquois any definite opinion with regard to
their ideas of the nature of How-wan-ni-yu, but at last the Cayuga
said abruptly: “We consider him to be the maker of all things upon
the earth, and we know nothing more about the matter.” There were,
originally, various ceremonies performed by the tribes in connection
with the appearance of the first new moon of the year, and there
were also tribal dances after any success in hunting or in war, but
these are no longer performed. One of the new moon ceremonies was the
sacrifice of a dog by fire, and the ashes were scattered over the
ground as an offering.

Upon leaving the reservation, it was not possible to feel otherwise
than regret that it had become the fate of the descendants of a
powerful nation of warriors to be penned within these restricted
limits. Men, women and children, were leading aimless and useless
lives. They were pensioners upon Governments which would gladly escape
from the duties and expenses which the existence of these Indians
demand, and who are, in many cases, victims to the temptations offered
to them by the habits of modern civilisation.[46]

The Dakotas and the Iroquois have always been considered as the most
powerful and warlike of the aboriginal races of North America. Both of
these tribes also possessed, certain religious customs relating to the
mental and physical training of their youthful warriors, which were
intended to strengthen their characters, and to give them the power to
endure privations and suffering with fortitude. The Dakotas carried
into effect their observances to an extent far beyond that of any other
race. Their superstitions and religious ceremonies, with reference
to this system of preparing the foundations for the establishment of
the qualities required to enable a Dakota to fulfil his duties as a
courageous and honourable member of his tribe, are most characteristic,
and appear to be invaluable elements in the formation of the qualities
required by a race dwelling in wild and desolate lands, surrounded
by enemies. It was an invariable rule with all the Dakotas, that the
youths upon reaching manhood, should pass through a probationary
period of fasting. This was done for the purpose of enabling each
young Dakota to obtain a knowledge of the spiritual world by which he
was surrounded, and to learn, by the revelations that would be made
to him in dreams, the nature of the Manito which would influence his
thoughts and actions during his life. The fasts were always performed
in solitude, far away from the tribe, and frequently continued for a
considerable time. It was supposed that towards the latter part of this
probation, his dreams would give him an insight into the mysterious
conditions of life and nature that appeared to be supernatural, and
that he would discover the god, animal or other object to which he was
especially linked and which he was to propitiate by sacrifices.

It was an essential part of this early endurance of trial and
abstinence, that it not only should be performed in secret, but that
for the remainder of his life the Indian should hold his faith in
silence, and never communicate to others what his dreams had revealed
to him. Thus far this early initiation into the mysteries of the
unknown world had practically the effect of establishing the mental
character, and was a form of training which impressed upon each Indian
a separate individuality. Upon the conclusion of the probation of
fasting and solitude, the youths had each to pass through trials of
their physical endurance, and had to suffer various tortures to prove
themselves to be capable of becoming warriors, and to show their
manhood by their power of bearing pain with unflinching fortitude.

When I was in that part of the continent which for long periods of
time had been occupied by the branch of the Dakota race called Sioux,
I endeavoured to ascertain the nature and practice of these customs as
far as they were known by the existing Indians. In prosecuting these
researches into a subject so interesting and exclusive, I was fortunate
in meeting with a man so well informed upon all matters connected
with these Indians as the half-breed Faribault. He had lived with the
Sioux for many years at the time when they had possession of lands
bordering upon the banks of the Mississippi, and had been present, on
several occasions, when their most serious superstitious ceremonies
were performed. Amongst these were the propitiations made to the sun, a
form of worship which was more rigidly and earnestly practised by the
Dakotas than by any other nation in North America.

Sun worship existed amongst all the Indian tribes dwelling in the
Mississippi valley, particularly with the Natchez in Louisiana, but
the manner and the ceremonies differed, and with none of them were the
painful personal sufferings and penances, undergone by the worshippers,
so great as they were with the Dakotas. An instance of the severity
of this penance occurred in the year 1849, when Faribault was living
with a Sioux tribe encamped on the western shores of the Mississippi,
near Prairie la Crosse. “An Indian,” he said, “dreamt that he had
incurred the displeasure of the Great Spirit, and that it was necessary
to appease him by sacrificing to him everything that he valued, and
also to perform penance by undergoing the utmost pain that he was
able to endure. A scaffolding was raised near the camp, consisting of
two upright poles—of sufficient length—which were firmly fixed in the
ground. These were connected near the top by a cross pole. When this
was completed the Indian stood up and, shortly before daybreak, a cut
was made within the fleshy parts of each arm near the shoulders through
which was passed a rope. Cuts or holes were then made in the breasts
and other ropes were pushed through them. The cords were then tied to
the stakes in such a manner that the arms were suspended by them. The
breast ropes were secured in a position such as to allow that a certain
portion of the man’s weight was held by them. His feet were allowed
just to touch the ground. His dog was killed and placed in front of
him together with his blanket, cut into strips, his feathers, his
ornaments, and all that he possessed.

“When these preparations were made the Indian waited for the rising
of the sun, and directly it appeared above the eastern horizon he
threw his head back and fixing his gaze upon it commenced dancing. His
friends at the same time maintained an incessant beating of a small
drum. The dancing continued throughout the day, the Indian moving his
position as the sun moved and taking care always to keep the sun in his
front and to gaze steadfastly upon it without shrinking from its full
light. After sunset he remained watching the western sky throughout the
night. In the morning he turned round towards the dawn and when the sun
appeared, was immediately cut down from the scaffold and fell exhausted
upon the ground.”

This act of sun worship is frequently performed, and the Sioux firmly
believe that if they do not obey the dream which points out to them
this duty, serious misfortunes will happen to them and their families.
Instances have been known of men being able to endure long periods of
torture, and young Indians, when passing through the early trials of
their strength, will frequently remain for hours entirely suspended
by ropes rove through their flesh. It is not possible to estimate the
actual personal suffering thus inflicted upon themselves by these
North American Indians, by the standard of what would be felt by more
sensitive and more highly organised races. I have seen Chinamen endure
with stolid indifference, tortures that would cause Europeans to feel
the utmost agony.[47]

The Dakotas had another form of sun worship, which is still practised
by some of the tribes in the West, but which appears to be chiefly
intended as a tribal thanksgiving or rejoicing. A pole is raised in
the centre of the encampment and upon it are placed figures of birds,
beasts and reptiles. The Indians dance round this pole during the day
taking care to keep their faces towards the sun. Shortly before sunset
the figures are shot at until they have all fallen upon the ground.
After this there is another dance which ends when the sun sinks below
the horizon. The ceremony is then concluded.

Sickness is, with the Dakotas as with the Pawnees, considered to have
been sent as a punishment for some wrong deed that has been committed
either by an individual or by the tribe. I was told by Faribault that
whenever a Sioux found that he was suffering from illness he sent for
the medicine man,[48] who, upon his arrival, would immediately proceed
to ascertain what evil act the patient had done, and would then take
the requisite measures to drive out the evil spirit representing the
nature of the offence. It is assumed that the offence committed by
the sick person has some reference to a man, woman or animal. The
medicine man, who pretends to have the power of second-sight, looks
steadily at the patient, until he declares that he can see the inner
demon that torments him. After certain incantations, he makes out
of clay an image of the creature which is causing the sickness, and
then shoots at it until it is shattered. It is expected that this act
will cause the devil to depart. If this method of cure fails, other
images are made, as it is then assumed that more than one evil deed
has been perpetrated. Finally, if all these remedies are unsuccessful
it is pronounced that the patient must perform a penance. This usually
consists of a long fast, and is considered to be a personal matter
strictly confined to the relations that exist between the Indian and
the Manito under whose guidance he believes himself to be, and which
has been ascertained during the period of the great fast performed in
his youth.

It was the custom with the Sioux, whenever the head of the household
died, for the women to mourn for a year. One of their chiefs had died
a few years before I was at Mendota, and Faribault, who had known him
intimately, went to the settlement to see the widow. He found her
engaged in the occupation of cutting deep gashes in her arms and legs.
She had, in her hand a rounded scalping knife and with this weapon
she was striking herself and inflicting wounds from which blood was
flowing. All the furniture and mats had been removed from the tepee or
tent, and she was sitting upon the earth. At the conclusion of the time
of mourning it is usual for the women to go to their friends or join
some other household, and the old tepee is then thrown down and left in
a heap upon the ground.

At the time that Faribault was speaking about these customs, there
were present several Sioux, who had come from their encampment, and
were listening to him. When he had finished his narrative, I took the
opportunity of asking these men some questions about the belief of
the Sioux, with respect to lightning and thunder, as I had heard that
the Dakotas held some especial opinions upon these manifestations of
supernatural power. One of the beliefs attributed to them was that
lightning was a stone, and it was difficult to understand what could be
their reason for holding such a strange belief. They said, in answer
to my question, that lightning was certainly a stone, and that they
knew it was so because they had seen it, and it was very hard and like
a rock. Possibly the Indians had seen the fall of some aerolites, or
they may have observed the effects of lightning after it had struck the
earth. They state, that sometimes a small hot stone is found near the
roots of a tree that has been injured by a flash of lightning.

I asked Faribault, whether any of the tribes with whom he had
lived, appeared to have any belief in one supreme Great Spirit. He
replied, that, as far as he had been able to judge of this matter,
the Sioux held this belief vaguely, but, that it did not influence
their actions. The Dakotas have a Pagan custom of investing animals,
hills, mountains, and all remarkable natural manifestations of
unknown powers with especial spirits of good or evil influence, each
demanding different forms of worship and propitiation. They have
also—under certain conditions—a belief in the transmigration of souls
into animals. They consider that this takes place when an Indian has
been guilty of some act of cowardice or treachery. In such a case,
his spirit is supposed, after death, to go into some animal or to
take its form, and then it is sometimes believed that it haunts the
neighbourhood of the camp. The superstitious nature of the Sioux is
often strangely affected by traditions respecting these wandering
spirits, and when under this influence, it is said by the half-breeds
living amongst them, that they seem to possess the power of seeing
supernatural things.

There was an instance of this mentioned as having occurred a few years
previously. A Sioux died: it was known that he had dreamed that, after
his death, he would enter the body of a bear, and would then wander
round the tents of the tribe. After his death, an Indian looked out
at daybreak, and declared that he saw upon an opposite hill a large
grey bear. Upon hearing this rumour the tribe assembled, and many of
the men imagined that they saw it. After this appearance there was a
universal dread of the bear. It was frequently seen, and the Indians
were careful to avoid meeting it. During the time that the tribe were
encamped in this part of the country, south of the Minnesota, the bear
was occasionally seen prowling over the hills. One of the chiefs was
asked by a white man, who was trading with this tribe, why it was not
killed, and he was told, that it was because it contained the spirit
of a dead brother. There was no doubt in the minds of the Indians
about the reality of the vision. They were positive in declaring that
they saw the bear, and would point it out to the half-breeds staying
in the camp, who could never see it. This power of seeing what is to
other men unseen, is stated to be possessed by many of the Dakotas, and
is probably, in a great measure, due to a highly sensitive condition
of mind, caused by their long periods of self-imposed abstinence.
Faribault said, that Sioux, when travelling the country, will
suddenly start and tremble, and point to something not visible to the
half-breeds, and declare that they see the form of the spirit that they

The dreams and fasts of the Dakotas, and the time passed by them
in solitude, explain much that is strange and exceptional in their
nature. It is thus intelligible how it happens, that the young Indians
have such an earnest and vivid belief in the spiritual nature of the
unknown and mysterious world, and that they invest with supernatural
attributes the mysterious powers which surround them. It must seem
natural to them, that thunder and lightning, sun, moon, mountains, and
rivers, should be considered as manifestations of powerful spirits,
that require to receive worship and sacrifice. What, however, is not
so obvious, is the cause which impels them to worship large rocks and
stones, which cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be supposed
to possess active powers of good or evil. Upon this subject I asked
the Indians for their explanation, saying, that I supposed they did not
directly worship a stone, such as that near Mendota, but the spirit who
had placed it there. Faribault said, that this worship also followed
upon dreams, and the Indians, who were present, concurred in his
statement. It sometimes happens that a Sioux, in his dream, instead of
seeing the image of the sun or some animal, will see nothing but one of
these large Spirit rocks. It is thus conveyed to his mind, that this is
his god, by which his actions and fate are to be governed during his
life, and to whom he must offer sacrifices.

The whole tribe will occasionally take part in the worship of a
boulder.[49] A dreamer, usually in this case, a man who is supposed to
be gifted with prophetic power, dreams that it has become necessary to
propitiate some unknown spirit. Then if he afterwards dreams of one of
these boulders he acquaints the tribe with the nature of his dream, and
the camp is immediately moved to the neighbourhood of the particular
stone that is to receive sacrifices. This worship of Spirit rocks
continues to take place. There is a large rounded mass of granite on
the west bank of the Mississippi, lying upon the prairie a few miles
below Lake Pepin, which is still visited by wandering bands of Sioux.
It had been painted a bright red colour. When passing near the spot
where it was situated, I saw the fires of the encampment of Indians who
had come there to perform their ceremonies.

Amongst the various superstitious customs of the Dakotas, none are
more singular than those which are related to serpent worship, and I
listened with attention to the opinions of the Sioux upon this subject.
They said that with serpents, as with other animals, the sacrifices
made to them were entirely a personal matter, depending upon the
nature of the dreams and upon the special kind of affinity that an
Indian might believe himself to possess with them. With regard to
rattlesnakes the methods of propitiation varied, for it happens that
some of the men of a tribe find that they have a power of fascination
over these reptiles. Others are aware of a feeling of dread of them,
and consequently act differently. Usually a snake worshipper, upon
meeting a rattlesnake, carefully clears and smooths the ground and
places upon it his offering. He then fills his pipe with tobacco,
lights it and turns the mouth-piece towards the snake, holding the bowl
in his hands. He then makes his request.[50] But, said the Sioux, these
things are done in secret and very little is known about them. Each
Indian, especially concerned, knows how and in what manner to offer his

There is necessarily a difficulty in comprehending the depth or extent
of the belief in the supernatural powers of the gods ruling over them,
as understood and acted upon by ignorant and savage natures, such as
the Dakotas, whose opinions have been formed after they have undergone
long periods of fasting and suffering. An event occurred in a tribe
then dwelling near the banks of the Minnesota, which proved that these
Indians believed that their gods took a direct part in the government
of the world beneath them, and manifested their anger by punishing
those men who had offended them, unless a sufficient sacrifice was made
as a propitiation. This event was reported in the year 1852, by Mr.
Prescott, who was residing amongst the Sioux.

His letter ran as follows:—

                                     “St. Peters, _January_ 26, 1852.


  “I mentioned an instance of human sacrifice amongst the Sioux,
  but I did not know for what cause at the time, but since I have
  found out the cause of the sacrifice.

  “There came up a terrible thunder-storm. The lightning was
  flashing and falling in every direction about the Indian’s
  lodge, and the Indian thought the lightning or thunder was
  angry with him, and was about to kill him; so the Indian took
  his gun and shot his own son, and offered him as a sacrifice to
  the thunder, to save his own life.”[51]

Amongst the Indian races occupying the Northern American continent,
the Dakotas and the Pawnees are the only tribes who are known to have
had the custom of sacrificing human beings to their gods. It is of
importance to remark that these two races dwelt in neighbouring lands,
and had customs which point to analogies with the Toltecs and Aztecs,
in Southern Mexico, and the Mound Builders in Ohio. With the Dakotas
human sacrifices were the greatest of the propitiations to their angry
gods. It was known that Faribault had dwelt with a tribe of the Sioux
upon an occasion when one of these sacrifices occurred, and I asked
him to give me a detailed account of the proceedings that then took
place, for cases of that serious nature rarely happen, although some
centuries earlier, when tribal wars were frequent and perilous, it may
be conjectured that they were numerous.

Faribault said that, at the time when this human sacrifice occurred,
he was living with a band of Sioux belonging to the Sissiton tribe,
and they were encamped near the west shores of Lake Pepin. “They
had come to the conclusion that, for some reason which they did not
comprehend, a curse was upon them. Everything seemed to go wrong. Game
was scarce and hard to kill, and there was much distress and sickness.
Fastings and the usual sacrifices seemed to be of no avail, and nothing
removed the evil influences which surrounded them. Finally an Indian,
not a chief, but a man who was an orator and a prophet, had it made
known to him by a dream what propitiation was required. This man had
three daughters. The youngest of them was twelve years old; she was a
beautiful child and her father’s favourite. He dreamt that, to appease
the Great Spirit, it was necessary to sacrifice this child. In the
morning before sunrise, he awoke the girl and told her to go out of
the tent, wash herself and then put on her best dress and all her
ornaments. He then called the tribe together and told them his dream.
When they had heard what he declared they removed the tents to an
adjacent camping ground and remained there until he joined them. He was
then left alone with his daughter. He told her that in his dream he had
seen the Great Spirit who had commanded that she should be sacrificed.
His daughter accordingly stood up, and facing the sun, began to sing
her death song, which was a kind of hymn. At noon, when the sun had
risen to its highest point in the sky, he killed her.”

The Sioux stated that after this sacrifice everything prospered,
sickness ceased, game became abundant and all went well with the

The burial customs of the Dakotas were, in several respects,
distinctive. The dead were placed upon an open framework or
scaffolding, which, when the tribes were encamped upon the prairies,
was raised a sufficient height above the ground to be out of the reach
of wolves. Ultimately the bones were taken to the tribal burial places.
It is not improbable that the Mound Builders had similar usages.[53]

The Sacs and Foxes who dwelt on the lands near the southern borders of
a part of the Dakota territories had different customs. Judge Williams
told me that, when he was residing amongst them, it was their practice,
when burying a man, to fix two upright posts. The body was placed in
a sitting position on the surface of the ground with the back resting
against one of the posts, and the feet touching the other. It was then
covered over with earth.

The methods followed by the Dakotas and Chippewas in curing illness by
the use of steam appear to be of very ancient origin, and evidently are
the same as those that were described by Clavigero as being practised
by the Aztecs in the towns of Mexico. They are also adopted by the
Shoshones in the deserts of Utah. Amongst the Dakotas a low circular
wigwam is made about four feet high. The frame is usually covered
with buffalo skins in such a manner that no steam can escape. A small
opening is left through which the patient can crawl in. In the interior
of the wigwam some sand is put upon the ground. Stones which have been
heated by fire are then pushed in under the wigwam and placed upon this
sand, together with a jar of water. The patient then pours the water
upon the stones until the interior is filled with vapour or steam.

When the Jesuit missionaries surveyed the shores of Lake Superior in
1669, they reported that the savages in preparing their meals, used
a pail made of birch bark, which contained water. Hot stones were
thrown into this until the water was raised to a temperature which was
sufficiently high to cook their food. This custom was similar to
that which was followed by the Maoris in New Zealand.





  It is hazardous to attempt to form any conclusions, based upon
  analogies, respecting the habits and superstitions of savage
  races, but with regard to the Maoris and the Dakotas, there are
  circumstances which require that a passing notice should be
  given to them.

  The New Zealanders, like the Dakotas, placed the bodies of the
  dead upon platforms or high scaffoldings. After a certain time
  the bones were scraped and gathered together, and taken to the
  burying place.

  The Maoris also had much faith in dreams, and believed that it
  was chiefly through them that they received communications from
  their gods. It was also usual for widows to show their grief,
  upon the death of their husbands, by cutting themselves with
  sharp instruments.

  The Sandwich Islanders, who are believed to be of the same race
  as the Maoris, used, in cases of sickness, a steam bath in the
  same manner as the Dakotas.

  In 1878, I met a number of Maoris in the valley of the Waikato,
  in the northern island of New Zealand. The men and women
  differed from the Malay type, and resembled, in many respects,
  the North American Indians. I am of opinion, that at a remote
  period, there must have been a communication between the
  aboriginal natives of the Sandwich Islands, and the Indians
  dwelling upon the western coasts of North America.

                              CHAPTER IX.

  The Golden City. — Coast of California. — Cape San Lucas. —
  Manzanillo. — Alligators and Sharks. — Acapulco. — San José de
  Guatemala. — Escuintla. — City of Guatemala. — Indian pilgrims
  from Esquipulas. — Ancient mounds on the plains of Mixco. —
  Insurrection of Indians. — Decapitation of their leader. —
  Preparations for the journey across the Continent to Palenque
  and Yucatan.

In the forenoon of the third day of January, the “Golden City”
commanded by Captain Lapidge, left San Francisco for the Central and
South American Pacific ports.

We had on board, as passengers, several members of the Austrian
mission, originally embarked in the frigate Danube under their chief
Rear-Admiral Baron Petz, with instructions to make commercial treaties
with China, Japan, Siam, Guatemala, Chili and other Spanish-American
States. This part of the mission had been detached to visit Guatemala
and it was arranged that upon the completion of their duties in Central
America, they should rejoin the frigate in the Southern Pacific. Dr.
Scherzer, the author of the narrative of the voyage of the Novara, and
who had also published the journal of his travels in Central America,
was placed in charge of this service. He was accompanied by Baron
Herbert and Baron Ransonnet, acting as secretaries. I had already met
these members of the staff and it was a mutual pleasure to find that we
were proceeding to the same regions.

Soon after leaving the harbour we approached the rocks upon which great
numbers of seals were seen. They watched our movements with attention,
and in reply to the sound of the blows of our paddlewheels upon the
water, bellowed at us defiantly.

[Illustration: The “Golden City” passing the Seal Rocks.]

We at first steered a course near the shore, but finding that there
was a heavy ground swell, we kept about four miles out from the land,
a distance sufficiently close to enable us to have a good view of the
Californian hills. One night, large beacon fires were reported to be
observed on the heights of the southern extremity of Lower California.
The course was consequently altered towards a small bay within Cape San
Lucas, and a boat came alongside conveying passengers. It was very dark
and the signal fires threw a fitful glare upon the sea and our ship,
at intervals. As we followed the line of the coast, the scenery became
very grand as we approached the mountain ranges of Mexico. The weather
was fine, the sea, rightly called Pacific, was as smooth as glass, and
there was an effect of atmosphere which gave a marvellously beautiful
colouring to the slopes and valleys of the mountains.

Several days after our departure from San Francisco we entered the
little land-locked harbour of Manzanillo. When rounding the point
we disturbed several flocks of pelicans. They gathered speed with
a few flaps of their great wings and then swept over the water
noiselessly without further effort, altering the direction of their
flight until they were sheltered from observation by some intervening
rocks.[54] Manzanillo is one of the seaports of the city of Mexico,
and communicates with the capital by a road leading to Colima and
Guadelajara. Near the village there is a shallow lake called La Laguna
de Cuyutlan, in which exist an extraordinary number of alligators.

After our ship had anchored, some of the passengers went to look at
this quiet reptile-infested lagoon, which is separated from the sea by
a narrow strip of land. Captain Lapidge told us that a few years before
our arrival, there had been a long continuance of westerly winds, and
these together with an unusually high tide caused the sea to flow over
the isthmus into the lagoon. Numerous alligators then came out from it
and crossed over into the bay where they were immediately attacked by
sharks, which abound on this part of the coast. He said that a fearful
combat took place and for several days the bay was deluged with blood.

It had become dark before we returned from the lagoon, and we passed
through the Indian village situated near its banks. The women were busy
grinding, on rounded granite slabs, grains of maize; or cooking various
herbs and vegetables in small earthern pans. The interior of their huts
contained one room. The ground was usually bare, but in some instances
a few mats were laid down. The exterior was formed of long upright
poles or sticks closely bound together. The roofs, which were high and
sloped steeply downwards, were made of brushwood and palm leaves.

During the night we continued our voyage near the Mexican coast, and on
the morning of the 10th entered the harbour of Acapulco. In the crowded
market place we saw a strange medley of races, Indians, Negroes,
Ladinos, Mestizos, and Pintos who afforded ample occupation for the
artistic talents of Baron Ransonnet. The Indians were of moderate
stature and of a dark swarthy colour, their faces were broad, and
their hair was long, heavy and very black. All had peculiarly restless
eyes. We were interested in looking at the Pintos, a numerous race of
Indians inhabiting the hills of this part of Mexico, who are given that
name in consequence of the coloured spots on their skin. Some of them
were merely spotted, others had their feet or hands almost white and of
a disagreeable livid tint. In several, the dark red skin of the face
was completely covered with white round spots. These spots always begin
as blue marks and develop into sores, which afterwards heal into these
indelible white scars. The Indians say that this kind of leprosy is
inherited. In all other respects they were perfectly healthy.

At midnight on the 13th, we arrived off San José de Guatemala. Captain
Lapidge lowered a boat and put us on board the nearest vessel, which
we afterwards found to be a North German barque called the Gelert.
Although the sea was smooth she was rolling heavily. The Golden City
also gave some deep lurches, and it was difficult to get in or out of
the boat. Baron Ransonnet left us with the intention of proceeding to
Panama. Finally Dr. Scherzer, Baron Herbert, and myself, made the best
of our position and slept—or endeavoured to sleep—for the rest of the
night upon the deck of the Gelert.

The view from the barque when the sun rose above the horizon, was of
a character not to be forgotten. The great range of volcanoes which,
commencing in the North in Alaska, runs like a backbone near the
Pacific Coast through the entire length of the American continent to
the southern limits of Patagonia, is here very remarkable. The great
mountains of Agua and Fuego, rising respectively over twelve and
thirteen thousand feet above the sea, were immediately opposite to us.
The volcano of Pacaya was on the right, and, on the left, were the
distant volcanoes near the Lake of Atitlan.

Our landing was accomplished without difficulty, and in the forenoon
we left San José for the capital in an open carriage, with three good
horses harnessed abreast. The road ran in a straight line through the
forest which covered the low tropical plain, extending for a distance
of forty miles from the sea to the base of the hills. Occasionally
we passed the huts occupied by the mixed race descended from African
negroes and Indians, who have been given the name of Zambos.

It would be difficult to account for the existence of a race of African
descent, dwelling near the Western coasts of the Pacific, if we did not
possess the statements of the Spanish historians, and their explanation
of the circumstances which necessitated the introduction of negroes for
the purpose of working in the mines or plantations, and to take the
place of the Indians who died in great numbers in consequence of the
severity of their treatment by the conquerors. The features of these
Zambos, resembled those of the aboriginal race of Indians, but the hair
was like that of the negroes on the West coast of Africa.

At the village of Masagua, we saw several Indians who had come down
from the hills. They were men of unusually diminutive stature, all
of them being under five feet in height, but they were well-formed,
muscular and active. The town of Escuintla was reached after sunset,
and towards midnight I went to the Plaza to see the numerous groups of
Indians, who were resting there for the night on their way to a church
festival that was going to be held several days’ journey eastwards.
The moonlight was extraordinarily brilliant, and the Indians evidently
considered that its influence was dangerous, for they carefully avoided
it, and sheltered themselves amongst the trees, or within the deep
shadows cast by the walls of the church. The platform in front of the
beautiful façade of that building, was surrounded by colonnades of palm
trees. Beyond, but seemingly close at hand, were the gigantic forms of
the twin volcanoes of Water and Fire.

Before daybreak we arrived at the village of Amatitlan, situated on
the borders of the lake of that name near the base of the volcano of
Pacaya, and in the morning we saw before us the plateau upon which
stands the city of Guatemala, five thousand feet above the sea.
Gradually we found that we were accompanied by Indians belonging to the
various villages near the road, who were on their way to the market
place, carrying on their backs heavy loads of wood, crockery and

As we approached the gates of the city, our horses increased their
pace, and the scene became very animated. Hundreds of Indians joined
us from all directions, and ran by the sides of our carriage. The
bells of the numerous churches were ringing for prayers. We passed the
castle, the market place crowded with Indian women selling their wares,
and the cathedral. Priests and sisters of mercy were hurrying along
the streets; groups of soldiers carrying old-fashioned muskets, were
lounging near their barracks. Our horses became excited and broke into
a gallop, and finally, with great noise and speed, we drove up to the
doors of the Hotel Aleman, and were soon installed in comfortable rooms
opening into the central court or patio, which forms such an agreeable
feature in all well-arranged Spanish inns.

Soon after our arrival Colonel Miguel Garcia y Granados, one of the
Government officials, called upon Dr. Scherzer and gave us a vivid
report of the political condition of the Republic. The Indians of the
provinces between Guatemala and the Mexican frontier were in rebellion.
A large force of them under the leadership of an Indian, named
Serapio Cruz, were marching towards the city, and a battle between
them and the Government troops was imminent. He also mentioned some
interesting facts with respect to the late President Carrera. Carrera
was a remarkable instance of native capacity. He was an uneducated
Indian of obscure birth who, by sheer force of character, energy, and
courage, was, at an early age, placed at the head of large bodies of
Indians during the various revolutionary outbreaks which succeeded the
declaration of Independence from Spain. Finally he became President of
the Republic and governed the people with such obstinate determination
and firmness of will that, in a few years, he was able to place the
whole country under a steady system of control. In doing this he was
assisted by the fact of being an Indian and having, consequently, great
personal influence over the natives. He also received the support of
the priests for, like all Indians, he was extremely fanatical.

Colonel Garcia told us that Carrera always had on his writing table
a toy representing Louis Philippe with his hat in his hand. This toy
had a rounded base and was so weighted that, when it was touched, it
rolled backwards and forwards, and would thus represent Louis Philippe
constantly bowing hat in hand. Carrera when engaged at his official
work would frequently make the toy move, and then would say to those
that stood near him “It was in that way, by too much bowing, that
Louis Philippe lost his throne, I shall take care that I do not make
the same mistake.” Carrera was not only supported by the priests, but
also by the Spaniards, who knew that he alone could keep the Indians in
subjection. Latterly he spoke much of the Indian chief Cruz, and said
that he was the only man in the State who was to be feared.

During our residence in Guatemala, I was fortunate in having the
acquaintance of Don Francisco Gavarrete, who held a post under the
Government and was well informed upon all subjects relating to
the Indians. He was also, I understood, the proprietor of some of
the lands within which were the sculptured monoliths and idols of
Quirigua. At the Museum in the city there was a good collection of
Indian antiquities which had been found within the territories of
the Republic, including several idols from Copan and Santa Cruz del
Quiché. When examining these I was accompanied by him and he directed
my attention to certain objects of importance. Many of them were well
carved and it was clear that the sculptors were able to work and shape
the hardest stone with accuracy and skill.

There was a small idol, made of hard green stone, which had been
found hidden behind the high altar of a church near the town of
Gueguetenango. Dr. Scherzer, who during his travels in Central America,
had learnt much about the religious customs of the natives, told us
that the priest of a church situated amongst the hills near Atitlan
had noticed an Indian girl, who was one of his parishioners, showing
an unusual fervour in her devotions, and he tried to find out the
cause. He, at last, discovered that she had buried an idol in the
ground close behind the church beyond the altar, so that although she
appeared to be praying to what was before her in the church, she was
actually addressing her requests to the idol outside. This priest
considered that his Indians were by nature idolaters and that it was
not practicable to prevent them from returning to their ancient habits.
Señor Gavarrete said that in the Department of Vera-Paz the Indians
had still the custom of erecting somewhere near the churches small
idol-houses in which they kept the image of a saint. To this they
offered sacrifices of meats and flowers, and at certain seasons they
were accustomed to keep watch or guard at the door throughout the night.

It is more than strange that nothing has been discovered in the course
of the explorations of the various ancient sites in this part of the
continent, which throws any light upon the methods employed by the
Indians, for the purpose of carving and shaping granite, green marble,
and hard lava. No mason’s implement of any kind has been found. A
few copper chisels appear to have been used for some purpose which
is unknown. They could not apparently have been of much service in
working stone, for the edges were rounded and the metal was soft. This
question as to the system adopted by the Indian sculptors in producing
such excellent work, is as inexplicable now as it was to the Spaniards
in the sixteenth century.

Señor Gavarrete asked me to accept a fine obsidian spear head which had
been found amongst the ruins of Quirigua. This black volcanic glass is
admirably adapted for cutting and wounding purposes. I had previously
picked up in an ancient earthwork outside the city, several fragments
of the same substance, which had evidently been placed on the edges of
wooden daggers or swords which inflicted jagged and dangerous wounds.
Obsidian knives were used by the Aztec priests when offering human
sacrifices to their gods. The spear head was in form and in the method
followed for chipping the mineral into the requisite shape, similar to
the large arrow heads made by the Indians in the western parts of North
America, where obsidian is obtained near the volcanic ranges of the
Sierra Nevada.

During the latter part of the month numerous groups of Indians passed
through the city on their return from the pilgrimage to Esquipulas.
The festival of the church at that place occurs annually on the 15th
of January. It is estimated that upon an average over eighty thousand
Indians are present upon that occasion. Esquipulas became an important
shrine in consequence of a wooden crucifix, black from age, having
been found buried in the ground near that town. It was supposed by
the Spaniards that it must have been lost by one of their missionary
priests when passing through that part of the province at some early
period soon after the conquest. This black crucifix was placed in the
sanctuary, and from some cause which has not been ascertained, it was
soon held in the highest veneration by the natives.

Indians assembled there in great numbers from all parts of the country,
and travelled great distances in order to be present at the festival,
and to take part in the performance of the religious ceremonies.

At the Cathedral in Guatemala we frequently saw the pilgrims kneeling
before the shrines and showing much devotional respect to certain
images. These natives were invariably grown up men and women.
They journeyed on foot, carrying with them their provisions and
water-gourds. They seemed to be desirous of avoiding all contact or
conversation with others. Their conduct was quiet and unobtrusive.
It was their custom to pass silently through the city. At the doors
of each church they stopped for a few moments, and then entered and
knelt before the altar. After the completion of these acts of worship,
they proceeded on their journey across the plains towards the huts and
villages scattered over the slopes of the distant hills. They never
halted in the street, or took any part in the daily movements of the

The pilgrimage is also undertaken by Indians from the distant regions
of Central America. Many of them traverse hundreds of miles. There is
something in the devotional nature of these ignorant aboriginal people
which escapes the comprehension of those who observe them. I noticed
that the Indians varied considerably in stature and complexion. The men
who dwelt among the Cordilleras seemed to be of a finer race than those
who were settled on the plains, and were much darker in the colour of
their skin.

The most attractive spot in the city was the market place. Within the
square, crowds of people, Indians and Ladinos, were daily assembled,
all of them buying, selling and carrying on the ordinary traffic, with
a silence and listless indifference which was in strong contrast with
the life and animation of the cities in the United States. It was a
constant pleasure to observe the movements of the younger Indian women,
who in their appearance and demeanour, were far superior to the men.
This difference arises from their habits and employment. The women
have a certain kind of dignity in their manner, caused, in a great
measure, by their usage of carrying water jars and pans of crockery
poised upon their heads. They therefore walk slowly and hold themselves
upright. This custom which begins from early childhood, and forms part
of their daily life, has the result of giving them good figures and a
particularly graceful movement.

The men, on the contrary, have a crouching appearance, caused by the
method in which they have been accustomed, from boyhood, to carry
their burdens. They relieve the pressure of the weight on their
backs by means of a broad band passed over the forehead and thus,
by bending forward, the load is made less oppressive. The men and
boys consequently contract a stooping posture, and this presents
an unfavourable contrast to the women, whose bearing is precisely
the reverse. There is another circumstance which has its influence
in shaping the figures of the women. They carry all small things on
the open palm of the left hand, which is thrown back and held well
raised up. In fact the same causes which affect the appearance of the
Indians in North America are present here, but with the difference
that there it is the squaw who contracts the stooping and bent figure,
through carrying her children and other burdens, and it is the man who
maintains the upright figure and dignified manner.

On the plains a few miles to the west of the city, in the direction of
the village of Mixco, there is a large and extensive group of ancient
Indian mounds of whose construction or purpose nothing is known. They
have never been scientifically examined and I was not able to ascertain
that any plans had been made of them. No author has alluded to them
unless by a mere passing notice, and yet they seemed to throw more
light upon the question of the Toltecan or Aztecan migrations than any
other remains of ancient antiquities. Possibly no previous traveller in
this part of Central America had also seen the mounds of Cahokia, near
the eastern banks of the Mississippi, or he could hardly have failed to
have observed that their resemblance is so great, and indeed so evident
as to place it almost beyond doubt, that the builders of the mounds
at Cahokia were of the same race as those that dwelt on the plains of

As it would be highly improbable that any nation would migrate from
lands abounding with means of food, comfort and warmth to what must
have been, at that period, the comparatively inhospitable regions of
North America, the tribes that constructed these mounds must have
originally migrated from the valley of the Mississippi.

I was employed for several days in making a rough survey of this Indian
settlement and took measurements of the inclosure. The ground plan was
made in the form of an extensive and irregular parallelogram about
twelve hundred yards long and five hundred yards wide. The mounds upon
the sides of the greatest length vary in their dimensions. Some of them
are very large and exceed forty-five feet in height. The most important
are those platform earthworks at each end of the inclosure upon which
may have been placed the principal communal buildings, or the houses of
the Caciques. There was also a mound of an exceptional shape, situated
in the interior which, from its position, may have been intended for
purposes similar to those that existed within the embankments of Fort
Ancient in Ohio.

When Carrera was President of Guatemala he wished to know for what
object these mounds were built, and he therefore gave orders that
one of the largest of them should be thoroughly examined. It was
ascertained, contrary to expectation, that it was not a burial place.
The only thing found in it was a large and well carved granite
grindstone of the same shape as those at present used by the Indians
for grinding maize. The results of Carrera’s excavations appeared
to establish the conclusion that the mounds were chiefly raised for
the purpose of placing dwellings upon them; and this is also, I was
informed, the opinion of the natives living in the neighbourhood.


In the meanwhile from day to day the capital had been disturbed by
rumours of the movements of the advancing insurgents, and it was
difficult to make any decided plans with regard to my journey in the
interior. It was considered by the Government authorities that it would
be highly imprudent for me to attempt to pass through the disturbed
provinces, as the natives were known to have become unsettled and
excited. It was therefore with great satisfaction that I heard that the
Indians were coming near and that a decisive battle was imminent. The
President Don Vincente Cerna had taken all proper precautions, and had
placed the troops under the command of his most able officer, General

On the twenty-third of January we were informed that the rebels were
approaching, and that an action between the forces was expected to
take place immediately. Baron Herbert and myself then went into the
adjoining country with the hope of obtaining a distant view of the
operations. In the afternoon we heard the firing of guns from the
castle announcing to the people that the Indians were defeated, and,
to prevent there being any doubts upon the subject, messengers arrived
from General Solares bringing with them the head of his opponent. This
practical method of assuring the inhabitants of the success of the
Government troops had a good effect. It was afterwards made known that
the Indians had been surrounded at an early hour and taken by surprise
whilst they were amongst the ravines. Serapio Cruz fought desperately
but was killed and decapitated.

Thus ended the Indian rebellion, and a period of considerable local
anxiety. A political revolution is an event which may be expected to
occur frequently in Spanish-American republics, but a rising of Indians
in rebellion or, as it is called, a “Guerra de Castas” (war of races),
is a far more serious matter, as was proved by the occurrences that
happened at the time of the revolt of the Indians in Yucatan, in 1847,
when their war cry was “Death to all Spaniards.”

At a dinner given at the English legation upon the evening of the
conclusion of the insurrection, the subject of the state of the
Guatemalan provinces was considered, with reference to the expediency
of my intention to travel alone through the disturbed districts.
Many of the members of the foreign legations were present.[55] It
was thought that the Indian population near the Mexican frontier
and amongst the remote parts of the Cordilleras would be, for some
time, in a restless and excitable condition, and might be inclined
to show their revenge for what had lately happened, by killing any
white man who should attempt to pass through the country or who
should by misadventure fall into their power. I was however informed
by a Spaniard who understood the character of the native races
that, although this opinion was true with respect to Spaniards, an
Englishman would probably travel over the Cordilleras with safety. I
accordingly lost no time in completing my preparations for the journey.

There was a difficulty in obtaining a good ambling mule, without which
long rides over a rugged country would be necessarily fatiguing.
Fortunately the Duke de Licignano, who was residing in Guatemala,
was willing to part with one of his trained mules, and it was with
great satisfaction that I saw this well-bred animal brought into the
courtyard of the inn, and placed under the care of my guide.

I received from the Government an official passport or letter of
recommendation to the Corregidors under their jurisdiction, which I
hoped would be of service as far as the frontier.

Mexico was reported to be temporarily in a lawless condition, but
I expected to find upon my arrival within its boundaries, that the
authority of the republic was sufficiently established to enable me to
proceed without any serious obstacles to the ruins of Palenque.

                              CHAPTER X.

  Mixco. — La Antigua Guatemala. — Volcanoes of Fire and Water. —
  Comolapa. — Ancient Indian Ruins of Patinamit. — Kachiquel
  Indians. — A Dominican Priest. — Barrancas. — Las Godinas. —
  Panajachel. — Human Sacrifices to the Lakes and Volcanoes. —
  Lake Atitlan. — Sololá. — Orchids. — San Tomas. — Quiché

At daybreak on the thirtieth day of January, my Indian guide Anastasio,
reported that the mules were ready. He had filled the saddle bags with
a good supply of provisions, together with a store of native chocolate,
and had otherwise made due arrangements for the mules in the event of
any mischance happening to them. We then proceeded on our way to the
town of La Antigua Guatemala. Baron Herbert came with us for several
miles, and Mr. Hague proposed to accompany me for a day’s journey and
see me safely started on my road.

When we came near the Indian mounds, I halted for a short time to take
a sketch of them from some rising ground whence a good view could be
obtained. On the left rose the Volcan de Agua. In the distance could
be seen the village of Mixco, and on the right were the Sierras,
stretching far away towards the North, looking well defined in the
clear atmosphere of a bright and sunny morning.

At Mixco we stopped for breakfast, and were joined by the cura of the
parish, who was an agreeable and well-informed man. Mixco is especially
interesting to Englishmen on account of its having been the curacy
of our fellow countryman, Thomas Gage.[56] He was appointed there in
December, 1629, and had the charge of this and some adjacent parishes
for about seven years. He then left Guatemala and returned to England.
Beyond the village we obtained a view of the Lake Amatitlan. We then
passed San Lucas, and reached La Antigua Guatemala in the afternoon.

Upon our arrival we called upon Padre Martinez, and asked him to show
us the ancient cathedral. It was in a ruined condition, and at the
time of our visit the nave and aisles were occupied by cattle. In the
centre of the roof we observed the emblem of the imperial arms of
Austria, the double-headed eagle, which fixed the date of the erection
of the building as being in the reign of the Emperor Charles V. There
still remained within the shrines many fine wood carvings, and it
could be seen that the ornamentation of the interior must have been in
accordance with the artistic abilities of the Spanish architects of
that period. After leaving this fine example of one of the earliest
churches in Central America, we looked at the ruins of the palace
and government buildings. It was evident that the ancient Guatemala,
before it was destroyed by earthquakes, must have well deserved its
reputation of being, next to Mexico, the most flourishing city in the
New World.

Close at hand and dominating the ruins, are the lofty twin volcanoes
of Agua and Fuego (Water and Fire). The former in 1541, caused the
destruction of the first town established by the Spaniards, which
is now called La Vieja Guatemala. The manner in which that capital
was overwhelmed and destroyed, was so exceptional, that it is
desirable that the events which then occurred should be brought into

It was stated by a Spanish resident who was present on that occasion,
that although the rainfall had been abundant during the year, there
was nothing in the other atmospheric conditions to give any reason for
anxiety. But on the 10th of Sept., 1541, two hours after sunset, a
mass of water suddenly issued from the crater of the nearest volcano,
and rushing down the slope of the mountain with great velocity,
immediately swept away the greater part of the town. This inundation
was accompanied by the shock of an earthquake. During the night the
disasters caused by the rapid waters are described as having been
terrible. The torrents, with which were mingled masses of detached
rocks and the trunks of uprooted trees, carried away everything before
them. Amongst those who perished was Doña Beatriz de la Cueva, the
widow of Alvarado, the conqueror of these southern provinces.[57]


The Spanish inhabitants formed the belief that this unusual disaster
must have been caused by movements of a miraculous nature, and that the
eruption of a volcano throwing out floods of water was a punishment
inflicted upon them on account of their sins. They thought that evil
spirits had been permitted to cast loose upon them the penalties of
fire, water and earthquake. Bernal Diaz who a few years afterwards
resided at La Antigua Guatemala, gives in his History of the Conquest a
vivid but imaginative description of the horrors of that night, based
upon statements made by the bishop of the diocese. He reports that
during the tempest great stones were rolled down the mountain and into
the city by numbers of demons (muchos demonios,) and that many people
heard shouts, yells, and voices, and saw two monstrous black men moving
in the rolling waters, calling out, “Forsake everything, for the end of
all things is at hand.”[58]

Various theories have been suggested in explanation of this outburst
of water from the volcano. It is supposed that the crater may have
contained a large volume of water, which after the excessive rainfall
of the year exerted such pressure as to burst open the inclosing
sides and that the contents were suddenly set free. If this theory is
accepted as being correct, it must be granted that the interior of the
crater was sufficiently compact to enable it to be water-tight, and
consequently capable of becoming a small reservoir or lake. It is
possible that the Volcan de Agua may have been for a long time extinct,
and that consequently the sides of the interior of the crater gradually
became impermeable. Under ordinary circumstances the materials of which
volcanic cones are formed, would not be capable of retaining great
quantities of water.[59]

I believe that the destruction of La Vieja Guatemala by the action of a
vast torrent of water issuing from a volcano is the only instance that
is known of such an extraordinary event, and it can be well understood
how it happened that the superstitious residents in that capital felt
assured that such a catastrophe must have been the work of demons and
the powers of darkness. The second city was placed in a position where
there was less liability to injury from any eruption, but it suffered
so constantly from the shocks of numerous and successive earthquakes,
that it was abandoned after having been occupied for more than two
centuries. The present capital was established in 1775.

The Volcan de Fuego is still occasionally active, and not many years
before I passed near it, flames and dense volumes of smoke were
reported to have come out of the crater, but no serious eruptions have
taken place in this century. In the last century several occurred, and
upon one occasion the city was enveloped in complete darkness during
the greater part of the day. At the present time the volcanoes look
down upon the ruined cities with grandeur and repose.

On the morning of our departure from La Antigua Guatemala, we rode
through the Plaza and passed near to the ancient palace of the Spanish
governors, the public buildings, and the cathedral. All these ruins
looked beautiful in the clear light of dawn.

[Illustration: Volcan de Agua. Volcan de Fuego.]

As the sun rose we began to ascend the hills. When we reached the
summit I stopped for a few minutes for the purpose of observing,
towards the south, the lofty cones of Agua and Fuego whose graceful
outlines were clear and distinct in the atmosphere of a deep blue
tropical sky. In the forenoon we reached Chimaltenango, which was once
a place of importance but is now becoming deserted. Beyond this town we
followed a track leading to the village of Comolapa, and had to descend
an abrupt and deep ravine, which crossed that part of the country.
We then rode up a long hill and passed near several groups of oak
trees, whose leafless branches were made gay by clusters of brilliantly
coloured orchids.

Upon arriving at Comolapa, I obtained a room in a little inn, where
we arranged to remain for the night, having already accomplished a
distance of nine leagues. The parish priest, Padre Rodriguez, proposed
that I should join him at supper, at which meal there also appeared a
Mexican, travelling on his way to Guatemala from the frontier, and who
was able to give me some useful intelligence about the roads and the
political state of the country in the province of Chiapas. The Padre
spoke with earnestness about the difficulties he had to overcome with
regard to the teaching of the Catholic doctrines. He said that there
were more than two thousand Indians under his charge. They attended
church as a custom, and seemed to take part in the services, yet, he
was certain that in their hearts they retained a faith in their ancient
worship, and that they had shrines concealed amongst the mountains
where they kept their idols. He had also found, by experience, that
there was the greatest repugnance amongst them to all attempts at
education, and no children would attend school after they were seven or
eight years old.

We looked at the interior of the church. Some of the wood carvings
at the altars were well designed and executed. Over the western
porch there was a large coat-of-arms, with lions as supporters. In
this district a great number of the Mexican allies, who accompanied
Alvarado in the conquest of Guatemala, were given lands, and many of
them, during the early periods of the Spanish occupation, were men of
considerable wealth; but their descendants and their families have now
disappeared or have become merged into the aboriginal population.

On the following morning we proceeded on our journey to Patinamit. We
passed a high mound, situated near the path, which in shape was like
that of Grave Creek, in Virginia; but it was not so large. Its height
was about fifty-five feet. Augustin proposed that we should take a
short cut, in consequence of which we lost our way, lengthened the
ride by over two leagues, and had to descend and ascend a profound and
precipitous barranca. On the sides of the track we saw many ferns, and
passed clumps of mountain firs and other trees belonging naturally to
high altitudes. We were riding over a country at an average height of
seven thousand feet, and following steep and rough tracks, which tried
the prudence of our sure-footed mules to the utmost. At noon we reached
Tepan Guatemala, and were received at the convent by Padre Viatoro.
The remainder of the day was passed in examining the ruins of ancient
Patinamit, the chief city of the Kachiquels, a tribe of the same race
as the Quichés.

Patinamit is placed upon the summit of a height separated from the rest
of the world by a steep ravine, which, except at one narrow point, so
completely encircles it as to make it practically a kind of detached
island. The site resembles that of Fort Ancient, and the earthworks
are nearly as large as those upon that great fortified hill. It is
supposed that the palaces and temples of the Kachiquels were built
upon this plateau, but nothing of them can now be traced. There are a
few mounds from ten to thirty feet high, and there are several heaps
of large loose stones, evidently taken from the ravine. The position
must have been exclusively chosen for the purposes of defence, for
it is almost impregnable to assault. The surrounding barranca is, in
several places, perpendicular for a depth of over two hundred feet. The
slopes are composed of a firm volcanic substance, consisting chiefly of
pumice, pozzolana, ashes and stones.

It has been stated[60] that, in Patinamit there was, during the rule
of the Kachiquels, a small building, in which was kept a kind of stand
formed of a substance resembling glass. The judges sat round this
building and heard the causes brought before them. In the ravine below
there was a black transparent stone, in looking into which, could be
seen the representation of the punishment to be awarded. It was also
consulted in time of war. Upon my return to the convent, I asked the
padre if he knew anything about this stone, which might have been an
unusually large fragment of obsidian, such as would have been found in
this region, formed of matter thrown out from the craters of volcanoes.
He said that he had never seen it, and did not know whether it still
existed. He wished me to understand that he did not take any interest
in the past history of the parish, but devoted his attention to his
work amongst the numerous Indians placed under his care.

Upon the morning of our departure, whilst the guide was saddling the
mules, I went out to the platform in front of the convent walls, to
look at the wide and distant views which it commanded. This outer court
was placed well above the ground. On the top of the steps which led
up to the platform, stood Padre Viatoro, dressed in his robes, and
receiving the homage of his Indian parishioners as they passed beneath
him on their way to their daily work. I had already become aware that
the influence of priests of the Dominican Order was exceptionally great
amongst the Indian tribes in the Cordilleras, but I had not hitherto
observed the actual evidence of their personal power over the minds of
the aboriginal race. The events that were taking place before me, were
extremely strange and characteristic. Each of the Indians, as he went
by, bowed down towards the earth, and waited to receive a blessing.
Several women who had requests to make, knelt and remained in that
posture. All of these meek, simple and ignorant natives seemed to look
upon their priest as a being of a far superior nature to themselves,
and Padre Viatoro by his imperious manner, did not permit them to
suppose that he could be approached otherwise than with the greatest
respect and deference.

As we proceeded on our journey, I stopped my mule in order to take
a final glance at the convent, and saw the tall erect figure of the
Dominican sharply defined against the sky, whilst men, women and
children were still passing before him. In the far distance were the
ranges of the Cordilleras, and close at hand was the great stronghold
of the Kachiquel conquerors, who, many centuries earlier, held the
ancestors of this submissive race under their subjection and cruel
tyranny. It was a scene in all respects so remarkable, that it remains
fixed upon the memory.

Our path to the hamlet of Las Godinas led over hills and plains, until
we arrived at the edge of a barranca which we had some difficulty in
crossing. This great chasm was about one mile wide at the top, and
was more than a thousand feet deep; it crossed the level country for
several miles. The sides were almost perpendicular for the first three
hundred feet of descent, and then sloped sharply downwards. Our path
was narrow and, in the places where it curved round the projecting
precipitous banks, looked dangerous, but the mules went forward without
hesitation. As it seemed to be unadvisable to attempt to guide my mule,
I adopted the plan which I thought to be the most safe, and dropped the
bridle over her neck, and she was thus left free to choose the road. I
soon found by experience, that complete confidence could be placed in
her wise and cautious judgment.

Upon reaching the bottom we rode for some distance up the valley, and
then ascended to the level of the plain. After a short ride across the
open country we came to another equally steep barranca which had to be
crossed. This chasm I estimated to be nearly twelve hundred feet deep.
The sides were composed of volcanic ash, pozzolana and blocks of lava.
The nature of the violent influences that must have been at work in
the production of the ravines, which have thus separated these plateaux
has yet to be fully investigated. With regard to the theory that they
were caused by earthquakes, it may be observed that those around Tepan
Guatemala must be approximately twenty miles from the nearest volcano.

At noon we reached Las Godinas and halted at a rancho to get breakfast,
and to give our mules a feed of sacate, which is an excellent and
nutritious fodder composed of the stalks of maize. At this hamlet
were assembled a large number of Indians who had come there from the
adjoining highlands. The men were in many respects like the North
American Indians. They were of a deep copper colour, and had black
hair, and large, well shaped noses, broad faces and peculiarly long
upper lips. Their eyes were round, black, furtive and restless. They
belonged to the Kachiquel tribe, and spoke a dialect of the Quiché

After a few hours’ rest we proceeded. Suddenly we opened upon a
magnificent view. Two thousand feet below us was the great Lake of
Atitlan, five thousand feet above the sea. It was a bright, calm, sunny
afternoon, and the still waters, reflecting the colour of the sky, were
as blue as a sapphire. On the opposite shore, overlooking the lake, was
the Volcano of Atitlan, eleven thousand, eight hundred feet high, and
beyond was a continuous chain of volcanoes stretching westwards towards
Quezaltenango. As we descended the hills the points of view kept
changing. It would be difficult to surpass these marvellously beautiful
combinations of lake and volcanic mountain scenery.

In the afternoon we reached Panajachel, and after having found a place
of shelter for the mules, I asked the way to the house of a lady to
whom I had a letter of introduction. The envelope bore the address of
Doña Aña Gertrudio Leon de Montalban. I was told that I should find
her at home, and that I was to make inquiries at the small grocer’s
shop in the main street. Accordingly I went to the shop and asked the
old woman behind the counter, who was at the time employed in selling
tallow candles, if she could kindly tell me where Doña Aña de Montalban
was to be found. She said “Señor, permit me to look at the letter,” and
putting on her spectacles, she gazed at the envelope, opened it and
slowly read what was inside. After having grasped the meaning of the
writing, she smiled and said—“I am Doña Aña and this letter is written
by a very good friend of mine, and Señor, my house is very much at
your service; if you will wait for a few minutes until I have closed
the shop, I will give you a room, the cook shall prepare a supper this
evening, and I hope you will make yourself as comfortable as the poor
means at my disposal will permit.”

Panajachel was crowded with Indians. It was the day of the festival
of the Patron Saint of an adjacent church, and they had all been to
there present offerings and light their candles at the shrines. In
the evening numerous Indian women dressed in white passed through the
village, carrying candles home to place before the altar of their own
house idol.

The cura of the district, Padre Pedro, asked me to join him, after his
duties were concluded, and talk about the events of the day. The Padre
was evidently a capable and zealous priest. He had the reputation of
having studied the character and language of his Indian congregations,
and of being acquainted with their habits and traditions. I was
therefore glad to have an opportunity of obtaining from such a good
authority some well-founded information respecting the reports of
sacrifices to the lake and volcano.

Father Pedro said that the ancient custom of sacrificing maidens at
Atitlan, was also followed at the mountain near Quezaltenango. Whenever
the rumbling noises were heard, threatening an eruption, a maiden
was offered as a sacrifice to the angry god by throwing her into the
crater. There used also to be performed some sacrificial ceremonies
connected with the worship of the goddess of the lake, but he did not
know what were the customs upon those occasions. The Abbé Brasseur de
Bourbourg relates, in his notes of a journey through S. Salvador, that
the lake of Xilopango was originally consecrated to the goddess of
water, and that in each year, when the maize was about to ripen, four
young girls were sacrificed.

It was reported that, in some remote districts, sacrifices were still
offered, but this is very doubtful. The Padre observed that the
Indians at Panajachel, and in the villages bordering on the lake were
excessively superstitious. In their houses or huts they usually had
a room or space set apart for the abode of their saint’s image. This
image would sometimes be carried to the parish church and be left
there for a time, and then would be taken back to the house again with
ceremonies and lighted candles. I mentioned to the Padre how I had
noticed that the Indian women here had a habit of talking together in a
low tone. He said this was chiefly owing to the dialect of the Quiché
language which was spoken in this district, in which many of the sounds
were expressed like a whisper.

At daybreak Augustin was at the door with the mules, and my kind
hostess prepared for me a cup of chocolate which she said would
fortify me for the journey. We then left for Sololá, and soon were
watching a glorious sunrise. The lake of Atitlan is irregular in its
shape. According to my travelling map it has a circumference exceeding
thirty miles. The most remarkable features are its great depth, and
the almost perpendicular cliffs on the northern side which seem to be
of volcanic formation. The deep blue of its waters is possibly owing
to their depth, and the rarefied state of the atmosphere at this
altitude. Our road led us through several villages containing chiefly
Indian populations, and then we ascended a long and abrupt hill. As
the day advanced we were joined by bands of Indians with cargo mules,
travelling to the market.

Sololá is the chief town of the Department, and the Corregidor was good
enough to add some recommendations to my government letter. We stopped
there long enough to rest the mules, and then proceeded on our way to
San Tomas, eight leagues distant. Upon reaching the upper slopes of
the hill I dismounted, in order to visit some Indian farm buildings
that occupied several acres of rising ground near our path. Although
there were evidences of what may be called comparative wealth, these
Indians—like all others that I had seen—only possessed a single hut
with one large room in it. Men, women and lads were all busy; the boys
cleaning and spinning wool for their black ponchos or cloaks, and the
women, as usual, engaged in grinding maize and making tortillas.

We followed a steep ascent. The path was cut into broad steps, up which
my excellent mule clambered with the utmost ease and rapidity, and in
a manner which brought back to the memory many rides amongst the Druse
villages in the mountains of the Lebanon. Upon reaching the summit of
the sierra, I turned the mule’s head round to enable me to look at the
lake and the group of volcanoes beyond it. It was then a scene of great
beauty, but at some remote period in the world’s history, it must have
been a centre of great volcanic violence and devastation.

Our track led, in an almost straight direction, over hills and across
valleys, maintaining an average altitude of about seven thousand feet.
In this region orchids were numerous. On the edge of one of the lofty
plateaux overlooking a narrow valley, I stopped to look at and sketch a
tall wide-spreading pine, upon whose branches these plants were growing
with the utmost luxuriance. The orchids in this part of Guatemala are
constant to a certain altitude which, as nearly as can be estimated, is
about six thousand five hundred feet. They exclusively prefer to dwell
upon the branches of oaks and pines, and always cling to such as are
strong and full-grown.

The manner of their habits in selecting the trees upon which they
desired to settle, was eccentric. Thus, with respect to the pines,
they chose those that had broad, spreading branches, and avoided those
whose branches grew upwards. They adopted the same rule with the
oaks. In no instance did I see orchids growing upon any trees except
oaks and pines; all others were left bare. But even when the groups
seemed to be all well suited for their purpose, they would select
certain favourites, and upon the branches of these they would abound,
giving life and colour to them, and leaving the neglected trees dark
and gloomy by contrast. The majority of the orchids were green, but
sometimes they were of a bright rose colour, and these when seen, as
we then saw them, clearly defined against a deep blue sky, gave a
brilliant colouring to the foreground. They added much to the pleasure
of our day’s ride. They were gay, capricious and beautiful.

San Tomas stands high and commands wide and extensive views of the
sierras. Upon reaching the plateau we rode through the village, and
finally stopped at the gate of the convent within whose walls we were
received by Padre Hernandez. He afterwards proposed that I should look
at his church and the altars.

There was much in the interior that had a special interest, in relation
to the obscure subject of the ancient faith of the Quichés, the great
tribe that possessed the dominant power in this part of Central America
at the time of the Spanish Conquest, and whose descendants are believed
to dwell in this secluded part of the country. There was no religious
service taking place or about to be held, and there was nobody present
within or without; but the nave and chapels were illuminated with
numbers of candles. The church was large and there were several side
altars. In front of each of them rows of lights had been placed. Down
the length of the nave there was a long thick block of wood in which
were fitted sockets for holding candles. There were also quantities
of offerings placed before each image, or whatever emblem the Indians
chose to worship.

“For in these matters,” said the Father, “I do not interfere, and in
fact, I have no power or authority whatever within my own church. The
Indians come and go as they please, light their candles, hold their own
services before the altar, and frequently take one of the saints out of
the church, and carry it away to some hut where, for several days, they
will perform musical ceremonies before it, and then the saint will be
brought back to its proper altar.”

Padre Hernandez, although he had lived many years with these Indians,
had not been able to obtain the slightest positive knowledge of what
they really believed. All that he knew about the subject was, that they
were very superstitious and devotional. He said that in many cases in
the sierras, they had their places of worship where they kept idols,
and at certain seasons of the year went to make offerings, and also to
sacrifice animals to them.

After a stroll through the village, I went to the Plaza, in the centre
of which were assembled the Alcaldes and other parish dignitaries. They
were sitting round a wood fire, discussing some urgent matters of
local interest. As I had not hitherto stopped in a populous district or
village entirely peopled by Indians, and controlled by native Alcaldes,
I decided to join the group. I received an Indian welcome from these
Quichés, by not being noticed and was given a place in the circle in
silence. I soon became interested in listening to their extremely harsh
and guttural language, and in observing the types of the men, all of
whom were Indians of leading families.

It was a fine night. The new moon was low in the horizon. The planet
Venus was just beneath it, and immediately above was Jupiter, a rare
and beautiful conjunction, looking bright and sharply defined in the
clear atmosphere of this elevated table land.

When the discussion came to an end I left the Alcaldes engaged in
toasting tortillas over the embers of the fire, and returned to my
host at the convent. It had been the fate of Padre Hernandez to have
passed the best years of his life in the vain endeavour to get these
Indians to understand the tenets of his faith, but he had latterly
given up, as useless, all these attempts and left them to follow
their own wills. One great and unexpected difficulty he had found
impossible to overcome, in consequence of the imperfection of the
Quiché language, was his inability to convey in equivalent terms
the ideas he wished to explain. He also experienced another serious
hindrance in the execution of his duties. His parish was extensive and
contained several villages which lie amongst the sierras, remote from
each other; and as the Quiché is an unwritten language, and there are
consequently no grammars or dictionaries to create a fixed standard,
words are forgotten, sometimes their meaning becomes changed or they
are differently accented or applied; and thus, in the course of time,
the dialect of one village differs from another.

I observed to the Padre, that, on the way from Sololá, I had noticed
that the Indians contrived to live in an isolated manner. He said this
was always the case with them. They were naturally inclined to keep
much apart. Those who lived amongst the mountains had their huts at
considerable distances from each other, and the villages maintained
but little communication; as a natural consequence the language was
always changing. “All these Quichés,” he said, “are becoming extremely
ignorant. They keep no record of time or events, and do not seem to
take interest in anything except the dull procedure of their daily

The Padre had found it impossible to feel in any degree assured,
that he understood the private feelings or political views of these
Indians. He considered them to be apparently indifferent to what
was passing around them, and yet capable of being aroused in a very
sudden manner, and of acting together for some common purpose. Their
enthusiasm for anything relating to their superstitious devotion to the
images was however very evident. One of the things which he thought
to be inexplicable, was their extraordinary veneration for the rite
of baptism. They seemed to attach some peculiar importance to this
ceremony, although the Padre did not think that what was in their
minds had any reference to the Church tenets. In all matters connected
with religion, the Indians had become quite independent. They came from
afar to make offerings of blossoms and leaves, lighted candles before
the altars of those saints they wished to honour, and then silently
returned to their huts.

In the morning, before leaving San Tomas, I was interested in observing
in the crowded Plaza, some of the characteristics of this once
powerful Indian race. The men were of middle size, strongly built and
of a swarthy copper colour. Their noses were large and remarkably
broad at the base. Their eyes were dark and wild. In features many
of them resembled the Sioux. Their voices were loud and the language
disagreeably rough. The women had soft voices and were very gentle in
their manners. They reminded me of the Coptic women of Lower Egypt, in
their method of carrying their pitchers of water. There was the same
graceful attitude, and slow and steady walk. What perhaps, added to
some extent to the resemblance was the long blue dress, and the little
turban-shaped mat placed on the head to receive the pressure of the

                              CHAPTER XI.

  Barrancas. — Santa Cruz del Quiché. — Padre Andres Guicola. —
  Ruins of Utatlan. — Report of Don Garcia de Palacio upon human
  sacrifices to the gods in Central America, Statement of Bernal
  Diaz, about the sacrifices in Mexico. — Burning of the Quiché
  Caciques at Utatlan. — Worship of idols by the Quichés. —
  Sierras. — Gueguetenango.

The journey from San Tomas to Santa Cruz del Quiché was made
unexpectedly fatiguing, in consequence of the difficulties placed
across our track by the numerous barrancas which traversed the plains.
Several of these ravines were of considerable depth, and their slopes
were abrupt. It was satisfactory to realize that we were travelling
in the dry season, and the footing for the mules was therefore fairly

Upon our arrival at the village, I rode onwards to the convent steps
where I was met by Padre Andres Guicola, who was unfeignedly delighted
to see me. He said that he was glad to welcome me, and talk to somebody
who was not an Indian, and was particularly pleased to hear that I was
an Englishman, for he was a Biscayan, and had been born and bred near
San Sebastian, and had listened to the traditions concerning the great
Duke of Wellington, and memories, on the part of the ladies, of
the brave officers of his army. It added much to the pleasure he felt
in receiving me, to know that his guest was the son of one of those
officers, who had not only been present at the operations in Biscay and
on the French frontier, but was also severely wounded at Albuera, a
battle held in great respect by all patriotic Spaniards.

[Illustration: QUICHÉ INDIAN.


His isolation amongst these secluded mountains, must have been
repugnant to the nature of this kind hearted and genial padre. He told
me that he had been living in his parish twenty-one years, having been
appointed in 1849, and during that long time regularly fulfilled his
duties amongst his Indians. He declared, in answer to some questions
that I asked with reference to the adjacent ruins of Utatlan, that he
knew but little except from what he had read in the history of Juarros.
The friars of the convent wrote some observations about them, and
also possessed some documents relating to the ancient customs of the
Quichés, but these were destroyed during the revolution of 1829, when
the churches and convents were sacked. Consequently no records existed.

The view from the Convent was magnificent, commanding towards the
north-west the ranges of the Cordilleras, and towards the south-west
the hills near Quezaltenango. The lofty plateau upon which it stood,
was nearly seven thousand feet above the sea. It is upon three sides
severed from the outer world by a steep barranca which almost surrounds
it. The ruins of Utatlan, the ancient capital of the Quichés, were
about one mile distant, and were evidently placed in such a manner as
to take the greatest advantage of this ravine, in order to form a
stronghold, which according to the conditions of Indian warfare must
have been practically impregnable.

After having obtained some local information respecting the structures
that I wished to examine, I crossed the plain and entered this
fortress, which once held the reputation of being one of the greatest
of the Indian cities. I was prepared to see much that would be of the
highest interest, because no change had taken place within its walls
since the time when it was destroyed by Alvarado, in 1524. The site has
never since that period been occupied or in any way disturbed. Upon
making a slight preliminary survey of the position, it was evident that
it had been chosen for a fortified inclosure, in the same manner and
for the same purpose as Patinamit. Both fortresses resembled in their
character the defensive encampment of Fort Ancient in Ohio.

Utatlan is, with the exception of its narrow approach, surrounded by
ravines. In consequence of the ground being thus confined, the original
extent of the city can be easily ascertained, and it is therefore
indisputable that the population maintained within the ramparts could
never have been numerous. It is however observable that it must have
contained buildings, temples, and sacrificial altars of considerable
magnitude. The sites of many of these were still apparent and their
ground plans could be traced. Portions of the walls were also standing.
Parts of the altars were covered with a strong thick cement.

After having walked round the exterior of the fortress, I made a
series of measurements of the spaces covered by the courts of those
structures which were supposed to have been temples or places set apart
for the purposes of religion and instruction. I observed that some
of the ground plans were similar in their proportions to those that
I had noticed within some ancient earthworks near the modern city of

The pyramidal altars or Teocalli had, in their forms and constructions,
their platforms and places for idols, many points of resemblance with
others that were known to have existed in Mexico.

The rectangular courts in front of the altars, were possibly the
quadrangles within which the ceremonies connected with human sacrifices
were performed. Nothing is absolutely known with respect to the
sacrificial customs of the Quichés, and the allusions to them in the
Quiché manuscripts are not definite. It is, therefore, fortunate that
there exists a statement made to the King of Spain in the year 1576,
upon the condition of the country and the customs of the Indians in the
districts presided over by the government of Guatemala, which describes
in considerable detail what happened amongst the Chontal and Pipil
Indians dwelling in the south-eastern parts of the province. It was
made by the licentiate Don Garcia de Palacio, and with respect to the
subject of these human sacrifices, there has been nothing written which
gives so full and evidently accurate an account of those remarkable
ceremonies. The Report is so valuable and instructive, that it is
desirable to quote what immediately relates to them. Palacio, after
describing the country near lake Uxaca, says:—

“Three leagues from this is the village of Micla, where anciently the
Pipiles Indians of this district performed great devotions, and came
to offer their gifts and hold their sacrifices; as likewise did the
Chontales and other adjacent Indians of differing languages. They had
in their sacrifices some particularities different from other places,
and had _Kues_ and _teupas_ of great authority, of which there are yet
large signs and indications.

“Besides the Cacique and usual chief, they had a Pá-pa[61] whom they
called _Tecti_, who was dressed in a long blue robe and wore on the
head a diadem, and sometimes a mitre worked in different colours, and
at the top of this a bunch of very fine feathers, from some birds that
there are in this country, which they call Quetzales.[62]

“He commonly carried in his hand a staff like a bishop, and all obeyed
him in whatever related to spiritual matters. Next to him, the second
place in the priesthood was held by another who was called _tehu a
matlini_ who was the chief wizard and most learned in their books and
arts, and who declared the auguries and made prognostications.

“There were, besides these, four priests who were called _teu pixqui_
dressed in different colours, and with robes down to their feet, black,
green, red and yellow; and these were of the council in the matters of
their ceremonies, and were those who assisted in all the superstitions
and follies of their heathenism.[63]

“There was also a majordomo who had the charge of the jewels and
ornaments of the sacrifices, and who took out the hearts of those that
were sacrificed, and performed the other personal things that were
necessary; and besides there were others who had trumpets and heathen
instruments to convoke and call together the people to the sacrifices
that were going to take place.”

Palacio states that the rising sun was worshipped and that there
were two idols, one representing a man named Quetzalcoatl and the
other a woman named Itzqueye and that to these all the sacrifices
were made. There were two special ceremonies which took place, one
at the commencement of the winter and the other at the beginning of
the summer, when two boys between the ages of six and twelve were
sacrificed. Palacio then describes the sacrificial customs in war:—

“The high priest, the learned wizard, and the four priests met
together, and ascertained by their sortileges and witchcrafts whether
they should have war or if any one was coming against them, and if the
sortileges said yes, they called the Cacique and captains of war, and
told them how the enemies were coming, and where they should go to make

“The Cacique summoned all his warriors, and went out in search of the
enemies, and if they gained the victory in the battle, the Cacique
dispatched a messenger to the high priest, and informed him upon what
day he had succeeded, and the sage examined unto whom the sacrifice
should be made. If it was to Quetzalcoatl the ceremonies lasted fifteen
days, and upon each day one of the Indians of those that had been
captured in the battle was sacrificed; and if it was to Itzqueye the
ceremonies lasted five days, and upon each day an Indian was sacrificed.

“The sacrifice was performed in this manner. All those who had been
in the war came in order singing and dancing, and they brought those
that they had to sacrifice, with many feathers and _chalchivetes_[64]
on their feet and hands, and with strings of cacao upon their neck,
and the captains conducted them in their midst. The high priest and
priests together with the people went out to receive them with dances
and music, and the caciques and captains presented to the high priest
these Indians for the sacrifices, and then they all went together to
the court of their _teupa_, and they danced all the above said days and

“In the middle of the court they placed a stone like a bench, and upon
this they placed the Indian that was to be sacrificed, and the four
priests held the Indian by the hands and feet. The majordomo then came
out with many feathers and covered with bells, with a stone razor in
his hand, and opened the breast and pulled out the heart, and when he
had taken it out he threw it upwards towards each of the four cardinal
points, and the fifth time he threw it in the middle of the court
directly upwards, thus declaring and giving to the god the reward for
the victory. This sacrifice was made in public, so that every one both
small and great could see it.”

It is interesting to turn from the customs described as occurring in
the remote town of Micla, to the events that happened in the city
of Mexico, several hundreds of leagues distant. It was late in the
afternoon of a summer’s day, in the year 1521. The Spaniards had
been repulsed in one of their most important attacks on the enemy,
and had been driven back over the causeway after suffering serious
losses; Cortes was wounded, and sixty Spaniards had been captured,
together with many of their Indian allies. In accordance with the
Aztec superstitious rites, these captives were at once conveyed to the
Teocalli of the war gods.

Bernal Diaz, who had taken a prominent part in the battle, states that
“during the retreat, they frequently heard the great drum resounding
with a deep and dismal noise.” At last the Spanish troops reached a
place of comparative safety, where they were secure from the enemy’s
attacks, and out of reach of stones and arrows, and then, Diaz says,
“Sandoval and Francisco de Lugo, and Andres de Tapia with Pedro de
Alvarado, were each relating what had happened and what orders Cortes
had given, when the drum of Huitzopotli again began to sound, together
with kettledrums, shell horns and other instruments like trumpets, and
these sounds were horrible and dismal, and we looked at the summit of
the highest Kue, and we saw our companions who had been captured in
the rout, and that they were being carried up by force, and with blows
and thrusts, and being taken violently to be sacrificed, and when they
had reached the top at a place where was the shrine in which were the
accursed idols, we saw that many of them had feathers put upon their
heads, others were made to dance before Huitzopotli, and after they had
danced they were thrown on their backs on the top of the sacrificial
stone, and then they cut open their breasts with flint knives, and
pulled out their heating hearts and offered them to the idols that were
in that place. The bodies and feet were thrown down the steps below,
where other Indian butchers were waiting, and who cut off their arms
and legs, and then flayed the skin from their faces, and tanned them
like glove skins with the beards on, and kept them to show at their
festivals and when they had their drunken feasts. In this manner were
all sacrificed; they devoured the legs and arms, and the hearts and
blood were offered to the idols.[65] These cruelties were seen by the
whole camp, and by Pedro de Alvarado, and Gonzalo de Sandoval, and all
the captains, and we said amongst ourselves, thank God that I was not
carried off to-day to be sacrificed.”[66]

In the whole range of American history, there is nothing which more
vividly strikes the imagination than the scenes described by the
Spanish conquerors during the siege of Mexico. The human sacrifices
and the subsequent cannibalism, represent the most revolting acts of
superstition that have ever disgraced human nature.

It is strange that, although so much has been recorded of the Aztecs
and their customs, no clear account has been given of the shape and
dimensions of their Teocallis within the city of Mexico. We have only
very doubtful representations given of them. Taking these as the best
available guides it is evident that the altars in Utatlan were built
upon similar principles, following upon a smaller scale the same
general structural plan and proportions. Utatlan was considered as
one of the most important places in Central America. According to the
historian Juarros, it held a rank only second to the capital of the

Alvarado conquered the city in April, 1524, and he states in his
official Report to Cortes, that in consequence of the natural strength
of the place, and the depth of the ravines which prevented a general
action, he had decided to destroy it. He gave directions to burn the
chief caciques alive, to set fire to the town and completely reduce it
to ruins, for it was so strong and dangerous, that it was more like a
stronghold of bandits than a town of citizens.[67]

A curious circumstance is mentioned by him as happening during his
march against Utatlan. On the way, and near some rising ground, he
saw the Indians sacrifice a woman and a dog, and he says that his
interpreters told him that this act meant defiance. This statement is
remarkable because it has always been supposed that dogs were not found
amongst the Mexicans. Bernal Diaz observes that these dogs were of
small size, that they were used for food, and did not bark.

[Illustration: Approach to Utatlan from the plain.

  Height of mound is about 30 feet.]

Before leaving Utatlan, Alvarado placed in office as chief of the
Quichés, an Indian named Sequechul, who was according to the laws of
that race the next in succession. From this time nothing more was known
of the Quichés, until the licentiate Alonzo de Zurita, passed this way
about the year 1554, in the execution of the duty assigned to him by
the command of the king, to report upon the condition and customs of
the Indians, both before and after the conquest. Zurita was informed
that, before the conquest, the Quichés had three chiefs. The first had
over his seat or throne three canopies of feathers, the second two, and
the third one. He says that the city had at one time contained several
kues, (small pyramidal altars) dedicated to idols, but that they were
then in ruins, and the successors of the caciques were in the utmost

I passed over the ground where Alvarado’s camp had been pitched,
and where the caciques were sentenced to be burnt. Certainly the
sixteenth century witnessed most extraordinary scenes of cruelty
and carnage in this unhappy country. At this distance of time it
is difficult to understand what could have been the reasons which
impelled the Spaniards to burn the Indians in such numbers. Many
of them were consigned to the flames for disobedience to orders,
others upon suspicion of treasonable designs against the conquerors,
others for being discovered worshipping their ancient gods, or for
not conforming to the new religion. Perhaps the most inexplicable of
all these cruelties is what happened soon after the conquest of the
city of Mexico. Cortes, upon his return there after his expedition to
Honduras, heard that during his absence, there had been a rising of
Indians in one of the distant provinces, a sort of local rebellion
which had been suppressed. Upon his making inquiries as to the cause of
this disaffection, the principal inhabitants of the province came and
reported to him that the Spaniards under whom they had been placed had
burnt alive eight of their principal chiefs, five of whom died on the
spot, and the remaining three a few days afterwards, and although they
had demanded reparation and justice it had not been granted to them.[68]

Later in the century all the penalties of the Inquisition were
established, but it was found that the results of these acts to enforce
the Spanish rule, and to convert the Indians were unsatisfactory. The
Indians fled to the hills and forests, and would not obey the orders
to form communities or villages and thus be exposed to such cruelties.
Finally the punishment of burning alive was abolished, and the milder
punishment of whipping at the post was introduced and has remained. It
is at the present time the customary method of punishing the natives
for any default or misconduct.

In considering this subject of the treatment of the Indians at the
time of the conquest, due weight has to be given to the influence of
the priests, their enthusiasm, and their intense desire to convert the
natives by persuasion or by force. The well-known inveterate hatred
of the Indians towards their conquerors, a hatred which still exists,
was a dangerous element always present and to be guarded against by
adopting severe measures of repression. The good fortune that had
attended the operations of Cortes and his handful of Spaniards in the
conquest of this region, was doubtless in a great measure due to the
condition of the country, and the never ceasing tribal wars. Cortes and
his generals were consequently always able to obtain the assistance of
numerous allies who were glad to seize any opportunity of destroying
their enemies. But when the conquest was completed and the Spaniards
had the lands distributed amongst them, and the system of _encomiendas_
was adopted, it became necessary, at all hazards, to prevent any
combinations of Indians against them, and to put down or crush out with
unmerciful firmness the slightest tendency to rebel against the iron
and cruel rule under which they found themselves to be subjected. Many
risings were quelled, all tendency to insubordination was punished,
and the Indians remained under control. But this result was only
obtained after these unfortunate tribes had been subjected to the most
astonishing severities that have ever been inflicted by a civilised
race of conquerors.

At the convent at Santa Cruz, Padre Guicola spoke much about his
parishioners. He said that he was impressed with the conviction that
the Quichés in many respects still followed their old idolatries, and
worshipped their idols secretly. He thought that he had discovered
that certain Indians were “sacerdotes” to these idols, and that in
some manner which he had not been able to find out, they, amongst
themselves, maintained their ancient priesthood.

The accommodation for strangers was more monastic than I had expected
to find. My cell contained nothing but a wide hard board placed upon
four legs, and there were neither hooks nor posts to which I could hang
my hammock, consequently it was not practicable to make convenient
arrangements for securing comfortable quarters at night.

Before my departure I had a conversation with the Padre about the
history of the convent, and the work that used to be carried out by
the monks. Some of the descendants of the caciques of Utatlan were
educated by them, and the traditions of the origin and migrations of
the Quichés were composed by them, whilst they were still capable of
remembering what had been related concerning their early history. The
most important of the manuscripts is stated to have been written in
1544, by the son of one of the Quiché caciques, who took part in the
operations of war at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards. The
Padre was not well acquainted with the subject of the past history of
his convent, and like the other priests that I had met in the Indian
parishes, his attention was almost exclusively directed to his duties,
one of the most significant of which, in the opinion of his Indians,
was the performance of the rite of baptism.

I asked him what was the best track to follow in crossing the sierras,
and he made inquiries for me. Several of the inhabitants of the village
said, that in the remote parts of the hills I wished to cross, the
paths were not well known, and might be found to be impracticable, and
there was the danger of meeting scattered bands of rebels. Augustin
however informed me, that he had learnt from several of the natives, in
whom he could place confidence, that we need not expect to meet with
any serious difficulties, and that in the event of being uncertain
about the right direction, we might rely upon coming across Indians who
would guide us. My large Government map was of no use in the matter,
as nothing was marked upon it except ranges of mountains. Meanwhile
to guard ourselves against possible trouble, I gave directions that
we should take with us a sufficient supply of food for ourselves and
the mules, and thus we started upon our road, without feeling any
hesitation with regard to our future proceedings.

In the forenoon we came to a halt amongst the mountains, and Augustin,
who was proficient in his knowledge of making a fire out of the most
scanty materials, prepared breakfast. Whilst we were thus engaged
we were passed by numbers of Indians carrying goods and provisions.
Young and old were hurrying rapidly forward, urged by some impulse
which we were unable to comprehend, towards a destination which was
to us unknown. They looked wild and restless, and when addressed were
shy and reserved. In the evening before sunset we arrived at some
farm buildings, and I slung my hammock to the rafters of a deserted,
half-ruined shed. Augustin obtained from an adjoining hut some
tortillas, frijoles[69] and eggs, the three chief elements of Indian
domestic existence, and with these, together with a good supply of
sacate for the mules, we made ourselves at home in the Cordilleras.

In accordance with a custom that I usually adopted whenever it was
possible, I established friendly relations with an Indian family in the
neighbourhood in order to obtain some knowledge of their language or
dialect. I had a list of words in Spanish to which I obtained the local
equivalents. In this manner I made a small vocabulary of the dialects
spoken by the Indians amongst the Altos near Guatemala, by the Quichés
at Santa Cruz and San Tomas, by the Kachiquels near Las Godinas, and by
the tribe near Patinamit. This custom was not only useful in helping
me to understand the various links or differences in the tribes that
we met, but it was also a means of bringing about a small degree of
friendliness, and of overcoming that very decided unsociability which
forms such an integral part of the Indian nature.

At sunrise we were in our saddles, and soon found ourselves to be
riding over a difficult and rugged country. The hills were steep, and
the mule tracks, in many places, almost impassable. In the afternoon we
crossed a high mountain ridge, and then descended towards the Indian
hamlet of San Lorenzo, and pushed on as fast as possible, in order to
reach Gueguetenango before the night. On our arrival, we rode up to the
convent gate, where I was welcomed by Padre Juan Batista de Terran.
He was in a highly disturbed and irritated state of mind. His convent
had been battered and almost destroyed by the artillery of the Indian
rebels, commanded by Cruz, and his church was filled with soldiers who
had been quartered there, and were eating and drinking, gambling, and
leading wild and irreverent lives within the shrines.

On the following day I called upon the Corregidor and obtained a
passport for Augustin, and then sent him and the baggage mule back
to Guatemala. He had faithfully performed his duties as guide and
attendant, and had been careful in looking after the wants of the
mules, often taking great trouble in finding for them a proper supply
of forage wherever we were quartered in the night. But he had not
expected to meet with such rough tracks as we had passed over amongst
the sierras and down the barrancas, and was glad to be able to return
by more secure and better known roads.

The inhabitants of Gueguetenango, at the time of our arrival, were
in an excited and disorganised condition. They had not recovered from
the alarm caused by the recent events of the rebellion. The Plaza
was crowded with wild-looking Indians, and throughout the town there
was an unusual movement of armed men. My chief preoccupation was the
search of a trustworthy guide, which was a matter for considerable
difficulty. Finally I succeeded in securing the services of an Indian
belonging to a local tribe of the Mams. He bore the name of Carlos, and
spoke Spanish sufficiently well to enable me to keep up a tolerably
intelligible conversation with him.

I now thought it advisable to make some changes with regard to the
manner of travelling. Hitherto I had managed very well with Augustin
and one spare mule. The mule carried in the saddle bags, provisions
for several days, together with a change of clothing in case of wet
weather, but experience had shown me that it would be better to reduce
the weights to what could easily be carried by an Indian in his pack,
and who, at the same time, could act as guide. I should thus avoid the
risk of being detained by any accident happening to the cargo mule.
My own good mule carried nothing but its rider, and a great coat and
hammock, rolled up in military fashion, and strapped over the pommel of
the saddle.

Everything being satisfactorily arranged, Carlos appeared at the
convent steps at daybreak with his pack duly placed over his shoulders,
and carried by the head band. Into this were put two days’ provisions,
and part of the change of clothing. My mule carried the halter wound
round her neck. A small supply of fodder was added to the Indian’s
load, and thus we started. Carlos took the lead by breaking into a
quick, rapid pace, or steady Indian run. The mule followed at her
best speed, and before the sun had risen above the summits of the
Cordilleras, we were well forward on our way towards Jacaltenango and
the Mexican frontier.

                   •       •       •       •       •

  Gueguetenango, the chief city of the Department, was a place
  of importance before the conquest. It was the capital of the
  Mams, a warlike tribe, whose caciques and principal families
  were of the same race as the Quichés. They were conquered
  and reduced to submission by the Spaniards in 1525. There
  are certain circumstances respecting that campaign and the
  methods of defence adopted by the Mams, which should receive
  particular attention in connection with the theories and Indian
  traditions, respecting the migrations of the mysterious tribe
  who have been named the Toltecs, and who appear to have been
  the predecessors of the Aztecs. There are, in the accounts of
  the campaign several details which are valuable, as leading to
  the conclusion that the Mams, Quichés and Kachiquels, whose
  leaders were all of the same race, pursued systems of defensive
  warfare, which had analogies with the habits of the tribes who
  raised the fortified hill works in Ohio.

  When it was decided by Alvarado to attack the Mams, a force
  suitable for the purpose was organized. It consisted of a main
  body of Mexican Indian allies who were supported by a small
  force of Spanish cavalry and infantry; there were three hundred
  Indians carrying spades and hatchets acting as pioneers, and
  many others who were employed in the work of transport. After
  an engagement with the Mams, who were defeated, the attacking
  forces advanced to[70]Gueguetenango. Upon their arrival at
  that place the Spanish General was informed that the Mams had
  retreated to their fortress of Socoleo. The position of this
  entrenched camp was so strong, that it was not possible to
  capture it by direct assault, and the Spaniards in the end
  reduced the Indians to surrender by famine.

  The historian Fuentes who is stated to have personally examined
  this fortress about the year 1695, reported (according to
  Juarros) that the approach “was by only one entrance and that
  was so narrow as scarcely to permit a horseman to pass it; from
  the entrance, there ran on the right hand a parapet, raised
  on the berm of the fosse, extending along nearly the whole of
  that side; several vestiges of the counter-scarp and curtain
  of the walls still remain, besides parts of other works, the
  use of which cannot now be easily discovered; in a courtyard
  there stood some large columns, upon the capitals of which were
  placed quantities of pine wood, that being set on fire, gave
  light at night to the surrounding neighbourhood. The citadel or
  lofty cavalier of this great fortification was in the form of
  a square, graduated pyramid, rising twelve or fourteen yards
  from the base to the platform on the top, which was sufficient
  to admit of ten soldiers standing on each side; the next
  step would accommodate a greater number, and the dimensions
  proportionably increased to the last or twenty-eighth step.
  The steps were intersected in unequal portions by parapets
  and curtains, rendering the ascent to the top so extremely
  difficult, that Fuentes says, he attempted several times to
  reach the platform, but was unable to perform the task, until
  his Indian interpreter acted as his guide and conducted him
  to the summit. The ruins of several buildings were then in
  existence; they appeared to have been intended as quarters for
  the soldiers; were extremely well arranged, and distributed
  with due regard to proportion. Between each three or four of
  these buildings there was a square courtyard paved with slabs
  made of stiff clay, lime, and sand; every part of the fortress
  was constructed of hewn stone, in pieces of great size, as
  one which had been displaced, measured three yards in length,
  by one in breadth.” ... “As the place was circumvallated by
  a deep ravine, there was no way by which the walls could be

  From the above description of Socoleo it is made clear that
  its construction and position were in accordance with the
  principles and objects which governed the selection of the
  strongholds at Patinamit and Utatlan. The pyramidal structure
  called the citadel must have closely resembled the Resguardo
  which guarded the entrance into the Quiché fortress.

  It is of importance to note that the account given by Fuentes
  of Socoleo, establishes to a great extent, the accuracy of
  certain portions of the manuscripts composed by the young
  Quiché caciques which relate to the traditions of the
  migrations of the Quichés from Mexico, and the manner in which
  they divided into separate governments the countries which they
  had conquered, under the names of Quiché, Kachiquel, Mam and
  Zutugil. With regard to the three first-named divisions the
  methods adopted to secure their domination, were so identical,
  that there can be no doubt that the statements recorded in the
  manuscripts, so far as they relate to the historical accounts
  of the Quichés after their arrival in Central America, may be
  assumed to be trustworthy records of the Indian traditions.

  According to the dispatches of the Spanish conqueror Alvarado,
  he found that the Quichés inhabited the town of Quezaltenango,
  and it was after the decisive battle fought near that place,
  that they retreated to their entrenchments at Utatlan; thus
  adopting the same tactics as were afterwards followed by the
  Mams, who fought their chief battle near Gueguetenango and then
  after their defeat fled to Socoleo. This custom of the Quichés
  appears to be similar to that of the Mound Builders in Ohio,
  who established their fortified camps in positions which were
  naturally nearly impregnable or most difficult to approach,
  and it is such as would be considered advisable by the chiefs
  of tribes who hold their territories by conquest, and would
  therefore endeavour to maintain their power by having large
  entrenched encampments, within which they would be secured from
  danger in the event of being unable to meet their enemies on
  the plains.

                             CHAPTER XII.

  The Sierra Madre. — Todos Santos. — Evening Prayer (La
  Oracion). — Indian domestic habits. — Religious devotion. —
  Goitre. — Jacaltenango. — Indian Festival. — A Temblor. —
  Indian Idolatry. — Custom of ancient inhabitants to serve
  the parents whose daughters they wished to marry. — Doubtful
  fidelity of my guide. — Condition of Mule. — Mexican Frontier. —
  Comitan. — Note on President Juarez, and the Execution of the
  Emperor Maximilian.

On our way to Jacaltenango we had to cross the Sierra Madre, a range
of mountains which traverses the centre of Guatemala. The mule track
led us over some steep and rugged ascents, and through a long and deep
barranca filled with a cold damp mist. During the greater part of the
day we were enveloped in clouds which covered the summits of the hills.
We finally reached the hamlet of Todos Santos, and obtained shelter at
an Indian rancho.

Towards nightfall we heard the distant bell of the chapel ringing
for evening prayer.[71] The Indians stood in front of their huts,
and looking in the direction of the sound of the bell, recited the
Ave Maria. This is one of the religious customs taught by the Spanish
friars that retains its influence upon the inhabitants of these remote


[Illustration: INDIAN HUTS.]

Darkness rapidly succeeds daylight in tropical latitudes, and upon my
return to the rancho I observed that the hut was lighted by a method
mentioned by the early historians of the conquest as having been in
universal use amongst the Mexican Indians. In the centre of the room
was a rude wooden stand, upon which was placed crosswise, a lighted
piece of resinous pinewood. The flame gave a sufficient light for all
practical purposes. After turning into my hammock, I watched by the
fitful glare of the firebrand, the domestic habits of the Indians. The
first thing done, was to put the child to bed, and this was managed in
the following manner:—The mother wrapped the child tightly in swaddling
clothes, until it looked like a mummy. The head was left exposed. It
was then fastened upon a flat board about three feet high and eighteen
inches wide. This board was put upright against an angle of the wall.
The child remained throughout the night perfectly quiet. The bed upon
which the father and mother slept, was a low wide frame resting on
four legs, and raised a few inches above the ground. Everything was of
the rudest simplicity. The smoke from the fire rose directly upwards
and escaped through the roof.

In the morning, while Carlos was making a cup of chocolate, the Indian
came to my side and said that he wished to ask me a question about the
people who lived beneath the earth (abaxo). He had been told, that men
like ourselves were living and moving about below us, and he could not
understand how this was possible. I endeavoured to explain to him that
the world was round, and that on the other side of the earth beneath,
things were much the same as at Todos Santos. My attempts to teach the
laws of gravitation were, however, not successful, and he went away in
a state of bewilderment, probably under the impression that the people
below were upside down.

After leaving the hamlet, we passed by the little church whose bell
we had heard upon the previous night. The door was closed, and I
noticed that it was charred by burning and blackened by smoke. I was
told that this remote church was frequently closed during the time
that the priest was away in other parts of the district, and when the
Indians came here, they stuck lighted candles upon the door as nearly
as possible in the direction of the image to which they wished to make
their offerings. The church door was consequently deeply marked by the
flames. Here, as also before the closed doors of other chapels in the
mountains, the Indians have the custom of raising a temporary altar
outside, before which they place offerings, and sit patiently in
silence for many hours. They then fill a brazier with chips of resinous
wood, and light their candles and the brazier and go away to their
huts, leaving the incense burning. This is possibly a survival of the
ancient usage of burning copal incense before their idols.

During the forenoon we went over several steep ranges of hills, and
down very abrupt descents until we arrived at the village of St.
Martin, when we stopped at a deserted shed, and Carlos proposed that
he should get ready the breakfast. It was always a pleasure to watch
an Indian lighting a fire. His materials are usually a few dry sticks,
some leaves, a flint, a steel, and a roll of prepared cotton, which,
when slightly burnt, easily catches fire from the sparks of the flint.
There was often, however, a difficulty in getting the fuel to burst
into a flame, and the steady persistent patience of Indians in doing
this is extraordinary. It was a great comfort in riding amongst the
sierras, to have always the power of making a fire. It was of still
greater importance to carry your own bed.

Each morning when starting upon a journey over an unknown country,
with much uncertainty as to where quarters would be found for the
night, there was a sense of satisfaction in seeing placed upon the
pommel of the saddle the hammock in which you intended to sleep. It
gave freedom from all anxiety with regard to the future. There was
no cause to feel any doubts respecting the beds at a Spanish posada,
or the rough interior of an Indian hut, and there was always the
prospect of obtaining, after the fatigues of the day, a good night’s
rest. In thus travelling and having at hand sufficient provisions and
fuel to guard against being by any accident in want amongst these
mountainous regions, there was a feeling of independence which was
very exhilarating. This kind of gipsy, Bohemian life was singularly
attractive, and the small element of risk from the possibility of
meeting hostile Indians was too slight to have any influence upon the
mind. There was a certain degree of solitude in thus riding without a
companion, as the guide ran several hundred yards ahead, but this was
not much felt, for there was a never ending change of scene, and every
hour brought something new and unexpected.

In the evening as we descended the slopes of the valleys, we met
numbers of Indians carrying heavy loads on their backs. I had noticed
when riding amongst the higher parts of these hills that crosses were
placed upon all remarkable positions, and at the corners where paths
branched off towards the hamlets. When passing these crosses the men
invariably took off their broad straw hats, and showed by their manner
great respect.

I was surprised at observing in the valleys that the Indians suffered
much from goitre. This unsightly growth seemed chiefly to affect
the women. It was the same in size and appearance as that which
exists amongst the inhabitants of several of the secluded valleys in

At intervals during the afternoon we heard the distant sound of the
beating of a drum calling the attention of the Indians for some purpose
which we did not then understand. When we drew near to Jacaltenango
we became aware that something was occurring which caused considerable
excitement amongst the people. We passed an open space at the entrance
of the pueblo, upon which had been built, temporarily, a “Santo” house.
It was a small round hut, within which was an image, which had been
removed from the church and placed there, in order that it should
receive special honour and devotion. Before this shrine a dance was
taking place. It represented incidents of the wars between the Spanish
Christians and the Moors during the period when the latter were finally
driven out of Spain. A little beyond the “Santo” house was the church
where an Indian festival was in progress, and an orchestra was busily
engaged within, performing a musical service. I stopped for a few
minutes to look at the strange and fantastical scene, and the groups of
swarthy, wild-looking Indians, and then rode on to the convent, where
we were welcomed by Padre Juan Chrysostemos Robles. My guide Carlos
went away to join in the festivities of his tribe.

In the morning an Indian passed rapidly through the village beating a
small drum, and later in the day, a large crowd of Indians assembled
in the square in front of the church. It thus became known that an
important meeting was to be held in order to bring about a settlement
of some difficulty or disagreement between two hamlets, with respect
to the buying and selling of lands. About three hundred of the men,
chiefly interested, gathered together. The speaking began in tones so
harsh that it was almost inconceivable that human language could have
developed into such rough and grating sounds.

These Mams were men of strong and muscular frames, compact and well
made, but they were all short in stature. Their general appearance was
wild and they had a restless manner. They came from the adjacent hills,
and it was noticeable with them as with other Indians I had seen in
the mountains, that they were darker than those living on the plains.
The meeting lasted for about an hour, and as soon as the business
was ended they immediately left Jacaltenango and returned to their
homes. I was told that the matter in dispute had been settled to the
satisfaction of all present, and that there was no longer any fear of
local disturbances.

Meanwhile the numerous orchestral services within the church were still
proceeding. It was a curious scene. The chief instrument was a large
wooden marimba made on the principle of short and long sounding boards,
the upper notes of which were played by the leading performers, whilst
three other men kept up a continuous accompaniment on the bass. It was
evidently an improvement upon the African marimba which had probably
been introduced into America by the negro slaves. There were also
violins and several rudely constructed guitars. The musical ceremonies
were performed before the altars, the Indian congregation maintaining
a complete silence. Not the least strange part of the function was the
fact that Padre Robles was an unconcerned spectator, although it was
his church that was occupied by the Indians and his “Santos” that were
being carried about and worshipped, and to whom offerings were made.

Although the music was noisy and monotonous, the players seemed to have
a correct knowledge of harmony. The Padre explained how this happened.
He said that this comparative knowledge of music was obtained in
consequence of the teaching of the friars before the dissolution of the
monasteries. These friars devoted much of their time to the education
of a certain number of Indian lads in orchestral music, in order to
train them to take part in the church services, and he supposed that
the instruction then given was kept up in some way which he did not
understand, and that young Indians were taught in their villages for
this work. He thought that the preparations for the church festivals
and for the dances were also arranged in a similar manner.

In the afternoon we went to the entrance of one of the valleys, as the
Padre wished to show me the position of an Indian “_adoratorio_”[72]
situated on the side of a steep mountain. He said he had not seen it,
but had been told by his Indians what occurred there. An idol, held
in much reverence by the Mams had its shrine inside, and the Alcaldes
charged with the duties of the religious rites and other ceremonies
relating to Indian sacerdotalism, visited it at certain seasons of
the year and offered sacrifices to it. The idol had also days for the
performance of penances, and there was one special day when there
was a solemn feast, and turkeys were killed and eaten with peculiar
observances, and the blood of the turkeys was sprinkled and offered in
a manner unknown to him.

After passing through the place where the “Santo” house was erected,
and before which dances and other ceremonies were still going on, we
returned to the convent.

Soon after sunset an event occurred which proved that a disturbance
had taken place in the interior of the earth. We were sitting inside
the precincts when we were alarmed by, what was to me, a quite unknown
rumbling sound amongst the adjacent mountains. At first I thought that
it was caused by distant thunder reverberating amongst the valleys,
but it was soon evident that the sounds were of an entirely different

The Padre, who was listening attentively to the noise, said, after
a few moments’ pause, that it was a “Temblor” or trembling of the
earth below, and that it was quite different from a “Terra Moto” or
earthquake, as it never caused any harm, although it was considered to
be a warning. According to my map, the nearest crater was the Volcan de
Tacara, fourteen leagues away in a south-easterly direction. The deep
sounds rolled like thunder beneath the massive ranges of the Sierra

When living amongst these mountains, and hearing these intimations of
great volcanic movements below the surface of the ground, it can be
understood how it came to pass that the superstitious and fanatical
Indians living in these regions believed that the earth beneath them
was peopled by evil demons capable of doing injury, who required to be
propitiated, and that when seeing the expression of their anger in the
fire, smoke and ashes issuing from the craters, thought it necessary
to appease them by offering them their daughters. It is probable that
the sacrifices known to have taken place to the volcanoes near Atitlan
and Quezaltenango were also customary throughout the long range of
volcanoes in this part of Central America.

When talking about the present customs of the Indians living in these
sierras, the Padre said that the ancient rule of young men serving for
a certain time the parents of the girl they wished to marry had ceased,
and that now it was usual for an Indian to make up his mind on the
subject, and then to begin his courtship by giving presents of maize,
fowls, or clothing to the parents.[73] Finally he proposes to take the
girl in marriage, and if they consent, he pays for her according to
his means, generally about two dollars, but sometimes as much as eight

Upon the morning of our departure from Jacaltenango, whilst I was
engaged in superintending the saddling of the mule and the various
preparations for the day’s journey, which from the neglected state
of the road was expected to be long and fatiguing, I observed Padre
Robles walking rapidly backwards and forwards in front of the convent,
evidently in a state of much anxiety and alarm.

Presently, when Carlos had moved to another part of the courtyard, the
Padre hurried to my side and said, in a very decided tone, “Señor you
must go back at once to Guatemala.” I said, “What is the meaning of
this! What has happened?” He replied, “I must not tell you, but I know
that if you do not go back to Guatemala you will be robbed and perhaps
killed,” and, he added with a look of much distress, “they will steal
your beautiful mule.” I told him that it was quite impossible that I
should return to Guatemala, and that I intended to go forward. “But,”
I said, “if you know anything about which I ought to be informed, you
should tell me what it is that you fear.”

After some hesitation, he took me aside close to the convent wall and
said, “It is this, Señor: last night my housekeeper overheard two
Indians talking together in a low tone. One of them was your guide,
the other was a man whom she did not know, and she listened to what
they were saying. They were sitting in a corner of the courtyard, just
beneath her window, and she could hear what they said. She heard them
arrange a plan to rob you and to take away your mule. Their plan was
this: At about an hour’s journey from this pueblo, you have to pass a
long hedgerow of aloes; when you arrive at the aloes, an Indian will
jump out from behind them into the road. Your guide will then come to
you and say, that the man is his brother who wishes to go to Comitan,
and he will ask if he may be permitted to accompany you. After you
have gone on for some distance, the Indians intend to come behind you
and take a favourable opportunity to attack and rob you, and, whatever
happens you will certainly lose your mule.”

After walking together within the quadrangle for a few minutes to
discuss the subject, I said, that I had no reason to doubt the fidelity
of Carlos. He had been recommended to me by the priest at Gueguetenango
as a trustworthy guide, and was considered to be a good and honest
man. He had proved himself, so far, to be faithful, and was willing
and careful; consequently I should still continue to place confidence
in him. With respect to the conversation that had taken place, I
thought that the housekeeper must have made some mistake, and had been
unreasonably alarmed. In any case, however, I said it was necessary for
me to proceed across the frontier. The Padre looked very unhappy, so I
told him that he must not be anxious about my fate, and that I would
take care to send him information about my movements. I hoped that he
would soon hear of my safe arrival in Mexico. He then gave me a letter
of introduction to his brother Captain Robles, who commanded the small
force stationed on the frontier at Lenton.

By this time Carlos had filled his pack, fitted the head band over his
forehead, and was waiting to start; so I said good-bye to the kind
Padre, and as I turned round in the saddle to get a last glimpse of
Jacaltenango, the most beautifully situated village that I had seen in
Guatemala, I observed him watching us from the top of the convent steps.

I had ridden about a league or more and had quite forgotten all about
the housekeeper and her forecast of events, when I noticed that we were
approaching a long row of tall aloes bordering the left side of the
path, and soon afterwards an Indian—a most villainous and evil-looking
scoundrel—jumped from his place of concealment amongst the aloes and
stood before me on the road. At the same moment Carlos ran back close
to the mule’s head and told me that this man was his brother who wished
to go to Comitan and asked permission to join us.

The scene was like the realisation of a dream. For a few moments I was
in doubt as to the best course to pursue, but having been forewarned
I was forearmed, and knowing that the Indians could not have the
slightest idea that I was aware of their plans, I decided to go on
without showing them that I had any suspicions. I said to Carlos “you
tell me that this man is your brother and perhaps you are stating the
truth, but he is a stranger to me and I do not like his appearance.”
However I gave him permission to join us. Carlos thanked me, and the
other Indian, who did not understand Spanish, gave a guttural sound of
satisfaction, and then both men ran forward and kept their places well
in front, at about a hundred yards distance.

In the forenoon we passed St. Marcos and halted at St. Andres, in
a district remarkable for the luxuriant growth of fruit trees and
plantains. We then descended a long hill at the foot of which we halted
for breakfast.

As the mule had shown signs of distress, I took off the saddle and
noticed that there was a broad low swelling upon her back. A muleteer
happened to be passing by on his way to Jacaltenango, and I asked him
to examine the swelling and give me his opinion about it. He told me
that the mule was ill from a “pica de luna” or moonstroke, and that
upon some previous night I must have tethered her out in the open air
exposed to the light of the full moon, whilst her back was still warm
after the saddle had been removed. I said that I remembered this having
been done. The muleteer said that the injurious effects of the moon
was well known, and that the mule ought not to have been exposed to
it so soon after I had dismounted. He thought that the swelling would
not prevent my riding her, provided that the pressure was taken off by
resting the saddle upon pads placed upon each side of the swelling, and
he arranged some rolls of padding for the purpose.

In the afternoon we were going through a desolate and uninhabited
part of the country, when I observed that my guide and his brother
were lagging on the way. Finally they dropped behind, and began to
run together a few yards in the rear. The time had now come when it
was necessary to take a decisive action. I had to be careful not to
let Carlos suppose that there were any doubts in my mind about his
fidelity, for I knew nothing of the road, and it was important that I
should appear to have entire confidence in his guidance.

I stopped the mule, and called Carlos up to my side, and said, “Carlos,
you must not run behind me. You are the guide, and must keep in front
to enable me to follow you, and not miss the track, and,” I added in
a more marked manner, “remember that you are to keep well ahead. Let
there not be any mistake in this matter, and your brother is to be with
you.” Carlos immediately obeyed my orders. There was no danger to be
apprehended so long as this precaution was taken, for I always carried
with me a small loaded revolver to defend myself in case of attack, an
event which I thought to be improbable.

When we arrived at Lenton, we were given rooms within the quarters
of the garrison. Captain Robles, the commandant, showed me every
attention, and at supper I joined the officers’ mess. In the morning
it was found that although every possible care was taken to raise
the saddle above the swelling, the mule could not bear any pressure.
Consequently I asked Captain Robles if he could provide me with a
horse. After some difficulty an animal was obtained, which although of
very rough appearance, I thought would answer the purpose of carrying
me the two days’ journey to Comitan. An Indian lad, called a mozo, was
hired to bring the horse back, and lead my disabled mule. By the time
that all these arrangements were completed it was getting late in the
morning. More than three hours daylight were lost, and it was important
with regard to my Indians to reach our next stopping place before

For eight leagues the road led through a dreary desert without any
signs of habitation, and then we reached a pond called San José where
we halted for an hour. It was quite dark when we reached a hut near
Sinigiglia within the Mexican frontier, and where I decided to stop. An
Indian and his wife were inside, but they not only refused to open the
door and give us shelter, but to all applications for food or water,
replied in the words so usually employed by all Indians when asked for
anything, “No hay.” “There is nothing.” The only thing to be done was
to make the best of the circumstances, so a supper was made from our
store of provisions, and with the saddle for a pillow, and the hammock
stretched upon the ground, I passed the night.

On the following day the sun was sinking below the horizon when we
entered the town of Comitan, and I was not sorry to find myself within
the walls of a comfortable posada, called the Hotel de la Libertad,
where I was given a room looking into the court. I was not, however,
destined to pass the night without disturbance.

After having been asleep for several hours I was startled by hearing
a peculiar noise. It was a gentle and continuous tapping, accompanied
by the word Señor spoken in a low, soft voice. It was quite dark so
I lighted the candle and asked who was there, and I heard “Señor it
is your mozo from Lenton, and I have brought your saddle, and wish to
speak to you.” I opened the door and told the lad to explain the reason
for coming to me in the middle of the night. He came in looking very
frightened and said that he was afraid of my Indians for he thought
they were bad men. He had heard them say that it was their intention
to go back with him, and he feared that when they were in the deserted
part of the country they would steal the horse; so he came to ask my
permission to leave at once. The Indians were asleep but he was afraid
that they would soon awake and prevent him from getting away alone.
He said also that the mule was safe in the stable, and that he had
brought with him the saddle, sheepskin and halter which he placed upon
the floor in a corner of the room. I thought that the fears of the lad
were perhaps well founded, and gave him directions to leave at once and
get on as fast as possible. As he still looked anxious, I assured him
that measures should be taken to prevent the Indians from following him
for several hours. The mozo thanked me and disappeared into the dark
courtyard, and I never heard of him or the horse again. It is to be
hoped that he arrived at his village in safety.

Shortly before sunrise I was awoke by a loud tapping at the door. This
time it was the landlord who came to tell me that my Indians were
making a great noise and were very excited. They were calling out
that the mozo had gone away during the night with my horse, and they
wished to see me immediately and be paid and discharged. I told the
landlord what had happened and that the mozo had left by my orders, and
then requested him not to permit the Indians to leave the inn, and to
tell them that I would not see them before the middle of the day. “I
understand you,” said the landlord, “and will do all that is necessary.”

In the afternoon at the time when I estimated that if the mozo had made
a proper use of his start he would be at least forty miles away, the
Indians were discharged, and an hour afterwards I was informed that
they had been seen on the road running fast towards the frontier.

It was now necessary to take steps to cure the mule and get a guide.
Don Manuel Castillo, to whom I had a letter of introduction, was away
at his hacienda, but his friend Don Mariana Godillo in the kindest
manner undertook to arrange everything for me. Upon an examination
of the mule it was considered advisable that she should have a few
days’ rest to allow the swelling to subside, and in the meanwhile, the
experience of local muleteers was made available in applying the most
approved remedies.

During this time the town of Comitan was in a state of unusual
excitement in consequence of the arrival of numerous bands of Indians
to take part in the festival of San Caralampio, to whom was dedicated
one of the churches. In front of that church numerous Indians were
assembled. In some respects the scene was like that which took place at
Jacaltenango, but the proceedings were more of the character of a fair
than of a religious ceremony. The plaza was covered with booths, and a
local Indian traffic was being busily transacted. Indian musicians with
drums, fifes, and fiddles were engaged in making an incessant noise.
The interior of the church was always crowded, and continuous services
were performed at the shrines. The women wore white hoods which were
drawn tightly across the lower part of their faces. The men usually
wore black yergas.[74]

Upon the fourth morning of my stay in the town, as I could not see any
signs of improvement in the state of the mule, and it was necessary not
to lose any more time, I held a small meeting of experts in the stable.
It was thought that some weeks must elapse before she would be fit to
travel, and Señor Godillo proposed to give me one of his best mules in
exchange for her, and also insisted upon giving me twenty dollars, as
he considered my mule to be well worth that additional value. In the
end this arrangement was carried out, and thus with infinite regret I
parted with my intelligent and sure-footed companion.

It was reported at Comitan that the border provinces toward Palenque
had become settled and had ceased to be in a lawless condition. This
state of things was undoubtedly due to the remarkable influence of
the President Juarez over the Indian tribes, and it was probable that
the cause of this influence was attributable to the fact that, like
Carrera, the first President of the Republic of Guatemala, he was by
birth an Indian.

Juarez was known to be an Indian of a good unmixed stock. He was born
in Oaxaca, the province bordering Chiapas on the west. Of his early
youth but little is known, but as a young man he took a prominent
part in the political movements which preceded the declaration
of Independence. He was elected a Deputy to the Congress, and in
1858 became President, and was given very extensive authority. In
considering the characteristics and capacity of the Indians in
Central America, it can never be forgotten that, during a period of
great revolutionary agitation, two unknown Indians should, in a most
extraordinary manner, have risen to the surface, and controlled the
destinies of the new Republics.

Under such conditions, requiring much administrative ability, it
might have reasonably been expected that men of a white race, either
Spaniards or belonging to the large population of half-castes of
partly Spanish descent, would, in consequence of their superior
qualifications, or their education, or military training, have taken
the lead in these revolutions. As a matter of racial capacity, it
is strange that ordinary Indians with absolutely no help from their
surrounding circumstances, should have attained the highest power.[75]

                             CHAPTER XIII.

  Camping on the plains. — A night amongst the hills in Chiapas. —
  Lopez. — Indian Sun worship. — Ocosingo. — An ancient idol. —
  Proposed expedition through the unknown region occupied by the
  Lacandones to British Honduras. — Bachajon. — Tzendal Indians. —
  Chilon. — Indian Carnival. — Yajalon. — Carnival amongst the
  Tzendales. — Drunkenness. — Dances. — Horse races. — Ruined
  Churches and Convents. — Influence of the Priests over the
  Indian Tribes. — Las Casas. — Forced labour. — The Presbitero
  Fernando Macal.

It was a fine February morning when we left Comitan. An Indian named
Lopez was hired to guide me as far as Ocosingo, three days’ journey
distant. No trustworthy man could be found who was acquainted with the
country beyond that place. With regard to the subject of safety and
fidelity, it was arranged that Lopez should receive half his wages in
advance and the remainder upon his return. The money was deposited
with my friend who engaged him. Lopez was also to bring back a letter
from me to the effect that he had performed his duty, and that I
was satisfied with his conduct. These measures of precaution were
considered to be advisable.

After a long day’s ride we reached a place where we decided to pass the
night. It was upon an open plain where we saw some muleteers encamped.
As there were no trees upon which to hang the hammock, it was necessary
to sleep on the ground. There was a heavy mist and everything was very
damp. We noticed that the muleteers had taken off the halters from
their mules and tied them together and placed the long rope thus made
in a circle, within which they were sleeping. Lopez said that I must
follow the same plan, which he explained to be a method employed to
prevent serpents from crawling near them, the rough fibrous nature of
the halter being so disagreeable to them that they would not pass over
it. Consequently I was encircled in this manner and with a saddle for
a pillow, endeavoured to get rest, but the thick mist was the cause of
much discomfort. Lopez passed the time on guard, watching the mule.

The next day as early as possible we continued our journey. After
passing a few huts called Jotána, we entered upon a wide expanse of
undulating land well studded with trees. Here we met some Mexicans
travelling on their way from their hacienda or farm. They were men,
women, boys and girls, all bright and gay, riding horses and mules,
galloping over the smooth grass land and enjoying the sunny weather.
I took the opportunity of occasionally joining the laughing cheerful
group, and I was sorry when we had to part company and follow different

In the afternoon we reached a steep, sharp ascent. The track was
difficult to trace, and in several places was almost impassable. Large
masses of stone had fallen over it. There were also numerous deep,
slippery ruts, through which the mule plunged with difficulty. It was
sunset when, after having made our way over several leagues of this
rough ground, we came to an open space, where it was thought expedient
to stop. We found two trees, between which the hammock was secured.
The mule was tethered within reach, and Lopez went to an adjacent wood
and got some twigs and leaves to enable us to make a fire. This was a
work of difficulty requiring great patience; no one but an Indian would
have succeeded. The first supply of fuel, after half an hour’s useless
endeavour, could not be ignited, and Lopez made a second expedition
to find drier materials. Finally, when I thought that it was useless
to continue the attempt, an accidental spark suddenly set fire to a
dry leaf and we were soon sitting round a blazing mass of flame, and
preparing a supper of tortillas and chocolate.

The air was too chilly and damp to permit of our expecting much rest,
and the night was chiefly occupied in attending to the fire, and
in listening to Lopez’s account of his superstitions and religious
beliefs, and those generally held by his tribe. There was something
in Lopez’s character which showed that he was possessed of a kind of
devotional enthusiasm, which made his stories of Indian faiths, past
and present, singularly interesting, because it was evident that he
spoke with earnestness and as a man convinced. Thus the night passed
away, and in the morning as soon the earliest signs of dawn appeared in
the sky, and long before the sun had risen over the hills, we continued
our journey northwards through Chiapas.

In the forenoon we reached the hamlet of San Carlos. I observed that
Lopez went to the rising ground near at hand, and stood for several
moments facing the sun, with the palms of his hands joined together and
raised to the level of his face. He seemed to be muttering a request.
When he returned I asked him what he had been doing. He said that the
Indians of his tribe always thanked the sun in the morning for coming
and giving light, and thus enabling men to work. In the evening they
again thanked the sun for what had been done, and asked it to return
again. They also offered prayers to the moon for the same reason,
because it gave light and helped men to live. The stars they did not

In answer to questions that I put to him, he said that the Indians
always prayed or made offerings with reference to the world in which
they lived, and for objects relating to themselves and their wants,
and never took into consideration anything regarding a future life.
He thought it was impossible to know if a man was to live again, or
whether he was to be given some other shape or kind of existence.
I told Lopez about the “adoratorio” in the Sierra Madre above
Jacaltenango. He declared that the Indians near Comitan also had a
stone image in a cave amongst the hills. He went there once a year to
light a candle, “la sua candela,” before it, but it was usual amongst
the men of his tribe to go there more frequently. The image was about
two feet six inches in height, and had its arms folded. It was one of
the ancient idols worshipped before the conquest.

From San Carlos there was a ride of six leagues over a less difficult
road, and as we approached Ocosingo we passed through some fine
scenery. The path followed the line of the summit of the hills, and
commanded extensive views of both valleys. At Ocosingo, I called upon
Don Remigio Salorzano, to whom I carried a note of introduction. Don
Remigio told me that the ancient Indian ruins were over a league from
the pueblo, but that there was very little to be seen there.

The temples were almost destroyed, and the materials had been taken
away for building purposes. There were, however, fragments of stones
covered with hieroglyphic characters still remaining there. I went with
him to look at some idols that had been brought from the ruins. One of
these at once arrested my attention. It was made of hard sandstone, and
was about three feet high. The head was broken off, and had been taken
away to prevent the Indians from worshipping it. I at first thought
that the idol must have been made subsequent to the Spanish occupation
of this part of Mexico, for by the costume it seemed to be intended to
represent a Spanish cavalier. In front of the waist belt there was a
small head surmounting a rudely shaped cross.

It appeared as if the native sculptor had wished to make the image
of a knight holding before him a head, such as is not infrequently
seen in early sacred pictures.[76] But although this was the vague
impression made upon the mind by an examination of the front of the
statue, it was evident upon looking at the reverse side that the date
of its sculpture was of a much earlier period, for it was covered
with an upright line of hieroglyphics of the same character as those
carved upon the idols at Copan. I examined with care the details of the
figure, and made sketches of the front and back, as I thought that it
would be useful to preserve a slight memorial of this idol which may
eventually share the fate of many others and be destroyed.

[Illustration: Indian statue. Ocosingo.]

Two larger idols were placed against the wall of the church. These
were also headless. Don Remigio showed me several long stones that
were used for the door steps at the entrance of some of the largest
of the huts occupied by Ladinos and which had been taken from the
ruins. One of these, made of limestone, was covered with deeply carved
hieroglyphics still quite clear and distinct. In front of one of the
dwellings there was a flat stone measuring about three feet square. On
the surface of this stone were two figures. A woman in an imploring
attitude was presenting a cup to a man, who was standing up and bending
forward to receive the offering. The wall of an adjoining house was
partly built with stones also taken from the temples. They had a
perfectly smooth surface and were each about two feet long, one foot
wide and two inches thick. Similar stones were scattered about the
pueblo, and many were used as stepping stones across the stream that
flowed eastwards to join the waters of the river Usamacinta.

The church, from its size and manner of construction, had been
evidently of considerable importance. It was then in ruins and the roof
had fallen. As there were no funds available for its restoration it was

The Gefe Politico, who held the appointment in this town and district
of Civil Governor, spoke to me about an expedition that was under
consideration, for constructing a road or mule path to connect this
part of Mexico with the English port of Belize in Honduras. He thought
that if such a road was practicable it would become the principal
line for trade, and the ranges of mountains near Tumbalá would be
avoided. This was to be the primary purpose of the expedition, but
there were other objects which influenced the minds of the inhabitants
of Ocosingo. It was thought that the surveyors might make strange
discoveries in the mysterious and unknown region occupied by the
Lacandon Indians. Possibly amongst the forests in the sierras, temples
and hidden treasures might be found; or perhaps a city where the
ancient ceremonies and sacrifices were still performed.

The Gefe said that a small band of explorers had lately penetrated
a few leagues into the forest, and had seen several circular shaped
huts, but the Indians who lived in them had fled. They found maize and
tomatoes growing upon the open spaces, but they saw no horses, dogs or
other animals. He pointed out to me the hills amongst which the wild
Lacandones lived. It was afterwards suggested that I might take the
post of leader of the proposed expedition.

If I had been quite free, with sufficient time at my disposal, I
should have been much inclined to assist to the best of my power in
the formation of a preliminary surveying party. I thought that a
practicable route would be found to connect Ocosingo with the existing
road leading from Guatemala to Flores, on the lake of Peten, and
thence to Honduras, and that, in this manner, the distance to Belize
would be much shortened. The first portion of the survey would have
to be conducted through a region which is unknown, and possibly many
interesting facts would be ascertained, and perhaps an ancient ruined
temple might be discovered.

Whilst staying at Ocosingo I collected a small vocabulary of the words
of the local dialect. These were nearly the same as those spoken near
Comitan, and I was surprised to find that Lopez could not carry on a
conversation with these men. I asked him how this happened and he said
that the languages (lenguas) were quite different, and that he could
not speak with the Ocosingos. It seems probable that, in the course of
time, the construction of the phrases commonly used, or the manner of
the application of the words must have become changed. Although it is
only three days’ journey between the two tribes, it is evident that
there cannot have been much communication between them for several

As Lopez did not know the country beyond Ocosingo, it was settled that
he should return to Comitan. I was sorry to part with him. He had
carried the luggage and provisions, and although a part of the journey
must have been extremely fatiguing to him he never complained. He
also showed the utmost zeal in obtaining forage for the mule, and was
willing and attentive. Don Remigio hired for me a guide named Bito, who
spoke Spanish and knew the paths as far as Chilon, about eleven leagues
distant. Bito brought with him a horse, and thus we were able to travel
at a fair speed. After riding through several leagues of pine forests
we reached Bachajon in the afternoon.

Bachajon was a strictly Indian village, for the natives objected to any
white people or Ladinos settling amongst them. In the Plaza we found
numbers of Indians congregated together. They differed greatly from
those that I had hitherto seen both in appearance and dialect. The
men wore a white cloth folded round the head, and white frocks and
trousers. The women wore a white frock cut open and square over the
shoulders, and below this a blue skirt reaching nearly to the feet.
Their thick black hair was tied back with a strip of bright red cotton.
Many of the younger women were handsome, but their figures were spoilt
and bent by the custom of carrying large water jars on the hip. The men
were of a larger stature than the natives on the Pacific side of the
Cordilleras, and their skin was of a dark copper colour. Their faces
were broad, but the cheek bones were not so high as is usual with the
North American Indians. Their hair was long, black and very thick, and
their eyes were dark, large, round and restless. With all of them the
nostrils were very wide.

The church was in ruins, the roof had entirely disappeared, and only
the porch and outer walls remained standing. I remained for several
hours in the Plaza, and my attention was directed to a remarkable
observance. The Indians, when returning from their fields upon the
completion of their day’s work, invariably, before going to their
huts, went to the front of the ruined porch. There they knelt down
and prayed for some minutes. I was deeply interested in observing the
practice of this custom. There was something that appealed strongly to
the imagination in witnessing the simple and earnest devotion of these
wild, ignorant and uncivilised people. It was impossible to conjecture
what was present in their minds, as one by one they, in their solitary
manner, knelt devoutly before these ruined walls. Possibly they
worshipped in their memory the images that, many years before, had
been enshrined within.

In the evening, as we approached Chilon, we met hundreds of Indians,
men and women, all of whom came forward by the side of my mule, and
inclined their heads saying “Tá” (Padre.) Bito told me that they
supposed that I was a priest, and that they expected me to follow the
custom of the priests and put my hand upon their foreheads. As I did
not wish to sail under false colours, I made an objection to this
proceeding, but Bito said that if I did not do it the Indians would
feel distressed, and would not understand why they were treated in an
unkind manner. He also begged me to do what they wished, or otherwise
some trouble might arise, as many of the men appeared to be in a
half-drunken condition.

At Chilon I was welcomed by the Justicia, to whom I had a letter from
Don Manuel Cansino. The town was in a state of much excitement. It was
the commencement of the Carnival, an event which caused a considerable
degree of anxiety and apprehension in the minds of the officials.
Processions of Indians, dressed in appropriate costumes, were marching
through the town, and groups of wild-looking men were dancing to the
sounds of rudely shaped fifes and hollow wooden drums. In the morning
these Indians, in accordance with their annual custom, performed a
dance before the door of each house. These dancers were supposed to be
dressed like the conquerors. They wore red, slashed doublets, and loose
white trousers. They carried spears or lances with coloured pennons.
The scene was bright, gay and picturesque.

During the day I discharged Bito, and obtained a guide to accompany me
to Yajalon. We arrived there about sunset and the Presbitero Fernando
Macal received me with much kindness and attention. At Yajalon the
Indians had assembled in great numbers and the Carnival was at its
height. Here as at Chilon, the performances chiefly consisted of
processions and dances. There were also horse races in front of the
cabildo, and one of the most curious scenes was the representation of
the Spaniards entering a captured city on horseback. The Indians were
Tzendales of the same race as those at Bachajon and were very wild
looking men. An important part of the festival consisted in eating as
great a quantity of food as possible, and drinking copious draughts of
strong spirits. In the evening there was much drunkenness.

The Carnival lasted for three days, and during that time I had to
remain in Yajalon, as no Indian could be found who would willingly
leave this scene of revelry and excitement. On the second day the
President called upon me at the convent, and informed me that, in
his opinion, it would be highly dangerous for a white man who was a
stranger, to venture out into the open country before the Indians had
recovered from the effects of the carnival, as, in consequence of their
known hatred to all white people, it was impossible to say what might
happen when they were in an excited condition. In anticipation of local
troubles he had organised a small police force which was employed in
patrolling the pueblo day and night, for the purpose of preventing any
quarrels of castes. He had also a company of seventy soldiers prepared
to act in the event of any serious outbreak. As far as I could judge,
the Indians, when in a drunken state, were quiet and inoffensive, but
the President was evidently very anxious about their conduct.

As I had no share in the responsibility for maintaining good order, the
strange life and the sounds of drums and fifes and marimbas afforded
me inexhaustible pleasure and amusement. The pretty dresses of the
women also added much to the charm of the scene. Many of these Tzendal
women were very handsome. Their heads were well set upon finely shaped
throats and shoulders. Their costume consisted of a long white frock
cut open round their neck, and embroidered with red and yellow squares,
which had a pleasing effect of colour. But not only was the festival
attractive from the quaint and novel character of the scene, but it was
also most enjoyable weather. The skies were blue, the sun was bright,
and the surrounding hills and valleys formed an agreeable contrast.
There was perhaps a slight, underlying sense of danger and a doubt as
to what would occur after sunset, and what might be the effect of the
subsequent orgies upon the savage natures of these Indians. Possibly
what began at daylight as a drama might end at night as a tragedy.
The conduct of the timorous half-caste population or Ladinos was
remarkable. They were conscious that they were hated by the Indians,
and consequently they remained within their houses, and kept themselves
out of sight.

The dances and processions are said to have been taught by the Spanish
monks. It is evident that they usually have some connection with the
events of the wars between the Spaniards and the Moors, for the Indians
always speak of these representations under the general name of “los
Moros.” But they are also mixed up with other subjects which, not
improbably, have some relation to events that happened before Cortes
conquered Mexico.

There was a peculiarity in the Indian character which was noticeable in
all their proceedings. This was the absence of all conversation amongst
the numerous spectators. The games, races and processions, the beating
of the wooden drums and the continuous sounds of the marimbas went
on incessantly, but there was no other noise and no murmur of human
voices. The gift of speech with these tribes seems almost unnecessary
for the purposes of their lives, and the language of signs would
possibly be sufficient for their requirements.

The Spaniards in the sixteenth century were astonished by the
extraordinary debauchery of the Indians during their festivals. The
events which occurred upon these occasions, especially in Yucatan,
surprised the soldiers belonging to a nation remarkable for its
sobriety. The Indians in Cuba, Hayti, and the islands of the Caribbean
sea, and those inhabiting Florida, the valley of the Mississippi, and
other parts of North America, had no knowledge of an intoxicating
spirit. The origin of the excessive insobriety amongst the Mexican
Indians is clearly traceable to the indigenous growth of the Maguey
(_Agave Americana_). This aloe grows abundantly in the sterile regions
of Central America, and supplies a fluid which, after undergoing
certain preparations, is highly alcoholic.

At Yajalon, as at Bachajon and Ocosingo, the church was in ruins. There
was nothing left of it except the bare walls, marks of the old altars
and parts of the chancel. Long grass was growing over the ground of
the nave. The convent was also in a ruinous condition and only one
side of the quadrangle remained. The interior was overgrown with weeds
and grass, and was used as a pasture for the horses belonging to the

The Presbitero was eloquent upon the subject of the wrongs suffered by
the Catholics in Mexico, and he particularly dwelt upon the harm that
had been done to the people in consequence of the decrees which had
nationalised the possessions of the church, suppressed the convents and
abolished all religious fraternities. He thought that the withdrawal
of the monks would have an injurious effect upon the condition of
the Indians, and that they would gradually relapse into a state of
ignorance and barbarism. Thus the system begun by Bishop Las Casas,
and carried on afterwards by monks and priests would come to an end,
and all their efforts to advance and benefit the aboriginal tribes be
rendered useless and vain.

It is difficult at this distance of time to estimate correctly the
value of the work done by Las Casas, and the consequences of the
enactments in favour of the Indians, obtained by his appeals to the
Spanish government. In this diocese of Chiapas his zeal led to the
establishment of numerous churches and convents. Dominicans and
brethren of other orders came over from Europe for the purpose
of living amongst these Indians, converting them, educating them
and forming centres of local civilization. To a certain extent the
ceremonies of the church, and especially the worship of images, seemed
to obtain a powerful hold upon the devotional nature of many of the
tribes, and the monks obtained great influence over them.

Thus far the work begun by Las Casas unquestionably did much good in
this and the adjoining provinces. The exhortations of the principal
authorities of the Church in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
were also beneficial in moderating the hardships inflicted upon the
natives by the Spanish landowners. But in advocating the cause of the
Indians, Las Casas, in the fervour of his zeal, created evils the
effect of which he could not have foreseen. It was in consequence
of the measures adopted through the representations of this ardent
reformer that negro slavery was introduced into America. It was also
chiefly owing to his efforts that consecutive ordinances was decreed,
which, although issued with the intention of putting a stop to the
harsh treatment of the Indians, made it almost impossible to carry on
successfully the government of New Spain. Thus, by the abolition of
forced labour, it was found that there was an immediate danger of the
lands granted to the Spaniards becoming thrown out of cultivation and
their owners ruined. In no part of New Spain was this danger more to be
apprehended than in the neighbourhood of La Antigua Guatemala, and in
the country through which I passed on my way to Santa Cruz del Quiché.
The lands there were fertile and the farms prosperous. The Indians
performed labour upon them under fixed rules which, although strict
and exacting, were not opposed to their previous habits. When these
regulations were withdrawn the Indians ceased to work. Finally protests
were made to the government, and it was pointed out that this usage
of forced labour was not introduced by the Spaniards, but that it had
previously been practically the base of the tribal administration.

There was another usage which was stopped by orders from Spain. This
was the employment of natives as carriers of merchandise. The abolition
of this system was found to be disadvantageous to the prosperity of the
country, and it was submitted to the king that it had always been the
custom amongst the Indians to transport all things by men working as
porters, for before the arrival of the Spaniards there were no horses
or other beasts of burden. The practice of personally carrying heavy
loads still forms part of the habits of all the inferior classes of
Indians in Central America.

The restrictions enforced upon the Spanish landowners did not however
much affect the prosperity of the church, particularly in the more
remote districts, where the priests and friars devoted themselves to
the spiritual welfare and education of the natives. At the convents,
schools were established for boys and, in the chief towns, sisters
belonging to nunneries in Spain, came across the Atlantic to teach
the girls. The monks also endeavoured to arrange that the boys upon
completing their studies, should teach other Indians and thus spread
education amongst them. These exertions which, in their origin,
seemed to promise well were not subsequently attended with success,
and the authority of the brethren declined. Finally the declarations
of Independence, the revolutions, and the establishment of republics,
dealt a fatal blow to all educational work.

Amongst the various consequences of the nationalisation of
ecclesiastical property, it had come to pass that in the country
parishes, there were no funds available for maintaining the churches in
repair, and they were all rapidly falling into ruins. The Presbitero
was convinced, now that the influence of the priests upon the
characters of the tribes was no longer felt, and the church services
were not maintained, that the Indians, especially the Tzendales under
his care, would return to the practice of their ancient idolatries.

Upon a subject so doubtful as the effect of the teaching of the priests
upon the minds of the Indians it is difficult to form an opinion.
In the sixteenth century the Roman Catholic religion appeared to be
willingly accepted by the natives; but several of the priests that I
had met and who discussed this question, were in doubt as to whether
this readiness to conform with the ceremonies had not some vague
connection with some previous religious customs. The influence of
the friars also possibly had some relation to the system of Indian
priesthood before the conquest; for, according to the statements
of the Spaniards, there was a strange and inexplicable coincidence
between certain regulations by which they were bound, and those of the
Franciscans and Dominicans.

It was fortunate that during my detention at Yajalon I was the guest of
a man so well informed and highly educated as the Presbitero Fernando
Macal. It was an exceptional fate for him to be thus placed in that
parish, with its numerous detached hamlets, to perform clerical duties
amongst these intractable tribes. At the convent in the evening, the
Presbitero usually discussed questions of theology, together with his
opinions upon the aboriginal and mixed races in Chiapas. The President
occasionally joined us, but his mind was preoccupied with anxiety about
the maintenance of order. All the time, both day and night, the pueblo
was disturbed by the continuous and monotonous sounds of native music.

On the fourth morning the Carnival was over and a dissipated,
savage-looking Tzendal named Villafranca appeared at the convent
wall, and volunteered to act as my guide to Tumbalá and Palenque.
The necessary arrangements were made to secure the fulfilment of his
duties. The mule was brought out of the quadrangle and we were soon
ready to start. I was warned that the paths over the sierras were in a
bad condition, and that many difficulties would have to be overcome in
passing through the forests.

                             CHAPTER XIV.

  An Indian steam bath. — Tumbalá. — Sierras and Forests. — San
  Pedro. — Desertion of guide. — Alguazils. — Construction of
  Indian huts. — Habits of Indians. — Cargadores. — Crossing a
  River. — Forests beyond San Pedro. — Powers of endurance of
  Indians. — Arrival at San Domingo del Palenque.

The base of the sierra whose summit we had to reach before night, was
about two leagues from Yajalon. After having ridden that distance I
expected to see some indications of Tumbalá, but not being able to make
out anything, I asked Villafranca where it was. He pointed upwards
towards the sky, and said “En el núbe, (in the cloud) Señor.” In effect
it was just possible to see the church amongst the clouds which were
sweeping over the highest ridge of the Cordilleras.

The greater part of the day was passed in making the ascent, which was
a steep and continuous rise for over three leagues. In the afternoon,
when we had attained to a considerable height, we left below us the
bright and sunny daylight, and entered into the region of cloudland.
The weather became cold and gloomy, and as we approached Tumbalá it
was scarcely possible to see our way for we were moving in a dark fog.
Near the outskirts of the hamlet we passed close to a structure of an
unusual shape, not unlike an oven. I was afterwards informed that it
was used by Indians in time of sickness and was practically a steam
bath. The methods of using it were similar to those adopted by many of
the tribes in North America. The patient finds inside a supply of water
to generate steam. Heated stones are passed in from outside and these
he drops into the water. This system is said to be efficacious in the
disorders to which men living amongst the Cordilleras are subject, and
which are probably caused by exposure to sudden changes of temperature.
It was strange to see amongst these remote sierras a practice which
seemed to establish the fact that there were links connecting these
Mexican Indians with the Dakotas in North America, the natives of
Hawaii, and the Maoris in the distant islands of New Zealand.

When we arrived at the walls of the convent it was evident that there
was a general state of commotion without and within. Some event had
happened, the nature of which I was unable to ascertain. The precincts
were crowded with numerous groups of Indians and Ladinos. The priest
was living in a large shed. The quadrangle was apparently used as
a farmyard and was filled with cattle, horses, mules, turkeys and
fowls, all wandering about at their own free will, and causing an
indescribable disturbance. The mists were so thick that it was quite
impossible to make anything out clearly.

Inside the shed the state of affairs was equally confusing. Men, women
and children were busily engaged in preparing to pass the night under
the protection of the roof, and were choosing their sleeping places.
As it was necessary to find room without delay, I told Villafranca to
hang my hammock to the rafters as near to the fire as possible. We then
went out and tethered the mule upon a level open space beyond, which we
thought to be convenient for the purpose, but the clouds were so dense
that we could not see what we were doing. After some further trouble,
supplies of forage and water were obtained, and placed within the
mule’s reach. We then returned to the shed within which the priest was
endeavouring to find suitable quarters for his numerous visitors.

Later in the evening we were joined by a young couple who had just
been married, and wanted shelter. It happened that there was an Indian
bedstead available and this together with two extemporized pillows
was placed at their disposal. When it became night, we sat round the
fire and cooked our suppers, and then sleeping mats were unrolled and
spread upon the ground. The Cura placed his mat near the fire, beneath
my hammock. Amongst the crowd were several young mothers who had
their infants with them. These little creatures were duly attended to
and their wants supplied. The mothers then proceeded to roll them up
tightly in swaddling clothes until only their heads were visible. They
were afterwards placed in a row against the wall, where they looked
like diminutive Egyptian mummies, their large round eyes staring at us
in a most unmeaning manner. When all these various arrangements were
completed the doors were closed.

What happened during the night I do not know, but upon awaking in the
morning I found that I was alone and that the shed was empty. All the
numerous inmates of the previous night had departed. I turned out of
my hammock and joined the Cura who was walking in front of his ruined
convent. He said he would accompany me for a few hundred yards to the
outer edge of the sierra, to look at the world around and beneath us.

The clouds had disappeared, the sun had risen brightly above the
eastern horizon, the sky was blue, the air felt pure and exhilarating,
and the view was magnificent. Not only did we command range upon
range of these Cordilleras, but there were also extensive views of
the valleys below us. Beyond, looking northwards, were the savannahs
and the tropical lowlands near Palenque; and in the far distance the
sunlight was flashing upon the calm waters of the Laguna de Terminos.

Near at hand were groups of wild-looking Indians watching our
movements. The Cura said he believed they belonged to the Maya
race, and were allied to the tribes that occupied Yucatan. In their
appearance they were like the Tzendales near Bachajon. They were
strongly built men, rather low in stature, and very dark in colour;
their eyes had peculiarly rounded orbits, and their long black hair
was cut square over the forehead. They spoke a language which sounded
very rough and abrupt. The Cura observed that the Indians dwelling
amongst the mountains were daily becoming neglected, and that they
were left entirely free to follow their own beliefs and customs. In
consequence of there being no regular stipend for the clergy, it had
become impossible to maintain a sufficient number of priests to
carry out the duties. He had to superintend the parishes at Tumbalá,
San Pedro, Palenque and the districts around Las Playas, near the
river Usamacinta, and therefore he could not attend personally to the
numerous and scattered Indians placed under his charge.

Upon our return to the convent, Villafranca came to me and reported
that the mule was ready and that he had got his machete sharpened
in order to clear away any branches or brushwood that we might find
to be obstructing the track. He added to his pack some part of the
weights carried by the mule, as it was necessary that she should be as
free as possible, to push her way through the woods, and we reduced
the quantities of food and other necessaries to the lowest amount
practicable. A young Mexican who was going to the seacoast came with
us as far as the entrance to the forest. He then told me that he should
not attempt to go through it with his clothes on, so he stopped and
stripped to the skin, and tied his clothes up in a bundle which he
fastened to the top of his head. He was a white man of mixed descent
and in his action he showed some elements of the nature of his remote
Indian ancestry. He ran rapidly to the front, plunged into the forest
like a lithe athletic young savage, and was soon out of sight.

As it was not possible to ride I dismounted, and we began to descend
the steep sides of the mountain. It was very hard work. Villafranca
led the way. I followed close to him, holding the halter at its full
length, to prevent the mule as she slipped forward from falling upon
me. This manner of progression was made difficult by the obstinate
conduct of the mule. She would occasionally attempt to choose her own
way and go the wrong side of a tree, and as no energy expended in
trying to get her back was of any use, I had always to yield and to
follow her round the trunk. Upon one occasion she got away into the
forest and was nearly lost. The guide at once threw off his pack and
went after her.

The instincts of an Indian were apparent in his proceedings. He
carefully marked every step of his advance through the dense
undergrowth by cutting down small branches of the trees and placing
them on the line of his track. He also here and there, but always
on the left hand side, cut notches in the trees or bent some twigs
backwards. After a few minutes interval he returned triumphantly with
the mule, and after this experience I took care not to allow the halter
to leave my hands again.

The fatigues of the day were beyond description. I had been prepared
to expect difficulties from the steepness of the ascents and descents
and the growth of the underwood, but there were other obstacles which
were previously unknown. Our track was constantly barred by creepers
which crossed from tree to tree in festoons like thick ropes. They hung
loosely in bends and bights in every conceivable shape, but usually
they swept the ground in semicircles. Others were hanging in graceful
loops three or four feet above the ground, so that the mule was unable
to pass under them. There were also miry, swampy places in which the
mule sometimes sank to an almost dangerous depth. But what I found
to be the most serious trial was the want of ventilation. There was
absolutely no movement in the air or any sounds of life, and there was
very little daylight, for the rays of the sun above did not penetrate
to the ground.

The forest was dark and gloomy, and the atmosphere most oppressive.
The want of a proper supply of fresh air to breathe made the journey
extremely exhausting. After struggling for several hours down the
rugged slopes of the first mountain, we reached a narrow valley and
crossed a small stream. We then had to climb up another sierra so
steep that it required all my available strength to reach the summit.
From this height there remained another league to be traversed down a
steep rocky slope to a wide open savannah, upon which was situated San
Pedro. Towards sunset we arrived at the village and found shelter under
a shed, within which was installed the official who ruled over the
district, and who was called the Maestro.

In the morning I discovered that during the night my guide had
deserted. Possibly some accident may have happened to him, but in my
opinion his conduct was a deliberate act of desertion. I reported the
case immediately to the Maestro, but Villafranca could not be found
and I never saw him again. It was supposed that he found the work and
fatigue of the day greater than he had expected, and was not willing to
make his way on the morrow through the equally dense forests between
San Pedro and Palenque. If this surmise was correct his view of the
situation was quite intelligible, but as I did not consider that an act
of this kind should remain unpunished, I arranged with the Maestro that
a letter from me should be dispatched to Yajalon where the man had
been hired.

I wrote to the Presbitero Macal an account of the desertion and
requested him to bring the case to the notice of the alcalde, in order
that Villafranca should receive a punishment in accordance with the
custom of the country, and that he should be deprived of his wages
which had been left in the Presbitero’s charge. I also requested that
this money should be given to any of his deserving or distressed
parishioners. In justice however to this Tzendal, it should be noted
that he did not rob me. I found everything carefully piled up in
a corner of the shed; saddle, clothes, rug and the remains of the
provisions sufficient for one day. The mule was safely tethered outside
the door.

I was thus placed in a very insecure position and had to rely entirely
upon my own resources. The hamlet was surrounded in all directions
by sierras and forests, and I had not the slightest knowledge of the
mountain passes. With regard to food I could manage very well as I was
able to make a fire and was prepared to make the provisions last for
more than one day if necessary, but in other respects I was entirely
dependent upon the good will of the San Pedro Indians about whom very
little was known, but who were considered to be untrustworthy.

The Maestro declared that he would do all that was in his power to
assist me, and promised that he would get a guide who would go with
me to Palenque. But he said that he could not find a man at once, and
that it would be necessary that I should stop in the convent until the
following day. In some respects I was not sorry to be detained, for I
was thus enabled to have some spare time to see something of the habits
of life amongst the inhabitants of this isolated village, so singularly
placed in the heart of these remote Cordilleras. I observed that the
Maestro maintained towards those who were placed under his rule a
dignified and reserved manner. He was supported in his authority by two
alcaldes, and two alguazils who were Indians elected annually for these
posts. The alguazils wore suitable dresses and performed regular police
duties, walking at intervals about the village, carrying long wands of
office. It was also their custom to visit the Maestro occasionally,
attend to his wants, and render such personal service as he required.
In obedience to his directions, they obtained for me supplies of maize
and water for the mule, and tortillas and beans for myself, and thus I
was able to cook a tolerable breakfast.

During the day I wandered amongst the huts within and near the hamlet
in order to see something of the natives who lived in them and were
said to follow the ancient customs and habits of domestic life. Near
the borders of the savannah some Indians were building a large hut and
I observed a method of construction which, although absolutely the
reverse of any system that I had previously known, was most suitable
for their wants. In the first place the roof is built. This when
completed, looks like an open thatched shed resting upon upright poles.
The eaves are brought down low, but sufficiently high to enable a man
of moderate height to pass under them without stooping. When the roof
is considered firm and secure, the four walls inclosing the room are
made. They are usually constructed of crossed laths and sticks, and
thickly plastered over with a kind of mud which has a good binding

The walls are raised until they reach within a short distance from the
slope of the roof, a sufficient space being left for the escape of
smoke. The size of the hut and the height of the walls are determined
by the width and slope of roof. A few rough cross poles are placed
across the top of the walls for the purpose of hanging up any household
goods, and sometimes at one end some of these poles are placed close
together so as to form a platform, where bags of maize and other farm
produce are kept or dried. When the roof is wide and the overhanging
eaves are low there is an agreeable and well shaded space outside the
main hut, where the Indians rest during the day.[77]

As far as it was possible to judge from a passing observation the
Indians at San Pedro seemed to be a contented race. They cultivated
their milpas or corn fields sufficiently to get enough to supply them
with maize bread and pozole, and at most of the huts there were fowls
and a few pigs. The women laboured in some form of household work,
and much of their time was occupied in grinding the maize to make
tortillas. At this village, as in others chiefly inhabited by Indians,
there was an absence of any human sounds. In the interior of the huts,
as also outside them, all the occupations of life were performed in
silence. In the evening, when the men returned home from their work,
there was the same manner of moving about without noise. There appeared
to be also an absence of all interest in what was happening around
them, which gave an element of sadness to the scene. Their lives seem
to be passed in a state of quiet melancholy and listlessness.

This condition of the Indians is practically the same throughout this
part of Central America. The problem of existence is worked out in its
lowest terms. It cannot however be said that they live in want and
poverty, because they have no wants. They exist, and are apparently
content to exist, in the state in which they find themselves placed.
The bare ground, a thatched roof, bedstead, a few mats, some firewood,
and a small store of maize suffice for the necessities of their lives.
Their submissive natures assent to these conditions and they seem to
accept their fate with passive resignation.

Upon my return to the shed in the evening, I found that it was
enlivened by the arrival of a busy, loud-voiced Spaniard named Don Pepe
Ortiz. He informed me that he was travelling from Oaxaca towards the
coast of the Gulf of Campeachy with a cargo of tobacco. He had with
him a band of cargadores to carry the bales. He also employed for
his own personal use a man of great strength to carry him in places
where he could not ride a mule. The direction of his journey over the
sierras was for some distance the same as my own, and he proposed that
we should, without delay, make arrangements for crossing a river which
occasionally was difficult to pass over. I had not heard that there was
a stream of any importance in our way, and I asked Don Pepe to do what
was expedient. Accordingly he sent on an Indian to order several canoes
to be in readiness for us on the following morning.


At sunrise my new guide José arrived and we all started together. After
riding about a league we reached the bank of a river, called the San
Pedro, which we found to be a deep stream about three hundred yards
wide. The passage was not made without difficulties, chiefly caused by
the conduct of the mules, when they reached the opposite bank, which
was very steep. The canoes were in attendance, and I selected one
which seemed to be convenient for the moderate weights to be carried.
The mule was fastened by the halter to the stem of the canoe, and
swam across with ease, but she obstinately refused to go on shore at
the proper landing place, and consequently, after several unavailing
attempts, I allowed her to go free and choose for herself. She swam
down with the current for about a hundred yards, and then with much
good judgment she selected her own spot and scrambled safely up the

After having successfully accomplished my crossing, I watched the
movements of Don Pepe and his men in their canoes. It was a picturesque
scene, but it was within two hours of midday before we were all
established on the northern side of the river. We then commenced the
dreaded ascent about which many warnings had been given to me. It was
a steep climb for five long leagues and it was nearly sunset when we
reached the summit. We stopped for the night in a small shed which
sheltered us from the dew.

Don Pepe’s Indians arrived after us and insisted upon lighting a large
fire just outside the hut, with the object they said of keeping away
tigers, and kept it burning like a bonfire as long as it was dark. At
daylight José and myself and mule began the descent of the opposite
slope of the sierra. I had been told that we should find this part of
the journey very arduous, but it exceeded in difficulty anything that I
had imagined.

The track, or opening through the trees had almost disappeared, and
we had to make our own way between detached masses of sharp, angular
rocks. Frequently it was necessary to scramble over them or to slide
down them, and it occasionally seemed to me that we were going at
random down the side of the mountain. But what made our progress more
than usually difficult was the fact that, in several places, decaying
trunks of large trees had fallen across our path, and as it was not
practicable to get the mule over them, we were obliged to diverge into
the forest to pass round them. When it was thus necessary to quit our
line of direction, José would instantly draw his machete and mark
our movements by cutting down branches, so as to secure the means
of retreat to our starting point, in case we failed to find the path
again. I was quite aware of the importance of this action. It was
astonishing to find how in a few seconds in a dense forest and amongst
thick growth of underwood and creepers all knowledge of direction seems
to be lost.

The length of this precipitous descent was a little more than five
miles, and we took four hours to accomplish the distance. During that
time I never saw a glimpse of the sky, although I knew that, above the
trees, the sun was shining brilliantly.

In the forenoon we reached the banks of the Nopá, which ran at the
base of the sierra, and halted there to rest. We then passed over the
river, and pushed or cut our way through two leagues of dense forest
and thick brushwood. There were also several small streams with low but
steep and slippery banks that had to be crossed. Finally we reached and
forded the river Michol. The worst was then over, and we emerged from
the forest and saw before us a savannah where we decided to encamp. I
obtained a slight shelter under the sloping roof of a little open hut,
which had been left there by some passing Indians. Thus ended a most
fatiguing day.

Don Pepe and his Indians arrived after sunset and encamped near us. The
methods adopted by these Indians when preparing to pass the night upon
an open savannah were instructive. In the first instance they placed
upon the ground a quantity of broad dry leaves to protect them from the
damp grass. They then dispersed, and in a few minutes the adjacent
forest resounded with the noise of the blows made by their machetes.
They returned bearing loads of firewood and also several strong forked
branches. These they sharpened at one end and fixed into the earth
near the camping place to form supports to carry the bales of tobacco.
In this manner the cargo was raised about three feet, and thus they
carried out the invariable rule of Indians who never leave anything
upon the ground at night. They then lighted a large fire.

There were characteristics with respect to these Oaxaca Indians, which
I had already observed on the previous day, but which more particularly
came under my notice upon this occasion. They had gone through a long
day’s work of most severe labour, and yet upon settling down for
the night’s rest they neither ate any food or drank any water. My
guides, who were not, like these men, trained to carry great weights
for considerable distances, were also able to live upon very small
quantities of food and never seemed to be tired at the end of the day’s

It was the custom of each Indian before leaving his home to provide
himself with a small quantity of a substance called pozole, which was
prepared for him by his wife. This was usually made in the following
manner. A sufficient quantity of maize was partly boiled, until the
grain could be easily removed from the husks. These softened grains
were then ground upon the metatl or grindstone until a thick paste was
made. This was either put into a little bag or rolled up in a green
leaf. This paste was the principal part of the food that was carried,
but sometimes the wives gave their husbands a supply of tortillas. To
make these, the grains of maize, after being slightly boiled, are put
upon the metatl, and rolled out into a very thin pancake; this is taken
off the stone and put upon a large leaf and made into a round shape.
It is then placed upon a pan and held for a few minutes over the fire,
until it is properly baked, when it becomes a tortilla. With a few of
these and his scant store of pozole an Indian always considers himself
to be amply provisioned until he returns to his village or secluded
country hut.

My guides took their principal meal about noon. A portion of the paste
was taken out of the leaf and placed upon the palm of the left hand, a
small quantity of water was then mixed with it until it became slightly
fluid and then it was eaten. In the evening they usually took more
pozole and a tortilla, after which they would drink some water mixed
with enough of the pozole to make it become the colour and consistency
of thin milk. In this manner they avoided drinking pure cold water.
This was the daily food of my Indians, upon which they could go long
journeys carrying considerable weights, and they never appeared to be

The cargadores are trained from boyhood to carry heavy burdens over
great distances. Don Pepe expected them to travel eight leagues a day.
But when carrying lighter loads they will sometimes travel for several
consecutive days at the rate of nearly forty English miles a day. When
the cargo-bearers were moving in single file with their burdens, they
looked like the Tamemes bearing tribute to Montezuma as represented
in the ancient pictures. It is probable that these men were enduring
labours similar to those that had been performed by their ancestors for
centuries before the arrival of the Spaniards.

In the morning the Indians proceeded on their journey towards the
coast. We followed a path leading in another direction, through open
and wooded lowlands. Finally after a ride of four leagues we reached
the savannah upon which is situated the village of San Domingo del

Never have I known a moment of more keen pleasure and satisfaction,
than that when José pointed out to me this beautiful spot. I had become
fatigued by the hardships of the previous days, and the buoyancy
of mind that was felt in getting at last into a region of life and
sunshine cannot be adequately expressed.

We stopped to ask where Doctor Coller lived, and were shown the
position of a low, thatched cottage, at the door of which stood the
only European living in the village.[79] I was received by him with
friendly welcome. My hammock was placed under the shade of the
projecting thatch. The mule was set free to wander at will amongst the
plains, and I was advised to take twenty-four hours complete rest. On
the following forenoon I made arrangements for proceeding to the ruins,
and a few Indians were sent there to open the path, and to clear the
inner courts of the palace from weeds and brushwood.

San Domingo del Palenque is placed upon a rising grassy slope studded
with fine trees. The church was in ruins and roofless. The population
consisted chiefly of Ladinos. The Indians lived in secluded places near
the outskirts, where they cultivated their milpas or cornfields. There
was a charm about this sunny fertile savannah and the simple habits of
life of its inhabitants, which must be attractive to men of sensitive
temperaments. The land is fertile, corn is abundant, and cattle, horses
and mules wander over the green pastures in freedom.

It was an unusual series of circumstances that had caused Dr. Coller to
settle for life in this remote part of the world. He told me that he
was a native of Switzerland and was born at Zurich. He was educated in
that city but completed his studies at Berlin. Much of his early life
was passed in different countries. About ten years before my arrival,
he felt a wish to see Palenque and found his way to this region from
the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Upon reaching the village he was
fascinated by its beautiful situation, its repose and its proximity to
the ancient ruins in which he felt the strongest interest. He found
that the life at San Domingo had an attraction for him which he did
not wish to resist, and he decided to make this place his home, and
married a native who possessed, in her own right, some land in the

Dr. Coller was a man of varied and extensive information and an
excellent linguist. He had devoted much time, not only to the
investigation of the Indian antiquities, but also to the study of the
geology and botany of the district, and I was much pleased when he
proposed to accompany me to Palenque. It was of the greatest advantage
thus to have the benefit of his accurate knowledge of the positions of
the mounds and temples.


                              CHAPTER XV.

  Palenque. — The Forest. — The Palace or Monastery. — Night
  at Palenque. — Brilliancy of the light of the fireflies. —
  Pyramidal Mounds and Temples. — Tablet of the Cross. —
  Hieroglyphs. — An Indian Statue. — Antiquity of the Buildings. —
  The Tower. — Stucco Ornamentation. — Action of the tropical
  climate upon the Ruins. — Note upon the decipherment of the
  hieroglyphic characters.

It was a bright tropical morning when we mounted our horses and
followed the narrow path leading to Palenque. After riding for a league
through woods, savannahs, and cornfields, we reached and crossed the
river Michol.

As we approached the ruins, the forest was so thick that we were not
able to see anything beyond the track which had been cleared for us by
our men. At a distance of about three Spanish leagues from San Domingo,
we came to the borders of a small running stream. Dr. Coller stopped
and said that at this point we should dismount, as we had arrived at
our destination. We then went up a steep slope, on the summit of which
I could see dimly, the pillars and ruined roof of the “Palace.”

Our Indians met us at the entrance. They had already cleared the
brushwood which had overgrown the quadrangles, and had removed all that
interfered with any exploring work that they thought we might wish
to carry out. The luxuriance of the vegetation was surprising. In one
of the open courts we observed a large plant which we found to be a
species of arum. The leaves were of an extraordinary size, and averaged
four feet six inches long by three feet six inches wide; the stalks
were over seven feet high.

The greater part of the day was occupied in making a survey of the
ground plans of the building, as far as it was possible to trace them
amongst the accumulations of fallen ruins. Upon the completion of this
work, and after having made an examination of the series of small
chambers below the corridors, it became evident that the building
was erected with the intention of establishing a monastery, similar
to those which were described by the historians of the conquest of
Mexico as being dedicated to the use of the priests who worshipped
and performed ceremonies at the shrines of the god Quetzalcoatl, and
who, in addition to those duties, were given the charge of educating
the children of the chiefs. They also trained those youths who were
intended to become priests.

It is to be regretted that this great structure was called by its first
discoverers “The Palace,” and that its purpose was rendered perplexing
by theories connected with the dwellings of Kings or Caciques.

According to the investigations of Mr. Stephens, its extreme dimensions
were two hundred and twenty-eight feet long, by one hundred and eighty
feet wide. The height of the rectangular mound upon which it is placed
has been variously estimated. It appears to have been about twenty
feet high. Upon the summit of this platform was built with stone and
mortar, the various foundations upon which the buildings and galleries
of the monastery were erected. The base upon the east front was about
ten feet high. The height of the building may be estimated to have been
nearly twenty-four feet. Thus it may be concluded that the whole height
from the ground to the roof must have been approximately fifty-four
feet. The architectural proportions seem to have been well designed.

The interior gave me the impression of being Moorish in its style,
especially with respect to the open inner courts, the arrangement
of the corridors and the lavish employment of stucco ornamentation,
brilliantly coloured. A closer investigation into architectural details
left the subject in doubt, but there still remained upon the mind the
feeling that in some unintelligible manner, the construction had been
directed either by foreigners or by Indians who were partly descended
from men of foreign origin. The forms of ancient mosques and of the
inner courts and quadrangles of Arabian or Moorish and Spanish public
buildings were indistinctly recalled to the memory. It was however to
be observed, upon an examination of the methods adopted at Palenque
in supporting the weight of the roofs, that the arches (if it is
permissible for that term to be applied to straight converging slopes
covered with flat coping stones,) are absolutely exceptional and unlike
any other arch that is known. I was reminded, to a certain extent, of
the ruins of Alatri, near Mycenæ on the plains of Argos, and of an
Etruscan tomb near Perugia, but the system employed by the American
architects, in placing the cap or terminal cross stones was essentially

In the exploration of the ruins our attention was chiefly directed
to certain doubtful points, particularly with regard to the chambers
which are beneath the corridors, and are entered from the level of the
courts. There have been several conjectures respecting the purposes
of these cells. I think that it is probable that they were used as
dormitories. In some of the chambers there was a low, wide stone table,
placed against the wall at the end. These benches were large flat
smooth slabs of limestone supported on four stone legs. In height,
shape and dimensions they were like the wooden bedsteads used by the
Indians at the present time.

There is a square tower in one of the inner courts which must be
considered as the most singular structure in Palenque. In position and
manner of construction it is abnormal in character. It was probably
intended for some special object, after the monastery had been
completed. When Captain Del Rio saw this tower, in 1787, he estimated
its height to be sixteen yards. In 1870 there were heaps of rubble
and fallen stones piled against the base, which made it difficult for
me to make exact measurements, but an approximate estimate gave the
sides of the square near the base as twenty-three feet, and the height
about forty-five feet. The peculiarity about the construction is the
fact that it consists of a tower within a tower. The inner structure
contains a steep and narrow staircase. Light is obtained through large
openings in the sides of the outer tower, and then through smaller
openings in the walls of the interior one. The steps appear to have
led up to the top. The walls are formed of rough slabs of limestone
which had been thickly coated over with cement, portions of which
still remained. It was raised to a height which commanded views of the
adjacent temples.

Upon my return to the eastern front, I found that the Indians had
slung the hammocks in the outer corridor overlooking the forest. A
few minutes before sunset we heard the strange and beautiful notes of
a solitary bird singing amongst the ruins. The song resembled in its
tone that of a thrush. Dr. Coller said that the bird was a kind of
nightingale, and that it was only known to live within and around the
Palenque temples. The bird sang in a slow, deliberate manner, each of
the notes having a short interval of time between them. The song was
maintained during the twilight, and ceased as soon as it became dark
and the night had begun. It was an evening hymn to the setting sun.
The hoarse screams and movements of troops of monkeys then disturbed
the precincts. These harsh noises gradually stopped, and as the
night advanced the forest became silent. The moon was up and we knew
that it was shining brightly above the trees, but we could only see
occasionally its faint glimmer. I had expected to hear the croaking of
frogs or the sounds of cicadas, the usual accompaniment to a tropical
evening, but although there was a running stream of water at the foot
of the mound, these familiar sounds were absent.

The brushwood covering the ground was made brilliant by numerous
fireflies. The light which shone from these beetles far exceeded
anything of that nature that I had seen in other regions, and I took
the opportunity of ascertaining the strength of the illuminating power.
I sent one of the men into the wood to catch the largest firefly
that he could find, and then, after having made the corridor dark by
extinguishing our candles, the insect was held about two inches from a
blank page of my note book, Dr. Coller watched the experiment. We found
that the light was steady and shed a soft clear phosphorescent glow
over the paper. The luminous power was sufficient to enable us to read
or write with ease over a surface two inches square. After writing a
few notes upon what had been done during the day we added:—

  “Written by the light of a firefly in the Palace, in the ruins
  of Palenque, the night of Wednesday, March 10th, 1870, the
  candle (firefly) held by Dr. Albert Coller. The light about
  equal to that of a small wax candle and very pure. The light
  rather greenish.”

                                                  “Dr. A. J. COLLER.”

Before turning into my hammock I visited the horses tethered at the
base of the mound near the stream. They were much worried by flies,
mosquitos, and small ticks called garrapátas, which find their way
under the skin and cause great irritation. In the corridor, thirty
feet above them, we were not troubled with any of these pests, but
there were numerous bats. The Indians said that, sometimes, horses were
seriously injured by bats biting them above their hoofs.

In the morning, upon the earliest indications of dawn, the solitary
nightingale again began its song, and the clear staccato, and
singularly musical note was again heard amongst the ruins until
sunrise, when it ceased. Thus this bird sang its song of praise as the
herald of the day.

At sunrise Dr. Coller returned to San Domingo, leaving me alone at
Palenque to carry out the investigation of the mounds and temples, a
work which he thought would be laborious and oppressive. My guides
were however well acquainted with the ruins, and I consequently
knew that I should be spared all unnecessary exertion. But until I
began the exploration I had no idea of the difficulties that had to
be encountered. The men were employed in cutting a path through the
brushwood and it was impracticable to do more than follow a certain
line of direction and obtain ideas of distances by counting the
number of paces or by noting intervals of time. I soon ascertained
that with the means at my disposal it was hopeless to expect to do
more than obtain a general knowledge of the extent and form of the
chief structures, and the positions of the mounds. It was a serious
disappointment to find that it was impossible to make a thorough
examination without the aid of a large number of Indians to cut down
the trees and clear the ground. This would have been a work involving
much time and expenditure and was entirely beyond my power. The forest
was sombre, for the light that penetrated through the trees, was
insufficient. It was however possible to obtain a fair knowledge of the
extent of the space covered by the mounds, and their distances from the
monastery. The ground plan of the inclosure could also be approximately

The first and, with respect to its altar, the most important building
that I saw, was that known by the name of the Temple of the Cross.
Before ascending the sides of the mound upon which it stands, I
examined the formation of an ancient causeway which covered, for some
distance, the stream near its base. I traced it for about one hundred
and fifty yards. A small portion was sufficiently preserved to enable
the system of construction to be ascertained. It appears to have been
intended for the purpose of confining the rivulet that ran beneath it,
and thus to secure a dry roadway, or crossing, during the rainy season.
It was stated by the Indians, that there still existed, in the forest,
the remains of a stone bridge. As far as I could understand their
description, it appeared that in shape it was not unlike the ancient
Chinese bridges, and rose to the centre by steep gradients.

After finishing the measurements of the causeway we began to ascend
the mound. About halfway up the slope, the men stopped and pointed to
a place where, lying with its face on the ground, was the stone of
the cross. As this tablet had been the subject of much investigation,
and is undoubtedly, with respect to its meaning, the most remarkable
monument at Palenque, I was anxious to examine it with the utmost care.
I directed the Indians to turn it over and thoroughly clean it from
moss and dirt, so as to enable me to make a sketch of it. I found that,
in consequence of the action of the earth upon the face of the stone,
parts of the sculpture were difficult to trace, but the central figures
were quite distinct. I was able to make a satisfactory outline,
chiefly confining my attention to the cross, the bird surmounting it,
and the dress of the man, having in his hands what seemed to be a
child, which he was presenting as a votive offering.

The bird, with its long double tail feathers, was probably the
representation of the Quetzal, the sacred bird of the Quichés, and
thus it may be assumed that the temple in which this tablet formed the
centre of the altar-piece, was dedicated to the worship of the god
Quetzalcoatl. But, judging by the peculiarities of the dress worn by
the principal worshipper, I formed the opinion that he was not, as has
previously been supposed, a priest offering sacrifice. The worshippers
and the offerings have, I believe, other significations.[81]

The temple, placed upon the top of the mound, must have been—when it
was externally perfect—a graceful and well proportioned shrine; but
when I saw it, the outer walls were so enveloped in brushwood and
enclosed by trees, that it was not practicable to do more than obtain
a conception of its proportions. After having measured the length,
breadth and height, and made a ground plan, I examined the interior.
A corridor ran along the front; within was the chamber which had
contained the inscribed stone slabs which formed the back of the altar,
in the centre of which had been the figure of the cross. This, and the
right and left hand tablets, had been all closely joined together so
as to form one subject,[82] the meaning of which was probably explained
by the hieroglyphic characters. The right hand tablet, which had been
removed, I had already seen at the museum in Washington.

After leaving this sanctuary, we descended the southern slope until
we reached the base, and then began to ascend the adjoining mound, on
whose summit was another temple. Thus we proceeded until we reached a
singular little structure which has been considered to be exceptional,
from the fact that the figure upon the altar had been placed upon a
base supported by what are supposed to have been two tigers. I could
only trace the remains of the feet, as everything within and without
the temple was in ruins. Following the direction of the quadrangular
precincts, we finally crossed over an unusually lofty mound, and then
arrived at the back or western face of the monastery.

We had completed a slight survey of the mounds and temples on the sides
of the inclosure, having passed successively over them and examined the
altars, as far as their more or less ruined state permitted. These all
varied in their dimensions, but they were evidently built for analagous
purposes as shrines for the worship of the Indian gods.[83] There was,
however, one important exception which requires to be noticed.

At the south-west angle of the monastery—and connected with it in such
a manner that it seems to have been an adjunct to the main building—are
the ruins of a structure which has been considered to have been a
temple, but which, I think, served for a different purpose. It stands
upon a mound about forty-five feet high. Its frontage was found to be
longer than that of any of the other temples. In the interior there
was no altar, but the upright slabs of stone placed upon the inner
wall were covered with hieroglyphs. When the Indians, who accompanied
Mr. Stephens, saw these groups of characters they declared that the
building was an escuela or schoolhouse. Other opinions were also given,
but the subject has not received any investigation. I think it is
probable that the opinion of the Indians was correct, and that it was
here that the boys were taught the meaning of the hieroglyphic symbols,
and were thus able to read and interpret the signs placed upon the
idols and altars.

In the afternoon we re-entered the monastery. We had been for nearly
seven hours occupied in crossing over the mounds and clearing a path
through the forest, and yet at no time did I estimate that we were more
than five hundred yards from our starting point. At the end of this
part of the day’s work, I found that I was able to establish some
deductions respecting the positions and heights of the raised platforms
and the character of the stone edifices.

It may be concluded that Palenque consists of a group of mounds having
buildings upon them exclusively devoted to the purposes of religion.
In the year 1840, five of the mounds had temples upon their summits
which were in a fair state of preservation. The survey of Captain
Antonio Del Rio was made in the year 1787, and, as he was an officer
of the Artillery, his Report, with respect to the general plan, and
the bearings and distances of the mounds then remaining, may be
accepted as being correct. He states that he visited the ruins called
Casas de Piedras (stone houses) on the 5th of May, and finding that
nothing could be distinctly made out in consequence of the forest,
he engaged a large number of Indians from Tumbalá, who felled the
trees and afterwards cleared the ground by fire, thus opening up a
sufficient space to enable him to observe the true positions of the
mounds and buildings. He found that they were all contained within a
rectangular area, four hundred and fifty yards long and three hundred
yards wide. In the centre was the mound upon which stood the largest
structure. This was surrounded by other edifices, “namely: five to the
northward, four to the southward, one to the south-west, and three to
the eastward.”

Thus it appears that in 1787 there were thirteen mounds with buildings
upon their summits, besides the large platform earthwork upon which
was placed the “Palace.” In 1806, nearly twenty years afterwards, the
Spanish Government ordered another survey to be made. The expedition
was placed under the orders of Captain Dupaix, who had served as
an officer in the Dragoons. He reported that, at that time, eleven
temples were still standing. Thirty-four years later, Mr. Stephens
could only discover five temples not utterly ruined. It is strange that
in these short intervals of time, such changes should have happened
amongst monuments of this nature. With regard to this subject, it is
of consequence to notice the statements given by the local authorities
who made the original discoveries which led to the survey of Del Rio.
The explorations were conducted, under the orders of the Spanish
authorities at Guatemala, by one of the principal inhabitants of
the village of San Domingo, named Calderon, aided by the Government
architect, Bernasconi. In their Report, which was made only three years
before that of Del Rio, they declared that there were evidences of the
ruins of numerous houses occupying a large space of land to the west
of the temples. Nothing was known by my Indians upon this subject. It
should, however, be observed, with respect to undiscovered ruins, that
any rumours relating to what may, or may not, exist in the heart of a
tropical forest, must necessarily be doubtful, for where nothing can be
seen, except what may happen to be found in the direction of the path,
much must be unknown.

On the slopes of the ground in front of one of the temples I saw a
large and rudely carved statue, which in consequence of its form
and manner of sculpture is of much importance. There is reason to
believe that it was intended to represent Quetzalcoatl, an Indian god,
a mythical or real personage, who, for many reasons connected with
Palenque, requires to have an especial consideration given to him. It
is a distinctive characteristic of this statue, that the features are
essentially different from those of the Indians whose figures are to be
seen upon the altars of the temples and within the courts and corridors
of the monastery. These have receding foreheads and sharply defined
prominent faces, quite unlike the present races in Central America, but
in a marked degree resembling the tribes of the North American Indians,
who had the custom of flattening the heads of their children.

The statue by my measurement, was a few inches more than eight feet in
height, exclusive of the lower part of the stone, which tapered off in
such a manner as to show that it had been originally placed upright and
fixed in the ground. The feet stood on a base upon which was carved the
hieroglyph which probably denoted the name. The forehead was low and
straight. The face was completely different in type and expression,
from that of any known race of Indians. The head was surmounted by a
kind of high tiara. The left hand held in front of the figure a small
head, in the same position as in the little figure at Ocosingo.

As, after completing the circuit of the mounds, there were still a few
hours at my disposal before leaving Palenque so as to reach the village
before nightfall, I decided to devote the time to the investigation of
certain problems regarding the age and construction of the buildings.
But in the first place, attention should be directed to the manner in
which the open courts within the monastery are disposed, and access is
obtained to the rooms beneath the corridors. Commencing from the east
front, there are two ranges of corridors which are separated throughout
their whole length by a strong wall, which receives the thrust of the
two inner slopes supporting the roof. There is only one entrance or
means of communication between them in the existing northern portion
of the ruins. The interior width of each of these galleries is about
seven feet four inches. After passing across them, the principal court
is reached and the floor of the open space is seen ten feet below.
A wide flight of large and well hewn stone steps leads down to the
bottom, which appears to have been paved with several layers of cement.
This court is twenty-eight paces wide. The rooms are entered through
doorways in the sides of the inclosing walls. Opposite to the first
flight of steps there are similar steps leading to a second series of
corridors. Passing through these, another court is reached, and beyond
is the outer gallery which runs along the western side of the building.
The total width of this cross section of the monastery is approximately
one hundred and seventy-six feet.


When wandering amongst these courts, and looking at the vestiges of
an unknown state of civilisation, I endeavoured to form conclusions
with regard to the purpose and antiquity of all that was seen. The
problem is difficult to solve. It has been surmised that the temples
of Palenque were erected during a period not exceeding four centuries
before the Spanish conquest. This opinion was based upon what has been
observed with respect to the condition of the ruins, and the freshness
of portions of the colouring of the stucco. This method of estimating
comparative antiquity presents some local difficulties.

The square tower was originally faced with thick cement, and then
covered with washes of colour, in the same manner as the walls of the
Teocallis in the Quiché city of Utatlan upon which the faded colours
are still visible. If the existing outer coating was the only one that
had been given it would be reasonable to infer that the age of the
tower was not great. But it happens that in those places where portions
of the stucco have fallen, there have been numerous applications
of colour, and therefore admitting that the latest may look bright
and fresh, it is not possible to estimate the periods that may have
elapsed between the dates of successive layers. Although I was at first
inclined to think that the building could not be ancient, yet a more
careful examination left the subject indeterminate. Any conclusions
which may have been thought probable on account of the state of the
walls and roofs are equally uncertain. With regard to this matter it is
necessary to take into consideration certain existing conditions.

Immediately behind the ruins are the slopes of the sierras which
I traversed on the way from Tumbalá. They are covered with loose
fragments of the limestones of which they are formed. These were the
building materials used by the architects of the temples. Their small
size and flat surface were suitable for the purpose, when combined with
mortar, the mixing of which the Indians well understood. The walls of
the monastery were made with layers of these flat stones bound together
with quantities of this mortar. The outer faces were carefully arranged
to receive a thick casing of cement, which was so hard and sound, that
it is evident the builders must have had an accurate knowledge of the
best proportions of the substances required for its composition. The
cement had a smooth surface and in several places it was still perfect.
The colours laid upon it are red, blue, yellow and white. They appear
to have been made more or less vivid and varied in accordance with what
was thought necessary to obtain good contrasts. The stucco figures and
scrolls were skilfully designed, and were coloured in a manner which
was harmonious and effective. The sound state of the cement where
it is sheltered from the action of the rain is extraordinary. It is
strange that in this tropical climate where, for half the year there
are continuous and heavy rainfalls, the variations from the damp, close
atmosphere in the summer to the dry season of winter should not have
had a more destructive influence upon buildings, mainly composed of
rubble and mortar.

In one instance, that of the tower, the astonishing growth of tropical
vegetation has had the effect of preventing its fall. Thick creepers
have wound themselves like strong ropes around the walls and bound
them firmly together. The walls at the corners of the entrances to the
courts were remarkably uninjured. The cement was intact, and this, even
in positions where it might have been expected that, in a long course
of time, in consequence of being partly exposed and partly sheltered,
it would have broken away and fallen.

It would be justifiable to conclude from these evidences of stability
that the buildings are comparatively modern. But there is a difficulty
with regard to this assumption which has to be considered. In the
year 1525, when Cortes on his march from Mexico to Honduras passed
with his expeditionary forces within a few leagues of this place, the
temples had been already abandoned. Consequently not less than four
centuries must have now elapsed since Palenque was deserted. If then,
within the tropics, buildings made of such perishable materials have
remained for that long period in a fair state of preservation, it may
be inferred that there are some local circumstances which have caused
an exceptional power of resistance to the disintegrating action of the
climate. The forest may have afforded some protection, and therefore
the age of the monastery may be greater than might be estimated from
the condition of the ruins.

There are, however, other facts which are opposed to any theories
of great antiquity. The Indians had cleared, for my inspection, the
stone steps leading from the western side of the principal court.
Upon these were carved groups of hieroglyphs which were in an almost
perfect state. The edges of the steps were unworn. It was therefore
made evident that in an open court, completely exposed to the weather
and the influence of the tropical rains, inscriptions graven upon the
surface of these flat stone slabs had remained uninjured.

After looking at the sculptures, and the coloured stucco figures which
adorned the piers and inner walls, I endeavoured to establish some
standard of comparison by which I might be able to form well-founded
conjectures regarding their age. I thought of various ruins in Egypt
and Asia Minor, then of those belonging to later periods in Italy
and Great Britain, but there were such essential differences in the
materials used, and the influences of the atmosphere, that it was not
possible to establish any assured conclusions. Opinions formed upon
the results of an examination of the temples on the mounds would
be equally unsatisfactory, for some of them, especially in their
interiors, were in a comparatively good condition, others were in
ruins. But, there are proofs of a moderate antiquity. The lintels
that once supported the walls over the doorways and other openings
have completely disappeared. In only one instance, which came under
my notice, were there any signs of the thick, hard beams of zapote
wood which had been employed for that purpose. A broad lintel in the
monastery had left its impress upon the under surface of the wall which
had weighed downwards upon it. The marks of the fibre and the shape
of the lintel were clearly defined upon the mortar. Dr. Coller found
amongst the ruins a piece of this wood. It was exceedingly heavy and
close-grained, and was of the nature of what is known, in the East
Indies, by the name of iron wood. The zapote trees grow chiefly in the
forests in the valley of the Usamacinta and towards the lake of Peten.

When the evening drew near, I called my Indians together and entered
the forest on the way back to the village. As I rode slowly forward
I felt that these mysterious ruins contained a secret which has yet
to be unravelled. The priests of a powerful race, having strange and
unknown forms of religion, had been for centuries worshipping at these
shrines. Within the sanctuaries were graven upon tablets of stone those
records which, when interpreted, may throw some light upon what is now

                             CHAPTER XVI.

  Mounds in the valley of the Usamacinta. — Lacandones. —
  Catasaja. — Canoe voyage. — Rivers and Lagoons. — Alligators. —
  Jonuta. — Cortes’s March to Honduras. — Cannibalism. — The
  Mexican Emperor Guatimozin. — Palisada. — Laguna de Terminos. —
  Island of Carmen. — Campeachy. — Yucatan. — Pyramidal Altar. —
  Human sacrifices. — Tzibalché. — Maya Indians. — Arrival at

At San Domingo Dr. Coller showed me a chart which he had drawn of
the country around for a distance of twelve miles, exclusive of the
neighbourhood of Palenque where the forest prevented him from making a
survey. Upon this chart he had placed the positions of eleven mounds
that he had discovered. They were situated near the left bank of the
Usamacinta. On the slopes of these mounds were loose slabs of worked
limestone which he thought must have formed part of houses built on
their summits. Some excavations had been made and it was proved that
the mounds were not burial places.

I met in the village the proprietor of a small hacienda near Balancan.
He told me that in one of his fields there was a large mound forty feet
high, which must have had a building upon it, for on the top there
were large blocks of squared stone. He wished to know what the mound
contained and had therefore dug through it, but he found nothing but
a curved grindstone precisely similar in shape and size to those now
used by the women in the neighbourhood. In the adjoining land he had
found near the surface numerous terra-cotta idols, but he had not seen
any human bones. It is a coincidence perhaps of some importance, with
reference to the origin of the race once occupying Palenque, that a
grindstone was also the only thing found within the mound opened by
the orders of Carrera on the plains of Mixco, in that part of Central
America which, before the conquest, had been occupied by the Quichés.

San Domingo is occasionally visited by groups of the wild Indians
called Lacandones who live isolated amongst the adjacent forests.
Dr. Coller told me that during his ten years’ residence, he had seen
several of these men enter the village for the purpose of exchanging
beans, tobacco and wax for spirits and other goods. They were always
dressed in long white cotton frocks which reached nearly to their feet,
and they wore their hair loose and very long. They seemed to be of a
shy and inoffensive disposition. It is probable that they are of the
same tribe as the Indians who live scattered amongst the Cordilleras
near Comitan, a few of whom occasionally come down to that town from
the forests bringing for barter bags of cocoa beans.

The journey from Palenque to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico had to
be made by rivers and lagoons. The embarkation place was at Catasaja,
where canoes were to be obtained. After riding eight leagues through
forests and savannahs we reached “Las Playas,” where I was welcomed by
the Licenciado Vadillo. Catasaja was a flourishing village, prettily
situated on the upper waters of a branch of the Usamacinta. It was in
an unusually busy state. Preparations were in progress for holding a
fair, and celebrating the annual festival of the church. Great numbers
of Indians and Ladinos were expected to arrive from the surrounding
country, and sheds were being built as shelters for them. In the
morning, at an early hour, I found that Señor Vadillo had made all
necessary arrangements for my journey, and had secured for me a good
canoe manned by trustworthy Indians. With his assistance I was able to
sell my mule. The saddle and hammock were retained as I should want
them in Yucatan.

In the forenoon the men reported that the boat was ready. After
paddling swiftly down the stream for several leagues we entered a
channel whose muddy banks were covered with alligators. The river also
swarmed with them. Upon several occasions I thought that the canoe was
in danger of being capsized by the waves made by the alligators, in
consequence, as we approached them, of their habit of slipping off the
bank into the river, and I told the Indians to be careful. They said
that the canoe was perfectly safe, but that if, by any accident, we
should be rolled over there was nothing to be feared, as the alligators
never attacked people in the water. I was doubtful about this theory,
although it may be correct. It is well known that natives in other
parts of the world have been seized by alligators when incautiously
going too near them when they were watching for their prey on the
banks. But I do not know if there is any evidence to show that they
would seize men in the same manner if they were actually floating in
the water.[85]

Lower down the river we came to a place where the stream was sluggish.
The banks were flat and covered with dense vegetation. Here we saw
an extraordinary scene. The water was thick, green, and putrid with
animal matter. The surface was covered with the inflated bodies of dead

Large carrion birds were feeding upon them in the most revolting
manner. Their claws were firmly fixed upon the hard skin of the
reptiles, and they drove their beaks, like pickaxes, deep down into
their entrails and gorged themselves with the decaying flesh. The
stench was horrible, and together with the oppressive heat, the foul
state of the air and the enormous mosquitoes, made this part of the
journey very disgusting.

At sunset we arrived at a place called Jonuta, near the junction of the
river Palisada with the river Usamacinta, and the canoe was hauled
up on the bank. We could not have been far from the spot where Cortes
crossed over on his march to Honduras, one of the most extraordinary
military expeditions, through an absolutely unknown country and amongst
unknown men, that has ever been successfully accomplished. This part
of the march through the forest and across the numerous streams of
the estuary of the Usamacinta was especially difficult and laborious,
and at one time, the forces were driven to great straits for want of
provisions. The events that occurred here are described by Bernal
Diaz, who accompanied the troops, and by Cortes in his despatch to the
Emperor Charles V. One of these events was so remarkable that it at
once arrests the attention.

The Spaniards and their Indian allies had been for several days
suffering from famine, and the state of affairs in the camp was
becoming serious. It was then discovered that several acts of
cannibalism had taken place. “It appeared,” states Bernal Diaz, “that
certain Caciques from Mexico had captured two or three of the Indians
belonging to the villages that we had passed through, and had brought
them hidden amongst their baggage, and on account of the hunger on
the road they killed them and roasted them in ovens which were made
under the ground with stones, as was their custom in Mexico, and they
devoured them, and in the same way they had also secreted the two
guides that we had with us who had run away, and they ate them. When
Cortes knew what had happened he ordered the Mexican Caciques to be
called together and spoke angrily to them, and told them that if such
things occurred again he would punish them. The Franciscan friar, who
accompanied us, also preached to them many holy and good sayings and
after he had concluded his sermon Cortes, as a matter of justice,
ordered a Mexican Indian to be burnt on account of the murder of the
Indians that they had eaten.”

Cortes in reporting this punishment to the Emperor says,—“I ordered
him to be burnt, giving the said Señor to understand the reason for
this act of justice. That it was because he had killed an Indian and
eaten him; which act was forbidden by your Majesty and that I, in your
Royal name, had notified and ordered that it should not be done, and
that therefore for having killed and eaten him I ordered him to be

Another strange event that took place whilst the troops were in this
region, was the tragic fate of Guatimozin, who had succeeded Montezuma
as Emperor of Mexico. It is difficult to understand what could have
been the object that Cortes had in view when he ordered this monarch
to be executed. He may have thought it expedient to destroy, as far
as possible, the whole race of caciques throughout New Spain and thus
minimise the risk of any organized rebellion. These chiefs ruled with
absolute power over the natives, and it is possible that the Spanish
authorities deemed it advisable to get rid of them. Hundreds of them
were burnt alive at the stake upon the slightest pretexts. After one
of the local insurrections the officer who suppressed it reported that
he had burnt forty of the rebellious caciques. In a similar manner the
leaders in Cuba and Haiti were also destroyed.

In the case of Guatimozin, Cortes considered that he and his cousin,
the King of Tlacupa, had been proved guilty of conspiring with other
Indians to kill the Spaniards; and he accordingly ordered them to be
put to death. The sentence was immediately carried out, and the two
Mexican monarchs were hanged upon a tree within sight of the army as it
continued its march through the forest.

The positions where these events occurred can only be approximately
determined. The wooden bridges which were constructed for the passage
of the troops have disappeared. All local records of this famous march
have passed away. The villages or pueblos mentioned by the conquerors
no longer exist, and their names are forgotten. It is only by the most
attentive study that even a presumptive knowledge of the route can be
obtained. From the accounts given in the official dispatches and the
statements of Bernal Diaz, and also from the fact that Cortes steered
a straight course by compass, it may be concluded that the forces must
have passed near Jonuta and about twenty-eight miles from the ruins of

With respect to the acts of cannibalism it should be observed, in
justice to other tribes, that the caciques who devoured the bodies were
Mexicans, and there are reasons for believing that before the arrival
of the Aztecs cannibalism was unknown in Central America. The method
of cooking by baking in ovens which, after the holes had been dug out
of the ground, were surrounded and covered by heated stones, are the
same as those that were customary with the Maoris in New Zealand, who,
after their fights, feasted upon their captured enemies in that manner.

Upon the evening of the day upon which we left Jonuta, we reached
Palisada and brought to an end our wearisome canoe voyage down the
Usamacinta. At Palisada the logwood, which is obtained in the forests
bordering upon the upper parts of the rivers, is gathered together and
shipped upon small schooners which carry their cargoes of palo tinto
(red wood) to the town of Laguna on the island of Carmen, whence the
wood is sent to Europe and other parts of the world.

In one of these little fore-and-aft rigged schooners I embarked and
proceeded on my way down the river. In the afternoon we stopped in a
place where we could get some shade until sunset. I found a shelter
within a hut near the bank. Throughout the night the atmosphere was
very oppressive. We slowly made our way by the help of a small boat,
manned by our Indian crew, which took us in tow. All of us suffered
greatly from the attacks of myriads of mosquitoes. On the following day
we arrived at an open sheet of water, called the inner lagoon, where
it was perfectly calm and we had to endure on the open and exposed
deck, the full strength of the tropical sun. In the evening a strong
head wind called “el Norte” sprang up, together with heavy squalls and
showers of rain which continued all that night and the whole of the
next day. As we could not make any headway we anchored. The sun was
very powerful and it was not possible to escape from its influence.
The Indians appeared to be much affected by the weather and were in
a worn and prostrate condition. I had to endure, equally with them,
the alternate exposure to extreme heat and cold driving rain. During
the night the wind moderated, and towards the morning we weighed our
anchor and proceeded to the entrance of the outer lagoon and waited for
daylight. As the sun rose, the wind suddenly shifted, and we sailed
rapidly across the bay to the anchorage off the town, arriving there
early in the forenoon.

Thus terminated the voyage “par los rios” (by the rivers). The exposure
to the sun by day, the attacks of mosquitoes by night, and the sickly
condition of the banks of the rivers and lagoons, had combined to make
that part of the journey across the continent extremely exhausting.

The long narrow island of Carmen is placed like a natural breakwater,
sheltering the bay from the open sea of the Gulf of Campeachy. The
earliest notice of it occurs in the Reports of the Spanish expedition
under Grijalva in 1518. Bernal Diaz, who was one of those who took
part in it, mentions a fact that throws some light upon the religious
customs of the Indians. He observes that the fleet after having
visited the coasts of Yucatan arrived at this island and remained
for several days at anchor in the bay. Many of the officers and men
landed, he being amongst the number. After traversing the island it
was ascertained that it was not inhabited, but some small temples
(adoratorios) were seen. These were made of stone and mortar, and
contained many idols made of clay and of wood, some were like figures
of gods, others like women, and many seemed to represent serpents. At
the present time there are no remains visible of these adoratorios.
The fact, however, of their having been erected upon this island is
instructive. It tends to prove that temples were placed in positions
where there were no inhabitants, and thus, to some extent, supports the
theory that certain holy places were set apart for religious purposes,
and were not necessarily attached to centres of population.

During the stay of Grijalva’s fleet, a greyhound, belonging to one of
the ships, strayed on shore and was lost. The following year, upon the
arrival of a second expedition, when the ships anchored, the dog was
seen on the beach watching them. Bernal Diaz relates how the dog knew
his own ship, and fawned upon the crew when they landed, showing the
utmost happiness and affection. How the dog had obtained food and water
through such a long period was not known.

Soon after my arrival I was informed that a small schooner called the
Rosita was about to sail for Campeachy and that her skipper would take
a few passengers. I accordingly made arrangements with him and went on
board. I found that the only accommodation was the open hold under the
main hatch. Here on the top of the cargo, made smooth and level for
the purpose, were placed mats. We embarked two ladies and some Spanish
officials and left La Laguna at daylight. The wind was against us and
we had to make a long tack towards the Yucatan coast, near Champoton.
During the night the wind became more favourable and in the forenoon
we sighted the white walls of Campeachy. The cathedral and mediæval
fortifications looked very picturesque from the sea as we approached
the coast. The Rosita did not draw much water, so we were able to
anchor within half a mile of the landing place. I was glad to find in
the town a tolerable inn called the Paloma, and a worthy, attentive
landlord named Ruiz. The constant exposure and the hardships endured
latterly had seriously affected my constitution, and I felt weak and
ill. It was a comfort to get shelter and quiet, and the shade and rest
which was obtained by having a large room opening upon an inner court.
Here I remained for several days suffering from very severe headaches
and without feeling that I was, in any perceptible degree, regaining my

On the morning of the fifth day I heard a gentle tap at the door, and
my landlady asked if she could come in. She looked at me with much
sympathy and said, “Señor, may I speak to you?” I replied, “Certainly.”
She then said, “Señor, you have upon you the lagoon fever, from which
strangers seldom recover, and I have come to ask you where you keep
your money and where your friends live, so that I may be able to carry
out your wishes.” I said, “My kind donna, perhaps I may get better if
I change the air. Do you know how I can get away?” The landlady looked
pleased and said that she knew that a certain Señor Escalanta was about
to start for a village called Tzibalché, and that perhaps he would
share with me the expenses of a conveyance. This arrangement was made,
and in the forenoon a covered cart, with three mules harnessed abreast,
was drawn up at the door of the inn. I took my place upon a mattress,
and before midday we were several leagues away breathing the pure and
bracing air of the open country. The change acted like magic. The fever
seemed almost immediately to leave me, but there remained a persistent

We stopped at a village to get dinner, and met an intelligent man who
was employed as constructor of a new road that was being made on this
part of the coast. It had happened, that in the course of his work, he
had made several cuttings and excavations, and discovered many things
of much antiquarian importance. He told us of a large pyramidal altar
or Kue which was situated in the neighbourhood, and as I particularly
wished to see it, Señor Escalanta consented to halt whilst an
examination of it was made.

We found the altar to be one of that type of structures upon the
summit of which the Mexican priests were accustomed to perform human
sacrifices. This Yucatecan Kue was more than fifty feet high and was
entirely faced with large, squared, well hewn blocks of hard limestone.
It was very steep. I estimated the angle of the slope to be about
70°. There were two ledges, respectively one-third and two-thirds up
the pyramid and on the top was the platform, which was in a ruinous

There were a number of small stone chambers built on the sides. The
existence of these singular little cells had caused the people in the
adjacent hamlets to form the opinion that the Kue had been inhabited
by dwarfs. We examined these chambers very carefully, and although it
was not possible to come to any satisfactory conclusion with regard to
their purpose, it was clear that they could not have been intended for
habitation. It seemed probable that they were either places for idols
or that they were used as vaults for burial. They were built with much
skill, and the squaring of the masonry was perfect. The inner wall of
these cells was formed by the stone casing of the pyramid. Several
small idols were found here. We were chiefly interested in examining
the method of construction followed by the Indian architects. This was
made apparent by the fact that portions of the outer casing had been
demolished. It appeared that the inner portion was a solid mass of
stones and mortar which, when completed, was covered with thick slabs
of masonry, smooth and well jointed. On the west face there were the
remains of a large chamber, but as that part of the pyramid was in a
ruinous condition, its dimensions could not be measured.

It is strange that so little is known concerning the ancient rites and
ceremonies performed by the priests upon these high altars. Immediately
after the conquest these Indian customs ceased, and all the signs of
their religion and religious usages disappeared like a dream. When
Grijalva’s expedition reached the Bay of Campeachy, they saw a large
Kue which must have been similar to that we were examining. Bernal
Diaz in his history relates that they landed to get a supply of water
for the ships near a spot where there was a village. The natives came
down to the beach in a friendly manner, and asked them if they arrived
from the spot where the sun rose. They then proposed that they should
go with them to their pueblo, and took them to a large building made
of stone and mortar. Whilst the Spaniards were looking about them
and observing the habits of the people, “Ten Indians dressed in long
white cloaks came out of another adoratorio. Their long thick hair was
clotted with blood and so twisted, that it could not have been combed
or spread without cutting it off. These men were sacerdotes of the
idols, and in New Spain they called themselves Pápas. Again I say that
in New Spain they called themselves Pápas, and thus I shall name them
henceforwards. These Pápas brought to us perfumes like a kind of resin
which they call copal, and with earthen braziers filled with fire they
commenced to incense us.” Diaz thought that the stone buildings were
altars, and he saw numerous idols, and “it appeared to us,” he says,
“that at this time they had been sacrificing to the idols certain
Indians to give them the victory over us.”

On their further voyage near another part of the Mexican coast, where
is now situated the town of Vera Cruz, the fleet arrived at the Island
of Sacrificios, a name that was given to that land in consequence of
what was observed to take place there. The island was explored by the
Spaniards, and they discovered two Kues made of lime and stone, and
ascended by steps. “In these altars,” observes Diaz, “were idols of
evil figures which were their gods, and here they had sacrificed on
the previous night five Indians. Their breasts were opened and their
arms and thighs were cut off and the walls were covered with blood.”
It happened that the Chaplain-General of the Fleet wrote an itinerary
of this voyage, and he also visited these temples. He mentioned the
extraordinary fact of having noticed within one of the shrines “some
bordered stuff made of silk, similar to what was worn by the Moors and
which were called by them “Almaizales.”[87] At another temple, situated
near the coast, four Indian priests were seen, who had lately been
performing sacrifices. In this instance they had sacrificed two young
boys. Their breasts had been opened and their hearts had been taken out
and placed before the idol as an offering. The Spaniards were surprised
when they observed that these priests were dressed like Dominicans and
wore long cloaks and capes. This, together with their manner of using
incense, seemed in some inexplicable degree to resemble the observances
of their own monastic fraternities.

In the various accounts that have been given by the conquerors
concerning the Indians, there is nothing mentioned about the burial
customs, and even at the present time the subject is obscure. I was
therefore interested in listening to the contractor’s remarks about
some discoveries made by his workmen when excavating along the line of
road. They found the ruins of several houses. Each of them contained
beneath the centre of the principal room a vaulted tomb, in which it
was supposed that the proprietor had been buried when he died. They
also found, when tracing the direction of the work, several small Kues
of pyramidal shapes, around the sides of which were numerous small
stone cells. The contractor told me that he had measured and surveyed
these carefully. He had come to the conclusion that they were burial

These discoveries were important, and corroborated in every essential
particular the statements of several Indian caciques dwelling beyond
Uxmal, in the sixteenth century. They informed the Spanish missionaries
that it had been customary, with the common people in Yucatan, to
bury their dead either inside their houses or at the back of them.
In certain cases they afterwards abandoned these dwellings and moved
elsewhere. The bodies of caciques and chiefs were burnt, and the ashes
were placed in urns. Small pyramids or temples were sometimes raised
over them.[88]

I was sorry when it became necessary to proceed on our journey. The
road contractor was an official who took a comprehensive interest
in whatever related to the ancient inhabitants, and his practical
knowledge was invaluable.

It was late when we finished the survey of the pyramid and its
chambers; we consequently travelled throughout the night at our best
speed. We passed through the pueblos of Tenabon and Hekelchakan and
reached Señor Escalanta’s house in Tzibalché at daylight. We were
received by the ladies of the establishment with cold and tranquil
apathy. Without saying a word, they turned out of their hammocks, and
proceeded to carry out their respective household duties. It must be
understood that the arrangements with all Ladino families are very
simple. In the tierras calientes or hot regions every one sleeps in a
hammock. The hammocks are slung to the cross poles in the principal,
and often, only apartment. At night when the ladies wish to go to bed
they turn in, to use a sailor’s expression, all standing. The women
of all ages, young or old, wear but one dress which is always a long
cotton garment reaching from the shoulders to the feet. This is worn
day and night. The languid indifference of men and women, towards
each other and to all around them, is a marked characteristic of the
whole of the Ladino race throughout Central America. Nothing seems to
arouse their indolent natures, and although many of them are fairly
educated, they do not appear to have those qualities which form the
foundation of a good and energetic population. It cannot be considered
that the enervating influences of a tropical climate are chiefly the
cause of this inertness, for it exists in varying altitudes. It should,
however, be acknowledged that this half-caste race retains much of the
old-fashioned courtesy of their Spanish ancestors. The Ladinos have
ceased to intermarry with the Indians, and there is now no sympathy
between the two races. The Indians have almost as great a dislike to
them as they have to the Spaniards.

At Tzibalché I enlisted in my service an Indian, named Anastasio, and
after some difficulty, hired a horse of doubtful merit. Anastasio
declared that we could avoid the long round to Uxmal by the main roads,
as he knew a short cut across the country which would shorten the
journey. By that path, he said, the distance to the hacienda at Uxmal
did not exceed nine or ten leagues. Accordingly we quitted the village
at sunrise and soon afterwards entered the bush.

This part of Yucatan was covered with a thin light kind of brushwood
which grew to a height of about twelve feet. Our path was cut through
this bush which excluded all view to the right or left. Occasionally
we passed through a few acres of open land where the Indians were
cultivating some crops, but the soil was poor and stony. At noon we
arrived at a farm; the proprietor was inclined to be hospitable and
gave me food and shelter. I was suffering from a recurrence of what I
had endured at Campeachy and could scarcely bear the fatigue of the
journey, especially as the rays of the nearly vertical sun were very

During the afternoon, whilst resting in the shade, I listened to the
loud, discordant, and grating sounds pronounced by the Indians around
me. The language spoken was Maya, which has been ascertained to be the
parent stock of most of the languages and dialects spoken in Guatemala,
Yucatan and the bordering territories. I asked my host to give me a
specimen of their dialect. He replied that he would tell me what had
happened in the morning, and he leant forward and said:—“Ti lé kin
béhilá, kuch yuayé humpel tzul ingles, bin tiar ten. Tumentin, katah
uchi y etel tin káhol ta hatchutz apockzi chalé; katin kámá tin nayle,
katin sah balu hante kati álá téné bin ku bétic Uxmal, tacthoh cásumac
tuh lú mil.” “This day came here an English Señor and spoke to me.
Having questioned him and knowing him to be of a good heart, I received
him in my house and gave him to eat. Then he told me that he was going
to Uxmal, and thence to Merida and afterwards to his own land.”

Towards the end of the day, when the sun was low, I ventured out of
the hut, mounted my horse, and pushed forward rapidly towards Uxmal.
After passing through several plantations of sugar-cane attached to
small Indian farms, we reached some rising ground and I saw, about four
miles distant towards the east, the great building, called the Casa
del Gobernador, with its terraces and adjacent pyramids standing out
high and distinct. The sun had disappeared below the horizon, and the
sky was brilliant with the vivid colouring of a tropical sunset. The
Casa del Gobernador was clear and well defined in the midst of this
magnificent frame of evening splendour, looking scarcely less beautiful
than a Greek temple on some lofty headland, when seen at twilight from
Ægean seas.

It was getting dark when we slowly passed round the base of a Teocalli,
and it was night when we halted at the hacienda. The proprietor and
the agent were both absent, but the mayor-domo received me with much
kindness. He gave me a large room next to one which he told me had
been occupied by the Empress Charlotte when she visited Uxmal in 1866.
The next morning, after giving Anastasio directions to join me at the
Casa del Gobernador and to bring with him my hammock and provisions, I
walked out to the ruins.




                             CHAPTER XVII.

  Uxmal. — Extent of ground occupied by the Ruins. — Teocallis. —
  Burial places at the foot of the Pyramid of the Dwarf. —
  Evening Service at the chapel of the hacienda. — Casa del
  Gobemador. — Sacrificial customs. — Preservation of the wooden
  lintels. — The Nunnery or Casa de las Monjas. — Religious
  customs of the Indians. — Emblem of the Serpent. — Sculptures. —
  Conjectures respecting the possibility of Moorish, Spanish,
  or Oriental influence upon architectural design. — Methods of
  construction. — Note upon a fall of rain supposed to be caused
  by the fires of the Indians.

It is considered that the ruins of Uxmal are, in extent and
construction, the most important in Yucatan, and therefore, excepting
in certain particulars, those at Palenque, the most remarkable in
Central America and Mexico.

The ground occupied by them is in length about six hundred yards.
The width is slightly more than five hundred yards. Consequently the
area within which Uxmal is contained, may be approximately estimated
as being sixty acres. It therefore exceeds by twenty acres the space
covered by the mounds of Palenque. The buildings are irregularly
placed. The Casa del Gobernador (House of the Governor) with its
adjacent pyramids form the principal group towards the south. The
Casa de las Monjas (House of the Nuns) is situated towards the north.
These are the two great structures upon which the other temples and
mounds seem chiefly to depend. There are two smaller edifices called
respectively, the Casa de las Palomas (House of the Pigeons) and the
Casa de las Tortugas (House of the Turtles). There is also a detached
pyramid with a ruined temple upon its summit, which has been given the
name of the House of the Old Woman. Looking at these ruins as a group,
they appear to have consisted of quadrangular residences with pyramidal
mounds attached to them, raised for the purpose of obtaining lofty
sites for the altars of the Indian gods.

One of the most important of these is that known as the Pyramid of
the Dwarf. I examined it with particular attention for the purpose
of studying the character of a series of small stone vaults or cells
placed round its base, which were similar in size and design to those
that I had seen on the lower slopes of the Kue near the coast above
Campeachy. Many of these cells were sufficiently perfect to enable
their dimensions and shape to be verified. It seemed evident that they
must have been made for sepulchral purposes. If this conclusion is
correct it is probable that they were the burial places for the ashes
of the caciques who ruled over this part of Yucatan.

Upon an investigation of the outer parts of the pyramid, it is to be
observed that it was not only carefully constructed, but its plan must
have been accurately drawn and the relative mathematical measurements
calculated with reference to the space that was required for the
temple. The magnitude of the base could not be determined, on account
of the quantities of fallen stones and other débris. In 1841, Mr.
Stephens considered that it was two hundred and thirty-five feet long
by one hundred and fifty-five feet wide. The perpendicular height to
the platform was estimated to be eighty-eight feet.


The steps leading up to the summit are broad, and must have formed an
imposing approach, but in consequence of the angle of the slope they
are necessarily steep, and are placed so close together that there
is barely sufficient width for the foot to rest. At the base of the
pyramid there is an open court, which I observed to be similar in shape
to one adjoining the base of an altar built by the Quichés at Utatlan,
but it was larger in extent. The court leads to the entrance of the
Casa de las Monjas.

This building may be considered to be the result of the greatest powers
of sculpture and ornamentation that the Indians possessed, and judging
from the condition of many of its chambers, it is probably one of the
latest of their works. It is nearly quadrangular, and encloses an area
of over six thousand square yards.

My first day at Uxmal was employed in making a rough survey of the land
occupied by the ruins.

Upon my return to the hacienda, I found that an evening service, called
“el Rosario,” was being held in the chapel. A large number of Indians
were assembled. These Yucatecos had attached to the fingers of the
church images, many of their own small idols, made of metal. It was
consequently impossible to know (as the priests in the Cordilleras
said of their Indian parishioners), whether they were worshipping the
saints, or following in secret their ancient idolatries.

The next morning I established myself in the “House of the Governor,”
and selected for our occupation the largest of the outer series of
apartments, opening upon the eastern courts. The size of these was
necessarily regulated by the angle of the converging slopes of the
walls, for the builders were limited in their plans in consequence
of their incomplete acquaintance with the formation of arches. In
one of the rooms there were some cross poles made of zapote wood, to
which Anastasio fastened my hammock. The architectural proportions
of the exterior are unusual. The length is about three hundred and
twenty-two feet, but the breadth is only thirty-nine feet, and the
low, narrow structure, is only twenty-five feet high. The effect,
however, of the long and elaborately carved façade, is particularly
pleasing both to the eye and the mind. In all respects, the Casa del
Gobernador is rightly given the distinction of being the grandest of
the stone structures that were built by Indians. The platform upon
which this great edifice stands, is forty feet above the level of the
ground. Sixteen feet below this is a large open court, which is about
one hundred and eighty yards long, and over eighty-two yards wide,
containing a level surface of nearly fifteen thousand square yards—or
more than three acres. There is a third outer terrace, raised a few
feet above the plain.

The Casa de las Monjas is also placed upon three terraces, but they are
of smaller dimensions, and the height of the base of the building
above the natural ground, is not more than seventeen feet. The terraces
were surrounded by strongly built walls. Wide stone steps gave access
to each platform. When looking at these flat spaces, pyramids and
temples, it is practicable to form reasonable conjectures regarding the
nature of the religious ceremonies that may have taken place within, or
before them.

[Illustration: CASA DEL GOBERNADOR.]


Bishop Landa, in his work on Yucatan, which he wrote in that country
soon after the conquest, gives an account of the feasts and sacrifices
performed in the temples. His description was based upon information
which he received from the descendants of caciques, who had governed a
powerful tribe dwelling east of Uxmal. After mentioning the nature of
the offerings made to the idols during certain festivals, he observes
that, besides sacrificing animals, the priests would sometimes on
occasions of tribulation or public necessity, command that human
victims should be sacrificed. There is this statement given of what
then happened.

“Every one took their part in offering contributions, in order that
slaves should be bought, and some of the more devotional would offer
their little children. Great care was taken of them that they should
not run away or commit any fault, and whilst they were conducted from
village to village with dancing, the priests fasted. Upon the arrival
of the day, they all came into the patio (court) of the temple, and if
the victim had to be sacrificed by wounds from arrows he was stripped
naked, his body was anointed with blue, and a cap like a mitre was
placed on his head.” He was then, after certain dances made by the
people in honour of the god, killed by flights of arrows.

It will be remembered that a similar custom was followed by the
Pawnees in North America who, upon certain occasions, chiefly in
connection with offering a propitiation to the Manito who had power
over the harvest, also killed the victim by a flight of arrows.[89] The
coincidence of this practice is very strange.

Landa, after relating the manner in which these Indians in Yucatan
conducted the ceremony of inflicting death by arrows, proceeds to
state what was done if the priests, for some special reasons, directed
that the victim should be offered to the gods in accordance with their
more appalling rites. “If it had been decided to take out the heart,
he was taken to the patio with much pomp, and was accompanied by many
people, and after being daubed over with blue, and his mitre placed on
his head, he was carried to the round step which was the place where
these sacrifices were made, and after the priest (sacerdote) and his
officials had anointed this stone with blue colour, and had cast out
the devil by purifying the temple; the unfortunate man that was to be
sacrificed was then seized, thrown suddenly backwards upon the stone,
and held there by the legs and arms kept apart from the middle. Then
came the sacrificer with a stone razor, and struck with much dexterity
and cruelty, a gash between the ribs of the left side below the
teat; he then thrust in his hand and took hold of the heart like a
furious tiger and snatched it out still palpitating, and put it upon a
dish which he gave to the priest, who took it quickly and anointed the
faces of the idols with the fresh blood.”[90]

[Illustration: CASA DE LAS MONJAS, UXMAL.]


This statement of the sacrificial customs in Yucatan is in accordance
with the Report made by Palacio[91] concerning the sacrifices of the
captives taken in war by the Pipiles, a tribe who were believed to be
of Mexican origin and were then dwelling near the Pacific coast of
Guatemala. It may also be surmised that the ceremonies performed by the
priests of the Quichés upon the altars at Utatlan were of a similar
nature. It thus seems evident that the barbarous practices that are
supposed to have been introduced by the Aztecs into Mexico, during some
period subsequent to the twelfth century, were becoming prevalent in
Central America.

It is possible that the custom of offering human sacrifices, together
with subsequent acts of cannibalism, may have become grafted upon
the religious observances of an earlier and less cruel race. It is,
however, to be noticed that the plan of the pyramid of the Dwarf with
its altar, and the open court at the foot of the steps leading down
from the temple, conform with the particular purposes of the ceremonies
connected with the sacrifices to the idols. Bernal Diaz, when
describing the manner in which the Spanish captives were sacrificed and
eaten during the siege of Mexico, mentions facts which agree with the
statements made by the caciques in Yucatan, concerning the events that
occasionally happened in their sacred places.

“Sometimes,” observes Landa, “the sacrifice took place on the stone
upon the highest step of the temple, and then the body was thrown down
the steps and rolled below. The officials then seized it and flayed off
the skin excepting the feet and hands, and the priest, having taken off
his garments until he was naked, covered himself with it, and danced
with the others. This was considered to be a matter of much solemnity.
It was the custom to bury those who were sacrificed in the court of the
temple, or, if not, they were eaten by the chiefs and those who were
able to obtain portions; the hands, feet and head were for the priest
and officials. Those who were thus sacrificed were held as saints
(tenian por santos). If they were slaves captured in war their owner
took the bones and kept them to show them in the dances as emblems of

The aboriginal inhabitants of Yucatan were, like those dwelling in the
neighbouring land of Guatemala, devoted to the worship of idols, and
travelled great distances to take part in the ceremonies which were
performed at the shrines of their principal gods. The Island of Cozumel
was one of the sacred sites which was held in great veneration when
the fleet of Grijalva arrived there in 1518. It was observed by the
Spaniards that there and elsewhere, the pyramidal structures or altars
were maintained in good order, and had regular priests attached to
them for the purpose of executing the various duties connected with the
superstitious usages. It was afterwards ascertained that several of the
larger sacred temples in the interior had at that time been abandoned,
although many of them looked as if they had not been long built. With
respect to Uxmal, it was considered that the ruins were comparatively
modern and belonged to a period but little anterior to the Spanish

The well preserved state of portions of the buildings is, at the
present time, nearly four centuries after the arrival of the
Spaniards, especially noticeable. I observed that the wooden lintel
over the door of my room in the Casa del Gobernador was in perfect
condition. The edges or corners were still sharp and unworn. It was
also evident that, although the great weight of the masonry above must
have exerted a heavy pressure upon the centre of the lintel, there
were no signs of the slightest deflection. The strength of the wood
seemed to be unimpaired. The preservation of many of the lintels over
the doorways of the rooms in the Casa de las Monjas was, in several
instances, equally sound. Many of the stone carvings on the exterior
were also apparently uninjured by their exposure to the weather. But,
before proceeding with this subject, it is expedient to take into
consideration some of the characteristics of this building.

It is not known why it was called the Casa de las Monjas (House of the
Nuns). Possibly the Spaniards may have been surprised by its similarity
in plan with their own nunneries, but it is also not improbable that
there may have been some tradition received from the Indians which
caused the adoption of this name. It has been stated by Clavigero, and
other historians, that there were certain especial customs attending
the worship of the god Quetzalcoatl. Women served for terms of years
within his temples. They were dedicated to the performance of religious
service from an early age, lodged in a convent and instructed in
religion. They were also educated and employed in a manner suitable
to their station and sex. It was said that certain vows were made and
various religious duties were performed.

[Illustration: Entrance to the Casa de las Monjas.]

The main entrance to the nunnery is through a gateway placed in the
centre of the southern part of the quadrangle. Upon each side of this
entrance there are four chambers, and it is to be noticed, as an
evidence of the conventual character of the building, that these are
the only rooms that have direct access to the outer world. All the
others are within and look into the court. They had a blank wall at the
back, which excluded all communication with the exterior. The principal
front looks towards the pyramids adjoining the Casa del Gobernador.
The architectural proportions of the archway are symmetrical. The
height and span, like all other parts of these Indian structures, are
practically determined by the angle of inclination of the converging
sides. In this case the arch is about seventeen feet high and nearly
eleven feet wide. After passing through it, a wide court is entered. It
is surrounded on four sides by long ranges of low stone buildings. The
base, or lower part of them, is built of plain square slabs of masonry.
The upper parts are covered with fanciful designs, sculptured with
great skill.

The whole of these buildings are exclusively arranged for the purpose
of providing the greatest possible number of chambers or monastic
cells. I did not count them, but it has been stated that there are
altogether eighty-eight. It is perhaps important to note, with
reference to this unusual number of rooms, that they are too numerous
to admit of the theory that they were intended for the accommodation
of the priests serving the adjacent temples, for according to the
statements of Clavigero, the number of priests always corresponded with
the number of the Teocallis. It is therefore presumable that these
cells had some other purpose. The priests may have been lodged in the
Casa del Gobernador. That building contains twenty-four chambers, the
majority of which are of the same size and plan as these in the Casa de
las Monjas. It is useless to attempt to conjecture the precise purposes
of these buildings, for there has been no exact information obtained
upon the subject, but everything points to the conclusion that the
whole of the structures at Uxmal were connected with the worship of the
gods, and had no relation to the ordinary lives of the Indians.

It is probable that places like Uxmal and Palenque with their temples
and monasteries, were set apart for religious purposes, and the
Indians assembled there from the adjacent country with the object of
being present at the ceremonies, in the same manner as they are now
accustomed to perform their pilgrimages when the patron saints of the
churches have their festivals. When taking into consideration the
question of the period when it may be conjectured that the temples at
Uxmal were abandoned, it is necessary to direct attention to the design
or emblem which is placed upon one of the walls of the interior of the
Casa de las Monjas.

Upon an examination of the accompanying illustration, it will be
observed that the figure represented is that of a huge serpent or
rattlesnake. A serpent was also the emblem or Totem of one of the
tribes of the Mound Builders in Ohio, and there appear to be singular
resemblances between the reptile carved in stone at Uxmal and that
which is rudely made of earth and stones, and placed on high ground
overlooking a valley in North America. Both reptiles have peculiarly
large mouths, opened wide, ready to devour and swallow their prey
or their enemies. It is perhaps not unreasonable to infer that the
tribe who migrated from the north, conquered the unwarlike natives
of Yucatan, raised the great pyramids, and built the temples in that
region, were subsequently conquered by a more powerful tribe of the
same race, also migrating from higher latitudes. The former tribe were
forced to desert their buildings, and avoided slavery or extermination
by escaping into the interior. The serpent stands out in bold relief.
The whole of the façades of the nunnery are elaborately sculptured, and
the mechanical abilities of the builders are well brought into notice.


As all investigations or theories respecting these architects and their
works, depend greatly upon the conclusions that may be drawn from the
evidence regarding the period when Uxmal was built, I directed my
attention to certain points bearing upon this subject. Conjectures
upon the origin and civilisation of the Indians must be influenced by
what can be ascertained with respect to the probable dates when these
religious buildings were constructed.

It is to be seen in the Casa de las Monjas that there was a lavish use
of ornamentation in stone. There is, throughout, a wealth of sculpture
which is astonishing when it is remembered that the sculptors, as far
as we know, had no proper implements to work with. Stone chisels and
obsidian scrapers appear to be inadequate for the purpose.

It can be understood that if the Indian masons and stone cutters had
wished to show their ability, they might have adorned their buildings
with barbarous figures or rude idols, such as were carved by the
natives of Easter Island out of soft volcanic stone. But at Uxmal they
revelled in their powers. The walls of the Nunnery and the Casa del
Gobernador are covered with designs deeply cut and perfectly joined.
Thus it is proved that the sculptors had not only much capacity as
workmen, but they must have been able to chisel hard limestone with
ease and facility of execution. In the interior of the Nunnery many
of the designs are most artistic. Nothing can be more graceful than
the block of buildings on the eastern side of the quadrangle. The
lattice work, in its appearance and general effect, seems to have an
indefinable accordance with the wood and stone carvings that are to
be seen in the ancient quarters of Cairo, and the interior of the
earliest Arabian mosques. Upon the opposite side of the quadrangle,
the ornamentation upon the walls is of a different character and in
some respects resembles the designs of Hindoo or Buddhist architecture.
This confusion of styles is puzzling to the eye and embarrassing to the

At Palenque the long corridors, the courts, and the use of coloured
stucco ornamentation appeared to have some vague relation to a mixed
style of Moorish and Spanish architecture. If a corsair, with a crew
of Moors and a cargo of Spanish captives, had been driven by the trade
wind across the Atlantic, and the strangers, after landing upon the
new continent, had married the daughters of the caciques; it would be
intelligible that the descendants of the mixed races might have
constructed monasteries, temples and pyramids of this strange and
complex design. Such was my impression when pacing the corridors at


At Uxmal there were no coloured stuccoes and no corridors. The bold and
fantastic style of the sculptures had a character more Eastern, and it
might be permissible to imagine that wandering fakirs from Hindostan,
or Buddhist pilgrims from Java, Burmah or Cambodia, had reached the
Pacific coasts, and had implanted their incomplete acquaintance with
the forms of Hindoo or Buddhist temples upon the barbaric ideas of the
Indians, and that in this manner were produced the fanciful types of
construction or symbolism that are present at Uxmal.

These are only conjectures, but it cannot be supposed that this
knowledge of architecture and of sculpture arose as suddenly as it
disappeared, and sprang into existence as the outcome of the natural
capacity of the Indian mind. The problem is interesting and attractive.
It is one that is exceedingly difficult to solve.

There are certain differences in the methods of construction of
Palenque and Uxmal which have to be analyzed. The walls at Palenque
are composed of compact masses of stones and mortar covered with thick
layers of cement. At Uxmal no coatings of cement are used and the walls
are faced with well-worked masonry. At Palenque there are great numbers
of human figures either formed of thick stucco, or graven upon slabs
of stone. At Uxmal there are no human figures, no delineations of
caciques, priests, or captive victims. The principle of ornamentation
is different.

Judging from the condition and appearance of the buildings it is clear
that Uxmal must be more modern than Palenque, and this is particularly
noticeable upon an examination of the Casa del Gobernador and the
Casa de las Monjas. The influences of the tropical climate (Uxmal is
half a degree south of the twenty-first parallel) are such as would
be expected to act injuriously upon exposed limestone sculptures, for
between May and November the rains are heavy and continuous. But the
façades of these structures seem to have been very little affected by
the weather.

In forming opinions respecting the antiquity of ruins, it is perhaps
injudicious to give much weight to considerations based upon appearance
or state of dilapidation, but in the instance of Uxmal there are
circumstances which make it impossible to admit that it belongs to
a period more than very few centuries earlier than the arrival of
the Spaniards. Thus the preservation of the wooden lintels over the
doorways in the Casa de las Monjas must be taken into consideration,
when any attempts are made to estimate the age of that building. They
have had to bear considerable pressure, for there are heavy masses of
concrete and masonry to be supported.

With regard to this subject, it is necessary to draw attention to the
size and construction of one of the principal rooms which I measured,
and it will be understood how the architects were limited or restricted
in their actions, and to what extent the employment of wood was found
to be requisite.

It was a narrow chamber twenty feet four inches long, twelve feet
wide, and about twenty-three feet high. The height of the entrance was
eight feet, the width six feet seven inches. The interior walls were
perpendicular up to nine feet three inches from the ground, and then
curved inwards until they approached within one foot of each other.
They were capped by broad flat stone slabs. The curvature of the walls
was correctly formed, and a considerable gain in space was thereby
obtained. It was evident that the Indians were advancing towards a
knowledge of the round arch and keystone. This form of rounding the
inner roof was not however adopted in all the rooms of the nunnery.
Many of them still retained the straight lines of converging walls, as
at Palenque. The manner in which the advance in construction had been
reached was simple and yet ingenious.

I measured a room in another part of the quadrangle which had different
dimensions, and was more in accordance with the earlier system of
building. It was twenty-two feet long and ten feet five inches wide.
The height of the perpendicular portion of the walls was eight feet
three inches, and the length of the upper slope to the cap-stone was
eight feet nine inches. The total height of the room about sixteen
feet. The doorway was a little over seven feet high and the width
was five feet eight inches. The dimensions of the chambers round the
quadrangle varied, but the instances I have given represent their
average sizes. There were two lintels over each doorway, for the width
of each piece of timber was not sufficient to occupy the full depth of
the wall. In the first-mentioned chamber they were each nine feet five
inches long, one foot wide and eight inches deep, and had a bearing
upon each wall of one foot five inches. In this and other openings the
inner lintel rested in its place a little lower than the outer one.
The object of this singular method of placing these supports was not
apparent. The lintels were externally in perfect condition, and were
without any signs of decay.

The main mass of the Uxmal walls is composed of rubble limestones, made
into a strong compact substance, by the plentiful use of good binding
mortar. Each facing stone was made into a triangular shape, and the
point or apex seems to have been pushed or fitted into its place, and
there firmly secured by mortar. This method of applying the masonry
was adopted not only with the plain smooth blocks of square stone used
for facing the lower portions of the buildings, but also with all the
sculptured portions of the walls. The blocks fit closely together
in their places so accurately and with such careful finish that the
joints or edges can scarcely be distinguished. It is thus made evident
that the stone-masons who built Uxmal must have been men capable of
performing their work with skill. The architect must have possessed a
competent knowledge of the preparation of a plan or design, and the
masons, in separately executing their part of the sculpture, must
have been able to follow the design with an exactness that is almost

There have been many theories respecting the methods that may have been
practised by the Indians in executing their carvings upon stone,
but no knowledge has been obtained which throws sufficient light upon
the subject.[92] No attention has however been directed to the artisan
qualities of the workmen who shaped and fitted the lintels, which
however prove that the workers in wood were as skilful as the masons.
The lintels were made of wood harder than mahogany. I examined many
of them with the utmost care, and could not detect the slightest mark
or dent. It is doubtful whether a good carpenters plane could have
given them a smoother surface. The zapote trees out of which they
were formed, must have been fashioned into broad baulks of timber, and
afterwards squared and divided into the required lengths. The face of
the timber was levelled and smoothed, and the corners or angles were
sharply defined. All this work had to be done, as far as is known, with
stone implements.


Upon taking a final glance at these ruins it seems reasonable to form
the conclusion that Uxmal was built exclusively for the purposes of
religion. The pyramids and their teocallis or temples were devoted as
shrines for the gods, and monasteries were attached to them. The human
sacrifices and the ceremonies that were customary in time of war took
place in the open courts attached to the high altars of the chief idols.

                   •       •       •       •       •

  Upon the last day of my stay at Uxmal, the morning was fine
  and the sky was clear. In the forenoon I observed that there
  were dense volumes of light-coloured smoke covering the fields
  towards the east. As the day advanced the air became hot and
  oppressive, and the sky was obscured. Upon inquiring the cause
  of this smoke I was told that the Indians were burning their
  weeds and stalks in accordance with their custom at that time
  of the year.

  In the afternoon, whilst I was engaged in sketching the
  south-east angle of the Casa del Gobernador, heavy drops of
  rain began suddenly to fall. As it was the dry season, this
  change of weather was unexpected. The rain drops soon ceased,
  but after an interval there were some slight showers which
  continued for about two hours. At the farmhouse I was told
  that such weather was unusual, and that the rain must have
  been caused by the smoke and heat rising from the fires. If
  this opinion was correct the change may have been caused by
  the heated air rising into a cooler region above, and thus
  producing an atmospherical disturbance.

  This fact of rain being produced or caused by human agency
  supports the opinion that the efforts of the rain-makers
  amongst the North American Indians were in accordance with some
  vague knowledge, and were not altogether absurd, and that the
  action of the Californian rain-maker, whose attempts to obtain
  rain were successful, was based upon an experience which was

                            CHAPTER XVIII.

  Departure from Uxmal. — Indian officials at Abalá. — Indian
  Ceremonies. — Worship of demons. — Baptismal customs. — Laws
  of the Emperor Charles V. for the government of the natives in
  Yucatan. — Superstitions. — An Indian Well. — Halt at night. —
  Merida. — Convent of the Conceptionistas. — Sisal. — The Basque
  brig Aguinaga. — Departure for Cuba and Florida. — Tampa. —
  Cedar Keys. — Buccaneers. — Shell Mounds. — Ancient Burial
  Mounds. — Florida Indians.

At sunrise on the day of our departure from Uxmal, the Indians were
hurrying along the paths on their way to the corn fields, and the women
were engaged in carrying water from the wells. It was a busy scene of
life and movement.

We proceeded to Múna and then journeyed onwards to the village of Abalá
which we reached in the afternoon, having accomplished a distance of
eight leagues. We obtained shelter in a public building called the
cabildo, which was used as a travellers’ rest house, where everyone,
as in a Turkish or Syrian caravansary, selected whatever spot was
available or unoccupied. Anastasio deposited the luggage in a corner
and found a place where my hammock could be secured above the ground.

Upon examining my horse I found that it was quite unfit for work, and
therefore I went at once to the head man of the district, who was an
Indian holding the office of Judge, and was at the time sitting in the
Court-house. I asked him if he would give directions that I should be
supplied with another horse or mule to carry me to Merida. The Judge at
first made some objections and said that there were no horses, or that,
if there were any, they were in the fields and would have to be caught.
Finally, after a long discussion, the second or junior Judge, who
seemed inclined to help me, promised that a horse should be ready at
the cabildo on the following day as soon as the sun appeared. Trusting
in this arrangement, I discharged Anastasio and sent him back with the
old horse to Tzibalché.

In the morning the sun duly appeared but no horse came, and as
Anastasio had left at daybreak, I found myself unattended, and
surrounded by strange groups of Indians passing through Abalá. It
was fortunate that, in accordance with a local regulation, an Indian
alguazil was in charge of the cabildo, for this native official
immediately informed me that he would attend to my requirements. He
was useful in carrying out my wishes, and performed his duties with
care and zeal. After waiting for an hour to see if any horse arrived,
I went again to the Court-house but found that the Judges were not
sitting, and that they were away for the day upon other occupations. On
my return to my quarters it was evident that some event had occurred.
I was told that a band of muleteers on their way from the interior had
halted there, and intended to proceed to Merida later in the day, after
their mules had been given rest and food. These men were uncouth and
noisy, but I thought it would be wise to join them, if they made no
objection. It happened that they had with them a young horse that was
not laden. After overcoming some preliminary difficulties, an agreement
was made that I should hire the horse, but that he was not to carry
any weight except that of the rider; one of their mules was to convey
my luggage. As soon as all preparations were completed the leader of
the muleteers told me that they would be ready to proceed late in the
afternoon and that he would call for me at the cabildo. The men then

Having the greater part of the day at my disposal, I walked out beyond
the village for the purpose of being present at an Indian ceremony. It
was the commemoration of a death that had taken place in the previous
year. I was informed that in this part of Yucatan it was the custom
amongst the Indians to have three services or meetings of this nature.
The first took place a week after the death; the second after an
interval of a month, and the last on the anniversary. This was the
anniversary service and was considered the most important. Very few
of the religious ceremonies of the Indians have been permitted to be
maintained, for they were so singularly connected with their worship of
demons, that it was found necessary to abolish everything that recalled
their ancient superstitions. These memorial observances are, however,
to a modified extent yet performed.

Upon arriving at the hut I saw that it was crowded with Indians. I
was received in the usual manner with apparent inattention, and was
allowed to take my place with the others. I noticed that my friend
the junior Judge, who had promised to send me a horse, was one of the
mourners. As he made no remark and I had made other plans the subject
was not mentioned, and my attention was directed to what was going
on around me. The Indians were engaged in making melancholy sounds
of wailing. In the centre of the room was a table upon which was a
large plain wooden cross. Before the cross were placed offerings of
flowers, fruits and baked tortillas. I waited for some time to see what
ceremonies were going to take place, but nothing happened. The wailing
continued in a dreary and monotonous manner.

The scene reminded me in some respects of observances of a religious
character that I had previously witnessed when travelling amongst the
Cordilleras of Guatemala, and again at a village near Tzibalché, on
the road to Uxmal. When the Spanish priests settled in their various
parishes in these regions after the conquest, it was noticed by them
that the Indians appeared to have a peculiar dread of death. This dread
did not seem to be caused by any personal fear, but had its origin in
connection with their belief in demons. They believed that death was
an evil spirit that required to be propitiated, and whose influence
over the sick or dying person was malignant. Thus it was usual to make
offerings to this demon, who was supposed to be lying in wait somewhere
near the hut. They imagined that he might be contented with what was
given to him and not carry off his victim. When I was at Palenque,
I was told that in some of the remote parts of the province, this
ancient observance still existed and that the Indians placed offerings
of food outside the door of the hut in the hope that the demon would be
appeased, and pass by without stopping to enter within.[93] In Yucatan
a similar custom prevailed, but the method of propitiation was slightly
different. Various kinds of food and jars of liquid were hung upon the
walls or thatch outside the hut to gratify the demon and cause him to
accept the offerings instead of human life.

Amongst the ancient customs of the Indians none, however, are more
strange than those connected with an almost unintelligible form of
baptism. The Franciscan missionaries who endeavoured to convert the
Indians at the time of the conquest, observed with astonishment the
veneration of the natives for the Catholic rites of baptism and the
readiness of their converts to accept this part of their teaching.
In the course of their inquiries upon the subject they discovered
that a form of baptism already existed, and was considered to be one
of the most important and essential of their ceremonies.[94] Upon
an examination of the accounts of the manner in which the Indians
performed their customary rites, it does not appear that there was
much analogy with the ceremony that was insisted upon as a duty by the
friars, except that the Indian baptism was a religious act performed by
their priests, in which the children were touched with something that
had been dipped in water.

The Indians, although disinclined to adopt the new faith, showed
extraordinary ardour and devotion in this particular observance. It was
found that they would frequently bring their children to be baptised
again after they had already received baptism. Finally the conduct
of the Indians in this matter became so unsatisfactory that special
clauses upon the subject, were introduced into the laws established by
the order of the Emperor Charles V. for the government of the Indians
in Yucatan.

One of these clauses ran thus—

“Baptism is one of the sacraments which is not to be repeated, and
if this is done great offence is committed against the Holy Ghost
conferred upon us by baptism when it is repeated.

“Many of the natives of this province say that although already
baptised, they repeat baptism deceiving the ministers of the gospel,
and furthermore they say that they baptise others and consent that
others should do so. For which reason I order that henceforth no Indian
man or woman of this province who has once received legitimately holy
baptism shall return to be baptised or consent to others doing it, or
baptise on their own authority any other person.”

Since these orders were put in force many changes have taken place,
and the Indians have become, in a manner reconciled to the new order
of things. It is, however, stated that in remote parishes the priests
are still frequently deceived, and that children are sometimes brought
three or four times to be given baptism.

The circumstances under which the cross was placed upon the table
in the hut near Abalá were peculiar. It was clear that the cross
was looked upon as an idol, and that the offerings made to it were
propitiations. In Yucatan there were instances known of several of
the principal Indians keeping a cross in their house. This was not
necessarily a Latin cross, for it was sometimes formed into a shape
varying according to the imagination of the owners. The Indians are
rapidly becoming so neglected with regard to all religious education,
that it is not improbable that they will gradually return to many of
their idolatrous practices.

In the beginning of this century the Spanish authorities in Mexico
ordered an inquiry to be made regarding the condition of the Yucatan
Indians, and directions were given to ascertain whether they still
maintained any of the superstitious usages followed before the
conquest. There was a Report made by the curate of Yaxcabá which was
considered to be especially deserving of mention, because he had been
in charge of a large parish and had lived for many years among his
Indians, and was known to be well acquainted with their language and
habits. One of the superstitions that he reported is remarkable from
its having evident analogies with one of the methods adopted by the
medicine men in curing the sick amongst the Dakotas in North America.
It will be seen by his account of the custom of divining through the
medium of a crystal, that ignorant human nature in Yucatan, as in many
other parts of the world, seeks to learn the future by similar methods.

The curate, in his reply to one of the questions put to him, stated
as follows[95]:—“Amongst the common masses of the Indians there are
many superstitions. In the first fifteen years that I held this curacy
they told me much, but after making examples upon the delinquents by
punishing them with floggings and penances in accordance with superior
commands, it is now fully fifteen years that all is done in silence,
and it is only from time to time that there is any sign.

“The most frequent divination is by means of a piece of crystal which
they call _zaztun_. This is a clear and transparent stone, by which
they say that occult things are seen and the causes of sickness. What
I have been able to understand in this matter is that they have had
some one who, by a compact with the demon, has divined by the means
of the said _zaztun_: but the more ordinary way is that those that
use it are certain cheating impostors who by this means gain credit
amongst themselves and are consulted and are well treated so that they
have idle lives, and with their artifices and cunning make the simple
and ignorant believe that they have divined what they have secretly
managed. I will take this example which is frequent: they make the sick
man believe that by the means of the _zaztun_ they have known that
some malevolent person has bewitched him, and in order to discover the
wizard or evil doer it is necessary to watch three nights and make
preparation of ardent spirits or pitarilla, provisions and lighted
candles; during these three nights they enjoy themselves and eat and
drink till they are satisfied. When the others are not observing or
asleep they bury inside the house or near it a small figure of black
wax having a thorn run into the part corresponding to that where the
sick person feels the most pain. Finally when all are awake they
commence to make their operations with the _zaztun_ and go straight to
the spot where they buried the little figure, they take it out within
sight of everybody and make them believe that this was the witchcraft.
They then apply for the cure any herbs that they can find and if
sometimes by chance the sick person gets cured they gain much credit
amongst the ignorant.”

A most extraordinary account was given by the curate of Yaxcabá, of
a religious or superstitious ceremony which at a certain season of
the year was performed by the Indians of his parish in the beginning
of this century. They erected near the village a rudely constructed
table upon which was placed a turkey. When the ceremony commenced, the
Indian who acted as the priest poured into the beak of the turkey a
small quantity of pitarilla. He then killed the bird and gave it to
his assistants at the table, who carried it away to season it and
prepare it for being eaten. Large tortillas were also prepared and
when everything was ready the turkey and tortillas were placed upon
the table together with several jars of pitarilla. “Then,” stated the
cura, “the sacerdote commences to incense them with copal.”... “And
then taking some of the pitarilla upon a hissop he sprinkles it towards
the four winds invoking the four _Pahahtunes_ who are the gods and
custodians of the rains. Then approaching the table he raises on high
one of the jars, and offers it to the mouths of the surrounding people,
who are kneeling. The function concludes by all eating and drinking to
their satisfaction.”

Near a hamlet a few leagues from Uxmal, I observed a group of Indians
performing ceremonies similar to those described by the curate of
Yaxcabá, and I then formed the opinion that they were imitating what
they had seen in the Spanish churches. It may, however, be possible
that these native observances have some relation to practices that
may have been customary amongst the natives before the conquest. Near
Jacaltenango, amongst the hills of the Sierra Madre, ceremonies and
sacrifices were still, at certain periods of the year, performed by
the Mams; turkeys were killed, and special and peculiar rites were
customary. In Yucatan it was found necessary in the sixteenth century
to enforce regulations, preventing the caciques from convening meetings
of the natives which were held for the purpose of maintaining the
ancient worship of their gods. These meetings usually took place in
secret, and the services and superstitious propitiations were taught
or performed by men who were the descendants of the priests or caciques.

The tendency of the Indians to have religious rites performed in their
houses or in huts set apart for the purpose, and their custom of having
these ceremonies conducted by one or more men selected from among
themselves to act as priests, or “sacerdotes,” is noticeable throughout
Guatemala, Yucatan and Chiapas.

Before leaving Abalá I visited a large and deep cenote or well. It was
one of those natural caverns the Indians of Yucatan were accustomed to
use for their supply of water, and which presumably mark the sites of
the ancient centres of population. It was chiefly fed by the waters
penetrating through the surrounding calcareous limestone formation. As
it was late in the dry season of the year, the waters were low and the
natives were engaged in going up and down the steps cut into and around
the sides of the cavern. The work of filling their jars was laborious,
as the depth to which they had to descend was nearly one hundred feet.

After examining this natural well, I returned to the cabildo, where I
found that everything was ready and the muleteers were waiting for me.
We started without delay. At night we stopped at what appeared to be a
farmhouse. The muleteers unloaded the mules and found places to sleep
in an outer shed. I unrolled my hammock and secured it to the rafters
outside the dwelling of the young proprietress, and found protection
from the dew under the overhanging thatch. From this exposed position I
watched for several hours the clear star-light, regretting that this
was the last time that I should lead this free and wandering life; for
on the next day we were to be in Merida. At daybreak we continued our
journey and arrived in the capital of Yucatan shortly before noon and
halted in the market place.

My travelling companions then left me and I remained a solitary
stranger amongst a crowd of busy Indians. I was told that there was no
hotel, but that possibly I might get a room in an old disused convent
which was being altered for the purpose of receiving guests. I rode
up to the gate and there saw a Spaniard who informed me that he had
lately bought a portion of the ruins, and was re-arranging the interior
sufficiently to enable him to keep an inn. He had a room at my disposal
and assured me that he would be pleased if I would occupy it. This room
had been a nun’s cell, the door of which opened into the quadrangle.

I found that I was quartered within the Convent of the Conceptionistas,
which after the suppression of the monastic orders had been abandoned.
Thus, by a strange series of events, I had come from the ruined Indian
“nunnery” at Uxmal to the ruined Spanish nunnery at Merida. The cells
and the quadrangle of the Conceptionistas reminded me of the interior
of the “Casa de las Monjas.”

During my brief sojourn in Merida I was generally occupied during the
day in observing the habits of the Indians who came into the town from
the adjacent country. In the evenings, within the convent walls where,
for many years, the nuns had led their quiet and secluded lives, I
listened to the plans of my worthy and eager landlord for converting a
building, constructed for the purposes of solitude and prayer, into a
busy and prosperous inn. I frequently thought of the past of this land.
The monastic institutions of an unknown race of Indians had flourished
and had been destroyed, and were succeeded by the churches and convents
established by an enthusiastic race of devoted missionaries who came
across the Atlantic to spread their faith in the New World. Many
changes had happened, the old order of things had passed away. The
work of the Spanish priests for the education and conversion of the
Indians, maintained for centuries with such zeal and self-sacrifice,
was destined to become useless, and in their turn the monasteries of
the Spaniards are doomed to fall into the same condition of ruin as the
temples and religious structures of the Indians.

One evening the landlord (Miguel Yturran) told me that a brig had
arrived and was at anchor off the port of Sisal, and was going to sail
for Cuba on the afternoon of the next day. I accordingly arranged to
leave on the following morning. A good level road led to the northern
coast, the distance was about thirty-eight miles. We changed mules at a
village called Junucuma, and reached Sisal before nine in the morning.
We had left Merida at daybreak and travelled at an average speed
exceeding twelve miles an hour. In the offing we saw the brig with her
sails loosed, preparing for sea.

Upon getting on board I was told that she was the Aguinaga, belonging
to the port of San Sebastian. She was manned by a crew of Basques.
Shortly before weighing our anchor, I was leaning over the port side
of the vessel looking at the long, low, line of coast stretching
far away towards the east, when my attention was called to an
animated conversation that was taking place between the Basques and
a boat’s-crew of Indians who had come alongside, bringing provisions
and fruit. It was surprising to hear a conversation carried on between
men of races so absolutely distinct, and I asked the skipper, who was
standing near me, how this power of communicating ideas between his
crew and these Yucatan Indians had been established.

He said that he did not know, but as a matter of fact, his men,
speaking Basque, were able to make themselves understood by the Indians
living on these coasts, especially in the regions around Tabasco beyond
Carmen and the bay of Terminos.

In the afternoon we left Sisal and were employed in beating against a
fresh N.E. wind, usually standing in towards the coast during the day
and tacking out to sea at night. It was not until the sixth day that
we weathered the parallel of Cape Catoche, the extreme eastern point
of Yucatan, and it was with no slight satisfaction that, after having
been nine tedious days at sea, I heard that Cuba was in sight. The
confinement on board the brig had been extremely irksome, and had only
been made tolerable by the novelty of being thrown amongst a race of
men that I had never met before and whose language was unintelligible.

These Basques were excellent sailors, quick and handy at their work
aloft or on deck, and although incessantly employed, were willing and
obedient. My messmates in the cabin consisted of the skipper, the
boatswain and the mate, and a fellow passenger who had been for the
greater part of his life a Honduras pilot. There was also a second
class passenger who usually lived under the forecastle. This man was a
wanderer upon the earth; an exile from his own land who, in the course
of his travels, had seen much of men and manners. He told me that he
was a Frenchman and had been drawn for the conscription, but he managed
to evade his duty and had got away from France, consequently he was
not able to return to his home as he was liable to be punished. He had
managed to subsist by following various trades and he was about to try
his fortune in one of the islands.

Upon approaching Havannah we at last got a fair wind and were able
to find an obscure berth amongst the merchant shipping without
difficulty.[96] After leaving the brig and her Basque crew I proceeded
across the Gulf to Florida. Amongst the various places that I visited
was Tampa, situated at the head of a bay, near the spot where Hernando
de Soto landed in 1539 and began the conquest of that part of America.

About one hundred miles to the north of Tampa are numerous sand
islets. Upon one of these was situated the old settlement of Cedar
Keys. I was fortunate in meeting there a good seaman and enthusiastic
antiquary named Clarke, who had made his home at that place. He was
well acquainted with the various channels and bays of the coast, and
in consequence of the interest that he felt in all that related to
the customs of the Indian tribes, had gathered together a store of
information that was exceedingly curious. He had also made discoveries
respecting the haunts of the buccaneers, and knew of stories about
hidden treasure. Fragments of old vessels that were supposed to have
belonged to the pirates had been found, and clearings in the forest had
been noticed, where it is supposed they formed their camps when the
crews were landed. This part of the Florida coast with its tortuous
channels and land-locked bays is precisely the position that buccaneers
would have chosen for careening their vessels and for all purposes that
required concealment after their raids upon the Spaniards.

Upon one of the islands near the main-land there was an ancient kitchen
midden or shell mound of unusual size. We found that it extended along
the beach for eight hundred yards. It averaged eighty yards in width
and was forty feet high. It was composed principally of large oyster
shells, but there were also the shells of clam fish and numerous
smaller shells. The mound throughout its length presented on its face
a series of alternate layers of earth, about half-an-inch thick. The
thickness of these intervening deposits of shells was greater than at
Damariscotta in Maine, from which fact it may be inferred that the
tribes who came here were more numerous, or that they were capable
of extraordinary powers of consuming oysters. Upon cutting away
portions of the outer slope of the mound, we found many fish bones and
quantities of fragments of broken pottery.

Not far from the shell mound was an ancient Indian burial place.
Captain Clarke had made excavations into it, and amongst the
accumulation of bones he had found some flint arrow heads and a few
rude stone axes. I examined these and noticed that they were similar
to those that had been found in several of the burial mounds of the
Iroquois. As I wished to see this mound for the purpose of ascertaining
certain points respecting the methods of burial adopted by the Florida
Indians, Captain Clarke proposed that we should make an examination of

The heap was irregular in shape and about four hundred yards in
circumference at the base. It consisted entirely of quantities of human
skulls and bones. We examined it sufficiently to enable certain facts
to be made clear. From the manner in which groups of skulls and thigh
bones were placed and separated, it was evident that the burials took
place at considerable intervals of time. This is in accordance with
what is known of the funeral customs of the Indians in Florida and the
southern parts of the Mississippi Valley at the time of the expedition
of De Soto.

It was then ascertained that in each of the villages there was a large
building in which were kept boxes containing human bones. Before the
bones were collected in this manner, the bodies had been placed in
the adjacent forest, exposed to the air but raised on a scaffolding
sufficiently high to prevent them from being disturbed by wild animals.
After a suitable time had elapsed the bones were separated and
cleaned, and were then deposited in the charnel-house, where religious
ceremonies were frequently performed. Upon certain occasions, when the
boxes were getting full, the bones were taken away and conveyed to the
tribal burial place.

Judging from the manner in which the bones were deposited in the mound,
it is probable that they were brought in their separate cases, and that
the contents of each case were carefully kept together and finally
thrown out in separate heaps. The occasions when the bones were brought
here, may have been those when the tribes made their migrations to
the seacoast. The methods of cleaning and removing the bones of the
Indians in Florida were similar to those of the Dakotas.

On the coast, a few miles north of Cedar Keys, there were other large
shell mounds, and in Tampa Bay I was shown the position of a long and
extensive range of similar heaps on its southern shores. It is evident
that before the sixteenth century there must have been a numerous
aboriginal race inhabiting these coasts. The scattered remnants of the
tribes that remained in Florida at the conclusion of the last Indian
war in this region, have been removed and placed upon lands beyond the

                             CHAPTER XIX.

  Mounds and Earthworks in North and Central America. —
  Migrations of the Toltecs and Aztecs. — The Quichés. —
  Aboriginal races. — Palenque. — Hieroglyphs. — Temples. —
  Desertion of the Temples and stone buildings in Yucatan. —
  Conquest of Yucatan by the Aztecs. — Antiquity of Palenque and
  Uxmal. — Aztec custom of imprisoning captives in cages and
  sacrificing them to the gods. — Civilisation of the Toltecs. —
  Note upon the symbol or Totem of the Serpent.

In the following chapters I propose to bring together the various notes
upon the Indians and their temples and earthworks which were made when
traversing Central America, and to add to them the conclusions which
have been formed subsequently.

There are certain problems which particularly require to be examined.
With respect to the antiquity of the stone buildings and pyramids,
it would be difficult to attempt to do more than endeavour to form
reasonable deductions from the evidence afforded by the state of those
ruins, and the information given about them by the Indians at the time
of the conquest. The conquerors, after they had settled in Yucatan and
Guatemala, were accompanied by Spanish missionaries of great ability.
We possess in the writings of Bishop Las Casas and Bishop Landa works
of the greatest value, for both those prelates when they were engaged
in their duties of converting the natives, were acquainted with the
language of the tribes amongst whom they worked.

In the prosecution of researches into subjects which relate to Central
America, it is desirable as a preliminary step to consider the
comparative civilisation of the Indians, as far as that is brought
into evidence by what has been discovered with respect to mounds and
earthworks, not only in that region, but also throughout the valley of
the Mississippi. A distinction must also be made between earthworks
which are unquestionably of great antiquity, and those that possibly
may have been raised since the date of the arrival of European
settlers. Therefore the geometrically planned inclosures in Ohio should
be excluded from this inquiry. It is otherwise with great ramparts such
as those inclosing Fort Ancient on the steep promontory in the valley
of the Little Miami, which are of special importance on account of the
parallelisms with the similar fortifications made by the Quichés and
Kachiquels in Guatemala.

There are exceptional circumstances connected with the mounds in North
America. It has to be remembered that they were not always burial
places. When De Soto arrived with his fleet in Florida, the chief
cacique of the tribe dwelling near the landing place, was living on the
top of a mound about fifty feet high. This mound was pointed out to me
when I was at Tampa. It appeared to be made for the purpose of placing
huts upon its summit. The platform was sufficiently large to give room
for several dwellings. There are also mounds near the western bank of
the Mississippi, between Natchez and the mouth of the Arkansas. One of
them resembled that at Tampa, and had a wide level space on the summit.

When the earliest Spanish expedition passed through that part of the
country, it was observed that the Indians frequently placed their
houses upon artificial earthworks raised sufficiently high to be above
the inundations. At Natchez the tribe, which, from their peculiar
customs, have been called the sun worshippers, raised mounds primarily
for the residence of their chiefs, who differed from other Indians of
that rank, in being invested with special attributes in connection with
ceremonies performed before the rising sun. But there were customs with
respect to them which require to be noticed. It was stated by Father le
Petit, who was for many years a missionary amongst the Natchez, that
when their principal chief died his hut was demolished and a new mound
was raised, upon which was built the wooden cabin of his successor in
that dignity. It can be understood that where a large tribe having
this custom dwelt for a long time in one place, it might happen that
a series of connected platform mounds, forming an inclosure, would
probably have a rectangular shape.

Higher up the Mississippi, above the junction of the Ohio, are the
Cahokia earthworks. There were also several mounds placed on high
ground near the east bank of the river, not far from the borders of
Illinois and Wisconsin. One of these, which was about forty feet
high, was opened ten years before I went to St. Paul’s. A vault was
discovered beneath the level of the ground, which contained several
skeletons sitting in a circle. The earth of which it was composed was
a kind of loam, not occurring in the vicinity, and it was supposed
that it must have been brought from a considerable distance by Indians
who wished to show their respect for the burial place of their chiefs,
by bringing tributes of earth taken from the ground near their
encampments. The high mounds placed around the edge of the promontory,
now called Dayton’s Bluff, and which are the most northern group in the
valley of the Mississippi, have been described in a preceding chapter.

When I was in Chiapas, the Presbitero Macal told me that he was present
when two mounds were examined in 1860, near San Cristobal. They were
each ten feet high and covered vaults made of large flat slabs of
stone. Within these tombs were two skulls, but nothing else was found.
There were no weapons or fragments of pottery. In the vault under the
mound in Illinois there were several large pieces of pottery, and on
the surface, immediately above the tomb, were ashes and other evidences
of fire.

But before proceeding farther with this subject, it is necessary to
bring under consideration the progress of archæological knowledge in
North America, since the date of my visit to the ancient mounds and
earthworks in Ohio. Great advances have been made in the classification
of the discoveries that have taken place in the burial mounds that
exist throughout the United States. Deductions can consequently be
established with regard to the civilisation of the Indians, and it has
become possible to establish, upon a scientific basis, their position
as a race. A long series of investigations have been completed, and a
summary of the results published, under the auspices of the Smithsonian
Institution, by Professor Cyrus Thomas.[97]

“It seems desirable at the present time,” he observes, “to make a
statement explaining the plans and describing the work of the mound
exploring division of the Bureau of Ethnology.”... “The questions
relating to prehistoric America are to be determined not alone by
the study of its ancient monuments, but by the study also of the
languages, customs, art, beliefs, and folk-lore of the aborigines.
Only by such a comprehensive study can the exact relations of the
ancient archæological remains to the historic Indian tribes be made
apparent. Major J. W. Powell, the Director of the Bureau, taking this
comprehensive and scientific view of the subject, saw at the outset the
necessity of deciding as soon as possible the question ‘Were the mound
builders Indians?’”

The work was carried on for several years, and Professor Thomas states
that “Over two thousand mounds have been explored, including almost
every known type as to form.... Nothing trustworthy has been discovered
to justify the theory that the mound builders belonged to a highly
civilised race, or that they were a people who had attained a higher
culture status than the Indians. It is true that works and papers
on American archæology are full of statements to the contrary, which
are generally based on the theory that the mound builders belonged to
a race of much higher culture than the Indians. Yet when the facts
on which this opinion is based are examined with sober, scientific
care, the splendid fabric which has been built upon them by that
great workman, imagination, fades from sight.” Professor Thomas also
observes—“That the links discovered directly connecting the Indians and
mound builders are so numerous and well established that there should
be no longer any hesitancy in accepting the theory that the two are one
and the same people.”

The origin and nature of the American mounds, and the customs of the
Indians who raised them, have also been investigated by Professor
Lucien Carr. He claims “that the mounds and inclosures of Ohio, like
those in New York and the Gulf States, were the work of the red Indians
of historic times, or of their immediate ancestors.”[98]

With reference to this much debated question of the formation of these
inclosures, a re-survey of several of them was made. The measurements
of Professor Thomas and his assistants appear to have established the
fact of the geometrical accuracy of the octagonal, square and circular
works near Newark.[99] In the introduction to the memoir upon the
Ohio mounds, Professor Thomas observes that “The constantly recurring
question ‘Who constructed these works?’ has brought before the public
a number of widely different theories, though the one which has been
most generally accepted is that they originated with a people long
since extinct or driven from the country, who had attained a culture
status much in advance of that reached by the aborigines inhabiting
the country at the time of its discovery by Europeans. The opinions
advanced in this paper, in support of which evidence will be presented,
is that the ancient works of the State are due to Indians of several
different tribes, and that some at least of the typical works, were
built by the ancestors of the modern Cherokees.”[100]

As a consequence of the examination of the Indian mounds throughout
the United States, the majority of the modern American archæologists
consider that the aboriginal inhabitants were never in a higher
state of civilisation than they were when they first became known to
Europeans. It is not however the questions of the burial mounds, and
the importance of what has been found in them which have chiefly to
be considered here. Attention should be principally directed to the
difficult problem respecting the great fortified ramparts of Fort

The traditions of the Delawares,[101] which affirmed that the defensive
earthworks of Ohio were built by the Tallegwi, have generally been
accepted as being well founded. They were stated to have been a
powerful tribe who built fortifications and entrenchments. Finally
they abandoned their lands and went southwards, down the valley of the
Mississippi and never returned. It may be conjectured, after observing
the similar works and methods of selecting their defensive positions
in Guatemala, that the Tallegwi were the same race who were afterwards
known as Toltecs. The probability of this assumption being reasonable,
becomes more evident when the group of platform and circular mounds on
the plains near Mixco are observed to be similar to those raised on the
plains of Cahokia near the banks of the Mississippi.

The question of the condition of intelligence amongst the North
American Indians, has a direct bearing upon the problem of the origin
of the civilisation of the Toltecs and Aztecs, and it is satisfactory
to know that there are sound reasons for supposing that the Indians
who constructed the fortified camps in Ohio were not more advanced in
knowledge than the tribes who were dwelling in that region at the time
of the discovery of America by Columbus.

Several years after the conquest of Mexico, the Spaniards sent
expeditions into the southern parts of Central America, and conquered
the Quichés and the surrounding country, in which were situated
the ramparts defending Utatlan and Patinamit. It was subsequently
considered desirable that investigations should be made into the
ancient systems by which the aboriginal inhabitants had been governed
by their caciques, and orders were given to this effect by the Emperor
Charles the Fifth and by his successor Philip the Second. In the
reports of the officers who conducted these inquiries, it was stated
that an extraordinarily rigid line of caste was maintained amongst the
Quichés. There was an absolute distinction between the ruling families
descended from the caciques, and the great mass of the races who were
under their control. It was also evident, judging from the language of
several appeals made by Indian chiefs to obtain justice and to have
their rank and authority acknowledged, that they considered the working
classes of Indians as their absolute slaves.

“There was no instance,” states the historian Juarros, “of any person
being appointed to a public office, high or low, who was not selected
from the nobility; for which reason, great anxiety was felt by them
to keep the purity of their lineage unsullied. To preserve this rank
untainted in blood, it was decreed by the law, that if any cacique
or noble should marry a woman who was not of noble family, he should
be degraded to the caste of mazegual or plebeian, assume the name of
his wife, and be subject to all the duties and services imposed upon
plebeians.” These services generally consisted of works performed
by forced labour. The lands belonging to the ruling families were
cultivated in this manner, and, in fact, the Indians of the native
and working class were entirely at the disposal of their masters. One
of the Spanish bishops, whose diocese was in Mexico, mentions that he
had ascertained that these mazeguales could be sold or killed by their
owners. There were marked differences in the dress of the people. The
mazeguales wore, as a rule, nothing but the loin cloth, or sometimes,
as is the case now with the Lacandones, a long cotton shirt, reaching
nearly to the feet. It was a matter of observation amongst the
conquerors that the inferior classes of Indians were submissive, but
that their rulers were intractable, harsh and warlike.

It is inexpedient to pursue this particular subject to any great
extent, for it is made clear by the reports of the Spanish authorities
that the relations of the governing class of the Quichés to the
other Indians under their rule were those of a race of conquerors
to a race of slaves, and the victors treated those whom they had
conquered in a manner in accordance with the habits of a savage and
barbarous tribe of North American Indians. This much may be admitted
from the consideration of the circumstances of the laws and customs
of the Quichés at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards. But if a
due estimation is also given to the evidence afforded by the strange
and otherwise inexplicable similarities in the methods of choosing
fortified positions and raising ramparts with those in Ohio, it becomes
reasonable to infer that the Quiché chiefs originally migrated from
that part of North America.

It is however necessary to note that, at whatever period their
migration may have taken place, it cannot be granted or inferred that
the Ohio tribes brought with them any knowledge of architecture, or
of any form of civilisation, for had it been otherwise, they would
have left behind them some vestiges of that civilisation or mechanical
skill. It is especially remarkable that throughout the length and
breadth of North America there is not the smallest fragment of any
hewn stone building, or of any carved stone hieroglyphic characters.
Thus the theory of migratory tribes of Indians bringing with them from
the North into Mexico, a comparatively advanced knowledge of arts
and sciences is opposed to all evidence. It is almost certain that
the state of civilisation that at one time existed in the regions of
Chiapas and Yucatan, was introduced into the country at some period
subsequent to the arrival of the invading tribe, unless it can be
established that the aboriginal races already possessed a competent
intelligence, and an architectural capacity. A proposition of this
character cannot be reasonably maintained, for it is known that in
the fifteenth century the Indians in Cuba and Haiti, the Caribs on
the coasts south of Yucatan, and the aborigines in the interior were
savages, existing in a low state of human intelligence. This subject
respecting the Indian migrations and the state of civilisation that was
existing, or had existed, in Central America, can be more definitely
considered after attention has been directed to the question of the
antiquity and purpose of the buildings at Palenque and Uxmal. It is
much to be regretted that Palenque was not known to the Spaniards when
Cortes marched within a few leagues of it in 1524. Possibly, at that
time it had not been long abandoned, and perhaps some of the caciques
dwelling in that part of the valley of the Usamacinta might have been
able to explain the meaning of the hieroglyphs. Unfortunately the
ruins were not discovered until more than two centuries had elapsed,
and nothing could be ascertained from the Indians which gave the
slightest clue to their signification. It has been surmised—and there
are good reasons for thinking that the surmise may be correct—that the
characters relate to the migrations of the tribes. But in consequence
of the incomplete knowledge of these Indian hieroglyphs, it would be
impossible to attempt to form any satisfactory conjectures regarding
their meaning.

There exists, however, graven on the tablet of the cross, two figures
which, if I am correct in my opinion with regard to them, are of the
greatest importance in establishing certain facts with regard to the
builders of Palenque. Upon referring to the illustration of the altar
tablet that was placed within the temple of the cross, it will be
noticed that the two standing figures offering sacrifice to the quetzal
or sacred bird of Quiché, are evidently intended to represent persons
actually living at the time that the altar was designed, for there is
nothing fantastic in the costume that is worn by them. If a careful
examination is made into the details of their dress it will, I think,
be concluded that these men were the chief caciques of the Quichés.

“The nobles,” observes Juarros, “wore a dress of white cotton dyed or
stained with different colours, the use of which was prohibited to the
other ranks. This vestment consisted of a shirt and white breeches,
decorated with fringes; over these was drawn another pair of breeches,
reaching to the knees and ornamented with a species of embroidery;
the legs were bare; the feet protected by sandals, fastened over the
instep and at the heel by thongs of leather; the sleeves of the shirt
were looped above the elbow, with a blue or red band; the hair was
worn long, and tressed behind with a cord of the colour used upon the
sleeves, and terminating in a tassel, which was a distinction peculiar
to the great captains; the waist was girded with a piece of cloth of
various colours, fastened in a knot before; over the shoulders was
thrown a white mantle, ornamented with figures of birds, lions and
other decorations of cord and fringe. The ears and lower lip were
pierced, to receive star-shaped pendants of gold or silver.”

Upon an examination of the figures it will be observed that, although
their dress corresponds with what is described as being worn by the
Quiché caciques, neither of them are wearing sandals. But, on the
altar of the temple placed on an adjacent mound, the same figures are
again offering sacrifices, and the tallest of them is wearing sandals
precisely as described above. It was the custom among the Quichés
to associate with the principal cacique another chief, to whom was
intrusted the control and management of the troops and the conduct of
all hostilities, and it is stated that sometimes this chief was the
eldest son of the cacique. As the second temple appears to have been
dedicated to the god of war, it may be assumed that the shorter figure
was intended to represent a war chief. He is dressed in accordance
with that rank and wears a mantle and a heavy tassel. In this temple
the chief is drawn as standing upon a kneeling captive, but in that
dedicated to Quetzalcoatl he is placed upon a block of stone, upon
which is a hieroglyph. To Quetzalcoatl the offering appears to have
been in conformity with the attributes assigned to him, of religion
and education. Possibly the child, held in the hands of the tallest
cacique, was dedicated to serve in the temple after having been trained
for the priesthood in the monastery.


It is satisfactory to be able to establish the conclusion that the
figures are caciques of the Quichés, for it thereby becomes possible to
advance a few steps towards the solution of a problem which presents
many difficulties with regard to the period of the construction of
Palenque, and state of civilization of the builders. In a manuscript
left in a Franciscan convent by one of the descendants of the Quichés,
an account was given of the migrations of that tribe before they
settled near Utatlan. It was stated that they reached that country
after a long journey from Mexico, and adopted the name of Quiché in
memory of one of their leaders; but before that time the people were
called Toltecs.

Before endeavouring to establish conclusions with regard to Palenque,
attention should be directed to the temples and other stone buildings
in the adjacent regions. With respect to the numerous groups of
ruins in Yucatan, we possess the testimony of the Spanish priests who
dwelt in their parishes in that country at a period when many of the
governing class of Indians were of the same generation as those who
inhabited the land when it was conquered. One of these missionaries
was Father Landa, who was not only zealous in the performance of his
duties, but also studied the language and civilisation of the race
amongst whom he dwelt. He was present in Tihoo soon after the capture
of that Indian settlement, which was afterwards chosen for the site of
the city of Merida.

He states that in that place there were several stone edifices. He made
a plan of the largest of them from which it is evident that they were
of the same character as those at Uxmal. Tihoo was occupied by the
Spanish forces in 1541, and the terraces, upon which were placed the
principal buildings, were given to the Franciscans as a site for their
convent. The friars began their work in 1547. Thus only six years had
elapsed since the Indians had left their town. Landa’s descriptions
of the state and condition of the ancient ruins are therefore of the
greatest assistance in forming conclusions with regard to them.

The principal edifice was placed upon the highest of three terraces,
each of which was surrounded or faced by thick walls, and approached
by steps. There was a large interior quadrangle having ranges of
rooms or cells occupying the four sides. These were similar to those
in the “House of the Nuns” at Uxmal. In the vicinity there were
several pyramids which had small temples on their summits. It was
observed that all these structures appeared to have been disused for a
considerable period. The Franciscans found that the Indian structures
were covered with thick brushwood. This was cleared away. The buildings
were destroyed and the materials supplied the stone required for their
church and convent.[102]

The fact that the desertion of the temples had occurred before the
arrival of the Spaniards is important. It explains many of the
circumstances then existing in Yucatan which otherwise would be
unintelligible. When the conquerors settled in that land they were
surprised to find numerous stone buildings in various parts of the
country, all of which were unoccupied. They were informed that they had
not been abandoned in consequence of their conquest. They found that
it was impracticable to obtain from the natives any explanation of the
nature of the events which had happened and had caused this change.
Thus the problem regarding the purposes of these extensive buildings,
and the architectural skill of the constructors was as obscure to them
at that time as it is now to the present inhabitants.

At Izamal, about thirty-five miles east of Tihoo, there were also
numerous temples, and it was noticed by Landa that there were evidences
of there having been a paved road between the two places. A Franciscan
convent was established at Izamal, and a brief account of its temples
was written in 1663 by Father Lizana, in which he states, with respect
to the ruins in Yucatan, that the deserted edifices appeared to
have been of one style of architecture, and that some of them were
so perfect that it might be said that twenty years had not elapsed
since they were built. These edifices were however, he observes, not
inhabited by the Indians when the Spaniards arrived. The natives lived
scattered in huts amongst the woods, but they used them as temples or
sanctuaries, and occasionally performed religious ceremonies and fasts

The Franciscan missionaries were not able to obtain from the natives
an intelligible explanation of the events that had occurred which had
caused the temples to be abandoned. But they were informed that an
invasion had taken place about two hundred years before their arrival,
and many of the caciques and ruling families had been driven out of the
land. The invaders did not occupy the sacred buildings, and allowed
them to fall into ruin, but they were visited occasionally by those who
still had faith in the ancient gods and wished to offer sacrifices to
them. It was ascertained that the greater part of Yucatan had become
subject to the control of chiefs belonging to the Aztec race, and that
several of them paid tribute to Montezuma.

The question of the antiquity of the temples of Palenque, Uxmal and
other structures of that character must therefore, in a great degree,
be decided by the evidence upon which are based the traditions of the
migrations of the Toltecs who preceded the Aztecs, and were the first
of the hordes who conquered the aboriginal races of Central America.
The historians who have investigated those traditions concur in
considering that the arrival of the Toltecs within Mexican territory
happened in the seventh century. After remaining some time in the
northern part of the country, they migrated southwards to Cholula,
Palenque and Yucatan.[104] If the historic evidence is accepted as
being trustworthy, it follows that all the stone edifices in these
regions must have been erected later than that date. The Aztecs arrived
at the close of the twelfth century. Therefore it may be concluded that
Palenque was built later than the eighth century, and was deserted
before the fourteenth century. Uxmal is evidently more modern than
Palenque, and it may be assumed that it was constructed after the tenth
century, and abandoned not much earlier than a hundred years before
the Spaniards landed upon the shores of the New World.

The Aztec chiefs introduced into Yucatan one of their barbarous
customs which was similar to what was practised by them elsewhere.
It was found by the conquerors, that in Mexico they kept slaves and
prisoners in cages, where these victims were fattened and prepared for
sacrifice.[105] After having been killed and offered as propitiations
to the gods their bodies were eaten. In 1511, it happened that a
Spanish vessel was wrecked upon some shoals fifteen leagues south of
the island of Jamaica. The crew after having been thirteen days in
an open boat, landed upon the north-eastern shores of Yucatan near
Cape Catoche, and were made captives by the cacique of the district.
Valdivia, who was in command, together with four of his men, were at
once sacrificed and eaten, others were put in cages, but several of
these men escaped. When the fleet under the command of Cortes anchored
off Cozumel, in 1519, one of the captives, named Aguilar, went on board
the flagship.

Bernal Diaz, who was with the expedition and saw this man when he
arrived, relates that when Aguilar came before the presence of Cortes
he cowered down according to the manner of Indian slaves. Aguilar
stated that only he and another Spaniard named Gonzalo Guerrero, were
then alive. Most of his companions had been sacrificed to the gods,
but some had died, and two women who were with them had perished from
misery and the severity of the labour of grinding maize. Guerrero had
married an Indian woman and followed the native customs. He had been
tattoed, his ears were pierced and his lips were turned down.[106]
Aguilar had become acquainted with the Maya language, and was
afterwards employed by Cortes as an interpreter. Guerrero remained in
Yucatan with the Indians.

Upon a review of the facts ascertained by the conquerors in the
sixteenth century in Mexico and Guatemala, and by the Franciscan and
Dominican missionaries in Yucatan and Chiapas, together with the
researches made since that time by archæologists and explorers, it
appears to be possible to form certain conclusions. The architectural
and mechanical knowledge, and the advance towards writing characters,
forming calendars and reckoning time by astronomical observations must
have been reached within a period of less than four centuries. It is
therefore probable that the priests of the Toltecs became acquainted
with their arts and sciences not long after they had left North America
and had migrated to the regions around Téotihuacan in the direction
of the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. In what manner and under what
circumstances their knowledge was obtained, is a problem which requires
to be given a careful investigation.

                   •       •       •       •       •

  In an Aztec or Toltec manuscript which forms part of the
  collection of ancient Mexican codices placed in the library of
  the Vatican, there is a representation of a cacique making an
  offering to a rattlesnake.

  The manner of propitiation resembles the methods of sacrificing
  to this Manito which were followed by the Dakotas (see p. 170).
  The head dress of the cacique which consists of plumed feathers
  is similar to that worn by the chiefs of that race, and is
  placed in the same position as the feathers of Rocky Bear
  (illustration, chapter viii).

  The rattlesnake appears to have been the Totem of the Toltecs
  and is the chief emblem at Uxmal and Chichen Itza.

  It is thought that a serpent is represented upon the central
  stone of the tablet of the cross at Palenque and as the
  god to whom the temple is dedicated was named Bird-Serpent
  (Quetzal-Coatl), it is probable that the sculptors delineated
  the symbol in a manner that was intelligible to the Quichés.

  Upon an examination of the illustration of the centre tablet,
  which is an exact reproduction from a photograph of the
  original stone (see frontispiece), these symbols may perhaps
  be traced. I may here venture to express the opinion that the
  Toltecs may have been the tribe that once dwelt in that part of
  Ohio to the west of the river Scioto, where is still to be seen
  the Totem of the serpent.

  The illustration of the propitiation to the serpent is taken
  from a part of the Mexican manuscript represented in Humboldt’s
  “Vues des Cordilléres.”



                              CHAPTER XX.

  Conjectures respecting the descendants of the tribes who built
  the Temples. — Knowledge and education of the Caciques and
  Priests. — Traditions of the arrival of white strangers from
  the East. — Las Casas. — Quetzal-Coatl. — Crosses found in
  Yucatan. — Gomara. — Legend of the flight of Spaniards by sea
  towards the West after the conquest of Spain by the Saracens. —
  Fabulous island of Antilia. — Columbus on his outward voyage
  steers for Antilia. — Trade-winds. — Considerations upon the
  probabilities of vessels being driven across the Atlantic or
  Pacific Oceans towards America.

The subject of the origin and migrations of the Toltecs has been given
much attention. It has been a matter of conjecture whether any of
the descendants of the people who built the temples of Palenque, and
inscribed upon tablets of stone their hieroglyphic records, are at
present living in Central America.

The chief difficulty in attempting to form a decision upon this
question, is the uncertainty regarding the distinction to be made
between the people belonging to the conquering Quichés and the
aboriginal races whom they had reduced to slavery, and who constituted
the greater part of the population. It is known that the caciques and
other members of the governing families of Utatlan became gradually
reduced to the utmost poverty. But there were other chiefs of tribes of
Quiché origin who did not resist the Spaniards, and who volunteered
to become their allies. Many of these were permitted to hold lands in
the neighbourhood of Lake Atitlan, and lived in a prosperous condition
until the early part of the eighteenth century, when they disappeared
from notice. Possibly, in accordance with Quiché customs, they may have
kept apart from those who were mazeguales, and intermarried amongst
Indians of the same race as themselves.

The statements of the grandsons of the caciques of Utatlan, as recorded
in their manuscripts, with regard to the dates of the arrival of their
tribe, the building of the fortresses, and their system of dividing the
country they had conquered into separate governments, are undoubtedly
entitled to be considered as deserving of attention. They agree in
a remarkable manner with what has been since ascertained. It may be
inferred from the account of their migrations and the list of their
kings or chief caciques, that they had been settled in Guatemala about
three or four hundred years before Utatlan was conquered by Alvarado.

During the time that I was crossing the Cordilleras in the region
which had been governed by the Quichés, I endeavoured to ascertain if
there were any marked differences in the types or characters of the
tribes then occupying the land. Near Patinamit I saw several groups of
Kachiquels who were of the same race as the Quichés, and I noticed that
in many respects they resembled the Dakotas, and in appearance were
unlike the ordinary natives. I also observed in the district adjacent
to Santa Cruz del Quiché that the Indians holding official positions
in the villages were usually of a larger stature than the inferior men
and, in their harsh and overbearing manner and features, recalled to
mind the chiefs of the North American tribes. I found, however, that it
was not possible to form definite conclusions based upon the facts that
came within my personal observation. The Quichés are reserved in their
intercourse with strangers. Whatever may be their comparative condition
of wealth or poverty they all live in the same manner, and seem to be
satisfied with the barest necessaries. Near Jacaltenango, when amongst
the Mams, I met one of the richest and most influential of the Indians
of that tribe. He was living like the meanest of the people, although
he was the owner of a prosperous estate. This apparent equality in the
habits of life is universal amongst the Indians.

In the sixteenth century, after the conquest, the caciques of the
Quichés and Mams who had submitted to the Spaniards were accustomed
to maintain a state ceremonial of considerable dignity; and at a
later period the Indians who claimed to have held high rank and who
were granted lands and privileges lived in a manner suitable to their
condition. This comparative distinction has entirely disappeared. With
respect to the migrations of the governing classes of the Quichés it is
a matter of interest to observe that several of the Indian chiefs who
accompanied the Spanish conquerors from Mexico, married the daughters
of these Quichés, and said that they did so because they had discovered
that they were of the same race as themselves.

In the consideration of subjects relating to the Indians it is
necessary to discriminate between the observances of the aboriginal
inhabitants and those of the races who were of foreign origin. Thus
with respect to the superstitious and extremely devotional inclinations
of the natives in Guatemala and Chiapas, it may be assumed that those
instincts belong to the race who dwelt in those lands before they were
conquered by the Toltecs and Aztecs; but the customs of sacrificing
human beings to the gods together with other acts of barbarity were
introduced from North America.

The Spaniards considered that the most evident proclivities of the
masses of the natives were drunkenness and idolatry. The latter
tendency prevailed to an excessive degree. Las Casas states that
throughout New Spain the idols were so numerous that they could not
be counted. During his journeys he found them in every place and of
every kind, in their huts, in the villages, amongst the hills and in
the sacred places. The numbers of them, he relates, were infinite.
In the sixteenth century the Indians were gradually, but not without
difficulty, brought under the control of the Spanish ecclesiastics. The
idols were destroyed, and the superstitious practices, especially all
those which were connected with the worship of demons, were suppressed.

The national instinct of idolatry still remains. There is in the
nature of the aboriginal races a religious fervour which apparently
forms an integral part of their character. They are also submissive
and inoffensive, and it can be understood how any invading and warlike
tribe would, without difficulty, conquer and control people having
this mild disposition. It is not surprising that a fierce tribe of
North American Indians was able to reduce them into a state of servile
obedience. The Toltecs and, afterwards, the Aztecs would undoubtedly
have introduced into Mexico the barbarous usages which prevailed
amongst the tribes dwelling in the valleys of the Mississippi and Ohio,
and these usages, when grafted upon the vices which existed amongst the
natives, may have been the inciting cause of the revolting condition of
national demoralisation which was so severely described by Bernal Diaz
and other Spanish historians.

The Dominican missionaries in Guatemala observed that the Indians
were passionately fond of dancing and singing. The joyousness which
originally existed in their nature or temperament has become extinct.
The usual tenour of their lives seems to be accompanied by a quiet,
subdued melancholy. It is not improbable that, as a consequence of
several centuries of Spanish domination, the aboriginal races have
sunk into a dull and apathetic state. It is however possible that
other influences acted upon the taciturn and wild natures of these
tribes.[107] The innate disposition of the natives to worship idols in
Guatemala was found to be equally existing with the Mayas in Yucatan,
who also had the custom of making pilgrimages to the shrines. It is
mentioned by Landa that the pilgrims stopped when passing near any of
the deserted or ruined temples, and were accustomed to mutter prayers,
and offer incense. This custom was in accordance with the acts of
devotion which I saw practised by the Tzendal Indians in Chiapas before
the ruined walls of the church at Bachajon.

There are circumstances connected with the domination of the Aztecs,
and possibly also with that of their predecessors the Quiché-Toltecs,
which require to be noticed. It is unquestionable that slavery would
have been the fate of any tribe or race conquered by North American
Indians. But the fact of slaves or captives being bought and sold for
the purpose of being killed and offered to the gods is extraordinary.
Great numbers of the natives were annually sacrificed, and astonishing
acts of cannibalism were committed. Whatever may have been the
hardships inflicted by the Spaniards upon the Mexican Indians, it is
satisfactory to be assured that the discovery of America, and the
conquests of Cortes put an end to the most horrible condition of things
that has ever been known to have existed in any part of the world.

There are, however, other facts to be taken into consideration. It has
been assumed that there was a condition of comparative civilisation
amongst the ruling tribes, which seemed to be in such a progressive
state as to lead to the conclusion that there were elements of
knowledge which might have been so far developed in the course of
time as to have brought these Indians into the ranks of civilised
nations. With regard to this subject it should be observed that when
the Spaniards conquered Central America, the progress that may have
been partially made had already ceased. The monasteries at Palenque and
in Yucatan had been abandoned. Even when they were flourishing, the
knowledge that was taught did not extend to the people. It was confined
to the priesthood, the caciques, and the few scholars who were trained
for the purpose of interpreting the signs and characters by which
information was spread abroad. It was by one of these interpreters that
Cortes was made acquainted with the conspiracy that was being organized
against him by Guatimozin during the march to Honduras. How or in what
manner this comparative intelligence arose suddenly in the land is a
problem of the greatest difficulty.

The possibility of a previous condition of civilisation having existed
amongst the aboriginal tribes cannot be considered as being within the
limits of reasonable conjecture, for there are no vestiges of any stone
buildings, sculptures, or of hieroglyphic inscribed characters, used as
a means of recording events, except in those regions which are known
to have been occupied by the Toltecs or Aztecs. With especial regard
to the temples on the mounds at Palenque, it is evident that these and
their sculptures and hieroglyphs were the results of a certain degree
of architectural knowledge obtained by the Quiché-Toltecs after they
had migrated into Mexico.

But admitting that this may have been the case, it becomes extremely
difficult to understand how their mechanical skill could have sprung
into existence within such a limited period of time. It was found
that the Indian progress in their peculiar civilisation was very
local. Bishop Landa, writing exclusively about Yucatan, states that
all education was under the management of the priests attached to the
monasteries. Similar systems appeared to have been followed in other
regions which had been under the rule of the Toltecs.[108] The results
of the investigations into the subject of the extent and methods which
were adopted for the purpose of maintaining knowledge amongst the
Indians, confirm the opinion that the literature and civilisation found
to have existed in Mexico and Yucatan was exclusively caused by the
teaching of the priests.

Explanations of the circumstances under which the priests became
acquainted with their sciences were given to the Spaniards by the chief
priests attached to the temple of Quetzalcoatl at Cholula and also by
certain caciques in Yucatan.


Las Casas relates that when he was making a journey within his diocese,
he met one of his missionaries named Francisco Hernandez, who had been
for some years living in Yucatan, and had become acquainted with the
language. Thinking that this ecclesiastic would be useful for the work
of converting the Indians to the faith, he made him his vicar and sent
him into the interior to preach amongst the natives. After a lapse
of several months he received a letter from the vicar stating that
he had been told by one of the principal caciques, that it was known
that, anciently, there had arrived in Yucatan twenty strangers. They
were dressed in long robes, had sandals upon their feet, and taught
religion. It was also mentioned that these men wore long beards,[109]
and that they had a leader who was named Cucul-can (Quetzalcoatl).

Las Casas concludes by observing that “Certainly the land and kingdom
of Yucatan gives us to understand most especial things, and of the
greatest antiquity with regard to the grand, admirable and exquisite
styles of ancient edifices, and writings of certain characters which
are in no other place. Finally, these are secrets which God only knows.
(Finalmente, secretos son estos que sólo Dios los sabe).”[110]

But the most explicit statements with regard to Quetzalcoatl were
those which were given by the chief-priests of the temples raised to
his memory at Cholula.[111] They affirmed the tradition of the arrival
of strangers of a white race and foreign origin coming by sea in
vessels from the east. These strangers were said to have taught the
Indians to build monasteries, and maintain seminaries for religious
instruction. According to Clavigero, they taught certain natives the
methods of arranging the divisions of time and the use of the calendar.
The priests also showed the Spaniards some ornaments which they said
had been worn by the chief of these strangers.

The positive declarations about white people having landed upon the
shores of the Mexican Gulf have been carefully investigated. It has
been usually considered that they were the result of a myth, or that
they were based upon vague traditions relating to events which, if
they had any foundation, must have happened at a period exceedingly
remote and possibly referred to early migrations from Asia. But it has
to be remembered that the facts reported by the caciques and priests
invariably related to a period when their tribes were established in
Yucatan or Mexico; and the arrival of the strangers was always said to
have taken place on the eastern seaboard of those lands. As the Toltecs
according to the Indian records were not established there before the
sixth century the event, if it occurred, must have happened after that

There are also other circumstances connected with this legend which
appear, to some extent, to remove it from a mythical character and to
place it within the limits of legitimate inquiry and investigation. The
Indians who described the events spoke of them in a manner which was
not vague, but was clear and decided, and as being within the personal
knowledge of their ancestors. They also always gave a description of
the monuments of the strangers or of their chief. Thus, in Yucatan,
the leader was said to have left that region for the coast of Mexico.
At Cholula, it was the tradition that Quetzalcoatl, with several of
his companions, went away to the sea shore near Goascoalco, in the
direction of Yucatan and never returned. In the regions of the interior
of Chiapas and Guatemala, it was stated that in several of the native
manuscripts accounts were given of a great leader or chief named
Votan who was believed to have arrived in that country with nineteen
companions or other chiefs. Votan was supposed to have landed in
America near the Laguna de Terminos and to have established his first
settlement near Palenque.[112]

The most singular circumstance relating to the worship of Quetzalcoatl
is the fact that a cross should have been the chief emblem in the
temple especially dedicated to him at Palenque. The fact of this symbol
being worshipped by the Indians in the New World may perhaps not be
deemed particularly strange, but it has to be taken into consideration
that there is no record of any figure in the shape of a cross having
been an object of devotion in any part of America, except in the
regions that had been occupied by the Toltecs.

When the Spaniards arrived in Yucatan they reported that they saw in
the court of a temple at Cozumel a cross made of lime and stone which
was worshipped by the natives. There were some doubts about the precise
meaning assigned to this image, possibly owing to the difficulties of
understanding the Maya language, but it was afterwards ascertained that
it represented the god of rain.

The cross on the altar at Palenque is of an entirely different
character, and evidently forms the principal part of the emblem
representing Quetzalcoatl. How did it come to pass that this
exceptional figure of a cross should have been sculptured upon the
tablet representing the emblems of the white stranger who, according
to the Indian traditions, landed upon their shores, coming from the
east in a sacerdotal dress, wearing sandals upon his feet and having
red crosses embroidered upon his cape?[113]

It is this coincidence that causes attention to be directed to an
endeavour to form some reasonable solution of the problem. It will be
observed, upon an examination of the illustration of the tablet of the
cross, that the name Quetzalcoatl is represented by the quetzal, the
emblematic bird of the Quichés, and by peculiar marks surrounding the
cross which are thought to be intended to denote a serpent (coatl)
which, as at Uxmal, was probably the Totem of the tribe.[114] But
the principal figure placed in the centre of the altar is the cross.
This by its shape and position must have been intended to have had an
especial significance.

It is related by Gomara that, upon the occasion of the discovery of
Yucatan by the expedition under the command of Francisco Hernandez
in 1517, the Spaniards observed in the country near Cape Catoche,
crosses of brass and wood placed over graves. The unexpected finding of
these crosses in an hitherto unknown land attracted the attention of
geographers in Spain and, to some extent, led to theories with regard
to the possible arrival in Yucatan of the Spanish ecclesiastics who
had, according to an ancient legend, fled from Spain when that country
was conquered by the Saracens in the eighth century, and were believed
to have reached an island in the western parts of the Atlantic ocean
called Antilia.

What Gomara wrote upon this subject is as follows:—

“In that place there were found crosses of brass and wood over the
dead, from whence some argue that many Spaniards had fled to this land
when the destruction of Spain was done by the Moors in the time of
the King Don Roderick: but I do not believe it; since there are not
any in the islands that we have mentioned: in some one of which it is
necessary, and also compulsory to touch at, before arriving there.”

Gomara was undoubtedly correct in not believing that these crosses
were placed over the graves of Spaniards who had arrived in Yucatan
after the defeat and flight of King Roderick. It is not requisite to
go back to events that occurred in Spain in the eighth century to
account for the existence of crosses on the promontory of Cape Catoche.
When Hernandez landed there in 1517, nearly a quarter of a century
had elapsed since Columbus had founded his settlements in Cuba and
Hispaniola, and during that interval many small expeditions had been
organised by Spanish adventurers for the purpose of exploring the
coasts in the direction of Honduras and Nicaragua. In pursuing these
voyages of discovery their vessels must have frequently passed at no
great distance from the eastern shores of Yucatan where, on their
return from the south, they would have been baffled by contrary winds
and currents. Under such conditions it is not improbable that one of
the vessels may have been wrecked or abandoned off Cape Catoche, and
that some of the crew perished and were buried by the survivors near
the seacoast.

The Spanish legend to which Gomara refers is, with respect to America,
chiefly remarkable for its surprising concurrence in date and other
circumstances with the Toltec legend of the arrival of strangers
wearing cassocks. It is therefore necessary to ascertain if there
are sufficient reasons for placing any confidence in statements that
appear to be founded upon tradition, and whether the event that was
believed to have taken place could have been possible. The tradition
did not escape the attention of Washington Irving. In his “Life of
Columbus”[115] he states that “It was recorded in an ancient legend,
that at the time of the conquest of Spain and Portugal by the Moors,
when the inhabitants fled in every direction to escape from slavery,
seven bishops, followed by a great number of their people, took
shipping, and abandoned themselves to their fate on the high seas.
After tossing about for some time, they landed upon an unknown island
in the midst of the ocean. Here the bishops burnt the ships to prevent
the desertion of their followers, and founded seven cities.”[116]

In the principal maps published during the fifteenth century, before
the discovery of America, the island of Antilia was usually given a
position in the middle of the western Atlantic, south of the Azores.
In the chart of the geographer Toscanelli, which was sent to Columbus,
Antilia was placed in the direct track by sea from the Canary islands
to Cipango (Japan), the large and prosperous country supposed at that
time to be situated in the extreme west, near the eastern limits of
Asia. It is evident that Columbus firmly believed in the existence of
Antilia, for when he left the Canaries on his outward voyage, he shaped
his course for that island and steered due west for about sixteen
hundred miles.

Upon reaching the latitude and longitude where he expected to see
land, the admiral conferred with his captains, but as nothing had been
observed it was thought that the ships must have passed the island.
At sunset, the captain of the Pinta hailed the admiral and reported
that land was in sight to the south-west. The course of the ships was
accordingly altered towards that direction. On the next day it was
found that what had been seen was cloudland. The ships resumed their
course and proceeded until the landfall was made upon the island of

The belief in the existence of the legendary island was, however,
not then dispelled and it is remarkable, as a proof of the opinions
of geographers, that in the important map of the world by Ruysch,
published in 1508, in which were placed the latest discoveries in the
west; Antilia still retained its position.[117]

[Illustration: FROM RUYSCH’S MAP OF THE WORLD (1508).


In the early part of the sixteenth century, several expeditionary
fleets were fitted out and sailed across the seas towards the New
World. Many islands were seen, but Antilia was not found. Thus when it
became known that Yucatan had been discovered and that a cross placed
within a stone temple was worshipped by the Indians, and that other
crosses had been seen placed over graves, it was surmised that the
bishops must have finally reached that distant land.

Such an event may be thought to be improbable, but as, in consequence
of the trade-winds, it is not impossible, it is expedient to consider
in what manner it might have happened. It has to be assumed that the
legend, so far as it relates to Christian fugitives escaping from the
tyranny of Mahometan conquerors, may be considered as being within the
limits of reasonable historical inquiry. Men deliberately leaving
their own country to seek a place of refuge where they would be free to
establish their religion, would, before embarking upon unknown seas,
take with them supplies of provisions and water, and thus, by proper
precautions, secure themselves from the risk of starvation. It is also
probable that they were informed by the pilots or other navigators
acquainted with the adjacent shores, that there were islands situated
beyond the Mauritanian coasts within a distance not too great for them
to undertake the voyage with a fair prospect of reaching land.

In the eighth century the Canary Islands had not been discovered by
Europeans, but their position was known to the Arabs and Moors and
rumours concerning them and their proximity to the coast of Morocco
were doubtless familiar to the sea-faring men living near Cadiz. The
pilots would, therefore, have shaped a course for the Canaries. They
would have expected to reach those islands within eight or ten days.
But a slight error in their course would have taken the vessels into
the trade-winds and, in that case, they would have been driven across
the Atlantic in the direction of Florida, whose coasts might easily
have been reached in less than six weeks from the date of the departure
from Spain. It is also possible that they may have been chased by some
of the armed vessels which had conveyed the Saracens from Mauritania.

It is not, however, necessary to pursue this investigation to any
greater length. It is sufficiently clear that if the event, as recorded
by tradition, actually happened, there is no difficulty in accepting
the conclusion that several of the bishops and their companions may
have reached America in safety.[118] Thus the statements of the Indian
priests, that white strangers wearing beards and dressed in cassocks
had arrived from the East, would be confirmed.

Upon an examination of the laws that govern the direction of the
trade-winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, it is found that there
is a strong easterly wind continuously blowing across the Atlantic
towards Florida, Mexico and Yucatan. There is also a strong westerly
wind invariably blowing across the North Pacific, over the regions
between the fortieth and fiftieth parallels of latitude, from Japan
towards the north-west coast of North America. In consequence of this
prevailing wind several junks have been driven out of their course
and have reached the American seacoasts. In 1833 a junk was wrecked
near Vancouver island and several of the crew landed and were received
by the Indians. In the previous year a Japanese junk laden with fish
arrived at the Sandwich islands. She had been driven across the seas by
a violent storm which had caught her off Japan. Four of her men were
alive and they were taken to Honolulu.

Taking therefore into consideration the prevalence of trade-winds
blowing towards America, and the peculiar conditions of architectural
and astronomical intelligence possessed by the Mexican Indians, there
are certain inferences which may be accepted. It is not improbable that
men belonging to European, Moorish, or Asiatic races arrived in Central
America during a period between the sixth and eleventh centuries.
There is not sufficient evidence to determine in what manner this may
have happened; but after giving due weight to the statements of the
Indian priests and caciques, and the traditions of the circumstances
under which their knowledge was introduced into Mexico, together with
the adoption of monastic institutions, and the systems of education,
it is reasonable to conjecture that the comparative civilisation of
the Toltecs and Aztecs was originally caused by the influence and
instruction of strangers who came to their land in vessels which had
crossed the Atlantic.


  A Map to illustrate
  by Admiral Lindesay Brine.

  _London: Stanford’s Geog^l. Estab^t._]


  A Map of
  MEXICO &c.
  to accompany “Travels amongst American Indians”

  _London: Stanford’s Geog^l. Estab^t._]


  Abalá, village of, 360–362, 366, 370.

  Abenakis Indians, 33.

  Acapulco, 179.

  Adams, Mr. Charles Francis, 9, 28.

  _Adoratorio_, an Indian, 245, 246, 262.

  Agassiz, Professor, 12, 13, 23.

  Agua, volcano, 181, 182, 194, 196–200.

  Aguilar, 397.

  Aguinaga, brig, 372–374.

  Albatrosses in the South Pacific, 178.

  Alcaldes, the, at San Tomas, 212, 213.

  Algonquin tribe of Indians, 34, 111, 150, 153.

  Alligator totem, 85, 86.

  Alligators, 179, 320–322.

  Alumni, the, of Harvard, 25–28.

  Alvarado, Pedro de, 202, 218, 225–228, 235–237.

  Amatitlan, village of, 182.

  American Civil War, 9–11.

  American politics, 23.

  Annapolis, Naval Academy at, 6–8.

  Antilia, Island of, 417–419.

  Apache Indians, 122.

  Ara-po-gai-sik (Day-catcher), 122.

  Atitlan, volcano of, 206.

  Atwater, Mr., and the Circleville Inclosures, 79–84.

  Aztecs, the, 130, 172, 174, 385, 394, 404–406, 422:
    sacrifices of, 132, 224–226, 345:
    barbarous custom of, 396–398:
    obsidian knives used by, 186.

  Bachajon, village, of 267, 268, 273.

  Baird, Dr., 98.

  Baptismal customs, Yucatan Indians, 364–366.

  Barrancas (ravines), 205, 216.

  Bartlett, Professor, 7, 11.

  Bartram, Mr., 322.

  Basques, crew of, 372, 373.

  Bates, Mr., 321.

  Beaver dams, 36–40.

  Beech-tree, chief of the Oneidas tribe, 51.

  Bisons, herds of, 143.

  Boulders, on the Minnesota prairies, 126, 127:
    Sioux worship of, 169.

  Braddock, General, 134.

  Bridgman, Laura, 16–18.

  Burial customs; of the Dakotas, 173:
    of the Sacs and Foxes, 174:
    in Yucatan, 333, 334.

  Burial by the Mound Builders, manner, 61–63.

  Burial mounds in Illinois, 19:
    (_see also_ Ohio, &c.).

  Burial place of Sioux, 114.

  Cabarrus, M. de, 192.

  Cahokia earthworks, the, 105–108, 189, 380, 385.

  Californian Indians, 20.

  Cambridge, Indian collections at, 19–21:
    Commencement Day at, 27, 28.

  Campeachy, 328, 329:
    gulf of, 327.

  Cannibalism, 135, 323–325, 345.

  Cape San Lucas, 177.

  Cargadores, the, 293, 294.

  Carmen, Island of, 326–328.

  Carnival, an Indian, 269–272, 277.

  Carp, River, 36, 41.

  Carr, Professor Lucien, 383.

  Carrera, President, 183, 184, 190, 256.

  Carver, Captain, 119, 120.

  Casa de las Monjas at Uxmal, xiv, xv, 339–343, 347–358.

  Casa del Gobernador at Uxmal, 337–343, 347–358.

  Castillo, Don Manuel, 255.

  Catasaja, 319, 320.

  Catherwood, Mr., 294.

  Cayugas, tribe, 34, 151, 152, 155, 156, 158.

  Cedar Keys, settlement of, 375.

  Ceremonies of the Dakotas, 157, 158.

  Cerna, President Don Vincente, 191.

  Charnay, M. Desiré, xv, 44.

  Chase, Chief Justice, 23.

  Cherokee Indians, 384.

  Cheyenne Indians, 145.

  Chiapas, mounds in, 261, 277, 381.

  Chimaltenango, 200.

  Chilon, 269.

  Chippewas, Indians, 44, 47, 49, 111, 127, 131, 135, 150, 153, 173,

  Cholula, temple at, 410, 412.

  Chontal Indians, 220–224.

  Circleville, inclosures at, 79–84, 96–102.

  Civil War, troops in the American, 9–11.

  Clarke, Capt., of Cedar Keys, 375.

  Clavigero, 411.

  Clemens, Dr., and the Grave Creek Mound, 58–60.

  Coller, Dr., at Palenque, 138, 294–297, 301–303, 316–319.

  Columbus and the island of Antilia, 416–419, 421.

  Commencement Day at Cambridge, 27, 28.

  Comitan, town of, 253, 255.

  Comolapa, village of, 200, 201.

  Conceptionistas, Convent of the, 371, 372.

  Concord, shell heaps at, 21, 28, 29.

  Copan, 410, 411:
    idols at, 264.

  Copper mines in Michigan, 35, 43–51.

  Corbett, Mr., 192.

  Cordilleras, the, 204–205, 278.

  Cortes, 228, 314, 323–325, 397, 406.

  Cozumel, island of, 346:
    cross at, 414.

  Cruz, Serapio, Indian named, 183, 184, 191, 233.

  Cuba, 373.

  Cuoq, M., 150.

  Curing illness by steam, 174, 175.

  Cutler, Rev. Dr., 100.

  Dakota Indians, 127, 133, 145, 147–149, 150, 153, 154, 159:
    human sacrifices of the, 132–134, 171–173, 401:
    language of, 159, 160:
    and sun worship, 163, 164:
    and sickness, 164–165:
    and lightning, 166:
    and transmigration, 167–168:
    fasts of the, 168–169:
    and serpent worship, 170:
    burial customs of, 173, 175:
    curing illness by steam, 174–175:
    burial mound, 377.
    (_see also_ Sioux.)

  Damariscotta, shell mounds at, 27, 30–33, 376.

  Dance, Indian, at Chilon, 269–272.

  Dancing, Indians and, 404.

  Darwin’s coral theories, 13.

  Dauphin, the (Williams), 52, 53.

  Davis, Mr., 64.

  Dayton’s Bluff, 381.

  Debauchery of the Mexican Indians, 272, 403.

  Demons, Indian offerings to, 363, 364.

  Des Moines River, 138.

  Delaware Indians, 94, 134, 385.

  Dialect at Ocosingo, 266, 267.

  Dialects of the North American Indians, 151–154:
    of Guatemala Indians, 232.

  Diaz, Bernal, 197, 220, 223–227, 323–328, 331–333, 346, 396–398, 404.

  Digger Indians, 147, 148.

  Dighton, rock at, 33.

  Dowding, Captain Herbert, xv.

  Dupaix, Captain, 309.

  Earthworks in Ohio, ancient Indian, 54–103, 379–385.

  Emerson, Mr. Ralph Waldo, 22–26, 28, 29.

  Escalanta, Señor, 335.

  Esconauba, River, 36.

  Escuintla, town of, 181.

  Esquipulas, pilgrimage to, 186–188.

  Evans, chief Elder of the Shakers, 8, 9.

  Faribault, half-breed Indian, 117–119, 161, 164–169, 172, 173.

  Fasting of the Dakotas, 159, 160.

  Festival, Indian, at Jacaltenango, 243–245.

  Festival of San Caralampio, 255.

  Fire, Indian method of lighting a, 241, 261.

  Flathead Indians, 20.

  Florida, 102, 103:
    Professor Agassiz and, 12, 13:
    shell mounds in, 14, 21:
    rivers in, 322:
    coast of 374–377:
    Indians in, 376, 377.

  Forests; in Michigan, 41, 139, 140:
    near Palenque, 42, 138, 139:
    of Aracan, 140, 141:
    between San Pedro and Palenque, 282–284, 290–294, 303.

  Forster, Mr. J. H., 45, 46, 51.

  Foster, Mr. J. W., 137.

  Fort Ancient, on the Little Miami river, 87–96, 190, 202.

  Fort Du Quesne, 76, 77.

  Fort Hill, 92.

  Foxes, Indian tribe, 109, 174.

  Franciscan Missionaries in Yucatan, 364–366.

  Franklin, Sir John and Lady, 4.

  Fuegians similar to the Ute Indians, 148.

  Fuego, volcano, 181, 182, 196, 199, 200.

  Fuentes, the historian, 236, 237.

  Fuller, Margaret, 24.

  Gage, Thomas, 195.

  Gallatin, Mr. Albert, 130.

  Game in the Platte valley, 145.

  Garcia y Granados, Colonel, 183, 184.

  Gavarrete, Señor, 184–186.

  Glacial action near Ishpeming, 50.

  Godillo, Don Mariana, 255, 256.

  Goitre, Indians suffering with, 242.

  _Golden City_, ship, 176, 177, 180.

  Gomara, 415, 416.

  Grant, President, 5.

  Grave Creek Mound, 58–61.

  Great Britain, Daniel Webster on, 22.

  Great Salt Lake, the, 146.

  Great Star, human sacrifice to the 131–134.

  Grey, Judge, 27.

  Grinnell, Mr. Henry, 4.

  Grijalva, 346.

  Guatemala, city of, 182, 183:
    museum at, 184–187:
    cathedral in, 187:
    market place, 188:
    foreign residents in, 192.

  Guatimozin, Emperor, 224, 406:
    execution of, 324, 325.

  Gueguetenango, 233–237.

  Guerrero, Gonzalo, 397.

  Guicola, Padre Andres, 216, 230.

  Guides, Indian; Anastasio, 194, 231–233:
    Bito, 267, 269, 270:
    Carlos, 234, 235, 240, 241, 248–252:
    José, 289, 290:
    Lopez, 259–262, 267:
    Villafranca, 277, 278, 282–285.

  Gurney, Professor, 26.

  Hague, Mr., 192, 194.

  Hardy, M., 192.

  Harris, Mr., 8.

  Harvard, the Alumni of, 25.

  Haven, Mr., 98.

  Henry, Mr. Alexander, 7, 48, 135.

  Herbert, Baron, 176, 180, 191, 194.

  Hernandez, Padre, 211–214, 409, 415.

  Hieroglyphs in temples at Palenque, 307, 315, 389.

  Hildreth, Dr., and inclosures at Marietta, 70–75, 99.

  Hill, Mr. of S. Pauls’ city, 114.

  Hillard, Mr., 13.

  Hoar, Judge, 26, 27.

  Hockmeyer, Mr. and Mrs., 192.

  Hogs, and destruction of rattlesnakes, 144, 145.

  Holmes, Mr. Oliver Wendell, 26–28.

  Houghton, town of, 44, 45, 47, 50.

  Howe, Dr., 25:
    institution in Boston, 16–18:
    Mrs. Julia Ward, 22.

  How-wan-ni-yu (the Great Spirit), 156–158.

  Huitzopotli, 224.

  Human sacrifices: of the Pawnees, 131–134, 171–173:
    of the Dakotas, 171–173:
    of the Pipil Indians, 220–224:
    in Yucatan, 332, 333.

  Humboldt and the Toltecs, 395.

  Hunting grounds of Indians, the U.S. Government and, 122, 123.

  Hurons, tribe of Indians, 34, 112.

  Huts, Indian construction of, 286, 287.

  Idolatry of Indians, 403.

  Idols, Indian, 221–223:
    in Museum at Guatemala, 184–186:
    at Ocosingo, 263–265:
    in Yucatan, worship of, 346, 347.

  Illinois, burial mound in, 19.

  Illinois, Indians, 153.

  Inclosures, sacred; near Newark, 64–70:
    at Marietta, 70–76:
    at Circleville, 79–84, 96–102.

  Indian, battlefield, 49:
    baptismal customs, 364–366:
    carnival, an, 269–272, 277:
    ceremonies in Yucatan, 362–365:
    cemetery, 84:
    civilisation in Yucatan, 406–8:
    collections at Cambridge, 19–21:
    construction of huts, 286–287:
    debauchery, 272:
    dialects, 232:
    domestic habits, 239–241:
    earthworks in Ohio, 54–103:
    education, Judge Williams and, 109–111:
    farmhouse, an, 209, 210:
    festival, an, 243–245:
    idols, 184–186, 221, 245–6:
    inclosures, _see_ Circleville, Marietta, Newark, &c.:
    marriage custom in the Sierra Madre, 247:
    mines round Lake Superior, 35, 36:
    officials at Abalá, 361, 362:
    mounds in Ohio, 54–103:
    pilgrims, 186–188:
    population in North America, 153:
    reservations in North America, 34:
    rebellion in Guatemala, 183, 191:
    religious devotion, 240, 241,
      _see also_ Yucatan:
    skulls, 19, 20:
    statue at Ocosingo, 264:
    steam bath, 279:
    traditions, Ohio earthworks, 94–103:
    warfare, 112:
    war customs, 134–5:
    well, an, 370.

  Indians, diversity of languages, 150–154:
    hunting grounds of, the U S. Government and, 122, 123:
    shell heaps of, 14, 21, 28–33.

  Indians; _see_ Abenakis, Algonquins, Apaches, Californian, Cheyennes,
    Chippewas, Chontal, Dakotas, Delaware, Flathead, Florida, Foxes,
    Hurons, Iroquois, Kachiquels, Lacandon, Maya, Mohawks, Natchez,
    Oaxaca, Oneidas, Onondagas, Pawnees, Pipiles, Quichés, Sacs,
    Senecas, Shawnees, Shoshones, Sioux, Tzendales, Utes, Winnebagoes,
    Yucatan, Zambos, &c., &c.

  Insurrections of Indians in Guatemala, 183–4, 191.

  Iowa, prairies in, 124–127, 129, 137.

  Iron mines in Michigan, 35, 45–51.

  Iroquois, Indians, 34, 77, 111, 112, 134, 150, 159:
    battle with the Chippewas, 49:
    burial mounds of the, 63, 376:
    traditions and customs of, 151–155:
    the Grand River, 155, 156.

  Ishpeming, village of, 36, 40, 50, 140.

  Itzqueye, idol of, 221–223.

  Izamal, 393.

  Jacaltenango, 235, 243–249, 369, 402.

  James, Mr. William D., xiv, 131.

  Jesuit Mission at Sault St. Marie, 48.

  Jonuta, 322, 326.

  Jotána, 260.

  Juarez, President, 256–258.

  Juarros, the historian, 226, 386, 387, 390, 410.

  Kachiquels Indians, 202, 203, 205, 206, 235–237, 401.

  Kee-wai-wona Bay, 48, 49.

  Kue (altar) at Yucatan, 330–334.

  La Antigua Guatemala, 194, 195.

  Lacandon Indians, 266, 319.

  Ladinos, the, 179, 271, 295, 335.

  Laguna de Terminos, 281.

  Lake Amatitlan, 195.

  Lake Atitlan, 181, 206, 209.

  Lake Ontario, mound near, 60.

  Lake Pepin, 113.

  Lake Simcoe, 139.

  Lake Superior, 48, 112:
    ancient Indian mines round, 35, 36.

  La Laguna de Cuyutlan, 178, 326, 328.

  Landa, Bishop, work on Yucatan, 343–346, 364, 378, 392, 393, 405, 407.

  Languages, diversity of, among Indians, 150–154.

  La Oracion, a prayer in Guatemala, 238, 239.

  Lapidge, Captain, 176, 179, 180.

  Las Casas, Bishop, iii, iv, 247, 273–276, 378, 403, 408, 409, 414.

  Las Godinas, 205, 206.

  La Vieja Guatemala, 196, 199, 200.

  Lenton, 252.

  Licignano, Duke de, 192, 193.

  Licking Creek, 64, 70.

  Little Miami River, the, 87.

  Lizana, Father, 394.

  Locke, Professor, 87, 92.

  Longfellow, Mr., 25, 26.

  Lowell, Mr., J. R., 26–28.

  Macal, Presbitero Fernando, 270, 277, 285, 381.

  Madoc, Prince, 96.

  Maguey (aloe), 272, 273.

  Maine, shell mounds in, 28–33.

  Mams tribe, 234–237, 244, 245, 402.

  Mandans, the, 95.

  Mankato, 120, 138.

  Manzanillo, 178.

  Marietta, mounds at, 57, 58:
    inclosures at, 70–76, 99–101.

  Marimba (instrument), 244.

  Maoris; curing illness by steam, 175:
    method of cooking, 326.

  Marquette in Michigan, 35.

  Martinez, Padre, 195.

  Masagua, village, 181.

  Maudslay, Mr., 357.

  Maximilian, Emperor, execution of, 257–258.

  Maya race of Indians, 281, 336, 405.

  Mechanics, a triumph of, 26, 27,

  Medicine man, the, 164, 165.

  Mendota, settlement of, 116, 118, 120, 169.

  Merida, 371, 392, 393.

  Mestizos, the, 179.

  Metternich, Prince, 14.

  Mexican antiquities at Cambridge, 20.

  Miamisburgh mound, 56–59.

  Michigan, beavers in, 36–40:
    ancient mining pits in, 42–51:
    early surveys of, 139, 140.

  Michol River, 291, 297.

  Micla, village of, 220–223.

  Military Academy at West Point, 7, 8.

  Mines in Michigan, ancient Indian, 35, 36, 42–51.

  Minnesota, prairies in, 124–127.

  Mississippi River, 108, 109:
    falls of, 119.

  Missouri River, 108, 109.

  Mitla, ruins of, 357.

  Mixco, ancient mounds near, 189–191, 194, 385.

  Mohawks, tribe, 34, 151, 157.

  Monastery at Palenque, 297–302, 307–317.

  Monks Mound, 106.

  Montalban, Doña Aña de, 207.

  Montezuma, 411.

  Morgan, Mr. Lewis, 103, 159.

  Mormons, the, 111, 112.

  Mounds and earthworks of Indians in Ohio, 54–103, 379–385:
    near Mixco, 189–191, 194, 385.

  Mounds near St. Paul, 114, 115:
    near Lake Ontario, 60,
    _see_ Mixco, Palenque, &c.

  Mourning customs of the Sioux, 165, 166.

  Múna, 360.

  Murray, Hon. C. A., 144.

  Muskinghum River, 70.

  Natchez Indians, 161, 380.

  Nauvoo, 111.

  Naval Academy at Annapolis, 6–8.

  Naval power, the Atlantic seaboard, and, 30, 31.

  Nebraska, 129, 130:
    plains in, 137.

  Negroes in the Southern States, 5:
    in the American Civil War, 11.

  Newark, town of, 61:
    inclosures at, 64–70, 96–103.

  New Zealanders, burial custom of, 175.

  Nightingale, a, at Palenque, 301, 303.

  Nopá river, 291.

  North American Indians, _see_ Indians.

  Norwood, Dr. Joseph, 141.

  Oaxaca Indians, 292.

  Obsidian knives used by Aztecs, 186.

  Ocosingo, 259, 263–267, 273.

  Ogallalas, tribe of Sioux, 122, 123.

  Ohio, ancient Indian mounds and earthworks in 54–103, 384, 385.

  Oliphant, Mr. Laurence, 9.

  Omaha, prison at, 163.

  Oneidas tribe, 34, 151, 155:
    reservation of the, 51–53.

  Onondagas, tribe, 34, 151.

  Ontonagon, town of, 44, 46, 48.

  Orchids in Guatemala, 210, 211.

  Ortiz, Don Pepe, 288–294.

  Ottawa Indians, 153.

  Pacaya, volcano, 181, 182.

  Palacio, Don Garcia de, 219–223.

  Palenque, ruins and temples at, 2, 193, 303–307, 350–358, 389,
    391–395, 406, 413:
    arrival at, 294–296:
    “Palace” or monastery at, 297–302, 307–317, 406:
    square tower in 300, 301, 312–314:
    mounds about, 318–320.

  Palisada, 326:
    river, 322.

  Panajachel, 207, 208.

  Parker, Mr. Frank, 13, 15.

  Parkman, Mr. Francis B., 158, 159.

  Patinamit, Indian ruins of, 202, 203.

  Pawnees, the, 109, 129–136, 147, 163–165, 344.

  Pedro, Padre, 207–209.

  Pelicans, flocks of, 178.

  Penance of Indians, 161–163.

  Petz, Rear-Admiral Baron, 176.

  Pilgrimage to Esquipulas, 186–188.

  Pipiles, Indians, 220–224.

  Pintos, the, 179, 180.

  Pitcher, General, 7, 8.

  Platte, valley of the, 141, 143, 145.

  Portsmouth Ohio, Indian entrenchments at, 57, 58.

  Pozole, substance called, 292, 293.

  Prairie-dog villages, 141–143.

  Prairie fires, 125, 126, 136, 137.

  Prairies and glacial action, 12.

  Prairies in Minnesota and Iowa, 124–129.

  Prescott, Mr., 171.

  Pyramid of the Dwarf, Uxmal, xv, 340–342, 345.

  Pyramidal altars, Yucatan, 330–334.

  Quezaltenango, 206, 208, 217, 237.

  Quetzalcoatl, god named, 221–223, 310, 348, 391, 409, 412, 413, 414.

  Quetzales (birds), 220, 305.

  Quichés Indians, 202, 206, 209, 214–5, 230, 387, 389–391, 400–402:
    religious ceremonies of the, 212, 213, 219:
    chiefs, 227–8:
    traditions of, 235–7,
    _see also_ Utatlan.

  Quirigua, idols at, 184:
    ruins of, 186, 410.

  Rae, Dr., 141.

  Rain, a fall of, 358, 359.

  Rain-makers, 164, 359.

  Ransonnet, Baron, 177, 179, 180.

  Rattlesnake totem, xiv, 398, 399.

  Rattlesnakes, 142, 170.

  Rau, Professor Charles, xv., 316, 317, 414.

  Red Cloud, a chief of the Sioux, 123.

  Religious ceremonies in Yucatan, 362–365, 368–369.

  Religious devotion of Indians, 240–241.

  Reservation lands for Indians, 34.

  Rigdon (Mormon preacher), 111, 112.

  Rio, Captain Antonio del, 300, 308, 309.

  Robles, Captain, 249, 252.

  Robles, Padre Juan C., 243–249.

  Rodriguez, Padre, 201.

  Rogers, Commodore, 13.

  Romero, Señor Matias, 257.

  Roubaud, Father, 135.

  Ruins, of Uxmal, 339–358, 389, 394, 395.
    _see also_ Palenque, &c.

  Sacrificial customs at Uxmal, 343–346.

  Sacrificial rites of the Aztecs, 224–226.

  Sacrifices of the Indians to Volcanoes and Lakes, 208.
    _see also_ Human.

  Sacrificios, island of, 332.

  Sacs tribe of Indians, 109, 174.

  St. Andres, 250.

  St. Clair, Governor, 100.

  St. Louis, 108.

  St. Martin, village of, 241.

  St. Paul, city of, 113–115

  Salorzano, Don Remigio, 263–265, 267.

  Salt Lake City, 112, 146.

  San Caralampio, festival of, 255.

  San Carlos, 261.

  San Domingo de Palenque. _see_ Palenque.

  San José de Guatemala, 180.

  San Pedro, 284–288:
    Indians, 285–288:
    River, 289.

  Santa Cruz del Quiché, 216, 230.

  Santorin, island of, 198.

  San Tomas, 209, 211, 215.

  Sault Ste. Marie, Jesuit Mission at, 48.

  Scherzer, Dr., 176, 180, 183, 185.

  Scioto River, 76, 77.

  Seal rocks, the, 177.

  Senecas tribe, 34, 151, 152, 155, 157.

  Sequechul, Indian named, 227.

  Serpent totems, xiv, 350, 351.

  Serpent worship, 398, 399:
    by the Dakotas, 170.

  Seward, Mr., 257–258.

  Shakers, the, 8, 9.

  Shawnee tribe, 94, 153:
    burial mounds of, 78.

  Shell heaps at Concord, 21.

  Shell mounds in Florida, 14, 375, 377:
    in Maine, 28–33.

  Shoshone Indians, 146–148, 174.

  Sierra Madre mountains, 238, 246, 247.

  Sierras between San Pedro & Palenque, 282–284, 290–294.

  Sinigiglia, 253.

  Sioux Indians, 131:
    methods of burial with, 63:
    an encampment of, 114–116:
    worship of spirit rocks, 117–119, 169:
    the Ogallalas tribe of, 122, 123:
    Red Cloud, chief of the, 123:
    and sun worship, 162, 163:
    medicine man, 164, 165:
    mourning customs, 165–166:
    and lightning, 166:
    and transmigration, 167–168:
    human sacrifice of, 172, 173.

  Sioux War, the, 120–122.

  Sisal, port of, 372, 373.

  Sissiton tribe of Sioux, 172, 173.

  Skulls of Indians, 19, 20.

  Smith, Mr. James, 134.

  Smith, Joseph, founder of Mormonism, 111, 112.

  Snowstorm, a violent, 128, 129.

  Socoleo, fortress of, 235–237.

  Solares, General, 191.

  Sololá, 209.

  Southern States of America, 5.

  Spain and Utatlan, 226–231:
    and employment of natives as carriers in Mexico, 275.

  Spaniards kept in cages by Aztecs, 397.

  Spirit rocks, Sioux worship of, 117–119, 169.

  Squier, Mr. E. G., 19, 64, 159, 221.

  Stansfield, Captain, 142.

  Steam bath, an Indian, 279.

  Stephens, Mr., 2, 294, 298, 307, 309, 341.

  Stone at Dighton, 33.

  Stone hammers, 44.

  _Stonewall_, S.S., 104, 105.

  Succession of forest trees, 139, 140.

  Sumner, Mr., 26.

  Sun worship, by the Pawnees, 133:
    by all the Indian tribes in Mississippi valley, 161–164, 261–262.

  Sun worshippers, the Natchez tribe, 381.

  Superstition, the Pawnees and, 134:
    the Dakotas and, 170:
    Yucatan Indians and, 366–369.

  Tacara, volcano, 246.

  Tallegewi, the, 94, 385.

  Tampa, 374, 377, 379.

  “Temblor,” a, 246.

  Téotihuacan, pyramids of, 395.

  Temples at Izamal, 393:
    at Uxmal, 339–358, 394, 395.

  Temple of the Cross, at Palenque, 304–306.

  Tepan Guatemala, 202, 206.

  Terran, Padre Juan Batista de, 233.

  Thomas, Professor Cyrus, 68, 69, 382–384.

  Thornton, Mr., 5.

  Ticknor, Mr., 13, 14, 22, 25.

  Tihoo, 392, 393.

  Tlacupa, King of, 325.

  Todos Santos, 238–241.

  Toltecs, 391, 395, 398, 400–404, 422,
    _see also_ Aztecs, Tallegwi.

  Totems of Indians, 84–86:
    of the Toltecs, 398, 399.

  Trade-winds in the Atlantic, 419, 420:
    in the Pacific, 421–422.

  Traditions, Indian, _re_ Ohio earthworks, 94–103.

  Trappists, the, at Cahokia, 106.

  Trees, marking forest, as a guide, 42, 43:
    Professor Locke and age of, 92, 93:
    absence of, on the Iowa plains, 137–138:
    succession of forest, 139, 140.

  Troops in the American Civil War, 9–11.

  Tumbalá, 278–282.

  Tuscaroras tribe, 34, 151, 155.

  Tzendales, Indians, 270, 271, 276, 281, 405.

  Tzibalché, 335, 336, 363.

  Usamacinta River, 318–323, 326.

  Utatlan, ruins of, 217–220, 312, 401:
    conquest of, 226–9.

  Utes, the, or Digger Indians, 147, 148.

  Uxmal, 336–338:
    ruins of, 339–358, 389:
    antiquity of temple at, 394, 395.

  Vadillo, Señor, 320.

  Valdivia, 397.

  Vestal the (frigate), 374, 421.

  Viatoro, Padre, 202, 204.

  Vogdes, General, 10, 11.

  Volcanoes in the American Continent, 180, 181, 247,
    _see also_ Agua, Atitlan, Fuego, Pacaya, Tacara.

  Votan, chief, 412, 413.

  Washington, 5.

  Webster, Daniel, 22.

  Well, an Indian, 370.

  Welsh speaking Indians, 95, 96.

  West Point, Military Academy at, 7, 8.

  Whittlesea, Mr., 98.

  Williams, Judge, 174:
    and Indian education, 109–112.

  Williams (the Dauphin), 52, 53.

  Wilson, Professor Daniel, 60, 62, 159.

  Winnebagoes, the, 119–123.

  Winona, an Indian maiden, 113.

  Woolner, Mr., 357.

  Wyman, Professor Jeffries, 14, 19–21, 26, 28.

  Wynne, Dr., 192.

  Yajalon, 270, 273, 277.

  Yaxcabá, curate of, 366–369.

  Young, Brigham, 112, 146.

  Yucatan, pyramidal altars at, 330–334:
    Indians in, 336.

  Yucatan, Bishop Landa’s work on, 343–346:
    worship of idols in, 346–347:
    religious ceremonies in, 362–365:
    superstition of Indians, 366–368:
    ruins in, 394:
    education in, 407–408:
    discovery of, 415.

  Yule, Colonel, 140.

  Zambos Indians, 181.

  Zurita, Alonzo de, 227.

                   •       •       •       •       •
            Farmer & Sons, Printers, 295, Edgware Road, W.

|                                                                      |
|                             FOOTNOTES:                               |
|                                                                      |
| [1] Many of those who were interested in Arctic research and the     |
|   then unknown fate of Sir John Franklin, will remember the meetings |
|   at Lady Franklin’s house at Kensington Gore, and how greatly Mr.   |
|   Grinnell’s exertions and enterprise were appreciated.              |
|                                                                      |
| [2] Mr. Laurence Oliphant, whom I had known in other parts of the    |
|   world, was then living with his community upon the Southern shores |
|   of Lake Erie.                                                      |
|                                                                      |
|   The last time that I saw him was at a Levée, held in St. James’s   |
|   extreme Palace, in the year 1880, under circumstances which were   |
|   in contrast with his daily life of labour at Brocton. I understood |
|   that he had come over to England to arrange some business matters  |
|   connected with the affairs of his society.                         |
|                                                                      |
|   America is the home of many groups of people endeavouring to carry |
|   out their various schemes of communistic life. I visited several   |
|   of their settlements and found that their methods of management    |
|   were very different. The prosperity and the harmony of the men and |
|   women, evidently depended upon their faith in their own strange    |
|   forms of religion. It was also observable that, in all cases, the  |
|   leaders were men of dogmatic character.                            |
|                                                                      |
| [3] The question respecting the proportion of foreigners in the      |
|   armies of the North came under consideration.                      |
|                                                                      |
|   It had been supposed that a large number of the troops consisted   |
|   of men of foreign nationalities, but an investigation that had     |
|   been made into the subject has proved that the alien strength of   |
|   the army had been the subject of much exaggeration.                |
|                                                                      |
|   Upon the examination of the numbers it will be seen, however,      |
|   that the composition of the forces deserves attention. Their       |
|   classification was as follows:—                                    |
|                                                                      |
|     British Americans (volunteers from                               |
|       British possessions in N. America)      53,500                 |
|     English                                   45,000                 |
|     Irish                                    144,000                 |
|     German                                   176,800                 |
|     Men of unknown nationality                74,900                 |
|     Negroes (about)                          140,000                 |
|     National Americans                     1,523,000                 |
|                                                                      |
|   National Americans include all emigrants who in consequence of     |
|   having been five years in the States are entitled to become        |
|   citizens.                                                          |
|                                                                      |
| [4] Mr. Ticknor preceded Mr. Longfellow at Harvard University as     |
|   Professor of Modern Languages. As an author he is well known by    |
|   his History of Spanish Literature, and the biography of his friend |
|   Mr. Prescott, the historian.                                       |
|                                                                      |
| [5] Then Professor of Anatomy in Harvard College, and Curator of     |
|   the Peabody Museum of Archæology and Ethnology.                    |
|                                                                      |
| [6] Laura Bridgman was born in 1829 so, at the time that I saw her,  |
|   she was forty years old.                                           |
|                                                                      |
| [7] In one of the many brilliant speeches made by this orator, the   |
|   following graceful allusion to the mother-country may be mentioned |
|   here. “Great Britain,” he said, “had dotted over the whole surface |
|   of the globe with her possessions and military posts, whose        |
|   morning drum-beat, following the sun and keeping company with the  |
|   hours, circles the earth daily with one continuous and unbroken    |
|   strain of martial music.”                                          |
|                                                                      |
| [8] The geographical conditions of the Atlantic seaboard are so     |
|   favourable for the development of naval power, that it is evident  |
|   that the United States have every possible natural advantage       |
|   placed at their disposal to enable them to become a great maritime |
|   nation.                                                            |
|                                                                      |
|   There is, however, a difficulty for them to surmount. Serviceable  |
|   American-born men do not readily volunteer to join their ships     |
|   of war, and, consequently, the crews are largely composed of       |
|   foreigners, chiefly of English and German origin. The reasons      |
|   for this disinclination on the part of the Americans to accept     |
|   sea service seem to be caused by the fact that the prospects       |
|   for success in life in other directions are sufficiently good      |
|   to prevent them from seeking an employment in which they would     |
|   be subject to discipline and have to sacrifice their habits of     |
|   independence. It will probably be found expedient, ultimately, to  |
|   adopt a system of entry and training for seamen similar to that    |
|   which has been found to succeed in England. The systems followed   |
|   on the European continent, and which are based upon conscription,  |
|   could find no place amongst a people with whom all service must be |
|   essentially voluntary.                                             |
|                                                                      |
|   If the difficulties with regard to men can be overcome, the naval  |
|   strength of the United States may be as great as Congress may      |
|   deem desirable, for, with respect to the capacities of harbours    |
|   and dockyards and the means available for the construction and     |
|   armaments of ships, there is practically no limit to the power of  |
|   fitting out and maintaining large fleets.                          |
|                                                                      |
| [9] In the summer of 1870 I went to the village of Dighton to look   |
|   at the inscribed stone in the river near that place.               |
|                                                                      |
|   Upon my arrival there it was high water and the rock was covered.  |
|   The next day, when the tide was low, I hired a boat, pulled down   |
|   the stream and stopped by its side, which was then fully exposed,  |
|   and examined it with care. It was a boulder formed of hard close   |
|   grained granite.                                                   |
|                                                                      |
|   As the inscription was originally supposed by Danish and other     |
|   antiquarians to have had some relation with the history of the     |
|   arrival of the Northmen upon that coast, I traced the figures and  |
|   rude characters with particular attention.                         |
|                                                                      |
|   I have seen rolls of birch bark scratched in the same manner by    |
|   Chippewas, for the purpose of giving information of the movements  |
|   of their hunting parties, and I think that the figures on the      |
|   Dighton stone were meant to represent similar events. As, however, |
|   the inscriptions are deeply cut, and as it must have taken some    |
|   considerable time to execute them, it may be granted that the      |
|   Indians wished to leave, near the mouth of the river, a permanent  |
|   record which would be intelligible to others.                      |
|                                                                      |
|   At many parts of this seaboard the New England tribes, as at      |
|   Damariscotta visited the tidal waters to obtain food.              |
|                                                                      |
| [10] When afterwards passing through the forests near Palenque,      |
|   in Central America, I observed that whenever the Indians found     |
|   it necessary to quit the track, they immediately broke off small   |
|   branches from the trees, and placed them on the ground over which  |
|   they had trodden. As an additional precaution, they also made      |
|   marks on the trunks with their hatchets. It was thus easy for      |
|   them to get back to the place from which they had started. It is   |
|   however evident, that this plan is only useful in those cases      |
|   where the path is intentionally left. When the path is             |
|   accidentally missed, it is of the greatest importance not to lose  |
|   touch with the spot where you happen to be when your error is      |
|   discovered. This position will necessarily be within a short       |
|   distance by a straight line from the place from which you          |
|   wandered. It has been ascertained that it is the tendency of men   |
|   who have lost their way to unconsciously move in a circle, and     |
|   thus much time may be wasted in trusting to personal judgment. It  |
|   is a good plan to make a series of short tentative marches in      |
|   different directions, in straight lines from your starting point,  |
|   which should be considered as a central position to which you can  |
|   always return if necessary. Such straight lines of direction can   |
|   be made by marking trees, and keeping them as much as possible in  |
|   line with each other. In dense forests a watch is not serviceable, |
|   as the sun does not penetrate them, and its bearing cannot be      |
|   seen. A compass is useful to a certain extent, but the constant    |
|   deviations that have to be made to avoid obstacles, tend to make   |
|   the line of progress a succession of broken curves, and it becomes |
|   unsafe to rely upon the accuracy of the direction. Explorers have  |
|   found it desirable to send men occasionally to the tops of the     |
|   tallest trees to observe the nature of the country that is being   |
|   traversed. When Cortes made his celebrated expedition from Mexico  |
|   to Honduras, he maintained a straight march by the use of a ship’s |
|   compass, but in that case there was no difficulty, for the         |
|   direction was followed by cutting down the trees that were in the  |
|   line of the advance.                                               |
|                                                                      |
| [11] See “Report on the Geology and Topography of a portion of the   |
|   Lake Superior Land District,” by I. W. Foster and I. D. Whitney.   |
|   Washington, 1850.                                                  |
|                                                                      |
| [12] The Jesuit Mission that was placed at Sault Ste. Marie, at      |
|   the entrance of Lake Superior was, during the seventeenth and      |
|   eighteenth centuries, one of the most important and influential    |
|   of the missionary establishments in North America. Many of the     |
|   Fathers who were attached to it had received a good mathematical   |
|   education and were capable of making accurate geographical         |
|   surveys. An excellent plan of Lake Superior and its islands was    |
|   made by them in 1670, and the coast lines and bays were traced     |
|   over a distance exceeding fifteen hundred miles. Amongst the       |
|   distinguished men who worked at the mission were the Fathers       |
|   Jogues, Allouez, Mesnard (who lost his way and perished in the     |
|   forest when travelling across the Kee-wai-wona promontory),        |
|   Dablon, and the well-known and devoted missionary, Jacques         |
|   Marquette.                                                         |
|                                                                      |
| [13] At Marietta, there still exists an ancient Indian mound or      |
|   tumulus, about thirty feet high. It is situated near the           |
|   south-east limits of the inclosures. When I saw it, it was under   |
|   the care of the local authorities.                                 |
|                                                                      |
| [14] Morton’s Crania Americana, pp. 221.                             |
|                                                                      |
| [15] It is known that a communication between the south-western      |
|   extremity of Lake Superior and the Mississippi Valley, existed     |
|   from an early time. When I was at Toronto, Professor Daniel        |
|   Wilson, to whom I was indebted for much information upon subjects  |
|   relating to American archæology, told me that it had been          |
|   ascertained that the copper found in these mounds, was of the same |
|   character as that in the Lake Superior Mines: so that the question |
|   of its origin was practically settled. It thus seems probable that |
|   some of the small lumps of pure copper found in the forests and on |
|   the shores of the lake, near the Kee-wai-wona promontory, were     |
|   brought into Ohio.                                                 |
|                                                                      |
|   A mound that was opened near Lake Ontario, and whose contents I    |
|   examined, was stated to have been twelve feet high. Within it were |
|   about twenty skeletons, some coarse pottery, a number of arrow     |
|   heads made of a hard flinty stone and several flat rectangular     |
|   stones, pierced with one or two holes, which had been used as      |
|   breast ornaments, possibly denoting a certain rank. There were     |
|   also stone gouges, some stone axes and many fragments of charred   |
|   wood. This was probably an Iroquois grave.                         |
|                                                                      |
| [16] In the valley of the Mississippi, especially in the northern    |
|   part which had been occupied by the Dakotas, I afterwards saw many |
|   burial mounds, which, with the exception of the unusually great    |
|   mounds near Miamisburgh and Wheeling, resembled in all respects    |
|   those in Ohio. The methods of burial with the Sioux were evidently |
|   similar to those of the Mound Builders, with respect to the custom |
|   of conveying skeletons from considerable distances for the purpose |
|   of placing them together in one burying heap.                      |
|                                                                      |
|   In several of the ancient burial mounds in Ohio, thin flat plates  |
|   or slabs of mica are placed with the skeletons. This shining and   |
|   silvery looking mineral appears to have been greatly valued by     |
|   Indians. When I was on the coast of California, I happened to      |
|   be present when a shell bank was cut open and a section of it      |
|   examined. There was found, piled within it, a confused heap of     |
|   skulls and shells, together with a larger quantity of rough pieces |
|   of mica. It is remarkable that the use of mica as an ornament      |
|   should have been prevalent over such a wide geographical area      |
|   amongst tribes dwelling so far apart.                              |
|                                                                      |
| [17] I have seen a re-survey of the Newark inclosures made on        |
|   behalf of the Smithsonian Institution, under the direction of      |
|   Professor Cyrus Thomas. The results of this survey are very        |
|   useful. The measurements have evidently been taken with much care. |
|   With respect to the Octagon, Professor Thomas observes that, “The  |
|   angles at the crossings of the diagonals and diameters at the      |
|   centre O, are so nearly right angles as to be worthy of notice in  |
|   this connection. For instance, the angles at the crossings of the  |
|   diagonals BF and DH, differ but 10´ from true right angles, while  |
|   those at the crossing of the diameters AE and CG differ but 2´.”   |
|                                                                      |
|   As regards the Square he states, that, “This inclosure varies but  |
|   slightly from a true square, the course of the opposite sides in   |
|   one case differing but 31´, and the other but 6´. The greatest     |
|   variation at the corners from a true right angle is 57´.”          |
|                                                                      |
|   The large Circle D is said to have a difference of diameters of    |
|   twenty-six feet, these being respectively 1189 feet and 1163 feet. |
|                                                                      |
|   The Observatory Circle, which is the inclosure connected with the  |
|   Octagon, was found to have been made with remarkable correctness.  |
|   “The widest divergence between the line of the survey and the      |
|   circumference of the true circle is four feet. It is therefore     |
|   evident that the inclosure approaches in form very nearly an       |
|   absolute circle.”                                                  |
|                                                                      |
|   Professor Thomas also states with reference to the Observatory     |
|   Circle, that the radius is almost an exact multiple of the         |
|   surveyor’s chain.                                                  |
|                                                                      |
|   The geometrical accuracy of the lines of embankments and of the    |
|   inclosed areas in earthworks of such great dimensions, covering    |
|   such large spaces of ground, is not the least strange fact         |
|   concerning these works.                                            |
|                                                                      |
| [18] Archæologia Americana, Vol. I. The plan of the Marietta         |
|   Inclosures is a reduction of a part of the survey made in 1837     |
|   by Mr. Charles Whittlesea, and published by the Smithsonian        |
|   Institution in 1848.                                               |
|                                                                      |
| [19] Fort Du Quesne was built about the year 1752. It was            |
|   situated near the spot where is now the town of Pittsburgh. In     |
|   1731 the Indians who then occupied the lands near Marietta formed  |
|   an alliance with the French, and obtained their assistance in      |
|   protecting them from the attacks of hostile tribes. These were     |
|   probably the Iroquois, who at that period had made a treaty with   |
|   the English, and were their allies during the wars against the     |
|   French in Canada and this part of North America.                   |
|                                                                      |
| [20] Archæologia Americana, Vol. I.                                  |
|                                                                      |
| [21] See Plan.                                                       |
|                                                                      |
| [22] Upon an examination of the map it will be seen that the         |
|   Serpent is placed in the territory west of the Scioto, and that    |
|   the Alligator is east of that river.                               |
|                                                                      |
|   The mouth of the serpent is described as being opened wide. This   |
|   peculiarity is observable with the serpent carved upon the walls   |
|   of the Casa de las Monjas at Uxmal.                                |
|                                                                      |
| [23] The valley below the Alligator is in the possession of a race   |
|   of Welsh colonists who emigrated from Wales about the year 1802.   |
|   At that time they did not speak English, and for many years        |
|   refrained from learning that language.                             |
|                                                                      |
|   The church services are held in their town of Granville.           |
|                                                                      |
|   These colonists were prosperous and contented. The majority of     |
|   them bore the names of Griffith, Price, Lewis, and others which    |
|   are usual in the seaboard counties of Wales.                       |
|                                                                      |
|   The adjacent high lands are called the Welsh hills.                |
|                                                                      |
| [24] “Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley,” pp. 19.          |
|                                                                      |
| [25] Second Annual Report of the Geological Survey of the State of   |
|   Ohio, 1838, pp. 269.                                               |
|                                                                      |
| [26] The earthworks thrown up between Gallipoli and the Gulf of      |
|   Saros during the Crimean war in 1854–1855 had the appearance of    |
|   considerable antiquity when I saw them nearly a quarter of a       |
|   century afterwards in 1878.                                        |
|                                                                      |
| [27] According to Hakluyt, Madoc “prepared certaine ships with       |
|   men and munition, and sought adventures by seas; sailing West and  |
|   leaving the coast of Ireland so farre North, that he came vnto a   |
|   land vnknowen, where he saw many strange things.                   |
|                                                                      |
|   Of the voyage and returne of this Madoc there be many fables       |
|   fained, as the common people do vse in distance of place and       |
|   length of time, rather to augment than to diminish: but sure it is |
|   there he was.... This Madoc arriving in that Westerne countrey,    |
|   vnto the which he came in the yere 1170, left most of his people   |
|   there, and returning backe for more of his owne nation,            |
|   acquaintance and friends to inhabit that faire and large countrey, |
|   went thither again with ten sailes, as I find noted by Gutyn Owen. |
|                                                                      |
|   I am of opinion that the land whereunto he came was some part of   |
|   the West Indies.”                                                  |
|                                                                      |
|                 Hakluyt’s Voyages, vol. iii, p. 21.                  |
|                                                                      |
| [28] When examining the inclosures near Newark, I had with me        |
|   the plan of the survey of Mr. Atwater, published in 1820 in the    |
|   1st Volume of the Archæologia Americana. The plan pp. 66 is, in    |
|   its proportions, a reduction that I made of the survey of Mr.      |
|   Whittlesea, but the inclosures are drawn according to the plan of  |
|   Mr. Atwater.                                                       |
|                                                                      |
|   The survey of Mr. Whittlesea is given at pp. 67 “Ancient Monuments |
|   of the Mississippi Valley.” Some of the smaller earthworks and     |
|   parallels no longer exist, having been probably removed by the     |
|   plough.                                                            |
|                                                                      |
|   With respect to the subject of Archæology in North America, I have |
|   to thank Dr. Baird, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution,  |
|   for having placed in my hands the valuable and impartial work      |
|   written by Mr. Haven.                                              |
|                                                                      |
| [29] See the Journal of Mr. Thaddeus Harris, pp. 54, published in    |
|   Boston in 1805.                                                    |
|                                                                      |
| [30] Florida was discovered in 1512 by Ponce de Leon, the aged       |
|   governor of Porto Rico, who was then seeking for the Fountain of   |
|   Youth, which, according to the statements of the historian of the  |
|   voyage, was believed to have the power to rejuvenate old men, and  |
|   restore to them the vigour of early manhood.                       |
|                                                                      |
|   An expedition undertaken a few years later, in 1528, by Pamphilo   |
|   de Narvaez had a disastrous termination. Many Spaniards were left  |
|   behind, the majority of whom were probably tortured and killed.    |
|   Others, in accordance with Indian customs, may have been chosen by |
|   squaws to be their husbands, and would have consequently taken     |
|   part in the conduct of tribal affairs.                             |
|                                                                      |
|   It is not unlikely that some of these Spanish adventurers, would   |
|   have taken advantage of any opportunity that may have occurred, to |
|   proceed into the interior of the new continent. Due consideration  |
|   should also be given to the fact that the French may have assisted |
|   the Indians in the construction of their forts on the plains, at   |
|   any period between the dates of their first partial occupation of  |
|   Canada in 1541, and the final abandonment of their positions in    |
|   the valley of the Ohio in 1758.                                    |
|                                                                      |
|   Amongst the various opinions that have been held with respect to   |
|   the Mound Builders, there is one which attributes their origin to  |
|   the northern part of Mexico.                                       |
|                                                                      |
|   Mr. Lewis Morgan, whose works upon the subject of the Indian races |
|   have placed him in the position of being a high authority upon all |
|   matters relating to them, wrote to me a letter upon the question   |
|   of their migrations, in which he observed as follows:—“Any opinion |
|   as to who were the mound builders must be speculative. It is quite |
|   probable that they were village Indians from New Mexico, and       |
|   having found the climate too severe for their type of village      |
|   life, retired gradually from the country.” Although it has to be   |
|   admitted that all theories as to the Mound Builders must be        |
|   necessarily indeterminate, yet nothing has been found amongst the  |
|   ornaments or weapons that were placed in their burial mounds,      |
|   which supports the hypothesis that they were different in race or  |
|   intelligence from the tribes that surrounded them.                 |
|                                                                      |
| [31] The school teacher, Miss Maud Osborn, requested me to accept    |
|   this spear head in memory of my visit.                             |
|                                                                      |
| [32] The Missouri joins the Mississippi after having pursued a       |
|   devious course from the Rocky Mountains, for a distance estimated  |
|   to be nearly three thousand miles, of which the greater part is    |
|   navigable at that season of the year when its waters are at their  |
|   highest level.                                                     |
|                                                                      |
| [33] Nauvoo was once brought into prominent notice in connection     |
|   with the Mormons, as it was here that they built their first great |
|   temple.                                                            |
|                                                                      |
|   Judge Williams had personally known Joseph Smith, the founder of   |
|   Mormonism, and Rigdon his chief colleague. Joseph Smith, he said,  |
|   was an illiterate man, but, was remarkable for a kind of           |
|   shrewdness combined with great insight into character.             |
|                                                                      |
|   Rigdon, who had been formerly a Baptist preacher, was well         |
|   educated, and was generally employed in obtaining converts and     |
|   explaining to them the meaning of Smith’s visions and the          |
|   doctrines of the new religion.                                     |
|                                                                      |
|   He described Brigham Young, with whom he was also acquainted, as   |
|   being a person of determined character, with a domineering manner. |
|                                                                      |
|   When I was at Salt Lake City, in the following December, I had a   |
|   long interview with that able and astute leader of men.            |
|                                                                      |
|   Within twenty years from the time when he conducted the flight     |
|   of the Mormons across the deserts from Nauvoo to Utah, he had      |
|   succeeded in establishing a highly satisfactory condition of       |
|   good order and prosperity throughout the territories under his     |
|   government; and controlled, with unquestioned authority, a         |
|   community consisting of one hundred and forty thousand people.     |
|                                                                      |
| [34] As I looked at the cliff and the reflection of its shadow in    |
|   the calm smooth waters of the lake, I recalled to mind a similar   |
|   scene viewed from the deck of H.M.S. Racer when passing at sunset  |
|   the promontory of Cape Leucate, in Santa Maura, the classical site |
|   of Sappho’s leap. There is a special interest attached to the      |
|   fate of Winona, for it proves that Indian girls of Dakota birth    |
|   are capable of higher degrees of sentiment with regard to their    |
|   marriage, than those believed to exist among other tribes. She     |
|   was not permitted for some tribal reason to marry the man she had  |
|   chosen, and preferred death to marriage with the warrior to whom   |
|   she was assigned by the command of her parents.                    |
|                                                                      |
| [35] The accompanying illustration is drawn from a pencil sketch     |
|   made by the author near this spot.                                 |
|                                                                      |
| [36] “I was greatly surprised,” states Captain Carver, “at           |
|   beholding an instance of such elevated devotion in so young an     |
|   Indian, and instead of ridiculing the ceremonies attending it, as  |
|   I observed my Catholic servant tacitly did, I looked on the prince |
|   with a greater degree of respect for these sincere proofs he gave  |
|   of his piety; and I doubt not, but that his offerings and prayers, |
|   were as acceptable to the universal Parent of mankind, as if they  |
|   had been made with greater pomp, or in a consecrated place.”       |
|   _Travels in North America_, pp. 62.                                |
|                                                                      |
| [37] Archæologia Americana, Vol. II, pp. 128.                        |
|                                                                      |
| [38] In Chapter xvii it will be seen that the Aztecs or Toltecs in   |
|   Yucatan, also, in certain cases, killed the victim by a flight of  |
|   arrows.                                                            |
|                                                                      |
| [39] One of the best authenticated instances of this custom of       |
|   torturing prisoners was witnessed by a Mr. James Smith who, during |
|   the time that he was a captive amongst the Delawares, was present  |
|   when the English prisoners taken after General Braddock’s defeat   |
|   were brought into camp by the Indians.                             |
|                                                                      |
|   He states that, upon that occasion, about a dozen of the prisoners |
|   were stripped and tied to stakes, tortured with fire-brands and    |
|   burnt to death.                                                    |
|                                                                      |
|   The ferocity of the Indians towards their captives after battle    |
|   was well known to the British and French commanders, and was one   |
|   of the difficulties that attended their employment as allies.      |
|   There is a subject indirectly connected with these Indian customs  |
|   in war which may here be considered. It is that of cannibalism.    |
|                                                                      |
|   Investigations into this question lead to the conclusion that      |
|   there is no evidence to show that any of the North American tribes |
|   were in the habit of following this revolting custom except under  |
|   rare circumstances during the prosecution of a serious war.        |
|                                                                      |
|   I only know of two instances, seen and recorded, of Indians        |
|   devouring human flesh. In both cases it is evident that the acts   |
|   were committed in accordance with the usages of hostile tribes     |
|   when engaged in war.                                               |
|                                                                      |
|   The first case is mentioned in a report made to his superiors, by  |
|   the French missionary, Father Roubaud, who accompanied the Indian  |
|   allies of the French troops during the operations against the      |
|   British forces in 1757.                                            |
|                                                                      |
|   An English captive, who was believed to have been an officer, was  |
|   cooked and eaten by the Ottawas under circumstances singularly     |
|   repulsive. The Father Roubaud, who was present and witnessed part  |
|   of the proceedings, was horrified by what he saw, and finding that |
|   he could do nothing to check the tribe in their savage feast was   |
|   forced to withdraw to his tent.                                    |
|                                                                      |
|   The other instance occurred after the capture of the garrison of   |
|   Michel Mackinac by the Chippewas. Mr. Alexander Henry, the same    |
|   person who, at another time, undertook the mining operations on    |
|   the shores of Lake Superior which are mentioned in a preceding     |
|   chapter, was a captive. He states that one of the white prisoners  |
|   was killed and divided into five parts which were cooked in five   |
|   kettles and then eaten at a special feast.                         |
|                                                                      |
|   Mr. Henry was of opinion, from what he observed, that this food    |
|   was taken with repugnance. An Indian told him that what he saw was |
|   done to inspire the warriors with courage.                         |
|                                                                      |
| [40] When I was at the village of San Domingo del Palenque in        |
|   Central America, Dr. Coller, a resident there, told me he had      |
|   carried out, during several years, a series of investigations to   |
|   ascertain the reasons for the existence of large green savannahs   |
|   in the heart of the adjacent forests. He had formed the conclusion |
|   that those open spaces were caused by the exceptional character of |
|   the ground which, he said, differed from that upon which the trees |
|   grew. The similar openings amongst the forests in Ceylon called    |
|   patenas, are, I believe, also supposed to be the effect of the     |
|   nature or poverty of the land.                                     |
|                                                                      |
|   It is noticeable that the forests usually skirt or surround        |
|   savannahs in sharp well-defined outlines like an enclosing         |
|   barrier, in the same manner as the meadows, formed by the          |
|   consequences of the action of beavers, occur in Michigan.          |
|                                                                      |
| [41] After my return to England I happened to discuss this subject   |
|   with Colonel Yule, who had just then completed his work of editing |
|   the Travels of Marco Polo. He told me that when he was in Burmah,  |
|   Lord Dalhousie, who was at that time Governor-General of India,    |
|   sent him into the interior to visit the forests of Aracan.         |
|                                                                      |
|   He found within them several large clearings, and observed that    |
|   the new growths were of a different character from the old trees   |
|   and were invariably bamboos. He also saw amongst the mountains     |
|   many deciduous trees which were quite bare of leaves whilst their  |
|   branches were covered with brilliantly coloured flowers.           |
|                                                                      |
|   Upon another occasion Dr. Rae, who had passed much of his life in  |
|   the Hudson Bay Territories and became known by his discovery of    |
|   the relics of Sir John Franklin’s expedition, mentioned to me that |
|   he had frequently seen that when trees had been uprooted,          |
|   raspberry bushes sprang up in their place thus showing that their  |
|   seeds must have been in the ground. Dr. Joseph Norwood, Assistant  |
|   Geologist, in his report of the survey of the region west of Lake  |
|   Superior, undertaken in 1847, states that from facts which had     |
|   come under his observation, he was led to believe that, “if after  |
|   the clearing of the pine forests, the annual fires cease, a growth |
|   of oak springs up in some places and aspen in others.” (_Owen’s    |
|   Geological Survey_, pp. 296). In British Columbia the ancient      |
|   forest pines are often succeeded by cedars or alders.              |
|                                                                      |
| [42] The subject of the destruction of snakes is mentioned by Mr.    |
|   Murray, in his “Travels in North America.”                         |
|                                                                      |
|   When passing through a ravine in the territories of the Pawnees    |
|   he observed, “I never should have believed it possible that so     |
|   many rattlesnakes could have been assembled together as I saw in   |
|   that ravine. I think there must have been nearly enough to fatten  |
|   a drove of Missouri hogs,” and he adds in a note. “It is well      |
|   known that in the Western States where rattlesnakes are still      |
|   plentiful the hogs kill and eat them; nor is their bite formidable |
|   to their swinish enemy, on whom its venomous fangs seem to produce |
|   no effect. It is owing to this well-known fact that families       |
|   resident in those districts conceive that hogs-lard must be a kind |
|   of antidote to their poison, and frequently use it (I believe      |
|   successfully) as a remedy.” (_Travels in North America, by Hon.    |
|   Charles Augustus Murray, Vol._ ii, _pp._ 42.)                      |
|                                                                      |
|   An Englishman who had a large farm in West Virginia, told me that  |
|   the hillsides were cleared of the snakes, which had previously     |
|   infested them, by turning out pigs upon them.                      |
|                                                                      |
|   A similar result took place in Minnesota and upon the prairies     |
|   east of the Missouri.                                              |
|                                                                      |
| [43] “Etudes Philologiques sur quelques Langues Sauvages de          |
|   L’Amérique,” Montreal, 1866.                                       |
|                                                                      |
| [44] In the Encyclopædia Americana (1886), the total Indian          |
|   population is said to be (exclusive of Alaska) 264,369. The        |
|   Dakotas are stated to number thirty-one thousand.                  |
|                                                                      |
| [45] The Council building on the reservation was called the Long     |
|   House, not on account of its size or shape, but in accordance with |
|   an ancient tradition.                                              |
|                                                                      |
|   When the separation of the Iroquois took place, it was decided by  |
|   the Council that the expression Long House was to be used as a     |
|   symbol, that the nations were theoretically under one roof, which  |
|   extended over all the lands occupied by them. In pursuance of this |
|   theory, certain tribes were given particular duties. The Senecas   |
|   had to guard the gates looking towards the sunset, and the Mohawks |
|   were to watch the approaches to the gates placed in the direction  |
|   of sunrise.                                                        |
|                                                                      |
|   As far as it is possible to form conclusions, with respect to the  |
|   state of the Indian tribes in the sixteenth century, it appears    |
|   that the Iroquois, in consequence of their league, had attained    |
|   to a comparatively advanced state of warlike capacity, and had     |
|   organised methods of conducting a campaign.                        |
|                                                                      |
|   They also formed regular alliances, and made treaties which they   |
|   faithfully executed.                                               |
|                                                                      |
|   In their treatment of captives they were cruel and barbarous, but  |
|   they possessed in the highest degree the qualities of courage and  |
|   endurance.                                                         |
|                                                                      |
| [46] I should here mention that, when I was at Boston, I was much    |
|   assisted in making investigations into certain characteristics of  |
|   the North American Indians by Mr. Francis Parkman, whose           |
|   researches upon all subjects relating to the condition of the      |
|   aboriginal tribes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, have |
|   placed him in the first rank of the historians of that period.     |
|                                                                      |
|   Mr. Parkman was personally well acquainted with the Dakotas,       |
|   amongst whom he had dwelt for nearly two years.                    |
|                                                                      |
|   He, on several occasions arranged, in the kindest manner, that I   |
|   should meet those who were interested in the native races. Upon    |
|   one of these occasions I met Mr. E. G. Squier, whose original      |
|   surveys of the ancient earthworks in Ohio were published by the    |
|   Smithsonian Institution.                                           |
|                                                                      |
|   The introductions given to me by Mr. Parkman to the distinguished  |
|   archæologists, Mr. Lewis Morgan and Professor Daniel Wilson, were  |
|   also most useful.                                                  |
|                                                                      |
| [47] In the prison at Omaha I saw three Pawnees named Blue-Hawk,     |
|   Yellow-Son and Tall-Wolf, who had endeavoured to commit suicide in |
|   order to avoid being hanged. One of them, I think it was Blue-Hawk |
|   (Sha-to-ko), had managed to conceal a long piece of hard wood,     |
|   one end of which he had rubbed down to a sharp point. He was       |
|   employed in pushing this through his body, between the ribs, when  |
|   he was observed by the warder and prevented from completing his    |
|   purpose. Another prisoner had removed a brick from the floor and   |
|   was trying to fracture his skull with it. All of them had torn     |
|   away portions of their skin and cut themselves in many places with |
|   small fragments of glass which they had obtained secretly. The     |
|   warder told me that he had taken every precaution to stop these    |
|   desperate attempts of the Indians to destroy themselves. They      |
|   seemed to be able to bear these self inflicted wounds without      |
|   showing signs of distress.                                         |
|                                                                      |
| [48] The supernatural powers attributed to the “medicine men” are    |
|   not worthy of attention, except so far as they illustrate the      |
|   credulity of Indians, and show the influence of certain methods of |
|   imposture upon them. Their tricks are usually of a kind which are  |
|   perfectly within the capacity of an ordinary juggler.              |
|                                                                      |
|   Their pretension of possessing the power of making rain is however |
|   a subject of a different nature.                                   |
|                                                                      |
|   This particular act is chiefly remarkable because there is no form |
|   of imposture which can be so readily detected. Nevertheless the    |
|   Indian tribes throughout the western parts of North America        |
|   usually have “Rain-makers,” in whose powers they appear to have    |
|   confidence.                                                        |
|                                                                      |
|   I met in California a young Englishman who had been living for     |
|   several months with various tribes near the coast, between British |
|   Columbia and New Mexico.                                           |
|                                                                      |
|   He told me that he had been present upon an occasion when a        |
|   successful attempt at rain-making occurred. The event took place   |
|   upon a promontory in the southern part of California.              |
|                                                                      |
|   The tribe wanted rain, and their rain-maker declared that he could |
|   obtain what was desired. He proceeded to make upon an adjoining    |
|   hill, a large bonfire which was kept well supplied with fuel and   |
|   gave out dense volumes of smoke. The fire was kept burning for     |
|   over twenty-four hours, and then the efforts of the rain-maker     |
|   were rewarded by a good and sufficient fall of rain. Here, as      |
|   elsewhere, the Indians employed fire and smoke as agents for       |
|   producing rain.                                                    |
|                                                                      |
| [49] See Chapter VI.                                                 |
|                                                                      |
| [50] The offerings are sometimes made to appease the angry spirit    |
|   dwelling in the serpent.                                           |
|                                                                      |
|   Occasionally the Dakotas sacrifice a dog to it.                    |
|                                                                      |
| [51] “Indian Tribes of North America.” Vol. IV. pp. 51.              |
|                                                                      |
| [52] The remaining daughters were alive when I was in Minnesota.     |
|   One of them was married to a man of the tribe. The other was the   |
|   wife of a white man, who, Faribault said, was employed as a        |
|   drummer at Fort Snelling.                                          |
|                                                                      |
| [53] With many of the Dakota and Chippewa tribes there existed a     |
|   custom of placing upon the scaffolding a wand which was painted    |
|   red, blue and white. They believed that the spirit of the Indian   |
|   had to cross a river over which was a long log of wood. Upon       |
|   reaching the opposite bank, the spirit met the spirits of his      |
|   enemies. To one of them he would show the red, to another the      |
|   blue, and finally he pointed to the white and then all enmities    |
|   ceased.                                                            |
|                                                                      |
| [54] The albatrosses in the Southern ocean which, like the           |
|   pelicans, are birds of great size and weight (I have measured some |
|   which exceeded twelve feet across the wings) maintain for hours an |
|   equal height above the level of the sea.                           |
|                                                                      |
|   In the high latitudes south of the Cape of Good Hope and the       |
|   Crozet Islands there is always a strong gale blowing, and          |
|   consequently by a very slight and imperceptible movement or        |
|   inclination of the wings the albatrosses obtained the necessary    |
|   pressure which enabled them to rise, descend, or maintain their    |
|   hovering position.                                                 |
|                                                                      |
|   In the case of pelicans moving rapidly in a perfect calm, the      |
|   method by which they maintain their height in the air is not so    |
|   easily understood.                                                 |
|                                                                      |
| [55] The foreign residents living in Guatemala, included Mr.         |
|   Corbett, our Chargé d’affaires; M. de Cabarrus, chief of the       |
|   French legation; the Duke and Duchess de Licignano, Dr. Wynne, Mr. |
|   and Mrs. Hague, Mr. and Mrs. Hockmeyer, and M. Hardy: to all of    |
|   whom I was indebted for much kindness and hospitality.             |
|                                                                      |
| [56] Author of “A New Survey of the West Indies,” published in 1648. |
|                                                                      |
| [57] “Relation of what happened by the Will of God, on Saturday,     |
|   the 10th of September, 1541, two hours after sunset in the town of |
|   Santiago de Guatimala.” Ternaux-Compans.                           |
|                                                                      |
| [58] Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España escrita   |
|   por el Capitan Bernal Diaz del Castillo, uno de sus                |
|   Conquistadores.                                                    |
|                                                                      |
| [59] The substances thrown out from craters frequently differ in     |
|   their character. Judging from the composition of the surface of    |
|   portions of the land near the Guatemala volcanoes, especially upon |
|   the slopes of the barrancas, it is evident that large quantities   |
|   of pozzolana were ejected. One of the latest eruptions that has    |
|   occurred was at the Island of Santorin in the Grecian Archipelago  |
|   in February, 1866. I was present when the new volcano emerged from |
|   the sea.                                                           |
|                                                                      |
|   The inhabitants of Santorin, upon seeing volumes of steam and      |
|   smoke issuing from the waters of the bay, apprehended some serious |
|   peril to be imminent. They feared the possibility of their town    |
|   being overwhelmed by an eruption of ashes, and made a request that |
|   a ship of war should be sent to the spot to render any assistance  |
|   that might be necessary. I immediately went there in the “Racer”   |
|   and remained until all fears of danger had passed away.            |
|                                                                      |
|   The crater of the volcano, afterwards called Aphroessa, rose       |
|   slowly from the surface of the water, and it was possible to       |
|   observe the nature of the interior during the intervals between    |
|   the eruptions. There was no lava or pozzolana, but only large      |
|   cinders which, as they issued from the crater, were thrown into    |
|   the air, and then fell upon the outer slopes, thus gradually       |
|   forming an island.                                                 |
|                                                                      |
|   It was a very remarkable scene; during the day there were heavy    |
|   volumes of smoke and constant rumbling sounds, as the pent up      |
|   forces below the mouth of the crater were gathering strength to    |
|   throw forth the mass of cinders that closed them in. At night the  |
|   glare caused by the reflection of the fire of the interior upon    |
|   the dense clouds immediately overhanging it was very vivid. The    |
|   surface of the surrounding waters was over-spread by running       |
|   tongues of brilliantly coloured flames. The island was composed of |
|   cinders and ashes, whose porous nature could never permit any      |
|   lodgement of water upon them. I examined several of the craters of |
|   the extinct volcanoes on the islands adjacent to Aphroessa, and    |
|   there was no instance of any small pond or collection of water     |
|   existing within them. The interior of the Volcan de Agua, possibly |
|   contained a thick substratum of water-bearing pozzolana.           |
|                                                                      |
|   An account of the volcanoes of Santorin was given by Sir Charles   |
|   Lyell. “Principles of Geology.” Vol. ii, pp. 70.                   |
|                                                                      |
| [60] “History of the Kingdom of Guatemala,” by Don Domingo Juarros,  |
|   translated by J. Baily, Lieutenant R.M., pp. 384.                  |
|                                                                      |
| [61] Bernal Diaz states that “Pá-pa,” was the name given by the      |
|   Indians in Yucatan to their chief-priests. The Spaniards were much |
|   surprised to find upon their arrival in America, that the Indian   |
|   chief-priests were called by the same name as the Pope of Rome.    |
|   “Kues” were temples or altars.                                     |
|                                                                      |
| [62] Quetzales are birds with bright green plumage, having their     |
|   tail feathers of great length, and are found chiefly in the        |
|   highlands of Guatemala.                                            |
|                                                                      |
| [63] Palacio’s Report was published for the first time in the        |
|   original Spanish by Mr. E. G. Squier, in 1860. As it is important  |
|   that the author’s meaning should not be misunderstood, I have      |
|   translated it literally, as far as this is possible, considering   |
|   that it is written in the Spanish of the 16th century.             |
|                                                                      |
| [64] Carved and polished ornaments made of hard stone of green       |
|   colour.                                                            |
|                                                                      |
| [65] Diaz observes that Guatimozin—who, after the death of           |
|   Montezuma had become the Emperor of the Mexicans—sent the hands    |
|   and feet of the Spaniards that had been sacrificed, together with  |
|   the heads of the horses that had been killed, to the Indian chiefs |
|   who had formed a league of alliance with Cortes, and sent them     |
|   messages to the effect, that the remaining Spaniards would soon be |
|   conquered, and that consequently those chiefs should submit to the |
|   Aztec power and send ambassadors to him. In the meantime, human    |
|   sacrifices took place daily in the great temple, accompanied by    |
|   the dismal sound of the drum, the discordant noises of the shell   |
|   trumpets, and the horrible shouts and yells of the Mexicans.       |
|   During the night large fires were kept burning on the platform,    |
|   and on each night several Spaniards were sacrificed.               |
|                                                                      |
|   These ceremonies lasted for ten days, until all the captives had   |
|   been sacrificed; and during this time the Mexicans made frequent   |
|   and furious attacks upon the troops. Diaz relates, that the Indian |
|   soldiers told them that they were wretched creatures who would     |
|   soon be all killed, and that their flesh was disagreeable to taste |
|   and bad to eat. “Vuestras carnes son tan malas para comer.”        |
|                                                                      |
|   The last Spaniard who was sacrificed was Christobal de Guzman.     |
|                                                                      |
| [66] Bernal Diaz, Historia Verdadera, chap. clii.                    |
|                                                                      |
| [67] First Report of Pedro de Alvarado to Cortes, dated Utatlan,     |
|   11th April, 1524.                                                  |
|                                                                      |
| [68] See the 5th letter of Cortes, to the Emperor Charles V.         |
|                                                                      |
| [69] Small black beans.                                              |
|                                                                      |
| [70] Juarros, Baily’s Translation, p. 457.                           |
|                                                                      |
| [71] In Guatemala this prayer is called La Oracion.                  |
|                                                                      |
|   This custom is familiar to those who have travelled upon the       |
|   Italian coasts, or who have visited the western parts of Brittany  |
|   near Carnac and in the Morbihan, where the faith of the peasants   |
|   still remains strong.                                              |
|                                                                      |
|   The Indians living amongst the hills frequently assemble in        |
|   considerable numbers, and, kneeling on the ground, worship outside |
|   the doors of their churches; and there is a singular resemblance   |
|   in the manner of their devotion to what is to be seen at the       |
|   “Pardons” of the Bretons, where the peasants come from long        |
|   distances, light their candles, and kneel before the church door,  |
|   the line of the worshippers often extending beyond the precincts   |
|   of the churchyard.                                                 |
|                                                                      |
| [72] A name given by Spanish priests to the ancient temples and      |
|   shrines of the Indians.                                            |
|                                                                      |
| [73] Las Casas, who was Bishop of the adjacent diocese of Chiapas    |
|   in the sixteenth century, mentions that it was the custom there    |
|   amongst the lower classes to give a year’s service to the          |
|   parents.—“Pero la gente comun tenía de costumbre de servir in sus  |
|   labores un año al padre de la que por mujer queria, de la manera   |
|   que Jacob sirvio à Laban por sus hijas Rachel y Lya.” This was     |
|   also the custom in Yucatan.                                        |
|                                                                      |
| [74] Long capes made of sackcloth.                                   |
|                                                                      |
| [75] When I passed through Mexico, the execution of the Emperor      |
|   Maximilian and the unhappy fate of the Empress Carlotta, were      |
|   subjects of discussion. It has often been a matter of surprise,    |
|   that Juarez should have thought it necessary that the sentence of  |
|   the court-martial should be carried out. The French troops, upon   |
|   whom the stability of the empire depended, had been withdrawn,     |
|   and the success of the National party was assured. An act of       |
|   forbearance upon this occasion would have met with approval, and   |
|   have been acknowledged as a wise exercise of superior authority.   |
|   It was however otherwise determined, and the Emperor was shot      |
|   outside the walls of Querétaro.                                    |
|                                                                      |
|   In the American official book upon Mexican affairs, there is a     |
|   memorandum of the conversation between Mr. Seward, the Foreign     |
|   Secretary, and Señor Matias Romero, the Mexican Minister, at       |
|   Washington. Mr. Seward stated, that England, France and Austria,   |
|   had desired the United States to use their good offices for        |
|   Maximilian, and further observed, that “Mr. Seward does not fear   |
|   any contingency possible in virtue whereof any European power may  |
|   attempt to invade or interfere in future in Mexico, or in any      |
|   other Republican nation on this continent. For this reason he does |
|   not think that Mexico need fear any attempt at reprisals on the    |
|   part of any European powers, as a consequence of any extreme       |
|   decision which the Mexican Government may take; but at the same    |
|   time, Mr. Seward also believes that a feeling universally          |
|   favourable, conciliatory and friendly towards the Republic of      |
|   Mexico and the other American Republics, would probably be the     |
|   result of the act of clemency and magnanimity, which the United    |
|   States have thought proper to recommend.”                          |
|                                                                      |
|   Clemency is not a quality that naturally exists in the mind of a   |
|   North or Central American Indian.                                  |
|                                                                      |
| [76] It recalled to my memory an old Spanish picture belonging to    |
|   Dr. Pusey, which always held the principal place upon the walls of |
|   his library in Christ Church, Oxford.                              |
|                                                                      |
| [77] The method of building their huts varies amongst different      |
|   tribes, but the general principles are much the same. I have       |
|   passed many hours of the day and night within them, and noticed    |
|   their practical convenience in tropical climates; and although,    |
|   according to civilised ideas of comfort, there is much that is     |
|   wanting, yet for the purposes of the simple and solitary lives of  |
|   these shy and inoffensive Indians, it would be difficult to        |
|   contrive any shelter more suitable for their requirements.         |
|                                                                      |
| [78] I had previously observed when travelling in the Cyrenaica in   |
|   the regions around Cyrene, that the Bedouins could perform a long  |
|   day’s hard work and subsist upon a few handfuls of grains of wheat |
|   moistened with water.                                              |
|                                                                      |
| [79] Dr. Coller was surprised to see me. It was supposed that I was  |
|   the first Englishman who had come to Palenque from the coasts of   |
|   the Pacific, Mr. Stephens, my predecessor being an American. I am  |
|   however under the impression that his companion, Mr. Catherwood,   |
|   was an Englishman.                                                 |
|                                                                      |
| [80] Dr. Coller’s hut at San Domingo del Palenque was not a Castle   |
|   of Lirias, but probably the lines quoted by Gil Blas were often in |
|   his mind. Indeed there are many others who, if they saw that       |
|   hamlet as I saw it in the month of March, would concur with him in |
|   saying:                                                            |
|                                                                      |
|       “Inveni portum. Spes et Fortuna valete.                        |
|       Sat me lusistis: ludite nunc alios.”                           |
|                                                                      |
| [81] In the final chapters, xix-xx, will be found the conclusions    |
|   that I have formed with regard to the temple and tablet of the     |
|   cross.                                                             |
|                                                                      |
| [82] See frontispiece.                                               |
|                                                                      |
| [83] The areas occupied by the temples differed considerably in      |
|   their extent. The largest of them which I measured was that of the |
|   Temple of the Cross.                                               |
|                                                                      |
|   Its interior dimensions were forty-three feet seven inches long    |
|   by twenty-five feet four inches deep; the outer walls were three   |
|   feet thick. Therefore the ground space covered by the building was |
|   nearly fifty feet in frontage and a little more than thirty-one    |
|   feet in depth. Its exterior height was about twenty feet. The      |
|   measurements of the temple on the adjoining pyramid were less.     |
|                                                                      |
| [84] A clear and instructive memoir by Professor Charles Rau, upon   |
|   the subject of the interpretation of the Palenque hieroglyphs, is  |
|   to be found in one of the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge,  |
|   published in 1879.                                                 |
|                                                                      |
|   Investigations have also been made in England, France and Germany. |
|   I believe it has been ascertained that a dot means one, a bar      |
|   five, a bar with two dots seven, and two bars represent ten. It    |
|   has also been discovered that the hieroglyphs are to be read from  |
|   left to right, and from the top downwards. If this is correct it   |
|   is a discovery of considerable importance. Upon an examination of  |
|   the illustration in the frontispiece of the Palenque altar tablet  |
|   it will be observed, from the position of the leading groups of    |
|   figures on the left slab, that the heads are probably intended to  |
|   represent the chiefs of the Toltec tribe.                          |
|                                                                      |
|   The numerous explorations that have latterly taken place           |
|   throughout Mexico, Guatemala and Yucatan have practically          |
|   determined the positions and extent of all the ancient Indian      |
|   ruins that still exist in those lands. Therefore it is not         |
|   expected that any more discoveries of importance will be made. It  |
|   is however possible that one or more small temples or structures   |
|   may be found hidden among the forests in the line of direction     |
|   between Ocosingo and Flores.                                       |
|                                                                      |
|   In the United States much attention is being given to the study of |
|   the Mexican and Maya manuscripts.                                  |
|                                                                      |
|   It is to be hoped that methods of interpretation will be           |
|   established upon a sound basis, and that the characters written    |
|   upon the codices, and the hieroglyphs graven upon the idols and    |
|   stone tablets will be ultimately deciphered.                       |
|                                                                      |
| [85] Some years after my return to England I had a long              |
|   conversation upon the subject of alligators with Mr. Bates, who    |
|   was then our Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, and      |
|   whose knowledge upon all matters concerning the habits of animals  |
|   in tropical lands was very extensive. In his book “The Naturalist  |
|   on the Amazons,” he mentions a case that happened at a place       |
|   called Carcara.                                                    |
|                                                                      |
|   An Indian, one of the crew belonging to a trading canoe, whilst in |
|   a half-drunken state went down to bathe in the lake and stumbled.  |
|   A pair of gaping jaws seized him round the waist and dragged him   |
|   under water; after a short lapse of time the brute came up to      |
|   breathe and was seen with one leg of the man sticking out from his |
|   jaws.                                                              |
|                                                                      |
|   Other instances of this kind have been mentioned by naturalists,   |
|   but I do not remember any cases of men being seized when actually  |
|   swimming in the water. Possibly my Indians may have known from     |
|   hearsay or experience the truth of what they stated.               |
|                                                                      |
|   It has been said that alligators, owing to the formation of their  |
|   throats, cannot swallow their prey in the water, but are obliged   |
|   to go to the banks for that purpose.                               |
|                                                                      |
|   It was not, however, upon the subject of the danger to men from    |
|   approaching these reptiles that the conversation chiefly turned.   |
|                                                                      |
|   We discussed the question of their food supply. Mr. Bates said     |
|   that they lived upon fish. I observed, with reference to that part |
|   of the river where I had seen them congregated in such amazing     |
|   numbers, that it was impossible that the supply of food from fish  |
|   alone could be sufficient, and also that in consequence of the     |
|   filthy state of the water no fish could live in it.                |
|                                                                      |
|   Mr. Bates after some consideration said that their food must be    |
|   fish, but he added, that it was probable that they could live in   |
|   an almost torpid condition for long periods.                       |
|                                                                      |
|   Mr. Bates felt assured that fish formed the food of alligators. It |
|   was not possible to feel quite satisfied with this solution of the |
|   problem, especially under circumstances where alligators abound in |
|   stagnant lagoons in which fish must necessarily be scarce.         |
|                                                                      |
|   In the unfrequented parts of the estuaries of rivers flowing into  |
|   the Caribbean sea, it can be understood that at certain seasons of |
|   the year the supply of fish may be great, and we have the          |
|   authority of that careful observer Mr. Bartram, for the statement  |
|   that upon those occasions the numbers of alligators crowding the   |
|   rivers in Florida were astonishing.                                |
|                                                                      |
|   In 1853 the “Vestal” happened to be cruising off Cuba, and I was   |
|   sent in charge of the boats to look for fresh water in Guantanomo  |
|   harbour, at a spot which was reputed to have been a favourite      |
|   haunt of pirates in the seventeenth century.                       |
|                                                                      |
|   After some search we discovered a small stream, but the entrance   |
|   was defended by such crowds of alligators that we had great        |
|   difficulty in passing through them. If, as was possible, they were |
|   waiting for the arrival of fish from the upper waters, it may be   |
|   inferred that a comparatively small supply of food suffices for    |
|   their sustenance.                                                  |
|                                                                      |
| [86] “Cartas de Hernan Cortes,” collected by Don Pascual de          |
|   Gayangos, p. 407.                                                  |
|                                                                      |
| [87] “Almaizal, a sort of veil or head attire used by the Moorish    |
|   women, made of thin silk, striped of several colours, and shagged  |
|   at the ends, which hangs down on the back.” Baretti’s Dictionary,  |
|   1807.                                                              |
|                                                                      |
| [88] See “Landa’s Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan,” edited and      |
|   translated by L’Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg.                        |
|                                                                      |
| [89] See chapter vii.                                                |
|                                                                      |
| [90] Landa “Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan.” p. 164.               |
|                                                                      |
| [91] See chapter xi.                                                 |
|                                                                      |
| [92] The facing stones placed upon the walls of the ruins of Mitla,  |
|   in the Mexican province of Oaxaca, are fitted, or bedded, into the |
|   mortar and rubble in the same manner as at Uxmal.                  |
|                                                                      |
|   At one of the evening conversaziones given by the Royal Society at |
|   Burlington House, in the spring of 1892, I happened to discuss the |
|   subject of Palenque and Uxmal with Mr. Woolner, the sculptor. Some |
|   experiments had previously been carried out in France which had    |
|   proved that with stone chisels it was possible to carve granite,   |
|   limestones, and hard sandstones.                                   |
|                                                                      |
|   The investigations did not, however, make it clear how it could    |
|   have happened that the Indian sculptors were able to work with     |
|   such facility that they covered their buildings with deeply        |
|   chiselled ornamentation. Mr. Woolner said that he thought it       |
|   probable that the Indians may have been acquainted with some       |
|   strong acids, and that they may have used these to soften the      |
|   stone and make it more workable.                                   |
|                                                                      |
|   We were looking at some photographs exhibited by Mr. Maudslay,     |
|   who had lately returned from Palenque, and the question of the     |
|   method of carving the outlines of the figures on the stone slabs   |
|   of the courts came under consideration. Mr. Woolner thought that   |
|   the subject was very difficult, but that it was possible that the  |
|   figures had been previously traced and then worked with acid as he |
|   had already suggested.                                             |
|                                                                      |
| [93] When I heard of this Indian practice my thoughts went far away  |
|   from the forests of Palenque. Memories of the Eton playing fields  |
|   were recalled and an old Eton Latin grammar, and the familiar      |
|   line, “Pallida mors æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas regumque    |
|   turres.” With Indians, as with others, the fatal footstep cannot   |
|   be turned aside.                                                   |
|                                                                      |
| [94] For a description of this ceremony see Landa, chap. xxvi.       |
|   “Manner of baptism in Yucatan. How it was celebrated.”             |
|                                                                      |
| [95] See “Historia de la Guerra de Castas de Yucatan,” p. 77.        |
|   Merida, 1866.                                                      |
|                                                                      |
| [96] As the little Aguinaga was timidly seeking for an anchorage, I  |
|   remembered a far different scene in which I had taken part in      |
|   1853, seventeen years earlier.                                     |
|                                                                      |
|   The Vestal, a twenty-six gun frigate in which I was then serving,  |
|   had captured three slavers off the north coast of Cuba. One of     |
|   them was a fast sailing vessel called the Venus. She had become    |
|   notorious for her success in evading our cruisers and landing      |
|   large cargoes of slaves.                                           |
|                                                                      |
|   When we arrived off the mouth of the port of Havannah we formed    |
|   our fleet of prizes into line and passed between the castles in    |
|   triumph: our movements being watched by thousands of the Spanish   |
|   inhabitants as we took up our anchorage in the centre of the       |
|   harbour.                                                           |
|                                                                      |
| [97] “Work in Mound Exploration of the Bureau of Ethnology,” by      |
|   Cyrus Thomas, Washington, 1887.                                    |
|                                                                      |
| [98] “The Mounds of the Mississippi Valley, Historically             |
|   Considered,” by Lucien Carr, Assistant Curator of the Peabody      |
|   Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology, Cambridge, Mass.      |
|                                                                      |
| [99] See Note, chapter iv., p. 69.                                   |
|                                                                      |
| [100] In the sixteenth century, the Cherokees occupied the lands in  |
|   that part of America where the States of North Carolina, Alabama   |
|   and Georgia border upon the State of Tennessee.                    |
|                                                                      |
| [101] See chapter v., p. 94.                                         |
|                                                                      |
| [102] Merida now occupies the site of Tihoo. The stones, with which  |
|   were built the pyramids and temples, were used in the construction |
|   of the new city.                                                   |
|                                                                      |
| [103] Relation des choses de Yucatan, p. 351.                        |
|                                                                      |
| [104] According to Humboldt, the Toltecs arrived in Anáhuac          |
|   (Mexico) A.D. 648, and reached Tula in 670. The pyramids of        |
|   Téotihuacan, a few leagues north of the modern city of Mexico,     |
|   were built by them. They afterwards raised the great pyramid of    |
|   Cholula, and on its platform built a temple for the worship of     |
|   Quetzalcoatl. From Cholula, colonies of the Toltecs went to        |
|   Tabasco and Yucatan.                                               |
|                                                                      |
|   The Aztecs arrived in Mexico in 1190, and found there the pyramids |
|   which they believed to hive been the work of their predecessors    |
|   the Toltecs, who had obtained a knowledge of hieroglyphics and     |
|   of methods of computing time by calendars. The Aztecs founded      |
|   Tenochtitlan (the city of Mexico) in 1325.                         |
|                                                                      |
| [105] The custom of confining captives or slaves in wooden cages     |
|   for the purpose of being prepared for sacrifice, was supposed to   |
|   have been established by the Aztecs about a century after they had |
|   settled in Mexico.                                                 |
|                                                                      |
|   There is reason to believe that in consequence of their being      |
|   surrounded by enemies and engaged in constant wars, they           |
|   considered it necessary to propitiate the war god in the most      |
|   terrific manner. Thus when the great Teocalli, erected for the     |
|   worship of Huitzil-pochli, was completed, many thousands of        |
|   victims were sacrificed as propitiatory offerings. When colonies   |
|   of the Aztec race were advancing in the direction of Tabasco and   |
|   Yucatan, similar sacrificial ceremonies were performed.            |
|                                                                      |
|   Bernal Diaz saw, in one of the Indian towns that had been captured |
|   by the Spaniards, three large cages full of prisoners who were     |
|   waiting to be sacrificed. They were fastened by collars to prevent |
|   their escape. They were taken out of the cages and sent back to    |
|   their own tribes. He elsewhere observes that the Indians devoured  |
|   human flesh after the victims had been sacrificed, in the same way |
|   as the Spaniards devoured oxen. It is evident that great numbers   |
|   of the aboriginal natives must have been kept in slavery and, in   |
|   time of war, were killed and eaten by the Aztecs.                  |
|                                                                      |
| [106] Bernal Diaz, chapter xxix, and Landa, p. 12.                   |
|                                                                      |
| [107] It was noticed soon after the Spanish conquest that the        |
|   Indians died rapidly from causes of a mental character. They died  |
|   because they did not wish to live. The conditions of slavery they  |
|   were forced to endure had such an effect upon them that they       |
|   gradually lost their strength. After submitting for a time to      |
|   the hardships imposed upon them they appeared to become resigned   |
|   to their fate. Life was a burden. They lost heart and died from    |
|   misery. This was particularly the case in Cuba and Hispaniola.     |
|                                                                      |
| [108] The Indians in Yucatan, had a chief priest who had a general   |
|   control over all matters relating to the priesthood. He nominated  |
|   the priests to the villages, examined them in their sciences and   |
|   ceremonies, provided them with books and sent them to attend in    |
|   the service of the temples.                                        |
|                                                                      |
|   According to Landa “they taught the sons of other priests and the  |
|   younger sons of the chiefs that were brought to them for this      |
|   purpose when they were children, if it was observed that they were |
|   inclined towards this office. The sciences which they taught were  |
|   the computations of the years, months, and days, the festivals and |
|   ceremonies, the administration of their sacraments, the days and   |
|   times that were fatal, the manner of divinations and prophecies    |
|   and coming events, the remedies for sickness and things concerning |
|   antiquities, and to read and write with their books, and           |
|   characters with which they wrote and with figures which explained  |
|   the writings.”                                                     |
|                                                                      |
|   In Yucatan, as in Mexico, the calendar was carefully constructed.  |
|   The year consisted of three hundred and sixty-five days and six    |
|   hours. Landa observes that the months were of two kinds. One was   |
|   lunar and was regulated by the movements of the moon. The other    |
|   method of computation was formed by dividing the year into         |
|   eighteen divisions or months, each consisting of twenty days and   |
|   there were five days and six hours over. Of these six hours one    |
|   day was made every four years. For these three hundred and         |
|   sixty-six days they had twenty letters or characters by which they |
|   were named. (Relacion de las cosas de Yucatan, pp. 42; 202).       |
|                                                                      |
|   Las Casas observes in his Apologética Historia, chapter cxxi, that |
|   “the year of the Mexican people consisted of three hundred and     |
|   sixty-five days divided into eighteen months and five days. Each   |
|   month was twenty days, and the week was thirteen days of which     |
|   they had constituted a calendar, and for each day of the week, of  |
|   the month and of the year they had its idol with its own name, and |
|   these names were of men, or of women which they held or had held   |
|   as gods; and thus all the days were filled up with these idols     |
|   and names and figures in the same manner as our breviaries and     |
|   calendars have for each day its saint.”                            |
|                                                                      |
|   The illustration of the calendar stone is from a photograph        |
|   taken from the original stone in the city of Mexico. This great    |
|   astronomical record was discovered in the year 1790, buried        |
|   several feet below the surface, in the spot where stood the chief  |
|   pyramid and temple of the Aztecs. It is made from a large mass of  |
|   basalt, and the circular part has a circumference of more than     |
|   thirty-eight feet. It is probably one of the earliest and one of   |
|   the most elaborate of the sculptured works of the Toltecs. It will |
|   be observed that the points have a singular resemblance to those   |
|   of the mariner’s compass. The head placed in the centre has been   |
|   supposed to represent the Mexican god of the sun. It is possible   |
|   that it may have been intended to represent Quetzalcoatl, the      |
|   traditional teacher and originator of the Mexican knowledge of     |
|   astronomy.                                                         |
|                                                                      |
| [109] The fact of men wearing beards would be considered             |
|   extraordinary by the American Indians. Landa states that           |
|   “Cucul-can raised several temples, established regulations for the |
|   maintenance of good order, and then left Yucatan and proceeded     |
|   towards Mexico.”                                                   |
|                                                                      |
| [110] Apologética Historia, chapter cxxiii.                          |
|                                                                      |
| [111] With respect to the ancient Indian structures it is expedient  |
|   to give a brief consideration to those that were raised at Copan   |
|   and Quirigua. The earliest account of the sculptures existing at   |
|   Copan was given by Palacio in 1576. In his Report to the King of   |
|   Spain he mentions that within the ruins was a stone cross three    |
|   palms high, and beyond it “There was a statue more than four yards |
|   high, sculptured like a bishop in his pontifical robes with his    |
|   mitre well worked and with rings in his hands.”                    |
|                                                                      |
|   After describing other large statues and the ruins overlooking the |
|   river, Palacio observes, “I enquired with all possible attention   |
|   for any traditions from the ancient people as to what people lived |
|   here, and if anything was known of their ancestors, and whether    |
|   there were any books concerning these antiquities ... They say     |
|   that anciently there came there a great chief of the province of   |
|   Yucatan who made these edifices, and after several years he went   |
|   back to his country, and left them solitary and unpeopled.... It   |
|   also appears that the style of the said edifices is like what was  |
|   found in other places by the Spaniards who first discovered        |
|   Yucatan and Tabasco, where figures of bishops were seen and armed  |
|   men and crosses, and since such things have not been found in      |
|   other regions it can be believed that those that made them were    |
|   probably of one nation.” (Report of the Licentiate Dr. Don Diego   |
|   Garcia de Palacio to the King of Spain, 1576.)                     |
|                                                                      |
|   It is recorded by Juarros that in the year 1700, Fuentes, who      |
|   wrote the Chronicles of Guatemala, stated with respect to Copan,   |
|   that the figures, “both male and female were of very excellent     |
|   sculpture, which then retained the colours they had been enamelled |
|   with; and what was not less remarkable, the whole of them were     |
|   habited in the Castilian costume.” The same author relates that at |
|   “a short distance, there was a portal constructed of stone, on the |
|   columns of which were the figures of men likewise represented in   |
|   Spanish habits, with hose, ruff round the neck, sword, cap, and    |
|   short cloak”....                                                   |
|                                                                      |
|   “All the circumstances,” observes Juarros, “lead to a belief that  |
|   there must have been some intercourse between the inhabitants of   |
|   the old and new world at very remote periods.”                     |
|                                                                      |
|   The information given traditionally by the Indians living at       |
|   Copan, is singularly in accordance with the traditions of the      |
|   priests and caciques in Mexico and Yucatan with respect to the     |
|   arrival of a stranger who commanded temples and pyramids to be     |
|   built and then went away and never returned.                       |
|                                                                      |
|   It is remarkable that, in the first interview between Montezuma    |
|   and Cortes, a singular tradition was mentioned by that Emperor.    |
|   Cortes in his second letter (Segunda carta-relacion) dated 30th    |
|   October, 1520, relates that Montezuma spoke to him as follows:—“We |
|   know from our writings that we received from our ancestors, that I |
|   and all those who live in this land are not the natives of it. We  |
|   are strangers and came into it from very distant regions. We also  |
|   know that our nation was led here by a chief whose vassals all     |
|   were. He afterwards went back to his native country. Afterwards he |
|   returned and found that those he had left had married the native   |
|   women (mujeres naturales) and had many children, and had built     |
|   villages where they lived, and when he wished them to proceed with |
|   him they did not want to go, or even receive him as their chief    |
|   and therefore he went away.”                                       |
|                                                                      |
| [112] The author of the Popol Vuh, does not mention the tradition    |
|   about Votan.                                                       |
|                                                                      |
| [113] Las Casas in commenting upon the subject of the Cozumel        |
|   cross, mentions that it was ten palms high. In the course of       |
|   the extensive explorations carried out by M. Desiré Charnay, in    |
|   1880–82, a similar stone was discovered at Téotihuacan. It is      |
|   considered to be the emblem of Tlaloc, the god of rain.            |
|                                                                      |
| [114] Professor Rau in his memoir upon the Palenque tablet, states   |
|   that it is his belief that the Maya language, or a kindred         |
|   dialect, was spoken by the builders of Palenque.                   |
|                                                                      |
|   With regard to this subject it has to be observed that when the    |
|   Toltec tribes, or the tribe that built the temples, settled at     |
|   Palenque they had possibly forgotten their own original language,  |
|   which may have been a Pawnee or Dakota dialect.                    |
|                                                                      |
|   It would naturally happen after their wives had been taken from    |
|   among the aboriginal race, that the children would speak the       |
|   dialects of their mothers. It has been mentioned by an early       |
|   Spanish writer that the Aztecs, when they settled in Mexico,       |
|   endeavoured to establish their own language, but without success.  |
|                                                                      |
| [115] Vol. iv., p. 333.                                              |
|                                                                      |
| [116] According to Gibbon, the Goths under the command of King       |
|   Roderick, were defeated by the Saracens on the plains of Xeres in  |
|   the neighbourhood of Cadiz, upon July 19–26, A.D. 711. This great  |
|   battle decided the fate of Spain. It was supposed that Roderick    |
|   was drowned in the river but it was not known with certainty what  |
|   became of him as his body was never found.                         |
|                                                                      |
|           Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. li.            |
|                                                                      |
|   The subject of the flight of the bishops, was afterwards brought   |
|   into notice by a report of the discovery of the island where they  |
|   had settled. This fabulous report was believed, in the fifteenth   |
|   century, to be true. An historian states that:—                    |
|                                                                      |
|   “In this yeare also, 1447, it happened that there came a Portugal  |
|   ship through the Streight of Gibraltar; and being taken with a     |
|   great tempest, was forced to runne westward more than willingly    |
|   the men would, and at last they fell vpon an island which had      |
|   seuen cities, and the people spake the Portugall toong, and they   |
|   demanded if the Moores did yet trouble Spaine, whence they had     |
|   fled for the loss which they had received by the death of the King |
|   of Spain, Don Roderigo.                                            |
|                                                                      |
|   The boatswaine of the ship brought home a little of the sand, and  |
|   sold it unto a goldsmith of Lisbon, out of the which he had a good |
|   quantitie of gold.                                                 |
|                                                                      |
|   Don Pedro, understanding this, being then gouernor of the realme,  |
|   caused all the things thus brought home, and made knowne, to be    |
|   recorded in the house of Justice.”                                 |
|                                                                      |
|          The Discoveries of the World, by Antonio Galvano.           |
|                                                                      |
| [117] Antilia appears as a large island in the Atlantic in the rare  |
|   maps of Andreas Bianco (1436) and Bartolomeo Pareto (1454). On     |
|   Martin Behaim’s globe (1492) it is placed about eighteen hundred   |
|   miles west of the Canaries. In the earliest maps published after   |
|   the return of Columbus to Spain, Antilia is placed near the newly  |
|   discovered islands of the West Indies.                             |
|                                                                      |
|   The legend upon the accompanying map may be rendered as follows:—  |
|                                                                      |
|   “The island of Antilia was, at some period, discovered by the      |
|   Lusitanians, but the exact time is not known. There have been      |
|   found there in it families who speak Spanish as it was spoken in   |
|   the days of Roderick, who was the last King of Spain in the time   |
|   of the Goths, and they are supposed to have fled to this island    |
|   from the face of the Barbarians who had then invaded Spain. They   |
|   have here one Archbishop with six other Bishops, each of whom has  |
|   his own proper city, hence it is called by many the island of the  |
|   seven cities. The population are strict Christians and abound in   |
|   all this world’s wealth.”                                          |
|                                                                      |
| [118] In the first voyage of Columbus the vessels left the Canaries  |
|   on the 6th of September and arrived off Guanahani on the night     |
|   of the 11th of October, having been thirty days at sea. They had   |
|   traversed a distance, according to the Admiral’s journal, of 1,092 |
|   leagues or 3,276 miles. On the second voyage from the Canaries to  |
|   Dominica they left on the 3rd of October and arrived on the 3rd of |
|   November. Upon the last voyage, Columbus left Ferro (one of the    |
|   Canary islands) on the 26th of May and reached St. Lucia in the    |
|   West Indies on the 15th of June. This was a quick passage and only |
|   occupied twenty days.                                              |
|                                                                      |
|   In the Vestal, a sailing frigate of 26 guns, we left the island    |
|   of Gran Canaria in the year 1852, on the morning of the 27th of    |
|   September, and passed between Antigua and Guadeloupe at noon on    |
|   the 16th of October after a voyage of nineteen days, having sailed |
|   over a distance of 2,800 miles. During the whole of this time we   |
|   were running before the wind with our studding sails set, steering |
|   West. A favourable N.E. wind prevails from Florida to Yucatan and  |
|   the Mexican coast. With respect to Columbus’s first voyage it      |
|   should be observed that his landfall at Guanahani was four or five |
|   days’ sail further west than the islands of Dominica and St.       |
|   Lucia.                                                             |
|                                                                      |

Transcriber’s Notes:
 - Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).
 - Redundant title page has been removed.
 - Blank pages have been removed.
 - Silently corrected typographical errors.
 - Spelling and hyphenation variations made consistent.
 - Page 416: Nicuaragua corrected to Nicaragua.
 - Anchor added for footnote 111.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Travels Amongst American Indians - Their Ancient Earthworks and Temples" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.