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life; and that, in every instance, they were indebted to others more improved than themselves for all their acquisitions. From analogy, we may and must conclude that such will ever be the order of events.
The Mexicans and Peruvians of the new world furnish no exception to the rule. We know very little of their history. We cannot tell whence they derived the few rude arts, which, it is admitted, they possessed when first visited by the Spaniards. It cannot be proved that they had ever been destitute of those arts. The probability is, that these were the remnant which they inherited from their ancestors, who had migrated from the mother country (the original fountain of all the arts), under more favorable auspices, than did those of the neighboring tribes in either North or South America; or, what is more probable, that the latter, in their wanderings, had degenerated and sunk lower in the descending scale than the former. But after all that has been urged in favor of the Mexicans and Peruvians, it can hardly be conceded, that a people, who had not the use of iron in any form among them—who, though possessing the richest mines of gold and silver, knew not how to work them or to extract the pure metal from the ore, and had no more of these precious commodities than what they chanced to find in a virgin state, and who were conquered by a handful of needy and desperate adventurers—could prefer any just claims to the character of civilized.
It has been said by Dr. Robertson and others, that the aborigines of this vast continent must have arrived from a country destitute of the useful and necessary arts, such as the knowledge of working iron, for instance; because these arts can never be lost. Now, in opposition to this whole theory, we have proved from Scripture, that iron was in common use long before the deluge; that Noah and his family must have known and did actually exercise many of the arts confessedly belonging to a civilized state; and that in the countries first settled after the flood, these arts have always flourished; and, consequently, that the fact of any people's existing, on the face of the globe, ignorant of these arts, clearly proves that, at some period, no matter how remote, they must have lost them. If Noah were really the father of the whole human race, and if any portion of his descendants can be found wholly destitute of those arts of primary necessity which he undoubtedly had, and which he imparted to his immediate posterity ; then it follows, that these
necessary arts may have been and must have been utterly lost by such portion of his descendants as are now found without them. It is no matter then whether the American Indians lost them before they reached these shores or long after their arrival hither. The position of the learned historian is untenable. And it cannot fairly enter into the question of the original peopling of this hemisphere.*
III. HISTORY. But how does history confirm our view of the primeval and early state of mankind ? Does history accord either with the deductions of reason or the representations of Scripture, as I have exhibited them? Do not the Greek and Roman historians seem to convey a different account of the matter? Does not the voice of antiquity proclaim that man was once rude, barbarous and savage ? Here, I acknowledge, we are beset with some apparent difficulties in the outset. These, I think, could be easily dissipated, were it not for the prescriptive dominion which the classic authorities have ob
* Mr. Bancroft, in the third volume of his History of the United States, concludes that America was peopled from eastern Asia ; that the Mongolian and Americo-Indian races are identical in origin ; that the epoch of their divergence or separation was at a period so remote, that the peculiar habits, institutions and culture of the aborigines must be regarded as all their own, or as indigenous. “By this hy. pothesis (says a writer in the North American Review, No. 110) he extricates the question from the embarrassment caused by the ignorance which the aborigines have manifested in the use of iron, milk, etc. known to the Mongol hordes, but which he, of course, supposes were not known, at the time of the migration.” When did the Mongols acquire or lose this knowledge? If Noah and his children possessed it, and if both the Mongols and Indians are his descendants, then it must have been lost-at least by some of them.
I incline to the opinion, that most of the American tribes are descended from Ham; and that they migrated to this continent, by way of Africa and the Atlantic ocean, soon after the dispersion at Babel. My notes on this part of the subject, . must wait for room and leave.*
* We shall be happy to allow Di. Lindsley both “room and leave,” within reasonable limits, to bring out the result of his Notes, which we have no doubt are valuable, o.1 the subject which he has here introduced. EDITORS.
tained over our philosophy, as well as over our ordinary habits of reasoning and reflective associations. We have been misled both by their facts and their poetry.
Let it be recollected that the aborigines of Greece and Italy were a barbarous—perhaps savage people. (We shall hereafter see how they became civilized.) It was natural, as they advanced in the arts, for them to conclude that their own primitive condition was really the primitive or original condition of mankind. At any rate, their poets, while giving the reins to romantic fancy, and mingling fact with fiction, delighted in painting the scenes and in celebrating the exploits of savage life and savage daring ; in tracing the progress of human improvement from the rudest beginnings; and by the witchery of harmonious numbers, imparting beauty and order and life and reality to imagination's wildest figments. They never dreamed of a more ancient or more cultivated model of social existence than their own limited, domestic sphere of observation and experience supplied or suggested. These worthy votaries and favorites of Apollo and the Muses, though no conjurors, seem to have been well aware of their high vocation, and to have very liberally availed themselves of the license and the inspiration accorded to them, by common consent, as professors of the “art divine.” Hence, among other “miracula speciosa," by the magic spell of their poetic enchantments, they caused their ancestors to spring up, full grown and completely armed, from dragon's teeth or from their mother earth: and thus conferred upon the natives the distinctive and flattering epithet or title of earthborn ; which was the more grateful to their national vanity, as it excluded or concealed all obligation to a foreign origin or to foreign wisdom.*
The agency of the gods was deemed necessary to restrain and mitigate the furious passions of these presumptuous and
* The Athenians assumed to themselves the appellation aúróxtuves, as though they had been produced from the same earth which they inhabited: and as the ancients commonly denominated themselves Inyevɛīs, sons of the earth, the Athenians took the name of Téttiyes, grasshoppers. In allusion to this designation, many of them wore golden grasshoppers in their hair, as an ornament of distinction, and a badge of their antiquity ; because those insects were thought to have sprung from the ground.
cruel sons of Terra ; who, in some instances during the heroic ages," seem to have outwitted and vanquished Jupiter himself. However, in process of time, by the kindly teachings of Bacchus, Mercury, Janus, Vulcan, Apollo, Ceres, Minerva, and the rest of their good-natured and obliging deities, male and female, these vagrant robbers and cut-throats were converted into honest agriculturists, gentle shepherds and clever artisans.
Thus the poets preoccupied the ground: and long before the sober historian began his chronicle of humble life, they had given universal currency and reputation and sanctity to the theogony and mythology which they themselves invented, or fabricated from the popular superstitions and legends of their own country, or from such historical and biographical facts or mythical traditions as they had collected among the polished nations of the East. The machinery and fables and fancies of poetry soon passed for realities; and thus became associated and incorporated with whatever was held as trųe and sacred in science and religion. When the historian at length appeared, and commenced the record of his country's fame, it was natural for him to look back into ages that were past, and to search for the materials of a regular narrative from the earliest period to his own times. And here he was compelled to have recourse to the prevalent poetic faith of his countrymen, or else to do violence to their prejudices and vanity and superstition, by a bold rejection of their whole system. The latter was not to be expected. Nor did he venture upon the rash experiment. He adopted the vulgar notions which time and poetry had sanctioned and hallowed. He traced their own originand gratuitously referred the origin of other nations—up to a period, more or less indefinitely remote, when the arts and manners of civilized life were yet to be acquired. The same causes also led the philosophers, in their speculations, to erect systems upon a similar basis. With most of these, man was assumed to have been at first but a little in advance of the brute with which he associated in a common forest.* Thus all things conspired to render this doctrine plausible, and to give it a passport to universal acceptance. It became a part of the national creed of the Greeks; and, after them, of the Romans. · Still we, now and then, behold the feeble glimmerings of a ;
* Modern philosophers have commonly started from the same point.
few scattered rays from the sun of truth beaming through the darkening mists of poetic illusion and philosophical refinement. A golden age-a happier state-a brighter, purer, more enlightened period sometimes inspired the Muse's lay, and seemed to point to that Eden of innocence and bliss of which the Bible tells us, and of which some faint traditional remains had escaped the general wreck of historic truth. The gods too, say they, taught the people agriculture and the arts. Was not this merely disguising the fact that they owed all to foreigners ? By their own admission, then, they received extraordinary aid and instruction from some quarter; and it matters not, so far as our argument is concerned, whether the divinity interposed to rescue them from ignorance and barbarism, or whether they derived the same favors from wiser mortals, or from those nations which they denominated barbarians. For thus the Greeks, be it remembered, flattered their own vanity, and manifested their contempt for all other nations, however polished or powerful, by this sweeping sentence of degradation, implied in the contemptuous appellation-barbarians. All their writers, whether poets, historians or philosophers, liberally employed it on every occasion. And thus also did the Romans, in regard to all other nations except the Greeks ;-for to these, they acknowledged themselves debtors exclusively for their own literature, arts, laws and civility. By this preposterous and arrogant procedure, they effectually kept out of view the claims of every other people to greater antiquity and to profounder science than their own. An odious epithet, applied to those whom we fear or hate, or affect to despise, has ever proved the most cogent species of logic which can be addressed to the populace. The Grecian sages, as we shall see, knew better.
But what, after all, do their historians say on this subject ? Their conjectures ought to go for nothing their statements, built on fable and fiction and national prejudice and vanity, must go for nothing. What they themselves saw and heard and examined, and what they learned from authentic sources, we will believe. Thus far their authority deserves our respectful consideration and claims our assent, but no further. Does Herodotus then, the father of profane history, tell us of barbarous nations, of savage tribes and hordes? Yes: and there were many such in his day, as there were in the days of Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Cæsar, Livy and Tacitus; and as there have been ever since. But what says Herodotus respecting Assyria,