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as completely as thouglı they had never existed. What vestiges have been left of the Northmen who visited Virginia, Massachusetts, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia? Perhaps a few inscriptions, cut with iron implements upon rucks in unknown or doubtful characters, and hieroglyphics. Respecting these inscriptions, it may be observed that the Indians were ignorant of their existence, and also of the art of working with iron. They learned both from the English after the settlement of the country by the latter. The meaning of the

. inscriptions is matter of conjecture, and it is by no means certain that they were cut by the Northmen, although some antiquaries and learned men, who have closely examined them, have thought they had discovered Runic characters in them; while others have thought them to be of Phoenician origin. This was especially the case with the inscription on the block of granite found at the mouth of the river Taunton,* Massachusetts.

The truth is, however, that no satisfactory explanation of the history and meaning of these inscriptions has been given, and conjectures, however plausible, cannot be accepted as evidence. They are not much more authentic than the famous stone submitted by Mr. Pickwick to the Pickwick Club, with its mystic inscription, which was at first thought to be Roman, but on closer examination turned out to be cockney English. The wide extent of country in which these inscription rocks have been found is a strong argument against their being of Norse origin. They have been discovered in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Georgia, Kentucky, and Western Pennsylvania, the two last-named States being too far inland to have been reached by the Northmen; the latter never claimed to have done more than explore the western coasts and the Arctic regions.

The discovery of a quantity of copper coins at Medford, Mass., in 1787, is another piece of evidence that that portion of the country had been visited by foreigners. The coins were found concealed under a flat stone, and were in quantity about two quarts. They bore no similitude to any known coins, nor could any work on numismaties throw light on their origin, though some Russian coins contain a figure resembling one that appeared on the face of them. The way in which our continent has been settled, the ruthless destruction of forests, the reckless clearing out of natural obstacles, the blasting of rocks, the digging of quarries, the building of houses, bridges, wharves, the cutting of roads and excavating for railroads, all with a view to immediate profit, have caused many objects of interest to the liistorian and the archæologist to disappear. This has been particularly the case in Rhode Island. Mr. Webb, secretary to the Rhode Island Historical Society, in a letter to the Royal Antiquarian Society of Copenhagen, dated 30th November, 1834, says : “In onr former communication we stated that an Inscription Rock was said to have been on Gardiner's Point, and also one in Tiverton. I hare marked a spot with India ink on the chart at each of those places in reference to the tradition, although none such have been found by us. The one in Tiverton, we have marked near Howland's Ferry Bridge, because we apprehend that this shared the fate common to all rocks in that vicinity for some distance round, when the last bridge was built at that place in 1909, which was constructed by dropping immense quantities of stones of all dimensions into the water till a rampart was raised above the surface of the highest side. The water here at the lowest tide is fifty-one feet.” *

* Yates & Moulton. Hist. of State of New York, p. 86.

This wholesale appropriation of the inaterials nearest at hand for building purposes has not been peculiar to the people of Rhode Island. It has prevailed whererer men of European extraction have settled, and at the present day no American engineer, in laying out a railroad or canal, would hesitate a moment to cut through any one of the great mounds of Ohio if it lay in his way; no“ venerable oaks” are safe from the axe of the woodman or the builder; nor are ancient intramural cemeteries respected when it is desired to lay out a new street. The sentiment of veneration for antiquity has yet to take root in the American character.

* Antiquitates americanæ, p. 372.

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Dr. Schoolcraft believed that traces of Prince Madoc's expedition to this continent had been found near Wheeling in Western Virginia. Madoc was a son of Owen Gwyneth, a king of Wales. In the year 1170, he made a voyage across the Atlantic with a number of followers, and founded a colony somewhere on this continent. Ile seems to have been so well satisfied with the locality that he returned to Wales for more colonists, and persuaded ten ship-loads of his countrymen to accompany him to his new settlement here. They sailed from Wales and were never heard of more. “ The story of Madoc," says Schoolcraft,* “is an almost unexampled problem in American history, having never been scrutinized by the lights of philology, and the careful investigation of the monuments of distinctive intrusion, which exist. That the ancient Celtic character has been found in Western Virginia, appears incontestable. These evidences were first announced in 1838."

. A small, thin, flat, oval stone was discovered bearing on it characters of an apparently alphabetical value. The discovery was communicated to the Royal Society of Antiquaries, of Copenhagen, in 1841, and Professor Rask was disposed to think it of Celtiberian origin.”+ It was thought by the Romans that the British tribe of the Silures, who inliabited South Wales, were descendants of the Iberians of Spain. But notwithstanding the positive manner in which Dr. Schoolcraft speaks of the discovery of Celtic characters on the stone alluded to, the evidence which he adduces in support of it is but slight. There was a large oak standing on the top of the mound within which the stone was found. The cortical layers of this oak were counted in order to ascertain its age, but there was serious disagreement as to the number, Mr. Clemens estimating them at 300,] and Mr. Tomlinson at 500.5 This is a point of great importance, inaking all the difference between the year 1338 and 1538, which latter date is 16 years

* Schoolcraft's Ethnological Researches, Vol. v. p 34. † Vide the Society's Memoirs, 1840, 1843, p 135. | Tacitus. $ Ethnol Res., Vol. i. p 120. | Trans. Am. Ethnol. Soc. Vol. i. | Am. Pioneer, p. 199.


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after the discovery of the continent by Columbus.
discovery, but it is a mere façon de parler, for Columbus did
not, properly speaking, discover America; he stumbled upon it
in his search for a western route to India. But neither num-
ber carries the date back to 1170.

Nor is it clear that the Scandinavians considered America a new continent, or that they verified any geograp:sical theory by their bold voyages. It is certain that their primitive maps of the bays of New York, Delaware, and Chesapeake, as published at Copenhagen, bear a name that is translated Great Island. Their exploits attracted attention at home, and the fame of them reached other parts of Europe. It is known, moreover, that Columbus himself had been attracted by them, and that he visited Iceland for the purpose of verifying what he had heard, and increasing the sum of facts on which his theory was based. We applaud him because he meant to make a discovery, and not for his accidental finding of this continent. The reason for giving it the name of “ Great Island” has been already stated. The aborigines seem to have no other name for it than “the Great Island," and their prevalent tradition was that it rose out of the “big waters," or ocean; also that plants and animals were created before man; and that after the creation of the first human tribe, “the Eagwehoewe people," some of them became giants. In their traditions there are many points of resemblance to Genesis; and the ancient Zoaroastrian doctrine, of a good principle and an evil one ruling the world, but in perpetual antagonism to each other, was also held by them. Probably this was the natural and unavoidable belief of all nations which had not attained to any high intellectual development. They would perceive the existence of good and evil, but, being unable to explain why evil should exist in defiance of the good principle, they concluded that it must be coëqual and coëternal with its antagonist.

There are other religious features which prevail among some of the Indian tribes that indicate their Asiatic origin. Such is the practice of cutting their arms and legs to denote sorrow for the dead, as was customary among the Phænicians


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and Carthagenians, the Canaanites and Syrians. Then there was the worship of the sun, though this was but faintly developed among the northern tribes. It prevailed chiefly among the Mexicans, the Toltecs, and the Aztecs, and in Central and South America. The red men of the forest were believers in the immortality of the soul and its reunion with the body; they also beliered that their favorite animals would be with them in the happy hunting grounds of the next world. And, like the Hindoos and Chinese, they worshipped the spirits of their ancestors, placed cakes on their graves, and, like the Greeks, poured out libations. A Hebraic origin has been attributed to the aborigines of America, according to the theory which derives all mankind from the descendants of Noah, specified in the tenth chapter of Genesis. And the attempt has been made to establish this origin by tracing out resemblances to the Hebrews, in the sound, orthography, and definition of words in the aboriginal languages, but it does not appear that these resemblances are sufficient to be conclusive evidence on the point. This Hebraic theory is as yet in a conjectural state.*

Having now examined all the traditions of ths anteColumbian visits of foreigners to this country, we will turn to the Indians themselves, in order to ascertain what their condition was at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards, and what traces remain of their ancient history. The latter task is one resembling the process known as “looking for a needle in a haystack," but the search after truth is its own reward to the inquiring mind. At the close of the fifteenth century, this continent was inhabited by the Mexicans, south of the Rio Grande, who were ruled by the conquering Aztecs; the empire of the latter extending into California and Arizona. Over the northern portion of the continent, from the Rio Grande to the Arctic regions, roved wild tribes of red men, who subsisted mainly by hunting. It is a mistake to suppose that they were

* The subject of the religion of the red men was fully treated in an article in the National Quarterly Review, No. XIII, June, 1863, under the heading, “ Theology of the American Indians.”


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