صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

a non lucendo; she is represented as carrying two children in her arms.

The personal history of this second Quetzalcohuatl is as remarkable as that of the first. He was born A.D. 839, and brought up as just mentioned. When he was eight years old, his father was murdered by three of the leading chiefs. The boy was saved by a band of attendants called the sacred companions," who carried him off, and concealed him until he was old enough to avenge his father's murder. Eiglit years afterward he secretly dug a mine leading to the great temple of Cuitlahuac, where he surprised and slew the murderers. IIe caused his father's remains to be buried with great ceremony, and then disappeared for more than fifteen years.

Every scholar will be struck with the resemblance of this story to that of Orestes, who was eight years old when his father, Agamemnon, was murdered, was saved and concealed by his nurse, until eight years more had elapsed, when he returned to Mycenæ, surprised and slew the murderers, and then went away on a pilgrimage of atonement! We are tempted to ask whether, in filling up these particulars in the life of their Mexican hero, Messrs. De Bourbourg and Aubin were not a little aided by their classical reminiscences. They have not, however, given him a Pylades, but they have made him turn his pilgrimage to better account than Orestes did his; for he returned to Mexico with a number of followers of foreign extraction, accomplished in a variety of arts, sciences, and systems of philosophy unknown to the Toltecs. Where could he have been? Peru, perhaps, or China, or Japan. His learning and his noble appearance excited universal admiration. Ile landed at Penuco, whence it may be inferred that he had visited Cuba. Having crossed the plains of the Cuextlan, he built a stone bridge over that river, (A.D. 870,) which was standing in the time of the Spaniards. He reached Tollantzinco, where, aided by "the sacred companions,” he spread the doctrines he had learned abroad. Here is ground for speculation. These doctrines are described by M. De Bourbourg as being a mixture of pantheism and idolatry, similar to those of the Hindoo8. * Had he been to India? If so, he must have gone and returned by sea, though why, in such case, he should turn up on the Atlantic side of Mexico instead of the Pacific is a mystery. If he had really visited Asia or Europe, how passing strange it is that no trace of the visit of this illustrious and royal traveller should be found in the history of any nation of the Old World! Can it be that the whole story is an invention of — no matter who? The death of the reigning king happened opportunely three years after the return of Quetzalcohuatl, (A.D. 873,) whom the people raised to the throne by acclamation. He devoted himself to beautifying the city of Tollan, and to the suppression of the practice of offering human sacrifices. He had evidently learnt humanity in his travels. He also, says the historian, founded monasteries and an order of recluses. He may have taken a hint from the Nestorians whom he met with in China, or from the Christians of St. Thomas, whom he saw in India. But these “ reforms excited the hostility of the priests, who got up a revolt. To avoid bloodshed, he resigned the throne, amid the lamentations of his subjects, and retired to the city of Huitzilapan, (A.D. 895.) There he made his beneficent, presence felt. Temples and public works were constructed under his direction, and the famous city of Cholullan was founded. But his enemies followed him with a powerful army, carrying fire and sword with them. Then he appeared in a new character - that of a coward-for, in spite of the remonstrances of his new subjects, who offered to stand by him to the last, he fled to Cuetlahtlan, (now Cotasta, in Vera Cruz,) where he embarked on board a slip, went to sea, and was never heard of again. It must be confessed that this was an ignominious exit for a hero. His illustrious contemporaries, Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, and Haroun Al Raschid, encountered dangers as great as those which threatened him, but came out of their trials very differently.

* Vol. i. p. 256.

Huémac, who had driven away Quetzalcohuatl, destroyed Cholullan, but was so charmed with the beauty of the site that he rebuilt and beautified the city and took up his abode there. He set up his own statue in all the temples and ordered that it should be worshipped. Thousands of human victims were offered up to the new deity. But his career came to an untimely end; for his subjects at Tollan revolted and proclaimed another king. And Huémac, having met his foes near Lake Tezcuco, was miserably defeated : his army was cut to pieces, and he disappeared and was never seen again, (A.D. 930.) His fanatical followers, thinking this disappearance miraculous, worshipped him as the vivifier of all things !

The victor, Nauhystl, became master of the entire empire ; and in order to immortalize his name, he erected a temple to the goddess of Frogs, who soon became one of the most popular of the Toltec deities, and an order of priests was instituted to serve her. To the same epoch may be referred the institution of the expiatory feasts of Camaxtli, whereat the captives taken in war were sacrificed to that god. The worship of Tlaloc, god of the waters, also came into vogue: to him were sacrificed every year, at seed-time, a boy and a girl of four years old, who were to be children of the highest nobles; and, when the harvest ripened, four children of a riper age were also sacrificed by being left to perish in an obscure cavern, without light or food.

It would be wearisome to trace the history of the revolts, usurpations, civil wars, and crimes which fill the greater por- . tion of the century following the victory at Tezcuco. Suffice it to say that under the administration of licentious rulers, the affairs of the nation ultimately fell into irretrievable confusion. Civil war broke out, and to its horrors were added a desolating pestilence and a famine which swept off thousands of the miserable people. All sorts of evils devastated the land; but the greatest of all was the sudden appearance of an immense horde of savages from Texas, California, and New Mexico, the ancestors of the Apaches and Camanches of the present day. They ravaged the north and north-east of the empire; then they descended like a torrent on the plains of the Anahuac. The To). tecs resolved to abandon their country, and those who escaped from the murderous savages fled to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Yucatan, and Honduras, where they founded kingdoms. But their delightful abodes on the plains of Anahuac were utterly destroyed; their great cities of Tollan, Testihuacan, Culhuacan, Atompan, and others equally famous were reduced to heaps

of ruins, and the country was made a wilderness. And thus ended the Toltec empire, (A.D. 1070.)

A large portion of M. De Bourbourg's work is devoted to tracing the fortunes of the exiled Toltecs, whose ruined cities have been so graphically described by Stephens in his Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. But we shall confine ourselves to the history of Mexico, which occupies the concluding portion of the work. After the devastation of the territories which formed the ancient Toltec empire, those savages who had achieved it were in their turn pressed upon by others from the north. A great emigration to the south had set in, the cause of which is unknown, and has excited much speculation. It is now that, for the first time, we hear of the Mexicans, or Mexicas, a name derived from one of their earliest chiefs, Mexitl. They were an Aztec tribe, who quitted their native country, Aztlan, about the year 1090, and after some years of wandering, rested at Chicomoztoc, (A.D. 1116,) where reigned a powerful prince named Mateuczomatzin, (transformed by the Spaniards into the more euphonious and easily remembered name of Montezuma.) They abode eleven years at Chicomoztoc; thence they sojourned successively at Acahualtzinco, (now San Juan del Rio,) Coatepec, Tepeyrac, and Chapultepec, where they fortified themselves. This pilgrimage lasted seventy years, (1116–1186.) But where was Aztlan ? and who were the Aztecs? These questions cannot be answered with any degree of certainty. The Spanish missionaries among the Indians, in the sixteenth century, say that the name of Aztahan was given by the natives to the river Huaqui or Yaqui. In the ancient manuscripts this name is often confounded with Aztlan: sometimes the two are joined together. Sometimes Aztlan is combined with Chicomoztoc and represented as a very large city situated on an island, the abode of the ancestors of the Mexicans. It was in the dominions of Montezuma, where were two other great cities, Aztlan-Aztatlan and Teo-Culhuacan. In the regions between the Yaqui and the Colorado are found the imposing ruins known as “the great houses of Montezuma.” Immense ruins bearing this title are found on the banks of the Gila, and here, doubtless, at a remote period, before the invasion of the Toltec empire in the

eleventh century, the Aztecs held sway. But why did they emigrate southward ? This has hitherto remained a mystery.

Traces of a civilization similar to that of the Aztecs have been found much further north than Sonora. Gigantic monuments, tumuli, pyramids, and fortifications have been discovered near the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes of the North, and thence down the valley of the Mississippi to the gulf of Mexico. The Teo-Chichimecs, who invaded the Aztec plateau in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, constructed defensive earth-works similar to those found in the north. This race appears to have consisted of a mixed population, a portion being addicted to living in large cities; another portion leading a wandering life; they were, in fact, partly civilized, partly savage. It further appears probable that they were expelled from their settlements near the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and the Canadian lakes, by a fierce race of northern savages, who had gradually driven before them all the civilized races, laying cities and villages in ruins, and whose descendants are at this day pursuing their remorseless mission in Sonora and Chihuahua. These tribes are now known as the Apaches and the Camanches. For more than a thousand years they have been pursuing their fell career, leaving the tracks of their devastating ferocity behind them. The tradition of their cruelty is still preserved in Kentucky, where the slaughter of the native tribes appears to have been so great as to have obtained for that state the name of “The dark and bloody ground.”

It would be tedious as well as unprofitable to bestow much attention on the wars and contests for supremacy between the rival chiefs of the various tribes settled in the valley of Anahuac. Surrounded by powerful enemies, the Mexicans heroically held their ground and preserved their independence, thus showing that their race possessed extraordinary vitality. However, they came very near being entirely destroyed, in the year 1297, when the neighboring kings laid Chapultepec in runis and carried off its population. But their valor found favor for them with the king of Culhuacan, who gave them the island of Tizaopan for their residence, (A.D. 1299, on condition of their serving him in war. The next remarkable event in their history is the foundation of the city of Mexico, (A.D. 1325.) It

« السابقةمتابعة »