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men who sowed the seeds of Christianity, and laid the foundation of civilized society on this continent.
To attempt a general review of the volumes was altogether out of the question, and though we have by no means exhausted the topics which we selected as likely to be interesting for their novelty, if for no other cause, still we believe that enough has been produced to shew how unfounded is the argument which some very elegant and admired European writers have attempted to build upon the allegation, that the Christian missionaries found in South-America entire and extensive nations, in which there never had been any religion, and whose inbabitants not only had no form of worship, but that the existence of a God was never known to them or to their progenitors.
We have in vain sought for some evidence in those volumes, of the splendid worship of the Peruvians, which has so often dazzled our young imagination, and led us to consider the people of this El Dorado, as something far beyond what our blanketted brethren of these states now exhibit; once we turned eagerly to the account of Pisco, in whose vicinity is a mountain, wbich was in former days, the great station for the adorers of the sun. Though we did not seek such ruins as those of Athens, nor calculate upon beholding what might vie with the Coliseum or the Pantheon ; yet we did expect something, considerably less, it is true, than the Pyramids or the Sphinx. We had determined to be satisfied with even less than a remnant of one of the hundred gates of Thebes. We met only the following in a letter from Father Morghen to the Marquis of Reybac, dated at Guacho, on the 20th of September, 1755:
“Two or three leagues from this (Pisco) is a mountain, where it is pretended the Indians formerly used to assemble to adore the sun. There is a tradition that those savages used to throw from the acclivity of this mountain into the sea, pieces of gold, of silver, and of emerald, which abounded in this country, together with a quantity of other jewels
ch they had. This mountain is so famous in the province, that it is the first object of a stranger's curiosity upon his arrival. I followed this established custom, but found nothing worthy of a traveller's notice."
Father Morghen is but the relator of what was seen by a companion, for his letter to the Marquis is compiled from the observations of another missionary; but he had a good opportunity of forming a correct opinion in several instances from his own observation, and in others, as well from conversing with his brethren, as from reading their notes and narratives. Perhaps, several of our readers, after the perural of this article, will be disposed to agree with his remark to the Marquis.
“I have not forgotten the glowing pictures which you once gave me of this country, but I beg leave to assure you they by no means resemble the original, and that the travellers who have suggested those notions to us, have taken less pains to give true statements, than to delight the minds or their readers. I am far from saying that Peru is one of those sterile and wild regions which has nothing pleasing for strangers. There certainly might be found here many singularities to draw the attention of curious travellers; but there must be a serious deduction made from the stock of notions which an European has formed. You will judge by the recital of the missionary, whose mere copyist I might call myself.
We shall conclude the view of South-America, with the following extract from the same letter :
“In leaving the territory of Pisco, I entered upon the province of Chinca, whose capital is at present a small Indian village of the same name. Formerly it was a powerful city which contained nearly two hundred thousand inhabitants; they used to count their population by millions in this province, but to-day it is nearly a desert; there is a remnant of something over two hundred families. I found on my road some monuments which had been erected to preserve the recollection of those giants who are mentioned in Peruvian history; and who were struck by thunder for crimes similar to what formerly brought down fire from heaven upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Indians furnish the following tradition: They state that during a deluge, by which their country was inundated, they retired to the tops of the hills until the waters flowed off into the sea ; that when they descended to the plains, they found there men of an extraordinary stature, who waged a cruel war upon them; those who escaped from its desolation, were obliged to take refuge in the caves of the mountains; where having remained for some years, they perceived in the sky a young man, who launched thunder against the giants, and upon the destruction of those usurpers, the refugees were enabled to re-possess their ancient domains. One cannot learn when this deluge occurred; perhaps, it was partial, like that of Deucalion and Pyrrha, in Thessaly, in the account of which ancient authors have left us a mingling of truth and fable. As regards the existence and the crimes of the giants, I shall give no opinion, especially as the monuments which fell under my view, have no characteristic of antiquity. The traces of the famous wars which have devastated this province, have something more of reality. Once a charming country, it is now a vast desert, which saddens you by the recollection of the unhappy lot of its ancient inhabitants; one cannot pursue his journey through it without feelings of awe; and the tranquil melancholy of the few Indians whom he meets, appears to remind him incessantly of the misfortunes and death of their ancestors. These Indians most fondly preserve the recollection of the last of their Incas. They assemble occasionally to celebrate his memory. They sing verses in his praise, and perform upon their futes such melodiously mournful and pathetic airs, as to create sympathy in all who hear them. Persons have seen striking effects of this
music. Two Indians melted by its strains, some days since cast themselves from the summit of a craggy mouutain to rejoin their prince, and render to him in another world, those services which they would have gladly paid to him here. This tragic scene is frequently renewed, and thus eternizes in the Indian mind, the affecting recollection of their progenitors' calamities."
We have thus taken a pretty extensive view of the materials which these volumes furnish respecting the religion of our Aborigines. They were idolatrous polytheists, having a variety of rule, barbarous, and too often demoralizing rites in their ceremonial. They were grossly superstitious. Superstition is the relying upon any rite or observance for an effect, which it is not calculated by its own nature to produce; or which has not in the si sernatural order been attached or promised to its performat e by God, who can, if he will, certainly bestow the effect on such an occasion by his own power, without using the natural cause. Neither the nature of the act nor the revelation of the Godhead led the Indian to his expectation ; he blindly observed the rites, and foolishly expected, without any rational grounds, a result for which no sufficient cause existed. And the superstition varied with the caprice of those who had the power to regulate; this power was established sometimes by force, often upon accident, not unusually by the observance of some custom that might, in its origin, have been rational, but obscured, perverted, misunderstood and misapplied, degenerated into a sort of mysterious tradition of a forgotten date, and an unexplained import ; the blind and obstinate adherence to which is, indeed, the very essence of this criminal folly.
We are of opinion that amongst various tribes, similarity of religious observances goes far to prove a common origin ; and impressed as we are, with a belief in the probability of the occupation of our soil in the first instance, by an Asiatic race, whether Persian, Hindoo or Chinese, whether the colonists were Chinese of an Hindoo descent, or were the children of the various southern and eastern portions of that continent, who, in their canoes, were borne from spot to spot, as resting places in the Pacific, till they reached our shores; whilst the more hardy sons of Northern Asia, having penetrated through the Scandinavian woods, deluged the older Europe, we cannot well determine. But when we recollected the sun-worship of Persia, and the Gheber's fire; when we knew of the fidelity of the widow of the east, and found also amongst several of the Asiatic tribes, customs similar to those which we observe at this side of the globe; we were anxious to discover some authentic account
of the Mexican and Peruvian worship, as those nations appeared to us to rank foremost in civilization amongst our red brethren. Our readers have seen how little we have been able to learn as regards the latter, and we have nothing of the former. In looking through the four volumes which lie before us, we have found the most copious and detailed account of the worship of the sun, and some other religious observances to be that which Father Petit furnishes us respecting the Natchez, and with which we shall conclude this article.
“ Their religon, in many points, comes very near that of the ancient Romans; they have a temple filled with idols; these idols are the different figures of men and animals to which they pay the most profound veneration. Their temple in its form, resembles an oven of earth, about one hundred feet in circumference; it is entered by a little
ur feet high, and not more than three in breadth: in it ere is no window to be seen. The circular roof of the edifice is covered with three layers of mats placed one upon the other, to prevent the rains from wearing away the masonry. Above these, and outside of the building, are three figures of eagles in wood, painted red, yellow and white. Before the door is a kind of shed, with a double door, where the guardian of the temple is lodged ; all around extends an enclosure of palisades, upon which are fixed the skulls of all the heads which their warriors have brought back from the battles which they have fought with the enemies of their nation.
“In the interior of the temple are shelves disposed at regular distances, one above the other. Upon these are placed baskets of cane of an oval figure, in which are enclosed the bones of their ancient chiefs, and by the side of them those of the victims who are strangled to follow their masters to the other world; one other shelf, separated from the rest, supports many wide, well-painted baskets, in which their idols are preserved; these are figures of men and women made of stone and baked earth; heads and tails of uncommon serpents; stuffed owls ; pieces of crystal and jaw-bones of large fish. They had there in the year 1699, a bottle and the foot of a glass, of which they took peculiar care.
They take great pains to keep in this temple a perpetual fire, and their attention is required to hinder it from blazing; for that purpose, they use nothing but the dry wood of the walnut tree or the oak. "The old men are obliged to carry, each in his turn, a large billet into the enclosure of the palisade. The number of the guardians of the temple is fixed, and thy serve by the quarter. He that is upon duty, stands, like a sentinel, under the shed, whence he examines if the fire is in danger of being extinguished; he supplies it with two or three large billets, which are kept burning only at the extremity, and which, in order to avoid a blaze, are never placed one upon the other.
“Of all the women, none but the sisters of the Great Chief have the privilege of entering into the temple; to all others, admittance is prohibited, as also to the common people, even when they bring food to the manes of their relations, whose bones are reposing in the temple. These meat offerings are given to the guardian, who carries them to the side of VOL. II.NO. 4.
the basket where are the bones of the deceased: this ceremony continues only during one moon. The eatables are then cast over the palisades of the enclosure, and are abandoned to wild beasts.
“ The sun is the principal object of worship among these people. As they conceive nothing superior to this luminary, nothing, therefore, appears to them more worthy of their homage: and for the same reason, their Grand Chief who knows nothing upon earth superior to himself, takes the title of Brother of the Sun. The credulity of the people preserves for him the despotic authority which he assumes. To maintain for hiin a stricter obedience, a mound is raised with earth brought for the purpose, whereon is built his hut, which is of the same construction as the temple, with its door towards the rising sun. Every morning the Great Chief honors with his presence the rising of his elder brother, and hails with many howlings his appearance above the horizon. Next he orders his calumet to be lighted, and makes him an offering of the three first mouthfuls of smoke which he inhales; then elevating his hands above his head, and turning himself from the east to the west, he points out to him the course which he must pursue in his journey.
“When the Grand Chief dies, his hut is demolished, and a new mound is raised, whereon is built the hut of the successor to his dignity, who never dwells in the lodging of his predecessor. There are old men who teach the laws to the rest of the people ; one of the principal of these is to have a sovereign respect for the Grand Chief, as being brother of the sun and master of the temple. They believe in the immortality of the soul. When they leave this world, they go, say they, to inhabit another, there to be rewarded or punished.' The rewards which they promise themselves, consist principally in good cheer, and the punishment in a privation of all pleasure. Thus they believe that those who have been faithful observers of their laws, will be conducted to a region of delight, where all sorts of the most exquisite viands will be furnished them in abundance; that their days will glide away pleasantly and calmly in the midst of festivities, of dances and women; in fine, that they will taste of all imaginable pleasures : that on the contrary, the violators of their laws will be cast upon lands sterile, and covered with water; that they will have no kind of grain ; that they will be exposed entirely naked to the piercing bites of musquitoes; that all nations will make war against them; that they will never eat meat, and, that they will be fed with nothing but the flesh of alligators, of bad fish and shell fish.
“One of the principal articles of their religion, especially as concerns the domestics of the Grand Chief, is to honor his funeral ceremonies by dying with him, for the purpose of serving him in the other world; these blinded creatures submit themselves willingly to this law, in the foolish persuasion, that in the suite of their chief, they are going to enjoy very great happiness.
" To form some idea of this bloody ceremony, it must be known that whenever a presumptive heir to the Grand Chief is born, each family that las a child at the breast must do homage to him on its account. From all these infants, a certain number is chosen, who are destined to