Page images
PDF
EPUB

perfect form of the largest became at every step more and more visibly distinct, and the terraces could now be counted. We rode first to the lesser, which is the most dilapidated of the two, and ascended to the top, over masses of fallen stone and ruins of masonry, with less difficulty than we expected. On the summit are the remains of an ancient building, forty-seven feet long and fourteen wide; the walls are principally of unhewn stone, three feet thick and eight feet high; the entrance at the south end, with' three windows on each side, and on the north end it appears to have been divided at about a third of its length. At the front of the building, with the great pyramid before us, and many smaller ones at our feet, we sat down to contemplate the scene of ancient wonders :-where the eye takes in the greater part of the vale of Mexico, its lake and city, and commands an extensive view of the plains beneath and the mountains that bound the west of the valley.

. We soon arrived at the foot of the largest pyramid, and began to ascend. It was less difficult than we expected, though, the whole way up, lime and cement are mixed with fallen stones. The terraces are perfectly visible, particularly the second, which is about thirty, eight feet wide, covered with a coat of red cement eight or ten inches thick, composed of small pebble-stones and lime. In many places, as you ascend, the nopal trees have destroyed the regularity of the steps, but no where injured the general figure of the square, which is as perfect in this respect as the great pyramid of Egypt. We every where observed broken pieces of instruments like knives, arrow and spear heads, &c. of obsidian, the same as those found on the small hills of Chollula ; and, on reaching the summit, we found a flat surface of considerable size, but which has been much broken and disturbed. On it was probably a temple or other building report says, a statue covered with gold. We rested some time on the summit, enjoying one of the finest prospects imaginable, in which the city of Mexico is included. Here I found fragments of small statues and earthenware, and, what surprised me more, pysler-shells, the first that I had seen in Mexico; they are a new species, and I have brought specimens home. In descending I also found some ornamental pieces of earth, enware, the pattern one of which is in relief, much resembling those of China, the other has a grotesque human face. On the north-east side, at about half way down, at some remote period, an opening has been attempted. This should have been from the south to the north, and on a level with the ground, or only a few feet above it; as all the remains of similar buildings have been found to have their entrances in that direction. Dr. Oteyza, who has given us the measure of these pyramids, makes the base of the largest six hundred and forty-fivé feet in length, and one hundred and seventy-one in perpendicular height. I should certainly consider that the latter measurement is considerably too little, and that the altitude is about half the breadth. As to the age of the pyramids, and the people by whom they were erected, all must be a matter of mere conjecture; no one whom I could meet with in Mexico knew or cared any thing about them. None of the inhabitants had even been to see them, though, from the cathedral, both of them, as well as Tescosingo, containing the bath of Montezuma, are distinctly visible.

• Yet no person in that neighbourhood could give me the least information respecting these wonderful structures :-on asking an old Indian woman we met near the pyramids, if she could tell who made them, she replied, “ Si Signior, St. Francisco.”............

• The result of this little excursion of three days has thoroughly convinced me of the veracity of the Spanish writers, whose account of the cities, their immense population, their riches, and progress of the arts among the Mexicans, are doubted by those who have never seen the country. I firmly believe all that the intelligent and indefa. tigable Abbé Clavigero has related of his countrymen. Had Mon. sieur de Pauw, or our better informed countryman Robertson, passed one hour in Tezcuco, Tezcosingo, or Huexotla, they would never have supposed for a moment that the palace of Montezuma in Mexico was a clay cottage, or that the account of the immense population was a fiction.'

Mr. Bullock draws a very favourable picture of the Mexican Indians, characterising them as a simple, innocent, happy

people,' moreover as cleanly, and right good Roman Catholics. He witnessed the celebration of the fête of one of their patron saints, in the Indian village of Tilotepec; and

never shall I forget,' he says, “the scenery of this place, nor ' the happiness and simplicity of the multitudes by whom its

streets were thronged. The procession consisted of several thousand Indians, perfectly clean, orderly, and welldressed, preceded by four trumpeters, the clergy, with the statue of the Virgin and a band of fiddlers, bringing up the rear. The patron saint was borne by eight Indian girls, followed by four hundred women, four a-breast, each with a lighted taper. The evening concluded with fire-works and merriment, to which pulque and a pleasant liquor prepared from the dregs of newly distilled spirits' somewhat contributed. But

none were rude-all was happiness and pleasure.' How far advanced are these poor Indians above the common people of England! Our folks would infallibly have got drunk in honour of their saint, and been most rudely jolly. But it is consoling to think, that the Arcadia of the poets is not a mere fiction, being realized in the valleys of Mexico; and under circumstances, too, adapted to shew that the poets are right in their views of human nature, and that the philosophers and divines are wrong. Here is a people in whom it would indeed be folly to be wise, so blissful is their ignorance; they stand in need neither of a good government, nor of political freedom, nor of religious knowledge, but, destitute of all these, are, thanks to the Virgin and the saints, innocent and happy without them.

This is a digression, however, and it is too late to return to

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Mexico. Our readers may rely upon hearing more respecting that country very shortly. In the meantime, we tender our thanks to Mr. Bullock for his entertaining volume and his praiseworthy exertions. He will excuse our passing remarks, in consideration of our cordial recommendation of both his book and his exhibition to the notice of our readers.

Art. V. The Modern Traveller. A popular Description, Geographi.

cal, Historical, and Topographical, of the various Countries of the Globe, Parts I. II. III. IV. Containing Palestine and Syria.

(Maps and plates.) 28. 6d. each. London. 1824. THIS is a singularly well-timed, and, so far as the parts

hitherto published enable us to judge, an exceedingly well executed publication. Within comparatively a few years, geographical science and its collateral investigations, have been cultivated with an ardour, and prosecuted with an eagerness and a heedlessness of personal inconvenience and hazard, that have brought to light an immense variety of facts and elucidations of the most interesting and important nature. Few portions of the globe remain wholly unexplored ; and concerning those wbich have not as yet been subjected to actual scrutiny, a considerable mass of valuable information has been obtained from collateral and incidental sources. Great improvements, too, have taken place in the modes of research and narration. Instead of an indiscriminate amalgamation of fact and fable, hearsay and actual inspection, the most cautious discrimination is made an indispensible prerequisite to the reception of testimony. The love of the marvellous, which looked, in the olden time, to voyages and distant journeyings—the mysterious realms of Prester John, or the glittering wonders of Ind and Cathay-for its gratification, is now content with humbler food, the diablerie of Germany, and the tawdry inventions of the Viscompte d’Arlincour. A more legitimate source of entertainment is furnished by personal anecdote, historical and biographical inquiries, local description, and antiquarian research. At the same time it must be confessed, that there is still room for improvement. Travellers are of different calibres; they are a little too apt to imagine that what has gratified themselves, must be interesting to others ; they pay too little attention to previous statements, and are rather overfond of telding again what has been better told before. Our excellent friends the booksellers must come in for a share of the blame. Without, for a moment, venturing to attribute their excessive predilection for quartos to any but the most liberal and disinterested motives, we may be permitted to hint, that it has a disastrous effect on the character of this branch of literature. The information which would be respectable in an octavo, will but coldly furnish forth a tome of larger bulk ; and when all

the artifices of typography fail to stretch it out, the author : must be drawn upon for supplementary, and too frequently for

supererogatory matter. Now, how feelingly soever, as writers, we may sympathize with the author, as readers the case is very different. Our time, our patience, and our purse, fail before this protracting and extenuating process, and we give a cordial welcome to any publication that may give us the genuine information, without the overlay of paint and filigree; or at least, only so much of the latter as may conduce to the real decoration and connexion of the substantial matter.

At the same time we cannot help feeling suspicious, in the first instance, of such publications as the present. We have seen so many of them, that have come forth with the highest pretensions, prove nothing more than' mere jobs of trade, that we are instinctively on our guard when we take them in hand, against anticipated charlatanism. Their aspect is ominous ;they wear a base livery; they are redolent of paste; they betray the mangling of the scissars. Instead of exhibiting the Jabour and the skill which such compilations, more than most others, demand, they display the redundant symptoms of work by contract; and we feel, in turning them over, all the annoyance which results from the double mischief of a good thing marred in the execution, and operating as a hindrance to a more spirited undertaking,

From all these depraved symptoms, the work before us, so far

as the present specimen extends, is entirely free; and if it be conducted to the end with equal ability, it will form one of the most useful and attractive publications of the present day. of the two sections, though Syria is the most entertaining, Palestine is the best done; it contains a masterly compression, marked, in some instances, by specific originality, of most that is truly valuable in the best of modern explorations. Maundrell

, Pococke, Burckhardt, and Dr, Richardson, have supplied the ground-work; but a host of other travellers have contributed to the superstructure, and a list of important · desiderata' is subjoined. As an example of the composition, we shall transcribe the eloquent and comprehensive

CONCLUDING REMARKS. • Having now traversed the whole Land of Israel west of this boundary, from Beersheba to Dan, we close here our account of Palestine; preferring, for the convenience of the arrangement, to include the districts east of the Jordan, under the general denomination of Syria, which in strictness applies to the whole country. The parts we have described, however, are all that are usually comprehended under the term Holy Land ; although, as the scene of Scripture history, the theatre of miracle and of prophecy,—the Peninsula of Mount Sinai, the shores of the Idumean Sea, and the coasts of Asia Minor, might lay claim to the appellation. But we have now visited the whole of Palestine, Judea, 'Samaria, and Galilee—those countries which, above all others under the sun, are interesting to the Christian. And abhorrent alike from reason and from true piety, as is the superstition that has grafted itself upon this interest, yet, the curiosity which inspires the traveller, in reference more peculiarly to these scenes, is rational and laudable. If Troy and Thebes, if Athens and Rome, are visited with classic enthusiasm, much more worthy of awakening the strongest emotions in the mind of a Christian, must be the country whose history as far transcends in interest that of every other, as its literature (if we may apply that term to the divine volume) excels in sublimity, all the ethics, and philosophy, and poetry, and eloquence of the heathen world. This sentiment of interest or of reverence has, indeed, no necessary connexion with religious principle or enlightened worship ; for it may actuate alike the pious and the profligate. And, in the character of the Greek or Romish pilgrim, it is too generally found in connexion with an utter destitution of moral principle. The savage fanaticism of the Crusades was an illustration of this fact on a grand scale ; and the same spirit that breathed in Peter the Hermit, yet survives; the same fanaticism in a milder form actuates the pilgrims who continue to visit the Holy Sepulchre, with the view of expiating their sins by the performance of so meritorious a penance. The Mussulman hadgi, or the Hindoo devotee, differs little in the true character of his religion, from these misguided Christians, and as little perhaps in his morals as in his creed. Only the stocks and stones in which their respective worship alike terminates, are called by less holy names. It becomes the Protestant to avoid the appearance of symbolizing with this degrading and brutalizing idolatry. But were all this mummery swept away, and the Holy Land cleared of all the rubbish brought into it by the Empress Helena, the holy sepulchre included, more than enough would remain to repay the Christian traveller, in the durable monuments of Nature. We know not the spot where Christ was crucified; nor can determine the cave in which, for part of three days, his body was ensepulchred ; nor is the exact point ascertainable from which he ascended to heaven. The Scriptures are silent, and no other authority can supply the information. But there are the scenes which he looked upon, the holy mount which once bore the temple, that Mount Olivet which once overlooked Jerusalem ;-there is Mount Gerizim overhanging the Valley of Shechem, and the hill where once stood Samaria ; there is Nazareth, within whose secluded vale our Lord so long awaited the time appointed for his public ministry,--the Plain of Gennesareth and the Sea of Galilee,-the mountains to which he retired, the plains in which he wrought his miracles, the waters which he

« PreviousContinue »