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Chaos of ruins! who shall trace the void,
CHILDE HAROLD. Every enlightened American regards whatever relates to his native land, with an affection as strong as it is ennobling. Conscious of its extent and resources, he looks abroad upon its variegated landscapes, its towering mountains, and its mighty rivers, with a glow of noble pride and enthusiasm. Unequalled in richness, fertility, or grandeur, each inspires him, in like manner, with feelings of joy and exultation. He reverts to the history of his countrymen, with emotions not less dear and animating. The early struggles of his ancestors, their ultimate triumph over the enemies of his country, and over obstacles well nigh insurmountable their onward march in social and political happiness, the freedom and excellence of their institutions, and the high distinction now sustained by the republic among the governments of the earth
all dwell upon his tongue, in accents of lofty praise and patriotism.
Such sentiments are alike worthy and characteristic of an American; but while we thus cheerfully ascribe them to our countrymen, as a general and laudable peculiarity, we cannot avoid the reflection, that one prominent subject among those claiming their attention - one which should equally inspire them with pride and enthusiasm - is most singularly overlooked, or wholly neglected. We allude to American Antiquities. This subject, not immediately connected with our national prosperity, seems strangely to have escaped observation. Every thing else with us has been onward; but this has been left for the inquisitive admiration of strangers. With the fresh and animating incidents of our history we have alone been busied. Beyond these, there exists a deep and illimitable hiatus, into which Curiosity has yet but slightly peered.
Now that data are affixed to our brief historical period, and the occurrences of yesterday, in comparison with the actual history of our land, have settled down into a succession of well-known events, it becomes us to look back into those of long-lost time, and to inquire into the memorials of our country's antiquity; to glance at what it was, rather than what it is. Here the field opens into boundless extent, and the mind becomes bewildered by the strange and diversified objects which it presents. Unlike any other in the world's
wide range,' it is seen to be crowded with unique monumental relics, such as men of modern date had little dreamed of. No where else do the same curious and magnificent remnants of ancient art start into view. Britain has her antiquities, but her archæologists find them associated with a people to whom history had before introduced them. They are furnished with keys by which to gain access to the relics of by-gone times.
The Druids and the Romans are known to them; but who were they who raised the tumuli of western America, or the Pyramids of Chollula and of Papantla ? The antiquities of Egypt, wonderful as they are, point with an index well defined, to their origin; but who can decipher the hieroglyphics of Tultica ? — who read the buried monuments of Anahuac? Egypt has her history told — if not distinctly upon her storied columns in language which we are little disposed to doubt. The tablets of Rositta have revealed to inquiring antiquarians a flood of light; and the secret volumes inscribed upon the huge and elaborate piles of her arts, have suddenly opened to the wondering gaze their richly. stored contents. They said, emphatically, “Let there be light, and there was light!' But no revelation has burst from the tombs of our western valleys. No Champolion, Young, Rossellina, nor Wilkinson, has preached the mysteries of Copan, Mitlan, or Palenque. No! Thick darkness still hangs over the vast continent of America. No voice answers to the anxious inquiry, 'Who were the Tultiques ? no lettered tablet is found to reveal the authors of the noble vestiges of architecture and of sculpture at Mitlan, Papantla, Chollula, Otumba, Oaxaca, Tlascala, Tescoca, Copan, or Palenque ! The veil of oblivion shrouds, and may perhaps for ever shroud, these relics of an ancient and innumerable people in impenetrable obscurity. The researches of Del Rio, Cabrera, Dupaix, Waldrick, Neibel, Galinda, nor Corroy, are yet known to have developed the secrets of the buried cities of Central America, though they have labored for many years, 'silent and alone,' amid these massive fragments of ancient greatness.
Cypress and ivy, weed and wall-flower grown,
Matted and mass'd together, hillocks heap'd
In fragments, chok’d-up vaults and frescos steeped
Deeming it midnight: temples, baths, or halls?
't is thus the mighty falls ! The train of reflections which springs from a review of these magnificent specimens of skill, genius, and toil, is peculiarly exciting. If, in the vast field of observation which this continent presents, there is one subject that more than another claims attention — if there is one which is calculated to inspire an American with admiration and enthusiasm it is the antiquities of his country. It may in truth be said, that were we to pronounce what are the great and peculiar charms of this new world,' we should say, at once, its antiquities – the antiquities of its buried cities — its long-lost relics of a great and ingenious people — the sublimity of ages that every where surrounds us, and the strange associations which rush upon the mind, as we