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Title: Narrative and Critical History of America, Vol. 1 (of 8)

Editor: Justin Winsor

Release date: December 31, 2015 [eBook #50801]

Language: English



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The Riverside Press, Cambridge


Copyright. 1889,

All rights reserved.

The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A.
Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company.




President of Harvard University.

Dear Eliot:

Forty years ago, you and I, having made preparation together, entered college on the same day. We later found different spheres in the world; and you came back to Cambridge in due time to assume your high office. Twelve years ago, sought by you, I likewise came, to discharge a duty under you.

You took me away from many cares, and transferred me to the more congenial service of the University. The change has conduced to the progress of those studies in which I hardly remember to have had a lack of interest.

So I owe much to you; and it is not, I trust, surprising that I desire to connect, in this work, your name with that of your

Obliged friend,

Cambridge, 1889.[vi]


[The cut on the title represents a mask, which forms the centre of the Mexican Calendar Stone, as engraved in D. Wilson’s Prehistoric Man, i. 333, from a cast now in the Collection of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.]

Part I. Americana in Libraries and Bibliographies. The Editor i
Illustrations: Portrait of Professor Ebeling, iii; of James Carson Brevoort, x; of Charles Deane, xi.
Part II. Early Descriptions of America, and Collective Accounts of the Early
Voyages Thereto.
The Editor
Illustrations: Title of the Newe Unbekanthe Landte, xxi; of Peter Martyr’s De Nuper sub D. Carolo repertis insulis (1521), xxii; Portrait of Grynæus, xxiv; of Sebastian Münster, xxvi, xxvii; of Monardes, xxix; of De Bry, xxx; of Feyerabend, xxxi.
The Geographical Knowledge of the Ancients Considered in Relation To The
Discovery of America.
William H. Tillinghast
Illustrations: Maps by Macrobius, 10, 11, 12; Carli’s Traces of Atlantis, 17; Sanson’s Atlantis Insula, 18; Bory de St. Vincent’s Carte Conjecturale de l’Atlantide, 19; Contour Chart of the Bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, 20; The Rectangular Earth, 30.
Critical Essay 33
Notes 38
A. The Form of the Earth, 38; B. Homer’s Geography, 39; C. Supposed References to America, 40; D. Atlantis, 41; E. Fabulous Islands of the Atlantic in the Middle Ages, 46; F. Toscanelli’s Atlantic Ocean, 51. G. (By the Editor.) Early Maps of the Atlantic Ocean, 53.
Illustrations: Map of the Fifteenth Century, 53; Map of Fr. Pizigani (a.d. 1367), and of Andreas Bianco (1436), 54; Catalan Map (1375), 55; Map of Andreas Benincasa (1476), 56; Laon Globe, 56; Maps of Bordone (1547), 57, 58; Map made at the End of the Fifteenth Century, 57; Ortelius’s Atlantic Ocean (1587), 58.
Pre-Columbian Explorations. Justin Winsor 59
Illustrations: Norse Ship, 62; Plan of a Viking Ship 63, and her Rowlock, 63; Norse [viii]Boat used as a Habitation, 64; Norman Ship from the Bayeux Tapestry, 64; Scandinavian Flags, 64; Scandinavian Weapons, 65; Runes, 66, 67; Fac-simile of the Title of the Zeno Narrative, 70; Its Section on Frisland, 71; Ship of the Fifteenth Century, 73; The Sea of Darkness, 74.
Critical Notes 76
A. Early Connection of Asiatic Peoples with the Western Coast of America, 76; B. Ireland the Great, or White Man’s Land, 82; C. The Norse in Iceland, 83; D. Greenland and its Ruins, 85; E. The Vinland Voyages, 87; F. The Lost Greenland Colonies, 107; G. Madoc and the Welsh, 109; H. The Zeni and their Map, 111; I. Alleged Jewish Migration, 115; J. Possible Early African Migrations, 116.
Illustrations: Behring’s Sea and Adjacent Waters, 77; Buache’s Map of the North Pacific and Fusang, 79; Ruins of the Church at Kakortok, 86; Fac-simile of a Saga Manuscript and Autograph of C. C. Rafn, 87; Ruin at Kakortok, 88; Map of Julianehaab, 89; Portrait of Rafn, 90; Title-page of Historia Vinlandiæ Antiguæ per Thormodum Torfæum, 91; Rafn’s Map of Norse America, 95; Rafn’s Map of Vinland (New England), 100; View of Dighton Rock, 101; Copies of its Inscription, 103; Henrik Rink, 106; Fac-simile of the Title-page of Hans Egede’s Det gamle Gronlands nye Perlustration, 108; A British Ship of the Time of Edward I, 110; Richard H. Major, 112; Baron Nordenskjöld, 113.
The Cartography of Greenland. The Editor 117
Illustrations: The Maps of Claudius Clavus (1427), 118, 119; of Fra Mauro (1459), 120; Tabula Regionum Septentrionalium (1467), 121; Map of Donis (1482), 122; of Henricus Martellus (1489-90), 122; of Olaus Magnus (1539), 123; (1555), 124; (1567), 125; of Bordone (1547), 126; The Zeno Map, 127; as altered in the Ptolemy of 1561, 128; The Map of Phillipus Gallæus (1585), 129; of Sigurd Stephanus (1570), 130; The Greenland of Paul Egede, 131; of Isaac de la Peyrère (1647), 132.
Mexico and Central America. Justin Winsor 133
Illustrations: Clavigero’s Plan of Mexico, 143; his Map of Anahuac, 144; Environs du Lac de Méxique, 145; Brasseur de Bourbourg’s Map of Central America, 151.
Critical Essay 153
Illustrations: Manuscript of Bernal Diaz, 154; Sahagún, 156; Clavigero, 159; Lorenzo Boturini, 160; Frontispiece of his Idea, with his Portrait, 161; Icazbalceta, 163; Daniel G. Brinton, 165; Brasseur de Bourbourg, 170.
Notes 173
I. The Authorities on the so-called Civilization of Ancient Mexico and Adjacent Lands, and the Interpretation of such Authorities, 173; II. Bibliographical Notes upon the Ruins and Archæological Remains of Mexico and Central America, 176; III. Bibliographical Notes on the Picture-Writing of the Nahuas and Mayas, 197.
Illustrations: The Pyramid of Cholula, 177; The Great Mound of Cholula, 178; Mexican Calendar Stone, 179; Court of the Mexico Museum, 181; Old Mexican Bridge near Tezcuco, 182; The Indio Triste, 183; General Plan of Mitla, 184; Sacrificial Stone, 185; Waldeck, 186; Désiré Charnay, 187; Charnay’s Map of Yucatan, 188; Ruined Temple at Uxmal, 189; Ring and Head from Chichen-Itza, 190; Viollet-le-Duc’s Restoration of a Palenqué Building, 192; Sculptures from the Temple of the Cross at Palenqué, 193; Plan of Copan, 194; Yucatan Types of Heads, 195; Plan of Quirigua, 196; Fac-simile of Landa’s Manuscript, 198; A Sculptured Column, 199; Palenqué Hieroglyphics, 201; Léon de Rosny, 202; The Dresden Codex, 204; Codex Cortesianus, 206; Codex Perezianus, 207, 208.
The Inca Civilization in Peru. Clements R. Markham 209
Illustrations: Brasseur de Bourbourg’s Map of Northwestern South America, 210; Early Spanish Map of Peru, 211; Llamas, 213; Architectural Details at Tiahuanaca, 214; Bas-Reliefs, 215; Doorway and other Parts, 216; Image, 217; Broken Doorway, 218; Tiahuanaca Restored, 219; Ruins of Sacsahuaman, 220; Inca Manco Ccapac, 228; Inca Yupanqui, 228; Cuzco, 229; Warriors of the Inca Period, 230; Plan of the Temple of the Sun, 234; Zodiac of Gold, 235; Quipus, 243; Inca Skull, 244; Ruins at Chucuito, 245; Lake Titicaca, 246, 247; Map of the Lake, 248; Primeval Tomb, Acora, 249; Ruins at Quellenata, 249; Ruins at Escoma, 250; Sillustani, 250; Ruins of an Incarial Village, 251; Map of the Inca Road, 254; Peruvian Metal-Workers, 256; Peruvian Pottery, 256, 257; Unfinished Peruvian Cloth, 258.
Critical Essay 259
Illustrations: House in Cuzco in which Garcilasso was born, 265; Portraits of the Incas in the Title-page of Herrera, 267; William Robertson, 269; Clements R. Markham, 272; Márcos Jiménez de la Espada, 274.
Notes 275
I. Ancient People of the Peruvian Coast, 275; II. The Quichua Language and Literature, 278.
Illustrations: Mummy from Ancon, 276; Mummy from a Huaca at Pisco, 277; Tapestry from the Graves of Ancon, 278; Idol from Timaná, 281.
The Red Indian of North America in Contact with the French and English. George E. Ellis 283
Critical Essay. George E. Ellis and the Editor 316
The Prehistoric Archæology of North America. Henry W. Haynes 329
Illustrations: Palæolithic Implement from the Trenton Gravels, 331; The Trenton Gravel Bluff, 335; Section of Bluff near Trenton, 338; Obsidian Spear Point from the Lahontan Lake, 349.
The Progress of Opinion respecting the Origin and Antiquity of Man in America. Justin Winsor 369
Illustrations: Benjamin Smith Barton, 371; Louis Agassiz, 373; Samuel Foster Haven, 374; Sir Daniel Wilson, 375; Professor Edward B. Tylor, 376; Hochelagan and Cro-magnon Skulls, 377; Theodor Waitz, 378; Sir John Lubbock, 379; Sir John William Dawson, 380; Map of Aboriginal Migrations, 381; Calaveras Skull, 385; Ancient Footprint from Nicaragua, 386; Cro-magnon, Enghis, Neanderthal, and Hochelagan Skulls, 389; Oscar Peschel, 391; Jeffries Wyman, 392; Map of Cape Cod, showing Shell Heaps, 393; Maps of the Pueblo Region, 394, 397; Col. Charles Whittlesey, 399; Increase A. Lapham, 400; Plan of the Great Serpent Mound, 401; Cincinnati Tablet, 404; Old View of the Mounds on the Muskingum (Marietta), 405; Map of the Scioto Valley, showing Sites of Mounds, 406; Works at Newark, Ohio, 407; Major J. W. Powell, 411.
Justin Winsor.
I. Bibliography of Aboriginal America 413
II. The Comprehensive Treatises on American Antiquities 415
III. Bibliographical Notes on the Industries and Trade of the American Aborigines 416
IV. Bibliographical Notes on American Linguistics 421
V. Bibliographical Notes on the Myths and Religions of America 429
VI. Archæological Museums and Periodicals 437
Illustrations: Mexican Clay Mask, 419; Quetzalcoatl, 432; The Mexican Temple, 433; The Temple of Mexico, 434; Teoyaomiqui, 435; Ancient Teocalli, Oaxaca, Mexico, 436.
Index 445



By the Editor.


HARRISSE, in the Introduction of his Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima, enumerates and characterizes many of the bibliographies of Americana, beginning with the chapter, “De Scriptoribus rerum Americanarum,” in the Bibliotheca Classica of Draudius, in 1622.[1] De Laet, in his Nieuwe Wereldt (1625), gives a list of about thirty-seven authorities, which he increased somewhat in later editions.[2] The earliest American catalogue of any moment, however, came from a native Peruvian, Léon y Pinelo, who is usually cited by the latter name only. He had prepared an extensive list; but he published at Madrid, in 1629, a selection of titles only, under the designation of Epitome de la biblioteca oriental i occidental,[3] which included manuscripts as well as books. He had exceptional advantages as chronicler of the Indies.

In 1671, in Montanus’s Nieuwe weereld, and in Ogilby’s America, about 167 authorities are enumerated.

Sabin[4] refers to Cornelius van Beughem’s Bibliographia Historica, 1685, published at Amsterdam, as having the titles of books on America.

The earliest exclusively American catalogue is the Bibliothecæ Americanæ Primordia of White Kennett,[5] Bishop of Peterborough, published in London in 1713. The arrangement of its sixteen hundred entries is chronological; and it enters under their respective dates the sections of such collections as Hakluyt and Ramusio.[6] It particularly pertains to the English colonies, and more especially to New England, where, in the eighteenth century, three distinctively valuable American libraries are known to have existed,—that of the Mather family, which was in large part destroyed during the battle of Bunker Hill, in 1775; that of Thomas Prince, still in large part existing in the Boston Public Library; and that of Governor Hutchinson, scattered by the mob which attacked his house in Boston in 1765.[7]

In 1716 Lenglet du Fresnoy inserted a brief list (sixty titles) in his Méthode pour étudier la géographie. Garcia’s Origen de los Indias de el nuevo mundo, Madrid, 1729, shows a list of about seventeen hundred authors.[8]

In 1737-1738 Barcia enlarged Pinelo’s work, translating all his titles into Spanish, and added[ii] numerous other entries which Rich[9] says were “clumsily thrown together.”

Charlevoix prefixed to his Nouvelle France, in 1744, a list with useful comments, which the English reader can readily approach in Dr. Shea’s translation. A price-list which has been preserved of the sale in Paris in 1764, Catalogue des livres des ci-devant soi-disans Jésuites du Collége de Clermont, indicates the lack of competition at that time for those choicer Americana, now so costly.[10] The Regio patronatu Indiarum of Frassus (1775) gives about 1505 authorities. There is a chronological catalogue of books issued in the American colonies previous to 1775, prepared by S. F. Haven, Jr., and appended to the edition of Thomas’s History of Printing, published by the American Antiquarian Society. Though by no means perfect, it is a convenient key to most publications illustrative of American history during the colonial period of the English possessions, and printed in America. Dr. Robertson’s America (1777) shows only 250 works, and it indicates how far short he was of the present advantages in the study of this subject. Clavigero surpassed all his predecessors in the lists accompanying his Storia del Messico, published in 1780,—but the special bibliography of Mexico is examined elsewhere. Equally special, and confined to the English colonies, is the documentary register which Jefferson inserted in his Notes on Virginia; but it serves to show how scanty the records were a hundred years ago compared with the calendars of such material now. Meuzel, in 1782, had published enough of his Bibliotheca Historica to cover the American field, though he never completed the work as planned.

In 1789 an anonymous Bibliotheca Americana of nearly sixteen hundred entries was published in London. It is not of much value. Harrisse and others attribute it to Reid; but by some the author’s name is differently given as Homer, Dalrymple, and Long.[11]

An enumeration of the documentary sources (about 152 entries) used by Muñoz in his Historia del nuevo mundo (1793) is given in Fustér’s Biblioteca Valenciana (ii. 202-234) published at Valencia in 1827-1830.[12]

There is in the Library of Congress (Force Collection) a copy of an Indice de la Coleccion de manuscritos pertinecientes a la historia de las Indias, by Fraggia, Abella, and others, dated at Madrid, 1799.[13]

In the Sparks collection at Cornell are two other manuscript bibliographies worthy of notice. One is a Biblioteca Americana, by Antonio de Alcedo, dated in 1807. Sparks says his copy was made in 1843 from an original which Obadiah Rich had found in Madrid.[14]

Harrisse says that another copy is in the Carter-Brown Library; and he asserts that, excepting some additions of modern American authors, it is not much improved over Barcia’s edition of Pinelo. H. H. Bancroft[15] mentions having a third copy, which had formerly belonged to Prescott.

The other manuscript at Cornell is a Bibliotheca Americana, prepared in twelve volumes by Arthur Homer, who had intended, but never accomplished, the publication of it. Sparks found it in Sir Thomas Phillipps’s library at Middlehill, and caused the copy of it to be made, which is now at Ithaca.[16]

In 1808 Boucher de la Richarderie published at Paris his Bibliothèque universelle des voyages,[17] which has in the fifth part a critical list of all voyages to American waters. Harrisse disagrees with Peignot in his favorable estimate of Richarderie, and traces to him the errors of Faribault and later bibliographers.

The Bibliotheca Hispano-Americana of Dr. José Mariano Beristain de Souza was published in Mexico in 1816-1821, in three volumes. Quaritch, pricing it at £96 in 1880, calls it the rarest and most valuable of all American bibliographical works. It is a notice of writers who were born, educated, or flourished in Spanish America, and naturally covers much of interest to the historical student. The author did not live to complete it, and his nephew finished it.


In 1818 Colonel Israel Thorndike, of Boston, bought for $6,500 the American library of Professor Ebeling, of Germany, estimated to contain over thirty-two hundred volumes, besides an extraordinary collection of ten thousand maps.[18] The library was given by the purchaser to Harvard College, and its possession at once put the library of that institution at the head of all libraries in the United States for the illustration of American history. No catalogue of it was ever printed, except as a part of the General Catalogue of the College Library issued in 1830-1834, in five volumes.

Another useful collection of Americana added to the same library was that formed by David B. Warden, for forty years United States Consul at Paris, who printed a catalogue of its twelve hundred volumes at Paris, in 1820, called Bibliotheca Americo-Septentrionalis. The collection in 1823 found a purchaser at $5,000, in Mr. Samuel A. Eliot, who gave it to the College.[19]


The Harvard library, however, as well as several of the best collections of Americana in the United States, owes more, perhaps, to Obadiah Rich than to any other. This gentleman, a native of Boston, was born in 1783. He went as consul of the United States to Valencia in 1815, and there began his study of early Spanish-American history, and undertook the gathering of a remarkable collection of books,[21] which he threw open generously, with his own kindly assistance, to every investigator who visited Spain for purposes of study. Here he won the respect of Alexander H. Everett, then American minister to the court of Spain. He captivated Irving by his helpful nature, who says of him: “Rich was one of the most indefatigable, intelligent, and successful bibliographers in Europe. His house at Madrid was a literary wilderness, abounding with curious works and rare editions.[iv] ... He was withal a man of great truthfulness and simplicity of character, of an amiable and obliging disposition and strict integrity.” Similar was the estimation in which he was held by Ticknor, Prescott, George Bancroft, and many others, as Allibone has recorded.[22] In 1828 he removed to London, where he established himself as a bookseller. From this period, as Harrisse[23] fitly says, it was under his influence, acting upon the lovers of books among his compatriots, that the passion for forming collections of books exclusively American grew up.[24] In those days the cost of books now esteemed rare was trifling compared with the prices demanded at present. Rich had a prescience in his calling, and the beginnings of the great libraries of Colonel Aspinwall, Peter Force, James Lenox, and John Carter Brown were made under his fostering eye; which was just as kindly vigilant for Grenville, who was then forming out of the income of his sinecure office the great collection which he gave to the British nation in recompense for his support.[25] In London, watching the book-markets and making his catalogue, Rich continued to live for the rest of his life (he died in February, 1850), except for a period when he was the United States consul at Port Mahon in the Balearic Islands. His bibliographies are still valuable, his annotations in them are trustworthy, and their records are the starting-points of the growth of prices. His issues and reissues of them are somewhat complicated by supplements and combinations, but collectors and bibliographers place them on their shelves in the following order:

1. A Catalogue of books relating principally to America, arranged under the years in which they were printed (1500-1700), London, 1832. This included four hundred and eighty-six numbers, those designated by a star without price being understood to be in Colonel Aspinwall’s collection. Two small supplements were added to this.

2. Bibliotheca Americana Nova, printed since 1700 (to 1800), London, 1835. Two hundred and fifty copies were printed. A supplement appeared in 1841, and this became again a part of his.

3. Bibliotheca Americana Nova, vol. i. (1701-1800); vol. ii. (1801-1844), which was printed (250 copies) in London in 1846.[26]

It was in 1833 that Colonel Thomas Aspinwall, of Boston, who was for thirty-eight years the American consul at London, printed at Paris a catalogue of his collection of Americana, where seven hundred and seventy-one lots included, beside much that was ordinarily useful, a great number of the rarest of books on American history. Harrisse has called Colonel Aspinwall, not without justice, “a bibliophile of great tact and activity.” All but the rarest part of his collection was subsequently burned in 1863, when it had passed into the hands of Mr. Samuel L. M. Barlow,[27] of New York.

M. Ternaux-Compans, who had collected—as Mr. Brevoort thinks[28]—the most extensive library of books on America ever brought together, printed his Bibliothèque Américaine[29] in 1837 at Paris. It embraced 1,154 works, arranged chronologically, and all of them of a date before 1700. The titles were abridged, and accompanied by French translations. His annotations were scant; and other students besides Rich have regretted that so learned a man had not more benefited his fellow-students by ampler notes.[30]

Also in 1837 appeared the Catalogue d’ouvrages sur l’histoire de l’Amérique, of G. B. Faribault, which was published at Quebec, and was more specially devoted to books on New France.[31]

With the works of Rich and Ternaux the bibliography of Americana may be considered to have acquired a distinct recognition; and the succeeding survey of this field may be[v] more conveniently made if we group the contributors by some broad discriminations of the motives influencing them, though such distinctions sometimes become confluent.

First, as regards what may be termed professional bibliography. One of the earliest workers in the new spirit was a Dresden jurist, Hermann E. Ludewig, who came to the United States in 1844, and prepared an account of the Literature of American local history, which was published in 1846. This was followed by a supplement, pertaining wholly to New York State, which appeared in The Literary World, February 19, 1848. He had previously published in the Serapeum at Leipsic (1845, pp. 209) accounts of American libraries and bibliography, which were the first contributions to this subject.[32] Some years later, in 1858, there was published in London a monograph on The Literature of the American Aboriginal Linguistics,[33] which had been undertaken by Mr. Ludewig but had not been carried through the press, when he died, Dec. 12, 1856.[34]

We owe to a Franco-American citizen the most important bibliography which we have respecting the first half century of American history; for the Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima only comes down to 1551 in its chronological arrangement. Mr. Brevoort[35] very properly characterizes it as “a work which lightens the labors of such as have to investigate early American history.”[36]

It was under the hospitable roof of Mr. Barlow’s library in New York that, “having gloated for years over second-hand compilations,” Harrisse says that he found himself “for the first time within reach of the fountain-heads of history.” Here he gathered the materials for his Notes on Columbus, which were, as he says, like “pencil marks varnished over.” These first appeared less perfectly than later, in the New York Commercial Advertiser, under the title of “Columbus in a Nut-shell.” Mr. Harrisse had also prepared (four copies only printed) for Mr. Barlow in 1864 the Bibliotheca Barlowiana, which is a descriptive catalogue of the rarest books in the Barlow-Aspinwall Collection, touching especially the books on Virginian and New England history between 1602 and 1680.

Mr. Barlow now (1864) sumptuously printed the Notes on Columbus in a volume (ninety-nine copies) for private distribution. For some reason not apparent, there were expressions in this admirable treatise which offended some; as when, for instance (p. vii), he spoke of being debarred the privileges of a much-vaunted public library, referring to the Astor Library. Similar inadvertences again brought him hostile criticism, when two years later (1866) he printed with considerable typographical luxury his Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima, which was published in New York. It embraces something over three hundred entries.[37] The work is not without errors; and Mr. Henry Stevens, who claims that he was wrongly accused in the book, gave it a bad name in the London Athenæum of Oct. 6, 1866, where an unfortunate slip, in making “Ander Schiffahrt”[38] a personage, is unmercifully ridiculed. A committee of the Société de Géographie in Paris, of which M. Ernest Desjardins was spokesman, came to the rescue, and printed a Rapport sur les deux ouvrages de bibliographie Américaine de M. Henri Harrisse, Paris, 1867. In this document the claim is unguardedly made that Harrisse’s book was the earliest piece of solid erudition which America had produced,—a phrase qualified later as applying to works of American bibliography only. It was pointed out that while for the period of 1492-1551 Rich had given twenty titles, and Ternaux fifty-eight, Harrisse had enumerated three hundred and eight.[39]

Harrisse prepared, while shut up in Paris during the siege of 1870, his Notes sur la Nouvelle France, a valuable bibliographical essay referred to elsewhere.[40] He later put in shape the material which he had gathered for a supplemental volume to his Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima, which he called Additions,[41] and published it in Paris in 1872. In his introduction to this latter volume he shows how thoroughly he has searched the libraries of Europe for new evidences of interest in America during the first half century after its discovery. He notes the depredations upon the older libraries which have been made in recent years, since the prices for rare Americana have ruled so high. He finds[42] that the Biblioteca Colombina[vi] at Seville, as compared with a catalogue of it made by Ferdinand Columbus himself, has suffered immense losses. “It is curious to notice,” he finally says, “how few of the original books relating to the early history of the New World can be found in the public libraries of Europe. There is not a literary institution, however rich and ancient, which in this respect could compare with three or four private libraries in America. The Marciana at Venice is probably the richest. The Trivulgiana at Milan can boast of several great rarities.”

For the third contributor to the recent bibliography of Americana, we must still turn to an adopted citizen, Joseph Sabin, an Englishman by birth. Various publishing enterprises of interest to the historical student are associated with Mr. Sabin’s name. He published a quarto series of reprints of early American tracts, eleven in number, and an octavo series, seven in number.[43] He published for several years, beginning in 1869, the American Bibliopolist, a record of new books, with literary miscellanies, largely upon Americana. In 1867 he began the publication (five hundred copies) of the most extensive American bibliography yet made, A Dictionary of books relating to America, from its discovery to the present time. The author’s death, in 1881,[44] left the work somewhat more than half done, and it has been continued since his death by his sons.[45]

In the Notas Para una bibliografia de obras anonimas i seudonimas of Diego Barros Arana, published at Santiago de Chile in 1882, five hundred and seven books on America (1493-1876), without authors, are traced to their writers.

As a second class of contributors to the bibliographical records of America, we must reckon the students who have gathered libraries for use in pursuing their historical studies. Foremost among such, and entitled to be esteemed a pioneer in the modern spirit of research, is Alexander von Humboldt. He published his Examen critique de l’histoire de la géographie du nouveau continent,[46] in five volumes, between 1836 and 1839.[47] “It is,” says Brevoort,[48] “a guide which all must consult. With a master hand the author combines and collates all attainable materials, and draws light from sources which he first brings to bear in his exhaustive investigations.” Harrisse calls it “the greatest monument ever erected to the early history of this continent.”

Humboldt’s library was bought by Henry Stevens, who printed in 1863, in London, a catalogue of it, showing 11,164 entries; but this was not published till 1870. It included a set of the Examen critique, with corrections, and the notes for a new sixth volume.[49] Harrisse, who it is believed contemplated at one time a new edition of this book, alleges that through the remissness of the purchaser of the library the world has lost sight of these precious memorials of Humboldt’s unperfected labors. Stevens, in the London Athenæum, October, 1866, rebuts the charge.[50]

Of the collection of books and manuscripts formed by Col. Peter Force we have no separate record, apart from their making a portion of the general catalogue of the Library of Congress, the Government having bought the collection in 1867.[51]

The library which Jared Sparks formed during the progress of his historical labors was sold about 1872 to Cornell University, and is now at Ithaca. Mr. Sparks left behind him “imperfect but not unfaithful lists of his books,[vii]” which, after some supervision by Dr. Cogswell and others, were put in shape for the press by Mr. Charles A. Cutter of the Boston Athenæum, and were printed, in 1871, as Catalogue of the Library of Jared Sparks. In the appendix was a list of the historical manuscripts, originals and copies, which are now on deposit in Harvard College Library.[52]

In 1849 Mr. H. R. Schoolcraft[53] printed, at the expense of the United States Government, a Bibliographical Catalogue of books, etc., in the Indian tongues of the United States,—a list later reprinted with additions in his Indian Tribes (in 1851), vol. iv.[54]

In 1861 Mr. Ephraim George Squier published at New York a monograph on authors[viii] who had written in the languages of Central America, enumerating one hundred and ten, with a list of the books and manuscripts on the history, the aborigines, and the antiquities of Central America, borrowed from other sources in part. At the sale of Mr. Squier’s library in 1876, the catalogue[55] of which was made by Mr. Sabin, the entire collection of his manuscripts fell, as mentioned elsewhere,[56] into the hands of Mr. Hubert Howe Bancroft of San Francisco.

Probably the largest collection of books and manuscripts[57] which any American has formed for use in writing is that which belongs to Mr. Bancroft. He is the organizer of an extensive series of books on the antiquities and history of the Pacific coast. To accomplish an examination of the aboriginal and civilized history of so large a field[58] as thoroughly as he has unquestionably made it, within a lifetime, was a bold undertaking, to be carried out in a centre of material rather than of literary enterprise. The task involved the gathering of a library of printed books, at a distance from the purely intellectual activity of the country, and where no other collection of moment existed to supplement it. It required the seeking and making of manuscripts, from the labor of which one might well shrink. It was fortunate that during the gathering of this collection some notable collections—like those of Maximilian,[59] Ramirez, and Squier, not to name others—were opportunely brought to the hammer, a chance by which Mr. Bancroft naturally profited.

Mr. Bancroft had been trained in the business habits of the book trade, in which he had established himself in San Francisco as early as 1856.[60] He was at this time twenty-four years old, having been born of New England stock in Ohio in 1832, and having had already four years residence—since 1852—in San Francisco as the agent of an eastern bookseller. It was not till 1869 that he set seriously to work on his history, and organized a staff of assistants.[61] They indexed his library, which was now large (12,000 volumes) and was kept on an upper floor of his business quarters, and they classified the references in paper bags.[62] His first idea was to make an encyclopædia of the antiquities and history of the Pacific Coast; and it is on the whole unfortunate that he abandoned the scheme, for his methods were admirably adapted to that end, but of questionable application to a sustained plan of historical treatment. It is the encyclopedic quality of his work, as the user eliminates what he wishes, which makes and will continue to make the books that pass under his name of the first importance to historical students.

In 1875 the first five volumes of the series, denominated by themselves The Native Races of the Pacific States, made their appearance. It was[ix] clear that a new force had been brought to bear upon historical research,—the force of organized labor from many hands; and this implied competent administrative direction and ungrudged expenditure of money. The work showed the faults of such a method, in a want of uniform discrimination, and in that promiscuous avidity of search, which marks rather an eagerness to amass than a judgment to select, and give literary perspective. The book, however, was accepted as extremely useful and promising to the future inquirer. Despite a certain callowness of manner, the Native Races was extremely creditable, with comparatively little of the patronizing and flippant air which its flattering reception has since begotten in its author or his staff. An unfamiliarity with the amenities of literary life seems unexpectedly to have been more apparent also in his later work.

In April, 1876, Mr. Lewis H. Morgan printed in the North American Review, under the title of “Montezuma’s Dinner,” a paper in which he controverted the views expressed in the Native Races regarding the kind of aboriginal civilization belonging to the Mexican and Central American table-lands. A writer of Mr. Morgan’s reputation commanded respect in all but Mr. Bancroft, who has been unwise enough to charge him with seeking “to gain notoriety by attacking” his (Mr. B.’s) views or supposed views. He dares also to characterize so well-known an authority as “a person going about from one reviewer to another begging condemnation for my Native Races.” It was this ungracious tone which produced a divided reception for his new venture. This, after an interval of seven years, began to make its appearance in vol. vi. of the “Works,” or vol. i. of the History of Central America, appearing in the autumn of 1882.

The changed tone of the new series, its rhetoric, ambitious in parts, but mixed with passages which are often forceful and exact, suggestive of an ill-assorted conjoint production; the interlarding of classic allusions by some retained reviser who served this purpose for one volume at least; a certain cheap reasoning and ranting philosophy, which gives place at times to conceptions of grasp; flippancy and egotism, which induce a patronizing air under the guise of a constrained adulation of others; a want of knowledge on points where the system of indexing employed by his staff had been deficient,—these traits served to separate the criticism of students from the ordinary laudation of such as were dazed by the magnitude of the scheme.

Two reviews challenging his merits on these grounds[63] induced Mr. Bancroft to reply in a tract[64] called The Early American Chroniclers. The manner of this rejoinder is more offensive than that of the volumes which it defends; and with bitter language he charges the reviewers with being “men of Morgan,” working in concert to prejudice his success.

But the controversy of which record is here made is unworthy of the principal party to it. His important work needs no such adventitious support; and the occasion for it might have been avoided by ordinary prudence. The extent of the library upon which the work[65] is based, and the full citation of the authorities followed in his notes, and the more general enumeration of them in his preliminary lists, make the work pre-eminent for its bibliographical extent, however insufficient, and at times careless, is the bibliographical record.[66]

The library formed by the late Henry C. Murphy of Brooklyn to assist him in his projected history of maritime discovery in America, of which only the chapter on Verrazano[67] has been printed, was the creation of diligent search for many years, part of which was spent in Holland as minister of the United States. The earliest record of it is a Catalogue of an American library chronologically arranged, which was[x] privately printed in a few copies, about 1850, and showed five hundred and eighty-nine entries between the years 1480 and 1800.[68]


There has been no catalogue printed of the library of Mr. James Carson Brevoort, so well known as a historical student and bibliographer, to whom Mr. Sabin dedicated the first volume of his Dictionary. Some of the choicer portions of his collection are understood to have become a part of the Astor Library, of which Mr. Brevoort was for a few years the superintendent, as well as a trustee.[69]

The useful and choice collection of Mr. Charles Deane, of Cambridge, Mass., to which, as the reader will discover, the Editor has often had recourse, has never been catalogued. Mr. Deane has made excellent use of it, as his tracts and papers abundantly show.[70]

A distinct class of helpers in the field of American bibliography has been those gatherers of libraries who are included under the somewhat indefinite term of collectors,—owners of books, but who make no considerable dependence[xi] upon them for studies which lead to publication. From such, however, in some instances, bibliography has notably gained,—as in the careful knowledge which Mr. James Lenox sometimes dispensed to scholars either in privately printed issues or in the pages of periodicals.


Harrisse in 1866 pointed to five Americana libraries in the United States as surpassing all of their kind in Europe,—the Carter-Brown, Barlow, Force, Murphy, and Lenox collections. Of the Barlow, Force (now in the Library of Congress), and Murphy collections mention has already been made.

The Lenox Library is no longer private, having been given to a board of trustees by Mr. Lenox previous to his death,[71] and handsomely housed, by whom it is held for a restricted public use, when fully catalogued and arranged. Its character, as containing only rare or unusual books, will necessarily withdraw it from the use of all but scholars engaged in recondite studies. It is very rich in other directions than American history; but in this department the partial access which Harrisse had to it while in Mr. Lenox’s house led him to infer that it would hold the first rank. The wealth of its alcoves, with their twenty-eight thousand volumes, is becoming known gradually in a series of bibliographical monographs, printed as contributions to its catalogue, of which six have[xii] thus far appeared, some of them clearly and mainly the work of Mr. Lenox himself.

Of these only three have illustrated American history in any degree,—those devoted to the voyages of Hulsius and Thévenot, and to the Jesuit Relations (Canada).[72]

The only rival of the Lenox is the library of the late John Carter Brown, of Providence, gathered largely under the supervision of John Russell Bartlett; and since Mr. Brown’s death it has been more particularly under the same oversight.[73] It differs from the Lenox Library in that it is exclusively American, or nearly so,[74] and still more in that we have access to a thorough catalogue of its resources, made by Mr. Bartlett himself, and sumptuously printed.[75] It was originally issued as Bibliotheca Americana: A Catalogue of books relating to North and South America in the Library of John Carter Brown of Providence, with notes by John Russell Bartlett, in three volumes,—vol. i., 1493-1600, in 1865 (302 entries); vol. ii., 1601-1700, in 1866 (1,160 entries); vol. iii., 1701-1800, in two parts, in 1870-1871 (4,173 entries).

In 1875 vol. i. was reprinted with fuller titles, covering the years 1482[76]-1601, with 600 entries, doubling the extent of that portion.[77] Numerous facsimiles of titles and maps add much to its value. A second and similarly extended edition of vol. ii. (1600-1700) was printed in 1882, showing 1,642 entries. The Carter-Brown Catalogue, as it is ordinarily cited, is the most extensive printed list of all Americana previous to 1800, more especially anterior to 1700, which now exists.[78]

Of the other important American catalogues, the first place is to be assigned to that of the collection formed at Hartford by Mr. George Brinley, the sale of which since his death[79] has been undertaken under the direction of Dr. J. Hammond Trumbull,[80] who has prepared the catalogue, and who claims—not without warrant—that it embraces “a greater number of volumes remarkable for their rarity, value, and interest to special collectors and to book-lovers in general, than were ever before brought together in an American sale-room.”[81]

The library of William Menzies, of New York, was sold in 1875, from a catalogue made by Joseph Sabin.[82] The library of Edward A. Crowninshield, of Boston, was catalogued in Boston in 1859, but withdrawn from public sale, and sold to Henry Stevens, who took a portion of it to London. It was not large,—the catalogue shows less than 1,200 titles,—and was not exclusively American; but it was rich in[xiii] some of the rarest of such books, particularly in regard to the English Colonies.[83]

The sale of John Allan’s collection in New York, in 1864, was a noteworthy one. Americana, however, were but a portion of the collection.[84] An English-American flavor of far less fineness, but represented in a catalogue showing a very large collection of books and pamphlets,[85] was sold in New York in May, 1870, as the property of Mr. E. P. Boon.

Mr. Thomas W. Field issued in 1873 An Essay towards an Indian Bibliography, being a Catalogue of books relating to the American Indians, in his own library, with a few others which he did not possess, distinguished by an asterisk. Mr. Field added many bibliographical and historical notes, and gave synopses, so that the catalogue is generally useful to the student of Americana, as he did not confine his survey to works dealing exclusively with the aborigines. The library upon which this bibliography was based was sold at public auction in New York, in two parts, in May, 1875 (3,324 titles), according to a catalogue which is a distinct publication from the Essay.[86]

The collection of Mr. Almon W. Griswold was dispersed by printed catalogues in 1876 and 1880, the former containing the American portion, rich in many of the rarer books.

Of the various private collections elsewhere than in the United States, more or less rich in Americana, mention may be made of the Bibliotheca Mejicana[87] of Augustin Fischer, London, 1869; of the Spanish-American libraries of Gregorio Beéche, whose catalogue was printed at Valparaiso in 1879; and that of Benjamin Vicuña Mackenna, printed at the same place in 1861.[88]

In Leipsic, the catalogue of Serge Sobolewski (1873)[89] was particularly helpful in the bibliography of Ptolemy, and in the voyages of De Bry and others. Some of the rarest of Americana were sold in the Sunderland sale[90] in London in 1881-1883; and remarkably rich collections were those of Pinart and Bourbourg,[91] sold in Paris in 1883, and that of Dr. J. Court,[92] the first part of which was sold in Paris in May, 1884. The second part had little of interest.

Still another distinctive kind of bibliographies is found in the catalogues of the better class of dealers; and among the best of such is to be placed the various lists printed by Henry Stevens, a native of Vermont, who has spent most of his manhood in London. In the dedication to John Carter Brown of his Schedule of Nuggets (1870), he gives some account of his early bibliographical quests.[93] Two years after graduating at Yale, he says, he had passed “at Cambridge, reading passively with legal Story, and actively with historical Sparks, all the while sifting and digesting the treasures of the Harvard Library. For five years previously he had scouted through several States during his vacations, prospecting in out-of-the-way places for historical nuggets, mousing through town libraries and country garrets in search of anything old that was historically new for Peter Force and his American Archives.... From Vermont to Delaware many an antiquated churn, sequestered hen-coop, and dilapidated flour-barrel had yielded to him rich harvests of old papers, musty books, and golden pamphlets. Finally, in 1845, an irrefragable desire impelled him to visit the Old World, its libraries and book-stalls. Mr. Brown’s enlightened liberality in those primitive years of his bibliographical pupilage contributed largely towards the boiling of his kettle.... In acquiring con amore these American Historiadores Primitivos, he ... travelled far and near. In this labor of love, this journey of life, his tracks often become your tracks, his labors your works, his [xiv]libri your liberi,” he adds, in addressing Mr. Brown.

In 1848 Mr. Stevens proposed the publication, through the Smithsonian Institution, of a general Bibliographia Americana, illustrating the sources of early American history;[94] but the project failed, and one or more attempts later made to begin the work also stopped short of a beginning. While working as a literary agent of the Smithsonian Institution and other libraries, in these years, and beginning that systematic selection of American books, for the British Museum and Bodleian, which has made these libraries so nearly, if not quite, the equal of any collection of Americana in the United States, he also made the transcriptions and indexes of the documents in the State Paper Office which respectively concern the States of New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Virginia. These labors are now preserved in the archives of those States.[95] Perhaps the earliest of his sale catalogues was that of a pseudo “Count Mondidier,” embracing Americana, which were sold in London in December, 1851.[96] His English Library in 1853 was without any distinctive American flavor; but in 1854 he began, but suspended after two numbers, the American Bibliographer (100 copies).[97] In 1856 he prepared a Catalogue of American Books and Maps in the British Museum (20,000 titles), which, however, was never regularly published, but copies bear date 1859, 1862, and 1866.[98] In 1858—though most copies are dated 1862[99]—appeared his Historical Nuggets; Bibliotheca Americana, or a descriptive Account of my Collection of rare books relating to America. The two little volumes show about three thousand titles, and Harrisse says they are printed “with remarkable accuracy.” There was begun in 1885, in connection with his son Mr. Henry Newton Stevens, a continuation of these Nuggets. In 1861 a sale catalogue of his Bibliotheca Americana (2,415 lots), issued by Puttick and Simpson, and in part an abridgment of the Nuggets with similarly careful collations, was accepted by Maisonneuve as the model of his Bibliothèque Américaine later to be mentioned.[100]

In 1869-1870 Mr. Stevens visited America, and printed at New Haven his Historical and Geographical Notes on the earliest discoveries in America, 1453-1530, with photo-lithographic facsimiles of some of the earliest maps. It is a valuable essay, much referred to, in which the author endeavored to indicate the entanglement of the Asiatic and American coast lines in the early cartography.[101]

In 1870 he sold at Boston a collection of five thousand volumes, catalogued as Bibliotheca Historica[102] (2,545 entries), being mostly Americana, from the library of the elder Henry Stevens of Vermont. It has a characteristic introduction, with an array of readable notes.[103] His catalogues have often such annotations, inserted on a principle which he explains in the introduction to this one: “In the course of many years of bibliographical study and research, having picked up various isolated grains of knowledge respecting the early history, geography, and bibliography of this western hemisphere, the writer has thought it well to pigeon-hole the facts in notes long and short.”

In October, 1870, he printed at London a Schedule of Two Thousand American Historical Nuggets taken from the Stevens Diggings in September, 1870, and set down in Chronological Order of Printing from 1490 to 1800 [1776], described and recommended as a Supplement to my printed Bibliotheca Americana. It included 1,350 titles.

In 1872 he sold another collection, largely Americana, according to a catalogue entitled Bibliotheca Geographica & Historica; or, a Catalogue of [3,109 lots], illustrative of historical geography and geographical history. Collected, used, and described, with an Introductory Essay on Catalogues, and how to make them upon the Stevens system of photo-bibliography. The title calls it a first part; but no second part ever appeared. Ten copies were issued, with about four hundred[xv] photographic copies of titles inserted. Some copies are found without the essay.[104]

The next year (1873) he issued a privately printed list of two thousand titles of American “Continuations,” as they are called by librarians, or serial publications in progress as taken at the British Museum, quaintly terming the list American books with tails to ’em.[105]

Finally, in 1881, he printed Part I. of Stevens’s Historical Collections, a sale catalogue showing 1,625 titles of books, chiefly Americana, and including his Franklin Collection of manuscripts, which he later privately sold to the United States Government, an agent of the Boston Public Library yielding to the nation.[106]

One of the earliest to establish an antiquarian bookshop in the United States was the late Samuel G. Drake, who opened one in Boston in 1830.[107] His special field was that of the North American Indians; and the history and antiquities of the aborigines, together with the history of the English Colonies, give a character to his numerous catalogues.[108] Mr. Drake died in 1875, from a cold taken at a sale of the library of Daniel Webster; and his final collections of books were scattered in two sales in the following year.[109]

William Gowans, of New York, was another of the early dealers in Americana.[110] The catalogues of Bartlett and Welford have already been mentioned. In 1854, while Garrigue and Christern were acting as agents of Mr. Lenox, they printed Livres Curieux, a list of desiderata sought for by Mr. Lenox, pertaining to such rarities as the letters of Columbus, Cartier, parts of De Bry and Hulsius, and the Jesuit Relations. This list was circulated widely through Europe, but not twenty out of the 216 titles were ever offered.[111]

About 1856, Charles B. Norton, of New York, began to issue American catalogues; and in 1857 he established Norton’s Literary Letter, intended to foster interest in the collection of Americana.[112] A little later, Joel Munsell, of Albany, began to issue catalogues;[113] and J. W. Randolph, of Richmond, Virginia, more particularly illustrated the history of the southern parts of the United States.[114] The most important Americana lists at present issued by American dealers are those of Robert Clarke & Co., of Cincinnati, which are admirable specimens of such lists.[115]

In England, the catalogues of Henry Stevens and E. G. Allen have been already mentioned.[xvi] The leading English dealer at present in the choicer books of Americana, as of all other subjects—and it is not too much to say, the leading one of the world—is Mr. Bernard Quaritch, a Prussian by birth, who was born in 1819, and after some service in the book-trade in his native country came to London in 1842, and entered the service of Henry G. Bohn, under whose instruction, and as a fellow-employé of Lowndes the bibliographer, he laid the foundations of a remarkable bibliographical acquaintance. A short service in Paris brought him the friendship of Brunet. Again (1845) he returned to Mr. Bohn’s shop; but in April, 1847, he began business in London for himself. He issued his catalogues at once on a small scale; but they took their well-known distinctive form in 1848, which they have retained, except during the interval December, 1854,-May, 1864, when, to secure favorable consideration in the post-office rates, the serial was called The Museum. It has been his habit, at intervals, to collect his occasional catalogues into volumes, and provide them with an index. The first of these (7,000 entries) was issued in 1860. Others have been issued in 1864, 1868, 1870, 1874, 1877 (this with the preceding constituting one work, showing nearly 45,000 entries or 200,000 volumes), and 1880 (describing 28,009 books).[116] In the preface to this last catalogue he says: “The prices of useful and learned books are in all cases moderate; the prices of palæographical and bibliographical curiosities are no doubt in most cases high, that indeed being a natural result of the great rivalry between English, French, and American collectors.... A fine copy of any edition of a book is, and ought to be, more than twice as costly as any other.”[117] While the Quaritch catalogues have been general, they have included a large share of the rarest Americana, whose titles have been illustrated with bibliographical notes characterized by intimate acquaintance with the secrets of the more curious lore.

The catalogues of John Russell Smith (1849, 1853, 1865, 1867), and of his successor Alfred Russell Smith (1871, 1874), are useful aids in this department.[118] The Bibliotheca Hispano-Americana of Trübner, printed in 1870, offered about thirteen hundred items.[119] Occasional reference can be usefully made to the lists of George Bumstead, Ellis and White, John Camden Hotten, all of London, and to those of William George of Bristol. The latest extensive Americana catalogue is A catalogue of rare and curious books, all of which relate more or less to America, on sale by F. S. Ellis, London, 1884. It shows three hundred and forty-two titles, including many of the rarer books, which are held at prices startling even to one accustomed to the rapid rise in the cost of books of this description. Many of them were sold by auction in 1885.

In France, since Ternaux, the most important contribution has come from the house of Maisonneuve et Cie., by whom the Bibliotheca Americana of Charles Leclerc has been successively issued to represent their extraordinary stock. The first edition was printed in 1867 (1,647 entries), the second in 1878[120] (2,638 entries, with an admirable index), besides a first supplement in 1881 (nos. 2,639-3,029). Mr. Quaritch characterizes it as edited “with admirable skill and knowledge.”

Less important but useful lists, issued in France, have been those of Hector Bossange, Edwin Tross,[121] and the current Americana series of Dufossé, which was begun in 1876.[122]

In Holland, most admirable work has been done by Frederik Muller, of Amsterdam, and by Mr. Asher, Mr. Tiele, and Mr. Otto Harrassowitz under his patronage, of which ample accounts[xvii] are given in another place.[123] Muller’s catalogues were begun in 1850, but did not reach distinctive merit till 1872.[124] Martin Nijhoff, at the Hague, has also issued some American catalogues.

In 1858 Muller sold one of his collections of Americana to Brockhaus, of Leipsic, and the Bibliothèque Américaine issued by that publisher in 1861, as representing this collection, was compiled by one of the editors of the Serapeum, Paul Trömel, whom Harrisse characterizes as an “expert bibliographer and trustworthy scholar.” The list shows 435 entries by a chronological arrangement (1507-1700). Brockhaus again, in 1866, issued another American list, showing books since 1508, arranged topically (nos. 7,261-8,611). Mr. Otto Harrassowitz, of Leipsic, a pupil of Muller, of Amsterdam, has also entered the field as a purveyor of choice Americana. T. O. Weigel, of Leipsic, issued a catalogue, largely American, in 1877.

So well known are the general bibliographies of Watt, Lowndes, Brunet, Graesse, and others, that it is not necessary to point out their distinctive merits.[125] Students in this field are familiar with the catalogues of the chief American libraries. The library of Harvard College has not issued a catalogue since 1834, though it now prints bulletins of its current accessions. An admirable catalogue of the Boston Athenæum brings the record of that collection down to 1871. The numerous catalogues of the Boston Public Library are of much use, especially the distinct volume given to the Prince Collection. The Massachusetts Historical Society’s library has a catalogue printed in 1859-60. There has been no catalogue of the American Antiquarian Society since 1837, and the New England Historic Genealogical Society has never printed any; nor has the Congregational Library. The State Library at Boston issued a catalogue in 1880. These libraries, with the Carter-Brown Library at Providence, which is courteously opened to students properly introduced, probably make Boston within easy distance of a larger proportion of the books illustrating American history, than can be reached with equal convenience from any other literary centre. A book on the private libraries of Boston was compiled by Luther Farnham in 1855; but many of the private collections then existing have since been scattered.[126] General Horatio Rogers has made a similar record of those in Providence. After the Carter-Brown Collection, the most valuable of these private libraries in New England is probably that of Mr. Charles Deane in Cambridge, of which mention has already been made. The collection of the Rev. Henry M. Dexter, D.D., of New Bedford, is probably unexampled in this country for the history of the Congregational movement, which so largely affected the early history of the English Colonies.[127]

Two other centres in the United States are of the first importance in this respect. In Washington, with the Library of Congress (of which a general consolidated catalogue is now printing), embracing as it does the collection formed by Col. Peter Force, and supplementing the archives of the Government, an investigator of American history is situated extremely favorably.[128] In New York the Astor and Lenox libraries, with those of the New York Historical Society and American Geographical Society, give the student great opportunities. The catalogue of the Astor Library was printed in 1857-66,[xviii] and that of the Historical Society in 1859. No general catalogue of the Lenox Library has yet been printed. An account of the private libraries of New York was published by Dr. Wynne in 1860. The libraries of the chief importance at the present time, in respect to American history, are those of Mr. S. L. M. Barlow in New York, and of Mr. James Carson Brevoort in Brooklyn. Mr. Charles H. Kalbfleisch of New York has a small collection, but it embraces some of the rarest books. The New York State Library at Albany is the chief of the libraries of its class, and its principal characteristic pertains to American history.

The other chief American cities are of much less importance as centres for historical research. The Philadelphia Library and the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania are hardly of distinctive value, except in regard to the history of that State. In Baltimore the library of the Peabody Institute, of which the first volume of an excellent catalogue has been printed, and that of the Maryland Historical Society are scarcely sufficient for exhaustive research. The private library of Mr. H. H. Bancroft constitutes the only important resource of the Pacific States;[129] and the most important collection in Canada is that represented by the catalogue of the Library of Parliament, which was printed in 1858.

This enumeration is intended only to indicate the chief places for ease of general investigation in American history. Other localities are rich in local helps, and accounts of such will be found elsewhere in the present History.[130]



By the Editor.


OF the earliest collection of voyages of which we have any mention we possess only a defective copy, which is in the Biblioteca Marciana, and is called Libretto de tutta la navigazione del Rè di Spagna delle isole e terreni nuovamente scoperti stampato per Vercellese. It was published at Venice in 1504,[131] and is said to contain the first three voyages of Columbus. This account, together with the narrative of Cabral’s voyage printed at Rome and Milan, and an original—at present unknown—of Vespucius’ third voyage, were embodied, with other matter, in the Paesi novamente retrovati et novo mondo da Alberico Vesputio Florentino intitulato, published at Vicentia in 1507,[132] and again possibly at Vicentia in 1508,—though the evidence is wanting to support the statement,—but certainly at Milan in that year[xx] (1508).[133] There were later editions in 1512,[134] 1517,[135] 1519[136] (published at Milan), and 1521.[137] There are also German,[138] Low German,[139] Latin,[140] and French[141] translations.

While this Zorzi-Montalboddo compilation was flourishing, an Italian scholar, domiciled in Spain, was recording, largely at first hand, the varied reports of the voyages which were then opening a new existence to the world. This was Peter Martyr, of whom Harrisse[142] cites an early and quaint sketch from Hernando Alonso de Herrera’s Disputatio adversus Aristotelez (1517).[143] The general historians have always made due acknowledgment of his service to them.[144]

Harrisse could find no evidence of Martyr’s First Decade having been printed at Seville as early as 1500, as is sometimes stated; but it has been held that a translation of it,—though no copy is now known,—made by Angelo Trigviano into Italian was the Libretto de tutta la navigazione del Rè di Spagna, already mentioned.[145] The earliest unquestioned edition was that of 1511, which was printed at Seville with the title Legatio Babylonica; it contained nine books and a part of the tenth book of the First Decade.[146] In 1516 a new edition, without map, was printed at Alcalá in Roman letter. The part of the tenth book of the First Decade in the 1511 edition is here annexed to the ninth, and a new tenth book is added, besides two other decades, making three in all.[147]


There exists what has been called a German version (Die Schiffung mitt dem lanndt der Gulden Insel) of the First Decade, in which the supposed author is called Johan von Angliara; and its date is 1520, or thereabout; but Mr. Deane, who has the book, says that it is not Martyr’s.[148] Some Poemata, which had originally been included in the publication of the First Decade, were separately printed in 1520.[149]


At Basle in 1521 appeared his De nuper sub D. Carolo repertis insulis, the title of which is annexed in fac-simile. Harrisse[150] has called it an extract from the Fourth Decade; and a similar statement is made in the Carter-Brown Catalogue (vol. i. no. 67). But Stevens and other authorities define it as a substitute for the lost First Letter of Cortes, touching the expedition of Grijalva and the invasion of Mexico; and it supplements, rather than overlaps, Martyr’s other narratives.[151] Mr. Deane contends that if the Fourth Decade had then been written, this might well be considered an abridgment of it.

The first complete edition (De orbe novo) of all the eight decades was published in 1530 at Complutum; and with it is usually found the map (“Tipus orbis universalis”) of Apianus, which originally appeared in Camer’s Solinus in 1520. In this new issue the map has its date changed to 1530.[152]

In 1532, at Paris, appeared an abridgment in French of the first three decades, together with an abstract of Martyr’s De insulis (Basle, 1521), followed by abridgments of the printed second and third letters of Cortes,—the whole bearing the title, Extraict ov Recveil des Isles nouuellemēt trouuees en la grand mer Oceane[xxii] en temps du roy Despaigne Fernād & Elizabeth sa femme, faict premierement en latin par Pierre Martyr de Millan, & depuis translate en languaige francoys.[153]


In 1533, at Basle, in folio, we find the first three decades and the tract of 1521 (De insulis) united in De rebus oceanicis et orbe novo.[154]

At Venice, in 1534, the Summario de la generale historia de l’Indie occidentali was a joint issue of Martyr and Oviedo, under the editing of Ramusio.[155] An edition of Martyr, published at Paris in 1536, sometimes mentioned,[156] does not apparently exist;[157] but an edition of 1537 is noted by Sabin.[158] In 1555 Richard Eden’s Decades of the Newe Worlde, or West India, appeared in black-letter at London. It is made up in large part from Martyr,[159] and was the basis of Richard Willes’ edition of Eden in 1577, which included the first four decades, and an abridgment of the last four, with additions from Oviedo and others,—all under the new name, The History of Trauayle.[160]

There was an edition again at Cologne in 1574,—the one which Robertson used.[161] Three decades and the De insulis are also included in a composite folio published at Basle in 1582, containing also Benzoni and Levinus, all in German.[162] The entire eight decades, in Latin, which had not been printed together since the Basle edition of 1530, were published in Paris in 1587 under the editing of Richard Hakluyt, with the title: De orbe novo Petri Martyris Anglerii Mediolanensis, protonotarij, et Caroli quinti senatoris Decades octo, diligenti temporum obseruatione, et vtilissimis annotationibus illustratæ, suôque nitori restitutæ, labore et industria Richardi Haklvyti Oxoniensis Angli. Additus est in vsum lectoris accuratus totius operis index. Parisiis, apud Gvillelmvm Avvray, 1587. With its “F. G.” map, it is exceedingly rare.[163]



Fac-simile of cut in Reusner’s Icones (Strasburg, 1590), p. 107.

As illustrating in some sort his more labored work, the Opus epistolarum Petri Martyris was first printed at Complutum in 1530.[164] The letters were again published at Amsterdam, in 1670,[165] in an edition which had the care of Ch. Patin, to which was appended other letters by Fernando del Pulgar.[166]

The most extensive of the early collections was the Novus orbis, which was issued in separate editions at Basle and Paris in 1532. Simon Grynæus, a learned professor at Basle, signed the preface; and it usually passes under his name. Grynæus was born in Swabia, was a friend of Luther, visited England in 1531, and died in Basle, in 1541. The compilation, however, is the work of a canon of Strasburg, John Huttich (born about 1480; died, 1544), but the labor of revision fell on Grynæus.[167] It has the first three voyages of Columbus, and those of Pinzon and Vespucius; the rest of the book is taken up with the travels of Marco Polo and his successors to the East.[168] It[xxv] next appeared in a German translation at Strasburg in 1534, which was made by Michal Herr, Die New Welt. It has no map, gives more from Martyr than the other edition, and substitutes a preface by Herr for that of Grynæus.[169] The original Latin was reproduced at Basle again in 1537, with 1536 in the colophon.[170] In 1555 another edition was printed at Basle, enlarged upon the 1537 edition by the insertion of the second and third of the Cortes letters and some accounts of efforts in converting the Indians.[171] Those portions relating to America exclusively were reprinted in the Latin at Rotterdam in 1616.[172]

Sebastian Münster, who was born in 1489, was forty-three years old when his map of the world—which is preserved in the Paris (1532) edition of the Novus orbis—appeared. This is the first time that Münster significantly comes before us as a describer of the geography of the New World. Again in 1540 and 1542 he was associated with the editions of Ptolemy issued at Basle in those years.[173] It is, however, upon his Cosmographia, among his forty books, that Münster’s fame chiefly rests. The earliest editions are extremely rare, and seem not to be clearly defined by the bibliographers. It appears to have been originally issued in German, probably in 1544 at Basle,[174] under the mixed title: Cosmographia. Beschreibūg aller lender Durch Sebastianum Munsterum. Getruckt zü Basel durch Henrichum Petri, Anno MDxliiij.[175] He says that he had been engaged upon it for eighteen years, keeping Strabo before him as a model. To the section devoted to Asia he adds a few pages “Von den neüwen inseln” (folios[xxvi] dcxxxv-dcxlij).


Fac-simile of the cut in the Ptolemy of 1552.

This account was scant; and though it was a little enlarged in the second edition in 1545,[176] it remained of small extent through subsequent editions, and was confined to ten pages in that of 1614. The last of the German editions appeared in 1628.[177] The earliest[xxvii] undoubted Latin text[178] appeared at Basle in 1550, with the same series of new views, etc., by Manuel Deutsch, which were given in the German edition of that date.[179] With nothing[xxviii] but a change of title apparently, there were reissues of this edition in 1551, 1552, and 1554,[180] and again in 1559.[181] The edition of 1572 has the same map, “Novæ insulæ,” used in the 1554 editions; but new names are added, and new plates of Cusco and Cuba are also furnished.[182]


Fac-simile of a cut in Reusner’s Icones (Strasburg, 1590), p. 171.

The earliest French edition, according to Brunet,[183] appeared in 1552; and other editions followed in that language.[184] Eden gave the fifth book an English dress in 1553, which was again issued in 1572 and 1574.[185] A Bohemian edition, made by Jan z Puchowa, Kozmograffia Czieská, was issued in 1554.[186] The first Italian edition was printed at Basle in 1558, using the engraved plates of the other Basle issues; and finally, in 1575, an Italian edition, according to Brunet,[187] appeared at Colonia.


The best-known collection of voyages of the sixteenth century is that of Ramusio, whose third volume—compiled probably in 1553, and printed in 1556—is given exclusively to American voyages.[188] It contains, however, little regarding Columbus not given by Peter Martyr and Oviedo, except the letter to Fracastoro.[189] In Ramusio the narratives of these early voyages first got a careful and considerate editor,[xxix] who at this time was ripe in knowledge and experience, for he was well beyond sixty,[190] and he had given his maturer years to historical and geographical study. He had at one time maintained a school for topographical studies in his own house. Oviedo tells us of the assistance Ramusio was to him in his work. Locke has praised his labors without stint.[191]

Monardes, one of the distinguished Spanish physicians of this time, was busy seeking for the simples and curatives of the New World plants, as the adventurers to New Spain brought them back. The original issue of his work was the Dos Libros, published at Seville in 1565, treating “of all things brought from our West Indies which are used in medicine, and of the Bezaar Stone, and the herb Escuerçonera.” This book is become rare, and is priced as high as 200 francs and £9.[192] The “segunda parte” is sometimes found separately with the date 1571; but in 1574 a third part was printed with the other two,—making the complete work, Historia medicinal de nuestras Indias,—and these were again issued in 1580.[193] An Italian version, by Annibale Briganti, appeared at Venice in 1575 and 1589,[194] and a French, with Du Jardin, in 1602.[195] There were three English editions printed under the title of Joyfull Newes out of the newe founde world, wherein is declared the rare and singular virtues of diverse and sundry Herbes, Trees, Oyles, Plantes, and Stones, by Doctor Monardus of Sevill, Englished by John Frampton, which first appeared in 1577, and was reprinted in 1580, with additions from Monardes’ other tracts, and again in 1596.[196]

The Spanish historians of affairs in Mexico, Peru, and Florida are grouped in the Hispanicarum rerum scriptores, published at Frankfort in 1579-1581, in three volumes.[197] Of Richard Hakluyt and his several collections,—the Divers Voyages of 1582, the Principall Navigations of[xxx] 1589, and his enlarged edition, of which the third volume (1600) relates to America,—there is an account in Vol. III. of the present work.[198]


This follows a print given in fac-simile in the Carter-Brown Catalogue, i. 316.

The great undertaking of De Bry was also begun towards the close of the same century. De Bry was an engraver at Frankfort, and his professional labors had made him acquainted with works of travel. The influence of Hakluyt and a visit to the English editor stimulated him to undertake a task similar to that of[xxxi] the English compiler.


Sigmund Feyerabend was a prominent bookseller of his day in Frankfort, and was born about 1527 or 1528. He was an engraver himself, and was associated with De Bry in the publications of his Voyages.

He resolved to include both the Old and New World; and he finally produced his volumes simultaneously in Latin and German. As he gave a larger size to the American parts than to the others, the commonly used title, referring to this difference, was soon established as Grands et petits voyages.[199] Theodore De Bry himself died in March, 1598; but the work was carried forward by his widow, by his sons John Theodore and John Israel, and by his sons-in-law Matthew Merian and William Fitzer. The task was not finished till 1634, when twenty-five parts had been printed in the Latin, of which thirteen pertain to America; but the German has one more part in the American series. His first part—which was Hariot’s Virginia—was printed not only in Latin and German, but also in the original English[200] and in French; but there seeming to be no adequate demand in these languages, the subsequent issues were confined to Latin and German. There was a gap in the[xxxii] dates of publication between 1600 (when the ninth part is called “postrema pars”) and 1619-1620, when the tenth and eleventh parts appeared at Oppenheim, and a twelfth at Frankfort in 1624. A thirteenth and fourteenth part appeared in German in 1628 and 1630; and these, translated together into Latin, completed the Latin series in 1634.

Without attempting any bibliographical description,[201] the succession and editions of the American parts will be briefly enumerated:—

I. Hariot’s Virginia. In Latin, English, German, and French, in 1590; four or more impressions of the Latin the same year. Other editions of the German in 1600 and 1620.

II. Le Moyne’s Florida. In Latin, 1591 and 1609; in German, 1591, 1603.

III. Von Staden’s Brazil. In Latin, 1592, 1605, 1630; in German, 1593 (twice).

IV. Benzoni’s New World. In Latin, 1594 (twice), 1644; in German, 1594, 1613.

V. Continuation of Benzoni. In Latin, 1595 (twice); in German, two editions without date, probably 1595 and 1613.

VI. Continuation of Benzoni (Peru). In Latin, 1596, 1597, 1617; in German, 1597, 1619.

VII. Schmidel’s Brazil. In Latin, 1599, 1625; in German, 1597, 1600, 1617.

VIII. Drake, Candish, and Ralegh. In Latin, 1599 (twice), 1625; in German, 1599, 1624.

IX. Acosta, etc. In Latin, 1602, 1633; in German, probably 1601; “additamentum,” 1602; and again entire after 1620.

X. Vespucius, Hamor, and John Smith. In Latin, 1619 (twice); in German, 1618.

XI. Schouten and Spilbergen. In Latin, 1619,—appendix, 1620; in German, 1619,—appendix, 1620.

XII. Herrera. In Latin, 1624; in German, 1623.

XIII. Miscellaneous,—Cabot, etc. In Latin, 1634; in German, the first seven sections in 1627 (sometimes 1628); and sections 8-15 in 1630.

Elenchus: Historia Americæ sive Novus orbis, 1634 (three issues). This is a table of the Contents to the edition which Merian was selling in 1634 under a collective title.

The foregoing enumeration makes no recognition of the almost innumerable varieties caused by combination, which sometimes pass for new editions. Some of the editions of the same date are usually called “counterfeits;” and there are doubts, even, if some of those here named really deserve recognition as distinct editions.[202]


While there is distinctive merit in De Bry’s collection, which caused it to have a due effect in its day on the progress of geographical knowledge,[203] it must be confessed that a certain meretricious reputation has become attached to the work as the test of a collector’s assiduity, and of his supply of money, quite disproportioned to the relative use of the collection in these days to a student. This artificial appreciation has no doubt been largely due to the engravings, which form so attractive a feature in the series, and which, while they in many cases are the honest rendering of genuine sketches, are certainly in not a few the merest fancy of some designer.[204]

There are several publications of the De Brys sometimes found grouped with the Voyages as a part, though not properly so, of the series. Such are Las Casas’ Narratio regionum Indicarum; the voyages of the “Silberne Welt,” by Arthus von Dantzig, and of Olivier van Noort;[205] the Rerum et urbis Amstelodamensium historia of Pontanus, with its Dutch voyages to the north; and the Navigations aux Indes par les Hollandois.[206]

Another of De Bry’s editors, Gasper Ens, published in 1680 his West-unnd-Ost Indischer Lustgart, which is a summary of the sources of American history.[207]

There are various abridgments of De Bry. The earliest is Ziegler’s America, Frankfort, 1614,[208] which is made up from the first nine parts of the German Grands Voyages. The Historia antipodum, oder Newe Welt (1631), is the first twelve parts condensed by Johann Ludwig Gottfried, otherwise known as Johann Phillippe Abelin, who was, in Merian’s day, a co-laborer on the Voyages. He uses a large number of the plates from the larger work.[209] The chief rival collection of De Bry is that of Hulsius, which is described elsewhere.[210]

Collections now became numerous. Conrad Löw’s Meer oder Seehanen Buch was published at Cologne in 1598.[211] The Dutch Collection of Voyages, issued by Cornelius Claesz, appeared in uniform style between 1598 and 1603, but it never had a collective title. It gives the voyages of Cavendish and Drake.[212]

It was well into the next century (1613) when Purchas began his publications, of which there[xxxiv] is an account elsewhere.[213] Hieronymus Megiser’s Septentrio novantiquus was published at Leipsic in 1613. In a single volume it gave the Zeni and later accounts of the North, besides narratives pertaining to New France and Virginia.[214] The Journalen van de Reysen op Oostindie of Michael Colijn, published at Amsterdam in 1619, is called by Muller[215] the first series of voyages published in Dutch with a collective title. It includes, notwithstanding the title, Cavendish, Drake, and Raleigh. Another Dutch folio, Herckmans’ Der Zeevaert lof, etc. (Amsterdam, 1634), does not include any American voyages.[216] The celebrated Dutch collection, edited by Isaac Commelin, at Amsterdam, and known as the Begin en Voortgangh van de Oost-Indische Compagnie, would seem originally to have included, among its voyages to the East and North,[217] those of Raleigh and Cavendish; but they were later omitted.[218]

The collection of Thevenot was issued in 1663; but this has been described elsewhere.[219] The collection usually cited as Dapper’s was printed at Amsterdam, 1669-1729, in folio (thirteen volumes). It has no collective title, but among the volumes are two touching America,—the Beschrijvinge of Montanus,[220] and Nienhof’s Brasiliaansche Zee-en Lantreize.[221] A small collection, Recueil de divers voyages faits en Africa et en l’Amérique,[222] was published in Paris by Billaine in 1674. It includes Blome’s Jamaica, Laborde on the Caribs, etc. Some of the later American voyages were also printed in the second edition of a Swedish Reesa-book, printed at Wysingzborg in 1674, 1675.[223] The Italian collection, Il genio vagante, was printed at Parma in 1691-1693, in four volumes.

An Account of Several Voyages (London, 1694) gives Narborough’s to Magellan’s Straits, and Marten’s to Greenland.

The important English Collection of Voyages and Travels which passes under the name of its publisher, Churchill, took its earliest form in 1704, appearing in four volumes; but was afterwards increased by two additional volumes in 1733, and by two more in 1744,—these last, sometimes called the Oxford Voyages, being made up from material in the library of the Earl of Oxford. It was reissued complete in 1752. It has an introductory discourse by Caleb Locke; and this, and some other of its contents, constitutes the Histoire de la navigation, Paris, 1722.[224]

John Harris, an English divine, had compiled a Collection of Voyages in 1702 which was a rival of Churchill’s, differing from it in being an historical summary of all voyages, instead of a collection of some. Harris wrote the Introduction; but it is questionable how much else he had to do with it.[225] It was revised and reissued in 1744-1748 by Dr. John Campbell, and in this form it is often regarded as a supplement to Churchill.[226] It was reprinted in two[xxxv] volumes, folio, with continuations to date, in 1764.[227]

The well-known Dutch collection (Voyagien) of Vander Aa was printed at Leyden in 1706, 1707. It gives voyages to all parts of the world made between 1246 and 1693. He borrows from Herrera, Acosta, Purchas, De Bry, and all available sources, and illuminates the whole with about five hundred maps and plates. In its original form it made twenty-eight, sometimes thirty, volumes of small size, in black-letter, and eight volumes in folio, both editions being issued at the same time and from the same type. In this larger form the voyages are arranged by nations; and it was the unsold copies of this edition which, with a new general title, constitutes the edition of 1727. In the smaller form the arrangement is chronological. In the folio edition the voyages to Spanish America previous to 1540 constitute volumes three and four; while the English voyages, to 1696, are in volumes five and six.[228]

In 1707 Du Perier’s Histoire universelle des voyages had not so wide a scope as its title indicated, being confined to the early Spanish voyages to America;[229] the proposed subsequent volumes not having been printed. An English translation, under Du Perier’s name, was issued in London in 1708;[230] but when reissued in 1711, with a different title, it credited the authorship to the Abbé Bellegarde.[231] In 1711, also, Captain John Stevens published in London his New Collection of Voyages; but Lawson’s Carolina and Cieza’s Peru were the only American sections.[232] In 1715 the French collection known as Bernard’s Recueil de voiages au Nord, was begun at Amsterdam. A pretty wide interpretation is given to the restricted designation of the title, and voyages to California, Louisiana, the Upper Mississippi (Hennepin), Virginia, and Georgia are included.[233] Daniel Coxe, in 1741, united in one volume A Collection of Voyages, three of which he had already printed separately, including Captain James’s to the Northwest. A single volume of a collection called The American Traveller appeared in London in 1743.[234]

The collection known as Astley’s Voyages was published in London in four volumes in 1745-1747; the editor was John Green, whose name is sometimes attached to the work. It gives the travels of Marco Polo, but has nothing of the early voyages to America,[235]—these being intended for later volumes, were never printed. These four volumes were translated, with some errors and omissions, into French, and constitute the first nine volumes of the Abbé Prevost’s Histoire générale des voyages, begun in Paris in 1746, and completed, in twenty quarto volumes, in 1789.[236] An octavo edition was printed (1749-1770) in seventy-five volumes.[237] It was again reprinted at the Hague in twenty-five volumes quarto (1747-1780), with considerable revision, following the original English, and with Green’s assistance; besides showing some additions. The Dutch editor was P. de Hondt, who also issued an edition in Dutch in twenty-one volumes quarto,—including, however, only the first seventeen volumes of his French edition, thus omitting those chiefly concerning America.[238] A small collection of little moment, A New Universal Collection of Voyages, appeared in London in 1755.[239] De Brosses’ Histoire des navigations aux terres australes depuis 1501 (Paris, 1756), two volumes quarto, covers Vespucius, Magellan, Drake, and Cavendish.[240]


Several English collections appeared in the next few years; among which are The World Displayed (London, 1759-1761), twenty vols. 16mo,—of which seven volumes are on American voyages, compiled from the larger collections,[241]—and A Curious Collection of Travels (London, 1761) is in eight volumes, three of which are devoted to America.[242]

The Abbé de la Porte’s Voyageur François, in forty-two volumes, 1765-1795 (there are other dates), may be mentioned to warn the student of its historical warp with a fictitious woof.[243] John Barrows’ Collection of Voyages (London, 1765), in three small volumes, was translated into French by Targe under the title of Abrégé chronologique. John Callender’s Voyages to the Terra australis (London, 1766-1788), three volumes, translated for the first time a number of the narratives in De Bry, Hulsius, and Thevenot. It gives the voyages of Vespucius, Magellan, Drake, Galle, Cavendish, Hawkins, and others.[244] Dodsley’s Compendium of Voyages was published in the same year (1766) in seven volumes.[245] The New Collection of Voyages, generally referred to as Knox’s, from the publisher’s name, appeared in seven volumes in 1767, the first three volumes covering American explorations.[246] In 1770 Edward Cavendish Drake’s New Universal Collection of Voyages was published at London. The narratives are concise, and of a very popular character.[247] David Henry, a magazinist of the day, published in 1773-1774 An Historical Account of all the Voyages Round the World by English Navigators, beginning with Drake and Cavendish.[248]

La Harpe issued in Paris, 1780-1801, in thirty-two volumes,—Comeyras editing the last eleven,—his Abrégé de l’histoire générale des voyages, which proved a more readable and popular book than Prévost’s collection. There have been later editions and continuations.[249]

Johann Reinhold Forster made a positive contribution to this field of compilation when he printed his Geschichte der Entdeckungen und Schifffahrten im Norden at Frankfort in 1785.[250] He goes back to the earliest explorations, and considers the credibility of the Zeno narrative. He starts with Gomez for the Spanish section. A French collection by Berenger, Voyages faits autour du monde (Paris, 1788-1789), is very scant on Magellan, Drake, and Cavendish. A collection was published in London (1789) by Richardson on the voyages of the Portuguese and Spaniards during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Mavor’s Voyages, Travels, and Discoveries (London, 1796-1802), twenty-five volumes, is a condensed treatment, which passed to other editions in 1810 and 1813-1815.

A standard compilation appeared in John Pinkerton’s General Collection of Voyages (London, 1808-1814), in seventeen volumes,[251] with over two hundred maps and plates, repeating the essential English narratives of earlier collections, and translating those from foreign languages afresh, preserving largely the language of the explorers. Pinkerton, as an editor, was learned, but somewhat pedantic and over-confident; and a certain agglutinizing habit indicates a process of amassment rather than of selection and assimilation. Volumes xii., xiii., and xiv. are given to America; but the operations of the Spaniards on the main, and particularly on the Pacific coast of North America, are rather scantily chronicled.[252]

In 1808 was begun, under the supervision of Malte-Brun and others, the well-known Annales des voyages, which was continued to 1815, making twenty-five volumes. A new series, Nouvelles annales des voyages, was begun in 1819. The whole work is an important gathering of original sources and learned comment, and is in considerable part devoted to America. A French Collection abrégée des voyages, by Bancarel, appeared in Paris in 1808-1809, in twelve volumes.

The Collection of the best Voyages and Travels, compiled by Robert Kerr, and published in Edinburgh in 1811-1824, in eighteen octavo volumes, is a useful one, though the scheme was not wholly carried out. It includes an historical essay on the progress of navigation and discovery by W. Stevenson. It also includes among others the Northmen and Zeni voyages, the travels of Marco Polo and Galvano, the African discoveries of the Portuguese. The voyages of Columbus and his successors begin in vol. iii.;[xxxvii] and the narratives of these voyages are continued through vol. vi., though those of Drake, Cavendish, Hawkins, Davis, Magellan, and others come later in the series.

The Histoire générale des voyages, undertaken by C. A. Walkenaer in 1826, was stopped in 1831, after twenty-one octavos had been printed, without exhausting the African portion.

The early Dutch voyages are commemorated in Bennet and Wijk’s Nederlandsche Ontdekkingen in America, etc., which was issued at Utrecht in 1827,[253] and in their Nederlandsche Zeereizen, printed at Dordrecht in 1828-1830, in five volumes octavo. It contains Linschoten, Hudson, etc.

Albert Montémont’s Bibliothèque universelle des voyages was published in Paris, 1833-1836, in forty-six volumes.

G. A. Wimmer’s Die Enthüllung des Erdkreises (Vienna, 1834), five volumes octavo, is a general summary, which gives in the last two volumes the voyages to America and to the South Seas.[254]

In 1837 Henri Ternaux-Compans began the publication of his Voyages, relations, et mémoires originaux pour servir à l’histoire de la découverte de l’Amérique, of which an account is given on another page (see p. vi).

The collection of F. C. Marmocchi, Raccolta di viaggi dalla scoperta del Nuevo Continente, was published at Prato in 1840-1843, in five volumes; it includes the Navarrete collection on Columbus, Xeres on Pizarro, and other of the Spanish narratives.[255] The last volume of a collection in twelve volumes published in Paris, Nouvelle bibliothèque des voyages, is also given to America.

The Hakluyt Society in London began its valuable series of publications in 1847, and has admirably kept up its work to the present time, having issued its volumes generally under satisfactory editing. Its publications are not sold outside of its membership, except at second hand.[256]

Under the editing of José Ferrer de Couto and José March y Labores, and with the royal patronage, a Historia de la marina real Española was published in Madrid, in two volumes, 1849 and 1854. It relates the early voyages.[257] Édouard Charton’s Voyageurs anciens et modernes was published in four volumes in Paris, 1855-1857; and it passed subsequently to a new edition.[258]

A summarized account of the Portuguese and Spanish discoveries, from Prince Henry to Pizarro, was published in German by Theodor Vogel, and also in English in 1877.

A Nouvelle histoire des voyages, by Richard Cortambert, is the latest and most popular presentation of the subject, opening with the explorations of Columbus and his successors; and Édouard Cat’s Les grandes découvertes maritimes du treizième au seizième siècle (Paris, 1882) is another popular book.







Assistant Librarian of Harvard University.

AS Columbus, in August, 1498, ran into the mouth of the Orinoco, he little thought that before him lay, silent but irrefutable, the proof of the futility of his long-cherished hopes. His gratification at the completeness of his success, in that God had permitted the accomplishment of all his predictions, to the confusion of those who had opposed and derided him, never left him; even in the fever which overtook him on the last voyage his strong faith cried to him, “Why dost thou falter in thy trust in God? He gave thee India!” In this belief he died. The conviction that Hayti was Cipangu, that Cuba was Cathay, did not long outlive its author; the discovery of the Pacific soon made it clear that a new world and another sea lay between the landfall of Columbus and the goal of his endeavors.

The truth, when revealed and accepted, was a surprise more profound to the learned than even the error it displaced. The possibility of a short passage westward to Cathay was important to merchants and adventurers, startling to courtiers and ecclesiastics, but to men of classical learning it was only a corroboration of the teaching of the ancients. That a barrier to such passage should be detected in the very spot where the outskirts of Asia had been imagined, was unexpected and unwelcome. The treasures of Mexico and Peru could not satisfy the demand for the products of the East; Cortes gave himself, in his later years, to the search for a strait which might yet make good the anticipations of the earlier discoverers. The new interpretation, if economically disappointing, had yet an interest of its own. Whence came the human population of the unveiled continent? How had its existence escaped the wisdom of Greece and Rome? Had it done so? Clearly, since the whole human race had been renewed through Noah, the[2] red men of America must have descended from the patriarch; in some way, at some time, the New World had been discovered and populated from the Old. Had knowledge of this event lapsed from the minds of men before their memories were committed to writing, or did reminiscences exist in ancient literatures, overlooked, or misunderstood by modern ignorance? Scholars were not wanting, nor has their line since wholly failed, who freely devoted their ingenuity to the solution of these questions, but with a success so diverse in its results, that the inquiry is still pertinent, especially since the pursuit, even though on the main point it end in reservation of judgment, enables us to understand from what source and by what channels the inspiration came which held Columbus so steadily to his westward course.

Although the elder civilizations of Assyria and Egypt boasted a cultivation of astronomy long anterior to the heroic age of Greece, their cosmographical ideas appear to have been rude and undeveloped, so that whatever the Greeks borrowed thence was of small importance compared with what they themselves ascertained. While it may be doubted if decisive testimony can be extorted from the earliest Grecian literature, represented chiefly by the Homeric and Hesiodic poems, it is probable that the people among whom that literature grew up had not gone, in their conception of the universe, beyond simple acceptance of the direct evidence of their senses. The earth they looked upon as a plane, stretching away from the Ægean Sea, the focus of their knowledge, and ever less distinctly known, until it ended in an horizon of pure ignorance, girdled by the deep-flowing current of the river Oceanus. Beyond Oceanus even fancy began to fail: there was the realm of dust and darkness, the home of the powerless spirits of the dead; there, too, the hemisphere of heaven joined its brother hemisphere of Tartarus.[259] This conception of the earth was not confined to Homeric times, but remained the common belief throughout the course of Grecian history, underlying and outlasting many of the speculations of the philosophers.

That growing intellectual activity which was signalized by a notable development of trade and colonization in the eighth century, in the seventh awoke to consciousness in a series of attempts to formulate the conditions of existence. The philosophy of nature thus originated, wherein the testimony of nature in her own behalf was little sought or understood, began with the assumption of a flat earth, variously shaped, and as variously supported. To whom belongs the honor of first propounding the theory of the spherical form of the earth cannot be known. It was taught by the Italian Pythagoreans of the sixth century, and was probably one of the doctrines[3] of Pythagoras himself, as it was, a little later, of Parmenides, the founder of the Eleatics.[260]

In neither case can there be a claim for scientific discovery. The earth was a sphere because the sphere was the most perfect form; it was at the centre of the universe because that was the place of honor; it was motionless because motion was less dignified than rest.

Plato, who was familiar with the doctrines of the Pythagoreans, adopted their view of the form of the earth, and did much to popularize it among his countrymen.[261] To the generation that succeeded him, the sphericity of the earth was a fact as capable of logical demonstration as a geometrical theorem. Aristotle, in his treatise “On the Heaven,” after detailing the views of those philosophers who regarded the earth as flat, drum-shaped, or cylindrical, gives a formal summary of the grounds which necessitate the assumption of its sphericity, specifying the tendency of all things to seek the centre, the unvarying circularity of the earth’s shadow at eclipses of the moon, and the proportionate change in the altitude of stars resulting from changes in the observer’s latitude. Aristotle made the doctrine orthodox; his successors, Eratosthenes, Hipparchus, and Ptolemy, constituted it an inalienable possession of the race. Greece transmitted it to Rome, Rome impressed it upon barbaric Europe; taught by Pliny, Hyginus, Manilius, expressed in the works of Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, it passed into the school-books of the Middle Ages, whence, reinforced by Arabian lore, it has come down to us.[262]

That the belief ever became in antiquity or in the Middle Ages widely spread among the people is improbable; it did not indeed escape opposition among the educated; writers even of the Augustan age sometimes appear in doubt.[263]


The sphericity of the earth once comprehended, there follow certain corollaries which the Greeks were not slow to perceive. Plato, indeed, who likened the earth to a ball covered with party-colored strips of leather, gives no estimate of its size, although the description of the world in the Phaedo seems to imply immense magnitude;[264] but Aristotle states that mathematicians of his day estimated the circumference at 400,000 stadia,[265] and Archimedes puts the common reckoning at somewhat less than 300,000 stadia.[266] How these figures were obtained we are not informed. The first measurement of the earth which rests on a known method was that made about the middle of the third century b.c., by Eratosthenes, the librarian at Alexandria, who, by comparing the estimated linear distance between Syene, under the tropic, and Alexandria with their angular distance, as deduced from observations on the shadow of the gnomon at Alexandria, concluded that the circumference of the earth was 250,000 or 252,000 stadia.[267] This result, owing to an uncertainty as to the exact length of the stade used in the computation, cannot be interpreted with confidence, but if we assume that it was in truth about twelve per cent. too large, we shall probably not be far out of the way.[268] Hipparchus, in many matters[5] the opponent of Eratosthenes, adopted his conclusion on this point, and was followed by Strabo,[269] by Pliny, who regarded the attempt as somewhat over-bold, but so cleverly argued that it could not be disregarded,[270] and by many others.

Fortunately, as it resulted, this overestimate was not allowed to stand uncontested. Posidonius of Rhodes (b.c. 135-51), by an independent calculation based upon the difference in altitude of Canopus at Rhodes and at Alexandria, reached a result which is reported by Cleomedes as 240,000, and by Strabo as 180,000 stadia.[271] The final judgment of Posidonius apparently approved the smaller number; it hit, at all events, the fancy of the time, and was adopted by Marinus of Tyre and by Ptolemy,[272] whose authority imposed it upon the Middle Ages. Accepting it as an independent estimate, it follows that Posidonius allowed but 500 stadia to a degree, instead of 700, thus representing the earth as about 28 per cent. smaller than did Eratosthenes.[273]

To the earliest writers the known lands constituted the earth; they were girdled, indeed, by the river Oceanus, but that was a narrow stream whose [6]further bank lay in fable-land.[274] The promulgation of the theory of the sphericity of the earth and the approximate determination of its size drew attention afresh to the problem of the distribution of land and water upon its surface, and materially modified the earlier conception. The increase of geographical knowledge along lines of trade, conquest, and colonization had greatly extended the bounds of the known world since Homer’s day, but it was still evident that by far the larger portion of the earth, taking the smallest estimate of its size, was still undiscovered,—a fair field for speculation and fantasy.[275]

We can trace two schools of thought in respect to the configuration of this unknown region, both represented in the primitive conception of the earth, and both conditioned by a more fundamental postulate. It was a near thought, if the earth was a sphere, to transfer to it the systems of circles which had already been applied to the heavens. The suggestion is attributed to Thales, to Pythagoras, and to Parmenides; and it is certain that the earth was very early conceived as divided by the polar and solstitial circles into five zones, whereof two only, the temperate in either sphere, so the Greeks believed, were capable of supporting life; of the others, the polar were uninhabitable from intense cold, as was the torrid from its parching heat. This theory, which excluded from knowledge the whole southern hemisphere and a large portion of the northern, was approved by Aristotle and the Homeric school of geographers, and by the minor physicists. As knowledge grew, its truth was doubted. Polybius wrote a monograph, maintaining that the middle portion of the torrid zone had a temperate climate, and his view was adopted by Posidonius and Geminus, if not by Eratosthenes. Marinus and Ptolemy, who knew that commerce was carried on along the east coast of Africa far below the equator, cannot have fallen into the ancient error, but the error long persisted; it was always in favor with the compilers, and thus perhaps obtained that currency in Rome which enabled it to exert a restrictive and pernicious check upon maritime endeavor deep into the Middle Ages.[276]


Upon the question of the distribution of land and water, unanimity no longer prevailed. By some it was maintained that there was one ocean, confluent over the whole globe, so that the body of known lands, that so-called continent, was in truth an island, and whatever other inhabitable regions might exist were in like manner surrounded and so separated by vast expanses of untraversed waves. Such was the view, scarcely more than a survival of the ocean-river of the poets deprived of its further bank by the assumption of the sphericity of the earth, held by Aristotle,[277] Crates of Mallus, Strabo, Pliny, and many others. If this be called the oceanic theory, we may speak of its opposite as the continental: according to this view, the existing land so far exceeded the water in extent that it formed in truth the continent, holding the seas quite separate within its hollows. The origin of the theory is obscure, even though we recall that Homer’s ocean was itself contained. It was strikingly presented by Plato in the Phaedo, and is implied in the Atlantis myth; it may be recalled, too, that Herodotus, often depicted as a monster of credulity, had broken the bondage of the ocean-river, because he could not satisfy himself of the existence of the ocean in the east or north; and while reluctantly admitting that Africa was surrounded by water, considered Gaul to extend indefinitely westward.[278] Hipparchus revived the doctrine, teaching that Africa divided the Indian Ocean from the Atlantic in the south, so that these seas lay in separate basins. The existence of an equatorial branch of the ocean, a favorite dogma of the other school, was also denied by Polybius, Posidonius, and Geminus.[279]

The reports of traders and explorers led Marinus to a like conclusion; both he and Ptolemy, misinterpreting their information, believed that the eastern coast of Asia ran south instead of north, and they united it with the eastern trend of Africa, supposing at the same time that the two continents met also in the west.[280] The continental theory, despite its famous disciples, made no headway at Rome, and was consequently hardly known to the Middle Ages before its falsity was proved by the circumnavigation of Africa.[281]


That portion of Europe, Asia, and Africa known to the ancients, whether regarded as an island, or as separated from the rest of the world by climatic conditions merely, or by ignorance, formed a distinct concept and was known by a particular name, ἡ οἰκουμένη. Originally supposed to be circular, it was later thought to be oblong and as having a length more than double its width. Those who believed in its insularity likened its shape to a sling, or to an outspread chlamys or military cloak, and assumed that it lay wholly within the northern hemisphere. In absolute figures, the length of the known world was placed by Eratosthenes at 77,800 stadia, and by Strabo at 70,000. The latter figure remained the common estimate until Marinus of Tyre, in the second century a.d., receiving direct information from the silk-traders of a caravan route to China, substituted the portentous exaggeration of 90,000 stadia on the parallel of Rhodes, or 225°. Ptolemy, who followed Marinus in many things, shrank from the naïveté whereby the Tyrian had interpreted a seven months’ caravan journey to represent seven months’ travelling in a direct line at the rate of twenty miles a day, and cut down his figures to 180°, or 72,000 stadia.[282] It appears, therefore, that Strabo considered the known world as occupying not much over one third of the circuit of the temperate zone, while Marinus, who adopted 180,000 stadia as the measure of the earth, claimed a knowledge of two thirds of that zone, and supposed that land extended indefinitely eastward beyond the limit of knowledge.

What did the ancients picture to themselves of this unknown portion of the globe? The more imaginative found there a home for ancient myth and modern fable; the geographers, severely practical, excluded it from the scope of their survey; philosophers and physicists could easily supply from theory what they did not know as fact. Pythagoras, it is said, had taught that the whole surface of the earth was inhabited. Aristotle demonstrated that the southern hemisphere must have its temperate zone, where winds similar to our own prevailed; his successors elaborated the hint into a systematized nomenclature, whereby the inhabitants of the earth were divided into four classes, according to their location upon the surface of the earth with relation to one another.[283]


This system was furthest developed by the oceanic school. The rival of Eratosthenes, Crates of Mallus (who achieved fame by the construction of a large globe), assumed the existence of a southern continent, separated from the known world by the equatorial ocean; it is possible that he introduced the idea of providing a distinct residence for each class of earth-dwellers, by postulating four island continents, one in each quarter of the globe. Eratosthenes probably thought that there were inhabitable regions in the southern hemisphere, and Strabo added that there might be two, or even more, habitable earths in the northern temperate zone, especially near the parallel of Rhodes.[284] Crates introduced his views at Rome, and the oceanic theory remained a favorite with the Roman physicists. It was avowed by Pliny, who championed the existence of antipodes against the vulgar disbelief. In the fine episode in the last book of Cicero’s Republic, the younger Scipio relates a dream, wherein the elder hero of his name, Scipio Africanus, conveying him to the lofty heights of the Milky Way, emphasized the futility of fame by showing him upon the earth the regions to which his name could never penetrate: “Thou seest in what few places the earth is inhabited, and those how scant; great deserts lie between them, and they who dwell upon the earth are not only so scattered that naught can spread from one community to another, but so that some live off in an oblique direction from you, some off toward the side, and some even dwell directly opposite to you.”[285] Mela confines himself to a mention of the Antichthones, who live in the temperate zone in the south, and are cut off from us by the intervening torrid zone.[286]



From Macrobii Ambrosii Aurelii Theodosii in Somnium Scipionis, Lib. II. (Lugduni, 1560).

Indeed, the southern continent, the other world, as it was called,[287] made a more distinct impression than the possible other continents in the northern hemisphere. Hipparchus thought that Trapobene might be a part of this southern world, and the idea that the Nile had its source there was widespread: some supposing that it flowed beneath the equatorial ocean; others believing, with Ptolemy, that Africa was connected with the southern continent. The latter doctrine was shattered by the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope; but the continent was revived when Tierra del Fuego, Australia, and New Zealand were discovered, and attained gigantic size on the[11] maps of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries only within the last two centuries has it shrunk to the present limits of the antarctic ice.


From Avr. Theodosii Macrobii Opera (Lipsiæ, 1774).

The oceanic theory, and the doctrine of the Four Worlds, as it has been termed,[288] terra quadrifiga, was set forth in the greatest detail in a commentary on the Dream of Scipio, written by Macrobius, probably in the fifth century a.d. In the concussion and repulsion of the ocean streams he found a sufficient cause for the phenomena of the tides.[289]

Such were the theories of the men of science, purely speculative, originating in logic, not discovery, and they give no hint of actual knowledge regarding those distant[12] regions with which they deal. From them we turn to examine the literature of the imagination, for geography, by right the handmaid of history, is easily perverted to the service of myth.


After Santarem’s Atlas, as a “mappemonde tirée d’un manuscrit de Macrobe du Xème siècle.”

The expanding horizon of the Greeks was always hedged with fable: in the north was the realm of the happy Hyperboreans, beyond the blasts of Boreas; in the east, the wonderland of India; in the south, Panchæa and the blameless Ethiopians; nor did the west lack lingering places for romance. Here was the floating isle of Æolus, brazen-walled; here the mysterious Ogygia, navel of the sea;[290] and on the earth’s extremest verge were the Elysian Fields, the home of heroes exempt from[13] death, “where life is easiest to man. No snow is there, nor yet great storm nor any rain, but always ocean sendeth forth the breeze of the shrill west to blow cool on men.”[291] Across the ocean river, where was the setting of the sun, all was changed. There was the home of the Cimmerians, who dwelt in darkness; there the grove of Persephone and the dreary house of the dead.[292]

In the Hesiodic poems the Elysian Fields are transformed into islands, the home of the fourth race, the heroes, after death:—

“Them on earth’s utmost verge the god assign’d
A life, a seat, distinct from human kind:
Beside the deepening whirlpools of the main,
In those blest isles where Saturn holds his reign,
Apart from heaven’s immortals calm they share
A rest unsullied by the clouds of care:
And yearly thrice with sweet luxuriance crown’d
Springs the ripe harvest from the teeming ground.”[293]

“Those who have had the courage to remain stedfast thrice in each life, and to keep their souls altogether from wrong,” sang Pindar, “pursue the road of Zeus to the castle of Cronos, where o’er the isles of the blest ocean breezes blow, and flowers gleam with gold, some from the land on glistering trees, while others the water feeds; and with bracelets of these they entwine their hands and make crowns for their heads.”[294]

The Islands of the Blest, μακάρων νῆσοι, do not vanish henceforward from the world’s literature, but continue to haunt the Atlantic through the Roman period and deep into the Middle Ages. In the west, too, were localized other and wilder myths; here were the scenes of the Perseus fable, the island of the weird and communistic sisters, the Graeae, and the Gorgonides, the homes of Medusa and her sister Gorgons, the birthplace of the dread Chimaera.[295] The importance of the far west in the myths connected[14] with Hercules is well known. In the traditionary twelve labors the Greek hero is confused with his prototype the Tyrian Melkarth, and those labors which deal with the west were doubtless borrowed from the cult which the Greeks had found established at Gades when trade first led them thither. In the tenth labor it is the western isle Erytheia, which Hercules visits in the golden cup wherein Helios was wont to make his nocturnal ocean voyage, and from which he returns with the oxen of the giant Geryon. Even more famous was the search for the apples of the Hesperides, which constituted the eleventh labor. This golden fruit, the wedding gift produced by Gaa for Hera, the prudent goddess, doubtful of the security of Olympus, gave in charge to the Hesperian maids, whose island garden lay at earth’s furthest bounds, near where the mysterious Atlas, their father or their uncle, wise in the secrets of the sea, watched over the pillars which propped the sky, or himself bore the burden of the heavenly vault. The poets delighted to depict these isles with their shrill-singing nymphs, in the same glowing words which they applied to the Isles of the Blessed. “Oh that I, like a bird, might fly from care over the Adriatic waves!” cries the chorus in the Crowned Hippolytus,

“Or to the famed Hesperian plains,
Whose rich trees bloom with gold,

To join the grief-attuned strains
My winged progress hold:

Beyond whose shores no passage gave
The ruler of the purple wave;

“But Atlas stands, his stately height
The awfull boundary of the skies:
There fountains of Ambrosia rise,

Wat’ring the seat of Jove: her stores

Luxuriant there the rich soil pours
All, which the sense of gods delights.”[296]

When these names first became attached to some of the Atlantic islands is uncertain. Diodorus Siculus does not apply either term to the island discovered by the Carthaginians, and described by him in phrases applicable to both. The two islands described by sailors to Sertorius about 80 b.c. were depicted in colors which reminded Plutarch of the Isles of the Blessed, and it is certain that toward the close of the republic the name Insulae Fortunatae was given to certain of the Atlantic islands, including the Canaries. In the time of Juba, king of Numidia, we seem to distinguish at least three groups, the Insulae Fortunatae, the Purpurariae, and the Hesperides, but beyond the fact that the first name still designated some of the Canaries identification is uncertain; some have thought that different groups among the Canaries were known by separate names, while others[15] hold that one or both of the Madeira and Cape de Verde groups were known.[297] The Canaries were soon lost out of knowledge again, but the Happy or Fortunate Islands continued to be an enticing mirage throughout the Middle Ages, and play a part in many legends, as in that of St. Brandan, and in many poems.[298]

Beside these ancient, widespread, popular myths, embodying the universal longing for a happier life, we find a group of stories of more recent date, of known authorship and well-marked literary origin, which treat of western islands and a western continent. The group comprises, it is hardly necessary to say, the tale of Atlantis, related by Plato; the fable of the land of the Meropes, by Theopompus; and the description of the Saturnian continent attributed to Plutarch.

The story of Atlantis, by its own interest and the skill of its author, has made by far the deepest impression. Plato, having given in the Republic a picture of the ideal political organization, the state, sketched in the Timaeus the history of creation, and the origin and development of mankind; in the Critias he apparently intended to exhibit the action of two types of political bodies involved in a life-and-death contest. The latter dialogue was unfinished, but its purport had been sketched in the opening of the Timaeus. Critias there relates “a strange tale, but certainly true, as Solon declared,” which had come down in his family from his ancestor Dropidas, a near relative of Solon. When Solon was in Egypt he fell into talk with an aged priest of Saïs, who said to him: “Solon, Solon, you Greeks are all children,—there is not an old man in Greece. You have no old traditions, and know of but one deluge, whereas there have been many destructions of mankind, both by flood and fire; Egypt alone has escaped them, and in Egypt alone is ancient history recorded; you are ignorant of your own past.” For long before Deucalion, nine thousand years ago, there was an Athens founded, like Saïs, by Athena; a city rich in power and wisdom, famed for mighty deeds, the greatest of which was this. At that time there lay opposite the columns of Hercules, in the Atlantic, which was then navigable, an island larger than Libya and Asia together, from which sailors could pass to other islands, and so to the continent. The sea in front of the straits is indeed but a small harbor; that which lay beyond the island, however, is worthy of the name, and the land which surrounds that greater sea may be truly called the continent. In this island of Atlantis had grown up a mighty power, whose kings were descended from Poseidon, and had[16] extended their sway over many islands and over a portion of the great continent; even Libya up to the gates of Egypt, and Europe as far as Tyrrhenia, submitted to their sway. Ever harder they pressed upon the other nations of the known world, seeking the subjugation of the whole. “Then, O Solon, did the strength of your republic become clear to all men, by reason of her courage and force. Foremost in the arts of war, she met the invader at the head of Greece; abandoned by her allies, she triumphed alone over the western foe, delivering from the yoke all the nations within the columns. But afterwards came a day and night of great floods and earthquakes; the earth engulfed all the Athenians who were capable of bearing arms, and Atlantis disappeared, swallowed by the waves: hence it is that this sea is no longer navigable, from the vast mud-shoals formed by the vanished island.” This tale so impressed Solon that he meditated an epic on the subject, but on his return, stress of public business prevented his design. In the Critias the empire and chief city of Atlantis is described with wealth of detail, and the descent of the royal family from Atlas, son of Poseidon, and a nymph of the island, is set forth. In the midst of a council upon Olympus, where Zeus, in true epic style, was revealing to the gods his designs concerning the approaching war, the dialogue breaks off.



Section of a map given in Briefe über Amerika aus dem Italienischen des Hn. Grafen Carlo Carli übersetzt, Dritter Theil (Gera, 1785), where it is called an “Auszug aus denen Karten welche der Pariser Akademie der Wissenschaften (1737, 1752) von dem Herrn von Buache übergeben worden sind.”


The annexed cut is an extract from Sanson’s map of America, showing views respecting the new world as constituting the Island of Atlantis. It is called: Atlantis insula à Nicolao Sanson, antiquitati restituta; nunc demum majori forma delineata, et in decem regna juxta decem Neptuni filios distributa. Præterea insulæ, nostræq. continentis regiones quibus imperavere Atlantici reges; aut quas armis tentavere, ex conatibus geographicis Gulielmi Sanson, Nicolai filii (Amstelodami apud Petrum Mortier). Uricoechea in the Mapoteca Colombiana puts this map under 1600, and speaks of a second edition in 1688, which must be an error. Nicholas Sanson was born in 1600, his son William died in 1703. Beside the undated Amsterdam print quoted above, Harvard College Library possesses a copy in which the words Novus orbis potius Altera continent sive are prefixed to the title, while the date MDCLXVIIII is inserted after filii. This copy was published by Le S. Robert at Paris in 1741.



From a map in Bory de St. Vincent’s Essais sur les isles Fortunées, Paris [1803]. A map in Anastasius Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus (Amsterdam, 1678), i. 82, shows Atlantis as a large island midway between the pillars of Hercules and America.



Sketched from the colored map of the United States Hydrographic office, as given in Alexander Agassiz’s Three Cruises of the Blake (Cambridge, 1888), vol. i. The outline of the continents is shown by an unbroken line. The 500 fathom shore line is a broken one (—— —— —— ——). The 2,000 fathom shore line is made by a dash and dot (——.——.——.——). The large areas in mid-ocean enclosed by this line, have this or lesser depths. Of the small areas marked by this line, the depth of 2,000 fathoms or less is within these areas in all cases except as respects the small areas on the latitude of Newfoundland, where the larger areas of 2,000 fathoms’ depth border on the small areas of greater depth. Depths varying from 1,500 to 1,000 fathoms are shown by horizontal lines; from 1,000 to 500 by perpendicular lines; and the crossed lines show the shallowest spots in mid-ocean of 500 fathoms or less. The areas of greatest depth (over 3,500 fathoms) are marked with crosses.


Such is the tale of Atlantis. Read in Plato, the nature and meaning of the narrative seem clear, but the commentators, ancient and modern, have made wild work. The voyage of Odysseus has grown marvellously in extent since he abandoned the sea; Io has found the pens of the learned more potent goads than Hera’s gadfly; but the travels of Atlantis have been even more extraordinary. No region has been so remote, no land so opposed by location, extent, or history to the words of Plato, but that some acute investigator has found in it the origin of the lost island. It has been identified with Africa, with Spitzbergen, with Palestine. The learned Latreille convinced himself that Persia best fulfilled the conditions of the problem; the more than learned Rudbeck ardently supported the claims of Sweden through three folios. In such a search America could not be overlooked. Gomara, Guillaume de Postel, Wytfliet, are among those who have believed that this continent was Atlantis; Sanson in 1669, and Vaugondy in 1762, ventured to issue a map, upon which the division of that island among the sons of Neptune was applied to America, and the outskirts of the lost continent were extended even to New Zealand. Such work, of course, needs no serious consideration. Plato is our authority, and Plato declares that Atlantis lay not far west from Spain, and that it disappeared some 8,000 years before his day. An inquiry into the truth or meaning of the record as it stands is quite justifiable, and has been several times undertaken, with divergent results. Some, notably Paul Gaffarel[299] and Ignatius Donnelly,[300] are convinced that Plato merely adapted to his purposes a story which Solon had actually brought from Egypt, and which was in all essentials true. Corroboration of the existence of such an island in the Atlantic is found, according to these writers, in the physical conformation of the Atlantic basin, and in marked resemblances between the flora, fauna, civilization, and language of the old and new worlds, which demand for their explanation the prehistoric existence of just such a bridge as Atlantis would have supplied. The Atlantic islands are the loftiest peaks and plateaus of the submerged island. In the widely spread deluge myths Mr. Donnelly finds strong confirmation of the final cataclysm; he places in Atlantis that primitive culture which M. Bailly sought in the highlands of Asia, and President Warren refers to the north pole. Space fails for a proper examination of the matter, but these ingenious arguments remain somewhat top-heavy when all is said. The argument from ethnological resemblances is of all arguments the weakest in the hands of advocates. It is of value only when wielded by men of judicial temperament, who can weigh difference against likeness, and allow for the narrow range of nature’s moulds. The existence of the ocean plateaus revealed by the soundings of the “Dolphin” and the “Challenger” proves nothing as to their having been once raised above the waves; the most of the Atlantic islands are sharply cut off from them. Even granting the prehistoric migration of plants and animals between America and Europe, as we grant it between America and Asia, it does not follow that it took place across the mid-ocean, and it would still be a long step from the botanic “bridge” and elevated “ridge” to the island empire of Plato. In short, the conservative view advocated by Longinus, that the story was designed by Plato as a literary ornament and a philosophic illustration, is no less probable to-day than when it was suggested in the schools of Alexandria. Atlantis is a literary myth, belonging with Utopia, the New Atlantis, and the Orbis alter et idem of Bishop Hall.

Of the same type is a narrative which has come down indirectly, among the flotsam and jetsam of classic literature: it is a fragment from a lost work by Theopompus of Chios, a historian of the fourth century b.c., found in the Varia Historia of Aelian, a compiler of the third century a.d.[301] The story is told by the satyr Silenus to Midas, king of Phrygia, and is, as few commentators have refrained from remarking, worthy the ears of its auditor.[302] “Selenus tolde Midas of certaine Islands, named Europa, Asia, and Libia, which the Ocean Sea circumscribeth and compasseth round about. And that without this worlde there is a continent or percell of dry lande, which in greatnesse (as hee reported) was infinite and unmeasurable, that it nourished and maintained, by the benifite of the greene medowes and pasture[22] plots, sundrye bigge and mighty beastes; that the men which inhabite the same climats, exceede the stature of us twise, and yet the length of there life is not equale to ours.” Many other wonders he related of the two cities, Machimus, the warlike, and Euseues, the city of peace, and how the inhabitants of the former once made an attack upon Europe, and came first upon the Hyperboreans; but learning that they were esteemed the most holy of the dwellers in that island, they “had them in contempte, detesting and abhorring them as naughty people, of preposterous properties, and damnable behauiour, and for that cause interrupted their progresse, supposing it an enterprise of little worthinesse or rather none at al, to trauaile into such a countrey.” The concluding passage relating to the strange country inhabited by the Meropes, from whose name later writers have called the continent Meropian, bears only indirectly upon the subject, as characterizing the whole narrative.[303]

Without admitting the harsh judgment of Aelian, who brands Theopompus as a “coyner of lyes and a forger of fond fables,” it is clear that we are dealing here with literature, not with history, and that the identification of the land of the Meropes, or, as Strabo calls it, Meropis, with Atlantis or with America is arbitrary and valueless.[304]


The same remark applies to the account of the great Saturnian continent that closes the curious and interesting dialogue “On the Face appearing in the Orb of the Moon,” attributed to Plutarch, and printed with his Morals:

“‘An isle, Ogygia, lies in Ocean’s arms,’” says the narrator, “about five days’ sail west from Britain; and before it are three others, of equal distance from one another, and also from that, bearing northwest, where the sun sets in summer. In one of these the barbarians feign that Saturn is detained in prison by Zeus.” The adjacent sea is termed the Saturnian, and the continent by which the great sea is circularly environed is distant from Ogygia about five thousand stadia, but from the other islands not so far. A bay of this continent, in the latitude of the Caspian Sea, is inhabited by Greeks. These, who had been visited by Heracles, and revived by his followers, esteemed themselves inhabitants of the firm land, calling all others islanders, as dwelling in land encompassed by the sea. Every thirty years these people send forth certain of their number, who minister to the imprisoned Saturn for thirty years. One of the men thus sent forth, at the end of his service, paid a visit to the great island, as they called Europe. From him the narrator learned many things about the state of men after death, which he unfolds at length, the conclusion being that the souls of men ultimately arrive at the moon, wherein lie the Elysian Fields of Homer. “And you, O Lamprias,” he adds, “may take my relation in such part as you please.” After which hint there is, I think, but little doubt as to the way in which it should be taken by us.[305]

That Plato, Theopompus, and Plutarch, covering a range of nearly five centuries, should each have made use of the conception of a continent beyond the Atlantic, is noteworthy; but it is more naturally accounted for by supposing that all three had in mind the continental hypothesis of land distribution, than by assuming for them an acquaintance with the great western island, America. From this point of view, the result of our search into the geographical knowledge and mythical tales of the ancients is purely negative. We find, indeed, well-developed theories of physical geography, one of which accords remarkably well with the truth; but we also find that these theories rest solely on logical deductions from the mathematical doctrine of the sphere, and on an aesthetic satisfaction with symmetry and analogy. This conclusion could be invalidated were it shown that exploration had already revealed the secrets of the west, and we must now consider this branch of the subject.

The history of maritime discovery begins among the Phœnicians. The civilization of Egypt, as self-centred as that of China, accepted only the commerce that was brought to its gates; but the men of Sidon and Tyre, with their keen devotion to material interests, their almost modern ingenuity, had early appropriated the carrying trade of the east and the west. As they looked adventurously seaward from their narrow domain,[24] the dim outline of Cyprus beckoned them down a long lane of island stations to the rich shores of Spain. Even their religion betrayed their bent: El and Cronos, their oldest deities, were wanderers, and vanished in the west; on their traces Melkarth led a motley swarm of colonists to the Atlantic. These legends, filtering through Cyprus, Crete, or Rhodes, or borne by rash adventurers from distant Gades, appeared anew in Grecian mythology, the deeds of Melkarth mingling with the labors of Hercules. We do not know when the Phœnicians first reached the Atlantic, nor what were the limits of their ocean voyages. Gades, the present Cadiz, just outside the Straits of Gibraltar, was founded a few years before 1100 b.c., but not, it is probable, without previous knowledge of the commercial importance of the location. There were numerous other settlements along the adjacent coast, and the gold, silver, and tin of these distant regions grew familiar in the markets of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India. The trade with Tartessus, the El Dorado of antiquity, gave the Phœnician merchant vessels a name among the Jews, as well in the tenth century, when Solomon shared the adventures of Hiram, as in the sixth, when Ezekiel depicted the glories of Tyrian commerce. The Phœnician seamanship was wide-famed; their vessels were unmatched in speed,[306] and their furniture and discipline excited the outspoken admiration of Xenophon. Beside the large Tarshish ships, they possessed light merchant vessels and ships of war, provided with both sails and oars, and these, somewhat akin to steamships in their independence of wind, were well adapted for exploration. Thus urged and thus provided, it is improbable that the Phœnicians shunned the great ocean. The evidence is still strong in favor of their direct trade with Britain for tin, despite what has been urged as to tin mines in Spain and the prehistoric existence of the trade by land across Gaul.[307]

Whether the Tyrians discovered any of the Atlantic islands is unknown; the adventures and discoveries attributed to Hercules, who in this aspect is but Melkarth in Grecian raiment, points toward an early knowledge of western islands, but these myths alone are not conclusive proof. Diodorus Siculus attributes to the Phœnicians the discovery, by accident, of a large island, with navigable rivers and a delightful climate, many days’ sail westward from Africa. In the compilation De Mirabilibus Auscultationibus, printed with the works of Aristotle, the discovery is attributed to Carthaginians.[25] Both versions descend from one original, now lost, and it is impossible to give a date to the event, or to identify the locality.[308] Those who find America in the island of Diodorus make improbabilities supply the lack of evidence. Stories seldom lose in the telling, and while it is not impossible that a Phœnician ship might have reached America, and even made her way back, it is not likely that the voyage would have been tamely described as of many days’ duration.

When Carthage succeeded Tyre as mistress of the Mediterranean commerce, interest in the West revived. In the middle of the fifth century b.c., two expeditions of importance were dispatched into these waters. A large fleet under Hanno sailed to colonize, or re-colonize, the western coast of Africa, and succeeded in reaching the latitude of Sierra Leone. Himilko, voyaging in the opposite direction, spent several months in exploring the ocean and tracing the western shores of Europe. He appears to have run into the Sargasso Sea, but beyond this little is known of his adventures.[309]

Ultimately the Carthaginians discovered and colonized the Canary Islands, and perhaps the Madeira and Cape Verde groups; the evidence of ethnology, the presence of Semitic inscriptions, and the occurrence in the descriptions of Pliny, Mela, and Ptolemy of some of the modern names of the separate islands, establishes this beyond a doubt for the Canaries.[310] There is no evidence that the Phœnicians or Carthaginians penetrated much beyond the coast islands, or that they reached any part of America, or even the Azores.

The achievements of the Greeks and Romans were still more limited. A certain Colaeus visited Gades towards the middle of the seventh century B.C., and was, according to Herodotus, the first Greek who passed outside of the columns of Hercules. His example could not have been widely[26] followed, for we find Pindar and his successors referring to the Pillars as the limit of navigation. In 600 b.c., Massilia was founded, and soon became a rival of Carthage in the western Mediterranean. In the fourth century we have evidence of an attempt to search out the secrets of the ocean after the manner of Hanno and Himilko. In that century, Pytheas made his famous voyage to the lands of tin and amber, discovering the still mysterious Thule; while at the same time his countryman Euthymenes sailed southward to the Senegal. With these exceptions we hear of no Grecian or Roman explorations in the Atlantic, and meet with no indication that they were aware of any other lands beyond the sea than the Fortunate Isles or the Hesperides of the early poets.[311]

About 80 b.c., Sertorius, being for a time driven from Spain by the forces of Sulla, fell in, when on an expedition to Baetica, with certain sailors who had just returned from the “Atlantic islands,” which they[27] described as two in number, distant 10,000 stadia from Africa, and enjoying a wonderful climate. The account in Plutarch is quite consistent with a previous knowledge of the islands, even on the part of Sertorius. Be this as it may, the glowing praises of the eye-witnesses so impressed him that only the unwillingness of his followers prevented his taking refuge there. Within the next few years, the Canaries, at least, became well known as the Fortunatae Insulae; but when Horace, in the dark days of civil war, urged his countrymen to seek a new home across the waves, it was apparently the islands of Sertorius that he had in mind, regarding them as unknown to other peoples.[312]

As we trace the increasing volume and extent of commerce from the days of Tyre and Carthage and Alexandria to its fullest development under the empire, and remember that as the drafts of luxury-loving Rome upon the products of the east, even of China and farther India, increased, the true knowledge of the form of the earth, and the underestimate of the breadth of the western ocean, became more widely known, the question inevitably suggests itself, Why did not the enterprise which had long since utilized the monsoons of the Indian Ocean for direct passage to and from India essay the passage of the Atlantic? The inquiry gains force as we recall that the possibility of such a route to India had been long ago asserted. Aristotle suggested, if he did not express it; Eratosthenes stated plainly that were it not for the extent of the Atlantic it would be possible to sail from Spain to India along the same parallel;[313] and Strabo could object nothing but the chance of there being another island-continent or two in the way,—an objection unknown to Columbus. Seneca, the philosopher, iterating insistence upon the smallness of the earth and the pettiness of its affairs compared with the higher interests of the soul, exclaims: “The earth, which you so anxiously divide by fire and sword into kingdoms, is a point, a mere point, in the universe.... How far is it from the utmost shores of Spain to those of India? But very few days’ sail with a favoring wind.”[314]


Holding these views of the possibility of the voyage, it is improbable that the size of their ships and the lack of the compass could have long prevented the ancients from putting them in practice had their interest so demanded.[315] Their interest in the matter was, however, purely speculative, since, under the unity and power of the Roman empire, which succeeded to and absorbed the commercial supremacy of the Phœnicians, international competition in trade did not exist, nor were the routes of trade subject to effective hostile interruption. The two causes, therefore, which worked powerfully to induce the voyages of Da Gama and Columbus, after the rise of individual states had given scope to national jealousy and pride, and after the fall of Constantinople had placed the last natural gateway of the eastern trade in the hands of Arab infidels, were non-existent under the older civilization. It is certain, too, that the ancients had a vivid horror of the western ocean. In the Odyssey, the western Mediterranean even is full of peril. With knowledge of the ocean, the Greeks received tales of “Gorgons and Chimeras dire,” and the very poets who sing the beauties of the Elysian or Hesperian isles dwell on the danger of the surrounding sea. Beyond Gades, declared Pindar, no man, however brave, could pass; only a god might voyage those waters. The same idea recurs in the reports of travellers and the writings of men of science, but here it is the storms, or more often the lack of wind, the viscid water or vast shoals, that check and appall the mariner. Aristotle thought that beyond the columns the sea was shallow and becalmed. Plato utilized the common idea of the mudbanks and shoal water of the Atlantic in accounting for the disappearance of Atlantis. Scylax reported the ocean not navigable beyond Cerne in the south, and Pytheas heard that beyond Thule sea and air became confounded. Even Tacitus believed that there was a peculiar resistance in the waters of the northern ocean.[316]

Whether the Greeks owed this dread to the Phœnicians, and whether the latter shared the feeling, or simulated and encouraged it for the purpose of concealing their profitable adventures beyond the Straits, is doubtful. In two cases, at least, it is possible to trace statements of this nature to Punic[29] sources, and antiquity agreed in giving the Phœnicians credit for discouraging rivalry by every art.[317]

To an age averse to investigation for its own sake, ignorant of scientific curiosity, and unimpelled by economic pressure, tales like these might seem decisive against an attempt to sail westward to India. Rome could thoroughly appreciate the imaginative mingling of science and legend which vivified the famous prophecy of the poet Seneca:

Venient annis saecula seris
Quibus Oceanus vincula rerum
Laxet, et ingens patebit tellus
Tethysque novos deteget orbes
Nec sit terris ultima Thule.[318]

But even were it overlooked that the prophecy suited better the revelation of an unknown continent, such as the theory of Crates and Cicero placed between Europe and Asia, than the discovery of the eastern coast of India, mariners and merchants might be pardoned if they set the deterrent opinions collected by the elder Seneca above the livelier fancies of his son.[319]

The scanty records of navigation and discovery in the western waters confirm the conclusions drawn from the visions of the poets and the theories of the philosophers. No evidence from the classic writers justifies the assumption that the ancients communicated with America. If they guessed at the possibility of such a continent, it was only as we to-day imagine an antarctic continent or an open polar sea. Evidence from ethnological comparisons[30] is of course admissible, but those who are best fitted to handle such evidence best know its dangers; hitherto its use has brought little but discredit to the cause in which it was invoked.

The geographical doctrines which antiquity bequeathed to the Middle Ages were briefly these: that the earth was a sphere with a circumference of 252,000 or 180,000 stadia; that only the temperate zones were inhabitable, and the northern alone known to be inhabited; that of the southern, owing to the impassable heats of the torrid zone, it could not be discovered whether it were inhabited, or whether, indeed, land existed there; and that of the northern, it was unknown whether the intervention of another continent, or only the shoals and unknown horrors of the ocean, prevented a westward passage from Europe to Asia. The legatee preserved, but did not improve his inheritance. It has been supposed that the early Middle Ages, under the influence of barbarism and Christianity, ignored the sphericity of the earth, deliberately returning to the assumption of a plane surface, either wheel-shaped or rectangular. That knowledge dwindled after the fall of the empire, that the early church included the learning as well as the religion of the pagans in its ban, is undeniable; but on this point truth prevailed. It was preserved by many school-books, in many popular[31] compilations from classic authors, and was accepted by many ecclesiastics. St. Augustine did not deny the sphericity of the earth. It was assumed by Isidor of Seville, and taught by Bede.[320] The schoolmen buttressed the doctrine by the authority of Aristotle and the living science which the Arabs built upon the Almagest. Gerbert, Albert the Great, Roger Bacon, Dante, were as familiar with the idea of the earth-globe as were Hipparchus and Ptolemy. The knowledge of it came to Columbus not as an inspiration or an invention, but by long, unbroken descent from its unknown Grecian, or pre-Grecian, discoverer.


Sketched in the Bollettino della Società geografica italiana (Roma, 1882), p. 540, from the original in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The representation of this sketch of the earth by Cosmas Indicopleustes more commonly met with is from the engraving in the edition of Cosmas in Montfaucon’s Collectio nova patrum, Paris, 1706. The article by Marinelli which contains the sketch given here has also appeared separately in a German translation (Die Erdkunde bei den Kirchenvätern, Leipzig, 1884). The continental land beyond the ocean should be noticed.

As to the distribution of land and water, the oceanic theory of Crates, as expounded by Macrobius, prevailed in the west, although the existence of antipodes fell a victim to the union, in the ecclesiastic mind, of the heathen theory of an impassable torrid zone with the Christian teaching of the descent of all men from Adam.[321] The discoveries made by the ancients in the ocean, of the Canaries and other islands known to them, were speedily forgotten, while their geographic myths were superseded by a ranker growth. The Saturnian continent, Meropis, Atlantis, the Fortunate Isles, the Hesperides, were relegated to the dusty realm of classical learning; but the Atlantic was not barren of their like. Mediæval maps swarmed with fabulous islands, and wild stories of adventurous voyages divided the attention with tales of love and war. Antillia was the largest, and perhaps the most famous, of these islands; it was situated in longitude 330° east, and near the latitude of Lisbon, so that Toscanelli regarded it as much facilitating the plan of Columbus. Well known, too, was Braçir, or Brazil, having its proper position west and north of Ireland, but often met with elsewhere; both this island and Antillia afterward gave names to portions of the new continent.[322]

Antillia, otherwise called the Island of Seven Cities, was discovered and settled by an archbishop and six bishops of Spain, who fled into the ocean after the victory of the Moors, in 714, over Roderick; it is even reported to have been rediscovered in 1447.[323] Mayda, Danmar, Man Satanaxio, Isla Verde, and others of these islands, of which but little is known beside the names, appear for the first time upon the maps of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but their origin is quite unknown. It might be thought that they were derived from confused traditions of their classical predecessors,[32] with which they have been identified, but modern folk-lore has shown that such fancies spring up spontaneously in every community. To dream of a distant spot where joy is untroubled and rest unbroken by grief or toil is a natural and inalienable bent of the human mind. Those happy islands which abound in the romances of the heathen Celts, Mag Mell, Field of Delight, Flath Inis, Isle of the Heroes, the Avallon of the Arthur cycle, were but a more exuberant forth-putting of the same soil that produced the Elysian Fields of Homer or the terrestrial paradise of the Hebrews. The later growth is not born of the seed of the earlier, though somewhat affected by alien grafts, as in the case of the famous island of St. Brandan, where there is a curious commingling of Celtic, Greek, and Christian traditions. It is dangerous, indeed, to speak of earlier or later in reference to such myths; one group was written before the others, but it is quite possible that the earthly paradise of the Celt is as old as those of the Mediterranean peoples. The idea of a phantom or vanishing island, too, is very old,—as old, doubtless, as the fact of fog-banks and mirage,—and it is well exemplified in those mysterious visions which enticed the sailors of Bristol to many a fruitless quest before the discovery of America, and for centuries tantalized the inhabitants of the Canaries with hope of discovery. The Atlantic islands were not all isles of the blessed; there were many Isles of Demons, such as Ramusio places north of Newfoundland, a name of evil report which afterward attached itself with more reason to Sable Island and even to the Bermudas:

“Kept, as suppos’d by Hel’s infernal dogs;
Our fleet found there most honest courteous hogs.”[324]

Not until the revival of classical learning did the continental system of Ptolemy reach the west; the way, however, had been prepared for it. The measurement of a degree, executed under the Calif Mamun, seemed to the Europeans to confirm the smallest estimate of the size of the earth, which Ptolemy also had adopted,[325] while the travels of Marco Polo, revealing the great island of Japan, exaggerated the popular idea of the extent of the known world, until the 225° of Marinus seemed more probable than the 180° of Ptolemy. If, however, time brought this shrinkage in the breadth of the Atlantic, the temptation to navigators was opposed by the belief in the dangers of the ocean, which shared the persistent life of the dogma of the impassable torrid zone, and was strongly reinforced by Arab lore. Their geographers never tire of dilating on the calms and storms, mudbanks and fogs, and unknown dangers of the “Sea of Darkness.” Nevertheless, as the turmoil of mediæval life made gentler spirits sigh for peace in distant homes, while the wild energy of others found the very dangers[33] of the sea delightful, there was opened a double source of adventures, both real and imaginary. Those pillars cut with inscriptions forbidding further advance westward, which we owe to Moorish fancy, confounding Hercules and Atlas and Alexander, were transformed into a knightly hero pointing oceanwards, or became guide-posts to the earthly paradise.

If there be a legendary flavor in the flight of the seven bishops, we must set down the wanderings of the Magrurin[326] among the African islands, the futile but bold attempts of the Visconti to circumnavigate Africa, as real, though without the least footing in a list of claimants for the discovery of America. The voyages of St. Brandan and St. Malo, again, are distinctly fabulous, and but other forms of the ancient myth of the soul-voyages; and the same may be said of the strange tale of Maelduin.[327] But what of those other Irish voyages to Irland-it-mikla and Huitramannaland, of the voyage of Madoc, of the explorations of the Zeni? While these tales merit close investigation, it is certain that whatever liftings of the veil there may have been—that there were any is extremely doubtful—were unheralded at the time and soon forgotten.[328]

It was reserved for the demands of commerce to reveal the secrets of the west. But when the veil was finally removed it was easy for men to see that it had never been quite opaque. The learned turned naturally to their new-found classics, and were not slow to find the passages which seemed prophetic of America. Seneca, Virgil, Horace, Aristotle, and Theopompus, were soon pressed into the service, and the story of Atlantis obtained at once a new importance. I have tried to show in this chapter that these patrons of a revived learning put upon these statements an interpretation which they will not bear.

The summing up of the whole matter cannot be better given than in the words applied by a careful Grecian historian to another question in ancient geography: “In some future time perhaps our pains may lead us to a knowledge of those countries. But all that has hitherto been written or reported of them must be considered as mere fable and invention, and not the fruit of any real search, or genuine information.”[329]


THE views of the ancient Mediterranean peoples upon geography are preserved almost solely in the ancient classics. The poems attributed to Homer and Hesiod, the so-called Orphic hymns, the odes of Pindar, even the dramatic works of Æschylus and his successors, are sources for the earlier time. The writings of the earlier philosophers[34] are lost, and their ideas are to be found in later writers, and in compilations like the Biographies of Diogenes Laertius (3d cent. a.d.), the De placitis philosophorum attributed to Plutarch, and the like. Among the works of Plato the Phaedo and Timaeus and the last book of the Republic bear on the form and arrangement of the earth; the Timaeus and Critias contain the fable of Atlantis. The first scientific treatises preserved are the De Caelo and Meteorologica of Aristotle.[330] It is needless to speak in detail of the geographical writers, accounts of whom will be found in any history of Greek and Roman literature. The minor pieces, such as the Periplus of Hanno, of Scylax of Caryanda, of Dionysius Periegetes, the Geography of Agatharcides, and others, have been several times collected;[331] and so have the minor historians, which may be consulted for Theopompus, Hecataeus, and the mythologists.[332] The geographical works of Pytheas (b.c. 350?), of Eratosthenes (b.c. 276-126), of Polybius (b.c. 204-122), of Hipparchus (flor. circ. b.c. 125), of Posidonius (1st cent. b.c.), are preserved only in quotations made by later writers; they have, however, been collected and edited in convenient form.[333] The most important source of our knowledge of Greek geography and Greek geographers is of course the great Geography of Strabo, which a happy fortune preserved to us. The long introduction upon the nature of geography and the size of the earth and the dimensions of the known world is of especial interest, both for his own views and for those he criticises.[334] Strabo lived about b.c. 60 to a.d. 24.

The works of Marinus of Tyre having perished, the next important geographical work in Greek is the world-renowned Geography of Ptolemaeus, who wrote in the second half of the second century a.d. Despite the peculiar merits and history of this work, it is not so important for our purpose as the work of Strabo, though it exercised infinitely more influence on the Middle Ages and on early modern geography.[335]


The astronomical writers are also of importance. Eudoxus of Cnidus, said to have first adduced the change in the altitude of stars accompanying a change of latitude as proof of the sphericity of the earth, wrote works now known only in the poems of Aratus, who flourished in the latter half of the third century b.c.[336] Geminus (circ. b.c. 50),[337] and Cleomedes,[338] whose work is famous for having preserved the method by which Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the earth, were authors of brief popular compilations of astronomical science. Of vast importance in the history of learning was the astronomical work of Ptolemy, ἡ μεγάλη σύνταξις τῆς ἀστρονομίας, which was so honored by the Arabs that it is best known to us as the Almagest, from Tabric al Magisthri, the title of the Arabic translation which was made in 827. It has been edited and translated by Halma (Paris, 1813, 1816).

Much is to be learned from the Scholia attached in early times to the works of Hesiod, Homer, Pindar, the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius (b.c. 276-193?), and to the works of Aristotle, Plato, etc. In some cases these are printed with the works commented upon; in other cases, the Scholia have been printed separately. The commentary of Proclus (a.d. 412-485) upon the Timaeus of Plato is of great importance in the Atlantis myth.[339]

Much interest attaches to the dialogue entitled On the face appearing in the orb of the moon, which appears among the Moralia of Plutarch. Really a contribution to the question of life after death, this work also throws light upon geographical and astronomical knowledge of its time.

Among the Romans we find much the same succession of sources. The poets, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Tibullus, Lucretius, Lucan, Seneca, touch on geographical or astronomical points and reflect the opinion of their day.[340]

The first six books of the great encyclopaedia compiled by Pliny the elder (a.d. 23-79)[341] contain an account of the universe and the earth, which is of the greatest value, and was long exploited by compilers of later times, among the earliest and best of whom was Solinus.[342] Equally famous with Solinus was the author of a work of more independent character, Pomponius Mela, who lived in the first century a.d. His geography, commonly[36] known as De situ orbis from the mediæval title, though the proper name is De chorographia, is a work of importance and merit. In the Middle Ages it had wonderful popularity.[343] Cicero, who contemplated writing a history of geography, touches upon the arrangement of the earth’s surface several times in his works, as in the Tusculan Disputations, and notably in the sixth book of the Republic, in the episode known as the “Dream of Scipio.” The importance of this piece is enhanced by the commentary upon it written by Macrobius in the fifth century a.d.[344] A peculiar interest attaches to the poems of Avienus, of the fourth century a.d., in that they give much information about the character attributed to the Atlantic Ocean.[345] The astronomical poems of Manilius[346] and Hyginus were favorites in early Middle Ages. The astrological character of the work of Manilius made it popular, but it conveyed also the true doctrine of the form of the earth. The curious work of Marcianus Capella gave a résumé of science in the first half of the fifth century a.d., and had a like popularity as a school-book and house-book which also helped maintain the truth.[347]

Such in the main are the ancient writers upon which we must chiefly rely in considering the present question. In the interpretation of these sources much has been done by the leading modern writers on the condition of science in ancient times; like Bunbury, Ukert, Forbiger, St. Martin, and Peschel on geography;[348] like Zeller on philosophy, not to name many others;[349] and like Lewis and Martin on astronomy;[350] but there is no occasion to go to much length in the enumeration of this class of books. The reader is referred to the examination of the literature of special points of the geographical studies of the ancients to the notes following this Essay.

Mediæval cosmology and geography await a thorough student; they are imbedded in the wastes of theological discussions of the Fathers, or hidden in manuscript cosmographies in libraries of Europe. It should be noted that confusion has arisen from the use of the word rotundus to express both the sphericity of the earth and the circularity of the[37] known lands, and from the use of terra, or orbis terrae, to denote the inhabited lands, as well as the globe. It has been pointed out by Ruge (Gesch. d. Zeitalters der Entdeckungen, p. 97) that the later Middle Age adopted the circular form of the oekoumene in consequence of a peculiar theory as to the relation of the land and water masses of the earth, which were conceived as two intercepting spheres. The oekoumene might easily be spoken of as a round disk without implying that the whole earth was plane.[351] That the struggle of the Christian faith, at first for existence and then for the proper harvesting of the fruits of victory, induced its earlier defenders to wage war against the learning as well as the religion of the pagans; that Christians were inclined to think time taken from the contemplation of the true faith worse than wasted when given to investigations into natural phenomena, which might better be accepted for what they professed to be; and that they often found in Scripture a welcome support for the evidence of the senses,—cannot be denied. It was inevitable that St. Chrysostom, Lactantius, Orosius and Origines rejected or declined to teach the sphericity of the earth. The curious systems of Cosmas and Aethicus, marked by a return to the crudest conceptions of the universe, found some favor in Europe. But the truth was not forgotten. The astronomical poems of Aratus, Hyginus, and Manilius were still read. Solinus and other plunderers of Pliny were popular, and kept alive the ancient knowledge. The sphericity of the earth was not denied by St. Augustine; it was maintained by Martianus Capella, and assumed by Isidor of Seville. Bede[352] taught the whole system of ancient geography; and but little later, Virgilius, bishop of Saltzburg, was threatened with papal displeasure, not for teaching the sphericity of the earth, but for upholding the existence of antipodes.[353] The canons of Ptolemy were cited in the eleventh century by Hermann Contractus in his De utilitatibus astrolabii, and in the twelfth by Hugues de Saint Victor in his Eruditio didascalica. Strabo was not known before Pope Nicholas V., who ordered the first translation. Not many to-day can illustrate the truth more clearly than the author of L’Image du Monde, an anonymous poem of the thirteenth century. If two men, he says, were to start at the same time from a given point and go, the one east, the other west,—

Si que andui egaumont alassent
Il convendroit qu’il s’encontrassent
Dessus le leu dont il se mûrent.[354]

In general, the mathematical and astronomical treatises were earlier known to the West than the purely metaphysical works: this was the case in the eleventh and twelfth centuries; in the thirteenth the schoolmen were familiar with the whole body of Aristotle’s works. Thus the influence of Aristotle on natural science was early important, either through Arabian commentators or paraphrasers, or through translations made from the Arabic, or directly from the Greek.[355]

Jourdain affirms that it was the influence of Aristotle and his interpreters that kept alive in the Middle Ages the doctrine that India and Spain were not far apart. He also maintains[38] that the doctrine of the sphericity of the earth was familiar throughout the Middle Age, and, if anything, more of a favorite than the other view.

The field of the later ecclesiastical and scholastic writers, who kept up the contentions over the form of the earth and kindred subjects, is too large to be here minutely surveyed. Such of them as were well known to the geographical students of the centuries next preceding Columbus have been briefly indicated in another place;[356] and if not completely, yet with helpful outlining, the whole subject of the mediæval cosmology has been studied by not a few of the geographical and cartographical students of later days.[357] So far as these studies pertain to the theory of a Lost Atlantis and the fabulous islands of the Atlantic Ocean, they will be particularly illustrated in the notes which follow this Essay.


A. The Form of the Earth.—It is not easy to demonstrate that the earliest Greeks believed the earth to be a flat disk, although that is the accepted and probably correct view of their belief. It is possible to examine but a small part of the earliest literature, and what we have is of uncertain date and dubious origin; its intent is religious or romantic, not scientific; its form is poetic. It is difficult to interpret it accurately, since the prevalent ideas of nature must be deduced from imagery, qualifying words and phrases, and seldom from direct description. The interpreter, doubtful as to the proportion in which he finds mingled fancy and honest faith, is in constant danger of overreaching himself by excess of ingenuity. In dealing with such a literature one is peculiarly liable to abuse the always dangerous argument by which want of knowledge is inferred from lack of mention. Other difficulties beset the use of later philosophic material, much of which is preserved only in extracts made by antagonists or by compilers, so that we are forced to confront a lack of[39] context and possible misunderstanding or misquotation. The frequent use of the word στρογγύλος, which has the same ambiguity as our word “round” in common parlance, often leads to uncertainty. A more fruitful cause of trouble is inherent in the Greek manner of thinking of the world. It is often difficult to know whether a writer means the planet, or whether he means the agglomeration of known lands which later writers called ἡ οἰκουμένη. It is not impossible that when writers refer to the earth as encircled by the river Oceanus, they mean, not the globe, but the known lands, the eastern continent, as we say, what the Romans sometimes called orbis terrae or orbis terrarum, a term which may mean the “circle of the lands,” not the “orb of the earth.” At a later time it was a well-known belief that the earth-globe and water-globe were excentrics, so that a segment of the former projected beyond the surface of the latter in one part, and constituted the known world.[358]

I cannot attach much importance to the line of argument with which modern writers since Voss have tried to prove that the Homeric poems represent the earth flat. That Poseidon, from the mountains of the Solymi, sees Odesseus on the sea to the west of Greece (Od. v. 282); that Helios could see his cattle in Thrinakia both as he went toward the heavens and as he turned toward the earth again (Od. xii. 380); that at sunset “all the ways are darkened;” that the sun and the stars set in and rose from the ocean,—these and similar proofs seem to me to have as little weight as attaches to the expressions “ends of the earth,” or to the flowing of Oceanus around the earth. There are, however, other and better reasons for assuming that the earth in earliest thought was flat. Such is the most natural assumption from the evidence of sight, and there is certainly nothing in the older writings inconsistent with such an idea. We know, moreover, that in the time of Socrates it was yet a matter of debate as to whether the earth was flat or spherical, as it was in the time of Plutarch.[359] We are distinctly told by Aristotle that various forms were attributed to earth by early philosophers, and the implication is that the spherical theory, whose truth he proceeds to demonstrate, was a new thought.[360] It is very unlikely, except to those who sincerely accept the theory of a primitive race of unequalled wisdom, that the sphericity of the earth, having been known to Homer, should have been cast aside by the Ionic philosophers and the Epicureans, and forgotten by educated people five or six centuries later, as it must have been before the midnight voyage of Helios in his golden cup, and before similar attempts to account for the return of the sun could have become current. Ignorance of the true shape of the earth is also indicated by the common view that the sun appeared much larger at rising to the people of India than to the Grecians, and at setting presented the same phenomenon in Spain.[361] As we have seen, the description of Tartarus in the Theogony of Hesiod, which Fick thinks an interpolation of much later date, likens the earth to a lid.

The question has always been an open one. Crates of Mallos, Strabo, and other Homer-worshippers of antiquity, could not deny to the poet any knowledge current in their day, but their reasons for assuming that he knew the earth to be a globe are not strong. In recent years President Warren has maintained that Homer’s earth was a sphere with Oceanus flowing around the equator, that the pillars of Atlas meant the axis of the earth, and that Ogygia was at the north pole.[362] Homer, however, thought that Oceanus flowed around the known lands, not that it merely grazed their southern border: it is met with in the east where the sun rises, in the west (Od. iv. 567), and in the north (Od. v. 275).

That “Homer and all the ancient poets conceived the earth to be a plane” was distinctly asserted by Geminus in the first century b.c.,[363] and has been in general steadfastly maintained by moderns like Voss,[364] Völcker,[365] Buchholtz,[366] Gladstone,[367] Martin,[368] Schaefer,[369] and Gruppe.[370] It is therefore intrinsically probable, commonly accepted, and not contradicted by what is known of the literature of the time itself.[371]

B. Homer’s Geography.—There is an extensive literature on the geographic attainments of Homer, but it is for the most part rather sad reading. The later Greeks had a local identification for every place mentioned[40] in the Odyssey; but conservative scholars at present are chary of such, while agreed in confining the scene of the wanderings to the western Mediterranean. Gladstone, in Homer and the Homeric Age, has argued with ingenuity for the transfer of the scene from the West to the East, and has constructed on this basis one of the most extraordinary maps of “the ancient world” known. K. E. von Baer (Wo ist der Schauplatz d. Fahrten d. Odysseus zu finden? 1875), agreeing with Gladstone, “identifies” the Lastrygonian harbor with Balaklava, and discovers the very poplar grove of Persephone. It is a favorite scheme with others to place the wanderings outside the columns of Hercules, among the Atlantic isles,[372] and to include a circumnavigation of Africa. The better opinion seems to me that which leaves the wanderings in the western Mediterranean, which was considered to extend much farther north than it actually does. The maps which represent the voyage within the actual coast lines of the sea, and indicate the vessel passing through the Straits to the ocean, are misleading. There is not enough given in the poem to resolve the problem. The courses are vague, the distances uncertain or conventional,—often neither are given; and the matter is complicated by the introduction of a floating island, and the mysterious voyages from the land of the Phaeacians. It is a pleasant device adopted by Buchholtz and others to assume that where the course is not given, the wind last mentioned must be considered to still hold, and surely no one will grudge the commentators this amelioration of their lot.

C. Supposed References to America.—It is well known that Columbus’s hopes were in part based on passages in classical authors.[373] Glareanus, quoting Virgil in 1527, after Columbus’s discovery had made the question of the ancient knowledge prominent, has been considered the earliest to open the discussion;[374] and after this we find it a common topic in the early general writers on America, like Las Casas (Historia General), Ramusio (introd. vol. iii.), and Acosta (book i. ch. 11, etc.)

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was not an uncommon subject of academic and learned discussion.[375] It was a part of the survey made by many of the writers who discussed the origin of the American tribes, like Garcia,[376] Lafitau,[377] Samuel Mather,[378] Robertson,[379] not to name others.

It was not till Humboldt compassed the subject in his Examen Critique de l’histoire de la géographie du nouveau continent (Paris, 1836), that the field was fully scanned with a critical spirit, acceptable to the modern mind. He gives two of the five volumes which comprise the work to this part of his subject, and very little has been added by later research, while his conclusions still remain, on the whole, those of the most careful of succeeding writers. The French original is not equipped with guides to its contents, such as a student needs; but this is partly supplied by the index in the German translation.[380] The impediments which the student encounters in the Examen Critique are a good deal removed in a book which is on the whole the easiest guide to the sources of the subject,—Paul Gaffarel’s Etude sur les rapports de l’Amérique et de l’ancien continent avant Christophe Colomb (Paris, 1869).[381]

The literature of the supposed old-world communication with America shows other phases of this question of ancient knowledge, and may be divided, apart from the Greek embraced in the previous survey, into those of the Egyptians, Phœnicians, Tyrians, Carthaginians, and Romans.


The Egyptian theory has been mainly worked out in the present century. Paul Felix Cabrera’s Teatro critico Americano, printed with Rio’s Palenqué (Lond., 1822), formulates the proofs. An essay by A. Lenoir, comparing the Central American monuments with those of Egypt, is appended to Dupaix’s Antiquités Méxicaines (1805). Delafield’s Inquiry into the Origin of the Antiquities of America (Cincinnati, 1839), traces it to the Cushites of Egypt, and cites Garcia y Cubas, Ensayo de an Estudio Comparativo entre las Pirámides Egipcias y Méxicanas. Brasseur de Bourbourg discussed the question, S’il existe des sources de l’histoire primitive du Méxique dans les monuments égyptiens de l’histoire primitive de l’ancien monde dans les monuments américains? in his ed. of Landa’s Relations des Choses de Yucatan (Paris, 1864). Buckle (Hist. of Civilization, i. ch. 2) believes the Mexican civilization to have been strictly analogous to that of India and Egypt. Tylor (Early Hist. of Mankind, 98) compares the Egyptian hieroglyphics with those of the Aztecs. John T. C. Heaviside, Amer. Antiquities, or the New World the Old, and the Old World the New (London, 1868), maintains the reverse theory of the Egyptians being migrated Americans. F. de Varnhagen works out his belief in L’origine touranienne des américains tupis-caribes et des anciens égyptiens montrée principalement par la philologie comparée; et notice d’une émigration en Amérique effectuée à travers l’Atlantique plusieurs siècles avant notre ère (Vienne 1876).[382]

Aristotle’s mention of an island discovered by the Phœnicians was thought by Gomara and Oviedo to refer to America. The elder leading writers on the origin of the Indians, like Garcia, Horn, De Laet, and at a later day Lafitau, discuss the Phœnician theory; as does Voss in his annotations on Pomponius Mela (1658), and Count de Gebelin in his Monde primitif (Paris, 1781). In the present century the question has been touched by Cabrera in Rio’s Palenqué (1822). R. A. Wilson, in his New Conquest of Mexico, assigns (ch. v.) the ruins of Middle America to the Phœnicians. Morlot, in the Actes de la Société Jurassienne d’Emulation (1863), printed his “La découverte de l’Amérique par les Phènicièns.” Gaffarel sums up the evidences in a paper in the Compte Rendu, Cong. des Amér. (Nancy), i. 93.[383]

The Tyrian theory has been mainly sustained by a foolish book, by a foolish man, An Original History of Anc. America (London, 1843), by Geo. Jones, later known as the Count Johannes (cf. Bancroft’s Native Races, v. 73).

The Carthaginian discovery rests mainly on the statements of Diodorus Siculus.[384]

Baron Zach in his Correspondenz undertakes to say that Roman voyages to America were common in the days of Seneca, and a good deal of wild speculation has been indulged in.[385]

D. Atlantis.—The story of Atlantis rests solely upon the authority of Plato, who sketched it in the Timaeus, and began an elaborated version in the Critias (if that fragment be by him), which old writers often cite as the Atlanticus. This is frequently forgotten by those who try to establish the truth of the story, who often write as if all statements in print were equally available as “authorities,” and quote as corroborations of the tale all mentions of it made by classical writers, regardless of the fact that all are later than Plato, and can no more than Ignatius Donnelly corroborate him. In fact, the ancients knew no better than we what to make of the story, and diverse opinions prevailed then as now. Many of these opinions are collected by Proclus in the first book of his commentary on the Timaeus,[386] and all shades of opinion are represented from those who, like Crantor, accepted the story as simply historical, to those who regarded it as a mere fable. Still others, with Proclus himself, accepted it as a record of actual events, while accounting for its introduction in Plato by a variety of subtile metaphysical interpretations. Proclus reports that Crantor, the first commentator upon Plato (circa b.c. 300), asserted that the Egyptian priests said that the story was written on pillars which were still preserved,[387] and he likewise quotes from the Ethiopic History of Marcellus, a writer of whom[42] nothing else is known, a statement that according to certain historians there were seven islands in the external sea sacred to Proserpine; and also three others of great size, one sacred to Pluto, one to Ammon, and another, the middle one, a thousand stadia in size, sacred to Neptune. The inhabitants of it preserved the remembrance, from their ancestors, of the Atlantic island which existed there, and was truly prodigiously great, which for many periods had dominion over all the islands in the Atlantic sea, and was itself sacred to Neptune.[388] Testimony like this is of little value in such a case. What comes to us at third hand is more apt to need support than give it; yet these two passages are the strongest evidence of knowledge of Atlantis outside of Plato that is preserved. We do indeed find mention of it elsewhere and earlier. Thus Strabo[389] says that Posidonius (b.c. 135-51) suggested that, as the land was known to have changed in elevation, Atlantis might not be a fiction, but that such an island-continent might actually have existed and disappeared. Pliny[390] also mentions Atlantis in treating of changes in the earth’s surface, though he qualifies his quotation with “si Platoni credimus.”[391] A mention of the story in a similar connection is made by Ammianus Marcellinus.[392]

In the Scholia to Plato’s Republic it is said that at the great Panathenaea there was carried in procession a peplum ornamented with representations of the contest between the giants and the gods, while on the peplum carried in the little Panathenaea could be seen the war of the Athenians against the Atlantides. Even Humboldt accepted this as an independent testimony in favor of the antiquity of the story; but Martin has shown that, apart from the total inconsistency of the report with the expressions of Plato, who places the narration of this forgotten deed of his countrymen at the celebration of the festival of the little Panathenaea, the scholiast has only misread Proclus, who states that the peplum depicted the repulse of the barbarians, i. e. Persians, by the Greeks.[393] To these passages it is customary to add references to the Meropian continent of Theopompus,[394] the Saturnian of Plutarch, the islands of Aristotle, Diodorus and Pausanias,—which is very much as if one should refer to the New Atlantis of Bacon as evidence for the existence of More’s Utopia.[395] Plutarch in his life of Solon attributes Solon’s having given up the idea of an epic upon Atlantis to his advanced age rather than to want of leisure; but there is nothing to show that he had any evidence beyond Plato that Solon ever thought of such a poem, and Plato does not say that Solon began the poem, though Plutarch appears to have so understood him.[396] Thus it seems more probable that all the references to Atlantis by ancient writers are derived from the story in Plato than that they are independent and corroborative statements.

With the decline of the Platonic school at Alexandria even the name of Atlantis readily vanished from literature. It is mentioned by Tertullian,[397] and found a place in the strange system of Cosmas Indicopleustes,[398] but throughout the Middle Ages little or nothing was known of it. That it was not quite forgotten appears from its mention in the Image du Monde, a poem of the thirteenth century, still in MS., where it is assigned a location in the Mer Betée (= coagulée).[399] Plato was printed in Latin in 1483, 1484, 1491, and in Greek in 1513, and in 1534 with the commentary of Proclus on the Timaeus.[400] The Timaeus was printed separately five times in the sixteenth century, and also in a French and an Italian translation.[401]

The discovery of America doubtless added to the interest with which the story was perused, and the old controversy flamed up with new ardor. It was generally assumed that the account given by Plato was not his invention. Opinions were, however, divided as to whether he had given a correct account. Of those who believed that he had erred as to the locality or as to the destruction of the island, some thought that America was the true Atlantis, while others, with whose ideas we have no concern here, placed Atlantis in Africa, Asia, or Europe, as prejudice led them. Another class of scholars, sensible of the necessity of adhering to the text of the only extant account, accepted the whole narrative, and endeavored to find in the geography of the[43] Atlantic, or as indicated by the resemblances between the flora, fauna, and civilization of America and of the old world, additional reasons for believing that such an island had once existed, and had disappeared after serving as a bridge by which communication between the continents was for a time carried on. The discussion was prolonged over centuries, and is not yet concluded. The wilder theories have been eliminated by time, and the contest may now be said to be between those who accept Plato’s tale as true and those who regard it as an invention. The latter view is at present in favor with the most conservative and careful scholars, but the other will always find advocates. That Atlantis was America was maintained by Gomara, Guillaume de Postel, Horn, and others incidentally, and by Birchrod in a special treatise,[402] which had some influence even upon the geographer Cellarius. In 1669 the Sansons published a map showing America divided among the descendants of Neptune as Atlantis was divided, and even as late as 1762 Vaugondy reproduced it.[403] In his edition of Plato, Stallbaum expressed his belief that the Egyptians might have had some knowledge of America.[404] Cluverius thought the story was due to a knowledge of America.[405]

Very lately Hyde Clark has found in the Atlantis fable evidence of a knowledge of America: he does not believe in the connecting island Atlantis, but he holds that Plato misinterpreted some account of America which had reached him.[406] Except for completeness it is scarcely worth mentioning that Blackett, whose work can really be characterized by no other word than absurd, sees America in Atlantis.[407]

Here should be mentioned a work by Berlioux, which puts Euhemerus to the blush in the manner in which history with much detail is extorted from mythology.[408] He holds that Atlantis was the northwestern coast of Africa; that under Ouranos and Atlas, astronomers and kings, it was the seat of a great empire which had conquered portions of America and kept a lively commercial intercourse with that country.

Ortelius in several places speaks of the belief that America was the old Atlantis, and also attributes that belief to Mercator.[409]

That Atlantis might really have existed[410] and disappeared, leaving the Atlantic islands as remnants, was too evident to escape notice. Ortelius suggested that the island of Gades might be a fragment of Atlantis,[411] and the doctrine was early a favorite. Kircher, in his very curious work on the subterranean world, devotes considerable space to Atlantis, rejecting its connection with America, while he maintains its former existence, and holds that the Azores, Canaries, and other Atlantic islands were formerly parts thereof, and that they showed traces of volcanic fires in his day.[412]

Las Casas in his history of the Indies devoted an entire chapter to Atlantis, quoting the arguments of Proclus, in his commentary on Plato, in favor of the story, though he is himself more doubtful. He also cites confirmative passages from Philo and St. Anselm, etc. He considers the question of the Atlantic isles, and cites authorities for great and sudden changes in the earth’s surface.[413]

The same view was taken by Becman,[414] and Fortia D’Urban. Turnefort included America in the list of remnants; and De la Borde followed Sanson in extending Atlantis to the farthest Pacific islands.[415] Bory de St. Vincent,[416] again, limited Atlantis to the Atlantic, and gave on a map his ideas of its contour.

D’Avezac maintains this theory in his Iles africaines de l’Océan Atlantique,[417] p. 5-8. Carli devoted a large part of the second volume of his Lettere Americane to Atlantis, controverting Baily, who placed Atlantis[44] in Spitzbergen. Carli goes at considerable length into the topographical and geological arguments in favor of its existence.[418] The early naturalists, when the doctrine of great and sudden changes in the earth’s surface was in favor, were inclined to look with acquiescence on this belief. Even Lyell confessed a temptation to accept the theory of an Atlantis island in the northern Atlantic, though he could not see in the Atlantic islands trace of a mid-Atlantic bridge.[419] About the middle of this century scholars in several departments of learning, accepting the evidences of resemblances between the product of the old and new world, were induced to turn gladly to such a connection as would have been offered by Atlantis; and the results obtained at about the same time by studies in the pre-Columbian traditions and civilization of Mexico were brought forward as supporting the same theory. That the Antilles were remnants of Atlantis; that the Toltecs were descendants from the panic-stricken fugitives of the great catastrophe, whose terrors were recorded in their traditions, as well as in those of the Egyptians, was ardently urged by Brasseur de Bourbourg.[420]

In 1859 Retzius announced that he found a close resemblance between the skulls of the Guanches of the Canaries and the Guaranas of Brazil, and recalled the Atlantis story to explain it.[421] In 1846 Forbes declared his belief in the former existence of a bridge of islands in the North Atlantic, and in 1856 Heer attempted to show the necessity of a similar connection from the testimony of palæontological botany.

In 1860, Unger deliberately advocated the Atlantis hypothesis to explain the likeness between the fossil flora of Europe and the living flora of America, enumerating over fifty similar species; and Kuntze found in the case of the tropical seedless banana, occurring at once in America before 1492 and in Africa, a strong evidence of the truth of the theory.[422]

A condensed review of the scientific side of the question is given by A. Boué in his article Ueber die Rolle der Veränderungen des unorganischen Festen im grossen Massstabe in der Natur.[423]

The deep-sea soundings taken in the Atlantic under the auspices of the governments of the United States, England, and Germany resulted in discoveries which gave a new impetus to the Atlantis theory. It was shown that, starting from the Arctic plateau, a ridge runs down the middle of the Atlantic, broadening toward the Azores, and contracting again as it trends toward the northeast coast of South America. The depth over the ridge is less than 1,000 fathoms, while the valleys on either side average 3,000; it is known after the U. S. vessel which took the soundings as the Dolphin ridge. A similar though more uniformly narrow ridge was found by the “Challenger” expedition (1873-76), extending from somewhat north of Ascension Island directly south between South America and Africa. It is known as the Challenger ridge. There is, beside, evidence for the existence of a ridge across the tropical Atlantic, connecting the Dolphin and Challenger ridges. Madeira, the Canaries, and the Cape Verde Islands are cut off from these ridges by a deep valley, but are connected by shoals with the continent. Upon the publication of the Challenger chart (Special Report, vii. 1876), those who favored the theory of communication between the continents were not slow to appropriate its disclosures in their interests (Nature, Dec. 21, 1876, xv. 158). In March, 1877, W. Stephen Mitchell delivered a lecture at South Kensington, wherein he placed in juxtaposition the theory of Unger and the revelations of the deep-sea soundings, when he announced, however, that he did not mean to assert that these ridges had ever formed a connecting link above water between the continents.[424] Others were less cautious,[425] but in general this interpretation did not commend itself as strongly to conservative men of science as it might have done a few years before, because such men were gradually coming to doubt the fact of changes of great moment in the earth’s surface, even those of great duration.

In 1869, M. Paul Gaffarel published his first treatise on Atlantis,[426] advocating the truth of the story, and in 1880 he made it the subject of deeper research, utilizing the facts which ocean exploration had placed at command.[427] This is the best work which has appeared upon this side of the question, and can only be set against[45] the earlier work by Martin.[428] The same theory has been supported by D. P. de Novo y Colson, who went so far as to predict the ultimate recovery of some Atlantean manuscripts from submarine grottoes of some of the Atlantic islands,—a hope which surpasses Mr. Donnelly.[429]

Winchell found the theory too useful in his scheme of ethnology to be rejected,[430] but it was reserved for Ignatius Donnelly to undertake the arrangement of the deductions of modern science and the data of old traditions into a set argument for the truth of Plato’s story. His book,[431] in many ways a rather clever statement of the argument, so evidently presented only the evidence in favor of his view, and that with so little critical estimate of authorities and weight of evidence, that it attracted only uncomplimentary notice from the scientific press.[432] It was, however, the first long presentation of the case in English, and as such made an impression on many laymen. In 1882 was also published the second volume of the Challenger Narrative, containing a report by M. Renard on the geologic character of the mid-Atlantic island known as St. Paul’s rocks. The other Atlantic islands are confessedly of volcanic origin, and this, which laymen interpreted in favor of the Atlantis theory, militated with men of science against the view that they were remnants of a sunken continent. St. Paul’s, however, was, as noted by Darwin, of doubtful character, and Renard came to the conclusion that it was composed of crystalline schists, and had therefore probably been once overlaid by masses since removed.[433] This conclusion, which tended in favor of Atlantis, was controverted by A. Geikie[434] and by M. E. Wadsworth,[435] (the latter having personally inspected specimens,) on the ground that the rocks were volcanic in origin, and that, had they been schists, the inference of denudation would not follow. Dr. Guest declared that ethnologists have fully as good cause as the botanists to regard Atlantis as a fact.[436] A. J. Weise in treating of the Discoveries of America adopted the Atlantis fable unhesitatingly, and supposes that America was known to the Egyptians through that channel.[437]

That the whole story was invented by Plato as a literary ornament or allegorical argument, or that he thus utilized a story which he had really received from Egypt, but which was none the less a myth, was maintained even among the early Platonists, and was the view of Longinus. Even after the discovery of America many writers recognized the fabulous touch in it, as Acosta,[438] who thought, “being well considered, they are rediculous things, resembling rather to Ovid’s tales then a Historie of Philosophie worthy of accompt,” and “cannot be held for true but among children and old folkes”—an opinion adopted by the judicious Cellarius.[439]


Among more recent writers, D’Anville, Bartoli,[440] Gosselin,[441] Ukert,[442] approved this view.

Humboldt threw the weight of his great influence in favor of the mythical interpretation, though he found the germ of the story in the older geographic myth of the destruction of Lyctonia in the Mediterranean (Orph. Argonaut., 1274, etc.);[443] while Martin, in his work on the Timaeus, with great learning and good sense, reduced the story to its elements, concluding that such an island had never existed, the tale was not invented by Plato, but had really descended to him from Solon, who had heard it in Egypt.

Prof. Jowett regards the entire narrative as “due to the imagination of Plato, who could easily invent ‘Egyptians or anything else,’ and who has used the name of Solon ... and the tradition of the Egyptian priest to give verisimilitude to his story;”[444] and Bunbury is of the same opinion, regarding the story as “a mere fiction,” and “no more intended to be taken seriously ... than the tale of Er the Pamphylian.”[445] Mr. Archer-Hind, the editor of the only separate edition of the Timaeus which has appeared in England, thinks it impossible to determine “whether Plato has invented the story from beginning to end, or whether it really more or less represents some Egyptian legend brought home by Solon,” which seems to be a fitting conclusion to the whole matter.

The literature of the subject is widely scattered, but a good deal has been done bibliographically in some works which have been reserved for special mention here. The earliest is the Dissertation sur l’Atlantide, by Th. Henri Martin,[446] wherein, beside a carefully reasoned examination of the story itself and similar geographic myths, the opposing views of previous writers are set forth in the second section, Histoire des Systèmes sur l’Atlantide, pp. 258-280. Gaffarel has in like manner given a résumé of the literature, which comes down later than that of Martin, in the two excellent treatises which he has devoted to the subject; he is convinced of the existence of such an island, but his work is marked by such care, orderliness, and fulness of citations that it is of the greatest value.[447] The references in these treatises are made with intelligence, and are, in general, accurate and useful. That this is not the case with the work of Mr. Donnelly deprives the volume of much of the value which it might have had.[448]

E. Fabulous Islands of the Atlantic in the Middle Ages.—Fabulous islands belong quite as much to the domain of folk-lore as to that of geography. The legends about them form a part of the great mass of superstitions connected with the sea. What has been written about these island myths is for the most part scattered in innumerable collections of folk-tales and in out-of-the-way sources, and it does not lie within the scope of the present sketch to track in these directions all that has been said. It will not be out of place, however, to refer to a few recent works where much information and many references can be found. One of the fullest collections, though not over-well sorted, is by Lieut. F. S. Bassett,[449] consisting of brief notes made in the course of wide reading, well provided with references, which are, however, often so abbreviated as[47] to inflict much trouble on those who would consult them,—an all too common fault. Of interest is a chapter on Les îles, in a similar work by M. Paul Sebillot.[450] An island home has often been assigned to the soul after death, and many legends, some mediæval, some of great antiquity, deal with such islands, or with voyages to them. Some account of these will be found in Bassett, and particularly in an article by E. Beauvois in the Revue de l’histoire de Religion,[451] where further references are to be found. Wm. F. Warren has also collected many references to the literature of this subject in the course of his endeavor to show that Paradise was at the North Pole.[452] The long articles on Eden and Paradise in McClintock and Strong’s Biblical Encyclopedia should also be consulted.

In what way the fabulous islands of the Atlantic originated is not known, nor has the subject been exhaustively investigated. The islands of classical times, in part actual discoveries, in part born of confused reports of actual discoveries, and in part probably purely mythical, were very generally forgotten as ancient civilization declined.[453] The other islands which succeeded them were in part reminiscences of the islands known to the ancients or invented by them, and in part products of a popular mythology, as old perhaps as that of the Greeks, but until now unknown to letters. The writers who have dealt with these islands have treated them generally from the purely geographic point of view. The islands are known principally from maps, beginning with the fourteenth century, and are not often met with in descriptive works. Formaleoni, in his attempt to show that the Venetians had discovered the West Indies prior to Columbus, made studies of the older maps which naturally led him to devote considerable attention to these islands.[454]

They are also considered by Zurla.[455] The first general account of them was given by Humboldt in the Examen Critique,[456] and to what he did little if anything has since been added. D’Avezac[457] treated the subject, giving a brief sketch of the islands known to the Arab geographers,—a curious matter which deserves more attention.

Still more recently Paul Gaffarel has treated the matter briefly, but carefully.[458] A study of old maps by H. Wuttke, in the Jahresbericht des Vereins für Erdkunde zu Dresden,[459] gives considerable attention to the islands; and Theobald Fischer, in his commentary on the collection of maps reproduced by Ongania, has briefly touched on the subject,[460] as has Cornelio Desimoni in various papers in the Atti della Società Ligure di Storia patria, xiv., and other years, in the Atti dell’ Acad. dei Nuova Lincei, in the Gionale ligustico, etc. R. H. Major’s Henry the Navigator should also be consulted.[461]

Strictly speaking, the term mythical islands ought to include, if not Frisland and Drogeo, at least the land of Bus, the island of Bimini with its fountain of life, an echo of one of the oldest of folk-tales, the island of Saxenburg, and the other non-existent islands, shoals, and rocks, with which the imagination of sailors and cartographers have connected the Atlantic even into the present century. In fact, the name is by common consent restricted to certain islands which occur constantly on old charts: the Island of St. Brandan, Antillia or Isle of the Seven Cities, Satanaxio, Danmar, Brazil, Mayda, and Isla Verte. It is interesting to note that the Arab geographers had their fabulous islands, too, though so little is known of them that it is at present impossible to say what relation they bear to those mentioned. They say that Ptolemy assigned 25,000 islands to the Atlantic, but they name and describe seventeen only, among which we may mention the Eternal Islands (Canaries? Azores?),[462] El-Ghanam (Madeira?), Island of the Two Sorcerers (Lancerote?), etc.[463]


There has been some difference of opinion as to which of the Atlantic islands answer to the ancient conception of the Fortunate Islands. It is probable that the idea is at the bottom of several of these, but it may be doubted whether the island of St. Brandan is not entirely due to the christianizing of this ancient fable.

We proceed now to examine the accounts of some of these islands.

St. Brandan.—St. Brandan, or Brendan, who died May 16, 577, was Abbot of Cluainfert, in Ireland, according to the legend, where he was visited by a friend, Barontus, who told him that far in the ocean lay an island which was the land promised to the saints. St. Brandan set sail for this island in company with 75 monks, and spent seven years upon the ocean, in two voyages (according to the Irish text in the MS. book of Lismore, which is probably the most archaic form of the legend), discovering this island and many others equally marvellous, including one which turned out to be the back of a huge fish, upon which they celebrated Easter. This story cannot be traced beyond the eleventh century, its oldest form being a Latin prose version in a MS. of that century. It is known also in French, English, and German translations, both prose and verse, and was evidently a great favorite in the Middle Ages. Intimately connected with the St. Brandan legend is that of St. Malo, or Maclovius, Bishop of Aleth, in Armorica, a disciple of St. Brandan, who accompanied his superior, and whose eulogists, jealous of the fame of the Irish saint, provided for the younger a voyage on his own account, with marvels transcending those found by Brandan. His church-day is November 17th. The story of St. Brandan is given by Humboldt and D’Avezac,[464] and by Gaffarel.[465] Further accounts will be found in the Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists,[466] and in the introductions and notes to the numerous editions of the voyages, among which reference only need be made to the original Latin edited by M. Jubinal,[467] and to the English version edited by Thomas Wright for the Percy Society.[468] A Latin text of the fourteenth century is now to be found in the Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae ex codice Salmanticensi nunc premium integre edita opera C. de Smedt et J. de Backer (Edinb. etc., 1888), 4to, pp. 111-154. As is well known, Philoponus gives an account of the voyages of St. Brandan with a curious map, in which he places the island N. W. of Spain and N. E. of the Canaries, or Insulae Fortunatae.[469] The island of St. Brandan was at first apparently imagined in the north, but it afterward took a more southerly location. Honoré d’Autun identifies it with a certain island called Perdita, once discovered and then lost in the Atlantic; we have here, perhaps, some reminiscence of the name “Aprositos,” which Ptolemy bestows on one of the Fortunatae Insulae.[470] In some of the earlier maps there is an inlet on the west coast of Ireland called Lacus Fortunatus, which is packed with islands which are called Insulae Fortunatae or Beatae, and sometimes given as 300 or 368 in number.[471] But the Pizigani map of 1367 puts the Isole dicte Fortunate S. Brandany in the place of Madeira; and Behaim’s globe, in 1492, sets it down in the latitude of Cape de Verde,—a legend against it assigning the discovery to St. Brandan in 565.

It is this island which was long supposed to be seen as a mountainous land southeast of the Canaries. After the discovery of the Azores expeditions were fitted out to search for it, and were continued until 1721, which are described by Viera, and have been since retold by all writers on the subject.[472] The island was again reported as seen in 1759.

Antillia, or Isle of Seven Cities.—The largest of these islands, the one most persistent in its form and location, is Antillia, which is depicted as a large rectangular island, extending from north to south, lying[49] in the mid-Atlantic about lat. 35° N. This island first appears on the map of 1424, preserved at Weimar, and is found on the principal maps of the rest of the century, notably in the Bianco of 1436.[473] On some maps of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries appears a smaller island under the name of Sette Citade, or Sete Ciudades, which is properly another name for Antillia, as Toscanelli says in his famous letter, wherein he recommended Antillia as likely to be useful as a way-station on the India voyage. We owe to Behaim the preservation on his globe of 1492 of the legend of this island. It was discovered and settled, according to him, by refugees from Spain in 714, after the defeat of King Roderick by the Moors. The settlers were accompanied by an archbishop and six bishops, each of whom built him a town. There is a story that the island was rediscovered by a Portuguese sailor in 1447.[474]

In apparent connection with Antillia are the smaller islands Danmar or Tanmar, Reillo or Royllo, and Satanaxio. The latter alone is of special interest. Formaleoni found near Antillia, on the map of Bianco of 1436, an island with a name which he read as “Y.d laman Satanaxio,”—a name which much perplexed him, until he found, in an old Italian romance, a legend that in a certain part of India a great hand arose every day from the sea and carried off the inhabitants into the ocean. Adapting this tale to the west, he translated the name “Island of the hand of Satan,”[475] in which interpretation Humboldt acquiesced. D’Avezac, however, was inclined to think that there were two islands, one called Delamar, a name which elsewhere appears as Danmar or Tanmar, and Satanaxio, or, as it appears on a map by Beccario at Parma, Satanagio,[476] and suggests that the word is a corrupt form for S. Atanaxio or S. Atanagio, i. e. St. Athanasius, with which Gaffarel is inclined to agree.[477]

Formaleoni saw in Antillia a foreknowledge of the Antilles, and Hassel believed that North and South America were respectively represented by Satanaxio and Antillia, with a strait between, just as the American continent was indeed represented after the discovery. It is certainly curious that Beccario designates the group of Antillia, Satanagio, and Danmar, as Isle de novo reperte, the name afterwards applied to the discoveries of Columbus; but it is not now believed that the fifteenth-century islands were aught but geographical fancies. To transfer their names to the real discoveries was of course easy and natural.[478]

Brazil.—Among the islands which prefigured the Azores on fourteenth-century maps appears I. de Brazi on the Medicean portulano of 1351, and it is apparently Terceira or San Miguel.[479] On the Pizigani map of 1367 appear three islands with this name, Insula de Bracir or Bracie, two not far from the Azores, and one off the south or southeast end of Ireland. On the Catalan map of 1375 is an Insula de Brazil in the southern part of the so-called Azores group, and an Insula de Brazil (?) applied to a group of small islands enclosed in a heavy black ring west of Ireland. The same reduplication occurs in the Solerio of 1385, in a map of 1426[50] preserved at Regensburg, in Bianco’s map of 1436, and in that of 1448: here de Braxil is the easternmost of the Azores group (i. e. y de Colombi, de Zorzi, etc.), while the large round island—more like a large ink-blot than anything else—west of Ireland is y de Brazil d. binar.[480] In a map in St. Mark’s Library, Venice, dated about 1450, Brazil appears in four places. Fra Mauro puts it west of Ireland,[481] and it so appears in Ptolemy of 1519, and Ramusio in 1556; but Mercator and Ortelius inscribe it northwest of the Azores.

Humboldt has shown[482] that brazil-wood, being imported into Europe from the East Indies long before the discovery of America, gave its name to the country in the west where it was found in abundance, and he infers that the designation of the Atlantic island was derived from the same source. The duplication of the name, however, seems to point to a confusion of different traditions, and in the Brazil off Ireland we doubtless have an attempt to establish the mythical island of Hy Brazil, or O’Brasile, which plays a part as a vanishing island in Irish legends, although it cannot be traced to its origin. In the epic literature of Ireland relating to events of the sixth and subsequent centuries, and which was probably written down in the twelfth, there are various stories of ocean voyages, some involuntary, some voluntary, and several, like the voyage of the sons of Ua Corra about 540, of St. Brandan about 560, and of Mailduin in the eighth century, taking place in the Atlantic, and resulting in the discovery of numerous fabulous islands.[483] The name of Brazil does not appear in these early records, but it seems to belong to the same class of legends.[484] It is first mentioned, as far as I know, by William Betoner, called William of Worcester, who calls the island Brasyle and Brasylle, and says that July 15, 1480, his brother-in-law, John Jay, began a voyage from Bristol in search of the island, returning Sept. 18 without having found it.[485] This evidently belongs to the series of voyages made by Bristol men in search of this island, which is mentioned by Pedro d’Ayala, the Spanish ambassador to England, in his famous letter of July 25, 1498, where he says that such voyages in search of Brazylle and the seven cities had been made for seven years past, “according to the fancies of the Genoese,” meaning Sebastian Cabot.[486]

It would seem that the search for Brazil was of older date than Cabot’s arrival. He probably gave an additional impetus to the custom, adding to the stories of the fairy isles the legends of the Sette Citade or Antillia. Hardiman,[487] quoting from a MS. history of Ireland, in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, written about 1636, mentions an “iland, which lyeth far att sea, on the west of Connaught, and some times is perceived by the inhabitants of the Oules and Iris ... and from Saint Helen Head. Like wise several seamen have discovered it, ... one of whom, named Captain Rich, who lives about Dublin, of late years had a view of the land, and was so neere that he discovered a harbour ... but could never make to land” because of “a mist which fell upon him.... Allsoe in many old mappes ... you still find it by the name of O’Brasile under the longitude of 03°, 00´, and the latitude of 50° 20´.”[488] In 1675 a pretended account of a visit to this island was published in London, which is reprinted by Hardiman.[489]

An account of the island as seen from Arran given in O’Flaherty’s Sketch of the Island of Arran,[490] is quoted by H. Halliday Sterling, Irish Minstrelsy, p. 307 (London, 1887). Mr. Marshall, in a note in Notes and[51] Queries, Sept. 22, 1883 (6th s., viii. 224), quotes Guest, Origines Celticae (London, 1883), i. 126, and R. O’Flaherty, Ogygia, sive rerum Hibernicarum chronologiae (London, 1685; also in English translation, Dublin, 1793), as speaking of O’Brazile. The latter work I have not seen. Mr. Marshall also quotes a familiar allusion to it by Jeremy Taylor (Dissuasive from Popery, 1667). This note was replied to in the same periodical, Dec. 15, 1883, by Mr. Kerslake, “N.” and W. Fraser. Fraser’s interest had been attracted by the entry of the island—much smaller than usual—on a map of the French Geographer Royal, Le Sieur Tassin, 1634-1652, and he read a paper before the Geological Society of Ireland, Jan. 20, 1870, suggesting that Brazil might be the present Porcupine Bank, once above water. On the same map Rockall is laid down as two islands, where but a solitary rock is now known.[491] Brasil appears on the maps of the last two centuries, with Mayda and Isle Verte, and even on the great Atlas by Jefferys, 1776, is inserted, although called “imaginary island of O’Brasil.” It grows constantly smaller, but within the second half of this century has appeared on the royal Admiralty charts as Brazil Rock.[492]

It would be too tedious to enumerate the numerous other imaginary islands of the Atlantic to which clouds, fogs, and white caps have from time to time given rise. They are marked on all charts of the last century in profusion; mention, however, may be made of the “land of Bus” or Busse, which Frobisher’s expedition coasted along in 1576, and which has been hunted for with the lead even as late as 1821, though in vain.

F. Toscanelli’s Atlantic Ocean.—It has been shown elsewhere (Vol. II. pp. 30, 31, 38, 90, 101, 103) that Columbus in the main accepted the view of the width of the Atlantic, on the farther side of which Asia was supposed to be, which Toscanelli had calculated; and it has not been quite certain what actual measurement should be given to this width, but recent discoveries tend to make easier a judgment in the matter.

When Humboldt wrote the Examen Critique, Toscanelli’s letter to Columbus, of unknown date,[493] enclosing a copy of the one he sent to Martinez in 1474, was known only in the Italian form in Ulloa’s translation of the Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo (Venice, 1571), and in the Spanish translation of Ulloa’s version by Barcia in the Historiades primitivos de las Indias occidentales (Madrid, 1749), i. 5 bis, which was reprinted by Navarrete, Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos, etc., ii. p. 1. In the letter to Martinez, in this form, it is said that there are in the map which accompanied it twenty-six spaces between Lisbon and Quisai, each space containing 250 miles according to the Ulloa version, but according to the re-translation of Barcia 150 miles. This, with several other changes made by Barcia, were followed by Navarrete and accepted as correct by Humboldt, who severely censures Ximenes for adopting the Italian rendering in his Gnomone fiorent. But the Latin copy of the letter in Columbus’s handwriting, discovered by Harrisse and made public (with fac-simile) in his D. Fernando Colon (Seville, 1871),[494] sustained the correctness of Ulloa’s version, giving 250 miliaria to the space. This authoritative rendering also showed that while the translator had in general followed the text, he had twice inserted a translation of miles into degrees, and once certainly, incorrectly, making in one place 100 miles = 35 leagues, and in another, 2,500 miles = 225 leagues. Probably this discrepancy led to the omissions made by Barcia; he was wrong, however, in changing the number 250, supposing the 150 not to be a typographical error, and in omitting the phrase, “which space (from Lisbon to Quinsai) is about the third part of the sphere.” The Latin text showed, too, that this whole passage about distances was not in the Martinez letter at all, but formed the end of the letter to Columbus, since in the Latin it follows the date of the Martinez letter, into which it has been interpolated by a later hand. Finally the publication of Las Casas’s Historia de las Indias (Madrid, 1875) gave us another Spanish version, which differs from Barcia’s in closely agreeing with the Ulloa version, and which gives the length of a space at 250 miles.

There were then 26 × 250 = 6500 miles between Lisbon and Quinsai, and this was about one third of the circumference of the earth in this latitude, but it is not clear whether Roman or Italian miles were meant.

If the MS. in the Biblioteca Nazionale at Florence [Cod. Magliabechiano Classe xi. num. 121], described by G. Uzielli in the Bollettino della Società Geografica Italiana, x. 1 (1873), 13-28 (“Ricerche intorno a Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, ii. Della grandezza della terra secondo Paolo Toscanelli”), actually represents the work of Toscanelli, it is of great value in settling this point. The MS. is inscribed “Discorso di Mo Paolo Puteo Toscanelli sopra la cometa del 1456.” In it were found two papers: 1. A plain projection in rectangular form apparently for use in sketching a map. It is divided into spaces, each subdivided into five degrees, and numbers 36 spaces in length. It is believed by Sig. Uzielli that this is the form used in the map sent to Martinez. If this be so, the 26 spaces between Lisbon and Quinsai = 130°. 2. A list of the latitude and longitude of various localities, at the end of which is inscribed this table:

Gradus continet .68 miliaria minus 3ª unius.
Miliarum tria millia bracchia.
Bracchium duos palmas.
Palmus. 12. uncias. 7. filos.


The Florentine mile of 3,000 braccia da terra contains, according to Sig. Uzielli, 1653.6m. (as against 1481m. to the Roman mile). Hence Toscanelli estimated a degree of the meridian at 111,927m, or only 552m. more than the mean adopted by Bessel and Bayer. Since, according to the letter, one space = 250 miles, and by the map one space = 5°, we have 50 miles to a degree, which would point to an estimate for a latitude of about 42°, allowing 67 2-3 miles to an equatorial degree. Lisbon was entered in the table of Alphonso at 41° N. (true lat. 38° 41’ N.) By this reckoning Quinsai would fall 124° west of Lisbon or 10° west of San Francisco. It does not appear that the Florence MS. can be traced directly to Toscanelli, but the probability is certainly strong that we have here some of the astronomer’s working papers, and that Ximenes did not deserve the rebuke administered by Humboldt for allowing 250 miles to a space, and assuming that a space contained five degrees. Certainly Humboldt’s use of 150 miles is unjustifiable, and his calculation of 52° as the angular distance between Lisbon and Quinsai, according to Toscanelli, is very much too small, whatever standard we take for the mile. If we follow Uzielli, the result obtained by Ruge (Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen, p. 230), 104°, is also too small.[495]


From a map by Gaffarel, “L’Océan Atlantique et les restes de l’Atlantide,” in the Revue de Géographie, vi. p. 400, accompanying a paper by Gaffarel in the numbers for April-July, 1880, and showing such rocks and islets as have from time to time been reported as seen, or thought to have been seen, and which Gaffarel views as vestiges of the lost continent.


G.Early Maps of the Atlantic Ocean.By the Editor—The cartographical history of the Atlantic Ocean is, even down to our own day, an odd mixture of uncertain fact and positive fable. The island of Bresil or Brazil was only left off the British Admiralty charts within twenty years (see Vol. II. p. 36), and editions of the most popular atlases, like Colton’s, within twenty-five years have shown Jacquet Island, the Three Chimneys, Maida, and others lying in the mid-sea. It may possibly be a fair question if some of the reports of islands and rocks made within recent times may not have had a foundation in temporary uprisings from the bed of the sea.[496] We must in this country depend for the study of this subject on the great collections of facsimiles of early maps made by Santarem, Kunstmann, Jomard, and on the Sammlung which is now in progress at Venice, under the editing of Theobald Fischer, and published by Ongania.[497]

We may place the beginning of the Atlantic cartography[498] in the map of Marino Sanuto in 1306, who was first of the nautical map-makers of that century to lay down the Canaries;[499] but Sanuto was by no means sure of their existence, if we may judge from his omission of them in his later maps.[500]

A conventional map of the older period, which is given in Santarem’s Atlas as a “Mappemonde qui se trouve au revers d’une Médaille du Commencement du XVe Siècle.”


Note.—The above maps are reduced a little from the engraving in Allgemeine Geographische Ephemeriden (Weimar, 1807), vol. xxiv. p. 248. The smaller is an extract from that of Fr. Pizigani (1367), and the larger that of Andreas Bianco (1436). There is another fac-simile of the latter in F. M. Erizzo’s Le Scoperte Artiche (Venice, 1855).



After a sketch in St. Martin’s Atlas, pl. vii.

There are two maps of Hygden (a.d. 1350), but the abundance of islands which they present can hardly be said to show more than a theory.[501] There is more likelihood of well considered work in the Portolano Laurenziano-Gaddiano (a.d. 1351), preserved in the Biblioteca Mediceo-Laurenziana at Florence, of which Ongania, of Venice, published a fac-simile in 1881.[502] There are two maps of Francisco Pizigani, which seem to give the Canaries, Madeira, and the Azores better than any earlier one. One of these maps (1367) is in the national library at Parma, and the other (1373) is in the Ambrosian library at Milan (Studi biog. e bibliog., vol. ii. pp. viii, 57, 58). The 1367 map is given by Jomard and Santarem. The most famous of all these early maps is the Catalan Mappemonde of 1375, preserved in the great library at Paris. It gives the Canaries and other islands further north, but does not reach to the Azores.[503] These last islands are included, however, in another Catalan planisphere of not far from the same era, which is preserved in the national library at Florence, and has been reproduced by Ongania (1881).[504] The student will need to compare other maps of the fourteenth century, which can be found mentioned in the Studi, etc., with references in the Kohl Maps, sect. 1. The phototypic series of Ongania is the most important contribution to this study, though the yellow tints of the original too often render the details obscurely.[505] So for the next century there are the same guides; but a number of conspicuous charts may well be mentioned. Chief among them are those of Andrea Bianco contained in the Atlas (1436), in the Biblioteca Marciana at Venice, published by Ongania (1871), who also published (1881) the Carta Nautica of Bianco, in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan.[506]



After a sketch in St. Martin’s Atlas, pl. vii.

The 1436 map has been reproduced in colors in Pietro Amat de San Filippo’s Planisferio disegnato del 1436 (Bollettino Soc. Geografia, 1879, p. 560); and a sketch of the Atlantic part is given in the Allgem. Geog. Ephemeriden, xxiv. no. 248.[507]

During the next twenty years or more, the varying knowledge of the Atlantic is shown in a number of maps, a few of which may be named:—The Catalan map “de Gabriell de Valsequa, faite à Mallorcha en 1439,” which shows the Azores, and which Vespucius is said to have owned (Santarem, pl. 54). The planisphere “in lingua latina dell’ anno 1447,” in the national library at Florence (Ongania, 1881). The world maps of Giovanni Leardo (Johannes Leardus), 1448 and 1452, the former of which is given in Santarem (pl. 25,—also Hist. Cartog. iii. 398), and the latter reproduced by Ongania, 1880. One is in the Ambrosian library, and the other in the Museo Civico at Vicenza (cf. Studi, etc., ii. 72, 73). In the Biblioteca Vittorio Emanuele at Rome there is the sea-chart of Bartolomaeus de Pareto of 1455, on which we find laid down the Fortunate Islands, St. Brandan’s, Antillia, and Royllo.[508] The World of Fra Mauro[509] has been referred to elsewhere in the present volume.


From a “projection Synoptique Cordiforme” in the Bull. de la Soc. de Géog., 4e série, xx. (1860), in connection with a paper by D’Avezac (p. 398). Cf. Oscar Peschel in Ausland May 12, 1861; also in his Abhandlungen, i. 226.

We come now to the conditions of the Atlantic cartography immediately preceding the voyage of Columbus. The most prominent specimens of this period are the various marine charts of Grogioso and Andreas Benincasa from 1461 to 1490. Some of these are given by Santarem, Lelewel, and St. Martin; but the best enumeration of them is given in the Studi biog. e bibliog. della Soc. Geog. Ital. ii. 66, 77-84, 92, 99, 100. Of Toscanelli’s map of 1474, which influenced Columbus, we have no sketch, though some attempts have been made to reconstruct it from descriptions. (Cf. Vol. II. p. 103; Harrisse’s Christophe Colomb., i. 127, 129.) Brief mention may also be made of the Laon globe of 1486 (dated 1493), of which D’Avezac gives a projection in the Bulletin de la Soc. de Géog. xx. 417; of the Majorcan (Catalan) Carta nautica of about 1487 (cf. Studi, etc., ii. no. 397; Bull. Soc. Géog., i. 295); of the chart in the Egerton MSS., Brit. Mus., made by Christofalo Soligo about the same time, and which has no dearth of islands (cf. Studi, etc., i. 89); of those of Nicola Fiorin, Canepa, and Giacomo Bertran (Studi, etc., ii. 82, 86, and no. 398). The globe of Behaim (1492) gives the very latest of these ante-Columbian views (see Vol. II. 105).


A Fac-simile from BORDONE, 1547.



It took, after this, a long time for the Atlantic to be cleared, even partially, of these intrusive islands, and to bring the proper ones into accurate relations. How the old ideas survived may be traced in the maps of Ruysch, 1508 (Vol. II. 115); Coppo, 1528, with its riot of islands (II. 127); Mercator, 1541 (II. 177); Bordone, 1547; Zaltière, 1566 (II. 451); Porcacchi, 1572 (II. 453); Ortelius, 1575, 1587,—not to continue the series further.

NOTE.—The left of the annexed cuts is from Bordone’s Isolario, 1547; the right one is an extract from the “World” of Ortelius, 1587.





IN the previous chapter, in attempting to trace the possible connection of the new world with the old in the dimmest past, it was hard, if not hopeless, to find among the entangled myths a path that we could follow with any confidence into the field of demonstrable history. It is still a doubt how far we exchange myths for assured records, when we enter upon the problems of pre-Columbian explorations, which it is the object of the present chapter to discuss. We are to deal with supposable colonizations, from which the indigenous population of America, as the Spaniards found it, was sprung, wholly or in part; and we are to follow the venturesome habits of navigators, who sought experience and commerce in a strange country, and only incidentally left possible traces of their blood in the peoples they surprised. If Spain, Italy, and England gained consequence by the discoveries of Columbus and Cabot, there were other national prides to be gratified by the priority which the Basques, the Normans, the Welsh, the Irish, and the Scandinavians, to say nothing of Asiatic peoples, claimed as their share in the gift of a new world to the old. The records which these peoples present as evidences of their right to be considered the forerunners of the Spanish and English expeditions have in every case been questioned by those who are destitute of the sympathetic credence of a common kinship. The claims which Columbus and Cabot fastened upon Spain and England, to the disadvantage of Italy, who gave to those rival countries their maritime leaders, were only too readily rejected by Italy herself, when the opportunity was given to her of paling such borrowed glories before the trust which she placed in the stories of the Zeni brothers.

There is not a race of eastern Asia—Siberian, Tartar, Chinese, Japanese, Malay, with the Polynesians—which has not been claimed as discoverers, intending or accidental, of American shores, or as progenitors, more or less perfect or remote, of American peoples; and there is no good reason why any one of them may not have done all that is claimed. The historical evidence, however, is not such as is based on documentary proofs of indisputable character, and the recitals advanced are often far from precise enough to be convincing in details, if their general authenticity is allowed.[60] Nevertheless, it is much more than barely probable that the ice of Behring Straits or the line of the Aleutian Islands was the pathway of successive immigrations, on occasions perhaps far apart, or may be near together; and there is hardly a stronger demonstration of such a connection between the two continents than the physical resemblances of the peoples now living on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean in these upper latitudes, with the similarity of the flora which environs them on either shore.[510] It is quite as conceivable that the great northern current, setting east athwart the Pacific, should from time to time have carried along disabled vessels, and stranded them on the shores of California and farther north, leading to the infusion of Asiatic blood among whatever there may have been antecedent or autochthonous in the coast peoples. It is certainly in this way possible that the Chinese or Japanese may have helped populate the western slopes of the American continent. There is no improbability even in the Malays of southeastern Asia extending step by step to the Polynesian islands, and among them and beyond them, till the shores of a new world finally received the impress of their footsteps and of their ethnic characteristics. We may very likely recognize not proofs, but indications, along the shores of South America, that its original people constituted such a stock, or were increased by it.

As respects the possible early connections of America on the side of Europe, there is an equally extensive array of claims, and they have been set forth, first and last, with more persistency than effect.[511]

Leaving the old world by the northern passage, Iceland lies at the threshold of America. It is nearer to Greenland than to Norway, and Greenland is but one of the large islands into which the arctic currents divide the North American continent. Thither, to Iceland, if we identify the localities in Geoffrey of Monmouth, King Arthur sailed as early as the beginning of the sixth century, and overcame whatever inhabitants he may have found there. Here too an occasional wandering pirate or adventurous Dane had glimpsed the coast.[512] Thither, among others, came the Irish, and in the ninth century we find Irish monks and a small colony of their countrymen in possession.[513] Thither the Gulf Stream carries the southern driftwood,[61] suggesting sunnier lands to whatever race had been allured or driven to its shelter.[514] Here Columbus, when, as he tells us,[515] he visited the island in 1477, found no ice. So that, if we may place reliance on the appreciable change of climate by the precession of the equinoxes, a thousand years ago and more, when the Norwegians crossed from Scandinavia and found these Christian Irish there,[516] the island was not the forbidding spot that it seems with the lapse of centuries to be becoming.


This cut is copied from one in Nordenskiöld’s Voyage of the Vega (London, 1881), vol. i. p. 50, where it is given as representing the vessel found at Sandefjord in 1880. It is drawn from the restoration given in The Viking ship discovered at Gokstad in Norway (Langskibet fra Gokstad ved Sandefjord) described by N. Nicholaysen (Christiania, 1882). The original vessel owed its preservation to being used as a receptacle for the body of a Viking chief, when he was buried under a mound. When exhumed, its form, with the sepulchral chamber midships, could be made out, excepting that the prow and stern in their extremities had to be restored. In the ship and about it were found, beside some of the bones of a man, various appurtenances of the vessel, and the remains of horses buried with him. They are all described in the book above cited, from which the other cuts herewith given of the plan of the vessel and one of its rowlocks are taken. The Popular Science Monthly, May, 1881, borrowing from La Nature, gives a view of the ship as when found in situ. There are other accounts in The Antiquary, Aug., 1880; Dec., 1881; 1882, p. 87; Scribner’s Magazine, Nov., 1887, by John S. White; Potter’s American Monthly, Mar., 1882. Cf. the illustrated paper, “Les navires des peuples du nord,” by Otto Jorell, in Congrès Internat. des Sciences géographiques (Paris, 1875; pub. 1878), i. 318.

Of an earlier discovery in 1872 there is an account in The ancient vessel found in the parish of Tune, Norway (Christiania, 1872). This is a translation by Mr. Gerhard Gadé of a Report in the Proceedings of the Society for preserving Norwegian Antiquities. (Cf. Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., xiii. p. 10.) This vessel was also buried under a mound, and she was 43½ feet long and four feet deep.

There is in the Nicholaysen volume a detailed account of the naval architecture of the Viking period, and other references may be made to Otto Jorell’s Les navires des peuples du Nord, in the Congrès internat. des sciences géog., compte rendu, 1875 (1878, i. 318); Mémoires de la Soc. royal des Antiquaires du Nord (1887, p. 280); Preble, in United Service (May, 1883, p. 463), and in his Amer. Flag, p. 159; De Costa’s Pre-Columbian Discovery of America, p. xxxvii; Fox’s Landfall of Columbus, p. 3; Pop. Science Monthly, xix. 80; Van Nostrand’s Eclectic Engineering Mag., xxiii. 320; Good Words, xxii. 759; Higginson’s Larger History U. S. for cuts; and J. J. A. Worsaae’s Prehistory of the North (Eng. transl., London,1886) for the burial in ships.

There is a paper on the daring of the Norsemen as navigators by G. Brynjalfson (Compte Rendu , Congrès des Américanistes, Copenhagen, p. 140), entitled “Jusqu’où les anciens Scandinaves ont-ils pénétré vers le pôle arctique dans leurs expéditions à la mer glaciale?”

It was in a.d. 875 that Ingolf, a jarl[517] of Norway, came to Iceland with Norse settlers. They built their habitation at first where a pleasant headland seemed attractive, the present Ingolfshofdi, and later founded Reikjavik, where the signs had directed them; for certain carved posts, which they had thrown overboard as they approached the island, were found to have drifted to that spot. The Christian Irish preferred to leave their asylum rather than consort with the new-comers, and so the island was left to be occupied by successive immigrations of the Norse, which their king could not prevent. In the end, and within half a century, a hardy little republic—as for a while it was—of near seventy thousand inhabitants was established almost under the arctic circle. The very next year (a.d. 876) after Ingolf had come to Iceland, a sea-rover, Gunnbiorn, driven in his ship westerly, sighted a strange land, and the report that he made was not forgotten.[518] Fifty years later, more or less, for we must treat the dates of the Icelandic sagas with some reservation, we learn that a wind-tossed vessel was thrown upon a coast far away, which was called Ireland the Great. Then again we read of a young Norwegian, Eric the Red, not apparently averse to a brawl, who killed his man in Norway and fled to Iceland, where he kept his dubious character; and again outraging the laws, he was sent into temporary banishment,—this time in a ship which he fitted out for discovery; and so he sailed away in the direction of Gunnbiorn’s land, and found it. He whiled away three years on its coast, and as soon as he was allowed ventured back with the tidings, while, to propitiate intending settlers, he said he had been to Greenland, and so the land got a sunny name. The next year, which seems to have been a.d. 985, he started on his return with thirty-five ships, but only fourteen of them[62] reached the land. Wherever there was a habitable fiord, a settlement grew up, and the stream of immigrants was for a while constant and considerable. Just at the end of the century (a.d. 999), Leif, a son of Eric, sailed back to Norway, and found the country in the early fervor of a new religion; for King Olaf Tryggvesson had embraced Christianity and was imposing it on his people. Leif accepted the new faith, and a priest was assigned to him to take back to Greenland; and thus Christianity was introduced into arctic[63] America. So they began to build churches[519] in Greenland, the considerable ruins of one of which stand to this day.[520] The winning of Iceland to the Church was accomplished at the same time.


There were two centres of settlement on the Greenland coast, not where they were long suspected to be, on the coast opposite Iceland, nor as supposed after the explorations of Baffin’s Bay, on both the east and west side of the country; but the settlers seem to have reached and doubled Cape Farewell, and so formed what was called their eastern settlement (Eystribygd), near the cape, while farther to the north they formed their western colony (Westribygd).[521] Their relative positions are still involved in doubt.


In the next year after the second voyage of Eric the Red, one of the ships which were sailing from Iceland to the new settlement, was driven far off her course, according to the sagas, and Bjarni Herjulfson, who commanded the vessel, reported that he had come upon a land, away to the southwest, where the coast country was level; and he added that when he turned north it took him nine days to reach Greenland.[522] Fourteen years later than this voyage of Bjarni, which is said to have been in a.d. 986,—that is, in the year 1000 or thereabouts,—Leif, the same who had brought the Christian priest to Greenland, taking with him thirty-five companions, sailed from Greenland in quest of the land seen by Bjarni, which Leif first found, where a barren shore stretched back to ice-covered mountains, and because of the stones there he called the region Hellu land. Proceeding farther south, he found a sandy shore, with a level forest-country back of it, and because of the woods it was named Markland. Two days later they came upon other land, and tasting the dew upon the grass they found[64] it sweet. Farther south and westerly they went, and going up a river came into an expanse of water, where on the shores they built huts to lodge in for the winter, and sent out exploring parties. In one of these, Tyrker, a native of a part of Europe where grapes grew, found vines hung with their fruit, which induced Leif to call the country Vinland.



From Viollet-le-Duc’s Habitation humaine (Paris, 1875).


From Worsaae’s Danes and Norwegians in England, etc. “With the exception of very imperfect representation carved on rocks and runic stones [see Higginson’s Larger History, p. 27], there are no images left in the countries of Scandinavia of ships of the olden times; but the tapestry at Bayeux, in Normandy, is a contemporary evidence of the appearance of the Normanic ships.”


This group from Worsaae’s Danes and Norwegians in England, etc., p. 64, shows the transition from the raven to the cross.


Attempts have been made to identify these various regions by the inexact accounts of the direction of their sailing, by the very general descriptions of the country, by the number of days occupied in going from one point to another, with the uncertainty if the ship sailed at night, and by the length of the shortest day in Vinland,—the last a statement that might help us, if it could be interpreted with a reasonable concurrence of opinion, and if it were not confused with other inexplicable statements. The next year Leif’s brother, Thorvald, went to Vinland with a single ship, and passed three winters there, making explorations meanwhile, south and north. Thorfinn Karlsefne, arriving in Greenland in a.d. 1006, married a courageous widow named Gudrid, who induced him to sail with his ships to Vinland and make there a permanent settlement, taking with him livestock and other necessaries for colonization. Their first winter in the place was a severe one; but Gudrid gave birth to a son, Snorre, from whom it is claimed Thorwaldsen, the Danish sculptor, was descended. The next season they removed to the spot where Leif had wintered, and called the bay Hóp. Having spent a third winter in the country, Karlsefne, with a part of the colony, returned to Greenland.


Fac-simile of Norse weapons from the Historia of Olaus Magnus (b. 1490; d. 1568), Rome, 1555, p. 222.

The saga then goes on to say that trading voyages to the settlement which had been formed by Karlsefne now became frequent, and that the chief lading of the return voyages was timber, which was much needed in Greenland. A bishop of Greenland, Eric Upsi, is also said to have gone to Vinland in a.d. 1121. In 1347 the last ship of which we have any record in these sagas went to Vinland after timber. After this all is oblivion.

There are in all these narratives many details beyond this outline, and those who have sought to identify localities have made the most they could of the mention of a rock here or a bluff there, of an island where they killed a bear, of others where they found eggs, of a headland where they buried a leader who had been killed, of a cape shaped like a keel, of broadfaced[66] natives who offered furs for red cloths, of beaches where they hauled up their ships, and of tides that were strong; but the more these details are scanned in the different sagas the more they confuse the investigator, and the more successive relators try to enlighten us the more our doubts are strengthened, till we end with the conviction that all attempts at consistent unravelment leave nothing but a vague sense of something somewhere done.

FULL-SIZE FAC-SIMILE OF THE TABLET, engraved by Prof. Magnus Petersen, with the Runes as he sees them.



RUNES, A.D. 1000.

This cut is of some of the oldest runes known, giving two lines in Danish and the rest in Latin, as the transliteration shows. It is copied from The oldest yet found Document in Danish, by Prof Dr. George Stephens (Copenhagen, 1888,—from the Mémoires des Antiquaires du Nord, 1887). The author says that the leaden tablet on which the runes were cut was found in Odense, Fyn, Denmark, in 1883, and he places the date of it about the year a.d. 1000.
George Stephens’s Handbook of the old Northern Runic Monuments of Scandinavia and England is a condensation, preserving all the cuts, and making some additions to his larger folio work in 3 vols., The old-northern Runic monuments of Scandinavia and England, now first collected and deciphered (London, etc., 1866-68). It does not contain either Icelandic or Greenland runes. He says that by the time of the colonization of Iceland “the old northern runes as a system had died out on the Scandinavian main, and were followed by the later runic alphabet. But even this modern Icelandic of the tenth century has not come down to us. If it had, it would be very different from what is now vulgarly so called, which is the greatly altered Icelandic of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.... The oldest written Icelandic known to us is said to date from about the year 1200.... The whole modern doctrine of one uniform Icelandic language all over the immense north in the first one thousand winters after Christ is an impossible absurdity.... It is very seldom that any of the Scandinavian runic stones bear a date.... No Christian runic gravestone is older than the fourteenth century.”
On runes in general, see Mallet, Bohn’s ed., pp. 227, 248, following the cut of the Kingektorsoak stone, in Rafn’s Antiq. Americanæ; Wilson’s Prehist. Man, ii. 88; Wollheim’s Nat. Lit. der Scandinavier (Berlin, 1875), vol. i. pp. 2-15; Legis-Glueckselig’s Die Runen and ihre Denkmäler (Leipzig, 1829); De Costa’s Pre-Columb. Disc., pp. xxx; Revue polit. et lit., Jan. 10, 1880.
It is held that runes are an outgrowth of the Latin alphabet. (L. F. A. Wimmer’s Runeskriftens Oprindelse og Udvikling i norden, Copenhagen, 1874.)

Everywhere else where the Northmen went they left proofs of their occupation[67] on the soil, but nowhere in America, except on an island on the east shore of Baffin’s Bay,[523] has any authentic runic inscription been found outside of Greenland. Not a single indisputable grave has been discovered to attest their alleged centuries of fitful occupation. The consistent and natural proof of any occupation of America south of Davis Straits is therefore lacking; and there is not sufficient particularity in the descriptions[524] to remove the suspicion that the story-telling of the fireside has overlaid the reports of the explorer. Our historic sense is accordingly left to consider, as respects the most general interpretation, what weight of confidence should be yielded to the sagas, pre-Columbian as they doubtless are. But beyond this is perhaps, what is after all the most satisfactory way of solving the problem, a dependence on the geographical and ethnical probabilities of the case. The Norsemen have passed into credible history as the most hardy and venturesome of races. That they colonized Iceland and Greenland is indisputable. That their eager and daring nature should have deserted them at this point is hardly conceivable. Skirting the Greenland shores and inuring themselves to the hardships and excitements of northern voyaging, there was not a long stretch of open sea before they could strike the Labrador coast. It was a voyage for which their ships, with courageous crews, were not unfitted. Nothing is more likely than that some ship of theirs may have been blown westerly and unwillingly in the first instance, just as Greenland was in like manner first made known to the Icelanders. The coast once found, to follow it to the south would have been their most consistent action.


Fac-simile of a cut to the chapter “De Alphabeto Gothorum” in the Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus (Romæ, M.D.LV.).

We may consider, then, that the weight of probability[525] is in favor of a Northman descent upon the coast of the American mainland at some point, or at several, somewhere to the south of Greenland; but the evidence is hardly that which attaches to well-established historical records.


The archæological traces, which are lacking farther south, are abundant in Greenland, and confirm in the most positive way the Norse occupation. The ruins of churches and baptisteries give a color of truth to the ecclesiastical annals which have come down to us, and which indicate that after having been for more than a century under the Bishop of Iceland, a succession of bishops of its own was established there early in the twelfth century. The names of seventeen prelates are given by Torfæus, though it is not quite certain that the bishops invariably visited their see. The last known to have filled the office went thither in the early years of the fifteenth century. The last trace of him is in the celebration of a marriage at Gardar in 1409.

The Greenland colonists were equipped with all the necessities of a permanent life. They had horses, sheep, and oxen, and beef is said to have been a regular article of export to Norway. They had buildings of stone, of which the remains still exist. They doubtless brought timber from the south, and we have in runic records evidence of their explorations far to the north. They maintained as late as the thirteenth century a regular commercial intercourse with the mother country,[526] but this trade fell into disuse when a royal mandate constituted such ventures a monopoly of the throne; and probably nothing so much conduced to the decadence and final extinction of the colonies as this usurped and exclusive trade, which cut off all personal or conjoined intercourse.

The direct cause of the final extinction of the Greenland colonies is involved in obscurity, though a variety of causes, easily presumable, would have been sufficient, when we take into consideration the moribund condition into which they naturally fell after commercial restriction had put a stop to free intercourse with the home government.

The Eskimos are said to have appeared in Greenland about the middle of the fourteenth century, and to have manifested hostility to such a degree that about 1342 the imperilled western colony was abandoned. The eastern colony survived perhaps seventy years longer, or possibly to a still later period. We know they had a new bishop in 1387, but before the end of that century the voyages to their relief were conducted only after long intervals.

Before communication was wholly cut off, the attacks of the Skrælings, and possibly famine and the black death, had carried the struggling colonists to the verge of destruction. Bergen, in Norway, upon which they depended for succor, had at one time been almost depopulated by the same virulent disease, and again had been ravaged by a Hanseatic fleet. Thus such intercourse as the royal monopoly permitted had become precarious, and the marauding of freebooters, then prevalent in northern waters, still further served to impede the communications, till at last they wholly ceased, during the early years of the fifteenth century.


It has sometimes been maintained that the closing in of ice-packs was the final stroke which extinguished the last hopes of the expiring colonists.[527] This view, however, meets with little favor among the more enlightened students of climatic changes, like Humboldt.[528]

There has been published what purports to be a bull of Pope Nicholas V,[529] directing the Bishop of Iceland to learn what he could of the condition of the Greenland colonies, and in this document it is stated that part of the colonists had been destroyed by barbarians thirty years before,—the bull bearing date in 1448. There is no record that any expedition followed upon this urging, and there is some question as to the authenticity of the document.[530] In the Relation of La Peyrère there is a story of some sailors visiting Greenland so late as 1484; but it is open to question.

Early in the sixteenth century fitful efforts to learn the fate of the colonies began, and these were continued, without result, well into the seventeenth century; but nothing explicable was ascertained till, in 1721, Hans Egede, a Norwegian priest, prevailed upon the Danish government to send him on a mission to the Eskimos. He went, accompanied by wife and children; and the colony of Godthaab, and the later history of the missions, and the revival of trade with Europe, attest the constancy of his purpose and the fruits of his earnestness. In a year he began to report upon certain remains which indicated the former occupation of the country by people who built such buildings as was the habit in Europe. He and his son Paul Egede, and their successors in the missions, gathered for us, first among[70] modern searchers, the threads of the history of this former people; and, as time went on, the researches of Graah, Nordenskjöld, and other explorers, and the studious habits of Major, Rink, and the rest among the investigators, have enabled us to read the old sagas of the colonization of Greenland with renewed interest and with the light of corroborating evidence.[531]

We are told that it was one result of these Northman voyages that the[71] fame of them spread to other countries, and became known among the Welsh, at a time when, upon the death of Owen Gwynedd, who ruled in the northern parts of that country, the people were embroiled in civil strife. That chieftain’s son, Prince Madoc, a man bred to the sea, was discontented with the unstable state of society, and resolved to lead a colony to these western lands, where they could live more in peace.

Note.—The cuts above are facsimiles of the title and of the first page of the section on Frisland, etc., from the Harvard College copy. The book is rare. The Beckford copy brought £50; the Hamilton, £38; the Tross catalogue (1882) price one at 150 francs; the Tweitmeyer, Leipzig, 1888, at 250 marks; Quaritch (1885), at £25. Cf. Court Catalogue, no. 378; Leclerc, no. 3002; Dufossé, no. 4965; Carter-Brown, i. 226; Murphy, nos. 2798-99. The map is often in fac-simile, as in the Harvard College copy.

Accordingly, in a.d. 1170, going seaward on a preliminary exploration by the south of Ireland, he steered west, and established a pioneer colony in a fertile land. Leaving here 120 persons, he returned to Wales, and fitted out a larger expedition of ten ships, with which he again sailed, and passed out of view forever. The evidence in support of this story is that it is mentioned in early[72] annals, and that sundry persons have discovered traces of the Welsh tongue among the lighter-colored American Indians, to say nothing of manifold legends among the Indians of an original people, white in color, coming from afar towards the northeast,—proofs not sufficient to attract the confidence of those who look for historical tests, though, as Humboldt contends,[532] there may be no impossibility in the story.

There seems to be a general agreement that a crew of Arabs, somewhere about the eleventh or twelfth century, explored the Atlantic westward, with the adventurous purpose of finding its further limits, and that they reached land, which may have been the Canaries, or possibly the Azores, though the theory that they succeeded in reaching America is not without advocates. The main source of the belief is the historical treatise of the Arab geographer Edrisi, whose work was composed about the middle of the twelfth century.[533]


From the Isolario (Venice, 1547).

In the latter part of the fourteenth century,[534] as the story goes, two brothers of Venice, Nicolo and Antonio Zeno, being on a voyage in the North Atlantic were wrecked there, and lived for some years at Frislanda, and visited Engroneland. During this northern sojourn they encountered a sailor, who, after twenty-six years of absence, had returned, and reported that the ship in which he was had been driven west in a gale to an island, where he found civilized people, who possessed books in Latin and could not speak Norse, and whose country was called Estotiland; while a region on the mainland, farther south, to which he had also gone, was called Drogeo, and that here he had encountered cannibals. Still farther south was a great country with towns and temples. This information, picked up by these exiled Zeni, was finally conveyed to another brother in Venice, accompanied by a map of these distant regions. These documents long[73] remained in the family palace in Venice, and were finally neglected and became obscured, until at last a descendant of the family compiled from them, as best he could, a book, which was printed in Venice in 1558 as Dei Commentarii del Viaggio, which was accompanied by a map drawn with difficulty from the half obliterated original which had been sent from Frislanda.[535] The original documents were never produced, and the publication took place opportunely to satisfy current curiosity, continually incited[74] by the Spanish discoveries. It was also calculated to appeal to the national pride of Italy, which had seen Spain gain the glory of her own sons, Columbus and Vespucius, if it could be established that these distant regions, of which the Zeni brothers so early reported tidings, were really the great new world.[536] The cartography of the sixteenth century shows that the narrative and its accompanying map made an impression on the public mind, but from that day to this it has been apparent that there can be no concurrence of opinion as to what island the Frislanda of the Zeni was, if it existed at all except in some disordered or audacious mind; and, as a matter of course, the distant regions of Estotiland and Drogeo have been equally the subject of belief and derision. No one can be said wholly to have taken the story out of the category of the uncertain.


(From Olaus Magnus.)

The presence of the Basques on the coasts of North America long before the voyage of Columbus is often asserted,[537] and there is no improbability in a daring race of seamen, in search of whales, finding a way to the American waters. There are some indications in the early cartography which can perhaps be easily explained on this hypothesis;[538] there are said to be unusual linguistic correspondences in the American tongues with those of this strange people.[539] There are the reports of the earliest navigators,[75] who have left indisputable records that earlier visitors from Europe had been before them, and Cabot may have found some reminders of such;[540] and it is even asserted that it was a Basque mariner, who had been on the Newfoundland banks, and gave to Columbus some premonitions of the New World.[541]

Certain claims of the Dutch have also been advanced;[542] and one for an early discovery of Newfoundland, in 1463-64, by John Vas Costa Cortereal was set forth by Barrow in his Chronological Hist. of Voyages into the Arctic Regions (London, 1818); but he stands almost alone in his belief.[543] Biddle in his Cabot has shown its great improbability.

In the years while Columbus was nourishing his purpose of a western voyage, there were two adventurous navigators, as alleged, who were breasting the dangers of the Sea of Darkness both to the north and to the south. It[76] cannot be said that either the Pole Skolno, in his skirting the Labrador coasts in 1476,[544] or the Norman Cousin, who is thought to have traversed a part of the South American coast in 1488-89,[545] have passed with their exploits into the accepted truths of history; but there was nothing improbable in what was said of them, and they flourish as counter-rumors always survive when attendant upon some great revelation like that of Columbus.


A. Early Connection of Asiatic Peoples with the Western Coast of America.— The question of the origin of the Americans, whether an autochthonous one or associated with the continents beyond either ocean, is more properly discussed in another place of the present volume. We can only indicate here in brief such of the phases of the question as suppose an Asiatic connection, and the particular lines of communication.

The ethnic unity of the American races, as urged by Morton and others, hardly meets the requirements of the problem in the opinion of most later students, like Sir Daniel Wilson, for instance; and yet, if A. H. Keane represents, as he claims, the latest ethnological beliefs, the connection with Asia, of the kind that forms ethnic traces, must have been before the history of the present Asiatic races, since the correspondence of customs, etc. is not sufficient for more recent affiliation.[546] It should be remembered also, that if this is true, and if there is the strong physical resemblance between Asiatics and the indigenous tribes of the northwest coast which early travellers and physiologists have dwelt on, we have in such a correspondence strong evidence of the persistency of types.[547]

The Asiatic theory was long a favorite one. So popular a book as Lafitau’s Mœurs des Sauvages (Paris, 1724) advocated it. J. B. Scherer’s Recherches historiques et géographiques sur le nouveau monde (Paris, 1777) was on the same side. One of the earliest in this country, Benj. Smith Barton, to give expression to American scholarship in this field held like opinions in his New Views of the Origin of the Tribes of America (Philad., 1797).[548] Twenty years later (1816) one of the most active of the American men of letters advocated the same views,—Samuel L. Mitchell in the Archæologia Americana (i. 325, 338, 346). The weightiest authority of his time, Alex. von Humboldt, formulated his belief in several of his books: Vues des Cordillères; Ansichten der Natur; Cosmos.[549]


Note.—Sketch map from the U. S. Geodetic Survey, 1880, App. xvi; also in Journal Amer. Geog. Soc., xv. p. 114. Cf. Bancroft’s Nat. Races, i. 35.

Of the northern routes, that by Behring’s Straits is the most apparent, and Lyell says that when half-way over Dover Straits, which have not far from the same dimensions, he saw both the English and French shores at the same time, he was easily convinced that the[78] passage by Behring’s Straits solved many of the difficulties of the American problem.[550]

The problem as to the passage by the Aleutian Islands is converted into the question whether primitive people could have successfully crossed an interval from Asia of 130 miles to reach the island Miedna, 126 more to Behring’s Island, and then 235 to Attu, the westernmost of the Aleutian Islands, or nearly 500 miles in all, and to have crossed in such numbers as to affect the peopling of the new continent. There are some, like Winchell, who see no difficulty in the case.[551] There are no authenticated relics, it is believed, to prove the Tartar occupancy of the northwest of America.[552] That there have been occasional estrays upon the coasts of British Columbia, Oregon, and California, by the drifting thither of Chinese and Japanese junks, is certainly to be believed; but the argument against their crews peopling the country is usually based upon the probable absence of women in them,—an argument that certainly does not invalidate the belief in an infusion of Asiatic blood in a previous race.[553]

The easterly passage which has elicited most interest is one alleged to have been made by some Buddhist priests to a country called Fusang, and in proof of it there is cited the narrative of one Hœi-Shin, who is reported to have returned to China in a.d. 499. Beside much in the story that is ridiculous and impossible, there are certain features which have led some commentators to believe that the coast of Mexico was intended, and that the Mexican maguey plant was the tree fusang, after which the country is said to have been called. The story was first brought to the attention of Europeans in 1761, when De Guignes published his paper on the subject in the 28th volume (pp. 505-26) of the Academy of Inscriptions.[554] It seems to have attracted little attention till J. H. von Klaproth, in 1831, discredited the American theory in his “Recherches sur le pays de Fousang,” published in the Nouvelles Annales des Voyages (2d ser., vol. xxi.), accompanied by a chart. In 1834 there appeared at Paris a French translation, Annales des Empereurs du Japon (Nipon o dai itsi rau), to which (vol. iv.) Klaproth appended an “Aperçu de l’histoire mythologique du Japon,” in which he returned to the subject, and convinced Humboldt at least,[555] that the country visited was Japan, and not Mexico, though he could but see striking analogies, as he thought, in the Mexican myths and customs to those of the Chinese.[556]

In 1841, Karl Friedrich Neumann, in the Zeitschrift für allgemeine Erdkunde (new series, vol. xvi.), published a paper on “Ost Asien und West Amerika nach Chinesischen Quellen aus dem fünften, sechsten und siebenten Jahrhundert,” in which he gave a version of the Hœi-shin (Hœi-schin, Hui-shën) narrative, which Chas. G. Leland, considering it a more perfect form of the original than that given by De Guignes, translated into English in The Knickerbocker Mag. (1850), xxxvi. 301, as “California and Mexico in the fifth century.”[557]


Note.—The map of Buache, 1752, showing De Guignes’ route of the Chinese emigration to Fusang. Reduced from the copy in the Congrès internationale des Américanistes, Compte Rendu, Nancy, 1875.


The next to discuss the question, and in an affirmative spirit, was Charles Hippolyte de Paravey, in the Annales de Philosophie Chrétienne (Feb., 1844), whose paper was published separately as L’Amérique sous le nom de pays de Fou-Sang, est elle citée dès le 5e siècle de notre ère, dans les grandes annales de la Chine, etc. Discussion ou dissertation abrégée, où l’affirmative est prouvée (Paris, 1844); and in 1847 he published Nouvelles preuves que le pays du Fousang est l’Amérique.[558]

The controversy as between De Guignes and Klaproth was shared, in 1862, by Gustave d’Eichthal, taking the Frenchman’s side, in the Revue Archéologique (vol. ii.), and finally in his Etudes sur les origines Bouddhiques de la civilisation Américaine (Paris, 1865).[559]

In 1870, E. Bretschneider, in his “Fusang, or who discovered America?” in the Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal (Foochow, Oct., 1870), contended that the whole story was the fabrication of a lying priest.[560]

In 1875 there was new activity in discussing the question. Two French writers of considerable repute in such studies attracted attention: the one, Lucien Adam, in the Congrès des Américanistes at Nancy (Compte Rendu, i. 145); and the other, Léon de Rosny, entered the discussions at the same session (Ibid. i. p. 131).[561]

The most conspicuous study for the English reader was Charles Godfrey Leland’s Fusang, or The discovery of America by Chinese Buddhist priests in the fifth century (London, 1875).[562]

The Marquis d’Hervey de Saint Denis published in the Actes de la Soc. d’Ethnographie (1869), vol. vi., and later in the Comptes Rendus of the French Academy of Inscriptions, a Mémoire sur le pays connu des anciens Chinois sous le nom de Fousang, et sur quelques documents inédits pour servir à l’identifier, which was afterwards published separately in Paris, 1876, in which he assented to the American theory. The student of the subject need hardly go, however, beyond E. P. Vining’s An inglorious Columbus: or, Evidence that Hwui Shăn and a party of Buddhist monks from Afghanistan discovered America in the fifth century a.d. (New York, 1885), since the compiler has made it a repository of all the essential contributions to the question from De Guignes down. He gives the geographical reasons for believing Fusang to be Mexico (ch. 20), comparing the original description of Fusang with the early accounts of aboriginal Mexico, and rehearsing the traditions, as is claimed, of the Buddhists still found[81] by the Spaniards pervading the memories of the natives, and at last (ch. 37) summarizing all the grounds of his belief.[563]

The consideration of the Polynesian route as a possible avenue for peopling America involves the relations of the Malays to the inhabitants of the Oceanic Islands and the capacity of early man to traverse long distances by water.[564]

E. B. Tylor has pointed out the Asiatic relations of the Polynesians in the Journal of the Anthropological Inst., xi. 401. Pickering, in the[82] ethnological chart accompanying the reports of the Wilkes Expedition, makes the original people of Chili and Peru to be Malay, and he connects the Californians with the Polynesians.[565]

The earliest elaboration of this theory was in John Dunmore Lang’s View of the origin and migrations of the Polynesian nations, demonstrating their ancient discovery and progressive settlement of the continent of America (London, 1834; 2d ed., Sydney, 1877). /Francis A. Allen has advanced similar views at the meetings of the Congrès des Américanistes at Luxembourg and at Copenhagen.[566]

The Mongol theory of the occupation of Peru, which John Ranking so enthusiastically pressed in his Historical researches on the conquest of Peru, Mexico, Bogota, Natchez, and Talomeco, in the thirteenth century, by the Mongols, accompanied with elephants; and the local agreement of history and tradition, with the remains of elephants and mastodontes found in the new world [etc.] (London, 1827), implies that in the thirteenth century the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan sent a fleet against Japan, which, being scattered in a storm, finally in part reached the coasts of Peru, where the son of Kublai Khan became the first Inca.[567] The book hardly takes rank as a sensible contribution to ethnology, and Prescott says of it that it embodies “many curious details of Oriental history and manners in support of a whimsical theory.”[568]

B. Ireland the Great, or White Man’s Land.—The claims of the Irish to have preceded the Norse in Iceland, and to have discovered America, rest on an Icelandic saga, which represents that in the tenth century Are Marson, driven off his course by a gale, found a land which became known as Huitramannaland, or white man’s land, or otherwise as Irland it Mikla.[569] This region was supposed by the colonists of Vinland to lie farther south, which Rafn[570] interprets as being along the Carolina coast,[571] and others have put it elsewhere, as Beauvois in Canada above the Great Lakes; and still others see no more in it than the pressing of some storm-driven vessel to the Azores[572] or some other Atlantic island. The story is also coupled, from another source, with the romance of Bjarni Asbrandson, who sailed away from Iceland and from a woman he loved, because the husband and relatives of the woman made it desirable that[83] he should. Thirty years later, the crew of another ship, wrecked on a distant coast,[573] found that the people who took them prisoners spoke Irish,[574] and that their chieftain was this same renegade, who let them go apparently for the purpose of conveying some token by which he would be remembered to the Thurid of his dreams. Of course all theorists who have to deal with these supposed early discoveries by Europeans connect, each with his own pet scheme, the prevailing legendary belief among the American Indians that white men at an early period made their appearance on the coasts all the way from Central America to Labrador.[575] Whether these strange comers be St. Patrick,[576] St. Brandan even, or some other Hibernian hero, with his followers, is easily to be adduced, if the disposing mind is inclined.

There have been of late years two considerable attempts to establish the historical verity of some of these alleged Irish visits.[577]

C. The Norse in Iceland.—The chief original source for the Norse settlement of Iceland is the famous Landnamabók,[578] which is a record by various writers, at different times, of the partitioning and ownership of lands during the earliest years of occupation.[579] This and other contemporary manuscripts, including the Heimskringla of Snorre Sturleson and the great body of Icelandic sagas, either at first hand or as filtered through the leading writers on Icelandic[84] history, constitute the material out of which is made up the history of Iceland, in the days when it was sending its adventurous spirits to Greenland and probably to the American main.[580]

Respecting the body of the sagas, Laing (Heimskringla, i. 23) says: “It does not appear that any saga manuscript now existing has been written before the fourteenth century, however old the saga itself may be. It is known that in the twelfth century, Are Frode, Sæmund and others began to take the sagas out of the traditionary state and fix them in writing; but none of the original skins appear to have come down to our time, but only some of the numerous copies of them.” Laing (p. 24) also instances numerous sagas known to have existed, but they are not now recognized;[581] and he gives us (p. 30) the substance of what is known respecting the writers and transcribers of this early saga literature. It is held that by the beginning of the thirteenth century the sagas of the discoveries and settlements had all been put in writing, and thus the history, as it exists, of mediæval Iceland is, as Burton says (Ultima Thule, i. 237), more complete than that of any European country.[582]

Among the secondary writers, using either at first or second hand the early MS. sources, the following may be mentioned:—

One of the earliest brought to the attention of the English public was A Compendious Hist. of the Goths, Swedes and Vandals, and other northern powers (London, 1650 and 1658), translated in an abridged form from the Latin of Olaus Magnus, which had been for more than a hundred years the leading comprehensive authority on the northern nations. The Svearikes Historia (Stockholm, 1746-62) of Olof von Dalin and the similar work of Sven Lagerbring (1769-1788), covering the early history of the north, are of interest for the comparative study of the north, rather than as elucidating the history of Iceland in particular.[583] More direct aid will be got from Mallet’s Northern Antiquities (London edition, 1847) and from Wheaton’s Northmen. More special is the Histoire de l’Island of Xavier Marmier; and the German historian F. C. Dahlman also touches Iceland with particular attention in his Geschichte von Dänemark bis zur Reformation, mit Inbegriff von Norwegen und Island (Hamburg, 1840-43).

A history of more importance than any other yet published, and of the widest scope, was that of Sweden by E. J. Geijer (continued by F. F. Carlson), which for the early period (down to 1654) is accessible in English in a translation by J. H. Turner (London, 1845).[584]

Prominent among the later school of northern historians, all touching the Icelandic annals more or less, have been Peter Andreas Munch in his Det Norske Folks Historie (Christiania, 1852-63);[585] N. M. Petersen in his Danmarks Historie i Hedenold (Copenhagen, 1854-55); K.[85] Keyser in his Norges Historie (Christiania, 1866-67); J. E. Sars in his Udsigt over den Norske Historie (Christiania, 1873-77); but all are surpassed by Konrad Maurer’s Island von seiner ersten Entdeckung bis zum Untergange des Freistaates,—a.d. 800-1262 (Munich, 1874), published as commemorating the thousandth anniversary of the settlement of Iceland, and it has the repute of being the best book on early Icelandic history.[586]

The change from Paganism to Christianity necessarily enters into all the histories covering the tenth and eleventh centuries; but it has special treatment in C. Merivale’s Conversion of the Northern Nations (Boyle lectures,—London, 1866).[587]

There is a considerable body of the later literature upon Iceland, retrospective in character, and affording the results of study more or less patient as to the life in the early Norse days in Iceland.[588]

G.W. Dasent’s introduction to his Story of Burnt Njal (Edinburgh, 1861)[589] and his Norsemen in Iceland (Oxford Essays, 1858) give what Max Müller (Chips from a German Workshop, ii. 191) calls “a vigorous and lively sketch of primitive northern life;” and are well supplemented by Sabine Baring-Gould’s Iceland, its scenes and sagas (London, 1863 and later), and Richard F. Burton’s Ultima Thule, with an historical introduction (London, 1875).[590]

D. Greenland and its Ruins.—The sagas still serve us for the colonization of Greenland, and of particular use is that of Eric the Red.[591] The earliest to use these sources in the historic spirit was Torfæus in his Historia Gronlandiæ Antiquæ (1715).[592] The natural successor of[86] Torfæus and the book upon which later writers mostly depend is David Crantz’s Historie von Grönland, enthaltend die Beschreibung des Landes und der Einwohner, insbesonders die Geschichten der dortigen Mission. Nebst Fortsetzung (Barby, 1765-70, 3 vols.). An English translation appeared in London in 1767, and again, though in an abridged form with some changes, in 1820.[593]


After a cut in Nordenskjöld’s Den Andra Dicksonska Expeditionen till Grönland, p. 369, following one in Efter Meddelelser om Grönland.

Crantz says of his own historic aims, referring to Torfæus and to the accounts given by the Eskimos of the east coast, that he has tried to investigate “where the savage inhabitants came from, and how the ancient Norwegian inhabitants came to be so totally extirpated,” while at the same time he looks upon the history of the Moravian missions as his chiefest theme.

The principal source for the identification of the ruins of Greenland is the work compiled by Rafn and Finn Magnusen, Grönlands Historiske Mindesmærker,[594] with original texts and Danish versions. Useful summaries and observations will be found in the paper by K. Steenstrup on “Old Scandinavian ruins in South Greenland” in the Compte Rendu, Congrès des Américanistes (Copenhagen, 1883, p. 108), and in one on “Les Voyages des Danois au Greenland” in the same (p. 196). Steenstrup’s paper is accompanied by photographs and cuts, and a map marking the site of the ruins. The latest account of them is by Lieut. Holm in the Meddelelser om Grönland (Copenhagen, 1883), vol. vi. Other views and plans showing the arrangement of their dwellings and the curious circular ruins,[595] which seems to have usually been near their churches, are shown in the Baron Nordenskjöld’s Den andra dicksonska expeditionen till Grönland, dess inre isöken och dess ostkust, utförd år 1883 (Stockholm,[87] 1885), the result of the ripest study and closest contact.

We need also to scan the narratives of Hans Egede and Graah. Parry found in 1824, on an island on the Baltic coast, a runic stone, commemorating the occupancy of the spot in 1135 (Antiquitates Americanæ; Mallet’s Northern Antiquities, 248); and in 1830 and 1831 other runes were found on old gravestones (Rink’s Danish Greenland, app. v.; Laing’s Heimskringla, i. 151). These last are in the Museum at Copenhagen. Most of these imperishable relics have been found in the district of Julianeshaab.[596]

E. The Vinland Voyages.—What Leif and Karlsefne knew they experienced, and what the sagas tell us they underwent, must have just the difference between a crisp narrative of personal adventure and the oft-repeated and embellished story of a fireside narrator, since the traditions of the Norse voyages were not put in the shape of records till about two centuries had elapsed, and we have no earlier manuscript of such a record than one made nearly two hundred years later still. It is indeed claimed that the transmission by tradition in those days was a different matter in respect to constancy and exactness from what it has been known to be in later times; but the assumption lacks proof and militates against well-known and inevitable processes of the human mind.


This is a portion of one of the plates in the Antiquitates Americanæ, given by Rafn to Charles Sumner, with a key in manuscript by Rafn himself. His signature is from a copy of his Mémoire given by him to Edward Everett, and now in Harvard College library.

In regard to the credibility of the sagas, the northern writers recognize the change which came over the oral traditionary chronicles when the romancing spirit was introduced from the more southern countries, at a time while the copies of the sagas which we now have were making, after having been for so long a time orally handed down; but they are not so successful in making plain what influence this imported spirit had on particular sagas, which we[88] are asked to receive as historical records. They seem sometimes to forget that it is not necessary to have culture, heroes, and impossible occurrences to constitute a myth. A blending of history and myth prompts Horn to say “that some of the sagas were doubtless originally based on facts, but the telling and re-telling have changed them into pure myths.” The unsympathetic stranger sees this in stories that the patriotic Scandinavians are over-anxious to make appear as genuine chronicles.[597] It is certainly unfortunate that the period of recording the older sagas coincides mainly with the age of this southern romancing influence.[598] It is a somewhat anomalous condition when long-transmitted oral stories are assigned to history, and certain other written ones of the age of the recorded sagas are relegated to myth. If we would believe some of the northern writers, what appears to be difference in kind of embellishment was in reality the sign that separated history from fable.[599] Of the interpreters of this olden lore, Torfæus has been long looked upon as a characteristic exemplar, and Horn[600] says of his works that they are “perceptibly lacking in criticism. Torfæus was upon the whole incapable of distinguishing between myth and history.”[601]


After a cut in Nordenskjöld’s Exped. till Grönland, p. 371, following the Meddel. om Grönland, vi. 98.


Erasmus Rask, in writing to Wheaton in 1831,[602] enumerates eight of the early manuscripts which mention Vinland and the voyages; but Rafn, in 1837, counted eighteen such manuscripts.[603] We know little or nothing about the recorders or date of any of these copies, excepting the Heimskringla,[604] nor how long they had existed orally. Some of them were doubtless put into writing soon after the time when such recording was introduced, and this date is sometimes put as early as a.d. 1120, and sometimes as late as the middle or even end of that century. Meanwhile, Adam of Bremen, in the latter part of the eleventh century (a.d. 1073), prepared his Historia Ecclesiastica, an account of the spread of Christianity in the north, in which he says he was told by the Danish king that his subjects had found a country to the west, called Winland.[605] A reference is also supposed to be made in the Historia Ecclesiastica of Ordericus Vitalis, written about the middle (say a.d. 1140) of the twelfth century. But it was not until somewhere between a.d. 1385 and 1400 that the oldest Icelandic manuscript which exists, touching the voyages, was compiled,—the so-called Codex Flatoyensis,[606] though how much earlier copies of it were made is not [90]known. It is in this manuscript that we find the saga of Olaf Tryggvesson,[607] wherein the voyages of Leif Ericson are described, and it is only by a comparison of circumstances detailed here and in other sagas that the year a.d. 1000 has been approximately determined as the date.[608] In this same codex we find the saga of Eric the Red, one of the chief narratives depended upon by the advocates of the Norse discovery, and in Rask’s judgment it “appears to be somewhat fabulous, written long after the event, and taken from tradition.”[609]

Note.—The above is a reproduction of a corner map in the map of Danish Greenland given in Rink’s book of that name. The sea in the southwest corner of the cut is not shaded; but shading is given to the interior ice field on the northern and northeastern part of the map. Rink gives a similar map of the Westerbygd.

The other principal saga is that of Thorfinn Karlsefne, which with some differences and with the same lack of authenticity, goes over the ground covered by that of Eric the Red.[610]



Of all the early manuscripts, the well-known Heimskringla of Snorro Sturleson (b. 1178; d. 1241), purporting to be a history of the Norse kings down to a.d. 1177, is the most entitled to be received as an historical record, and all that it says is in these words: “Leif also found Vinland the Good.”[611]

Saxo Grammaticus (d. about 1208) in his Historia Danica[92] begins with myths, and evidently follows the sagas, but does not refer to them except in his preface.[612]

For about five hundred years after this the stories attracted little or no attention.[613] We have seen that Peringskiöld produced these sagas in 1697. Montanus in his Nieuwe en onbekende Weereld (Amsterdam, 1671), and Campanius, in 1702, in his Kort Beskrifning om Provincien Nya Swerige uti America (Stockholm),[614] gave some details. The account which did most, however, to revive an interest in the subject was that of Torfæus in his Historia Vinlandiæ Antiquæ (Copenhagen, 1705), but he was quite content to place the scene of his narrative in America, without attempting to identify localities.[615] The voyages were, a few years later, the subject of a dissertation at the University of Upsala in Sweden.[616] J. P. Cassell, of Bremen, discusses the Adam of Bremen story in another Latin essay, still later.[617]

About 1750, Pieter Kalm, a Swede, brought the matter to the attention of Dr. Franklin, as the latter remembered twenty-five years later, when he wrote to Samuel Mather that “the circumstances gave the account a great appearance of authenticity.”[618] In 1755, Paul Henri Mallet (1730-1807), in his Histoire de Dannemarc, determines the localities to be Labrador and Newfoundland.[619]

In 1769, Gerhard Schöning, in his Norges Riges Historie, established the scene in America. Robertson, in 1777, briefly mentions the voyages in his Hist. of America (note xvii.), and, referring to the accounts given by Peringskiöld, calls them rude and confused, and says that it is impossible to identify the landfalls, though he thinks Newfoundland may have been the scene of Vinland. This is also the belief of J. R. Forster in his Geschichte der Entdeckungen im Norden (Frankfurt, 1784).[620] M. C. Sprengel, in his Geschichte der Europäer in Nordamerika (Leipzig, 1782), thinks they went as far south as Carolina. Pontoppidan’s History of Norway was mainly followed by Dr. Jeremy Belknap in his American Biography (Boston, 1794), who recognizes “circumstances to confirm and none to disprove the relations.” In 1793, Muñoz, in his Historia del Nuevo Mundo, put Vinland in Greenland. In 1796 there was a brief account[93] in Fritsch’s Disputatio historico-geographica in qua quæritur utrum veteres Americam noverint necne. H. Stenström published at Lund, in 1801, a short dissertation, De America Norvegis ante tempora Columbi adita. Boucher de la Richarderie, in his Bibliothèque Universelle des Voyages (Paris, 1808), gives a short account, and cites some of the authorities. Some of the earlier American histories of this century, like Williamson’s North Carolina, took advantage of the recitals of Torfæus and Mallet. Ebenezer Henderson’s Residence in Iceland (1814-15)[621] presented the evidence anew. Barrow, in his Voyages to the Arctic Regions (London, 1818), places Vinland in Labrador or Newfoundland; but J. W. Moulton, in his History of the State of New York (N. Y., 1824), brings that State within the region supposed to have been visited.

A writer more likely to cause a determinate opinion in the public mind came in Washington Irving, who in his Columbus (London, 1828) dismissed the accounts as untrustworthy; though later, under the influence of Wheaton and Rafn, he was inclined to consider them of possible importance; and finally in his condensed edition he thinks the facts “established to the conviction of most minds.”[622] Hugh Murray, in his Discoveries and Travels in North America (London, 1829), regards the sagas as an authority; but he doubts the assigning of Vinland to America. In 1830, W. D. Cooley, in his History of Maritime and Inland Discovery,[623] thought it impossible to shake the authenticity of the sagas.

While Henry Wheaton was the minister of the United States at Copenhagen, and having access to the collections of that city, he prepared his History of the Northmen, which was published in London and Philadelphia in 1831.[624] The high character of the man gave unusual force to his opinions, and his epitome of the sagas in his second chapter contributed much to increase the interest in the Northmen story. He was the first who much impressed the New England antiquaries with the view that Vinland should be looked for in New England; and a French version by Paul Guillot, issued in Paris in 1844, is stated to have been “revue et augmentée par l’auteur, avec cartes, inscriptions, et alphabet runique.”[625] The opinions of Wheaton, however, had no effect upon the leading historian of the United States, nor have any subsequent developments caused any change in the opinion of Bancroft, first advanced in 1834, in the opening volume of his United States, where he dismissed the sagas as “mythological in form and obscure in meaning; ancient yet not contemporary.” He adds that “the intrepid mariners who colonized Greenland could easily have extended their voyage to Labrador; but no clear historical evidence establishes the natural probability that they accomplished the passage.”[626] All this is omitted by Bancroft in his last revised edition; but a paragraph in his original third volume (1840), to the intent that, though “Scandinavians may have reached the shores of Labrador, the soil of the United States has not one vestige of their presence,” is allowed to remain,[627] and is true now as when first written.

The chief apostle of the Norseman belief, however, is Carl Christian Rafn, whose work was accomplished under the auspices of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries at Copenhagen.[628]

Rafn was born in 1795, and died at Copenhagen in 1864.[629] At the University, as well as later as an officer of its library, he had bent his attention to the early Norse manuscripts and literature,[630] so that in 1825 he was the natural[94] founder of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries; and much of the value of its long series of publications is due to his active and unflagging interest.[631] The summit of his American interest, however, was reached in the great folio Antiquitates Americanæ,[632] in which he for the first time put the mass of original Norse documents before the student, and with a larger accumulation of proofs than had ever been adduced before, he commented on the narratives and came to conclusions respecting traces of their occupancy to which few will adhere to-day.

The effect of Rafn’s volume, however, was marked, and we see it in the numerous presentations of the subject which followed; and every writer since has been greatly indebted to him.

Alexander von Humboldt in his Examen Critique (Paris, 1837) gave a synopsis of the sagas, and believed the scene of the discoveries to be between Newfoundland and New York; and in his Cosmos (1844) he reiterated his views, holding to “the undoubted first discovery by the Northmen as far south as 41° 30’.”[633]



Opposite is a section of Rafn’s map in the Antiquitates Americanæ, giving his identification of the Norse localities. This and the other map by Rafn is reproduced in his Cabinet d’Antiquités Américaines (Copenhagen, 1858). The map in the atlas of St. Martin’s Hist. de la Géographie does not track them below Newfoundland. The map in J. T. Smith’s Northmen in New England (Boston, 1839) shows eleven voyages to America from Scandinavia, a.d. 861-1285. Cf. map in Wilhelmi’s Island, etc. (Heidelberg, 1842).


Two books which for a while were the popular treatises on the subject were the immediate outcome of Rafn’s book. The first of these was The Northmen in New England, giving the stories in the form of a dialogue, by Joshua Toulmin Smith (Boston, 1839), which in a second edition (London, 1842) was called The Discovery of America by the Northmen in the Tenth Century.

The other book was largely an English version of parts of Rafn’s book, translating the chief sagas, and reproducing the maps: Nathaniel Ludlow Beamish’s Discovery of America by the Northmen in the Tenth Century (London, 1841).[634] Two German books owed almost as much to Rafn, those of K. Wilhelmi[635] and K. H. Hermes.[636] Prescott, at this time publishing the third volume of his Mexico (1843), accords to Rafn the credit of taking the matter out of the category of doubt, but he hesitates to accept the Dane’s identifications of localities; but R. H. Major, in considering the question in the introduction to his Select letters of Columbus (1847), finds little hesitation in accepting the views of Rafn, and thinks “no room is left for disputing the main fact of discovery.”

When Hildreth, in 1849, published his United States, he ranged himself, with his distrusts, by the side of Bancroft but J. Elliot Cabot, in making a capital summary of the evidence in the Mass. Quarterly Review (vol. ii.), accords with the believers, but places the locality visited about Labrador and Newfoundland. Haven in his Archæology of the United States (Washington, 1856) regards the discovery as well attested, and that the region was most likely that of Narragansett Bay. C. W. Elliott in his New England History (N. Y., 1857) holds the story to be “in some degree mythical.” Palfrey in his Hist. of New England (Boston, 1858) goes no farther than to consider the Norse voyage as in “nowise unlikely,” and Oscar F. Peschel in his Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen (Stuttgart, 1858) is on the affirmative side. Paul K. Sinding goes over the story with assent in his History of Scandinavia,—a book not much changed in his Scandinavian Races (N. Y., 1878).[637] Eugène Beauvois did little more than translate from Rafn in his Découvertes des Scandinaves en[97] Amérique,—fragments de Sagas Islandaises traduits pour la première fois en français (Paris, 1859)—an extract from the Revue Orientale et Américaine (vol. ii.).[638]

Professor Daniel Wilson, of Toronto, has discussed the subject at different times, and with these conclusions: “With all reasonable doubts as to the accuracy of details, there is the strongest probability in favor of the authenticity of the American Vinland.... The data are the mere vague allusions of a traveller’s tale, and it is indeed the most unsatisfactory feature of the sagas that the later the voyages the more confused and inconsistent their narratives become in every point of detail.”[639]

Dr. B. F. De Costa’s first book on the subject was his Pre-Columbian Discovery of America by the Northmen, illustrated by Translations from the Icelandic Sagas, edited with notes and a general introduction (Albany, 1868). It is a convenient gathering of the essential parts of the sagas; but the introduction rather opposes than disproves some of the “feeble paragraphs, pointed with a sneer,” which he charges upon leading opponents of the faith. Professor J. L. Diman, in the North American Review (July, 1869), made De Costa’s book the occasion of an essay setting forth the grounds of a disbelief in the historical value of the sagas. De Costa replied in Notes on a Review, etc. (Charlestown, 1869). In the same year, Dr. Kohl, following the identifications of Rafn, rehearsed the narratives in his Discovery of Maine (Portland, 1869), and tracked Karlsefne through the gulf of Maine. De Costa took issue with him on this latter point in his Northmen in Maine (Albany, 1870).[640] In the introduction to his Sailing Directions of Henry Hudson, De Costa argues that these mariners’ guides are the same used by the Northmen, and in his Columbus and the Geographers of the North (Hartford, 1872,—cf. Amer. Church Review, xxiv. 418) he recapitulates the sagas once more with reference to the knowledge which he supposes Columbus to have had of them. Paul Gaffarel, in his Etudes sur les rapports de l’Amérique et de l’ancien Continent avant Colomb (Paris, 1869), entered more particularly into the evidence of the commerce of Vinland and its relations to Europe.

Gabriel Gravier, another French author, was rather too credulous in his Découverte de l’Amérique par les normands au Xe Siècle (Paris, 1874), when he assumed with as much confidence as Rafn ever did everything that the most ardent advocate had sought to prove.[641]

There were two American writers soon to follow, hardly less intemperate. These were Aaron Goodrich, in A History of the Character and Achievements of the so-called Christopher Columbus (N. Y., 1874), who took the full complement of Rafn’s belief with no hesitancy; and Rasmus B. Anderson in his America not discovered by Columbus (Chicago, 1874; improved, 1877; again with Watson’s bibliography, 1883),[642] in which even the Skeleton in Armor is made to play a part. Excluding such vagaries, the book is not without use as displaying the excessive views entertained in some quarters on the subject. The author is, we believe, a Scandinavian, and shows the tendency of his race to a facility rather than felicity in accepting evidence on this subject.

The narratives were first detailed among our leading general histories when the Popular History of the United States of Bryant and Gay appeared in 1876. The claims were presented decidedly, and in the main in the directions indicated by Rafn; but the wildest pretensions of that antiquary were considerately dismissed.


During the last score years the subject has been often made prominent by travellers like Kneeland[643] and Hayes,[644] who have recapitulated the evidence; by lecturers like Charles Kingsley;[645] by monographists like Moosmüller;[646] by the minor historians like Higginson,[647] who has none of the fervor of the inspired identifiers of localities, and Weise,[648] who is inclined to believe the sea-rovers did not even pass Davis’s Straits; and by contributors to the successive sessions of the Congrès des Américanistes[649] and to other learned societies.[650]

The question was brought to a practical issue in Massachusetts by a proposition raised—at first in Wisconsin—by the well-known musician Ole Bull, to erect in Boston a statue to Leif Ericson.[651] The project, though ultimately carried out, was long delayed, and was discouraged by members of the Massachusetts Historical Society on the ground that no satisfactory evidence existed to show that any spot in New England had been reached by the Northmen.[652] The sense of the society was finally expressed in the report of their committee, Henry W. Haynes and Abner C. Goodell, Jr., in language which seems to be the result of the best historical criticism; for it is not a question of the fact of discovery, but to decide how far we can place reliance on the details of the sagas. There is likely to remain a difference of opinion on this point. The committee say: “There is the same sort of reason for believing in the existence of Leif Ericson that there is for believing in the existence of Agamemnon,—they are both traditions accepted by later writers; but there is no more reason for regarding as true the details related about his discoveries than there is for accepting as historic truth the narratives contained in the Homeric poems. It is antecedently probable that the Northmen discovered America in the early part of the eleventh century; and this discovery is confirmed by the same sort of historical tradition, not strong enough to be called evidence, upon which our belief in many of the accepted facts of history rests.”[653]

In running down the history of the literature of the subject, the present aim has been simply to pick out such contributions as have been in some way significant, and reference must be made to the bibliographies for a more perfect record.[654]

Irrespective of the natural probability of the Northmen visits to the American main, other evidence has been often adduced to support the sagas. This proof has been linguistic, ethnological, physical, geographical, and monumental.

Nothing could be slenderer than the alleged correspondences of languages, and we can see in Horsford’s Discovery of America by Northmen to what a fanciful extent a confident enthusiasm can carry it.[655]


The ethnological traces are only less shadowy. Hugo Grotius[656] contended that the people of Central America were of Scandinavian descent. Brasseur found remnants of Norse civilization in the same region.[657] Viollet le Duc[658] discovers great resemblances in the northern religious ceremonials to those described in the Popul Vuh. A general resemblance did not escape the notice of Humboldt. Gravier[659] is certain that the Aztec civilization is Norse.[660] Chas. Godfrey Leland claims that the old Norse spirit pervades the myths and legends of the Algonkins, and that it is impossible not to admit that there must have been at one time “extensive intercourse between the Northmen and the Algonkins;” and in proof he points out resemblances between the Eddas and the Algonkin mythology.[661] It is even stated that the Micmacs have a tradition of a people called Chenooks, who in ships visited their coast in the tenth century.

The physical and geographical evidences are held to exist in the correspondences of the coast line to the descriptions of the sagas, including the phenomena of the tides[662] and the length of the summer day.[663] Laing and others, who make no question of the main fact, readily recognize the too great generality and contradictions of the descriptions to be relied upon.[664]

George Bancroft, in showing his distrust, has said that the advocates of identification can no[100] farther agree than to place Vinland anywhere from Greenland to Africa.[665]

Note.—The above map is a fac-simile of one of C. C. Rafn’s maps. Cf. the maps in Smith, Beamish, Gravier, Slafter, Preble’s Amer. Flag, etc.

The earliest to go so far as to establish to a certainty[666] the sites of the sagas was Rafn, who placed them on the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, wherein nearly all those have followed him who have thought it worth while to be thus particular as to headland and bay.




In applying the saga names they have, however, by no means agreed, for Krossanes is with some Point Alderton, at the entrance of Boston Harbor, and with others the Gurnet Head; the island where honey dew was found is Nantucket with Rafn, and with De Costa an insular region, Nauset, now under water near the elbow of Cape Cod;[668] the Vinland of Rafn is in Narragansett Bay, that of Dr. A. C. Hamlin is at Merry Meeting Bay on the coast of Maine,[669] and that of Horsford is north of Cape Cod,[670]—not to mention other disagreements of other disputants.

We get something more tangible, if not more decisive, when we come to the monumental evidences. DeWitt Clinton and Samuel L. Mitchell found little difficulty at one time in making many people believe that the earthworks of Onondaga were Scandinavian. A pretended runic inscription on a stone said to have been found in the Grave Creek mound was sedulously ascribed to the Northmen.[671] What some have called a runic inscription exists on a rock near Yarmouth in Nova Scotia, which is interpreted “Hako’s son addressed the men,” and is supposed to commemorate the expedition of Thorfinn in a.d. 1007.[672] A rock on the little islet of Menana, close to Monhegan, on the coast of Maine, and usually referred to as the Monhegan Rock, bears certain weather marks, and there have been those to call them runes.[673] A similar claim is made for a rock in the Merrimac Valley.[674] Rafn describes such rocks as situated in Tiverton and Portsmouth Grove, R. I., but the markings were Indian, and when Dr. S. A. Green visited the region in 1868 some of them had disappeared.[675]



Note.—The opposite plate is reduced from one in the Antiq. Americanæ. They show the difficulty, even before later weathering, of different persons in discerning the same things on the rock, and in discriminating between fissures and incisions. Col. Garrick Mallery (4th Rept. Bureau of Ethnology, p. 250) asserts that the inscription has been “so manipulated that it is difficult now to determine the original details.” The drawings represented are enumerated in the text. Later ones are numerous. Rafn also gives that of Dr. Baylies and Mr. Gooding in 1790, and that made for the Rhode Island Hist. Society in 1830. The last has perhaps been more commonly copied than the others. Photographs of late years are common; but almost invariably the photographer has chalked what he deems to be the design,—in this they do not agree, of course,—in order to make his picture clearer. I think Schoolcraft in making his daguerreotype was the first to do this. The most careful drawing made of late years is that by Professor Seager of the Naval Academy, under the direction of Commodore Blake; and there is in the Cabinet of the American Antiquarian Society a MS. essay on the rock, written at Blake’s request by Chaplain Chas. R. Hale of the U. S. Navy. Haven disputes Blake’s statement that a change in the river’s bed more nearly submerges the rock at high tide than was formerly the case. Cf. Am. Antiq. Soc. Proc., Oct., 1864, p. 41, where a history of the rock is given; and in Wilson’s Prehistoric Man, ii. 93.


The most famous of all these alleged memorials[676] is the Dighton Rock, lying in the tide on the side of Taunton River, in the town of Berkeley, in Massachusetts.[677] Dr. De Costa thinks it possible that the central portion may be runic. This part is what has been interpreted to mean that Thorfinn with 151 men took possession of the country, and it is said to be this portion of the inscription which modern Indians discard when giving their interpretations.[678] That it is the work of the Indian of historic times seems now to be the opinion common to the best trained archæologists.[679]

Rafn was also the first to proclaim the stone[105] tower now standing at Newport, R. I., as a work of the Northmen; but the recent antiquaries without any exception worth considering, believe that the investigations have shown that it was erected by Governor Arnold of Rhode Island as a windmill, sometime between 1670 and 1680; and Palfrey in his New England is thought to have put this view beyond doubt in showing the close correspondence in design of the tower to a mill at Chesterton, in England.[680]

Certain hearthstones which were discovered over twenty-five years ago under a peat bed on Cape Cod were held at the time to be a Norse relic.[681] In 1831 there was exhumed in Fall River, Mass., a skeleton, which had with it what seemed to be an ornamental belt made of metal tubes, formed by rolling fragments of flat brass and an oblong plate of the same metal,—not of bronze, as is usually said,—with some arrow-heads, cut evidently from the same material. The other concomitants of the burial indicated an Indian of the days since the English contact. The skeleton attracted notice in this country by being connected with the Norsemen in Longfellow’s ballad, The Skeleton in Armor, and Dr. Webb sent such an account of it to the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries that it was looked upon as another and distinct proof of the identification of Vinland. Later antiquaries have dismissed all beliefs of that nature.[682]

There is not a single item of all the evidence thus advanced from time to time which can be said to connect by archæological traces the presence of the Northmen on the soil of North America south of Davis’ Straits. Arguments of this kind have been abandoned except by a few enthusiastic advocates.

That the Northmen voyaging to Vinland encountered natives, and that they were called Skraelings, may be taken as a sufficiently broad statement in the sagas to be classed with those concomitants of the voyages which it is reasonable to accept. Sir William Dawson (Fossil Men, 49) finds it easy to believe that these natives were our red Indians; and Gallatin saw no reason to dissociate the Eskimos with other American tribes.[683] That they were Eskimos seems to be the more commonly accepted view.[684]


That the climate of the Atlantic coast of the United States and the British provinces was such as was favorable to the present Arctic dwellers is held to be shown by such evidences as tusks of the walrus found in phosphate beds in South Carolina. Rude implements found in the interglacial Jersey drift have been held by C. C. Abbott to have been associated with a people of the Eskimo stock, and some have noted that palæolithic implements found in Pennsylvania closely resemble the work of the modern Eskimos (Amer. Antiquarian, i. 10).[685] Dall remarks upon implements of Innuit origin being found four hundred miles south of the present range of the Eskimos of the northwest coast (Contributions to Amer. Ethnology, i. p. 98). Charlevoix says that Eskimos were occasionally seen in Newfoundland in the beginning of the last century; and ethnologists recognize to-day the same stock in the Eskimos of Labrador and Greenland.


After a likeness given by Nordenskjöld in his Exped. till Grönland, p. 121.

The best authority on the Eskimos is generally held to be Hinrich Rink, and he contends that they formerly occupied the interior of the continent, and have been pressed north and across Behring’s Straits.[686] W. H. Dall holds similar[107] views.[687] C. R. Markham, who dates their first appearance in Greenland in 1349, contends, on the other hand, that they came from the west (Siberia) along the polar regions (Wrangell Land), and drove out the Norse settlers in Greenland.[688] The most active of the later students of the Eskimos is Dr. Franz Boas, now of New York, who has discussed their tribal boundaries.[689]

F. The Lost Greenland Colonies.—After intercourse with the colonies in Greenland ceased, and definite tradition in Iceland had died out, and when the question of the re-discovery should arise, it was natural that attention should first be turned to that coast of Greenland which lay opposite Iceland as the likelier sites of the lost colonies, and in this way we find all the settlements placed in the maps of the sixteenth century. The Archbishop Erik Walkendorf, of Lund, in the early part of that century had failed to persuade the Danish government to send an expedition. King Frederick II was induced, however, to send one in 1568; but it accomplished nothing; and again in 1579 he put another in command of an Englishman, Jacob Allday, but the ice prevented his landing. A Danish navigator was more successful in 1581; but the coast opposite Iceland yielded as yet no traces of the Norse settlers. Frobisher’s discovery of the west coast seems to have failed of recognition among the Danes; but they with the rest of Europe did not escape noting the importance of the explorations of John Davis in 1585-86, through the straits which bear his name. It now became the belief that the west settlement must be beyond Cape Farewell. In 1605, Christian IV of Denmark sent a new expedition under Godske Lindenow; but there was a Scotchman in command of one of the three ships, and Jacob Hall, who had probably served under Davis, went as the fleet pilot. He guided the vessels through Davis’s Straits. But it was rather the purpose of Lindenow to find a northwest passage than to discover a lost colony; and such was mainly the object which impelled him again in 1606, and inspired Karsten Rikardsen in 1607. Now and for some years to come we have the records of voyages made by the whalers to this region, and we read their narratives in Purchas and in such collections of voyages as those of Harris and Churchill.[690] They yield us, however, little or no help in the problem we are discussing. In 1670 and 1671 Christian V sent expeditions with the express purpose of discovering the lost colonies; but Otto Axelsen, who commanded, never returned from his second voyage, and we have no account of his first.

The mission of the priest Hans Egede gave the first real glimmer of light.[691] He was the[108] earliest to describe the ruins and relics observable on the west coast, but he continued to regard the east settlements as belonging to the east coast, and so placed them on the map. Anderson (Hamburg, 1746) went so far as to place on his map the cathedral of Gardar in a fixed location on the east coast, and his map was variously copied in the following years.

In 1786 an expedition left Copenhagen to explore the east coast for traces of the colonies, but the ice prevented the approach to the coast, and after attempts in that year and in 1787 the effort was abandoned. Heinrich Peter von Eggers, in his Om Grönlands österbygds sande Beliggenhed (1792), and Ueber die wahre Lage des alten Ostgrönlands (Kiel, 1794), a German translation, first advanced the opinion that the eastern colony as well as the western must have been on the west coast, and his views were generally accepted; but Wormskjöld in the Skandinavisk Litteraturselskab’s Skrifter, vol. x. (Copenhagen, 1814), still adhered to the earlier opinions, and Saabye still believed it possible to reach the east coast.


[Harvard College Library copy.]


Some years later (1828-31) W. A. Graah made, by order of the king of Denmark, a thorough examination of the east coast, and in his Undersögelses Reise til Ostkysten af Grönland (Copenhagen, 1832)[692] he was generally thought to establish the great improbability of any traces of a colony ever existing on that coast. Of late years Graah’s conclusions have been questioned, for there have been some sites of buildings discovered on the east side.[693] The Reverend J. Brodbeck, a missionary, described some in The Moravian Quarterly, July and Aug., 1882. Nordenskjöld has held that when the east coast is explored from 65° to 69°, there is a chance of discovering the site of an east colony.[694]

R. H. Major, in a paper (Journal Roy. Geog. Soc., 1873, p. 184) on the site of the lost colony, questioned Graah’s conclusions, and gave a sketch map, in which he placed its site near Cape Farewell; and he based his geographical data largely upon the chorography of Greenland and the sailing directions of Ivan Bardsen, who was probably an Icelander living in Greenland some time in the fifteenth century.[695]

G. Madoc and the Welsh.—Respecting the legends of Madoc, there are reports, which Humboldt (Cosmos, Bohn, ii. 610) failed to verify, of Welsh bards rehearsing the story before 1492,[696] and of statements in the early Welsh annals. The original printed source is in Humfrey Lloyd’s History of Cambria, now called Wales, written in the British language [by Caradoc] about 200 years past (London, 1584).[697] The book contained corrections and additions by David Powell, and it was in these that the passages of importance were found, and the supposition was that the land visited lay near the Gulf of Mexico. Richard Hakluyt, in his Principall Navigations, took the story from Powell, and connected the discovery with Mexico in his edition of 1589, and with the West Indies in that of 1600 (iii. p. 1),—and there was not an entire absence of the suspicion that it was worth while to establish some sort of a British claim to antedate the Spanish one established through Columbus.[698]

The linguistic evidences were not brought into prominence till after one Morgan Jones had fallen among the Tuscaroras[699] in 1660, and found, as he asserted, that they could understand[110] his Welsh. He wrote a statement of his experience in 1685-6, which was not printed till 1740.[700]

During the eighteenth century we find Campanius in his Nye Swerige (1702) repeating the story; Torfæus (Hist. Vinlandiæ, 1705) not rejecting it; Carte (England, 1747) thinking it probable; while Campbell (Admirals, 1742), Lyttleton (Henry the Second, 1767), and Robertson (America, 1777) thought there was no ground, at least, for connecting the story with America.

It was reported that in 1764 a man, Griffeth, was taken by the Shawnees to a tribe of Indians who spoke Welsh.[701] In 1768, Charles Beatty published his Journal of a two months’ Tour in America (London), in which he repeated information of Indians speaking Welsh in Pennsylvania and beyond the Mississippi, and of the finding of a Welsh Bible among them.

In 1772-73, David Jones wandered among the tribes west of the Ohio, and in 1774, at Burlington, published his Journal of two visits, in which he enumerates the correspondence of words which he found in their tongues with his native Welsh.[702]

Without noting other casual mentions, some of which will be found in Paul Barron Watson’s bibliography (in Anderson’s America not discovered by Columbus, p. 142), it is enough to say that towards the end of the century the papers of John Williams[703] and George Burder[704] gave more special examination to the subject than had been applied before.


After a cut in The Mirror of Literature, etc. (London, 1823), vol. i. p. 177, showing a vessel then recently exhumed in Kent, and supposed to be of the time of Edward I, or the thirteenth century. The vessel was sixty-four feet long.

The renewed interest in the matter seems to have prompted Southey to the writing of his[111] poem Madoc, though he refrained from publishing it for some years. If one may judge from his introductory note, Southey held to the historical basis of the narrative. Meanwhile, reports were published of this and the other tribes being found speaking Welsh.[705] In 1816, Henry Kerr printed at Elizabethtown, New Jersey, his Travels through the Western interior of the United States, 1808-16, with some account of a tribe whose customs are similar to those of the ancient Welsh. In 1824, Yates and Moulton (State of New York) went over the ground rather fully, but without conviction. Hugh Murray (Travels in North America, London, 1829) believes the Welsh went to Spain. In 1834, the different sides of the case were discussed by Farcy and Warden in Dupaix’s Antiquités Méxicaines. Some years later the publication of George Catlin[706] probably gave more conviction than had been before felt,[707] arising from his statements of positive linguistic correspondences in the language of the so-called White[708] Mandans[709] on the Missouri River, the similarity of their boats to the old Welsh coracles, and other parallelisms of custom. He believed that Madoc landed at Florida, or perhaps passed up the Mississippi River. His conclusions were a reinforcement of those reached by Williams.[710] The opinion reached by Major in his edition of Columbus’ Letters (London, 1847) that the Welsh discovery was quite possible, while it was by no means probable, is with little doubt the view most generally accepted to-day; while the most that can be made out of the claim is presented with the latest survey in B. F. Bowen’s America discovered by the Welsh in 1170 a.d. (Philad., 1876). He gathers up, as helping his proposition, such widely scattered evidences as the Lake Superior copper mines and the Newport tower, both of which he appropriates; and while following the discoverers from New England south and west, he does not hesitate to point out the resemblance of the Ohio Valley mounds[711] to those depicted in Pennant’s Tour of Wales; and he even is at no loss for proofs among the relics of the Aztecs.[712]

H. The Zeni and their Map.—Something has been said elsewhere (Vol. III. p. 100) of the influence of the Zeni narrative and its map, in confusing Frobisher in his voyages. The map was reproduced in the Ptolemy of 1561, with an account of the adventures of the brothers, but it was so far altered as to dissever Greenland from Norway, of which the Zeni map had made it but an extension.[713]

The story got further currency in Ramusio (1574, vol. ii.), Ortelius (1575), Hakluyt (1600, vol. iii.), Megiser’s Septentrio Novantiquus (1613), Purchas (1625), Pontanus’ Rerum Danicarum (1631), Luke Fox’s North-West Fox (1633), and in De Laet’s Notæ (1644), who, as well as Hornius, De Originibus Americanis (1644), thinks the story suspicious. It was repeated by Montanus in 1671, and by Capel, Vorstellungen des Norden, in 1676. Some of the features of the map had likewise become pretty constant in the attendant cartographical records. But from the close of the seventeenth century for about a hundred years, the story was for the most part ignored, and it was not till 1784 that the interest in it was revived by the publications of Forster[714][112] and Buache,[715] who each expressed their belief in the story.

A more important inquiry in behalf of the narrative took place at Venice in 1808, when Cardinal Zurla republished the map in an essay, and marked out the track of the Zeni on a modern chart.[716]

In 1810, Malte-Brun accorded his belief in the verity of the narrative, and was inclined to believe that the Latin books found in Estotiland were carried there by colonists from Greenland.[717] A reactionary view was taken by Biddle in his Sebastian Cabot, in 1831, who believed the publication of 1558 a fraud; but the most effective denial of its authenticity came a few years later in sundry essays by Zahrtmann.[718]


[After a photograph kindly furnished by himself at the editor’s request.—Ed.]

The story got a strong advocate, after nearly forty years of comparative rest, when R. H. Major, of the map department of the British Museum, gave it an English dress and annexed a commentary, all of which was published by the Hakluyt Society in 1873. In this critic’s view, the good parts of the map are of the fourteenth century, gathered on the spot, while the[113] false parts arose from the misapprehensions of the young Zeno, who put together the book of 1558.[719] The method of this later Zeno was in the same year (1873) held by Professor Konrad Maurer to be hardly removed from a fraudulent compilation of other existing material. There has been a marked display of learning, of late years, in some of the discussions.


[From a recent photograph. There is another engraved likeness in the second volume of his Vega.]

Cornelio Desimoni, the archivist of Genoa, has printed two elaborate papers.[720] The Danish archivist Frederik Krarup published (1878) a sceptical paper in the Geografisk Tidsskrift (ii.[114] 145).[721] The most exhaustive examination, however, has come from a practical navigator, the Baron A. E. Nordenskjöld, who in working up the results of his own Arctic explorations was easily led into the intricacies of the Zeno controversy. The results which he reaches are that the Zeni narratives are substantially true; that there was no published material in 1558 which could have furnished so nearly an accurate account of the actual condition of those northern waters; that the map which Zahrtmann saw in the University library at Copenhagen, and which he represented to be an original from which the young Zeno of 1558 made his pretended original, was in reality nothing but the Donis map in the Ptolemy of 1482, while the Zeno map is much more like the map of the north made by Claudius Clavis in 1427, which was discovered by Nordenskjöld in a codex of Ptolemy at Nancy.[722]

Since Nordenskjöld advanced his views there have been two other examinations: the one by Professor Japetus Steenstrup of Copenhagen,[723] and the other by the secretary of the Danish Geographical Society, Professor Ed. Erslef, who offered some new illustrations in his Nye Oplysninger om Broedrene Zenis Rejser (Copenhagen, 1885).[724]

Among those who accept the narratives there is no general agreement in identifying the principal geographical points of the Zeno map. The main dispute is upon Frislanda, the island where the Zeni were wrecked. That it was Iceland has been maintained by Admiral Irminger,[725] and Steenstrup (who finds, however, the text not to agree with the map), while the map accompanying the Studi biografici e bibliografici sulla storia della geografia in Italia (Rome, 1882) traces the route of the Zeni from Iceland to Greenland, under 70° of latitude.

On the other hand, Major has contended for the Faröe islands, arguing that while the engraved Zeno map shows a single large island, it might have been an archipelago in the original, with outlines run together by the obscurities of its dilapidation, and that the Faröes by their preserved names and by their position correspond best with the Frislanda of the Zeni.[726] Major’s views have been adopted by most later writers, perhaps, and a similar identification had earlier been made by Lelewel,[727] Kohl,[728] and others.

The identification of Estotiland involves the question if the returned fisherman of the narrative ever reached America. It is not uncommon for even believers in the story to deny that Estotiland and Drogeo were America. That they were parts of the New World was,[115] however, the apparent belief of Mercator and of many of the cartographers following the publication of 1558, and of such speculators as Hugo Grotius, but there was little common consent in their exact position.[729]

I. Alleged Jewish Migration.—The identification of the native Americans with the stock of the lost tribes of Israel very soon became a favorite theory with the early Spanish priests settled in America. Las Casas and Duran adopted it, while Torquemada and Acosta rejected it. André Thevet, of mendacious memory, did not help the theory by espousing it. It was approved in J. F. Lumnius’s De extremo Dei Judicio et Indorum vocatione, libri iii. (Venice and Antwerp, 1569);[730] and a century later the belief attracted new attention in the Origen de los Americanos de Manasseh Ben Israel, published at Amsterdam in 1650.[731] It was in the same year (1650) that the question received the first public discussion in English in Thomas Thorowgood’s Jewes in America, or, Probabilities that the Americans are of that Race. With the removall of some contrary reasonings, and earnest desires for effectuall endeavours to make them Christian (London, 1650).[732] Thorowgood was answered by Sir Hamon L’Estrange in Americans no Iewes, or Improbabilities that the Americans are of that race (London, 1652). The views of Thorowgood found sympathy with the Apostle Eliot of Massachusetts; and when Thorowgood replied to L’Estrange he joined with it an essay by Eliot, and the joint work was entitled Iewes in America, or probabilities that those Indians are Judaical, made more probable by some additionals to the former conjectures: an accurate discourse is premised of Mr. John Eliot (who preached the gospel to the natives in their own language) touching their origination, and his Vindication of the planters (London, 1660). What seems to have been a sort of supplement, covering, however, in part, the same ground, appeared as Vindiciæ Judæcorum, or a true account of the Jews, being more accurately illustrated than heretofore, which includes what is called “The learned conjectures of Rev. Mr. John Eliot” (32 pp.). Some of the leading New England divines, like Mayhew and Mather,[733] espoused the cause with similar faith. Roger Williams also was of the same opinion. William Penn is said to have held like views. The belief may be said to have been general, and had not died out in New England when Samuel Sewall, in 1697, published his Phænomena quædam Apocalyptica ad aspectum Novi Orbis Configurata.[734]


After the middle of the last century we begin to find new signs of the belief. Charles Beatty, in his Journal of a two months’ tour with a view of promoting religion among the frontier inhabitants of Pennsylvania (Lond., 1768), finds traces of the lost tribes among the Delawares, and repeats a story of the Indians long ago selling the same sacred book to the whites with which the missionaries in the end aimed to make them acquainted. Gerard de Brahm and Richard Peters, both familiar with the Southern Indians, found grounds for accepting the belief. The most elaborate statement drawn from this region is that of James Adair, who for forty years had been a trader among the Southern Indians.[735] Jonathan Edwards in 1788 pointed out in the Hebrew some analogies to the native speech.[736] Charles Crawford in 1799 undertook the proof.[737] In 1816 Elias Boudinot, a man eminent in his day, contributed further arguments.[738] Ethan Smith based his advocacy largely on the linguistic elements.[739] A few years later an Englishman, Israel Worsley, worked over the material gathered by Boudinot and Smith, and added something.[740] A prominent American Jew, M. M. Noah, published in 1837 an address on the subject which hardly added to the weight of testimony.[741] J. B. Finlay, a mulatto missionary among the Wyandots, was satisfied with the Hebrew traces which he observed in that tribe.[742] Geo. Catlin, working also among the Western Indians, while he could not go to the length of believing in the lost tribes, was struck with the many analogies which he saw.[743] The most elaborate of all expositions of the belief was made by Lord Kingsborough in his Mexican Antiquities (1830-48).[744] Since this book there has been no pressing of the question with any claims to consideration.[745]

J. Possible Early African Migrations.—These may have been by adventure or by helpless drifting, with or without the Canaries as a halting-place. The primitive people of the Canaries, the Guanches, are studied in Sabin Berthelot’s Antiquités Canariennes (Paris, 1879) and A. F. de Fontpertuis’ L’archipel des Canaries, et ses populations primitives, also in the Revue de Géographie, June, 1882, not to mention earlier histories of the Canary Islands (see Vol. II.[117] p. 36). Retzius of Stockholm traces resemblances in the skulls of the Guanches and the Caribs (Smithsonian Rept., 1859, p. 266). Le Plongeon finds the sandals of the statue Chac-mool, discovered by him in Yucatan, to resemble those of the Guanches (Salisbury’s Le Plongeon in Yucatan, 57).

The African and even Egyptian origin of the Caribs has had some special advocates.[746] Peter Martyr, and Grotius following him, contended for the people of Yucatan being Ethiopian Christians. Stories of blackamoors being found by the early Spaniards are not without corroboration.[747] The correspondence of the African and South American flora has been brought into requisition as confirmatory.[748]


The oldest map yet discovered to show any part of Greenland, and consequently of America,[749] is one found by Baron Nordenskjöld attached to a Ptolemy Codex in the Stadtbibliothek at Nancy. He presented a colored fac-simile of it in 1883 at the Copenhagen Congrès des Américanistes, in his little brochure Trois Cartes. It was also used in illustration of his paper on the Zeni Voyages, published both in Swedish and German. It will be seen by the fac-simile given herewith, and marked with the author’s name, Claudius Clavus, that “Gronlandia Provincia” is an extension of a great arctic region, so as to lie over against the Scandinavian peninsula of Europe, with “Islandia,” or Iceland, midway between the two lands. Up to the time of this discovery by Nordenskjöld, the map generally recognized as the oldest to show Greenland is a Genovese portolano, preserved in the Pitti Palace at Florence, about which there is some doubt as to its date, which is said to be 1417 by Santarem (Hist. de la Cartog., iii., p. xix), but Lelewel (Epilogue, p. 167) is held to be trustier in giving it as 1447.[750] It shows how little influence the Norse stories of their Greenland colonization exerted at this time on the cartography of the north, that few of the map-makers deemed it worth while to break the usual terminal circle of the world by including anything west or beyond Iceland. It was, further, not easy to convince them that Greenland, when they gave it, lay in the direction which the Sagas indicated. The map of Fra Mauro, for instance, in 1459 cuts off a part of Iceland by its incorrigible terminal circle, as will be seen in a bit of it given herewith, the reader remembering as he looks at it that the bottom of the segment is to the north.[751] We again owe to Nordenskjöld the discovery of another map of the north, Tabula Regionum Septentrionalium, which he found in a Codex of Ptolemy in Warsaw a few years since, and which he places about 1467. The accompanying partial sketch is reproduced from a fac-simile kindly furnished by the discoverer. The peninsula of “Gronlandia,” with its indicated glaciers, is placed with tolerable accuracy as the western extremity of an arctic region, which to the north of Europe is separated from the Scandinavian peninsula by a channel from the “Mare Gotticum” (Baltic Sea), which sweeps above Norway into the “Mare Congelatum.” The confused notions arising from an attempt by the compiler of the map to harmonize different drafts is shown by his drawing a second Greenland (“Engronelant”) to his “Norbegia,” or Norway, and placing just[118] under it the “Thile”[752] of the ancients, which he makes a different island from “Islandia,” placed in proper relations to his larger Greenland.


A few years later, or perhaps about the same time, and before 1471, the earliest engraved map which shows Greenland is that of Nicolas Donis, in the Ulm edition of Ptolemy in 1482. It will be seen from the little sketch which is annexed that the same doubling of Greenland is adhered to.[753] With the usual perversion put[119] upon the Norse stories, Iceland is made to lie due west of Greenland, though not shown in the present sketch.

At a date not much later, say 1486, it is supposed the Laon globe, dated in 1493, was actually made, or at least it is shown that in some parts the knowledge was rather of the earlier date, and here we have “Grolandia,” a small island off the Norway coast.[754]


We have in 1489-90 a type of configuration, which later became prevalent. It is taken from an Insularium illustratum Henrici Martelli Germani, a manuscript preserved in the British Museum, and shows, as seen by the annexed extract, a long narrow peninsula, running southwest from the northern verge of Europe. A sketch of the whole map is given elsewhere.[755]


This seems to have been the prevailing notion of what and where Greenland was at the time of Columbus’ voyage, and it could have carried no significance to his mind that the explorations of the Norse had found the Asiatic main, which he started to discover. How far this notion was departed from by Behaim in his globe of 1492 depends upon the interpretation to be given to a group of islands, northwest of Iceland and northeast of Asia, upon the larger of which he writes among its mountains, “Hi man weise Volker.”[756]

As this sketch of the cartographical development goes on, it will be seen how slow the map-makers were to perceive the real significance of the Norse discoveries, and how reluctant they were to connect them with the discoveries that followed in the train of Columbus, though occasionally there is one who is possessed with a sort of prevision. The Cantino map of 1502[757] does not settle the question, for a point lying northeast of the Portuguese discoveries in the Newfoundland region only seems to be the southern extremity of Greenland. What was apparently a working Portuguese chart of 1503 grasps pretty clearly the relations of Greenland to Labrador.[758]

FRA MAURO, 1459.

Lelewel (pl. 43), in a map made to show the Portuguese views at this time,[759] which he represents by combining and reconciling the Ptolemy maps of 1511 and 1513, still places the “Gronland” peninsula in the northwest of Europe, and if his deductions are correct, the Portuguese had as yet reached no clear conception that the Labrador coasts upon which they fished bore any close propinquity to those which the Norse had colonized. Ruysch, in 1508, made a bold stroke by putting “Gruenlant” down as a peninsula of Northeastern Asia, thus trying to reconcile the discoveries of Columbus with the northern sagas.[760] This view was far from acceptable. Sylvanus, in the Ptolemy of 1511, made “Engroneland” a small protuberance on the north shore of Scandinavia, and east of Iceland, evidently choosing between the two theories instead of accepting both, as was common, in ignorance of their complemental relations.[761] Waldseemüller, in the Ptolemy of 1513, in his “Orbis typus universalis,” reverted to and adopted the delineation of Henricus Martellus in 1490.[762]




DONIS, 1482.

In 1520, Apian, in the map in Camer’s Solinus, took the view of Sylvanus, while still another representation was given by Laurentius Frisius in 1522, in an edition of Ptolemy,[763] in which “Gronland” becomes a large island on the Norway coast, in one map called “Orbis typus Universalis,” while in another map, “Tabula nova Norbegiæ et Gottiæ,” the “Engronelant” peninsula is a broad region, stretching from Northwestern Europe.[764]


This Ptolemy was again issued in 1525, repeating these two methods of showing Greenland already given, and adding a third,[765] that of the long narrow European peninsula, already familiar in earlier maps—the variety of choice indicating the prevalent cartographical indecision on the point.



Note.—This fac-simile accompanies a paper appearing in the Videnskabsselskabs Forhandinger (1886, no. 15) and separately as Die ächte karte des Olaus Magnus vom jahre 1539, nach dem exemplar der Münchener Staatsbibliothek (Christiania, 1886). In this Dr. Brenner traces the history of the great map of Archbishop Olaus Magnus, pointing out how Nordenskjöld is in error in supposing the map of 1567, which that scholar gives, was but a reproduction of the original edition of 1539, which was not known to modern students till Brenner found it in the library at Munich, in March, 1886, and which proves to be twelve times larger than that of 1567. Brenner adds the long Latin address, “Olaus Gothus benigno lectori salutem,” with annotations. The map is entitled “Carta Marina et descriptio septentrionalium errarum ac mirabilium rerum in eis contentarum diligentissime elaborata, Anno Dni, 1539.” Brenner institutes a close comparison between it and the Zeno chart.

Kohl, in his collection of maps,[766] copies from what he calls the Atlas of Frisius, 1525, still another map which apparently shows the southern extremity of Greenland, with “Terra Laboratoris,” an island just west of it, and southwest of that a bit of coast marked “Terra Nova Conterati,” which may pass for Newfoundland and the discoveries of Cortereal.



This map, here reproduced on a somewhat smaller scale, is called: Regnorum Aquilonarum descriptio, hujus Operis subiectum.


Thorne, the Englishman, in the map which he sent from Seville in 1527,[767] seems to conform to the view which made Greenland a European peninsula, which may also have been the opinion of Orontius Finæus in 1531.[768] A novel feature attaches to an Atlas, of about this date, preserved at Turin, in which an elongated Greenland is made to stretch northerly.[769] In 1532 we have the map in Ziegler’s Schondia, which more nearly resembles the earliest map of all, that of Claudius Clavus, than any other.[770] The 1538 cordiform map of Mercator makes it a peninsula of an arctic region connected with Scandinavia.[771] This map is known to me only through a fac-simile of the copy given in the Geografia of Lafreri, published at Rome about 1560, with which I am favored by Nordenskjöld in advance of its publication in his Atlas.


The great Historia of Olaus Magnus, as for a long time the leading authority on the northern geography, as well as on the Scandinavian chronicles, gives us some distinct rendering of this northern geographical problem. It was only recently that his earliest map of 1539 has been brought to light, and a section of it is here reproduced from a much reduced fac-simile kindly sent to the editor by Dr. Oscar Brenner of the university at Munich. Nordenskjöld, in giving a full fac-simile of the Olaus Magnus map of 1567,[772] of which a[126] fragment is herewith also given in fac-simile, says that it embodies the views of the northern geographers in separating Greenland from Europe, which was in opposition to those of the geographers of the south of Europe, who united Greenland to Scandinavia. Sebastian Münster in his 1540 edition of Ptolemy introduced a new confusion. He preserved the European elongated peninsula, but called it “Islandia,” while to what stands for Iceland is given the old classical name of Thyle.[773] This confusion is repeated in his map of 1545,[774] where he makes the coast of “Islandia” continuous with Baccalaos. This continuity of coast line seemed now to become a common heritage of some of the map-makers,[775] though in the Ulpius globe of 1542 “Groestlandia,” so far as it is shown, stands separate from either continent,[776] but is connected with Europe according to the early theory in the Isolario of Bordone in 1547.


Reproduced from the fac-simile given in Nordenskjöld’s Studien (Leipzig, 1885).

We have run down the main feature of the northern cartography, up to the time of the publication of the Zeno map in 1558. The chief argument for its authenticity is that there had been nothing drawn and published up to that time which could have conduced, without other aid, to so accurate an outline of Greenland as it gives. In an age when drafts of maps freely circulated over Europe, from cartographer to cartographer, in[127] manuscript, it does not seem necessary that the search for prototypes or prototypic features should be confined to those which had been engraved.

ZENO MAP. (Reduced.)

The original measures 12 × 15½ inches. Fac-similes of the original size or reduced, or other reproductions, will be found in Nordenskjöld’s Trois Cartes, and in his Studien; Malte Brun’s Annales des Voyages; Lelewel’s Moyen Age (ii. 169); Carter-Brown Catalogue (i. 211); Kohl’s Discovery of Maine, 97; Ruge’s Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen, p. 27; Bancroft’s Central America, i. 81; Gay’s Pop. Hist. U. S., i. 84; Howley’s Ecclesiast. Hist. Newfoundland, p. 45; Erizzo’s Le Scoperte Artiche (Venice, 1855),—not to name others.

With these allowances the map does not seem to be very exceptional in any feature. It is connected with northwestern Europe in just the manner appertaining to several of the earlier maps. Its shape is no great improvement on the map of 1467, found at Warsaw. There was then no such constancy in the placing of mid-sea islands in maps, to interdict the random location of other islands at the cartographer’s will, without disturbing what at that day would have been deemed geographical probabilities, and there was all the necessary warranty in existing maps for the most wilfully depicted archipelago. The early Portuguese charts, not to name others, gave sufficient warrant for land where Estotiland and Drogeo appear.




Mention has already been made of the changes in this map, which the editors of the Ptolemy of 1561 made in severing Greenland from Europe, when they reëngraved it.[777] The same edition contained a map of “Schonlandia,” in which it seems to be doubtful if the land which stands for Greenland does, or does not, connect with the Scandinavian main.[778] That Greenland was an island seems now to have become the prevalent opinion, and it was enforced by the maps of Mercator (1569 and 1587), Ortelius (1570, 1575), and Gallæus (1585), which placed it lying mainly east and west between the Scandinavian north and the Labrador coast, which it was now the fashion to call Estotiland. In its shape it closely resembled the Zeni outline. Another feature of these maps was the placing of another but smaller island west of “Groenlant,” which was called “Grocland,” and which seems to be simply a reduplication of the larger island by some geographical confusion,[779] which once started was easily seized upon to help fill out the arctic spaces.[780]


From Theatri orbis Terrarum Enchiridion, per Phillipum Gallæum, et per Hugonem Favolium (Antwerp, 1585).

It was just at this time (1570) that the oldest maps which display the geographical notions of the saga men were drawn, though not brought to light for many years. We note two such of this time, and one of a date near forty years later. One marked “Jonas, Gudmundi filius, delineavit, 1570,” is given as are the two others by Torfæus in his Gronlandia Antiqua. They all seem to recognize a passage to the Arctic seas between Norway and Greenland, the northern parts of which last are called “Risaland,” or “Riseland,” and Jonas places “Oster Bygd” and “Wester Bygd” on the opposite sides of a squarish peninsula. Beyond what must be Davis’ Straits is “America,” and further south “Terra Florida” and “Albania.”

If this description is compared with the key of Stephanius’ map, next to be mentioned, while we remember[130] that both represent the views prevailing in the north in 1570, it is hard to resist the conclusion that Vinland was north even of Davis’ Straits, or at least held to be so at that time.

The second map, that of Stephanius, is reproduced herewith, dating back to the same period (1570); but the third, by Gudbrandus Torlacius, was made in 1606, and is sketched in Kohl’s Discovery of Maine (p. 109). It gives better shape to “Gronlandia” than in either of the others.


Reproduced from the Saga Time of J. Fulford Vicary (London, 1887), after the map as given in the publication of the geographical society at Copenhagen, 1885-86, and it is supposed to have been drafted upon the narrative of the sagas. Key:

A. This is where the English have come and has a name for barrenness, either from sun or cold.

B. This is near where Vineland lies, which from its abundance of useful things, or from the land’s fruitfulness, is called Good. Our countrymen (Icelanders) have thought that to the south it ends with the wild sea and that a sound or fjord separates it from America.

C. This land is called Rüseland or land of the giants, as they have horns and are called Skrickfinna (Fins that frighten).

D. This is more to the east, and the people are called Klofinna (Fins with claws) on account of their large nails.

E. This is Jotunheimer, or the home of the misshapen giants.

F. Here is thought to be a fjord, or sound, leading to Russia.

G. A rocky land often referred to in histories.

H. What island that is I do not know, unless it be the island that a Venetian found, and the Germans call Friesland.”

It will be observed under the B of the Key, the Norse of 1570 did not identify the Vinland of 1000 with the America of later discoveries.

This map is much the same, but differs somewhat in detail, from the one called of Stephanius, as produced in Kohl’s Discovery of Maine, p. 107, professedly after a copy given in Torfæus’ Gronlandia Antiqua (1706). Torfæus quotes Theodorus Torlacius, the Icelandic historian, as saying that Stephanius appears to have drawn his map from ancient Icelandic records. The other maps given by Torfæus are: by Bishop Gudbrand Thorlakssen (1606); by Jonas Gudmund (1640); by Theodor Thorlakssen (1666), and by Torfæus himself. Cf. other copies of the map of Stephanius in Malte-Brun’s Annales des Voyages, Weise’s Discoveries of America, p. 22; Geog. Tidskrift, viii. 123, and in Horsford’s Disc. of America by Northmen, p. 37.

It is not necessary to follow the course of the Greenland cartography farther with any minuteness. As the sixteenth century ended we have leading maps by Hakluyt in 1587 and 1599 (see Vol. III. 42), and De Bry in 1596 (Vol. IV. 99), and Wytfliet in 1597, all of which give Davis’s Straits with more or less precision. Barentz’s map of 1598 became the exemplar of the circumpolar chart in Pontanus’ Rerum et Urbis Amstelodamensium Historia of 1611.[781] The chart of Luke Fox, in 1635, marked progress[782] better than that of La Peyrère (1647), though his map was better known.[783] Even as late as 1727, Hermann Moll could not identify his “Greenland” with “Groenland.” In 1741, we have the map of Hans Egede in his “Grönland,” repeated in late editions, and the old delineation of the east coast after Torfæus was still retained in the 1788 map of Paul Egede.

Note.—The annexed map is a reduced fac-simile of the map in the Efterretninger om Grönland uddragne af en Journal holden fra 1771 til 1788, by Paul Egede (Copenhagen, 1789). Paul Egede, son of Hans, was born in 1708, and remained in Greenland till 1740. He was made Bishop of Greenland in 1770, and died in 1789. The above book gives a portrait. There is another fac-simile of the map in Nordenskjöld’s Exped. till Grönland, p. 234.



In the map of 1653, made by De la Martinière, who was of the Danish expedition to the north, Greenland was made to connect with Northern Asia by way of the North pole.[784] Nordenskjöld calls him the Münchhausen of the northeast voyagers; and by his own passage in the “Vega,” along the northern verge of Europe, from one ocean to the other, the Swedish navigator has of recent years proved for the first time that Greenland has no such connection. It yet remains to be proved that there is no connection to the north with at least the group of islands that are the arctic outlyers of the American continent.


Extracted from the “Carte de Grœnland” in Isaac de la Peyrère’s Relation du Groenland (Paris, 1647). Cf. Winsor’s Kohl Maps, no. 122.





THE traditions of the migrations of the Chichimecs, Colhuas, and Nahuas,” says Max Müller,[785] “are no better than the Greek traditions about Pelasgians, Æolians, and Ionians, and it would be a mere waste of time to construct out of such elements a systematic history, only to be destroyed again, sooner or later, by some Niebuhr, Grote, or Lewis.”

“It is yet too early,” says Bandelier,[786] “to establish a definite chronology, running farther back from the Conquest than two centuries,[787] and even within that period but very few dates have been satisfactorily fixed.”

Such are the conditions of the story which it is the purpose of this chapter to tell.

We have, to begin with, as in other history, the recognition of a race of giants, convenient to hang legends on, and accounted on all hands to have been occupants of the country in the dimmest past, so that there is nothing back of them. Who they were, whence they came, and what stands for their descendants after we get down to what in this pre-Spanish history we rather presumptuously call historic ground, is far from clear. If we had the easy faith of the native historian Ixtlilxochitl, we should believe that these gigantic Quinames, or Quinametin, were for the most part swallowed up in a great convulsion of nature, and it was those who escaped which the Olmecs and Tlascalans encountered in entering the country.[788] If all this means anything, which may well be doubted, it is as likely as not that these giants were the followers of a demi-god, Votan,[789] who came from over-sea to[134] America,[790] found it peopled, established a government in Xibalba,—if such a place ever existed,—with the germs of Maya if not of other civilizations, whence, by migrations during succeeding times, the Votanites spread north and occupied the Mexican plateau, where they became degenerate, doubtless, if they deserved the extinction which we are told was in store for them. But they had an alleged chronicler for their early days, the writer of the Book of Votan, written either by the hero himself or by one of his descendants,—eight or nine generations in the range of authorship making little difference apparently. That this narrative was known to Francisco Nuñez de la Vega[791] would seem to imply that somebody at that time had turned it into readable script out of the unreadable hieroglyphics, while the disguises of the Spanish tongue, perhaps, as Bancroft[792] suggests, may have saved it from the iconoclastic zeal of the priests. When, later, Ramon de Ordoñez had the document,—perhaps the identical manuscript,—it consisted of a few folios of quarto paper, and was written in Roman script in the Tzendal tongue, and was inspected by Cabrera, who tells us something of its purport in his Teatro critico Americano, while Ramon himself was at the same time using it in his Historia del Cielo y de la Tierra. It was from a later copy of this last essay, the first copy being unknown, that the Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg got his knowledge of what Ramon had derived from the Votan narrative, and which Brasseur has given us in several of his books.[793] That there was a primitive empire—Votanic, if you please—seems to some minds confirmed by other evidences than the story of Votan; and out of this empire—to adopt a European nomenclature—have come, as such believers say, after its downfall somewhere near the Christian era, and by divergence, the great stocks of people called Maya, Quiché, and Nahua, inhabiting later, and respectively, Yucatan, Guatemala, and Mexico. This is the view, if we accept the theory which Bancroft has prominently advocated, that the migrations of the Nahuas were from the south northward,[794] and that this was the period of the divergence, eighteen centuries ago or more, of the great civilizing stocks of Mexico and of Central America.[795] We fail to find so early a contact of these two races, if, on the other hand, we accept the old theory that the migrations which established[135] the Toltec and Aztec powers were from the north southward,[796] through three several lines, as is sometimes held, one on each side of the Rocky Mountains, with a third following the coast. In this way such advocates trace the course of the Olmecs, who encountered the giants, and later of the Toltecs.

That the Votanic peoples or some other ancient tribes were then a distinct source of civilization, and that Palenqué may even be Xibalba, or the Nachan, which Votan founded, is a belief that some archæologists find the evidence of in certain radical differences in the Maya tongues and in the Maya ruins.[797]

In the Quiché traditions, as preserved in the Popul Vuh, and in the Annals of the Cakchiquels, we likewise go back into mistiness and into the inevitable myths which give the modern comparative mythologists so much comfort and enlightenment; but Bancroft[798] and the rest get from all this nebulousness, as was gotten from the Maya traditions, that there was a great power at Xibalba,[799]—if in Central America anywhere that place may have been,—which was overcome[800] when from Tulan[801] went out migrating chiefs, who founded the Quiché-Cakchiquel peoples of Guatemala, while others, the Yaqui,—very likely only traders,—went to Mexico, and still others went to Yucatan, thus accounting for the subsequent great centres of aboriginal power—if we accept this view.

As respects the traditions of the more northern races, there is the same choice of belief and alternative demonstration. The Olmecs, the earliest Nahua corners, are sometimes spoken of as sailing from Florida and landing on the coast at what is now Pánuco, whence they travelled to Guatemala,[802] and finally settled in Tamoanchan, and offered their sacrifices farther north at Teotihuacan.[803] This is very likely the Votan legend suited to the more northern region, and if so, it serves to show, unless we discard the whole theory, how the Votanic people had scattered. The other principal source of our suppositions—for we can hardly call it knowledge—of these times is the Codex Chimalpòpoca, of which there is elsewhere an account,[804][136] and from it we can derive much the same impressions, if we are disposed to sustain a preconceived notion.

The periods and succession of the races whose annals make up the history of what we now call Mexico, prior to the coming of the Spaniards, are confused and debatable. Whether under the name of Chichimecs we are to understand a distinct people, or a varied and conglomerate mass of people, which, in a generic way, we might call barbarians, is a question open to discussion.[805] There is no lack of names[806] to be applied to the tribes and bands which, according to all accounts, occupied the Mexican territory previous to the sixth century. Some of them were very likely Nahua forerunners[807] of the subsequent great influx of that race, like the Olmecs and Xicalancas, and may have been the people, “from the direction of Florida,” of whom mention has been made. Others, as some say, were eddies of those populous waves which, coming by the north from Asia, overflowed the Rocky Mountains, and became the builders of mounds and the later peoples of the Mississippi Valley,[808] passed down the trend of the Rocky Mountains, and built cliff-houses and pueblos, or streamed into the table-land of Mexico. This is all conjecture, perhaps delusion, but may be as good a supposition as any, if we agree to the northern theory, as Nadaillac[809] does, but not so tenable, if, with the contrary Bancroft,[810] we hold rather that they came from the south. We can turn from one to the other of these theorists and agree with both, as they cite their evidences. On the whole, a double compliance is better than dogmatism. It is one thing to lose one’s way in this labyrinth of belief, and another to lose one’s head.


It was the Olmecs who found the Quinames, or giants, near Puebla and Cholula, and in the end overcame them. The Olmecs built, according to one story, the great pyramid of Cholula,[811] and it was they who received the great Quetzalcoatl from across the sea, a white-bearded man, as the legends went, who was benign enough, in the stories told of him, to make the later Spaniards think, when they heard them, that he was no other than the Christian St. Thomas on his missions. When the Spaniards finally induced the inheritors of the Olmecs’ power to worship Quetzalcoatl as a beneficent god, his temple soon topped the mound at Cholula.[812] We have seen that the great Nahua occupation of the Mexican plateau, at a period somewhere from the fourth to the seventh century,[813] was preceded by some scattered tribal organizations of the same stock, which had at an early date mingled with the primitive peoples of this region. We have seen that there is a diversity of opinion as to the country from which they came, whether from the north or south. A consideration of this question involves the whole question of the migration of races in these pre-Columbian days, since it is the coming and going of peoples that form the basis of all its history.

In the study of these migrations, we find no more unanimity of interpretation than in other questions of these early times.[814] The Nahua peoples (Toltecs, Aztecs, Mexicans, or what you will), according to the prevalent views of the early Spanish writers, came by successive influxes from the north or northwest, and from a remote place called Tollan, Tula, Tlapallan, Huehue-Tlapallan, as respects the Toltec group,[815] and called Aztlan as[138] respects the Aztec or Mexican. When, by settlement after settlement, each migratory people pushed farther south, they finally reached Central Mexico. This sequence of immigration seems to be agreed upon, but as to where their cradle was and as to what direction their line of progress took, there is a diversity of opinion as widely separated as the north is from the south. The northern position and the southern direction is all but universally accepted among the early Spanish writers[816] and their followers,[817] while it is claimed by others that the traditions as preserved point to the south as the starting-point. Cabrera took this view. Brasseur sought to reconcile conflicting tradition and Spanish statement by carrying the line of migration from the south with a northerly sweep, so that in the end Anahuac would be entered from the north, with which theory Bancroft[818] is inclined to agree. Aztlan, as well as Huehue-Tlapallan, by those who support the northern theory, has been placed anywhere from the California peninsula[819] within a radius that sweeps through Wisconsin and strikes the Atlantic at Florida.[820]


The advocates of the southern starting-point of these migrations have been comparatively few and of recent prominence; chief among them are Squier and Bancroft.[821]

With the appearance of a people, which, for want of a better designation, are usually termed Toltecs, on the Mexican table-land in the sixth century or thereabouts,[822] we begin the early history of Mexico, so far as we can make any deductions from the semi-mythical records and traditions which the Spaniards or the later aborigines have preserved for us. This story of the Nahua occupation of Anáhuac is one of strife and shifting vassalage, with rivalries and uprisings of neighboring and kindred tribes, going on for centuries. While the more advanced portion of the Nahuas in Anáhuac were making progress in the arts, that division of the same stock which was living beyond such influence, and without the bounds of Anáhuac, were looked upon rather as barbarians than as brothers, and acquired the name which had become a general one for such rougher natures, Chichimec. It is this Chichimec people under some name or other who are always starting up and overturning something. At one time they unite with the Colhuas and found Colhuacan, and nearly subjugate the lake region. Then the Toltec tarriers at Huehue-Tlapallan come boldly to the neighborhood of the Chichimecs and found Tollan; and thus they turn a wandering community into what, for want of a better name, is called a monarchy. They strengthened its government by an alliance with the Chichimecs,[823] and placed their seat of power at Colhuacan.


Then we read of a power springing up at Tezcuco, and of various other events, which happened or did not happen, according as you believe this or the other chronicle. The run of many of the stories of course produces the inevitable and beautiful daughter, and the bold princess, who control many an event. Then there is a league of Colhuacan, Otompan, and Tollan. Suddenly appears the great king Quetzalcoatl,—though it may be we confound him with the divinity of that name; and with him, to perplex matters, comes his sworn enemy Huemac. Quetzalcoatl’s devoted labors to make his people give up human sacrifice arrayed the priesthood against him, until at last he fell before the intrigues that made Huemac succeed in Tollan, and that drove his luckless rival to Cholula, where he reigned anew. Huemac followed him and drove him farther; but in doing so he gave his enemies in Tollan a chance to put another on the throne.

Then came a season of peace and development, when Tollan grew splendid. Colhuacan flourished in political power, and Teotihuacan[824] and Cholula were the religious shrines of the people. But at last the end was near.

The closing century of the Toltec power was a frightful one for broil, pestilence, and famine among the people, amours and revenge in the great chieftain’s household, revolt among the vassals; with sorcery rampant and the gods angry; with volcanoes belching, summers like a furnace, and winters like the pole; with the dreaded omen of a rabbit, horned like a deer, confronting the ruler, while rebel forces threatened the capital. There was also civil strife within the gates, phallic worship and debauchery,—all preceding an inundation of Chichimecan hordes. Thus the power that had flourished for several hundred years fell,—seemingly in the latter half of the eleventh century.[825] The remnant that was left of the desolated people went hither and thither, till the fragments were absorbed in the conquerors, or migrated to distant regions south.[826]

Whether the term Toltec signified a nation, or only denoted a dynasty, is a question for the archæologists to determine. The general opinion heretofore has been that they were a distinct race, of the Nahua stock, however, and that they came from the north. The story which has been thus far told of their history is the narrative of Ixtlilxochitl, and is repeated by Veytia, Clavigero, Prescott, Brasseur de Bourbourg, Orozco y Berra,[141] Nadaillac, and the later compilers. Sahagún seems to have been the first to make a distinct use of the name Toltec, and Charency in his paper on Xibalba finds evidence that the Toltecs constituted two different migrations, the one of a race that was straight-headed, which came from the northwest, and the other of a flat-headed people, which came from Florida.

Brinton, on the contrary, finds no warrant either for this dual migration, or indeed for considering the Toltecs to be other than a section of the same race, that we know later as Aztecs or Mexicans. This sweeping denial of their ethnical independence had been forestalled by Gallatin;[827] but no one before Brinton had made it a distinct issue, though some writers before and since have verged on his views.[828] Others, like Charnay, have answered Brinton’s arguments, and defended the older views.[829] Bandelier’s views connect them with the Maya rather than with the Nahua stock,[830] if, as he thinks may be the case, they were the people who landed at Pánuco and settled at Tamoanchan, the Votanites, as they are sometimes called. He traces back to Herrera and Torquemada the identification for the first time of the Toltecs with these people.[831] Bandelier’s conclusions, however, are that “all we can gather about them with safety is, that they were a sedentary Indian stock, which at some remote period settled in Central Mexico,” and that “nothing certain is known of their language.”[832]


The desolation of Anáhuac as the Toltecs fell invited a foreign occupation, and a remote people called Chichimecs[833]—not to be confounded with the primitive barbarians which are often so called—poured down upon the country. Just how long after the Toltec downfall this happened, is in dispute;[834] but within a few years evidently, perhaps within not many months, came the rush of millions, if we may believe the big stories of the migration. They surged by the ruined capital of the Toltecs, came to the lake, founded Xoloc and Tenayocan, and encountered, as they spread over the country, what were left of the Toltecs, who secured peace by becoming vassals. Not quite so humble were the Colhuas of Colhuacan,—not to be confounded with the Acolhuas,—who were the most powerful section of the Toltecs yet left, and the Chichimecs set about crushing them, and succeeded in making them also vassals.[835] The Chichimec monarchs, if that term does not misrepresent them, soon formed alliances with the Tepanecs, the Otomis, and the Acolhuas, who had been prominent in the overthrow of the Toltecs, and all the invaders profited by the higher organizations and arts which these tribes had preserved and now imparted. The Chichimecs also sought to increase the stability of their power by marriages with the noble Toltecs still remaining. But all was not peace. There were rebellions from time to time to be put down; and a new people, whose future they did not then apprehend, had come in among them and settled at Chapultepec. These were the Aztecs, or Mexicans, a part of the great Nahua immigration, but as a tribe they had dallied behind the others on the way, but were now come, and the last to come.[836]

Tezcuco soon grew into prominence as a vassal power,[837] and upon the capital city many embellishments were bestowed, so that the great lord of the Chichimecs preferred it to his own Tenayocan, which gave opportunity for rebellious plots to be formed in his proper capital; and here at Tezcuco the next succeeding ruler preferred to reign, and here he became isolated by the uprising of rebellious nobles. The ensuing war was not simply of side against side, but counter-revolutions led to a confusion of tumults, and petty chieftains set themselves up against others here and there. The result was that Quinantzin, who had lost the general headship of the country, recovered it, and finally consolidated his power to a degree surpassing all his predecessors.


CLAVIGERO’S MEXICO.[838] (Ed. of 1780, vol. iii.)


CLAVIGERO’S MAP. (Ed. of 1580, vol. i.)

Clavigero speaks of his map “per servire all storia antica del Messico.” A map of the Aztec dominion just before the Conquest is given in Ranking (London, 1827). See note in Vol. II. p. 358.

Meanwhile the Aztecs at Chapultepec, growing arrogant, provoked their neighbors, and were repressed by those who were more powerful. But they abided their time. They were good fighters, and the Colhua ruler courted them to assist him in his maraudings, and thus they were becoming accustomed to warfare and to conquest, and were giving favors to be repaid. This intercourse, whether of association or rivalry, of the Colhuas and Mexicans (Aztecs), was continued through succeeding periods, with a confusion of dates and events which it is hard to make clear. There was mutual distrust and confidence alternately, and it all ended in the Aztecs settling on an island in the lake, where later they founded Tenochtitlan, or Mexico.[839] Here[145] they developed those bloody rites of sacrifice which had already disgusted their allies and neighbors.


A map which did service in different forms in various books about Mexico and its aboriginal localities in the early part of the eighteenth century. It is here taken from the Voyages de Francois Coreal (Amsterdam, 1722).


Meanwhile the powers at Colhuacan and Azcapuzalco flourished and repressed uprisings, and out of all the strife Tezozomoc came into prominence with his Tepanecs, and amid it all the Aztecs, siding here and there, gained territory. With all this occurring in different parts of his dominions, the Chichimec potentate grew stronger and stronger, and while by his countenance the old Toltec influences more and more predominated. And so it was a flourishing government, with little to mar its prospects but the ambition of Tezozomoc, the Tepanec chieftain, and the rising power of the Aztecs, who had now become divided into Mexicans and Tlatelulcas. The famous ruler of the Chichimecs, Techotl, died in a.d. 1357, and the young Ixtlilxochitl took his power with all its emblems. The people of Tenochtitlan, or their rulers, were adepts in practising those arts of diplomacy by which an ambitious nation places itself beside its superiors to secure a sort of reflected consequence. Thus they pursued matrimonial alliances and other acts of prudence. Both Tenochtitlan and its neighbor Tlatelulco grew apace, while skilled artisans and commercial industries helped to raise them in importance.

The young Ixtlilxochitl at Tezcuco was not so fortunate, and it soon looked as if the Tepanec prince, Tezozomoc, was only waiting an opportunity to rebel. It was also pretty clear that he would have the aid of Mexico and Tlatelulco, and that he would succeed in securing the sympathy of many wavering vassals or allies. The plans of the Tepanec chieftain at last ripened, and he invaded the Tezcucan territory in 1415. In the war which followed, Ixtlilxochitl reversed the tide and invaded the Tepanec territory, besieging and capturing its capital, Azcapuzalco.[840] The conqueror lost by his clemency what he had gained by arms, and it was not long before he was in turn shut up in his own capital. He did not succeed in defending it, and was at last killed. So Tezozomoc reached his vantage of ambition, and was now in his old age the lord paramount of the country. He tried to harmonize the varied elements of his people; but the Mexicans had not fared in the general successes as they had hoped for, and were only openly content. The death of Tezozomoc prepared the way for one of his sons, Maxtla, to seize the command, and the vassal lords soon found that the spirit which had murdered a brother had aims that threatened wider desolation. The Mexicans were the particular object of Maxtla’s oppressive spirit, and by the choice of Itzcoatl for their ruler, who had been for many years the Mexican war-chief, that people defied the lord of all, and in this they were joined by the Tlatelulcas under Quauhtlatohuatzin, and by lesser allies. Under this combination of his enemies Maxtla’s capital fell, the usurper was sacrificed, and the honors of the victory were shared by Itzcoatl, Nezahualcoyotl (the Acolhuan prince whose imperial rights Maxtla had usurped), and Montezuma, the first of the name,—all who had in their several capacities led the army of three or four hundred thousand allies,[147] if we may believe the figures, to their successes, which occurred apparently somewhere between 1425 and 1430. The political result was a tripartite confederacy in Anáhuac, consisting of Acolhua, Mexico, and Tlacopan. In the division of spoils, the latter was to have one fifth, and the others two fifths each, the Acolhuan prince presiding in their councils as senior.[841]

The next hundred years is a record of the increasing power of this confederacy, with a constant tendency to give Mexico a larger influence.[842] The two capitals, Tenochtitlan and Tezcuco, looking at each other across the lake, were uninterruptedly growing in splendor, or in what the historians call by that word,[843] with all the adjuncts of public works,—causeways, canals, aqueducts, temples, palaces and gardens, and other evidences of wealth, which perhaps these modern terms only approximately represent. Tezcuco was taken possession of by Nezahualcoyotl as his ancient inheritance, and his confederate Itzcoatl placed the crown on his head. Together they made war north and south. Xochimilco, on the lake next south of Mexico, yielded; and the people of Chalco, which was on the most southern of the string of lakes, revolted and were suppressed more than once, as opportunities offered. The confederates crossed the ridge that formed the southern bound of the Mexican valley and sacked Quauhnahuac. The Mexican ruler had in all this gained a certain ascendency in the valley coalition, when he died in 1440, and his nephew, Montezuma the soldier, and first of the name,[844] succeeded him. This prince soon had on his hands another war with Chalco, and with the aid of his confederates he finally humbled its presumptuous people. So, with or without pretence, the wars and conquests went on, if for no other reasons, to obtain prisoners for sacrifice.[845] They were diversified at times, particularly in 1449, by contests with the powers of nature, when the rising waters of the lake threatened to drown their cities, and when, one evil being cured, others in the shape of famine and plague succeeded.


Sometimes in the wars the confederates over-calculated their own prowess, as when Atonaltzin of Tilantongo sent them reeling back, only, however, to make better preparations and to succeed at last. In another war to the southeast they captured, as the accounts say, over six thousand victims for the stone of sacrifice.

The first Montezuma died in 1469, and the choice for succession fell on his grandson, the commander of the Mexican army, Axayacatl, who at once followed the usual custom of raiding the country to the south to get the thousands of prisoners whose sacrifice should grace his coronation. Nezahualcoyotl, the other principal allied chieftain, survived his associate but two years, dying in 1472, leaving among his hundred children but one legitimate son, Nezahualpilli, a minor, who succeeded. This gave the new Mexican ruler the opportunity to increase his power. He made Tlatelulco tributary, and a Mexican governor took the place there of an independent sovereign. He annexed the Matlaltzinca provinces on the west. So Axayacatl, dying in 1481, bequeathed an enlarged kingdom to his brother and successor, Tizoc, who has not left so warlike a record. According to some authorities, however, he is to be credited with the completion of the great Mexican temple of Huitzilopochtli. This did not save him from assassination, and his brother Ahuitzotl in 1486 succeeded, and to him fell the lot of dedicating that great temple. He conducted fresh wars vigorously enough to be able within a year, if we may believe the native records, to secure sixty or seventy thousand captives for the sacrificial stone, so essential a part of all such dedicatory exercises. It would be tedious to enumerate all the succeeding conquests, though varied by some defeats, like that which they experienced in the Tehuantepec region. Some differences grew up, too, between the Mexican chieftain and Nezahualpilli, notwithstanding or because of the virtues of the latter, among which doubtless, according to the prevailing standard, we must count his taking at once three Mexican princesses for wives, and his keeping a harem of over two thousand women, if we may believe his descendant, the historian Ixtlilxochitl. His justice as an arbitrary monarch is mentioned as exemplary, and his putting to death a guilty son is recounted as proof of it.

Ahuitzotl had not as many virtues, or perhaps he had not a descendant to record them so effectively; but when he died in 1503, what there was heroic in his nature was commemorated in his likeness sculptured with others of his line on the cliff of Chapultepec.[846] To him succeeded that Montezuma, son of Axayacatl, with whom later this ancient history vanishes. When he came to power, the Aztec name was never significant of more lordly power, though the confederates had already had some reminders that conquest near home was easier than conquest far away. The policy of the[149] last Aztec ruler was far from popular, and while he propitiated the higher ranks, he estranged the people. The hopes of the disaffected within and without Anáhuac were now centred in the Tlascalans, whose territory lay easterly towards the Gulf of Mexico, and who had thus far not felt the burden of Aztec oppression. Notwithstanding that their natural allies, the Cholulans, turned against the Tlascalans, the Aztec armies never succeeded in humbling them, as they did the Mistecs and the occupants of the region towards the Pacific. Eclipses, earthquakes, and famine soon succeeded one another, and the forebodings grew numerous. Hardly anything happened but the omens of disaster[847] were seen in it, and superstition began to do its work of enervation, while a breach between Montezuma and the Tezcucan chief was a bad augury. In this condition of things the Mexican king tried to buoy his hopes by further conquests; but widespread as these invasions were, Michoacan to the west, and Tlascala to the east, always kept their independence. The Zapotecs in Oajaca had at one time succumbed, but this was before the days of the last Montezuma.

His rival across the lake at Tezcuco was more oppressed with the tales of the soothsayers than Montezuma was, and seems to have become inert before what he thought an impending doom some time before he died, or, as his people believed, before he had been translated to the ancient Amaquemecan, the cradle of his race. This was in 1515. His son Cacama was chosen to succeed; but a younger brother, Ixtlilxochitl, believed that the choice was instigated by Montezuma for ulterior gain, and so began a revolt in the outlying provinces, in which he received the aid of Tlascala. The appearance of the Spaniards on the coasts of Yucatan and Tabasco, of which exaggerated reports reached the Mexican capital, paralyzed Montezuma, so that the northern revolt succeeded, and Cacama and Ixtlilxochitl came to an understanding, which left the Mexicans without much exterior support. Montezuma was in this crippled condition when his lookouts on the coast sent him word that the dreaded Spaniards had appeared, and he could recognize their wonderful power in the pictured records which the messenger bore to him.[848] This portent was the visit in 1518 of Juan de Grijalva to the spot where Vera Cruz now stands; and after the Spaniard sailed away, there were months of anxiety before word again reached the capital, in 1519, of another arrival of the white-winged vessels, and this was the coming of Cortés, who was not long in discovering that the path of his conquest was made clear by the current belief that he was the returned Quetzalcoatl,[849] and by[150] his quick perception of the opportunity which presented itself of combining and leading the enemies of Montezuma.[850]

Among what are usually reckoned the civilized nations of middle America, there are two considerable centres of a dim history that have little relation with the story which has been thus far followed. One of these is that of the people of what we now call Guatemala, and the other that of Yucatan. The political society which existed in Guatemala had nothing of the known duration assigned to the more northern people, at least not in essential data; but we know of it simply as a very meagre and perplexing chronology running for the most part back two or three centuries only. Whether the beginnings of what we suppose we know of these people have anything to do with any Toltec migration southward is what archæologists dispute about, and the philologists seem to have the best of the argument in the proof that the tongue of these southern peoples is more like Maya than Nahua. It is claimed that the architectural remains of Guatemala indicate a departure from the Maya stock and some alliance with a foreign stock; and that this alien influence was Nahuan seems probable enough when we consider certain similarities in myth and tradition of the Nahuas and the Quichés. But we have not much even of tradition and myth of the early days, except what we my read in the Popul Vuh, where we may make out of it what we can, or even what we please,[851] with some mysterious connection with Votan and Xibalba. Among the mythical traditions of this mythical period, there are the inevitable migration stories, beginning with the Quichés and ending with the coming of the Cakchiquels, but no one knows to a surety when. The new-comers found Maya-speaking people, and called them mem or memes (stutterers), because they spoke the Maya so differently from themselves.

It was in the twelfth or thirteenth century that we get the first traces of any historical kind of the Quichés and of their rivals the Cakchiquels. Of their early rulers we have the customary diversities and inconsistencies in what purports to be their story, and it is difficult to say whether this or the other or some other tribe revolted, conquered, or were beaten, as we read the annals of this constant warfare. We meet something tangible, however, when we learn that Montezuma sent a messenger, who informed the[151] Quichés of the presence of the Spaniards in his capital, which set them astir to be prepared in their turn.


It is in the beginning of the sixteenth century that we encounter the rivalries of three prominent peoples in this Guatemala country, and these[152] were the Quichés, the Cakchiquels, and the Zutigils; and of these the Quichés, with their main seat at Utatlan, were the most powerful, though not so much so but the Cakchiquels could get the best of them at times in the wager of war; as they did also finally when the Spaniard Alvarado appeared, with whom the Cakchiquels entered into an alliance that brought the Quichés into sore straits.

A more important nationality attracts us in the Mayas of Yucatan. There can be nothing but vague surmise as to what were the primitive inhabitants of this region; but it seems to be tolerably clear that a certain homogeneousness pervaded the people, speaking one tongue, which the Spaniards found in possession. Whether these had come from the northern regions, and were migrated Toltecs, as some believe, is open to discussion.[852] It has often been contended that they were originally of the Nahua and Toltec blood; but later writers, like Bancroft,[853] have denied it. Brinton discards the Toltec element entirely.

What by a license one may call history begins back with the semi-mythical Zamná, to whom all good things are ascribed—the introduction of the Maya institutions and of the Maya hieroglyphics.[854] Whether Zamná had any connection, shadowy or real, with the great Votanic demi-god, and with the establishment of the Xibalban empire, if it may be so called, is a thing to be asserted or denied, as one inclines to separate or unite the traditions of Yucatan with those of the Tzendal, Quiché, and Toltec. Ramon de Ordonez, in a spirit of vagary, tells us that Mayapan, the great city of the early Mayas, was but one of the group of centres, with Palenqué, Tulan, and Copan for the rest, as is believed, which made up the Votanic empire. Perhaps it was. If we accept Brinton’s view, it certainly was not. Then Torquemada and Landa tell us that Cukulcan, a great captain and a god, was but another Quetzalcoatl, or Gucumatz. Perhaps he was. Possibly also he was the bringer of Nahua influence to Mayapan, away back in a period corresponding to the early centuries of the Christian era. It is easy to say, in all this confusion, this is proved and that is not. The historian, accustomed to deal with palpable evidence, feels much inclined to leave all views in abeyance.

The Cocomes of Yucatan history were Cukulcan’s descendants or followers, and had a prosperous history, as we are told; and there came to live among them the Totul Xius, by some considered a Maya people, who like[153] the Quichés had been subjected to Nahua influences, and who implanted in the monuments and institutions of Yucatan those traces of Nahua character which the archæologists discover.[855] The Totul Xius are placed in Uxmal in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries, where they flourished along with the Cocomes, and it is to them that it is claimed many of the ruins which now interest us in Yucatan can be traced, though some of them perhaps go back to Zamná and to the Xibalban period, or at least it would be hard to prove otherwise.

When at last the Cocome chieftains began to oppress their subjects, the Totul Xius gave them shelter, and finally assisted them in a revolt, which succeeded and made Uxmal the supreme city, and Mayapan became a ruin, or at least was much neglected. The dynasty of the Totul Xius then flourished, but was in its turn overthrown, and a period of factions and revolutions followed, during which Mayapan was wholly obliterated, and the Totul Xius settled in Mani, where the Spaniards found them when they invaded Yucatan to make an easy conquest of a divided people.[856]


FROM the conquerors of New Spain we fail to get any systematic portrayal of the character and history of the subjugated people; but nevertheless we are not without some help in such studies from the letters of Cortes,[857] the accounts of the so-called anonymous conqueror,[858] and from what Stephens[859] calls “the hurried and imperfect observations of an unlettered soldier,” Bernal Diaz.[860]


Fac-simile of the beginning of Capitulo LXXIV. of his Historia Verdadera, following a plate in the fourth volume of J. M. de Heredia’s French translation (Paris, 1877).

We cannot neglect for this ancient period the more general writers on New Spain, some of whom lived near enough to the Conquest to reflect current opinions upon the aboriginal life as it existed in the years next succeeding the fall of Mexico. Such are Peter Martyr, Grynæus, Münster, and Ramusio. More in the nature of chronicles is the Historia General of Oviedo (1535, etc.).[861] The Historia General of Gomara became generally known soon after the middle of the sixteenth century.[862] The Rapport, written about 1560, by Alonzo de Zurita, throws light on the Aztec laws and institutions.[863] Benzoni about this[154] time traversed the country, observing the Indian customs.[864] We find other descriptions of the aboriginal customs by the missionary Didacus Valades, in his Rhetorica Christiana, of which the fourth part relates to Mexico.[865] Brasseur says that Valades was well[155] informed and appreciative of the people which he so kindly depicted.[866] By the beginning of the seventeenth century we find in Herrera’s Historia the most comprehensive of the historical surveys, in which he summarizes the earlier writers, if not always exactly.[867] Bandelier (Peabody Mus. Repts., ii. 387) says of the ancient history of Mexico that “it appears as if the twelfth century was the limit of definite tradition. What lies beyond it is vague and uncertain, remnants of tradition being intermingled with legends and mythological fancies.” He cites some of the leading writers as mainly starting in their stories respectively as follows: Brasseur, B. C. 955; Clavigero, a.d. 596; Veytia, a.d. 697; Ixtlilxochitl, a.d. 503. Bandelier views all these dates as too mythical for historical investigations, and finds no earlier fixed date than the founding of Tenochtitlan (Mexico) in a.d. 1325. “What lies beyond the twelfth century can occasionally be rendered of value for ethnological purposes, but it admits of no definite historical use.” Bancroft (v. 360) speaks of the sources of disagreement in the final century of the native annals, from the constant tendency of such writers as Ixtlilxochitl, Tezozomoc, Chimalpain, and Camargo, to laud their own people and defame their rivals.

In the latter part of the sixteenth century the viceroy of Mexico, Don Martin Enriquez, set on foot some measures to gather the relics and traditions of the native Mexicans. Under this incentive it fell to Juan de Tobar, a Jesuit, and to Diego Duran, a Dominican, to be early associated with the resuscitation of the ancient history of the country.

To Father Tobar (or Tovar) we owe what is known as the Codex Ramirez, which in the edition of the Crónica Mexicana[868] by Hernando de Alvarado Tezozomoc, issued in Mexico (1878), with annotations by Orozco y Berra, is called a Relacion del origen de los Indios que habitan esta nueva España segun sus historias (José M. Vigil, editor). It is an important source of our knowledge of the ancient history of Mexico, as authoritatively interpreted by the Aztec priests, from their picture-writings, at the bidding of Ramirez de Fuenleal, Bishop of Cuenca. This ecclesiastic carried the document with him to Spain, where in Madrid it is still preserved. It was used by Herrera. Chavero and Brinton recognize its representative value.[869]

To Father Duran we are indebted for an equally ardent advocacy of the rights of the natives in his Historia de las Indias de Nueva-España y islas de Tierra-Firme (1579-81), which was edited in part (1867), as stated elsewhere[870] by José F. Ramirez, and after an interval completed (1880) by Prof. Gumesindo Mendoza, of the Museo Nacional,—the perfected work making two volumes of text and an atlas of plates. Both from Tobar and from Duran some of the contemporary writers gathered largely their material.[871]



After a lithograph in Cumplido’s Mexican edition of Prescott’s Mexico.

We come to a different kind of record when we deal with the Roman script of the early phonetic rendering of the native tongues. It has been pointed out that we have perhaps the earliest of such renderings in a single sentence in a publication made at Antwerp in 1534, where a Franciscan, Pedro de Gante,[872] under date of June 21, 1529, tells the story of his arriving in America in 1523, and his spending the interval in Mexico and Tezcuco, acquiring a knowledge of the natives and enough of their language to close his epistle with a sentence of it as a sample.[873] But no chance effort of this kind was enough. It took systematic endeavors on the part of the priests to settle grammatical principles and determine phonetic values, and the measure of their success was seen in the speedy way in which the interpretation of the old idiograms was forgotten. Mr. Brevoort has pointed out how much the progress of what may be called native literature, which is to-day so helpful to us in filling the picture of their ancient life, is due to the labors in this process of linguistic transfer of Motolinfa,[874] Alonzo de Molina,[875] Andrés de Olmos,[876] and, above all, of the ablest student of the ancient tongues in his day, as Mendieta calls Father Sahagún,[877] who, dying in 1590 at ninety, had spent a good part of a long life so that we of this generation might profit by his records.[878]


Coming later into the field than Duran, Acosta, and Sahagún, and profiting from the labors of his predecessors, we find in the Monarchia Indiana of Torquemada[879] the most comprehensive treatment of the ancient history given to us by any of the early Spanish writers. The book, however, is a provoking one, from the want of plan, its chronological confusion, and the general lack of a critical spirit[880] pervading it.

It is usually held that the earliest amassment of native records for historical purposes, after the Conquest, was that made by Ixtlilxochitl of the archives of his Tezcucan line, which he used in his writings in a way that has not satisfied some later investigators. Charnay says that in his own studies he follows Veytia by preference; but Prescott finds beneath the high colors of the pictures of Ixtlilxochitl not a little to be commended. Bandelier,[881] on the other hand, expresses a distrust when he says of Ixtlilxochitl that “he is always a very suspicious authority, not because he is more confused than any other Indian writer, but because he wrote for an interested object, and with a view of sustaining tribal claims in the eyes of the Spanish government.”[882]

Among the manuscripts which seem to have belonged to Ixtlilxochitl was the one known in our day under the designation given to it by Brasseur de Bourbourg, Codex[158] Chimalpopoca,[883] in honor of Faustino Chimalpopoca, a learned professor of Aztec, who assisted Brasseur in translating it. The anonymous author had set to himself the task of converting into the written native tongue a rendering of the ancient hieroglyphics, constituting, as Brasseur says, a complete and regular history of Mexico and Colhuacan. He describes it in his Lettres à M. le duc de Valmy (lettre seconde)—the first part (in Mexican) being a history of the Chichimecas; the second (in Spanish), by another hand, elucidating the antiquities—as the most rare and most precious of all the manuscripts which escaped destruction, elucidating what was obscure in Gomara and Torquemada.

Brasseur based upon this MS. his account of the Toltec period in his Nations Civilisées du Mexique (i. p. lxxviii), treating as an historical document what in later years, amid his vagaries, he assumed to be but the record of geological changes.[884] A similar use was made by him of another MS., sometimes called a Memorial de Colhuacan, and which he named the Codex Gondra after the director of the Museo Nacional in Mexico.[885]

Brasseur says, in the Annales de Philosophie Chrétienne, that the Chimalpopoca MS. is dated in 1558, but in his Hist. Nat. Civ., i. p. lxxix, he says that it was written in 1563 and 1579, by a writer of Quauhtitlan, and not by Ixtlilxochitl, as was thought by Pichardo, who with Gama possessed copies later owned by Aubin. The copy used by Brasseur was, as he says, made from the MS. in the Boturini collection,[886] where it was called Historia de los Reynos de Colhuacan y México,[887] and it is supposed to be the original, now preserved in the Museo Nacional de México. It is not all legible, and that institution has published only the better preserved and earlier parts of it, though Aubin’s copies are said to contain the full text. This edition, which is called Anales de Cuauhtitlan, is accompanied by two Spanish versions, the early one made for Brasseur, and a new one executed by Mendoza and Solis, and it is begun in the Anales del Museo Nacional for 1879 (vol. i.).[888]

The next after Ixtlilxochitl to become conspicuous as a collector, was Sigüenza y Gongora (b. 1645), and it was while he was the chief keeper of such records[889] that the Italian traveller Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Carreri examined them, and made some record of them.[890] A more important student inspected the collection, which was later gathered in the College of San Pedro and San Pablo, and this was Clavigero,[891] who manifested a particular interest in the picture-writing of the Mexicans,[892] and has given us a useful account of the antecedent historians.[893]



After a lithograph in Cumplido’s Mexican edition of Prescott’s Mexico, vol. iii.

The best known efforts at collecting material for the ante-Spanish history of Mexico were made by Boturini,[894] who had come over to New Spain in 1736, on some agency for a descendant of Montezuma, the Countess de Santibañez. Here he became interested in the antiquities of the country, and spent eight years roving about the country picking up manuscripts and pictures, and seeking in vain for some one to explain their hieroglyphics. Some action on his part incurring the displeasure of the public authorities, he was arrested, his collection[895] taken from him, and he was sent to Spain. On the voyage an English cruiser captured the vessel in which he was, and he thus lost whatever he chanced to have with him.[896] What he left behind remained in the possession of the government, and became the spoil of damp, revolutionists, and curiosity-seekers. Once again in Spain, Boturini sought redress of the Council of the Indies, and was sustained by it in his petition; but neither he nor his heirs succeeded in recovering his collection. He also prepared a book setting forth how he proposed, by the aid of these old manuscripts and pictures, to resuscitate the forgotten history of the Mexicans. The book[897] is a jumble of notions; but appended to it was what gives it its chief value, a “Catálogo del Museo histórico Indiano,” which tells us what the collection was. While it was thus denied to its collector, Mariano Veytia,[898] who had sympathized with Boturini in Madrid, had possession, for a while at least, of a part of it, and made use of it in his Historia Antigua de Méjico, but it is denied, as usually stated, that the authorities upon his death (1778) prevented the publication of his book. The student was deprived of Veytia’s results till his MS. was ably edited, with notes and an appendix, by C. F. Ortega (Mexico, 1836).[899] Another, who was connected at a later day with the Boturini collection, and who was a more accurate writer than Veytia, was Antonio de Leon y Gama, born in Mexico in 1735. His Descripcion histórica y Cronológica de las Dos Piedras (Mexico, 1832)[900] was occasioned by the finding, in 1790, of the great Mexican Calendar Stone and other sculptures in the Square of Mexico. This work brought to bear Gama’s great learning to the interpretation of these relics, and to an exposition of the astronomy and mythology of the ancient Mexicans, in a way that secured the commendation of Humboldt.[901]



After a lithograph in Cumplido’s Mexican edition of Prescott’s Mexico. There is an etched portrait in the Archives de la Soc. Américaine de France, nouvelle série, i., which is accompanied by an essay on this “Père de l’Américanisme,” and “les sources aux quelles il a puisé son précis d’histoire Américaine,” by Léon Cahun.

During these years of uncertainty respecting the Boturini collection, a certain hold upon it seems to have been shared successively by Pichardo and Sanchez, by which in the end some part came to the Museo Nacional, in Mexico.[902] It was also the subject of lawsuits, which finally resulted in the dispersion of what was left by public auction, at a time when Humboldt was passing through Mexico, and some of its treasures were secured by him and placed in the Berlin Museum. Others passed hither and thither (a few to Kingsborough), but not in a way to obscure their paths, so that when, in 1830, Aubin was sent to Mexico by the French government, he was able to secure a considerable portion of them, as the result of searches during the next ten years. It was with the purpose, some[161] years later, of assisting in the elucidation and publication of Aubin’s collection that the Société Américaine de France was established. The collection of historical records, as[162] Aubin held it, was described, in 1881, by himself,[903] when he divided his Mexican picture-writings into two classes,—those which had belonged to Boturini, and those which had not.[904] Aubin at the same time described his collection of the Spanish MSS. of Ixtlilxochitl,[905] while he congratulated himself that he had secured the old picture-writings upon which that native writer depended in the early part of his Historia Chichimeca. These Spanish MSS. bear the signature and annotations of Veytia.


We have another description of the Aubin collection by Brasseur de Bourbourg.[906]


If we allow the first place among native writers, using the Spanish tongue, to Ixtlilxochitl, we find several others of considerable service: Diego Muñoz Camargo, a Tlaxcallan Mestizo, wrote (1585) a Historia de Tlaxcallan.[907] Tezozomoc’s Crónica Mexicana is probably best known through Ternaux’s version,[908] and there is an Italian abridgment in F. C. Marmocchi’s Raccolta di Viaggi (vol. x.). The catalogue of Boturini discloses a[164] MS. by a Cacique of Quiahuiztlan, Juan Ventura Zapata y Mendoza, which brings the Crónica de la muy noble y real Ciudad de Tlaxcallan from the earliest times down to 1689; but it is not now known. Torquemada and others cite two native Tezcucan writers,—Juan Bautista Pomar, whose Relacion de las Antigüedades de los Indios[909] treats of the manners of his ancestors, and Antonio Pimentel, whose Relaciones are well known. The MS. Crónica Mexicana of Anton Muñon Chimalpain (b. 1579), tracing the annals from the eleventh century, is or was among the Aubin MSS.[910] There was collected before 1536, under the orders of Bishop Zumárraga, a number of aboriginal tales and traditions, which under the title of Historia de los Mexicanos por sus Pinturas was printed by Icazbalceta, who owns the MS., in the Anales del Museo Nacional (ii. no. 2).[911]


[After a photograph kindly furnished by himself at the editor’s request.—Ed.]

As regards Yucatan, Brasseur[912] speaks of the scantiness of the historical material, and Brinton[913] does not know a single case where a Maya author has written in the Spanish tongue, as the Aztecs did, under Spanish influence. We owe more to Dr. Daniel Garrison Brinton than to any one else for the elucidation of the native records, and he had had the advantage of the collection of Yucatan MSS. formed by Dr. C. H. Berendt,[914] which, after that gentleman’s death, passed into Brinton’s hands.


After the destruction of the ancient records by Landa, considerable efforts were made throughout Yucatan, in a sort of reactionary spirit, to recall the lingering recollections of what these manuscripts contained. The grouping of such recovered material became known as Chilan Balam.[915] It is from local collections of this kind that Brinton selected the narratives which he has published as The Maya Chronicles, being the first volume of his Library of Aboriginal American Literature. The original texts[916] are accompanied by an English translation. One of the books, the Chilan Balam of Mani, had been earlier printed by Stephens, in his Yucatan.[917] The only early Spanish chronicle is Bishop Landa’s Relation des choses de Yucatan,[918] which follows not an original, but a copy of the bishop’s text, written, as Brasseur thinks, thirty years after Landa’s death, or about 1610, and which Brasseur first brought to the world’s attention when he published his edition, with both Spanish and French texts, at Paris, in 1864. The MS. seems to have been incomplete,[165] and was perhaps inaccurately copied at the time. At this date (1864) Brasseur had become an enthusiast for his theory of the personification of the forces of nature in the old recitals, and there was some distrust how far his zeal had affected his text; and moreover he had not published the entire text, but had omitted about one sixth. Brasseur’s method of editing became apparent when, in 1884, at Madrid, Juan de Dios de la Rada y Delgado published literally the whole Spanish text, as an appendix to the Spanish translation of Rosny’s essay on the hieratic writing. The Spanish editor pointed out some but not all the differences between his text and Brasseur’s,—a scrutiny which Brinton has perfected in his Critical Remarks on the Editions of Landa’s Writings (Philad., 1887).[919] Landa gives extracts from a work by Bernardo Lizana, relating to Yucatan, of which it is difficult to get other information.[920] The earliest published historical narrative was Cogolludo’s Historia de Yucathan (Madrid, 1688).[921] Stephens, in his study of the subject,[166] speaks of it as “voluminous, confused, and ill-digested,” and says “it might almost be called a history of the Franciscan friars, to which order Cogolludo belonged.”[922]

The native sources of the aboriginal history of Guatemala, and of what is sometimes called the Quiché-Cakchiquel Empire, are not abundant,[923] but the most important are the Popul Vuh, a traditional book of the Quichés, and the Memorial de Tecpan-Atitlan.

The Popul Vuh was discovered in the library of the university at Guatemala, probably not far from 1700,[924] by Francisco Ximenez, a missionary in a mountain village of the country. Ximenez did not find the original Quiché book, but a copy of it, made after it was lost, and later than the Conquest, which we may infer was reproduced from memory to replace the lost text, and in this way it may have received some admixture of Christian thought.[925] It was this sort of a text that Ximenez turned into Spanish; and this version, with the copy of the Quiché, which Ximenez also made, is what has come down to us. Karl Scherzer, a German traveller[926] in the country, found Ximenez’ work, which had seemingly passed into the university library on the suppression of the monasteries, and which, as he supposes, had not been printed because of some disagreeable things in it about the Spanish treatment of the natives. Scherzer edited the MS., which was published as Las Historias del Origen de los Indios de Esta Provincia de Guatemala[927] (Vienna, 1857).

Brasseur, who had seen the Ximenez MSS. in 1855, considered the Spanish version untrustworthy, and so with the aid of some natives he gave it a French rendering, and republished it a few years later as Popol Vuh. Le Livre sacré et les Mythes de l’antiquité américaine, avec les livres héroïques et historiques des Quichés. Ouvrage original des indigènes de Guatémala, texte Quiché et trad. française en regard, accompagnée de notes philologiques et d’un commentaire sur la mythologie et les migrations des peuples anciens de l’Amérique, etc., composé sur des documents originaux et inédits (Paris, 1861).

Brasseur’s introduction bears the special title: Dissertation sur les mythes de l’antiquité Américaine sur la probabilité des Communications existant anciennement d’un Continent à l’autre, et sur les migrations des peuples indigènes de l’Amérique,—in which he took occasion to elucidate his theory of cataclysms and Atlantis. He speaks of his annotations as the results of his observations among the Quichés and of his prolonged studies. He calls the Popul Vuh rather a national than a sacred book,[928] and thinks it the original in[167] some part of the “Livre divin des Toltèques,” the Teo-Amoxtli.[929] Brinton avers that neither Ximenez nor Brasseur has adequately translated the Quiché text,[930] and sees no reason to think that the matter has been in any way influenced by the Spanish contact, emanating indeed long before that event; and he has based some studies upon it.[931] In this opinion Bandelier is at variance, at least as regards the first portion, for he believes it to have been written after the Conquest and under Christian influences.[932] Brasseur in some of his other writings has further discussed the matter.[933]

The Memorial of Tecpan-Atitlan, to use Brasseur’s title, is an incomplete MS.,[934] found in 1844 by Juan Gavarrete in rearranging the MSS. of the convent of San Francisco, of Guatemala, and it was by Gavarrete that a Spanish version of Brasseur’s rendering was printed in 1873 in the Boletin de la Sociedad económica de Guatemala (nos. 29-43). This translation by Brasseur, made in 1856, was never printed by him, but, passing into Pinart’s hands with Brasseur’s collections,[935] it was entrusted by that collector to Dr. Brinton, who selected the parts of interest (46 out of 96 pp.), and included it as vol. vi. in his Library of Aboriginal American Literature, under the title of The annals of the Cakchiquels. The original text, with a translation, notes, and introduction (Philadelphia, 1885).

Brinton disagrees with Brasseur in placing the date of its beginning towards the opening of the eleventh century, and puts it rather at about a.d. 1380. Brasseur says he received the original from Gavarrete, and it would seem to have been a copy made between 1620 and 1650, though it bears internal evidence of having been written by one who was of adult age at the time of the Conquest.

Brinton’s introduction discusses the ethnological position of the Cakchiquels, who he thinks had been separated from the Mayas for a long period.

The next in importance of the Guatemalan books is the work of Francisco Antonio de Fuentes y Guzman, Historia de Guatemala, ó Recordación florida escrita el siglo xvii., que publica por primera vez con notas é ilustraciones F. Zaragoza (Madrid, 1882-83), being vols. 1 and 2 of the Biblioteca de los americanistas. The original MS., dated 1690, is in the archives of the city of Guatemala. Owing to a tendency of the author to laud the[168] natives, modern historians have looked with some suspicion on his authority, and have pointed out inconsistencies and suspected errors.[936] Of a later writer, Ramon de Ordoñez (died about 1840), we have only the rough draught of a Historia de la creation del Cielo y de la tierra, conforme al sistema de la gentilidad Americana, which is of importance for traditions.[937] This manuscript, preserved in the Museo Nacional in Mexico, is all that now exists, representing the perfected work. Brasseur (Bib. Mex.-Guat., 113) had a copy of this draught (made in 1848-49). The original fair copy was sent to Madrid for the press, and it is suspected that the Council for the Indies suppressed it in 1805. Ramon cites a manuscript Hist. de la Prov. de San Vicente de Chiappas y Goathemala, which is perhaps the same as the Crónica de la Prov. de Chiapas y Guatemala, of which the seventh book is in the Museo Nacional (Am. Antiq. Soc. Proc., n. s., i. 97; Brasseur, Bib. Mex.-Guat., 157).

The work of Antonio de Remesal is sometimes cited as Historia general de las Indias occidentales, y particular de la gobernacion de Chiapas y Guatemala, and sometimes as Historia de la Provincia de San Vicente de Chyapa y Guatemala (Madrid, 1619, 1620).[938]

Bandelier (Amer. Antiq. Soc. Proc., i. 95) has indicated the leading sources of the history of Chiapas, so closely associated with Guatemala. To round the study of the aboriginal period of this Pacific region, we may find something in Alvarado’s letters on the Conquest;[939] in Las Casas for the interior parts, and in Alonso de Zurita’s Relacion, 1560,[940] as respects the Quiché tribes, which is the source of much in Herrera.[941] For Oajaca (Oaxaca, Guaxaca) the special source is Francisco de Burgoa’s Geográfica descripcion de la parte septentrional del Polo Artico de la América, etc. (México, 1674), in two quarto volumes,—or at least it is generally so regarded. Bandelier, who traces the works on Oajaca (Amer. Antiq. Soc. Proc., n. s., i. 115), says there is a book of a modern writer, Juan B. Carriedo, which follows Burgoa largely. Brasseur (Bib. Mex.-Guat., p. 33) speaks of Burgoa as the only source which remains of the native history of Oajaca. He says it is a very rare book, even in Mexico. He largely depends upon its full details in some parts of his Nations Civilisées (iii. livre 9). Alonso de la Rea’s Crónica de Mechoacan (Mexico, 1648) and Basalenque’s Crónica de San Augustin de Mechoacan (Mexico, 1673) are books which Brinton complains he could find in no library in the United States.


We trace the aboriginal condition of Nicaragua in Peter Martyr, Oviedo, Torquemada, and Ixtlilxochitl.[942]

The earliest general account of all these ancient peoples which we have in English is in the History of America, by William Robertson, who describes the condition of Mexico at the time of the Conquest, and epitomizes the early Spanish accounts of the natives. Prescott and Helps followed in his steps, with new facilities. Albert Gallatin brought the powers of a vigorous intellect to bear, though but cursorily, upon the subject, in his “Notes on the semi-civilized nations of Mexico, Yucatan, and Central America,” in the Amer. Ethnological Society’s Transactions (N. Y., 1845, vol. i.), and he was about the first to recognize the dangerous pitfalls of the pseudo-historical narratives of these peoples. The Native Races[943] of H. H. Bancroft was the first very general sifting and massing in English of the great confusion of material upon their condition, myths, languages, antiquities, and history.[944] The archæological remains are treated by Stephens for Yucatan and Central America, by Dr. Le Plongeon[945] for Yucatan, by Ephraim G. Squier for Nicaragua and Central America in general,[946] by Adolphe F. A. Bandelier in his communications to the Peabody Museum and to the Archæological Institute of America,[947] and by Professor Daniel G. Brinton in his editing of ancient records[948] and in his mythological and linguistic studies, referred to elsewhere. To these may be added, as completing the English references, various records of personal observations.[949]



Follows an etching published in the Annuaire de la Société Américaine de France, 1875. He died at Nice, Jan. 8, 1874, aged 59 years.

During the American Civil War, when there were hopes of some permanence for French influence in Mexico, the French government made some organized efforts to further the study of the antiquities of the country, and the results were published in the Archives de la Commission Scientifique du Méxique (Paris, 1864-69, in 3 vols.).[950] The Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg, who took a conspicuous part in this labor, has probably done more than any other Frenchman to bring into order the studies upon these ancient races, and in some directions he is our ultimate source. Unfortunately his character as an archæological expounder did not improve as he went on, and he grew to be the expositor of some wild notions that have proved acceptable to few. He tells us that he first had his attention turned to American archæology by the report, which had a short run in European circles, of the discovery of a Macedonian helmet and weapons in Brazil in 1832, and by a review of Rio’s report on Palenqué, which he read in the Journal des Savants. Upon coming to America, fresh from his studies in Rome, he was made professor of history in the seminary at Quebec in 1845-46, writing at that time a Histoire du Canada, of little value. Later, in Boston, he perfected his English and read Prescott. Then we find him at Rome poring over the Codex Vaticanus, and studying the Codex Borgianus in the library of the Propaganda. In 1848 he returned to the United States, and, embarking at New Orleans for Mexico, he found himself on shipboard in the company of the new French minister, whom he accompanied, on landing, to the city of Mexico, being made almoner to the legation. This official station gave him some advantage in beginning his researches, in which Rafael Isidro Gondra, the director of the Museo, with the curators of the vice-regal archives, and José Maria Andrade, the librarian of the university, assisted him.[171] Later he gave himself to the study of the Nahua tongue, under the guidance of Faustino Chimalpopoca Galicia, a descendant of a brother of Montezuma, then a professor in the college of San Gregorio. In 1851 he was ready to print at Mexico, in French and Spanish, his Lettres pour servir d’introduction à l’histoire primitive des anciennes nations civilisées du Méxique, addressed (October, 1850) to the Duc de Valmy, in which he sketched the progress of his studies up to that time. He speaks of it as “le premier fruit de mes travaux d’archéologie et d’histoire méxicaines.”[951] It was this brochure which introduced him to the attention of Squier and Aubin, and from the latter, during his residence in Paris (1851-54), he received great assistance. Pressed in his circumstances, he was obliged at this time to eke out his living by popular writing, which helped also to enable him to publish his successive works.[952] To complete his Central American studies, he went again to America in 1854, and in Washington he saw for the first time the texts of Las Casas and Duran, in the collection of Peter Force, who had got copies from Madrid. He has given us[953] an account of his successful search for old manuscripts in Central America. Finally, as the result of all these studies, he published his most important work,—Histoire des nations civilisées du Méxique et de l’Amérique centrale durant les siècles antérieurs à C. Colomb, écrite sur des docs. origin. et entièrement inédits, puisés aux anciennes archives des indigènes (Paris, 1857-58).[954] This was the first orderly and extensive effort to combine out of all available material, native and Spanish, a divisionary and consecutive history of ante-Columbian times in these regions, to which he added from the native sources a new account of the conquest by the Spaniards. His purpose to separate the historic from the mythical may incite criticism, but his views are the result of more labor and more knowledge than any one before him had brought to the subject.[955] In his later publications there is less reason to be satisfied with his results, and Brinton[956] even thinks that “he had a weakness to throw designedly considerable obscurity about his authorities and the sources of his knowledge.” His fellow-students almost invariably yield praise to his successful research and to his great learning, surpassing perhaps that of any of them, but they are one and all chary of adopting his later theories.[957] These were expressed at length in his Quatre lettres sur le Mexique. Exposition du système hiéroglyphique mexicain. La fin de l’âge de pierre. Époque glaciaire temporaire. Commencement de l’âge de bronze. Origines de la civilisation et des religions de l’antiquité. D’après le Teo-Amoxtli[172] [etc.] (Paris, 1868), wherein he accounted as mere symbolism what he had earlier elucidated as historical records, and connected the recital of the Codex Chimalpopoca with the story of Atlantis, making that lost land the original seat of all old-world and new-world civilization, and finding in that sacred history of Colhuacan and Mexico the secret evidence of a mighty cataclysm that sunk the continent from Honduras (subsequently with Yucatan elevated) to perhaps the Canaries.[958] Two years later, in his elucidation of the MS. Troano (1869-70), this same theory governed all his study. Brasseur was quite aware of the loss of estimation which followed upon his erratic change of opinion, as the introduction to his Bibl. Mex.-Guatémalienne shows. No other French writer, however, has so associated his name with the history of these early peoples.[959]

In Mexico itself the earliest general narrative was not cast in the usual historical form, but in the guise of a dialogue, held night after night, between a Spaniard and an Indian, the ancient history of the country was recounted. The author, Joseph Joaquin Granados y Galvez, published it in 1778, as Tardes Américanas: gobierno gentil y católico: breve y particular noticia de toda la historia Indiana: sucesos, casos notables, y cosas ignoradas, desde la entrada de la Gran nacion Tulteca á esta tierra de Anahuac, hasta los presentes tiempos.[960]

The most comprehensive grouping of historical material is in the Diccionario Universal de historia y de Geografía (Mexico, 1853-56),[961] of which Manuel Orozco y Berra was one of the chief collaborators. This last author has in two other works added very much to our knowledge of the racial and ancient history of the indigenous peoples. These are his Geografía de las lenguas y Carta Etnográfica de México (Mexico, 1864),[962] and his Historia antigua y de la Conquista de México (Mexico, 1880, in four volumes).[963] Perhaps the most important of all the Mexican publications is Manuel Larrainzar’s Estudios sobre la historia de América, sus ruinas y antigüedades, comparadas con lo más notable del otro Continente (Mexico, 1875-1878, in five volumes).

In German the most important of recent books is Hermann Strebel’s Alt-Mexico (Hamburg, 1885); but Waitz’s Amerikaner (1864, vol. ii.) has a section on the Mexicans. Adolph Bastian’s “Zur Geschichte des Alten Mexico” is contained in the second volume of his Culturländer des Alten America (Berlin, 1878), in which he considers the subject of Quetzalcoatl, the religious ceremonial, administrative and social life, as well as the different stocks of the native tribes.



I.The Authorities on the so-called Civilization of Ancient Mexico and Adjacent Lands, and the Interpretation of such Authorities.

THE ancient so-called civilization which the Spaniards found in Mexico and Central America is the subject of much controversy: in the first place as regards its origin, whether indigenous, or allied to and derived from the civilizations of the Old World; and in the second place as regards its character, whether it was something more than a kind of grotesque barbarism, or of a nature that makes even the Spanish culture, which supplanted it, inferior in some respects by comparison.[964] The first of these problems, as regards its origin, is considered in another place. As respects the second, or its character, it is proposed here to follow the history of opinions.

In a book published at Seville in 1519, Martin Fernandez d’Enciso’s Suma de geographia que trata de todas las partidas y provincias del mundo: en especial de las Indias,[965] the European reader is supposed to have received the earliest hints of the degree of civilization—if it be so termed—of which the succeeding Spanish writers made so much. A brief sentence was thus the shadowy beginning of the stories of grandeur and magnificence[966] which we find later in Cortes, Bernal Diaz, Las Casas, Torquemada, Sahagún, Ramusio, Gomara, Oviedo, Zurita, Tezozomoc, and Ixtlilxochitl, and which is repeated often with accumulating effect in Acosta, Herrera, Lorenzana, Solis, Clavigero, and their successors.[967] Bandelier[968] points out how Robertson, in his views of Mexican civilization as in “the infancy of civil life,”[969] really opened the view for the first time of the exaggerated and uncritical estimates of the older writers, which Morgan has carried in our day to the highest pitch, and, as it would seem, without sufficient recognition of some of the contrary evidence.

It has usually been held that the creation among the Mexicans about thirty years after the founding of Mexico of a chief-of-men (Tlacatecuhtli) instituted a feudal monarchy. Bandelier,[970] speaking of the application of feudal terms by the old writers to Mexican institutions, says: “What in their first process of thinking was merely a comparative, became very soon a positive terminology for the purpose of describing institutions to which this foreign terminology never was adapted.” He instances that the so-called “king” of these early writers was a translation of the native term, which in fact only meant “one of those who spoke;” that is, a prominent member of the council.[971] Bandelier traces the beginning of the feudal ideas as a graft upon the native systems, in the oldest document issued by Europeans on Mexican soil, when Cortes (May 20, 1519) conferred land on his allies, the chiefs of Axapusco and Tepeyahualco, and for the first time made their offices hereditary. It is Bandelier’s opinion that “the grantees had no conception of the true import of what they accepted; neither did Cortes conceive the nature of their ideas.” This was followed after the Spanish occupation[174] of Mexico by the institution of “repartimientos,” through which the natives became serfs of the soil to the conquerors.[972]

The story about this unknown splendor of a strange civilization fascinated the world nearly half a century ago in the kindly recital of Prescott;[973] but it was observed that he quoted too often the somewhat illusory and exaggerated statements of Ixtlilxochitl, and was not a little attracted by the gorgeous pictures of Waldeck and Dupaix. With such a charming depicter, the barbaric gorgeousness of this ancient empire, as it became the fashion to call it, gathered a new interest, which has never waned, and Morgan[974] is probably correct in affirming that it “has called into existence a larger number of works than were ever before written upon any people of the same number and of the same importance.”[975] Even those who, like Tylor, had gone to Mexico sceptics, had been forced to the conclusion that Prescott’s pictures were substantially correct, and setting aside what he felt to be the monstrous exaggerations of Solis, Gomara, and the rest, he could not find the history much less trustworthy than European history of the same period.[976] It has been told in another place[977] how the derogatory view, as opposed to the views of Prescott, were expressed by R. A. Wilson in his New Conquest of Mexico, in assuming that all the conquerors said was baseless fabrication, the European Montezuma becoming a petty Indian chief, and the great city of Mexico a collection of hovels in an everglade,—the ruins of the country being accounted for by supposing them the relics of an ancient Phœnician civilization, which had been stamped out by the inroads of barbarians, whose equally barbarious descendants the Spaniards were in turn to overcome. It cannot be said that such iconoclastic opinions obtained any marked acceptance; but it was apparent that the notion of the exaggeration of the Spanish accounts was becoming sensibly fixed in the world’s opinion. We see this reaction in a far less excessive way in Daniel Wilson’s Prehistoric Man (i. 325, etc.), and he was struck, among other things, with the utter obliteration of the architectural traces of the conquered race in the city of Mexico itself.[978] When, in 1875, Hubert H. Bancroft published the second volume of his Native Races, he confessed “that much concerning the Aztec civilization had been greatly exaggerated by the old Spanish writers, and for obvious reasons;” but he contended that the stories of their magnificence must in the main be accepted, because of the unanimity of witnesses, notwithstanding their copying from one another, and because of the evidence of the ruins.[979] He strikes his key-note in his chapter on the “Government of the Nahua Nations,” in speaking of it as “monarchical and nearly absolute;”[980] but it was perhaps in his chapter on the “Palaces and Households of the Nahua Kings,” where he fortifies his statement by numerous references, that he carried his descriptions to the extent that allied his opinions to those who most unhesitatingly accepted the old stories.[981]

The most serious arraignment of these long-accepted views was by Lewis H. Morgan, who speaks of them as having “caught the imagination and overcome the critical judgment of Prescott, ravaged the sprightly brain of Brasseur de Bourbourg, and carried up in a whirlwind our author at the Golden Gate.”[982]

Morgan’s studies had been primarily among the Iroquois, and by analogy he had applied his reasoning to the aboriginal conditions of Mexico and Central America, thus degrading their so-called civilization to the level of the Indian tribal organization, as it was understood in the North.[983] Morgan’s confidence in its deductions was perfect, and he was not very gracious in alluding to the views of his opponents. He looked upon “the fabric of Aztec romance as the most deadly encumbrance upon American ethnology.”[984] The Spanish chroniclers, as he contended, “inaugurated American aboriginal history upon a misconception of Indian life, which has remained[175] substantially unquestioned till recently.”[985] He charges upon ignorance of the structure and principles of Indian society, the perversion of all the writers,[986] from Cortes to Bancroft, who, as he says, unable to comprehend its peculiarities, invoked the imagination to supply whatever was necessary to fill out the picture.[987] The actual condition to which the Indians of Spanish America had reached was, according to his schedule, the upper status of barbarism, between which and the beginning of civilization he reckoned an entire ethnical period. “In the art of government they had not been able to rise above gentile institutions and establish political society. This fact,” Morgan continues, “demonstrates the impossibility of privileged classes and of potentates, under their institutions, with power to enforce the labor of the people for the erection of palaces for their use, and explains the absence of such structures.”[988]

This is the essence of the variance of the two schools of interpretation of the Aztec and Maya life. The reader of Bancroft will find, on the other hand, due recognition of an imperial system, with its monarch and nobles and classes of slaves, and innumerable palaces, of which we see to-day the ruins. The studies of Bandelier are appealed to by Morgan as substantiating his view.[989] Mrs. Zelia Nuttall (Proc. Am. Assoc. Adv. Sci., Aug., 1886) claims to be able to show that the true interpretation of the Borgian and other codices points in part at least to details of a communal life.

The special issues which for a test Morgan takes with Bancroft are in regard to the character of the house in which Montezuma lived, and of the dinner which is represented by Bernal Diaz and the rest as the daily banquet of an imperial potentate. Morgan’s criticism is in his Houses and House Life of the American Aborigines (Washington, 1881).[990] The basis of this book had been intended for a fifth Part of his Ancient Society, but was not used in that publication. He printed the material, however, in papers on “Montezuma’s Dinner” (No. Am. Rev., Ap. 1876), “Houses of the Moundbuilders” (Ibid., July, 1876), and “Study of the Houses and House Life of the Indian Tribes” (Archæol. Inst. of Amer. Publ.). These papers amalgamated now make the work called Houses and House Life.[991]

Morgan argues that a communal mode of living accords with the usages of aboriginal hospitality, as well as with their tenure of lands,[992] and with the large buildings, which others call palaces, and he calls joint tenement houses. He instances, as evidence of the size of such houses, that at Cholula four hundred Spaniards and one thousand allied Indians found lodging in such a house; and he points to Stephens’s description of similar communal establishments which he found in our day near Uxmal.[993] He holds that the inference of communal living from such data as these is sufficient to warrant a belief in it, although none of the early Spanish writers mention such communism as existing; while they actually describe a communal feast in what is known as Montezuma’s dinner;[994] and while the plans of the large buildings now seen in ruins are exactly in accord with the demands of separate families united in joint occupancy. In such groups, he holds, there is usually one building devoted to the purpose of a Tecpan, or official house of the tribe.[995] Under the pressure to labor, which the[176] Spaniards inflicted on their occupants, these communal dwellers were driven, to escape such servitude, into the forest, and thus their houses fell into decay. Morgan’s views attracted the adhesion of not a few archæologists, like Bandelier and Dawson; but in Bancroft, as contravening the spirit of his Native Races, they begat feelings that substituted disdain for convincing arguments.[996] The less passionate controversialists point out, with more effect, how hazardous it is, in coming to conclusions on the quality of the Nahua, Maya, or Quiché conditions of life, to ignore such evidences as those of the hieroglyphics, the calendars, the architecture and carvings, the literature and the industries, as evincing quite another kind, rather than degree, of progress, from that of the northern Indians.[997]

II.Bibliographical Notes upon the Ruins and Archæological Remains of Mexico and Central America.

Elsewhere in this work some account is given of the comprehensive treatment of American antiquities. It is the purpose of this note to characterize such other descriptions as have been specially confined to the antiquities of Mexico, Central America, and adjacent parts; together with noting occasionally those more comprehensive works which have sections on these regions. The earliest and most distinguished of all such treatises are the writings of Alexander von Humboldt,[998] to whom may be ascribed the paternity of what the French define as the Science of Americanism, which, however, took more definite shape and invited discipleship when the Société Américaine de France was formed, and Aubin in his Mémoire sur la peinture didactique et l’écriture figurative des Anciens Méxicains furnished a standard of scholarship. How new this science was may be deduced from the fact that Robertson, the most distinguished authority on early American history, who wrote in English, in the last part of the preceding century, had ventured to say that in all New Spain there was not “a single monument or vestige of any building more ancient than the Conquest.” After Humboldt, the most famous of what may be called the pioneers of this art were Kingsborough, Dupaix, and Waldeck, whose publications are sufficiently described elsewhere. The most startling developments came from the expeditions of Stephens and Catherwood, the former mingling both in his Central America and Yucatan the charms of a personal narrative with his archæological studies, while the draughtsman, beside furnishing the sketches for Stephens’s book, embodied his drawings on a larger scale in the publication which passes under his own name.[999] The explorations of Charnay are those which have excited the most interest of late years, though equally significant results have been produced by such special explorers as Squier in Nicaragua, Le Plongeon in Yucatan, and Bandelier in Mexico.

The labors of the French archæologist, which began in 1858, resulted in the work Cités et ruines Américaines:[177] Mitla, Palenqué, Izamal, Chichen-Itza, Uxmal, recueillies et photographiées par Désiré Charnay, avec un Texte par M. Viollet le Duc. (Paris, 1863.) Charnay contributed to this joint publication, beside the photographs, a paper called “Le Méxique, 1858-61,—souvenirs et impressions de Voyage.” The Architect Viollet le Duc gives us in the same book an essay by an active, well-equipped, and ingenious mind, but his speculations about the origin of this Southern civilization and its remains are rather curious than convincing.[1000]


After a drawing in Cumplido’s Spanish translation of Prescott’s Mexico, vol. iii. (Mexico, 1846.)

The public began to learn better what Charnay’s full and hearty confidence in his own sweeping assertions was, when he again entered the field in a series of papers on the ruins of Central America which he contributed (1879-81) to the North American Review (vols. cxxxi.-cxxxiii.), and which for the most part reached the public newly dressed in some of the papers contributed by L. P. Gratacap to the American Antiquarian,[1001] and in a paper by F. A. Ober on “The Ancient Cities of America,” in the Amer. Geog. Soc. Bulletin, Mar., 1888. Charnay took moulds of various sculptures found among the ruins, which were placed in the Trocadero Museum in Paris.[1002] What Charnay communicated in English to the No. Amer. Review appeared in better shape in French in the Tour du Monde (1886-87), and in a still riper condition in his latest work, Les anciens villes du Nouveau Monde: voyages d’explorations au Méxique et dans l’Amérique Centrale. 1857-1882. Ouvrage contenant 214 gravures et 19 cartes ou plans. (Paris, 1885.)[1003]



After a sketch in Bandelier’s Archæological Tour, p. 233, who also gives a plan of the mound. The modern Church of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios is on the summit, where there are no traces of aboriginal works. A paved road leads to the top. A suburban road skirts its base, and fields of maguey surround it. The circuit of the base is 3859 feet, and the mound covers nearly twenty acres. Estimates of its height are variously given from 165 to 208 feet, according as one or another base line is chosen. It is built of adobe brick laid in clay, and it has suffered from erosion, slides, and other effects of time. There are some traces of steps up the side. Bandelier (pl. xv.) also gives a fac-simile of an old map of Cholula. The earliest picture which we have of the mound, evidently thought by the first Spaniards to be a natural one, is in the arms of Cholula (1540). There are other modern cuts in Carbajal-Espinosa’s Mexico (i. 195); Archæologia Americana (i. 12); Brocklehurst’s Mexico to-day, 182. The degree of restoration which draughtsmen allow to themselves, accounts in large measure for the great diversity of appearance which the mound makes in the different drawings of it. There is a professed restoration by Mothes in Armin’s Heutige Mexico, 63, 68, 72. The engraving in Humboldt is really a restoration (Vues, etc., pl. vii., or pl. viii. of the folio ed.). Bandelier gives a slight sketch of a restoration (p. 246, pl. viii.).

We proceed now to note geographically some of the principal ruins. In the vicinity of Vera Cruz the pyramid of Papantla is the conspicuous monument,[1004] but there is little else thereabouts needing particular mention. Among the ruins of the central plateau of Mexico, the famous pyramid of Cholula is best known. The time of its construction is a matter about which archæologists are not agreed, though it is perhaps to be connected with the earliest period of the Nahua power. Duran, on the other hand, has told a story of its erection by the giants, overcome by the Nahuas.[1005] Its purpose is equally debatable, whether intended for a memorial, a refuge, a defence, or a spot of worship—very likely the truth may be divided among them all.[1006] It is a similar problem for divided opinion whether it was built by a great display of human energy, in accordance with the tradition that the bricks which composed its surface were passed from hand to hand by a line of men, extending to the spot where they were made leagues away, or constructed by a slower process of accretion, spread over successive generations, which might not have required any marvellous array of workmen.[1007] The fierce conflict which—as some hold—Cortés had with the natives around the mound and on its slopes settled its fate; and the demolition begun thereupon, and continued by the furious desolaters of the Church, has been aided by the erosions of time and the hand of progress, till the great monument has become a ragged and corroded hill, which might to the casual observer stand for the natural base, given by the Creator, to the modern[179] chapel that now crowns its summit; but if Bandelier’s view (p. 249) is correct, that none of the conquerors mention it, then the conflict which is recorded took place, not here, but on the vanished mound of Quetzalcoatl,[180] which in Bandelier’s opinion was a different structure from this more famous mound, while other writers pronounce it the shrine itself of Quetzalcoatl.[1008]


After a cut in Harper’s Magazine. An enlarged engraving of the central head is given on the title-page of the present volume. A photographic reproduction, as the “Stone of the Sun,” is given in Bandelier’s Archæological Tour, p. 54, where he summarizes the history of it, with references, including a paper by Alfredo Chavero, in the Anales del Museo nacional de México, and another, with a cut, by P. J. J. Valentini, in Amer. Antiq. Soc. Proc., April, 1878, and in The Nation, Aug. 8 and Sept. 19, 1878. Chavero’s explanation is translated in Brocklehurst’s Mexico to-day, p. 186. The stone is dated in a year corresponding to a.d. 1479, and it was early described in Duran’s Historia de las Indias, and in Tezozomoc’s Crónica mexicana. Tylor (Anahuac, 238) says that of the drawings made before the days of photography, that in Carlos Nebel’s Viaje pintoresco y Arqueológico sobre la República Mejicana, 1829-1834 (Paris, 1839), is the best, while the engravings given by Humboldt (pl. xxiii.) and others are more or less erroneous. Cf. other cuts in Carbajal’s México, i. 528; Bustamante’s Mañanas de la Alameda (Mexico, 1835-36); Short’s No. Amer. of Antiq., 408, 451, with references; Bancroft’s Native Races, ii. 520; iv. 506; Stevens’s Flint Chips, 309.

Various calendar disks are figured in Clavigero (Casena, 1780); a colored calendar on agave paper is reproduced in the Archives de la Commission Scientifique du Méxique, iii. 120. (Quaritch held the original document in Aug., 1888, at £25, which had belonged to M. Boban.)

For elucidations of the Mexican astronomical and calendar system see Acosta, vi. cap. 2; Granados y Galvez’s Tardes Americanas (1778); Humboldt’s essay in connection with pl. xxiii. of his Atlas; Prescott’s Mexico, i. 117; Bollaert in Memoirs read before the Anthropol. Soc. of London, i. 210; E. G. Squier’s Some new discoveries respecting the dates on the great calendar stone of the ancient Mexicans, with observations on the Mexican cycle of fifty-two years, in the American Journal of Science and Arts, 2d ser., March, 1849, pp. 153-157; Abbé J. Pipart’s Astronomie, Chronologie et rites des Méxicaines in the Archives de la Soc. Amér. de France (n. ser. i.); Brasseur’s Nat. Civ., iii. livre ii.; Bancroft’s Nat. Races, ii. ch. 16; Short, ch. 9, with ref., p. 445; Cyrus Thomas in Powell’s Rept. Ethn. Bureau, iii. 7. Cf. Brinton’s Abor. Amer. Authors, p. 38; Brasseur’s “Chronologie historique des Méxicaines” in the Actes de la Soc. d’Ethnographie (1872), vol. vi.; Wilson’s Prehistoric Man, i. 355, for the Toltecs as the source of astronomical ideas, with which compare Bancroft, v. 192; the Bulletin de la Soc. royale Belge de Géog., Sept., Oct., 1886; and Bandelier in the Peabody Mus. Repts., ii. 572, for a comparison of calendars.

Wilson in his Prehistoric Man (i. 246) says: “By the unaided results of native science, the dwellers on the Mexican plateau had effected an adjustment of civil to solar time so nearly correct that when the Spaniards landed on their coast, their own reckoning, according to the unreformed Julian calendar, was really eleven days in error, compared with that of the barbarian nation whose civilization they so speedily effaced.”

See what Wilson (Prehistoric Man, i. 333) says of the native veneration for this calendar stone, when it was exhumed. Mrs. Nuttall (Proc. Am. Asso. Adv. Sci., Aug., 1886) claims to be able to show that this monolith is really a stone which stood in the Mexican market-place, and was used in regulating the stated market-days.

We have reference to a Cholula mound in some of the earliest writers. Bernal Diaz counted the steps on its side.[1009] Motolinía saw it within ten years of the Conquest, when it was overgrown and much ruined. Sahagún says it was built for defensive purposes. Rojas, in his Relacion de Cholula, 1581, calls it a fortress, and says the Spaniards levelled its convex top to plant there a cross, where later, in 1594, they built a chapel. Torquemada, following Motolinía and the later Mendieta, says it was never finished, and was decayed in his time, though he traced the different levels. Its interest as a relic thus dates almost from the beginnings of the modern history of the region. Boturini mentions its four terraces. Clavigero, in 1744, rode up its sides on horseback, impelled by curiosity, and found it hard work even then to look upon it as other than a natural hill.[1010] The earliest of the critical accounts of it, however, is Humboldt’s, made from examinations in 1803, when much more than now of its original construction was observable, and his account is the one from which most travellers have drawn,—the result of close scrutiny in his text and of considerable license in his plate, in which he aimed at something like a restoration.[1011] The latest critical examination is in Bandelier’s “Studies about Cholula and its vicinity,” making part iii. of his Archæological Tour in Mexico in 1881.[1012]

What are called the finest ruins in Mexico are those of Xochicalco, seventy-five miles southwest of the capital, consisting of a mound of five terraces supported by masonry, with a walled area on the summit. Of late years a cornfield surrounds what is left of the pyramidal structure, which was its crowning edifice, and which up to the middle of the last century had five receding stories, though only one now appears. It owes its destruction to the needs which the proprietors of the neighboring sugar-works have had for its stones. The earliest account of the ruins appeared in the “Descripcion (1791) de los antiqüedades de Xochicalco” of José Antonio Alzate y Ramirez, in the Gacetas de Literatura (Mexico, 1790-94, in 3 vols.; reprinted Puebla, 1831, in 4 vols.), accompanied by plates, which were again used in Pietro Marquez’s Due Antichi Monumenti de Architettura Messicana (Roma, 1804),[1013] with an Italian version of Alzate, from which the French translation in Dupaix was made. Alzate furnished the basis of the account in Humboldt’s Vues (i. 129; pl. ix. of folio ed.), and Waldeck (Voyage pitt., 69) regrets that Humboldt adopted so inexact a description as that of Alzate. From Nebel (Viage pintoresco) we get our best graphic representations, for Tylor (Anahuac) says that Casteñeda’s drawings, accompanying Dupaix, are very incorrect. Bancroft says that one, at least, of these drawings in Kingsborough bears not the slightest resemblance to the one given in Dupaix. In 1835 there were explorations made under orders of the Mexican government, which were published in the Revista Mexicana (i. 539,—reprinted in the Diccionario Universal, x. 938). Other accounts, more or less helpful, are given by Latrobe, Mayer,[1014] and in Isador Löwenstern’s Le Méxique (Paris, 1843).[1015]



Note.—The opposite view of the court of the Museum is from Charnay, p. 57. He says: “The Museum cannot be called rich, in so far that there is nothing remarkable in what the visitor is allowed to see.” The vases, which had so much deceived Charnay, earlier, as to cause him to make casts of them for the Paris Museum, he at a later day pronounced forgeries; and he says that they, with many others which are seen in public and private museums, were manufactured at Tlatiloco, a Mexican suburb, between 1820 and 1828. See Holmes on the trade in Mexican spurious relics in Science, 1886.

The reclining statue in the foreground is balanced by one similar to it at an opposite part of the court-yard. One is the Chac-mool, as Le Plongeon called it, unearthed by him at Chichen-Itza, and appropriated by the Mexican government; the other was discovered at Tlaxcala.

The round stone in the centre is the sacrificial stone dug up in the great square in Mexico, of which an enlarged view is given on another page.

The museum is described in Bancroft, iv. 554; in Mayer’s Mexico as it was, etc., and his Mexico, Aztec, etc.; Fossey’s Mexique.

On Le Plongeon’s discovery of the Chac-mool see Amer. Antiq. Soc. Proc., Apr., 1877; Oct., 1878, and new series, i. 280; Nadaillac, Eng. tr., 346; Short, 400; Le Plongeon’s Sacred Mysteries, 88, and his paper in the Amer. Geog. Soc. Journal, ix. 142 (1877). Hamy calls it the Toltec god Tlaloc, the rain-god; and Charnay agrees with him, giving (pp. 366-7) cuts of his and of the one found at Tlaxcala.


The ancient Anahuac corresponds mainly to the valley of Mexico city.[1016] Bancroft (iv. 497) shows in a summary way the extent of our knowledge of the scant archæological remains within this central area.[1017]

In the city of Mexico not a single relic of the architecture of the earlier peoples remains,[1018] though a few movable sculptured objects are preserved.[1019]


After a sketch in Tylor’s Anahuac, who thinks it the original Puente de las Bergantinas, where Cortes had his brigantines launched. The span is about 20 feet, and this Tylor thinks “an immense span for such a construction.” Cf. H. H. Bancroft, Native Races, iv. 479, 528. Bandelier (Peabody Mus. Reports, ii. 696) doubts its antiquity.

Tezcuco, on the other side of the lake from Mexico, affords some traces of the ante-Conquest architecture, but has revealed no such interesting movable relics as have been found in the capital city.[1020] Twenty-five miles north of Mexico are the ruins of Teotihuacan, which have been abundantly described by early writers and modern explorers. Bancroft (iv. 530) makes up his summary mainly from a Mexican official account, Ramon Almaraz’s Memoria de los trabajos ejecutados por la comision cientifica de Pachuca (Mexico, 1865), adding what was needed to fill out details from Clavigero, Humboldt, and the later writers.[1021]


Bancroft (iv. ch. 10), in describing what is known of the remains in the northern parts of Mexico, gives a summary of what has been written regarding the most famous of these ruins, Quemada in Zacatecas.[1022]


After a photograph in Bandelier’s Archæological Tour, p. 68. He thinks it was intended to be a bearer of a torch, and has no symbolical meaning.


Bancroft (iv. ch. 7) has given a separate chapter to the antiquities of Oajaca (Oaxaca) and Guerrero, as the most southern of what he terms the Nahua people, including and lying westerly of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and he speaks of it as a region but little known to travellers, except as they pass through a part of it lying on the commercial route from Acapulco to the capital city of Mexico. Bancroft’s summary, with his references, must suffice for the inquirer for all except the principal group of ruins in this region, that of Mitla (or Lyó-Baa), of which a full recapitulation of authorities may be made, most of which are also to be referred to for the lesser ruins, though, as Bancroft points out, the information respecting Monte Alban and Zachila is far from satisfactory. Of Monte Alban, Dupaix and Charnay are the most important witnesses, and the latter says that he considers Monte Alban “one of the most precious remains, and very surely the most ancient of the American civilizations.”[1023] On Dupaix alone we must depend for what we know of Zachila.

It is, however, of Mitla (sometime Miquitlan, Mictlan) that more considerable mention must be made, and its ruins, about thirty miles southerly from Mexico, have been oftenest visited, as they deserve to be; and we have to regret that Stephens never took them within the range of his observations. Their demolition had begun during a century or two previous to the Spanish Conquest, and was not complete even then. Nature is gloomy, and even repulsive in its desolation about the ruins;[1024] but a small village still exists among them. The place is mentioned by Duran[1025] as inhabited about 1450; Motolinía describes it as still lived in,[1026] and in 1565-74 it had a gobernador of its own. Burgoa speaks of it in 1644.[1027]


After Bandelier’s sketch (Archæological Tour, p. 276). KEY:
A, the ruins on the highest ground, with a church and curacy built into the walls.
B, C, E, are ruins outside the village.
D is within the modern village.
F is beyond the river.

The earliest of the modern explorers were Luis Martin, a Mexican architect, and Colonel de la Laguna, who examined the ruins in 1802; and it was from Martin and his drawings that Humboldt drew the information with which, in 1810, he first engaged the attention of the general public upon Mitla, in his Vues des Cordillères. Dupaix’s visit was in 1806. The architect Eduard L. Mühlenpfordt, in his Versuch einer getreuen Schilderung der Republik Mejico (Hannover, 1844, in 2 vols.), says that he made plans and drawings in 1830,[1028] which, passing into the hands of Juan B. Carriedo, were used by him to illustrate a paper, “Los palacios antiguos de Mitla,” in the Ilustracion Mexicana (vol. ii.), in which he set forth the condition of the ruins in 1852. Meanwhile, in 1837, some drawings had been made, which were twenty years later reproduced in the ninth volume of the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, as Brantz Mayer’s Observations on Mexican history and archæology, with a special notice of Zapotec, remains as delineated in Mr. J. G. Sawkins’s drawings of Mitla, etc. (Washington, 1857). Bancroft points out (iv. 406) that the inaccuracies and impossibilities of Sawkins’ drawings are such as to lead to the conclusion that he pretended to explorations which he never made, and probably drafted his views from some indefinite information; and that Mayer was deceived, having no more precise statements than Humboldt’s by which to test the drawings. Matthieu Fossey visited the ruins in 1838; but his account in his Le Méxique (Paris, 1857) is found by Bancroft to be mainly a borrowed one. G. F. von Tempsky’s Mitla, a narrative of incidents and personal adventure on a journey in Mexico, Guatemala and Salvador, 1853-1855, edited by J. S. Bell (London, 1858), deceives us by the title into supposing that considerable attention is given in the book to Mitla, but we find him spending but a part of a day there in February, 1854 (p. 250). The book is not prized; Bandelier calls it of small scientific value, and Bancroft says his plates must have been made up from other sources than his own observations.[1029] Charnay, here, as well as elsewhere, made for us some important photographs in 1859.[1030] This kind of illustration received new accessions of value when Emilio Herbrüger issued a[185] series of thirty-four fine plates as Album de Vistas fotográficas de las Antiguas Ruinas de los palacios de Mitla (Oaxaca, 1874). In 1864, J. W. von Müller, in his Reisen in den Vereinigten Staaten, Canada und Mexico (Leipzig, in 3 vols.), included an account of a visit.[1031] The most careful examination made since Bancroft summarized existing knowledge is that of Bandelier in his Archæological Tour in Mexico in 1881 (Boston, 1885), published as no. ii. of the American series of the Papers of the Archæological Institute of America, which is illustrated with heliotypes and sketch plans of the ruins and architectural details in all their geometrical symmetry. Bancroft (iv. 392, etc.) could only give a plan of the ruins based on the sketches of Mühlenpfordt as published by Carriedo, but the student will find a more careful one[1032] in Bandelier, who also gives detailed ones of the several buildings (pl. xvii., xviii.)


After a photograph in Bandelier’s Archæological Tour, p. 67. See on another page, cut of the court-yard of the Museum, where this stone is preserved. Cf. Humboldt, pl. xxi.; Bandelier in Amer. Antiq., 1878; Bancroft, iv. 509; Stevens’s Flint Chips, 311. There is a discussion of the stone in Orozco y Berra’s El Cuauhxicalli de Tizoc, in the Anales del Museo Nacional, i. no. 1; ii. no. 1. On the sacrificial stone of San Juan Teotihuacan, see paper by Amos W. Butler in the Amer. Antiq., vii. 148. A cut in Clavigero (ii.) shows how the stone was used in sacrifices; the engraving has been often copied. In Mrs. Nuttall’s view this stone simply records the periodical tribute days (Am. Ass. Adv. Sci. Proc., Aug. 1886).

There is no part of Spanish America richer in architectural remains than the northern section of Yucatan, and Bancroft (iv. ch. 5) has occasion to enumerate and to describe with more or less fullness between fifty and sixty independent groups of ruins.[1033] Stephens explored forty-four of these abandoned towns, and such was the native ignorance that of only a few of them could anything be learned in Merida. And yet that this[186] country was the land of a peculiar architecture was known to the earliest explorers. Francisco Hernandez de Cordova in 1517, Juan de Grijalva in 1518, Cortés himself in 1519, and Francisco de Montejo in 1527 observed the ruins in Cozumel, an island off the northwest coast of the peninsula, and at other points of the shore.[1034] It is only, however, within the present century that we have had any critical notices. Rio heard reports of them merely. Lorenzo de Zavala saw only Uxmal, as his account given in Dupaix shows. The earliest detailed descriptions were those of Waldeck in his Voyage pittoresque et achéologique dans la province d’Yucatan (Paris, 1838, folio, with steel plates and lithographs), but he also saw little more than the ruins of Uxmal, in the expedition in which he had received pecuniary support from Lord Kingsborough.[1035] It is to John L. Stephens and his accompanying draughtsman, Frederic Catherwood, that we owe by far the most essential part of our knowledge of the Yucatan remains. He had begun a survey of Uxmal in 1840, but had made little progress when the illness of his artist broke up his plans. Accordingly he gave the world but partial results in his Incidents of Travel in Central America. Not satisfied with his imperfect examination, he returned to Yucatan in 1841, and in 1843 published at New York the book which has become the main source of information for all compilers ever since, his Incidents of Travel in Yucatan (N. Y., 1842; London, 1843; again, N. Y., 1856, 1858). It was in the early days of the Daguerrean process, and Catherwood took with him a camera, from which his excellent drawings derive some of their fidelity. They appeared in his own Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America (N. Y., 1844), on a larger scale than in Stephens’s smaller pages.


After an etching published in the Annuaire de la Soc. Amer. de France. Cf. Amer. Antiq. Soc. Proc., October, 1875.

Stephens’s earlier book had had an almost immediate success. The reviewers were unanimous in commendation, as they might well be.[1036] It has been asserted that it was in order to avail of this new interest that a resident of New Orleans, Mr. B. M. Norman, hastened to Yucatan, while Stephens was there a second time, and during the winter of 1841-42 made the trip among the ruins, which is recorded in his Rambles in Yucatan, or Notes of Travel through the peninsula, including a Visit to the Remarkable Ruins of Chi-chen, Kabah Zayi, and Uxmal (New York, 1843).[1037]

The Daguerrean camera was also used by the Baron von Friederichsthal in his studies at Uxmal and Chichen-Itza, and his exploration seems to have taken place between the two visits of Stephens, as Bancroft determines from a letter (April 21, 1841) written after the baron had started on his return voyage to Europe.[1038] In Paris, in October, 1841, under the introduction of Humboldt, Friederichsthal addressed the Academy, and his paper was printed in the Nouvelles Annales des Voyages (xcii. 297) as “Les Monuments de l’Yucatan.”[1039] The camera was not, however, brought to the aid of the student with the most satisfactory results till Charnay, in 1858, visited Izamal, Chichen-Itza, and Uxmal. He gave a foretaste of his results in the Bulletin de la Soc. de Géog. (1861, vol. ii. 364), and in 1863 gave not very extended descriptions, relying mostly on his Atlas of photographs in his Cités et Ruines Américaines, a part of which volume consists of the architectural speculations of Viollet le Duc. Beside the farther studies of Charnay in his Anciens Villes du Nouveau Monde (Paris, 1885), there have been recent explorations in Yucatan by Dr. Augustus Le Plongeon and his wife, mainly at Chichen-Itza, in which for a while he had the aid and countenance of Mr. Stephen Salisbury, Jr.,[1040] of Worcester, Mass. Le Plongeon’s results are decidedly novel and helpful, but they were[187] expressed with more license of explication than satisfied the committee of that society, when his papers were referred to them for publication, and than has proved acceptable to other examiners.[1041] Nearly all other descriptions of the Yucatan ruins have been derived substantially from these chief authorities.[1042]


Reproduced from an engraving in the London edition, 1887, of the English translation of his Ancient Cities of the New World.


The principal ruins of Yucatan are those of Uxmal and Chichen-Itza, and references to the literature of each will suffice. Those at Uxmal are in some respects distinct in character from the remains of Honduras and of Chiapas. There are no idols as at Copan. There are no extensive stucco-work and no tablets as at Palenqué. The general type is Cyclopean masonry, faced with dressed stones. The Casa de Monjas, or nunnery (so called), is often considered the most remarkable ruin in Central America; and no architectural[189] feature of any of them has been the subject of more inquiry than the protuberant ornaments in the cornices, which are usually called elephants’ trunks.[1043] It has been contended that the place was inhabited in the days of Cortes.[1044]


Also in the Bull. Soc. de Géog. de Paris, 1882 (p. 542). The best large (36 × 28 in.) topographical and historical map of Yucatan, showing the site of ruins, is that of Huebbe and Azuar, 1878. The Plano de Yucatan, of Santiago Nigra de San Martin, also showing the ruins, 1848, is reduced in Stephen Salisbury’s Mayas (Worcester, 1877), or in the Amer. Antiq. Soc. Proc., April, 1876, and April, 1877. V. A. Malte-Brun’s map, likewise marking the ruins, is in Brasseur de Bourbourg’s Palenqué (1866). There are maps in C. G. Fancourt’s Hist. Yucatan (London, 1854); Dupaix’s Antiquités Méxicaines; Waldeck’s Voyage dans la Yucatan (his MS. map was used by Malte-Brun). Cf. the map of Yucatan and Chiapas, in Brasseur and Waldeck’s Monuments Anciens du Méxique (1866). Perhaps the most convenient map to use in the study of Maya antiquities is that in Bancroft’s Nat. Races, iv. Cf. Crescentio Carrillo’s “Geografía Maya” in the Anales del Museo nacional de México, ii. 435.

The map in Stephens’s Yucatan, vol. i., shows his route among the ruins, but does not pretend to be accurate for regions off his course.

The Journal of the Royal Geog. Soc., vol. xi., has a map showing the ruins in Central America.

The best map to show at a glance the location of the ruins in the larger field of Spanish America is in Bancroft’s Nat. Races, iv.

The earliest printed account of Uxmal is in Cogolludo’s Yucathan (Madrid, 1688), pp. 176, 193, 197; but it was well into this century before others were written. Lorenzo de Zavala gave but an outline account in his Notice, printed in Dupaix in 1834. Waldeck (Voyage Pitt. 67, 93) spent eight days there in May, 1835, and Stephens gives him the credit of being the earliest describer to attract attention. Stephens’s first visit in 1840 was hasty (Cent. Amer., ii. 413), but on his second visit (1842) he took with him Waldeck’s Voyage, and his description and the drawings of Catherwood were made with the advantage of having these earlier drawings to compare. Stephens (Yucatan, i. 297) says that their plans and drawings differ materially from Waldeck’s; but Bancroft, who compares the two, says that Stephens exaggerated the differences, which are not material, except in a few plates (Stephens’s Yucatan, i. 163; ii. 264—ch. 24, 25). About the same time Norman and Friederichsthal made their visits. Bancroft (iv. 150) refers to the lesser narratives of Carillo (1845), and another, recorded in the Registro Yucateco (i. 273, 361), with Carl Bartholomæus Heller (April, 1847) in his Reisen in Mexico (Leipzig, 1853). Charnay’s Ruines (p. 362), and his Anciens Villes (ch. 19, 20), record visits in 1858 and later. Brasseur reported upon Uxmal in 1865 in the Archives de la Com. Scientifique du Méxique (ii. 234, 254), and he had already made mention of them in his Hist. Nations Civ., ii. ch. 1.[1045]


After a cut in Ruge’s Gesch. des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen, p. 357.


The ruins of Chichen-Itza make part of the eastern group of the Yucatan remains. As was not the case with some of the other principal ruins, the city in its prime has a record in Maya tradition; it was known in the days of the Conquest, and has not been lost sight of since,[1046] though its ruins were not visited by explorers till well within the present century, the first of whom, according to Stephens, was John Burke, in 1838. Stephens had heard of them and mentioned them to Friederichsthal, who was there in 1840 (Nouv. Annales des Voyages, xcii. 300-306). Norman was there in February, 1842 (Rambles, 104), and did not seem aware that any one had been there before him; and Stephens himself, during the next month (Yucatan, ii. 282), made the best record which we have. Charnay made his observations in 1858 (Ruines, 339,—cf. Anciens Villes, ch. 18), and gives us nine good photographs. The latest discoverer is Le Plongeon, whose investigations were signalized by the finding (1876) of the statue of Chackmool, and by other notable researches (Am. Antiq. Soc. Proc., April, 1877; October, 1878).[1047]


After a cut in Squier’s Serpent Symbol. There are two of these rings in the walls of one of the buildings twenty or thirty feet from the ground. They are four feet in diameter. Cf. Stephens’s Yucatan, ii. 304; Bancroft, iv. 230.


A bas-relief, one of the best preserved at Chichen-Itza, after a sketch in Charnay and Viollet-le-Duc’s Cités et Ruines Américaines (Paris, 1863), p. 53, of which Viollet-le-Duc says: “Le profil du guerrier se rapproche sensiblement les types du Nord de l’Europe.”

It seems hardly to admit of doubt that the cities—if that be their proper designation—of Yucatan were the work of the Maya people, whose descendants were found by the Spaniards in possession of the peninsula, and that in some cases, like those of Uxmal and Toloom, their sacred edifices did not cease to be used till some time after the Spaniards had possessed the country. Such were the conclusions of Stephens,[1048] the sanest mind that has spent its action upon these remains; and he tells us that a deed of the region where Uxmal is situated, which passed in 1673, mentions the daily religious rites which the natives were then celebrating there, and speaks of the swinging doors and cisterns then in use. The abandonment of one of the buildings, at least, is brought down to within about two centuries, and comparisons of Catherwood’s drawings with the descriptions of more recent explorers, by showing a very marked deterioration within a comparatively few years, enable us easily to understand how the piercing roots of a rapidly growing vegetation can make a greater havoc[191] in a century than will occur in temperate climates. The preservation of paint on the walls, and of wooden lintels in some places, also induce a belief that no great time, such as would imply an extinct race of builders, is necessary to account for the present condition of the ruins, and we must always remember how the Spaniards used them as quarries for building their neighboring towns. How long these habitations and shrines stood in their perfection is a question about which archæologists have had many and diverse estimates, ranging from hundreds to thousands of years. There is nothing in the ruins themselves to settle the question, beyond a study of their construction. So far as the traditionary history of the Mayas can determine, some of them may have been built between the third and the tenth century.[1049]

We come now to Chiapas. The age of the ruins of Palenqué[1050] can only be conjectured, and very indefinitely, though perhaps there is not much risk in saying that they represent some of the oldest architectural structures known in the New World, and were very likely abandoned three or four centuries before the coming of the Spaniards. Still, any confident statement is unwise. Perhaps there may be some fitness in Brasseur’s belief that the stucco additions and roofs were the work of a later people than those who laid the foundations.[1051] Bancroft (iv. 289) has given the fullest account of the literature describing these ruins. They seem to have been first found in 1750, or a few years before. The report reaching Ramon de Ordoñez, then a boy, was not forgotten by him, and prompted him to send his brother in 1773 to explore them. Among the manuscripts in the Brasseur Collection (Bib. Mex.-Guat., p. 113; Pinart, no. 695) are a Memoria relativa à las ruinas... de Palenqué, and Notas de Chiapas y Palenqué, which are supposed to be the record of this exploration written by Ramon, as copied from the original in the Museo Nacional, and which, in part at least, constituted the report which Ramon made in 1784 to the president of the Audiencia Real. Ramon’s view was that he had hit upon the land of Ophir, and the country visited by the Phœnicians. This same president now directed José Antonio Calderon to visit the ruins, and we have his “Informe” translated in Brasseur’s Palenqué (introd. p. 5). From February to June of 1785, Antonio Benasconi, the royal architect of Guatemala, inspected the ruins under similar orders. His report, as well as the preceding one, with the accompanying drawings, were dispatched to Spain, where J. B. Muñoz made a summary of them for the king. I do not find any of them have been printed. The result of the royal interest in the matter was, that Antonio del Rio was next commissioned to make a more thorough survey, which he accomplished (May-June, 1787) with the aid of a band of natives to fell the trees and fire the rubbish. He broke through the walls in a reckless way, that added greatly to the devastation of years. Rio’s report, dated at Palenqué June 24, 1787, was published first in 1855, in the Diccionario Univ. de Geog., viii. 528.[1052] Meanwhile, beside the copy of the manuscript sent to Spain, other manuscripts were kept in Guatemala and Mexico; and one of these falling into the hands of a Dr. M’Quy, was taken to England and translated under the title Description of the Ruins of an Ancient City discovered near Palenque in Guatemala, Spanish America, translated from the Original MS. Report of Capt. Don A. Del Rio; followed by Teatro Critico Americano, or a Critical Investigation and Research into the History of the Americans, by Doctor Felix Cabrera (London, 1822).[1053]



From Histoire de l’Habitation Humaine, par Viollet-le-Duc (Paris, 1875). There is a restoration of the Palenqué palace—so called—in Armin’s Das heutige Mexico (copied in Short, 342, and Bancroft, iv. 323).

The results of the explorations of Dupaix, made early in the present century by order of Carlos IV. of Spain, long remained unpublished. His report and the drawings of Castañeda lay uncared for in the Mexican archives during the period of the Revolution. Latour Allard, of Paris, obtained copies of some of the drawings, and from these Kingsborough got copies, which he engraved for his Mexican Antiquities, in which Dupaix’s report was also printed in Spanish and English (vols. iv., v., vi.). It is not quite certain whether the originals or copies were delivered (1828) by the Mexican authorities to Baradère, who a few years later secured their publication with additional matter as Antiquités méxicaines. Relation des trois expéditions du capitaine Dupaix, ordonnées en 1805, 1806 et 1807, pour la recherche des antiquités du pays, notamment celles de Mitla et de Palenque; accompagnée des dessins de Castañeda, et d’une carte du pays exploré; suivie d’un parallèle de ces monuments avec ceux de l’Égypte, de l’Indostan, et du reste de l’ancien monde par Alexandre Lenoir; d’une dissertation sur l’origine de l’ancienne population des deux Amériques par [D. B.] Warden; avec un discours préliminaire par. M. Charles Farcy, et des notes explicatives, et autres documents par MM. Baradère, de St. Priest [etc.]. (Paris 1834, texte et atlas.)[1054] The plates of this edition[193] are superior to those in Kingsborough and in Rio; and are indeed improved in the engraving over Castañeda’s drawings. The book as a whole is one of the most important on Palenqué which we have. The investigations were made on his third expedition (1807-8). A tablet taken from the ruins by him is in the Museo Nacional, and a cast of it is figured in the Numis. and Antiq. Soc. of Philad. Proc., Dec. 4, 1884.

During the twenty-five years next following Dupaix, we find two correspondents of the French and English Geographical Societies supplying their publications with occasional accounts of their observations among the ruins. One of them, Dr. F. Corroy,[1055] was then living at Tabasco; the other, Col. Juan Gallindo,[1056] was resident in the country as an administrative officer.


These slabs, six feet high, were taken from Palenqué, and when Stephens saw them they were in private hands at San Domingo, near by, but later they were placed in the church front in the same town, and here Charnay took impressions of them, from which they were engraved in The Ancient Cities, etc., p. 217, and copied thence in the above cuts. This same type of head is considered by Rosny the Aztec head of Palenqué (Doc. écrits de la Antiq. Amer., 73), and as belonging to the superior classes. In order to secure the convex curve of the nose and forehead an ornament was sometimes added, as shown in a head of the second tablet at Palenqué, and in the photograph of a bas-relief, preserved in the Museo Archeologico at Madrid, given by Rosny (vol. 3), and hypothetically called by him a statue of Cuculkan. This ornament is not infrequently seen in other images of this region.

Bandelier (Peabody Mus. Repts., ii. 126), speaking of the tablet of the Cross of Palenqué, says: “These tablets and figures show in dress such a striking analogy of what we know of the military accoutrements of the Mexicans, that it is a strong approach to identity.”


Fréderic de Waldeck, the artist who some years before had familiarized himself with the character of the ruins in the preparation of the engravings for Rio’s work, was employed in 1832-34. He was now considerably over sixty years of age, and under the pay of a committee, which had raised a subscription, in which the Mexican government shared. He made the most thorough examination of Palenqué which has yet been made. Waldeck was a skilful artist, and his drawings are exquisite; but he was not free from a tendency to improve or restore, where the conditions gave a hint, and so as we have them in the final publication they have not been accepted as wholly trustworthy. He made more than 200 drawings, and either the originals or copies—Stephens says “copies,” the originals being confiscated—were taken to Europe. Waldeck announced his book in Paris, and the public had already had a taste of his not very sober views in some communications which he had sent in Aug. and Nov., 1832, to the Société de Géographie de Paris. Long years of delay followed, and Waldeck had lived to be over ninety, when the French government bought his collection[1057] (in 1860), and made preparations for its publication. Out of the 188 drawings thus secured, 56 were selected and were admirably engraved, and only that portion of Waldeck’s text was preserved which was purely descriptive, and not all of that. Selection was made of Brasseur de Bourbourg, who at that time had never visited the ruins,[1058] to furnish some introductory matter. This he prepared in an Avant-propos, recapitulating the progress of such studies; and this was followed by an Introduction aux Ruines de Palenqué, narrating the course of explorations up to that time; a section also published separately as Recherches sur les Ruines de Palenqué et sur les origines de la civilisation du Méxique (Paris, 1886), and finally Waldeck’s own Description des Ruines, followed by the plates, most of which relate to Palenqué. Thus composed, a large volume was published under the general title of Monuments anciens du Méxique. Palenqué et autres ruines de l’ancienne civilisation du Méxique. Collection de vues [etc.], cartes et plans dessinés d’après nature et relevés par M. de Waldeck. Texte rédigé par M. Brasseur de Bourbourg. (Paris, 1864-1866.)[1059] While Waldeck’s results were still unpublished the ruins of Palenqué were brought most effectively to the attention of the English reader in the Travels in Central America (vol. ii. ch. 17) of Stephens, which was illustrated by the drawings of Catherwood,[1060] since famous. These better cover the field, and are more exact than those of Dupaix.


From The Stone Sculptures of Copán and Quiriguá (N. Y., 1883) of Meye and Schmidt.

Bancroft refers to an anonymous account in the Registro Yucateco (i. 318). One of the most intelligent of the later travellers is Arthur Morelet, who privately printed his Voyage dans l’Amérique Central, Cuba et le Yucatan, which includes an account of a fortnight’s stay at Palenqué. His results would be difficult of access[195] except that Mrs. M. F. Squier, with an introduction by E. G. Squier, published a translation of that part of it relating to the main land as Travels in Central America, including accounts of regions unexplored since the Conquest (N. Y., 1871).[1061]

Désiré Charnay was the first to bring photography to the aid of the student when he visited Palenqué in 1858, and his plates forming the folio atlas accompanying his Cités et Ruines Américaines (1863), pp. 72, 411, are, as Bancroft (iv. 293) points out, of interest to enable us to test the drawings of preceding delineators, and to show how time had acted on the ruins since the visit of Stephens. His later results are recorded in his Les anciennes villes du Nouveau Monde (Paris, 1885).[1062]


Given by Rosny, Doc. Écrits de la Antiq. Amér., p. 73, as types of the short-headed race which preceded the Aztec occupation. They are from sculptures at Copan. Cf. Stephens’s Cent. America, i. 139; Bancroft, iv. 101.



From Meye and Schmidt’s Stone Sculptures of Copán and Quiriguá (N. Y., 1883).

There have been only two statues found at Palenqué, in connection with the T emple of the Cross,[1063] but the considerable number of carved figures discovered at Copan,[1064] as well as the general impression that these latter ruins are the oldest on the American continent,[1065] have made in some respects these most celebrated of the Honduras remains more interesting than those of Chiapas. It is now generally agreed that the ruins of Copan[1066] do not represent the town called Copan, assaulted and captured by Hernando de Choves in 1530, though the identity of names has induced some writers to claim that these ruins were inhabited when the Spaniards came.[1067] The earliest account of them which we have is that in Palacio’s letter to Felipe II., written (1576) hardly more than a generation after the Conquest, and showing that the ruins then were much in the same condition as later described.[1068] The next account is that of Fuentes y Guzman’s Historia de Guatemala (1689), now accessible in the Madrid edition of 1882; but for a long time only known in the citation in Juarros’ Guatemala (p. 56), and through those who had copied from Juarros.[1069] His account is brief, speaks of Castilian costumes, and is otherwise so enigmatical that Brasseur calls it mendacious. Colonel Galindo, in visiting the ruins in 1836, confounded them with the Copan of the Conquest.[1070] The ruins also came Under the scrutiny of Stephens in 1839, and they were described by him, and drawn by Catherwood, for the first time with any fullness and care, in their respective works.[1071]

Always associated with Copan, and perhaps even older, if the lower relief of the carvings can bear that interpretation, are the ruins near the village of Quiriguá, in Guatemala, and[197] known by that name. Catherwood first brought them into notice;[1072] but the visit of Karl Scherzer in 1854 produced the most extensive account of them which we have, in his Ein Besuch bei den Ruinen von Quiriguá (Wien, 1855).[1073]

The principal explorers of Nicaragua have been Ephraim George Squier, in his Nicaragua,[1074] and Frederick Boyle, in his Ride across a Continent (Lond. 1868),[1075] and their results, as well as the scattered data of others,[1076] are best epitomized in Bancroft (iv. ch. 2), who gives other references to second-hand descriptions (p. 29). Since Bancroft’s survey there have been a few important contributions.[1077]

III.Bibliographical Notes on the Picture-Writing of the Nahuas and Mayas.

IN considering the methods of record and communication used by these peoples, we must keep in mind the two distinct systems of the Aztecs and the Mayas;[1078] and further, particularly as regards the former, we must not forget that some of these writings were made after the Conquest, and were influenced in some degree by Spanish associations. Of this last class were land titles and catechisms, for the native system obtained for some time as a useful method with the conquerors for recording the transmission of lands and helping the instruction by the priests.[1079]


After a fac-simile in the Archives de la Soc. Amér. de France, nouv. ser., ii. 34. (Cf. pl. xix. of Rosny’s Essai sur le déchiffrement, etc.) It is a copy, not the original, of Landa’s text, but a nearly contemporary one (made thirty years after Landa’s death), and the only one known.

It is usual in tracing the development of a hieroglyphic system to advance from a purely figurative one—in which pictures of objects are used—through a symbolic phase; in which such pictures are interpreted conventionally instead of realistically. It was to this last stage that the Aztecs had advanced; but they mingled the two methods, and apparently varied in the order of reading, whether by lines or columns, forwards, upwards, or backwards. The difficulty of understanding them is further increased by the same object holding different meanings in different connections, and still more by the personal element, or writer’s style, as we should call it, which was impressed on his choice of objects and emblems.[1080] This rendered interpretation by no means easy to the aborigines themselves, and we have statements that when native documents were referred[198] to them it required sometimes long consultations to reach a common understanding.[1081] The additional step by which objects stand for sounds, the Aztecs seem not to have taken, except in the names of persons and places, in which they understood the modern child’s art of the rebus, where such symbol more or less clearly stands for a syllable, and the representation was usually of conventionalized forms, somewhat like the art of the European herald. Thus the Aztec system was what Daniel Wilson[1082] calls “the pictorial suggestion of associated ideas.”[1083] The phonetic scale, if not comprehended in the Aztec system, made an essential part of the Maya hieroglyphics, and this was the great distinctive feature of the latter, as we learn from the early descriptions,[1084] and from the alphabet which Landa has preserved for us. It is not only in the codices or books of the Mayas that their writing is preserved to us, but in the inscriptions of their carved architectural remains.[1085]


Note—This representation of Yucatan hieroglyphics is a reduction of pl. i. in Léon de Rosny’s Essai sur le déchiffrement de l’écriture hiératique de l’Amérique Centrale, Paris, 1876. Cf. Bancroft, iv. 92; Short, 405.


When the Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg found, in 1863, in the library of the Royal Academy of History at Madrid, the MS. of Landa’s Relacion, and discovered in it what purported to be a key to the Maya alphabet, there were hopes that the interpretation of the Maya books and inscriptions was not far off. Twenty-five years, however, has not seen the progress that was wished for; and if we may believe Valentini, the alphabet of Landa is a pure fabrication of the bishop himself;[1086] and even some of those who account it genuine, like Le Plongeon, hold that it is inadequate in dealing with the older Maya inscriptions.[1087] Cyrus Thomas speaks of this alphabet as simply an attempt of the bishop to pick out of compound characters their simple elements on the supposition that something like phonetic representations would be the result.[1088] Landa’s own description[1089] of the alphabet accompanying his graphic key[1090] is very unsatisfactory, not to say incomprehensible. Brasseur has tried to render it in French, and Bancroft in English; but it remains a difficult problem to interpret it intelligibly.

Brasseur very soon set himself the task of interpreting the Troano manuscript by the aid of this key, and he soon had the opportunity of giving his interpretation to the public when the Emperor Napoleon III. ordered that codex to be printed in the sumptuous manner of the imperial press.[1091] The efforts of Brasseur met[201] with hardly a sign of approval. Léon de Rosny criticised him,[1092] and Dr. Brinton found in his results nothing to commend.[1093]

No one has approached the question of interpreting these Maya writings with more careful scrutiny than Léon de Rosny, who first attracted attention with his comparative study, Les écritures figuratives et hiéroglyphiques des différens peuples anciens et moderns (Paris, 1860; again, 1870, augmentée). From 1869 to 1871 he published at Paris four parts of Archives paléographiques de l’Orient et de l’Amérique, publiées avec des notices historiques et philologiques, in which he included several studies of the native writings, and gave a bibliography (pp. 101-115) of American paleography up to that time. His L’interprétation des anciens textes Mayas made part of the first volume of the Archives de la Soc. Américaine de France (new series). His chief work, making the second volume of the same, is his Essai sur le déchiffrement de l’écriture hiératique de l’Amérique Central (Paris, 1876), and it is the most thorough examination of the problem yet made.[1094] The last part (4th) was published in 1878, and a Spanish translation appeared in 1881.


After a cut in Wilson’s Prehistoric Man, ii. p. 63. It is also given in Bancroft (iv. 355), and others. It is from the Tablet of the Cross.

Wm. Bollaert, who had paid some attention to the paleography of America,[1095] was one of the earliest in England to examine Brasseur’s work on Landa, which he did in a memoir read before the Anthropological Society,[1096] and later in an “Examination of the Central American hieroglyphs by the recently discovered Maya alphabet.”[1097] Brinton[1098] calls his conclusions fanciful, and Le Plongeon claims that the inscription in Stephens, which Bollaert worked upon, is inaccurately given, and that Bollaert’s results were nonsense.[1099] Hyacinthe de Charency’s efforts have hardly been more successful, though he attempted the use of Landa’s alphabet with something like scientific care. He examined a small part of the inscription of the Palenqué tablet of the Cross in his Essai de déchiffrement d’un fragment d’inscription palenquéene.[1100]

Dr. Brinton translated Charency’s results, and, adding Landa’s alphabet, published his Ancient phonetic alphabet of Yucatan (N. Y., 1870), a small tract.[1101] His continued studies were manifest in the introduction on “The graphic system and the ancient records of the Mayas” to Cyrus Thomas’s Manuscript Troano.[1102] In this paper Dr. Brinton traces the history of the attempts which have thus far been made in solving this perplexing problem.[1103] The latest application of the scientific spirit is that of the astronomer E. S. Holden,[202] who sought to eliminate the probabilities of recurrent signs by the usual mathematical methods of resolving systems of modern cipher.[1104]

There are few examples of the aboriginal ideographic writings left to us. Their fewness is usually charged to the destruction which was publicly made of them under the domination of the Church in the years following[203] the Conquest.[1105] The alleged agents in this demolition were Bishop Landa, in 1562, at Mani, in Yucatan,[1106] and Bishop Zumárraga at Tlatelalco, or, as some say, at Tezcuco, in Mexico.[1107] Peter Martyr[1108] has told us something of the records as he saw them, and we know also from him, and from their subsequent discovery in European collections, that some examples of them were early taken to the Old World. We have further knowledge of them from Las Casas and from Landa himself.[1109] There have been efforts made of late years by Icazbalceta and Canon Carrillo to mitigate the severity of judgment, particularly as respects Zumárraga.[1110] The first, and indeed the only attempt that has been made to bring together for mutual illustration all that was known of these manuscripts which escaped the fire,[1111] was in the great work of the Viscount Kingsborough (b. 1795, d. 1837). It was while, as Edward King, he was a student at Oxford that this nobleman’s passion for Mexican antiquities was first roused by seeing an original Aztec pictograph, described by Purchas (Pilgrimes, vol. iii.), and preserved in the Bodleian. In the studies to which this led he was assisted by some special scholars, including Obadiah Rich, who searched for him in Spain in 1830 and 1832, and who after Kingsborough’s death obtained a large part of the manuscript collections which that nobleman had amassed (Catalogue of the Sale, Dublin, 1842). Many of the Kingsborough manuscripts passed into the collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps (Catalogue, no. 404), but the correspondence pertaining to Kingsborough’s life-work seems to have disappeared. Phillipps had been one of the main encouragers of Kingsborough in his undertaking.[1112] Kingsborough, who had spent £30,000 on his undertaking, had a business dispute with the merchants who furnished the printing-paper, and he was by them thrown into jail as a debtor, and died in confinement.[1113]


After a photogravure in Les Documents écrits de l’antiquité Américaine (Paris, 1882). Cf. cut in Mém. de la Soc. d’Ethnographie (1887), xiii. p. 71.

Kingsborough’s great work, the most sumptuous yet bestowed upon Mexican archæology, was published between 1830 and 1848, there being an interval of seventeen years between the seventh and eighth volumes. The original intention seems to have embraced ten volumes, for the final section of the ninth volume is signatured as for a tenth.[1114] The work is called: Antiquities of Mexico; comprising facsimiles of Ancient Mexican Paintings and Hieroglyphics, preserved in the Royal Libraries of Paris, Berlin, and Dresden; in the Imperial Library of Vienna; in the Vatican Library; in the Borgian Museum at Rome; in the Library of the Institute of Bologna; and in the Bodleian Library at Oxford; together with the Monuments of New Spain, by M. Dupaix; illustrated by many valuable inedited MSS. With the theory maintained by Kingsborough throughout the work, that the Jews were the first colonizers of the country, we have nothing to do here; but as the earliest and as yet the largest repository of hieroglyphic material, the book needs to be examined. The compiler states where he found his MSS., but he gives nothing of their history, though something more is now known of their descent. Peter Martyr speaks of the number of Mexican MSS. which had in his day been taken to Spain, and Prescott remarks it as strange that not a single one given by Kingsborough was found in that country. There are, however, some to be seen there now.[1115] Comparisons which have been made of Kingsborough’s plates show that they are not inexact; but they almost necessarily lack the validity that the modern photographic processes give to facsimiles.


From Cyrus Thomas’s Manuscript Troano.

Kingsborough’s first volume opens with a fac-simile of what is usually called the Codex Mendoza, preserved in the Bodleian. It is, however, a contemporary copy on European paper of an original now lost, which was sent by the Viceroy Mendoza to Charles V. Another copy made part of the Boturini collection, and from this Lorenzana[1116] engraved that portion of it which consists of tribute-rolls. The story told of the fate of the original[204] is, that on its passage to Europe it was captured by a French cruiser and taken to Paris, where it was bought by the chaplain of the English embassy, the antiquary Purchas, who has engraved it.[1117] It was then lost[205] sight of, and if Prescott’s inference is correct it was not the original, but the Bodleian copy, which came into Purchas’ hands.[1118]

Beside the tribute-rolls,[1119] which make one part of it, the MS. covers the civil history of the Mexicans, with a third part on the discipline and economy of the people, which renders it of so much importance in an archæological sense.[1120] The second reproduction in Kingsborough’s first volume is what he calls the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris, and formerly owned by M. Le Tellier.[1121] The rest of this initial volume is made up of facsimiles of Mexican hieroglyphics and paintings, from the Boturini and Selden collections, which last is in the Bodleian.

The second Kingsborough volume opens with a reproduction of the Codex Vaticanus (the explanation[1122] is in volume vi.), which is in the library of the Vatican, and it is known to have been copied in Mexico by Pedro de los Rios in 1566. It is partly historical and partly mythological.[1123] The rest of this volume is made up of facsimiles of other manuscripts,—one given to the Bodleian by Archbishop Laud, others at Bologna,[1124] Vienna,[1125] and Berlin.

The third volume reproduces one belonging to the Borgian Museum at Rome, written on skin, and thought to be a ritual and astrological almanac. This is accompanied by a commentary by Frabega.[1126] Kingsborough gives but a single Maya MS., and this is in his third volume, and stands with him as an Aztec production. This is the Dresden Codex, not very exactly rendered, which is preserved in the royal library in that city, for which it was bought by Götz,[1127] at Vienna, in 1739. Prescott (i. 107) seemed to recognize its difference from the Aztec MSS., without knowing precisely how to class it.[1128] Brasseur de Bourbourg calls it a religious and astrological ritual. It is in two sections, and it is not certain that they belong together. In 1880 it was reproduced at Dresden by polychromatic photography (Chromo-Lichtdruck), as the process is called, under the editing of Dr. E. Förstemann, who in an introduction describes it as composed of thirty-nine oblong sheets folded together like a fan. They are made of the bark of a tree, and covered with varnish. Thirty-five have drawings and hieroglyphics on both sides; the other four on one side only. It is now preserved between glass to prevent handling, and both sides can be examined. Some progress has been made, it is professed, in deciphering its meaning, and it is supposed to contain “records of a mythic, historic, and ritualistic character.”[1129]

Another script in Kingsborough, perhaps a Tezcucan MS., though having some Maya affinities, is the Fejérvary Codex, then preserved in Hungary, and lately owned by Mayer, of Liverpool.[1130]

Three other Maya manuscripts have been brought to light since Kingsborough’s day, to say nothing of three others said to be in private hands, and not described.[1131] Of these, the Codex Troano has been the subject of much study. It is the property of a Madrid gentleman, Don Juan Tro y Ortolano, and the title given to the manuscript has been somewhat fantastically formed from his name by the Abbé Etienne Charles Brasseur de Bourbourg, who was instrumental in its recognition about 1865 or 1866, and who edited a sumptuous two-volume folio edition with chromo-lithographic plates.[1132]



From a fac-simile in the Archives de la Société Américaine de France, nouv. ser., ii. 30.



One of the leaves of a MS. No. 2, in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, following the fac-simile (pl. 124) in Léon de Rosny’s Archives paléographiques (Paris, 1869).

While Léon de Rosny was preparing his Essai sur le déchiffrement de l’Ecriture hiératique (1876), a Maya manuscript was offered to the Bibliothèque Impériale in Paris and declined, because the price demanded was too high. Photographic copies of two of its leaves had been submitted, and one of these is given by Rosny in the Essai (pl. xi.). The Spanish government finally bought the MS., which, because it was supposed to have once belonged to Cortes, is now known as the Codex Cortesianus. Rosny afterwards saw it and studied it in the Museo Archeológico at Madrid, as he makes known in his Doc. Ecrits de la Antiq. Amér., p. 79, where he points out the complementary character of one of its leaves with another of the MS. Troano, showing them to belong together, and gives photographs of the two (pl. v. vi.), as well as of other leaves (pl. 8 and 9). The part of this codex of a calendar character (Tableau des Bacab) is reproduced from Rosny’s plate by Cyrus Thomas[1133] in an essay in the Third Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, together with an attempted restoration of the plate, which is obscure in parts. Finally a small edition (85 copies) of the entire MS. was published at Paris in 1883.[1134]

The last of the Maya MSS. recently brought to light is sometimes cited as the Codex Perezianus, because the paper in which it was wrapped, when recognized in 1859 by Rosny,[1135] bore the name “Perez”; and sometimes designated as Codex Mexicanus, or Manuscrit Yucatèque No. 2, of the National Library at Paris. It was a few years later published as Manuscrit dit Méxicain No. 2 de la Bibliothèque Impériale, photographié par ordre de S. E. M. Duruy, ministre de l’instruction publique (Paris, 1864, in folio, 50 copies). The original is a fragment of eleven leaves, and Brasseur[1136] speaks of it as the most beautiful of all the MSS. in execution, but the one which has suffered the most from time and usage.[1137]


Note.—This Yucatan bas-relief follows a photograph by Rosny (1880), reproduced in the Mém. de la Soc. d’Ethnographie, no. 3 (Paris, 1882).





THE civilization of the Incas of Peru is the most important, because it is the highest, phase in the development of progress among the American races. It represents the combined efforts, during long periods, of several peoples who eventually became welded into one nation. The especial interest attaching to the study of this civilization consists in the fact that it was self-developed, and that, so far as can be ascertained, it received no aid and no impulse from foreign contact.

It is necessary, however, to bear in mind that the empire of the Incas, in its final development, was formed of several nations which had, during long periods, worked out their destinies apart from each other; and that one, at least, appears to have been entirely distinct from the Incas in race and language.[1138] These facts must be carefully borne in mind in pursuing inquiries relating to the history of Inca civilization. It is also essential that the nature and value of the evidence on which conclusions must be based should be understood and carefully weighed. This evidence is of several kinds. Besides the testimony of Spanish writers who witnessed the conquest of Peru, or who lived a generation afterwards, there is the evidence derived from a study of the characteristics of descendants of the Inca people, of their languages and literature, and of their architectural and other remains. These various kinds of evidence must be compared, their respective values must be considered, and thus alone, in our time, can the nearest approximation to the truth be reached.


The testimony of writers in the sixteenth century, who had the advantage of being able to see the workings of Inca institutions, to examine the outcome of their civilization in all its branches, and to converse with the Incas themselves respecting the history and the traditions of their people, is the most important evidence. Much of this testimony has been preserved, but unfortunately a great deal is lost. The sack of Cadiz by the Earl of Essex, in 1595, was the occasion of the loss of Blas Valera’s priceless work.[1139] Other valuable writings have been left in manuscript, and have been mislaid[210] through neglect and carelessness. Authors are mentioned, or even quoted, whose books have disappeared. The contemplation of the fallen Inca empire excited the curiosity and interest of a great number of intelligent men among the Spanish conquerors. Many wrote narratives of what they saw and heard. A few studied the language and traditions of the people with close attention. And these authors were not confined to the clerical and legal professions; they included several of the soldier-conquerors themselves.[1140]



[From the Paris (1774) edition of Zarate. The development of Peruvian cartography under the Spanish explorations is traced in a note in Vol. II. p. 509; but the best map for the student is a map of the empire of the Incas, showing all except the provinces of Quito and Chili, with the routes of the successive Inca conquerors marked on it, given in the Journal of the Roy. Geog. Soc. (1872), vol. xlii. p. 513, compiled by Mr. Trelawny Saunders to illustrate Mr. Markham’s paper of the previous year, on the empire of the Incas. The map was republished by the Hakluyt Society in 1880. The map of Wiener in his Pérou et Bolivie is also a good one. Cf. Squier’s map in his Peru.—Ed.]


The nature of the country and climate was a potent agent in forming the character of the people, and in enabling them to make advances in civilization. In the dense forests of the Amazonian valleys, in the boundless prairies and savannas, we only meet with wandering tribes of hunters and fishers. It is on the lofty plateaux of the Andes, where extensive tracts of land are adapted for tillage, or in the comparatively temperate valleys of the western coast, that we find nations advanced in civilization.[1141]

The region comprised in the empire of the Incas during its greatest extension is bounded on the east by the forest-covered Amazonian plains, on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and its length along the line of the Cordilleras was upwards of 1,500 miles, from 2° N. to 20° S. This vast tract comprises every temperature and every variety of physical feature. The inhabitants of the plains and valleys of the Andes enjoyed a temperate and generally bracing climate, and their energies were called forth by the physical difficulties which had to be overcome through their skill and hardihood. Such a region was suited for the gradual development of a vigorous race, capable of reaching to a high state of culture. The different valleys and plateaux are separated by lofty mountain chains or by profound gorges, so that the inhabitants would, in the earliest period of their history, make their own slow progress in comparative isolation, and would have little intercommunication. When at last they were brought together as one people, and thus combined their efforts in forming one system, it is likely that such a union would have a tendency to be of long duration, owing to the great difficulties which must have been overcome in its creation. On the other hand, if, in course of time, disintegration once began, it might last long, and great efforts would be required to build up another united empire. The evidence seems to point to the recurrence of these processes more than once, in the course of ages, and to their commencement in a very remote antiquity.

One strong piece of evidence pointing to the great length of time during which the Inca nations had been a settled and partially civilized race, is to be found in the plants that had been brought under cultivation, and in the animals that had been domesticated. Maize is unknown in a wild state,[1142][213] and many centuries must have elapsed before the Peruvians could have produced numerous cultivated varieties, and have brought the plant to such a high state of perfection. The peculiar edible roots, called oca and aracacha, also exist only as cultivated plants. There is no wild variety of the chirimoya, and the Peruvian species of the cotton plant is known only under cultivation.[1143] The potato is found wild in Chile, and probably in Peru, as a very insignificant tuber. But the Peruvians, after cultivating it for centuries, increased its size and produced a great number of edible varieties.[1144] Another proof of the great antiquity of Peruvian civilization is to be found in the llama and alpaca, which are domesticated animals, with individuals varying in color: the one a beast of burden yielding coarse wool, and the other bearing a thick fleece of the softest silken fibres. Their prototypes are the wild huanaco and vicuña, of uniform color, and untameable. Many centuries must have elapsed before the wild creatures of the Andean solitudes, with the habits of chamois, could have been converted into the Peruvian sheep which cannot exist apart from men.[1145]


[One of the cuts which did service in the Antwerp edition of Cieza de Leon. Cf. Bollaert on the llama, alpaca, huanaco, and vicuña species in the Sporting Review, Feb., 1863; the cuts in Squier, pp. 246, 250; Dr. Van Tschudi, in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 1885.—Ed.]

These considerations point to so vast a period during which the existing race had dwelt in the Peruvian Andes, that any speculation respecting its origin would necessarily be futile in the present state of our knowledge.[1146] The weight of tradition indicates the south as the quarter whence the people came whose descendants built the edifices at Tiahuanacu.


The most ancient remains of a primitive people in the Peruvian Andes consist of rude cromlechs, or burial-places, which are met with in various localities. Don Modesto Basadre has described some by the roadside, in the descent from Umabamba to Charasani, in Bolivia. These cromlechs are formed of four great slabs of slate, each slab being about five feet high, four or five in width, and more than an inch thick. The four slabs are perfectly shaped and worked so as to fit into each other at the corners. A fifth slab is placed over them, and over the whole a pyramid of clay and rough stones is piled. These cromlechs are the early memorials of a race which was succeeded by the people who constructed the cyclopean edifices of the Andean plateaux.


A, Lid or cover of some aperture, of stone, with two handles neatly undercut.
B, A window of trachyte, of careful workmanship, in one piece.
C, Block of masonry with carving.
D, E, Two views of a corner-piece to some stone conduit, carefully ornamented with projecting lines.
F, G, H, I, Other pieces of cut masonry lying about.

For there is reason to believe that a powerful empire had existed in Peru centuries before the rise of the Inca dynasty. Cyclopean ruins, quite foreign to the genius of Inca architecture, point to this conclusion. The wide area over which they are found is an indication that the government which caused them to be built ruled over an extensive empire, while their cyclopean character is a proof that their projectors had an almost unlimited supply of labor. Religious myths and dynastic traditions throw some doubtful light on that remote past, which has left its silent memorials in the huge stones of Tiahuanacu, Sacsahuaman, and Ollantay, and in the altar of Concacha.



A, Portion of the ornament which runs along the base of the rows of figures on the monolithic doorway.
B, Prostrate idol lying on its face near the ruins; about 9 feet long.


A, A winged human figure with the crowned head of a condor, from the central row on the monolithic doorway.
B, A winged human figure with human head crowned, from the upper row on the monolithic doorway.

[There are well-executed cuts of these sculptures in Ruge’s Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen, pp. 430, 431. Cf. Squier’s Peru, p. 292.—Ed.]

The most interesting ruins in Peru are those of the palace or temple near the village of Tiahuanacu,[1147] on the southern side of Lake Titicaca. They are 12,930 feet above the level of the sea, and 130 above that of the lake, which is about twelve miles off.



Various curiously carved stones found scattered about the ruins.


[Cf. view in Squier’s Peru, p. 289, with other particulars of the ruins, p. 276, etc.—Ed.]


They consist of a quadrangular space, entered by the famous monolithic doorway, and surrounded by large stones standing on end; and of a hill or mound encircled by remains of a wall, consisting of enormous blocks of stone. The whole covers an area about 400 yards long by 350 broad. There is a lesser temple, about a quarter of a mile distant, containing stones 36 feet long by 7, and 26 by 16, with recesses in them which have been compared to seats of judgment. The weight of the two great stones has been estimated at from 140 to 200 tons each, and the distance of the quarries whence they could have been brought is from 15 to 40 miles.


[This is an enlarged drawing of the bas-relief shown in the picture of the broken doorway (p. 218). Cf. the cuts in the article on the ruins of Tiahuanacu in the Revue d’Architecture des Travaux publics, vol. xxiv.; in Ch. Wiener’s L’Empire des Incas, pl. iii.; in D’Orbigny’s Atlas to his L’Homme Américain; and in Squier’s Peru, p. 291.—Ed.]

The monolithic portal is one block of hard trachytic rock, now deeply[218] sunk in the ground. Its height above ground is 7 ft. 2 in., width 13 ft. 5 in., thickness 1 ft. 6 in., and the opening is 4 ft. 6 in. by 2 ft. 9 in. The outer side is ornamented by accurately cut niches and rectangular mouldings. The whole of the inner side, from a line level with the upper lintel of the doorway to the top, is a mass of sculpture, which speaks to us, in difficult riddles, alas! of the customs and art-culture, of the beliefs and traditions, of an ancient and lost civilization.


[An enlarged drawing of the image over the arch is given in another cut. This same ruin is well represented in Ruge’s Gesch. des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen; and not so well in Wiener’s Pérou et Bolivie, p. 419. Cf. Squier’s Peru, p. 288.—Ed.]

In the centre there is a figure carved in high relief, in an oblong compartment, 2 ft. 2 in. long by 1 ft. 6 in.[1148] Squier describes this figure as angularly but boldly cut. The head is surrounded by rays, each terminating in a circle or the head of an animal. The breast is adorned with two serpents united by a square band. Another band, divided into ornamented compartments, passes round the neck, and the ends are brought down to the girdle, from which hang six human heads. Human heads also hang from the elbows, and the hands clasp sceptres which terminate in the heads of condors. The legs are cut off near the girdle, and below there are a series of frieze-like ornaments, each ending with a condor’s head. On either side of this central sculpture there are three tiers of figures, 16 in[219] each tier, or 48 in all, each in a kneeling posture, and facing towards the large central figure. Each figure is in a square, the sides of which measure eight inches. All are winged, and hold sceptres ending in condors’ heads; but while those in the upper and lower tiers have crowned human heads, those in the central tier have the heads of condors. There is a profusion of ornament on all these figures, consisting of heads of birds and fishes. An ornamental frieze runs along the base of the lowest tier of figures, consisting of an elaborate pattern of angular lines ending in condors’ heads, with larger human heads surrounded by rays, in the intervals of the pattern. Cieza de Leon and Alcobasa[1149] mention that, besides this sculpture over the doorway, there were richly carved statues at Tiahuanacu, which have since been destroyed, and many cylindrical pillars with capitals. The head of one statue, with a peculiar head-dress, which is 3 ft. 6 in. long, still lies by the roadside.


After a drawing given in The Temple of the Andes by Richard Inwards (London, 1884).

The masonry of the ruins is admirably worked, according to the testimony of all visitors. Squier says: “The stone itself is a dark and exceedingly hard trachyte. It is faced with a precision that no skill can excel. Its lines are perfectly drawn, and its right angles turned with an accuracy that the most careful geometer could not surpass. I do not believe there exists a better piece of stone-cutting, the material considered, on this or the other continent.”

It is desirable to describe these ruins, and especially the sculpture over[220] the monolithic doorway, with some minuteness, because, with the probable exception of the cromlechs, they are the most ancient, and, without any exception, the most interesting that have been met with in Peru. There is nothing elsewhere that at all resembles the sculpture on the monolithic doorway at Tiahuanacu.[1150] The central figure, with rows of kneeling worshippers on either side, all covered with symbolic designs, represents, it may be conjectured, either the sovereign and his vassals, or, more probably, the Deity, with representatives of all the nations bowing down before him. The sculpture and the most ancient traditions should throw light upon each other.

Further north there are other examples of prehistoric cyclopean remains. Such is the great wall, with its “stone of 12 corners,” in the Calle del Triunfo at Cuzco. Such is the famous fortress of Cuzco, on the Sacsahuaman Hill. Such, too, are portions of the ruins at Ollantay-tampu. Still farther north there are cyclopean ruins at Concacha, at Huiñaque, and at Huaraz.


[After a cut in Ruge’s Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen. Markham has elsewhere described these ruins,—Cieza de Leon, 259, 324; 2d part, 160; Royal Commentaries of the Incas, ii., with a plan, reproduced in Vol. II. p. 521, and another plan of Cuzco, showing the position of the fortress in its relations to the city. There are plans and views in Squier’s Peru, ch. 23.—Ed.]

Tiahuanacu is interesting because it is possible that the elaborate character of its symbolic sculpture may throw glimmerings of light on remote[221] history; but Sacsahuaman, the fortress overlooking the city of Cuzco, is, without comparison, the grandest monument of an ancient civilization in the New World. Like the Pyramids and the Coliseum, it is imperishable. It consists of a fortified work 600 yards in length, built of gigantic stones, in three lines, forming walls supporting terraces and parapets arranged in salient and retiring angles. This work defends the only assailable side of a position which is impregnable, owing to the steepness of the ascent in all other directions. The outer wall averages a height of 26 feet. Then there is a terrace 16 yards across, whence the second wall rises to 18 feet. The second terrace is six yards across, and the third wall averages a height of 12 feet. The total height of the fortification is 56 feet. The stones are of blue limestone, of enormous size and irregular in shape, but fitted into each other with rare precision. One of the stones is 27 feet high by 14, and stones 15 feet high by 12 are common throughout the work.

At Ollantay-tampu the ruins are of various styles, but the later works are raised on ancient cyclopean foundations.[1151] There are six porphyry slabs 12 feet high by 6 or 7; stone beams 15 and 20 feet long; stairs and recesses hewn out of the solid rock. Here, as at Tiahuanacu, there were, according to Cieza de Leon,[1152] men and animals carved on the stones, but they have disappeared. The same style of architecture, though only in fragments, is met with further north.

East of the river Apurimac, and not far from the town of Abancay, there are three groups of ancient monuments in a deep valley surrounded by lofty spurs of the Andes. There is a great cyclopean wall, a series of seats or thrones of various forms hewn out of the solid stone, and a huge block carved on five sides, called the Rumi-huasi. The northern face of this monolith is cut into the form of a staircase; on the east there are two enormous seats separated by thick partitions, and on the south there is a sort of lookout place, with a seat. Collecting channels traverse the block, and join trenches or grooves leading to two deep excavations on the western side. On this western side there is also a series of steps, apparently for the fall of a cascade of water connected with the sacrificial rites. Molina gives a curious account of the water sacrifices of the Incas.[1153] The Rumi-huasi seems to have been the centre of a great sanctuary, and to have been used as an altar. Its surface is carved with animals amidst a labyrinth of cavities and partition ridges. Its length is 20 feet by 14 broad, and 12 feet high. Here we have, no doubt, a sacrificial altar of the ancient people, on which the blood of animals and libations of chicha flowed in torrents.[1154]

Spanish writers received statements from the Indians that one or other of these cyclopean ruins was built by some particular Inca. Garcilasso de la Vega even names the architects of the Cuzco fortress. But it is clear from the evidence of the most careful investigators, such as Cieza de Leon,[222] that there was no real knowledge of their origin, and that memory of the builders was either quite lost, or preserved in vague, uncertain traditions.

The most ancient myth points to the region of Lake Titicaca as the scene of the creative operations of a Deity, or miracle-working Lord.[1155] This Deity is said to have created the sun, moon, and stars, or to have caused them to rise out of Lake Titicaca. He also created men of stone at Tiahuanacu, or of clay; making them pass under the earth, and appear again out of caves, tree-trunks, rocks, or fountains in the different provinces which were to be peopled by their descendants. But this seems to be a later attempt to reconcile the ancient Titicaca myth with the local worship of natural objects as ancestors or founders of their race, among the numerous subjugated tribes; as well as to account for the colossal statues of unknown origin at Tiahuanacu. There are variations of the story, but there is general concurrence in the main points: that the Deity created the heavenly bodies and the human race, and that the ancient people, or their rulers, were called Pirua. Tradition also seems to point to regions south of the lake as the quarter whence the first settlers came who worked out the earliest civilization.[1156] We may, in accordance with all the indications that are left to us, connect the great god Illa Ticsi with the central figure of the Tiahuanacu sculpture, and the kneeling worshippers with the rulers of all the nations and tribes which had been subjugated by the Hatun-runa,[1157]—the great men who had Pirua for their king, and who originally came from the distant south. The Piruas governed a vast empire, erected imperishable cyclopean edifices, and developed a complicated civilization, which is dimly indicated to us by the numerous symbolical sculptures on the monolith. They[223] also, in a long course of years, brought wild plants under cultivation, and domesticated the animals of the lofty Andean plateau. But it is remarkable that the shores of Lake Titicaca, which are almost treeless, and where corn will not ripen, should have been chosen as the centre of this most ancient civilization. Yet the ruins of Tiahuanacu conclusively establish the fact that the capital of the Piruas was on the loftiest site ever selected for the seat of a great empire.

The Amautas, or learned men of the later Inca period, preserved the names of sovereigns of the Pirua dynasty, commencing with Pirua Manco, and continuing for sixty-five generations. Lopez conjectures that there was a change of dynasty after the eighteenth Pirua king, because hitherto Montesinos, who has recorded the list, had always called each successor son and heir, but after the eighteenth only heir. Hence he thinks that a new dynasty of Amautas, or kings of the learned caste, succeeded the Piruas. The only deeds recorded of this long line of kings are their success in repelling invasions and their alterations of the calendar. At length there appears to have been a general disruption of the empire: Cuzco was nearly deserted, rebel leaders rose up in all directions, the various tribes became independent, and the chief who claimed to be the representative of the old dynasties was reduced to a small territory to the south of Cuzco, in the valley of the Vilcamayu, and was called “King of Tampu Tocco.” This state of disintegration is said to have continued for twenty-eight generations, at the end of which time a new empire began to be consolidated under the Incas, which inherited the civilization and traditions of the ancient dynasties, and succeeded to their power and dominion.

It was long believed that the lists of kings of the earlier dynasties rested solely on the authority of Montesinos, and they consequently received little credit. But recent research has brought to light the work of another writer, who studied before Montesinos, and who incidentally refers to two of the sovereigns in his lists.[1158] This furnishes independent evidence that the catalogues of early kings had been preserved orally or by means of quipus, and that they were in existence when the Spaniards conquered Peru; thus giving weight to the testimony of Montesinos.

The second myth of the Peruvians refers to the origin of the Incas, who derived their descent from the kings of Tampu Tocco, and had their original home at Paccari-tampu, in the valley of the Vilcamayu, south of Cuzco. It is, therefore, an ancestral myth. It is related that four brothers, with their four sisters, issued forth from apertures (Tocco) in a cave at Paccari-tampu, a name which means “the abode of dawn.” The brothers were called Ayar Manco, Ayar Cachi, Ayar Uchu, and Ayar Sauca, names to which the Incas, in the time of Garcilasso de la Vega, gave a fanciful meaning.[1159] One[224] of the brothers showed extraordinary prowess in hurling a stone from a sling. The others became jealous, and, persuading Ayar Auca, the expert slingsman, to return into the cave, they blocked the entrance with rocks. Ayar Uchu was converted into a stone idol, on the summit of a hill near Cuzco, called Huanacauri. Manco then advanced to Cuzco with his youngest brother, and found that the place was occupied by a chief named Alcaviza and his people. Here Manco established the seat of his government, and the Alcaviza tribe appears to have submitted to him, and to have lived side by side with the Incas for some generations. The Huanacauri hill was considered the most sacred place in Peru; while the Tampu-tocco, or cave at Paccari-tampu, was, through the piety of descendants, faced with a masonry wall, having three windows lined with plates of gold.

There is a third myth which seems to connect the ancient tradition of Titicaca with the ancestral myth of the Incas. It is said that long after the creation by the Deity, a great and beneficent being appeared at Tiahuanacu, who divided the world among four kings: Manco Ccapac, Colla, Tocay[1160] or Tocapo,[1161] and Pinahua.[1162] The names Tuapaca, Arnauan,[1163] Tonapa,[1164] and Tarapaca occur in connection with this being, while some authorities tell us that his name was unknown. Betanzos says that he went from Titicaca to Cuzco, where he set up a chief named Alcaviza, and that he advanced through the country until he disappeared over the sea at Puerto Viejo. It is also related that the people of Canas attacked him, but were converted by a miracle, and that they built a great temple, with an image, at Cacha, in honor of this being, or of his god Illa Ticsi Uira-cocha. This temple now forms a ruin which in its structure and arrangement is unique in Peru, and therefore deserves special attention.

The ruins of the temple of Cacha are in the valley of the Vilcamayu, south of Cuzco. They were described by Garcilasso de la Vega, and have been visited and carefully examined by Squier. The main temple was 330 feet long by 87 broad, with wrought-stone walls and a steep pitched roof. A high wall extended longitudinally through the centre of the structure, consisting of a wrought-stone foundation, 8 feet high and 5½ feet thick on the level of the ground, supporting an adobe superstructure, the whole being 40 feet high. This wall was pierced by 12 lofty doorways, 14 feet high. But midway there are sockets for the reception of beams, showing the existence of a second story, as described by Garcilasso. Between the transverse and outer walls there were two series of pillars, 12 on each side, built like the transverse wall, with 8 feet of wrought stone, and completed to a height of 22 feet with adobes. These pillars appear to have supported the second floor, where, according to Garcilasso, there was a shrine containing the statue of Uira-cocha. At right angles to the temple, Squier discovered the remains of a series of supplemental edifices surrounding courts, and built upon a terrace 260 yards long.


The peculiarities of the temple of Cacha consist in the use of rows of columns to support a second floor, and in the great height of the walls. In these respects it is unique, and if similar edifices ever existed, they appear to have been destroyed previous to the rise of the Inca empire. The Cacha temple belongs neither to the cyclopean period of the Piruas nor to the Inca style of architecture. Connected with the strange myth of the wandering prophet of Viracocha, it stands by itself, as one of those unsolved problems which await future investigation. The statue in the shrine on the upper story is described by Cieza de Leon, who saw it.

Both the Titicaca and the Cacha myths have, in later times, been connected and more or less amalgamated with the ancestral myth of the Incas. Thus Garcilasso de la Vega makes Manco Ccapac come direct from Titicaca; while Molina refers to him as one of the beings created there, who went down through the earth and came up at Paccari-tampu. Salcamayhua makes the being Tonapa, of the Cacha myth, arrive at Apu Tampu, or Paccari-tampu, and leave a sacred sceptre there, called tupac yauri, for Manco Ccapac. These are later interpolations, made with the object of connecting the family myth of the Incas with more ancient traditions. The wise men of the Inca system, through the care of Spanish writers of the time of the conquest, have handed down these three traditions and the catalogue of kings. The Titicaca myth tells us of the Deity worshipped by the builders of Tiahuanacu, and the story of the creation. The Cacha myth has reference to some great reformer of very ancient times. The Paccari-tampu myth records the origin of the Inca dynasty. Although they are overlaid with fables and miraculous occurrences, the main facts touching the original home of Manco Ccapac and his march to Cuzco are probably historical.

The catalogue of kings given by Montesinos, allowing an average of twenty years for each, would place the commencement of the Pirua dynasty in about 470 b.c.; in the days when the Greeks, under Cimon, were defeating the Persians, and nearly a century after the death of Sakya Muni in India. This early empire flourished for about 1,200 years, and the disruption took place in 830 a.d., in the days of King Egbert. The disintegration continued for 500 years, and the rise of the Incas under Manco was probably coeval with the days of St. Louis and Henry III of England.[1165] By that time the country had been broken up into separate tribes for 500 years, and the work of reunion, so splendidly achieved by the Incas, was most arduous. At the same time, the ancient civilization of the Piruas was partially inherited by the various peoples whose ancestors composed their empire; so that the Inca civilization was a revival rather than a creation.

The various tribes and nations of the Andes, separated from each other by uninhabited wildernesses and lofty mountain chains, were clearly of the same origin, speaking dialects of the same language. Since the fall of the[226] Piruas they had led an independent existence. Some had formed powerful confederations, others were isolated in their valleys. But it was only through much hard fighting and by consummate statesmanship that the one small Inca lineage established, in a period of less than three centuries, imperial dominion over the rest. It will be well, in this place, to take a brief survey of the different nations which were to form the empire of the Incas, and of their territories.

The central Andean region, which was the home of the imperial race of Incas, extends from the water-parting between the sources of the Ucayali and the basin of Lake Titicaca to the river Apurimac. It includes wild mountain fastnesses, wide expanses of upland, grassy slopes, lofty valleys such as that in which the city of Cuzco is built, and fertile ravines, with the most lovely scenery. The inhabitants composed four tribes: that of the Incas in the valley of the Vilcamayu, of the Quichuas in the secluded ravines of the Apurimac tributaries, and those of the Canas and Cauchis in the mountains bordering on the Titicaca basin. These people average a height of 5 ft. 4 in., and are strongly built. The nose is invariably aquiline, the mouth rather large; the eyes black or deep brown, bright, and generally deep set, with long fine lashes. The hair is abundant and long, fine, and of a deep black-brown. The men have no beards. The skin is very smooth and soft, and of a light coppery-brown color, the neck thick, and the shoulders broad, with great depth of chest. The legs are well formed, feet and hands very small. The Incas have the build and physique of mountaineers.

To the south of this cradle of the Inca race extended the region of the Collas[1166] and allied tribes, including the whole basin of Lake Titicaca, which is 12,000 feet above the level of the sea. The Collas dwelt in stone huts, tended their flocks of llamas, and raised crops of ocas, quinoas, and potatoes. They were divided into several tribes, and were engaged in constant feuds, their arms being slings and ayllos, or bolas. The Collas are remarkable for great length of body compared with the thigh and leg, and they are the only people whose thighs are shorter than their legs. Their build fits them for excellence in mountain climbing and pedestrianism, and for the exercise of extraordinary endurance.[1167] The homes of the Collas were around the seat of ancient civilization at Tiahuanacu.

A remarkable race, apart from the Incas and Collas, of darker complexion and more savage habits, dwelt and still dwell among the vast beds of reeds in the southwestern angle of Lake Titicaca. They are called Urus, and are probably descendants of an aboriginal people who occupied the Titicaca basin before the arrival of the Hatun-runas from the south. The Urus spoke a distinct language, called Puquina, specimens of which have been[227] preserved by Bishop Oré.[1168] The ancestors of the Urus may have been the cromlech builders, driven into the fastnesses of the lake when their country was occupied by the more powerful invaders, who erected the imperishable monuments at Tiahuanacu. These Urus are now lake-dwellers. Their homes consist of large canoes, made of the tough reeds which cover the shallow parts of the lake, and they live on fish, and on quinua and potatoes, which they obtain by barter.

North of Cuzco there were several allied tribes, resembling the Incas in physique and language, in a similar stage of civilization, and their rivals in power. Beyond the Apurimac, and inhabiting the valleys of the Andes thence to the Mantaro, was the important nation of the Chancas; and still further north and west, in the valley of the Xauxa, was the Huanca nation. Agricultural people and shepherds, forming ayllus, or tribes of the Chancas and Huancas, occupied the ravines of the maritime cordillera, and extended their settlements into several valleys of the seacoast, between the Rimac and Nasca. These coast people of Inca race, known as Chinchas, held their own against an entirely different nation, of distinct origin and language, who occupied the northern coast valleys from the Rimac to Payta, and also the great valley of Huarca (the modern Cañete), where they had Chincha enemies both to the north and south of them. These people were called Yuncas by their Inca conquerors. Their own name was Chimu, and the language spoken by them was called Mochica. But this question relating to the early inhabitants of the coast valleys of Peru, their origin and civilization, is the most difficult in ancient Peruvian history, and will require separate consideration.[1169]


[After a cut in Marcoy’s South America, i. 210 (also in Tour du Monde, 1863, p. 261), purporting to be drawn from a copy of the taffeta roll containing the pedigree of the Incas, which, in evidence of their claims, was sent by their descendants to the Spanish king in 1603. This genealogical record contained the likenesses of the successive Incas and their wives, and the original is said to have disappeared. Mr. Markham supposes this roll to have been the original of the portraits given in Herrera (see cut on p. 267 of the present volume); but they are not the same, if Marcoy’s cuts are trustworthy. A set of likenesses appeared in Ulloa’s Relacion Histórica (Madrid, 1748), iv. 604; and these were the originals of the series copied in the Gentleman’s Mag., 1751-1752, and thence are copied those in Ranking. These do not correspond with those given by Marcoy. See post, Vol. II., for a note on different series of portraits, and in the same volume, pp. 515, 516, are portraits of Atahualpa. A portrait of Manco Inca, killed 1546, is given in A. de Beauchamp’s Histoire de la Conquête du Pérou (Paris, 1808).—Ed.]

North of the Huanca nation, along the basin of the Marañon, there were tribes which were known to the Incas by their head-dresses. These were the Conchucus, Huamachucus, and Huacrachucus.[1170] Still further north, in the region of the equator, was the powerful nation of Quitus.

All these nations of the Peruvian Andes appear to have once formed part of the mighty prehistoric empire of the Pirhuas, and to have retained much of the civilization of their ancestors during the subsequent centuries of separate existence and isolation. This probably accounts for the ease with which the Incas established their system of religion and government throughout their new empire, after the conquests were completed. The subjugated nations spoke dialects of the same language, and inherited many of the usages and ideas of their conquerors. For the same reason they were pretty equally matched as foes, and the Incas secured the mastery only by dint of desperate fighting and great political sagacity. But finally they did establish their superiority, and founded a second great empire in Peru.

The history of the rise and progress of Inca power, as recorded by native[228] historians in their quipus, and retailed to us by Spanish writers, is, on the whole, coherent and intelligible. Many blunders were inevitable in conveying the information from the mouths of natives to the Spanish inquirers, who understood the language imperfectly, and whose objects often were to reach foregone conclusions. But certain broad historical facts are brought out by a comparison of the different authorities, the succession of the last ten sovereigns is determined by a nearly complete consensus of evidence, and we can now relate the general features of the rise of Inca ascendency in Peru with a certain amount of confidence.


[After a cut in Marcoy, i. 214.—Ed.]

The Inca people were divided into small ayllus, or lineages, when Manco Ccapac advanced down the valley of the Vilcamayu, from Paccari-tampu, and forced the ayllu of Alcaviza and the ayllu of Antasayac to submit to his sway. He formed the nucleus of his power at Cuzco, the land of these conquered ayllus, and from this point his descendants slowly extended their dominion. The chiefs of the surrounding ayllus, called Sinchi (literally, “strong”), either submitted willingly to the Incas, or were subjugated. Sinchi Rocca, the son, and Lloque Yupanqui, the grandson, of Manco, filled up a swamp on the site of the present cathedral of Cuzco, planned out the[229] city,[1171] and their reigns were mainly occupied in consolidating the small kingdom founded by their predecessor. Mayta Ccapac, the fourth Inca, was also occupied in consolidating his power round Cuzco; but his son, Ccapac Yupanqui, subdued the Quichuas to the westward, and extended his sway as far as the pass of Vilcañota, overlooking the Collao, or basin of Lake Titicaca. Inca Rocca, the next sovereign, made few conquests, devoting his attention to the foundation of schools, the organization of festivals and administrative government, and to the construction of public works. His son, named Yahuar-huaccac, appears to have been unfortunate. One authority says that he was surprised and killed, and all agree that his reign was disastrous. For seven generations the power and the admirable internal polity of the Incarial government had been gradually organized and consolidated within a limited area. The succeeding sovereigns were great conquerors, and their empire was rapidly extended to the vast area which it had reached when the Spaniards first appeared on the scene.


[One of the cuts which did service in the Antwerp editions of Cieza de Leon. There are various views in Squier’s Peru, pp. 427-445.—Ed.]

The son of Yahuar-huaccac assumed the name of the Deity, and called himself Uira-cocha.[1172] Intervening in a war between the two principal chiefs of the Collas, named Cari and Zapaña, Uira-cocha defeated them in detail, and annexed the whole basin of Lake Titicaca to his dominions. He also conquered the lovely valley of Yucay, on the lower course of the Vilcamayu, whither he retired to end his days. The eldest son of Uira-cocha, named Urco, was incompetent or unworthy, and was either obliged to abdicate[1173] in favor of his brother Yupanqui, the favorite hero of Inca history, or was slain.[1174] It was a moment when the rising empire needed the services of her ablest sons. She was about to engage in a death-struggle with a neighbor[230] as powerful and as civilized as herself. The kingdom of the Chancas, commencing on the banks of the Apurimac, extended far to the east and north, including many of the richest valleys of the Andes. Their warlike king, Uscavilca, had already subdued the Quichuas, who dwelt in the upper valleys of the Apurimac tributaries to the southward, and was advancing on Cuzco, when Yupanqui pushed aside the imbecile Urco, and seized the helm. The fate of the Incas was hanging on a thread. The story is one of thrilling interest as told in the pages of Betanzos, but all authorities dwell more or less on this famous Chanca war. The decisive battle was fought outside the Huaca-puncu, the sacred gate of Cuzco. The result was long doubtful. Suddenly, as the shades of evening were closing over the Yahuar-pampa,—“the field of blood,”—a fresh army fell upon the right flank of the Chanca host, and the Incas won a great victory. So unexpected was this onslaught that the very stones on the mountain sides were believed to have been turned into men. It was the armed array of the insurgent Quichuas who had come by forced marches to the help of their old masters. The memory of this great struggle was fresh in men’s minds when the Spaniards arrived, and as the new conquerors passed over the battlefield, on their way to Cuzco, they saw the stuffed skins of the vanquished Chancas set up as memorials by the roadside.


[After a cut given by Ruge, and showing figures from an old Peruvian painting.—Ed.]

The subjugation of the Chancas, with their allies the Huancas, led to a vast extension of the Inca empire, which now reached to the shores of the Pacific; and the last years of Yupanqui were passed in the conquest of the alien coast nation, ruled over by a sovereign known as the Chimu. Thus the reign of the Inca Yupanqui marks a great epoch. He beat down all rivals, and converted the Cuzco kingdom into a vast empire. He received the name of Pachacutec, or “he who changes the world,” a name which, according to Montesinos, had on eight previous occasions been conferred upon sovereigns of the more ancient dynasties.

Tupac Inca Yupanqui, the son and successor of Pachacutec, completed[231] the subjugation of the coast valleys, extended his conquests beyond Quito on the north and to Chile as far as the river Maule in the south, besides penetrating far into the eastern forests.

Huayna Ccapac, the son of Tupac Inca Yupanqui, completed and consolidated the conquests of his father. He traversed the valleys of the coast, penetrated to the southern limit of Chile, and fought a memorable battle on the banks of the “lake of blood” (Yahuar-cocha), near the northern frontier of Quito. After a long reign,[1175] the last years of which were passed in Quito, Huayna Ccapac died in November, 1525. His eldest legitimate son, named Huascar, succeeded him at Cuzco. But Atahualpa, his father’s favorite, was at Quito with the most experienced generals. Haughty messages passed between the brothers, which were followed by war. Huascar’s armies were defeated in detail, and eventually the generals of Atahualpa took the legitimate Inca prisoner, entered Cuzco, and massacred the family and adherents of Huascar.[1176] The successful aspirant to the throne was on his way to Cuzco, in the wake of his generals, when he encountered Pizarro and the Spanish invaders at Caxamarca. This war of succession would not, it is probable, have led to any revolutionary change in the general policy of the empire. Atahualpa would have established his power and continued to rule, just as his ancestor Pachacutec did, after the dethronement of his brother Urco.[1177]

The succession of the Incas from Manco Ccapac to Atahualpa was evidently well known to the Amautas, or learned men of the empire, and was recorded in their quipus with precision, together with less certain materials respecting the more ancient dynasties. Many blunders were committed by the Spanish inquirers in putting down the historical information received from the Amautas, but on the whole there is general concurrence among them.[1178] Practically the Spanish authorities agree, and it is clear that the[232] native annalists possessed a single record, while the apparent discrepancies are due to blunders of the Spanish transcribers. The twelve Incas from Manco Ccapac to Huascar may be received as historical personages whose deeds were had in memory at the time of the Spanish invasion, and were narrated to those among the conquerors who sought for information from the Amautas.

1240—Manco Ccapac.
1260—Sinchi Rocca.
1280—Lloque Yupanqui.
1300—Mayta Ccapac.
1320—Ccapac Yupanqui.
1340—Inca Rocca.
1400—Pachacutec Yupanqui.
1440—Tupac Yupanqui.
1480—Huayna Ccapac.
1523—Inti Cusi Hualpa, or Huascar.

The religion of the Incas consisted in the worship of the supreme being of the earlier dynasties, the Illa Ticsi Uira-cocha of the Pirhuas. This simple faith was overlaid by a vast mass of superstition, represented by the cult of ancestors and the cult of natural objects. To this was superadded the belief in the ideals or souls of all animated things, which ruled and guided them, and to which men might pray for help. The exact nature of this belief in ideals, as it presented itself to the people themselves, is not at all clear. It prevailed among the uneducated. Probably it was the idea to which dreams give rise,—the idea of a double nature, of a tangible and a phantom being, the latter mysterious and powerful, and to be propitiated. The belief in this double being was extended to all animated nature, for even the crops had their spiritual doubles, which it was necessary to worship and propitiate.

But the religion of the Incas and of learned men, or Amautas, was a worship of the Supreme Cause of all things, the ancient God of the Titicaca myth, combined with veneration for the sun[1179] as the ancestor of the reigning dynasty, for the other heavenly bodies, and for the malqui, or remains of their forefathers. This feeling of veneration for the sun, closely connected with the beneficent work of the venerated object as displayed in[233] the course of the seasons, led to the growth of an elaborate ritual and to the celebration of periodical festivals.

The weight of evidence is decisively in the direction of a belief on the part of the Incas that a Supreme Being existed, which the sun must obey, as well as all other parts of the universe. This subordination of the sun to the Creator of all things was inculcated by successive Incas. Molina says, “They did not know the sun as their Creator, but as created by the Creator.” Salcamayhua tells us how the Inca Mayta Ccapac taught that the sun and moon were made for the service of men, and that the chief of the Collas, addressing the Inca Uira-cocha, exclaimed, “Thou, O powerful lord of Cuzco, dost worship the teacher of the universe, while I, the chief of the Collas, worship the Sun.” The evidence on the subject of the religion of the Incas, collected by the Viceroy Toledo, showed that they worshipped the Creator of all things, though they also venerated the sun; and Montesinos mentions an edict of the Inca Pachacutec, promulgated with the object of enforcing the worship of the Supreme God above all other deities. The speech of Tupac Inca Yupanqui, showing that the sun was not God, but was obeying laws ordained by God, is recorded by Acosta, Blas Valera, and Balboa, and was evidently deeply impressed on the minds of their Inca informers. This Inca compared the sun to a tethered beast, which always makes the same round; or to a dart, which goes where it is sent, and not where it wishes. The prayers from the Inca ritual, given by Molina, are addressed to the god Ticsi Uira-cocha; the Sun, Moon, and Thunder being occasionally invoked in conjunction with the principal deity.

The worship of this creating God, the Dweller in Space, the Teacher and Ruler of the Universe, was, then, the religion of the Incas which had been inherited from their distant ancestry of the cyclopean age. Around this primitive cult had grown up a supplemental worship of creatures created by the Deity, such as the heavenly bodies, and of objects supposed to represent the first ancestors of ayllus, or tribes, as well as of the prototypes of things on whom man’s welfare depended, such as flocks and animals of the chase, fruit and corn. It has been asserted that the Deity, the Uira-cocha himself, did not generally receive worship, and that there was only one temple in honor of God throughout the empire, at a place called Pachacamac, on the coast. But this is clearly a mistake. The great temple at Cuzco, with its gorgeous display of riches, was called the “Ccuri-cancha Pacha-yachachicpa huasin,” which means “the place of gold, the abode of the Teacher of the Universe.” An elliptical plate of gold was fixed on the wall to represent the Deity, flanked on either side by metal representations of his creatures, the Sun and Moon. The chief festival in the middle of the year, called Ccapac Raymi, was instituted in honor of the supreme Creator, and when, from time to time, his worship began to be neglected by the people, who were apt to run after the numerous local deities, it was again and again enforced by their more enlightened rulers. There were Ccuri-canchas[234] for the service of God, at Vilca and in other centres of vice-regal rule, besides the grand fane of Cuzco.[1180]


[After a cut in Marcoy, i. p. 234, where it is said to be drawn from existing remains and printed and manuscript authorities. The modern structure of the convent of Santo Domingo, built in 1534, is at A, which contains in its construction some remains of the walls of the older edifice. B is a cloister. C, an outer court. D, fountains for purification. E are streets leading to the great square of Cuzco. F, the garden where golden flowers were once placed; now used as a kitchen garden. G, the chapel dedicated to the moon. H, chapel dedicated to Venus and the Milky Way. I, chapel dedicated to thunder and lightning. J, chapel dedicated to the rainbow. K, council hall of the grand pontiff and priests of the sun. L, the apartments of the priests and servants. See the view of the temple from Montanus in Vol. II. p. 555, and a modern view in Wiener’s. Pérou et Bolivie, p. 318. Other plans and views are in Squier’s Peru, pp. 430-445.—Ed.]

Although the first and principal invocations were addressed to the Creator, prayers were also offered up to the Sun and Moon, to the Thunder, and to ancestors who were called upon to intercede with the Deity.[1181] The latter worship formed a very distinctive feature in the religious observances of nearly all the Incarial tribes. The Paccarina, or forefather of the ayllu, or lineage, was often some natural object converted into a huaca, or deity. The Paccarina of the Inca family was the Sun; with his sister and spouse, the Moon. A vast hierarchy was set apart to conduct the ceremonies connected with their worship, and hundreds of virgins, called Aclla-cuna, were secluded and devoted to duties relating to the observances in the Sun temples. Worship was also offered to the actual bodies of the ancestors, called malqui, which were preserved with the greatest care, in caves called machay. On solemn festivals each ayllu assembled with its malqui. The bodies of the Incas were all preserved, clothed as when alive, and surrounded by their special furniture and utensils. Three of these Inca mummies, with two mummies of queens, were discovered by Polo de Ondegardo, then corregidor of Cuzco, in 1559, and were sent by him to Lima for interment. Those who saw them[1182] reported that they were so well preserved that they appeared to be alive; that they were in a sitting posture; that the eyes were[235] made of gold, and that they were arrayed in the insignia of their rank.[1183] The Paccarina, or founder of the family, and the malquis, or mummies of ancestors, thus formed the objects of a distinct belief and religion, based undoubtedly on the conviction that every human being has a spiritual as well as a corporeal existence; that the former is immortal, and that it is represented by the malqui. The appearance of the departed in dreams and visions was not an unreasonable ground for this belief, which certainly was the most deeply rooted of all the religious ideas of the Peruvian people. The paccarina, or ancestral deities, were innumerable. There was one or more that received worship in every tribe, and was represented by a rock, or some other natural object. Many were believed to be oracles. Some, such as Catequilla, or Apu-catequilla,[1184] the oracle of the Conchucu tribe, have[236] been brought into undue prominence through being mentioned by Spanish writers.


[After a drawing by Mr. Markham of the plate itself, made at Lima in 1853. Mr. Markham’s drawing is reproduced in Bollaert’s Antiquarian Researches, p. 146. The disk is 53/10 inches in diameter. The signs in the outer ring are supposed to represent the months.—Ed.]

Religious ceremonials were closely connected with the daily life of the people, and especially with the course of the seasons and the succession of months, as they affected the operations of agriculture. It was important to fix the equinoxes and solstices, and astronomical knowledge was a part of the priestly office. There were names for many of the stars; their motions were watched as well as those of the sun and moon; and though a record of the extent of the astronomical knowledge of the Incas has not been preserved, it is certain that they watched the time of the solstices and equinoxes with great care, and that they distinguished between the lunar and solar years. Pillars were erected to determine the time of the solstices, eight on the east and eight on the west side of Cuzco, in double rows, four and four, two low between two higher ones, twenty feet apart. They were called Sucanca, from suca, a ridge or furrow, the alternate light and shade between the pillars appearing like furrows. A stone column in the centre of a level platform, called Inti-huatana, was used to ascertain the time of the equinoxes. A line was drawn across the platform from east to west, and watch was kept to observe when the shadow of the pillar was on this line from sunrise to sunset, and there was no shadow at noon. The principal Inti-huatana was in the square before the great temple at Cuzco; but there are several others in different parts of Peru. The most perfect of these observatories is at Pissac, in the valley of Vilcamayu.[1185] There is another at Ollantay-tampu, a fourth near Abancay, and a fifth at Sillustani in the Collao.

There is reason to believe that the Incas used a zodiac with twelve signs, corresponding with the months of their solar year. The gold plates which they wore on their breasts were stamped with features representing the sun, surrounded by a border of what are probably either zodiacal signs or signs for the months. Whether the ecliptic, or huatana, was thus divided or not, it is certain that the sun’s motion was observed with great care, and that the calendar was thus fixed with some approach to accuracy.[1186] The year, or Huata, was divided into twelve Quilla, or moon revolutions, and these were made to correspond with the solar year by adding five days, which were divided among the twelve months. A further correction was made every fourth year. Solar observations were taken and recorded every month.

The year commenced on the 22d of June, with the winter solstice, and there were four great festivals at the occurrence of the solstices and equinoxes.[1187]


The celebrations of the solar year and of the seasons, in their bearings on agriculture, were identical with the chief religious observances. The Raymi, or festival of the winter solstice, in the first month, when the granaries were filled after harvest, was established in special honor of the Sun. Sacrifices of llamas and lambs, and of the first-fruits of the earth, were offered up to the images of the Supreme Being, of the Sun, and of Thunder, which were placed in the open space in front of the great temple; as well as to the huaca, or stone representing the brother of Manco Ccapac, on the hill of Huanacauri. There was also a procession of the priests and people as far as the pass of Vilcañota, leading into the basin of Lake Titicaca, sacrifices being offered up at various spots on the road. The sacrifices were accompanied by prayers, and concluded with songs, called huayllina, and dancing. Then followed the ploughing month, when it is said that the Inca himself opened the season by ploughing a furrow with a golden plough in the field behind the Colcampata palace, on the height above Cuzco.

The question here arises whether human sacrifices were offered up, in the Inca ritual. This has been stated by Molina, Cieza de Leon, Montesinos, Balboa, Ondegardo, and Acosta, and indignantly denied by Garcilasso de la Vega. Cieza de Leon admits that there were occasional human sacrifices, but adds that their numbers and the frequency of such offerings have been grossly exaggerated by the Spaniards. If the sacrifices had been offered under the idea of atonement or expiation, it might well be expected that human sacrifices would be included. Under such ideas, men offered up what they valued most, just as Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son, as Jephthah dedicated his daughter as a burnt-offering to Jehovah, and as the king of Moab sacrificed his eldest son to Chemosh.[1188] But, except in the Situa, when the idea was to efface sins by washing, the sacrifices of the Incas were offerings of thanksgiving, not of expiation or atonement. The mistake of the five writers who supposed that the Incas offered human sacrifices was due to their ignorance of the language.[1189] The perpetration of human[238] sacrifice was opposed to the religious ideas of the ancient Peruvians, and formed no part of their ceremonial worship. Their ritual was almost exclusively devoted to thanksgiving and rejoicings over the beneficence of their Deity. The notion of expiation formed no part of their creed, while the destruction involved in such a system was opposed to their economic and carefully regulated civil polity.[1190]

The second great festival, called Situa, was celebrated at the vernal equinox. This was the commencement of the rainy season, when sickness prevailed, and the object of the ceremony was to pray to the Creator to drive diseases and evils from the land. In the centre of the great square of Cuzco a body of four hundred warriors was assembled, fully armed for war. One hundred faced towards the Chincha-suyu road, one hundred faced towards Anti-suyu, one hundred towards Colla-suyu, and one hundred towards Cunti-suyu,—the four great divisions of the empire. The Inca and the high-priest, with their attendants, then came from the temple, and shouted, “Go forth all evils!” On the instant the warriors ran at great speed towards the four quarters, shouting the same sentence as they went, until they each came to another party, which took up the cry, and the last parties reached the banks of great rivers, the Apurimac or Vilcamayu, where they bathed and washed their arms. The rivers were supposed to carry the evils away to the ocean. As the warriors ran through the streets of Cuzco, all the people came to their doors, shaking their clothes, and shouting, “Let the evils be gone!” In the evening they all bathed; then they lighted great torches of straw, called pancurcu, and, marching in procession out of the city, they threw them into the rivers, believing that thus nocturnal evils were banished. At night, each family partook of a supper consisting of pudding made of[239] coarsely ground maize, called sancu, which was also smeared over their faces and the lintels of their doorways, then washed off and thrown into the rivers with the cry, “May we be free from sickness, and may no maladies enter our houses!” The huacas and malquis were also bathed at the feast of Situa. In the following days all the malquis were paraded, and there were sacrifices, with feasting and dancing. A stone fountain, plated with gold, stood in the great square of Cuzco, and the Inca, on this and other solemn festivals, poured chicha into it from a golden vase, which was conducted by subterranean pipes to the temple.

The third great festival at the summer solstice, called Huaracu, was the occasion on which the youths of the empire were admitted to a rank equivalent to knighthood, after passing through a severe ordeal. The Inca and his court were assembled in front of the temple. Thither the youths were conducted by their relations, with heads closely shorn, and attired in shirts of fine yellow wool edged with black, and white mantles fastened round their necks by woollen cords with red tassels. They made their reverences to the Inca, offered up prayers, and each presented a llama for sacrifice.[1191] Proceeding thence to the hill of Huanacauri, where the venerated huaca to Ayar Uchu was erected, they there received huaras, or breeches made of aloe fibres, from the priest. This completed their manly attire, and they returned home to prepare for the ordeal. A few days afterwards they were assembled in the great square, received a spear, called yauri, and usutas or sandals, and were severely whipped to prove their endurance. The young candidates were then sent forth to pass the night in a desert about a league from Cuzco. Next day they had to run a race. At the farther end of the course young girls were stationed, called ñusta-calli-sapa,[1192] with jars of chicha, who cried, “Come quickly, youths, for we are waiting!” but the course was a long one, and many fell before they reached the goal. They also had to rival each other in assaults and feats of arms. Finally their ears were bored, and they received ear-pieces of gold and other marks of distinction from the Inca. The last ceremony was that of bathing in the fountain called Calli-puquio. About eight hundred youths annually passed through this ordeal, and became adult warriors, at Cuzco, and similar ceremonies were performed in all the provinces of the empire.

In the month following on the summer solstice, there was a curious religious ceremony known as the water sacrifice. The cinders and ashes of all the numerous sacrifices throughout the year were preserved. Dams were constructed across the rivers which flow through Cuzco, in order that the water might rush down with great force when they were taken away. Prayers and sacrifices were offered up, and then a little after sunset all the ashes were thrown into the rivers and the dams were removed. Then the burnt-sacrifices were hurried down with the stream, closely followed by[240] crowds of people on either bank, with blazing torches, as far as the bridge at Ollantay-tampu. There two bags of coca were offered up by being hurled into the river, and thence the sacrifices were allowed to flow onwards to the sea. This curious ceremony seems to have been intended not only as a thank-offering to the Deity, but as an acknowledgment of his omnipresence. As the offerings flowed with the stream, they knew not whither, yet went to Him, so his pervading spirit was everywhere, alike in parts unknown as in the visible world of the Incas.

A sacred fire was kept alive throughout the year by the virgins of the sun, and the ceremony of its annual renewal at the autumnal equinox was the fourth great festival, called Mosoc-nina, or the “new fire.” Fire was produced by collecting the sun’s rays on a burnished metal mirror, and the ceremony was the occasion of prayers and sacrifices. The year ended with the rejoicing of the harvest months, accompanied by songs, dances, and other festivities.

Besides the periodical festivals, there were also religious observances which entered into the life of each family. Every household had one or more lares, called Conopa, representing maize, fruit, a llama, or other object on which its welfare depended. The belief in divination and soothsaying, the practice of fasting followed by confession, and worship of the family malqui, all gave employment to the priesthood.

The complicated religious ceremonies connected with the periodical festivals, the daily worship, and the requirements of private families gave rise to the growth of a very numerous caste of priests and diviners. The pope of this hierarchy, the chief pontiff, was called Uillac Umu, words meaning “The head which gives counsel,” he who repeats to the people the utterances of the Deity. He was the most learned and virtuous of the priestly caste, always a member of the reigning family, and next in rank to the Inca. The Villcas, equivalent to the bishops of a Christian hierarchy, were the chief priests in the provinces, and during the greatest extension of the empire they numbered ten. The ordinary ministers of religion were divided into sacrificers, worshippers and confessors, diviners, and recluses.[1193] It was[241] indeed inevitable that, with a complicated ritual and a gorgeous ceremonial worship, a populous class of priests and their assistants, of numerous grades and callings, should come into existence.[1194]

But the intellectual movement and vigor of the Incas were not confined to the priesthood. The Amautas or learned men, the poets and reciters of history, the musical and dramatic composers, the Quipu-camayoc, or recorders and accountants, were not necessarily, nor indeed generally, of the priestly caste. It is probable that the Amautas, or men of learning, formed a separate caste devoted to the cultivation of literature and the extension of the language. Our knowledge of their progress and of the character of their traditions and poetic culture is very limited, owing to the destruction of records and the loss of oral testimony. The language has been preserved, and that will tell us much; but only a few literary compositions have been saved from the wreck of the Inca empire. Quichua was the name given to the general language of the Incas by Friar Domingo de San Tomas, the first Spaniard who studied it grammatically, possibly owing to his having acquired it from people belonging to the Quichua tribe. The name continued to be used, and has been generally adopted.[1195] Garcilasso de la Vega speaks of a separate court language of the Incas, but the eleven words he gives as belonging to it are ordinary Quichua words, and I concur with Hervas and William von Humboldt in the conclusion that this court language[242] of Garcilasso had no real existence.[1196] It is not mentioned by any other authority.


[Following a sketch in Rivero and Tschudi, as reproduced by Helps. It shows a quipu found in an ancient cemetery near Pachacamac. There are other cuts in Wiener’s Pérou et Bolivie, p. 777; Tylor’s Early Hist. Mankind, 156; Kingsborough’s Mexico, vol. iv.; Silvestre’s Universal Palæography; and Léon de Rosny’s Écritures figuratives, Paris, 180. Cf. Acosta, vi. cap. 8, and other early authorities mentioned in Prescott (Kirk’s ed. i. 125); Markham’s Cieza, 291; D. Wilson’s Prehistoric Man, ii. ch. 18; Fourth Rept. Bureau of Ethnology (Washington), p. 79; Bollaert’s description in Memoirs read before the Anthropological Society of London, i. 188, and iii. 351; A. Bastian’s Culturländer des alten America, iii. 73; Brasseur de Bourbourg’s MS. Troano, i. 18; Stevens’s Flint Chips, 465; T. P. Thompson’s “Knot Records of Peru” in Westminster Review, xi. 228; but in the separate print called History of the Quipos, or Peruvian Knot-records, as given by the early Spanish Historians, with a Description of a supposed Specimen, assigned to Al. Strong by Leclerc, No. 2413. The description in Frezier’s Voyage to the South Sea (1717) is one of the earliest among Europeans. Leclerc, No. 2412, mentions a Letter a apologetica (Napoli, 1750), pertaining to the quipus, but seems uncertain as to its value.—Ed.]

It was the custom for the Yaravecs or Bards to recite the deeds of former Incas on public occasions, and these rhythmical narratives were orally preserved and handed down by the learned men. Cieza de Leon tells us that “by this plan, from the mouths of one generation the succeeding one was taught, and they could relate what took place five hundred years ago as if only ten years had passed. This was the order that was taken to prevent the great events of the empire from falling into oblivion.” These historical recitations and songs must have formed the most important part of Inca literature. One specimen of imaginative poetry has been preserved by Blas Valero, in which the thunder, followed by rain, is likened to a brother breaking his sister’s pitcher; just as in the Scandinavian mythology the legend which is the original source of our nursery rhyme of Jack and Jill employs the same imagery. Pastoral duties are embodied in some of the later Quichuan dramatic literature, and numerous love songs and yaravies, or elegies, have been handed down orally, or preserved in old manuscripts. The dances were numerous and complicated, and the Incas had many musical instruments.[1197] Dramatic representations, both of a tragic and comic character, were performed before the Inca court. The statement of Garcilasso de la Vega to this effect is supported by the independent evidence of Cieza de Leon and of Salcamayhua, and is placed beyond a doubt by the sentence of the judge, Areche, in 1781, who prohibited the celebration of these dramas by the Indians. Father Iteri also speaks of the “Quichua dramas transmitted to this day (1790) by an unbroken tradition.” But only one such drama has been handed down to our own time. It is entitled Ollantay, and records an historical event of the time of Yupanqui Pachacutec. In its present form, as regards division into scenes and stage directions, it shows later Spanish manipulation. The question of its antiquity has been much discussed; but the final result is that Quichua scholars believe most of its dialogues and speeches and all the songs to be remnants of the Inca period.


[After the plate in the Contrib. to N. Am. Ethnology, vol. v. (Powell’s survey, 1882), showing the trephined skull brought from Peru by Squier, in the Army Med. Museum, Washington. Squier in his Peru, p. 457, gives another cut, with comments of Broca and others in the appendix. Cf. in the same volume a paper on “Prehistoric Trephining and Cranial Amulets,” by R. Fletcher, and a paper on “Trephining in the Neolithic Period,” in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute, Nov., 1887. Cf. on Peruvian skulls Rudolf Virchow, in the third volume of the Necropolis of Ancon; T. J. Hutchinson in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute, iii. 311; iv. 2; Busk and Davis in Ibid. iii. 86, 94; Wilson’s Prehistoric Man, ii. ch. 20; C. C. Blake, in Transactions Ethnolog. Soc., n. s., ii. There are two collections of Peruvian skulls in the Peabody Museum at Cambridge, Mass.,—one presented by Squier, the other secured by the Haasler Expedition. (Cf. Reports VII. and IX. of the museum.) Wiener (L’Empire des Incas, p. 81) cites a long list of writers on the artificial deforming of the skull.—Ed.]

The system of record by the use of quipus, or knots, was primarily a method of numeration and of keeping accounts. To cords of various colors smaller lines were attached in the form of fringe, on which there were knots in an almost infinite variety of combination. The Quipu-camayoc, or accountant, could by this means keep records under numerous heads, and preserve the accounts of the empire. The quipus represented a far better system of keeping accounts than the exchequer tallies which were used in England for the same purpose as late as the early part of the present century. But the question of the extent to which historical events could be[243] recorded by this system of knots is a difficult one. We have the direct assertions of Montesinos, Salcamayhua, the anonymous Jesuit, Blas Valera, and others, that not only narratives, but songs, were preserved by means of the quipus. Von Tschudi believed that by dint of the uninterrupted studies of experts during several generations, the power of expression became developed more and more, and that eventually the art of the Quipu-camayoc reached a high state of perfection. It may reasonably be assumed that with some help from oral commentary, codes of laws, historical events, and even poems were preserved in the quipus. It was through this substitute for writing that Montesinos and the anonymous Jesuit received their lists of ancient dynasties, and Blas Valera distinctly says that the poem he has preserved was taken from quipus. Still it must have been rather a system of mnemonics than of complete record. Molina tells us that the events in the reigns of all the Incas, as well as early traditions, were represented by paintings on boards, in a temple near Cuzco, called Poquen cancha.

The diviners used certain incantations to cure the sick, but the healing art among the Incas was really in the hands of learned men. Those Amautas who devoted themselves to the study of medicine had, as Acosta bears testimony, a knowledge of the properties of many plants. The febrifuge virtues of the precious quinquina were, it is true, unknown, or only locally known. But the Amautas used plants with tonic properties for curing[244] fevers; and they were provided with these and other drugs by an itinerant caste, called Calahuayas or Charisanis, who went into the forests to procure them. The descendants of these itinerant doctors still wander over South America, selling drugs.[1198] The discovery of a skull in a cemetery at Yucay, which exhibits clear evidence of a case of trepanning before death, proves the marvellous advances made by the Incas in surgical science.


[After a drawing in Squier’s Primeval Monuments of Peru, p. 17, showing a wall of hewn stones, with an entrance. The enclosed rectangle is 65 feet on each side,—“a type of an advanced class of megalithic monuments by no means uncommon in the highlands of Peru.” Cf. Squier’s Peru, p. 354.—Ed.]

The sovereign was the centre of all civilization and all knowledge. All literary culture, all the religious ceremonial which had grown up with the extension of the empire, had the Inca for their centre, as well as all the military operations and all laws connected with civil administration. Originally but the Sinchi, or chief of a small ayllu, the greatness of successive Incas grew with the extension of their power, until at last they were looked upon almost as deities by their subjects. The greatest lords entered their presence in a stooping position and with a small burden on their backs. The imperial family rapidly increased. Each Inca left behind him numerous younger sons, whose descendants formed an ayllu, so that the later sovereigns were surrounded by a numerous following of their own kindred, from among whom able public servants were selected. The sovereign was[245] the “Sapallan Inca,” the sole and sovereign lord, and with good reason he was called Huaccha-cuyac, or friend of the poor.

Enormous wealth was sent to Cuzco as tribute from all parts of the empire, for the service of the court and of the temples. The special insignia of the sovereign were the llautu, or crimson fringe round the forehead, the wing feathers (black and white) of the alcamari, an Andean vulture, on the head, forming together the suntu paucar or sacred head-dress; the huaman champi, or mace, and the ccapac-yauri, or sceptre. His dress consisted of shirts of cotton, tunics of dyed cotton in patterns, with borders of small gold and silver plates or feathers, and mantles of fine vicuña wool woven and dyed. The Incas, as represented in the pictures at Cuzco,[1199] painted soon after the conquest, wore golden breastplates suspended round their necks, with the image of the sun stamped upon them;[1200] and the Ccoya, or queen, wore a large golden topu, or pin, with figures engraved on the head, which secured her lliclla, or mantle. All the utensils of the palace were of gold; and so exclusively was that precious metal used in the service of the court and the temple that a garden outside the Ccuri-cancha was planted with models of leaves, fruit, and stalks made of pure gold.[1201]



[After a cut in Ruge’s Gesch. des Zeital. der Entdeckungen. Squier explored the lake with Raimond in 1864-65, and bears testimony to the general accuracy of the survey by J. B. Pentland, British consul in Bolivia (1827-28 and 1837), published by the British admiralty; but Squier points out some defects of his survey in his Remarques sur la Géog. du Pérou, p. 14, and in Journal Amer. Geog. Soc., iii. There is another view in Wiener’s Pérou et Bolivie, p. 441. Cf. Markham’s Cieza de Leon, 370; Marcoy’s Voyage; Baldwin’s Ancient America, 228; and Philippson’s Gesch. des neu. Zeit., i. 240. Squier in his Peru (pp. 308-370) gives various views, plans of the ruins, and a map of the lake.—Ed.]

Two styles are discernible in Inca architecture. The earliest is an imitation of the cyclopean works of their ancestors on a smaller scale. The walls were built with polygonal-shaped stones with rough surfaces, but the stones were much reduced in size. Rows of doorways with slanting sides[247] and monolithic lintels adorn the façades; while recesses for huacas, shaped like the doorways, occur in the interior walls. Part of the palace called the Collcampata, at the foot of the Cuzco fortress, the buildings which were added to the cyclopean work at Ollantay tampu, the older portion of the Ccuri-cancha temple at Cuzco, the palaces at Chinchero and Rimac-tampu, are in this earlier style. The later style is seen mainly at Cuzco, where the stones are laid in regular courses. No one has described this superb masonry better than Squier.[1202] No cement or mortar of any kind was used, the edifices depending entirely on the accuracy of their stone-fitting for their stability. The palaces and temples were built round a court-yard, and a hall of vast dimensions, large enough for ceremonies on an extensive scale, was included in the plan of most of the edifices. These halls were 200 paces long by 50 to 60 broad. The dimensions of the Ccuri-cancha temple were 296 feet by 52, and the southwest end was apsidal. Serpents are carved in relief on some of the stones and lintels of the Cuzco palaces. Hence the palace of Huayna Ccapac is called Amaru-cancha.[1203] At Hatun-colla, near Lake Titicaca, there are two sandstone pillars, probably of Inca origin, which are very richly carved. They are covered with figures of serpents, lizards, and frogs, and with elaborate geometrical patterns. The height of the walls of the Cuzco edifices was from 35 to 40 feet, and the roofs were thatched. One specimen of the admirable thatching of the Incas is still preserved at Azangaro.


[One of the cuts which did service in the Antwerp editions of Cieza de Leon.—Ed.]

There are many ruins throughout Peru both in the earlier and later styles; some of them, such as those at Vilcashuaman and Huanuco el viejo, being of great interest. The Inca palace on the island in Lake Titicaca is a rectangular two-storied edifice, with numerous rooms having ceilings formed of flat overlapping stones, laid with great regularity. With its esplanade, beautiful terraced gardens, baths, and fountains, this Titicaca palace must have been intended for the enjoyment of beautiful scenery in comparative seclusion, like the now destroyed palace at Yucay, in the valley of the Vilcamayu.


An example of the improvement of architecture after Inca subjugation is shown in the curious burial-places, or chulpas, of the Collao, in the basin of Lake Titicaca. The earliest, as seen at Acora near the lake, closely resemble the rude cromlechs of Brittany. Next, roughly built square towers are met with, with vaults inside. Lastly, the chulpas at Sillustani are well-built circular towers, about 40 feet high and 16 feet in diameter at the base, widening as they rise. A cornice runs round each tower, about three fourths of the distance from the base to the summit. The stones are admirably cut and fitted in nearly even courses, like the walls at Cuzco. The interior circular vaults, which contained the bodies, were arched with overlapping stones, and a similar dome formed the roof of the towers.


The architectural excellence reached by the Incas, their advances in the other arts and in literature, and the imperial magnificence of their court and religious worship, imply the existence of an orderly and well-regulated administrative[249] system. An examination of their social polity will not disappoint even high expectations. The Inca, though despotic in theory, was bound by the complicated code of rules and customs which had gradually developed itself during the reigns of his ancestors. In his own extensive family, composed of Auqui[1204] and Atauchi,[1205] Palla[1206] and Ñusta,[1207] to the number of many hundreds,[1208] and in the Curacas[1209] and Apu-curacas[1210] of the conquered tribes, he had a host of able public servants to govern provinces, enter the priesthood, or command armies.


[After a sketch in Squier’s Primeval Monuments of Peru, Salem, 1870. He considers it an example of some of the oldest of human monuments, and is inclined to believe these chulpas, or burial monuments, to have been built by the ancestors of the Peruvians of the conquest in their earliest development.—Ed.]


[Reduced from a sketch in Squier’s Primeval Monuments of Peru, p. 7. They are situated in Bolivia, northeast of Lake Titicaca, and the cut shows a hill-fortress (pucura) and the round, flaring-top burial towers (chulpas). Cf. cut in Wiener’s Pérou et Bolivie, p. 538.—Ed.]

The empire was marked out into four great divisions, corresponding with the four cardinal points of a compass placed at Cuzco. To the north was[250] Chinchaysuyu, to the east Anti-suyu, to the west Cunti-suyu, and to the south Colla-suyu.


[After a cut in Squier’s Primeval Monuments of Peru, p. 9,—a square two-storied burial tower (chulpa) with hill-fortress (pucura) in the distance, situated east of Lake Titicaca. Cf. Squier’s Peru, p. 373.—Ed.]


[Sun-circles (Inti-huatana, where the sun is tied up), after a cut in Squier’s Primeval Monuments of Peru, p. 15. The nearer circle is 90 feet; the farther, which has a grooved outlying platform, is 150 feet in diameter. Cf. plan and views in Squier’s Peru, ch. 20.—Ed.]

The whole empire was called Ttahuantin-suyu, or the four united provinces. Each great province was governed by an Inca viceroy, whose title was Ccapac, or Tucuyricoc.[1211] The latter word means “He[251] who sees all.” Garcilasso describes the office as merely that of an inspector, whose duty it was to visit the province and report. Under the viceroy were the native Curacas, who governed the ayllus, or lineages. Each ayllu was divided into sections of ten families, under an officer called Chunca (10) camayu. Ten of these came under a Pachaca (100) camayu. Ten Pachacas formed a Huaranca (1,000) camayu, and the Hunu (10,000) camayu ruled over ten Huarancas. The Chunca of ten families was the unit of government, and each Chunca formed a complete community.[1212]


[Situated on the road from Milo to Huancayo. Reduced from an ink drawing given by Wiener in his L’Empire des Incas, pl. v.—Ed.]

The cultivable land belonged to the people in their ayllus, each Chunca being allotted a sufficient area to support its ten Purics and their dependants.[1213] The produce was divided between the government (Inca), the[252] priesthood (Huaca), and the cultivators or poor (Huaccha), but not in equal shares.[1214] In some parts the three shares were kept apart in cultivation, but as a rule the produce was divided at harvest time. The flocks of llamas were divided into Ccapac-llama, belonging to the state, and Huaccha-llama, owned by the people. Thus the land belonged to the ayllu, or tribe, and each puric, or able-bodied man, had a right to his share of the crop, provided that he had been present at the sowing. All those who were absent must have been employed in the service of the Inca or Huaca, and subsisted on the government or priestly share. Shepherds and mechanics were also dependent on those shares. Officers called Runay-pachaca annually revised the allotments, made the census, prepared statistics for the Quipu-camayoc, and sent reports to the Tucuyricoc. The Llacta-camayoc, or village overseer, announced the turns for irrigation and the fields to be cultivated when the shares were grown apart. These daily notices were usually given from a tower or terrace. There were also judges or examiners, called Taripasac,[1215] who investigated serious offences and settled disputes. Punishments for crimes were severe, and inexorably inflicted. It was also the duty of these officers, when a particular ayllu suffered any calamity through wars or natural causes, to allot contingents from surrounding ayllus to assist the neighbor in distress. There were similar arrangements when the completion or repair of any public work was urgent. The most cruel tax on the people consisted in the selection of the Aclla-cuna, or chosen maidens for the service of the Inca, and the church, or Huaca. This was done once a year by an ecclesiastical dignitary called the Apu-Panaca,[1216] or, according to one authority, the Hatun-uilca,[1217] who was deputy of the high-priest. Service under the Inca in all other capacities was eagerly sought for.

The industry and skill of the Peruvian husbandmen can scarcely alone account for the perfection to which they brought the science of agriculture. The administrative system of the Incas must share the credit. Not a spot of cultivable land was neglected. Towns and villages were built on rocky ground. Even their dead were buried in waste places. Dry wastes were irrigated, and terraces were constructed, sometimes a hundred deep, up the sides of the mountains. The most beautiful example of this terrace cultivation may still be seen in the “Andeneria,” or hanging gardens of the valley of Vilcamayu, near Cuzco. There the terraces, commencing with broad fields at the edge of the level ground, rise to a height of 1,500 feet, narrowing as they rise, until the loftiest terraces against the perpendicular mountain side are not more than two feet wide, just room for three or four rows[253] of maize. An irrigation canal, starting high up some narrow ravine at the snow level, is carried along the mountain side and through the terraces, flowing down from one to another.

Irrigation on a larger scale was employed not only on the desert coast, but to water the pastures and arable lands in the mountains, where there is rain for several months in the year. The channels were often of considerable size and great length. Mr. Squier says that he has followed them for days together, winding amidst the projections of hills, here sustained by high masonry walls, there cut into the living rock, and in some places conducted in tunnels through sharp spurs of an obstructing mountain. An officer knew the space of time necessary for irrigating each tupu, and each cultivator received a flow of water in accordance with the requirements of his land. The manuring of crops was also carefully attended to.[1218]

The result of all this intelligent labor was fully commensurate with the thought and skill expended. The Incas produced the finest potato crops the world has ever seen. The white maize of Cuzco has never been approached in size or in yield. Coca, now so highly prized, is a product peculiar to Inca agriculture, and its cultivation required extreme care, especially in the picking and drying processes. Ajï, or Chile pepper, furnished a new condiment to the Old World. Peruvian cotton is excelled only by Sea Island and Egyptian in length of fibre, and for strength and length of fibre combined is without an equal. Quinua, oca, aracacha, and several fruits are also peculiar to Peruvian agriculture.[1219]

The vast flocks of llamas[1220] and alpacas supplied meat for the people, dried charqui for soldiers and travellers, and wool for weaving cloth of every degree of fineness. The alpacas, whose unrivalled wool is now in such large demand, may almost be said to have been the creation of the Inca shepherds. They can only be reared by the bestowal on them of the most constant and devoted care. The wild huanacus and vicuñas were also sources of food and wool supply. No man was allowed to kill any wild animal in Peru, but there were periodical hunts, called chacu, in the different provinces, which were ordered by the Inca. On these occasions a wide area was surrounded by thousands of people, who gradually closed in towards the centre. They advanced, shouting and starting the game before them, and closed in, forming in several ranks until a great bag was secured. The females were released, with a few of the best and finest males. The rest were then shorn and also released, a certain proportion being killed for the sake of their flesh. The huanacu wool was divided among the people of the district, while the silky fleeces of the vicuña were reserved for the Inca. The Quipu-camayoc kept a careful record of the number caught, shorn, and killed.



[Cf. Humboldt’s account in Views of Nature, English transl., 393-95, 407-9, 412. Marcoy says the usual descriptions of the ancient roads are exaggerations (vol. i. 206).—Ed.]

The means of communication in so mountainous a country were an important department in the administration of the Incas. Excellent roads for foot passengers radiated from Cuzco to the remotest portions of the empire. The Inca roads were level and well paved, and continued for hundreds of leagues. Rocks were broken up and levelled when it was necessary, ravines were filled, and excavations were made in mountain sides. Velasco measured the width of the Inca roads, and found them to be from six to seven yards, sufficiently wide when only foot passengers used them. Gomara gives them a breadth of twenty-five feet, and says that they were paved with smooth stones. These measurements were confirmed by Humboldt as regards the roads in the Andes. The road along the coast was forty feet wide, according to Zarate. The Inca himself travelled in a litter, borne by mountaineers from the districts of Soras and Lucanas. Corpa-huasi, or rest-houses, were erected at intervals, and the government messengers, or chasquis, ran with wonderful celerity from one of these stations to another, where he delivered his message, or quipu, to the next runner. Thus news was brought to the central government from all parts of The empire with extraordinary rapidity, and the Inca ate fresh fish at Cuzco which had been[255] caught in the Pacific, three hundred miles away, on the previous day. Store-houses, with arms, clothing, and provisions for the soldiers, were also built at intervals along the roads, so that an army could be concentrated at any point without previous preparation.

Closely connected with the facilities for communication, which were so admirably established by the Incas, was the system of moving colonies from one part of the empire to another. The evils of minute subdivision were thus avoided, political objects were often secured, and the comfort of the people was increased by the exchange of products. The colonists were called mitimaes. For example, the people of the Collao, round Lake Titicaca, lived in a region where corn would not ripen, and if confined to the products of their native land they must have subsisted solely on potatoes, quinua, and llama flesh. But the Incas established colonies from their villages in the coast valleys of Tacna and Moquegua, and in the forests to the eastward. There was constant intercourse, and while the mother country supplied chuñus or preserved potatoes, charqui or dried meat, and wool to the colonists, there came back in return, corn and fruits and cotton cloth from the coast, and the beloved coca from the forests.

Military colonies were also established on the frontiers, and the armies of the Incas, in their marches and extensive travels, promoted the circulation of knowledge, while this service also gave employment to the surplus agricultural population. Soldiers were brought from all parts of the empire, and each tribe or ayllu was distinguished by its arms, but more especially by its head-dress. The Inca wore the crimson llautu, or fringe; the Apu, or general, wore a yellow llautu. One tribe wore a puma’s head; the Cañaris were adorned with the feathers of macaws, the Huacrachucus with the horns of deer, the Pocras and Huamanchucus with a falcon’s wing feathers. The arms of the Incas and Chancas consisted of a copper axe, called champi; a lance pointed with bronze, called chuqui; and a pole with a bronze or stone head in the shape of a six-pointed star, used as a club, called macana. The Collas and Quichuas came with slings and bolas, the Antis with bows and arrows. Defensive armor consisted of a hualcanca or shield, the umachucu or head-dress, and sometimes a breastplate. The perfect order prevailing in civil life was part of the same system which enforced strict discipline in the army; and ultimately the Inca troops were irresistible against any enemy that could bring an opposing force into the field. Only when the Incas fought against each other, as in the last civil war, could the result be long doubtful.


[Reproduction of a cut in Benzoni’s Historia del Mondo Nuovo (1565). Cf. D. Wilson’s Prehistoric Man, i. ch. 9, on the Peruvian metal-workers.—Ed.]


[The tripod in this group is from Panama, the others are Peruvian. This cut follows an engraving in Wilson’s Prehistoric Man, ii. 41. There are numerous cuts in Wiener, p. 589, etc. Cf. Stevens’s Flint Chips, p. 271.—Ed.]


[After a cut in Wilson’s Prehistoric Man, ii. 45; showing a cup of the Beckford collection. “There is an individuality in the head, at once suggestive of portraiture.”—Ed.]

The artificers engaged in the numerous arts and on public works subsisted on the government share of the produce. The artists who fashioned the stones of the Sillustani towers or of the Cuzco temple with scientific accuracy before they were fixed in their places, were wholly devoted to their art. Food and clothing had to be provided for them, and for the miners, weavers, and potters. Gold was obtained by the Incas in immense quantities by washing the sands of the rivers which flowed through the forest-covered[256] province of Caravaya. Silver was extracted from the ore by means of blasting-furnaces called huayra; for, although quicksilver was known and used as a coloring material, its properties for refining silver do not appear to have been discovered. Copper was abundant in the Collao and in Charcas, and tin was found in the hills on the east side of Lake Titicaca, which enabled the Peruvians to use bronze very extensively.[1221] Lead was[257] also known to them. Skilful workers in metals fashioned the vases and other utensils for the use of the Inca and of the temples, forged the arms of the soldiers and the implements of husbandry, and stamped or chased the ceremonial breastplates, topus, girdles, and chains. The bronze and copper warlike instruments, which were star-shaped and used as clubs, fixed at the ends of staves, were cast in moulds. One of these club-heads, now in the Cambridge collection, has six rays, broad and flat, and terminating in rounded points. Each ray represents a human head, the face on one surface and the hair and back of the head on the other. This specimen was undoubtedly cast in a mould. “It is,” says Professor Putnam, “a good illustration of the knowledge which the ancient Peruvians had of the methods of working metals and of the difficult art of casting copper.”[1222]


[After a cut in Wiener, Pérou et Bolivie, p. 65.—Ed.]

Spinning, weaving, and dyeing were arts which were sources of employment to a great number of people, owing to the quantity and variety of the fabrics for which there was a demand. There were rich dresses interwoven with gold or made of gold thread; fine woollen mantles, or tunics, ornamented with borders of small square gold and silver plates; colored cotton cloths worked in complicated patterns; and fabrics of aloe fibre and sheeps’ sinews for breeches. Coarser cloths of llama wool were also made in vast quantities. But the potters art was perhaps the one which exercised the inventive faculties of the Peruvian artist to the greatest extent. The silver and gold utensils, with the exception of a very few cups and vases, have nearly all been melted down. But specimens of pottery, found buried with the dead in great profusion, are abundant. They are to be seen in every museum, and at Berlin and Madrid the collections are very large.[1223] Varied as are the forms to be found in the pottery of the Incas, and elegant as are many of the designs, it must be acknowledged that they are inferior in these respects to the specimens of the plastic art of the Chimu and other people of the Peruvian coast. The Incas, however, displayed a considerable play of fancy in their[258] designs. Many of the vases were moulded into forms to represent animals, fruit, and corn, and were used as conopas, or household gods. Others took the shape of human heads or feet, or were made double or quadruple, with a single neck branching from below. Some were for interment with the malquis, others for household use.[1224] Professor Wilson, who carefully examined several collections of ancient Peruvian pottery, formed a high opinion of their merit. “Some of the specimens,” he wrote, “are purposely grotesque, and by no means devoid of true comic fancy; while, in the greater number, the endless variety of combinations of animate and inanimate forms, ingeniously rendered subservient to the requirements of utility, exhibit fertility of thought in the designer, and a lively perceptive faculty in those for whom he wrought.”[1225]

There is a great deal more to learn respecting this marvellous Inca civilization. Recent publications have, within the last few years, thrown fresh and unexpected light upon it. There may be more information still undiscovered or[259] inedited. As yet we can understand the wonderful story only imperfectly, and see it by doubtful lights. Respecting some questions, even of the first importance, we are still able only to make guesses and weigh probabilities. Yet, though there is much that is uncertain as regards historical and other points, we have before us the clear general outlines of a very extraordinary picture. In no other part of America had civilization attained to such a height among indigenous races. In no other part of the world has the administration of a purely socialistic government been attempted. The Incas not only made the attempt, but succeeded.


THE student of Inca civilization will first seek for information from those Spanish writers who lived during or immediately after the Spanish conquest. They were able to converse with natives who actually flourished before the disruption of the Inca empire, and who saw the working of the Inca system before the destruction and ruin had well commenced. He will next turn to those laborious inquirers and commentators who, although not living so near the time, were able to collect traditions and other information from natives who had carefully preserved all that had been handed down by their fathers.[1226] These two classes include the writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The authors who have occupied themselves with the Quichua language and the literature of the Incas have produced works a knowledge of which is essential to an adequate study of the subject.[1227] Lastly, a consideration of the publications of modern travellers and scholars, who throw light on the writings of early chroniclers, or describe the present appearance of ancient remains, will show the existing position of a survey still far from complete, and the interest and charm of which invite further investigation and research.

Foremost in the first class of writers on Peru is Pedro de Cieza de Leon. A general account of his works will be found elsewhere,[1228] and the present notice will therefore be confined to an estimate of the labors of this author, so far as they relate to Inca history and civilization. Cieza de Leon conceived the desire to write an account of the strange things that were to be seen in the New World, at an early period of his service as a soldier. “Neither fatigue,” he tells us, “nor the ruggedness of the country, nor the mountains and rivers, nor intolerable hunger and suffering, have ever been sufficient to obstruct my two duties, namely, writing and following my flag and my captain without fault.” He finished the First Part of his chronicle in September, 1550, when he was thirty-two years of age. It is mainly a geographical description of the country, containing many pieces of information, such as the account of the Inca roads and bridges, which are of great value. But it is to the Second Part that we owe much of our knowledge of Inca civilization. From incidental notices we learn how diligently young Cieza de Leon studied the history and government of the Incas, after he had written his picturesque description of the country in his First Part. He often asked the Indians what they knew of their condition before the Incas became their lords. He inquired into the traditions of the people from the chiefs of the villages. In 1550 he went to Cuzco with the express purpose of collecting information, and conferred diligently with one of the surviving descendants of the Inca Huayna Ccapac. Cieza de Leon’s plan, for the second part of his work, was first to review the system of government of the Incas, and then to narrate the events of the reign of each sovereign. He spared no pains to obtain the best and most authentic information, and his sympathy with the conquered people, and generous appreciation of their many good and noble qualities, give a special charm to his narrative. He bears striking evidence to the historical faculty possessed by the learned men at the court of the Incas. After saying that on the death of a sovereign the chroniclers related the events of his reign to his successor, he adds: “They could well do this, for there were among[260] them some men with good memories, sound judgments, and subtle genius, and full of reasoning power, as we can bear witness who have heard them even in these our days.” Cieza de Leon is certainly one of the most important authorities on Inca history and civilization, whether we consider his peculiar advantages, his diligence and ability, or his character as a conscientious historian.

Juan José de Betanzos, like Cieza de Leon, was one of the soldiers of the conquest. He married a daughter of Atahualpa, and became a citizen at Cuzco, where he devoted his time to the study of Quichua. He was appointed official interpreter to the Audience and to successive viceroys, and he wrote a Doctrina and two vocabularies which are now lost. In 1558 he was appointed by the viceroy Marquis of Cañete, to treat with the Inca Sayri Tupac,[1229] who had taken refuge in the fastness of Vilcabamba; and by the Governor Lope Garcia de Castro, to conduct a similar negotiation with Titu Cusi Yupanqui, the brother of Sayri Tupac. He was successful in both missions. He wrote his most valuable work, the Suma y Narracion de los Incas, which was finished in the year 1551, by order of the Viceroy Don Antonio de Mendoza, but its publication was prevented by the death of the viceroy. It remained in manuscript, and its existence was first made known by the Dominican monk Gregorio Garcia in 1607, whose own work will be referred to presently. Garcia said that the history of Betanzos relating to the origin, descent, succession, and wars of the Incas was in his possession, and had been of great use to him. Leon Pinelo and Antonio also gave brief notices of the manuscript, but it is only twice cited by Prescott. The great historian probably obtained a copy of a manuscript in the Escurial, through Obadiah Rich. This manuscript is bound up with the second part of Cieza de Leon. It is not, however, the whole work which Garcia appears to have possessed, but only the first eighteen chapters, and the last incomplete. Such as it is, it was edited and printed for the Biblioteca Hispano-Ultramarina, by Don Márcos Jiménez de la Espada, in 1880.[1230]

The work of Betanzos differs from that of Cieza de Leon, because while the latter displays a diligence and discretion in collecting information which give it great weight as an authority, the former is imbued with the very spirit of the natives. The narrative of the preparation of young Yupanqui for the death-struggle with the Chancas is life-like in its picturesque vigor. Betanzos has portrayed native feeling and character as no other Spaniard has, or probably could have done. Married to an Inca princess, and intimately conversant with the language, this most scholarly of the conquerors is only second to Cieza de Leon as an authority. The date of his death is unknown.

Betanzos and Cieza de Leon, with Pedro Pizarro, are the writers among the conquerors whose works have been preserved. But these three martial scholars by no means stand alone among their comrades as authors. Several other companions of Pizarro wrote narratives, which unfortunately have been lost.[1231] It is indeed surprising that the desire to record some account of the native civilization they had discovered should have been so prevalent among the conquerors. The fact scarcely justifies the term “rude soldiery,” which is so often applied to the discoverers of Peru.

The works of the soldier conquerors are certainly not less valuable than those of the lawyers and priests who followed on their heels. Yet these latter treat the subject from somewhat different points of view, and thus furnish supplemental information. The works of four lawyers of the era of the conquest have been preserved, and those of another are lost. Of these, the writings of the Licentiate Polo de Ondegardo are undoubtedly the most important. This learned jurist accompanied the president, La Gasca, in his campaign against Gonzalo Pizarro, having arrived in Peru a few years previously, and he subsequently occupied the post of corregidor at Cuzco. Serving under the Viceroy Don Francisco[261] de Toledo, he was constantly consulted by that acute but narrow-minded statesman. His duties thus led Polo de Ondegardo to make diligent researches into the laws and administration of the Incas, with a view to the adoption of all that was applicable to the new régime. But his knowledge of the language was limited, and it is necessary to receive many of his statements with caution. His two Relaciones, the first dedicated to the Viceroy Marques de Cañete (1561), and the second finished in 1570,[1232] are in the form of answers to questions on financial revenue and other administrative points. They include information respecting the social customs, religious rites, and laws of the Incas. These Relaciones are still in manuscript. Another report by Polo de Ondegardo exists in the National Library at Madrid,[1233] and has been translated into English for the Hakluyt Society.[1234] In this treatise the learned corregidor describes the principles on which the Inca conquests were made, the division and tenures of land, the system of tribute, the regulations for preserving game and for forest conservancy, and the administrative details. Here and there he points out a way in which the legislation of the Incas might be imitated and utilized by their conquerors.[1235]

Agustin de Zarate, though a lawyer by profession, had been employed for some years in the financial department of the Spanish government before he went out to Peru with the Viceroy Blasco Nuñez to examine into the accounts of the colony. On his return to Spain he was entrusted with a similar mission in Flanders. His Provincìa del Peru was first published at Antwerp in 1555.[1236] Unacquainted with the native languages, and ignorant of the true significance of much that he was told, Zarate was yet a shrewd observer, and his evidence is valuable as regards what came under his own immediate observation. He gives one of the best descriptions of the Inca roads.

The Relacion of Fernando de Santillan is a work which may be classed with the reports of Polo de Ondegardo, and its author had equal advantages in collecting information. Going out to Peru as one of the judges of the Audiencia in 1550,[1237] Santillan was for a short time at the head of the government, after the death of the Viceroy Mendoza, and he took the field to suppress the rebellion of Giron. He afterwards served in Chile and at Quito, where he was commissioned to establish the court of justice. Returning to Spain, he took orders, and was appointed Bishop of the La Plata, but died at Lima, on his way to his distant see, in 1576. The Relacion of Santillan remained in manuscript, in the library of the Escurial, until it was edited by Don Márcos Jiménez de la Espada in 1879. This report appears to have been prepared in obedience to a decree desiring the judges of Lima to examine aged and learned Indians regarding the administrative system of the Incas. The report of Santillan is mainly devoted to a discussion of the laws and customs relating to the collection of tribute. He bears testimony to the excellence of the Inca government, and to the wretched condition to which the country had since been reduced by Spanish misrule.

The work of the Licentiate Juan de Matienzo, a contemporary of Ondegardo, entitled Gobierno de el Peru, is still in manuscript. Like Santillan and Ondegardo, Matienzo discusses the ancient institutions with a view to the organization of the best possible system under Spanish rule.[1238]

Melchor Bravo de Saravia, another judge of the Royal Audience at Lima, and a contemporary of Santillan, is said to have written a work on the antiquities of Peru; but it is either lost or has not yet been placed within reach of the student. It is referred to by Velasco. Cieza de Leon mentions, at the end of his Second Part, that his own work had been perused by the learned judges Hernando de Santillan and Bravo de Saravia.

While the lawyers turned their attention chiefly to the civil administration of the conquered people, the priests naturally studied the religious beliefs and languages of the various tribes, and collected their historical traditions. The best and most accomplished of these sacerdotal authors appears to have been Blas Valera, judging from the fragments of his writings which have escaped destruction. He was a native of Peru, born at Chachapoyas in 1551, where his father, Luis Valera,[1239] one of the early conquerors, had settled. Young Blas was received into the Company of Jesus at Lima when only seventeen years of age, and, as he was of Inca race on the mother’s side, he soon became useful at the College in Cuzco from his proficiency in the native languages. He did missionary work in the surrounding villages, and acquired a profound knowledge of the history and institutions of the Incas. Eventually he completed a work on the subject in Latin, and was sent to Spain by his[262] Jesuit superiors with a view to its publication. Unfortunately the greater part of his manuscript was burnt at the sack of Cadiz by the Earl of Essex in 1596, and Blas Valera himself died shortly afterwards. The fragments that were rescued fell into the hands of Garcilasso de la Vega, who translated them into Spanish, and printed them in his Commentaries. It is to Blas Valera that we owe the preservation of two specimens of Inca poetry and an estimate of Inca chronology. He has also recorded the traditional sayings of several Inca sovereigns, and among his fragments there are very interesting chapters on the religion, the laws and ordinances, and the language of the Incas, and on the vegetable products and medicinal drugs of Peru. These fragments are evidence that Blas Valera was an elegant scholar, a keen observer, and thoroughly master of his subject. They enhance the feeling of regret at the irreparable loss that we have sustained by the destruction of the rest of his work.

Next to Blas Valera, the most important authority on Inca civilization, among the Spanish priests who were in Peru during the sixteenth century, is undoubtedly Christoval de Molina. He was chaplain to the hospital for natives at Cuzco, and his work was written between 1570 and 1584, the period embraced by the episcopate of Dr. Sebastian de Artaun, to whom it is dedicated. Molina gives minute and detailed accounts of the ceremonies performed at all the religious festivals throughout the year, with the prayers used by the priests on each occasion. Out of the fourteen prayers preserved by Molina, four are addressed to the Supreme Being, two to the sun, the rest to these and other deities combined. His mastery of the Quichua language, his intimacy with the native chiefs and learned men, and his long residence at Cuzco give Molina a very high place as an authority on Inca civilization. His work has remained in manuscript,[1240] but it has been translated into English and printed for the Hakluyt Society.[1241]

Molina, in his dedicatory address to Bishop Artaun, mentions a previous narrative which he had submitted, on the origin, history, and government of the Incas. Fortunately this account was preserved by Miguel Cavello Balboa, an author who wrote at Quito between 1576 and 1586. Balboa, a soldier who had taken orders late in life, went out to America in 1566, and settled at Quito, where he devoted himself to the preparation and writing of a work which he entitled Miscellanea Austral. It is in three parts; but only the third, comprising about half the work, relates to Peru. Balboa tells us that his authority for the early Inca traditions and history was the learned Christoval de Molina, and this gives special value to Balboa’s work. Moreover, Balboa is the only authority who gives any account of the origin of the coast people, and he also supplies a detailed narrative of the war between Huascar and Atahualpa. The portion relating to Peru was translated into French and published by Ternaux Compans in 1840.[1242]

The Jesuits who arrived in Peru during the latter part of the sixteenth century were devoted to missionary labors, and gave an impetus to the study of the native languages and history. Among the most learned was José de Acosta, who sailed for Peru in 1570. At the early age of thirty-five, Acosta was chosen to be Provincial of the Jesuits in Peru, and his duties required him to travel over every part of the country. His great learning, which is displayed in his various theological works, qualified him for the task of writing his Natural and Moral History of the Indies, the value of which is increased by the author’s personal acquaintance with the countries and their inhabitants. Acosta went home in the Spanish fleet of 1587, and his first care, on his return to Spain, was to make arrangements for the publication of his manuscripts. The results of his South American researches first saw the light at Salamanca, in Latin, in 1588 and 1589. The complete work in Spanish, Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias, was published at Seville in 1590. Its success was never doubtful.[1243] In his latter years Acosta presided over the Jesuits’ College at Salamanca, where he died in his sixtieth year, on February 15, 1600.[1244] In spite of the learning and diligence of Acosta and of the great popularity of his work, it cannot be considered one of the most valuable contributions towards a knowledge of Inca civilization. The information it contains is often inaccurate, the details are less complete than in most of the other works written soon after the conquest,[1245] and a want of knowledge of the language[263] is frequently made apparent. The best chapters are those devoted to the animal and vegetable products of Peru; and Feyjoo calls Acosta the Pliny of the New World.[1246]

The Licentiate Fernando Montesinos, a native of Osuna, was one of the most diligent of all those who in early times made researches into the history and traditions of the Incas. Montesinos went out in the fleet which took the Viceroy Count of Chinchon to Peru, arriving early in the year 1629. Having landed at Payta, Montesinos travelled southwards towards the capital until he reached the city of Truxillo. At that time Dr. Carlos Marcelino Corni was Bishop of Truxillo.[1247] Hearing of the virtue and learning of Montesinos, Dr. Corni begged that he might be allowed to stop at Truxillo, and take charge of the Jesuits’ College which the good bishop had established there. Montesinos remained at Truxillo until the death of Bishop Corni, in October, 1629,[1248] and then proceeded to Potosi, where he gave his attention to improvements in the methods of extracting silver. He wrote a book on the subject, which was printed at Lima, and also compiled a code of ordinances for mines with a view to lessening disputes, which was officially approved. Returning to the capital, he lived for several years at Lima as chaplain of one of the smaller churches, and devoted all his energies to the preparation of a history of Peru. Making Lima his headquarters, the indefatigable student undertook excursions into all parts of the country, wherever he heard of learned natives to be consulted, of historical documents to be copied, or of information to be found. He travelled over 1,500 leagues, from Quito to Potosi. In 1639 he was employed to write an account of the famous Auto de Fé which was celebrated at Lima in that year. His two great historical works are entitled Memorias Antiguas Historiales del Peru, and Anales ó Memorias Nuevas del Peru.[1249] From Lima Montesinos proceeded to Quito as “Visitador General,” with very full powers conferred by the bishop.

The work of Montesinos remained in manuscript until it was translated into French by M. Ternaux Compans in 1840, with the title Mémoires Historiques sur l’ancien Pérou. In 1882 the Spanish text was very ably edited by Don Márcos Jiménez de la Espada.[1250] Montesinos gives the history of several dynasties which preceded the rise of the Incas, enumerating upwards of a hundred sovereigns. He professes to have acquired a knowledge of the ancient records through the interpretations of the quipus, communicated to him by learned natives. It was long supposed that the accounts of these earlier sovereigns received no corroboration from any other authority. This furnished legitimate grounds for discrediting Montesinos. But a narrative, as old or older than that of the licentiate, has recently been brought to light, in which at least two of the ancient sovereigns in the lists of Montesinos are incidentally referred to. This circumstance alters the aspect of the question, and places the Memorias Antiquas del Peru in a higher position as an authority; for it proves that the very ancient traditions which Montesinos professed to have received from the natives had previously been communicated to one other independent inquirer at least.

This independent inquirer is an author whose valuable work has recently been edited by Don Márcos Jiménez de la Espada.[1251] His narrative is anonymous, but internal evidence establishes the fact that he was a Jesuit, and probably one of the first who arrived in Peru in 1568, although he appears to have written his work many years[264] afterwards. The anonymous Jesuit supplies information respecting works on Peruvian civilization which are lost to us. He describes the temples, the orders of the priesthood, the sacrifices and religious ceremonies, explaining the origin of the erroneous statement that human sacrifices were offered up. He also gives the code of criminal law and the customs which prevailed in civil life, and concludes his work with a short treatise on the conversion of the Indians.

The efforts of the viceroys and archbishops of Lima during the early part of the seventeenth century to extirpate idolatry, particularly in the province of Lima, led to the preparation of reports by the priests who were entrusted with the duty of extirpation, which contain much curious information. These were the Fathers Hernando de Avendaño, Francisco de Avila, Luis de Teruel, and Pablo José de Arriaga. Avendaño, in addition to his sermons in Quichua, wrote an account of the idolatries of the Indians,—Relacion de las Idolatrias de los Indios,—which is still in manuscript. Avila was employed in the province of Huarochiri, and in 1608 he wrote a report on the idols and superstitions of the people, including some exceedingly curious religious legends. He appears to have written down the original evidence from the mouths of the Indians in Quichua, intending to translate it into Spanish. But he seems to have completed only six chapters in Spanish; or perhaps the translation is by another hand. There are still thirty-one chapters in Quichua awaiting the labors of some learned Peruvian scholar. Rising Quichua students, of whom there are not a few in Peru, could undertake no more useful work. This important report of Avila is comprised in a manuscript volume in the National Library at Madrid, and the six Spanish chapters have been translated and printed for the Hakluyt Society.[1252] Teruel was the friend and companion of Avila. He also wrote a treatise on native idolatries,[1253] and another against idolatry,[1254] in which he discusses the origin of the coast people. Arriaga wrote a still more valuable work on the extirpation of idolatry, which was printed at Lima in 1621, and which relates the religious beliefs and practices of the people in minute detail.[1255]

Antiquarian treasures of great value are buried in the works of ecclesiastics, the principal objects of which are the record of the deeds of one or other of the religious fraternities. The most important of these is the Coronica Moralizada del orden de San Augustin en el Peru; del Padre Antonio de la Calancha (1638-1653),[1256] which is a precious storehouse of details respecting the manners and customs of the Indians and the topography of the country. Calancha also gives the most accurate Inca calendar. Of less value is the chronicle of the Franciscans, by Diego de Cordova y Salinas, published at Madrid in 1643.

A work, the title of which gives even less promise of containing profitable information, is the history of the miraculous image of a virgin at Copacabana, by Fray Alonso Ramos Gavilan. Yet it throws unexpected light on the movements of the mitimaes, or Inca colonists; it gives fresh details respecting the consecrated virgins, the sacrifices, and the deities worshipped in the Collao, and supplies another version of the Inca calendar.[1257]

The work on the origin of the Indians of the New World, by Fray Gregorio Garcia,[1258] who travelled extensively in the Spanish colonies, is valuable, and to Garcia we owe the first notice of the priceless narrative of Betanzos. His separate work on the Incas is lost to us.[1259] Friar Martin de Múrua, a native of Guernica, in Biscay, was an ecclesiastic of some eminence in Peru. He wrote a general history of the Incas, which was copied by Dr. Muñoz for his collection, and Leon Pinelo says that the manuscript was illustrated with colored drawings of insignia and dresses, and portraits of the Incas.[1260]

The principal writers on Inca civilization in[265] the century immediately succeeding the conquest, of the three different professions,—soldiers, lawyers, and priests,—have now been passed in review. Attention must next be given to the native writers who followed in the wake of Blas Valera. First among these is the Inca Garcilasso de la Vega, an author whose name is probably better known to the general reader than that of any other who has written on the same subject. Among the Spanish conquerors who arrived in Peru in 1534 was Garcilasso de la Vega, a cavalier of very noble lineage,[1261] who settled at Cuzco, and was married to an Inca princess named Chimpa Ocllo, niece of the Inca Huayna Ccapac. Their son, the future historian, was born at Cuzco in 1539, and his earliest recollections were connected with the stirring events of the civil war between Gonzalo Pizarro and the president La Gasca, in 1548. His mother died soon afterwards, probably in 1550, and his father married again. The boy was much in the society of his mother’s kindred, and he often heard them talk over the times of the Incas, and repeat their historical traditions. Nor was his education neglected; for the good Canon Juan de Cuellar read Latin with the half-caste sons of the citizens of Cuzco for nearly two years, amidst all the turmoil of the civil wars. As he grew up, he was employed by his father to visit his estates, and he travelled over most parts of Peru. The elder Garcilasso de la Vega died in 1560, and the young orphan resolved to seek his fortune in the land of his fathers. On his arrival in Spain he received patronage and kindness from his paternal relatives, became a captain in the army of Philip II, and when he retired, late in life, he took up his abode in lodgings at Cordova, and devoted himself to literary pursuits. His first production was a translation from the Italian of “The Dialogues of Love,” and in 1591 he completed his narrative of the expedition of Hernando de Soto to Florida.[1262]


[After a cut in Marcoy, i. 219. Cf. Squier’s Peru, p. 449.—Ed.]

As years rolled on, the Inca began to think more and more of the land of his birth. The memory of his boyish days, of the long evening chats with his Inca relations, came back to him in his old age. He was as proud of his maternal descent from the mighty potentates of Peru as of the old Castilian connection on his father’s side. It would seem that the appearance of several books on the subject of his native land finally induced him to undertake a work in which, while recording its own reminiscences and the information he might collect, he could also comment on the statements of other authors. Hence the title of Commentaries which he gave to his work. Besides the fragments of the writings of Blas Valera, which enrich the pages of Garcilasso, the Inca quotes from Acosta, from Gomara, from Zarate, and from the First Part of Cieza de Leon.[1263] He was fortunate in getting possession of the chapters of Blas Valera rescued from the sack of Cadiz. He also wrote to all his surviving schoolfellows for assistance, and received many traditions and detailed replies on other subjects from them. Thus Alcobasa forwarded an account of the ruins at Tiahuanacu, and another friend sent him the measurements of the great fortress at Cuzco.

The Inca Garcilasso de la Vega is, without doubt, the first authority on the civilization of his ancestors; but it is necessary to consider his qualifications and the exact value of his evidence. He had lived in Peru until his twentieth year; Quichua was his native language, and he had[266] constantly heard the traditions of the Incas related and discussed by his mother’s relations. But when he began to write he had been separated from these associations for upwards of thirty years. He received materials from Peru, enabling him to compose a connected historical narrative, which is not, however, very reliable. The true value of his work is derived from his own reminiscences, aroused by reading the books which are the subjects of his Commentary, and from his correspondence with friends in Peru. His memory was excellent, as is often proved when he corrects the mistakes of Acosta and others with diffidence, and is invariably right. He was not credulous, having regard to the age in which he lived; nor was he inclined to give the rein to his imagination. More than once we find him rejecting the fanciful etymologies of the authors whose works he criticises. His narratives of the battles and conquests of the early Incas often become tedious, and of this he is himself aware. He therefore intersperses them with more interesting chapters on the religious ceremonies, the domestic habits and customs, of the people, and on their advances in poetry, astronomy, music, medicine, and the arts. He often inserts an anecdote from the storehouse of his memory, or some personal reminiscence called forth by the subject on which he happens to be writing. His statements frequently receive undesigned corroboration from authors whose works he never saw. Thus his curious account of the water sacrifices, not mentioned by any other published authority, is verified by the full description of the same rite in the manuscript of Molina. On the other hand, the long absence of the Inca from his native country entailed upon him grave disadvantages. His boyish recollections, though deeply interesting, could not, from the nature of the case, provide him with critical knowledge. Hence the mistakes in his work are serious and of frequent occurrence. Dr. Villar has pointed out his total misconception of the Supreme Being of the Peruvians, and of the significance of the word “Uira-cocha.”[1264] But, with all its shortcomings,[1265] the work of the Inca Garcilasso de la Vega must ever be the main source of our knowledge, and without his pious labors the story of the Incas would lose more than half its interest.

The first part of his Commentarios Reales, which alone concerns the present subject, was published at Lisbon in 1607.[1266] The author died at Cordova at the age of seventy-six, and was buried in the cathedral in 1616. He lived just long enough to accomplish his most cherished wish, and to complete the work at which he had steadily and lovingly labored for so many years.

Another Indian author wrote an account of the antiquities of Peru, at a time when the grandchildren of those who witnessed the conquest by the Spaniards were living. Unlike Garcilasso, this author never left the land of his birth, but he was not of Inca lineage. Don Juan de Santacruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamayhua was a native of the Collao, and descended from a family of local chiefs. His work is entitled Relacion de Antigüedades deste Reyno del Peru. It long remained in manuscript in the National Library at Madrid, until it was edited by Don Márcos Jiménez de la Espada in 1879. It had previously been translated into English and edited for the Hakluyt Society.[1267] Salcamayhua gives the traditions of Inca history as they were handed down to the third generation after the conquest. Intimately acquainted with the language, and in a position to converse with the oldest recipients of native lore, he is able to record much that is untold elsewhere, and to confirm a great deal that is related by former authors. He has also preserved two prayers in Quichua, attributed to Manco Ccapac, the first Inca, and some others, which add to the number given by Molina. He also corroborates the important statement of Molina, that the great gold plate in the temple at Cuzco was intended to represent the Supreme Being, and not the sun. Salcamayhua is certainly a valuable addition to the authorities on Peruvian history.


Note.—The title-page of the fifth decade Herrera, showing the Inca portraits, is given above. Cf. the plate in Stevens’s English translation of Herrera, vol. iv., London, 1740, 2d edition.—Ed.


While so many soldiers and priests and lawyers did their best to preserve a knowledge of Inca civilization, the Spanish government itself was not idle. The kings of Spain and their official advisers showed an anxiety to prevent the destruction of monuments and to collect historical and topographical information which is worthy of all praise. In 1585, orders were given to all the local authorities in Spanish America to transmit such information, and a circular, containing a series of interrogatories, was issued for their guidance. The result of this measure was, that a great number of Relaciones descriptivas were received in Spain, and stored up in the archives of the Indies. Herrera had these reports before him when he was writing his history, but it is certain that he did not make use of half the material they contain.[1268] Another very curious and valuable source of information consists of the reports on the origin of Inca sovereignty, which were prepared by order of the Viceroy Don Francisco de Toledo, and forwarded to the council of the Indies. They consist of twenty documents, forming a large volume, and preceded by an introductory letter. The viceroy’s object was to establish the fact that the Incas had originally been usurpers, in forcibly acquiring authority over the different provinces of the empire, and dispossessing the native chiefs. His inference was, that, as usurpers, they were rightfully dethroned by the Spaniards. He failed to see that such an argument was equally fatal to a Spanish claim, based on anything but the sword. Nevertheless, the traditions collected with this object, not only from the Incas at Cuzco, but also from the chiefs of several provinces, are very important and interesting.[1269]

The Viceroy Toledo also sent home four cloths on which the pedigree of the Incas was represented. The figures of the successive sovereigns were depicted, with medallions of their wives, and their respective lineages. The events of each reign were recorded on the borders, the traditions of Paccari-tampu, and of the creation by Uira-cocha, occupying the first cloth. It is probable that the Inca portraits given by Herrera were copied from those on the cloths sent home by the viceroy. The head-dresses in Herrera are very like that of the high-priest in the Relacion of the anonymous Jesuit. A map seems to have accompanied the pedigree, which was drawn under the superintendence of the distinguished sailor and cosmographer, Don Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa.[1270]

Much curious information respecting the laws and customs of the Incas and the beliefs of the people is to be found in ordinances and decrees of the Spanish authorities, both civil and ecclesiastical. These ordinances are contained in the Ordenanzas del Peru, of the Licentiate Tomas de Ballesteros, in the Politica Indiana of Juan de Solorzano (Madrid, 1649),[1271] in the Concilium Limense of Acosta, and in the Constituciones Synodales of Dr. Lobo Guerrero, Archbishop of Lima, printed in that city in 1614, and again in 1754.

The kingdom of Quito received attention from several early writers, but most of their manuscripts are lost to us. Quito was fortunate, however, in finding a later historian to devote himself to the work of chronicling the story of his native land. Juan de Velasco was a native of Riobamba. He resided for forty years in the kingdom of Quito as a Jesuit priest, he taught and preached in the native language of the people, and he diligently studied all the works on the subject that were accessible to him. He spent six years in travelling over the country, twenty years in collecting books and manuscripts; and when the Jesuits were banished he took refuge in Italy, where he wrote his Historia del Reino de Quito. Velasco used several authorities which are now lost. One of these was the Conquista de la Provincia del Quito, by Fray Marco de Niza, a companion of Pizarro. Another was the Historia de las guerras civiles del Inca Atahualpa, by Jacinto Collahuaso. He also refers to the Antigüedades del Peru by Bravo de Saravia. As a native of Quito, Velasco is a strong partisan of Atahualpa; and he is the only historian who gives an account of the traditions respecting the early kings of Quito. The work was completed in 1789, brought from Europe, and printed at Quito in 1844, and M. Ternaux Compans brought out a French edition in 1840.[1272]


Recent authors have written introductory essays on Peruvian civilization to precede the story of the Spanish conquest, have described the ruins in various parts of the country after personal inspection, or have devoted their labors to editing the early authorities, or to bringing previously unknown manuscripts to light, and thus widening and strengthening the foundation on which future histories may be raised.


[After a print in the European Mag. (1802), vol. xli.—Ed.]

Robertson’s excellent view of the story of the Incas in his History of America[1273] was for many years the sole source of information on the subject for the general English public; but since 1848 it has been superseded by Prescott’s charming narrative contained in the opening book of his Conquest of Peru.[1274] The knowledge of the present generation on the subject of the Incas is derived almost entirely from Prescott, and, so far as it goes, there can be no better authority. But much has come to light since his time. Prescott’s narrative, occupying 159 pages, is founded on the works of Garcilasso de la Vega, who is the authority most frequently cited by him, Cieza de Leon, Ondegardo, and Acosta.[1275] Helps, in the chapter of his Spanish Conquest on Inca civilization, which covers forty-five pages,[270] only cited two early authorities not used by Prescott,[1276] and his sketch is much more superficial than that of his predecessor.[1277]

The publication of the Antigüedades Peruanas by Don Mariano Eduardo de Rivero (the director of the National Museum at Lima) and Juan Diego de Tschudi at Vienna, in 1851, marked an important turning-point in the progress of investigation. One of the authors was himself a Peruvian, and from that time some of the best educated natives of the country have given their attention to its early history. The Antigüedades for the first time gives due prominence to an estimate of the language and literature of the Incas, and to descriptions of ruins throughout Peru. The work is accompanied by a large atlas of engravings; but it contains grave inaccuracies, and the map of Pachacamac is a serious blemish to the work.[1278] The Antigüedades were followed by the Annals of Cuzco,[1279] and in 1860 the Ancient History of Peru, by Don Sebastian Lorente, was published at Lima.[1280] In a series of essays in the Revista Peruana,[1281] Lorente gave the results of many years of further study of the subject, which appear to have been the concluding labors of a useful life. When he died, in November, 1884, Sebastian Lorente had been engaged for upwards of forty years in the instruction of the Peruvian youth at Lima and in other useful labors. A curious genealogical work on the Incarial family was published at Paris in 1850, by Dr. Justo Sahuaraura Inca, a canon of the cathedral of Cuzco, but it is of no historical value.[1282]

Several scholars, both in Europe and America, have published the results of their studies relating to the problems of Inca history. Ernest Desjardins has written on the state of Peru before the Spanish conquest,[1283] J. G. Müller on the religious beliefs of the people,[1284] and Waitz on Peruvian anthropology.[1285] The writings of Dr. Brinton, of Philadelphia, also contain valuable reflections and useful information respecting the mythology and native literature of Peru.[1286] Mr. Bollaert had been interested in Peruvian researches during the greater part of his lifetime (b. 1807; d. 1876), and had visited several provinces of Peru, especially Tarapaca. He accumulated many notes. His work, at first sight, appears to be merely a confused mass of jottings, and certainly there is an absence of method and arrangement; but closer examination will lead to the discovery of many facts which are not to be met with elsewhere.[1287]

A critical study of early authorities and a knowledge of the Quichua language are two essential qualifications for a writer on Inca civilization. But it is almost equally important that he should have access to intelligent and accurate descriptions of the remains of ancient edifices and public works throughout Peru. For this he is dependent on travellers, and it must be confessed that no descriptions at all meeting the requirements were in existence before the opening of the present century. Humboldt was the first traveller in South America who pursued his antiquarian researches on a scientific basis. His works are models for all future travellers. It [271]is to Humboldt,[1288] and his predecessors the Ulloas,[1289] that we owe graphic descriptions of Inca ruins in the kingdom of Quito and in northern Peru as far as Caxamarca. French travellers have contributed three works of importance to the same department of research. M. Alcide D’Orbigny examined and described the ruins of Tiahuanacu with great care.[1290] M. François de Castelnau was the leader of a scientific expedition sent out by the French government, and his work contains descriptions of ruins illustrated by plates.[1291] The work of M. Wiener is more complete, and is intended to be exhaustive. He was also employed by the French government on an archæological and ethnographic mission to Peru, from 1875 to 1877, and he has performed his task with diligence and ability, while no cost seems to have been spared in the production of his work.[1292] The maps and illustrations are numerous and well executed, and M. Wiener visited nearly every part of Peru where archæological remains are to be met with. There is only one fault to be found with the praiseworthy and elaborate works of D’Orbigny and Wiener. The authors are too apt to adopt theories on insufficient grounds, and to confuse their otherwise admirable descriptions with imaginative speculations. An example of this kind has been pointed out by the Peruvian scholar Dr. Villar, with reference to M. Wiener’s erroneous ideas respecting Culte de l’eau ou de la pluie, et le dieu Quonn.[1293] M. Wiener is the only modern traveller who has visited and described the interesting ruins of Vilcashuaman.

The present writer has published two books recording his travels in Peru. In the first he described the fortress of Hervay, the ancient irrigation channels at Nasca on the Peruvian coast, and the ruins at and around Cuzco, including Ollantay-tampu.[1294] In the second there are descriptions of the chulpas at Sillustani in the Collao, and of the Inca roof over the Sunturhuasi at Azangaro.[1295]

The work of E. G. Squier is, on the whole, the most valuable result of antiquarian researches in Peru that has ever been presented to the public.[1296] [272]Mr. Squier had special qualifications for the task. He had already been engaged on similar work in Nicaragua, and he was well versed in the history of his subject. He visited nearly all the ruins of importance in the country, constructed plans, and took numerous photographs. Avoiding theoretical disquisitions, he gives most accurate descriptions of the architectural remains, which are invaluable to the student. His style is agreeable and interesting, while it inspires confidence in the reader; and his admirable book is in all respects thoroughly workmanlike.[1297]


[After a photograph kindly furnished by himself at the editor’s request.—Ed.]

Tiahuanacu is minutely described by D’Orbigny,[273] Wiener, and Squier, and the famous ruins have also been the objects of special attention from other investigators. Mr. Helsby of Liverpool took careful photographs of the monolithic doorway in 1857, which were engraved and published, with a descriptive article by Mr. Bollaert.[1298] Don Modesto Basadre has also written an account of the ruins, with measurements.[1299] But the most complete monograph on Tiahuanacu is by Mr. Inwards, who surveyed the ground, photographed all the ruins, made enlarged drawings of the sculptures on the monolithic doorway, and even attempted an ideal restoration of the palace. In the letter-press, Mr. Inwards quotes from the only authorities who give any account of Tiahuanacu, and on this particular point his monograph entitles him to be considered as the highest modern authority.[1300]

Another special investigation of equal interest, and even greater completeness, is represented by the superb work on the burial-ground of Ancon, being the results of excavations made on the spot by Wilhelm Reiss and Alphonso Stübel. The researches of these painstaking and talented antiquaries have thrown a flood of light on the social habits and daily life of the civilized people of the Peruvian coast.[1301]

The great work of Don Antonio Raimondi on Peru is still incomplete. The learned Italian has already devoted thirty-eight years to the study of the natural history of his adopted country, and the results of his prolonged scientific labors are now gradually being given to the public. The plan of this exhaustive monograph is a division into six parts, devoted to the geography, geology, mineralogy, botany, zoölogy, and ethnology of Peru. The geographical division will contain a description of the principal ancient monuments and their ruins, while the ethnology will include a treatise on the ancient races, their origin and civilization. But as yet only three volumes have been published. The first is entitled Parte Preliminar, describing the plan of the work and the extent of the author’s travels throughout the country. The second and third volumes comprise a history of the progress of geographical discovery in Peru since the conquest by Pizarro. The completion of this great work, undertaken under the auspices of the government of Peru, has been long delayed.[1302]

The labors of explorers are supplemented by the editorial work of scholars, who bring to light the precious relics of early authorities, hitherto buried in scarcely accessible old volumes or in manuscript. First in the ranks of these laborers in the cause of knowledge, as regards ancient Peruvian history, stands the name of M. Ternaux Compans. He has furnished to the student carefully edited French editions of the narrative of Xeres, of the history of Peru by Balboa, of the Mémoires Historiques of Montesinos, and of the history of Quito by Velasco.[1303]


The present writer has translated into English and edited the works of Cieza de Leon, Garcilasso de la Vega, Molina, Salcamayhua, Avila, Xeres, Andagoya, and one of the reports of Ondegardo, and has edited the old translation of Acosta.

Dr. M. Gonzalez de la Rosa, an accomplished Peruvian scholar, brought to light and edited, in 1879, the curious Historia de Lima of Father Bernabé Cobo. It was published in successive numbers of the Revista Peruana, at Lima.


[After a photograph, kindly furnished by himself, at the editor’s request.—Ed.]

But in this department students are most indebted to the learned Spanish editor, Don Márcos Jiménez de la Espada; for he has placed within our reach the works of important authorities, which were previously not only inaccessible, but unknown. He has edited the second part of Cieza de Leon, the anonymous Jesuit, Montesinos, Santillana, the reports to the Viceroy Toledo, the Suma y Narracion of Betanzos, and the War of Quito, by Cieza de Leon. Moreover, there is every reason to hope that his career of literary usefulness is by no means ended.

Although so much has been accomplished in the field of Peruvian research, yet much remains to be done, both by explorers and in the study. The Quichua chapters of the work of Avila, containing curious myths and legends, remain untranslated and in manuscript. A satisfactory text of the Ollantay drama, after collation of all accessible manuscripts, has not yet been secured. Numerous precious manuscripts have yet to be unearthed in Spain. Songs of the times of the Incas exist in Peru, which should be collected and edited. There are scientific excavations to be undertaken, and secluded districts to be explored. The Yunca grammar of Carrera requires expert comparative study, and comparison with the Eten dialect. Remnants of archaic languages, such as the Puquina of the Urus, must be investigated. When all this, and much more, has been added to existing means of knowledge, the labors of pioneers will approach[275] completion. Then the time will have arrived for the preparation of a history of ancient Peruvian civilization which will be worthy of the subject.[1304]



I. Ancient People of the Peruvian Coast.—There was a civilized people on the coast of Peru, but not occupying the whole coast, which was distinctly different, both as regards race and language, from the Incas and their cognate tribes. This coast nation was called Chimu, and their language Mochica.[1305]

The numerous valleys on the Peruvian coast, separated by sandy deserts of varying width, required only careful irrigation to render them capable of sustaining a large population. The aboriginal inhabitants were probably a diminutive race of fishermen. Driven southwards by invaders, they eventually sought refuge in Arica and Tarapaca. D’Orbigny described their descendants as a gentle, hospitable race of fishermen, never exceeding five feet in height, with flat noses, fishing in boats of inflated sealskins, and sleeping in huts of sealskin on heaps of dried seaweed. They are called Changos. Bollaert mentions that they buried their dead lengthways. Bodies found in this unusual posture near Cañete form a slight link connecting the Changos to the south with the early aboriginal race of the more northern valleys.

The Chimu people drove out the aborigines and occupied the valleys of the coast from Payta nearly to Lima, forming distinct communities, each under a chief more or less independent. The Chimu himself ruled over the five valleys of Parmunca, Hualli, Huanapu, Santa, and Chimu, where the city of Truxillo now stands. The total difference of their language from Quichua makes it clear that the Chimus did not come from the Andes or from the Quito country. The only other alternative is that they arrived from the sea. Balboa, indeed, gives a detailed account of the statements made by the coast Indians of Lambayeque, at the time of the conquest. They declared that a great fleet arrived on the coast some generations earlier, commanded by a chief named Noymlap, who had with him a green-stone idol, and that he founded a dynasty of chiefs.

The Chimu and his subjects, let their origin be what it may, had certainly made considerable advances in civilization. The vast palaces of the Chimu near the seashore, with a surrounding city, and great mounds or artificial hills, are astonishing even in their decay. The principal hall of the palace was 100 feet long by 52. The walls are covered with an intricate and very effective series of arabesques on stucco, worked in relief. A neighboring hall, with walls stuccoed in color, is entered by passages and skirted by openings leading to small rooms seven feet square, which may have been used as dormitories. A long corridor leads from the back of the arabesque hall to some recesses where gold and silver vessels have been found. At a short distance from this palace there is a sepulchral mound where many relics have been discovered. The bodies were wrapped in cloths woven in ornamental figures and patterns of different colors. On some of the cloths plates of silver were sewn, and they were edged with borders of feathers, the silver plates being occasionally cut in the shapes of fishes and birds. Among the ruins of the city there are great rectangular areas enclosed by massive walls, containing buildings, courts, streets, and reservoirs for water.[1306] The largest is about a mile south of the palace, and is 550 yards long by 400. The outer wall is about 30 feet high and 10 feet thick at the base, with sides inclining towards each other. Some of the interior walls are highly ornamented in stuccoed patterns; and in[276] one part there is an edifice containing 45 chambers or cells, which is supposed to have been a prison. The enclosure also contained a reservoir 450 feet long by 195, and 60 feet deep.

The dry climate favored the adornment of outer walls by color, and those of the Chimu palaces were covered with very tasteful sculptured patterns. Figures of colored birds and animals are said to have been painted on the walls of temples and palaces. Silver and gold ornaments and utensils, mantles richly embroidered, robes of feathers, cotton cloths of fine texture, and vases of an infinite variety of curious designs, are found in the tombs.

Cieza de Leon gives us a momentary glimpse at the life of the Chimu chiefs. Each ruler of a valley, he tells us, had a great house with adobe pillars, and doorways hung with matting, built on extensive terraces. He adds that the chiefs dressed in cotton shirts and long mantles, and were fond of drinking-bouts, dancing and singing. The walls of their houses were painted with bright colored patterns and figures. Such places, rising out of the groves of fruit-trees, with the Andes bounding the view in one direction and the ocean in the other, must have been suitable abodes for joy and feasting. Around them were the fertile valleys, peopled by industrious cultivators, and carefully irrigated. Their irrigation works were indeed stupendous. “In the valley of Nepeña the reservoir is three fourths of a mile long by more than half a mile broad, and consists of a massive dam of stone 80 feet thick at the base, carried across a gorge between two rocky hills. It was supplied by two canals at different elevations; one starting fourteen miles up the valley, and the other from springs five miles distant.”[1307]


[After a cut given by Ruge, following a plate in The Necropolis of Ancon. Wiener (p. 44) gives a section of one of the Ancon tombs. See a cut in Squier’s Peru, p. 73.—Ed.]

The custom prevalent among the Chimus of depositing with their dead all objects of daily use, as well as ornaments and garments worn by them during life, has enabled us to gain a further insight into the social history of this interesting people. The researches of Reuss and Stübel at the necropolis of Ancon, near Lima, have been most important. Numerous garments, interwoven with work of a decorative character, cloths of many colors and complicated patterns, implements used in spinning and sewing, work-baskets of plaited grass, balls of thread, fingerrings, wooden and clay toys, are found with the mummies. The spindles are richly carved and painted, and attached to them are terra cotta cylinders aglow with ornamental colorings which were used as wheels. Fine earthenware vases of varied patterns, and wooden or clay dishes, also occur.

Turning to the language of the coast people, we find that no Mochica dictionary was ever made; but there is a grammar and a short list of words by Carrera, and the Lord’s prayer in Mochica, by Bishop Oré. The grammar was composed by a priest who had settled at Truxillo, near the ruins of the Chimu palace, and who was a great-grandson of one of the first Spanish conquerors. It was published at Lima in 1644. At that time the Mochica language was spoken in the valleys of Truxillo, Chicama, Chocope, Sana, Lambayeque, Chiclayo, Huacabamba, Olmos, and Motupè. When the Mercurio Peruano[1308] was published in 1793, this language is said to have entirely disappeared. Father Carrera tells us that the Mochica was so very difficult that he was the only Spaniard who had ever been able to learn it. The words bear no resemblance whatever to Quichua. Mochica has three different declensions, Quichua only one. Mochica has no transitive verbs, and no exclusive and inclusive plurals, which are among the chief characteristics of Quichua. The Mochica conjugations[277] are formed in quite a different way from those in the Quichua language. The Mochica system of numerals appears to have been very complete. With the language, the people have now almost if not entirely disappeared. Possibly the people of Eten, south of Lambayeque, who still speak a peculiar language, may be descendants of the Chimus.


[After a cut in T. J. Hutchinson’s Two Years in Peru (London, 1873), vol. i. p. 113. The Peruvian mummies are almost invariably simply desiccated. Only the royal personages were embalmed (Markham’s Cieza de Leon, 226). Cf. Wilson’s Prehistoric Man, ii. 135.—Ed.]

The Chimu dominion extended probably from Tumbez, in the extreme north of the Peruvian coast, to Ancon, north of Lima. The Chimus also had a strong colony in the valley of Huarcu, now called Cañete. But the valleys of the Rimac, of Lurin, Chilca, and Mala, north of Cañete; and those of Chincha, Yca, and Nasca, south of Cañete; were not Chimu territory. The names of places in those valleys are all Quichua, as well as the names of their chiefs, as recorded by Garcilasso de la Vega and others. The inhabitants were, therefore, of Inca race, probably colonists from the Huanca nation. Their superstitions as told by Arriaga, and the curious mythological legends recorded by Avila as being believed by the people of Huarochiri and the neighboring coast, all point to an Inca origin. These Inca coast people are said to have had a famous oracle near the present site of Lima, called “Rimac,” or “He who speaks.” But more probably it was merely the name given to the noisy river Rimac, babbling over its stones. It is true that there was a temple on the coast with an oracle, the fame of which had been widely spread. The idol called Pachacamac, or “The world-creator,” was described by the first Spanish visitor, Miguel Estete, as being made of wood and very dirty. The town was then half in ruins, for the worship of this local deity was neglected after the conquest by the Incas. These coast people of Inca race were as industrious as their Chimu neighbors. In the Nasca valley there is a complete network of underground watercourses for irrigation. At Yca “they removed the sand from vast areas, until they reached the requisite moisture, then put in guano from the islands, and thus formed sunken gardens of extraordinary richness.”[1309] Similar methods were adopted in the valleys of Pisco and Chilca.

When the Inca Pachacutec began to annex the coast valleys, he met with slight opposition only from the people of Inca origin, who soon submitted to his rule. But the Chimus struggled hard to retain their independence. Those of the Huarcu (Cañete) valley made a desperate and prolonged resistance. When at length they submitted, the Inca built a fortress and palace on a rocky eminence overlooking the sea to overawe them. The ruins now called Hervai are particularly interesting, because they are the principal and most imposing example of Inca architecture in which the building material is adobes and not stone. The conquest of the valleys to the north of Lima and of the grand Chimu himself was a still more difficult undertaking, necessitating more than one hard-fought campaign. When it was completed, great numbers of the best fighting-men among the Chimus were deported to the interior as mitimaes. More than a century had elapsed since this conquest when the Spaniards arrived, so that there was but slight chance of the history of the Chimus being even partially preserved. Cieza de Leon and Balboa alone supply us with notices of any value.[1310] The southern valleys of the coast, Arequipa, Moquegua, and Tacna, were occupied by mitimaes or colonists from the Collao. The Incas gave the general name of yuncas, or dwellers in the warm valleys, to all the people of the coast.

Much mystery surrounds the history and origin of the Chimu people. That they were wholly separate and unconnected with the other races of Peru seems almost certain. That they were far advanced in civilization is clear. Difficulties surround any further prosecution of researches concerning them. They have themselves disappeared from the face of the earth. Their language has gone with them. But there are the magnificent ruins of their palaces and temples. There are numerous tombs and cemeteries which have never been scientifically examined. There is a grammar and a small vocabulary of words calling for close comparative examination. There are crania awaiting similar comparative study. There is a possibility that further information[278] may be gleaned from inedited Spanish manuscripts. The subject is a most interesting one, and it is by no means exhausted.


[After a cut in Ruge’s Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen, p. 429, following the colored plate in The Necropolis of Ancon. Wiener reproduces in black and white many of the Ancon specimens.—Ed.]

II. The Quichua Language and Literature.—No real progress can be made in the work of elucidating the ancient history of Peru, and in unravelling the interesting but still unsolved questions relating to the origin and development of Inca civilization, without a knowledge of the native language. The subject has accordingly received the close attention of laborious students from a very early period, and the present essay would be incomplete without appending an enumeration of the Quichua grammars and vocabularies, and of works relating to Inca literature.

Fray Domingo de San Tomas, a Dominican monk, was the first author who composed a grammar and vocabulary of the language of the Incas. He gave it the name of Quichua, probably because he had studied[279] with members of that tribe, who were of pure Inca race, and whose territory lies to the westward of Cuzco. The name has since been generally adopted for the language of the Peruvian empire.[1311]

Diego de Torres Rubio was born in 1547, in a village near Toledo, became a Jesuit at the age of nineteen, and went out to Peru in 1577. He studied the native languages with great diligence, and composed grammars and vocabularies. His grammar and vocabulary of Quichua first appeared at Saville in 1603, and passed through four editions.[1312] A long residence in Chuquisaca enabled him to acquire the Aymara language, and in 1616 he published a short grammar and vocabulary of Aymara. In 1627 he also published a grammar of the Guarani language. Torres Rubio was rector of the college at Potosi for a short time, but his principal labors were connected with missionary work at Chuquisaca. He died in that city at the great age of ninety-one, on the 13th of April, 1638. Juan de Figueredo, whose Chinchaysuyu vocabulary is bound up with later editions of Torres Rubio, was born at Huancavelica in 1648, of Spanish parents, and after a long and useful missionary life he died at Lima in 1724.

The most voluminous grammatical work on the language of the Incas had for its author the Jesuit Diego Gonzales Holguin. This learned missionary was the scion of a distinguished family in Estremadura, and was befriended in his youth by his relation, Don Juan de Obando, President of the Council of the Indies. After graduating at Alcalá de Henares he became a member of the Society of Jesus in 1568, and went out to Peru in 1581. He resided for several years in the Jesuit college at Juli, near the banks of Lake Titicaca, where the fathers had established a printing-press, and here he studied the Quichua language. He was entrusted with important missions to Quito and Chili, and was nominated interpreter by the Viceroy Toledo. His later years were passed in Paraguay, and when he died at the age of sixty-six, in 1618, he was rector of the college at Asuncion. His Quichua dictionary was published at Lima in 1586, and a second edition appeared in 1607,[1313] the same year in which the grammar first saw the light.[1314] The Quichua grammar of Holguin is the most complete and elaborate that has been written, and his dictionary is also the best in every respect.

While Holguin was studiously preparing these valuable works on the Quichua language in the college at Juli, a colleague was laboring with equal zeal and assiduity at the dialect spoken by the people of the Collao, to which the Jesuits gave the name of Aymara. Ludovico Bertonio was an Italian, a native of the marches of Ancona. Arriving in Peru in 1581, he resided at Juli for many years, studying the Aymara language, until, attacked by gout, he was sent to Lima, where he died at the age of seventy-three, in 1625. His Aymara grammar was first published at Rome in 1603,[1315] but a very much improved second edition,[1316] and a large dictionary of Aymara,[1317] were products of the Jesuit press at Juli in 1612. Bertonio also wrote a catechism and a life of Christ in Aymara, which were printed at Juli.

A vocabulary of Quichua by Fray Juan Martinez was printed at Lima in 1604, and another in 1614. Four Quichua grammars followed during the seventeenth century. That of Alonso de Huerta was published at Lima in 1616; the grammar of the Franciscan Diego de Olmos appeared in 1633; Don Juan Roxo Mexia y Ocon, a native of Cuzco, and professor of Quichua at the University of Lima, published his grammar in 1648; and the grammar of Estevan Sancho de Melgar saw the light in 1691.[1318] Leon Pinelo also mentions a Quichua grammar by Juan de Vega. The anonymous Jesuit refers to a Quichua dictionary by Melchior Fernandez, which is lost to us.

In 1644 Don Fernando de la Carrera, the Cura of Reque, near Chiclayo, published his grammar of the Yunca language, at Lima. This is the language which was once spoken in the valleys of the Peruvian coast by the[280] civilized people whose ruler was the grand Chimu. Now the language is extinct, or spoken only by a few Indians in the coast village of Eten. The work of Carrera is therefore important, as, with the exception of a specimen of the language preserved by Bishop Oré, it is the only book in which the student can now obtain any linguistic knowledge of the lost civilization. The Yunca grammar was reprinted in numbers in the Revista de Lima of 1880 and following years.[1319]

There was a professorial chair for the study of Quichua in the University of San Márcos at Lima, and the language was cultivated, during the two centuries after the conquest, as well by educated natives as by many Spanish ecclesiastics. The sermons of Dr. Don Fernando de Avendaño have already been referred to.[1320] Dr. Lunarejo, of Cuzco, was another famous Quichuan preacher, and the Confesionarios and catechisms in the language were very numerous. Bishop Louis Geronimo Oré, of Guamanga, in his ritualistic manual, gives the Lord’s prayer and commandments, not only in Quichua and Aymara, but also in the Puquina language spoken by the Urus on Lake Titicaca, and in the Yunca language of the coast, which he calls Mochica.[1321]

A very curious book was published at Lima in 1602, which, among other things, treats of the Quichua language and of the derivations of names of places. The author, Don Diego D’Avalos y Figueroa, appears to have been a native of La Paz. He was possessed of sprightly wit, was well read, and a close observer of nature. We gather from his Miscelanea Austral[1322] the names of birds and animals, and of fishes in Lake Titicaca, as well as the opinions of the author on the cause of the absence of rain on the Peruvian coast, on the lacustrine system of the Collao, and on other interesting points of physical geography.[1323]

In modern times the language of the Incas has received attention from students of Peruvian history. The joint authors, Dr. Von Tschudi and Don Mariano Eduardo de Rivero, in their work entitled Antigüedades Peruanas, published at Vienna in 1851, devote a chapter to the Quichua language. Two years afterwards Dr. Von Tschudi published a Quichua grammar and dictionary, with the text of the Inca drama of Ollantay, and other specimens of the language.[1324] The present writer’s contributions towards a grammar and dictionary of Quichua were published by Trübner in 1864, and a few years previously a more complete and elaborate work had seen the light at Sucre, the capital of Bolivia. This was the grammar and dictionary by Father Honorio Mossi, of Potosi, a large volume containing thorough and excellent work.[1325] Lastly a Quichua grammar by José Dionisio Anchorena was published at Lima in 1874.[1326]

The curious publication of Don José Fernandez Nodal in 1874 is not so much a grammar of the Quichua Language as a heterogeneous collection of notes on all sorts of subjects, and can scarcely take a place among serious works. The author was a native of Arequipa, of good family, but he was carried away by enthusiasm and allowed his imagination to run riot.[1327]

The gospel of St. Luke, with Aymara and Spanish in parallel columns, was translated from the vulgate by Don Vicente Pazos-kanki, a graduate of the University of Cuzco, and published in London in 1829;[1328] and more recently a Quichua version of the gospel of St. John, translated by Mr. Spilsbury, an English missionary, has appeared at Buenos Ayres.[1329] These publications and others of the same kind have a tendency to preserve the purity of the language, and are therefore welcome to the student of Incarial history.

Quichua has been the subject of detailed comparative study by more than one modern philologist of eminence. The discussion of the Quichua roots by the learned Dr. Vicente Fidel Lopez is a most valuable addition to the literature of the subject; while the historical section of his work is a great aid to a critical consideration of Montesinos and other early authorities. Whatever may be thought of his theoretical opinions,[281] and of the considerations by which he maintains them, there can be no doubt that Dr. Lopez has rendered most important service to all students of Peruvian history.[1330] The theoretical identification of Quichuan roots with those of Turanian and Iberian languages, as it has been elaborated by Mr. Ellis, is also not without its use, quite apart from the truth or otherwise of any linguistic theory.[1331]


[After a cut in William Bollaert’s Antiquarian Researches, etc., p. 41, showing a stone figure from Timana in New Granada, an antiquity of the Muiscas, found in a dense forest, with no tradition attached.—Ed.]

Editorial labors connected with the publication of the text and of translations of the Inca drama of Ollantay have recently conduced, in an eminent degree, to the scholarly study of Quichua, while they have sensibly contributed to a better knowledge of the subject. Von Tschudi was the first to publish the text of Ollantay, in the second part of his Kechua Sprache, having given extracts from the drama in the chapter on the Quichua language in the Antigüedades Peruanas. After a long interval he brought out a revised text with a parallel German translation,[1332] from his former manuscript, collated with another bearing the date of La Paz, 1735.

The drama, in the exact form that it existed when represented before the Incas, is of course lost to us. It was handed down by tradition until it was arranged for representation, divided into scenes, and supplied with stage directions in Spanish times. Several manuscripts were preserved, which differ only slightly from each other; and they were looked upon as very precious literary treasures by their owners. The drama was first publicly brought to notice by Don Manuel Palacios, in the Museo Erudito, a periodical published at Cuzco in 1837; but it was not until 1853 that the text was printed by Von Tschudi. His manuscript was copied from one preserved in the Dominican monastery at Cuzco by one of the monks. The transcription was made between 1840 and 1845 for the artist Rugendas, of Munich, who gave it to Von Tschudi. There was another old manuscript in the possession of Dr. Antonio Valdez, the priest of Sicuani, who lived in the last century, and was a friend of the unfortunate Tupac Amaru. Dr. Valdez died in 1816; and copies of his manuscript were possessed by Dr. Pablo Justiniani, the aged priest of Laris, a village in the heart of the eastern Andes, and by Dr. Rosas, the priest of Chinchero. The present writer made a copy of the Justiniani manuscript at Laris, which he collated with that of Dr. Rosas. In 1871 he published the text of his copy, with an attempt at a literal English translation.[1333] In 1868 Dr. Barranca published a Spanish translation from the text of Von Tschudi, now called the Dominican text.[1334] The Peruvian poet Constantino Carrasco afterwards brought out a version of the drama of Ollantay in verse, paraphrased from the translation of Barranca.[1335] The enthusiastic Peruvian student, Dr. Nodal, printed a different Quichua text with a Spanish translation, in parallel columns, in 1874.[1336]

There are other manuscripts, and a text has not yet been derived from a scholarly collation of the whole of them. There is one in the possession of Dr. Gonzalez de la Rosa, which belonged to Dr. Justo Sahuaraura Inca, Archdeacon of Cuzco, and descendant of Paullu, the younger son of Huayna Ccapac. In 1878 the Quichua scholar and native of Cuzco, Don Gavino Pacheco Zegarra, published the text of Ollantay at Paris, from a manuscript found among the books of his great-uncle, Don Pedro Zegarra. He added a very free translation in French, and numerous valuable notes. The work of Zegarra is by far the most important that has appeared on this subject, for the accomplished Peruvian has the great advantage of knowing Quichua[282] from his earliest childhood. With this advantage, not possessed by any previous writer, he unites extensive learning and considerable critical sagacity.[1337]

The reasons for assigning an ancient date to this drama of Ollantay are conclusive in the judgment of all Quichua scholars. On this point there is a consensus of opinion. But General Mitre, the ex-President of the Argentine Republic, published an essay in 1881, to prove that Ollantay was of Spanish origin and was written in comparatively modern times.[1338] The present writer replied to his arguments in the introduction (p. xxix) to the English translation of the second part of Cieza de Leon (1883), and this reply was translated into Spanish and published at Buenos Ayres in the same year, by Don Adolfo F. Olivares, accompanied by a critical note from the pen of Dr. Vicente Lopez.[1339] The latest publication on the subject of Ollantay consists of a series of articles in the Ateneo de Lima, by Don E. Larrabure y Unanue, the accomplished author of a history of the conquest of Peru, not yet published. The general conclusion which has been arrived at by Quichua scholars, after this thorough sifting of the question, is that, although the division into scenes and the stage directions are due to some Spanish hand, and although some few Hispanicisms may have crept into some of the texts, owing to the carelessness or ignorance of transcribers, yet that the drama of Ollantay, in all essential points, is of Inca origin. Several old songs are imbedded in it, and others have been preserved by Quichua scholars at Cuzco and Ayacucho, and in the neighborhood of those cities. The editing of these remains of Inca literature will, at some future time, throw further light on the history of the past. There are several learned Peruvians who devote themselves to Incarial studies, besides Señor Zegarra, who now resides in Spain. Among them may be mentioned Dr. Villar of Cuzco, a ripe scholar, who has recently published a closely reasoned essay on the word Uira-cocha, Don Luis Carranza, and Don Martin A. Mujica, a native of Huancavelica.

III. The New Granada Tribes.—The incipient civilization of the Chibchas or Muiscas of New Granada was first made generally known by Humboldt (Vues des Cordillères, octavo ed., ii. 220-67; Views of Nature, Eng. trans., 425). Cf. also, E. Uricoechea’s Memorias sobre las Antigüedades néo-granadinas (Berlin, 1854); Bollaert; Rivero and Von Tschudi; Nadaillac, 459; and Joseph Acosta’s Compendio historico del Descubrimiento de la Nueva Granada (Paris, 1848; with transl. in Bollaert).





President of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

THE relations into which the first Europeans entered with the aborigines in North America were very largely influenced, if not wholly decided, by the relations which they found to exist among the tribes on their arrival here. Those relations were fiercely hostile. The new-comers in every instance and in every crisis found their opportunity and their immunity in the feuds existing among tribes already in conflict with each other. This state of things, while it gave the whites enemies, also furnished them with allies. So far as the whites could learn in their earliest inquiries, internecine strife had been waging here among the natives from an indefinite past.

Starting, then, from this hostile relation between the native tribes of the northerly parts of the continent, we may trace the development of our subject through five periods:—

1. The first period, a very brief one, is marked by the presence of a single European nationality here, the French, for whom, under stringency of circumstance that he might be in friendly alliance with one tribe, Champlain was compelled to espouse its existing feud with other tribes.

2. The next period opens with the appearance and sharp rivalry here of a second European nationality, the English, the hereditary foe of the French, transferring hither their inherited animosities, amid which the Indians were ground as between two mill-stones.

3. Upon the extinction of French dominion on the continent by the English, the former red allies of the French, with secret prompting and help from the dispossessed party, were stirred with fresh animosities against the victors.

4. Yet again the open hostilities of contending Indian tribes were largely turned to account, to their own harm, in their respective alliances with the English colonies or with the mother-country in the War of Independence.

5. The closing period is that which is still in progress as covering the relations with them of the United States government. The old hostilities between those tribes have been steadily of less account in affecting their[284] later fortunes; and our government has not found it essential or expedient to aggravate its own severity against its Indian subjects, or “wards,” by availing itself of the feuds between them.

The same antagonisms which had kept the Indian tribes in hostility with each other prevented their effective alliance among themselves against the whites, and also embarrassed the English and French rivals, who sought to engage them on their respective sides. Many attempts were made by master chiefs among the savages, from the first intrusion of the Europeans, to organize combinations, or what we call “conspiracies,” of formerly contending tribes against the common foe. The first of them, formidable though limited in its consequences, was made in Virginia in 1622. Only two of these schemes proved otherwise than wholly abortive. That of King Philip in New England, in 1675, was effective enough to show what havoc such a combination might work. That of Pontiac, in 1763, was vastly more formidable, and was thwarted only by a resistance which engaged at several widely severed points all the warlike resources of the English. But the inherent difficulties, both of combining the Indian tribes among themselves, and of engaging some of them in alliance on either side with the French and the English contestants, were vastly increased by the seeds of sharp dissension sown among them through the rivalries in trade and temptations offered in the fluctuating prices of peltries. Even the long-standing league of the Five Nations was ruptured by the resolute English agent Johnson. He succeeded so far as to secure a promise of neutrality from some of them, and a promise of friendly help from one of them. There were some in each of the tribes falling not one whit behind the sharpest of the whites in skilled sagacity and calculation, who were swift to mark and to interpret the changes in the balance of fortune, as one or the other of the parties of their common enemies made a successful stroke for ascendency.

The facilities for alliance with one or another native tribe against its enemies made for the Europeans a vast difference in the results of their warfare with the aborigines. One might venture positively to assert that the occupancy of this continent by Europeans would have been indefinitely deferred and delayed had all its native tribes, in amity with each other, or willing for the occasion to arrest their feuds, made a bold and united front to resist the first intrusion upon their common domains. Certainly the full truth of this assertion might be illustrated as applicable to many incidents and crises in the first feeble and struggling fortunes of our original colonists in various exposed and inhospitable places. In many cases absolute starvation was averted only by the generous hospitality of the Indians. Taking into view the circumstances under which, from the first, tentative efforts were made for a permanent occupancy by the whites on our whole coast from Nova Scotia to Florida, and along the lakes and great western valleys, we must admit that their fortunes had more of peril than of promise. While, of course, we must refer their success and security[285] in large measure to the forbearance, tolerance, and real kindliness of the natives, yet it was well proved that as soon as the jealousy of these natives was stirred at any threatened encroachment, only their own feuds disabled them from any united opposition, and gave to one or another tribe the alternative of fighting the white intruders or of an alliance with them against their neighbor enemies. The whole series of the successive encroachments of Europeans on this continent is a continuous illustration of the successful turning to their own account of the strife of Indians against Indians. And when two rival European nationalities opened their two centuries of warfare for dominion on this continent, each party at once availed itself of red allies ready to renew or prolong their own previous hostilities.

The French Huguenots in Florida and the Spaniards who massacred them had each of them allies among the tribes which were in mutual hostility. Champlain was grievously perplexed by the pressure, to which none the less he yielded, that if he would be in amity with the Hurons he must espouse their deadly enmity with the Iroquois. Even the poor remnants of the tribe with which the Pilgrims of Plymouth made their treaty of peace, which lasted for fifty years, were the vanquished and tributary representatives of a broken people. A sharp war and a more deadly plague had made that colony a possibility.

And so it comes to pass that, if we attempt to define at any period during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the conflicts between the savages and Europeans on this continent, we have to look for the explanation of any special change in the relations of the Indian tribes to the varying interests and collisions of the different foreign nationalities in rivalry here. The hostilities between the French and the English were chronic and continuous. Frenchman’s Bay, at Mt. Desert, preserves the memorial of the first collision, when Argall, from Virginia, broke up the attempted settlement of Saussaye.[1340] As to the later developments of the antagonism, resulting in the extinction of French possession here, we are to refer them in about equal measure to two main causes,—the jealousy of the home governments, and the keen rivalry of the respective colonists for the lucrative spoils of the fur trade. The profit of traffic may be regarded as furnishing the prompting for strife on this side of the water, while the passion for territorial conquest engaged the intrigues and the armies of foreign courts in the stakes of wilderness warfare.

In tracing the course of such warfare we must take into our view two very effective agencies, which introduced important modifications in the methods and results of that warfare. In its progress these two agencies became more and more chargeable with very serious consequences. The first of these is the change induced in the warfare of the Indians by their possession of, leading steadily to a dependence upon, the white man’s firearms and supplies. The second is the usage, which the Indians soon learned to be profitable, of reserving their white prisoners for ransom, instead of subjecting them to death or torture.


When we read of some of the earliest so-called “deeds” by which the English colonists obtained from the sachems wide spaces of territory on the consideration of a few tools, hatchets, kettles, or yards of cloth, we naturally regard the transaction as simply illustrating the white man’s rapacity and cunning in tricking the simplicity of the savage. But we may be sure that in many such cases the Indian secured what was to him a full equivalent for that with which he parted. For, as the whites soon learned by experience, the savages supposed that in such transactions they were not alienating the absolute ownership of their lands, but only covenanting for the right of joint occupancy with the English. And then the coveted tools or implements obtained by them represented a value and a use not measurable by any reach of wild territory. A metal kettle, a spear, a knife, a hatchet, transformed the whole life of a savage. A blanket was to him a whole wardrobe. When he came to be the possessor of firearms and ammunition, having before regarded himself the equal of the white man, he at once became his superior. We shall see how the rivalry between the French and the English for traffic with the Indians, the enterprise of traders in pushing into the wilderness with pack-horses, the establishment of trucking houses, the facility with which the natives could obtain coveted goods from either party, and the occasional failure of supplies in the contingencies of warfare, were on many occasions the turning-points in the fights in the wilderness, and in the shifting of savage partisanship from one side to the other, as the fickle allies found their own interests at stake.

It was in 1609, when Champlain invaded the Iroquois country, on the lake that bears his name, that the astounded savages first saw the flash and marked the deadly effect of his arquebuse. But the shock soon spent itself. The weapon was found to be a terrestrial one, made and put to service by a man. The Dutch on the Hudson very soon supplied the Mohawks with this effective instrument for prosecuting the fur trade. The French began the general traffic with the Indians near the St. Lawrence, in metal vessels, knives, hatchets, awls, cotton and woollen goods, blankets, and that most coveted of all the white man’s stores, the maddening “fire-water.” But farther north and west for full two hundred years, from 1670 quite down to our own time, annual cargoes of these commodities were imported through Hudson Bay by the chartered company, and had been distributed by its agents among those who paid for them in peltries, in such abundance that the savages became really dependent upon them, and gradually conformed their habits to the use of them. Of course, in their raids upon English outposts, the spoils of war in the shape of such supplies added rapacity to their ferocity. It was with a proud flourish that Indian warriors, enriched by the plunder on the field of Braddock’s disastrous defeat, strutted before the walls of Fort Duquesne, arrayed in the laced hats, sashes, uniform, and gorgets of British officers.

When Céloron was sent, in 1749, by the governor of Canada, to take possession of interior posts along the Alleghanies, he found at each of the[287] Indian villages, as at Logstown, a chief centre, from a single to a dozen English traders, well supplied with goods for a brisk peltry traffic. He required the chiefs, on the threat of the loss of his favor, to expel them and to forbid their return. But the Indians insisted that they needed the goods. Some of these traders were worthless reprobates, mostly Scotch-Irish, from the frontiers of Pennsylvania. When Christopher Gist was sent, the next year, by the Ohio Land Company, to follow Céloron and to thwart his schemes, he complained strongly of these demoralized and demoralizing traders. In the evidence given before the British House of Commons on the several occasions when the monopoly and the mode of business of the Hudson Bay Company were under question, the extent to which the natives had come to depend upon European supplies was very strongly brought into notice. It was urged that some of the tribes had actually, by disuse, lost their skill in their old weapons. It was even affirmed that in some of the tribes multitudes had died by freezing and starvation, because their recent supplies had failed them. This dependence of the natives upon the resources of civilization, observable from the opening of their intercourse with the whites, has been steadily strengthening for two hundred years, till now it has become an absolute and heavy exaction upon our national treasury.

The custom which soon came in, to soften the atrocities of Indian warfare by the holding of white prisoners for ransom, was grafted upon an earlier usage among the natives of adopting prisoners or captives. There was a formal ceremonial in such cases, and after its performance those who would otherwise have been victims were treated with all kindness. The return of a war-party to its own village was attended with widely different manifestations according to the fortune which had befallen it. If it consisted only of a baffled and flying remnant that had failed in its hazardous enterprise, its coming was announced, and received by the old men, women, and youths in the village with howls and lamentations. If, however, it had been successful, as proved by rich plunder, reeking scalp-locks, and prisoners, some runners were sent in advance to announce its approach. Then began a series of orgies, in which the old squaws were the most demonstrative and hideous. While the scalp-locks were displayed and counted, the well-guarded prisoners were exultingly escorted by their captors, the squaws gathering around them with taunts and petty tormentings. The woful fate which was waiting these prisoners was foreshadowed in prolonged rehearsals for its final horrors. One by one they were forced to run the gauntlet from goal to goal, between lines of yelping fiends, under blows and missiles, stones, sticks, and tomahawks, while efforts were made to trip them in their course, that they might be pounded in their helplessness when maddened with pain. Any exhibition of weakness or dread did but intensify the malignant frenzy of their tormentors. Those who lived through this ordeal, which was intended to be but a preliminary in the barbaric[288] entertainment, and to stop short of the actual extinction of life, were afterwards, by deliberate preparations made in full view of the prisoners, subjected to all the ingenuities of rage and cruelty which untamed savage fiendishness could devise. The hero who bore the trial without flinching, singing his song of defiance, and in his turn mocking his tormentors because they failed to break his spirit, was most likely to find mercy in a finishing stroke dealt by a magnanimous foe.

Anything like an alleviation of these dread revenges of savage warfare being unallowable, there was open one way of complete relief in the usage of adoption, just referred to. This, however, was never available to the prisoner from his own first motion or prompting. He was wholly passive in the matter. It came solely from the inclination of any one in the village, a warrior or a squaw who, having recently lost a relative, or one whose service was necessary, might select a prisoner from the group as desirable to supply a place that was vacant. There would seem to have been a large liberty allowed in the exercise of this privilege, especially for those who were mourning for a relative lost in the encounter in which the prisoner was taken. Sometimes the merest caprice might prompt the selection. Scarcely, except in the rare case of some proud captive who would haughtily scorn to avail himself of a seeming affinity with the tribe of a hated or abject enemy, would the offered privilege of adoption be refused. For, in any case, an ultimate escape from an enforced durance might be looked to. Of course those who were thus adopted were mostly the young and vigorous. The little children were not especially favored in the process,—except, as soon to be noted, the children of the whites. The ceremonial for adoption was traditional. Beginning generally with somewhat rough and intimidating treatment, the captive was for a while left in suspense as to his fate. When at length the intent of the arbiter of his life was made known to him, the method pursued has been very frequently described to us in detail by the whites who were the subjects of it.[1341] The candidate was plunged and thoroughly soused in a stream to rinse out his white blood; the hair of his head, saving the scalp-lock, was plucked out; and after some mouthings and incantations, completing the initiation, all winning blandishments, arts, and appliances were engaged to secure the confidence of the adopted captive, and to draw from him some responsive sign of affection. He was arrayed in the choicer articles of forest finery, and nestled in the family lodge. The father, the squaw, or the patron, in whatever relation, to whom he henceforward belonged, spared no effort to engage and comfort him. Watchful eyes, of course, jealously guarded any restless motions[289] looking towards an escape. The final aim was to secure a fully nationalized and acclimated new member of a tribe, ready to share all its fortunes in peace and war.

Naturally there were differences in this whole process and its results, as they concerned these attempted affiliations between the members of Indian tribes and in the adoption of white captives.[1342]

In their early conflicts with the whites, the Indians generally practised an indiscriminate slaughter. There were a few exceptions to the rule in King Philip’s war.[1343] In the raids of the French, with their Indian allies, upon the English settlements, prisoners taken on either side came gradually to have the same status as in civilized warfare, and to be held for exchange. This, however, would proceed upon the supposition that both parties had prisoners. But before there was anything like equality in this matter, the captives were for the most part such as had been seized from among the whites in inroads upon their settlements, not in the open field of warfare. A midnight assault upon some frontier cabins, or upon the lodge of some lonely settler, left the savages to choose between a complete massacre or upon a selection of some of their victims for leading away with them to their own haunts, if not too cumbersome or dangerous for the wilderness journey. It soon came to be understood among the raiding parties of Indians in alliance with the French in Canada that white captives had a ransom value. Contributions were often gathered up in neighborhoods that had been[290] raided, and in the meeting-houses of New England on Sundays, for redeeming such captives as were known to be in Canada. And, curiously enough, Judge Sewall in his journal records appeals for charity in the same form for the redemption of captives in the hands of our own savages, and for the ransom of our seamen and traders who were kept in durance by African corsairs.

In the raids of desolation on either side of the Alleghanies and along the sources of the Susquehannah and the Ohio, from the outbreak of the French and Indian war, down to and even after the crushing of Pontiac’s conspiracy, while more than a thousand cabins of the borderers were burned and their inmates mostly slaughtered, several hundred captives were borne off by the Indians and distributed among their villages. The ultimate fate of these captives always hung in dread uncertainty. If a panic arose among the lodges in apprehension of an onset from a war-party of the whites, the captives might be massacred. But the force of circumstances and the urgency of interested motives steadily made it an object for their captors to retain their prisoners unharmed, and even to make captivity tolerable to them. The alternative of death or life to them generally depended upon whether they might escape or be released by an avenging party without compensation, or could be held for redemption through a ransom. The knowledge that the Indians retained such captives of course became a very effective motive in inducing their relatives in the settlements to gather parties of neighbors for following the victims into the forest depths. Temporary truces also, when made by victorious parties of the whites, were conditioned upon the surrender of all their surviving countrymen who were supposed to be in duress. The savages practised all their artifices and subterfuges in concealing some of their prisoners, alleging that they had been carried deeper into the country by new masters, or by positively denying all knowledge of their whereabouts. But the persistency and threats of those who had learned how to deal with these red diplomates, with a few resolute strokes generally brought about their surrender. When Bouquet had secured possession of Fort Duquesne with his army of 1,500 men, he stoutly followed up his success beyond the Ohio to the Indian settlements near the Muskingum, and with his sturdy pluck and strong force he overawed the representatives of the neighboring tribes which he had summoned to meet him. He insisted, as the first condition of a truce, upon the delivery of all the white prisoners secluded among them, not only without the payment of any ransom, but upon their being brought in with a protecting escort and with means of sustenance. Of course there was always ignorance or doubt as to the number of captives in any particular place, and as to the hands into which any individual known or supposed to be in durance might have fallen. The word of an Indian on these points was worthless unless backed by other testimony. A stimulating of the tongue into unguarded speech by a dram of rum might in some cases serve the purpose of the rack or the thumb-screw in more civilized cross-examinations. An uncertainty of[291] course always hung over the survival or the whereabouts of individuals or members of a family whose bodies had not been found on the scene of an Indian frontier raid. Bouquet was accompanied by friends and relatives of supposed survivors held in captivity as the spoils of some massacre, and these might be depended upon to circumvent the falsehoods and cunning of the captors, and to insist upon their giving up their prizes. The persistency and the plain evidence of resolved purpose manifested by Bouquet finally compelled from the representatives of the tribes in council a pledge to surrender all the prisoners in their hands, and messengers were sent out to gather and bring them in, though with some plausible excuses for delay, and the grudging return of only a part of them. But those who were given up became the best witnesses as to the deception practised by the cunning culprits in holding back others. Only after repeated exposures of falsehood by those so grudgingly surrendered, asserting of their own knowledge that there were others held in durance, whom they might even know by name, was there brought about a full deliverance, saving that, whether truly or falsely, in the case of a few individuals demanded the excuse was alleged that they belonged to some chief or tribe absent at a distance on a hunt, and so not to be reached by a summons. Bouquet was also absolute in his demand for all such white captives, young or old, as were alleged to have been adopted or married among the tribes. His firmly insisting upon this, and the compliance with it in many cases, led to some scenic manifestations in the wilderness, of a highly dramatic character, full of the matter of romance in their revelations of the working of human nature under novel and strange conditions. Such manifestations often attended similar scenes in the ransom or forced surrender of whites who had been in captivity among the Indians. But in this special instance of Bouquet’s resolute course with the Ohio tribes, numbers, variety, picturesqueness in those manifestations, gave to the bringing in and the reception of captives features and incidents which strongly engage alike the sympathies and antipathies of human nature. Some of those brought into Bouquet’s camp, who had once at least been whites, came with full as much reluctance on their part as that which was felt by those who gave them up. Indeed, several of them could be secured only by being bound and guarded.

Approximation in all degrees to the manners and habits of Indian life and to all the qualities of Indian nature had been realized by Europeans from the first contact of the races on this continent. Of course the instances were numerous and very decisive in which this approximation was completed, and resulted in a substitution of all the ways and habits of savagery for those of civilization. Many of those who were forced back into Bouquet’s camp clung to their Indian friends, and repelled all the manifestations of joy and affection of their own nearest kin by blood. They positively refused to return to the settlements. They had been won by preference to the fascinations and license of a life in the wilderness. This preference was by no means inexplicable, even for some full-grown men and[292] women who had been reared in the white settlements. Life in scattered cabins on the frontiers had more points of resemblance than of difference in hard conditions and privations, when compared with savage life in the woods. Such society as these scattered cabins afforded was rude and rough, all experiences were precarious, daily drudgery was severe, the solitary homes were gloomy, and only exceptional cases of early domestic and mental training alleviated the stern exigencies of the condition of the first generation of the settlers. For women and children especially, the outlook and the routine of life were dismal enough. As for the men, the more they conformed themselves in many respects to the actual habits and resources of the Indians in the training of their instincts, in their garb, their food, their adaptation of themselves to the ways and resources of nature, the easier was their lot. Many women, likewise made captives by the savages, in some cases of mature age, and having looked forward to the usual lot of marriage, found an Indian to be preferable, or at all events tolerable, as a husband. Children who preserved but a faint remembrance of home and parents very readily adopted savage tastes, and testified by their shrieks and struggles their unwillingness to part from their red friends. Specimens from each of these classes were the most marked and demonstrative among the groups brought in to Bouquet from Indian lodges, being in number more than two hundred. Doubtless, however, the majority of them had had enough of the experiences of savage life to make a return to the settlements a welcome release. Such persons thenceforward constituted a useful class as interpreters, mediators, and messengers between the contending parties. Their knowledge of Indian character, superstitions, limitations, weak and strong points, impulsive excitability, stratagems, and adaptability to circumstance proved on many emergent occasions of good account. Such of these returned captives as had had the rudiments of an education, and were trustworthy as narrators, have made valuable contributions to local history.

Among many such intelligent and trustworthy reporters was Col. James Smith, captured on the borders of Pennsylvania in 1755, when eighteen years of age, and kept in captivity five years. Another was John McCullough, taken at about the same time and from the near neighborhood, when eight years old. He was retained eight years, and, being a quick-witted and observing youth, he kept his eyes and ears open to all that he could learn. From such sources we derive the most authentic information we possess of that transition period in the condition and fortunes of many of our aboriginal tribes when the intrusion of Europeans upon them with their tempting goods and their rival schemes, which equally tended to dispossess them of their heritage, introduced among them so many novel complications. Some of the narratives of the whites, who, under the conditions just referred to, lived for years and were assimilated with the Indians, present us occasionally by no means unattractive pictures of the ordinary tenor of life among them. In the brief intervals of peace, and in some favored recesses where[293] game abounded and the changing seasons brought round festivals, plays, and scenes of jollity, there were even fascinations to delight one of simple tastes, who could enjoy the aspects of nature, share the easy tramp over mossy trails, content himself with the viands of the wilderness, employ the long hours of laziness in easy handiwork, delight in basking beneath the soft hazes of the Indian summer, or listening to the traditional lore of the winter wigwam. The forests very soon began to be the shelter and the roving haunts of a crew of renegades and outlaws from the settlements, who assimilated at all points with the savages, and often used what remained to them of the knowledge and arts of civilization for ingenious purposes of mischief. It has always proved a vastly more easy and rapid process for white men to fall back into barbarism than for an Indian to conform himself to civilization. Wild life brought out all reversionary tendencies, and revived primitive qualities and instincts. It gave those who shared it a full opportunity to become oblivious of all fastidious tastes and of all the squeamishness of over-delicacy. The promiscuous contents of the camp-kettle, with its deposits and incrustations from previous banquets, were partaken of with a zestful appetite. The circumstances of warfare in the woods quickened all the faculties of watchfulness, made even the natural coward brave, imparted endurance, and multiplied all the ingenuities of resource and stratagem. There is something that surpasses the merely marvellous in the feats of sturdy and persevering scouts, escaped captives, remnants of a butchery, messengers sent to carry intelligence in supreme peril, and lonely wayfarers treading the haunted forests, or creeping stealthily through ambushed defiles, penetrating marshes, using the sky and their woodcraft for guidance, fording or swimming choked or icy streams, climbing high tree-tops for a wider survey from the closed woods and thickets, subsisting on roots and berries and moss, and yielding to the exhaustion of nature only when all perils were passed and the refuge was reached. Alike on the march of armies and in the siege of some little forest stronghold surrounded by yelping savages, it was necessary from time to time to send out a single plucky hero to carry or to obtain intelligence. When such a messenger was not designated by the commander, and the extremity of the emergency left the dismal honor to a volunteer, such was never found to be lacking. It confounds all calculations of the law of chances to learn how, even in the majority of such dire enterprises as are on record, fortune favored the brave. Narratives there are which for ages to come will gather all the exciting elements of tragedy and romance, and occasionally even of comedy, as, set down in the language of the woods, without the constraints of art or grammar, they make us for the moment companions of some imperilled man or woman who borrowed of the bear, the deer, the fox, or the beaver, their several instincts and stratagems for outwitting pursuit and clinging to dear life. Rare, it may be, but still well authenticated, are cases of victims with a strong tenacity of vitality, who, left as dead, mutilated and scalped, reasserted themselves when the foe had gone,[294] found their way back to their homes, and, after such reconstruction as the art of the time would allow, enjoyed a long life afterwards.

The conditions attending the entrance of European war-parties, with their necessary supplies, into the depths of the wilderness were of the most severe and exacting character. They involved equally the outlay of toil and an exposure to perils requiring the most watchful vigilance. Well-worn trails made by the natives, and always sufficiently travelled to keep them open, had long been in use for such purposes as were needed in primitive conditions. These were very narrow, necessitating that progress should be made through them singly, in “Indian file.” At portages or carrying-places, burdens were borne on the back from one watercourse to another, round a rapid or across an elevation. Some of these trails are even now traceable in the oldest settled portions of the country, where the woods have never been wholly cleared. Part of that which was availed of by the whites two hundred and fifty years ago between Plymouth and Boston, and others in untilled portions of the Old Colony, are clearly discernible. The thickets and undergrowths came close to the borders of these trails, and the overhanging branches of the trees were found a grievous annoyance when the earliest traders with pack-horses traversed them. In a large part of our present national domain and in Canada, it may safely be said that nineteen twentieths of all movement from place to place was made by the savages by the watercourses of lake and stream, and the same was done by the Europeans till they brought into use horses first, and then carts. These were first put to service by the traders from the English settlements on the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia. The pack-horses, heavily laden, trained to their rough service for rocky and marshy grounds, as well as for the thick and stifling depths of the forest, and able to subsist on very poor forage, carried goods most prized by the natives, and generally in inverse ratio to their real worth. They returned to the settlements from the Indian villages with a burden of precious furs, the traffickers mutually finding their account in their respective shares in barter and profit. These traders with their pack-horses were for a long time the pioneers of the actual settlers. The methods and results of their traffic, trifling as they may seem to be, had the two leading consequences of critical importance: first, they made the Indians acquainted with and dependent upon the white man’s goods, and then they provoked and embittered the rival competition between the French and the English for the considerable profits.

What we now call a military road was first undertaken on a serious scale in the advance of the disastrous expedition of General Braddock, in 1755, over the Alleghanies to the forks of the Ohio. The incumbrances with which he burdened himself might wisely have been greatly reduced in kind and in amount. But the exigencies of the service in which he was engaged were but poorly apprehended by him. As in the case of the even more disastrous campaign of General Burgoyne, twenty-two years later, (1777) though his route was mainly by water, the camp was lavishly supplied with[295] appliances of luxury and sensuality. Braddock’s way for his cattle, carts, and artillery was slowly and poorly prepared by pioneers in advance, levelling trees, stiffening marshy places, removing rocks and bushes, and then leaving huge stumps in the devious track to rack the wagons and torment the draught animals. It is not without surprise that we read of the presence of domestic cattle far off in the extreme outposts of single persevering settlers. But when, on the first extensive military expeditions for building a fort on the shore of a lake, at river forks, or to command a portage, we find mention of cannon and heavy ammunition, we marvel at the perseverance involved in their transportation. The casks of liquor, of French brandy and of New England rum, which generally, without stint, formed a part of the stores of each military enterprise, furnished in themselves a motive spirit which facilitated their transport. Flour and bread could, with many risks from stream and weather, be carried in sacks. But pork and beef in pickle, the mainstay in garrisons which could not venture out to hunt or fish, required to be packed in wood. After all the persevering toil engaged in this transportation, the dire necessities of warfare under these stern conditions often compelled the destruction of the stores, every article of which had tasked the strained muscles and sinews of the hard-worked campaigners. When it was found necessary to evacuate a forest post, the stockade was set on fire, the magazine was exploded, the cannon spiked, the powder thrown into the water, and everything that could not be carried off in a hasty retreat was, if possible, rendered useless as booty. As the French and English military movements steadily extended over a wider territory and at more numerous points, with increased forces, the waste and havoc caused by disasters on either side involved an enormous destruction of the materials of war. Vessels constructed with incredible labor on the lakes, anvils, cordage, iron, and artillery having been gathered for their building and arming by perilous ocean voyages and by transit through inner waters and portages, and thousands of bateaux for Lakes Champlain and George, now lie sunken in the depths, most of them destroyed by those in whose service they were to be employed. The “Griffin,” the first vessel on Lake Erie, built by La Salle in 1679, disappeared on her second voyage, and lies beneath the waters still. After Braddock’s defeat, when the fugitive remnant of his army had reached Dunbar’s camp, a hundred and fifty wagons were burned, and fifty thousand pounds of powder were emptied into a creek, after the incredible toil by which they had been drawn over the mountains and morasses.

There were many occasions and many reasons which prompted the Europeans to weigh the gain or loss which resulted to them from the employment of Indian allies, who were always an incalculable element in any enterprise. They could never be depended upon for constancy or persistency. A bold stroke, followed, if successful, with butchery, and a rush to the covert of the woods if a failure, was the sum of their strategy. They had a quick eye in watching the turning fortunes and the probable issue of[296] a venture, and they acted accordingly. They were wholly disinclined for any protracted siege operations. In the weary months of the investment of Detroit, the only enterprise of the sort engaged in by large bodies of savages acting in concert, we find a single exceptional case of their uniform impatience of such prolonged strategy. And even in that case there were intervals when the imperilled and starving garrison had breathing-spells for recuperation. Charges and counter-charges, pleas and criminations of every kind, plausible, false, or sincere, are found in the journals and reports of English and French officers, prompted by accusations and vindications of either party, called out by the atrocities and butcheries wrought by their savage allies in many of the conflicts of the French and Indian war. In vain did the commanders of the white forces on either side promise that their red allies should be restrained from plunder and barbarity against the defeated party. It was an attempt to bridle a storm. From the written opinions expressed by various civil and military officials during all our Indian wars one might gather a list of judgments, always emphatically worded, as to the qualities of the red men as allies. Governor Dinwiddie, writing in May 28, 1756, to General Abercrombie, on his arrival here to hold the chief command till the coming of Lord Loudon, expresses himself thus: “I think we have secured the Six Nations to the Northward to our Interest who, I suppose, will join your Forces. They are a very awkward, dirty sett of People, yet absolutely necessary to attack the Enemy’s Indians in their way of fighting and scowering the Woods before an Army. I am perswaded they will appear a despicable sett of People to his Lordship and you, but they will expect to be taken particular Notice of, and now and then some few Presents. I fear General Braddock despised them too much, which probably was of Disservice to him, and I really think without some of them any engagement in the Woods would prove fatal, and if strongly attached to our Interest they are able in their way to do more than three Times their Number. They are naturally inclined to Drink. It will be a prudent Stepp to restrain them with Moderation, and by some of your Subalterns to shew them Respect.”[1344] Baron Dieskau, in 1755, had abundant reason for expressing himself about his savage auxiliaries in this fashion: “They drive us crazy from morning to night. One needs the patience of an angel to get on with these devils, and yet one must always force himself to seem pleased with them.”[1345]

It would seem as if the native tribes, when Europeans first secured a lodgment, were beguiled by a fancy which in most cases was very rudely dispelled. This fancy was that the new-comers might abide here without displacing them. The natives in giving deeds of lands, as has been said, had apparently no idea that they had made an absolute surrender of territory. They seem to have imagined that something like a joint occupancy[297] was possible, each of the parties being at liberty to follow his own ways and interests without molesting the other. So the Indians did not move off to a distance, but frequented their old haunts, hoping to derive advantage from the neighborhood of the white man. King Philip in 1675 discerned and acutely defined the utter impracticability of any such joint occupancy. He indicated the root of the impending ruin to his own race, and he found a justification of the conspiracy which he instigated in pointing to the white man’s clearings and fences, and to the impossibility of joining planting with hunting, and domestic cattle with wild game.

The history of the Hudson Bay Company and that of the enterprises conducted by the French for more than a century, when set in contrast with the steady development of colonization by English settlers and by the people of the United States succeeding to them, brings out in full force the different relations into which the aborigines have always been brought by the presence of Europeans among them, either as traders or possessors of territory. The Hudson Bay Company for exactly two centuries, from 1670 to 1870, held a charter for the monopoly of trade with the Indians here over an immense extent of territory, and in the later portion of that period held an especial grant for exclusive trade over an even more extended region, further north and west. The company made only such a very limited occupancy of the country, at small and widely distant posts, as was necessary for its trucking purposes and the exchange of European goods for peltries. During that whole period, allowing for rare casualties, not a single act of hostility occurred between the traders and the natives. A large number of different tribes, often at bitter feud with each other, were all kept in amity with the official residents of the company, and each party probably found as much satisfaction in the two sides of a bargain as is usual in such transactions. Deposits of goods were securely gathered in some post far off in the depths of the wilderness, under the care of two or three young apprentices of the company, and here bands of Indians at the proper season came for barter. Previous to the operations of this company, beginning as early as 1620, large numbers of Frenchmen, singly or in parties, ventured deep into the wilderness in company with savage bands, for purposes of adventure or traffic, and very rarely did any of them meet a mishap or fail to find a welcome. Such adventurers in fact became in most cases Indians in their manner of life. Nor did the jealousy of the savages manifest itself in a way not readily appeased when they found the French priests planting mission stations and truck-houses. In no case did the French intruders ask, as did the English colonists, for deeds of territory. It was understood that they held simply by sufferance, and with a view to mutual advantage for both parties, with no purpose of overreaching. The relations thus established between the French and the natives continued down till even after the extinction of the territorial claims of France. And when, just before the opening of the great French and Indian hostilities with the English colonists, the French had manifested their[298] purpose to get a foothold on the heritage of the savages by pushing a line of strongly fortified posts along their lakes and rivers, the apprehensions of the savages were craftily relieved by the plea that these securities were designed only to prevent the encroachment of the English.

A peaceful traffic with the Indians, like that of the Hudson Bay Company and the French, had been from the first but a subordinate object of the English colonists. These last, while for a period they confined themselves to the seaboard, supplemented their agricultural enterprise by the fishery and by a very profitable commerce. As soon as they began to penetrate into the interior they took with them their families and herds, made fixed habitations, put up their fences and dammed the streams. Instead of fraternizing with the Indians, they warned them off as nuisances. We must also take into view the fact that this steadily advancing settlement of the Indian country directly provoked and encouraged the resolute though baffled opposition of the savages. They could match forces with these scattered pioneers, even if, as was generally the case, a few families united in constructing a palisadoed and fortified stronghold to which they might gather for refuge. If a body of courageous men had advanced together well prepared for common defence, it is certain the warfare would not have been so desultory as it proved to be. All the wiles of the Indians in conducting their hostilities gave them a great advantage. They thought that the whites might be dislodged effectually from further trespasses if once and again they were visited by sharp penalties for their rash intrusion. It was plain that they were long in coming to a full apprehension of the pluck of their invaders, of their recuperative energies, and of the reserved forces which were behind them. From the irregular base line of the coast the English advanced into the interior, not by direct parallel lines, but rather by successive semicircles of steadily extending radii. The advances from the middle colonies of Pennsylvania and Virginia marked the farthest reaches in this curvature. The French, in the mean while, aimed from the start for occupying the interior.

The period which we have here under review is one through which the savages, for the most part, were but subordinate agents, the principals being the French and the English. So far as the diplomatic faculties of the savages enabled them to hold in view the conditions of the strife, there were doubtless occasions in which they thought they held what among civilized nations is called the balance of power. Nor would it have been strange if, at times, their chiefs had imagined that, though it might be impossible for them again to hold possession of their old domains free from the intrusion of the white man, they might have power to decide which of the two nationalities should be favored above the other. In that case the French doubtless would have been the favored party. We have, however, to take into view the vast disproportion between the numbers, if not of the resources, of these two foreign nationalities, when the struggle between them[299] earnestly began. In 1688 there were about eleven thousand of the French in America, and nearly twenty times as many English. The French were unified under the control of their home government. Its resources were at their call: its army and navy, its arsenals and treasury, its monarch and ministers, might be supposed to be serviceable and engaged for making its mastery on this continent secure. The English, however, were only nominally, and as regards some of the colonies even reluctantly and but truculently, under the control of their home government. It had been the jealous policy of the New England colonists, from their first planting, to isolate themselves from the mother-country, and to make self-dependence the basis of independence. Their circumstances had thrown them on their own resources, and made them feel that as their foreign superiors could know very little of their emergencies, it was not wise or even right in them to interpose in their affairs. Indeed, it is evident that all the British colonists felt themselves equal, without advice or help from abroad, to take care of themselves, if they had to contend only against the savages. But when the savages had behind them the power of the French monarch, it was of necessity that the English should receive a reinforcement from their own countrymen. In the altercations with the British ministry which followed very soon after the close of the French and Indian war, a keenly argued question came under debate as to the claim which the mother-country had upon the gratitude of her colonists for coming to their rescue when threatened with ruin from their red and white enemies. And the answer to this question was judged to depend upon whether, in sending hither her fleets and armies, Britain had in view an extension of her transatlantic domains or the protection of her imperilled subjects. At any rate, there were jealousies, cross-purposes, and an entire lack of harmony between the direct representatives of English military power and the coöperating measures of the colonial government. Never, under any stress of circumstances, was England willing to raise even the most serviceable of the officers of the provincial forces to the rank of regulars in her own army. The youthful Washington, whose sagacity and prowess had proved themselves in field and council where British officers were so humiliated, had to remain content with the rank of a provincial colonel. Nor did the provincial legislatures act in concert either with each other, or with the advice and appeals of their royal governors in raising men, money or supplies for combined military operations against common enemies. Each of the colonies thought it sufficient to provide for itself. Each was even dilatory and backward when its own special peril was urgent. These embarrassments of the English did very much to compensate the French for their great inferiority in numerical strength. We are again to remind ourselves of the fact that the French, alike from their temperament and their policy, were always vastly more congenial and influential with the savages.

The French in Canada from the first adopted the policy of alliance with[300] native tribes. Though their warfare with the English was hardly intermittent, there were several occasions when it was specially active. Beginning with the first invasion of the Iroquois territory by Champlain, in 1609, already mentioned, under the plea of espousing the side of his friends and allies, the Hurons and Algonquins, other like enterprises were later pursued. Courcelles, in 1666, made a wild and unsuccessful inroad upon the Iroquois. Tracy made a more effective one in the same year. De la Barre in 1684, Denonville in 1687, and Frontenac in 1693 and 1696, repeated these onsets. The last of these invasions of what is now Central New York was intended to effect the complete exhaustion of the Indian confederacy. Its havoc was indeed well-nigh crushing, but there was a tenacity and a recuperative power in that confederacy of savages which yielded only to a like desolating blow inflicted by Sullivan, under orders from Washington, in our Revolutionary War.

This formidable league of the Five Nations, when first known to Europeans, claimed to have obtained by conquest the whole country from the lakes to the Carolinas, and from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. France, as against other Europeans, though not against the Indians, claimed the same territory. Great Britain claimed the valley of the Ohio and its tributaries, first against the French as being merely the longitudinal extension of the line of seacoast discovered by English navigators, and then through cessions from and treaties with the Five Nations. The first of these treaties was that made at Lancaster, Pa., in June, 1744. But the Indians afterwards complained that they had been overreached, and had not intended to cede any territory west of the Alleghanies. Here, of course, with three parties in contention, there was basis enough for struggles in which the prize, all considerations of natural justice being excluded, was to be won only by superior power. Neither of the rivals and intruders from across the ocean dealt with the Indians as if even they had any absolute right to territory from which they claimed to have driven off former possessors. So the Indian prerogative was recognized by the French and the English as available only on either side for backing up some rival claim of the one or the other nation; though when the mother-countries were at peace in Europe, their subjects here by no means felt bound even to a show of truce, and they were always most ready to avail themselves of a declaration of war at home to make their wilderness campaigns. It is curious to note that in all the negotiations between the Indians and Europeans, including those of our own government, the only landed right recognized as belonging to the savages was that of giving up territory. The prior right of ownership by the tenure of possession was regarded as invalidated both by the manner in which it had been acquired and by a lack to make a good use of it.

It was in the closing years of the seventeenth century and in those opening the eighteenth that the military and the priestly representatives of France in Canada resolutely advised and undertook the measures which[301] promised to give them a secure and extended possession of the whole north of the continent, excepting only the strip on the Atlantic seaboard then firmly held by the English colonists. Even this excepted region of territory was by no means, however, regarded as positively irreclaimable, and military enterprises were often planned with the aim of a complete extinction of English possession. The French in their earliest explorations, in penetrating the country to the west and to the south, had been keenly observant in marking the strategic points on lake and river for strongholds which should give them the advantage of single positions and secure a chain of posts for easy and safe communications. Their leading object was to gain an ascendency over the native tribes; and as they could not expect easily and at once to get the mastery over them all, policy dictated such a skilful turning to account of their feuds among themselves as would secure strong alliances of interest and friendship with the more powerful ones. The French did vastly more than the English to encourage the passions of the savages for war and to train them in military skill and artifice, leaving them for the most part unchecked in the indulgence of their ferocity. It is true that the Dutch and the English had the start in supplying the savages with firearms, under the excuse that they were needed by the natives for the most effective support of the rapidly increasing trade in peltries. But the French were not slow to follow the example, as it presented to them a matter of necessity. And through the long and bloody struggle between the two European nationalities with their red allies, it may be safely affirmed that the frontier warfare of the English colonists was waged against savages armed as well as led on by the French.

Two objects, generally harmonious and mutually helpful of each other, inspired the activity of the French in taking possession successively of posts in the interior of the continent. The first of these was the establishment of mission stations for the conversion of the savages. The other object of these wilderness posts was to secure the lucrative gains of the fur trade from an ever-extending interior. Though, as was just said, these two objects might generally be harmoniously pursued, it was not always found easy or possible to keep them in amity, or to prevent sharp collisions between them. There was a vigorous rivalry in the fur trade between the members of an associated company, with a government monopoly for the traffic, and very keenly enterprising individuals who pursued it, with but little success in concealing their doings, in defiance of the monopolists. The burden of the official correspondence between the authorities in Canada and those at the French court related to the irregularities and abuses of this traffic. Incident to these was a lively plying of the temptations of that other traffic which poured into the wilderness floods of French brandy. The taste of this fiery stimulant once roused in a savage could rarely afterwards be appeased. The English colonists soon gained an advantage in this traffic in their manufacture of cheap rum. It is easy to see how this rivalry between monopolists and individuals in the fur trade, aided by the[302] stimulant for which the Indian was most craving, would impair the spiritual labors of the priests at their wild stations. Nor were there lacking instances in which the priests themselves were charged with sharing not only the gains of the fur trade, but also those of the brandy traffic, either in the interests of the monopolists or of individuals.

The earliest extended operations of the French fur trade with the Indians were carried on by the northerly route to Lake Huron by the Ottawa River. The French had little to apprehend from English interference by this difficult route with its many portages. But it soon became of vital necessity to the French to take and hold strong points on the line of the Great Lakes. These were on the narrow streams which made the junctions between them. So a fort was to be planted at Niagara, between Ontario and Erie; another at Detroit, between Erie and Huron; another at Michilimackinac, between Michigan and Huron; another at the fall of the waters of Superior into Huron; and Fort St. Joseph, near the head of Lake Michigan, facilitated communication with the Illinois and the Miami tribes; the Ojibwas, Ottawas, Wyandots, and Pottawattomies having their settlements around the westernmost of the lakes, the Sioux being still beyond. South of Lake Erie, in the region afterwards known as the Northwest Territory, between the Alleghanies, the Ohio, and the Mississippi, were the Delawares, the Shawanees, and the Mingoes. It is to be kept in view that this territory, though formally ceded by France to England in the treaty of 1762-63, had previously been claimed by the English colonists as rightfully belonging to their monarch, it being merely the undefined extension of the seacoast held by virtue of the discovery of the Cabots.

The fifth volume of the Mémoires published by Margry gives us the original documents, dating 1683-1695, relating to the first project for opening a chain of posts to hold control of, and to facilitate communication between, Canada and the west and south of the continent. The project was soon made to extend its purpose to the Gulf of Mexico. The incursions of the Iroquois and the attempted invasions of the English, with a consequent drawing off of trade from the French, had obliged the Marquis Denonville to abandon some of the posts that had been established. In spite of the opposition of Champigny, Frontenac vigorously urged measures for the repossession and strengthening of these posts. The Jesuits were earnest in pressing the measure upon the governors of Canada. In pushing on the enterprise, the French had sharp experience of the intense hostility of the inner tribes who were to be encountered, and who were to be first conciliated. The French followed a policy quite unlike that of the English in the method of their negotiations for the occupancy of land. The colonists of the latter aimed to secure by treaty and purchase the absolute fee and ownership of a given region. They intended to hold it generally for cultivation, and they expected the Indians then claiming it to vacate it. The French beguiled the Indians by asserting that they had no intention either of purchasing or forcibly occupying, as if it were their own, any spot where[303] they established a stronghold, a trucking or a mission station. They professed to hold only by sufferance, and that, too, simply for the security and benefit of the natives, in furnishing them with a better religion than their own and with the white man’s goods. The Iroquois, finding the hunting and trapping of game for the English so profitable on their own territory, were bent on extending their field. They hoped, by penetrating to Michilimackinac, to make themselves the agents or medium for the trade with the tribes near it, so that they could control the whole southern traffic. So they had declared war against the Illinois, the Miamis, the Ottawas, and the Hurons. It was of vital importance to the French to keep firm hold of Lakes Ontario and Erie, and to guard their connections. The Iroquois were always the threatening obstacle. It was affirmed that they had become so debauched by strong drink that their squaws could not nourish their few children, and that they had availed themselves of an adoption of those taken from their enemies. As they obtained their firearms with comparative cheapness from the English on the Hudson and Mohawk, they used them with vigor against the inner tribes with their primitive weapons, and were soon to find them of service against the English on the frontiers of Virginia. So keenly did the English press their trade as to cause a wavering of the loyalty of those Indian tribes who had been the first and the fast friends of the French. Thus it was but natural that the Iroquois should be acute enough to oppose the building of a French stronghold at any of the selected posts.

In 1699,[1346] La Mothe Cadillac proposed to assemble their red allies, then much dispersed, and principally the Ottawas, at Detroit, and there to construct both a fort and a village. At the bottom of this purpose, and of the opposition to it, was a contention between rival parties in the traffic. The favorers and the opponents of the design made their respective representations to the French court. De Callières objected to the plan because of the proximity of the hostile Iroquois, who would prefer to turn all the trade to the English, and his preference was to reëstablish the old posts. The real issue to be faced was whether the Indians now, and ultimately, were to be made subjects of the English or of the French monarch. Cadillac combated the objections of Callières, and succeeded in effecting his design at Detroit. The extension of the traffic was constantly bringing into the field tribes heretofore too remote for free intercourse. In each such case it depended upon various contingencies to decide whether the French or the English would find friends or foes in these new parties, and the alternative would generally rest, temporarily at least, upon which party was most accessible and most profitable for trade. It would hardly be worth the while for an historian, unless dealing with the special theme of the rivalries involved in the fur trade as deciding with which party of the whites one or another tribe came into amity, to attempt to trace the conditions and consequences of such diplomacy in inconstant negotiators.


The English began the series of attempts to bind the Five, afterwards the Six, Nations into amity or neutrality by treaty in 1674. These treaties were wearisome in their formalities, generally unsatisfactory in their terms of assurance, and so subject to caprice and the changes of fortune as to need confirmation and renewal, as suspicion or alleged treachery on either side made them practically worthless. There were two ends to be gained by these treaties of the English with the confederated tribes. The one was to avert hostilities from the English and to secure them privileges of transit for trade. The other object, not always avowed, but implied as a natural consequent of the first, was to alienate the tribes from the French, and if possible to keep them in a state of local or general conflict. Each specification of these treaties was to be emphasized by the exchange of a wampum belt. Then a largess of presents, always including rum, was the final ratification. These goods were of considerable cost to the English, but always seemed a niggard gift to the Indians, as there were so many to share in them.

The first of this series of treaties was that made in 1674, at Albany, by Col. Henry Coursey, in behalf of the colonists of Virginia. It was of little more service than as it initiated the parties into the method of such proceedings.

In the middle of July, 1684, Lord Howard, governor of Virginia, summoned a council of the sachems of the Five Nations to Albany. He was attended by two of his council and by Governor Dongan of New York, and some of the magistrates of Albany. Howard charged upon the savages the butcheries and plunderings which they had committed seven years previous in Virginia and Maryland, “belonging to the great king of England.” He told the sachems that the English had intended at once to avenge those outrages, but through the advice of Sir Edmund Andros, then governor-general of the country, had sent peaceful messengers to them. The sachems had proved perfidious to the pledges they then gave, and the governor, after threatening them, demanded from them conditions of future amity. After their usual fashion of shifting responsibility and professions of regret and future fidelity, the sachems renewed their covenants. Under the prompting of Governor Dongan they asked that the Duke of York’s arms should be placed on the Mohawk castles, as a protection against their enemies, the French. Doubtless the Indians, in desiring, or perhaps only assenting to, the affixing of these English insignia to their strongholds, might have had in view only the effect of them in warning off the French. They certainly did not realize that their English guests would ever afterwards, as they did, regard this concession of the tribes as an avowal of allegiance to the king of Great Britain, and as adopting for themselves the relation of subjects of a foreign monarch.

The experience gained by many previous attempts to secure the fidelity of the tribes, thenceforward known as the Six Nations by the incorporation into the confederacy of the remnant of the Tuscaroras, was put to service[305] in three succeeding councils for treaty-making, held respectively at Philadelphia in 1742, in Lancaster, Pa., in 1744,[1347] and at Albany in 1746.[1348] Much allowance is doubtless to be made in the conduct of the earlier treaties for the lack of competent and faithful interpreters in councils made up of representatives of several tribes, with different languages and idioms. Interpreters have by no means always proved trustworthy, even when qualified for their office.[1349] The difficulty was early experienced of putting into our simple mother-tongue the real substance of an Indian harangue, which was embarrassed and expanded by images and flowers of native rhetoric, wrought from the structure of their symbolic language, but adding nothing to the terms or import of the address. It was observed that often an interpreter, anxious only to state the gist of the matter in hand, would render in a single English sentence an elaborately ornate speech of an orator that had extended through many minutes in its utterance. The orator might naturally mistrust whether full justice had been done to his plea or argument. There is by no means a unanimity in the opinions or the judgments of those of equal intelligence, who have reported to us the harangues of Indians in councils, as to the qualities of their eloquence or rhetoric. The entire lack of terms for the expression of abstract ideas compelled them to draw their illustrations from natural objects and relations. Signs and gestures made up a large part of the significance of a discourse. Doubtless the cases were frequent in which the representation of a tribe in a council was made through so few of its members that there might be reasonable grounds for objection on the part of a majority to the terms of any covenant or treaty that had been made by a chief or an orator. Of one very convenient and plausible subterfuge, or honest plea,—whichever in any given case it might have been,—our native tribes have always been skilful in availing themselves. The assumption was that the elder, the graver, wiser representatives of a tribe were those who appeared on its behalf at a council. When circumstances afterwards led the whites to complain of a breach of the conditions agreed on, the blame was always laid by the chiefs on their “young men,” whom they had been unable to restrain.

During the long term of intermittent warfare of the French and English on this continent, with native tribes respectively for their foes or allies, the [306]conditions of the conflict, as before hinted, were in general but slightly affected by the alternative of peace or war as existing at any time between their sovereigns and people in Europe. Some of the fiercest episodes of the struggle on this soil took place during the intervals of truce, armistice, and temporary treaty settlements between the leading powers in the old world. When, in the treaties closing a series of campaigns, the settlement in the articles of peace included a restoration of the territory which had been obtained by either party by conquest, no permanent result was really secured. These restitutions were always subject to reclamation. Valuable and strategic points of territory merely changed hands for the time being; Acadia, for example, being seven times tossed as a shuttlecock between the parties to the settlement. The trial had to be renewed and repeated till the decision was of such a sort as to give promise of finality. The prize contended for here was really the mastery of the whole continent, though the largeness of the stake was not appreciated till the closing years of the struggle. Indeed, the breadth and compass of the field were then unknown quantities. Those closing years of stratagem and carnage in our forests correspond to what is known in history as the “Seven Years’ War” in Europe, in which France, as a contestant, was worsted in the other quarters of the globe, as in this. Clive broke her power in India, as the generals of Britain discomfited her here. The French, in 1758, held a profitable mercantile settlement on five hundred miles of coast in Africa, between Cape Blanco and the river Gambia. It is one of the curious contrarieties in the workings of the same avowed principles under different conditions, that just at the time that the pacific policy of the Pennsylvania Quakers forbade their offering aid to their countrymen under the bloody work going on upon their frontiers, an eminent English Quaker merchant, Thomas Cumming, framed the successful scheme of conquest over this French settlement in Africa.[1350]

The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1748, seemed to promise a breathing-time in the strife between the French and English here. In fact, however, so far from there being even a smouldering of the embers on our soil, that date marks the kindling of the conflagration which, continuing to blaze for fifteen years onward, comprehended all the decisive campaigns. The earliest of these were ominous and disheartening to the English, but they closed with the fullness of triumph. We must trace with conciseness the more prominent acts and incidents in which the natives, with the French and English, protracted and closed the strife.

When Europeans entered upon the region now known as Pennsylvania, though its well-watered and fertile territory and its abounding game would seem to have well adapted it to the uses of savage life, it does not appear that it was populously occupied. The Delawares, which had held it at an earlier period, had, previously to the coming of the whites, been subjugated by the more warlike tribes of the Five Nations, or Iroquois. Some of the[307] vanquished had passed to the south or west, to be merged in other bands of the natives. Such of them as remained in their old haunts were humiliated by their masters, despised as “women,” and denied the privileges of warriors. While the Five Nations were thus potent in the upper portion of Pennsylvania, around the sources of the Susquehanna, its southern region was held by the Shawanees. The first purchase near the upper region made by Europeans of the natives was by a colony of Swedes, under Governor John Printz, in 1643. This colony was subdued, though allowed to remain on its lands, by the Dutch, in 1655. In 1664, the English took possession of all Pennsylvania, and of everything that had been held by the Dutch. Penn founded his province in 1682, by grant from Charles II., and in the next year made his much-lauded treaty of peace and purchase with the Indians for lands west and north of his city. The attractions of the province, and the easy opening of its privileges to others than the Friends, drew to it a rapid and enterprising immigration. In 1729 there came in, principally from the north of Ireland, 6,207 settlers. In 1750 there arrived 4,317 Germans and 1,000 English. The population of the province in 1769 was estimated at 250,000. The Irish settlers were mostly Presbyterians, the Germans largely Moravians. It soon appeared, especially when the ravages of the Indians on the frontiers were most exasperating and disastrous, that there were elements of bitter discord between these secondary parties in the province and the Friends who represented the proprietary right. And this suggests a brief reference to the fact that, as a very effective agent entering into the imbittered conflicts of the time and scene, we are to take into the account some strong religious animosities. The entailed passions and hates of the peoples of the old world, as Catholics and Protestants, and even of sects among the latter, were transferred here to inflame the rage of combatants in wilderness warfare.[1351] The zeal and heroic fidelity of the French priests in making a Christian from a baptized and untamed savage had realized, under rude yet easy conditions, a degree of success. In and near the mission stations, groups of the natives had been trained to gather around the cross, and to engage with more or less response in the holy rites. Some of them could repeat, after a fashion, the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria, and the Creed. Some had substituted a crucifix or a consecrated medal for their old pagan charm, to be worn on the breast. When about to go forth on the war-path, their priests would give them shrift and benediction. But, as has been said, it was no part or purpose of this work of christianizing savages to impair their qualities as warriors, to dull their knives or tomahawks, to quench their thirst for blood, or to restrain the fiercest atrocities and barbarities of the fight or the victory. On the well-known experience that fresh converts are always the[308] most ardent haters of heresy, these savage neophytes were initiated into some of the mysteries of the doctrinal strife between the creed of their priests and the abominated infidelity and impiety of the English Protestants. Some of the savages were by no means slow to learn the lesson. Mr. Parkman’s brilliant and graphic pages afford us abounding illustrations of the part which priestly instructions and influence had in adding to savage ferocity the simulation of religious hate for heresy. With whatever degree of understanding or appreciation of the duty as it quickened the courage or the ferocity of the savage, there were many scenes and occasions in which the warrior added the charge of heretic to that of enemy, when he dealt his blow.[1352]

Almost as violent and exasperating were the animosities engendered between the disciples of different Protestant fellowships. The Quakers, backed by proprietary rights, by the prestige of an original peace policy and friendly negotiations with the Indians, and for the most part secure and unharmed in the centralized homes of Philadelphia and its neighborhood, imagined that they might refuse all participation in the bloody work enacting on their frontiers. The adventurous settlers on the borders were largely Presbyterians. The course of non-interference by the Quakers, who controlled the legislature, seemed to those who were bearing the brunt of savage warfare monstrously selfish and inhuman. There was a fatuity in this course which had to be abandoned. When a mob of survivors from the ravaged fields and cabins of the frontiers, bringing in cartloads of the bones gathered from the ashes of their burned dwellings, thus enforced their remonstrances against the peace policy of the legislature, the Quakers were compelled to yield, and to furnish the supplies of war.[1353] But sectarian hatred hardly ever reached an intenser glow than that exhibited between the Pennsylvania Quakers and Presbyterians. Meanwhile, the mild and kindly missionary efforts of the Moravians, in the same neighborhood, were cruelly baffled. Their aim was exactly the opposite of that which guided the Jesuit priests. They sought first to make their converts human beings, planters of the soil, taught in various handicrafts, and weaned from the taste of war and blood.

When the frontier war was at its wildest pitch of havoc and fury, the Moravian settlements, which had reached a stage giving such promise of success as to satisfy the gentle and earnest spirit of the missionaries who had planted them, were made to bear the brunt of the rage of all the parties engaged in the deadly turmoil. The natives timidly nestling in their[309] settlements were regarded as an emasculated flock of nurslings, mean and cowardly, lacking equally the manhood of the savage and the pride and capacity of the civilized man. Worse than this, their pretended desire to preserve a neutrality and to have no part in the broil was made the ground of a suspicion, at once acted upon as if fully warranted, that they were really spies, offering secret information and even covert help as guides and prompters in the work of desolation among the scattered cabins of the whites. So a maddened spirit of distrust, inflamed by false rumors and direct charges of complicity, brought upon the Moravian settlers the hate and fury of the leading parties in the conflict.[1354]

It is noteworthy that the most furious havoc of savage warfare should have been wreaked on the frontiers of Pennsylvania, the one of all the English colonies in America whose boast was, and is, that there alone the entrance of civilized men upon the domains of barbarism was marked and initiated by the Christian policy of peace and righteousness. Penn and his representatives claimed that they had twice paid the purchase price of the lands covered by the proprietary charter to the Indian occupants of them,—once to the Delawares residing upon them, and again to the Iroquois who held them by conquest. The famous “Walking Purchase,” whether a fair or a fraudulent transaction, was intended to follow the original policy of the founder of the province.[1355]

In the inroads made upon the English settlements by Frontenac and his red allies, New York and New England furnished the victims. The middle colonies, so far as then undertaken, escaped the fray. Trouble began for them in 1716, when the French acted upon their resolve to occupy the valley of the Ohio. The Ohio Land Company was formed in 1748 to advance settlements beyond the Alleghanies, and surveys were made as far as Louisville. This enterprise roused anew the Indians and the French. The latter redoubled their zeal in 1753 and onward, south of Lake Erie and on the branches of the Ohio. The English found that their delay and dilatoriness in measures for fortifying the frontiers had given the French an advantage which was to be recovered only with increased cost and enterprise. In an earlier movement, had the English engaged their efforts when it was first proposed to them, they might have lessened, at least, their subsequent discomfiture. Governor Spotswood, of Virginia, in 1720 had urged on the British government the erection of a chain of posts beyond the Alleghanies, from the lakes to the Mississippi. But his urgency had been ineffectual. The governor reported that there were then “Seven Tributary Tribes” in Virginia, being seven hundred in number, with two[310] hundred and fifty fighting-men, all of whom were peaceful. His only trouble was from the Tuscaroras on the borders of Carolina.[1356]

The erection of Fort Duquesne may be regarded as opening the decisive struggle between the French and the English in America, which reached its height in 1755, and centred around the imperfect chain of stockades and blockhouses on the line of the frontiers then reached by the English pioneers.

About the middle of the eighteenth century the number of French subjects in America, including Acadia, Canada, and Louisiana, was estimated at about eighty thousand. The subjects of England were estimated at about twelve hundred thousand. But, as before remarked, this vast disparity of numbers by no means represented an equal difference in the effectiveness of the two nationalities in the conduct of military movements. The French were centralized in command. They had unity of purpose and in action. In most cases they held actual defensive positions at points which the English had to reach by difficult approaches; and more than all, till it became evident that France was to lose the game, the French received much the larger share of aid from the Indians. Pennsylvania and Virginia were embarrassed in any attempt for united defensive operations on the frontiers by their own rival claims to the Ohio Valley. The English, however, welcomed the first signs of vacillation in the savages. When Céloron, in 1749, had sent messengers to the Indians beyond the Alleghanies to prepare for the measures he was about to take to secure a firm foothold there, he reported that the natives were “devoted entirely to the English.” This might have seemed true of the Delawares and Shawanees, though soon afterwards these were found to be in the interest of the French. In fact, all the tribes, except the Five Nations, may be regarded as more or less available for French service up to the final extinction of their power on the continent. Indeed, as we shall see, the mischievous enmity of the natives against the English was never more vengeful than when it was goaded on by secret French agency after France had by treaty yielded her claims on this soil. Nor could even the presumed neutrality of the Five Nations be relied upon by the English, as there were reasons for believing that many among them acted as spies and conveyed intelligence. Till after the year 1754 so effective had been the activity of the French in planting their strongholds and winning over the savages that there was not a single English post west of the Alleghanies.

At the same critical stage of this European rivalry in military operations, the greed for the profits of the fur trade was at its highest pitch. The beavers, as well as the red men, should be regarded as essential parties to the struggle between the French and the English. The latter had cut very deep into the trade which had formerly accrued wholly to the French at Oswego, Toronto, and Niagara.


Up to the year 1720 there had come to be established a mercantile usage which had proved to be very prejudicial to the English, alike in their Indian trade and in their influence over the Indians. The French had been allowed to import goods into New York to be used for their Indian trade. Of course this proved a very profitable business, as it facilitated their operations and was constantly extending over a wider reach their friendly relations with the farther tribes. Trade with Europe and the West Indies and Canada could be maintained only by single voyages in a year, through the perilous navigation of the St. Lawrence. With the English ports on the Atlantic, voyages could be made twice or thrice a year. A few merchants in New York, having a monopoly of supplying goods to the French in Canada, with their principals in England, had found their business very profitable. Goods of prime value, especially “strouds,” a kind of coarse woollen cloth highly prized by the Indians, were made in and exported from England much more cheaply than from France. The mischief of this method of trade being realized, an act was passed by the Assembly in New York, in 1720, which prohibited the selling of Indian goods to the French under severe penalties, in order to the encouragement of trade in general, and to the extension of the influence of the English over the Indians to counterbalance that of the French. Some merchants in London, just referred to, petitioned the king against the ratification of this act. By order in council the king referred the petition to the Lords of Trade and Plantations. A hearing, with testimonies, followed, in which those interested in the monopoly made many statements, ignorant or false, as to the geography of the country, and the method and effects of the advantage put into the hands of the French. But the remonstrants failed to prevent the restricting measure. From that time New York vastly extended its trade and intercourse with the tribes near and distant, greatly to the injury of the French.[1357]

The first white man’s dwelling in Ohio was that of the Moravian missionary, Christian Frederic Post.[1358] He was a sagacious and able man, and had acquired great influence over the Indians, which he used in conciliatory ways, winning their respect and confidence by the boldness with which he ventured to trust himself in their villages and lodges, as if he were under some magical protection. He went on his first journey to the Ohio in 1758, by request of the government of Pennsylvania, on a mission to the Delawares, Shawanees, and Mingoes. These had once been friendly to the English, but having been won over by the French, the object was to regain their confidence. The tribes had at this time come to understand, in a thoroughly practical way, that they were restricted to certain limited conditions so far as they were parties to the fierce rivalry between the Europeans.[312] The issue was no longer an open one as to their being able to reclaim their territory for their own uses by driving off all these pale-faced trespassers. It was for them merely to choose whether they would henceforward have the French or the English for neighbors, and, if it must be so, for masters. Nor were they left with freedom or power to make a deliberate choice. But Post certainly stretched a point when he told the Indians that the English did not wish to occupy their lands, but only to drive off the French.

As Governor Spotswood, in the interest of Virginia, had attempted, in 1716, to break the French line of occupation by promoting settlements in the west, Governor Keith, of Pennsylvania, followed with a similar effort in 1719. Both efforts could be only temporarily withstood, and if baffled at one point were renewed at another. The English always showed a tenacity in clinging to an advance once made, and were inclined to change it only for a further advance. Though Fort Duquesne was blown up when abandoned by the French, with the hope of rendering it useless to the English, the post was too commanding a one to be neglected. After it had been taken by General Forbes in November, 1758, and had been strongly reconstructed by General Stanwix, though it was then two hundred miles distant from the nearest settlement, the possession of it was to a great extent the deciding fact of the advancing struggle. Colonel Armstrong had taken the Indian town of Kittanning in 1756.

The treaty negotiations between English and French diplomates at a foreign court, in 1763, which covenanted for the surrender of all territory east of the Mississippi and of all the fortified posts on lake and river to Great Britain, was but a contract on paper, which was very long in finding its full ratification among the parties alone interested in the result here. There were still three of these parties: the Indians; the French, who were in possession of the strongholds in the north and west; and the English colonists, supported by what was left of the British military forces, skeleton regiments and invalided soldiers, who were to avail themselves of their acquired domain. During the bloody and direful war which had thus been closed, the Indians had come to regard themselves as holding the balance of power between the French and the English. Often did the abler savage warriors express alike their wonder and their rage that those foreign intruders should choose these wild regions for the trial of their fighting powers. “Why do you not settle your fierce quarrels in your own land, or at least upon the sea, instead of involving us and our forests in your rivalry?” was the question to the officers and the file of the European forces. Though the natives soon came to realize that they would be the losers, whichever of the two foreign parties should prevail, their preferences were doubtless on the side of the French; and by force of circumstances easily explicable, after the English power, imperial and provincial, had obtained the mastery of the territory, the sympathies and aid of the natives went with the British during the rebellion of the colonies. But[313] before this result was reached England won its ascendency at a heavy sacrifice of men and money, in a series of campaigns under many different generals. The general peace between England, France, and Spain, secured by the treaty of 1763, and involving the cession of all American territory east of the Mississippi by France to Britain, was naturally expected to bring a close to savage warfare against the colonists. The result was quite the contrary, inasmuch as the sharpest and most desolating havoc was wrought by that foe after the English were nominally left alone to meet the encounter. The explanation of this fact was that the French, though by covenant withdrawn from the field, were, hardly even with a pretence of secrecy, perpetuating and even extending their influence over their former wild allies in embarrassing and thwarting all the schemes of the English for turning their conquests to account. General Amherst was left in command here with only enfeebled fragments of regiments and with slender ranks of provincials. The military duty of the hour was for the conquerors to take formal possession of all the outposts still held by French garrisons, announcing to those in command the absolute conditions of the treaty, and to substitute the English for the French colors, henceforward to wave over them. This humiliating necessity was in itself grievous enough, as it forced upon the commanders of posts which had not then been reached by the war in Canada, a condition against which no remonstrance would avail. But beyond that, it furnished the occasion for the most formidable savage conspiracy ever formed on this continent, looking to the complete extinction of the English settlements here. The French in those extreme western posts had been most successful in securing the attachment of the neighboring Indian tribes, and found strong sympathizers among them in their discomfiture. At the same time those tribes had the most bitter hostility towards the English with whom they had come in contact. They complained that the English treated them with contempt and haughtiness, being niggard of their presents and sharp in their trade. They regarded each advanced English settlement on their lands, if only that of a solitary trader, as the germ of a permanent colony. Under these circumstances, the French still holding the posts, waiting only the exasperating summons to yield them up, found the temptation strong and easy of indulgence to inflame their recent allies, and now their sympathizing friends, among the tribes, with an imbittered rage against their new masters. Artifice and deception were availed of to reinforce the passions of savage breasts. The French sought to relieve the astounded consternation of their red friends on finding that they were compelled to yield the field to the subjects of the English monarch, by beguiling them with the fancy that the concession was but a temporary one, very soon to be set aside by a new turn in the wheel of fortune. Their French father had only fallen asleep while his English enemies had been impudently trespassing upon the lands of his red children. He would soon rouse himself to avenge the insult, and would reclaim what he had thus lost. Indeed, on the[314] principle that the size and ornamentings of a lie involved no additional wrong in the telling it, the Indians were informed that a French army was even then preparing to ascend the Mississippi with full force, before which the English would be crushed.

There was then in the tribe of Ottawas, settled near Detroit, a master spirit, who, as a man and as a chief, was the most sagacious, eloquent, bold, and every way gifted of his race that has ever risen before the white man on this continent to contest in the hopeless struggle of barbarism with civilization. That Pontiac was crafty, unscrupulous, relentless, finding a revel in havoc and carnage, might disqualify him for the noblest epithets which the white man bestows on the virtues of a military hero. But he had the virtues of a savage, all of them, and in their highest range of nature and of faculty. He was a stern philosopher and moralist also, of the type engendered by free forest life, unsophisticated and trained in the school of the wilderness. He knew well the attractions of civilization. He weighed and compared them, as they presented themselves before his eyes in full contrast with savagery, in the European and in the Indian, and in those dubious specimens of humanity in which the line of distinction was blurred by the Indianized white man, the “Christian” convert, and the half-breed. Deliberately and, we may say, intelligently, he preferred for his own people the state of savagery. Intelligently, because he gave grounds for his preference, which, from his point of view and experience, had weight in themselves, and cannot be denied something more than plausibility even in the judgment of civilized men, for idealists like Rousseau and the Abbé Raynal have pleaded for them. Pontiac was older in native sagacity and shrewdness than in years. He had evidence enough that his race had suffered only harm from intercourse with the whites. The manners and temptations of civilization had affected them only by demoralizing influences. All the elements of life in the white man struck at what was noblest in the nature of the Indian,—his virility, his self-respect, his proud and sufficing independence, his content with his former surroundings and range of life. With an earnest eloquence Pontiac, in the lodges and at the council fires of his people, whether of his own immediate tribe or of representative warriors of other tribes, set before them the demonstration that security and happiness, if not peace, depended for them on their renouncing all reliance upon the white man’s ways and goods, and reverting with a stern stoicism to the former conditions of their lot. He told his responsive listeners that the Great Spirit, in pouring the wide salt waters between the two races of his children, meant to divide them and to keep them forever apart, giving to each of them a country which was their own, where they were free to live after their own method. The different tinting of their skin indicated a variance which testified to a rooted divergence of nature. For his red children the Great Spirit had provided the forest, the meadow, the lake, and the river, with fish and game for food and clothing. The canoe, the moccasin, the snow-shoe, the stone axe, the[315] hide or bark covered lodge, the fields of golden maize, the root crops, the vines and berries, the waters of the cold crystal spring, made the inventory of their possessions. They belonged to nature, and were of kin to all its other creatures, which they put freely to their use, holding everything in common. The changing moons brought round the seasons for planting and hunting, for game, festivity, and religious rite. Their old men preserved the sacred traditions of their race. Their braves wore the scars and trophies of a noble manhood, and their young men were in training to be the warriors of their tribes in defence or conquest.

These, argued Pontiac, were the heritage which the Great Spirit had assigned to his red children. The spoiler had come among them from across the salt sea, and woe and ruin for the Indian had come with him. The white man could scorn the children of the forest, but could not be their friend or helper. Let the Indian be content and proud to remain an Indian. Let him at once renounce all use of the white man’s goods and implements and his fire-water, and fall back upon the independence of nature, fed on the flesh and clothed with the skins secured by bow and arrow and his skill of woodcraft.

Such was the pleading of the most gifted chieftain and the wisest patriot, the native product of the American wilderness. There was a nobleness in him, even a grandeur and prescience of soul, which take a place now on the list of protests that have poured from human breasts against the decrees of fate. Pontiac followed up his bold scheme by all the arts and appliances of forest diplomacy. He formed his cabinet, and sent out his ambassadors with their credentials in the reddened hatchet and the war-belt. They visited some of even the remoter tribes, with appeals conciliatory of all minor feuds and quarrels. Their success was qualified only by the inveteracy of existing enmities among some of these tribes. It would be difficult to estimate, even if only approximately, the number of the savages who were more or less directly engaged in the conspiracy of Pontiac. A noted French trader, who had resided many years among the Indians, and who had had an extended intercourse with the tribes, stayed at Detroit during the siege, having taken the oath of allegiance to the king of Great Britain. Largely from his own personal knowledge, he drew up an elaborate list of the tribes, with the number of warriors in each. The summing up of these is 56,500. In the usual way of allowing one to five of a whole population for able-bodied men, this would represent the number of the savages as about 283,000, which slightly exceeds the number of Indians now in our national domain.[1359]

The lake and river posts which had been yielded up by the French, on the summons, were occupied by slender and poorly supplied English garrisons, unwarned of the impending concentration. The scheme of Pontiac involved two leading acts in the drama: one was the beleaguerment of all[316] the fortified lake and river garrisons; the other was an extermination by fire and carnage of all the isolated frontier settlements at harvest time, so as to cause general starvation. The plan was that all these assaults, respectively assigned to bodies of the allies, should be made at the same time, fixed by a phase of the moon. Scattered through the wilderness were many English traders, in their cabins and with their packh-orses and goods. These were plundered and massacred.[1360] The assailed posts were slightly reinforced by the few surviving settlers and traders who escaped the open field slaughter. The conspiracy was so far effective as to paralyze with dismay the occupants of the whole region which it threatened. But pluck and endurance proved equal to the appalling conflict. Nearly all the posts, after various alternations of experience, succumbed to the savage foe. Such was the fate of Venango, Le Bœuf, Presqu’ Isle, La Bay, St. Joseph, Miamis, Ouachtanon, Sandusky, and Michilimackinac. Detroit alone held out. The fort at Niagara, being very strong, was not attacked. The Shawanees and Delawares were active agents in this conspiracy. The English used all their efforts and appliances to keep the Six Nations neutral. The French near the Mississippi were active in plying and helping the tribes within their reach. The last French flag that came down on our territory was at Fort Chartres on the Mississippi.[1361]


By Dr. Ellis and the Editor.

ON some few historical subjects we have volumes so felicitously constructed as to combine all that is most desirable in original materials with a judicious digest of them. Of such a character is Francis Parkman’s France and England in North America, A Series of Historical Narratives. So abundant, authentic, and intelligently gathered are his citations from and references to the journals, letters, official reports, and documents, often in the very words of the actors, that, through the writer’s luminous pages, we are, for all substantial purposes, made to read and listen to their own narrations. Indeed, we are even more favored than that. So comprehensive have been his researches, and so full and many-sided are the materials which he has digested for us, that we have all the benefit of an attendance on a trial in a court or a debate in the forum, where by testimony and cross-examination different witnesses are made to verify or rectify their separate assertions. The official representatives of France, military and civil, on this continent, like their superiors and patrons at home, were by no means all of one mind. They had their conflicting interests to serve. They made their reports to those to whom they were responsible or sought to influence, and so colored them by their selfishness or rivalry. These communications, gathered from widely scattered repositories, are for the first time[317] brought together and made to confront each other in Mr. Parkman’s pages. Allowing for a gap covering the first half of the eighteenth century, which is yet to be filled, Mr. Parkman’s series of volumes deals with the whole period of the enterprise of France in the new world to its cession of all territory east of the Mississippi to Great Britain. His marvellously faithful and skilful reproduction of the scenic features of the continent, in its wild state, bears a fit relation to his elaborate study of its red denizens. His wide and arduous exploration in the tracks of the first pioneers, and his easy social relations with the modern representatives of the aboriginal stock, put him back into the scenes and companionship of those whose schemes and achievements he was to trace historically. After identifying localities and lines of exploration here, he followed up in foreign archives the missives written in these forests, and the official and confidential communications of the military and civic functionaries of France, revealing the joint or conflicting schemes and jealousies of intrigue or selfishness of priests, traders, monopolists, and adventurers. The panorama that is unrolled and spread before us is full and complete, lacking nothing of reality in nature or humanity, in color, variety, or action. The volumes rehearse in a continuous narrative the course of French enterprise here, the motives, immediate and ultimate, which were had in view, the progress in realizing them, the obstacles and resistance encountered, and the tragic failure.[1363]

The references in Parkman show that he depends more upon French than upon English sources, and indeed he seems to give the chief credit for his drawing of the early Indian life and character to the Relations of the French and Italian Jesuits,[1364] during their missionary work in New France.

We must class with these records of the Jesuits, though not equalling them in value, the volumes of Champlain, Sagard, Creuxius, Boucher,[1365] and the later Lafitau and Charlevoix. Parkman[1366] tells us that no other of these early books is so satisfactory as Lafitau’s Mœurs des Sauvages (1724); and Charlevoix gave similar testimony regarding his predecessor.[1367] For original material on the French side we have nothing to surpass in interest the Mémoires et documents, published by Pierre Margry, of which an account has been given elsewhere,[1368] as well as of the efforts of Parkman and others in advancing their publication.[1369] There is but little matter in these volumes relating to the military operations which make the subject of this chapter, though jealousy and rivalry of the schemes of the English, and the necessity of efforts to thwart them in their attempts to gain influence and to open trade with the Indians, are constantly recognized. In the diplomatic and military movements which opened on this continent the Seven Years’ War, the English, who had substantially secured the alliance of the Iroquois, or the Six Nations, insisted that they had obtained by treaties with them the territory between the Alleghanies and the Ohio, which the Six Nations on their part claimed to have gained by conquest and cession of the tribes that had previously occupied it. But when the English vindicated their entrance on the territory on the basis of these treaties with the Six Nations, the Shawanees and the Delawares, having recuperated their courage and vigor, denied this right by conquest. The French could not claim a right either by conquest or by cession. Their assumed occupancy and tenure through mission stations and strongholds were maintained simply and wholly on grounds of discovery and exploration. Margry’s volumes furnish the abundant and all-sufficient evidence of the priority of the French in this enterprise. The official documents interchanged with the authorities at home are all engaged with advice and promptings and measures for making good the claim to dominion founded on discovery. These volumes also[318] are of the highest value as presenting to us from the first explorers, every way intelligent and competent as observers and reporters, the scenes and tenants of the interior of the continent. Here we have the wilderness, its primeval forests, its sea-like lakes, its threading rivers, shrunken or swollen, its cataracts and its confluent streams, its marshy expanses, bluffs, and plains, and its resources, abundant or scant, for sustaining life of beasts or men, all touched in feature or full portrayal by the charming skill of those to whom the sight was novel and bewildering.[1370] These French explorers will henceforth serve for all time as primary authorities on the features and resources of the interior of this continent just before it became the prize in contest between rival European nationalities. That contest undoubtedly had more to do in deciding the fate of the savage tribes from that time to our own. There are many reasons for believing that if the French had been able to hold alone an undisputed dominion in the interior of the continent, their relations with the Indian tribes, if not wholly pacific, would have been far more amicable than those which followed upon the hot rivalry with the English for the possession of their territories. The French were the wiser, the more tolerant and friendly of the two, in their intercourse with and treatment of the savages, with whom they found it so easy to affiliate. Under other circumstances the Indians might have come to hold the relation of wards to the French in a sense far more applicable than that in which the term has been used by the government of the United States.

Of the early English material there is no dearth, but it hardly has the same stamp of authority. The story of the Moravian and other missions on the Protestant and English side has less of such invariable devotedness and success than is recorded in the general summaries of the Jesuit and Recollet missions, like Shea’s History of the Catholic Missions, 1529-1854 (N. Y., 1855).[1371] The Indian Nations of Heckewelder,[1372] the service of the United Brethren, and the labors instituted by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel,[1373] are records not without significance; but they yield to the superior efficacy of the French.[1374] Among the English administrative officers, the lead must doubtless be given to Sir William Johnson, for his personal influence over the Indian mind, winning their full confidence by fair and generous treatment of them, by a free hospitality, by assimilating with their habits even in his array, and by mastering their language. His deputy, Col. George Croghan, as interpreter and messenger, was kept busily employed in constant tramps through the woods, and in fearless errands to parties of vacillating or hostile tribes, to hold or win them to the English interest. The principal and the deputy, in this hazardous diplomacy, were specially qualified for their office by having mastered the gift and qualities of Indian oratory, by a familiarity with Indian character in its strength and weakness, and by endeavoring to keep faith with them, and to imitate the adroit methods of the French rather than the contemptuous hauteur of most of the English in intercourse with them.[1375]

The reader will naturally go to the biographies of Johnson, Washington, and the other military leaders of their time, to those of a few civilians, like Franklin, and to the general histories of the French and Indian wars and of their separate campaigns, for much light upon the Indian in war; and these materials have been sufficiently explored in another volume of the present History.[1376] These more general accounts are easily supplemented in the narratives of adventures and sufferings by a large class of persons who fell captive to the Indians, and lived to tell their tales.[1377]

The earlier travellers, like P. E. Radisson,[1378] Richard Falconer,[1379] Le Beau,[1380] and Jonathan[319] Carver,[1381] not to name others; the later ones, like Prinz Maximilian;[1382] the experiences of various army officers on the frontiers, like Randolph B. Marcy[1383] and J. B. Fry,[1384]—all such books fill in the picture in some of its details.

The early life in the Ohio Valley was particularly conducive to such auxiliary helps in this study, and we owe more of this kind of illustration to Joseph Doddridge[1385] than to any other. He was a physician and a missionary of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and in both his professions a man highly esteemed. He was born in Maryland in 1769, and in his fourth year removed with his family to the western border of the line between Pennsylvania and Virginia. With abundant opportunities in his youth of familiarity with the rudest experiences of frontier life near hostile Indians, he was a keen observer, a skilful narrator, and a diligent gatherer-up of historical and traditional lore from the hardy and well-scarred pioneers. He had received a good academic and medical education, and was a keen student of nature as well as of humanity. His pages give us most vivid pictures of life under the stern and perilous conditions; not, however, without their fascinations, of forest haunts, of rude and scattered cabins, of domestic and social relations, of the resources of the heroic whites, and of the qualities of Indian warfare in the desperate struggle with the invaders.[1386]

Another early writer in this field was Dr. S. P. Hildreth of Ohio, who published his Pioneer History (Cincinnati, 1848) while some of the pioneers of the Northwest were still living, and the papers of some of them, like Col. George Morgan, could be put to service.[1387] Dr. Hildreth, in his Biographical and Historical Memoirs of the early Pioneer Settlers of Ohio (Cincinnati, 1852), included a Memoir of Isaac Williams, who at the age of eighteen began a course of service and adventure in the Indian country, which was continued till its close at the age of eighty-four. When eighteen years of age he was employed by the government of Pennsylvania, being already a trained hunter, as a spy and ranger among the Indians. He served in this capacity in Braddock’s campaign, and was a guard for the first convoy of provisions, on pack-horses, to Fort Duquesne, after its surrender to General Forbes in 1758. He was one of the first settlers on the Muskingum, after the peace made there with the Indians, in 1765, by Bouquet. His subsequent life was one of daring and heroic adventure on the frontiers.[1388]

Passing to the more general works, the earliest treatment of the North American Indians, of more than local scope, was the work of James Adair, first published in 1775, a section of whose map, showing the position of the Indian tribes within the present United States at[320] that time, is given elsewhere.[1389] This History of the American Indians was later included by Kingsborough in Antiquities of Mexico (vol. viii. London, 1848).[1390] At just about the same time (1777), Dr. Robertson, in his America (book iv.), gave a general survey, which probably represents the level of the best European knowledge at that time.

It was not till well into the present century that much effort was made to summarize the scattered knowledge of explorers like Lewis and Clarke and of venturesome travellers. In 1819, we find where we might not expect it about as good an attempt to make a survey of the subject as was then attainable, in Ezekiel Sanford’s History of the United States before the Revolution,—a book, however, which was pretty roundly condemned for its general inaccuracy by Nathan Hale in the North American Review. The next year the Rev. Jedediah Morse made A report to the secretary of war, on Indian affairs, comprising a narrative of a tour in 1820, for ascertaining the actual state of the Indian tribes in our country (New Haven, 1822), which is about the beginning of systematized knowledge, though the subject in its scientific aspects was too new for well-studied proportions. The Report, however, attracted attention and instigated other students. De Tocqueville, in 1835, took the Indian problem within his range.[1391] Albert Gallatin printed, the next year, in the second volume of the Archæologia Americana (Cambridge, 1836), his Synopsis of the Indian Tribes within the United States east of the Rocky Mountains; and though his main purpose was to explain the linguistic differences, his introduction is still a valuable summary of the knowledge then existing.

There were at this time two well-directed efforts in progress to catch the features and life of the Indians as preserving their aboriginal traits. Between 1838 and 1844 Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall published at Philadelphia, in three volumes folio, their History of the Indian tribes of North America, with biographical sketches of the principal chiefs. With 120 portrs. from the Indian gallery of the Department of war, at Washington;[1392] and in 1841 the public first got the fruits of George Catlin’s wanderings among the Indians of the Northwest, in his Letters and notes on the manners, customs and condition of the North American Indians, written during eight years’ travel among the wildest tribes of Indians in North America, in 1832-39 (N. Y., 1841), in two volumes. The book went through various editions in this country and in London.[1393] It was but the forerunner of various other books illustrative of his experience among the tribes; but it remains the most important.[1394] The sufficient summary of all that Catlin did to elucidate the Indian character and life will be found in Thomas Donaldson’s George Catlin’s Indian Gallery in the U. S. Nat. Museum, with memoirs and statistics, being part v. of the Smithsonian Report for 1885.[1395]

The great work of Schoolcraft has been elsewhere described in the present volume.[1396]

The agencies for acquiring and disseminating knowledge respecting the condition, past and present, of the red race have been and are much the same as those which improve the study of the archæological aspects of their history: such publications as the Transactions of the American Ethnological Society (1845-1848); the Reports of the governmental geological surveys, and those upon trans-continental railway routes; those upon national boundaries; those of the[321] Smithsonian Institution, with its larger Contributions, and of late years the Reports of the Bureau of Ethnology; the reports of such institutions as the Peabody Museum of Archæology; and those of the Indian agents of the Federal government, of chief importance among which is Miss Alice C. Fletcher’s Indian Education and Civilization, published by the Bureau of Education (Washington, 1888). To these must be added the great mass of current periodical literature reached through Poole’s Index, and the action and papers of the government, not always easily discoverable, through Poore’s Descriptive Catalogue.