Part 5 out of 6
In one great Hanse, for earth's whole trafic known,
Free cities rise, and in their golden zone
Bind all the interior states; nor princes dare
Infringe their franchise with voracious war.
All shield them safe, and joy to share the gain
That spreads o'er land from each surrounding main,
Makes Indian stuffs, Arabian gums their own,
Plants Persian gems on every Celtic crown,
Pours thro their opening woodlands milder day,
And gives to genius his expansive play.
This blessed moment, from the towers of Thorn
New splendor rises; there the sage is born!
The sage who starts these planetary spheres,
Deals out their task to wind their own bright years,
Restores his station to the parent Sun,
And leads his duteous daughters round his throne.
Each mounts obedient on her wheels of fire,
Whirls round her sisters, and salutes the sire,
Guides her new car, her youthful coursers tries,
Curves careful paths along her alter'd skies,
Learns all her mazes thro the host of even,
And hails and joins the harmony of heaven.
--Fear not, Copernicus! let loose the rein,
Launch from their goals, and mark the moving train;
Fix at their sun thy calculating eye,
Compare and count their courses round their sky.
Fear no disaster from the slanting force
That warps them staggering in elliptic course;
Thy sons with steadier ken shall aid the search,
And firm and fashion their majestic march,
Kepler prescribe the laws no stars can shun,
And Newton tie them to the eternal sun.
By thee inspired, his tube the Tuscan plies,
And sends new colonies to stock the skies,
Gives Jove his satellites, and first adorns
Effulgent Phosphor with his silver horns.
Herschel ascends himself with venturous wain,
And joins and flanks thy planetary train,
Perceives his distance from their elder spheres,
And guards with numerous moons the lonely round he steers.
Yes, bright Copernicus, thy beams, far hurl'd,
Shall startle well this intellectual world,
Break the delusive dreams of ancient lore,
New floods of light on every subject pour,
Thro Physic Nature many a winding trace,
And seat the Moral on her sister's base.
Descartes with force gigantic toils alone,
Unshrines old errors and propounds his own;
Like a blind Samson, gropes their strong abodes,
Whelms deep in dust their temples and their gods,
Buries himself with those false codes they drew,
And makes his followers frame and fix the true.
Bacon, with every power of genius fraught,
Spreads over worlds his mantling wings of thought,
Draws in firm lines, and tells in nervous tone
All that is yet and all that shall be known,
Withes Proteus Matter in his arms of might,
And drags her tortuous secrets forth to light,
Bids men their unproved systems all forgo,
Informs them what to learn, and how to know,
Waves the first flambeau thro the night that veils
Egyptian fables and Phenician tales,
Strips from all-plundering Greece the cloak she wore,
And shows the blunders of her borrow'd lore.
One vast creation, lately borne abroad,
Cheers the young nations like a nurturing God,
Breathes thro them all the same wide-searching soul.
Forms, feeds, refines and animates the whole,
Guards every ground they gain, and forward brings
Glad Science soaring on cerulean wings,
Trims her gay plumes, directs her upward course,
Props her light pinions and sustains her force,
Instructs all men her golden gifts to prize,
And catch new glories from her beamful eyes,--
Tis the prolific Press; whose tablet, fraught
By graphic Genius with his painted thought,
Flings forth by millions the prodigious birth,
And in a moment stocks the astonish'd earth.
Genius, enamor'd of his fruitful bride,
Assumes new force and elevates his pride.
No more, recumbent o'er his finger'd style,
He plods whole years each copy to compile,
Leaves to ludibrious winds the priceless page,
Or to chance fires the treasure of an age;
But bold and buoyant, with his sister Fame,
He strides o'er earth, holds high his ardent flame,
Calls up Discovery with her tube and scroll,
And points the trembling magnet to the pole.
Hence the brave Lusitanians stretch the sail,
Scorn guiding stars, and tame the midsea gale;
And hence thy prow deprest the boreal wain,
Rear'd adverse heavens, a second earth to gain,
Ran down old Night, her western curtain thirl'd,
And snatch'd from swaddling shades an infant world.
Rome, Athens, Memphis, Tyre! had you butknown
This glorious triad, now familiar grown,
The Press, the Magnet faithful to its pole,
And earth's own Movement round her steadfast goal,
Ne'er had your science, from that splendid height,
Sunk in her strength, nor seen succeeding night.
Her own utility had forced her sway,
All nations caught the fast-extending ray,
Nature thro all her kingdoms oped the road,
Resign'd her secrets and her wealth bestow'd;
Her moral codes a like dominion rear'd,
Freedom been born and folly disappear'd,
War and his monsters sunk beneath her ban,
And left the world to reason and to man.
But now behold him bend his broader way,
Lift keener eyes and drink diviner day,
All systems scrutinize, their truths unfold,
Prove well the recent, well revise the old,
Reject all mystery, and define with force
The point he aims at in his laboring course,--
To know these elements, learn how they wind
Their wondrous webs of matter and of mind,
What springs, what guides organic life requires,
To move, rule, rein its ever-changing gyres,
Improve and utilise each opening birth,
And aid the labors of this nurturing earth.
But chief their moral soul he learns to trace,
That stronger chain which links and leads the race;
Which forms and sanctions every social tie,
And blinds or clears their intellectual eye.
He strips that soul from every filmy shade
That schools had caught, that oracles had made,
Relumes her visual nerve, develops strong
The rules of right, the subtle shifts of wrong;
Of civil power draws clear the sacred line,
Gives to just government its right divine,
Forms, varies, fashions, as his lights increase,
Till earth is fill'd with happiness and peace.
Already taught, thou know'st the fame that waits
His rising seat in thy confederate states.
There stands the model, thence he long shall draw
His forms of policy, his traits of law;
Each land shall imitate, each nation join
The well-based brotherhood, the league divine,
Extend its empire with the circling sun,
And band the peopled globe beneath its federal zone.
As thus he spoke, returning tears of joy
Suffused the Hero's cheek and pearl'd his eye:
Unveil, said he, my friend, and stretch once more
Beneath my view that heaven-illumined shore;
Let me behold her silver beams expand,
To lead all nations, lighten every land,
Instruct the total race, and teach at last
Their toils to lessen and their chains to cast,
Trace and attain the purpose of their birth,
And hold in peace this heritage of earth.
The Seraph smiled consent, the Hero's eye
Watch'd for the daybeam round the changing sky.
The vision resumed, and extended over the whole earth. Present
character of different nations. Future progress of society with respect
to commerce; discoveries; inland navigation; philosophical, med
and political knowledge. Science of government. Assimilation and final
union of all languages. Its effect on education, and on the advancement
of physical and moral science. The physical precedes the moral, as
Phosphor precedes the Sun. View of a general Congress from all nations,
assembled to establish the political harmony of mankind. Conclusion.
Hesper again his heavenly power display'd,
And shook the yielding canopy of shade.
Sudden the stars their trembling fires withdrew.
Returning splendors burst upon the view,
Floods of unfolding light the skies adorn,
And more than midday glories grace the morn.
So shone the earth, as if the sideral train,
Broad as full suns, had sail'd the ethereal plain;
When no distinguisht orb could strike the sight,
But one clear blaze of all-surrounding light
O'erflow'd the vault of heaven. For now in view
Remoter climes and future ages drew;
Whose deeds of happier fame, in long array,
Call'd into vision, fill the newborn day.
Far as seraphic power could lift the eye,
Or earth or ocean bend the yielding sky,
Or circling sutis awake the breathing gale,
Drake lead the way, or Cook extend the sail;
Where Behren sever'd, with adventurous prow,
Hesperia's headland from Tartaria's brow;
Where sage Vancouvre's patient leads were hurl'd,
Where Deimen stretch'd his solitary world;
All lands, all seas that boast a present name,
And all that unborn time shall give to fame,
Around the Pair in bright expansion rise,
And earth, in one vast level, bounds the skies.
They saw the nations tread their different shores,
Ply their own toils and wield their local powers,
Their present state in all its views disclose,
Their gleams of happiness, their shades of woes,
Plodding in various stages thro the range
Of man's unheeded but unceasing change.
Columbus traced them with experienced eye,
And class'd and counted all the flags that fly;
He mark'd what tribes still rove the savage waste,
What cultured realms the sweets of plenty taste;
Where arts and virtues fix their golden reign,
Or peace adorns, or slaughter dyes the plain.
He saw the restless Tartar, proud to roam,
Move with his herds and pitch a transient home;
Tibet's long tracts and China's fixt domain,
Dull as their despots, yield their cultured grain;
Cambodia, Siam, Asia's myriad isles
And old Indostan, with their wealthy spoils
Attract adventures masters, and o'ershade
Their sunbright ocean with the wings of trade.
Arabian robbers, Syrian Kurds combined,
Create their deserts and infest mankind;
The Turk's dim Crescent, like a day-struck star,
As Russia's Eagle shades their haunts of war,
Shrinks from insulted Europe, who divide
The shatter'd empire to the Pontic tide.
He mark'd impervious Afric, where alone
She lies encircled with the verdant zone
That lines her endless coast, and still sustains
Her northern pirates and her eastern swains,
Mourns her interior tribes purloined away,
And chain'd and sold beyond Atlantic day.
Brazilla's wilds, Mackensie's savage lands
With bickering strife inflame their furious bands;
Atlantic isles and Europe's cultured shores
Heap their vast wealth, exchange their growing stores,
All arts inculcate, new discoveries plan,
Tease and torment but school the race of man.
While his own federal states, extending far,
Calm their brave sons now breathing from the war,
Unfold their harbors, spread their genial soil,
And welcome freemen to the cheerful toil.
A sight so solemn, as it varied sound,
Fill'd his fond heart with reveries profound;
He felt the infinitude of thoughts that pass
And guide and govern that enormous mass.
The cares that agitate, the creeds that blind,
The woes that waste the many-master'd kind,
The distance great that still remains to trace,
Ere sober sense can harmonize the race,
Held him suspense, imprest with reverence meek,
And choked his utterance as he wish'd to speak:
When Hesper thus: The paths they here pursue,
Wide as they seem unfolding to thy view,
Show but a point in that long circling course
Which cures their weakness and confirms their force,
Lends that experience which alone can close
The scenes of strife, and give the world repose.
Yet here thou seest the same progressive plan
That draws for mutual succour man to man,
From twain to tribe, from tribe to realm dilates,
In federal union groups a hundred states,
Thro all their turns with gradual scale ascends,
Their powers; their passions and their interest blends;
While growing arts their social virtues spread,
Enlarge their compacts and unlock their trade;
Till each remotest clan, by commerce join'd,
Links in the chain that binds all humankind,
Their bloody banners sink in darkness furl'd,
And one white flag of peace triumphant walks the world.
As infant streams, from oozing earth at first
With feeble force and lonely murmurs burst,
From myriad unseen fountains draw the rills
And curl contentious round their hundred hills,
Meet, froth and foam, their dashing currents swell,
O'er crags and rocks their furious course impel,
Impetuous plunging plough the mounds of earth,
And tear the fostering flanks that gave them birth;
Mad with the strength they gain, they thicken deep
Their muddy waves and slow and sullen creep,
O'erspread whole regions in their lawless pride,
Then stagnate long, then shrink and curb their tide;
Anon more tranquil grown, with steadier sway,
Thro broader banks they shape their seaward way,
From different climes converging, join and spread
Their mingled waters in one widening bed,
Profound, transparent; till the liquid zone
Bands half the globe and drinks the golden sun,
Sweeps onward still the still expanding plain,
And moves majestic to the boundless main.
Tis thus Society's small sources rise;
Thro passions wild her infant progress lies;
Fear, with its host of follies, errors, woes,
Creates her obstacles and forms her foes;
Misguided interest, local pride withstand,
Till long-tried ills her growing views expand,
Till tribes and states and empires find their place,
Whose mutual wants her widest walks embrace;
Enlightened interest, moral sense at length
Combine their aids to elevate her strength,
Lead o'er the world her peace-commanding sway.
And light her steps with everlasting day.
From that mark'd stage of man we now behold,
More rapid strides his coming paths unfold;
His continents are traced, his islands found,
His well-taught sails on all his billows bound,
His varying wants their new discoveries ply,
And seek in earth's whole range their sure supply.
First of his future stages, thou shalt see
His trade unfetter'd and his ocean free.
From thy young states the code consoling springs,
To strip from vulture War his naval wings;
In views so just all Europe's powers combine,
And earth's full voice approves the vast design.
Tho still her inland realms the combat wage
And hold in lingering broils the unsettled age,
Yet no rude shocks that shake the crimson plain
Shall more disturb the labors of the main;
The main that spread so wide his travell'd way,
Liberal as air, impartial as the day,
That all thy race the common wealth might share,
Exchange their fruits and fill their treasures there,
Their speech assimilate, their counsels blend,
Till mutual interest fix the mutual friend.
Now see, my son, the destined hour advance;
Safe in their leagues commercial navies dance,
Leave their curst cannon on the quay-built strand,
And like the stars of heaven a fearless course command.
The Hero look'd; beneath his wondering eyes
Gay streamers lengthen round the seas and skies;
The countless nations open all their stores,
Load every wave and crowd the lively shores;
Bright sails in mingling mazes streak the air,
And commerce triumphs o'er the rage of war.
From Baltic streams, from Elba's opening side,
From Rhine's long course and Texel's laboring tide,
From Gaul, from Albion, tired of fruitless fight,
From green Hibernia, clothed in recent light,
Hispania's strand that two broad oceans lave,
From Senegal and Gambia's golden wave,
Tago the rich, and Douro's viny shores,
The sweet Canaries and the soft Azores,
Commingling barks their mutual banners hail,
And drink by turns the same distending gale.
Thro Calpe's strait that leads the Midland main,
From Adria, Pontus, Nile's resurgent reign,
The sails look forth and wave their bandrols high
And ask their breezes from a broader sky.
Where Asia's isles and utmost shorelands bend,
Like rising suns the sheeted masts ascend;
Coast after coast their flowing flags unrol,
From Deimen's rocks to Zembla's ice-propt pole,
Where Behren's pass collapsing worlds divides,
Where California breaks the billowy tides,
Peruvian streams their golden margins boast,
Or Chili bluffs or Plata flats the coast.
Where, clothed in splendor, his Atlantic way
Spreads the blue borders of Hesperian day,
From all his havens, with majestic sweep,
The swiftest boldest daughters of the deep
Swarm forth before him; till the cloudlike train
From pole to pole o'ersheet the whitening main.
So some primeval seraph, placed on high,
From heaven's sublimest point o'erlooke'd the sky,
When space unfolding heard the voice of God,
And suns and stars and systems roll'd abroad,
Caught their first splendors from his beamful eye,
Began their years and vaulted round their sky;
Their social spheres in bright confusion play,
Exchange their beams and fill the newborn day.
Nor seas alone the countless barks behold;
Earth's inland realms their naval paths unfold.
Her plains, long portless, now no more complain
Of useless rills and fountains nursed in vain;
Canals curve thro them many a liquid line,
Prune their wild streams, their lakes and oceans join.
Where Darien hills o'erlook the gulphy tide,
Cleft in his view the enormous banks divide;
Ascending sails their opening pass pursue,
And waft the sparkling treasures of Peru.
Moxoe resigns his stagnant world of fen,
Allures, rewards the cheerful toils of men,
Leads their long new-made rivers round his reign,
Drives off the stench and waves his golden grain,
Feeds a whole nation from his cultured shore,
Where not a bird could skim the skies before.
From Mohawk's mouth, far westing with the sun,
Thro all the midlands recent channels run,
Tap the redundant lakes, the broad hills brave,
And Hudson marry with Missouri's wave.
From dim Superior, whose uncounted sails
Shade his full seas and bosom all his gales,
New paths unfolding seek Mackensie's tide,
And towns and empires rise along their side;
Slave's crystal highways all his north adorn,
Like coruscations from the boreal morn.
Proud Missisippi, tamed and taught his road,
Flings forth irriguous from his generous flood
Ten thousand watery glades; that, round him curl'd,
Vein the broad bosom of the western world.
From the red banks of Arab's odorous tide
Their Isthmus opens, and strange waters glide;
Europe from all her shores, with crowded sails,
Looks thro the pass and calls the Asian gales.
Volga and Obi distant oceans join.
Delighted Danube weds the wasting Rhine;
Elbe, Oder, Neister channel many a plain,
Exchange their barks and try each other's main.
All infant streams and every mountain rill
Choose their new paths, some useful task to fill,
Each acre irrigate, re-road the earth,
And serve at last the purpose of their birth.
Earth, garden'd all, a tenfold burden brings;
Her fruits, her odors, her salubrious springs
Swell, breathe and bubble from the soil they grace,
String with strong nerves the renovating race,
Their numbers multiply in every land,
Their toils diminish and their powers expand;
And while she rears them with a statelier frame
Their soul she kindles with diviner flame,
Leads their bright intellect with fervid glow
Thro all the mass of things that still remains to know.
He saw the aspiring genius of the age
Soar in the Bard and strengthen in the Sage:
The Bard with bolder hand assumes the lyre,
Warms the glad nations with unwonted fire,
Attunes to virtue all the tones that roll
Their tides of transport thro the expanding soul.
For him no more, beneath their furious gods,
Old ocean crimsons and Olympus nods,
Uprooted mountains sweep the dark profound,
Or Titans groan beneath the rending ground,
No more his clangor maddens up the mind
To crush, to conquer and enslave mankind,
To build on ruin'd realms the shrines of fame,
And load his numbers with a tyrant's name.
Far nobler objects animate his tongue,
And give new energies to epic song;
To moral charms he bids the world attend,
Fraternal states their mutual ties extend,
O'er cultured earth the rage of conquest cease,
War sink in night and nature smile in peace.
Soaring with science then he learns to string
Her highest harp, and brace her broadest wing,
With her own force to fray the paths untrod,
With her own glance to ken the total God,
Thro heavens o'ercanopied by heavens behold
New suns ascend and other skies unfold,
Social and system'd worlds around him shine,
And lift his living strains to harmony divine.
The Sage with steadier lights directs his ken,
Thro twofold nature leads the walks of men,
Remoulds her moral and material frames,
Their mutual aids, their sister laws proclaims,
Disease before him with its causes flies,
And boasts no more of sickly soils and skies;
His well-proved codes the healing science aid,
Its base establish and its blessing spread,
With long-wrought life to teach the race to glow,
And vigorous nerves to grace the locks of snow.
From every shape that varying matter gives,
That rests or ripens, vegetates or lives,
His chymic powers new combinations plan,
Yield new creations, finer forms to man,
High springs of health for mind and body trace,
Add force and beauty to the joyous race,
Arm with new engines his adventurous hand,
Stretch o'er these elements his wide command,
Lay the proud storm submissive at his feet,
Change, temper, tame all subterranean heat,
Probe laboring earth and drag from her dark side
The mute volcano, ere its force be tried;
Walk under ocean, ride the buoyant air,
Brew the soft shower, the labor'd land repair,
A fruitful soil o'er sandy deserts spread,
And clothe with culture every mountain's head.
Where system'd realms their mutual glories lend,
And well-taught sires the cares of state attend,
Thro every maze of man they learn to wind,
Note each device that prompts the Proteus mind,
What soft restraints the tempered breast requires,
To taste new joys and cherish new desires,
Expand the selfish to the social flame,
And rear the soul to deeds of nobler fame.
They mark, in all the past records of praise,
What partial views heroic zeal could raise;
What mighty states on others' ruins stood,
And built unsafe their haughty seats in blood;
How public virtue's ever borrow'd name
With proud applauses graced the deeds of shame,
Bade each imperial standard wave sublime,
And wild ambition havoc every clime;
From chief to chief the kindling spirit ran,
Heirs of false fame and enemies of man.
Where Grecian states in even balance hung,
And warm'd with jealous fires the patriot's tongue,
The exclusive ardor cherish'd in the breast
Love to one land and hatred to the rest.
And where the flames of civil discord rage,
And Roman arms with Roman arms engage,
The mime of virtue rises still the same,
To build a Cesar's as a Pompey's name.
But now no more the patriotic mind,
To narrow views and local laws confined,
Gainst neighboring lands directs the public rage.
Plods for a clan or counsels for an age;
But soars to loftier thoughts, and reaches far
Beyond the power, beyond the wish of war;
For realms and ages forms the general aim,
Makes patriot views and moral views the same,
Works with enlighten'd zeal, to see combined
The strength and happiness of humankind.
Long had Columbus with delighted eyes
Mark'd all the changes that around him rise,
Lived thro descending ages as they roll,
And feasted still the still expanding soul;
When now the peopled regions swell more near,
And a mixt noise tumultuous stuns his ear.
At first, like heavy thunders roll'd in air,
Or the rude shock of cannonading war,
Or waves resounding on the craggy shore,
Hoarse roll'd the loud-toned undulating roar.
But soon the sounds like human voices rise,
All nations pouring undistinguisht cries;
Till more distinct the wide concussion grown
Rolls forth at times an accent like his own.
By turns the tongues assimilating blend,
And smoother idioms over earth ascend;
Mingling and softening still in every gale,
O'er discord's din harmonious tones prevail.
At last a simple universal sound
Winds thro the welkin, sooths the world around,
From echoing shores in swelling strain replies,
And moves melodious o'er the warbling skies.
Such wild commotions as he heard and view'd,
In fixt astonishment the Hero stood,
And thus besought the Guide: Celestial friend,
What good to man can these dread scenes intend?
Some sore distress attends that boding sound
That breathed hoarse thunder and convulsed the ground.
War sure hath ceased; or have my erring eyes
Misread the glorious visions of the skies?
Tell then, my Seer, if future earthquakes sleep,
Closed in the conscious caverns of the deep,
Waiting the day of vengeance, when to roll
And rock the rending pillars of the pole.
Or tell if aught more dreadful to my race
In these dark signs thy heavenly wisdom trace;
And why the loud discordance melts again
In the smooth glidings of a tuneful strain.
The guardian god replied: Thy fears give o'er;
War's hosted hounds shall havoc earth no more;
No sore distress these signal sounds foredoom,
But give the pledge of peaceful years to come;
The tongues of nations here their accents blend.
Till one pure language thro the world extend.
Thou know'st the tale of Babel; how the skies
Fear'd for their safety as they felt him rise,
Sent unknown jargons mid the laboring bands,
Confused their converse and unnerved their hands,
Dispersed the bickering tribes and drove them far,
From peaceful toil to violence and war;
Bade kings arise with bloody flags unfurl'd,
Bade pride and conquest wander o'er the world,
Taught adverse creeds, commutual hatreds bred,
Till holy homicide the climes o'erspread.
--For that fine apologue, writh mystic strain,
Gave like the rest a golden age to man,
Ascribed perfection to his infant state,
Science unsought and all his arts innate;
Supposed the experience of the growing race
Must lead him retrograde and cramp his pace,
Obscure his vision as his lights increast,
And sink him from an angel to a beast.
Tis thus the teachers of despotic sway
Strive in all times to blot the beams of day,
To keep him curb'd, nor let him lift his eyes
To see where happiness, where misery lies.
They lead him blind, and thro the world's broad waste
Perpetual feuds, unceasing shadows cast,
Crush every art that might the mind expand,
And plant with demons every desert land;
That, fixt in straiten'd bounds, the lust of power
May ravage still and still the race devour,
An easy prey the hoodwink'd hordes remain,
And oceans roll and shores extend in vain.
Long have they reign'd; till now the race at last
Shake off their manacles, their blinders cast,
Overrule the crimes their fraudful foes produce,
By ways unseen to serve the happiest use,
Tempt the wide wave, probe every yielding soil,
Fill with their fruits the hardy hand of toil,
Unite their forces, wheel the conquering car,
Deal mutual death, but civilize by war.
Dear-bought the experiment and hard the strife
Of social man, that rear'd his arts to life.
His Passions wild that agitate the mind,
His Reason calm, their watchful guide designed,
While yet unreconciled, his march restrain,
Mislead the judgment and betray the man.
Fear, his first passion, long maintain'd the sway,
Long shrouded in its glooms the mental ray,
Shook, curb'd, controll'd his intellectual force,
And bore him wild thro many a devious course.
Long had his Reason, with experienced eye,
Perused the book of earth and scaled the sky,
Led fancy, memory, foresight in her train,
And o'er creation stretch'd her vast domain;
Yet would that rival Fear her strength appal;
In that one conflict always sure to fall,
Mild Reason shunn'd the foe she could not brave,
Renounced her empire and remained a slave.
But deathless, tho debased, she still could find
Some beams of truth to pour upon the mind;
And tho she dared no moral code to scan,
Thro physic forms she learnt to lead the man;
To strengthen thus his opening orbs of sight,
And nerve and clear them for a stronger light.
That stronger light, from nature's double codes,
Now springs expanding and his doubts explodes;
All nations catch it, all their tongues combine
To hail the human morn and speak the day divine.
At this blest period, when the total race
Shall speak one language and all truths embrace,
Instruction clear a speedier course shall find,
And open earlier on the infant mind.
No foreign terms shall crowd with barbarous rules
The dull unmeaning pageantry of schools;
Nor dark authorities nor names unknown
Fill the learnt head with ignorance not its own;
But wisdom's eye with beams unclouded shine,
And simplest rules her native charms define;
One living language, one unborrow'd dress
Her boldest flights with fullest force express;
Triumphant virtue, in the garb of truth,
Win a pure passage to the heart of youth,
Pervade all climes where suns or oceans roll,
And warm the world with one great moral soul,
To see, facilitate, attain the scope
Of all their labor and of all their hope.
As early Phosphor, on his silver throne,
Fair type of truth and promise of the sun,
Smiles up the orient in his dew-dipt ray,
Illumes the front of heaven and leads the day;
Thus Physic Science, with exploring eyes,
First o'er the nations bids her beauties rise,
Prepares the glorious way to pour abroad
Her Sister's brighter beams, the purest light of God.
Then Moral Science leads the lively mind
Thro broader fields and pleasures more refined;
Teaches the temper'd soul, at one vast view,
To glance o'er time and look existence thro,
See worlds and worlds, to being's formless end,
With all their hosts on her prime power depend,
Seraphs and suns and systems, as they rise,
Live in her life and kindle from her eyes,
Her cloudless ken, her all-pervading soul
Illume, sublime and harmonize the whole;
Teaches the pride of man its breadth to bound
In one small point of this amazing round,
To shrink and rest where nature fixt its fate,
A line its space, a moment for its date;
Instructs the heart an ampler joy to taste,
And share its feelings with each human breast,
Expand its wish to grasp the total kind
Of sentient soul, of cogitative mind;
Till mutual love commands all strife to cease,
And earth join joyous in the songs of peace.
Thus heard Columbus, eager to behold
The famed Apocalypse its years unfold;
The soul stood speaking thro his gazing eyes,
And thus his voice: Oh let the visions rise!
Command, celestial Guide, from each far pole,
John's vision'd morn to open on my soul,
And raise the scenes, by his reflected light,
Living and glorious to my longing sight.
Let heaven unfolding show the eternal throne,
And all the concave flame in one clear sun;
On clouds of fire, with angels at his side,
The Prince of Peace, the King of Salem ride,
With smiles of love to greet the bridal earth,
Call slumbering ages to a second birth,
With all his white-robed millions fill the train,
And here commence the interminable reign!
Such views, the Saint replies, for sense too bright,
Would seal thy vision in eternal night;
Man cannot face nor seraph power display
The mystic beams of such an awful day.
Enough for thee, that thy delighted mind
Should trace the temporal actions of thy kind;
That time's descending veil should ope so far
Beyond the reach of wretchedness and war,
Till all the paths in nature's sapient plan
Fair in thy presence lead the steps of man,
And form at last, on earth's extended ball,
Union of parts and happiness of all.
To thy glad ken these rolling years have shown
The boundless blessings thy vast labors crown,
That, with the joys of unborn ages blest,
Thy soul exulting may retire to rest,
But see once more! beneath a change of skies,
The last glad visions wait thy raptured eyes.
Eager he look'd. Another train of years
Had roll'd unseen, and brighten'd still their spheres;
Earth more resplendent in the floods of day
Assumed new smiles, and flush'd around him lay.
Green swell the mountains, calm the oceans roll,
Fresh beams of beauty kindle round the pole;
Thro all the range where shores and seas extend,
In tenfold pomp the works of peace ascend.
Robed in the bloom of spring's eternal year,
And ripe with fruits the same glad fields appear;
O'er hills and vales perennial gardens run,
Cities unwall'd stand sparkling to the sun;
The streams all freighted from the bounteous plain
Swell with the load and labor to the main,
Whose stormless waves command a steadier gale
And prop the pinions of a bolder sail:
Sway'd with the floating weight each ocean toils,
And joyous nature's full perfection smiles.
Fill'd with unfolding fate, the vision'd age
Now leads its actors on a broader stage;
When clothed majestic in the robes of state,
Moved by one voice, in general congress meet
The legates of all empires. Twas the place
Where wretched men first firm'd their wandering pace;
Ere yet beguiled, the dark delirious hordes
Began to fight for altars and for lords;
Nile washes still the soil, and feels once more
The works of wisdom press his peopled shore.
In this mid site, this monumental clime,
Rear'd by all realms to brave the wrecks of time
A spacious dome swells up, commodious great,
The last resort, the unchanging scene of state.
On rocks of adamant the walls ascend,
Tall columns heave and sky-like arches bend;
Bright o'er the golden roofs the glittering spires
Far in the concave meet the solar fires;
Four blazing fronts, with gates unfolding high,
Look with immortal splendor round the sky:
Hither the delegated sires ascend,
And all the cares of every clime attend.
As that blest band, the guardian guides of heaven,
To whom the care of stars and suns is given,
(When one great circuit shall have proved their spheres,
And time well taught them how to wind their years)
Shall meet in general council; call'd to state
The laws and labors that their charge await;
To learn, to teach, to settle how to hold
Their course more glorious, as their lights unfold:
From all the bounds of space (the mandate known)
They wing their passage to the eternal throne;
Each thro his far dim sky illumes the road,
And sails and centres tow'rd the mount of God;
There, in mid universe, their seats to rear,
Exchange their counsels and their works compare:
So, from all tracts of earth, this gathering throng
In ships and chariots shape their course along,
Reach with unwonted speed the place assign'd
To hear and give the counsels of mankind.
South of the sacred mansion, first resort
The assembled sires, and pass the spacious court.
Here in his porch earth's figured Genius stands,
Truth's mighty mirror poizing in his hands;
Graved on the pedestal and chased in gold,
Man's noblest arts their symbol forms unfold,
His tillage and his trade; with all the store
Of wondrous fabrics and of useful lore:
Labors that fashion to his sovereign sway
Earth's total powers, her soil and air and sea;
Force them to yield their fruits at his known call,
And bear his mandates round the rolling ball.
Beneath the footstool all destructive things,
The mask of priesthood and the mace of kings,
Lie trampled in the dust; for here at last
Fraud, folly, error all their emblems cast.
Each envoy here unloads his wearied hand
Of some old idol from his native land;
One flings a pagod on the mingled heap,
One lays a crescent, one a cross to sleep;
Swords, sceptres, mitres, crowns and globes and stars,
Codes of false fame and stimulants to wars
Sink in the settling mass; since guile began,
These are the agents of the woes of man.
Now the full concourse, where the arches bend,
Pour thro by thousands and their seats ascend.
Far as the centred eye can range around,
Or the deep trumpet's solemn voice resound,
Long rows of reverend sires sublime extend,
And cares of worlds on every brow suspend.
High in the front, for soundest wisdom known,
A sire elect in peerless grandeur shone;
He open'd calm the universal cause,
To give each realm its limit and its laws,
Bid the last breath of tired contention cease,
And bind all regions in the leagues of peace;
Till one confederate, condependent sway
Spread with the sun and bound the walks of day,
One centred system, one all-ruling soul
Live thro the parts and regulate the whole.
Here then, said Hesper, with a blissful smile,
Behold the fruits of thy long years of toil.
To yon bright borders of Atlantic day
Thy swelling pinions led the trackless way,
And taught mankind such useful deeds to dare,
To trace new seas and happy nations rear;
Till by fraternal hands their sails unfurl'd
Have waved at last in union o'er the world.
Then let thy steadfast soul no more complain
Of dangers braved and griefs endured in vain,
Of courts insidious, envy's poison'd stings,
The loss of empire and the frown of kings;
While these broad views thy better thoughts compose
To spurn the malice of insulting foes;
And all the joys descending ages gain,
Repay thy labors and remove thy pain.
Tho it would be more convenient to the reader to find some of these notes,
especially the shorter ones, at the bottom of the pages to which they
refer, yet most of them are of such a length as would render that mode of
placing them disadvantageous to the symmetry of the pages and the general
appearance of the work. It seemed necessary that these should be collected
at the end of the Poem; and it was thought proper that the others should
not be separated from them.
The notes will probably be found too voluminous for the taste of some
readers; but others would doubtless be better pleased to see them still
augmented, as several of the philosophical subjects and historical
references are left unexplained. Were I to offer apologies in this case, I
should hardly know on which side to begin. I will therefore only say that
in this appendage, as in the body of the work, I have aimed, as well as I
was able, at blending in due proportions the useful with the agreeable.
_One gentle guardian once could shield the brave;
But now that guardian slumbers in the grave._
Book I. Line 105.
The death of queen Isabella, which happened before the last return of
Columbus from America, was a subject of great sorrow to him. In her he lost
his only powerful friend in Spain, on whose influence he was accustomed to
rely in counteracting the perpetual intrigues of a host of enemies, whose
rank and fortune gave them a high standing at the court of Valladolid.
Their situation and connexions must havee commanded a weight of authority
not easily resisted by an individual foreigner, however illustrious from
It was a grievous reflection for Columbus that his services, tho great in
themselves and unequalled in their consequences to the world, had been
performed in an age and for a nation which knew not their value, as well as
for an ungrateful monarch who chose to disregard them.
_As, awed to silence, savage lands gave place,
And hail'd with joy the sun-descended race._
Book I. Line 243.
The original inhabitants of Hispaniola were worshippers of the sun. The
Europeans, when they first landed there, were supposed by them to be gods,
and consequently descended from the sun. See the subject of solar worship
treated more at large in a subsequent note.
_High lanterned in his heaven the cloudless White
Heaves the glad sailor an eternal light;_
Book I. Line 333.
The White Mountain of Newhampshire, tho eighty miles from the sea, is the
first land to be discovered in approaching that part of the coast of North
America. It serves as a landmark for a considerable length of coast, of
_Whirl'd from the monstrous Andes' bursting sides,
Maragnon leads his congregating tides;_
Book I. Line 365.
This river, from different circumstances, has obtained several different
names. It has been called Amazon, from an idea that some part of the
neighboring country was inhabited by a race of warlike women, resembling
what Herodotus relates of the Amazons of Scythia. It has been called
Orellana, from its having been discovered by a Spanish officer of that
name, who, on a certain expedition, deserted from the younger Pizarro on
one of the sources of this river, and navigated it from thence to the
ocean. Maragnon is the original name given it by the natives; which name I
choose to follow.
If we estimate its magnitude by the length of its course and the quantity
of water it throws into the sea, it is much the greatest river that has
hitherto come to our knowledge. Its navigation is said by Condamine and
others to be uninterrupted for four thousand miles from the sea. Its
breadth, within the banks, is sixty geographical miles; it receives in its
course a variety of great rivers, besides those described in the text. Many
of these descend from elevated countries and mountains covered with snow,
the melting of which annually swells the Maragnon above its banks; when it
overflows and fertilizes a vast extent of territory.
_He saw Xaraycts diamond lanks unfold,
And Paraguay's deep channel paved with gold._
Book I. Line 435.
Some of the richest diamond mines are found on the banks of the lake
Xaraya. The river Paraguay is remarkable for the quantities of gold dust
found in its channel. The Rio de la Plata, properly so called, has
its source in the mountains of Potosi; and it was probably from this
circumstance that it received its name, which signifies River of Silver.
This river, after having joined the Paraguay, which is larger than itself,
retains its own name till it reaches the sea. Near the mouth, it is one
hundred and fifty miles wide; but in other respects it is far inferior to
_Soon as the distant swell was seen to roll,
His ancient wishes reabsorb'd his soul;_
Book I. Line 449.
The great object of Columbus, in most of his voyages, was to discover a
western passage to India. He navigated the Gulph of Mexico with particular
attention to this object, and was much disappointed in not finding a pass
into the South Sea. The view he is here supposed to have of that ocean
would therefore naturally recal his former desire of sailing to India.
_This idle frith must open soon to fame,
Here a lost Lusitanian fix his name,_
Book I. Line 491.
The straits of Magellan, so called from having been discovered by a
Portuguese navigator of that name, who first attempted to sail round the
world, and lost his life in the attempt.
_Say, Palfrey, brave good man, was this thy doom?
Dwells here the secret of thy midsea tomb?_
Book I. Line 627.
Colonel Palfrey of Boston was an officer of distinction in the American
army during the war of independence. Soon after the war he proposed to
visit Europe, and embarked for England; but never more was heard of. The
ship probably perished in the ice. His daughter, here alluded to, is now
the wife of William Lee, American consul at Bordeaux.
_The beasts all whitening roam the lifeless plain,
And caves unfrequent scoop the couch for man._
Book I. Line 753.
The color of animals is acquired partly from the food they eat, thro
successive generations, and partly from the objects with which they are
usually surrounded. Dr. Darwin has a curious note on this subject, in which
he remarks on the advantages that insects and other small animals derive
from their color, as a means of rendering them invisible to their more
powerful enemies; who thus find it difficult to distinguish them from other
objects where they reside. Some animals which inhabit cold countries turn
white in winter, when the earth is covered with snow; such as the snowbird
of the Alps. Others in snowy regions are habitually white; such as the
white bear of Russia.
_A different cast the glowing zone demands,
In Paria's blooms, from Tombut's burning sands._
Book II. Line 97.
Paria is a fertile country near the river Orinoco; the only part of the
continent of America that Columbus had seen. Tombut, in the same latitude,
is the most sterile part of Africa. America embraces a greater compass of
latitude by many degrees than the other continent; and yet its inhabitants
present a much less variety in their physical and moral character. When
shall we be able to account for this fact?
_Yet when the hordes to happy nations rise,
And earth by culture warms the genial skies_,
Book II. Line 119.
Without entering into any discussion on the theory of heat and cold
(a point not yet settled in our academies) I would just observe, in
vindication of the expression in the text, that some solid matter, such for
instance as the surface of the earth, seems absolutely necessary to the
production of heat. At least it must be a matter more compact than that of
the sun's rays; and perhaps its power of producing heat is in proportion to
The warmth communicated to the atmosphere is doubtless produced by the
combined causes of the earth and the sun; but the agency of the former is
probably more powerful in this operation than that of the latter, and its
presence more indispensable. For masses of matter will produce heat by
friction, without the aid of the sun; but no experiment has yet proved that
the rays of the sun are capable of producing heat without the aid of other
and more solid matter. The air is temperate in those cavities of the earth
where the sun is the most effectually excluded; whereas the coldest regions
yet known to us are the tops of the Andes, where the sun's rays have the
most direct operation, being the most vertical and the least obstructed by
vapors. Those regions are deprived of heat by being so far removed from
the broad surface of the earth; a body that appears requisite to warm the
surrounding atmosphere by its cooperation with the action of the sun.
From these principles we may conclude that cultivation, in a woody country,
tends to warm the atmosphere and ameliorate a cold climate; as, by removing
the forests and marshes, it opens the earth to the sun, and allows them to
act in conjunction upon the air.
According to the descriptions given of the middle parts of Europe by Cesar
and Tacitus, it appears that those countries were much colder in their days
than they are at present; cultivation seems to have softened that climate
to a great degree. The same effect begins to be perceived in North America.
Possibly it may in time become as apparent as the present difference in the
temperature of the two continents.
_A ruddier hue and deeper shade shall gain,
And stalk, in statelier figures, on the plain._
Book II. Line 127.
The complexion of the inhabitants of North America, who are descended from
the English and Dutch, is evidently darker, and their stature taller, than
those of the English and Dutch in Europe.
_Like Memphian hieroglyphs, to stretch the span
Of memory frail in momentary man._
Book II. Line 287.
We may reckon three stages of improvement in the graphic art, or the art of
communicating our thoughts to absent persons and to posterity by visible
signs. First, The invention of _painting ideas,_ or representing
actions, dates and other circumstances of historical fact, by the images of
material things, drawn usually on a flat surface, or sometimes carved or
moulded in a more solid form. This was the state at which the art had
arrived in Egypt before the introduction of letters, and in Mexico before
the arrival of the Spaniards. The Greeks in Egypt called it hieroglyphic.
Second, The invention of _painting sounds,_ which we do by the use
of letters, or the alphabet, and which we call writing. This was a vast
improvement; as it simplified in a wonderful degree the communication of
thought. For ideas are infinite in number and variety; while the simple
sounds we use to convey them to the ear are few, distinct and easy to be
understood. It would indeed be impossible to express all our ideas by
distinct and visible images. And even if the writer were able to do this,
not many readers could be made to understand him; since it would be
necessary that every new idea should have a new image invented and agreed
upon between the writer and the reader, before it could be used. Which
preliminary could not be settled without the writer should see and converse
with the reader. And he might as well, in this case, convey his ideas by
oral speech; so that his writing could be of little use beyond a certain
routine of established signs.
The number of simple sounds in human language, used in discourse, is not
above eighteen or twenty; and these are so varied in the succession in
which they are uttered, as to express an inconceivable and endless variety
of thought and sentiment. Then, by the help of an alphabet of about
twenty-six letters or visible signs, these sounds are translated from the
ear to the eye; and we are able, by thus painting the sound, to arrest its
fleeting nature, render it permanent, and talk with distant nations and
future ages, without any previous convention whatever, even supposing them
to be ignorant of the language in which we write. This is the present state
of the art, as commonly practised in all the countries where an alphabet
is used. It is called the art of writing; and to understand it is called
Third, Another invention, which is still in its infancy, is the art of
_painting phrases,_ or sentences; commonly called shorthand writing.
This is yet but little used, and only by a few dexterous persons, who make
it a particular study. Probably the true principles on which it ought to be
founded are yet to be discovered. But it may be presumed, that in this part
of the graphic art there remains to the ingenuity of future generations a
course of improvements totally inconceivable to the present; by which the
whole train of impressions now made upon the mind by reading a long and
well written treatise may be conveyed by a few strokes of the pen, and be
received at a glance of the eye. This desideratum would be an abridgment
of labor in our mental acquisitions, of which we cannot determine the
consequences. It might make, in the progress of human knowledge, an epoch
as remarkable as that which was made by the invention of alphabetical
writing, and produce as great a change in the mode of transmitting the
history of events.
One consequence of the invention of alphabetical writing seems to have been
to throw into oblivion all previous historical facts; and it has thus
left an immense void, which the imagination knows not how to fill, in
contemplating the progress of our race. How many important discoveries,
which still remain to our use, must have taken their origin in that space
of time which is thus left a void to us! A vast succession of ages, and
ages of improvement, must have preceded (for example) the invention of the
wheel. The wheel must have been in common use, we know not how long, before
alphabetical writing; because we find its image employed in painting ideas,
during the first stage of the graphic art above described. The wheel
was likewise in use before the mysteries of Ceres or those of Isis were
established; as is evident from its being imagined as an instrument
of punishment in hell, in the case of Ixion, as represented in those
mysteries. The taming of the ox and the horse, the use of the sickle
and the bow and arrow, a considerable knowledge of astronomy, and its
application to the purposes of agriculture and navigation, with many other
circumstances, which show a prodigious improvement, must evidently have
preceded the date of the zodiac; a date fixed by Dupuis, with a great
degree of probability, at about seventeen thousand years from our time.
This epoch would doubtless carry us back many thousand years beyond that of
the alphabet; the invention of which was sufficient of itself to obliterate
the details of previous history, as the event has proved.
How far the loss of these historical details is to be regretted, as an
impediment to our progress in useful knowledge, I will not decide; but
in one view, which I am going to state, it may be justly considered as a
The art of painting ideas, being arrested in the state in which the use of
the alphabet found it, went into general disuse for common purposes; and
the works then extant, as well as the knowledge of writing in that mode,
being no longer intelligible to the people, became objects of deep and
laborious study, and known only to the learned; that is, to the men of
leisure and contemplation. These men consequently ran it into mystery;
making it a holy object, above the reach of vulgar inquiry. On this
ground they established, in the course of ages, a profitable function
or profession, in the practice of which a certain portion of men of the
brightest talents could make a reputable living; taking care not to
initiate more than a limited number of professors; no more than the people
could maintain as priests. This mode of writing then assumed the name of
hieroglyphic, or sacred painting, to distinguish it from that which had
now become the vulgar mode of writing, by the use of the alphabet. This is
perhaps the source of that ancient, vast and variegated system of false
religion, with all its host of errors and miseries, which has so long and
so grievously weighed upon the character of human nature.
In noticing the distinction of the three stages in the graphic art above
described, I have not mentioned the wonderful powers we derive from it
in the language of the mathematics and the language of music. In each of
these, though its effects are already astonishing, there is no doubt but
great improvements are still to be made. Our present mode of writing
in these, as in literature, belongs to the _second_ or _alphabetical_
stage of the graphic art. The ten ciphers, and the other signs used in
the mathematical sciences, form the alphabet in which the language of
those sciences is written. The few musical notes, and the other signs
which accompany them, furnish an alphabet for writing the language of
The mode of writing in China is still different from any of those I have
mentioned. The Chinese neither paint ideas nor sounds: but they make a
character for every word; which character must vary according to the
different inflections and uses of that word. The characters must therefore
be insupportably numerous, and be still increasing as the language is
enriched with new words by the augmentation and correction of ideas.
The English language is supposed to contain about twelve thousand distinct
words, and the Italian about seventeen thousand, in the present state of
our sciences. I know not how many the Chinese may contain; but if we were
to write our languages in the Chinese method, it would be the business of a
whole life for a man to learn his mother tongue, so as to read and write it
for his ordinary purposes.
As the Chinese have not adopted an alphabet, but have adhered to an
invariable state of the graphic art, which is probably more ancient by
several thousand years than our present method, may we not venture to
conjecture that the traces of their very ancient history have been, for
that reason, better preserved? and that their pretensions to a very high
antiquity, which we have been used to think extravagant and ridiculous, are
really not without foundation? If so, we might then allow a little more
latitude to ourselves, and conclude that we are in fact as old as they, and
might have been as sensible of it, if we had adhered to our ancient
method of writing; and not changed it for a new one which, while it
has facilitated the progress of our science, has humbled our pride of
antiquity, by obliterating the dates of those labors and improvements of
our early progenitors, to which we are indebted for more of the rudiments
of our sciences and our arts than we usually imagine.
It is much to be regretted, that the Spanish devastation in Mexico and Peru
was so universal as to leave us but few monuments of the history of the
human mind in those countries, which presented a state of manners so
remarkably different from what can be found in any other part of the world.
The pictorial writing of the Mexicans, tho sometimes called hieroglyphic,
does not appear to merit that name, as it was not exclusively appropriated
by the priests to sacred purposes. Indeed it could not be so appropriated
till a more convenient method could be discovered and adopted for common
purposes. For a thing cannot become sacred, in this sense of the word,
until it ceases to be common.
_No Bovadilla seize the tempting spoil,
No dark Ovando, no religious Boyle,_
Book II. Line 303.
Bovadilla and Ovando are mentioned in the Introduction as the enemies and
successors of Columbus in the government of Hispaniola. They began
that system of cruelty towards the natives which in a few years almost
depopulated that island, and was afterwards pursued by Cortez, Pizarro and
others, in all the first settlements in Spanish America.
Boyle was a fanatical priest who accompanied Ovando, and, under pretence of
christianizing the natives by the sword, gave the sanction of the church to
the most shocking and extensive scenes of slaughter.
_He gains the shore. Behold his fortress rise,
His fleet high flaming suffocates the skies._
Book II. Line 329.
The conduct of Cortez, when he first landed on the coast of Mexico, was as
remarkable for that hardy spirit of adventure, to which success gives the
name of policy, as his subsequent operations were for cruelty and perfidy.
As soon as his army was on shore, he dismantled his fleet of such articles
as would be useful in building a new one; he then set fire to his ships,
and burnt them in presence of his men; that they might fight their battles
with more desperate courage, knowing that it would be impossible to save
themselves from a victorious enemy by flight. He constructed a fort, in
which the iron and the rigging were preserved.
_With cheerful rites their pure devotions pay
To the bright orb that gives the changing day._
Book II. Line 421.
It is worthy of remark, that the countries where the worship of the sun has
made the greatest figure are Egypt and Peru; the two regions of the earth
the most habitually deprived of rain, and probably of clouds, which in
other countries so frequently obstruct his rays and seem to dispute his
influence. Tho in the rude ages of society it is certainly natural in all
countries to pay adoration to the sun, as one of the visible agents of
those changes in the atmosphere which most affect the people's happiness,
yet it is reasonable to suppose that this adoration would be more unmixed,
and consequently more durable, in climates where the agency of the sun
appears unrivalled and supreme.
On the supposition that Greece and Western Asia, regions whose early
traditions are best known to us, derived their first theological ideas
from Egypt, it is curious to observe how the pure heliosebia of Egypt
degenerated in those climates in proportion as other visible agents seemed
to exert their influence in human affairs. Greece is a mountainous country,
subject to a great deal of lightning and other meteors, whose effects are
tremendous and make stronger impressions on rude savages than the gentle
energies of the sun.
The Greeks therefore, having forgotten the source of their religious
system, ceased to consider the sun as their supreme god; his agency being,
in their opinion, subject to a more potent divinity, the Power of the air
or Jupiter, whom they styled the Thunderer. So that Apollo, the god of
light, became, in their mythology, the subject and offspring of the
supreme god of the atmosphere. This religion became extremely confused
and complicated with new fables, according to the temperature and other
accidents of the different climates thro which it passed. The god of
thunder obtained the supreme veneration generally in Europe: known in the
south by the name of Jupiter or Zeus and in the north by that of Thor.
Europe in general has an uneven surface and a vapory sky, liable to great
concussions in the lower regions of the atmosphere which border the
habitation of man. There is no wonder that in such a region the god of the
air should appear more powerful than the god of light. This disposition of
the elements has given a gloomy cast to the mind, and in the north more
than in the south. The Thor of the Celtic nations was more tremendous, more
feared and less beloved, than the Jupiter of the Greeks and Romans; he was
worshipped accordingly with more bloody sacrifices. But in all Europe,
Western Asia and the northwestern coast of Africa, where the earth is
uneven and the climate variable, their religion was more gloomy and their
gods more ferocious than among the ancient Egyptians.
A like difference is observed in the religions of the two countries in
America where civilization was most advanced before the arrival of the
Spaniards. Peru enjoyed a climate of great serenity and regularity. Of
all the sensible agents that operated on the earth and air, the sun was
apparently the most uniform and energetic. The worship of the sun was
therefore the most predominant and durable; and it inspired a mildness of
manners analogous to his mild and beneficent influence. In Mexico and other
uneven countries, where storms and earthquakes were frequent, the sun,
altho he was reckoned among their deities, was not considered so powerful
as those of a more boisterous and maleficent nature. The Mexican worship
was therefore addressed chiefly to ferocious beings, enemies to human
happiness, who delighted in the tears and blood of their votaries. The
difference in the moral cast of religion in Peru and Mexico, as well as in
Egypt and Greece, must have been greatly owing to climate. Indeed in what
else should it be found? since the origin of religious ideas must have
been in the energies of those visible agents which form the distinctive
character of climates.
_Long is the tale; but tho their labors rest
By years obscured, in flowery fiction drest,_
Book II. Line 455.
The traditions respecting these founders of the Peruvian empire are indeed
obscure; but they excite in us the same sort of veneration that we feel
for the most amiable and distinguished characters of remote antiquity. The
honest zeal of Garcilasso de la Vega in collecting these traditions into
one body of history, as a probable series of facts, is to be applauded;
since he has there presented us with one of the most striking examples of
the _beau ideal_ in political character, that can be found in the
whole range of literature. He treats his subject with more natural
simplicity, tho with less talent, than Plutarch or Xenophon, when they
undertake a similar task, that of drawing traditional characters to fill up
the middle space between fable and history.
With regard to the true position that the portrait of Manco Capac ought to
hold in this middle space, how near it should stand to history and how
near to fable, we should find it difficult to say, and perhaps useless to
inquire. Plutarch has gravely given us the lives and actions of several
heroes who are evidently more fabulous than Capac, and of others who should
be placed on the same line with him. The existence of Theseus, Romulus
and Numa is more doubtful and their actions less probable than his. The
character of Capac, in regard to its reality, stands on a parallel with
that of the Lycurgus of Plutarch and the Cyrus of Xenophon; not purely
historical nor purely fabulous, but presented to us as a compendium of
those talents and labors which might possibly be crowded into the capacity
of one mind, and be achieved in one life, but which more probably belong
to several generations; the talents and labors that could reduce a great
number of ferocious tribes into one peaceable and industrious state.
Garcilasso was himself an Inca by maternal descent, born and educated
at Cusco after the Spanish conquest. He writes apparently with the most
scrupulous regard to truth, with little judgment and no ornament. He
discovers a credulous zeal to throw a lustre on his remote ancestor Manco
Capac, not by inventing new incidents, but by collecting with great
industry all that had been recorded in the annals of the family. And their
manner of recording events, tho not so perfect as that of writing, was not
so liable to error as traditions merely oral, like those of the Caledonian
and other Celtic bards, with respect to the ancient heroes of their
His account states, that about four centuries previous to the discovery of
that country by the Spaniards, the natives of Peru were as rude savages
as any in America. They had no fixed habitations, no ideas of permanent
property; they wandered naked like the beasts, and like them depended on
the events of each day for a subsistence. At this period Manco Capac and
his wife Mauna Oella appeared on a small island in the lake Titiaca, near
which the city of Cusco was afterwards built. These persons, to establish a
belief of their divinity in the minds of the people, were clothed in white
garments of cotton, and declared themselves descended from the sun, who
was their father and the god of that country. They affirmed that he was
offended at their cruel and perpetual wars, their barbarous modes of
worship, and their neglecting to make the best use of the blessings he was
constantly bestowing, in fertilizing the earth and producing vegetation;
that he pitied their wretched state, and had sent his own children to
instruct them and to establish a number of wise regulations, by which they
might be rendered happy.
By some uncommon method of persuasion, these persons drew together a few
of the savage tribes, laid the foundation of the city of Cusco, and
established what is called the kingdom of the Sun, or the Peruvian empire.
In the reign of Manco Capac, the dominion was extended about eight leagues
from the city; and at the end of four centuries it was established fifteen
hundred miles on the coast of the Pacific ocean, and from that ocean to
the Andes. During this period, thro a succession of twelve monarchs, the
original constitution, established by the first Inca, remained unaltered;
and this constitution, with the empire itself, was at last overturned by an
accident which no human wisdom could foresee or prevent.
For a more particular detail of the character and institutions of this
extraordinary personage the reader is referred to a subsequent note, in
which he will find a dissertation on that subject.
In the passage preceding this reference, I have alluded to the fabulous
traditions relating to these children of the sun. In the remainder of the
second and thro the whole of the third book, I have given what may be
supposed a probable narrative of their real origin and actions. The space
allowed to this episode may appear too considerable in a poem whose
principal object is so different. But it may be useful to exhibit in action
the manners and sentiments of savage tribes, whose aliment is war; that the
contrast may show more forcibly the advantages of civilized life, whose
aliment is peace.
_Long robes of white my shoulders must embrace,
To speak my lineage of ethereal race;_
Book II. Line 553.
As the art of spinning is said to have been invented by Oella, it is no
improbable fiction to imagine that they first assumed these white garments
of cotton as an emblem of the sun, in order to inspire that reverence
for their persons which was necessary to their success. Such a dress may
likewise be supposed to have continued in the family as a badge of royalty.
DISSERTATION ON THE INSTITUTIONS OF MANCO CAPAC.
For the end of Book II.
Altho the original inhabitants of America in general deserve to be classed
among the most unimproved savages that had been, discovered before those of
New Holland, yet the Mexican and Peruvian governments exhibited remarkable
exceptions, and seemed to be fast approaching to a state of civilization.
In the difference of national character between the people of these two
empires we may discern the influence of political systems on the human
mind, and infer the importance of the task which a legislator undertakes,
in attempting to reduce a barbarous people under the control of government
The Mexican constitution was formed to render its subjects brave and
powerful; but, while it succeeded in this object, it kept them far removed
from the real blessings of society. According to the Spanish accounts
(which for an obvious reason may however be suspected of exaggeration)
the manners of the Mexicans were uncommonly ferocious, and their religion
gloomy, sanguinary, and unrelenting. But the establishments of Manco Capac,
if we may follow Garcilasso in attributing the whole of the Peruvian
constitution to that wonderful personage, present the aspect of a most
benevolent and pacific system; they tended to humanize the world and render
his people happy; while his ideas of deity were so elevated as to bear a
comparison with the sublime doctrines of Socrates or Plato.
The characters, whether real or fabulous, who are the most distinguished
as lawgivers among barbarous nations, are Moses, Lycurgus, Solon, Numa,
Mahomet, and Peter of Russia. Of these, only the two former and the two
latter appear really to deserve the character of lawgivers. Solon and Numa
possessed not the opportunity of showing their talents in the work of
original legislation. Athens and Rome were considerably civilized before
these persons arose. The most they could do was to correct and amend
constitutions already formed. Solon may be considered as a wise politician,
but by no means as the founder of a nation. The Athenians were too
far advanced in society to admit any radical change in their form of
government; unless recourse could have been had to the representative
system, by establishing an equality of rank, and instructing all the people
in their duties and their rights; a system which was never understood by
any ancient legislator.
The institutions of Numa (if such a person as Numa really existed) were
more effective and durable. His religious ceremonies were, for many ages,
the most powerful check on the licentious and turbulent Romans, the greater
part of whom were ignorant slaves. By inculcating a remarkable reverence
for the gods, and making it necessary to consult the auspices when any
thing important was to be transacted, his object was to render the popular
superstition subservient to the views of policy, and thus to give the
senate a steady check upon the plebeians. But the constitutions of Rome and
Athens, notwithstanding the abundant applause that has been bestowed upon
them, were never fixed on any permanent principles; tho the wisdom of some
of their rulers, and the spirit of liberty that inspired the citizens, may
justly demand our admiration.
Each of the other legislators above mentioned deserves a particular
consideration, as having acted in stations somewhat similar to that of the
Peruvian patriarch. Three objects are to be attended to by the legislator
of a barbarous people: First, That his system be such as is capable of
reducing the greatest number of men under one jurisdiction: Second, That it
apply to such principles in human nature for its support as are universal
and permanent, in order to insure the duration of the government: Third,
That it admit of improvements correspondent to any advancement in knowledge
or variation of circumstances that may happen to its subjects, without
endangering the principle of government by such innovations. So far as the
systems of such legislators agree with these fundamental principles; they
are worthy of respect; and so far as they deviate, they may be considered
To begin with Moses and Lycurgus: It is proper to observe that, in order to
judge of the merit of any institutions, we must take into view the peculiar
character of the people for whom they were framed. For want of this
attention, many of the laws of Moses and some of those of Lycurgus have
been ridiculed and censured. The Jews, when led by Moses out of Egypt, were
not only uncivilized, but having just risen to independence from a state
of servitude they united the manners of servants and savages; and their
national character was a compound of servility, ignorance, filthiness and
cruelty. Of their cruelty as a people we need no other proof than the
account of their avengers of blood, and the readiness with which the
whole congregation turned executioners, and stoned to death the devoted
offenders. The leprosy, a disease now scarcely known, was undoubtedly
produced by a want of cleanliness continued for successive generations.
In this view, their frequent ablutions, their peculiar modes of trial and
several other institutions, may be vindicated from ridicule and proved to
be wise regulations.
The Spartan lawgiver has been censured for the toleration of theft and
adultery. Among that race of barbarians these habits were too general to
admit of total prevention or universal punishment. By vesting all property
in the commonwealth, instead of encouraging theft, he removed the
possibility of the crime; and, in a nation where licentiousness was
generally indulged, it was a great step towards introducing a purity of
manners, to punish adultery in all cases wherein it was committed without
the consent of all parties interested in its consequences.
Until the institution of representative republics, which are of recent
date, it was found that those constitutions of government were best
calculated for immediate energy and duration, which were interwoven with
some religious system. The legislator who appears in the character of an
inspired person renders his political institutions sacred, and interests
the conscience as well as the judgment in their support. The Jewish
lawgiver had this advantage over the Spartan: he appeared not in the
character of a mere earthly governor, but as an interpreter of the divine
will. By enjoining a religious observance of certain rites he formed his
people to habitual obedience; by directing their cruelty against the
breakers of the laws he at least mitigated the rancor of private hatred; by
directing that real property should return to the original families in
the year of Jubilee he prevented too great an equality of wealth; and by
selecting a single tribe to be the interpreters of religion he prevented
its mysteries from being the subject of profane and vulgar investigation.
With a view of securing the permanence of his institutions, he prohibited
intercourse with foreigners by severe restrictions, and formed his people
to habits and a character disagreeable to other nations; so that any
foreign intercourse was prevented by the mutual hatred of both parties.
To these institutions the laws of Lycurgus bear a striking resemblance. The
features of his constitution were severe and forbidding; it was however
calculated to inspire the most enthusiastic love of liberty and martial
honor. In no country was the patriotic passion more energetic than in
Sparta; no laws ever excluded the idea of separate property in an equal
degree, or inspired a greater contempt for the manners of other nations.
The prohibition of money, commerce and almost every thing desirable to
effeminate nations, excluded foreigners from Sparta; and while it inspired
the people with contempt for strangers it made them agreeable to each
other. By these means Lycurgus rendered the nation warlike; and to insure
the duration of the government he endeavored to interest the consciences
of his people by the aid of oracles, and by the oath he is said to have
exacted from them to obey his laws till his return, when he went into
From this view of the Jewish and Spartan institutions, applied to
the principles before stated, they appear in the two first articles
considerably imperfect, and in the last totally defective. Neither of them
was calculated to bring any considerable territory or number of men under
one jurisdiction: from this circumstance alone they could not be rendered
permanent, as nations so restricted in their means of extension must be
constantly exposed to their more powerful neighbors. But the third object
of legislation, that of providing for the future progress of society, which
as it regards the happiness of mankind is the most important of the three,
was in both instances entirely neglected. These symptoms appear to have
been formed with an express design to prevent future improvement in
knowledge or enlargement of the human mind, and to fix those nations in
a state of ignorance and barbarism. To vindicate their authors from an
imputation of weakness or inattention in this particular, it may be urged
that they were each of them surrounded by nations more powerful than
their own; it was therefore perhaps impossible for them to commence an
establishment upon any other plan.
The institutions of Mahomet are next to be considered. The first object of
legislation appears to have been better understood by him than by either of
the preceding sages; his jurisdiction was capable of being enlarged to any
extent of territory, and governing any number of nations that might be
subjugated by his enthusiastic armies; and his system of religion was
admirably calculated to attain this object. Like Moses, he convinced his
people that he acted as the vicegerent of God; but with this advantage,
adapting his religion to the natural feelings and propensities of mankind,
he multiplied his followers by the allurements of pleasure and the promise
of a sensual paradise. These circumstances were likewise sure to render his
constitution durable. His religious system was so easy to be understood, so
splendid and so inviting, there could be no danger that the people would
lose sight of its principles, and no necessity of future prophets to
explain its doctrines or reform the nation. To these advantages if we add
the exact and rigid military discipline, the splendor and sacredness of the
monarch, and that total ignorance among the people which such a system
will produce and perpetuate, the establishment must have been evidently
calculated for a considerable extent and duration. But the last and
most important end of government, that of mental improvement and social
happiness, was deplorably lost in the institution. There was probably more
learning and cultivated genius in Arabia, in the days of this extraordinary
man, than can now be found in all the Mahometan dominions.
On the contrary, the enterprising mind of the Russian monarch appears to
have been wholly bent on the arts of civilization and the improvement of
society among his subjects. Established in a legal title to a throne which
already commanded a prodigious extent of country, he found the first object
of government already secured; and by applying himself with great sagacity
to the third object, that of improving his people, it was reasonable to
suppose that the second, the durability of his system, would become a
necessary consequence. He effected his purposes, important as they were,
merely by the introduction of the arts and the encouragement of politer
manners. The greatness of his character appears not so much in his
institutions, which he copied from other nations, as in the extraordinary
measures he followed to introduce them, the judgment he showed in selecting
and adapting them to the genius of his subjects, and the surprising
assiduity by which he raised a savage people to an elevated rank among
To the nature and operation of the several forms of government above
mentioned I will compare that of the Peruvian lawgiver. I have observed in
a preceding note that the knowledge we have of Manco Capac is necessarily
imperfect and obscure, derived thro traditions and family registers
(without the aid of writing) for four hundred years; from the time he is
supposed to have lived, till that of his historian and descendant, Inca
Garcilasso de la Vega. About an equal interval elapsed from the supposed
epoch of the first kings of Rome to that of their first historians; a
longer space from Lycurgus to Herodotus; probably not a shorter one from
the time of the great Cyrus to that of Xenophon, author of the elegant
romance on the actions of that hero.
I recal the reader's attention to these comparisons, not with a view of
contending that our accounts of the actions ascribed to Capac are derived
from authentic records, and that he is a subject of real history, like
Mahomet or Peter; but to show that, our channels of information with regard
to him being equally respectable with those that have brought us acquainted
with the classical and venerable names of Lycurgus, Romulus, Numa and
Cyrus, we may be as correct in our reasonings from the modern as from the
ancient source of reference, and fancy ourselves treading a ground as
sacred on the tomb of the western patriarch, as on those more frequented
and less scrutinized in the east, consecrated to the demigods of Sparta,
Rome and Persia.
It is probable that the savages of Peru before the time of Capac, among
other objects of adoration, paid homage to the sun. By availing himself
of this popular sentiment he appeared, like Moses and Mahomet, in the
character of a divine legislator endowed with supernatural powers. After
impressing these ideas on the minds of the people, drawing together a
number of the tribes and rendering them subservient to his benevolent
purposes, he applied himself to forming the outlines of a plan of policy
capable of founding and regulating an extensive empire, wisely calculated
for long duration, and well adapted to improve the knowledge, peace and
happiness of a considerable portion of mankind. In the allotment of the
lands as private property he invented a mode somewhat resembling the feudal
system of Europe: yet this system was checked in its operation by a law
similar to that of Moses which regulated landed possessions in the year of
Jubilee. He divided the lands into three parts; the first was consecrated
to the uses of religion, as it was from the sacerdotal part of his system
that he doubtless expected its most powerful support. The second portion
was set apart for the Inca and his family, to enable him to defray the
expenses of government and appear in the style of a monarch. The third and
largest portion was allotted to the people; which allotment was repeated
every year, and varied according to the number and exigences of each
As the Incan race appeared in the character of divinities, it seemed
necessary that a subordination of rank should be established, to render the
distinction between the monarch and his people more perceptible. With this
view he created a band of nobles, who were distinguished by personal and
hereditary honors. These were united to the monarch by the strongest ties
of interest; in peace they acted as judges and superintended the police of
the empire; in war they commanded in the armies. The next order of men were
the respectable landholders and cultivators, who composed the principal
strength of the nation. Below these was a class of men who were the
servants of the public and cultivated the public lands. They possessed
no property, and their security depended on their regular industry and
peaceable demeanor. Above all these orders were the Inca and his family. He
possessed absolute and uncontrolable power; his mandates were regarded as
the word of heaven, and the double guilt of impiety and rebellion attended
To impress the utmost veneration for the Incan family, it was a fundamental
principle that the royal blood should never be contaminated by any foreign
alliance. The mysteries of religion were preserved sacred by the high
priest of the royal family under the control of the king, and celebrated
with rites capable of making the deepest impression on the multitude.
The annual distribution of the lands, while it provided for the varying
circumstances of each family, was designed to strengthen the bands of
society by perpetuating that distinction of rank among the orders which is
supposed necessary to a monarchical government; the peasants could not vie
with their superiors, and the nobles could not be subjected by misfortune
to a subordinate station. A constant habit of industry was inculcated upon
all ranks by the force of example. The cultivation of the soil, which in
most other countries is considered as one of the lowest employments, was
here regarded as a divine art. Having had no knowledge of it before, and
being taught it by the children of their god, the people viewed it as a
sacred privilege, a national honor, to assist the sun in opening the bosom
of the earth to produce vegetation. That the government might be able to
exercise the endearing acts of beneficence, the produce of the public lands
was reserved in magazines, to supply the wants of the unfortunate and as a
resource in case of scarcity or invasion.
These are the outlines of a government the most simple and energetic, and
at least as capable as any monarchy within our knowledge of reducing
great and populous countries under one jurisdiction; at the same time,
accommodating its principle of action to every stage of improvement, by
a singular and happy application to the passions of the human mind, it
encouraged the advancement of knowledge without being endangered by
In the traits of character which distinguish this institution we may
discern all the great principles of each of the legislators above
mentioned. The pretensions of Capac to divine authority were as artfully
contrived and as effectual in their consequences as those of Mahomet; his
exploding the worship of evil beings and objects of terror, forbidding
human sacrifices and accommodating the rites of worship to a god of justice
and benevolence, produced a greater change in the national character of his
people than the laws of Moses did in his; like Peter he provided for the
future improvement of society, while his actions were never measured on the
contracted scale which limited the genius of Lycurgus.
Thus far we find that altho the political system of Capac did not embrace
that extensive scope of human nature which is necessary in forming
republican institutions, and which can be drawn only from long and well
recorded experience of the passions and tendencies of social man, yet
it must be pronounced at least equal to those of the most celebrated
monarchical law-givers, whether ancient or modern. But in some things his
mind seems to have attained an elevation with which few of theirs will bear
a comparison; I mean in his religious institutions, and the exalted ideas
he had formed of the agency and attributes of supernatural beings.
From what source he could have drawn these ideas it is difficult to form a
satisfactory conjecture. The worship of the sun is so natural to an early
state of society, in a mild climate with a clear atmosphere, that it may be
as reasonable to suppose it would originate in Peru as in Egypt or Persia;
where we find that a similar worship did originate and was wrought into
a splendid system; whence it was probably extended, with various
modifications, over most of the ancient world.
Or if we reject this theory, and suppose that only one nation, from some
circumstance peculiar to itself, could create the materials of such a
system, and has consequently had the privilege of giving its religion
to the human race; we may in this case imagine that the Phenicians (who
colonized Cadiz and other places in the west of Europe, at the time when
they possessed the solar worship in all its glory) must have had a vessel
driven across the Atlantic; and thus conveyed a stock of inhabitants, with
their own religious ideas, to the western continent.
The first theory is doubtless the most plausible. And the mild regions of
Peru, for the reasons mentioned in a former note, became, like Egypt, the
seat of an institution so congenial to its climate. But in more boisterous
climates, where storms and other violent agents prevail, many different
fables have wrought themselves into the system, as remarked in the same
note; and the solar religion in such countries has generally lost its name
and the more beneficent parts of its influence. Being thus corrupted,
religion in almost every part of the earth assumed a gloomy and sanguinary
Savage nations create their gods from such materials as they have at hand,
the most striking to their senses. And these are in general an assemblage
of destructive attributes. They usually form no idea of a general
superintending providence; they consider not their god as the author of
their beings, the creator of the world and the dispenser of the happiness
they enjoy; they discern him not in the usual course of nature, in the
sunshine and in the shower, the productions of the earth and the blessing
of society; they find a deity only in the storm, the earthquake and the
whirlwind, or ascribe to him the evils of pestilence and famine; they
consider him as interposing in wrath to change the course of nature and
exercise the attributes of rage and revenge. They adore him with rites
suited to these attributes, with horror, with penance and with sacrifice;
they imagine him pleased with the severity of their mortifications, with
the oblations of blood and the cries of human victims; and they hope
to compound for greater judgments by voluntary sufferings and horrid
sacrifices, suited to the relish of his taste.
Perhaps no single criterion can be given which will determine more
accurately the state of society in any age or nation than their general
ideas concerning the nature and attributes of deity. In the most
enlightened periods of antiquity, only a few of their philosophers, a
Socrates, Tully or Confucius, ever formed a rational idea on the subject,
or described a god of purity, justice and benevolence. But Capac, erecting
his institutions in a country where the visible agents of nature inspired
more satisfactory feelings, adopted a milder system. As the sun, with its
undisturbed influence, seemed to point itself out as the supreme controller
and vital principle of nature, he formed the idea, as the Egyptians had
done before, of constituting that luminary the chief object of adoration.
He taught the nation to consider the sun as the parent of the universe, the
god of order and regularity; ascribing to his influence the rotation of
the seasons, the productions of the earth and the blessings of health;
especially attributing to his inspiration the wisdom of their laws, and
that happy constitution which was the delight and veneration of the people.
A system so just and benevolent, as might be expected, was attended with
success. In about four centuries the dominion of the Incas had extended
fifteen hundred miles in length, and had introduced peace and prosperity
thro the whole region. The arts of society had been carried to a
considerable degree of improvement, and the authority of the Incan race
universally acknowledged, when an event happened which disturbed the
tranquillity of the empire. Huana Capac, the twelfth monarch, had reduced
the powerful kingdom of Quito and annexed it to his dominions. To
conciliate the affections of his new subjects, he married a daughter of the
ancient king of Quito, who was not of the race of Incas. Thus, by violating
a fundamental law of the empire, he left at his death a disputed succession
to the throne. Atabalipa, the son of Huana by the heiress of Quito, being
in possession of the principal force of the Peruvian armies, left at that
place on the death of his father, gave battle to his brother Huascar, who
was the elder son of Huana by a lawful wife, and legal heir to the crown.
After a long and destructive civil war the former was victorious; and thus
was that flourishing kingdom left a prey to regal dissensions and to the
few soldiers of Pizarro, who happened at that juncture to make a descent
upon the coast. In this manner he effected an easy conquest and an utter
destruction of a numerous, brave, unfortunate people.
It is however obvious that this deplorable event is not to be charged
on Capac, as the consequence of any defect in his institution. It is
impossible that an original legislator should effectually guard against the
folly of all future sovereigns. Capac had not only removed every temptation
that could induce a wise prince to wish for a change in the constitution,
but had connected the ruin of his authority with the change; for he who
disregards any part of institutions deemed sacred teaches his people to
consider the whole as an imposture. Had he made a law ordaining that the
Peruvians should be absolved from their allegiance to a prince who should
violate the laws, it would have implied possible error and imperfection in
those persons whom the people were ordered to regard as divinities; the
reverence due to characters who made such high pretensions would have been
weakened; and instead of rendering the constitution perfect, such a law
would have been its greatest defect. Besides, it is probable the rupture
might have been healed and the suecession settled, with as little
difficulty as frequently happens with partial revolutions in other
kingdoms, had not the descent of the Spaniards prevented it. And this
event, for that age and country, must have been beyond the possibility of
human foresight. But viewing the concurrence of these fatal accidents,
which reduced this flourishing empire to a level with many other ruined and
departed kingdoms, it only furnishes an additional proof that no political
system has yet had the privilege to be perfect.
On the whole it is evident that the system of Capac (if the Peruvian
constitution may be so called) is one of the greatest exertions of genius
to be found in the history of mankind. When, we consider him as an
individual emerging from the midst of a barbarous people, having seen no
example of the operation of laws in any country, originating a plan of
religion and policy never equalled by the sages of antiquity, civilizing an
extensive empire and rendering religion and government subservient to the
general happiness of a great people, there is no danger that we grow too
warm in his praise, or pronounce too high an eulogiurn on his character.
_Bade yon tall temple grace their favorite isle,
The mines unfold, the cultured valleys smile._
Book III. Line 5.
One of the great temples of the sun was built on an island in the lake
Titiaca near Cusco, to consecrate the spot of ground where Capac and Oella
first made their appearance and claimed divine honors as children of the
_His eldest hope, young Rocha, at his call,
Resigns his charge within the temple, wall;_
Book III. Line 29.
The high priest of the sun was always one of the royal family; and in every
generation after the first, was brother to the king. This office probably
began with Rocha; as he was the first who was capable of receiving it, and
as it was necessary, in the education of the prince, that he should be
initiated in the sacred mysteries.
_A pearl-dropt girdle bound his waist below,
And the white lautu graced his lofty brow._
Book III. Line 135.
The lautu was a cotton band, twisted and worn on the head of the Incas as a
badge of royalty. It made several turns round the head; and, according to
the description of Garcilasso, it must have resembled the Turkish turban.
It is possible that both the lautu and the turban had their remote origin
in the ancient astronomical religion, whose principal god was the sun and
usually represented under the figure of a man with the horns of the ram;
that is, the sun in the sign of aries. The form of the lautu and of the
turban (which I suppose to be the same) seems to indicate that they were
originally designed as emblems or badges; and when properly twisted and
wound round the head, as Turks of distinction usually wear the turban, they
resemble the horns of the ram as represented in those figures of Jupiter
Ammon where the horns curl close to the head.
There is an engraving in Garcilasso representing the first Inca and his
wife, Capac and Oella; and the heads of both are ornamented with rams'
horns projecting out from the lautu. Whether the figures of these
personages were usually so represented in Peru previous to the Spanish
devastation, would be difficult at this day to ascertain. If it could be
ascertained that they were usually so represented there, we might esteem
it a remarkable circumstance in proof of the unity of the origin of their
religion with that of the ancient Egyptians; from which all the early
theological systems of Asia and Europe, as far as they have come to our
knowledge, were evidently derived.
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