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the last half century, for 'ignorance, idolatry and slavery are to be abolished, and the 'great interests of humanity, morality and knowledge are to be promoted,' through his instrumentality! To "bankers and capitalists,' he promises additional employment for capital, and an increase of the value of their wealth ;' to 'manufacturers, new sources of consumption, and new articles of commercial return;' to ‘ship owners,' new regions, which shall be quite out of the reach of competition, because the superioriority of British skill and experience will secure to British ships by far the largest portion of the maritime conveyance;' to the ladies of England generally, farther improvement,' because “intercourse with a superior raze, will augment and reproduce good, until at length wives become the intellectual and honored companions, instead of being the degraded slaves of their husbands, and mothers become the cultivated instructors, instead of being the mere nurses of their children ;' to public literary institutions, and conductors of the press, stores of knowledge, increasing their power and importance! in short, civilization, which has been so long in abeyance, is to take up the line of march through all civilized and uncivilized places, under the control of 'a single directing mind,' of unquestionable capacity ;' the golden age is to return, and a new utopia to be established, and a work entitled, we suppose, “The Globe, Historical, Statistic and Descriptive," is to be published, for the honor of England, for the benefit of the world at large, and for the enrichment of the author, all whose losses will be then repaired, all whose feelings of indignant disappointment will then be assuaged, and all whose sufferings will then be compensated, by the final triumph of Virtue and Mind.'
We have neither time nor space to devote to a more elaborate analysis of Mr. Buckingham's work on America. In the course of his travels through the United States, he visited almost all our principal cities, and in a statistical' point of view, he has given, we acknowledge, a very fair account, predicated on facts, of the population of each, the number of their public buildings, schools, colleges, jails, penitentiaries and charitable institutions, with some very creditable remarks on their character and condition. In politics, he is liberal, being,—as far any Englishman can be, -an advocate of popular rights and an unrestricted com
merce. He has speculated on some topics of interest to the American citizen, and on some that are of little or no interest to any body; but his speculations are neither profound nor luminous; they add nothing to the stock of knowledge already attained, and are certainly not likely to enhance the claims of English literature. He puts forth, as a novelty, a theory maintained with great ability by Adair, nearly half a century ago, that the Indians of America are descendants of some of the lost tribes of Israel.' He has devoted three long, tedious and unnecessary chapters to a history of the Shakers, of whose moral character he entertains a much more exalted opinion, than Mr. Marryatt expressed in his Diary.' He differs also from that author, in approving of the voluntary system' adopted in this country, for the support of public worship, in preference to a Church Establishment, and expresses his conviction that it, upon the whole, works well. His views on the subject of an international copyright law, are, as we before remarked, just and liberal. He is, however, an inveterate enemy of our Southern policy and institutions, and his representations, in regard to them, are gross, unjust and mischievous. In conclusion, we cannot think Mr. Buckingham has done over much to build up a literary reputation in the work before us. He possesses respectable talents, considerable curiosity, and a disposition often to interfere in matters, where he can shed no light, and where his aid is not solicited, joined to an indomitable resolution to claim all the honor of introducing changes and improvements in the state of society which have been effected by others. His acquirements are miscellaneous, but superficial; he is more inclined to dogmatize than to reason, on all subjects; to assert boldly and groundlessly, than to inquire thoroughly and to ascertain facts; and the predominant characteristic of his mind, like that of many of his countrymen who have honored America with their visits, is self-conceit, an assumption of extraordinary merit and capacity, which is not justified by any thing he has actually accomplished for society, or for letters, and which, accordingly, may be supposed to rest on
very uncertain foundation.
ART. VIII.-Incidents of Travel in Central America,
Chiapas and Yucatan. By John L. STEPHENS. In 2 vols. 8vo. New-York: Harper and Brothers. 1841.
The volumes, whose title stands at the head of this article, are well deserving of an attentive perusal. They contain much information, interesting and curious, concerning a portion of our Continent little known. But they are, to us, chiefly valuable, for the plain and unpretending account, as well as for the elegant engravings of the ruins of the city of Copan which they contain. Our object, at present, is, simply to give the general reader some idea of the size, and magnificence of these ruins. The limits of our review are too narrow to permit an abstract of the voyage.
It may be said with propriety, that Mr. Stephens has discovered the city of Copan. For, until the publication of these volumes, the mass knew nothing of its existence. Huarros, the historian of Guatemala, who wrote in A. D. 1700, and Col. Galinda, an agent of the Central American Government, had previously given, to the lovers of antiquities, some taste of their immensity and richness. The former, however, merely repeated idle rumours, whilst the latter, from want of an artist, was unable to furnish copies of the ruins, without which, no correct idea can ever be formed of their appearance. That these ruins should so long continue almost unknown to the civilized world, is not to be considered wonderful, when it is remembered, that to the ignorant, unenterprizing and jealous dominion of Spain over this region, has succeeded the confusion and distress of civil strife. They are buried, too, in a wilderness, which has never been entirely explored, and which is situated in a remote and obscure portion of a State, offering few attractions to the traveller. Even the people of the neighboring country seem to have known of their existence only from rumor, and others, residing within a few miles, had never visited them.
After a fatiguing, but not uninteresting journey, which is described with great spirit and vraisemblance, Mr. Stephens and his friend and artist, Mr. Catherwood, reached the neighborhood of the ancient and deserted city of Copan.
The suspicions of the ignorant people around it, hindered him in the prosecution of his examination. These were finally removed, and to secure himself against further interruption, 'I,' (says Mr. Stephens,) 'paid fifty dollars for the city of Copan. The dense forest, so thick as almost to exclude the light of day, rendered the exploration a most difficult and painful task. To do it, perfectly, it would have been necessary to cut down the whole surrounding forest, and burn the trees. The travellers, therefore, resolved, , first to obtain drawings of the sculptured columns which there abound. And, in order to do this, the overhanging trees must be removed, and the ground cleared. Animated with the spirit of enthusiasts, and having fallen upon a new, and virgin bed of antiquarian novelty, they commenced their task with great ardor. The beauty of the sculpture, the solemn stillness of the woods, the desolation of the city, the mystery, that hung over the fate of its inhabitants, rendered their labors, intensely, painfully exciting. The living and the dead, the present and the past, were brought into touching contrast.
The City of Copan was situated on the left bank of a river, of the same name, in the midst of one of the most fertile valleys of Honduras. Its extent cannot now be discovered; but the immense size, the richness, and workmanship of the ruins, lead to the conclusion, that it was once large and populous. These ruins extend about two miles in length, from north to south, along the banks of the river, covered with huge trees, vines and moss, which tell the gazer, that, there, solitude has been undisturbed since the disappearance of their former masters. The principal ruin is the Temple. The river wall, formed of massy stones, alone remains, in a comparatively perfect state, being in height about ninety feet, and almost six hundred and twenty four feet in length. The other sides of the area of the temple seem to have been formed of ranges of steps, rising gradually, like a terrace. Standing or sitting upon these terraces, the citizens of Copan could witness the solemn services and ceremonies of their religion. Before them, in the midst of the area, stood the idols, and their appropriate altars,-the chosen priesthood,—the sacrifices, whose smoke ascended to heaven from this magnificent temple, whose only roof was "the most excellent canopy, the air,—the brave o'erhanging firmament,--the majestical roof, fretted with golden fire.” As in the Coliseum at Rome, thousands could easily have been accommodated in this magnificent theatre. The area contains the broken fragments of many stone idols, gigantic in their proportions. No attempt seems to have been made to sculpture accurately any part of the human frame, except the hands and face. Their limbs are but rudely delineated, and exhibit a striking similarity in their positions. The height of the idols varies from eleven to thirteen feet.
But the most perfect remains are now found at a short distance from the temple, within terraced walls, probably once connected with the main structure. These give to the ruins of Copan their distinctive character. Before each of them is an altar of stone, which, from the grooves in the top, are supposed to have been used for the sacrifice of animals, -perhaps of human beings. Upon some of these altars are apparently recorded important events,-perhaps an account of the history and character of the person represented by the idol,-being ornamented with human figures, seated crosslegged, in the oriental fashion, upon an hieroglyphic. The serpent, too, is one of the ornaments. These figures have breastplates, and one of the principal of them holds in his hand an instrument which may be considered a sceptre. The idol most admired by Mr. Stephens, he thus describes :
“ It is one of the most beautiful in Copan, and in its workmanship, is equal to the finest Egyptian sculpture. Indeed, it would be impossible, with the best instruments of modern times, to cut stones more perfectly. It stands at the foot of a wall of steps, with only the head and part of the breast rising above the earth. The rest is buried, and probably as perfect as the portion which is now visible. When we first discovered it, it was buried up to the eyes. Arrested by the beauty of the sculpture, and by its solemn and mournful position, we commenced excavating. As the ground was level up to that mark, the excavation was made by loosening the earth with the machete, and scooping it out with the hands. As we proceeded, the earth formed a wall around, and increased the labor. The Indians struck so carelessly with the machetes, that, afraid to let them work near the stone, we cleared it with our own hands. It was impossible, however, to continue; the earth was matted together by roots, which entwined and bound the monument. It required a complete throwing out of the earth, for ten or twelve feet around; and without any proper instruments, and, afraid of