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buildings a prodigious breadth of shadow, darkening the terraces on which they stood, and presenting a scene strange enough for a work of enchantment.
• The Casa del Enano is 68 feet long. The elevation on which it stands is built up solid from the plain, entirely artificial. Its form is not pyramidal, but oblong and rounding, being 240 feet long at the base, and 120 broad, and it is protected all around, to the very top, by a wall of square stones. Perhaps the high ruined structures at Palenque, which we have called pyramidal, and which were so ruined that we could not make them out exactly, were originally of the same shape. On the east side of the structure is a broad range of stone steps between eight and nine inches high, and so steep that great care is necessary in ascending and descending: of these we counted a hundred and one in their places. Nine were wanting at the top, and perhaps twenty were covered with rubbish at the bottom. At the summit of the steps is a stone platform four feet and a half wide, running along the rear of the building. There is no door in the centre, but at each end a door opens into an apartment eighteen feet long and nine wide, and between the two is a third apartment of the same width, and thirty-four feet long. The whole building is of stone; inside, the walls are of polished smoothness; outside, up to the height of the door, the stones are plain and square; above this line there is a rich cornice or moulding, and from this to the top of the building all the sides are covered with rich and elaborate sculptured ornaments, forming a sort of arabesque. The style and character of these ornaments were entirely different from those of any we had ever seen before, either in that country or any other: they bore no resemblance whatever to those of Copan or Palenque, and were quite as unique and peculiar. The designs were strange and incomprehensible, very elaborate, sometimes grotesque, but often simple, tasteful, and beautiful. Among the intelligible subjects are squares and diamonds, with busts of human beings, heads of leopards, and compositions of leaves and flowers, and the ornaments known everywhere as grecques. The ornaments, which succeed each other, are all different; the whole form an extraordinary mass of richness and complexity, and the effect is both grand and curious. And the construction of these ornaments is not less peculiar and striking than the general effect. There were no tablets or single stones, each representing separately and by itself an entire subject; but every ornament or combination is made up of separate stones, on each of which part of the subject was carved, and which was then set in its place in the wall. Each stone, by itself, was an unmeaning fractional part; but, placed by the side of others, helped to make a whole, which without it would be incomplete. Perhaps it may, with propriety, be called a species of sculptured mosaic.'— vol. ii. pp. 420-422.
The Casa del Gobernador is the grandest in position, the most stately in architecture and proportion, and the most perfect in preservation of all the structures remaining at Uxmal :
'It stands on three ranges of terraces, the lowest 600 feet long, and the united height of the three 35 feet; the whole of cut stone. The palace
itself measures 320 feet, and stands with all its walls erect, and almost as perfect as when deserted by its inhabitants. The whole building is of stone, plain up to the moulding that runs along the tops of the doorway, and above filled with the same rich, strange, and elaborate sculpture. There is no rudeness or barbarity in the design or proportions : on the contrary, the whole wears an air of architectural symmetry and grandeur; and as the stranger ascends the steps, and casts a bewildered eye along its open and desolate doors, it is hard to believe that he sees before him the work of a race in whose epitaph, as written by historians, they are called ignorant of art, and said to have perished in the rudeness of savage life. If it stood at this day on its grand artificial terrace in Hyde Park or the Garden of the Tuileries, it would form a new order, I do not say equalling, but not unworthy to stand side by side with the remains of Egyptian, Grecian, and Roman art.'—- vol. ii. pp. 429, 430.
One of the peculiarities of these ruins was in the lintels of the doorways; they had all been of wood, and most of them were still in their places. They were heavy beams eight or nine feet long; and on one, which had fallen from its place, was a line of characters carved or stamped, which, although almost obliterated, appeared similar to those of Copan and Palenque.
• There are,' says Mr. Stephens, ' at Uxmal no “idols," as at Copan; not a single stuccoed figure or carved tablet, as at Palenque. Except this beam of hieroglyphics, though searching earnestly, we did not discover any one absolute point of resemblance; and the wanton machete of an Indian may destroy the only link that can connect them together.' - vol. ii. p. 433.
Having concluded his account of these ruins, the last which he explored, Mr. Stephens devotes a separate chapter to the important questions, 'when and by whom were these cities built ?' He treats the subject ably; and the result to which he comes is, that there are no sufficient grounds for the belief in the great antiquity which has been ascribed to them. On the contrary, he is convinced that the whole of the buildings which he examined were constructed by the people who occupied the country at the time of the Spanish conquest, and probably even in the case of the oldest of them all, Quirigua, not very many centuries prior to that event. He founds this opinion, first, on the appearance of the ruins; and secondly, on historical accounts; and numerous passages which he gives from Herrera and Bernal Diaz de Castillo appear to us completely to establish the fact, that magnificent stone buildings-palaces and temples-exactly similar to those which he has described, were spread over the whole country at the time of the conquest.
In an early part of his work (vol. i. p. 97) the author adverts, but, as our reader has seen, with no severity of censure, to Dr.
Robertson's erroneous estimate of the progress which had been made in the arts of civilised life by the old inhabitants of America. • At that time,' he says, distrust was perhaps the safer side for the historian.' This excuse is scarcely sufficient. That Dr. Robertson was wise to receive with extreme caution the exaggerated boastings of the Spanish historians as to their adventures, their conquests, and their spoils, cannot be doubted; but it does seem marvellous to us that he could have studied, as we know he did, the contemporary historians, and not have had more correct ideas on the subject forced upon him. Diaz de Castillo's True History of the Conquest of Mexico,' were it the only book extant on the subject, would amply suffice to prove the extent, solidity, and magnificence of the buildings.
Now it will be recollected,” says Mr. Stephens, that Bernal Diaz wrote to do justice to himself and others of the “true conquerors,” his companions in arms, whose fame had been obscured by other historians, not actors and eyewitnesses; all his references to buildings are incidental; he never expected to be cited as authority upon the antiquities of the country. The pettiest skirmish with the natives was nearer his heart than all the edifices of lime and stone which he saw; and it is precisely on that account that his testimony is the more valuable.'— vol. ii. p. 452.
There is great weight in this argument: the case being one of those in which the value of what are termed “indirect evidences' becomes so apparent.
Mr. Stephens devotes only a few pages to his homeward journey. He and Mr. Catherwood embarked on board a Spanish brig at Sisal, with the intention of proceeding, in the first instance, to the Havannah; but they were soon becalmed. The sun was unendurably hot-the sea of a glassy stillness—provisions and water ran short-and the sharks which surrounded the vessel, and which at first they had looked at, and angled for, and eaten with complacency, became by degrees very disagreeable companions, so much did they appear as if waiting for their prey. For sixteen days this fearful stillness continued. The captain said that the vessel was enchanted; and the sailors, half in earnest, exclaimed that it was owing to the heretics. At length a breeze sprang up; but the captain, who had no chronometer on board, being too noble-minded a Spaniard ever to use one, had lost his reckoning, and believed that he was in the middle of the Gulf stream, and two or three hundred miles past his port. In this state of things it was to the unspeakable delight of the two travellers that an American brig hove in sight, took them on board, and landed them safely at New York on the 31st July, 1840, after an absence of ten months.
We We close this book with regret. From the first page to the last, the animation, the characteristic energy, and the buoyant spirit of the author remain undiminished. Our extracts might have been thrice trebled, and yet left the volumes rich in important and original matter. The political details, for instance, from which we have systematically abstained, would in themselves be sufficient to render the work one of high interest and permanent value.
We well know the extreme cuticular tenuity which characterises our Transatlantic brethren ; and that the occasional freedom of our remarks upon their literature, among other subjects, has placed us somewhat low in their good graces. We are not aware of having ever under-rated their merits : but certainly we have not been disposed, nor are we now, to mistake the promise of excellence which many branches of their literature display, for the achieved perfection to which they lay claim; nor, as we conceive, will their indignant complaints of ill-treatment tend to establish that claim. It will be much better sustained by their giving to the public a few more such volumes as these. Let our good friends of the New World send out half-a-dozen such travellers as Mr. Stephens, and we predict that the records of their wanderings, discoveries, and adventures will do more to elevate the literary character of America than the angry philippics of all the reviews and newspapers throughout the Union, backed though they be by an entire phalanx of servile echoers in England.
ART. III.—Biography and Poetical Remains of the late Miss
Margaret Miller Davidson. By Washington Irving. Phil.
adelphia, 1841. ABOUT twelve years ago we gave our readers an account of 1 Lucretia Davidson, an American girl, whose precocious genius and early death excited in us, and, as we afterwards found, in the public, a strong and painful interest. We have now to show another phenomenon of the same class, and that other is the sister of the former. We hardly know at first sight whether the recurrence in the same family of such a prodigy ought to increase or to diminish our wonder ; but at all events it is so remarkable, and the two cases are so closely connected, both in the facts they present and the feelings they excite, that some notice of the second seems an indispensable supplement to our article on the first-to which we request our readers to refer, for there is scarcely a line of it which, with the change of Margaret for Lucretia, would not be equally applicable to our present purpose : almost the only difference is, that Margaret died at the age of fifteen years and eight months—one year and three months less than that of her sister; Lucretia having been born in September 1808, and dying in August 1825—Margaret, born in March 1823, died in November 1838. The parents of these children and of several others, of whom nothing remarkable is told, were Dr. Oliver Davidson and Margaret (Miller) his wife, of whom litile more is related than that they seem to have been in more straitened circumstances * than the doctorial title would have led us to expect. We, indeed, wonder and a little complain that Mr. Washington Irving, in introducing this second prodigy, did not see that some additional curiosity would naturally be excited about the parents and the other children—not mere idle gossiping curiosity, but a rational desire to trace if possible the seeds of the precocity which he considers as so extraordinary-to know whether either of the parents had shown any similar dispositions, and, above all, whether such a disposition in them might not have tutored the infant minds of the girls into premature activity. We are told that though Lucretia died when Margaret was only two and a half years old, her example-inculcated by the tender recollection and admiration of the rest of the family-had a great influence on the younger sister; but, as we stated in the former article, the genius of the elder seems, if there be no exaggeration in the statement, to have acted not merely spontaneously but secretly, and as if she rather dreaded reprehension than hoped for approbation.
Margaret was born on the 26th March, 1823, ‘at the family residence on Lake Champlain, in the village of Plattsburg'-so says Mr. Irving, meaning, we presume, that she was born in her parents' residence in the village of Plattsburg, on the shores of Lake Champlain. We notice this phrase in limine, because we regret to find throughout his share of the volume, that the style of Mr. Washington Irving, which we always admired and have often praised for its ease and simplicity, seems to have taken, perhaps
* The biographies hint that the circumstances of the family were such that Lucretia was necessarily diverted from her literary pursuits by household cares. Our republican friends on the other side of the Atlantic are very shy of such homely details, and Mr. Irving does not violate the ethereal diguity of poor Margaret by even an allusion of that kind, but it is doing injustice to her fame to omit so remarkable a clog on her intellectual progress as she herself indicates.
• Come! and behold how I improve
H p . 121.