« AnteriorContinuar »
are highly creditable to his powers of discrimination. He does not profess to have derived any portion of his facts from personal observation. He does not offer any part of them as new, or as not before extant in printed works. But he appears to have had the best means of access to existing sources ; and has manifestly gleaned over a very wide field.
The plan of his work led him to direct his attention, in the first place, to the character of the mounds, buildings, and artificial remains, in both divisions of the continent; to which he subjoins an inquiry into the origin of the race, whom he denominates emphatically the red race. The first part is chiefly descriptive; the second, inferential. He not only draws proofs from the character of former or still existing architectural ruins; but he examines history, ancient and modern; he goes to the original seats of the human race, their migrations, traditions, early maritime knowledge; the thirst of gain or glory, which carried their descendants over the globe ; their languages, their astronomy, and their religion. He devotes a careful and comprehensive attention to the physiognomy and physiology of the various tribes scattered over the continent from Cape Horn to the Arctic ocean, and from Cape Cod to the mouth of the Columbia, and he comes to his conclusions fraught with the products of investigation, and guided by the lights of induction.
In this respect, no two works, bearing on one subject, could possibly be brought together, differing more widely in their character, than those which have prompted these remarks. Both authors have rendered a service to the reading public, but rendered it in distinct departments ; and have excited an interest chiefly in two separate classes. Sketches, and rambles, and pictures will please the one ; facts, reasons, and conclusions will delight the other. In one, the present predominates, in the other, the past ; and while in the “ Letters and Notes” we derive our enjoyment through the external organs, in the
Antiquities and Researches,” the chief pleasure of the repast arises from intellectual stimulants.
It would afford us pleasure, did circumstances permit, to examine at some length the course of proof, on which Mr. Bradford's principal conclusions are grounded, and to submit passages from the work, which have attracted our attention. We also designed to take up the subject of the Western mounds, with the view of not only submitting our opin
ions on the subject of their origin, and their separate and distinct characters, — tracing them to corresponding eras, but with the ulterior intention of showing how large a number of these noted objects of theory and description, are wholly natural or geological, and never had a shovel-full of earth put upon them by man. Such we may say, in brief, is the great mound of St. Louis, the Blue mound of Wisconsin, Mount Joliet of Illinois, and very many other and lesser mounds, which still hold their places in the catalogue of artificial structures. It is admitted, that some of these were used by the natives for mound purposes, either from their commanding position, or the almost artificial symmetry of their forms, as in the instance of Mount Joliet. But this only proves the sagacity of the red race, who thereby avoided a most onerous labor. The first visitors and explorers of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, finding indubitable proofs in the mounds and circumvallations on the alluvial plains, that the country had before been inhabited and abandoned, gave a loose to their imaginations, and converted every conical hill into a mound, and every square-faced one into
Subsequent and recent examinations have however shown, that there is a class of the reputed mounds which are wholly of a diluvial character, — consisting of regular layers of sand and clay and loam and gravel, interspersed with sandstone and granite boulders, like the adjacent plains.
our design, we repeat, to introduce some observations on this subject, in connexion with the descriptions of Mr. Bradford. But we are compelled to omit them at pres
The topic, we believe, is invested with a revived interest, on both sides of the Atlantic, and may be hereafter resumed. If “that which makes the past and future predominate over the present, exalts us in the scale of thinking beings,” we cannot better, than in this way, perform a part of our duty to the public; and it is in this higher sense, we conceive, that
“ The proper study of mankind is man. The term “Red Race,” chosen by Mr. Bradford as the subject of his researches, reveals at once the leading idea of his theory. He deems the entire race of red hunters who cover the continent, to be a homogeneous and primitive stock of the human family, not derivable, or derived, from any one
existing nation or people, now known by name to Europe, Asia, or Africa. He characterizes this race by the generic color of the skin, eyes, and hair, — the same, with slight variations, in every tribe ; by a general agreement in sta ure and physiognomy; by manners, customs, and a religion essentially the same ; and by languages constructed on similar grammatical principles. The state of arts, however different in different tribes and latitudes, is not a bar to the general theory ; for much of this difference may be owing to climate, natural productions, or other inerely extrinsic causes.
Asia and Polynesia appear to him to have been the original seats of this race, immediately prior to their emigration to this continent. And the population may have been originally introduced at various eras, by various means,
and from separate parts of the designated region. It is not improbable, indeed, that the more favored regions of the Mediterranean, such as ancient Etruria, confessedly inhabited by a redskinned people, may have contributed to the ancient American population. Such a theory lays a broader basis to build on, and accounts for a number of the phenomena in our aboriginal history and antiquities, not susceptible, as far as yet appears, of a satisfactory solution on other grounds. We had the pleasure, some few years ago, of bringing to the notice of our readers, a work * expressing similar views, in some essential particulars; and felt convinced at the time, that the acumen and comprehensive spirit with which the topic was handled must secure for it the respect of all future inquirers.
Mr. Bradford has employed the subject of American antiquities, in the same manner, and to the same general effect, that philology was wielded in that learned performance. He has broken the shackles, which have bound the hands of so many previous inquirers (and indeed himself at a former time is among the number), namely, the great stress laid on a special emigration across Behring's Strait. He has divested the subject of a good deal of the needless mystery surrounding it. Taking common sense and plain reason as a guide, and relying on original sources of thought, he has prepared a very intelligible and valuable treatise on one of the most abstruse topics of American history. We cannot
Archæologia Americana, Vol. II. — See North American Review, Vol. XLV. pp. 34 et seq.
aver our acquiescence in all its details and all its positions. Some of his conclusions are too rigidly drawn. We believe there is a chain of evidence to arise from these same mounds and tombs, which is yet to tell us, in sounds and words, something more certain with respect to the tale of the early connexion between the races of the old and new world. But, so far as the information is before the public, this work brings down an epitome of its history to the close of 1841. And it is a work from the perusal of which no one, who appreciates the subject, can arise without being either gratified or instructed.
ART. III. Collections of the New York Historical Soci
ety. Second Series. Volume I. New York. 8vo.
In no department of literature has a greater revolution taken place in the course of a few years, than in that to which this volume is a contribution. The new taste which has grown up should be fostered and encouraged, as tending to give us a national character ; as meliorating the feelings of the community, warming their affections for the great and glorious deeds of their progenitors, and prompting to an imitation of their virtues, sacrifices, and devotion to the public weal. And it would seem, that, if “ history may be regarded as the record of a series of experiments eliciting the social nature of man, accounts of the formation of our early settlements, and of the growth of this iinmense Empire of the West from the mere handful of adventurers who formed its beginning, must be of much greater value, than histories of those conquerors of nations, whose only glory was in the destruction of works of human art, and in drenching the earth with the blood of its inhabitants.
The encouragement of such historical studies has been regarded as in itself an evidence of the advance of a people in civilized life. “Here,” says Southey, in his “ History of Brazil,” when speaking of one of the Captaincies,
66 Here the first sugar-canes were planted, and here the first cattle were reared, and here the other Captaincies stocked themselves with both. Whether the honor of having introduced
them into Brazil be due to the founder of the colony, is not stated. A battle or massacre would have been recorded. He who thus benefits mankind in a savage age, is deified ; in an enlightened one, he receives his due tribute of praise ; but in all the intermediate stages of barbarity and semi-barbarity, all such actions are overlooked.”
The work before us, is the first volume in a new series of the Collections of the New York Historical Society ; and is almost exclusively taken up with the annals of the Dutch Colonists, " by whom the arts of civilization were originally planted on the banks of the Hudson."* It is true, that Chancellor Kent, in his “Anniversary Discourse," delivered before that Society in 1828, and which is included in this volume, describes the Dutch Colonial Annals as being of “a tame and pacific character, and generally dry and uninteresting.” This was undoubtedly the case with most of those which were then known to the public, and of those only the worthy Chancellor was speaking ; but we think that any person who will faithfully examine the work now under consideration, will arrive at the conclusion, that, however“ pacific" may be their general character, they are far from being uninteresting.
The gentleman, by whom this volume is understood to have been prepared, t has discharged this duty faithfully. A more valuable collection of early historical documents has not been published at any time in this country; and, if its sale is in proportion to the merits of the production, the Society will have no reason to complain of having embarked in the expense of its publication.
As a frontispiece, we have a map of the New Netherlands, with a view of New Amsterdam (now New York), as it appeared in A. D. 1656. It is copied from the map of Vander Donck, and it appears from examination to be the same as the map drawn and published by Nicholas John Visscher, at Amsterdam, in 1659, — which latter is, however, upon a much larger scale. A small edition of Visscher's map has been republished in New York within the last seven or eight years. It is a great curiosity, and enables us to form some judgment of the strange ideas entertained by the early Dutch settlers in regard to the land in which their
* See Chancellor Kent's Anniversary Discourse, 1828. † George Folsom, Esquire, of New York.