HotFreeBooks.com
Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel
by Ignatius Donnelly
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Who can doubt the oneness of the human race, when millions of threads of tradition and language thus cross each other through it in all directions, like the web of a mighty fabric?

We cross from one continent to another, from the torrid part of South America to the frozen regions of North America, and the same legend meets us.

[1. Brinton's "Myths of the New World," p. 227.]

{p. 177}

The Tacullies of British Columbia believe that the earth was formed by a musk-rat, who, diving into the universal sea, brought up the land in his mouth and spit it out, until he had formed "quite an island, and, by degrees, the whole earth":

"In some unexplained way, this earth became afterward peopled in every part, and it remained, until a fierce fire, of several days' duration, swept over it, destroying all life, with two exceptions; one man and one woman hid themselves in a deep cave in the heart of a mountain, and from these two has the world since been repeopled."[1]

Brief as is this narrative, it preserves the natural sequence of events: First, the world is made; then it becomes peopled in every part; then a fierce fire sweeps over it for several days, consuming all life, except two persons, who save themselves by hiding in a deep cave; and from these the world is repeopled. How wonderfully does all this resemble the Scandinavian story!

It has oftentimes been urged, by the skeptical, when legends of Noah's flood were found among rude races, that they had been derived from Christian missionaries. But these myths can not be accounted for in this way; for the missionaries did not teach that the world was once destroyed by fire, and that a remnant of mankind escaped by taking refuge in a cave; although, as we shall see, such a legend really appears in several places hidden in the leaves of the Bible itself.

We leave the remote north and pass down the Pacific coast until we encounter the Ute Indians of California and Utah. This is their legend:

"The Ute philosopher declares the sun to be a living personage, and explains his passage across the heavens along an appointed way by giving an account of a fierce

[1. Bancroft's "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 98]

{p. 178}

personal conflict between Ta-vi, the sun-god, and Ta-wats, one of the supreme gods of his mythology.

"In that, long ago, the time to which all mythology refers, the sun roamed the earth at will. When he came too near with his fierce heat the people were scorched, and when he hid away in his cave for a long time, too idle to come forth, the night was long and the earth cold. Once upon a time Ta-wats, the hare-god, was sitting with his family by the camp-fire in the solemn woods, anxiously waiting for the return of Ta-vi, the wayward sun-god. Wearied with long watching, the hare-god fell asleep, and the sun-god came so near that he scorched the naked shoulder of Ta-wats. Foreseeing the vengeance which would be thus provoked, he fled back to his cave beneath the earth. Ta-wats awoke in great anger, and speedily determined to go and fight the sun-god. After a long journey of many adventures the hare-god came to the brink of the earth, and there watched long and patiently, till at last the sun-god coming out he shot an arrow at his face, but the fierce heat consumed the arrow ere it had finished its intended course; then another arrow was sped, but that also was consumed; and another, and still another, till only one remained in his quiver, but this was the magical arrow that had never failed its mark. Ta-wats, holding it in his hand, lifted the barb to his eye and baptized it in a divine tear; then the arrow was sped and struck the sun-god full in the face, and the sun was shivered into a thousand fragments, which fell to the earth, causing a general conflagration. Then Ta-wats, the hare-god, fled before the destruction he had wrought, and as he fled the burning earth consumed his feet, consumed his legs, consumed his body, consumed his bands and his arms—all were consumed but the head alone, which bowled across valleys and over mountains, fleeing destruction from the burning earth, until at last, swollen with heat, the eyes of the god burst and the tears gushed forth in a flood which spread over the earth and extinguished the fire. The sun-god was now conquered, and he appeared before a council of the gods to await sentence. In that long council were established the days and the nights, the seasons and the years, with the length

{p. 179}

thereof, and the sun was condemned to travel across the firmament by the same trail day after day till the end of time."[1]

Here we have the succession of arrows, or comets, found in the legend of the Aztecs, and here as before it is the last arrow that destroys the sun. And here, again, we have the conflagration, the fragments of something falling on the earth, the long absence of the sun, the great rains and the cold.

Let us shift the scene again.

In Peru—that ancient land of mysterious civilization, that brother of Egypt and Babylon, looking out through the twilight of time upon the silent waters of the Pacific, waiting in its isolation for the world once more to come to it-in this strange land we find the following legend:

"Ere sun and moon was made, Viracocha, the White One, rose from the bosom of Lake Titicaca, and presided over the erection of those wondrous cities whose ruins still dot its islands and western shores, and whose history is totally lost in the night of time."[2]

He constructed the sun and moon and created the inhabitants of the earth. These latter attacked him with murderous intent (the comet assailed the sun?); but "scorning such unequal contest he manifested his power by hurling the lightning on the hill-sides and consuming the forests," whereupon the creatures he had created humbled themselves before him. One of Viracocha names was At-achuchu. He civilized the Peruvians, taught them arts and agriculture and religion; they called him "The teacher of all things." He came from the east and disappeared in the Western Ocean. Four civilizers followed him who emerged from the cave

[1. "Popular Science Monthly," October, 1879, p, 799.

2. Brinton's; "Myths of the New World," p. 192.]

{p. 180}

Pacarin Tampu, the House of Birth.[1] These four brothers were also called Viracochas, white men.

Here we have the White One coming from the east, hurling his lightning upon the earth and causing a conflagration; and afterward civilized men emerged from a cave. They were white men; and it is to these cave-born men that Peru owed its first civilization.

Here is another and a more amplified version of the Peruvian legend:

The Peruvians believed in a god called At-achuchu, already referred to, the creator of heaven and earth, and the maker of all things. From him came the first man, Guamansuri.

This first mortal is mixed up with events that seem to refer to the Age of Fire.

He descended to the earth, and "there seduced the sister of certain Guachemines, rayless ones, or Darklings"; that is to say, certain Powers of Darkness, "who then possessed it. For this crime they destroyed him." That is to say, the Powers of Darkness destroyed the light. But not for ever.

"Their sister proved pregnant, and died in her labor, giving birth to two eggs," the sun and moon. "From these emerged the two brothers, Apocatequil and Piguerao."

Then followed the same great battle, to which we have so many references in the legends, and which always ends, as in the case of Cain and Abel, in one brother slaughtering the other. In this case, Apocatequil "was the more powerful. By touching the corpse of his mother (the sun?) he brought her to life, he drove off and slew the Guachemines (the Powers of Darkness), and, directed by

[1. Brinton's "Myths of the New World," p. 193.]

{p. 181}

At-achuchu, released the race of Indians from the soil by turning it up with a golden spade."

That is to say, he dug them out from the cave in which they were buried.

"For this reason they adored him as their maker. He it was, they thought, who produced the thunder and the lightning by hurling stones with his sling; and the thunder-bolts that fall, said they, are his children. Few villages were willing to be without one or more of these. They were in appearance small, round, smooth stones, but had the admirable properties of securing fertility to the fields, protecting from lightning," etc.[1]

I shift the scene again; or, rather, group together the legends of three different localities. I quote:

"The Takahlis" (the Tacullies already referred to) "of the North Pacific coast, the Yurucares of the Bolivian Cordilleras, and the Mbocobi of Paraguay, each and all attribute the destruction of the world to a general conflagration, which swept over the earth, consuming everything living except a few who took refuge in a deep cave."[2]

The Botocudos of Brazil believed that the world was once destroyed by the moon falling upon it.

Let us shift the scene again northward:

There was once, according to the Ojibway legends, a boy; the sun burned and spoiled his bird-skin coat; and he swore that he would have vengeance. He persuaded his sister to make him a noose of her own hair. He fixed it just where the sun would strike the land as it rose above the earth's disk; and, sure enough, he caught the sun, and held it fast, so that it did not rise.

"The animals who ruled the earth were immediately put into great commotion. They had no light. They called a council to debate upon the matter, and to appoint

[1. Brinton's "Myths of the New World," p. 165.

2. Ibid., p. 217.]

{p. 182}

some one to go and cut the cord, for this was a very hazardous enterprise, as the rays of the sun would burn up whoever came so near. At last the dormouse undertook it, for at this time the dormouse was the largest animal in the world" (the mastodon?); "when it stood up it looked like a mountain. When it got to the place where the sun was snared, its back began to smoke and burn with the intensity of the heat, and the top of its carcass was reduced to enormous heaps of ashes. It succeeded, however, in cutting the cord with its teeth and freeing the sun, but it was reduced to very small size, and has remained so ever since."

This seems to be a reminiscence of the destruction of the great mammalia.[1] The "enormous heaps of ashes" may represent the vast deposits of clay-dust.

Among the Wyandots a story was told, in the seventeenth century, of a boy whose father was killed and eaten by a bear, and his mother by the Great Hare. He was small, but of prodigious strength. He climbed a tree, like Jack of the Bean-Stalk, until he reached heaven.

"He set his snares for game, but when he got up at night to look at them he found everything on fire. His sister told him he had caught the sun unawares, and when the boy, Chakabech, went to see, so it was. But he dared not go near enough to let him out. But by chance he found a little mouse, and blew upon her until she grew so big" (again the mastodon) "that she could set the sun free, and he went on his way. But while he was held in the snare, day failed down here on earth."

It was the age of darkness[2]

The Dog-Rib Indians, far in the northwest of America, near the Esquimaux, have a similar story: Chakabech becomes Chapewee. He too climbs a tree, but it is in pursuit

[1. Tylor's "Early History of Mankind," p. 848.

2. Le Jeune (1637), in "Rlations des Jesuits dans la Nouvelle France," vol. i, p. 54.]

{p. 183}

of a squirrel, until he reaches heaven. He set a snare made of his sister's hair and caught the sun. "The sky was instantly darkened. Chapewee's family said to him, 'You must have done something wrong when you were aloft, for we no longer enjoy the light of day.' 'I have,' replied he, 'but it was unintentionally.' Chapewee sent a number of animals to cut the snare, but the intense heat reduced them all to ashes." At last the ground-mole working in the earth cut the snare but lost its sight, "and its nose and teeth have ever since been brown as if burnt."[1]

The natives of Siberia represented the mastodon as a great mole burrowing in the earth and casting up ridges of earth—the sight of the sun killed him.

These sun-catching legends date back to a time when the races of the earth had not yet separated. Hence we find the same story, in almost the same words, in Polynesia and America.

Maui is the Polynesian god of the ancient days. He concluded, as did Ta-wats, that the days were too short. He wanted the sun to slow-up, but it would not. So he proceeded to catch it in a noose like the Ojibway boy and the Wyandot youth. The manufacture of the noose, we are told, led to the discovery of the art of rope-making. He took his brothers with him; he armed himself, like Samson, with a jaw-bone, but instead of the jaw-bone of an ass, he, with much better taste, selected the jawbone of his mistress. She may have been a lady of fine conversational powers. They traveled far, like Ta-wats, even to the very edge of the place where the sun rises. There he set his noose. The sun came and put his head and fore-paws into it; then the brothers pulled the ropes

[1. Richardson's "Narrative of Franklin's Second Expedition," p. 291.]

{p. 184}

tight and Maui gave him a great whipping with the jawbone; he screamed and roared; they held him there for a long time, (the Age of Darkness,) and at last they let him go; and weak from his wounds, (obscured by clouds,) he crawls slowly along his path. Here the jaw of the wolf Fenris, which reached from earth to heaven, in the Scandinavian legends, becomes a veritable jaw-bone which beats and ruins the sun.

It is a curious fact that the sun in this Polynesian legend is Ra, precisely the same as the name of the god of the sun in Egypt, while in Hindostan the sun-god is Ra-ma.

In another Polynesian legend we read of a character who was satisfied with nothing, "even pudding would not content him," and this unconscionable fellow worried his family out of all heart with his new ways and ideas. He represents a progressive, inventive race. He was building a great house, but the days were too short; so, like Maui, he determined to catch the sun in nets and ropes; but the sun went on. At last he succeeded; he caught him. The good man then had time to finish his house, but the sun cried and cried "until the island of Savai was nearly drowned."[1]

And these myths of the sun being tied by a cord are, strange to say, found even in Europe. The legends tell us:

"In North Germany the townsmen of Bsum sit up in their church-tower and hold the sun by a cable all day long; taking care of it at night, and letting it up again in the morning. In 'Reynard the Fox,' the day is bound with a rope, and its bonds only allow it to come slowly on. The Peruvian Inca said the sun is like a tied beast, who goes ever round and round, in the same track."[2]

That is to say, they recognized that he is not a god, but the servant of God.

[1. Tyler's "Early Mankind," p. 347.

2. Ibid., p. 352.]

{p. 185}

Verily the bands that knit the races of the earth together are wonderful indeed, and they radiate, as I shall try to show, from one spot of the earth's surface, alike to Polynesia, Europe, and America.

Let us change the scene again to the neighborhood of the Aztecs:

We are told of two youths, the ancestors of the Miztec chiefs, who separated, each going his own way to conquer lands for himself:

"The braver of the two, coming to the vicinity of Tilantongo, armed with buckler and bow, was much vexed and oppressed by the ardent rays of the sun, which he took to be the lord of that district, striving to prevent his entrance therein. Then the young man strung his bow, and advanced his buckler before him, and drew shafts from his quiver. He shot these against the great light even till the going down of the same; then he took possession of all that land, seeing that he had grievously wounded the sun and forced him to hide behind the mountains. Upon this story is founded the lordship of all the caciques of Mizteca, and upon their descent from this mighty archer, their ancestor. Even to this day, the chiefs of the Miztecs blazon as their arms a plumed chief with bow and arrows and shield, and the sun in front of him setting behind gray clouds."[1]

Are these two young men, one of whom attacks and injures the sun, the two wolves of the Gothic legends, the two comets, who devoured the sun and moon? And did the Miztec barbarians, in their vanity, claim descent from these monstrous creatures of the sky? Why not, when the historical heroes of antiquity traced their pedigree back to the gods; and the rulers of Peru, Egypt, and China pretended to be the lineal offspring of the sun? And there are not wanting those, even in Europe, who

[1. Bancroft's "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 73.]

{p. 186}

yet believe that the blood-royal differs in some of its constituents from the blood of the common people

"What, will the aspiring blood of Lancaster Sink in the ground? "

In the Aztec legends there were four ages, or suns, as they were termed. The first terminated, according to Gama, in a destruction of the people of the world by hunger; the second ended in a destruction by winds; in the third, the human race was swept away by fire, and the fourth destruction was by water. And in the Hindoo legends we find the same series of great cycles, or ages: one of the Shastas teaches that the human race has been destroyed four times—first by water, secondly by winds, thirdly the earth swallowed them, and lastly fire consumed them.[1]

I come now to a most extraordinary record:

In the prayer of the Aztecs to the great god Tezcatlipoca, "the supreme, invisible god," a prayer offered up in time of pestilence, we have the most remarkable references to the destruction of the people by stones and fire. It would almost seem as if this great prayer, noble and sublime in its language, was first poured out in the very midst of the Age of Fire, wrung from the human heart by the most appalling calamity that ever overtook the race; and that it was transmitted from age to age, as the hymns of the Vedas and the prayers of the Hebrews have been preserved, for thousands of years, down to our own times, when it was carefully transcribed by a missionary priest. It is as follows:

"O mighty Lord, under whose wing we find defense and shelter, thou art invisible and impalpable, even as night and the air. How can I, that am so mean and worthless, dare to appear before thy majesty? Stuttering

[1. Brinton's "Myths of the New World," p. 232.]

{p. 187}

and with rude lips I speak, ungainly is the manner of my speech as one leaping among furrows, as one advancing unevenly; for all this I fear to raise thine anger, and to provoke instead of appeasing thee; nevertheless, thou wilt do unto me as may please thee. O Lord, thou hast held it good to forsake us in these days, according to the counsel that thou hast as well in heaven as in hades,—alas for us, in that thine anger and indignation has descended upon us in these days; alas in that the many and grievous afflictions of thy wrath have overgone, and swallowed us up, coming down even as stones, spears, and arrows upon the wretches that inhabit the earth!—this is the sore pestilence with which we are afflicted and almost destroyed. O valiant and all-powerful Lord, the common people are almost made an end of and destroyed; a great destruction the ruin and pestilence already make in this nation; and, what is most pitiful of all, the little children, that are innocent and understand nothing, only to play with pebbles and to heap up little mounds of earth, they too die, broken and dashed to pieces as against stones and a wall—a thing very pitiful and grievous to be seen, for there remain of them not even those in the cradles, nor those that could not walk or speak. Ah, Lord, how all things become confounded! of young and old and of men and women there remains neither branch nor root; thy nation, and thy people, and thy wealth, are leveled down and destroyed.

"O our Lord, protector of all, most valiant and most kind, what is this?

"Thine anger and thine indignation, does it glory or delight in hurling the stone, and arrow, and spear? The FIRE of the pestilence, made exceeding hot, is upon thy nation, as a fire in a hut, burning and smoking, leaving nothing upright or sound. The grinders of thy teeth," (the falling stones), "are employed, and thy bitter whips upon the miserable of thy people, who have become lean, and of little substance, even as a hollow green cane.

Yea, what doest thou now, O Lord, most strong, compassionate, invisible, and impalpable, whose will all things obey, upon whose disposal depends the rule of the world, to whom all are subject,—what in thy divine breast

{p. 188}

hast thou decreed? Peradventure, hast thou altogether forsaken thy nation and thy people? Hast thou verily determined that it utterly perish, and that there be no more memory of it in the world, that the peopled place become a wooded hill, and A WILDERNESS OF STONES? Peradventure, wilt thou permit that the temples, and the places of prayer, and the altars, built for thy service, be razed and destroyed, and no memory of them left?

"Is it, indeed, possible that thy wrath and punishment and vexed indignation are altogether implacable, and will go on to the end to our destruction? Is it already fixed in thy divine counsel that there is to be no mercy nor pity for us, until the arrows of thy fury are spent to our utter perdition and destruction? Is it possible that this lash and chastisement is not given for our correction and amendment, but only for our total destruction and obliteration; that THE SUN SHALL NEVER MORE SHINE UPON US, but that we must remain in PERPETUAL DARKNESS and silence; that never more wilt thou look upon us with eyes of mercy, neither little nor much?

"Wilt thou after this fashion destroy the wretched sick that can not find rest, nor turn from side to side, whose mouth and teeth are filled with earth and scurf? It is a sore thing to tell how we are all in darkness, having none understanding nor sense to watch for or aid one another. We are all as drunken, and without understanding: without hope of any aid, already the little children perish of hunger, for there is none to give them food, nor drink, nor consolation, nor caress; none to give the breast to them that suck, for their fathers and mothers have died and left them orphans, suffering for the sins of their fathers."

What a graphic picture is all this of the remnant of a civilized religious race hiding in some deep cavern, in darkness, their friends slaughtered by the million by the falling stones, coming like arrows and spears, and the pestilence of poisonous gases; their food-supplies scanty; they themselves horrified, awe-struck, despairing, fearing that they would never again see the light; that this dreadful day was the end of the human race

{p. 189}

and of the world itself! And one of them, perhaps a priest, certainly a great man, wrought up to eloquence, through the darkness and the terror, puts up this pitiful and pathetic cry to the supreme God for mercy, for protection, for deliverance from the awful visitation.

How wonderful to think that the priesthood of the Aztecs have through ages preserved to us, down to this day, this cavern-hymn—one of the most ancient of the utterances of the heart of man extant on the earth—and have preserved it long after the real meaning of its words was lost to them!

The prayer continues

"O our Lord, all-powerful, full of mercy, our refuge, though indeed thine anger and indignation, thine arrows and stones, have sorely hurt this poor people, let it be as a father or a mother that rebukes children, pulling their ears, pinching their arms, whipping them with nettles, pouring chill water upon them, all being done that they may amend their puerility and childishness. Thy chastisement and indignation have lorded and prevailed over these thy servants, over this poor people, even as rain falling upon the trees and the green canes, being touched of the wind, drops also upon those that are below.

"O most compassionate Lord, thou knowest that the common folk are as children, that being whipped they cry and sob and repent of what they have done. Peradventure, already these poor people by reason of their chastisement weep, sigh, blame, and murmur against themselves; in thy presence they blame and bear witness against their bad deeds, and punish themselves therefor. Our Lord, most compassionate, pitiful, noble, and precious, let a time be given the people to repent; let the past chastisement suffice; let it end here, to begin again if the reform endure not. Pardon and overlook the sins of the people; cause thine anger and thy resentment to cease; repress it again within thy breast that it destroy no further; let it rest there; let it cease, for of a surety none can avoid death nor escape to anyplace."

{p. 190}

"We owe tribute to death; and all that live in the world are vassals thereof; this tribute shall every man pay with his life. None shall avoid from following death, for it is thy messenger what hour soever it may be sent, hungering and thirsting always to devour all that are in the world and so powerful that none shall escape; then, indeed, shall every man be judged according to his deeds. O most pitiful Lord, at least take pity and have mercy upon the children that are in the cradles, upon those that can not walk Have mercy also, O Lord, upon the poor and very miserable, who have nothing to eat, nor to cover themselves withal, nor a place to sleep, who do not know what thing a happy day is, whose days pass altogether in pain, affliction, and sadness. Than this, were it not better, O Lord, if thou shouldst forget to have mercy upon the soldiers and upon the men of war whom thou wilt have need of some time? Behold, it is better to die in war and go to serve food and drink in the house of the Sun, than to die in this pestilence and descend to hades. O most strong Lord, protector of all, lord of the earth, governor of the world and universal master, let the sport and satisfaction thou hast already taken in this past punishment suffice; make an end of this smoke and fog of thy resentment; quench also the burning and destroying fire of thine anger; let serenity come and clearness; let the small birds of thy people begin to sing and" (to) "approach the sun; give them QUIET WEATHER; so that they may cause their voices to reach thy highness, and thou mayest know them."[1]

Now it may be doubted by some whether this most extraordinary supplication could have come down from the Glacial Age; but it must be remembered that it may have been many times repeated in the deep cavern before the terror fled from the souls of the desolate fragment of the race; and, once established as a religious prayer, associated with such dreadful events, who would dare to change a word of it?

[1. Bancroft's "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 200.]

{p. 191}

Who would dare, among ourselves, to alter a syllable of the "Lord's Prayer"? Even though Christianity should endure for ten thousand years upon the face of the earth; even though the art of writing were lost, and civilization itself had perished, it would pass unchanged from mouth to mouth and from generation to generation, crystallized into imperishable diamonds of thought, by the conservative power of the religious instinct.

There can be no doubt of the authenticity of this and the other ancient prayers to Tezcatlipoca, which I shall quote hereafter. I repeat what H. H. Bancroft says, in a foot-note, in his great work:

"Father Bernardino de Sahagun, a Spanish Franciscan, was one of the first preachers sent to Mexico, where he was much employed in the instruction of the native youth, working for the most part in the province of Tezcuco. While there, in the city of Tepeopulco, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, he began the work, best known to us as the 'Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva Espaa,' from which the above prayers have been taken. It would be hard to imagine a work of such a character constructed after a better fashion of working than his. Gathering the principal natives of the town in which he carried on his labors, he induced them to appoint him a number of persons, the most learned and experienced in the things of which he proposed to write. These learned Mexicans being collected, Father Sahagun was accustomed to get them to paint down in their native fashion the various legends, details of history and mythology, and so on, that he wanted; at the foot of the said. pictures these learned Mexicans wrote out the explanations of the same in the Mexican tongue; and this explanation the Father Sahagun translated into Spanish. That translation purports to be what we now read as the 'Historia General.'"[1]

[1. "The Native Races of the Pacific States," vol. iii, p. 231.]

{p. 192}

Sahagun was a good and holy man, who was doubtless inspired of God, in the face of much opposition and many doubts, to perpetuate, for the benefit of the race, these wonderful testimonials of man's existence, condition, opinions, and feelings in the last great cataclysm which shook the whole world and nearly destroyed it.

Religions may perish; the name of the Deity may change with race and time and tongue; but He can never despise such noble, exalted, eloquent appeals from the hearts of millions of men, repeated through thousands of generations, as these Aztec prayers have been. Whether addressed to Tezcatlipoca, Zeus, Jove, Jehovah, or God, they pass alike direct from the heart of the creature to the heart of the Creator; they are of the threads that tie together matter and spirit.

In conclusion, let me recapitulate

1. The original surface-rocks, underneath the Drift, are, we have seen, decomposed and changed, for varying depths of from one to one hundred feet, by fire; they are metamorphosed, and their metallic constituents vaporized out of them by heat.

2. Only tremendous heat could have lifted the water of the seas into clouds, and formed the age of snow and floods evidenced by the secondary Drift.

3. The traditions of the following races tell us that the earth was once swept by a great conflagration:

a. The ancient Britons, as narrated in the mythology of the Druids.

b. The ancient Greeks, as told by Hesiod.

c. The ancient Scandinavians, as appears in the Elder Edda and Younger Edda.

d. The ancient Romans, as narrated by Ovid.

e. The ancient Toltecs of Central America, as told in their sacred books.

{p. 193}

f. The ancient Aztecs of Mexico, as transcribed by Fray de Olmos.

g. The ancient Persians, as recorded in the Zend-Avesta.

h. The ancient Hindoos, as told in their sacred books.

i. The Tahoe Indians of California, as appears by their living traditions.

Also by the legends of—

j. The Tupi Indians of Brazil.

k. The Tacullies of British America.

1. The Ute Indians of California and Utah.

m. The Peruvians.

n. The Yurucares of the Bolivian Cordilleras.

o. The Mbocobi of Paraguay.

p. The Botocudos of Brazil.

q. The Ojibway Indians of the United States.

r. The Wyandot Indians of the United States.

s. Lastly, the Dog-rib Indians of British Columbia.

We must concede that these legends of a world-embracing conflagration represent a race-remembrance of a great fact, or that they are a colossal falsehood—an invention of man.

If the latter, then that invention and falsehood must have been concocted at a time when the ancestors of the Greeks, Romans, Hindoos, Persians, Goths, Toltecs, Aztecs, Peruvians, and the Indians of Brazil, the United States, the west coast of South America, and the northwestern extremity of North America, and the Polynesians, (who have kindred traditions,) all dwelt together, as one people, alike in language and alike in color of their hair, eyes, and skin. At that time, therefore, all the widely separated regions, now inhabited by these races, must have been without human inhabitants; the race must have been a mere handful, and dwelling in one spot.

{p. 194}

What vast lapses of time must have been required before mankind slowly overflowed to these remote regions of the earth, and changed into these various races speaking such diverse tongues!

And if we take the ground that this universal tradition of a world-conflagration was an invention, a falsehood, then we must conclude that this handful of men, before they dispersed, in the very infancy of the world, shared in the propagation of a prodigious lie, and religiously perpetuated it for tens of thousands of years.

And then the question arises, How did they hit upon a lie that accords so completely with the revelations of science? They possessed no great public works, in that infant age, which would penetrate through hundreds of feet of dbris, and lay bare the decomposed rocks beneath; therefore they did not make a theory to suit an observed fact.

And how did mankind come to be reduced to a handful? If men grew, in the first instance, out of bestial forms, mindless and speechless, they would have propagated and covered the world as did the bear and the wolf. But after they had passed this stage, and had so far developed as to be human in speech and brain, some cause reduced them again to a handful. What was it? Something, say these legends, some fiery object, some blazing beast or serpent, which appeared in the heavens, which filled the world with conflagrations, and which destroyed the human race, except a remnant, who saved themselves in caverns or in the water; and from this seed, this handful, mankind again replenished the earth, and spread gradually to all the continents and the islands of the sea.

{p. 195}

CHAPTER VII.

LEGENDS OF THE CAVE-LIFE.

I HAVE shown that man could only have escaped the fire, the poisonous gases, and the falling stones and clay-dust, by taking refuge in the water or in the deep caves of the earth.

And hence everywhere in the ancient legends we find the races claiming that they came up out of the earth. Man was earth-born. The Toltecs and Aztecs traced back their origin to "the seven caves." We have seen the ancestors of the Peruvians emerging from the primeval cave, Pacarin-Tampu; and the Aztec Nanahuatzin taking refuge in a cave; and the ancestors of the Yurucares, the Takahlis, and the Mbocobi of America, all biding themselves from the conflagration in a cave; and we have seen the tyrannical and cruel race of the Tahoe legend buried in a cave. And, passing to a far-distant region, we find the Bungogees and Pankhoos, Hill tribes, of the most ancient races of Chittagong, in British India, relating that "their ancestors came out of a cave in the earth, under the guidance of a chief named Tlandrokpah."[1]

We read in the Toltec legends that a dreadful hurricane visited the earth in the early age, and carried away trees, mounds, horses, etc., and the people escaped by seeking safety in caves and places where the great hurricane

[1. Captain Lewin, "The Hill Tribes of Chittagong" p. 95, 1869.]

{p. 196}

could not reach them. After a few days they came forth "to see what had become of the earth, when they found it all populated with monkeys. All this time they were in darkness, without the light of the sun Or the moon, which the wind had brought them."[1]

A North American tribe, a branch of the Tinneh of British America, have a legend that "the earth existed first in a chaotic state, with only one human inhabitant, a woman, who dwelt in a cave and lived on berries." She met one day a mysterious animal, like a dog, who transformed himself into a handsome young man, and they became the parents of a giant race."[2]

There seems to be an allusion to the cave-life in Ovid, where, detailing the events that followed soon after the creation, he says:

"Then for the first time did the parched air glow with sultry heat, and the ice, bound up by the winds, was pendent. Then for the first time did men enter houses; those houses were caverns, and thick shrubs, and twigs fastened together with bark."[3]

But it is in the legends of the Navajo Indians of North America that we find the most complete account of the cave-life.

It is as follows:

"The Navajos, living north of the Pueblos, say that at one time all the nations, Navajos, Pueblos, Coyoteros, and white people, lived together tinder ground, in the heart of a mountain, near the river San Juan. Their food was meat, which they had in abundance, for all kinds of game were closed up with them in their cave; but their light was dim, and only endured for a few hours each day. There were, happily, two dumb men among the Navajos, flute-players,

[1. "North Americans of Antiquity," p. 239.

2. Bancroft's "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 105.

3. "The Metamorphoses," Fable IV.]

{p. 197}

who enlivened the darkness with music. One of these, striking by chance on the roof of the limbo with his flute, brought out a hollow sound, upon which the elders of the tribe determined to bore in the direction whence the sound came. The flute was then set up against the roof, and the Raccoon sent up the tube to dig a way out, but he could not. Then the Moth-worm mounted into the breach, and bored and bored till he found himself suddenly on the outside of the mountain, and surrounded by water."

We shall see hereafter that, in the early ages, mankind, all over the world, was divided into totemic septs or families, bearing animal names. It was out of this fact that the fables of animals possessing human speech arose. When we are told that the Fox talked to the Crow or the Wolf, it simply means that a man of the Fox totem talked to a man of the Crow or Wolf totem. And, consequently, when we read, in the foregoing legend, that the Raccoon went up to dig a way out of the cave and could not, it signifies that a man of the Raccoon totem made the attempt and failed, while a man of the Moth-worm totem succeeded. We shall see hereafter that these totemic distinctions probably represented original race or ethnic differences.

The Navajo legend continues:

"Under these novel circumstances, he, (the Moth-worm,) heaped up a little mound, and set himself down on it to observe and ponder the situation. A critical situation enough!—for from the four corners of the universe four great white Swans bore down upon him, every one with two arrows, one under each wing. The Swan from the north reached him first, and, having pierced him with two arrows, drew them out and examined their points, exclaiming, as the result, 'He is of my race.' So, also, in succession, did all the others. Then they went away; and toward the directions in which they departed, to the north, south, east, and west, were found four great arroyos,

{p. 198}

by which all the water flowed off, leaving only MUD. The Worm now returned to the cave, and the Raccoon went up into the mud, sinking in it mid-leg deep, as the marks on his fur show to this day. And the wind began to rise, sweeping up the four great arroyos, and the mud was dried away.

"Then the men and the animals began to come up from their cave, and their coming up required several days. First came the Navajos, and no sooner had they reached the surface than they commenced gaming at patole, their favorite game. Then came the Pueblos and other Indians, who crop their hair and build houses. Lastly came the white people, who started off at once for the rising sun, and were lost sight of for many winters.

"When these nations lived under ground they all spake one tongue; but, with the light of day and the level of earth, came many languages. The earth was at this time very small, and the light was quite as scanty as it had been down below, for there was as yet no heaven, no sun, nor moon, nor stars. So another council of the ancients was held, and a committee of their number appointed to manufacture these luminaries."[1]

Here we have the same story:

In an ancient age, before the races of men had differentiated, a remnant of mankind was driven, by some great event, into a cave; all kinds of animals had sought shelter in. the same place; something—the Drift—had closed up the mouth of the cavern; the men subsisted on the animals. At last they dug their way out, to find the world covered with mud and water. Great winds cut the mud into deep valleys, by which the waters ran off. The mud was everywhere; gradually it dried up. But outside the cave it was nearly as dark as it was within it; the clouds covered the world; neither sun, moon, nor stars could be seen; the earth was very small, that is, but little of it was above the waste of waters.

[1. Bancroft's "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 81.]

{p. 199}

And here we have the people longing for the return of the sun. The legend proceeds to give an account of the making of the sun and moon. The dumb fluter, who had charge of the construction of the sun, through his clumsiness, came near setting fire to the world.

"The old men, however, either more lenient than Zeus, or lacking his thunder, contented themselves with forcing the offender back by puffing the smoke of their pipes into his face."

Here we have the event, which properly should have preceded the cave-story, brought in subsequent to it. The sun nearly burns up the earth, and the earth is saved amid the smoke of incense from the pipes of the old men—the gods. And we are told that the increasing size of the earth has four times rendered it necessary that the sun should be put farther back from the earth. The clearer the atmosphere, the farther away the sun has appeared.

"At night, also, the other dumb man issues from this cave, bearing the moon under his arm, and lighting up such part of the world as he can. Next, the old men set to work to make the heavens, intending to broider in the stars in beautiful patterns of bears, birds, and such things."

That is to say, a civilized race 'began to divide up the heavens into constellations, to which they gave the names of the Great and Little Bear, the Wolf, the Serpent, the Dragon, the Eagle, the Swan, the Crane, the Peacock, the Toucan, the Crow, etc.; some of which names they retain among ourselves to this day.

"But, just as they had made a beginning, a prairie-wolf rushed in, and, crying out, 'Why all this trouble and embroidery?' scattered the pile of stars over all the floor of heaven, just as they still lie."

This iconoclastic and unsthetical prairie-wolf represents a barbarian's incapacity to see in the arrangement

{p. 200}

of the stars any such constellations, or, in fact, anything but an unmeaning jumble of cinders.

And then we learn how the tribes of men separated:

"The old men" (the civilized race, the gods) "prepared two earthen tinages, or water-jars, and having decorated one with bright colors, filled it with trifles; while the other was left plain on the outside, but filled within with flocks and herds and riches of all kinds. These jars being covered, and presented to the Navajos and Pueblos, the former chose the gaudy but paltry jar; while the Pueblos received the plain and rich vessel—each nation showing, in its choice, traits which characterize it to this day."

In the legends of the Lenni-Lenape,—the Delaware Indians,—mankind was once buried in the earth with a wolf; and they owed their release to the wolf, who scratched away the soil and dug out a means of escape for the men and for himself. The Root-Diggers of California were released in the same way by a coyote."[1]

"The Tonkaways, a wild people of Texas, still celebrate this early entombment of the race in a most curious fashion. They have a grand annual dance. One of them, naked as he was born, is buried in the earth; the others, clothed in wolf-skins, walk over him, snuff around him, howl in lupine style, and finally dig him up with their nails."[2]

Compare this American custom with the religious ceremony of an ancient Italian tribe:

"Three thousand years ago the Hirpani, or Wolves, an ancient Sabine tribe of Italy, were wont to collect on Mount Soracte, and there go through certain rites, in memory of an oracle which predicted their extinction when they ceased to gain their living as wolves do, by violence and plunder. Therefore they dressed in wolf-skins,

[1. Brinton's "Myths of the New World," p. 247.

2. Ibid.]

{p. 201}

ran with barks and howls over burning coals, and gnawed wolfishly whatever they could seize."[1]

All the tribes of the Creeks, Seminoles, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Natchez, who, according to tradition, were in remote times banded into one common confederacy, unanimously located their earliest ancestry near an artificial eminence in the valley of the Big Black River, in the Natchez country, whence they pretended to have emerged. This hill is an elevation of earth about half a mile square and fifteen or twenty feet high. From its northeast corner a wall of equal height extends for nearly half a mile to the high land. This was the Nunne Chaha, properly Nanih waiya, sloping hill, famous in Choctaw story, and which Captain Gregg found they had not yet forgotten in their Western home.

"The legend was, that in its center was a cave, the house of the Master of Breath. Here he made the first men from the clay around him, and, as at that time the waters covered the earth, he raised the wall to dry them on. When the soft mud had hardened into elastic flesh and firm bone, he banished the waters to their channels and beds, and gave the dry land to his creatures."[2]

Here, again, we have the beginnings of the present race of men in a cave, surrounded by clay and water, which covered the earth, and we have the water subsiding into its channels and beds, and the dry land appearing, whereupon the men emerged from the cave.

A parallel to this Southern legend occurs among the Six Nations of the North. They with one consent looked to a mountain near the falls of the Oswego River, in the State of New York, as the locality where their forefathers saw the light of day; and their name, Oneida, signifies the people of the stone.

[1. Brinton's "Myths of the New World," p. 217.

2. Ibid., p. 242.]

{p. 202}

The cave of Pacarin-Tampu, already alluded to, the Lodgings of the Dawn, or the Place of Birth of the Peruvians, was five leagues distant from Cuzco, surrounded by a sacred grove, and inclosed with temples of great antiquity.

"From its hallowed recesses the mythical civilizers, of Peru, tile first of men, emerged, and in it, during the time of the flood, the remnants of the race escaped the fury of the waves."[1]

We read in the legends of Oraibi, hereafter quoted more fully, that the people climbed up a ladder from a lower world to this—that is, they ascended from the cave in which they had taken refuge. This was in an age of cold and darkness; there was yet no sun or moon.

The natives in the neighborhood of Mount Shasta, in Northern California, have a strange legend which refers to the age of Caves and Ice.

They say the Great Spirit made Mount Shasta first:

"Boring a hole in the sky," (the heavens cleft in twain of the Edda?) "using a large stone as an auger," (the fall of stones and pebbles?) "he pushed down snow and ice until they reached the desired height; then he stepped from cloud to cloud down to the great icy pile, and from it to the earth, where he planted the first trees by merely putting his finger into the soil here and there. The sun began to melt the snow; the snow produced water; the water ran down the sides of the mountains, refreshed the trees, and made rivers. The Creator gathered the leaves that fell from the trees, blew upon them, and they became birds," etc.[2]

This is a representation of the end of the Glacial Age.

But the legends of these Indians of Mount Shasta go still further. After narrating, as above, the fall of a

[1. Balboa, "Histoire du Prou," p. 4.

2. Bancroft's "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 90.]

{p. 203}

stone from heaven, and the formation of immense masses of ice, which subsequently melted and formed rivers, and after the Creator had made trees, birds,. and animals, especially the grizzly bear, then we have a legend which reminds us of the cave-life which accompanied the great catastrophe:

"Indeed, this animal" (the grizzly bear) "was then so large, strong, and cunning, that the Creator somewhat feared him, and hollowed out Mount Shasta as a wigwam for himself, where he might reside while on earth in the most perfect security and comfort. So the smoke was soon to be seen curling up from the mountain where the Great Spirit and his family lived, and still live, though their hearth-fire is alive no longer, now that the white-man is in the land."

Here the superior race seeks shelter in a cave on Mount Shasta, and their camp-fire is associated with the smoke which once went forth out of the volcano; while an inferior race, a Neanderthal race, dwell in the plains at the foot of the mountain.

"This was thousands of snows ago, and there came after this a late and severe spring-time, in which a memorable storm blew up from the sea, shaking the huge lodge" (Mount Shasta) "to its base."

(Another recollection of the Ice Age.)

"The Great Spirit commanded his daughter, little more than an infant, to go up and bid the wind to be still, cautioning her, at the same time, in his fatherly way, not to put her head out into the blast, but only to thrust out her little red arm and make a sign, before she delivered her message."[1]

Here we seem to have a reminiscence of the cave-dwellers, looking out at the terrible tempest from their places of shelter.

[1. Bancroft's "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 91.]

{p. 204}

The child of the Great Spirit exposes herself too much, is caught by the wind and blown down the mountain-side, where she is found, shivering on the snow, by a family of grizzly bears. These grizzly bears evidently possessed some humane as well as human traits: "They walked then on their hind-legs like men, and talked, and carried clubs, using the fore-limbs as men use their arms." They represent in their bear-skins the rude, fur-clad race that were developed during the intense cold of the Glacial Age.

The child of the Great Spirit, the superior race, intermarries with one of the grizzly bears, and from this union came the race of men, to wit, the Indians.

"But the Great Spirit punished the grizzly bears by depriving them of the power of speech, and of standing erect—in short, by making true bears of them. But no Indian will, to this day, kill a grizzly bear, recognizing as he does the tie of blood."

Again, we are told:

"The inhabitants of central Europe and the Teutonic races who came late to England place their mythical heroes under ground in caves, in vaults beneath enchanted castles, or in mounds which rise up and open, and show their buried inhabitants alive and busy about the avocations of earthly men. . . . In Morayshire the buried race are supposed to be under the sandhills, as they are in some parts of Brittany."[1]

Associated with these legends we find many that refer to the time of great cold, and snow, and ice. I give one or two specimens:

In the story of the Iroquois, (see p. 173, ante,) we are told that the White One, [the Light One, the Sun,] after he had destroyed the monster who covered the earth with

[1. "Frost and Fire," vol. ii, p. 190.]

{p. 205}

blood and stones, then destroyed the gigantic frog. The frog, a cold-blooded, moist reptile, was always the emblem of water and cold; it represented the great ice-fields that squatted, frog-like, on the face of the earth. It had "swallowed all the waters," says the Iroquois legend; that is, "the waters were congealed in it; and when it was killed great and destructive torrents broke forth and devastated the land, and Manibozho, the White One, the beneficent Sun, guided these waters into smooth streams and lakes." The Aztecs adored the goddess of water under the figure of a great green frog carved from a single emerald.[1]

In the Omaha we have the fable of "How the Rabbit killed the Winter," told in the Indian manner. The Rabbit was probably a reminiscence of the Great Hare, Manabozho; and he, probably, as we shall see, a recollection of a great race, whose totem was the Hare.

I condense the Indian story:

"The Rabbit in the past time moving came where the Winter was. The Winter said: 'You have not been here lately; sit down.' The Rabbit said he came because his grandmother had altogether beaten the life out of him" (the fallen dbris?). "The Winter went hunting. It was very cold: there was a snow-storm. The Rabbit seared up a deer. 'Shoot him,' said the Rabbit. 'No; I do not hunt such things as that,' said the Winter. They came upon some men. That was the Winter's game. He killed the men and boiled them for supper," (cave-cannibalism). "The Rabbit refused to eat the human flesh. The Winter went hunting again. The Rabbit found out from the Winter's wife that the thing the Winter dreaded most of all the world was the head of a Rocky Mountain sheep. The Rabbit procured one. It was dark. He threw it suddenly at the Winter, saying, 'Uncle, that round thing by you is the head of a Rocky Mountain

[1. Brinton's "Myths of the New World," p. 185.]

{p. 206}

sheep.' The Winter became altogether dead. Only the woman remained. Therefore from that time it has not been very cold."

Of course, any attempt to interpret such a crude myth must be guess-work. It shows, however, that the Indians believed that there was a time when the winter was much more severe than it is now; it was very cold and dark. Associated with it is the destruction of men and cannibalism. At last the Rabbit brings a round object, (the Sun?), the head of a Rocky Mountain sheep, and the Winter looks on it, and perishes.

Even tropical Peru has its legend of the Age of Ice.

Garcilaso de la Vega, a descendant of the Incas, has preserved an ancient indigenous poem of his nation, which seems to allude to a great event, the breaking to fragments of some large object, associated with ice and snow. Dr. Brinton translates it from the Quichua, as follows

"Beauteous princess, Lo, thy brother Breaks thy vessel Now in fragments. From the blow come Thunder, lightning, Strokes of lightning And thou, princess, Tak'st the water, With it raineth, And the hail, or Snow dispenseth. Viracocha, World-constructor, World-enlivener, To this office Thee appointed, Thee created."[1]

[1. "Myths of the New World," p. 167.]

{p. 207}

But it may be asked, How in such a period of terror and calamity—as we must conceive the comet to have caused-would men think of finding refuge in caves?

The answer is plain: either they or their ancestors had lived in caves.

Caves were the first shelters of uncivilized men. It was not necessary to fly to the caves through the rain of falling dbris; many were doubtless already in them when the great world-storm broke, and others naturally sought their usual dwelling-places.

"The cavern," says Brinton, "dimly lingered in the memories of nations."

Man is born of the earth; he is made of the clay like Adam, created—

"Of good red clay, Haply from Mount Aornus, beyond sweep Of the black eagle's wing."

The cave-temples of India-the oldest temples, probably, on earth—are a reminiscence of this cave-life.

We shall see hereafter that Lot and his daughters "dwelt in a cave"; and we shall find Job bidden away in the "narrow-mouthed bottomless" pit or cave.

[1. "Myths of the New World," p. 244.]

{p. 208}

CHAPTER VIII.

LEGENDS OF THE AGE OF DARKNESS.

ALL the cosmogonies begin with an Age of Darkness; a damp, cold, rainy, dismal time.

Hesiod tells us, speaking of the beginning of things

"In truth, then, foremost sprung Chaos. . . . But from Chaos were born Erebus and black Night; and from Night again sprang forth ther and Day, whom she bare after having conceived by union with Erebus."

Aristophanes, in his "Aves," says:[1]

"Chaos and Night and black Erebus and wide Tartarus first existed."[2]

Orpheus says:

"From the beginning the gloomy night enveloped and obscured all things that were under the ether" (the clouds). "The earth was invisible on account of the darkness, but the light broke through the ether" (the clouds), "and illuminated the earth."

By this power were produced the sun, moon, and stars.[3]

It is from Sanchoniathon that we derive most of the little we know of that ancient and mysterious people, the Phœnicians. He lived before the Trojan war; and of his writings but fragments survive—quotations in the writings of others.

[1. "The Theogony."

2. Faber's "Origin of Pagan Idolatry," vol. i, p. 255.

3. Cory's "Fragments," p. 298.]

{p. 209}

He tells us that—

"The beginning of all things was a condensed, windy air, or a breeze of thick air, and a chaos turbid and black as Erebus.

"Out of this chaos was generated Mt, which some call Ilus," (mud,) "but others the putrefaction of a watery mixture. And from this sprang all the seed of the creation, and the generation of the universe. . . . And, when the air began to send forth light, winds were produced and clouds, and very great defluxions and torrents of the heavenly waters."

Was this "thick air" the air thick with comet-dust, which afterward became the mud? Is this the meaning of the "turbid chaos"?

We turn to the Babylonian legends. Berosus wrote from records preserved in the temple of Belus at Babylon. He says:

"There was a time in which there existed nothing but darkness and an abyss of waters, wherein resided most hideous beings, which were produced of a twofold principle."

Were these "hideous beings" the comets?

From the "Laws of Menu," of the Hindoos, we learn that the universe existed at first in darkness.

We copy the following text from the Vedas:

"The Supreme Being alone existed; afterward there was universal darkness; next the watery ocean was produced by the diffusion of virtue."

We turn to the legends of the Chinese, and we find the same story:

Their annals begin with "Pwan-ku, or the Reign of Chaos."[1]

[1. "The Ancient Dynasties of Berosus and China," Rev. T. P. Crawford, D. D., p. 4.]

{p. 210}

And we are told by the Chinese historians that—

"P'an-ku came forth in the midst of the great chaotic void, and we know not his origin; that he knew the rationale of heaven and earth, and comprehended the changes of the Darkness and the Light."[1]

He "existed before the shining of the Light."[2] He was "the Prince of Chaos."

"After the chaos cleared away, heaven appeared first in order, then earth, then after they existed, and the atmosphere had changed its character, man came forth."[3]

That is to say, P'an-ku lived through the Age of Darkness, during a chaotic period, and while the atmosphere was pestilential with the gases of the comet. Where did he live? The Chinese annals tell us:

"In the age after the chaos, when heaven and earth had just separated."

That is, when the great mass of cloud had just lifted from the earth:

"Records had not yet been established or inscriptions invented. At first even the rulers dwelt in caves and desert places, eating raw flesh and drinking blood. At this fortunate juncture Pan-ku-sze came forth, and from that time heaven and earth began to be heaven and earth, men and things to be men and things, and so the chaotic state passed away."[1]

This is the rejuvenation of the world told of in so many legends.

And these annals tell us further of the "Ten Stems," being the stages of the earth's primeval history.

"At Wu—the Sixth Stem—the Darkness and the Light unite with injurious effects—all things become solid," (frozen?), "and the Darkness destroys the growth of all things.

[1. Compendium of Wong-shi-Shing 1526-1590," Crawford, p. 3.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid., p. 2.

4. Ibid., p. 3.]

{p. 211}

"At Kung—the Seventh Stem—the Darkness nips all things."

But the Darkness is passing away:

"At Jin—the Ninth Stem—the Light begins to nourish all things in the recesses below.

"Lastly, at Tsze, all things begin to germinate."[1]

The same story is told in the "Twelve Branches."

"1. K'wun-tun stands for the period of chaos, the cold midnight darkness. It is said that with it all things began to germinate in the hidden recesses of the under-world."

In the 2d—Ch'i-fun-yoh—"light and heat become active, and all things begin to rise in obedience to its nature." In the 3d—Sheh-ti-kuh—the stars and sun probably appear, as from this point the calendar begins. In the 5th—Chi-shii—all things in a torpid state begin to come forth. In the 8th—Hen-hia—all things harmonize, and the present order of things is established; that is to say, the effects of the catastrophe have largely passed away.[2]

The kings who governed before the Drift were called the Rulers of heaven and earth; those who came after were the Rulers of man.

"Cheu Ching-huen says: 'The Rulers of man succeeded to the Rulers of heaven and the Rulers of earth in the government; that then the atmosphere gradually cleared away, and all things sprang up together; that the order of time was gradually settled, and the usages of society gradually became correct and respectful."[3]

And then we read that "the day and night had not yet been divided," but, after a time, "day and night were distinguished from each other."[4]

Here we have the history of some event which changed

[1. "Compendium of Wong-shi-Shing 1526-1590," Crawford, pp. 4, 5.

2. Ibid., p. 8.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid., p. 7.]

{p. 212}

the dynasties of the world: the heavenly kingdom was succeeded by a merely human one; there were chaos, cold, and darkness, and death to vegetation; then the light increases, and vegetation begins once more to germinate; the atmosphere is thick; the heavens rest on the earth; day and night can not be distinguished from one another, and mankind dwell in caves, and live on raw meat and blood.

Surely all this accords wonderfully with our theory.

And here we have the same story in another form:

"The philosopher of Oraibi tells us that when the people ascended by means of the magical tree, which constituted the ladder from the lower world to this, they found the firmament, the ceiling of this world, low down upon the earth—the floor of this world."

That is to say, when the people climbed up, from the cave in which they were bidden, to the surface of the earth, the dense clouds rested on the face of the earth.

"Machito, one of their gods, raised the firmament on his shoulders to where it is now seen. Still the world was dark, as there was no sun, no moon, and no stars. So the people murmured because of the darkness and the cold. Machito said, 'Bring me seven maidens'; and they brought him seven maidens; and he said, 'Bring me seven baskets of cotton-bolls'; and they brought him seven baskets of cotton-bolls; and he taught the seven maidens to weave a magical fabric from the cotton, and when they had finished it he held it aloft, and the breeze carried it away toward the firmament, and in the twinkling of an eye it was transformed into a beautiful and full-orbed moon; and the same breeze caught the remnants of flocculent cotton, which the maidens had scattered during their work, and carried them aloft, and they were transformed into bright stars. But still it was cold; and the people murmured again, and Machito said, 'Bring me seven buffalo-robes'; and they brought him seven buffalo-robes, and from the densely matted hair of the robes he wove another wonderful fabric, which the storm carried

{p. 213}

away into the sky, and it was transformed into the full-orbed sun. Then Machito appointed times and seasons, and ways for the heavenly bodies; and the gods of the firmament have obeyed the injunctions of Machito from the day of their creation to the present." *

Among the Thlinkeets of British Columbia there is a legend that the Great Crow or Raven, Yehl, was the creator of most things:

"Very dark, damp, and chaotic was the world in the beginning; nothing with breath or body moved there except Yehl; in the likeness of a raven he brooded over the mist; his black winds beat down the vast confusion; the waters went back before him and the dry land appeared. The Thlinkeets were placed on the earth—though how or when does not exactly appear—while the world was still in darkness, and without sun, moon, or stars."[2]

The legend proceeds at considerable length to tell the doings of Yehl. His uncle tried to slay him, and, when he failed, "he imprecated with a potent curse a deluge upon all the earth. . . . The flood came, the waters rose and rose; but Yehl clothed himself in his bird-skin, and soared up to the heavens, where he stuck his beak into a cloud, and remained until the waters were assuaged."[3]

This tradition reminds us of the legend of the Thessalian Cerambos, "who escaped the flood by rising into the air on wings, given him by the nymphs."

I turn now to the traditions of the Miztecs, who dwelt on the outskirts of the Mexican Empire; this legend was taken by Fray Gregoria Garcia[4] from a book found in a convent in Cuilapa, a little Indian town, about a league and a half south of Oajaca; the book had been compiled by the vicar of the convent, "just as they

[1. "Popular Science Monthly," October, 1879, p. 800.

2. Bancroft's "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 98.

3. Ibid., p. 99.

4. "Origen de los Ind.," pp. 327-329.]

{p. 214}

themselves were accustomed to depict and to interpret it in their primitive scrolls":

"In the year and in the day of obscurity and darkness," (the days of the dense clouds?), "yea, even before the days or the years were," (before the visible revolution of the sun marked the days, and the universal darkness and cold prevented the changes of the seasons?), "when the world was in great darkness and chaos, when the earth was covered with water, and there was nothing but mud and slime on all the face of the earth—behold a god became visible, and his name was the Deer, and his surname was the Lion-snake. There appeared also a very beautiful goddess called the Deer, and surnamed the Tiger-snake. These two gods were the origin and beginning of all the gods."

This lion-snake was probably one of the comets; the tiger-snake was doubtless a second comet, called after the tiger, on account of its variegated, mottled appearance. It will be observed they appeared before the light had returned,

These gods built a temple on a high place, and laid out a garden, and waited patiently, offering sacrifices to the higher gods, wounding themselves with flint knives, and "praying that it might seem good to them to shape the firmament, and lighten the darkness of the world, and to establish the foundation of the earth; or, rather, to gather the waters together so that the earth might appear—as they had no place to rest in save only one little garden."

Here we have the snakes and the people confounded together. The earth was afterward made fit for the use of mankind, and at a later date there came—

"A great deluge, wherein perished many of the sons and daughters that had been born to the gods; and it is said that, when the deluge was passed, the human race

{p. 215}

was restored, as at the first, and the Miztec kingdom populated, and the heavens and the earth established."[1]

Father Duran, in his MS. "History Antique of New Spain," written in A. D. 1585, gives the Cholula legend, which commences:

"In the beginning, before the light of the sun had been created, this land was in obscurity and darkness and void of any created thing."

In the Toltec legends we read of a time when—

"There was a tremendous hurricane that carried away trees, mounds, houses, and the largest edifices, notwithstanding which many men and women escaped, principally in caves, and places where the great hurricane could not reach them. A few days having passed, they set out to see what had become of the earth, when they found it all populated with monkeys. All this time they were in darkness, without seeing the light of the sun, nor the moon, that the wind had brought them."[2]

In the Aztec creation-myths, according to the accounts furnished by Mendieta, and derived from Fray Andres de Olmos, one of the earliest of the Christian missionaries among the Mexicans, we have the following legend of the "Return of the Sun":

"Now, there had been no sun in existence for many years; so the gods being assembled in a place called Teotihuacan, six leagues from Mexico, and gathered at the time around a great fire, told their devotees that he of them who should first cast himself into that, fire should have the honor of being transformed into a sun. So, one of them, called Nanahuatzin . . . flung himself into the fire. Then the gods" (the chiefs?) "began to peer through the gloom in all directions for the expected light, and to make bets as to what part of heaven. he should

[1. Bancroft's "Native Races," vol. iii, pp. 71-73.

2. "North Americans of Antiquity," p. 239.]

{p. 216}

first appear in. Some said 'Here,' and some said 'There'; but when the sun rose they were all proved wrong, for not one of them had fixed upon the east."

In the long-continued darkness they had lost all knowledge of the cardinal points. The ancient landmarks, too, were changed.

The "Popul Vuh," the national book of the Quiches, tells us of four ages of the world. The man of the first age was made of clay; he was "strengthless, inept, watery; he could not move his head, his face looked but one way; his sight was restricted, he could not look behind him," that is, he had no knowledge of the past; "he had been endowed with language, but he had no intelligence, so he was consumed in the water."[1]

Then followed a higher race of men; they filled the world with their progeny; they had intelligence, but no moral sense"; "they forgot the Heart of Heaven." They were destroyed by fire and pitch from heaven, accompanied by tremendous earthquakes, from which only a few escaped.

Then followed a period when all was dark, save the white light "of the morning-star—sole light as yet of the primeval world"—probably a volcano.

"Once more are the gods in council, in the darkness, in the night of a desolated universe."

Then the people prayed to God for light, evidently for the return of the sun:

"'Hail! O Creator they cried, 'O Former! Thou that hearest and understandest us! abandon us not! forsake us not! O God, thou that art in heaven and on earth; O Heart of Heaven I O Heart of Earth! give us descendants, and a posterity as long as the light endure.'" . . .

In other words, let not the human race cease to be.

[1. Bancroft's "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 46.]

{p. 217}

"It was thus they spake, living tranquilly, invoking the return of the light; waiting the rising of the sun; watching the star of the morning, precursor of the sun. But no sun came, and the four men and their descendants grew uneasy. 'We have no person to watch over us,' they said; 'nothing to guard our symbols!' Then they adopted gods of their own, and waited. They kindled fires, for the climate was colder; then there fell great rains and hail-storms, and put out their fires. Several times they made fires, and several times the rains and storms extinguished them. Many other trials also they underwent in Tulan, famines and such things, and a general dampness and cold—for the earth was moist, there being yet no sun."

All this accords with what I have shown we might expect as accompanying the close of the so-called Glacial Age. Dense clouds covered the sky, shutting out the light of the sun; perpetual rains and storms fell; the world was cold and damp, muddy and miserable; the people were wanderers, despairing and hungry. They seem to have come from an eastern land. We are told:

"Tulan was a much colder climate than the happy eastern land they had left."

Many generations seem to have grown up and perished under the sunless skies, "waiting for the return of the light"; for the "Popul Vuh" tells us that "here also the language of all the families was confused, so that no one of the first four men could any longer understand the speech of the others."

That is to say, separation and isolation into rude tribes had made their tongues unintelligible to one another.

This shows that many, many years—it may be centuries—must have elapsed before that vast volume of moisture, carried up by evaporation, was able to fall

{p. 218}

back, in snow and rain to the land and sea, and allow the sun to shine through "the blanket of the dark." Starvation encountered the scattered fragments of mankind.

And in these same Quiche legends of Central America we are told:

"The persons of the godhead were enveloped in the darkness which enshrouded a desolated world."[1]

They counseled together, and created four men of white and yellow maize (the white and yellow races?). It was still dark; for they had no light but the light of the morning-star. They came to Tulan.

And the Abb Brasseur de Bourbourg gives further details of the Quiche legends:

Now, behold our ancients and our fathers were made lords, and had their dawn. Behold we will relate also the rising of the sun, the moon, and the stars! Great was their joy when they saw the morning-star, which came out first, with its resplendent face before the sun. At last the sun itself began to come forth; the animals, small and great, were in joy; they rose from the water-courses and ravines, and stood on the mountain-tops, with their heads toward where the sun was coming. An innumerable crowd of people were there, and the dawn cast light on all these people at once. At last the face of the ground was dried by the sun: like a man the sun showed himself, and his presence warmed and dried the surface of the ground. Before the sun appeared, muddy and wet was the surface of the ground, and it was before the sun appeared, and then only the sun rose like a man. But his heat had no strength, and he did but show when he rose; he only remained like" (an image in) "a mirror and it is not, indeed, the same sun that appears now, they say, in the stories."[2]

[1. "North Americans of Antiquity," p. 214.

2. Tylor's "Early History of Mankind," p. 308.]

{p. 219}

How wonderfully does all this accord with what we have shown would follow from the earth's contact with a comet!

The earth is wet and covered with mud, the clay; the sun is long absent; at last he returns; he dries the mud, but his face is still covered with the remnants of the great cloud-belt; "his heat has no strength"; he shows himself only in glimpses; he shines through the fogs like an image in a mirror; he is not like the great blazing orb we see now.

But the sun, when it did appear in all its glory, must have been a terrible yet welcome sight to those who had not looked upon him for many years. We read in the legends of the Thlinkeets of British Columbia, after narrating that the world was once "dark, damp, and chaotic," full of water, with no sun, moon, or stars, how these luminaries were restored. The great hero-god of the race, Yehl, got hold of three mysterious boxes, and, wrenching the lids off, let out the sun, moon, and stars.

"When he set up the blazing light" (of the sun) "in heaven, the people that saw it were at first afraid. Many hid themselves in the mountains, and in the forests, and even in the water, and were changed into the various kinds of animals that frequent these places."[1]

Says James Geikie:

"Nor can we form any proper conception of how long a time was needed to bring about that other change of climate, under the influence of which, slowly and imperceptibly, this immense sheet of frost melted away from the lowlands and retired to the mountain recesses. We must allow that long ages elapsed before the warmth became such as to induce plants and animals to clothe and people the land. How vast a time, also, must have passed away ere the warmth reached its climax!"[2]

[1. Bancroft's "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 100.

2. "The Great Ice Age," p. 184.]

{p. 220}

And all this time the rain fell. There could be no return of the sun until all the mass of moisture sucked up by the comet's heat had been condensed into water, and falling on the earth had found its way back to the ocean; and this process had to be repeated many times. It was the age of the great primeval rain.

#

THE PRIMEVAL STORM.

In the Andes, Humboldt tells us of a somewhat similar state of facts:

"A thick mist during a particular season obscures the firmament for many months. Not a planet, not the most brilliant stars of the southern hemisphere—Canopus, the

{p. 221}

Southern Cross, nor the feet of Centaur—are visible. It is frequently almost impossible to discover the position of the moon. If by chance the outlines of the sun's disk be visible during the day, it appears devoid of rays."

Says Croll:

"We have seen that the accumulation of snow and ice on the ground, resulting from the long and cold winters, tended to cool the air and produce fogs, which cut off the sun's rays."[1]

The same writer says:

"Snow and ice lower the temperature by chilling the air and condensing the rays into thick fogs. The great strength of the sun's rays during summer, due to his nearness at that season, would, in the first place, tend to produce an increased amount of evaporation. But the presence of snow-clad mountains and an icy sea would chill the atmosphere and condense the vapors into thick fogs. The thick fogs and cloudy sky would effectually prevent the sun's rays from reaching the earth, and the snow, in consequence, would remain unmelted during the entire summer. In fact, we have this very condition of things exemplified in some of the islands of the Southern Ocean at the present day. Sandwich Land, which is in the same parallel of latitude as the north of Scotland, is covered with ice and snow the entire summer; and in the Island of South Georgia, which is in the same parallel as the center of England, the perpetual snow descends to the very sea-beach. The following is Captain Cook's description of this dismal place: 'We thought it very extraordinary,' he says, 'that an island between the latitudes of 54 and 55 should, in the very height of summer, be almost wholly covered with frozen snow, in some places many fathoms deep. . . . The head of the bay was terminated by ice-cliffs of considerable height, pieces of which were continually breaking off, which made a noise like cannon. Nor were the interior parts of the country less horrible. The savage rocks raised their lofty summits

[1. "Climate and Time," p. 75.]

{p. 222}

till lost in the clouds, and valleys were covered with seemingly perpetual snow. Not a tree nor a shrub of any size was to be seen.'"

I return to the legends.

The Gallinomeros of Central California also recollect the day of darkness and the return of the sun:

"In the beginning they say there was no light, but a thick darkness covered all the earth. Man stumbled blindly against man and against the animals, the birds clashed together in the air, and confusion reigned everywhere. The Hawk happening by chance to fly into the face of the Coyote, there followed mutual apologies, and afterward a long discussion on the emergency of the situation. Determined to make some effort toward abating the public evil, the two set about a remedy. The Coyote gathered a great heap, of tules" (rushes) "rolled them into a ball, and gave it to the Hawk, together with some pieces of flint. Gathering all together as well as he could, the Hawk flew straight up into the sky, where he struck fire with the flints, lit his ball of reeds, and left it there whirling along all in a fierce red glow as it continues to the present; for it is the sun. In the same way the moon was made, but as the tules of which it was constructed were rather damp, its light has always been somewhat uncertain and feeble."[2]

The Algonquins believed in a world, an earth, "anterior to this of ours, but one without light or human inhabitants. A lake burst its bounds and submerged it wholly."

This reminds us of the Welsh legend, and the bursting of the lake Llion (see page 135, ante).

The ancient world was united in believing in great cycles of time terminating in terrible catastrophes:

[1. Captain Cook's "Second Voyage," vol. ii, pp. 232-235;

2. "Climate and Time," Croll, pp. 60, 61.

3. Powers's Pomo MS., Bancroft's "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 86.]

{p. 223}

Hence arose the belief in Epochs of Nature, elaborated by ancient philosophers into the Cycles of the Stoics, the great Days of Brahm, long periods of time rounding off by sweeping destructions, the Cataclysms and Ekpyrauses of the universe. Some thought in these all things perished, others that a few survived. . . . For instance, Epietetus favors the opinion that at the solstices of the great year not only all human beings, but even the gods, are annihilated; and speculates whether at such times Jove feels lonely.[1] Macrobius, so far from agreeing with him, explains the great antiquity of Egyptian civilization by the hypothesis that that country is so happily situated between the pole and the equator, as to escape both the deluge and conflagration of the great cycle."[2]

In the Babylonian Genesis tablets we have the same references to the man or people who, after the great disaster, divided the heavens into constellations, and regulated, that is, discovered and revealed, their movements. In the Fifth Tablet of the Creation Legend[3] we read:

"1. It was delightful all that was fixed by the great gods.

2. Stars, their appearance (in figures) of animals he arranged.

3. To fix the year through the observation of their constellations,

4. Twelve months or signs of stars in three rows he arranged,

5. From the day when the year commences unto the close.

6. He marked the positions of the wandering stars to shine in their courses,

7. That they may not do injury, and may not trouble any one."

That is to say, the civilized race that followed the great cataclysm, with whom the history of the event was

[1. Discourses," book iii, chapter xiii.

2. Brinton's Myths of the New World," p. 215.

3. Proctor's Pleasant Ways," p. 393.]

{p. 224}

yet fresh, and who were impressed with all its horrors, and who knew well the tenure of danger and terror on which they held all the blessings of the world, turned their attention to the study of the heavenly bodies, and sought to understand the source of the calamity which had so recently overwhelmed the world. Hence they "marked," as far as they were able, "the positions of the 'comets,'" "that they might not" again "do injury, and not trouble any one." The word here given is Nibir, which Mr. Smith says does not mean planets, and, in the above account, Nibir is contradistinguished from the stars; they have already been arranged in constellations; hence it can only mean comets.

And the tablet proceeds, with distinct references to the Age of Darkness:

"8. The positions of the gods Bel and Hea he fixed with him,

9. And he opened the great gates in the darkness shrouded.

10. The fastenings were strong on the left and right.

11. In its mass, (i. e., the lower chaos,) he made a boiling.

12. The god Uru (the moon) he caused to rise out, the night he overshadowed,

13. To fix it also for the light of the night until the shining of the day.

14. That the month might not be broken, and in its amount be regular,

15. At the beginning of the month, at the rising of the night,

16. His (the sun's) horns are breaking through to shine on the heavens.

17. On the seventh day to a circle he begins to swell,

18. And stretches toward the dawn further,

19. When the god Shamas, (the in the horizon of heaven, in the east,

20 . . . . formed beautifully and . . .

21 . . . . to the orbit Shamas was perfected."

{p. 225}

Here the tablet becomes illegible. The meaning, however, seems plain:

Although to left and right, to east and west, the darkness was fastened firm, was dense, yet "the great gods opened the great gates in the darkness," and let the light through. First, the moon appeared, through a "boiling," or breaking up of the clouds, so that now men were able to once more count time by the movements of the moon. On the seventh day, Shamas, the sun, appeared; first, his horns, his beams, broke through the darkness imperfectly; then he swells to a circle, and comes nearer and nearer to perfect dawn; at last he appeared on the horizon, in the east, formed beautifully, and his orbit was perfected; i. e., his orbit could be traced continuously through the clearing heavens.

But how did the human race fare in this miserable time?

In his magnificent poem "Darkness," Byron has imagined such a blind and darkling world as these legends depict; and he has imagined, too, the hunger, and the desolation, and the degradation of the time.

We are not to despise the imagination. There never was yet a great thought that had not wings to it; there never was yet a great mind that did not survey things from above the mountain-tops.

If Bacon built the causeway over which modern science has advanced, it was because, mounting on the pinions of his magnificent imagination, he saw that poor struggling mankind needed such a pathway; his heart embraced humanity even as his brain embraced the universe.

The river which is a boundary to the rabbit, is but a landmark to the eagle. Let not the gnawers of the world, the rodentia, despise the winged creatures of the upper air.

{p. 226}

Byron saw what the effects of the absence of the sunlight would necessarily be upon the world, and that which he prefigured the legends of mankind tell us actually came to pass, in the dark days that followed the Drift.

He says:

"Morn came, and went—and came, and brought no day, And men forgot their passions in the dread Of this their desolation, and all hearts Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light. . . . A fearful hope was all the world contained; Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour They fell and faded,—and the crackling trunks Extinguished with a crash,—and all was black. The brows of men by the despairing light Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits The flashes fell upon them; some lay down And bid their eyes and wept; and some did rest Their chins upon their clinchd hands and smiled; And others hurried to and fro, and fed Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up With mad disquietude on the dull sky, The pall of a past world; and then again With curses cast them down upon the dust, And gnashed their teeth and howled. . . . And War, which for a moment was no more, Did glut himself again—a meal was bought With blood, and each sat sullenly apart, Gorging himself in gloom, . . . and the pang Of famine fed upon all entrails;—men Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh The meager by the meager were devoured, Even dogs assailed their masters."

How graphic, how dramatic, how realistic is this picture! And how true!

For the legends show us that when, at last, the stones and clay had ceased to fall, and the fire had exhausted itself, and the remnant of mankind were able to dig their way out, to what an awful wreck of nature did they return.

{p . 227}

Instead of the fair face of the world, as they had known it, bright with sunlight, green with the magnificent foliage of the forest, or the gentle verdure of the plain, they go forth upon a wasted, an unknown land, covered with oceans of mud and stones; the very face of the country changed—lakes, rivers, hills, all swept away and lost. They wander, breathing a foul and sickening atmosphere, under the shadow of an awful darkness, a darkness which knows no morning, no stars, no moon; a darkness palpable and visible, lighted only by electrical discharges from the abyss of clouds, with such roars of thunder as we, in this day of harmonious nature, can form no conception of. It is, indeed, "chaos and ancient night." All the forces of nature are there, but disorderly, destructive, battling against each other, and multiplied a thousand-fold in power; the winds are cyclones, magnetism is gigantic, electricity is appalling.

The world is more desolate than the caves from which they have escaped. The forests are gone; the fruit-trees are swept away; the beasts of the chase have perished; the domestic animals, gentle ministers to man, have disappeared; the cultivated fields are buried deep in drifts of mud and gravel; the people stagger in the darkness against each other; they fall into the chasms of the earth; within them are the two great oppressors of humanity, hunger and terror; hunger that knows not where to turn; fear that shrinks before the whirling blasts, the rolling thunder, the shocks of blinding lightning; that knows not what moment the heavens may again open and rain fire and stones and dust upon them.

God has withdrawn his face; his children are deserted; all the, kindly adjustments of generous Nature are gone. God has left man in the midst of a material world without law; he is a wreck, a fragment, a lost particle,

{p. 228}

in the midst of an illimitable and endless warfare of giants.

Some lie down to die, hopeless, cursing their helpless gods; some die by their own bands; some gather around the fires of volcanoes for warmth and light—stars that attract them from afar off; some feast on such decaying remnants of the great animals as they may find projecting above the dbris, running to them, as we shall see, with outcries, and fighting over the fragments.

The references to the worship of "the morning star," which occur in the legend, seem to relate to some great volcano in the East, which alone gave light when all the world was lost in darkness. As Byron says, in his great poem, "Darkness":

And they did live by watch-fires—and the thrones, The palaces of crownd kings—the huts, The habitations of all things which dwell, Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed, And men were gathered round their blazing homes To look once more into each other's face; Happy were they who dwelt within the eye Of the volcanoes and their mountain-torch."

In this pitiable state were once the ancestors of all mankind.

If you doubt it, reader, peruse again the foregoing legends, and then turn to the following Central American prayer, the prayer of the Aztecs, already referred to on page 186, ante, addressed to the god Tezcatlipoca, himself represented as a flying or winged serpent, perchance the comet:

"Is it possible that this lash and chastisement are not given for our correction and amendment, but only for our total destruction and overthrow; that the sun will never more shine upon us, but that we must remain in perpetual darkness? . . . It is a sore thing to tell how we are all in

{p. 229}

darkness. . . . O Lord, . . . make an end of this smoke and fog. Quench also the burning and destroying fire of thine anger; let serenity come and clearness," (light); "let the small birds of thy people begin to sing and approach the sun."

There is still another Aztec prayer, addressed to the same deity, equally able, sublime, and pathetic, which it seems to me may have been uttered when the people had left their biding-place, when the conflagration had passed, but while darkness still covered the earth, before vegetation had returned, and while crops of grain as yet were not. There are a few words in it that do not answer to this interpretation, where it refers to those "people who have something"; but there may have been comparative differences of condition even in the universal poverty; or these words may have been an interpolation of later days. The prayer is as follows:

"O our Lord, protector most strong and compassionate, invisible and impalpable, thou art the giver of life; lord of all, and lord of battles. I present myself here before thee to say some few words concerning the need of the poor people of none estate or intelligence. When they lie down at night they have nothing, nor when they rise up in the morning; the darkness and the light pass alike in great poverty. Know, O Lord, that thy subjects and servants suffer a sore poverty that can not be told of more than that it is a sore poverty and desolateness. The men have no garments, nor the women, to cover themselves with, but only certain rags rent in every part, that allow the air and the cold to pass everywhere.

"With great toil and weariness they scrape together enough for each day, going by mountain and wilderness seeking their food; so faint and enfeebled are they that their bowels cleave to their ribs, and all their body reechoes with hollowness, and they walk as people affrighted, the face and body in likeness of death. If they be merchants, they now sell only cakes of salt and broken

{p. 230}

pepper; the people that have something despise their wares, so that they go out to sell from door to door, and from house to house; and when they sell nothing they sit down sadly by some fence or wall, or in some corner, licking their lips and gnawing the nails of their hands for the hunger that is in them; they look on the one side and on the other at the mouths of those that pass by, hoping peradventure that one may speak some word to them.

"O compassionate God, the bed on which they lie down is not a thing to rest upon, but to endure torment in; they draw a rag over them at night, and so sleep; there they throw down their bodies, and the bodies of children that thou hast given them. For the misery that they grow up in, for the filth of their food, for the lack of covering, their faces are yellow, and all their bodies of the color of earth. They tremble with cold, and for leaness they stagger in walking. They go weeping and sighing, and full of sadness, and all misfortunes are joined to them; though they stay by afire, they find little heat."[1]

The prayer continues in the same strain, supplicating God to give the people "some days of prosperity and tranquillity, so that they may sleep and know repose"; it concludes:

"If thou answerest my petition it will be only of thy liberality and magnificence, for no one is worthy to receive thy bounty for any merit of his, but only through thy grace. Search below the dung-hills and in the mountains for thy servants, friends, and acquaintance, and raise them to riches and dignities." . . .

"Where am I? Lo, I speak with thee, O King; well do I know that I stand in an eminent place, and that I talk with one of great majesty, before whose presence flows a river through a chasm, a gulf sheer down of awful depth; this, also, is a slippery place, whence many precipitate themselves, for there shall not be found one without error before thy majesty. I myself, a man of little understanding and lacking speech, dare to address

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse