ePub 版

the lady he is engaged to marry, he is so careful to shelter her from a drop of rain. No, I see her enter her door; it is my good neighbor Miss — ; she is one of the excellent of the earth, but she is poor, old, and forsaken by all, but the few who seek for those whom others forget. She has no beauty, no celebrity, there is no eclat in noticing her; there are those who will even laugh at him for his attentions to her.

Stranger than all! there are two men, violent opponents in religion and politics, walking arm in arm with each other. The Calvinist extends to him whom he considers his erring and even sinful and lost brother, the same kindness that he would to his dearest friend. He whom he has viewed almost as an enemy, is sick; and he tries to protect him from the shower, while he exposes himself to it; see he takes off his own cloak and puts it on him, he remembers oniy that he is a sick man.

What does all this mean? is it the festival of charity ? Whence is this holy stillness? What day is it?

It is the Lord's day? All these people are returning from the house of prayer. It is this thought that makes the laughing girl restrain her gaiety, and teaches her steps to keep time with her infirm old friend. The sinful old man abstains from his vicious habit out of reverence for this holy day; he has lost his son too; and sorrow, and the weight of an evil conscience have driven him to the mercy seat; and they who despised his drunkenness, reverence his misery. The lady who had led the little child so tenderly to her poor mother's door, was a teacher in a Sunday school; the book she gave her tells her of the wisdom and goodness of God; she has awakened in her little pupil's soul that principle which shall never die; and taught her how she may be a messenger of peace and joy to-her poor sick mother.

It is the influence of this blessed day that makes the usually frivolous and thoughtless prefer a work of charity to the gratification of vanity.

It is the Sabbath day, that in spite of all opposing doctrines, with its calm and elevated duties and holy repose, subdues animosity, lays the restless spirit of vanity, checks habitual vice, and awakens all the charities and sweet courtesies of life.

This is the true rest of the Sabbath; the rest from vanity, from contention, from sin. This is the true preaching, the practice of christian duties, the performance of works of love, the exercise of the holiest affections of our nature; this is the true service of God, doing good to his human family; this is the true knowledge of him, that we love one another.”

Doubtless the instructions from the pulpit, do, in many instances, enlighten the ignorant, quicken the languid and the cold hearted, and alarm or persuade the sinful and the erring ; and on this account alone, the day is a great good, and should be welcomed. But were any one doubtful of the blessing that attends it, I would not reason with him, but I would, if it were possible, lead him, when he knew not what day it was, where he could witness, as I have, such a scene as I have just described ; and when he exclaimed, “What does it all mean? What day is it?” I would simply answer, “ It is the Sabbath day."


[ocr errors]

“There may be no such ruins in America, as are to be found in Europe, or in Asia, or in Africa ; but other ruins there are of prodigious magnitude.

John Neal.

The remains of antiquity which are spread over the great vallies of the Ohio and Mississippi, cannot fail to arrest the attention of the intelligent and observant traveller. They carry him back, in imagination, to those remote ages, when this fertile region was inhabited by a people now extinct, of whom tradition has preserved no account. If he does not behold the broken columns, and the mouldering ruins of splendid palaces and. magnificent temples, like those which adorned the banks of the Nile, the plains of Greece, and the seven hills of the “ Eternal City”_ruins which still shadow forth the magnificent wealth and power of the people by whom they were erected; his eye, nevertheless, rests upon the works of past ages, which speak in silent but expressive language of extinct nations. They speak of a people who, perhaps, were once mighty in power, and who proudly rejoiced in their strength; who, perhaps, could boast of warriors and statesmen, of orators and poets. But they have passed away; the place that has known them will know them no more; their glory has departed, and their history is lost in the oblivion of ages.

These great works, the ruins of which are now only to be seen, were probably constructed in the proud hope, that the

fame of the people by whom they were erected, would be transmitted to future ages, and tell of their glory and renown. How vain the hope! If they ever bore any records of past history-of the warlike exploits of heroes, or the civic honors of statesmen, the destroying hand of time has obliterated the characters, and not all the efforts and researches of the antiquary have been able to restore them. By what people they were erected, and what were the purposes of their erection, are now matters of speculation or conjecture. A number of able men, who have devoted much time to antiquarian research, have endeavored to draw aside the veil, and penetrate the mystery which surrounds them, but their labors in this respect have been fruitless. They have labored zealously, and produced ingenious theories, but the mystery is almost as profound as ever, and is likely to remain so.

In the present article I do not mean to advance a new theory, or controvert any theories which have been already maintained. To attempt either, did I even consider myself qualified for the task, would lead to a vast field of enquiry and investigation, foreign to my present object. That the people by whom the works before us were erected, were numerous and powerful, and considerably advanced in the knowledge of the useful arts, will scarcely be questioned by any who have at all investigated the subject. None but a numerous people who were governed by established laws, and were under the influence of commanding power, could have constructed mounds, or erected fortifications, of such magnitude and extent. Works which exhibit proofs of immense labor, and display a considerable degree of skill in their construction, are inconsistent with the free and uncontrolled habits, and opposed to the manners, customs, and mode of life, of the native tribes who roamed through our forests when this continent was discovered by Columbus. Addicted to a wandering life, divided into small and independent tribes, and contented with a bare subsistance for the present, without reference to the future, such men, under such circumstances, never could have engaged in works requiring so much time and labor in their construction. They are evidently the productions of a people of settled habits, who lived in cities, and congregated together for mutual support and defence. The immense cemetries which have been discovered at Grave Creek, near Wheeling, at the “Big Bone Bank” on the Wabash, and other places, indicate that this people lived in cities, or in large communities, and that the population of the valley of the Ohio, was once as dense, if not more so, than it is at present. In some of these

cemetries thousands of bodies have been thrown together, and covered with a mound of earth; in others they include a considerable space of ground, and the bodies have been interred in graves after our own manner. Near Nashville, in the state of Tennessee, a cemetry of the latter description may yet be


apex with

The mounds are the most substantial and enduring monuments of the aborigines, and the most striking in their

general features. They are of various dimensions, varying from eight or ten feet to one hundred feet in height, and from fifty or sixty to five or six hundred feet in circumference.

Some are circular, and form regular cones: some are oblong; and others hexagonal, and carried up froin the base to the

perfect regularity and geometrical precision. Mounds of the latter description are of rare occurrence; the most remarkable and interesting monument of this kind, of which I have any knowledge, is situated within the limits of the town of Flor. ence, in the state of Alabama, which will be hereafter described. This monument of ancient skill and labor I have contemplated with admiration; although much injured by the hand of time, its original form is perfectly preserved.

Some mounds have platforms or pavements, fronting the east, as that within the circular enclosure at Circleville, as described by Atwater in his valuable and interesting memoir on the “Antiquities of Ohio"; the greater number, however, have no similar appendages. These mounds, so different in form and size, were no doubt constructed for different purposes, but the purposes to which they were applied are wholly matters of conjecture, and will probably ever remain so. have been erected to commemorate some great event in the nation's history; others as monuments to the mighty dead whose remains repose beneath, awaiting the assembly of nations, when the notes of the last trumpet shall sound. Some may have been intended as watch towers, or places of defence; others as places for the public worship of their deities. However'doubtful or uncertain we may be with regard to the design of all, that some were depositories of the dead is clearly established by the number of human bones discovered on opening them : that at Grave Creek was found to contain sev. eral thousand human skeletons.

The ancient works which are supposed to have been originally constructed for fortifications, or places of defence, are extremely numerous, and are to be found on almost all the rivers of the West, and in the most eligible positions, and in the midst of extensive bodies of fertile lands. “The most nu

Some may

merous,” says Breckenridge, “as well as the most considerable of these remains, are found precisely in those parts of the country, where the traces of a numerous population might be looked for," and hence he infers, and not without reason, that in ancient times cities have existed containing several hundred thousand souls. To some minds this may appear like the wild speculation of an enthusiastic antiquary; but, as before suggested, the remains themselves clearly indicate the existence of a dense and numerous population.

The fortifications, or places of defence, were planned with a skill that would not discredit the most experienced engineer of the present day. They appear to have been aptly fitted to resist the various modes of attack, which we may suppose to have been practised at a period when the use of firearms was unknown, and when men engaged in battle fought hand to hand. The most assailable points were skilfully guarded. The curious reader, by referring to Atwater's “Antiquities of Ohio," will obtain a much more clear and accurate idea of the character and design of these ancient works, than any description in mere words.

These ancient works are not confined to a particular section of the Western country; they are found throughout the whole valley, upon almost every river or large water course that empties into the Ohio or Mississippi. In Tennessee and Alabama they are as numerous as in Ohio or Kentucky. One of the most remarkable in the former state, is what is called


Situated in Franklin county, on a point of land at the junction of the east and west branches of Duck river, and near the main road leading from Nashville to Winchester.

This fort includes in its area about thirty-two acres. The walls are composed of stones of various sizes collected from the surface of the surrounding country, and rudely thrown together; there is no appearance of their having been united by cement, nor do they exhibit any marks of the hammer. The walls E E, which are covered with a coat of earth from one to two feet thick, are about sixteen feet in thickness at the base, about five feet at the top, and from eight to ten feet high.

At the northern extremity, near the front wall, are two con

* The annexed plan of the Stone Fort was drawn by Wm. Donnoson, Esq., formerly of Tennessee.

« 上一頁繼續 »