Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/111

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101
THE MEXICAN MESSIAH.

which, could have been launched quietly or obscurely, nor was there any reason why it should be. The contemplated voyage must have been a matter of public knowledge and comment in some locality; it could not have been attempted without preparations on some scale of magnitude ; and such preparations for such a purpose must have attracted at least local attention and excited local interest. It is thus reasonable to suppose that the importance and singularity of a project to cross the Atlantic for missionary purposes would have insured some record being made of the enterprise. A fortiori, if the venturesome missionary ever succeeded in returning—if he ever came back to tell of his wonderful adventures—the fact would have been chronicled by his religious confrères and made the most of then and for the benefit of future ages. It comes, therefore, to this accepting Quetzatcoatl as a Christian missionary from Europe, we have right and reason to expect that his singular and pious expedition would have been put upon record somewhere.

The next step in the inquiry is to search for the most likely part of Europe to have been the scene of the going forth and possible return of this missionary. The island of Tlapallan, according to the Mexican tradition, was the home whence he came and whither he sought to return. The name of the country affords no assistance, and it might not be safe to attach importance to its insular designation. But in looking for a country in western Europe possibly an island which from A. d. 500 to A. D. 800 might have sent out a missionary on a wild transatlantic expedition, one is soon struck with the possibility of Ireland being such a country. To the question, "Could Ireland have been the Tlapallan, or Holy Island, of the Mexican tradition?" an affirmative answer may readily be given, especially by any one who knows even a little of the ecclesiastical history of the country from A. D. 500 to A. D. 800. In that period no country was more forward in missionary enterprise. The Irish ecclesiastics shrunk from no adventures by land or sea, however desperate and dangerous, when the eternal salvation of heathen peoples was in question. On land they penetrated to all parts of the Continent, preaching the gospel of Christ and founding churches and religious establishments. On sea they made voyages for like purposes to the remotest known lands of the northern and western seas. They went as missionaries to all parts of the coast of northern Britain, and visited the Hebrides, the Orkneys, and the Shetland and Faro Islands. Even remote Iceland received their pious attention, and Christianity was established by them in that island long before it was taken possession of by the Norwegians in the eighth century.

Prima facie, then, Ireland has not only a good claim, but really