Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/161

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should restore the golden age; and a distinct record of the destruction of the world by water, and of the preservation of one family, from whom, of course, each, in his own fashion, derived its own progeniture. In all, in a greater or less degree, you detect that craving after something beyond human reason, which may serve as a guide; a craving which, at the same time that it is the most fertile source of credulous and superstitious belief, is sufficient to prove the absolute necessity of a Divine revelation, and the impracticability of man's dwelling in content upon earth without one. Further, by the traditional histories of the people inhabiting Central America, you are carried forward, in a most extraordinary manner, to the events attending the building of the tower of Babel, and the subsequent scattering of the human race.[1]

But here, it has generally been considered, that all consistent analogies cease; and it would certainly appear that as, after the deluge, the human race lived together for five hundred years as one great family, subject to the same practices and superstitions, cultivating the same arts and sciences, and having one common tradition and history, so, after the dispersion, they spread in different bands over the face of the globe, carrying with them the knowledge, science, and so forth, which, till then, had been common to all, and which was certainly the base upon which the founders of nations in the Old World afterward built their several systems, civil and religious.

It is perfectly comprehensible for the rest, that the principal features in the traditions of the Americans, whether barbarous or demi-civilized, should be continual

  1. "The people of Mechoachan preserved a tradition, that Coxcox, whom they call Tezpi, embarked in a spacious vessel with his wife, children, various animals and vegetables, whose use was important to man. After the waters began to decrease, Tezpi sent out from his ark a vulture, to ascertain the state of the waters, but this bird, which feeds on carrion, did not return to him, in consequence of the number of dead bodies which were to be found everywhere strewed on the earth. Tezpi sent out other birds, of which the humming bird alone returned, holding in its beak a branch covered with leaves. Tezpi seeing that the earth had begun to produce vegetation, left his vessel near the mountain of Colhuacan."—Humboldt, Res. ii. 65.