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80 stiff and stark in their bones.
What right they had in these old places,
Sacred to dead men of a race they knew not ?
And oh 1 the white laughters,
The wicked malice of the white laoghters

Which they laughed at me.
With their ghastly teeth, in answer I
Was never mockery half so dismal I
As if it w^re none of my business.
Nor was it ; save that I liked grimly to plague them,

To taunt them with their barbarity,
That they could not so much as dig their own graves.
But must needs go break those of the dead race,
Their hx superiors, and masters in craft and lore I
And bury themselves there, just out of sight.
Where the vulture's beak could peck them.
Were he so obscenely minded, ♦

And the wolf could serape them up with his foot.

Curious for consideration
All this with its dumb recordings I

Very suggestive also,
The meeting of him, the first-bom.

Who lived before the rainbow
Burst from the womb of the snndoud.
In the Bible days of the Deluge —

The meeting very suggestive
Of him, with the red Winnebago,
Such immemorial ages,

Cartooned with mighty empires.

Lying outstretched between them.
He, the forerunner of cities



TOL. V. — 86



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122 The M(yand Builder.

— ^His moandi their type and rudiment—
And he, the fag-end of creation,
Meaningless sonlptore of journeymen,
Doomed to the curse of extinction*
Corions, also, that I,
An islander from far-off Britain
Shonld meet them.
Or, the rode scrolls of them,
Both together in these wilds,
Round about the region of the Black River,
Cheek by Jowl in a graye.

Who was the builder of the grave t
A primitiye man, no doubt.
Of the stone era, it may be.
For of stone are his implements,
And not of metal-work, nor the device of fire.
He may have burrowed for lead
And dug out copper ore.
Dark-green as with emerald rust, from the mines
Long since forsaken, and but newly found '
By the delvers at Mineral Point.
He, or his subsequents, issue of him,
I know not ; and, soothe to say.
Shall never know.

Neither wilt thou ever know
Anything of me, old Mound Builder 1
Of the race of Americans, nothing.
Who now, and ever henceforth.
Own, and shall own, this continent t
Heirs of the vast wealth of time
Since thou from the same land departed ;
New thinkers, new builders, creators
Of life, and the scafEblds of life,
• For far-off grand generations 1

This skull which I handle !—
How long has the soul left it tenantless t
And what did the soul do in its house,

When this roof covered it ?
Many things, many wonderfrd things 1

It wrote its primeval history
In earthworks and fortifications.
In animal forms and pictures.
In symbols of unknown meaning.

I know fix>m the uncouth hieroglyphs,
And the more finished records.
That this soul had a religion.

Temples, and priests, and altars :
I think the life-giver, the sun.



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The Mound Builder, 628

Was the god nnto whom he sacrificed.

I think that the moon and stars
Were the lesser gods of his worship ;
And that the old serpent of Eden
Came in for a share of devotion.

I find many forms of this reptile,
Scattered along the prairies,
Coiled on the banks of the rivers,
In Iowa, and far Minnesota,
And here and there, in Wisconsin.
Now he is circular,
Gnawing his tail, like the Greek symbol,
Saggesting infinite meanings
Unto the mind of a modem
Crammed with the olden mythologies.

Now, uncoiled in the sunlight.
He stretches himself out at full length
In all his undulate longitude.
His body is a constellation of mounds.

Artfully imitative.
From the &tal tail to the more &tal head.
Overgrown they are with grass.
Short, green grass, thick and velvety,

Like well cared-for lawns.
With strange, wild fiowers glittering,

Made up of alien mould
Brought hither from distant regions.

Curiously I have considered them.

Many a time in the summer,
Lying beside them under the flaming sky,
Smoking an old tobacco pipe.
Made by one of these moundsmen.
Who in his time had smoked it.
Perchance over the council fire.
Or in the dark woods where he had gone a-hunting ;
In war time— in peaceful evenings,
With his squaw by his side.
And his brood of dusky papposins
Playing about in the twilight
Under the awfhl star-shadows.

It seemed that I was very close to him, at such times ;
And that his thick-ribbed Hps,
— Gone to dust for unknown centuries—
Had met mine inscrutably,
V By a magic hid in the pipestem.

Making me his familiar and hail fellow.
Almost I felt his breath,



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624 The Mound Bnild&r.

And the muffled sound of his heart-beats ;
Ahnost I gnsped his hand.
And shook the antediluyiaD,

With a shake of grimmest fellowship

Trying to cozen him of his grim secret
But sudden the gusty wind came,
Laughing away the illusion,

And I was alone in the desert.

If he could only wake up now,
And confront me — that ancient salvage I
Resurgated, with his faculties
All quick about him, and his memories,

What an unheard-of powwow
Could I report to you, O friends of mine I
Who look for some revelation,
Some hint of the strange apocalypse,
Which the wit of this man, living
So near to the prime of the morning.
So near to the gates of the azure.
The awful gates of the Unseen —
Whence all that is seen proceeded —
Hath wrought in this new-found country !
I wonder if he would remember
Anything about the Land of the Immortals.
Something he would surely find
In the deeps of his consciousness
To wake up a dim reminiscence.
Dreamy shadows might haunt him,
Shadows of beautiful faces, and of terrible ;
Large, lustrous eyes, full of celestial meanings,
Looking up at him, beseeching him.
From unfathomable abysses,
With glances which were a language.
The finalest secrets and mysteries.
Behind every sight, and sound, and color.
Behind all motions, and harmonies.
Which floated round about him.
Archetypes of the phenomenal t

Or, it might be, that coming suddenly in his mind
Upon some dark veil, as of Isis,
He lifts it with a key-thought,
Or the sudden memory of an arcane sign.

And beholds the gardens of Living Light,
The starry platform, palaces, and thrones—
The vast colossi, the intelligences
Moving to and fro over the flaming causeways
Of the kingdoms beyond the gates —
The infinite arches
And the stately pillars,



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2%e Matmd Builder. SSi

Upbuilt with sapphire smis
And illnminated with emerald and rnby stars,
Making cathedrals of immensity
For the everlasting worship without words.

All, or some, of the wondrous, impenetrable picture-land :
The crimson seas,
Flashing in uncreated light.
Crowded with galleons
On a mission to ports where dwdl the old gods
And the mighty intellects of the Immortals.
The ceaseless occupations,
The language and the lore ;
The arts, and thoughts, the music, and the instruments ;
The beauty and the divine glory of the faces.
And how the Immortals love.
Whether they wed like Adamites,
Or are too happy to wed,
Living in single blessedness !
Well, I know it is rubbish.
The veriest star-dust of fkncy.
To think of such a thing as this
Being a memorial heirloom of the fore-world,

Buch rude effigies of men.
Such clodbralns, as these poor mound builders I

Their souls never had any priority in the life of them ;
No background of eternity
Over which they had traversed

From eon to eon.
Sun-system to sun-system,
Planets and stars under them.
Planets and stars over them ;
Now dwelling on immeasurable plains of azure
Bigger than space.
Dazzling with the super-tropical brightness

Of passionate flowers without a name.
In all the romance of color and beauty —
Now, in the cities celestial,
Where they made their acquaintances
"Vrith other souls, which had never been incarnated,
But were getting themselves ready
By an intuitive obedience
To a well-understood authority.
Which had never spoken,
To take upon themselves the living form
Of some red-browed, fire-eyed Mars-man,
Some pale-faced, languishing son
Of the Phalic planet Venus,
Or wherever else it might be.



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eS6 The Mmund Budder.

In what lemoto ster iociT«r
Qmyering ob tliAdowy IwttkiiMnta,
Akmg the listt of the wUdenieeSy
Of werids bcgFWid wmMs

These souls were to try their fortimcft.

Sarely, no experience of this sort

Erer happened unto them,
Although one would like to inrest them
With the glory of it, for the sake of the sooL
But they were, to speak truth of them,
A sort of journeyman work.
Not a Phidian statuary.
But a first cast of man,
A rude draft of him ;
Huge gulfis as of dismal Tartarus,
Separating him AtMn the high-bom Caucasian.
He, a mere Mongoliaa,
As good, perhaps, in his faculties.
As any Jap. or Chinaman —
But not of the fhll-orbed brain.
Star-blown, and harmonious
With all sweet yoices as of flutes in him.
And viols, bassoons, and organs ;
Capai>le of the depths and circumferences of thought,
Of sphynxine entertainments.
And the dramas of life and death.

A plain fellow, and a practical,

With picture in him and symbol.
And thus not altogether clay-made,
But touched with the fire of the rainbow.

And the finger of the first light,
Waiting for the second and the third light,
Expectant through the ages.
And disappointed ;
Never receiving more.
But going down, at last, a dark man,
And a lonely, through the dark galleries
Of death, and behind the curtain
Where all is light.

I like to think of him, and see his works :
I like to read him in his mounds.
And think I can make out a good deal of his history.
He was a half-dumb man.
Very sorrowful to see,
But brave, nevertheless, and bravely

Struggling to fiing out his thoughts,
In a kind of dumb speech ;



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The Mound Bmlder. 597



Straggling, indeed^ aft
Dndattan fbmu, and eloquence ;
AmbitioQi of distingolBhing bimsdf
In the preeence of wolTes and bisons

And all organic cr ea tu ree ;
Of making bis claim good
Against these, his nifiHit ^iqratants,

That be was lord of the planet. ^

If he conld not ^^te books,
He could scrawl the earth with his record :

He could make hieroglyphs,
Constellations of mounds and animals.
Effigies of unnamable things.
Monsters, and hybrids unnatural.
Bred of grotesque fancies ; and man-forms.
These last, none of your pigmies
A span long in the womb.
And six feet, at fhU growth, out of it —
But bigger in chest and paunch,
In the girth of his muscular shackle-bones,
Round his colossal shoulders,
Round his Memnonian countenance,
Over the dome of his skuU-crypts —
From crown to foot of his body —
Than grimmest of old Welsh giants.
Grimmest of Araby ogres !

Many a time talking with gray hunters.

Who leaned on their rifles against a teee.

And made the bright landscape

And the golden morning fliller of gold and brightness

By the contrast of their ftirrowed &ces,

Their shaggy eyebrows.
And the gay humor laughing in their eyes.
Their unkempt locks, their powder horns, and buskins,
And the wild attire, in general, of their persons —
Many a time have I heard them
Tell of these man-efl3gies
Lying prone on the floors of the prairie.
And, in my whim for correspondence,
And perpetual seeking after identities,
I have Ukraed them to the stone sculptures, in cathedrals.
Cut by pious hands out of black marble.
Memorial resemblances of holy abbots,
Of Christian knights, founders of religious houses,
Of good lords of fair manors,
Who left largess to these houses.
Beneficed the arched wine-cellars
With yeariy butts of canary,
Ot^ during their lifetime,



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628 The Mound Builder.

Beautified the wett fixmt with stately windoilrs
Of colored ghMs, emblasoned with Scriptore stories.
The sunlight in shadowy reiections paintiBg tlie figures
With blue and gold and crimson
Upon the cold slabs of the parement

These efl9gies, stiff, fomal^
VRudely fiwhioned, and of poor art,
All of them lying, black and stark.
Like a corpse-pageant^ Tisioned in some monk^s dream,
Lying thus, in tiie transq>ts.
On the cold, gray floor of the cathedraL

A curious conceit, truly I
But the prairie is also consecrated,
And quite as sacred I think it
As Rome's most holy of holies*
It blossoms and runs orer with rdigion.
These meek and beautiful flowers !
What sweet thoughts and diTine prayers are in them 1
These song l^rds t what anthems of praise
Gush out of their ecstatic throats !
I pray you, also, tell me.
What floors, sacred to what dead,
Can compare with the elaborate mosaic work
Of this wide, yast, outstretching floor of grass t

As good a place, I take it.
For the mound builder to make his man-effigies
Out of the mould in,
As the cathedral is, for its artists .
To make man-efflgies out of the black marble !
And the thought, too, is the same I
The thought of the primeyal savage of the stone era,
Roaming about in these wilds.
Before tiie beautifhl Christ
Made the soul more beautifbl.
Revealed the terror of its divine forces,

Announced its immortality.
And was nailed on a tree for His goodness !
While the monk, therefore, lay yet in tiie pagan brain,
And Time had not so much as thought
Of sowing the seed for his coming —
WhUe his glorious cathedral, which, as we now know it,
Is an epic poem built in immortal stone,
Had no archetype except in the dreams of Ood,
Dim hints of it, lying like hopeless runes
In the forest trees and arches.
Its ornamentations in the snow drifts, and the summer leaves and flowers —
No doubt, the mound-builder's man, put in effigy on the prairie,
Had been a benefoctor, in his way and time ;
Or, a great warrior ; or learned teacher



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2%e Mound Builder. m

Of thiagB tjmboliaed in oorttin moimd^groaps,

And wMoh, ftom their AmmgeBMBt,
ApperUin, it would seem, to m^BteiieB,

And ghostiy commmiications.
They thought to ka^ green hit memoiy,
The worship of him and his good deeds,
Unto ihe end of time,
■nuongfaoat all generations.
The holy men, bom of Ohrist,
AU Christendom bnt the derelopment of him,

And all the world his debtor ;
Even Qod owing him more largely
Than He has thought fit to pay back.
Taking the immense credit
Of nigh two thousand years !
These holy men, so bom and cultnfied.
Could think of no way wiser.
Of no securer method
Of preserying the memory of their saints.
And of those who did good to them,
Than this rade, monumental way of the savage.
80 singular is man,
80 old-fiBtahioned his thinkings.
So wonderM and similar his sympathies !
Ererywhere the same, with a difference ;
Cast in the same moulds.
Of the same animal wants, and common mind.
Of the same passions and vices.
Hating, loving, killing, lying —
A vast electrical chun
Running through tradition, and auroral history,
Up through the twilights.
And blazing noons.
Through vanishing and returning twilights,
Through azure nights of stars —
Epochs of civilization —
Unto the calmer glory.
Unto the settled days.

Unto the noble men —
Ktmc form<m$$imu$ anntts ! ^

Thus do I, flinging curiously the webs of fiincy
Athwart the time-gul6, and the ages.
Reconcile, after a kind, the primitive savage of America
inth the wonderfbl genealogies —
Upsprung from the vital sap
Of the great life-tree, Igdrasil !
Thick and populous nations
Heavily bending its branches.
Each in its autumn time of one or two thousand years,
like ripe fruits, Ailly developed and perfected,



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iSO The Jfound Builder.

From the germ whenoe they jHrooeeded ;
Nourished by strong sapt of -vitality,
By the red, rich Uood of matured centuries,
By passionate Semitic soBlighti ;
BeautiM as the golden apples of the Heqierides t
Sadiating, also, a divine beauty,

The fiower-blossom and the aroma,
The final music, of a ripe hamanity,
Whereof each particular nation
Was in its way and turn
The form and the expression.

Grand autumns were some of them t
Grand and beautiful, like that of Greece,
Whose glorious consummation always reminds me
Of moving statues, music, and richest painting and architecture :
Her landscapes shimmering in golden fire-mists.
Which hang over the wondrously colored woods.
In a dreamy haze of splendor ;
Revealing arched avenues, and tiny glades.
Cool, quiet spots, and dim recesses,
Green swards, and floral fairy lands.
Sweeping to the hilltops ;
Illuminating the rivers in their gladsome course,
And the yellow shadows of the rolling marshes.
And the cattle of the former as they stand knee-deep
Switching their tails by the shore ;
Lighting up the singing faces,
The sweet, laughing, singing faces.

Of the merry, playf\il brooks,
Now running away over shallows,
Now into gurgling eddies ;
Now under £&llen trees.
Past bearer dams long des^ted ;
Now under shady banks,
Lost in the tangled wood-growths ;
Quivering now with their lau^ter,
Out in the open meadow,
Flovring, singing and laughing.
Over the weeds and rushes,
Flovring and singing forever I

Plastic and beautiful, and running over
With Schiller's ' play impulse,' was the genius of Greece,
Of which her institutions and civility were the embodiment.
Other autumn times of the nations
Were calm and peaceful.
Symbolized above, as fruit on the branches
Of the life-tree, Igdrasil I
And when tiieir time came,
They dropped down silently,



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Tke Mound BuUddT. , 581

Like apples from their boughs on the aQtnmn grass ;

Silently dropped down, on moonlight plains,
In the presence of the great company of the stars,

And the flaming constellations,
Which eyermore keep solemn watch oyer their grayes.
Others were blown off suddenly,
And prematurely — all the elements enraged against them ;
And others, like the Dead Sea fhiit,
Were rotten at the heart before their piime !

The old mound builder stands at the base of the tree,
At the base of the wonderful tree Igdrasil,
And the mighty branches thereof.
Which hang oyer his head in flame-shadows,
(terminated, and blossomed with nations.
In other lands, in another hemisphere
Far away, oyer the measureless brine.
From the mother earth where he was planted,
Where he grew and flourished,
And solyed the riddle of life.

And tried death.
And the riddle beyond death.

He thought this passionate America,
With its yast results of physical life,
Its beautiful and sublime portraitures,
Its far-sweeping prairies, rolling in grassy wayes
Like the green billows of an inland sea —

Its blue-robed mountains
Piercing the bluer heayens with their peaks —

Its riyers, lakes, and forests — /

A roomy, and grand-enough earth to inhabit,
Without thought of anything beyond it.

And yet he is related to all
That was, and is, and shall be !
That idea which was clothed in his flesh
Is fleshed in I know not how many
Infinite forms and yarieties,
In cyery part of the earth.
In this day of my generation. •

But the flesh is a little different.
And here and there the organism a nobler one.

And the idea bigger, broader, deeper,
Of a more diyine quality and diapason.
He is included in us, as the lesser in the greater;
All our enactments are repetitions of his ;
Enlarged and adorned ;
And we pass through all his phases.
Some time or other, in our beginnings —
Through his, and an infinity of larger ones —
And we haye the same ineyitable endings.



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633



A Univm'BcA Lcmguage.



A UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE:



ITS P088IBIL1TT. SCIENTIFIC NECKS8ITT, AND APPROPEIATK CHABACTEBISTKS.



The idea of the possibility and de-
sirableness of a uniyersal language,
scientifically constituted; a common
fonn of speech fox all the nations of
mankind ; for the remedy of the con-
ftision and the great evil of Babel, is
not wholly new. The celebrated Leib-
nitz entertained it. It was, we believe,
glanced at among the schemes of Lord
Monboddo. Bishop Wilkins devoted
years of labor to the accomplishment
of the task, and thought he had accom-
plished it. He published the results
of his labors in heavy volumes, which
have remained, as useless lumber, on
the shelves of the antiquarian, or of
those who are curious in rare books.
A young gentleman of this city, of a
rare genius, by the name of Fairbank,
who died by a tragical fate a few years
since, labored assiduously to the same
end. A society of learned men has
recently been organized in Spain, with
their headquarters at Barcelona, devot-
ed to the same work. Numerous other
attempts have probably been made.
In all these attempts, projects, and la-
bors, the design has never transcended
the purpose of Inventum, The effort
has been simply to contrive a new form
of speech, and to persuade mankind to
accept it ; — a task herculean and hope-
less in its magnitude and impractica-
bility ; but looking still in the direc-
tion of the supply of one of the greatest
needs of human improvement The
existence of no less than two or three
thousand different languages and idioms
on the surface of the planet, in this age
of railroad and steamship communica-
tion, presents, obviously, one of the
most serious obstacles to that unifica-
tion of humanity which so many con-
current indications tend, on the other
hand, to prognosticate.



Another and different outlook toward
a unity of speech for the race comes up
from a growing popular impression that
all existing languages must be ultimate-
ly and somewhat rapidly smelted into
one by the mere heat and attrition of
our intense modem international inter-
course. Each nationality is b^inning
to put forth its pretensions as the i»rop-
er and probable matrix of the new ag-
glomerate, or philological pudding-
stone, which is vaguely expected to re-
sult The English urge the commer-
cial supremacy of their tongue; the
French the coUoquial and courtly chaiv
acter of theirs; the Germans the in-
herent energy imd philosophical adap-
tation of the German ; the Spanish the
wide territOTial distribution and the
pompous euphony of that idiom ; and
so of the other nationalities.

Both invention, which is the genius
of adaptation, and the blending influ-
ence of mere intercourse, may have their
appropriate place as auxiliaries, in the
reconstruction of human speech, in ac-
cordance with the exigencies of the new
era which is dawning on the world ;
but there is anotiier and far more basic
and important element, which may,
and perhaps we may say must, appear
upon the stage, and enter into the solu-
tion. This is the element of positive
Scientific Ditco^erym the lingual do-
main. It may be found that every ele-
mentary sound of the human voice is
inherenUy laden by nature Tiertdf with
a primitive significance ; that the small
aggregate of these meanings is precisely
that handftil of the Primitive Cate-
gories of all Hiovght and all Being
which the Philosophers, from Aristotle
up to Eant, have so industriously and
painfully sought for. The germ of
this idea was incipiently and crudely



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A Universal Zanjftiaffe.



583



straggling in the mind of the late dis-
tinguished philologist, Dr. Charles
Kreitser, formerly professor of lan-
guages in the University of "Virginia,
and author of numerous yaluable ar-
ticles in Appletons' ' CyclopsBdia ; ^ the
most learned man, doubtless, that un-
fortunate Hungary has contributed to
our American body of savans. This
element of discovery may, in the end,
take the lead, and immensely pre-
ponderate in importance over the other
two factors already mentioned as par-
ticipating in the solution of a question
of a planetary language. The idea
certainly has no intrinsic improbability,
that the normal language of mankind
should be matter of discovery as the
normal music of the race has been al-
ready. There was an instinctual and
spontaneous development of music in
advance of the time when science acted
reflectively upon the elements and re-
constituted it in accordance with the
musical laws so discovered. Why may
we not, why ought we not even to ex-
pect, analogically, that the same thing
will occur for speech t

Setting aside, however, for the pres-
ent occasion, the profounder inquiry
into the inherent signiflcance of sounds,
and into all that flows logically from
that novel and recondite investigation,
we propose at present to treat in a
more superficial way the subject indi-
cated in the title of this article — ^A
Universal Language; its Possibility,
Scientiflc Necessity, and Appropriate
Characteristics.

The expansion of the scope of science
is at this day such that the demand for
discriminating technicalities exceeds



Online LibraryMaking of America ProjectThe Continental monthly → online text (page 82 of 112)