Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 26, November, 1880 online

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1880, by J. B.
LIPPINCOTT & CO., in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at


THE ARTS OF INDIA. Jennie J. Young. 521
THE MISTAKES OF TWO PEOPLE. Margaret Bertha Wright. 567
THREE ROSES. Julia C.R. Dorr. 585
HEINRICH HEINE. A. Parker. 604
DAWN. John B. Tabb. 612
MRS. MARCELLUS. Olive Logan. 613
AUTOMATISM. H.C. Wood, M.D. 627


[Illustration: HOUSE OF A MOQUI CHIEF.]

It was about seventy years before our English race gained a foothold
on the eastern coast of America that, far away in the West, the seeds
of another form of Eastern civilization began to fall upon ground
which now belongs to our national territory. In the wilderness near
the western border of New Mexico there stands a great crag, torn into
curious shapes by the wear of ages, bearing on its summit a ruined
fortress of a forgotten people and on its side hieroglyphic writing
which no one can decipher. The same smooth sandstone surface which
invited the picture-writing of the ancients has also tempted later
passers-by to perpetuate their names. A long series of inscriptions
in Spanish, begun before the first English had landed at Jamestown,
tells how explorers, conquerors, government emissaries and missionaries
of the Cross, passing that way, paused to leave their names on the
enduring rock. That imperishable monument bears record to all time that
this remotest region of our country, the last which the new life of the
nineteenth century penetrates, was the first point to be touched by
European civilization, if we except one old Florida fort. It is three
hundred and forty years since the Spaniards entered New Mexico. There,
almost at the centre of the continent, in the valleys of the Rio Grande
and Colorado, the old Spanish life has remained, as unprogressive as
a Chinese province, continuing to the middle of this century a kind
of modified feudal system. But this old declining civilization of the
South-west is new in comparison with that which the Spanish conquerors
found existing in the country when they entered it. A remnant of that
old half-civilized life lingers still, almost unchanged by contact with
white men, in the seven citadels of the Moquis perched on the high
_mesas_ of Arizona, while in the Pueblo villages of New Mexico we find
it more affected by the Spanish influence.

The attraction which drew the conquerors of Mexico forty-five days'
journey away into the North was the fame which had reached them of the
Seven Cities of Cibola (the buffalo), great in wealth and population,
lying in the valley of the Rio de Zuñi. To the grief of the invaders,
they found not cities, but rather villages of peaceful agricultural
people dwelling in great pueblos three and four stories high, and they
searched in vain for the rumored stores of gold. At that time the
pueblos held a large population skilled in many arts of civilization.
They cultivated large tracts of ground, wove fabrics of cotton and
produced ornate pottery. Their stone-masonry was admirable. But even
three hundred years ago it seems that the people were but a remnant of
what they had once been. Even then the conquerors wondered at the many
ruins which indicated a decline from former greatness. The people have
not now the same degree of skill in their native arts which the race
once had, and it is probable that when the Spaniards came and found
them declining in numbers the old handicrafts were already on the wane.

In a remote age the ancestors of these Pueblo tribes, or a race of
kindred habits, filled most of that vast region which is drained by the
Colorado River and its affluents, and spread beyond into the valley of
the Rio Grande. The explorers of a great extent of country in Utah,
Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado have found everywhere evidences of
the wide distribution and wonderful industry of that ancient people.
On the low land which they used to till lie the remains of their
villages - rectangular buildings of enormous dimensions and large
circular _estufas_, or halls for council and worship. On the sides of
the savage cliffs that wall in or overarch the cañons are scattered in
every crevice and wrinkle those strange and picturesque ruins which
give us the name "Cliff-dwellers" to distinguish this long-forgotten
people. And on commanding points, seen far away down the cañons or
across the mesas, stand the solitary watch-towers where sentinels might
signal to the villagers below on the approach of Northern barbarians.

It is only a few years since Mr. John Ruskin rejected a suggestion that
he should visit the United States, urging among other reasons that it
would be impossible for him to exist even for a short time in a country
where there are no old castles. We Americans were disposed to resent
this slap at our country, and not a few newspaper editors relieved
their minds by intimating that we could get along quite comfortably
without old castles and without Mr. Ruskin. But, after all, it is a
consolation for our national pride to know that the fault is not in
our country, but in Mr. Ruskin's ignorance of American archæology.
We have old castles without number in the Western Territories - ruined
fortifications and dwellings of an unknown antiquity, perhaps as old as
Warwick or Bangor, as impregnable as the highest cliff-built castle of
the Rhine, as grand in situation as the Drachenfels or Dover Castle.

Only the more eastern part of the great domain held by that ancient
people has yet been examined thoroughly with reference to its
antiquities. Within the last decade Mr. W H. Jackson of the United
States Geological Survey has brought to notice, by his admirable
photographs and descriptions, the remains in the cliffs and cañons
of South-western Colorado and the adjacent region. Thirty years ago
Lieutenant Simpson described the ruined pueblos of New Mexico. But
in regard to the ruins farther west, seen by Major Powell in his
headlong course down the Colorado River, and the innumerable remains
of cities, fortresses and canals mentioned by visitors to Arizona,
but little careful investigation has been made. I believe that few
richer fields for an antiquary can be found in the world than this
south-western region of our own country. I cannot doubt that a thorough
comparative examination of these remains would throw a new light upon
the relationship between the ancient and modern civilized tribes, and
upon their connection with their far more civilized Aztec neighbors of
the South. As yet, hardly an attempt at excavation has been made in the
Colorado Valley.

[Illustration: GUALPI.]

There is no other district which embraces in so small a compass so
great a number and variety of the Cliff-dwellers' ruined works as the
cañon of the Little Rio Mancos[1] in South-western Colorado. The stream
rises in a spur of the San Juan Mountains, near the remote mining-camp
called Parrott City. Flowing southward for a few miles through an open
valley, it is soon enclosed between the walls of a profound cañon
which cuts for nearly thirty miles through a tableland called the
Mesa Verde. The cañon is wide enough to permit the old inhabitants to
plant their crops along the stream, and the cliffs rising on either
side to a height of two thousand feet are so curiously broken and
grooved and shelving, from the decay of the soft horizontal strata
and the projection of the harder, as to offer remarkable facilities
for building fortified houses hard of approach and easy of defence.
Therefore the whole length of the cañon is filled with ruins, and
for fifteen miles beyond it to the borders of New Mexico, where the
river meets the Rio San Juan, the valley bears many traces of the
ancient occupation. The scenery of the cañon is wild and imposing in
the highest degree. In the dry Colorado air there are few lichens or
weather-stains to dull the brightness of the strata to the universal
hoariness of moister climates: the vertical cliffs, standing above
long slopes of débris, are colored with the brilliant tints of
freshly-quarried stone. A gay ribbon of green follows the course of the
rivulet winding down through the cañon till it is lost to sight in the
vista of crags. The utter silence and solitude of the wilderness reigns
through the valley. It is not occupied by any savage tribe, and only a
few white men within the last few years have passed through it and told
of its wonders; and yet its whole length is but one series of houses
and temples that were forsaken centuries ago. I can hardly imagine a
more exciting tour of exploration than that which Mr. Jackson's party
made on first entering this cañon in 1874.

Above the entrance of the cañon the evidences of pre-historic
life begin. On the bottom-land, concealed by shrubbery, are the
half-obliterated outlines of square and circular buildings. The houses
were of large size, and were plainly no temporary dwelling-places,
for an accumulation of decorated pottery fills the ground about them,
indicating long occupation. No doubt they were built of adobe - masses
of hard clay dried in the sun - which the wear of ages has reduced to
smoothly-rounded mounds. For some miles down the cañon remains of this
sort occur at short intervals, and at one point there stands a wall
built of squared sandstone blocks. Along the ledges of the cliffs on
the right bits of ruinous masonry are detected here and there, but for
a time there is nothing to excite close attention. At last a watchful
eye is arrested by a more interesting object perched at a tremendous
height on the western wall of the cañon. It is a house built upon a
shelf of rock between the precipices, but, standing seven hundred feet
above the stream and differing not at all in color from the crags about
it, only the sharpest eyesight can detect the unusual form of the
building and the windows marking the two stories. The climb up to the
house-platform is slow and fatiguing, but the trouble is repaid by a
sight of one of the most curious ruins on this continent. Before the
door of the house, part of the ledge has been reserved for a little
esplanade, and to make it broader three small abutments of stone, which
once supported a floor, are built on the sloping edge of the rock.
Beyond this the house is entered by a small aperture which served as a
door. It is the best specimen of a Cliff-dweller's house that remains
to our time. The walls are admirably built of squared stones laid in a
hard white mortar. The house is divided into two stories of three rooms
each. Behind it a semicircular cistern nearly as high as the house is
built against the side of it, and a ladder is arranged for descending
from an upper window to the water-level. The floor of the second story
was supported by substantial cedar timbers, but only fragments of
them remain. The roof, too, has entirely disappeared, but the canopy
of natural rock overhanging serves to keep out the weather. The front
rooms in both stories are the largest and are most carefully finished.
Perhaps they were the parlor and "best bedroom" of some pre-historic
housewife. They are plastered throughout with fine smooth mortar,
and even in that remote age the mania for household decoration had a
beginning: floor, walls and ceiling were colored a deep red, surrounded
by a broad border of white.

The same cliff on which this house stands has on its side many other
ruins - some half destroyed by gradual decay, some crushed by falling
rocks, none so perfect as the one described; but all are crowded into
the strangest unapproachable crevices of the cañon-wall, like the
crannies which swallows choose to hold their nests, far removed from
the possibility of depredation. Some are so utterly inaccessible that
the explorers, with all their enthusiasm and activity, have never been
able to reach them. How any beings not endowed with wings could live at
such points it is hard to conceive: it makes one suspicious that the
Cliff-dwellers had not quite outgrown the habits of monkey ancestors.

As the cañon widens with the descent of the stream, the ruins in the
western wall increase in number. One fearful cliff a thousand feet in
height is chinked all over its face with tiny houses of one room each,
but only a few of them can be detected with the naked eye. One, which
was reached by an explorer at the peril of his life, stands intact:
ceiling and floor are of the natural rock, and the wall is built in a
neat curve conforming to the shape of the ledge.


A mile farther down the stream there is a most interesting group of
houses. Eight hundred feet above the valley there is a shelf in the
cliff sixty feet in length that is quite covered by a house. The
building contains four large rooms, a circular sacred apartment and
smaller rooms of irregular shape. It was called by its discoverers
"The House of the Sixteen Windows." Behind this house the cliff-side
rises smooth and perpendicular thirty feet, but it can be scaled by an
ancient stairway cut into it which ascends to a still higher ledge.
The stairs lead to the very door of another house filling a niche a
hundred and twenty feet long. A great canopy of solid rock overarches
the little fortress, reaching far forward beyond the front wall, while
from below it is absolutely unapproachable except by the one difficult
stairway of niches cut in the rock. In time of war it must have been
impregnable. These dwellings have given more ideas about their interior
furnishing than any of the others. Among the accumulated rubbish were
found corn and beans stored away. In the lower house were two large
water-jars of corrugated pottery standing on a floor covered with
neatly-woven rush matting. In a house not far above were found a bin
of charred corn, and a polished hatchet of stone made with remarkable

From this point onward both the valley and the cliffs are filled with
the traces of a numerous population, every mile of travel bringing many
fresh ones into sight. Among the cliff-houses there is of necessity
a variety in form and size as great as the differences of the caves
and crevices that hold them; but among the buildings of the low
ground there is more uniformity, not only in this cañon, but in all
the valleys of the region. Most of them may be classed as aggregated
dwellings or pueblos with rectangular rooms, round watch-towers and
large circular buildings. To these must be added a few which seem to
have been built only for defence. The straight walls have generally
fallen, except the parts supported by an angle of a building; but, as
usual in old masonry, the circular walls have much better resisted

About midway down the cañon the curved wall of a large ruin rises
above the thicket. It is a building of very curious design. The outer
wall was an exact circle of heavy masonry a hundred and thirty feet in
circumference. Within, there is another circular wall, concentric with
the outer, enclosing one round room with a diameter of twenty feet.
The annular space between the two walls was divided by partitions into
ten small apartments. Other buildings of the same type occur in this
region, some of much larger size and with triple walls. Even in this
one, which is comparatively well preserved, the original height is
uncertain, though the ruin still stands about fifteen feet high. The
vast quantity of débris about some of them indicates that they were
of no insignificant height, and their perfect symmetry of form, the
careful finish of the masonry, the large dimensions and great solidity,
made them the most imposing architectural works of that ancient people.
I find no reason to doubt that they were their temples, and the
presumption is very strong that they were temples for sun-worship. The
occurrence of a circular room in connection with nearly every group of
buildings is of special interest, as seeming to link the Cliff-dwellers
to the modern Pueblo tribes in their religious customs.

Most striking and picturesque of all the ruins are the round
watch-towers. On commanding points in the valley, and on the highest
pinnacles of the cliffs overlooking the surface of the mesa, they occur
with a frequency which is almost pathetic as an indication of the
life of eternal vigilance which was led by that old race through the
years, perhaps centuries, of exterminating warfare which the savage red
men from the North waged upon them. To us the suffering of frontier
families at the hands of the same bloodthirsty savages is heartrending.
What was it to those who saw year by year their whole race's life
withering away, crushed by those wild tribes?

Near the lower end of the cañon stands one of the most perfect of these
towers, rising sixteen feet above the mound on which it is built. It
was once attached to an oblong stone building which seems to have
been a strongly-fortified house. The rectangular walls, as usual, are
prostrate, and have left the tower standing as solitary and picturesque
and as full of mystery as the round-towers of Ireland.

After the stream breaks from its long confinement out into the open
plain of the San Juan Valley the traces of old life are still abundant,
but they present no features very different from those above. At the
cañon's mouth an Indian trail strikes away toward the north-west. It
passes a remarkable group of ruins at a spot called Aztec Springs, and
continues to the McElmo, the next _arroya_, or dry stream-bed, west of
the Rio Mancos. Aztec Springs no longer deserve the name, for within
a short time the last trace of water has disappeared from the spot,
showing that the slow drying up of the great South-west country,
which has been going forward for ages, and which starved out the old
inhabitants, is still progressing. In the dry season there is no water
within many miles of this spot, though it is strewn with the remains
of stone buildings covering several acres and indicating a large
population of industrious people who must have lived by agriculture.
Until a long comparative study has been made of all the remains of this
race it is mere guesswork to estimate the age of the ruins; but when
the prostrate condition of these walls is compared with the state in
which the Chaco ruins of New Mexico are found, and when we consider
that the latter have no doubt been deserted for at least three hundred
and fifty years, it is reasonable to suppose an age of a thousand years
for these massive walls at Aztec Springs. Many other great structures
of this region, which seem to be coeval with these, are situated many
miles away from any perennial water, and the time which has elapsed
since those sites were suitable for large farming-towns must be counted
by centuries. In this group are two large quadrangular buildings with
walls still fifteen feet high, two of the circular estufas, besides a
multitude of half-distinguishable walls of dwellings. It is the largest
group of ruins in Colorado.


Not many miles beyond these so-called springs the trail leads into
the dry bed of the McElmo near its head, and another long succession
of antiquities is entered upon, but to enumerate them further would
be tedious, for the ruins of the Mancos are good representatives of
all those which are found along the courses of the Animas, La Plata,
McElmo, Montezuma, Chelley and other tributary valleys of the San Juan.
Nevertheless, there are a few buildings here and there of some unusual
interest which cannot be passed by without mention. On the verge of a
little side-cañon of the McElmo there is a curious instance of the keen
ingenuity of this people in taking every advantage of the fantastic,
castle-like shapes which Nature has formed out of the cañon-walls.
High on the edge of the mesa appears the ragged outline of a ruinous
watch-tower sharply drawn against the clear, unvarying blue of the sky.
It seems to be a tower of unusual height, but a closer view shows it
to be half of Nature's building. A tall fragment of rock, torn from
its bed, has rolled down the slope to the edge of the steep descent.
This rock the old builders have chosen to crown with a little round
tower where a sentinel, guarding the village behind him from stealthy
attacks, could command a wide sweep of country. The same thing on a
larger scale is found at another point where the dry McElmo meets with
the drier Hovenweep - a tributary without tribute. In this position
stands an enormous rock nearly cubical in shape. Its high sides make
it a natural fortress strong against an enemy without artillery, and
to its natural strength the Cliff-dwellers have added a battlement of
masonry. But among all the ruined strongholds of the region that which
is called the Legendary Rock has a pre-eminent interest on account of
the Moqui romance or tradition which clings to it. The rock is a grand
and solitary crag standing on a plateau of sandstone from which the
soil is washed away. It is far from water: a garrison must have been
dependent wholly on the very precarious rain-supply. About it runs an
outer rampart of stone, and on the rock itself is built a fortress. It
is several years since an aged member of the Moqui tribe first confided
to a white man versed in his language the legend of this rock. It has
been widely published, and considered of much significance. The Moqui
patriarch related how his people in the old time were many. Their tribe
dwelt in the North-east. One year they were visited by strangers from
the North, who came peaceably at first, but came again another year,
and year by year encroached and grew more warlike. At last the Northern
strangers gained the mastery and drove them from their homes. In a
long, slow struggle the Moqui forefathers gradually lost their ground,
till at last they made one final, desperate fight for their old homes
at the fortress of the Legendary Rock. They conquered their besiegers,
but with such fearful carnage that the rocks bear still the stains
of the blood-streams that flowed in that battle, and the remnant of
the besieged were glad to make an unmolested retreat to the mesas of
Arizona, where they dwell to this day.

The story is an interesting one, and has been honored by the explorers
with a place in their government report, for it shows a belief among
the Moquis that those old builders were their kinsmen. But, considering

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