SINCE the foregoing chapters were written, the author--my old friend and teacher--has passed away, and the prophecy with which his work ended has been singularly fulfilled. China is now thoroughly opened, and Japan, once proverbial for its exclusiveness, goes beyond more than one European country in her zeal to Europeanise. And I believe that time will show, when the records of these countries shall have been more carefully searched, that the same insight which induced Carl F. Neumann to prophecy the speedy opening of the East, was not at fault when he declared, on apparently slight data, his faith that in an early age the Chinese had penetrated Western America as far as Mexico.
It should be especially observed that, in commenting on the simple record of the old monk Hoei-Shin, Professor Neumann judiciously reminds the reader that the information given "goes back into a period long anterior to the most remote ages alluded to in the obscure legends of the Aztecs, resting upon uncertain interpretations of hieroglyphics." One thing we know, that in America, as in Asia or Europe, one wave of emigration
and conquest swept after another, each destroying in a great measure all traces of its predecessor. Thus in Peru the Inca race ruled over the lower caste, and would in time have probably extinguished it. But the Incas themselves were preceded by another and evidently more gifted race, since it is now known that these mysterious predecessors were far abler than themselves as architects. "Who this race were," says Prescott, 1 "and whence they came, may afford a tempting theme for inquiry to the speculative antiquarian. But it is a land of darkness, that lies far beyond the domain of history."
Problems as difficult, and far more unpromising, have, however, been solved within a few years, and entire literatures, histories, and languages have been exhumed, literally from the soil. Let me instance, for example, the earthen cylinders of Nineveh, of whose records it may not only be said, "Dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return," but also, in the higher spirit of Christianity and humanity, "and from dust thon shalt rise again." Nullæ latent, quæ non patent. And there is a possibility that even in this secret of secrets, Old Peru, there lurks some slight possibility of elucidating the question of the Chinese in Mexico in the fifth century. For as the American waves of conquest, flowed south, it is no extravagant hypothesis to assume that the race of men whom the monk encountered in "Fusang" may possibly have had something in common with what was
afterwards found farther south in the land of the Incas. One thing is certain, that there is a singularly Peruvian air in all that this short narrative tells us of the land Fusang. Fortified places, it says, were unknown, though there was evidently a high state of civilisation; and yet this strange anomaly appears to have actually existed in ancient Peru, for Prescott speaks of the system of fortifications established through the empire as though it had originated with the Incas. Most extraordinary is, however, the remark of the monk that the houses are built with wooden beams. Now, as houses, all the world over, are generally constructed in this manner, the remark might seem almost superfluous. However, the Peruvians built their houses with wooden beams, and, as Prescott tells us, "knew no better way of holding the beams together than tying them with the thongs of maguey." Now, be it remarked that the monk makes a direct transition from speaking of the textile fibre and fabric of the maguey to the wooden beams of the houses--a coincidence which is at least striking, though it be no proof. It is precisely as though he had the maguey in his memory, and were about to add it to his mention of the wooden beams. And we may notice that this construction of houses was admirably adapted to a land of earthquakes such as Southern America, and that Prescott himself testifies that a number of them "still survive, while the more modern constructions of the conquerors are buried in ruins."
Most strikingly Peruvian is the monk's account of the kingdom and the nobles. The name Ichi is very like the natural Chinese pronunciation of the word Inca. The stress laid on the three ranks of nobles suggests the Peruvian Inca castes of lower grade, as well as the Mexican; while the stately going forth of the king, "accompanied by horns and trumpets," vividly recalls Prescott's account of the journeyings of the Peruvian potentate. The change of the colour of his garments according to the astronomical cycle is, however, more thoroughly in accordance with the spirit of the institutions of the Children of the Sun than anything which we have met in the whole of this strange and obsolete record. And it is indeed remarkable that Professor Neumann, who had already indicated the southern course of Aztec or of Mexican civilisation, and who manifested, as the reader may have observed, so much shrewdness in adducing testimony for the old monk's narrative, did not search more closely into Peruvian history for that confirmation which a slight inquiry seems to indicate is by no means wanting in it. Thus, with regard to the observation of the seasons, Prescott, tells us that "the ritual of the Incas involved a routine of observances as complex and elaborate as ever distinguished that of any nation, whether pagan or Christian." Each month had its appropriate festival, or rather festivals. The four principal had reference to the sun, and commemorated the great periods of his annual progress, the solstices and equinoxes. Garments of a peculiar wool,
and feathers of it peculiar colour, were reserved to the Inca. I cannot identify the blue, red, yellow, and black (curiously reminding one of the alchemical elementary colours still preserved by a strange feeling for antiquity or custom in chemists' windows), but it is worthy of remark that the rainbow was the Inca's special attribute or scutcheon, and that his whole life was passed in accordance with the requisitions of astronomical festivals; and the fact that different colours were reserved to him, and identified with him, is very curious, and establishes a strange analogy with the narrative of Hoei-shin.
I would, however, specially observe on this subject of the cycles and changes of colours corresponding to astronomical mutations, that Montesinos 1 expressly asserts that the Peruvians threw their years into cycles of ten--a fact which has quite escaped the notice of Neumann, who conjectures that the decade of Fusang may have been a subdivision of the Aztec period, or even have been used as an independent one, as was indeed the case with the Chinese, who termed these notations "stems." "It is worthy of remark," he adds, "that among the Mongols and Mantchous these 'stems' are named after colours, which, perhaps, have some relation to the several colours of the royal clothing in the cycles of Fusang. These Tartaric tribes term the first two years of the ten-year cyclus, green and greenish,
the next red and reddish, and so on, yellow and yellowish, white and whitish, and finally black and blackish." 1
Peru, certainly, is not Mexico; but I would here recall my former observation that Mexico might have been at one time peopled by a race having Peruvian customs, which in after years were borne by them far to the south. The ancient mythology and ethnography of Mexico present in their turn a mass of curious, though perhaps accidental, identities with those of Asia. And both Mexico and Peru had the tradition of a deluge from which seven prisoners escaped. In the hieroglyphs of the former country, these seven are represented as issuing from an egg.
We may note also that a Peruvian tradition declares the first missionaries of civilisation who visited them to have been white and bearded. "This may remind us," says Prescott, "of the tradition existing among the Aztecs in respect to Quetzalcoatl, the good deity, who, with a similar garb and aspect, came up the great plateau from the east, on a like benevolent mission
to the natives." In the same way the Aesir, Children of Light, or of the Sun, came from the east to Scandinavia, and taught the lore of the gods.
The Peruvian embalming of the royal dead takes us back to Egypt; the burning of the wives of the deceased Incas reveals India; the singularly patriarchal character of the whole Peruvian policy is like that of China in the olden time; while the system of espionage, of tranquillity, of physical well-being, and the iron-like immovability in which their whole social frame was cast bring before us Japan--as it was a very few years ago. In fact, there is something strangely Japanese in the entire cultus of Peru as described by all writers.
It is remarkable that the Supreme Being of the Peruvians was worshipped under the names of Pacha-comac, "He who sustains or gives life to the universe," and of Viracocha, 1 "Foam of the Sea," a name strikingly recalling Venus Aphrodite, the female and second principle of life in many ancient mythologies. Not less curious (if authentic) is the tradition of the Vestal Virgins of the Sun, who, it is said, were buried alive if detected in an intrigue, and whose duty it was to keep burning the sacred fire obtained at the festival of Raymi.
This fire was obtained, as by the ancient Romans, on
a precisely similar occasion, by means of a concave mirror of polished metal. 1 The Incas, in order to preserve purity of race, married their own sisters, as did the kings of Persia, and of other Oriental nations, urged by a like feeling of pride, and possibly in accordance with a faith in the physical law set forth a few years ago in the Fortnightly and the Westminster Reviews. Among the Peruvians, mama signified mother, while papa was applied to the chief priest. "With both, the term seems to embrace in its most comprehensive sense the paternal relation, in which it is more familiarly employed by most of the nations of Europe."
It has been observed that, as in the case of the Green Corn Festival of the Creek Indians of Georgia, 2 many striking analogies can be established between the Indian tribes of North America and the Peruvians. Gallatin has shown the affinity of languages between all the American aborigines. It is possible that the first race which subsequently spread southward, may with modifications have occupied the entire north.
Let the reader also remember, that while the proofs of the existence or residence of Orientals in America are extremely vague and uncertain--and I trust that it
will be borne in mind that this admission has been made sincerely and cheerfully--and while they are supported only by coincidences, the antecedent probability of their having come hither, or having been able to come, is stronger than the Nurse discovery of the New World, or even than that of Columbus himself would appear to be. Let the reader take the map of the Northern Pacific; let him ascertain for himself the fact that from Kamtschatka, which was well known to the old Chinese, to Aliaska, the journey is far less arduous than from China proper, and it will be seen that there was in all probability abundant intercourse of some kind between the continents. In early times, the Chinese were bold and skilful navigators, to whom the chain of the Aleutian Islands would have been simply like stepping-stones over a shallow brook to a child. For it is a well-ascertained fact, that a sailor in an open boat might cross from Asia to America by the Aleutian Islands in summer-time, and hardly ever be out of sight of land, and this in a part of the sea generally abounding in fish, as is proved by the fishermen who inhabit many of these islands, on which fresh water is always to be found. Nor when in Aliaska would the emigrant from Asia he deterred, during half the year at least, by the severity of the climate. If the country be not, as the late Mr Seward was jocosely said to have declared, abounding in pine-apples and polar bears, icebergs and strawberries, it is at least tolerably habitable, as I know by the testimony of several friends--
one of whom even wintered out there while searching for gold--and from a Russian-English newspaper published in that remote country. From a number of this newspaper, containing the advertisement of books published by Nicholas Trübner of London, I infer that a very fair degree of luxury, not devoid of erudition, may now be attained in Aliaska. In short, to an enterprising Buddhist monk, inspired with the zeal of a missionary, this journey to Fusang does not present one half the difficulties which thousands of exactly such monks undergo at the present day in their journeyings over the vast and sterile plains and through the hostile mountain ranges of Central Asia. I have, indeed, no doubt that, even as I write, there is living, travelling, and preaching, more than one such Eastern Cordelier, bearing literally the very name of Hoei-shin, whose journeyings have been as wide, as wild, and as weary as those of him who long ago returned and told, like King Thibault of Navarre, his story of lands beyond sea--
[paragraph continues] --and so passed away to a quiet cloister grave. The bedesman sleeps among his ashes cold, little thinking, before he died, that, more than a thousand years after his story had been told it would rise again thousands of miles away, and go, for men to read, even in Tahan itself.
Seriously enough, the only real marvel as regards the
probability of the Chinese having been in Mexico thirteen hundred years ago would be that they were never there, and did not make the journey. When we see a nation, as China once was, with a religious propaganda, sending missionaries thousands of miles beyond its borders; boasting a commerce, and gifted with astronomers and geographers of no mean ability, we must certainly believe that it made many discoveries. And when we find its pioneers advancing for centuries in a certain direction, chronicling correctly every step made, and accurately describing the geography and ethnography of every region on the way, we have no ground to deny the last advance which their authentic history claims to have made, hog ever indisposed we may be to admit it. One tiling, at least, will probably be cheerfully conceded by the impartial reader, that the subject well deserves further investigation, which it will obtain from those students who are occupied in exploring the mysteries of Oriental literature and the archæology of both worlds.
I would not be understood as intimating that the civilisation of Fusang was simply Peruvian. Some of the peculiarities observed by Hoei-shin--as, for example, the manner of wooing, the exposure of the dead, and the possible origin of his Kingdom of Women--existed in a strongly-marked form among the Red Indians; others recall New Mexican or Aztec culture, as it may have been ere driven south; and there are, withal, Siberian-Mongolian traces. But I cannot resist the feeling, which has grown on me through years of study on this subject, that in the fifth century the Buddhist monk visited a race combining characteristics and customs which afterwards spread to the south and cast. All that he observed is singularly American, and, from the tone of the narrative, was evidently new to the missionary. Since Prescott wrote, many investigators have declared that the civilisation once attributed entirely to the Incas, was derived by them from earlier races which they had supplanted. Thus Thomas J. Hutchinson ("Two Years in Peru, by T. J. Hutchinson, F.R.G.S. &c.," London, 1873) tells us that the Chincas preceded the Yuncas, and that the Yuncas were conquered by the Inca Pachacutec so recently as the fifteenth century of our era. Tradition also gives the names of several races as preceding the Chincas in Peru. It is, however, conjectured that, whatever the race may have been which occupied Peru, it took from its predecessors culture which they in like manner had inherited. In endeavouring to find some analogy between Fusang as described by Hoei-shin, and Peru as described by Prescott, I by no means consider that the customs attributed to the Incas were unknown before their time.
50:1 Conquest of Peru, chap. I., i. 12, 13, edit. 1847. Vide note on page 60 of this work.
53:1 Montesinos: Memorias Antiquas, MS., lib. ii. cap. 7. Vide Prescott's Conquest of Peru, bk. i. p. 128.
54:1 Mr Hyde Clarke has pointed out, in some remarks to which I shall again have occasion to refer, that there are many curious circumstances as to the use of colours in connection with numbers; and that, for instance in many of the prehistoric languages, the word for red and that for the number two were identical. Very little can be inferred from this, and nothing can be based upon it, but the coincidence, though slight, is curious, and may serve as a basis for future observation. Red, it may be remarked, is the second colour in the Fusang cyclus as mentioned by Hoei-shin. In the symbolism of the Roman Catholic Chinch, blue and white are identified in the Pope, but the Cardinals next him, or the second rank, wear red. Red, as I have already indicated, was the colour both of the second Tartar and second Fusang couple of years in the cyclus.
55:1 To-day in Peru white men are called Viracochas. "Myths of the New World," by D. G. Brinton, M.D., New York, 1808, p. 180.
56:1 The Liang-sze-kung-ki says that envoys from Fusang to China brought, as tribute, square and circular mirrors more than a foot in circumference. These were called "gems for observing the sun"--possibly metallic burning glasses. Vide "Notes and Queries for China and Japan," 1870.
56:2 Vide "The Green Corn Dance," from an unpublished MS. by John Howard Payne, author of "Home, Sweet Home," in the Continental Monthly. Boston, 1862.