« ForrigeFortsett »
grants, had succeeded in engrossing the public employments and concentrating the real power in two self-elected councils of 25 and 200 members respectively. But that power rested on a most frail foundation, since, in a state which consists of a single city, the majority of the inhabitants may in twenty-four hours overset the government. In order to preserve it, a moral, intellectual superiority was absolutely necessary. This could not be otherwise attained than by superior knowledge and education; and the consequence was that it became disgraceful for any young man of decent parentage to be an idler. All were bound to esercise their faculties to the utmost; and although there are always some incapable, yet the number is small of those who, if they persevere, may not by labor become, in some one branch, wellinformed men. Nor was that love and habit of learning long confined to that self-created aristocracy. A salutary competition in that respect took place between the two political parties, which had a most happy effect on the general diffusion of knowledge.
During the sixteenth and the greater part of the seventeenth century the Genevese were the counterpart of the Puritans of Old and of the Pilgrims of New England,—the same doctrines, the same simplicity in the external forms of worship, the same austerity of morals and severity of manners, the same attention to schools and seminaries of learning, the same virtues, and the same defects,—exclusiveness and intolerance, equally banishing all those who differed on any point from the established creed, putting witches to death, &c., &c. And, with the progress of knowledge, both about at the same time became tolerant and liberal. But here the similitude ends. To the Pilgrims of New England, in common with the other English colonists, the most vast field of enterprise was opened which ever offered itself to civilized man.
Their mission was to conquer the wilderness, to multiply indefinitely, to settle and inhabit a whole continent, and to carry their institutions and civilization from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. With what energy and perseverance this has been performed we all know. But to those pursuits all the national energies were directed. Learning was not neglected, but its higher branches were a secondary object; and science was cultivated almost exclusively for practical purposes, and
only as far as was requisite for supplying the community with the necessary number of clergymen and members of the other liberal professions. The situation of Geneva was precisely the reverse of this. Confined to a single city and without territory, its inhabitants did all that their position rendered practicable. They created the manufacture of watches, which gave employment to near a fourth part of the population, and carried on commerce to the fullest extent of which their geographical situation was susceptible. But the field of active enterprise was still the narrowest possible. To all those who were ambitious of renown, fame, consideration, scientific pursuits were the only road that could lead to distinction, and to these, or other literary branches, all those who had talent and energy devoted themselves.
All could not be equally successful; few only could attain a distinguished eminence; but, as I have already observed, a far greater number of well educated and informed men were found in that small spot than in almost every other town of Europe which was not the metropolis of an extensive country. This had a most favorable influence on the tone of society, which was pot light, frivolous, or insipid, but generally serious and instructive. I was surrounded by that influence from my earliest days, and, as far as I am concerned, derived more benefit from that source than from my attendance on academical lectures. A more general fact deserves notice. At all times, and within my knowledge in the years 1770–1780, a great many distinguished foreigners came to Geneva to finish their education, among whom were nobles and princes from Germany and other northern countries; there were also not a few lords and gentlemen from England (even the Duke of Cambridge, after he had completed his studies at Göttingen); besides these there were some from America, amongst whom I may count before the American Revolution those South Carolinians, Mr. Kinloch, Wm. Smith, -afterwards a distinguished member of Congress, and minister to Portugal, and Colonel Laurens, one of the last who fell in the war of independence. And when I departed from Geneva I left there, besides the two young Penns, proprietors of Pennsylvania, Franklin Bache, grandson of Dr. Franklin, Jo
hannot, grandson of Dr. Cooper, of Boston, who died young. Now, amongst all those foreigners I never knew or heard of a single one who attended academical lectures. It was the Genevese society which they cultivated, aided by private teachers in every branch, with whom Geneva was abundantly supplied.
GALLATIN TO GEN. WINFIELD SCOTT.
NEW YORK, November 2, 1847. MY DEAR SIR,—Though opposed in principle to the Mexican war, I have followed with great interest the series of your military operations, and, as your sincere friend and admirer, I do most heartily congratulate you on the great skill you have displayed, and on your most extraordinary success. The Administration did undoubtedly all that was in its power; but the force with which you were supplied was inadequate to the object in view. It became impossible to keep open your line of communication. Insulated and left to your own resources, you had, with hardly 10,000 effective men, to encounter and conquer all the forces of Mexico, concentrated for the defence of their capital and protected by strong positions and fortifications. Nothing short of your talents, of those of your distinguished officers, and of the unparalleled bravery of your troops could have overcome such obstacles. Yet it is deeply to be regretted that your force was so small; for my part, I am satisfied that to this must be chiefly ascribed the great and most lamentable loss suffered by your army. I am convinced that if you had been enabled to enter
. the valley of Mexico with 20,000 men you would have attained all the objects in view with an inconsiderable loss; and that, under the circumstances in which you were placed, you did all that could or ought to have been done. Writing to you, I could not help expressing these sentiments, though the object of my letter has no reference to military operations.
I am quite sensible that you have not at present any time to bestow upon literary pursuits and inquiries; but among the civilians attached to the army I hope that there may be some one to whom you may hand the enclosed memorandum, and who will take pleasure in complying with my request. You will perceive that my wish is to obtain grammars and vocabularies of the various languages of Mexico, and, indeed, every information which may throw light on their history and antiquities.
The bearer of this letter is Lieutenant Emory, a distinguished topographical engineer and lately appointed lieutenant-colonel of a regiment of volunteers. I beg leave to recommend him to you. He has in charge to be forwarded to you the first volume of the Transactions of the New York Ethnological Society, of which I am president. I think the volume will not be uninteresting to you, as it contains all we know with certainty of the languages, history, astronomy, and progress in art of the semicivilized nations of Mexico and Central America. And it will show you how far I have already investigated the subject.
I do not wish to expend more than $400 for the objects stated in the memorandum, and I think I may request you to advance the amount, which I will repay in any way and to any person you may please to designate. As
peace must come at last, I wish to obtain some Mexican correspondent, known to be well versed in the languages and antiquities of the country, who should be willing to correspond with me, and afterwards with the Ethnological Society, on those subjects.
I am approaching my eighty-eighth year, write with difficulty, and am obliged to dictate. Accept the assurance of my most distinguished consideration, and believe me to be your faithful friend and servant.
The occupation of the city of Mexico by the American army may afford an opportunity of procuring books and copies of documents which would be highly useful to those who occupy themselves with ethnological, antiquarian, and philological researches.
It is, therefore, my wish to procure as many printed grammars and vocabularies of the several languages spoken within the dominions of Mexico as can be obtained ; not exceeding one grammar, however, for each language. And with respect to
, those languages of which no grammar or vocabulary has been published, it would be desirable, if there be any manuscript one, to obtain a copy, provided the expense be not too great.
Heretofore the only languages of which I could procure grammars were the Mexican proper, or Aztec, the Ottomi, the Maya, and the Huasteca, spoken in the vicinity of Tampico, and which is allied to the Maya.
Besides these, ten or twelve others are said to be spoken south of latitude 25°, within the boundaries of the present Mexican confederacy. The most important are:
Totonaque, the language of the natives of Vera Cruz and its vicinity.
Tarasca, the language of the old kingdom of Michoacan.
Next in importance are, the Tlapaneque, spoken at Tlapa, about latitude 17°, longitude 96°-97°.
The Matlazincan, spoken at Toluca, in the vicinity of Mexico. The Popoluque, spoken at Tlamachalco, situation not known.
Other names have also been mentioned, to wit: Core, Teotihuacan, Cakciquen, of which the situation is not known to me.
And there is also a distinct language spoken at the mouth and on the lower portion of the Rio del Norte, the name of which I do not know.
There are also in the ancient viceroy's palace some remnants of Boturini's collection, and among these, or collected from other sources, some chronological Mexican manuscripts representative of their ancient histories or legends, principally of the Toltecs and of the Aztecs. We have
We have a copy of one of these already published in Lord Kingsborough's collection. As the expense of transcribing any of these would be very great, it is only in case any opportunity should offer to procure one on very reasonable terms that this should be attended to.
Enclosed is the list of the words of which we have a comparative vocabulary in the Mexican, Ottomi, Maya, and Yucatan languages.