Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/139

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MEXICO.

depth in this central part of the city, a vast quantity of these colossal and curious remains of a forgotten people lie hidden from the day.

So little was De Gama's admirable treatise upon these monuments understood or appreciated, that he had but one hundred and seventy-two subscribers for his pamphlet of one hundred and sixteen pages; and it is doubtful whether he found sufficient encouragement to publish a second treatise upon the Calendar and other monuments subsequently found, as he hints his intention of doing, in case that the sale of his first adventure covered the expense of the impression and the plates.

He gives (page 110) a description of a cluster of most curiously sculptured rocks, discovered in the Cerro of Chapultepec, in the year 1775, while labourers were carrying on certain excavations. After a most careful examination, he conceived them to form part of an astronomical contrivance, by which the ancient Mexicans were enabled to determine the meridian, the exact time of sunrise and sunset at the equinoxes, and thus the true time throughout the year. In recording, on his next return to Chapultepec, the utter annihilation of these valuable relics of an extraordinary people, he feelingly exclaims, "How many precious monuments of antiquity have thus perished through ignorance!"[1]

 

 

LETTER VII.

Our allotted period of sojourn in the country, which we now felt to be lamentably brief, passed swiftly away amid the excitement of our position; and, urged by the feeling that necessity would compel us to leave Mexico at the commencement of May, we prepared, early in

  1. Quantos preciosos monumentos de la antigüedad per falta de intelligensia, habran parecido an esta manera!