[Footnote 53: From the singular excellence of the military institutions of the Araucanians, by which they have been enabled to preserve their liberties against the superior arms of the Spaniards, down even to the present day, we have been induced to extend these observations much beyond our usual limits on such occasions. Such as are inclined to inquire more minutely into the civil institutions of this wonderful people, will find them detailed in the work of the Abbe Molina, together with a minute account of the natural productions of Chili.—E.]
Of the Origin, Manners, and Language of the Chilese.
The origin of the primitive inhabitants of Chili, like that of all the nations and tribes of the aboriginal Americans, is involved in impenetrable obscurity. Many of the natives consider themselves as indigenous, while others derive their origin from a foreign stock, supposing their ancestors to have come from the north or from the west; but as they were utterly unacquainted with the art of writing, they have no records or monuments from which to elucidate this inquiry, and their traditionary accounts are too crude and imperfect to afford any degree of rational information on the subject. The Chilese call their first progenitors Pegni Epatum, signifying the brothers named Epatum. They call them likewise glyce, or primitive men; and in their assemblies invoke their ancestors and deities in a loud voice, crying Pom, pam, pum, mari, mari, Epunamen, Amimalguen, Pegni Epatum. The meaning of these words is uncertain, unless we may suppose it to have some connexion with the word pum, used by the Chinese to signify the first created man, or the one who was saved from the deluge. The lamas or priests of Thibet are likewise said to repeat to their rosaries, the syllables om, am, um, or hom, ham, hum; which corresponds in some measure with the customary exclamation of the Chilese.