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even set foot in their country, may I be permitted to ask Dr. Brinton a few questions respecting the "only measures that, he asserts, were used by their ancestors? If these did not use the metric system, why, in speaking of the size of the pages of the Dresden Codex, does he say, "The total length of the sheet is 3.5 metres, and the height of each page is 0.295 metre, the width 0.085 metre "?1
What, in the name of common sense and professorial consistency, does this mean? Does he not assert authoritatively, on page 434 of his book, "The Maya measures are derived directly and almost exclusively from the human body, and largely from the hand"? It would seem that the apostrophe of Festus to Paul suits his case exactly: 66 Thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad." The first duty
of a teacher, and particularly a would-be critic, is to be consistent with himself. Describing the size of the Dresden Codex, a Maya book, he should have said, "It is three and one-half paces long, one span and four fingers in height, and four fingers in width." His readers would then have been able to form a very exact idea of its size, particularly had they perused the half dozen pages of the Maya names for footstep, pace, or stride; for the distance from the ground to the ankle, to the knee, to the waist, to the breast, to the neck, to the mouth, to the top of the head; then for the width of the finger, of the hand, of the stretch between the end of the thumb and each of the other finger tips, which he has copied from Dr. Carl Herman Berendt's notebook, and imposes upon his readers as being, of his own knowledge, the only measures
'D. G. Brinton, Essays of an Americanist, "Maya Codices,” p. 251. 2 Ibid., work quoted, Maya Measures," 434-439.
Acts of the Apostles, chap. xxvi., verse 24.
of length in use among the Mayas. Unhappily the late Dr. Berendt's cast-off philological garments are a misfit on Dr. Brinton's figure. He does not know how to wear them, nor that it is not always safe to parade with the feathers of a strange bird, though the feathers are paid for and the bird is
All the words quoted are perfectly correct. The German naturalist certainly noted them down when he began to learn Maya, from the mouth of the natives, not because he believed that the learned Maya mathematicians and architects had no other lineal measures than these rough estimates, which, on the other hand, are not peculiar to the Mayas, but are used by ignorant people in every country, and even by those who are not ignorant. Do we not say ankle deep in the sand; knee deep in the mud; waist, breast, chin deep in the water? Do we not measure distances approximately by steps or strides? depth, by fathoms? Describing the stature of a horse, do we not express it by saying it is so many hands high? Does this mean that these are the only standard measures of length in vogue among us? that astronomers, surveyors, architects, and mechanics make use of them in their mathematical computations? Can any one with common sense be guilty of such stupendous absurdity as to pretend that they do? Will any intelligent person doubt that that which happens to-day among us has happened in all times, in all countries, when and where skilful workmen have wanted accurate measurements to carry on their undertakings?
How, then, can the learned Professor of Linguistics and Archæology in the Pennsylvania University assert that the ancient Maya astronomers and architects had no other standard of lineal measures for their mathematical calculations, and
then attribute to my eccentricity the statement that they used the metre and its divisions?
In conclusion, it is apparent that this pedantic display of a useless nomenclature of Maya names for what he calls the standard lineal measure of the Mayas, was not published so much to impart to his readers exact information, as to parade Dr. Berendt's knowledge of the Maya language, while conveying the impression that this knowledge was his own. He should have remembered the saying: "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones; " to which I will add: If they venture to do so, they should at least wait until their neighbors are dead and buried.
NOTE XV. (Page 105.)
(3) May we inquire, without being accused of indiscretion, how great is Dr. Brinton's acquaintance with this most interesting of languages, the Maya? It must indeed be quite extensive, since he presumes to declare authoritatively that Abbé Brasseur "knew next to nothing about it," and that Father Cogolludo, the author of the best history of Yucatan, published for the first time in Madrid in 1688, although he, during twenty-one years, preached the gospel to the natives in their own language, "was only moderately acquainted with the Maya tongue." This is indeed a singular assertion. How does the learned doctor know it? What proof has he that such statement is true? Has he the pretension to expect that students of Maya civilization will accept such preposterous averment because he makes it?
If Abbé Brasseur "knew next to nothing about the Maya," and Dr. Brinton was aware of this, why, instead of making for himself a correct translation of that most interesting ancient Maya prayer, "The Invocation to the God of Rain," has he given a crippled, curtailed English rendering of the French version published by Brasseur, and offered it to his readers as a sample of Maya composition? Since he was intent upon imposing on them this deception, as he did not even preserve the depth of fervor exhibited in the French
' D. G. Brinton, Essays of an Americanist, p. 261.
interpretation, the least he could have done was to give the invocation complete.
As rendered by the Spanish translator, it means little, and Dr. Brinton's version is quite as meaningless, whilst the Maya text expresses devotion and religious sentiment, and is for us, at this late date, full of significance and information, as shown by my own interpretation (pp. 107, 108).
This is the Spanish version given by Brasseur in Vol. II. of Troano MS. (pp. 101, 102): "Al asomarse el sol, señor del oriente, en las cuatro esquinas del cielo, en las cuatro esquinas de la tierra, caé mi palabra á cada cuatro punto, à la mano del Dios padre, de Dios hijo, de Dios Espiritu Santo.
"Al levantarse las nubes al oriente, ál subir en medio de la majestad celeste, á las trece ordenes de las nubes él que pone en orden el urácan amarillo, esperanza de los señores visitadores, él que pone en orden los asientos para el precioso vino, con el precioso amor para los señores cuidadores de milpas, para que vengan á poner su precioso favor, al santo grande Dios padre, Dios hijo, Dios Espiritu Santo.
"Yo entrego su virgen semilla con mi santo amor, tu tendràs que mirarme un momento; yo suplico que me lleves tu bendicion con todo tu corazon y entregues tu santo amor, para alcanzar tu creciente y virgen favor; porque es precioso entregar en la mano del Dios padre, de Dios hijo, de Dios Espiritu Santo.'
The following is Dr. Brinton's pretended interpretation of the Maya text:1
"At the rising of the Sun, Lord of the East, my word goes forth to the four corners of heaven, to the four corners of the
1D. G. Brinton, Essays of an Americanist, p. 167. Compare with my own version of this invocation, pp. 107, 108.