Images de page
PDF
ePub

tains of Guatemala; his sojourn among the Quichés and the Mams to whom he administered the rites of the Catholic Church, and preached in their own vernacular, besides his many other scholastic attainments-I repeat, qualified him preeminently for undertaking the interpretation of the Maya texts. He erred in letting his imagination and his preconceived opinions blind his judgment. But who on earth is perfect? To err is human. Did not his self-appointed judges err when they condemned him because he dared say that the Troano contained the narratives of geological events? Yet the learned Abbé was right in so saying; and they were wrong in presuming to pass an opinion on what they did not know, and do not even at present. Whilst disapproving his translation, it was their duty to point out where it was incorrect. Have they done this? No! Why not? Because they themselves are unable to interpret the Maya texts, and are ignorant of their meaning.

"Instead of accusing him of having impeded the study of Maya palæography, they should have thanked him for having made known the existence of Maya books in Europe in our day. These books had been preserved in libraries, private and public, since they were sent to Charles V., and presented to him in 1520 by Dn. Francisco de Montejo, the conqueror of Yucatan, and Porto Carrero, by order of Hernando Cortez, whose companions in arms they were. No one knew in what language they were written, nor to what kind of alphabet the characters belonged, until Brasseur recognized them as being similar to those preserved by Landa in his work 'Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan,' which had remained unpublished in the library of the 'Royal Academy of History' in Madrid. Brasseur again unearthed it from beneath the coating of dust

where it had lain for more than three centuries, and in 1860 had it printed. Is not that alone sufficient to cause his memory to be respected by all students of American archæology?" My interlocutor, who had been listening with manifest impatience to my just panegyric of the learned Abbé, interrupted me and exclaimed: "Do not speak so, or you will kill your own reputation and lose the fruits of your own labors; all authorized Americanists will condemn you as they have Brasseur.'

"Indeed! Well, sir, they are welcome to do it; that is, when they can do it knowingly. Meanwhile, before they pronounce their sentence, let them remember the words of Themistocles to the over-hasty Eurybiades: STRIKE, BUT HEAR ME!'"'

NOTE XVI. (Pages 132, 133.)

(7) This custom of carrying children astride the hip still prevails in Yucatan, as it does in India (" Buddaghosha Parables," translation by H. T. Rogers, R.E.) and other places where we find Maya customs and traditions.

(1) Landa, "Las Cosas de Yucatan" (p. 236): “El primer dia del año desta gente era siempre a xvi dias de nuestro mes de Julio, y primero de su mes de Popp."

Champollion Figeac, "Egypte " (p. 336): "Or pendant plus de trois mil ans avant l'ère chrétienne et quelques siècles après cette belle étoile (Sirius) s'est levée le même jour fixe en Egypte (parallèle moyen) un peu avant le soleil (lever héliatique) et ce jour a été le 20 Juillet de notre calendrier Julien."

Censorius, "De die Natali," says that the canicula in Egypt regularly rises on the first of Thoth, that corresponded to the 20th of July, 1322 B.C.

Porphyry says "that the first day of the month Thoth and of the year are fixed in Egypt by the rising of Sothis, or Dogstar."

NOTE XVII. (Page 124.)

(2) During the reconstruction of the temple of Jerusalem, under the reign of Josiah, on a certain morning the High Priest Hilkiah, in the year 621 B.C., told Shapham, a scribe, that he had found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord. Shapham took the book and presented it to the king, who named a committee to go and consult the prophetess Huldah regarding the genuineness of the book. She, wise woman that she was, not wishing to make an enemy of Hilkiah, gave an evasive answer, that, however, satisfied the king, who, it seems, was not of a very critical turn of mind. The prevalent opinion at the beginning of the Christian era, regarding the authorship of the Pentateuch, was that Moses never wrote the book. (Clementine, Homily, II., § 51; Homily, VIII., § 42.)

NOTE XVIII. (Page 127.)

(1) Henry Grose, "Voyage in the East Indies" (chap. vii., p. 95): "Elephanta Island, near Bombay, contains cave temples so old that there is no tradition as to who made them. There are paintings round the cornices that, for the beauty and freshness of the coloring, not any particularity in the design, call the attention; which must have lasted for some thousands of years, on supposing it, as there is all reason to suppose it, contemporary with the building."

NOTE XIX. (Page 139.)

The

(1) The acceptance, by a young girl, of a fruit sent by her lover constituted betrothal among the ancient Mayas, as it does in our day among their descendants. In Yucatan, if a young man wishes to propose marriage to a girl, he sends by a friend, as a present, a fruit, a flower, or some sweetmeat. acceptance of it is a sign that the proposal of the suitor is admitted. From that moment they are betrothed. The refusal of the present means that he is rejected. A similar custom exists in Japan. When a young lady expects a proposal of marriage, a flower-pot is placed in a convenient position on the window-sill. The lover plants a flower in it. If next morning the flower is watered, he can present himself to his lady-love, knowing that he is welcome. If, on the contrary, the flower has been uprooted and thrown on the sidewalk, he understands that he is not wanted.

In Egypt the eating of a quince by two young people, together, constituted betrothal. So also in Greece, where the custom was introduced from Egypt. In this custom we find a natural explanation of the first seven verses of the third chapter of Genesis, and why the serpent was said to have offered a fruit to the woman.

« PrécédentContinuer »