Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/59

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

They spoke the tongue Nahuatl, giving to it their own dialect. They wrote, and studied the stars, by which they regulated their division of time. It is said they were the first in all Anahuac who knew geography. How much they knew we never shall know, still less how little those before them knew. They knew the properties of plants, how to heal the sick by using them, how to keep well. They were excellent carpenters; they worked precious stones with skill; they wove their garments out of strong or delicate fabrics in many colors and designs, demanding and creating for themselves not only the necessities of life, but the adornments of art and taste. In fact, the Toltecs were a worthy people, averse to war, allied to virtue, to cleanliness, courtesy, and good manners. They detested falsehood and treachery, and held their gods in reverence.

The early faith of the Toltecs was the adoration of the sun, moon, and stars. Especially the power (tecuhtli) which warmed the earth and made it fruitful, giving them thus their chief blessings, they worshipped under the name Tonacatecuhtli, to whom they offered flowers, fruits, and sacrifices of small animals. Polytheism, and the sacrifice of human beings, which was later engrafted on this simple belief by other tribes, had no part in the early religion of the Toltecs.

At the end of the tenth century, when in England the Danes were beginning to trouble the Anglo-Saxons, and Ethelreds and Edreds were retreating before Canutes and Hardicanutes; when across the channel Hugh Capet had put an end to the feeble dynasties of the Carlovingian kings, and was taking for him-