Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/86

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an eye on all professors to keep them up to their work. This Council of Music had sessions when it listened to poems and historical compositions recited by their authors, who received prizes according to the merit of their work.

The literary men of Texcuco became celebrated throughout the country, and its archives were preserved with the greatest care in the palace. These records, which would have told us all we want to know of the early story of the people of Anahuac, were, for the most part, inscribed upon a fine fabric, made of the leaves of the American aloe, the maguey which also gave them their favorite beverage. The sheets made from it were something like the Egyptian papyrus, and furnished a smooth surface like parchment, upon which the picture-writings were laid in the most brilliant tints. These manuscripts were done up in rolls sometimes, but were often folded like a screen, and enclosed in wooden covers, not very unlike our books. Quantities of such manuscripts were stored up in the country, not only by the Texcucans, but by all the inhabitants of the different kingdoms. Probably no race has made better provision for handing down its traditions and history than these people who wandered from the mysterious North. All this is lost to us by the infatuation of the Spanish Conquistadores, as we shall see later on.

As if barbarians, ignorant of types and bindings, should descend upon the British Museum or Biblioteque Nationale, and, perceiving therein countless parallelograms of calf containing wicked little dots