Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/87

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upon countless white leaves, should order them to be destroyed, as foolishness or blasphemy. So the first priests of the Christian religion arriving in New Spain destroyed these playthings of the idolaters, which they conceived to be probably precious, but at all events useless.

Only chance specimens of these wonderful picture-writings escaped the general destruction, and from which is gleaned whatever is surmised of the earliest life of the tribes of Anahuac.

Texcuco led all the other nations in its literary culture, or rather pictorial skill, since letters were unknown. The Texcucan idiom was the purest of all the many dialects from the Nahuatl root. Among its poets, the king himself, Nezahualcoyotl, was distinguished. He not only belonged to the Council of Music, but appeared before it with other competitors. Perhaps some folded screen enclosing an ode by his hand lies hidden yet somewhere in Mexico, or even among the dusty archives of Old Spain. Some few have come to light, and one of them exists in Spanish, translated by a Mexican. It is hard to be sure of the import of the original through the change of expression inevitable in translating, but we may guess something of it.

"Rejoice," he says, "O Nezahualcoyotl, in the enjoyable, which now you grasp. With the flowers of this lovely garden crown thy illustrious brows, and draw pleasure from those things from which pleasure is to be drawn."

This garden of the no longer hungry Fox was a