The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945 Page: 37
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David Gouverneur Burnet, Satirist
I am sensible, however, that language is always an article of im-
portance in "an account of Indian nations," & if I had possessed a com-
petent acquaintance with the dialect of the Comanchees, I should not
have omitted noticing it in my desultory remarks upon them. If the
subjoined very crude and imperfect vocabulary will afford any satisfaction
or impart any thing "new" to the very learned professor. [sic] I
shall be proud of having added one item more, to his prodigious stock
of knowledge. The words and the interpretation of them, were taken
hastily, without premeditation, and without any thought of publication,
from one of the most intelligent chiefs of the nation, who spoke Spanish
with great fluency, but who notwithstanding, was unable to comprehend
how his language could be reduced to visible intelligible signs, so as to
enable a stranger to pronounce it with correctness.
Mr. Rafinesque evidently supposes me to be the author of what he
styles "an anonymous and indecorous" demand, that was made upon
him for his authorities for certain very edifying researches into the
history of the renowned "American Solomon" King Nazahual of Tezcuco
in Anahuac. This error in the learned Professor is venial, and quite
pardonable, although it has subjected me to a very severe and overwhelming
ebullition of his ink horn. It has presented another evidence that exquisite
humor is not incompatible with profound erudition, and that deep re-
search does not always deaden the fancy, nor obtund the edge of the most
delicate wit. The waggish author of the demand gave an insidious
plausibility to the suspicion, by adopting my anonymous signature. This
he did, probably with a view to trying the Professor [']s skill, or with
a more provoking intent towards myself, of eliciting from the able anti-
quarian, a criticism upon my unpretending letters on the Indians of Texas.
The worthy Professor must allow me to adhere to my original plan of
concealment, and to satisfy him on the score of "personal authority," I
must refer him to yourself [the editor.]-To affix my proper name would
be introducing a stranger, who has no pretentions to the literary celebrity
and deep-drawn lore that render the name of Rafinesque a sufficient
guarantee for any "historical details," without extorting the mortifying
confession that they are borrowed from Clavigero, Humboldt, or the more
recent Bonnycastle. B.
The last paragraph, of course, lets "the knowing ones" into
the secret, but not Rafinesque. He had the simplicity and
naivete of a child, and probably never understood the nature
of his castigation. To one who sees with half an eye, we have
a spectacle as edifying as the flogging of a suckling child.
One is glad that in later years Burnet, in Sam Houston, found
a foeman worthy of his steel.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945, periodical, 1945; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146055/m1/41/: accessed May 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.