and follow my own devices, I was abroad early and late. Thanks to active habits, the disregard of heat and dust, the occasional assistance of my steed Pinto, and a philosophic contempt of the chances of being lassoed and robbed—before half the period of our halt was at an end, I had contrived to see a great deal both within and without the city, and to learn something in spite of our disadvantages—and such there were. So far I am satisfied; at the same time that I have continually to keep in mind the latter, and the brevity of our visit, when I recollect how many and how interesting are the subjects and objects to which I have paid little or no attention.
But my preface is finished; and now, that I have actually glanced at Mexico, what kind of dish must I cook and serve up to you? Must I give you the literal and homely hodgepodge of my own hasty diary; daily notices of personal occurrences, personal observations, and personal reflections; with cuttings from the conversation and information of those with whom we came in contact? or shall I dress you a dish of historical and statistical information, served up with a garnish of apt quotations from Bullock and Poinsett, or still better, from Humboldt—the first, the best, and the only really philosophic modern traveller who ever visited New Spain, whose researches, written thirty years ago, still form the text book of every succeeding visiter!
Will you have a trifle, half indigestible solid, and half evanescent froth, prepared from the shadowy history and traditions of the aboriginal people; shrouded in the mist of hieroglyphic, emblematical, and enigmatical devices, rendered yet more dim by the misconception, the misinterpretation, and the bigotry of the conquerors; and still more by the stupidity of modern conjurers and expounders of enigmas: or a sober, well-seasoned regale from the tale of the conquest, marvellous, even when those large deductions which must be demanded, both by unimaginative common sense and evident truth, have been made? The choice is an embarrassing one; and allowing you to take full time for decision, I invite you to partake in the