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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/12

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VI PREFACE. In thia connexion it is proper tliat we should notice a translation of the Second Letter, made with great fidelity from the French of Vicomte Flavigny, and published in the Portfolio, (a well known magazine, formerly printed at Philadelphia,) in 1817-18. The editor informs his readers that this paper was found amongst the manu- scripts of the late Mr. Alsop, of Middletown, Conn., who seems not to have been in possession of a copy of the original work. This gentleman, besides numerous other contributions to the literature of the day, published an excellent translation of the Abbe Molina's His- tory of Chili, from the Italian. The Vicomte Flavigny states in his preface, that he had not only taken no pains to acquire new information respecting the conquest of Mexico, but, on the contrary, had endeavored to forget the little knowledge he had on that subject ; " for," he adds, "it was not Solis, Herrera, Diaz, or Gomara, that I designed to translate, nor did I propose to imitate the Abbe Prevost, the Abbe Raynal, or even Rob- ertson." We have ventured, however, to adopt a different course, and although determined to give a faithful version of the conqueror's own language, have at the same time consulted every writer within our reach who throws any light on the events of the conquest. Amongst these should be distinguished as surpassing all others, being contem- porary with Cortes, Bernal Diaz del Castillo and Francisco Lopez de Gomara ; the former himself a soldier in the expedition, who resided in his old age at the city of Guatemala, where, nearly fifty years after the conquest, he composed his history, which was discovered in manu- script after his death, and printed for the first time in 1632. This work is tinged with the personal prejudices of the writer, but in the main deserves great credit for its frank and impartial character. Having been early translated into English, it has passed through many editions, both in England and America.* Gomara, whose Cln-onicle of New Spain was published a few years after tlie death of Cortes, had been the chaplain of the conqueror, and enjoyed the best opportunities for collecting the materials of his work. It was well written, and for many years ranked as the ablest and most authentic book on the history of New Spain. But the sub- sequent appearance of the " True History" of Bernal Diaz, (who

  • Gen. Thompson, the present U. S. Minister at Mexico, is understood to hare

in hand a new translation of Bernal Diaz, the present one being quite incom- plete.