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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/13

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PREFACE. VH charged him with neglecting the achievements of the companions of Cortes in order to exalt the merits of their commander,) together with the imputations of Herrera, the royal historiographer, and finally, the publication of the popular volumes of Antonio de Soils, threw Gomara into the shade, and caused his labors to be neglected. But whoever consults his pages will find them well stored with facts, carefully arranged and clearly stated. In short, it is an able and substantial work, and possesses as strong claims to be deemed impar- tial in its tone as any other, not excepting Herrera himself.* It would be unpardonable to omit to mention in this connexion the admirable modern work of Clavigero, a Jesuit father, who on the abo- lition of his order in the Spanish dominions, after passing more than forty years of his life in Mexico, took refuge in Italy, where he de- voted his leisure to literary pursuits. Being familiar with the native language of Mexico, he carefully studied its antiquities and history, and composed the best and most authentic book on these subjects that had appeared. It was written in the Italian language, and has been ably translated into English by Charles CuUen, Esq. The Despatches of Cortes were written under circumstances the most unfavorable to precision of style, and at a period when the lan- guages of modern Europe were far from being what they now areĀ ; for these reasons it is not to be disguised, that they have presented occasional difficulties in the translation, which, with all our helps, it has required a considerable degree of labor to surmount. This at- tempt is, therefore, commended to the indulgence of the public, as a well-meant effort to contribute to the amusement and edification of those English and American readers who have not the leisure or in- clination to consult the original. New- York, August st, 1843.

  • There is an imperfect English translation of Gomara under the title of

" The Pleasante Historie of the Conquest of the West India," &c., of which two editions were published in black letter, viz. 1578 and 1596. Many entire chap- ters of the original are, however, omitted, and numerous alterations made a4 libitum bv the translator.