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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/9

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PREFACE This stirring narrative of toil and adventure, addressed by the celebrated conqueror of Mexico to his sovereign, although replete with the most romantic interest, has hitherto escaped an English translator. Written amidst the very scenes described, in a tone of honest sincerity, and with a scrupulous attention to the truth, which none has ever attempted to gainsay, these Letters or Despatches, after being published separately as they were received in Spain, seem to have been overlooked and forgotten when in the lapse of time the original editions had disappeared from the public eye. Even Antonio de Solis, historiographer to his Catholic Majesty, whose classical and popular work on the Conquest of Mexico appeared in 1684, confesses that he was beholden to an Italian translation for his knowledge of one of them.* Indeed, they seem not to have been republished in Spain until 1749, when they were inserted in Barcia's collection of Histo- riadores Primitivos, or Early Historians. Afterwards, in 1770, ano- ther edition appeared at the city of Mexico, superintended by Arch- bishop, since Cardinal Lorenzana, who enriched it with copious notes} and this, together with a biographical sketch of Cortes originally writ- ten in English by the late R. C. Sands, was re-printed in 1828, at New-York, for the Mexican market. The present translation has been made from the Archbishop's Mexican edition, many of whose notes have been retained, which are marked with the initial of his name. The First Letter appears not to have been printed ; at least, no trace of it has been found, either in print, or manuscript, in Spain, or in Germany ; and we are therefore compelled to begin with the Second, and to give the previous events in an Introduction.

  • Mr. Rich, of London, in his Catalogue of books relating to America, men-

tions a copy of the original edition of the Third Letter of Cortes as being in his possession, the price of which is marked at the high price of 101. 10s. or about fifiy-two Spanish dollars, on account of its very great rarity.