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Calavar or The Knight of The Conquest, A Romance of Mexico   By: (1806-1854)

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CALAVAR

Or The Knight of the Conquest

A Romance of Mexico

by

ROBERT MONTGOMERY BIRD

Author of "Nick of the Woods," "The Infidel," Etc.

Escucha pues, un rato, y diré cosas Estrañas y espantosas, poco á poco.

GARCILASO DE LA VEGA.

Redfield 110 And 112 Nassau Street, New York. Third Edition.

1854

Entered according to the act of Congress in the year 1834, by Carey, Lea, & Blanchard, in the clerk's office of the district court for the eastern district of Pennsylvania.

PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION.

It is now thirteen years since the first publication of "Calavar," which, apart from the ordinary objects of an author, was written chiefly with a view of illustrating what was deemed the most romantic and poetical chapter in the history of the New World; but partly, also, with the hope of calling the attention of Americans to a portion of the continent which it required little political forecast to perceive must, before many years, assume a new and particular interest to the people of the United States. It was a part of the original design to prepare the way for a history of Mexico, which the author meditated; a design which was, however, soon abandoned. There was then little interest really felt in Mexican affairs, which presented, as they have always done since the first insurrection of Hidalgo, a scene of desperate confusion, not calculated to elevate republican institutions in the opinions of the world. Even the events in Texas had not, at that time, attracted much attention. Mexico was, in the popular notion, regarded as a part of South America, the alter ego almost of Peru, beyond the world, and the concerns of Americans. There was little thought, and less talk, of "the halls of the Montezumas;" and the ancient Mexican history was left to entertain school boys, in the pages of Robertson.

"Calavar" effected its more important purpose, as far as could be expected of a mere work of fiction. The revolution of Texas, which dismembered from the mountain republic the finest and fairest portion of her territory, attracted the eyes and speculations of the world; and from that moment, Mexico has been an object of regard. The admirable history of Prescott has rendered all readers familiar with the ancient annals of the Conquest; and now, with an American army thundering at the gates of the capital, and an American general resting his republican limbs on the throne of Guatimozin and the Spanish Viceroys, it may be believed that a more earnest and universal attention is directed towards Mexico than was ever before bestowed, since the time when Cortes conquered upon the same field of fame where Scott is now victorious. There is, indeed, a remarkable parallel between the invasions of the two great captains. There is the same route up the same difficult and lofty mountains; the same city, in the same most magnificent of valleys, as the object of attack; the same petty forces, and the same daring intrepidity leading them against millions of enemies, fighting in the heart of their own country; and finally, the same desperate fury of unequal armies contending in mortal combat on the causeways and in the streets of Mexico. We might say, perhaps, that there is the same purpose of conquest: but we do not believe that the American people aim at, or desire, the subjugation of Mexico.

"Calavar" was designed to describe the first campaign, or first year, of Cortes in Mexico. It was written with an attempt at the strictest historical accuracy compatible with the requisitions of romance; and as it embraces, in a narrow compass, and what was at least meant to be a popular form, a picture of the war of 1520, which so many will like to contrast with that of 1847, the publishers have thought that its revival, in a cheap edition, would prove acceptable to the reading community. The republication has, indeed, been suggested and called for by numerous persons desirous to obtain copies of the book, which has been for some time out of print... Continue reading book >>




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