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The Discovery of America Vol. 1 (of 2) with some account of Ancient America and the Spanish Conquest   By: (1842-1901)

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[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling has been maintained.

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THE

DISCOVERY OF AMERICA

WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF ANCIENT AMERICA AND THE SPANISH CONQUEST

BY

JOHN FISKE

IN TWO VOLUMES

VOL. I.

Then I unbar the doors; my paths lead out The exodus of nations; I disperse Men to all shores that front the hoary main. I too have arts and sorceries; Illusion dwells forever with the wave. I make some coast alluring, some lone isle To distant men, who must go there or die. EMERSON

[Illustration: Editor's arm.]

BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY The Riverside Press, Cambridge 1897

Copyright, 1892, By JOHN FISKE.

All rights reserved.

SIXTEENTH THOUSAND.

The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A. Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company.

TO

EDWARD AUGUSTUS FREEMAN,

A SCHOLAR WHO INHERITS THE GIFT OF MIDAS, AND TURNS INTO GOLD WHATEVER SUBJECT HE TOUCHES, I DEDICATE THIS BOOK, WITH GRATITUDE FOR ALL THAT HE HAS TAUGHT ME

PREFACE.

The present work is the outcome of two lines of study pursued, with more or less interruption from other studies, for about thirty years. It will be observed that the book has two themes, as different in character as the themes for voice and piano in Schubert's "Frühlingsglaube," and yet so closely related that the one is needful for an adequate comprehension of the other. In order to view in their true perspective the series of events comprised in the Discovery of America, one needs to form a mental picture of that strange world of savagery and barbarism to which civilized Europeans were for the first time introduced in the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, in their voyages along the African coast, into the Indian and Pacific oceans, and across the Atlantic. Nothing that Europeans discovered during that stirring period was so remarkable as these antique phases of human society, the mere existence of which had scarcely been suspected, and the real character of which it has been left for the present generation to begin to understand. Nowhere was this ancient society so full of instructive lessons as in aboriginal America, which had pursued its own course of development, cut off and isolated from the Old World, for probably more than fifty thousand years. The imperishable interest of those episodes in the Discovery of America known as the conquests of Mexico and Peru consists chiefly in the glimpses they afford us of this primitive world. It was not an uninhabited continent that the Spaniards found, and in order to comprehend the course of events it is necessary to know something about those social features that formed a large part of the burden of the letters of Columbus and Vespucius, and excited even more intense and general interest in Europe than the purely geographical questions suggested by the voyages of those great sailors. The descriptions of ancient America, therefore, which form a kind of background to the present work, need no apology.

It was the study of prehistoric Europe and of early Aryan institutions that led me by a natural sequence to the study of aboriginal America. In 1869, after sketching the plan of a book on our Aryan forefathers, I was turned aside for five years by writing "Cosmic Philosophy." During that interval I also wrote "Myths and Myth Makers" as a side work to the projected book on the Aryans, and as soon as the excursion into the field of general philosophy was ended, in 1874, the work on that book was resumed... Continue reading book >>




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