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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1841, by

HARPER & BROTHERS, in the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New York


The author is indebted to Mr. Van Buren, late Pres ident of the United States, for the opportunity of presenting to the public the following pages. He considers it proper to say, that his diplomatic appointment was for a specific purpose, not requiring a residence at the capital, and the object of his mission being fulfilled or fail. ing, he was at liberty to travel. At the time of his arrival in Central America, that country was distracted by a sanguinary civil war, which resulted, during his sojourn there, in the entire prostration of the Federal Government. By the protection and facilities afforded by his official character, he was enabled to accomplish what otherwise would have been impossible. His work embraces a journey of nearly three thousand miles in the interior of Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, including visits to eight ruined cities, with full illustrations from drawings taken on the spot by Mr. Catherwood. Its publication has been delayed on account of the engravings; but on one consideration the author does not regret the delay. Late intelligence from Central America enables him to express the belief that the state of anarchy in which he has represented that beautiful country no longer exists; the dark clouds which hung over it have passed away, civil war has ceased, and Central America may be welcomed back among republics.

New York, May, 1841.



Within three months from the time of the publication of his work, the author is called upon for a preface to the tenth edition. He considers himself bound to make some acknowledgment of the extraordinary favour it has received from the public. Prepared, as it was, in haste, with much embarrassment and perplexity on account of the engravings, and with but little time or opportunity for revising or correcting, it would not be surprising if it were found to contain many errors in facts and opinions. The author is happy, however, in being able to say that but few of the former have been brought home to him, and that on all material points his opinions remain substantially the same. A number of errors in the spelling of Spanish words have been corrected in the present edition.

When these pages reach the hands of the reader, the author will probably be again rambling among ruined cities. It is his intention to make a thorough exploration of the ruins of Yucatan, which he was prevented doing before by the illness of Mr. Catherwood. Mr. Catherwood will again accompany him. They will be provided with the Daguerreotype, which instrument had not reached this country at the time of their embarcation for Central America; and if they meet with no misadventure, they will offer to the public the result of their labours.

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