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he could hardly avoid displaying some portion of gratitude in return. We accordingly find him exceedingly prone to give favourable accounts of all the individuals of that country whom he has occasion to mention. He is profuse in his compliments to their learning, science, and their other good qualities, and nothing ever appears to shade the picture. We may easily conceive, therefore, that he must have seen both in individuals and institutions much more that met with his disapprobation than he has chosen to communicate. M. de Humboldt has brought forward a great mass of information regarding New Spain, a country of which we before knew very little indeed. Let the specious paragraphs of our celebrated countryman Robertson be attentively weighed, and we shall be astonished to find how little specific information they sometimes really contain.
The present work, however, furnishes us with precise data on a very great variety of important subjects. Yet it is to be regretted that the author could not throw occasionally more rapidity into his descriptions, and give somewhat more condensation to his materials. He is sometimes rather apt to indulge in repetition, and to swell his accounts with circumstances by no means essential to be told, but which have a necessary tendency to fatigue the attention of the reader. This failing is not peculiar to M. de Humboldt, but is common to him with too many authors, and particularly those of his own country, Germany. Indeed the faculty of selecting the more important and leading features of an object is, perhaps, the rarest and most valuable which any writer can possess. It is this which communicates such a charm to the history of Hume, and arrests so strongly our attention in the travels of Volney.
But whatever may be the sentiments of the translator on this subject, it is not for him to endeavour to alter his original to what he conceives a model of perfection. The public naturally wish to have his information in his own manner, and as nearly in his own terms as possible. It were well if even this was tolerably done; but the rapidity with which translations like the present must necessarily be executed will not admit of that flow and correctness of style which the leisure of the closet might produce. When we sit down to the translation of an established classic, we may patiently endeavour to transfuse the beauties and graces of the original into our own language; but the translation of a work like this, impatiently expected by the public, must lay claim to a very inferior degree of merit. A few notes have been occasionally thrown in by the translator, which he has
not the vanity to suppose of any great importance; but as they do not in general occupy much room, and as they served to amuse him in the course of the work, he hopes if they do not meet with the reader's. approbation, they will, at least, meet with his indulgence. In one of them, vol. i. p. 47. he observes that he has completely misunderstood the author, a circumstance certainly not the more justifiable, because it is by no means unusual with commentators.
The translator has been at some pains in ascertaining the value of the different foreign measures, weights, and monies, used by the author, and converting them into those of our own country. The omission of this is but too frequent in translations, though it is essential to any work which aims at being generally understood. These conversions, however, appear only in the notes, the original having undergone no alteration.
The orthography of the names has been preserved in the translation with few exceptions. The Spanish names of persons and places have never been touched, but in a few names of Indian nations, such as Azteques, Tolteques, &c. the ques has been converted into cs, the corresponding termination in our own language. Clavigero uses the same freedom in the Italian, writing these words Aztecchi, Toltecchi, &c. This liberty is perhaps justifiable, though it might not be advisable to go all the length recommended by Volney, in whose work on North America we can with difficulty recognize the names most familiar to us. Who, for instance, could find out Washington in Ouachinnetone? The various sounds given to the same letters by the different European nations occasion a good deal of perplexity. The same name assumes quite a distinct appearance in the
works of a French and an English travel