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THE VOYAGE TO CATHAY. .
BY THE AUTHOR OF
“THE BRAVO," "TII E HEADSMAN,” “THE LAST
OF THE MOHICANS," &c.
I fill this cup, to one made up of loveliness alone,
Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1840, by PREFACE.
J. FENIMORE COOPER, in the clerk's office of the district court of the United States, in
and for the northern district of New York.
J. FAGAN, STEREOTYPER.
So much has been written of late years, touching the discovery of America, that it would not be at all surprising should there exist a disposition in a certain class of readers to deny the accuracy of all the statements in this work. Some may refer to history, with a view to prove that there never were such persons as our hero and heroine, and fancy that by establishing these facts, they completely destroy the authenticity of the whole book. In answer to this anticipated objection, we will state, that after carefully perusing several of the Spanish writers, from Cervantes to the translator of the journal of Columbus, the Alpha and Omega of peninsular literature, and after having read both Irving and Prescott from beginning to end, we do not find a syllable in either of them, that we understand to be conclusive evidence, or indeed to be any evidence at all, on the portions of our subject that are likely to be disputed. Until some solid affirmative proof, therefore, can be produced against us, we shall hold our case to be made out, and rest our claims to be believed on the authority of our own statements. Nor do we think
there is any thing either unreasonable or unusual in this course, as perhaps the greater portion of that which is daily and hourly offered to the credence of the American public, rests on the same species of testimony,—with the trifling difference that we state truths, with a profession of fiction, while the great moral caterers of the age state fiction with the profession of truth. If any advantage can be fairly obtained over us, in consequence of this trifling discrepancy, we must submit.
There is one point, notwithstanding, concerning which it may be well to be frank at once. The narrative of the “Voyage to Cathay,” has been written with the journal of the Admiral before us; or, rather with all of that journal, that has been given to the world through the agency of a very incompetent and meagre editor. Nothing is plainer than the general fact that this person did not always understand his author, and in one particular circumstance he has written so obscurely, as not a little to embarrass even a novelist, whose functions naturally include an entire familiarity with the thoughts, emotions, characters, and, occasionally, with the unknown fates of the subjects of his pen. The nautical day formerly commenced at meridian, and with all our native ingenuity and high professional prerogatives we have not been able to discover whether the editor of the journal has adopted that mode of counting time, or whether he has condescended to use the