Washington Irving’s first publication

   Posted by: rring   in Uncategorized

I noticed a copy of this three-volume set for sale recently—fortunately we already have a copy (which we acquired in 1919).  It is a study compiled by Francois Depons (1751-1812), an agent of the French government stationed in Caracas, containing detailed information about the territory under the jurisdiction of the Captain-General—it includes history, conquest, topography, legislation, commerce, finance, and economic opportunities.  The text was translated from the French by Washington Irving (1783-1859), and was his first published work (his brother Peter and George Cains assisted).  Here is one excerpt which I thought interesting:

“No person [from Spain, much less Europe] is allowed to embark for Spanish America, without obtaining permission from the king, which is never granted but for commercial purposes, duly verified, and for a time commonly limited to two years . . . This system, as appears, is entirely opposite to that of other countries, who leave their colonies so unreservedly open to all who wish to go to them, that these establishments [the colonies] have been regarded rather as the foul receptacles of all the impurities of the mother country, than objects of deliberate predilection.  About thirty years ago, if a young man discovered any alarming symptoms of depravity in his conduct, he was threatened by his parents with being sent off to the colonies; and the common mode of proceeding was to apply to the public authority, in order to be able to execute the threat.  We have seen decrees passed in France to commute corporal punishments for transportation [i.e., forced exile] to the colonies . . . Spain, more just or tender towards her colonies . . . has always directed, and continues to direct, her whole attention to preserve the purity of their morals, and prevent them from receiving the taint of European corruption.  From the 7th of August, 1584, no person has been permitted to go to the West Indies, unless he could present authentic information with respect to his morals and good behavior” (vol. 1, pp. 107-08).

Want to see the book?  Here: http://library.trincoll.edu/voyager/shortcut.cfm?BIBID=516263

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 at 10:16 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed at this time.