Should my style of writing be found not to possess all the polish that my readers may desire, it will at least record the true state of events; and I shall not be disappointed if it only serve to enable another to present a history of the same period in more elegant language and more orderly arrangement. I have principally directed my attention to a strict regard for truth, the soul of history, using neither art nor disguise in my description of things and events which I have seen and known; and in relating those matters which happened before my arrival, I have trusted to the information of dispassionate persons, worthy of credit. These were not easy to find in Peru, most persons having received either benefits or injuries from the party of Pizarro or that of Almagro; which were as violent in their mutual resentments as the adherents of Marius and Sylla, or of Caesar and Pompey of old.
In all histories there are three chief requisites: the designs, the actions, and the consequences. In the two latter particulars I have used all possible care to be accurate. If I may not always agree with other authors in regard to the first of these circumstances, I can only say that such is often the case with the most accurate and faithful historians. After I had finished this work, it was my intention to have kept it long unpublished, lest I might offend the families of those persons whose improper conduct is therein pourtrayed. But some persons to whom I had communicated my manuscript, shewed it to the king during his voyage to England, who had it read to him as an amusement from the tiresomeness of the voyage. My work had the good fortune to please his majesty, who honoured it with his approbation, and graciously commanded me to have it printed; and which I have the more readily complied with, as his royal commands may protect my book from the cavils of the censorious readers.
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Much difficulty occurs respecting the origin of the people who inhabited Peru and the other provinces of America, and by what means their ancestors could have crossed the vast extent of sea which separates that country from the old world. In my opinion this may be explained from what is said by Plato in his Timaeus, and the subsequent dialogue entitled Atlantis. He says: “That the Egyptians report, to the honour of the Athenians, that they contributed to defeat certain kings who came with a numerous army by sea from the great island of Atlantis, which, beginning beyond the Pillars of Hercules, is larger than all Asia and Africa together, and is divided into ten kingdoms which Neptune gave among his ten sons, Atlas, the eldest, having the largest and most valuable share.” Plato adds several remarkable particulars concerning the customs and riches of that island; especially concerning a magnificent temple in the chief city, the walls of which were entirely covered over with gold and silver, having a roof of