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ised. He cultivated brevity and was chary of lengthy
excursions into the classics in search of comparisons and
sanctions. His letters frequently show signs of the haste
in which they were composed: sometimes the messenger
who was to carry them to Rome, was waiting, booted and
spurred, in the ante-chamber. Juan Vergara, secretary
to Cardinal Ximenes, declared his opinion that no more
exact and lucid record of contemporary events existed
than the letters of Peter Martyr, adding that he had him-
self often been present and witnessed with what haste
they were written, no care being taken to correct and
polish their style.
The cultivated ears of Ciceronian Latinists—such as
Cardinal Bembo who refused to read the Vulgate for fear
of spoiling his style—were naturally offended by the
phraseology of the Decades. Measured by standards so
precious, the Latin of Peter Martyr is faulty and crude,
resembling rather a modern dialect than the classical
tongue of ancient Rome."
It is their substance, not their form, that gives Martyr's
writings their value, though his facile style is not devoid
of elegance, if measured by other than severely classical
standards. Not as a man of letters, but as an historian
does he enjoy the perennial honour to which in life he
aspired. Observation is the foundation of history, and
Martyr was pre-eminently a keen and discriminating
observer, a diligent and conscientious chronicler of the
events he observed, hence are the laurels of the historian
equitably his. Similar to the hasty entries in a journal,
daily written, his letters possess an unstudied freshness,
a convincing actuality, that would undoubtedly have been
* Ciampi's comment is accurate and just: Non si, puo dire che sia un
latino bellisimo. Equale lo parlavano e scriveano gli uomini d'affari. A noi
é, pero, men discaro che non sia ai forestieri, in quanto che noi troviamo
dentro il movimento, il frassegiare proprio della nostra lingua, e sotto la frase

incolta latina, indowiniamo il pensiero nato in italiano che, spogliato da not della veste imbarazzanta ci ritorna ignudo si, ma schietto ed efficace.


marred by the retouching required to perfect their literary style. The reproach of carelessness in neglecting to systematise his manuscripts applies more to the collection in the Opus Epistolarum than to the letters composing the Decades which we are especially considering, and likewise in the former work are found those qualities of lightness and frivolity, justifying Sir Arthur Helps's description of him as a gossipy man of letters, reminding English readers occasionally of Horace Walpole and Mr. Pepys. Hakluyt praised his descriptions of natural phenomena as excelling those penned by Aristotle, Pliny, Theophrastus, and Columella."

After a period of partial oblivion, Alexander von Humboldt, in the early years of the nineteenth century, rediscovered the neglected merits of our author and, by his enlightened criticism and commentaries, restored to his writings the consideration they had originally enjoyed. Ratified by Prescott, Humboldt's judgment has been confirmed by all subsequent historians.

No further claim is made for this present translation of the Decades than fidelity and lucidity. Its purpose is to render more easily accessible to English readers, unfamiliar with the original Latin, the earliest historical work on the New World.

* Lebrija praised Martyr's verses, declaring him to be the best poet amongst the Italians in Spain. One of his poems, Pluto Furens, was dedicated to Alexander VI., whom he cordially detested and whose election to the papal chair he deplored. Unfortunately none of his poems has been preserved.

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P. Martyris Angli [sic] mediolanensis opera. Legatio Babylonica, Oceani Decas, Poemata, Epigrammata. Cum privilegio. Impressum Hispali cum summa diligentia per Jacobum Corumberger Alemanum, anno millesimo quingentessimo XI, mense vero Aprili, in fol.

This Gothic edition contains only the First Decade.

Two Italian books compiled from the writings of Peter Martyr antedate the above edition of 15II. Angelo Trevisan, secretary to the Venetian ambassador in Spain, forwarded to Domenico Malipiero certain material which he admitted having obtained from a personal friend of Columbus, who went as envoy to the Sultan of Egypt. The reference to Peter Martyr is sufficiently clear. The work of Trevisan appeared in 1504 under the title, Libretto di tutta la navigazione del re di Spagna de le isole et terreni novamente trovati. Published by Albertino Vercellese da Lisbona. Three years later, in 1507, a compilation containing parts of this same work was printed at Vicenza by Fracanzio, at Milan by Arcangelo Madrignano in 1508, and at Basle and Paris by Simon Gryneo. The volume was entitled Paesi novamente ritrovati et Novo Mondo, etc. Peter Martyr attributed the piracy to Aloisio da Cadamosto, whom he consequently scathingly denounces in the seventh book of the Second Decade.

In the year 1516 the first edition of the Decades, De rebus oceanis et Orbe Novo Decades tres, etc., was printed at Alcalá

de Henares under the supervision of Peter Martyr's friend, vol. 1.-4 49

the eminent Latinist, Antonio de Nebrija, who even took care to polish the author's Latin where the composition fell short of his own exacting standard. Cura et diligentia Antonii Nebrissensis fuerent tres protonotari Petri Martyris decades impressas im contubernio Arnaldi Guillelmi in illustri oppido Carpetanæ provinciae, compluto quod vulgariter dicitur Alcalá. Factum est nonisNovembris, anno 1516 in fol. The appearance of this edition had the character of a veritable literary event and the success of the work was immediate and widespread. The narrative covered a period of somewhat more than twenty years, beginning with the first expedition of Columbus.

Four years later a Foürth Decade was published byits author, this being the last work he gave to the press during his lifetime. The earliest known copy was printed in Basle in 1521, the title being De insulis nuper repertis simultaque incolarum moribus. An Italian and a German edition of the same in 152o are noted by Harrisse. (Consult Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima, p. 77, Additions, p. 8o.)

De Insulis nuper inventis Ferdinandi Cortesii ad Carolum V. Rom. Imperatorem Narrationes, cum alio quodam Petri Martyris ad Clementem VII. Pontificem Maximum consimilis argumenti libello. Coloniæ ex officina Melchioris Novesiani, anno MDXXXII. Decimo Kalendar Septembris.

The Fourth Decade under the title, De Insulis nuper inventis, etc., was republished in Basle in 1533 and again in Antwerp in


De Legatione Babylonica, Parisiis, 1532, contains also the first three Decades. Mazzuchelli mentions an edition of the eight Decades published in Paris in 1536.

De Orbe Novo Petri Martyris ab Angleria, mediolanensis protonotarii Cæsaris senatoris Decades. Cum privilegio imperiali. Compluti apud Michælem d'Eguia, anno MDXXX, in fol.

De rebus Oceanicis et Novo Orbe Decades tres Petri Martyres ab Angheria Mediolanensis, item ejusdem de Babylonica Legationis libri tres. Et item, De Rebus AEthiopicis, etc. Coloniae, apud Gervinum Caleniumet haeredes Quentelios. MDLXXIIII.

De Orbe Novo Petri Martyris Anglerii mediolamensis, protonotarii et Caroli quinti Senatoris, decades octo, diligente temporum observatione et utilissimis annotationibus illustratae, suoque mitore restitude labore et industria Richardi Hakluyti Oxoniensis, Arngli. Parisiis apud Guillelmum Auvray, 1587.

This edition is dedicated to Sir Walter Raleigh: “illustri et magannimo viro Gualtero Ralegho.”

An exceedingly rare and precious book published in Venice in 1534 contains extracts from the writings of Peter Martyr. It bears the title: Libro primo della historia dell' Indie Occidentali. Summario de la generale historia dell'Indie Occidentali cavato da libri scritti dal Signor Don Pietro Martyre, etc., Venezia, I534. Under the same title this summario is published in the third volume of Ramusio, Delle Navigationi et Viaggi.

An Italian translation of De Legatione Babylonica entitled Pietro Martyre Milanese, delle cose notabile dell'Egitto, tradotto dalla Lingue Latina in Lingua Italiana da Carlo Passi. In Venezia 1564.

Novus Orbis, idest navigationes primae in Americam. Roterodami per Jo. Leonardum Berevout, 1616. A French translation of this work was printed in Paris by Simon de Colimar, Extrait ou Recueil des Iles nouvellement trouvées en la grande Mer Océane au temps du Roy d'Espagne Ferdinand et Elizabeth, etc.

The history of Travayle in the West and East Indies, and other countries lying eyther way towardes the fruitfull and rich Moluccaps. With a discourse on the Northwest passage. Done into English by Richarde Eden. Newly set in order, augmented and finished by Richarde Willes. London, 1577. Richarde Jugge.

Republished in Edward Arber's work, The First Three English Books on America, Birmingham, 1885.

De Orbe Novo or the Historie of the West Indies, etc., comprised in eight decades. Whereof three have beene formerly translated

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