Page:The Present State of Peru.djvu/254

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220
CUSTOMS AND MANNERS.

it. For this purpose we have purchased a prodigious quantity of manuscripts, which had hitherto been consigned to the dust, and to oblivion. On the afternoon of the day before yesterday, we were engaged in examining them, when the censor of our society threw out the idea of compiling and publishing a history of the public morals of these countries. We instantly repelled the thought, not only on account of the arduousness of the undertaking, but likewise of the risk of its not being acceptable, or taken in ill part. Our associate insisted that his proposition should be adopted; but we employed all our eloquence to persuade him that our apprehensions were well founded. A fortuitous accident enabled us to terminate the dispute. It chanced that among the above-mentioned manuscripts we met with a parchment half eaten by the worms, but whether from the pen of Tacitus, Florus, or Suetonius, is uncertain. Its context appeared to us to be very analogous to the subject under discussion; and we therefore agreed to translate it literally, so far as it was legible, and to publish it, with a view to see whether this respectable public is sufficiently docile to receive, without displeasure, corrections of a similar nature. It bears the inscription which has been already pointed out, and begins thus:

"——Quid rides? Mutato nomine de te
Fabula narratur. Horat.

"When the invincible Scipio destroyed Carthage, all Africa became subject to the Capitol. The spirit of enterprize inspired an ardent longing for certain regions which were in a manner inhabitable. There were entire nations who preferred the shores of Numidia to those of Italy. Many cities

were