Writers in the sphere of Mexican and Peruvian myth have been few. The first to attack the subject in the light of the modern science of comparative religion was Daniel Garrison Brinton, professor of American languages and archaeology in the University of Philadelphia. He has been followed by Payne, Schellhas, Seler, and Rrstemann, all of whom, however, have confined the publication of their researches to isolated articles in various geographical and scientific journals. The remarks of mythologists who are not also Americanists upon the subject of American myth must be accepted with caution. The question of the alphabets of ancient America is perhaps the most acute in present-day pre-Columbian archaeology. But progress is being made in this branch of the subject, and several scholars are working in whole-hearted co-operation to secure final results. What has Great Britain accomplished in this new and fascinating field of science? If the lifelong and valuable labours of the late Sir Clements Markham be excepted, almost nothing. It is earnestly hoped that the publication of this volume may prove the means of leading many English students to the study and consideration of American archaeology. There remains the romance of old America. The real interest of American mediaeval history must ever circle around Mexico and Peru, her golden empires, her sole exemplars of civilisation; and it is to the books upon the character of these two nations that we must turn for a romantic interest as curious and as absorbing as that bound up in the history of Egypt or Assyria. If human interest is craved for by any man, let him turn to the narratives of Garcilasso el Inca de la Vega and Ixtlilxochitl, representatives and last descendants of the Peruvian and Tezcucan monarchies, and read there the frightful story of the path to fortune of red-heeled Pizarro and cruel Cortés, of the horrible cruelties committed upon the red man, whose colour was "that of the devil," of the awful pageant of fold-sated pirates laden with the treasures of palaces, of the stripping of temples whose very bricks were of gold, whose very drain-pipes were of silver, of rapine and the sacrilege of high places, of porphyry gods dashed down the pyramidal sides of lofty teocallis, of princesses tom from the very steps of the throne-ay, read these for the most wondrous tales ever writ by the hand of man, tales by the side of which the fables of Araby seem dim -the story of a clash of worlds, the conquest of a new, of an isolated hemisphere. It is usual to speak of America as "a continent without a history." The folly of such a statement is extreme. For centuries prior to European occupation Central America was the seat of civilisations boasting a history and a semi-historical mythology second to none in richness and interest. It is only because the sources of that history are unknown to the general reader that such assurance upon the lack of it exists. Let us hope that this book may assist in attracting many to the head-fountain of a river whose affluents water many a plain of beauty not the less lovely because bizarre, not the less fascinating because somewhat remote from modern thought. In conclusion I have to acknowledge the courtesy of the Bureau of American Ethnology, which placed in my hands a valuable collection of illustrations and allowed me to select from these at my discretion. The pictures chosen include the drawings used as tailpieces to chapters; others, usually half-tones, are duly acknowledged where they occur.