A short biographical notice of my late fellow-traveller may not be uninteresting to the readers of the present volume. Mr. John Lloyd Stephens, the second son of Mr. Benjamin Stephens, was born at Shrewsbury in the State of New Jersey, in the United States of America, in the year 1805. Until the age of thirteen, Mr. Stephens studied at the school of Mr. Nelson, who, although blind, is described as an admirable reader of the classics. For four years Mr. Stephens pursued his studies at Columbia College, New York, afterwards entered a law school, and when of age was admitted to the practice of the legal profession.
In the year 1834, the state of Mr. Stephens's health rendering it necessary for him to travel abroad, he visited many of the countries of Europe, extending his tour to Egypt and Syria. On his return to New York, he published Incidents of Trayel in Egypt, Arabia, Petræs, and the Holy Land," followed very shortly by "Incidents of Travel in Greece, Turkey, Russia, and Poland."
These works were received with great favour, and were very extensively read in the United States; and in this country have been several times reprinted, establishing Mr. Stephens's reputation as an excellent and agreeable writer of Travel and Narrative.
In 1839 Mr. Stephens and myself made arrangements for a tour in Central America, with a view to the examination of the remains of ancient art said to exist in the dense forests of those tropical regions.Our preparations were scarcely completed, when Mr. Leggett, who was on the point of setting out as United States Minister for that country, died very suddenly, and upon application for it, Mr. Stephens immediately received the appointment. We had some misgivings lest it should interfere with our antiquarian pursuits, but Mr. Stephens contrived, as the reader will find, to combine the chase after a Government with a successful hunt for ruined cities. Our journey occupied about seven or eight months of the years 1839 and 1840.