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20. Espinosa, Isidro Félix de. El
cherubin custodio de el arbol de la vida, la Santa Cruz de Querétaro.
Vida del Ve. siervo de Dios Fray Antonio de los Angeles Bustamante....
Mexico: Joseph Bernardo de Hogal, 1731.  216 pp., title within ornamental
border, copper-engraved plate. 4to, contemporary vellum (recased, new
endpapers), title in sepia ink on spine, remains of rawhide ties. Vellum
wrinkled and lightly stained, slight worming to the upper blank margins
of a few leaves, scattered light staining, edges of first few leaves
slightly tattered, overall very good. Rare.
First edition. Ayala Echavarri, Bibliografía histórica y geográfica de Querétaro 423. Beristain I:418. Medina, México 3173. Palau 82700. Sabin 22895. This biography is the first published work by Isidro Félix de Espinosa (1679-1755), a native of Querétaro who is considered the most famous and prolific chronicler of the Franciscan Order in the New World. “[Espinosa’s] contributions as a chronicler of early Texas history are without peer. Dubbed ‘the Julius Caesar of the Faith in New Spain,’ because he worked by day and wrote all night, Espinosa left a remarkable body of literature. It includes a biography of his friend, Antonio Margil de Jesús [see item 30], and his Crónica de los colegios de propaganda fide de la Nueva España, called ‘the most important contemporary account of the Franciscans in Texas’” (Handbook of Texas Online: Isidro Félix de Espinosa). Especially interesting is Espinosa’s prologue to this work, in which he recounts his trepidation and hesitation at being asked to take up his pen to write a biography; it is assumed he rarely felt such hesitation afterward. The author is remembered not only as a writer, but also as a missionary to Texas from 1709-1721. He worked with Margil and Aguayo in establishing the first permanent civil settlement in San Antonio and was named president of the Texas missions.
The work is unusual in that it chronicles the life of lay cleric, Father Antonio de los Angeles, who for many years was the beloved “portero” of the College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro. Extensive treatments of such ordinary people are fairly unusual. Father Antonio, a Spaniard who came to Mexico when he was very young to pursue a career in business, was successful in his enterprises but renounced all his earthly wealth to become a Franciscan monk. This biography presents an interesting picture of life in the Spanish viceroyalty of Mexico. The excellent copper-engraved portrait by Joaquín Sotomayor shows Father Antonio with the keys of his office and surrounded by the symbols of his duties (Mathes, Illustration in Colonial Mexico: Woodcuts and Copper Engravings in New Spain, 1539-1821 Register 3173). For more on the engraver, see Romero de Terreros, Grabados y grabadores de la Nueva España, pp. 537-538. The book is from the press of master printer Hogal, considered to be the Ibarra of Mexico.
“The Only Comprehensive History of the Colonization of Texas and the Texas Revolution from the Mexican Point of View” (Barker)
21. FILISOLA, Vicente. Memorias para la historia de la guerra de Tejas, por el General de División, D. Vicente Filisola, actual Presidente del Supremo Tribunal de Guerra y marina de la República.... Mexico: Ignacio Cumplido, 1849. 511 [1, blank] + 267 pp. 2 vols., 8vo (vol I., with original upper wrapper only [see illustration], vol. II in contemporary half leather). Some staining to wrapper and interiors, heavier in vol. 1 near the front. Some leaves irregularly trimmed. Rare, especially in wrappers.
First edition of the Cumplido edition of Filisola’s
memoirs (Rafael published an edition in Mexico in 1848 and 1849), the
Cumplido edition giving the best coverage of the Battle of the Alamo
and the 1836 campaign. Basic Texas Books 62: “The best account
by a Mexican contemporary of the American conquest of Texas. Eugene
C. Barker called it ‘the only comprehensive history of the colonization
of Texas and the Texas Revolution from the Mexican point of view.’...
The Rafael and Cumplido editions each stand on their own as separate
works but complement each other so much that both are necessary to have
a complete account.” Eberstadt, Texas 236. Howes F126. Palau
91612. Rader 1381. Raines, p. 82. Sabin 24324. Streeter 853n: “Filisola,
in two quite different works...gives, especially in the Cumplido work,
a much fuller account of the Texas campaign in 1836 and of the attempts
of a Texas campaign in 1837.... The Cumplido imprint reports in detail
upon the military operations from the taking of the Alamo in March 1836,
to about August 1, 1837. The account for the period from the taking
of the Alamo to shortly after the Battle of San Jacinto is much fuller
than in...the Raphael imprint.... What Filisola calls the second campaign
against Texas began in October, 1836, and is covered in the remaining
pages, 397-511, of Volume I and the 267 pages of Volume II. This work
printed by Cumplido is largely made up of army orders issued during
the period.... One of the most important sources on Texas from the 1820s
through 1837...enriched with scores of original documents and military
orders unavailable elsewhere.”
Filisola (1789-1850), a native of Italy who participated in many battles of the Napoleonic wars, came to Mexico in 1811, where he rapidly rose in the Mexican military because of his friendship with Iturbide. He received a colonization grant in Texas in 1831. In November 1835 he was appointed second in command to Santa Anna on the Mexican campaign to crush the rebellious Texans. For more on Filisola, see Valentine J. Belfiglio, The Italian Experience in Texas (Austin: Eakin Press, 1983) and Handbook of Texas Online (Vicente Filisola).