« AnteriorContinuar »
marks, and that the events and objects out of which the latter grew naturally, did not so well account for the former. His friends have found also, that he digressed too abruptly from one subject to another totally unconnected, and he has been advised to class and arrange his materials under different heads or chapters. It would have been recasting his work altogether, an undertaking above his strength or patience, and the advantage of which did not appear to him adequate to the labour. There is a certain charm in the journal-form, and a peculiar interest, which it was not worth while to sacrifice to greater order. Had he made separate chapters on the government, on political economy, &c., few readers would have taken the trouble of cutting the leaves of such chapters. They may just as easily skip digressions as chapters, and, glancing over the margin, read only where dates shew them that the traveller is again on the road, and tells of what he saw and not of what he thought,—as in novels, reflections are passed over, to come to the story and adventures.
He had collected some information respecting Ireland, which he thought might be interesting to foreign readers; but as he did not see that
part of the British empire, and had no opportunities of personal observation, he has introduced his remarks in an Appendix.
There are so few French travels, that the publication of this Journal might require an apology in France; in England it cannot be deemed necessary. Nothing is more usual for an Englishman, who has crossed the channel, spent his month or six weeks at Paris, when such a thing could be done, and pushed as far as the Lake of Geneva, than to publish on his return a Tour through France and Switzerland. The public, indeed, is not always grateful for such favours, and is apt sometimes to laugh at the traveller and his book. Yet this multiplicity of accounts of foreign countries, from real observation, has furnished new facts, spread general information, and tended to dissipate prejudices. There are, accordingly, fewer in England than in France,although the French are unconscious of theirs.
Should this work be favourably received in England, the success would be the more flattering, from the author's having done little to please. He has spoken with freedom, à charge and à décharge, but always with perfect sincerity, and,
he believes, with strict impartiality. This might not prove a recommendation everywhere, but he really hopes it may in England.
The author has not spoken of Bonaparte! This silence in the times in which we live may appear singular, and deserves some notice or explanation. He knows, in fact, his Imperial and Royal Majesty only through the medium of the newspapers, and has no new facts to communicate. As to what he may think of him, the opinions expressed in the work on matters of government will inform his readers sufficiently.
24th December, 1809. We found ourselves, on waking this morning early, anchored in the harbour of Falmouth, where we had arrived in the night, after a speedy and prosperous passage of twenty-one days from America, without a single storm to describe, or any extraordinary occurrence. This harbour is à small basin, surrounded with gentle hills. Looking round, we saw green fields, with cattle grazing,-a grove of trees,-some pines, and many green tufts like laurels. The town of Falmouth,little, old, and ugly, was seen on our left, and another assemblage of little old houses on our right, (Flushing); Pendennis Castle behind us, on a mound near the entrance of the harbour. VOL. I.
The air was calm and mild,-the sky of a very pale blue, a light mist hung over the landscape, and the general impression was peaceful and agreeable: on the surface of the water twenty or thirty ships, mostly packets, and two or three Dutch vessels with licenses,-a strange sort of trade! The custom-house officers mustered in crowds about the ship, ransacking every corner :-Barrels and bags, boxes and hampers of half-consumed provisions, empty bottles and full ones, musty straw and papers, and all that the dampness of a ship, pitch and tallow, and the hu man species confined in a narrow space, can produce of offensive sights and smells, were exposed to open day. These custom-house officers have seized a certain surplus of stores beyond what a ship is allowed to bring in port, whether the voyage has been long or short. I overheard the head seizer asking the Captain whether he preferred having his wine or his spirits seized; and the Captain seemed to take the proposal in very good part, and told me afterwards the man was very friendly to him. In this general confusion no breakfast could be expected; and permission being procured for the passengers to land, with their baggage, every one was eager to make his escape. I went on shore to reconnoitre, and to secure comfortable quarters, and brought back hot rolls,the olive-branch to the ark.