Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW-YORK, ss.

BE IT REMEMBER ED, that on the 11th day of October, A. D. 1827, in the fiftysecond year of the Independence of the United States of America, Nathaniel H. Carter, of the said district, hath deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as author in the words following, to wit:

“Letters from Europe, comprising the Journal of a Tour through Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Italy, and Switzerland, in the years 1825, 26, and '27. By N. H. Carter.”

In conformity to the Act of Congress of the United States, entitled, “An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the time therein mentioned;” and also, to an Act, entitled, “An Act, supplementary to an Act, entitled an Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and atching historical and other prints.”

FRED. I. BETTS,

[merged small][merged small][graphic]

AEOVERTISEMENT,

THE substance of a large proportion of the following Letters has already been published. In a revision of their contents, it has not been deemed advisable to change the form, in which they originally appeared; although it is liable to some objections, as necessarily leading to repetition, in the connecting links of a personal narrative. The same remark may be extended to the style, which is not the most suitable for a detail of facts, and for comprising useful information within the narrowest compass. But such was not the design of these sketches. The series of letters was commenced, without knowing to what extent it would be continued, and with no higher aim than amusement. To write a formal book of travels, with a view to instruction, was not originally, nor is it now, the author's intention. His tour was over a beaten track, through countries which have been traversed from time immemorial, and on which standard works are to be found, from pens in all respects better qualified for such a task than his own. He aspired to nothing beyond desultory and popular notices of scenes, objects, and persons, that fell within the sphere of his observation while abroad. The familiar form of letters, and a style more diffuse than would become a philosophical tourist, were thought to be best adapted to such a work. The materials of these Letters were collected during a tour of nearly two years. A full diary was uninterruptedly kept, from the day of embarkation at Sandy Hook, on the Sth of June, 1825, till the author's return thither, on the 6th of May, 1827. It was his invariable practice to bear about with him a pocket memorandum, and to note at the moment whatever attracted attention. Many of his scrawls in crayon convey a tolerable idea, to what degree the ship or boat was tossing upon the waves, or what was the roughness of the road, over which the coach was hurrying, at the time the entries were made. The substance of these memoranda was at the first pause, transcribed into a diary, in a more legible form; and from the latter, the sketches were drawn, with such references to books, for the correction of facts and dates, as time and opportunity enabled him to make. It is not a little remarkable, that in travelling a distance of fifteen or twenty thousand miles, in all possible modes, both by land and water; in an exposure of trunks to custom-house officers and servants at hotels; and in the risks of mails and packets, not a line of the original notes, nor of letters transmitted across the Atlantic, has been lost or obliterated. But notwithstanding such unwearied industry in collecting materials, and such singular good fortune in preserving them, the author cannot even hope to have escaped the common lot of tourists, in falling into numerous errors. It would indeed be next to a miracle, if such a volume of matter, gathered from ten thousand different sources, did not contain many blunders. Citations have sometimes been made from memory, without the facilities at hand of turning to the passages. In a word, it would be endless to enumerate the chances of inaccuracy; and no exemption is claimed, except from intentional misrepresentation, and misstatements arising from sheer indolence. It might be urged in extenuation of defects, whatever they may be found to be, that the tour was not contemplated, till a fortnight before the day of embarkation—a circumstance

which wholly precluded any preparatory course of reading or study. In regard to the topics introduced into the contents, the author has endeavoured to give them a popular cast, and to make them as general and miscellaneous as possible. His sketches were originally intended for all classes of readers; and the same character has still been preserved. The man of science will here look in vain for philosophical disquisitions; the antiquary, for any deep researches into the monuments of other ages; the scholar, for the stores of erudition; the connoisseur, for critical dissertations on the works of art; the statesman, for any new views of political institutions; or the moralist, for an analysis of national character, and of the elements of society. If the writer had been qualified to bring forward original observations in any of these departments, the plan of his work would not have permitted him to enter into elaborate discussions. It was his object to draw graphic sketches of men and things. The reader will soon discover, that the latter are much more prominent than the former. One cause of this defect, (for such it will doubtless be considered by some,) may be found in the constitution of the author's own mind and feelings. But may not plausible reasons be advanced, to justify what many may consider a fault? The outlines and fixtures of a country can be described with tolerable accuracy, in a transient visit; while a long residence among a people is required, to give any thing like a correct view of their manners and habits. He that has read the book of any foreign tourist, through the United States, must be aware, what broad caricatures of the country have generally been drawn. Besides, in the multitude of emigrants from Great Britain, France, and Italy, to our own shores, the moral distinctions and national character of those countries may be studied to as much advantage at home, as in London, Paris, or Rome. The same remark may be made, in relation to the state of science, literature, and politics. In an active intercourse with those nations, books, reviews, and newspapers are daily received, furnishing more authentic information in these departments, than can be gleaned in the cursory observations of a traveller. These apologies may in part obviate objections, which will unquestionably be raised, and of which the author, on a review of his pages, is as fully sensible, as will be any of his readers. Although as much variety and discrimination have been thrown into successive views, as the nature of the scenery would admit; yet it is feared, that in too many instances, changes have been necessarily rung in language and descriptive epithets. It is much easier to find fault, even with one's own writings, than to amend and improve. So far as it was practicable, defects of the kind alluded to have been corrected; but it was impossible to avoid them entirely, without remodelling the whole structure of the work, at an expense of time and labour, which the intrinsic value of the materials would not justify. An explanatory remark may be necessary, with respect to the persons of the narrative, as the changes may at times appear confused to the reader. The author was accompanied throughout his tour by a friend, who participated in its various incidents and pleasures. To his society was often added that of other American tourists; and in most instances, the disagreeable necessity of using a singular pronoun was avoided, except in cases requiring individuality of opinion. The same delicacy, in suppressing the names of persons alluded to, has been observed in the volumes, as in the original sketches, save only where it was impracticable to adopt appellatives, and where it was supposed no possible offence could be taken. Some apprehension is felt, that the terms of the prospectus

« AnteriorContinuar »