« PreviousContinue »
The Author does not mean by a preface to make unmeaning apologies for intruding his thoughts on the public, which should always be treated with truth and candour, but never wheedled with compliments or soothed with
For the purpose of recalling to mind the scenes which he witnessed during his travels, and renewing the impressions which time gradually steals from the memory, he carefully transcribed the letters he had written home during his absence; in performing this task, he has found it necessary both to retrench and to amplify--by which, however, the ease of the epistolary style has not, he presumes, materi. ally suffered.
The necessity of supplying the public 'with light and unelaborate reading, is felt by every one--and no works have this tendency more than accounts of foreign countries from real observation. They furnish new facts, spread
general information, dissipate prejudices, and conduct the fireside traveller through long and laborious journeys, without removing his feet from his audirons, or disturbing him from his arm-chair! He is carried into every scene described in the book before him, and the whole face of the country is made, as it were, visible to his imagination. To be sure, the public is already supplied with a copious catalogue of entertaining travellers; but the changes which frequently occur on the political horizon, require investigation from successive observers, -besides, every person does not view man. ners, politics and institutions through the same medium, and it is only by the collision of various opinions, that the light of truth can be elicited.
The Author has spoken with freedom on the various subjects he has treated, but always with perfect sincerity, and he believes with strict impartiality. He has exposed vice and error, without regard to the high rank or sacred name which shielded them; he hopes, however, that he has not portrayed them with a sombre and malignant pencil. He has lifted up the curtains of satire with a cautious hand, and has let in the blaze of ridicule on those who were sinning on the downy couch of indolence and sensuality.
The grave reader may find fault with the portive and playful strain in which some of he letters are written. In order to save himelf the trouble of inventing an appropriate anwer to this objection, the Author will quote 14 passage from Cowper, not inapplicable to the present case.
" I am cheerful upon paper sometimes, when I am absolutely the most dejected of all creatures. Desirous to gain something myself by my own letters, unprofitable as they may and must be to my friends, I keep melancholy out of them as much as I can, that I may, if possible, by assuming a less gloomy lair, deceive myself, and by feigning with a continuance, improve the fiction into reality."
The form of Letters has been chosen, to prevent any expectation of that formality of method, which is required in treatises on history, politics or philosophy. There is a certain charm in epistolary writing, felt by every readI er who has an inclination for the easier and more gentle exercises of the understanding; and it was not thought worth while to sacrifice this advantage to greater order, or more perspicuous arrangement.
It is presumed that the beautiful quotations selected as mottoes to the several Letters, will give pleasure to the lovers of poetry and fine
composition. This is certainly an innovation in books of travels-but not a disagreeable one. The hint was suggested by a passage in one of the Scotch novels, in which the writer says“ I have tagged with rhyme and blank verse the subdivisions of the work, in order to se duce continued attention by powers of composition of stronger attraction than my own.”
The pronf sheets of this work did not undergo the Author's revision: it is to be hoped, therefore, that it will not be subjected to se vere reprehension on account of its typographical inaccuracies. As it is also of a light, un. pretending nature, and more calculated for amusement than to expand the horizon of knowledge, the Reviewer cannot expect the cold correctness of an elaborate dissertation. A young Author who ventures before the public, is tremblingly alive to every murmur of disapprobation or breath of applause; he is on the edge of a precipice, which tempts him, as the transparent abyss does Goëthe's fisherman, to plunge headlong into the deceitful waves.
Baltimore, July, 1822.
CONTENTS OF VOL. I.
-III.-Laing's History of Scotland-Presbyterians of
the early Kirk-Old Mortality”_Bigotry of
the Scotch Clergy-Suicide of a prostitute,