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If I were to assert that these Travels were not intended to see the light; that I give them to the public with regret, and as it were in spite of myself, I should tell the truth, and probably nobody would believe me.
My tour was not undertaken with the intention of writing it; I had a very different design, and this design I have accomplished in “the Martyrs.” I went in quest of images, and nothing more. I could not behold Sparta, Athens, Jerusalem, without making some reAections. Those reflections could not be introduced into the subject of an epopee; they were left in the journal which I kept of my tour, and it is these that I now submit to the public.
I must, therefore, request the reader to consider this work rather as memoirs of a year of my life, than as a book of travels. I pretend not to tread in the steps of a Chardin, a Tavernier, a Chandler, a Mungo Park, a Humboldt; or to be thoroughly acquainted with people, i through whose country I have merely passed. A moment is sufficient for a landscape-painter to sketch a tree, to take a view, to draw a ruin; but whole
years are too short for the study of men and manners, and for the profound investigation of the arts and sciences.
I am, nevertheless, fully aware of the respect that is due to the public, and it would be wrong to imagine that I am here ushering into the world a work that has cost me no pains, no researches, no labour : it will be
seen, on the contrary, that I have scrupulously fulfilled my duties as a writer. Had I done nothing but determine the site of Lacedæmon, discover a new tomb at Mycenæ, and ascertain the situation of the ports of Carthage, still I should deserve the gratitude of travellers.
In a work of this nature I have often been obliged to pass from the most serious reflections to the most familiar circumstances : now indulging my reveries among the ruins of Greece, now returning to the cares incident to the traveller, my style has necessarily followed the train of my ideas and the change in my situation. All readers, therefore, will not be pleased with the same passages ; some will seek my sentiments only, while others will prefer my adventures : these will feel themselves obliged to me for the positive information I have communicated respecting a great number of objects; those again will be tired of the observations on the arts, the study of monuments, and the historical digressions. For the rest, it is the man, much more than the author, that will be discovered throughout; I am continually speaking of myself, and I spoke, as I thought, in security, for I had no intention of publishing these Memoirs. But, as I have nothing in my heart that I am ashamed to display to all the world, I have made no retrenchment from my original notes. The object which I have in view will be accomplished, if the reader perceives a perfect sincerity from the beginning of the work to the end. A traveller is a kind of historian ; it is his duty to give a faithful account of what he has seen or heard; he should invent nothing, but then he must omit nothing; and, whatever may be his private opinions, he should never suffer them to bias him to such a degree as to suppress or to distort the truth.