« PreviousContinue »
account, the best in my power then to furnish.
- Still, so little had vanity yet possessed me that I rarely, or ever, alluded to my labors, and it was not till on the very eve of quitting Florence that one of my companions having spoken of my literary efforts, I yielded to the general request of the company, and for the first time read an extract from my work. I was flattered:-and where is he whose rigid mind disdains the dulcet sounds of flattery ?--
The love of praise, howe'er conceal'd by art,
Yet the soft and pleasing illusions thus produced gave birth to the wish that I was better entitled to commendation, and proportionately was I stimulated to render my production more worthy.
Since my return to England, some friends who sought the perusal of my narrative were pleased to express an approbation of it which encouraged its publication; their judgment, or perhaps partiality, effaced any further lingering reluctance still felt by me; and finally, I here submit this literary effort to that tribunal, the Public, to whose
decision, to whose censure, or praise, no one can be indifferent; and certainly not I.
Italy, and Rome more especially, abounds with matters of history, art, and science, which merit, and have elicited the deepest research, and profoundest discussion.-Of some such antiquarian relics, and records, my account is comparatively brief and concise; for however disposed I may have felt to have studied such topics deeper, yet since, unquestionably, the greater proportion of visitants to Italy are little inclined to ponder over elaborate disquisitions, I have, accordingly, occasionally given only a general historic and classic record, rather than a very minute and labored account; and have, sometimes, dedicated but a few pages to elucidate antiquarian researches concerning which other authors have written quartos.
But, nevertheless, however desirous I may have been to spare to others the trouble of too much reading, I have spared none to myself, but have gleaned the information I give from the most authentic sources accessible.
One further matter requires explanation.Pleased with the classic fictions of the ancient poets, and delighting in the perusal of the mythological fables and dreams of Pagan bards, as well for the exuberance of fancy they display, as for the beautiful allegory and moral often couched within them, there were, in my original manuscript, several notes explanatory of classic fictions which to insert in print may, to a scholar, appear superfluous. They were written at the moment when exploring or describing the works of art to which they refer; they served, at least, to refresh my own recollections; they may serve the same purpose to others; to that portion of the community who are generally presumed not to be so conversant as ourselves in this department of scholastic acquirement, these little elucidations may be acceptable; and for these various reasons they remain.
Accounts of travels through countries so frequented as those I have just explored admit not, by their very nature, of that novelty which constitutes so essential a charm and attraction to the majority of modern readers.-Observations may be
genuine, and independent, but our predecessors have seen, and said, like ourselves, and we who write last may exclaim with the Roman author:
Pereant qui ante nos dixere.
Nevertheless, frequent as are the tours to Italy, and multiplied as are the printed details of such travels, almost every successive journalist complains of the errors of his predecessors: I also could expatiate on the inadequacy of many of the works I perused, and which circumstance partly induced me to record my own impressions, but last, and least of all, would I seek to insinuate any better opinion of my own work by depreciating the productions of others.-Different authors will have varying feelings even for the very same object.-Italy more particularly presents the most exhaustless and diversified subjects for description; and those scenes which some may dwell upon with rapturous delight, others may pass by with cold indifference.
The general style of the ensuing narrative displays, perhaps occasionally, as much the character of the individual as the pretensions of an author.
-Written familiarly, and unaffectedly, it sometimes shows the unpremeditated effusions of the hour rather than the deliberate study of the head while classical and critical accounts mingle amid the more playful and familiar incidents with friends and associates. One principle, however, predominates throughout:-the Love of Truth. Superior talent, and deeper research, I wish my book possessed; but, at least, it is not tainted with any intentional misrepresentation, or wilful exaggeration; and I hope it is unclouded by any prejudice. My account of objects is justly as I have seen them, and found them; and in this narrative, professedly descriptive, I have preferred the simple majesty of truth to all the embellishments of fancy, and all the splendors of fiction.
London, Nov. 1823.