Pleasant Memories of Pleasant Lands/Preface
A traveller in climes so generally visited, as those which have given subjects to the present volume, will find it difficult to say what has not been said before. By every celebrated stream or mountain, amid the ivy of every mouldering ruin, at the gate of every castle, palace and cathedral, he doubtless met other travellers, with their note-books; and what he saw and described, they also may see and describe, perchance with a more glowing pencil.
Yet if he must resign the prospect of finding untrodden paths, he may still fix upon some spots where it will be profitable both to muse and to record impressions; and if he forfeit all right of discovery, may at least retain the power of promoting pleasurable feelings. With such hopes the following pages have been drawn forth and modified from the notes of a Journal regularly kept, during a tour which occupied the greater part of a year.
Their writer has not sought to dwell upon the dark shades of the countries that it was her privilege to visit. It might have been easy to fix the eye upon the blemishes that appertain to each, as it is to discern foibles in the most exalted character. Yet it is but a losing office to quit our own quiet fireside, and throw ourselves upon the stormy billows, for the sake of finding fault. This might be done with less fatigue and peril at home. She might doubtless have found a thorn here and there, but the rose was sweeter, and she preferred rather to press the flower, than to preserve the thorn. She might easily have gathered stinging nettles or brambles, but what she has avoided, multitudes who go the same road can find, and cull if they choose. So the lovers of poignancy may be gratified, from many sources, should they be compelled to pronounce this volume vapid and void of discrimination.
"When I have called the bad, bad" says Goethe, "how much is gained by that? He who would work aright, had better busy himself to show forth and to do that which is good." And, methinks, he who leaves his native land, to take note of foreign realms, and is brought again in safety to his own home and people, owes not only a great debt of gratitude to his Preserver but a new service of charity to those whom He has made. It would seem that an obligation was laid on him not to use the knowledge thus acquired to embarrass and embroil God's creatures, but to throw a filament of love, though it were only as a spider's web, to strengthen the amity of the nations.
And now, dear reader, if any such there be, who shall have patiently plodded through these my pages, thou art, for this very kindness, as a brother or sister unto me. And as we have here communed together of pleasant things, without perchance having seen each other's faces in the flesh, may we be so blessed as to dwell together in that country where no stranger sorroweth, where no wanderer goeth forth from his home with tears, and "where there is no more sea."
L. H. S.