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The writer of this volume having experienced, as every Englishman visiting the Continent must have done, the want of any tolerable English Guide Book for Europe north of the Alps, was induced, partly for his own amusement, partly to assist his friends going abroad, to make copious notes of all that he thought worth observation, and of the best modes of travelling and seeing things to advantage. In the course of repeated journeys and of occasional residence in various parts of the Continent, he not only traversed beaten routes, but visited many spots to which his countrymen rarely penetrate. Thus his materials have largely accumulated ; and in the hope that they may prove of as much service to the public generally, as he is assured they already have to private friends, he is now induced to put them forth in a printed form.
Most of the Guide Books hitherto published are either general descriptions compiled by persons not acquainted with the spots, and are therefore imperfect and erroneous, or are local histories, written by residents who do not sufficiently discriminate between what is peculiar to the place, and what is not worth seeing, or may be seen equally well or to greater advantage somewhere else. The latter overwhelm their readers with minute details of its history “ from the most ancient times," and with genealogies of its princes, &c. : the former confine themselves to a mere catalogue of buildings, institutions, and the like ; after reading which, the stranger is as much as ever in the dark as to what really are the curiosities of the place. They are often mere reprints of works published many years ago, by no means corrected, or brought down to the present time ; and whether accurate or not originally, are become, from the mere changes which each year produces, faulty and antiquated.
The writer of the Hand-book has endeavoured to confine himself to matter-of-fact descriptions of what ought to be seen at each place, and is calculated to interest an intelligent traveller, without bewildering his readers with an account of all that may be seen.
He has avoided chronological details ; and instead of abridging the records of a town from beginning to end, he has selected such local anecdotes as are connected with remarkable events which have happened there, or with distinguished men who have lived there. He has adopted as simple and condensed a style as possible, avoiding florid descriptions and exaggerated superlatives. Preferring to avail himself of the descriptions of others, where they appeared good and correct, to obtruding extracts from his own journals ; whenever an author of celebrity, such as Scott, Byron, or Southey, has described a place, he has made a point of extracting the passage, knowing how much the perusal of it on the spot, where the works themselves are not to be procured, will enhance the interest of seeing the objects described.
The subject of this volume, and the purpose for which it is written, admit of little novelty, most of the information it contains being necessarily derived from books, modified by actual observations. But many of the works consulted are in foreign languages, and not easily accessible to English readers. To this have been added the results of the writer's personal experience and inquiries made on the spot ; and he has taken much pains to acquire the most recent information from the best authorities, and to bring it down to the present time. Many of the routes also have never before been laid down in any Guide Book published in this country, and the whole is so arranged as to be fitted for the use of the English traveller. This volume is complete in itself as far as it goes, and is intended to preclude the necessity of resorting to any other Guide Book in the countries which it professes to describe.
Should the book be found to possess any superiority over others of its class, it is because it is based upon a personal knowledge of the countries described ; since those routes which have not been travelled over by the author himself, have, with very few exceptions, been revised by friends to whom they are actually known. Many of the descriptions of routes have already served to guide travellers abroad, and have thus been verified on the spot.
That such a work can be faultless is impossible, and the author has therefore to throw himself on the indulgence of his readers, to excuse the inaccuracies (numerous, no doubt) which may occur in the course of it, especially in the first Edition, in spite of the care taken to avoid them; and he most particularly requests all who make use of it to favour him, by transmitting, through his publisher, a notice of any mistakes or omissions which they may discover. Such communications will be carefully attended to in the event of a new edition being required, The blunders of the author of a “ Tour on the Continent,” published for the edification of the public at home, may escape detection, but a book of this kind, every word of which is liable to be weighed and verified on the spot, is subjected to a much more severe test and criticism. What Dr. Johnson said of Dictionaries is also applicable to Guide Books :-" They are like watches; the worst is better than none- e—the best cannot be expected to go quite true.”
The writer begs to express his acknowledgments to numerous friends, whose names he is not at liberty to mention, who have obligingly favoured him with notes and corrections during the printing of the book.
Should the Hand-book for Northern Germany meet with a favourable reception, it will be followed at a short interval by a Hand-book for Southern Germany*, including the interesting ranges of the Austrian, Tyrolese, Bavarian, and Salzburg Alps (many parts of which surpass even Switzerland in beauty), and the descent of the Danube from Ulm to Vienna, and thence to the Black Sea. These two volumes will thus form a complete guide for the whole of Germany from the Baltic to the Alps and Adriatic.
The Hand-book for Switzerland will form a third volumet-the materials for which are already collected.
* Published in 1837.
+ In the press, 1838.