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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.
The Guide Books hitherto published are for the most part either general descriptions compiled by persons not acquainted with the spots, and 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 English 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, Rogers, 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 observation. 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, 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, 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- - 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.
GIFT OF THE
MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY
NOV 17 1939
ABBREVIATIONS, &c. USED IN THE HAND-BOOK.
The points of the Compass are marked simply by the letters N. S. E. W.
(rt.) right, (l.) left. The right bank of a river is that which lies on the right hand of a person whose back is turned towards the source, or the quarter from which the current descends.
m.=mile, R. or Rte. Route, St. or Stat. = Railway Station.
The names of Inns precede the description of every place, (often in a parenthesis,) because the first information needed by a traveller is where to lodge. The best Inns, as far as they can be determined, are placed first.
Instead of designating a town by the vague words "large" or "small," the amount of the population, according to the latest census, is almost invariably stated, as presenting a more exact scale of the importance and size of the place.
In order to avoid repetition, the Routes through the larger states of Europe are preceded by a chapter of preliminary information; and to facilitate reference to it, each division or paragraph is separately numbered.
Every Route has a number, corresponding with the figures attached to the Route on the Map, which thus serves as an index to the Book; at the same time that it presents a tolerably exact view of the great high roads of Europe, and of the course of public conveyances.
The Map is to be placed at the end of the book.