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Out of the very numerous number of American citizens who visit Europe, I feel assured there are at least one, if not two thirds who determine on leaving the United States without any settled place, without any fixed resolve as to their ultimate place of destination, leaving to chance, when they arrive, or to the advice of their friends, the choice of their future residence or movements. Now, it unfortunately happens that every person who has travelled, takes his own particular view, forms his own particular opinion of the gaiety, the dulness, the cheapness, or the extravagance of the different towns he visits; an inequality of fortune or of health often giving a bias, and colouring with gloom or brightness the different cities he may be questioned about.
To obviate in some measure these conflicting modes of obtaining correct information, this volume is undertaken ; to point out the expenses to the economical traveller, the curiosities to be seen by the more inquisitive visiter, and to give a general view of the society and arrangements which may here be obtained by the more light-hearted voyager. Add to this, the best modes of travelling, and other subjects interesting and instructive to the tourist, and the object of the present work is given.
How often does the head of a family, or the single gentleman, about to leave the United States, desire to know, “ Is house-rent dear abroad? Which is the cheapest city to reside in? Is such a place healthy? Is such another gay ?" In fact, question is heaped upon question ; person after person is asked, and the whole result is a chaos of uncertainty, arising from the very different answers we receive from different persons. Facts, therefore, in black and white, calculations made on the spot, and many wholesome truths told in print, which, perhaps from shame of exposing the depth and solidity of our purse, or, indeed, confessing our ignorance, we should hesitate to ask, are welcome information to the still uncertain wanderer, who wavers as to where he best can find those objects he seeks, and will gladly, it is hoped, wel. come the present volume, and consult it as his guide, his silent friend, whether at home or abroad.
One of the greatest advantages I think of foreign travel, consists in its tendency to obliterate national prejudices. And I am not insensible to the truth, that no folly can be greater than that of sitting in judgment on a political system, of whose organic structure and practical workings we are ignorant; no prejudice narrower than that of supposing our own country is the limit of all that is wise in policy, noble in patriotism, and generous in virtue. Again, the intelligent traveller will often meet with excellences where he had expected blemishes ; he will find cause for admiration where he had looked for grounds of censure; will learn that eminent worth and virtue can and do flourish in the sterile and exhausted desert of tyranny, as well as in the more generous soil of public and individual freedom. But even charity has its limits; and to surrender the judgment upon the altar of a false expansion of views and sentiments, is a mark rather of weakness than of liberality.
In conclusion, I will observe, that impartiality has been my motto, and utility my object. Flowery language I have left to gild fiction; the facts I am striving to give publicity to, I have clothed in homely terms; I shall, therefore, offer no apology for a matter-of-fact style, which, though faulty in a romance writer, may be praiseworthy in the author of a notebook, a guide to travellers abroad; and beyond that title, this work lays no claim.
Believing I owe the reader an apology for my lengthy ex. ordium, I subscribe myself,
With great respect,
JOHN HENRY SHERBURNE. Philadelphia, March, 1847.