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my title-page the responsibility of giving to such as may take me for a guide, a true account, so far as I am able, of all I deem most worthy of their attention, along the routes which I pursued.
In carrying out this design, I cannot flatter myself with having always satisfied the wishes of the reader, for I have very often fallen below my own. Many doubtful questions of utility or of mere taste must unavoidably occur in the prosecution of such an undertaking : it is not always easy to determine what space should be given to a particular topic; what amount of detail may be best adapted to produce a clear or full impression; how much of consideration or argument may be due to a prevalent theory or an ingenious hypothesis. Such questions are of perpetual occurrence; and the writer who would neither prose nor dogmatize, having no guide but his own discretion, is likely to be charged often, and sometimes justly, with both. I have in nothing felt these difficulties more than in my attempts to describe ancient monuments. In most instances I have consulted brevity, as
. most likely to be agreeable to the reader; in others, where the object possesses great intrinsic or historical interest, or where complication of plan and multiplicity of parts are involved -as they are in some of the remains of the massive Egyptian architecture--I have ventured, too far, perhaps, on one or two occasions, upon greater prolixity. For these offences against the taste or convenience of the reader, if in a few instances they are found to exist, I solicit his indulgence; and I beg him to believe that I was not always able to perceive a middle course between omitting all intelligible notice of some highly interesting monuments, and of enumerating so many of their particular features as might convey to the
mind a pretty full conception of them, though at the risk of being tedious, or even obscure. I am sure no one will be disposed to regard as intolerable an inconvenience which may be avoided with no greater trouble than that of turning over some twenty or thirty of these
I have adopted the form of a journal, giving incidents and objects in the order both of time and place in which they actually presented themselves to my notice. I am not insensible to the advantages of a more exact and scientific method, but I thought this better adapted, upon the whole, to the simple and unpretending character to which alone this work aspires. No inconsiderable portion of these pages is given to the reader precisely as they were written out amid the scenes which they describe: in the cabin of the rude boat in which I navigated the Nile; in the tent which gave me shelter in the Desert; and in my lodgings in the Holy City. I have not chosen to remodel this part of my materials; for, highly as I appreciate the ornaments of writing, I had neither strength nor time to give to such objects, nor was I quite satisfied that a more pains-taking elaboration would not detract something from the more important qualities of vivacity and truthfulness. In those parts of the work which are more especially devoted to events and objects met with in journeying, the order of time is the most obvious as well as natural principle of association; and it is here, if anywhere, that the frequent recurrence of dates and daily incidents is likely to become tiresome or distasteful. In treating of scenes more crowded with curious or important objects, where the observaions of an hour supply the materials of a chapter, the order of place more naturally becomes the ostensible
bond of connexion, and the diurnal character, however closely adhered to in the arrangement of facts, is likely to be little noticed by the reader.
Enough has probably been said of the occasion of this work, and of the manner and maxims followed in its preparation, I am not unmindful that graver matter is involved in the question which will naturally arise in several quarters, why such a work should be written at all ? why another book of travels should be thrown upon the burdened market, on regions already so fully explored, and with regard to which our reading public is abundantly supplied with information so ample and various, so recent and authentic? A sufficient answer to this inquiry might perhaps be derived from the terms in which it is proposed. The eagerness with which so many works on Egypt and Palestine have lately been received by our American public, evinces the profound and general interest with which these subjects are regarded, and is likely to be welcomed as an encouraging omen by the tourist who comes forward with a fresh offering. The new candidate for favour might also rest his expectations of moderate success upon some speciality of object or manner, in virtue of which he might hope to minister to a class of tastes and wants not so fully satisfied by other writers who treat of the same general topics with equal or greater ability. One of our American travellers, whose work has obtained an unexampled popularity on both sides of the Atlantic, has known how to throw the charms of romance upon the dreary track of the Desert, and to blend amusing personal adventure with graphic and truthful descriptions of interesting objects, to an extent that leaves the general reader little to desire, except, perhaps, somewhat more of exactness and fulness in details. · A
still later traveller has entitled himself to the gratitude of biblical scholars and of the religious public by his Biblical Researches, a work at once rich in the fruits of extensive erudition, and in the reports of faithful and shrewd observation. After enjoying favourable opportunities for forming an opinion upon the subject, I bear a willing testimony to the high and peculiar merits of both these authors: of Mr. Stephens, whose interesting sketches and amusing incidents have done more than any other work to awaken extensively the curiosity of the public; and of Dr. Robinson, who has contributed so largely to its gratification. I have thought, however, that there may still be a numerous and intelligent class of readers, serious in their tastes and practical in their objects, who are prepared to receive a report less enlivened by humour and incident, and quite destitute of pretensions to critical, philological, and antiquarian learning, but which shall yet exhibit, in a simple, perspicuous style, a pretty full narrative of whatever meets the eye of the traveller in these interesting regtons, whether in the form of their natural features or ancient monuments, or in the character, pursuits, and present condition of the inhabitants.
I am free to avow that these volumes would not have appeared, but for a hope that they may gain access to readers beyond the sphere of what is currently denominated the reading public: of those whose leisure or tastes, and professional habits, lead them to peruse all new books, or all belonging to certain departments of literature or science. I by no means undervalue the opinions of this most respectable class, which includes the natural and influential arbiters of literary merit and the dispensers of literary reputation; but such persons are already sufficiently provided for, and any new work upon the subjects
under consideration which does not possess some special claim on the score of critical and learned research-a claim that is likely to restrict its adaptation to professional readers—must find its principal sphere of usefulness in a circulation more strictly popular. Peculiarities of manner, or in his relations to society, will sometimes enable a writer, otherwise of no high pretensions, to cross the circumference of the fashionable literary circle and address a new audience; and it is about in proportion to its success in attaining to such a career that a new book of travels in Egypt, Arabia Petræa, and Palestine, can be regarded as really useful to the public. With this one condition in its favour, a book of travels is commonly a good book, and it must grossly violate either truth or good taste to counteract its natural and ordinary tendencies. Whether considered in reference to the intellectual tastes and habits produced or fostered by this species of reading, or to the practical worth of the knowledge which it imparts, or to the doubtful or pernicious character of the lighter literature which, so far as it goes, it is likely to supersede, every simple and true account of foreign countries, of their physical or moral peculiarities, manners, institutions, and historical monuments, and of their intellectual and economical condition, brings a valuable contribution to the best interests of education, good morals, and public happiness.
More than all this may be claimed in behalf of an unexceptionable book of Oriental travels. It has a religious character. It is a commentary upon the Bible, whose divine teachings derive from no other source illustrations so pleasing, so truly popular, and so effective. It has been pointedly remarked, and with more truth than usually comports with the brevity of an apothegm, that