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If I could have met the wishes of
my friends in any other way than by the publication of these Letters, they had never seen the light. But after many attempts and long delay, I found it impracticable, and, therefore, with much hesitation and reluctance, I committed them to the press. My intention at first was merely to print, not to publish them, hoping thus to escape the charge of obstinacy from my friends, and that of presumption from the public; but I soon perceived that the plan of private circulation would only involve me in innumerable difficulties, and I at length found myself compelled to publish. Thus
I am unintentionally and unexpectedly placed in a new character, that of a tourist, before the tribunal of the public, a character in which I was never ambitious to appear, and for the support of which I am well aware how slender are my qualifications. That my little unassuming volume will pass beyond the circle of my immediate friends I have not the vanity to believe ; yet, even in its circulation amongst them, it may encounter the glance and excite the eriticism of some individuals who know nothing of its author, or the motives in which it originated. I owe it to myself, therefore, to refer such to the above explanation, that I may not suffer under the imputation of sinister or ostentatious views, which in this publication I utterly disavow.
If the perusal of these letters shall recall, with pleasing emotions, to the companions of my tour, the lovely scenes we have explored, and the happy hours we have
passed together: If they shall communicate information and amusement to any of my young friends, into whose hands the larger and more able narratives of preceding or cotemporary tourists may not have come : And, above all, if the facts here recorded, and the scenes described, shall have awakened in my own bosom, or shall excite in that of others, a livelier feeling of devotion and gratitude to God, for those moral and religious advantages which we in this happy land enjoy, I shall be satisfied that I have neither travelled nor written in vain.
Liverpool, May 15, 1818.