APOLOGIES for publications, like a tune played from the creation to the present time, have become so insufferable from repetition as to cease having meaning or interest. It matters not to the public by what accidental circumstance an author is first induced to " cast his bread upon the waters," be it only worth the eating; on this consideration alone it must sink or swim.
The object of this work is to afford an agreeable yet intelligent companion to the tourist and traveller; to throw as much local and historical information with reference to the Island generally, in a light, pleasing form, suited to the taste of the mass of readers, as could well be managed; and at the same time to point out such public improvements on the way as would naturally suggest themselves to an observing eye.
The Author is not unaware, and it may perhaps be said to him, that the perfection of writing was in ancient times considered to rest in the frequent use of the stylus in erasing, and that he might have very beneficially applied this instrument in annihilating many of the quotations with which perhaps what has been said is too freely interlarded: to this he has no further reply, than that he has written the work as he would have written his own journal, and not for the sake of making himself ridiculous by pedantry, being quite unambitious of the compliment, " much learning hath made thee mad."
If, in what has been attempted, the Author may be thought to have too severely animadverted on the social and political structure of that country, it has arisen from no carping or malevolent spirit, no disposition " to criticise the edifice by detecting flaws in the bricks;" neither has he been induced by acquaintanceship or otherwise (being a total stranger there) to produce any private individual before the public, to drag forward any reluctant culprit for public inspection, that has not, by his officiousness or natural position, been already there.
If, in one or two instances, the portrait here attempted to be sketched approaches nearer to the caricature than the original will warrant, let it be placed to the account of one whose mind, perhaps too keenly sensible of the ridiculous, suffers this infusion to mingle with the colours of his palette.
In a work, even of this inconsiderable nature and extent, there must necessarily be errors; and when to the natural fatality attending even the most cautious circumspection, be added other unfavourable circumstances (as in this case), not necessary to be mentioned, an author has no light occasion to apprehend the severity of public criticism.
" Trifles," says Bacon, " are like straws thrown up, to see which way the wind blows." It was the practice of many literary characters to consider the first edition of a work as a sort of feeler, an experiment upon the public, and upon which, if successful, they might improve and extend. I must confess I have adopted this idea; if this form of publication meet with approbation, it will be an easy matter (if desirable) to enter more deeply into the History and Antiquities of the Island " at a more convenient season."
The desire of comprising many of the changes which have taken place since the Author's autumnal tour (which a recent visit has enabled him to do), will account for the various anachronisms, or contradictions as to time, scattered through the work. It will be observed also, that many improvements suggested have since spontaneously appeared, and thus anticipated what is here said.
MALVERN, NEAR WORCESTER,
1st APRIL, 1836.