It has been the boast of some travel books to contain nothing that can either instruct or improve their readers. The boast is one I should like to make; for a book that entertains by its art alone will always be more welcome than one that forces attention upon its learning or righteousness.
Of these qualities, it is true, the following pages are innocent enough. But the motives that prompted the journeys they describe were not so innocent. I have travelled, I must confess, in search of both instruction and improvement.
As member of a community, and heir to a culture, whose joint worth is now in dispute, I would discover what ideas, if those of the West be inadequate, can with greater advantage be found to guide the world.
And to this end I would also know, in the language of my own senses, in whom and what the world consists. These vast considerations, let me hasten to add, find small place in the present volume. But they are responsible for its general attitude, since it is only from the sum of isolated journeys that even the shadow of an answer to them can ever be expected.