The continuance of Bayard Taylor’s Library of Travel in the popular favor is one of the accepted facts of the literary world. So much so, indeed, that a revision of his works on the part of another is to be permitted only on certain conditions of reserve, and by reason of events that have transpired since the death of the distinguished traveller.
Travellers and authors die; but the tribes, nations, and races visited by them continue on, making war or peace, changing frontiers, setting up or pulling down dynasties.
The whole political complexion of a country may be changed in a decade. Though the people of Arabia, the genuine Bedouins, are believed to have changed little or nothing in their mode of life since the days of the Shepherd Kings of Abraham’s time, waves of political and religious agitation have occasionally rippled over one part or another of the ancient peninsula. Seemingly they make as little permanent impression on the undercurrent of Bedouin life, as do the waves of the sea on its immutable whole, so that the accounts of the earlier chroniclers of Arabian life and manners agree in a singular manner with the descriptions of contemporary visitors. For this reason, no less than for the respect and admiration entertained by the reviser for Mr. Taylor’s conscientiousness and judgment as a traveller and compiler, and his literary excellence as an author, this volume remains, practically, as fully the work of its original editor as before.
By way of bringing it up to date, however, Chapter XVII. has been added, and such slight revision of preceding chapters has been made as was found necessary, consistent with the scope and intention of the new edition.