The introduction to Part I. of the "Sketches of Switzerland," leaves very little for the author to say in addition. The reader will be prepared to meet with a long digression, that touches on the situation and interests of another country, and it is probable he will understand the author's motive for thus embracing matter that is not strictly connected with the principal subject of the work.
The first visit of the writer to Switzerland was paid in 1828; that which is related in these two volumes, in 1832. While four years had made no changes in the sublime nature of the region, they had seriously affected the political condition of all Europe. They had also produced a variance of feeling and taste in the author, that is the unavoidable consequences of time and experience. Four years in Europe are an age to the American, as are four years in America to the European. Jefferson has somewhere said, that no American ought to be more than five years, at a time, out of his own country, lest he get behind it. This may be true, as to its facts; but the author is convinced that there is more danger of his getting before it, as to opinion. It is not improbable that this book may furnish evidence of both these truths.
Some one, in criticising the First Part of Switzerland, has intimated that the writer has a purpose to serve with the "Trades' Unions," by the purport of some of his remarks. As this is a country in which the avowal of a tolerably sordid and base motive seems to be indispensable, even to safety, the writer desires to express his sense of the critic's liberality, as it may save him from a much graver imputation.
There is really a painful humiliation in the reflection, that a citizen of mature years, with as good natural and accidental means for preferment as have fallen to the share of most others, may pass his life without a fact of any sort to impeach his disinterestedness, and yet not be able to express a generous or just sentiment in behalf of his fellow-creatures, without laying himself open to suspicions that are as degrading to those who entertain them, as they are injurious to all independence of thought, and manliness of character.
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