History of a Six Weeks' Tour


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Through a Part of France, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland: With Letters Descriptive of a Sail Round the Lake of Geneva, and of the Glaciers of Chamouni.


Authors: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley


(1817)


PREFACE:


Nothing can be more unpresuming
than this little volume. It contains
the account of some desultory visits
by a party of young people to scenes
which are now so familiar to our countrymen,
that few facts relating to them
can be expected to have escaped the
many more experienced and exact observers,
who have sent their journals
to the press. In fact, they have done
little else than arrange the few materials
which an imperfect journal, and
two or three letters to their friends in
England afforded. They regret, since
their little History is to be offered to
the public, that these materials were
not more copious and complete. This
is a just topic of censure to those
who are less inclined to be amused
than to condemn. Those whose youth
has been past as theirs (with what
success it imports not) in pursuing,
like the swallow, the inconstant summer
of delight and beauty which invests
this visible world, will perhaps
find some entertainment in following
the author, with her husband and
sister, on foot, through part of France
and Switzerland, and in sailing with
her down the castled Rhine, through
scenes beautiful in themselves, but
which, since she visited them, a great
Poet has clothed with the freshness of
a diviner nature. They will be interested
to hear of one who has visited
Mellerie, and Clarens, and Chillon, and
Vevai—classic ground, peopled with
tender and glorious imaginations of the
present and the past.

They have perhaps never talked with
one who has beheld in the enthusiasm
of youth the glaciers, and the lakes,
and the forests, and the fountains of
the mighty Alps. Such will perhaps
forgive the imperfections of their narrative
for the sympathy which the
adventures and feelings which it recounts,
and a curiosity respecting
scenes already rendered interesting and
illustrious, may excite.

The Poem, entitled “Mont Blanc,”
is written by the author of the two letters
from Chamouni and Vevai. It was
composed under the immediate impression
of the deep and powerful feelings
excited by the objects which it attempts
to describe; and as an undisciplined
overflowing of the soul, rests its claim
to approbation on an attempt to imitate
the untameable wildness and inaccessible
solemnity from which those feelings
sprang.



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