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My Dear Sidney Colvin,
The journey which this little book is to describe was very agreeable and
fortunate for me. After an uncouth beginning, I had the best of luck to
the end. But we are all travellers in what John Bunyan calls the
wilderness of this world--all, too, travellers with a donkey: and the
best that we find in our travels is an honest friend. He is a fortunate
voyager who finds many. We travel, indeed, to find them. They are the
end and the reward of life. They keep us worthy of ourselves; and when
we are alone, we are only nearer to the absent.
Every book is, in an intimate sense, a circular letter to the friends of
him who writes it. They alone take his meaning; they find private
messages, assurances of love, and expressions of gratitude, dropped for
them in every corner. The public is but a generous patron who defrays
the postage. Yet though the letter is directed to all, we have an old
and kindly custom of addressing it on the outside to one. Of what shall
a man be proud, if he is not proud of his friends? And so, my dear
Sidney Colvin, it is with pride that I sign myself affectionately yours,
R. L. S.
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