Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Introduction

Excerpted from "England, Picturesque and Descriptive; A Reminiscence of Foreign Travel" by Joel Cook, 1882

No land possesses greater attractions for the American tourist than England. It was the home of his forefathers; its history is to a great extent the history of his own country; and he is bound to it by the powerful ties of consanguinity, language, laws, and customs. When the American treads the busy London streets, threads the intricacies of the Liverpool docks and shipping, wanders along the green lanes of Devonshire, climbs Alnwick's castellated walls, or floats upon the placid bosom of the picturesque Wye, he seems almost as much at home as in his native land. But, apart from these considerations of common Anglo-Saxon paternity, no country in the world is more interesting to the intelligent traveller than England. The British system of entail, whatever may be our opinion of its political and economic merits, has built up vast estates and preserved the stately homes, renowned castles, and ivy-clad ruins of ancient and celebrated structures, to an extent and variety that no other land can show. The remains of the abbeys, castles, churches, and ancient fortresses in England and Wales that war and time together have crumbled and scarred tell the history of centuries, while countless legends of the olden time are revived as the tourist passes them in review. England, too, has other charms than these. British scenery, though not always equal in sublimity and grandeur to that displayed in many parts of our own country, is exceedingly beautiful, and has always been a fruitful theme of song and story.

"The splendor falls on castle-walls
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes.
And the wild cataract leaps in glory."


Yet there are few satisfactory and comprehensive books about this land that is so full of renowned memorials of the past and so generously gifted by Nature. Such books as there are either cover a few counties or are devoted only to local description, or else are merely guide-books. The present work is believed to be the first attempt to give in attractive form a book which will serve not only as a guide to those about visiting England and Wales, but also as an agreeable reminiscence to others, who will find that its pages treat of familiar scenes. It would be impossible to describe everything within the brief compass of a single book, but it is believed that nearly all the more prominent places in England and Wales are included, with enough of their history and legend to make the description interesting. The artist's pencil has also been called into requisition, and the four hundred and eighty-seven illustrations will give an idea, such as no words can convey, of the attractions England presents to the tourist.

Philadelphia, July, 1882.

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