Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

with an opinion of my bad faith as an author, my

bad faith as an author, my worthlessness as a man, and my utter incompetency as a Traveller, either to observe accurately what I heard and saw, or to describe intelligibly even the ordinary objects of curiosity or interest, has led to the most satisfactory result. Two of the individuals who first dared to give utterance to these aspersions, have, in a British Court of Justice, voluntarily confessed their falsehood, apologized for their misconduct, and submitted to verdicts being recorded against them; and the third has been convicted, before a crowded tribunal, and a jury of his countrymen, of being a false, scandalous, and malicious libeller, by a verdict which adjudged him to pay Four Hundred Pounds damages, and his full portion of the expenses of the legal proceedings, the whole of which, on the three actions tried, are understood to be upwards of Five Thousand Pounds sterling.

The details of the origin, progress, and termination of these trials, are given, for the satisfaction of the curious, in an APPENDIX at the end of the present volume. It is here thought sufficient, therefore, merely to record the fact, in order that the reader may be satisfied, before he enters on the perusal of the present Work, that its author, whatever may be his qualifications, is at least innocent of the charges framed and propagated by his accusers, and is worthy of the faith and confidence of his fellow-countrymen, as to the originality and fidelity of his descriptions and details. For the rest, he cheerfully submits this portion of his labours, as he has always readily done every other, to the ordeal of Public Opinion, to be neglected, censured, or approved, as its defects or merits may determine.

The circumstances under which this Journey was entered upon and completed being fully explained in the Narrative itself, it is only necessary to premise that it was performed without the pleasure and advantage of a European friend, companion, interpreter, servant, or attendant of any sort; that the dress, manners, and language of the country, were adopted, and continued throughout the whole of the

way;

and that the utmost care was taken to ensure as much accuracy as was attainable, by recording all the observations that suggested themselves while fresh on the memory, and amid the scenes and events which gave them birth.

It would scarcely be imagined, by those who have not taken the trouble to consult the authors whose accounts of this country exist, how scanty and imperfect is the information they collectively contain on the state and condition of Mesopotamia, even at the periods in which they wrote. Whether it was, that the difficulty of penetrating across its desert tracts, which has always been considerable, occupied all the attention of travellers in providing for their personal safety—or, that journeying as subjects of a different nation, and a different faith, they were unable to escape sufficiently from the observation of those around them, to record their researches without interruption—it is not easy to determine. Perhaps both of these causes may have operated to prevent their bringing away with them the ample details which it has been my good fortune to amass, respecting the interior of this interesting region, through which I travelled under all the advantages of respect and confidence from those around me, and with sufficient leisure and safety to enjoy unmolested opportunities of recording whatever appeared worthy of observation, before one series of impressions was obliterated by a succeeding train of objects and thoughts.

b

The principal Travellers who have made Mesopotamia the scene of their wanderings, have been the Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, an enterprising Jew, who, as early as the year 1170 of the Christian era, visited many

countries of the East, and wrote his observations in the Hebrew tongue, from which they have been subsequently translated into two of the languages of Europe ; Dr. Leonhardt Rauwolff, a German, who went, by the Euphrates, from Bir to Babylon, and returned from Bagdad to Aleppo, by land, about the year 1530; Pietro Della Valle, an Italian, who was in that country about 1620; Otter, a Frenchman, who travelled in 1730; and the celebrated Danish engineer, Niebuhr, about thirty years later. Since this last period, now nearly a century ago, there has been no Traveller of eminence, with whose works I am acquainted, who has had any opportunity of examining the country between the Euphrates and the Tigris, which strictly comprises the region of Mesopotamia ; though many have passed from Constantinople, east of the latter river, through Georgia, Armenia, and Koordistan, to Bagdad and Persia.

I have reason to believe, therefore, that my account of Mesopotamia will be more ample than that of the Travellers named, as I have had an opportunity of consulting each of their works, and seeing the extent of their materials ; and I am not without a hope, also, that it may be found as new and interesting, as it must be admitted to be copious and diffuse.. On a country, however, of which so little has been said by ancient travellers, and still less by modern ones, I considered that abundance, and even minuteness of detail, would be an error on the safe side; and, under this impression, I have permitted my observations, made on the way, to remain with little or no retrenchment: the opportunities of writing, which I enjoyed during this protracted journey, rendering it unnecessary to wait for further leisure, for the purpose of adding illustrations, or filling up the outline of the Narrative written on the spot. Such as the Journal of the Route, was, therefore, on terminating the Journey at Bagdad, such is it now presented to the Reader; and if he should, from this state of the Narrative, be enabled to enter more readily into the views, and participate more freely in the feelings, of the writer, it cannot fail to increase the pleasure of both.

The

map of Mesopotamia, with a Sketch of the Author's Route, has been constructed by Mr. Sidney Hall, from the original notes of bearings, distances, and time, recorded on the march; the Plan and Views of the existing Ruins of ancient Babylon are from the pencil of Mr. Rich, originally designed for his valuable and interesting Memoir, inserted in a Continental Work, under the direction of Baron von Hammer, entitled “Les Mines de l’Orient;" and the Illustrations at the Heads of Chapters, which embrace the most interesting of the many sketches taken on the journey, have been drawn on the wood by Mr. W. H. Brooke, whose reputation, in this department of graphic productions, is fully maintained by his present labours, and engraved by the several individuals whose names are placed opposite the respective subjects on the list ; while the peculiarly perfect manner in which the impressions are taken from the blocks, does much credit to the Printer.

Of the matter, style, and general literary character of the Work, the Public will form their own estimate. It would be affectation in me to pretend, after the ordinary custom of the age, that I had been persuaded, by the earnest solicitations of indulgent friends, and in opposition to my own judgment, to give these materials to the world; and on that ground to deprecate criticism, and seek shelter from scrutiny. I candidly confess, that I have been induced, by two more powerful considerations, to the execution of my task; first, the general approbation with which my former labours have been received; and secondly, the desire, which never forsakes me, of contributing—as far as my opportunities of observation, means of recording them, and capacity to render them intelligible, admit-my full share towards that accumulating stock of general instruction, which is now happily so largely drawn upon by all classes of the community, through which philanthropy and patriotism alike co-operate to encourage its diffusion. If this Offering, which I now lay with pleasure, not unmixed with hope, on the Altar of Public Information, be acceptable to those who see, in the extension of Knowledge, the surest means of ameliorating the condition of mankind, I shall be abundantly rewarded.

J. S. BUCKINGHAM.

TAVISTOCK SQUARE,

FEBRUARY 5, 1827.

« EdellinenJatka »