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Travels through the States of North America and the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada
During the years of 1795, 1796 and 1797 by Isaac Weld, Jun. (1807) in two volumes.


PREFACE

AT a period when War was spreading desolation over the fairest parts of Europe, when anarchy seemed to be extending its frightful progress from nation to nation, and when the storms that were gathering over his native country in particular, rendered it impossible to say how soon any one of its inhabitants might be forced to seek for refuge in a foreign land; the Author of the following pages was induced to cross the Atlantic, for the purpose of examining with his own eyes into the truth of the various accounts which had been_ given of the flourishing and happy condition of the United States of America, and of ascertaining whether, in case of future emergency, any part of those territories might be looked forward to as an eligible and agreeable place of abode. Arrived in America, he travelled pretty generally through the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and New York ; he afterwards passed into the Canadas, desirous of obtaining equal information as to the state of those provinces, and of determining from his own immediate observations, how far the present condition of the inhabitants of the British dominions in America might be inferior or otherwise, to that of the people of the States, who had now indeed thrown off the yoke, but were formerly common members of the same extensive empire.

When abroad he had not the most distant intention of publishing his travels; but finding on his return home, that much of the matter contained in the following letters was quite new to his friends, and being induced to think that it might prove equally new, and not wholly unacceptable to the Public, he came to the resolution of committing them to print: accordingly the present volume is now offered to the world, in an humble hope, that if not entertaining to all readers, it will at least be so to some, as well as useful to future travellers.

If it shall appear to any one, that he has spoken with too much asperity of American men and American manners, the author bogs that such language may not be ascribed to hasty prejudice, and a blind partiality for every thing that is European. He crossed the Atlantic strongly prepossessed in favour of the people, and the country, which he was about to visit ; and if he returned with sentiments of a different tendency, they resulted solely from a cool and dispassionate observation of what chance presented to his view when abroad.

An enthusiastic admirer of the beauties of Nature, the scenery of the countries through which he passed did not fail to attract a great part of his attention ; and interspersed through the book will be found views of what he thought would be most interesting .'to his readers : they are what he himself sketched upon the spot, that of Mount Vernon, the seat of General Washington, indeed, excepted, for which he is indebted to an ingenious friend that he met in America, and the view of Bethlehem. He has many more views in his possession; but he thought it better to furnish his publisher with a few only, in hopes that the engraving from them would be well executed, rather than with a great many, which, had they been given must either have been in a style unworthy of the Public eye, or else have swelled the price of the volume beyond the reach of many that may now read it. Of the resemblance which these views bear to their respective archetypes, those alone can be judges, who have been spectators of the original scenes. With regard to the Cataract of Niagara, however, it must be observed, that in views on so small a scale,, no one must expect to find a lively representation of its wonderful and terrific vastness, even were they executed by artists of far superior merit; the inserting of the three in the present work is done merely in the hope that they may help, together with the ground plan of the precipice, if it may be so called; to give a general idea of the position and appearance of that stupendous Cataract. Those who are desirous of becoming more intimately acquainted with if will soon be gratified at least so he has been given to understand by the artist in whose hands they at present are, with a set of views from the masterly pencil of Captain Fisher, of the Royal British Artillery, which are allowed by all those who had visited the Falls of Niagara to convey a more perfect idea of that wonderful natural curiosity, than any paintings or engravings that are extant. '

Finally, before the Reader proceeds to the perusal of the ensuing pages, the Author will just beg leave to apprize him, that they are the production of a very youthful pen, unaccustomed to write a great deal, far less to write for the press, ft is now for the first time that one of its productions is ventured to be laid before the public eye. As a first attempt, therefore, it is humbly hoped that the present work may meet with a generous indulgence, and not be too severely criticised on account of its numerous imperfections.

Dublin,
20th December, 1798.

Volume 1  |  Volume 2


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