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“ ITALY,” observes Dean Berkley, in a letter to Pope, “ is such an exhausted subject, that, I dare say, you would easily forgive my saying nothing about it.” If such a remark was applicable in 1717, how much more must it be so now, when, as d’Israeli expresses it, “ Travels and Voyages have become a class of literature so fashionable, that we begin to dread the arrival of certain persons from the Continent!” but more especially from Italy.
That a country so celebrated both in ancient and modern times, a country equally attractive to the antiquary, the painter, and the poet, would meet with many willing to undertake the task of describing it, rather than able to execute it properly, might well have been imagined. That some would fail from mere carelessness and inat
tention, and others from a too great fear of imitation, might also be expected. To the first adventurers, the very novelty of the subject would be sufficient to insure success, without much depth of observation or accuracy of description; while later writers, too studious of avoiding repetition, would seek to recommend by paradoxical assertion, and the artificial embellishments of style, that which no longer possessed the grace of novelty. Accordingly, though of late years scarcely any one has ventured upon the task, without first apologizing, like Dean Berkley, for attempting to do what had so often been attempted before, each succeeding tourist seems to have been more disposed to carp at the observations of his predecessors than to turn them to account; while, scared at the bugbear of plagiarism, not a few have occasionally fallen into the most ludicrous inconsistencies.
Hence it sometimes happens that the very multiplicity of works upon a giren subject affords a plausible pretext for the addition of another. When once such works become so numerous, that they can neither all be collected without much waste of money, nor all read without much waste of time, nor reconciled with each other when read; them a question arises, whether a condensation of their contents might not be advisable. And, indeed, as regards Italy, any one who should be disposed to abide by the decision of travel-writers themselves would be apt to think the question answered in the affirmative---so frequently have succeeding tourists taken the liberty of depreciating the labours of their predecessors.
Eustace's book, as one of the earliest and most voluminous that has appeared upon the subject during the present century, though applauded at first, has of late years been exposed to a larger share of censure than any other; indeed-notwithstanding its “ cloggy and cumbrous” style, notwithstanding its admitted verbiage - a larger share than it deserves. In the Notes to the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, its author has been characterized as “ one of the most inaccurate and unsatisfactory writers that have in our times attained a temporary reputation,” and as “ very seldom to be trusted, even when he speaks of objects which he must be presumed to have seen. His errors, (continues the writer of the note), from the simple exaggeration to the downright mistatement, are so frequent as to induce a suspicion that, he had either never visited the spots described, or had trusted to the fidelity of former writers. Indeed, the Classical Tour has every characteristic of a