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ENTERED ACCORDING TO ACT OF CONGRESS, IN THE YEAR 1862,
By D. A. RANDALL,
IN THE CLERK's Office OF THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF Ohio.
WHY another book of travels and observations in the East? Has not the ground been traveled over, again and again, and book after book been written? What new, interesting, or instructive, can be presented ?
The writer is aware that many questions of this kind will arise, on reading the title-page of this book. He apprehends many will think the effort an unnecessary or superfluous one; still, he has resolved to give the public the book.
1. Because books, in the present condition of society, have become an essential requisite for the dissemination of knowledge, the promotion of morality and religion, or the increase of the pleasures and enjoyments of the public. If the labor thus demanded is one of duty, the author should not shrink from bearing his share; if one of profit or pleasure, he has as good a claim to the privilege of writing and publishing as any other one.
2. The countries of which this book treats are those of intense interest to all classes of persons. Here are the records and monuments of the early ages of the world. Here are historic pages of which none should be ignorant. From these, new lessons are continually being unfolded. Here God has left the traces of his footsteps, the handwriting of his power, and the memorials of his mighty wonders.
3. A book of travels, if written with taste and skill, will always be an interesting and instructive book. Each succeeding person, in his visit, will view things and scenes in new aspects; catch the inspiration of new thoughts and lessons; and bring truth to at least some minds, arrayed in new and inviting drapery.
4. Many of the books on the East are too learned for
popular use; abounding in Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic technicalities, and devoted to the discussion of disputed questions, they may be of great importance and highly useful to the scholar, but they do not interest the great mass of common readers. Others, again, pass so rapidly from place to place, and are so general in their descriptions, the reader gets but very imperfect ideas of scenes and localities. These extremes the writer of this work has designed to avoid. It has been his object to select the most prominent and important things, and to describe them in a plain and familiar style, with definiteness and particularity, and to condense into the work what he supposes the common reader would most desire to know. He has not indulged in learned dissertations, or critical discussions; has not endeavored to settle controverted questions, dates, and localities; indeed, it has not been his intention to make a book for the learned or the critical, but to give the public a volume to interest and instruct the family and the common reader.
5. Thousands of persons have not read the books that have already been published; not because they have no desire to read, but because they have not been brought within their reach. Many of these works have had a wide circulation, and have done great good, and yet multitudes have not been reached by them. The present volume, from circumstances of authorship, publication, and the personal relations of the writer, may reach and influence many that other works have not reached, and thus add something to the general amount of good accomplished.
6. This book is designed to be different, in several particulars, from others that have preceded it. If it were not, the author might spare himself the labor of writing and the expense of publishing. It is designed not only to present the interesting and exciting incidents of travel, but to connect with the scenes and places visited the most prominent and instructive historic events that have characterized them; drawing from them illustrations of scripture, events of history, sketches of biography, and, more especially, the important moral lessons they are calculated to suggest, and such as it is hoped will benefit the heart and the life.