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Travels in Syria and the Holy Land   By: (1784-1817)

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[p.i]It is hoped that little apology is necessary for the publication of a volume of Travels in Asia, by a Society, whose sole professed object is the promotion of discoveries in the African continent.

The Association having had the good fortune to obtain the services of a person of Mr. Burckhardt's education and talents, resolved to spare neither time nor expense in enabling him to acquire the language and manners of an Arabian Musulman in such a degree of perfection, as should render the detection of his real character in the interior of Africa extremely difficult.

It was thought that a residence at Aleppo would afford him the most convenient means of study, while his intercourse with the natives of that city, together with his occasional tours in Syria, would supply him with a view of Arabian life and manners in every degree, from the Bedouin camp to the populous city. While thus preparing himself for the ultimate object of his mission, he was careful to direct his journeys through those parts of Syria which had been the least frequented by European travellers, and thus he had the opportunity of making some important additions to our knowledge of one of those countries of which the geography is not less interesting by its connection with ancient history, than it is imperfect, in consequence of the impediments which modern barbarism has opposed to scientific researches. After consuming near three years in Syria, Mr. Burckhardt, on his arrival in Egypt, found himself prevented from pursuing the execution of his instructions, by [p.ii] a suspension of the usual commercial intercourse with the interior of Africa, and was thus, during the ensuing five years, placed under the necessity of employing his time in Egypt and the adjacent countries in the same manner as he had done in Syria. After the journeys in Egypt, Nubia, Arabia, and Mount Sinai, which have been briefly described in the Memoir prefixed to the former volume of his travels, his death at Cairo, at the moment when he was preparing for immediate departure to Fezzan, left the Association in possession of a large collection of manuscripts concerning the countries visited by their traveller in these preparatory journeys, but of nothing more than oral information as to those to which he had been particularly sent. As his journals in Nubia, and in the regions adjacent to the Astaboras, although relating only to an incidental part of his mission to Africa, were descriptive of countries coming strictly within the scope of the African Association, these, together with all his collected information on the interior of Africa, were selected for earliest publication. The present volume contains his observations in Syria and Arabia Petraea; to which has been added his tour in the Peninsula of Mount Sinai, although the latest of all his travels in date, because it is immediately connected, by its subject, with his journey through the adjacent districts of the Holy Land. There still remain manuscripts sufficient to fill two volumes; one of these will consist of his travels in Arabia, which were confined to the Hedjaz, or Holy Land of the Musulmans, the part least accessible to Christians; the fourth volume will contain very copious remarks on the Arabs on the Desert, and particularly the Wahabys.

The two principal maps annexed to the present volume have been constructed under the continued inspection of the Editor, by Mr. John Walker, junior, by whom they have been delineated and engraved.

[p.iii]In the course of this process, it has been found, that our traveller's bearings by the compass are not always to be relied on. Those which were obviously incorrect, and useless for geographical purposes, have been omitted in the Journal; some instances of the same kind, which did not occur to the Editor until the sheets were printed, are noticed in the Errata, and if a few still remain, the reader is intreated not to consider them as proofs of negligence in the formation of the maps, which have been carefully constructed from Burckhardt's materials, occasionally assisted and corrected by other extant authorities... Continue reading book >>

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