481. Statistique de la Batavie. Par M. Estienne. Paris, 1803. 8vo.—In a short compass, this work contains, not only statistical information, strictly so called, but also much information in natural history, the state of the arts and sciences, manners and politics.
482. Voyage Historique et Pittoresque dans les Pays Bas, 1811-13. Par Syphorien. Paris, 1813. 2 vols. 8vo.
When we reflect on the political institutions of our own country; the circumstances in our history to which their origin, improvement, and modifications may be traced; the influence they have had on our habits of thought, our feelings, our domestic and public life, and the other elements of our national character, as well as on agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and influence and power;—we shall not be accused of vanity or presumption, if, so far as man is concerned, we deem our native country rich in materials for the philosophical traveller. But besides the study of our national character and institutions, and our agriculture, manufactures, commerce and arts, Britain is deserving of the careful and repeated observation of the natural historian, especially of the mineralogist and geologist; whilst her Roman remains and her Gothic edifices render her interesting to the antiquarian and the man of taste.
We must confess, however, that hitherto there are few books of travels in our country that are worthy of it: till very lately, its mineralogy and geology have been much neglected; and even at present, they must be studied rather in professed works on these subjects, or in the transactions of societies, instituted for their express and peculiar investigation, than in books of travels. With respect to our national character, it is obvious, that will be found more carefully studied, and more frequently attended to, in the travels of foreigners in Britain, than in native travels, though necessarily in the former there must be much mistake and misapprehension, and there is often much prejudice and misrepresentation.
In one department of travels Britain is, we believe, original and peculiar; we allude to picturesque travels, of which those of Gilpin are an interesting and most favourable specimen. These differ essentially from the picturesque travels of foreigners, which are confined to the description of antiquities, buildings, and works of art; whereas our picturesque travels are devoted to the description of the sublimities and beauties of nature. To these beauties, the British seem particularly sensible, and Britain, perhaps, if we regard both what nature has done for her, and the assistance which tasteful art has bestowed on nature, is as favourable a country for the picturesque traveller as most in Europe.
483. Paul Hentzer’s Journey into England in 1598. London, 1600. 8vo. In Dodsley’s Fugitive Pieces, vol. 2. Also published at the Strawberry Hill Press. By Horace Walpole.—Interesting from the description of our manners, &c. in the reign of Elizabeth.