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HESE letters date from a little trip to Naples during the autumn of 1884. They were written by a tourist who had given himself a holiday, and who had made straight for the place to which he felt himself most attracted. The people amongst whom he moved were hampered by no sort of authority, no more was he; no sort of tie bound him to any sort of recognised organisation whatsoever. He went where he pleased as in former days. He is an old traveller, and like most people who have been a good deal abroad, has given up writing his name in the Visitors' Book. Unknown he arrived, and unknown, thank God, he took himself off. These letters, which first appeared in the Stockholm Dagblad, were written under circumstances scarcely favourable to literary pursuits, and in a frame of mind not calculated to inspire polished phrases and well-turned figures of speech,—they were written sur pied de guerre. It was only after considerable hesitation that the author consented to their publication in book form, and then his first idea was to work them out, correct their numerous deficiencies, and suppress whatever struck him as unsatisfactory. That plan, however, he was obliged to abandon, for he soon discovered that were he to carry it out, very few of them would survive the operation. He then made up his mind to let them be, leaving the task of suppression to the critic. Something might be allowed to stand over, he hoped, his affectionate gratitude to Italy if nothing else. And let it be remembered that he rode a broken-winded little donkey, no strong-winged Pegasus—do not forget that the donkey was so tiny that he could not prevent his legs from dragging along the ground. Besides which, Rosina is old and failing; it will not do to be too hard upon her, if only for the sake of leaving her undisturbed in the philosophical researches which she still continues to pursue. He has no such eloquent reasons to urge on his behalf; but before the critics make up their minds to eat him up alive, let them look out, for it is just possible that they might swallow a few cholera microbes into the bargain. . . .
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