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The following pages contain a record of impressions received during a journey in the autumn of 1876 through Russia, the Caucasian countries, and the Turkish empire. They are first impressions only, for which no value can be claimed except that which belongs to impressions formed on the spot, and (as the author trusts) without a prejudice in favour of either of the states which are now contending in the regions here described. Yet even first impressions, if honestly formed, may sometimes atone for their crudity by their freshness. What most readers desire to know about a country is how it strikes a new-comer. A book that tries to give this, to present the general effect, so to speak, of the landscape, may have its function, even though it cannot satisfy the scientific student of geography or politics.
The author, however, did not travel with the intention of writing a book, nor would he, sensible as he is of his imperfect knowledge, have now thought of sending these notes to the press but for two reasons. One is the unexpected importance which the outbreak of war in the countries he visited has given to them.
The other is the urgency of his friends, whose curiosity regarding Mount Ararat has made him think it worth while to print a narrative of what he saw, and who assure him that some account of a mountain which every one has heard of, but about which comparatively little has been written, would be more interesting to English and American readers than he had at first supposed.
He is indebted to his friends Captain J. Buchan Telfer, R.N., Mr. Douglas W. Freshfield, and Professor Judd, of the Royal School of Mines, for information on several points, and returns his thanks to the Editor and proprietors of the Cornhill Magazine' for the permission they have given him to reprint the substance of an article which he contributed to that magazine in last May.
The publication of the book has been delayed by a domestic sorrow which has destroyed such pleasure as the composition of it might have given, the loss of one whose companion he had been in mountain expeditions from childhood, and to whom he owes whatever taste he possesses for geographical observation and for the beauties of nature.