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A tour through some parts of France, Switzerland, Savoy, Germany and Belgium

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I had long been desirous of visiting the Continent, but the long continuance of the war, and the little prospect which lately appeared of its termination, seemed to afford no chance for the accomplishment of my wish. At a period, however, when that arbitrary power, which had so long held in subjection the other nations of the Continent, sought to overthrow the only monarch who dared to oppose it, and to claim for his subjects the natural rights from which they had been excluded by the "Continental System," it pleased Divine Providence to destroy the fetters which enslaved the nations of Europe, as if to try, whether in the school of adversity, they had learned to merit the blessings of independence. These great and glorious changes, the reality of which it was at first difficult to believe, having opened to the subjects and commerce of Britain, countries from which they had been for so many successive years proscribed, it was not long before numbers of British repaired to the continent to indulge that love of roving for which they had been always distinguished (and which a long war had suppressed but not eradicated) and to claim from all true patriots, in the countries they visited, that friendly reception to which the long perseverance and vast sacrifices of England, during a struggle unexampled in history, had so justly entitled the lowest of her subjects.

The unsettled state in which most part of the Continent necessarily remained for a little time after the entrance of the Allies into Paris, did not afford the most favourable moment for the journey of one who was not a military traveller; and I did not regret that business prevented my leaving England for a few months after the opening of the Continent, as I had the gratification of being a witness, in the British metropolis, to the exultation of all ranks of men; first, at seeing the legitimate monarch of France arrive there in company with our illustrious Regent who having long contributed to lessen the afflictions of the exiled Count de Lille, had first the satisfaction (to which he, amongst all the sovereigns of Europe, was best entitled, by the great part, which under his government, England had performed for the cause of European liberty) of saluting him as King of France, amidst the cheers of applauding thousands; and, secondly, of witnessing the arrival of the magnanimous Alexander, of that too long unfortunate monarch, Frederick William, of those chiefs, Platoff and Blucher, whose exploits have ranked them amongst the first of heroes, and, at last, of seeing, in the person of a Wellington, a British marshal who had successively foiled the most renowned of the generals of Buonaparte, and who, like Turenne, was accustomed "to fight without anger, to conquer without ambition, and to triumph without vanity."

About the middle of July I left London and proceeded to Dover, a journey which, in the improved state of our roads and of our conveyances, is easily performed in one day; and often as I had before travelled the Kent road, yet I could not see without surprise, the astonishing number of public and private carriages with which it abounds, and which must have doubtless much increased within the last few months....