The "Italian Journeys" of Mr. Howells date from the year 1864, when the author was still our Consul at Venice, and had just taken the first step in his long, honorable career as a man of letters by the publication of Venetian Life. His excursions lead him not only from Venice as far as Belmont, but also through many highways and byways of the Italian peninsula, one foot in sea and one on shore, by Parma and Mantua, Bologna and Genoa, Padua, Ferrara and Arqua, to the more familiar environment of Rome and Naples. Since all travelling, as the " sage observes, gives a return in proportion to the knowledge that a man brings to it, the value of a book of travel must depend upon the traveler; and no one needs to be reminded that this adventurer, in setting forth, was especially well equipped for the enterprise by his years in Venice, which gave him exceptional opportunity for study of the Italian language and literature. Day by day, he recorded the haps and hazards of his wandering, with the keenness of observation and delicacy of expression which already had gained for him the regard of thoughtful readers. His individuality is never lost; it is always his point of view that we acquire — not the pale reflex of another mind which has glanced that way before him. He keeps throughout, unblinded by prejudice and unobscured by affectation, that clear, receptive vision which makes the intelligent American traveler one of the best in the world. But over and above this he brings to bear upon all he sees a peculiar sympathy, which is the result of long association with things Italian. He is always an American, but an acclimated American. The prospect at Arqua reminds him of the Ohio hills; that at Mantua of the Middle Mississippi; yet at the Stella d'Oro, in Ferrara, he can join a group of Italian soldiers, and, winning their confidence, become one with them, for the time being, in their pleasant scheme for unifying Italy by persistent elimination of local dialects from their after-dinner talk, in favor of the common language.
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