In presenting this volume to the public, I feel that a few words of explanation are due to the readers that it may obtain, in addition to those offered to them in the first chapter. When I first visited England, in 1846, it was my intention to make a pedestrian tour from one end of the island to the other, in order to become more acquainted with the country and people than I could by any other mode of travelling. A few weeks after my arrival, I set out on such a walk, and had made about one hundred miles on foot, when I was constrained to suspend the tour, in order to take part in movements which soon absorbed all my time and strength. For the ensuing ten years I was nearly the whole time in Great Britain, travelling from one end of the kingdom to the other, to promote the movements referred to; still desiring to accomplish the walk originally proposed. On returning to England at the beginning of 1863, after a continuous residence of seven years in America, I found myself, for the first time, in the condition to carry out my intention of 1846. Several new motives had been added in the interval to those that had at first operated upon my mind. I had dabbled a little in farming in my native village, New Britain, Connecticut, and had labored to excite additional interest in agriculture among my neighbors. We had formed an Agricultural Club, and met weekly for several winters to compare notes, exchange opinions' and discuss matters connected with the occupation. They had honored me with the post of Corresponding Secretary from the beginning. We held a meeting the evening before I left for England, when they not only refused to accept my resignation as Secretary, but made me promise to write them letters about farming in the Mother Country, and on other matters of interest that I might meet with on my travels there. My first idea was to do this literally; - to make a walk through the best agricultural sections of England, and write home a series of communications to be inserted in our little village paper. But, on second thought, on considering the size of the sheet, I found it would require four or five years to print in it all I was likely to write, at the rate of two columns a week. So I concluded that the easiest and quickest way would be to make a book of my Notes by the Way, and to send back to my old friends and neighbors in that form all the observations and incidents I might make and meet on my walk. The next thought that suggested itself was this, - that a good many persons in Great Britain might feel some interest in seeing what an American, who had resided so long in this country, might have to say of its sceneries, industries, social life, etc. Still, in writing out these Notes, although two distinct circles of readers - the English and American - have been present to my mind, I felt constrained to face and address the latter, just as if speaking to them alone. I have, moreover, adopted the free and easy style of epistolary composition, endeavoring to make each chapter as much like one of the letters I promised my friends and neighbors at home as practicable. In doing this, the "I" has, perhaps, talked far too much to beseem those proprieties which the author of a book should observe. Besides, expressions, figures and orthography more American than English may be noticed, which will indicate the circle of readers which the writer had primarily in view. Still, he would fain believe that these features of the volume will not seriously affect the interest it might otherwise possess in the minds of those disposed to give it a reading in this country. Whatever exceptions they may take to the style and diction, I hope they will find none to the spirit of the work.
London, April 5th, 1864.