It had been fashionable among the ancients, for men of learning to visit distant countries and improve their education by traveling, after they had completed their various courses of study in literary institutions, and the same custom still prevails in Europe at the present time; but in our country, comparatively few avail themselves of this finishing course. It is not strange that this should have been so with a people who are separated from the rest of the world by such wide oceans as we are, which could, up to a comparatively recent period, only have been crossed at a sacrifice of much time and money, and at the risk of loosing either life or health. These difficulties have been greatly reduced by the application of steam-power to navigation, and the time has come when an American can make the tour of Europe with but little more expenditure of time and money than it costs even a native of Europe to do it.

One of my principal objects in writing this book is to encourage others to make similar tours. We would have plenty of books no traveling, if some of them did represent the readers in the humbler spheres of life, but the general impression in America is that no one can see Europe to any satisfaction in less than a year or two and with an outlay of from a thousand to two thousand dollars. This is a great mistake. If one travels for pleasure mainly, it will certainly require a great deal of time and money, but a hard-working student can do much in a few months. Permit me to say, that one will see and experience more in two weeks abroad, than many a learned man in America expects could be seen in a year. I sometimes give the particulars of sights and adventures in detail, that the reader may take an example of my experience, for any tour he may propose to make. The times devoted to different places are given that he may form an estimate of the comparative importance of different places.

Statistics form a leading feature of this work, and these have been gathered and compiled with special reference to the wants of the student. Many an American scholar studies the geography and history of foreign countries at a great disadvantage, because he can not obtain a general idea of the institutions of Europe, unless he reads half a dozen works on the subject. To do this he has not the time. This work gives, in the compass of a single volume, a general idea of all the most striking features of the manners, customs and institutions of the people of some eight different nations speaking as many different languages and dialects.

As the sights that one sees abroad are so radically different from what we are accustomed to see at home, I feel pained whenever I think of describing them to any one. If you would know the nature of my perplexity, then go to Washington and see the stately magnificence of our National Capitol there, and then go and describe what you have seen to one who has never seen a larger building than his village church; or go and see the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, and then tell your neighbor who has never seen anything greater than a county fair, how, what he has seen compares with the World's Fair! I too am proud of our country, (not so much for what she now is, but because she promises to become the greatest nation that ever existed), but it must be confessed, that America presents little in the sphere of architecture that bears comparison with the castles, palaces and churches of the Old World. The Capitol at Washington, erected at the cost of twelve and a half millions, the City Hall of Baltimore, perhaps more beautiful but less magnificent, and other edifices that have been erected of late, are structures of which we may justly be proud; but let us take the buildings of the "Centennial Exposition" for a standard and compare them with some of those in Europe. The total expenses incurred in erecting all the exposition buildings, and preparing the grounds, &c., with all the contingent expenses, is less than ten million. But St. Peter's in Rome cost nine times, and the palace and pleasure-garden of Versailles twenty times as much as this! It is safe to assert, that if a young man had but two hundred dollars with six weeks of time at his command, and would spend it in seeing London and Paris, he could never feel sorry for it. Young student go east.