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Percy Shelley wrote the preface for the Shelleys’ joint publication, History of a Six Weeks’ Tour, which was published eight weeks before Frankenstein (to which Percy also wrote the original preface) and is a combination of letters and journal entries by the Shelleys from their travels on the continent in 1814 and 1816.

HSWT

The preface demonstrates the Shelleys’ attitude to what Percy called the ‘raptures of travellers’:[1]

Nothing can be more unpresuming than this little volume. It contains the account of some desultory visits by a party of young people to scenes which are now so familiar to our countrymen, that few facts relating to them can be expected to have escaped the many more experienced and exact observers, who have sent their journals to the press.

The Shelleys, however, in their ‘unpresuming’ writing, are humble and exploratory:

Those whose youth has been past as their’s (with what success it imports not) in pursuing, like the swallow, the inconstant summer of delight and beauty which invests this visible world, will perhaps find some entertainment in following the author [Mary Shelley], with her husband and sister on foot, through a part of France and Switzerland, and in sailing with her down the castled Rhine […] They will be interested to hear of one who has visited Mellerie, and Clarens, and Chillon, and Vevai – classic ground, peopled with tender and glorious imaginations of the present and the past.

[1] The Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley Vol. I ed. by Frederick L. Jones (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964) p. 495.

Image credit: British Library.

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