|Preface of Volume 1 (1860), by E.CHARTON, foundator&Director of publication|
The Tour du Monde has for its aim to make known the travels of our times, either French or foreign, the trustworthiest ones, those offering the most interest to imagination, curiosity and study.
It preferably admits the unpublished accounts, but also makes room for those that, already published, could not be omitted for a complete picture of the contemporary explorations of our globe.
The Tour du Monde , by the way, is not intended for a specific class of reader. It would badly answer the intentions of its founders if it did so, if it were not as varied and universal as its subject, which is the true and animated spectacle of nature and human life on the entire surface of the earth.
Among the travelers, some represent science, others the arts, others still commerce and industry; some expose themselves to a thousand dangers to propagate their faith, others are simply observers, moralists, or do nothing but look forward to the emotions of a wandering and adventurous existence. All the diverse preoccupations, even the seemingly most frivolous, have their interest and their share of usefulness : the Tour du Monde does not wish to exclude any of them; it only feels indifference towards accounts without value or sincerity.
The choice of the accounts contained in this volume, although we were wishing for even better, shall be considered, we hope, as a guarantee of our promises and of our desire to deserve a long-lasting success.
Kane's travels in the Polar Sea, Mac-Clintock's in search of John Franklin, Mr. the Marquis de Moges' in China and Japan, Mr. Guillaume Lejean's in the Montenegro and Herzegovina, Mac Donald's to the Big Vitti, Mt Elisée Reclus' in New Orleans, Pargachefski's to the River Amour, Doctor Barth's in Central Africa, Captain Burton's to the lakes of Eastern Africa, Mr. de Gobineau's in Persia, Henri Yule's to the Kingdom of Ava, Mr. Paul Riant's in the Scandinavian States, Mr. Bida's to Jerusalem, Mr. Proust's to Mount Athos, the travel to the land of the Yakoutes, the adventures of Baron de Wogan in California, and several others, will probably not be read with indifference. Those are accounts that deserve to be read and retained. Among the accounts that will be part of our next volume, we can already announce some travels in the center of Africa by Vogel, in the Tripolitaine by Hadji Skander (Baron de Krafft), to the Chihuahua by Mr. Rondé, to the Straight of Magellan by Mr. De Rochas, to the big Chaco by the unfortunate Signora Libarona, to Paraguay by Mr. De Merci, to Australia by a squatter (Mr. De Castella), to Mesopotamia by Mr. Eugene Flandin, to Bithynia by Mr. Dauzat, to Mount Taurus by Mr. Langlois, to Khoracan by Mr. De Khanikof, to Saint Petersburg by Mr. Blanchard, to Germany and the Principalities of the Danube by Mr. Victor Duruy, to Portugal by Mr. Merson, to Venice by Mr. Perrons, to Naples by Mr. Marc Monnier, etc., etc.
We insisted on the program of our redaction, because we do not want to be hit by the prejudice that sometimes leads to neglect the reading of the “illustrated” collections and to pay attention only to their plates. Our ambition is that our accounts be held in high regard for their sincerity, their educative purpose of all kinds, without aridity and pedantry, in one word, our constant purpose will be to make sure that one always finds pleasure and benefits as one reads us.
It will seem natural that our efforts tend to give to the plates in the Tour du Monde an importance equal to that of the text. If plates are nothing but ornaments in poetic and Romanesque works, they are a necessity in travel accounts. Many things, either inanimate or animated, escape all description : the most rare skills of style only manage to communicate to the readers' minds a vague and fugitive feeling. But as soon as the traveler drops the feather and takes up the pencil, with a few lines, he immediately makes appear to the eyes reality itself, and it will not be erased from the memory.
At all times, the editors of travel accounts have understood this unquestionable usefulness of the “illustrations”. But nearly always, their goodwill has been poorly served. The painters of the Middle Ages, carried away by the whims of their ignorant imagination, were mixing incredible extravagances to the already exaggerated and obscure travelers' accounts. The mistrust and incredulity that the accounts of the illustrious Venetian Marco Polo and several very respectable travelers of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries took so long to overcome, certainly had their cause mainly in the entertaining but crazy inventions of the miniaturists of the time. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a lot of art and more plausibility can be found in the travel drawings, but still fairly little truthfulness. The plates of the precious collection “Big and Small Journeys”, so often reprinted, reproduce most of the time nothing but products of sheer imagination. In the nineteenth century, the artists who had accompanied Cook in his travels gave at their return some imitations most often inexact of the indigenes they had had in front of their eyes. It is not even necessary to go so far back to show how many times the authors of drawings accompanying some excellent texts have too rightly called for the reproach of either being unable to see properly or to be carefree towards reality.
Today, the art of simply observing, without any preconceived idea, without bringing everything back to some types of convention, ancient or modern, has penetrated most minds. The travelers who are able to draw well enough to do without the help of professional artists are more and more numerous. Finally, photography, spreading in all the regions of the globe, is a mirror whose material testimony cannot be suspected and must be preferred even to drawings of great merit if they inspire the slightest doubt.
In the first fifty-two deliveries that we just finished, several of our most remarkable plates have been based on photographs. One can so have an entire confidence in the drawings made after nature by Messrs. Bida, de Trévise, Moynet, G. Lejean, de Bérard, de Bar, Jules Laurens, Proust, Muston, etc. Our other drawings have been borrowed from some works of undisputed authority, and for which we have always made sure to indicate the title.
One of our wishes was to reconcile the sympathy of sincere men. We are glad to have to notice the haste of the most honorable travelers in helping us with their advice and in communicating the documents that can be useful to us. This collaboration, which was so indispensable to us, the kind welcome the public has made to our beginnings, the encouragements of the French and foreign press, allows us to think that the Tour du Monde came at the right time and that it already deserves the merit of not having an uncertain future. It offers itself as a mean of publicity easily accessible to the travelers often discouraged by the rarity of editors or the too narrow space the newspapers and magazines could grant them. We shall not wait anyway for one to come to us. Wishing to create active and regular relations with the most important centers of information, no matter how far they might be, scrupulous in reporting some new explorations in all parts of the globe, resolute not to neglect any effort to advance in any reasonable path of bettering and progress, we trust that we will manage to please, as completely as possible, the enlightened readers who seek in the travels various elements of pleasant distraction and solid education.
Our field is vast, we can say that it is unlimited. Not only is the earth not fully known, and every day reveals to us some important discoveries in Africa , Asia , Oceania , and at the poles, but also, the greatest part of the regions that one would think the best explored have only been done so imperfectly. Nearly the entire globe, modified from century to century by the revolutions of societies and those of nature, is to be constantly studied under new aspects. How many formerly true descriptions have ceased to be right! How many things have been erased from Asia , Africa and Europe since Herodotus, Poseidon and Strabon, or even from the two Americas since Columbus and Cortes! On the contrary, how many new scenes revealed yesterday only, or which shall be tomorrow : summits known as unreachable on which a human foot walks for the first time; lakes, rivers, springs, of which some intrepid travelers besiege, surround the mysteries from all directions; immense deserts fertilized by conquest; fields of uncultured riches opening to the hope of emigrations; treasures of the mines gathering the adventurers in nations; empires sleeping within their walls since the most remote times finally waking up as civilization approaches! On all sides, how many singular, curious, solemn, moving spectacles! And under the very surface of these exterior phenomena, how many moral observations are still to gather about the habits, the mores, the institutions, the traditions, the arts, the different characters of the races! How many adventures, events, surprises sometimes serious, sometimes funny, and also, very certainly, how many scenes of misery and deplorable oppression to denounce to the indignation and solicitudes of the Christian world!
We are watching, we are listening. At every hour, some travelers leave various spots of Europe for remote regions; whatever might be their itinerary, our task will now be to follow them. The ground will never lack underneath our feet, and zeal shall not defect us. On the day when we started this collection, we have well understood that we were undertaking the journey of the “Wandering Jew”. We are only freer to choose our destiny than this kind of legendary traveler; when fatigue shall advise us to rest, we shall call towards us a man of good will, we shall put our stick in his hand, and until he himself will be in need of a follower, he shall continue the Tour du Monde .