Afoot In England, By W.H. Hudson

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It May Then Be Said That There Are Really No Bad Guide-Books, And That Those That Are Good In The Highest Sense Are Beyond Praise.

A reverential sentiment, which is almost religious in character, connects itself in our minds with the very name of Murray.

It is, however, possible to make an injudicious use of these books, and by so doing to miss the fine point of many a pleasure. The very fact that these books are guides to us and invaluable, and that we readily acquire the habit of taking them about with us and consulting them at frequent intervals, comes between us and that rarest and most exquisite enjoyment to be experienced amidst novel scenes. He that visits a place new to him for some special object rightly informs himself of all that the book can tell him. The knowledge may be useful; pleasure is with him a secondary object. But if pleasure be the main object, it will only be experienced in the highest degree by him who goes without book and discovers what old Fuller called the "observables" for himself. There will be no mental pictures previously formed; consequently what is found will not disappoint. When the mind has been permitted to dwell beforehand on any scene, then, however beautiful or grand it may be, the element of surprise is wanting and admiration is weak. The delight has been discounted.

My own plan, which may be recommended only to those who go out for pleasure - who value happiness above useless (otherwise useful) knowledge, and the pictures that live and glow in memory above albums and collections of photographs - is not to look at a guide-book until the place it treats of has been explored and left behind.

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