The following work is the result of six years' residence in the Peninsula, devoted to literary pursuits. It contains the fruits (be they mature or otherwise) of many excursions through Spain and Portugal, of considerable opportunities of observation, and much familiarity with localities and people, as well as of meditative habits in an isolated life, which during the last three years especially has been compelled by severe sickness. Love and admiration of the British Islands, whose climate would be fatal to me, except during two or three summer months, have been fostered by constrained absence; and my attention having been strongly turned to the great Peninsular struggle, I have consulted every accessible work, and every surviving authority within my reach, that could illustrate a theme with which my mind has been filled for years. While I have endeavoured[iv] to sustain the glory of England, I have striven to award a meed of truthful but generous justice to her Allies, and have not thought it requisite to depreciate the well-earned fame of France. Yet, even while celebrating the most splendid military achievements, it has been my aim to inculcate a horror of the bloody arbitrament of War.
Determined to perfect the work, so far as in me lay, I last year traversed the whole Peninsula from East to West, at the constant risk of a very precarious life (which might thus, perhaps, become not utterly valueless), and acquired the advantages to be derived to my labours from visiting the following battle-grounds:—Bayonne and the Adour, the Nive, St. Pierre, the Nivelle, the Bidasoa, San Marcial, Vera, Sauroren, San Sebastian, Vitoria, Talavera, Almaraz, Albuera, and Badajoz, having previously visited most of the battle-fields in Portugal and in Northern and Southern Spain.
The task which I have undertaken, and accomplished according to my means, was an ambitious one, yet honourable. I scarcely dare to hope for success.