Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes by Robert Louis Stevenson.
My Dear Sidney Colvin,
The journey which this little book is to describe was very
agreeable and fortunate for me. After an uncouth beginning, I had
the best of luck to the end. But we are all travellers in what
John Bunyan calls the wilderness of this world - all, too,
travellers with a donkey: and the best that we find in our travels
is an honest friend. He is a fortunate voyager who finds many. We
travel, indeed, to find them. They are the end and the reward of
life. They keep us worthy of ourselves; and when we are alone, we
are only nearer to the absent.
Every book is, in an intimate sense, a circular letter to the
friends of him who writes it. They alone take his meaning; they
find private messages, assurances of love, and expressions of
gratitude, dropped for them in every corner. The public is but a
generous patron who defrays the postage. Yet through the letter is
directed to all, we have an old and kindly custom of addressing it
on the outside to one. Of what shall a man be proud, if he is not
proud of his friends? And so, my dear Sidney Colvin, it is with
pride that I sign myself affectionately yours,
R. L. S.