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Soosroapril 1987 Grols)
In accordance with a general practice which, in many instances, however, would be more honoured in the breach than in the observance,' I lay before the reader this Preface, apologising for its appearance by the explanation that it is in the nature of an Introduction describing the objects and scope of the work.
To write a preface is not only a general, but an ancient, practice, as I was reminded lately when perusing a translation of a curious old book, "The Visions of Dom Francisco De Quevedo Villegas,' Tiade English,' in 1696, by Sir Roger L'Estrange, a famous man of letters contemporary with Dryden, who gives certain reasons for following the custom of writing a preface, which certainly display great candour on his part. This preface,' says L'Estrange, 'is merely for fashion sake, to fill a space, and please the stationer, who says 'tis neither usual nor handsome to leap immediately from the title-page to the matter.'
Far other is my object in writing these introductory lines. Briefly, it is to point out that though Travels by Sea and Land have filled countle volumes, no com
pendious work has been published dealing with the great subject of Maritime Discovery in a complete, if necessarily succinct, form. I do not lay claim to any originality either in the matter of these volumes or its treatment. No 'hitherto unpublished manuscripts' have been unearthed by me, but I have merely had recourse to the vast tomes in which our forefathers delighted to bury their learning and research, and thence have disinterred a continuous record of nautical research. The volumes of Churchill, Pinkerton, Hakluyt, and other old writers, treating of voyages and discoveries, form a considerable library in themselves, and even later authors, compiling from these, are too diffuse for the present generation of readers, who prefer knowledge presented to them in a 'concentrated' form, like the extracts of meat which compress the nutritious essence of a bullock into a single tin. This work, then, is in the nature of a survey, but, I believe, every voyage of discovery, with its results, has been recorded, and, I trust, the reader will consider the task-which to me has been a congenial one, from a natural taste for geographical studies and some experience in this branch of literature—has been completed in an attractive form.
Chief among the old authors I have consulted in that portion of the work dealing with the discoveries of the Spaniards and Portuguese, are Harris, Dalrymple, and Burney. The importance of the explorations completed by these nations during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries
may be gathered from the fact that, from the date of the discovery of America by Columbus, and the exploration of the Portuguese Navigators, Diaz, De Gama, and Magellan, the daring seamen of the Iberian
peninsula brought a New World into existence, and defined the unvisited shores of the Old. Not only were the West Indies -and the Spanish Main, together with the whole western coast of America, from California to Cape Horn, explored by the Spaniards, and the seaboard of the Eastern Hemisphere, from Cape Bojador to Macao, traced out by the Portuguese, but these nationalities divide between them the honour of having discovered the greater portion of the islands of the Eastern Archipelago and of Polynesia. Little was left for the navigators of Holland and England to do, though Tasman, Torres, Le Maire, Schouten, Houtman, and others have left their names on the roll of great navigators, and our countrymen, if behind these seamen as discoverers, are pre-eminent as hydrographers. Cook, alone of Englishmen, takes the highest rank for the magnitude of his discoveries and the scientific and thorough methods of his explorations, for whereas all his predecessors were content to sight land and sail away after naming the chief points, he examined the features of the coast-line and delineated them on charts for the use of the world. To the great navigator may be applied the eulogium pronounced by 'Junius' on the first Lord Chatham : • Recorded honours shall gather round his monument, and thicken over him. It is a solid fabric, and will support the laurels that adorn it.'
Others of our countrymen followed the noble example set by this martyr to geographical science, and among predecessors, Carteret, Wallis, and Dampier specially merit notice, as not mere circumnavigators like Drake, Anson, and Byron.
Not that we would appear to depreciate the services of the grand seamen of the heroic age of Elizabeth and the Georges, who founded and consolidated that empire of the sea which is England's charter of freedom for herself and for those oppressed nationalities whose shores can be reached by the cannon of her ships:
'See Britain's Empire ! lo ! the watery vast
England, if behind some European nations in maritime discovery, holds the lead in Arctic exploration. In this department of research, British sailors, from the time when Sir Hugh Willoughby perished in Lapland, have been pre-eminent, though the seamen of Holland and of Scandinavia have run them close in the race for Arctic laurels. But there seems a slackening in this honourable rivalry on our part, and it has been reserved for an American officer—and the greater the credit to him—to trace the footsteps of Franklin's party in their last journey, while our Government have alone declined to participate in the international project for a systematic exploration of the polar area. The nation surely would not grudge the small expenditure necessary for this country to assist in this praiseworthy effort, if not to resume her place in the van of Arctic Exploration. In a time of peace which, as concerns our navy,
has been a prolonged one, some channel should be found for that natural ardour for which war alone can provide an adequate outlet, and, confessedly, the Arctic school is the best for the cultivation of those manly virtues, such as fortitude, devotion to duty, courage, and self-sacrifice, which are the safeguard of nations and