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Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 705 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 14.

For the convenience of the generality of readers, I have reduced the time from the nautical to the civil computation, so that whenever the terms A.M. and P.M. are used, the former signifies the forenoon, and the latter the afternoon of the same day.

In all the courses, bearings, &c., the variation of the compass is allowed, unless the contrary is expressed.  And now it may be necessary to say, that, as I am on the point of sailing on a third expedition, I leave this account of my last voyage in the hands of some friends, who, in my absence, have kindly accepted the office of correcting the press for me; who are pleased to think that what I have here to relate is better to be given in my own words, than in the words of another person; especially as it is a work designed for information, and not merely for amusement; in which, it is their opinion, that candour and fidelity will counter-balance the want of ornament.[17]

I shall therefore conclude this introductory discourse with desiring the reader to excuse the inaccuracies of style, which doubtless he will frequently meet with in the following narrative; and that, when such occur, he will recollect that it is the production of a man, who has not had the advantage of much school education, but who has been constantly at sea from his youth; and though, with the assistance of a few good friends, he has passed through all the stations belonging to a seaman, from an apprentice boy in the coal trade, to a post-captain in the royal navy, he has had no opportunity of cultivating letters.  After this account of myself, the public must not expect from me the elegance of a fine writer, or the plausibility of a professed book-maker; but will, I hope, consider me as a plain man, zealously exerting himself in the service of his country, and determined to give the best account he is able of his proceedings.[18]

JAMES COOK.

Plymouth Sound, July 7, 1776.

[1] It is scarcely conceivable, that any men of science in the end of the 18th century, should have insisted on mathematical reasons for the supposition of a southern counterpoise; and therefore, as is mentioned by Mr Wales, in his introduction to the account of the astronomical observations made during this voyage, it must be held, that the opinion which induced his majesty to order the voyage, for the purpose of discovering a continent or large islands towards the South Pole, was founded on mere probability.  That there is no necessity for such an existence, is very certain, for the preservation of the earth’s motion on its axis can be readily accounted for without it; yet, reasoning from analogy, and considering the successful experiment of Columbus, there seemed sufficient grounds, independent of the alleged discoveries of Bouvet and others, to expect that some lands might be found there.  After this, it required little additional excitement of fancy to believe, that
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