if there, and if found, they might be no less important to the discoverers, than America was judged to be to the Spaniards. Men are not easily cured of their prejudices, when the foundations on which they are built, derive validity from the hope of interest. It is impossible to tell what kind and degree of advantages, certain sanguine specialists anticipated from the Terra Australis. Excepting the article of the prolongation of life ad infinitum, it is questionable, if the philosopher’s stone, when discovered, could have accomplished more; and even with respect to that, it might have been imagined, that the soil and climate would so materially differ from any other before known, as to yield some sovereign elixir or plant of life-giving efficacy. That it was charitably hoped, they would be no less serviceable in another particular, of perhaps fully greater consequence, may be inferred from a passage in Dr Hawkesworth’s reply to Mr Dalrymple, appended to his Account of Cook’s First Voyage, &c., second edition. “I am very sorry,” says he, “for the discontented state of this good gentleman’s mind, and most sincerely wish that a southern continent may be found, as I am confident nothing else can make him happy and good-humoured!” Mr Dalrymple seems to have set no bounds to his expectations from the discovery, and accordingly thought that no bounds ought to be set to the endeavours to accomplish it. Witness the very whimsical negative and affirmative dedication of his Historical Collection of Voyages, &c. “Not to, &c. &c., but to the man, who, emulous of Magalhaens and the heroes of former times, undeterred by difficulties, and unseduced by pleasure, shall persist through every obstacle, and not by chance, but by virtue and good conduct, succeed in establishing an intercourse with a southern continent, &c!”, A zeal so red-hot as this, could scarcely be cooled down to any thing like common sense, on one of the fields of ice encountered by Cook in his second voyage; but what a pity it is, that it should not be accompanied by as much of the inventive faculty, as might serve to point out how impossibilities can be performed, and insuperable obstructions removed! It is but justice to this gentleman to say, that his willingness to undertake such a task, was as enthusiastic as his idea of its magnitude and importance. His industry, besides, in acquiring information in this department of science, and his liberality in imparting it, were most exemplary. On the whole, therefore, saving the circumstances of fortune and success, he may be ranked with any of the heroes of former times!
It would be well to remember, that the Deity is not bound to act according to our notions of fitness; and that though it may not always be easiest, yet it is certainly most modest to form our theories from a survey of his works, rather than the nursery of our own prejudices. The following observations may be of utility to some readers.