A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 12 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 760 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 12.
and when they occur, are always cursory and short; for nothing would have been more absurd than to interrupt an interesting narrative, or new descriptions, by hypothesis and dissertation.[5] They will, however, be found most frequent in the account of the voyage of the Endeavour; and the principal reason is, that although it stands last in the series, great part of it was printed before the others were written, so that several remarks, which would naturally have been suggested by the incidents and descriptions that would have occurred in the preceding voyages, were anticipated by similar incidents and descriptions which occurred in this.

[Footnote 5:  It is highly questionable if this substitution of writer for adventurer have the efficiency ascribed to it, when the reader knows before hand, and cannot but remember, that it is artificial, and avowedly intended for effect.  This is so obvious, that one cannot help wondering how the parties concerned in the publication of these Voyages should have acquiesced in the mode of their appearance.  The only way of accounting for it, perhaps, is this; it was imagined that no one but an author by profession was competent to fulfil the expectations that had been formed in the public mind.  The opinion generally entertained that Mr Robins was the author of the Account of Anson’s Voyage, might have contributed to this very groundless notion; and the parties might have hoped, that a person of Dr Hawkesworth’s reputation in the literary world, would not fail to fabricate a work that should at least rival that excellent production.  It would be unfair not to apprise the reader, that this hope was not altogether realised.  Public opinion has unquestionably ranked it as inferior, but has not however been niggard in its praise.  The work is read, and always will be read, with high interest.  This, perhaps, is capable of augmentation; and the Editor much deceives himself if he has not accomplished this effect by his labours, as well in pruning off the redundant moralizings and cumbrous ratiocinations of Dr Hawkesworth, as in contributing new but relevant matter to the mass of amusing and instructive information which that gentleman has recorded.  He confesses that he has far less delicacy in doing either of these offices in the present case, than he would chuse to avow, had the account emanated purely and directly from the pens of those who performed the voyages; nor can he help feeling a regret, that such persons as Byron and Cook, both of whom have given most satisfactory proofs of their possessing every literary requisite, were not permitted to edify the public as they thought good, without the officious instrumentality of an editor.  These men needed no such interference, though their modesty and good sense availed them, undoubtedly, in profiting by the merely verbal corrections of friendship; and their own productions have the charm of simplicity and genuineness of narrative, which, it is certain, the ability acquired by mere drudgery in composition is by no means adequate to produce.—­E.]

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