A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 15 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 630 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 15.

PART III.  BOOK III.

A VOYAGE TO THE PACIFIC OCEAN, UNDERTAKEN BY THE COMMAND OF HIS MAJESTY, FOR MAKING DISCOVERIES IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE; TO DETERMINE THE POSITION AND EXTENT OF THE WEST SIDE OF NORTH AMERICA, ITS DISTANCE FROM ASIA, AND THE PRACTICABILITY OF A NORTHERN PASSAGE TO EUROPE.  PERFORMED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF CAPTAINS COOK, CLERKE, AND GORE, IN HIS MAJESTY’S SHIPS THE RESOLUTION AND DISCOVERY, IN THE YEARS 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, & 1780.[23]

INTRODUCTION.

The spirit of discovery, which had long animated the European nations, having, after its arduous and successful exertions, during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, gradually subsided, and for a considerable time lain dormant, began to revive in Great Britain in the late reign;[24] and recovered all its former activity, under the cherishing influence, and munificent encouragement, of his present majesty.

[Footnote 23:  The account of this voyage was originally published in three volumes the first and second of which were written by Captain Cook himself, and the third by Captain King, one of his officers.  The work, however, as the reader will soon find, is materially enriched by the communications of Mr Anderson, surgeon of the Resolution.  The valuable introduction, and the notes interspersed throughout the volumes contributed by Cook, were the production of Dr Douglas, Bishop of Salisbury, who, at the request of Lord Sandwich, undertook also the office of editor.  Of the amount of his services in this character, we have his own statement, towards the end of the introduction.  From this, it appears, that Cook, when he set out, knew he was expected to relate, as well as to execute, the operations committed to him; and that his journal, in consequence, was faithfully adhered to.  This seems to imply the non-interference of the editor, at least in any important sense.  The same thing may be inferred from what he says respecting Mr Anderson’s journal.  And as to the third volume, we are expressly told, that it was completely prepared for the press by Captain King himself.  There is surely, then, very little foundation for an assertion made in the memoir of Captain Cook, inserted in the new edition of the General Biographical Dictionary, vol. 10. viz. that Dr Douglas “has levelled down the more striking peculiarities of the different writers, into some appearance of equality.”  Certainly, we are bound either to refuse such an insinuation, or to charge falsehood on Dr Douglas, who expressly states, that all he has to answer for, are the notes in Captain Cook’s two volumes and the introduction.  But the alternative will give no trouble to any reader acquainted with the worthy character of the bishop, or who can comprehend, how very readily a probable conjecture may became the basis of an erroneous opinion.

It is necessary to apprise the reader, that the letter D is placed at such of Dr Douglas’s notes as it is thought advisable to retain in this work, and that for the rest marked E., the editor, as formerly, is responsible.—­E.]

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