In some reflexions, towards the conclusion of Betagh’s circumnavigation, Harris, a former editor of a collection of voyages and travels, breaks forth in the following laudatory strain:—
“Happy, happy, for us, that we have still a SEAMAN left, who has shewn that the race of heroes is not yet extinct among us, in ADMIRAL ANSON, that great and fortunate commander; who enjoys the singular felicity, in an age of sloth, luxury, and corruption, that his ease is the result of his labour, his title the reward of his merit, and that his wealth does honour to his country.”
[Footnote 6: Harris, Voy. and Trav. I. 253.]
How much more happy is it for us in the present day, somewhat more than half a century later, and while every energy is required to the utmost stretch, that we still have a race of transcendent heroes, who have annihilated the navy and trade and colonies or our arch enemy, have vindicated and preserved our glory and freedom and prosperity, and bid fair to restore the honour and independence of the civilized world, threatened with subversion by the modern Atilla—Ed.
Notwithstanding the great improvement of navigation within the last two centuries, a voyage round the world is still considered as an enterprize of so very singular a nature, that the public have never failed to be extremely inquisitive about the various accidents and turns of fortune with which this uncommon attempt is generally attended. And, though the amusement expected in these narratives is doubtless one great source of that curiosity with the bulk of readers, yet the more intelligent part of mankind have always agreed, that, from accounts of this nature, if faithfully executed, the more important purposes of navigation, commerce, and national interest, may be greatly promoted. For every authentic description of foreign coasts and countries will contribute to one or more of these great ends, in proportion to the wealth, wants, or commodities of these countries, and our ignorance of these coasts; and therefore, a voyage round the world promises a species of information, of all others, the most desirable and interesting; since great part of it is performed in seas with which we are, as yet, but very imperfectly acquainted, and in the neighbourhood of a country renowned for the abundance of its wealth; though it is, at the same time, stigmatized for its poverty in the necessaries and conveniences of a civilized life.
These considerations have occasioned the compiling the ensuing work; which, in gratifying the inquisitive disposition of mankind, and contributing to the safety and success of future navigators, and to the extension of our commerce, may doubtless vie with any narration of this kind hitherto made public; since, as to the first of these heads, it may well be supposed that the general curiosity hath been strongly excited,