FORMING A COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF NAVIGATION,
DISCOVERY, AND COMMERCE, BY SEA AND LAND, FROM THE EARLIEST AGES TO THE
ROBERT KERR, F.R.S. & F.A.S. EDIN.
ILLUSTRATED BY MAPS AND CHARTS.
HIS EXCELLENCY, THE HONOURABLE
SIR ALEXANDER COCHRANE, K.B.
VICE-ADMIRAL OF THE WHITE,
LATE COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF HIS MAJESTY'S NAVAL FORCES ON THE LEEWARD
GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE ISLAND OF GUADALOUPE, &C. &C. &C.
Unused to the adulatory language of dedications, I am well aware that
any such mode of address would offend your delicacy. While, therefore, I
gratify my own feelings by inscribing this work with your valued name, I
only use the freedom to assure your Excellency, that I have the honour
to be, with the warmest sentiments of respectful esteem and sincere
Your affectionate friend,
and gratefully devoted servant,
Edinburgh, 1st March 1811.
In this enlightened age, when every department of science and literature is
making rapid progress, and knowledge of every kind excites uncommon
interest, and is widely diffused, this attempt to call the attention of the
public to a Systematic Arrangement of Voyages and Travels, from the
earliest period of authentic history to the present time, ought scarcely to
require any apology. Yet, on appearing before the tribunal of public
opinion, every author who has not cherished an unreasonable estimate of his
own qualifications, must necessarily be impressed with considerable anxiety
respecting the probable reception of his work; and may be expected to offer
some account of the plan and motives of what he proposes to lay before the
The present work is the first of the kind that has ever been attempted in
Scotland: and though, as already avowed in the Prospectus, the Editor has
no wish to detract from the merits of similar publications, it might appear
an overstrained instance of false delicacy to decline a statement of the
circumstances which, he presumes to hope, will give some prospect of the
work being received with attention and indulgence, perhaps with favour. It
certainly is the only General History and Collection of Voyages and
Travels that has been hitherto attempted in the English language, upon any
arrangement that merits the appellation of a systematic plan. And
hence, should the plan adopted be found only comparatively good, in so far
the system of arrangement must be pronounced the best that has been as yet
devised. If this be conceded, and the fact is too obvious to require
extended proof or minute elucidation, the Editor shall not feel mortified
even if his arrangement may be considerably improved hereafter.
The only work on the subject that has the smallest pretensions to system,
and that is fanciful, involved, irregular, abrupt, and obscure, is PURCHAS
HIS PILGRIMS. Even admitting the plan of that work to be in itself
excellent; although it may be a General History, so far as it
extends, it certainly is in no respect a Complete Collection of
Voyages and Travels.