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THE PROGRESS OF DISCOVERY
FROM THE VOYAGE OF MAGELLAN TO THE DEATH OF COOK.
A PORTRAIT OF COOK, ENGRAVED BY HORSBURGH AFTER DANCE; A FAC-
SI OF HIS OBSERVATIONS OF THE TRANSIT OF VENUS IN 1769;
The object of the present Work is to give a comprehensive History of the various Circumnavigations of the Globe, and to describe at the same time the Progress of Discovery in Polynesia.
The innumerable islands which are scattered over the vast expanse of the Pacific, have in all times excited the liveliest regard. In few regions of the earth does Nature present a more fascinating aspect, or lavish her gifts with more bountiful profusion. Favoured by mild and serene skies, the fertile soil of these insular territories produces the most luxuriant vegetation, which, with its many rich and varied hues, clothes the whole land from the margin of the sea to the summits of the loftiest mountains. As the voyager sails along their picturesque shores, he is refreshed by perfumes borne on the breeze, from woods which at the same time display the bud, the blossom, and the mature fruit. Nor is the character of their inhabitants less calculated to inspire interest. In countries where the bread-tree affords “the unreaped harvest of unfurrowed fields," where the people neither plough nor sow, nor do any work, their first visiters believed that they had at length discovered the happy region with which poets adorned the golden age. To later explorers, as has been remarked by Humboldt, “ the state of half-civilisation in which these islanders are found gives a peculiar charm to the description of their manners. Here a king, followed by a numerous suite, comes and presents the productions of his orchard ; there the funeral-festival embrowns the shade of the lofty forest. Such pictures have more attraction than those which portray the solemn gravity of the inhabitants of the Missouri or the Maranon.”
In every compendium of voyages, from the days of Purchas downwards, a prominent place has been assigned to the discoveries and exploits of those navigators whose course has led them to encompass the world, whether in search of imaginary continents, in quest of warlike adventure, or in the peaceful pursuit of scientific knowledge. But the manner in which the History of Circumnavigation is given in most of the works alluded to, tends to repel rather than to invite the attention of the common reader. In the imperfect abridgments which have from time to time appeared, no endeavour is made to supply the deficiencies, or to illustrate the obscurities of the original narrative, by the light of more recent discovery. The mind is wearied by innumerable repetitions, and perplexed by irreconcilable discrepancies. The vast extent, too, of some collec