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In embracing this opportunity of publicly expressing my high sense of gratitude, for the eminent services which you have rendered every class of naval society, I am conscious that I merely re-echo the general voice of that important body: and if the following pages should be found to merit the perusal, or in any degree contribute to the amusement of your Lordship, during some hour of relaxation from affairs of state, I shall desire no other recompense than the pleasure of reflecting that I have discharged a part of that obligation to your Lordship, which is sensibly felt and gratefully acknowledged by all ranks in his Majesty's naval service.
August 1, 1807.
The Author of the following pages would fain hope that the lenity of the critic will, in some degree, be extended to those errors and imperfections, from which he has not the vanity to think them exempted; especially when it is considered how very unfavourable a wandering sealife is to any thing like systematic arrangement, logical deduction, or smooth and polished language: a life in which the maritime adventurer
is not only precluded from a liberal communi'cation with books, but confined for the most part to a limited and peculiar class of society.
To the general reader, indeed, he cannot hope that these sketches and extracis will prove very interesting, and still less so to the critic and man of learning, unless it be for the purpose of pointing out their faults; which, after all that has been said to the contrary, he believes is but an ungrateful task. As he never designed them however, for the above-mentioned classes of . readers, so he trusts they will not be inclined to take offence at his inability to gratify a curiosity which he never excited. His sole object, in short, is, to furnish the young voyager with an agreeable and useful companion, on his first visits to the oriental world. In order to effect this purpose, he has been under the necessity of se-lecting such passages from the most respectable voyages, travels, &c. as were descriptive of those places which the author himself had not had an opportunity of visiting; taking care, notwithstanding, to distinguish them as such, and without attempting to plume himself in borrowed feathers, to affix to each extract its authority, however disadvantageous it might be to his own descriptions, many of which will unquestionably suffer by comparison with the extracts introduced.
With respect to the original sketches and remarks, he flatters himself they will be found tolerably correct, as they were copied from nature, not from books; and though in such a beaten track as that of the voyage to India and China, many of the descriptions must necessarily have been anticipated by his predecessors; yet let it
be remembered that these descriptions are scat- . tered through various expensive works; that many of them were written a great number of years ago ; and that all of them are accompanied by a vast variety of extraneous matter, which would be very uninteresting to the cursory visitor.
In the mere nautical part he has been very concise, never having been able himself to derive much entertainment from reading accounts of those monotonous transactions in a ship at sea, which are so faithfully recorded in many of our log-book publications. With the view, however, that these sketches might prove conducive to the welfare, as well as entertainment of those younger classes of naval society, for whom they are chiefly designed, the author has taken several opportunities of introducing faithful pictures drawn from life, and alas! from death also; pictures which, perhaps, too faintly exhibit those ruinous consequences that result from intemperance, and other species of immorality in tropical climates particularly; persuaded that example is the most effectual method of impressing the minds of young men with a just abhorrence of
such destructive practices. He has likewise introduced various observations and remarks, on the local diseases of the country, and on the means of preserving health in hot climates, circumstances which he flatters himself will procure this little work a favourable reception with every one embarking for our eastern possessions, and likewise among his brother officers in the navy, who, it is well known, are often ordered out to India without any previous knowledge of the country, and at a time when they cannot possibly furnish themselves with books containing the necessary information.
Throughout the whole, he has preferred the original form in which these sketches were written, that of a journal, to any attempt at artificial arrangement. They are exhibited as they arose to his view, and the extracts (which he hopes have been judiciously selected) are introduced in those places where he supposed they would be most elucidatory.
In the language and style of these sketches and remarks, he fears, indeed, that many inaceuracies and much roughness will appear; for