Category Archives: Geography

Item of the Day: Kalm’s Travels (1772)

Full Title:

Travels into North America; Containing Its Natural History, and a Circumstantial Account of its Plantations and Agriculture in General, With the Civil, Ecclesiastical and Commercial State of the Country, the Manners of the Inhabitants, and several curious and important Remarks on various subjects.  By Peter Kalm, Professor of Oeconomy in the University of Aobo in Swedish Finland, and Member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences.  Translated into English by John Reinhold Forster, F. A. S.  Enriched with a Map, several Cuts for the Illustration of Natural History, and some additional Notes.  The second edition.  In Two Volumes, Vol. I.  London: Printed for T. Lowndes, No. 77, in Fleet-street. 1772.

November 1748.  New York.

The port is a good one: ships of the greatest burthen can lie in it, quite close up to the bridge: but its water is very salt [sic], and the sea continually comes in upon it; and therefore is never frozen, except in extraordinary cold weather.  This is of great advantage to the city and its commerce; for many ships either come in or go out of the port at any time of the year, unless the winds be contrary; a convenience, which, as I have before observed, is wanting at Philadelphia.  It is secured from all violent hurricanes from the southeast by Long Island, which is situated just before the town: therefore only the storms from the south west are dangerous to the ships which ride at anchor here, because the port is open only on that side.  The entrance however has its faults; one of them is that no men of war can pass through it; for though the water is pretty deep , yet it is not sufficiently so for great ships.  Sometimes even merchant ships of a large size have, by the rolling of the waves and by sinking down between them, slightly touched the bottom, though without any bad consequences.  Besides this, the canal is narrow; and for this reason many ships have been lost here, because they may be easily cast upon a sand, if the ship is not well piloted.  Some old people, who had constantly been upon this canal, assured me, that it was neither deeper nor shallower at present, than in their youth.

The common difference between high and low water, at New York, amounts to about six feet, English measure.  But a certain time in every month, when the tide flows more than commonly, the difference in the height of the water is seven feet.

New York probably carries on a more extensive commerce, than any town in the English North American provinces; at least it may be said to equal them: Boston and Philadelphia however come very near up to it.  The trade of New Yok extends many places; and it is said they send more ships from thence to London, than they do from Philadelphia.  They export to that capital all the various sorts of skins which they buy of the Indians, sugar, logwood, and other dying woods, rum, mahogany, and many other goods which are the produce of the West Indies; together with all the specie which they get in the course of trade.  Every year they build several ships here, which are sent to London, and there sold; and of late years they have shipped a quantity of iron to England.  In return of these, they import from London stuffs, and every other article of English growth or manufacture, together with all sorts of foreign goods.  England, and especially London, profits immensely by its trade with the American colonies; for not only New York, but likewise all the other English towns on the continent, import so many articles from England, that all their specie, together with the goods which they get in other countries, must altogether go to Old England, in order to pay the amount, to which they are however insufficient.  From hence it appears how much a well-regulated colony contributes to the increase and welfare of its mother country.

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Filed under 1770's, Colonial America, Commerce, Eighteenth century, Geography, Posted by Matthew Williams, Travel, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: Cary’s New and Correct English Atlas (1793)

Full Title: Cary’s New and Correct English Atlas: Being a New Set of County Maps from Actual Surveys. Exhibiting All the Direct & Principal Cross Roads, cities, Towns, and most considerable Villages, Parks, Rivers, Navigable Canals &c. Preceded by a General Map of South Britain, Shewing the Connexion of one Map with another. Also A General Description of each County, and Directions for the junction of Roads from one County to Another. London: Printed for John Cary, engraver & Map-seller, No. 181, near Norfolk Street, Strand, Published as the Act directs Jany. 1st, 1793.

NOTE

For the more ready application of the Turnpike Roads given in this work, it is to be observed, that they are connected on the Maps from one country to another by reference letters at the extremity of each Map, unless adjacent places belonging to the adjoining county are given to each, so as to answer the same purpose of connecting by affording a similar reference.

The Route to London is also particularly described by London Road, or to London being added to such roads as lead to the Metropolis, so, on the contrary, may be traced the road from London to any distant place, being vice versa of the foregoing rule, and which, it is presumed, will answer the purpose intended, that of rendering a route, however detached in separate Maps, as easy to trace as if wholly connected.

ADVERTISEMENT.

The liberal encouragement which the Public are always ready in shewing to works where utility and improvement have been a principal object, induced the Proprietor to undertake the present Publication, full of the idea that his labour, in proportion to its merit, would find its reward: possessed of that opinion, he determined that no exertion on his part should be wanting to render the ENGLISH ATLAS as complete as the size of it could possible admit: that it is more so than any other work of this kind now extant, he thinks himself warranted in asserting: from having recurse to better materials than hitherto used for a work of this nature. The kind encouragement already shewn to this publication, by a very numerous and respectable subscription, has been a flattering testimony of the approbation of the Public, to whom the Proprietor begs leave to tender his sincerest acknowledgments for the partiality they have shewn him.

Added to the Descriptions of the Counties, the Directions for the Junction of the Roads (which was all that was at first intended to accompany the Maps) a complete Alphabetical List of the Market Towns is given, with the Days on which their Markets are held, and their distance from the metropolis; to which is subjoined, a Correct List of all the Post and Sub-Post Towns, with the Receiving Houses under each, throughout England and Wales; shewing the Rates of Postage, the Time of Arrival of the Post in the Country, and its Dispatch for London. –For which Information, as well as other Material Assistance in the completion of this work, the Proprietor is indebted to the liberal permission he was honoured with by the Right Hon. the Post-Masters-General, to resort to such official documents as enable him to vouch for the correctness and accuracy of these important articles.

Sanctioned by the kind protection the Public have shewn him, he presumes to offer to their notice a large MAP of ENGLAND and WALES, upon a scale of five miles to an inch, a size which enables him to lay down every Parish, (those excepted which are situated in large Towns) with the principal Gentlemen’s Seats, Roads, Rivers, and Navigable Canals, as well as other useful matter; and a particular attention will be paid to the Orthography of this Map, a circumstance so frequently complained of, (owing to the difference of pronunciation from the locality of situation) and which experience only can obviate.

N.B. A Specimen of the Work may be seen at J. Cary’s, Strand.

 

 

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Filed under 1790's, Atlas, England, Geography, Great Britain, London, Maps, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Dampier’s Voyage to New Holland (1699)

Full Title:

A Voyage to New Holland, &c. In the Year, 1699. Wherein are described, The Canary-Islands, the Isles of Mayo and St. Jago. The Bay of All Saints, with the Forts and Town of Bahia in Brasil. Cape Salvadore. The Winds of the Brasilian Coast. Abrohlo-Shoals. A Table of all the Variations observ’d in this Voyage. Occurrences near the Cape of Good Hope. The Course to New Holland. Shark’s Bay. The Isles and Coast, &c. of New Holland. Their Inhabitants, Manners, Customs, Trade, &c. Their Harbours, Soil, Beasts, Birds, Fish, &c. Trees, Plants, Fruits, &c. Illustrated with several Maps and Draughts, also divers Birds, Fishes, and Plants, not found in this part of the World, Curiously Ingraven on Copper-Plates. Vol. III. By Captain William Dampier. London: Printed for James Knapton, at the Crown in St. Paul’s Church-yard, 1703.

The Preface.

The favourable Reception my two former Volumes of Voyages and Descriptions have already met with in the World, gives me Reason to hope, That notwithstanding the Objections which have been raised against me by prejudiced Persons, this Third Volume likewise may in some measure be acceptable to Candid and Impartial Readers, who are curious to know the Nature of the Inhabitants, Animals, Plants, Soil, &c. in those distant Countries, which have either seldom or not at all been visited by any Europeans.  

It has almost always been the Fate of those who have made new Discoveries, to be disesteemed and slightly spoken of, by such as either have had no true Relish and Value for the Things themselves that are discovered, or have had some Prejudice against the Persons by whom the Discoveries were made. It would be vain therefore and unreasonable in me to expect to escape the Censure of all, or to hope for better Treatment than far Worthier Persons have met with before me. But this Satisfaction I am sure of having, that the Things themselves in the Discovery of which I have been imployed, are most worthy of our Diligentest Search and Inquiry; being the various and wonderful Works of God in different parts of the World: And however unfit a Person I may be in other respects to have undertaken this Task, yet at least I have given a faithful Account, and have found some Things undiscovered by any before, and which may at least be some Assistance and Direction to better qualified Persons who shall come after me.

It has been Objected against me by some, that my Accounts and Descriptions of Things are dry and jejune, not filled with variety of pleasant Matter, to divert and gratify the Curious Reader. How far this is true, I must leave the World to judge. But if I have been exactly and strictly careful to give only True Relations and Descriptions of Things (as I am sure I have;) and if my Descriptions be such as may be of use not only to my self (which I have already in good measure experienced) but also to others in future Voyages; and likewise to such Readers at home as are more desirous of a Plain and Just Account of the true Nature and State of the Things described, than of a Polite and Rhetorical Narrative: I hope all the Defects in my Stile, will meet with an easy and ready Pardon.

Others have taxed me with borrowing from other Men’s Journals; and with Insufficiency, as if I was not my self the Author of what I write, but published Things digested and drawn up by others. As to the first Part of this Objection, I assure the Reader, I have taken nothing from any Man without mentioning his Name, except some very few Relations and particular Observations received from credible Persons who desired not to be named; and these I have always expressly distinguished in my Books, from what I relate as of my own observing. And as to the latter; I think it so far from being a Diminution to one of my Education and Employment, to have what I write, Revised and Corrected by Friends, that on the contrary, the best and most eminent Authors are not ashamed to own the same Thing, and look upon it as an Advantage.   

Lastly, I know there are some who are apt to slight my Accounts and Descriptions of Things, as if it was an easie Matter and of little or no Difficulty to do all that I have done, to visit little more than the Coasts of unknown Countries, and make short and imperfect Observations of Things only near the Shore. But whoever is experienced in these Matters, or considers Things impartially, will be of a very different Opinion. And any one who is sensible, how backward and refractory the Seamen are apt to be in long Voyages when they know not whither they are going, how ignorant they are of the Nature of the Winds and the shifting Seasons of the Monsoons, and how little even the Officers themselves generally are skilled in the Variation of the Needle and the Use of the Azimuth Compass; besides the Hazard of all outward Accidents in strange and unknown Seas: Any one, I say, who is sensible of these Difficulties, will be much more pleased at the Discoveries and Observations I have been able to make, than displeased with me that I did not make more.

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Filed under 1690's, Explorations, Geography, Maps, Posted by Matthew Williams, Travel

Item of the Day: Plinie’s Naturall Historie (1601)

Full Title:

The Historie of the World. Commonly called, the Naturall Historie of C. PLINIUS SECUNDUS. Translated into English by Philemon Holland Doctor of Physicke. Printed in London by Adam Islip, 1601.

Excerpt from the Eighth Booke, Chap. XVI. “Of Lions.”

The Lions are then in their kind most strong and courageous, when the haire of their main or coller is so long, that it covereth both necke and shoulders. and this commeth to them at a certaine age, namely, to those that are engendered by Lions indeed. For such as have Pards to their sires, never have this ornament, no more than the Lionesse. These Lionesses are very letcherous, and this is the very cause that the Lions are so fell and cruell. This, Affricke knoweth best, and seeth most: and especially in time of a great drought, when for want of water, a number of wild beasts resort by troups to those few rivers that be there, and meet together. And hereupon it is, that so many strange shaped beasts, of a mixt and mungrell kind are there bred, whiles the males either perforce, or for pleasure, leape and cover the females of all sorts. From hence it is also, that the Greekes have this common proverbe, That Affricke evermore bringeth forth some new and strange thing or other. The Lion knoweth by sent and smell of the Pard, when the Lionesse his mate hath plaied false, and suffered her selfe to be covered by him: and presently with all his might and maine runneth upon her for to chastise and punish her. And therefore when the Lionesse hath done a fault that way, shee either goeth to a river, and washeth away the strong and ranke savour of the Pard, or els keepeth aloofe, and followeth the Lion farre off, that hee may not catch the said smell. I see it is a common received opinion, that the Lionesse bringeth forth young but once in her lie, for that her whelpes in her kinling; teare her belly with their nailes, and make themselves roume that way. Aristotle writeth otherwise, a man whom I cannot name, but with great honour and reverence, and whome in the historie and report of these matters I meane for the most part to follow. And in very truth king Alexander the great, of an ardent desire that he had to know the natures of all living creatures, gave this charge to Aristotle, a man singular and accomplished in all kind of science and learning, to search into this matter, and to set the same downe in writing: and to this effect commanded certaine thousands of men, one or other, throughout all the tract, as well of Asia as Greece, to give their attendance, & obey him: to wit, all Hunters, Faulconers, Fowlers, and Fishers, that lived by those professions. Item, all Forresters, Park-keepers, and Wariners: all such as had the keeping of heards and flockes of cattell: of bee-hives, fish-pooles, stewes, and ponds: as also those that kept up foule, tame or wild, in mew, those that fed poultrie in barton or coupe: to the end that he should be ignorant of nothing in this behalfe, but be advertised by them, according to his commission, of all things in the world. By his conference with them, he collected so much, as thereof he compiled those excellent bookes de Annimalibus, i. of Living creatures, to the number of almost fiftie. Which being couched by me in a narrow roume, and breefe Summarie, which the addition also of some things els which he never knew, I beseech the readers to take in good worth: and for the discoverie and knowledge of all Natures workes, which that most noble & famous king that ever was desired so earnestly to know, to make a short start abroad with mee, and in a breefe discourse by mine owne paines and diligence digested, to see all. To return now unto our former matter. That great Philosopher Aristotle therfore reporteth, that the Lionesse at her first litter bringeth forth five whelpes, and every yeare after, fewer by one: and when she commeth to bring but one alone, she giveth over, and becommeth barren. Her whelpes at the first are without shape, like small gobbets of flesh, no bigger than weasels. When they are sixe months old, they can hardly go; and for the two first, they stirre not a whit. Lions there be also in Europe (onely betweene the rivers Achelous and Nestus) and these verily be farre stronger than those of Affricke or Syria. Moreover, of Lions there be two kinds: the one short, well trussed and compact, with more crisp and curled maines, but these are timerous and but cowards to them that have long and plaine haire; for thsoe passe not for any wounds whatsoever. The Lions lift up a legge when they pisse, as dogges doe: and over and besides that, they have a strong and stinking breath, their very bodie also smelleth ranke. Seldome they drinke, and eat but each other day: and if at any time they feed till they be full, they will abstaine from meat three daies after. In their feeding, whatsoever they can swallow without chawing, down it goes whole: and if they find their gorge and stomack too full, and not able indeed to receive according to their greedie appetite, they thrust their pawes downe their throats and with their crooked clees fetch out some of it againe, to the end they should not be heavie and slow upon their fulnesse, if haply they be put to find their feet and flie. Mine author Aristotle saith moreover, that they live verie long: and he prooveth it by this argument, That many of them are found toothles for very age. Polybius who accompanied [Scipio] Æmylianus in his voyage of Affrick, reporteth of them, That when they be grown aged, they will prey upon a man: the reason is, because their strength will not hold out to pursue in chase other wild beasts. Then, they come about the cities and good towns of Affrick, lying in await for their prey, if any folk come abroad: & for that cause, he saith, that whiles he was with Scipio he saw some of them crucified & hanged up, to the end that upon the sight of them, other Lions should take example by them, and be skared from doing the like mischiefe. The Lion alone of all wild beasts is gentle to those that humble themselves unto him, and will not touch any such upon their submission, but spareth what creature soever lieth prostrate before him. As fell and furious as hee is otherwhiles, yet he dischargeth his rage upon men, before that he setteth upon women, and never preyeth upon babes unlesse it be for extreame hunger. They are verily persuaded in Libya, that they have a certaine understanding, when any man doth pray or entreat them for any thing. I have hard it reported for a truth, by a captive woman of Getulia (which being fled was brought home againe to her master) That shee had pacified the violent furie of many Lions within the woods and forrests, by faire language and gentle speech; and namely, that for to escape their rage, she hath been so hardie as to say, shee was a sillie woman, a banished fugitive, a sickely, feeble, and weake creature, an humble suiter and lowly supplicant unto him the noblest of all other living creatures, the soveraigne and commaunder of all the rest, and that shee was too base and not worthie that his glorious majestie should prey upon her. Many and divers opinions are currant, according to the sundrie occurrences that have hapned, or the inventions that mens wits have devised. As touching this matter, namely, that savage beasts are dulced and appeased by good words and faire speech: as also that fell serpents may bee trained and fetched out of their holes by charmes, yea and by certaine conjurations and menaces restrained and dept under for a punishment: but whether it be true or no, I see it is not yet by any man set downe and determined. To come againe to our Lions: the signe of their intent and disposition, is their taile; like as in horses, their ears: for these two marks and tokens, certainly hath Nature given to the most couragious beasts of all others, to know their affections by: for when the Lion stirreth not his taile, hee is in a good mood, gentle, mild, pleasantly disposed, and as if hee were willing to be plaied withall; but in that fit he is seldome seene: for lightly hee is alwaies angrie. At the first, when hee entreth into his choller, hee beateth the ground with his taile: when hee groweth into greater heats, he flappeth and jerketh his sides and flanks withall, as it were to quicken himselfe, and stirre up his angry humor. His maine strength lieth in his breast: hee maketh not a wound (whether it be by lash of taile, scratch of claw, or print of tooth) but the bloud that followeth, is black.

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Filed under 1600's, Explorations, Geography, Greek/Roman Translations, Hard Science, History, Natural Science, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt

Item of the Day: Dampier’s New Voyage Round the World (1697)

Full Title:

New voyage round the world. Describing particularly, the isthmus of America, several coasts and islands in the West Indies, the Isles of Cape Verd, the passage by Terra del Fuego, the South Sea coasts of Chili, Peru, and Mexico; the Isle of Guam on to the Ladrones, Mindanao, and other Philippine and East-India Islands near Cambodia, China, Formosa, Luconia, Celebes, &c. New Holland, Sumatra, Nicobar Isles; the Cape of Good Hope, and Santa Hellena. Their soil, rivers, harbours, plants, fruits, animals, and inhabitants. Their customs, religion, government, trade, &c. By William Dampier. The second edition with corrections. Includes dedicatory epistle, preface contents, introduction; ills. with 5 maps (4 fold); list of books sold by James Knapton. First published London, same year, 1697. Printed in London for James Knapton, at the Crown in St Paul’s Church-yard, 1697.

From “Mr. William Dampier’s Voyage Round the Terrestrial Globe, The Introduction”:

The Author’s Departure from England, and arrival in Jamaica. His first going over the Isthmus of America into the South Seas: his Coasting along Peru and Chili, and back again, to his parting with Captain Sharp near the Isle of Plata, in order to return over Land.

I First set out of England on this Voyage, at the beginning of the year 1679, in the Loyal Merchant of London, bound for Jamaica, Captain Knapman Commander. I went a Passenger, designing when I came thither, to go from thence to the Bay of Campeachy, in the Gulph of Mexico, to cut Log-wood: where in a former Voyage I had spent about three years in that employ; and so was well acquainted with the place and the work.

We sailed with a prosperous gale without any impediment, or remarkable passage in our Voyage: unless that when we came in sight of the Island Hispaniola, and were coasting along on the South side of it, by the little Isles of Vacca, or Ash, I observed [C]aptain Knapman was more vigilant than ordinary, keeping at a good distance off shore, for fear of coming too near those small low Islands, as he did once, in a voyage from England, about the year 1673, losing his Ship there, by the carelessness of his Mates. But we succeeded better; and arrived safe at Port Royal in Jamaica some time in April 1679, and went immediately ashore.

I had brought some goods with me from England which I intended to sell here, and stock my self with Run and Sugar, Saws, Axes, Hats, Stockings, Shoes, and such other Commodities, as I knew would sell among the Campeachy Log-wood Cutters. Accordingly I sold my English Cargo at Port Royal; but upon some maturer considerations of my intended Voyage to Campeachy, I changed my thoughts of that design, and continued at Jamaica all that year, in expectation of some other business.

I shall not trouble the Reader with my Observations at that Isle, so well known to English men; nor with the particulars of my own Affairs during my stay there. But in short, having there made a purchase of a small Estate in Dorsetshire, near my Native Country of Somerset, of one whose Title to it I was well assured of, I was just embarking my self for England, about Christmas, 1679, when one Mr Hobby invited me to go first a short Trading Voyage to the [c]ountry of the Moskito’s, of whom I shall speak in my first chapter. I was willing to get up some money before my return, having laid out what I had at Jamaica; so I sent the Writing of my new purchase along with the same friends whom I should have accompanied to England, and went on board Mr Hobby.

Soon after setting out we can to an anchor again in Negril Bay, at the West end of Jamaica; but finding there [C]aptain Coxon, Sawkins, Sharp, and other Privateers, Mr Hobby’s men all left him to go with them, upon an expedition they had contrived, leaving not one with him beside my self; and being thus left alone, after 3 or 4 days with Mr Hobby, I was the more easily perswaded to go with them too.

It was shortly after Christmas 1679 when we set out. The first Expedition was to Portobel; which being accomplished, it was resolved to march by Land over the Isthmus of Darien, upon some new Adventures in the South Seas. Accordingly on the 5th of April 1680, we went ashore on the Isthmus, near Golden Island, one of the Sambaloes, to the number of between 3 and 400 men, carrying with us such Provisions as were necessary, and Toys wherewith to gratify the Wild Indians, through whose [c]ountry we were to pass. In about nine days march we arrived at Santa Maria, and took it, and after a stay there of about three days, we went on to the South Sea [c]oast and there embarked our selves in such [c]anoas, and Periago’s us our Indian friends furnished us withal. We were in sight of Panama by the 23rd of April, and having in vain attempted Puebla Nova, before which Sawkins, then Commander in Chief, and others, were kill’d, we made some stay at the Neighbouring Isles of Quibo.

Here we resolved to change our course, and stand away to the Southward for the Coast of Peru. Accordingly we left the Keys or Isles of Quibo the 6th of June, and spent the rest of the year in that Southern course; for touching at the Isles of Gogonia and Plata, we came to Ylo, a small town on the Coast of Peru, and took it. This was in October, and in November we went thence to Coquimbo on the same Coast, and about Christmas were got as far as the Isle of John Fernando, which was the farthest of our Course to the Southward.

After Christmas we went back again to the Northward, having a design upon Arica, a strong Town advantageously situated in the hollow of the Elbow, or bending of the Peruvian Coast. But being there repulsed with great loss, we continued our course Northward, till by the middle of April we were come in sight of the Isle of Plata, a little to the Southward of the Equinoctial Line.

I have related this part of my Voyage thus summarily and concisely, as well because the World hath Accounts of it already, in the relations that Mr Ringrose and others have given of Captain Sharp’s Expedition, who was made chief Commander, upon Sawkins’s being kill’d: as also, because in the prosecution of this Voyage I shall come to speak of these parts again, upon occasion of my going the second time into the South Seas: and shall there describe at large the places both of the North, and South America, as they occurred to me. And for this reason, that I might avoid needless Repetitions, and hasten to such particulars, as the Publick hath hitherto had no account of, I have chosen to comprize the Relation of my Voyage hitherto, in this short compass, and place it as an Introduction before the rest, that the Reader may the better perceive where I mean to begin to be Particular; for there I have plac’d the Title of my first Chapter.

All therefore that I have to add to the Introduction is this: That while we lay at the Isle of John Fernando, Captain Sharp was, by general consent, displaed from being Commander; the Company being not satisfied either with his Courage or Behaviour. In his stead, Captain Watling was advanced: but he being killed shortly after before Arica, we were without a Commander during all the rest of our return towards Plata. Now Watling being killed, a great number of the meaner sort began to be as earnest for choosing Captain Sharp again into the vacancy, as before they had been as forward as any to turn him out: And on the other side, the abler and moreexperienced men, being altogether dissatisfied with Sharp’s former Conduct, would by no means consent to have him chosen. In short, by that time we were come in sight of the Island Plata, the difference between the Contending Parties was grown so high, that they resolved to part Companies; having first made an Agreement, that which Party soever should, upon Polling, appear to have the Majority, they should keep the Ship: And the other should content themselves with the Lanch or Long-boat, and Canoas, and return back over the Isthmus, or go to seek their fortune otherways, as they would.

Accordingly we put it to a Vote; and upon dividing [C]aptain Sharp’s party carried it. I, who had never been pleased with his management, though I had hitherto kept my mind to my self, now declared my self on the other side of those that were Out-voted; and according to our agreement, we took our shares of such Necessaries, as were fit to carry over Land with us, (for that was our Resolution:) and so prepared for our Departure.

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Filed under 1690's, Geography, Maps, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Travel

Item of the Day: Guthrie’s Geographical Grammar (1786)

Full Title: New system of modern geography: or, a geographical, historical, and commercial grammar; and present state of the several kingdoms of the world. Containing, I. The figures, motions, and distances of the planets, according to the Newtonian system and the latest observations. II. A general view of the earth considered as a planet; with several useful geographical definitions and problems. III. The grand divisions of the globe into land and water, continents and islands. IV. The situation and extent of empires, kingdoms, states, provinces, and colonies. V. Their climates, air, soil, vegetable productions, metals, minerals, natural curiosities, seas, rivers, bays, capes, promontories, and lakes. VI. The birds and beasts peculiar to each country. VII. Observations on the changes that have been any where observed upon the face of nature since the most early periods of history. VIII. The history and origin of nations; their forms of government, religion, laws, revenues, taxes, naval and military strength. IX. The genius manners, customs, and habits of the people. X. Their language, learning, arts, sciences, manufactures, and commerce. XI. The chief cities, structures, ruins, and artificial curiosities. XII. The longitude, latitude, bearings, and distances of principal places from London. To which are added, I. A geographical index, with the names and places alphabetically arranged. II. A table of the coins of all nations, and their value in English money. III. A chronological table of remarkable events from the creation to the present time. By William Guthrie, Esq. The astronomical part by James Ferguson, F.R.S. Third edition, with great addtions and improvements, and a copious index, illustratd with a set of large and accurate maps. London: Printed for C. Dilly, and G. G. J. and J. Robinson, 1786.

[In his Travelling Memorandums, Lord Gardenstone makes the following observation regarding this work of William Guthrie: “Gurthrie’s geographical grammar is the best book of its kind so far as I know. It is concise, accurate, and instructive. –And I think it is one very proper Vade mecum for travellers.”]


THE
PREFACE.

To a man sincerely interested in the welfare of society and of his coutnry, it must be particularly agreeabe to reflect on the rapid progress, and general diffusion of learning and civility, which, within the present age, have taken place in Great Britain. Whatever may be the cae in some other kingdoms of Europe, we, in this island, may boast of our superiority to those illiberal prejudices, which not only cramp the genius, but sour the temper of man, and disturb all the agreeable intercourse of society. Among us, learning is no longer confined within the schools of the philosophers, or the courts of the great; but, like all the greatest advantages which Heaven has bestowed on mankin, it is become as universal as it is useful.This general diffusion of knowledge is one effect of that happy constitution of government, which, towards the close of the last century, was confirmed to us, and which constitutes the peculiar glory of this nation. In other countries, the great body of the people possess little wealth, have little power, and consequently meet with little respect; in Great Britain the people are opulent, have great influence, and claim, of course, a proper share of attention. To their improvement, therefore, men of letters have lately directed their studies; as the great body of people, no less than the dignified, the learned, or the wealthy few, have an acknowledged title to be amused and instructed. Books have been divested of the terms of the schools, reduced from that size which suited only the purses of the rich, and the avocations of the studious; and adapted to persons of more ordinary fortunes, whose attachment to other pursuits admitted of little leisure for those of knowledge. It is to books of this kind, more than to the works of our Bacons, our Lockes, and our Newtons, that the generality of our countrymen owe that superior improvement, which distinguishes them from the lower ranks of men in all other countries. To promote and advance this improvement, is the principal design of our present undertaking. No subject appears more interesting than that we have chosen, and none seems capable of being handled in a manner that may render it more generally useful.

The knowledge of the world, and of its inhabitants, though not the sublimest pursuit of mankind, it must be allowed, is that which most nearly interests them, and to which their abilities are best adapted. And Books of Geography, which describe the situation, extent, foil , and productions of kingdoms; the genius, manners, religion, government, commerce, sciences, and arts of all the inhabitants upon earth, promise the best assistance for attaining this knowledge. . . .

Next to Great Britain, we have been most particular upon the other states of Europe; and always in proportion as they present us with the largest field of useful reflection. By comparing together our accounts of the European nations, an important system of practical knowledge is inculcated; and a thousand arguments will appear in favour of a free government, religious toleration, and an extended, unrestrained commerce.

Europe having occupied so large a part of our volume, Asia next claims our attention; which, however, though in some respects the most famous quarter of the world, offers, when compared to Europe, extremely little of our entertainment or instruction. In Asia, a strong attachment to ancient customs, and the weight of tyrannical power, bear down the active genius of the inhabitants, and prevent that variety in manners and character, which distinguishes the European nations.

In Africa, the human mind seems degraded below its natural state. To dwell long upon the manners of this country, a country immersed in rudeness and barbarity, besides that I could afford little instruction, would be disgusting to every lover of mankind. Add to this, the inhabitants of Africa, deprived of all arts and sciences, without which the human mind remains torpid and inactive, discover no great variety in manners or character. A gloomy sameness almost every where prevails; and the trifling distinctions which are discovered among them, seem rather to arise from an excess of brutality on the one hand, than from any perceptible approaches towards refinements on the other. But though these quarter of the globe are treated less extensively than Europe, there is no district of them, however barren or savage, entirely omitted.

America, whether considered as an immense continent, inhabited by an endless variety of different people, or as a country intimately connected with Europe by the ties of commerce and government, deserves very particular attentions. The bold discovery, and barbarous conquest of this New World, and the manners and prejudices of the original inhabitants, are objects, which, together with the description of the country, deservedly occupy no small share of this performance.

In treating of such a variety of subjects, some less obvious particulars, no doubt, must escape our notice. But if our general plan be good, and the outlines and chief figures sketched with truth and judgment, the candour of the learned, we hope, will excuse imperfections which are unavoidable in a work of this extensive kind. . . .

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Filed under 1780's, Geography, Maps, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel