VOYAGES ROUND THE WORLD,
CAPTAIN JAMES COOK.
ACCOUNT OF HIS LIFE
DURING THE PREVIOUS AND INTERVENING PERIODS.
A. KIPPIS, D.D., F.R.S., & S.A.
TO THE KING.
I esteem myself highly honoured in being permitted to dedicate and
present my Narrative of the Life and Actions of Captain James Cook to
your Majesty. It was owing to your Majesty's royal patronage and
bounty, that this illustrious navigator was enabled to execute those
vast undertakings, and to make those extraordinary discoveries, which
have contributed so much to the reputation of the British empire, and
have reflected such peculiar glory on your Majesty's reign. Without
your Majesty's munificence and encouragement, the world would have
remained destitute of that immense light which has been thrown on
geography, navigation, and the most important sciences. To your
Majesty, therefore, a work like the present is with particular
It is impossible, on this occasion, to avoid extending my thoughts to
the other noble instances in which your Majesty's liberal protection
of science and literature has been displayed. Your Majesty began your
reign in a career so glorious to princes: and wonderful has been the
increase of knowledge and taste in this country. The improvements in
philosophical science, and particularly in astronomy; the exertions of
experimental and chemical inquiry, the advancement of natural history,
the progress and perfection of the polite arts, and the valuable
compositions that have been produced in every department of learning,
have corresponded with your Majesty's gracious wishes and
encouragement, and have rendered the name of Britain famous in every
quarter of the globe. If there be any persons who, in these respects,
would depreciate the present times, in comparison with those which
have preceded them, it may safely be asserted, that such persons have
not duly attended to the history of literature. The course of my
studies has enabled me to speak with some confidence on the subject;
and to say, that your majesty's reign is eminently distinguished by
one of the greatest glories that can belong to a monarch.
Knowledge and virtue constitute the chief happiness of a nation: and
it is devoutly to be wished that the virtue of this country were equal
to its knowledge. If it be not so, this does not arise from the want
of an illustrious example in the person of your Majesty, and that of
your royal Consort. The pattern which is set by the King and Queen of
Great Britain, of those qualities which are the truest ornaments and
felicities of life, affords a strong incitement to the imitation of
the same excellencies; and cannot fail of contributing to the more
extensive prevalence of that moral conduct on which the welfare of
society so greatly depends.
That your Majesty may possess every felicity in your royal Person and
Family, and enjoy a long and prosperous reign, over an enlightened, a
free, and a happy people, is the sincere and ardent prayer of,
Your Majesty's most faithful,
and most obedient,
subject and servant,
London, June 31, 1788.
Although I have often appeared before the public as a writer, I never
did it with so much diffidence and anxiety as on the present occasion.
This arises from the peculiar nature of the work in which I have now
engaged. A Narrative of the Life and Actions of Captain Cook must
principally consist of the voyages and discoveries he made, and the
difficulties and dangers to which he was exposed. The private
incidents concerning him, though collected with the utmost diligence,
can never compare, either in number or importance, with his public
transactions. His public transactions are the things that mark the
man, that display his mind and his character; and, therefore they are
the grand objects to which the attention of his biographer must be
directed. However, the right conduct of this business is a point of no
small difficulty and embarrassment... Continue reading book >>