By Georg Forster
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Extra info for A Voyage Round the World (2-Volume Set)
If printed, readers might have construed it as an insult to the British. If we are to believe John Elliot, Cook himself had construed the encounter between the ships as an insult. 20 The third strategy George uses to make up for any factual deficiencies is by far the most important. By alleging that what the public expected to read was a “philosophical recital of facts” (7, our emphasis), he shifts the emphasis squarely toward natural history and his father’s expertise, away from geography and navigation.
Such writers may possibly acquire the approbation of some individuals, “Who haunt Parnassus but to please their ears;”15 But I am convinced the generality of readers are always just enough to overlook, in some measure, the defects of style in favour of the novelty or usefulness of the subject. Without attempting to be curiously elegant, I have aimed at perspicuity; and having paid the strictest attention to this particular, I hope to meet with indulgence, if some errors of less moment have escaped my notice.
From him they expected a philosophical history of the voyage, free from prejudice and vulgar error, where human nature should be represented without any adherence to fallacious systems, and upon the principles of general philanthropy; in short, an account written upon a plan which the learned world had not hitherto seen executed. (5–6) Of course the British legislature had done no such thing. They merely had approved four thousand pounds to defray the expenses of Dr. James Lind, a young Scottish physician and astronomer who was to accompany Joseph Banks,21 a sum that could be put at the disposition of the Forsters after it had become clear that neither Lind nor Joseph Banks would participate in the journey.