A Sea Waggoner for the Whole World

By Strohm, Robert F. | The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Spring 1998 | Go to article overview

A Sea Waggoner for the Whole World


Strohm, Robert F., The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography


It would be "a sea waggoner for the whole world, with charts and draughts of particular places, and a large description of all the roads, harbors, and havens, with the dangers, depths, and soundings in most parts of the world, which work was never yet performed by any [Englishman]." Thus did John Seller announce his intention in 1669 to publish The English Pilot, the first major sea atlas in the English language.

The task was an ambitious one, for throughout the age of exploration the chart trade had been monopolized by continental Europe. Even the coast of England itself had been mapped by the Dutch, and few English sailors had the requisite mathematical or cartographical skills to construct an accurate chart. Moreover, Seller's vision encompassed the entire known world. He proposed to publish not one, but five separate volumes, one for the waters of northern Europe, one for the Mediterranean, and one each for Africa, the Orient, and the Americas.

Alas, Seller's aspirations exceeded his resources. Though he was a successful entrepreneur who traded in compasses and other nautical instruments, and had written and published several texts on navigation, he could neither draw competent charts nor engrave the copperplates with which to print them. Though the title page of Seller's premier volume, published in 1671, assured the reader that the work was "furnished with new and exact draughts, charts, and descriptions gathered from the experience and practice of divers and expert navigators of our English nation," the work was more accurately described by diarist Samuel Pepys as containing maps printed from "old worn Dutch plates."

Fortunately for future generations of sailors and bibliophiles, the enterprise was underfunded, and Seller soon was forced to take on partners who, by the publication of the first American volume in 1689, had bought him out entirely. Seller's successors were William Fisher, a bookseller, and John Thornton, described by one scholar as the most competent and distinguished chart maker in England at that time.

It was this felicitous combination of talents and resources that made the American volume, or The English Pilot; The Fourth Book, into one of cartography's most remarkable achievements. Thornton contributed twenty of his own original charts to the first several editions of the atlas. These additions, along with work of other deft hydrographers, were so clear and simple to use that The Fourth Book was considered the most authoritative guide to American waters for more than fifty years. Between 1689 and 1794, it was published in no fewer than thirty-seven legitimate editions and in at least three pirated, unauthorized ones. The textural content changed little over 105 years, but maps and charts constantly were added and deleted as new information became available or as the copperplates from which the maps were printed simply wore out and had to be replaced.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Sea Waggoner for the Whole World
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.