A Regiment for the Sea: And Other Writings on Navigation

A Regiment for the Sea: And Other Writings on Navigation

A Regiment for the Sea: And Other Writings on Navigation

A Regiment for the Sea: And Other Writings on Navigation

Excerpt

The interest taken today by so many people in the early history of science and technology suggested to the present editor that it would be an appropriate moment to publish among the Hakluyt Society's volumes what is perhaps the earliest technical manual written by an Englishman. The Council of the Society agreed, for it was a Seaman's Manual, fitted therefore to accompany and illuminate the histories of great sea-voyages with which the name of the Society is associated. Moreover the writer of the Manual was a contemporary of Richard Hakluyt himself, and although there is no evidence that they ever met, the great historiographer shared with William Bourne a strong and constant urge to see England great upon the sea.

As quite a young man Bourn, 'student in the mathematics', attracted the attention of Sir William Cecil, a statesman whose eagerness to encourage technical advance in this country his biographers unfortunately ignore or brush aside. And of course our author met Dr Dee, not indeed as an astrologer, but as a fellow enthusiast for trained seamanship, and the first to forecast a British overseas empire.

The book which forms the core of this volume, the Regiment for the Sea, is not without its romantic fringes. Bourne wrote as he spoke, so that out of his instruction book for sailors emerges a picture of the man himself, serious, reliable, patriotic, and with an inborn impulse to teach. A middle-class Elizabethan, of whom we meet too few, he also found time to serve on the town council, to keep an inn, and be a careful father to seven boys.

The editor wishes to express her deep gratitude to Mr R. A. Skelton, Honorary Secretary of the Society, for his unsparing help in preparing this book for the Press. Sincere thanks are also due to many others who have answered inquiries or supplied material, among them Lieut-Commander D. W. Waters, Mr . . .

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