Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, by Richard Hakluyt

A dedicatorie Epistle vnto the Queenes most excellent Maiestie, written by Master William Burrough late Comptroller of Her Highnesse nauie, and annexed vnto his exact and notable mappe of Russia, briefly containing (amongst other matters) his great trauailes, obseruations, and experiments both by sea and land, especially in those Northeastern parts.

To the most high and renowmed Princesse ELIZABETH by the grace of God Queene of England, France and Ireland, &c.

My minde earnestly bent to the knowledge of nauigation and, Hydrographie from my youth (most excellent my dread Soueraigne) hath eftsoones beene moued by diligent studie to search out the chiefest points to them belonging: and not therewith sufficed hath also sought by experience in diuers discoueries and other voyages and trauailes to practise the same. I was in the first voyage for discouerie of the partes of Russia, which begun in anno 1553. (being then sixteene yeeres of age) also in the yeere 1556. in the voyage when the coastes of Samoed and Noua Zemble, with the straightes of Vaigatz were found out: and in the yeere 1557, when the coast of Lappia, and the bay of S. Nicholas were more perfectly discouered. Since which time, by my continuall practise in the voyages made yeerely to S. Nicholas in Russia, or to the Narue, and to some other countreys also by Sea: as likewise in passing from S. Nicholas to Mosco, and from Mosco to Narue, and from thence backe againe to S. Nicholas by land, in the yeeres 1574. and 1575. (being then Agent in those countries for the companie of English merchants for discoueries of new trades) setting downe alwayes with great care and diligence, true obseruations and notes of al those countreys, Islands, coasts of the sea, and other things requisite to the arts of Nauigation and Hydrographie; and with like diligence gathering exact notes and descriptions of the wayes, riuers, cities, townes, &c. as I passed by Land: I finde my selfe sufficiently furnished to giue report vnto your Maiesty, and to make description of those North parts of the world in forme and maner of euery leagues distance that I haue passed and seene in al those my trauels. The places herein described, which I haue not seene and tried my selfe, I haue set downe by the best authorities that I could finde, and therein may erre with the learned Gerardus Mercator, Abraham Ortelius, and the rest: but for the maine part which is from Rochel in France hither to London, and from hence Eastward to Narue by sea, and from thence to Mosco and to S. Nicholas by land: also from hence Northwards and Northeastwards by Sea to Saint Nicholas, and to the straight of Vaigatz (first crauing humbly your highnesse pardon) I dare boldly affirme (and that I trust without suspect of arrogancie, since truely I may say it) I haue here set it open to the view, with such exactnesse and trueth, and so placed euery thing aright in true latitude and longitude, (accompting the longitudes from the Meridian of London, which I place in 21 degrees) as till this time no man hath done the like: neither is any man able by learning onely, except he trauaileth as I haue done. For as it may be truely saide of Nauigation and Hydrographie, that no man can be cunning in the one which wanteth conuenient knowledge in the other: and as neither of them can be had without the helpes of Astronomie and Cosmographie, much lesse without these two grounds of all artes, Arithmetike and Geometrie: so none of the best learned in those sciences Mathematicall, without conuenient practise at the sea can make iust proofe of the profite in them: so necessarily dependeth art and reason vpon practise and experience. Albeit there are diuers both learned and vnlearned, litle or nothing experienced, which in talke of nauigation will enter deeply and speake much of and against errours vsed therein, when they cannot reforme them. Such also haue written thereof, pretending singular great knowledge therein, and would so be accompted of, though in very deede not worthy the name of good and sufficient pilots. To whom I thinke it shall not be amisse in defence of rules builded vpon reason, and in practise allowed, thus much to say for answere. It is so, that there are rules vsed in nauigation which are not perfectly true: among which the streight lines in sea-cardes, representing the 32. points of the compasse or windes are hot holden to be the least, but noted of such talkers for principall, to condemne the occupiers thereof for ignorant: yet hath the famous and learned Gerardus Mercator vsed them in his uniuersal mappe. But such as condemne them for false, and speake most against their vse cannot giue other that should serue for nauigation to better purpose and effect. Experience (one of the keyes of knowledge) hath taught mee to say it. Wherein with my abilitie, together with some part of my studie, I am rather moued (in this my plot) to make some triall vnto your maiestie: for that I perceiue that such attempts of newe discoueries (whereunto this noble Island is most aptly situated) are by your royall maintenance so willingly furthered: beseeching your highnesse so to accept of these my trauailes, as a pledge of my well willing to my countrey, and of my loyall seruice to your maiestie, whose healthfull happie life and reigne God continue which is Almightie. Amen.

Your Maiesties most humble subiect

William Burrough.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55