The last great period in the history of travel may be said to begin with the voyage of Captain Cook, who in 1768 sailed from England on what was virtually the first purely scientific expedition. The primary object was for the observation at the newly discovered Society Islands in the southern Pacific of the transit of Venus, an astronomical phenomenon in which the men of science of the time were much interested. Several scientists were among the members of the expedition, which was further charged with the duty of making collections and surveys. From this time on, in ever-increasing numbers, individual travelers and great expeditions have scoured the world in order to observe and collect for scientific purposes. One after another the great nations of the world have taken up the task, until to-day the volume of scientific travel is immense. Darwin’s famous voyage in the Beagle,〖H. C., xxix, 11ff.〗 and Wallace’s years of travel in the East Indies have revolutionized much of the science of our times, and show how great may be the outcome of travel when directed toward a purely ideal end. As part and parcel of this growth of science as an inspiration to travel, we have the splendid records of the search for the Poles. Here the goal was also an ideal, the price was shorn of any practical value, and trade and commercial motives were wholly barred; yet generation after generation men strove against tremendous odds, and faced suffering and death a thousand times in their attempts to reach these, the last strongholds of the unknown. The light that led them was, however, not alone the cold flame of ideal science, although for many this may indeed have burned with pale but steady glow; for them, perhaps as much as for any men, it was the fiercer flame which burns in the hearts of all true explorers, for whom the doing is more than the deed, who go because in very truth they must.

Such a hasty glance at the history of travel from earliest times can do little more than suggest the vastness and the interest of the field. In so wide a prospect only the larger features of the landscape can be seen, and if we have, so to speak, had only glimpses of the higher mountain peaks, it does not follow that there is less of interest in the valleys that nestle at their feet. We have of necessity considered only the great travelers, the great journeys, but those more humble and of lesser compass are not therefore to be despised. Of such more modest travelers, whose little journeys lay in narrower fields, there are a host; and from the best, with their intimate local knowledge, their keen and critical observations, their sympathetic descriptions, we may gain great pleasure and be stimulated perhaps to make all the use possible of the opportunities which come to us to see more thoroughly and with a more observing eye the country and the people round about.

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