Indiana University Bloomington

Daniel Defoe Banner
Voyages

Voyage Narratives

Voyage narratives were everywhere in 17th and 18th century England, but many of these left much to be desired. For, as the narrator of A New Voyage Round the World tells us, “a seaman, when he comes to the press, is pretty much out of his element, and a very good sailor may make but a very indifferent author.” These narratives told the same stories and described the same places until circumnavigation of the globe became a commonplace. What Defoe tries to do, then, with the works listed here, is not only to entertain readers with the details of the sights and adventures but to show his readers how to move forward. His New Voyage Round the World is a circumnavigation story like any other, except that the route is different. The captain sails eastward around Africa rather than west as all others had done before. The captain then discovers that the continent of South America is traversable over land, and that land is full of gold. Defoe of course didn’t know that either one of these routes were doable, nor that the Chileans were bathing in gold, but it’s as if he wants to spur on the imagination of his fellow Englishman, drive them out of their complacency, and urge them to make new journeys and explorations, always with the end goal of increasing the greatness of England.

The three volumes of his Tour, on the other hand, remain on English soil, but they, too, are firmly rooted in the idea that by understanding the world they live in, his readers can use this knowledge to best advantage and so increase trade, productivity, and the overall health of the nation.




New Voyage Round the World Title Page
A New Voyage Round the World, by a Course never Sailed before. Being a Voyage undertaken by some Merchants, who afterwards proposed the Setting up an East-India Company in Flanders. London: Printed for A. Bettesworth, at the Red-Lyon, in Pater-Noster-Row; and W. Mears, at the Lamb, without Temple-Bar, 1725 [i.e., 1724].

[See additional images]

Written in the wake of his other popular fictions, this narrative tells of a merchant ship’s captain who sails east by way of the Cape of Good Hope, touching at various ports until they arrive off the western coast of South America. Throughout their journeys, the captain and his crew use various disguises depending on what other ships they encounter and whose waters they’re sailing in. Once they arrive in Chile, the captain decides to test the theory that the Andes can be crossed by foot by sending a group of his men across the continent. The captain sails around the horn and picks them up on the other side, where he is told about all their adventures by land.

Tour Thro’ the whole Island of Great Britain Title Page
A Tour Thro’ the whole Island of Great Britain, Divided into Circuits or Journies. Giving a Particular and Diverting Account of whatever is Curious and worth Observation, viz. I. A Description of the Principal Cities and Towns, their Situation, Magnitude, Government, and Commerce. II. The Customs, Manners, Speech, as also the Exercises, Diversions, and Employment of the People. III. The Produce and Improvement of the Lands, the Trade and Manufactures. IV. The Sea Ports and Fortifications, the Course of Rivers, and the Inland Navigation. V. The Publick Edifices, Seats, and Palaces of the Nobility and Gentry. With Useful Observations upon the Whole. Particularly fitted for the Reading of such as desire to Travel over the Island. By a Gentleman. London: Printed, and Sold by G. Strahan, in Cornhill. W. Mears, at the Lamb without Temple-Bar. R. Francklin, under Tom’s Coffee-house, Covent-Garden. S. Chapman, at the Angel in Pall-Mall. R. Stagg, in Westminster-Hall, and J. Graves, in St James’s-Street. MDCCXXIV.

[See additional images]

Defoe’s goal in this work is to give a broad account of the various parts of Great Britain, from the southern edges of England to the northern reaches of Scotland, written in a series of “letters.” Although he acknowledges that many have written such works before, “Whoever has travell’d Great Britain before us, and whatever they have written, tho’ they may have had a Harvest, yet they have always, either by Necessity, Ignorance or Negligence pass’d over so much, that others may come and Glean after them by large Handfuls” (iv). He occasionally includes the observations of others, for example “A Diary: Or, an Account of the Siege and Blockade of Colchester, An. 1648,” complete with a fold-out plate depicting the siege. In the first “letter” he describes his journey in the eastern counties, namely Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Cambridge. The second journey began in Kent and followed the coast in that direction. The third journey takes him west to the north shores of Cornwall, beginning at Hampton Court and ending, on the way back, with Windsor.

Tour Thro’ the whole Island of Great Britain Volume 2 Title Page
A Tour Thro’ the whole Island of Great Britain, Divided into Circuits or Journies. Giving a Particular and Diverting Account of whatever is Curious, and worth Observation, viz. I. A Description of the Principal Cities and Towns, their Situation, Magnitude, Government, and Commerce. II. The Customs, Manners, Speech, as also the Exercises, Diversions, and Employment of the People. III. The Produce and Improvement of the Lands, the Trade and Manufactures. IV. The Sea-Ports and Fortifications, the Course of Rivers, and the Inland Navigation. V. The Publick Edifices, Seats, and Palaces of the Nobility and Gentry. With Useful Observations upon the whole. Particularly fitted for the Reading of such as desire to Travel over the Island. With a Map of England and Wales, by Mr. Moll. Vol II. By a Gentleman. London: Printed, and Sold by G. Strahan, in Cornhill. W. Mears, at the Lamb without Temple-Bar. R. Francklin, under Tom’s Coffee-house, Covent-Garden. S. Chapman, at the Angel in Pall-Mall. R. Stagg, in Westminster-Hall, and J. Graves, in St James’s-Street. MDCCXXIV.

[See additional images]

Volume II picks up where the first left off, this time making a circuit in the southwest of England beginning on the south coast of Cornwall and making his way back toward London. The second letter is devoted entirely to the capital, for, “As I am now near the Center of this Work, so I am to describe the great Center of England, the City of London, and Parts adjacent” (94). The third letter is very large in scope, touching on many of the counties surrounding London and even farther afield.

This volume also includes an index for both this and the first volume.


Tour Thro’ the whole Island of Great Britain Volume 3 Title Page
A Tour Thro’ the whole Island of Great Britain, Divided into Circuits or Journies. Giving a Particular and Diverting Account of whatever is Curious, and worth Observation, viz. I. A Description of the Principal Cities and Towns, their Situation, Magnitude, Government, and Commerce. II. The Customs, Manners, Speech, as also the Exercises, Diversions, and Employment of the People. III. The Produce and Improvement of the Lands, the Trade and Manufactures. IV. The Sea-Ports and Fortifications, the Course of Rivers, and the Inland Navigation. V. The Publick Edifices, Seats, and Palaces of the Nobility and Gentry. With Useful Observations upon the whole. Particularly fitted for the Reading of such as desire to Travel over the Island. Vol III. Which completes this Work, and contains a Tour thro’ Scotland, &c. With a Map of Scotland, by Mr. Moll. By a Gentleman. London, Printed: And Sold by G. Strahan, in Cornhill. W. Mears, at the Lamb without Temple-Bar. And J. Stagg, in Westminster-Hall. MDCCXXVII [for 1726].

[See additional images]

This last volume is written in two parts, the first treating the part of England north of the River Trent and the second covering all of Scotland.


View the Next Section |View the Previous Section
Back to Top


 
Lilly Library Home     Exhibition Home     Online Exhibitions
Last Updated: 17 August 2008
(c) 2008 The Trustees of Indiana University