The importance of the Northwest Passage in the history of European and especially British expansion is well known. In the 40-year interlude of peace between Waterloo and the Crimean War, Britain could direct, with ease, a small portion of her fleet to polar discovery, and, by doing so, keep her Russian rival at bay, provide some employment and training for her officers, and contribute to the ends of science. Peard's journal of the voyage of Captain William Beechey , RN, and HMS Blossom to the Pacific and Arctic in 1825-8 is a lucid account of one of the most comprehensive British naval voyages to the Pacific since the days of Cook, Vancouver and Broughton. The Blossom made her way via Cape Horn to the Pacific, called at various places within the Pacific rim, and searched in vain for the expeditions of Captain William Edward Parry and John Franklin expected at the Bering Strait. George Peard, the first lieutenant of the Blossom, gives detailed descriptions of the places visited and the inhabitants, among them Pitcairn Island and the Gambier, Tahitian and Hawaiian groups. No less valuable are his accounts of Kamchatka, California, the Northwestern extremity of North America, and various parts of South America. Peard had an inquisitive, scientific mind, and he wrote a clear discursive narrative which shows that British exploration in the early Pax Britannica bore many fruits - scientific, commercial and strategic. It also showed that the Northwest passage had again eluded the British, in spite of the careful planning of the Admiralty, the Colonial office and the Hudson's Bay Company and the painstaking execution of orders by such naval officers as Parry, Franklin, Beechey and Peard himself Two of the plates are now printed at the end of the book.
Routledge is pleased to be the publisher for the Hakluyt Society.
The Hakluyt Society has for its object the advancement of knowledge and education, particularly in relation to the understanding of world history. The society publishes scholarly editions of primary sources on the 'Voyages and Travels' undertaken by individuals from many parts of the globe. These address the geography, ethnology and natural history of the regions visited, covering all continents and every period over the last two thousand years. Such texts, many previously available only in manuscript or in unedited publications in languages other than English, are the essential records of the stages of inter-continental and inter-cultural encounter.
Established in 1846, the Society has to date published over 350 volumes. All editions are in English. Although a substantial number of the Society's past editions relate to British ventures, with documentary sources in English, the majority concern non-British enterprises and are based on texts in languages other than English. Material originally written in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French or Dutch has regularly appeared, material in Russian, Greek, Latin, Ethiopic, Chinese, Persian or Arabic occasionally.
All editions contain an introduction and scholarly annotation, giving both the general reader and the student a degree of assistance in understanding the material and providing guidance on the relevance of the episodes described, within the context of global development and world history. Volumes are often generously furnished with maps and contemporary illustrations.
Information about the Society may be obtained from the Administrative Assistant at the following address:
Hakluyt Society, c/o Map Library, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DG, UK