Picture of Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe

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Preface to Third Volume

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THE TOUR is now finish'd; and you have the account contracted into as narrow a compass, as, considering the extent of ground pass'd over, with the number of cities, populous towns, and a country infinitely rich, populous and prosperous, to be described, could be reasonably expected.

As I mentioned in the last volume, every new view of Great Britain would require a new description; the improvements that encrease, the new buildings erected, the old buildings taken down: New discoveries in metals, mines, minerals; new undertakings in trade; inventions, engines, manufactures, in a nation, pushing and improving as we are: These things open new scenes every day, and make England especially shew a new and differing face in many places, on every occasion of surveying it.

Since our last volume, we have to add to the description of the parts in and about London, a large variety both of publick and private buildings; as a new East-India House building in the city, and a South-Sea Company-House finished, both lofty and magnificent. Mr. Guy's Hospital in Southwark, the noblest foundation of the age for one private charity, finished and filled at the foot of above an hundred thousand pounds gift, if common fame may be believed: The additions to Bethlehem Hospital, and several new steeples and churches; Sir Gregory Page's house, or rather palace, upon Black-Heath, erected and finished, one of the most beautiful seats belonging to a private gentleman, that not England only, but that all Europe can produce.

Add to this the cookery, as they properly enough call it, of the South-Sea Company for their Greenland trade, their whale-fishing, and boiling their blubber, &. being the largest magazine of all sorts of materials for the shipping, fishing, &. that is belonging to any private branch of commerce. Then there is a little city of buildings, streets and squares, added to those mentioned before, at the west end of Hanover and Cavendish Square, with the repair of two terrible fires at Wapping and Ratcliff.

And, to close all: There is the erecting a new stone bridge over the Thames at Putney and Fulham, for which an Act of Parliament was obtained last sessions, and preparations are now actually making to set about it, which is like to be a very stately and magnificent work.

If all these additions are to be found in the small interval between the publishing the second volume and this of the third, and that in so narrow a compass, what may not every subsequent year produce? and what encouragement is here for new and more accurate surveys of this country? which, whoever travels over it, will always furnish new materials, and a variety both profitable and delightful.

The fine house built by the Right Honourable Sir Robert Walpole, in the north part of the county of Norfolk, is, as I am told, now also finished, at least the outside work and figure of the building is; so it is a mistake that must be acknowledged in form, (however not the author's) when, in our last, the inscription fixed on the foundation-stone of the building, was said to be ordered for the frize; the necessary absence of the author, (who was then on a journey for preparing this volume) may answer for a fault owing to the corrector of the press, and which, had the author seen it, could not have pass'd his notice. But the triumph one impertinent has made upon the occasion, is fully check'd by this more than needful concession. It is a happy testimony of the care and caution used by the author of this work, in every part of it, when such earnest endeavours are used to expose it, and so little found, to lay hold of. Any mistake that can be found, and, in a friendly manner, hinted, we shall receive with thankfulness, and amend chearfully; But a cavil, evidently malicious, of an author without a ?ame, lest an answer should be given, will be treated as it deserves, with the contempt of silence.

Daniel Defoe, A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain, divided into circuits or journies (London: JM Dent and Co, 1927)

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