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SOME years ago I was sent by the Admiralty, at the instance of Lords Liverpool and Bexley, to search for treasure on a rock in the Atlantic; and a friend having taken me a cruize in his yacht last summer, we visited the scene of my former exploration, but without any result. I, however, kept my journal, and filled up many of the long afternoons which occurred between writing the log at twelve and dinner hour at five, in noting down events, conversation, and
recollections suggested by the occasion, 'till, on my arrival at Portsmouth, I found myself in possession of a goodly volume of
However favourably I might have considered my production, I was aware that the judgment of the writer was at all times a blind guide; and I therefore consulted a publisher of nautical works, who, having waded through my manuscript, informed me that though the market was very abundantly supplied with a variety of novels there was a great dearth of naval stories, and he assured me of the success
of mine : and so convinced was he of the fact, that he was ready,
he said, to take 100 copies if I went forward. A man
“Who backs his own opinion with a wager,"
is pretty certain about it, and I was convinced accordingly, and told him to go ahead; but then arose a difficulty as to the Title. I
could not, for the life of me, select one. I thought of Notes, Journals, Recollections, Stray Leaves, &c., but their name was
Legion; too many of these already. I then applied to a classical
friend for some word which would describe my work, and he
sent me purvas (Phyllas), a heap of leaves, and Qurdooría (Phyllobolia), a scattering of leaves. However, the first was too
" Iris or
illis, naughty rake, Sweet mercenary beauty," &c.,
and the second, according to the mode of naval pronunciation
(which renders 'Bellerophon’ ‘Billy ruffian,' and my own old ship, the ‘Euryalus’ · New Royalist'), would be certainly given as “Fill-a-Bowl-ye,” and be far too suggestive of splicing the main
“What's in a name;" much, sweet Juliet; principally in the difficulty
of selecting one.
Look at excellent individuals who fight, or vote,
or job, or forensicate themselves into the House of Peers, and see
after haggling long, and with the world of names before them where
to choose, choosing ill at last. I can never utter the venerated
names of Drumlanrig, Glenelg, Skelmersdale, and a variety of others, without a clinging of the jaws and the lips : if therefore “SEA
DRIFT," which I have fixed upon, be considered vague, or foolish, or
flippant, I make this statement to deprecate criticism.
Again, as to why this delay in giving my views to the public
“ Bis dat”, &c. For this reason, there were circumstances connecteć
with a future cruize which were undetermined, and 'till they were !
could not publish ; but now that matter is at rest. This delay, however, has allowed me to introduce several interlineations and
additions which have swelled my volume and increased its bulk (whether they have enriched it is another matter, for a book is not
necessarily the better for being “as dick as dis cheese”), and given
it still more the air of an “ Omnium Gatherum, or a Bundle of
Leaves, or Sea Drift,” under which latter designation I now cast it
upon the waters.