However little the reader may be conversant with ancient histories, in all probability he will know, or have heard this much in general, that the attempt to reach the Source of the Nile, the principal subject of this publication, from very early ages interested all scientific nations: Nor was this great object feebly prosecuted, as men, the first for wisdom, for learning, and spirit (a most necessary qualification in this undertaking) very earnestly interested themselves about the discovery of the sources of this famous river, till disappointment followed disappointment so fast, and consequences produced other consequences so fatal, that the design was entirely given over, as having, upon the fairest trials, appeared impracticable. Even conquerors at the head of immense armies, who had first discovered and then subdued great part of the world, were forced to lower their tone here, and dared scarcely to extend their advances toward this discovery, beyond the limits of bare wishes. At length, if it was not forgot, it was however totally abandoned from the causes above mentioned, and with it all further topographical inquiries in that quarter. Upon the revival of learning and of the arts, the curiosity of mankind had returned with unabated vigour towards this object, but all attempts had met with the same difficulties as before, till, in the beginning of his Majesty’s reign, the unconquerable spirit raised in this nation by a long and glorious war, did very naturally resolve itself into a spirit of adventure and inquiry at the return of peace, one of the first-fruits of which was the discovery of these coy fountains, till now concealed from the world in general.
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