Early Australian Voyages By John Pinkerton

 -   Besides, if the ancients
had all this knowledge, how came it not to display itself in their
performances?  How came - Page 90
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Besides, If The Ancients Had All This Knowledge, How Came It Not To Display Itself In Their Performances?

How came they to make such difficulties of what are now esteemed trifles?

And how came they never to make any voyages, by choice at least, that were out of sight of land? Again, with respect to the Chinese, if they excel us so much in knowledge, how came the missionaries to be so much admired for their superior skill in the sciences? But to cut the matter short, we are not disputing now about speculative points of science, but as to the practical application of it; in which, I think, there is no doubt that the modern inhabitants of the western parts of the world excel, and excel chiefly from the labours and discoveries of these great and ingenious men, who applied their abilities to the improvement of useful arts, for the particular benefit of their countrymen, and to the common good of mankind; which character is not derived from any prejudice of ours, either against the ancients or the Oriental nations, but is founded on facts of public notoriety, and on general experience, which are a kind of evidence not to be controverted or contradicted.

We are still, however, in several respects short of perfection, and there are many things left to exercise the sagacity, penetration, and application of this and of succeeding ages; for instance, the passages to the north-east and north-west are yet unknown; there is a great part of the southern continent undiscovered; we are, in a manner, ignorant of what lies between America and Japan, and all beyond that country lies buried in obscurity, perhaps in greater obscurity than it was an age ago; so that there is still room for performing great things, which in their consequences perhaps might prove greater than can well be imagined.

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