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The Strange Adventures of Captain Dangerous, Vol. 1 Who was a sailor, a soldier, a merchant, a spy, a slave among the moors...

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PREFACE. In the last century—and many centuries before the last; but it is about the eighteenth that I am specially speaking—long before steamers and railways, or even frigate-built ships and flying coaches were dreamt of, when an Englishman went abroad, he stopped there. When he came back, if at all, it was, as a rule, grizzled and sunburnt, his native habits all unlearnt, and his native tongue more than half forgotten. Even the Grand Tour, with all that money could purchase in the way of couriers and post-horses, to expedite matters for my Lord, his chaplain, his courier, and his dancing master, took as many years as it now does months to accomplish. There were no young novelists in those days to make a flying-trip to the Gaboon country, to ascertain whether the stories told by former tourists about shooting gorillas were fibs or not. There were no English engineers, fresh from Great George Street, Westminster, writing home to the Athenæum to say that they had just opened a branch railway up to Ephesus, and that (by the way) they had discovered a præ-Imperial temple of Juno the day before yesterday. Unprotected females didn't venture in "unwhisperables" into the depths of Norwegian forests; or, if they hazarded such undertakings their unprotectedness led them often to fall into cruel hands, and they never returned. A great fuss used to be made, before the days of steam, about the "Fair Sophia," who undertook a journey from Turkey to discover her lover, Lord Bateman; but how long and wearisome was her travail before she reached his lordship's castle in Northumberland, and was informed by the "proud young porter" that he was just then "taking of his young bride in"? Madame Cottin's Elizabeth, when she walked from Tobolsk to St. Petersburg to crave pardon for the exiles of Siberia; Sir Walter Scott's Jeanie Deans, when she tramped from Edinburgh to London on her errand of mercy, were justly regarded as heroines. But what were the achievements of those valorous young women when compared with the Ladies who make tours round Monte Rosa; nay, for the matter of that, "all round the world"? Il n'y a plus de Pyrénées. Nay, there are no more Andes, Himalayas, or Rocky Mountains. When the late Mr. Albert Smith wanted to change the attractions of his show, he calmly took a trip from Piccadilly to Hong Kong; it would have been better for him, poor dear fellow, had he remained at home. When her Majesty wanted to show the late Sultan of Turkey a slight act of civility, she sent Sir Charles Young out to Constantinople to invest Abdul Medjid with the Order of the Garter. Thirty years ago, it is possible the estimable King of Arms might have thought a mail-coach journey to York a somewhat serious expedition, yet he took the P. and O. Boat for Stamboul as blithely as though he were bound for a water-party at Greenwich. If an Emperor is to be crowned in Russia, or Prussia, or Crim Tartary, all the London newspapers despatch special correspondents to the scene of the pageant....