Page:The Pathfinder of the Seas.djvu/55

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

during the last part of his recent tour of sea duty. He did not expect to receive much direct profit from such a nautical book, but hoped that it might be of a collateral advantage to him in making his name known to the Navy Department and to his brother officers. As it was the first nautical work of science ever to come from the pen of an American naval officer, he expected to base a claim for promotion on the merits of the book, and had hopes of being made a lieutenant of ten years' rank with the accompanying back pay amounting to $4,000 or $5,000.

These plans of Maury's did not fully materialize. President Jackson was of the opinion that the young author deserved promotion for his scientific work and reimbursement for the money which he had expended in its publication, but the Secretary of the Navy, Mahlon Dickerson, did not carry out the President's wishes. The book itself, however, was a great success on its appearance early in the year 1836, under the title of "A New Theoretical and Practical Treatise on Navigation". The publishers, E. C. and J. Biddle of Philadelphia, soon had the pleasure of printing a long list of favorable opinions of the work from professors and distinguished officers in the navy, among which the commendation of Nathaniel Bowditch gave Maury the greatest satisfaction. His book very quickly took the place of Bowditch's "Practical Navigator" as a textbook for junior officers in the navy, and when the Naval Academy was established at Annapolis it was used for several years as the basis of the instruction given to midshipmen in navigation. In the title page appeared the significant words, "Cur Non?" (Why not?), the motto adopted by Lafayette when he espoused the cause of the American colonies; this was in effect Maury's answer to any query