It was Peter Fleming who noted a principal difficulty for the traveller in the 20th century. There were no journeys to be made, he said, that had not been made already, and he knew that in anything he chose to do, ‘other, better, men’ would have gone before. Under such circumstances, ‘only the born tourist — happy, goggling, ruminant — can follow in their tracks with the conviction that he is not wasting his time’.James Holman, the hero of A Sense of the World, was probably happy and possibly ruminant. But what he was most definitely not was goggling. For by the time he set off to travel hither and yon around the world, Holman was blind. His blindness began suddenly in 1787, the summer of his 25th year. At first he hoped — as who would not? — that the affliction was temporary.