The shipowner and politician William Schaw Lindsay (1816-77) combined a wealth of personal experience with a meticulous approach to research. Originally published in 1874-6, this is his authoritative four-volume history of the world of ships and maritime trade. Its coverage ranges from the legend of Noah's Ark, through ancient commerce and the colonising expeditions of the middle ages, to the progress brought about by the introduction of steam to the shipping of Lindsay's own day. Details on construction and performance sit alongside explanations of the customs and superstitions of seamen, complemented by full accounts of many important nautical events. Volume 4 describes the changes produced by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and charts the rise of steam propulsion and its implications for modern-day commerce. Lindsay's practical knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject are evident throughout the work.