One of the books he obviously enjoyed dipping into is Richard Hakluyt's monumental Principal Navigations of these 1600 Years, in which the author cobbled together or commissioned various travelogues from a host of intrepid adventurers. Lewis singles out Walter Raleigh's contribution, The Discovery of Guiana, for special praise:
"[This book] combines almost every charm that a prose narrative could have – substantial truth, a quest for a fabulous city that might have come out of Rider Haggard, a sound prose, pathos, chivalry, a gift for description ... And he knows the secret; not to tell too much, even when it clamours to be told, for many details 'are more pleasing in describing than reading'."
Over in France at around the same time, Michel de Montaigne was beavering away in the tower of his chateau virtually inventing the essay form, blissfully unaware that he was set to become an influence on writers as diverse as Pascal, Emerson, Nietzsche and Clive James.
I think both Raleigh and Lewis would have approved of what he has to say about the misplaced confidence of mediocre writers (in this case, poets) in his essay "Of presumption":
"A man may play the fool in everything else, but not in poetry:
'Neither men, nor gods, nor the pillars on which the poets offer their writings, permit mediocrity in poets.' (Horace, The Art of Poetry, 372)
I would to God this sentence was written over the doors of all our printers, to forbid the entrance of so many rhymesters!
'The truth is, that nothing is more confident than a bad poet.' (Martial, Epigrams, Book VII, 63, 13."