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Captain James Cook - Voyages

CHAPTER. III.

Account of Captain Cook during the period between his first and second Voyage.

The manner in which Lieutenant Cook had performed his circumnavigation of the globe justly entitled him to the protection of government and the favour of his sovereign. Accordingly, he was promoted to be a commander in his majesty's navy, by commission bearing date on the 29th of August, 1771. Mr. Cook, on this occasion, from a certain consciousness of his own merit, wished to have been appointed a post captain. But the Earl of Sandwich, who was now at the head of the Admiralty board, though he had the greatest regard for our navigator, could not concede to his request, because a compliance with it would have been inconsistent with the order of the naval service. The difference was in point of rank only, and not of advantage. A commander has the same pay as a post captain, and his authority is the same when he is in actual employment. The distinction is a necessary step in the progress to the higher honours of the profession.

It cannot be doubted, but that the president and council of the Royal Society were highly satisfied with the manner in which the transit of Venus had been observed. The papers of Mr. Cook and Mr. Green relative to this subject, were put into the hands of the astronomer royal, to be by him digested, and that he might deduce from them the important consequences to science which resulted from the observation. This was done by him with an accuracy and ability becoming his high knowledge and character. On the 21st of May, 1772, Captain Cook communicated to the Royal Society, in a letter addressed to Dr. Maskelyne, an 'Account of the flowing of the tides in the South Sea, as observed on board his Majesty's Bark, the Endeavour.'

The reputation our navigator had acquired by his late voyage was deservedly great; and the desire of the public, to be acquainted with the new scenes and new objects which were now brought to light, was ardently excited. It is not surprising, therefore, that different attempts were made to satisfy the general curiosity. There soon appeared a publication, entitled, 'A Journal of a voyage round the World.' This was the production of some person who had been upon the expedition; and though his account was dry and imperfect, it served, in a certain degree, to relieve the eagerness of inquiry. The journal of Sidney Parkinson, draftsman to Sir Joseph Banks, to whom it belonged by ample purchase, was likewise printed, from a copy surreptitiously obtained; but an injunction from the Court of Chancery for some time prevented its appearance. This work, though dishonestly given to the world, was recommended by plates. But it was Dr. Hawkesworth's account of Lieutenant Cook's voyage which completely gratified the public curiosity. This account, which was written by authority, was drawn up from the journal of the lieutenant, and the papers of Sir Joseph Banks; and, besides the merit of the composition, derived an extraordinary advantage from the number and excellence of its charts and engravings, which were furnished at the expense of government. The large price given by the booksellers for this work, and the avidity with which it was read, displayed, in the strongest light, the anxiety of the nation to be fully informed in every thing that belonged to the late navigation and discoveries.

Captain Cook, during his voyage, had sailed over the Pacific Ocean in many of those latitudes, in which a southern continent had been expected to lie. He had ascertained, that neither New Zealand nor New Holland were parts of such a continent. But the general question concerning its existence had not been determined by him, nor did he go out for that purpose, though some of the reasons on which the notion of it had been adopted were dispelled in the course of his navigation. It is well known how fondly the idea of a _Terra Australis incognita_ had for nearly two centuries been entertained. Many plausible philosophical arguments have been urged in its support, and many facts alleged in its favour. The writer of this narrative fully remembers how much his imagination was captivated, in the more early part of his life, with the hypothesis of a southern continent. He has often dwelt upon it with rapture, and been highly delighted with the authors who contended for its existence, and displayed the mighty consequences which would result from its being discovered. Though his knowledge was infinitely exceeded by that of some able men who paid a particular attention to the subject, he did not come behind them in the sanguineness of his hopes and expectation. Every thing, however, which relates to science must be separated from fancy, and brought to the test of experiment: and here was an experiment richly deserving to be tried. The object, indeed, was of peculiar magnitude, and worthy to be pursued by a great prince, and a great nation.

Happily, the period was arrived in Britain for the execution of the most important scientific designs. A regard to matters of this kind, though so honourable to crowned heads, had heretofore been too much neglected even by some of the best of our princes. Our present sovereign had already distinguished his reign by his patronage of science and literature, but the beginnings which had hitherto been made were only the pledges of future munificence. With respect to the object now in view, the gracious dispositions of his majesty were ardently seconded by the noble lord who had been placed at the head of the board of admiralty. The Earl of Sandwich was possessed of a mind, which was capable of comprehending and encouraging the most enlarged views and schemes with regard to navigation and discovery. Accordingly, it was by his particular recommendation that a resolution was formed for the appointment of an expedition, finally to determine the question concerning the existence of a southern continent. Quiros seems to have been the first person, who had any idea that such a continent existed, and he was the first that was sent out for the sole purpose of ascertaining the fact. He did not succeed in the attempt; and the attempts of various navigators down to the present century, were equally unsuccessful.

When the design of accomplishing this great object was resolved upon, it did not admit of any hesitation by whom it was to be carried into execution. No person was esteemed equally qualified with Captain Cook, for conducting an enterprise, the view of which was to give the utmost possible extent to the geography of the globe, and the knowledge of navigation. For the greater advantage of the undertaking, it was determined that two ship should be employed; and much attention was paid to the choice of them, and to their equipment for the service. After mature deliberation by the navy board, during which particular regard was had to the captain's wisdom and experience, it was agreed, that no vessels were so proper for discoveries in distant unknown parts, as those which were constructed like the Endeavour. This opinion concurring with that of the Earl of Sandwich, the admiralty came to a resolution that two ships should be provided of a similar construction. Accordingly, two vessels, both of which had been built at Whitby, by the same person who built the Endeavour, were purchased of Captain William Hammond, of Hull. They were about fourteen or sixteen months old at the time when they were bought, and in Captain Cook's judgment, were as well adapted to the intended service as if they had been expressly constructed for that purpose. The largest of the two, which consisted of four hundred and sixty-two tons burden, was named the Resolution. To the other, which was three hundred and thirty-six tons burden, was given the name of the Adventure. On the 28th of November, 1771, Captain Cook was appointed to the command of the former; and, about the same time, Mr. Tobias Furneaux was promoted to the command of the latter. The complement of the Resolution, including officers and men, was fixed at a hundred and twelve persons; and that of the Adventure, at eighty one. In the equipment of these ships, every circumstance was attended to that could contribute to the comfort and success of the voyage. They were fitted in the most complete manner, and supplied with every extraordinary article which was suggested to be necessary or useful. Lord Sandwich, whose zeal was indefatigable upon this occasion, visited the vessels from time to time, to be assured that the whole equipment was agreeable to his wishes, and to the satisfaction of those who were to engage in the expedition. Nor were the navy and victualling boards wanting in procuring for the ships the very best of stores and provisions, with some alterations in the species of them, that were adapted to the nature of the enterprise; besides which, there was an ample supply of antiscorbutic articles, such as malt, sour krout, salted cabbage, portable broth saloup, mustard, marmalade of carrots, and inspissated juice of wort and beer.

No less attention was paid to the cause of science in general, the admiralty engaged Mr. William Hodges, an excellent landscape painter, to embark in the voyage, in order to make drawings and paintings of such objects, as could not so well be comprehended from written description. Mr. John Reinhold Forster and his son were fixed upon to explore and collect the natural history of the countries which might be visited, and an ample sum was granted by parliament for the purpose. That nothing might be wanting to accomplish the scientific views of the expedition, the board of longitude agreed with Mr. William Wales and Mr. William Bayley, to make astronomical observations. Mr. Wales was stationed in the Resolution, and Mr. Bayley in the Adventure. By the same board they were furnished with the best of instruments, and particularly with four time-pieces, three constructed by Arnold, and one by Mr. Kendal, on Mr. Harrison's principles.

Though Captain Cook had been appointed to the command of the Resolution on the 28th of November 1771, such were the preparations necessary for so long and important a voyage, and the impediments which occasionally and unavoidably occurred, that the ship did not sail from Deptford till the 9th of April following, nor did she leave Long Reach till the 10th of May. In plying down the river, it was found necessary to put into Sheerness, in order to make some alterations in her upper works. These the officers of the yard were directed immediately to take in hand; and Lord Sandwich and Sir Hugh Palliser came down to see them executed in the most effectual manner. The ship being again completed for sea by the 22d of June, Captain Cook on that day sailed from Sheerness, and, on the 3d of July, joined the Adventures in Plymouth Sound. Lord Sandwich, in his return from a visit to the dock-yards, having met the Resolution on the preceding evening, his lordship and Sir Hugh Palliser gave the last mark of their great attention to the object of the voyage, by coming on board, to assure themselves, that every thing was done which was agreeable to our commander's wishes, and that his vessel was equipped entirely to his satisfaction.

RELATED LINKS

BIOGRAPHY OF CAPTAIN JAMES COOK

PREFACE

CHAP. I. Account of Captain Cook previous to his first Voyage round the World

CHAP. II. Narrative of Captain Cook's first Voyage round the World in the years 1768, 1769, 1770, and 1771

CHAP. III. Account of Captain Cook during the Period between his first and second Voyage

CHAP. IV. Narrative of Captain Cook's second Voyage round the World in the years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775

CHAP. V. Account of Captain Cook during the Period between his second and third Voyage

CHAP. VI. Narrative of Captain Cook's third Voyage in the years 1776, 1777, 1778, and 1779, to the Period of his Death

CHAP. VII. Character of Captain Cook.--Effects of his Voyages.--Testimonies of Applause.--Commemorations of his Services.--Regard paid to his Family.--Conclusion

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