The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volume One]
Introduction — The Young Banks
The Young Banks
What shall we call the eighteenth century? How often, and how vainly, has it been summarized in a phrase! — stuffed into a single garment, as it were, from which it bursts at every seam, its uncontrollable, magnificent, startling life forcing itself upon the eye of the beholder in lavish and indecent contradiction. It was an Age, there seems no doubt of that — the Age of the Despots, of Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, of Oratory, of Gin, the Mercantilist Age, the Age of the Augustans, the Age of Rococo, the Age of Johnson. There can be no harm, thinking of England, to which Johnson so immediately and forthrightly brings us, in conferring another name, no more nor less adequate: let us call those busy decades — or a sufficient selection of them — the Age of the Gentleman Amateur. For the century was, in so much of its activity, pre-professional. One must not say merely dilettante: that would be unjust. In the first place, the word has subtly changed its meaning; in the second, though the dilettante throve, never did he have a choicer field for his activity; never did dilettantism become, as with Horace Walpole, so exquisitely almost professional in itself. But no one would call dilettanti those men of profound scientific activity, Joseph Priestley and Henry Cavendish, any more than one would call this nonconformist minister and this recluse of a ducal family professional scientists. Was Lord Burlington merely dilettante in architecture, or Gibbon in history, or Gilbert White in natural history ? Or Arthur Young in agriculture, or that equally assiduous traveller, Thomas Pennant, in zoology, or in the free field of general observation and antiquities ? And for how many hundreds of the obscure do these large figures stand! — the country parsons devoted to local history, in at the birth, almost, of British archaeology; the scholars who had escaped from the common room and the port; the nobility who had no taste for gaming or politics — though was not politics itself, whatever its savagery and cupidity, its attraction page 2 for men on the make, still one of the great preserves of the Gentleman Amateur?
Science, above all, apart from politics, it is that comes to the aid of a generalization that may often seem to totter dangerously: there is so much that rushes forth as contrary evidence in literature and art and architecture, in theology and even in prize-fighting. Science had not been organized, Science was not at all professional and most imperfectly academic; Science, as we know it today, was almost at the beginning of things; and yet Science was popular. The educated classes of England, as of France, made it a cult; that most unscientific figure Dr Johnson was throughout his life given to ‘chemical experiments’. True, in the mid-century it was long since Sir Isaac Newton's Principia had begun to send its ceaseless eddies through the European mind; true, by 1760 the Royal Society had enjoyed a hundred years of irregularly scientific life; but even the Royal Society was predominantly a society of Gentlemen, and of amateurs. Science, indeed, as Priestley tinkered with his apparatus, and Cavendish plumbed new depths of analytic thought, and Western Civilization sailed in ships bearing the beneficent gifts of Commerce and of War to the uttermost bounds of the earth, saw empires expanding which had before been only a dream. Empires were for conquest, arduous but exhilarating: to the votaries of the descriptive, of geography, of zoology, of botany, how fair the prospect! How almost intoxicating the scene on which the natural historian could look forth, the young disciple of Linnaeus! — for it is that light, famous, venerable, omnipresent, that shines above our travellers, that presence that irradiates their farthest wanderings; there in Uppsala is the centre and bosom of learning from which, almost, all proceeds, to which all returns. To be the pupil of Linnaeus, his friend, his correspondent, his informant — this was to be sealed with the seal of a new virtue, this was to be enlisted under a banner, to be one of a brotherhood, to have a master and a father, and in Nature an intellectual home. Not even the great Buffon ever stood in quite this relation with European science. Should we, then, speak of the Age of Linnaeus? We might do worse; but it does not really matter. What matters was that science was both widening and deepening the scope of its command: not always with true learning, sometimes almost accidentally — led sometimes from old myth to new myth, undermining new as well as old with new experience. And now rose up, indeed, within Natural History, something new, something incomparably exciting, Man in the state of nature: the Noble Savage entered the study page 3 and the drawing-room of Europe in naked majesty, to shake the preconceptions of morals and of politics. He was not, it is true, universally admired, and behind him came illimitable files of savages something less than noble, insufficiently elegant, beings whose natural state caused the philosopher embarrassment. There were cultivated persons who, like Horace Walpole, were not entertained: scholars who, like Dr Johnson, refused to be instructed. But the science of ethnology was born.
So, on the scene of our scrutiny, into this busy age, steps the figure of Joseph Banks, the gifted, the fortunate youth: enthusiastic, curious, the voyager, the disciple of Linnaeus, the botanist and zoologist, the devotee of savages; not yet, as one examines his early career, a Public Figure, but certainly a Gentleman, certainly a figure typical of his age; and certainly as much as anyone, and more than most, the Gentleman Amateur of Science.
1 For the outline of Banks's ancestry here given, I have relied on his own notes, now in the possession of Mr Warren R. Dawson, Dawson MS 47. They are filled out in Dr J. W. F. Hill's excellent introduction to his edition of the Letters and Pabers of the Banks Family of Revesby Abbey 1704–1760, Lincoln Record Society, Vol. 45 (Lincoln 1952).
1 There has been a little confusion, to which Banks himself unwittingly contributed, over the date of his birth. In the latest life, Dr H. C. Cameron's Sir Joseph Banks (London 1952), p. I, n., the date is given as ‘February 2nd, 1743 O.S.’ and Cameron adds, ‘Lord Brougham, in giving the correct date and place, tells us that he has it “from a note in his own hand which lies before me”. This note may possibly be one of the memoranda now in the possession of Mr Warren Dawson, which Dr Cameron quotes (p. 284) as ‘Born 1743 Feb 2nd old style….’ But ‘February 2nd, 1743 O.S.’ would be 13 February 1744 New Style; and it is evident that Banks intended his ‘old style’ to apply merely to the day of the month, not to the year. This is borne out by a birth-certificate, now in the Public Library, Dunedin, New Zealand, copied from the register of the church of St James, Westminster, and dated 15 November 1753. This gives the date of birth as 2 February 1742—i.e. O.S. (the modern, or Gregorian, calendar was not adopted in Great Britain till 1752). Notes at the bottom of the document in Banks's hand begin ‘Born Feb 13 1743’ (i.e. N.S.), and go on to the dates of his entry to Harrow, Eton and Oxford, as given below.
1 In his Hunterian oration, 1822; reprinted by Cameron, Appendix D, particularly pp. 297–8.
1 Brougham, Lives of Men of Letters and Science in the Reign of George III, II (London 1846), p. 340.
2 He matriculated 16 December 1760.
1 ibid., p. 341.
2 Dawson MS 47, f.51.
1 Brougham, II, p. 342
2 This story appears in the General Evening Post, 7 January 1772, in a rather different form, wherein the incident is said to have happened ‘Iately’—Banks having become a subject for gossip.
3 According to the Christ Church battel books Banks was in regular residence from his matriculation data until the end of the Michaelmas quarter 1763; he then became irregular, but was still in residence, though with some breaks, for 21 weeks in 1764. He was charged for the last week of the term beginning Lady Day 1765—perhaps merely for college dues—and for four weeks of the Midsummer term 1765. His name remained on the battel books until 1766 but with no evidence that he was in residence after the single month in 1765. He never troubled to take a degree.—I am indebted for these particulars to the Deputy Librarian of Christ Church, Mr W. G. Hiscock. The dates cast a little light on the year of Israel Lyons's lectures, on which there is some conflict. Nichols, Literary Anecdotes, II (1812), p. 328, says he was brought to Oxford by Banks ‘about 1762 or 1763, to read lectures, which he did with great applause, to at least sixty pupils’, but in giving July 1764. I follow the definite statement of Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iv (Cambridge 1852), p. 381. Banks was then a senior man and his own master.
1 In a letter first published in Swedish (Upfostrings-Salskapets Tidningar, No. 14 [21 February 1785], pp. 105–10), and later in German (‘Ueber Solander’, Berlinische Monats-schrift, 6 , pp. 240–9). This letter gave Banks's recollections of Solander. I owe my knowledge of it to Mr R. A. Rauschenberg, of the University of Illinois, who generously sent me a translation of the German version. I refer to it below as ‘Ueber Solander’.
1 The original manuscript of the journal that Banks kept on this voyage is now in Adelaide, in the possession of the South Australian branch of the Royal Geographical Society. I have used a careful copy made by Sarah Sophia, in the library of the Botanical Department of the British Museum (Natural History), 121 pp. quarto; this is entitled ‘Journal of a Voyage to Newfoundland & Labrador: commencing April y° seventh, & ending November the 17th 1766’, and is signed at the head, ‘S: S: Banks 1772’. At the bottom of p. 2 she has a pencil note, ‘mem: there are many References to Latin Names of Plants &c. which I shall leave out.’ There is a second copy, which includes an additional section, ‘Some Account of Lisbon, & the adjacent Country, &customs of the Inhabitants’. This is one of a set of Banks's lesser journals copied out by her, now arranged in three volumes and in the possession of Sir David Hawley. Dr J. W. F. Hill has kindly lent me typescripts of these journals. The originals, apart from the Newfoundland and Iceland journals, have disappeared. I refer to the copies in footnotes hereunder as S.S.B., with the date.
2 William Cookworthy (1705–80) was an interesting minor figure of the eighteenth century, a greatly respected Quaker, successful as a wholesale druggist, and with scientific leanings; the surviving examples of his chinaware are many of them delightful. Banks and Cook are said to have dined with him just before the Endeavour sailed from Plymouth (his grandson kept the dining table as a relic), but neither of them mentions such a meeting. Solander wrote to Ellis, 25 August 1768, ‘When you see Dr. Fothergill give him my respects, and tell him that we here in Plymouth met with a friend of his, Mr. Cookworthy, as worthy a man as can be, full of knowledge, and very communicative: we are very much obliged to him for his civilities’.—Sir James Edward Smith (ed.), A Selection of the Correspondence of Linnaeus, and other Naturalists, from the Original Manuscripts (London 1821), II, p. 11. I hereafter cite this work as J. E. S. For Cookworthy see D.N.B. and John Prideaux, Relics of William Cookworthy (London 1853).
1 Journal, 16 June.
I received yours two days ago with newspapers &c: &c: which I must thank you all for as I can assure you they were the greatest Comfort you can Conceive — we all sat round the Fire & hunted out all the deaths marriages &c: &c: as eagerly as a schoolboy does Plumbs out of a Pudding
How do you think I have spent my Leisure Time since I have been here Very Musically I can assure you I have learnt to Play upon a new Instrument as I have Forswore the Flute I have tried my hand upon strings what do you think it is now not a fiddle I can assure you but a Poor innocent Guittar which Lay in the Cabbin on which I can play Lady Coventries minuet & in Infancy &c: with Great successpage 13
Pray My Love to Coz Bate & tell her that she & I differ a little in opinion about Stamford races as I had rather be here Than at all the races in Europe — not but what I beleive she was at Least as happy there as I am here
I hope Mr Lee has been Very Civil & Given you Nosegays as often as you have been to him if not tell him he shall not have one of my Insects when I come home give my Compts to him also & tell him that if I did not think it might Endanger Cracking some of Your Ladyships teeth I would Let him know by you some of the Hard names of the things I have got
So Miss Frederick is going to be married to our countryman a dangerous Experiment I think he killed his Last wife in a hurry I hope he may keep her alive a little Longer but maybe she intends to Revenge Miss Pit & kill him I know you women are Sad Husband killers in your hearts
I do not know what Else to say I am almost Exhausted thank you however for your ague receipt it has one merit however I think for if it would not Cure an ague I am sure it would kill a horse
We are here in daily Expectation of the Eskimaux Ladies here I wish with all my heart they were Come as I might have sent you a sealskin gown & Petticoat Perfumd with train oil which to them is as Sweet as Lavander water but more of them when I know them better at Present adieu only Beleive
Me Your very affectionate Brother
J BanksP: S: Pray My Compts to all Freinds at Chelsea especialy our neighbours at the Garden I mean our Garden-ing uncle & aunt adieu1
This letter does not indicate very much of the adventures of a naturalist across the Atlantic; it is not very witty; but it does indicate the easy good humour of its writer's mind — when things were going well — and his excellent relations with this admiring and admirable sister.
1 ML, Banks Papers, XVI, pp. 3ff. Some of the personal allusions in this letter escape me—‘Miss Frederick’, ‘Miss Pit’ and ‘our countryman’. No doubt ‘Coz Bate’ was a relative on Banks's mother's side, and ‘Mr Lee’ was James Lee, the Hammersmith nurseryman.
1 Journal, pp. 105–6.
2 Journal, p. 113.
Meanwhile there were things to do in the metropolis, and beyond it. There was so much to raise the interest of an intelligent man. He went down into Kent on a little tour of universal enquiry — plants, shells, fossils, fortifications, the manufacture of vitriol, beer, and flints, dockyards, a fire ship and a court martial all claimed his attention — and then was again involved in London.4 We have a letter to Thomas Pennant of 5 May 1767:5
I am ashamed I have not Long before wrote to you to tell you the truth
1 It speaks highly of Banks's generosity that he was prepared to lend his herbarium to his friend John Sneyd, of Bishton, Derbyshire, for the period of his absence on the Endeavour voyage. See Sneyd to Banks, Kew B.C. I, 31, n.d., requesting the loan, and asking him also to buy textiles for Sneyd's wife in China and Japan if he should visit those countries; and ibid., 30, 9 January 1773, thanking him for the loan.
2 There are, for instance, in Kew B. C. I, several letters from Gerard De Vismes, of Lisbon, beginning with 2 June 1767; the second announces the gift of a hogshead of ‘that choice Calcavellas’, with instructions for its treatment.
3 There is a marginal note to this effect at the beginning of the description of Lisbon in the second copy of the journal by S. S. B. The Niger arrived at Plymouth on 20 January 1767.
4 Journal of an Excursion to Chatham, Rochester, Sheerness, Sheppey, &c. began Febry 21st 1767 Ended March 4th 1767.—S.S.B. 1772.page 16 my Idleness is only to be excusd by alledging a still greater as a palliative Circumstance which is that I have not yet got your Beaver [i.e. a print of the animal] Colourd to tell you the truth I have been so hurried Ever since you left town by furnishing my house that I have scarcely had time to think of anything Else.
5 Alexander Turnbull Library (hereafter referred to as ATL), ALS 269.
Mr White called upon me today in your name & left some Specimens of Birds …. I intend tomorrow to call upon him at Horaces head and hold Ornithological Converse tho I can assure you it does not go on with the spirit it used to do when you was with us.
[A paragraph follows on the colouring of plates.] I want you of all things to visit a new Branch of trade I have lately discoverd which I think may be of Service to us the Horners a set of people who live by selling the Horns of all sorts of animals unworked up to those who work them into Knife Hafts &c. the People sell what they Call Buffaloes horns every day & must Certainly have many of animals unknown to us.
adieu Floreat Res Zoologica says
Your affectionate J Banks
Another to the same correspondent, of 14 May,1 touches on journeys:
I am Just upon the wing setting out for Dorsetshire … I mean to be out about a fortnight in which time I shall visit Bristol & the other side of the Channell I am much obligd to you (for an obligation you are not perhaps at present apprizd of) I mean an acquaintance with Mr White who mentiond your name & promises to send divers & various discoveries to town……. Instead of remaining Idle as I intended till I should set out for Flint I find I am to be well employd for I must set out for Lincolnshire as soon as I return from my present expedition….
Presumably this tour was followed by the visit to Lincolnshire, for Banks kept a close eye on his estate. There was also the anticipated journey to Flintshire and his friend Pennant. But was not something possible of nobler note ?
I am Just Returnd to London From my Excursion [he wrote to Pennant] & as I prophesied in my Last found two of yours which your kindness had sent to me in my absence
What will you say to me if I should be prevented from paying my respects to you & N: Wales this year tho I so fully intended it nothing but your Looking upon it with the Eye of an unprejudiced nat: Historian
1 ‘Grey Wethers’—not ‘weathers’, as spelt by Banks—from their resemblance at a distance to a flock of sheep. The stone circle at Avebury, a mile and a half away, is believed to have been built with sarsens from this site, which was declared a nature reserve in 1956.page 18 can bring any excuse to be heard with Patience Look then with Zoologick Eyes & tell me if you could Blame me if I Sacraficed every Consideration to an opportunity of Paying a visit to our Master Linnaeus & Profiting by his Lectures before he dies who is now so old that he cannot Long Last
2 His little journal of this tour exists in a copy by S.S.B., Hawley coll. It was admirably edited by Spencer George Perceval, and printed in the Proceedings of the Bristol Naturalists Society, New Series IX, 1899, pp. 6–37.
I know you cannot Blame me & you will not when I tell you that nothing shall hinder my attendance in Flintshire but such an expedition. …1
1 This letter has no date or address, but it is with other letters addressed to Pennant, ATL, ALS 269. It must be after 20 June; though Kew B.C. I, 7, a letter from Pennant, 10 June 1767, at first sight appears to be an answer to it: ‘I sincerely wish yr tour may answer; but, not being greatly smitten with the charms of Linnaeus, must be doubtfull till I hear from you’. Banks may have mentioned his plan to Pennant earlier. Pennant thought Linnaeus was deficient in ornithology, ‘madripology’, and fossils: ‘his fort is Botany’. By ‘madripology’, a word not in the dictionaries, I take it he meant the study of corals—from ‘madrepore’, generally applied in his day to any perforate coral. Again, ibid., 8, 3 July 1767, ‘I have no very high opinion of Linnaeus's zoologick merits’. In another letter, 26 July 1767, D.T.C. I, p.13, he wishes Banks luck on the journey.
2 13 August 1767–29 January 1768. Banks kept a journal on this tour, the copy of which by S.S.B. runs to 159 pp., illustrated with sketches and diagrams. It is now in the National Library of Wales, MS 147. He kept also a memorandum book of very characteristic ‘Observations & facts relating to Nat. Hist. Commerce &c. Learnt from different people’; Dawson MS 44.
1 Pennant to Banks, 15 January 1768; D.T.C. I, p. 16.
2 ‘I am extremely glad to find you are projecting a Northern Journey this summer for the benefit of Natural History. You intend, I hear, to visit if possible the great Lapland fair….’—15 February 1768; Kew B.C. I, 17. Falconer, a generous recluse, was called by the enthusiastic Miss Seward ‘the Maecenas of Chester’. Pennant was his kinsman by marriage. His letters to Banks are always very long, deferential, and full of advice on matters which call for scientific investigation.
1 I am writing of the eighteenth century, and I here deliberately use this word with its eighteenth century meaning of ‘science’. Physics in some universities is still ‘natural philosophy’. Johnson's Dictionary defines ‘Philosopher’ as ‘A man deep in knowledge, either moral or natural’—we should say for the latter ‘scientist’; and ‘Philosophy’ as (1) ‘Knowledge natural or moral’; (2) ‘Hypothesis or system upon which natural effects are explained’; (4) ‘The course of sciences read in the schools’. At the same time I admit that I am not consistent in this usage, and that ‘philosopher’ and ‘philosophize’ occur below in much more modern connotations—my hope being that the reader will be neither confused nor irritated.
1 It was in the Newfoundland and not Pacific context that Banks first heard of Cook. Captain Wilkinson of the Niger, 18 December 1767 (Kew B. C. I, 15) writes to him, ‘Sir, As my meeting with the Indians was very uncertain, The Cask of things you left on board of the Niger for Truck with 'em Mr Palliser took on board the Guernsey to Chatteaux, & I believe he has procure'd you some of their dresses &c. I'd got a Canoe for you which I sent home in the Grenville as she came to Deptford, but she Unluckily run on shore & it was wash'd over board & lost as I am told, tho I have not been able to see Mr Cook to ask him about it, nor I am afraid shan't as I am going into the Country but if you'll please to send to him he will let you know whether there are any hopes of getting it by Advertising which I thought off as it was drove ashore on the Essex coast I believe…. Mr Cook lives I am told some where about Mile end, but the Vessel I believe is got up to Deptford [so] that I fancy it will be best to send to enquire on board her’.—The Grenville was Cook's surveying schooner; in heavy weather off the Nore, 11 November 1767, she dragged her anchor and went on shore, but was refloated next day with very little damage.
Joseph Banks Esqr Fellow of this Society, [wrote the secretary] a Gentleman of large fortune, who is well versed in natural history, being Desirous of undertaking the same voyage the Council very earnestly request their Lordships, that in regard to Mr Banks's great personal merit, and for the Advancement of useful knowledge, He also, together with his Suite, being seven persons more, that is, eight persons in all, together with their baggage, be received on board of the Ship, under the Command of Captain Cook.1
1 I quote from the letter as it is entered in the Minutes of the Council of the Royal Society, 9 June 1768.
1 Richard Kaye to Banks, 26 June 1768; Kew B.C. I, 27.
2 Pennant to Banks, 10 April 1768; Kew B.C. I, 21.
1 Cook 1, p. 620.
1 Cf. the letter from Linnaeus to Ellis, 6 November 1759, J.E.S. I, p. 125. Linnaeus had already written with undue optimism to Ellis as early as 30 May 1759, ‘No doubt my much-loved pupil Solander has, ere this, found a tranquil asylum in your friendship. I have recommended him to your protection, as I would my own son….’—ibid., pp. 123–4.
2 J.E.S. I, p. 502.
3 He heard some surprising things at the Royal Society; e.g. his letter to Ellis, 5 March 1762 (J.E.S. II, p. 8). ‘Last night I was at the Royal Society. It was a long meeting, but very few things of consequence. One Rev. Dr. Foster had sent two letters; in one he will prove, against Mr. Collinson, that swallows really, during winter, immerse themselves in water…. likewise mention is made of frogs in winter, during a hard frost, being found frozen, apparently dead, being hard and brittle like flint, so that they break with a blow. But if taken into a warm room, they come to life again.’—Linnaeus seems to have believed the story about the swallows.—Collinson to Linnaeus, 15 September 1763 (a rather sceptical letter, suggesting some practical experiments), J.E.S. I, pp. 59–62.
4 J.E.S. I, pp. 56–7.
1 Collinson to Linnaeus, 16 November 1762; ibid., pp. 57–8.
2 Ellis to Linnaeus, 21 December 1762; ibid., p. 160.
3 Collinson to Linnaeus, 1 May 1765; J.E.S. I, p. 65. This was the greatest private collection of the time. It was dispersed in 1786. Horace Walpole wrote on 8 April 1786 to his nephew Thomas, ‘The catalogue of the Duchess of Portland's collection is come out. The auction begins on the 24th. Out of thirty-eight days there are but eight that exhibit anything but shells, ores, fossils, birds’ eggs, and natural history’.—Letters (ed. Toynbee), XIII, p. 376.
4 ‘Ueber Solander’, pp. 244–5.
2 ‘our Freind Governor V [?] Loten is fixd in N Burlington Street so we shall with ease get the Rest of his Drawin[g]s’.—Banks to Pennant, 14 May 1767.—He has got hold of Governor Loten's drawings and is getting them copied as fast as possible—he will not let Parkinson do anything else.—To Pennant, n.d. ATL, MS Folder 269. Cf. Pennant to Banks, 27 June 1767: ‘My dear fellow Labourer, avoid procrastination: we may lose our opportunity: Loten is old and his wife is young; and the odds are against his life’.— D.T.C. I, p. 10.
3 ‘I am extremely glad you take Parkinson with you & doubt not you will gain treasures from the several collections of drawings you will find.’—Pennant to Banks, 4 August 1767; Kew B.C. I, 12.
1 I regret that the journals written by Roberts and Briscoe escaped listing with the other civilian journals in Cook I, pp. ccxxxix-xlii. Roberts's is now in the Mitchell Library; Briscoe's in the Dixson Library. They have however no particular value as journals, their first few entries being copied from the ship's log—perhaps at some removes—and the rest from Pickersgill. They do, however, include useful lists of the ship's company, with the ‘qualities’ in which individuals sailed: the ‘quality’ of Roberts and Briscoe being ‘Footman’. The Briscoe volume has the unusual and pious title-page, ‘A Journal of His Majesties Bark Endeavour By Gods Permishon Bound to the South Seas….’
1 For its significance see Cook I, pp. clvii-xiv.
2 See p. 287, n. 6 below.
I must now inform you, that Joseph Banks, Esq. a gentleman of £6000 per annum estate, has prevailed on your pupil, Dr. Solander, to accompany him in the ship that carries the english astronomers to the new discovered country in the South sea, Lat. about 20° South, and Long. between 130° and 150° West from London, where they are to collect all the natural curiosities of the place, and, after the astronomers have finished their observations on the transit of Venus, they are to proceed under the direction of Mr. Banks, by order of the Lords of the Admiralty, on further discoveries of the great Southern continent, and from thence proceed to England by the Cape of good Hope…. No people ever went to sea better fitted out for the purpose of Natural History, nor more elegantly. They have got a fine library of Natural History; they have all sorts of machines for catching and preserving insects; all kinds of nets, trawls, drags and hooks for coral fishing; they have even a curious contrivance of a telescope, by which, put into the water, you can see the bottom to a great depth, where it is clear. They have many cases of bottles with ground stoppers, of several sizes, to preserve animals in spirits. They have the several sorts of salts to surround the seeds; and wax, both beeswax and that of the Myrica; besides there are many people whose sole business it is to attend them for this very purpose. They have two painters and draughtsmen, several volunteers who have a tolerable notion of Natural History; in short Solander assured me this expedition would cost Mr. Banks ten thousand pounds. All this is owing to you and your writings.
About three days ago I took my leave of Solander, when he assured me he would write to you and to all his family, and acquaint them with the particulars of this expedition. I must observe to you, that his places are secured to him, and he has promises from persons in power of much better preferment on his return.
Everybody here parted from him with reluctance; for no man was ever more beloved, and in so great esteem with the public from his affable and polite behaviour.1
1 J.E.S. I, pp. 230–2.
Saw for the first time [he writes] Miss Harriet Blosset, with Mr Banks, her betrothed. Returned on foot from the opera with them and supped together. The eldest daughter, tall, decided, agreeable, a great musician, splendid voice, fond of society, polished. The second Miss Harriet, desperately in love with Mr Banks, from whom she was to part next day — hitherto a prudent coquette, but now only intent on pleasing her lover, and resolved to spend in the country all the time he is away. The youngest, a Methodist dévote, delighted to pass two or three years in the country with her sister and live out of the world. The mother, a good-natured little woman, talking politics. As Banks cannot speak a word of French, I could not judge of his abilities. He seems to have a prodigious zest for natural history. I supped there with him and Dr Solander, who is also starting with him for Isle St George. They will work on natural history. They have an astronomer for the passage of Venus, a draughtsman, all the instruments, books, and appliances possible; after observing the passage they will endeavour to make discoveries in the Southern Ocean and return by the East Indies. Miss Blosset, not knowing that he was to start next day, was quite gay. Banks drank freely to hide his feelings. He promised to come and see me at Geneva and bring me some curios. We were charmed to have made acquaintance with this family, and I particularly to have seen before his departure a remarkable man.2
1 This was an opera buffa by Nicola Piccini (1728–1800), its text arranged by Goldoni from Richardson's Pamela. It was so popular that it ran in Rome two years without interruption, and in London, says Horace Walpole in 1766, it was ‘crowded every time; the King and Queen scarce ever miss it’.—Letters (ed. Toynbee), VII, p. 77.
2 Douglas W. Freshfield, Life of Horace Benedict de Saussure (London 1920), pp. 105–6. I have tried in vain to discover the origin of the family that de Saussure found so interesting. There appear to have been Blossets about this period both in Dublin and in Middlesex. From what is said later about ‘the country’, a Middlesex home is not unlikely.
3 ibid., pp. 106–7.
1 Presumably ‘Lee's’.
2 Freshfield, p. 108.
3 See p. 396 below.
In any case it seems clear that Banks and his philosophical companions fitted well enough, not only into the narrow physical space provided for them but into the psychological environment. The eighteenth century sailor was used to narrow quarters; the eighteenth century gentleman simply had to knuckle down to them. Banks knew what to expect after his Newfoundland journey, and no doubt Solander had been warned. Solander's status seems to have been that of a guest and co-scholar; it was those two who were referred to in the other journals as ‘the gentlemen’, in distinction from those who were technically ‘the officers’ and ‘the people’ — i.e. these last, the crew. Parkinson, Buchan and Spöring were employees, and having accepted engagement, could nourish no legitimate feelings about physical conditions. The servants were servants, and while on shipboard the indications are that they were mustered into the watches with the crew, and took up what space and hammocks they could. With all Banks's virtues, however — his tolerance and high spirits and sense of adventure — one three years’ voyage on a ship of this type was enough for him; the gentleman and philosopher revolted against narrow quarters, pined after the greater elegance due to six thousand a year, and, as we shall see, made his later desires known with some force. Solander's feelings are unknown to us: we are perhaps not wrong in fancying that he liked the creature comforts, but he was an uncommonly eventempered man, and committed no opinions of any sort, as he committed nothing else, to a journal. He was otherwise employed. Banks later testified to his industry and astuteness. There were differences enough between them, but no heat and no bitterness. At sea they were to develop a sort of regimen: ‘We had a suitable stock of books relating to the natural history of the Indies with us; and seldom was there a storm strong enough to break up our normal study time, which lasted daily from nearly 8 o'clock in the morning till 2 in the afternoon. From 4 or 5, when the cabin had lost the odour of food [dinner was at midday], we sat till dark by the great table with our draughtsman opposite and showed him in what way to make his page 34 drawings, and ourselves made rapid descriptions of all the details of natural history while our specimens were still fresh.’1 Then the descriptions were fair-copied by a ‘writer’ (one supposes Spöring) and the plants were pressed; and so the work went on. Persons so happily employed could have few discontents to visit on their shipmates, and we know that by their shipmates the gentlemen were much liked. The evidence is not so much in the records of this voyage as in later letters. It is very clear that warm personal friendship sprang up between them both and Cook, as well as with such men as Gore the practical third lieutenant2 and Charles Clerke the master's mate, a farmer's son of cheerful eye and amusing talk. The relation with Cook was of course the critical one, and it belongs as much to a study of Cook as to a study of Banks.
1 ‘Ueber Solander’, pp. 245–6; and see also p. 396 below.
2 It may be pointed out here that the rank of Cook, always referred to on the ship as ‘Captain Cook’ or ‘the Captain’, was that of first lieutenant. He was ‘captain’ conventionally, like other persons in charge of a ship. The second lieutenant was Zachary or Zachariah Hicks, the third John Gore. See Cook I, pp. cxxviii ff.
1 I have printed parallel passages from both journals in Cook I, pp. ccv-viii; cf. pp. ccxiii-iv.
It is time to return to our philosopher as, ‘in excellent health and spirits perfectly prepard … to undergo with chearfullness any fatigues or dangers’ he might encounter, he was borne with no great speed southwards upon the Atlantic bosom. In excellent spirits he was; the deep was full of wonder; other men might be irritated at a calm, but he and Solander had ‘easy contented countenances’ as they fished away and referred their catch to the Linnaean pages. They were honeymoon weeks, those early ones; the sailors too began to be interested; and when an African latitude was reached, and leave was taken of Europe, ‘perhaps for ever’, it was possible to spare one sigh but not two, for friends left behind — ‘friends’, it is to be assumed, including both sexes, Miss Harriet Blosset as well as Thomas Pennant. There was the brief stay at Madeira, lighted up by the agreeable Dr Heberden, il Doctore docto, philosophy in a wilderness of ignorance; there were the plants to be collected, the scenery and the people to be observed, the Franciscan monastery to be visited, and the convent where the sisters were so naively and delightfully confident in the visitors’ mastery of the secrets of nature; the governor to be shocked with the electrical machine. (Meanwhile the captain was acquiring wine and fresh water and onions.) Banks was far too busy to write letters home, but Solander got one away to Ellis. Then the routine of the sea again till early November, though a routine part of which was excitement: the glimpse of the Peak of Teneriffe raised above the sea, the ceremony at the crossing of the Line, so vividly described, the birds, the fish, the lunar rainbow, the catching of sharks, the expeditions in the small boat during calms, the sighting at last of the coast of Brazil. Down in the cabin, when activity on deck was impossible, Banks examined his specimens, Solander described, Parkinson drew, grabbing at his paints as the table tilted. Then the harbour of Rio de Janeiro, after eight weeks at sea; and the first blow at cheerfulness.
Cook called at Rio after due thought. He did not, strictly speaking, need to, though his instructions allowed him to do so if he wished, as they allowed him to call at Port Egmont in the Falkland Islands.page break page break page 37
He was well enough provided to make Port Egmont quite easily. But he was a careful man, and thus early he had developed his passion for getting fresh water and fresh food on every possible occasion — the onions at Madeira were another example, which had later to be explained to the accountants — and for seeing that they were consumed in place of stale water and salt meat. Also he wanted to heel his ship and look at the sides. The Portuguese had been spoken of very highly as hosts by Lord Anson, after his experience at St Catherine's island, and Commodore Byron (whose journal Cook had with him) had met with an excellent reception at Rio itself. The reception given by a new viceroy to the Endeavour was the reverse of excellent. The reasons that he made explicit seemed to Cook totally inadequate. They may be summarized as his orders from the Portuguese court for dealing with foreign vessels in general, his difficulty in believing that the Endeavour belonged to His Britannic Majesty's navy (she certainly did not look as if she did), and his suspicion that her real errand was not the observation of the Transit of Venus — a matter which he did not understand — but smuggling. There may have been complications in Portuguese foreign policy that he was not at liberty to explain. Nothing Cook could say or do could alter the determination of the Conde de Azambuja to take no risks. Cook said a good deal, and he adopted a high tone, and his paper war with the viceroy is one of the curiosities of the voyage;1 whether a lower tone would have made any difference is a matter for conjecture, but it does not seem probable. It is certain that in the production of the ‘memorials’ with which he bombarded the viceroy Banks took some part. Among the MSS in the Commonwealth National Library are four draft folio pages, written in a rapid indignant hand, the paragraphs much deleted, smudged and altered: it is the hand of Banks, and the draft is that of Cook's communication of 19 November 1768. Possibly this indicates that Banks did a good deal of drafting for Cook, for the papers are much of a style, and the crisis was not the sort of thing that Cook had dealt with before. An English gentleman, however, esteemed himself the equal of any viceroy, and this was a very furious English gentleman indeed. It is true nevertheless he managed to make his own memorials scrupulously polite.2 Banks's fury can be well understood, for his predicament seemed both ridiculous and gratuitous. He wanted to get ashore. The remarks of his journal are adequately condensed in his letter of 1 December to the Earl of Morton:
1 See Cook I, Appendix I, pp. 481 ff.
2 See below, II, pp. 315–20.
Your lordship Can more easily imagine our Situation than I can describe it all that we so ardently wishd to examine was in our sight we could almost but not quite touch them never before had I an adequate Idea of Tantalus's punishment but I have sufferd it with all possible aggravations three weeks have I staid aboard the ship regardless of every inconvenience of her being heeld down &c &c. which on any other occasion would have been no Small hardship but small evils are totaly swallowd up in the Larger bodily pain bears no comparison to pure in short the torments of the Damnd must be very severe indeed as doubtless my present ones Cannot nearly Equal them.1
Solander was more moderate, writing to Ellis: at Madeira, he recalled, they had met with a very good reception, ‘which is more than I can say of this place, where the viceroy has been so infernally cross and ill-natured, as to forbid us to set our feet upon dry land. How mortifying that must be to me and Mr. Banks, you best can feel…. We have, nevertheless, by fair means and foul, got about 300 species of plants, among them several new, and an infinite number of new fish…’2 By fair means and foul — though nothing very foul; outraged Science had to do its best through what it could pick up casually, or through innocent bribery, or by surreptitious and unhappily confined visits, while a continent stretched before it. South America, indeed, was inimical to natural historians: they went to the Dutch possessions and died there of tropical fevers, or the state of international politics turned them, in the administrative mind, into spies. Banks took what private revenge he could, in his journal; the Portuguese in Madeira might be ignorant, but here they were slaves, their rulers were not merely stupid and prejudiced but tyrannical. Considering his virtual imprisonment on board the ship, the account he gives of Rio de Janeiro is surprisingly full; but no doubt we owe a great deal, if not to his observation, to the information of Mr Burrish, the Englishman who served in the customs, of Lieutenant Forster, the other Englishman, of the Portuguese Estermoz regiment, who suffered badly in fortune for befriending his compatriots,3 and of the Spanish naval officers, whose liberties were so much greater than those of the English, and who proved so conversable.
1 See Appendix, II, pp. 313–5 below.
2 For the full text of this letter, see II, pp. 308–10 below.
3 See Lieutenant Forster's letter to Banks, 5 November 1771, II, pp. 321–3 below.
1 Cook I, p. 44.
1 So, at least, I gather from a letter from Charles Davy, of Hensted, Suffolk, 5 June 1773 (D.T.C. I, p. 54): ‘If it is not giving you too much trouble, I should be much obliged to you for an exact copy of the characters stain'd upon your arm…’ Davy was the author of an essay on alphabetic writing, and was much interested to know whether the ‘characters’ represented amulets, things, or sounds. But it is odd that Banks does not mention this personal experience in his journal, if it did indeed take place.
2 Considering this episode (see p. 279 below), the later intimate linking of Banks's name with that of Purea (p. 101) has its light irony.
There were the Society Islands to visit, and then a new voyage south, with prodigious quantities of sea-birds, and whales, and porpoises — but no Southern Continent — before Cook set his course for what he knew must exist, the eastern coast of New Zealand, up the western side of which Tasman had sailed in December 1642 and January 1643. Tasman had sprung to the conclusion that this must indeed be the coast of a continent, which stretched away eastward somehow to join with ‘Staten Land’ — i.e. Staten Island, on the eastern side of Le Maire Strait. The latter part of this assumption had been shattered by the Dutch in the same year 1643, by the simple process of sailing round Staten Island, and now Cook was to shatter the first part also, by sailing right round New Zealand, in a sort of toùr de force of navigation and survey which left very little to the fancy of speculative geographers. Banks had accepted the speculations — had, it appears, like most other people, taken a southern continent for granted — and he hung on to his belief that New Zealand must be a part of it with a comic persistence which he annotates very well himself, until the ship turned the southern point ‘to the total demolition of our aerial fabrick calld continent’. He was not, that is, as experimental, as sceptical, in his geographical approach as was Cook. His general reasonings on the subject, entered in his journal after the decision was taken to make for the east coast of ‘New Holland’ (and added to, as we can see, from the later references to the facilities at the Cape), show clear traces of discussion with Cook and the others in the great cabin of the Endeavour: here, we may be pretty certain, the plan for another and conclusive voyage page 43 is a Cook and not a Banks plan. Cook, in his own journal, made it plain that he was guided by experience and would wait on fresh experience. Banks is rather more sentimental. To stand to the west-ward for New Holland might mean discoveries interesting to trade, but it would mean the abandonment of
our first great object, the Southern Continent: this for my own part I confess I could not do without much regret. — That a Southern Continent really exists, I firmly beleive; but if ask'd why I beleive so, I confess my reasons are weak; yet I have a preposession in favour of the fact which I find it dificult to account for…. it must be prodigiously smaller in extent than the theoretical continent makers have supposd it to be…. we have taken from them their firmest Ground work, in Proving New Zealand to be an Island, which I beleive was lookd upon even by the most thinking people, to be in all probability at least a part of some Vast Countrey…. As for their reasoning about the Balancing of the two poles, which always appeard to me to be a most childish argument, we have already shorn off so much of their supposd counterbalancing land that by their own account the South pole would already be too light, unless what we have left should be made of very ponderous materials. As much fault as I find with these gentlemen will however probably recoil on myself, when I on so slight grounds as those I have mentiond again declare it to be my opinion that a Southern Continent exists, an opinion in favour of which I am strongly preposesd; but foolish and weak as all prepossesions must be thought I would not but declare myself so, least I might be supposd to have stronger reasons which I conceald.1
Perhaps we may regard this as in fact highly judicious; for there was, surely enough, a southern continent — though what we know as Antarctica, all that remained after a great deal more had been shorn off than was the result of the Endeavour's operations, proved to be violently different from the construction of the theoretical continent makers.
1 II, pp. 38–40 below.
1 See, e.g. Historical Records of New Zealand, II (Wellington 1914), pp. 230 ff.
2 See Cook I, clii-iii.
There was indeed a passage, and with the ship safely through it the exploratory part of the voyage may be said to have ended, whatever Cook found out about the sandbanks of New Guinea. It may be said to have ended, if we need a precise date, on 23 August 1770, when he and Banks came away from Booby Island, where now is the lighthouse marking the western entrance to the strait — the island on which Banks, instead of shooting boobies, ‘botanizd and found some plants which I had not before seen’. But his explorations were not at an end. The ‘people’ were becoming bored with the voyage. They were not starved, they were well looked after, their health, at the end of two years out from home, was excellent; not one man had died of sickness — an astonishing feat for any captain. What they wanted, however, was not the consolation of good health or reflections on the excellence of their commander's administration, but a known port, the sight of European faces, and a great deal of fresh food of the kind that was recognized by Europeans as food. After that they wanted a conventional voyage across known seas homeward. They were suffering, Banks concluded, from ‘nostalgia’ — a word the doctors were beginning to use. Not so himself and the captain: their minds were busily occupied as usual. Banks's mind was to be busily occupied to the very end. He could not find anything new, strictly speaking, in plants at Savu, or Batavia, or the Cape; was not everything East Indian in Rumphius, known from the great folios in Europe? Had not Linnaeus a generation earlier got the very Musa, the banana, noblest of plants, to flower and fruit in the page 46 glass-house of Georg Clifford, East India Company director, at Hartecamp near Leyden ? But he could find plenty of plants and fruit new to him that were a joy to identify and describe; and there was still man in his infinite variety of appearance and behaviour and mentality to enquire into. What happened when one raja succeeded another in Savu, how the Dutch collected tribute, the domestic architecture, markets, sanitation, economics, government and currency of Batavia, Javanese folk-lore, the position of the Chinese under Dutch rule, specimens of language, the aspect of Cape Town, Hottentot physiology, South African settlement and animals, the charms of South African young women, Bougainville's voyage — all, whether observed or enquired into in conversation, were assiduously noted down and recorded. And there was still St Helena. Banks was omnivorous. There were excellent precedents. Had not Linnaeus, the Master, been omnivorous in exactly the same way on his famous Lapland journey ? Was not the highest peak of public interest always reached at his appearance in Lapland suit, with drum ? And was not Batavia as much unknown to the English as Lapland, or the South Seas? It seemed well worth an editor's while, when the official volumes on the voyage were in preparation, to give as many pages to that town and its people, drawn from Banks, as to the general account of New Zealand.
Meanwhile, of course, the most dreadful part of the whole great three years’ voyage had come to pass, the onset of malaria, and fearfully worse, dysentery, at Batavia and on the passage between Prince's Island and the Cape. The achievement had been masterly; the luck, after coming off the reef with a paper-thin bottom and a hole plugged with coral, stupendous: and there is something cruelly gratuitous in the fatal sickness that then struck practically the entire ship's company, and that neither Cook, nor Banks, nor anyone else could avert by whatever thought beforehand, or action in its presence. The Batavian sailors, noted Banks, ‘were almost as spectres’; so that the Endeavour's people, ‘who truly might be calld rosy and plump’ — after all those months! — ‘Jeerd and flouted much at their brother sea men's white faces’. It was too soon to jeer and flout. Too many men were to die; and Banks's own physical agonies were of a sort he had not taken into account when writing so glibly from Rio to Morton of the comparison between the pains of the body and of the mind. Of Banks's own people Solander narrowly escaped with his life, to gossip as cheerily as ever to a sympathetic and wondering London; but poor Tupaia (if we may make him belong to Banks, like a lion or tiger) and his page 47 servant-boy died; Parkinson died; Spöring died. Their virtues deserved a better fate; they were both men to whom the historian of the voyage owes much. By the time the ship left the Cape, where three more men died (a fourth, Molyneux the master, succumbed shortly after she sailed), the sickness was virtually over; Lieutenant Hicks died on the passage home, but he had begun the voyage with consumption, and was a doomed man. Nothing further happened to Banks. The ship’ picked up the East India fleet at St Helena and sailed with it for a while, until outpaced; she sighted England on 10 July 1771, and two days later the adventurer closed his journal and landed at Deal.
The question arises for general consideration, as he steps on shore, how really good is this journal? Various portions of it have been praised in the foregoing pages, but can one summarize simply, by rendering additional praise, and leaving it at that? Or must one make modifications? Does Banks give us an adequate account of the voyage ? Is he invariably accurate ? In particular — though we have called him a good observer — was he a really good observer?
1 So I infer from Hawkesworth's words: ‘I am happy in your Lordship's powerfull Influence with Mr Banks for the use of his Journall. I flatter myself that I shall be able to prevent ill humour, and satisfy the utmost Delicacy of a Gentleman to whom I shall be so much obliged’.—Hawkesworth to Sandwich, 19 November 1771; Sandwich Papers, Hinchingbrooke.
1 Hawkesworth, I, pp. xiii-xv.
2 ‘But in the papers which were communicated to me by Mr. Banks, I found a great variety of incidents which had not come under the notice of Captain Cook, with descriptions of countries and people, their productions, manners, customs, religion, policy, and language, much more full and particular than were expected from a Gentleman whose station and office naturally turned his principal attention to other objects; for these particulars, therefore, besides many practical observations, the Public is indebted to Mr. Banks. To Mr. Banks also the Public is indebted for the designs of the engravings which illustrate and adorn the account of this voyage….’—Hawkesworth. II, p. xiv.
1 Cook II, p.662. Cf. Cook I, pp. ccxlv-lvii. See also II, p.267, n. below.
1 ‘… built of very thin planks sewd together’.—See II, p. 22 below.
2 It had been irregular before, at Batavia, but certainly no blame attaches for that, or for the absence of any specific entry at all between 14 and 24 November 1770.
The muse, O BANKS, with great respect attends,
To hail thee welcome to desponding friends,
Who long with pungent sorrows were assail'd,
Whilst thoughts uncertain of thy life prevail'd: …
1 S.S.B. to Pennant, 6 October 1770; ATL, ALS 269.
2 It was a Quaker muse. The lines quoted are from an effusion by Mrs Jane Gomeldon, the cousin of Sydney Parkinson; they were written on receiving a letter from Sydney at Batavia, which announced the expedition's safety, and are prefixed to some copies o Parkinson's Journal. See Cook I, p. 627.
3 Letters and Journals of Lady Mary Coke, III (Edinburgh 1892), p. 44.3
1 For these quotations in their contexts see Cook I, pp. 642 ff., except that on the ‘coronet of gold’, which I take from the Annual Register, 1771, Chronicle p. 150, for 23 September.
2 Gent. Mag., XLI (1771), p. 567.
3 Letters and Journals, III, p. 435.
4 One person who got no satisfaction from the conversation, though we do not know when it took place (perhaps it was on Banks's passage through Scotland late in 1772), was Lord Monboddo. ‘We travelled towards Aberdeen, another University, and in the way dined at Lord Monbodo's, the Scotch Judge who has lately written a strange book about the origin of Language, in which he traces Monkeys up to Men, and says that in some countries the human species have tails like other beasts. He enquired for these longtailed Men of Banks, and was not well pleased, that they had not been found in all his peregrination’.—Johnson to Mrs Thrale, 25 August 1773, Letters (ed. R. W. Chapman, Oxford 1952), I, p. 321.
5 Johnson to Banks, 27 February 1772, Letters, I, p. 272. Boswell himself did not run down the gentlemen till later, as we learn from his London Journal, 22 March 1772. On that date he visited Sir John Pringle, the President of the Royal Society. ‘He had with him Lord Lyttelton and several more Gentlemen, in particular the famous Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, whom I had a great curiosity to see. Mr. Banks was a genteel young man, very black [i.e. dark], and of an agreable countenance, easy and communicative, without any affectation or appearance of assuming. Dr. Solander, though a Swede, spoke english with more fluency and propriety than most natives.’—Private Papers of James Boswell, 9 (New Haven 1930), p. 28. Much (in fact years) later, Johnson remarked to Mrs Thrale, ‘You may remember, I thought Banks had not gained much by circumnavigating the world’; but what precisely he meant by this, or when he first said it, or how he could judge, we do not know. He wrote on 16 October 1780, Letters, II, p. 406
6 They were both created D.C.L. on 21 November 1771.—Foster, Alumni Oxonienses, I (London 1887), p. 57. This was the only academic degree Banks ever attained.
Sandwich, who had become First Lord of the Admiralty, at Hin-chingbrooke. When the Royal Society measured the height of St Paul's, in its researches into atmospheric weight at different elevations, the names of Dr Solander and Mr Banks were particularly noticed.1
Of course Ellis wrote to Linnaeus very early, indeed first on 10 May the day after the newspapers heard from the India House the definite news of the ship's arrival at Batavia; the learned and curious in England felt universal joy. Solander would be introduced to the Royal Family as soon as he was returned, and then probably his merits would be rewarded. The travellers did return; they were ‘laden with spoils, particularly of the vegetable world, some few rare ones of the animal kingdom; but I do not hear much of the mineral kingdom…. Dr. Solander has been very ill, but is now very well…. They have sufficient for one thousand folio plates…. They are so very busy getting their things on shore, and seeing their friends, after an absence of three years, that they have scarce time to tell us of any thing but the many narrow escapes they have had from imminent danger. … Be so good to inform Dr. Solander's friends of the success he has had in returning safe after so many perils, laden with the greatest treasure of Natural History that ever was brought into any country at one time by two persons. … I hope Dr. Solander will write to you soon himself; I shall beg of him not to defer it’.2 Solander did defer it. The old man, feverish with excitement at the prospect of seeing new plants from Banksia, or Terra australis’,3 wrote at once both to Banks and to Solander; to the ‘immortal Banks’, the glory of England and the whole world, to whom botanists should raise a statue more enduring than the Pyramids;4 but, said Ellis, ‘they have been so hurried with company that they have very little time’ to write back.5 The hurry of company was quite enough also to keep them from sending the Master specimens of their discoveries, and when he read in the English newspapers of an intended new voyage, he was almost sleepless with worry.6
1 Annual Register, 1771, Chronicle, p. 154, for 12 November.
2 Ellis to Linnaeus, 10 May, 16 July 1771; J.E.S. I, pp. 259–60, 263–4.
3 The phrase is in a later letter from Linnaeus to Ellis, 20 December 1771; ibid., p. 123.
4 8 August 1771; B. M. Add. MS 8094.33. The letter is in Latin.
5 Ellis to Linnaeus, 19 November 1771; J.E.S.I, pp. 271–2.
6 Linnaeus to Ellis, 22 October 1771; ibid., I, p. 267. See p. 70–1 below.
1 Letters and Journals, III, p, 437.
2 Both in ATL, ALS 269. They appear to have come to the library with other fragments of Pennant's papers, some already quoted. The second is merely the portion of a letter, with no date or address, but in the same writing as the first, to which it almost certainly refers.
(i)Carnarvon Augt 24 1771
The account I have receivd of Mr Banks's infidelity is the following & I believe you may depend upon every circumstance of it.
Upon his arrival in England he took no sort of notice of Miss Blosset for the first week or nearly so at the same time that he went about London & visited other friends & acquaintance.
On this Miss Blosset set out for London & wrote him a letter desiring an interview of explanation.
To this Mr Bankes answer'd by a letter of 2 or 3 sheets professing love &c but that he found he was of too volatile a temper to marry.
The answer as you may suppose rather astonished & some how or other after this there was an interview when Miss Bl: swoon'd &c & Mr Bankes was so affected that Marriage was again concluded upon. Notwithstanding this however a short time afterwards he writes a second letter to the same purport with the former, & leaves poor Miss Bl: in the most distressing as well as ridiculous situation imaginable.
Mr Bankes's behaviour seems therefore to me to be totally without excuse as he admits he gave Miss Bl: the strongest reason to expect he would return her husband.
Supposing him however to have discovere'd in a three year voyage (during which by the way he would scarcely have seen any other woman) that he should not prove a good husband.
Should he not have immediately dispatch'd a Messenger on his landing with the best reasons he could muster for declining what he had so thoroughly settled? Should he not also have immediately plac'd in the Stocks & in Miss Blossets name a most noble satisfaction (as far as money could repair it) for this injury. And when he had done both these things could the satisfaction be otherwise than highly inadequate?
To prove however beyond a doubt how very shamefull his behaviour hath been to this poor girl Mrs Bankes his mother who always disapprov'd of the match blames him as much as anyone.
The Blossets also as you may imagine resent the injury to such a degree that upon some ones intimating that Mr Banks could not do otherwise than make a most large pecuniary satisfaction they declare that the offer of his whole estate would be consider'd as the highest insult & that the only consolation they can ever receive is that Miss Blosset will not now become the wife of a man who hath behav'd so infamously.
I find this account runs to such a length that I must deferr my Welsh Anecdotes to the next place — Dolgelly.
D:B:P: S: The Blossets complain of Solander as I am told but I have not heard any particulars of what they lay to his charge.
I have receiv'd at this place a most particular account from a Lady of what hath pass'd between Mr Banks & Miss Blosset who strongly confirms that the former made the most explicit declaration.
What think you of the following facts?
Mr Banks had an interview with her in London which lasted from ten O'clock at Night to ten the next Morning during which he said he was ready to marry her immediately.
Miss Blosset however would not catch at this proposal but told him if he was of the same mind a fortnight hence, she would gladly attend him to church Three or four days after which he wrote her a letter desiring to be off.
Mr Tunstall writes me word that Mr Banks and Dr Solander mean to fall plump from the Cape of Good Hope upon 70 Degs of Southern Latitude
D:B:P.S. Mr Banks in this conversation said he had acted by the advice of a friend & hence the Blossets blame Solander as I before inform'd you.1
Whether Solander's common sense made him urge Banks to get out of the false situation at any cost to his dignity, or whether Banks's imagination conjured up the advice of a friend’ to help him out, we do not know. Solander himself was a confirmed bachelor, and knowing Banks by this time pretty well, he may have judged that the young man was no husband for Miss Blosset. There, it seems, the afflicting matter must be left.
Miss Blosset was not the only embarrassment that afflicted the returned traveller in the midst of his glory. There was also Stanfield Parkinson. From the difficulties hereby created we see Banks emerge with more credit. These difficulties lasted some months, and involved a number of people, but it is convenient to deal with the whole rather tangled story here. After the death of the unfortunate Joel Parkinson, brewer, of Edinburgh, it appears that not only Sydney but his mother, Elizabeth, his elder brother Stanfield, and his sister Britannia, had migrated to London. Sydney, accomplished and amiable, had been engaged by Banks as his botanical draughtsman for the voyage at a salary of £80 a year. On his departure from England he left his will with his sister Britannia.
1 The other side of the page on which the foregoing is written has for some reason been crossed through, but contains, inter alia, the following remarks which probably refer to Bougainville's account of his voyage, published in 1771: ‘I do not conceive that Bougainville or Commercons observations will be as accurate as Solanders, however I think you must allow that the Voyage is very entertaining & interesting. I wish the French would learn of the Northern Naturalists to describe & that the Swedes would learn of them to think’.
He had worked exceedingly hard at his drawings,1 and in what spare time he could make had not only collected shells and other curiosities but had put down many notes and drafts for a journal, a fair copy of which was generally thought to have been written by him; what he wrote as well as what he drew was in any case highly admired by his shipmates. He died on 26 January 1771. Before he died, he asked Solander to see that his friend James Lee the nurseryman had the perusal of his papers; and he seems to have given Banks a copy of his will. Banks handed this copy to the executors, Elizabeth the mother, and Stanfield, who found it contained no alterations; and as Elizabeth withdrew from all administration in favour of her son, Stanfield entered upon the execution of the will. There are three factors on the Banks side to be noted at this moment: Banks was in all the hurry of company, his mind fully engaged with his own concerns, which included the distraction and confusion of his relations with Miss Blosset; he was a gentleman, who did not like his word to be doubted; he intended well by the Parkinsons. On the Parkinson side, it must be noted that Stanfield, though carrying on trade as an upholsterer, was an illiterate man, and though a Quaker, highly suspicious. It is possible also that he was already affected by the mental instability which increased until, not long afterwards, he died insane; but whether or not that is true, his suspicions were raised enormously by Banks's dilatoriness. Banks, undoubtedly, should have acted much more promptly than he did. In London, it may be surmised, he was a less tactful man than Banks in Tahiti; the matter was for him a quite subordinate one, and Stanfield, after the first contacts, merely an impertinent tradesman; with Stanfield, on the other hand, suspicion became an obsession. There were not wanting other people, admirers of Sydney among the ship's company, and friends of his own, to build up an entirely false picture of the literary and other remains of poor Sydney, and of his own rights.
When the ship arrived in England, Banks wrote to Stanfield, who immediately called on him, to receive an assurance of Banks's interest, and his intention of rendering an account of all Sydney's belongings. Banks also immediately gave him work, and continued to do so throughout the misunderstandings that now followed.2
1 Cf. Banks's entry for 12 May 1770, II, p. 62 below: ‘In 14 days just, one draughtsman has made 94. sketch drawings, so quick a hand has he acquird by use’. This could be no one but Sydney.
2 Stanfield's receipts, preserved in the ‘Voluntiers’ volume cited below, p. 68, n. 2, are for goods supplied or work done for Banks, sometimes at New Burlington Street, from 20 July 1771 to 24 February 1772, a total of £89 8s 6d.
1 John Fothergill M.D., F.R.S. (1712–80), was eminent also as a botanist. He had a fine botanical garden at Upton, near Stratford, and, like Banks later, employed a number of draughtsmen. Banks greatly admired his collections. His Works were published by John Coakley Lettsom his pupil and successor in medical practice, in 1783–4. Benjamin Franklin's judgment was, ‘I can hardly conceive that a better man has ever existed’.
2 At least, Fothergill himself says (Parkinson's Journal, ‘Explanatory Remarks’, p. 3), ‘I wrote to J. Banks, to whom I was then personally a stranger’. But then how do we account for the present of ‘the North American apples which Dr Fothergill gave me’, made into a pie on 23 September 1769 (p. 393 below)? Perhaps they came through an intermediary.
On leaving England, I agreed to give eighty pounds a year to S. Parkinson, besides his living of all kinds, as my draughtsman, to make drawings for me: of this agreement, £151. 8s. id is now due to his executors, besides some small sum for such cloths, &c. of his, as I could dispose of, or make use of in the ship, which I chose rather to do, than bring them home liable to be damaged, as those which came home were in some degree.
Curiosities of all kinds I gave up to them, and such of his papers as I had, excepting only some loose sheets of a journal, which seemed to be only foul copies of a fair journal that I never found, and which is now the chief object of their enquiry; these foul papers, as all the journal I had, was to be given to Mr. Lee, for his reading, by S. Parkinson's own desire, expressed to Dr. Solander just before he died: the curiosities I offered to purchase at the time I delivered them, at such price as the executors should put upon them, but was refused.
Now as S. Parkinson certainly behaved to me, during the whole of his long voyage, uncommonly well, and with unbounded industry made for me a much larger number of drawings than I ever expected, I always did and still do intend to shew to his relations the same gratitude for his good services as I should have done to himself; the execution of this my intention was only delayed by the fear of being involved in a vexatious law-suit after all.
Now you, sir, in conversation with Dr. Solander, have been so good as to suggest a mode of pleasing all parties, which I confess I very much approve of; the only thing that now remains is, that, as a friend to both, you think of a certain sum to be paid by me to them, as an acknowledgement of S, Parkinson's good services, taking or not the cuiosities, &c. just as may seem to you most proper: in this, if you are good enough to undertake it, I beg leave to hint, that I do not at all mean to be sparing in my acknowledgment; but to err rather on the other side, that any one who may hear the transaction may rather say I have been generous than otherwise.1
The worthy Fothergill therefore took into consideration the whole circumstances, and thought of £500. ‘J. Banks’, he says, ‘Very readily fell in with the proposal, and settled at the same time a pension upon a black woman, the wife of a faithful black servant who went out with him, and perished by the cold of Terra del Fuego’. The Parkinsons also agreed; Stanfield and Britannia met Banks (it was now the end of January 1772), and, with Fothergill as witness, signed a receipt.
1 Parkinson's Journal, ‘Explanatory Remarks’, pp. 4–5
1 This was the Journal of a Voyage round the World published by T. Becket and P. A. de Hondt, London 1771; see Cook I, pp. cclvi ff; Holmes, Captain Cook: A Bibliographical Excursion (London 1952), pp. 20–1. Cf. a letter from Banks's naval friend Captain Bentinck of the Centaur, Spithead, 10 October 1771: ‘As to Mr Becket, and his Catch-penny, the subject is so interesting that there is no putting the book down, at the same time that the inaccuracy with which it is wrote makes it most tiresome and indeed the most provoking reading I ever met with’.—D.T.C. I, p. 27, There is further reference, not highly accurate, to the subject by Mrs Delany, writing to Mrs Port of IIam, 19 November 1771: ‘I believe I wrote you word that the book published of George's Land (or Otahitee) was not by Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander's direction, but they are preparing an account of their voyage; but the Natural History will be a work by itself, entirely at the expense of Mr. Banks, for which he has laid by ten thousand pound. He has already the drawings of everything (birds, beasts, plants, and views) that were remarkable; the work to be set in order, that is, the history written, by Mr. Hawkesworth, under the inspection of Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander; it will hardly come out in my time, as it will consist of at least fourteen volumes in folio. As this was private talk, perhaps it should not be mentioned in general’.—Autobiography and Correspondence of… Mrs Delany (2nd series, 1862), I, pp. 371–2.
1 Louis Léon Félicité Lauraguais, Comte de Lauraguais and later Due de Brancas (1733–1824), was interested in letters and science, a member of the Académic des Sciences, a liberal in politics and social life, a supporter of inoculation, and a wit whose life was said to combine ‘bons mots et bonnes actions’. He had been prepared to print together Banks's letter to him and a letter of his own to D'Alembert enlarging on the subject. He argued that all the facts were already public property, and that he little deserved reproaches; but he had had some difficulties, ‘For the Printer (whom I do not know) is so eager to sell them that he does little care for correction’, as he naively told Banks in a letter headed Brompton 17th [February?] 1772.—D.T.C. I, p. 31.
2 Parkinson's Journal, ‘Explanatory Remarks’, p. 16.
3 Stanfield Parkinson's affairs, as well as his mind, were disordered; his wife died shortly before he became quite insane, and the Friends undertook the maintenance of his children. Fothergill, their friend as he had been their father's and grandfather's, bought up the unsold remainder of Sydney's Journal, about four hundred copies. This was reissued in 1784, with eighteen pages of ‘Explanatory Remarks’ by Fothergill on Kenrick's preface. The foregoing account is founded on these remarks and on what seems credible in the preface. No fair copy of Sydney's journal was ever found.
1 The artist is unknown. The picture is reproduced in Cameron, pl.1.
2 This is not, it may be said, a characteristic that has struck previous critics, who have been writing about Reynolds and not Banks. The portrait is certainly one of Reynolds's best, and has called forth great enthusiasm from the artist's [biographers. ‘Sir Joshua's portrait of Banks, painted at this time, is an excellent illustration of the importance of intelligent and intimate relations between painter and sitter. The painter has thoroughly understood his subject…. The burning eyes are focussed by the will that knits the brow, and gives their tension to the hands…. The energy of the man seems to be lifting him out of the seat by an irrepressible force. The globe at his side, the wide stretch of sea visible from the window, are significant of voyages past and to come. No painter could have so expressed the “hungry heart” of a man smitten with the passion of exploring and inquiring, unless he had felt a deep and intelligent sympathy with his sitter.’—C. R. Leslie and Tom Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds (London 1865), I, pp. 428–9. This seems to the present writer somewhat overdone.
The two portraits, so dissimilar, thus unite in giving us a Banks who is not quite all gallant adventurer, not quite all modesty, not quite necessarily all generous charm. We have presented, in fact, the wherewithal of a less admirable Banks, a Banks who in conceivable circumstances might be a very great fool. The difficulty with Miss Blosset may have been inevitable. The trouble with Stanfield Parkinson could very likely have been avoided, if Banks had acted sooner, and kept his temper even if he had to give away a little dignity; but once the trouble had come to a head he acted like a man of honour and reputation. In the matter that now arose he acted not like a man of honour but like a man of consequence, and of consequence that had gone to his brain. ‘Joseph Banks Esquire, a Gentleman possessed of considerable landed property in Lincolnshire’, had ceased to be a simple gentleman; Joseph Banks the student of natural history, who would have knelt before page 64 the chair of Linnaeus as at a throne, had, almost, enthroned himself; Joseph Banks, whose three years’ voyaging should, one would have thought, have given him an enlarged appreciation of other men and of their rôle in the scheme of things, had lost all sense of proportion where he and other men were concerned. Joseph Banks — the conclusion is ineluctable — had a swelled head. It showed itself with disastrous amplitude during the preparations which began, towards the end of 1771, for another adventure into the unknown. We may return to Sir Joshua's picture. The sheaf of papers surmounted by our young man's energetic hand is surmounted by something else, calculated to convey the right ardency of enthusiasm: it is the Horatian tag, Cras ingens iterabimus aequor — ‘Tomorrow we set out once more upon the boundless main’. Mr Banks had no doubt of his destiny.
1 Banks to Lauraguais, December 1771. ML MSS.
But the greater number of correspondents were those who — to put it briefly — wanted to go too. More at length, William Cawthorne suggests that the ‘national and general Advantage’ of the voyage would be more fully served ‘by including in your Suite a person appointed by the Board of Trade under the Character of Commercial Intelligencer, whose province should be (leaving you to pursue your philosophical Disquisitions) to consider and digest the Errors and Deficiencies in the System of Commerce now subsisting between this Country and the various places and Nations you will necessarily visit…. To Gentlemen of your exalted understandings, the Wisdom and Utility of this appointment will instantly appear’ — an appointment for which, granting the remarkable page 66 abilities required, Mr Gawthorne modestly offers himself. ‘A person of a liberal Education (a Surgeon by Profession)’ wants to travel for a few years. ‘I Understand the Theorical as well as the Practical Part of Most Mathematical Learning Particularly Navigation’, writes William Cooke, whose letter was neglected; and again, ‘I Longed for An Answer But Never had the Hapiness to Get one…. I have a Very Ernest Desire to Go Along with You in Your most Honourable Employment in Circulating the Teraquous Globe (if I may be Allowed the Express'on of A Geographer) I flatter my Self that you will not Doney My Imperause Desire….’ ‘I am a young Man of about 22; have had a liberal Education and, if I am not flattered by my Friends, have a tolerable Genius’: thus Thomas Davies, in the service of Lord Weymouth. Mr Davies kept accounts, could survey land, was remarkably fond of botany, and ‘P.S. Could I not supply the place of one of your Domestics? I care not how Servile the Station if I could be near you; tho’ I shall purchase it, at the Expence of a good Place’. A turkey and a chine followed, to compensate Mr Banks for the trouble caused him. Stephen Elgin, from the East Riding, fond of botany, now in London in a shop, is ‘a young person Who hath for a long time had the greatest Noetion of going Abrod’. James Farquharson, a watch and clock maker, is similarly situated. John Davidson, a house carpenter and joiner, ‘through Variegated and unforseen misfortunes Should now be glad to embrace the oppertunity of Satisfying (what I believe is an innate desire) of Seeing the Wonders of Nature and providence’. ‘In the utmost Anxiety of Hope I have presumed to address you, Sir’, says J. Fletcher, ‘I ask no Recompence but the Permission to serve you’ in ever so humble a capacity — ‘I would even assist in navigating the ship…. Even a recommendation to Capt. Cooke, if I cannot go with you, would be a Favour’. ‘Curiosity is natural to the Soul of Man’ announces Mr Hatherley of Bideford, though he asks Dr Solander and Mr Banks not to inform his connections in London of his ambition, as if it were unsuccessful it might affect his prospects in the law. John Hyacinth de Magalhaens — a serious scientific name at last — of distinguished historical connection and some skill with scientific instruments, wants, if possible, to ‘preform as much in the Service of England, as the brother of my fifth grandfather did in ye Service of Spain’. Joseph Scothern and William Wortley, joint applicants, understand navigation, can play a large variety of musical instruments, and are prepared to learn themselves the French horn. Matthew Rouviere, an usher, ‘being informd by a Gentleman that you want several page 67 Young Men skilld in Arts and Sciences’, provides ten lines ot accomplishments, from languages to fortification. William Pearce can spell with justice and accuracy. John Frazier has great usefulness in going under water. One Prescott, who is ‘extreamly anxious of seeing more of the World, than has hitherto fallen to my lot’, adds with unusual reserve, ‘Perhaps it may be pertinent to remark, that I am no Seaman’. Signor Pilati is suspected by the Pope and clergy of having written certain books: he did write them; and as he understands and speaks Portuguese, and admires a grandeur of soul such as Mr Banks's, offers his services. Fathers write on behalf of sons, the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford on behalf of a young graduate who has ‘a very curious Turn’. Mr John Smith, an unsuccessful wholesale hosier of the Isle of Wight, understands Dr Solander to be the principal manager in an enterprise to settle the Falkland Islands; if Dr Solander will take Mr Smith, his wife, three small children, and sister, ‘in all probability you will save a sinking Family from ruin’. With a great excess of optimism Mr Smith informs Dr Solander that an immediate answer will be esteemed, and is under the consequent necessity of writing two further letters before he gives up. Dr Solander and Mr Banks have indeed a great responsibility upon them: for Edward Williams, a youth well brought up, of a liberal education, ‘if not soon protected by some kind hand, ruin must ensue, and even non existance follow….’
It is curious that not merely do such persons ‘have the notion of going abroad’, and ‘pant’ to go with Banks, but even seamen in the royal navy apply to him as a patron. Edward Turrell of the Barfleur, on ‘January ye 8’ pens a cry from the heart:
sir I shall be very Glad if your honnour Will be Pleasd to grant me this small Request and I hope your honnour will Exques me for making so bold as to wri[t]e to your Honnor but that I hear your honnour and mr sillander is a going out upon Descovers and shold be very glad of having the Pleasure of going with your honnour for I am on Board of the Barfleur. I was a going out In the Endeavour But was taken sick and was sent on shore to the hospitall But thank the almighty god I heave got the Better of my Eleness sir I shall Take it as great favour and shall be Bound to Pray for your honnour all the Days of my life so No More at Present from your humble servent to Command.
William Packover had been an A.B. on the Endeavour: ‘I ham now Emboldend to solicit Your Goodness to have me appointed Supernumery Midshipman in one of the Ships newly Commissioned for the South Seas’. Henry Walker, who had been in the Niger page 68 on the Newfoundland voyage, is now a midshipman, and wants to sail with Banks as a junior lieutenant. Most curious of all perhaps, in some ways, is the long letter from George Robertson, who had been the master of the Dolphin under Wallis, on the voyage that discovered Tahiti; for Robertson was a man of ability, and must have known very well to whom the success of the Endeavour's voyage was due.
At present [he writes] I am on half pay, but Lord Sandwich has promised me the Commd of the first Cutter that becomes Vacent, but if you are going another Voyage on Descoverys as the publick peapers Informs us I should much rather take the Command of a small Vessel on that Expedition, as my Curiosity is not yet fully satisfied. If it be true that you are going on that Voyage, as I cannot rely on the publick peapers, I shall take it as a Singular favour if you will advise me in Course, that I may apply in time…. Were my Circumstances as good as they have been, I could willingly come and see you without any other errand, as I am certain your descoverys must have been very great, as I well know one of your Noble turn of mind would not stick at every trifleing Danger, where there was the least probability of making any kind of Descoverys, that could be of the least use to your King and Country, or to Mankind in General, you Appear to me to be a Gentleman born to Serve Mankind in General and this Nation in Particular, and I am tould kind providence has blest you with the means to cary on your Plan, I sincearly wish you Success in all your publick and privet undertakings, and may your Name be handed down in the Brittish Annals, with the greatest Honour, is the Earnest wishes of him who thinks near as you do, but wants the means….1
On that latest theme of the Brittish Annals, we may return to a civilian voice, the voice of Mr Sheffield, a natural historian who was soon to become keeper of the university museum at Oxford: ‘Yr first Voyage and Discoveries will transmit yr Fames to posterity, a second, attended with equal, and perhaps greater Success, will render you Immortal!’2 Immortal? Linnaeus had used the word already.
1 Possibly Banks, in due course, was able to do something for Robertson. A paragraph in a letter from Solander to Banks, three years later, runs, ‘Mr Robertson (now Lieutt of the Phoenix, formerly Master of the Dolphin under Wallis) desires his best Complts to You—He supposes You have spoke in his behalf to Ld Sandwich, and is much obliged to You’.—22 August 1775; Webster coll.
2 I make all these quotations from the correspondence in the volume of Banks's papers in ML, lettered ‘Voluntiers, Instructions, Provision for 2d. Voyage’.
1 See again the MS volume ‘Voluntiers’.
1 Banks to Falconer, 7 January 1772, Hawley coll.
3 Johnson again: Boswell had brought up the subject of ‘Hawkesworth's Book’. ‘Johnson. “Sir, if you talk of it as a subject of commerce, 'twill be gainful. If as a Book, that is to increase human knowledge, not much of that, Hawkesworth can tell only what Banks tells him, and he has not found much. But one Animal.” Boswell. “Many insects.” Johnson. “Ray reckons of british Insects 20,000 species. Banks might have staid at home and discovered enough in that way”.’—Boswell, Private Papers, 6, p. 133.
Before the end of 1771 the Admiralty had bought two further ships into the navy for the new expedition, both Whitby-built like the Endeavour, and of the same type. Cook chose them himself, and the larger of them, the Resolution, was to prove perhaps the most wonderful vessel ever engaged on an exploratory purpose. There was the usual official reticence, to which Banks paid a little tribute in a letter to Falconer:
The A[d]miralty have thought fit to be Mysterious about us so that I myself cannot Positively say where we are going and when I tell you that it is my opinion we are for the South Seas I must beg the favour of you not to mention it again for those parts however we are pretty certainly design'd and if we proceed to make discoveries on the Terra Australia Incognita I shall probably have a finer opportunity for the Excercise of my Poor Abilities than ever man before had as there seems to be a strong Probability from the Scarce Intelligible accounts of Travelers That almost every Production of Nature is here very different from what we see at this end of the Globe.3
1 Linnaeus to Ellis, 22 October 1771; J.E.S. I, pp. 267–70
2 Ellis to Linnaeus, 19 November 1771; ibid., p. 272.
3 Undated, probably late January 1772. This was all the more ridiculous as Banks had already told Falconer the plan of the voyage in his letter of 7 January 1772 quoted above, and even asked him for ‘hints relative to Observations which you might wish me to make’. Falconer's letter of 4 February 1772, ‘Voluntiers’, seems to be in answer to both these letters. On the destination of the voyage, of. Daines Barrington's letter to Pennant of late August or early September 1771, ‘Mr Tunstall writes me word’ etc., p. 56 above.
1 B.M. Add. MS 27888, f. 4,4v.
2 Priestley's letter to Banks will bear quoting: ‘You now tell me that, as the different professors of Oxford and Cambridge will have the naming of the person, and they are all clergymen, they may possibly have some scruples on the head of religion, and that on this account, you do not think you could get me nominated at any rate, much less on the terms which were first mentioned to me. Now what I am, and what they are, with respect to religion, might easily have been known before the thing was proposed to me at all. Besides, I thought that this had been a business of Philosophy, not of Divinity. If, however, this be the case, I shall hold the board of longitude in extreme contempt, and make no scruple of speaking of them accordingly; taking it for granted, that you have just ground for your suspicions’.—1 December 1771, ‘Voluntiers’, pp. 597–8. See also Priestley's Memoirs (Birmingham 1810), p. 50, where he remarks, ‘I was much better employed at home, even with respect to my philosophical pursuits.’ The professors were no doubt the professors of astronomy and geometry at Oxford, and astronomy and mathematics at Cambridge, all ex officio members of the Board. But they did not by themselves have the nomination. See Cook II, Appendix III, pp. 719 ff. Banks in any case was taking too much on himself.
3 B.M. Add. MS 27888, f. 3. Lind was elsewhere highly thought of, however. Hume wrote to Benjamin Franklin, on 17 March 1771, ‘Brother Lin expects to see you soon, before he takes his little Trip round the World. You have heard, no doubt, of that Project: The Circumstances of the Affair coud not be more honourable for him, nor coud the Honour be conferred on one who deserves it more’.—Raymond Klibansky and Ernest C. Mossner, New Letters of David Hume (Oxford 1954), pp. 193–4. James Lind (1736–1812), a Scotsman, visited China as surgeon on an East Indiaman in 1766. M.D. Edinburgh 1768, In 1769 he observed the transit of Venus at Hawkhill near Edinburgh; by this and other observations he made some reputation as an astronomer, though it is difficult to see why Banks should have so particularly thought him worth £4000. In 1777 he was elected F.R.S. and settled at Windsor as physician to the royal household. His sweet ness of disposition was well known, and in his last years he befriended the young Shelley.
1 A note in Banks's hand in ‘Voluntiers’, p. 431, specifies the names and wages of these persons: ‘Resolution: Zoffany, J. F. Miller and James Miller (draughtsmen) £100 a year each; Walden (secretary) £100; Peter Briscoe (servant) £40; James Roberts, John Asquith, Peter Sidserf, Nicholas Young (servants) £20: Sander (servant) £10; John Marchant and Robert Holbrooke (horns) £40. Adventure: John Clevely (draughts man) £100, S. Backstrom (secretary) £100. Sander was the man whom Banks engaged at Batavia.
2 Though he seems to have been hopeful at first. Cf. Sandwich, II, p. 350 below: ‘Captain Cooke (who had so high an idea of the ship that he thought she could bear all this super structure) gave it as his opinion that it would not be too much…’.
1 15 May 1772, ML Banks Papers, II (1), 28.
2 ‘Mr Banks came to Sheerness and when he saw the Ship, He swore &. stamp'd upon the Warfe, like a Mad Man.’—John Elliott, a midshipman in the Resolution, who later wrote his memoirs.—B.M. Add. MS 42714, f.iov. Probably Elliott gave the ship's opinion generally, when he wrote, ‘a more proud, haught[y] man could not be, and all his plans seem'd directed to show his own greatness’.—ibid., f.ii.
1 In an earlier paragraph he has remarked that when Sandwich first asked him to go, ‘I Joyfully embracd a proposal of all others the best suited to my disposition and pursuits’.
2 This £5000’ has been repeated a good deal, and J. H. Maiden, in his Sir Joseph Banks (Sydney 1909), p. 45, actually says he has seen ‘receipts for money paid by Banks, amounting to over £5000, for scientific stores and appliances, presents for the natives, and so forth, for this voyage. These documents are now in the Mitchell Library’. Now the only documents of this sort in the Mitchell Library are in the ‘Voluntiers’ volume already referred to. A careful addition of all the sums receipted in this volume comes to a great deal less than £5000. Some of them have nothing to do with the Resolution expenses at all—for example, the costs of chartering the ship for Banks's Iceland voyage are included, and a payment of £89 8s 6d to Stanfield Parkinson for miscellaneous work at New Burlington Street: ‘To Makin a sett of Gurtians of blew Check for the Garret bed Head a Sett of Lathes with hooks and spicks and putin up’, £3 3s; ‘Menden two Mohogney french Chairs’, 3s 6d, and so on; there is ‘Od Jobes in the House & Door Way in the Londerrey’, £5 3s 7d, with other similar items. Whether ‘a Globular Silver Punch Bowl’, £24 18s, was for use on die ship or at home we need not enquire; but ‘an Enamelled Gold Watch’, 35 guineas, does not seem to have any necessary nautical significance. Nor does the item ‘To lighting the Lamp from 25 March 1772 to ist June 1772’, 7s 4d. But ‘A Poket Time Keeper’, £100, bought like the gold watch of John Arnold, may possibly have been a chronometer, and so of considerable scientific interest. Banks seems to have collected all his bills for a certain period and bound them up together with his second voyage ‘in-letters’. After throwing out a small number of obvious interlopers among these bills, though leaving others it would have been tedious to extract, I have made the total spent £2317 4s 6½d. Of course as a round sum this is not as good as £5000. No doubt there were other expenses not noted in these papers.— I owe Banks an apology for giving his estimate in Cook I, p. cxxxvii as £10000. We do not know his income at this time, but Weld, History of the Royal Society, II, p. 116, gives it later as above £30,000 a year, so he was in no danger of reducing himself to beggary in the cause of science.
1 There are a number of copies of this letter: in the ‘Voluntiers’ volume; in S.S.B.'s copy of the Iceland journal; among Sandwich's papers at Hinchingbrooke (endorsed No. 93); among George III's papers at Windsor Georgian Papers, No. 1322. It was first printed by Fortescue, Correspondence of King George the Third, II (1927), pp. 343–7. I have used the autograph draft of the ‘Voluntiers’ volume.
2 3 June 1772; Sandwich papers, Hinchingbrooke (endorsed No. 95); Georgian Papers, Windsor, No. 1323*; Fortescue II, pp. 350–2.
I am sorry that the alteration you proposed to make in the said letter has not taken place, as it will probably make it necessary that some answer should be given if your letter is made public; for it is a heavy charge against this Board to suppose that they mean to send a number of men to sea in an unhealthy ship. In this point, and in most of the reasoning of the above-mentioned letter, I differ greatly with you in opinion, and shall therefore be sorry if anything is printed on either side; but I am sure if you will give yourself time to think coolly, you will at once see the impropriety of publishing to the world an opinion of your own, that one of the King's ships is unfit for a voyage she is going to be employed in, and that her crew will be in danger of losing their lives if they go to sea in her… I am positive…. we shall be able to bring the fullest proof to the contrary; that paragraph being in your letter should in my humble opinion induce you not to print it.1
1 Sandwich to Banks, 2 June 1772; Sandwich Papers, Hinchingbrooke. This is a modern copy of the letter.
2 Sandwich Papers, Hinchingbrooke; n.d.; endorsed No. 98.
3 Georgian Papers, Windsor, No. 1342; Fortescue II, p. 361. There is no doubt of the king's deep interest in the voyages, though the lavishness of Hawkesworth's dedication of his volumes brought some public criticism: “it exceeds the licence of dedicatory compliment’, held the Annual Register for 1773 in its review of the volumes after the writer's death, pp. 266–73. Hawkesworth's principle seems to have been that if you are using butter, you may as well use plenty of it.
1 It is in Sandwich's handwriting, undated, and is endorsed No. 94.
1 There was evidently a little campaign. The General Evening Post, 4 June 1772, reports, ‘Yesterday Mr D-mpst-r moved for an inquiry into the motives for laying aside the prosecution of our discoveries towards the South Pole. The speakers referred him to the Treasury Bench, but Lord N—th and all his colleagues were as still as night, and there the affair dropped.’ The paper recurred to the subject on 6 June.
2 Sandwich to North, 8 June 1772; Sandwich Papers, Hinchingbrooke.
3 ‘Mr Banks presents his Compts to Mr Burke & heartily thanks him for the Interest he has been so kind as to take in his business throughout the whole prosecution of it. Several of Mr Banks's freinds met this morn at the Speakers where on finding that the present Equipment had proceeded too far to be either alterd or stoppd they resolvd to put off meeting on tuesday & hope that some other expedition might be set on foot which they conceived great hopes might be effected in a much more agreable way than this ever was in. Mr Banks returns a thousand thanks for Mr Burkes Caveat which he understands has in Conjunction with the Speak[e]r stoppd totaly what Mr Banks so much dreaded that he should be lookd upon as usefull to the voyage only in catching butterflies & the publick be contented if that matter was done by any one else whether well or ill.’—This undated note is among the Wentworth Woodhouse papers in the Sheffield Public Library, Bk 2/219, and I am grateful to Earl Fitzwilliam and the Trustees of the Fitzwilliam Settled Estates for allowing me to print it.
1 Cook to—, 1 August 1772; Windsor Castle, Georgian Papers, No. 1359. The letter, which is a copy, simply begins ‘Sir’, and does not have the addressee's name subscribed. It was very probably sent to Philip Stephens, the Secretary to the Admiralty. Fortescue prints it, II, pp. 372–3.
1 2 June 1772, ML MS.
2 ML Banks Papers, II, f. 3.
3 General Evening Post, 27 June 1772.
1 ‘Voluntiers’, p. 23 ff. Banks was stimulated by a letter in the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, 11 June 1772, signed by ‘A Briton’, which said, inter alia, ‘From what I can see, Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, Dr. Lind, and Mr. Zoffani, are likely to be excluded from a voyage which, from their sharing it, did honour to the nation; and in all probability, the noblest expedition ever fitted out will dwindle to nothing, and disgrace this country’. A gentleman without a signature answered this on 16 June: ‘The whole of the matter is, Mr. B. did not chuse to go the voyage, unless he could ride the waves triumphantly, in all the pomp and splendour of an Eastern Monarch’. There were other letters, on 17 June from ‘An Englishman’ (anti-Banks), and on 23 June from ‘Detector’ (pro-Banks).
2 Copies of these two letters are in ‘Voluntiers’, pp. 391–3. That to D'Alembert is dated 12 July 1772. Banks had apparently himself composed a letter to D'Alembert in a French over which Lauraguais shakes his head. The letter to Buffon has no date in the copy, but must have been sent at the same time.
3 In the letter to Falconer already quoted from (p. 71 above) he remarks, ‘The Very Intelligent observations which I meet with in your last about the Northern Countreys make me almost regret the having given up my Northern plan in which they would have been so usefull I shall however lay it by as a treasure I may sometime make use of…’.
1 Lind to Maskelyne, 30 January 1775; D.T.C. I, pp. 82–3. Presumably Maskelyne passed on to the Admiralty this letter, so much more complimentary to Banks than to the British government. Maskelyne had been sounding Lind on his willingness to go on a northern Pacific voyage.
3 Iceland Journal, p.6. Here another letter to Banks, not in the Voluntiers volume, may be quoted. It seems to indicate that he had already, early in June, announced publicly his intention of going on a voyage of his own. The writer, Richard Rollett, was a Lincolnshire man, who seems to have had some objection to the Resolution, or to Cook.— ‘Resolution Sheerness June 9th 1772. Most Honoured Sir—I not having an oppertunity of waiting on you in person have made bold to make this Letter the Messinger of my Nessessitys, Which is to do me the Honour of a birth in your Service, in the Capacity of Mastr Sail maker, Which I now am On board the Resolution I am very desirous to proceed on the Voyage, but in the ship with Which you & Dr Solander goes, I should have gone with the Adventure, if you had not been going in the Resolution when I first shipd myself.—It is the Desire of my friends, I should go this voyage, which If I Do not, the Disadvantage will be very great to me as it Lyes in there power to do very genteel for me at My Return, Which I must & will suffer Reather than go in this Ship, altho I am so Desirous of Proceeding the Voyage, therefore I hope you'll be pleas'd to Favour me with my Desire which will make me Intirely happy, & till such time as I Know your pleasure Remain your Honours most Obedient & Most Devoted Servt Richd Rollett— I hope you please to let me know your pleasure Which I Impatiently wait for & hope it will be a profound Secret to Captn Cook for if it Dont sute you & he heres of it my time will be Very Miserible to me’.—ATL, Miscellaneous material relating to Cook's voyages. Rollett however duly sailed on the Resolution.
1 Iceland Journal, pp. 6–7.
2 The brig was in the end under charter for five months, from 11 July to 4 December, as we see from the account in the ‘Voluntiers’ papers
Banks and Solander
from ‘shadows’ by James Lind
1 Banks's MS does not seem to have been previously utilized by any student. It is now in the McGill University Library, and I am greatly indebted to the generosity of the Librarian of McGill in providing me with a microfilm copy. The MS has 8 pp. of introduction, followed by 88 pp. of journal, 12 July–6 September 1772, and an appendix giving the text of the passport. Of the 88 journal pages, 60 are devoted to the Scottish islands, and 14 to Iceland. In the introduction Banks says he will include his long letter to Sandwich of 30 May in an appendix, but does not do so. It is possible that he wrote more journal than is extant, but if so, why has the passport appendix survived and not the rest of the journal? A copy of the journal by S.S.B. survives (Hawley coll.); this breaks off at 5 September, but does include the letter to Sandwich. Banks did write more, though it may not have been in journal form, because he lent some notes to W. J. Hooker to aid the latter in his own tour of Iceland in 1809, and Hooker quotes Banks's account of the ascent of Mount Hecla (see p. 92 below). Lord Brabourne, also, has a small notebook with a few details attributable to September and October (I have not seen this and owe my knowledge of it to Miss Janet D. Hine). And there are two long and interesting letters to Falconer, quoted below. Von Troil's book appeared in 1778 in a German edition, from which J. R. Forster made the English version, London 1780: Letters on Iceland, made during a Voyage undertaken in the year 1772, By Joseph Banks Esq., F.R.S. and Dr. Solander, F.R.S., Dr. Lind, F.R.S., Dr. Uno von Troil, D.D., and several other Literary and ingenious Gentlemen—to give the gist of its intolerably verbose title-page.— All the evidence available a generation ago on the visit, from Icelandic as well as English sources, was brought together in the valuable monograph by Halldór Hermannsson, Sir Joseph Banks and Iceland (Ithaca, N.Y., 1928), pp. 4–20. Hermannsson unfortunately did not have the journal or the Falconer letters. He reproduced 24 of the 75 drawings made by the Millers and Cleveley, now in the British Museum, Add. MSS 15511 and 15512.
2 This is presumably the person of whom Hume wrote (to Lind?), 24 February 1772: ‘There is a young Gentleman of the Name of Riddal, Grandson of Sir Walter Riddal, who goes with you in your nautical & philosophical Expedition in the Station of a Midshipman: I am much connected with his Friends who desire to have him recommended to you’.—Klibanksy and Mossner, New Letters of David Hume, p. 195. Young Riddell may have been ‘intended for the Sea’, but he does not appear to have been appointed to either of Cook's ships. He was a relative of the wife of Hume's elder brother John, a niece of Sir Walter Riddell of Riddell, who was the head of ‘an ancient and honourable family’ in Roxburghshire. His presence, like Lind's, illustrates how Banks's relations were extending over the kingdom.
The adventurers sailed from Gravesend on the night of 12 July, carrying Count Lauraguais as far as Dover, and arranging there for the transport to Calais of a bird that Banks was sending to Buffon. There was a historic brass cannon to inspect at the castle, and a little botanizing to do. The wind turned contrary and blew fresh, and for several days Banks was too sick to write. By 20 July they were at the Isle of Wight — ‘a little paradise’, thought von Troil, though Banks was more measured in his description. Going ashore early at Cowes to buy butter and eggs, they had to walk about till the shops opened. Cowes was a pleasant town; the small and ill-built Yarmouth, where they ‘landed with French Horns to the no small surprise of the people who little expected to see such a motley crew issue from so small a vessel’, less so, its people ‘much less humanisd’ than those of Cowes, less used to strangers: ‘the children followd us about the streets begging for halfpence’. It was not quite like landing on a South Sea island, but at least the French horns had had their effect. Three more days brought them to Plymouth, to find that Arnold, the instrument-maker, had carried Banks's chronometer back to London. Once more Mount Edgcumbe was inspected, with regrets that its noble owner was not more a man of refined taste, who could have added some touches of art to the magnificent inadequacies of nature; but the docks called forth unqualified enthusiasm. Then by ship again, with the wind still west, and more and worse sea-sickness from day to day. A bout of fishing yielded only four dogfish, ‘in whose fins were however a new species of Oniscus’; and when, a few miles off the Cornish coast, a flag was hoisted to attract fishing-vessels, a legion of small boats shot out to see what smuggled goods the Sir Lawrence had on board. Such was the eighteenth century. At last, on 28 August, near Land's End, with a south-west sea growing, it was decided to sail up the Irish Channel; the wind turned favourable, and the morning of the 31st showed the Mull of Kintyre.page 87
There followed a fortnight among the Hebridean islands — a longer time than Banks had meant to spend, but a fortnight that gave full scope to his romantic, sporting, observing mind, and to his recording pen. Neither rain, nor fog, nor foul winds blurred his enthusiasm. On Saturday, 1 August, the ship anchored in Lochindale, to find an immense crowd gathered together for the single communion of the year next day. Banks had to have tents pitched for shelter, while the Sunday was deemed so sacred by the inhabitants that he could not even walk out botanizing — though certainly that pleasure would have been marred by the immoderate rain. On Monday he could at least go for a walk, to Killam, a small town at the head of the bay, where he found the ruins of a religious foundation, and set his artists to drawing tombstones; there were lead-mines also, originally worked by the Danes. On Tuesday more rain, and another walk to see a cave of which he had received ‘a very pompous account’, but it turned out to be ‘a dirty nasty hollow in a rock’ on Wednesday still more rain, and the decision to move to the other side of the island. Banks rode overland, with an eye on the country and its farms. On 6 August the rain broke; the travellers crossed to the isle of Jura with a barometer to measure the height of the stony hills; the following day they fixed the latitude of Freeport, and the day after that arrived dripping wet on Oronsay to inspect its ancient monastic remains. Once again the artists were set to work. On the 9th they left the Sound of Islay: Banks wanted to sail straight to ‘Y Columb Kill’ — Icolmkill or the isle of Iona, but his pilot insisted on going through the Sound of Mull. (Cook was not the only sailor to prefer his own professional judgment to Banks's.) At least this gave him some fishing and shooting; he shot gulls, ‘as all our gentlemen think these excellent meat’, including the first Arctic Gull he had ever seen. There was an old fort, miserably broken down but picturesque, for the artists. And there was full liberty to the soul. It was 11 August; the ship was passing between Mull and Morven when Mr Banks's emotions, in the literary way, came to the top: he gazed on the fabulous shore entranced.
Morven the Land of Heroes once the seat of the Exploits of Fingal the mother of romantick scenery of Ossian I could not even sail past it without a touch of Enthusiasm sweet affection of the mind which can gather pleasures from the Empty Elements and realise substantial pleasure which three fourths of mankind are ignorant of I lamented the busy bustle of the ship and had I dard to venture the Censure of my Companions would certainly have brought her to an anchor to have read ten pages page 88 of Ossian under the shades of those woods would have been Luxury above the reach of Kings.1
Soon after came the anti-climax; for passing the mouth of a beautiful inlet ‘the cruel pilot’ would not let the enthusiast land, declaring it a bar harbour. They had to anchor, ‘as fate directed in as ugly a spot as we could have chose along the whole coast, sufficiently so I think to have destroyed the enthusiasm of even an Ossian’. Yet even here, once ashore, the enquiring mind found food: he could observe the burning of kelp, of which we get a full description.
More was at hand than kelp-burners. Banks met an English gentleman, a Mr Leach, who told him that on an island about nine leagues off were pillars like those of the Giants’ Causeway. The Giants’ Causeway was a phenomenon that only lack of time had kept him from visiting earlier. Here was a chance to make up for the omission. He had two days’ provision and his tent loaded into a boat, sent the ship round to wait in Tobermory harbour, took eight of his people and was rowed over to Staffa — a tedious eight hours’ passage without a breath of wind. It was night when they landed; the tent was too small, so four volunteers, led by Solander, braved the smoke and suspected lice of a nearby fisherman's hut. In the morning — it was 13 August and a great day in Banks's life — enthusiasm once more rushed to the surface. On the south-west side of the island ‘we were struck with a scene which exceeded our Expectations’. This was the great range of natural pillars for which Staffa has since then been pre-eminently known. Banks made a rhetorical flight which perhaps compensates for his discontent with the unaided nature of Mount Edgcumbe.
Compard to this what are the Cathedrals or the palaces built by man mere models or playthings imitations as diminutive as his works will always be when compard to those of nature where is now the boast of the architect regularity the only part in which he fancied himself to exceed his mistress nature is here found in her possession & here it has been for ages uncounted, is not this the school where the art was originaly studied & what had been added to this by the whole grecian school a Capital to ornament the Column of nature of which they could execute only a model & for that very capital they were obligd to a bush of acanthus.
how amply does nature repay those who study her wonderfull works.
1 Iceland Journal, pp. 34–5. The contrast between the emotions of Banks in the Hebrides in 1772, and of Johnson in 1773, is really comic.
1 Banks elsewhere tells a pleasant story about the visit to Iona: ‘in each of the 4 sides of this Island which answer the 4 Cardinal points is a stone in which seamen place great faith beleiving that if they cleen carefully any one of them a wind will arise from its respective quarter. When we were there the Stone on the North side was nicely swept & a northerly wind arising fannd us gently away to our ship where we arrivd at night’.— Banks to Falconer, 12 January 1773, Hawley coll.
1 Von Troil, on the other hand, merely says there was a severe penalty for piloting a strange ship into harbour without official permission, as a measure against smugglers— which does not contradict Banks, any more than Banks contradicts him. Shyness of smugglers would argue a radical difference between the Icelanders and the Cornishmen. Foreign trade with Iceland was in fact forbidden. It is said also that the Icelanders remembered an Algerian pirate-raid in the previous century, and feared another.— Hermannsson, p. 9.
2 Cf.pp. 158, II, 276–9 below. This use of the ‘electrical machine’, for purposes of amusement, is very typical of the age. Unhappily there were no ‘humorous effects’: of the poor Icelanders, thus surprised in the clinical routine, ‘every one looked as a fool who had received an unexpected slap on the face nothing lively appeared no good prognostick of Bright parts in our new freinds’.—Iceland Journal, 3 September.
We are compelled to fall back upon our other sources. There must have been a week more of local exploration of the volcanic, treeless country, with its vast lava-beds, its small farms and vegetable gardens, till the party set out on the grand expedition, to climb Mount Hecla: this was a twelve days’ journey, and they climbed to the top, von Troil tells us, on 24 September. We have an itinerary noted down by Solander.2 From Hafnafiord they first made their way to Heitharbaer, a farm on the north-west shore of Lake Thingvalla. Next day they visited the meeting place of that venerable institution the Althing, or Icelandic parliament, and went on to Lake Laugarvatn with its neighbouring hot springs and geysers; in one of the springs they had the happiness of boiling a piece of mutton, some trout, and a ptarmigan (‘which was almost boiled to pieces in six minutes, and tasted excellently’);3 and so on to Muli to spend the night. Then came the great day with geysers at Haukadal, where they stayed from 6 in the morning till 7 at night, enchanted with forty or fifty boiling and spouting springs, and especially with Geysir, which has given its name to all such phenomena; Lind set up his quadrant and measured the 92 feet of its greatest rise. This was on 21 September. There followed a day of literary interest; for they were received at Skalholt not merely with kindness from Bishop Finnur Jonsson, the learned historian of the Icelandic church, but with a Latin and Icelandic ode composed by the headmaster of the cathedral school in honour of Banks. The leader of the expedition made return of suitable gifts; and the expedition passed on to more hot springs at Laugaras, was ferried across the two rivers Hvita and Thiorsa, and reached the parsonage of Skarth to spend another night. They were almost at their goal. On 23 September they reached Grafell, a mountain in the lava field west of Hecla, pitched a tent for a short night, and at one o'clock next morning started on the ascent. It took them thirteen hours.
1 Iceland Journal, 6 September.
2 Plantae Islandicae et Notulae itinerariae; B.M.(N.H.), Botany Library.
3 Von Troil, p. 10.
1 Banks, as quoted by W. J. Hooker, Journal of a Tour in Iceland (London 1813), II, pp. 116–7.
3 An occasion described in the Autobiography of Jon Steingrimsson, quoted by Hermannsson, p. 10.
1 One of the Iceland drawings is dated 15 October; so, as Hermannsson points out, the ship must have left Iceland after that date. The note-book in Lord Brabourne's possession has the final entries, ‘21 [October?] Idle, 22 Idle too resolve to go away fair or foul’. If October is the month referred to then the departure could not have been earlier than the 23rd. In a letter to Falconer of 12 January 1773, Banks remarks, ‘the course I steerd was through the western Islands to Iceland from whence after having remaind 8 weeks I returnd by the orkneys to Edinburgh & from thence by land to London’; but in another, 2 April 1773, he says ‘we were only 6 weeks ashore on it’— i.e. Iceland.—Hawley coll. Smith, p. 34, apparently following Gent. Mag. xlii, p. 540, says Banks left Edinburgh on 19 November, after spending some time there and in the Highlands, but gives no authority for the statement. Gent. Mag. merely gives the date. The General Evening Post, 24 November 1772, announces that ‘Joseph Banks Esq., Dr Solander and Dr Lind, are on their return to London from Scotland…’.
2 Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides. Banks's description, which appeared in Vol. I (Chester, 1774), pp. 261–9, stuck closely to the words of his journal. Vol. II was published in London, 1776. The work was dedicated to Banks.—’… Staffa, so lately raised to renown by Mr Banks.’—Johnson, Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (1775). Banks's connection with Staffa could have been even closer: Lind suggested he should buy it. ‘Talking of the Highlands I beg to acquaint you, that the Island of Staffa is to be sold this Spring; the annual rent of it is about £10, and it is supposed £200 will buy it. If you choose to purchas it, you'll please to let me know, and I shall get some friend to bid for it at the Sale, as it will not be proper for you or any of your friends to appear in it, lest it should enhance it[s] value.’—Lind to Banks, 2 March 1775, Webster coll.
1 On the ‘Chain of Creation’, or the ‘Chain of Being’, and Banks's references to it in his Journal, see II, p. 20, n. 1 below.
1 ML Banks Papers, XVI, 9–10.
2 Journal, p. 8 (18 February); cf. following note.
3 ‘Journal of a trip to Holland beginning with the time of leaving London (Febry 12. 1773) & ending with the day of returning thence again (March 22. 1773)’.—S.S.B. 1773.
4 Letter of 24. February 1773, ML Banks Papers, XVI, pp. 5–8.
5 Journal, pp. 69–70.
6 Cf. the postscript of his letter to Falconer, 2 April 1773: ‘we are employd in fitting out an expedition in order to penetrate as near to the North Pole as Possible it consists of two Boom Ketches chose as the strongest species of Ships therefore the best to Cope with the Ice they will sail before the middle of the next month commanded by a good Freind of mine Captn Phipps your opinion of the Frigid Zone cannot but be useful to him & very agreable to me at this Juncture’. Banks's known interest in this voyage and his meeting with the men of learning at Rotterdam, confused with his ‘Levee of Greenland Captains’ at the Hague, was perhaps the basis of the report in the Annual Register, 1773, p. 82, that he and Greville assisted at a session of the Batavian Society at Rotterdam, whereat he communicated his design of undertaking the voyage, asked for information of Dutch discoveries up to 84o north latitude, and promised in return to report all the discoveries he might make. Banks's journal mentions no such meeting.
1 n.d. ML Banks Papers, XVI, p. 11.
2 See F. W. Hilles, The Literary Career of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1936), bibliographical appendix.
3 Robertson to Banks, 18 February 1773; D.T.C. I, pp. 47–8.
4 He was ‘nommé correspondant de La Lande, le 11 mars 1772’.—Index Biographique des membres et correspondants de l’ Académie des Sciences de 1666 à 1939 (Paris 1939). Banks had further steps in the hierarchy of French honour in 1787 and 1801.
5 Annual Register, 1773, p. 106.
But the year 1773 was remarkable not so much for travels — travels which had now become no more than excursions — as for Banks's inauguration as an Adviser. The capital letter is justified.
1 Falconer to Banks, undated, but with a pencil note at the top, ‘May 17, 1773’; D.T.C. I, p. 52.
2 The memoir of Sandby by his son remarks, ‘He also travelled with Sir Joseph Banks, the late Dr Solander, and Mr Lightfoot, upon a tour of the Principality’—a journey he remembered with delight.—Monthly Magazine, 1 June 1811, p. 437; the memoir was reprinted by A. P. Oppé in the Burlington Magazine, LXXX (1946), pp. 143–7. The 1773 tour seems to be the only one that fits. I owe my references in this matter to Dr Bernard Smith.
3 What we know of this journey comes from a ‘Journal of a Botanical Excursion in Wales’, kept by Lightfoot, and letters from him to Banks, edited by the Rev. H. J. Riddelsdell, and printed in the Journal of Botany, 43 (1905), pp. 290–307. I do not know of any journal by Banks. Lightfoot afterwards wrote to Banks, ‘I never became a Party in any Scheme which afforded me more Satisfaction or sincere Delight…. I believe it may without vanity be said, that few, if any Botanical Excursions in Great Britain have exceeded our Collection, either in Number or Rarity of Plants or Places’.—24 August 1773, loc. cit., p. 292.
4 21 September 1773, ML Banks Papers, XVI, p. 21.
On his early life, as he advanced into his thirties, a career was being superimposed that was to make him one of the most considerable figures in English life, outside politics and mere society. Obviously he had regained firm ground, after his sudden ballooning into the air of self-consequence: ‘the inhabitants … have been civiler to me than I deservd’, though a sentence of rather conventional sentiment, is not quite conventional when addressed to a sister who knew him. Its moderation is very different from the high tone he had adopted about the Navy Board. The importance which now began to be attached to the name of Joseph Banks was not importance attached by himself, nor adventitious, it did not arise simply from the supreme good luck of having been taken round the world by Lieutenant Cook, or even from the contribution which, before the end of the year, he was seen to have made to the history of that voyage. It was rooted in a capacity which he undoubtedly had, to advise, but to advise with discrimination, and with tact, on matters in which he was competent. He could still, for decades to come, be enthusiastic, persistent, strong-willed, even dogmatic; he could still therefore make enemies; but he was never again gratuitously foolish. He had a sense of the possible. His authority became formidable — partly, no doubt, because he cared to exert it; but also because it was both conceded and earned. It was many-sided; but that was because it arose from a real as well as many-sided interest. It was not earned in a day; and when at last all Europe looked to him, he made a good deal less play with ‘all Europe’ than he had done in that fatal month of May 1772. In the meanwhile he was just beginning; and he gave advice, wise enough, to Dr Hawkesworth over the preparation of his Voyages and his relations to Stanfield Parkinson.1 He had become interested in a matter that never ceased to be interesting to him, the transference of useful plants from one part of the world to another, and he advised on that.2 Nothing else, however, equalled in importance the influence he began to wield as a sort of scientific overseer to the royal gardens at Kew.
1 ‘I long for the month of April when we are to be entertained and instructed’, wrote Robertson, in the letter already quoted, no doubt in anticipation of the appearance of the Voyages.
2 Banks to S.S.B.: ‘My Dear Sister, I send you Mrs Boones paper relative to the bringing vegetable [s] to Antigua [from the East Indies]….’ n.d. Endorsed by S.S.B. ‘26 April sent to Mrs. Boone 27. 1773’. ML Banks Papers, XVI, pp. 13–14, with the directions carefully copied out by Sophia, pp. 15–18.
1 The precise date when Banks began to advise on Kew is obscure. It may possibly have been towards the end of 1772, after his return from Scotland, but 1773 seems the safer guess.
2 Walpole to Sir Horace Mann, 10 July 1774; Letters (ed. Toynbee), IX, p. 16. Banks's first introduction to Bruce may have come through a letter from the African traveller (11 January 1774, D.T.C. I., pp. 67–8), forwarded by Zoffany in Florence, seeking his help in getting Bruce's drawings through the Customs. Zoffany adds, ‘Your book of the last voyage [i.e. Hawkesworth] goes off here amazingly, and I hear it is to be translated’.—W. T. Whitley, Artists and their Friends in England, 1700–1799 (London 1928), I, p. 296.
3 He was proposed by ‘Athenian’ Stuart, who comes into the Banks-Cook story otherwise in one or two minor ways.—Cook II, pp. xli and 609, n. 3. He was certainly among friends. It is recorded that on 6 December 1778—he had just become President of the Royal Society—‘Ld Sandwich & Mr Banks having called this respectable Society by the disrespectful name of Club were fined a bumper each which they drank with all proper humility. Lord Mulgrave do. do.’—Cust, History of the Society of Dilettanti (London 1898), p. 35.
4 The precise date was 21 October 1761 (the Curator-Librarian of the Royal Society of Arts, Mr D. G. C. Allan, has kindly informed me), three weeks after the death of his father. His application to this Society may therefore have been one of his first serious independent acts.
Read, or oh! say, does some more amorous fair
Prevent Opano, and engage his care?
I Oberea, from the southern main
Of slighted vows, of injur'd faith complain.
* * *
Ah! I remember on the river's side,
Whose bubbling waters 'twixt the mountains glide,
A bread-tree stands, on which with sharpen'd stone,
To thy dear name I deign'd unite my own.
Grow, bread-tree, grow, nor envious hand remove
The sculptur'd symbols of my constant love.
1 There is a quite minor—a minimal—bibliographical point to be raised here. The dates of the squibs quoted below are all given on the title-pages as 1774, and Sir Maurice Holmes's Cook bibliography follows this. But a copy of the third edition of the Epistle from Oberea, the first of them, in the ATL has on the title-page also the inscription ‘Spilsby Society, Decr 29th 73’ (Spilsby is a village in the eastern part of Lincolnshire). The Introduction is dated Sept. 20th, 1773, and the Introduction to the Epistle from Mr. Banks, which followed it, ‘Dec. 20, 1773; so it is possible that in printing they were post-dated.
Carv'd is thy name upon the bread-tree's rind?
Thy face, thy soul, are carv'd upon my mind;
And, well I ween, blest produce of thy charms,
My image lives and prattles in thy arms.
And followed that still with A Second Letter from Oberea:
The children grow in stature and in grace,
While all the father blooms in either face….
And when I weep I almost hear them say
Why, cruel, went our Father far away;
* * *
Yet think at least my copious tears you see,
And spare one thought from Botany for me….
Think on the raptures which we once have known,
And waft one sigh to Otaheite's throne.
The samples are enough. Delicacy was not the Major's strong point, and if he had read Banks's journal he would not have been misled on the relations between his hero and heroine: that did not matter, but he became very repetitive and excessively tedious. He does not figure in the grand procession of English poetry; he does nevertheless witness to the fact that Banks was a prominent enough figure to take rewarding liberties with.
Then came the Event, the vast excitement, of 1774. In July (to offset Abyssinian Bruce) returned from the South Sea Captain Tobias Furneaux, Cook's second in command, with the Adventure, with news from Tahiti — everybody had been enquiring after Banks — and with that best ethnological specimen of all, a veritable Tahitian, the simple and sweet-tempered Omai. What to do with Omai? The extent to which Banks had regained his ground with Sandwich we may now see: Omai was handed over to him. This was magnificent; at last he had something which none of the menagerie-keepers among his neighbours could hope to match: something to take the place of poor Tupaia. Like the rarest of exotic plants, Omai was borne off for the inspection of the king: ‘How do, King Tosh!’ he exclaimed upon his introduction, with true courtesy. The king made the sensible suggestion that he should be inoculated against smallpox. It was done; he recovered, was lodged near Banks, and became the darling of social London. Even Solander was excited enough to write a letter about him, with a few odd phrases. Omai, he said, had been living ‘as a private Gentleman page 103 of as mall fortune’ on Huaheine; he had parted from his own country in high spirits; he was aged 21 or 22. ‘When he saw Mr Banks who happen'd to have no powdre in his hair he knew him instantly…. It has been very pleasing to us, to him and many others, that both Mr Banks, myself, and Mr Banks's servant James have not forgot our South Sea Language. So we all can keep up a Conversation with him…. Omai is [a] sensible communicative Man, so he is a valuable acquisition…. Omai don't yet speak any english, but I think he will soon learn it, as he has got several words and begins to pronounce S tolerably well…. He is well behaved, easy in his Manners, and remarkably complaisant to the Ladies’.1 Lord Sandwich and Mr Banks, he added, were now quite cordial again. As Omai's visit extended, and his English improved, it became apparent that he was not very sensible; but his manners passed from ease to elegance; he visited the House of Lords and managed like any gentleman the sword the king had given him; he dined with the great, he dined with Dr Burney and Dr Johnson; he went to stay with Lord Sandwich at Hinchingbrooke; Miss Burney put him into her diary, Mrs Thrale put him into Thraliana, Cowper put him into The Task; Reynolds painted his portrait; the muse descended upon Major Scott again, with quite colossally tedious results. Omai in fact was to London all that Bougainville's Ahutoru had been to Paris five years before. Perhaps the Romantic Movement got more from Ahutoru than from Omai; the ‘noble savage’ was, after all, more diligently cultivated in France than in England.
1 To an unnamed correspondent, 19 August 1774, ATL Holograph Letters and Documents of and relative to Captain James Cook.
2 Or possibly late spring. Colman says midsummer, but Banks spent June and July on two (so it would appear) yachting parties with Sandwich. See the following pages.
1 Colman, Random Records (London 1830), I, pp. 157–9.
Banks was in London again only a few days before going off on two further expeditions. The first was a six weeks’ trip, in June and July, from Deptford to Plymouth and back with Sandwich in the Admiralty yacht Augusta, on the First Lord's visitation of the royal dockyards.2 Sandwich's labours, and Banks's amusements, were touched with a different excitement which could not fail to have, for Banks, a double edge. Letters had arrived from the Resolution, letters sent from the Cape. Solander wrote to his friend:
…. As a Copy of Capt Cooks Letter was sent down to Ld Sandwich, I take it for granted you know all concerning his Voyage…. Mr Penneck has sent Mr Forsters Letter to Mr Dr Barrington and made the following Abstract: 260 new Plants, 200 new animals — 71° 10’ farthest Sth — no continent — Many Islands, some 80 Leagues long — The Bola Bola savage an [in] corrigible Blockhead — Glorious Voyage — No man lost by sickness. 3
Glorious voyage indeed! — for those who had made it, and for those who could think of it with an unentangled mind. How long would it be till the ship herself reached home? The waiting time was filled by a second yachting trip down Channel, with Sandwich, his virtual wife the beautiful and charming Martha Ray, Phipps, Augustus Phipps and Omai — a trip broken up by the tremendous news. Cook was back. Solander again sent the unofficial tidings.
Two oClock Monday — This Moment Capt Cook is arrived. I have not yet had an opertunity of conversing with him, as he is still in the board-room [i.e. of the Admiralty] — giving an account of himself &co. He looks as well as ever. By and by, I shall be able to say a little more — Give my Complts to Miss Ray and tell her I have made a Visitation to her Birds and found them all well.
Captn Cook desires his best Complts to You, he expressed himself in the most friendly manner towards you, that could be; he said: nothing could have added to the satisfaction he has had, in making this tour but having had your company. He has some Birds, in Sp.[irits of] V. [inum] for you &c &c that he would have wrote to you himself about,
1 Near Skelton Castle was the village of Kirkleathem, where Colman mentions that the party met a venerable old man of distinguished deportment, the father of Captain Cook. It is doubtful whether James Cook the elder ever lived at Kirkleathem, but the village was not far from Redcar, where it is understood he did live, with his married daughter Margaret Fleck. He died in 1778, at the age of 84.
2 Banks kept a semi-facetious journal of this trip, 2 June-14 July 1775, now at Hinchingbrooke among the Sandwich papers.page 106 if he had not been kept too long at the Admiralty and at the same time wishing to see his wife. He rather looks better than when he left England. Mr Hodges came up in his chaise, I saw him and his Drawings. He has great many portraits — some very good — He has two of my friend Tayoa. Otu is well looking man — Orithi whom they call Ohiriri was really a handsome man according to his pictures.
3 Solander to Banks, 28 June 1775; ML Banks Papers, J 1–4. This has a pencilled endorsement in a hand unknown to me, ‘Sir J B on road from Portsmouth to Plymouth?’, which does not fit the known chronology.
Fo[r]ster Senr and Junr are also come up, but I have not seen them, they did not call at the Admiralty.
Hodges says the Ladies of Otaheite & Society Islds are the more hansomer they have seen. But the Man of the Marquesas seem[s] to carry the prize. Hodges seems to be a very well behaved young man. All our friends are well
Inclosed You will find a Letter from Ch’ Clark….1
He added a few remarks on Cook's maps, which he had seen, and on some of the islands he had heard about.
Then there was Clerke's letter, written on board the Resolution, ‘Sunday Morn: 5 o'clock’:
We're now past Portland, with a fine fresh NW Gale and a young flood Tide, so that in a very few Hours we shall anchor at Spithead from our Continent hunting expedition. I will not now set about relating any of the particulars of our Voyage, as I hope very soon to have the Honour and happiness of paying my personal respects, when I can give you a much clearer idea of any matters you think worth inquiring after, than its possible to do at this distance.
I hope I need not assure you that it is utterly out of the power of length of time, or distance of space, to eradicate or in the least alleviate the gratitude your friendly offices to me has created. I assure you I've devoted some days to your service in very distant parts of the Globe; the result of which I hope will give you some satisfaction; at least it will convince you of my intentions and endeavours in that particular. I shall send this away by our civil Gentry, who will fly to Town with all the sail they can possibly make. God bless you send me one Line just to tell me you're alive and well, if that is the case, for I'm as great a stranger to all matters in England as tho’ I had been these 3 Years underground — so if I recieve no intelligence from you I shall draw bad conclusions and clap on my suit of black; but you know I never despair, but always look for the best, therefore hope and flatter myself this will find you alive and happy, which that it may, is the sincerest Hope and Wish of, Dear Sir, Your Gratefully Oblig'd & most H'ble Servt Chas Clerke.
Excuse the Paper, its gilt I assure you, but the Cockroaches have piss'd upon it. — We're terribly busy — you know a Man of War. My respects and every social wish to the good Doctor. I'll write him as soonpage 107 as possible — here's too much damning of Eyes & Limbs to do any thing now.1
1 ML Banks Papers, L 1–4. The letter is undated, but the Monday on which it was written must have been 1 August.
These were greetings such as any man might have been proud and glad to have. His friends nourished none but the warmest thoughts of him: Cook wished he had been on the voyage. Sandwich and Miss Ray hurried up to London; Banks, with every inducement of friendship and curiosity, remained where he was, and remained for a month.2 We have not his answers to these letters; he may have felt under some obligation to Phipps and Omai, but it is much more likely that his principal sensation was embarrassment. When he had been embarrassed about Miss Harriet Blosset, he did nothing; and now he did nothing. The conviction must have forced itself upon him that he had been a fool. He had made one of the great refusals; he had missed one of the most remarkable voyages in the history of the world; and Cook and Clerke brought him back not reproaches but specimens for his natural history collection. Solander's next letter could not have added to his self-satisfaction:
Our Expedition down to the Resolution, made yesterday quite a feast to all who were concerned. We set out early from the Tower, review'd some of the Transports; Visited Deptford yard; went on board the Experiment, afterwards to Wolwich, where we took on board Miss Ray &co, and then proceeded to the Galleon's where we were wellcomed on board of the Resolution — and Lord Sandwich made many of them quite happy.
Providentially old Captn Clements died 2 or 3 days ago, by which a Captain's place of Greenwich was made Vacant. This was given to Capt Cook, and a promise of Employ whenever he should ask for it. Mr Cooper3 was made Master and Commander. Mr Clerke was promised the command of the Resolution to carry Mr Omai home….
All our friends look as well as if they had been all the while in clover. All inquired after You. In fact we had a glorious day and long'd for nothing but You & Mr Omai. Mr Edgcomb & his Marines made a fine appearance. — Ld Sandwich asked the Officers afterwards to dine with us at Woolwich.
Most of our time, yesterday on board, was taken up in ceremonies, so I had not much time to see their curious collections. Mr Clerke shew'd me some drawings of Birds, made by a Midshipman, not bad, which I
1 ML Banks Papers, II, f.4. The Sunday of Clerke's writing was 31 July.
2 Unless the yachting was continued with Phipps and Omai. But he certainly remained away from London: Solander's next letter is dated 14 August, and endorsed by Banks as received on the 20th and answered on the 25th. One would give much for his answers. A third letter from Solander, 22 August, includes the greeting, ‘My best Complts to Capt Phipps, Mr Augustus, Mr Omai….’—Webster coll.page 108 believe he intends for you. I was told that Mr Anderson one of the Surgeons Mates, has made a good Botanical Collection, but I did not see him. There were on board 3 live Otaheite Dogs, the ugliest & most stupid of all the Canine tribe. Forster had on board the following Live Stock: a Springe Bock from the Cape, a Surikate, two Eagles, & several small Birds, all from the Cape. I believe he intends these for the Queen. If I except Cooper & 2 of the new made Lieutenants I believe the whole Ship's Company will go out again. Pickersgill made the Ladies sick by shewing them the New Zealand head of which 2 or 3 slices were broiled and eat on board of the Ship. It is preserved in Spirit and I propose to get it for Hunter, who goes down with me to morrow on purpose, when we expect the Ship will be at Deptford….1
3 First lieutenant of the Resolution.
1 London, 14 August 1775. ML Banks Papers, M 1–4. ‘Hunter’ was the famous surgeon and anatomist. Cf. another letter from Solander, 22 August 1775: ‘… Several of the Resolutions Men have called at Your house, to offer you their curiosities:—Tyrrell was here this Morning…. Capt Cook has sent all his curiosities to my apartments at the Museum—All his Shells is to go to Lord Bristol—4 Casks have your name on them and I understand they contain Birds & fish, &c the Box D° with Plants from the Cape….’ —Webster coll.
1 Solander probably had the matter right, so far as Sandwich was concerned, when he wrote to Banks, 5 September 1775, ‘Lord Sandwich has desired him to, by way of specimen, send in some Sheets, containing an account of what happened in Dusky Bay, New Zealand. If approv'd of, he is to write the account of the Voyage; and he is to have ½ the profits & ½ to Captain Cook’.—D.T.C. I, p. 99. In the same letter Solander remarks, ‘Mr Forster overwhelms me with civilities upon your account. He is of all men I know either the most open or the greatest fool’. It looks from a letter from George Forster to Banks, 4 January 1778, as if Forster had erected a cloud castle on some vague, hypothetical but hopeful words of Barrington's before the voyage.—ibid., p. 163. There is an immense letter from J. R. Forster to Banks, undated but probably early 1778, traversing the whole story from his point of view, and in elevated terms, which lends colour to this supposition.—ibid., pp. 171–81. See also George Forster's Letter to the … Earl of Sandwich referred to below.
2 Daines Barrington wrote to Sandwich, 5 June 1776, ‘Dr Forster hath just now call'd upon me in excellent humour both with your Lordship &capt Cooke the poor man having now transferr'd his jealousy to Mr Banks, who he conceives to have done him ill offices with your Lordship….’—Sandwich Papers, Hinchingbrooke.
3 The letter from which these last words are taken is very typical of Forster, and may be here given in full: ‘Dear Sir, Your unexpected absence out of town threw my Son and me into the disagreeable circumstance to sell for 350£ what even to booksellers would have been worth £750. Thus at the loss of £400 I have extricated myself out of the most pressing difficulties. But necessity has no Law. Since You decline, for good reasons to intercede in my favour, I shall be obliged to appeal to the public & lay before this impartial Judge, an infamous Transaction of a Man, who has endeavoured to ruin me by the weight of His power & opulence & I hope 5000 Copies shall inform all England of this dark iniquitous transaction & perhaps do more, than all my hitherto passive conduct could operate: for not one of the circumstances shall be omitted in it which have served to bring about such a consummate Scheme of bad actions. My son is gone for a few weeks to Paris, on some private business; as soon as he comes back, he shall wait on You with my whole Collection, which is not yet searched, & You may have whatever You shall want of it. Being convinced of Yr friendship and generosity I shall never forget Yr benevolence, and ever shall be Yr most obliged affectionate humble Servt J. R. Forster’.—Endorsed by Banks as received 7 October 1777. ML Banks Papers, R 1–3.
1 A Letter to the right honourable the Earl of Sandwich, First Lord Commissioner of the Board of Admiralty, &c. From George Forster, F.R.S. London 1778.
2 Observations made during a Voyage Round the World, on Physical Geography, Natural History, and Ethic Philosophy. London, 1778.
5 Forster to Banks, 7 February 1778, ML Banks Papers, S 1–2.
1 26 September 1778; endorsed by Banks ‘saw him’. ML Banks Papers, T 1–4.
2 This £250 had a later history. Banks did not expect to get it back, but when he found that the Duke of Brunswick had been induced to come to Forster's rescue, and that Forster had omitted it from his list of debts, he thought it was time to demand some security, both from the father and the son. His letter to Forster on the subject, 20 May 1782 (ML Banks Papers, A 1–2) is a model of moderation and good-humoured expostulation. George wrote a long letter from Vilna to Pennant in 1787, explaining with absurd indignation that he ‘declined entering into this obligation, which, as it would have put me entirely in his power, might have ruined me, without satisfying him, and for ever rendered me incapable of acquiring the means of acquitting my father's debt, which my inclination, more strongly sollicits me to do, than any bond or paper security’. (To Pennant, 5 March 1787, ibid., Z 1–11). Banks's annoyance was added to by Forster's allegations in the Göttingen Magazin that he and not Cook deserved the credit for the prevention of scurvy on the Resolution, and that he should have had the Copley Medal that the Royal Society had awarded to Cook; and by his ill-natured attack on Solander after the latter's death. Banks instructed a Hamburg solicitor to take legal action for the payment of the debt, quite unsuccessfully; and after Forster's death, in 1798, let it lapse in favour of the widow.
3 George Forster 10 Pennant, 5 March 1787; ML Banks Papers, Z 1–11.
1 Cook to Banks, 10 July 1776. ML MSS.
2 12. July 1776, ATL Miscellaneous material relating to Cook's voyages.
3 10 August 1779, dictated to King but signed by Clerke; ML Banks Papers, II, f.11.
4 Though it was Sandwich who made the first move before going out of office: ‘Your advice will be of great use to me in the conduct of this matter’.—Sandwich to Banks, 10 October 1780; D.T.C. I, p. 300.
5 King to Banks, ‘Thursday Evening’ [late 1780], D.T.C. I, p. 304.
1 Carl van Doren, Benjamin Franklin (London 1939), pp. 434–5, 719. It is perhaps surprising that one comes on no trace in Banks's papers of Jefferson, whose Notes on Virginia would have been the ideal book to him. Apart from politics, there was probably no one on the other side of the Atlantic more akin to Banks in range of interest. But Jefferson never lived in England, nor even visited it.
3 The Torringlon Diaries (1935), II, p. 376. He went on to aim some other ill-natured remarks at people of learning, which illuminate his own character more than Banks's. None the less, ‘We left our cards for Sr J.B.’.—Soho Square, it may be remarked, was a good enough address for all but the most particular, though its supremely aristocratic days, when it was much patronised by ambassadors and the nobility, were rather earlier. Members of the nobility, and persons otherwise distinguished, continued to live there in Banks's time- See, e.g., John Thomas Smith, Nollekens and his Times (ed. W. Whitten, London 1920) I, pp. 37–8.
1 She died at Soho Square, however, on 27 August 1804.—B.M. Add. MS 33982, f. 111; also Add. MS 6673, p. 107. She was 84 when she died.
2 Diary and Letters of Madame d'Arblay, I (1904), p. 318. It is from 1796, long after Solander's death, that we get a curious note on Banks's social abilities. He was by then unquestioned master of the scientific scene; and Farington wrote, ‘Malone observed how difficult it would be to establish a plan for collecting select Society in the way Sir Joshua Reynolds carried his on. [Reynolds had died in 1792.] Malone only knows three persons who could undertake it; and each is unfit in many respects. Sir Joseph Banks, as President of the Royal Society, and possessing a large fortune, might undertake it; but his knowledge and attention is very much confined to one study, Botany; and his manners are rather coarse and heavy’. The other two persons were Burke and Windham.—Farington Diary, I (London 1922), p. 136.
1 Whitley, Artists and their Friends, I, p. 296.
2 Solander to Banks, 1 August 1777, ML Banks Papers, O1. This must have been one of the innumerable dining clubs of London.
3 He was elected High Steward, or treasurer, on 1 February 1778, and secretary in March of that year. He remained treasurer till 1794, and secretary till February 1797.—Cust, History, pp. 28–9, 114. As secretary, he kept the Society's marbles in his house till 1784, when some of them, if not all, were presented to the British Museum. The contents of Banks's house were extremely varied.
5 George III ardently supported knobs on top of lightning conductors, against points as invented by the American Benjamin Franklin, and requested Pringle to do the same.— Weld, History of the Royal Society (1848), II, pp. 92–102.
6 11 August ; D.T.C. I, p. 198.
1 17 August ; ibid., p. 199.
2 ML Banks Correspondence, C 181, pp. 5–7. It appears from Banks's letter that he was anxious to get on to his side those gentlemen, like Astle, who were both F.S.A. and F.R.S. ‘Sir JoB’, in the last sentence of this letter, is I think Sir Joshua Reynolds, F.R.S. 1761. Reynolds, however, was not at this time F.S.A. He had been elected in 1772, but not paying his dues, was removed by the Council, and was not re-elected till 1784. There is another, shorter note to Richard Gough, F.R.S., the director of the Society of Antiquaries from 1775 to 1795. I have seen, in private hands, a number of replies to Banks's letters to other persons.
2 21 November 1778; Letters of Samuel Johnson (ed. Chapman), II, p. 272. An earlier letter from Johnson to Bennet Langton, 31 October, had already mentioned the new candidature: ‘Mr Banks desires to be admitted; he will be a very honourable accession’.— ibid., p. 264. Banks's qualifications were certainly not literary. We know very little of his intellectual tastes, if he had any, outside science and light music and plays. Boswell gives us one gleam of light, discussing Johnson's famous passage on lona (‘That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of lona’, etc.)—‘Sir Joseph Banks, the present respectable President of the Royal Society, told me, he was so much struck on reading it, that he clasped his hands together, and remained for some time in an attitude of silent admiration’.—Tour to the Hebrides, 19 October 1773. As for art, ‘Accuracy of drawing seems to be a principal recommendation to Sir Joseph’.—Farington Diary, I, p. 27. This is not surprising in the patron of Sydney Parkinson and the other botanical draughtsmen. Cf. the following passage: ‘Indeed Sir Joseph Banks used to say that Mrs. Delany's representations of flowers “were the only imitations of nature that he had ever seen, from which he could venture to describe botanically any plant without the least fear of committing an error”’.—Autobiography and Correspondence of…. Mrs Delany, (2nd series, 1862), III, p. 95. Again, some lines from the journal of the tour in Holland, 18 February 1773, describing how he went to see ‘the Princes Cabinet, where were several Pictures, which the Connoisseurs seemed to admire: one of Oxen & a Shepherd painted by Potter, pleased me much: immensely high finished, but absolute nature’. Banks's patronage of that charming topographical draughtsman Paul Sandby has already been mentioned, and can be understood. See A. P. Oppé, The Drawings of Paul and Thomas Sandby … at Windsor Castle (London and Oxford 1947), passim.
3 Reynolds to Banks, 11 December 1778. The owner of this letter, Mr Richard Border of Pulborough, Sussex, has kindly allowed me to use it. It has been printed, though not from the original, by F. W. Hilles, Letters of Sir Joshua Reynolds (Cambridge 1929), p. 67.
1 Leslie and Taylor, Reynolds, II, p. 268.
3 Of this statement Dr Cameron says (Sir Joseph Banks, p. 51), ‘In Banks's old age, at the request of his friend Robert Brown, the botanist, he dictated his recollections of his disappointment and the dispute’; and Dr Cameron prints it in his Appendix C, pp. 294–6. The statement is certainly in Brown's handwriting, and is bound up with his manuscript correspondence in the Botanical Library of the British Museum (Natural History), I, 17. It is undated, but probably was written in the last decade of Banks's life, as Brown did not succeed Dryander as his librarian till 1810. There is nothing to show that Banks dictated it to Brown, or that Brown asked for it: it is in fact a copy of the introduction to Banks's Iceland journal (see p. 84 above). Possibly, even, it was copied after Banks's death, as he willed all his books and papers to Brown for the latter's life; but with this reserve I let my statement in the text stand.
4 Lives of Men of Letters and Science, II, pp. 360–1.
To that he would have a rejoinder: at least he would have a rejoinder in 1782. He gave it in the letter just quoted, shortly before Solander's death: ‘Botany has been my favourite Science since my childhood; and the reason I have not published the account of my travels is that the first, from want of time necessarily brought on by the many preparations to be made for my second voyage, was intrusted to the care of Dr Hawkesworth; and since that I have been engag'd in a Botanical work which I hope soon to publish, as I have now near 700 folio plates prepar'd: it is to give an account of all the new plants discovered in my voyage round the world, somewhat above 800’.2 Solander died of a stroke, amid general grief, on 16 May 1782. The work subsequently stopped. Why should it have stopped? There were the plates, prepared at great expense to Banks, and there were Solander's MS volumes, fair-copied, containing the descriptive text for the whole voyage. As late as 1785, Banks was writing to a Swedish correspondent,
The botanical work with which I am at present occupied is nearing its conclusion. Solander's name will appear next to mine on the title-
1 Banks to Edward Hasted, D.T.C. II, p. 97 (evidently copied from a draft). This was in answer to a letter of 25 February 1782 asking for information for a county history (of Kent, into which Banks came through his marriage). Banks goes on, interestingly though somewhat indecipherably in the original, ‘or rather to their Commander Capt Cook, as guided and directed those which came after, as well as [word illegible] which was personally concern'd’.page 121 page because everything has been brought together through our common industry. There is hardly a single clause written in it, while he lived, in which he did not have a part. Since all the descriptions were made while the plants were fresh there is nothing left to do beyond completing those drawings which are not yet finished, and entering the synonyms in the books which we did not have with us or have just come out. All that remains to do is so little that it can be completed in two months if only the engraver can be brought to put the finishing touches to it. 1
2 ibid., p. 99
1 ‘Ueber Solander’, pp. 247–8.
2 Cameron, p. 74, and note from the Farington Diary, I, p. 61: ‘Some think Sir Joseph does not choose to encounter the opinion of the world on the merits of [his work], and, indeed, it is probable ill disposed criticks wd. not be wanting’. But this refers to the botanical work from the Endeavour voyage, Solander's work as well as Banks's, on which Banks could well snap his fingers at the criticks, however ill disposed.
1 Banks to Falconer, 2 April 1773, Hawley coll. Pennant, in his dedicatory epistle to Banks, was equally polite: ‘You took from me all temptation of envying your superior good fortune, by the liberal declaration you made that the Hebrides were my ground, and yourself, as you pleasantly expressed it, but an interloper. May I meet with such, in all my adventures!’ After such courtesies, the modern student derives a minor but undeniable pleasure from the use, in the British Museum, of Banks's own copy of the work, with Pennant's fly-leaf inscription ‘From the Author’, and Banks's name-stamp, the facsimile of his signature.
1 We get a hitherto unnoted illustration of this, just as Banks was moving into his maturity, in a letter from Anders Sparrman, who had been employed by the elder Forster as an assistant on Cook's second voyage, to George Forster, 25 July 1777: ‘As for Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander please to remember me to them in the best terms; I am very much obliged to the Former for his kind offer of 60L. a year, but it is too small a salary for me to subsist on in England, besides I do not know all that I should have to do. Please to excuse me in the best terms.’—Johann Georg Forsters Briefwechsel… (Leipzig 1829), II, p. 705.
2 Why, then, the great Banks library, Dryander's catalogue alone of which ran to five octavo volumes and 2464 pages? Simply because it was a scientific library exclusively, a Bibliotheca historico-naturalis. The catalogue appeared between 1796 and 1800.—Banks had certainly read Ossian, as we have seen, and Johnson's Tour to the Hebrides.
1 Davy's remarks are in the Memoirs of the Life of Sir Humphry Davy, Bart., by his brother, John Davy (1836), II, pp. 126–7. Banks was defended against some of them by his warm admirer Sir John Barrow, who thought that the phrases, ‘a tolerable botanist’, ‘a lover of gross flattery’, ‘a house like a court’ were ‘unfounded and unjust’.—Sketches of the Royal Society and the Royal Society Club (1849), p. 40. No one can go through the Banks correspondence without seeing that he was subjected to gross flattery, and apparently had no difficulty in swallowing it; but whether it made any difference to his constitution, in his later life, is a different matter. He certainly preferred to be addressed with due respect and could adopt a lofty tone, but with certain of his difficult and complaining correspondents—e.g. Caley—he exhibited a remarkable forbearance. He was never affected again, so far as one can see, as he had been after the return of the Endeavour. James Britten, after careful study, thought it was clear that Banks ‘had much more botanical knowledge than was at one time supposed’.—Introduction to Illustrations of the Botany of Captain Cook's Voyage round the World, Part III, 1904, last page (this introduction is unpaginated).
2 Joseph Gradock, Literary and Miscellaneous Memoirs (1828), I, p. 117.