Banks Was a happy man. When he stepped into London he stepped into glory. The newspapers were all Mr Banks, and Mr Banks's voyage, Mr, Banks and Dr Solander, once, or twice Dr Solander and Mr Banks; they had touched at near forty undiscovered islands, they had brought back over a thousand different species of plants, unknown in Europe before, they had brought back seventeen thousand plants, never before seen in this kingdom; Mr Banks was presented to the King by Lord Beauchamp at St James's Palace; Dr Solander and Mr Banks, accompanied by Sir John Pringle, the president of the Royal Society, had the honour of a conference with His Majesty at Richmond, on the discoveries they had made on their late voyage; they presented His Majesty with a coronet of gold, set round with feathers, which had been given them by a chief on the coast of Chile; Lady Mary Coke saw them at Court, they were the most talked of people at present; the celebrated Mr Banks was to have two ships from Government to pursue bis discoveries in the South Seas, and would sail next March; the celebrated Mr Banks would shortly make another voyage to St George's Island, in the South Seas, and it was said, that Government would allow him three ships, with men, arms, and provisions, in order to plant and settle a colony there. Such talk went on throughout August, but when the nonsense died down the gentlemen did not cease to be objects of interest. Banks did not need to bring back a lion or tiger or a Tupaia; he was a lion himself. The nobility called at his house to see his curiosities. In November he and his friend were called to Oxford to become doctors of civil law. Their friend Ellis of course wrote to Linnaeus, and Linnaeus touched extravagant heights of excitement: New South Wales, he thought, should be named Banksia, botanists should raise a statue to the ‘immortal Banks’ more enduring than the Pyramids. It was intoxicating. It was not entire happiness, even in that wonderful August. There was Miss Harriet Blosset, and there was Stanfield Parkinson. Miss Blosset was the young woman
to whom Banks had betrothed himself shortly before he left England, whom he did not hasten to meet when he set foot in England again, from whom his efforts to extricate himself did not seem to his friends to be altogether gentlemanly. He managed it.1 Stanfield Parkinson was the brother of Sydney Parkinson, and his executor, an upholsterer to whom Banks immediately gave employment, with whom he almost as soon came at loggerheads over Sydney's possessions. Stanfield was unbalanced and badly advised, Banks was cavalier and dilatory, though generous; the quarrel blew up to the publication the following year by Stanfield of his brother's ‘journal’, and its absorption in public policy.2
Meanwhile Cook, who remained attached to Mrs Cook, was not still in his twenties, had not a place in society or a house in New Burlington Street frequented by the nobility, nor plants to present to the Dowager Princess of Wales, pursued a more sober course. Certainly he must have sped to Mile End, to his Elizabeth—and probably with some anxious thoughts about his family; for it was not a time when children could be confidently expected to survive any given three years. James and Nathaniel, those able-bodied seamen, were flourishing, the first rising eight years old, the second between six and seven; but the little Elizabeth had died three months before her father's return, at the age of four, and the baby Joseph must be ever a shade. This home-coming we can only imagine. The official side is plainer. Cook had made further reports to the Admiralty, on the ship, on Dr Knight's azimuth compasses, on the health of the ship's company, their diet and the precautions taken against scurvy; had tendered a special report to the Victualling Board, in terms of high praise, on ‘Sour Krautt’. He was anxious to get promotion for some of his men. There were the ‘Curiosity's’ he had collected on the voyage to sort and pack and send to the Admiralty, accounts to pass, no doubt Royal Society officials to communicate with in person as well as by letter. There was a great deal for the Society to print in its Philosophical Transactions for 1771—much more than a simple account of the Transit. He would write to Maskelyne in the following year about the South Sea tides, and that communication would be printed too.3 There were other letters to write, like that to George Monkhouse of Cumberland on the affairs of his two dead sons.
He bade goodbye to his ship, which before the end of July, her
company dispersed, was docked at Woolwich, to be resheathed and fitted to carry stores to the Falkland Islands. The Lords were a little slower in dealing with her commander. They met on 1 August. The next day the Secretary wrote Cook a letter, ‘sent to him at his house at Mile End’. His own letters had been received, ‘with the several Journals and Charts to which you therein refer me. And having laid the same before my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty I have the pleasure to acquaint you that their Lordships extremely well approve of the whole of your proceedings and that they have great satisfaction in the account you have given them of the good behaviour of your Officers and Men and of the chearfulness and alertness with which they went through the fatigues and dangers of their late voyage.’1
The promotions he had made were confirmed. Those he had asked for were made. Then, a little late, perhaps, a month after his return, he was himself promoted. To judge from the terms of a letter to Banks, it does not seem probable that, as his first biographer states, he asked to be made a post-captain,2
and was refused. If it had been so, we might have been more surprised by the request—so quite out of character—than by the refusal; for the Admiralty had no ships for post-captains just then. It also had no precedent for rewarding brilliance in Cook's line of duty; and we need not suspect that either it or Cook thought it was being less than just in merely moving him one step up the ladder. Nor need we be surprised that Cook got the news first from Banks, a friend of the Earl of Sandwich, who had been First Lord since January of that year, 1771. He writes to Banks on a Sunday morning from Will's Coffee-house at Charing Cross, having, it seems, just received a missive from him.
Your very obliging letter was the first Messenger that conveyed to me Lord Sandwich's intentions. Promotion unsolicited to a man of my station in life must convey a satisfaction to the mind that is better conceived than described—I had this morning the honour to wait upon his Lordship who renewed his promises to me, and in so obliging and polite a manner as convinced me that he approved of the Voyage. The reputation I may have acquired on this account by which I shall receive promotion calls to my mind the very great assistance I received therein from you, which will ever be remembered with most gratefull Acknowledgments….3
Why Lord Sandwich could not himself convey his intentions to Cook, that Sunday morning, we do not know: perhaps he had deputed the pleasing office to Banks as one of friendship. We do not know either what the promises were that he renewed so obligingly: perhaps they included promotion, perhaps they included something to which Cook had given a great deal more thought, another voyage. He did something which Banks certainly could not do when on 14 August he introduced Cook in his turn to the King at St James's, so that the monarch could have the voyage and the charts explained to him at first hand; and George in his turn handed Cook his commission as a commander. At the end of the month this was particularised; he was to command the Scorpion sloop, a converted fire-ship, which was to take part in a large campaign for correcting the charts of the English coast.1 This was a natural ship for his talents, if his talents were to be employed at home. It is possible, however, that the appointment was only a formal one, to safeguard his pay; for there was much more in the wind than the charts of the English coasts. With him to the Scorpion went Pickersgill, promoted lieutenant, Perry the surgeon, young Isaac Smith, Nowell the carpenter and Forwood the gunner.
John Walker of Whitby wrote to Cook, and Cook wrote two letters to him, a short and a long one, which gave him a conspectus of the voyage. The first, of 17 August, is interesting because it shows Cook, somewhat in the presence of his old master and a familiar friend, divesting himself of a little of the modesty he more habitually wore.
Your very obliging letter came safe to hand for which and your kind enquiry after my health I return you my most sincere thanks—I should have wrote much sooner but have been in expectation for several days past of an Order to make my Voyage Publick after which I could have wrote with freedom; as this point is not yet determined upon I lay under some restraint I may however venter to inform you that the Voyage has fully Answered the expectation of my Superiors I had the Honour of a hours Conference with the King the other day who was pleased to express his Approbation of my Conduct in Terms that were extremely pleasing to me—I however have made no very great Discoveries yet I have exploar'd more of the Great South Sea than all that have gone before me so much that little remains now to be done to have a thorough knowledge of that part of the Globe I sayled from England as well provided for such a voyage as possible and a better ship for such a Service I never would wish for.
A few lines take him round the Horn ‘without ever being once brought under our close reefed Topsails, however we had no want of Wind’; at Tahiti he had ‘an Extraordinary good Observation of the Transit of Venus’; up to his visit to the neighbouring islands the voyage was ‘very agreeable and pleasent, the remainder was What I must refer to some other oppertunity to enter upon. Should I come into the North I shall certainly call upon you and am with great respect’ Mr Walker's most obliged humble servant.1
The other opportunity he made on 13 September, skimming from his journal the cream of his descriptions of the islands—‘Was I to give a full discription of those Islands the Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants &ca it would far exceed the bounds of a letter, I must therefore quit these Terrestrial Paridises in order to follow the Course of our Voyage’—New Zealand and New South Wales, including the perils of the reef and the aboriginal Eden-dwellers, ‘far more happier than we Europeans’; and then Batavia, ‘all in good hilth and high spirits’, and the dreadful reversal. The interest of the Whitby circle, to which this circumnavigator had so intimately belonged, must have been highly aroused. Then some things further for discussion:
If any intresting circumstance's should occur to me that I have omited, will here after acquaint you with it, I however expect that my Lords commissioners of the Admiralty will very soon publish the whole Voyage, Charts &ca. Another Voyage is thought of, with two Ships which if it takes place I beleive the command will be confer'd upon me.2
There can be no doubt that Cook hoped there would be another voyage, and that he would command it. Indeed, he had sketched out its scope even before he handed over his journal to the Admiralty. There can be no doubt that the continental possibility had been a good deal discussed in the great cabin of the Endeavour
, both Banks and Cook discuss it in their journals. Banks, after scouting most of the arguments advanced for its existence, found himself still attracted by the idea of ice as an exclusively fresh water phenomenon, which must therefore have a land origin, taken, too, by the ‘signs of land’—seaweed, and a seal—that had been encountered in August and September 1769; he confesses that his reasons are weak, ‘yet I have a prepossession’, and concludes, ‘That a Southern Continent exists, I firmly beleive …’ But it must be situated in very high latitudes.3
Cook is negative where Banks is positive, but does allow a
little: ‘as to a Southern Continent I do not beleive any such thing exists unless in a high latitude.’ He pursues his argument particularly after his circumnavigation of New Zealand had proved that it, at any rate, provided no support for the great hypothesis. He considers the critical voyages of Quiros and Roggeveen: neither do they shore it up, however much Dalrymple may build on Quiros—‘hanging Clowds and a thick horizon are certainly no known Signs of a Continent, I have had many proofs to the contrary in the Course of this Voyage’. True, between his own tracks north from the Horn, and south from the Society Islands
, was unexplored ocean enough to accommodate a pretty large extent of northward-thrusting land—though not very much northward of 40°. But on what foundation might one suppose that it was there?—‘none that I know of but this that it must be either here or nowhere’. Well: what followed about the grand Object? ‘I think it would be a great pitty that this thing which at times has been the object of many ages and Nations should not now be wholy clear'd up, which might very easily be done in one Voyage without either much trouble or danger or fear of misscarrying as the Navigator would know where to go to look for it'; and if no continent was found, south of the equator waited a multitude of tropical islands to be discovered. Unless the ship were ordered to search in a high latitude (that is, south of 40°), she would not need to go west of longitude 145°, because between that longitude and New Zealand Cook had already been. Therefore she would always be within reach of Tahiti for refreshment. If she went in Tupaia's lifetime and took him she would always be assured of friendly reception and direction; ‘this would inable the Navigator to make his discoveries the more perfect and compleat’, because he would not be obliged to hurry for fear of wanting provisions.1
That last point is interesting: it shows Cook with a plan for discovery in which an essential part was played by a base, Tahiti—or at least by places of call which would fill the functions of a base. By the time he came to write the postscript to his journal, perhaps drafted at the Cape, he had had further thought, and his projected discoveries by no means envisage any possible confinement to a segment of ocean north of latitude 40° S and east of longitude 145° W. Like Banks, he has discussed the French interest in Tahiti, and the importance of fixing by publication the British prior right. He continues and concludes with an important paragraph:
Now I am upon the subject of discoveries I hope it will not be taken a Miss if I give it as my opinion that the most feasable Method of making
further discoveries in the South Sea is to enter it by the way of New Zeland, first touching and refreshing at the Cape of Good Hope, from thence proceed to the Southward of New Holland for Queen Charlottes Sound where again refresh Wood and Water, takeing care to be ready to leave that place by the latter end of September or beginning of October at farthest, when you would have the whole summer before you and after geting through the Straight might, with the prevailing Westerly winds, run to the Eastward in as high a Latitude as you please and, if you met with no lands, would have time enough to get round Cape Horne before the summer was too far spent, but if after meeting with no Continent & you had other Objects in View, than haul to the northward and after visiting some of the Islands already discover'd, after which proceed with the trade wind back to the Westward in search of those before Mintioned thus the discoveries in the South Sea would be compleat.1
This clearly was an advance, towards both a larger scope in the amount of ocean to be covered, and economy of effort in taking advantage of the winds that were how known to prevail. If anything like the traditional continent did exist, this would hit it in the middle, and naturally there would be some enforced modification or elaboration of the plan. If it did not, then the plan need not be modified, but could be elaborated by as many other ‘Objects in View’ as came into the mind of the discoverer. One of these might be Tahiti, though Cook does not now specifically name it; others might be the islands ‘before Mintioned’ by Tupaia. The base whence the spring into the Pacific is now to be taken is New Zealand, more pointedly Queen Charlotte's Sound. To this plan Banks, who gives a version of it something, though not quite, the same, adds a little appendix of his own. Such a voyage, he thinks, ‘as a Voyage of Mere Curiosity, should be promoted by the Royal Society to whoom I doubt not but his majesty would upon a proper application grant a ship, as the subject of such a voyage seems at least as interesting to Science in general and the increase of knowledge’ as the observation of the transit of Venus.2 If Cook nourished that sentiment, he did not utter it. He continued to develop inwardly the plan of a voyage; but the voyage which on 13 September he told Walker was being thought of was probably the voyage as adumbrated by himself, with the addition of a second ship. The memory of the Barrier Reef was still with him. The voyage, in fact, was not merely being thought of, it was determined on, and on 25 September the Admiralty instructed the Navy Board to purchase two proper vessels, of about 400 tons, for service in remote parts.3
Cook was henceforth a busy man. He might have been even busier if he had had to defend himself in an action brought against him by Matthew Cox, one of the men he had punished at the Bay of Islands in New Zealand for robbing native gardens. Cox—hardly old enough to be complete sea-lawyer, perhaps the victim of some London land lawyer—evidently still resented his irons and lashes. The Admiralty solicitor took the matter in hand, and it drops from the records.1
Cook's immediate business therefore was with shipping; for the Navy Board
, in pursuance of the Admiralty's instructions, asked him to see what could be bought. Bought: because of the sort of ship required, no navy ship. He would have been willing to sail in the Endeavour
again, but she was otherwise intended. Something as much like the Endeavour
as possible, therefore, must be obtained, for the same reasons which urged the selection of the Endeavour
; and as he went over the Pool of London he had a clear picture in his mind. He knew the arguments for larger ships, or faster-sailing ships, East Indiamen, three-decked West Indiamen, frigates, and he knew that they were all wrong. The great danger in voyages of discovery was running aground on an unknown coast: the great desideratum was to keep the sea for long periods of time. The ship must therefore be of burden and capacity enough to carry a large quantity of provisions and stores, without drawing a great amount of water; she must be strongly enough constructed to take the ground, and not too large to be laid on shore for repair. Ships of this sort were those built in the north country for the coal trade: there were no others. It was unfit ships, not unfit men, that before the Endeavour
stood in the way of progress in discovery. ‘It was upon these considerations’, says Cook, that the Endeavour
was chosen for her enterprise.2
‘It was to these Properties in her, those onboard owe their Preservation. Hence I was enabled to prosecute Discoveries in those Seas so much longer than any other Man ever did or could do. And altho’ discovery was not the first object of that Voyage, I could venture, to traverse a far greater space of Sea, before then unnavigated; to discover greater Tracks of Country in high and low South Latitudes; and even to explore and Survey the extensive Coasts of those new discover'd Countries, than was ever performed before during one Voyage.'3
So, again, he comes a little through his modesty, but only to exalt his ship. So, naturally, without hurry, he picked on three colliers or barks, and of these the Navy Board
early in November bought two,
the Marquis of Granby
and the Marquis of Rockingham.1
The first was 462 tons (so a larger ship than the Endeavour
by almost 100 tons), the second 340 tons; the lower deck length of the first was 111 feet, her beam 35 feet; those measurements for the second 97 feet and 28 feet; in both the hold had a depth of 13 feet.2
Both came from the Fishburn yard at Whitby, like the Endeavour
; the first was fourteen months old, the second eighteen, and they were, in Cook's opinion, as well adapted for their intended purpose as if they had been built for it. They were bought from Captain William Hammond of Hull, who may have been known to Cook already; certainly the men were on friendly terms later. On 27 November the Admiralty decided that they should be registered as sloops under the names Drake
, sheathed and filled as the Endeavour
had been, the Drake
to carry twelve guns and 120 men, the Raleigh
ten guns and 80 men and, indicating that thought had been proceeding for some time already, simultaneously the principal officers and warrant officers were named. Cook went to the Drake
, with Robert Palliser Cooper and Charles Clerke, first and second lieutenants; Tobias Furneaux
, commander, to the Raleigh
, with Joseph Shank, first lieutenant. These commissions and warrants were signed on 28 November; next day another was made out for Pickersgill to be third lieutenant Drake.3
Manifestly, it was not only the purchase of ships that had been going on.
The commander Drake
was instructed in the usual formula. His ship was in dry dock at Deptford; he was ‘hereby required and directed to use the utmost dispatch in getting her ready for the Sea accordingly, and then falling down to Gallions Reach take in her Guns and Gunners Stores at that place and then proceed to the Nore’ for further orders.4
It was hoped that this ‘voyage to remote parts’ might start in March, which allowed upwards of four months for getting the ship ready under Cook's direction. After that first voyage, his standing with the Admiralty and its departments was as high as any man's ever was, and his direction was almost sovereign. He was perhaps fortunate in the men who now presided over the Lords Commissioners and the Navy Board—though it is hard to think that any other men would not have been as agreeable. But John Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich, whatever might be said against his personal and political morals—his enemies said a great
deal endlessly—was a perceptive and able man, of knowledge and charm, who rapidly became Cook's friend as well as admirer. It was one thing for Sandwich to entertain his young friend Banks at Hinchinbrook, his Huntingdonshire seat; it was another thing for a First Sea Lord to treat a commander on such terms of familiarity. It may seem less surprising that Captain Palliser, who had become Comptroller of the Navy, or head of the Navy Board
, in the previous year, was as firm a friend; for this was the Palliser of the Eagle
and the Newfoundland command. Professionally he knew Cook as well as anyone did; officially, as general manager of naval ships, their equipment and supply, he was the key to the commander's happiness at this moment; and he was on excellent terms with Sandwich. We may add among friends, as Cook added, Sir John Williams, the Surveyor of the Navy; we may give Cook's own summary of the process now begun; ‘the Victualling Board was also very attentive in procuring the very best of every kind of Provisions in short every department seem'd to vie with each other in equiping these two Sloops: every standing Rule and order in the Navy was dispenced with, every alteration, every necessary and usefull article was granted as soon as ask'd for.'1
To illustrate this, one need only glance over the correspondence of the next month or so. Cook perfects his technique of calling at offices, explaining what he wanted, writing his letter on the spot, and getting an immediate answer. The day the Navy Board
reports to the Admiralty the purchase of the ships, the Victualling Board seeks authority to supply the salted cabbage Cook has already asked for—additional to the sauerkraut he was to get, and as he thought, equally good. Extra wheat, extra portable soup, extra oatmeal and spirits, sugar instead of perishable currants and almonds, rob of oranges and lemons, stockfish, extra tools, ice-anchors and hatchets, extra anchors, better quality seine nets, deck-awnings, patent medicines—a great quantity of Dr James's Fever Powders, that astonishing eighteenth-century remedy for everything, officially recommended in the naval regulations—better compasses (this time one of ‘Mr
Gregorys Azimuth Compass's of an improved construction’), ‘warping machines’ such as Cook had seen in use by the Portland
: all and more were furnished—even the warping machines which the Navy Board
could not at first comprehend. One thing was denied him, in spite of the total compliance for which he thanked the departments: he wanted brass in place of iron for the metal furnishings in his great cabin, which seems a reasonable enough request
considering the prospects of rust before him; but here regulations stood firm, iron it must be except for locks, and he had to pay for brass door-hinges himself. On the Admiralty side, the voyage was regarded as an excellent opportunity for experiment, particularly in antiscorbutics, and correspondents from outside were positively encouraged to send in their recipes. The Baron Storsch, of Berlin, was particularly enthusiastic about a marmalade of yellow carrots he had invented, and a quantity was made; Dr Priestley, the eminent chemist, had a device for sweetening water by applying ‘fixed air’ or carbon dioxode to it, and the papers were passed on to Cook. Mr Irving's apparatus for rendering salt water fresh, and Lieutenant Orsbridge's machines for rendering stinking water sweet, were fitted; Mr Irving's improved fire-hearth was tried and rejected by Cook as unimproved before the ship was out of dock. Mr Pelham, secretary to the Victualling Board, had a recipe for experimental beer, based on a wort of boiled-down malt: that, too, was to be tried. There was the usual supply of trade goods. Cook, as usual, had his ‘mathematical instruments’ repaired or renewed.1
In the midst of all this there were social obligations. We may wish we knew more about them. One sort is witnessed by a stray letter, proof of amiability, that has somehow survived from Cook to Mr Joseph Cockfield, not a man, evidently, interested in voyages to remote parts. ‘Sir,’ it runs,
Mr Colier at Deptford Victualling Office acquented me some time ago with your desire of seeing some of Mr Banks's rare Plants &ca—If you will please to let me know on what morng you can go to Mr Banks's and I will engage that gentleman or Dr Solander to be at home and will at the same time attend you my self I can meet you any where between Mile end and Newburlington Street… . P.S. Next Monday or Tuesday I believe will suit Mr Banks.
This letter gives a more detailed address for Cook than he usually supplies—‘Next Door to Curtis's Wine Vaults Mile end 10th Decr
A letter which casts more significant light on his movements is one of 14 December to the Admiralty Secretary. This was his application for three weeks' leave of absence, ‘Having some business to transact down in Yorkshire as well as to see an Aged Father’.3
What the business can have been it is impossible to guess, unless it were connected with his father's small affairs. Cook's mother had
died in 1765,1
and it may have been now that his father, aged 77, left the cottage he had built at Ayton in 1755 to live with his daughter Margaret Fleck, the fisherman's wife, on the coast not far away at Redcar. Elizabeth, the Londoner, went the journey with her husband, probably to make the acquaintance for the first time of her relatives by marriage. Cook himself made at least one new acquaintance, who became a firm friend. This was Commodore William Wilson, late of the East India Company's service, the discoverer in 1758 of the Pitt Passage between the Moluccas and New Guinea to China, who had retired to live at Great Ayton. His wife was the sister of George Jackson
, the Admiralty secretary. It was a long time since Cook had been the apprentice seaman at Whitby, but the progress of the commander in the royal navy had been well enough noted there, and his circumnavigation, and the eminence of Whitbybuilt ships; and when on the last day of the year he rode over from Ayton to see Walker and his other friends the gentlemen of Whitby rode out to meet him at Swarthowe Cross, on the edge of the moor.2
In Walker's house old Mary Prowd, the housekeeper who had given a candle to light his earliest mathematical studies, forgot all instruction on the respect due to personages and officers, threw her arms round him and cried, ‘Oh honey James! How glad I is to see thee!’3
One hopes he was wearing his uniform. From Ayton after this warming visit, he wrote to Captain Hammond at Hull.
I am sorry to acquaint you that it is now out of my power to meet you at Whitby nor will it be convenient to return by way of Hull as I had resolved upon but three days ago Mrs Cook being but a bad traveler I was prevailed upon to lay that rout aside on account of the reported badness of the roads and therefore took horse on Tuesday Morng and road over to Whitby and returned yesterday. Your friends at that place expect to see you every day. I have only my self to blame for not having the pleasure of meeting you there. I am inform'd by letter from Lieutt Cooper that the Admiralty have altered the names of the Ships from Drake to Resolution and Raleigh to Adventurer which, in my opinion are much properer than the former. I set out for London to morrow morning, shall only stop a day or two at York.4
Within a few days more he was back supervising his ship, and could learn the reason for the change of names.
It was a matter of the international amenities, and a little caution. Lord Rochford, one of the secretaries of state, considered that the names Drake and Raleigh would give great offence to the Spaniards, irritated enough already by the idea of British ships in the Pacific, with whom the quarrel over British settlement on the Falkland Islands had been patched up for less than a year; for they were names detested in Spain. Rochford had consulted the king, and at his wish wrote privately a ‘hint’ to Sandwich. ‘What do you think of the Aurora and the Hisperus which two names are just come into my head?’1 Sandwich evidently did not think much of them, though he was not wedded to those originally given. He wrote back on Christmas Day, ‘My Dear Lord/The names pitched upon for the two Discovery ships are the Resolution & Adventure’;2 and so, whoever chose them, those two famous names came into the history of the ocean. New commissions and warrants were issued to the officers.
—how inevitable it now sounds!—was being fitted out at Deptford, the Adventure
at Woolwich, and on 6 February the former came out of dry dock. Cook, brooding still over his ‘present intended voyage’, and how he intended it—and perhaps thinking that, in spite of delays now only too apparent, he might within a few weeks be at sea; thinking anyhow of the drawing up of his instructions, on that day addressed himself to Sandwich. ‘My Lord/I beg leave to lay before your Lordship a Map of the Southern Hemisphere Shewing the Discoveries that have been made up to 1770, to which is subjoined my opinion respecting the rout to be pursued by the Resolution and Adventure All which are humbly submited to Your Lordships Consideration… .’3
His opinion had, as it were, taken a step further south from the Postscript he had written six months before, and another step further east. His intention expanded by a sort of geographical logic. For, in the first place, even if the continent stretched north at about longitude 140° west, its greater extent might be in a really high latitude; and in the second place, to come home from the Horn would leave a regrettable hiatus, with the southern Atlantic unexplored, where a continental mass might equally lie. The problem was not simply a Pacific problem. He had, we may be certain, since his return to England been enquiring more deeply into the history of exploration. No doubt he had read
Carteret's journal, and he must have studied exhaustively Dalrymple's Historical Collection
, which became a continual point of reference for him; but those were Pacific documents. He had also in mind the French Lozier Bouvet, a man he admired, who, looking for some coast which might provide a way-station for French voyages to the East Indies, had found it south-east of the Cape of Good Hope
in a Cape Circumcision—icy, forbidding, hardly sighted before it was lost in cloud and fog; nevertheless, Bouvet felt, a cape indeed, the projection of a shore along which he had subsequently run for some distance. This was in 1739. He could never get a second voyage. Then Dalrymple had turned his attention to the Atlantic, publishing in 1769 a South Atlantic chart, which showed, fifteen degrees east of the Horn, land and a huge opening to stretch far below the sixtieth parallel, the ‘Gulf of St Sebastian’. The accompanying memoir displayed his method. He had taken his continent, with astounding faith, from the 1587 world map of Abraham Ortelius
, incorporating it with such more reliable features as the tracks of Bouvet, and of Halley's Paramour
Pink in 1700. Cook, composing his map for Sandwich, marked on it Cape Circumcision, and also, less trustingly, ‘Gulf of St
Sebastian Very Doub[t]full’. They signified work to be done. So, in the memorandum he composed to go with it, the arguments of his Postscript are not merely repeated but enlarged: the possible break north before passing the Horn becomes compulsory, another base for recruitment is added in Tahiti, and the port at which discovery finishes is to be the Cape. He writes:
Upon due consideration of the discoveries that have been made in the Southern Ocean, and the tracks of the Ships which have made these discoveries; it appears that no Southern lands of great extent can extend to the Northward of 40° of Latitude, except about the Meridian of 140° West, every other part of the Southern Ocean have at different times been explored to the northward of the above parallel. Therefore to make new discoveries the Navigator must Traverse or Circumnavigate the Globe in a higher parallel than has hitherto been done, and this will be best accomplished by an Easterly Course on account of the prevailing westerly winds in all high Latitudes. The principle thing to be attended to is the proper Seasons of Year, for Winter is by no means favourable for discoveries in these Latitudes; for which reason it is humbly proposed that the Ships may not leave the Cape of Good Hope before the latter end of September or beginning of October, when having the whole summer before them may safely Steer to the Southward and make their way to New Zealand, between the parallels of 45° and 60° or in as high a Latitude as the weather and other circumstances will admit. If no land is discoveried in this rout the Ships will be obliged to touch at New Zealand to recrute their water.
From New Zealand the same rout must be continued to Cape Horn, but before this can be accomplished they will be overtaken by Winter, and must seek Shelter in the more Hospitable Latitudes, for which purpose Otahieta will probably be found to be the most convenient, at, and in its Neighbourhood the Winter Months may be spent, after which they must steer to the Southward and continue their rout for Cape Horn in the Neighbourhood of which they may again recrute their water, and afterwards proceed for the Cape of Good Hope.
On the map the tracks laid down were those of Tasman, Wallis, Bougainville and the Endeavour, with the routes of the East Indiamen on their regular voyages; added to them was a broad yellow ribbon round the Pole, weaving in and out of the sixtieth parallel.
The yellow line on the Map shews the track I would propose the Ships to make, Supposeing no land to intervene, for if land is discovered the track will be altered according to the directing of the land, but the general rout must be pursued otherwise some part of the Southern Ocean will remain unexplored.1
Sandwich was too intelligent a man to need all this, but he may have asked for it, and it may have been useful with colleagues.
This grand strategy, this main theme, was to be adopted. Set in it there was to be another, which had not hitherto interested Cook—the proving of the chronometer, as a mode of determining longitude. His devotion to the lunar method, by the end of his first voyage, is clear. He did not see why the generality of sea officers should not master this. He paid them too high a compliment; a more direct method was still needed. It was presented by the fourth chronometer John Harrison
made, the model that was tested first on a voyage to Jamaica, and then, by Maskelyne himself, on the Barbados voyage of 1764, when it gave so remarkable a result. In spite of its accuracy, the Board of Longitude, not noted for rashness, settled down to make difficulties over paying the reward; but Harrison, who had difficulty explaining clearly in words what he could put together so beautifully in practice, did, in 1765, get half, £10,000, on condition of handing over all four of his models.2
Of the fourth, a very large flat watch in appearance, an exact duplicate was made by Larcum Kendall
, an excellent craftsman of Furnival's Inn Court, London; and it was with this, and with other chronometers made by John Arnold
of the Adelphi, on principles of his own,
that the Board was now concerned. The man chiefly concerned, as organiser, was the Astronomer Royal. Maskelyne, as we have seen, dominated both the Board of Longitude and, on astronomical matters, the Council of the Royal Society, which came into the plans for this voyage only by giving its advice when asked; there is no doubt that if machinery was to be vindicated against his own lunar method, its performance was to be most stringently tested. Kendall's duplicate would go the voyage; so would three of Arnold's machines—one that had been under trial at the Royal Observatory for a year, two that had been rather hurriedly ordered and most inadequately tried.1
Stringent testing would mean constant astronomical observation and calculation. There were other matters, physical and hydrographical, on which the Board wanted regular observation; by the time Maskelyne had finished with the instructions it was obvious that the observers would have their hands full. Maskelyne put his basic proposals to Sandwich as early as October 1771; the Board deliberated and decided from November 1771 to May 1772, borrowed instruments from the Royal Society
, made over its own, including a great many specially bought, took into account the Royal Society's (that is, Maskelyne's) thoughts on instructions. Its chosen observers, on the proposal of Maskelyne ‘and the other professors’ (those of astronomy at the universities) were Mr William Wales
and Mr William Bayly
, at £400 per annmu each.2
Mr Bayly contrived a portable observatory that was later highly spoken of by Wales, and they were supplied with one each. The Admiralty was asked to direct the commanders of the sloops to give the gentlemen assistance and support whenever they might stand in need of it.
There must have been more social life for Cook in London than we know of, as well as some disagreeables. He seems to have been on good terms with the gentlemen of the Royal Society
. He met at Hinchinbrook the gregarious and friendly Dr Charles Burney, the musician, who knew practically everybody, and Burney took the chance to put in a word for his twenty-one-year-old son James, who had been in the navy since the age of ten.3
The Doctor was successful, and the Burney family was raised to a high pitch of excitement at the prospect of their James sailing with the great navigator. Cook
apparently became a visitor, and there was one dinner at least at Queen Square in February 1773 when Burney drew him out over a copy of Bougainville's Voyage autour du Monde
which was lying on a table. Burney wanted to know how Cook's track round the world compared with the other; and ‘Captain Cooke instantly took a pencil from his pocket-book, and said he would trace the route; which he did in so clear and scientific a manner, that I would not take fifty pounds for the book. The pencil marks having been fixed by skin milk, will always be visible.’1
Presumably it was the Cook of this period, perhaps even of this visit, that Fanny (or rather, Madame d'Arblay) went on to describe in the Burney Memoirs
: ‘This truly great man appeared to be full of sense and thought; well-mannered, and perfectly unpretending; but studiously wrapped up in his own purposes and pursuits; and apparently under a pressure of mental fatigue when called upon to speak, or stimulated to deliberate, upon any other.’2
There may be no more here than that Cook was less volatile than nineteen-year-old Fanny, not so ready on the newest novel or opera. Burney had already played a small but not negligible part in the story; for much earlier, in September 1771, he had met Sandwich at Lord Orford's Houghton, when the First Lord was casting round for someone to ‘write the voyage’—that is, to take Cook's journal and put it into a form suitable for the reading of the polite world; and not only Cook's journal, but those of the three other circumnavigators, Byron, Wallis and Carteret. Cook and Banks, we remember, were patriotically anxious that this should be done as soon as possible, and it was all the more important to get something authentic on the market because of the temptation put by the booksellers in the way of anyone who could provide a connected narrative of a hundred pages or so. Burney recommended his friend Dr John Hawkesworth
, who had time and could do with the money; even as he did so Messrs Becket and de Hondt, of the Strand, were rushing forward their anonymous Journal of a Voyage
round the World … containing All the various Occurrences of the Voyage
, which appeared before the end of this same September.1
‘As to Mr Becket, and his Catch-penny, the subject is so interesting that there is no putting the book down,’ wrote a naval correspondent of Banks's, Captain Bentinck, ‘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.’2
Hawkesworth was an experienced journalist, who imitated Dr Johnson's style with some success; when Sandwich accepted his nomination a considerable responsibility, therefore, rested on him to be accurate as well as interesting. He was the envy of all his fellow-practitioners. Sandwich made over all the captains' journals to him, and got Banks to lend his journal too for the writer to use at will.3
Hawkesworth was left to make his own bargain with the booksellers, and made a very satisfactory one. They were convinced that he would anyhow be interesting. Garrick, who also claimed to have recommended Hawkesworth to Sandwich, was annoyed that he did not arrange publication with his own bookseller and friend Becket, of the anonymous journal. But Becket, explained Hawkesworth, would not give him more than £2000 for the copyright, and, ‘having had applications from half the Booksellers in London, none of whom offered me more than five thousand pounds without allowing me a single Copy, Mr
Strahan offered me six thousand, & to furnish me with all the Copies that I had engaged to give away, which, being five & twenty, amounted to seventy five pounds….’4
Strahan, that is, swept everybody else aside; and though he had some second thoughts, he had them too late. The amount of £6075 compares very favourably with the wages of Cook, or even the combined wages of the four commanders who made the voyages; it was a great deal more than was paid for some of the most famous and successful books of the century; Hawkesworth would have to work hard to destroy interest. As to accuracy, the different accounts were to be subject to the perusal and emendation of all the commanders concerned. Because of Cook's expected early departure, the voyage of the Endeavour
was first prepared, two
volumes out of Hawkesworth's three, in little more than four months. If Cook expected to read them, or hear them read, he was disappointed; indeed, he had now to deal with the disagreeable consequences of Mr Joseph Banks
They were not all disagreeable. It was indeed a pleasant consequence that Banks should meet Dr Johnson and extract from him the famous distich for the collar of the famous goat, now browsing at Mile End in honourable retirement from naval service:
Perpetui, ambitâ bis terrâ, praemia lactis
Haec habet, altrici Capra secunda Jovis.
‘The globe twice circled, this the Goat, the second to the nurse of Jove, is thus rewarded for her never-failing milk.’1
It was a pleasantry that might have had to be explained to Cook. There were more serious things that Banks could do. As soon as the second voyage had been resolved upon, Sandwich had asked him if he would care to sail again. Certainly he would, and Dr Solander as well. He at once proceeded to make himself highly useful. He dealt, for example, with the order to Matthew Boulton for the striking of a medal to be distributed throughout the Pacific as a sign of British presence—the medal with the presentment of the two ships and the premature wording ‘Sailed from England March MDCCLXXII’. He was prepared to be a general scientific manager and consultant, to spend his own money as liberally as he had done on the first voyage, to recommend, recruit, expatiate. He was, unfortunately, prepared to go further; and having read the newspapers so much, talked in society so much, seen and heard the name ‘Mr Banks’ and the phrase ‘Mr Banks's voyage’ so often, had come to conceive of himself as a sort of presiding genius of exploration. From the moment it was known that he was to go on a second voyage communications descended upon him as if he were another department of state—in English, French, Latin, from London and the counties, France, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, making suggestions on every conceivable matter, asking for anything from the command of a ship to the essential parts of a whale; asking, the great majority of them, to go too. For some of them ruin, even suicide, is the alternative;
they ‘pant’ to go with Banks. It is not merely civilians, a little unhinged, who seek his patronage; seamen in the royal navy (including some from the Endeavour
) write to him rather than adopt a less dramatic mode of volunteering. They acknowledged his fame; they prophesied his immortality. Banks kept their letters.1
He knew it was to be a southern voyage. ‘O how Glorious would it be to set my heel upon the Pole! and turn myself round 360 degrees in a second’, he wrote to his French friend the Comte de Lauraguais. From what we can gather from his papers that was the extent of his geographical interest, though no doubt he would have been pleased to come upon the continent. But he was getting ready for most other things in the scientific line, and collecting what might be called a staff. He collected fifteen people in all, starting with the scientific Dr James Lind
from Edinburgh and the painter Zoffany, and going on to lesser draughtsmen, secretaries, servants—even two horn-players; which, with Solander and himself, made a supernumerary party of seventeen to be accommodated. The great catch was Lind. Banks had first made an offer to the more celebrated Joseph Priestley
, and then withdrawn it, on the ground that the professorial establishment of the Universities would veto a Unitarian minister.2
Solander was set to write to Lind, a pleasant young Scots physician and amateur astronomer, with general scientific interests, something of an inventer. He did so in high excitement. ‘Will You my Dear Doctor give us leave to propose You, to the Board of Longitude, as willing to go out as an Astronomer. Your well known character makes us all beg, pray & long for your affirmative answer… . Good God, we shall do wonders if you only will come and assist us.’3
The matter did not move quite as fast as Banks wanted, and it was February before the Council of the Royal Society recommended Lind to the Board of Longitude as a person who would be extremely useful, ‘on account of his skill and experience in his profession, and from his great Knowledge in Mineralogy, Chemistry, Mechanics, and various branches of Natural Philosophy; and also from his having spent several years in different climates, in the Indies.’4
The Board, having appointed its own men, paid no attention to this. Then Parliament was prevailed on to make a special grant of £4000 for the benefit of Dr Lind, ‘but what the discoveries were, the
Parliament meant he was to make, and for which they made so liberal a Vote, I know not',1
said Cook, who had not read the minutes of the Council, and was less certain of the mineralogy of the South Pole. Banks kept on talking and heaping up baggage. We are brought back to the Resolution
, in which almost all these persons were to sail.
The ship, we remember, was selected by Cook: ‘she was the ship of my choice and as I thought the fitest for the Service she was going upon of any I had ever seen.’2 That service was geographical discovery. She was not chosen as a passenger ship or a floating laboratory or an artist's studio, but precisely because she was what she was—a soundly-built collier, with adequate room for her crew and her stores. When Banks first saw her, he did not like her. Though she was larger than the Endeavour, he feared she was not large enough for him and his entourage, and he must already have begun to picture an entourage larger than his earlier one. ‘Mr Banks's voyage’, he could not forget, was a social and international sensation: he pictured a second Mr Banks's voyage which would be more sensational still, as well as even more scientifically valuable. Nor, it is to be feared, could he cease to take for granted his position as an English landed gentleman of very considerable estate; nor forget that the First Lord was his friend. While he remained scientifically disinterested, he had, a little prematurely, ‘given pledges to all Europe’, and he meant to astound all Europe. As the voyage was to be ‘his’ voyage, so—though it is improbable that he began by making too large claims—he was to be its real commander, Cook his executive officer, the ship's master rather than its captain. Mr Banks, we must conclude, had come by an unusually swelled head.
He was even prepared to dogmatise on nautical concerns; and he must have the vessel altered. Some adaptation was called for, as a matter of course. On some things it was indispensable to consult Banks. He thought he should be consulted on everything. From the start there was one firm obstacle in his way—Palliser. The Comptroller of the Navy was a good judge of ships, and he agreed entirely with Cook about the type of ship needed on this occasion; and beyond necessary details he did not want the ship altered at all. Banks removed that obstacle by going to Sandwich. The Navy Board—Palliser was not alone in his objection—was overruled. Cook's sentiments at the large reconstruction that followed can be established with a good deal of certainty. He disapproved, he was anxious to oblige Banks, he hoped for the best; he forced himself,
against all reasonable expectation and in spite of all naval experience, to think it might do. In the end the vessel got a heightened waist and an additional upper deck, necessarily solidly built, and a raised poop or ‘round-house’ on top to accommodate the captain, who had relinquished his own quarters—including the ‘great cabin’—to Banks. There could hardly be a greater sacrifice to friendship. Banks accepted it without hesitation, and complained about the cabin's size. The extra space otherwise provided, or its equivalent, was to be occupied by Banks's followers, and the staggering amount of impedimenta, useful or useless, which for months he was accumulating. This programme made the Resolution
the sight of the river: she was visited not merely by those whose business it was, but, as Cook remarked, by ‘many of all ranks … Ladies as well as gentlemen, for scarce a day past on which she was not crowded with Strangers who came on board for no other purpose but to see the Ship in which Mr
Banks was to sail round the world.’1
Whenever there was a hitch in the work, by which some little set-back to Banks seemed possible, he brought out his sovereign argument—he threatened not to go.
There would certainly be no March departure. By the end of April Cook was feeling alarm; at Long Reach the ship's draught, with guns and ordnance stores on board, was seventeen feet, but overbuilt as she was, she still looked as if she would prove crank; nevertheless he restrained himself till she had a full trial, and even had twenty tons of ballast taken out. Sandwich had been down to look at the work several times, ‘a laudable tho rare thing in a first Lord of the Admiralty’,2
and on 2 May he, the French ambassador, and other ‘persons of distinction’ were entertained on board by Banks. Twelve days later came the crisis. Ordered to the Downs, the ship moved on the 10th. At the Nore, on the 14th, the pilot gave up. She was so top-heavy that she could hardly carry sail without capsizing. Cooper, the first lieutenant, in charge of her, gave Cook his opinion that she was ‘an exceeding dangerous and unsafe ship’; and the more ebullient Clerke gave his to Banks: ‘By God I'll go to Sea in a Grog Tub, if desir'd, or in the Resolution as soon as you please; but must say I think her by far the most unsafe Ship I ever saw or heard of.'3
Cook's error of judgment in hoping that all might be well stared at him, and he immediately told the Admiralty secretary that the upper works would have to be cut down again. A day of rapid communications
between Admiralty and Navy Board
settled the matter: the Resolution
was to go back to Sheerness, the round-house and new upper deck to be removed, the guns reduced in weight; within a week it was resolved to shorten the masts as well. The passengers would have to fit the ship, not the ship the passengers. The effect on Banks, when he saw what was in train, was staggering. To quote the memoirs of the then young midshipman John Elliott, ‘Mr
Banks came to Sheerness and when he saw the ship, and the Alterations that were made, He swore and stamp’d upon the Warfe, like a Mad Man; and instantly order'd his servants, and all his things out of the Ship.'1
Or if that summarises too much, the result was no other. This time the Admiralty took Banks at his word.
Rumours and counter-rumours flew, about the ship's behaviour in the merchant service. While the remedial work was going forward, Cook wrote from Sheerness to Hammond, whom he thought was in London, on 28 May, in terms of urgent intimacy: ‘Dear Sir
As you cannot be Ignornant [sic] of what is said in Town for and againest the Resolution, I beg you will sit down and give me a full detail thereof, and if you suspect her to be, or ever thought her a tender ship let me find so much friendship from you as to trust me with the secret, as I can now Load and trim her accordingly; for my own part I am in no doubt of her Answering now she is striped of her Superfluous top hamper—Believe me to be Dr Sir Your most Affectionate friend & Humble Servt….2
He could have got only a reassuring reply. Banks himself was busy in composition before he quite gave up hope. He wrote a long letter of passionate self-justification to Sandwich.3
It was unwise to present the First Lord with a lecture on naval construction, or to complain that the Navy Board
had purchased the ship ‘without ever consulting me'; and the side-blow at Cook, that there were many commanders of ability and experience, ambitious of showing the world that success depended more on a captain's prudence and perseverance than on any particular build of ship, was the least generous and most foolish thing that Banks ever said. The Navy Board and Palliser made their own remarks on this outburst; Sandwich entertained
himself by composing in his turn a detailed and crushing rejoinder, for use in case Banks rushed into print.1
The man retained enough sanity not to do so, though the press was active enough on his behalf, there were questions in the Commons, and some confidential political consultation. Lord Sandwich, for the time being, had had enough of his young friend. There was to be no Banks on the second voyage, no Solander, no Zoffany, there were to be no horn-players in scarlet and silver, performing to the brown girls, flower-garlanded, on far shores. Cook may sum the unhappy matter up.
To many it will no doubt appear strange that Mr Banks should attempt to over rule the opinions of the two great Boards who have the sole management of the whole Navy of Great Britain and likewise the opinions of the principal sea officers concern'd in the expedition; for a Gentleman of Mr Banks's Fortune and Abilities to engage in these kind of Voyages is as uncommon as it is meritorious and the great additions he made last Voyage to the Systems of Botany and Natural History gain'd him great reputation which was increased by his imbarking in this. This, together with a desire in every one to make things as convenient to him as possible, made him to be consulted on every occasion and his influence was so great that his opinion was generally followed, was it ever so inconsistent, in preference to those who from their long experience in Sea affairs might be supposed better judges, till at length the Sloop was rendered unfit for any service whatever….
Mr Banks unfortunate for himself set out upon too large a Plan a Plan that was incompatible with a Scheme of discovery at the Antipodes; had he confined himself to the same plan as he set out upon last Voyage, attended only to his own persutes and not interfered with the choice, equipmint and even Direction of the Ships things that he was not a competent judge of, he would have found every one concerned in the expedition ever ready to oblige him, for my self I can declare it: instead of finding fault with the Ship he ought to have considered that the Endeavour Bark was just such another, whose good quallities … gave him an oppertunity to acquire that reputation the Publick has so liberally and with great justice bestowed upon him.2
There had been no need, and no attempt, to alter the Adventure
, and about her no controversy ever centred. She shared the virtues of her build; she was to serve her purpose admirably. She was not
quite the ship her consort was; she turned out harder to bring round into the wind. As for the Resolution
, that honest product of Messrs Fishburn's yard, thus returned into her original condition, she was to prove one of the great, one of the superb, ships of history; of all the ships of the past, could she by enchantment be recreated and made immortal, one would gaze on her with something like reverence.
The complement of the Resolution
, officers and men, was 112, of the Adventure
81. The prospect of a long voyage to the southern hemisphere was not greatly attractive to many seamen, and by the time the crews were finally assembled there had been a large total of desertions, as well as a smaller number discharged in favour of better men.1
carried 92 seamen and eighteen marines with their lieutenant and sergeant; the Adventure
69 seamen and ten marines with a second lieutenant and sergeant. Even without the aid of French horns, music was provided for, with marines who could play the bagpipes and a drummer who could play the violin. The men, most of them, were very much like those of the first voyage, the majority in their twenties, uneducated, uncivilised, insensitive, blasphemous, drunk when possible, competent, conservative, capable of great endurance. James and Nathaniel Cook again joined them, a year out from home. Eleven seamen and one marine in the Resolution
had been in the Endeavour
; the marine, curiously enough, was Gibson, who had tried to desert at Tahiti, had become Cook's devoted admirer, and was now promoted corporal. Of some of their superiors in rank there is more to be said, of others not much. We miss Gore, who had been round the world three times already, and for whatever reason was on half-pay. He occupied a few months of his time as Banks's guest on a less arduous voyage to Iceland. The Resolution's
first lieutenant was Robert Palliser Cooper, a kinsman of the Comptroller who had served on the Newfoundland station: not original or lively, but steady, sober, certainly competent enough to have Cook speak well of his conduct of the ship, a post-captain to be. Charles Clerke, second lieutenant, we have met slightly on the first voyage: he is now a three-dimensional, a positive personality of the liveliest description to anyone who reads his journal and his happily-extant
—the journal in particular gives us a personality enlarged and matured as well as lively; he is capable of systematic observation and recording, serious generalisation as well as lightness of touch; it is Clerke with whom we feel tedium and irritation as well as amusement, it is Clerke whom we should like to hear talking at the end of the voyage. Banks evidently tried to tempt him away from his ship: ‘Am exceedingly oblig'd to you, my good Sir, for your kind concern on my account: but have stood too far on this tack to think of putting about with any kind of credit,'2
he wrote. He is a first-class seaman, an excellent officer. Pickersgill is third lieutenant: ‘a good officer and astronomer, but liking ye
said one of his juniors. There is something desperately serious about Pickersgill, as about so many of his fellow-romantics, something, in the end, of pathos. There are good intentions, never realised, the something beyond his grasp, whether because of lack of training or lack of mental stamina one does not know. When he amuses us, it is not of set purpose. A less striking figure than Clerke, he is a more complex one, less on good terms with the world; where Clerke writes down a jest, Pickersgill explains a grievance. Yet he is fit for responsible work, makes some notably good charts, and Cook finds him very useful. He seems to have got on well with the island peoples. Joseph Gilbert, the master, is the last of the senior officers, apart from the excellent Edgcumbe of the marines. Gilbert is old as ages go in that ship, about 40; one of the growing list of men from Lincolnshire who have to do with the Pacific, and one whose career, like Cook's, has been marked by his part in the Newfoundland-Labrador survey, when he was master of the Guernsey
. He is a sound officer, in principal charge, underneath Cook, of the surveying work of the voyage. Cook says the right things about him, in due form, but even more indicative is the reason given for certain action, that ‘Mr
Gilbert the Master, on whose judgement I had a good opinion’, was of a particular opinion himself. Gilbert was a good draughtsman, too: when it came to a ‘view’, a much better one than Cook, who had no large pretensions in that line.
We know more about the midshipmen, that rather vague class, than usual, largely through the reminiscences of John Elliott, himself one of the ‘young gentlemen’; and we know how Cook trained them. They were not all a band of brothers. Some of them no doubt got their positions on their known merit, like the three who had been
out in the Endeavour
, Manley, Harvey and Isaac Smith; some, like Elliott, through ‘interest’; some perhaps through accident. It was thought, says Elliott, ‘it would be quite a great feather, in a young man's Cap, to go with Captn
Cook, and it requir'd much Intrest to get out with him; My Uncle therefore determin'd to send me out with him in the Resolution'—and took the boy to Palliser, who passed him on to Cooper, who introduced him to Cook, ‘who promis'd to take care of me', and did. Elliott wrote brief characterisations of all the officers and civilians in his ship. Of most of them he thought highly. They were in general ‘steady’, some of them steady and clever as well. Henry Roberts
indeed was a ‘very clever young man’, a skilful draughtsman and cartographer. Burney, ‘Clever & Excentric’, was outside the usual run—though what his eccentricity led him to in the Resolution
we never learn. Then there was the small ‘wild & drinking’ set; in which was poor Charles Loggie, with the trepanned head, drinking ‘from misfortune’, who was a great trial to the captain. There were two whom our memoirist disliked—the ‘Hypocritical canting fellow’ Maxwell, who got Loggie into trouble; and the ‘Jesuitical’ Whitehouse, ‘sensible but an insinuating litigious mischief making fellow’; with whom we may contrast one who was to rise to fame himself as an explorer, ‘Mr
Vancouver’, aged ‘about 13 1/2’ (in fact nearer 15), ‘a Quiet inoffensive young man’. Inoffensive or offensive, steady or unsteady, they all had to knock down together, and Cook made the best of them he could. To quote Elliott again (and to anticipate), ‘In the Early part of the Voyage, Captn
Cook made all us young gentlemen, do the duty aloft the same as the Sailors, learning to hand, and reef the sails, and Steer the Ship, E[x]ercise Small Arms &c thereby making us good Sailors, as well as good Officers’; later on they were put to observing, surveying, and drawing. The training the young gentlemen got was to be highly regarded in important circles; it is difficult, indeed, to imagine a better education for a young seaman than three years in the Resolution.
Lastly, not among the young gentlemen, but not very old, we must notice the surgeon and his mates, all three ‘steady clever’ men. James Patten, there can be no doubt, was good professionally: so far as any surgeon could, he was to save Cook's life. William Anderson
, his first mate, was an extremely intelligent person, with a mind agreeably wide-ranging, interested in all the peculiarities of mankind, all the branches of natural history: his journals are the great loss from the records of this voyage. Benjamin Drawwater, the junior mate, apart from his steadiness and cleverness, remains but a name.
Those in the Adventure
, with not many exceptions, are more shadowy. Tobias Furneaux
, the commander, is plain enough.1
One of a Devon-Cornish connection, which included Samuel Wallis
, he had become a midshipman rather late, at the age of twenty, in 1755; on the Jamaica station had been promoted master's mate; for his gallantry in a sloop action further promoted lieutenant. He served on the coast of Africa and again in the West Indies; after the war was on half-pay for three years; appointed to the Dolphin
as second lieutenant under Wallis, he was virtually in command during the long periods when Wallis and his first lieutenant were both sick men, while his conduct in charge of landing parties was considerate and wise. Experience and character alike, then, seemed to mark him out as an excellent second in command to Cook. But the face in his portrait, with its rather large nose, full eyes and lips, conveys vigour rather than a sense of thought; Furneaux, however humane, was indeed an executive rather than a ruminative officer. He was certainly a good seaman. As long as he was close to Cook, watched over by Cook, one finds no criticism to make. Separate them: and one feels immediately that he was not really an explorer. There was an incuriosity about him, a lack of imagination, a limitation to the mind, that would always prevent anything he touched from turning to the gold of discovery. His first lieutenant, Joseph Shank, departs early, smitten by gout, at the Cape. Arthur Kempe, there promoted from second to first, seems to have been the parallel of Cooper, educated, competent, without frills; he had some Pacific experience, having been a midshipman with Byron. He followed Cooper later up the ladder of promotion but out-topped him, because longevity (it is to be presumed) was to make him an admiral. Burney, transplanted at the Cape from the Resolution
, as second lieutenant, is our personality on board the Adventure
, and a man we know a good deal about. We have seen his father speaking for him at Hinchingbrooke; when he sails he is of age, on paper still only an A.B., but one who has passed his lieutenant's examination; owing to a hint from Sandwich to Cook, he now sees promotion reasonably near. It comes, and it is clear by the end of his voyage that he has made the most of it. Burney, though he sailed very little with Cook himself, is one of the most interesting of Cook's officers; a thorough seaman, certainly one of the mainstays of the Adventure
's company; lively, observant, and (like all the Burneys) articulate. He was to become the great
scholar of Pacific exploration; some of his other activities might have been regarded by Mr Elliott as further proof of eccentricity. Peter Fannin, the master, was a good professional man, a talented chartmaker hardly visible as a person otherwise. In the journals, from time to time, are glimpsed his fellows, their horse-play or melancholy or quarrelling; evidently in the case of James Scott, lieutenant of marines, a quite real derangement of the mind, which made him a difficult shipmate.
We must consider the astronomers. William Wales, assigned to the Resolution, was a Yorkshireman in his late thirties, the brother-in-law of Green. He had observed the Transit of Venus for the Royal Society at Hudson Bay and helped Maskelyne with the Nautical Almanac. William Bayly, a few years younger, a Wiltshire farm-boy who had shown a talent for arithmetic and been an usher in schools, had gone to the North Cape for the Transit and been an assistant at the Royal Observatory. Both had published papers on their observations. Both were later to have a part in mathematical and naval education. Wales was the man who did the more varied work, had the more civilised, wide, and at the same time incisive, mind. It may have been a sort of luck that after the voyage he taught the Mathematical School at Christ's Hospital, so that, having Charles Lamb and Coleridge and Leigh Hunt among his pupils, he became enshrined in English literature, and we can remember, like Lamb, his Yorkshire accent, his ‘constant glee’, his severities that were without sting. To read his journal is to be impressed by a man devoted to a quite austere and fine sense of duty; to read his letters is to find him severe enough towards inadequate intellectual standards. He noted, with resignation, the rule of thumb conservatism of the sailors, the meddling of midshipmen with his belongings; registered his amusement at the behaviour of pretentious persons. His close scientific eye fronted a head that also carried poetry—he knew his Thomson and Shakespeare and Milton—and he was humane. With all this richness Bayly hardly compares, he was of a lesser order altogether; yet he knew his job, kept a hold on it, was at the same time aware of what was passing round him. We must consider also that rather late appointment, William Hodges the young artist, sent on board the Resolution by the Admiralty influenced by Lord Palmerston, while the ships lay at Plymouth at the end of June. He was a quite different thing in painters from Zoffany—or Sydney Parkinson: a pupil of Richard Wilson, his interest was landscape, and, more and more as he developed his own individuality in foreign climates, light. On the voyage he was
to work hard, and we are happily in his debt: we should be still happier had he had any talent for the figure. His landscapes, his seascapes, his wave-worn ice, his rapid wash drawings or oil sketches, his careful panoramic renderings of island cliffs and shores, on the other hand, are exactly what was desired; to Cook, an unsophisticated critic of art, they were masterly. Cook and Wales both liked him: likeable, gifted, making the most of his chances, he seems a rather enviable person.
But who is going to envy John Reinhold Forster? We have come to one of the awkward beings of the age,1 who walked on board the Resolution because Banks and his friends walked off. Let us admit at once the virtues of Forster, his learning, the width of his interests, his acuteness in some things; let us admit the lumbering geniality that was said to exist deep below the surface. Let us admit that the surface itself must have been, at first sight, sometimes impressive—or how else could he have taken in, temporarily, so many excellent persons? Let us concede, as a mitigating factor, that for ocean voyaging no man was ever by physical or mental constitution less fitted. Yet there is nothing that can make him other than one of the Admiralty's vast mistakes. One does not wish to draw a caricature; but how is one to deny that he was dogmatic, humourless, suspicious, censorious, pretentious, contentious, demanding? To deal with such a man is a problem anywhere, a desperate problem at sea. Cook is forced to conclude one interview by turning him out of the cabin, Clerke threatens to put him under arrest; the master's mate, whom he has called a liar, knocks him down; the seas break over him, men grow tired of listening to him; he says too often that he will complain to the king, the crew mimic him. He is exasperating, but not to be ignored.
Forster was one of those unsettled men who so often, in the eighteenth century, came to England in search of prosperity. Born in 1729 in Polish Prussia of a family originally Scottish, he grew up with a large amount of learning, not scientific, and became a solidly old-fashioned orthodox minister near Danzig. In 1754 his son George was born.2
It was George, a clever boy interested in natural history, who turned his father's mind in the same direction, while, with a growing family, an inadequate living, and a total lack of economy,
Reinhold used up his inheritances, and plunged into the debts that became his way of life. With a year's leave of absence from his church, he went with George to try his fortune in Russia, had poor fortune, overstayed his leave, lost his church; sold his library to maintain his family, went with George to England in 1766, spent a period of provincial teaching in languages and natural history, (though not the art of war, which he also proposed to teach), quarrelling with his acquaintances. Another man of large hopes, Alexander Dalrymple
, invited him to London, to take a post with the East India Company, which was not Dalrymple's to give away. He came—always with George—and Dalrymple was himself dismissed by the Company. For two years he drudged in poverty, producing pamphlets on botany, zoology, mineralogy, geography, while George drudged at translation; getting himself known in scientific circles and picking up patrons—picking up, even, an F.R.S. Then came his chance. Banks, Solander, Lind—Science, as it were— deserted Cook. What would happen to Lind's £4000? At that moment Daines Barrington
stepped in, that ‘worthy and learned gentleman’, lawyer, antiquary, naturalist, scientific hobbyist, with important and useful connections; a friend, if ever there was one, to the improvident and persistent Forster. He was successful at the Admiralty; the £4000 descended upon Forster, and Forster descended upon the Resolution. He descended with George, as natural history assistant and artist. George, brilliantly gifted, serious, intellectually alive, romantic, not yet eighteen, with difficult times behind him, a difficult parent beside him, a place, in history, yet unguessed at, ahead of. him, was for the next three years to have the difficult task of making the name of Forster tolerable.
It was three weeks through June before work on the Resolution
, and her subsequent stowage,1
were completed. On the 8th Sandwich had to implore Lord North, the prime minister, hot to consider the possibility of Banks's changing his mind again;2
on the 15th, Cook had to see to the accommodation of the Forsters by the rebuilding of cabins already taken down—‘two fore mast Cabbins under the Quarter Deck’,3
supplies were still being prepared or requested, the Baron von Storsch's marmalade, stockfish, spirits in which to
preserve specimens. On Sunday the 21st, at the end of his last leave, to his family, and with Wales joined the ship at Sheerness. She sailed next day for Plymouth, arriving after some delay from the wind on 3 July. The previous evening, between the Start and Plymouth Sound, she had met the Admiralty yacht Augusta
, bearing Sandwich and Palliser on their return from a dockyard inspection. The two came on board for a final report on the Resolution
—which, says Cook, ‘I was now well able to give them and so much in her favour that I had not one fault to alledge againest her…. It is owing to the perseverance of these two persons that the expedition is in so much forwardness, had they given way to the general Clamour and not steadily adhered to their own better judgement the Voyage in all probabillity would have been laid aside.’1
As soon as he arrived at Plymouth he wrote officially to Stephens to assure him of the recovered virtue of the vessel: a doubt of a contrary Nature does not, I am persuaded, remain in the breast of any one person on board'; next day he similarly informed the Navy Board
What doubts, if any, were harboured in Banks's breast about the wisdom of his behaviour we do not know; he thought, quite mistakenly, that the East India Company might give him a ship for a South Sea voyage in the following year, and, with a large train left on his hands, he had just chartered a brig for a voyage to Iceland.
had been waiting at Plymouth since the middle of May. There the ships' companies, as the result of unprecedented generosity on the Admiralty's part, received most of their arrears of pay and two months' advance; to provide themselves with what they deemed necessities for the voyage (they can have had few dependants to provide for);3
and there Cook received his instructions. They were dated 25 June, and they told him nothing he did not know already: ‘indeed I was consulted at the time they-were drawn up and nothing was inserted that I did not fully comprehend and approve of’4
—in other words, they put into formal words the plan he had himself matured. The ships had been fitted out to proceed upon farther discoveries towards the South Pole. He was to call at Madeira for
wine, at the Cape of Good Hope
for refreshment and supplies. He was to leave the Cape by the end of October or beginning of November and search for Cape Circumcision; if he found it, and it proved to be part of the continent, he was to explore as much of the continent as was possible and report on it as fully as possible (the instructions on this theme are virtually a transcript of those for his first voyage); then, if possible, to carry on discovery either to the east or west, as near to the South Pole as possible. If Cape Circumcision should prove to be part of an island only, he should, after examining this (or from its reported position if it was undiscoverable) stand on south so long as there seemed a likelihood of falling in with the continent, then eastward to circumnavigate the globe; after which the Cape of Good Hope
, and home. When the season made continuance in high latitudes unsafe, he should retire to ‘some known place’ northwards to refresh and refit. Islands were to be surveyed, charted, taken possession of, if consequential enough; such instructions presented nothing new. The explorer had what he wanted. The chronometers were all taken ashore at Drake's Island, checked in the portable observatories, and got going by Wales and Arnold. The Resolution
would take the Kendall instrument and one of Arnold's; the Adventure
the other two of Arnold's. At 6 a.m. on 13 July 1772 he sailed from Plymouth, the Adventure
in company, and stood south-west. ‘Farewell Old England’, wrote Lieutenant Pickersgill in his journal, very large, and scribbled a not very ornamental border round the words.