Some Problems of Editing Cook's Journals
Some Problems of Editing Cook's Journals*
Some Problems of Editing Cook's Journals*
I once nourished what seemed to me a very simple and laudable ambition. I knew that Cook's journals, those corner-stones of Pacific history, had never been printed as he wrote them, from his own manuscript. The ambition was to do just that. I had seen the original of the first journal at Canberra, and photostats of the others in the Mitchell Library at Sydney. The writing seemed plain enough. What indeed could be simpler than to have them typed out, and to print them as a plain text, on which anybody could work? They could be paper-bound, and sell cheaply. Some way could surely be found of raising the money to pay for such an edition, and the chances were it would pay for itself in the end. Simple, straightforward: you see I was not going to worry about things like annotation—why annotate when the thing was so well known?—or textual introductions—why make difficulties unnecessarily? How naive—how staggeringly naive—I was!
This ambition can be dated c. 1938. The war put it on the shelf, like so many other ambitions, more elaborate and more glorious, and then upon me fell the news of the projected Hakluyt Society edition of Cook. So, I thought, that's the end of my little adventure of the mind—only to find myself, in due course, implicated as an editor of the journal of one of the voyages for the Hakluyt Society; and in the end, of the whole three. And then the realities of the situation began to dawn upon me. I began to find out, first, that a plain text isn't, after all, so very easy; and secondly, that an eighteenth century document, if it is to be made plain, needs annotation. It was essential to be a historian as well as an editor. My texts had a history as well as the voyages. The journals were part—certainly a large part—of a highly complicated story. It became necessary to find out everything that could possibly be found out about Cook's voyages: about Cook, his companions, the sciences of the age, the administrative background, innumerable personal relations and tensions as well as matters of geography, navigation and handwriting. The problems did not merely rise, they proliferated. Nothing was as simple as it seemed; and, as usual when one gets to that point, one gazed into the eyes of pedantry.
* This is the text of a paper read to the History Section of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science, at the meeting held at Dunedin in January 1957.
* This, I hasten to add in print, is a short and not quite just way of putting it. To be strictly truthful, I was allowed by the Prime Minister's Department of New Zealand free use of the set of photostats which the Australian Commonwealth Government had so generously given to New Zealand—on the suggestion, I am happy to add further, of the Commonwealth National Library.
By the time we have finished our collating, indeed, we have found out some interesting things. One of them is that Cook was not altogether the simple sailor that one is accustomed to think him. I would not call him a conscious literary artist, but it is clear that he did not write his journal straight off and let it go at that. He did a great deal of drafting and re-drafting, and luckily we have a few bits and pieces of manuscript in which we can see this process going on. We can see, as it were, the growth of a mind. We can see an increase in elementary education, we can see the widening of the interests of a very able man, we can see a process of moral struggle, we can see an enlarged appreciation of the possibilities of description. We are rather getting away, in fact, from our old idea of the plain text. One of the editorial problems is to make all this clear. It accounts for a good many pages of textual introduction and footnotes and appendixes in the first volume of our new edition. I cannot illustrate all these points in the compass of the present paper. But I must say that as I worked on my text it was borne in upon me that none of them could be ignored, because I was working not merely on a text but on a man, and on a man whose personality was of extreme interest for history. And the history of my text was the history of a man.
I must however give some illustration. Let us take first the moral predicament. You will remember Cook when he was first on the coast of New Zealand, at Poverty Bay. He wanted to get to know the Maoris—indeed he had to; he wanted to do it peacefully, for he hated shedding blood, and yet they were extraordinarily stand-offish and bellicose. In the morning of 10 October 1769 two men were shot on shore, and in the afternoon, out in the bay, a plan to take a canoe-load of fishermen and conciliate them by presents went wrong, and two or three more were killed. Now we have three accounts of this by Cook. The first is in his log, copied into the Greenwich MS. It is fairly matter-of-fact. The three young Maoris taken on board the ship, he says, "seem'd much less concerned at what had happen'd then I was myself. The second is in a fragment of draft. He tells what has happened, and then goes on,
I can by no means justify my conduct in attacking and killing the people in this boat who had given me no just provication and was wholly igernorant of my design and had I had the least thought of their making any resistance I would not so much as have looked at them [,] but page 4 when we was once a long side of them we must either have stud to be knocked on the head or else retire and let them gone off in triumph [,] and this last they would of course have attributed to their own bravery and our timouressness.
There you see he feels guilty and is reasoning with himself—with himself I think and not merely with a suppositious reader. He was responsible for his own men's lives, after all, and for the successful completion of a voyage. The third version is that in the final journal, the Canberra MS, duly copied into the Mitchell and Admiralty MSS. And now a further sense of responsibility has struck him, and a feeling that he has fallen below standards commonly held.
I am aware that most humane men who have not experienced things of this nature will cencure my conduct in fireing upon the people in this boat nor do I my self think that the reason I had for seizing upon her will attall justify me, and had I thought that they would have made the least resistance I would not have come near them but as they did I was not to stand still & suffer either my self, or those that were with me to be knocked on the head.
The passage is shorter; he has abandoned the bit about possible Maori vainglory over timorous Europeans—he may have concluded that after all he could not read the savage mind and that he should not indulge in special pleading. He had been wrong; yet after all the predicament was difficult as well as sudden; the humane men who would condemn him had never been faced with it themselves. You see the editor's predicament, once he has made the inevitable switch from mere words to human character. Luckily we have a textual introduction.
Take two other passages, of a quite different character, and differing between themselves. One is the account of the tour round Tahiti made by Cook and Banks at the end of June 1769; the other is the account of the frightful peril of the Endeavour outside the Great Barrier Reef in August 1770, in a dead calm and heaved by the enormous swell towards certain destruction. When we collate the Canberra MS with the copies we find that there are two entirely different versions of both these episodes. The Canberra MS has one version of the first, all the copies agree on a different one. The Canberra, Admiralty and Greenwich MSS agree on the second: the Mitchell MS is quite different and much shorter. In addition, with the first, Cook seems to finish his account in the Canberra MS, and immediately, on the next page, we are in the middle of a sentence describing the attempt of two marines to desert. What has happened? It is clear that in neither of these cases is the Canberra MS, though in Cook's handwriting, his original journal at all. He has had second thoughts, and the clerk has not had a chance to copy all the second thoughts—not at all with the tour of Tahiti, and not into the Mitchell MS with the Barrier Reef story. Or perhaps he was drunk—Mr. Orton was a heavy drinker—and forgot to carry out all his orders. Or perhaps Cook rewrote the Barrier Reef story after leaving Batavia, when the Mitchell MS had already been sent home. Perhaps he even rewrote the tour round Tahiti when he was nearing England, and it was too late for any big pieces of copying to be done. Perhaps he just did not worry about having copies made. We simply don't know. But why the different versions? That is the sort of question that afflicts the editor. With the Barrier Reef episode the answer is clear enough. The answer is Joseph Banks.
Mr. Joseph Banks, who planted himself and a train of attendants on board the Endeavour, was a very gifted young man. Among his numerous gifts was—undoubtedly—the gift of the gab. This gift extended to composition with pen page 5 and ink—I cannot say literary composition. He was a good observer, and his observations simply poured from his pen into the excited pages of his journal. It is a journal never printed as he wrote it, and only half-printed at all. If you read it you will find that Cook, who had never before the voyage of the Endeavour kept a long journal, or had to describe new countries, was greatly taken with the facility of his young friend in expressing himself; and if you consider also the abstract of Cook's journal in Banks's hand in the Auckland Public Library, you may conclude that on board the Endeavour journals were common property. When Cook, an unpractised writer, came to describe the customs of Tahiti, he simply lifted large portions of Banks and boiled them down a little. When he compared his fairly brief, straightforward account of the peril outside the Barrier Reef with the other man's he was, it is clear, immensely impressed by Banks's dramatic ability. So he went back a few days, rewrote and expanded all his entries leading up to his passage from inside to outside the reef, and then incorporated—and also, I think, improved—Banks's dramatic passages. It is an interesting study in the way a great man learns from one less great. But that doesn't account for the change in the tour of Tahiti. There is nothing in Banks's journal like that. It is all, indeed, very Cook-like, except for that queer careless hiatus at the end. But the hiatus could be accounted for. Cook wrote on large sheets of paper folded in two, which gave him sections of four folio pages. He rewrote the account of his tour, took out the old one, substituted the new, and threw the old one away—and failed to notice that he had also thrown away, with a section thus discarded, a page he had neither re-written nor copied, but which is quite essential if we are to know what followed immediately on his return to Matavai Bay. Well, we can pick this up quite easily in the Mitchell MS, and insert it in our text, with due pedantry, inside square brackets. Later on we can reflect how curiously parallel run the minds of men. Reading and listing all the material on the voyage, I had long ago come across a fragment in the Alexander Turnbull Library, in a most immaculate small hand, headed 'Mr. B's Circuit round Otaheite'. Mr. B is obviously Mr. Banks, for the thing is written in the first person, the story is the story of Cook's and Banks's little tour, and the dates correspond. 'Another version of Banks,' I thought. 'How tiresome! I wonder who copied it out so neatly, and why?' It was not until Cook had been published for months, and I was in the last stages of editing Banks's journal, that I read the fragment again, with real care, to decide if I could what relation it had to Banks. It was full of echoes. The echoes were echoes of Cook. The truth suddenly flooded in on me. Cook had again been smitten by the felicity of Banks's writing, and had exploited it to the full in his second, or Canberra, version. But then Banks himself had been seized with a fit of rewriting, somehow his discarded first version had survived, and had been written out neatly, not by his regular conscientious copyist, his sister Sarah Sophia, but by this unknown clerk. The draft in Banks's own writing had then disappeared, and in process of time—no doubt after the great dispersal of the Banks papers—this neat copy had been washed by the chances of the market to New Zealand. I still cannot guess why the copy was made. If I had realized rather earlier what it was I should not have had to make so many conjectures about missing words in Cook's text, and I should have escaped at least one blunder. Well, rather long-windedly, there are examples of the double page 6 version—of, if you like, the confusion of a text. What is an editor to do about that? Luckily we have appendixes. You may now begin to see why volume one of Cook's Journals ran to 970 pages.
With the journal of the first voyage it was possible, and it seemed worth while, for the reasons I have already given, to note every significant variant from the text as printed, and every significant change in composition. The job seemed formidable to me, and I thought the textual work on the second and third journals could not possibly be so complicated, or the history of the text so tangled. In fact I prophesied as much, dogmatically. Now I wonder how I could have been so foolish. The problem for the second voyage—and here I come to work in progress—is no less complicated, but quite different. It will be quite impossible to register small variants between copies of the same text; and I think, having shown in Volume I how Cook's mind worked in this matter, it need not be much further laboured. The problem is to establish the text itself. In the first place let me say that in the published account of this voyage you get pretty near to Cook. Roughly speaking, those are his own words that are printed, with a little polish and a good deal of punctuation, but not much more, supplied by Canon Douglas. They do not include quite all the words Cook wrote; for delicacy, at some stages, supervenes upon the rich field of anthropological data; and criticism of other voyagers—it seems to have been felt by someone, perhaps by Cook himself—must not be too frank. Too much punctuation, let me say in passing, radically alters the 'feel' of Cook's style; but those two volumes are his book. The book is one on which he has worked incessantly. I am amazed at the amount of sheer writing Cook did on that second voyage, and during the interval between its end and the beginning of the third. If he had been a Flaubert he could hardly have toiled harder. We have copies, this time by a very efficient ship's clerk, but what are they copies of? One was sent home to the Admiralty from Capetown, in March 1775: I call it the Admiralty copy: it is now in the Public Record Office. The other is in the National Maritime Museum: it is complete, and I call it the Greenwich copy.* If we wanted to do the simplest possible thing, it now seems to me, after a vast amount of work on the manuscripts, we should print the Greenwich copy. It is a really excellent copy of the journal at a good stage. There are three objections: in the first place, we should not be printing from Cook's own manuscript; in the second, the journal at this stage omits an amount of navigational detail which I think we should preserve; and in the third, there is a better way of showing Cook's mind at work in observing and recording.
* Since this paper was prepared, I have examined a third copy, now in the possession of Lieut.-Commander Palliser Hudson, R.N. It differs in interesting ways from both the Admiralty and the Greenwich copies, and how precisely it came into the process of composition referred to in the following paragraph is a problem still to be solved.
it is Add. MS 27886 in the British Museum. Let me call it 86 for short. It is incomplete in a number of ways, and ends on 10 November 1774, just as the ship left New Zealand for the last time. From 86 he made another version, compressing detail but also enlarging a good deal in places: altering his phraseology and so on. We know he must have done so, because that is the only way the Admiralty copy could have come into existence—something must have been there to copy, the clerk didn't invent a version, and this version is different in some places from everything else. Let me call it X. X in Cook's handwriting has disappeared. But we have a third version of the journal, and in Cook's hand, with what he thought necessary compression and with gaps filled in. This is now in the British Museum, Add. MS 27888—88 for short. From this the Greenwich copy was made. Then, after Cook reached England, and found he was to write the official account, he got to work on 88 and revised it heavily, rewriting entire sections, incorporating footnotes, adding marginal passages in the light of after-knowledge, transferring paragraphs, drafting new sentences or paragraphs on separate scraps of paper and labelling them A and B—all tricks familiar to the author in gestation; and finally took to the thing with red ink. It is an extraordinary mixture, as it is all bound up, rewritten sections following or preceding the original ones, interpolated scraps in the wrong places, marginal passages in red ink continued four pages earlier, and so on. Some sections have been lost altogether; but you will find eight pages descriptive of Tonga, obviously from this MS, in the Mitchell library. They were offered once to the British Museum by the celebrated Mr. Maggs the dealer, for £200, and refused. How they became detached heaven knows. This is not all: there is an Add. MS 27889, which contains, among all sorts of other fragmentary papers, a fair copy in Cook's hand of a small portion of 88; presumably he wrote out the whole thing for Douglas to work on before the printer got his copy. We need not worry about this 89.
Now what are we going to print as our twentieth century text? There is the problem. We want to get our record as close to the events as possible. We want to get it as full as possible. 1 think the only thing to do is to make a sort of composite text—always letting the reader know what he is reading, of course. We shall therefore print in full the earliest journal we have—i.e. 86. When 86 breaks off we shall complete the story from 88, noting where the text has undergone later revision when this is important—particularly when, shall we say, the red ink phase comes along. We need 88 earlier than this, just as we shall need a page or so of the Admiralty copy, because they add to 86—I mean add, not merely play variations on the wording. Very often these additions are small, a matter of a few words or a sentence, and they can go into footnotes. But then we have quite large passages, of two sorts. The first sort is the Easter Island sort. When the Resolution was at Easter Island, in March 1774, Cook was recovering from a very serious illness, and could not go marching over the island. He therefore spent the day pottering round the shore with the watering party, and sent Lieutenant Pickersgill with another party of men to get on to the hills and into the interior and pick up all the information they could. When Pickersgill came back he wrote a report, and Cook incorporated it into his journal just as it was: 'Sir, At ½ past 9 o'Clock we left the beach', and so on. But later he had a good deal of talk with Wales the astronomer, a much better observer and more articu- page 8late man than Pickersgill, and indeed read what Wales wrote; so in 88 we get a much longer and more interesting account than in 86—paying due acknowledgement to Wales, and doing away entirely with Pickersgill's direct speech. The second sort is the New Hebrides sort. Here 86 brings us to the islands and tells us all about the masterly navigation of the group and the course of events there. But by then, I think, Cook was well-advanced with his 88 revision of 86, and he seems to have thought, 'Well, if I am going to do a full account of the natives of these islands, why should I do it twice over? Why not put it straight into my revised version?' And that is what he does. We can't do without all this, so it must go in—both sorts of addition—as part of the text too. We don't want it in an appendix; we don't want exasperated readers turning backwards and forwards in a big book, trying to keep the story straight; it is all part of our main text. We'll have plenty of material for our appendixes, anyhow: excerpts from other people's journals, and the diverting and fantastic story of Mr. Banks and why he didn't go on the voyage, and the calendar of correspondence, and the ships' companies, and so forth, as in Volume I. About more particular textual problems I am not prepared to speak at this moment. No doubt they will keep on arising. There was no Banks on this voyage with a journal to plunder. One of the surgeon's mates, William Anderson, was a good naturalist, a first-class observer, good on native languages, and a good writer. Cook may have learnt from him, and had a strong affection for him, and he certainly was prepared to quote him quite extensively on the third voyage; but for the second voyage all Anderson's journals and papers have disappeared, it seems irretrievably—a loss infinitely unfortunate.
When we come to the journal of the third voyage, we come to some awful problems of annotation—the Eskimo language, for instance; but I really cannot see at present that the text is going to present us with much difficulty. There is only one Cook manuscript that we can print; it is in the British Museum, and is known as Egerton MS 2177A. It corresponds in its nature to our 88 of the second voyage—that is, it is the sort of final journal that Cook was preparing as the voyage proceeded from the volumes generally referred to as his 'Log and Proceedings'. Copies of these—very good fair copies by a clerk—are in the Public Record Office. They are a mixture of log entries and journal entries. In his final journal Cook, as usual, compressed the log entries into a running text, but kept the journal entries virtually the same—sometimes he revised a phrase, or put his words in a different order; sometimes, but not often, he expands considerably. One interesting difference there is: in the Log and Proceedings Cook had copied out some long extracts from Anderson—e.g. on the natural history of Kerguelen Land. These he omits in the Egerton MS, though he refers to them. The omission does not matter: we can copy from Anderson ourselves, as much as we like. The only regrettable thing is that Cook's journal stops with 6 January 1779, over five weeks before he was killed, on 14 February. He must have taken notes over most of that time, but there is absolutely nothing surviving, either in his handwriting or in copy. This brings us up against our chief problem—how exactly to handle those critical last weeks and the story of the remainder of the voyage. What" are we going to do about the accounts of Cook's death? We are printing Cook's journals, but we can hardly stop on 6 January 1779 with four dots and the remark that Cook died a little later. The rest of the voyage was still, after all, the voyagepage 9 as he had planned it. It is part of his history; and it does not cease to be interesting, or to be a part of Pacific history. There is plenty of material to use. Probably the backbone will be a selection from the journals of Captains Clerke, Gore and King.
This brings me to a point that is, I think, worth some discussion—the extent to which the logs and journals of other men on the voyages are useful. The biographers of Cook have almost uniformly brushed them aside, though Mr. Hugh Carrington did do something with a few of them in an unpublished book he wrote on 'Cook's Lieutenants'. There are about 125 volumes of them—mostly in the Public Record Office, a few in the British Museum, a few in the Mitchell Library, two or three in the Alexander Turnbull Library. They vary widely in value, but it is certainly a great mistake to ignore them in any study of the voyages, and I cannot see how in an edition like that of the Hakluyt Society, one can fall to print a number of pages, and a great many more fragments. They vary widely in value, because Cook's men varied widely in value. These men were, so far as I have been able to find out anything about them individually, an interesting lot—as any individual person in the past becomes interesting when you are able to trace his character here and there in the documents. Some were probably not more than drunken blackguards, who were nevertheless made to work very hard and quite efficiently. Cook speaks highly of their work as a body, and he does not spend his words in idle compliments. If he says his crew behaved themselves well, you know they were a pretty good crew. The majority of them didn't carry their efficiency into the production of logs and journals; they tended to copy the ship's log, and to sink back, I suspect, exhausted. But you get others, with more education, more mental aliveness, and so more articulate; and reading them, from a little piece of detail here, and a piece there, you gradually get a picture of the whole body of men, that is as important in its way as the picture Cook gives of himself. You are even able to add to your picture of Cook. There are of course journals with a good deal more than a small piece of detail: not many on the first voyage, more on the second, still more on the third. There are strongly marked characters like Pickersgill, master's mate and later third lieutenant, intelligent, curious, rather unstable; the able, merry-hearted and loquacious Clerke, who went on all the voyages, and after Cook's death commanded the last for a few months, until he too died, far too young; the keen-minded, observant Burney, Fanny Burney's brother, with some of the family ease with a pen; Wales the astronomer, whose interests were by no means confined to astronomy, a man of downright common-sense and some quiet humour; the conscientious, perhaps rather precise King; the excellent, open-minded, incessantly occupied Anderson.
The journals of some of these should be printed some day—for their own sakes—certainly, I think, part of Wales's of the second voyage, and Burney's and Anderson's of the third. How much can we get in of the others? I was going to print a good deal of Pickersgill and his fellow master's-mate Wilkinson in the first volume, but excluded them in the end in favour of Molyneux the Endeavour's master—the man who gives us the day to day account of ship's business at Tahiti, and tells us about that popular sport rat-shooting, both matters ignored by Cook; in favour too of the description of the early days on the New Zealand coast bypage 10 Monkhouse the surgeon, a first-rate piece of work that turned up at the last moment in a miscellany of second voyage material in the British. Museum—all that has survived of Monkhouse's journal. In the second volume we must certainly have some passages from Clerke—his loving description of Dusky Sound, for example; from Burney, from Wales, from Pickersgill. In the third—I simply, just now, don't know; the wealth is too great. Occasionally there are sentences or phrases too good to lose; one can hardly have an anthology of sentences and phrases in an appendix, and one learns to thank God for footnotes. Take Clerke. It is 6 March 1773. The Resolution is rolling along on a north-east course, just on latitude 60, longitude about 118 East—that is, about 25 degrees south of Western Australia. 'Captain Cook,' remarks Clerke, 'having Observ'd many of the people in rather a ragged condition, this forenoon he gave them some Needles thread & Buttons, that they may have no excuse for their tatter'd [condition]— they also have every Saturday to themselves to wash &c—that they may likewise have no excuse for a dirty, improper appearance.' That is a little episode that Cook doesn't mention, but it throws some light on Cook, and on the voyage. Again, in December 1773, on a fresh push into the Antarctic, five or six degrees further south, we have Clerke showing a shade of exasperation: 15 December, 'at 7 found ourselves confoundedly entangle'd with loose and field Ice'; 22 December, 'these confounded Ice Isles'; 25 December, a cold Christmas Day, The Ice Isles increase upon us confoundedly … we are fairly beset with these divilish Ice Isles.' Confounded, divilish: they are words that Cook does not use; yet it is just as well for us to know that on these tedious, necessary traverses of the ocean men got heartily sick of the sight of icebergs: not, I think, frightened; but to use the word I have already used, exasperated. To understand Cook we have to understand these men; and there, you see, for an editor the problem becomes rather complex—it is not merely the technical one of sorting out a text and footnotes and appendixes; but in addition the gaining, and conveying, some hint of the emotional overtones of a voyage. Perhaps, as an editor, I should stop before this point; perhaps I should confine myself to the technical job. But I find that I can't. Luckily—perhaps unluckily for the patient reader—we have introductions.
This matter of the technical job, however, raises other questions. We have not merely to establish our text, we have to explain it. I cannot entirely ignore, as I proposed to do, the problems of annotation. The wretched thing impinges on so many branches of knowledge—geography, hydrography, meteorology, ethnology, marine zoology, naval architecture, scientific navigation, to name but a few; and an editor can't afford to make an arrant ass of himself all the time. Somehow, by the use of libraries, and with the help of expert friends, one manages to get by, shuddering at the awful abysms from the edge of which one sometimes seems to be crawling. Consider, rather at random, the ethnological field. One would like to explain the Polynesian rites and customs which Cook observed, and the Polynesian reactions he stimulated. Sometimes the matter is simple enough. Sometimes it is made more difficult, and not simplified, by the very fact that Cook is himself the earliest source of information, against which later sources may be checked; maybe different observers of the same sort of thing have observed different aspects of it; maybe there is conflicting evidence, even from Cook's page 11 voyage, on what actually happened. Or you may find a parallel, adequately explained, that is not quite a parallel. Consider the problems of writing down the Tahitian language—or rather, the problems, for us, of the sounds of Tahitian as written down by eighteenth century Englishmen. One would like to know what sounds they heard. When Cook writes ei (to take a simple example) does he intend a sound leaning to e or to i? My present feeling is that sometimes he intends one, sometimes the other. Well, how do you say Otaheite? Anderson, on the second voyage, made a very careful vocabulary, with very careful notes, on pronunciation, giving parallels with certain vowels or combinations of vowels in English words. But then you have to be a historical phoneticist in English to get the full strength of all this. It would be a feather in one's cap, again, to be able to identify all the islands in that long list given to Cook on the first voyage by Tupaia, the learned geographer and theologian—the list that Wharton found quite 'hopeless'. Of course it is not hopeless, but a good many of its difficulties are still unresolved.
Those are regions, to a certain extent, of speculation. We should be better off with scientific navigation—the region of lunar distances, and Jupiter's satellites, and azimuths and amplitudes. One ought to be able to explain to the reader precisely how Cook found his position and his way at sea, what he has done when he says he has made a certain observation or taken the average of the results of several different calculations. In fact, one ought to know all about nautical astronomy just at the age when nautical astronomy was becoming something like an exact science, and the chronometer was simultaneously being proved an instrument of exact use. Unfortunately, historians are not by nature gifted with mathematical ability; nor, as a matter of technique, would a footnote be the best place to convey enlightenment on this particular department of the abstruse. Fortunately, in our edition of Cook, we have, besides a volume for each of the journals, a fourth volume in which such things will be explained; there, in due course, will be found an essay on navigation in the days of Cook, with instances of his applications of the refined technique involved. From that, the special student should be able to make his own annotation; for it would be too much to suppose that every reader is also a special student of every exact science; and annotation in general, we must admit, must have an end somewhere. The ordinary reader will probably be much more interested in visual proof of the results of Cook's navigation—in the charts of new coastlines which he and his men brought back from the voyages. A number of these are really beautiful pieces of work. The problem here is a problem of selection, and it is a problem which my colleague Mr. Skelton has handled with great skill.
Charts bring us back to the geographical side of the voyages; and after all, they were aimed fundamentally at the expansion of geographical knowledge. One feels happier here; for a historian, I suppose, has as much right to plunge into geography as a geographer has to plunge into history, and one would not wish for segregation in the bus of knowledge. At this point I feel it is worth while, thought it may not be strictly necessary, to plead the value to the historian of field work. He can do a good deal, in following up voyages, with charts—Cook's charts, Admiralty charts—sailing directions, and so on. On the other hand, Cook landed wherever he could, and looked at things. Brute expense makes it impos- page 12sible to follow up Cook wherever he went, and land and look too. But I think one should do what one can. The testimony of the eyes, laid on an actual valley or bay or range of hills, is a very enlightening thing, and it may save one from signal blunders in writing about both what was and what is. The river at Matavai Bay, in Tahiti, for example, has changed completely since the end of the eighteenth century. Up against that part of the present landscape the journals just don't make sense; or shall we say, the landscape doesn't make sense up against the journals. One must be able to reconcile the two. Cook's circuit of Tahiti remains completely abstract if one has not studied those beaches and cliffs and reefs. Whether one can make—whether one has made—the thing more concrete for the reader by going to Tahiti and actually looking is, I suppose, hardly for one—the editor, the writer of footnotes—to say. At least one feels a little more secure about one's own statements.
A little more secure: but is there any security in this world? The last of one's problems in editing is oneself. One works through innumerable pages of manuscript and print, photostat, microfilm, one does what field work one can, one scrutinises, rewrites and revises, stays up late, alters proofs, prays. And then the ghastly thing happens. Looking over the pages of the first volume of Cook's Journals, while I was writing this paper, pages irrevocably, irretrievably printed and bound, I came on a reference—my own reference, in italic type—to 'Mount Egmont in the Bay of Plenty'. Now I know perfectly well where Mount Egmont is, and I know it is not in the Bay of Plenty. I have had ocular demonstration of it, I have stood on top of it, I have slid down it. And yet there is that awful, that appalling phrase, with its air of quiet and casual certitude. Should the historian, after all, be allowed to make any geographical statement? Could anything more instantaneously, more finally, prove me the pretentious ignoramus? Looking back, reconstructing the order of events, I can see quite well how that phrase came into existence. But reconstruction is no comfort. There it is. And the frightful query arises, to haunt the watches of the night—how many others, in 970 pages, are there like it?