Murihiku: A History of the South Island of New Zealand and the Islands Adjacent and Lying to the South, from 1642 to 1835
CHAPTER II. — Cook Explores, 1770
Cook Explores, 1770.
THE period from 1643 to 1769 seems, as we look back to it, to be a very long one for explorers to sit calmly down and make no effort to clear up the mystery of the South Pacific. Whatever energy was spent elsewhere in geographical exploration, the Australian coastline and the shape of New Zealand were left as Tasman marked them on the map of the world. And it is difficult to say how long that state of things would have continued but for the interest in exploration which was awakened amongst scientists by the approach of the transit of Venus in 1769. A memorial had been presented to the King praying for a thoroughly equipped vessel to be sent out to the South Seas to observe the phenomenon, and the petition contained therein having been granted, Tahiti was selected as the locality, and James Cook was appointed commander of the expedition.
Although the object was astronomical, additional instructions were given to Cook. The old idea of Tasman's day of an immense continent in the South Pacific had not been disproved by the discoveries of 1642. All that Tasman had done was to confine the range of the unknown to a smaller portion of the earth's surface. It was still believed that a large area of land must exist somewhere in the south, to compensate for the known area of land in the north, and the New Zealand coastline of Tasman was thought to be the margin of the long looked for territory. To solve this problem, Cook had instructions to proceed to the south, and on the fortieth parallel sail westward until he discovered the New Zealand of Tasman. That country he was to explore thoroughly before he returned home.page 14
Amongst the passengers on board the Endeavour were two men of distinguished attainments—Joseph Banks and Dr. Solander. The former, a Fellow of the Royal Society, accompanied Cook, and took with him, at his own expense, Dr. Solander, one of the librarians of the British Museum, as scientist. Banks had also on his staff two draughtsmen, a secretary, and four servants. His trip on board the Endeavour made him, for the remainder of his busy and distinguished career, the warmest and perhaps the most useful friend the young countries of Australia and New Zealand have ever possessed.
Cook followed out his instructions to the letter and sighted New Zealand near where Gisborne now stands on 6th October, 1769. Thence he sailed south and then north, passing round the North Cape and down the west coast of the North Island until, on 13th January, 1770, he reached Cape Egmont.
After passing Cape Egmont, Cook continued in a southerly direction, along the coast of the North Island, and at 5.30 a.m. on Sunday, 14th January, 1770, got his first glimpse of the South Island in the form of the high land in the vicinity of Pelorus Sound and, steering his vessel for it, was within 2 leagues of the land by 8 p.m. Looking at Tasman's charts, which were used on the voyage, it was thought that the Endeavour was then in Murderers Bay, and preparations were made for going into one of the inlets visible from the ship. Next morning, however, it was found that the Endeavour had been carried to the eastward during the night, and was opposite the entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound. This Cook entered.
Not much difficulty was experienced in sailing up the Sound, and when the wind fell away or chopped about, the boats were got out and manned, and the Endeavour towed up past the Island of Motuara, and anchored in Ship Cove.
While sailing up the Sound, canoes passed backwards and forwards in front of the Endeavour, and on Motuara the inhabitants of a very populous village greeted the expedition with loud shouts as the vessel swung round the page 15 outside of the island and made for a sheltered cove which Cook detected on the mainland. No sooner was the anchor down in Ship Cove than several canoes visited the vessel, and as they paddled round, vented their humour by throwing stones at the strange apparition. One native, however, evinced a desire to board the Endeavour, and though his companions did their best to restrain him, he took advantage of a rope's end thrown him and climbed on deck. Once communication was established, Cook took care that the visitor was well treated, and with a substantial supply of presents, and no jarring note in his reception, the native returned to the canoe and its occupants paddled away.
It should be mentioned that among those on Cook's ship was a young Tahitian named Tupaea, a chief priest, well versed in the literature of his countrymen. This young man was brought on board through the action of Banks, after Cook had refused his request “to be taken with the expedition.” His presence proved of great value, from the fact that he could converse with the New Zealand natives. It was owing to his capabilities in this respect that Cook returned laden with knowledge regarding the New Zealand natives, and perhaps it was the means of getting this information that caused the result of Cook's work to contrast so favourably with that of other navigators.
As the Endeavour was badly in need of cleaning, she was next morning careened, and two days were spent in cleaning her sides. This work was suffered to go on without molestation from the natives, after the first forward ones had received a charge of small shot as a gentle warning to keep their distance.
Naturally, one of the first things inquired after was for any tradition concerning ships having been on the coast before, and the reply of the natives that they had never seen or heard of any vessels but their present visitors, showed that Tasman's vessel was unknown, at any rate to the natives of this part of the country.
During Cook's stay on the coast the question of the cannibal tendencies of the natives came under notice on page 16 several occasions, but it was not until Queen Charlotte Sound was reached that actual demonstration of the fact that the bodies of human beings were used for food by the inhabitants of New Zealand was obtained. After dinner on 16th January Cook and Banks rowed round to the first cove to the north, a distance of only two miles from where the vessel was lying, and there found, among the provision baskets, human bones, which the natives did not seek to hide nor to deny the knowledge of. They were cannibals, they admitted it, they gloried in it, and they showed how the flesh was prepared for their cannibal feasts.
When we look at the present deserted appearance of Queen Charlotte Sound in the neighbourhood of Motuara Island, it is difficult to conceive that at the date of Cook's visit the mouth of the Sound had a population of from 300 to 400 souls. The Scenic Reserve at Ship Cove and the few bays where the original forest covering has been preserved, give us, however, an idea of the lovely scene which greeted Cook's eyes when first he sailed up past the island. The dense bush-clad hills supplied sustenance to vast numbers of birds, the sea gave similar supplies to quantities of fish, and the birds and the fish thus provided for were the chief food supplies of the comparatively dense population which inhabited the Sound.
The bird life can be compared with nothing there now, and, probably, with very little else now to be found in the Dominion. The mere protection of a few thousand acres of bush-clad hills will no more save for posterity the native fauna of a country than will a National Park in America preserve herds of bison from extinction. Banks describes the morning melody of the feathered songsters of Queen Charlotte Sound:—
“I was awakened by the singing of the birds ashore, from whence we are distant not a quarter of a mile. Their numbers were certainly very great. They seemed to strain their throats with emulation, and made, perhaps, the most melodious wild music I have ever heard, almost imitating small bells, but page 17 “with the most tunable silver sound imaginable, to which, maybe, the distance was no small addition. On inquiring of our people, I was told that they had observed them ever since we had been here, and that they begin to sing about one or two in the morning, and continue till sunrise, after which they are silent all day, like our nightingales.”
The first arrivals of the New Zealand Company reported the same melody in 1839. The visitor in 1909 listens in vain.
The natives appeared to Cook to group themselves around fortified spots on different islands, from which they sailed out and occupied the little coves and bays on both sides of the Sound. The citadel at Motuara, Cook now visited, apparently without any fear of treachery from the natives. On the first visit he was shown over the stockade “with a good deal of seeming good nature,” though signs were everywhere visible of recent cannibal feasts. A week later, he again visited the spot, to obtain the consent of the chief to the erection of a memento of his visit. On the other hand, when his men visited the locality on their own account, terrified at two canoes paddling towards them, firearms were used, fortunately without loss of life; but it served to show what misfortunes might happen when the directing mind of the commander was absent.
Cook's description of the fortified post at Motuara as “a small island or rock separated by a breach so small that a person could jump across, its steep sides only requiring a slight pallisade and one small fighting stage,” still serves for a description as it is now, covered with dense undergrowth, and giving to the visitor a very different reception to that which it accorded the great explorer, when, in 1770, he sailed past its pallisades lined with wild, shouting cannibals.
Having overhauled the Endeavour, Cook set himself first to provide for the refreshment of his crew, and then to undertake the exploration of the coastline in the vicinity. Empty casks were taken out and filled, timber for firewood page 18 was cut, fish were caught, and birds were shot. In addition to this the scientists scoured the bush-clad hills. On Monday, 22nd January, on one of his many surveying expeditions, Cook went some twelve or fifteen miles up the Sound, and, not finding the end of it, landed and climbed the hills on the eastern side. He was disappointed in his hoped-for view of the Sound itself, but was rewarded, on looking over to the east, with a sight of the long suggested strait, which Tasman had in vain attempted to locate. Cook had climbed the hill with only one companion, and, as might have been expected, “returned in high spirits.” He had seen the strait, the land stretching away to the eastward on the other side, and the open sea to the south-east.
On a later date, accompanied by Banks and Solander, Cook again ascended the hill and carefully examined the western entrance of the strait, which was to be named after him. Cook Strait. On this occasion, the party, before returning, erected a pyramid of stones, in which were placed musket balls, shot, beads, and anything available likely to stand the test of time. On Monday the 29th, or three days after this, a visit was made to Jackson Head, and on the top of the hill, from which a view was taken seaward and the different spots located, a cairn was built, mementos placed therein, and an old pennant left flying from a pole upon it.
In addition to these records of his visit to the Sound, Cook caused two posts to be prepared giving the day, date and name of his vessel. One of the posts was erected at the watering-place, where it is to-day proposed that Cook's monument shall be located; the other was taken over to Motuara, and, after the consent of the natives had been procured, was carried to the highest point of the island, When it was placed in position there, the flag was hoisted, the inlet was named Queen Charlotte Sound, after the King's Consort, and possession of the mainland was taken in the name of the King.page 19
On Motuara Island, therefore, British sovereignty was, on 31st January, 1770, first declared in the South Island of New Zealand.
In view of our present knowledge of New Zealand, it is worth recording that Cook, on the occasion of hoisting the flag, was told by an old Maori who accompanied him that New Zealand consisted of three islands, of which two were called Te Wai Pounamu, and could be circumnavigated in four days. It was not until 39 years afterwards that geographers proved the old Maori's statement in regard to the number of islands to be correct. The reference to the four days, however, is not easy to understand.
In his explorations of the Sound, Cook sailed a considerable distance towards the head of it, and his published chart gives a very accurate representation of the broken coastline up to and beyond Tory Channel. His plan shows that he must actually have seen the channel though unaware that it communicated with the ocean. As the Sound at the mouth of Tory Channel trends away to the westward, Cook thought that it provided an outlet to the sea in that direction. When making inquiries amongst the natives regarding a channel, he was told that there was none, but this error might have been caused by Cook's idea of a western channel suggesting the form of question, which would, of course, be answered in the negative.
On Monday, 5th February, Cook weighed anchor and left the Cove, but did not get further than Motuara Island, where he was forced to remain until 6 o'clock next morning, when a light breeze enabled him to leave the Sound.
Before getting clear of the land Cook had a very exciting experience off Stephens Island. There the force of the tide is very great, and in a calm he was carried along at a great speed, and only prevented from being dashed against the rocks by letting go his anchor in seventy-five fathoms, and paying out one hundred and fifty fathoms of cable to bring his ship to a standstill, two cables' length from danger. From this perilous position the Endeavour did not get clear until the turn of the tide at midnight, page 20 when a favourable wind enabled Cook to get clear of a very dangerous headland.
After sailing through the strait Cook would have passed to the southward, but a discussion having arisen among his officers whether the land to the north was really an island, he decided to put the point beyond doubt, and, steering northward, followed the eastern coastline until a sight of Cape Turnagain put the question beyond doubt.
Having satisfied himself regarding the insularity of the northern land, Cook put about and resumed his southern journey. When off Kaikoura on Tuesday, 14th February, four double canoes, with fifty-seven men on board, came off to visit the Endeavour, but nothing would induce the natives to come on board. “They talked much, put themselves in threatening postures and shook their lances, though all possible means was used we could not get them to venture alongside.”1 The low lying land from which the natives came off appeared like an island, and, from the attitude of the natives, was called Lookers On. It is now known as Kaikoura, and is one of the most beautiful spots along that coast.
At daylight on the Friday following, land appeared to the south, “seemingly detached” from the coast along which Cook was sailing, and the vessel's head was directed towards it. Next morning, at sunrise, “we plainly discovered that the last mentioned land was an Island, by seeing part of the land of Tovypoenammu open to the Westward of it.” This was called Banks Island, and shows how difficult it is from the sea to distinguish peninsula from island. A passenger from Wellington to Lyttelton has only, an hour or so before reaching port, to look towards Christchurch and try to pick up the connection of the peninsula with the mainland to realise the difficulty of making certain whether a peninsula or an island is in view.
As the Endeavour sailed past, Cook saw and noted the clear, bold entrance to Akaroa Harbour.
Almost the only part of New Zealand which Cook allowed himself to get out of sight of, for any length of page 21 time, was the stretch of coastline from Banks Peninsula down below Timaru, and this is the weakest spot of his otherwise accurate chart. Passing the peninsula, Mr. Gore, one of the officers, thought he detected land to the S.E., and Cook, although regarding the appearance as clouds, gave way to this officer and sailed towards that quarter. Nothing could be found, and when the land to the westward was no longer visible Cook thought that here must be the end of the land as described by the Maori at Queen Charlotte Sound, and accordingly hauled to the westward to weather the island. The result was that the land was again picked up and the southern coasting voyage continued.
Between Timaru and Oamaru climatic conditions were unfavourable, and considerable time was lost before Cape Saunders came in sight on 25th February, 1770. The bays towards Waikouaiti were noted, and at one stage Cook thought of casting anchor within one of them, but his desire to survey the coastline (the extent of which in front of him still remained uncertain), prompted him to go on. Cape Saunders he called after Admiral Sir Charles Saunders, who commanded the fleet in which Cook served at Quebec in 1759. As he sailed along, Saddle Hill caught the keen eye of the explorer, who noted: “There is a remarkable saddle hill laying near the Shore, three or four Leagues S.W. of the Cape (Saunders).”
When in a line with Foveaux Strait the great navigator made an effort to pick up the supposed continent to the south, and sailed in that direction, looking for signs of land. On the twenty-eighth, finding none, he stood away to the north, and on 2nd March was about 68 miles from Cape Saunders. A south-west swell continuing until the third, confirmed his opinion that there was no land near in that direction, and on the fourth he made westward to complete his survey of the mainland. Whales, seals, and a penguin were seen on the fourth, and the fact is recorded that no seals had been seen by him on the whole coast of the North Island. At half-past one land was again visible and before dark they were within 9 or 12 miles of it. The page 22 description given by Cook indicates that the land sighted was part of the coast at the Molyneux. This name was, in fact, given to the bay by Cook after the master of the ship, Robert Molyneux. A fire was visible on the coast the whole night, so that evidently at that date the land was inhabited.
As Cook sailed on, the mountains of Stewart Island, stretching away to the south, loomed out over the top of Ruapuke, and are thus described: “We could not see this land join to that of the Northward of us, there either being a total separation, a deep Bay, or low land between them.” It is interesting to note that the first appearance of the land at Stewart Island suggested to Cook its insularity. Why he put it down as the mainland will appear later. On this subject Sydney Parkinson, Banks' draughtsman, speaks even more emphatically: “The land which we then saw at a considerable distance, seemed to be an island, having a great opening between it and the land which we had passed before; but, the captain designing to go round, we steered for the south point, hoping it was the last.”1
During the night of the ninth and morning of the tenth March the expedition nearly came to a sudden and disastrous termination. At daybreak, when off the southern point of Stewart Island, there was suddenly discovered under the bow, not more than three-quarters of a mile distant, a ledge of rocks upon which the sea broke very high. Owing to the direction of the wind, the rocks could not be weathered, so Cook tacked, made to the eastward, and got clear of the danger, through a lucky change of the wind. On examining these rocks, Cook found that they were six leagues from the land, and that three leagues to the northward lay others on which broke a tremendous surf. As he had passed these latter rocks in the night, and discovered the others under his bow at day-break, his escape was a very narrow one indeed. To these rocks the name Traps was given.
At this point Cook describes the land (Stewart Island) as having “very much the appearance of an Island page 23 extending N.E. by N. to N.W. by W., distant from the Shore about 4 or 5 leagues.”
It was now patent that they had reached the end of the land. A large hollow swell from the south-west continuing ever since their last gale convinced Cook that there was no land in that direction. He gave, therefore the name of South Cape to the point, and decided to try and make round to his initial point by the west coast. Here let it be noted that Cook did not call the point the South Cape under the impression that it was the extremity of the mainland. At this stage he had twice concluded that it was an island; the error of supposing it to be part of the mainland had yet to be made.
The day on which the south of New Zealand was rounded was a junior officer's birthday, and to provide a special delicacy, a dog was killed, the hind quarters roasted, the fore made into a pie, and with the stomach the nearest possible approach to a haggis provided for the Scotchmen of the expedition. Early as it was in New Zealand history, indications pointed to Scotch domination of Southern New Zealand.
On 11th March Cook discovered on his left, a very high barren rock about a mile in circumference, which he named Solander Island, after Dr. Solander, who accompanied him. He now found himself in what appeared a large, open bight, with no sign of any harbour or shelter for shipping, against south-west and southerly winds. The face of the country was rugged, being full of craggy hills, on the summits of which were several patches of snow. Bush could be seen in the valleys and on the high ground, but there was no sign of any inhabitants. The wind inclining to the shore, Cook did not like the position, and again stood out to sea.
It was here he made his final observations on the question of whether what is now known as Stewart Island, was an island or merely part of the mainland. He says:—
“And now we thought that the land to the Southward, or that we had been sailing round these 2 days past, was an Island, because there appeared on Open page 24 “Channel between the N. part of that land and the S. part of the other in which we thought we saw the Small Island we were in with the 6th Instant; but when I came to lay this land down upon paper from the several bearings I had taken, it appeared that there was but little reason to suppose it an Island. On the contrary I hardly have a doubt but what it joins to and makes a part of the Mainland.”
Unless given us in Cook's own words, it would be incredible that he could have made such a mistake—of concluding that it was part of the mainland. The opinion too, appears to have been formed after mature deliberation. The island is triangular in shape; and while off the eastern angle “we could not see this land join to that to the Northward”; while off the southern angle it had “very much the appearance of an Island”; and while off the northern angle “we thought we saw the Small Island we were in with the 6th Instant.” Satisfied from looking at Nature's work that it was an island, Cook changed his mind when he contemplated his own sketch on his cabin chart, and marked down the coast seen as part of the mainland. One of the great observers of Nature of his day, he discounted three observations of Nature by one observation of his own handswork. The mistakes at Kaikoura and Banks Peninsula were easily made, and were very different from calling Stewart Island a peninsula, after making three observations that it was an island. Cook's conclusion was adopted by all for thirty-eight years, and navigators, acting on it, sailed round the South Cape instead of coming through the strait. It was not until early in 1809 that the error was rectified, and Foveaux Strait disclosed to the shipping world.
Coming out of Colac Bay, Cook steered round Solander Island, and on the thirteenth picked up the land again. As it cleared up in the afternoon, he hauled in for a bay which he detected, and in which there appeared to be good anchorage; but in about an hour, finding the distance too great to run before it would be dark, and the wind blowing too hard to make the attempt safe in the night, he bore away along page 25 the coast. This bay Cook called Dusky Bay, the name evidently suggested by his inability to make it before dusk. About noon on the day after leaving Dusky, Cook describes passing “a little Narrow opening in the land where there appear'd to be a very Snug Harbour form'd by an Island”—Doubtful Sound. Cook says:—
“The land on each side the Entrance of this Harbour riseth almost perpendicular from the Sea to a very considerable Height; and this was the reason why I did not attempt to go in with the Ship, because I saw clearly that no winds could blow there but what was right in or right out, that is, Westerly or Easterly; and it certainly would have been highly imprudent in me to have put into a place where we could not have got out but with a wind that we have lately found to blow but one day in a Month. I mention this because there was some on board that wanted me to harbour at any rate, without in the least Considering either the present or future Consequences.”
He is evidently referring to the incident which produced the name Doubtful, and that the person indicated was Banks, is put beyond doubt when we read the latter's journal, where he says they passed, much to his regret, three or four places, with the appearance of harbours as he wished to examine the mineral appearance.
Reviewing his trip along the west coast, Cook, when in sight of Stephens Island, summed up the result as follows: “From Point Five Fingers down to the Latitude of 44° 20′ there is a narrow ridge of Hills rising directly from the Sea, which are Cloathed with wood; close behind these hills lies the ridge of Mountains, which are of a Prodidgious height, and appear to consist of nothing but barren rocks, covered in many places with large patches of Snow, which perhaps have lain there since the Creation. No country upon Earth can appear with a more ruged and barren Aspect than this doth; from the Sea' for as page 26 “far inland as the Eye can reach nothing is to be seen but the Summits of these rocky Mountains, which seem to lay so near one another as not to admit any Vallies between them. From the Latitude of 44° 20′ to the Latitude 42° 8′ these mountains lay farther inland; the Country between them and the sea consists of woody Hills and Vallies of Various extent both for height and Depth, and hath much the Appearance of Fertility. Many of the Vallies are large, low, and flatt, and appeared to be wholly covered with Wood; but it is very probable that great part of the land is taken up in Lakes, Ponds, etc., as is very common in such like places. From the last mentioned Lat. to Cape Farewell, afterwards so Called, the land is not distinguished by anything remarkable; it rises into hills directly from the Sea, and is covered with wood. While we were upon this part of the Coast the weather was foggy, in so much that we could see but a very little way inland; however, we sometimes saw the Summits of the Mountains above the fogg and Clouds, which plainly shew'd that the inland parts were high and Mountainous, and gave me great reason to think that there is a Continued Chain of Mountains from the one End of the Island to the other.”
Cook decided to anchor and obtain refreshments for his homeward voyage without pushing on as far as Queen Charlotte Sound; accordingly, after rounding Stephens Island, he sailed along the coast of D'Urville Island and past the small Rangitoto Islands until he reached a cove on the eastern shore of the former island. Here he cast anchor within two or three miles of where Tasman had, in 1642, anchored the Heemskerck and the Zeehaen. In the immediate vicinity was found a suitable water place. There the Endeavour was moored, and wood and water obtained for the expedition. Cook himself took advantage of the opportunity to explore the bay, and sailed in his pinnace along the coast until he reached a projecting piece of land page 27 at the entrance to the French Pass, but though he obtained a good view he failed to distinguish the head of the bay. The name Admiralty Bay was given to the stretch of water between the capes, which were called after the Secretaries of the Admiralty, Stephens and Jackson. Cape Jackson in New Zealand and Port Jackson in New South Wales are named after the same person.
Cook decided to return home via the east of Australia and chart that coastline, rather than, in the depth of winter, try to solve the problem of the southern continent by sailing for Cape Horn. At daylight on Saturday, 31st March, 1770, he put to sea.
While Tasman had traced out the general coastline of the Australian continent, and had indicated the western coastline of New Zealand on the heretofore unknown map of the South, Cook's discoveries now brought to light the Islands of New Zealand, and shrunk into very moderate limits the area of the supposed Antarctic Continent.
The vast extent of the South Pacific still left unexplored naturally occupied Cook's attention a good deal, and from his coign of vantage as an explorer, on the return of the Endeavour, he placed upon record his opinion of the best course to follow when the problem of further discoveries in the south came again to be faced. His plan was to enter the South Sea by way of New Zealand, first touching and refreshing at the Cape of Good Hope, thence proceeding to the southward of New Holland, and on to Queen Charlotte Sound, again refreshing there, taking care to be ready to leave that place by the latter end of September, or the beginning of October at the latest. By this means the whole summer would be before him after getting through Cook Strait, and consequently a run could be made to the eastward in as high a latitude as was thought desirable. Queen Charlotte Sound was thus made the base of future South Sea exploring operations. Subsequent chapters will show to what extent his advice was adopted.
Cook attributes a great deal of his success and others' failure to the class of vessel employed. Everyone had his page 28 own opinion of what was a suitable vessel. Some advocated forty-gun boats or East India Company's ships; others preferred large, good sailing frigates, or the three decked ships employed in the Jamaica trade. Cook's idea was entirely different. The ship must have the qualities which would best combat the anticipated dangers, the greatest of which in the most distant parts of the world was running aground on an unknown, and perhaps savage coast. The ship, therefore, must not be of very great draught, yet of sufficient burden and capacity to carry a proper quantity of provisions and necessaries for her complement of men for the full time necessary. She must be constructed to take the ground with a minimum of danger, and to lie comfortably on shore while accidental damage was being repaired. This could not be done with forty-gun ships of war, frigates, East India Company's ships, or the large three-decker West Indiamen. The only vessel fulfilling these requirements was the North Country ship, intended for the coal trade. The Navy Board, therefore, recommended the Lords of the Admiralty to purchase “a cat built bark” instead of a ship of war, as providing more storage room for a long voyage. Being authorised to purchase, they procured a “bark of the burthen of 368 tons,” called her the Endeavour, and fitted her out for a voyage.2 Cook's eulogium on his old vessel was as follows:—
“It was upon these considerations (mentioned above) that the Endeavour was chosen for that voyage. It was to these properties in her that those on board owed their preservation; and hence we were able to prosecute discoveries in those seas so much longer than any other ship ever did, or could do. And, although discovery was not the first object of that voyage, I could venture to traverse a far greater space of sea, till then unnavigated, to discover greater tracts of country on high and low south latitudes, and to persevere longer in exploring and surveying more correctly the extensive coasts of page 29 “those new discovered countries, than any former Navigator, perhaps, had done during one voyage.”
The fate of the Endeavour has often been a matter of doubt, and always one of interest. Distinguished persons have held that her bones were laid to rest in New Zealand; an ex-Governor of this colony going so far as to label a piece of our oldest wreck, “Cook's Endeavour.” Only quite recently one of the leading politicians in Australia stated that the old Endeavour would be purchased by his Government and anchored in Botany Bay. For what records we have of her history we are indebted to the enthusiasm of admirers of Cook in different parts of the world, whose researches show that the old barque had many ups and down after Cook left her.
The first account of her career may be thus stated with perfect confidence.
1768 A barque called the Earl of Pembroke built at Whitby, was purchased by the Admiralty, renamed the Endeavour, and sailed with Captain Cook.
1770 Sailed round the South Island of New Zealand.
1771 Arrived in England, and on 15th August was put into commission to sail to the Falkland Islands as a store ship.
1774 Paid off on 22nd October, after completing her third voyage to the Falkland Islands.
1775 Sold on 7th March for the sum of £645.
After this, there are conflicting accounts regarding her.
Some claimed that she is identical with La Liberte, a French vessel which ended her days at Rhode Island and that her history is as follows.
1790 Sold to an American (Capt. Wm. Hayden) in France, and name changed to La Liberte.
1791 Fitted out as a French whaler at Dunkirk and sailed from there.
1793 Arrived at Newport Harbour on 23rd August from a whaling voyage near the Cape of Good Hope. Nathaniel Churchill, master.page 30
1794 Attempting to leave Newport she was disabled; subsequently she was condemned, dismantled and sold.
1815 A great gale in Newport Harbour demolished her hull.
1827 From a piece of the hull, dragged out of the mud, a presentation box was made, and given to Fennimore Cooper by his admirers.
The rival contention thus lays down her history:—
1825 On the Thames near Greenwich on show to visitors.
1834 Between Greenwich and Woolwich, used as a receiving ship for female convicts.
When the American contention was first published in 1834 it evoked a lengthy correspondence in the Newport, Providence and Boston papers and met with most emphatic opposition from shipping masters and others, who contended that Cook's Endeavour was not in Newport Harbour but in the Thames above Greenwich. After a careful examination of the evidence, the author has come to the conclusion that the long accepted Newport version is not established, and that the balance of testimony is in favour of the contention that Cook's Endeavour ended her days in the Thames.