Title: Exotic Intruders

Author: Joan Druett

Publication details: Heinemann, 1983, Auckland

Digital publication kindly authorised by: Joan Druett

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Exotic Intruders

Engraving of Captain James Cook

Engraving of Captain James Cook

When Cook was given the command of the Endeavour, he was known as a quietly competent seaman, gifted in matters of navigation and chart-making. All his commanding officers had spoken well of him. After his first journey in the vessel, he also came to be famous—or notorious—for insisting at all times on cleanliness, the airing and fumigation at regular intervals of all quarters of the ship, and the complete and annotated consumption of antiscorbutics by all of his crew.

Cook was a big man, tall and built wide to match. His eyes, by all accounts, were cool and self-contained. That this man was human is recorded by a rather priggish young Swede, Sparrman, who was a botanist on the second voyage. 'Even in my anxiety,' wrote Sparrman, 'I drew no small satisfaction from observing the rapidity and lack of confusion with which each command was executed to save the ship ... I should have preferred, however,' he added in lofty tones, 'to hear fewer 'Goddams' from the officers and particularly the Captain, who, while the danger lasted, stamped about the deck and grew hoarse with shouting.'