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The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volume Two]

3. Banks's Projected ‘Gazetteer’ Letter

3. Banks's Projected ‘Gazetteer’ Letter

To the printer of the Gazetteer

Mr Say,

The letter concerning Mr Banks and Dr Solander which was printed in your paper of the 11th I am sorry to say is very true, and as I am informd of some circumstances relative to that affair which have escapd the notice of the gentleman who wrote it, I shall through the Channel of your paper communicate them to the publick

Upon Mr Banks's remonstrating on the palpable impropriety of the ship for the voyage intended which he did the first time he saw her he was answerd roughly that she could not nor should not be alterd; this made him warm, and he declard that he suspected some jobb, as nothing else in his opinion could have been the cause of a ship so apparently improper being destind for any purpose. this allegation, in effect too true, stung the people concernd so home that from that moment they determind to disapoint his voyage: accordingly they immediately orderd that the alterations proposd by Mr Banks should be put in execution, but Cloggd them with many more of their own, the Round house particularly, which was no part of Mr Banks's plan and in order to secure their intention of rendering her unfit for the sea, built these upper works so much stronger than was necessary, that the top of this same round house, was literaly thicker than the deck on which the guns stood: nay so palpable was this, that a man who had a small share in purchasing the Ship tho I beleive none in the Job, remonstrated to the Comptrouler of the navy against so absurd a proceeding as it then appeared to all who did not know the final intention of it.

When by all these alterations the ship was rendered unfit for the sea these very people who had so dirtily undermind Mr Banks; orderd the ship to be reducd to her former state declaring that the alterations were all made at Mr Banks's desire: that they had cost government the monstrous sum of £14000: that the Ship was still good enough for him, tho in the state in which he at first refusd her and that nothing but his whimsical and fickle disposition, prevented him from sailing in her. with these illiberal falsehoods were the ears of a great personage constantly 1 who deceivd by them, ceasd to protect Mr Banks as he had formerly done, falsehoods almost too absurd to answer, page 343 yet will I seperately enquire into each article, in order to shew the publick by what underhand and wicked means, the most publick spirited undertaking was rendered absurd. 1st that the alterations were all made at Mr Banks's request. The only alterations proposd by that gentleman which could possibly affect the ship was raising the deck over the Cabbin about 11 inches after which the same deck was by order of Mr Banks's Enemies extended the whole lengh of the Ship and upon it was built a large round house. 2ndly that these alterations had cost government 14000 Monstrous absurdity, every body who is accquainted with the India trade knows, that an Indiaman, tho near twice as big as the resolution, is built, riggd, and filld with all necessary stores, for 10000. yet absurd as this assertion is, some men of high rank, have taken pains to propagate it among the ignorant. 3dly that the ship as she was when reducd was sufficient for Mr Banks and his people, if he chose to go. by crouding the common men into a space so small that they must have been sickly, the same quantity of room was offerd to him as he had in his last voyage; which he refusd, because, he who had now engag'd 5 artists to go with him, had in his last voyage, found his accommodations too small for the three he then took with him. Lastly that his whimsical and fickle disposition had so far alterd his opinion, that he was glad of an opportunity to decline the Voyage. to that I answer, that he still keeps his companions together at a large expence, and labours earnestly to prevail upon the publick to put it in his power to make the same voyage as he has been disapointed of; declaring to all his freinds that when disapointed of every hope from the publick, he will undertake at his own expence, such a voyage as his circumstances will allow him to bear the charge of; tho he is conscious, that without publick assistance, he can do little; yet will he exert himse[l]f to the utmost, not at all doubting that if he meets with success, the publick [will] on his return be inclind to indulge him in the execution of his favourite plan.


1 Blank in Ms.