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

9. Lieutenant Thomas Forster to Banks

9. Lieutenant Thomas Forster to Banks

[Mitchell Library Ms, ‘Voluntiers’, pp. 503–6]


I did myself the honour to write to you by a ship that sailed from hence the 7th of August last, congratulating you on your safe arrival in your native country, after so long and dangerous a voyage; and took the liberty, at the same time, to give you an abridgement of my own history from the time that you left the Rio de Janro. But as my letter went by a merchant ship, from my reluctance to put you to the expense of postage,1 I am afraid it may have miscarried; it was to have gone by Govr Johnstone, who was kind enough to promise to deliver it into your own hands; but having unfortunately missed him the evening before his departure, I lost that favourable opportunity, which obliges me to trouble you now with a few lines by Col Grosett, who is my particular friend, and will give a fuller account of my history and Situation, than I can possibly presume to trouble you with, in a letter: As will Govr page 322 Johnstone, if you should meet him, to whome I was particularly known here. All that I shall repeat, therefore, of my former letter is, that having remain'd in confinement a considerable time after you sailed from Brasil, I was set at liberty, without any charge having been formally brought against me, or any satisfaction for the injury I had suffered; My health, however, was so considerably impaired, that I was under a necessity of sollicting leave to return to Europe which I obtained, and Arrived in Lisbon in June 1769. The effects of the Voyage and change of Air, were such, that I was soon in a capacity to return to my Regt and my duty; but as I had reason to fear a relapse if I went back to Brasil I sollicited admission into some other corps stationed within the Kingdom but did not succeed. I then declared my readiness to return to my former Regt, but as that was impracticable without money, both for the discharge of debts I had contracted in Lisbon, and the payment of my passage; I sollicited, at the same time, an order for my pay, from the time when I left the Regt My title to which appeared incontestibly from the Vice Roys’ written Leave of absence, and other certificates and authentic documents annexed, which I prod[u]ced to the Marqs de Alvito, Gen1 of the Army, who kept, and still retains them, but this sollicitation, notwithstanding the number of petitions I presented, and the most assiduous attendance proved equally fruitless. I then, as the last resource, Petitioned for my demission from the service; which I have reason to think, would have been more readily granted, had not my necessities, and indeed my honour rendered it impossible for me to avoid clogging it with a demand for my pay, to enable me to discharge my debts, and to leave the country with credit. Be that as it will, here I am still unattended to, except in antichamber promises of Justice in general terms, with thirty two months pay due to me, and the embarrassments of my situation daily accumulating.

When I troubled you before with this detail more at large, I concluded with humbly requesting your interest with the Great, for a recommendation of my case to Mr Walpole, who was then expected here in quality of Envoy from our Court; but as his coming is not now so much as talk'd of, and as I have said above, my situation grows every day more intolerable, the report of your proposing to undertake a second voyage on descovery has emboldened me, Without withdrawing my first request, to prefer another, and that is, your interest for my having the honour to attend you; I am informed you are to carry Marines, and know your interest is equal to any thing which I could rationally expect in that way, so that my title to the exertion of that interest seems the only point in doubt, and that I implicitly refer to your known generosity. A few lines in answer, on receipt of this, were it but to Satisfy me that you have received my Letter, would oblige me greatly.

For an account of my character, both in a Military and civil capacity, I refer you to Govr Johnston and Col1 Grositt, and to Mr Gordon page 323 and Mr Hunter of this place; both of whom are knowen to you, and desire their most respectful complts—I am

Sr Your most obedient
Hble Servt
Thos Forster
Lieut, in the Regt of
Lisbon 5th November 1771
To Joseph Banks Esqr

1 That is, he entrusted it to the captain or some other officer on board, for personal delivery to Banks.