The Life of Captain James Cook
XVIII — England 1775–1776
1 Mitchell Library, Ms As 24; Journals II, 957.
2 Mitchell Library, Ms 78–1; Journals II, 953.
Meanwhile there was plenty for Cook to do. His earlier communications from the Cape had come to the Admiralty in late June—'Glorious Voyage', Solander had written to Banks—and the Dutton had preceded the Resolution at Portsmouth by ten or twelve days. He arrived with a final despatch in his hand—'The behaviour of my Officers & Crew during ye whole Course of ye Voyage merits from me the highest recommendations and I Shall be happy if my Conduct meets with their Lordships approbation'1— with reports on diet, his system of hygiene and the seamen's health, an armful of charts and drawings. While the captain was in attendance on the Lords, Wales had the trusty friend, the precious object, in hand: 'On Monday I brought the Watch up with me to London in a Post-Chaise and on Tuesday Carried it down to Greenwich in a Coach & delivered it to the Revd Mr Maskelyne.'2 Philosophers of all kinds, naval administrators, ocean-sailing mariners, had been presented with enough to talk about. One of the long chapters of human speculation had come to an end: simply as comment on the great classical hypotheses of geography—familiars through two millenia, on the maps that adorned the famous atlases—there is something magnificent in the amplitude and completeness of the voyage. There was something almost cruelly final about it, in relation to the myth that had gripped geographers with such tenacity; for it was in precisely this year, 1775, that Alexander Dalrymple published the collection of Atlantic voyages, the introduction to which detailed his transactions with Lord North of 1772.3 Their subject was his desire to be sent at his own expense to colonise the island discovered by the Spanish Léon in 1756, where food might be grown for East Indian ships and West Indian slaves, whale and seal fisheries exploited, and a base set up for the exploration of the continent attached to Cape Circumcision and for the enlargement of British commerce. Lord North's aim, successfully accomplished, was to drop the subject. Cook's investigation of South Georgia showed that the prime ministerial inertia was well advised. No one could argue that Dalrymple had not rushed on fate; and fate had been swift. French dreams, as well as his, had gone. But the ocean of islands, of measurable distances, had taken on form. Wales, in his coach, carried down to Greenwich a proved revolution.
1 Canberra Letter Book; Journals II, 694–5.
2 Journals II, cxi, from Wales's journal.
3 A Collection of Voyages, chiefly in the Southern Atlantick Ocean. London, 1775.
The Resolution was ordered up to Gallions Reach, whence it was intended she should go to Deptford to be paid off and laid up. Cook, home at Mile End, was on 9 August presented at St James's Palace, promoted post-captain and appointed to the Kent, a 74-gun ship built in 1762. The very next day this appointment was cancelled. The ship was to be laid up at Plymouth: the new post-captain was to go not to her, but to Greenwich Hospital, as Fourth Captain on that naval establishment: that is, he was to be very honourably pensioned, at £230 per annum, with free quarters, fire and light, and is 2d per diem table money. He did not think he was ripe for pensioning. We must suppose some discussions on the matter, and some arrangement about the exchange of letters between himself and the Admiralty secretary. There was to be a condition. Cook wrote, on 12 August,
The Death of Captain Clements one of the Captains in the Royal Hospital at Greenwich, making a Vacancy there, I humbly offer my self to my Lords Commissrs of the Admiralty as a Candidate for it, presuming if I am fortunate enough to merit their Lordships approbation, they will allow me to quit it when either the call of my Country for more active Service, or that my endeavours in any shape can be essential to the publick; as I would on no account be understood to withdraw from that line of service which their Lordships goodness has raised me to, knowing myself Capable of ingaging in any duty which they may be pleased to commit to my charge.1
1 P.R.O. Adm 1/1610 and 12/4806; Journals II, 958.
2 Solander to Banks, 14 August 1775; Mitchell Library, Banks Papers, Ms As 24; Journals II, 958–9.
As I have not now time to draw up an account of such occurrences of the Voyage as I wish to communicate to you, I can only thank you for your obliging letter and kind enquiryes after me during my absence; I must however tell you that the Resolution was found to answer, on all occasions even beyond my expectation and is so little injured by the Voyage that she will soon be sent out again, but I shall not command her, my fate drives me from one extream to a nother a few Months ago the whole Southern hemisphere was hardly big enough for me and now I am going to be confined within the limits of Greenwich Hospital, which are far too small for an active mind like mine, I must however confess it is a fine retreat and a pretty income, but whether I can bring my self to like ease and retirement, time will shew. Mrs Cook joins with me in best respects to you and all your family….1
He was Walker's most affectionate friend as well as humble servant, and a month later a long letter followed describing the voyage—'an imperfect outline', which he hoped Walker would excuse, 'as the multiplicity of business I have now on my hand will not admit of my being more particular or accurate. … I did expect and was in hopes that I had put an end to all Voyages of this kind to the Pacific Ocean … but the Sending home Omiah will occasion another voyage which I expect will soon be undertaken.'2 He did not forget his compliments to 'Mr Ellerton', who had been master of the collier Friendship when Cook was her mate in 1753, 'if he is yet living'.
1 Cook to Walker, 19 August 1775; Phillips coll. Salem, Mass.; Journals II, 960.
2 Cook to Walker, 14 September 1775; Dixson Library, Ms Q 141; Journals II, 699. I print the whole letter, pp. 696–9.
1 The name comes on a chart of 'Cooks Straits' drawn by Fannin, in a volume of his Ms charts and views now in the Navy Library, Vz 11/55, No. 1.
2 Journals II, 751. I print the whole of the relevant portion of Burney's journal, 18 December 1773, pp. 749–52. There are Ms copies of this, testifying to considerable interest.
Indiscriminate revenge had no appeal to Furneaux. He was out of Ship Cove the following day, ran into his habitual bad luck with the wind and could not clear the strait till 23 December. He stood to the south-east, a month behind Cook. A more imaginative man might have given more serious consideration to the possibility, having plunged a great way to the south, of following Cook to the islands. Since Cook, however, had communicated only 'thoughts' and not orders, Furneaux, when he was in latitude 61° S, abreast of the Horn, after a month in the lonely ocean with a straining ship and a cold and wet crew, westerlies still blowing and provisions damaged, thought it most prudent to steer for the Cape of Good Hope. He was devoted enough to make another attempt on Cape Circumcision, amid the fog and the icebergs, rightly concluding that any land that did exist must be a very inconsiderable island. He was in Table Bay on 19 March; refitted and refreshed, and sailed for England on 16 April. An uneventful passage took him home in three months, with all this story, and with Omai.
1 Daily Advertiser, 19 July 1774; Solander to a Scottish correspondent (Lind or Burnet?), 19 August 1774, Atl, Holograph Letters and Documents, 24. Journals II, 949–51. It was also said that Furneaux had introduced Omai at Cape Town as a 'priest of the Sun'.
1 Early Diary (London, 1913), I, 334.
All this was ridiculous, said the moralists, of whom Dr Forster was one; Omai should have been set to learn a trade, something that would have conduced to the advancement of his nation when he returned home; he should have been presented with tools, not trinkets. There is difficulty in thinking of any trade that would have adorned the life of the Society Islands, supposing this islander could have been brought to apply himself to it, and a few more axes and chisels would not have tended much to advancement. When he did fall into the hands of an educator—it was Granville Sharp—in the early part of 1776 the humanities and not technical instruction formed the substance of his lessons: Sharp taught him the English letters and the sounds they made, and the meaning of adultery, which Omai could illustrate very happily from the example of Lord Sandwich. After a few weeks of irregular application, however, the pupil found himself so burdened with engagements that he had not the time to continue.1 It was inevitable that in due course the excitement should die down, and King George and Lord Sandwich alike say, 'Omai, you go home'. Probably before that time came he did the best things for himself that he could have done, in enjoying himself hugely; for, though a child of nature, he was not one of nature's wise children. In the islands Cook had formed a low opinion of him, thinking Odiddy, or Hiti-hiti, also young and amiable, who had travelled in the Resolution, a person much to be preferred. In England he seems to have modified his condemnation somewhat, and he was probably far too busy to cast a cold eye on another's social amusements; after all, Omai's friendliness was undoubted, his gratitude for kindness unfeigned. On the other hand, by the time we are finished with him we may judge, with Cook, that he was at bottom a foolish inattentive fellow.
1 Edward Lascelles, Granville Sharp (London, 1928), 108–11, tells the story as well as anyone.
1 Wray to Hardwicke, 10 August 1775; John Nichols, Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century, I (London, 1817), 150.
2 Royal Society Library. Royal Society Certificates 1767–78.
1 R. L. and M. Edgeworth,Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth (London, 1820), I, 188–9.
A fortnight or more later there was another pleasant dinner, this time at the Mitre, with Pringle and some members of the Royal Society. 'I placed myself next to Captain Cooke,' says the diarist, 'and had a great deal of conversation with him; but I need not mark it, as his Book will tell it all.' Cook 'candidly confessed', however, that he and his companions, because of their ignorance of the South Sea language, could not be certain of any information they got, or supposed they got, 'except as to objects falling under the observation of the senses … any thing which they learnt about religion, government or traditions might be quite erroneous.' His account of New Zealand cannibalism was distinct enough. This did not repress Boswell's instinct to go voyaging, which rose again. His spirits were high:—‘as the company was rising from table, and Sir John making an apology for our not having had a very good dinner, I made a tolerable pun. “I have had a feast”, said I, (pointing to the Captain;) “I have had a good dinner, for I have had a good Cook.”' After this inevitable, this intolerable sally they drank coffee at Brown's Coffee House, and went on to the Royal Society for papers. A red letter day indeed for Boswell: he had conversed also with Solander and Banks.1 Four days after this, on 22 April, he went down early to visit Cook at Mile End. He was not early enough for breakfast, but the captain gave him tea in the garden, where a blackbird sang; talked well, shook hands, and said, 'Much obliged for your visit.'2 Quite pleasant, thought Boswell, thereupon making his way back to Westminster, to call upon the celebrated Mrs Rudd: he was piling up red letter days. Presumably it was about this time or a little later, and perhaps as one traveller to another, that he presented to Cook a copy of his Account of Corsica, inscribed, fittingly on the fly-leaf; 'Presented to Captain Cooke by the Authour, as a small memorial of his admiration of that Gentleman's most renowned merit as a Navigator, of his esteem of the Captain's good sense and worth, and of the grateful sense which he shall ever entertain of the civil and communicative manner in which the Captain was pleased to treat him. James Boswell.' On the back of the frontispiece the recipient wrote his signature.3
2 ibid., 262.
3 It was a copy of the 3rd edition, 1769; now in the Mitchell Library.
1 24 May 1776; Mitchell Library, Safe 1/68, Brabourne Banks Papers; Journals III, 1498.
2 'It may not be amiss to observe, that the plate engraved by Sherwin, after a painting by Dance, is a most excellent likeness of Captain Cook; and more to be valued, as it is the only one I have seen that bears any resemblance to him.'—Samwell, Narrative of the Death of Captain James Cook (London, 1786), 23. The painting now hangs in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
3 'Car je soutiens que celui qui ne fait qu'exécuter des ordres ne fera jamais grandes figures dans les découvertes.'—Cook to Latouche-Tréville, 6 September 1775; Bib. Nat., Paris, Nouv. Acq. Fr. 9439; Journals II, 695–6.
There was a return to his earlier professional interest in the letter he wrote, possibly by request, to the chart-publisher Robert Sayer of Fleet Street, whose firm had taken over the plates of his Newfoundland charts after Jefferys' death in 1771. The letter was to recommend that famous volume The North American Pilot—so fundamental a part of which was formed by his own work and that of his mate and successor Michael Lane. He did not waste words.
Mile End, Feb. 26, 1776.
I am greatly obliged to you for the Perusal of the North American Pilot, for Newfoundland, Labradore &c. I am much pleased to see a Work, in which I have had some Hand, so likely to prove useful to Navigation.—From the Knowledge I have of these Parts (which is not a little,) I shall not hesitate to declare, that as much Faith may be put in the Charts, together with the Sailing Directions, as ought to be put in any Work of the Kind.2
1 Cook to Latouche-Tréville, 10 February 1776; Bib. Nat., Paris, Nouv. Acq. Fr. 9439; Journals II, 700–3.
2 R. A. Skelton and R. V. Tooley, The Marine Surveys of James Cook in North America (London, 1967), 11, say that Cook was presented with a copy of the volume, first published in 1775, by the publishers, Sayer and Bennett; copies issued after the date of his letter had it printed on the verso of the introductory leaf bearing the dedication to Palliser.
Mile End, London 24th Feb. 1776
I have had some conversation with Mr Parks, on the subject of the letter which you favoured me with. He seems to think, that my Brother in Law, James Flick, cannot know neither the time nor place he Run the good[s] for which he stands charged; as the officers of the Customs are very carefull to conceal these particulars. If so, he cannot know himself to be innocent, unless he never was concerned in such work; and this I suppose is not the Case. Consequently he will in my opinion run no little risk in standing a Trial. But this is a subject I have little knowledge of, Nor have I time nor inclination to make my self acquainted with it. I am told that the easiest way to get clear of such like affairs, is, after the Writ is served, to Petition the Commissioners of the Customs or Excise, to which it may belong; and to endeavour to make up the matter with the officers concerned. If this method is persued, I shall be ready to give any assistance in my power, which cannot be much, as I know not a single Commissioners [sic] at either the one Board or the other. This Method of proceeding, supposes him Guilty the contrary of which he has not only asserted to you but to me also in a letter which I have just recieved. The only thing he seems to dread is the expence of a Trial, but in this I wish he does not deceive himself, as well as you. If I should gain any further information you shall be acquainted therewith….1
By February 1776 he was deep in another task, for which he had had no more formal training than for the law; which did not come to his hand so naturally as the offices of friendship. This was the composition of the history of his voyage. There were other candidates for this task, some of whom had minimal qualifications; certainly the ambition to strike a bargain with the booksellers, in spite of the official confiscation of all logs and journals, stirred a little in a number of seamen's brains. It generally came to nothing: there were not many literate seamen, and even with Grub Street padding it was not so easy to produce a cohesive story of three years' adventure without a reasonably complete journal stowed away somewhere. But booksellers were avid; there was a public, it seems, for the most unsatisfactory account; anonymity could be preserved fairly well; and though the Admiralty was determined (with needless fears) that nothing would supplant an official account, something was bound to slip on to the market. Writing being a remarkable exercise among the crew, its practitioners and their secrets were known, like Richard Rollett the sailmaker, who 'Keept a Journal Interlin'd in his bible'; there were those who might have made a few guineas if anybody had been able to read what they had written. As early as mid-September, six weeks after the ship's return, Cook was tracking down an account said to be in the press, which proved to be by John Marra the gunner's mate, that vagrant Irishman. Marra had sold it to Francis Newbery, of St Paul's Churchyard, connected otherwise with the voyages by his supply of Dr James's Fever Powders. Cook did not think it would be worth regarding, and it duly appeared before the end of the year: a small book even when blown up by the editor, but interesting enough to be pirated in Dublin in 1776, and for a German translation to be published in that year, a French one in 1777. This at least was a measure of the captain's growing fame—which could be said also of a second anonymous English publication, quite worthless, of 1776.2
1 Walker to Cook, 2 April 1776; Dixson Library Ms Q 140. This Ms is a draft on the back of Cook's letter to Walker of the preceding 14 February, and plunges straight into the amenities: 'I receiv'd thine of the 14 of february last which shou'd Acknowledgd before now, but waited for a favourable Opportunity to Send the Ale & a Ham which hope to meet with in a little Time…'.
2 Cook's report to the Admiralty secretary on the matter, 18 September 1775, together with an enclosure addressed to himself by Anderson the Resolution's gunner, who did the essential detective work (a very vivid piece of writing), is in P.R.O. Adm 1/1610; I have printed it in Journals II, 961–2. Marra's book has a long title, Journal of the Resolution's Voyage … by which the Non-Existence of an undiscovered Continent, between the Equator and the 50th Degree of Southern Latitude, is demonstratively proved, etc. The other publication referred to was 'A Second Voyage round the World…. Drawn up from Authentic Papers…', was said to be 'Printed for the Editor', was obviously fake, and got a bad press.
Meanwhile the preparation of the official account proceeded, not without difficulties.
The decision had been apparently quite early taken by the Admiralty, or Lord Sandwich, that there should be no more Hawkesworths. Hawkesworth's glory, so firmly founded, as it must have seemed to him, on £6000, had turned, if not to dust and ashes, at least to a good deal of unpleasantness. We have seen that Cook, when he read the volumes devoted to his own voyage, was 'mortified'; mortified also the commanders whose journals had been adapted in the first volume. Burney and Garrick, in nominating Hawkesworth to 'write the voyages', had not really made a good choice, though they had obliged a friend. Hawkesworth was not interested in geography, he knew nothing about nautical affairs; one rope, it could almost be said, or one compass-bearing, was as good as another to him. He wished to entertain. His use of the first person throughout, as he told the stories, may have brought the commanders and the reader closer together and made the stories more vivid; but it also made the commanders guilty of some strange statements. Writing for the polite world, he had laid down a condition that he should be free to intersperse his own sentiments when he thought fit, in addition to converting the seamen's language into his own, and Cook may well have been taken aback by some of the elevated speculations attributed to him, or to discover the close resemblance he had found between Diana and her nymphs and a party of Maori women feeling with their toes for shellfish beneath the water at Tolaga Bay. There was more of this in the two Cook volumes than in the first; for by the time Hawkesworth came to compile the first volume he was running out of sentiments. Yet all might have been tolerable if the arrangement had been adhered to by which each commander was to read the text relating to himself. Hawkesworth, though reckless, thought it had been adhered to, and that he had done his duty; and he seems to have worked hard. 'My Lord', he writes to Sandwich on 19 November 1771 (with rather more feeling for Banks than for Cook),
I cannot help stealing a few minutes from the Work in which your Lordship is pleased to take an Interest so flattering to myself, and so favourable to the Undertaking, to acknowledge the Receipt of the first Volume of Mr Banks's Journal, and to assure your Lordship that as it is my highest Interest, it is also my earnest Desire to get my M.S. ready time enough to have the Sanction of Mr Banks and Capt Cook to what I shall relate after them. I am happy in your Lordship's powerfull Influence with Mr Banks page 458 for the use of his Journall; I flatter myself that I shall be able to prevent ill humour, and satisfy the utmost Delicacy of a Gentleman to whom I shall be so much obliged. I promise your Lordship that not an hour shall be bestowed upon any other Object, till the Account is finished, either of Business or Pleasure, your Lordship will judge that my Relaxations, however necessary must be short, from the time which was taken up by the mere reading of only part of my materials….1
There is enough in these rather stilted lines to show us why Hawkesworth would never produce another Anson's Voyage; enough also to show that he was really anxious to have his text scrutinised, by Cook as well as by Banks. In his preface he said it had been. Cook, it can hardly be doubted, did see some of it. We have his conversation as reported by Boswell. 'He said it was not true that Mr. Banks and he had revised all the Book, and in what was revised Hawkesworth would make no alteration (I think he said this too.)'2 What then had happened? One suspects some slipshod practice in the Admiralty office, perhaps on Sandwich's part—some careless break in the administrative process that left everybody in a false position, not least Hawkesworth. Banks also must have been careless, even if his own position with the Admiralty after May 1772 was not very secure.3
1 Sandwich Papers.
3 Rival advertisements reached a high tone. By the time Hawkesworth had sold out, Newbery had on the market the first numbers of a compilation in 48 weekly parts on all the English circumnavigations, up to Cook, taking in Sydney Parkinson and adding Bougainville for good measure.—General Evening Post, 2 August 1773. Strahan and Cadell, put on their metal, still in August did not fail to insist on the controverted point, 'That no doubt might remain of the fidelity with which the author has related the events recorded in his materials, the manuscript account of each voyage was read to the several Commanders, and to Mr Banks and Dr Solander, and afterwards lodged in their hands for a considerable time.'—General Evening Post, 21 August. On Hawkesworth in relation to the other voyagers see Robert E. Gallagher, Byron's Journal of his Circumnavigation (Cambridge, 1964), lxxvi ff., and Helen Wallis, Carteret's Voyage Round the World (Cambridge, 1965), 464 ff. and 499 ff. Dr Wallis has some useful remarks on the general problem.
1 London Evening Post, 18 August 1773.
So, when the matter was first discussed in 1775, the situation was not quite the same as it was in 1771. What happened in the succeeding months can be disentangled reasonably well, and although it is part of the biography of John Reinhold Forster much more than of Cook it must be briefly traversed, because it made Cook formally into an author. Forster was convinced that from the very beginning, and all along, the intention was that he should write the history of the voyage; that he had laid this down as a condition before sailing; that it was accepted by the Admiralty, and that he had been assured by Daines Barrington, through whose friendly recommendation he had been given the place vacated by Lind, that that was one of the chief purposes of sending him out; that he should enjoy the sole profit and emolument accruing from that piece of history; and that after the voyage he should receive a pension sufficient to provide permanently for himself and his family: all this in addition to £4000. It is hardly conceivable that Daines Barrington made these extraordinary promises on behalf of the Admiralty. He may have expressed a moderate, even an encouraging, hope; and Forster lived in a world of fantasy. John Reinhold Forster was not invariably arrogant; very possibly, if he had had any judgment at all, he would have done quite well out of the Admiralty. Solander writes to Banks in early September 1775,
‘Mr Forster overwhelms me with civilities upon your account. He is of all men I know either the most open or the greatest fool. He certainly has made some clever remarks during the Voyage; but he talks rather too much of them. You cannot imagine how much the Man is mended since he came home: the Officers say they hardly know the Man. He came home thinking himself very great—now he, like Bruce is reduced even in his own opinion.'1
Lord Sandwich, the letter goes on, in its news of the voyagers, had asked him for a specimen of his writing, an account of the proceedings at Dusky Bay: if that was approved of, he was to do the whole voyage, sharing the profits equally with Cook. Sandwich, then, was willing to go some distance to meet Forster's expectations; and he was supplied with the relevant part of Cook's journal to combine with his own.
The specimen did not meet with approval. Obviously there was correspondence that has since disappeared. Much has survived, among Sandwich's papers, and poor Daines Barrington was deeply involved, as an intermediary who finally threw in his hand. 'By the letter I have received from you,' wrote Sandwich to him at the end of October, 'together with one from Mr Forster I begin to fear that there is no possibility of doing any thing with Mr Forster; and I am almost convinced that he is, what he has been represented to me to be, an utterly impracticable man.' As a proof that he was not a correct writer of English, his letter was enclosed; nevertheless Sandwich was prepared to keep him employed—‘I am willing that his share of the emolument of that publication shou’d be considerable; & unless his vanity leads him to think he is entitled to more than his proportion, he will have no reason to complain'.1 Vanity could take various forms, and when it was decided that Forster as sole author would not do, the man proceeded to refer to Cook in terms that the First Lord did not find tolerable. He wrote to Forster, while he still found it possible to write to him, 'You mention a satisfaction that you have in being eased from the trouble of methodizing & clearing Captain Cook's journal from its inaccuracies & vulgar expressions; I do not pretend to be a Critic; but I must say that I have met with very few vulgarisms or inaccuracies in that journal; but I have seen his journal misquoted, & vulgarisms introduced that were not in the Original.'2 This was a decided blow, or would have been to anyone less encased in righteous self-approval.
He did inspect three ships the following day. Within a few days moreThursday 4th of Janry 1776.
Dear Sir/I have received your obliging favour, and am very sorry it is not in my power to except of your kind invitation to Windsor. For some time past, I have been looking out for a Ship to accompany the Resolution on her intended Voyage; I expect one will be purchased tomorrow, but then I shall have to attend to the alterations which will be necessary to be made in her. These things have retarded the copying my Journal; five Books are done which I shall send you by the machine tomorrow, and if you please you may return those you have gone through by the same Conveyance. I leave it intirely to you to make such alterations as you see necessary and even to strike out any part, or passage which you may think superfluous. By such time as you come to Town I hope to have the whole ready to put into your hands. I am with great esteem Dr Sr/your obliged Humble Servt/Jams Cook
1 B.M. Egerton Ms 2181 f. 42 v; Journals II, cxliv.
2 All Cook's extant letters to Douglas on this matter, probably all there were, are preserved together in the British Museum, Egerton Ms 2180, except the first, f. 1–2, which is exhibited, Sal. A. 82. This reference may therefore serve all of them.
The texture of his life was indeed thickening, and at this period we may suppose some inner tension too. Ever since the excited party to the Resolution, when promotions were announced, and Cook's appointment to Greenwich Hospital, and the ladies were sick, it was general knowledge that the ship would go out again; and Cook was to have employment whenever he should ask for it—or, at least, to use his own phrase, whenever his endeavours in any shape could 'be essential to the publick'. And, as he had written to Walker, whether he could bring himself to like ease and retirement, time would show. Association with John Reinhold Forster could hardly be called ease, but it did not occupy all existence. As advice was sought, and Cook learnt more about the voyage that was in prospect, and looked at ships with the dockyard people, it could hardly be that there were not stirrings within him. Some time, probably, in this month of January, and—it is possible—less dramatically than appeared to his first biographer, he made up his mind; for in a letter from Daines Barrington to Sandwich of 25 January, reporting on Forster's progress, there is reference to 'Captain Cook's destination', and the destination was a Pacific one. The background of further preparation of a book therefore is preparation of a voyage. This may not have been explicit with Cook's next extant letter to Douglas, wherein we find him steering clear of dangerous ground:
Mile End Janry 10th 1776
I have recieved your letter of the 7th and also the Box with its contents. I have not had time to look over the corrections which you have made, but have not the least doubt but they were necessary, and that I shall be perfectly satisfied with them.
The remarks you have made on Bits of loose paper, I find are very just. With respect to the Amours of my People at Otaheite & other places; I think it will not be necessary to mention them attall, unless it be by way of throwing a light on the Characters, or Customs of the People we are then among; and even than I would have it done in such a manner as might be unexeptionable to the nicest readers. In short my desire is that nothing indecent may appear in the whole book, and you cannot oblige me more than by pointing out whatever may appear to you as such.
By the date of the following one all had been settled: he was captain of the Resolution once more. The amenities, however, come uppermost.
I beg your exceptance of 3 Dozn Pints of Constantia Wine, White & Red, and 1/2 a Dozn of a different sort, which is pale coloured. I will not answer page 465 for them being packed in such a manner as to go safe to Windsor, tho' I think they will. You will herewith receive five Books more of my Manuscript, having kept the remaining three, as they want some alteration.
Mile End Friday Morng 8th March.
The 'Books' here referred to seen to be the separate blue papercovered volumes in which Cook wrote out his copy, and to have no connection with the divisions of the narrative. In his note of the next day he is puzzled by a technical matter, that of the tense in which he should write.
As I intend to look over my whole Manuscript I shall have an oppertunity to make such alterations, as may appear necessary to bring it, either to the present, or past times. If you will be so obligeing as to give me your opinion on this matter. It was first written in the present time, but on find[ing] Dr Hawkesworth had mostly used the past, I set about altering it, but I find many places has escaped me.
Mile End 9th March 1776
Mile End Apl 26th 1776
I have just drawn off a Hhd of Madeira which was round in the Resolution. I expected it to have been of the very best, but I think it does not prove so. Perhaps you are a better judge than I am, therefore must [beg] your permission to send you a few bottle[s] to taste. I wish to know whether you would have it sent to Windsor, or to your Town house if to the former, by what conveyance.
I have had a little Conversation with Mr Strahan about my Journal, he has promised to give it all the assistance in his Power. C. Campbell will look over the Nautical part & Sr Hugh Palliser has also promised to give his assistance.
I have divided it into Books and Chap. takeing the former Voyages and Lord Ansons for my guidance, but submit the whole to your better judgement, with full hopes that you will make such alterations, as you may see necessary.
Douglas, we find, was come to town, and invites Cook to call upon him.
Last night I was favoured with your agreeable letter, and have sent my servant for the Books as you disired. I am sorry Captain Furneaux's Journal has given you so much trouble, I am in some measure in fault for not looking over the Copy before it was put into your hands. If it is equally convenient to you I should be glad to put of waiting upon you till next Saturday, when I will bring the whole Manuscript with me, to let you see how I have divided it into Books & Chapters. By that time, I may have the Introduction ready for you to look over; I may also, know my Lord Sandwich's opinion on Mr Forsters work, a part of which I am told, by my friend Dr Shepherd,1 is in his Lordships hands. These and some other reasons makes me wish to put of our meeting till that day. On your return to Windsor you will find a letter from me, requesting your permission to allow me to send you a little Madeira Wine, and to know whether you would have it sent to Windsor, or half moon Street. Without waiting for your answer, shall take the liberty to send it to the latter place tomorrow, if the Man who has it in charge is but in the way. Your acceptance of it will add to the many obligations confer'd on Dear Sir Your very obliged and Most Humble Servant Jams CookMile-End Sunday Morng
P.S. This Wine is part of [a] Cask that was round in the Resolution, it do's not turn out so good as I had a right to expect, but the Cooper tillspage 467 me it will mend in the Bottle. I have not tasted it, sence it was fined and bottled.
1 The Rev. Dr Antony Shepherd (1721-96), F.R.S., Plumian professor of astronomy, Cambridge, from 1760. Cook named a group of small islands in the New Hebrides after him.
From this happy scene one must turn to a less happy one, that of Forster—with the preliminary remark that most of Forster's unhappiness was self-induced. His letters, and those of Daines Barrington, to Sandwich inform us what happened; Sandwich's own were fewer.1 The evidence of a new specimen of Forster's writing was that he still conceived it his rôle to give a detailed account of the whole voyage; and Sandwich still believed the writing needed correction. The littérateur Richard Owen Cambridge was willing to do this ungrateful business, with Cook's journal by his side, both to avoid repetition and to ensure that the reader would learn all he wanted to know—‘For example what is become of the Queen of Otaheitee’; but Barrington would assume all responsibility. Forster must leave plenty of room for corrections. The precaution was no doubt justified. On the other hand, Forster and not the Admiralty was bearing the cost of the book, except for the engravings; and such a clause had not come into the agreement of 13 April. Forster was outraged: he could not 'submit to that Indignity to have my performance treated like a theme of a Schoolboy'. No compromise seemed possible, though Forster, having railed at both Cook and Sandwich, for a time turned his rage against Banks, whom he accused of doing him ill offices with the First Lord. Then he seems to have made some agreement with Cook, which remains unclear. At this point, early in June, there was a royal command: unless he should submit to having his narrative corrected, the Admiralty was to have nothing further to do with him. This would mean that he would be deprived of all rights in the engraved plates. From the Admiralty point of view, and from Barrington's as a disinterested go-between, the April agreement had broken down—entirely through Forster's fault; from Forster's, he had been vilely and dishonourably treated. Barrington summarised: 'In short the poor Man is certainly out of his senses & hath rejected what your Lordship very kindly threw into his lap, & which would have amounted (I am persuaded) to £1500.'2 At this stage we have further letters to Douglas from Cook, somewhat rudely made acquainted with the full import of what had been happening.
1 The Sandwich Papers contain six letters from Barrington to Sandwich on the business, 25 January to 12 June 1776, and one from Forster to Barrington, which the latter enclosed in his own to Sandwich of 10 June. There are fifteen from Forster to Sandwich—two of August 1776, three of February 1777, one of June 1778, six of February 1779, two of November 1779 (both dated the 30th), and one of December 1779. There is one from Sandwich to Forster, 28 October 1775, and one to Barrington, 28 October 1775.
2 Barrington to Sandwich, 12 June 1776; Sandwich Papers.
Mile-End June 11th 1776
Yesterday Mr Strahan & I went to the Admiralty in order to meet Mr Forster to settle about the Publication, but instead of finding him there, I found a letter from him to me couched in the following terms. That Lord Sandwich had thought proper to interpret the Agreemint between us, in such a manner, as he thought did not agree with its purport; and as his Lordship on that pretence had excluded him from all particip[a]tion of the Admiralty's assistance, our meeting was thereby rendered unnecessary. I afterwards saw Mr Barrington, who inform'd me the [sic] Mr Forster had absolutely refused to make the least alteration in his M.S. What steps my Lord Sandwich will now take I cannot say, but I apprehend I shall have to Publish alone. I do not expect to see his Lordship till Thursday Morning, and perhaps the next day I may leave Town, unless I was sure of seeing you on Saturday or Sunday in that case I would certainly wait a day or two at all events. What Mr Forster intends to do I have not heard, but suppose he will publish as soon as possible, and if so he will get the start of me. He has quite deceived me, I never though[t] he would have separated him self from the Admiralty, but it cannot hurt me & I am only sorry my Lord Sandwich has taken so much trouble to serve an undeserving man.
Sandwich, however, still seems to have nourished a little hope of accommodation when it had gone from Barrington and Cook—to judge from Cook's next letter.
Mile End 14th June 1776
Last night I received your favor, and as matters stand at present, your meeting me in Town can be of no use, nor did I wish it. Only if business had called you up, I meant to have waited upon you.
I was with my Lord Sandwich yester Morning, & found that he had not quite given up Dr Forster, but I believe he will be obliged to do it at last. I had some conversation with the Dr last night, and used all the arguments I was master of to persuade him to submit to his Lordship, but to no manner of purpose. The Charts are all finished, but the other Plates I am told, will not be done before Christmas. But if I am to have the whole, the Admiralty I know will forward them as much as possible. I have leave to remain in Town till this matter is settled, and at the desire of Lord Sandwich, shall join Mr Stuart with Mr Strahan to manage the Publication &ca of my Book. It is now with Sr Hugh Palliser & Capt. Campbell for them to look over the Nautical part. As soon as they have done with it, it shall be put into Mr Strahans hands. My Lord Sandwich gave me a paper concerning Omai, which I have tack'd in its proper place in the 6th book. His Lordship desired that you might see it, & also the Introduction, this shall be sent you to morrow by the Stage, and as to the other, you can at any time look it over at Mr Strahans. I shall take care to get a Compleat list of all the Plates to leave with the Manuscript, & page 469 have already made notes where the most of them are to be placed. I thank you for your kind wishes & hope that neither you nor my other worthy friends will be disappointed in their expectations of Dr Sir Your very obliged & most humble Servt Jams CookP.S. I do not expect to leave Town till about the Middle of next week, so that you may expect to hear from me again.
Ten days after writing this letter Cook left London. Within that period Sandwich made up his mind, irrevocably. Cook wrote once more, and for the last time, to Douglas the day before he left.
Mile-End June 23rd 1776
It is now Settled that I am to Publish without Mr Forster, and I have taken my measures accordingly. When Captain Campbell has looked over the M.S. it will be put into the hands of Mr Strahan & Mr Sturat [sic] to be printed, and I shall hope for the Continuation of your assistance in correcting the press. I know not how to recompence you for the trouble you have had, and will have in this Work. I can only beg you will except of as many Copies, after it is published, as will serve your self and friends, and I have given directions for you to be furnished with them. When you have done with the Introduction please to send it to Mr Strahan or bring it with you when you Come to Town, for there needs be no hurry about it. Tomorrow Morning I set out to join my ship at the Nore, & with her proceed to Plymouth, where my stay will be but short. Permit me to assure you that I shall always have a due sence of the favors you have done, and that I am with great esteem and regard, Dear Sir, Your Most Obliged and very Humble Servt Jams Cook.
On that note these two so dissimilar persons parted.
1 Forster to Sandwich, 2 August 1776; Sandwich Papers.
1 Sandwich Papers, Memorandum by James Stuart, n.d., but beginning 'July 9. Dr Forster wrote to Captain Cook as follows…', and going on to quote the letter referred to by Cook in his to Douglas of 11 June printed above. The second paragraph begins, 'After Captn Cook had left London Dr Forster applied to me…'. As Cook left London on 24 June, the internal evidence is that 9 July is the date of the memorandum—the date in fact, when, according to Forster (letter to Sandwich, 2 August 1776) he called on Stuart and Strahan; so Stuart lost no time in recording his impression.
2 Forster to Sandwich, 2 August 1776; Sandwich Papers.
3 George's book was A Voyage round the World, in his Britannic Majesty's Sloop, Resolution, commanded by Capt. James Cook, during the Years 1772, 3, 4 and 5. By George Forster, F.R.S., Member of the Royal Academy of Madrid, and of the Society for promoting Natural Knowledge at Berlin. His father's Observations made during a Voyage Round the World, on Physical Geography, Natural History and Ethic Philosophy…. By John Reinold Forster, LL.D. F.R.S. and S.A. And a Member of several Learned Academies in Europe. (London, 1778). It was a quarto volume of 650 pages.
I shall conclude this preliminary discourse by publickly acknowlidging the Kind Assistance of some worthy friends, in whose hands I left the Manuscript, when I embarked on a third expedition, who were so obliging as to superintend the printing and make such corrections as they found necessary, without altering the stile. For it was judged that it would be more exceptable to the Public, in the Authors words, than in any other persons, and that the Candid and faithfull manner in which it is written would counterbalance the want of stile and dullness of the subject. It is a work for information and not for amusement, written by a man, who has not the advantage of Education, acquired, nor Natural abilities for writing; but by one who has been constantly at sea from his youth, and who, with the Assistance of a few good friends gone through all the Stations belonging to a Seaman, from a prentice boy in the Coal Trade to a Commander in the Navy. After such a Candid confession he hopes the Public will not consider him as an author, but a man Zealously employed in the Service of his Country and obliged to give the best account he is able of his proceedings.1
The publication of this book was, itself, one of the great events in the history of Pacific exploration.
1 Dixson Library, Ms F. 1.