The Life of Captain James Cook
XX — England to New Zealand Again
England to New Zealand Again
He Sailed from the Nore on 25 June, and down Channel without haste to Plymouth, where he joined the Discovery on the 30th. At Plymouth he received his instructions and the crew received their pay—the Admiralty again departing from custom—to enable them to buy 'necessaries' for the voyage. The marines came on board. There were last English letters to write. The one to Banks, of 10 July, adverted to the book, and to a matter that was to be noticed more at length in the book, though not by Cook.
As you was so obliging as to say you would give a description of the New Zealand Spruce tree, or any other plant, the drawing of which might accompany my Journal, I desired Mr Strahan and Mr Stuart, who have the Charge of the Publication, to give you extracts out of the Manuscript of such descriptions as I had given (if any) for you to correct or describe your self, as may be most agreeable. I know not what Plates Mr Forster may have got engraved of Natural History, that will come into my Book, nor do I know of any that will be of use to it, but the Spruce Tree Tea plant and Scurvey Grass and I know not if this last is engraved. The Flax plant is engraved but whether the publishing of this in my Journ[al] will be of any use to seamen, I shall not determine. In short whatever plates of this kind falls to my share, I shall hope for your kind assistance in giving some short account of them. On my arrival here I gave Omai three guineas which sent him on shore in high spirits, indeed he could hardly be otherwise for he is very much carressed here by every person of note, and upon the whole, I think, he rejoices at the prospect of going home.
I now only wait for a Wind to put to sea unless C. Clerke makes good haste down he will have to follow me. Sr Jn0 Pringle writes me that the Council of the Royal Society have decreed me the Prize Medal of this year. I am obliged to you and my other good friends for this unmerited Honor.
Omai Joins his best respects to you and Dr Solander….1
1 Mitchell Library, Banks Papers; Safe 1/68; printed Journals III, 1511.
The others, both of 11 July, had a more domestic theme. That to Sandwich indicates some, at least, heart-searching on Cook's part before he made his great decision. 'My Lord', he writes,
I cannot leave England without taken some method to thank your Lordship for the many favors confered upon me, and in particular for the Very liberal allowance made to Mrs Cook during my absence. This, by enabling my family to live at ease and removing from them every fear of indigency, has set my heart at rest and filled it with gratitude to my Noble benefactor. If a faithfull discharge of that duty which your Lordship has intrusted to my care, be any return, it shall be my first and principal object.
I was to have spoke to your Lordship in behalf of Mrs Mahone, Widow of the late Cook of the Adventure, who is minuted down for a Nurse to Greenwich Hospital, a place she seems very suitable for, if your Lor[d]ship should have an oppertunity to appoint her it will add to the many favors already confered on / My Lord / Your Lordships Most faithfull and Most Obedient Humble Servant / Jams Cook1
Mrs Mahone, or Mahony, was duly appointed to the Hospital, though certainly not as a tribute to the late dirty and indolent Mortimer Mahony, deceased during the voyage. The third letter was to the Rev. Dr Richard Kaye, F.R.S., another Yorkshireman and chaplain to the King, whom Cook may have encountered both at the Royal Society and as a friend of Banks; and it seems from the sequel that the 'acknowledgement' mentioned in the letter may have been the use of his name on the American coast.
I cannot leave England without answering your very obliging favor of the 12th of last Month, and thanking you for the kind tender of your service to Mrs Cook in my absence. I shall most certainly make an acknowledgment in the way you wish, if it please God to spare me till I reach the place for Discoveries, for I shall be happy in having it known that you are amongst the friends of Dear Sir, Your Most Obed Humble Servant Jams Cook
P.S. I expect to sail to day July 11th 1776.2
1 Sandwich Papers; printed ibid., 1512.
2 Dixson Library Mss, Ms 92; printed ibid.
1 Charles E. Chapman, The Founding of Spanish California, (New York, 1916), 376–80; J. E. Martin-Allanic, Bougainville navigateur, II, 1448–51.
1 Bligh to John Bond, 23 October 1776 (Cape of Good Hope).—Nan Kivell coll., Nla; printed Royal Australian Historical Society Journal and Proceedings, 45 (1949), 'Some Correspondence of Captain William Bligh, R.N., with John and Francis Godolphin Bond 1776–1811' ed. George Mackaness. Cf. Anderson, 'the old ridiculous ceremony of ducking those who had not cross'd the Equator before …. which every sensible person who has it in his power ought to suppress instead of encouraging.'—Journals III, 743. Clerke in the Discovery provided a double allowance of grog instead, says Bayly; ibid., 15, n. 1.
2 Journals III, 1515.
1 Clerke to Banks, 1 August 1776; Webster coll., printed ibid., 1513–14.
2 For Cook on the Atlantic currents see ibid., 20–3.
3 Cook to Strahan, 5 November 1776; Phillips coll., Salem, Mass., printed ibid., 1516.
4 Cook to Hodges, 5 November 1776; Princeton University Library, printed ibid., 1517.
Your very obliging favour I received by Captain Clerke who arrived here on the 18th Inst. something more than three weeks after me and nearly the same time as I sailed from Plymouth before him, for I left that place on the 13th of July. We are now ready to proceed on our Voyage, and nothing is wanting but a few females of our own species to make the Resolution a compleate ark for I have added considerably to the Number of Animals I took onboard in England. Omai consented with raptures to give up his Cabbin to make room for four Horses—He continues to enjoy a good state of health and great flow of spirits, and has never once given me the l[e]ast reason to find fault with any part of his conduct. He desires his best respects to you, Dr Solander, Lord Seaford and to a great many more, Ladies as well as Gentlemen, whose names I cannot insert because they would fill up this sheet of paper, I can only say that he does not forget any who have shewed him the least kindness.
I am greatly obliged to you for your readiness to describe the Plants which are to be published in my Journal and I hope Mr Strahan will give you the parts in time. I have no other way of makeing a return for this and many other favours than by using my best endeavours to add to your Collection of Plants & Animals: this you may be assured of, and that the Man you have sent out with Captain Clerke to collect seeds & plants shall have every assistance in my power to give him… .1
He proceeds to describe the onslaught on his sheep by 'the honest Dutchmen of this place', and sends his best respects to Solander. To Sandwich also he speaks highly of Omai: 'the people here are surprised at his genteel behaviour and deportment'. Omai, it appears, was at his peak. A different note—deeper or merely formal? —follows: 'Permit me to assure your Lordship that my endeavours shall not be wanting to accomplish the great object of the Voyage… .'2 Sandwich was to hear from him no more.
The last of these friendly letters in date is that from Gore to Banks. He too strikes a different note; in part answers the question put by Fanny Burney (the articulate James may have been too articulate), in part states some genial alarm about the ship.
… we shall sail hence in a Day or two with Both Ships the manner of our Acquipment you will in all probability Learn from another Quarter, this I have To say we are of Both Ships in Good health and on Board the Resolution have hitherto agreed verry Will and there is a fair Prospect of
1 Cook to Banks, 26 November 1776; Phillips coll., Salem, Mass., printed ibid., 1521.page 512 its Continuing To the End of our Voyage, There has been a Misunderstanding between Charles And Burney,—Sometimes Young Officers Forget there Place, all is well now and is likely To Continue. If I return in the Resolution the next Trip I may Safely Venture in a Ship Built of Ginger Bread.1
2 Cook to Sandwich, 26 November 1776; Sandwich Papers, printed ibid., 1520.
Cook gave Clerke a copy of his instructions and a rendezvous at Queen Charlotte Sound, and on the last day of November they weighed anchor. In the night it fell calm, and they could not put to sea till early next morning. This was already a month behind the schedule laid down in the instructions. It was still, however, early in the southern summer. Whether they could reach Tahiti in time to leave again, refreshed, by the beginning of February, 'or sooner', if Cook should judge it necessary, may have been a question he had already dropped.
1 Gore to Banks, 27 November 1776; Atl, Miscellaneous Material relating to Cook's Voyages, printed ibid., 1522.
2 The island now called Marion is the more southerly of Cook's Prince Edward islands, lat. 46°53′ S, long. 37°45′ E; its companion, Prince Edward, is twelve miles to the Nne. The other, rather more scattered, group is collectively the Crozet islands, about 46°27′ S, 52° E.
1 '… indeed it is impossible to do anything in our way of trade till the Weather in some degree favours us.'—Journals III, 26, n. 4.
2 ibid. ll
The land first seen was an islet, Kerguelen's Isle de Croy, off the north-west point of the main island, one of a small group so lying. Cook hauled off round this group, just weathering the high rock he called Bligh's Cap (now Ilot du Rendez-vous). In the afternoon, with a clearer air, the main shore was in view, an extremely indented one; within its northern promontory lay a promising harbour, which Bligh reported on favourably; and next day the ships worked up inside almost to the sandy beach at the head. He called the place Christmas Harbour. It was Kerguelen's Baie de l'Oiseau, and retains this name; but Cook, with the sketchy chart that he had, and altogether ignorant of Kerguelen's second voyage, may be excused for making some wrong identifications, and even for being surprised at finding himself preceded here. There was plenty of water—the whole country was running with it—but not a tree or a shrub or a piece of driftwood; plenty of penguins, innumerable other sea-birds, and seals whose lack of sophistication made it easy to club them for their oil; a little grass for the cattle, few fish; so really the habour's promise was a little illusory, except for shelter. The men, however, were given a day off for a Christmas celebration, and one of them brought back a bottle he had found attached to a rock on the north page 515 side. It contained a Latin inscription on parchment recording French visits to the country in 1772 and 1773 (though the French officer who left this record did not land until January 1774). Cook had a new inscription put on the other side—Naves Resolution & Discovery de Rege Magna Britannia Decembris 1776—and returned it to the bottle with a silver twopenny piece, built a pile of stones on a little rise and put the bottle inside; displayed the British flag and gave the place the name he chose. Whether that signified the 'ridiculous' act of taking possession, as the philosophic Anderson feared it did, we are left to guess.
On the afternoon of that day, 28 December, he went on to the high cape that guarded the harbour in the north, to get a view of the coast. Fog hid all, except the higher land within, quite naked and desolate, and some snow-covered hills to the south. Next morning he left the harbour, and fortunately the fog cleared, the sea was still. There followed two days of such intense coastal observation that at the end of his close-packed pages one realises with difficulty that this is the harvest of two days indeed, and not a week. On the whole this observation of a tortuous shore was accurate, and the greater number of the names Cook gave have survived; and glad are we to find not merely those of royalty and naval personages, not merely the inevitable Sandwich, laid upon the ocean from one end to the other, but ‘Point Pringle after my good friend Sr John Pringle Precedent of the Royal Society'. At the end of a day of clearing forelands, islets, rocks, shoals, and even threading the channels between the great beds of kelp, with the lead going all the while, with fog threatening again, the ships put into a small harbour which gave snug enough shelter for the night—Port Palliser. Cook climbed a hill as usual for the view—daylight was long—Gore looked at the land, the masters sounded. Barrenness and desolation again, nothing for cattle, only water, seals, and sea birds for men. So to sea again, and the sight of a lower, more level, less indented piece of country, backed by rocky mountains topped by snow, until Cook had in sight what he was persuaded must be the most southerly point of the land; as night came on a south-west swell added to his conviction that there was no more in that direction, and the wind shifting to the same quarter he stood away from the coast eastwards.
Well: he must summarise his impressions, geographically. The first discoverers, 'with some reason', had imagined the country to be the projection of a southern continent; 'the English' had since proved that no such continent existed. The country, then, was an island; if any further proof of its limited extent were needed that page 516 could be found in Furneaux's track in 1773, for he had passed it only about seventeen leagues off Cook's most southerly cape and seen nothing. So in latitude it could not much exceed one degree and a quarter—a remarkably accurate estimate. As to the longitude of its western end he could not say, but it could not stretch as far as 65° E; for he had searched to that point in 1773. And a name? 'Kerguelen's Land', or Kerguelen Island, was not the name he gave: 'from its stirility' he would call it the Island of Desolation. For its natural history he would fall back on Anderson, who had made good use of his four days at Christmas Harbour, and wrote on soil and rocks, the Kerguelen cabbage that he called Pringlea—he too celebrating the President—the few other small plants and mosses; three different penguins, clearly described; shags, ducks, albatrosses, gulls; an uninviting fish; the fur seal.1 What could be eaten was eaten. When the captain looked at his own stock, he could feel even less joy. The young bulls, one of the heifers, the rams, most of the goats, bought at the Cape had died. The islands, it was plain, would not be easily supplied. The animals that were left still ate. Whatever the feelings of animals, there was some relief for men in leaving 'this Cold Blustering Wet Country' (the words of Gore), and 'the Melancholy Croaking of Innumerable Penguins' (the words of Edgar), and steering a course for New Zealand.
1 For Cook's description see ibid., 43–7; for Anderson's, 770–5.
As smoke was seen up in the woods the shore parties next day were guarded by marines—some of whom stole the available liquor and made themselves dead drunk; there was a good haul of fish in the seine and then everyone was ordered on board to be ready to sail as soon as the wind served. It did not serve on the next day, and the day after that was a calm, so there was more wooding and foraging on shore, the carpenter was sent to cut spars, and Roberts, the master's mate, to survey the bay. In the afternoon of the first of these days the wooders and waterers were visited by a number of the aborigines, amiable uncovetous people, slender, black and naked, with agreeable features, their skin scarred, their hair and beards smeared with red ochre; they were frightened away by a couple of musket shots, not fired at them. Cook left a boar and a sow inside the woods, where he thought they had a fair chance of escaping immediate slaughter, a fate which sheep, goats, or cattle would certainly suffer in the open. When next morning the men were again at work the aborigines returned, in greater numbers, still quite peaceable, and this time brought women and children with them. Primitive they certainly were, showing no interest in fish-hooks or other iron, but not so naïve as to tolerate advances to their women from some of the gentlemen ashore. The women wore a kangaroo skin round the shoulders for carrying their children, otherwise they were as naked as the men—even more naked, for some of them had their heads shaved. These people were obviously shellfish-eaters, though they rejected all other fish; and they seemed to have no canoes or other means of adventuring upon the water. They had a few bark huts, also extremely primitive. Anderson wrote at length about them and the natural history of the country, so far as he could explore it. He did not like the mosquitoes or the ants. Some good grass had been found. Cook went on board, at the end of his three days, with a good opinion of the place. Beyond correcting Furneaux's chart a little, and recording some accurate observations, he added nothing to the page 518 geography of Tasmania; and when he left, far from coasting northward to check Furneaux's verdict, he made a little south of east. Of the land in general he was content to remark—‘I hardly need say it is the Southern point of New Holland, which if not a Continent is one of the largest islands in the World.’1 More time than these three days might have brought more enlightenment; but Thursday, 30 January, came with a favouring breeze and he put to sea for New Zealand. It was about this date that his instructions designed he should be leaving the Society Islands for North America.
1 Journals III, 56.
With the characteristics of the people here no one seems to have been as favourably impressed as was Cook—not even Anderson, who had an admirably fair as well as clear mind, and gives us the best single account of Queen Charlotte Sound we have. Cook, possibly, judges together, all the New Zealanders he has seen, and his observations were not confined to the Sound. He does not, on his second and third voyages, set out to give any large deliberate analysis of characteristics. He had done that on his first voyage—perhaps inadequately—and now, apart from one or two almost incidental observations, he is interested in individual incidents and individual persons. It was his habit to deal, so far as was possible, with individual persons, and preferably with persons of influence; so it is he who gives us names and some individual portraiture. We may be able to infer from some incidental phrase how far he agrees with the impressions of greed, suspicion and deceit conveyed by some of his officers, as when he mentions 'a Tribe or Family', whose chief was ‘Tomatongeauooranue, a man about forty five years of age, with a fine cheerful open countenance, two things more or less remarkable throughout the whole tribe.'2 Fine cheerful open countenances do not seem to have been generally remarkable in the Sound. Gore was scandalised at the common lack of gratitude: 'Give one of them a Hatchet, afterwards Ask the same person for the Claw of a Crawfish he'll not Part with it without being Paid'.3 It was of course unwise to give away hatchets, which were strictly articles of trade, except on some grand occasion; it was easier to give away mouldy biscuit, or bits of blubber, which were as enthusiastically received, or oil-skimmings; it could be astonishing when they came on board and ate the candles, drained the lamps of oil, even devoured the wicks. Their habitual diet contained little fat. It contained no superfluity of any sort.
1 ibid., 61.
2 ibid., 65.
3 ibid., 66, n. 1.
I have observed that this Second Visit of ours hath not mended the morals of the Natives of either Sex, the Women of this Country I always looked upon to be more chaste than the generality of Indian Women, whatever favours a few of them might have granted to the crew of the Endeavour it was generally done in a private manner and without the men seeming to intrest themselves in it, but now we find the men are the chief promoters of this Vice, and for a spike nail or any other thing they value will oblige their Wives and Daughters to prostitute themselves whether they will or no and that not with the privicy decency seems to require, such are the concequences of a commerce with Europeans and what is still more to our Shame civilized Christians, we debauch their Morals already too prone to vice and we interduce among them wants and perhaps diseases which they never before knew….1
Anderson now in this third voyage remarks on 'very disagreeable commands' laid on the women, in consequence of which the people suffered much 'from a loathsome disease which we have communicated without as yet giving them any real advantage as a recompence.'2 Meanwhile Cook had modified somewhat his views on the chastity of 'Indian Women', but the general fact of the transmission of disease remained.
There was the other aspect of the matter. Men, husbands, fathers, were not always driven by greed, or women complaisant. There was the little incident of the gentlemen's advances at Adventure Bay.
This conduct to Indian Women is highly blameable, as it creates a jealousy in the men that may be attended with fatal consequences, without answering any one purpose whatever, not even that of the lover obtaining the object of his wishes. I believe it has generally been found amongst uncivilized people that where the Women are easy of access, the Men are the first who offer them to strangers, and where this is not the case they are not easily come at, neither large presents nor privacy will induce them to
1 Journals II, 174–5.page 521 violate the laws of chastity or custom. This observation I am sure will hold good throughout all parts of the South Sea where I have been why then should men risk their own safety where nothing is to be obtained?1
2 Journals III, 816.
The unusual restraint of the sailors ashore at Ship Cove may indicate that though, unlike their captain, they were not gradually working out a philosophy of the subject—and he had still more to learn—they at least had concluded that amatory adventure should be pursued with caution. Cook renews his argument when telling of visitors for trade.
Their articles of commerce were Curiosities, Fish and Women the two first always came to a good market, which the latter did not: the Seamen had taken a kind of dislike to these people and were either unwilling or affraid to associate with them; it had a good effect as I never knew a man quit his station to go to their habitations. A connection with Women I allow because I cannot prevent it, but never encourage tho many Men are of opinion it is one of the greatest securities amongst Indians, and it may hold good when you intend to settle amongst them; but with travelers and strangers, it is generally otherwise and more men are betrayed than saved by having connection with their women, and how can it be otherwise sence all their View are selfish without the least mixture of regard or attachment whatever; at least my observations which have been pretty general, have not pointed out to me one instance to the contrary.2
1 ibid., 55–6
2 ibid., 61–2.
The native people were surprised that Cook did not exact utu, or payment. He did not behave naturally. It was natural for Gore to kill the man who made off with his cloth at Mercury Bay, on the first voyage: that was utu, and not resented. They lived a life of wild passion, warfare, and revenge; had long memories and did not forgive. These people were constantly embroiled with those of Admiralty Bay. Not long before the ships' arrival a chief, one of Cook's old friends in the Sound, had gone there and been slain with about seventy of his followers. There was no large tribe left. One party after another applied to Cook to destroy its enemies; if he had followed the advice of all his pretended friends, he says, he might have extirpated the whole race. One particular man he was urged by many to kill—one who looked a villain, and was by the testimony of all the leader of the murderers at Grass Cove; indeed, he did not deny it, and said outright that he had slaughtered Rowe and most of the others with his own hand. Like his fellows, when he understood there was to be no utu, he did not hesitate to come freely on board the ships, even into Cook's cabin. Why did not Cook shoot him? asked Omai, feverish for his death—were not murderers hanged in England? Cook had made his enquiry. He had never killed anybody in cold blood, and he would not start now. He agreed with Clerke that to do so 'cou'd answer no purpose at all'. Kahura at one stage looked as though he expected to be killed; he recovered so much that seeing a portrait of a fellow countryman hanging on the cabin-wall he asked to be drawn too, and sat with great aplomb while Webber made the drawing. Cook summed up the matter: 'I must confess I admired his courage and was not a little pleased at the confidence he put in me. Perhaps in this he placed his whole safety, for I had always declared to those who solicited his death that I had always been a friend to them all and would continue so unless they gave me cause to act otherwise; as to what was past, I should think no more of it as it was some time sence and done when I was not there, but if ever they made a Second attempt of that kind, they might rest assured of feeling the weight of my resentment.'1
1 Journals III, 69.
A useful sojourn this was at Ship Cove, though of only eleven days, on two of which the ships rode out violent northwest storms. A vast quantity of excellent fish, wild celery and scurvy grass was consumed; the young gentlemen stretched their legs and, so we gather from later reminiscences, indulged in a good deal of high-spirited horseplay;1 Bayly, or Bayly and King, made over a hundred sets of observations to calculate the longitude again, found that the chronometer was losing only some three seconds a day, checked the astronomical clock, observed the variation of the compass with six needles on board the ship and on shore, observed the dip of the needle; Anderson observed rocks, plants, birds, insects and people; Samwell took down the first native chants ever recorded; Webber drew busily. Omai was here at his best as an interpreter, and managed to push through a plan of his own, which he had conceived before arriving in the country. This was to take home with him from New Zealand a companion, or follower, or servant—it is not quite clear which—and before long his talk had brought out a volunteer, one Tiarooa or Te Weherua, a youth of seventeen or eighteen, who took up his residence on board. Cook, who had disliked Omai's departure from his own island, was disturbed at the proposal, particularly when he found out that the youth was the only son of a chief killed in war and that his mother was a much respected lady. Had Omai promised his return? It was made quite clear that there could be no return. Then this son of a chief had to have a follower or servant: the first candidate was removed by his friends, but another, a boy often or twelve years called Coaa, or Loa, was handed over with no sentiment at all. Cook was still troubled. The complete indifference of all the people convinced him that the two adventurers could lose nothing by leaving home, and he let Omai have his way.
1 I have given a specimen in the Introduction to Journals III, xcviii—xcix, taken from George Home's Memoirs of an Aristocrat (London, 1838), which contains some of the reminiscences of the author's father Alexander Home, master's mate in the Discovery. 'Ah! those were the glorious days', Alexander is quoted as saying; and quite likely he did say so.