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The Life of Captain James Cook

XXVI — End of a Voyage

page 673

End of a Voyage

On no one did the inconceivable fall more heavily than on the sick man Clerke. If he had been crushed, or if he had been swept into an excess of excitement, in either case it could have been understood; but the wasting away of his body did not disturb the quality of his mind. He briefly entertained, and discarded, the idea of summary vengeance. His level-headedness made even King, unbalanced for a day or two and ready for extreme measures, think that he was unable to reach any decision at all: in reality his perceptiveness was matched by his tact and his firmness, and made him the master of a situation which could quite easily have gone from disaster to disaster. His men would have turned the bay into a shambles; the Hawaiians might have put the ships into such a state of siege as to cancel the rest of the voyage. Vengeance on a grand scale would certainly have been both difficult and inept. It was not possible to maintain a complete control. In some sporadic skirmishing round the heiau and the spring the men of a watering party showed how savage sailors could be—were guilty, in the words of a King who had regained his balance, of'many reprehensible things'; the people, at once appalled and exultant at what they had done, did not omit to provide temptation. A few guns were fired; there was no assault on canoes. On both sides, as the days passed, the temperature was lowered. It may have helped, in the ships, that the immediate rage for revenge was mingled with a rage against Williamson over his conduct at the crisis. He faced a storm of accusation, as the person who could have saved Cook's life and did not. Clerke felt compelled to make some sort of specific enquiry. He could not be convinced of any real degree of turpitude, whatever he thought of the man's power of judgment, and the matter dropped. Phillips, who hated Williamson as much as anyone did, was clear that nothing he could have done would have had that sort of utility. The first conclusion Clerke came to we may regard as a determining thought in all his policy of these last days at Kealakekua Bay: 'Upon the whole I firmly believe page 674 matters would not have been carried to the extremities they were had not Capt Cook attempted to chastise a man in the midst of this multitude'—relying, in the last resort, on the fire of the marines to disperse it.1 How, then, could he give a free hand to retaliatory violence? But if Cook had been to blame, the whole transaction had not been simple, he was to reflect as in due course he departed from the islands and summed up his impressions: he 'must leave it to superior Judgments to settle the secret springs and original causes of action, with once more observing that the unhappy catastrophe which befell us I do think appears by no means the effect of premeditated intention, but of an unfortunate string of circumstances tending to the same unlucky point, one action irritating another till they terminated in the fatal manner as has been represented.'2

Whatever might be thought on that matter, there could be no divergence on two immediately necessary things. The first was to get back the abandoned bodies—or anyhow Cook's. The second was to secure the mast and put the Resolution into order—for 'we were now really in a tatter'd condition'. There was less difficulty about the second than the first. A strong armed party brought off everything on shore at the heiau, and the mast was placed fore and aft on the forecastle and quarterdeck for the carpenters to work on it. In the evening the boats were sent with King and Burney to demand the bodies. The people seemed pleased to see a flag of truce and discarded their weapons; the priest Koa swam out to King and said that Cook's body, carried far into the country, could not be delivered till the morrow; other people told Burney that it had already been cut up. Of the marines there was little mention. When the unsuccessful party returned Clerke got the impression that next day, in some state or other, the remains would be returned. No one knew the Hawaiian habit with the bodies of great men, especially great men—perhaps gods—killed in war, and those in the ships could but speculate during the night on the meaning of the lights flickering high up on the hill above the pali and the obvious fires that burnt there. The new day brought nothing but old Koa and a companion in a canoe with a white flag, some little pigs, and fair promises; and Koa became both tedious and suspect. There was no reason, indeed, why the Hawaiians should have readily fallen in with British sentiment, which they in their turn would have found quite incomprehensible; and after all, they were the victors, even if they had lost more men in the wretched affray than the defeated—four chiefs, in fact (including two who had been very good friends to the ships),

1 Journals III, 538–9.

2 Journals III, 593–4.

page 675 and thirteen others. It was not till after dark on this second day, the 15th, therefore, that anything significant happened: when the younger priest, Keli'ikea, appeared with a piece of flesh from Cook's thigh which he had brought at the risk of his life as a mark of particular friendship. All the rest, Clerke understood, had been burnt; only the bones remained, and Kalei'opu'u had them. Keli'ikea may have been surprised at the horror and rage that swept through the ship when his parcel was unwrapped. It was gathered from him that there was by no means unity of feeling between the priests of the heiau and the chiefs of the other end of the bay: the priesthood remained as benevolent and generous as always. The exception was Koa, against whom he gave warning. Kalei'opu'u all through these days seems to have played an entirely passive part, though for the ultimate decision to return the bones his consent, at least, must certainly have been necessary.

Clerke made it clear that he wanted these last remains. There was still delay. Meanwhile, as Cook's successor in leadership, he re-arranged the command on orthodox lines. Gore went to the Discovery as her captain; King became first lieutenant, and Williamson (by virtue of seniority) second lieutenant of the Resolution; while Harvey, the banished midshipman of Huahine fame, was brought back to her as third. He had outlived Cook's resentment, and Clerke could reflect that the promotion was something already designed. Then there was the episode of the watering party, its stoning by natives still belligerent, the brutal retaliation, the firing of a village and the belongings of priests who had been promised immunity. Outrageous as this was, it brought submission, the green boughs and white flags of peace, a revived trade in provisions; perhaps helped on the resolve to surrender sacred trophies. On the 19th, the day that work on the mast was finished, Kalei'opu'u sent a present as earnest of his desire for peace. First, said Clerke, the remains of Captain Cook. Next morning the mast was stepped, not without difficulty; and at noon a procession came down the hill opposite the ship, with hogs, fruit and roots, bearing flags, beating drums, uttering loud cries; the chief in the lead handed over a bundle 'very decently wrap'd up', and covered with a cloak of black and white feathers. Good, said Clerke, who was prepared to be hospitable; but what about the marines? They, alas, it was explained, had been distributed among various chiefs in different parts of the island, to collect them would be impossible; it was different with Cook, the property of the king. Clerke thought best to drop the subject. The bundle was opened in the cabin of the Resolution. It contained, page 676 according to Hawaiian custom, the scalp, all the long bones, thighs, legs, arms, and the skull; the jawbone of the latter was missing, as were the feet, and the hands were separate. All had been scraped clean except the hands, which had been preserved with salt stuffed into a number of gashes. There was a means of identification: the right hand bore the well known great scar between the thumb and forefinger, the legacy of the exploding powder-horn on the Newfoundland coast. The backbone and ribs had been consumed with the flesh in the fire.1 The following morning the chief came again, bringing the jawbone and the feet, together with Cook's shoes and the bent and battered barrels of his musket. The remains were put into a coffin, and late in the afternoon of this day, 21 February, amid all the marks of naval grief, flags at half mast, crossed yards, and half-minute guns, they were sunk in the waters of the bay.

There was one more day. The fatal mast was now in place and rigged; trade was plentiful and theft unknown. Kalei'opu'u remained invisible, though he had sent to claim a red baize cloak edged with green that had been promised to him before the disastrous event, and let one of his sons, a charming and accomplished beggar, come on board the Resolution. Women had never entirely deserted the ships; they had even stood on deck and admired the flames of the burning village. Some, as they saw the preparations for departure, took passage for another island—they did not seem to care which. It was a pattern repeated. How really friendly the people were in general, and how they regarded the deeds of the lapsed week, it is impossible to say. Some wept over the death of Cook, and asked when Erono would return—a curious question, thought King. Some enquired what he would do to them when he returned; some said he would return in two months, and begged their English friends to mediate with him.2 Clerke could not worry about this. In the evening of the 22nd there was a light breeze off the land, and for the second time

1 Such trophies were normally distributed among great chiefs, and accordingly with Cook's remains there was a little problem in collecting them again. King learnt that the head or skull had gone to 'kahoo-opcou' (? Kekuhaupio, a warrior of immense distinction); the hair to 'Maia-maia' (Kamehameha, the future king); 'and the legs, thighs and arms to Terreeoboo.'—Voyage to the Pacific, III, 78. The missionary William Ellis, later collecting what information he could, was told that some bones were still retained, considered sacred, kept in a heiau dedicated to Lono on the other side of the island, and carried in annual religious procession—until, with the 'abolition of idolatry' in 1819, they disappeared, probably hidden in some secret cave. Almost everything else that could be called a relic of Cook's visit was venerated, he adds.—Narrative of a Tour through Hawaii (London, 1827), 117–18.

2 King, Journals III, 561; Trevenen, ibid., n.; Samwell, ibid., 1217. On the general question of Cook's godhead, and the sceptical case put by Sir Peter Buck, cf. the note on p. cxliv of that volume—which includes also relevant remarks by Ellis (Narrative) and Colnett.

page 677 the ships put Kealakekua Bay behind them, amid a good deal of gloom. Clerke would follow Cook's plan: see if he could get better water and more sea stores at the other islands, and settle the positions of those which lay between Hawaii and Kauai; and then steer north to Avacha Bay, in Kamchatka, which would be the base for a further attempt on the Arctic.

The winds were not good, and progress was rather slow and painful, as close in as possible to the westward coasts of Kahoolawe, Maui with its great extinct crater, Lanai, the mountain mass of Molokai, and between that island and Oahu, tracing another eastern shore, well populated, green, fertile, most beautiful. Rounding its north-eastern point, Clerke anchored for a few hours in a promising bay; landing, he was received with prostration and pigs, but found only a brackish supply of water. Obviously he must make for Kauai, where he hoped also for yams, good keepers at sea; and having got rid of all his women on Oahu, lest they should talk too much of Hawaiian misfortune, he was at the old anchorage in Waimea Bay on 1 March, prepared for a stay of some days. He at once sent a watering party on shore. Whether or not the news of Cook's death had arrived, and lowered the prestige of the visitors, the people were at first truculent, and on that day in defence a man was shot dead. It could not be called a cruel or gratuitous act, like that of Williamson the year before—the careful King was in command, there was little further conflict, and watering was completed without trouble. Trade went on apace; Kauai, thought Clerke, was 'the most extraordinary Hog Island we ever met with', and there was fruit; but the season, as luck would have it, was bad for yams. As there was plenty of salt, a large amount of pork was cured for future needs. The everlasting problem of the Resolution's leaky sides was again evident, and all the carpenters were employed on them. Chiefs, even a 'queen' came on board the ships; a great deal was learnt about the tangled politics of the island, which possessed some extraordinary personalities and a lively civil war—in which Cook's goats had perished; great inducements were held out to likely persons to stay and lend their aid in the struggle; but the idea of desertion, which had seemed so fair at Tahiti or Raiatea, had become not at all attractive, and there was no trouble on that score. After a week the ships crossed to Niihau, to try again for yams. Here also the supply was disappointing, and another week was productive of little beyond boisterous weather. On 15 March they departed south-west on a brief unavailing search for the elusive turtle island 'Modoopapappa', which remained an page 678 object of curiosity from the earlier visit, and then steered west. They were without joy. It was a mission of conscience rather than hope. The gloom of Kealakekua Bay sailed with them. There was further gloom for Clerke—and it was shared by most of his officers—in the reflection that he was leaving behind in the Sandwich Islands not merely his friend but, visibly and horribly alive, a disease compared to the ravages of which musket-balls were gifts of love. Samwell might try to convince himself, and the world, that it was there before Cook discovered the group. Clerke, like Cook, was without illusions, and did not encourage them in others; and the Hawaiians were not such fools that they could not put cause and effect together. Clerke had at one stage been too sanguine. 'Captain Cook did take such preventive methods as I hop'd and flatter'd myself would prove effectual,' he writes, 'but our Seamen are in these matters so infernal and dissolute a Crew that for the gratification of the present passion that affects them they would entail universal destruction upon the whole of the Human Species.'1

At Niihau Clerke's longitude was about 200° E, his latitude a little short of 22° N. His plan—which may have been Cook's, or perhaps was a modification of it—was to stand to the west in latitude 20°-21° as far as longitude 170° E before turning north, so as to cover as much of the unknown part of the ocean as possible, though he could hardly avoid crossing the Manila galleons' course at some stage; but with the varying weather and baffling breezes that he had he was no farther on this course than longitude 180° by the end of March. He therefore decided at that time to haul to the northward for Kamchatka, confident that he would still be on a course not previously sailed, and be as likely to pick up new discoveries as on the one he had set out to follow. There were no new discoveries. There were old trials. In April gales old rigging gave way, old sails split; both ships leaked, especially the Resolution, though in new places. As the ships got farther north the men, who had traded most of their clothes for female favours in the islands, felt the cold; fortunately the warm jackets that had been issued for the Arctic had all been collected on the passage south from Unalaska and were in store, and these, together with a few slops that still remained, saved them from too bitter a frost-biting. They were abundantly fed. On 19 April the temperature was 29½ degrees, a fall of 53 degrees since

1 Journals III, 576. Clerke attributes the severity of the visitation in Hawaii, in contrast to the Friendly and Society islands, to the quantity of salt the Hawaiians made use of in their customary diet. —'It certainly is a most unfortunate and ever to be lamented incident, here's a most miserable curse entail'd upon these poor Creatures which never can end but with the general dissolution of Nature.

page 679 the first day of the month, and the ships were covered with snow; in four days more they looked like sheets of ice. It's the sudden change that pinches, confided Clerke to his journal, considering the state of his men. He confided nothing of his own malady, either throughout these weeks or much later; and by now it had gone so far that he was unable to leave his cabin. Land, rising in snow-covered hills, was sighted through the fog on 23 April; on the 25th the ships, not surprisingly under the conditions, parted company. So close to port that was of no great moment; it was of greater moment to discover next morning that the Resolution's chronometer, 'the Time Keeper', the 'trusty guide', had broken down. As the month ended the ice which blocked Avacha Bay was clearing; on the 29th the Resolution got inside, and within a mile of the village of Petropavlovsk before she was stopped; on 1 May she was joined by the Discovery, and everybody could shudder at the idea of a winter spent at that place.

Avacha Bay was the only harbour on the east coast of Kamchatka. Petropavlovsk, like a few other villages in the southern part of the country, was supposed to be a fortified post; but when King and Webber, despatched as linguists, reached it by stumbling painfully over the ice, they found that its armament and its scurvy-ridden exiguous military force, as the Kamchatkan winter drew to a close, could stimulate nothing but sad laughter. The sergeant in charge was most obliging, and concealed the alarm he felt at the appearance of two armed ships, large by his standards, before the few log houses and native huts of his command in that dreary snow-covered wilderness. The country had, indeed, been largely depopulated by smallpox, and what supplies were to be obtained must obviously be sent for and bestowed by higher authority. The only place of account was Bolsheretsk on the other side of the peninsula, the seat of government and of trade, and the sergeant was willing enough to pass on to the governor, Major Behm, the letters which Ismailov had given Cook at Unalaska. When two persons came in reply to this to inspect the situation it was clear that Ismailov had badly misrepresented the ships, and Clerke decided to send King, Webber and Gore (the last eager to go for the novelty, though useless on an embassy as he spoke nothing but English) on the river and sledge journey overland to interview Behm. They were absent a fortnight, while the ice cleared and the early herbage appeared above ground, and the carpenters set once more to work on the rotting heart-breaking Resolution. Cook's regimen in diet was in full force, nettle-tops and wild onions were collected, fish was obtained in vast quantities, under the surgeons' directions even the Russian garrison was page 680 restored to health. Among the mutual good offices ranked high those of the priest of Paratunka, a village some miles away, who supplied Clerke with the comforts of bread, milk and fresh butter. King's journey was interesting; Major Behm, at the end of it, once he understood its cause, was sympathetic and generous, refusing to consider payment in any form for the cattle and flour and tobacco Clerke wanted, and sure—alas for his future!—that his Government would nourish the same generous sentiments. He was a highly intelligent man, interested in discovery. It was perhaps a stroke of luck that King's arrival coincided with the news from a northern outpost of the favourable effect on Russian-Chukchi relations of Cook's visit to the Bay of St Lawrence; for he had been taken for a Russian, of an amiability earlier unknown, and the Chukchi were now themselves inclined to be friendly, even to pay tribute. Behm's qualities cancelled out the less engaging ones of his subordinate, shortly to be his successor, a Captain Shmalev, who could see no scientific purpose in the voyage; and when King came back Behm insisted on accompanying him, both to wait upon Clerke and to ensure that the orders he had himself given were carried out. So much a friend did he prove that, as he was about to return to St Petersburg on relinquishing his command, Clerke decided to entrust to him Cook's journal, a long letter and the journal in which he continued Cook's, some important charts, and reports from King and Bayly, lest the ships should even now encounter disaster—and considering their state, that possibility could not be ignored. Behm was glad to undertake the trust; and in this way, seven months later, after a trans-Asian journey, was the crushing news to fall upon the Admiralty.

The governor was amazed at the healthy appearance of the seamen, three years out from home, in so much better order than their ships were. Yet one more man had died, Alexander McIntosh, a respected carpenter's mate of the Resolution, of a long-lasting 'flux'—the only man to perish of sickness, it was thought, who was not doomed from the start of the voyage. As June began the vessels had been made seaworthy once more, though ropes and cables would stand little strain. Ropes could be spliced, or some substitute found: the Time Keeper presented a more difficult problem. It had been religiously guarded and wound by Cook and King, and no one could imagine why it should have stopped. Among the Resolution's people was Benjamin Lyon, a seaman who had served his apprenticeship to a watchmaker, and had kept his hand in by odd work on the voyage. Clerke called him into consultation: he found page 681 a little dirt in one of the wheels and got the thing going, not quite accurately. After three weeks it stopped again, was cleaned a little more, re-started and satisfactorily regulated, 'when at last we flattered ourselves with having once more a valuable machine in our possession'—only to stop a third time with a broken pendulum spring; and although Lyon made a new spring its utility on that voyage in the finding of longitude was over. It had still honourable work before it.1

By the middle of June, after final exercises of friendship, the ships were engaged in the tedious process of getting away from Petropavlovsk and out of the bay, weighing, anchoring, weighing, towing, the dismal gloom of fog intensified by the ash and cinders thrown over them by a tremendous eruption of Avachinskaya, the most active of the volcanoes that stud the land for some distance north. On the 18th they were safely at sea, and for the next two and a half weeks followed the Kamchatkan coast amid much foggy weather, in which still the true nature of St Lawrence island could not be made out. They were through the strait by 6 July, and at once among heavy drift ice. The following period of three weeks was one of utter frustration. Cook could have done no more, on this attempt to do what Cook had failed to do. Clerke first made over to the American shore, to investigate the piece of coast from Kotzebue Sound northwards that had been missed the previous season. He was blocked by ice, still firm. He bore away to the west, in latitude 68°1′—the penalty of being so early in the season was that the main ice field was farther south than Cook had found it—running through the drift ice and trying to force a passage northward, the ships brought to a dead stop with battered bows when they hit some formidable lump, finding the ice bent round south-westward towards the Asian shore; finding that to keep in touch with its main line they must be always among the drift. Obstinate and unconquerable the barrier remained. Clerke persisted in his effort until the early morning of 19 July, when, at the end of a deep bay formed by solid ice, he was in latitude 70°33′, a few miles short of Cook's farthest north, and about one degree of longitude to the west of it. Then there was nothing he could do but follow the line of ice southward.

1 King gave a full account of the difficulties in a letter to the secretary of the Board of Longitude from Petropavlovsk, 10 June 1779, a copy of which is in the Banks Papers in the Mitchell Library Ms A 78.1, printed in Journals III, 1541–2. He hoped for the best, but Bayly (Astronomical Observations, 69) says it was rendered 'in a manner useless during the remaining part of the voyage'. After repair by Kendall it went with Captain Phillip in the First Fleet to Australia, returned to England in the Supply in 1792, and seems to have served with Jarvis/St Vincent till 1802. See Derek Howse, 'Captain Cook's Marine Timekeepers', in Antiquarian Horology, 1969, 190–9.

page 682 This was the triumphant day when two white bears were killed. They provided 'palatable and wholesome fresh meat in the idea of every body'; more palatable, it seems, than walrus. It could not restore Clerke to health. His strength was running out. On 21 July he registered his despair of the American side of the occean—'It is now clearly impossible to proceed in the least farther to the N0ward': but he would not quite give up. 'I therefore think it the best step I can take for the good of the service to trace the Ice over to the Asiatic Coast, try if I can find a Hole that will admit me any farther North, if not see whats to be done upon that Coast where I hope but cannot much flatter myself with meeting better success, for this Sea is now so Choak'd with Ice that a passage I fear is totally out of the question.'1 With these words this devoted man put down his pen.

There was no hole leading to the north; there was no passage to the west; the Asian coast was thickly bordered with ice; the Discovery, having survived some frightening danger from entanglement in the ice, emerged with much of her sheathing gone and a bad leak; the attempt was on the 27th abandoned, and on 30 July the ships repassed Bering Strait. They made their passage south farther out to sea than on the way north, to the east of the Komandorski islands, Bering and Medni, before turning into the coast. On 10 August Clerke dictated to King, his 'very dear and particular friend', his last letter to another friend, 'ever honoured', Banks—the document that carries most pathos in all the records of these voyages.2 There was nothing for him to be jovial about now; he had a sense that he had faithfully done his duty, he hoped his friends would 'have no occasion to blush in owning themselves such'; he recommended to them persons in the ship of less importance. He managed to write a firm signature. Though he was too weak for greater physical effort, he continued to command the ship until 15 August, when he relinquished it to King, and on the 22nd, the day after the Kamchatkan coast was sighted, he died. He was thirty-eight.

Two days more and they were in harbour, gazing with a lift of the heart at the transformed country, the Kamchatka of summer. Gore, now commander of the expedition, returned to the Resolution, bringing with him Burney and Rickman as the senior lieutenants; King took command of the Discovery, to which went also Williamson and William Lanyon, a master's mate in the Resolution and a veteran

1 Journals III, 696–7. The position for this day was later added to his entry—latitude 69°37′ N, longitude 193°7′ E.

2 Mitchell Library, Brabourne Papers, Ms A 78; Journals III, 1542–4.

page 683 of the second voyage, and four midshipmen who had been very useful to King in astronomical calculations; to keep observations going in both ships, Bayly exchanged into the Resolution. It was a stay of seven weeks, and some men found it tedious. Tents were at once set up for wooders, waterers, sailmakers and coopers; the forge was taken ashore; there were hands gathering greens and hauling the seine. There was much to be done to both ships: planks were stove, ironwork twisted, rudders damaged, sails in rags, rigging unkempt. On the 29th Clerke was given burial ashore, with salutes and all the dignity that could be provided; his shipmates planted willows round his grave, and Gore himself composed inscriptions for it and for the 'escutcheon' which the good pastor agreed should be hung in the church at Paratunka. Bullocks were driven to Petropavolvsk from the interior; other stores were brought from Okhotsk. An interpreter, who understood French and German, and played the fiddle, was provided by the Russians; he was the exile Ivashkin, strange figure of an alien romance, thus given fame;1 for he would have sunk obscure like other exiles had it not been for the published account of the voyage. Governor Shmalev—less suspicious, it appears, than he had been—came from Bolsheretsk to see that all was well. The priest lost no opportunity for benevolence. The officers went to Paratunka to visit him and to shoot wild ducks, and even tried their hands, unsuccessfully, at a bear-hunt. Country-dancing, Russian, Kamchatkan and English, took place on board the Resolution and at the tents for the local ladies. The ships' freemasons held lodge meetings. Anniversaries were appropriately celebrated: the British monarch's coronation, the name day of the Russian empress. The talk of furs from America brought merchants across the country from Bolsheretsk, who paid well for them; as there was neither gin nor tobacco to spend money on, observes King, the sailors were before long kicking their roubles about the deck. Other, more responsible, sailors now had time to consider the prospects of a regular fur-trade with the American coast. Spruce beer was again brewed, and before long it had to be drunk, if men were to drink anything besides water: on 5 October the last of the grog ran out. The short summer came to an end, and the winter began to set in; the leaves fell, the country became desolate and barren, the inland mountains were covered with snow; it was high time to be gone. One man wanted to stay, the Discovery's drummer, not from love of island ease but of a Kamchadale woman. He was torn from her arms. Gore felt it incumbent on himself to address the British Ambassador at the

1 Journals III, clxvi, 1276.

page 684 Court of Russia in praise of his hosts: 'Behm leads, Ismyloff [Shmalev] follows, and so on down to the poor, useful, inoffensive Kamtschadale … I do assure your Excellency, that I have been most agreeably disappointed in meeting with so much polite civilization in a Country so remote as Kamtschatka really is.'1
The instructions for the voyage left it to Cook, if he were debarred from returning home by a north-west or north-east passage, to adopt what route he thought fit. Gore, inheriting them, had no dictatorial instinct, and took his officers into consultation. They agreed that the best plan would be to trace the eastern sides of the very inadequately known Kurile islands and Japan and settle some latitudes and longitudes, then call at Canton for supplies, and make directly for the Cape, altogether avoiding Batavia. This, it was hoped, would add something to Geography and Navigation. It added very little. They sailed from Avancha Bay on 10 October, were deprived by contrary winds of any sight of the Kuriles and by fierce gales of anything beyond fleeting glimpses of the Japanese islands, so that the next land to be sighted clearly, and rather unexpectedly, was the Volcano or Kazan islands, far to the east of Formosa; they missed the Bashi, or Batan, islands, where Gore thought he might call for refreshment, south of Formosa, and passing through the Bashi channel into the China Sea narrowly missed running on the deadly Pratas shoal. Reading between King's lines, one feels some unstated reserve about Gore's quality as a scientific navigator, however just his reputation as a practical seaman. By then it was almost the end of November, and the north-east monsoon season; but a fortunate shift in the wind let them make the coast of China, and on 4 December they were moored on 'the Typa', a sort of shallow harbour between the islands which lie off the Portuguese settlement of Macao, at the mouth of the Canton river. A few days before this all journals, charts, and other papers relevant to the voyage had been surrendered. As the Portuguese had nothing they could dispose of, and the Chinese were difficult, it was necessary to get in touch with the merchants of the English factory at Canton to arrange for supplies, and King was sent up the river to expedite them. The merchants were full of courtesies. There was news at Macao that France, as well as the American colonies, was waging war against England. Surely the Americans had given up long ago! Burney set busily about preparing for the worst by making that minutely-written copy of his journal on China paper which is one of the curiosities of the voyage:

1 The greater part of the letter was a formal explanation of the reason for putting into Petropavlovsk: 5 October 1779.—Journals III, 1546.

page 685 which the Lords of the Admiralty, fortunately for themselves, never had to read. This unsettling information was balanced by later news at Canton, where they had both the public news and private letters, that the French, in their regard for science and admiration for Cook, had exempted his ships from molestation, and that their example had been followed by the American congress.1 While King was away, furs were sold to Chinese merchants at high prices; and when two men deserted at Macao, taking a ship's boat with them, it was opined that they intended to make their fortunes in the furtrade. The period of waiting came to an end; the ships got their supplies; the English merchants got their bills on the Admiralty; on 13 January 1780 the ships sailed.
In the China Sea they called for a week at Pulo Condore, a small high island where they were able to buy a number of buffaloes for fresh meat, to cut wood, and fish; then coasted Sumatra, passed the Strait of Sunda, watering at Prince's Island, and steered for the Cape—or rather, Gore not wishing to call there, for St Helena. The Indian Ocean provided pleasant sailing weather, except in the second week, when a violent storm tore to pieces every sail set, and—probably—started the strain on the Resolution's rudder which made it necessary for her to seek an earlier port. She could not even turn up round the Cape into Table Bay, and was forced to put in to False Bay—to Simonstown, as we should say—for repair. This was on 12 April. At the Cape the tidings of Cook's death brought dismay. Phillips and Williamson are said to have fought a duel, somewhat to the discredit of the latter. Gore was met by a communication from the Admiralty, addressed to Cook, apprising him of the French care for the safety of the ships, and learnt from the governor that the Spanish, who had come into the war, had ordered the same immunity. He therefore decided he had better not sail in company with any other British vessel; for if she were attacked how could he refrain from battle?—and that could cancel out the benefit conferred on neutral science. In case of any accident that might happen to the Resolution (‘She being very Weak in her Hull’), he informed Their Lordships in the letter that contained this thought, he was sending by His Majesty's Ship Sybil journals, observations and drawings, together with 'a Gentleman (One of our Masters Mates) who goes

1 On this, see Martin-Allanic, Bougainville, II, 1455, 1459; the text of Benjamin Franklin's recommendation to American privateers, 10 March 1779, printed in Journals III, 1535; and the letter of J. H. de Magellan to Banks, 23 June 1779, ibid., 1542. The American Congress was slow to follow the example of Franklin. After the war the Admiralty showed its appreciation of his gesture by presenting him with a copy of the printed Voyage, and the Royal Society sent him one of its gold Cook memorial medals.

page 686 with Capt Pasely as an Assistant In making the Lunar Observations … the above Gentleman Mr Portlock will be able to point out to their Lordships somewhat more of our Passage From Kamtschatka Than can be understood by the Map.'1 By the time of this letter the ships were almost ready to sail themselves. They did so on 9 May. Any contrary wind or calm was now infuriating to impatient men, and they had both these in the Atlantic, where on 13 July, the Resolution's 'birthday' was celebrated—the fourth anniversary of her leaving England; opening the Channel on 9 August they were shut out of it by an easterly, tried in vain for a port on the west of Ireland, and anchored for the first time since the Cape in the Orkney islands, at Stromness, on 22 August. Here Gore waited a month for a favourable wind, to the disgust, the indignation, of midshipmen who wanted to see first their mothers, and then prize-money—was there not a war still going on? Was this immobility in tune with 'the sublime & soaring genius of a Cook?' King was sent overland to London for the benefit of the Admiralty. Sergeant Gibson of the marines, now one of the seniors of circumnavigation, improved the time by getting married. Gore at length thought fit to sail, round the Orkneys and down the east coast that Cook had known so well. Sergeant Gibson, and another man, died. On 4 October the ships were in the Thames; without Cook; without Anderson; without Clerke.
There could be pleasure over their arrival, there could be no vast official excitement. The Admiralty had had the essential information early in the year. England, Europe knew that Cook was dead. The poetasters were at work on their afflicting verse. There was nothing to tell about the great central purpose of the voyage. The ships were paid off. There was no twenty thousand pounds to distribute. There were promotions and appointments. Gore and King became post-captains, and Gore went to Cook's vacant berth at Greenwich Hospital; there was a crop of lieutenants; Molesworth Phillips became a captain. There was scrambling among collectors for the bird-skins and other 'curiosities' brought home: Sir Ashton Lever competed with Banks, Mrs Anna Blackburne of Fairfield nourished a hope. Banks got his dried plants. The booksellers began to scout for anything that could be called an account or a journal. Those returned adventurers who knew on what grand lines their adventure had been planned, and were inquisitive, could enquire into that other expedition, the instructions for which had been made known to

1 Gore to Admiralty Secretary, 1 May 1780; P.R.O. Adm 1/1839, Journals III, 1556–7.

page 687 Cook—the one that was to try the Passage from Baffin Bay, and perhaps to lead him from half-way back to the Atlantic, the expedition to command which Pickersgill had been appointed.

Unfortunate Pickersgill! Everything was against him, the task he was given to do, the circumstances of his appointment, his own temperament. The task was impossible. His ship was the armed brig Lyon, which had spent several seasons surveying on the Newfoundland coast under Michael Lane, who had been Cook's mate in the Grenville on that duty, and had succeeded him in it, with distinction. Lane was now superseded by Pickersgill, and appointed to serve under him—which could not have been pleasant for either of them. The Admiralty, or the Navy Board, in preparing the ship for service, was quite irresponsible: it saw no reason to strengthen her for a sea in which the stoutest whalers alone normally ventured, or even to overhaul her properly: half the crew were landsmen, none had proper clothing, the charts which could be supplied were of no service whatever. Pickersgill left Deptford in the middle of May 1776, two months before Cook, two months too late for useful work. He had a preliminary task, to protect the English whaling fleet from the Americans. After a slow passage he reached Greenland in early July, was at once amongst ice, in latitude 60°, and learnt from a stray vessel that the whalers had finished their season and left their base at Disco Island for home. It was still possible to get on to the eastern coast of Davis Strait and find a small harbour which supplied wood and water immediately, and could be of use in the following season. The highest latitude reached was 68°26′ N; whalers regularly went further; Baffin had been to 78°. Pickersgill was beaten by ice and icebergs, managed to make his way painfully to Labrador for a month's stay, to recruit his men, repair his ship, and drink hard; and reached Deptford at the end of October, five and a half months after he had left it. He retained his command until January 1777, when it was decided on Lane's allegations of his constant drunkenness to court-martial him, and he was dismissed from the navy. One sighs for Pickersgill, the romantic, the man of good intentions and less than iron will, who could take a lunar and draw a chart, had been round the world three times, had a sense of justice, and, like so many of his naval contemporaries, drowned his disappointments in the bottle.1

He was followed in the Lyon not by Lane, who at least might have

1 J. R. Forster had something to say in his praise, and Forster is the authority for all we know of his end: after his dismissal from the navy he got command of a privateer, fell into the Thames one night while going off to her drunk, and was drowned.—History of the Voyages and Discoveries made in the North (London, 1786), 407–8.

page 688 brought back some accurate observation, but by Lieutenant Walter Young, a good fighting officer, but one of the most inefficient explorers that ever existed. Young was instructed to winter in the north if that was necessary to his mission. No improvement was made to the ship, though the men were this time given warm clothing. He sailed from England in mid-March 1777, on 8 June reached latitude 72°45′, was stopped by ice; coasted it to the northern end of Disco, where he found it 'fixed to the land and impenetrable'; was persuaded of the impossibility of penetrating further northward because of fog, was convinced that his ship was in imminent danger, and on 22 June sailed straight back home. Young may have been correct in his judgment of the situation; but it was not thus that Baffin, in whose bay he was, had made discoveries. The Admiralty must wait for Cook, and Cook was then no farther on his voyage than Tongatapu.