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Historical Records of New Zealand Vol. II.

Lieutenant Cook to Secretary Stephens

Lieutenant Cook to Secretary Stephens.

Endeavour, bark, in the harbour of Rio de Janeiro,
the 30th of November, 1768.


Please to acquaint my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty of my arrival at this port on the 13th instant, judging it to be the best place on this coast where I could furnish myself with the necessary refreshments I stood in need of. The manner we have been received and treated here is such as was never before practised on any English ship, which makes me think it the more necessary that the whole minutely be laid before their page 57 Lordships.* On my arrival off this port, I sent Lieutenant Hicks before me (from before the mouth of the river were [where] we lay at that time becalm'd) to acquaint the Vice Roy with the reasons that induced me to touch here, which was to procure water and refreshments for the ship, and to request the assistance of a pilot to bring us up into proper anchoring-ground. The sea-breeze soon after this freshing, and being unwilling to loose time, I made sail up the river, and meeting with neither difficulty nor danger to retard me, came to an anchor before the town, wondering that I saw nothing of my boat, knowing that she must have been ashore several hours, but was surprized when she return'd, informing me that the officer was detain'd. On this I prepared myself to go on shore to demand him, but before I could do that a boat came on board with several officers, who asked me many and very particular questions, all of which was answered to their satisfaction. They told me that my lieutenant had not been confin'd, but allow'd that he had been detain'd on shore, and said it was the constant custom to detain any one who came on shore from a ship until a boat from the Vice Roy had visited her. About this time I observed a boat fill'd with soldiers constantly rowing about the ship, which I understood the next day had orders to permit nobody but self to go on shore, and to hinder any one of the inhabitants of the place from coming on board unless they had particular leave. Soon after this, Lieutenant Hicks was put on board in one of the Vice Roy's boats, attended by an officer. He inform'd me that after he had delivered his message to the Vice Roy he was asked if he would comply with the customs of the place, to which he answer'd that we would comply with any custom that had been before observed by English men-of-war; he was then told I must wait upon the Vice Roy the next day, when everything should be settled. When he was coming to the boat, in order to return on board, he was told he must stay on shore until I came. The first thing I did the next morning was to wait upon his Excellency, and acquainted him with the reasons that induced me to put in here (naming the things I wanted), and desired he would give the necessary order for me to be furnished with

* M. de Bougainville experienced exactly similar treatment from Count da Cunha, Viceroy in 1767. His remarks on the manner in which the law of nations was interpreted in Brazil are quite as pronounced as those of Captain Cook.—Voyage of M. de Bougainville, English edition, p. 72, et seq. Even Commodore Byron, who appears to have been treated with exceptional courtesy, remarks upon the Viceroy being “as absolute a sovereign as any upon earth.”—Hawkesworth's Voyages, vol. i, p. 6.

Zachary Hicks, second lieutenant, and next in command to Cook.

D. Antonio Rolim de Moura, Count of Azambuja, Viceroy, 1767–70. Cook, it will be noticed, invariably addressed him as Count Rolim.

page 58 them, as my stay here would be very short. He said I should be accommodated with what I wanted, and desir'd to know if I had got any correspondence at this place, and told me it was a custom in this port for strangers to employ one of the natives to buy everything they wanted. I told him I had letters of credit, to two merchants here who I did not doubt would furnish me with everything I wanted. I then enquir'd of him where I should water, and asked leave for my coopers to repair the casks ashore, to which he answer'd that I must water at the fountain before the palace, and that my coopers should have leave to work ashore, that he would order a soldier to be put into each of my boats when they brought the casks ashore, and likewise when they returned on board, to See that they were not interrupted in carrying on this duty, and that a centinel should be placed over the casks when on shore. I told him that the putting soldiers into the boats I thought unnecessary—that a centinel over the casks ashore would be quite sufficient. He said that it had always been a custom, and that it was by orders from his king, which he must comply with, and by that means I should be sure of having my casks taken care of. I told him that if this custom was necessary with merchant ships who might be suspected of contraband trade, it was not at all so with my ship, which he must not put upon the footing of a merchantman being a King's ship, who never entered upon trade. He said he did not put me upon any such footing, but that it was a custom when anything came on shore from a ship to put a centinel into the boat. I thought he might be suspicious that we came here to trade, and as I had nothing to fear on that head, and knew that by that means my men would be kept stricter to their duty, I consented, and this practice was strictly observed during our stay here; but I had not the least idea at the time of a guard being put into a boat where myself or any of my officers should be, as I had been ashore the evening before in my boat, and that morning, without any such thing being attempted. I then desired to know the reasons why my lieutenant was detain'd yesterday. He began the same answer that his officers had done the day before. I remonstrated against it as unprecedented treatment to an officer belonging to an English ship-ofwar in a friendly port. He said it was the custom and the King's orders, and I must not take it amiss. I was willing to waive this matter in the best manner I could, being very desirous of avoiding all manner of disputes of this nature, which I knew could not fail of creating a delay, which would retard the voyage, the success of which I had of all things most at heart. I then acquainted him that there were several gentlemen on board who had never before been at sea, and being much indis- page 59 posed with the fatigues of a long passage, would be glad to reside on shore during our short stay here, and being well skill'd in natural history, desired leave of his Excellency to make such collections as this place did afford and our stay would permit. He said it was contrary to the King's orders, and that he could not grant either one or the other. I was surprized at this refusal, and press'd him several times, but to no purpose.
As soon as I came from his Excellency I found myself accompanied by an officer. Upon my expressing my suspicions of his being a guard, was told he was only to show me such places in the town as I wanted; but on my coming outward I found he likewise was to accompany me to my ship. On this I apply'd to the Vice Roy's aid-de-camp (as I could not See himself), and told him that I had done my business and was going on board my ship, therefore the gentleman then with me could be of no further use, to which he answer'd it was the Vice Roy's orders for an officer to attend upon me wherever I went to order me all the assistance I wanted. I desired that his Excellency might be acquainted that I was much obliged to him, but as I had met with an English gentleman (one of their officers) who would assist me in everything in his power, and therefore one of his officers attending upon me would be of no service, as we could not understand each other, and at the same time express'd my suspicions of his being placed over me as a guard, and on that account could not admit him on board; to which the Vice Roy sent for answer that it was the King's orders to him that an officer should always attend upon all strangers of any rank, that if I did not choose to admit him on board I might put him into the guard-boat, and at the same time assured me that nothing more was meant than a complement. Finding nothing more could be done at the time, I went on board, attended with the same officer, in company with Mr. Forster, an English officer in their service, who had obtained leave to go on board to dine with me. In the evening, Mr. Banks and the other gentlemen prepared themselves to go on shore with me to wait on the Vice Roy, but no one was permitted to pass the guard-boat but myself. They, therefore, were obliged to return on board. I went immediately to the Vice Roy, and desired he might be acquainted (for I could not see him) that I was much obliged to his Excellency for the complement he was pleased to pay me; but as it was an honour that would not be paid to any commander of his Most Faithful Majesty's ship in any British port, and as no complement was paid to the commanders of the Dolphin and Tamer* when they were here, who were of higher

* The Dolphin and the Tamar, under Commodore Byron, were at Rio in September, 1764.

page 60 rank than me, I hoped that his Excellency would not insist on my accepting of it. I then remonstrated against Mr. Banks not being permitted to come on shore. His Excellency's answer was that the commanders of their ships would not expect the same complement to be paid them in our ports; that he did not know what was acted in this place when the Dolphin and Tamer was here, it being before his time; that he could not give leave to any of the gentlemen or officers, except myself, to come on shore; that he acted according to orders from his Court, and that they were such as he could not dispense with. I desired that his Excellency might be acquainted that, as he had given his word that nothing more was meant by the officer attending me than a complement, I should be content to accept it when on shore, but the suffering either officer or soldier to come into my boat had so much the appearance of a guard, the admitting of which I could not answer to their Lordships, as they must See it in a different light to what his Excellency meant it, to which I received for answer that if I would not admit an officer or soldier into my boat I must not expect to come any more on shore.

I was much chagrined at this answer, seeing plainly what treatment I had to expect, and had some thoughts of puting to sea again next day, but when reflected on the time that would be lost by puting in here, and that by this time a great part of my water-casks were on shore, I resolved to stay until I had procured the necessaries I wanted, and accordingly the next morning carried to the Vice Roy an account thereof in writing, both for daily subsistence and sea store, who gave orders for me to be furnished with the whole, except the use of a stage for cleaning the ship's bottom, which he said I could not be allowed unless one of their carpenters inspected the ship and reported her in want of such repairs. This I would not permit.

Notwithstanding the orders said to be given for me to be supplied with everything I wanted, I met with numerous obstacles under various and most frivolous pretences. It was with the utmost difficulty I obtained leave for one of my people (tho' attended by a soldier) to go into the market to buy fish, fruit, &c., for my table. All the answer I could obtain to the repeated remonstrances, I made against a guard put into my boat was that it was the King's orders, and could not be dispensed with. I, therefore, on Thursday, the 17th, drew up a memorial to his Excellency, and sent it by an officer, together with a letter from Mr. Banks,* to both of which we received answer the next day;

* By no one on board the Endeavour was the treatment received from the Viceroy more keenly felt than by Banks. When he found it was impossible to move the Viceroy, he determined to outwit him. On the 22nd November his servants were sent on shore before daylight, returning on board after dark, with plants and insects. On the 26th, Banks himself stole on shore in the same way, and spent the whole of the day in the fields. The country people treated him kindly, and he returned in the evening with, amongst other things, a muscovy duck, for which he “paid something less than two shillings.”—Hawkesworth, vol. ii, p. 25.

page 61 and the day following I sent a second memorial to his Excellency, by Lieutenant Hicks, with orders not to suffer a soldier to be put into the boat; that if the guard-boat would not permit him to go on shore without, to deliver the letter to that officer, and return on board. Upon his coming to the guard and refusing to admit a soldier into the boat, the officer attended him in his own boat to the landing-place. As soon as Mr. Hicks had left the boat a guard was put into her; the Vice Roy refused receiving the letters, and sent word that unless I would suffer a guard to be put into the boat all communication was shut up between me and him. Mr. Hicks then insisted on returning on board in his own boat, and in the same manner as he came on shore; but upon his persisting in not going into the boat unless the guard was order'd out, all the boat's crew were, by arm'd force, beat out of the boat (though they gave no provocation, nor made the least resistance), and hurried to prison, where they remained until the next day. Mr. Hicks was then by force put into one of their boats, and brought on board under the custody of a guard. Immediately upon my hearing of this, I wrote a letter demanding my men and boat, and his Excellency's reasons for detaining them, and enclosed the memorial he had refused to receive and sent it by a petty officer, as I had never objected to a guard being put into a boat wherein was no commission'd officer. He was admitted ashore and deliver'd the letter, and was told an answer would be sent the next day. This evening betwixt eight and nine o'clock came on an excessive hard storm of wind and rain. The longboat at this time coming on board with four pipes of wine in her went adrift, and having no boat to send after her but the yawl, which was not able to tow her one way or another, they were obliged to bring her to a grapnel, where they left her full of water, and got on board with the yawl about 2 in the morning. The next morning sent to the Vice Roy to acquaint him with what had happened, to desire leave and the assistance of a shore boat to look after our longboat, and at the same time to demand my pinnace and the crew. After some time the whole was granted, and we was so fortunate as to find the longboat the same day. The pendant which the pinnace always wore when an officer was in her was taken away. This the Vice Roy laid to the storm, but I was inform'd the centinel struck the mast and took it away.
page 62

On Monday evening, the 21st, I received his Excellency's answer to my last memorial and letter sent by one of his officers, by whom I sent an answer to that part of his Excellency's memorial wherein he doubts the ship belongs to the King; and in answer to the letter concerning the detention of my boat and her crew, I thought it only necessary to acquaint his Excellency with the taking away the pendant. At the expiration of two days I received answers to both. In this his memorial he accuseth my people of smuggling, a thing I am very certain they were not guilty of, and for which his Excellency could produce no proof. This memorial I answer'd, but dropp'd the affair of the boat. On the 28th I unexpectedly received another memorial from his Excellency in answer to my last, drawn up in such a manner as I thought called upon me to answer.

I have here enclosed copys* of all the memorials and letters that have pass'd between the Vice Roy and me, which will be forwarded to you by the captain of a Spanish packet, now in this port, who will sail in a few days for Old Spain, and I shall leave in the hands of the Vice Roy duplicates thereof, to be forwarded by him to Lisbon. In this my letter I have stated the whole transactions as they hap'ned from time to time without reasoning upon any one point, soothing or aggravating circumstances. I must not omit more fully to acquaint you that no one of my boats was ever permitted to pass between the ship and the shore without a soldier being put in her. This practice I was obliged to submit to, otherwise I could not have obtained the supply I wanted; but, rather than suffer myself to be made a prisoner in my own boat, I kept on board, and notwithstanding my many embarrassments I met with I have got a recruit of provisions and water, with many other refreshments, and shall now put to sea without loss of time in as good a condition for prosecuting the voyage as the day we left England. It may not be improper to observe that the Vice Roy always pretended that the orders and customs respecting foreign ships were general, yet the Spanish packet, which put in here from the River of Plate, met with a very different reception. No guard was put over her, and the officers were at liberty to go wherever they pleased; and whereas the Vice Roy has, in some of his memorials, made mention of my people smugling, I must, in justice to myself, to the other officers, and to the crew in general, declare that

* The originals of these memorials and letters cannot now be found. The attested copies of his own letters and translations of the Viceroy's were sent home by Cook; these are still in existence in the Admiralty Office, and are printed at the end of this letter as enclosures.

The “Spanish packet” was carrying despatches from Buenos Ayres to Spain. There is no record of her name, but she was commanded by Don Antonio de Velasco.

page 63 it is my firm belief that so far from anything being smugled ashore here, that not sixpenny worth of any kind of goods was on board the ship for that purpose.

I have, &c.,

James Cook.

P.S.—Least any of his Maj's ships should touch here before the dispatches I forward from hence comes to hand, or that they should miscarry, I have left for the command'g officer copys of these memorials with Capt'n Forster, an English officer in the Portuguese service, and a man of honour (who hath interested himself a good deal in our behalf), with directions that if no ship arrives here in a certain time he is to forward them to you.

Since writing the foregoing P.S. I am informed that Captain Forster is taken into custody by order of the Vice Roy for having interested himself in our behalf, so that I have now no opp'y left of leaving a duplicate of the memorials, &c., as I intended doing.*

* Two Portuguese officers were treated similarly by Count da Cunha for having shown undue civility to M. de Bougainville. One was imprisoned in the Citadel; the other exiled. What was Captain Forster's fate it is now impossible to say.