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Historical Records of New Zealand Vol. II.



The Memorial of Lieutenant James Cook, commander of his Britannick Majesty's ship Endeavour, in answer to one from his Excellency Count Rolim, Viceroy and Captain-General of the States of Brazil.

I cannot help being surprized that your Excellence should plead the antient custom of the ports of Brazil as an excuse for the treatment that I have met with here, and the more so as I shall prove to your Excellency that whatever may have been the usage with regard to merchantmen no such treatment was ever before offer'd to any ship wearing his Britannick Majesty's pendant; this confirms my suspicion of your Excellency being still under a mistake, which I shall endeavour as far as it is in my power to clear up.

On the 14th of September, 1764, his Britannick Majesty's ships Dolphin and Tamer, under the command of Commodore Byron, came to an anchor in this harbour, where, so far from meeting with either indignity or insult, they were received (by page 67 your Excellency's predecessor* with all the respect that was their due; that I am convinced of by a journal of those ships now in my possession, which on my departure from England was deliver'd to me by their Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of Great Britain, &c., as well as by two officers now with me, who were both at that time on board the commodore's ship. As for your Excellency's behaviour to an English ship at Bahia, I am very certain that such ship must have belong'd either to some merchant or trading company, as no commander of a ship belonging to his Britannick Majesty could have answer'd to his Court the having submitted to any such treatment.

Whether or not I would comply with the customs usual in this port was a question put to my first officer as soon as he landed; his answer was that I would conform to any regulations which his Britannick Majesty's ships had before complied with, an answer worthy is [sic] prudence, and by the true meaning of which alone I shall regulate my future compliances.

Your Excellency tells me that I am at liberty when I please to leave the port; this I must answer by saying that I am very desirous of so doing, did not the same reasons that induced me to come in (which your Excellency has long ago been acquainted with) make my stay here necessary. As soon, however, as I shall have received the supplys which I have applied for, your Excellency may depend on my leaving it with all expedition, as I can have no one inducement to remain in a place where I have met with such unexpected ill-treatment.

It appears very extraordinary to me, and doubtless will do so to my Court, that notwithstanding the same treaty of peace and amity still subsists between their Britannick and Most Faithful Majestys, orders of so different a nature from those formerly practis'd should now have been issued out in this port.

Your Excellency has omitted giving an answer to that part of my memorial which most required it. I mean my complaint of your insisting upon putting officers or soldiers into my boats, a circumstance which, minutely and in all its particulars, must be properly reported to my Court.


J. Cook.

Dated on board his Britannick Majesty's ship the Endeavour, in the harbour of Rio de Janeiro, the 19th of November, 1768.

A true copy. (Signed) J.C.

* Conde da Cunha.

Commodore Byron's account of his experiences at Rio Janeiro will be found in Hawkesworth, vol. i, p. 6.