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A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas

Continuation of a Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, In, his Majesty's Ship The Endeavour. — Part IV

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Continuation of a Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, In, his Majesty's Ship The Endeavour.
Part IV.

On the 16th of January, we took our departure from this island; and, a few days after, the disorder with which several of our company had been attacked, and died at Batavia and Cooper's Island, began to rage among us with great violence, and, in a few days, carried off Mr. Charles Green, the astronomer; Mr. Sydney Parkinson, Mr. David Spoving, clerk to Mr. Banks, and many of the common men. Mr. Green, being early seized with a delirium, unfortunately left some of his minutes so loose and incorrect, that it is feared it will be difficult to render them intelligible.

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On our arrival at the Cape, we were in great distress, not having more than six men capable of duty; but, providentially for us, the Pocock East-Indiaman was there, homeward bound, and captain Riddle generously sent his boat to us with a supply; of fruits, and other vegetables, as the wind blew hard, and we could not send our boat on shore.

The next day, the Captain, Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, and several others of our principal people, went on shore; were kindly received by the governor; and met with a different treatment from that at Rio de Janeiro. He gave them a grant to hire a house for the sick, who were all landed the next day; and, from the wholesomeness of the climate, and a proper diet, most of them soon recovered. We staid there about a month; a great part of which time Dr. Solander was very ill. Mr. Banks spared neither time nor expence in collecting of plants, infects, skins of wild beasts, and other curious animals; and employed a number of people to assist him, some of whom he sent up a long way into the country for plants. Lieutenant Gore, with only one attendant, a slave belonging to Mr. Brand, a burgher at the Cape town, made an excursion, out of curiosity, to the top of the table-hill, where they saw several tigers and wolves, and brought some curious plants, in flower, which he presented to Mr. Banks, to whom they were very acceptable.

After the sick had recovered, and we had taken in all necessary supplies, and had engaged some Portugueze to supply the loss of our sailors, we left the Cape, and proceeded on our voyage homeward. Three days after we left the Cape, Mr. Robert Molineux, the master of our ship, died.

After a passage of eighteen days, during which time nothing remarkable happened, we arrived at St. Helena, where we found his majesty's ship, the Portland, commanded, by captain Elliot, with twelve East-Indiamen under her convoy. In going into the road we ran soul of one of the Indiamen; but, with the assistance of some boats, we happily got clear of her, without much damage, except to our upper-works. The Portland being under sailing orders, and we under captain Elliot's command, as senior officer, we were assisted, by his people, in procuring page 211wood and water; and he furnished us with some European provisions. We stayed there but four days, and then the whole fleet, consisting of fourteen sail, weighed anchor, and steered homeward.

Twelve days after we left St. Helena, our first lieutenant., Mr. Zachariah Hicks, died. About a month after we fell in with a schooner from Rhode-island, who was whaling off the western islands. We sent a boat on board for news; and were informed, to our great joy, that all was peaceable in England when she left it. Through our heavy sailing in the night, we lost fight of the fleet; and, in a few days, saw another whaling schooner, who confirmed the account which we had received from the former, and told us, that two days before they had chased a large whale into a harbour of St. Michael's island, and that, while they were pursuing it, they were fired upon by the Portuguese, and obliged to retreat, leaving the whale a prize to them, who, doubtless, made sure of it. We bought, of the master of the schooner, some fine salt cod, with some fresh fish; also some New-England rum. This vessel, it seemed, had been out twenty-one days, and was in want of beef, and seemed distressed.

About sixteen days after we left the schooner, we got into soundings; and, in a few more days, beat into the Chops of the Channel; and the wind, which had been before at N. E. coming about to the S.W. we proceeded directly to the Downs, where we arrived on the 12th of July, 1771, after having been absent from England within a few days of three years. We immediately sent our sick on shore; and, after staying three days, received orders to proceed round to Woolwich, where we anchored on the 20th of the same month.

It may not be amiss to inform the curious in natural subjects, that Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander have discovered, in the course of this adventure, many thousand species of plants heretofore unknown: among the rest, one that produceth a kind of white silk flax, which, as it grows under the same parallel of latitude with England, it is presumed, will also thrive here, if properly cultivated. They have also brought over with them a quantity of seed, which, if it succeeds on this island, may, in all probability, be of much national advantage to Great-Britain.

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They have also described a great variety of birds and beasts, heretofore unknown, or but indifferently treated of; and above three hundred new species of fish, and have brought home with them many of the several kinds; with about one hundred species of new shells; and a great number of curious infects, some of them of a new genus; and corals; also of other marine animals, particularly of the Molusca tribe.

Copious descriptions of all there curiosities, with elegant engravings annexed, are now preparing to be published to the world by the above-mentioned gentlemen.