Title: Early New Zealand Botanical Art

Author: F. Bruce Sampson

Publication details: Reed Methuen, 1985, Auckland

Digital publication kindly authorised by: F. Bruce Sampson

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Early New Zealand Botanical Art

II — Johann and George Forster

page 33

Johann and George Forster

After the success of the first voyage, Cook's proposal for a second expedition had the support of the King and the Admiralty. Although the first voyage had shown it was unlikely that a great southern continent (Terra australis incognita) existed, there were uncharted seas in high southern latitudes to be explored before its existence could be completely disproved. There were also further discoveries to be made in the central Pacific and South Atlantic Oceans. The Lords of the Admiralty readily accepted James Cook's plan for a circumnavigation of the globe from west to east at high southern latitudes, using Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand, as an advance base. Two Whitby colliers, from the same shipyard as the Endeavour, were chosen and renamed Resolution (462 tons) and Adventure (340 tons). Cook, promoted to commander, was to lead the voyage on the Resolution, and Tobias Furneaux (1735-81), who had served with Captain Samuel Willis on his 1766-8 circumnavigation, was made commander of the Adventure.

The second voyage began on 13 July 1772 from Plymouth Sound, exactly a year after the Endeavour reached the Thames at the end of the first voyage. In the intervening year Joseph Banks, enjoying being famous, had made plans to take part in the second voyage, along with a retinue of fifteen scientists, artists, secretaries and servants. To accommodate them all, he asked the Admiralty to provide extra space on. the Resolution, with the result that the great cabin was raised in height and a superstructure, complete with roundhouse, was erected on deck. This made the collier so top heavy and unseaworthy that the Resolution had to be restored to her original state. Banks was furious and, according to a midshipman, John Elliot, he "swore and stamp'd upon the Warfe, like a Mad Man" and withdrew with his entourage from the voyage. Instead, he chartered a 190-ton brig and with his party, including Solander, set forth on an expedition to Iceland.

At short notice a 42-year-old German, Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-98), was approached on behalf of the Earl of Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty, and readily accepted the post of naturalist on the voyage. His condition that his seventeen-year-old eldest son, Johann George Adam, commonly known as George (1754-94), accompany him as assistant naturalist and draughtsman was met, and the generous sum of £4,000 was page 34 granted. Johann Forster had, in fact, previously let Banks know he was keen to accompany him on the voyage, at a time when the latter was inundated with such requests.

It is only in recent years that the contribution the Forsters made to knowledge through their participation in the second voyage has been generally recognised and appreciated. Johann Forster was an outstanding scholar, prodigiously well read, courageous and of strong physique, but a man who was his own worst enemy — suspicious, stubborn, difficult, tactless and quarrelsome, frequently in debt and forever borrowing money from friends and being sought by bailiffs. This chapter can do little justice to such a complex pair as Johann and George Forster, and I would draw the reader's attention to Dr Michael Hoare's brilliant biography, The Tactless Philosopher: Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-98) (1975) and to The Resolution Journal of Johann Reinhold Forster 1772-75, edited by Hoare (1982). This journal, hitherto unpublished, gives considerable insight into the Forsters and their work on the voyage. Most of the first volume is devoted to a very valuable introduction by Dr Hoare, and the following summary of the Forsters' lives draws heavily on Dr Hoare's writings.

Before the voyage

Johann Reinhold Forster was born in Dirschau (Tczew) in Poland, thirty kilometres south of Danzig (Gdańsk), on 22 October 1729. A great-greatgrandfather, George Forster, a Yorkshireman, had settled in the region in the 1640s and his descendants were proud of their British ancestry. Johann showed an early aptitude for languages and, it is said, became proficient in seventeen of them. When fifteen years old, he entered a famous institute in Berlin, the Joachimsthal-Gymnasium, and studied a variety of subjects ranging from classics, theology and languages to ethnology, cosmology and ancient geography. In 1748 he enrolled in the theological faculty at Fried-richs University, Halle. Forster concentrated on studying classical and Oriental languages, but is known to have received some tuition in natural history. He developed an interest in the methods of Linnaeus. By 1751, probably prompted by an ailing father, Johann had returned to Dirschau as a curate in the Reformed Church. In 1754 he married a cousin, Justina, who seems to have been an ideal wife. J. R. Forster was ordained and became a parish priest in Nassenhuben near Danzig in 1753. He remained there until 1765, by which time the Forsters had seven children (an eighth died at birth).

During these twelve years, Forster devoted much of his time to scholarship and correspondence. He spent most of an inheritance from his father on one of his greatest passions, books. Johann took a keen interest in his parishioners, especially the peasants, but as his secular interests grew, his sermons became last-minute efforts and he often fell asleep in the pulpit during services. His interest in natural history was rekindled by the keen interest his son George (born in Nassenhuben, 26 November 1754) took page 35 in the plants and animals of the district. During the Seven Years War (1756-63), when the Hochzeit-Nassenhuben parish was periodically occupied by Russian troops, Forster spared no effort to protect the rights and property of his parishioners, and his courage and dedication earned the Russians' respect.

After the war Johann's career altered radically. In March 1765 he left with George for Russia and was appointed Catherine the Great's commissioner to the Volga. Earlier, in 1764, he had made his disappointment known to the Russian Resident in Danzig, when he was overlooked for an unfilled position as German pastor for a Reformed Church at Archangel 'sk, Russia. When Catherine the Great, a German, took over the throne of Russia from her husband, Czar Peter, in 1762, she had encouraged, with promises of various concessions, the migration of Germans to the Volga region. Thousands made the journey, but rumours filtered back of the poor conditions and treatment the settlers were subjected to. Catherine appointed Forster to report (favourably!) on the Volga colonies to dispel the rumours. The Forsters went from St Petersburg (Leningrad) to the Volga. Johann made meteorological observations and maps during their travels, using instruments supplied to them by the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences. George, only ten years old, collected and identified plants. (Their observations on the natural history of the Volga region were published in England in 1767.) Johann Forster's report would not have pleased Catherine, for it was highly critical of the Russian administration of the region. He did not receive the salary promised, and, after some months in St Petersburg, the Forsters returned to their family in mid-1766. In the interim, Johann had been forced to resign his position in Nassenhuben because of his absence.

Leaving the rest of the family behind once more, Johann and George set off for England to seek their fortune there. They arrived in London, almost penniless, in October 1766. For a time they stayed with a boyhood friend of Johann's, Karl Woide, a leading scholar of the Coptic language. They sold artefacts from their Russian travels to obtain some funds. J. R. Forster made some useful contacts by attending meetings of the Royal Society of London and the Society of Antiquaries, and presented a series of papers in Latin on a wide variety of topics. He earned a reputation as an impressive scholar, knowledgeable in antiquities and even agriculture and animal husbandry. He met Dr Solander, then working as an assistant at the British Museum. George, though only twelve, translated into English and edited a book by the Russian Lomonosov: A Chronological Abridgement of the Russian History (London, 1767). Then, in May 1767, to the great relief of Woide, who had been giving considerable financial support, Forster obtained the position of tutor in modern languages and natural history at Warrington Academy. This institution was renowned for its liberal, nonconformist teaching and modern curriculum. Forster replaced the great Joseph Priestly, a tutor in classics and literature, who had been able, while at Warrington, to conduct his experiments in chemistry and physics. For page 36 a few months that summer Forster and Priestly were together at Warrington. The rest of the Forster family left Danzig and George escorted them from London to Warrington. George became a student at the academy in the following year. The manuscripts of Forster's Warrington lectures are now in Berlin and, in Michael Hoare's words, "There was . . . nothing in any English and few European educational institutions to compare with the scope, depth and critical approach of Forster's lectures in mineralogy and natural history."

Problems developed for Forster at Warrington Academy. He had become unpopular with the secretary of the academy for using "violent disciplinary measures" against one of the pupils, and the academy was receiving complaints from Warrington tradesmen about unpaid debts of Forster's. He left the academy in June 1769, then taught languages at Botelier Grammar School, Warrington, for a year. During this time, Johann and George Forster worked on translating into English the travels of Kalm (North America), Loeffling (Spain and South America) and Osbeck (Asia). The translated versions appeared before the second voyage and made the Forsters well known to the general public. In November 1770 Forster left Warrington for London, renting a house next door to Woide. Employment he had hoped for did not materialise. The two Forsters continued with their translations and attended meetings of the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Society (J. R. Forster was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London in February 1772). In 1771 Johann Forster joined the staff of The Critical Review, a periodical specialising in reviews of foreign books, and with 500 roubles, a fraction of the sum promised, finally arriving from the Russian Government, the family eked out an existence. J. R. Forster's translation from the French of Bougainville's A Voyage round the world. . . 1766, 1767, 1768 and 1769, with some 500 pages of text, appeared in 1772 and received a glowing review in The Critical Review — the possibility exists that Forster wrote the review himself!

By the time of the second voyage, Johann Forster had established himself as "one of the best-read, most discerning and leading naturalists in Britain" (M. E. Hoare). He had, through correspondence, established contact with Linnaeus, the father of modern biological taxonomy. Yet in 1961 the famous Cook scholar, the late Professor J. C. Beaglehole (in The Journals of Captain James Cook, vol. II, Introduction) had written:

For ocean voyaging no man was ever by physical or mental constitution less fitted . . . there is nothing that can make him other than one of the Admiralty's vast mistakes. From first to last on the voyage, and afterwards, he was an incubus. One hesitates, in fact, to lay out his characteristics, lest the portrait should seem simply caricature. Dogmatic, humourless, suspicious, pretentious, contentious, censorious, demanding, rheumatic, he was a problem from any angle.

page 37

The voyage

To New Zealand

Other scientists on the Resolution were William Wales, astronomer, who became one of J. R. Forster's greatest critics, and his assistant, George Gilpin. Another astronomer, William Bayly, was on the Adventure. William Anderson, surgeon's mate on the Resolution, was a keen naturalist who served as chief surgeon and naturalist on Cook's third voyage. This voyage will not be dealt with here, for the time spent in New Zealand was brief, collections made were small and, it seems, no detailed illustrations were made of any plants.

The first leg of the voyage was to Cape Town, with stops at Madeira — for provisions, including "a large supply of wine" — and the Cape Verde Islands. The Resolution and Adventure remained at Cape Town for three weeks. The Forsters lived ashore and their "whole time was taken up in the pursuits of Natural history" (Cook's Journal). J. R. Forster soon realised that if the huge flora and fauna of the Cape region was any indication, he' and George would be hard put to cope with describing the plants and animals they would encounter on the rest of the voyage. Fortunately, Anders Sparrman (1748-1820), a young Swedish naturalist who had studied under Linnaeus at the University of Uppsala, had recently arrived in Cape Town. The Swedish Government had sent him there, at the request of Linnaeus, to undertake botanical exploration.

It was soon obvious to the Forsters that this friendly, quiet, somewhat naive man was an excellent botanist. Johann therefore offered him the position of scientific assistant, at a salary of £50 a year, plus expenses. Sparrman thought about it overnight and accepted the next morning. Forster then had, not without effort, to persuade James Cook to grant Sparrman a passage. He was uncomfortably accommodated in the steerage, with the Forsters' large collection of books. Anders Sparrman proved a valuable assistant, who remained in friendly contact with the Forsters throughout their lives. He was not, as has sometimes been stated, hired to make up for the Forsters' botanical deficiencies.

The ships left Cape Town on 22 November 1772 and headed south, spending four months in Antarctic waters. They made the first known voyage beyond the Antarctic Circle, searching for southern landmasses. It was a nightmarish journey at times, with damp, cold cabins and fogs, gales, pack-ice and icebergs to contend with. In early February the two ships were separated during a gale and did not meet again until an agreed rendezvous in Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand.

New Zealand

The Resolution anchored in Dusky Sound on 27 March 1773 and spent some six weeks there. Repairs were made to the ship and supplies were replenished. The Forsters, Sparrman, and Johann's servant, Ernest Scholient (a "feeble man", Cook states in his journal), spent their time collecting. The "division of labour" among the three biologists during the voyage was summarised in a dedication to George in J. R. Forster's book Enchiridion historiae naturali inserviens, quo termini et delineationes ad avium, piscium, page 38 insectorum et plantarum adumbrationes intelligendas et concinnandas, secundum methodum systematis Linnaeani continentur (Halle, 1788):

In sketching plants in particular we used as an assistant our good friend Sparrman: it was your [George's] task to put his work in order, and at the same time describe the plants. It was my particular province to examine more closely these efforts here and there, and to correct them in a very few places, to describe all the animals.

J. R. Forster also set himself the task

to investigate closely the habits, rites, ceremonies, religious beliefs, way of life, clothing, agriculture, commerce, arts, weapons, modes of warfare, political organisation, and the language of the peoples we met: and also I had to take note of the daily changes in the atmosphere, the winds, increase and decrease in temperature and whatever was worth noting.

J. R. Forster painted a vivid word picture of life at Dusky Bay:

I saw with one glance of the Eye an Observatory erected, & filled with the most accurate & excellent Instruments & Men observing & the celestial bodies & calculating their Motions & deducting the inferences for ascertaining the Latitude & Longitude of our abode. I saw a vast number of plants & Animals examined & scientifically described. The polite Arts had not disdained to live on this solitary spot, which was so much left to itself before our arrival. The canvas was gradually animated with the most romantic scenery of this Country, & nature seemed amazed to see her productions imitated by the Son of Apellos. In a lower sphere, more than 70 plants & Animals, were exactly represented by a young Artist in his Noviciate. Here on the brow the Anvil resounded with the strokes of the Hammer. The fresh water river was another animated Scene of business: a brewery provided a salutary & palatable potion from the decoction of spruce [rimu, Dacrydium cupressinum] & New Zealand Tea [manuka, Leptospermum scoparium] mixed with the Essence of Malt & Melasses for our Ships-Company. The cooper & his Man repaired casks, & several people were employed in washing, & dressing fish for our dinner. In the offing there is a boat full of men employed in catching fish, for our entertainment, some hawled fishpots with several crayfish in: here two Sawyers were employed in cutting planks, others split & carried firewood, yet others caulked & paged the Ship & several hands were busy in new setting and overhawling the rigging. In short the whole seemed a most complete scene of business. The brow on the larboard side of the Ship, which a few days ago was an impenetrable forest, is now clear and airy, & contains an Observatory, a forge, a green hut for the woodcutters & a pen for our Sheep; & more than an acre of ground is cleared of the woods; a thing which 500 natives of New Zeeland could not have brought about with their stone-hatchets in more than 3 months; whereas only a few of our hands had been employed, & this not even constantly.

Bird life in Dusky Sound was abundant, and many different species were shot, described and painted. The Forsters' contribution to New Zealand ornithology was considerable. As A. C. and N. C. Begg have pointed out (in Dusky Bay, 1975), studies of New Zealand birds on the first voyage were trivial by comparison. Thirty-eight new species from Dusky and Queen Charlotte Sounds were described by the two Forsters, and George illustrated thirty-five of them. Some of his paintings of New Zealand birds and fish are reproduced in colour in the Beggs' books (1970, 1975).

page 39

It was too late in the season to obtain many plants in flower. J. R. Forster found himself (28 March 1773)

quite tantalized with the sight of innumerable plants & Trees, all new ones, none of which had flowers at this Season & the fruits either were quite unripe or allready gone: so that my collection fell short of my Expectation. Tired with disappointment, the continual rain & the bad walking between wet trees, that rained a double portion upon me from their soaked foliage, & between rotten felled trees & heaps of moss, where I frequently fell in with my legs up to my knees & above, I returned on board.

There were, though, some plants in flower in Dusky Bay at the time, including the autumn-flowering orchid, Earina autumnalis; the manuka, Leptospermum scoparium', Olearia oporina, an attractive shrub restricted to the Fiordland region; and the pate, Schefflera digitata, all of which were described and illustrated. The Forsters met the sandfly for the first time, and having developed no immunity, suffered far more than New Zealanders today! Johann recorded, "my hands are now so much swelled from the Stings of the Sandfly, that I can hardly hold the pen, & have great pain in them, & can pull my Jacket with difficulty off".

One day (23 April) Anders Sparrman and some of the officers climbed a peak behind Cascade Cove and Sparrman returned with a subalpine herb in flower, which he named Forstera (sedifolia) after "my fellow botanist", George Forster. The Forsters were the first to describe the broad-leaved cabbage tree, Cordyline indivisa. Johann Forster recorded finding flowers (as well as fruit) on 7 May in Dusky Sound, which seems strange, as the normal flowering time is from December to January. The Forsters were also the first to publish a description of the climbing supplejack or karoeao, which, like many New Zealand plants, had been described earlier in Solander and Banks's unpublished manuscript. The Forsters named the plant Ripogonum scandens, Ripogonum meaning pliant shoots with kneed joints, and scandens meaning climbing. The description in J. R. Forster's Journal is: "A kind of climbing plant called the supple Jack by our Sailors, on account of its pliancy, bears red berries, something similar to cherries, & runs up the highest trees, climbs over to another, & after having made its way over many of them, it often comes again down & strikes fresh roots."

On 11 May 1773 the Resolution left Dusky Bay, headed north, and on 18 May entered Queen Charlotte Sound, where the Adventure had been waiting for six weeks. Furneaux had hoped to spend the winter there but Cook directed him to prepare for a winter cruise in the central Pacific. The Resolution remained in the Marlborough Sounds for three weeks. During this time the Forsters and Sparrman found new species of birds to describe, a new bat (the New Zealand long-tailed bat, Chalinolobus tuberculatus) and a number of plants, including a snowberry shrub, Gaultheria antipoda; wild Spaniard or speargrass, Aciphylla squarrosa; an eyebright, Euphrasia cu neata; Cook's scurvy grass, Lepidium oleraceum; and the pennywort, Hydro cotyle moschata. Sydney Parkinson had sketched these six plants on the first voyage, but the Forsters published the first descriptions.

page 40

Winter voyage

From June until October 1773, the two ships sailed through the central Pacific Ocean, from Pitcairn Island in the east to Tahiti, Tonga and back to New Zealand. Soon after the coast was sighted, a storm separated the ships for two days. They were reunited off Cape Palliser, near Wellington. Then another storm drove the Adventure far out to sea. The Resolution anchored near the entrance to Wellington Harbour but did not enter it, and the next day reached Queen Charlotte Sound once more and arrived at Ship Cove on 3 November 1773.

New Zealand again

The naturalists now found a number of plants in flower for the first time, including flax (Phormium tenax) and wild Spaniard (Aciphylla squarrosa). They found too the rengarenga or rock lily, Arthropodium cirratum, now so popular in cultivation. Some orchids were also flowering, and one of them "of a very singular structure & making absolutely a new genus" was named Thelymitra longifolia, a name still valid. George Forster painted it, and it had been sketched by Parkinson (as Serapias regularis, a name George Forster used in his Florulae Insularum Australium Prodromus (1786), despite having used Thelymitra for it in Characteres Generum Plant arum (1776)). Again, three weeks were spent in the sounds, and after two weeks there Johann Forster noted, "I have not yet got 30 new plants; & but few animals, so that my Expectations were not quite answered in coming here in the beginning of Spring. The Season is not much advanced, whether owing to a cold winter, or whether this is the annual constant state of the Climate, I cannot determine."

Despite the three-week stay in Queen Charlotte Sound, the Adventure did not join the Resolution and it was feared it might have been destroyed in the storm. Cook left a note buried for Furneaux in case the Adventure did eventually reach the rendezvous, and on 25 November 1773 the Resolution set off for another summer in Antarctic waters. As fate would have it, the Adventure arrived in Ship Cove five days after the departure of the Resolution. Fumeaux and his crew remained in Queen Charlotte Sound until 23 December. During their stay, ten of the crew, on a trip in the cutter to "gather wild greens for the Ship's Company", met some Maoris, and apparently one of them stole something from the boat (while the crew were dining on the beach) and was shot at and killed. The Maoris attacked the sailors, most of whom had left their weapons on the boat. The sailors were all killed and roasted for food! Furneaux headed south in the Adventure and explored southern waters, reaching 6l°S off Cape Horn. Provisions became short and the ship headed for Cape Town (19 March 1774), where it remained for a month before sailing for England, arriving on 14 July 1774.

The Resolution's 1774 cruise

The summer of 1773-4 was spent in Antarctic regions, with the Resolution reaching further south (71° 10') than any person had been. Then, with Cook himself ill, the Resolution went north and reached Easter Island in March, after nearly five months at sea. J. R. Forster sacrificed his dog to page 41 provide meat and broth for James Cook. On Easter Island William Hodges, R. A. (1744-97), who had been appointed landscape and figure painter on the Resolution, painted his superb oil "Monuments of Easter Island". Murray-Oliver (1969) has described Hodges as "perhaps the most gifted and interesting of Cook's artists" and this painting, like several others by Hodges that are reproduced in Murray-Oliver's book, is, to my mind, quite modern in its style. It has been suggested that George Forster may have received informal tuition from Hodges and that this is reflected in an improvement in Forster's work during the voyage.

The Resolution then sailed to Tonga and the New Hebrides, which were charted in detail. On the way south again to New Zealand, Cook discovered both New Caledonia and Norfolk Island. This was an important cruise, but one in which Johann Forster was, at times, at loggerheads with the officers. On one occasion in the New Hebrides, when he was loudly chastising a native whom he considered had cheated him, Forster ignored Lt. Charles Clerke's command to stop, so Clerke threatened to order a sentry to shoot him.

Final New Zealand visit

Again, Cook headed for Ship Cove, Queen Charlotte Sound, and anchored on 19 October 1774. Repairs were made during a stay of just over three weeks. The Forsters and Sparrman collected some plants, but "New plants are not more to be gotten in any plenty ... & as it is the third time already, that we are here in this same harbour; nor can we expect many new plants, having searched for them very closely before." The Resolution left Queen Charlotte Sound on 11 November and headed east along the mid-50s in latitude to examine this unmapped region, reaching South America on 18 December. Christmas was spent on Tierra del Fuego. Cook then went into southern waters again and discovered South Georgia and the South Sandwich group. On 21 March 1775 they reached Cape Town, where Sparrman disembarked. Five weeks were spent there while the ship was refitted and recaulked, and the Resolution reached Spithead, England, on 30 July 1775. They had been away for just over three years and Cook had achieved his objectives — proving there was no southern continent (although he suggested there was probably land in Antarctica below the ice) and more or less completing the exploration of the South Pacific.

Botanical results of the voyage

Overall, according to J. R. Forster, 260 new plants and 200 new animals had been discovered; some 785 different plants had been collected and thousands of herbarium specimens had been made, as several duplicate sets were prepared; 119 different plants were collected in New Zealand. Thomas Cheeseman has stated: "their collections were by no means so large as might have been expected, considering what a productive locality Dusky Sound has proved to be in later years." It had not been a good time of year to find flowers and mature fruits and there would have been little advantage page 42 for the Forsters to collect sterile specimens, in those days particularly, because of the near impossibility of classifying them. Cheeseman, while noting that the only other locality the Forsters visited was Queen Charlotte Sound, already explored by Banks and Solander, commented that "a much longer period was spent in harbour and on shore than during the previous voyage, and the collections ought to have been quite as extensive. Instead of this, they were much smaller." However, as J. R. Forster noted in the preface to Characteres Generum Plant arum (1776):

It must be remembered that we landed in New Zealand in the late autumn of the year 1773 and stayed there throughout the winter and a second time in early spring at a very cold time when there were few species flowering. A third time in early spring we made a very short stay there.

No one could accuse them of laziness, and, as J. R. Forster's Journal records, they often had to work when in ill health. Johann noted that sometimes they worked all night before the specimens perished and that he kept awake by plunging himself to the waist in a barrel of sea water!

Botanical illustrations

George Forster's botanical illustrations do not, understandably, compare with those of Sydney Parkinson in quality or quantity. He was not a trained artist, though most certainly a "competent draughtsman", who was, as his father termed it, "in his Noviciate". George Forster put more time and effort into illustrating birds and fish than plants; after all, only about a quarter of the voyage was spent anchored near land. Although George was responsible for most of the biological illustrating, he did receive some help from his father, for the latter recorded in his Journal (24 April 1773): "I remained on board, in order to draw the young and delicate plants . . . before they might be spoiled." Dr P. Whitehead {Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Historical Series, 1978), when comparing several pencil drawings of fish and mammals, apparently by Johann Forster, with some by George, noted that "His father's drawings are careful, even hesitant, as befits a scientific man; by contrast, the best of George's are accurate but vigorous and assertive, as if presaging the scale on which his future literary talents would roam."

Within a year of his return to London, J. R. Forster was in debt again, mostly, it seems, because of lavish spending on books and periodicals. He therefore accepted in August 1776 an offer of £420 from Joseph Banks for George's botanical drawings. This was a generous sum, for the elegant residence that Forster rented for a time in St Pancras, London, was £60 a year, quite an extravagant amount then. The 301 drawings Banks acquired are now in the Department of Botany, British Museum (Natural History). Ninety-one New Zealand plants are included, and these are listed in an appendix by Phyllis Edwards to Forster's Journal (Hoare, 1982). (One of the New Zealand plants, the Forster's Wintera axillaris, now Pseudowintera axillaris, is incorrectly identified as Drimys winteri, a South American page 43 plant). Two hundred and three of the illustrations are in pencil, ten in pen and ink, forty-seven are finished watercolours, and forty-one are outline drawings with some watercolouring. One of George Forster's incomplete watercolours is reproduced in the Beggs' book, Dusky Bay (1975). A line drawing of Olearia oporina is also reproduced there, and comparison with a colour photograph of the plant on the opposite page demonstrates the accuracy of George's drawing. Reproductions of his watercolours of four fish and twelve birds from Dusky Sound are shown too. Many of these are superb. Other watercolours, drawings and engravings of New Zealand plants by George Forster are shown in the Beggs' James Cook and New Zealand (1970). Banks, to his annoyance, did not obtain all of George's botanical illustrations. George retained some, which he took to Germany; some were sold on his death. The Forsters' herbarium specimens were distributed to numerous botanical correspondents and institutions, and are now scattered in herbaria as far afield as Europe, Russia and USA. It is therefore difficult to locate many type specimens of the plants the Forsters described.

Botanical publications and G. Forster's Voyage round the world

It is a sad fact that, as with Cook's first voyage of discovery, manuscripts planned and worked on for years were not published. Before the voyage ended, however, the Forsters had a small book almost ready for publication. This work, Characteres Generum Plantarum, quas in Itinere ad lnsulas Maris Australis Collegerunt, Descriptserunt, Dilinearunt, Annis MDCCLXXII-MDCCLXXV, written in Latin, appeared in a folio edition of only six copies in 1775 and in a larger quarto edition in 1776 (published by White, Cadell and Elmsly, London). Some copies had hand-coloured plates. The book described seventy-five new genera and ninety-four new species from the voyage; thirty-one of the new genera were from New Zealand. It was written in haste and contains many errors and omissions (localities are not given for some species). Cheeseman (1906) commented, "The book is interesting on account of containing the first published descriptions of New Zealand plants, but otherwise is most disappointing. The descriptions are short and meagre, and the illustrations so badly executed as to be practically useless." Later in life, J. R. Forster recorded his regret in publishing so quickly, without taking time to consult Banks's collections.

For a time there were plans for Forster to write the narrative of the voyage, using his own and Cook's journals, under sponsorship of the Admiralty and sharing the profits with Cook. An agreement was signed whereby Cook would be responsible for writing the nautical and "ethnographical descriptions" of the voyage, and Forster would concentrate on the natural history, linguistics and "ethnographical observations". Misunderstandings arose and Forster refused to submit his narrative for correction, which he considered was treating him like a schoolboy. Cook's account of the voyage proceeded, and J. R. Forster was forbidden by the Admiralty to publish anything until the "official volumes" had appeared. Johann Forster overcame page 44 this difficulty by giving his journals to George, and the latter used them, along with his own notes, to produce A Voyage round the World, in his Britannic Majesty's Sloop, Resolution, commanded by Capt. James Cook, during the Years 1772, 3, 4 and 5. Professor J. C. Beaglehole (1961) commented:

It must be admitted that this is a remarkable performance for a young man of twenty-two. It is remarkable even though based largely on the record kept by his father; for J. R. Forster could not write like this. Nevertheless, only too clearly can we see that it was done with the father hanging over the desk.

George's A Voyage round the World appeared in two volumes in 1777, six weeks before James Cook's two-volume A Voyage towards the South Vole, and Round the World. Performed in his Majesty's Ships the Resolution and Adventure, In the Years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1773. Written by James Cook, Commander of the Resolution. In which is included, Captain Furneaux's Narrative of his Proceedings during the Separation of the Ships. Both accounts sold for two guineas, but Cook's contained over sixty engravings and sold rapidly, whereas Forster's book sold poorly and did not cover publication costs. Cook, who had set off in July 1776 on his ill-fated third voyage, did not live to see his book in print.

A second work dealing with the botany of the voyage appeared ten years after Characteres Generum Plant arum. Written by George Forster and published in 1786 in Gottingen, Florulae Insularum Australium Prodromus is a catalogue containing brief diagnoses of 594 species, of which 141 were New Zealand plants. Twenty-three names were added without descriptions. The book is not illustrated, and Cheeseman's (1906) suggestion that "the descriptions are short and unsatisfactory, and usually quite insufficient for the proper identification of the species" has been echoed by other New Zealand botanists. Prodromus makes use of some information in Solander's unpublished manuscript, but it is still not clear what access the Forsters were permitted to Banks and Solander material, both before and after the voyage.

A third short work appeared in the same year as Prodromus. This was the published thesis that George Forster presented for the degree of Doctor of Medicine at Halle, Germany — De Plantis Esculentis Insularum Oceani Australis. Comment atio Botanic a (Halle and Berlin). It included, as Cheeseman put it, "full descriptions and much curious information respecting the esculent [food] plants, fifty-four in number, observed during the voyage, fourteen of which were from New Zealand." George gave the manuscript to his father to check on its way to press in Halle, and to his anger, when the book appeared, he found that Johann had included, inter alia, a personal attack on a man who had given some of their plants to Linnaeus's son. Linnaeus the Younger (1741-83) had then published descriptions of the plants, thereby "stealing a march" on the Forsters. An example of this, from the New Zealand flora, indicated by the suffix "Linn.f." (f. = filius (Latin) = son) after the scientific name of the plant, is the kamahi, Wein mannia racemosa.

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George had a further 300 copies of De Plantis Esculentis printed in Berlin, omitting his father's remarks. These publications are the only ones dealing with New Zealand plants collected on the second voyage. The Forsters' reputations as botanists would surely have been enhanced had George published the major work planned on the botany of the second voyage — Icones Plantarum in Itinere ad Insulis Maris Australis Collectarum. Even the plates had been prepared and some pulls taken from these 131 engravings. Two sets remain, one now in Leningrad and the other in the British Museum. One of George's sisters, Virginia, was the best artist in the Forster family. She copied and reworked some of his original sketches, although his name appeared on them.

One must also regret that an equivalent work by Johann Forster on the zoology of the voyage was not published in his lifetime. This Descriptions Animalium, which has been described as a "hidden treasure", did appear posthumously, edited by M. H. K. Lichtenstein in 1844. J. R. Forster's published monographs on penguins (1780) and albatrosses (1785) from the second voyage have been universally admired.

After the voyage

By 1778 J. R. Forster was considerably in debt and there was a very real danger that he might be imprisoned. George, now twenty-three, boarded a ship for Holland and Germany, without his father's blessing, in the hope that he could find a suitable job for his father and himself. He received a warm welcome in both Holland and Germany and accepted, after first trying to obtain the position for his father, the professorship of natural history at the Collegium Carolinium in Cassel. He continued to seek employment for his father and spent five weeks in Berlin trying to arrange his father's release from debts in England and a position for him in Germany. Finally, through the interest of Karl von Zedlitz, Frederick the Great's Minister for Education and Culture, the post of professor of natural history and mineralogy was obtained for Johann at the University of Halle, his alma mater. The university had been rather in the doldrums, and Forster's appointment was one of several made to lift academic standards. Johann Forster was a member of the masonic lodge, and a scheme was instituted to raise money from the masonic lodges in Germany — about £1,000 was needed — to secure Forster's release from London. This was achieved with the help of Frederick the Great's brother-in-law, Duke Ferdinand, Grand Master of the masonic orders. After his pride and stubbornness were overcome, J. R. Forster, now fifty, took his family by ship to Hamburg in July 1780.

Johann Forster spent the rest of his days in Halle. With such a man, life inevitably had its ups and downs and at times Forster tried to obtain employment elsewhere. He mellowed a little and eventually "was far from forgotten, certainly not neglected and was more popular and respected in Halle than on the eve of his arrival" (Hoare, 1975). Both Forsters translated page 46 many books on travel and natural history in the last decades of the eighteenth century. Some of these contained footnotes by the Forsters that recorded observations they had made on the second voyage. J. R. Forster also co-edited some children's books on natural history, and George translated an account of Cook's third voyage into German. Johann Reinhold Forster died in Halle, 9 December 1798.

George Forster had left Cassel in 1783 and moved to Wilna in Lithuania, where he was employed by the Polish Government as professor of natural history at the university. In 1789 he married Therese Heyne, daughter of a classical scholar in Gottingen. George's father-in-law became a father figure to him. In 1788 George Forster and family moved to Mainz, when he obtained the post of librarian at the university. The Forsters had four children, one a son who died in infancy. George Forster's last years were unhappy ones. In 1792 Mainz was captured by the French. George, with his liberal views, joined the provisional government, to his father's dismay. His wife, who had been having an affair with Ludwig Huber, secretary to the Saxon embassy in Mainz, left with the children to join Huber, then in Frankfurt. George Forster became a citizen of the French Republic and moved to Paris, with a price on his head. He became disgusted with the excesses of the Revolution and died, poverty striken, in Paris in January 1794 and was buried in an unmarked grave. He was outlived by his father by four years.