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Title: The Voyage of the Endeavour
Author: G Arnold Wood
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The Voyage of the Endeavour is undoubtedly one of the most delightfully readable and authentic accounts ever written of Captain James Cook's first memorable voyage of exploration. Its republication at this time commemorates not only the 200th anniversary of the discovery by Cook of the east coast of Australia, but also the work of an historian who was a pioneer among Australian historical writers.
G. Arnold Wood came to this country as a young man of 25 after distinguishing himself at Balliol College, Oxford, to become the first Challis Professor of History in the University of Sydney. There, singlehanded, he founded a great history school, (it was not until he reached the age of 50 that he was given an assistant). Very early in his long tenure of his chair at the University he developed a keen interest in the exploration and early settlement of his adopted country. He became a leading member of the Royal Australian Historical Society and wrote two books which broke new ground in the study of Australian history, The Discovery of Australia and this present small volume The Voyage of the Endeavour.
Professor Wood brought a freshness to the study of Australian history that was at that time rare and wrote in a manner that was pleasant for a layman to read and at the same time useful to the student. He stimulated in New South Wales an interest in our history which has grown into a broad swelling movement from which flows a constant stream of books on Australian historical subjects.
He strove after and achieved authenticity. This present text is thus exactly as Professor Wood wrote it. Some of his comparisons may now be somewhat outdated but they were valid in their time and still prove clearly the points that he was making. He was able to use the then newly discovered manuscript journal of Captain James Cook and he drew faithfully from the original. The result is a book that can be recommended to the young as well as to older readers. In my opinion there is no more accurate or vivid account of Cook's first voyage.
The Voyage of the Endeavour has stood the test of time; the first edition appeared in 1926 to be followed by reprints in 1929, 1933 and 1944. The Royal Australian Historical Society is proud to be associated with the issue of this new edition and thanks the Captain Cook Bicentenary Committee of New South Wales for its financial help in publication.
Allan E. Bax
Royal Australian Historical Society
Model of The Endeavour
Map of Australia and the Western Pacific, showing tracks of explorers
Mr. Joseph Banks
Sketch from Dalrymple's Map
Landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay (From the painting by E. Phillips Fox.)
Facsimile of passage in Cook's Journal
The Endeavour in Endeavour River (From Hawkesworth's Cook's Voyages)
Captain Bayldon's drawing of the Endeavour
One reason why the voyage of the Endeavour is so interesting to us is that Captain Cook, her commander, was the first European who sailed all round New Zealand, and the first European who sailed along the East coast of Australia. It would be wrong to say that Captain Cook discovered New Zealand and Australia, for parts of New Zealand and of Australia had been discovered more than a century before the Endeavour sailed. But his discoveries first made people understand the coastline of the whole of New Zealand, and of the whole of Australia; and they also made Britishers for the first time begin to think that it might be a good plan, sooner or later, to make British colonies in those lands.
Perhaps the best plan is first to tell the story of earlier voyages, so that we may understand what men knew about lands in the South Sea when the Endeavour sailed in 1768; and, when they knew nothing, what they guessed, and expected to find.
It was not till the 15th Century that European seamen sailed south of the Equator. They had quite enough to do in Europe. Their ships, good enough for inland Seas like the Mediterranean, were not good enough to sail forth into unknown Oceans which stretched no man knew whither. And, moreover, even if their ships had been good enough, seamen would not have dared to leave the coast. For they had no compass to tell them which was North, South, East and West; and they had none of the instruments which now enable seamen, by observing sun, moon and stars, to know where in the world they are, and what they must do in order to get home again.
And, further, what reason could you give a sensible man for sailing South? The further South you sailed, he would tell you, the hotter you grew. You sailed into a "roasted sea"; and, if you went on, you would in the end, no doubt, yourself be roasted. And if you had luck, and got through only half-roasted into cooler weather, what would you find there? Greek geographers long ago had said, it is true, that the world was a globe, and that probably there were big, rich and populous lands in the South as well as in the North. But, how absurd was this opinion! A man standing on the down side of a globe will fall off!
"See!" said one writer, "I'll draw you a globe with four men standing on it. Look at it! Turn it round whichever way you like! Come now! tell me, can all these men rightly be said to be standing upright? Is it not as certain as anything can be that all but one of them will fall off?"
In later days a few scholars came to understand that it would be possible for both Englishmen and Australians—if there were Australians—to stand upright at the same time. But what reason was there to believe that there were Australians, and that, if there were, Australians were people worth knowing? What reason, in short, could you give good enough to persuade a sensible man that it was worth his while to run the risk of being roasted in order to find out what perchance might be the state of the world down South?
But in the 15th Century, for the first time, it became possible to give two reasons good enough to make sensible men change their minds. The first reason was that changes had taken place in Asia which made it very desirable to get to Asia by sea; and the best way to get to Asia by sea seemed to be by sailing Southward round Africa. There were certain good things which came from Asia, and only from Asia, which every lady and every gentleman must have. Ladies and gentlemen cannot live as ladies and gentlemen ought to live, unless they have muslins and silks and jewels and spices; and muslins and silks and jewels and spices came from Asia, and from nowhere else. Hitherto they had come by caravans to ports in the Mediterranean, and had been taken by ships of Venice and Genoa to all the countries of Europe. But now savage Turks had captured those ports, and had cut the throat of the trade with Asia. What misery! What dismay! Is life worth living without muslins, without silks, without jewels, without spices? No! If they can no longer come from Asia to us, we must go to Asia for them. And, as we cannot go by land, we must go by sea—round Africa. And, if our ships and nautical instruments are not good enough for such a voyage, we must make them good enough.
So—and this is the second reason that made sensible men change their minds—ships and nautical instruments had been made that were good enough. Even before this time great improvements had been made. The compass and other instruments had been invented by which seamen were able to find out where they were, and where other places were. And ships had been built that had some chance of sailing right into the unknown, and of coming home again. And now the idea came into the mind of a Prince of Portugal, Henry "the Navigator," to make further improvements so great that his seamen might be able to push through "the roasted sea"—which after all might prove to be no worse than half-roasted—till they came to Africa's tip, if Africa had a tip, to round it, and to sail up Africa's other side till they came to Asia.
Prince Henry was called "the Navigator," not because he navigated, but because he made it possible for people to navigate.
"Stick close to your desk (says the song) And never go to sea, And you all may be the rulers Of the Queen's Navee!"
Prince Henry stuck close to his desk, and never went to sea; but at his desk he studied navigation; and, helped by the most famous scholars in Europe, he made the best ocean-going ships, and the best naval instruments that had ever yet been made. And voyage after voyage, Portuguese seamen, in Prince Henry's ships, groped their slow long way down the African coast.
It was a very slow way; and when Prince Henry died, after 42 years' hard work, his captains had sailed only as far as a ship now steams in four days! But, though progress was slow it was sure. The seamen sailed through "the roasted sea"; and, hardly worse roasted than before, they came in time to cooler weather. Yet it was a very long way—far longer than they had hoped. Africa lengthened itself out before you, till you feared it had no tip. But at last, in 1486, they came to the tip, rounded it and called it "the Cape of Good Hope." On Christmas Day, 1497, a Portuguese captain, named Vasco da Gama, sailed round the Cape, and came to a land which he named "Natal"—the land of Christ's birthday. He sailed along the East coast of Africa, struck across to India, landed, and asked for spices!
The Portuguese made trade-settlements in East Africa, in Arabia, in Persia and in India; and in a few years they were overlords of the whole Indian Ocean, ruling a sea-empire whose frontier was "a jagged semi-circle of over 15,000 miles." But what especially interests us is their voyages towards Australia. What they wanted more than anything else was spices, especially cloves, which grew only in a group of tiny islands—Ternate, Tidore, Amboyna, Banda—called the Moluccas or Spice Islands. Now the way from India to the Spice Islands was through the Straits of Malacca, the Ocean Junction of all trade-routes between East and West. In 1511 the Portuguese captured Malacca; and three ships sailed through the Straits and then along the North coasts of the islands that stretch like stepping-stones from Sumatra to New Guinea and Australia—"so near the one to the other," said the seamen, "that they seem at first to be one entire and main land." If they had turned South, and had sailed through one of the narrow and dangerous passages between these islands, they would very soon have come to Australia. But they were looking, not for Australia, but for the Spice Islands. So they turned, not South, but North, and they found—actually found—the Spice Islands, the world's desire! And a Portuguese captain, Francisco Serrano, settled in them, did a huge trade in spices, and thought himself the luckiest man in the world.
Now Serrano had a dear friend, named Ferdinand Magellan, who had fought by his side in battles in the East and had now got back to Portugal; and Serrano wished that the friend, who had shared his dangers, should also share his luck. So he wrote to Magellan to tell him the good news. He had found, he said, "yet another new world, larger and richer than that found by Gama!" Magellan, soldier-seaman, strong and true as steel, was eager to go. But he had been listening to voyagers' tales, and had been studying strange new maps, and his plan was to go to the Spice Islands by a new route. And, to understand this new route, we must see the wonderful discoveries that had by this time been made by other seamen.
While the Portuguese were groping their slow long way down the coast of Africa, Christopher Columbus was wondering whether he could not make a short cut to Asia by sailing West. Clearly if you sailed West from Europe, you were bound, if only you could sail far enough to sail into Asia. The question was, how far you would have to sail. Columbus believed—nay, he was quite sure!—that Japan was only 2500 miles away. That is to say, he thought that the Eastern coast of Asia was no further from Europe than the Eastern coast of America actually is. He hoped, therefore, to reach Asia by a way as much shorter than the Portuguese way as to-day a voyage to America is shorter than a voyage round the Cape to India. Look at a map and see how much shorter it is.
After a vast deal of trouble, Columbus persuaded Ferdinand and Isabella, King and Queen of Spain, to give him command of a ship. And in 1492, six years before Gama reached India, he sailed Westward, and hoped to get there first. He sailed 2500 miles; and, as he had expected, he found an island which he believed was Japan: we call it Hayti. And he found a long coast which he believed was the coast of China: we call it the coast of Cuba. And in another voyage more Southward, he came to the mouth of a huge river, which he believed must drain a huge continent to the South of Asia: we call the river the Orinoco, and we call the huge continent South America. And, in his last voyage, he believed that he had nearly discovered the Straits of Malacca in what we call the Isthmus of Panama. He understood the natives to say that the Straits were close by, and that, after passing through them, in ten days' sail he would reach the mouth of the Ganges.
Columbus always believed that he had reached Asia. But later voyagers gradually came to understand that the coasts they were sailing along were the coasts, not of the Old World, but of a New World that stretched far North and far South as a barrier between Europe and Asia. That was bad. But, after all, could you not find a passage through this barrier? If so, you might still make a short cut, and reach Asia in a few days. So now began the search for a passage. Some, like Columbus, believed there was a passage through the Isthmus of Panama. But the search for it was in vain. In 1513, Balboa—"the man who knew not what it was to be deterred"—climbed a peak in Darien, and saw a sea on the other side—"the Sea of the South"! But no one could say how big was the sea, nor how far away was Asia. Others looked for a passage further North—through Virginia, up the Hudson River, up the St. Lawrence, or through some North-West passage; but they also looked in vain. Others sailed Southward, and hoped to find a passage through the "new world" that was taking the shape of South America. And among those who felt that a passage would be found here was Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese captain, to whom Serrano had sent news of the "other new world" he had found in the Spice Islands. Magellan determined to go to the Spice Islands by a passage he would find—he was sure of it—by sailing further South than any seaman had yet sailed. Once through that passage, he might still perhaps get to Asia by a short cut.
As the King of Portugal did not approve his plan, Magellan went to the King and Queen of Spain, and persuaded them to give him the command of five ships. "They are very old and patched," said a Portuguese who saw them, and he hoped they would never be heard of again. And in 1520, sailing in these rotten ships, Magellan found the Strait that bears his name, passed through it, and—instead of making a short cut—plunged into "a sea so vast that the human mind can scarcely grasp it." After a very long and very terrible voyage, in which the seamen ate sawdust and leather, and bought rats as "a delicacy," he came at last to the Philippine Islands. He had sailed a course so northerly that he came nowhere near Australia.
In the Philippine Islands, Magellan fought the heathen to make them Christians, and was killed. But the Spaniards sailed on in one of his ships, named the Victoria, and reached the Spice Islands. They "bought cloves like mad," and then sailed for home. As they feared to meet the Portuguese—for the Portuguese allowed none but Portuguese to trade in the islands—they did not go by the Portuguese way, but struck Southward by a passage between the islands. They called at the island of Timor, and their course cannot have been very far from the North-West coast of Australia, though it is unlikely that they saw it. And so the Victoria rounded the Cape, and sailed home to Spain, the first ship to put a girdle round the earth—in three and a half years!
So both Portuguese and Spaniards had sailed fairly near Australia, but they had not seen Australia; and I do not think that, in the 16th Century, they ever saw Australia. The Portuguese sailed to their settlement in the Spice Islands by way of the East coast of Africa, India, and the Straits of Malacca; a way that would not take them in sight of Australia. They came to know the North coast of Sumatra, of Java and of the string of islands east of Java. And they came to New Guinea, and called it a "large island," which seems to show that they knew something about the South coast, as well as about the North. But I feel pretty sure they never reached Australia; though they may possibly have heard islanders talk of a very unpleasant land in the South to which you were sometimes driven by storms, and whence you got away as fast as you could, for it was a land in which no sensible person would live who had a chance to live anywhere else.
And the Spaniards were equally unlikely to see Australia. After a time they made a settlement in the Philippine Islands; but they sailed thither from Mexico—for the way through the Straits of Magellan was given up as too long, too dangerous, too terrible. And their voyages between the Philippines and Mexico did not take them within sight of Australia; though, like the Portuguese, they got some little knowledge of New Guinea, and wondered whether it was an island. Of what lay further South no one knew anything, and therefore everyone could guess what he liked.
What was down South? Was it an empty ocean? Or was it an ocean crowded with islands? Or was it, in the main, a continent? Various guesses were made. But the more geographers thought about the matter, the more they came to the opinion that the last of these guesses was the right one. The Unknown South must in the main be a continent. There were continents in the North; why not in the South? Nay, as there were continents in the North, there must be continents in the South. The world, argued the geographers, is a rolling ball, and a ball can only roll as a ball should roll if it is round, and its sides are of the same weight. Now in the known world there is far too much weight in the North; all Europe, nearly all Asia, and the most solid parts of Africa and America. To balance this weight in the North, there must be weight in the South. For if there were nothing in the South to balance the weight in the North, the world would not roll about in the orderly way in which she does roll about. If her shape had been more like that of a pear than that of an apple, with more weight at one end than at the other, she would not roll, but would wobble or bounce, and we should have a pretty world-sick sort of time.
Men of science to-day do not think that this was a good argument. The South, they say, could be heavy enough even if it had no continent; for continents are not so heavy as the masses of metal which press down the ocean beds. But 16th Century geographers were quite sure that their argument was good, and indeed unanswerable. And they were all the more sure of this because they thought that an early traveller named Marco Polo had said that he had actually got news of a rich continent South of Java, where there was "gold in incredible quantity." (This was a mistake, for Marco had really been talking about Siam, and the gentleman to whom he was talking had misunderstood him.) So geographers drew on their maps a Southern Continent which pretty well filled up the Unknown South, and they said that this was the land of which Marco Polo had heard.
But, as no one had ever seen this continent, each map-maker could draw it in the shape he liked best. A Portuguese map-maker asked you to believe that one of the islands to the East of Java—remember that the Portuguese knew only the North coasts of these islands—was the tip of a huge continent which stretched far South below Java, and he called it "Java the Great." He drew the continent in a way that made it cover the ground that is covered by Australia, and a great deal more ground too. Some writers think that this map-maker knew a good deal about Australia. But I do not think so. It seems to me that the map-maker, feeling pretty sure that there must be a huge continent in the South, thought it was just as likely to be to the South of Java as anywhere else. So he put a continent in the map just below Java, and called it "Java the Great," in order to warn people that if a continent ever was found there, it would, of course, like Java, belong to Portugal.
This Portuguese map has been lost. But French geographers had somehow got hold of it, and they used it in making their own maps. These maps, however, seem to have been little known, and no one seems to have had much belief in them. Seamen never sailed to look for "Java the Great." But other geographers drew a quite different map of the Southern Continent, which was generally accepted as true, and which led to voyages of discovery of great interest to us.
These geographers were much excited by the story of Magellan's famous voyage through the Straits. As he sailed through them, he had seen to the South a land with many fires burning, and had called it "Tierra del Fuego," Land of Fires. Well then, what is Tierra del Fuego? Clearly, said these geographers, it must be a promontory of the unknown Southern Continent! Magellan, it is true, had seen only a few hundred miles of coast; but no doubt that coast went stretching across the ocean, slightly to the West of the course of Magellan's ships. And where did it appear next? In New Guinea, of course, or thereabouts; for one cannot be sure whether New Guinea is an island, or is, like Tierra del Fuego, a part of the continent. So these geographers drew a coastline all the way from Tierra del Fuego to New Guinea, and wrote behind it—"This is the Southern Continent, called by some the Magellanican region from its discoverer"—though, in truth, all that Magellan had discovered of it was the northern coast of Tierra del Fuego! Then they drew the coastline of the unknown continent Westward from New Guinea, making a big bay in it, because they had to find room for an island which they thought—quite wrongly—had been visited in that part of the world by the early traveller, Marco Polo. Then they made a great promontory grow up that nearly reached Java, and wrote on it that these were the regions of which Marco Polo had told. Then the coastline of their continent fell steeply to the South-West—slightly Eastward of the homeward course of the Victoria—and, after rounding the Cape of Good Hope, ran across the South Atlantic, and joined the Eastern coast or Tierra del Fuego!
The people most interested in maps of this shape were the Spaniards, and especially the Spaniards of Peru. Why, you have only to sail Westward from Peru for a few days, and you are bound to run into a continent bigger than either Asia or America! And what a continent it will be! Straight opposite Peru, is it not certain to be as rich as Peru, and richer! Is it not indeed likely that the Incas came from it to Peru, and left behind them even greater riches than they brought with them? Will it not prove a land full of gold and silver and jewels and spices—of everything that the heart of man can desire and that the stomach of man can enjoy? Will you not find in it millions and millions of natives whom you can—if you like—make Christians, and whom you can—if you like—make slaves? Here is your chance to do what Columbus did, nay to do something far more splendid!
In 1567 two Spanish ships sailed from Peru, under a Spanish nobleman named Mendaña, to look for the golden continent. They sailed West, on a course which would have taken them—had they gone far enough—to Cooktown, two hundred years before Cook! But, as they saw no land, they changed their course to North-West, and discovered, not Australia, but the Solomon Islands. They thought at first that they had discovered a continent "an extent of land that seemed to have no limit"; and, at all events, a continent must be very near. They looked hard for gold; and, though they found no gold to put in pocket, they felt quite sure that soil and stones were full of it. They sailed home with gold, not in pocket, but in brain. And, over their wine in taverns, they talked gold so loudly and so everlastingly that people came to think they must have discovered "those isles whence Solomon fetched gold to adorn the Temple at Jerusalem"; and the islands became known as the "Solomon Islands."
Mendaña was eager to sail again, to take possession and to found a colony. But there were long delays. And when at last in 1595 he sailed in search of the golden islands he had discovered twenty-eight years before, he failed to find them; and two hundred years passed before they were found again. They were lost; and map-makers began to wonder whether they had ever been found. Now this losing of the Solomons was a strange chance. For had the Spaniards settled in them after Mendaña's discovery, it is likely that, sailing thence, they would have discovered Australia two hundred years before the Endeavour sailed.
But there was still a chance that Spaniards would discover Australia. The man who sailed as Chief Pilot with Mendaña in the voyage of 1595, was a Portuguese seaman, named Pedro Fernandez de Quiros. Portugal at that time was ruled by the King of Spain, and Portuguese seamen sailed in Spanish ships, though Spanish seamen were very much inclined to dislike them. The business of a Pilot on a Spanish ship was to know all that was known about navigation; and there were few Pilots who knew so much as Quiros. And there was no one who felt such hot desire to find the Continent of the South. For he was a missionary in spirit. His wish was, not to get gold, but to get souls; to wrest millions of souls from the Devil, and to lead them to Christ.
He persuaded the King of Spain to help this noble plan; and in 1605 he sailed from Peru, in command of three ships, on a course that would, had he sailed far enough, have brought him to New Zealand or Australia. He had hoped to sail in the summer, and to have had good weather for a voyage in the South. But there had been delays; and the seamen, feeling little interest in the venture, refused to sail South in the winter. So Quiros, like Mendaña in 1567, unwillingly changed his course to North-West; and he sailed on till he came, not to Australia, but to the islands which Cook explored 170 years later, and called the "New Hebrides."
But Quiros was sure that he had found the Continent, and that it stretched as far as the South Pole. He called it "Austrialia of the Holy Spirit." I think he would have called it "Australia," had it not seemed a good plan to put an i into the middle of the word in order to please the King of Spain, whose ancestors ruled Austria. Then he sailed Southward "to make out for certain whether it was mainland." But the ships were driven back by a hurricane. It was mid-winter now. The seamen were weary of the voyage, and were thankful to a hurricane that blew them North, and gave them a chance to force the captain to sail for home. Quiros was very ill—he had indeed been very ill all through the voyage. The seamen disliked him as a Portuguese, and a man of dreams. He was forced once more to let them have their way, and sorrowfully he sailed for Peru, dreaming—always dreaming—of the foundation in time to come of a Christian colony—a "New Jerusalem"—in the Southern Land of the Holy Spirit.
Quiros never had a chance to make his dreams come true. But news came that the commander of one of his ships, Louis Vaez de Torres, had made a wonderfully interesting voyage. Torres was a matter-of-fact man of strong character, determined to stick to plans, and to have his own way. "My temper," he wrote, "was different from that of Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros!" Neither hurricanes nor seamen should stop him! He sheltered in a harbour from the hurricane which blew Quiros Northward and then, with the other two ships, sailed South-West on a course which, had he sailed far enough, would have taken him to Brisbane 218 years before Brisbane was founded. It was a brave deed. "We had at this time nothing but bread and water; it was the height of winter, with sea, wind, and ill-will against us. All this did not prevent me from sailing South to 21°, for the ship was good. It was proper to act in this way, for these are not voyages performed every day, nor could Your Majesty otherwise be properly informed."
But, seeing "no sign of land," even Torres had to give up the search for the continent, and go on the course which Quiros had planned—which was now to make for the East end of New Guinea, and to sail along its fairly well-known Northern coast to the Philippine Islands. He came to the East end of New Guinea—and met winds that made it impossible to get round! What was he to do? The only plan seemed to be to sail West along the South coast of New Guinea—to sail, that is, through the most dangerous sea in the world, bristling with islands, sandbanks, coral reefs, both above water and below water, and with no certainty that there was any way out of it at all—for the map-makers could not agree whether New Guinea was an island or part of an unknown continent!
Yet Torres, the hero, sailed West, and he got through! Between the 10th of August, and the 18th of October, 1606, probably between the 12th and the 15th September, he—first of Europeans—sailed through the strait that is now called by his name. On his North was New Guinea. On his South was Australia:—but how was Torres to know that? All he saw was "some very large islands." One of them, perhaps, was Cape York. But Torres had never heard of Cape York, and little dreamed that the "island" was the tip of a great continent. Away sailed the matter-of-fact man, glad, and with good reason, to have escaped alive from the lurking dangers of the worst of all possible seas.
He came to the Philippine Islands, and wrote a very short letter to the King of Spain, which tells all that we shall ever know of this wonderful voyage. The King read the letter, and put it away in a pigeon-hole; and it was not printed till 200 years later! A Spanish writer, named Arias, got the news, and wrote a little book—it was printed in 1640—in which he said that Torres had sailed South of New Guinea. But the little book was forgotten; and it was not till a few years before the sailing of the Endeavour, that it was read again—by an Englishman, Alexander Dalrymple. He told what he had read to Mr. Joseph Banks, who sailed on the Endeavour; and it was, perhaps, partly on this account that the captain who sailed through Torres Strait the second time, was Captain James Cook.
If Torres saw Australia—we cannot be sure that he did—he was not the first European who saw Australia. About March 1606—six months before Torres sailed through the strait—a Dutch ship, the Duyfken, coming from the West, sailed along the Southern coast of New Guinea, crossed the strait—wondering whether it was a strait—and then sailed a good way down what we call Cape York Peninsula. So Dutchmen were the first Europeans who certainly saw Australia; and, during the next thirty-eight years, Dutchmen discovered all that was known of Australia and of New Zealand when Captain Cook sailed in the Endeavour.
The Dutch came to the East because they were at war with Spain. We remember how, while Elizabeth ruled England, the tyranny of Philip II. and the cruelty of Alva made the Dutch rise in rebellion, fight their War of Independence, and found the Dutch Republic. Now the Dutch fought this war, as much as they possibly could, on sea; for, while the Spaniards were at that time the best soldiers in the world, the Dutch and the English were the best seamen in the world. Thousands of the Dutch were fishermen, more at home on sea than on land, and always ready for a big voyage. And their merchants, the best men of business in Europe, were always ready to send their splendid ships to trade with every country in the world—no country was too far away. Now merchant ships in those days easily became Dreadnoughts; and the Dutchmen soon had a fleet of two thousand war-ships manned by seamen "accustomed," as they boasted, "from our cradle to the ocean," who find it "difficult not to conquer soldiers and landsmen, qualmish at the smell of bilge-water, and sickening at the roll of the waves!" They smashed Spanish Armadas off the Dutch coast; they smashed them in the Mediterranean; and they went on smashing them till they smashed them at the end of the earth, and grabbed the spice-trade, which hitherto none but Spaniards and Portuguese might touch. For just as easily as a merchant ship became a Dreadnought, a Dreadnought became a merchant ship, and came home after victory, brimming over with cloves and nutmegs.
For nowhere did the Dutch as much wish to trade as in the Far East where the spices grew. In a few years they overthrew the Portuguese—who at this time were, as we have seen, subjects of the King of Spain—took their place as over-lords of the Indian Ocean, and made a Sea-Empire which spread "from Madagascar to Japan, from New Guinea to the Red Sea." They occupied St. Helena and the Cape as ocean taverns on the long sea-road between East and West. They occupied Mauritius, as a place whence they might explore the far South. They traded in the Red Sea, and in the Persian Gulf. They conquered Ceylon, and made trade-settlements in India. They captured the great Ocean Junction of Malacca, and passed the straits. They traded in China and Japan. They conquered the Spice Islands. In the big rich island of Java, they built the big rich city of Batavia, and sent ships to explore the unknown seas in the South. And that is why Dutchmen first saw Australia.
But we wonder, perhaps, why not Englishmen? For Englishmen also were at war with Philip of Spain. Englishmen also smashed Spanish Armadas. Englishmen also were traders, eager to get shiploads of cloves and nutmegs. And, in truth, Englishmen came to the Spice Islands before the Dutch. Drake came to them in his voyage round the world; and he made a treaty with a King of the Spice Islands which gave Englishmen—at least so Englishmen said—the sole right to buy spices. And a few years later Thomas Cavendish came the same way, and brought home stories of "the incomparable wealth of that country." "If it please Her Majesty," he said, "with a very small power she may take spoil of them all." So English traders, like Dutch traders, sailed well-armed to Indian Seas, smashed Portuguese ships, captured Portuguese forts, and brought home "precious cargoes." Like the Dutch traders, too, they made settlements in the Persian Gulf, in India, in the Spice Islands, in Java. Wherever Dutchmen came, there also came their dear old friends, the English; and one might guess that Dutchmen and Englishmen would probably turn up in Australia about the same time.
But in fact the first Englishman who turned up in Australia was William Dampier, who turned up in 1688, eighty-two years after the first Dutchman had turned up in 1606. And after Dampier's second visit in 1700, seventy more years passed before the next Englishman turned up—Captain James Cook. And the reason was that, in the Far East, Dutch and English, the dear old friends, became bitter enemies—and the Dutch won. The Spice Islands, it was true, had spices enough for Dutch and English and everybody else, and the reasonable and fair thing was to share them. But that was not the 17th Century way of doing business. A nation in those days must have, not a share of a trade, however big, but the whole of it. Greedy must have All. "No other nation in the world," said Dutchmen in plain Dutch, "shall have the least part." And they got their way. With great cruelty they drove Englishmen out of the islands altogether. And the mean and unpatriotic Stuart King, Charles I., put Dutch money into his pocket, and did nothing! So Englishmen had to be content with what then seemed the second-best. They withdrew to India. Dutchmen had the islands to themselves. And that is why Dutchmen, and not Englishmen, first saw Australia.
Dutchmen came to Australia by two paths:—
Firstly, as we have seen, they sailed along the South coast of New Guinea, till they came to a very dangerous tangle of islands, and sandbanks, and reefs. Whether there was a way through the tangle they could only guess. The seamen in the Duyfken (1606) guessed there was a way through. But when the seamen in a later voyage in the Pera and the Arnhem in 1623 tried to find it, they were "caught in the shallows as in a trap," and were very glad to get out of the trap by the way they got in. Their opinion was that it was not a passage, but a "shallow bight" or bay; though, after all, it was impossible to be sure. Anyway, the Dutch ships had to sail South past the tangle, whatever it might be, and they soon came to solid coastline again running South. It was what we call the Western coast of Cape York peninsula; but this the Dutchmen could not possibly know. If the tangle was not a passage, but a bay, this coast must be part of New Guinea, and they called it "New Guinea"—calling our New Guinea "West New Guinea."
They sailed down this coast nearly to the bottom of what they called the Gulf of Carpentaria, after the name of Governor-General Carpentier. But was it really a gulf? Or was it a passage right down South? One could only guess. Either a gulf or a passage it must be. For the Arnhem, one of the Dutch ships of 1623, was blown Westward across it, and discovered a land that was named "Arnhemsland." And later (in 1636) another Dutch ship came to a land, pretty near Arnhemsland which was named after the new Governor-General, "Van Diemen's Land"—a Van Diemen's Land in the North, observe, which we must distinguish from the more famous Van Diemen's Land in the South, discovered six years later.
Secondly, Dutch seamen came to Australia by a quite different path. They were sailing from the Cape to Java; and, instead of sailing by the old way along the coast of Africa, they tried a new way which proved far quicker. They sailed about 4000 miles Eastward from the Cape, before they turned North. Now if you sail about 4000 miles, or a little more, Eastward from the Cape and then aim at Java, you are bound to see the West coast of Australia; indeed you will be lucky if you don't actually run on to it, and get wrecked; as several Dutch ships actually were wrecked on the Abrolhos Islands. Captain after captain saw the coast of "the South Land," as they called it; and bit by bit their discoveries were pieced together till, in 1628, a Dutch geographer was able to draw a wonderfully accurate map which gave the Western coast of Australia from Cape Leeuwin to a river they called Willems River near North-West Cape, and the Southern coast from Cape Leeuwin to the Islands of St. Peter and St. Francis, about the head of the great Australian Bight.
So Dutchmen had discovered three separate scraps of coast—(1) the Western coast of our Cape York Peninsula, which they thought was probably a part of New Guinea; (2) Arnhemsland and Van Diemen's Land (of the North); (3) the coast between Willems River (near North-West Cape), and the head of the Australian Bight. And all these coasts were very bad in every respect. West and South were just as bad as North: "the most arid and barren region that could be found anywhere on the earth." Nothing grew that you could eat. You were lucky if you could dig up a little water, or find a puddle in a rock. There was nothing that even a Dutchman could make money out of. The natives were the ugliest, poorest, savagest, beastliest natives that had ever been seen by Dutch eyes!
Still a Dutchman does not like to leave a job unfinished, especially a job like this—a job so enormously big, as well as so enormously ugly—that some good thing must surely in the long run be found. Governor-General Van Diemen made up his mind that two things, at least, must be done. Firstly, you must fill in the gaps;—find what there is between the three separate stretches of coast now known; and find out in doing so, if you can, whether the tangle South of New Guinea is a bay or a strait. And, secondly, you must find out what is Southward and Eastward of all these lands. This most wretched of all countries is surely not the golden continent of the South! Perhaps it is merely a barren promontory of that golden continent. Perhaps the golden continent lies beyond, Southward or Eastward. We must see, said Governor-General Van Diemen. And he found a captain, named Abel Tasman, as skilful a seaman as ever came to Batavia, and eager to make voyages of discovery in the South. And in 1642 and 1644 Tasman made two voyages which put on the map everything that was on the map when Cook sailed in 1768.
The plan in 1642 was to find out what there was to the South and to the East of the bits of South Land that had been discovered. Tasman was to sail all round them. He had command of two ships, the Heemskirk and the Zeehaen. First, he went to Mauritius to get refreshments, and to make a good start for a summer voyage far down South. From Mauritius he sailed as far South as seemed safe, and then struck East, till he came to the land which he called "Van Diemen's Land," and which we call "Tasmania." He saw the two mountains on the West coast, which were afterwards called, after his two ships, "Mount Heemskirk" and "Mount Zeehan." Then he sailed round the South coast, and up the East coast as far as "Van der Lyns' Island"—our Freycinet Peninsula—whence he struck Eastward.
Now look at Dalrymple's map and see what Tasman has done. He has discovered another separate scrap of coast line. Of what lay to the North, between Van Diemen's Land and New Guinea, and of what lay to the North-West between Van Diemen's Land and Nuytsland (or the head of the Australian Bight) Tasman had not the least idea: and no one had the least idea till Cook filled in the one gap in 1770, and Flinders filled in the other gap in 1801. And the new scrap of coast line Tasman had discovered was a scrap which no one wanted to see again. Tasman landed at a place on the East Coast, which he described so well that we know exactly where it was. Mr. Moore-Robinson has taken a photograph of the place—now, as then, there is a group of trees on a shingle beach—and has put an X on the spot where the Dutch flag was placed. Tasman called it a "barren valley." The seamen saw no natives, but they saw notches on the trees five feet apart. They seemed to form "a kind of steps to enable people to get up the trees" and people who climb trees in five-foot steps must surely be "of very tall stature." A barren valley inhabited by giants did not seem a very promising discovery—though, no doubt, if the giants could be persuaded to order Dutch trousers, much good business would be done.
Then Tasman sailed Eastward, till he came to land which we should describe as the North-West corner of the South island of New Zealand. He sailed along it northward till he came to the cape which the next corner, Captain Cook, when about to sail away from New Zealand along the course by which Tasman had come to it, called Cape Farewell. Rounding it, he saw a large open bay, and thought it a good place to get refreshments. Maori prows rowed out, and an artist made a splendid sketch of them. The Dutch launched a boat in a friendly way. Whereupon the people in one of the prows paddling furiously—Maoris rowed in the style of a University Eight—rammed the boat, hit the seamen with short thick clubs, and killed four of them. Clearly this was no place for refreshment!
Tasman called the bay "Murderers' Bay," and sailed Eastward into a bay which seemed likely to end—so tides and currents made him think—in "a passage to the open South sea." He tried hard to get through; but wind and tide were against him. So on his map he drew, not a passage, but a bay which he called "Zeehan's Bight." I suspect, however, that he was by no means sure that it was not a passage. His Pilot drew a chart which shows that he, at all events, thought it probable that there was a passage. One hundred and twenty-seven years passed before the next comer, Captain Cook, sailed through the passage, and named it "Cook's Strait."
Then Tasman sailed along the coast Northward till he came to a Cape which he named "Maria Van Diemen's Cape"—Maria was the Governor-General's wife—and an island which he named the "Three Kings Island," "because we came to anchor there on twelfth night even."* He sent a boat to the island, to see if water could be got. The seamen said there was plenty of good water coming down from a steep mountain, but the surf made landing impossible. They had seen persons of tall stature walking in enormous strides—persons akin no doubt to the giant tree-climbers of Van Diemen's Land. Again not a very promising discovery.
[* "Twelfth Night was the festival held on the "twelfth night" after Christ's birth, to commemorate the visit of the "three Kings" from the East.]
Tasman felt sure now that he had come to the northern end of the new-found land, and that Dutchmen would be able to sail round it, and attack their old enemy the Spaniard in South America—a thing they greatly wanted to do. So he could now sail northward for home. But what was this second scrap of coastline he had discovered? We could have told him that it was a scrap of the coastline of the two islands of New Zealand. But Tasman had no chance of knowing, or even of guessing, this. All he knew was that he had sailed along a scrap of coastline, running roughly North and South, with a bay or a passage in the middle. To him the most reasonable guess was that it was a bit of the continent which, the maps told you, filled up the whole unknown Southern Ocean. "It seems," he wrote, "to be a very fine country, and we trust it is the main-land coast of the unknown South-land." If a seaman had discovered this coastline thirty years before, he would have guessed that it ran straight on to Tierra del Fuego. But in 1616 a Dutch captain had sailed round Cape Horn—named after the town from which the ship sailed—so Tasman knew that the land he had discovered could not join Tierra del Fuego. But the same Dutch captain had seen a land on the East side of Tierra del Fuego, which, he believed, was a tip of the unknown continent, and he had called it "Staten Land." Tasman thought it likely that the land which he had just discovered went right round the South of Tierra del Fuego, and joined Staten Land; so he called it also "Staten Land" When, soon afterwards, it was found that the Staten Land on the East of Tierra del Fuego was an island, a new name had to be found for Tasman's discovery, and it was named "New Zealand." But it still seemed likely enough that it was a bit of "the mainland coast of the unknown-South"; and this still seemed likely when Cook approached it in the Endeavour in 1769.
Tasman now sailed Northward for home, meaning to call at the Solomons—if only he could find them—and then make for the northern coast of New Guinea. He came to the Tonga Islands, and had a very good time there. Then, sailing West, he got dangerously entangled among the Fiji Islands. There was talk of still sailing West, on a course that might have taken him to the New Hebrides—Quiros's Austrialia of the Holy Spirit—and have given him a chance to sail home by way of Torres Strait, as Torres had sailed when he left the New Hebrides. But Tasman had no knowledge of Torres' voyage through the strait; and he feared that, if he took this Westward course, he might be "cast aside into a bay, from which it might be difficult or impossible to beat out again." So he went North again, to look for the Solomons. He went a little too far North, and just missed them. Then he sailed along the Northern coasts of New Ireland and New Britain—without learning that they were islands—and so, along the fairly well-known northern coast of New Guinea, home to Batavia—"God be praised and thanked for this happy voyage. Amen."
The voyage of 1642 had added two more scraps of coastline to the three scraps already known. The plan of the voyage of 1644 was to fill in the gaps. Tasman sailed along the South coast of New Guinea, and tried his best to find out whether the tangle to the South was a strait or a shallow bight. His journal has been lost, so we do not know exactly what he did, or exactly what he thought. The map he made shows a shallow bight; but I suspect that, if you had talked over the matter with him, he would have told you that he had not dared to go far enough into "the trap" to make quite sure what was at the end of it. Then Tasman sailed down the known coast Southward, wondering whether the Gulf of Carpentaria was a gulf, or a passage that would bring him to the Van Diemen's Land of the South he had discovered two years ago. He found that the Gulf was a gulf, and he sailed along its coast till he came to the already known Arnhems Land and Van Diemen's Land of the North. The people were the same sort of people you always found in the South Land—"naked beach-roving wretches, destitute of rice, and not possessed of any goods worth mentioning, excessively poor, and of a malignant nature." Then he traced the coast from Van Diemen's Land of the North to the Northern end of the old discoveries on the West, finding there was a coast—or at least what looked more like a coast than it looked like an ocean passage. And then he sailed back to Batavia, and made the map which, 124 years later, Cook had on board the Endeavour, as the map which gave the very latest information about the ocean and the lands which he was to explore; save that Cook had just been told that Torres had sailed Southward of New Guinea.
Look again at Dalrymple's map, and see what he has done, and what he has left to be done. He has put on the map two and a half of the four sides of Australia—or "New Holland" as the South Land now came to be called. Going Westward from our Cape York, we find the coastline traced with wonderful accuracy all the way to the head of the Bight: But going Eastward from our Cape York, we find no coastline at all till we get to the head of the Australian Bight, save the tiny scrap which Tasman had discovered and had named Van Diemen's Land. There are two big gaps between this scrap of coast and New Guinea to the North and Nuytsland to the North-West, in which the coastline was still entirely unknown. No one could possibly say how far the unknown Eastern coast of New Holland bulged Eastward. It might fill up the whole ocean Westward of the line marked by the track of Tasman's ships. It might include Quiros's Austrialia of the Holy Ghost (the New Hebrides), and run quite near to the Solomons. Southward Tasman had proved that New Holland was not part of the unknown Southern Continent you saw on the map. That continent, no doubt, lay further South. It was likely enough that the scrap of coastline called Staten Land or New Zealand was one of its promontories; and that, if you sailed round its Northern point, you would find the coastline stretching South-Eastward right across the ocean till it rounded the South of Tierra del Fuego!
It seems strange that, after so much had been discovered between 1606 and 1644, nothing whatever was discovered between 1644 and 1769, though it was clear that ever so much remained to be discovered. And no one could have been more eager to make further discovery than was Anthony Van Diemen. "This vast and hitherto unknown South Land," he wrote to the Dutch rulers, "has by the said Tasman been sailed round in two voyages, and is thought to comprise eight thousand miles of land. Now it can hardly be supposed that no profits of any kind should be obtainable in so vast a country, situated under various Zones between 43½° (Tasmania) and 2½° (New Guinea). Thorough exploration of newly discovered lands is no work for the first comer. God grant that some silver or gold mine be hit upon." But the rulers in Holland were sick of the South Land. No doubt there might be gold there, but it would need a lot of looking for. The best gold mine, they thought, was trade with Asia. So Dutch voyages of discovery almost came to an end. Dutch ships now and then explored the partly known coasts of the West and North-West. But everything they saw was still very, very bad. New Holland was a hopeless place!
Yet New Holland was so big that, sooner or later, explorers of other nations were bound to think it worth while at least to have a look at it! And in 1688 an Englishman for the first time came to have a look at it. He came by a curious chance. William Dampier was in some ways like James Cook, and in some ways like Joseph Banks. Like James Cook, he was a farmer's boy, who became a first-rate seaman. Like Joseph Banks, he was a boy of insatiable curiosity, who was determined to travel, to see the world, and to study everything in it—animal, vegetable, and mineral. His travels brought him to Jamaica; and there he found that the best people to travel with were pirates, whose business it was at this time to raid and rob Spaniards wherever they could get at them. Dampier had no special liking for piracy, though neither had he any special objection to "the trade," as he calls it. He sailed with pirates, not because they were pirates, but because as he says, they were "travellers"—"more to indulge my curiosity, than to get wealth." With them he crossed the Isthmus to the South Seas, sailed Southward to the Island of Juan Fernandez, where he saw, one after another, three men who had lived, one after another, alone on the island like Robinson Crusoe—indeed he told the story in a way that put Robinson Crusoe into Defoe's head. Then he sailed with the pirates Northward to Mexico, crossed the ocean to the Philippine Islands, and went on to New Holland "to see what the country would afford us."
The pirates landed (January 1688) in a bay that was afterwards called by the name of the pirate-ship, "Cygnet Bay," with islands in it that were called the "Buccaneer Archipelago." This was no new discovery, for it was part of the coast along which Tasman had sailed, and which he had put down on his map. But Dampier wrote an account of the land and of the people so interesting that one could not forget it. Australia and Australians were the worst land and the worst people that ever Dampier had seen. The land was "a dry and dusty soil" that was "destitute of water except you make wells," and that was entirely destitute of food. The people were "the miserablest people in the world; and, setting aside their human shape, they differ but little from brutes. They are tall, strait-bodied and thin, with small long limbs. They have great heads, round foreheads and great brows. Their eyelids are always half-closed to keep the flies out of their eyes; they being so troublesome here, that no fanning will keep them from coming to one's face; and, without the assistance of both hands to keep them off, they will creep into one's nostrils, and mouth, too, if the lips are not shut very close. They have great bottle noses, pretty full lips, and wide mouths. The two front teeth of the upper jaw are wanting in all of them; neither have they any beards. They are long-visaged, and of a very unpleasing aspect, having not one graceful feature in their faces. Their hair is black, short and curled, like that of the negroes; and not long and lank like the common Indian. The colour of their skins, both of their faces and the rest of their body, is coal-black, like that of the negroes of Guinea. Their costume consists of a piece of the rind of a tree or a handful of grass or bough." We shall find that when Cook and Banks saw blackfellows on the Eastern side of New Holland they looked at them very carefully to see if they were like the blackfellows Dampier had seen in the West.
Dampier's stories were found so interesting by the men of science of the Royal Society that they persuaded the Government to give him command of a ship to explore New Holland. For, in spite of his unlucky experience, he had sense enough to feel sure that there must be in New Holland a great deal that was well worth seeing. In "this large and hitherto almost unknown tract of land, situated so very advantageously in the richest of climates in the world," he "could not but hope to meet with some fruitful lands, continents, or islands, productive of rich fruits, drugs or spices (perhaps minerals also) that are in other parts of the torrid zones." He hoped to make a thorough exploration, not only of New Holland, but also of the South Seas; and, if he had been fairly treated by the Government, he would perhaps have left Cook little to do.
But he was treated most unfairly. He was given a ship—the Roebuck—which foundered on the way home "through perfect age," after an attempt to mend the leak had shown that "the plank was so rotten that it broke away like dirt." The seamen were as bad as the ship—lazy, dirty, drunken, smellful, rebellious, murderous and "heartless enough to the voyage at best." Dampier had meant to sail, as Cook afterwards sailed, round Cape Horn, in order first to explore the "Eastern or less well-known side of the Southern Lands." But he had to sail at a time of the year when it would have been too cold to round Cape Horn. So he must come by the old Dutch route round the Cape, which brought him to Sharks Bay on the Western coast already explored by Tasman.
But he still hoped to sail all round New Holland. One way of doing so was to sail South to Cape Leeuwin, then East to the head of the Bight, and then on through one unknown gap to Van Diemen's Land, and through the other unknown gap to New Guinea. Had he gone this way, he might have been the first to sail through Bass's Strait, the first to coast Eastern Australia, and the second to sail through Torres Strait. But it was now mid-winter (July 1699). Dampier hated cold, and he believed that the richest lands were "directly under the sun." So he decided to go round New Holland the other way; "to coast to the Northward, and so to the East, and so thought to come round by the South in my return back, which should be in the summer time there."
Sailing Northward, then, he made more careful exploration of the coast drawn in Tasman's map, wondering whether it was really as solid as Tasman had drawn it, or whether, behind the islands, there was not some big ocean passage that might bring you through to the East or to the South. On Rosemary Island he found the first good thing that had ever been found in Australia—beautiful wild-flowers. He landed in a bay, now called. "Roebuck Bay," not far from his old landing place. But both land and people were as bad as before, and even worse. Sailing round the North of New Guinea, he discovered the passage—"Dampier's Passage"—which separates from New Guinea the island which he named "New Britain." At last he had come to a beautiful and rich island "directly under the sun"—an island which, he thought, "may very probably afford as many rich commodities as any in the world." Why should not New Britain become the British Spice Island?
Now was the chance to sail Southward and explore the unknown East and South! But it was impossible. "The many difficulties I at the same time met with, the want of conveniences to clean my ship, the fewness of my men, their desire to hasten home, and the danger of continuing in these circumstances in seas where the shoals and coasts were utterly unknown, or must be searched out with much caution and length of time, hindered me from prosecuting any further my intended search." In truth, had Dampier sailed South he would never have come home. He sailed back the way he came, till the ancient and rotten little ship foundered at the Isle of Ascension. The crew were rescued by British men-of-war, and Dampier brought home his precious note-book.
Dampier came home in 1701; and he described what he had seen in a book so interesting that everybody read it who read anything at all. Yet seventy years passed before another Englishman landed in Australia. Nor need we be surprised. Dampier had described Australia in a way that made everyone feel that Australia was the very best place in the world to live as far away from as you could. New Britain, no doubt, seemed a promising place. But New Britain was ever so far away, and you would have to put ever so much money into it, before you could hope to get a penny out of it. A man of business would do far better by trading in India and America. In fact the British and French, the only nations likely at this time to think of big adventures in the South, were busy enough in India and America, not only in trade, but also in fighting one another. They had no time, no energy, no money for anything else.
Yet in the early 18th Century, there were people both in Britain and in France who thought a good deal about the Unknown South, and wondered what it might contain. What strange things might be there! When Dean Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels, he made Gulliver come to land, in two of the four voyages, in islands to the South of Australia. The Liliputians lived in an island "to the North West of Van Diemen's Land," and the Houyhnhnms and Yahoos in an island South of Cape Leeuwin; they were quite as likely to live there as anywhere else. And though, no doubt, it was unlikely that things quite so strange as things seen by Gulliver really existed in the Unknown South, it would be very surprising if things did not exist very unlike the things you saw in Europe:—things that would be very interesting to men of science, very profitable to men of business, and very well worth the attention of statesmen who wished to found colonies, and to increase the Sea Power of their nation. It was not to be believed that a huge country like Australia could everywhere be as bad as at the places where Dampier had landed. New Britain at all events, was a beautiful and fertile island; and so was Quiros's Island, Austrialia of the Holy Ghost, which could not be far away; and so were the Solomon Islands, if only you could find them. And away to the South must be a huge unknown continent—as huge as Asia or America, and as rich as Peru—to balance the continents of the North.
Both French and British writers wrote books to urge exploration and settlement in the South Seas. And when in 1763 the great war was ended by the treaty which gave Britain mastery in Canada and in India, both French and British statesmen began to think the time had come to do something down South. One of the most famous of the French soldiers who had fought under Montcalm a valiant fight in Canada was M. de Bougainville. And in 1763, the very year when France had to give up hope of a French Empire in America, Bougainville with brave heart was planning a French Empire in Australasia. "The French nation," he wrote, "is capable of conquering the greatest difficulties, and nothing is impossible to her efforts, as often as she will think herself equal at least to any nation in the World!" Was the next war then, thought British statesmen, to be a war for the Pacific? If so we must act at once. It is true that, for the present, we don't want the Pacific. But, if the French mean to peg out that ocean, we must peg it out first.
So in 1765 the British Government sent a ship, and in 1766 they sent two ships, to explore the Pacific. They sailed through the Straits of Magellan, and then struck a North-West course which brought them round the North coast of New Guinea; and they discovered nothing of much importance, save the beautiful and delightful island which its discoverer, Captain Wallis, called "King George the Thirds Island"—it is now called "Tahiti"—an island which plays a great part in the story of exploration.
The British had got away first in the race, but in three months Bougainville was after the two ships of 1766. He did not mention his plan to the British, and they knew nothing about the voyage till it was over. He came to Tahiti—which Wallis had discovered and annexed for Britain—and annexed it for France. Then he sailed on a more Southerly course than the British ships had taken. He came to the New Hebrides—Quiros's Austrialia of the Holy Ghost—and annexed them also! Then boldly he sailed Westward. Had he sailed far enough, he would have come to the unknown Eastern coast of Australia near Cooktown; and, very likely, he would have run on to a coral reef, as Cook did two years later. But, after a week's sail, he found himself in midst of frightful dangers. He saw sandbanks and shoals and breakers that seemed to stretch without end. He was, in fact, about 80 miles from the outer edge of the Barrier Reef. Bougainville had never heard of the Barrier Reef; but he saw that to try to go further Westward would be madness.
So he turned Northward, and came to the Southern coast of New Guinea, near the point to which Torres had come in his voyage 160 years before. Torres, we remember, unable to get round the East point of New Guinea, had, greatly daring, steered Westward, and had found his Strait. But Bougainville had read no account of Torres' voyage; and, though he thought it probable that there was a strait, he dared not face the risk of running into a trap. So, he faced the almost equal risk of fighting his way, in spite of winds and tides, round the Eastern point of New Guinea. For a dreadful fortnight he was in the greatest danger, caught in a huge gulf that bristled with shoals and reefs and islets, while a south-eastern swell was heaving him towards the land. But at length he rounded the point—"Cape Deliverance," he called it. Then he picked his way round the North coast of New Guinea, called at Batavia, and came home by the usual Cape route, catching the slower of the two British ships as he came near Europe in March 1769.
About a year before this time, British statesmen had begun to think of sending another ship to explore the South Pacific. Though they did not know that Bougainville had sailed on the heels of the British ships, they knew very well that he had big plans in mind, and that something must be done to checkmate them. Moreover a famous geographer, named Alexander Dalrymple, was seeking to persuade them that, if they would send a ship further South than any ships had yet sailed, the captain of that ship would find a huge and rich continent, which he could annex before Frenchmen knew anything about it.
Alexander Dalrymple had been a servant of the East India Company, and had sailed a great deal in the Eastern seas, and knew them very well. He had also studied with delight the stories of Columbus and Magellan, and the other famous explorers; and he longed himself to be the hero in some great voyage of discovery in the Unknown South. He was as certain as Quiros had been certain that the Unknown South "must be nearly all land." The coastline of a huge continent ran, he was sure, just to the West of the course that had been taken by ships as they sailed from the Straits of Magellan, or from Cape Horn, for the North of New Guinea; a coast-line which ran straight on to New Zealand, and then fell away Southward. How large this continent must be—larger than the whole of Asia from Turkey to the extremity of China! And how rich! Peru was probably its colony! And how populous! In the American colonies there were only two million people. In the Southern Continent there were probably fifty millions. "The scraps from this table would be sufficient to maintain the power, dominion and sovereignty of Britain, by employing all its manufacturers and ships."
And, as to the way back, Dalrymple knew a very interesting fact, known to no one else, that gave chance of a very interesting voyage. He had got possession of the long-forgotten little Spanish book of 1640, which had told that Torres had sailed South of New Guinea! and he knew that therefore there must be a strait there. In 1767 Dalrymple printed a tiny book—it was not published till 1769—which explained how easy it would be to discover the great rich, populous continent of the South; and in it was a map which for the first time showed the track of Torres running through Torres Strait. Here, you will see a part of Dalrymple's map.
And in February 1768 there seemed a good chance that the British Government would send a ship to explore the South Pacific, and that Dalrymple would be her captain. In that month the men of science of the Royal Society asked King George III., the "Patron" of the Society, to send a ship to the South Pacific with astronomers on board to observe the transit of Venus; and they recommended Dalrymple as "a proper person to be sent to the South Seas, having a particular turn for discovery, and being a navigator, as well as skilled in observation." King George and his advisers willingly agreed to send the ship, and to give the money that was needed. But, as to Dalrymple, there was a hitch. The commander of a King's ship must be an officer of the King's Navy; and Dalrymple, though a good observer and a good navigator, was not an officer of the King's Navy. And the end of the matter was that Alexander Dalrymple, who knew tropical seas so well, and who had read everything written about the Southern Continent, had to stay at home; and the command of the ship was given to James Cook, who had never crossed the equator, and who perhaps did not even know that the Southern Continent existed! Alexander Dalrymple never forgave James Cook. But he gave his booklet to a young aristocrat, Mr. Joseph Banks, who sailed with Cook in the Endeavour, and was able to tell him what Dalrymple knew about the South Pacific and about Torres Strait.
So now we have learnt what, when the Endeavour sailed, men knew about the South Seas, and what they guessed and expected to find. We shall see next why the men of science of the Royal Society were so anxious that a ship should be sent to observe the transit of Venus, and why in the end it was James Cook who was asked to command the ship of discovery.
Map of Australia and the Western Pacific, showing tracks of explorers
PART II. THE VOYAGE OF THE ENDEAVOUR.
On the morning of the 24th of November, 1639, the Reverend Jeremiah Horrocks, a young man of 22 years of age, Curate of the little village of Hoole, in Lancashire, woke with an excited mind. It was Sunday, and the Reverend Jeremiah must conduct services in the Church which nothing in the world would make him neglect. But he was thinking when he woke, not of the Church and its services, but of a darkened room in his cottage, in which a tiny half-crown telescope gave the wintry sun a chance to throw its light upon a screen. It was his belief that, in the course of the day, a small black speck would crawl across the sun-lit circle. That small black speck would be the shadow of the planet Venus passing between Earth and Sun. If one could watch its crawl, one might learn something no one at present knew about Sun and Planets, and the strange wonderful whirligig universe of which astronomers were beginning to get some little understanding.
Nearly a hundred years had passed since the Polish astronomer Copernicus had proved—to those who could understand him—that Sun and Planets do not go round the Earth, but that Earth and Planets go round the Sun. But even in 1639 there were few people who believed this strange new opinion—so unlike what you saw every day with your own eyes. But the astronomers knew that the strange opinion was the right opinion; and they knew also that, if they pushed on their studies, they would in time be able to prove to everybody that it was the right opinion. What they wanted most of all was an instrument that would enable them to study the heavens with greater exactness than you can study them with an un-helped eye. And in 1609—thirty years before that Sunday morning in 1639—the Italian astronomer Galileo had put glasses together in a way that made them what was called a telescope.* You were now able to see plainly things that hitherto you had only been able to see obscurely, or had not been able to see at all. You could see spots on the sun, and mountains on the moon. You could see that Venus sometimes appears in crescent form like the moon, which proves that Venus goes round the sun, and gets light from her. You could see that Jupiter has satellites, and that Saturn has a ring. You could see eclipses of the sun, and eclipses of the moon. And you had good hope to see—if only you could find the right time to look—Mercury and Venus pass between the Earth and the Sun. And everything you saw made more certain and more plain that the strange opinion was the right opinion, and that now, for the first time there was chance, not merely to "consider" but also in some measure to understand what the Psalmist called "the Heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the Moon and the Stars which Thou hast ordained."
[* The discovery that this was possible had been made by chance by a Dutchman in 1608.]
No wonder that Jeremiah Horrocks, a poor Cambridge student with wonderful gift in the study of mathematics, had become an astronomer. In what other branch of learning was there such a chance to make really big discoveries? He had no money wherewith to buy a good telescope—his salary as parson was £40 a year. But he had bought a telescope for half-a-crown; he had watched with it an eclipse of the sun; and he hoped to watch with it an event which no one yet had watched. For he had a very wonderful power to think things out, and to work out sums which would show what must happen from time to time as planets run their rounds. And he had worked out a sum that made him believe that, on the 24th of November, Venus would pass between the Earth and the Sun; and that, if he darkened his room and fixed his half-crown telescope before a screen, he—Jeremiah Horrocks—would see, what no astronomer had ever yet seen, the shadow of Venus crawling along a sun-lit circle.
It was a fine morning, and the November sun shone its best into the telescope, and made a bright circle on the screen; and the Reverend Jeremiah would have given all that possibly could be given of his £40 salary to buy a right to watch that bright circle all day long. But he was God's servant; and it is not right that God's servant should neglect God's service, even to watch the shadow of Venus. So, as usual, he was in good time for Church service: and, as usual, he preached and prayed in a very earnest way; though perhaps a Lancashire man who listened to him said to his wife as they walked home that there seemed to be "summut on th' parson's mind." But at a quarter past three he was free to hurry back—in the sunshine!—to the darkened room; and there! actually crawling over the sun-lit circle was a black speck! He watched it crawl till the sun set at ten minutes to four. And he rejoiced with a great joy. For he had proved that the two planets—the Earth and Venus—whirled round the Sun exactly in the way in which he had thought they whirled. And he knew more about Venus than the most famous astronomer knew.
Jeremiah Horrocks died a year afterwards, at the age of twenty-three. He left writings which prove that he was a very great astronomer. And he left also the memory that it was an Englishman who had first observed the transit of Venus; that is, the passing of Venus between Earth and Sun. English astronomers were proud of the fact; and they made up their minds that Englishmen should always be on the outlook for the transit of Venus, and should make it their pride to carry on the study which an Englishman had begun. You had, it was true, sometimes to wait a long time—a hundred years or so must not worry you—for Venus to get exactly into the place in which you wanted her. But at all events she was regular in her habits, and, if you worked out your sums rightly, you could foretell even the day when the transit would take place—though that day might not come for a hundred years, and you yourself had not the ghost of a chance to see what you foresaw.
Thus in 1716 a famous astronomer, Mr. Halley, foresaw that a transit would take place in 1761, and another in 1769; and as, being 60 years of age, he could not hope himself to see these transits, he implored the English astronomers who should be alive at those dates not to neglect their duty as astronomers and as Englishmen. So in 1760 British astronomers began to make their plans. All famous men of Science were members of the Royal Society; and the Royal Society asked the British Government to send astronomers in 1761 to St. Helena and Sumatra, which seemed to be the two best places from which to observe an event which, they explained, had been "predicted in the last century by an Englishman, and never observed but once since the world began, and that by another Englishman." The Government consented, and the astronomers sailed. But the observations in St. Helena were spoilt by very cloudy weather; and the ship that sailed for Sumatra was attacked by the French, and never got there.
These failures made the Royal Society more anxious that the transit of 1769 should be observed with the greatest care. In February 1768 they wrote a letter to George III., the "Patron" of their Society. They praised his "remarkable love of science," and they explained how necessary it was to observe this transit, for "the like appearance will not happen for more than a hundred years."* Other nations—French, Danes, Swedes, Russians—were making plans of observation. Was it not right that the British nation should make quite sure that the British observations were the best: "the British nation, justly celebrated in the learned world for their knowledge of astronomy, in which they are inferior to no nation in the world, ancient or modern!" Astronomers should this time be sent to three places:—to Spitzbergen or the North Cape; to Hudson's Bay; and to some place in the South Pacific. The expense would be four thousand pounds.
[* The next transits took place in 1874 and 1882.]
The four thousand pounds were willingly given, not only because George III. was interested in science, but also because, as we have seen, British statesmen were interested in the South Pacific, and were just at that time thinking of sending another ship to make more thorough exploration. It would be a first-rate plan, they thought, to send a ship to Tahiti—Captain Wallis returned in May 1768 with news that he had discovered that island—with instructions to observe the transit of Venus, and then to sail Southward in search of the Southern Continent, take possession of it, if they could find it, and bring home news of its greatness and fertility.*
1. It was thought till recently that the "instructions" given to Cook were lost. But, it was found that the document still exists; and it is now in the Mitchell Library, Sydney.]
The next thing was to find a Captain—the sort of Captain that is not easy to find; for he must be (1) a first-rate seaman, (2) a first-rate astronomer, and (3)—seeing that he was to command a King's ship—a first-rate officer of the King's Navy. Now a first-rate seaman is not often a first-rate astronomer: and a first-rate astronomer is not often a first-rate seaman: and, if by good chance you find a man, like Alexander Dalrymple, who is both a first-rate astronomer and a first-rate navigator and map-maker, the Lords of the Admiralty point out that he is not an officer of the King's Navy, and will not look at him. But, by wonderful luck, both the Lords of the Admiralty and the Council of the Royal Society knew a man who had all the three things that were needed. James Cook was a first-rate seaman, a first-rate astronomer, and a first-rate officer in the King's Navy. The Lords of the Admiralty made him Captain of the ship, with the rank in the navy of First-Lieutenant, and a wage of five shillings a day. A Council of the Royal Society was held, and "Mr. Cook was called in." The Councillors thought that he was "a proper person to be one of the observers" of the transit, and they wished to see him, and to talk over the matter. Mr. Cook came into the room. The Councillors were very glad to make his acquaintance. And so are we. But, before we look at him, we will learn what we can about his early life.
James Cook's grandfather was a pious Scotchman, an elder of the Kirk. James Cook's father—whose name also was James—went to live in Yorkshire. "God send you Grace," said his mother as she said good-bye; and God answered the prayer by sending him a wife of that name. In a tiny two-roomed cottage in the tiny village of Marton, James was born in October 1728; and the parson who baptised him wrote down in his book, "James, the son of a day labourer." Later, James's father became a builder. He cut his and his wife's initials—J.G.C.—over the doorway of a house, and there they may be seen to-day.
Son James went to school, learned reading, writing and arithmetic, and got a wonderful grip of these subjects, and indeed of everything he tackled. All the village knew that he had a mind and a will of his own. In later days old school-fellows would tell stories to show how, in looking for birds' nests, as afterwards in looking for islands and continents, he had a way of forming his own plans, and of sticking to them. Then he helped his father in farm work, was perhaps a stable-boy for a short time, served customers in a grocer-and-draper's shop for a year and a half, and in 1746, at the age of eighteen, became "prentice" in a big coal-shipping business at Whitby, a famous old town on the Yorkshire coast. For nine years he made voyages in coal-ships, getting loving knowledge of the sort of ship which he proved to be the best in the world, not only for carrying coal, but also for carrying explorers. Quickly and thoroughly he learnt the whole duty of seamen. He got on very well with his employer, Mr. Walker, who became his friend for life: and in 1755, at the age of twenty-seven, he was offered the position of Captain of a ship. But he refused it. War was breaking out with France—the war that made Canada and India parts of the Empire. Skilful seamen were badly wanted in the Royal Navy, and Cook offered to serve, "having a mind to try his fortune that way."
From 1755 to 1758 Cook served in ships which cruised the Channel, and fought what fights they could get. Unhappily he told no stories of his fights, nor did anyone else. We have to make the most we can of this sort of record in the log of his ship: "we killed her 50 men and wounded her 30; she killed us 10 men and wounded us 80." The log gives the scores of the fight as if it had been a football match—deaths and wounds in place of goals and tries—but tells you nothing about the players. In 1758 Cook sailed to Canada in the fleet commanded by "wry-necked Dick" Boscawen, "Old Dreadnought," and took modest part in famous deeds at Louisburg and Quebec. But there are no stories of the part Cook played in these famous deeds. All we know is that, while Wolfe was planning the capture of Quebec, Cook was doing splendid work in sounding the St. Lawrence, and in drawing maps which showed its difficulties and dangers, and the chances of successful attack on the fortress above.
Cook's maps of the St. Lawrence were so good that he was asked to draw maps of Labrador and Newfoundland; and these were so well drawn that they are useful even now. How he got this wonderful skill to draw maps of unknown coasts better than such maps had ever been drawn before is a great puzzle. For it was skill of the sort which generally only comes to a man who has made long and deep study of mathematics under first-rate teachers. And Cook, on ship off Canadian coasts or in Canadian harbours, had few books and no teachers; indeed, he had never had teachers, "save his own industry," since at very early age he had left school to help his father in farm-work. In the winter evenings at Whitby, when he was back from one voyage and waiting for the next, a kindly house-keeper "allowed him a table and a candle that he might read and write by himself, while the other apprentices were engaged in idle talk"; and, no doubt, he had read and had written with terrible industry. He had a head for mathematics, as the idle apprentices had, perhaps, heads for cricket; and he was as keen on making calculations as they were keen on making runs. It is good that we take our pleasures in different ways, and that one boy's poison is another boy's meat. James Cook did sums because he liked doing sums, and the end was that a farm-labourer's son became the best map-maker in the King's Navy.
Moreover, James Cook, like Jeremiah Horrocks, took keen interest in astronomy. If you can make a good clear map of the earth, why not also make a good clear map of the heavens? In 1766—like Jeremiah Horrocks in 1639—he observed an eclipse of the sun, and his observations were studied by members of the Royal Society, who said that he was "a good mathematician, and was expert in his business." Thus when the Lords of the Admiralty, knowing all about Cook's skill in seamanship and map-making, made him Captain of the ship that was to carry astronomers to Tahiti, the members of the Royal Society were very well pleased; for they knew that the Captain himself would be a first-rate astronomer, as well able to observe Venus, and to bring back facts that could be used to make a new map of the heavens, as he was able to observe strange coasts, and to bring back facts that could be used to make a new map of the South Pacific. As he came into the room they looked at him with keen interest, and so do we.
He was now a man of thirty-nine, The best description of his appearance was written about ten years afterwards, by an officer who had sailed with him in his last voyage: "His person was above six feet high, and, though a good-looking man, he was plain both in dress and appearance. His head was small; his hair, which was dark brown, he wore tied behind. His face was full of expression, his nose exceedingly well shaped, his eyes, which were small and of a brown cast, were quick and piercing, his eyebrows prominent, which gave his countenance an air of austerity." Mr. Cook, thought the Councillors, looks a man who'll make a first-rate job of this voyage; and they made a good guess of his character. "Nature," wrote the officer ten years afterwards, "had endowed him with a mind vigorous and comprehensive, with a clear judgment, strong masculine sense, and the most determined resolution; with a genius peculiarly turned for enterprise, he pursued his object with unshaken perseverance; vigilant and active in an eminent degree; cool and intrepid among dangers; patient and firm among difficulties and distress; fertile in expedients; great and original in all his designs, active and resolute in carrying them into execution. He was a modest man, and rather bashful; of an agreeable lively conversation, sensible and intelligent. In his temper he was somewhat hasty, but of a disposition the most friendly, benevolent and humane; "—his temper was good but short.
The Councillors of the Royal Society could not see all this at one glance. But they saw enough to make them sure that Cook was the man for them; and they asked him straightway to be one of the observers of the transit. They promised him 120 guineas—in addition, of course, to the five shillings a day he got as captain of the ship. Cook was well pleased, and thought himself a lucky man. The Councillors also appointed another observer, Mr. Green, a first-rate astronomer, the son of a Yorkshire farmer, who was to get 200 guineas, and, if the voyage lasted longer than two years, 100 guineas a year. And Mr. Cook and Mr. Green were further to have £120 a year for "victualling" themselves, that is for buying, when they had a chance, better food and better drink than the food and drink served out to the seamen.
There was one member of the Royal Society whose interest in the voyage was far greater than the interest of the other members for he had determined himself to go. Joseph Banks was a rich Lincolnshire squire, twenty-five years of age. Like Dampier, a hundred years before, he had been born with an insatiable curiosity and a determination to see the world and everything in it; and he had a far better chance than poor Dampier to travel in good company. He was the sort of boy whom it is a joy to know. An old schoolmate long afterwards described him as "a remarkably fine-looking, strong and active boy, whom no fatigue could subdue, and no peril daunt. His whole time out of school was given up to hunting after plants and insects. Joe cared mighty little for his books, and could not understand anyone taking to Greek or Latin." Joe himself used to tell how, when a boy, strolling down a lane, he exclaimed—"How beautiful! Would it not be far more reasonable to make me learn of these plants than the Latin and Greek I am confined to?" Perhaps he was all the fonder of hunting plants and insects because he was not "made" to learn of them, but hunted them while "strolling down a lane." I think that he had the same sort of tastes as Martin, "the madman," in Tom Brown's Schooldays, who kept hedgehogs and rats in his cupboard, and carried tame snakes in his pocket; though Joe Banks, no doubt, was a good bit less mad than Martin, and a good bit cleaner in his manners and customs. A boy must be allowed to have his own notion of what is a real good time. When Jim Cook meant to have a real good time, he worked out the hardest sums he could find. When Joe Banks meant to have a real good time, he hunted insects.
Mr. Joseph Banks
At Oxford University he went on with the same studies, getting help now from a good teacher, and strolling down Oxford lanes with great delight. Then he strolled over England, always, as in schoolboy days, hunting plants and insects, and indeed everything that grows, or flies, or swims, or crawls in this very fascinating world. Then he was off to Newfoundland on the same hunt, at the very time (1766) when Cook was making maps of its coasts. And then he heard with excitement that a ship of discovery was to sail for the South Sea. That's the ship for me, said Joe.
His friends told him he was an ass. Why not go the usual "grand tour," that every young swell goes round the gay cities of Europe, have a jolly good time in them, and return to England in tip-top form to have a jolly good time there for the rest of your life? "That's not the 'grand tour' for me," said Joe. "Every blockhead does that! My grand tour shall be round the world." And he was never sorry that he had made this choice. More than half a century later, he wrote a letter to a young man of science, whose friends were trying to dissuade him from making a voyage to Java on the ground that the climate was unhealthy. They want to force you, he wrote, to spend your life in eating and drinking—"a serene, quiet, sober way of slumbering away life. I was about 23 when I began my peregrinations. You may be assured that if I had listened to a multitude of voices that were raised to dissuade me from my enterprise, I should have now been a quiet country gentleman, quite ignorant of a number of matters I am now acquainted with, and probably having attained to no higher rank in life than that of country Justice of the Peace." So wrote Sir Joseph Banks, the friend of the King, the adviser of statesmen, the President of the Royal Society and the Father of New South Wales! To none of these things would Joe have attained had he not possessed the strength of body and mind and soul which made him prefer three years of salt junk and weevilly biscuits, perils of disease and wreck, the company of seamen who cared no more for plants and insects than they cared for Greek and Latin, to a jolly good time in Europe with the motto "the best of everything not good enough for me!"
It is pleasant to think of him as he started on this "grand tour" of the world, radiant in youth, health and strength, brimming over with joy of life, eager to see, to know and to achieve. He was rich enough to do things in a grand style. He took with him a famous botanist named Dr. Solander (pupil of the still more famous botanist Linnaeus), four artists and four servants—two of whom were negroes. "No people," wrote Mr. Ellis, Fellow of the Royal Society, "ever went to sea better fitted out for the purpose of Natural History or more elegantly. They have a fine Library of Natural History, all sorts of machines for catching and preserving insects; all kinds of nets, trawls, drags and hooks for coral fishing; they have even a curious contrivance of a telescope, by which, put into the water, you can see the bottom at a great depth when it is clear. They have many cases of bottles with ground glass stoppers of several sizes to preserve animals in spirits. They have several sorts of salts to surround the seeds. In short Solander assured me this expedition would cost Mr Banks £10,000"—that is to say, more than twice as much as the cost of the ship itself, even after the cost had been nearly doubled by repairs and additions.
For the ship had been chosen and bought. A deal of thought had been given to the choice. The first plan was to send, as in previous voyages, a war-ship. But it was now understood that the sort of ship that is good for war is not the sort of ship that is good for discovery. There are certain things which a ship of discovery must have. She must be a good sea-boat, able to face all sorts of weather with a calm mind. She must be a roomy ship, with plenty of space down below for men to make themselves comfortable. She must have a small draft in order to sail in shallow waters. She must be of a shape that will make it possible, in case she runs aground, to get her off again without much damage: and, in case she is much damaged, to lay her down on shore for repairs. And she must have a body big enough to carry enormous quantities of provisions. Now you would never find all these things in a war-ship. But you found all of them in a sort of ship called a cat-built bark, that was built in Norway—cat comes from the Norwegian word for ship—and in Yorkshire ports like Whitby. So a cat-built bark was chosen.
Her name was the Earl of Pembroke; but she was renamed the Endeavour Bark. She had been built at Whitby in 1764, and had carried coal for four years. Her price was £2800: and £2294, nearly as much as the price of the ship, was spent in repairing her, sheathing her, and generally fitting her for the voyage. Sheathing was very necessary for a voyage of discovery, as Cook was to prove off the Endeavour River. It was there to stand hard knocks, and to prevent "the worm" from boring holes in the ship's sides.* And big changes must be made to turn a coal-ship into a ship of discovery with comfortable room for 94 men, including Mr. Joseph Banks and his friends—who must, of course, have all the best cabins.
1. In the previous voyages of 1765 and 1766, copper sheathing had been used for the first time. But Cook did not use it, because it destroyed the iron work, especially about the rudder. He preferred the old-fashioned wooden sheathing. The trouble was that worms bored holes in the sheathing itself. To-day turpentine wood is used which worms don't like.]
The writer of the earliest Life of Cook says that Cook chose the Endeavour. Dalrymple says he chose her. Exactly what happened, we don't know. But, in any case, Cook approved the choice in the strongest possible way. In a Whitby coal-ship he was as much at home as a Scotchman whose foot is on his native heath. And, in his opinion, the success of the voyage was as much due to the Endeavour, as it was due to Captain Cook. "It was the good qualities of the Endeavour," he said, "which enabled me to remain so much longer in the South Sea than anyone had been able to do before."
How lucky it would have been if one of Mr. Banks's artists had sat down and drawn a picture of the Endeavour, ready to sail on the voyage that was to bring her to Botany Bay. Not one of them did so.* But, happily, one of them drew a picture of the ship as she lay ashore in the Endeavour River to be repaired. And, if you look at this picture, you'll get some rough idea of her appearance. And, happily again, we have in Sydney two plans of her hull that enable a seaman who understands ship-building to draw a more exact picture, showing many things which Mr. Banks's artist, drawing the ship at a distance when she was leaning on her side, could not show.
2. In the Historical Records of New South Wales (Vol. 1, Part I., opposite page 308) is a picture described as "Hull of Lieut. Cook's vessel The Endeavour, from a pencil sketch by Buchan." Buchan was one of Mr. Banks's artists, and a sketch of the Endeavour by him would be of great value. But it is certain that the ship drawn in this picture is not the Endeavour.]
One of these plans, now at the Pioneer Club, Sydney, is dated 25th April, 1768, and gives the hull of the Endeavour when she entered Deptford dock, and the additions that are to be made. Firm lines show the old coal-ship: dotted lines show the additions that will make her a ship of discovery. The second plan, now at Kurnell, Botany Bay, is dated 11th July, 1768, and shows the hull when the additions have been made, and she is ready for the voyage. Using these two plans Captain Bayldon has drawn the picture of the Endeavour which you will find immediately below. There may possibly be a few small mistakes, but I doubt that anybody but Captain Cook can find them. If Captain Cook had watched the drawing of the picture, he would, perhaps, have taken pencil in hand, and put in a slight alteration here or there. But he would have told you that it is a first-rate picture of the Endeavour as he sailed her, accurate, not only in a general way, but also in details. For, in addition to the plans of the hull, good use has been made of other information. When you study Cook's journal with care you find that he tells a good deal about the various parts of the ship. And there are books written about this time which give a full account of everything in a ship and everything on it—masts, sails, rigging, capstans, windlasses, anchors and everything else. There is not a single line in the picture for which a good reason cannot be given.
Captain Bayldon's drawing of the Endeavour
[A coloured version of Bayldon's drawing is at Wikipedia]
As we are to be passengers in the voyage, we'll take a good look at our ship, go on board and make ourselves at home. A friendly seaman promises to run us over the ship, and to explain the things we see. And we'll add to his information what we've learnt about the ship, and shipboard life, from the journals of those who sailed upon her. Please look at the picture.
First we'll note the ship's measurements. Her length is 105 feet, that is, less than twice the length of a cricket-pitch, and just half the length of a Manly ferry steamer. Her breadth is 29 feet, a little less than the breadth of a Manly ferry steamer—you can walk across her comfortably in ten paces. Her depth amidships is 20 feet, about double the height of a room. The water-line marks her draft when starting on her voyage—13 feet 8 inches. Had she been full of coals, instead of being full of provisions, she would have been 1 foot 4 inches deeper in the water, with a draft of 15 feet. Her tonnage is 366 tons; the tonnage of a Manly ferry steamer is a third as much again.*
The measurements of the largest Manly ferry steamers are: length 210 feet; breadth 32 feet; tonnage 500 tons. The measurements of the largest North Shore ferry steamers are: length 183 feet; breadth 30 feet; tonnage 447 tons.]
You'll notice that she's painted in three colours: yellow (sulphur) on top; then a band of black (tar); and at bottom a daub of pitch and brimstone, which gives you green or brown, according to your mixture.
Climbing on board, we first go down the ladder into the hold. There's plenty of room, for it stretches the length of the ship, and amidships is 11 feet high. "This room," says our friend, "you can't enter. It's the spirit cellar. It's locked up, and the Captain has the key. The hold, you see, is pretty full up. Here's a good store of coal—for the kitchen-oven, and for stoves to keep us warm as we go round Cape Horn, and to give damp parts of the ship a good airing. At the bottom of the hold, beneath everything else, is iron ballast; for the cargo isn't heavy enough to make the ship safe and stable in a storm. These are casks of water. We seamen don't quite like the look of them. Water in cask, especially when it's Thames water, is apt in a few weeks to go bad, and even stinking; and there's a dreadful rule in the navy, made by "Old Grog" 28 years ago, which says that our rum and brandy must be mixed with water!* One must, no doubt, have water on board—plenty of water. John Thomson, the cook, wants water for cooking. And the Captain has a strange and troublesome idea that we ought to wash ourselves regularly to keep off scurvy. Water is good for several purposes; but not for drink."
[* At first spirits were served out pure. But in 1740 Admiral Vernon, called "Old Grog" on account of a grogram coat he wore in dirty weather, ordered that the spirits must be watered before issue—how much watered depended on what the officer thought of the seaman—the worse the seaman, the more the water. The mixture was called grog.]
"But the main cargo is casks of provisions—enough to eat and drink, they say, for eighteen months; and we suspect we'll have to make them last a good deal longer than eighteen months. For the Captain has a pestilent notion that at a pinch we can get along on two-thirds allowance; and the pinch—a long hard pinch—is sure to come, whenever he sees a chance of making a discovery at the cost of our stomachs! The Captain's notion of a bill of fare at full allowance is this: 'Suppose,' he says, 'four men to mess or eat together, which is very common, their daily allowance will be as follows:—Each man is allowed every day one pound of biscuits, as much small beer as he can drink' ("good!") 'or a pint of wine,* 'or half a pint of brandy, rum or arrack' ("mixed with cask-water!") 'They' (that is the mess of four) 'will have besides on Monday—half a pound of butter, about 10 ounces of Cheshire cheese, and as much boiled oatmeal or wheat as they can eat: Tuesday—two four-pound pieces of beef, or one four-pound piece of beef, 3 pounds of flour, and one pound of raisins, or half a pound of suet: Wednesday—butter and cheese as on Monday, and as much boiled pease as they can eat: Thursday—two two-pound pieces of pork with pease: Friday—the same as Wednesday: Saturday—the same as Tuesday: Sunday—the same as Thursday. Sugar and oil are served in place of butter and cheese: a pound of the one or a pint of the other are equal to one pound of butter or 21 ounces of cheese.'"**
[* Cook took on board "as much wine as the ship can conveniently stow."]
[** This was the bill of fare in Cook's ship in his next voyage in the Resolution. No doubt the bill of fare in the Endeavour was similar. I fear, however, a seaman did not get "as much small beer as he could drink." Beer for only 28 days was put aboard: a great pity, thought Cook, for it "proved very good to the last cask." Beer casks for seamen took too much room. There was only room for the beer casks of "gentlemen." Mr. Banks and his friends had "small beer and porter on tap" in the Pacific, and enjoyed it thoroughly.]
"On the whole we think we'll have enough to eat. But, seeing that this is to be our bill of fare for three years, it does look a bit monotonous! Day after day, week after week, year after year, the same old biscuit, the same old pork! We wonder what state they'll be in when we take them out of cask a year or two hence."
In truth they were for the most part in better state than there was reason to expect. On the 23rd of September, 1769, more than a year after they had been put on board, Mr. Banks wrote down what he thought of them. "Our ship's beef and pork are excellent:* pease, flour and oatmeal are at present, and have been in general very good; our bread" (that is, biscuit), "indeed, is but indifferent, occasioned by the quantity of vermin that are in it. I have seen hundreds, nay, thousands, shaken out of a single biscuit.** We in the Cabin" (that is, the dining-room of the officers and "gentlemen") "have, however, an easy remedy for this, by baking it in an oven, not too hot, which makes them walk off, but this cannot be allowed to the ship's people" (that is the crew), "who must find the taste of these animals very disagreeable, as they every one taste as strong as mustard, or rather spirits of hartshorn. They are of five kinds"—and Banks gives their Latin names!—"this last, however, is scarce in the common bread" (that is, biscuit), "but vastly plentiful in white meal biscuits, as long as we had any left. Wheat has been boiled for the breakfasts of the ship's company, two or three times a week, in the same manner as frumenty" (porridge)"is made. This has, I believe, been a very useful refreshment to them, as well as an agreeable food, which I myself and most of the officers in the ship have constantly breakfasted upon in the cold weather. The grain was originally of a good quality, and has kept without the least damage. Portable soup is very good; it has now and then required an airing to prevent it from moulding. Sour krout is as good as ever. Our malt liquors have answered extremely well; we have now both small beer and porter on tap, as good as ever I drank, especially the latter. The small beer has some art used to make it keep."
[* The excellent beef and pork, however, grew less excellent. About a year later, when they were on two-third allowance, Banks admits that "our provisions were by now so much wasted by keeping that that allowance was little more than was necessary to keep life and soul together!" Mr. Forster, a man of science who sailed with Cook in his next voyage, wrote of "the loathed diet of salted meat, of which the juices were utterly destroyed by lying in pickle for 3 years." Pickled meat was called salt junk. Junk was the name given to remnants of old cables and ropes.]
[** "I have sometimes," Banks writes elsewhere, "had twenty at a time in my mouth, every one of which tasted as hot as mustard."]
But how provisions taste depends a good deal on the cook. "Climb up this ladder to the lower deck," says our friend. "You'll find things pretty comfortable again. At all events you'll be able to stand upright; for on the Endeavour there are seven feet between lower and upper decks, whereas in a war-ship there are only five or six. Now walk forward, and you'll find John Thomson, in his galley or kitchen—when we go on the upper deck, we'll see his kitchen chimney coming out abaft the foremast. As for John Thomson, the fact is, we seamen would like to know a little more about him and his cookery. The first man the Lords of the Admiralty sent on board as cook was found by the Captain to be a lame infirm man, incapable of doing his duty! The Captain managed to get him removed, and recommended a man named Pritchard. But the Lords of the Admiralty replied that a job must be found for John Thomson, and that the only job open was that of cook on the Endeavour. So we'll have to eat John Thomson's dishes for the next three years!"
John Thomson proved a thoroughly good cook. No complaints about his dishes are made in the journals, and I'm sure complaints would have been made had his cookery been bad. The Captain, says one who travelled with him in his last voyage, "always kept a good table." He expected a cook, as well as other men, to do his duty, and he would have said something strong had John Thomson failed to do his. Mr. Joseph Banks, who had eaten the best dinners in London, thoroughly enjoyed Thomson's porridge at breakfast, says that a shark cooked by Thomson was so good that everyone "from the Captain to the swabber, dined heartily upon it," and describes a soup made by Thomson out of a cuttle-fish as "one of the best soups I ever ate." Who would not be delighted to get a cook who could show such a testimonial from Mr. Joseph Banks? I'm sure that John Thomson's cookery had a great deal to do with the success of the voyage. And it is with regret that I read in the Captains journal that among four men who died in one day in the dreadful voyage from Batavia to the Cape was "John Thomson, ships cook." I think the Captain might have found time, even on that sad day, to write one sentence in praise of the thousand good dinners John Thomson had cooked on the Endeavour.
The seamen—you'll see some of them in the picture of the landing at Botany Bay—eat their dinners in the big open space amidships. Here at night they sleep in hammocks; and here at mid-day, hammocks rolled up and put away, they sit on rough benches at a rough table, eat John Thomson's dinners, and talk the talk of 18th century seamen. It's strong, rough, full-flavoured sort of talk. Mr. Forster, a pompous German man of science, who sailed with Cook in his next voyage, overheard the seamen talking, as, huddling round a fire, they ate one of the first meals ever eaten by Englishmen in the New Zealand bush. They "recited," he says, "a number of droll stories, intermixed with hearty curses, oaths and indecent expressions, but seldom without real humour." At a later date, during a violent tempest, he heard "the voices of the sailors louder than the blustering winds or the raging ocean itself, uttering horrible volleys of curses and oaths. They execrated every limb in varied terms, piercing and complicated beyond the power of description. Inured to dangers from their infancy, they were insensible to its threats, and not a single reflection bridled their blasphemous tongues. I know nothing comparable to the dreadful energy of their language."
After dinner comes the big smoke or chew—though in truth it's hard to say when the chew does not come. It's curious that while in the journals there's endless news of drink, there's hardly any news of tobacco. But tobacco is always in pouch, and nearly always in mouth. One of Cook's servants made tobacco-pouches out of seal-skin, and the seamen were very keen to get one.* In Tahiti a curious thing happened. Banks was told that a friendly native named Tubourai was dying, and hastened to his house. He found Tubourai leaning against a post. He had been deadly sick, and "told me he would certainly die in consequence of something our people had given him to eat, the remains of which were shown me carefully wrapped up in a leaf. This, upon examination, I found to be a chew of tobacco, which he had begged of some of our people, and, trying to imitate them in keeping it in his mouth, as he saw them do, had chewed it almost to powder." Tubourai was feeling just as anyone feels when he's smoked his first cigar. He knows he's dying, and wishes he was dead. "I prescribed cocoa-nut milk," says Banks, "which soon restored him to health." Banks himself disliked the habit of chewing tobacco, and writes of "the nauseous smell of that herb."
[* The desire for a tobacco pouch took a big part in a very sad story. One evening a marine threw himself overboard. "He was a very good young man," says Banks, "scarcely 21 years of age, remarkably quiet and industrious." One of the Captain's servants, going away in a hurry, had given him a sealskin to hold. The servant was going to cut up the seal-skin to make tobacco pouches. He had promised a pouch to several men, but had refused to give one to this marine, who now took his chance to cut off a piece. The owner, returning, took the piece from him, but made no complaint to the officers. But the marines "stood up for the honour of their corps so highly that they drove the young fellow almost mad by representing his crime in the blackest colours." The Sergeant declared that he would himself complain of his most inexcusable crime. "This affected the young man much, so he went to his hammock; soon after the Sergeant called him on deck; he got up, and slipping past the Sergeant, went forward; it was dusk, and the people were not convinced that he had gone overboard till half an hour after the event."]
Aft of the seamen's dining-sleeping room, a bulk-head or wooden partition runs across the deck. Behind it are the cabins of officers and "gentlemen." They dwell apart from the crew—the "common people" Banks calls them—glad not to overhear "the dreadful energy of their language," and to get a chance of quiet rational conversation about navigation and botany. The arrangement of their cabins, under the quarter deck, is made to suit the comfort and convenience of Mr. Banks and his friends. There are so many of them that it's necessary to have the cabins in two floors. The cabins on the lower floor are only 5 feet high—miserably uncomfortable for a voyage of three years! Those on the upper floor are 7 feet high—the extra 2 feet makes a big difference. They are occupied by the Captain, Mr. Green (the astronomer), Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander and Mr. Banks's draughtsmen. The unfortunate officers are in the pokey 5-feet high cabins on the lower floor. On one side of the ship are the cabins of the First Lieutenant (Lieut. Hicks), the Surgeon (Dr. Monkhouse), and the Gunner (Mr. Forwood); on the other side are those of the Master (Mr. Molyneux), the 2nd Lieutenant (Lieut. Gore), and the Captain's Clerk (Mr. Orton). You can see all their cabins marked and allotted on the plan of the hull.
It's a pity Mr. Banks could not take a photo of his cabin. But he drew a pretty good picture of it in two passages in his journal. The first is a description of a scene one stormy night. "My bureau was overset, and most of the books were about the cabin floor; so that, with the noise of the ship working, the books, etc., running about, and the strokes our cots or swinging beds gave against the top and sides of the cabin, we spent a very disagreeable night!" The second passage describes a scene in the cabin when the Endeavour was approaching New Zealand. "Now I do wish that our friends in England could, by the assistance of some magical spying-glass, take a peep at our situation: Dr. Solander sits at the cabin table describing; myself at my bureau journalising; between us hangs a bunch of seaweed" (just picked up); "upon the table lie the wood and barnacles" (also just picked up; is Dr. Solander "describing" them?); "they would see that, notwithstanding our different occupations, our lips move often; and, without being conjurors, might know that we were talking about what we should see upon the land which, no doubt, we shall see very soon."
The Captain, the gentlemen, and the officers dine in the "great cabin" in the stern. The Captain and Mr. Banks can enter it from their sleeping cabins, the others come to it through a "lobby." The furniture of the room is comfortable; for the Captain, as well as Mr. Banks, likes to see things done in good style. There's a good table, and comfortable chairs. The floor covering is green baize. It's a well-lighted and airy room; for, in addition to two windows in the sides, there are five windows in the stern—see the picture—giving an excellent look-out. How I would like to give you the table-talk of Captain Cook and Mr. Joseph Banks!
"Now," says our friend, "climb these steps. They take you from the gentlemen's cabins to the upper deck. You'll come out at a hatchway between the wheel and the capstan. This is the quarter-deck, and is reserved for the use of officers and gentlemen. Seamen only come upon it when on duty. You see the wheel? The rudder is moved by a long tiller, which is fastened by ropes and pulleys to the wheel; so that a turn of the wheel directs the ship's course. You can see the tiller under a platform which the Captain has had built over it, in order that Mr. Banks and the gentlemen—who, between you and me, are clumsy landlubbers, and sometimes a bit of a nuisance—may walk about and take the view, without tumbling over tiller and tiller-ropes. At the stern, every two hours, stand seamen who have to find out how fast the ship is travelling. They drop a small line into the sea, and note how many feet of the line run out in a certain number of seconds. Just ahead of the steersman at the wheel is the bittacle; a small locker containing a compass and other nautical instruments. The capstan is for heaving on ropes. Here are a couple of carriage-guns—they can be wheeled about as you like—and some small swivel guns. This boat is the yawl, well lashed down on deck. She's about ten feet long, and can just hold seven men. Hanging over the stern is the jolly boat, about eight feet long, and able to hold about five men. Mr. Banks also has a tiny boat of his own, in which he'll paddle round the ship when there's no wind, shooting birds and fishing up things that will astonish you. It might hold say four men at a pinch."
"Now, step down to the main-deck, the seamen's deck. They reach it by ladders from their dining-sleeping room you've seen down below on the lower deck. There are two of these ladders. Look carefully at the hatchways where they come to the upper deck. They are simply holes, surrounded by coamings—that is, boards of a foot or so high—but with no other protection. In very bad weather we may have to fasten them up with hatches, or boards. But, if we do, we'll get pretty well stifled down below; and in general we count on having them open. No doubt that looks a bit dangerous, for if a sea gets on board, it'll go right down the hatchway, and swamp the lower deck. You think we ought to have an extra-high bulwark to keep the sea out? No, the bulkwark here at the waist is only one foot high, yet we feel perfectly safe."*
[* Mr. Banks writes:—"The ship during the gale has shown her excellence in laying to remarkably well, shipping scarce any water, though it blew at times vastly strong. The seamen say they never knew a ship lay to so well as this does, so lively and at the same time so easy. The ship goes better since her shaking." On the other hand, Banks says the Endeavour was "but a heavy sailer"; "indeed we could not expect her to be any other from her build." Seven miles an hour was "no very usual thing."]
"What a fine sea vessel," says Captain Bayldon, "the cat-built bark really was, to need only this little bulwark. Our iron wool-clippers, with bulwarks five feet high, would frequently be filled with the green seas they used to ship aboard. What sad scenes these little bulwarks witnessed between Batavia and the Cape, when seamen were dying each day. Resting on them was the plank on which was placed the dead seaman, sewn up in his canvas hammock, with a round shot between his feet, and covered with the old Red Ensign. Then the brief burial service; and the plank tilted upwards to 'commit the body to the Deep, in the hope of a joyful Resurrection.'"
The boat on the main deck is the long-boat, about 22 feet long, and able to carry about 20 people. The pinnace—out of sight in the picture—is about 14 feet long, and can carry about 12. All boats are firmly lashed down. They play a very important part in the story. They explore the shores of Botany Bay, and feel the way mile by mile, almost inch by inch, among the treacherous coral reefs off the coast of Queensland. When the ship was stuck on the coral reef, it seemed that the boats would offer the only chance of escape; and a very poor chance it seemed, "for we well knew," says Banks, "that our boats were not capable of carrying us all ashore, so that some, probably most of us, must be drowned." There were about 90 men on board, and the boats would find it hard to carry more than 50.
The thing on the after side of the foremast is the windlass.* It's for heaving in the big hempen cables, 12 inches round and 720 feet long. It's a roller; and the cable's wound round it. Bars are fitted into holes in it, and the seamen heave down on them, and "howl"—it's a long hard job—some fore-runner of the later beautiful heaving-in songs. When they left Batavia, everyone was so glad to get away that there wasn't a man on ship, says Banks, who didn't heave. I like to think of Mr. Joseph Banks heaving and howling with "the common people." When the cable's hove in, it's carefully examined, to see if it's badly chafed by a rocky sea-bottom. If so, the chafed part is cut out, and the two ends are spliced together—a splice that's very difficult to make, and a good seaman prides himself on making it well. Then the cable's put away on the deck down below, and the anchor's secured to the bow, ready for use any moment. When the anchor's let go, a long buoy-rope's made fast to it, by which, in case the cable parts, the anchor can be hove up again.
[* The capstan on the quarter-deck is the same sort of thing as the windlass; but at a capstan the men heave on or push, as they go a round on the deck. You can use more force heaving down at a windlass than heaving on at a capstan.]
You see there's not much room to move about on deck, There are two hatches, and two boats. There's the kitchen chimney. There are four pumps, one on each side of the main- and the fore-mast; they look like village pumps. There are pens for pigs, and coops for fowls. There are two spare top-masts and two spare top-gallant masts lying on deck; for it's not uncommon for masts to break in gales. Foreward also the deck is crowded—there's the bowsprit; there are heavy baulks of timber called bitts, for making the cable fast, when lying at anchor; and there are the anchors themselves. The biggest anchor, the sheet anchor, is used only on special emergencies. The next biggest, the best bower, and the small bower, are in general use, one on each side. Then there are stream-anchors, and kedge-anchors, for use in boats when sent to heave the ship in some particular direction—all most useful off the Queensland coast.
Over the sides of the ship are the chains, by which the rigging is fastened to the hull. Between the chains and the ship-side is a heavy plank. On dangerous coasts a seaman will stand on it, heaving in the lead and calling the depth. Never were leadsmen so hard-worked as the leadsmen of the Endeavour off the Queensland coast. "We have sailed," wrote Cook, "about 360 leagues (1080 miles) by the lead, without ever having a leadsman out of the chains; a circumstance that perhaps never happened to any ship before, and yet it was here absolutely necessary." Mr. Banks found the plank a convenient place to stand on, big net in hand, pulling up anything that got into it.
The sails in the picture are the sails that would usually be carried in moderate weather. Cook notes day by day their furling and unfurling, and so makes it possible for a seaman to know exactly what sails were used, and exactly how they were used. Look at the three masts, the foremast, the main-mast, the mizen. Each is formed of parts firmly fastened together; so that if a gale smashes a top-mast, or a topgallant mast, you can clear away the wreckage, and make good use of the spare masts on the deck. The height of the top of the main-mast from the deck is nearly 100 feet. Imagine Mr. Banks and Tupia at the mast-head, saying farewell to beautiful Tahiti; or young Nick shouting at top-voice that he sees the coast of New Zealand; or Captain Cook, looking with keen eyes at the coral reefs, and wondering "is it possible I'll ever get through them?" "After having viewed our position from the mast-head, I saw we were surrounded on every side with dangers, in so much that I was quite at a loss to know which way to steer!"
Then look at the Flags. The Flag at the stern is the Red Ensign. It was under the Red Ensign that both Naval and Merchant ships sailed in the 18th Century. The White Ensign—now the Naval Ensign—was then only flown when ships were under the command of a Vice-Admiral; the Blue Ensign only when under the command of a Rear-Admiral. Cook, therefore, on all three voyages, sailed under the Red Ensign. He might also hoist the Union Jack on a small flag-staff on the bowsprit; and, when he approached a Dutch island, he "hoisted a Jack on the foretopmast head." Ashore also he hoisted the Jack—as, for example, at Tahiti, at New Zealand, at Botany Bay, and at Possession Island. It was like the Union Jack of our days, without the diagonal red cross of St. Patrick, which was added in 1801, at the Union of Great Britain and Ireland.
Now look at the Pennant or Pendant. The chief difference between the Navy and the Merchant service was that, whereas Naval vessels carried Pennants at the masthead, Merchant vessels were not allowed to do so. Pennants were of various designs: either entirely red; or red, with St. George's cross on a white field; or red, white and blue throughout the entire length. They had either one, or two or three tails. There seems to have been no strict regulations as to which kind of pennant was to be used.
And now, we'll make acquaintance with the men of the Endeavour. James Cook is Lieutenant in command. It was not till his return from the voyage that he was given the rank of Captain. But the seamen of the Endeavour called him "Captain," and so will we. The First Lieutenant, Zachary Hicks, is ill of consumption, and "hath been dying ever since," wrote Cook, recording his death only a month before home was reached. The Second Lieutenant is John Gore, a first-rate seaman, who has already sailed round the world, and who is to sail in Cook's third voyage, and to bring the ships home. He is also a first-rate shot, the first Englishman who ever shot a kangaroo. The Master—a very important officer, who looked after matters of navigation—is Robert Molyneux, an able fellow, who drank himself to death. Surgeon Monkhouse is a most excellent man; a splendid doctor, and a delightful companion if you get the chance of a walk ashore. Of Stephen Forwood, the Gunner, we shall hear more in a moment. He's in charge of 10 carriage guns and 12 swivels. There's an armourer. There's a boatswain, a carpenter and a sailmaker, with their workshops on the lower deck. Each officer has his "mate" or assistant. And there are about forty "able seamen." There are twelve marines—that is, soldiers who serve on ships. And Mr. Banks, his men of science, and his servants, make ten. Ninety-four in all.
There's no parson on board. The Captain reads Divine Service on Sundays—though perhaps not every Sunday. He "celebrated Divine Service" at least twice at Tahiti; and Banks fixed an hour when natives could be present, "that they might see our behaviour, and that we might, if possible, explain to them the reasons for it." "The natives," he says, "imitated my motions, standing, sitting or kneeling as they saw me do." But they asked no questions, and would listen to no explanations! No doubt the Captain celebrated Divine Service in the conscientious way in which he did everything. His widow treasured the Bible he had used. In her old age—she lived fifty-six years after his death—she "kept four days in the year of solemn fasting, during which she came not out of her own room." They were the days on which she had lost her husband and her three boys. She passed those days in prayer and meditation with "Mr. Cook's Bible." That Bible is now in the Australian Museum, Sydney. It has marvellous pictures of the entrance into Noah's Ark, and of the death of Goliath. We are told that Cook used this Bible "in his last voyage." I do not know whether he also used it on the Endeavour. It is old enough to make that possible. For it was printed in 1765, three years before the Endeavour sailed.
We glance down the list of seamen's names, and wonder what sort of men they were, how they passed the endless time, and what they talked about. As we sail round the world with them, we shall make acquaintance with a good many; and we shall find that we are in company of very human men, of very remarkable faults, and of even more remarkable virtues. Some of them we shall come to know better if we sail with Cook in his later voyages; for the best of Cook's men had a way of sticking to him; and when they heard he was off again, were aye ready to be off with him.
Look at these young fellows on deck. Some of them are men of high ability and of charming character. Here is midshipman Isaac Smith, cousin of Cook's wife. He was "of great use to me," wrote Cook at the end of the voyage, "in assisting to make surveys, plans, drawings, etc., in which he is very expert." So "expert," indeed, was he in these and in other matters that, in the end, he became Admiral Isaac Smith. In days when New South Wales was a prosperous colony under Governor Macquarie, the Admiral would tell you that he was the first Englishman who had ever jumped ashore at Botany Bay. "Now then Isaac," sang out Cook as the boat rowed in, "you go first!" and Isaac jumped on to a rock which you may jump on to to-day.
In 1830, sixty years after he had jumped this jump, Admiral Smith, living in London with his cousin Mrs. Cook, was asked for information about Captain Cook by a gentleman who had heard it said that the Captain had been a severe man. The Admiral wrote him a letter, the rough draft of which is now in the Australian Museum, Sydney. "Mrs. Cook," he wrote, "feels herself hurt by the idea that the Captain was severe, and says he was a most kind and affectionate husband, and a good father to his children, whom he truly loved, and she always found fault with the picture for that stern look which it has, though otherwise a good likeness. As for myself, who was with him the two first voyages as a petty officer, a youngster, I never thought him severe, and he was both loved and properly feared by the ship's company; and when he was very ill, the first question asked both by officers and men on the relief of the watch at night was how does the Captain do, is he better?"
Make a friend, as soon as you can, of Charles Clerke, master's mate. Let me tell you something about him. He served as a boy in the war against France. In one fight he was stationed in the top of a mast. The mast was shot clean overboard, and overboard went Charles Clerke with the mast. Happily he was fished up alive and unhurt. He's already once sailed round the world, and he's to sail in all Cook's voyages. After Cook's death, he took his place in command, though himself in desperate health—he died a few months later in Kamschatka. If you would know what sort of man Charles Clerke was, read the letters he wrote at later dates to his friend and fellow-voyager, Mr. Joseph Banks. In these letters he drew, without knowing it, a picture of himself—a jolly seaman, slap-dash in talk and action; planning to escape his creditors, in order to make another voyage with Cook; ready to sail to the South Pole with Mr. Banks, if Mr. Banks insists, in a ship so unsafe that the pilot will not even take her down the river—"by God," said he, "I'll go to sea in a grog-tub if required"; writing "at sea" in hopeless illness five days before his death—"my friends will have no reason to blush in owning themselves such, for I have most perfectly and justly done my duty to my country, so far as my abilities would enable me." His spirits were high and his talk was jolly, says his friend, to the last hour. He refused to sail into warmer climate—he was trying to find a way round the North of North America—though that was the one chance of saving his life. One likes to know that Charles Clerke was master's mate on the Endeavour; and we shall find that there were many among the seamen who had some share of his simple boyish heroic spirit.
Yet we should be wrong if we thought that the seamen of the Endeavour were faultless men. Ask Captain Cook what he thought of them; or, if you have no chance of doing that, turn over the pages of his journal, where, you'll find, he expresses his opinion quite freely. Twenty-one times he writes that he has "punished — — with a dozen lashes," or, in bad cases, "two dozen lashes." Though sometimes a bit "hasty," Cook was a humane man; and you may be sure that, when Cook lashed, there was generally good reason for lashing. And, if you had a talk with him, he'd tell you stories that would make you wonder—especially if you lived in the 18th Century—how he managed to take a crew of such fellows round the world with punishments so few and so trifling! For, after all, twenty-one floggings are not very many in a voyage of three years, and every honest seaman of the reign of George III. will tell you that a dozen or two lashes now and then are necessary to make a ship go.
Ask the Captain, for example, his opinion of John Reading, boatswain's mate, whose death he describes in the following words:—"At 10 departed this life Jno. Reading, boatswain's mate; his death was occasioned by the boatswain, out of very good nature, giving him part of a bottle of rum last night, which, it is supposed, he drank at once. He was found to be very much in liquor last night; but as this was no more than was common with him when he could get any, no further notice was taken of him than to put him to bed, where this morning he was found speechless and past recovery."
Or get the Captain to talk about Stephen Forwood, gunner, who one night between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., with the help of three "able seamen," "found means to take out of the spirit-cask on the quarter-deck between 10 and 12 gallons of rum, being the whole that was in the cask." They were caught in the act, and each able seaman got the twelve lashes he so well deserved. The gunner escaped lashing because he was the gunner; though, in truth, wrote Cook, he "richly deserved the whole upon his back"; for his drunkenness had made him "the only useless person on board ship."
Cook wrote down the horrid story next morning in such anger that his corrections and inter-linings make the passage hard to read. And then—at a later date, I think—he drew his pen through it, so that it does not appear in the copy of the journal he sent to England. I wonder if he did so after the following event. The Endeavour, in extreme danger—I shall tell the story later on—was making a dash for a very narrow opening in the Great Barrier Reef. In the height of the danger—"we were about 100 yards from the reef, where we expected the ship to strike every minute"—Mr. Green, the astronomer—by no means a faultless person—with the help of two officers, calmly took an observation, which proved to be "very good." The two officers who helped him were Mr. Clerke—one is not surprised to find him there—and "Mr. Forwood, the gunner." After all, he is not, it seems, an entirely "useless person." When the Endeavour came home, Cook wrote a letter to recommend that Mr. Forwood should be appointed to a soft job in order to "give him sufficient time to recover his health," and become fit to serve as gunner in a new voyage.
And then ask the Captain to tell you how midshipman Magra and Richard Orton, the clerk, spent a night off the coast of Queensland. Both these men are of special interest to us. For Richard Orton wrote the copy of Cook's journal which you may see to-day in the Australian Museum, Sydney—and mighty well he wrote it, seeing that he, too, was commonly dead drunk whenever he could get drink. And James Magra, the son of a well-to-do and loyal citizen of New York, was the man who in 1783, with name changed to Matra, after much talk with his old fellow-voyager, Mr. Banks, wrote a proposal that a colony should be founded in the bay in New Holland which Mr. Banks and he had visited thirteen years before—a proposal which was read by Lord Sydney, and was in Lord Sydney's mind when he set about the foundation of the colony five years later.
"Last night," wrote the Captain, "some time in the middle watch, a very extraordinary thing happened to Mr. Orton, my clerk. He having been drinking in the evening, some mischievous person or persons took advantage of his being drunk, to cut off the clothes from his back; not being satisfied with this, they sometime after went into his cabin, and cut off parts of both ears as he lay asleep in his bed. The person whom he suspected to have done this was Mr. Magra, one of the midshipmen." Cook was told that "Magra had once or twice before this in their drunken frolics cut off Orton's clothes, and had been heard to say that, if it was not for the law, he would murder him." These things considered, Cook thought that "Magra was not altogether innocent." Mr. Orton, it was true, was "a man not without faults," and it seemed that "he himself was in some measure to blame." Still—so the matter seemed to Cook—there was something wrong on board ship, if a well-meaning man could not go comfortably to bed dead drunk without danger of finding, when he woke up, that the ends of his ears had been cut off, without his knowledge, by someone whom he could only suspect! So he "dismissed Magra from the quarter-deck, and suspended him from doing any duty in the ship." He was "one of those gentlemen," he wrote angrily, "frequently found on board King's ships that can very well be spared—to speak more plain, good for nothing."
But that's not the end of the story. Three weeks later, after the fearful adventure on the top of the coral reef, Cook groped his way into the Endeavour River. "In justice to the ship's company," he wrote, after telling the story of escape, "I must say that no men ever behaved better than they did on this occasion; animated by the behaviour of every gentleman on board, every man seemed to have a just sense of the dangers we were in, and exerted himself to the utmost." Mr. Richard Orton wrote as usual his copy of Cook's words; and then Cook, himself taking pen in hand, wrote on the margin of the paper:—"This day I restored Mr. Magra to his duty, as I did not find him guilty of the crimes laid to his charge." What I very much suspect is that the real cause of the change in Cook's opinion was some brave unrecorded action by the suspected gentleman-midshipman. And it was at the same time, perhaps, that, looking over old dates, he crossed out the unkind words that "gentlemen" like Mr. Magra were "good for nothing." It is with difficulty that one can make them out under Cook's cross lines.*
[* This is so in the copy of the journal sent home from Batavia. Cook forgot to make the correction in his own journal.]
We must think of the men of the Endeavour, as Cook thought of them. They were men "not without faults." Put a seaman face to face with a bottle of rum, and he'll drink that bottle to the last drop—and die. But put him face to face with danger, and he'll become a hero—though he'll use pretty strong words if you say so—
We aren't no Jack Tar 'eroes,
Nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But thirsty men on shipboard,
Most remarkable like you.
A Captain's job was to get such thirsty men to do their best. In Cook's opinion a dozen or two lashes now and then were a useful means of persuasion. But he believed far more in the persuading power of words of encouragement and praise; and he gave them, as he gave lashes, when they were deserved, and much more frequently. And, when faults were incurable, he thanked God that they were not worse. Cook's face, said his friends, had "an air of austerity"—the sort of "air" a schoolmaster's face has when the rod's in hand—and his temper, they added, was "somewhat hasty." You would think that a man with an "austere face" and a "hasty temper" would find it hard to live day by day with a clerk who got dead drunk night by night. But, after all, let us make the best of things! Richard Orton, when dead drunk, goes quietly to bed and sleeps it off; and next morning, he's ready to write with a firm hand, which the soberest man might envy, a fair copy of the account of last night's "drunken frolic!" Let us thank God that Richard Orton is not worse! When the ship came home, Cook recommended him as "worthy of promotion" to "some place in the Custom-house, or any other public office."
If you wish to understand Cook's mind, note his way of getting seamen to eat sour krout—krout means cabbage. The toughest part of a Captain's job was to prevent seamen from dying from scurvy, a disease caused mainly by lack of fresh food, and especially by lack of vegetables. Now, if you had asked Cook what words he would most like to have cut on his tombstone, he would perhaps have answered:—"Here lies James Cook, who conquered scurvy"; for he was prouder, I think, of his conquest of scurvy than of his discoveries in the South Pacific. Now the best food to conquer scurvy was stuff called sour krout—stuff, which, I imagine, tastes as bad as it sounds. At least the seamen thought so, and no amount of argument could persuade them to take a mouthful. Now observe Cook's plan—a plan which, said he, "I have never known to fail with seamen." He had sour krout dressed every day for the cabin table for the benefit of the officers. As for the seamen, they might take it or leave it, exactly as they liked. In a week there was such a demand for sour krout that it was "necessary to put everyone on board on an allowance; for such are the tempers and disposition of seamen in general that whatever you give them out of the common way—although it be ever so much for their good—will not go down, and you will hear nothing but murmurings against the man that first invented it; but the moment they see their superiors set a value upon it, it becomes the finest stuff in the world, and the inventor an honest fellow."
Cook's words help us to understand the temper and disposition, not only of the seamen, but also of the Captain. We understand that temper and disposition even better when we read what he wrote after a catch of turtles and fish at the Endeavour River:—"Whatever refreshment we got that would bear a division, I caused to be equally divided among the whole company, generally by weight; the meanest person in the ship had an equal share with myself, or any one on board; and this method every commander of a ship, on such a voyage as this, ought ever to observe." When we read these words we have good hopes for the success of the voyage.
One reason why the voyage of the Endeavour makes an interesting story is the fact that the voyagers tell us so much about it.
Captain Cook and several of the officers wrote logs—that is, statements written from day to day, which tell in a few words what has happened—how winds have blown, how sails have been furled and unfurled, and at what rate the ship has travelled. More interesting are the journals written by Captain Cook and Mr. Banks, sometimes written from day to day, sometimes written up after a few days have passed, and sometimes written—when a country like New Zealand or Australia has been visited—during the leisure of the voyage.
Captain Cook's journal was long thought to be lost, and we had only the copies of it written by the clerk, Richard Orton. One of these copies was bought by Mr. F. H. Dangar, who gave it to the Australian Museum in Sydney, where it may now be seen. But recently news came that the journal which Cook himself wrote still existed. In 1923 it was bought by the Government of Australia; and, if you call at the Mitchell Library in Sydney, you can read the words in which Cook described in his own handwriting his stay in Botany Bay, and his view of Port Jackson, as he sailed past. In his journal Cook wrote down at some length, not only what happened, but also what he thought about things; and it is here that we must look if we wish to know, for example, his opinion of New Zealand and of Australia as countries in which Britishers might settle.
Still more interesting is Mr. Banks's journal; for, while Cook wrote to give information to the British Government, Banks wrote to please himself; and everything that came into mind went down red-hot on to the paper, in words written sometimes in such a hurry that he feared he would scarcely understand his own language when he read it again. Yet his writing, even when he wrote in a hurry, is easier to read than the writing of most of us; and very fascinating it is to read a story of adventure written on the day he had lived it. This journal also disappeared, and we had to use a copy of it which had been made. But happily it also reappeared and is now, like Cook's journal, in the Mitchell Library in Sydney.
And in telling the story of the voyage, I shall tell it as it was told by Captain Cook and Mr. Banks in their journals.
They sailed on the 26th of August, 1768, "all in excellent health and spirits," says Banks, "perfectly prepared (in mind at least) to undergo with cheerfulness any fatigues or dangers that may occur." On the 10th of September they "dined in Africa, and took leave of Europe for Heaven knows how long, perhaps for ever"; and the memory of friends made Banks sigh once, but not twice! A second sigh, he says, would have given more pain to the sigher than pleasure to those sighed for. Five precious days he botanised in Madeira. One of them had to be sacrificed to the "unsought honour of an official visit from the Governor"; but Banks revenged himself on His Excellency by sending ashore an electrical machine which "shocked him fully as much as he chose." At the Equator, all who had not crossed before must be ducked, from Cook and Banks to dogs and cats, or must buy off in rum or brandy. At Rio there was trouble, for the Governor declared that Cook was a trader*—foreign traders were not welcomed at Rio—and locked up his sailors in loathsome dungeons on the ground that they were smuggling. Cook's suspicion was that they were "smuggling" the clothes off their own backs for rum. His temper rose, and he and the Governor bombarded one another with "memorials." On Christmas Day they were at sea, and, says Banks, "all good Christians, i.e., all good hands, got abominably drunk, so that all through the night there was scarce a sober man in the ship. Weather, thank God, moderate, or the Lord knows what would have become of us." They took the route round Cape Horn; and, on the East coast of Tierra del Fuego, Banks led a botanical expedition to some distant hills. They were surprised by a snow-blizzard, and had to camp for the night. The two negroes got the rum-bottle, drank every drop, and froze to death. Buchan the artist fell in a fit**; and fat unhappy Solander lay down on the snow, and said he must sleep. But the weather cleared the next day; the survivors reached the ship; and the botanists were supremely happy collecting shells and plants.
[* The Endeavour certainly looked more like a trader than a King's ship.]
[* Buchan died at Tahiti.]
They sailed from Tierra del Fuego on the 21st of January, 1769. They took a course more westerly than was usual, and looked for the great rich and populous continent which, said Dalrymple, must run "but a little way West of the common track"; and indeed they would have run straight on to the continent, had the continent been where Dalrymple said it must be. But they looked in vain. On the 1st of March they were 1680 miles West of Chili, sailing through what ought to have been a continent. But there were no signs of land, nor were there even currents—"a great sign that we have been near no land of any extent, because near land are usually found currents."
On the 13th of April, 1769, they came to anchor at Tahiti, where they were to observe the transit on the 3rd of June. On the night of June 2nd-3rd, "one or other of us was up every half hour to report on the weather." It was sometimes "clear," sometimes "hazy." But "the sun rose as clear and bright as we could wish him." "There was not so much as a cloud intervening," says Cook. "We very distinctly saw an atmosphere or dusky shade round the body of the planet."* Captain Cook and Mr. Green had done the duty which, half a century before, Mr. Halley had committed to their care. British astronomers, with up-to-date 18th Century telescopes of two-feet focus, had carried on the study which Jeremiah Horrocks had begun with his half-crown telescope that Sunday 130 years before.
[* Mr. Gale tells me that the "dusky shade" prevented Cook from making the observation as exactly as was desired. The chief aim was to determine the distance of the earth from the sun, and the "dusky shade" threw out the calculations—which were not completed till 1824—by a few million miles. The observations of the next transits—in 1874 and 1882—were also spoilt by the "dusky shade."]
Meanwhile Banks was having the time of his life. He was in love with the beautiful island, and with everything and everybody in it. It was not only the "very pretty girl with a fire in her eyes." The men were only less charming than the women. Banks gave them the names of famous Greeks and Romans—Lycurgus (his real name was Toobouratomital), Hercules, and Epicurus, who "ate most monstrously." One would like to know how monstrously Epicurus ate; for a small eater, says Banks, would make an end of three bread-fruits (each bigger than two fists), two or three fish, 14 or 15 bananas (each six to nine inches long, and four or five round), and then "conclude his dinner with about a quart of food as substantial as the thickest unbaked custard." They, in return, named their visitors as they pleased. Cook became "Toote," Solander "Torana," Banks "Tapane," and they drank the health of King George under the name of "Kilnargo." With their new friends the English kept perpetual holiday. Even their one fault added to gaiety. They were thieves, but they were thieves of a cleverness that turned thieving into miracle. If ever a man slept with one eye open, that man was Cook; yet they stole his stockings, he says, "from under my head, and yet I am certain I was not asleep the whole time." Banks was chief thief-catcher; and very seriously and very happily he played the game: "away we set at full cry, very much like a pack of foxhounds; we ran and walked and walked and ran, for, I believe, six miles"—to find that, very early in the chase, the criminal had turned aside to take a quiet bath in a brook.
But Banks was a man of science as well as a man of pleasure; and nothing done by men, animals, fishes or plants was uninteresting to his mind. With great vigour and with great happiness he studied Nature in all its forms. In company with Surgeon Monkhouse—fat Solander this time wisely left behind—he had a long day's walk inland, past the hill slopes planted with bread-fruit trees, past the last of the houses whose owners refreshed them with cocoanuts, up among steep rocks and cascades, where long strips of bark served as ropes by which to scramble from ledge to ledge, though even on the ledges none but goats or Indians could stand. For minerals Banks looked in vain. But he observed that "the stones everywhere showed manifest signs of having been at some time or other burnt." His guess was that the island had been thrown up by a volcano, now extinct. And, to comfort those who believed in the continent, over part of which Cook had sailed, he suggested that perhaps it had been "sunk by dreadful earthquakes and volcanoes two or three thousand fathoms under the sea, the tops of the mountains only remaining clear above the waters in the shape of islands."
But men are even more interesting than Nature; and Banks studied them in his usual thorough way. The best plan, he thought, was "to act a character." "I was prepared," he explains, "by stripping off my European clothes, and putting on a small strip of cloth round my waist, the only garment I was allowed to have. They then began to smut me and themselves with charcoal and water, the Indian boy was completely black, the women and myself as low as our shoulders; we then set out." He gives a lively account of the ceremony, and of "the surprise of our friends" at the Fort. The end was "we went into the river and scrubbed one another until it was dark before the blacking came off." Better fun and better science than the blockhead's "grand tour" in weary old Europe!
On the 13th of July, 1769, they sailed from Tahiti. With them sailed a native named Tupia, "a most proper man, well-born, chief Tahowa or priest of this island." Banks had added him to his "suite." "Thank Heaven," he says, "I have a sufficiency, and I do not know why I may not keep him as a curiosity as my neighbours do lions and tigers." The pious priest often prayed for a wind, and boasted of the success of his prayers, which, adds Banks, he "never began till he perceived a breeze so near the ship that it generally reached him before his prayer was finished." Under the guidance of Tupia and his winds, Cook visited the neighbouring islands, annexed them, and named the group "the Society Isles," because "they lay contiguous to one another." Then, on the 9th of August, 1769, they "launched out into the ocean in search of what chance or Tupia might direct us to."
Cook's next job, according to the instructions given him, was to plunge South in search of the continent, whose coast, said Dalrymple, must be not far away from Tahiti. He plunged South 1500 miles to 40°, where he should, according to Dalrymple, have been in the middle of a continent as big as Asia. But he could see "not the least visible sign of land"; and the most that Banks could see was some seaweed and a seal. Cook had meant to sail even further Southward; but the weather grew so tempestuous that he thought it wise to sail Northward into better climate. No doubt there might be a continent further South; and, if there was a continent, it would not be Cook's fault if he did not find it sometime. But there was no chance to look for it now.
For what he had to do next, according to his instructions, was to make for the strip of coast which Tasman had discovered 127 years before, and which had been called New Zealand. Tasman had believed that this strip of coast was the Western edge of the unknown Continent; and this was still the belief, not only of Dalrymple, but also, says Banks, of "most thoughtful people," including Banks himself. This question at least could be settled. So Cook sailed South-West for New Zealand.
On the 7th October young Nick sang out from the mast-head that he saw land, and Cook named the point "Young Nick's Head." He sailed into a bay which he named "Poverty Bay," "because it afforded us no one thing we wanted"—a very bad name, say New Zealanders, who have found in it a great deal that they want.* Natives appeared in canoes; and Cook, wishing to capture them and gain their friendship, fired over their heads. He expected them, it seems, to jump overboard and surrender. It was not a wise way of seeking friendship, though it might possibly have succeeded in Tahiti. Instead of surrendering, the Maoris took their arms, and attacked with such ferocity that the Englishmen had to kill two or three to save their own lives. Cook admits that he had made a bad mistake; but one cannot consent, he adds, to be knocked on the head.
[* The fact is that the voyagers, in fear of the natives, were "always upon the same spot." They took only one walk, which led then to a swamp.]
Sketch from Dalrymple's Map
Then he sailed South, past the great bay which he called Hawke's Bay after the First Lord of the Admiralty. He followed the coast to Latitude 40° 34'; and then, "seeing no likelihood of meeting with a harbour, and the face of the country visibly altering for the worse," he decided that his time would be better spent by examining the coast to the Northward. He gave Cape Turnagain its name "because here we returned." Sailing North, he rounded East Cape, visited the "Bay of Plenty," observed the transit of Mercury in Mercury Bay, explored a "very fine river" which he named the Thames, because it was as "broad as the Thames at Greenwich," anchored in the Bay of Islands, and, rounding Cape Maria Van Diemen and the Three Kings, proved that Tasman had been right when he had claimed the discovery of a sea-way to Chili. Off the Three Kings the sailors celebrated their second Christmas "in the old-fashioned way," ate goose pie, and "in the evening all hands were as drunk as our forefathers used to be on like occasions."
Then Cook sailed down the West Coast, charting its features with "a mingled audacity and caution" that are greatly admired by the modern chart-maker. "Never," says Admiral Wharton, "has a coast been so well laid down by a first explorer." He passed the islands which screen Auckland with the remark that they probably "formed some good harbours." He noted the noblest hill he had ever seen, and named it Mount Egmont. Then he came to a "very broad and deep bay or inlet, the Southern side of which seemed to form several bays." Into one of these bays he determined to go, in order to careen the ship and to obtain refreshment. He sailed up an inlet which he named Queen Charlotte Sound, and anchored in "a very snug cove," which he named Ship Cove. He calculated that Tasman's Murderers' Bay was fifteen miles away; in reality it was seventy miles away. The natives heaved a few stones, but became friendly after conversation with Tupia. They had no tradition of Tasman's visit; and, in fact, the tribe which had murdered the Dutchmen in 1642 had itself been murdered long before 1770.
The next business was to find whether Tasman and his Pilot had been right when they had thought that the currents in the bay made it probable that it was the entrance to a passage. Cook thought so too; and he proved that they and he were right. While Banks and Solander were botanising, he "climbed to the top of a hill, and in about an hour returned in high spirits, having seen the Eastern Sea and satisfied himself of the existence of a strait communicating with it." An old native told him further that the land South of the passage was not a continent, but consisted of two islands that might be circumnavigated in a few days. On the 7th of February, 1770, he sailed through "our new straits"—which, says Banks, "are to be called Cook's Straits"—feeling "the force of the tide which roared like a mill-stream and ran at four knots when it flowed fastest." Some of the officers still thought it possible that the land they had now three-quarters circumnavigated might nevertheless be united to a continent by an isthmus somewhere between Cook's Straits and Cape Turnagain. To settle this question, Cook sailed North till Cape Turnagain was seen from the South. "I then," says Cook, "called the officers upon the deck, and asked them if they were now satisfied that this land was an island, to which they answered in the affirmative."
It remained to be seen whether the land to the South was also, as the old man had told them, no part of a continent, but two islands that might be circumnavigated in a few days. They sailed Southward; and Banks who, though he had his doubts, was an enthusiastic "continent-monger," noted with regret that "the land inclined a good deal to the West." "We on board," he writes, "were of two parties, one who wished that the land in sight might, the other that it might not, be a continent. I myself have always been most firm in the former wish, though sorry I am that my party is so small, that I firmly believe that there are none more heartily desirous of it than myself and one poor midshipman; the rest begin to sigh for roast beef"; an accusation marvellously unjust to Cook, to whom discovery was meat and drink, and who would have preferred a continent, and indeed something very much smaller, to all the roast beef of Old England.
By the 10th of March, it had become evident "much to the regret of us continent-mongers," that the coast was falling away to an end. They supposed Stewart Island to be a peninsula, and were carried round a point "to the total destruction of our aerial fabric called Continent." They coasted Northward, noting "steep hills covered with prodigious fine woods," a beautiful and fertile country, yet without the smallest sign of inhabitants. On the 25th of March, they were once more in the western entrance of Cook's Straits, and two days later anchored in a bay which was called "Admiralty Bay." Cook noticed another bay to his Westward, which he did not explore. He called it "Blind Bay," and believed that it was Tasman's Murderers' Bay. And he was nearly right. Murderers' Bay is a small bay in the North-West of Cook's Blind Bay.
The search for Dalrymple's continent had come to an end. Cook had sailed over it, East, North and West. He had proved that it came nowhere near Chili, nowhere near Tahiti, nowhere near New Zealand. This was a disappointment for "continent-mongers." Yet there was consolation for sensible people. For New Zealand, though not part of a golden continent, was a group of islands, beautiful and fertile, fit in all ways to be the happy home of British colonists. Both Cook and Banks write with high praise of the richness of the soil, shown by the growth of trees, the straightest, the cleanest, the largest, Banks had ever seen, of timber "fit for any kind of buildings, and thick enough to make masts for vessels of any size." "It was the opinion of everyone on board," wrote Cook, "that all sorts of European grain, fruit, plants, etc., would thrive here; in short, was this country settled by an industrious people, they would very soon be supplied not only with necessaries, but many of the luxuries of life. Should it ever become an object of settling this country, the best plan for the first fixing of a colony would be either in the River Thames or the Bay of Islands." Both these places have good harbours. In the River Thames ships might be built, and settlements might easily extend inland. Banks also votes for the River Thames, as "in every respect the most proper place we have yet seen for establishing a colony."
To some visitors it might have seemed that a strong reason against any plan to establish a colony in New Zealand was the manners and customs of the Maoris. This is Cook's description of the welcome they gave him:—"As soon as they came within a stone's throw of the ship, they would call out—'Haromoi harenta a patoo ago!' that is, 'come here, come ashore to us and we will kill you with our patoo patoos!"* They regard foreigners as enemies, he explains, kill them all if they can, and then eat them! Very unpleasant neighbours, some people would have thought. But Cook took a kindlier view. "It does not appear to me at all difficult," he says, "to form a settlement in this country." He took the Maori yells as calmly as we take the yells of New Zealand footballers. Cannibals, he explains, may be quite pleasant people to live with, if you take care not to be eaten by them. And there is no need to be eaten by them. The Maoris, in spite of a few bad habits, are "a brave, open and warlike people, and void of treachery." Show them, firstly, that you are stronger than they, and secondly, that you don't mean to use your strength to hurt them, and they ever after are "your very good friends."
[* Banks writes:—"Their words were almost universally the same-'Haromai haromai, harre uta a patoo-patoo oge.' 'Come to us, come to us, come but ashore with us, and we will kill you with our patoo-patoos.'" In the Australian Museum, Sydney, you may see some of the patoo-patoos Cook brought home from New Zealand.]
So New Zealand is an excellent place for a colony. "After displaying the English colours," wrote Cook, "I took formal possession of the place in the name of His Majesty." Indeed our wonder must be that colonisation was so long delayed.
Cook's "instructions" said that he was to return to England either by way of Cape Horn, or by way of the Cape of Good Hope. There was no suggestion that he might return by way of the East coast of New Holland. But Cook was allowed to think things out for himself, and was free "to return to England by such route as I should think proper." He would have liked to return by way of Cape Horn, to settle the question whether there was a continent further down South than he had sailed this voyage. But sails and rigging, says Banks, had been rendered so bad by the blowing weather off New Zealand, that we were by no means in condition to face the hard gales which must be expected in a winter passage so far South. It would have been easy enough to sail home by way of the Cape; but there would have been no chance by that way to make discoveries. They had still on board six months' provisions at two-thirds allowance; and that was enough to allow them to go home by another way, a way by which no ship had ever yet sailed, and which was bound to lead them to very interesting discoveries. "It was resolved," says Cook ,"upon leaving this coast to steer to the Westward until we fall in with the East coast of New Holland, and then to follow the direction Northward, or whatever direction it might take us, until we arrive at its Northern extremity; or, if this should be found impracticable, then to endeavour to fall in with the land or islands discovered by Quiros"—that is our New Hebrides.
Remember that when Cook wrote this, all he knew about the East Coast of New Holland was what was drawn on Tasman's map, together with the statement of a Spaniard, who had written 150 years before, that Torres had sailed along the South of New Guinea. Of what lay between Van Diemen's Land and New Guinea Cook knew no more than Tasman had known; that is to say he knew nothing whatever. What he hoped to do was to fill in the great gap; and he had not the least idea what his discoveries would look like when put upon the map.*
[* See Dalrymple's map.]
The first thing, therefore, was to fall in with Van Diemen's Land as near as possible to the place where Tasman had left it when he had sailed from Van Diemen's Land to New Zealand. So on the 1st of April, 1770, Cook sailed Westward from the cape which Tasman had seen when he had arrived in New Zealand, a cape which Cook, leaving New Zealand, called Cape Farewell. What he meant to do was to sail Westward till he came to the point in Van Diemen's Land whence Tasman had sailed East. Unluckily he got a bit too far to the North. Banks—who always must have his joke—chaffed Cook that the ship was drawn that way by the distant scent of English roast beef. But, as Cook explained, when you're in a sailing ship, you can't go precisely the way you wish to go—not even if you've Mr. Joseph Banks on board. Cook was, in fact, aiming as well as he could at the point of Tasman's departure, and he had a good chance of hitting it. On the 18th of April he was sailing on a course which would probably have enabled him to link his discoveries with Tasman's, or at least would have made him the discoverer of Bass's Strait. But on that day Cook records—"Winds Southerly, a hard gale with heavy squalls attended with showers of rain, and a great sea from the same quarter." Before the Southerly gale he ran, with the result that Bass's Strait remained undiscovered till 1798. At daylight on the 20th of April, Lieutenant Hicks saw land, "sloping hills covered in part with trees and bushes, but interspersed with large tracts of sand." Cook named the land "Point Hicks." They could see no land to the South. Van Diemen's Land ought to be there, and "the soon falling of the sea after the wind abated" seemed to prove that it was there. But the coast "trended South-West, or rather more to the Westward," and this made Cook "doubtful whether they are one land or no. However," he said, "everyone who compares this journal with that of Tasman will be as good judge as I am."
From Point Hicks Cook sailed North, looking for a harbour. On the 22nd of April, he noted Bateman's Bay as a place "very little sheltered, and yet the only likely anchoring place I have yet seen on the coast." Next day he vainly sought an anchorage in the neighbourhood of "the Pigeon House." On the 26th he noted that Jervis Bay appeared to be sheltered from the North-East wind; but the appearance was not favourable enough to induce him to "lose time in beating up to it." On the same day Banks compared the country to "the back of a lean cow, covered in general with long hairs, but, nevertheless, where her scraggy hip bones have stuck out further than they ought, accidental rubs and knocks have entirely bared them of their share of covering." On the 28th they tried to land in the yawl at some place near Wollongong, but they were prevented by "the great surf which beat everywhere upon the shore." Banks had to be content to "gaze upon, the products of nature" in one of the most lovely and fertile regions of Australia.
Next morning, the 29th of April, "the land appeared different, barren, without wood." But "at daylight," writes Cook, "we discovered a bay which appeared to be tolerably well sheltered from all winds, into which I resolved to go with the ship." As they approached the South Head, a small smoke rose from a very barren and rocky place; and, directing their glasses that way, they saw ten "Indians," who soon left the fire and "retired to a little eminence, whence they could conveniently see the ship." Cook sent the master in the pinnace to sound the entrance. Some of the Indians followed; and, coming down to a cove a little within the harbour, "invited our people to land by many signs and words." It was observed, however, that they were "armed with long pikes and a wooden weapon made like a short scimitar"—in fact it was a throwing stick for the pike. Meanwhile other Indians remained on the rocks opposite the ship. The bodies of some were painted with broad white strokes, resembling a cross-belt, garters and bracelets.
By noon the Endeavour was "within the mouth of the inlet." Natives were seen on both heads of the bay. Under the South Head were four small canoes, "the worst canoes," says Cook, "I ever saw, made of one piece of bark, drawn or tied up at one end, with the middle kept open by a stick." In each canoe was a man "who held in his hand a long pole, with which he struck fish, venturing with his little embarkation almost into the surf. These people seemed to be totally engaged in what they were about; the ship passed within a quarter of a mile of them, and yet they scarcely lifted their eyes." At 2 p.m. the Endeavour anchored under the South Shore, abreast of a small village of six or eight houses. An old woman came in from the bush with some sticks. She looked at the ship, but expressed neither surprise nor concern, and lit a fire. The fishermen landed and dressed their dinner, totally unmoved by the sight of the ship about half a mile away. The Englishmen also dined, and then manned the boats. "But, as soon as we approached the rocks, two of the men came down, each armed with a lance about ten feet long, and a short stick, which he seemed to handle as if it was a machine to throw the lance." They showed themselves "resolved to dispute our landing to their utmost, though they were but two, and we thirty or forty." A parley of a quarter of an hour was fruitless. The Indians "remained resolute." Muskets with small shots were fired, lances were thrown, and the two defenders of Australia ran away. The Englishmen went to the "houses," threw beads and ribbons to the children, and took away some forty or fifty lances.
Landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay
Cook's chief wish was for water. He dug in the sand, and found a little. He crossed to the North side, but found only some pools on the rocks. He returned to his diggings in the South, "by which means and a small stream they found fresh water sufficient to water the ship." "A very fine stream" was afterwards found on the North Shore "in the first sandy cove within the island, before which the ship might lie almost land-locked, and wood for fuel might be got everywhere."
On the 2nd of May a party of ten explored the South Shore, and "walked," says Banks, "till we completely tired ourselves." The country, he notes, "consists of either swamps or light sandy soil," and its products are gum trees, and "vast quantities of grass." Cook's impressions were more favourable. The country, he says, was "diversified with woods, lawns and marshes. The woods are free from underwood of every kind, and the trees are at such a distance from one another, that the whole country, or at least a great part of it, might be cultivated without being obliged to cut down a single tree. We found the soil everywhere, except in the marshes, to be of a light white sand, and produceth a quantity of good grass, which grows in little tufts about as big as one can hold in one's hand, and pretty close to one another; in this manner the surface of the ground is coated." James Cook, the farm-labourer's boy, knew far more about agriculture than I do. But may I ask, is "light white sand" particularly suitable for "cultivation"? In fact, no cultivators have yet tried the experiment; and the "light white sand" still remains unfurrowed and undug a few miles away from a population of nearly a million. I understand, however, that there are horses in the bush who agree with Cook that the grass which it produceth is "good."
On the 4th of May, while Banks gave the day to drying his "collection of plants, now grown immensely large," Cook went in the pinnace "to the head of the bay; after which," he says, "we took water and went almost to the head of the inlet." Here he landed and travelled some distance inland. The country was as before, but "much richer"; for "instead of sand," writes Cook, "I found in many places a deep black soil, which we thought was capable of producing any kind of grain. At present it produceth, besides timber, as fine meadow as ever was seen; however, we found it not all like this, some places were very rocky, but this I believe to be uncommon. The stone is sandy and very proper for building."
Where was the meadow which Cook thought "as fine meadow as ever was seen"? When, eighteen years later, colonists came to Botany Bay, they looked everywhere for such a "meadow," and failed to find it; and very angry they were with Cook for telling such a lie, or for making such a mistake. But James Cook could no more tell a lie than could George Washington. And he always described what he saw, or thought he saw, in a very careful way. Captain Tench (in 1790) thought that Cook's "fine meadow" was the bog at the mouth of our Cook's River, up which Cook rowed to a point near Tempe railway station. "These meadows," says Captain Tench, "instead of grass, are covered with high coarse rushes growing in a rotten spongy bog into which we were plunged knee-deep at every step." I used to agree with Captain Tench that Cook had probably made the mistake of thinking that a spongy bog was a fine meadow. But I think that Mr. C. H. Bertie has shown this view to be wrong. In the first place it is hard to believe that an observer like Cook could make such a mistake. And, in the second place, other passages in Cook's journal seem to show that, when he wrote "head of the bay," he meant that part of the head you reach by rowing up the South Shore; and that the inlet up which he rowed afterwards was our George's River—though in truth, he rowed up that river, not "almost to its head," but only about as far as Tom Ugly's Point, which he drew very badly! We cannot say with certainty, exactly where the meadow was. But I agree with Mr. Bertie that the best guess is that it was the good soil near Sans Souci. It was up George's River that Captain King, eighteen years later, noticed "an exceedingly fine black mould, with some excellent timber trees, and very rich grass." And it seems curious that Captain Tench did not guess that "very rich grass" was more likely to be Cook's "meadow" than was a "rotten spongy bog."
On the afternoon of the 5th, Cook crossed to the North Shore, and walked three or four miles towards the future site of Sydney. "We met with nothing remarkable," he says; "great part of the country, for some distance inland from the sea coast is mostly a barren heath diversified with marshes and morasses." One may to-day take Cook's afternoon walk, and still find "a barren heath diversified with marshes and morasses," though a suburb is at last on its fringe. It is a lovely bush walk, on the side of still lovelier coastal scenery. But Cook was thinking, not of scenery, but of commerce and colonies; and the Sydney side showed "nothing remarkable."
What name shall we give to this bay, so "capacious, safe and commodious?" Two things had seemed specially remarkable, the fish and the wild-flowers. Shall we name it after its stingrays, or after its botany? The stingrays seemed likely to win. The-seamen's journals are full of praise of their number and of their size. But, though Banks ate stingrays with reasonable appetite—"a stingray," he says, "was not quite so good as a skate, nor was it much inferior,"—he was far more excited about his collection of plants, now grown so immensely large that it had become necessary to take extraordinary care lest they should spoil in the books. One day, he says, he "carried ashore all the drying paper, nearly two hundred quires, of which the greater part was full, and spreading them upon a sail in the sun, kept them in this manner exposed the whole day, and sometimes turning the quires in which there were plants inside out. By this means they came on board at night in very good condition." They are still in very good condition, in spite of a bad soaking in the Endeavour River, and some of them are now in the Mitchell Library in Sydney, a few miles from the spot where they were gathered a century and a half ago. No wonder if Banks began to think them more worthy than a 336 lbs. stingray to give name to the bay.
But the evening before Cook sailed, "the yawl"—so he tells the story—"returned from fishing, having caught two stingrays weighing near 600 lbs.," and they had a jolly good supper. The time had come to name the bay, and after such a supper, what name could be given but "Stingray Harbour? "And that name was given. "The great quantity of this sort of fish found in this place," wrote Cook in his journal, "occasioned my giving it the name of Stingray Harbour." And whenever, in the course of his voyage up North, he mentioned the bay, he always called it "Stingray Harbour."
But before the Endeavour reached Batavia, Cook decided to change the name. If you look at the page of his journal which is printed here, you will find that he drew his pen through "this sort of fish" and "Stingray Harbour," and made such corrections that the sentence became—"The great quantity of new plants, etc., Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander collected occasioned my giving it the name of Botanist (corrected to Botany) Bay."
Facsimile of passage in Cook's Journal
Cook often changed the names he had given to places when better names came into mind And, in this case we can easily imagine how the change was made. Banks had spent his last day in the bay collecting, not stingrays, but "specimens of as many things as we possibly could, to be examined at sea." As, day by day, the plants were examined, and as the botanists came to understand how "new" and how wonderful they were, it seemed to them a shocking thing that the bay should be named after a gigantic fish, eaten weeks ago! "My dear Captain," said Mr. Banks, "the thing's absurd! You should have named it Botanist Bay." "Well," answered the Captain, "we had a very good supper, you know. You'll remember that third helping! However, hand me the journal. Botanist Bay, you said, I think. No? You think Botany sounds better? Well, there now, the thing's done—Botany Bay!"
The week's visit to Botany Bay fixed the site of the first British colony in the Pacific. In 1779 Banks was examined by a committee of the House of Commons that had been appointed to consider the question, what shall we do with our convicts? If it was thought expedient to establish a colony of convicted felons in a distant part whence escape would be difficult, and where, from the fertility of the soil, they might be enabled to maintain themselves after the first year with little or no help from England, what place did Mr. Banks think best? His answer was—"Botany Bay!" The seven months' voyage, he said, would make escape very difficult. The natives were few and cowardly. The climate was like that of the South of France. "The proportion of rich soil was small in comparison to the barren, but was sufficient to support a very large number of people." There were no beasts of prey, and sheep and oxen would thrive. There was fish in plenty. The grass was long and luxuriant. There were eatable vegetables. The country was well supplied with water. There was abundant timber for fuel and for buildings. The convicts would need one years provisions, but "afterwards with a moderate portion of industry might undoubtedly maintain themselves without assistance from England." They would buy goods from England, and send goods to England. Banks's testimony was the main cause of the choice of Botany Bay as the site of the colony. And when the colony was founded, and, after a time of desperate misery, began to prosper, he said that be had always known that this would happen. "The climate and soil," he wrote in 1797, "are in my opinion superior to most that have been settled by Europeans. I have always maintained that assertion, grounded on my own experience."
After reading these words, we turn with interest to Banks's account of his week at Botany Bay, and expect to find some glowing picture of the place which had impressed his mind so favourably. We are disappointed and even amazed! Not one word is there to suggest that, as he walked himself tired over the light sandy soil of the South Shore, tramped the sandy moors of the North, or looked for shells on Bare Island, he was dreaming of a British colony on "soil superior to most that have been settled by Europeans." He had described Tahiti as "an Arcadia." He had recommended the River Thames in New Zealand as "the most proper place we have yet seen for establishing a colony." But he has no such words of praise for Botany Bay. Reading his journal, we get the impression that he thought Botany Bay to be a very good place for botanists, and a very bad place for colonists. And, if he thought that, he thought right.
The curious thing is that, while Banks, the enthusiast, has no word of praise for anything in Botany Bay except its botany, Cook, the cautious, has praise for nearly everything. It is Cook who describes the bay as "capacious, safe and commodious," and who points to "the very fine stream" on the North Shore, in a place where "a ship might lie almost land-locked." It is Cook who says that the country might be cultivated without the cutting down of a single tree. It is Cook who found at the head of the inlet "a deep black soil capable of producing any kind of grain," and that did produce "as fine meadow as ever was seen." It is Cook again who notes that "the stone is sandy and very proper for building." In short it is Cook who thought that Botany Bay would be a good place for a settlement. One may guess that his conversation impressed his friends, and among them Banks. Banks's recommendation of Botany Bay as a place of settlement leaves me puzzled. But we may note, in partial explanation, that, while it receives no support from his own journal, it receives fairly good support from Cook's.
And Cook was wrong. Botany Bay is "capacious" enough, and seamen say that it is "safe," though sometimes uncomfortable. But no one since Cook has ever said that, for settlers, it is "commodious." When, eighteen years later, Governor Phillip sailed into the bay with his seven hundred convict colonists, he found that there was no shelter from the East winds, and that the greater part was so shoal that ships of even a moderate draught of water were obliged to anchor with the entrance of the bay open, "exposed to a heavy sea that rolls in when it blows hard from the Eastward."* "I did not see any site," he wrote, "to which there was not strong objection." The "very fine stream" on the North Shore was observed, and La Perouse must have used it when he anchored by that shore a week later. But to Phillip it seemed that the least bad of all bad places was near Point Sutherland, where there was a small run of good water, though in very insufficient quantity, and in a place which the ships could not approach. The "light sandy soil," that might so easily be cultivated, still remains uncultivated. Angry colonists searched in vain for "the fine meadows talked of in Cook's voyage." "I could never see them," writes Surgeon White, "though I took some pains to find them out; nor have I ever heard of a person that has seen any part resembling them." In George's River, at the head of the bay, "several good situations offered," wrote Phillip, "for a small number of people, but none that appeared calculated for our numbers," and "the swamps rendered the most eligible situation unhealthy." It was true that there was plenty of good stone, but the colonists were asking, not for stone, but for bread. Botany Bay proved to be, as a London writer summed up the news, "picturesque and pleasing to philosophers." It is, however, fair to remember that Cook was not thinking of a colony of convicts, and that he never promised that they would be able to maintain themselves after one year without help from England.
[* On the other hand, seamen say that it seldom does blow from the Eastward.]
Cook sailed from Botany Bay at daylight on the 7th of May. At noon they were two or three miles from land, and "abreast of a bay wherein there appeared to be safe anchorage." Cook called the bay "Port Jackson," in honour of a Secretary of the Admiralty whose name had already been given to a bay in New Zealand. Banks does not mention a bay, but he remarks that the coast "appeared broken and likely for harbours." Eighteen years later Governor Phillip, exploring the coast for some harbour less bad than Botany Bay, came to Port Jackson, saw in a flash of an eye that it was "the finest harbour in the world," and dumped his convicts down on the banks of Sydney Cove, five miles from the heads. Cook, who sailed two or three miles from land, could see only a little way into the harbour, but his chart, says Admiral Wharton, "gives the shape of what he could see very accurately."*
[* Captain Bayldon writes:—"Cook saw considerably more of the harbour than he is generally credited with. His chart shows all that could be seen from seaward; namely, North Harbour practically to Manly, the entrance to Middle Harbour, and the main or southern harbour to a line drawn from Inner South Head across to Chowder Head. He saw that it was a fine enough harbour to name after one of his most influential friends, Sir G. Jackson, who surely would not have been pleased had he named only a small anchorage after him."]
Next day he saw "some broken land" that appeared to form a bay, which he named "Broken Bay"—the splendid entrance to a river which a famous visitor thought more beautiful than the Rhine.* On the 11th Cook saw "a small round rock or island lying close under the land"; it was Nobby Head at the entrance to Newcastle Harbour. Next day he noted an inlet which he named "Port Stephens," which appeared to him, as he looked from the mast-head, to be sheltered from all winds. He described the land Northward from Botany Bay as "diversified with an agreeable variety of hills, ridges and valleys and large plains all clothed with woods."
[* On his map, says Captain Bayldon, Cook wrote "Broken Bay" on the coast about Narrabeen; but this was one of his few slips. His words show that what he saw was our Broken Bay, the entrance to the Hawkesbury.]
On the 16th he saw a "wide open bay," which he named "Morton Bay." Banks thought there must be a river at the back of it, because the sea looked paler than usual; but Cook thought this appearance was explained by the fine white sandy bottom. "Be this as it may," he writes, "it was a point which could not be cleared up, as we had the wind; but, should anyone be desirous of doing it that may come after me, this place may always be found by three hills which lay to the Northward of it";—he named them the "Glass Houses." The land was sandy, and had no signs of fertility. With these words Cook passed the bay into which flows the river on which Brisbane stands. On the 23rd he anchored in "a large open bay," where he found "room for a few ships to lay very secure, and a small stream of fresh water." They killed a bustard, and named the place "Bustard Bay." The country was visibly worse than Botany Bay. Banks noticed some tropical plants, "sure mark that we were on the point of leaving the Southern temperate zone." Some ants noticed him, and bit more sharply than any he had felt in Europe.
Northward from Bustard Bay, "the coast is encumbered with shoals," and Cook kept outside them. Hence he passed Port Curtis without observation. Among islands and reefs he groped into "Thirsty Sound," so named "by reason we could find no fresh water." The land was again bad; "no sign of fertility was to be seen." After two days' stay, Cook sailed through a sea "so strewed with dangers" that our modern chart-maker is amazed that he "managed to keep his ship off the ground." He had sailed so close to the land that he was not aware of the Great Barrier Reef, which now began to near the coast.* At sunset on the 11th of June he saw the first coral shoal. He decided "to stretch off all night, as well to avoid the dangers we saw ahead, as to see if any islands lay in the offing, especially as we now began to draw near the Latitude of those discovered by Quiros, which some geographers, for what reason I know not, have thought proper to tack to this land." It was possible that he might see Austrialia of the Holy Spirit—the New Hebrides.
[* Modern sailing ships, making from Brisbane to Torres Straits, sail outside the Barrier Reef. It is not safe even now to sail the way Cook sailed. The modern steamer takes a course inside the Barrier Reef that has been carefully marked.]
It was a clear moonlight night, and he sailed with a fine breeze of wind. The water deepened from twelve fathoms to twenty-one, and then suddenly fell to twelve, ten, eight. Cook ordered all to their stations, and prepared to anchor. But again they had twenty and twenty-one fathoms, and continued in that depth until a few minutes before 11 p.m., when they had seventeen;—and, before the man at the lead could heave another cast, the ship struck. Banks, thinking the danger past, had gone to bed in perfect security; but, he writes, "scarcely were we warm in our beds when we were called up with the alarming news of the ship being fast upon a rock, of which she in a few minutes convinced us by beating very violently against it. We were upon sunken coral rocks, the most dreadful of all on account of their sharp points and grinding quality, which cut through, the ship's bottom almost immediately."
Cook had, as usual, undressed and gone to bed; and he was probably, as usual when in bed, sound asleep. But he "was upon deck in his drawers as the second blow was struck, and gave his orders with his wonted coolness and precision"—so Banks long afterwards told the story to a famous statesman, the son of an old school-mate. The ship had struck "about the top of high water" at 11 p.m. The hope was to get her off at the next high tide. They threw overboard guns, ballast, casks, hoop-staves, decayed stores—forty or fifty tons—but the ship was not afloat by a foot or more. The tide again ebbed, and again rose, and the leak gained upon the pumps. "It was," writes Cook in careful language, "an alarming and terrible circumstance, and threatened immediate destruction." Banks despaired of the ship, packed what might possibly be saved, and prepared for the worst. The only hope now was to haul on the anchors. Yet, if the ship were got off the rocks, the leak would be still bigger, and the end would come at once. The land could be seen eighteen or twenty-one miles away. But "we well knew," writes Banks, "that our boats were not capable of carrying us all ashore, so that some, probably most of us, must be drowned; a better fate, may be, than those would have who should get ashore without arms to defend themselves from the Indians, or provide themselves with food, in a country where we had not the least reason to hope for subsistence, so barren had we always found it; and, had they even met with good usage from the natives and food to support them, debarred from the hope of ever seeing again their native country, or conversing with any but savages, perhaps the most uncivilised in the world."
But the danger had to be faced. The capstan and windlass were manned, and they began to heave. At 10 p.m. she floated, and was hauled into deep water. To their delight and amazement she leaked no worse than before. By some miracle the desperate peril had passed. The miracle was explained a little later. But for the present we should note that the escape was due, not merely to miracle, but also to character. "In justice to the ship's company," wrote Cook, "I must say that no men ever behaved better than they had done on this occasion; animated by the behaviour of every gentleman on board, every man seemed to have a just sense of the danger we were in, and exerted himself to the utmost." Banks, who had worked with the rest for twenty-four hours till he was "much fatigued," writes in livelier language:—"The seamen worked with surprising cheerfulness and alacrity; no grumbling or growling was to be heard throughout the ship, not even an oath, though the ship was in general as well furnished with them as most in His Majesty's service." Their conduct seemed to Banks, not only admirable, but also somewhat surprising; for, "as soon as a ship is in desperate situation," the seamen, so he had always heard, "commonly begin to plunder and refuse all command." He thought their virtue on this occasion was due to "the cool and steady conduct of the officers, who, during the whole time, never gave an order that did not show them to be perfectly composed and unmoved by the circumstances, however dreadful they might appear." Both officers and gentlemen proved themselves heroes. But let us not miss this opportunity to do justice to the seamen of the Endeavour. They were not wholly heroes. They got drunk whenever they could get drink. They had "tapped" every cask of wine on board, says Banks. They grumbled, and growled and swore. Yet they were at least able to see something heroic in the man who ruled them, and to strive bravely and faithfully in face of appalling danger.
The leak, though less, still gave anxiety, and it was decided to "fother" the ship. Cook gave the job to Midshipman Monkhouse, who had seen the thing done. Banks describes it in detail. A large quantity of finely chopped oakum and wool was loosely stitched to a sail, which was sunk under the ship. The hope was that the oakum and wool would be sucked into the leak, and would close it. The experiment was entirely successful. "In about a quarter of an hour, to our great surprise, the ship was pumped dry, and, upon letting the pumps stand, she was found to make very little water."
The boats were sent to look for a harbour, and returned with good news. They had found the mouth of a river, the entrance of which "was, to be sure, narrow enough and shallow, but, when once in, the ship might be moved afloat so near the shore that, by a stage from her to it, all the cargo might be got out and in again in a short time." Entangled among shoals, Cook cautiously groped towards the opening. Twice in the narrow channel the ship ran ashore. But "by the evening she was moored within twenty feet of the shore, and before night much lumber was taken out of her."
On the 22nd of June, at the place where Cooktown now stands, the Endeavour was beached and examined. It was found that the hole was large enough "to have sunk a ship with twice our pumps. The coral rock had cut through the plank, and deep into one of the timbers, smoothing the gashes before it, so that the whole might easily be imagined to have been cut with an axe." Then the rock had broken off, and had plugged the hole with a stone as big as a man's fist. Hence the miracle that the ship, when hauled off, had not sunk. The sheathing had been torn off, which Cook feared, would "let the worm into her bottom and be of bad consequence." But no thorough repair, no thorough examination even, could now be made. Cook did his best to believe the assurances of the master and the carpenter that no very serious damage had been done. He had to sail his ship to Batavia "through an unknown and perhaps dangerous sea," and he could only hope that she would get there. What repairs were possible were finished by the 26th of June. But they failed to get the ship afloat till the 4th of July; and persistent South-East winds prevented sailing till the 6th of August.
It was a happy month for Banks. He and Solander were already ashore "plant gathering," while the Endeavour was blundering up the channel, and they enjoyed every hour. It was a time of zoological romance. A seaman told Banks that he had seen "an animal about the size of, and much like, a one-gallon cagg. It was," says he, "as black as the devil, and had wings; indeed I took it for the devil, or I might easily have catched it, for it crawled through the grass." In the end Banks concluded that the crawling devil was a large bat; it was what we call a flying fox.
But greatest excitement was caused by news of "an animal as large as a greyhound, of a mouse colour, and very swift." Banks himself got an imperfect view of the strange monster—"he was not only like a greyhound in size and running, but had a tail as long as any greyhound's; what to liken him to I could not tell; nothing that I have seen at all resembles him." Later, the monsters were chased by Banks's dog; "but they beat him, owing to the length and thickness of the grass, which prevented him from running, while they, at every bound leapt over the tops of it. We observed, much to our surprise, that instead of going on all fours, the animal went only upon two legs, making vast bounds." At last Lieutenant Gore, "had the good fortune to kill the animal which had so long been the subject of our speculation. To compare it to any European animal would be impossible, as it had not the least resemblance to any one I have seen." Next day they ate it for dinner, and it proved "excellent meat." Later they spent a day "hunting the wild animal," and killed "a very large one, weighing eighty-four pounds."
The Endeavour in Endeavour River
Banks saw many other remarkable things. The nests of white ants reminded him of Druidical monuments. The pinnace brought back cockles so large that one of them contained twenty pounds of meat, more than two men could eat. The coxswain, who was a little man, said that he had seen a shell so large that he had been able to get inside it. Cocoa-nuts were picked up crested with barnacles;—"a sure sign that they have come by sea," probably from the land discovered by Quiros—our New Hebrides. How far that land lay to Eastward Cook thought it hard to say. But at all events he had, so he claimed made it "morally certain" that Quiros "never was upon any portion of this coast." He did not know that, the year before, Bougainville had made the same thing absolutely certain by sailing from the land of Quiros to the reefs off New Holland.
One day Banks and Lieutenant Gore walked a good way up the river, and Banks made the most favourable remark that he ever made about any part of Australia. The country, he said, was "generally low, thickly covered with long grass, and seemed to promise great fertility, were the people to plant and improve it." They camped for the night on the banks of the river, and made a fire; but the mosquitoes "followed us into the very smoke, nay almost into the fire, which, hot as the climate was, we could better bear the heat of than their intolerable stings." Next day they hunted "the animal," and camped at night on a broad sand-bank, lying on plaintain leaves under the shade of a bush. The mosquitoes did not trouble, and the weary were at rest—"all of us slept almost without intermission." They returned to the ship next day, shooting some ducks, and observing a seven-foot alligator crawl from the mangroves into the water.
It was in the Endeavour River that the Englishmen made their only successful attempt to become acquainted with the natives. At Botany Bay these had remained sullenly hostile. At Bustard Bay and Thirsty Sound none had been seen. But at Endeavour River a very precarious friendship was established. For, though the natives showed no interest in the Englishmen's toys, they showed a very deep interest in the turtles which the Englishmen caught on the reef. They came on board ship and asked for one, and when their request was refused—it was their reef, and therefore it was their turtle—they began to haul it away. And, when the unjust Englishmen took it from them, they started a bush-fire, which all but consumed Banks's tent. "I had little idea;" he writes, "of the fury with which the grass burnt in this hot climate, nor of the difficulty of extinguishing it, when once alighted."
The men of science were anxious to see if the natives of the East resembled the natives of the West, who had been described by Dampier, in general "a faithful relater." "They are," Dampier had written, "of a very unpleasing aspect, having no one graceful feature in their faces. Their hair is short and curled like that of the negroes, and not long and lank like the common Indians. The colour of their skins is coal-black, like that of the negroes of Guinea." And he had mentioned that "the two fore-teeth of their upper jaw are wanting in all of them." Banks noticed that the appearance of the Eastern natives was different. They did not want front teeth. Their hair was lank, and neither woolly nor frizzled. Their outside appeared the colour of wood-soot; but, as they were covered with eternal filth, the native colour of the subterranean skin was hard to tell. Banks, with his usual scientific thoroughness, spat on his finger, and tried to penetrate the crust. As he worked deeper, the colour altered very little, but perhaps was nearer chocolate than coal-black. They had holes through their noses, with "sprit-sail yards rigged across," said the sailors. Still they were very much pleasanter to look at than had been the inhuman creatures whom Dampier had seen in the West. Cook thought their features "far from being disagreeable," and their voices "soft and tunable."
They lived, however, like Dampier's Westerners. "They seem," writes Cook, "to have no fixed habitation, but move about from place to place, like wild beasts in search of food. We never saw one inch of cultivated ground in the whole country. Their houses are mean small hovels, not much bigger than an oven. They have not the least knowledge of iron or any other metal; their working tools must be of stone, bone and shell." Their darts, however, could be hurled by throwing-sticks to a distance of forty or fifty yards with almost, if not quite, as good an aim as an English musket. It was Cook's duty, as an eighteenth-century philosopher, to add that, though the natives of New Holland were apparently the most wretched people on the earth, they were "in reality far more happier than we Europeans, being wholly unacquainted with the necessary conveniences so much sought after in Europe; they are happy in not knowing the use of them." Banks expressed the same opinion; but, as we have seen, he had no wish to stay in New Holland to learn the happiness of the simple life.
Meanwhile Cook had been tied to the ship, anxiously supervising repairs, and sending out boats to seek a channel among baffling shoals and reefs. He never found time even to go to the head of the harbour. He climbed the hills, however, and saw "a melancholy prospect of the difficulties we are to encounter; for, in whatever direction we looked, it was covered with shoals as far as the eye could see." At last, on the 6th of August, he put to sea to face one of the most dangerous tasks that has ever been faced by seamen. He knew that the ship was in a bad state, though happily he did not know how very bad its state was. He had provisions only for three months, at short allowance. He had to race against time through a sea of which he had no knowledge save that, in the very face of him, it bristled with difficulties and dangers. If ever Cook in later years had bad dreams—though I do not believe he had—they were probably founded on his experience between Endeavour River and Cape York. The voyage was a nightmare in navigation. Probably Cook did not dream about it; but he described it, in words that were as true as they were simple, as "the most dangerous navigation that perhaps ever ship was in."
Sending the pinnace ahead to sound, Cook kept a lookout from the mast-head. He could see no passage;—nothing but breakers extending endlessly to sea. He made a little way Northward; but his hopes were disappointed by more reefs and breakers, "in a manner all round us"; and in hot bad temper he called one deceiving headland "Cape Flattery." Landing on an island, he climbed a high hill, whence he saw a reef of rocks, two miles away, extending out of sight, on which the sea broke very high. It was the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef. He saw several breaks in the reef, and he determined to sail through one of them into the open sea. "By keeping in with the main land we should be in continual danger, besides the risk we should run in being locked in with reefs and shoals." So he sailed through the passage in the Barrier Reef that is now known by his name, and "found a large sea rolling in from the South-East," which gave him "no small joy." Ever since the 26th of May he had been "entangled amongst islands and shoals." He had "sailed above three hundred and sixty leagues (a thousand and eighty miles) by the lead, without ever having a leadsman out of the chains when the ship was under sail; a circumstance that perhaps never happened to any ship before, and yet it was here absolutely necessary."
Cook now sailed outside the Barrier Reef. But the course was unsatisfactory. He was missing the chance of surveying an unknown coast. He was also afraid of "overshooting the passage (between New Holland and New Guinea), supposing there to be one"; and he "firmly believed" there was one. And he now found that the dangers of the outside course were even greater than those of the inside. The "large hollow sea" proved that the ship had been more damaged than had been thought, and one pump had to be kept constantly at work. The trade wind blew them towards the reef, and they studied its formation with an interest that was keener than that of simple curiosity, and made Banks write an admirable description. "A reef such as one speaks of is scarcely known in Europe. It is a wall of coral rock, rising almost perpendicularly out of the unfathomable ocean, always overflown at high water, generally seven or eight feet, and dry in places at low water. The large waves of the vast ocean, meeting with so sudden a resistance, make a terrible surf breaking mountains high, especially where the general trade wind blows directly upon it." The tide dragged them within eighty or a hundred yards of the breakers. "The same sea that washed the side of the ship rose in a breaker prodigiously high the very next time it did rise; so that between us and destruction was only a dismal valley, the breadth of one wave, and even now no bottom could be felt with one hundred and twenty fathoms." Shipwreck seemed inevitable. Land was thirty miles away, and the boats could not possibly carry the crew. "All the dangers we had escaped were little in comparison of being thrown upon this reef, where the ship must be dashed to pieces in a moment."
Cook made for a small opening in the reef, not wider than the length of the ship. They reached it—just too late, "the tide of ebb rushing out like a mill-stream, so that it was impossible to get in." The boats, with the help of the tide, pulled them one and a half miles away; but the returning tide would certainly bear them back on the reef. Cook made for another opening, a quarter of a mile broad. "Narrow and dangerous as it was, it seemed to be the only means of saving her, as well as ourselves. A light breeze soon sprang up at East-North-East, with which, and the help of our boats, and a flood tide we soon entered the opening, and were hurried through in a short time by a rapid tide like a mill-race." Once more the faulty men of the Endeavour had shown ability to grasp fortune. "In this truly terrible situation," says Cook, "not one man ceased to do his utmost, and that with as much calmness as if no danger had been near." They could not have been calmer than the men of science. When the danger was at its height, they were taking an observation to obtain the Longitude. "These observations," records Mr. Green, "were very good. We were about a hundred yards from the reef, where we expected the ship to strike every minute, it being calm, no soundings, and the swell heaving us right on."
Cook had leapt from the frying-pan into the fire, and was now glad that a second leap had brought him back into nothing hotter than the frying-pan. He was again encompassed on every side by islands and shoals; "but so much does a greater danger swallow lesser ones that those once dreaded spots were now looked upon with less concern." Moreover he was determined to clear up once for all the ancient uncertainty whether or not a strait existed between New Holland and New Guinea. In this determination he was facing a great risk. If there proved to be not a strait but a bay, he would have to fight out, as Bougainville had fought out, against the trade wind, and in most dangerous seas. But he had been convinced, by Dalrymple's map, and by Banks's explanations, that it was very probable there was a strait, and he had come "to the fixed resolution" to bring home exact news of it.
It is hard to trace his progress among shoals and islands "by a route that no one has again followed," with a boat all the time ahead signalling shallow water. On the 22nd of August they observed that "the main looked very narrow; so we began," says Banks, "to look out for the passage we expected to find between New Holland and New Guinea. At noon one was seen, very narrow, but appearing to widen." Cook named the Northern Promontory "York Cape, in honour of his late Royal Highness."
Ahead they saw islands, detached by narrow channels from the mainland. Cook sent the boats to sound the channel next to the main. Shoals and rocks were discovered, and he signalled the boats to lead through the next channel to the Northward. The ship followed, and Cook satisfied himself that he "had at last found out a passage into the Indian Seas." He had now completed his survey of the Eastern coast of New Holland from Latitude 38°; a coast which he was confident had "never been seen or visited by any European before us." He landed on an island which he named Possession Island; and, "a little before sunset, took possession of the country in his Majesty's name, and fired 3 volleys of small arms on the occasion, which was answered from the ship." With the pinnace feeling the way before her, the Endeavour sailed through the strait to which Cook gave the ship's name, passing safely over the great bank which nearly bars its Western end, and has caused it to be disused in favour of the "deep though narrow channel" North of Prince of Wales Island. He landed on Booby Island, "now the great landmark for ships making Torres Strait from the West." A swell from the South-West, "together with other concurring circumstances, left me no room to doubt but we had got to the Westward of Carpentaria, or the Northern extremity of New Holland, and had now an open sea to the Westward; which gave me no small satisfaction, not only because the dangers and fatigues of the voyage were drawing to an end, but by being able to prove that New Holland and New Guinea are two separate lands or islands, which until this day hath been a doubtful point with geographers. As I believe it was known before, I claim no other merit than the clearing up of a doubtful point." That is to say, Cook had been told by Banks that a long-forgotten Spanish writer had said that Torres had sailed to the South of New Guinea; and he had now proved that this was possible. He had sailed through one channel, and he believed that a better channel would some day be discovered among the islands he could see to the North, "if ever it became an object to be looked for."
In his log, written from day to day, Cook said that "possession was taken of the country"; no name is mentioned. Banks in his journal, described the country he was leaving under the headline: "Some account of New Holland";—evidence again that no new name had been given. In the copy of Cook's journal which he sent home from Batavia the country is named "New Wales"; which seems to show that that name was given in the course of the voyage from Cape York to Batavia. In Cook's journal itself, the country is twice named "New Wales." But, in one instance, the words are crossed out, and "New South Wales" is written in their place. Probably Cook made the correction during the voyage from Batavia to England. In the other instance, he did not notice the words "New Wales," and they stand uncorrected. In two copies that were probably written on the voyage from Batavia to England, the name is New South Wales. And Banks, probably at the same date, corrected his headline as follows:—"Some account of that part of New Holland now called New South Wales." We do not know why Cook gave the name of "New Wales," nor why he changed that name to "New South Wales."
Both Cook and Banks wrote long descriptions of the land which they had coasted for two thousand miles.
Banks's description was in the highest degree unfavourable. We cannot rightly be angry with him, for he wrote an accurate description of what he saw. But we may regret that our candid friend did not see some of the more pleasing aspects of the country which he was to recommend nine years later as the best possible place for a British settlement. One would imagine, as one reads his journal, that his main purpose was to make quite sure that no Englishman would ever think of settling in Australia.
"In the whole length of the coast which we sailed along there was a very unusual sameness to be observed in the face of the country. Barren it may justly be called, and in a very high degree, at least as far as we saw. The soil in general is sandy and very light; on it grows grass tall enough, but thin set, and trees of a tolerable size, never however near together, being in general forty, fifty or sixty feet apart. This and spots of loose sand, sometimes very large, constitute the general face of the country, as you sail along it, and, indeed, the greater part even after penetrating inland as far as our situation would allow us to do. The banks of the bays were generally clothed with thick mangroves, sometimes for a mile or more in breadth. The soil under these is rank, and always overflowed every spring tide. Inland you sometimes meet with a bog, upon which the grass grows rank and thick, so that no doubt the soil is sufficiently fertile. The valleys also between the hills, where runs of water come down, are thickly clothed with underwood; but they are generally very steep and narrow, so that upon the whole, the fertile soil bears no kind of proportion to that which seems by nature doomed to everlasting barrenness. Water is a scarce article, or at least was so when we were there (April to August), which I believe to have been the very height of the dry season. At some places we saw not a drop. This drought is probably owing to the dryness of a soil entirely composed of sand in which high hills are scarce.
"A soil so barren, and at the same time entirely void of the help derived from cultivation, could not be supposed to yield much to the support of man. We had been so long at sea, with but a scanty supply of fresh provisions, that we had long been used to eat everything we could lay our hands upon, fish, flesh, or vegetables, if only they were not poisonous, yet we could only now and then procure a dish of bad greens for our own table, and never, except in the place where the ship was careened, did we meet with sufficient quantity to supply the ship"; and Banks gives a list of the "bad greens" they had managed to eat. They had found no eatable fruits, save in the South a cherry with nothing but a slightly acid taste to recommend it, and in the North "a very indifferent fig." They tried some palm nuts, but were "deterred from a second experiment by a hearty fit of vomiting." The hogs ate the nuts with good appetite, and the men envied the hogs their powers of digestion; but two hogs died, and the rest were saved only by careful nursing. The only useful plants were the gum tree, and a bulrush which gave a resin of a bright yellow. In view of the barrenness of the soil, the variety of the plants seemed wonderful, but they were as useless as they were varied. Even the timber was so hard, that the carpenter who cut firewood complained that his tools were damaged.
As to fish, flesh and fowl, voyagers sick of sea-fare could eat with joy anything that was not salt and that was not poisonous. "A hawk or a crow was to us as delicate, and perhaps a better relished meal than a partridge or a pheasant to those who had plenty of dainties." But "kangooroos" were scarce, and birds were shy. "A crow in England, though in general sufficiently wary, is, I must say, a fool to a New Holland crow; and the same may be said of almost all, if not all the birds of the country." And, making an effort to say all that could be said for the country, he concludes as follows:—"Upon the whole, New Holland, though in every respect the most barren country I have seen, is not so bad but that, between the production of sea and land, a company who had the misfortune to be shipwrecked upon it might support themselves even by the resources that we have seen; undoubtedly a longer stay and a visit to different parts would discover many more."
That was the best that Mr. Banks could say in favour of our country. He made no suggestion that colonists would do well to settle in New South Wales; the nearest he got to that suggestion was in the remark, that "were any man to settle here," he would find the study of ants uncommonly interesting—industrious as they are, their courage, if possible, excels their industry."
On the other hand, Cook's description shows that, in his opinion, New South Wales might in time prove to be a good place for British colonists. He states plainly, it is true, that "the land naturally produced hardly anything fit for man to eat," that "the natives know nothing of agriculture," and that "the country itself, so far as we know, doth not produce any one thing that can become an article in trade to invite Englishmen to fix a settlement upon it." However, he continues, "this Eastern side is not that barren and undesirable country that Dampier and others have described the Western side to be. We are to consider that we see this country in the pure state of nature; the industry of man has had nothing to do with any part of it, and yet we find all such things as nature has bestowed upon it in a flourishing state. In this extensive country, it can never be doubted but what most sorts of grain, fruit, roots, etc., of every kind would flourish here were they once brought hither, planted and cultivated by the hands of industry, and here are provender for more cattle at all seasons of the year than ever can be brought into the country." It is "indifferently well watered, even in the dry seasons, with small brooks and springs, but no great rivers, unless it be the wet season." The soil, though sandy, is "indifferently fertile, and clothed with woods, long grass, shrubs, plants, etc." The coast North of 25° "abounds with a great number of fine bays and harbours, sheltered from all winds."
It was not Cook's way to write with enthusiasm. He said enough to show that he thought the soil of New South Wales would probably do "indifferently well" if "planted and cultivated by the hands of industry." And when he wrote "hands of industry," he meant, not hands of convicts, but hands of ironside farmers from Scotland or Yorkshire.
The voyage of discovery was finished. "On the West side," wrote Cook, "I can make no new discovery, the honour of which belongs to the Dutch navigators." He was henceforth in seas that had been charted by predecessors. He tried the coast of New Guinea, but, like, Torres, was driven off by everlasting shoals, after "one of the most fortunate escapes we have ever had from shipwreck." They managed, however, to land on a part of the coast that is "scarcely known to this day." They tried to climb some cocoa-nut trees, but failed to do so. Cook, with remarkable humanity, refused to cut down the trees, because that would certainly have led to an attack by the natives, and to undeserved slaughter.
He determined to leave the New Guinea coast, and make for Batavia. Banks, who never could get enough of travel and adventure, complains that nearly everybody was homesick. No one in the ship, he says, was free from this contemptible disease, except the Captain, Dr. Solander and himself; "and we three," he explains, "have ample employment for our minds."
It was true, indeed, that the sailors, if not very homesick, were, at all events, very hungry for roast beef. And anyone but Cook and Banks would have forgiven them, when he remembered that for two years and a half—apart from the good things at Tahiti—they had lived mainly on ancient salt junk, and on biscuits so full of crawling things that they tasted like mustard. They wanted to land at Timor, to get at least a good dinner or two. But the Dutch had a strong fort there, and regarded every foreigner with a jealous eye. So Cook sailed on, and the sailors said something that has not been recorded. But when they came by chance to the little Dutch island of Savu, and saw "a flock of cattle grazing," the demand for roast beef could not be resisted. The Dutch allowed Cook to buy buffaloes—at an extortionate price. But they complained that the English were far too inquisitive about spices. And, indeed, Parkinson the draughtsman afterwards boasted that he had taken nutmegs and cloves ashore, and had found that the people were acquainted with them.
On the 4th of October Cook was off Java, and got the news of the day, or rather of the year, from a Dutch ship. It was that "the Government in England was in the utmost disorder, the people crying up and down the streets: 'Down with King George! King Wilkes for ever!'" that "the Americans had refused to pay taxes of any kind, and an English army had been sent to deal with the rebellion." He anchored at Batavia on the 11th of October.
It was evident that the Endeavour could not go on without thorough examination and thorough repair. Cook found, to his great annoyance, that it would be necessary to place her in the hands of Dutch shipwrights. The ship was shown to be in a condition far worse than had been supposed. "In one place two and a half planks near six feet long were within 1/8 inch of being cut through; and here the worms had made their way quite through the timbers, so that it was a matter of surprise to everyone who saw her bottom, how we had kept her above water; and yet in this condition we had sailed some hundreds of leagues in as dangerous a navigation as in any part of the world, happy in being ignorant of the continual danger we were in." In the end Cook gave the Dutch shipwrights a very handsome testimony:—"I do not believe there is a marine yard in the world where work is done with more alertness than here, and where there are better conveniences for heaving ships down in point of safety and despatch." The Dutch methods were different from the English, and better.
From Batavia Cook sent home in a Dutch ship the copy of his journal which you may see to-day, if you like, in the Australian Museum, Sydney. He also wrote a letter that is of great interest, because it gives his own impressions of one of the most famous, most dangerous and most fruitful voyages of British History. "Although," he wrote, "the discoveries made in the voyage are not great, yet I flatter myself they are such as may merit the attention of their Lordships, and although I have failed in discovering the much-talked of Southern Continent (which perhaps does not exist), and which I myself had very much at heart, yet I am confident that no part of the failure of such discovery can be laid to my charge. Had we been so fortunate not to have run ashore, much more would have been done in the latter part of the voyage than what was, but, as it is, I presume this voyage will be found as complete as any before made to the South Seas on the same account."
Cook stayed in Batavia from the 11th of October to the 26th of December. It was a dreadful time. When the Englishmen arrived, they were, thanks to Cook's system of sour krout and bathing, in insolent good health. Not one man had been lost by sickness incurred on shipboard during the whole voyage.* There was not one sick man on board. The sailors, rosy and plump, "jeered and flaunted much" at the white-faced Dutch who came alongside. They were warned of the extreme unwholesomeness of the place. But they laughed, thinking themselves well-seasoned to any climate, and "trusting more than all," writes Banks, "to an invariable temperance in everything, which we had unalteredly kept during our whole residence in the warm latitudes";—a statement which is, no doubt, true in some sense, but which nevertheless surprises readers who remember the events of Christmas Days, and of other days. But in Batavia trust in "invariable temperance" was misplaced. Everyone fell sick. The only exception was the sailmaker, an old man of seventy or eighty—ages were vague in those days—who had been invariably intemperate:—"generally more or less drunk every day." Surgeon Monkhouse died. Tupia died:—"a shrewd, sensible, ingenious man," says Cook, "but proud and obstinate, which often made his situation on board both disagreeable to himself and to those about him." Banks was "seized with a fever, the fits of which," he says, "were so violent as to deprive me entirely of my senses, and leave me so weak as scarcely to be able to crawl downstairs." His servants were as bad as himself, and Solander became ill for the first time in his life. The two sick botanists bought a Malay woman apiece, "hoping that the tenderness of the sex would prevail even here, which, indeed we found it to do." In charge of their nurses, they went to a country-house, and gradually recovered strength. But, when the ship sailed, seven had died, forty or more were sick, and the rest were weakly. Cook said that Batavia was the unhealthiest place upon the globe. "We came in here with as healthy a ship's crew as need go to sea, and, after a stay of not quite three months, left it in the condition of a hospital ship; and yet all the Dutch captains said we have been very lucky."
[* Sutherland, who died at Botany Bay, "died of a consumption."]
Banks had not been too ill to use his eyes and to take notes. The country reminded him of the flatness of his native Lincolnshire. The canals made carriage very cheap, but also made the air very unwholesome. He writes high praise of the fertility and wealth of Java. He describes the Dutch management of the spice business. Nutmegs, for example, have been extirpated in all the islands except Banda, "which easily supplies the world, and would easily supply another, if the Dutch had another to supply." He understood, however, that there were spices on islands away to the East, which the Dutch had not examined. In a curious and not very pleasing passage, he discusses the chance of capturing Batavia, and decides that it is a very good one. The defences are weak; and, of every hundred soldiers who arrive, at the end of the year fifty are dead, twenty-five in the hospital, and not ten in perfect health. Banks evidently thought, as Bougainville had thought two years before, that it would be well to claim a share in the spice trade, in the teeth, which were not very sound teeth, of the Dutch dog in the manger.
The Endeavour sailed from Batavia on the 26th of December in good repair, though "in the condition of a hospital ship." But they were out at sea again, and there was no expectation of tragedy. But the disease was in them, and broken health grew worse. Disasters came fast, and Cook's journal for this passage is mainly a list of those who died. Corporal Trusslove died, "a man much esteemed by everybody on board"; then Mr. Sporing, "a gentleman belonging to Mr. Banks's retinue"; Mr. Sydney Parkinson, Natural History painter to Mr. Banks, who left, in addition to his pictures, an interesting journal; Mr. Green, the very skilful, industrious, and courageous observer, who had taken a successful observation when a hundred yards distant from almost inevitable destruction on the coral reef, but who had "lived in such a manner as greatly promoted the disorders he had had long upon him"; Midshipman Monkhouse, who had "fothered" the ship; John Ravenhill, the aged and much-drinking sailmaker, who perhaps had not been permitted to be so invariably intemperate on ship as he had been on land. Twenty-three in all died; and those who did not die were hardly able to tend the sails, and to nurse the sick. Banks, who had "endured the pains of the damned almost," was the only stricken man who recovered.
At last the South-East trade-wind brought relief. They came to Capetown in March 1771, and stayed a month. The Australian, whose feelings have been a little hurt by Banks's statement that his country is in every respect the most barren country he had ever seen, is pleased to find that he thought South Africa more barren still. "The infinite and, to an European, almost inconceivable barrenness of the country," he wrote, "makes it necessary that people should spread themselves very widely"; and Cook wrote plainly that no country seen this voyage—not even New Holland!—"afforded so barren a prospect as this, and not only so in appearance, but in reality." The true importance of the Cape, it was rightly observed, was as the half-way house between Europe and Asia; "the whole town may be considered as one great inn fitted up for the reception of all comers and goers." Banks, as always, has interesting things to say about the ladies. "In general," he wrote, "they are handsome, and when married (no reflection upon my countrywomen), are the best housekeepers imaginable, and great child-bearers. Had I been inclined for a wife, I think this is the place of all others I have seen where I could have best suited myself." The fact, however, is that, when Banks was inclined for a wife, he suited himself in England.
They reached St. Helena on the 1st of May, and stayed until the 5th. Cook was nearing home. On the 18th of June he got late political news from New England schooners cruising for whales. King George had behaved very ill for some time, but the colonists had brought him to terms at last. Disputes were at an end; "and to confirm this, the Master said that the coat on his back was made in Old England." On the 13th of July Cook anchored in the Downs. "I flatter myself," he wrote to the Admiralty, "that the discoveries we have made, though not great, will apologize for the length of the voyage." Their Lordships replied that they extremely well approved of the whole of Cook's proceedings. Cook had an hour's talk with the King, who was pleased to express his approbation. The Royal Society also was gratified. Cook had been well worth his hundred and twenty guineas, and the grant of four thousand pounds had proved more than was needed. The Society generously voted that the balance should be expended on a bust:—a bust not, of course, of Cook, but of George.
"I have made no great discoveries," Cook repeats in a letter to his old employer, Mr. Walker, of Whitby, "yet I have explored more of the South Sea than all that have gone before me; in so much that little remains now to be done to have a thorough knowledge of that part of the globe." There is a curiously apologetic tone in all Cook's estimates of the value of his discoveries. He had to meet the accusations of geographers, like Dalrymple, that he had not discovered the Southern Continent. And he can only modestly suggest in self-defence that one reason of his failure is that the continent does not exist. But Banks, at all events, had no need to apologize. Geographical discoveries might not be satisfactory to geographers. But botanical discoveries had far surpassed the great expectations of botanists. Mr. John Ellis, Fellow of the Royal Society, who had written to Linnaeus the great news that Banks and Solander were setting forth, now wrote to him the still greater news that they had returned:—returned "laden with the greatest treasure of natural history that ever was brought into any country at one time by two persons." Linnaeus implored his correspondent to persuade Solander to send him "some specimens of plants from Banksia in Terra Australis"; for, he added, "the newfound country ought to be named 'Banksia' from its discoverer as America from Americus." The great botanist will see these specimens as Moses saw Canaan. He has been distressed, and even deprived of sleep, by the report that Solander intends to set out on a new voyage before cataloguing what he has brought home:—"this matchless and truly astonishing collection, such as has never been seen before, nor may ever be again." There were good reasons in those days to approve the change of name of "Stingray Harbour" to "Botany Bay"! The week spent on its sandy shores was to make an epoch in botanical studies, as well as in political geography. It led to the foundation of Sydney, and to the British colonization of Australia. And it also, wrote a famous botanist of later date, "proved the example and spur of all that has been done for natural science, during half a century, in Britain, perhaps in every quarter of the world."
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