Copyright
William Chambers.

Chambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) online

. (page 3 of 59)
Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 3 of 59)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


were not likely to be disturbed. Whilst lying* here, complaint
was made that some of the Resolution's men had plundered a
native hut. The thief was discovered, tied up to a post, and
flogged in the presence of the chiefs and their people, who ex-
pressed themselves satisfied with the punishment inflicted. It was
a great principle with Cook to set an example of strict honesty.

In this second voyage the captain gained indisputable proofs
that the New Zealanders Avere eaters of human flesh ; but he
firmly believed that it was the flesh of captives, or those who had
been killed in battle.

Captain Cook quitted New Zealand on the 26th November, his
ship's company in good health and spirits, and nowise daunted
at the prospects of hardships they were about to endure in ag-ain
searching* for a southern continent or islands in high latitudes.
They were not long before they once more encountered fields and
islands of ice, and when in latitude 67 degrees 5 minutes, they
were nearly blocked up. On the 22d December they attained
the highest latitude they could venture — this was 67 degrees
31 minutes south, and in longitude 142 degrees 54 minutes west ;
but no land was discovered. The crew of the Resolution were

17



LIFE OF CAPTAIN COOK.

^attacked by slight fever, caused by colds, but on coming north-
ward, it was cured in a few daj^s; and on the 5th January 1774,
•when in 50 degrees south, there were not more than two or three
persons on the sick list.

After traversing- the ocean as far south as it was prudent to
g-o, all the scientific men expressed their belief that ice surrounded
the pole w^ithout any intervening land ; the Resolution conse-
quently returned to the northward to look for the island of Juan
Fernandez. About this time Captain Cook was seized with a
dangerous and distressing disease, and it was several days before
the worst symptoms were removed. On his amending, there
being no fresh j^rovisions on board, and his stomach loathing the
salt food, a favourite dog of Mr Forster was killed and boiled,
"which afforded both broth and meat, and upon this fare he gained
strength. The Resolution, on the 11th March, came in sight of
Easter Island, situated in 27 degrees 5 minutes south, and 109
degrees 46 minutes west, where they remained a few days, and
found the inhabitants very similar in appearance and character
to the people of the more western isles. The place, however,
afforded scarcely any food or fuel, the anchorage was unsafe,
and the only matters worthy of notice were some rudely-carved
gigantic statues in the interior. Captain Cook left Easter Island
to pursue a course for the Marquesas, and got sight of them on
the 6th April. During the passage the captain had a recurrence
of his disorder, but it was neither so violent nor so long in dura-
tion as before. The ship was anchored in Resolution Bay, at the
island of St Christina, where thievery was practised equally as
much as at the Society and other isles ; and one of the natives
was unfortunately killed whilst in the act of carrying away the
iron stanchion of the gang-way. They had now been nineteen
weeks at sea, entirely on salt provisions ; but still, owing to the
anti-scorbutic articles and medicines, and the warmth and clean-
liness preserved, scarcely a man was sick. Here they obtained
fi'esh meat, fruits, yams, and plantains, but in small quanti-
ties ; and the captain having corrected, by astronomical observa-
tions, the exact position of these islands, once more made sail
for Otaheite. During the passage they passed several small
islands, and discovered four others, which Cook named after his
old commander. Sir Hugh Palliser. On the 22d April the anchor
was again let go in Matavai Bay, where the usual process was
gone through of erecting the observatory to try the rates of the
watches ; but no tent was required for the sick, as there was not
a man ill on board.

During the stay of Caj^tain Cook at this island, where refresh-
ments of all kinds were readily obtained, and particularly in
exchange for some red feathers that had been brought from
Amsterdam, the old friendships were renewed with Otoo and
other chiefs ; there was a constant interchange of visits ; and on
one occasion the Otaheitans got up a grand naval review.

18



LIFE OF CAPTAIN COOK,

The large canoes in this part of the world are extremely grace-
ful and handsome in display, particularly the double war canoes,
with flag's and streamers, paddling along with great swiftness,
and performing their evolutions with considerable skill. No less
than 160 of the largest double war canoes were assembled, fully
equi23ped, and the chiefs and their men, habited in full war cos-
tume, appeared upon the lighting stages, with their clubs and
other instruments of warfare ready for action. Besides these
large vessels, there were 170 smaller double canoes, each of these
last having a mast and sail, and a sort of hut or cabin on the
deck. Captain Cook calculated that the number of men embarked
in them could not be fewer than 7760, most of them armed
with clubs, pikes, barbed spears, bows and arrows, and slings for
throwing large stones ; in fact, strongly resembling the represen-
tations of eng-agements with galleys in the Mediterranean de-
scribed some centuries before. The spectacle at Otaheite was ex-
tremely imposing, and greatly surprised the Engiish.

Whilst lying at Matavai Bay, one of the islanders was caught
in the act of stealing a water-cask. Captain Cook had him se-
cured and sent on board the Resolution, where he was put in
irons, and in this degraded situation was seen by Otoo and other
chiefs, who intreated that the man might be pardoned. But the
captain would not comply with their requests ; he told them that
" any act of dishonesty amongst his own people was severely
punished, and he was resolved to make an example of the thief
he had caught." Accordingly, the culprit was taken ashore to
the tents, the guard turned out, and the offender being tied
to a post, received two dozen lashes, inflicted by a boatswain's
mate. Towha, one of the chiefs, then addressed the people, and
recommended them to abstain from stealing in future. To make
a further impression on them, the marines were ordered to go
through their exercise, and load and fire with ball.

A few days afterwards one of the gunner's mates attempted to
desert, and it was soon ascertained that he had formed an attach-
ment on shore, and if he had got away, the natives would have
concealed him up the country. Indeed the temptations for re-
maining in this beautiful country were very great. Every re-
quisite to sustain existence was abundant, the scenery splendid,
the earth spontaneously fertile, the waters abounding with fish —
in short, a few hours' exertion was sufficient to obtain a week's
supply ; and in a climate replete with health, a European might
have rendered others subservient to his will, and hved without
labour of any kind.

They next anchored in Owharre harbour, at Huaheine, and
the former amicable intercourse was repeated. The stock of
nails and articles of traffic being much reduced, the smiths were
set to work to manufacture more. Whilst lying here, the
voyagers had an opportunity of witnessing a theatrical repre-
sentation, principally founded on an actual occurrence. A

13



LIFE OF CAPTAIN COOK.

young' ^•irl had quitted Otaheite and her friends to accompany a
seaman" to Ulietea, and she was now present to see the drama.
It described her as running* away from her home, the grief of her
parents, and a long string of adventures, which terminated in
her returning to her native place, where her reception was none
of the most gentle that can be conceived. The poor girl could
hardly be persuaded to wait for the conclusion, and she cried
most bitterly.

They parted from the inhabitants with much regret, and ha.v-
ing called at Ulietea, they sailed past Howe Island, and dis-
covered another nearly surrounded with reefs, to which the name
of Palmerston w^as given. On the 20th July fresh land was
seen, on which they went ashore, but found the natives tierce and
hostile. The firing of muskets did not deter them ; and one came
close enough to throAV a spear at the captain, which passed just
over his shoulder. The captain presented his piece, but it missed
fire, and the daring fellow was saved. They named this Savage
Island. It lies in latitude 19 degrees 1 minute south, longitude
169 degrees 37 minutes west. From thence, after passing a
number of small islets, they anchored on the 26th on the north
side of Anamocka, Rotterdam, and commenced trade for provi-
sions. But here, as at the other islands, frequent disputes and
conflicts took place with the inhabitants on account of their
thievish propensities. Here they ascertained that a chain of
islands, some of which they could see, existed in the neighbour-
hood, forming a group within the compass of three degrees of
latitude, and two of longitude, and which Captain Cook named
the Friendly Isles ; which designation they certaiidy merited, for
the social qualities and conduct of the natives.

Pursuing their course westward, they came, on the 1st July,
to a small island, which, on account of the great number of
turtle, was named after that amphibious creature ; and on the
16th they saw high land; and after coasting* it for two other
days, they anchored in a harbour in the island of Mallecollo, to
which the captain gave the name of Port Sandwich. At first the
natives were hostile, but they w^ere soon conciliated through the
bland manners of Cook, and were found strictly honest in all
their dealings. In fact, they are described as totally different to
any they had yet visited. They were very dark, extremely ugly,
and ill-proportioned, and their features strongly resembled those
of a monkey.

Soon after getting to sea, various other islands were seen
and named ; and an affray took place with some of the natives,
in which two of them were wounded. A promontory near where
the skirmish occurred they called Traitor's Head. After cruising
about amongst the great number of islands in this localit}'', making
observations and taking* surveys, they steered towards New
Zealand, to wood and water, previous to a renewal of their search
to the southward; and on the 4th September discovered land, and

20



LIFE OF CAPTAIN COOK.

entered a pleasant liarbour on the following" day, where they were
well received. On the 13th they weig-hed ag-ain, and surveyed
the coast, by wliich they ascertained that the island was very
extensive ; and, from certain peculiarities, Cook named it New
Caledonia. Botany here received g-reat accessions. Many plants
were collected hitherto unknown : and both g-eog-raphy and
natural history afforded much research to the scientific men. A
small island, on which were growing some pine trees, received
the name of Pine Island ; and another was called Botany, from
the great variety of specimens obtained.

The Resolution, in proceeding for New Zealand, touched at an
uninhabited island, abounding- with vegetation, which was
named Norfolk Island, and on the 18th October anchored in
Ship Cove, Queen Charlotte's Sound, where she refitted and the
captain completed his survey. Captain Cook had buried a bottle
near the Cove when he was here before, and in digg'ing now it
was not to be found. It Avas therefore supposed that the Adven-
ture had anchored here, and her people had removed it. On the
10th November they took their departure ; and having- sailed till
the 27th in different degrees of latitude, from 43 degTees to 54
degrees 8 minutes south, Captain Cook gave up hopes of falling
in with any more land in this ocean. He therefore resolved to
steer for the west entrance of the Straits of Magellan, in order to
coast along the south side of Terra del Fuego, round Cape Horn
to the Straits of Le Maire. On 17th December he reached his
first destination, and here the scenery was very different from
what they had before beheld. Lofty rocky mountains entirely
destitute of vegetation, craggy summits, and horrible precipices ;
the whole aspect of the country barren and savag'e. Yet near
every harbour they were enabled to procure fresh-water and fuel ;
and there were plenty of wild fowl and geese. The inhabitants
were wretchedly poor and ignorant.

On the 25th January 1778, having coasted it as far as 60
degrees south, the land presenting the same uncouth appearance,
covered with ice and snow, and the ship exposed to numerous
storms, and the people to intense cold, the course was altered to
look for Bouvet's Land ; but though they reached the spot where
it was laid down on the charts, and sailed over and over it, yet
no such place could be discovered ; and after two days' search
more to the southward. Cook came to the conclusion that Bouvet
had been deceived by the ice, and once more bent his thoug'hts
towards home — especially as the ship stood in need of repairs, and
her sails and rigging- were nearly worn out — and consequentlj'"
steered for the Cape of Good Hope, where he heard of the Adven-
ture, and anchored in Table Bay on the 22d March. From thence
he sailed again on the 27th April, touched at St Helena on the
15th May, and remained till the 21st, and then got under weigh
for Ascension, where he arrived on the 28th ; and from thence
shaped a course for the remarkable island Fernando de Noronha,

21



LIFE OF CAPTAIN COOK.

whicli he reached on the 9th June ; and pursuing his way for
the western islands, anchored in Fayal Roads on the 14th July,
where Mr Wales the astronomer determined the position of the
Azores by a series of observations. The Resolution ultimately
entered Portsmouth on the 30th ; and Captain Cook landed after
an absence of three years and eighteen days, having sailed
20,000 leagues in various climates — from the extreme of heat
to the extreme of cold. But so judicious had been the arrange-
ments for preserving health, and so carefully had Captain Cook
attended to the ventilation between decks, and the mode of pro-
moting warmth, as well as the food, &c. of the people, that
he lost only one man by sickness. It may naturally be sup-
posed that the wear and tear of the ship was great, her rigging
scarcely trustworthy, and her sails unfit to meet a fresh breeze ;
yet so careful were the officers of the masts and yards, that not a
single spar of any consequence was carried aAvay during the
whole voyage.

The fame of Captain Cook as a navigator, coupled with his
marked humanity as a man, now exalted him in public esti-
mation far beyond what he had before experienced; and the
utmost anxiety prevailed to obtain intelligence relative to his
discoveries, &c. The king, to testify his approbation, made him
a post captain nine days subsequent to his arrival ; and three
days afterwards, a captaincy in Greenwich Hospital was con-
ferred upon him, to afford an honourable and competent retire-
ment from active service. On the 29th February 1776 he was
elected a member of the Royal Society, and in a short time he
was honoured with the gold medal ; Sir John Pringle, in pre-
senting it, uttering a well-merited eulogium on the worthy
receiver. The account of his second voyage was written by
Captain Cook himself, and manifests a plain manly style, giving
facts rather than embellishments.

COOK'S LAST VOYAGE.

The discovery of a supposed north-west passage from the
North Atlantic to the North Pacific oceans had for many years
been ardently sought for both by the English and the Dutch.
Frobisher in 1576 made the first attempt, and his example was
in succeeding times followed by many others. But though much
geographical information had been gained in the neighbourhood
of Hudson's Bay, Davis' Straits, Baffin's Bay, and the coast of
Greenland, yet no channel whatever was found. By act of par-
liament, £20,000 was offered to the successful individual. But
though Captain Middleton in 1741, and Captains Smith and
Moore in 1746, explored those seas and regions, the object re-
mained unattained. The Honourable Captain Phipps (afterwards
Earl Mulgrave) was sent out in the Racehorse, accompanied by
Captain Lutwidge in the Carcase (Lord Nelson was a boy in this
latter ship), to make observations, and to penetrate as far as it



LIFE OF CAPTAIX COOK.

vas practicable to do so. They sailed on the 2d June 1773, and
made Spitzbergen on the 28th ; but after great exertions, they
found the ice to the northward utterly impenetrable. Once they
became closely jammed, and it was only with great difficulty
they escaped destruction. On the 22d Aug'ust, finding' it im-
possible to g'et further to the northward, eastward, or westward,
they made sail, according" to their instructions, for England, and
arrived off Shetland on the 7th September.

Notwithstanding' these numerous failures, the idea of an exist-
ing' passag;e was still cherished ; and Earl Sandwich continuing-
at the head of the Admiralty, resolved that a further trial should
be made, and Captain Cook oiFered his services to undertake it.
They were gladly accepted, and on the 10th February 1776 he
was appointed to command the expedition in his old but hardy
ship, the Resolution, and Captain Gierke, in the Discovery, was
ordered to attend him. In this instance, however, the mode of
experiment was to be reversed, and instead of attempting the
former routes by Davis' Straits or Baffin's Bay, &c. Cook, at his
own request, was instructed to proceed into the South Pacific,
and thence to try the passage by the way of Behring's Straits ;
and as it was necessary that the islands in the southern ocean
should be revisited, cattle and sheep, with other animals, and all
kinds of seeds, were shipped for the advantag'e of the natives.

Every preparation having" been made, the Resolution quitted
Plymouth on the 12th July (the Discovery was to follow), taking
Omai, the native brought from the Society Isles, with him.
Having" touched at TeneriiFe, they crossed the equator on the 1st
September, and reached the Cape on the 18th October, where the
Discovery joined them on the 10th November. Whilst lying in
Table Bay, the cattle were landed ; and some dogs getting into
the pens, worried and killed several of the sheep, and dispersed
the rest. Two fine rams and two ewes were lost ; but the two
latter were recovered ; the others could not be got back. Captain
Cook here made an addition to his stock, and, besides other ani-
mals, purchased two young' stallions and two mares.

The ships sailed again on the 30th November, and encountered
heavy gales, in which several sheep and goats died. On the 12tli
December they saw two large islands, wliich Cook named Prince
Edward's Islands ; and three days afterwards several others were
seen; but having made Kerguelen's Land, they anchored in a
convenient harbour on Christmas day. On the north side of
this harbour one of the men found a quart bottle fastened to a
projecting rock by stout wire, and on opening it, the bottle was
found to contain a piece of parchment, on which was an in-
scription purporting' that the land had been visited by a French
vessel in 1772-3. To this Cook added a notice of his own visit ;
the parchment was then returned to the bottle, and the cork being-
secured with lead, was placed upon a pile of stones near to the
place from which it had been removed. The whole country was

23



LIFE OF CAPTAIN COOK.

extremely barren and desolate ; and on the SOth tliey came to the
eastern extremity of Kerg-uelen's Land. To his great chagrin,
"whilst exploring' the coast, Captain Cook lost through the in-
tense cold two young bulls, one heifer, two rams, and several
•of the goats.

On the 24th January 1777 they came in sight of Van Die-
men's Land, and on the 26th anchored in Adventure Bay, where
intercourse was opened with the natives, and Omai took evevj
opportunity of lauding the great superiority of his friends the
English. Here they obtained plenty of grass for the remaining
'Cattle, and a supply of fresh provisions for themselves. On
the 30th they quitted their port, convinced that Van Diemen's
Land was the southern point of New Holland. Subsequent in-
vestigations, however, have proved this idea to be erroneous ;
Van Diemen's Land being an island separated from the main-
land of Australia by Bass's Straits.

On the 12th February Captain Cook anchored at his old
station in Queen Charlotte's Sound, New Zealand; but the
natives were very shy in approaching the ships, and none could
be persuaded to come on board. The reason was, that on the
former voyage, after parting with the Resolution, the Adventure
liad visited this place, and ten of her crew had been killed in an
unpremeditated skirmish wdth the natives. It was the fear of
Tetaliatory punishment that kept them aloof. Captain Cook,
however, soon made them easy upon the subject, and their fami-
liarity was renewed; but great caution was used, to be fully
prepared for a similar attack, by keeping the men well armed on
all occasions. Of the animals left at this island in the former
voyages, many were thriving ; and the gardens, though left in a
state of nature, were found to contain cabbages, onions, leeks,
radishes, mustard, and a few potatoes. The captain was enabled
to add to both. At the solicitation of Omai he received two New
Zealand lads on board the Resolution, and by the 27th was clear
-of the coast.

After landing at a number of islands, and not finding ade-
quate supplies, the ships sailed for Anamocka, and the Reso-
lution was brought up in exactly the same anchorage that she had
occupied three years before. The natives behaved in a most
friendly manner, and but for their habits of stealing, quiet would
have been uninterrupted. Nothing, however, could check this
■propensity, till Captain Cook shaved the heads of all whom he
caught practising it. This rendered them an object of ridicule
to their countrymen, and enabled the English to recognise and
keep them at a distance. Most of the Friendly Isles were visited
by the ships, and everywhere they met with a kind reception.
On the 10th June they reached Tongataboo, where the king
offered Captain Cook his house to reside in. Here he made a
distribution of his animals amongst the chiefs, and the impor-
tance of preserving them was explained by Omai. A horse and

24



LIFE OF CAPTAIN COOK.

mare, a bull and cow, several sheep and turkeys, were thus g-iven
away ; but two kids and two turkey-cocks having- been stolen,
the captain seized three canoes, put a guard over the chiefs, and
insisted that not only the kids and turkeys should be restored,
but also everything that had been taken away since their arrival.
This produced a good effect, and much of the plunder was
returned.

Captain Cook remained at the Friendly Islands nearly three-
months, and lived almost entirely during* that period upon fresh
provisions, occasionally eating* the produce of the seeds he had
sown there in his former visits. On the 17th July they took
their final leave of these hospitable people, and on the 12th August
reached Otaheite, and took up a berth in Oaiti-piha Bay, which
it was discovered had been visited by two Spanish ships since the
Resolution had last been there.

Animals of various kinds had been left in the countiy by the
Spaniards, and the islanders spoke of them with esteem and
respect. On the Sith the ships went round to Matavai Bay, and
Captain Cook presented to the king*, Otoo, the remainder of his live
stock. There were already at Otoo's residence a remarkably fine
bull and some goats that had been left by the Spaniards, and ta
these the captain added another bull, three cows, a horse and
mare, and a number of sheep ; also a peacock and hen, a turkey-
cock and hen, one gander and three geese, a drake and four-
ducks. The geese and ducks began to breed before the English,
left the island.

They here witnessed a human sacrifice, to propitiate the favour-
of their gods in a battle they were about to undertake. The
victim was generally some strolling* vagabond, who was not
aware of his fate till the moment arrived, and he received his
death-blow from a club. For the purpose of showing the inhabi-
tants the use of the horses, Captains Cook and Clerke rode into
the country, to the great astonishment of the islanders ; and
though this exercise was continued every day by some of the
Resolution's people, yet the wonder of the natives never abated.

On the return of Omai to the land of his birth, the reception
he met with was not very cordial ; but the affection of his rela-
tives was strong and ardent. Captain Cook obtained the grant



Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 3 of 59)