for the command of which Cook had been selected, early in April 1768, was the Endeavour.
Just bought into the navy, she was not yet fitted out. More than one person later claimed the credit of selecting her: Dalrymple, springing to another conclusion, said he did so; Palliser, possibly the victim of defective memory, said that he and Cook did so. It is not likely that either claim could be justified.1
The Admiralty took its first step as early as 5 March, when it ordered the Navy Board
, the body concerned with supply and oversight of ships, ‘to propose a proper vessel’. The Navy Board proposed the Tryal
sloop, lately taken into dock at Deptford for repair; she would need sheathing with wood or copper as a protection against the ship-worm, and would not be ready before the end of May, but there was no suitable vessel at home that could be sooner fitted. A sloop in naval parlance was any small vessel with a small number of guns; the Tryal
, built in 1749, can-ied fourteen. The Admiralty agreed, with direction that the shipwrights should work overtime if necessary; and then had the idea that the Rose might be considered, because the ship should sail early in the spring. The Rose
was a 24-gun frigate of 1740, even then ready to receive men. This was 10 March. The Navy Board replied eleven days later: the Rose
was ‘the best there was at home in good condition’, but she, could not stow a sufficient quantity of provisions for the contemplated voyage; why not buy a cat-built vessel, which would be roomy enough? One of about 350 tons could be picked up in the Thames. Now a cat-built vessel, or cat, was exactly the east-coast collier, or her type, strongly built, of shallow draught, certainly without the lines or the speed of a frigate, as different from the Dolphin
of Byron and Wallis as could
be—and no doubt the sort of vessel Cook would have picked, if he had known anything about the sort of service he was to go on. Of that he certainly knew nothing. It was some years later, speaking of a ship for his second voyage, when he might, if he had been less of an honest man, have claimed some credit, that he wrote, ‘of all that was said and offered to the Admiralty's consideration on this subject as far as has come to my knowledge, what in my opinion was most to the purpose was suggested by the Navy Board
The properties on which the Navy Board then laid stress were, briefly, strength and capacity. It does not seem that the Navy Board would have been less acute in 1768 when., precisely because of those properties (as Cook tells us) a particular vessel was chosen. If credit were due to him, he might, in all modesty, with the lightest of assertions, or even of implications, have said so. He does not. Who first had the heaven-sent idea—perhaps even some officer of the Deptford yard—is another of the things we do not know. Fortunately the Admiralty was receptive, and ordered the Board, informally, at once, leaving formality till later, to have two vessels surveyed which were then lying dose to Shadwell docks, the Valentine
and the Earl of Pembroke
, both about the suggested size. The Deptford yard officers acted with zeal, surveyed even a third vessel, the Ann and Elizabeth
; and on 27 March reported in favour of the second-named.
She was bought. ‘The Earl of Pembroke,’ ran the Yard report, ‘Mr Thos. Milner, owner, was built at Whitby, her age three years nine months, square stern back, single bottom, mil built and comes nearest to the tonnage mentioned in your warrant and not so old by fourteen months, is a promising ship for sailing of this kind and fit to stow provisions and stores as may be put on board her.’2 She was not large: 106 feet long overall, 97 feet 7 inches on her lower deck, an. inch short of her gun or upper deck; of extreme breadth 29 feet 3 inches; the length of her forecastle 18 feet 8 inches, only 4 feet 4 inches longer than her great cabin; her burthen in tons 368 7/8 1/4. Fully laden, she drew about 14 feet. She came from the yard of the redoubtable builders Messrs Fishburn: the scene of her building is now covered by different yards, those of British Railways. She was exactly the vessel the Navy Board had desiderated: her value, said the report, was £2307 5s 6d, of which £2212 15s 6d stood for her hull, and £94 1 os for her masts and yards. The Board paid £2800.
Even an excellently built, comparatively new collier had to go into dock; and by the time the work on her was done and all hope of a
departure early in the spring long lost there may have been those who looked back with some regret to the Tryal
sloop. How was the ship to be fitted?—the Navy Board enquired on 29 March, in reporting the purchase to the Admiralty. By what name was she to be known? She was to be ‘sheathed, filled, and fitted in all respects proper’ for the service she was to be engaged on, replied the Admiralty on 5 April, to receive six carriage guns of four pounds each and eight swivel guns, and to be registered on the list of the Royal Navy
as a Bark, by the name of the Endeavour
So do that famous vessel, and that famous name, come into the history of exploration. We have, in the extant records and plans—her sheer draught, her deck plans, as well as journal references—as detailed evidence as we can wish on the state of the ship and the alterations made to fit her for her mission; there is no ship we can know more exactly than this one. She was taken from ‘Mr Bird's Ways’ on the last day of March and docked at Deptford on 2 April, and the carpenters began immediately the orders reached them. ‘Sheathing and falling’ entailed the addition of another skin, outside her planks, of thinner boards, over a lining of tarred felt; and to give further protection from the ‘worm’, the ruinous Teredo navalis
of tropical seas, the sheathing was filled with nails with large flat heads. Unlike the experimental Dolphin
, the Endeavour
was not sheathed with copper, which presented a problem in repair far from home and had led to corrosion of ironwork. On 18 April the Yard officers were reporting that several of the masts and yards were defective, reducing their value to £56 17s; in the end practically all these had to be renewed. Next day, for ‘quicker dispatch’, they proposed that certain joiners' work should be done ‘by task’; on the 25th they announced that the ship would be ready to receive men the following week. Then, though matters had been pushed so hard for a month, came a severe interruption. An anonymous fragment of journal tells, us something: ‘The Ship had been bought into the Service and an order from the Admiralty directed that she should be fitted for the intended Service with the greatest dispatch—Every other business in the Dockyard was laid aside till this order was fulfilled—But she was suffered to lay in the Dock during three weeks afterwards of very hot weather and receivM much damage from it—the Expedition seemed now to be totally forgot; owing it was thought to the tumults and riots of the Seamen in the River….’2
Tumults and riots there were in plenty in that violent century, and from January to August 1768 there was a
spate of mass-meetings and petitions among not merely sailors, but coalheavers, the Spitaifields weavers and other sections of the depressed, mainly because of low and reduced wages in face of high prices for food. At the beginning of May seamen left their ships, vessels were unrigged and the quieter spirits among their crews carried off, and the Thames waterside was plastered with bills announcing that the men would not work till their wages were raised. We have no specific mention of the Deptford yards, but they can hardly have been unaffected, and it was not until 18 May that the Yard officers reported that the ship was out of dry dock—where no doubt her seams had opened in the heat—and into the Basin.
Meanwhile, at the beginning of April, as we have seen, the Admiralty had communicated with the Royal Society, Dalrymple had made his great refusal, the Society was looking round for a second observer—for it already had Mr Green, though it was not inclined to accept Mr Green's terms of £300 per annum—the Admiralty had decided to appoint Cook to the command, and for some weeks after 12 April Cook disappears from the records. Very possibly, in view of the length of the voyage that awaited him, he was on leave, and his Elizabeth could make the most of his presence at Mile End. He comes back at a council meeting of the Society on 5 May. The Society had been informed that he was to be the commander and would be a competent observer; no doubt Dr Bevis, if no one else, pointed out that he had already appeared in the Transactions; he was introduced by Captain John Campbeil and agreed to accept the office in return for £120 a year for victualling himself and the other observer (an agreeable addition to naval rations) and whatever gratuity the Society should think fit. At the same meeting Mr Green, an astronomer by profession, agreed to accept a fee of 200 guineas for the voyage, and 100 guineas a year if it lasted more than two years.1 At the meeting of 19 May Cook attended again, and agreed to his own gratuity of one hundred guineas.2 The Society could do without Dalrymple. The day after that the Dolphin, Captain Samuel Wallis, anchored in the Downs at the end of her second circumnavigation. It was not long before the elements of her story got about.
Wallis, though a good commander, was not a gifted explorer, and for a large part of the time that he was in the South Seas he had the ill hick to suffer from sickness; but he had one piece of amazing good luck in discovery which would mark out his voyage forever, and was
of the utmost significance, not for that voyage alone, nor alone for the great voyages that succeeded it, but for the whole history of the western mind. That discovery came about half way through his voyage. He had sailed from England in August 1766 with two vessels besides the Dolphin
: a sloop misnamed the Swallow
, so aged, badly fitted out and painfully slow that her commander, Philip Carteret
, could hardly believe her intended to make the whole voyage, and a store-ship which was in fact designed to return from the Strait of Magellan. She did so while the Swallow
followed the Dolphin
in a four months' passage of the Strait which was one of the longest and most agonising on record. At the western entrance, as difficult weather blew up, they parted company—the Dolphin
into the ocean, the Swallow
forced back into the Strait. They did not meet again. Wallis's instructions were to look for the continent west of Gape Horn, where he might pick up its coast in longitude 100° or 120° W; having found it, he might return round the Horn, or if driven too far north, by way of the East Indies. If he had not found it, he was to search north-west to latitude 20° S, and then refit in China or the East Indies for his homeward passage. The writers of instructions were all too hopeful of making a westing from the Horn or the Strait, and by the time Wallis, driven north-west from the start, crossed the hundredth meridian he was at about latitude 38°. Early June brought him into the Tuamotus, slightly north of 20°, a succession of atolls and islets he named with proper feeling after the royal dukes—until, on the 18th of the month, he came to an island such as dreams and enchantments are made of, real land though it was: an island of long beaches and lofty mountains, romantic in the pure ocean air, of noble trees and deep valleys, of bright falling waters. Man in his cool dwellings there was not vile—after one skirmish with a large canoe fleet in the bay where the Dolphin
anchored—nor woman neither; welcoming and tender were the brown beautiful girls, with tattoed thighs and chaplets of sweet-smelling flowers, though a little mercenary it is true—so that the ship almost fell to pieces as ardent spirits in her company wrenched out the nails that were the price of love. There was a Queen, one Oborea, all dignity, tall and strong, who lifted the ailing Wallis like a child over bad places in the road, yet wept when he announced his departure. Grief indeed was then general. There was abundance of food produced in a delightful climate; the climate itself almost made sick sailors well. This spot it was that Wallis called King George the Third's Island, annexing it to the dominions of that monarch, this bay of his anchorage Port Royal Bay. It was the island of Tahiti, famous name, the heart of
Polynesia: on the day that Wallis discovered it the knell of Polynesia began to sound.
Five weeks later he departed westward. He picked up other islets in no way comparable to his great discovery, including the two northernmost of the Tongan archipelago, whence he changed course north-west, to refresh again at Tinian, one of the Marianas; he sailed round north of the Philippines, south to Batavia, refitted at the Gape, and brought home his news. Not merely did that news include the announcement of King George's Island, but also an exact position for it, astronomically ascertained at Port Royal Bay by John Harrison
, the purser of the Dolphin
—latitude 17° 30′ S, longitude 150° W. This unusual purser had arrived at the longitude by—to use bis qaptain's words—‘taking the Distance of the Sun from the Moon and Working it according to Dr Masculines Method which we did not understand.’1
The position was almost in the centre of the area prescribed by Maskelyne as the most favourable for observations of the Transit of Venus south of the line; and, as a place of observation, it would not have to be rediscovered before it could be utilised, as the Marquesas or the islands of Rotterdam or Amsterdam would have to be. There was another piece of news brought by Wallis, not bruited abroad, and. of less interest at that moment to the Royal Society
, though it would have electrified Dalrymple—and perhaps, at that moment, have driven him almost mad with frustration. On the day Wallis had turned in to the actual Tahiti, some at least of his men were surd they saw to the south at sunset the mountain tops of the southern continent, ‘often talkd of, but neaver before seen by any Europeans.’2
Perennial and brilliant visions!—those sunset continents on the vast Pacific horizon. But, though the Royal Society's interest was in worlds beyond this one, there were people besides Dalrymple who grasped at sailors' stories. In the journal kept by the Dolphin
's master's mate some person from whom, the news could not be kept—perhaps Lord Egmont himself?—scribbled a note on Wallis's discoveries, not only those mentioned in this journal, ‘but others 20 leagues to the south of Georges Island, which are hitherto kept secret… . But Gapt Wallis and his First Lieutenant being both exceedingly ill when at George's Island, in an unknown part of the world, at this immense distance from any possible assistance, & having only one single ship, it was too hazardous under these circumstances, to coast the Continent (which they had then actually in view) and afterwards thought most prudent on their return, not to
take notice that they had ever seen it at all.’1
The Admiralty, not with quite such faith, also took note; for obviously a voyage to the South Sea could have more than one purpose. However that might be, when the Royal Society
made known its desire to have the forthcoming expedition go to Tahiti there could hardly be a desire contrary: there lay the land.
That was one necessary decision. There were earlier ones, as we have seen, on the command and naming of the ship, and her furnishing with stores and provisions (it is fairly clear that the Admiralty was thinking of a two years' voyage). The command: there was still a point to settle. Cook was to command, and in nautical parlance he would be the captain, but the captain of a ship might not necessarily be a captain in a navy list. This one was a master, taken only for the time being—so it seems—from the Newfoundland survey, and it may be that the Lords had no intention initially of giving him a higher rank; for a commission instead of a warrant might simply, on a long view, limit his usefulness. Why commission a man who was so exceedingly useful as a master, and one who—be it added—might very well lose and not gain income by the change? This seems to be the deduction from the remark that ‘It was once proposed that C. Cook should only have a Mate as the second in Command, with 35 Seamen’,2
which would even then have been about twice the complement of the ship as a North Sea collier. It was Mr Cook who waited on the Council of the Royal Society on 5 May. Discussion went on, raising the complement to seventy, which included forty able seamen—the Lords no doubt contemplated a considerable amount of disease and death—though no marines. Either for this reason of for some other it was decided to elevate the commander's rank: on 25 May it was ‘Resolved that Mr James Cook
2d be appointed first Lieutenant of the Endeavour Bark.’3
He had caught up with Mr James Cook the first, lieutenant of the Gosport
; that name-sake, however meritorious an officer, becomes merely a curiosity for a footnote. The new lieutenant was commissioned the same day, ‘required and directed to use the utmost dispatch in getting’ the ship ‘ready for the sea accordingly, and then falling down to Gallions Reach take in her guns and gunners’ stores at that place and proceed to the Nore for further orders.' He went to work with energy; orders and warrants and his own communications followed thick and fast. Another officer was immediately appointed, Mr Zachary
Hicks, promoted second lieutenant from acting lieutenant in a sloop, and no doubt had his hands full too.
The supplies kept pouring into that capacious hold:1
twelve months of all species of provisions at whole allowance except beer, of which one month, and brandy in lieu of the remainder, for seventy men, for foreign service, water, eight tons of iron ballast, coals to be used as ballast, more iron ballast, additional stores and provisions as she could stow, mustard seed, a green baize floor cloth for the great cabin (Cook's request: ‘if there be not painted Canvas in store’, agreed the Navy Board
), four additional swivel guns, additional salt, one hundred gallons of arrack additional to the spirits already supplied, puncheons, hogsheads and barrels for wine and water, twenty cork jackets, stationery, ‘a Machine for sweetening foul water’, surgeon's necessaries. The admiralty and its sub-departments—Navy Board, Sick and Hurt Board, Victualling Board—were in an experimenting mood with provisions, and this sort of voyage gave an excellent opportunity to experiment. We are not to think that the original impulse to reform came from Cook. Scurvy, the great enemy, was known to be a dietary disease, and sailors enough knew pragmatically that fresh food would prevent or cure it. Yet how on some long passage without sight of land, how on some tedious blockade, with a ship's company half-starved at the very beginning to provide or simulate the fresh food that meant salvation simply because it broke the awful succession of salt beef, salt pork, salt fat, of ‘bread’—the hard-baked biscuit that yet was penetrable to every variety of noxious insect that haunted a ship—of dried pease, oil and vinegar? True, there were raisins and sugar, to go with the suet into the duff. Some hope was now being entertained of ‘sour krout’, the German stouerkraut
, a preparation of fermented cabbage: a supply of two pounds per week forseventy men for twelve months was supplied, and Cook was to report to the Victualling Board on his return ‘how he had found the same to answer.’ He was given 1000 lb of ‘portable soup’, cakes of a sort of glue or meat essence, that could be boiled with pease or oatmeal on the three banyan or meatless days of the week Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and would not anyhow spoil whatever nutritive value the pease and oatmeal had. There were robs of lemons and oranges, syrups preserved with sugar, the invaluable juices being deprived of their virtues in the boiling down process. There was a wort or decoction of malt held by the Irish physician Dr David MacBride
to be ‘of great benefit to seamen in scorbutic and other putrid diseases’ (it is the Admiralty secretary writing), and
that was to be tried. Copies of Dr MacBride's Experimental Essays
, which had reached a second edition in the previous year, were supplied also. Saloup, that popular drink, was thought worth taking. There was going to be a good deal of reporting to be done. Wallis's surgeon, John Hutchinson, was reporting already on some of these things. It is odd that the Admiralty could ignore so completely the work on citrus fruits of Dr James Lind
, whose Treatise of the Scurvy
of 1753 might have saved the lives of innumerable sailors. There is no indication that Cook ever heard of it. This again is odd, because Palliser, advised by Lind, had had striking experience of the value of lemon juice on a voyage to India and back in 1748, and a rob was no substitute for the fresh fruit. There was, of course, the difficulty of keeping the fruit in a fresh state.
Cook himself with particularity applied for scientific instruments; and as he wrote out his applications at the Admiralty Office and received immediate replies from the secretary it appears that he was perfecting his technique of explaining on the spot what he wanted and losing no time over paper pleas. ‘In order to make surveys of such parts as His Majesty's Bark the Endeavour under my command may touch at, it will be necessary to be provided with a set of Instruments for that purpose.’1
He is told by Stephens to buy them and send in the account, as once before. He wants a ‘Theodolite compleate’, a plane table, a brass scale two feet long, a double concave glass, a ‘Glass for traceing Plans from the light’, a parallel ruler, ‘A Pair of Proportional Compass's’, stationery and colours. They cost £48 10s.2
Then there is a compass of a different sort: ‘Admiralty Office. Doctor Knight hath got an Azimuth Compass of an Improve'd construction which may prove to be of more general use than the old ones; please to move my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to order the Endeavour Bark under my command to be supplyed with it.’3
And a micrometer: ‘Admiralty Office. The Navy Board have been please'd to supply His Majesty's Bark the Endeavour under my command with the Reflecting Telescope that was on board the Grenville Schooner for makeing Astronomical Observations at Newfoundland; in order to make it of more general use I have got made a Micrometer for measuring the apparent magnitudes of the Heavenly Bodies, which will be of great service in the observation of the Transit [of] Vinus, the Bill for which I here inclose….’4
The Lords made no difficulty. It was now almost the end of July, and the Royal Society
had long arranged for the instruments that it was providing: ‘2 Reflecting Telescopes of two feet focus, with a Dollond's micrometer to one of them and moveable wires for the other, now at Mr Shorts, 2 Wooden Stands for the Telescopes with polar axes, suited to the Equator… . An astronomical quadrant of one foot radius, made by Mr Bird… . An astronomical Clock and alarum Clock, now at the Royal Observatory. A Brass Hadley's sextant, bespoke by Mr Maskelyne of Mr Ramsden. A Barometer bespoke of Mr Ramsden. 1 Journeyman Clock, bespoke of Mr Shelton. 2 Thermometers of Mr Bird. 1 Stand for Bird's Quadrant, now at the house of the Society. A Dipping Needle, bespoke of Mr Ramsden.’1
Dollond Short, Bird, Shelton, Ramsden—famous names; they are the great instrument-makers. The Astronomer Royal lent the Society an admirable watch of his own. A portable wood and canvas observatory, designed by Smeaton of the Eddystone lighthouse, was constructed, overseen by Maskelyne and Cook. In the products of technology the expedition could not have been better equipped.
Then there was the miscellany of trifles for winning the friendship of islanders and carrying on trade with them—nails, mirrors, fishhooks, hatchets, red and blue beads, scissors, even a few dolls.
An expedition is not merely a ship or technology or trade-goods, it is men. The men who served with Cook over the next ten or eleven years provide an interesting study in human nature and capacity, and some of those who joined the Endeavour
were with him till the end. Officers naturally stand out with more prominence, though now and again a ray of light makes vivid, for good or ill, one of the able seamen or other inhabitants of the vessel whom casual fate in that century picked up and turned into circumnavigators. Of Zachary Hicks, commissioned as second lieutenant, it would be agreeable to know more. He was a Londoner, born at Stepney in 1739, and carried on board the seeds of tuberculosis—how acquired we do not know, but it was a plague to which seamen were not immune. He entered the navy at Ripon, which is some distance from Stepney, whether as a volunteer or a pressed man, and when, again we do not know—probably not pressed, as the records refer to him as a midshipman; he was in sloops as A.B., master's mate, and acting lieutenant from 1766 to 1768, and in March of the latter year was given a lieutenant's pay, two months before his appointment to the Endeavour
on 26 May. It was an appointment which he held for precisely three years. At the age of 29 it seems that he was experienced and mature, a good sailor and officer, a man with a good eye when it came to discriminating between land and cloud-banks, one of forethought and independent judgment. He was one of those men who take responsibility without the chance to shine, the men who look after the ship; obviously thoroughly equal to his duties. What else might have happened to him one cannot guess; for he was doomed. When July was two-thirds past, the Admiralty concluded that another lieutenant would be an advantage, and appointed John Gore. He comes before us in the end much more clearly than does Hicks, because in the end we see and read more of him. Certainly neither was a ready writer. Gore was—probably—in his late thirties. He was American-born, had gone to sea in 1755 and served for five years as a midshipman in larger vessels than Hicks's sloops, in the Atlantic, the West Indies and the Mediterranean. He was a master's mate in the Dolphin
under both Byron and Wallis, so that he knew already more about the Pacific and its islands than anybody else in the ship. Under Wallis he was one of the men who had taken over the chief responsibilities of the voyage, and he was indeed an excellent subordinate. He is a particular type of sailor—perhaps, if he were not an American, a particular type of Englishman; in eleven years more to be a captain through sheer force of survival, never an admiral; a man of commonsense, able practice, and ceaseless activity, without scientific learning, with some dogmatic fancies but no real imagination; a great sportsman who has gone after wild cattle on Tinian to provide fresh beef for the Dolphin
, who will go after the wild duck in Tahiti, the kangaroo and the stingray in Australia; who is ready for any expedition into any country anywhere, of pleasure or of duty. A third man, quite different from these two, a lieutenant before the voyage was out, but for most of it indifferently A.B., midshipman or master's mate—the lines are indifferently drawn—was Charles Clerke. A farmer's son from Weathersfield in Essex, entering the navy in 1755 at the age of twelve, captain's servant and midshipman to be, he was now 25 and looking forward to a commission. A young fellow ripe for every sort of excitement, he was bound to be on the mizen-top of the Bellona
when the mast was shot away in a celebrated action with the Courageux
in 1761, bound to survive and crawl half-drowned up the chains. He too was in the Dolphin
with Byron, but served in the West Indies during Wallis's voyage. He had enough mathematical ability to become a good scientific navigator, and was a good observer of natural phenomena. Brave as well as experienced, he was also,
beneath a rattling exterior, a man with a profound sense of duty. What made him invaluable was his high spirits. Clerke was always cheerful, talkative, amusing, with some of the rollicking vices as well as the rollicking virtues; a generous spirit who made friends easily; tall, long-nosed, with an eye both roving and sparkling. He was with Cook on all the voyages; the development of his personality is remarkably interesting. The survival of a handful of his letters, in addition to his journals, gives one a certain sense of intimacy with him; it must be a difficult soul who, when all is over, does not feel some affection for him as well.
Other men came with Gore from the Dolphin, joining their new ship after only three or four weeks on shore—Robert Molyneux, Richard Pickersgill, Francis Wilkinson. They were young, nevertheless the first two, who had both been master's mates, were good hands at drawing a chart, and were to add something to the surveying strength of the Endeavour. Molyneux became master, Pickersgill and Wilkinson his mates. Molyneux undoubtedly had intelligence, though Cook was never to trust him completely; he was, like so many of his fellows, intemperate with drink, which was a defect in a master. Wilkinson was to keep an unusually articulate journal. Pickersgill was the most interesting of the three. Another Yorkshire-man, not twenty when the voyage began, he ended it as master; a good observer, able and amiable, a natural romantic, a little oversensitive, a little given to the grandiose concept and the swelling word, yet a successful subordinate, he was to do good work for Cook. At some latter stage he also went down before intemperance; and then, taken away into independent command, was struck by disaster. The bottle played havoc with too many of these young men, and we have to remember again what century it was. William Brougham Monkhouse, the surgeon, was another, though here one may possibly overstate the addiction. A Cumberland man, not without professional merit, he had been surgeon in the Niger for some years from 1763, and thus had been on the Newfoundland station; he was literate and accurate in observation, and one regrets that only a small portion of his journal has survived. He had a conscientious surgeon's mate in William Perry, who was to earn Cook's high regard. Whether we shall regard midshipmen—the ‘young gentlemen’—as officers is a moot point. They were petty officers, and in due course they would be able to take their lieutenant's examination, and under Cook they would get a very good training indeed. They would have to serve a good deal of their time as able seamen, if they were old enough. If not, they got to know the sea, like Isaac Manley, aged 12, son of a
bencher of the Middle Temple, who appears first as the master's servant, is classed as a midshipman in February 1771, when vacancies exist; and long after his voyages with Cook becomes an admiral, and the last survivor of this voyage of the Endeavour. There are some more responsible and experienced young fellows, like Jonathan Monkhouse, the surgeon's brother; and Isaac Smith, Mrs Cook's cousin, aged 16, who had been for a season in the Grenville, and now is a ‘very expert’ help in surveying; and there are some rather odd young fellows as well.
There is not much that can be said collectively about the crew. It was a young crew: few of them had passed their thirtieth year, very few were as old as their captain. Few of them achieved any particular distinction, except of being black or parti-coloured, sheep; many got drunk, and stole liquor whenever they could; practically all went after women; a few tried to desert, more talked about deserting; some were rash, quarrelsome, disobedient or ‘mutinuous’—that is, they swore at the master; some were flogged. Granting the custom of flogging, and the regulations of the navy, they were not flogged excessively. Cook would have no scenes in the Endeavour
like those he had witnessed in Halifax harbour. We may regard it as a triumph of administration that in that overcrowded ship there were so few unpleasant scenes avoidable by any human agency. On the whole that crew was to win the captain's respect in most of the situations to which destiny had called them from their separate corners of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. There were two or three from farther afield, like James Maria Magra from New York, and Antonio Ponto from Venice, and John Dozey from ‘the Brazils’. The British navy took what it could get; Cook, on this voyage, took what he was given. He did struggle over one matter: that was the ship's cook (there were other cooks: the captain had a cook, the lieutenants had a cook). ‘Honble
Gentlemen,’ he expostulated to the Navy Board
on 13 June, ‘The man you have been pleased to appoint Cook of His Majestys Bark the Endeavour, is a lame infirm man, and incapable of doing his Duty without the assistance of others; and as he doth not seem to like his appointment, beg you will be pleased to appoint another.’1
The Board, at once agreeable, appointed John Thompson. Cook wrote again three days later, having inspected the newcomer: ‘as this man hath had the misfortune to loose his right hand, I am of opinion that he will be of little Service; and as I am very desirous of having no one on board but what is fully able to do their duty in their respective stations I hope the Board will not be displeased at my
objecting to this man also, and at the same time to recommend Jn° Pritchard to be appointed, who (tho' a Pensioner of the Chest at Chatham) is a very able Man.’1
This suggestion the Board would not accept: there was no other ship for John Thompson. If the new lieutenant had cared to go back in history, he might have found an Admiralty order of 1704, calling on the Navy Board
, in the future appointment of cooks, ‘to give the preference to such cripples and maimed persons as are pensioners of the chest on Chatham’;2
but his candidate was too able. John Thompson seems to have been successful enough, or at least no worse than other cooks.
At the beginning of August, the Admiralty, which had started off with a total complement of seventy, decided to raise it to 85, including a dozen marines—a sergeant, corporal, drummer, and nine privates. This meant more provisions; wonder and admiration grow at the infinite capacity of Messrs Fishburn's collier. Cook might have felt disconcerted at this, particularly since it was only twelve days since he had heard, officially, that he was to take a scientific party with him, as well as Mr Green and his servant; if so, he made no recorded sign. We may feel disconcerted ourselves, reading through the ship's muster-books, to find rising out of the Pacific Ocean, as it were, in April 1769 a James Cook who becomes Hicks's servant, and then in September 1769 a Nathaniel Cook, A.B. In May 1771 the first becomes the servant of Clerke, on his promotion to third lieutenant, and the second becomes the carpenter's servant. Who were these two persons thus listed, without details of origin or age? They were the sons of Lieutenant James Cook, aged six years and five years respectively, and were then comfortably at home at 7 Assembly Row. Their names were on the ship's books ‘earning time’, so that, if they should enter the navy, they could sit their lieutenant's examination in the shortest period practically possible, irrespective of the letter of the regulations. This was chicanery, but accepted naval custom. It is interesting to see Cook ambitious for his family, interesting to see that his ambitions for his young sons were centred on the navy, and that he wanted them to be lieutenants before they were forty; interesting that for their advancement he was willing to follow the example of post-captains and admirals innumerable, in flagrant defiance of an act of parliament which threatened the penalty of permanent dismissal from the service.3
One comes to the civilians, and first to Mr Green, who has already appeared before the Council of the Royal Society, and may be regarded for practical purposes as a civilian.1 He was a Yorkshire farmer's son, born in 1735, who had become an accomplished astronomer; he had been assistant to two astronomers royal at Greenwich, Bradley and Bliss, and in Bliss's incumbency had done most of the work; in 1763 he made the voyage to Barbados with Maskelyne to test John Harrison's chronometer. As a reward for his services then he had, on the recommendation of the Board of Longitude, been appointed a purser in the navy, in the fifth-rate Aurora. A purser was not incited, but was expected, to do better for himself than his pay would indicate. At Barbados he had fallen out with Maskelyne, who nevertheless had a high enough professional opinion of him to insist on his appointment by the Royal Society, and he was now granted leave of absence from his ship, ‘upon his finding a sufficient Deputy’—which he must have done. He was indefatigable in making and calculating from observations, because his functions went far beyond the stated one of observing the Transit, and he was a good teacher of others. He, alas, was another of those whose life was inadequately regulated, a matter which was to be remarked upon later. He, and Cook as observer, might be regarded as the ship's most important passengers—if we can separate Cook the Royal Society's man from Cook the captain. But the Royal Society was willing to do more for philosophical pursuits, at no expense to itself, than its duty to the Transit implied; and the consequence for Cook and for the Endeavour was Mr Joseph Banks. This implied a great deal.
Mr Joseph Banks is the young gentleman we have already encountered so briefly in the harbour of St John's, two years before, at the end of his summer's holiday, in the Niger
, about to attend the Governor's ball. He is now twenty-five years old, since 1766 a Fellow of the Royal Society, and bent on greater things in the way of travel. He is one of those fortunate beings, an eighteenth-century English landed proprietor, with an ample income that would continue to rise, partly, and largely, through his own good management of his estates, partly through family bequests. The issue of some generations of Lincolnshire land-owners, seated at Revesby Abbey
near Boston, men of a fair level of intelligence and public spirit, he had been educated both at Harrow and Eton, and then, almost, both at Oxford and Cambridge—for, finding no instruction at Oxford in the science of botany, he had made nothing of going over to Cambridge, picking up a botanist there, and bringing him back to lecture at Oxford. Joseph Banks
's love at this time—indeed, always one of his loves—was botany. He never became, he could never have become, a scholar in the ordinary sense. He remained, in terms of the eighteenth-century conventions, uneducated. A more intimate acquaintance with the classics would merely have dragged him from his own original passion, pursued as a child in the fields and lanes outside school, nourished on Gerard's Herbal
, extended to the other phenomena of schoolboys' natural history, butterflies and beetles and shells, extended with time to all the branches of natural history; and his own original passion, as things turned out, was important for the the science of his time. Not Homer, not Virgil or Ovid, but Linnaeus was the god of his idolatry. A few semi-philosophical ideas he accumulated; but what he was really after was the detail of the natural world. There was no limit to Banks's curiosity, within limits—if one may put it in this way—laid down by himself. His father died when he was eighteen. He was virtually his own master from that time. As soon as he came of age he bought a house in London. His good looks, his charm, his enthusiasm, his interests, brought him excellent friends, from John Montagu
, fourth Earl of Sandwich, his senior by twenty-five years, who had been First Lord of the Admiralty and was to be so again, to a wide circle of natural historians and antiquarians. It was no wonder that, instead of travelling in Europe and inspecting the ruins of Rome, he should elect to travel to Newfoundland with his friend Lieutenant Constantine John Phipps
and inspect the works of Nature there, collecting plants and insects instead of dubious Old Masters and heavily-restored marbles. It was no wonder that, after his return and two or three tours of curiosity about England, he should think of a journey to Sweden to salute the great Linnaeus, even of one to Lapland in Linnaeus's footsteps. It was no wonder that, in a stroke of something like genius, he should discard this idea in favour of shipping himself in the Endeavour.
When he first put the notion to the Royal Society
is uncertain, but quite early in April, even before the decision to appoint Cook had been made public, a friend seemed to think that his influence might be useful in the appointment of a midshipman.1
A great deal seemed to be
assumed about Mr Banks, not least by Mr Banks himself. When, one asks in vain, was Cook first apprised of the plan? It was not put formally to the Admiralty till 9 June, by which time Banks had certainly made all his arrangements—except one. The Society's secretary, announcing the appointment of Green and Cook as observers, supplemented his letter thus:
Joseph Banks Esqr Fellow of this Society, a Gentleman of large fortune, who is well versed in natural history, being Desirous of undertaking the same voyage the Council very earnestly request their Lordships, that in regard to Mr Banks's great personal merit, and for the Advancement of useful knowledge, He also, together with his Suite, being seven persons more, that is, eight persons in all, together with their baggage, be received on board of the Ship, under the Command of Captain Cook.1
The Admiralty may have taken a little time to digest this, and perhaps consider it with Cook; for not till 22 July was Cook formally ordered to receive Green and his servant and baggage, and Banks and all his people and baggage, ‘bearing them as supernumeries for Victuals only, and Victualling them as the Barks Company during their Continuance on Board’.2 However great Mr Banks's personal merit, their Lordships had no thought of preferential treatment. It meant some rearrangement of cabin space, and lieutenants and warrant officers can not have been immediately pleased (the date was that on which the Admiralty announced the addition of a third lieutenant, with servant). Then there was the decision to add the marines. And then Banks wanted someone else, and got him. He got Dr Solander.
Everybody liked Solander—Dr by courtesy, not right; how could a learned Swede not be Dr? Ten years older than Banks, five years younger than Cook, Daniel Carl (the second name assumed to distinguish him from another Daniel) Solander was one of the favourite pupils of Linnaeus, and when the London natural historians urged the master to send some one to England to spread the Linnaean gospel, he was the chosen man. He arrived in 1760. Acute and encyclopaedic in his knowledge, yet an ever-diligent and unostentatious student, modest, cheerful and friendly to all his acquaintance, his popularity among the scientists and the collectors was great. He was a sort of touchstone. He liked London. He refused to go to the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences as its professor of botany. London was charmed. In 1763 he became an assistant at the British Museum, organising the vast Sloane collection, and
in 1764 a Fellow of the Royal Society. It was about this time that Banks, just down from Oxford, got to know the brilliant and amiable man, and was introduced by him to a wider scientific world. Solander, not exactly the type of which heroes are made, had not chosen the role of ‘apostle’, as Linnaeus called the young men his students at Uppsala who went forth to study and collect in the far and perilous places of the world, the victims of pirates and plague, hunger, thirst and poverty, who every so often died on their travels—the young men in the Americas, the Atlas mountains and Palestine, the East Indies, China and Japan: unless it be apostleship to survey the Duchess of Portland's numerous cabinets and work at the British Museum. Nevertheless the role claimed him. This was the arrangement, if one's reading of the evidence is correct, that Banks had not made. It happened at dinner at the house of Lady Anne Monson
, the daughter of an earl, and a hostess of standing. The conversation ran on about the intended voyage, Banks no doubt enlarging upon his own intentions; Solander took fire, leapt to his feet and proposed himself as a travelling companion. Banks was enraptured. Next day he talked the Admiralty into acquiescence. Solander was the only person of note who did not take a servant.
Banks, as we have seen, took a ‘suite’: two artists, a secretary, four servants, and—for he was an Englishman—two dogs. The first of the artists was Sydney Parkinson, the young son of a Quaker brewer of Edinburgh. Apprenticed to a woollen-draper after his father's death, his talent for drawing would out, and he came to London, where his flowers and fruits attracted the attention of the natural historians. Banks employed him, had been going to take him on his abandoned northern journey, and found him an indispensable choice for this larger one, in which botanical investigation, he intended, would bulk so greatly. Parkinson was indeed to find much to do. His talent did not stop with the pencil or the brush; he was intelligent, highly observant, sensible, sensitive, serious, with ever-expanding interests in the new, so un-Quaker world where his life was now cast; a slight dark wisp of a young man, long-nosed, with long thin fingers, a rather prim little mouth; a young man of the highest moral standards. His fellow-draughtsman, Alexander Buchan, comes alive much less; pleasant, with some talent, but also an epileptic, whether Banks knew that at the outset of the voyage or not, and epileptic fits were no sort of equipment for a travelling artist. He was engaged to draw the figure and ‘landskip’. The secretary was Herman Diedrich Spöring, another Swede, in between Solander and Cook in age, the son of a professor of medicine at the University of Å in Finland; after
taking a course in surgery at Stockholm he had sought his fortune in London. He had not found it; he made his living for eleven years as a watchmaker, and was then employed for two years by Solander as a clerk.1 Here no doubt came first the link with Banks. Spöring had probably a leaning to natural history, like so many other men trained in medicine; his watch-maker's fingers were potentially very useful, while both his eye and his fingers made him a very useful supplementary draughtsman; ‘a grave thinking man’, as Banks called him, he was no mere copyist. The four servants were two countrymen from Banks's Lincolnshire estate, James Roberts and Peter Briscoe, and two negroes, Thomas Richmond and George Dorlton. And Banks's baggage was no trifle. What it was, in part, we get some indication of in a well-known, though not totally accurate, letter from the natural historian John Ellis to his admired correspondent Linnaeus. How delightful was scientific gossip! Banks and Solander, he writes, would collect all the natural curiosities of ‘the new discovered country in the South Sea’, and after the completion of the observations of the Transit,
they are to proceed under the direction of Mr. Banks, by order of the Lords of the Admiralty, on further discoveries of the great Southern continent, and from thence proceed to England by the Cape of good Hope…. No people ever went to sea better fitted out for the purpose of Natural History, nor more elegantly. They have got a fine library of Natural History; they have 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 to a great depth, where it is clear. They have many cases of bottles with ground stoppers, of several sizes, to preserve animals in spirits. They have the several sorts of salt to surround the seeds; and wax, both beeswax and that of the Myrica; besides there are many people whose sole business it is to attend them for this very purpose. They have two painters and draughtsmen, several volunteers who have a tolerable notion of Natural History; in short Solander assured me this expedition would cost Mr. Banks ten thousand pounds.2
‘All this’, concluded Ellis, ‘is owing to you and your writings.’ That may be true. It is fairly clear that Banks, however lavish he was in expenditure over equipment—and one could easily add to the list that Ellis gives—could not have spent £10,000. It is quite clear that neither the Admiralty nor Cook had the idea that any part of
the voyage should be conducted under the direction of Mr Banks. It is interesting to note however that some part, at least, of the scientific world was already impressed with an elevated opinion of the part that Banks was supposed to play in it. Perhaps because of this was he able to take with him something he could not buy, an addition to the useful small library of voyages and travels with which the ship was already endowed. This was a copy of Dalrymple's pamphlet of 1767, with its map of Pacific discoveries pricked with explorers' tracks, presented to him by the author; and perhaps Dalrymple felt able to give it to him as one fellow of the Royal Society
to another, when Cook, as a recipient, would have been altogether ruled out. It is obvious that a great deal of the happiness of the voyage would depend on the relations that developed between the civilians thus embarked and the sailors whom they dispossessed of their quarters—and, in particular, between the gentleman of large fortune and large assumption of his rights, and Cook, the master so recently given his first commission, in social standing so remarkably below this new and surprising shipmate. It would have occurred to no seaman that the presence of Banks could be a positive advantage.
There was also among the ship's company a goat. This animal had already contributed to Pacific history. Sailing in the Dolphin with Wallis, on the first morning at Tahiti she had cleared the deck of all visitors by butting one of them unexpectedly on the behind. She had supplied milk for the officers, and this was to be her function again.
On 30 July the Lords of the Admiralty signed Cook's instructions.1
They were denoted secret. They were in two parts. The first part pertained to the passage to King George's Island and the observation of the Transit. Cook, then in Gallions Reach, was to put in at Plymouth, where his men were to be paid two months' wages in advance. After sailing he was to call first at Madeira, to take in wine; having done so, he was to ‘proceed round Cape Horn to Port Royal Harbour in King Georges Island’, touching if he thought necessary on the coast of Brazil or at Port Egmont, the British settlement in the Falklands, for water and refreshments. The plan to go round the Horn, no doubt, was the result of the fearful passage of the Strait of Magellan that Wallis had had, though the previous naval expedition
to venture the Horn, Anson's, had been shattered in the process: what knowledge there was of the winds was reflected in the injunction to stand well to the southward (Anson's advice),1
in order to make a good westing, but to fall into the parallel of the island at least 120 leagues to the eastward of it. The ship would arrive at Tahiti a month or six weeks before the critical date, 3 June, to allow of proper preparations. Cook received copies of the Dolphin
surveys, plans and ‘views’; and he was to record all the additional things of the sort he could. He was ‘to endeavour by all proper means to cultivate a friendship with the Natives, presenting them such Trifles as may be acceptable to them, exchanging with them for Provisions (of which there is great Plenty) such of the Merchandize you have been directed to Provide, as they may value, and shewing them every kind of Civility and regard. But as Captn
Wallis has represented the Island to be very populous, and the Natives (as well there as at the other Islands which he visited) to be rather treacherous than otherwise you are to be Cautious not to let yourself be surprized by them, but to be Constantly on your guard against any accident.’ If he was not able to make a landing, he was to find some other place for the observation within the limits of latitude and longitude laid down by the Royal Society
. ‘When this Service is perform'd you are to put to Sea without Loss of Time, and carry into execution the Additional Instructions contained in the inclosed Sealed Packet.’
These additional instructions were devoted mainly to the Southern Continent.
Whereas the making Discoverys of Countries hitherto unknown, and the Attaining a Knowledge of distant Parts which though formerly discover'd have yet been but imperfectly explored, will redound greatly to the Honour of this Nation as a Maritime Power, as well as to the Dignity of the Crown of Great Britain, and may tend greatly to the advancement of the Trade and Navigation thereof; and Whereas there is reason to imagine that a Continent or Land of great extent, may be found to the Southward of the Tract lately made by Captn Wallis in His Majesty's Ship the Dolphin (of which you will herewith receive a Copy) or of the Tract of any former Navigators in Pursuits of the like kind…. [on leaving Tahiti] You are to proceed to the southward in order to make discovery of the Continent abovementioned until you arrive in the Latitude of 40°, unless you sooner fall in with it. But not having discover'd it or any evident signs of it in that Run, you are to proceed in search of it to the Westward between the Latitude before mentioned and the Latitude of 35° until you discover it,
or fall in with the Eastern side of the Land discover'd by Tasman and now called New Zeland.
These, it may be remarked, are excellent instructions, drafted by someone—whoever it was—who knew the extent of geographical conjecture. If the continent was where it was said to be, this course would infallibly reveal it; and to sail south from Tahiti (if there was anything in the Dolphin's view of the cloud banks) was a much more economical procedure than to try to sail west from Cape Horn. Then, as a second-best, New Zealand anyhow must exist—a distant part which though formerly discovered had yet been but imperfectly explored: all being well it could hardly elude the search. If he should discover the continent, then Cook was to explore as much of the coast as he could, and bring back all possible observations, charts, views and hydrographic details—a list almost as inclusive as if he were setting out on a season's work in Newfoundland. That was not all: the Lords wished to know about the nature of the soil and its products, beasts, birds, fishes and minerals; they wanted seeds of trees, fruits and grains, and an account of the native inhabitants, if any, and friendship, alliance and trade with them; the discoverer was ‘with the Consent of the Natives to take possession of Convenient Situations in the Country in the Name of the King of Great Britain; or, if you find the Country uninhabited take Possession for His Majesty by setting up Proper Marks and Inscriptions, as first discoverers and possessors.’
‘But if you should fail of discovering the Continent before-mention'd, you will upon falling in with New Zealand'—New Zealand, we see, was taken for granted—ascertain its latitude and longitude; and—the demands are fewer than for the continent—‘explore as much of the Coast as the Condition of the Bark, the health of her Crew, and the State of your Provisions will admit of’; reserving provisions sufficient to reach a known port where enough could be obtained for a passage to England, either round the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn, whichever should be judged the better. The situation of newly-discovered islands too should be ascertained, and those that seemed to be of consequence should be surveyed and taken possession of, though Cook was never to be diverted from the grand object, the discovery of the Southern Continent. In emergencies he was to consult with his officers. The closing paragraph dealt with reports to the Royal Society and the Admiralty, the confiscation of logs and journals of officers and petty officers, and the ‘enjoyning them, and the whole Crew, not to divulge where they have been until they shall have Permission so to do.’
With all this was provided a note for Cook to display to any of his superior officers in the navy he might encounter, safeguarding the secrecy of the instructions, and ordering that he should be given any assistance he stood in need of.
These were the official instructions. It seems likely that the Lieutenant may have read with great attention also a paper of ‘Hints offered to the consideration of Captain Cooke, Mr Bankes, Doctor Solander, and the other Gentlemen who go upon the Expedition on Board the Endeavour’, prepared by the Earl of Morton, President of the Royal Society, who was not to live to see the expedition return.1 He was a humane man, in an age when humanity was becoming less uncommon, and no other humane man could read his hints without sympathy, even if they were not entirely original. But, remembering the general nature of the century, and the blood that was shed on the immediately preceding voyages, we cannot deem them pointless. Lord Morton reminded the gentlemen ‘To exercise the utmost patience and forebearance with respect to the Natives of the several Lands where the Ship may touch. To check the petulance of the Sailors, and restrain the wanton use of Fire Arms. To have it still in view that sheding the blood of those people is a crime of the highest nature… . They are the natural, and in the strictest sense of the word, the legal possessors of the several Regions they inhabit… . They may naturally and justly attempt to repell intruders, whom they may apprehend are come to disturb them in the quiet possession of their country, whether that apprehension be well or ill founded.’ Therefore every effort should be made to avoid violence: if it became inevitable, then ‘the Natives when brought under should be treated with distinguished humanity, and made sensible that the Crew still considers them as Lords of the Country.’ So much by way of illustration of the President's moral precepts, in the application of which he himself provided illustrations. He had another piece of advice to give in this sphere, or rather in the allied but even higher sphere of religion: ‘Ships of so small a rate, not being furnished with Chaplains, it were to be wished that the Captain himself would sometimes perform that Office, and read prayers, especially on sundays, to the Crew; that they may be suitably impressed with a sense of their continual dependance upon their Maker, and all who are able on board, Passangers and others should be obliged to attend upon those occasions.’
A large part of this paper, not unnaturally, was devoted to matters of scientific observation—first the Transit, then the Continent (‘A Continent in the higher Latitudes, or in a rigorous climate, could be of little or no advantage to this nation’), then the people of any continent that was found, on whom Lord Morton suggested what would be, in modern terms, a comprehensive study in social anthropology; then its Animal, Vegetable and Mineral Systems. ‘These open so vast a field,’ as he justly remarked, ‘that there is no room in this place for descending to particulars’. If we look ahead, as at this stage we may, we shall find that Lord Morton's Hints, ‘hastily put together’ as they were, no less than Cook's instructions from the Admiralty, provide an analysis of the journal and other reports which, after three years, he was to hand in to his astonished masters. We must allow for the non-appearance of a continent.
What discussion led up to the second part of Cook's instructions nowhere seems to be recorded. Nothing, however, could have been more logical. It would have been foolish not to take advantage of having a ship at Tahiti, if Wallis's men had actually sighted a continent—almost, as it seemed, from Tahiti. If they were deceived, but the shore of a continent came anything like as far north as Dalrymple made it, then a trip to 40° south—more than 20 degrees of latitude south of Tahiti—must infallibly pick it up. As to the secrecy of the instructions, they were probably only conventionally secret, an aid to fobbing off possible inconvenient enquiries from Spain. The details were not known; but everybody at all interested knew about the Transit of Venus. There was the usual amount of government mystery; the usual balloons were flown by the press—the Gazetteer
, the Public Advertiser.
‘It is said’ that two sloops of war were to go in quest of the missing Swallow
, to rendezvous at the newly discovered island, and from there to attempt the discovery of the Southern Continent. ‘On the other hand, we are told that no further discoveries in the South Seas will be attempted for the present.’—‘We are informed’ that the principal and almost sole national advantage of George's Land is, ‘its Situation for exploring the Terra Incognita of the Southern Hemisphere.’—‘The gentlemen, who are to sail in a few days for George's Land, the new discovered island in the Pacific ocean, with an intention to observe the Transit of Venus, are likewise, we are credibly informed, to attempt some new discoveries in that vast unknown tract, above the latitude 40.’1
There were wilder statements. There was Ellis's more particular communication to Linnaeus, which suggests that the Banks-Solander circle had talked things over. Everybody assumed that a voyage round the world, apart from anything else, was in prospect.