COOK'S THIRD AND LAST VOYAGE—HIS DEATH
 COOK was now promoted to the rank of Post-Captain, and he was given an appointment which brought with it a good
income. But he did not long stop at home to enjoy his honours. Before a year, had passed he had started on his
third and last voyage of discovery.
But this time he was not to confine himself to the seas south of the equator.
Besides the question of the Great Unknown Land, there was another question which had filled men's minds for
perhaps two hundred years before Cook's day, and over which people puzzled even down to the time when your
grandfathers were young men. This was the question of what was called, the "North-West Passage."
 To understand what is meant by the North-West Passage, you must know that it used to be the dream of sailors,
and of many other men, to find a way round the north of America, whereby ships might sail to China and India
without having to make the weary voyage round the Cape of Good Hope. For more than two hundred years men
looked for this way, and at one time the English Government even offered a reward of £20,000 to the owners of
any ship that should happen to find it. For more than two hundred years men searched, and lost their ships,
and often their lives, in the search.
If you look at a map of North America, as it is now known, it may seem to you a simple thing to sail up Davis
Strait past Greenland to Baffin's Bay, thence through Lancaster Sound, Barrow Strait, and Banks Strait, and so
to Behring Strait and Asia: And that is what men thought, long ago. They had then no maps of that part of
North America, but they believed that there must be such a passage round its northern end.
 But the sea there is covered from year's end to year's end with ice, which opens, in parts, only now and
again; and when it breaks up it is piled in wild confusion in what are called "hummocks." Any ship sailing
into the open water between the moving masses of ice is very likely to be "nipped," and perhaps may never
again get out. It was the terrible ice that prevented men from finding this North-West Passage. But always
they believed that some day it would be found. Every explorer before Cook had tried it by way of Greenland and
Davis Strait. Now it was thought that by starting from the other end, through Behring Strait (the narrow
passage between Asia and America) there might be better fortune.
Cook offered to take command of this new expedition, and, on 12th July 1776, he sailed from Plymouth in his
old ship, the Resolution. With him went a smaller vessel, the Discovery, commanded by Captain
Clerke, who as lieutenant, had been with Cook on his last voyage.
 Cook's plans were to go by way of the Cape of Good Hope to Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand, thence to
Otaheite, where he was to leave Omai, the man who had come from that island to England with Captain Furneaux,
on the Adventure. From Otaheite he was to make for the coast of America, and so up to Behring Strait.
Whilst the Resolution lay in Table Bay, at the Cape of Good Hope, a terrible storm came on and
blew for three days, doing great damage. The anchorage in Table Bay in those days gave little shelter to
vessels during a gale from the north-west, and many a fine ship then dragged her anchors and went to pieces on
the beach. Such storms often come up without much warning, and vessels were sometimes caught unprepared. Even
when they were prepared, sometimes the wind blew with such violence that nothing could save them. On 5th
November 1779 such a gale blew in Table Bay, and ship after ship dragged her anchor and was dashed to pieces.
The English war-ship Jupiter, of 50 guns, was
 one of the few in the bay that rode the storm out in safety. But the Sceptre, of 64 guns, the Danish
war-vessel Oldenborg, of 64 guns, and eight others, were all driven ashore and their crews drowned.
Three waggon-loads of dead were taken next morning to be buried near the hospital, and about one hundred other
bodies, terribly mangled, were buried in one grave on the beach. The Sceptre was taking home to
England much of the plunder and many of the trophies taken at the battle of Seringapatam, in India, and these
are now all lying under the sand of Table Bay.
It was in such a gale as this that the Resolution found herself, and she was the only vessel in
the bay that did not drag her anchors. Cook was never caught unprepared. Luckily, perhaps, the
Discovery had not then reached Table Bay. But she felt the full force of the storm out at sea,
and lost one man overboard.
After leaving the Cape, rough weather followed the ships as they headed east past the storm-beaten Marion and
 Islands. Thence Cook went in search of Kerguelen Land, a large island discovered in 1772 by the French sailor
Kerguelen. On this desolate spot Cook landed, and explored the whole island. Penguins and other sea-birds and
seals were found in plenty, but no other form of life. Trees or shrubs there were none, but a small plant
growing on the sides of the hills gave to them the look of being covered with green grass. In the bays
enormous plants of seaweed were seen, some of them nearly 400 feet in length. Fastened to a rock by a bit of
wire a bottle was found, in which, on a bit of parchment, was a record of the island having been visited in
1772 and 1773 by the French. Cook wrote on the back of the parchment that the Resolution and
Discovery had also been there in 1776, and the bottle was then hidden in a cairn of stones.
Perhaps, if you look, it may be there to this day.
The ships then left for Van Diemen's Land, where they anchored on 26th January 1777. Here natives were seen,
all entirely without
 clothing; they were quite friendly and harmless, and very easily alarmed by the sound of a gun. It is pitiful
to think that this harmless race now no longer lives, and that the natives of Australia are also quickly dying
out. Except in the far interior, it is seldom that an Australian "black-fellow" is now seen. Very soon there
will be none left anywhere.
From Van Diemen's Land the ships now made for Queen Charlotte Sound, where they anchored on 12th February.
This time, at first none of the Maoris would venture on board; the sight of Omai, who had been with the
Adventure when her boat's crew was murdered, seemed to alarm them. But after a little their alarm
wore off, and they became again quite friendly. Even the chief who led the party that killed the boat's crew
did not fear to come on board; and after so long a time, Captain Cook did not think it right to take any
revenge on him. This was greatly to the regret of Omai, whose wishes always ran in the direction of killing
his enemies whenever he had the chance.
 Leaving New Zealand, the two ships now again headed for the Society Islands. On the way several islands were
discovered, and many of those seen on the last voyage were revisited.
At every place there was the old story of thieving, and some of the cases now were so bad that Cook more than
once took strong means to punish the natives, sometimes flogging them, sometimes destroying canoes, or burning
houses. Once, at Anamooka, a thief was caught in the act of stealing, and he was given a dozen lashes and was
ordered to pay a fine of a hog.
After this, no chiefs ever stole; they made their servants steal for them, and when the servants were punished
the chiefs only laughed. It did not hurt them! Nor did the servants care much for a flogging: it
did not keep them from stealing again. A better way of punishing was at last found. Every thief when caught
had his head shaved by the ships' barbers; he was then a marked man, and was never again allowed to come on
board either ship.
 At Huaheine, Omai was put on shore, taking with him a huge quantity of presents. He had been very popular
during his long stay in England, and probably he was very much spoiled by too much notice having been taken of
him. Like most natives, Omni very quickly went back to the customs and dress, or want of dress, of his own
people, and no good came from his visit to England. It is said that often afterwards in Huaheine he used to
shoot with one of his Muskets at a man, just for the fun of seeing how far the musket could carry; and that
with his pistols he often, for the pleasure of the thing, used to shoot persons of whom the king of the island
wanted to get rid. Omai lived only about ten years after Cook left him, and no one was sorry when he died.
On 18th January 1778 high islands were sighted, part of a group till now unknown, a group which will live in
history for all time, because of the terrible thing that happened there little more than a year later.
The islands now sighted were some of
 those named by Cook the Sandwich Islands. On two of them, Atooi and Oneeheow, Cook when he now landed was
treated with extraordinary honour. Wherever he went, the natives threw themselves on the ground and covered
their faces, till signs were made for them to rise. But in spite of this great respect, things were stolen
from the ships, just as had been the case at other islands.
By the crews of the Resolution and Discovery these islands were looked on as a
Paradise almost as lovely as Otaheite, and great was their sorrow when on 2nd February the ships sailed for
the cold waters and snowy shores of North America. Mr. Gilbert, one of the officers of the
Discovery says in his journal that they left the islands "with the greatest regret . . . .
supposing all the pleasures of the voyage to be now at an end; having nothing to expect in future but excess
of cold, hunger, and every kind of hardship and distress.
On 7th March the first American land was sighted. This was part of that coast which Sir Francis Drake two
hundred years before
 had named New Albion, the part that is now known as Oregon. And here the "excess of cold," feared by Mr.
Gilbert, began, for, snow was lying on the hills. Owing to bad weather the two ships were more than three
weeks in sailing about three hundred miles to 'the north, and it was not till 29th March that they anchored in
a fine harbour, called Nootka Sound, in what is now known as Vancouver Island, part of the great Dominion of,
Here indeed did the country differ from the lovely coral islands amongst which they had sailed so lately,
islands to which officers and men longed to return. Here, instead of waving palm trees, were gloomy forests of
pine; instead of beautiful hills covered to their tops with green trees and shrubs, were high mountains
covered with snow. In place of the soft-skinned, smiling Tahitians, paddling in their canoes or swimming in
the warm water round the ships, were natives who seemed both dirty and stupid. They had little to sell except
skins and furs of bears and beavers, of
sea-  otters and other animals, articles not wanted by men whose wishes were all fixed on things they had left in
At Nootka Sound the ships stayed four weeks, repairing the masts and rigging of the Resolution. Stormy
weather followed them as they went north, and the Resolution sprang a bad leak, which gave the
crew hard work at the pumps for some days. So stormy was the weather that it was not till the 2nd of May that
the ships dared to run in towards the land. On every side were seen snow-clad mountains, Mount St. Elias, not
far short of twenty thousand feet in height, towering over everything, a splendid sight in his glittering
white coat. To the north of Mount St. Elias, in a corner of the great inlet which Cook named Prince William's
Sound, the ship's carpenters managed to stop the leak of the Resolution.
On this part of the coast the natives were very different from those of Nootka Sound. They were short and
stout, and were clothed in the skins of seals and of other animals; only in their dirt were they something
 the Nootka men. Their canoes too were different; they were made of the skins of seals stretched over a light
wooden frame. In the centre of these canoes is a hole just big enough for a man to sit in with his legs pushed
forward under the deck. Though so light that a man can easily lift one of the single canoes with one hand,
they can safely go out in a very heavy sea, and the natives sit them with such skill that they can use their
spears freely to kill seals, without any risk of upsetting.
The men that Cook saw here had a curious custom of slitting the upper lip till the gash looked like a second
mouth, and in this they stuck shells, or bones, by way of ornament. Through the end of the nose also they
stuck shells. They were very friendly, but, like most savages, terrible thieves.
The great bay called Cook's Inlet was next visited. Skirting along the coast from here, the ships were more
than once in danger, for often the fog was so thick that they were only saved by letting go their anchors as
soon as the sound of breakers
 was heard. Once, in thick fog, they ran between rocks so close to each other Cook says in his journal he would
"not have ventured in a clear day," and they came, in the fog, "to such an anchoring place that I could not
have chosen a better." He named a point of land near this spot Cape Providence.
Rounding the end of the Peninsula of Alaska, the ships felt their way, in cold, foggy weather, through shoals
and reefs, up, to Bristol Bay and Cape Newenham, round by the most westerly point of America, Cape Prince of
Wales, and so through Behring Strait. In about latitude 65° the coast of Asia was sighted, and three boats'
crews landed in St. Lawrence Bay, where friendly natives were met. These men used sledges drawn by dogs.
On 17th August what is called the "blink" of ice was seen to the north, and the same afternoon, in latitude
70° 44', the ships were stopped by large ice-fields. The land, near at hand on the American coast Cook named
Icy Cape. Till 29th August he tried to find
 an opening through the ice. This way and that he pushed, but all to no purpose; it was not possible to get
through; and Cook. gave up the search for the passage round the north of America.
Whilst the ships were amongst the ice, as well as at many places along the coast, vast numbers of seals and
walruses—sea-lions and sea-horses they were called—were seen on the rocks and on the floating ice;
and many were killed and eaten by the crews. It is not very choice food, but the sailors thought it was better
than salt junk.
Coming back along the American coast from Norton Sound to Cape Newenham, the ships found water so shallow that
they were forced to keep farther out to sea. It was thought that the shoal water and the muddy look of the sea
must be caused by some big river. And so it was. Had they but known it, that is where the mighty Yukon, one of
the largest rivers in the world, flows into the sea—the great river on whose banks of late years so much
gold has been found.
 Cook now sailed again towards the south, meaning to revisit the Society Islands. Great was the delight of the
sailors at the thought of getting back to the joys of their beloved coral islands. On 26th November the ships
came in sight of Mowee, one of the Sandwich group, and soon afterwards they sighted Owhyhee—or, as it is
now called, Hawaii. Neither of these islands had been seen on the first visit of the Resolution
and Discovery. The sailors gazed with longing eyes at the beautiful shores, and at a vast mountain
whose snow-clad top towered into the sky to a height of near fourteen thousand feet.
But though canoes brought out food and fruit, the ships did not anchor till they had worked their way round
the south end of the island into Karakakooa Bay. Here hundreds of canoes, crowded with natives, came off; the
beach was covered with people, and hundreds more, like shoals of fish, swam around the ships. Nowhere in his
travels had Cook seen such crowds.
And now a strange thing was noticed!
 Wherever Captain Cook went, he was treated by the people as if he were something more than man. Priests put
over his shoulders a red cloth, which to them was sacred, used only to drape their idols. They fell on their
faces before him; they came to him with offerings of pigs and of fowls, priests solemnly chanting the while.
In everything they treated him as if they believed him to be a God.
Very long ago there had lived in this island a great chief named Orono. After Orono's wife died, he left the
island, and sailed away to foreign lands. But before sailing, he told his people that long years afterwards he
would come back "on an island bearing cocoa-nut trees, swine, and dogs."
Long the people had looked for Orono, and now, at last, he had come! Who could the strangers be who came to
their shores in ships as big as islands, in ships that had treelike things growing out of them? Who could they
be but Orono and his friends? And so the people worshipped Cook, and
 thought that he and all his sailors were more than mortal.
But after a few weeks things began to change. One of the Resolution's men died, and was buried on
shore. It may have been that the natives thought it strange that one of Orono's friends should die. Perhaps,
too, they grew tired of supplying the ships with so many pigs and so many cocoa-nuts. Then some of the sailors
gave offence by taking the images from a native temple; and soon the people began to wish that Orono would go
On 4th February 1779, to the relief of the natives, the ships sailed. Unluckily, it chanced that in a violent
gale a few days later the Resolution badly damaged her fore-mast, and in less than a week the two
vessels were back in Karakakooa Bay.
Now all was changed. The chiefs were no longer friendly; there was quarrel after quarrel, and the natives
stole, everything they could lay hands on. Once or twice men on shore were attacked with stones,
 and at last one of the Discovery's boats was stolen from her moorings.
Cook was very angry, and on 14th February he went himself on shore with an armed boat's crew and nine marines
to try to get it back. Failing that, he meant to bring the king on board, and to keep him there till the
stolen boat was given up.
HE STAGGERED AND FELL.
There was a good deal of excitement on shore, and the natives crowded round. Cook had not been able to
persuade the king to come with him, and he did not want to use force. He was walking down the beach back to
his boat, when suddenly a native from another part of the bay ran hurriedly into the crowd shouting, "It is
war, They have killed a chief." At once all was confusion. The natives rushed to seize the muskets of the
marines, and a stone was thrown at Cook, who fired with small shot at the man who threw it, but without doing
much damage. The native was then about to throw his spear, when Cook knocked him down with the butt of his
double-barreled gun. Then he was
 forced to fire at a man who was in the act of throwing a spear. Showers of stones were hurled at the marines,
and they, Without waiting for orders, began to fire. Captain Cook waved his hand and shouted to them to stop
firing, but in the noise and confusion his orders were not heard.
The natives now made a rush, and four of the marines were killed; the others managed to get into one of the
boats which had come in close to the shore.
Cook was left alone on the beach. He turned to walk towards the boat, when a chief ran up and struck him with
a heavy club on the back of the head. The captain staggered forward and fell on his hands and knees, dropping
his gun. As he struggled to his feet, another native, rushing in, stabbed him in the back of the neck, and he
fell in the water. Then the natives poured over him, trying to keep him under. Again and again he got his head
above water, fighting for his life. Again and again the weight of numbers forced him back. And now, at length,
strength left him; there
 was none to help; he could struggle no longer. He was stabbed by every native who could get near enough to
him; his head was battered against a rock till he ceased to move.
So sank and died Captain James Cook, the greatest navigator of all time, a man whom all the world honours,
whose name will live as long as the English language is spoken.
His bones were recovered some days later, but only his bones, and not all of them. It is likely that the rest
of him was burned, for the natives of Owhyhee were not cannibals.
They were sad ships that left Karakakooa Bay a week later; sad were his sailors that their officers allowed
them to take no fitting revenge. And a sad day it was for England when the news came home of the death of her
great sailor in the far Pacific.
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