|A Book of Discovery|
|by M. B. Synge|
|A fascinating account of the world's famous explorers, including the early travelers in ancient times, the discovery of the New World, explorations in Africa and Australia, and the expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. Many of the explorers tell part of their story in their own words. Amply illustrated with reproductions of early maps and charts, as well as old woodcuts, drawings, paintings, and miniatures. Emphasis is placed on the explorers' 'record of splendid endurance, of hardships bravely borne, of silent toil, of courage and resolution unequalled in the annals of mankind, of self-sacrifice unrivalled and faithful lives laid ungrudgingly down.' Ages 12-18 |
COOK'S THIRD VOYAGE AND DEATH
 ALTHOUGH the importance of his discoveries was not realised at this time, Cook was given command of two new ships, the
Resolution and Adventure, provisioned for a year for "a voyage to remote parts," a few
months later. And the old Endeavour went back to her collier work in the North Sea.
Perhaps a letter written by Cook to a friend at Whitby on his return from the second voyage is sufficient to
serve our purpose here; for, though the voyage was important enough, yet little new was discovered. And after
spending many months in high latitudes, Cook decided that there was no great southern continent to the south
of New Holland and New Zealand.
DEAR SIR—he writes from London in September 1775—"I now sit down to fulfil the
promise I made you to give you some account of my last voyage. I left the Cape of Good Hope on 22nd November
1772 and proceeded to the south, till I met with a vast field of ice and much foggy weather and large islets
or floating mountains of ice without number. After some trouble and not a little danger, I got to the south of
the field of ice; and after beating about for some time for land, in a sea strewed with ice, I crossed the
Antarctic circle and the same evening (17th January 1773) found it unsafe, or rather impossible, to stand
farther to the south for ice.
 "Seeing no signs of meeting with land in these high latitudes, I stood away to the northward, and, without
seeing any signs of land, I thought proper to steer for New Zealand, where I anchored in Dusky Bay on 26th
March and then sailed for Queen Charlotte's Sound. Again I put to sea and stood to the south, where I met with
nothing but ice and excessive cold, bad weather. Here I spent near four months beating about in high
latitudes. Once I got as high as seventy-one degrees, and farther it was not possible to go for ice which lay
as firm as land. Here we saw ice mountains, whose summits were lost in clouds. I was now fully satisfied that
there was no Southern Continent. I nevertheless resolved to spend some time longer in these seas, and with
this resolution I stood away to the north."
In this second voyage Cook proved that there was no great land to the south of Terra Australis or South
America, except the land of ice lying about the South Pole.
But he did a greater piece of work than this. He fought, and fought successfully, the great curse of scurvy,
which had hitherto carried off scores of sailors and prevented ships on voyages of discovery, or indeed ships
of war, from staying long on the high seas without constantly landing for supplies of fresh food. It was no
uncommon occurrence for a sea captain to return after even a few months' cruise with half his men suffering
from scurvy. Captain Palliser on H.M.S. Eagle in 1756 landed in Plymouth Sound with one hundred
and thirty sick men out of four hundred, twenty-two having died in a month. Cook had resolved to fight this
dreaded scourge, and we have already seen that during his three years' cruise of the Endeavour he
had only to report five cases of scurvy, so close a watch did he keep on his crews. In his second voyage he
was even more particular, with the result that
 in the course of three years he did not lose a single man from scurvy. He enforced cold bathing, and
encouraged it by example. The allowance of salt beef and pork was cut down, and the habit of mixing salt beef
fat with the flour was strictly forbidden. Salt butter and cheese were stopped, and raisins were substituted
for salt suet; wild celery was collected in Terra del Fuego and breakfast made from this with ground wheat and
portable soup. The cleanliness of the men was insisted on. Cook never allowed any one to appear dirty before
him. He inspected the men once a week at least, and saw with his own eyes that they changed their clothing;
equal care was taken to keep the ship clean and dry between decks, and she was constantly "cured with fires"
or "smoked with gun-powder mixed with vinegar."
For a paper on this subject read before the Royal Society in 1776, James Cook was awarded a gold medal (now in
the British Museum).
But although the explorer was now forty-eight, he was as eager for active adventure as a youth of twenty. He
had settled the question of a southern continent. Now when the question of the North-West Passage came up
again, he offered his services to Lord Sandwich, first Lord of the Admiralty, and was at once accepted. It was
more than two hundred years since Frobisher had attempted to solve the mystery, which even Cook—the
first navigator of his day—with improved ships and better-fed men, did not succeed in solving. He now
received his secret instructions, and, choosing the old Resolution again, he set sail in company
with Captain Clerke on board the Discovery in the year 1776 for that voyage from which there was
to be no return. He was to touch at New Albion (discovered by Drake) and explore any rivers or inlets that
might lead to Hudson's or Baffin's Bay.
After once more visiting Tasmania and New Zealand, he
 made a prolonged stay among the Pacific Islands, turning north in December 1777. Soon after they had crossed
the line, and a few days before Christmas, a low island was seen on which Cook at once landed, hoping to get a
fresh supply of turtle. In this he was not disappointed. Some three hundred, "all of the green kind and
perhaps as good as any in the world," were obtained; the island was named Christmas Island, and the
Resolution and Discovery sailed upon their way.
CAPTAIN JAMES COOK.
A few days later they came upon a group of islands hitherto unknown. These they named after the Earl of
Sandwich, the group forming the kingdom of Hawaii—the chief island. Natives came off in canoes bringing
pigs and potatoes, and ready to exchange fish for nails. Some were tempted on board, "the wildness of their
looks expressing their astonishment." Anchorage being found, Cook landed, and as he set foot on shore a large
crowd of natives pressed forward and, throwing themselves on their faces, remained thus till Cook signed to
them to rise.
With a goodly supply of fresh provisions, Cook sailed away from the Sandwich Islands, and after some five
weeks' sail to the north the "longed-for coast of New Albion was seen." The natives of the country were clad
in fur, which they offered for sale. They exacted payment for everything, even for the wood and water that the
 took from their shores. The weather was cold and stormy, and the progress of the little English ships was
slow. By 22nd March they had passed Cape Flattery; a week later they named Hope Bay, "in which we hoped to
find a good harbour, and the event proved we were not mistaken." All this part of the coast was called by Cook
King George's Sound, but the native name of Nootka has since prevailed. We have an amusing account of these
natives. At first they were supposed to be dark coloured, "till after much cleaning they were found to have
skins like our people in England." Expert thieves they were. No piece of iron was safe from them. "Before we
left the place," says Cook, "hardly a bit of brass was left in the ship. Whole suits of clothes were stripped
of every button, copper kettles, tin canisters, candlesticks, all went to wreck, so that these people got a
greater variety of things from us than any other people we had visited."
It was not till 26th April that Cook at last managed to start forward again, but a two days' hard gale drove
him from the coast and onwards to a wide inlet to which he gave the name of Prince William's Sound. Here the
natives were just like the Eskimos in Hudson's Bay. The ships now sailed westward, doubling the promontory of
Alaska, and on 9th August they reached the westernmost point of North America, which they named Cape Prince of
Wales. They were now in the sea discovered by Behring, 1741, to which they gave his name. Hampered by fog and
ice, the ships made their way slowly on to a point named Cape North. Cook decided that the eastern point of
Asia was but thirteen leagues from the western point of America. They named the Sound on the American side
Norton Sound after the Speaker of the House of Commons. Having passed the Arctic Circle and penetrated into
the Northern Seas, which were never free from ice, they met Russian traders who professed to have known
 Then having discovered four thousand miles of new coast, and refreshed themselves with walrus or sea-horse,
the expedition turned joyfully back to the Sandwich Islands.
CAPTAIN COOK, THE DISCOVERER OF THE SANDWICH ISLANDS, WITH HIS SHIPS
IN KEALAKEKUA BAY, HAWAII, WHERE HE WAS MURDERED.
On the last day of November, Cook discovered the island of Owhyhee (Hawaii), which he carefully surveyed, till
he came to anchor in Karakakooa Bay.
The tragic death of Captain Cook at the hands of these natives is well known to every child. The reason for
his murder is not entirely understood to-day, but the natives, who had hitherto proved friendly, suddenly
attacked the English explorer and slew him, and "he fell into the water and spoke no more."
Such was the melancholy end of England's first great navigator—James Cook—the foremost sailor of
his time, the man who had circumnavigated New Zealand, who had explored the coast of New South Wales, named
various unknown islands in the Pacific Ocean, and discovered the Sandwich Islands. He died on 14th February
1779. It was not till 11th January 1780 that the news of his death reached London, to be recorded in the
quaint language of the day by the London Gazette.
"It is with the utmost concern," runs the announcement, "that we inform the Public, that the celebrated
Circumnavigator, Captain Cook, was killed by the inhabitants of a new-discover'd island in the South Seas. The
Captain and crew were first treated as deities, but, upon their revisiting that Island, hostilities ensued and
the above melancholy scene was the Consequence. This account is come from Kamtchatka by Letters from Captain
Clerke and others. But the crews of the Ships were in a very good state of health, and all in the most
desirable condition. His successful attempts to preserve the Healths of his Crews are well known, and his
Discoveries will be an everlasting Honour to his Country."
 Cook's First Voyages were published in 1773, and were widely read, but his account of the new
country did not at once attract Europeans to its shores. We hear of "barren sandy shores and wild rocky coast
inhabited by naked black people, malicious and cruel," on the one hand, "and low shores all white with sand
fringed with foaming surf," with hostile natives on the other.
It was not till eighteen years after Cook's death that Banks—his old friend—appealed to the
British Government of the day to make some use of these discoveries. At last the loss of the American colonies
in 1776 induced men to turn their eyes toward the new land in the South Pacific. Banks remembered well his
visit to Botany Bay with Captain Cook in 1770, and he now urged the dispatch of convicts, hitherto transported
to America, to this newly found bay in New South Wales.
"THE UNROLLING OF THE CLOUDS"—VI.
THE WORLD AS KNOWN AFTER THE VOYAGES OF CAPTAIN COOK (1768-1799).
So in 1787 a fleet of eleven ships with one thousand people on board left the shores of England under the
command of Captain Phillip. After a tedious voyage of thirty-six weeks, they reached Botany Bay in January
Captain Phillip had been appointed Governor of all New South Wales, that is from Cape York to Van Diemen's
Land, still supposed to be part of the mainland. But Phillip at once recognised that Botany Bay was not a
suitable place for a settlement. No white man had described these shores since the days of Captain Cook. The
green meadows of which Banks spoke were barren swamps and bleak sands, while the bay itself was exposed to the
full sweep of violent winds, with a heavy sea breaking with tremendous surf against the shore.
"Warra, warra!" (begone, begone), shouted the natives, brandishing spears at the water's edge as they had done
eighteen years before. In an open boat—for it was midsummer in these parts—Phillip surveyed the
 opening marked Port Jackson on Cook's chart attracted his notice and, sailing between two rocky headlands, the
explorer found himself crossing smooth, clear water with a beautiful harbour in front and soft green foliage
reaching down to the water's edge. Struck with the loveliness of the scene, and finding both wood and water
here, he chose the spot for his new colony, giving it the name of Sydney, after Lord Sydney, who as Home
Secretary had appointed him to his command.
PORT JACKSON AND SYDNEY COVE A FEW YEARS AFTER COOK AND PHILIP.
"We got into Port Jackson," he wrote to Lord Sydney, "early in the afternoon, and had the satisfaction of
finding the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in perfect security."
"To us," wrote one of his captains, "it was a great and important day, and I hope will mark the foundation of
But, interesting as it is, we cannot follow the fortunes of this first little English colony in the South
The English had not arrived a day too soon. A few
 days later the French explorer, La Perouse, guided hither by Cook's chart, suddenly made his appearance on the
shores of Botany Bay. The arrival of two French men-of-war caused the greatest excitement among the white
strangers and the black natives.
La Perouse had left France in 1785 in command of two ships with orders to search for the North-West Passage
from the Pacific side—a feat attempted by Captain Cook only nine years before—to explore the China
seas, the Solomon Islands, and the Terra Australis. He had reached the coast of Alaska in June 1786, but after
six weeks of bad weather he had crossed to Asia in the early part of the following year.
Thence he had made his way by the Philippine Islands to the coasts of Japan, Korea, and "Chinese Tartary."
Touching at Quelpart, he reached a bay near our modern Vladivostock, and on 2nd August 1787 he discovered the
strait that bears his name to-day, between Saghalien and the North Island of Japan. Fortunately, from
Kamtchatka, where he had landed, he had sent home his journals, notes, plans, and maps by Lesseps—uncle
of the famous Ferdinand de Lesseps of Suez Canal fame.
On 26th January 1788 he landed at Botany Bay. From here he wrote his last letter to the French Government.
After leaving this port he was never seen again. Many years later, in 1826, the wreck of his two ships was
found on the reefs of an island near the New Hebrides.
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