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place, even as an afterthought, or a postscript, in Cook's instructions ; and yet, as a matter of fact, Australia was the chief and enduring result of that voyage.
The voyage lasted three years, and brought Cook immediate fame. He dropped anchor on his return, on June 12, 1771 ; on November 28 of the same year he received his commission as commander of a new expedition, consisting, this time, of two ships, the Resolution and the Adventure. Cook's task on his second voyage was the pursuit and capture of a continent. For centuries the idea of a great southern continent had haunted the imagination of geographers. It was supposed to stretch up from the Antarctic ice almost to the Equator, to contain treasures greater than Cortes found in Mexico, to exceed in area Europe, Asia Minor, and all the islands of the Mediterranean.
Cook was to test that dream by driving the stems of his ships through the whole stretch of the unknown southern waters. The voyage, on which it is needless to dwell here, lasted, like the first voyage, for three years. Cook fought his way, through fog and snow and storm, completely round the splintered edge of the Antarctic ice, circumnavigating the globe in those wild latitudes. The expedition cost 25,0001., and, as an incident in his cruise, Cook discovered New Caledonia ; but its chief result was, not to put a new continent on the map, but to banish the obstinate ghost of an imaginary continent from it.
Had we found out a continent,' says Cook, with characteristic modesty, 'we might have been better enabled to gratify curiosity; but we hope our not having found it . . . will leave less room for future speculations about unknown worlds remaining to be explored.' Forster, the naturalist of the Resolution, says that in the course of the voyage “it is computed we ran over a greater space of sea than any ship ever did before us ; since, taking all our tracks together, they form more than thrice the circumference of the globe.'
On his return Cook, amongst other rewards, was made fourth captain of Greenwich Hospital. “My fate,' he wrote to a friend, drives me from one extreme to another. A few months ago the whole Southern Hemisphere was hardly big enough for me, and now I am going to be confined within the limits of Greenwich Hospital.' A seaman so famous, however, was not likely to be left long in Greenwich Hospital. The Resolution dropped anchor at Plymouth on July 29, 1775 ; not quite twelve months later, on July 12, 1776, Cook sailed in the Resolution, with the Discovery under the command of Captain Clerke, as his consort, on the voyage which ended in his death. The object of the third voyage was almost as unreal as that of the second. It was the discovery of that North-West Passage by sea from the Pacific to the Atlantic in the achievement of which so much treasure has been expended and so many lives wasted. Cook brought to the task all the hardihood, the sea-craft, the scientific intelligence which marked his whole career. He rounded the Cape, struck boldly northwards across the whole space
of the Pacific, and fought his way through Behring Straits to the icy latitudes beyond. The most northerly point he reached was 69 deg. 36 min., right in the polar ice. But no NorthWest Passage was discovered ; and after ten months' battling with Polar seas and storms he fell back southwards to the warmer latitudes, the sun-bathed islands of the Equator, where his death awaited him.
There is no space here to tell in detail the story of his death. The ships had anchored in Karakakoa Bay, in Hawaii, on January 17, 1779, and remained there for a fortnight, Cook himself being regarded by the natives as a sort of god. On putting to sea again bad weather was struck. The Resolution sprung her foremast, and the ships put back into the bay. Some strange change of mood had passed over the natives. They were surly and inhospitable ; many thefts were committed, quarrels broke out, and Cook himself at last landed with a small party of marines, ordering his boats to lie off a little distance and wait for him, while he, with his marines, marched up to the king's house, about two hundred yards from the water's edge. His purpose was to persuade the king to visit the Resolution.
There was a crowd of nearly three thousand natives, and the chiefs angrily refused to allow their king to go on board the ship. While the debate proceeded the sound of shots was heard, and a native came running up to say that an English boat's crew had landed on the other side of the bay and a chief had been shot. The news kindled the natives to passion. Some of the chiefs pressed, with menaces, upon Cook. His Northumbrian blood took fire, and he struck the most offensive of them with the butt of his musket. The little party began to fall back to the boats ; Cook's gun was loaded in one barrel with small shot; he discharged it ineffectively at the crowd ; then he fired the other barrel, which was loaded with ball, and killed a man standing beside one of the
chiefs. This checked the natives, though they still pressed on the little party till it reached the beach.
The men in the boats by this time were firing on the crowd, and Cook turned round, waving to the boats to stop firing. That was a fatal movement. While he faced the crowd of natives the tall, commanding figure, the cool, stern eyes, held them in check ; but when he turned, the magic of his glance was lost. A chief ran in and stabbed him betwixt the shoulders with an iron dagger, another struck him on the head with a club. He fell into the water, and in a moment a huddle of natives had leaped upon him and were holding him under the water to drown him. A corporal of marines and three privates were killed; the rest of the party swam out to the boats and were saved.
Gilbert, the master's mate, was the one man on board the Resolution with a touch of literary skill, and his log gives the best account of the whole tragedy. When the boats returned to the ships without their captain, then, says Gilbert, a general silence ensued throughout the ship for the space of half an hour, it appearing to us somewhat like a dream. Grief was visible on every countenance, some expressing it by tears, others by a kind of gloomy dejection. All our hopes centred in him; our loss was irreparable.' The sailors begged that they might be allowed to arm themselves and go ashore to avenge the death of their captain. Clerke, who had assumed command, was opposed to the plan, but saw that a direct refusal would be the signal for mutiny. He begged the men to put off their expedition till the foremast of the Resolution had been got into its place. Negotiations with the natives were with difficulty resumed, and Cook's head and hands were recovered. The head was too much disfigured to be known,' says Gilbert, “but one of the hands we were well assured was his from a wound he had formerly received in it which made it remarkable.' While taking soundings off Newfoundland, in 1764, a large powder-flask Cook held in his hands was by some means exploded, shattering his fingers. When healed, the wound left a scar which divided the thumb from the finger the whole length of the metacarpal bones ; and that scar, fifteen years afterwards, enabled his dissevered hand to be recognised.
Cook's death scene was marked by one discreditable incident. One of the boats that lay off the shore was commanded by an officer who lacked courage to pull in to his captain's assistance. The fury of the seamen and officers against him was great, and he would have been court-martialled but for Captain Clerke’s death. Nineteen years later this officer was in command of a ship in the battle of Camperdown, and misconducted himself so grossly that he was court-martialled on a charge of cowardice and disobedience to orders. He was cashiered; but Nelson's stern verdict on the man was that he' ought to have been shot.' The incident shows that even in the band of heroes that gathered round Cook there was at least one unheroic spirit.
Besant, who loves to write in large terms, describes Cook as the greatest navigator of any age.' 'No other sailor,' he adds, ever so greatly enlarged the borders of the earth.' Is there any justification for praise so splendid ?
It may be said, for one thing, that Cook practically gave the Pacific as a field for trade and settlement to the human race. It is the indictment of Spanish seamanship that for more than two centuries the Spaniards held large settlements on the eastern and western shores of that great sea, and they left it unknown. Their galleons crept across from Panama to Manila, along one uniform course, some 13 deg. north of the Equator; and scarcely once, except when driven by stress of weather, did a ship carrying the Spanish flag diverge from that narrow track. Southward lay the calling Pacific, but it called to them in vain. In its vastness a score of archipelagoes were hidden. Australia itself, a Titanic jewel, lay in its purple waters, waiting for someone to claim it. If British seamen had held the trade betwixt Panama in the east, and the Philippines on the west, the challenge of the great unknown sea to the south would have turned every British stem in that direction. But the hardy seamen who broke first into the Pacific -Magellan, through the straits far to the south which bear his name, and those who followed him-were strangely unfortunate. As soon as they had struggled, or crept, through that narrow and tangled waterway--and they sometimes took months to achieve the feat—they turned their stems northward along the American coast, and left the great prizes of the unexplored ocean to the west -Australia and New Zealand, and the groups about themuntouched.
But with the Spaniards, their neglect of the Pacific was deliberate. They lived in luxury under tropical skies, amidst subject races, wringing wealth by cruelty from the unfortunate natives, and trying to bar the rest of the world out from any share in the magnificent heritage. Any ship flying a foreign flag that ventured into the Pacific was treated as a pirate. But the Spaniard paid the price for those eight generations of lazy and selfish indulgence. He lost his seamanship, his daring, his hardihood. Spain, indeed, still pays the penalty of that far-off misuse of a great opportunity. It is to-day a nation without a colony and without a fleet.
Cook, of course, was not the first Englishman who crossed the Pacific; but the earlier adventurers under the British flagfrom Drake to Anson-were buccaneers rather than explorers. They sought fat prizes rather than new lands. Cook's immediate predecessors, Byron (1764–1766) and Wallis—who actually spent four months fighting his way through the straits-and, the bravest name amongst them all, Carteret-missed making great discoveries in the Pacific in the strangest way; chiefly because, after getting through Magellan Straits, they took a direct northward course.
But we have only to look at Cook's track to see the daring of his navigation. He followed his orders till he reached Tahiti ; then, when the astronomers had done their work, he ran boldly down on a southward course to New Zealand, reaching it on October 7, 1769. Here he spent no less than six months, charting the coast. line with a scientific patience and thoroughness characteristic of his genius ; and when he had finished his task New Zealand had ceased to be a terra incognita, the horn of some imaginary continent. It was brought definitely within the realm of human knowledge.
Cook's orders ceased here; all that remained was to return to England by such route as he should think proper.' But to the westward lay the New Holland of Dutch and Portuguese geographers, its eastern coast absolutely unknown. A geographical mystery of this scale was to Cook an irresistible challenge; so he turned the stem of the Endeavour westward, and on April 19, 1770, he struck the Australian coast a little to the south of Cape Howe. From thence he crept northward along the whole vast stretch of more than two thousand miles, sounding almost every fathom of the waters through which he passed, charting every curve and headland of the shore line ; shipwrecked once, and in danger of shipwreck often, but never once turning back or losing heart, till he crept through Torres Straits and bore up westward for Batavia.
The passage of the Endeavour up the Australian coast was like a ray of light creeping through age-long darkness. It left the long