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A SEA VOYAGE, AND AN ADVENTURE BY THE WAY.
[The narrative of Cook's voyages was drawn up by Hawkesworth, author of The Adventurer. The Mr. Banks mentioned in it was afterwards the well known Sir Joseph, President of the Royal Society; and Dr. Solander became a distinguished botanist.]
AVING received my commission, which was dated the
25th of May, 1768, I went on board on the 27th, hoisted the pennant, and took charge of the ship, which then lay in the basin in Deptford yard. She was fitted for sea with all expedition; and stores and provisions being taken on board, sailed down the river on the 30th of July, and on the 13th of August anchored in Plymouth Sound,
On Friday the 26th of August, the wind becoming fair, we got under sail, and put to sea. On the 31st we saw several of the birds which the sailors call Mother Carey's chickens, and which they suppose to be the forerunnets of a storm; and on the next day we had a very hard gale, which brought us under our courses, washed overboard a small boat belonging to the boatswain, and drowned three or four dozen of our poultry, which we regretted still more.
On Friday the 2d of September we saw land between Cape Finisterre and Cape Ortegal, on the coast of Gallicia, in Spain; and on the 5th, by an observation of the sun and moon, we found the latitude of Cape Finisterre to be 42° 53' north, and its longitude 8° 46' west, our first meridian being always supposed to pass through Greenwich; variation of the needle 21° 4' west.
During this course, Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander had an opportunity of observing many marine animals, of which no naturalist has hitherto taken notice; particularly a new species of the oniscus, which was found adhering to the medusa pelagica ; and an animal of an angular figure, about three inches long, and one thick, with a hollow passing quite through it, and a brown spot on one end, which they conjectured might be its stomach ; four of these adhered together by their sidés when they were taken, so that at first they were thought to be one animal; but upon being put into a glass of water they soon separated, and swam about very briskly. These animals are of a new genus, to which Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander gave the name of Dagysa, from the likeness of one species of them to a gem. Several specimens of them were taken adhering together sometimes to the length of a yard or more, and shining in the water with very beautiful colours. Another animal of a new genus they also discovered, which shone in the water with colours still more beautiful and vivid, and which indeed exceeded in variety and brightness anything that we had ever seen. The colouring and splendour of these animals were equal to those of an opal, and from their resemblance to that gem, the genus was called Carcinium Opalinum. One of them lived several hours in a glass of salt water, swimming about with great agility, and at every motion displaying a change of colours almost infinitely various. We caught also among the rigging of the ship, when we were at the distance of about ten leagues from Cape Finisterre, several birds which have not been described by Linnæus; they were supposed to have come from Spain, and our gentlemen called the species Motacilla velificans (sail-making), as they said none but sailors would venture themselves on board a ship that was going round the world. One of them was so exhausted that it died in Mr. Banks's hand almost as soon as it was brought to him.
It was thought extraordinary that no naturalist had hitherto taken notice of the Dagysa, as the sea abounds with them not twenty leagues from the coast of Spain; but, unfortunately for the cause of science, there are but very few of those who traverse the sea, that are either desposed or qualified to remark the curiosities of which nature has made it the repository.
On the 12th we discovered the islands of Porto Santo and Madeira, and on the next day anchored in Funchiale road, and moored with the stream-anchor : but in the night the bend of the hawser of the stream-anchor slipped, owing to the negligence of the person who had been employed to make it fast. In the morning the anchor was heaved up into the boat, and carried out to the southward; but in heaving it again, Mr. Weir, the master's mate, was carried overboard by the buoy-rope, and went to the bottom with the anchor; the people in the ship saw the accident, and got the anchor up with all possible expedition, it was, however, too late, the body came up entangled in the buoy-rope, but it was dead.
When the island of Madeira is first approached from the sea, it has a very beautiful appearance; the sides of the hills being entirely covered with vines almost as high as the eye can distinguish; and the vines are green when every kind of herbage, except where they shade the ground, and here and there, by the sides of a rill, is entirely burnt up, which was the case at this time.
The refreshments to be had here, are water, wine, fruit of several sorts, onions in plenty, and some sweetmeats; fresh meat and poultry are not to be had without leave from the governor, and the payment of a very high price.
We took in 270 lbs. of fresh beef, and a live bullock, charged at 613 lbs., 3,032 gallons of water, and ten tons of wine; and in the night, between Sunday the 18th and Monday the 19th September, we set sail in prosecution of our voyage.
On Friday, the 23rd of September, we saw the Peak of Teneriffe bearing W. by S. I S. Its appearance at sunset was very striking; when the sun was below the horizon, and the rest of the island appeared of a deep black, the mountain still reflected his rays, and glowed with a warmth of colour which no painting can express.
On the next day, Saturday the 24th, we came into the north-east trade-wind, and on Friday, the 30th, saw Bona Vista, one of the Cape de Verd Islands : we ranged the east side if it, at the distance of three or four miles from the shore, till we were obliged to haul off to avoid a ledge of rocks which stretch out S. W. by W. from the body, or S. E. point of the island, to the extent of a league and a half.
During our course from Teneriffe to Bona Vista, we saw great numbers of flying fish, which from the cabin-windows appear beautiful beyond imagination, their sides having the colour and brightness of burnished silver ; when they are seen from the deck, they do not appear to so much advantage, because their backs are of a dark colour. We also took a shark, which proved to be the Squalus Carcharias of Linnæus.
Having lost the trade-wind on the 3rd, in latitude 12° 14', and longitude 22° 10', the wind became somewhat variable, and we had light airs and calms by turns.
On the 7th, Mr. Banks went out in the boat, and took what the seamen call a Portuguese man-of-war; it is the Holuthuria Physalis of Linnæus, and a species of the Mollusca. It consisted of a small bladder about seven inches long, and very much resembling the air-bladder of fishes, from the bottom of which descended a number of strings of a bright blue and red, some of them three or four feet in length, which, upon being touched, sting like a nettle, but with much more force. On the top of the bladder is a membrane which is used as a sail, and turned so as to receive the wind which way soever it blows. This membrane is marked in fine pink-coloured veins, and the animal is in every respect an object exquisitely curious and beautiful.
We also took several of the shell-fishes, or testaceous animals, which are always found floating upon the water, particularly the Helix Ianthina and Violacea ; they are about the size of a snail, and are supported upon the surface of the water by a small cluster of bubbles, which are filled with air, and consist of a tenacious slimy substance that will not easily part with its contents; the animal is oviparous, and these bubbles serve also as a nidus for its eggs. It is probable that it never goes down to the bottom, nor willingly approaches any shore ; for the shell is exceedingly brittle, and that of few fresh-water snails is so thin, Every shell contains about a tea-spoonful of liquor, which it easily discharges upon being touched, and which is of the most beautiful red-purple that can be conceived. It dyes linen cloth, and it may perhaps be worth inquiry (as the shell is certainly found in the Mediterranean), whether it be not the Purpura of the ancients.*
* It is quite impossible to discuss this subject here. But it may be worth while to refer the learned reader for some curious information aboat it, to the illustrious Bochart's work entitled Hierozoicon, part ii. book v., ch. ii. There are several sorts of sea-shells, that yield the purple-dye so much esteemed among the ancients. Pliny, who has written on the subject, divides them into two classes, the buccinum and purpura, of which the latter was most in request. According to him, the best kinds were found in the vicinity of Tyre. That city was famous for the manufacture of purple. To be Tyrio conspectus in ostro, seemed, in the estimation of the Mantuan poet, essential to his duo appearance in honour of