At the beginning of January, 1776 Captain James Cook, Greenwich Hospital, was "looking out for a Ship to accompany the Resolution on her intended Voyage". On 4th, he wrote to John Douglas, Canon of Windsor, "I expect one will be purchased tomorrow, but then I shall have to attend to the alterations which will be necessary to be made in her. These things have retarded the copying my journal; five Books are done which I shall send you by the machine tomorrow, and if you please you may return those you have gone through by the same Conveyance. I leave it intirely to you to make such alterations as you see necessary and to strike out any part, or passage which you may think superfluous. By such time as you come to Town I hope to have the whole ready to put into your hands." Douglas became Canon of Windsor in 1762 and Canon of St Paul’s in 1776. He appears frequently in James Boswell’s biography of Dr Johnson.
The next day Cook inspected three vessels, the William, Precilla and the Diligence. The latter was built by G. and N. Langborn of Whitby for William Herbert of Scarborough, from whom she was bought for £1865. She was 18 months old and 298 tons, and it was estimated that it would cost £550 for "necessary alterations". The Resolution was 462 tons and the Adventure had been 340 tons.
Four days later the Admiralty wrote to the Navy Board that the Diligence was to be registered under the name Discovery, and be given a complement of 70 men. The Resolution was to have 112 men. The Discovery was converted from a brig to a ship, i.e. given three masts instead of two, though both vessels were called sloops, as they were small vessels that carried their guns only on the upper deck. Cook was still working on his journals, and on 10th wrote to Douglas, "I have recieved your letter of the 7th and also the Box with its contents. I have not had time to look over the corrections which you have made, but have not the least doubt but they were necessary, and that I shall be perfectly satisfied with them. The remarks you have made on Bits of loose paper, I find are very just. With respect to the Amours of my People at Otaheite & other places; I think it will not be necessary to mention them attall, unless it be by way of throwing a light on the Characters, or Customs of the People we are then among; and even than I would have it done in such a manner as might be unexeptionable to the nicest readers. In short my desire is that nothing indecent may appear in the whole book, and you cannot oblige me more than by pointing out whatever may appear to you as such."
On 14th Sir Harry Trelawny wrote a letter to the Revd. Mr. Broughton of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge that it appeared to him "a strange and diabolical neglect - the non baptism & non instruction of the Indian omiah - he is brought here where the full light of the glorious Gospel shines unclouded; - and what has he learned. Why, to make refinements on sin in his own country - … Does it fall within the province of our Society to take some step in this basely neglected business?"
Six days later the General Evening Post reported that "Omiah, the native of Otaheite, has, for some days past, been endeavouring to skait on the Serpentine river in Hyde-park [London], and considering the short time he has practised, is wonderfully proficient."
On 20th Johann Forster, naturalist on the Second Voyage, despatched the botanical description and illustration of Fosteria sedifolia (the New Zealand alpine plant named by Sparrman after George) to Carl Linnaeus.
The next day, the Act of Parliament "for the Relief of Insolved Debtors; and for the Relief of Bankrupts in Certain Cases" required gaolers to prepare lists of prisoners in their custody on 21st January 1776. According to In the wake of Captain Cook: The life and times of Captain Charles Clerke, R.N. 1741-79 by Gordon Cowley and Les Deacon, published by Richard Kay Publications, 1997, the government had become aware that a number of officers were unavailable for service in "what was, essentially, a Civil War between Britain and the 2½ million people of the American colonies" because they "were in debt and, as a consequence, either in prison or self-imposed exile." Charles Clerke was presumably included in the list for the King’s Bench Prison. Schedules of each prisoner’s assets and liabilities were to be drawn up and then sworn, and three notices were to be placed in the London Chronicle to allow objections to be heard. The assets were to be made over to the Assignees named by the court, sell them within two months and made a dividend within three. Finally, the prisoners were to be freed.
On 23rd the Navy Board acquainted the Admiralty with the plans and dimensions for necessary alterations and rig to the Diligence, "In all which Captain Cook who attended us thereon has been consulted". Cook’s Decision to Go Again to Sea
Two days later Forster called on Daines Barrington to report progress on his voyage narrative and to remind him that he was still expecting engravings for his book. Barrington reported the events to Lord Sandwich (head of the Admiralty), and there is a reference to "Captain Cook’s destination". John Beaglehole in his book The Life of Captain James Cook, 1974, believes that Cook made no sudden decision to go, "for he was not a man of sudden decisions, though he could respond to emergency quickly enough. It is unlikely that he responded easily to indirect pressure. The pressure to which he did respond is likely to have been that of a whole set of circumstances, which his first biographer [Andrew Kippis] dramatised into one famous dinner party." This party was said to comprise Sandwich, Hugh Palliser (Cook’s captain in 1755, governor of Newfoundland when Cook surveyed it, and now head of the Navy Board), Philip Stephens (secretary to the Admiralty) and Cook. All intended to consult Cook constantly on the preparations, "but however ardently it might be wished that he would take upon himself the command of the service, no one… presumed to solicit him upon the subject." However, Cook was "so fired with the contemplation and representation of the object, that he started up, and declared that he himself would undertake the direction of the enterprise."
On 27th the General Evening Post reported that "Captain Cook in the new voyage which he is going to make (Captain Clarke the commander of the second ship) is to take Omiah to Otaheite, and from thence to proceed upon the discovery of the North-West Passage to the northward of California. Parliament has just offered 25,000 l. reward, 20,000 l. to those who approach within one degree of the Pole; but there are to be no Botanists, Designers &c. to accompany them."
The next day Horace Walpole wrote to Sir Horace Mann complaining of the bitter weather gripping the country and added that Omai "had no notion of ice, and calls it stone-water; a very good expression."
Two days later Gilbert White wrote to his brother, Rev John White, that Forster "and his son dress like noblemen, and give £60 per ann. for an house! They have published ‘New Genera of Antarctic Plants’… Their great work or ‘Voyage’ is now under correction at Oxford." He was referring to Characteres generum plantarum.
On 5th February Foster wrote to the philologist, Johann Michaelis, "I still have hopes of bettering my circumstances, so how could I disown a country that has been so charitable to me, accepted me with such friendship, and where I have been received by the monarch?"
On 10th Cook wrote to Stephens, "Having understood that their Lordships have ordered two Ships to be fitted out for the purpose of making further discoveries in the Pacific Ocean; I take the liberty, as their Lordships when they were pleased to appoint me a Captain in Greenwich Hospital were at the same time pleased also to say, it should not be in prejudice to any future offer which I might make of my Service, to submit my self to their directions, if they think fit to appoint me to the Command on the said intended Voyage; relying, it they condesend to except this offer, they will on my return, either restore me to my appointment in the Hospital, or procure for me such other mark of the Royal Favour as their Lordships upon the review of my past Services shall think me deserving of."
He opened his new journal with "I received a Commission to Command His Majestys Sloop the Resolution, went on board hoisted the Pendant and began to enter men". Some 28 others were entered into the Muster book that day. "At the same time the Discovery, a Ship of 300 Tons burden just purchased into the Service, was Commissioned and the command given to Captain Clerke who was my second Lieutt in the Resolution last Voyage. These two Ships were at this time both in the Dock at Deptford under the hands of the Shipwrights."
Clerke wrote in his journal "This day I was commissioned by their Lordships to the Command of is Majesty’s Sloop Discovery which Sloop I found in the Dry Dock at Deptford; many carpenters aboard her. At 11 hoisted the Pendant. The shipwrights and various artificers of the yard so wholly engrossed the vessel that we could not act in the least towards her equipment for sea".
The same day Cook wrote from Mile End a letter to Latouche-Tréville. a French naval officer (translated into French), about Pacific Exploration.
On 12th Granville Sharp called at the Admiralty and received the permission of Sandwich, to proceed with his proposed scheme of giving Omai proper instruction in the first principles of Christian religion. The next day Sharp visited Joseph Banks and Omai "by appointment", and two days later began teaching Omai at his brother’s house in the Old Jewry. It continued regularly for about a month, with sessions of two or three hours each.
The next day Cook wrote to John Walker, his previous employer in Whitby, "I should have Answered your last favour sooner, but waited to know whether I should go to Greenwich Hospital, or the South Sea. The latter is now fixed upon; I expect to be ready to sail about the latter end of Apl with my old ship the Resolution and the Discovery, the ship lately purchased of Mr Herbert. I know not what your opinion may be on this step I have taken. It is certain I have quited an easy retirement, for an Active and perhaps Dangerous Voyage. My present disposition is more favourable to the latter than the former, and I imbark on as fair a prospect as I can wish. If I am fortunate enough to get safe home, theres no doubt but it will be greatly to my advantage. My best respects to all your family; and if any of them comes this way, I shall be glad to see them at Mile End, where they will meet with a hearty welcome".
The same day the Admiralty ordered him to "use the utmost dispatch in getting her ready for the Sea accordingly, and then falling down to Galleons Reach take in her Guns and Gunner’s Stores and proceed to the Nore for further Order." The next day Clerke wrote to Stephens asking for Aneas Atkins, boatswain on the Favourite, and Peter Reynolds, carpenter on the Ariadne, to be appointed to the Discovery. Both had been with him on the last voyage and "have appli’d to me and are very desirous of the other trip to the South Seas".
On 21st Nevil Maskelyne, astronomer royal, wrote to Sandwich "I am happy to find… you approve of the Board of Longitude sending out an Astronomer with Captain Cooke."
Three days later Cook wrote to John Harrison, attorney, at Guisborough about the alleged smuggling activities of his brother-in-law, James Fleck (a fisherman of Redcar), who married James’ sister Margaret in 1764. "I have had some conversation with Mr Parks, on the subject of the letter Which you favoured me with. He seems to think, that my Brother in Law, James Flick, cannot know neither the time nor place he Run the good[s] for which he stands charged; as the officers of the Customs are very carefull to conceal these particulars. If so, he cannot know himself to be innocent, unless he never was concerned in such work; and this I suppose is not the Case. Consequently he will in my opinion run no little risk in standing a Trial. But this is a subject I have little knowledge of, Nor have I time nor inclination to make my self acquainted with it. I am told that the easiest way to get clear of such like affairs, is, after the Writ is served, to Petition the Commissioners of the Customs or Excise, to which it may belong; and to endeavour to make up the matter with the officers concerned. If this method is persued, I shall be ready to give any assistance in my power, which cannot be much, as I know not a single Commissioners at either the one Board or the other. This Method of proceeding, supposes him Guilty the contrary of which he has not only asserted to you but to me also in a letter which I have just recieved. The only thing he seems top dread is the expence of a Trial, but in this I wish he does not deceive himself, as well as you. If I should gain any further information you shall be acquainted therewith".
On 26th Cook wrote to Robert Sayer, chart publisher in Fleet St. concerning "The North American Pilot", which was to contain some of his Newfoundland charts. "I am greatly obliged to you for the Perusal of the North American Pilot, for Newfoundland, Labradore &c. I am much pleased to see a Work, in which I have had some Hand, so likely to prove useful to Navigation. From the Knowledge I have of these Parts (which is not a little,) I not hesitate to declare, that as much Faith may be put in the Charts, together with the Sailing Directions, as ought to be put in any Work of the Kind." The letter was printed by Sayer in the volume.
On 28th the Admiralty ordered the following ships to be put to sea victualling: Winchelsea, Lark, Demand, Resolution, Discovery. The next day Cook wrote to Stephens "It is well known that the Crews of His Majesty’s Sloops the Resolution and Adventure, during their late Voyage; received great benefit from the Sour Krout andMalt they were supply’d with; and also by being supplyed with Wheat in lieu of Oatmeal, and Sugar in lieu of Oil. Please to move my Lords Comissrs of the Admiralty to Order the Victualling Board, to Supply the Resolution and Discovery, with these Articles… also with such a quantity of Salt, as may be thought necessary to preserve, such FreshMeat or Fish they may chance to meet with".
The next day the nomination to elect Cook a Fellow of the Royal Society was balloted and the election signified.
Forster’s first full-length scientific work, Characteres generum plantarum..., was published in a folio first edition of six copies between 29 November and 2 December, 1775. The most widely known and used edition of the work, however, is the quarto one published on 1st March.
The next day the Board of Longitude minuted that "Mr William Bayly who was employed on like service on board the Adventure during her late voyage to the South Seas and who is ready as they understand, to be employed again, be appointed to go out in the Discovery in order to make the said observations; That Capt. Cook assisted by Mr King his lieutenant who as they are informed is well qualified for that purpose, be desired to make similar observations whenever other more necessary service will admit on board the Resolution."
On 5th Cook wrote to the Navy Board "I understand that the Resolution and Discovery are to be supplyed with the same sort of Sain Nets, as are furnished by the Contractor, which on account of thier smalness, and the badness of the Materials on which they are made, cannot be depended upon as I but too well experienced in the Course of the Endeavours Voyage. On my representing this to yourt Board, before I sailed on my late voyage, they were pleased to order the Sloops employed therein, to be supply’d with Nets of a superior quality; as I hope you will also do now; sence no one can tell how much we may standin need of them."
The next day Richard Gough, the prominent antiquarian, "spent a very agreeable day with Reinhold Forster and Son who are busy preparing their voyage". The next day Cook, having paid his admission fee of five guineas and signed his bond for future payments, was admitted to the Royal Society.
On 8th Cook wrote to Douglas, "I beg your exceptance of 3 Dozn Pints of Constantia Wine, White & Red, and ½ a Dozn of a different sort, which is pale coloured. I will not answer for them being packed in such a manner as to go safe to Windsor, tho’ I think they will. You will herewith receive five Books more of my Manuscript, having kept the remaining three, as they want some alteration." The next day he wrote again, "As I intend to look over my whole Manuscript I shall have an opportunity to make such alterations, as may appear necessary to bring it, either to the present, or past times. If you will be so obligeing as to give me your opinion on this matter. It was first written in the present time, but on find[ing] Dr Hawkesworth had mostly used the past, I set about altering it, but I find many places has escaped me."
Cook’s second entry in his new journal appears on 10th, a month after his first. "The Resolution was hauled out of Dock into the River where we completed her Rigging and took on board the necessary Stores and Provisions for the Voyage which was as much as we could stow and the best of every king that could be got." The next entry does not appear until 6th May.
Clerke was also busy, writing "we haul [the Discovery] out of the dry [dock] into the wet".
On 14th Cook wrote to Stephens "Their Lordships have given me an order to provide all the Articles, intended to be put on board the Resolution and Discovery, as presents &ca to the different Nations we may meet with. But as those under mentioned, were, before, provided by Mr Boutlon, I shall not purchas them, till I receive further instructions from you - I apprehend there is not time enough to get these articles from Birmingham - I most sincerely wish you a better state of health".
Two days later he wrote again "Please to move their Lordships, to order, His Majesty’s Sloops the Resolution and Discovery, to be supplyed with some Red Wine, in lieu of the same proportion of Spirits, It being necessary to have some onboard, in case of any Disorder breaking out amongst the Crew in which it is usefull."
On 17th Cook was elected Fellow of the Royal Society. Three days later the Navy Board write to Cook saying that the supply of stationery requested by him had been ordered.
On 25th March David Samwell, wrote to his friend Matt Gregson, "I am a lucky Dog… a very fair Prospect lies before me, almost a Certainty of being made Surgeon when I come home - a voyage agreeable to my wishes - a better Appointment than I cou’d have expected - for thro’ Mr Crosier’s Recommendation to Captain Cook I am made first mate… The Resolution is a very fine Ship but the Discovery is but a small one." Samwell had been promoted to Surgeon’s first mate on the Resolution from second mate three days earlier.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1814, volume 24, number 1 (2001).
your email address will not be published