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The Chinese merchants, meanwhile, were eagerly selling the necessary supplies for the long passage to Cape Town, including libations for the sailors. Notwithstanding the ban on purchase of local liquor, the boats alongside were willing, and the sailors contrived to get themselves drunk on arrack and a brew called "sumchu." With the journal keepers effectively muzzled, an unwonted silence settled over the third voyage when Resolution and Discovery sailed out of Macao harbor on January 28, 1780. The mariners had only to drink their tea and sumchu and catch up on the news in the old London magazines and newspapers which King had brought down from Canton. Burney and Edgar had already quit writing at Avacha Bay; King and Samwell stopped on arriving at Macao. Gilbert wrote scarcely three pages for the entire nine-month run to England, recording not much more than where the ships called.51

The muzzling did no good. At voyage end four of the sailors in want of money and fame quickly brought out unauthorized versions of the of the voyage long before the official account was published.52 Their books in fact served advance notice on both sides of the Atlantic that riches in furs were available for the taking. Other works were not forbidden: Bayly's valuable Astronomical Observations, in 1783; Samwell's version of the death of Cook, in 1786; and Burney's six volumes, from 1803 to 1819, on the history of exploration.53 The big production, of course, was the official account of the third voyage, in 1784--the handsome three-volume set with separate volumes of charts and sixty-one engravings, which was four years in the making. The first two volumes, based on Cook's journal, were superbly edited by Canon John Douglas, who had done Cook's second voyage (which Cook did not see; in 1777). Douglas drew upon Anderson, who is quoted verbatim in long sections. King did the third volume covering the last eight months after Cook's death, and he fell back on Samwell in places.

On January 20 Gore anchored at Pulau Condore, a small island off Singapore, for a week-long visit which King padded into fourteen pages, and on February 12-19 the ships watered at the volcanic island of Krakatoa, in the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java, where Webber, then aged twenty-eight, did the last of his fine paintings.

Far more paintings and drawings were executed on this voyage than on either of the previous two. Webber produced at least three hundred twenty-six drawings, portraits, and scenes, from preliminary sketches to the finished products. Ellis painted twenty-eight scenes and ninety-six birds. And the talented carpenter John Cleveley did the creditable harbor scene at Moorea and a popular death of Cook. Working with watercolors and oils, Webber essayed soft tints that gave his results a suffused quality, with rather less attention to the bright hues and skies that so engrossed Hodges. The Webber portraits were especially valuable contributions to anthropology. All these views, together with the coastal drawings and cartographic work which were the separate assignments of William Bligh and Henry Roberts for the navy, made the third voyage the most extensively documented in illustrative material of any expedition until the advent of photography. For almost a half-century, the Webber paintings especially, supplemented by those from the first two voyages, appeared as engravings in books and journals on travel and geography, in texts, in missionary tracts, and in costume books and even wall paper. These graphic materials formed the chief source of the visual images acquired by Europeans and Americans about the Pacific region.54

On April 13, Resolution having damaged her rudder, the ships put in at False Bay, not far from Cape Town. There the feud between Williamson and Phillips broke out anew. The latter was still simmering because the former had failed to order covering fire at the death of Cook. In a sudden quarrel, Williamson lunged at Phillips with his sword, but they were quickly separated. Gore was having difficulty keeping the peace. While in port the mariners were shown a copy of the French safe-passage which was found aboard a captured French ship. After departure on May 9 all was silent. July 13, 1780, when the ships were somewhere in the Atlantic, marked the fourth year of the voyage.

The report of Cook's death had reached London shortly before the ships left Macao. On January 10 of 1780 Lord Sandwich wrote to Banks: "Dear Sir, what is uppermost in our mind allways must come out first, poor captain Cooke is no more..." The mail, after a seven-month overland journey from Avacha Bay, had arrived from St. Petersburg, and the next day the London Gazette made the news public.55 The death of Cook transformed him from a celebrity into an authentic hero.

The sense of failure and loss on those silent ships coming up the Atlantic held no hint of the encomia that would magnify the Cook phenomenon in the years to come.56 But we can see the outlines of that reputation in those who sailed with him, and on occasion a landlocked admirer would burst forth with a remark to a sailor that takes the shape of a sudden panegyric. Bligh's epic passage by open boat in 1789, following the famous mutiny on Bounty, elicited such a response that was made to James Burney: "But what officers you are! you men of Captain Cook! you rise upon us in every trial!" And we find young John Elliott, of the second voyage, reporting the results of his oral examination for a position with the East India Company: "They suppos'd I had been with Cook, that having been a pupil of his, I must be a good Sailor; asking me how my Uncle did, and telling me to withdraw."57

Dramatic exploits in navigation, of course, easily captured the imagination. But young midshipman Alexander Home reminds us why it was, after all, that ordinary nutrition of the Cook variety made success possible. Somewhere on the way home, possibly at Avacha Bay or on the high seas, Home struggled to deliver himself of a long essay on Cook's dietary principles. His fractured English managed to be an eloquent panegyric of his own:58

...It was his practice to Cause great Quantitys of Green Stuff to be Boiled Amongst the pease Soup and wheat and care'd Not Much wether they were Bitter or Sweet... It was no Uncommon thing when Swallowing Over these Mess[es] to Curse him heartyly and wish for gods sake that he Might be Obledged to Eat such Damned Stuff Mixed with his Broth as Long as he Lived. Yet for all that there were None so Ignorant as Not to know how Right a thing it was.... He would Frequently Order them on shore in partys to walk about the Country and smell the Fresh Earth and herbage and from His Example and Disposition they were in a Manner Let to know that it was Expected...he Commonly Succeded and in time the Men adopted the same Humour and Disposition as by Infectsin and perhaps in Many it Might be with a Veiw of making their Court to him, for they knew it was A great Recommendation to be seen Coming on board from A pleasure Jaunt with a Handkerchif full of greens.

The Cook legend takes shape in those shipboard writers, to whom we are in debt. "Ah, those were the glorious days; but we are all going now," wrote Home in later years. The journal of the high-spirited David Samwell, that versatile parsons's son from Wales, leaves us no doubt about his abilities and his indelible mark on the third voyage. Linguist, perceptive writer, raconteur, and rake of sorts, Samwell thought the voyage would be simply his grand adventure. Outwardly the happy extrovert, he took to the landings with all the wit and zest of youth, seeking out fun and flesh with a kind of earnest agitation that betrayed his solitary nature. Yet he learned to keep a steady eye, and in his copious writing we learn to see details and insights that others missed--the craftiness of a Tongan chief, a nuance of language at Nootka Sound, a description of family life in Unalaska, the crux of a geographic problem in the Arctic. He admired Cook from afar, for apparently he never was admitted to the inner circle of confidants, never called upon for a special mission. The third voyage is scarcely conceivable without the Samwell journal.

David bragged to a friend about "so many Discoveries that all ye old Charts or Maps of ye world are now of no use," and his friend was not to buy any maps until the Voyage was published. His greatest pride was in having been surgeon aboard Discovery, where "we did not loose one Man by Sickness--a Circumstance unparallel'd in ye History of Navigation," and so it was. Though his crowded years left little time for reflection, he did write a balanced account of the death of Cook, whom he venerated, but whom he might not have known as a friend.

"His great Qualities I admired beyond anything I can express--I gloried in him--and my Heart bleeds to this Day whenever I think of his Fate."

Struggling to find a new direction for his life, he would meet occasionally with his shipmates to talk about old times and to look back in wonder.

"It is an article of Faith with every one of us that there never was such a collection of fine Lads take us for all in all, got together as there was in the Resolution & Discovery."59

After studying anatomy under the great London physician John Hunter, he tried his hand at poetry and various Welsh causes while continuing his career as a navy surgeon. In 1798 we find him in Paris as a surgeon to British prisoners of war; returning to London the same year, at age forty-seven, he died, it is said, of drink and laudanum.60

Time ran out for James King as well. The most literate of all the writers, after William Anderson, he might have matched George Forster in achieving a reflective statement on the essential meaning of the Cook voyages. More than anyone, he enjoyed Cook's confidence and shared his table; he was privy to his moods and plans. Intellectual and serious in his pursuits, King occupied the third voyage with aristocratic ease and self-assurance. With something of the aesthete in him, on occasion while dealing with a pre-literate native he would be caught up short by a question about life's meaning. His practiced skill in diplomacy among the islanders--who often mistook him for Cook's son and esteemed him as such--made him the obvious emissary when the ships called at Avacha Bay and Macao. Although genteel in bearing, rarely brusque, he got on well with the tars in the fo'cs'le; his journal shows a young man making much of his gifts and opportunities.

After returning from a navy assignment in the West Indies, James was chosen by Banks in 1783 as the obvious editor of Volume III, a task he fulfilled with somber dedication. Alas, his health was fast declining from tuberculosis, which he probably contracted in the Pacific. Immediately after finishing his editing assignment, James sought recovery in Nice, where he died before the year was out at age thirty-three. At his bedside were his ship-board friends, John Law and James Trevenen, who showed "great affection and friendship."61

The Pacific islands and coasts could never be regarded as having been discovered by Europeans, for they were long the abode of peoples as well-established in their homelands as the Europeans were in theirs. That powerful lesson, the essential meaning of the Cook voyages, would not be learned for years to come, centuries even. Certainly no such exalted thoughts possessed those impatient sailors when the ships opened the English channel on August 9. Their concerns were entirely immediate. The winds having changed, Gore decided to sail around and up the west coast of the British Isles, and the grumbling and griping common to sailors turned to resentment at his leadership. Somehow they could not accept another in Cook's stead.

On August 21 the ships sighted the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland after a weary passage from the Cape of three months, two weeks, and three days, the longest time they were ever out of sight of land. The next day they anchored at Stromness. Why they should anchor there, complained Gilbert, "was known only to our commander."

A series of letters written at Stromness by twenty year-old midshipman James Trevenen to his mother shows that the bored sailors were fed up with each other. The passage from the Cape should have taken only ten or eleven weeks, he grumbled on the 23rd. There was a war on, he wrote on the 31st, and they should be out in the thick of things getting their share of the prize money. The contrary winds had ruffled the sailors' tempers. Gore was not Cook. That much was plain to Trevenen, who could recite the differences in their sailing qualities. Here was Gore sitting in port waiting for a change in the weather. Two years before, Trevenen had exulted when Cook had sailed out of Nootka Sound right into the teeth of a violent storm, and on that occasion he had beamed in admiration that Cook's practice was "never to wait in port for a fair wind, but to go to Sea & look for one." He had acquired the gift of the quotable phrase, Trevenen. At Stromness he came up with another for the captain he had fairly worshipped. On September 7 he wrote that those useless ships had seen better days: they were once commanded by the "sublime and soaring genius of a Cook." When King was sent down to London with the journals and charts, Trevenen was miffed that Gore would not let him go along. The only saving grace, said he, was that his mate Burney was left in command of Discovery. As for that "wretch" Williamson, he was "feared and hated by his inferiors, detested by his equals, and despised by his superiors," and the midshipmen had not spoken to him in more than a year. The sailors had tasted sour grapes and their teeth were set on edge. By September 9 poor Gore, aged fifty, was "that old conceited American" and nothing but an "indolent old man."62

The third voyage, Cook's longest and most arduous, failed of its avowed purpose, as did the first two. But no previous voyage and none since ever surveyed so vast a region. Landscapes were painted from the Antarctic to the Arctic, from 49º S to 70º N, and so were the peoples of the islands and coasts of the five oceans. Cook developed the first clear outline of the west coast of North America from the capes of Oregon to the north slope of Alaska. To his list of South Pacific peoples he added the Hawaiians, the native Americans and Canadians of the Northwest Coast, and the Eskimos, Aleuts and Chukchis of the Siberian Arctic. Brought to life by the artists and writers, they burst as a revelation upon the European mind. Inevitably the eastward expansion of the Russians would be halted. Inevitably Canada and the United States would become Pacific powers, Hawaii and Alaska becoming states, their collective destiny hastened by the third Cook voyage.

On September 20, a fair wind having arrived, the elderly and venerable ships finally sailed out of Stromness and into the North Sea. Three days later, marine sergeant Samuel Gibson, veteran of all three voyages, who tried to desert from Endeavour at Tahiti and earned Cook's favor by his skill at languages on the second voyage, died and was committed to the deep, to be followed a week later by Canadian-born seaman, John Davis, both by unidentified illnesses.63 Visited by fresh melancholy, the ships crept south through the English Channel and up the Thames. After four years and three months the sailors were back where they had begun. Gore had brought them home safely, a satisfactory accomplishment for the old American.

On October 7, 1780 Resolution and Discovery dropped anchor at Deptford and Woolwich, without fanfare, without joy, without Cook.

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