Home > Welcome Home

Welcome Home


For months ships from the Far East had brought only scraps of news. In January "Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander" were reported safe in Batavia. In May Endeavour was feared lost. Then the public was assured that "Dr. Solander, Mr. Banks, and other astronomers" were safe after all and sailing for England. On May 16 a letter from Sydney Parkinson, probably mailed from Batavia (now Djakarta), gave the General Evening Post a scoop: Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander had successfully observed the transit of Venus, and although they had suffered great hardship and barely escaped shipwreck, they were expected any week with a vast number of plants. On May 21 the Public Advertiser, the outstanding morning daily, had them on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic.

With Endeavour anchored in the Downs, on July 13, the London Evening Post hurried to remind its readers that "Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, Mr. Greene, and other ingenious gentlemen on board" had sailed away three years before. Alas, Charles Greene was no more, his manner of dying unknown, and although Solander was tired out from his travels, without doubt a "few days refreshment" would restore him to full health. Ten days later the paper had it on the best authority that a southern continent had been discovered in the neighborhood of the Spice Islands; that Mr. Banks had dwelt for several months among its copper-colored inhabitants, who, although they were friendly enough, had no religion; and in consequence of this new discovery several ships would shortly sail hence. Every drunken sailor had access to the press. Several papers reported excitedly that "Dr. Solander and the other Gentlemen" had mastered the language of "George's Land," touched at forty islands where plenty of inhabitants were astonished to see themselves in a looking glass, and that they had brought back a thousand plants. Seventy hands had been lost, advised the Public Advertiser in a series of stories, and as a reward to the brave survivors for their fatigues and dangers they were being allowed to bring their luggage, with "some of the richest goods made in the East," through the customs duty-free. Not for fifty years had anyone done so much for astronomy as had the illustrious Banks and Solander, the paper hurried on; they had even sailed through two straits, and were it not for a rock plugging the bottom of Endeavour whereby they were saved from certain destruction the world would be deprived of their agreeable discoveries. No, corrected a correspondence, it was a piece of coral that stuck in her bottom.

Early in August, according to the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, Banks and Solander were first in to see the king, who, with the queen, marvelled at their curiosities and plants, especially two kinds of laurel collected in the Philippines - notwithstanding that the closest approach of Endeavour was hundreds of miles away. Banks would have two ships for the new voyage, the paper exclaimed. On August 16 "Lieutenant Cook," who in the opinion of several papers was possessed of the good fortune of having "sailed round the Globe with Messrs Solander, Banks etc.," was reported to have been presented to his Majesty. The General Evening Post soberly revealed the manner of Greene's death; the poor fellow lost his life, when, in a fit, he stuck his legs through a porthole; and the paper followed up this news with a long letter from an unnamed sailor. The London Evening Post responded with a scoop of its own. This time the public had a reasonable account of the voyage from another sailor, who, also unnamed, finding his way into print on August 30, began with a reference to "Captain Cook's discoveries."

But on the whole, it was Banks this, Solander that. They brought back 17,000 plants, declared the Westminster Journal, attempting a scoop, and early in September it was three ships that Banks would have. Another paper said he would command two frigates, a fifty-gun ship, and three smaller sail.1 The young man was riding high.

No comments

Unsolicited e-mail warning

It has come to our attention that spam mailers (senders of bulk unsolicited e-mail) have been forging their mail with this domain as the point of origin. As a matter of policy, we do not send out e-mail from our domain name. If you have received an email that appears to be from "@CaptainCookSociety.com" it was forged and sent without our consent, knowledge, or the use of our servers.