Captain James Cook

On the 7th December the voyagers finally quitted this place, and on the 14th January 1769, entered the Straits of Le Maire, where the sea was running tremendously high, and on the following day anchored in the Bay of Good Success. Although the season was extremely inclement, yet the love of botany induced Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, Mr. Monkhouse the surgeon, and Mr. Green the astronomer, to ascend the mountains in search of plants. They took with them their attendants and servants, with two seamen; and after suffering severe hardships from the cold and the torpor it produced, they got back to the ship on the second day, leaving two black men, who had accompanied them, dead from the extreme severity of the weather. They could not be got on, but lay down to rest, and slept the sleep of death. Dr. Solander with great difficulty was saved; for although the first to warn others against the danger of reposing, yet he was eventually himself so overcome, that great exertion was required to force him along. They found the inhabitants on the coasts of these straits a wretched set of beings, with scarcely any covering dwelling in hovels made of sticks and grass, that offered no obstruction to the entrance of the wind, the snow, and the rain. They wandered about, picking up a scanty subsistence wherever they could, though they had not a single implement to dress their fish when caught, or any other food: still they appeared contented; and the only things they coveted from the English were beads and useless trinkets.

On the 26th January the Endeavour took her departure from Cape Horn, and before March 1st had run 660 leagues. Several islands were discovered in their progress, most of which were supposed to be inhabited; and their beautiful verdure and delightful appearance were highly gratifying to the sea-worn mariners. On the 11th of April they came in sight of Otaheite, and two days after anchored in Port Royal (Matavai), where the scientific gentlemen landed, and fixed upon a spot to serve them for an observatory. The natives displayed much friendship but, to prevent collision, Mr. Cook drew up a code of regulations by which communication and traffic were to be carried on. A tent was erected on the site proposed - the natives keeping outside a marked boundary - and a midshipman with thirteen marines were placed over it as guards. As soon as this was accomplished, the party proceeded to examine the interior of the island; but soon after their departure, one of the natives snatched away the musket of the sentry. The marines were ordered to fire, and the thief was shot dead. This greatly alarmed the natives; but in a day or two they again became familiarized and friendly. Mr. Cook proceeded to erect a fort round the observatory, and mounted six swivel guns, which caused apprehensions among the chiefs; but the natives assisted in the works; and the commander displayed his sense of justice by publicly flogging the butcher for having attempted or threatened the life of a wife of one of the chiefs, who was particularly favorable to the English. On the first stroke of the lash, the natives earnestly solicited that the man should be forgiven; but Mr. Cook deemed the example essential, and inflicted the whole punishment, greatly to the pain and regret of the compassionate Indians, many of whom shed tears.

As soon as the fort was completed, and the astronomical instruments were landed, they sought for the quadrant by which the transit was to be observed, but it was nowhere to be found. Diligent search was made, and a reward offered, but without success; and it was feared that the object of their long and arduous voyage would remain unaccomplished. At length, through the judicious intervention of Mr. Banks, the quadrant was recovered from the natives who had stolen it, and with great joy set up in its place. The approach of the time of observation produced anxiety and excitement; and hoping that the atmosphere would be clear and favorable, as well as to make assurance sure, Mr. Cook established two other observatories - one on the island of Eimeo, under Mr. Banks, and the other to the eastward of the main observatory, under Mr. Hicks (the master).

The morning of the 3d June was ushered in with a cloudless sky, and at the fort the transit was observed in the most satisfactory manner. The success of their enterprise was highly gratifying to the voyagers; but their pleasure was somewhat damped by the violence which at times was engendered between the natives and the seamen, the former of whom proved to be dexterous thieves. But Mr. Cook would not allow the plunderers to be fired upon, as he considered the issue of life and death to be of too important a nature to be intrusted to a sentinel, without any form of trial or show of equity; nor did he deem a petty theft as meriting so severe a punishment. On one occasion, however, he seized upon all their fishing canoes, fully laden; and though from motives of humanity he gave up the fish, yet he detained the vessels, under a hope that several articles which had been pilfered would be restored. But in this he was mistaken; for nothing of value was given up, and ultimately he released the canoes. Mr. Cook and Mr. Banks circumnavigated the island, and visited many villages, where they renewed acquaintance with the several chiefs. Exploring parties were also sent into the interior; and Mr. Banks planted the seeds of water-melons, oranges, lemons, limes, and other plants and trees which he had collected for the purpose (some of which are now in rich perfection); and it was ascertained that parts of the island manifested appearances of subterranean fire.