CAPTAIN COOK'S FIRST VOYAGE, I

On the 30th of December the English doubled a cape which they took to be that of Maria Van Diemen, discovered by Tasman, but they were so assailed by threatening winds, that Cook only accomplished ten leagues in three weeks. Fortunately they kept at a uniform distance from shore all the time, otherwise we should probably have been spared the recital of their further adventures.

On the 16th of January, 1770, after naming various portions of the eastern shore, Cook arrived in sight of an imposing peak, which was covered with snow, and which he named Mount Egmont in honour of the earl of that name.

Scarcely had he doubled the peak, when he found that the coast described the arc of a circle. It was split up into numberless roadsteads, which Cook determined to enter, in order to allow of his ship being repaired and keeled.

He landed at the bottom of a creek where he found a fine river and plenty of trees, for the forest only ceased at the sea for want of soil.

The amicable relations with the natives at this point enabled him to inquire if they had ever seen a vessel like the Endeavour. But he found that even the traditions of Tasman's visit were forgotten, although he was only fifteen miles south of Assassin Bay.

In one of the provision baskets of the Zealanders ten half gnawed bones were found. They did not look like a dog's bones, and on nearer inspection they turned out to be human remains. The natives in reply to the questions put to them, asserted that they were in the habit of eating their enemies. A few days later, they brought on board the Endeavour seven human heads, to which hair and flesh still adhered, but the brains as being delicate morsels, were already picked. The flesh was soft, and no doubt was preserved from decay by some ingredient, for it had no unpleasant odour. Banks bought one of these heads after some difficulty, but he could not induce the old man who brought it to part with a second, probably because the New Zealanders considered them as trophies, and testimonies to their bravery.

The succeeding days were devoted to a visit to the environs, and to some walks in the neighbourhood. During one of these excursions Cook, having climbed a high hill, distinctly perceived the whole of the strait to which he had given the name of Queen Charlotte, and the opposite shore, which appeared to him about four leagues distant.

A fog made it impossible for him to see further to the south-east, but he had discerned enough to assure him that it was the final extent of the large island of which he had followed all the windings. He had now only to finish his discoveries in the south, which he proposed to do as soon as he had satisfied himself that Queen Charlotte's Sound was really a strait.

Cook visited a pah in the neighbourhood. Built upon a little island or inaccessible rock, the pah was merely a fortified village. The natives most frequently add to the natural defences by fortifications, which render the approach still more perilous. Many were defended by a double ditch, the inner one having a parapet and double palisade. The second ditch was at least eighty feet in depth. On the inside of the palisade, at the height of twenty feet, was a raised platform forty feet long by six wide. Supported on two large poles, it was intended to hold the defenders of the place, who from thence could easily overwhelm the attacking party with darts and stones, of which an enormous supply was always ready in case of need.

These strongholds cannot be forced, unless by means of a long blockade the inmates should be compelled to surrender.

"It is surprising," as Cook remarks, "that the industry and care employed by them in building places so well adapted for defence, almost without the use of instruments, should not by the same means, have led them to invent a single weapon of any importance, with the sole exception of the spear they throw with the hand. They do not understand the use of a bow to throw a dart, or of a sling to fling a stone, which is the more astonishing, as the invention of slings, and bows and arrows is far more simple than the construction of these works by the people, and moreover these two weapons are met with in almost all parts of the world, in the most savage countries."

On the 6th of February, Cook left the bay, and set sail for the east, in the hope of discovering the entrance to the strait before the ebb of the tide. At seven in the evening, the vessel was driven by the violence of the current to the close neighbourhood of a small island, outside Cape Koamaroo. Sharply pointed rocks rose from the sea. The danger increased momentarily, one only hope of saving the ship remained. It was attempted and succeeded. A cable's length was the distance between theEndeavour and the rock when anchor was cast, in seventy-five fathoms of water. Fortunately the anchor found a hold, and the current changing its direction after touching the island, carried the vessel past the rock. But she was not yet in safety, for she was still in the midst of rocks, and the current made five miles an hour.

However, the current decreased, the vessel righted herself, and the wind becoming favourable, she was speedily carried to the narrowest part of the strait, which she crossed without difficulty.

The most northerly island of New Zealand, which is named Eaheinomauwe, was, however, as yet only partially known, there still remained some fifteen leagues unexplored.