Search for the Southern Continent—Second stay at New Zealand—Pomontou Archipelago—Second stay at Tahiti—Reconnoitring Tonga Isles—Third stay at New Zealand—Second crossing of the Southern Ocean—Easter Island reconnoitred—Visit to the Marquesas Islands.

Had the government not been desirous of rewarding James Cook for the way in which he had fulfilled the mission entrusted to him, the unanimous voice of the public would have constrained them. On the 29th of August he received the rank of commander in the Royal Navy. But the great navigator, proud of the services he had rendered to England and to science, thought the reward less than his achievements merited. He would have delighted in an appointment as ship's captain, but Lord Sandwich, who was then at the head of the Admiralty, pointed out to him, that it was not possible to gratify him without upsetting all established customs, and injuring the discipline of the Royal Navy.

However, Cook busied himself in putting together the necessary materials for the narration of his experiences; but, being soon occupied with still more important matters, he placed them in the hands of Dr. Hawkesworth, who was to superintend their publication.

At the same time, the observations he had taken on the transit of Mercury in concert with Mr. Green, his calculations and astronomical solutions, were submitted to the consideration of the Royal Society, and that learned body at once recognized his merit.

In one respect, however, the important results obtained by Cook were incomplete. He had not perfectly proved the impossibility of an antarctic continent. This chimera was still dear to the hearts of scientific men. Although obliged to admit that neither New Zealand nor Australia made part of such a continent, and that the Endeavourhad navigated in latitudes in which it might have been found, they still affirmed that it would be found still more south, and reiterated all those advantages which its discovery would entail.

The government determined to settle a question which had been discussed for so many years, and to despatch an expedition for the purpose. Its commander was easily selected. The nature of the voyage demanded vessels of peculiar construction. As the Endeavour had been sent to the Falkland Islands, the Admiralty gave orders for the purchase of the two suitable vessels for the purpose.

Cook was consulted, and insisted that the ships should be solidly built, draw little water, and possess capacity for carrying provisions and ammunition in proportion to the number of the crew and the length of the voyage.

The Admiralty accordingly bought two vessels, constructed at Whitby, by the same ship-builder as the Endeavour. The larger was of 462 tons burden, and was named the Resolution, the second was only of 336 tons, and was called the Adventure.

Cook received command of the Resolution, and Captain Tobias Furneaux, second lieutenant of the Wallis, was raised to the command of the Adventure. The second and third officers, and several of the crew had already served in the Endeavour.

It may readily be imagined that every possible care was taken in the equipment of these ships. Lord Sandwich and Captain Palliser themselves superintended every detail.

Each of the ships was stocked with provisions of every kind for two years and a half.

Very extraordinary articles were provided at the instance of Captain Cook, who claimed them as anti-scorbutics, for instance, malt, sour krout, salted cabbages, soup-slabs, mustard and saloop, as well as carrot marmalade, and thickened and unfermented beer, which was tried at the suggestion of Baron Storch of Berlin, and Mr. Pelham, secretary to the Commissariat department.

Equal care was taken to ship two small boats, each of twenty tons, intended to carry the crew in case of shipwreck.

William Hodges, a landscape painter, two naturalists, John Reinhold Forster and his son George; two astronomers, W. Wales and W. Bayley, accompanied the expedition, provided with the best instruments for observation.

Nothing that could conduce to the success of the adventure was neglected. It was to return with an immense amount of collected information, which was to contribute to the progress of the natural and physical sciences, and to the ethnology of navigation and geography.