CHAPTER 11. 1770 TO 1771. NEW GUINEA TO ENGLAND.
The water on the New Guinea coast was very shallow, and kept them far out in running westward, but on 3rd September they got a little nearer in, so Cook decided to attempt a landing, and then to leave, as he considered it was only wasting valuable time to go over ground that had already been explored by the Dutch. Banks says the crew were rather sickly, they:
"were pretty far gone with the longing for home, which the physicians have gone so far as to esteem a disease under the name of Nostalgia. Indeed, I can find hardly anybody in the ship clear of its effects, but the Captain, Dr. Solander, and myself, and we three have ample constant employment for our minds, which I believe to be the best if not the only remedy for it."
They were also on short allowance of food, which would necessarily have a depressing effect, and when they learnt that Cook would return to civilisation where fresh supplies could be obtained, there was a marked improvement in the general health.
Calling in at the island of Savu, some supplies were obtained, and the country is described as very lovely, although there had been no rain for seven months; the contrast with the monotonous and barren-looking country of New Holland was very marked.
According to strict orders from the Admiralty, Cook on 30th September collected all logs and journals that had been kept on board the ship, and enjoined every one that they were on no account to divulge where they had been on their arrival at Batavia. Off Java Head the main topsail was split in a squall, and Cook remarks that all his sails are now in such a condition that "they will hardly stand the least puff of wind." No observations had been possible since leaving Savu, and the strong western current had thrown out their dead reckoning, causing them to run past the Straits of Sunda; but, picking themselves up on 1st October, they got into the straits, and after a wearisome beat up arrived in Batavia on the 10th; and Hicks was sent on shore to announce their arrival, and offer an apology for failing to salute the Dutch flag in a proper manner - the reason being that they had only three guns available.
The ship was thoroughly surveyed, and on the carpenter's report, Cook applied to the Governor for a convenient place in which to heave down and repair, and for permission to purchase such stores as might be necessary. Every assistance was promised, and on Cook's finding a difficulty in getting any private person to cash the bills he would have to draw for his expenses, the Governor ordered the officer in charge of the port to supply whatever amount might be necessary.
During a heavy thunderstorm on the 12th, a Dutch East Indiaman, about two cables away from the Endeavour, had mainmast "split all to shivers." The Endeavour was also struck:
"and in all probability we should have shared the same fate as the Dutchman, had it not been for the electric chain which we had but just before got up; this carried the Lightning or Electrical matter over the side clear of the ship."
On 25th October Cook reopened communication with the Admiralty, forwarding to Mr. Stephens, by the Dutch East Indiaman Kronenberg, Captain F. Kelgar, a packet containing a copy of his Journal (sold to Mr. John Corner in 1890), charts of the South Seas, New Zealand, and the East Coast of Australia. He also wrote a letter giving an outline of his voyage up to date, and concludes:
"In this Journal, I have with undisguised Truth and without gloss, inserted the whole transactions of the Voyage, and made such remarks and have given such descriptions of things as I thought was necessary, in the best manner I was capable of. Although the discoverys made in the Voyage are not great, yet I flatter myself they are such as may merit the Attention of their Lordships, and altho' I have failed in discovering the so much talked of Southern Continent (which perhaps do not exist), and which I myself had much at heart, yet I am confident that no part of the failure of such discovery can be laid to my charge. Had we been so fortunate not to have run ashore, much more would have been done in the latter part of the Voyage than what was, but as it is, I presume this Voyage will be found as compleat as any before made to the South Seas on the same account.
PRAISES HIS CREW.
"The plans I have drawn of the places I have been at, were made with all the care and accuracy that Time and Circumstances would admit of. Thus far I am certain that the Latitude and Longitude of few parts of the World are better settled than these, in this I was very much assisted by Mr. Green, who let slip no one opportunity for making observations for settling the Longitude during the whole course of the Voyage, and the many valuable discoverys made by Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander in Natural History and other things useful to the learned World, cannot fail of contributing very much to the success of the Voyage. In justice to the officers and the whole of the crew, I must say, they have gone through the fatigues and dangers of the Whole Voyage with that cheerfulness and alertness that will always do honour to the British Seamen, and I have the satisfaction to say that I have not lost one man by Sickness during the whole Voyage. I hope that the repairs wanting to the Ship will not be so great as to detain us any length of time; You may be assured that I shall make no unnecessary delay either here or at any other place, but shall make the best of my way home."
Banks, too, notes that there were no sick on board, and contrasts the rosy, healthy appearance of the crew with the pallid faces of the Europeans of Batavia. But on 26th October a series of disastrous entries commence in the Journal.
"Set up the ship's tents for the reception of the ship's company, several of them begin to be taken ill, owing as I suppose to the extream hot weather."