CHAPTER 12. 1771. PREPARATIONS FOR SECOND VOYAGE.
Cook obtained a few days' leave to make his final arrangements, and the Resolution was ordered to the Downs under the first lieutenant, whilst the Adventure proceeded to Plymouth; both vessels sailing from Longreach on 10th May. The Resolution, contending against adverse winds, made a very slow trip down to the Nore, being four days on the journey, and Mr. Cooper reported to Cook that she was very crank. The latter at once wrote to the Admiralty that he considered it unsafe to proceed any further with her in that condition, and proposed that her poop should be cut down, her masts shortened, and her guns exchanged to four-pounders. The Navy Board, however, decided that she should be restored to her original state as far as it was possible to do so; she was therefore ordered to Sheerness, and her Captain was instructed to join his ship and see the alterations were properly carried out.
Before leaving London Cook, who had heard it was said that he was not satisfied with the vessels chosen for the voyage, wrote to Mr. Stephens on the subject, giving his opinion that the crankness of the Resolution "was owing to the additional works that have been built upon her in order to make large accommodation for the several gentlemen passengers intended to embark in her." He added that the proposed alterations of the Navy Board would "render her as fit to perform the voyage as any ship whatever"; and, referring to the report that he did not approve of the type of ship, he says, "from the knowledge and experience I have had of these sort of vessels, I shall always be of opinion that only such are proper to be sent on Discoveries to very distant parts." On the 21st he again wrote Stephens that the alterations were making satisfactory progress, and that a man had been in the yard who had known the ship before her purchase, and he had "with some warmth asserted that at that time she was not only a stiff ship, but had as many good qualities as any ship ever built in Whitby." In reply to a rumour that the men were afraid to sail in her, he points out that she is moored alongside a wharf, and the men could go ashore whenever they pleased, yet he had not lost a single man.
Mr. Banks did not approve of the reduction in his accommodation necessitated by these alterations, and tried to get a 40-gun ship in place of the Resolution, and he and his friends succeeded in raising a very acrimonious discussion on the subject; but the admiralty stood firm, and the alterations went on under the superintendence of Cook. On 24th May Banks and Solander went to inspect her, and on their return to town Banks wrote to the Admiralty that he should not go the voyage as "the ship was neither roomy nor convenient enough for my purpose, nor no ways proper for the voyage." Cook, who says the preparations had cost Banks "about five Thousand Pounds," does not think that the reasons given by Banks were the only ones he had for not taking part in the voyage, and then continues, "their baggage, etc., were got out of the sloop and sent to London, after which no more complaints were heard of want of room, etc."
Lieutenant Clerke, who was very friendly with Banks, wrote to him on 31st May:
"Indeed I am sorry I'm not to have the honour of attending you the other bout...They are going to stow the major part of the cables in the hold to make room for the people now. I asked Gilbert [the Master], if such was the present case, what the devil should we have done if we had all gone? 'Oh, by God, that was impossible,' was his answer."
Marra (the gunner's mate), in a Journal of the voyage, published by Newberry, 1775, says the success of the voyage was due to their having shaken off:
"the train of gentlemen, who with their attendants occupied the chief accommodations of the ship," and whose presence would have rendered it "out of the power of the most determined officer to have carried such a princely retinue through the icy regions which they were to pass, without murmurs, or perhaps mutiny."
Some of the newspapers tried to make political matter out of the affair, and one at any rate roundly declared that "the true reason" of Banks's withdrawal was on account of a remonstrance from the Spanish Ambassador against any further exploration of the South Seas.
The withdrawal of Banks made no difference to his friendship with Cook, and in the future he was always ready to afford his support whenever it could be of any service either to his friend or family.
JOHN REINHOLD FORSTER.