CHAPTER II. Narrative of Captain Cook's first voyage round the world.
The complement of Lieutenant Cook's ship consisted of eighty-four persons besides the commander. Her victualling was for eighteen months; and there was put on board of her ten carriage and ten swivel guns, together with an ample store of ammunition and other necessaries.
On the 25th of May, 1768, Lieutenant Cook was appointed, by the lords of the Admiralty, to the command of the Endeavour, in consequence of which he went on board on the 27th, and took charge of the ship. She then lay in the bason in Deptford-yard, where she continued to lie till she was completely fitted for sea. On the 30th of July she sailed down the river, and on the 13th of August anchored in Plymouth Sound. The wind becoming fair on the 26th of that month, our navigators got under sail, and on the 13th of September anchored in Funchiale Road, in the island of Madeira.
While Lieutenant Cook and his company were in this island, they were treated with the utmost kindness and liberality by Mr. Cheap, the English consul there, and one of the most considerable merchants in the town of Funchiale. He insisted upon their taking possession of his house, and furnished them with every possible accommodation during their stay at Madeira. They received, likewise, great marks of attention and civility from Dr. Thomas Heberden, the principal physician of the island, and brother to the excellent and learned Dr. William Heberden of London. Dr. Thomas Heberden afforded all the assistance in his power to Mr. Banks, and Dr. Solander in their botanical inquiries.
It was not solely from the English that the lieutenant and his friends experienced a kind reception. The fathers of the Franciscan convent displayed a liberality of sentiment towards them, which might not have been expected from Portuguese friars; and, in a visit which they paid to a convent of nuns, the ladies expressed a particular pleasure at seeing them. At this visit the good nuns gave an amusing proof of the progress they had made to the cultivation of their understandings. Having heard that there were great philosophers among the English gentlemen, they asked them a variety of questions; one of which was, when it would thunder; and another, whether a spring of fresh water, which was much wanted, was any where to be found within the walls of the convent. Eminent as our philosophers were, they were puzzled by these questions.
Lieutenant Cook, having laid in a fresh stock of beef, water, and wine, set sail from the island of Madeira, in the night of the 18th of September, and proceeded on his voyage. By the 7th of November several articles of the ship's provisions began to fall short; for which reason, the lieutenant determined to put into Rio de Janeiro. This place he preferred to any other port in Brazil or to Falkland's Islands, because he could there be better supplied with what he wanted, and had no doubt of meeting with a friendly reception.
During the run between Madeira and Rio de Janeiro, Lieutenant Cook and the gentlemen in the Endeavour had an opportunity of determining a philosophical question. On the evening of the 29th of October, they observed that luminous appearance of the sea which has so often been mentioned by navigators, and which has been ascribed to such a variety of causes. Flashes of light appeared to be emitted, exactly resembling those of lightning, though without being so considerable; and such was the frequency of them, that sometimes eight or ten were visible almost at the same moment. It was the opinion of Mr. Cook and the other gentlemen, that these flashes proceeded from some luminous animal; and their opinion was confirmed by experiment.
At Rio de Janeiro, in the port of which Lieutenant Cook came to an anchor on the 13th of November, he did not meet with the polite reception that, perhaps, he had too sanguinely expected. His stay was spent in continual altercations, with the viceroy, who appeared not a little jealous of the designs of the English: nor were all the attempts of the lieutenant to set the matter right, capable of producing any effect. The viceroy was by no means distinguished either by his knowledge or his love of science; and the grand object of Mr. Cook's expedition was quite beyond his comprehension. When he was told that the English were bound to the southward, by the order of his Britannic majesty, to observe a transit of the planet Venus over the Sun, an astronomical phenomenon of great importance to navigation, he could form no other conception of the matter, than that it was the passing of the North star through the South Pole.
During the whole of the contest with the viceroy, Lieutenant Cook behaved with equal spirit and discretion. A supply of water and other necessaries could not be refused him, and those were gotten on board by the 1st of December. On that day the lieutenant sent to the viceroy for a pilot to carry the Endeavour to sea; but the wind preventing the ship from getting out, she was obliged to continue some time longer in the harbour. A Spanish packet having arrived at Rio de Janeiro on the 2d of December, with dispatches from Buenos Ayres for Spain, the commander, Don Antonio de Monte Negro y Velasco, offered, with great politeness, to convey the letters of the English to Europe. This favour Lieutenant Cook accepted, and gave Don Antonio a packet for the secretary of the Admiralty, containing copies of all the papers that had passed between himself and the Viceroy. He left, also, duplicates with the viceroy, that he might forward them, if he thought proper, to Lisbon.