CHAPTER II. Narrative of Captain Cook's first voyage round the world.
On Thursday the 27th of December, the Endeavour stood out to sea; and on the 5th of January, 1771, she came to an anchor, under the south-east side of Prince's Island. The design of this was to obtain a recruit of wood and water, and to procure some refreshments for the sick, many of whom had become much worse than they were when they left Batavia. As soon as the vessel was secured, the lieutenant, Mr. Banks, and Dr. Solander went on shore, and were conducted by some Indians they met with to a person who was represented to be the king of the country. After exchanging a few compliments with his majesty, the gentlemen proceeded to business, but could not immediately come to a settlement with him in respect to the price of turtle. They were more successful in their search of a watering-place, having found water conveniently situated, and which they had reason to believe would prove good. As they were going off, some of the natives sold them three turtle, under a promise that the king should not be informed of the transaction.
On the next day a traffic was established with the Indians, upon such terms as were offered by the English; so that by night our people had plenty of turtle. The three which had been purchased the evening before were in the mean time dressed for the ship's company, who, excepting on the preceding day, had not, for nearly the space of four months, been once served with salt provisions. Mr. Banks, in the evening, paid his respects to the king at his palace, which was situated in the middle of a rice field. His majesty was busily employed in dressing his own supper; but this did not prevent him from receiving his visitant in a very gracious manner. During the following days the commerce with the natives for provisions was continued; in the course of which they brought down to the trading place, not only a quantity of turtle, but fowls, fish, monkeys, small deer, and some vegetables.
On the evening of the 11th, when Mr. Cook went on shore to see how those of his people conducted their business, who were employed in wooding and watering, he was informed that an axe had been stolen. As it was a matter of consequence to prevent others from being encouraged to commit thefts of the like kind, he resolved not to pass over the offence, but to insist upon redress from the king. Accordingly, after some altercation, his majesty promised that the axe should be restored in the morning, and the promise was faithfully performed.
On the 15th, our commander weighed, and stood out for sea. Prince's Island, where he lay about ten days, was formerly much frequented by the India ships of many nations, and especially those of England, but it had lately been forsaken, on account of the supposed badness of its water. This supposition, however, arose from a want of duly examining the brook by which the water is supplied. It is, indeed, brackish at the lower part of the brook, but higher up it will be found excellent. The lieutenant, therefore, was clearly of opinion, that Prince's Island is a more eligible place for ships to touch at, than either at North Island or New Bay; from neither of which places any considerable quantity, of other refreshments can be procured.
As the Endeavour proceeded on her voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, the seeds of disease, which had been received at Batavia, appeared with the most threatening symptoms, and reduced our navigators to a very melancholy situation. The ship was, in fact, nothing better than an hospital, in which those who could go about were not sufficient for a due attendance upon those who were sick. Lest the water which had been taken in at Prince's island should have had any share in adding to the disorder of the men, the lieutenant ordered it to be purified with lime; and, as a farther remedy against infection, he directed all the parts of the vessel between the decks to be washed with vinegar. The malady had taken too deep root to be speedily eradicated. Mr. Banks was reduced so low by it, that for some time there was no hope of his life; and so fatal was the disease to many others, that almost every night a dead body was committed to the sea. There were buried, in the course of about six weeks, Mr. Sporing, a gentleman who was one of Mr. Banks's assistants; Mr. Parkinson, his natural history painter, Mr. Green, the astronomer; the boatswain, the carpenter, and his mate; Mr. Monkhouse the midshipman, another midshipman, the old jolly sailmaker and his assistant, the ship's cook, the corporal of the marines, two of the carpenter's crew, and nine seamen. In all, the loss amounted to three and twenty persons, besides the seven who died at Batavia. It is probable that these calamitous events, which could not fail of making a powerful impression on the mind of Lieutenant Cook, might give occasion to his turning his thoughts more zealously to those methods of preserving the health of seamen, which he afterwards pursued with such remarkable success.
On Friday the 15th of March, the Endeavour arrived off the Cape of Good Hope; and as soon as she was brought to an anchor, our commander waited upon the governor, from whom be received assurances that he should be furnished with every supply which the country could afford. His first care was to provide a proper place for the sick, whose number was not small; and a house was speedily found, where it was agreed that they should be lodged and boarded at the rate of two shillings a day for each person.
The run from Java Head to the Cape of Good Hope did not furnish many subjects of remark, that could be of any great use to future voyagers. Such observations, however, as occurred to him, the lieutenant has been careful to record, not being willing to omit the least circumstance that may contribute to the safety and facility of navigation.