CHAPTER II. Narrative of Captain Cook's first voyage round the world.
On Sunday the 14th, an instance was exhibited of the inattention of the natives to our modes of religion. The lieutenant had directed, that divine service should be performed at the fort; and he was desirous that some of the principal Indians should be present. Mr. Banks secured the attendance of Tuobourai Tamaide and his wife Tomio, hoping that it would give occasion to some inquiries on their part, and to some instruction in return. During the whole service, they very attentively observed Mr. Banks's behaviour, and stood, sat, or kneeled, as they saw him do; and they appeared to be sensible, that it was a serious and important employment in which the English were engaged. But when the worship was ended, neither of them asked any questions, nor would they attend to any explanations which were attempted to be given of what had been performed.
As the day approached for executing the grand purpose of the voyage, Lieutenant Cook determined, in consequence of some hints which he had received from the Earl of Morton, to send out two parties, to observe the transit of Venus from other situations. By this means he hoped, that the success of the observation would be secured, if there should happen to be any failure at Otaheite. Accordingly, on Thursday the 1st of June, he dispatched Mr. Gore in the long boat to Eimeo, a neighbouring island, together with Mr. Monkhouse and Mr. Sporing, a gentleman belonging to Mr. Banks. They were furnished by Mr. Green with proper instruments. Mr. Banks himself chose to go upon this expedition, in which he was accompanied by Tubourai Tamaide and Tomio, and by others of the natives. Early the next morning, the lieutenant sent Mr. Hicks, in the pinnace, with Mr. Clerk and Mr. Pickersgill, and Mr. Saunders, one of the midshipmen, ordering them to fix upon some convenient spot to the eastward, at a distance from the principal observatory, where they also might employ the instruments they were provided with for observing the transit.
The anxiety for such weather as would be favourable to the success of the experiment, was powerfully felt by all the parties concerned. They could not sleep in peace the preceding night: but their apprehensions were happily removed by the sun's rising, on the morning of the 3d of June, without a cloud. The weather continued with equal clearness through the whole of the day; so that the observation was successively made in every quarter. At the fort where Lieutenant Cook, Mr. Green, and Dr. Solander were stationed, the whole passage of the planet Venus over the sun's disk was observed with great advantage. The magnifying power of Dr. Solander's telescope was superior to that of those which belonged to the lieutenant and to Mr. Green. They all saw an atmosphere or dusky cloud round the body of the planet; which much disturbed the times of the contact, and especially of the internal ones; and, in their accounts of these times, they differed from each other in a greater degree than might have been expected. According to Mr. Green,
The first external contact, or first appearance h. min. sec.
of Venus on the sun, was . . . . . . . . . . . 9 25 42
The first internal contact, or total immersion,
was . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 44 4
The second internal contact, or beginning
of the emersion, was . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 14 8
The second external contact, or total
emersion, was . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 32 10
The latitude of the observatory was found to be
17 29' 15"; and the longitude 149 32' 30" west
A more particular account of this great astronomical event, the providing for the accurate observation of which reflects so much honour on his majesty's munificent patronage of science, may be seen in the sixty-first volume of the Philosophical Transactions.
The pleasure which Lieutenant Cook and his friends derived, from having thus successfully accomplished the first grand object of the voyage, was not a little abated by the conduct of some of the ship's company, who, while the attention of the officers was engrossed by the transit of Venus, broke into one of the store-rooms, and stole a quantity of spike nails, amounting to no less than a hundred weight. This was an evil of a public and serious nature; for these nails, if injudiciously circulated among the Indians, would be productive of irreparable injury to the English, by reducing the value of iron, their staple commodity. One of the thieves, from whom only seven nails were recovered, was detected; but though the punishment of two dozen lashes was inflicted upon him, he would not impeach any of his accomplices.