CHAPTER IV. Narrative of Captain Cook's second Voyage round the World.
During the circumnavigation of the globe, from the period of our commander's leaving the Cape of Good Hope to his return to it again, he had sailed no less than twenty thousand leagues. This was an extent of voyage nearly equal to three times the equatorial circumference of the earth, and which had never been accomplished before, by any ship, in the same compass of duration. In such a case, it could not be a matter of surprise, that the rigging and sails of the Resolution should be essentially damaged, and even worn out, and yet, in all this great run, which had been made in every latitude between nine and seventy-one, she did not spring either lowmast, topmast, lower or topsail yard; nor did she so much as break a lower or topmast shroud. These happy circumstances were owing to the good properties of the vessel, and the singular care and abilities of her officers.
On the remainder of the voyage it is not necessary to enlarge. Though it was conducted with the same attention to navigation and geography, and with the same sagacity in marking whatever was worthy of observation, nevertheless, as it was not employed in traversing unknown seas, or in discovering countries that had not been heard of before, it may be sufficient briefly to mention the places at which Captain Cook touched before his arrival in England. The repairs of the ship having been completed, and the necessary stores gotten on board, together with a fresh supply of provisions and water, he left the Cape of Good Hope on the 27th of April, and reached the Island of St. Helena on the 15th of May. Here he staid till the 21st, when he sailed for the Island of Ascension, where he anchored on the 28th. From this place he directed his course, on the 31st, for the Island of Fernando de Noronha, at which he arrived on the 9th of June.
In the progress of the voyage, our commander made an experiment upon the still for procuring fresh water; and the result of the trial was, that the invention is useful upon the whole, but that to trust entirely to it would by no means be advisable. Indeed, provided there is not a scarcity of fuel, and the coppers are good, as much water may be obtained as will support life; but no efforts will be able to procure a quantity sufficient for the preservation of health, especially in hot climates. Captain Cook was convinced by experience, that nothing contributes more to the health of seamen, than having plenty of water.
On the 14th of July, the captain came to anchor in the Bay of Fayal, one of the Azores islands. His sole design in stopping here was to give Mr. Wales an opportunity of finding the rate of the watch, that hereby he might be enabled to fix the longitude of these island with the greater degree of certainty. No sooner, therefore, had our commander anchored, than he sent an officer to wait on the English consul, and to acquaint the governor with the arrival of our navigators, requesting his permission for Mr. Wales to make observations on shore, for the purpose now mentioned. Mr. Dent, who then acted as consul, not only obtained this permission, but accommodated Mr. Wales with a convenient place in his garden, to set up his instruments.
This object being accomplished, Captain Cook proceeded on the 19th, with all expedition for England. On the 30th of the same month, he anchored at Spithead, and landed at Portsmouth; having been absent from Great Britain three years and eighteen days, in which time, and under all changes of climate, he had lost but four men, and only one of them by sickness.