CHAPTER V. Account of Captain Cook during the Period between his Second Voyage and his Voyage to the Pacific Ocean.
Two vessels were fixed upon by government for the intended service; the Resolution and the Discovery. The command of the former was given to Captain Cook, and of the other to Captain Clerke. To the Resolution was assigned the same complement of officers and men which she had during her preceding voyage; and the only difference in the establishment of the Discovery from that of the Adventure, was in the single instance of her having no marine officer on board.
From the time of the two ships being put into commission, the greatest degree of attention and zeal, was exerted by the Earl of Sandwich and the rest of the board of admiralty, to have them equipped in the most complete manner. Both the vessels were supplied with as much of every necessary article as could conveniently be stowed, and with the best of each kind that could be procured. Whatever, likewise, the experience of the former voyages had shewn to be of any utility in preserving the health of seamen, was provided in large abundance. That some permanent benefit might be conveyed to the inhabitants of Otaheite, and of the other islands of the Pacific Ocean, whom our navigators might happen to visit, it was graciously commanded by his majesty, that an assortment of useful animals should be carried out to those countries. Accordingly, a bull, two cows with their calves, and several sheep, with hay and corn for their subsistence, were taken on board; and it was intended to add other serviceable animals to these, when Captain Cook should arrive at the Cape of Good Hope. With the same benevolent purposes, the captain was furnished with a sufficient quantity, of such of our European garden seeds, as could not fail of being a valuable present to the newly discovered islands, by adding fresh supplies of food to their own vegetable productions. By order of the board of admiralty, many articles besides were delivered to our commander, which were calculated, in various ways, to improve the condition of the natives of the other hemisphere. Still farther to promote a friendly intercourse with them, and to carry on a traffic that might be profitable on both sides, an ample assortment was provided of iron tools and trinkets. An attention no less humane was extended to the wants of our own people. Some additional clothing, adapted to a cold climate, was ordered for the crews of the two ships; and nothing was denied to our navigators that could be supposed to be in the least conducive to their health, or even to their convenience.
It was not to these things only, that the extraordinary care of Lord Sandwich, and of the other gentlemen at the head of the naval department, was confined. They were equally solicitous to afford every assistance that was calculated to render the expedition of public utility. Several astronomical and nautical instruments were entrusted, by the board of longitude, to Captain Cook, and Mr. King his second lieutenant; who had undertaken to make the necessary observations, during the voyage, for the improvement of astronomy and navigation. It was originally intended that a professed observator should be sent out in the Resolution; but the scientific abilities of the captain and his lieutenant rendered the appointment of such a person absolutely unnecessary. The case was somewhat different with regard to the Discovery. Mr. William Bayley, who had already given satisfactory proofs of his skill and diligence as an observator, while he was employed in Captain Furneaux's ship, during the late voyage was engaged a second time in that capacity, and appointed to sail on board Captain Clerke's vessel. The department of natural history was assigned to Mr. Anderson, the surgeon of the Resolution, who was as willing, as he was well qualified, to describe every thing in that branch of science which should occur worthy of notice. From the remarks of this gentleman, Captain Cook had derived considerable assistance in his last navigation; especially with regard to the very copious vocabulary of the language of Otaheite, and the comparative specimen of the languages of the other islands which had then been visited. There were several young men among our commander's sea officers, who, under his direction, could be usefully employed in constructing charts, in taking views of the coasts and headlands near which our voyagers might pass, and in drawing plans of the bays and harbours in which they should anchor. Without a constant attention to this object the captain was sensible, that his discoveries could not be rendered profitable to future navigators. That he might go out with every help, which could serve to make the result of the voyage entertaining to the generality of readers, as well as instructive to the sailor and the scholar. Mr. Webber was fixed upon, and engaged to embark in the Resolution, for the express purpose of supplying the unavoidable imperfections of written accounts, by enabling our people to preserve and to bring home, such drawings of the most memorable scenes of their transactions, as could only be executed by a professed and skilful artist.
As the last mark of the extraordinary attention which the Earl of Sandwich, Sir Hugh Palliser, and others of the board of admiralty had uniformly shewn to the preparations for the expedition, they went down to Long Reach, and paid a visit to the ships, on the 8th of June, to examine whether everything was completed conformably to their intentions and orders, and to the satisfaction of all who were to embark in the voyage. His lordship and the rest of the admiralty board, together with several noblemen and gentlemen of their acquaintance, honoured Captain Cook, on that day, with their company at dinner. Both upon their coming on board, and their going ashore, they were saluted with seventeen guns, and with three cheers.