CHAPTER VI. Narrative of Captain Cook's Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, to the Period of his Death.
Every preparation for the voyage being completed, Captain Cook received an order to proceed to Plymouth, and to take the Discovery under his command. Having, accordingly, given the proper directions to Captain Clerke, he sailed from the Nore to the Downs, on the 25th of June. On the 30th of the same month, he anchored in Plymouth Sound, where the Discovery was already arrived. It was the 8th day of July before our commander received his instructions for the voyage; and at the same time, he was ordered to proceed with the Resolution, to the Cape of Good Hope. Captain Clerke, who was detained in London, by some unavoidable circumstances, was to follow as soon as he should join his ship.
In the evening of the 12th, Captain Cook stood out of Plymouth Sound, and pursued his course down the Channel. It was very early that he began his judicious operations for preserving the health of his crew: for, on the 17th, the ship was smoked between the decks with gunpowder, and the spare sails were well aired. On the 30th, the moon being totally eclipsed, the captain observed it with a night telescope. He had not, on this occasion, an opportunity of making many observations. The reason was, that the moon was hidden behind the clouds the greater part of the time; and this was particularly the case, when the beginning and the end of total darkness, and the end of the eclipse, happened.
It being found, that there was not hay and corn sufficient for the subsistence of the stock of animals on board, till the arrival of our people at the Cape of Good Hope, Captain Cook determined to touch at Teneriffe. This island he thought better adapted to the purposes of procuring these articles, and other refreshments, than Madeira. On the 1st of August, he anchored in the road of Santa Cruz, and immediately dispatched an officer to the governor, who, with the utmost politeness, granted everything which our commander requested.
Were a judgment to be formed from the appearance of the country in the neighbourhood of Santa Cruz, it might be concluded that Teneriffe is so barren a spot, as to be insufficient for the maintenance even of its own inhabitants. It was proved, however, by the ample supplies which our navigators received, that the islanders had enough to spare for visitors. The necessary articles of refreshment were procured at such moderate prices, as to confirm Captain Cook in his opinion, that Teneriffe is a more eligible place than Madeira, for ships to touch at, which are bound on long voyages. Indeed, the wine of the latter island is far superior to that of the former; but then it can only be purchased by a sum of money proportionably larger.
During the short stay which the captain made at Teneriffe, he continued with great assiduity his astronomical observations; and Mr. Anderson has not a little contributed to the farther knowledge of the country, by his remarks on its general state, its natural appearances, its productions, and its inhabitants. He learned, from a sensible and well informed gentleman, who resided in the island, that a shrub is common there, which agrees exactly with the description given by Tournefort and Linnaeus, of the tea shrub, as growing in China and Japan. It is reckoned a weed, and every year is rooted out in large quantities from the vineyards. The Spaniards, however, sometimes use it as tea, and ascribe to it all the qualities of that which is imported from China. They give it also the name of tea, and say that it was found in the country when the islands were first discovered. Another botanical curiosity is called the impregnated lemon; which is a perfect and distinct lemon enclosed within another, and differing from the outer one only in being a little more globular.
The air and climate of Teneriffe are, in general, remarkably healthful, and particularly adapted to give relief in pulmonary complaints. This the gentleman before mentioned endeavoured to account for, from its being always in a person's power to procure a different temperature of the air, by residing at different heights in the island. He expressed, therefore, his surprise that the physicians of England should never have thought of sending their consumptive patients to Teneriffe, instead of Nice or Lisbon.
Although it is not understood that there is any great similarity between the manners of the English and those of the Spaniards, it was observable, that the difference between them was very little perceived by Omai. He only said, that the Spaniards did not appear to be so friendly as the English; and that, in their persons, they approached to some resemblance of his own countrymen.
On the 4th, Captain Cook sailed from Teneriffe, and proceeded on his voyage. Such was his attention, both to the discipline and the health of his company, that twice in the space of five days, he exercised them at great guns and small arms, and cleared and smoked the ship below decks. On the evening of the 10th, when the Resolution was at a small distance from the island of Bonavista, she ran so close upon a number of sunken rocks, that she did but just weather the breakers. The situation of our voyagers, for a few minutes, was very alarming. In this situation the captain, with the intrepid coolness which distinguished his character, did not choose to sound, as that, without any possibility of lessening, might have heightened the danger.