« PreviousContinue »
and were we, at the same time, ever so well satisfied that he had wandered, and wandered far indeed, from the happy medium which he appears, from this extract, to have been so anxious to preserve; we could not, after transcribing it, make use of a harsher expression than that we think he has not erred by running into that extreme which he supposes · should be moft avoided, without proclaiming to the world that we pay no regard to the feelings of an author, or that we are unacquainted with them.
The work conlists of 518 pages *, and is divided into seven chapters; the first contains the history of Captain Cook's life previously to his first voyage round the world. Here we learn that his father was probably a native of Northumberland, and in a very humble fituation in life: that James Cook was born at Marton, a village near Gisborough in the North Riding of Yorkshire, on the 27th of O&tober 1728; and that his early education extended no farther than reading English, writing, and a few of the first rules in arithmetic: that he was bound apprentice to a haberdasher, before he was thirteen years of age; but, that business not suiting bis inclination, he obtained bis discharge from his master, and bound himself to the owners of a thip in the coal trade, in which employment he continued till the beginning of the war in 1755. The ship to which Cook belonged was then in the Thames, and the press was so hot that he thought there was little chance of escaping it, and therefore determined to enter voluntarily. Accordingly he applied to a rendezvous, the officer of which belonged to the Eagle man of war, soon after commanded by Captain (now Sir Hugh) Palliser, who found Cook on board her before the maft. His activity, diligence, and abilities as a seaman, had already recommended him to the officers, and soon attracted the notice of his commander ; and in May 1759, he was appointed a Master in the Navy, and went out in that station, on board the Mercury, to America. He there joined the fleet which was then going against Quebec; and where, through the recommendation of Sir Hugh Palliser, he was employed in some of the most difficult, dangerous, and important services. He examined the passage, and laid buoys for the security of the large ships in proceeding up the river between the island of Orleans, and the North shore, directly in the front of the French fortified camp at Montmorency and Beauport; of course he was obliged to perform this business in the night: and, notwithstanding this, notwithstanding also that he was discovered, and pursued so closely by the
* A good print of Capt. Cook is given, by way of frontispiece. It is engraved by Heath, from an original picture, in the poffeffion of Sir Joseph Banks.
enemy, that they entered the stern, as he leaped from the bow, of his boat, he preserved his papers, and furnished Admiral Saunders with as corre&t and complete a draught of the channel and foundings, as could have been made after our people were in pofleffion of Quebec. He also piloted the boats to the attack of Montmorency, and conducted the embarkation to the Heights of Abraham. After the place was taken, he surveyed that part the river St. Laurence which is below Quebec, by order of the Admiral; and his chart of that river was, soon after, published, with directions for failing up it. Of this chart it is sufficient to fay, thai, norwithstanding the Author of it is supposed to have bad scarcely ever a pencil in his hand before that time, its accuracy is such that it has never been found neceffary to publith any other. In the latter end of this summer, he was appointed Master of Lord Colville's ship, the Northumberland, which being stationed at Halifax during the succeeding winter, Mr. Cook availed himself of the leisure it afforded him by his stay there, and Itudied the Elements of Euclid: he also made bimfelf acquainted with some parts of astronomy and other branches of science. The Northumberland being sent in 1762 to affift in the recapture of Newfoundland, and the fleet remaining there some days after the island was recovered, the genius of Cook manifefted itself again, in surveying the harbour and heights about Placentia ; and the diligence and skill which he displayed in doing it, were fuch as attracted the notice of Captain (now Admiral) Graves, who was then Governor of Newfoundland. He asked Cook many questions; and was so much pleased with his answers, that, after the peace in 1763, he being continued in the government of Newfoundland, procured an establishment for furveying the coasts of that island, and took our Navigator out with him for that purpose. In the summer of that year, he surveyed the islands of Miquelon and St. Pierre, which had been ceded to the French, before they were suffered to take poffeffion of them; and he returned to England with Capt. Graves, at the end of the reason.
In the ensuing year, his old friend, and steady patron, Sir Hugh Palliser, being appointed Governor of Newfoundland, he immediately procured Mr. Cook the appointment of Marine Surveyor on that station ; in which he continued till he was called upon by the late Sir Edward Hawke to take the command of the Endeavour, the fhip which had been chosen for the purpose of carrying out the astronomers appointed by the Royal Society to observe the Tranfit of Venus over the Sun's disc, in 1769. And on this account, he was made a Lieutenant in the Navy.
It does not appear that Cook was indebted either to friendship or interest for this promotion, but to his own merit as a seaman and an astronomer, and perhaps also to chance, that FRIEND TO
MANY! In order to make the expence as light as poffible [for the business happened at a time when ceconomy was much talked of, and when, to crown all, the President of the Royal Society was a Scot, and as frugal a man as ever came out of Scotland), the Royal Society was defirous of getting a person appointed to the command of the ship who was qualified to make the observarion, and willing to accept that command as a satisfaction for doing it. In consequence of these views, the Society had cast their eyes on Alexander Dalrymple, Esq. a person well qualified for the duty, but who had not been brought up in the Royal navy. Fortunately for Cook, there was at that time a professional man at the bead of the Admiralty; one who poffe fied so much more of l'esprit du corps, than of science and liberality of sentiment for those who were out of it, that he declared he would suffer his right hand to be cut off before he would sign a commission which intrusted one of his Majesty's ships to the care of a man, who, as he termed it, had not been regularly bred a seaman. Very fortunately also for Mr. Cook, he was (we are sorry to say it) at that time perhaps the only man in his profession whose abilities rendered him fit for the employment, and whose rank was compatible with that which the Admiralty meant to confer; so that when they began to look out for the man they wanted, it was scarce possible to miss him. Such appears to have been the concatenation of events which gave this great Navigator an opportunity of exhibiting his surprising talents.
Chap. II. relates the bistory of Captain Cook's life during his first voyage round the world, and seems wholly extracted from Hawkes worth's account of that voyage : as such, we have few remarks to make on it. We cannot, however, avoid noticing a pallage toward the end of this chapter, where, after transcribing the subftance of what Hawkesworth has said at p. 797, vol. iii. concerning the want of conveniences for eafing the labour of the flaves at the island of St. Helena, and the cruelty of the inhabitants toward them, Dr. Kippis adds, in a note, Near the conclusion of Captain Cook's second voyage, there is the following Thort note : “ In the account given of St. Helena in the narrative of my former voyage I find fo.ne mistakes. Its inhabitants are far from exercising a wanton cruelty over their flavis; and they have had wheel carriages and porters knots for many years.” [Vol. ii. p. 270.] This note I insert. with pleasure. Nevertheless, I cannot think that the Lieutenant could have given so strong a representation of things, if, at the time in which it was written, it had been wholly without foundation. It is remarkable, that, although this note is said to be near the conclusion of Captain Cook's second voyage, and notwithftanding the volume and page are referred to as above, no such note is to be found there. A note, the fame in every respect, except that Captain
Cook says two mistakes, instead of fome, occurs at p. xxii. of the introduction to that voyage; and the history of that note we are well acquainted with, having heard the Lieutenant declare, that not a word to the effect of what is related by Hawkesworth, to the disadvantage of the people of St. Helena, was contained in any journal of his. And we know that he was much hurt at the passage.
Chap. III. gives the history of Captain Cook's life from the end of his first to the commencement of his second voyage round the world, and the 4th chapter contains his life during that voyage : on neither of which have we much to observe, as the facts they contain are already before the Public. We cannot help, however, making a remark on one paffage in the fourth chapter, which stands at p. 375, vol. i. of Captain Cook's account of his second voyage, ihus: “ Oreo’s last request was for me to return; and when he saw he could not obtain that promise, he asked ihe name of my Morai (burying place). As strange a question as this was, í hesitated not a moment to tell him Stepney; the parish in which I live when in London : I afterwards found that the same question had been put to Mr. Forster, by a man on Thore; but he gave a different, and indeed more proper answer, by faying, no man, who used the sea, could say where he should be buried." Caprain Cook adds, “ It is the custom at these ines for all the great families to have burial places of their own, where their remains are interred. These go wish the eftare to the next heir."
We never read this passage in Captain Cook's narrative without being surprised at the decision which he here gives against himself: for to us it has always appeared that his was the proper answer to Oreo’s question, and that Mr. Forster's was not at all to the purpose. Oreo did not ask Captain Cook where he would be buried, but what was the name of his family buryingplace; not fuppofing but that he, like all the great men among themselves, had one, though, by accident, it mighe not fall to the owner's lot to be laid in it. Let the reader judge, then, how our vanity, as professional critics, must have been humbled, when we found Dr. Kippis transcribing the passage, and deciding, in far stronger terms, against the Captain than he had used himself, and in favour of Mr. Forfter: for he adds, Mr. Forster, to whom the fame question was proposed, replied, with greater wisdom and recollection,' &c. &c. -We must give up the trade : for, though spectacles may allist the fight, as we grow older, we know not what can repair the judgment when it be
gins to fail.
The fifth chapter contains the history of Cook's life from the conclusion of his second voyage round the world, to the commencement of his voyage to the Pacific Ocean. This chapter
affords us a confiderable share of original and interesting information, mixed with much matter which was already before the Public; and the fixth gives the history of his life, from the commencement of thar voyage, to the time of his death. Inasmuch as it relates the unfortunate end of this celebrated Navigator, this chapter is the most interesting in the whole book; but as the principal parts of it have been given to our readers in the ac. count of Mr. Samwell's narrative *, we shall hasten to the feventh and last chapter, which contains the character of Captain Cook, the effects of his voyages, testimonies of applause, commemorations of his services, and an account of what has been done for his family fince his death. From this chapter, we fhall present our Readers with Captain Cook's character, as drawn by Dr. Kippis, because we think it exceedingly, accurate; and we well knew the man.
• It cannot, I think, be denied, that genius belonged to Captain Cook, in an eminent degree. By genius I do not here understand imagination merely, or that power of culling the flowers of fancy which poetry delights in ; but an inventive mind; a mind full of resources; and which, by its own native vigour, can suggest noble objects of pursuit, and the most effectual methods of attaining them. This faculty was possessed by our Navigator in its full energy, as is evident from the uncommon fagacity and penetration which he difcovered in a vatt variety of critical and difficult situations.
To genius, Capt. Cook added application, without which no. thing very valuable or permanent can be accomplished, even by the brightest capacity. For an unremitting attention to whatever related to his profeslion, he was distinguished in early life. In every affair that was undertaken by him, his affiduity was without intersuprion, and without abatement. Wherever he came, he suffered nothing, which was fit for a seaman to know or to practise, to pass unnoticed, or to escape his diligence.
· The genius and application of Capt. Cook were followed by a large extent of knowledge; a knowledge, which, besides a confummate acquaintance with navigation, comprehended a number of other sciences. In this respect, the ardour of his mind rose above the disa advantages of a very confined education. His progress in the different branches of the mathematics, and particularly in astronomy, became so eminent, that, at length, he was able to take the lead in making the necessary observations of this kind, in the course of his voyages. He attained, likewise, to such a degree of proficiency in general learning, and the art of composition, as to be able to express himself with a manly clearness and propriety, and to become respectable as the narrator, as well as the performer, of great actions.
• Another thing, strikingly conspicuous in Capt. Cook, was the perseverance with which he pursued the noble objects to which his life was devoted. This, indeed, was a most distinguished feature in his character : in this he scarcely ever had an equal, and never fu
* See Rev. vol. Ixxv.