« PreviousContinue »
farther progress northward, he should find any subjects of any European prince or state, upon any part of the coast which he might think proper to visit, he was not to disturb them, or give them any just cause of offence, but, on the contrary, to treat them with civility and friendship.” This latter sentence bore reference to the Russians; the application of the name of New Albion to the north-west coast of North America showed that the British government had no intention to resign any rights to that region, which were supposed, or pretended, to have been acquired by Drake's visit, in 1579.
On reaching New Albion, Cook was “to put into the first convenient port to obtain wood, water, and refreshments, and thence to proceed northward along the coast to the latitude of 65 degrees," where he was to begin his search for "such rivers or inlets as might appear to be of considerable extent, and pointing towards Hudson's or Baffin's Bays.” Should he find a passage of that description, he was to endeavor to sail through it, with one or both of his ships, or with smaller vessels, of which the materials were to be carried out, prepared for being speedily put together; should he, however, be satisfied that there is no such passage to the above-mentioned bays, sufficient for the purposes of navigation, he was to repair to the Russian establishments in Kamtchatka, and to explore the seas north of them, “in further search of a north-east or north-west passage, from the Pacific Ocean into the Atlantic or the North Sea.” The instruction, not to begin the examination of the American coast south of the 65th degree of latitude, was based on the proofs obtained by Hearne, that the continent extended much beyond that parallel ; before reaching which, indeed, it was expected that the coast would be found turning north-eastward, in the direction of the mouth of the Copper Mine River.
The navigator was, likewise, “with the consent of the natives, to take possession, in the name of the king of Great Britain, of convenient situations in such countries as he might discover, that had not been already discovered or visited by any other European power; and to distribute, among the inhabitants, such things as will remain as traces of his having been there : but, if he should find the countries so discovered to be uninhabited, he was to take possession of them for his sovereign, by setting up proper marks and inscriptions, as first discoverers and possessors.”
The preceding extracts, from the instructions given to Cook, will suffice to explain the objects and views of the British government,
COOK SAILS FOR THE PACIFIC.
with regard to the part of America bordering upon the North Pacific Ocean ; which objects and views were, in every respect, conformable with justice, with the existing treaties between Great Britain and other powers, and with the principles of national law then generally admitted in civilized countries. The part of America in question was known to Europeans only through the imperfect accounts of the Russian voyages, from which nothing certain was learned, except that islands and other territories, supposed to be extensive, had been found in the sea east of Kamtchatka. Of the discoveries of the Spaniards, the most recent respecting which any exact and authentic details had been communicated, were those made by Vizcaino, in 1603 : he, however, had not advanced so far north as the 45th degree of latitude, where Cook was to begin his observations; and between that parallel and the 56th, the southernmost limit of the explorations of the Russians, was a vast space of sea and land, concerning which all the accounts, previously given to the world, were generally regarded as fabulous. Before Cook's departure, information had indeed reached England, of voyages, made by Spaniards, along the north-west coasts of America, during the two preceding years,* and of colonies established by them in that quarter, which may, perhaps, have rendered the British government more solicitous to have those coasts examined by its own officers: this information was, however, too vague to have afforded any light for the direction of Cook's movements; and it has been already shown that no more satisfactory accounts of those recent Spanish voyages had been obtained in England before 1780.
With these instructions, Cook sailed from Plymouth on the 12th of July, 1776, in his old ship, the Resolution, accompanied by another called the Discovery, under Captain Charles Clerke. Both vessels were provided with every instrument and other means which science or experience could suggest, for the effectual accomplishment of the great objects in view; and that the officers and crews were also judiciously selected, the results conclusively proved. Among the lieutenants were Gore, (a native of Virginia,) King, Bligh, and Burney, who afterwards rose to eminence in their profession: of the inferior members of the body, one deserves to be named - John Ledyard, of Connecticut, who thus passed four years of his irregular and adventurous life in the humble capacity of a corporal of marines, on board the Resolution.
* See page 124 of this History.
From England, Cook passed around the Cape of Good Hope, and through the Southern Ocean, into the Pacific; and, after spending more than a year in examinations about Van Dieman's Land, New Zealand, the Friendly Islands, the Society Islands, and other places in the same division of the great sea, he bent his course towards the north, in the beginning of 1778. The first fruit of his researches in the North Pacific, was the discovery, on the 18th of January, of Atooi, (or Kauai,) one of the islands of a group near the 20th degree of latitude, to which he gave the name of Sandwich Islands, in honor of the first lord of the Admiralty. This discovery was by no means the least important of the many effected by the great navigator ; as those islands, situated nearly midway between America and Asia, possessing a delightful climate, and a fertile soil, offer invaluable facilities for the repair and refreshment of vessels traversing the vast expanse of sea which there separates the two continents, and will, no doubt, be made the basis for the exertion of a powerful influence on the destinies of North-west America.
From the Sandwich Islands, the British exploring ships took their departure for the north-west coast of America, in sight of which they arrived on the 7th of March, 1778, near the 44th degree of latitude, about two hundred miles north of Cape Mendocino. For several days afterwards, Cook was prevented from advancing northward by contrary winds, which forced him a hundred miles in the opposite course; but he was thereby enabled to see and partially examine a larger extent of coast, and to determine the longitude of that part of America, which had been left uncertain by all previous observations. The weather at length permitting, he took the desired direction, and, running rapidly northward, at some distance from the land, he was, on the 22d of the month, opposite a projecting point of the continent, a little beyond the 48th parallel, to which he gave the name of Cape Flattery, in token of the improvement in his prospects.
The coast south of Cape Flattery, to the 47th degree, was carefully examined by the English in search of the strait through which Juan de Fuca was said to have sailed to the Atlantic in 1592; and as, in the account of that voyage, the entrance of the strait into the Pacific is placed between the 47th and the 48th parallels, over which space the American coast was found to extend unbroken, Cook did not hesitate to pronounce that no such passage existed. Had he, however, also traced the coast north and east of Cape Flattery, 1778.]
COOK AT ANCHOR IN NOOTKA SOUND.
he would have discovered an arm of the ocean, seeming to penetrate the continent, through which he might have sailed many days, ere he could have been convinced that the old Greek pilot's account was not true in all its most essential particulars. This arm of the ocean was passed unobserved by the navigators, who, sailing northwestward, in front of its entrance, doubled a projection of the land, named, by them, Point Breakers, from the violence of the surf beating on it, and found immediately beyond a spacious bay, opening to the Pacific, in the latitude of 49} degrees. Into this bay they sailed, and anchored on its northern side, at the distance of ten miles from the sea, in a safe and commodious harbor, to which they gave the name of Friendly Cove.
The British vessels remained at Friendly Cove nearly all the month of April, in the course of which they were completely refitted, and supplied with wood and water, and the men were refreshed, in preparation for the arduous labors of the ensuing summer. During this period, they were surrounded by crowds of natives, who came thither from all quarters, by sea and by land, to visit and trade with the strangers, “ bringing,” says Cook,“ skins of various animals, such as wolves, foxes, bears, deer, raccoons, polecats, martins, and, in particular, of the sea otters, which are found at the islands east of Kamtchatka. Besides the skins in their native shape, they also brought garments made of the bark of a tree, or some plant like hemp; weapons, such as bows and arrows, and spears; fish-hooks, and instruments of various kinds; wooden visors of many monstrous figures; a sort of woollen stuff or blanketing; bags filled with red ochre; pieces of carved work, beads, and several other little ornaments of thin brass and iron, shaped like a horse-shoe, which they hang at their noses, and several chisels, or pieces of iron fixed to handles.”
“In trafficking with us,” continues the navigator, “ some of them would betray a knavish disposition, and carry off our goods without making any return; but, in general, it was otherwise, and we had abundant reason to commend the fairness of their conduct. However, their eagerness to possess iron and brass, and, indeed, any kind of metal, was so great, that few of them could resist the temptation to steal it, whenever an opportunity offered. They were thieves in the strictest sense of the word; for they pilfered nothing from us but what they knew could be converted to the purposes of private utility, and had a real value, according to their estimation of things.” Cook also observed among them a “strict notion of their having a right to the exclusive property of every thing that their country produces," which had been remarked, by Bodega and Maurelle, in the natives at Port Remedios, farther north. “ At first, they wanted our people to pay for the wood and water that they carried on board; and, had I been upon the spot when these demands were made, I should certainly have complied with them. Our workmen, in my absence, thought differently, for they took but little notice of such claims; and the natives, when they found that we determined to pay nothing, ceased to apply. But they made a merit of necessity, and frequently afterward took occasion to remind us that they had given us wood and water out of friendship."
With regard to the disposition of these people, the English commander was, on the whole, inclined to judge favorably. “They seem,” he says, “to be courteous, docile, and good natured, but, notwithstanding the predominant phlegm of their tempers, quick in resenting what they look upon as an injury, and, like most other passionate people, as soon forgetting it.” Experience has, however, proved that Ledyard read their characters more correctly, when he pronounced them “bold, ferocious, sly, and reserved; not easily moved to anger, but reyengeful in the extreme.”
From the number of articles of iron and brass found among these people, one of whom had, moreover, two silver spoons, of Spanish
, manufacture, hanging around his neck by way of ornament — from their manifesting no surprise at the sight of his ships, and not being startled by the reports of his guns — and from the strong inclination to trade exhibited by them, - Cook was, at first, inclined to suppose that the place had been visited by vessels of civilized nations before his arrival. He, however, became convinced, by his inquiries and observations during his stay, that this was by no means probable; for though, as he says, “some account of a Spanish voyage to this coast in 1774 or 1775 had reached England before I sailed, it was evident that iron was too common here, was in too many hands, and the use of it was too well known, for them to have had the first knowledge of it so very lately, or, indeed, at any earlier period, by an accidental supply from a ship. Doubtless, from the general use they make of this metal, it may be supposed to come from some constant source, by way of traffic, and that not of a very late date; for they are as dexterous in using their tools as the longest practice can make them. The most probable way, therefore, by which we can suppose that they get their iron, is by trading for it with other