CAPTAIN JAMES COOK - Life and Voyages of the Great Navigator.
By Walter Besant. Mr. Besant has given an interesting details of the life and voyages of the great navigator, Captain James Cook from Birth to Death.
BIRTH AND EDUCATION
(Extract) The son of a hind of Scotch descent, afterwards a stonemason, and of a Yorkshire woman of like position and parentage, James Cook had little backing from his family and his connections. Yet if we were to have chosen an ancestry which in those days would have given a boy the best chance of success, it would have been difficult to choose a better stock on both sides, on the one hand the Scotch patience, intelligence, and industry.
BEFORE THE MAST
(Extract) The imminent war caused a press, both hot and heavy, in every part of the United Kingdom. Nowhere was it so hot as in the port of London, with its thousand ships and its tens of thousands of sailors. At this moment Cook’s vessel, the Free Love of Whitby, was lying in the river.
IN THE ROYAL NAVY
(Extract) He was, to begin with, over six feet high, thin and spare; his head was small; his forehead was broad; his hair was of a dark brown, rolled back and tied behind in the fashion of the time; his nose was long and straight; his nostrils clear and finely cut.
THE GREAT UNKNOWN OCEAN
(Extract) The long smouldering theory of the southern continent revived again. Scientific men proved beyond a doubt that the right balance of the globe required a southern continent; otherwise it would of course tip over.
COOK’S THREE PREDECESSORS
(Extract) Wallis made no land for seven weeks, when they discovered a small island or two. About this time the diet of salt beef and pork began to produce their usual result in the appearance of scurvy.
COOK’S FIRST VOYAGE
(Extract) The Royal Society, discovering that there would happen a transit of Venus in the year 1769, and that this interesting astronomical event would be best observed from some place in the Pacific Ocean.
A BREATHING SPACE
(Extract) Cook was promoted to the rank of commander. He hoped, it is said, to have been made a post-captain, but this was not allowed. To us it seems a very small thing whether Cook should rank as a commander or as a post captain; the greatness of a man’s achievement is not to be measured by his promotion.
THE SECOND VOYAGE
(Extract) For six weeks the ships sailed among icebergs, getting south whenever an opening appeared. Two or three cases of scurvy were declared and cured by copious doses of fresh wort. The crews also took sauerkraut every day and had portable broth.
LAST STAY AT HOME
(Extract) Cook was now in the forty-eighth year of his age; he had been at sea for thirty-four years. This is a long time of service. No man under fifty had worked harder; no living man had achieved so much; other men had been shipwrecked and cast away.
THE THIRD VOYAGE
(Extract) The natives having stolen a small goat from us, and not returning it on Captain Cook’s demanding it back, the next morning he set out with the marines of both ships and some gentlemen, in all about 35 people.
(Extract) Cook endeavoured to stop the firing, but on account of the noise he was unable to do so. He then turned to speak to the people on shore, when someone stabbed him in the back with a palloa or dagger.
THE END OF THE VOYAGE
(Extract) On arriving off Macao all the gentlemen were ordered to hand over their journals, charts, drawings, and observations of all kinds taken during the voyage, and a diligent search was made amongst the sailors for anything they had jotted down.
THE SHIP’S COMPANY
(Extract) There are one or two of the crew who deserve mention. The old and faithful Watman, who followed Cook on the third voyage, never weary of the sea.
(Extract) His voyages would have been impossible, his discoveries could not have been made, but for that invaluable discovery of his whereby scurvy was kept off and the men enabled to remain at sea long months without a change.
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