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Cook, in the first instance, directed his course to the Cape, and from thence to New Zealand. Thence again he passed to an archipelago, several new points of which he had discovered in his former voyage, and given to the whole cluster the name of the Friendly Islands. A stay of nearly three months enabled him to become well acquainted with the people. Their language and manners were in some respects almost the same as at Otaheite. But they had more especially divers superstitious rites for secluding either persons or things from the offices of common life; and this, in their phrase, was to Taboo,—a word which, from Cook's description, may almost be said to have passed into the English tongue.
During the summer of 1777 Cook arrived at Otaheite and the Society Islands, where he had the satisfaction of restoring Omai to his friends. He also put on shore a bull and cows, a horse and mare, and other animals sent over by the King for the benefit of these islanders, and preserved with infinite care and pains throughout the voyage. On sailing from thence, he discovered a new and important archipelago, to which he gave the name of his patron and chief, Lord Sandwich. He then pursued his voyage to the north coast of America, which, at these high latitudes, he was the first to explore. He anchored for some weeks at Nootka's Sound; and in the spring of 1778 carried his discoveries beyond Behring's Straits, until within the Polar Circle he encountered, even in the midsummer months, a season far more rigorous than the winter he had passed. Still he struggled onwards through every toil and obstacle, but was unable to proceed beyond a headland, which he named Icy Cape.
At this point, where the sea, like the land, was but one frozen mass, the season also being far advanced, Cook desisted from his attempts to find a passage into the Atlantic, fully resolved, however, to renew his search in the ensuing year. Meanwhile he sailed back to the southward along the coasts of Kamtschatka, which he carefully explored. Returning to the Sandwich Islands,
Works, vol. v. p. 123. When in 1784 Cook's last Voyage appeared in print, a copy was sent to Dr. Franklin by His Majesty's orders, and was respectfully acknowledged, (vol. x. p. 125.) he cast anchor in a bay which the islanders called by the uncouth name of Warakakooa. "No where in the course "of my voyages," says Cook, "had I seen so numerous a "body of people assembled at one place. For besides "those who had come off to us in canoes, all the shore "of the bay was covered with spectators, and many "hundreds were swimming round the ships like shoals of "fish."*
With these people Captain Cook maintained during many weeks a friendly intercourse, and when he sailed from their country left them on good terms. Unhappily, soon after his departure he was compelled to return by a violent storm, which damaged one of his ships. During that second visit, the cutter of the Discovery being stolen by the natives, Cook went on shore with a party of nine or ten marines in hopes to regain it. He immediately marched into the village, where he was received with the usual marks of respect, the people prostrating themselves before him, and bringing their accustomed offerings of small hogs. He was still in parley with their Chief close to the sea-shore, when the news came that in another part of the bay, the boats' companies had engaged against some canoes and killed one of their principal men. Upon this a disorderly conflict soon arose. The marines and boats' crew appear to have fired without waiting for orders. This fire was answered by a volley of stones and a struggle hand to hand. The Captain himself then found it necessary to discharge both barrels of his gun, the second loaded with ball. His undaunted demeanour struck awe into the natives, and so long as he continued to face them it was observed that they offered him no violence. But in his anxiety to prevent further bloodshed, he turned round, calling to the boats to cease firing and pull in. Just then he was stabbed in the back, and fell with his face into the water. Of his little party, four were killed, and the survivors, some of them mortally wounded, could only save themselves by swimming to the boats.
Thus in February, 1779, died Captain James Cook; a name deserving of an honourable place in the British
* Third Voyage, vol. ii. p. 549.
annals. Self-taught, and rising from the lowest rank by his merits alone, temperate and hardy, clear-sighted and intrepid, he was ever foremost in the path of danger or of duty. His friends allow that he was prone to sudden starts of anger, yet these were tempered, and as it were disarmed, by a disposition the most kindly and humane.*
The remains of Captain Cook could not be recovered for interment without great difficulty and much more of bloodshed. That melancholy rite being performed, and a reconciliation effected with the natives, the ships again departed from these islands. Captain Clarke, on whom the principal command had now devolved, applied himself with scarcely less of energy to the same object as his predecessor. Through the whole summer he made repeated but fruitless attempts to discover through the ice and snow an outlet to the East. Coming back from this service at the close of the season, he died along the coasts of Kamtschatka. His disease was consumption, beneath which he had pined for many months. "He knew," — these are the words of one of his gallant comrades,— "he "knew that by delaying his return to a warmer climate "he was giving up the only chance that remained for "his recovery. Yet, careful and jealous to the last "degree that a regard to his own situation should never "bias his judgment to the prejudice of the public service, "he persevered in the search of a passage till it was the "opinion of every officer in both ships that it was im"practicable." f
On the death of this high-minded man, the surviving officers, proceeding by way of Canton and the Cape, brought back the ships to England. The period of their absence was upwards of four years and two months. Such were the skill and judgment of Captain Cook in the precautions he had used, that there had not appeared the slightest symptom of the scurvy in either vessel during the whole voyage.
* In the circumstances of Cook's death, as elsewhere, I follow Captain James King. (Third Voyage, vol. iii. pp. 40—46.) There are, however, several Variantes in the narrative of Mr. SamweU, surgeon of the Discovery.
f Third Voyage, vol. iii. (by Captain King), p. 281.
The efforts of the British Government at this period were not confined to the Pacific Ocean and to the Southern Hemisphere. The Northern also, and the coasts of the Atlantic, were in some degree explored. In 1773 Lord Mulgrave was sent with two ships to determine how far navigation might be practicable towards the North Pole. Lord Mulgrave showed both skill and courage in pursuing his object, but, like all his predecessors, was baffled by "the realm of frost." In 1776 and 1777 there were other expeditions into Baffin's Bay, less well conducted, by Lieutenant Pickersgill and Lieutenant Young. But, as it proved, the most important enterprise in that quarter was not undertaken by the Admiralty; it was due to a private Association. The Northern Indians, who came down to trade at Fort Prince of Wales, belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, had brought to the knowledge of the English the existence of a distant river, which, from copper abounding near it, was called the Coppermine. The Company now resolved to send some competent person to explore the course of this river, and trace it to its termination. For that purpose they pitched on Samuel Hearne, a young gentleman in their service, who had been an officer in the navy, and had already made two shorter expeditions to the inland country.
Accordingly, in December, 1770, Mr. Hearne set forth on his journey. His guides and companions were a party of the Northern Indians; some of those various tribes which, without fixed habitations, rove along the dreary deserts or the frozen lakes of that immense tract of continent. Mr. Hearne found that he had little or no control over the party with which he travelled. They did not always pursue the straight or shortest course, and often halted as inclination or necessity might prompt, to supply themselves with food by the chase. It was the first time that any European had ever advanced nearly so far in that direction. Cheerfully bearing every hardship, and encountering every toil, during more than twelve hundred miles of march, Mr. Hearne at length, in July, 1771, reached the expected place on the Coppermine River. He gazed upon it with no small surprise. The Indians at the Fort, with the usual exaggeration of uneducated tribes, had described the stream as likely to be navigable for ships; Mr. Hearne perceived, on the contrary, that, besides its shoals and falls, it could scarcely bear one of their own canoes.
At that spot the English traveller witnessed, without being able to prevent, an act of atrocious cruelty in his Indian guides. They surprised by night, and put to death, without mercy, a party of poor Esquimaux along the stream. Mr. Hearne felt more especial pity for one girl who, as it chanced, was butchered at his side, and who, in her dying convulsions, grasped his knees. He earnestly entreated her life, but the Indians only answered him with ridicule, asking if he wanted an Esquimaux wife. "Nor," adds Mr. Hearne, "did they pay the "smallest regard to the shrieks and agony of the poor "wretch, who was twining round their spears like an "eel!" * A few leagues onwards, still following the northern course of the stream, Mr. Hearne fonnd the risa and fall of tides, and gazed with eager eyes upon the open sea.
At a later period, full eighteen years afterwards, the same track of discovery still further to the westward was explored by another hardy wanderer, Alexander Mackenzie. Like Hearne, he was engaged in the service of a trading company; like Cook, he had not the advantages of early education. But his energy and perseverance were displayed even before his toilsome journey had commenced. In his own words: — "I felt myself de"ficient in the sciences of astronomy and navigation; I "did not hesitate, therefore, to undertake a winter's "voyage to England to acquire them. That object being "accomplished, I returned."
In the prosecution of his perilous enterprise, Mr. Mackenzie derived some aid not merely from the native tribes of Indians, but from the Europeans who had freely joined them. "It is not necessary for me," thus he writes, "to examine the cause, but experience proves that it "requires much less time for a civilised people to deviate :< into the manners and customs of savage life, than for "savages to rise into a state of civilisation." Such was
* Journey to the Northern Ocean by Samuel Hearne, p. 154. ed 1795