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National Maritime Museum Manuscripts : Journal of Captain Cook's voyage round the world in HMS Resolution

Cook, James

National Maritime Museum Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The journal composed by Captain James Cook during his second voyage of discovery on board HMS Resolution. Having extensively charted the eastern coast of New Holland (Australia) on what is known as Captain Cook's First Voyage, the general purpose of this voyage was to explore the South Pacific to determine the location and existence of what was called 'Terra Australis Incognita' - that uncharted southern land mass, desired by many, including the first Hydrographer of the British Admiralty Alexander Dalrymple, to have existed.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Though the voyage did spend time charting certain parts within the Antartic circle, including circumnavigating and naming the 'Isle of Georgia', the voyage is perhaps most notable for the remarkable number of other land masses that were encountered and inscribed in the various journals and logbooks produced from the voyage (See also <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00058'> (RGO 14/58)</a> and <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00059'> (RGO 14/59)</a>). These places included the Marquesas, Tahiti, New Caledonia, and the New Hebrides. But the journal is also remarkable for the representations of peoples encountered on the various islands, which could sometimes be incredibly glowing in their praise of their customs and way of life, though sometimes relay the incredible violence that often went along with Cook's encounters. For example, on 4 August 1774, we see Cook <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(328);return false;'> describe the scene (JOD/20: 320-321)</a> when trying to land at the New Hebrides: 'I was loath to fire on the multitude and resolved to make the chief alone fall a victim to his own treachery...Happy for these poor people, not half our musquets would go off, otherwise many more must have fallen.'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The voyage and the journal are both notable for Cook's positive remarks about the Larcum Kendall made timekeeper K1 sent aboard to be tried, at the orders of the Board of Longitude. While Cook was certainly positive about the potentials of finding longitude by timekeeper, the voyage in no way guaranteed the status of timekeepers as the only potential method. Aside from K1 simply being too expensive to be a practical solution, the voyage experienced other problems with K1. As demonstrated in the logbook and book of observations in <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00058'> (RGO 14/58)</a> and <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00059'> (RGO 14/59)</a>, the astronomer William Wales who had been sent on the Resolution to perform a range of astronomical observations and trials, had enormous trouble both securing the various timekeepers while transporting them to and from the Resolution to his makeshift observatory on land, as well simply getting them to work consistently throughout the voyage.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The journal includes a large number of maps and charts of places encountered. These include a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(33);return false;'> map (JOD/20: 25)</a> of Port Praya, Cape Verde; a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(71);return false;'> chart (JOD/20: 63)</a> of the Friendly Isles; a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(94);return false;'> sketch (JOD/20: 86)</a> of Van Diemen's Land; <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(142);return false;'> maps (JOD/20:134)</a> of Harvey's Isle, Palmerston Isle, Turtle Isle and Savage Isle; a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(146);return false;'> sketch (JOD/20: 138)</a> of Dusky Bay, New Zealand, with an inset showing Pickersgill Harbour; a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(159);return false;'> plan and section (JOD/20: 151)</a> of an Amsterdam Canoe, seen in the South Seas; a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(200);return false;'> map (JOD/20: 192-203)</a> of Easter Island with the names of the statues mentioned in an account by Richard Pickersgill; a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(214);return false;'> sketch (JOD/20: 206)</a> of the Marquesas Islands with an inset showing Resolution Bay or Port Madre de Dios; a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(258);return false;'> draft plan and section (JOD/20: 250)</a> of the Brittania Otehite War Canoe; two <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(309);return false;'> charts (JOD/20: 301)</a><a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(402);return false;'> of discoveries (JOD/20: 394)</a> made in the South Pacific Ocean by Captain Cook showing New Caledonia and the New Hebrides; <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(388);return false;'> maps (JOD/20: 380)</a> of Port Sandwich in Mallicollo, the harbour of Balade in New Caledonia and Port Resolution in the Isle of Tanna; a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(425);return false;'> map (JOD/20: 417)</a> of Norfolk Isle; a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(443);return false;'> chart (JOD/20: 435)</a> of the Southern Hemisphere showing the tracks of some of the most distinguished navigators; <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(444);return false;'> two (JOD/20: 436)</a><a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(452);return false;'> maps (JOD/20: 444)</a> of Christmas Sound on the southwest coast of Terra del Fuego; a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(470);return false;'> chart (JOD/20: 462)</a> of the southern extremity of America; and a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(485);return false;'> chart (JOD/20: 477)</a> of Sandwich Land and the Isle of Georgia.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Eóin Phillips<br />History and Philosophy of Science<br />University of Cambridge<br /></p>

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