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Lettre de James Cook au capitaine John Walker (1775)

 
Titre : Letter from James Cook to captain John Walker
Auteur : James Cook
Date : 1775
Sujet : Lettre autographe signée de James Cook, datée du 14 septembre 1775 et rendant compte de son second voyage au capitaine John Walker. Cook y rapporte son voyage à bord du Resolution et de l’Adventure, ses escales en Nouvelle Zélande, la découverte de la Nouvelle Calédonie et de plusieurs îles, la description des natifs et de l’histoire naturelle de plusieurs îles. Il pense avoir fait le tour de l’Océan Pacifique et que le retour de Omai chez lui occasionnera un prochainement un troisième voyage (voir transcription).
Langue : Anglais
Type : Dessin
Droits : Domaine public
Identifiant : SAFE / DLMSQ 141 –
Album ID : 1004865
Identifiant numérique :  a6120001 à a6120007
Source : Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Lien : http://acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?itemID=971421

 
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Transcription originale de Sir William Dixson : 

Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Captain James Cook
Autograph Letter
Giving a descriptive account of his second voyage to the South Seas.
London. 14th September 1775.

Dear Sir,

I now sit down to fullfill the promise I made you in my last, which was to give you some account of my late voyage and which I am more at liberty to do, as it will be published as soon as the drawings which are to accompany it can be got engraved.

I left the Cape of Good Hope on the 22nd. Novr. 1772 and proceeded to the South till I got into the Latitude of 55° where I met with a vast field of ice and much fogy weather and large isles or floating mountains of ice without number. After some trouble and not a little danger, I got to the South of this field of ice and after beating about some time for land in a sea strewed with ice, I on the 17th. of Jany. 73 cross’d the Antarctick circle and the same evening I found it unsafe, or rather impossible to stand farther to the South for ice; we were at this time in the Latitude of 67.15 S. Longitude 40°. east of Greenwich. Seeing no signs of meeting with land in these high Latitudes I stood away to the Northward to look for that which, as I was informed at the Cape of Good Hope, had lately been discover’d by the French, in about the Latitude of 48½° and longitude 57° or 60°. This land (if any) I did not find, probably owing to hard westerly gales I met with which might carry me something to the East of its situation. While I was looking for this land the Adventure was separated from me, this did not hinder me from proceeding again to the South to the Latitude of 61° and 62° which was as far as the ice and prudence would allow me. I kept between this latitude and 58° without seeing any signs of land, till I thought proper to steer for N. Zealand where I anchored in Dusky Bay on the 26th of March. This Bay lies on the S.W. point of N. Zealand and abounds with fish and Wild Fowl, on which we refreshed for near seven weeks and then sailed to Queen Charlotte Sound where I found the Adventure and who had been here six weeks.

I left this Sound on the 7th. of June and proceeded with the two ships to the East between the latitude of 42° and 47 till we got into the longitude of 136° west. Dispairing of finding land in the high latitudes I bore up for Otaheite, as it was now necessary forus to get into port as the Adventures crew was very sickly. In our run to Otaheite we discovered in latitude 17° some low isles and on the 17th. of Aug. we anchored at Otaheite, but not before we were within an ace of loosing the Resolution. At this Isle we remained 16 days, got plenty of fruit, but very little fresh pork, the people seemed not to have it to spare. I next visited Huaheine and Uliatia where the good people of these isles gave us every thing the isles produced with a liberal and full hand and we left them with our decks crowded with pigs and rigging loaded with fruit. I next visited Amsterdam, in Latitude 21° an Island discovered by the Dutch in 1642; it is one of those happy isles on which nature has been lavishing of her favours and its inhabitants are a friendly benevolent race and ready supply the wants of the navigator. From this isle I steered for New Zealand and after having been some days in sight of our Port, the Adventure was again separated from me, after which I saw her no more. After waiting something more than 3 weeks for her in Queen Charlottes Sound, I put to sea and stood to the South where I met with nothing but ice and excessive cold bad weather; here I spent near four months, beating about between the latitude of 48° and 68° and once I got as high as 71°10 and farther it was not possible to go for ice, which lay as firm as land, here we saw ice mountains, whose lofty summits were lost in the clouds. I was now fully satisfied that there was no southern Continent, I neverthe-less resolved to spend some time longer in these seas and with this resolution I stood away to the North and on the 14th. of March 1774 I found and anchor’d at Easter Island, the only land I had seen from leaving New Zealand; the people of this isle received us kindly, we got from them some sweet Potatoes, and fruit, which was of great service to us, as we were in great want of refreshments, particularly myself who had but just recovered from a dangerous illness, the most of my people were however pretty healthy. This Island lies in the latitude of 27°6’S Longitude of 109°52’W. is about 12 leagues in circuit, rather barren and without any wood or good fresh water or even a safe road consequently my stay was short, it do not contain many inhabitants and we saw but few women in proportion to the men, they are a slender people and go almost naked. At this isle are stone statues of a vast size, errected along the seacoast, we saw some 27 feet high of a proportional thickness and all of one piece, we judged them to be places dedicated to the Dead, their shape was a rude resemblance of a man and crowned with a great stone in the shape of a drum, but vastly larger. I next visited the Marquases, which lie in 10° South Latde. and inhabited by a friendly and handsome race of people. Here we got plenty of fruit and some pork and fresh water. From the marquases I steered for Otaheite, where I arrived the latter end of Apl. I now found this isle in the most flourishing state immaginable and was received by the Inhabitants with a Hospitality altogether unknown in Europe. I remained at this and the Society isles till the 14th. of June, when I proceeded to the West, touched at Amsterdam and discovered some small isles of little note. After this I fell in with the land discovered by Quiros and afterwards visited, by Bougainville, but explored by neither; I found it to consist of a group of isles extending from 14 to 20° south latitude. The inhabitants of these isles were far less civilized than those more to the East, and composed of three different nations, one of which was a small race with apish faces and used poisoned arrows: they were all warlike and obliged us to be continually upon our guard and to work with our arms in hand, they seemed to be very numerous and go almost naked, they are of a very dark colour, inclining to black and some of them have woolly hair. The isles are fertile and yield fruit and roots; we saw no animals but hogs and fowls; they have not so much as a name for goats, dogs or cats consequently can have no knowledge of them. Some of them gave us to understand in such a manner as admited of little doubt that they eat human flesh. After leaving these Isles I hauled away to the S.W. and on the 4th. of September, discover’d a large island, which I called Nova Caledonia, it extends from 19 to 22½ South Latitude. This country is inhabited by a friendly race, our landing in their country gave them not the least apparent uneasiness and they suffered us to go where ever we pleased. They are a stout well made people of a dark colour with long frizled hair and wear little cloathing. The country is rather barren and very mountainous and rocky, consequently unfit for cultivation. All that can be cultivated is done and planted with Yams and other roots and some fruit. This country produceth fine timber for masts and such like purposes which is what I have not found in any other tropical isle, the coast is beset with shoals and breakers which, in many places, extend along way out to sea, so that we ran not a little risk in exploring it, and at last was obliged to leave it unfinished. From Caledonia I steered for New Zealand and in the latitude of 29° discovered a small uninhabited isle, covered with fine timber.

Oct. 19th. we anchored the third time in Queen Charlottes Sound in New Zealand, where we remained three weeks. The inhabitants of this place gave us some account of some strangers having been killed by them, but we did not under-stand they were part of our consort crew till we arrived at the Cape of Good Hope. That the New Zealanders are Cannibals will no longer be disputed, not only from the melancholy fate of the Adventures people and Captain Merion and his fellow sufferers, but from what I and my whole crew have seen with our eyes. Nevertheless I think them a good sort of people, at least I have always found good treatment amongst them.

After leaving New Zealand I steered directly for Cape Horn, I put in at Terra del Fuego and Staten Land where we met with little worthy of note. On my passage from the last mentioned land to the Cape of Good Hope, I fell in with an isle of about 70 leagues in circuit and situated between the latitude of 54 and 55, which was wholy covered with snow and ice; again in the latitude of 59 I met with more land, the Southern extend of I did not find, so that I was not able to determine whether it was compos ed of isles or was a part of a large land, some parts of it shewed a surface composed of lofty mountains whose summits were lost in the clouds and every where covered with snow down to the very wash of the sea, notwithstanding this was the very height of summer, or rather toward the Autumn when the weather is warmest in the Southern Seas; we also met with a great deal of ice in the sea, both isles and drift ice. After leaving this land I sought in vain for Cape Circumcision and on the 22nd. of March arrived at the Cape of Good Hope, in great want of both stores and provisions, fresh provisions especially which we had not tasted for a long time, except it was sea fowl, seals etc. I left the Cape on the 27th. of Apl. touched at St. Helena, Ascension and Fayal and arrived at Spithead the 30th. of July, having only lost four men from the time of my leaving England, two was drowned, one killed by a fall and one died of the dropsy and a complication of other disorders without the least mixture of the survy. This Sir, is an imperfect outline of my voyage, which I hope you will excuse, as the multiplicity of business I have now on my hands will not admit of my being more particular or accurate. Any thing further you may want to know, you will always find me ready to communicate it. I did expect and was in hopes that I had put an end to all voyages of this kind to the Pacific Ocean, as we are now sure that no Southern Continent exists there, unless so near the Pole that the Coast cannot be navigated for ice and therefore not worth the discovery; but the sending home Omiah will occasion another voyage which I expect will soon be undertaken.

Mrs. Cook joins me in best respects to you and all your family, and believe me to be with great esteem,

Yours most sincerely
James Cook.

P.S. My compliments to Mr. Ellerton if he is yet living.

Categories:   1770 - 1779, Anglais, Manuscrits & tapuscrits, Océanie / Pacifique, State Library New South Wales

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