Evening Post. SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, 1932. GREATEST OF NAVIGATORS
The unveiling by the GovernorGeneral on Wednesday of the statue of Captain Cook which Christchurch owes to the public spirit and the munificence of one of its citizens, Mr. M. F. Barnett, provided His Excellency with one of those occasions on which his patriotism, his historic sense, and his proud but balanced Imperialism can always be relied I upon to make the most.- Captain Cook supplied a congenial theme for one who by reason of his detachment can appreciate more clearly than the native-born observer the danger that the nationhood of which the Dominions talk so much may degenerate into an ignorant, conceited, and irresponsible parochialism. He can see that, in order to avert the danger, no chance should be missed of broadening the national outlook by keeping it constantly associated with the great things in our own past, and in that of the race to which we are proud to belong. If patriotism', is to find its fullest expression in this Dominion, said the Governor-General, if pride in its not unworthy past is to stimulate, inspire, and materially advance its potential greatness in the future, a sense of nationhood must be developed among all classes of the community. If this sense of .nationhood among New Zealandera : —a vital condition of the effectiveness of Empire partnership—is to be pro-, moted, a knowledge of their country's history should form a fundamental part of the intellectual equipment of all classes, and be not merely inculcated in the days of early youth but also cherished proudly and patriotically throughout life. ■ In his, development of this theme His Excellency mentioned three of the great dates of our history and succinctly indicated their significance. In the early history of New Zealand there are three outstanding landmarks—its effective discovery by James Cook, then a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, in 1769; its Christianisation, commencing with the arrival of Samuel Marsden in 1814; and its inclusion in the British Empire under the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. But for the first the second would have been improbable and, the third impossible. And of all the names, European and Mapri, which will be honoured through the centuries from their association with these,crucial events, Lord Bledisloe ..spoke Without fear of contradiction "when he ..said that none would command "more worldwide, veneration or more general assent" than, that of James Cook. Unsurpassed as a navigator, the variety of Cook's greatness is nevertheless just as astonishing as his supreme greatness in his special sphere. He wa3 eulogised on Wednesday by. the Mayor of Christchurch, Mr. D. G. Sullivan, as ', * .. .: not only -.a"-great jiavigator, a. .great1' organiser, "And a distinguished scientist, but a.man. of great humanitarian in-1 Btinets, and one who always had the love, and veneration of the crews under his control. And speaking as one who is a Labour AJ.P. as well as a Mayor, Mr. Sullivan bespoke the special interest of the working people of this country in "the son of; a Yorkshire farm labourer" who had "sen so high. The first Cook's career as summarised in the "Concise Dictionary of National Biography" certainly contain no suggestion of a high destiny:— Cook, James (1728-177 D), circumnavigator; a labourer's son; seaman in the Baltic trade; common seaman in the Navy, 1755; master, 1759. /It the. age of thirty he was apparently still? a common seaman in the Navy, and he had only twenty more1 years .to" live. There was not much time to spare if he was to get anywhere, yet half of it had gone before the Endeavour sailed from Plymouth on the 30th July, 1768. Lord Bledisloe's rapid summary of the uses to which this Yorkshire labourer's son put the last.twenty years of his hitherto inglorious life is as follows:— He himself commenced life as a haberdasher's apprentice, but,'owing to exceptional.natural talents, great industry, and abounding enterprise, bocame famous in the varied role of mathematician, astronomer, naval commander, physician, surveyor, and the first and foromost among all British maritime discoverers. . .•. During his three great expeditions he-proved himself to bo a most able and intrepid Bailor, a self-trained-scientist of no mean repute, an ardent and pertinacious discoverer, and a marine surveyor whoso 'conscientious work has evoked the praise and gratitude of thousands of mariners who have since sailed the high seas. Ho shattered alike the fables of the Great Antarctic Continent and of the North-west Passage, and he gave to his country a title to her extensive and valuable territories in the Southern Hemisphere. ' The only point in this vivid summary which offers any room for cavil is the limitation implied in the description of Cook as "the first and foremost among all British maritime discoverers." Might not the word "British" be reasonably omitted? Columbus and Magellan are two obvious competitors. The discoveries of Columbus certainly had more farreaching effects. According to a distinguished American patriot the cross on Calvary marked the greatest event in the world's history, and next only to that in importance is the landing of Columbus at San Salvador. British patriotism has never risen to such heights in its eulogy of Cook, and we trust that it never
will, but results are surely not the best test of navigation. Even that test must surely put him second to Columbus alone, and it is beyond question, that Cook discovered not only more land but, as Admiral Wharton says, "incomparably more land" than any other explorer. A misjudgment of his own work which is strange in so sagacious and accurate a man is given by Captain Cook in what are believed to be the last words he ever wrote. Writing at Hawaii, which he had discovered on his return from a vain attempt to find a North-east Passage, he says:— To this disappointment lye owed our having it in our power to revisit the Sandwich Islands, and to enrich our voyage with a discovery which, though the last, seemed in many respects to bo the most important that had hitherto been made by Europeans throughout the extent of the Pacific Ocean. It is possible that the. responsibility for these words belongs, not to Cook but to one of the editors from whom he suffered so much. On the assumption that they are authentic Sir Walter Besant makes the interesting comment: — It is singular hot only that lua confidence should prove so mistaken, but that he should also so greatly exaggerate the importance of this new discovery. What is Hawaii—what are all the Sandwich Islands together—compared with New Zealand and Australia? What the experts think of the relative importance of Cook's three voyages we do not know, but to the layman the wonderful record of, the second may well seem the most impressive. On this voyage, of which the first object was, to search for the Southern Continent, he thrice entered the Antarctic Circle, only stopping when the ice became impenetrable, and on the third occasion circumnavigated the globe in or near the circle, completing the proof Jhat the Southern Continent was a myth. He also discovered a large number of islands in the temperate and tropical zones, including Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, the Sandwich Islands, and Palmerston Island. And after a voyage which had lasted three years and sixteen :days, extended from 52deg. north latitude to 71deg. south, and covered more than 70,000 miles, he brought his ships back to Spithead with the loss of only four men, of whom three had died by accident and the fourth by consumption which would perhaps have killed him sooner if he had stayed at home. It was this immunity from scurvy and fever that constitutes in the opinion of some good authorities the greatest of Cook's achievements. On that second voyage he had abolished not merely the Southern Continent but %vhat was in those day? by far the deadliest peril of the seas. Some thirty years previously Anson, by the time he reached Juan Fernandes, had lost all but 200 of his 961 men from scurvy, and only eight of the 200 were fit for duty. In three years Cook had not lost a single man from that cause, and in presenting him with the Royal Society's Copley Medal for the achievement Sir John Pringle, the president, asked whether "in the most healthful climate and in the best condition of life" ,Cook's general record could be beaten. In our own time Admiral Wharton who, like Cook himself, was a man of science as well as a seaman,- described the suppression of scurvy as Cook's "greatest triumph." Of Cook as a navigator Wharton writes as follows:— M. da la Perouse, one of the foremost of the great French navigators, told Captain Phillip, the founder of the Colony of New South Wales, that Cook had left him nothing but to admire." This was all but literally true; wherever Cook went he finished his work, according tothe requirements of navigation of his time. He never sighted a land but he determined' its dimensions, its shape, its position, and left true guides for his successors. His charts are still for some parts unsuporseded, and his recorded observations still save us from hasty and incorrect alteratious desired by modern navigators. "Well may England be proud that this greatest of navigators was their countryman.
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Evening Post. SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, 1932. GREATEST OF NAVIGATORS, Evening Post, Volume CXIV, Issue 38, 13 August 1932
Evening Post. SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, 1932. GREATEST OF NAVIGATORS Evening Post, Volume CXIV, Issue 38, 13 August 1932
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