A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 794 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13.
should be delivered up as a courtesy, though he could not be demanded as a right; but that if I found he was an English subject, I would keep him at all events.  Upon these terms we parted, and soon after I received a letter from Mr Hicks, containing indubitable proof that the seaman in question was a subject of his Britannic majesty.  This letter I immediately carried to the shebander, with a request that it might be shewn to the governor, and that his excellency might at the same time be told I would not upon any terms part with the man.  This had the desired effect, and I heard no more of the affair.[127]

[Footnote 127:  Whatever may be thought of the advantage of such policy, it is certain that Cook acted here in the full spirit of a British officer and minister.  Every reader must be aware how materially the same determination on the part of our government has tended to embroil us with the Americans, betwixt whom and us, the question of fact, as to country, is often much more difficult of solution than it can well be where any other people oppose our claims.—­E.]

In the evening I went on board, accompanied by Mr Banks, and the rest of the gentlemen who had constantly resided on shore, and who, though better, were not yet perfectly recovered.

At six in the morning of the 26th, we weighed and set sail, with a light breeze at S.W.  The Elgin Indiaman saluted us with three cheers and thirteen guns, and the garrison with fourteen; both which, with the help of our swivels, we returned, and soon after the sea-breeze set in at N. by W. which obliged us to anchor just without the ships in the road.

At this time the number of sick on board amounted to forty, and the rest of the ship’s company were in a very feeble condition.  Every individual had been sick except the sail-maker, an old man between seventy and eighty years of age; and it is very remarkable, that this old man, during our stay at this place, was constantly drunk every day:[128] We had buried seven, the surgeon, three seamen, Mr Green’s servant, Tupia, and Tayeto, his boy.  All but Tupia fell a sacrifice to the unwholesome, stagnant, putrid air of the country, and he who, from his birth, had been used to subsist chiefly upon vegetable food, particularly ripe fruit, soon contracted all the disorders that are incident to a sea life, and would probably have sunk under them before we could have completed our voyage, if we had not been obliged to go to Batavia to refit.

[Footnote 128:  Cases similar to this are of constant occurrence, and are familiarly known to medical men who have a principle to account for it.  The continual operation of exciting causes so as to produce a certain degree of action of the system, will prevent, as well as remedy, diseases of debility.  The plague has been kept off by a like treatment on the same principle, and so has the ague, an intermitting fever so formidable in some countries.  Giving over or abating of this stimulating treatment, however, if other circumstances remain the same, will, of course, render the person as obnoxious as ever to attack, or rather more so.  It is evident that at times this cure is as bad as the disease; for scarcely any state of health is more deplorably fatal than constant drunkenness.—­E.]

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