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Life of Captain James Cook,
Born 27th October 1728 ; died 14th February 1779.
HEN we consider the career of this great navigator,
and observe how from the humblest origin he rose, with gradual but certain steps, to become the greatest discoverer of modern times, we are lost in admiration of that character which enabled him to accomplish such great results.
It is almost difficult for us who live in the
present day to realize that to Cook we owe the discovery of that great colony on the eastern coast of Australia, named by him New South Wales, and that it is not much beyond the space of a single human life since he drew the attention of the world to the great capabilities of that fifth continent, and the adjacent islands of the South Seas.
It is remarkable to think also that at that very spot where he landed to enjoy the chase of the kangaroo now rises the great city of Sydney, with its 53,000 inhabitants. The narrative of every traveller who, at the sacrifice of those comforts which are
held most dear, goes forth to make discoveries for the benefit of his fellow-men, must be interesting, but how much more must this be the case when these discoveries are, as in the case of Cook, sealed by the life of the discoverer himself.
LIFE—(BY CAPTAIN KING, OF "THE RESOLUTION”). Captain James Cook was born near Whitby, in Yorkshire, in the year 1727; and, at an early age, was put apprentice to a shopkeeper in a neighbouring village. His natural inclination not having been consulted on this occasion, he soon quitted the counter from disgust, and bound himself for nine years to the master of a vessel in the coal trade. At the breaking out of the war in 1755, he entered into the King's service on board the Eagle, at that time commanded by Captain Hamer, and afterward by Sir Hugh Palliser, who soon discovered his merit, and introduced him on the quarter-deck. In the year 1758 we find him master of “ The Northumberland,” the flag-ship of Lord Colville, who had then the command of the squadron stationed on the coast of America. It was here, as I have often heard him say, that, during a hard winter, he first read Euclid, and applied himself to the study of mathematics and astronomy, without any other assistance than what a few books and his own industry afforded him. At the same time that he thus found means to cultivate and improve his mind, and to supply the deficiencies of an early education, he was engaged in most of the busy and active scenes of the war in America. At the siege of Quebec, Sir Charles Saunders committed to his charge the execution of services of the first importance in the naval department. He piloted the boats to the attack of Montmorency; conducted the embarkation to the Heights of Abraham ; examined the passage,
and laid buoys for the security of the large ships in proceeding up the river. The courage and address with which he acquitted himself in these services, gained him the warm friendship of Sir Charles Saunders and Lord Colville, who continued to patronise him during the rest of their lives with the greatest zeal and affection. At the conclusion of the war he was appointed, through the recommendation of Lord Colville and Sir Hugh Palliser, to survey the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the coasts of Newfoundland. In this employment he continued till the year 1767, when he was fixed on by Sir Edward Hawke, to command an expedition to the South Seas; for the purpose of observing the transit of Venus, and prosecuting discoveries in that part of the globe.
From this period, as his services are too well known to require a recital here, so his reputation has proportionably advanced to a height too great to be affected by my panegyric. Indeed, he appears to have been most eminently and peculiarly qualified for this species of enterprise. The earliest habits of his life, the course of his services, and the constant application of his mind, all conspired to fit him for it, and gave him a degree of professional knowledge which can fall to the lot of very few. The constitution of his body was robust, inured to labour, and capable of undergoing the severest hardships. His stomach bore, without difficulty, the coarsest and most ungrateful food. Indeed, temperance in him was scarcely a virtue ; so great was the indifference with which he submitted to every kind of self-denial The qualities of his mind were of the same hardy, vigorous kind with those of his body. His understanding was strong and perspicacious; his judgment, in whatever related to the services he was engaged in, quick and sure. His designs