British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

I
BRITISH PENETRATION INTO THE INDIAN AND PACIFIC OCEANSt

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1
SECRET INSTRUCTIONS FOR CAPTAIN JAMES COOK'S THIRD VOYAGE, 6 July 17761

WHEREAS the Earl of Sandwich has signified to us His Majesty's pleasure that an attempt should be made to find out a Northern Passage by sea from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, and whereas we have in pursuance thereof caused His Majesty's sloops Resolution and Discovery to be fitted in all respects proper to proceed upon a voyage for the purpose above mentioned, and from the experience we have had of your abilities and good conduct in your late voyages, have thought fit to entrust you with the conduct of the present intended voyage, and with that view appointed you to command the first mentioned sloop, and directed Capt. Clerke, who commands the other, to follow your orders for his further proceedings; you are hereby required and directed to proceed with the said two sloops directly to the Cape of Good Hope, unless you shall judge it necessary to stop at Madeira, the Cape de Verd, or Canary Islands, to take in wine for the use of their companies, in which case you are at liberty to do so, taking care to remain there no longer than may be necessary for that purpose.

On your arrival at the Cape of Good Hope you are to refresh the sloops' companies, and to cause the sloops to be supplied with as much provisions and water as they can conveniently stow.

You are if possible to leave the Cape of Good Hope by the end of October, or the beginning of November next, and proceed to the southward in search of some islands said to have been lately seen by the French in the latitude of 48° 00′ south and about the meridian of Mauritius.2 In case you find those islands you are to examine them

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1
Adm. 2/1332, pp. 284-96. Printed in The Naval Miscellany, vol. iii, pp. 357-63. Navy Records Society, vol. lxiii, Lond. 1928. Fames Cook, who had served in the Quebec campaign and had surveyed and charted St. Lawrence and Newfoundland waters, had been chosen to lead the scientific expedition of 1769--71. By that voyage and a second in 1772-5 he had already demolished the belief in Terra Australia Incognita. Now in this third voyage he was being sent to discover, if possible, a North West passage.
2

In 1771 Yves-Joseph de Kerguelen-Trémarec had discovered a large island to the south of Mauritius which has since borne his name. 'The land,' he reported, 'which I have called South France is so situated as to command the route to India, the Moluccas, China and the South Seas . . .' (quoted by J. N. L. Baker, A Historyof Geographical Discovery and Exploration

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