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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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On this day ...
14 November 1768

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James Cook
Joseph Banks

Madeira to Rio de Janeiro


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Madeira to Rio de Janeiro (continued)

This promise was performed; and, on the next morning, the 14th, I went on shore, and obtained leave of the Viceroy to purchase provisions and refreshments for the ship, provided I would employ one of their own people as a factor, but not otherwise. I made some objections to this, but he insisted upon it as the custom of the place. I objected also against the putting a soldier into the boat every time she went between the ship and the shore; but he told me, that this was done by the express orders of his court, with which he could in no case dispense. I then requested, that the Gentlemen whom I had on board might reside on shore during our stay, and that Mr. Banks might go up the country to gather plants; but this he absolutely refused. I judged from his extreme caution, and the severity of these restrictions, that he suspected we were come to trade; I therefore took some pains to convince him of the contrary. I told him, that we were bound to the southward, by the order of his Britannic Majesty, to observe a transit of the planet Venus over the Sun, an astronomical phænomenon of great importance to navigation. Of the transit of Venus, however, he could form no other conception, than that it was the passing of the North Star through the South Pole; for these are the very words of his interpreter, who was a Swede, and spoke English very well. I did not think it necessary to ask permission for the Gentlemen to come on shore during the day, or that, when I was on shore myself, I might be at liberty, taking for granted that nothing was intended to the contrary; but in this I was unfortunately mistaken. As soon as I took leave of his Excellency, I found an officer who had orders to attend me wherever I went: of this I desired an explanation, and was told that it was meant as a compliment; I earnestly desired to be excused from accepting such an honour, but the good Viceroy would by no means suffer it to be dispensed with.

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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 19 - 20, 2004
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