National Geographic : 1927 Jan
THE COLUMBUS OF THE PACIFIC Captain James Cook, Foremost British Navigator, Expanded the Great Sea to Correct Proportions and Won for Albion an Insular Empire by Peaceful Exploration and Scientific Study BY J. R. HILDEBRAND AUTHOR OF "THE GEOGRAPHY OF GAMES," "THE SOURCES OF WASHINGTON'S CHARM," "MAN'S PROGRESS IN CONQUERING THE AIR," ETC., IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE ONE can picture him coming up to Whitby-a tall, angular lad, his cheeks ruddy after his cross country tramp in the sea air from Staithes. What would he do first-in flamed with this crazy idea of going to sea, so crazy that, failing to explain it satisfactorily to his employer, he ran away-what would he do, but go to the docks and mingle with the sailors? What a town and what sights for a boy who had felt the call of the sea! Down a narrow street, evil-smelling, the landsman would say, between red-roofed, close-built houses, past ship chandlers with nets and blocks and tackle and sails, he trudged to the water front. There, riding at anchor, were the whalers and colliers and mer chantmen; this one bound for Bremen with iron and stone; that one for Danzig, or maybe even St. Petersburg, with jet or alum; a third, the one with the stern sails, just in from Penzance. The fishermen are lolling about, pipes in mouths, indolent and slouching, until midnight galvanizes them into action. Thereafter the raging storms of the Ger man Ocean and its icy breath alternately bedevil and benumb them. A HABERIASHER'S CLERK YEARNS FOR A SAILOR'S LIFE The boy, wide-eyed, open-mouthed, pack still on shoulder, was a target for this loutish crew. "Name, son?" "James Cook, sir." Then perhaps a hesitating inquiry about a berth on some ship, and counterques tions about age, experience, his people; why he wanted to sign up for such a dog's life, anyway. He was 18. His father was a day la borer. Mistress Walker, at Marton, had taught him his letters. He had helped on the farm; then he had been a clerk in a grocery and haberdashery back at Staithes. Of course they laughed-a hearty, de risive, deep-lunged roar. "He dug pota toes, and he sold ribbons and reefers and gingerbread, and he wants to ship aboard the first boat out! Well, I'll be- !" And so on. NEW-WORLD DISCOVERY CULMINATES WITH COOK Every boy yearns to see the world; but it is likely that no other boy has grown up to fulfill that yearning so completely as Captain James Cook, R. N., the cir cumnavigator. School children study the conquests of Alexander and Napoleon, but they come upon surprisingly little about the blood less, enduring victories of Magellan, Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama. and Cook. One widely discussed list of men who in fluenced the course of world history sent readers scurrying to reference books to identify Asoka, but omitted mention of Columbus. If only for the strange, unheard-of things he saw-people who played flutes with their nostrils, curious birds of amaz ing colors, canoes as big as the vessel he commanded, savages who roasted dogs in crude fireless cookers, calendars that went by the moon, an animal that a sailor at first took for the devil (it was the first kangaroo seen by a white man)-these and other queer, new spectacles make Cook's voyages fascinating as narratives.