What Cook saw and what Hawkesworth wrote: Alterations and authorship in the publication of Cook’s Endeavour Journal

Published accounts of voyages of exploration have often been read as authentic, eyewitness reports of what occurred during the expedition, but rarely as literary and cultural constructions, sometimes very different from the texts they are based upon. This is particularly true with Cook, especially if we take into account the fact that, with the exception maybe of his second expedition, Cook did not take an active part in preparing his journals for publication. For each voyage, the text was handed over to someone else : John Hawkesworth for the first voyage and John Douglas for the second and third voyages, two persons who had not been part of the expedition they were writing about, who had not discovered nor explored any of those territories in the Pacific mentioned in the journals, who had not lived for weeks on board a ship or on the shores of far-off islands, nor encountered any of the indigenous populations they were describing, but who were nevertheless given the formidable task of preparing the said journals for the publication. How they managed this task is what interests us here. In this article, we will focus on Cook’s first circumnavigation (1768-1771) and on Hawkesworth’s rendition of Cook’s Endeavour journal. This will lead us to the issue of authorship, or in other words, to determine how much Cook there is in Hawkesworth.

1. Why not Cook?

Cook was an officer of the Royal Navy and his mission had been to lead the Endeavour across the South Seas, but the relation of this expedition had to be the responsibility of a more cultivated person. According to Fanny Burney, Lord Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty and de facto superviser of the publication, thought Cook’s “papers” were not well-organized, and considered it as “mere rough drafts”.[1] An experienced man of letters was needed, someone that would give this text the popular dimension it needed and make sure that it would satisfy the tastes and expectations of the 18th century English readers. Such a man was Hawkesworth.

There was also an urgent need to assert British supremacy over a region of the world that was being extensively explored by the British, but also by the French. This Anglo-French rivalry following the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) was on the verge of turning to the advantage of the French after Louis-Antoine de Bougainville’s return to France in 1769 and the publication of his Voyage autour du Monde in 1771.[2] In other words, no time was to be lost. The Admiralty therefore felt it a necessity to establish the British claim over this part of the world, first by continuing to explore it – and Cook was set almost immediately on a new mission that was to leave England a few months later – and secondly, thanks to the publication of a government-sanctioned compilation of the British recent expeditions in the South Sea.[3] In addition to the relation of Cook’s Endeavour voyage, the official Admiralty publication would include accounts of the voyages of Commodore Byron on board The Dolphin (1764-1766), and Captains Samuel Wallis on board The Dolphin (1766-1768) and Philip Carteret on board The Swallow (1766-1769).[4] This required a harmony of tone and style that would help reinforce the homogeneous character of the British entreprise in the Pacific, and which precluded the presence of different narrators. The pen could not be given to each of the captains in turn. On the contrary the project required that only one voice be heard throughout the whole work. That voice was to be John Hawkesworth’s.

2. John Hawkesworth

John Hawkesworth was already an experienced author, journalist and editor when he was commissioned by the Admiralty. A close friend to Samuel Johnson, whose style he was said to imitate,[5] and with whom he had collaborated in the Gentleman’s Magazine in the 1740s, he was also the driving force behind the Adventurer, another influential magazine in the 1750s in which he developed some of the literary principles that he put into practice with Cook’s text. Prior to his publication of Cook’s voyage, his most famous work had been his edition of Jonathan Swift’s complete works, together with a biography of this author which was highly praised by Dr Johnson who called Hawkesworth “a man capable of dignifying his narration with so much elegance of language and force of sentiment”.[6] In 1768, he had also published a translation of Fénelon’s Télémaque. In other words, it was an established writer with a certain reputation among London’s literary and cultural circles that Lord Sandwich entrusted with Cook’s journal in September 1771. According to John Cawte Beaglehole, this made Hawkesworth “the envy of his fellow-practitioners”.[7]

Almost two years later, in June 1773, An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of his present Majesty for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere was published in three volumes. The first volume was dedicated to the voyages of Byron, Wallis and Carteret, and volumes two and three contained the relation of Cook’s Endeavour voyage.[8] The publication was an immediate success, which reveals the unprecedented enthusiasm with which the British public was awaiting this work. The 2000 copies of the first edition sold out quickly. A second and third edition soon appeared, followed by translations into German and French and later Italian. Hawkesworth, who already enjoyed some degree of recognition as a writer, suddenly became very famous. A pinnacle was reached at the end of June 1773 when he was invited by Lord Sandwich on board his yacht – The Augusta –, taken to Plymouth and introduced to King George III.

But fame was short-lived and harsh criticism quickly fell on Hawkesworth during Summer 1773, in what Hawkesworth’s biographer, John Lawrence Abott, called “the Great Voyage Controversy of 1773”.[9] Most of this criticism appeared in private correspondance and journals, or as anonymous letters published in the newspapers. Some questioned the literary value of the work, while others were concerned by the scandalous indecency of certain scenes, which seemed to indicate that the author was complacent with the dissolute morals of the Tahitians for example. But the hardest critiques involved Hawkesworth’s position on the issue of Providence, after his failing to attribute the Endeavour’s escape on the Australian coast to the workings of divine Providence. Some of the criticism also concerned authorship and the fact that Hawkesworth was writing in the name of sea captains without having ever been at sea himself. Georg Forster, who sailed on board the Resolution in 1772, analysed the reception of Hawkesworth’s work in the following way : “The history of captain Cook’s Voyage Round the World, was eagerly read by all European nations, but incurred universal censure, I had almost said contempt”.[10] Cook, who discovered Hawkesworth’s text in March 1775 in Cape Town, found certain passages “mortifying”, particularly those concerning the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, which, he was convinced, “in many particulars [had] been missrepresented”.[11]

The public outcry that greeted his text, the severity and the intensity of the reproaches he received, are said to have sent him to an early grave. He died in November 1773, only six months after the publication of what remains to this day, his most famous work.

3. Hawkesworth’s alterations

What is the nature and the extent of Hawkesworth’s work on Cook’s manuscript? The most immediate and visible aspect is to be found in the organisation of the text itself. The daily entries are respected but the dates are written in the margin (and no longer at the beginning of each entry). Ship time, used by Cook in his journal, and by which a day runs from noon to noon, is abandoned in favour of civil time, which was easier for a non-initiated reader to follow. The text is divided into 44 chapters, which are organized in three books, printed in two volumes. Each book more or less corresponds to one of the three great steps of the voyage: Tahiti, New Zealand and New Holland. Much textual space is devoted to remarkable occurrences in these places, to the detriment of sea entries which are less developed. The general impression is that of a text which is focused on life on shore and on everything that occurs there : meetings, skirmishes, descriptions of places and people, reflections on customs or rituals, etc. in addition to reducing the amount of space devoted to sea entries, Hawkesworth removed much of what he calls “nautical events”,[12] that is to say the technical data concerning navigation : winds, tides, ship’s position, speed, distance run, etc. More precisely, Hawkesworth transformed Cook’s telegraphic, almost unreadable text, with all of its abbreviations and figures, into more readable sentences placed at the beginning of the entry. Less technical than Cook’s, the nautical information Hawkesworth provides mainly focuses on indications of latitude and longitude – two elements he could not possibly get rid of – and is presented more clearly, probably, here again, so as not to discourage readers. See for instance, Cook’s entries for October 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 1768:

SATURDAY 1st. Winds N, NNE. Course S 12°12’ W. Distce in miles 114. Latd in 14°6. Longd in West from Greenwich 22°10’. Bearings at Noon Island of Bonavista SE Pt N 9° Wdt 115 Miles. A Steady gale and somewhat hazey. Variation by very good Azimuths this evening 10°37’ and by the same in the morning 10°0’ West. At Noon found the Ship ahead of the Logg 5 Miles.

SUNDAY 2nd. NBE, NNW. Course S 1°. Distce in miles 92. Latd in 12°34’. Longd in West from Greenwich 22°12’. Bearings at Noon Do N 5°45’ E Dt 69 leagues. First part a steady breeze and pleasant weather, remainder Light breezes and clowdy. At Noon found the Ship by observation ahead of the Logg 7 Ms.

MONDAY 3rd. N, Calm SSW1/2W. Course S 3°30’ E. Distce in miles 20. Latd in S 3°304 E. Distce in miles 20. Latd in 12°14’. Longtd in West from Greenwich 22°10’. bearings at Noon Do N 5° E Dt 76 leagues. Clowdy weather with light wind and calms. Variation by this evening Amplitude 8°49’ West. AM hoisted out a boat to try if there was any current, found one seting to SE at the rate of ¾ of a mile per hour.[13]

In Hawkesworth’s text, one single entry covers the whole period:

On the first of October, in latitude 14°6’N. And longitude 22°10’ W. we found the variation by a very good azimuth, to be 10°37’ W. and the next morning it appeared to be 10. This day we found the ship five miles a-head of the log, and the next day seven. On the third, hoisted out the boat to discover whether there was a current, and found one to the eastward, at the rate of three quarters of a mile an hour.[14]

The second aspect of Hawkesworth’s modifications is stylistic and grammatical. In a letter to William Strahan – the printer who published Cook’s three Voyages – John Douglas wrote that he had been “finishing grammatically Capt. Cook’s Voyage”,[15] an expression which could also apply to what Hawkesworth did, which is to transform Cook’s “rough drafts” – to use Lord Sandwich’s words – into an acceptable text : he creates paragraphs, works on the syntax and on the grammatical tenses, introduces coherent punctuation and capital letters at the beginning of the sentences. Spelling is harmonized, particularly with names. For instance, in Cook’s journal, the name of the Queen of Tahiti (Purea) is spelled at least 4 different ways: “Purea”, “Obeira”, “Obaria” and “Obareia”. It becomes “Oberea” with Hawkesworth.

Overall, Hawkesworth gives Cook’s text a stylistic and lexical richness which it does not possess in the first place. The impression is that of a polished text, totally in harmony with the literary principles Hawkesworth had elaborated a few years earlier in the Adventurer, especially in the fourth issue of this magazine, published on November 18, 1752, and entitled “Of the different Kinds of Narratives and why they are universally read”. In it, Hawkesworth, following Horace’s famous formula utile dulci states that literature’s primary purpose is to instruct and entertain, and that this requires developing the emotional impact of the subject talked about, which must “engage the passions”. According to Hawkesworth, this is not the case with travel literature in which “no passion is strongly excited except wonder”.[16] Outside the wonder created by the novelty of the place or of the people encountered, no emotion is present in travel literature, and this is precisely what John Hawkesworth wants to change. His intention is to develop the emotional potential of the text by focusing on human relationships, rather than on the importance of the places or of the populations discovered. Many passages of Cook’s text are therefore re-written so as to create this emotion that was found deficient in the original journal. See for instance the reunion on May 2nd 1769 of two Tahitian chiefs (Tuburai Tumaide and Tutaha), one of whom had been held prisoner by the British. Here is Cook’s entry:

The scene between Toobooratomita and Tootaha when the former came into the Fort and found the latter incustody, was realy moveing, they wept over each other for some time, as for Tootaha he was so far prepossess’d with the thought that he was to be kill’d that he could not be made sensible to the contrary till he was carried out of the Fort to the people, many of whom express’d their joy by embracing him […][17]

 Cook’s description is short, factual and neutral, the emotion shown by the two men is present but not overwhelming. Hawkesworth tells a somewhat different story:

About eight o’clock, Mr Banks with Tubourai Tamaide got back to the fort; when to his great surprise, he found Tootaha in custody, and many of the natives in the utmost terror and distress, crowding about the gate. He went hastily in, some of the Indians were suffered to follow him, and the scene was extremely affecting. Tubourai Tamaide, pressing forward, ran up to Tootaha, and catching him in his arms, they both burst into tears, and wept over each other, without being able to speak : the other Indians were also in tears for their Chief, both he and they being strongly possessed with the notion that he was to be put to death.[18]

Hawkesworth’s rendition is more developed and presents details that are absent from Cook’s description, such as the villagers’ terror and tears, or Tubourai Tamaide’s running towards Tootaha. The scene has an emphasis on sentiments and emotions, that is largely absent from the original description by Cook.

Hawkesworth is also careful not to offend the readers’ sensitivity by transgressing the rules of decency. Therefore, certain aspects of Cook’s text are deliberately put aside or transformed. When Hawkesworth describes the tomb of a Tahitian killed by the British, for instance, he choose not to include Cook’s remark about the smell (“It certainly was no agreeable place for it stunk intollerably”)[19], nor does he use Joseph Banks’s words about the state of the corpse : “I lifted up the cloth and saw part of the body already dropping to pieces with putrefaction about him and indeed within all parts of his flesh were abundance of maggots of a species of Beetle very common here”[20]. As can be easily conceived, such remarks did not correspond to Hawkesworth’s conception of elegant literature, and his rendition of the scene is much more centered on the description of the tomb itself, on its size and on its decoration:

I found the shed under which his body lay, close by the house in which he resided when he was alive, some others being not more than ten yards distant; it was 15 feet long, and 11 broad, and of a proportionate height: one end was wholly open, and the other end, and the two sides, were partly enclosed with a kind of wicker work. The bier on which the corps was deposited, was a frame of wood like that in which the sea beds, called cotts, are placed, with a matted bottom, and supported by four posts, at the height of about five feet from the ground. The body was covered with a matt, and then with white cloth; by the side of it lay a wooden mace, one of their weapons of war, and near the head of it, which lay next to the close end of the shed, lay two cocoa nut-shells, such as are sometimes used to carry water in; at the other end a bunch of green leaves, with some dried twigs, all tied together, were stuck in the ground, by which lay a stone about as big as a cocoa-nut: near these lay one of the young plantain trees, which are used for emblems of peace, and close by it a stone ax.[21]

Elsewhere, when Cook’s descriptions cannot be totally deleted, they are given a somewhat different orientation. Consider for instance, the textual treatment of what the Captain called “the odd scene” in his journal, when on Sunday, May 14 1769, after the religious office, the British attended a very peculiar ceremony in which “a young fellow above 6 feet high lay with a little girl about 10 or 12 years of age publickly before several of our people and a number of the Natives”.[22] In Hawkesworth’s text, the man is smaller (”near six feet high”) and the young girl is one year older. The act itself dons a certain religious dimension (“Vespers of a different kind”) and is given a certain classical nobility, the two protagonists being said to perform “the rites of Venus”.[23]

Beyond the lexical and syntax alterations, beyond the emphasis on the emotional dimension of the scenes described, the whole journal is the object of a general elaboration, the purpose of which, in fine, is to turn Cook’s original text into literature. As Neil Rennie indicated, John Hawkesworth, in his approach of Cook’s journal, is “diligently characterizing and dramatizing, supplying comedy, pathos and continual grandiloquence”.[24] In certain places, classical references are introduced : parallels between Maori women and Diana for instance,[25] or between Tahitian women and Venus,[26] between musicians in the Society Islands and the bards of Ancient Greece,[27] or again between wrestlers Cook observes and the same scene described by Fénelon in his Telemaque, the English translation of which, we should remember, had been prepared by Hawkesworth himself.[28]

In addition, Hawkesworth’s project to turn travel accounts into what he considered real literature implied a work on the status of the narrator-traveller. In the Adventurer, he had complained about the lack of literary qualities of travelogues, which were mainly due to the narrator whose character, according to Hawkesworth, “is not rendered sufficiently important ; he is rarely discovered to have any excellencies but daring curiosity ; he is never the object of admiration, and seldom of esteem”.[29] His purpose is therefore to correct this status and to give the narrator-traveller all the importance he deserves. That’s how Cook, in Hawkesworth’s work, becomes a cultivated man of letters, able to reflect upon a certain number of very serious subjects such as religion, death or the nature of fire ; a man able to compare the funeral rites in Tahiti with those described by Greek and Roman authors such as Aelian and Apollonius Rhodius, a man able to analyse the rules of drama as witnessed in Raiat’ea, or a man able to remark that in Tahiti, as in China, “The religious language is […] different from that which is used in common”.[30] But Hawkesworth’s narrator is also an accomplished botanist, able to describe in a very precise way the fauna and the flora of the Pacific, giving the Latin names of the different species collected.[31]

Throughout his narrative, Hawkesworth also offers the idealised portrait of a firm, self-confident and magnanimous commander, good and fair with the people that surround him, Europeans and Natives alike. A man whose slightest action is justifled, whose every decision is above criticism, and whose noble character therefore sets him aside from, and above the other members of the crew, particularly the lower decks and the petty officers, whom he does not hesitate to punish when deserved and whose attitude he does not hesitate to condemn when justified, especially when they do not behave as they should with the natives. On April 15th, 1769, for instance, when a Tahitian native is shot dead by one of the Endeavour marines for snatching the musquet of a sentinel, Hawkesworth’s narrator has strong words against the marine’s natural brutality who “observing that the thief did not fall, pursued him and shot him dead”,[32] as well as against the petty officer’s little consideration and humanity, for giving the marine the order to fire. In his journal, Cook relates the incident of course but does not show any particular emotion and does not condemn the action, thinking it a fair punishment for the theft that had just been committed. With Hawkesworth, the denunciation of the soldiers’ behaviour is used to place the captain, by contrast, in the favourable light of a magnanimous man, above the savagery shown by the lower decks, and who deeply regrets the incident that has occurred.

Yet, criticizing the Marines’ ill-behaviour does not amount to questioning the British presence in the Pacific. The whole episode and its potential consequences for Anglo-Tahitian relationships are alleviated in Hawkesworth’s rendition. Whereas Joseph Banks writes for example that “whether any others were killd or hurt no one could tell”,[33] Hawkesworth clearly declares that there was only one victim, without any textual authority. Cook did not mention the number of victims. In the same way, using Cook’s allusion about the fact that the Tahitians were maybe preparing an attack of the British fort, Hawkesworth transforms the marine’s reaction into a preventive measure, so as to avoid further troubles.[34] The end of the incident is characterized by Cook’s deep regrets in Hawkesworth’s text, whereas the Captain, in his journal, simply mentions the explanations given to the natives who “left seemingly satisfied and we struck our Tent and went on board”.[35] Every indication of Cook’s own concern about the British presence in the Pacific disappears from Hawkesworth’s text. To Hawkesworth, violence was an inevitable by-product of a civilizing mission that he considered worthy, and a necessary evil for the progress of commerce and civilisation. This is what he clearly indicates in his General Introduction when he writes that “Upon the whole, therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude, that the increase of knowledge and commerce are ultimately common benefits ; and that the loss of life which happens in the attempts, is among the partial evils which terminate in general good”.[36] Following these principles, he builds up the figure of a noble officer, who embodies the colonial spirit that takes a people to the other side of the world and who is, as W.H. Pearson indicated, “serene in his confidence of military and technological superiority over the ‘Indians’ he meets with, […] understanding, imperturbable but unyielding, magnanimous in victory, and [who] only seeks trade and friendship, even if he has to establish it by force”.[37] That’s the very image of Cook we get on October 10th 1769 at Poverty Bay in New Zealand, when he orders his men to fire at Maoris who were in a canoe close to the Endeavour, but who had refused to come on board :

I am conscious that the feeling of every reader of humanity will censure me for having fired upon these unhappy people, and it is impossible that, upon a calm review, I should approve it myself. They certainly did not deserve death for not chusing to confide in my promises; or not consenting to come on board my boat, even if they had apprehended no danger; but the nature of my service required me to obtain a knowlege of their country, which I could no otherwise effect than by forcing my way into it in a hostile manner, or gaining admission through the confidence and good-will of the people. I had already tried the power of presents without effect; and I was now prompted, by my desire to avoid further hostilities, to get some of them on board, as the only method left of convincing them that we intended them no harm, and had it in our power to contribute to their gratification and convenience. Thus far my intentions certainly were not criminal; and though in the contest, which I had not the least reason to expect, our victory might have been complete without so great an expence of life; yet in such situations, when the command to fire has been given, no man can restrain its excess, or prescribe its effect.[38]

In his journal, Cook expressed regrets for this incident which killed two or three natives and wounded one. He was fully aware that everybody in England would censure his conduct, and tried to justify it, albeit clumsily, using the security argument and writing that, the situation being what it was, he could not stand still and suffer either himself or his men to be killed.[39] But never did he mention “the nature of his service” that forced him to act whatever the price, even at the cost of a few human lives. With Hawkesworth, the magnanimous commander becomes the agent of a colonial and commercial British expansion in the Pacific, the prototype of a hero at the origin of a myth which, as John Lawrence Abbott writes, “was to motivate the nation for more than a century – the myth that an island kingdom through sea power and administrative genius could impose a Pax Britannica on a major portion of the world”.[40]

4. Authorship

In his General Introduction, Hawkesworth gives precisions as to the narrative voice he has chosen to adopt. To him, and to the people with whom the issue was debated, “a narrative in the first person would by bringing the Adventurer and the Reader nearer together ; without the intervention of a stranger, more strongly excite an interest, and consequently afford more entertainment […]”.[41] We have seen that it was also envisioned as a way to ensure a certain harmony to the different voyages that were to be published together, a continuity from Byron to Cook, the image of the coherence of the British entreprise in the Pacific. But it was also a way for Hawkesworth to insert some personal reflections, asides and comments which were absent from the manuscripts he was using. To him, the simple retranscription of the captains’ journals written in their own names, even grammatically corrected, had no real interest, for “[he] could only exhibit a naked narrative, without any opinions or sentiments of [his] own, however fair the occasion”.[42] The choice of the first-person narrator thus allowed Hawkesworth to enrich and enliven the text by including his own remarks and observations, which, contrary to what he writes in his introduction, were neither scarce nor short, but quite numerous and developed.[43] His comment on “the odd scene” are an illuminating example of the extent of his remarks. When he described this scene, Cook had simply commented that “ it appear’d to be done more from Custom than Lewdness”.[44] With Hawkesworth, the episode is the occasion for a long aside :

This incident is not mentioned as an object of idle curiosity, but as it deserves consideration in determining a question which has long been debated in philosophy ; whether the shame attending certain actions, which are allowed on all sides to be in themselves innocent, is implanted in nature, or superinduced by custom ? If it has its origin in custom, it will, perhaps, be found difficult to trace that custom, however general, to its source ; if in instinct, it will be equally difficult to discover from what cause it is subdued or at least over-ruled among these people, in whose manners not the least trace of it is to be found.[45]

Those considerations are not at all present in Cook’s text, but fully correspond to the project Hawkesworth developed in his General Introduction. What Cook’s journal offers are numerous opportunities to step in and expand, comment and reflect upon a number of subjects ranging from the Catholic religion and death to the drainage system in Spain, or from man’s capacity to adapt to circumstances and develop specific skills, to whether it is moral to fire at Natives when a theft is committed. This particularly sensitive issue triggered the following remark by Cook:

I would not suffer them to be fired upon, for this would have been puting it in the power of the Centinals to have fired upon them upon the most slightest occasions as I had before experienced, and I have a great objection to fireing with powder only amongest people who know not the difference ; for by this they would learn to dispise fire arms and think their own arms superior and if ever such an Opinion prevail’d they would certainly attack you the event of which might prove as unfavourable to you as them.[46]

Cook’s arguments are repeated by Hawkesworth, but a new humanistic dimension is added to the text:

[…] neither did I think that the thefts which these people committed against us were, in them crimes worthy of death : that thieves are hanged in England, I thought no reason why they should be shot in Otaheite ; because, with respect to the natives, it would have been an execution by a law ex post facto : they had no such law among themselves, and it did not appear to me that we had any right to make such a law for them.[47]

In Hawkesworth’s rendition, the impact of the remark has considerably changed. But when it comes to the moral edification of the readers, no detail is left aside.

As mentioned earlier, Cook’s journal was not the only source used by Hawkesworth. Joseph Banks’s journal also provided great assistance. In his specific introduction to Cook’s voyage, Hawkesworth warmly thanks Banks for lending his journal – “an offer of which [he] gladly and thankfully accepted”[48] – and acknowledges how much he was indebted to him “for so considerable a part of this narrative”.[49] In comparison, Cook’s journal doesn’t seem to present any real interest outside the technical and navigational information it provides :

The papers of Captain Cook contained a very particular account of all the nautical incidents of the voyage, and a very minute description of the figures and extent of the countries he had visited, with the bearings of the headlands and bays that diversify the coasts, the situation of the harbours in which shipping mayobtain refreshments, with the depth of water wherever there were foundings ; the latitudes, longitudes, variations of the needle, and such other particulars as lay in this department [ …][50]

Cook is presented as “an excellent officer and skillfull navigator”, but the use of his journal only, would have produced nothing more than the naked narrative he complains of. “But in the papers which were communicated to me by Mr Banks, Hawkesworth writes, I found a great variety of incidents which had not come under the notice of Captain Cook” : descriptions of the places visited and of the people encountered, detailed accounts of the productions, of the manners, the customs, the beliefs, the policy, or the languages spoken in the Pacific islands. “For these particulars, Hawkesworth concludes, the public is indebted to Mr Banks”.[51]

The study of Hawkesworth’s Voyage reveals that Cook’s journal was used less as a source than as the frame of a narrative, a frame filled in using Joseph Banks’s descriptions and anecdotes, and by Hawkesworth’s own speculative remarks. Hawkesworth is less focused on respecting Cook’s journal than on following Banks’s text, which provides him with numerous opportunities to comment and expand, a considerable advantage for, as he writes, “few philosophers have firnished materials for accounts of voyages undertaken to discover new countries”.[52] Hawkesworth’s text thus appears as a composite narrative told by a triple narrator, what Philip Edwards called a “three-headed monster”,[53] part Cook, part Banks and part Hawkesworth, without it being always easy to tell who is talking at this or that specific moment. In his description of Hawkesworth’s work on Cook’s manuscript, James Boswell used a very appropriate formula. In a conversation with the Captain, in April 1775, Boswell remarked: “‘Why, Sir’, said I, ‘Hawkesworth has used your narration as a London Tavern-Keeper does wine. He has brewed it’”.[54]

The portrait of Purea, “a personage we had heard so much spoken of in Europe”[55] according to Joseph Banks, offers an interesting example of Hawkesworth’s work.[56] The Queen of Tahiti visited the Endeavour on April 28th, 1769, a few days after the ship arrived in Tahiti. In his journal, Cook has very few words to describe her. He simply noted that “This woman is about 40 years of Age and like most of the other Women very Masculine”.[57] Banks gave a more elaborater description. To him she “appear’d to be about 40, tall and very lusty, her skin white and her eyes full of meaning, she might have been hansome when young but now few or no traces of it were left”.[58] Here is Hawkesworth’s treatment of the Dolphin Queen:

She seemed to be about forty years of age, and was not only tall, but of large make ; her skin was white, and there was an uncommon intelligence and sensibility in her eyes : she appeared to have been handsome when she was young, but at this time little more than memorials of her beauty were left.[59]

The progress from Cook’s simple, down-to-earth description delivered in a spare style, to Hawkesworth’s detailed and elaborate delicacy, closer to the elegance of a novel of manners than to the rough journal of a sea-captain, is particularly revealing of the way he uses the Captain’s journal.[60]

The comparison of Hawkesworth’s text to the sources he uses makes it clear that his rendition of Cook’s voyage is a far cry from a simple re-arrangement, even enriched and revised, of Cook’s Endeavour journal. It is a complex work in its own right which resists any univocal interpretation, and John Hawkesworth, as his biographer wrote, “no mere compiler of one of the most famous works of the age, but its author”.[61] He shaped the material he had been entrusted into a work of elegant literature according to principles he had elaborated some twenty years before in the Adventurer, and which he repeated and developed in his General Introduction. His work on Cook’s manuscript is not simply that of an editor – that is obviously a misnomer – but that of a man of letters with a triple mission : aesthetic (giving travel writing a properly literary status), patriotic (asserting Britain’s position in the Pacific) and personal (asserting his own position as an important character of London’s intellectual and cultural elite). More than preparing Cook’s journal for the publication, Hawkesworth uses it as a springboard for his own prose to take its flight. If we are to believe Fanny Burney, whose diary provides us with detailed information about the negotiations that led to Hawkesworth being commissioned by the Admiralty, Lord Sandwich was looking for “a proper person to write the Voyage”.[62] In this word alone, “write”, we have in a nutshell the whole problematic surrounding Hawkesworth’s work on Cook’s manuscript : he re-writes it, and enlivens it with Banks’s details and his own observations.


Whatever our opinion on Hawkesworth’s rendition of Cook’s journal,[63] we should bear in mind that this work strongly contributed to establishing the Cook myth and that it still remains, almost 250 years after its publication, a classic of English travel literature, although most readers today would probably prefer Cook’s simple words to Hawkesworth’s elaborate narration. Generations of readers since 1773 have read Hawkesworth’s prose as Cook’s, never doubting that the words they had in front of their eyes were often not those written by the Captain during the expedition, but those elaborated by a man that had never seen the scenes he was describing. And, as John Cawte Beaglehole nicely put it, for more than 200 years, until Cook’s journals were made available to the public, “so far as the first voyage was concerned, Hawkesworth was Cook.”[64]

Notes de pied de page

  1. ^ Annie Raine Ellis, ed., The Early Diary of Frances Burney, 1768-1778, vol. 1, London, 1889, pp. 133-134. A few years later, John Douglas, who prepared Cook's Resolution journals for the publication, wrote in the same way that the text "if printed as the Captain put it into my Hands, would have been thought too incorrect, & have disgusted the reader" (Helen Wallis, "Publication of Cook's Journals. Some New Sources and Assessments", Pacific Studies, Volume 1, Number 2, Spring 1978, 163-194, here p. 173.).
  2. ^ Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, Voyage autour du monde par la frégate du Roi La Boudeuse et la flûte l'Etoile en 1766, 1767, 1768 & 1769, Paris, Saillant & Nyon, 1771.
  3. ^ In September 1771, only two months after the return of the Endeavour to England, an anonymous account (later attributed to James Mario Matra, a member of the expedition) had already been given to the public. Anonymous, Journal of a Voyage round the World in His Majesty's Ship Endeavour, in the Years 1768, 1769, 1770 and 1771; undertaken in the Pursuit of Natural Knowledge at the Desire of the Royal Society. Containing all the Various Occurrences of the Voyage, with Descriptions of several new Discovered Countries in the Southern Hemisphere ... to which is added a Concise Vocabulary of the Language of Otahitee, London, T. Backett and P.A. de Hondt, 1771.
  4. ^ John Byron (1723-1786); Samuel Wallis (1728-1795); Philip Carteret (1733-1796).
  5. ^ "Hawkesworth's imitations of Johnson are sometimes so happy, that it is extremely difficult to distinguish them, with certainty, from the compositions of his great archetype" (James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791), London, Everyman's Library, 1992, p. 154).
  6. ^ Samuel Johnson, "Swift", in Lives of the English Poets quoted by John Lawrence Abbott, John Hawkesworth Eighteenth-Century Man of Letters, Madison, The university of Wisconsin Press, 1982, p. 47.
  7. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Life of Captain James Cook, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1974, p. 290.
  8. ^ An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of his present Majesty for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, And successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret and Captain Cook, in the Dolphin, the Swallow and the Endeavour : drawn up from the Journals which were kept by the several Commanders, And from the Papers of Joseph Banks, Esq. By John Hawkesworth, LL.D., in three Volumes, London, W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1773.
  9. ^ John Lawrence Abbott, op. cit., p. 160. For a discussion of the reception of Hawkesworth's Account and the criticism that ensued, see J. L. Abbott, op. cit., pp. 154-168.
  10. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, ed., The Journals of Captain Cook. Volume I, The Voyage of the Endeavour 1768-1771, Cambridge, Hakluyt Society, 1955, p. ccxliii.
  11. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, ed., The Voyage of the Resolution and Adventure 1772-1775, op. cit., p. 661. Philip Carteret, Captain of the Swallow, was also outraged by Hawkesworth's text and decided to write his own account of the 1766 expedition, "not only in Justice to my own character [...] but for the good of the Service, & the Security of future navigators that they may have all the observations I made, many of which have been omitted" (Philip Carteret, Note on the Publication of his Voyage, 1774 ?, Wellington, New Zealand, Alexander Turnbull Library, MS-Papers-00797.
  12. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, op. cit., Volume I, General Introduction, p. vi.
  13. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Voyage of the Endeavour 1768-1771, op. cit., p. 11.
  14. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, op. cit., volume II, p. 13.
  15. ^ Quoted in Helen, Wallis, art. cit., p. 187.
  16. ^ The Adventurer, volume the first, London, Printed for J. Parson, N°21 Paternoster Row, 1793, p. 15.  
  17. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Journal of the Endeavour 1768-1771, op. cit., p. 88.
  18. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, op. cit., volume II, p. 114.
  19. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Journal of the Endeavour 1768-1771, op. cit., p. 83.
  20. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, ed., The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks, Volume I, Sydney, Angus & Robertson Ltd, 1962, p. 261.
  21. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, op. cit., volume II, pp. 96-97.
  22. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Journal of the Endeavour 1768-1771, op. cit., pp. 93-94.
  23. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, op. cit., volume II, pp. 127-128.
  24. ^ Neil Rennie, Far-Fetched Facts. The Literature of Travel and the Idea of the South Seas, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995, p. 96.
  25. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, op. cit., volume II, p 454.
  26. ^ Ibid., p. 128. Louis-Antoine de Bougainville was the first to make this association. In his Voyage autour du Monde, he mentions a young Tahitian woman on board La Boudeuse who "[...] laissa tomber négligemment un pagne qui la couvrait et parut aux yeux de tous, telle que Vénus se fit voir au berger phrygien. Elle en avait la forme céleste". In his description of the island, he also compares Tahitian men to Greek gods : "[...] pour peindre Hercule et Mars, on ne trouverait nulle part d'aussi beaux modèles" (Louis Antoine De Bougainville, Voyage autour du Monde par la frégate du Roi La Boudeuse et la flûte l'Étoile (1771), Paris, Éditions Gallimard, Collection Folio Classiques, 1982, p. 227 and p. 252).
  27. ^ Ibid., p. 147.
  28. ^ Ibid., p. 120.
  29. ^ The Adventurer, volume the first, op. cit., pp. 15-16.
  30. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, op. cit., volume II, p 239.
  31. ^ This aspect of Hawkesworth's narrator shows the importance of the influence of Joseph Banks, whose journal Hawkesworth was using and which had also inspired some of Cook's own descriptions.
  32. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, op. cit., volume II, p 91.
  33. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks, op. cit., p. 257.
  34. ^ See John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, op. cit. Volume II, p. 92 and John Cawte Beaglehole, The Journal of the Endeavour 1768-1771, op. cit., p 80.
  35. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Journal of the Endeavour 1768-1771, op. cit., p. 80.
  36. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, Volume I, op. cit., p. xix.
  37. ^ William H. Pearson, "Hawkesworth's Alterations", The Journal of Pacific Studies, volume 7, 1972, pp. 45-72, here p. 66.
  38. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, Volume II, op. cit., p. 290.
  39. ^ See John Cawte Beaglehole, The Journal of the Endeavour 1768-1771, op. cit., p. 171.
  40. ^ John Lawrence Abbott, op. cit., p. 185.
  41. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, Volume I, op. cit., p. iv.
  42. ^ Ibid., pp. iv-v.
  43. ^ "[...] they are not indeed numerous, and when they occur, are always cursory and short ; for nothing would have been more absurd than to interupt an interesting narrative, or new descriptions, by hypotheses or dissertations" (Ibid., p. v.)
  44. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Journal of the Endeavour 1768-1771, op. cit., p. 94.
  45. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, Volume II, op. cit., p. 128.
  46. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Journal of the Endeavour 1768-1771, op. cit., p. 101.
  47. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, Volume II, op. cit., p. 149.
  48. ^ Ibid., p. xiii.
  49. ^ Ibid., p. xiv.
  50. ^ Ibid. p. xiii.
  51. ^ Ibid., p. xiv.
  52. ^ Ibid., p. xiii.
  53. ^ Philip, Edwards, The Story of the Voyage, Sea Narratives in Eighteenth-Century England, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994, p. 89.
  54. ^ Quoted in John Cawte Beaglehole, The Life of Captain James Cook, op. cit., p. 458.
  55. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks, op. cit., p. 266.
  56. ^ We borrow this example from Hawkesworth's biographer. See John Lawrence Abbott, op. cit., p. 183.
  57. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Journal of the Endeavour 1768-1771, op. cit., p. 85.
  58. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks, op. cit., p. 266.
  59. ^ John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, Volume II, op. cit., p. 105.
  60. ^ Sydney Parkinson, one of the artists of the expedition, described her as "a fat, bouncing, good-looking dame". Stanfield Parkinson, ed, A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, in his Majesty's Ship the Endeavour, Faithfully transcribed from the Papers of the late Sydney Parkinson, draughtman to Joseph Banks, Esq., on his late Expedition with Dr. Solander, round the World, embellished with Views and Designs, delineated by the Author, and engraved by Capital Artists, London, printed for S. Parkinson, 1773, p. 47.
  61. ^ John Lawrence Abbott, op. cit., p. 185.
  62. ^ Annie Raine Ellis, ed., The Early Diary of Frances Burney, op. cit., p. 134.
  63. ^ Criticism is still vivid, as attested by Philip Edwards' s remark: "What effrontery to deny Cook his own reflections while being so free in imputing aliens ones to him!". Philip Edwards, op. cit., p. 91.
  64. ^ John Cawte Beaglehole, The Journal of the Endeavour 1768-1771, op. cit., p. ccliii.

Référence électronique

Jean-Stéphane MASSIANI, « What Cook saw and what Hawkesworth wrote: Alterations and authorship in the publication of Cook’s Endeavour Journal », Astrolabe - ISSN 2102-538X [En ligne], Captain Cook after 250 years: Re-exploring The Voyages of James Cook (Avril 2020), mis en ligne le 24/04/2020, URL : https://crlv.org/articles/what-cook-saw-and-what-hawkesworth-wrote-alterations-and-authorship-in-the-publication-of