“On the 5th of April 1819, the Uranie sailed from Guam; she cast anchor at Owhyhee, the largest of the Sandwich Islands, on the 8th of August; on the 16th she touched at Mowhee; on the 26th at Woahoo; and on the 30th, finally quitted that Archipelago for Port Jackson”.
“One spot of blood has marked out Owhyhee to future nations: and the murder of Cook will ever be a terror. to those voyagers who persuade themselves that these solitary nations are formed to cringe and obey, and are unworthy of the benefits of our civilization.”
“The name of this island recals to the afflicted memory a terrible catastrophe, which deprived Europe and the world of the most enterprising genius who, since the days of Columbus, had rendered himself illustrious, by the boldest researches and the most glorious discoveries.”
“Cook perished at Owhyhee, the victim of his courage, and perhaps of his imprudence.”
“As soon as the danger became urgent, his enraged companions, consulting only their love for a chief who had so often guided them securely in the midst of perils, and more than once saved them from shipwreck, gave themselves up to all the ardour which could possibly animate them …”
“… and in the midst of the carnage, which their deadly weapons made among the intrepid natives, they saw their captain fall; at the very moment when by his gestures he exhorted them to moderate their resentment.”
“His mutilated corpse was committed to the ocean he had conquered, and no lasting monument points out to the navigator the exact spot where he perished.”
“The narrative of his brave successor has consecrated the point between Kayakakooa and Karakakooa; but the eye looks in vain for the cenotaph which should immortalize the memory of this deplorable event.”
“The navigator cannot possibly separate the name of Cook from that Of Owhyhee; as the name of Leonidas recals Thermopylae; as the field of Pharsalia reminds us of Caesar.”
“In this savage country, the tomb of Cook is sought for, like that of Achilles in classic Greece; with this difference, that the former was illustrated by recent and extraordinary events, while the latter is indebted for his glory to the verses of a poet even greater than himself.
“It is certain that the Spaniard Gaetano was the first European who, in 1542, discovered the Sandwich Islands. Cook himself discovered there certain indications of the residence of Europeans; and the terror which the natives manifested at fire-arms, proved clearly that they were not unacquainted with them.”
“Motives for the silence and discretion of Gaetano may be easily discovered.”
“All the west coast of America was infested with pirates; and only successful captures, or a long voyage round Cape Horn, could enable them to supply themselves with provisions.”
“Gaetano, after having made the discovery of this Archipelago, clearly saw, that if he gave it publicity, it would become the rendezvous of these outcasts of the sea, who already impeded but too much the commerce of his country.”
“This politic motive, and his wise foresight, induced him, in the chart which he published some time afterwards, to place the Sandwich Islands at ten degrees distance, both of latitude and longitude, from their real situation …”
“… thus, with the consent of Charles Vth, he fixed them at the 9th and 11th degrees, instead of the 19th and 21st; and the wars which Spain was obliged to carry on against France having directed her attention to other objects, no interest, it seems, was at first attached to the discovery of Gaetano.”
“Finally, that celebrated man, who by his courage and perseverance had already conferred honour on his country by so many giorious undertakings, re-discovered this Archipelago in his third voyage and gave it the name of the minister who had so generously protected him.”
“Alas! this unfortunate man was no doubt at that time proud of the success of his researches.”
All is from ‘Narrative of a Voyage Round the World’ by Jacques Arago (March 6, 1790 – November 27, 1855), a French writer, artist and explorer who joined Louis de Freycinet on his 1817 voyage around the world aboard the ship Uranie.