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Letter readings from the Voyages of Discovery

Rhys Muldoon, Andrew Sayers and Michelle Hetherington, 20 October 2010

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: Good evening, everybody. I would like to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people on whose land we are meeting tonight and recognise their vibrant and ongoing culture. I am Michelle Hetherington and I would like to welcome you also to this Studio Gallery, the National Museum of Australia’s newest gallery. I am the curator of Exploration and Endeavour: The Royal Society of London and the South Seas. I would like to introduce our two performers tonight: Rhys Muldoon [applause] and Andrew Sayers, the Director of the National Museum of Australia. [applause] They will be reading a selection of letters and documents from the archives of the Royal Society in London that are on display here in this exhibition.

Exploration and Endeavour celebrates the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Society of London in 1660, the year in which Charles II was restored as Britain’s monarch. The Royal Society was keen to promote useful knowledge and asked its fellows to draw up sets of directions for gathering information on various subjects, which might, if followed correctly, answer some of the pressing questions of the age.

Lawrence Rooke was asked to draw up directions for sea-men bound for far voyages, which he supplied in 1661. For an island nation dependent upon the Navy for defence, any discoveries that could improve navigation would be very useful indeed. The King, who styled himself Founder, Patron and Fellow of the Royal Society, had appointed his brother James, Duke of York, as Lord High Admiral. Under James’s guidance, the Admiralty adopted Rooke’s directions. As a result, over 250,000 captains’ journals are now held in British collections, providing an extraordinary record of global weather conditions since the 1660s.

RHYS MULDOON: Directions for Sea-men bound for far voyages:

  1. To observe the declination of the compass, or its variation from the meridian of the place, frequently marking with all the latitude and longitude of the place …

  2. To carry dipping needles with you, and observe the inclination of the needle in like manner.

  3. To remark carefully the ebbings and flowings of the sea in as many places, as they can …

  4. To make plots and draughts of the prospect of considerable coasts, promontories, islands and ports, marking the bearings and distances as near as they can.

  5. To sound and mark the depth of coasts and ports, and such other places near the shore as they shall think fit.

  6. To sound and mark the depths of the ocean in several places …

  7. To take notice of the nature and the soil of the bottom of the sea in all soundings, whether it be clay, sand, rock, etc.

  8. To keep register of all changes of wind and weather at all hours, by night and by day, showing the point the wind blows from, whether strong or weak, the rains, hails, snow etc, the precise times of their beginnings and continuance, especially hurricanes and spouts: And above all

  9. To take exact care, to observe the trade winds, about which degree of latitude and longitude they first begin, where and when they cease, or grow stronger or weaker …

  10. To observe and record all extraordinary meteors, lightnings, thunderstorms, ignes fatui, comets, etc, marking still the place and times of their appearing, continuance, etc.

  11. To take up sea water in several places, 2, 3, or 400 fathoms deep to compare the weight and saltiness thereof with the water upon the surfaces.

  12. To keep an exact diary containing these things mentioned, and all other ordinary observations relating to the ship’s course, and all such extraordinary things as occur, and at their return unto England to deliver one copy of their diary, finely written, and their course pricked out upon their card, for his Royal Highness the Duke of York and another to Trinity House to be >perused by the Society at Gresham College.

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: The first reference to the Australian continent in the Royal Society’s archives is in a letter written in 1698 by Nicholaas Witsen, a director of the Dutch East India Company, Burgomaster of Amsterdam and Fellow of the Royal Society, which he wrote to his friend Dr Martin Lister, also a Fellow.

Witsen’s letter summarises the report he received from the Vlamingh expedition’s 1696-97 voyage along the western coast of New Holland which located and mapped the Swan River and Rottnest Island. Witsen, celebrated throughout Europe for his magnificent Kunstkammer, had hoped Vlamingh would bring him back new specimens and treasures for his collection. He was to be sorely disappointed, as his letter, which contains the first descriptions of marsupials and black swans, shows.

ANDREW SAYERS: Letter from Nicolaas Witsen to Martin Lister:

On this Voyage nothing has been discovered which can be any way serviceable to the Company. The Soil of this Country hath been found very barren, and as a Desert; no Fresh-water Rivers have been found, but some Salt-water Rivers, as also no Four-footed Beasts, except one as great as a Dog, with long Ears, living in the Water as well as on the Land.

Black Swans, Parrots and many Sea-Cows were found there; as also a Lake, whose water seemed to be Red, because of the Redness of the Bottom of it: and round along the Shore there was some Salt. Our People had seen but Twelve of the Natives, all as black as Pitch, and stark naked, so terrified, that it was impossible to bring them to Conversation, or a Meeting: They lodge themselves as the Hottentots, in Pavilions of Small Branches of Trees. By Night our People saw Fires all over the Country; but when they drew near, the Natives were fled. The Coast is very low, but the Country far from the Sea is high.

Upon the Island near the coast have been seen Rats as great as Cats, in an innumerable Quantity; all which had a kind of Bag or Purse hanging from the Throat upon the Brest downwards. There were found many well-smelling Trees, and out of their Wood is to be drawn Oyl smelling as a Rose, but for the rest they were small and miserable Trees. There were also found some Birds nests of prodigious greatness, so that Six Men could not, by stretching out their Arms, encompass One of them; but the fowls were not to be found.

There was great Store of Oysters, Lobsters and Crabs; and also strange sorts of fish.

There were also Millions of Flies, very much troubling Men. They saw a great many Footsteps of Men and Children, but all of an ordinary bigness. The Coast is very foul and full of Rocks.

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: In 1716, Astronomer Royal Edmond Halley’s Admonition to his fellows at the Royal Society was published in a scientific journal, the Philosophical Transactions. Halley urged lovers of science to observe the next eclipse of the sun by the planet Venus, due in 1761, so that the sun’s diameter could be measured and the distance from it to the earth calculated. The 1761 transit of Venus was observed from locations in Europe, South Africa and China, but the results were not conclusive. The Royal Society resolved to make the most of the next transit, due in 1769. Any proposals for the improvement of navigation were likely to find favour with the reigning monarch, George III.

RHYS MULDOON: Petition to George III:

To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty

The Memorial of the President, Council and Fellows of the Royal Society of London for improving Natural knowledge Humbly sheweth

That the passage of the Planet Venus over the Disc of the Sun, which will happen on the 3rd of June in the year 1769 is a Phaenomenon that must, if the same be accurately observed in proper places, contribute greatly to the improvement of Astronomy, on which Navigation so much depends.

That several of the great Powers in Europe, particularly the French, Spaniards, Danes and Swedes are making the proper dispositions for the Observation thereof; and the Empress of Russia has given directions for having the same Observed in many different places of her extensive Dominions.

That the like appearance after the 3rd of June 1769 will not happen for more than 100 years.

That the British Nation have been justly celebrated in the learned world for their knowledge of Astronomy, in which they are inferior to no Nation upon Earth; Ancient or Modern; and it would cast dishonour upon them should they neglect to have correct Observations made of this important Phaenomenon.

That a correct Set of Observations made in a Southern latitude would be of greater importance than many of those made in the Northern. But it would be necessary that the Observers who are to pass the line should take their departure from England only in the spring; because it might be some time before they could fix upon a proper place for making the Observation within the limits required.

That the Expense of having the Observations properly made in the Places above specified, including a reasonable gratification to the persons employed; and furnishing them with such Instruments as are still wanting, would amount to about 4000 pounds, inclusive of the Expenses of the Ships which must convey and return the persons that are to be sent to the southwards of the Equinoctial Line, and to the North Capes.

That the Royal Society are in no condition to defray this Expense; their Annual Income being scarcely sufficient to carry on the necessary business of the Society.

The Memorialists attention to the true ends for which they were founded by Your Majesty’s Royal Predecessor; The Improvement of Natural Knowledge, conceived it to be their duty to lay their sentiments before Your Majesty, with all humility, and submit the same to Your Majesty’s Royal consideration.

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: The King - eager to discover and claim the great south land believed to lie in the Pacific - gave his approval to the Royal Society’s petition in less than a week, giving 4,000 pounds as well as making a Royal Navy ship, HMB Endeavour, available. The Admiralty’s choice of captain - Lieutenant James Cook, known as a skilled astronomical observer - was engaged by the Royal Society as one of the two astronomers on board.

Accompanying Cook was Joseph Banks, Fellow of the Royal Society since 1766, and his scientific party. The presence of a civilian scientific party on a Royal Navy vessel did not convince the Portuguese Viceroy at Rio de Janeiro that their voyage was for scientific purposes. HMB Endeavour and those on board were placed under armed guard while fresh water, provisions and wood were taken on.

ANDREW SAYERS: Letter from James Cook to Charles Morton, Secretary of the Royal Society:

Rio de Janeiro, 30th November 1768

Sir

I take the opportunity of a Spanish Packet bound from hence to Europe, to acquaint you of the Arrival of His Majesty’s Bark the Endeavour under my Command at this port on the 13 Instant & that having recruited our Water & stock of Provisions shall put to sea again without loss of time, being now in as good a condition for prosecuting the voyage as the day we sailed from England, neither Mr Green nor myself hath been able to make any Observations worthy of the Attention of the Royal Society, no one Gentleman in this Ship have been permitted to go ashore at this place, this unheard of treatment has not only prevented Mr Green & myself from making any Astronomical observations here, but, Mr Banks and Doctor Solander from Collecting any of the productions of this country; I am not at a loss to Assign the true reason the Vice Roy had for treating us in the manner he hath not withstanding several Memorials & Letters have passed betwixt me & him on the same subjects, he only pleaded Custom & the orders of His Court … the account we gave of our Selves, of being bound to the Southward to observe the Transit of Venus / a phenomenon they had not the least Idea of / appeared so very strange to these narrow minded Portuguese that they thought it only an invented story to cover some other design we must be upon, this I believe to be the reason for the unpresidential reception we met with here …I am

Sir

Your most obedient, humble

Servant

James Cook.

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: Joseph Banks could afford to be much less diplomatic than Cook. He wrote to Lord Sandwich urging that the Navy send warships to bombard Rio and avenge the insult to British honour, commenting that the Portuguese defences were, in his opinion, pitiful. He also wrote to his friend William Perrin, expressing his great frustration at being confined to the ship.

RHYS MULDOON: Letter from Joseph Banks to William Perrin:

Three weeks have I been lying at an anchor in the river the banks of which are crowded with plants, animals, etc., such as I have ever seen before.

All this time I have not been permitted to set my foot upon land because, forsooth, the Gentry here think it is impossible that the King of England could be such a fool as to fit out a ship merely to observe the transit of Venus.

From hence they Conclude that we are Come upon some other Errand which they think to disappoint.

O Perrin! You have heard of Tantalus in hell, you have heard of the French man laying swaddled in linnen between two of his mistresses, both naked, using every possible means to excite desire, but you have never heard of a tantalised wretch who has born his situation with less patience than I have done mine.

I have curs’d, swore, rav’d, stamp’d and wrote memorials to no purpose in the world. They only laugh at me and exult in their own penetrations to have defeated so deep laid a scheme as they suppose ours to have been …

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: Despite the guard set over the Endeavour, Banks acquired a number of botanical specimens at Rio that were drawn and classified, and then engraved in the years following the Endeavour’s return to England in 1771. These specimens were just a tiny portion of the vast collections Banks formed during the voyage which, combined with the excellent maps Cook created, represented major improvements to scientific knowledge. Plans for a rapid return to the Pacific were soon under way.

Banks intended to sail on this expedition too, but, after additions made to HMS Resolution at his request and expense were removed - they had made the ship unseaworthy - he and his large party of scientific assistants withdrew. In his place, and on the advice of Daines Barrington, the Admiralty engaged the services of Johann Reinhold Forster and his son Georg as the expedition’s Scientific Gentlemen. As the expedition was returning home, and mindful of Barrington’s assistance, Forster sent him a letter from Cape Town with advance news of the Resolution’s voyage.

Barrington FRS [Fellow of the Royal Society] promptly forwarded the information to Charles Blagden, FRS and Joseph Banks’ personal physician, and cautioned him not to mention Captain Cook’s negative comments about Omai, a young Polynesian man who had been in Banks’ care since mid 1774.

RHYS MULDOON: Daines Barrington to Charles Blagden, 26 June 1775:

Dear Sir,

Capt Cook arriv’d at the Cape on the 22nd of March last after a voyage of 28 months without having lost a single person by sickness and on the contrary the whole crew were in perfect health on their arrival. This is attributed by Forster to the use of Sower-Crowt & wort from malt -

They have discover’d many new islands some of which were 80 leagues in length and have penetrated to 71.10 S. Lat. W. Long. 106 & ½ -

Forster hath collected 260 new plants & 200 new animals - that they are so he pronounces very positively -

The landscape painter hath sent over many views of these newly discover’d islands which I am told are masterly.

The Otaheitee Man was put on shore again and proved incorragibly stupid which Capt Cook says he is the more sorry for as Omai is a very great blackguard -

You must not however tell your patient of this as perhaps he may call Capt Cook behind Buckingham House on his arrival which is expected every hour.

Ever Yrs

D Barrington.

Captain Cook says that Kendal’s watch together with the Lunar Tables prov’d a most faithfull guide in all difficulty.

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: James Cook was proposed for membership of the Royal Society on 23 November 1775. His election certificate was then made available over ten consecutive meetings for members to add their endorsements to. Cook’s proposers, led by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, had reached 24 in number and filled the available space on the certificate when Johann Reinhold Forster added his name in the space between the two neat rows. On 29 February 1776, Cook’s name was balloted and he was dually elected, paying his fee of five guineas and signing his bond before being admitted as a fellow of the Royal Society on 7 March 1776.

ANDREW SAYERS: Recommendation:

Captain James Cook of Mile-end, a gentleman skilfull in astronomy, & the successful conductor of two important voyages for the discovery of unknown countries, by which geography & natural history have been greatly advantaged and improved, being desirous of the honour of becoming a member of this Society, we whose names are underwritten, do, from our personal knowledge testify, that we believe him deserving of such honour, and that he will become a worthy & useful member.

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: On the evening that Cook was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society, his paper on the methods he had used to preserve the health of the Resolution’s crew was read to the assembled fellows. Scurvy, a disease now known to be caused by a vitamin C deficiency, was a curse of long sea voyages, when fresh food was often unobtainable. Mortality rates from scurvy were so high, that vessels regularly carried extra men in the hope that sufficient of them would still be alive at the end of the voyage to bring the ship into port.

During his first Pacific voyage, Cook had two skilled botanists - Banks and Solander - on board who could identify edible plants. As a result, the crew of the Endeavour had remained remarkably healthy until the fevers at Batavia carried a third of them off. Keen to build on the knowledge gained from this voyage, Cook experimented with a variety of methods to keep his crew healthy on his second Pacific voyage on the Resolution from 1772 to 1775. He was awarded the Royal Society’s prestigious Copley Medal in 1776 for his documentation of his methods of preventing scurvy among his crew.

ANDREW SAYERS: Letter to Sir John Pringle, President of the Royal Society:

As many Gentlemen have expressed some surprise, at the uncommon good state of Health, which the crew of the Resolution, under my Command, experienced during her late long voyage; I take the liberty to communicate to you the methods that were taken to obtain that end -

A good deal was owing to the extraordinary attention paid by the Admiralty, in causing such articles to be put on board, as either by experience or suggestion, were judged to tend most to preserve the health of Seamen. I shall not trespass upon your time in mentioning all these articles; but confine my self to such, as were found the most useful -

We had on board a quantity of Malt, of which was made sweet Wort, and given to such of the men, who showed the least symptoms of the Scurvy; and also, to such, as were thought to be threatened with that disorder … This is without doubt one of the best Antiscorbutic Sea-Medicines yet found out; and if given in time, will, with proper attention to other things, I am persuaded, prevent the Scurvy from making any great progress for a considerable time. But I am not altogether of the opinion that it will cure it at Sea -

Sour Krout, of which we had a large quantity, is not only a Wholesome Vegetable food, but in my opinion, highly antiscorbutic and spoils not by keeping. A pound of it was served to each man, when at sea, twice a week, or oftener when it was thought necessary -

Portable Soup or Broth, was another great article, of which we had a large supply. An ounce of this, to each man … was boiled in their Pease, three Days in the Week. And when we were in places where Vegetables were too be got, it was boiled with them, and Wheat, or Oatmeal, every morning for Breakfast, and also with Pease and Vegetable for Dinner. It enabled us to make several nourishing and wholesome messes, and was the means of making the People eat a greater quantity of Vegetables than they would have done otherwise.

Rob of Lemons and Oranges is an Antiscorbutic we were not without, and the Surgeon made use of it in many cases with great success -

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: Cook’s assumption that diet played a major role in scurvy was correct; but his non-dietary remedies were also important.

ANDREW SAYERS:

But the introduction of the most Salutary Articles, either as Provision or Medicines, will generally prove unsuccessful unless supported by certain regulations -

On this principle, many years experience, together with some hints I have had from Sir Hugh Palliser, the Captains, Campbell, Wallis and other intelligent officers, enabled me to lay a Plan whereby all was to be governed -

The Crew were at Three Watches, except upon some extraordinary occasions. By this means they were not so much exposed to the weather, as if they had been at Watch and Watch, and had generally dry cloaths to shift themselves when they happened to get wet - Care was also taken, to expose them as little to wet weather as possibly could be done.

Proper methods were employed to keep their Persons, Hammocks, Bedding, Cloaths etc constantly clean and dry. Extra care was taken to keep the ships clean and dry betwixt Decks. Once or Twice a Week, she was air’d with fires, and when this could not be done, she was Smoaked with Gun Powder, mixed with Vinegar or Water. I had also frequently a fire made in an Iron Pot at the bottom of the well, which greatly purified the air in the lower parts of the Ship. To this and Cleanliness, as well in the Ship, as amongst the People, too great attention cannot be paid; the least neglect occasions a putrid, disagreeable smell below, which nothing but fires will remove; and if these be not applyed in time, these smells may be attended with bad consequences -

Proper attention was paid to the Ships Coppers, so that they were kept constantly clean - The fat, which boiled out of the Salt Beef and Pork, I never suffered to be given to the People, as is customary; being of opinion that it promotes the scurvy.

I was careful to take in Water wherever it was to be got, even tho’ we didn’t want it … Of this essential article we were never at an allowance, but had always plenty for every necessary purpose. I am convinced that with plenty of fresh Water, and proper attention to Cleanliness; a Ship’s Company will seldom be much afflicted with the Scurvy; even tho’ they are not provided with any of the antiscorbutics before mentioned …

These, Sir, were the methods, under the care of Providence, by which the Resolution performed a voyage of Three years and Eighteen Days, through all the Climates, from 52 degrees North to 71 degrees South; with only the loss of four men of one Hundred and Eighteen. Two were drowned; one was killed by a fall, and the other died after a long illness occasioned by a complication of disorders, without the least mixture of the Scurvy.

I have the honour to be,

Sir,

Your Most Obliged and Humble Servant

James Cook.

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: Unwisely, as it would turn out, Cook turned down the offer of a comfortable retirement to return to the Pacific for a third time in 1776. He was killed at Kealakekua Bay in Hawaii on 14 February 1779 when his attempts to retrieve his ship’s cutter went horribly wrong.

News of Cook’s death reached London in January 1780 and at their next meeting, the Council of the Royal Society - headed by its President Sir Joseph Banks - resolved to honour Cook’s scientific achievements with a suitable memorial. They created a medallion in his honour. The Latin motto placed beneath his portrait on the medal’s obverse translates as ‘the Royal Society of London, his Society’.

In addition to the hundreds of silver and bronzed copper Cook medallions produced for the Royal Society, a small number of gold medallions were minted for presentation to significant individuals. One gold medal was reserved for Captain Cook’s widow Elizabeth.

Mrs Cook conveyed her thanks in a letter to Joseph Banks:

Sir

I received your exceeding kind letter of the 12th and want the words to express, in any adequate degree, my feelings on the very singular honour which you, Sir, and the honourable learned Society over which you so worthily preside, had been pleased to confer on my late husband, and, through him, on me, and his children, who are left to lament the loss of him, and be the receivers of those most noble marks of approbation, which, if Providence had been pleased to permit him to receive him self, would have rendered me happy indeed.

Be assured, Sir, that however unequal I may be to the task of expressing it, I feel, as I ought, the high honour of which the Royal Society has been pleased to do me. My greatest pleasure now remaining is in my Sons, who I hope will ever strive to copy after so Good an Example; and Animated by the Honour bestowed on their Father’s Memory, be ambitious of attaining by their own Merit, your notice and approbation. Let me entreat you to add to the many Acts of Friendship, which I have already received at your hands, that of expressing my gratitude, and thanks, to that learned body, in such a manner as may be acceptable to them.

I am, Sir, with greatest respect,

Your greatly obliged, and

very humble Servant

Eliz. Cook.

Joseph Banks’ role in the choice of New South Wales as the site for Britain’s penal settlement was considerable. He received regular gifts of natural history specimens from his clients in the navy who were based there. One gift was the pelt and bill of a platypus, one of the most extraordinary creatures discovered by settlers in New South Wales at the end of the eighteenth century and brought to the attention of scientists in England. Initially considered a hoax, the platypus was the subject of a paper by Sir Everard Home in 1800, who described the creature’s duck-like bill and accepted it as genuine. The following year Home dissected a preserved female specimen sent to Sir Joseph Banks. In a 38-page paper read before the Fellows of the Royal Society on 17 December 1801, he described its anatomy in great detail, paying particular attention to the creature’s reproductive organs.

RHYS MULDOON: Here we go:

A description of the anatomy of the Ornithorhynchus paradoxus By Everard Home Esquire. Read December 17, 1801:

The peculiar characters of the Ornithorhynchus, as a Genus, or more properly a tribe of Animals, are
The Male having a spur on the hind legs, close to the Heel,
The Female having no nipples.
The beak being smooth, while the rest of the Animal is covered with Hair
The tongue having horny processes, answering the purposes of Teeth.
The Penis of the Male being appropriated to the passage of the Semen, and its external Orifice being subdivided into several openings, so as to scatter the Semen over an extent of surface, while the Urine passes by a separate canal into the Rectum.
The Female having no common Uterus; and the tubes which correspond to the horns of the Uterus in other Quadrupeds, receiving the Semen immediately from the Penis of the Male.
These Characters distinguish the Ornithorhynchus, in a very remarkable manner, from all other Quadrupeds, giving this new tribe a resemblance in some respects to Birds, in others to the Amphibia; so that it may be considered as an intermediate link between the Classes Mammalia, Aves, and Amphibia …
Between it and the Bird, no link of importance seems to be wanting.

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: Sailing home to England in December 1803 after his circumnavigation of the Australian continent, Matthew Flinders was captured by the French and spent the next seven years imprisoned on Mauritius. Two weeks after his capture, Flinders’ papers and observations were returned to him and he resumed work on the troubling phenomenon of compass deviation. This could throw a vessel off course by up to seven degrees. Flinders was the first to realise that this hazardously variable error was actually predictable. He proposed a mathematical law to quantify the magnitude of the variation and he also suggested a remedy. The vertical iron bar he recommended should be placed near a ship’s compass still bears his name today. Flinders communicated this vital information to Banks and the Royal Society in a letter dated 3 March 1804. On 5 July 1805 he sent a second letter on the subject.

ANDREW SAYERS: Letter from Matthew Flinders to the Royal Society, 5 July 1805:

Sir,

About twelve months since, I sent you a short account of some observations of the variation of the compass, made upon the coasts of New Holland and New South Wales during my examination of them in His Majesty’s ship the Investigator, which shewed the variation differed considerably on an alteration being made in the direction of the ships head; since that time, I have further digested these observations, and, as far as a slight knowledge upon the subject of magnetism, and my present confinement, which precludes access to further information, will permit, have brought my opinion upon the cause of these differences towards maturity.

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: In his earlier letter to Sir Joseph Banks on compass variation, Flinders had added the following plea.

ANDREW SAYERS: Letter from Flinders to the Royal Society, 3 March 1804:

I have too much ambition to rest in the middle order of mankind, and since neither birth nor fortune have favoured me, my actions shall speak to the world. In the regular service of the navy there are too many competitors for fame; I have therefore chosen a branch which, though less rewarded by rank and fortune, is yet little less in celebrity; in this the candidates are fewer, and in this, if adverse fortune does not oppose me, I will succeed; and although I cannot rival the immortalised name of Cook, yet if persevering industry joined to what ability I may possess, can accomplish it, then will I secure the second place; if you, Sir Joseph, as my guardian genius will but conduct me to the place of probation. The hitherto obscure name of Flinders may thus become a light by which even the illustrious character of Sir Joseph Banks may one day receive an additional ray of glory; as a satellite of Jove I may reflect back splendour to the gracious primary who, by shining upon me, shall give lustre to my yet unradiated name.

RHYS MULDOON: And it did.

MICHELLE HETHERINGTON: Well done. That’s it. [applause]

Date published: 12 November 2010