The Shifting Meaning in Captain Cook’s Voyage Publications
“The women of this country I always looked upon to be more chaste than the generality of Indian women, whatever favours a few of them might have granted to the crew of the Endeavour, it was generally done in a private manner and without the men seeming to interest themselves in it, but now we find that the men are the chief promoters of this Vice, and for a spike nail or any other thing they value will oblige their wives and daughters to prostitute themselves whether they will or no and not with the privacy decency seems to require, such are the consequences of a commerce with Europeans and what is still more to our shame civilized Christians, we debauch their morals already […] prone to vice and we interduce amongst them wants and perhaps diseases which they never before knew and which serves only to disturb their happy tranquillity they and their fore fathers had injoy’d. If anyone denies the truth of this assertion let him tell me what the Natives of the whole extent of America have gained by the commerce they have had with Europeans.”
“Cook asked for Douglas’s assistance on producing a book that would be acceptable to “the nicest readers”: “My desire is that nothing indecent might appear in the whole book and you cannot oblige me more than by pointing out whatever may appear to you as such.”
“I had always looked upon the females of New Zealand to be more chaste than the generality of Indian women. Whatever favours a few of them might have granted to the crew of the Endeavour, it was generally done in a private manner and without the men seeming to interest themselves much in it. But now, I was told, they were the chief promoters of a shameful traffic, and that, for a spike nail or any other thing they value, they would oblige women to prostitute themselves, whether they will or no; and even without the privacy which decency required.” (James Cook, A Voyage Toward the South Pole and Round the World V1, 130)
In this less expensive edition, the passage was omitted completely. The cheapest edition would likely have had the widest readership. That the entire passage has been omitted represents a censoring of Cook’s observations and introspections from a mass audience.Who might have read the different editions?How might the various omissions have affected contemporary readers’ understandings of the voyages?“it was published in fortnightly parts priced at sixpence each, and made the voyages accessible to a broad public, but was neither new, nor authentic, nor complete” 
- (Thomas 2018) pxxx -xxxi
- Samwell’s Journals, Beaglehole III vol 2. 1083
- Beaglehole 1.511fn
- (Fowkes Tobin 2004) p157
Confronting Captain Cook: Memorialisation in museums and public spaces
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