E ndeavour was the ship that sailed Captain Cook on his first expedition from 1768 to 1771 to Australia and New Zealand. Endeavor, argues Peter Moore in this ambitious exploration, was also the word that best captured the spirit of old age. Britain, in the second half of the 1
Samuel Johnson's dictionary, consisting of 42,773 entries, of which he took three years to compose nine, is an example of these great projects; the great stories of David Hume, Tobias Smollett, Catharine Macaulay, William Robertson and Edward Gibbon are different. Moore combines such bold literary aspirations with diverse social and political changes: the Freedom Campaign of Radical MP John Wilkes in the 1760s, the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, sea voyages to discover the fabled southern continent, and Europe-wide endeavors, the dimensions of the universe. "Endeavor was a fundamental part of the Enlightenment approach, and in the years 1750-80 the momentum was strongest."
Moore, the author of two previous books, most recently the group biography The Weather Experiment finds a form for his 18th-century research for "It Biographies": reports on the lives of real or fictional objects like coins, carriages and walking sticks. Focusing on the wood that became the ship Endeavor, he can combine a vast array of characters and locations that include politicians, philosophers, sailors, shipwrights, and the natural history of Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.
No one knows how many oaks were used for the ship at Whitby Docks, which was first christened the Earl of Pembroke before it was renamed Endeavor or where it came from. Probably about 200 were needed, each about 100 years old. The beginning of Endeavor's story, according to Moore, is not the commercial Britain of 1764, when the ship was built, but the restoration of England under Charles II, when John Evelyn published his groundbreaking study of English trees Sylva Or a speech from Waldbäumen (1664)
Whitby had the advantage of a dry dock, which was opened in 1734 and facilitated the shipbuilding of the whole year. Moore explains that "Whitby-built ships were not built to conform to a perfect type – they could mix different attributes, depending on the materials available in the yards at a given time, but they were built for a purpose to fulfill. " The earliest purpose of the Earl of Pembroke was to transport coal from Newcastle to London. It was not taken over by the Royal Navy until 1768, renamed and converted to become Cook's research ship. From this point on, the life of Endeavor comes clearly in sight. It weighed 368 tonnes, and shipbuilder Adam Hayes took the responsibility of personifying it at the Deptford shipyard for Cook's voyage. She left her London anchorage on July 30, 1768 in the direction of Tahiti, where her crew "watched the transit of Venus over the solar disk", before driving further south into unknown seas and Australia and New Zealand.
The botanist Joseph Banks accompanied Cook and was often seen in his collecting boat, behind the Ship was towed. "Banks' diary shows a man who goes to collect every morning with the rejoicing and spring of a pastor on Easter Sunday," Moore writes. Banks' research capabilities were influenced by the attitudes Endeavor met. In Tahiti, according to Moore, care should be taken; in New Zealand warmongering; in Botany Bay, aloofness. Banks blasted indigenous Australians for being "cowards" in his diary: "Apathy was far worse for him than the Maori violence or Tahitian theft, and it was compounded by their proximity to the thriving plant world." Moore notes the irony that Banks pressed his copies under the old newspapers, there was a copy of the Spectator, including criticism and notes on Milton's Paradise Lost. Bank's specimens can still be seen in the London Natural History Museum, some pushing in the lines: "the fruit of this forbidden tree, its mortal taste, / death brought into the world and all our suffering, with the loss of Eden."
The ship returned to England in July 1771 with more than 30,000 botanical specimens, of which 1400 were unknown to European scientists. Johnson complained to Boswell, "They have found very little, just a new animal, I think" (the kangaroo). "But many insects, sir," Boswell replied. Moore regrets Johnson and Boswell for this harsh judgment and points out that it took decades to come to terms with the volume of samples returned to Endeavor: "All in all, this one trip has expanded the list of plant species collected in the Species Plantarum 1762-63 by about one-fifth. "
While the shipping companies – especially Cook and Banks – were honored, promoted, and rewarded," nothing was done for Endeavor itself. " She did not rest in a dock like Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hind and waited to be turned into relics. She was reinstated, and Cook turned his attention to his next ship, which bore the steeper name Resolution.
Endeavor left England before the end of the year for the Falkland Islands. Until 1775 she was in the Thames and needed "a medium to large repair". She was then sold, sailed to Newfoundland, returned, and was eventually renamed Lord Sandwich. Moore finds evidence in the ship surveys in the Deptford Record books.
Lord Sandwich was one of about 350 ships that assembled outside Staten Island in the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776 during the American Revolution. It found its dramatic end in 1778, when it was selected as one of the transport ships that sank the British in Newport to obstruct the French fleet that had come to help the revolutionaries.
In his epilogue, Moore gives a balanced account of Endeavor's cultural life after death. For many in the West, the ship remains a source of inspiration, most dramatically illustrated by Nasa's designation of the space shuttle Endeavor in 1989 (Moore notes that it was in homage to the original ship that the Americans named the "u" in the spelling of SS Endeavor ). For others, the ship is a symbol of colonial oppression. Eventually, fragments of the wood became relics. One piece was given to novelist James Fenimore Cooper, author of the fictitious "It Biography", Autobiography of a Pocket Handkerchief (1843). Another went to the moon in 1971 with the Apollo 15 astronauts. Another was loaned to NASA by the Graduate School of Oceanography of the University of Rhode Island to travel on the maiden voyage of the Endeavor Space Shuttle. Moore's detailed book is a captivating love letter to a word, an attitude, and a ship: it is an endeavor that the Endeavor honors without denying the death and destruction that follow it.
• Endeavor: The ship and the attitude that changed the world is published by Chatto. To order a copy for £ 17 (RRP £ 20), go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK P & P over £ 10, online orders only. Phone orders min p & p from £ 1.99.