“The triumph of science was reserved to later periods of time. Three voyages of discovery, from the most liberal motives, had already been performed, when a fourth was undertaken by order of an enlightened monarch, upon a more enlarged and majestic plan than ever was put in execution before. The greatest navigator of his time, two able astronomers, a man of science to study nature in all her recesses, and a painter to copy some of her most curious productions, were selected at the expence of the nation. After completing their voyage, they have prepared to give an account of their respective discoveries, which cannot fail of crowning, their employers at least, with immortal honour.
The British legislature did not send out and liberally support my father as a naturalist, who was merely to bring home a collection of butterflies and dried plants. That superior wisdom which guides the counsels of this nation, induced many persons of considerable distinction to act on this occasion with unexampled greatness. So far from prescribing rules for his conduct, they conceived that the man whom they had chosen, prompted by his natural love of science, would endeavour to derive the greatest possible advantages to learning from his voyage. He was only therefore directed to exercise all his talents, and to extend his observations to every remarkable object. From him they expected a philosophical history of the voyage, free from prejudice and vulgar error, where human nature should be represented without any adherence to fallacious systems, and upon the principles of general philanthropy; in short, an account written upon a plan which the learned world had not hitherto seen executed.“ (Georg Forster, Preface to “Observations Made During a Voyage Round the World“)
|William Hodges: "Resolution and Adventure with fishing craft in Matavai Bay" (1776), showing the two ships of James Cook's Second Voyage at anchor off Tahiti.|
|The Forsters, father and son, in Tahiti, as imagined by Jean Rigaud in 1780|
|A drawing by Goethe from 1793 of a German liberty tree based on the French model.|
The inscription reads: “Passans, cette terre est libre“ (travellers, this land is free)
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