Dark side to Capt Cook

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

The pun­ish­ments Cap­tain Cook im­posed on his sailors are the sub­ject of a new book by Pa­pakowhai man Al­lan Ar­lidge.

Cap­tain Cook’s Dis­ci­pline is the fruit of 30 years’ re­search by the 91-year-old former his­tory teacher. The book ex­poses a hid­den side to Cook’s three Pa­cific jour­neys, be­cause while Cook recorded his pun­ish­ments in his cap­tain’s logs, he of­ten omit­ted them from the jour­nals he pre­sented to naval su­pe­ri­ors.

‘‘He just wanted to paint the best pic­ture he could in his jour­nals. He left out the nasty bits,’’ Mr Ar­lidge said.

Pre­vi­ous Cook bi­og­ra­phers like Bea­gle­hole made lit­tle ref­er­ence to the Ar­ti­cles of War, the code of con­duct for Bri­tish sea­men, but pun­ish­ments were of­ten a daily fact of life at sea.

‘‘It was this ap­par­ent con­tra­dic­tion which set me alight,’’ Mr Ar­lidge said. ‘‘He was a dis­ci­plinar­ian.’’

Sailors could be pun­ished for trans­gres­sions such as de­ser­tion, in­sub­or­di­na­tion, con­sort­ing with the en­emy, or bad be­hav­iour when the ship was in port.

A fa­mous ex­am­ple of misbehaviour was Cook’s sailors steal­ing nails from their ship to pay for sex­ual favours in Hawaii. Let alone the dam­age to the boats, sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases were a ma­jor worry for Cook, Mr Ar­lidge said.

No­body was put to death on Cook’s jour­neys, but plenty of flog­gings were ad­min­is­tered by Cook’s staff with a cat o’ nine tails.

‘‘There’s so many as­pects to his pun- ish­ments, that makes it an in­ter­est­ing story,’’ he says.

Mr Ar­lidge served four years in the Royal Navy dur­ing World War II. He gained a master’s de­gree in his­tory in 1952 and taught in high schools in Lower Hutt, Napier and the Wairarapa.

In 1975 his hips started to fail and he used his down­time to re­search Cook, New Zealand’s first Euro­pean gov­er­nor of men. His re­search led to ar­ti­cles for his­tory jour­nals, and fi­nally his self­pub­lished book.

De­pend­ing on how it is re­ceived, Mr Ar­lidge may travel to the UK this year to speak to a Cap­tain Cook so­ci­ety, but he has no plans to write an­other book.

Cap­tain Cook’s Dis­ci­pline is avail­able from Mr Ar­lidge for $45 plus p&p. Email al­lansa@xtra.co.nz.

Cook­ing up a story: Pa­pakowhai 91-year-old Al­lan Ar­lidge ex­poses a dis­ci­plinar­ian Cap­tain Cook in his new book fo­cus­ing on the ex­plorer’s pun­ish­ments of his sea­men.

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