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James Cook was born in the north of England on October 27th, 1728. The local landowner took an interest in the young boy and paid for his schooling. He learnt to read and write and was particularly good at mathematics. At the age of 18 he joined a ship which was used to carry coal down the east coast of England. Cook learnt fast and quickly became a skilled seaman.
In 1756 the Seven Years War between Britain and France broke out and Cook joined the navy. He did very well and sailed with the navy to Canada, where the war with the French was also being fought. In 1759 the French army was defending the city of Quebec, which stood high on a rock above the St. Lawrence River. Cook went up and down the river insgroupsto chart all the dangerous rocks. Finally he was able to mark a path for the warships to follow.
He led the ships down the river to a place where the British armycould land safely and take the enemy by surprise. After a short battle, the French were defeated and the city of Quebec was seized.After the war, Cook married and set up home in London. For several years he sailed to the east of America, where he charted its coasts. In 1768，his big chance for a major expedition came. The navy was planning an expedition on the South Pacific Ocean with the purpose of watching a very unusual event, that is the planet Venus passing between the earth and the sun in 1769. They also hoped to find a new continent which they thought existed in the Indian or Pacific Ocean. Cook was to be in charge of this expedition as captain of the ship Endeavour.
The Endeavour was not a warship but an old merchant ship, just like the one on which Cook had learnt his seamanship. It was just over 32 metres in length. It was not a fast sailing ship, but was strongly built. It also had plenty of space below for storing things and so was extremely suitable for an expedition.
Cook knew that sailors often suffered fever while at sea and got sick because of the lack of fresh meat, fruit and vegetables. He was a strict but good captain, one who, unusually, took good care of the sailors on his ship. He therefore loaded the ship with litres of vinegar for the purpose of cleaning the inside of the ship. As well as the normal supplies of salted meat, cheese, plain biscuits and beer, he took live sheep, pigs and chickens. He also included stores of onions, cabbage in vinegar, and flour for baking bread.In July 1768 the Endeavour set out for the Pacific. The ship carried a totalof 94 people, including scientists. Although 38 of the people died of diseases during the expedition, Cook's diet of proper food kept the rest of them healthy.
|Lesson 5：Captain Cook(1)|
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