EXPLANATORY REMARKS... BY JOHN FOTHERGILL...
[Image of page 1]
SYDNEY PARKINSON'S JOURNAL
VOYAGE TO THE SOUTH-SEAS.
BY JOHN FOTHERGILL, M.D. F.R.S.
TO an ingenuous mind, however innocent, it is a humiliating circumstance to be accused: even a consciousness of integrity, both in act and intention, cannot always efface the remembrance of unmerited, unjust imputations.
I feel myself no otherways affected by the accusations I am going to refute; and if I have borne them longer than my friends thought I should have done, I neither was indifferent, nor incapable of refuting them.
I must here acquaint the reader, that the preface to Sydney Parkinson's Journal was not written by the person who signs it. That he supplied the materials, I have no doubt he was indeed "unqualified to address the publick"-- "an unlettered man"-- and was he capable of answering for himself I might say more. He had the fortune however to find out a person, whose talents and disposition were exactly suitable to such a work, and who has, indeed, "varnished his materials" admirably. I know the nominal author was incapable of writing a line of it--nay, those letters put down as his own have been corrected; otherwise, a much larger field of Italicks might have appeared than are so invidiously pointed out in a letter, which does the writer's heart great credit with every friend to truth and humanity. It is of consequence to the parties accused, that the reader should know this circumstance, and that whilst he is
[Image of page 2]
perusing the preface to this journal, he is to consider it as the production of a venal pen, and of a writer who has had very little regard to either truth or character.
Another circumstance the reader ought likewise to be acquainted with--The unfortunate Stanfield Parkinson, who signs this preface, is now insane, in confinement, and must probably remain so for life. 1 I write, therefore, as if I was treating of a person dead, and utterly incapable of answering for himself--no small disadvantage to an accused person, when the accuser is not present to support his charges--under such a situation, the supposition that he possibly could have done it, stands against the accused.
A short historical detail of this whole transaction, will perhaps be the most satisfactory means of enabling the reader to judge for himself, whether the parties charged in this preface are guilty, and deserve the censures therein passed upon them; or ought not only to be acquitted, as having acted with honour, but applauded for generosity.
I knew Parkinson's father when I studied at Edinburgh; I believe he deserved the character bestowed upon him in the preface, and I retain a just esteem for his memory.
When I removed from the city, about the year 1767, to my present abode in Harpur-Street, I became a member of that part of our religious society which is in Westminster, and to which likewise I found Stanfield Parkinson belonged.
The regard I had for the father, led me to inquire into the situation of the son, who I found was an Upholsterer by trade; Sydney Parkinson, whose journal follows, was then in town, and had engaged to accompany Joseph Banks, Esq; as his draughtsman, in his intended voyage to the South Seas. Being introduced to me in this character, I gave him some small proofs that I considered
[Image of page 3]
him not only as a young man of much ingenuity, but of an unblemished character, and one, who, for his friends sake, I could wish to countenance.
After he embarked in the Endeavour, I took friendly notice of Stanfield Parkinson, for his father's and brother's sake; I occasionally employed him in some little affairs in the way of his business, lent him money on a pressing emergency, and shewed him every proper mark of regard.
Some time after the return of the Endeavour, he called to inform me, that he thought himself ill used by Joseph Banks; that he could neither obtain his brother's effects, nor a settlement of the account, and added many other accusations.
I informed him my engagements were such, that it was not in my power to spare time to inquire into such matters; that the gentleman he complained of would, I doubted not, render him the strictest justice, and more than this, be generous, if he would have patience and allow proper time for adjusting his affairs. I said this on a presumption, which I found afterwards sufficiently justified, that a gentleman of J. Banks's character could never submit to do any thing mean and unbecoming that rank in which he stood with the publick, on account of an undertaking which is yet unequalled.
Stanfield Parkinson repeatedly called upon me, to solicit my assistance in terminating this affair. Even his advocate acknowledges that I dissuaded him from all harsh measures; and this acknowledgment ought to have superseded the insinuation of "officious meddling." But to throw a great deal of dirt, in hopes that some will stick, seems to be the established maxim of this writer. In consequence of these reiterated applications, I wrote to J. Banks, to whom I was then personally a stranger, and acquainted him, "That at Stanfield Parkinson's request, I had taken the liberty to interfere in a business that did not concern me, and to which I thought myself very unequal, but should be much pleased if I could bring them together in such a way as to terminate the misunderstanding between them in an amicable manner."
[Image of page 4]
In answer to this, I received the following letter, which, to my great satisfaction , I lately found amongst my papers, and which, I think, will afford the most convincing proof of our intentions. Another letter or two passed between us on the subject, which, thinking the matter only temporary, were destroyed. The letter follows:
"I FEEL myself very much obliged to you, for having interested yourself in settling the disputes between me and the Executors of Sydney Parkinson, deceased; especially, as I always feared that without the good offices of some disinterested person, equally to be trusted by both parties, they would inevitably end in a law-suit of the most pettyfogging nature, which would at once defeat any intention I had of serving them, and lead them into an useless expence.
"On leaving England, I agreed to give eighty pounds a year to S. Parkinson, besides his living of all kinds, as my draughtsman, to make drawings for me: of this agreement, £151. 8s. 1d. is now due to his executors, besides some small sum for such cloths, &c. of his, as I could dispose of, or make use of in the ship, which I chose rather to do, than bring them home liable to be damaged, as those which came home were in some degree.
"Curiosities of all kinds I gave up to them, and such of his papers as I had, excepting only some loose sheets of a journal, which seemed to be only foul copies of a fair journal that I never found, and which is now the chief object of their enquiry; these foul papers, as all the journal I had, was to be given to Mr. Lee, for his reading, by S. Parkinson's own desire, expressed to Dr. Solander just before he died: the curiosities I offered to purchase at the time I delivered them, at such price as the executors should put upon them, but was refused.
[Image of page 5]
"Now as S. Parkinson certainly behaved to me, during the whole of his long voyage, uncommonly well, and with unbounded industry made for me a much larger number of drawings than I ever expected, I always did and still do intend to shew to his relations the same gratitude for his good services as I should have done to himself; the execution of this my intention was only delayed by the fear of being involved in a vexatious law-suit after all.
"Now you, sir, in conversation with Dr. Solander, have been so good as to suggest a mode of pleasing all parties, which I confess I very much approve of; the only thing that now remains is, that, as a friend to both, you think of a certain sum to be paid by me to them, as an acknowledgement of S. Parkinson's good services, taking or not the curiosities, &c. just as may seem to you most proper: in this, if you are good enough to undertake it, I beg leave to hint, that I do not at all mean to be sparing in my acknowledgment; but to err rather on the other side, that any one who may hear the transaction may rather say that I have been generous than otherwise.
"Your obliged, and very
"Affectionate humble servant,
Being thus left solely to compromise the difference between the parties, I endeavoured to view them both in the most impartial and dispassionate light. Whether my opinion was the most prudent, is now submitted to others to determine; that it appeared to me the most equitable and impartial, I can safely assert.
[Image of page 6]
I did not find there was any stipulated time reserved for the sole use of Sydney Parkinson during this expedition. His salary was fixed, his support engaged for--and of right, his time was the property of J. Banks, who paid this salary, and gave this support.
It followed then that the whole of S. Parkinson's labour as a draughtsman, or in whatever manner he might be employed towards promoting the object of this voyage was the property of his employer. This I considered as including notes, minutes, draughts, and other articles that required time to execute; which time was his master's.
But as it appeared, that he had used extraordinary diligence; had given the most ample satisfaction to J. Banks, both in respect to application and ability; that he was now no more, and could claim from him no farther acknowledgment, I judged that more than barely his wages was due, and embracing the liberty allowed me to propose what was generous, I thought if the sum of £151, which was due to the executors of this young man, was made up £500, it would be a most ample acknowledgment of his services; and prompt any other person who might attend in a second voyage, (which was then in agitation) in the same station, to exert himself with vigour, when he had before him such an instance of generous attention to extraordinary services. I endeavoured to make it my own case, both one side and the other. J. Banks very readily fell in with the proposal, and settled at the same time a pension upon a black woman, the wife of a faithful black servant who went out with him, and perished by the cold of Terra del Fuego.
With regard to the collection made by Sydney Parkinson, it seemed to approach very near being the property of J. Banks; yet part of it might be purchased--might be given him for particular services--might be collected at times when it would be unreasonable to expect he should be labouring at all. In these things I allowed him to be interested, yet with this reserve, that if he had collected any curiosities, which were not in the general collection, it would
[Image of page 7]
be right for J. B. to have every thing of that kind, as the collection could not have been made without his expence and assistance.
I proposed, therefore, in respect to these things, that J. B. should have the privilege of looking them all over--of selecting from them whatever might be agreeable to him, and returning the rest to Stanfield Parkinson.
When Sydney went out, I requested him, if he met with any rare marine productions, which did not interfere with the general business, that he would be kind enough to reserve a few specimens for me--this he promised, and had he lived would, I doubt not, have gratefully performed.
Stanfield allowed me to look over this part of his collection; requesting me at the same time to lay aside a few of such as I thought rare for his cousin at Newcastle. This I performed; took care in selecting for myself those I thought proper, that the rest of the collection should be as valuable as possible, by leaving duplicates, and in good condition.
At my request, and in pursuance of the opinion, that it was necessary that every curious article not in the general collection, if any such there should be, ought to make a part of it, both the shells I had selected for myself and S. P.'s relation, as well as those from whence they were taken, were all sent back to J. Banks, who after some time returned to me all those I had picked out, and those only. In this part of my negociation I was unfortunate. I had not made myself sufficiently understood. I meant that after J. B. had taken out of Sydney Parkinson's collection, whatever he might think fit to add to his own collection, not only those which I had selected, but the rest likewise should have been returned. Papers, manuscripts, drawings, and whatever related to the object of this voyage, the promotion of knowledge, were unexceptionably to be given up to J. Banks, who thought himself likewise entitled to the rest of the curiosities, as well as the manuscripts, papers, &c. in consideration of the ample satisfaction he had made, having presented the family with £349 more than was due to Parkinson; forty-nine of which he judged to be more than an
[Image of page 8]
equivalent for the whole of his collection; as indeed it proved to be from the prices they sold at in subsequent auctions.
After the shells were returned to me, I desired Parkinson to say what would content him for those I had selected. He told me that a dealer, who had seen the whole collection which his brother had made, in his absence, said they were worth two hundred pounds. I never fixed any value upon them. I never saw the whole, nor examined any part of his collection but the shells and corals. It is therefore an absolute untruth that I fixed any price upon this collection.
There is nothing more disagreeable than to fix a value upon another's property; especially where that valuation has no certain standard. Things of this nature are to be rated according to opinion only. Determined therefore to follow the example I had proposed, I paid liberally for those I selected--above twice the real value, as the same kinds have since been sold for at publick auctions. I told him at the time, he must not expect to dispose of the rest on the like terms.
Incapable of feeling the generosity of my conduct, he immediately concluded, that what remained in the hands of J. Banks, were of much greater value than he had suspected; and from that moment, became importunate to have every thing returned: and this, perhaps, was a principal motive to his future ungenerous and ungrateful conduct. The reader of Parkinson's preface, when he has considered these circumstances, will perhaps acquit me of the charge of having acted the part of a "pretended friend." If he does, what name must the man deserve, who had baseness enough to forge the injurious epithet?
The sum of £500, which I had proposed to be paid by J. Banks, to the executors of Sydney Parkinson, as a full compensation for his extraordinary diligence, instead of £151, was accepted by both parties. I was present at the payment, a witness to the receipt, and hoped the dispute was amicably and honourably terminated.
[Image of page 9]
Stanfield Parkinson then requested he might have the perusal of his deceased brother's papers. J. Banks complied with this request, though not without hesitation; the event too plainly proved, he had stronger reasons for his reluctance than I was aware of: he knew the man much better than I did. Thinking that it must afford Stanfield much satisfaction to peruse these last remains of his brother's industry, I requested it as a favour, engaging, as I thought I might do it safely, that no improper use should be made of them; I meant by printing, or communicating them to the publick in any mode whatsoever. My request was complied with, and he was put in possession of all the papers in J. Banks's custody.
That J. Banks was dissatisfied with the manner, at least, in which Parkinson made the request, was evident, and not without sufficient reason. After such an instance of generosity, as he had just exhibited to Parkinson's family, to have the shadow of a claim urged with heat, was not a little irritating.
By Parkinson's own confession in the preface, as soon as he had got the papers into his hands, it appears, that he immediately set to work to get them transcribed, engravings to be made from some drawings of his brother's, and to put the whole as fast as he could into a form for publication.
Some weeks after the business was, as I thought, happily terminated, I was informed, that Parkinson was preparing his brother's papers for the press. I sent for him immediately, to enquire into the truth of this report, and learned from him, to my astonishment, that the papers were transcribing for this purpose.
I asked, if he had forgot that I pledged myself to J. Banks, that no improper use should be made of them, in his hearing; and that he made not the least objection to my engaging on his behalf in this manner: and told him that it was a piece of the blackest treachery such a transaction could admit of, and he was treating me with no less ingratitude than injustice, silently to acquiesce with
[Image of page 10]
my engaging for him, perhaps at the very moment he was resolving to avail himself of my good nature and humanity towards him, to do an irreparable injury to J. Banks and myself.
I entreated him, if he had any regard for his own interest and reputation, that he would immediately desist from a project, which would be ruinous in all probability to himself, and leave me exposed to reproaches, on my part wholly undeserved. The reader will much more easily conceive than I can express, what I felt on this occasion.
I urged him to lay aside an intention, which, if carried into execution, might involve us both in an imputation of notorious treachery.--Entreated him to recollect in what manner I had behaved to his brother, and himself, ever since I had known them; the acts of kindness I had repeatedly done to himself, and his family.--That it would be forfeiting, not only my future friendship, but the regard of every one who should be made acquainted with this signal act of ingratitude.--That his conduct would be a reproach to the whole society we belonged to, and that J. Banks, if he was not generous enough to think me incapable of it, might accuse me as a party in his guilt. He then promised to desist, upon my engaging to pay the expences he had incurred, for transcribing and engraving. I ordered him to bring me the amount of his expences, he did so, just as I was preparing to set out for Cheshire--I offered him a draft for the money; but he chose to stay for it till my return from the country. At which time, when I sent for him to finish the affair, I was informed the work was advancing, and that the expences were at least £300.
In vain I represented to him this double aggravation of his criminal conduct. All that I could urge was received with an obstinate resolution to persevere.
He said that J. Banks had used him ill, by retaining all the articles sent to him, some of which ought to have been returned to him, and were of as much
[Image of page 11]
value as the sum he had received; and that he was therefore determined to do himself justice, by publishing his brother's papers, and informing the publick of his reasons.
This complaint I told him ought first to have been made to me, as I stood guarantee to J. Banks, that no such use should be made of his papers as was then intended; if J. Banks had withheld any thing that was justly due to him, I was obliged to see justice done him, and should do it, either by application to J. Banks, or out of my own pocket. But all was in vain. Can the reader think, as S. Parkinson has insinuated, that because I declared this conduct ungrateful, therefore my friendship till now was "meer pretence?"
Finding all my endeavours to put a stop to this unexpected treacherous behaviour ineffectual, I prevailed upon a reputable sensible person, of our persuasion, and a member of the same meeting, to meet Parkinson at my house, to endeavour, if possible, to put an end to this most disagreeable business; we met accordingly. What passed amongst us on this occasion, will probably appear most satisfactorily to the reader, from the mediator's own account of it, which I copied from his memorandum.
"Substance of what passed at Dr. Fothergill's house, November the 22d, between Stanfield Parkinson and Dr. Fothergill, in the presence of John Hatch, who, a few days after, put it down in writing, to assist his memory, if he should be called upon as an evidence in the case.
"J. Fothergill requested J. Hatch would meet Stanfield Parkinson, at J.F.'s house, which he did Nov. 22, 1772.
" J.F. then informed J. Hatch, with the occasion of this appointment. The following is the purport of what passed between J. F. S. Parkinson, and John Hatch, on this occasion.
[Image of page 12]
"That S.P. had a dispute with Joseph Banks, which was likely to be attended with a law-suit; but in order to serve S. P. and prevent so much trouble and expence, J.F. at the desire of S.P. had taken upon him to endeavour to settle the matter between them, which J.F. had effected in the following manner:
"That Joseph Banks instead of paying S. Parkinson the sum of one hundred and forty pounds, or thereabouts, which was due to his deceased brother Sydney Parkinson, should pay Stanfield Parkinson the sum of five hundred pounds: for which S.P. should let J. Banks select such shells, &c. from his late brother's collection, as to make J. Banks's complete; and that S. P. should make no use of his late brother Sydney Parkinson's papers or drawings: to which agreement Stanfield Parkinson being present made no objection.
"But J.F. complained, that contrary to this agreement he found S.P. was preparing to publish his brother's observations, which S.P. acknowledged was true, and said he had expended upwards of sixty pounds on that account.
"J.F. remonstrated with him on the injustice of such a procedure, and said for the sake of their own credit, and to avoid disputes, he (J.F.) desired S.P. would send him an account of what had been expended in preparing for the publication, and he (J.F.) would pay it him.
"Accordingly the bill was sent, amounting to upwards of sixty pounds; this happened to be about the time when J.F. was going into the country for some weeks, who soon after his return sent for S.P. in order to pay the aforesaid bill.
"But to his great surprise, S.P. told J.F. the work was still going on, and that the sum of £300 was now expended thereon. J.F. again
[Image of page 13]
"remonstrated with S.P. on the great injustice done him as a mediator between them, but to no purpose, S.P. still persisting in publishing.
"A little while after S.P. was withdrawn, J.F. desired J. Hatch would let S.P. know that J.F. would pay this farther expence, provided he would drop the publication: to which J.H. replied, that S. Parkinson told J.H. that the work was 'carrying on so fast that he could not drop it; on which account J.H. did not carry this proposal to S.P."
Having thus made use of every method in my power, but ineffectually, to prevent the publication of a work obtained from its rightful owner in this treacherous manner, nothing remained for me to do, but to assure my much injured friend J. Banks, that I felt the most poignant distress on this occasion: and that whilst I had been solely intent upon serving both parties, I had been made the instrument of injuring him so materially.
Though I knew Parkinson himself was incapable of publishing the papers which he had thus surreptitiously obtained; yet it was not to be doubted, but he might readily find some needy writer, who would supply his defects, and perhaps rejoice at an opportunity of defaming thole who were most justly entitled to commendation.
When the work appeared, this apprehension was fully justified; it was ushered to the publick by a preface professing much specious candour, but containing a series of falsehood, misrepresentation, and abuse. To these is opposed the explanation here exhibited, and it is now before the publick, and will probably be before posterity, who will have no partial regards to the accuser or defendants: both have the right of appeal to that tribunal, to explain the motives of their conduct, and must submit to the equity of their decision.
That applications were made by a legal process to stop the appearance of this work by the publisher and booksellers concerned in the edition
[Image of page 14]
of Capt. Cook's Voyages, is true, and for very obvious reasons; the sale of it would lessen their benefits, in proportion to its value and its sale. The hope of gain had been Parkinson's chief object--he knew that a much more honourable place 2 might and would have been reserved for doing justice to his brother's merit, than in a preface filled with invective and unjust insinuations against his brother's warmest friends. Could poor Sydney have foreseen that he was furnishing avarice and malevolence with the means of traducing such men, he would have swerved from the instructions of his cordial and intelligent friend, 3 who desired him to "minute every thing he saw, and "trust nothing to his memory.'"
It may not be improper here to mention a fact, which, though of no great consequence in itself, is of moment to those who are under the disagreeable necessity of justifying their conduct before the publick.
Parkinson's plea for printing his brother's papers, was, "That Jos. Banks never returned him any of the clothes, utensils, &c. which were sent to Jos. Banks for his inspection."
It was stipulated expressly, that every thing of this nature should be put into the hands of Jos. Banks. But it is evident, that Parkinson had reserved many drawings; whence, otherwise, came the plates which appear in this work?
And there are now in my possession, some clothes and instruments which were collected by Sydney Parkinson, which I purchased of Stanfield Parkinson's executors after his decease, and which were never sent to J. Banks, though all were promised. Hence it is very evident, this supposed detention, which might readily have been adjusted, was not the sole cause of the unrighteous act--but the hope of acquiring a large sum of money by the sale of this journal.
However artfully the tale was told, yet the publick could not readily adopt the partial and invidious narrative; they could not believe the account was true; it bore too evident marks of partiality, rancour, and injustice. And
[Image of page 15]
sensible people could not but suspect the like temper might possibly pervade the work; and that the same disregard to truth, the same varnish, might be employed to work up a recital of events and circumstances, more suited to the compiler's ideas, than the reality of a journal.
But there seems not much reason to apprehend the latter was the case. The reviser seems to have followed his original pretty closely. What errors it contains were chiefly made by the author, and it was not likely the editor could correct them.
Perhaps it may be asked, whence it happened that two persons, whose characters have been thus sharply attacked, could quietly remain so long under such imputations? I shall answer for myself, and in doing that, shall perhaps suggest some reasons why J. Banks was as silent myself.
The consciousness of my innocence, and the disinterestedness of my views in this transaction, with a hope that the general tenour of my life, would prevent my suffering greatly in the opinion of those who knew any thing concerning me, alleviated much the sense of the injuries done to me; and a persuasion, that sensible and impartial people, to whom J. Banks and myself were unknown, would discover in the narrative itself, so many instances of passion and partiality, as would lead them to suspect the charges to be the product of disappointment and malevolence.
Men who wish to pass without blame through life, naturally endeavour to have none imputed to them; not even undeservedly. It is scarcely possible for persons of any feeling, not to wish to leave behind them an unsullied reputation; and this not only for their own sakes, but for the sake of their friends, and their connections. Not forgetting, likewise, that they owe example to the publick.
Two reasons prevented me from attempting the justification I now submit to the reader's consideration before this time. The first, Parkinson and
[Image of page 16]
myself were members of a community which enjoins it as an indefensible obligation, not to appeal to the publick, in matters of dispute or disagreement, till the means prescribed by that community have been tried to reconcile the difference.
Agreeable to this fundamental maxim, Parkinson ought first to have applied for justice, had I injured him, in the usual forms of our procedure. Instead of this, he at once, contrary to all advice, traduced me before the publick, and violated the rules of his profession. Had I followed in a reply, I should have been as guilty as himself; guilty of breaking through a regulation, that has been thought to do credit to our institution. I bore it therefore patiently, till a reason might arrive when probably he might be, by the interposition of the society, made sensible of the breach of order, might be induced to reflect on the injustice he had done me, and, from conviction, do justice to a much injured character to the utmost of his power. To endeavour to make people sensible of their mistakes by forbearance, by reason, and the motives drawn from religious confederations, is the method we employ on these occasions.
Soon after the publication of this journal, the society finding one of their members exposed to publick censure, by another of the same profession, could not avoid taking notice of it in due form, and they treated with Parkinson, to make him sensible of the breach he had made in the rules of their discipline. After much labour, he was made to comprehend it so far as to own it, and was sorry for it. A written acknowledgment to be entered in the minutes of the society, is always expected on these occasions; whilst this was framing, such evident marks of insanity appeared, as to render it of no consequence to proceed with him any further.
The result of these proceedings, with those who are guilty of breaches of order, is to accept of their acknowledgment, if it appears to be competent and sincere; and this acknowledgment reinstates the offender in his former state of membership. If he proves refractory, he is declared not to belong to the society, in which case he is open to the common modes of prosecution.
[Image of page 17]
Till, therefore, Parkinson had either reinstated himself in the society, by acknowledging and making proper satisfaction for the breach of a rule, which is not only known to the society itself, but to many intelligent people of other communities; or till he was disowned for refusing this satisfaction--no proper mode of proceeding to do myself justice presented itself. If he remained a member, my application must be to the society. If he refused submission to them, he would be no longer considered as a member, and I should then be left at liberty to seek redress as circumstances might require. It would be tedious and not interesting, to produce undeniable evidence in support of this narrative. So much as is here offered, will, I hope, be received with indulgence, when it is considered I am rescuing myself from charges that must otherwise remain unrefuted, perhaps, as long as letters are esteemed either in this or other nations; for the engravings in this work, as well as the importance of the voyage, will always give the book a place in the libraries of the inquisitive.
It is not improbable, but that a hope of gaining considerably by the sale of this book, might be a very strong inducement to Parkinson to trample in this manner on the laws of friendship, gratitude, and justice. Some of the Endeavour's crew, who soon came about him, after their arrival in England, for their own private ends, buoyed him up with hopes of vast advantage from his brother's labours. This rendered him deaf to all advice; induced him to break the promise he had made me to stop the publication; involved him in many difficulties in respect to his circumstances; and, it is much to be feared, contributed to his ruin. He owned to some of his acquaintance before his faculties were quite disordered, "That he had used me wickedly."
It became necessary soon after his confinement, to look into his affairs, when it appeared, that not much more was left than would barely satisfy his creditors. His wife died a little before he became quite insane, and his children are maintained by the society, of which he was a member.
[Image of page 18]
Amongst his effects were found some remains of his brother's collection of clothes and utensils, though but few, and about four hundred copies of this journal: those who had the management of his concerns, made me an offer of these copies, which I bought at their own price, together with the plates belonging to this work.
There had always appeared to me a great difficulty in respect to a justification of myself from his charges: to do this in a common news-paper, or in a pamphlet, though it might serve the present purpose, yet the calumny would be handed down to posterity; and if an exculpation gained the notice of a few cotemporaries, it stood but little chance of surviving when personal regard was at an end.
I chearfully accepted the offer made me of purchasing the remaining copies, as the possession of them would afford me an opportunity of transmitting to future time, such an account of this transaction as might enable those who perused the charge, to judge of it fairly for themselves.
When the reader reflects on the several circumstances here related, and considers this poor man as necessitous, disappointed in his views, and under the commencement of insanity, it will not be difficult to account for his extraordinary behaviour to persons who had acted in all things towards him with disinterestedness and generosity.
[Image of page 19]
SOON after the publication of Parkinson's Journal, a gentleman to whom I was very well known, and who is now absent on duty, in a remote part of the world, was so much affected with the injurious treatment I had met with, as to be at the pains of drawing up the following remarks on the preface, with a view to get them inserted in the Monthly Review. With this intention he put them into my hands, where they have lain ever since. As, on pruning them, I find they have touched upon some circumstances which are not directly noticed in the preceding narrative, it seemed not improper to add them to these remarks.
To the Publisher of the Monthly Review.
Among the many uses to the publick of a literary review, it cannot be the least, nor out of character, to convey a candid defence against an unjust attack. In virtue of this plea it is that I claim your insertion of this address to you.
A kind of solemn appeal to the publick having been lodged in Mr. Parkinson's preface to his publication of certain remains of his brother's journal and draughts, on his voyage to the South-Seas, in the Endeavour, against the ill treatment pretended to have been received by him, relative to such his edition; in which appeal he has especially involved Dr. Fothergill; it is from a particular regard of this gentleman's character, that the following
[Image of page 20]
remarks are derived: yet does the love of truth so far in me out-weigh all partiality, that the points of the greatest importance to the decision, are principally taken from Mr. Parkinson's own account of the matter, without falsifying any fact, or draining any inference.
Upon the face then of the premises it appears, that Dr. Fothergill, without the shadow of any interest so much as insinuated, but presumptively with the best of intentions, and agreeably to his well known usual humanity, interfered for the service and satisfaction of Mr. Parkinson, to whose "religious society," to use Mr. Parkinson's own words, the doctor also belonged: it was under this friendly mediation that Mr. Banks, whose debt to the deceased for his salary is not pretended to have been more than about one hundred and fifty pounds, consented to add the sum of three hundred and fifty pounds, which surely was a noble addition, and might very well be allowed to include in it, at once, the gratuity intended as a douceur to the family, for the loss they sustained in the death of so valuable a relation, and a consideration as well for any distinction that could be set up between the drawings of the hired botanical draughtsman, and those of the draughtsman in general, as for all the vast treasure of cockle shells, plants, stuffed birds, savage garments, utensils, and implements of war, said to have been left, of infinite curiosity, no doubt; but hardly of so much value as to tempt Mr. Banks to cheat Mr. Parkinson's heirs of them.
That Mr. Banks, however, imagined that this additional sum of three hundred and fifty pounds gave him a right to a fair and full clearance (and perhaps the reader may imagine so too) stands presumably proved by his having prepared a general release, to be signed by Mr. Parkinson and sister on their receipt of the sum, thus even generously made up five hundred pounds; and that it was not signed by them appears, by Mr. Parkinson's own account, to have been purely owing to some delay made necessary by a point of form. (See preface, p. xv.)
[Image of page 21]
That Dr. Fothergill might, at that time, promise his good offices for Mr. Banks's letting him have some of those curiosities back that Mr. Parkinson there says he wished to have back, is not at all improbable, if it be true that he expressed at that time such a wish; but that he should make the receiving them back a condition of his signing the receipt of the £500, is not, perhaps, quite so credible. Whoever, also, will think it worth his while to peruse Mr. Parkinson's own account, his own confession of presence at Dr. Fothergill's engaging for the return of the brother's manuscript, and not contradicting such engagement, will hardly not see and feel that he was bound by it in honour and in justice.
To how poor a prevarication and subterfuge has he recourse in his pitiful chicanery about the expression of making an improper use of his brother's papers! Can he think to impose on any one, that by that "improper use" he did not understand himself precluded from publishing any thing of his brother's, relative to that voyage, which Mr. Banks might wish not to be published?
By all accounts then, not even excluding Mr. Parkinson's own state of the cafe, it appears, that after a final end had (by Mr. Banks's justice pushed to the length of great generosity) been put to any further claim on this part of Mr. Parkinson, for any debts or effects of his brother's, he expressed a very natural curiosity to have the perusal of his journal and manuscripts, very lawfully and honourably in Mr. Banks's possession. Upon which Mr. Banks, with a mistrust which Mr. Parkinson has since abundantly justified, expressing an unwillingness to trust them out of his hands, Dr. Fothergill, in that true spirit of humanity which constantly characterises him, observed, that it would be rather hard to deny a brother such a natural gratification, and interceded for Mr. Banks's letting Mr. Parkinson have them, saying, "They should be returned, and no improper use made of them." (See preface, p. xv.)
[Image of page 22]
Now what that improper use meant, I presume, there is no reader who will not instantly construe and allow that Mr. Parkinson was at least in honour bound by it, relatively to Dr. Fothergill, who had thus humanely and kindly undertaken for him.
What the sentiments of an intimate friend of his brother's were, who, in a letter to this Parkinson, accuses him of a treachery and avarice that make him shudder for his treatment of so worthy a person as Dr. Fothergill, the reader may see in page xviii of that preface, and judge whether Parkinson's answer to it does not add to the criminality of the ingratitude and breach of trust contained in the transaction, the meanness of shuffling and equivocation in an endeavour to justify it. Mean while the situation of Dr. Fothergill is singularly cruel; his humanity, his tenderness for a brother's supposed fraternal feelings, a desire of procuring him a satisfaction he judged but natural, having made him undertake for one whom he could not conceive possible to be guilty of so mean, so dishonourable a procedure, have exposed him to the reproaches of Mr. Banks, if one so much of a gentleman as Mr. Banks could be capable of not doing justice to the intention, however hurt by the consequences: while, on the other hand, Mr. Parkinson has in his preface aimed at presenting him to the publick in the light of one who is an accomplice of Mr. Banks's in his oppressive procedure, and partial to his injustice, at the same that it will clearly appear, that nothing could be more generous than Mr. Bank's dealing with Mr. Parkinson; nor more humane and friendly, than Dr. Fothergill's interposition in his favour. And such his return from him! Upon which let the reader himself decide, whether this case is not one of those that may fairly be added to the catalogue, already terribly too long, of instances of the danger of doing good. And the reader will also please to observe, that in the premises there have been no consequences drawn but what palpably arise from facts of Mr. Parkinson's own furnishing.
[Image of page 23]
[Image of page 24]