A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas
To the Publisher of the Monthly Review
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 page 20remarks 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 straining 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.)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 case, 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 honorably 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.)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 transaćtion, 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 satisfaćtion 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 faćts of Mr. Parkinson's own furnishing.
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