happen, Mr. King, Mr. Bayly and myself went ashore, on the small island above-mentioned, to attend the observation. . .
Wednes. 31. Having some cocoa-nuts and yams on board, in a state of vegetation, I ordered them to be planted on the little island where we had observed the eclipse; and some melon-seeds were sown in another place. I also left, on the little island,. a bottle containing this inscription:

                                                                              Georgius Tertius, Rex. JI Decembris, I777

                                                                              R {Resolution, Jac. Cook, Pr.
                                                                              Discovery, Car. Clerke, Pr.

As we kept our Christmas here, I called this discovery Christmas Island. . .

    Although Cook's claim to be the discoverer of Christmas Island has never been successfully challenged, there is evidence that the island was visited previously and temporarily inhabited-possibly by Polynesian castaways and natives in search of more fertile lands. Numerous archeological sites point to this. Apart from shipwrecked crews (the eastern coast forms a deep bay aptly called the Bay of Wrecks), the island appears to have remained unoccupied for more than 40 years after Cook's landing.
    Then British and American whalers began occasionally to touch at the island in order to rest their crews and load their vessels with turtle and sea-birds' eggs. From that time Christmas became well known to the sperm whalers and later to vessels from the Hawaiian Islands engaged in shark fishery. Little is known about these early visitors, except that one of them, an American, Captain John Stetson, reported having landed on the island from the American ship Equator on the 15th February, 1825, while another, the Englishman, Captain W. T. Brookes, referred to the island as a source of supplies in his log of January, 1829. No further printed record of a visit to Christmas appeared, in fact, until F. D. Bennett, a naturalist and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, landed there on the 6th May, 1835. Bennett, who was able to make his way "round more than two-thirds of its coast", found the island uninhabited and discovered the yams, melons and coconuts planted by Cook, and the bottle and inscription left to commemorate his discovery, had all disappeared. Nevertheless, the island must have been visited fairly recently, for he found that "more than fifty" of the coconut palms had been "laid prostrate by fire and axe-the mischievous work of some visitors, who (apparently to commemorate their exertions) had left their names engraved on the trunks of the surviving trees".
    The presence of coconut trees with names carved upon them-including "the names of several whale ships"-was also noted by the next known visitor to the island-Captain George Benson, of the British whaling ship Briton, who, with his crew, was wrecked on Christmas on the l0th October, 1836, and who remained there until taken off by the American whaler, Charles Prederic, on the 23rd May, 1837. During the seven months that he was on the island Captain Benson spent much time exploring parts which Cook had not been able to visit, and took no less than "150 sights" in order to check the navigator's bearings; upon reaching Honolulu he wrote an interesting account of his findings in the Hawaian Spectator.

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