The Resolution Journal of Johann Reinhold Forster, 1772-1775.

Forster and his father George were the naturalists on Cook’s Second Voyage, aboard Resolution, replacing Sir Joseph Banks who rejected the expedition in a dispute over cabin space, and possibly a mistress. Banks took his library and instruments with him, but the library was somehow replaced by the Forster collection. Anders Sparrman was another scientist who joined the scientific team for the second voyage. The four volumes of Forster’s Journal are studded with references to many books in several languages, mostly dealing with natural history or anthropology (e.g., plant names, the copulation of sea elephants, tattoos and lip piercing, but he quotes Virgil constantly). One may assume with some degree of likelihood that most of the books cited were aboard the ship. Included here are only page numbers of these references. For all the bookish knowledge of the father there is little indication of reading in the Antarctic regions, other than looking up references. [DS]

Volume I:

p. 1-182. Long introduction by the editor (p. 1-122) and beginning of Forster’s Journal (p. 123-182).

p. 12, Johann Forster (age 30 in 1758) on his four-year old son George and his interest in natural history: I wanted to satisfy the inquisitiveness of my dear son accordingly, soon afterwards I went on foot into Danzig and purchased the Halle edition of Linné’s Systema Naturae, together with Ludwig’s Definitiones Generum plantarum, edited by Boehmer, and the Philosophica botanica of the great Linné; I then commenced to learn natural history anew with great industry and to make myself acquainted, aided by these and other books which my friends passed to me, with the plants, insects, birds, fishes and reptiles of my neighbourhood: then I dictated the names as well as the peculiarities, economy and characteristic of the plants and animals to my son. [From an unpublished obituary for his son who died four years before the elder Forster.]

p. 63-64: A detailed reading of Forster’s text makes it clear that he took with him or had access in the Resolution to a comprehensive library of travel, anthropological and natural history and other scientific literature. This is, perhaps, one of the most remarkable facts to emerge from the editing of the Journal, confirming in a tangible way the clear claim that Forster must now be considered as the best read and most learned of Cook’s scientists. He was certainly the most professional. The interested study of Cook’s science will, I hope, be able to trace more fully the exact state of Forster’s Resolution library and his access to other references. [From the editor’s introduction.]

p. 145-46. [An example of his references from the July 29th, 1772 entry about Madeira: The foreigners keep very good horses, to go to their Country houses or they are carried in a hammock on Men’s shoulders, in the Brasilian manner represented in Frezier’s Voyages. 298. T. 35 of the English Edition, & in Barrere’s Voyage to Guiana & Cayenne.]

Forster references in his Resolution Journal to other works: 146, 150, 154, 155, 161, 170.

Volume II: (p. 183-370); Forster references to other works: p. 223, 234, 269, 292, and 366.

Volume III: (p. 371-554): Forster references to other works: p. 385, 387, 385, 387, 462, 481, 489, 497, 508, and 553.

Volume IV: (p. 555-831): Forster references to other works: p. 616, 617, 630, 631, 632, 633, 693, 701, 704, 705, 708, 709, 712, 734, and 752.