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In the long run, however, Robertson’s impressions shaped Cook's instructions. When Wallis returned to England Lord Egmont, no longer in office but still a figure of significance, interviewed him, found him evasive, and concluded he was dealing with concealment as well as failure. A handwritten note thought to have come from the former First Lord suggested Wallis and his First Lieutenant deemed it "too hazardous under these circumstances, to coast the Continent (which they had then actually in view) and afterwards thought most prudent on their return, not to take notice that they had ever seen it at all.”

 So Wallis did not attempt to explore to the south when he left Tahiti on a westerly course on 27 July 1767. He passed Moorea and three smaller islands, and by mid-August was in northern Tongan waters. From there, Wallis made for Tinian, where he spent a month from 19 September. He spent another three weeks at Batavia and then sailed for home via the Cape.

The Dolphin reached the Downs on 28 May 1768, with Wallis still seriously ill. Carteret, at that point, was dealing with obstinate Dutch bureaucrats in Makassar who refused to allow the Swallow to reach Batavia for a much-needed refit. While he eventually got his way, it would be almost another year before the Swallow managed to return home. She was passed by Bougainville on the home stretch on 19 February 1769 and finally reached Spithead on 20 March. By that time Cook and the Endeavour had been at sea for eight months and was less than a month away from Tahiti.

© Ian Hughes 2017