A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, in His Majesty's Ship, the Endeavour/From England

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A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, in His Majesty's Ship, the Endeavour by Sydney Parkinson
PART I. Comprehending the occurences that happened from the ship's departure from England

On the 22d of July, 1768, I went on board the ship, ENDEAVOUR, then lying in the Galleons Reach, in the river Thames: on the 3d of August arrived in the Downs; and then sailed for Plymouth Sound, where we anchored on the l4th, and took on board some more sea-men, with a few marines. Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, Mr. Green, with their attendants, also joined us at this port; and our number was then increased to ninety six. Having taken in some more stores and guns, and made a few necessary alterations in the ship, on the 26th of August we failed from Plymouth, with the wind at N. N. W. but it did not continue long in that quarter, but changed to S. W. where it held till the 2d of September, soon after which, we discovered Cape Ortugal. From this time, till the 4th of October, we had variable winds, and then we saw Cape Finistere at about ten leagues distance.

We continued our course, and met with no material occurrence till the 12th; then we discovered Puerto Santo, about nine leagues off; soon after we saw the island of Madeira, and, on the 13th, in the morning, anchored in Fonchiale Bay.

This country is very mountainous, yet it is cultivated to the very tops of the mountains; and, being covered with vines, citrons, oranges, and many other fine fruit-trees, it appears like one wide, extended, beautiful, garden. During our stay on this island we resided at Fonchiale, which is the capital. Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander lodged at the house of the British consul, W. Cheap, esq. and made several excursions into the country.

A great part of the best provisions used on this island are imported from England and other parts of Europe, especially such as are eaten at dinner; from whence also they import most of their utensils and wearing-apparel; so that many of the necessaries of life bear a very high price amongst them.

While the ship lay in this harbour, we had the misfortune of losing Mr. Ware, the chief-mate, who was a very honest worthy man, and one of our best seamen. His death was occasioned by an unlucky accident which happened to him while he stood in the boat to see one of the anchors slipped. The buoy-rope happening to entangle one of his legs, he was drawn overboard and drowned before we could lend him any assistance.

Having taken in a supply of water, wines, and other necessaries, on the 19th of September we proceeded on our voyage, with the wind at E. S. E. and on the 22d saw the islands of Salvages, at about two leagues and a half distance. They lie between Madeira and the Canaries, are small and uninhabited.

On the 23d we fell in with the trade-winds at N. E. and on the same day discovered the peak of Teneriffe.

On the 24th we sailed between that peak and the grand Canary islands. In our passage we saw some land birds, and caught two of them, which were very much like our water wag-tail.

On the 29th, we had a view of the island of Bona Vista, at about four leagues distance.

Nothing material occurred from the 29th to the 7th of October; then we had variable winds, with some showers of rain; and the dampness of the air greatly affected all our iron utensils. We caught two sea swallows, and several curious marine animals, of the molusca tribe, such as sea-worms, star-fish, and sea urchins.

On the 21st, we reached the S.E. trade wind, and continued our course without any remarkable occurrence till the 8th of November; then we discovered land at about eight leagues distance, and spoke with the crew of a Portugueze fishing vessel, of whom Mr. Banks bought a great quantity of fish, among which were dolphins and breams, which afforded much speculation to our naturalists. After having left the vessel, we stood in for the land, which proved to be the Brazils; and coasted along the shore till the 13th, and then sailed into the harbour of Rio de Janeiro, which lies in latitude 22° 56’ south, and longitude 42° 45’ west; but before we arrived in the harbour, the captain had sent Mr. Hicks, the first lieutenant, and the chief mate, in the pinnace, to the viceroy, to obtain a pilot; however, as the wind was fair, the captain ventured to continue sailing on, and was assisted by signals from the forts.

The viceroy detained the lieutenant and the mate, and sent back the pinnace with three of his own officers in it (of which one was a colonel) but no pilot. The colonel told us, that our officers would only be detained till the ship should be examined, according to custom: we therefore stood forward into the harbour, and anchored near the north end of Ilhos dos Scobros, or Snakes island; but the colonel would not permit any of us to go ashore.

Our lieutenant had been instructed to evade answering any questions the Portugueze might ask him respecting our destination; or at least to answer them with reserve: the captain thought such questions would be impertinent, as our vessel was a ship of war; and the lieutenant observed these directions.

The viceroy held a council, the result of which was to prohibit any person coming on shore from our ship; but they condescended to order all necessary supplies to be sent to us. We were displeased on receiving this intelligence, as we had expected to have met with agreeable entertainment on shore. Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander appeared much chagrined at their disappointment: but, notwithstanding all the viceroy’s precautions, we determined to gratify our curiosity, in some measure, and having obtained a sufficient knowledge of the river and harbour, by the surveys that we had made of the country, we frequently, unknown to the centinel, stole out of the cabin window at midnight, letting ourselves down into a boat by a rope; and, driving away with the tide till we were out of hearing, we then rowed to some unfrequented part of the shore, where we landed, and made excursions up into the country, though not so far as we could have wished to have done. The morning after we went ashore, my eyes were feasted with the pleasing prospects that opened to my view on every hand. I soon discovered a hedge in which were many very curious plants in bloom, and all of them quite new to me. There were so many, that I even loaded myself with them. We found also many curious plants in the sallading that was sent to us; and desired the people that brought it to procure us, if possible, all the different sorts that grew upon the island.

We had plenty of fish from the markets every day, of which they are furnished with a great variety.

We often picked off some curious molusca from the surface of the sea; and also land insects of several kinds alive, which floated round the ship upon the water.

The country, adjacent to the city of Rio de Janeiro, is mountainous, full of wood, and but a very little part of it appears to be cultivated. The soil near the river is a kind of loam, mixt with sand; but farther up in the country we found a fine black mould. All the tropical fruits, such as melons, oranges, mangoes, lemons, limes, cocoa nuts and plantains, are to be met with here in great plenty. The air, it seems, is but seldom extremely hot, as they have a breeze of wind from the sea every morning; and generally a land wind at night.[1].

On the 7th of December, 1768, our necessary provisions, and other supplies, having been taken on board, we left the harbour of Rio de Janeiro, coasting along the Brazils, and met with nothing worthy of note till the 22d of the same month, except, that in coming out of the harbour, Mr. Flowers, an experienced seaman, fell from the main shrouds into the sea, and was drowned before we could reach him.

On the 22d, we saw a great many birds of the procellaria genus, in latitude 39° 37’ S and longitude 49° 16’ W. and we also met with shoals of porpoises of a very singular species.

On the 23d of December, we observed an eclipse of the moon; and about seven in the morning a bright cloud in the west, from which a stream of fire proceeded: it bore away to the westward, and about two minutes after we heard two loud explosions like that of a cannon; and then the cloud soon disappeared.

On the 24th, we caught a logger-head tortoise, which weighed one hundred and fifty pounds; and shot several birds, one of which was an albatros, that measured, from the tip of one wing to the other, nine feet one inch; and from the beak to the tail two feet one inch and a half. Some time after, we met with some birds of the same kind that measured fourteen feet from the tips of the wings.

The thermometer, in the middle of the day, was from 66 to 69; and in the evening 62, when the air was not so dry.

On the 29th, we saw several parcels of rock weed; and, from this time to the 30th, the weather was very unsettled; the wind sometimes blowing very hard, at others only a moderate gale; and then quite calm.

For several evenings, swarms of butterflies, moths, and other insects, flew about the rigging, which we apprehended had been blown to us from the shore. Thousands of them settled upon the vessel, Mr. Banks ordered the men to gather them up; and, after selecting such as he thought proper, the rest were thrown overboard; and he gave the men some bottles of rum for their trouble.

On the 31st, we had much thunder, lightening, and rain, and saw several whales: we saw also some birds about the size of a pigeon, with white breasts and grey beaks.

On the 4th of January, 1769, we saw a cloud which we took for Pepy’s Island, and made toward it till we were convinced of our mistake. The air at this time was cold and dry, and we had frequent squalls of wind.

On the 6th, we saw several penguins, with many other sea birds; and, on the 7th, had an exceeding hard gale of wind from S. W. in latitude 51° 25’ S. and longitude 62° 44’ W. We supposed ourselves not far from Falkland’s Islands, but, not knowing their longitude, we could not so readily find them.

From several circumstances which occurred on the 8th, it was concluded that we had sailed between Falkland’s Islands and the main land; and were in hopes of touching at the former place, from which we designed to have forwarded some letters to Europe.

On the 11th, we discovered Terra del Fuego; but, having contrary winds, and being apprehensive of danger from the foulness of the ground, which we discovered by sounding, we kept out at sea.

On the 16th, the wind changing in our favour, we approached the land; and at length anchored in Port Maurice’s Bay, situated in latitude 54° 44’ S. and longitude 66° 15’ W. Some of our principal people went ashore, and found several pieces of brown European broad cloth, in a hut that had been deserted by the natives. Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander collected a great number of plants, shot several birds, and returned to the ship much pleased with their adventure.

On the 17th we left Port Maurice’s Bay; and, at about one o’clock in the afternoon, anchored in the bay of Good Success.

  1. S. Parkinson had not been idle from the time he left England, having, as appeared by a letter from him to his brother, finished 100 drawings on various subjects, and taken sketches of many more; which he intended to have finished if he had lived to return.


Plate I. A Man, Woman & Child, of Terra del Fuego, in the Dress of that Country.