The Endeavour Journal of Sir Joseph Banks/April 1770

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1770 April 1.

Fresh breeze and fair all day.

1770 April 2.

Wind more to the westward but still fair.--Our malt having turnd out so indifferent that the Surgeon made little use of it a method was thought of some weeks ago to bring it into use, which was to make as strong a wort with it as possible and in this boil the wheat which is servd to the People for breakfast. It made a mess far from unpleasant which the people soon grew very fond of: myself who have for many months constantly breakfasted upon the same wheat as the people, either did or at least thought that I receivd great benefit from the use of this mess, it totaly banishd in me that troublesome Costiveness which I beleive most people are subject to when at sea. Whether or no this is a more beneficial method of administering wort as a preventative than the common must be left to the faculty, especialy that excellent surgeon Mr M'Bride whose ingenious treatise on the sea scurvy can never be enough commended. For my own part I should be inclind to beleive that the salubrious qualities of the wort which arise from fermentation might in some degree at least be communicated to the wheat when thouroughly saturated with its particles, which would consequently acquire a virtue similar to that of fresh vegetables, the most powerfull resisters of Sea scurvy known.

1770 April 3.

Wind as yesterday: we got fast on to the Westward but the Compass shewd that the hearts of our people hanging that way caus'd a considerable North variation which was sensibly felt by our navigators, who calld it a current as they usualy do every thing which makes their reconings and observations disagree.

1770 April 4.

Wind and weather precisely as yesterday.

1770 April 5.

Wind is rather abated and weather considerably milder. The Captn told me that he has during this whole vo[y]age observd that between the degrees of 40¡ and 37¡ South latitude the Weather becomes suddenly milder in a very great degree, not only in the temperature of the air but in the Strenght and frequency of the gales of wind, which increase very much in going towards 40 and decrease in the same proportion as you aproach 37.

1770 April 6.

Almost calm, the air very mild. Some dusky colourd birds were seen by Tupia and the Master who both sayd they were of a sort which they had not seen before. Tupia also declard that he saw a flying fish, no one else however observd it.

1770 April 7.

Almost calm: the air both yesterday and today was damp so that many things began to mould. The sun today had greater power and heat than we had felt for some months past.

1770 April 8.

No swell today, Very light breezes, sun and air much as yesterday.

1770 April 9.

Fair breeze tho very little of it: the Sea both yesterday and today was as smooth as a millpool, no kind of swell ranging in any direction. In the Morn a red taild Tropick bird was seen who hoverd some time over the ship but except him few or no Birds appeard.

1770 April 10.

Another red taild tropick bird was seen today and a Flying fish. Weather as it has now been for several days rather troublesomly warm and the Sea most uncommonly smooth.

1770 April 11.

Calm: myself went out a shooting and killd Diomedea exulans and impavida, saw profuga; Procellaria melanopus, Velox, Oceanica, Vagabunda and longipes, Nectris fuliginosa, which I find to be the same bird as was seen by the Master and Tupia on the 6th. Took up with dipping net Mimus volutator, Medusa pelagica, Dagysa cornuta, Phyllodoce velella and Holothuria obtusata, of which last an Albatross that I had shot dischar [g]d a large quantity, incredible as it may appear that any animal should feed upon this blubber, whose stings innumerable give a much more Acute pain to a hand which touches them than Nettles.

1770 April 12.

Calm again: I again went out in my small boat and shot much the same birds as yesterday; took up also cheifly the same animals to which was added indeed Actinia natans. I again saw undoubted proofs that the Albatrosses eat Holothurias or Portugese men of War as the sea men call them. I had also an opportunity of observing the manner in which this animal stings. The body of it Consists of a bladder on the upper side of which is fixd a kind of Sail which he erects or depresses at pleasure; the edges of this he also at pleasure gathers in so as to make it Concave on one side and convex on the other, varying the concavity or convexity to which ever side he pleases for the conveniency of catching the wind, which moves him slowly upon the surface of the sea in any direction he pleases. Under the bladder hang down two kinds of strings, one smooth and transparent which are harmless, the other full of small round knobbs having much the appearance of small beads strung, these he contracts or extends sometimes to the lengh of 4 feet. Both these and the others are in this species of a lovely ultramarine blew, but in the more common one which is many times larger than this being near as large as a Goose egg, they are of a fine red. With these latter however he does his mischeif, stinging or burning as it is calld if touchd by any substance: they immediately exsert millions of exceeding fine white threads about a line in lengh which peirce the skin and adhere to it giving very acute pain. When the animal exserts them out of any of the little knobbs or beads which are not in contact with some substance into which they can peirce they appear very visibly to the naked eye like small fibres of snow white cotton.

1770 April 13.

Calm and fine as Yesterday with the sun as powerfull as ever; last night a great dew fell with which in the morn all the rigging etc. was wet. Myself shooting as usual but saw no new birds except a Gannet which came not near me: of those for these 4 or 5 days past killd a good many, indeed during this whole time they have been tame and appeard unknowing and unsu[s]picious of men, the generality of them flying to the boat as soon as ever they saw it which is generaly the case when at large distances from the land. Took up Dagysa vitrea and Gemma, Medusa radiata and Porpita, Helix Janthina very large, Doris complanata and Beroe biloba. Saw a large shoal of Esox Scombroides leaping out of the water in a very extrordinary manner, pursued by a large fish which I saw but could not strike tho I did two of the former. In the Evening saw several fish much Resembling Bonitos.

The weather we have had for these Nine days past and the things we have seen upon the sea are so extrordinary that I cannot help recapitulating a little. The Weather in the first place which till the fifth was cool or rather cold became at once troublesomely hot bringing with it a mouldy dampness such as we have experiencd between the tropicks: the Thermometer at this time although it shewd a considerable difference in the degree of heat was not near so sensible of it as our bodies, which I beleive is generaly the case when a damp air accompanies warmth. During the continuance of this weather the inhabitants of the seas between the tropicks appeard: the Tropick bird, flying fish and Medusa Porpita are animals very seldom seen out of the influence of trade winds, several others also are such as I have never before seen in so high a latitude and never before in such perfection as now except between the tropicks. All these uncommon appearances I myself can find no other method of accounting for than the uncommon lengh of time that the wind had remaind in the Eastern quarter before this, which Possibly had all that time blown home from the trade wind, and at the same time as it kept the sea in a quiet and still state had brought with it the Produce of the Climates from whence it came.

1770 April 14.

A great dew this morn and Weather as calm as ever; in the afternoon however a small breeze sprang up and increasd gradualy till towards night when a large quantity of Porpoises were seen about the ship.

1770 April 15.

Little or no Dew this morn: the Breeze freshned and came to WNW which soon raisd a sea. Several flying fish were seen today; tho I was not fortunate enough to see any of them yet they were seen by people who I am sure could not be mistaken. After dinner a small Bird of the Sterna kind came about the ship much like the Sterna [] of New Zealand but browner upon the back; it stayd a long time about the ship and seemd to me as if it had lost its way. At night the wind moderated but with it came a kind of invisible spray or mist which thouroughly wetted my hair as I walkd the deck.

1770 April 16.

No dew this morn: weather moderate and cloudy. In the Morn Tupia saw a large float of sea weed and shewd it to one other man; it was however so far from the ship that no one else saw it. At noon Our second Lieutenant observd a small Butterfly as he thought. At night some Thunder and a fresh gale at SW, with a heavy swell which seemd to keep rather to the Westward of the Wind. Many Albatrosses and black shearwaters were about the ship. At night a small land bird came on board about the size of a sparrow; some of the boys tried to catch it but it got from them in the rigging and was never seen after.

1770 April 17.

During last night and this morn the weather was most Variable with continual squalls and wind shifting all round the compass; such weather is often met with in the neighbourhood of land so that with this and the former signs our seamen began to prophesy that we were not now at any great distance from it. A Gannet was seen which flew towards the NW with a steady uninterrupted flight as if he knew the road that he was going led to the shore. In the evening a Port Egmont hen was seen. At night it blew strong at WSW.

1770 April 18.

Stiff gales and a heavy sea from the Westward. In the morn a Port Egmont hen and a Pintado bird were seen, at noon two more of the former. At night the weather became rather more moderate and a shoal of Porpoises were about the Ship which leapd out of the water like Salmons, often throwing their whole bodies several feet high above the surface.

1770 April 19. New Holland sighted

With the first day light this morn the Land was seen, at 10 it was pretty plainly to be observd; it made in sloping hills, coverd in Part with trees or bushes, but interspersd with large tracts of sand. At Noon the land much the same. We were now sailing along shore 5 or 6 Leagues from it, with a brisk breeze of wind and cloudy unsettled weather, when we were calld upon deck to see three water spouts, which at the same time made their appearance in different places but all between us and the land. Two which were very distant soon disapeard but the third which was about a League from us lasted full a quarter of an hour. It was a column which appeard to be of about the thickness of a mast or a midling tree, and reachd down from a smoak colourd cloud about two thirds of the way to the surface of the sea; under it the sea appeard to be much troubled for a considerable space and from the whole of that space arose a dark colourd thick mist which reachd to the bottom of the pipe. When it was at its greatest distance from the water the pipe itself was perfectly transparent and much resembled a tube of glass or a Column of water, if such a thing could be supposd to be suspended in the air; it very frequently contracted and dilated, lenghned and shortned itself and that by very quick motions; it very seldom remaind in a perpendicular direction but Generaly inclind either one way or the other in a curve as a light body acted upon by wind is observd to do. During the whole time that it lasted smaler ones seemd to attempt to form in its neighbourhood; at last one did about as thick as a rope close by it and became longer than the old one which at that time was in its shortest state; upon this they Joind together in an instant and gradualy contracting into the Cloud disapeard.

1770 April 20.

The countrey this morn rose in gentle sloping hills which had the appearance of the highest fertility, every hill seemd to be cloth'd with trees of no mean size; at noon a smoak was seen a little way inland and in the Evening several more.

1770 April 21.

In the morn the land appeard much as it did yesterday but rather more hilly; in the even again it became flatter. Several smoaks were seen from whence we concluded it to be rather more populous; at night five fires.

1770 April 22.

The Countrey hilly but rising in gentle slopes and well wooded. A hill was in sight which much resembled those dove houses which are built four square with a small dome at the top. In the morn we stood in with the land near enough to discern 5 people who appeard through our glasses to be enormously black: so far did the prejudices which we had built on Dampiers account influence us that we fancied we could see their Colour when we could scarce distinguish whether or not they were men.--Since we have been on the coast we have not observd those large fires which we so frequently saw in the Islands and New Zealand made by the Natives in order to clear the ground for cultivation; we thence concluded not much in favour of our future freinds.--It has long been an observation among us that the air in this Southern hemisphere was much clearer than in our northern, these some days at least it has appeard remarkably so. A headland calld Dromedaries Head, not remarkably high, had been seen at the dist[ance] of 25 L'gs and judgd by nobody to be more than 6 or 8 from us; it was now in sight plain and our distance from it by the ships run was 23 l'gs, yet the Sea men acknowledg'd that tho they knew how far it was from them they could not think that it appeard more than 10 l'gs off. The hill like a pigeon house was also seen at a very great distance; the little dome on the top of it was first thought to be a rock standing up in the sea long before any other part was seen, and when we came up with it we found it to be several miles inland.

1770 April 23.

Calm today, myself in small boat but saw few or no birds. Took with the dipping net Cancer Erythroptamus, Medusa radiata, pelagica, Dagysa gemma, strumosa, cornuta, Holothuria obtusata, Phyllodoce Velella and Mimus volutator. The ship was too far from the shore to see much of it; a larger fire was however seen than any we have seen before. The Master today in conversation made a remark on the Variation of the Needle which struck me much, as to me it was new and appeard to throw much light on the Theory of that Phaenomenon. The Variation is here very small, he says: he has three times crossd the line of no variation and that at all those times as well as at this he has observd the Needle to be very unsteady, moving very easily and scarce at all fixing: this he shewd me: he also told me that in several places he has been in the land had a very remarkable effect upon the variation, as in the place we were now in: at 1 or 2 Leagues distant from the shore the variation was 2 degrees less than at 8 Lgs distance.

1770 April 24.

The wind was unfavourable all day and the ship too far from the land for much to be seen; 2 large fires however were seen and several smaller. At night a little lightning to the Southward.

1770 April 25.

Large fires were lighted this morn about 10 O'Clock, we supposd that the gentlemen ashore had a plentifull breakfast to prepare. The countrey tho in general well enough clothd appeard in some places bare; it resembled in my imagination the back of a lean Cow, coverd in general with long hair, but nevertheless where her scraggy hip bones have stuck out farther than they ought accidental rubbs and knocks have intirely bard them of their share of covering. In the even it was calm. All the fires were put out about 5 O'Clock. Several brown patches were seen in the sea looking much as if dirt had been thrown into it, but upon a nearer examination they provd to be myriads of small dagysas.

1770 April 26.

Land today more barren in appearance that we hade before seen it: it consisted cheifly of Chalky cliffs something resembling those of old England; within these it was flat and might be no doubt as fertile. Fires were seen during the day the same as yesterday but none so large.

1770 April 27.

The Countrey today again made in slopes to the sea coverd with wood of a tolerable growth tho not so large as some we have seen. At noon we were very near it; one fire only was in sight. Some bodies of 3 feet long and half as broad floated very boyant past the ship; they were supposd to be cuttle bones which indeed they a good deal resembled but for their enormous size. After dinner the Captn proposd to hoist out boats and attempt to land, which gave me no small satisfaction; it was done accordingly but the Pinnace on being lowerd down into the water was found so leaky that it was impracticable to attempt it. Four men were at this time observd walking briskly along the shore, two of which carried on their shoulders a small canoe; they did not however attempt to put her in the water so we soon lost all hopes of their intending to come off to us, a thought with which we once had flatterd ourselves. To see something of them however we resolvd and the Yawl, a boat just capable of carrying the Captn, Dr Solander, myself and 4 rowers was accordingly prepard. They sat on the rocks expecting us but when we came within about a quarter of a mile they ran away hastily into the countrey; they appeard to us as well as we could judge at that distance exceedingly black. Near the place were four small canoes which they left behind. The surf was too great to permit us with a single boat and that so small to attempt to land, so we were obligd to content ourselves with gazing from the boat at the productions of nature which we so much wishd to enjoy a nearer acquaintance with. The trees were not very large and stood seperate from each other without the least underwood; among them we could discern many cabbage trees but nothing else which we could call by any name. In the course of the night many fires were seen.

1770 April 28. Botany Bay reached

The land this morn appeard Cliffy and barren without wood. An opening appearing like a harbour was seen and we stood directly in for it. A small smoak arising from a very barren place directed our glasses that way and we soon saw about 10 people, who on our approach left the fire and retird to a little emminence where they could conveniently see the ship; soon after this two Canoes carrying 2 men each landed on the beach under them, the men hauld up their boats and went to their fellows upon the hill. Our boat which had been sent ahead to sound now aproachd the place and they all retird higher up on the hill; we saw however that at the beach or landing place one man at least was hid among some rocks who never that we could see left that place. Our boat proceeded along shore and the Indians followd her at a distance. When she came back the officer who was in her told me that in a cove a little within the harbour they came down to the beach and invited our people to land by many signs and word[s] which he did not at all understand; all however were armd with long pikes and a wooden weapon made something like a short scymetar. During this time a few of the Indians who had not followd the boat remaind on the rocks opposite the ship, threatning and menacing with their pikes and swords--two in particular who were painted with white, their faces seemingly only dusted over with it, their bodies painted with broad strokes drawn over their breasts and backs resembling much a soldiers cross belts, and their legs and thighs also with such like broad strokes drawn round them which imitated broad garters or bracelets. Each of these held in his hand a wooden weapon about 2½ feet long, in shape much resembling a scymeter; the blades of these lookd whitish and some though[t] shining insomuch that they were almost of opinion that they were made of some kind of metal, but myself thought they were no more than wood smeard over with the same white pigment with which they paint their bodies. These two seemd to talk earnestly together, at times brandishing their crooked weapons at us as in token of defiance. By noon we were within the mouth of the inlet which appeard to be very good. Under the South head of it were four small canoes; in each of these was one man who held in his hand a long pole with which he struck fish, venturing with his little imbarkation almost into the surf. These people seemd to be totaly engag'd in what they were about: the ship passd within a quarter of a mile of them and yet they scarce lifted their eyes from their employment; I was almost inclind to think that attentive to their business and deafned by the noise of the surf they neither saw nor heard her go past them. At 1 we came to an anchor abreast of a small village consisting of about 6 or 8 houses. Soon after this an old woman followd by three children came out of the wood; she carried several peice[s] of stick and the children also had their little burthens; when she came to the houses 3 more younger children came out of one of them to meet her. She often lookd at the ship but expressd neither surprize nor concern. Soon after this she lighted a fire and the four Canoes came in from fishing; the people landed, hauld up their boats and began to dress their dinner to all appearance totaly unmovd at us, tho we were within a little more than ½ a mile of them. Of all these people we had seen so distinctly through our glasses we had not been able to observe the least signs of Cloathing: myself to the best of my judgement plainly discernd that the woman did not copy our mother Eve even in the fig leaf.

After dinner the boats were mann'd and we set out from the ship intending to land at the place where we saw these people, hoping that as they regarded the ships coming in to the bay so little they would as little regard our landing. We were in this however mistaken, for as soon as we aproachd the rocks two of the men came down upon them, each armd with a lance of about 10 feet long and a short stick which he seemd to handle as if it was a machine to throw the lance. They calld to us very loud in a harsh sounding Language of which neither us or Tupia understood a word, shaking their lances and menacing, in all appearance resolvd to dispute our landing to the utmost tho they were but two and we 30 or 40 at least. In this manner we parleyd with them for about a quarter of an hour, they waving to us to be gone, we again signing that we wanted water and that we meant them no harm. They remaind resolute so a musquet was fird over them, the Effect of which was that the Youngest of the two dropd a bundle of lances on the rock at the instant in which he heard the report; he however snatchd them up again and both renewd their threats and opposition. A Musquet loaded with small shot was now fird at the Eldest of the two who was about 40 yards from the boat; it struck him on the legs but he minded it very little so another was immediately fird at him; on this he ran up to the house about 100 yards distant and soon returnd with a sheild. In the mean time we had landed on the rock. He immediately threw a lance at us and the young man another which fell among the thickest of us but hurt nobody; 2 more musquets with small shot were then fird at them on which the Eldest threw one more lance and then ran away as did the other. We went up to the houses, in one of which we found the children hid behind the sheild and a peice of bark in one of the houses. We were conscious from the distance the people had been from us when we fird that the shot could have done them no material harm; we therefore resolvd to leave the children on the spot without even opening their shelter. We therefore threw into the house to them some beads, ribbands, cloths etc. as presents and went away. We however thought it no improper measure to take away with us all the lances which we could find about the houses, amounting in number to forty or fifty. They were of various lenghs, from 15 to 6 feet in lengh; both those which were thrown at us and all we found except one had 4 prongs headed with very sharp fish bones, which were besmeard with a greenish colourd gum that at first gave me some suspicions of Poison. The people were blacker than any we have seen in the Voyage tho by no means negroes; their beards were thick and bushy and they seemd to have a redundancy of hair upon those parts of the body where it commonly grows; the hair of their heads was bushy and thick but by no means wooley like that of a Negro; they were of a common size, lean and seemd active and nimble; their voices were coarse and strong. Upon examining the lances we had taken from them we found that the very most of them had been usd in striking fish, at least we concluded so from sea weed which was found stuck in among the four prongs.--Having taken the resolution before mentiond we returnd to the ship in order to get rid of our load of lances, and having done that went to that place at the mouth of the harbour where we had seen the people in the morn; here however we found nobody.--At night many moving lights were seen in different parts of the bay such as we had been usd to see at the Islands; from hence we supposd that the people here strike fish in the same manner.

1770 April 29.

The fires (fishing fires as we supposd) were seen during the greatest part of the night. In the morn we went ashore at the houses, but found not the least good effect from our present yesterday: No signs of people were to be seen; in the house in which the children were yesterday was left every individual thing which we had thrown to them; Dr Solander and myself went a little way into the woods and found many plants, but saw nothing like people. At noon all hands came on board to dinner. The Indians, about 12 in number, as soon as they saw our boat put off Came down to the houses. Close by these was our watering place at which stood our cask: they lookd at them but did not touch them, their business was merely to take away two of four boats which they had left at the houses; this they did, and hauld the other two above high water mark, and then went away as they came. In the Evening 15 of them armd came towards our waterers; they sent two before the rest, our people did the same; they however did not wait for a meeting but gently retird. Our boat was about this time loaded so every body went off in her, and at the same time the Indians went away. Myself with the Captn etc. were in a sandy cove on the Northern side of the harbour, where we hauld the seine and caught many very fine fish, more than all hands could Eat.

1770 April 30.

Before day break this morn the Indians were at the houses abreast of the Ship: they were heard to shout much. At su[n]rise they were seen walking away along the beach; we saw them go into the woods where they lighted fires about a mile from us. Our people went ashore as usual, Dr Solander and myself into the woods. The grass cutters were farthest from the body of the people: towards them came 14 or 15 Indians having in their hands sticks that shone (sayd the Sergeant of marines) like a musquet. The officer on seeing them gatherd his people together: the hay cutters coming to the main body appeard like a flight so the Indians pursued them, however but a very short way, for they never came nearer than just to shout to each other, maybe a furlong. At night they came again in the same manner and acted over again the same half pursuit. Myself in the Even landed on a small Island on the Northern side of the bay to search for shells; in going I saw six Indians on the main who shouted to us but ran away into the woods before the boat was within half a mile of them, although she did not even go towards them.