The Endeavour Journal of Sir Joseph Banks/April 1771

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1771 April 3. French Vessels

Theodosio seaman died very suddenly; he had enjoyd an uninterrupted state of Good health during all our times of sickness.

1771 April 7.

The Europa Indiaman Captn Pelley came into the Bay. Of the four French vessels which we found in this Harbour 3 are now saild and the fourth is ready for sea. Of them two were 64 Gun ships, the other a large Snow and the fourth which still remains a frigate. All these Came from the Isle de France for Provision, of which they carry away from hence a prodigious quantity and consequently must have many mouths to feed upon that Island, from whence it is probable they Meditate some stroke at our East Indian Settlements in the beginning of a future war; which however our India people are not at all alarmd at, trusting intirely to the vast standing armies which they constantly keep up, the support of which in the Bengall alone Costs 840000 eight hundred and forty thousand pounds a Year!

Mr De Bougainville pleasd with the Bea[u]ty of the Ladies of Otahite gave that Island the Name of Cypre. In his return home he touchd at Isle de France where the Person who went out with him in the character of Natural Historian was left and still remains. Otorroo the Indian whoom he brought from thence was known on board his ship by the name of Tootavee, a plain corruption of Bougainville, with whoom it may be suppos'd he meant to change names according to his Custom. This man is now at L'Isle de France, from whence a large ship is very soon to Sail and carry him back to his own countrey where she is to make a settlement, in doing which she must Necessarily follow the Tract of Abel Jansen Tasman and consequently if she does not discover Cooks Streights, which in all probability she will do, must make several discoveries on the Coast of New Zealand. Thus much the French who were here made no secret of. How necessary then will it be for us to publish an account of our voyage as soon as possible after our arrival if we mean that our own countrey shall have the Honour of our Discoveries! Should the French have publishd an account of Mr De Bougainvilles voyage before that of the second Dolphin how infallibly will they claim the Discovery of Cypre or Otahite as their own, and treat the Dolphins having seen it as a fiction, which we were enabled to set forth with some shew of truth as the Endeavour realy did See it, a twelvemonth however after Mr De Bougainville; which if England chuses to exert her Prior Claim to it, as she may hereafter do, if the French settle it may be productive of very disagreable consequences. See Account of Cape of Good Hope below.

1771 April 14.

Saild from the Road but having very little wind were obligd to anchor abreast of Robben Island.

1771 April 15.

In the Morn it was quite calm so a boat was hoisted out in order to Land on the Island in hopes of purchasing some refreshments, especialy of Garden stuff and salletting with which two articles it is said to abound; but as soon as the boat came near the shore the Duch haild her and told the people in her at their peril to attempt Landing, bringing down at the same time 6 men with Musquets who paraded on the Beach as long as she stayd, which was but a short time not thinking it worth while to risk landing in opposition to them when a few Cabbages was the only reward to be expected.

This Island which is named after the Seals that formerly usd to frequent it, Calld in Dutch Robben, is low and sandy, situate in the mouth of Table bay. Here are confind such criminals as are judgd not worthy of Death for terms of Years proportiond to the heinou[s]ness of their Crimes; they are employd as Slaves in the Companies Service, cheifly in digging for Lime Stone which tho very scarce upon the Continent is plentifull here. Their reason for not letting foreigners land here is said to be this: formerly a Danish ship which by sickness had lost the greatest part of her crew came into the Cape and askd for assistance, which being refusd she came down to this Island, and sending her boats ashore securd the Guard and took on board as many of the Criminals as she thought proper to navigate the ship home.

In the evening we had a fair breeze of wind with which we put to sea. This night died Mr Molineux Master of the ship.

1771 April 16.

In the Course of this day we took our final leave of the table land, having a pleasant breeze and fair.

1771 April 17.

Many Birds such as Albatrosses and some shearwaters were about the ship, also many peices of Trumpet weed ( ) floating by.

1771 April 18.

Moderate weather but a great rolling sea from the Southward.

1771 April 19.

Got the Wind at NW right in our teeth, not strong however.

1771 April 20.

Wind and weather continuing just as yeste[r]day.

1771 April 21.

Got the Wind again astern with pleasant weather which already alterd much for the warmer.

1771 April 23.

Foul wind again very veerable.

1771 April 25.

Crossd the tropick this day with a fresh breeze of Wind at SW. So far we are unlucky, not having as yet met with the trade wind which ships in general meet about Lat. 30 at this time of the year as we have been told.

1771 April 26.

Saw two Sternas, probably blown off from the Coast of Africa tho they seem little to regard the ship but flew towards the sea. In the even Dr Solander and several more heard a noise rumbling like distant thunder which was in general supposd to be a gun from some ship not in sight; the Dr however thought that its duration was considerably Longer than that of a gun fird in the open Sea where there is no Eccho.

1771 April 27.

A large Shoal of Whales passd us today Who seemd to keep a pretty regular course nearly in the same direction as the ship.

1771 April 28.

This day we crossd our first meridian and Compleated the Circumnavigation of the Globe, in doing which we as usual lost a day which I should upon this occasion have expended properly had not I Lost it the second time I know not how in my irregular journal at the Cape.