The Endeavour Journal of Sir Joseph Banks/January 1770

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1770 January 1.

The new year began with more moderate weather than the old one ended with, but wind as foul as ever. We venturd to go a little nearer the land which appeard on this side the cape much as it had done on the other, almost intirely occupied by vast sands: our Surveyors suppose the Cape shapd like a shoulder of mutton with the Knuckle placd inwards, where they say the land cannot be above 2 or 3 miles over and that here most probably in high winds the sea washes quite over the sands which in that place are low.

1770 January 2.

Weather not yet setled: in the morn we stood S and soon lost sight of the land which we saw no more all day.

1770 January 3.

Stood in for the land with weather more moderate than it has been for some days past: it appeard high but the sides of the hills often interspersd with long tracts of sand even high up, their bottoms were every where coverd with it. Many Albatrosses were about the ship today swimming upon the water in small companies 10 or 20 together.

1770 January 4.

Stood rather nearer the land than yesterday but not near enough to see whether or not it was inhabited: indeed we were obligd to hawl off rather in a hurry for the wind freshning a little we found ourselves in a bay which it was a moot point whether or not we could get out of: indeed I beleive most people thought that we should not till a lucky change in the wind at once allowd us to weather every thing, to our no small Joy who had so lately been in so severe and long a Gale of wind blowing right upon the shore which we had now just weatherd.

1770 January 5.

Blew fresh and we stood out all day maybe rather too sensible of the danger we had escapd yesterday.

1770 January 6.

Calm today: myself in the Boat shot Procellaria longipes, velox and Diomedaea exulans (the Albatross). I had an opportunity to see this last setting upon the water and as it is commonly said by seamen that they cannot in a calm rise upon the wing I tryd the experiment. There were two of them, one I shot dead, the other who was near him swam off near as fast as my small boat could row; we gave chase and came up a little; he attempted to fly by taking the moment of a waves falling but did not succeed. I who was so far off that I knew I could not hurt him fird at him to make his attempts more vigourous, which had the effect for the third effort he got upon the wing, tho I beleive had it not been for a little swell upon the water he could not have done it.

1770 January 7.

Calm again: Myself shooting killd Procellaria longipes and melanopus and saw a turtle Just before sunset who being awake divd immediately. What wind there was was fair tho scarce a breath of it, yet even that made us hope for better times.

1770 January 8.

Our fair wind continued but still so little of it that was there any plenty of Birds or hopes of new ones I could outrow the ship in much. More Land just in sight.

1770 January 9.

Much as yesterday, Land in sight but so faintly seen that a Landsman would scarce distinguish it from Clouds.

1770 January 10.

In the morn a breeze of fair wind put us all into high spirits. The countrey we passd by appeard fertile, more so I think than any part of this countrey I have seen, rising in gentle slopes not over wooded but what trees there were well grown. Few signs of inhabitants were seen, a fire and a very few houses. About noon we passd between the main and a small Island or rock which seemd almost totaly coverd with birds probably Gannets; towards evening a very high hill was in sight but very distant.

1770 January 11.

Calm this morn, some fish were caught: in the even foul wind. Our high hill has been sometimes seen and sometimes wrapped up in clouds, some of our people think it is as high as the Pike of Teneriffe; tho I cannot be of half that opinion yet it is certainly in appearance very like it.

1770 January 12.

This morn we were abreast of the great hill but it was wrappd up in clouds and remaind so the whole day; it is probably very high as a part of its side which was for a moment seen was coverd with snow. The countrey beyond it appeard very pleasant and fertile, the sides of the hills sloping gradualy; with our glasses we could distinguish many white lumps in companies of 50 or 60 together which probably were either stones or tufts of grass but bore much the resemblance of flocks of sheep. At night a small fire which burnd about ½ an hour made us sure that there were inhabitants of whoom we had seen no signs since the 10th.

1770 January 13.

This morn soon after day break we had a momentary view of our great hill the top of which was thick coverd with snow, tho this month answers to July in England. How high it may be I do not take upon me to judge, but it is certainly the noblest hill I have ever seen and it appears to the utmost advantage rising from the sea without another hill in its neighbourhood one 4th part of its hight. At sun set the top appeard again for a few minutes but the whole day it was coverd with clouds.

1770 January 14.

In a large bay calld in the Draughts Murderers bay. We stood across it all day: at night had the appearance of a harbour just ahead of us on the shore of which the natives made a fire: resolvd to stand off and on all night and in the morn go in.

1770 January 15.

In the course of the last night we were drove to the Eastward more than we had any reason to expect, so much that we found ourselves in the morn past the harbour we intended to go into. Another however was in sight into which we went: the land on both sides appeard most miserably barren till we got pretty deep in when it began to mend by gradual degrees. Here we saw some canoes who instead of coming towards us went to an Indian town or fort built upon an Island nearly in the middle of the passage, which appeard crowded with people as if they had flockd to it from all parts; as the ship aproachd it they wavd to us as if to invite us to come to them but the moment we had passd by they set up a loud shout and every man brandishd his weapons which none of them were without. The countrey about us was now very fertile to appearance and well wooded so we came to an anchor about long cannon shot from the fort, from whence 4 Canoes were immediately dispatchd to reconoitre I suppose and in case they were able to take us, as they were all well armd. The men in these boats were dressd much as they are represented in Tasmans figure, that is 2 corners of the cloth they wore were passd over their shoulders and fastned to the rest of it just below their breast, but few or none had feathers in their hair. They rowd round and round the ship defying and threatning us as usual and at last hove some stones aboard which we all expected to be a prelude of some behaviour which would oblige us to fire upon them; but just at this time a very old man in one of the boats express'd a desire of coming on board, which we immediately encouraged, and threw a rope into his canoe by which she was immediately hawld up along side and the old man (contrary to the opinion of all the other Indians who went so far as to hold him fast for some time) came on board, where he was receivd in as freindly a manner as we possibly could and had many presents given to him, with which he returnd to the canoes who immediately joind in a war dance-- whether to shew their freindship or enmity it is impossible to say, we have so often seen them do it upon both those occasions. After this they retird to their town and we went ashore abreast of the ship where we found good wood and water and caught more fish in the Seine than all our people could possibly destroy, besides shooting a multitude of Shaggs. The countrey however did not answer so well to Dr Solander and myself as to the ship, we finding only 2 new plants in the whole even.

1770 January 16.

At day break this morn 3 Canoes and about 100 Indians came to the ship bringing their women with them, a sign tho not a sure one of peacable inclinations. Soon after our longboat put off from the ship with Cask in her, they atempted to follow her on which a musquet loaded with small shot was fird at them which made them immediately return, tho as they were full 100 yards from the ship it is improbable that blood was drawn from any of them. They had in their canoes some fish which they offerd to sell and we to buy, so a man in a small boat was dispatchd among them to trade; he bought several bundles which they sold very fairly when one Indian seeing his opportunity snatchd at the trade which he had in his hand, but missing immediately put himself in a posture of defence flourishing his patoo-patoo as if he meant to strike. A musquet load of small shot was fird at him a few of which struck his knee, the rest missd him, on which they all left of to trade but paddled peaceably enough round the ship and at last came under the stern to Tupia and discoursd with him about their antiquity and Legends of their ancestors.

The women in these canoes and some of the men had a peice of Dress which we had not before seen--a bunch of black feathers made round and tied upon the top of their heads which it intirely coverd, making them look twice as large as they realy were. On seeing this my Judgement paid an involuntary compliment to my fair English countrey women; for led astray by this head dress which in some measure resembles their high foretops I was forward to declare it as my opinion that these were much the hansomest women we had seen upon the coast, but upon their nearer aproach I was convincd that nothing but the head dress had misled me as I saw not one who was even tolerably hansome.

After dinner we went in the boat towards a cove about a mile from the ship. As we rowd along something was seen floating upon the water which we took to be a dead seal; we rowd up to it and it provd to our great surprize to be the body of a Woman who seemd to have been dead some time. We left it and proceeded to our cove where we found a small family of Indians who were a little afraid of us as they all ran away but one; they soon however returnd except an old man and a child who staid in the woods but not out of sight of us; of these people we inquird about the body we had seen. They told Tupia that the woman was a relation of theirs and that instead of Burying their dead their custom was to tie a stone to them and throw them into the sea, which stone they supposd to have been unloosd by some accident.

The family were employd when we came ashore in dressing their provisions, which were a dog who was at that time buried in their oven and near it were many provision baskets. Looking carelessly upon one of these we by accident observd 2 bones, pretty clean pickd, which as apeard upon examination were undoubtedly human bones. Tho we had from the first of our arrival upon the coast constantly heard the Indians acknowledge the custom of eating their enemies we had never before had a proof of it, but this amounted almost to demonstration: the bones were clearly human, upon them were evident marks of their having been dressd on the fire, the meat was not intirely pickd off from them and on the grisly ends which were gnawd were evident marks of teeth, and these were accidentaly found in a provision basket. On asking the people what bones are these? they answerd, The bones of a man.--And have you eat the flesh?--Yes.--Have you none of it left?--No.--Why did not you eat the woman who we saw today in the water?--She was our relation.--Who then is it that you do eat?--Those who are killd in war.--And who was the man whose bones these are?--5 days ago a boat of our enemies came into this bay and of them we killd 7, of whoom the owner of these bones was one.--The horrour that apeard in the countenances of the seamen on hearing this discourse which was immediately translated for the good of the company is better conceivd than describd. For ourselves and myself in particular we were before too well convincd of the existence of such a custom to be surprizd, tho we were pleasd at having so strong a proof of a custom which human nature holds in too great abhorrence to give easy credit to.

1770 January 17.

This morn I was awakd by the singing of the birds ashore from whence we are distant not a quarter of a mile, the numbers of them were certainly very great who seemd to strain their throats with emulation perhaps; their voices were certainly the most melodious wild musick I have ever heard, almost imitating small bells but with the most tuneable silver sound imaginable to which maybe the distance was no small addition. On enquiring of our people I was told that they had observd them ever since we have been here, and that they begin to sing at about 1 or 2 in the morn and continue till sunrise, after which they are silent all day like our nightingales.

A small canoe came this morn from the Indian town: as soon as they came along side Tupia began to enquire into the truth of what we had heard yesterday and was told over again the same story. But where are the sculls, sayd Tupia, do you eat them? Bring them and we shall then be convinced that these are men whose bones we have seen.--We do not eat the heads, answerd the old man who had first come on board the ship, but we do the brains and tomorrow I will bring one and shew you.--Much of this kind of conversation passd after which the old man went home.

1770 January 18.

Among other things that the Indians told us yesterday one was that they expected their enimies to come and revenge the death of the 7 men, and some of our people thought they said that they had intelligence that they were to come as today; which made us observe the Indians town where we thought the people more quiet than usual and seemingly not atending their usual occupations of fishing etc. and no one canoe atempted to come near the ship. After breakfast we went in the pinnace to explore some parts of the bay which we had not seen, as it was immensely large or rather consisted of numberless small Harbours, coves etc.; we found the countrey on our side of the Bay very well wooded every where but on the opposite side very bare. In turning a point today we saw a man in a small canoe fishing who to our surprize shewd not the least fear of us. We went to him and quite alongside his Canoe, he all the while following his occupation. On our desiring him he took up his netts and shewd us his machine, which was a circular net about 7 or 8 feet in diameter extended by 2 hoops; the top of this was open and to the bottom was tied sea Ears etc. as bait; this he let down upon the ground and when he thought that fish enough were asembled over it he lifted it up by very gentle and even motion, so that the fish were hardly sensible of being lifted till they were almost out of the water. By this simple method he had caught abundance of fish and I beleive it is the general way of Fishing all over this coast, as many such netts have been seen at almost every place we have been in. In this bay indeed fish were so plenty that it is hardly possible not to catch abundance whatever way is made use of.

In the course of this days excursion we shot many shaggs from their nests in the trees and on the rocks. These birds we roast or stew and think not bad provisions, so between shaggs and fish this is the place of the greatest plenty of any we have seen.

1770 January 19.

Indians came this morn from another part of the bay where they said was a town which we had not seen: they brought plenty of fish which they sold for nails of which they hade by this time learnt the value.

1770 January 20.

Our old man came this morn according to his promise, with the heads of 4 people which were preservd with the flesh and hair on and kept I suppose as trophies, as posibly scalps were by the North Americans before the Europaeans came among them; the brains were however taken out as we had been told, maybe they are a delicacy here. The flesh and skin upon these heads were soft but they were somehow preservd so as not to stink at all.

We made another excursion today. The bay every where where we have yet been is very hilly, we have hardly seen a flat large enough for a potatoe garden. Our freinds here do not seem to feel the want of such places as we have not yet seen the least apearance of cultivation, I suppose they live intirely upon fish dogs and Enemies.

1770 January 21.

Dr Solander and myself were fishing today with hook and line and caught an immence number of fish every where upon the rocks in 4 or 5 fathom water. We have indeed immence plenty, the Seine is hawld every night and seldom fails to furnish us with as much fish as we can possibly destroy.

1770 January 22.

Made an excursion today in the pinnace in order to see more of the Bay. While Dr Solander and Myself were botanizing the captn went to the top of a hill and in about an hour returnd in high spirits, having seen the Eastern sea and satisfied himself of the existence of a streight communicating with it, the Idea of which had Occurd to us all from Tasmans as well as our own observations.

1770 January 23.

Disagreable day squally with rain so we all staid at home. Mr Monkhouse told me today that the day before yesterday he was ashore in a place where were many Indian houses deserted: here he saw several things tied up to the branches of trees, particularly hair of a man which he brought away with him, enough to have made a sizeable wig. This inducd him to think the place he had seen was a place consecrated to religious purposes. Possibly it was as they certainly have such places among them tho I have not yet been lucky enough to meet with them.

1770 January 24.

Went today to the Heppah or Town to see our freinds the Indians, who receivd us with much confidence and civility and shewd us every part of their habitations which were neat enough. The town was situated upon a small Island or rock divided from the main by a breach in a rock so small that a man might almost Jump over it; the sides were every where so steep as to render fortifications even in their way almost totaly useless, accordingly there was nothing but a slight Palisade and one small fighting stage at one end where the rock was most accessible. The people brought us several Bones of men the flesh of which they had eat, which are now become a kind of article of trade among our people who constantly ask for and purchase them for whatever trifles they have. In one part we observd a kind of wooden Cross ornamented with feathers made exactly in the form of a Crucifix cross. This engagd our attention and we were told that it was a monument for a dead man, maybe a Cenotaph as the body was not there: thus much they told us but would not let us know where it was. All the while we were among the Indians they kept still talking something about gunns and shooting people which we could not at all understand. They did it however so much that it engagd us all so much that we talkd about it in our return, but the more we thought the more dark was the subject till we came on board, when on mentioning [it] I was told that on the 21st one of our officers who went out on pretence of fishing came to the heppah intending at a distance to look at the people: but 2 or 3 canoes coming off towards his boat he imagind that they meant to attack him and in consequence thereof fird 3 musquets, one with shot and 2 with ball, at them on which they very precipitately retird, as well they might who probably came out with freindly intentions (so at least their behaviour both before and since seems to shew) and little expected so rough usage from people who had always acted in a freindly manner to them, and whoom they were not at all conscious of having offended.

1770 January 25.

Dr Solander and myself (who have now nearly exhausted all the Plants in our neighbourhood) went today to search for Mosses and small things, in which we had great success gathering several very remarkable ones. In the evening we went out in the Pinnace and fell in with a large family of Indians, who have now begun to disperse themselves as I beleive is their custom into the different creeks and coves where fish is most plenty, a few only remaining in the Heppah or town to which they all fly in times of danger. These people came a good way to meet us at a place where we were shooting shags and invited us to the place where the rest of them were, 20 or 30 in number, men, women, children, Dogs etc. We went and were receivd with all possible demonstrations of freindship, if the numberless huggs and kisses we got from both sexes old and young in return for our ribbands and beads may be accounted such: they also sold and gave us a good many fish with which we went home well pleasd with our new acquaintance.

1770 January 26.

Went today to take an other view of our new streights the Westermost end of which the Captn was not quite sure of; we found however a hill in a tolerably convenient situation upon which we got and saw the Streight quite open and 4 or 5 leagues wide. We then erected a small monument of stone such a[s] 5 stout men could do in half an hour and laid in it musquet balls beads shot etc. that if perchance any Europeans should find and pull it down they will be sure it is not Indian workmanship. This done we returnd to our dinners of Shags and fish which we had shot and caught in coming and were dressd by the boats crew. In the place we had apointed to dine in was a family of Indians who as usual behavd with much freindship and civility to us, shewing us water etc. from whence we went to the town from whence Indians came on the 19th which was in this arm of the bay. Here we were receivd as usual, every body seemd glad to see us and conducted us through the whole works. The town was much like the other, situated upon an Island or rock so steep in all parts that it was almost in danger of our necks that we climbd up to it; like the other it had also only one fighting stage; it containd maybe from 80 to 100 houses about as many as the other. Just as we were going away our freinds took so great a fancey to our merchandise that they filld our boat full of Dryd fish for which they took nails, ribbands, Paper etc.

1770 January 27.

Indians came aboard in the morn and traded a little, afterwards the Dr and myself went ashore but could find no plants at all. We have I beleive got all that are in our neighbourhood, tho the immense thickness of the woods which are almost renderd impassable by climbing plants intangling every way has not a little retarded us.

1770 January 28.

This morn at day break it Raind very hard but not enough to disturb the concert of our little musical [neighbours] which we every morning attend to with the greatest pleasure, they sung their time till the sun disturbd them as usual; the rain however continued the whole day.

1770 January 29.

This morn Our Old Man (Topaa by name, he that came first on board the ship) came with 3 more Indians in a canoe and unfolded the story of the 19th, saying that 2 Indians were struck with the balls one of whoom was dead, this causd a good deal of conversation in the ship and totaly unfolded the whole affair which had till now been kept a secret from most people. After breakfast the Captn and Dr Solander went out in the Pinnace, myself went ashore to air plants etc. etc. In the even when we all returnd Tupia who had been with some of our people and seen the Indians Told us that what we heard in the morn was absolutely false, that so far from dead nobody was even hurt by the shot. Our Freind Topaa is he says given too much to Lying.

1770 January 30.

Bad weather today rainy: myself out gathering Shells in which I had some success.

1770 January 31.

Day but indifferent so of course but little could be done. Dr Solander and myself fishd a little in the Evening and had good sport.