The Endeavour Journal of Sir Joseph Banks/January 1769
- 1769 January 1.
New years day today made us pass many Compts and talk much of our hopes for success in the year 69. Many whales were about the ship today and much sea weed in large lumps but none near enough to be caught.
In the Evening rather squally; the true sea green colour upon the surface of the water was often to be seen now between the squalls, or rather under the black clouds when they were about half a mile from the ship. I had often heard of it before but never seen it in any such perfection, indeed most of the seamen said the same, it was very bright and perfectly like the stone calld aquamarine.
- 1769 January 2.
Fresh breezes today. In the Evening, Lat. about 45:30, met with some small shoals of the red lobsters which have been seen by almost every one who has pass'd these seas. They were however so far from couloring the sea red as Dampier and Cowley say that I may affirm that we never saw more than a few hundreds of them at a time, we took however several in the Casting and hoave netts and describd them by the name of Cancer Gregarius.
- 1769 January 3.
Lat: 47:17, all hands looking out for Pepys's Island; about observing time an appearance was seen to the westward so like an Island that we bear away after it almost assurd that it is Land as the midshipman at the mast head declard; for half an hour, which time he had steadily lookd at it, it did not alter its appearance at all, however about 4 we were convincd that we were in chace of Cape fly away as the seamen call it, no signs of Island or any thing else appearing where it ought to have been.
This Evening many large bunches of sea weed came by the ship; we caught some of it with hooks, it was of an immense size every leaf 4 feet long and the stalk about twelve, the footstalk of each leaf was swelld into a long air vessel. Mr Gore tells me that he has seen this weed grow quite to the top of the water in 12 fathom, if so the swelld footstalks are probably the trumpet grass or weed of the Cape of Good Hope; we describd it however as it appeard and calld it Fucus Giganteus. Here were also this Evening large quantities of a small bird somewhat like Mother Careys chickens but rather larger and grey on the back, and plenty of Albatrosses indeed we have seen more or less of them every day for some time.
- 1769 January 4.
Blew fresh today and night: the officer of the watch told me that in the night the sea was very much illuminated in patches of many Yards wide which appeard of a pale light colour.
- 1769 January 5.
Fair wind: the sea very light at night more so than ever I had seen it, so that the ships course and every curl of a wave was of a light colour, but none of the light patches seen last night were now observd, which were cheifly remarkable as the animals there must have shone without being agitated. In some of the water taken up observd a small insect of a conical figure, very nimble, who movd himself with a kind of whorl of legs or tentacula round the base of the cone; we could not find any nereides or indeed any other insect than this in the water but were not able to prove that he causes the light so deferrd our observations on him till the morning.
- 1769 January 6.
Blew fresh foul wind, forcd to throw away the insects taken last night from the ship having so much motion. The Southeast wind now became very cold, to us at least so lately come from the Torrid Zone. Therm at noon 48. All hands bend their Magellan Jackets (made of a thick woolen stuff allowd them by the goverment calld fearnought) and myself put on flannel Jacket and waistcoat and thick trousers. In the Evening blew strong, at night a hard gale, ship brought too under a mainsail; during the course of this my Bureau was overset and most of the books were about the Cabbin floor, so that with the noise of the ship working, the books etc. running about, and the strokes our cotts or swinging beds gave against the top and sides of the Cabbin we spent a very disagreable night. We this morn expected to have made Falklands Islands where we intended to put in for a small time, so the missing of them which we much fear was a great disapointment to me, as I fear I shall not now have a single oppertunity of observing the produce of this part of the world.
- 1769 January 7.
Blew strong, yet the ship still Laying too, now for the first time saw some of the Birds calld Penguins by the southern navigators; they seem much of the size and not unlike alca pica but are easily known by streaks upon their faces and their remarkably shrill cry different from any sea bird I am acquainted with. We saw also several seals but much smaller than those which I have seen in Newfoundland and black, they generaly appeard in lively action leaping out of the water like porpoises, so much so that some of our people were deceivd by them mistaking them for fish.
About noon weather much more moderate; set the lower sails; before night sea quite down tho the wind still stood at south east. The sea rises and falls quicker in these latitudes than it does about England, which we have observd Ever since we came into variable winds way to the South of the tropicks. During this whole gale we observed vast plenty of birds about us, Procellarias of all the kinds we have before mentiond, the grey ones of the 3d of this month and a kind? all black, procell. aquinoctialis? Linn. but could not discern whether or not their beaks were yellow, and plenty of Albatrosses; indeed I have generaly observd a much greater quantity of birds upon wing in gales of wind than in moderate weather, owing perhaps to the tossing of the waves which must render swimming very uneasy; in this situation they must be oftener seen than when they set on the water.
The ship during this gale has shewn her excellence in laying too remarkably well, shipping scarce any water tho it blew at times vastly strong; the seamen in general say that they never knew a ship lay too so well as this does, so lively and at the same time so easy.
- 1769 January 8.
Smooth water and fair wind: many Seals and Penguins about the ship, the latter leaping out of the water and diving instantly so that a person unusd to them might easily be deceivd and take them for fish; plenty also of Albatrosses and whales blowing very near the ship. We were now too sure that we had missd Fauklands Islands and probably were to the Westward of them.
The ship has been observd to go much better since her shaking in the last gale of wind, the seamen say that it is a general observation that ships go better for being what they call Loosnen in their Joints, so much so that in chase it is often customary to knock down Stantions etc. and make the ship as loose as possible.
- 1769 January 9.
Clouds to the westward appear so like land this morn that even our first Lieutenant who prided himself on His judgement in this particular was deceivd. Wind vereable and calmer, many seals and some Albatrosses but none of those whitish birds which we saw in the gale of wind.
- 1769 January 10.
Fine weather: Seals plentifully today and a kind of birds different from any we have before seen, they were black and a little larger than pidgeons, plump like them and easily known by their flapping their wings quick as they fly contrary to the custom of sea birds in general. This evening a shoal of Porpoises swam by the ship different from any I have seen, spotted with large dabbs of white and white under the belly, in other respects as swimming etc. like common porpoises only they leap rather more nimbly, sometimes lifting their whole bodys out of the water.
- 1769 January 11. Terra del Fuego sighted
This morn at day break saw the land of Terra del Fuego, by 8 O'Clock we were well in with it, the weather exceedingly moderate. Its appearance was not near so barren as the writer of Ld Ansons voyage has represented it, the weather exceedingly moderate so we stood along shore about 2 Leagues off, we could see trees distinctly through our glasses and observe several smokes made probably by the natives as a signal to us. The captain now resolved to put in here if he can find a conv[en]ient harbour and give us an opportunity of searching a countrey so intirely new.
The hills within land seemd to be high and on them were many patches of snow, but the sea coast appeard fertile especialy the trees of a bright verdure, except in places exposd to SW wind which were distinguishable by their brown appearance; the shore itself sometimes beach and sometimes rock. At 4 in the evening wind came on shore so stood off.
- 1769 January 12.
This morn make the land again soon after which it dropd calm, in which time we took Beroe incrassata, Medusa limpidissima and plicata and obliquata, Alcyonium anguillare, probably the thing that Shelvocke mentions in his Voyage round the world page 60, Alcyonium frustrum. After dinner a small breeze sprung up and to our great Joy we discoverd an opening into the land and stood in for it in great hopes of finding a harbour; however after having ran within a mile of the shore were obliged to stand off again as there was no appearance of shelter and the wind was on shore.
When we were nearest in we could plainly discover with our glasses spots in which the colour of white and yellow were predominant which we judg'd to be flowers, the white were in large clusters almost every where, the yellow in small spots or patches on the side of a hill coverd with a beautifull verdure; the trees could now be distinguishd very plainly and seemd to be 30 or 40 feet high with flat bushy tops, their trunks in many places were bare and resembled rocks a good deal till the glasses cleard up the deception.
Among the things taken today observd ulva intestinalis and corrallina officin[alis]. The wind very vereable all day, at nine this even the Three Brothers and Sugar Loaf were in sight and we stood gently along shore in hopes to be at the streights mouth by the Morning.
About 6 this even the gentlemen upon deck observd the Sugar Loaf coverd with a cloud for a short time which left it intirely white, they judgd it to have been a fall of snow upon the hill but as I did not myself see it I cannot give my opinion.
- 1769 January 13.
This morn at day break we were at the streights mouth and stood in a little way, but the tide turning against us soon set us out again; at ½ past 8 tide again turnd in our favour but soon after wind came foul so were forcd to turn to windward; the wind soon freshning made us pitch most violently, so much that our Gib netting was quite under water. At 12 today Lat: 54:42. Staten land is much more craggy than Terra del Fuego tho the view of it in Ld Ansons Voyage is exaggerated. About 4 it blew very hard and the tide turning against us quickly drove us out of the streights the second time. At night less wind tho still South West, stood into the Streights the third time and had another violent pitching bout, the tide turnd against us before we are half through so in the morning.
- 1769 January 14.
we found ourselves the third time drove out, wind SSW, Short sea and ship pitching most violently. The Captn stood into a bay just without Cape St Vincent and while the ship plyd off and on Dr Solander and myself went ashore in the boat and found many plants, about 100, tho we were not ashore above 4 hours; of these I may say every one was new and intirely different from what either of us had before seen. The countrey about this bay was in general flat, here is however good wood and water and vast plenty of fowl and in the cod of the bay a flat coverd with grass where much hay might be made. The bay itself is bad affording but little shelter for shipping and in many Parts of it the bottom rocky and foul. This however may be always known in these Countreys by the beds of Fucus Giganteus which constantly grow upon the rock and are not seen on sand or owse; they are of an immence lengh, we sounded upon them and had 14 fathom water; as they seem to make a very acute angle with the bottom in their situation on the water it is difficult to guess how long they may be, but probably they are not less than one half longer than the depth of the water, which gives their lengh to be 126 feet, a wonderfull lengh for a stalk not thicker than a mans thumb.
Among other things the bay affords there is plenty of winters bark, easy to be known by its broad leaf like a laurel of a light green colour and blueish underneath, the bark is easily stripd off with a bone or stick as ours are barkd in England; its virtues are so well known that I shall say little except that it may be us'd as a spice even in culinary matters and is found to be very wholesome. Here is also plenty of wild celery apium antescorbuticum, scurvy grass cardamine antescorbutica, both which are as pleasant to the taste as any herbs of the kind found in Europe and I beleive possess as much virtue in curing the scurvy.
The trees here are cheifly of one sort, a Kind of Birch Betula antarctica with very small leaves, it is a light white wood and cleaves very straight; sometimes the trees are 2 or 3 feet in diameter and run 30 or 40 feet in the bole; possibly they might in cases of nescessity supply topmasts. Here are also great plenty of cranberries both white and red, Arbutus rigida. Inhabitants I saw none but found their hutts in two places, once in a thick wood and again close by the beach; they are most unartificaly made, Conical but open on one side where was marks of fire so that probably the fire servd them instead of a door.
- 1769 January 15.
Stopd tide this morn in a bay on the Terra del Fuego side of the water, probably Prince Maurice's Bay, which servd our purpose very well; at 10 tide turnd and we stood out and by dinner came to an anchor in the Bay of Good Success. Several Indians were in sight near the Shore.
After dinner went ashore on the starboard side of the bay near some rocks which make smooth water and good landing. Before we had walkd 100 yards many Indians made their appearance on the other side of the bay, at the End of a sandy beach which makes the bottom of the bay, but on seeing our numbers to be ten or twelve they retreated. Dr Solander and myself then walkd forward 100 yards before the rest and two of the Indians advanc'd also and set themselves down about 50 yards from their companions. As soon as we came up they rose and each of them threw a stick he had in his hand away from him and us, a token no doubt of peace, they then walkd briskly towards the other party and wavd to us to follow, which we did and were receivd with many uncouth signs of freindship. We distributed among them a number of Beads and ribbands which we had brought ashore for that purpose at which they seem'd mightily pleasd, so much so that when we embarkd again aboard our boat three of them came with us and went aboard the ship. Of these one seemd to be a Preist or conjuror or at least we thought him to be one by the noises he made, possibly exorcising every part of the ship he came into, for when any thing new caught his attention he shouted as loud as he could for some minutes without directing his speech either to us or to any one of his countreymen.
They eat bread and beef which we gave them tho not heartily but carried the largest part away with them, they would not drink either wine or spirits but returnd the glass, tho not before they had put it to their mouths and tasted a drop; we conducted them through the greatest part of the ship and they lookd at every thing without any marks of extrordinary admiration, unless the noise which our conjurer did not fail to repeat at every new thing he saw might be reckond as such.
After having been aboard about 2 hours they expressd a desire of going ashore and a boat was orderd to carry them. I went with them and landed them among their countreymen, but I can not say that I observd either the one party curious to ask questions or the other to relate what they had seen or what usage they had met with, so after having stayd ashore about ½ an hour I returnd to the ship and the Indians immediately marchd off from the shore.
- 1769 January 16.
This morn very early Dr Solander and myself with our servants and two Seamen to assist in carrying baggage, accompanied by Msrs Monkhouse and Green, set out from the ship to try to penetrate into the countrey as far as we could, and if possible gain the tops of the hills where alone we saw places not overgrown with trees. We began to enter the woods at a small sandy beach a little to the westward of the watering place and continued pressing through pathless thickets, always going up hill, till 3 o'Clock before we gaind even a near view of the places we intended to go to. The weather had all this time been vastly fine much like a sunshiny day in May, so that neither heat nor cold was troublesome to us nor were there any insects to molest us, which made me think the traveling much better than what I had before met with in Newfoundland.
Soon after we saw the plains we arrivd at them, but found to our great disapointment that what we took for swathe was no better than low bushes of birch about reaching a mans middle; these were so stubborn that they could not be bent out of the way, but at every step the leg must be lifted over them and on being plac'd again on the ground was almost sure to sink above the anckles in bog. No traveling could possibly be worse than this which seemd to last about a mile, beyond which we expected to meet with bare rock, for such we had seen from the tops of lower hills as we came: this I particularly was infinitely eager to arrive at expecting there to find the alpine plants of a countrey so curious. Our people tho rather fatigued were yet in good spirits so we pushd on intending to rest ourselves as soon as we should arrive at plain ground.
We proceeded two thirds of the way without the least difficulty and I confess I thought for my own part that all difficulties were surmounted when Mr Buchan fell into a fit. A fire was immediately lit for him and with him all those who were most tird remaind behind, while Dr Solander Mr Green Mr Monkhouse and myself advancd for the alp which we reachd almost immediately, and found according to expectation plants which answerd to those we had found before as alpine ones in Europe do to those which we find in the plains.
The air was here very cold and we had frequent snow blasts. I had now intirely given over all thoughts of reaching the ship that night and though[t] of nothing but getting into the thick of the wood and making a fire, which as our road lay all down hill seemd very easy to accomplish, so Msrs Green and Monkhouse returnd to the people and appointed a hill for our general rendevous from whence we should proceed and build our wigwam. The cold now increased apace, it might be near 8 O'Clock tho yet exceedingly good daylight so we proceeded for the nearest valley, where the short Birch, the only thing we now dreaded, could not be ½ a mile over. Our people seemd well tho cold and Mr Buchan was stronger than we could have expected. I undertook to bring up the rear and se[e] that no one was left behind. We passd about half way very well when the cold seemd to have at once an effect infinitely beyond what I have ever experienced. Dr Solander was the first who felt it, he said he could not go any fa[r]ther but must lay down, tho the ground was coverd with snow, and down he laid notwithstanding all I could say to the contrary. Richmond a black Servant now began also to lag and was much in the same way as the dr: at this Juncture I dispatchd 5 forwards of whom Mr Buchan was one to make ready a fire at the very first convenient place they could find, while myself with 4 more staid behind to persuade if possible the dr and Richmond to come on. With much persuasion and intreaty we got through much the largest part of the Birch when they both gave out; Richmond said that he could not go any further and when told that if he did not he must be Froze to death only answerd that there he would lay and dye; the Dr on the contrary said that he must sleep a little before he could go on and actualy did full a quarter of an hour, at which time we had the welcome news of a fire being lit about a quarter of a mile ahead. I then undertook to make the Dr Proceed to it; finding it impossible to make Richmond stir left two hands with him who seemd the least affected with Cold, promising to send two to releive them as soon as I should reach the fire. With much difficulty I got the Dr to it and as soon as two people were sufficiently warmd sent them out in hopes that they would bring Richmond and the rest; after staying about half an hour they returnd bringing word that they had been all round the place shouting and hallowing but could not get any answer. We now guess'd the cause of the mischeif, a bottle of rum the whole of our stock was missing, and we soon concluded that it was in one of their Knapsacks and that the two who were left in health had drank immoderately of it and had slept like the other.
For two hours now it had snowd almost incessantly so we had little hopes of seeing any of the three alive: about 12 however to our great Joy we heard a shouting, on which myself and 4 more went out immediately and found it to be the Seaman who had wakd almost starvd to death and come a little way from where he lay. Him I sent back to the fire and proceeded by his direction to find the other two, Richmond was upon his leggs but not able to walk the other lay on the ground as insensible as a stone. We immediately calld all hands from the fire and attempted by all the means we could contrive to bring them down but finding it absolutely impossible, the road was so bad and the night so dark that we could scarcely ourselves get on nor did we without many Falls. We would then have lit a fire upon the spot but the snow on the ground as well as that which continualy fell renderd that as impracticable as the other, and to bring fire from the other place was also impossible from the quantity of snow which fell every moment from the branches of the trees; so we were forc'd to content ourselves with laying out our unfortunate companions upon a bed of boughs and covering them over with boughs also as thick as we were able, and thus we left them hopeless of ever seeing them again alive which indeed we never did.
In these employments we had spent an hour and a half expos'd to the most penetrating cold I ever felt as well as continual snow. Peter Briscoe, another servant of mine, began now to complain and before we came to the fire became very ill but got there at last almost dead with cold.
Now might our situation truely be calld terrible: of twelve our original number 2 were already past all hopes, one more was so ill that tho he was with us I had little hopes of his being able to walk in the morning, and another very likely to relapse into his fitts either before we set out or in the course of our journey: we were distant from the ship we did not know how far, we knew only that we had been the greatest past of a day in walking it through pathless woods: provision we had none but one vulture which had been shot while we were out, and at the shortest allowance could not furnish half a meal: and to compleat our misfortunes we were caught in a snow storm in a climate we were utterly unaquainted with but which we had reason to beleive was as inhospitable as any in the world, not only from all the accounts we had heard or read but from the Quantity of snow which we saw falling, tho it was very little after midsummer: a circumstance unheard of in Europe for even in Norway or Lapland snow is never known to fall in the summer.
- 1769 January 17.
The Morning now dawnd and shewd us the earth coverd with snow as well as all the tops of the trees, nor were the snow squalls at all less Frequent for seldom many minutes were fair together; we had no hopes now but of staying here as long as the snow lasted and how long that would be God alone knew.
About 6 O'Clock the sun came out a little and we immediately thought of sending to see whether the poor wretches we had been so anzious about last night were yet alive, three of our people went but soon returnd with the melancholy news of their being both dead. The snow continued to fall tho not quite so thick as it had done; about 8 a small breeze of wind sprung up and with the additional power of the sun began (to our great Joy) to clear the air, and soon after we saw the snow begin to fall from the tops of the trees, a sure sign of an aproaching thaw. Peter continued very ill but said he thought himself able to walk. Mr Buchan thank god was much better than I could have expected, so we agreed to dress our vulture and prepare ourselves to set out for the ship as soon as the snow should be a little more gone off: so he was skinnd and cut into ten equal shares, every man cooking his own share which furnishd about 3 mouthfulls of hot meat, all the refreshment we had had since our cold dinner yesterday and all we were to expect till we should come to the ship.
About ten we set out and after a march of about 3 hours arrivd at the beach,, fortunate in having met with much better roads in our return than we did in going out, as well as in being nearer to the ship than we had any reason to hope; for on reviewing our track as well as we could from the ship we found that we had made a half circle round the hills, instead of penetrating as we thought we had done into the inner part of the cuntrey. With what pleasure then did we congratulate each other on our safety no one can tell who has not been in such circumstances.
- 1769 January 18.
Peter was very ill today and Mr Buchan not at all well, the rest of us thank god in good health tho not yet recoverd from our fatigue.
It blew fresh without and made such a heaving swell in the bay that no one could go ashore and even the ship was very uncumfortable, rolling so much that one could scarcely stand without holding.
- 1769 January 19.
The swell still continued and we were again hinderd from going ashore tho the loss of two days out of the short time we had to stay here made the Dr and myself ready to venture any risk. The officer who was sent to attempt landing returnd bringing word that it was absolutely impossible without great danger of staving the boat, if even that would do. Both yesterday and today a good deal of snow fell in squalls.
- 1769 January 20.
Last night the weather began to moderate And this morn was very fine, so much so that we landed without any difficulty in the bottom of the bay and spent our time very much to our satisfaction in collecting shells and plants. Of the former we found some very scarce and fine particularly limpits of several species: of these we observd as well as the shortness of our time would permit that the limpit with a longish hole at the top of his shell is inhabited by an animal very different from those which have no such holes. Here were also some fine whelks, one particularly with a long tooth, and infinite variety of Lepades, Sertularias, Onisci etc. etc. etc. much greater variety than I have any where seen, but the shortness of our time would not allow us to examine them so we were obligd to content ourselves with taking specimens of as many of them as we could in so short a time scrape together.
We returnd on board to dinner and afterwards went into the Countrey about two miles to see an Indian town which some of our people had given us intelligence of; we arrived at it in about an hour walking through a path which I suppose was their common road tho it was sometimes up to our knees in mud. The town itself was situate upon a dry Knowl among the trees, ,which were not at all cleard away, it consisted of not more than twelve or fourteen huts or wigwams of the most unartificial construction imaginable, indeed no thing bearing the name of a hut could possibly be built with less trouble. They consisted of a few poles set up and meeting together at the top in a conical figure, these were coverd on the weather side with a few boughs and a little grass, on the lee side about one eighth part of the circle was left open and against this opening was a fire made. Furniture I may justly say they had none: a little, very little dry grass laid round the edges of the circle furnishd both beds and chairs, and for dressing their shell Fish (the only provision I saw them make use of) they had no one contrivance but broiling them upon the Coals. For drinking indeed I saw in a corner of one of their hutts a bladder of some beast full of water: in one side of this near the top was a hole through which they drank by elevating a little the bottom which made the water spring up into their mouths.
In these few hutts and with this small share or rather none at all of what we call the nescessaries and conveniences of life livd about 50 men women and children, to all appearance contented with what they had nor wishing for any thing we could give them except beads; of these they were very fond preferring ornamental things to those which might be of real use and giving more in exchange for a string of Beids than they would for a knife or a hatchet.
As this is to be the last time of our going ashore on this Island I take this opportunity to give an account of such things the shortness of my stay allowd me to observe.
Notwithstanding almost all writers who have mentiond this Island have imputed to it a want of wood, soon after we first saw it even at the distance of some leagues, we plainly distinguish'd that the largest part of the countrey particularly near the sea coast was coverd with wood, which observation was verified in both the bays we put into, in either of which firing might have been got close by the beach in any quantity, and some trees which to all appearance might be fit for repairing a vessel or even in case of necessity to make masts.
The hills are high tho not to be calld mountains, the tops of these however are quite bare and on them frequent patches of snow were to be seen, tho the time of the year when we were there answerd to the beginning of July in England. In the valleys between these the Soil has much the appearance of Fruitfullness and is in some places of a considerable depth; at the bottom of almost every one of these runs a brook the water of which in general has a reddish Cast like that which runs through turf bogs in England but is very well tasted.
Quadrupeds I saw none in the Island, exept the Seals and Sea lions which we often saw swimming about in the bay might be calld such, but Dr Solander and myself when we were on the top of the highest hill we were upon observ'd the footsteps of a large beast imprinted on the surface of a bog, but could not with any probability guess of what kind it might be.
Land birds there are very Few. I saw none larger than an English blackbird except hawks and a vulture, but water fowl are much more plentyfull; in the first bay we were in I might have shot any quantity of ducks or geese but would not spare the time from gathering plants. In the other we shot some but probably the Indians in the neighbourhood had made them shy as well as much less plentiful, at least so we found them.
Fish we saw few nor could with our hooks take any fit to eat. Shell fish however are in the greatest abundance, limpits, muscles, Clams etc. none of them delicate yet such as they were we did not despise them.
Insects there are very few and not one species either hurtfull or troublesome; all the time we have been here we have seen neither gnat nor musqueto a circumstance which few if any uncleard countrey but this can boast of.
Of Plants here are many species and those truly the most extrordinary I can imagine, in stature and appearance they agree a good deal with the Europaean ones only in general are less specious, white flowers being much more common among them than any other colours. But to speak of them botanicaly, probably No botanist has ever enjoyd more pleasure in the contemplation of his Favourite pursuit than Dr Solander and myself among these plants; we have not yet examind many of them, but what we have have turnd out in general so intirely different from any before describd that we are never tird with wondering at the infinite variety of Creation, and admiring the infinite care with which providence has multiplied his productions suiting them no doubt to the various climates for which they were designd. Trees here are very Few, Birch Betula antarctica, Beach Fagus antarcticus, winters bark Winterana aromatica, the two first for timber the other for its excellent aromatick bark so much valued by Physicians are all worth mentioning; and of Plants we could not ascertain the virtues not being able to converse with the Indians who may have experiencd them, but the Scurvy grass Cardamine antescorbutica and wild Celery Apium antarcticum may easily be known to contain antescorbutick virtues capable of being of great service to ships who may in futurity touch here. Of these two therefore I shall give a short description. Scurvy grass is found plentifully in damp places near springs, in general every where near the beach especialy at the watering place in the Bay of Good Success; when young and in its greatest perfection it lays flat on the ground, having many bright green leaves standing in pairs opposite each other with an odd one at the end which makes in general the 5th on a footstalk; after this it shoots up in stalks sometimes 2 feet high at the top of which are small white blosoms which are succeeded by long podds. The whole plant much resembles that that is calld Ladys Smock or Cuckold flower in England only that the flowers are much smaller. Wild Celery resembles much the Celery in our gardens only that the leaves are of a deeper green, the flowers like it stand in small tufts at the tops of the Branches and are white; it grows plentifully near the Beach, generaly in the first soil which is above spring tides, and is not easily mistaken as the taste resembles Celery or parsley or rather is between. Both these herbs we us'd plentifully while we stayd here putting them in our soup etc., and found the benefit from them which seamen in general find from vegetable diet after having been long deprivd of it.
The inhabitants we saw here seemd to be one small tribe of Indians consisting of not more than 50 of all ages and sexes. They are of a reddish Colour nearly resembling that of rusty iron mixd with oil: the men large built but very clumsey, their hight from 5 ft 8 to 5 ft 10 nearly and all very much of the same size, the women much less seldom exceeding 5 ft. Their Cloaths are no more than a kind of cloak of Guanicoe or seal skin thrown loose over their shoulders and reaching down nearly to their knees; under this they have nothing at all nor any thing to cover their feet, except a few of them had shoes of raw seal hide drawn loosely round their instep like a purse. In this dress there is no distinction between men and women, except that the latter have their cloak tied round their middle with a kind of belt or thong and a small flap of leather hanging like Eve's fig leaf over those parts which nature teaches them to hide; which precept tho she has taught to them she seems intirely to have omitted with the men, for they continualy expose those parts to the view of strangers with a carelessness which thoroughly proves them to have no regard to that kind of decency.
Their ornaments of which they are extreemly fond consist of necklaces or rather Solitaires of shells and braceletts which the women wear both on their wrists and legs, the men only on their wrists, but to compensate for the want of the other they have a kind of wreath of brown worsted which they wear over their Foreheads so that in reality they are more ornamented than the women.
They paint their faces generaly in horizontal lines just under their eyes and sometimes make the whole region of their eyes white, but these marks are so much varied that no two we saw were alike: whether as marks of distinction or mere ornaments I could not at all make out.
They seem also to paint themselves with something like a mixture of grease and soot for particular occasions, as when we went to their town there came two out to meet us who were dawb'd with black lines all manner of ways so as to form the most diabolical countenance imaginable, and these two seemd to exorcise us or at least made a loud and long harangue which did not seem to be address'd either to us or any of their countreymen.
Their language is guttural especialy in some particular words which they seem to express much as an Englishman when he hawks to clear his throat, but they have many words that sound so ft enough. During our stay among them I could learn but two of their words, Nalleca which signified beads, at least so they always said when they wanted them instead of the ribbands or other trifles which I offerd them, and oouda which signified water, or so they said when we took them ashore from the ship and by signs ask'd where water was: oouda was their answer, making the sign of drinking and pointing to our casks as well as to the place where we put them ashore and found plenty of water.
Of Civil goverment I saw no signs, no one seemd to be more respected than another nor did I ever see the least appearance of Quarreling or words between any two of them. Religion also they seemd to be without, unless those people who made strange noises that I have mentiond before were preists or exorcisers which opinion is merely conjectural.
Their food at least what we saw them make use of was either Seals or shell fish. How they took the former we never saw but the latter were collected by the women, whose business it seemd to be to attend at low water with a basket in one hand, a stick with a point and barb in the other, and a satchel on their backs which they filld with shell fish, loosning the limpits with the stick and putting them into the basket which when full was emty'd into the satchel.
Their arms consisted of Bows and arrows, the former neatly enough made the latter neater than any I have seen, polishd to the highest degree and headed either with glass or flint very neatly; but this was the only neat thing they had and the only thing they seemd to take any pains about. Their houses which I have describd before are the most miserable ones imaginable and furniture they have none.
That these people have before had intercourse with Europaeans was very plain from many instances: first from the Europaean Commodities of which we saw Sail Cloth, Brown woolen Cloth, Beads, nails, Glass etc., and of them especialy the last (which they used for pointing their arrows) a considerable quantity; from the confidence they immediately put in us at our first meeting tho well acquainted with our superiority; and from the knowledge they had of the use of our guns which they very soon shewd, making signs to me to shoot a seal who was following us in the boat which carried them ashore from the ship. They probably travel and stay but a short time at a place, so at least it should seem from the badness of their houses which seem intirely built to stand but for a short time; from their having no kind of household furniture but what has a handle adapted to it either to be carried in the hand or on the back; from the thinness of their Cloathing which seems little calculated even to bear the summers of this countrey much less the winters; from their food of shell fish which must soon be exhausted at any one place; and from the deserted huts we saw in the first bay we came to where people had plainly been but a short time before, probably this spring.
Boats they had none with them but as they were not sea sick or particularly affected when they came onboard our ship, possibly they might be left at some bay or inlet which passes partly but not all the way through this Island from the Streights of Magellan, from which place I should be much inclind to beleive these people have come as so few ships before us have anchord upon any part of Terra del Fuego.
Their dogs which I forgot to mention seem also to indicate a commerce had some time or other with Europaeans, they being all of the kind that bark, contrary to what has been observd of (I beleive) all dogs natives of America.
The weather here has been very uncertain tho in general extreemly bad: every day since the first more or less snow has fallen and yet the glass has never been below 38: unseasonable as this weather seems to be in the middle of summer I am inclind to think it is generaly so here, for none of the plants appear at all affected by it, and the insects who hide themselves during the time a snow blast lasts are the instant it is fair again as lively and nimble as the finest weather could make them.
- 1769 January 21.
Saild this morn, the wind Foul, but our keeping boxes being full of new plants we little regarded any wind provided it was but moderate enough to let the draughtsmen work, who to do them justice are now so used to the sea that it must blow a gale of wind before they leave off.
- 1769 January 22.
Weather pleasant but a little cold wind came to the Northward and we get a little westing.
- 1769 January 23.
At day break this morn there was land almost all round us, which we judged to be Terra del Fuego not far from the streights and attributed the little way we had made to the streng[t]h of the current setting us to the Eastward. Our old Freind the Sugar Loaf was now in sight who seemd to have followd us, for he was certainly much nearer to us now than he was when we saw him last on the other side of the streights.
- 1769 January 24.
Many Islands about us today: weather very moderate: one of the Islands was surrounded by small pointed rocks standing out of the water like the Needles.
Ever since we left the streights the albatrosses that have flown about the ship have either been or appeard much larger than those seen before we enterd them, but the weather has never been moderate enough to give us an opportunity of getting out a boat to shoot any of them.
- 1769 January 25.
Wind today Northwest: stood in with some Islands which were large, we could not tell for certain whether we saw any part of the main. The little Island mentiond yesterday was in view, and beyond that the land made in a bluf head, within which another appeard tho but faintly which was farther to the Southward; possibly that might be Cape Horn, but a fog which overcast it almost immediately after we saw it hinderd our making any material observations upon it, so all we can say is that it was the Southermost land that we saw and does not ill answer to the description [of] Cape Horn given by the French, who place it upon an Island and say that it is composd of two bluff headlands: v. Navigat aux terres australes tom 1. pag. 356.
- 1769 January 26.
Weather vastly moderate today, wind foul so we were sorry that we had ran away from the land last night.
- 1769 January 27.
Wind came to the northward and we got some little westing, possibly today we were to the westward of the cape, at least a great swell from the NWt makes it certain that we were to the Southward of it. Many large albatrosses d. exulans were about the ship whose backs were very white; at noon a shag Pelecanus antarcticus came on board the ship and was taken. Soon after dinner saw an Island to the northward possibly Diego Ramires.
- 1769 January 28.
Pleasant breezes but a heavy swell from NNW continued and made it likely that we were past the Cape, tho we had made but little westing.
- 1769 January 29.
Wind still Foul and swell continued; today at noon lat. 59.00.
- 1769 January 30.
At noon today Lat 60.04: near calm: almost all navigators have met with Easterly winds in this Lat. so we were in hopes to do the same: towards Even wind got to the Southward.
- 1769 January 31.
Wind SE: stood to the westward with very fine weather.