The Endeavour Journal of Sir Joseph Banks/September 1768
- 1768 September 1. Coast of Spain
Still Blew, Mother Careys chickens had not yet left us, but towards night wind slackened so that we were again tolerably easy; by our reckoning we must make some part of the coast of Spain before Morning.
- 1768 September 2.
This Morn about 7 saw the coast of Gallicia between Cape Ortegal and Finisterre; weather tolerably fine, so that we could use the casting net, which brought up two kinds of Animals, different from any before taken; they came up in Clusters, both sorts indifferen[t]ly in each Cluster, tho much fewer of the Horned ones than of the others. They seem to [be] two species of one genus, but are not at all reducible to any genus hitherto describd.
- 1768 September 3.
Blew fresh this morn. We were employd all day in describing the animals taken yesterday; found them to be of a new genus and of the same with that taken on the 28 of August Calld the genus Dagysa from the likeness of one Species to a Gem. Towards Even wind fair Settled tolerably fine.
- 1768 September 4.
Calm today; we were employd in fishing with the casting net and were fortunate in taking several specimens of Dagysa saccata adhering together, sometimes to the Lengh of a yard or more, and shining in the water with very beautifull Colours; but another insect which we took today was possest of more beautiful Colouring than any thing in nature I have ever seen, hardly excepting gemms. He is of a new genus and calld  of which we took another species who had no beauty to boast, but this which we called opalinum shone in the water with all the splendor and variety of colours that we observe in a real opal; he livd in the Glass of salt water in which he was put for examination several hours; darting about with great agility, and at every motion shewing an almost infinite variety of changeable colours. Towards the Evening of this day a new phaenomenon appeard, the sea was almost coverd with a small species of Crabbs Cancer depurator of Linnaeus, floating upon the surface of the water, and moving themselves with tolerable agility, as if the surface of the water and not the bottom was their Proper station. Here again as usual our casting net was of great service, we took with it as many as were wanted, and went to bed well contented with the Produce of the day.
- 1768 September 5.
I forgot to mention yesterday that two birds were caught in the rigging, who probably had come from Spain, as we were not then distant above 5 or 6 Leagues, this morning another was caught, and brought to me, but so weak that it dyed in my hand almost immediately; they were all three of the same species, and not describd by Linnaeus, we calld them Motacilla velificans, as they must be sailors who would venture themselves aboard a ship which is going round the world. But to make some balance to our good fortune now become too prevalent, a misfortune happned this morn, equaling almost the worst which our enemies could have wishd; the morn was calm and Richmond employd in searching for what should appear on the surface of the water, a shoal of dagysa's were observd and he Eagar to take some of them threw the cast-net fastned to nothing but his wrist, the string slippd from him and the net at once sunk into the profound never more to torment its inhabitants but Leaving us for some time intirely without a resource, plenty of animals coming past the ship, and no netts but in the hold, stowd under so many things that it was impossible even to hope for their being got out today at least, however an old hoop net was fastned to a fishing rod, and with it one new speces of Dagysa was caught and calld Lobata.
- 1768 September 6.
Fine and calm this morn, immence numbers of Dagysa Lobata floated by, and were taken by our new contrivance, some of them in clusters as many as 14 together, united by a Lobe on the underside. Towards the Middle of the day the sea was almost coverd with dagysa's of different kinds among which two intirely new ones were taken, rostrata and strumosa, but neither of these were observd hanging in clusters as most of the other Species had been, indeed whether from the badness of the new machine or their scarcity I cannot say; only one of rostrata and two of strumosa were taken. It is now time to give some account of the genus of Dagysa, of which there are already six species taken, all agreeing in many particulars vastly well but cheifly in this very singular one, that they have a hole at each end, which holes Communicate by a tube, often as large as the body of the animal, by the help of which they swim with some degree of activity when separated from each other, for several sorts are seen most generaly Joind together, gemma more particularly which adhere in clusters of some hundreds irregularly shap'd; in the midst of these were generaly found a few specimens of cornuta, from which circamstance we may Judge that they are very nearly allied.
It seems singular that no naturalist before this time should have taken notice of thise animals as they abound so much where the ship now is, not twenty Leagues from the coast of Spain; from hence however great hopes may be formd, that the inhabitants of the deep have been but little examind, and as Dr Solander and my self shall have probably greater opportunity in the course of this voyage than any one has had before us, it is a very incouraging circumstance to hope that so large a feild of natural history has remaind almost untrod, even till this time, and that we may be able from this circumstance alone (almost unthought of when we embarkd in the undertaking) to add considerable Light to the science which we so eagerly Pursue.
This Evening a large quantity of the Carcinium opalinum which may be calld opal insect came under the ships stern, making the very sea appear with uncommon bea[u]ty, their colours appearing with vast brightness even at the depth of two or three fathoms, tho they are not more than three lines long and one broad.
- 1768 September 7.
On examining the Dagysa's which were taken yesterday, several small animals were found Lodgd in the hollow parts of their bodys, and some in the very substance of the flesh, which seems to be their food, as many of the dagysas were full of scars which had undoubtedly been the Lodgment of these animals some time before; upon a minute inspection they provd to be animals not to be class'd under any of Linnaeus's genera tho nearly related to Oniscus, from which Circumstance the name of Onidium was given to the new genus, and to them was added an animal taken the 28th of August and mentiond in the second Page by the name of Oniscus Macropthalmos.
In one circumstance these insects differ from any hitherto describd, and in that they all three agree, viz the having two Eyes joind together under one common membrane, without the least distinction or division between them, which circumstance alone seems a sufficient reason for constituting a new genus.
The wind was now fair and we went very pleasantly on towards our destind port, tho rather too fast for any natural Enquiries, for my own part I could well dispence with a much slower pace, but I fancy few in the ship, Dr Solander excepted, are of the same opinion, tho I beleive Every body envyed our easy contented countenances during the last Calm, which brought so much food to our pursuits.
- 1768 September 8.
Blew fresh today, but the wind was very fair so nobody complaind, nor would they was the wind much stronger, so impatient has the Calms and foul wind made every body; by the reckoning we were off Cape St Vincent so shall soon bid adieu to Europe for some time. 1768 September 10.
Since the northerly wind began to blow it has not varied a point, the Sea is now down and we go pleasantly on at the rate of about 6 Knotts; could any contrivance be found by the help of which new subjects of natual history could be taken Dr Solander and myself would be Quite happy, we are forc'd to be content; three days are now passd since any thing has been taken or indeed seen, except a stray turtle who swam by the ship about noon, but was left far behind before any instrument by which he might have been taken could possibly have been got to hand.
Today for the first time we dind in Africa, and took our leave of Europe for heaven alone knows how long, perhaps for Ever; that thought demands a sigh as a tribute due to the memory of freinds left behind and they have it; but two cannot be spard, twold give more pain to the sigher, than pleasure to those sighd for. Tis Enough that they are rememberd, they would not wish to be too much thought of by one so long to be separated from them and left alone to the Mercy of winds and waves.
- 1768 September 11.
Wind fair but rather slackend upon us, nothing however was observ'd, we expected to have made Porto Santo tonight but did not.
- 1768 September 12. Arrived Madeira
This morn Porto Santo and Madeira were in full veiw, they were seen at day break, indeed we had a little overshot them; as the wind was rather scanty we had however no doubt of fetching in at night. Accordingly at ten tonight came to an anchor in Fonchiale bay.
- 1768 September 13.
This morn about 11 the product boat (as it is calld by English Sailors) which is the boat from the oficers of health who must give leave before any ships crew can land, came on board, and we immediately went on shore in the town of Fonchiale, the Capital of the Island, situate in Latitude 32:40 North, calld so from the Fennel which grows in plenty upon the rocks in its neighbourhood and which is calld Funcho in the Portugese Language. Here we immediately went to the house of the English Consul Mr Cheap, one of the first merchants in the place, where we were receivd with uncommon marks of civility; he insisted upon our taking possession of his house and living intirely with him during our stay which we did and were by him furnishd with every accomodation that we could wish. Leave was procurd by him for us to search the Island for whatever natural productions we might find worth taking notice of, people were also employd to procure for us fish and shells which we could not have spard time to have collected ourselves, horses and Guides were also got for Dr Solander and myself to carry us to any part of the Island which we might chuse to visit. But our very short stay which was only five Days inclusive made it impossible to go to any distance, so we contented ourselves with collecting as much as we could in the neighbourhood of the town, never going above three miles from it during our whole stay.
The season of the year was undoubtedly the worst for both plants and insects, being the hight of the vintage, when nothing is green in the countrey but just on the verge of small brooks, by which these vines are waterd; we made shift however to collect specimens of several plants, etc.: of which a catalogue follows as it is not worth while to mix them in the Journal, where they would take up much room.
The five days which we remained upon the Island were spent so exactly in the same manner, that it is by no means nescessary to divide them, I shall therefore only say, that in general we got up in the Morn, went out on our researches, retur[n]d to dine, and went out again in the Evening; one day however we had a visit from the Governor, of which we had notice before and were obligd to stay at home, so that unsought honour lost us very near the whole day, a very material part of the short time we were allowd to stay upon the Island: we however contrivd to revenge ourselves upon his excellency, by an Electrical machine which we had on board; upon his expressing a desire to see it we sent for it ashore, and shockd him full as much as he chose.
While at this place we were much indebted to Dr Heberden, the cheif Physitian of the Island, and brother to the Physitian of that name at London; he had for many years been an inhabitant of the Canaries and this Island, and had made several observations cheifly philosophical, some however were Botanical, describing the trees of the Island: of these he immediately gave us a copy, together with such specimens as he had in his possession, and indeed spard no pains to get for us such living specimens of such as could be procurd in flower.
We tryed here to learn what Species of wood it is which has been imported into England, and is now known to Cabinet makers by the name of Madeira mahogeny, but without much success, as we could not learn that any wood had been exported out of the Island by that name; the wood however of the tree calld here Vigniatico, Laurus indicus Linn. bidds fair to be the thing, it being of a fine grain and brown like mahogeny, from which it is dificult to distinguish it, which is well shewn at Dr Heberdens house where in a bookcase vigniatico and mahogeny were placd close by each other, and were only to be known asunder by the first being not quite so dark colourd as the other.
As much of the Island as we saw shewd evidently the signs of a volcano having some time or other possibly produced the whole; as we saw no one peice of stone which did not evidently shew signs of having been burnt, some very much, especialy the sand which was absolutely cinders. Indeed we did not see much of the countrey, but we were told that the whole was like the specimen we saw of it.
When you first aproach it from seaward it has a very beautifull appearance, the sides of the hills being intirely coverd with vineyards almost as high as the eye can distinguish, which make a constant appearance of verdure tho at this time nothing but the vines remaind green, the grass and herbs being intirely burnt up except near the sides of the rills of water by which the vines are waterd, and under the shade of the vines themselves; tho these very few Species of plants were in perfection the greater part being burnt up.
The people here in general seem to be as idle, or rather uninformd a set as I ever yet saw; all their instruments, even those with which their wine, the only article of trade in the Island is made, are perfectly simple and unimprovd. Their method is this: the Grapes are put into a square wooden vessel, of dimensions according to the size of the vineyard to which it belongs, into which the servants get (having taken off their stockins and Jackets) and with their feet and Elbows squeeze out as much of the Juice as they can; the stalks etc. are then collected, tyed together with a rope and put under a square peice of wood which is pressd down by a Leaver, to the other end of which is fastned a stone that may be raisd up at pleasure by a screw; by this way and this only they make their wine, and by this way probably Noah made his when he had newly planted the first vineyard after the general destruction of mankind and their arts; tho it is not impossible that he might have used a better, if he rememberd the ways he had seen us'd before the flood.
It was with great dificulty that some (and not as yet all) of them were persuaded not long ago to graft their vines and by this means bring all the fruit of a vineyard to be of one sort, tho before the vine which it producd had been spoild by different sorts of bad ones which were nevertheless sufferd to grow, and taken as much care of as the best, because they added to the quantity of the wine. Yet were they perfectly acquainted with the use of grafting, and constantly practisd it on their chestnut trees, by which means they were brought to bear sooner much than they would have done had they been allowd to remain unimprovd.
Wheel carriages I saw none in the Island of any sort or kind, indeed their roads are so intolerably bad that if they had them they could scarcely make use of them: they have however some horses and mules, wonderfully clever in traveling upon them, notwithstanding which they bring to town every drop of wine they make upon mens heads, in vessells made of goat skins. The only imitation of a carriage they have, is a board a little hollowd out in the middle, to one end of which a pole is tyed by a strap of whitleather, the whole machine comeing about as near the perfection of a European cart as an Indian canoe does to a boat with this they move the pipes of wine about the town. Indeed I suppose they would never have made use even of this had not the English introd[u]ced vessels to put their wine in which were rather too large to be carried by hand, as they used to do every thing else.
A speech of their late governeur is recorded here, which shews in what light they are lookd upon even by the Portugese, (themselves I beleive far behind all the rest of Europe, except possibly the Spaniards): it was very fortunate said he that this Island was not Eden in which Adam and Eve dwelt before the fall, for had it been so the inhabitants here would never have been induc'd to put on Cloaths; so much are they resolvd in every particular to follow exactly the paths of their forefathers.
Indeed were the people here only tolerably industrious, there is scarcely any Luxury which might [not] be produc'd that either Europe or the Indies afford, owing to the great difference of Climate observable in ascending the hills; this we experien[c]d in a visit to Dr Heberden, who lives about two miles from the town, we left the Thermometer when we set out at 74 and found it there at 66. Indeed the hills produce almost spontaneously vast plenty of Wallnutts, chestnutts, and apples, but in the town you find some few plants natives of both the Indies, whose flourishing state put it out of all doubt that were they taken any care of they might have any quantity of them. Of these I mention some: the Banana tree, (Musa sapientum Linn.) in great abundance; the guava (Psidium pyriferum Linn.) not uncommon; the pine apple, Bromelia ananas Linn. of this I saw some very healthy plants in the provadores Garden; Mango, Mangifera indica Linn. one plant also of this in the same garden Bearing fruit every year; Cinnamon, Laurus cinnamomum Linn. very healthy plants of this I saw on the top of Dr Heberdens house at Fonchiale, which had stood there through the winter without any kind of Care having been taken of them. These without mentioning any more seem very sufficient to shew that the tenderest plants might be cultivated here without any trouble; yet the indolence of the inhabitants is so great, that even that is too much for them; indeed the policy of the English here is to hinder them as much as possible from growing any thing themselves except what they find their account in taking in exchange for Corn, tho the people might with much Less trouble and expence grow the corn themselves. What corn grows here, which indeed is not much, is of a most excellent quality, Large graind, and very fine; their meat also is very good, mutton, pork, and beef more especialy, of which what we had on board the ship was agreed by all of us to be very little inferior to our own; tho we Englishmen value ourselves not a little on our peculiar excellence in that production. The fat of this was white like the fat of mutton, yet the meat Brown, and coarse graind as ours, tho much smaller.
The town of Fonchiale is situated at the Bottom of the Bay, very ill Built, tho larger than the size of the Island seems to deserve. The houses of the bettermost people are in general large but those of the poorer sort very small, and the streets very narrow and uncommonly ill pavd. The Churches here have abundance of ornaments, cheifly bad pictures and figures of their favourite saints in lac'd cloaths; the Convent of the Franciscans indeed which we went to See had very little ornament; but the neatness with which those fathers kept everything was well worthy of commendation, especialy their infirmary, the contrivance of which deserves to be taken particular notice of; it was a long room, on one side of which were windows, and an altar for the convenience of administering the sacrament to the sick; on the other were the wards, each just capable of containing a bed, and lind with white duch tiles; to every one of these was a door communicating with a gallery which ran paralel to the great room, so that any of the sick might be supplied with whatever they wanted without disturbing their neighbours.
In this Convent was a curiosity of a very singular nature; a small chapel whose whole lining, wainscote, and ceiling, was intirely compos'd of human bones, two large thigh bones across, and a skull in each of the openings. Among these was a very singular anatomical curiosity, a skull in which one side of the Lower jaw was perfectly and very firmly fastned to the upper by an ossification, so that the man whoever he was must have livd some time without being able to open his mouth, indeed it was plain on the other side that a hole had been made by beating out his teeth, and in some measure damaging his Jaw bone, by which alone he must have receivd his nourishment.
I must not leave these good fathers without mentioning a thing which does great credit to their civility, and at the same time shews that they are not bigots to their religion: we visited them on Thursday Even just before their supper time; they made many apologies that they could not ask us to sup, not being prepard; but said they, if you will come tomorrow, notwithstanding it is fast with us, we will have a turkey roasted for you.
There are here, beside friarys, 3 or 4 houses of nunns. To one of these (Sa'nta Clara) we went, and indeed the ladies did us the honour to express great pleasure in seeing us there; they had heard that we were great Philosophers, and expected much from us, one of the first questions that they askd was, when it would thunder; they then desird to know if we could put them in a way of finding water in their convent, which it seems they were in want of; but notwishstanding our answers to these questions were not quite so much to the purpose as they expected, they did not at all cease their civilities, for while we stayd, which was about half an hour, I am sure there was not the fraction of a second in which their tongues did not go at an uncommonly nimble rate.
It remains now that I should say something of the Island in general, and then take my leave of Madeira till some other opportunity offers of visiting it again, for the climate is so fine that any man might wish it was in his power to live here under the benefits of English laws and liberty.
The hills here are very high, much higher than any one would imagine, Pico Ruevo the highest is 5068 ft which is much higher than any land that has been measured in Great Britain; indeed as I hinted before the whole Island has probably been the production of a Volcano, notwishstanding which its fertility is amazing, all the sides of the hills are coverd with vines to a certain hight, above which are woods of chestnut and pine of immense extent; and above them forests of wild timber of kinds not known in Europe, which amply supply the inhabitants with whatever they may want. Among these some there were whose flowers we were not able to procure and consequently could not settle their Genera, particularly those calld by the Portugese Mirmulano and Pao branco, both which, and especialy the first, from the Beauty of their leaves promise to be a great ornament to our European gardens.
The inhabitants here are supposd to be about 80,000; and from the town of Fonchiale (its custom house I mean) the King of Portugal receives 20000 pounds a year, after having paid the Governor and all expences of every kind, which may serve to shew in some degree the consequence which this little Island is of to the crown of Portugal; was it in the hands of any other people in the world its value might easily be doubled, from the excellence of its climate capable of bearing any kind of crop, a circumstance which the Portugese do not make the least advantage of.
The Coin current here is intirely Spanish, for the Balance of trade with Lisbon being in disfavour of this Island all the Portugese money naturaly goes there, to prevent which Spanish money is allowd to pass: it is of three denominations, Pistereens, Bitts, and ½ bitts; the first worth about 1 shilling, the 2nd 6 pence, the third 3 pence; they have also Portugese money of Copper, but so scarce that I did not in my stay there see a single peice.
- 1768 September 18. Departed Madeira
This Evening every thing being ready for sea, we went on board, and at 8 o'Clock got under way with a very light breeze.
- 1768 September 19.
Light Breezes all day, without any event worth writing about.
- 1768 September 20.
Still almost calm, which gave us an opportunity of taking with the casting nett a most beautifull species of Medusa, of a colour equaling if not exceeding the finest ultramarine; it was describd and calld Medusa azurea.
- 1768 September 21.
This morn wind foul, saw however some rocks call'd in the old charts Salvages which lay to the northward of the Canarys.
- 1768 September 22.
No land in sight this morn, towards noon almost calm, many fish were about the ship, but our fishermen could not contrive to catch any of them.
- 1768 September 23.
This morn we were calld up very early to see the pike of Teneriffe, which now for the first time appeard at a vast distance much above the clouds (I mean those which form a bank near the Horizon); the hill itself was so faint, that no man who was not used to the appearance of land at a great distance could tell it from a cloud, it soon however appeard something clearer and a sketch was made of it.
While we were engagd in looking at the hill a fish was taken which was describ'd and called Scomber serpens; the seamen said they had never seen such a one before except the first lieutenant, who rememberd to have taken one before just about these Islands; Sr Hans Sloane in his Passage out to Jamaica also took one of these fish which he gives a figure of, Vol.1,T.1, f.2.
The Pike continued in sight almost all day, tho sometimes obscurd by the clouds; at sunset however its appearance was most truely elegant, the rays of the sun remaining upon it sometime after it was set and the other land quite Black, and giving it a warmth of colour not to be express'd by painting.
- 1768 September 24.
This Morn the Pike appeard very plain and immensely above the clouds, as may well be imagin'd by its hight which Dr Heberden of Madeira who has been himself upon it communicated to us, 15,396 feet. The Dr also says that tho there is no eruption of visible fire from it, yet heat issues from the chinks near the top so strongly that a person who putts his hand upon these is scalded; from him we receivd among many other favours some salt which he supposes to be the true natron or nitrum of the ancients, and some native sulphur exceedingly pure, both which he collected himself on the top of the mountain, where large quantities, especialy of the salt, are found on the surface of the Earth.
- 1768 September 25.
Wind continued to blow much as it had done so we were sure we were well in the trade; now for the first time we saw plenty of flying fish, whose bea[u]ty especialy when seen from the cabbin windows is beyond imagination, their sides shining like burnishd silver; when seen from the Deck they do not appear to such advantage as their backs are then presented to the view, which are dark colourd.
- 1768 September 26.
Went as usual and as we expect to go these next two months; flying fish are in great plenty about the ship. About one today we crossd the tropick, the night most intolerably hot, the Thermometer standing all night at 78 in the cabbin tho every window was open.
- 1768 September 27.
About one this morn a flying fish was brought into the cabbin, the first that had been taken; it flew aboard, I suppose chasd by some other fish, or maybe merely because he did not see the ship; at breakfast another was brought, which had flown into Mr Green the Astronomers Cabbin. This whole day we saild at the rate of 7 knotts, sometimes a fathom or two more the wind being rather stronger than it usualy is in the trade.
- 1768 September 28.
Wind rather slackend; three birds were today about the ship, a swallow, to all appearance the same as our European one, and two motacillas, about night fall one of the latter was taken; about 11 a shoal of Porpoises came about the ship, and the fisgig was soon thrown into one of them but would not hold.
- 1768 September 29.
This morn calm; employd in drawing and describing the bird taken yesterday, calld it Motacilla avida; while the drawing was in hand it became very familiar, so much so that we had a brace made for it in hope to keep it alive; as flies were in amazing abundance onboard the ship we had no fear of plentiful supply of provision.
About noon a young shark was seen from the Cabbin windows following the ship, who immediately took a bait and was caught on board; he provd to be the Squalus Charcharias of Linn[aeus] and assisted us in clearing up much confusion which almost all authors had made about that species; with him came on board 4 sucking fish, echineis remora Linn. who were preserved in spirit. Notwistanding it was twelve O'Clock before the shark was taken, we made shift to have a part of him stewd for dinner, and very good meat he was, at least in the opinion of Dr Solander and myself, tho some of the Seamen did not seem to be fond of him, probably from some prejudice founded on the species sometimes feeding on human flesh.
- 1768 September 30.
This Morn at day break made the Island of Bonavista, one of the Cape Verde Islands: Mr Buchan employd in taking views of the land; Mr Parkinson busy in finishing the sketches made of the shark yesterday.
This Evening the other Motacilla avida was brought to us, it differd scarce at all from the first taken, except that it was something larger; his head however gave us some good, by supplying us with near twenty specimens of ticks, which differd but little from the acarus vicinus Linn; it was however described and calld Motacilla.