Title: Early New Zealand Botanical Art

Author: F. Bruce Sampson

Publication details: Reed Methuen, 1985, Auckland

Digital publication kindly authorised by: F. Bruce Sampson

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Early New Zealand Botanical Art

To South America

To South America

The Endeavour left Plymouth on 26 August 1768, with a crew of ninety-seven (including twelve marines) and eleven civilians (Beaglehole, 1955). The civilians- included Banks and his party, and the astronomer Charles Green and his servant, John Reynolds. John Reynolds has sometimes been described as one of Banks's artists, an error that Professor J. C. Beaglehole has noted. Perhaps there was confusion with the great portrait painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds, who, although not present on any of Cook's voyages, did a famous oil painting of Omai, a native of the Society Islands, who was brought to England on the Adventure by Furneaux. Joshua Reynolds also painted a famous portrait of Banks soon after the end of the first voyage.

The first port-of-call (12 September) was the Madeira Islands, situated about 800 kilometres off the coast of northwest Africa at the latitude of Casablanca. Banks and Solander moved ashore and stayed at the residence of the English Consul in Funchal, the main town. During the five-day stay they collected within three miles of the town, with the aid of guides and horses. Some 330 supposedly native plant species and sixty-nine introduced ones were collected, and Parkinson illustrated twenty-one of these species (Phyllis Edwards in D. J. Carr (ed.), Sydney Parkinson, 1983).

The Endeavour headed for South America and reached Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, then a Portuguese possession, on 13 November. The stay at Rio was a frustrating one. Although Britain was at peace with Portugal, the viceroy suspected the British might engage in smuggling. He even suggested to Cook that the Endeavour was not a bona fide vessel of the Royal Navy, despite the uniforms of Cook and his crew. He would not permit Banks and Solander to go ashore to collect plants, and when Cook managed to convince the viceroy that Banks and his party could not remain on board while the Endeavour was being repaired, he agreed to allow them on shore only under house arrest. Banks managed to have plants smuggled on board amid greens to feed the sheep and goats on the ship, and on one occasion he and some companions went ashore in the dead of the night and were back on board before news of the landing reached the viceroy. In spite of the difficulties, Banks managed to acquire 320 species of plants, thirty-seven of which Parkinson illustrated. The Endeavour left on 7 December and gave page 20 the fortification at the approaches to Rio some target practice, for two shots were fired, one just missing the mainmast.

As the Endeavour sailed towards Tierra del Fuego, Christmas was celebrated, and Banks recorded that "all hands get abominably drunk so that at night there was scarce a sober man in the ship, wind thank god very moderate or the lord knows what would have become of us". On 13 January 1769 Banks and Solander went ashore at Tierra del Fuego and they soon collected 100 plants. The most prominent vegetation was a species of southern beech, Nothofagus antarctica, related to the New Zealand beeches, and a tall shrub, Winter's bark, Drimys winteri, a relative of the New Zealand horopito, Pseudowintera (Plate 25).

Three days later Banks, Solander, and a party that included Monkhouse, the ship's surgeon, Green, the astronomer, and two sailors set off inland. This expedition was to result in the death from exposure of two men. By the time the Endeavour left Tierra del Fuego on 21 January, 148 different plants had been collected, nearly half of which were illustrated by Sydney Parkinson. Cook recorded that the native Fuegians they met were "perhaps as miserable a set of people as are this day upon earth".