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The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volume One]

August 1768

page 153

August 1768

25. After having waited in this place ten days, the ship, and every thing belonging to me, being all that time in perfect readyness to sail at a moments warning,1 we at last got a fair wind, and this day at 3 O'Clock in the even weigd anchor, and set sail, all in excellent health and spirits perfectly prepard (in Mind at least) to undergo with Chearfullness any fatigues or dangers that may occur in our intended Voyage.

26. Wind still fair, but very light breezes; saw this Even a shoal of those fish which are particularly calld Porpoises by the seamen, probably the Delphinus Phocana of Linnæus,2 as their noses are very blunt.

27. Wind fair and a fine Breeze; found the ship to be but a heavy sailer, indeed we could not Expect her to be any other from her built, so are obligd to set down with this Inconvenience, as a nescessary consequence of her form; which is much more calculated for stowage, than for sailing.

28. Little wind today; in some sea water, which was taken on board to season a cask, observed a very minute sea Insect, which Dr Solander describd by the name of Podura marina.3 In the Evening

1 Banks begins with a rather extravagant statement. The Endeavour had been at Plymouth since 14 August, on which day Cook ‘Dispatched an express to London for Mr Banks and Dr Solander to join the ship, their Servants and baggage being already on board’; but on the night of the 15th Banks was at the opera with Miss Harriet Blosset. H. B. de Saussure met them there, walked home with them and had supper. ‘Miss Blosset’, he says ‘not knowing that he was to start next day, was quite gay. Banks drank freely to hide his feelings. He promised to come and see me at Geneva and bring me some curios’. (See p. 31 above.) Presumably therefore he left London on the 16th and posted down to Plymouth. He and Solander did not go on board finally until the ship sailed. The ship was taking stores on board till the 19th; and it is not till the 21st that Cook records ‘The Shipwrights having finished their work, intended to have sail'd, instead of which was oblig'd to let go another anchor’, owing to gales and thick weather. Ship-wrights and joiners had been employed refitting ‘the Gentlemens Cabbins’ and making a platform over the tiller to facilitate their promenades.

2 Phocaena phocaena (Linn.), the Common Porpoise.

3 Podura is an insect genus: Solander (MS Z4, p. 279) described a tiny shrimp which has not been identified.

page 154 very calm; with the small casting net took several specimens of Medusa Pelagica,1 whose different motions in swimming amus'd us very much: among the appendages to this animal we found also a new species of oniscus.2 We took also another animal, quite different from any we had Ever seen; it was of an angular figure, about 3 inches long and one thick, with a hollow passing quite through it. On one end was a Brown spot, which might be the stomach of the animal.

Four of these, the whole number that we took, adherd together when taken by their sides; so that at first we imagind them to be one animal, but upon being put into a glass of water they very soon separated and swam briskly about the water.3

29. Wind foul: Morning employd in finishing the Drawings of the animals taken yesterday till the ship got so much motion that Mr Parkinson could not set to his Pencil; in the Evening wind still Fresher so much as to make the night very uncomfortable.

30. Wind still Foul, ship in violent motion, but towards Evening much more quiet: Now for the first time my Sea sickness left me, and I was sufficiently well to write.

31. Wind Freshend again this morn; observ'd about the Ship several of the Birds calld by the seamen Mother Careys chickens, Procellaria Pelagica Linn.4 which were thought by them to be a sure presage of a storm, as indeed it provd, for before night it blew so hard as to bring us under our Courses,5 and make me very sea sick again.

1 A species of Pelagia of which Parkinson made five charming paintings, III, pl. 54, and which was described in detail by Solander, p. 471.

2 Possibly ‘O. Macropthalmos’, or ‘Onidium’ of 7 Sept. (p. 158); Parkinson's drawing of Onidium quadricorne (III, pl. 18) dated 28 Aug. 1768 was identified by Stebbing in 1888 as the amphipod Hyperia medusarum (O. F. Müller). Challenger Repts., Zoology, xxix, 1617.

3 The cluster (angular figure), was the aggregate form of Pegea confoederata Forskål, a salp. Solander described it as Dagysa saccata, p. 489; Parkinson III, pl. 27, lower figs.

4 Mother Carey's Chickens: either the Common Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus or the Madeiran Storm Petrel Oceanodroma castro (Harcourt); they are not easily distinguished in flight.—Mother Carey: a name derived from Madre Caria; sailors believed that the Virgin Mary sent the storm petrels to warn them of approaching tempests. S, at a later stage (after copying Banks's description of Tierra del Fuego, pp. 224–9 below) includes a separate page on this subject: ‘Mother Careys Chickens [footnote: ‘The right Mother Careys Chicken, is much like a Blackbird’] or other Birds called Mother Careys: are those that live 8 or 10 Months at Sea, without going upon Land: therefore when Seamen see them, they are not sure of being near Land, as they are when they see other Birds. The Tradition of their being called by that name, was, that some years ago one Mother Carey lived in New York, and was reputed by the Sailors a Witch: and they were afraid of her. The Family of the Careys (are said) now to live at New York. Mother Careys Successors’.

5 The lowest sails on the fore and main masts—i.e. the foresail and the mainsail. Cook, who was not concerned with his passengers’ sea-sickness, records that the gale ‘Washed over board a small boat belonging to the Boatswain and drown'd between 3 and 4 Dozn of our Poultry which was worst of all’.