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

March 1769

March 1769

1. Fine weather and very pleasant, began the new month by pulling off an under waistcoat.

2. Rather squally this morn and had been so all night: it did not however blow up to a gale tho the ship had a good deal of motion, indeed I began to hope that we were now so near the peacefull part of the Pacifick ocean that we may almost cease to fear any more gales.4

3. Calm: went in the boat and killd Procellaria velox, 2 velificans, 3

4 This remark may have some connection with Banks's entry for 11 March, pp. 237–8 below, on which see the note. Cook records for the morning ‘a strong fresh gale and pretty clear weather’; his definition of a gale was probably more technical than Banks's. His noon position for this day was lat. 37° 19’ S, long. 112° 5’ W.

page 236 sordida,1 4 melanopus,2 5 lugens,3 agilis4 and Diomedœa exulans5 The Albatross very brown exactly the same as the first I killd, which if I mistake not was nearly in the same latitude on the other side of the continent. Caught Holothuria obtusata,6 Phillodoce velella7 exactly the same as those taken on the other side of the continent except in size, which in these did not exceed that of an English sixpence. Also Dogysa vitrea the same as that taken off Rio de Janeiro; now however we had an opportunity of seeing its ext[r]ordinary manner of breeding which is better to be understood from the drawing than any description I can give; suffice it therefore to say that the whole progeny 15 or 20 in number hung in a chain from one end of the mother, the oldest only or the largest adhering to her and the rest to each other.8

While in the boat among a large quantity of birds I had killd, 69 in all, caught 2 Hippoboscas forest flies, both of one species different from any described.9 More than probably these belongd to the birds and came off with them from the land. I found also this day a large Sepia cuttle fish laying on the water just dead but so pulld to peices by the birds that his Species could not be determind; only this I know that of him was made one of the best soups I ever eat. He was very large, differd from the Europæans in that his arms instead of being (like them) furnished with suckers were armd with a double row of very sharp talons, resembling in shape those of a cat and like them retractable into a sheath of skin from whence they might be thrust at pleasure.10

1 P. sordida: ? the Kermadec Petrel, Plerodroma neglecta neglecta (Schlegel). According to Solander, p. 83, another specimen was taken on the 21st of this month; although his account of the dorsal plumage is not altogether satisfactory for P. neglecta, his notes on the undersurface of the wing agree closely with the description and figure of this species given by Murphy and Pennoyer, Amer. Mus. Novil. 1580, 1952, and it seems probable that he had some light phase birds of this polymorphic species.

2 P. melanopus: another Kermadec Petrel, Pterodroma neglecta (Schl.). Solander's description, p. 85, is quite close to that given by Murphy and Pennoyer (op. cit.) for birds in the dark phase of this species, and he placed sordida next to melanopus both in MS Z4 and in his interleaved edition of the Systema Naturae. Gould states that he examined a drawing in Banks's collection with melanopus written on it in Solander's hand (Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 13, p. 363, 1844) but unfortunately no trace of it can be found now. P. melanopus Gm. was a different bird, taken from Latham's account, and only 13 inches long. Solander's birds were 15 inches long with a wing span of 39 inches; they weighed 14 oz.

3 P. lugens: Peale's Petrel, Pterodroma inexpectata Forster. See 1 February above.

4 P. agilis: the Sunday Island Petrel, Pterodroma externa cervicalis (Salvin). Solander's careful description, p. 69, giving details of the head, neck and back as well as the underwing pattern, clearly points to this identification.

5 An immature Wandering Albatross.

6 A small specimen of the Portuguese Man-of-war of which there is an unfinished dated sketch (III, p. 41) by Parkinson.

7 Velella velella (Linn.).

8 Parkinson's labelled drawings (III, pls. 31, 32) of this animal show a nectophore of the siphonophore Diphyes dispar, but Banks's account of the reproductive chain refers to a salp.

9 Unidentifiable in the absence of a description or drawing.

10 One of the Onychoteuthidae, a family of cephalopods, with retractile claws.

page 237

The weather is now become pleasan[t]ly warm and the Barnacles upon the ships bottom seemd to be regenerate, very few only of the old ones remaining alive but young ones without number scarce bigger than Lentils.

4. Fine weather, the ship goes 5 knotts without rowling or pitching which she has not done this great while; this we attribute to the empty water cask[s] in the fore hold having been filld with salt water yesterday.

There were several bonitos about the ship or at least fish something like them.1

5. Fine weather but foul wind, it now begins to be very hot. Therm. 70 and damp, with prodigious dews at night greater than any I have felt, this renews our uncomfortably damp situation, every thing beginning to mould as it did about the æquinoctial line in the Atlantick.

6. Weather wind and heat continued, dew to night as strong as ever.

7. Wind weather heat and dew as yesterday. No Albatrosses have been seen since the 4th, and for some days before that we had only now and then a single one in sight so conclude we have parted with them for good and all.2

8. Rains today with uncommonly large and heavy drops, accompanied with calms and small puffs of wind all round the Compass; in the Evening a SE wind took the ship aback and before night blew brisk.

9. Fine weather wind right aft. A tropick bird3 was seen by some of the people but myself did not see him.

10. Fine weather continued, wind aft and very pleasant.

11. Wind and weather much the same as yesterday. Tho it had blown a steady breeze of wind these three days no sea at all was up, from whence we began to conclude that we had pass'd the Line drawn between the Great South Sea and the Pacifick ocean by

1 Possibly Euthynnus pelamis.

2 The albatrosses of the southern oceans are commonly found between latitudes 30° and 60° S, but sometimes further north when there are currents of cool water. There is one species, Diomedea irrorata Salvin, which breeds in the Galapagos islands. Three other species are confined to the north Pacific. It would seem that albatrosses in general keep to cooler waters on account of the richer food supply there.

3 Tropic birds are widely distributed in low latitudes. Races of both the Red-tailed Tropic Bird, Phaethon rubricauda Boddaert, and the White-tailed, P. lepturus Daudin, occur almost throughout the south-west Pacific (for distribution map of tropic birds and albatrosses in the south Pacific see Fleming, Emu, 49, 1950, p. 183).

page 238 the Council of the Royal Society,1 notwithstanding we are not yet within the tropicks.

12. Wind continued fair but in the even flaggd a little; we began to imagine that it must be the trade, at least if it continues we resolv'd [to] call it so.

13. Almost calm to day tho not quite enough for going out in the boat. I saw a tropick bird for the first time hovering over the ship but flying very high; if my eyes did not deceive me it differd from that describd by Linnæus, Phaeton æthereus, in having the long feathers of his tail red and his crissum black.2

Towards even set the servants to work with a dipping net who took Mimus volutator3 and Phyllodoce velella, both exactly the same as those we have seen in the Atlantick ocean. Lat. 30.45, Long. 126.23.45.

14. Very light winds today shifting from South to East: at noon an alarm of Land being seen which proved at night to be no more than a fog bank tho it certainly remaind many hours without any change in its appearance.

The tropick birds this Evening made a noise as they flew over the ship not unlike some gulls.

15. All but calm all this day: many tropick birds were about the ship. The sea today was remarkably quiet so that the ship had little or no motion.

This night happend an occultation of Saturn by the moon, which Mr Green observ'd but was unlucky in having the weather so cloudy that the observation was good for little or nothing.4

1 I am quite at a loss to explain when or where this line was drawn. By courtesy of the President, Council and Fellows of the Royal Society, I was enabled to consult the Council Minutes, but have found no reference to the matter in the eighteenth century up to 1768. When Balboa first named the sea he saw in 1513, looking south from the Gulf of San Miguel, he called it the Mar del Zur, the South Sea. It was Magellan who conferred the name Pacific. Dampier, writing of his passage from Juan Fernandez to the Galapagos in 1684, remarks, ‘Our passage lay now along the Pacifick-Sea, properly so called. For tho’ it be usual with our Map-makers to give that Name to this whole Ocean calling it Mare Australe, Mar del Zur, or Mare Pacificum; yet, in my opinion, the Name of the Pacifick-Sea ought not to be extended from South to North farther than from 30 to about 4 deg. South Latitude, and from the American shore Westward indefinitely, with respect to my observation…. Nor are there in this Sea any Winds but the Trade- wind, no Tempests, no Tornadoes or Hurricanes (tho’ north of the Equator, they are met with as well in this Ocean as in the Atlantick…)’.—New Voyage (Voyages, ed. Masefield, I. pp. 120–1). The eighteenth century cartographers seem to have placed the names according to individual fancy.

2 Phaethon rubricauda, the Red-tailed Tropic Bird. The crissum, i.e. the feathers immediately posterior to the vent, is not black: see Banks's note for 21 March. See Pl. 6.

3 A nudibranch, Glaucus atlanticus; see 4 October 1768.

4 Cook mentions the observation, but leaves blank the times of immersion and emersion; so evidently Banks was right, and the details were not worth noting.

page 239

16. Calm almost, but the ship stole through this remarkably smooth water so that I do not think it worth while to have a boat hoisted out; by observation to day they find that she has gone these two days much faster than the log which they tell me is very often the case in light winds when the ship goes before them.

Our water which was taken aboard at Terra del Fuego has remaind till this time perfectly good without the least change, an instance which I am told is very rare, especialy as in our case when water is brought from a cold climate into a hot one. This however has stood it without any damage and now drinks as brisk and pleasant as when first taken on board, or better, for the red colour it had at first is subsided and it is now as clear as any English spring water.

17. Most of this day as yesterday almost calm, at night a small breeze came on from ENE so that the ship went 4 knotts.

18. Squally weather all night with heavy rain: this morn much the same, the rain so heavy that the Cabbin was twice baild of more than a bucket full at a time, all which came in at the crevises of the weather quarter window,1 for there was no leak of any consequence in any other part of the cabbin. The Wind was at N and brought with it a hot damp air which affected (I may safely say) every man in the ship more or less; towards even however it shifted towards the west and was much dryer.

19. Pleasant breeze, ship went N by W. Some flying fish were seen this morn and several procellarias cheifly of the brown sorts as sordida.

20. Very fine as yesterday: many tropick birds were about the ship, as indeed there has been every day since I first mentiond them but still more of them as the weather was finer. Lat. today. Long.2 When I look on the charts of these Seas and see our course, which has been Near a streight one at NW since we left Cape Horne, I cannot help wondering that we have not yet seen land.3 It is however some pleasure to be able to disprove that which does not exist but in the opinions of Theoretical writers, of which sort most are who have wrote any thing about

1 The ‘quarter window’ was one of the windows next the ship's stern, the ‘weather quarter window’ that one exposed to the wind. The winds this day as noted by Cook were north-east and north, and the ship's course was N 60° 45’ W, so it was the window on the starboard side that took in the rain.

2 In Cook, lat. 25° 44’ S, long. 129° 28’ W. The ship was now approaching the Tuamotus, within which is would in a fortnight make its first landfall, but the closest land was Pitcairn, a little farther north and west—lat. 25° 04’ S, long. 130° 05’ W.

3 i.e. the Southern Continent.

page 240 these seas without having themselves been in them. They have generaly supposd that every foot of sea which they beleivd no ship had passd over to be land, tho they had little or nothing to support that opinion but vague reports, many of them mentiond only as such by the very authors who first publishd them, as for instance the Orange Tree one of the Nassau fleet who being separated from her Companions and drove to the westward reported on her joining them again that she had twice seen the Southern continent;1 both which places are laid down by Mr Dalrymple2 many degrees to the eastward of our track, tho it is probable that he has put them down as far to the westward as he thought it possible that she could go.

To streng[t]hen these weak arguments another Theory has been started which says that it is Nescessary that so much of the South sea as the authors of it call land should be so, otherwise this wor[l]d would not be properly bal[a]nc'd as the quantity of Earth known to be situated in the Northern hemisphere would not have a counterpoise in this. The number of square degrees of their land which we have already chang'd into water sufficiently disproves this, and teaches me at least that till we know how this globe is fixd in that place which has been since its creation assignd to it in the general system, we need not be anxious to give reasons how any one part of it counterbalances the rest.

21. Calm this morn: went out in the boat and shot Tropick bird Phaeton erubescens,3 and Procellaria atrata,4 velox5 and sordida. Took Turbo fluitans6 floating upon the water in the same manner as Helix Janthina, Medusa Porpita exactly like those taken on the other side of the continent,7 and a small Cimex? which also was taken before

1 The Nassau fleet, so called after its patron the Prince of Nassau, was the Dutch fleet that set out in 1623 under Jacob le Hermite and Hugo Schapenham to raid Peru. The raid was a failure, but geographers were excited by the news that one of the ships, the Orange, separated from the fleet by bad weather, rejoined it at Juan Fernandez in April 1624 after sighting the Southern Continent twice, in lat. 50° and 41°.

2 In the chart included in his Account of the Discoveries made in the South Pacifick Ocean, Previous to 1764 (London 1769). It will be remembered that Dalrymple presented Banks with a copy of this pamphlet, previous to the Endeavour's departure. On the chart the Dutch ‘discoveries’ of 1624 are indicated about 91° W, so that on this reckoning the Endeavour had already sailed more than 38 degrees of longitude into the continent.

3 The Red-tailed Tropic Bird. There is a painting by Parkinson, I, pl. 31, of one of these birds in flight, dated 1769. Solander's description bears this date but he does not refer to a painting. see pl. 6.

4 Perhaps one of the Herald Petrels, Pterodroma arminjoniana heraldica (Salvin); Solander's description, p. 81, is suggestive of one of these birds in the dark phase.

5 One of the gadfly petrels recorded by Solander; cf.15 February above.

6 ? Janthina sp. There seem to be no drawings or descriptions of this gastropod, which can only doubtfully be assigned to this genus.

7 Porpita porpita. See 20 September 1768.

page 241 but appears to be a larva, if so probably of some animal that lives under water, as I saw many but none that appeard perfect tho they were enough so to propagate their species or copulate at least.1 In examining the Phaetons found that what appeard to me a black crissus as they flew was no other than their black feet; on them was plenty of a very curious kind of acarus Phaetintis2 which either was or appeard to be viviparous.

Besides what was shot today there were seen Man of war birds pelecanus aquilus,3 and a small bird of the Sterna? kind calld by the seamen egg birds, which were white with red beaks about the size of sterna hirundo.4 Of these I saw several just at night fall who flew very high and followd one another all standing towards the NNW; probably there is land on that point as we were now not far from the Lat and Longitude in which Quiros saw his southermost Islands Incarnation and St Jno Baptist.5

22. Fresh breeze of wind today, the ship layd no better than west so we were forcd to give over our hopes on the NNW point.6 Many man of war birds were about the ship today and some egg birds, I shot 3 of the first but none of them fell onboard the ship. All today the weather very hot and damp, Thermometer 80, which it never was at sea before except in the calms under the line.

23. Most troublesome weather, calms and squalls with very heavy rain but the wind will not stirr. Many Egg birds seen today and some few Tropick.

24. Blew fresh still, wind as foul as ever. The officer of the watch reported that in the middle watch the water from being roughish became on a sudden as smooth as a mill pond, so that the ship from going only 4 knotts at once increasd to six, tho there was little or no more wind than before this, and a log of wood which

1 Probably Halobates sp. Cf. 7 October 1768.

2 sic; Sol. MS Phaetontis. Alloptes phaetontis (Fabr.), a mite. See Parkinson III, pl. 3, and Solander, p. 291.

3 Man-of-war or Frigate Birds belong to the genus Fregata, and have distinctive forked tails.

4 The terns may have been the Roseate Tern, Sterna dougalli Montagu, which is said to occur in this region. Egg Bird is a name generally applied by sailors to terns, and particularly to the Wideawake or Sooty Tern, Sterna fuscata.

5 Quiros came on these islands when outward bound in January 1606. His La Encarnacion, now called Ducie island, lies in lat. 24° 40’ S, long. 124° 48’ W; his San Juan Batista, or Henderson, in lat. 24° 22’ S, long. 128° 18’ W—about 190 miles westward of Ducie. Dalrymple, from whom Banks probably worked, in his Account of the Discoveries, pp. 20–1, gives the position of La Encarnacion as 25° S, 146° 9’ W, and of San Juan Batista as two days’ sail to the westward of it. Cook's position for this day was lat. 25° 21’ S, long. 129° 28’ W.

6 i.e. of sighting the land which the flight of birds the previous evening had indicated. The birds were no doubt flying to one of the eastern Tuamotus.

page 242 was seen to pass by the ship by several people made them beleive that there was land to windward.1

At 8 when I came on deck the signs were all gone, I saw however two birds which seemed to be of the sterna? kind both very small, one quite white and another quite black2 who from their appearance probably could not venture far from Land.

Today by our reckoning we crossed the tropick.3

25. Wind continued much the same but more moderate, few or no birds were about the ship but some sea weed was seen by some of the people, only one bed.

This even one of our marines threw himself overboard and was not miss'd till it was much too late even to attempt to recover him. He was a very young man scarce 21 years of age, remarkably quiet and industrious, and to make his exit the more melancholy was drove to the rash resolution by an accident so trifling that it must appear incredible to every body who is not well accquainted with the powerfull effects that shame can work upon young minds.

This day at noon he was sentry at the Cabbin door and while he was on that duty one of the Capt8 servants being calld away in a hurry left a peice of seal skin in his charge, which it seems he was going to cut up to make tobacco pouches some of which he had promisd to several of the men; the poor young fellow it seems had several times askd him for one, and when refus'd had told him that since he refusd him so trifling a thing he would if he could steal one from him, this he put in practise as soon as the skin was given into his charge and was of course found out immediately as the other returnd, who was angry and took the peice he had cut off from him but declard he would not complain to the officers for so trifling a cause.

In the mean time the fact came to the ears of his fellow soldiers, who stood up for the honour of their Core 13 in number so highly that before night, for this hapned at noon, they drove the young fellow almost mad by representing his crime in the blackest coulours as a breach of trust of the worst consequence: a theft committed

1 Cook notes his feelings at this indication of land, which he did not see himself (it passed, or was thought to pass, the ship, about 3 AM) in his own journal for 24 March: he did not think himself at liberty to search for land he was not sure to find. On this point, and Dalrymple's criticism, see my note, Cook I, p. 66, n. 3.

2 The former was possibly the White Tern, Gygis alba Sparrman, or perhaps the Marquesan White Tern, a small race of the same species. There are no very small black terns; the White-capped Noddy, Anous minutus (Boie) is 13–14 inches long and breeds in the Tuamotus. See also Banks's note about terns on 4 April 1769.

3 The Tropic of Capricorn. Cook gives his latitude for March 24 as 23° 23’ S, and for March 25 as 22° 11’ S.

page 243 by a sentry upon duty they made him think an inexcusable crime, especialy when the thing stole was given into his charge: the Sargeant particularly declard that if the person acgreivd would not complain he would, for people should not suffer scandal from the ill behaviour of one. This affected the young fellow much, he went to his hammock, soon after the Sargeant went to him calld him and told him to follow him upon deck. He got up and slipping the Sargeant went forward, it was dusk and the people thought he was gone to the head and were not convincd that he was gone over till half an hour after it hapned.1

26. This whole day calms succeeded by hard squalls with much rain, which weather the seamen call trolly lollys; the wind went more than once round the Compass which made us hope that we were near the trade at least. Few or no birds and no tropick birds.

27. Weather much like yesterday, no birds, at night a little more setled.

28. Calm today: one tropick bird was seen this morn. After dinner a Shark came the first we had seen in these seas, he greedily took the bait but the line being old broke, very soon he however returnd with the hook and chain hanging out of his mouth but would not take the second bait.

29. Calm again. Bent a new shark line in the even a shark alongside took the bait but broke the new line just as we were going to hoist him in, I am told by the people that common fishing line will never last above a year if ever so much care is taken of it.

30. Some birds and bonitos seen this morn but none after I came upon deck.

31. Pleasant breeze of wind which is the trade: some few tropick birds seen this morn. Myself not quite well a little inflammation in my throat and swelling of the glands.

1 This unfortunate young man was William Greenslade.