The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volume One]
1. This morn in walking round the point I saw a canoe which I suppose to have come from a distance by her having a quantity of fresh water in her in Bamboes; in every other respect she is quite like those we have seen, her people however are absolute strangers to us. Before noon our freinds visit us as usual and the day passed without any events.
2. About 10 this morn the astronomical quadrant which had been brought ashore yesterday was miss'd, a circumstance which alarmd us all very much. It had been laid in Captn Cook's birth where no one slept, the telescopes were in my tent safe. Every place was searchd aboard and ashore but no such thing to be found. It appeard very improbable that the Indians could have carried so large a thing out of the tents without being observd by the sentries, our people might have stole [it] as it was packd up in a deal case and might by them be suppos'd to contain nails or some kind of traffick; a large reward was therefore offerd to any one who could find it and all hands sent out to search round the fort, upon a supposition that the Indians would immediately quit a prize that could be of so little use to them. In about an hour all returnd, no news of the Quadrant. I now went into the woods to get intelligence no longer doubting but that it was in the hands of the Indians. Tubourai met me crossing the river and immediately made with 3 straws in his hand the figure of a triangle: the Indians had opend the cases. No time was now to be lost; I made signs to page 269 him that he must instantly go with me to the place where it was, he agreed and out we set acompanied by a midshipman and Mr Green, we went to the Eastward. At every house we went past Tubourai enquird after the theif by name, the people readily told him which way he had gone and how long ago it was since he pass'd by, a circumstance which gave great hopes of coming up with him. The weather was excessive hot, the Thermometer before we left the tents up at 91 made our journey very tiresome. Sometimes we walk'd sometimes we ran when we imagind (which we sometimes did) that the chase was just before us till we arrivd at the top of a hill about 4 miles from the tents: from this place Tubourai shew'd us a point about 3 miles off and made us understand that we were not to expect the instrument till we got there. We now considerd our situation, no arms among us but a pair of pocket pistols which I always carried, going at least 7 miles from our fort where the Indians might not be quite so submissive as at home, going also to take from them a prize for which they had venturd their lives. All this considerd we thought it proper that while Mr Green and myself proceeded the midshipman should return and desire captn Cooke to send a party of men after us, telling him at the same time that it was impossible we could return till dark night. This done we proceeded and in the very spot Tubourai had mentiond were met by one of his own people bringing part of the Quadrant in his hand. We now stop'd and many Indians gatherd about us rather rudely, the sight of one of my pistols however instantly checkd them and they behav'd with all the order imaginable, tho we quickly had some hundreds surrounding a ring we had markd out on the grass. The box was now brought to us and some of the small matters such as reading glasses &c. which in their hurry they had put into a pistol case, this I knew belongd to me, it had been stole out of the tents with a horse pistol in it which I immediately demanded and had immediately restord. Mr Green began to overlook the Instrument to see if any part or parts were wanting, several small things were, and people were sent out in search of them some of which returnd and others did not; the stand was not there but that we were informd had been left behind by the theif and we should have it on our return, an answer which coming from Tubourai satisfied us very well; nothing else was wanting but what could easily be repaird so we pack'd all up in grass as well as we could and proceeded homewards. After walking about 2 miles we met Captn Cooke with a party of marines coming after us, all were you may imagine not a little pleasd at the event of our excursion.page 270
The Captn on leaving the Tents left orders both for the ship and shore, which were that no canoes should be suffer'd to go out of the bay but that nobodys person should be seizd or detaind, as we rightly guessd that none of our freinds had any hand in the theft. These orders were obeyd by the 1st Lieutenant who was ashore, but the second aboard seeing some canoes going along shore sent a boat to fetch them back; the boatswain commander did so and with them brought Dootahah, the rest of their crews leap'd overboard, he was sent ashore prisoner. The 1st Lieutenant of course could not do less than confine him which he did to the infinite dissatisfaction of all the Indians, this we heard from them 2 miles before we reachd the tents on our return. Tubourai, Tomaio and every Indian that we let in Joind in lamenting over Dootahah with many tears. I arrivd about a quarter of an Hour before the Captn during which time this scene lasted; as soon as he came he orderd him to be instantly set at liberty which done he walkd off sulky enough tho at his departure he presented us with a pig.
3. Dr Solander and myself who have all along acted in the capacity of market men attended this morn but no kind of provisions were brought, indeed few Indians appeard except the servants of Dootahah who very early took away his Canoe. Soon after Tubia1 (Obereas right hand man who was with her in the Dolphins time) came and overhauld every part of her canoe which had also been detaind, seemd satisfied with what he saw so much so that he would not take it away. About noon several fishing boats came abreast the tents, they however parted with very few fish. In the course of the whole day a small quantity of bread fruit was got cheifly in a present and 6 Cocoa nuts only were bought, a very disagreable change this from our former situation; we have now no cocoa nuts and not ¼ enough of bread fruit for the people, who have scarce ever before faild to turn away the latter from the market and purchase of the other from 3 to 400 a day.
1 Tupaia. This man, of considerable importance in the voyage, now comes into the story for the first time. He was an arii and priest of Raiatea, who, when driven from his possessions by invaders from Borabora, had arrived in Tahiti and become very influential with Purea—apparently her chief priest. He had survived the great defeat, and Tuteha, against whom he had actively plotted, let him alone. He was both able and knowledgeable.
4. No trade this morn but a little fish so we are for the first time in distress for nescessaries. I went into the woods to Tubourai and perswauded him to give me 5 long baskets of bread fruit, a very seasonable supply as they contain above 120 fruits. A very few Indians appear today before the fort, fewer than yesterday. After dinner came a messenger from Dootahah requesting a shirt and a hatchet (he had been here yesterday with the same demand) I suppose in return for the hog he gave us on his release; the Captn sent him back telling him that he would tomorrow visit him and bring the things himself. In the Evening I went into the woods, found the Indians as usual civil but complaining much of the treatment Dootahah had met with on the 2nd.
1 Cook writes it in his journal as Apparra. Pare was meant, more particularly the marae at Point Utuhaihai. Both Cook and Banks thus rendered wrongly the Tahitian o, an article prefixed to proper names (and also pronouns) when in the nominative case; cf. O Tahiti, whence the early European form of the name, Otaheite. But 'O’ might be an integral part of a name.
The diversion began by the combatants some of them at least walking round the yard with a slow and grave pace every now and then striking their left arms very hard, by which they causd a deep and very loud noise, which it seems was a challenge to each other or any one of the company who chose to engage in the exercise. Within the house stood the old men ready to give applause to the victor and some few women who seem'd to be here out of compliment to us, as much the larger number absented themselves upon the occasion.
The general challenge was given as I before said, the particular one soon followd it by which any man singled out his antagonist, it was done by joining the finger ends of both hands even with the breast and then moving the Elbows up and down. If this was accepted the challenged immediately returnd the signal and instantly both put themselves in an attitude to engage, which they very soon did striving to seize each other by the hands hair or the cloth they had round their middles, for they had no other dress. This done they attempted to seize each other by the thigh which commonly decided the contest in the fall of him who was thus taken at disadvantage; if this was not soon done they always parted either by consent or their freinds interferd in less than a minute, in which case both began to clap their arms and seek anew for an antagonist either in each other or some one else.
When any one fell the whole amusement ceasd for a few moments, in which time the old men in the house gave their aplause in a few words which they repeated together in a kind of tune.
This lasted about 2 hours, all which time the man who we observd at our first Landing continued to beat the people who did not keep at a proper distance most unmercifully. We understood that he was some officer belonging to Dootahah and was calld his Tomítė.1
1 ? Tamaiti, son. From the context it seems that this person was probably the official called the taumihau, the chief's administrator—who might very well be a member of his family.
The wrestling over the gentlemen informd me that they understood that 2 hoggs and a large quantity of Bread fruit &c. was cooking for our dinners, news which pleasd me very well as my stomach was by this time sufficiently prepard for the repast. I went out and saw the ovens in which they were now buried, these the Indians readily shewd me telling me at the same time that they would soon be ready and how good a dinner we should have. In about half an hour all was taken up but now Dootahah began to repent of his intended generosity; he thought I suppose that a hog would be lookd upon as no more than a dinner and consequently no present made in return, he therefore changd his mind and ordering one of the pigs into the boat sent for us who soon collected together and getting our Knives prepard to fall too, saying that it was civil of the old gentleman to bring the provisions into the boat where we could with ease keep the people at a proper distance, who in the house would have crouded us almost to death. His intention was however very different from ours for instead of asking us to eat he ask'd to go on board of the ship, a measure we were forcd to comply with and row 4 miles with the pig growing cold under our noses before he would give it to us. Aboard however we dind upon this same pig and his majesty eat very heartily with us. After dinner we went ashore, the sight of Dootahah reconcild to us acted like a charm upon the people and before night bread fruit and cocoa nuts were brought to sell in tolerable plenty.
6. Plenty of bread-fruit at market this morn but few cocoa nuts. After dinner Dootahah visited the tents bringing 5 baskets of bread-fruit and some cocoa nuts; he went to the eastward and slept tonight at the long house. Trade rather slack this morn, but we have so much bread-fruit before hand from the trade and presents of yesterday that [it] is immaterial whether we buy any or not today.
7. After dinner Dootahah came in a double canoe, after him came another bringing 4 hogs and one of these he orderd out of the boat with some bread fruit. I undertook to coax him out of the rest but had not the success I could have wishd, he would part with only one more and for that both the Capth and myself were obligd to go aboard with him and give him a broad ax.
8. Msrs Molineux and Green went to the eastward today in the pinnace intending to purchase hoggs. They went 20 miles, saw many hogs and one turtle but the people would part with neither one nor the other, they belongd they said to Dootahah and without his leave they could not sell them. We now begin to think that page 274 Dootahah is indeed a great king much greater than we have been usd to imagine him, indeed his influence upon the late occasion as well as today has prov'd to be so great that we can hardly doubt it. Mr Green measurd today a tree which he saw, it provd to be 60 yards in circumference. He brought home some boughs of it but they were thrown overboard before I could see them so the species of this monstrous tree remains a doubt with us.1
This morn I fix'd my little boat before the door of the Fort, it serves very well for a place to trade in. Trade is not now as it has been, formerly we usd to buy enough for all hands between sunrise and 8 O'Clock now attendance must be given all day or little can be done.
9. Cocoa nuts have been for some days rather scarce, we are therefore obligd for the first time to bring out our nails. Last night our smallest size about 4 inches long was offerd for 20 Cocoa nutts, accordingly this morn several came with that number so that we had plenty of them. Smaller lots as well as bread fruit sold as usual for beads.
Soon after breakfast Came Oborea, Obadee and Tupia bringing a hog and some breadfruit; they stayd with us till night then took away their canoe and promisd to return in 3 days. We had to day 350 Cocoa nuts and more bread fruit than we would buy so that we aproach our former plenty.
10. This morn Captn Cooke planted divers seeds which he had brought with him in a spot of ground turnd up for the purpose. They were all bought of Gordon at Mile End and sent in bottles seald up, whether or no that method will succeed the event of this plantation will shew. Plenty of Bread fruit and cocoanuts again today. Towards evening Tubourai and Tomio returnd from the west and seemd extreemly glad to see all of us.
1 Since a tree circumference of 60 yards is incredible any identification here can only be conjectural. Dr A. C. Smith suggests the Polynesian fig, Ficus prolixa Forst.— if the combination of a mass of closely grown aerial roots together with the main trunk be admitted.
2 O Tahiti: O as the nominative article. Cf. p. 271, n. 1 above. Banks's phonetic rendering (his i would be long, as in ‘time’) differs rather on paper, but perhaps not in intention, from the ‘Otaheite’ used by Cook and others, and perhaps no more from the classical pronunciation of the name than does the present version. There was in this older pronunciation a ‘forced diphthong’ or ‘vowel glide’ that tended to play down the intermediate h and assimilate somewhat the a of the first syllable and the i of the second.
11. Cocoa nuts were brought down so plentifully this morn that by ½ past 6 I had bought 350: this made it nescessary to drop the price of them least so many being brought at once we should exhaust the countrey and want hereafter; notwistanding I had before night bought more than a thousand at the rates of 6 for an amber coulourd bead, 10 for a white one, and 20 for a fortypenny nail.1
1 A ‘fortypenny nail’ was a nail 4½ inches long, sold at forty pence for a hundred.
2 The MS has a space here for the name of the tree from which the second bough came, which with Banks's lack of punctuation has led to corruption in P—i.e. ‘he advanced towards me bringing to one a young plantain the other’ etc. S has the blank, and punctuates ‘two; one a young plantain, the other’ etc.
3 A marginal note gives her name as Ourattooa: Uratua or Ura-atua?
1 The precise meaning of this pleasant ceremony is not easy to disentangle. The formal presentation of cloth by stripping off large quantities of it from the body until the officiating young woman was almost naked was common enough practice, and the ceremony was called taurua. But this one has points of difference: it may have been merely an elaboration, or as the plantain had phallic significance it may (the suggestion has been made) have symbolized the generous feelings entertained by the female population of the district towards the young and attractive Banks. No such ceremony appears to have been performed for Cook or any other of the English identifiable as arii; and yet Cook was clearly the greatest chief of all.
2 ? O Tahiatahia (the tah sound often came to the European ear as th); or possibly Tiatia. Parkinson writes the name Otea Tea.
About 11 one of the natives atempted to scale our walls intending no doubt to steal whatever he could find, but seeing himself observd he made off much faster than any of our people could follow him.
14. Our freinds Dootahah, Oborea, Otheothea &c. at the tents this morn as usual. It being Sunday Captn Cooke proposd that divine service should be celebrated1 but before the proper time of doing it most of our Indian freinds were gone home to eat. I was resolvd however that some should be present that they might see our behaviour and we might if possible explain to them (in some degree at least) the reasons of it. I went therefore over the river and brought back Tubourai and Tomio and having seated them in the tent plac'd myself between them. During the whole service they imitated my motions, standing setting or kneeling as they saw me do, and so much understood that we were about something very serious that they calld to the Indians without the fort to be silent; notwisthstanding this they did not when the service was over ask any questions nor would they attend at all to any explanation we attempted to give them. We have not yet seen the least traces of religion among these people, maybe they are intirely without it.
1 Cook had been both recommended by Lord Morton and enjoined by the Articles of War to give frequent performance to Divine Worship; he, like Banks, mentions it for this day, but from neither would one gather that it was a constant practice. Nor does Cook appear to have read the service, while Banks clearly was more interested in Polynesian theology. Other logs and journals however mention a Sunday service more frequently, and whatever part of the ship's company was not indispensably employed got a half-day off ‘at their own Leisure’.
2 MS sic; a slip for hapning? S writes having, and adds happened interlineally. P having, which does not make sense, though Banks may have intended having been done.
16. The morning wet and disagreable. We hauld the Seine in several parts of the bay without the least success; the Indians are so fond of fish and so expert in catching it, using almost every method we do in Europe, that our want of success is not at all to be wonderd at. Tonight Tubourai, Tamio, Oborea, Obadee and Otheothea slept in my tent. At midnight the water casks were again atempted and two shot fird at the theif which alarmd my bedfellows not a little, they were however soon quieted by my going out and bringing back word of the reason of the firing.
17. Fine weather. Oborea and her freinds went early to Eparre as the rest of our cheifs did yesterday in 18 double canoes, so that we are quite dull for want of company in the tents. Tubourai and Tamio slept with me as usual.
18. Fine weather and good market, the apples1 begin now to be ripe and are brought in in large quantities very cheap so that apple pies are a standing dish with us.
1 This may be either the fruit of the Vi or yellow apple, Spondias dulcis, also called the Brazilian plum (Parkinson says it was the size of a middling apple); or the Ahia, Eugenia malaccensis, the East Indian jambo, commonly called in Tahiti (apart from its native name) the rose-apple or mountain apple, which however has a pear-shaped fruit— I think more likely the former; cf. pp. 342–3 below, and PL. VI.
20. Rain and very disagreeable weather so that we had but little trade. About 10 Oborea came to the fort and brough[t] a large present of bread fruit, she had with her Otheothea and her other maids of honour as we call them but Obadee her gentleman attendant was absent. We enquird the reason, she told us that she had dismiss'd him; about 8 however he came by torch light and going to the house in the woods where she slept slept with her.
21. Sunday, Divine service performd, at which was present Oborea, Otheothea, Obadee, &c. all behav'd very decently. After dinner Obadee who had been for some time absent returnd to the fort. Oborea desird he might not be let in, his countenance was however so melancholy that we could not but admit him. He lookd most piteously at Oborea, she most disdainfully at him; she seems to us to act in the character of a Ninon d'Enclos1 who satiated with her lover resolves to change him at all Events, the more so as I am offerd if I please to supply his place, but I am at present otherwise engag'd; indeed was I free as air her majesties person is not the most desireable.
1 Banks's scholarship had lapses. Ninon de l'Enclos (1620–1705), the free and dazzling mistress of the most celebrated of seventeenth century salons. The passage which follows, that Banks was ‘at present otherwise engag'd’, does not seem to refer to Miss Blosset.
2 It is difficult to know what Banks meant by ‘the lowest of the two high hills seen from the fort’. There were a number of high hills visible: if he meant the highest, Aorai or one of the peaks of Orofena, he was making a serious miscalculation of distance and accessibility.
23. Trade very slack today, so much so that we have only Cocoa nuts for the sick, and the people are obligd to have bread servd them at dinner.
24. We had receivd repeated messages from Dootahah signifying that if we would go and visit him we should have 4 hogs for our pains; in consequence of this our first Lieutenant was sent today with orders to go to him and try if by any civilities he could shew him he could procure them. He found him removd from his old residence at Eparre to a place calld Tettaháh1 about 5 miles farther. He was reciv'd with great cordiality, one hog was immediately producd and he was told that the others should be brough[t] somewhere from a distance if he would stay till next morning. This he did not at all scruple, the morning came however without the hogs so he was obligd to return with the one he had got over night not a little dissatisfied with Dootahahs nonperformance of his promises.
MSRS Monkhouse and Green atempted this day to climb the same hill that I attempted on the 22nd, with much the same success; they got however higher than I did but could not reach the summit.
25. Tubourai and Tamio made their appearance at the fort for the first time since the breach of the 19th, he in particular seemd much frightned nor did my behavior to him give him much comfort. I had resolvd not to restore him either to my freindship or confidence unless he restord the nails which he seemd to have no intention of dooing; after staying a little time he went home sulky as he came.
26. Mr Monkhouse who I think is rather too partial to Tubourai went this morn to his house intending to persuade him to come to the tents. He made many excuses, he was hungry, he must sleep, his head achd, in short he would not nor did not come. Tamio however did but took alarm at my being absent who was aboard of the ship and soon departed.
1 Tataa, an old name for the district of Faaa, adjoining Pare. Point Tataa on the modern map is the seaward limit of the line separating Faaa from the Punaauia district. The harbour of the district was the present Papeete harbour.
1 The wood-boring shipworm, Teredo sp.
2 A slip for Westward.
3 This may have been at Point Punaauia, where there was a great marae; but it may also have been at Tuteha's marae of Maraetaata, about two miles farther on. We do not know where the party started walking; for Tettaha as a place name is almost as vague as Atahourou. Why the boat could not go farther is unclear, unless Cook feared difficulty with the reef. He himself merely says, ‘as we had left the Boat about half way behind us we were oblige'd to take up our quarters with him for the night’.
4 receivd, and a hog, P received with a hog; S received, & a hog immediately brought [brought added interlineally].
29. At day break we rose according to the custom of our companions. Tupia was the first man I saw, atending with my Musquet and the remainder of my cloaths, his faith had often been tried, on this occasion it shone very much. Oborea took care to provide me with cloth to supply the place of my lost Jacket so that I made a motley apearance, my dress being half English and half Indian. Dootahah soon after made his apearance; I pressd him to recover my Jacket but neither he nor Oborea would take the least step towards it so that I am almost inclind to beleive that they acted principals in the theft. Indeed if they did it may be said in their excuse that they knew I had in my pockets a pair of pistols, weopons to them more dreadfull than a cannon to a man marching up to its mouth: could they get possession of them they thought no doubt that they would be as usefull to them as to us; self defence and preservation therefore in this case came in opposition to the laws of hospitality, duties to which mankind usualy give the preference in all cases.
1 Parkinson (p. 31) tells us that ‘Mr. Banks lost his white jacket and waistcoat, with silver frogs’. The contrast between Banks the elegant spark and Banks the anthropological researcher will later become apparent.
2 Cook does not refer to these ‘two young gentlemen’; I take it they were two of the midshipmen.
In our return to the boat we saw the Indians amuse or excersise themselves in a manner truly surprizing. It was in a place where the shore was not guarded by a reef as is usualy the case, consequently a high surf fell upon the shore, a more dreadfull one I have not often seen: no European boat could have landed in it and I think no European who had by any means got into [it] could possibly have saved his life, as the shore was coverd with pebbles and large stones. In the midst of these breakers 10 or 12 Indians were swimming who whenever a surf broke near them divd under it with infinite ease, rising up on the other side; but their cheif amusement was carried on by the stern of an old canoe, with this before them they swam out as far as the outermost breach, then one or two would get into it and opposing the blunt end to the breaking wave were hurried in with incredible swiftness. Sometimes they were carried almost ashore but generaly the wave broke over them before they were half way, in which case the[y] divd and quickly rose on the other side with the canoe in their hands, which was towd out again and the same method repeated. We stood admiring this very wonderfull scene for full half an hour, in which time no one of the actors atempted to come ashore but all seemd most highly entertaind with their strange diversion.
30. Carpenters employd today in repairing the long boat which is eat in a most wonderfull manner, every part of her bottom is like a honeycomb and some of the holes £⅛th of an inch in diameter, such a progress has this destructive insect made in six weeks.
31. The day of Observation now aproaches. The weather has been for some days fine, tho in general since we have been upon the Island we have had as much cloudy as clear weather, which makes us all not a little anxious for success. In consequence of hints from Lord Morton the Captn resolves to send a party to the eastward, and another to Imáo, an Island in sight of us,1 thinking that in case of thick weather one or the other might be more successfull than the observatory. The Carpenters work very hard to finish the long boat. I resolve to go on the Imáo expedition.
1 Cook and others generally spelt the name of the island Eimeo; it was Aimeo or Aimeho, clearly visible from Point Venus; now called Moorea.