Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

September 1769

September 1769

1. Blows very fresh with a heavy sea; the ship was very troublesome all last night and is not less so today. Many birds are about but not so many as yesterday, there are however ail the sorts.

2. Wind still fresher, ship lays too. Bird[s] of all the sorts before mentiond in great numbers round her. In the evening the weather moderates and the sea falls fast. At night the comet was seen brighter than when last observd but the tail was something shorter, which when last seen measurd 42 degrees in lengh. Great sea from WSW. At 4 lat. 40°.

3. Sea quite down, a pleasant breeze. Few birds today about the ship, cheifiy Pintado birds and black beakd Albatrosses.

4. Almost calm, few birds as yesterday. In the Evening a light breeze springs up and the sun sets among many dark black clouds edg'd with fiery red, which is lookd upon by some seamen as a sure sign of a gale of wind.

5. In the morn a pleasant breeze which increasd gradualy till about 4 when it blew fresh; about 6 hard rain came on which made both sea and wind fall in a very short time. Many birds were seen today, all of the 2nd and two that had not been seen before, probably varieties of the common albatross; one at a distance appeard snow white but nearer was easily seen to be thickly powderd page 391 over with small grey spotts,1 the other milk white except the tipps of the wings which were black as in Gannetts.2 Saw a peice of rock weed.

6. Moderate all day: few individuals of Birds but all the sorts of yesterday.

7. Blows fresh: many birds, all the sorts of yesterday and one added to the number, a shearwater of the common size (of a sea gull) black above and white underneath except his chin and neck which were black.3 A seal seen.

8. Little wind in the morn, at noon calm with rain; few birds seen all of the common sorts. Great swell from SW.

9. Fair wind, light breeze and very pleasant weather: a small peice of sea weed was seen; few birds only the Pintado and small shearwater.

10. This morn a fog bank was seen upon our quarter which much resembled land, we bore after it but were soon convincd of our mistake. More birds than yesterday: Pintado birds, both the albatrosses, the small grey backd bird like a dove (Mother Careys dove), the grey backd shearwater of the 31st, and a small kind of Mother Careys chicken black above and white underneath.4

11. Fine weather and few birds.

12. Moderate. Saw another of the small bird of the 20th5 which are the only two that have yet been observd. Swell from SSW.

13. Almost calm all last night; weather today very uncertain, breezes succeeding calms. Few birds are about the ship, two were however seen swimming in the water that were perfectly white and appeard larger than Albatrosses.6

1 No white albatross has grey spots. This bird was perhaps a Giant Petrel, Macronectes giganteus, which is rather smaller than a Wandering Albatross. It has two colour phases, a grey and a white—the latter less common and mostly found in the southern part of the bird's range, the Antarctic continent. It wanders as far north as the tropics. Old-time sailors called it Stinker; the modern vernacular name is Nellie.

2 Cook compared these birds with some seen off Tahiti which were almost certainly the Blue-faced Booby, Sula dactylatra Lesson; these observed by Banks were probably the same species.

3 This shearwater may have been the Tahitian Petrel, Pterodroma rostrata Peale.

4 One of these storm petrels was shot on 19 September; Solander described it (p. 59) and called it Procellaria passerina; it was closely allied to Pelagodroma marina (Latham). Murphy considers that it differs markedly, however, from the known Pacific races (Amer. Mus. Novit. 1506, 1951, p. 16) and is ‘identifiable only as a representative of the species Marina but of unknown source as regards nesting station’.

5 This must be a slip—perhaps for the 30th?—as the only bird seen on 20 August was an albatross.

6 Probably old male Wandering Albatrosses.

page 392

14. Weather much as yesterday; swell from SSW.

15. Fresh breeze of wind but fair abundance of birds are again about the ship, both the Albatrosses, Pintados, grey backd shearwater, black backd d° of the 7th, Dove. In the even it blew hard, myself far from well, complaint much like sea sickness.

16. Weather rather more moderate but still blows fresh. My self rather better but still very sick at the stomach which continualy supplys a thin acid liquor which I discharge by vomit. Birds as yesterday.

17. Moderate, few birds; myself quite well.

18. Moderate this morn, several pintados and albatrosses; in the evening quite calm.

19. Quite calm today go out in the boat and shoot Procellaria velox1 (the dove of the 31st), vagabunda2 (the grey backd shearwater of the same day), Passerina3 (the small mother Careys chicken of the 10th). Took with the dipping net Medusa vitrea4 Phillodoce velella5 to one specimen of which stuck Lepas anatifera,6 Doris complanata,7 Helix violacea,8 Cancer….9 Very few birds were to be seen, there were however some Albatrosses and a kind of Shearwater quite black which I was not fortunate enough to shoot. A large hollow swell from the South.

20. Uncertain weather, Calms and light breezes often succeeding each other; few birds about the ship.

21. Pleasant breeze: some birds about us, Albatrosses and black and grey shearwaters.

22. Moderate. Few birds cheifly Albatrosses and Pintados; towards night a large flock of Black shearwaters are seen that do not change their place but keep hovering as if some prey was under them;10 two whales were also seen. Southerly swell still continued.

1 Pterodroma sp., one of the gadfly petrels recorded by Solander.

2 Pterodroma lessonii (Garnot), the White-headed Petrel; Solander, pp. 95–6.

3 See note 10 September on Pelagodroma marina Latham.

4 Solander remarks (p. 459) that this was close to Medusa radiata and M. fimbriata; these are MS names for Aequorea forskalia Péron and Lesueur, so it is likely that M. vitrea, no figure of which is known, is an Aequorea sp.

5 Velella velella; cf. 7 October 1768.

6 The Goose Barnacle; cf. 9 October 1768.

7 A planarian, Planocera sp., probably gaimardi Blainville 1828, which is synonymous with pellucida (Martens) 1832. See Parkinson III, pl. 24, painted on this very day. Solander, p. 409.

8 Janthina globosa Swainson; cf. 7 October 1768.

9 Unidentified.

10 Probably Sooty Shearwaters.

page 393

23. Moderate today. Several birds are about the ship cheifly Pintados and Albatrosses; in the evening another flock of Black shearwaters passd the ship and soon after two whales were seen.

Dr Solander has been unwell for some days so today I opend Dr Hulme's Essence of Lemon Juice, Mr Monkhouse having prescribd it for him, which provd perfectly good, little if at all inferior in taste to fresh lemon juice. We also today made a pye of the North American apples which Dr Fothergill1 gave me, which provd very good, if not quite equal to the apple pyes which our freinds in England are now eating, good enough to please us who have been so long deprivd of the fruits of our native Countrey. In the main however we are very well off for refreshments and provisions of most species: our ships beef and Pork are excellent as are the peas; the flour and oatmeal which have at some times faild us are at present and have in general been very good. Our water is as sweet and has rather more spirit than it had when drank out of the river at Otahite. Our bread indeed is but indifferent, occasiond bv the quantity of Vermin that are in it, I have often seen hundreds nay thousands shaken out of a single bisket. We in the Cabbin have however an easy remedy for this by baking it in an oven, not too hot, which makes them all walk off, but this cannot be allowd to the private people who must find the taste of these animals very disagreable, as they every one taste as strong as mustard or rather spirits of hartshorn. They are of 5 kinds, 3 Tenebrios, 1 Ptinus and the Phalangium cancroides;2 this last is however scarce in the common bread but was vastly plentyfull in white Deal bisket as long as we had any left.

Wheat was allowd to the ships company which has been boild for their breakfasts 2 or 3 times a week in the same manner as firmity3 is made; this has I beleive been a very usefull refreshment to them as well as an agreable food, which myself and most of the officers in the ship have constantly breakfasted upon in the cold

1 For Fothergill see p. 58 above. It is quite possible that the apples Banks refers to were sent from Pennsylvania by the notable American naturalist John Bartram, who shipped seeds, plants, live bull-frogs, bird skins, etc. to both Fothergill and Collinson, who in turn distributed the produce to their friends. But we have no documentary confirmation of this hypothesis.

2 Some tenebrionid beetles are practically cosmopolitan and all stages occur in flour and other stored products. Beetles of the family Ptinidae are similarly destructive pests. Phalangium cancroides is the pseudoscorpion, Chelifer cancroides, which is a scavenger and would have been feeding not on biscuit but on the eggs etc. of the other pests.

3 Firmity (furmety or frumenty): ‘A dish made of hulled wheat boiled in milk, and seasoned with cinnamon, sugar, etc.’—O.E.D. The Endeavour variety must have been simplified, as one ship's goat could not possibly have kept up with the demand for milk. Cook had anything boiled with the wheat that seemed useful—raisins, wort, portable soup, greens.

page 394 weather; the grain was originaly of a good quality and has kept without the least damage. This however cannot be said of the Malt of which we have plainly had two kinds, one very good but that has been some time ago us'd; that that is at present in use is good for nothing at all, it has been originaly of a bad light grain and so little care has been taken in the making of it that the tails are left in with innumerable other kinds of Dirt; add to all this that it has been damp'd on board the ship so that with all the care that can be usd it will scarce give a tincture to water. Portable Soup is very good, it has now and then requird an airing which has hinderd it from moulding. Sour Crout is as good as ever and I have not the least doubt of its remaining so.

So much for the Ship's Company. We ourselves are hardly as well of as them; our live stock consists of 17 Sheep, 4 or 5 fowls, as many S. Sea hogs, 4 or 5 Muscovy ducks, an English boar and sow with a litter of piggs; in the use of these we are rather sparing as the time of our Getting a supply is rather precarious. Salt Stock we have nothing worth mentioning except a kind of Salt Beef which was put up by one Mellish a butcher at New Crane Stairs, which is by much the best salt meat I have ever tasted, and Our Salted Cabbage, see p. 2101 which is now as good as it was then.

Our Malt liquors have answerd extreemly well: we have now both small beer and Porter upon tap as good as I ever drank them, especialy the latter which was bought of Sam. & Jno. Curtiss at Wapping New Stairs. The Small beer had some art usd to make it keep, it was bought of Bruff & Taylor in Hog Lane near St Giles's. Our wine I cannot say much for tho I beleive it to be good in its nature, we have not a glass fine these many months I beleive cheifly owing to the Carelessness or ignorance of the Steward.

24. Weather very moderate: some birds seen, in the morning a flock. A peice of sea weed and a peice of wood or something that lookd like it and was coverd with Barnacles were seen from the ship.

25. Fine weather and fair wind: several birds seen of most of the usual sorts.

26. Blows fresh today: fewer birds in sight than usual in such weather. Several large leaves of sea weed have been seen to go by the Ship today but no heaps of it.

1 i.e. p. 249 above.

page 395

27. Blows fresh still. A good deal of sea weed has been seen this morn some in heaps as much together as would fill a large wheelbarrow; after dinner a Seal is seen asleep upon the water which gives new life to our hopes. In the evening a shoal of Porpoises black upon the back, white under the belly and upon the nose, with either no back fin or one placd very far behind.1 Few birds today, but some of almost all the kinds we have usualy seen.

28. Blows fresh all day: some but not many birds seen, several heaps of sea weed pass by the ship.

29. Pleasant weather: birds more plentiful than usual in such weather; about noon saw one like a snipe but less and with a short bill which I judge to be a land bird.2 Mr Gore saw a bird which he calls a Port Egmont hen which he describes to be brown on the back, like a gull in size and shape, but flyes like a crow flapping its wings.3 Some large heaps of sea weed have been seen; some of the gentlemen upon deck think that the colour of the water is chang'd consequently we are in soundings.

30. Pleasant weather: several small peices of weed go by the ship; one was taken with the hoave or dipping net, it seemd not to have been long at sea as it was not much broken or rubbd.

1 Probably the Right Whale Dolphin, Lissodelphis peroni (Lacépède); this has no dorsal fin.

2 Unidentified. There are various migratory waders which pass through this area.

3 A southern form of the Great Skua, Catharacta skua Brünnich; another race is common at Port Egmont in the Falkland Islands, hence the popular name.