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

The Transcripts

The Transcripts

The five MS copies of the journals are two of them contemporary, one was made in the early nineteenth century, one in the mid-1830's, and one towards the end of that century. The first two are useful in annotating the original.

  • (1) A careful copy made by Sarah Sophia Banks, in the possession of the present Lord Brabourne; referred to in footnotes as S. Two volumes quarto, pp.435, 703. The copying took a long time, as it must have been begun soon after the return of the ship, and went on into 1775. In 1772 Sarah Sophia was busy also copying Banks's other journals, long and short — so that as a sister she was more than dutiful. Different sections have different title pages, as follows: (i) ‘Copy of Journal from Plymouth to Terra del Fuego. Including an Account of Terra del Fuego’. Signed at the top, ‘S:S:Banks 1771’; pp. 1–177. (ii) ‘Copy of Journal from Cape Horn to the page 142 Islands in The Pacifick Ocean. Including an Account of the Islands in the Pacifick Ocean’. Signed at the top, ‘S:S:Banks 1771 to page 217. From thence (beginning with page 217. and ending with page 435.) 1772’. (iii) ‘Copy of Journal from the Islands in the Pacifick Ocean to New Zealand. Including an Account of New Zealand’. Signed at the top ‘S S Banks 1772 to page 49. From thence (beginning with page 49, & ending with page 228.) 1773’. (iv) ‘Copy of Journal from New Zealand to the Islands of Savu. Including an Account of Savu’. Signed at top, ‘S:S:Banks 1773’. This part finishes on p. 486. (v) ‘Copy of Journal from Savu to the Cape of Good Hope. Including an account of the Cape of Good Hope’. Signed at the top, ‘S:S:Banks 1773 to page 501. From thence (beginning with page 501, & ending with page 666.) 1774. From thence (beginning with page 667, and ending with page 674.) January 4th 1775’. (vi) ‘Copy of Journal from the Cape of Good Hope Home’. Signed at top, ‘S:S:Banks 1775. Began this part in January. Finished February ye 13. 1775’. The last page has again a note of the date when it was finished.

This copy is important because of a number of additional notes, referred to on the title page of (iv): ‘mem: the loose bits of paper pasted in different places are not copied from the Journal, but are only occasional memorandums & observations’. These memo randums & observations’ are in the main obviously supplied by Banks himself, it would appear in answer to questions from Sarah Sophia, but at least in one place to add a further observation of his own on ‘betel-chewing’ (see II, p. 166, n. below). A few others seem to be notes by Sarah Sophia, commenting on statements made: e.g. the arithmetical correction on II, p. 238, n. Sarah Sophia, even less of a classical scholar than her brother, declined transcribing a large amount of scientific terminology, and very soon has her own note, frequently repeated, ‘For the future shall omit copying the Latin names & instead of them only put a serpentine dash — to avoid numberless mistakes’; and omits the catalogues of plants altogether. Her copy therefore is of only secondary use to the natural historian. On the other hand it re-spells and punctuates, its readings are welcome in some cases of dubious legibility in the original; while it supplies several words omitted in Banks's MS, and thus does away with the need for conjectural emendation. The delicacy of Sarah Sophia's mind is witnessed by her inability to bring herself to copy out certain words in full, and by the dashes (not serpentine) she accordingly adopts: ‘the detestable vice of S — y’ (p. 461 below); ‘the B — ks which in the Islands was the page 143 principal seat of this ornament’— i.e. of tattooing (II, p. 14 below). In the account of the Cape the passage about the ‘Grand Quaere’ (II, p. 260) is entirely omitted and the paragraph in which it occurs finishes at the words ‘part of their Food’.

  • (2) A copy made for Banks's friend Constantine Phipps (1744–92), in the hand of a professional clerk, and now in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington; referred to in footnotes as P. It is entitled ‘Journal kept by Joseph Banks Esqr From August 25th 1768 To July 12th 1771’; two volumes quarto, pp. 375, 593. The second volume begins with 15 August 1769. Both volumes bear the book-plate of the ‘Honble Constantine John Phipps’; and as Phipps succeeded to his Irish peerage as the 2nd Baron Mulgrave in 1775, the assumption is that the copy was made before that date. Not merely was Phipps a close friend of Banks, but he collected ‘a library the most perfect in England as to all works of naval science, with many unpublished charts and notes of soundings’,1 so that his eagerness to possess the journal may be understood. This copy is the work of a good writer, who regularizes Banks's eccentricities, and leaves spaces, where he cannot read a word, to be filed in later; some of these appear to have been filled by Banks himself, so that the copy has some claim to be regarded as authoritative. Presumably it came on the market with the breaking up of Phipps's library; it was bought by Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull in 1892 from Henry Sotheran and Co.2

  • (3) A copy belonging to Lord Stanley of Alderley, now on loan to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. It seems likely that this copy was made for Sir John Stanley (1766–1850) of Alderley Park in Cheshire, F.R.S. 1790, Baron Stanley of Alderley 1839, who had followed Banks's example in visiting Iceland, and had published an Account of the Hot Spring at Edinburgh in 1791. Unlike the copies previously described, this was written in uniform large quarto blank volumes, already bound: Vol. I runs from 25 August 1768 to 31 July 1770, 494 pp.; Vol. II from 1 August 1770 to 12 July 1771, 237 pp., the remainder blank. The date of the copy is uncertain, but the paper of the first volume is watermarked 1804, that of the second 1807,3 so that it is probable it was made before or about 1810. This was within Banks's lifetime, but he could not

    1 Gent. Mag., lxii, p. 965.

    2 A. H. Turnbull to William Carruthers, 26 May 1898—a letter preserved inside the front cover of the Dawson Turner copy in the Botanical Library of the British Museum (Natural History).

    3 The information given to me, and printed in Cook I, pp. ccxxxix, that the watermark of the whole MS is Whatman 1809, is erroneous.

    page 144 have taken any interest in it. It is done in a rather ungainly hand, with not a few misreadings: e.g. 3 June 1769, ‘Pandenus Lectinus’ for Pandanus Tectorius; 6 June 1769, ‘Oritta’ for Orette; among other proper names, ‘Terutu’ for Teratu; in the discussion of the New Zealand language, the particle ‘the’, writes Banks, ‘was generaly He, or Ko’ — which becomes ‘was generally He, or She’; and so on. This copy, therefore, while it has the interest of relative antiquity, has not much other interest, and is of no importance textually.
  • (4) The copy made for Dawson Turner, c. 1834–5; two volumes fol., pp. 351 (+ 8 on electrical experiments), 461; now in the Botanical Library of the British Museum (Natural History), South Kensington, with the other Dawson Turner transcripts. It was carefully done.

  • (5) A copy in the library of the Herbarium, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; three volumes fol. About 1893 Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker turned his attention towards editing and publishing the journal, for which purpose he was anxious to borrow the original from the then owner, Henniker Heaton.1 It was in 1894 that Heaton sold the MS to Alfred Lee; and with it safely out of reach Hooker seems to have temporarily given up his plan. He found, however, that he could get a transcript of the Dawson Turner copy, and on the three volumes of this transcript, those now in the Herbarium Library, he proceeded to operate. The end result was his Journal of the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks, Bart, K.B., P.R.S. during Captain Cook's first voyage in H.M.S. Endeavour in 1768–71 … (London 1896). Nothing can dim the botanical fame of Hooker, but at this time he was in his late seventies (he was born in 1817 and died in 1911) and his long and remarkable scientific career had never embraced any training in the treatment of historical documents. He was at a stage indeed when an eminent Victorian acted with vigour and entire lack of remorse. It is consequently difficult to forgive him for what he did. In his preface he remarks, ‘I have largely exercised my duties as editor in respect of curtailments’. 2 He exercised his duties with red ink. These volumes are not a journal, they are a scene of carnage: a sort of battlefield, where stricken battalions lie inanimate and bleeding, and mutilated captives, dragged from

    1 Letter from Francis Edwards to Alfred Lee, 16 November 1894; Mitchell MS 1808.

    2 p. xii. ‘The omitted portions are chiefly observations on the wind and weather; extracts from the ship's log, which find their proper place in Cook's Journal; innumerable notices of birds and marine animals that were of constant recurrence; and lists of plants and animals, many with MS. names that have been since superseded.’—Banks never, so far as I can tell, makes ‘extracts from the ship's log’: it is hard to understand why a scientist should be so summary with the other matters Hooker mentions.

    page 145 massacre, are forced beneath the triumphant general's yoke. Whole paragraphs, whole pages are scored through: what was left, Hooker did not hesitate to rewrite. It was an editor's duty to secure proper grammatical observance, proper spelling,1 a proper regard to the decencies. Certainly one may read Hooker's edition without a blush, for either Banks's syntax or his morals. Certainly in Banks's MS there is some repetition, as has been already pointed out; and certainly, in an editor of Hooker's period, one could forgive a moderate amount of tactful and judicious curtailment. But Hooker, in his 457 pages, reduces a text of something like 260,000 words to about 175,000. Certainly the book could not fail to be interesting. But it had ceased to be Banks's journal. It was something to do with a baronet, a Knight of the Bath, a President of the Royal Society. The three volumes at Kew remain an awful witness to a large conception of duty.

1 ‘… the grammar and orthography are in the original very loose, and I have therefore corrected the language to accord with modern requirements….’—ibid.