Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Life of Captain James Cook

VIII — Tahiti

page 172


There is no general agreement that Tahiti is the most beautiful island in the Pacific; but it is generally agreed that it is a beautiful island, and to its first discoverers it seemed paradisal. Coming to it after so many atolls, lagoons encircled by a broken rim of sand and coral, islet-studded, they saw a great volcanic upthrust high in the sea, rising from mere hilly slopes to five thousand, six thousand, seven thousand feet, forested and green till the final peaks; a land also of deep valleys and quick rivers. Almost round the slashed mountainous mass runs a narrow band of level fertile ground, widest at the north-west end, in places failing altogether, so that the steep hillside falls straight to the rocks of the sea;1 on the north are sandy beaches, on the south fewer beaches but much rough coral strand; at the south-east curve are coastal cliffs. The whole outline is a sort of irregular figure-of-eight; the larger, north-west, loftier section was, and is, known as Tahiti-nui, or Great Tahiti; the smaller, south-east, one as Tahiti-iti, or Little Tahiti—or more commonly in Cook's day as Taiarapu; between them lies the narrow flat isthmus of Taravao. A barrier reef, on which the swell drums and roars incessantly, girdles the island, half a mile to two miles off, though there is a break in it on the north, while a number of passes give canoes entrance to the lagoon. A larger one of these opened from the northern point of Matavai Bay, where the fresh water of a river discouraged coral growth, and it was here that Wallis had found his way into a harbour, and Cook followed him.

Matavai Bay, except for north-west and westerly winds, provides excellent shelter, and in the months when Wallis and Cook were there, those winds hardly blow. It is a superb bay, its long line of black volcanic sand backed by the tall innumerable pillars of coconut trees with their wild crowns, immobile and sculptured in a hot still noon or moon-charmed night, streaming like vast bunches of pennants on a rising wind; given sobriety by the deep green of the sandhaunting

1 Strictly speaking, this statement should be modified now, because of the motor-road that has been cut right round the island.

page 173 casuarinas, drooping and myriad-fingered; absorbing into a general pattern the splay-limbed untidy pandanus; backed with the splendid bread fruit and ancient-buttressed mape or chestnut, their arms extending in benedictions of plenty. If one stands on the flat sandy point that is the extremity of the bay, in fine weather, with gentle impulses of water from east and west meeting and mingling at one's feet, their level hardly altered by the tide, and gazes inwards, one sees a perfect curve, beyond and above it the cleft uneven lines of the nearer ridges—‘uneven as a piece of crumpled paper’ as Sidney Parkinson said; beyond them again, the great form of the mountain, its shoulders and steep flanks falling away still hung with green, the peak of Orofena. It is a view paralleled elsewhere in Tahiti, eye rising from beach and sea over forest and shadowed valley to the heights, but it does not lose its enchantment. Behind the beach flows out no longer to the point the lively river, the Vaipopoo, thirty feet wide, where Wallis and Cook filled their casks with fresh water—its course has changed, it is largely swamp that remains. The warm air remains, in bright day or soft night; the green of spontaneous growth, the smell of earth and blossom; enough remains to show why the eighteenth-century sailor should think himself imparadised, even without considering man or woman. There were defects, of course: there were flies, there were some of the characteristics of man and woman.

Cook had followed Wallis to the heart, the centre of Polynesia, geographically speaking. In the next ten years he was to find how far the Polynesian people had spread upon the ocean, was to remark differences between their different branches, was to account for differences as best he could, while he recognised certain things as fundamentally the same. Of certain preconceptions he could not rid himself: with island business to do, he needed some authority with whom to bargain; he felt, like other discoverers from Europe, that every considerable island or island-group should have a king; he felt that social and individual morality in relation to property rights should be the same as European morality. Wherever he got his own ideas from, he was inclined to fancy vague feudal systems before him; but how could a man, however perceptive, in a few weeks understand a language that was simple yet subtle, understand all the institutions and relations of chiefship, understand the implications and the indications of tapu, the sacred, the forbidden, the penalty-ridden; understand the structure of society and its classes; apprehend courtesies and obligations; separate the ritual of sex from orgiastic displays, or an island freedom from the commercial libertinage of page 174 the sea-shore? Observation of canoes and houses, weapons and domestic artifacts, was a simpler thing. Cook and Banks were eager observers of everything their eyes rested on, and they did their best to understand, their journals are the foundation of Polynesian anthropology and of some Polynesian history. They register an honest, but a gradual, process of discovery; and the very queries with which Cook was left, his half-statements, his own implications, have been starting-points for later investigators. It now began to be fortunate that he had Banks with him: the young man, with plenty of time at his disposal while Solander worked on plants and fishes, revealed a universal interest and the happiest gift for getting on with people, whether men or women; and his susceptibility to the latter—who can forget ‘the very pretty girl with a fire in her eyes’?—was welcomed and echoed by them. As a coadjutor, as a junior manager, he was invaluable; as an observer he was excellent; he was excited but not often thoughtless—he could, even, be more cautious than Cook; he was sympathetic, amused, accurate. It is obvious that his journal and Cook's lay open before each other; obvious that he was baffled by some things as much as Cook was. It is obvious that neither was sentimental enough at that time to nourish the thought of Noble Savages.

The name the island was known by to its inhabitants was learnt soon enough—Otaheite, O Tahiti, ‘It is Tahiti’.1 Its population of ‘Indians’ may be guessed, without confidence, as upwards of 50,000; and perhaps that of its near neighbours should be taken into this total. It was not settled in villages, but scattered visibly in single huts and small groups all round the verge of flat land, less visibly throughout the valleys and over the uplands. The high valleys also gave refuge to the fugitive and to the oppressed; for there was a class-structure and varying degrees of prosperity, there could be oppression; and, though desperate warfare was rare, it was not unknown, briefly. The coming of Europeans was almost coincidental with one of these brief periods, and, not unnaturally, led on to another and longer one. The remains, however, of Tahitian building are not those of forts but of marae—the coral-stone structures of courtyard and ‘altar’, small or large, that almost innumerably dotted the land, the centres of religious ceremonial for families or communities or craftgroups; highly important when they belonged to chiefly families, the importance of whose members themselves might be measured by

1 The ‘O’ is really untranslatable. It is an article prefixed to proper names when in the nominative case. O Tahiti might equally well be rendered ‘The Tahiti’. Other examples are the personal names ‘Oborea’ and ‘Otoo’ for O Purea, O Too; or the name of the district, Oparre for O Pare.

page 175 their seats on the marae, immensely tapu or sacred, surrounded with sacred trees, ministered to by a priesthood the very language of whose invocations was an esoteric thing; less important as social rank declined, yet, whether the centre of human sacrifice or of a more ordinary ritual, the abode of awe and the visiting-places of gods. Tahitian society, that is—as was to become apparent to the European mind only gradually—Polynesian society in general, was in its own terms a profoundly religious society. The secular also was sacred. Chiefs—the ari'i—were sacred in their degrees; most sacred of all were the ari'i rahi, particularly the three great heads of clans who might in some sort present to men from a different world the quality of ‘kings’. The ari'i commanded and was obeyed; he was addressed in special forms; his person, his clothing, his possessions were protected by tapu; he had, as we have seen, his marae; he had his mountain and his promontory, his symbols of authority, his staff and spear; his authority extended even to the rahui, the laying of a prohibition in his district on the use of the produce of land or sea or industry, for his own convenience or that of the community—to anticipate a festival, to conserve maturing breadfruit, or fish in the spawning season. The sanctity of the ari'i rahi extended even beyond all this, to the ground on which he trod, his very presence; when he came men stripped off their clothing to the waist, women below their shoulders, as they did when passing by houses that belonged to him, or the sacred images connected with his tapu. He himself could never appear in public on foot, nor enter the house of a subject, and consequently was carried on men's shoulders, staying only in houses set aside for the purpose; and there was protection in this for the subject, to whom the ground was indispensable, who did not wish his dwelling to become in an instant the property of his chief. The commoner who infringed any of the chiefly tapu would, it was believed, either die or be afflicted by o‘ovi ari'i, ‘chief's leprosy'. An ari'i first-born was regarded with a particular veneration, all the more if male: he was recognised immediately as the head of the family, and his father, or his mother, took on the role of regent. A regent of course may exercise considerable power. But the power of the ari'i rahi or his regent was not equal to his privilege, his social consequence; he could not command the obedience of other chiefs, even in his own district; there was great scope for personality. Hence Wallis's acceptance of Oborea, or Purea, as a queen, the magic of her name in England; hence Cook's bafflement, sometimes, as his experience continued, over who might be the really great man with whom he should deal.
page 176

We need pay little attention to sub-orders of chiefdom: the great bulk of the population were manahune, or commoners, the fishermen, the cultivators of taro or yam, the gatherers of coconuts and breadfruit and bananas and the wild upland plantains, the labourers of house-building and canoe-building and stone-carrying. They looked after the pigs and fowls and dogs that marked the island animal economy; they included the hereditary retainers of ari'i called teuteu—taken by Cook, quite wrongly, for slaves. There were skilled handicraftmen, able artists who could tattoo buttocks and thighs. Their women beat out and stained the fabric of bark cloth, tapa, which was the substance of clothing—the loin-cloth or maro, the skirt or pareu, cloaks and mantles—and was bestowed in ceremonial gifts; wove mats and sails; pounded food. There were differences enough in personality among them, as among chiefs, though few among them could resist the temptation proffered by European goods, whether useful to them or useless, but particularly nails and edged tools; commoners as well as chiefs were highly curious; islanders generally turned out to be ‘prodigious expert’ as thieves. It was the less restrained young women of this social order who provided seamen with such advantageous entertainment, the lithe and laughing girls who were always ready to dance, whose impromptu dances on the beach seemed to the graver mind so often lascivious. Island sexual morals took on a delightful simplicity to the first visitors; and although it was not quite simple, there is reason to think this Central Polynesian culture as profoundly permeated with sex as it was with religion. Certainly there was a great deal made of the sexual relation in the institution of the arioi, the people whom Cook could not otherwise describe than as ‘strolling players’; and to the uninstructed view, their ‘libertinage’ and their practice of infanticide might seem much more impressive than their secular and religious functions in the social pattern. They were a trained and graded society, celebrating in dance the seasonal festivals and those that marked the great events of communal life—like the birth, marriage or inauguration of ari'i—and providing a great part of the mime, drama and wrestling that were favourite social diversions. They toured the island group in fleets of consecrated canoes, were met with gifts and with joy; their god was the god of peace and fertility. It is probable that Cook was entertained by arioi more often than he knew.

It is probable that, more often than he knew, some simple, well-intentioned action of his own, some effort to impose order, was entangled in a web of island preconceptions, understandings, etiquette, page 177 mores not morals. It is probable that his hosts were baffled as often as he was.

Cook had obviously given some thought to his instructions and to Lord Morton's hints; he was anxious to regularise trade, keep up the value of his trade goods, and obviate the confusion and quarrels that would arise from lack of direction. Immediately he arrived in Matavai Bay, therefore, he issued his carefully drafted ‘Rules to be observe'd by every person in or belonging to His Majestys Bark the Endevour, for the better establishing a regular and uniform Trade for Provisions &ce with the Inhabitants of Georges Island'; and the first of these rules was ‘To endeavour by every fair means to cultivate a friendship with the Natives and to treat them with all imaginable humanity’. Secondly, trade for provisions was to be carried on only through a properly appointed person, except with the captain's special leave. Thirdly. ‘Every person employ'd a Shore on any duty what soever is strictly to attend to the same, and if by neglect he looseth any of his Arms or woorking tools, or suffers them to be stole, the full Value thereof will be charge'd againest his pay according to the Custom of the Navy in such cases, and he shall recive such farther punishment as the nature of the offence may deserve.' Fourthly, ‘the same penalty’ would be inflicted for private trading with ship's stores. Fifthly, ‘No Sort of Iron, or any thing that is made of Iron, or any sort of Cloth or other usefull or necessary articles are to be given in exchange for any thing but provisions.’1 Obviously Cook had also paid attention to Wallis's journal. How far these excellent regulations could keep sailors from losing their tools, or from trading stolen nails or their own shirts for the delights of the flesh, how far they could impose an invariable humanity towards the islanders, remained to be seen.

People came off to the ship with fruit, upon which a great value was set, and when Cook and a party landed, they saw no evidence of plenty. Those who had been there before, indeed, were astonished at the depopulation of that part of the bay: where were the hogs and fowls, where was ‘the Queen's house’ (the great house for arioi performances), where was the Queen? Next day it became plain that population had moved to the west, whence came many canoes and whither Cook went to look for a larger harbour and to ‘try the disposission of the Natives’. Their disposition was hospitable and friendly, apart from their tendency to pick pockets—Solander lost

1 Journals I, 75–6; and I print a draft on pp. 520–1.

page 178 his spy-glass and Monkhouse the surgeon his snuff-box, though an obviously great chief got them returned. A better harbour not being found, Cook resolved to settle down where he was, and there the people flocked in increasing numbers. Near the north-east point of the bay he would fix a spot for his observatory, building a little fort to protect it, the tents and all the domestic arrangements. With one tent pitched, on the afternoon of the third day, he left a midshipman and the marines to guard it, while he and a small party took a walk over the river into the near country, accompanied by a great number of Tahitians. The sensation when Banks brought down three ducks with one shot was gratifying; but then came the sound of other shots. Cook, hastening back, found that the people at the tent had been troublesome, one of them had knocked down a marine, snatched his musket and run off, and the other marines had fired and killed him. The musket was clean gone; so were most of the people. This was exactly the sort of thing Cook was anxious to prevent, and it did little good to confine the sentry afterwards. With some pains he collected together a number of the fled, and managed to reconcile them. But he warped the ship nearer the shore so as to command with his guns all that part of the bay, particularly the site for the fort. Then the unfortunate Buchan had another fit, and died, and to avoid any possible infringement of native susceptibilities his body was taken out to sea for burial. An ingenious and good young man he was, wrote Banks, and his loss was irretrievable: who now would portray scenes and men? The answer that came was poor Sydney Parkinson, who had to draw everything; and life for Sydney Parkinson was not rendered easier by the swarms of flies that settled on him and his colours. The same morning, the first Monday at the island, a number of chiefs from the west visited the ship with plantain branches, their emblems of peace, in hand; among them were two men whose friendship was important, one whom Banks christened Lycurgus, the other Hercules. Lycurgus was a great ari'i's eldest son—Tepau i Ahurai Tamaiti;1 Hercules was Tuteha, a chief extremely influential over a large part of Tahiti-nui. They brought with them two of the scarce hogs as a present, and when Tuteha later in the week put up his house and put his family to live in it near the growing fort friendly relations seemed to be sealed. Cook would not even cut down a tree without permission. He and Green were the first to spend a night on shore, in an attempt to determine the longitude by astronomical means—vain, because of cloud; and

1 The father was Vaetua i Ahurai, chief of Tefana or Faaa; tamaiti means ‘the son’. For convenience I refer to him as Tepau.

page 179 a little later Banks and Solander took up their residence in the tents.
By the end of a week all was going well. Banks and Solander were the principal managers of trade, exchanging beads for coconuts and breadfruit: nails in this traffic at first seemed to have lost their value.1 Cook was determined to live off the land so far as possible, to conserve the ship's provisions. The gentlemen began to study the Tahitian language. Individual friendships were formed: every man had his taio, who exploited him to the best advantage: ‘this might be productive of good Consequences’, wrote Molyneux the master, ‘but the women begin to have a share in our Freindship which is by no means Platonick.’2 On the second Sunday Cook gave his men a half-holiday, with certain restrictions, ‘Viz:’—it is Molyneux again—‘that they should not go over one tree Hill’, a prominent hill at the other end of the beach, ‘that they should not molest or offer Violence to any of the Natives, that they should in all things behave as if he himself were present acquainting them also that no Viloence could be committed without his Knowlidge & that he was resolv'd to punish all Offenders severely & debar them of Liberty for the Future.’3 Henry Jeffs, the butcher, who a few days later did offer violence to a woman from whom he wanted a stone hatchet, was the first to suffer in this cause, in spite of the tears of Tahitians who were not used to the sight of flogging. Sunday liberty became fairly regular, but it was not till half-way through May that Cook could find time for a holier observance, in which the service was read not by himself, but by Monkhouse the surgeon. After a few Sundays we lose sight of this. The captain may have been more interested in his secular concerns. In the first fortnight his fort was finished, with a bank of earth and a ditch at each end; on the side facing the river a double row of casks with two four-pounders mounted on them; on that facing the sea, built at high water-mark, another bank of earth surmounted by palisades; six swivel guns flanking the walls. It was to accommodate about 45 men with small arms, including the officers and gentlemen, as well as the observatory, the armourer's forge and a cook's oven; outside was a tent for the cooper and sail-maker. Thus Fort Venus on Point Venus. ‘I now’, says the captain,

1 Values fluctuated; sec Journals I, 82 and n. 4 on that page, and Banks, 275, on the price of coconuts, ‘6 for an amber colourd bead, 10 for a white one, and 20 for a forty-penny nail’. Hatchets and axes were also on the scene.

2 Journals I, 553; cf. Wilkinson the master's mate, ‘we find the woman of this Island to be very Kind In all Respects as Usal when we were here in the Dolphin.’

3 Molyneux, ibid. Wilkinson has the proviso that the men were ‘to Take Care to be upon their guard for there own Safty as the Indians are very Tracherous.’—p. 84, n. 2.

page 180 ‘thought my self perfectly secure from any thing these people could attempt.’ With all this, and the other four-pounders commanding the beach from the ship, he may well have thought so; but he was mistaken.

Meanwhile the old hands of the Dolphin had rediscovered their Queen—a Queen in adversity. Her rank was not less, her appearance was still distinguished, but obviously she was less regarded. Molyneux found her in Banks's tent and took her on board, where Cook made much of her, his most successful present being a child's doll, which—he says with an unexpected stroke of humour—‘I made her understand was the Picter of my Wife.’ This she paraded about the shore till she made that great man Tuteha so jealous that he had to have a doll too. She had a husband, Amo; a ‘bed-fellow’, one ‘Obadee’, that did not prevent her from angling for Banks; and a principal attendant, whom Cook knew as Tobia—Tupaia, a priest and adviser of importance. What had happened to lower her dignity and raise Tuteha's could not at this time be disentangled. Tuteha's very prominence, however, brought him into difficulties, the first of which arose from the affair of the quadrant. No sooner was the fort completed than the observatory was set up inside and the astronomical quadrant taken ashore in its box. Next morning it was gone. In spite of walls and sentries some nimble fellow had slipped in, stolen the heavy and precious article and made off with it—information soon came—to the eastward. A reward was announced for its recover. Banks and Green rushed to pick up Tepau, found that he knew the instrument had been unpacked and who the thief was, and through the whole of a sweltering day, with the chief and a pair of pocket pistols for protection, were bent on the chase, uphill and down. Finally they got back every essential piece, and on the way home met Cook coming up with a party of marines in support. Cook's, first impulse had been to seize all the large canoes in the bay, in addition to the persons of Tuteha and others, until the quadrant was returned; later, learning that Tuteha was certainly quite innocent, he left orders that the chief should not be molested. By some mistake he was, when a canoe that put off from the shore was stopped, and was sent from the ship to the fort, where he was detained expecting death. On Cook's return he was immediately freed. The situation was a little difficult, because, although he gave Cook two hogs before he left, he was clearly displeased. Next day he demanded by messenger an axe and a shirt in return for the hogs; pending their delivery the supply of provisions stopped. Reconciliation came, however, in two more days: Cook, Banks and Solander page 181 themselves went with the axe and shirt, and for good measure a broadcloth gown,1 to the chief in his district of Pare, were received with honour amid a suffocating crowd, entertained with a display of wrestling before the arioi house, and the supply of provisions was resumed. The impression of this chief's power was strengthened when Molyneux and Green took the pinnace twenty miles to the eastward in search of hogs and fowls; after nearly losing their boat in the surf, they were told that nothing could change hands without Tuteha's permission. ‘I can foresee that it will be a hard matter for us to keep up a freindship with Tootaha his demands being too exorbitant for us to comply with’, writes Cook in his log;2 but he managed to surmount the difficulty.

The days moved on from that point without great untoward incident. There were minor thefts—even Banks's particular friend Tepau stole nails—and attempted thefts; at one stage water casks seemed attractive booty; iron and iron tools were always tempting. There were ceremonial occasions of display, occasional minor quarrels. Banks noted down the native name of the island, and the Tahitian versions of English names—Tooté for Cook, Tapáne for Banks, Torano for Solander, and so on. The long-boat was found honey-combed with teredo. Cook had a plot of ground turned up and planted English seeds there. There was an overnight visit to Tuteha and Purea in the chief's district on the west coast, in the hope of securing a supply of hogs; the hope was illusory, Cook had his stockings stolen from under his head while still awake, Banks lost his jacket and waistcoat,3 and would have lost all his other clothes had it not been for the good offices of Tupaia, two midshipmen lost their jackets. There was little consolation to derive from the music which followed, in the middle of the night, an hour of drums and flutes and singing. They were more entertained on the way back, by the sight of Tahitians riding the surf on the stern of an old canoe. The weather varied: as May came almost to an end it was reasonably fair, but not so fair that there was no anxiety for the day of the Transit. There was great diligence in looking to the instruments, and now no impediment from the surrounding people. Cook had determined to take Lord Morton's advice and send out other parties to observe, one to the west, the other to the east; their members had to be carefully instructed.

1 The ‘gown’ was in the form of the native tiputa, an upper garment slipped over the head, through a hole like the South American poncho.

2 B.M. Add. Ms 27955, 8 May 1769.

3 Parkinson (Journal, 31) writes that ‘Mr Banks lost his white jacket and waistcoat, with silver frogs’—so that Banks cut an elegant figure even in Tahiti.

page 182

The preparations at Fort Venus he describes in his report to the Royal Society.

The astronomical clock, made by Shelton and furnished with a gridiron pendulum, was set up in the middle of one end of a large tent, in a frame of wood made for the purpose at Greenwich, fixed firm and as low in the ground as the door of the clock-case would admit, and to prevent its being disturbed by any accident, another framing of wood was made round this, at the distance of one foot from it. The pendulum was adjusted to exactly the same length as it had been at Greenwich. Without the end of the tent facing the clock, and 12 feet from it, stood the observatory, in which were set up the journeyman clock and astronomical quadrant: this last, made by Mr. Bird, of one foot radius, stood upon the head of a large cask fixed firm in the ground, and well filled with wet heavy sand. A centinel was placed continually over the tent and observatory, with orders to suffer no one to enter either the one or the other, but those whose business it was. The telescopes made use of in the observations were—Two reflecting ones of two feet focus each, made by the late Mr. James Short, one of which was furnished with an object glass micrometer.1

On Friday, 2 June, writes Molyneux, a useful supplement here to Cook, the winds and weather were not very promising: ‘the Captain and Mr Green is entirely employ'd getting every thing compleatly ready. I was order'd to prepare for Observation & had a Telescope ready accordingly, every thing very quiet & all Hands anxious for Tomorrow.’ 2 Evidently, and not unnaturally, there was a little tension. Solander made a fourth observer, and that very competent man, Satterley the carpenter, was to attend the clock and the thermometer. No apprehension about the weather, however, was needed; Saturday the 3rd dawned bright and faultless, and went on through a calm perfection. To avoid any possible disturbance, no Tahitian was allowed to come near. It was hot: the thermometer in the sun, about the middle of the day, rose to 119°, hotter than it had ever been before. But something was wrong. The critical hours were from nine in the morning to about half-past three in the afternoon. The journal entry runs:

This day prov'd as favourable to our purpose as we could wish, not a Clowd was to be seen the whole day and the Air was perfectly clear, so that we had every advantage we could desire in Observing the whole of the passage of the Planet Venus over the Suns disk: we very distinctly saw an Atmosphere or dusky shade round the body of the Planet which very much disturbed the times of the Contacts particularly the two internal ones. Dr Solander observed as well as Mr Green and myself, and we differ'd

1 Phil. Trans. LXI (1771), 397–8.

2 Journals I, 559.

page 183 from one another in observeing the times of the Contacts much more than could be expected. Mr Greens Telescope and mine were of the same Magnifying power but that of the Dr was greater then ours.1

The ‘Atmosphere or dusky shade’, or what he calls also the penumbra, was visible during the whole transit, Cook says elsewhere, and appeared to him to be ‘nearly equal to 1/8th of Venus's semidiameter’, and the ‘first visible appearance’ of Venus on the sun's rim, very faint, was that of the penumbra, at 21 minutes 50 seconds past 9; while after 3 p.m. when the transit was completing, Cook found the limb of Venus difficult to distinguish from the penumbra, and ‘the precise time that the penumbra left the Sun could not be observed to any great degree of certainty, at least not by me.’2 In the six hours' interval anybody could have seen the little black spot crawling across the sun, but that was a quite different matter; and if there was not a great degree of certainty about precise times on the part of some reliable observer, then the observation had failed. The possibility of such a phenomenon had not oppressed the mind of Halley. Almost two years after this day Cook wrote that ‘there were some other appearances beside the above not more favourable to the observations’—without specifying what these were.3 Green at least had some figures written down. The question of their precision did not arise till later.

It remained to collate the results of the other two parties. Hicks, Clerke, Pickersgill, and Saunders, a midshipman, had gone in the pinnace round to the eastward, and observed from an islet on the reef they called ‘Lord Mortons Island’—Taaupiri or Isle Nansouty. Pickersgill returned highly pleased with every circumstance, ‘so that if the Observation is not well made it is intirely owing to the Observers.’4 The western party also reported success. This was Gore, Surgeon Monkhouse and Dr Spöring; they had gone farther, rowing the long-boat across the nine or ten miles of water to the island of Aimeo or Moorea, Wallis's York Island. Banks went with them, not as an observer, and while they made their preparations on a large flat rock called Irioa, between the reef and the shore, and next day carried out their scientific business, he went on shore to trade for provisions and look at the country and the people. Some of these he had already seen at Matavai, though the chief, and ‘3 hansome girls’ he got to spend the night in the tent on the rock, were new to him.

1 ibid., 97–8.

2 Phil. Trans. LXI (1771), 410–11.

3 Cook to Maskelyne, 9 May 1771, Royal Society Council Minutes, 11 July 1771; Journals I (2nd ed.), 692–3.

4 Journals I, 98 n. 1.

page 184 The island did not seem as fertile as Tahiti. The only irritation arising on the great day was the theft by seamen of a large quantity of spike nails from the ship's stores; for which Archibald Wolf, found with some of the booty on him, was punished with two dozen lashes, the greatest number meted out on this voyage.

One might have thought that Cook would now be ready to leave Tahiti, the purpose of his visit being carried out; but in fact the observation of the Transit marks only a half-way point. The delayed celebration at a banquet on 5 June of the King's Birthday, which drew from the chiefs the toast of Kihiargo—they could come no nearer to King George—and made Tupaia particularly drunk, was but an episode of entertainment on the British side. There were many observations that Cook was still to make, in different spheres, some of them among his most valuable ones, and Banks was a very busy man. Cook himself wanted to overhaul his ship and his stores thoroughly before he went continent-hunting in higher latitudes; he also, his first responsibility off his shoulders, wanted to become more closely acquainted with the geography of the island and to chart it properly. Work about the ship was going on all the while: she was careened, says Cook—not dragged on shore, but heeled over where she lay, and ‘boot-topped’, that is her foul bottom was cleaned off to as near the keel as possible and coated with a mixture of pitch and brimstone, she was caulked and painted, her rigging closely inspected and repaired, spars varnished, cables restored, powder dried, provisions inspected. It was slow work, one reason being that the men were divided between the ship and the shore.

The longer the ship stayed, the more could be learnt about Tahitian life—or at least could be seen or experienced, without always being understood. The surgeon was forcibly assailed for picking a flower from a sacred tree on a marae, an infringement of tapu no native person would have been guilty of. Gore, finding that bows and arrows were in use, challenged Tepau to an archery contest, which broke down when it was found that in this exclusively chiefly diversion the Tahitians shot only for distance and not at a mark. There was further entertainment by ‘travelling musicians’, arioi, flutes and drums and voices again. The Indians, says Banks, asked in return for an English song, which was so enthusiastically received that one of them desired a passage to England to learn to sing. Banks was so greatly interested in custom and so friendly with Tepau that he was able to enlist himself in a mourning ceremony, in which Tepau, fantastically attired in shells and a feathered mask, was ‘chief page 185 mourner’, and Banks, stripped to a fragment of tapa or native cloth round his waist and blackened with charcoal, in the company of two women and a boy similarly decked, rushed about and terrorised anybody they met: it was all very inspiriting. Banks, too, recorded carefully the process of tattooing as he saw it carried out on a young girl, until she could bear it no longer. Some of the visitors, much taken with this sort of adornment, had their own arms marked before they left. There was from time to time a native dish to try, pork or a pudding from the Polynesian ‘earth-oven’, steamed between layers of hot stones and green leaves. A culminating point was the dog presented by Purea, a diplomatic return for some theft in which she had been implicated, at first to her surprise rejected; but similarly cooked it proved very sweet meat—‘few were there of us but what allowe'd that a South Sea Dog was next to an English Lamb', says Cook. The South Sea dogs were vegetable fed. So were the South Sea rats, which Tahitians did not eat but British seamen did, as we learn from Molyneux: ‘shooting of rats is not only a pleasant but a profitable amusement as they are also good eating & it is Easy to Kill 1000 in a day as the ground swarms & the Inhabitants never disturb them.’1 Cook highly approved the local pork. Though it was in short supply, he managed to give it to his men for most of their Sunday dinners, not from a Tahitian oven.

One morning, as June advanced, there was a stir among the natives at the fort, among whom was Purea, and stripping their garments from their shoulders, like all the standers-by, they went out to meet some new arrivals. These were a chief called Oamo or Amo, with a boy about seven years old, carried on a man's back, ‘altho he was as able to walk as the Man who carried him’, and a girl of perhaps 15 or 16. Neither young person was allowed by the Tahitians to enter within the fort. This Amo must be a very extraordinary person to be received with such ceremony, thought Cook, who was none the less puzzled to see so little notice taken of him after the ceremony. But it was not Amo who was the really extraordinary person, it was the boy: ‘we was inform'd that the Boy was Heir apparent to the Sovereignty of the Island and the young woman was his sister and as such the respect was paid them, which was due to no one else except the Arreedehi which was not Tootaha from what we could learn, but some other person who we had not seen, or like to do, for they say he is no friend of ours and therefore will not come near us.’2 Such Cook's valiant effort to get at the truth. He did learn, truly enough, that the boy was the son of Amo and Purea. If there had

1 Journals I, 559.

2 ibid., 104.

page 186 only been present two or three other people whom he had met, and two whom he had not, he would have had at once together before him the principal notables of Tahiti-nui; and if his knowledge of the language, which is so ambiguous on personal relationships, had only been adequate, he could have disentangled a curious piece of history. He never did disentangle it, or the family relations that underlay it; but it explains some of the jealousies and strains of the island situation to which, all blind, he had brought himself—in which, by his very presence in a particular part of the island, and his friendship with particular people, he was already playing an unconscious part. Amo was certainly a person of distinction. He had been until his son, Teri'irere, was born, the high chief or ari'i rahi of Papara, on the south of Tahiti-nui, and he was now that son's regent. He himself was also the eldest son of the daughter of the chief of Haapape, in which district lay Matavai; he was therefore distinguished there. He married Purea, the daughter of the chief of Faaa, an important district in the north-west corner of the island. Tepau, an eldest child, was her brother. The family had a marriage connection with the family of Tuteha, the chief of Paea, the district abutting on Papara—a man whose other connections, and his personal force, gave him power from thence northwards round to Haapape. One of these connections was with Tu, the ari'i rahi of Pare, or of a rather larger district, the Porionu'u, between Faaa and Haapape. (So often was the name of this district heard that it appears, as ‘opooreonoo, on Cook's chart, given to the whole of Tahiti-nui. He was Tu's great-uncle, and Tu was the ‘some other person who we had not seen’, not because he was no friend, but because he was a timid young man completely under Tuteha's thumb, and Tuteha thought he was better out of the way. Cook was to see enough of him on later visits. The girl who came with Teri'irere was not his sister but Tu's sister, also a first-born child, and she was the designated wife of Teri'irere.1 These chiefly families were not merely related (which explains Purea's seeming primacy in Wallis's eyes), but at times bitterly divided; and it was the result of bitter family dissension and war, caused by Purea's overweening ambitions for her young son, that as a defeated person she now took a subordinate role to that of Tuteha, the organiser of victory.2 Cook learnt a little of this, and was to learn a little more on the tour of the island which he made with Banks in the last days of June.
Meanwhile the stealing of attractive articles went on. Cook's

1 See the ‘Note on Polynesian History’, Journals I, clxxxii, and also p. 104, n. 1.

2 Journals I, clxxxii-clxxxiv.

page 187 patience gave way in the middle of the month when an iron oven rake was neatly abstracted from the fort. He seized every canoe he could find of any value and impounded them in the river behind the fort, and threatened to burn every one of them unless the principal stolen articles were returned—‘not that I ever intend to put this in execution’. It was a misconceived tactic, because the owners of the canoes were not the thieves, the fish in the canoes stank the fort out, little was regained beyond the rake; and as for the ‘principal’ articles—musket, pistols, and so on—some people said that Tuteha, his friends that Purea, had them. After a week Cook had to hand, the canoes back thwarted. To be thus thwarted was a serious matter. As a humane man, who took Lord Morton seriously, he did not want to shoot, he felt that one death was enough: ‘contrary to the opinion of everybody’, he writes, ‘I would not suffer them, to be fired upon, for this would have been puting it in the power of the Centraals to have fired upon them upon the most slightest occasions as I had before experienced, and I have a great objection to fireing with powder only amongest people who know not the difference; for by this they would learn to dispise fire arms and think their own arms superior and if ever such an Opinion prevail'd they would certainly attack you the event of which might prove as unfavourable to you as them.’1 As a humane man and a thwarted man he could only go on applying, so far as possible, his policy of even-handed justice, punishing his own men for offences against the native people, and securing what reparation he could from the latter for their own offences. One return his men got in full measure from their hosts, and that was venereal disease. Cook would have been puzzled by this also, had it not been for information given at about the same time.
It was a thing which weighed on the humane man for the rest of his life, and on humane men among his officers, this question of the transmission of the evil to the people of the South Sea; and where there were so many islands, innocence in one case was not necessarily innocence in another. The mutual attraction of the sexes—his men, the island women—Cook did not have to read Wallis's journal to foresee. He may even have foreseen, in general terms, episodes so ridiculous as the rivalry and the ‘éclaircissement’ between Banks and the surgeon over young women; and it would certainly have been most unfortunate if either of these had shot the other.2 Before Wallis let a man land in 1767 he had the whole of his crew inspected by his surgeon and declared free of any sign of the disease. Similarly Cook:

1 ibid., 101.

2 ibid., 102, n. 1, and Parkinson, 32.

page 188 ‘I had taken the greatest pains to discover if any of the Ships Company had the disorder upon him for above a month before our arrival here and ordered the Surgeon to examine every man the least suspected who declar'd to me that only one man in the Ship was the least affected with it and his complaint was a carious shin bone; this man has not had connection with one woman in the Island.’ None of the Dolphin's men had contracted it at the island, as far as he knew; yet by early May some of his own men had—‘sad work among the People’, to quote the master 1—so that he ‘had reason (notwithstanding the improbability of the thing) to think that we had brought it along with us which gave me no small uneasiness and did all in my power to prevent its progress, but all I could do was to little purpose for I may safely say that I was not assisted by any one person in ye Ship … this distemper very soon spread it self over the greatest part of the Ships Compney but now I have the satisfaction to find that the Natives all agree that we did not bring it here.’2 If the ship's records are correct then Cook has overstated the extent of the contagion, which was confined to about a third of her company, but that was bad enough. Nor did he, or any ship's surgeon, or any surgeon anywhere, then know enough to be able to make dogmatic statements, except on a basis of the most clear and obvious proof—as Cook himself concluded after some years' more experience. Not enough was known about the varieties of the disease, nor the possibilities of quiescence and renewal, nor about carriers; so that Cook, getting now the information already referred to, was happy to feel that both the Dolphin and the Endeavour were free of the unpleasant responsibility. There had been two other ships visiting the island, ten or fifteen months earlier, at a harbour to the eastward called ‘Ohidea’ or Hitiaa; they had had a woman on board, and had carried away the brother of the chief of that place. Thus was accounted for various old pieces of iron, at first supposedly but not certainly from the Dolphin, which had been seen about, and an axe of strange pattern which Purea had brought to be sharpened. Also, said the Tahitians, these ships ‘brought the Venerial distemper to this Island where it is now as common as in any part of the world and which the people bear with as little concern as if they had been accustomed to it for ages past.’3 Information thus phrased indicates that the ailment was not syphilis, to which the endemic island disease of yaws gave immunity, but gonorrhea; and to that the British seaman was no more immune than the islander. Cook and Banks took Tepau on board the ship and showed him a coloured print of

1 Journals I, 556.

2 ibid., 99.

3 ibid., 98–9.

page 189 the flags of different nations: he at once picked out the Spanish flag as the one flown by these unexpected vessels; and had not jackets and shirts such as those usually worn by Spanish seamen been lately seen? It was proved beyond doubt, thought Cook, that the ships were Spanish, from some South American port.

Early on the morning of 26 June he set off eastward in the pinnace with Banks to make the circuit of the island. For about ten miles there was no reef. At 8 o'clock they landed and walked while the boat rowed along, the shore sounding, a rough walk at times between the sharply rising hills and the beach, encountering nothing very remarkable till they came to Hitiaa, where they were shown where the ships had lain—Spanish ships, as Cook thought them—and where their men had camped on shore. They kept on walking, found they could not in that way reach the bottom of the great bay between Tahiti-nui and Taiarapu, and called in the boat for the last stage, so that they were able to lodge the night with friends on the northern side of the Taravao peninsula. Cook inspected this muddy canoe-portage next morning; beyond it, he was told, was enemy's country, subject not to Tuteha but to ‘King Waheatua’. Although the people encountered as the travellers walked on were strangers they proved as friendly as anybody else, not least the magnate Vehiatua, the ari'i rahi of Taiarapu, ‘a thin old man with very white hair and beard’, says Banks, found sitting with his daughter ‘near some pretty Canoe awnings’ on the shore of the beautiful Vaitepiha Bay. To reach his side of the bay they had been ferried across a large river in a canoe; now they walked again, accompanied by his young son, along the edge of fine cultivated country, with a marae on every point and others inland, and almost innumerable large double canoes drawn up on the beach—until tiredness drove them into the boat. They rowed till dark, when they put into a little creek and spent (surprisingly, as they thought) a supperless night in a deserted arioi house. Nor could they get provisions next morning, although they met friends, until, after rowing with a native pilot round the south-east point of the island, the steep Pari or cliffs above them and the broken dangerous reef outside, they came to a flat called Ahui and a plentiful harbour. Here they saw a fat goose and turkey-cock, left by Wallis at Matavai Bay. A less grateful sight, at one end of a house, was a semi-circular board to which were fastened fifteen human jaw-bones. For what purpose? Cook could not find out.

The tour continued, all this day in the boat, inside the reef, past a fruitful and populous coastal fringe, to a halting-place for the night—the night of the 28th—in the district of Vaiuru, within the page 190 large bay on the southern side of the peninsula. It was here that an important chief unsuccessfully attempted to decamp in the dark with a cloak lent to keep him warm, amid great excitement; and here that some alarm was caused towards morning by the absence of the boat. She had only drifted from her grapling. At daylight the gentlemen set off again in her, still inside the reef, landing for a short time and walking at Vaiari, round the bend of the bay, and noting down some remarkable signs of the Tahitian religious cult. They designed to spend the next night in the Papara district, with Purea; she being not at home, they nevertheless stayed. Here, on a low point of land, about a hundred yards from the sea, they found the most remarkable product of human hands in Tahiti, ‘a wonderfull peice of Indian architecture and far exceeds every thing of its kind upon the whole Island’, and indeed in the whole of Polynesia. It was the colossal marae, built of worked coral stone and basalt, which Purea and Amo, in their colossal pride, had raised to the honour of their infant son Teri'irere1—which, with all the attendant circumstances of reckless vanity, had so outraged the other ari'i that Tuteha and Vehiatua had joined to overthrow the pretensions of the Papara family. There were smaller marae near by, and many large altars, or fata, bearing the remains of sacrificial food set out for the gods; and the beach between them and the sea was thickly strewn with human bones—the bones of the Papara men killed six months before. The jaw-bones of Ahui were trophies of this battle. Cook and Banks measured the prodigious thing, before they went to rest in Purea's house, and learnt something of the fate which had descended on its makers. The next day, the last of June, they rowed up the west coast, a slow passage through reefs and shoals, to some part of Tuteha's domain, visited him the following morning and by evening had trodden their path back to Matavai Bay and the fort. They had been out on their circuit for six days and five nights; something more than thirty leagues, was the estimate; and the ‘Plan or Sketch’ which Cook had drawn, ‘altho it cannot be very accurate yet it will be found sufficient to point out the Situations of the different Bays and harbours and the figure of the Island and I believe is without any material error.’ Later comers found it remarkably accurate.

It was time, the captain thought, to depart. With the advance of the season provisions were growing short, the only breadfruit was a small late harvest brought down from the hills, and the natives were using a ‘sour paste’ made from it earlier, preserved in pits. The fort

1 Journals I, 112–13; also Banks, I, 303–5.

page 191 was dismantled for firewood. The preparations took another week. Banks improved one fine day by exploring the river valley till he was stopped by great cliffs shining with water, and another by planting a variety of fruit seeds—of Cook's planting only mustard had come up Cook was on the point of bringing his men on board when two of them deserted. They were marines, Clement Webb and Samuel Gibson. Nothing at this juncture could be more irritating. Since the ship's arrival discipline had been on the whole satisfactory, though it could not be expected that all rules would be obeyed. There had quite early been some ‘mutinous’ talk; but Molyneux, whom the captain evidently trusted, had intervened to secure pardon for the delinquents. ‘I had many reasons for doing this’, he says darkly, ‘as I well knew the Spring that caus'd these commotions';1 and even earlier there had been ‘great murmurings’ because of the scarcity of pork, ‘which begun in a quarter least expected & serves to shew that People may be Guilty of the Highest Ingratitude’.2 There was a vague story told to Banks twenty years later by one who had been a midshipman on the voyage, about desertion planned both by ‘most of the People of the Endeavour’, and by two or three ‘gentlemen’ who relinquished their intentions on learning of the men's.3 Nothing is more likely than that men discussed mutiny or the delights of desertion, in that balmy air, in the abstract, as an irresponsible dream. When a man was first suspected of desertion, however, it appeared that he had been briefly kidnapped; and it does not seem likely that mutiny, in the more serious sense, was ever seriously considered. Webb and Gibson did desert, irresponsibly, for a dream of love; they had ‘strongly attache'd themselves’ to two girls;4 they may even have fancied they could succeed. They should have known their captain better. They had gone to the mountains, said the Tahitians, who were certainly able to return them. The seizing of canoes earlier had not persuaded these people to act: Cook therefore resolved to seize chiefs and took half a dozen for hostages, including Purea, Tuteha and Tepau. This brought the return of Webb, though Jonathan Monkhouse and the corporal of marines, sent to bring in the fugitives, had been seized in their turn. Cook thereupon despatched Hicks with a strong party and orders from Tuteha, which combination was effective, and the chiefs were released. Though not maltreated, they had been affronted—from the Tahitian point of

1 Journals I, 556 (7 May).

2 ibid., 555 (5 May).

3 ibid., cxlvi. The midshipman was J. M. Magra or Matra, later British consul at Tangier, whence (in 1790) he wrote to Banks on the subject of the Bounty mutiny, and then adverted to the Endeavour.

4 Journals I, 116.

page 192 view very considerably so. It was not the happiest note on which to conclude a visit. The night before the ship sailed, therefore, Cook, Banks and Solander paid a visit to Pare and patched up a reconciliation.

The last job about the ship was renewing the stocks of both bower anchors, which had been eaten away to destruction by the worm. And then there were two additions to her company. More than one Tahitian had wished to join her. Cook was reluctant to take away anyone whose return he could not foresee, but Banks was eager. Tupaia the priest, Purea's adviser, had been much with them; he was a man of intelligence, of encyclopaedic local knowledge, came of a family of famous seamen, and had already provided a long list of islands from which it was possible to construct some sort of map, so that Cook agreed that he might be a help in discovery. Banks the collector, the man of fortune, overbore Cook: ‘Thank heaven I have a sufficiency and I do not know why I may not keep him as a curiosity, as well as some of my neighbours do lions and tygers at a larger expence than he will probably ever put me to; the amusement I shall have in his future conversation and the benefit he will be of to this ship, as well as what he may be if another should be sent into these seas, will I think fully repay me.’1 So Tupaia, natural history specimen and prospective pilot, was embarked, together with a small boy his servant, Taiata. Just before noon on Thursday, 13 July, in a light easterly breeze, the Endeavour sailed from Matavai Bay.

Cook did not at once turn south in pursuit of his instructions. He thought it better first to look at the nearby islands of which he had heard. He did not land at Moorea, nor at Tetiaroa, some eight leagues north-west of Point Venus, a low uninhabited island where the Tahitians went for fish and refreshment, but after taking a nearer view of the latter and noting the position of Tubuai Manu, forty miles to the west of Moorea, bore away farther westward for Huahine, about a hundred miles distant from Tahiti. Webb and Gibson both got their two dozen and were returned to duty. Gentle breezes led Tupaia to pray to his god Tane for wind (when he thought a wind was coming, said Banks), and whether or not with his assistance the ship, passing round the north of the island, was anchored on the afternoon of 16 July within the reef on its western side, in a fine deep harbour called Fare. It was here that Tupaia really began to prove his mettle. As the ship manoeuvred he made a man dive down to

1 Banks, I, 312–13.

page 193 the heel of the rudder and report the depth she drew, ‘after which’, says Banks, ‘he has never sufferd her to go in less than 5 fathom water without eing much alarmad.’1 People had come on board at once when they saw Tupaia, among them their chief Ori. Ori and Cook struck up an immediate friendship, exchanging names—a thing in itself of no particular significance, perhaps, in the annals of explorers, but singular so far in Cook's experience, and though the two men's encounter was fleeting, the mark of a permanent regard. When a party landed, Tupaia, now priest rather than pilot, went through a lengthy propitiation ceremony to avert the anger of the local gods at the coming of strangers, and a hog and some coconuts were presented to signify their approval; but trade was not brisk, nor were these islanders. They were well-built, fairer than the Tahitians, rather incurious, and did not steal; according to Pickersgill, they ‘Expres'd a great Desire of our going to Kill the Bollobollo Men'. Cook surveyed the island; Banks went up the hills and found the whole place much like Tahiti. Before Cook sailed on the 19th he gave Ori a few medals as testimony of his discovery, but more particularly a small pewter plate inscribed with the words His Britannick Maj. Ship Endeavour, Lieutt Cook Commander 16th July 1769. Huaheine. The chief promised never to part with it, and he did not.
Leaving this harbour, Cook crossed over to another on the near side of Raiatea, twenty miles west: Teava Moa, the ‘sacred harbour’ of the Opoa district, where stood the most revered marae of all Polynesia, Taputapuatea, an inmost heart. Tupaia went through his propitiation ceremony again, though this was his own native island; Cook, faithful to his instructions, hoisted the English flag and took possession of the island and its neighbours. Next day sounding and coastal surveying went busily on, while Banks inspected boathouses and canoes and measured a great canoe under construction—the Raiateans were famous canoe-builders—and the surgeon managed trade, much to the disgust of some on board, who wanted to acquire curiosities; instead they got fresh pork and as much fruit as they could eat.2 The weather turned bad. It was not till the 24th that it seemed safe to leave shelter and haul to the north to look at Tahaa, an island within the same reef as Raiatea and divided from

1 Banks, I, 323.

2 Journals I, 144, n. 2. Pickersgill was very indignant: This day Trade Oligopoliz'd on Shore by the Surgeon &c whilst the most Trifling Thing was not admitted to be Purchas'd on board even by the Petty Officers a Centinal being Putt on each ganway on Purpus while the 2d Lieutn (Mr. Gore) stay'd on the Qr Deck all day.' Wilkinson, the other master's mate (also a petty officer) remarks about the pork and fruit that it was ‘the Captains Chief Steady [Study] to get for them.’

page 194 it only by a narrow channel; not till after beating about for four days that a boat could go in to sound a harbour and land Banks and Solander for provisions. Nor was the wind favourable for a landing on Borabora, though after leaving Tahaa Cook was close in with it. Fresh south-east gales forced him to ply for two days off the west side of Tahaa and Raiatea, so that it was the morning of 2 August by the time he could warp the ship into the harbour of Rautoanui on that side of Raiatea, where he wanted particularly both to stop a leak in the powder room and to pick up stones for ballast—and of course to resume his survey; and, for full measure, to fill his water casks. All this was done, and fresh provisions received; Banks and Solander explored the country, with or without Cook, met delightful people, were interested by their dances, and witnessed a number of ‘interludes’ or dramatic performances. Puni, the great warrior chief of Borabora, was then on Raiatea, most of which he had subjected to himself. He sent a present to Cook, who called on him with his own gift; the chief, in spite of his all-conquering reputation, seemed surprisingly decrepit and stupid, and not at all generous. Cook was more interested in the island and in sketching another harbour. After returning to the ship he was wind-bound for a day, the last day of a week at this place, where the supply of hogs and vegetables was so pleasing. There were, for an observant man, many impressions to assemble.

Among the islands neighbouring Raiatea which Cook had annexed for his royal master were two inconsiderable ones he had merely sighted, the atoll Tupai or Motu Iti a few miles north of Borabora, and Maurua or Maupiti, a high island rather more to the west: to these, with Huahine, Raiatea-Tahaa and Borabora he gave the collective name Society Isles, ‘as they lay contiguous to one a nother.’ The three main ones were worth having, in point of beauty. Anciently dead and shattered volcanoes, they were striking objects from the sea; Raiatea the largest and highest though by no means as high as Tahiti, Borabora the smallest and most fantastically dramatic. They had smooth and secure harbours. So much like Tahiti in general character and produce, they gave the naturalists little that was new; although without Tahiti's superabundance of breadfruit, their cultivated plantains and yams called forth the admiration of the seamen. The people seemed more open and free. The number of human jawbones hung up as trophies certainly argued a good deal of free and open violence.

In the morning of 9 August the wind, coming round to the east and steadying, carried the ship through the reef, and Cook made sail to page 195 the southward. Considering the mission on which he was now engaged, the words of Banks were perhaps too casual: ‘Launchd out into the Ocean in search of what chance and Tupia might direct us to.’1

1 Banks, I, 329.