The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volume Two]
1. Fresh breeze and fair all day.
2. Wind more to the westward but still fair. — Our malt having turnd out so indifferent that the Surgeon made little use of it a method was thought of some weeks ago to bring it into use, which was to make as strong a wort with it as possible and in this boil the wheat which is servd to the People for breakfast. It made a mess far from unpleasant which the people soon grew very fond of: myself who have for many months constantly breakfasted upon the same wheat as the people, either did or at least thought that I receivd great benefit from the use of this mess, it totaly banishd in me that troublesome Costiveness which I beleive most people are subject to when at sea. Whether or no this is a more beneficial method of administering wort as a preventative than the common must be left to the faculty, especialy that excellent surgeon Mr M'Bride whose ingenious treatise on the sea scurvy can never be enough commended.1 For my own part I should be inclind to beleive that the salubrious qualities of the wort which arise from fermentation might in some degree at least be communicated to the wheat when thouroughly saturated with its particles, which would consequently acquire a virtue similar to that of fresh vegetables, the most powerfull resisters of Sea scurvy known.
3. Wind as yesterday: we got fast on to the Westward but the Compass shewd that the hearts of our people hanging that way caus'd a considerable North variation which was sensibly felt by our navigators, who calld it a current as they usualy do every thing which makes their reconings and observations disagree.2
1 David MacBride (1726–78), an Irish physician, who had been for a short time a naval surgeon, had attacked the problem of scurvy on the dietary side, and in his Experimental Essays (1764) and Historical Account of the New Method of Treating the Scurvy at Sea (1768)—probably the ‘ingenious treatise’ to which Banks refers—had recommended a boiled wort or infusion of malt as a preventative and cure. Cook had been directed to try MacBride's system during: the voyages and William Perry, the surgeon's mate and later surgeon, reported on it favourably. See Cook, Appendix VI, pp. 632–3. Perry's report is printed in full in Hist. Rec. N.S.W., I, pt. I, pp. 339–42.
2 This is the first, though by no means the last, of Banks's gibes at those who wanted to see the voyage at an end and themselves home in the northern hemisphere. S has the further note, ‘They steer'd the Ship rather wrong in the night, inclining to the way they wished’. This seems a less persuasive explanation than a current.—‘hanging that way’: he means north, not west as the syntax implies.
4. Wind and weather precisely as yesterday.
5. Wind is rather abated and weather considerably milder. The Capth told me that he has during this whole vo[y]age observd that between the degrees of 40° and 37° South latitude the Weather becomes suddenly milder in a very great degree, not only in the temperature of the air but in the Strenght and frequency of the gales of wind, which increase very much in going towards 40 and decrease in the same proportion as you aproach 37.
6. Almost calm, the air very mild. Some dusky colourd birds1 were seen by Tupia and the Master who both sayd they were of a sort which they had not seen before. Tupia also declard that he saw a flying fish, no one else however observd it.
7. Almost calm: the air both yesterday and today was damp so that many things began to mould. The sun today had greater power and heat than we had felt for some months past.
8. No swell today, Very light breezes, sun and air much as yesterday.
9. Fair breeze tho very little of it: the Sea both yesterday and today was as smooth as a millpool, no kind of swell ranging in any direction. In the Morn a red taild Tropick bird2 was seen who hoverd some time over the ship but except him few or no Birds appeard.
10. Another red taild tropick bird was seen today and a Flying fish. Weather as it has now been for several days rather troublesomly warm and the Sea most uncommonly smooth.
1 In parentheses above the line here in the Ms is the figure (11) but whether it refers to the number of birds or to a note which has disappeared is uncertain. The birds might have been Sooty Shearwaters or Mutton-birds. See p. 45, n. 3.
2 Phaethon rubricauda.
3 This Wandering Albatross was classed by Solander with those of 2 October 1769 and 6 January 1770. There seems little doubt about its identity, and this is of particular interest in view of Banks's comments (p. 45) on the disgorging of Physalia either by this bird or by D. melanophris. Murphy notes this remark (Oceanic Birds of South America, p. 563, 1936) but does not comment on the apparent immunity of the albatross to the nematocysts.
4 Diomedea melanophris, the Black-browed Albatross. This was apparently the only specimen of this albatross taken on this voyage (Solander, p. 13).
5 D. profuga was the Ms name given to the Grey-headed Albatross Diomedea chrysostoma by Solander (see 3 February 1769). The species is not uncommon in these waters, and this sight record may be accepted. The remaining species listed by Banks were apparently all taken on this day, since they are recorded by Solander, whose general practice was to note only the specimens he actually examined.
6 The Kermadec Petrel, Pterodroma neglecta.
7 A gadfly petrel, Cookilaria group.
8 Wilson's Petrel. See D. L. Serventy, Emu, 52, 1952, p. 105, for an account of transit movement of this species in the Tasman Sea area.
1 The White-headed Petrel, Pterodroma lessonii.
2 The Grey-backed Storm Petrel, Garrodia nereis.
3 Probably Sooty Shearwaters, Puffinus griseus.
4 Glaucus atlanticus.
6 Thalia democratica.
7 Velella velella.
8 Portuguese Man-of-War.
9 This small sea anemone has not been identified; Parkinson painted it, III, pl. 26, and Solander described it, p. 481.
10 This is one of the earliest observations on the action of the nematocysts which comprise the stinging organs of Physalia. Trembley noticed the structures in Hydra in 1744, but no proper description of their mechanism was published until Ehrenberg discussed them in 1836. See R. Weil in Trav. St. Zool. Wimereux, 10, 1934. The other larger form to which Banks refers is a variety only and not a true species.
13. Calm and fine as Yesterday with the sun as powerfull as ever; last night a great dew fell with which in the morn all the rigging &c was wet. Myself shooting as usual but saw no new birds except a Gannet which came not near me: of those for these 4 or 5 days past killd a good many, indeed during this whole time they have been tame and appeard unknowing and unsu[s]picious of men, the generality of them flying to the boat as soon as ever they saw it which is generaly the case when at large distances from the land. Took up Dagysa vitrea1 and Gemma,2 Medusa radiata3 and Porpita,4 Helix Janthina5 very large, Doris complanata6 and Beroe biloba.7 Saw a large shoal of Esox Scombroides8 leaping out of the water in a very extrordinary manner, pursued by a large fish which I saw but could not strike tho I did two of the former. In the Evening saw several fish much Resembling Bonitos.
The weather we have had for these Nine days past and the things we have seen upon the sea are so extrordinary that I cannot help recapitulating a little. The Weather in the first place which till the fifth was cool or rather cold became at once troublesomely hot bringing with it a mouldy dampness such as we have experiencd between the tropicks: the Thermometer at this time although it shewd a considerable difference in the degree of heat was not near so sensible of it as our bodies, which I beleive is generaly the case when a damp air accompanies warmth. During the continuance of this weather the inhabitants of the seas between the tropicks appeard: the Tropick bird, flying fish and Medusa Porpita are animals very seldom seen out of the influence of trade winds, several others also are such as I have never before seen in so high a latitude and never before in such perfection as now except between the tropicks. All these uncommon appearances I myself can find no other method of accounting for than the uncommon lengh of time that the wind had remaind in the Eastern quarter before this, which Possibly had all that time blown home from the trade wind, and at the same time as it kept the sea in a quiet and still state had brought with it the Produce of the Climates from whence it came.
1 Nectophore of Diphyes dispar.
2 Thalia democratica.
3 Aequorea forskalia.
4 Porpita porpita.
5 Janthina janthina.
6 A planarian.
7 Probably Callianira bialata Delle Chiaje. See Parkinson III, pl. 61; Solander, p. 441.
8 Probably Scombresox forsteri Cuv. and Val., the Skipper or Saury. See Solander, Pise. Aust., p. 47.
14. A great dew this morn and Weather as calm as ever; in the afternoon however a small breeze sprang up and increasd gradualy till towards night when a large quantity of Porpoises were seen about the ship.
15. Little or no Dew this.morn: the Breeze freshned and came to WNW which soon raisd a sea. Several flying fish were seen today; tho I was not fortunate enough to see any of them yet they were seen by people who I am sure could not be mistaken. After dinner a small Bird of the Sterna kind came about the ship much like the Sterna of New Zealand but browner upon the back;1 it stayd a long time about the ship and seemd to me as if it had lost its way. At night the wind moderated but with it came a kind of invisible spray or mist which thouroughly wetted my hair as I walkd the deck.
16. No dew this morn: weather moderate and cloudy. In the Morn Tupia saw a large float of sea weed and shewd it to one other man; it was however so far from the ship that no one else saw it. At noon Our second Lieutenant observd a small Butterfly as he thought. At night some Thunder and a fresh gale at Sw, with a heavy swell which seemd to keep rather to the Westward of the Wind. Many Albatrosses and black shearwaters2 were about the ship. At night a small land bird came on board about the size of a sparrow; some of the boys tried to catch it but it got from them in the rigging and was never seen after.
17. During last night and this morn the weather was most Variable with continual squalls and wind shifting all round the compass; such weather is often met with in the neighbourhood of land so that with this and the former signs our seamen began to prophesy that we were not now at any great distance from it. A Gannet was seen which flew towards the Nw with a steady uninterrupted flight as if he knew the road that he was going led to the shore.3 In the evening a Port Egmont hen was seen. At night it blew strong at WSW.
1 Possibly an immature White-fronted Tern, Sterna striata (Gm.). Hindwood has discussed the status of this species on the Australian side of the Tasman Sea (Emu, 45, 1946, p. 179). Mid-April would be a particularly early date for its appearance in Australian waters, the first date given by Hindwood being May 3. In New Zealand these birds leave their nesting grounds in March.
2 Probably the Short-tailed Shearwater or Tasmanian Mutton-bird, Puffinus tenuirostris (Temm.), or the Wedge-tailed Shearwater, P. pacificus (Gm.).
3 The Australian Gannet, Sula bassana serrator (Gray). This is an interesting observation in view of the recent demonstration that many New Zealand-bred gannets migrate to the east Australian shore-line in the autumn, where they feed on the abundant winter shoals of pilchards (Stein and Wodzicki, Notornis, 6, 1955, p. 58).
18. Stiff gales and a heavy sea from the Westward. In the morn a Port Egrnont hen and a Pintado bird were seen, at noon two more of the former. At night the weather became rather more moderate and a shoal of Porpoises were about the Ship which leapd out of the water like Salmons,1 often throwing their whole bodies several feet high above the surface.
19. With the first day light this morn the Land was seen,2 at 10 it was pretty plainly to be observd; it made in sloping hills, coverd in Part with trees or bushes, but interspersd with large tracts of sand. At Noon the land much the same. We were now sailing along shore 5 or 6 Leagues from it, with a brisk breeze of wind and cloudy unsettled weather, when we were calld upon deck to see three water spouts, which at the same time made their appearance in different places but all between us and the land. Two which were very distant soon disapeard but the third which was about a League from us lasted full a quarter of an hour. It was a column which appeard to be of about the thickness of a mast or a midling tree, and reachd down from a smoak colourd cloud about two thirds of the way to the surface of the sea; under it the sea appeard to be much troubled for a considerable space and from the whole of that space arose a dark colourd thick mist which reachd to the bottom of the pipe. When it was at its greatest distance from the water the pipe itself was perfectly transparent and much resembled a tube of glass or a Column of water, if such a thing could be supposd to be suspended in the air; it very frequently contracted and dilated, lenghned and shortned itself and that by very quick motions; it very seldom remaind in a perpendicular direction but Generaly inclind either one way or the other in a curve as a light body acted upon by wind is observd to do. During the whole time that it lasted smaler ones seemd to attempt to form in its neighbourhood; at last one did about as thick as a rope close by it and became longer than the old one which at that time was in its shortest state; upon this they Joind together in an instant and gradualy contracting intd the Cloud disapeard.3
1 The porpoises are unidentifiable.
2 The coast of New South Wales was first sighted at 6 a.m., this day by Hicks. The ship continued to stand to the westward till 8 a.m., at which time Cook altered course to Ne, naming the southernmost point of land then in sight Point Hicks.
3 On the evening of this day the ship was off Cape Howe.
21. In the morn the land appeard much as it did yesterday but rather more hilly; in the even again it became flatter. Several smoaks were seen from whence we concluded it to be rather more populous; at night five fires.1
22. The Countrey hilly but rising in gentle slopes and well wooded. A hill was in sight which much resembled those dove houses which are built four square with a small dome at the top.2 In the morn we stood in with the land near enough to discern 5 people who appeard through our glasses to be enormously black: so far did the prejudices which we had built on Dampiers account influence us that we fancied we could see their Colour when we could scarce distinguish whether or not they were men.3 — Since we have been on the coast we have not observd those large fires which we so frequently saw in the Islands and New Zealand made by the Natives in order to clear the ground for cultivation; we thence concluded not much in favour of our future freinds. — It has long been an observation among us that the air in this Southern hemisphere was much clearer than in our northern, these some days at least it has appeard remarkably so. A headland calld Dromedaries Head, not remarkably high,4 had been seen at the dist[ance] of 25 L'gs and judgd by nobody to be more than 6 or 8 from us; it was now in sight plain and our distance from it by the ships run was 23 I'gs, yet the Sea men acknowledg'd that tho they knew how far it was from them they could not think that it appeard more than 10 I'gs off. The hill like a pigeon house was also seen at a very great distance; the little dome on the top of it was first thought to be a rock standing up in the sea long before any other part was seen, and when we came up with it we found it to be several miles inland.
1 On the morning of this day the ship was off Mount Dromedary and Cape Dromedary, in the afternoon passed Bateman's Bay, and in the evening Point Upright.
2 Called by Cook the Pigeon House.
3 Both in his New Voyage round the World (1697) and his Voyage to New Holland (1703) Dampier writes in exceedingly uncomplimentary terms of the Australian aborigines. In the former (Dampier's Voyages, ed. Masefield, I, p. 453) he says, ‘The colour of their Skins, both of their Faces and the rest of their Body, is coal black, like that of the Negroes of Guinea’; and in the latter (ibid., II, p. 440) he refers to ‘the same black Skins’ as he had noted before. Presumably Banks had the volumes on board with him.
4 Presumably he means Cape Dromedary, as Cook refers to Mount Dromedary as ‘a pretty high mountain’.
The Master today in conversation made a remark on the Variation of the Needle which struck me much, as to me it was new and appeard to throw much light on the Theory of that Phenomenon. The Variation is here very small, he says: he has three times crossd the line of no variation and that at all those times as well as at this he has observd the Needle to be very unsteady, moving very easily and scarce at all fixing: this he shewd me: he also told me that in several places he has been in the land had a very remarkable effect upon the variation, as in the place we were now in: at 1 or 2 Leagues distant from the shore the variation was 2 degrees less than at 8 Lgs distance.10
24. The wind was unfavourable all day and the ship too far from the land for much to be seen; 2 large fires however were seen and several smaller. At night a little lightning to the Southward.11
1 Parkinson's drawing of an unidentified megalopa larva (III, pl. 11) was made this day and is labelled Cancer cyapopthalmus; it is possibly the organism to which Banks refers here.
2 Aequorea forskalia.
3 Pelagia sp.
4 Thalia democratica.
5 Thetys vagina.
6 Thalia democratica.
7 Portuguese Man-of-war. See 7 October 1768, and 3 March 1769. Solander records this ‘variety’ of Physalia physalis on four occasions (p. 395).
8 Veleila velella.
9 Glaucus atlanticus.
10 What particular light Molyneux's remark threw on the ‘theory’ of the variation of the needle Banks does not say, apart from noting the facts. The essential thing to be learnt about the variation of the needle on shipboard was that it was affected by the iron on the ship itself, and the discovery of how to counteract that had to wait for Flinders.
11 This day Cook named Cape St George, and two leagues to the north of it noted the appearance of a bay, an appearance ‘not favourable enough to induce me to loose time in beating up to it’. This was Jervis Bay: he named its north point Long Nose.
26. Land today more barren in appearance that we hade before seen it: it consisted cheifly of Chalky cliffs something resembling those of old England; within these it was flat and might be no doubt as fertile. Fires were seen during the day the same as yesterday but none so large.
27. The Countrey today again made in slopes to the sea coverd with wood of a tolerable growth tho not so large as some we have seen. At noon we were very near it; one fire only was in sight. Some bodies of 3 feet long and half as broad floated very boyant past the ship; they were supposd to be cuttle bones which indeed they a good deal resembled but for their enormous size.1 After dinner the Captn proposd to hoist out boats and attempt to land, which gave me no small satisfaction; it was done accordingly but the Pinnace on being lowerd down into the water was found so leaky that it was impracticable to attempt it. Four men were at this time observd walking briskly along the shore, two of which carried on their shoulders a small canoe; they did not however attempt to put her in the water so we soon lost all hopes of their intending to come off to us, a thought with which we once had flatterd ourselves. To see something of them however we resolvd and the Yawl, a boat just capable of carrying the Captn, Dr Solander, myself and 4 rowers was accordingly prepard. They sat on the rocks expecting us but when we came within about a quarter of a mile they ran away hastily into the countrey; they appeard to us as well as we could judge at that distance exceedingly black. Near the place were four small canoes which they left behind. The surf was too great to permit us with a single, boat and that so small to attempt to land, so we were obligd to content ourselves with gazing from the boat at the productions of nature which we so much wishd to enjoy a nearer acquaintance with. The trees were not very large and stood seperate from each other without the least underwood; among them we could discern many cabbage trees but nothing else which we could call by any name.2 In the course of the night many fires were seen.
1 According to Cotton (S. Aust, Nat., 1931) the largest and most common Australian sepia is Amplisepia apama (Gray). He figures a cuttle bone from one of these measuring 280 × 100 mm., but a specimen exists in the British Museum which is no less than 460 × 150 mm.
2 This attempt to land seems to have been not far from Bulli, perhaps a mile or two north of it. Cook gives the noon latitude as 34° 21′ and Bulli is just about 34° 20′. The ‘cabbage trees’ were probably Livistona australis.
1 ‘Long pikes’ must be the ordinary native spear. The ‘wooden weapon made something like a short scymetar’ reminds one at once of a boomerang; but the ‘swords’ Banks mentions in his next sentence echoes the same word used by Cook and others, which has generally been taken to indicate throwing-sticks. Probably both articles were seen.
2 Pipe clay.
3 This was so. Banks seems again to be describing the boomerang.
1 We have now clearly a throwing-stick.
1 S has the note, ‘Lances from 15 to 6 feet: probably those dimensions were the two extremes: the general size was from 14 to 8 feet. See p. 396’ [i.e. p. 132 below].
2 This was a fish-spear; the gum that roused Banks's suspicion was merely resin or gum used to attach the fish-bones to the main part of the prongs. The Australians did not poison their spears.
3 This is another reference to Dampier, who, in the passages already cited (p. 50, n. 3 above) remarks, ‘Their Hair is black, short and curl'd, like that of the Negroes; and not long and lank like the common Indians’—i.e. of Central and South America; and ‘Hair frizled’. This was good observation in neither case. There is nothing of the negro in the Australian aborigine, as Banks now begins to realize.
29. The fires (fishing fires as we supposd) were seen during the greatest part of the night. In the morn we went ashore at the houses, but found not the least good effect from our present yesterday: No signs of people were to be seen; in the house in which the children were yesterday was left every individual thing which we had thrown to them; Dr Solander and myself went a little way into the woods and found many plants, but saw nothing like people. At noon all hands came on board to dinner. The Indians, about 12 in number, as soon as they saw our boat put off Came down to the houses. Close by these was our watering place at which stood our cask: they lookd at them but did not touch them, their business was merely to take away two of four boats which they had left at the houses; this they did, and hauld the other two above high water mark, and then went away as they came. In the Evening 15 of them armd came towards our waterers; they sent two before the rest, our people did the same; they however did not wait for a meeting but gently retird. Our boat was about this time loaded so every body went off in her, and at the same time the Indians went away. Myself with the Captn &c were in a sandy cove on the Northern side of the harbour, where we hauld the seine and caught many very fine fish, more than all hands could Eat.
30. Before day break this morn the Indians were at the houses abreast of the Ship: they were heard to shout much. At su[n]rise they were seen walking away along the beach; we saw them go into the woods where they lighted fires about a mile from us. Our people went ashore as usual, Dr Solander and myself into the woods. The grass cutters were farthest from the body of the people: towards them came 14 or 15 Indians having in their hands sticks that shone (sayd the Sergeant of marines) like a musquet. The officer on seeing them gatherd his people together: the hay cutters coming to the main body appeard like a flight so the Indians pursued them, however but a very short way, for they never came nearer than just to shout to each other, maybe a furlong. At night they came again in the same manner and acted over again the same half pursuit. Myself in the Even landed on a small Island on the Northern side of the bay1 to search for shells; in going I saw six Indians on the main who shouted to us but ran away into the woods before the boat was within half a mile of them, although she did not even go towards them.
1 Bare islet, off La Pérouse Point.