The Life of Captain James Cook
VIII — Tahiti
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.
1 Strictly speaking, this statement should be modified now, because of the motor-road that has been cut right round the island.
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.
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.
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.
1 Journals I, 75–6; and I print a draft on pp. 520–1.
1 The father was Vaetua i Ahurai, chief of Tefana or Faaa; tamaiti means ‘the son’. For convenience I refer to him as Tepau.
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.
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.
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.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
2 Journals I, 559.
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.
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.
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.
1 Journals I, 559.
2 ibid., 104.
1 See the ‘Note on Polynesian History’, Journals I, clxxxii, and also p. 104, n. 1.
2 Journals I, clxxxii-clxxxiv.
1 ibid., 101.
2 ibid., 102, n. 1, and Parkinson, 32.
1 Journals I, 556.
2 ibid., 99.
3 ibid., 98–9.
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.
1 Journals I, 112–13; also Banks, I, 303–5.
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.
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.
1 Banks, I, 312–13.
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.’
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.