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Endeavour journal, 6 April 1769 (Series 03.222)

Notes: Page header reads: 'South Sea'
Author: Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820
Date: 6 April 1769
Series title: Series 03: The Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks, 25 August 1768 - 12 July 1771
Frame numbers:
Transcript: 6. Pleasant breeze, at ½ past 11 land in sight again, at 3 came up with it, proved to be two distinct Islands with many small ones near them Joining by reefs under water.

The Islands themselves were long thin strips of land ranging in all directions sometime ten or more miles in lengh but never more than a quarter of a mile broad; upon them were many Cocoa nut and other trees and many inhabitants several of whoom came out in Canoes as far as the reefs but would not come without them; 6 particularly who for some time walkd along shore abreast of the ship, on our passing the end of the Island launchd two Canoes with great quickness and dexterity and 3 getting into each the[y] put off as we thought intending to come to us. The ship was brought to and we waited some time but they like their fellows came no farther than the reef, where they stoppd and waited for two messengers who we saw dispatchd from the great canoes wading and swimming towards them along the reef, they met and after a council I suppose resolvd not to come off. The ship after waiting some time stood off and when 2 or 3 miles from the shore was followd by a canoe with a sail, but not thinking it worth while to bring too for her she soon gave over the chase and returnd to the reef.

The people seemd as well as we could judge (who were a good ½ mile from the shore) to be about our size and well made, of a dark brown complexion, stark naked, wearing their hair tied back with a fillet which passd round their head and kept it sticking out behind like a bush. The greatest number of them carried in their hands two weapons, one a slender pole from 10 to 14 feet in lengh at one end of which was a small knob or point not unlike the point of a spear, the other not above 4 feet long made much like a paddle as possibly it was intended, for their canoes were very different in size. The two which we saw them launch seemd not intended to carry more than barely the 3 men who got into each of them, others there were which had 6 and some 7 men; one of these hoisted a sail which did not seem to reach above 6 feet high above the boat, this (as soon as they came to the reef and stoppd their boat) they took down and converted into a shed to shelter them from a small shower of rain which then fell. The Canoe which followd us to sea hoisted a sail not unlike an English lugsail and near as lofty as an English boat of the same size would have carried.

The people on the shore made many signals but whether they meant to frighten us away or invite us ashore is dificult to tell: they wavd with their hands and seemd to beckon us to them but they were assembld together with clubs and staves as they would have done had they meant to oppose us. Their signs we answerd by waving our hats and shouting which they answerd by shouting again. Our situation made it very improper to try them farther, we wanted nothing, the Island was too trifling to be an object worth taking possession of; had we therefore out of mere curiosity hoisted out a boat and the natives by attacking us oblige us to destroy some of them the only reason we could give for it would be the desire of satisfying a useless curiosity. We shall soon by our connections with the inhabitants of Georges Island (who already know our strengh and if they do not love at least fear us) gain some knowledge of the customs of these savages; or possibly persuade one of them to come with us who may serve as an interpreter and give us an opportunity hereafter of landing where ever we please without running the risk of being obligd to commit the cruelties which the Spaniards and most others who have been in these seas have often brought themselves under the dreadfull nescessity of being guilty of, for guilty I must call it.