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Endeavour journal, 5 May 1769 (Series 03.252)

Notes: Page header reads: 'Georges Land'
Author: Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820
Date: 5 May 1769
Series title: Series 03: The Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks, 25 August 1768 - 12 July 1771
Frame numbers:
Transcript: 5. This morn Obadée (her majesties bedfellow) came pretty early to visit us or rather himself to take a view of her canoe. He carefully overhauld every thing in it and complaind of the Loss of some trifling thing I could not understand what; after this he brought every thing out of it and deliverd them into my charge desiring that they might be taken care of, after which he left us. A very small quantity of Bread fruit brought this morn. At breakfast time came two messengers from Dootahah to put the captn in mind of his promise of Visiting him. Accordingly at 9 the boat set out carrying the Captn Dr Solander and myself. We arrivd in about an hour, Eparre his residence being about 4 miles from the tents. An immence throng of people met us on the shore crowding us very much tho they were severely beat for so doing by a tall well looking [man] who lacd about him with a long stick most unmercifully, striking all who did not get out of his way without intermission till he had cleard us a path sufficient to go to Dootahah, who was seated under a tree attended by a few grave looking old men. With him we sat down and made our presents consisting of an ax and a gown of Broad cloth made after their fashion and trimmd with tape, with these he seemd mightily satisfied. Soon after this Oborea joind us and with her I retird to a house adjacent where I could be free from the suffocating heat occasiond by so large a crowd of people as were gatherd about us. Here was prepard for our diversion an entertainment quite new to us, a wrestling match at which the other gentlemen soon joind us. A large court yard raild round with Bamboo about 3 feet high was the scene of this diversion; at one end of this Dootahah was seated and near him was left seats for us but we rather chose to range at large among the spectators than confine ourselves to any particular spot.

The diversion began by the combatants some of them at least walking round the yard with a slow and grave pace every now and then striking their left arms very hard, by which they causd a deep and very loud noise, which it seems was a challenge to each other or any one of the company who chose to engage in the exercise. Within the house stood the old men ready to give applause to the victor and some few women who seem'd to be here out of compliment to us, as much the larger number absented themselves upon the occasion.

The general challenge was given as I before said, the particular one soon followd it by which any man singled out his antagonist, it was done by joining the finger ends of both hands even with the breast and then moving the Elbows up and down. If this was accepted the challenged immediately returnd the signal and instantly both put themselves in an attitude to engage, which they very soon did striving to seize each other by the hands hair or the cloth they had round their middles, for they had no other dress. This done they attempted to seize each other by the thigh which commonly decided the contest in the fall of him who was thus taken at disadvantage; if this was not soon done they always parted either by consent or their freinds interferd in less than a minute, in which case both began to clap their arms and seek anew for an antagonist either in each other or some one else.

When any one fell the whole amusement ceasd for a few moments, in which time the old men in the house gave their aplause in a few words which they repeated together in a kind of tune.

This lasted about 2 hours, all which time the man who we observd at our first Landing continued to beat the people who did not keep at a proper distance most unmercifully. We understood that he was some officer belonging to Dootahah and was calld his Tomíte.

The wrestling over the gentlemen informed me that they understood that 2 hoggs and a large quantity of Bread fruit &c . was cooking for our dinners, news which pleasd me very well as my stomach was by this time sufficiently prepard for the repast. I went out and saw the ovens in which they were now buried, these the Indians readily shewd me telling me at the same time that they would soon be ready and how good a dinner we should have. In about half an hour all was taken up but now Dootahah began to repent of his intended generosity; he thought I suppose that a hog would be lookd upon as no more than a dinner and consequently no present made in return, he therefore changd his mind and ordering one of the pigs into the boat sent for us who soon collected together and getting our Knives prepard to fall too, saying that it was civil of the old gentleman to bring the provisions into the boat where we could with ease keep the people at a proper distance, who in the house would have crouded us almost to death. His intention was however very different from ours for instead of asking us to eat he ask'd to go on board of the ship, a measure we were forcd to comply with and row 4 miles with the pig growing cold under our noses before he would give it to us. Aboard however we dind upon this same pig and his majesty eat very heartily with us. After dinner we went ashore, the sight of Dootahah reconcild to us acted like a charm upon the people and before night bread fruit and cocoa nuts were brought to sell in tolerable plenty.