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Endeavour journal, 9 November 1769 (Series 03.441)

Notes: Page header reads: 'Opoorage'
Author: Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820
Date: 9 November 1769
Series title: Series 03: The Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks, 25 August 1768 - 12 July 1771
Frame numbers:
Transcript: 9. At day break this morn a vast number of boats were on board almost loaded with macarel of 2 sorts, one exactly the same as is caught in England. We concluded that they had caught a large shoal and sold us the overplus what they could not consume, as they set very little value upon them. It was however a fortunate circumstance for us as by 8 O'clock the ship had more fish on board than all hands could eat in 2 or 3 days, and before night so many that every mess who could raise salt cornd as many as will last them this month or more. After an early breakfast the astronomer went on shore to Observe the transit of Mercury which he did without the smallest cloud intervening to Obstruct him, a fortunate circumstance as except yesterday and today we have not had a clear day for some time.

About noon we were alarmd by the report of a great gun fird from the ship, the occasion of which was this: two canoes came to the ship very large and full of people, they shewd by their behaviour that they were quite strangers or at least so much so as not to be at all afraid; they soon enterd into trade and almost immediately cheated by taking the Cloth which was given to them without returning that which was bargaind for. On this they immediately began to sing their war song as if to defy any revenge those on board might chuse to take, this enragd the 2nd lieutenant so much that he leveld a musquet at the man who had still got the cloth in his hand and shot him dead. The canoes went off to some distance but did not go quite away. It was nescessary to send a boat ashore, so least they might atempt to revenge his death upon the boat A round shot was fird over them which had the desird Effect of putting them to flight immediately. The news of this event was immediately brought on shore to our Indians who were at first a little alarmd and retreated from us in a body; in a little time however they returnd on their own accords and acknowledgd that the dead man deservd his punishment - unaskd by us, who thought his fate severe knowing as we did that small shot would have had almost or quite as good an effect with little danger to his life, which tho forfeited to the laws of England we could not but wish to spare if it could be done without subjecting ourselves to the derision and consequently to the attacks of these people; which we have now learnt to fear not least they should kill us, but least we should be reducd to the nescessity of killing a number of them which must be the case should they ever in reality attack us.

A little before sunset we went home with the Indians to see them eat their supper. It consisted of fish, shell fish, lobsters and birds: these were dressd either by broiling them upon a skewer which was stuck into the ground leaning over the fire, or in ovens as we calld them at Otahite which were holes in the ground filld with provision and hot stones and coverd over with leaves and Earth. Here we saw a woman who mournd after their fashion for a dead relation. She sat on the ground near the rest who (except one) seemd not at all to regard her: the tears constantly trickled down her cheeks; she repeated in a low but very mournfull voice words which we did not at all understand, still at every sentence cutting her arms, face or breast with a shell she held in her hand, so that she was almost coverd with blood, a most affecting spectacle. The cutts she made however were so managd as seldom to draw blood and when they did to peirce a very small way into the flesh; but this si not always the case with them, for many we have seen and some were among these very people who had shocking large scarrs on their arms, thighs, breasts, cheaks &c . which they told us had been done in this manner and upon this occasion; may be they proportion the depth of their cutts to the regard they have for the deceasd.