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Endeavour journal, 16 January 1770 (Series 03.509)

Notes: Page header reads: 'Totarra nue'
Author: Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820
Date: 16 January 1770
Series title: Series 03: The Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks, 25 August 1768 - 12 July 1771
Frame numbers:
Transcript: 16. At day break this morn 3 Canoes and about 100 Indians came to the ship bringing their women with them, a sign tho not a sure one of peacable inclinations. Soon after our longboat put off from the ship with Cask in her, they atempted to follow her on which a musquet loaded with small shot was fird at them which made them immediately return, tho as they were full 100 yards from the ship it is improbable that blood was drawn from any of them. They had in their canoes some fish which they offerd to sell and we to buy, so a man in a small boat was dispatchd among them to trade; he bought several bundles which they sold very fairly when one Indian seeing his opportunity snatchd at the trade which he had in his hand, but missing immediately put himself in a posture of defence flourishing his patoo-patoo as if he meant to strike. A musquet load of small shot was fird at him a few of which struck his knee, the rest missd him, on which they all left of to trade but paddled peaceably enough round the ship and at last came under the stern to Tupia and discoursd with him about their antiquity and Legends of their ancestors.

The women in these canoes and some of the men had a peice of Dress which we had not before seen - a bunch of black feathers made round and tied upon the top of their heads which it intirely coverd, making them look twice as large as they realy were. On seeing this my Judgement paid an involuntary compliment to my fair English countrey women; for led astray by this head dress which in some measure resembles their high foretops I was forward to declare it as my opinion that these were much the hansomest women we had seen upon the coast, but upon their nearer aproach I was convincd that nothing but the head dress had misled me as I saw not one who was even tolerably hansome.

After dinner we went in the boat towards a cove about a mile from the ship. As we rowd along something was seen floating upon the water which we took to be a dead seal; we rowd up to it and it provd to our great surprize to be the body of a Woman who seemd to have been dead some time. We left it and proceeded to our cove where we found a small family of Indians who were a little afraid of us as they all ran away but one; they soon however returnd except an old man and a child who staid in the woods but not out of sight of us; of these people we inquird about the body we had seen. They told Tupia that the woman was a relation of theirs and that instead of Burying their dead their custom was to tie a stone to them and throw them into the sea, which stone they supposd to have been unloosd by some accident.

The family were employd when we came ashore in dressing their provisions, which were a dog who was at that time buried in their oven and near it were many provision baskets. Looking carelessly upon one of these we by accident observd 2 bones, pretty clean pickd, which as apeard upon examination were undoubtedly human bones. Tho we had from the first of our arrival upon the coast constantly heard the Indians acknowledge the custom of eating their enemies we had never before had a proof of it, but this amounted almost to demonstration: the bones were clearly human, upon them were evident marks of their having been dressd on the fire, the meat was not intirely pickd off from them and on the grisly ends which were gnawd were evident marks of teeth, and these were accidentaly found in a provision basket. On asking the people what bones are these? they answerd, The bones of a man. - And have you eat the flesh? - Yes. - Have you none of it left? - No. - Why did not you eat the woman who we saw today in the water? - She was our relation. - Who then is it that you do eat? - Those who are killd in war. - And who was the man whose bones these are? - 5 days ago a boat of our enemies came into this bay and of them we killd 7, of whoom the owner of these bones was one. - The horrour that apeard in the countenances of the seamen on hearing this discourse which was immediately translated for the good of the company is better conceivd than describd. For ourselves and myself in particular we were before too well convincd of the existence of such a custom to be surprizd, tho we were pleasd at having so strong a proof of a custom which human nature holds in too great abhorrence to give easy credit to.