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OCTOBER 1768

1768 October 1.

This Morn Bonetos were in great plenty about the ship, we were calld up early to see one that had been struck, found it to be the Scomber Pelamis Linn., had a drawing made of it; I confess however that I was a good deal disapointd, expecting to find the animal much more bea[u]tifull than it provd, tho its colours were extreemly lively, especialy the blue lines on the Back (which equald at least any ultramarine); yet the name, and accounts I had heard from all who had seen them, made me expect an animal of a much greater variety of colour, this consisting of no other than blue lines on the back crossing each other, a gold and purple changeable on the sides, and white with black lines on the bottom of the sides and belly.

After having examind and drawn the animal we proceeded to disect him, and in the course of the operation were much pleasd by the infinite strength we observd in every part of him, specialy the stomack, the coats of which were uncommonly strong especialy about the sp[h]incter, or extremity by which the digested meat is discharged; this I suppose is intended to crush and render usefull the scales and bones of fishes which this animal must continualy swalow without seperating them from the flesh.

From the inside of its scales we took a small animal who seemd to be a louse (if I may so call it) as it certainly stuck to him and preyd upon the Juices which it extra[c]ted by sucktion, probably much to his disquiet; it provd to be monoculus piscinus Linn. which Baster has given a figure of in his Opera subcessive, but has by some unlucky accident mistaken the head to be the tail, and the tail the head, and the ovaria for antennae.

In the inside of the fish were also found two animals which preyd upon him, one in his very flesh tho near the membrane which covers the intestines, Fasciola Pelamines Mss, the other in the stomach sipunculus piscium Mss.

1768 October 2.

This morn two swallows were about the ship, tho we must now be 60 Leagues at least from any land, at night one of them is taken and proved to be Hirundo domestica Linn.

1768 October 3.

This morn the other swallow was found dead upon the deck; now for the first time we have lost the trade, and expected calm and squally weather till we shall cross the line.

The trade had now lasted us pretty free from squalls or calms these days it has been in general between but ever since we have been in it the air has been uncommonly damp, every thing more than usualy liable to mould, and all Iron work to rust, the air has seldom been Clear, but a haize in it which was even perceiveable to the human frame.

1768 October 4.

Today quite calm, I went out in a boat and took dagysa strumosa, medusa porpita, the same which we before calld asurea, mimus volutator, and cimex []who runns upon the water here in the same manner as C. Lacustris does on our ponds in England. Towards even two small fish were taken under the stern, they were following a shirt which was towing and showd not the least signs of fear, so that they were taken with a landing net without the least difficulty. Balistes monoceros Linn.

1768 October 5.

Weather pretty good, at night a squall with Lightning and rain, another swallow came to the ship today and was taken with the snippers as soon as he went to roost.

1768 October 6.

Blew fresh this morn with heavy rain; towards noon five swallows came on board and were taken at roosting time, and provd like all we have taken before to be H. domestica Linn.

1768 October 7.

This morn calm; went out in the boat and took what is calld by the Seamen a Portugese man of war, Holothuria Physalis Linn; also Medusa velella L. onidium spinosum Mss, Diodon Erinaceus Mss, dagysa vitrea Mss, Helix Janthina Linn, — violacea Mss and procellaria Oceanica Mss. The Holothuria proved to be one of the most bea[u]tifull sights I had ever seen, it consisted of a small bladder in shape much like the air bladder of fishes, from the bottom of which descended a number of strings of bright blue and red, some three or four feet in length which if touchd stung the person who touchd them in the same manner as nettles, only much stronger: on the top of this Bladder was a membrane which he turnd either one way or the other as the wind blew to receive it, this was veind with pink in an uncommonly beautifull manner, in short the whole together was one of the most beautifull sights I have seen among the mollusca, tho many of them are beautifull.

The floating shells H. Janthina and violacea from their particularity deserve also to be mentiond, they are found floating on the top of the water by means of a small cluster of Bubbles filld with air, which are composd of a tenacious slimey substance, not easily parting with its contents; these keep him suspended on the surface of the water and serve as a hiding for his Eggs, and it is probable that he never goes down to the bottom, or willingly comes near any shore, as his shell is of so brittle a construction that few fresh water snails are so thin.

Every shell contains within it about a teaspoonfull of Liquid, which it easily discharges on being touched, this is of a most beautifull red purple colour and easily dies linnen clothes; it may be well worth inquiry whether or not this is the purpura of the ancients as the shell is certainly found in the Mediterranean. We have not yet taken a sufficient quantity of the shells to try the experiment, probably we shall do soon.

Procellaria oceanica differs very little from P. pelagica Linn, but from his place of abode so far south and some small difference in plumage it is more than likely that he is different in species.

1768 October 8.

A fine Breze today; employd in figuring &c. what was taken yesterday.

1768 October 9.

This morn a shark calld us out of our bedds, and was soon hookd, but as soon broke his hold and went off: at noon went out in the boat but found nothing on the surface of the water; on returning home however found on the sterm of the ship two new species of Lepas vittata and midas, they were both sticking to the bottom in company with the anatifera, of which there was great abundance. After dinner calld upon deck by another shark, who had been lately wounded by a harpoon, but he was two cunning after his misfortune to bite at our baits, which we much Lamented as he had sucking fish upon him that were quite white, probably a species not yet describd.

1768 October 10.

Went out in the boat today, took plenty of Helix Janthina and some few of violacea, shot the black toed gull of Penn. Zool. It had not yet been describd according to Linnaeus's system, so calld it Larus crepidatus; its food here seems to be cheifly Helixes which appeard probable at least, on account of its dung being of a lively red colour, much like that which was procurd from the shells.

I was drove home from this excursion by a very heavy squall of rain, which intirely wetted me through long before it was possible to return to the ship, however I receivd no other harm from the ducking than the present inconvenience of being so thoroughly wet. The remainder of today was very squally, with much rain; indeed it has been so ever since we lost the trade, and the people who have been here before say that it is generaly so in these latitudes; I can liken it to nothing so much as April in England, when it is very showery, the weather is never certain for two hours, or indeed half the time, tho calms spend much the greatest part of our time in idleness.

1768 October 11.

Today much like yesterday, very squally; saw a dolphin, and admired the infinite beauty of his colour as he swam in the water, but in vain, he would not give us even a chance of taking him.

1768 October 12.

A shark, squalus carcharias Linn. taken this morn, and with him two pilot fish; at noon calm, I went out in the boat and took several Blubbers. The pilot fish Gasterosteus ductor Linn. is certainly as bea[u]tyfull a fish as can be imagind: it is of a light blue with cross streaks of darker colour; it is wonderful to see them about a Shark, swimming round him without expressing the least signs of fear; what their motive for doing so is I cannot guess as I cannot find that they get any provision by it, or any other emolument, except possibly the company of the shark keeps them free from the attacks of Dolphins or other large fish of prey, who would otherwise devour them.

The blubbers taken today were Beroe Labiata and Marsupialis Mss, the first of which made a pretty appearance in the water, by reason of its swimmers, which line its sides like fringes, and are of a changeable fire colour; Callirhoe bivia Mss, the most lifeless lump of Jelly I have seen, it scarcely seems to be possessd of life but for one or two motions we saw it make.

1768 October 13.

Calm this Morn; a shark was taken, but not one pilot fish attended him, which is rather uncommon as they seldom are without a shoal of from ten to twenty. At noon I went in the boat, and took the Sallee man Phyllodoce velella Linn. who is a Sailor tho inferior in size to the Portugese man of war, yet not without its beauty, cheifly from the charming blue of its bottom; its sail is transparent but not moveable, so it trusts itself to the mercy of the winds without being able to turn to windward as the Portugese man of war maybe can? We saw several of the latter today, and observd many small fish under their tentacula who seemd to shelter there as if with its stings it could defend them from large enemies.

1768 October 14.

Calm today but so squally and rainy that I dar'd not venture out with the boat.

1768 October 15.

Ventur'd out today, but found the surface of the water so ruffled that nothing at all floated upon it, I had the good fortune however to see a bird of the shearwater kind which I shot, and it provd to be not describd; it was about as large as the common but differd from it in being whiter, especialy about the face: calld it Procellaria crepidata, as its feet were like the gulls shot last week, black without but white near the leggs.

A large shoal of fish were all this day under the shipp's stern, playing about, but refusing to take bait; we however contrivd to take one of them with a fish gigg, which provd not describd; it was in make and appearance like a Carp, weighing near two pounds, its sides were ornamented with narrow yellow lines and its finns almost intirely coverd with scales: calld it Chaetodon cyprinaceus.

1768 October 16.

A fine breeze of wind started up last night which held us all day, so I found it impossible to go out in the boat; tonight however to make these 24 hours not intirely unprofitable I had the opportunity of seeing a Phenomenon I had never before met with, a lunar rainbow which appeard about ten O'Clock very faint and almost or quite without colour, so that it could be tracd by little More than an appearance which lookd like shade on a cloud.

1768 October 17.

This morn went out in the boat but caught no one thing, I had never been before so unfortunate. In the Evening a breeze of wind sprung up from SE by S which makes us hope we had got the S.E. trade.

1768 October 18.

Wind continued to blow fresh so we had little doubt of the reality of yesterdays hopes. This evening trying as I have often (foolishly no doubt) done to exercise myself by playing tricks with two ropes in the Cabbin I got a fall which hurt me a good deal and alarmd me more, as the blow was on my head, and two hours after it I was taken with sickness at my stomack which made me fear some ill consequence.

1768 October 19.

Today thank God I was much better and easd of all apprehensions, the wind continuing fair and I had given over all thoughts of boat expeditions for some time at least.

1768 October 20.

Quite well today, employd in describing and attending the Draughtsmen.

1768 October 21.

Trade continues. Today the cat killd our bird M. Avida who had lived with us ever since the 29th of Septr intirely on the flies which he caught for himself; he was hearty and in high health so that probably he might have livd a great while longer had fate been more kind.

1768 October 22.

Trade had got more to the Southward that it usualy had been, which was unlucky for me as I proposd to the Captain to touch for part of a day at least at the Island of Ferdinand Norronha, which he had no objection to if we could fetch it: that however seemd very uncertain. This Evening we saw 6 or 7 large fish of the whale kind which the Seamen calld Grampuses tho I think they were very different from the fish commonly so calld; they were however Certainly of the whale kind and blew throug[h] two? pipes on the top of their heads. They had heads smaller and rounder than those fish in general have and very low back finns and very small tails; thus much was all that I could see as they never came within two cables lengh of the ship.

1768 October 23.

Trade today was still more to the Southward, almost due South, so that we tackd and stood to the eastward lest we should fall in with the coast of Brazil to the Northward of Cape Frio.

1768 October 24.

Wind today as fair as we could wish, ship layd up so well that it renewd our hopes of touching at the Island.

About noon today we experiencd what the Seamen call a white squall, that is a gust of wind which came upon us quite unawares, unattended with a cloud as squalls in general are and therefore took us quite unprepard; it was however very slight so no ill consequence ensued except Mr Parkinson and his potts going to leward, which diverted us more than it hurt him.

1768 October 25.

This morn about 8 O'Clock crossed the AEquinoctial line in about 33 degrees West Longitude from Greenwich, at the rate of four knotts which our seamen said was an uncommonly good breeze, the Thermometer standing at 29. (The Thermometers used in this voyage are two of Mr Birds making after Farenheights scale, which seldom differ above a degree from each other and that not till they are as high as 80, in which case the medium between the two instruments is set down.) This Evening the ceremony of ducking the ships company was performed as always customary on crossing the line, when those who have crossd it before Claim a right of ducking all that have not, the whole of the ceremony I shall describe.

About dinner time a list was brought into the cabbin containing the names of every body and thing aboard the ship, in which the dogs and catts were not forgot; to this was affixd a petition, sign'd ‘the ships company,’ desiring leave to examine every body in that List that it might be know[n] whether or not they had crossd the line before. This was immediately granted; every body was then calld upon the quarter deck and examind by one of the lieutenants who had crossd, he markd every name either to be duckd or let off according as their qualifications directed. Captn Cooke and Doctor Solander were on the Black list, as were my self my servants and doggs, which I was oblig'd to compound for by giving the Duckers a certain quantity of Brandy for which they willingly excusd us the ceremony.

Many of the Men however chose to be duckd rather than give up 4 days allowance of wine which was the price fixd upon, and as for the boys they are always duckd of course; so that about 21 underwent the ceremony which was performd thus:

A block was made fast to the end of the Main Yard and a long line reved through it, to which three Cross peices of wood were fastned, one of which was put between the leggs of the man who was to be duckd and to this he was tyed very fast, another was for him to hold in his hands and the third was over his head least the rope should be hoisted too near the block and by that means the man be hurt. When he was fas[t]ned upon this machine the Boatswain gave the command by his whistle and the man was hoisted up as high as the cross peice over his head would allow, when another signal was made and immediately the rope was let go and his own weight carried him down, he was then immediately hoisted up again and three times served in this manner which was every mans allowance. Thus ended the diversion of the day, for the ducking lasted till almost night, and sufficiently diverting it certainly was to see the different faces that were made on this occasion, some grinning and exulting in their hardiness whilst others were almost suffocated and came up ready enough to have compounded after the first or second duck, had such proceeding been allowable.

It is now time that I should say something of the climate and degree of heat since crossing the tropick, as we have been for some time within the bounds which were supposd by the ancients to be uninhabitable on account of their heat.

Almost immediately on crossing the tropick the air became sensibly much damper than usual, tho not materialy hotter, the thermometer then in general stood from 80 to 82. The nearer we approachd to the calms still the damper every thing grew, this was perceivable even to the human body and very much so, but more remarkably upon all kinds of furniture: every thing made of Iron rusted so fast that the knives in peoples pockets became almost useless and the razors in cases not free. All kinds of Leather became mouldy, Portfolios and truncks coverd with black leather were almost white, soon after this mould adheerd to almost every thing, all the books in my Library became mouldy so that they were obligd to be wiped to preserve them. About this time we came into the calms which we met with earlier than usual; the thermometer was then at 83 and we sufferd from the heat and damp together. Bathing however kept me in perfect health, tho many of the ship[s] company were ill of bilious complaints which however were but of short duration.

This continued till we got the S.E. trade, when or a little before the glass fell to 88 and soon to 78 and 79, but the dampness continued yet; to that I cheifly attribute the ill success of the Electrical experiments of which I have wrote an account on separate papers that the different experiments may appear at one view.

The air during the whole time sin[c]e we crossed the tropick and indeed sometime before has been nearly of the same temperature throughout the 24 hours, the Thermometer seldom rising above a degree during the time the sun is above the horizon. The windows of the cabbin have been open without once being shut ever since we left Madeira.

1768 October 26.

Last night and today the weather has been squally, wind rather fresh but keeping very much to the Southward; great plenty of flying fish have been about the ship few or none of which have been seen since we left the N.E. trade.

1768 October 27.

Fine weather but Wind rather too much to the Southward. We are today nearly in the latitude of the Island of Fernand de Norhona, so that I am not without hopes of making it if rightly laid down; night however put an end to our hopes for the present at least, and left us in no very agreable situation as shoals and foul ground is laid down all round the Islands.

1768 October 28.

Fine breeze today, our hopes of seeing the Island were again renewd but without success, so at night we judge ourselves to be past it and that the longitude is wrong laid down.

1768 October 29.

Wind East very pleasant, we now gave up all thoughts of the Island. This Evening the sea appeard uncommonly bea[u]tifull, flashes of light coming from it perfectly resembling small flashes of lightning, and these so frequent that sometimes 8 or ten were visible at the same moment; the seamen were divided in their acco[u]nts some assuring us that it proceeded from fish who made the light by agitating the salt water, as they calld it, in their darting at their prey, while others said that they had often seen them and knew them to be nothing but blubbers (Medusas). This made us very Eager to procure some of them, which at last we did one by the help of the landing net. They prov'd to be a species of Medusa which when brought on board appeard like metal violently heated, emitting a white light; on the surface of this animal a small Lepas was fixd exactly the colour of it, which was almost transparent not unlike thin starch in which a small quantity of blue is disolv'd. In taking these animals three or 4 species of Crabbs were taken also but very small, one of which gave light full as much as a glow-worm in England tho the Creature was not so large by 10/9ths; indeed the sea this night seemd to abound with light in an uncommon manner, as if every inhabitant of it furnishd its share, which might have been the case tho none kept that property after being brought out of the water except these two.

1768 October 30.

This Morn employd in Examining the things caught last night, which being taken by the light of our lamps (for the wind which blows in at the windows always open will not suffer us to burn candles) we could hardly then distinguish into genera, much less into species, had the good fortune to find that they were all quite new. Calld them Medusa pellucens, Lepas pellucens,[], Clio[], Cancer fulgens and Cancer amplectens, but we had the misfortune to loose two more species of Crabbs overboard by the tumbling of a glass overboard in which they were containd.

In the Evening the Sea was lighted in the same manner as it was last night only not near so strongly; we renewd however our endeavours to take some of the light carriers, not without success as two new species of Crabbs were taken one of which was very singular.

1768 October 31.

Nothing to be done today, found however that the crabbs taken yesterday were both new, calld them vitreus and Crassicornis.

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