previous
next

AUGUST 1769

1769 August 1.

The wind right off the land of Ulhietea mak[in]g it dificult to get in tho we see a good inlet; after turning to windward till afternoon we however at last get hold of anchorage in the mouth of it. Many canoes came immediately about the ship bringing all sorts of trade so that before night we have purchas'd several piggs and fowls and a large quantity of Plantains and Cocoa nutts.

On attempting to warp the ship in this even the anchor was found to be fast in a rock; at least no attempts could stir it till night when the tide (which runs strong through the inlet) turnd, the ship then going over the anchor tripd it herself.

1769 August 2.

Dr Solander and myself have spent this day ashore and been very agreably entertaind by the reception we have met with from the people, tho we were not fortunate enough to meet with one new plant. Everybody seemd to fear and respect us but nobody to mistrust us in the smallest degree, men women and children came crouding after us but no one shewd us the least incivility, on the contrary wherever there was dirt or water to pass over they strove who should carry us on their backs. When we came to the houses of the principal people we were receivd with a form quite new to us. The people who generaly followd us rushd into them before us leaving however a lane sufficiently wide for us to pass; when we came in we found them rangd on each side a long mat spread upon the ground, at the farther end of which sat one or more very young women or children neatly dressd, who without stirring expected us to come up to them and make them presents, which we did with no small pleasure for prettier children or better dressd we had no where seen. One of these Tettuas as they were calld was about 6 years old, her ahou or gown was red and round her head was wound a large quantity of Tamou (plaited hair) an ornament they value more than any thing they have. She sat at the farther end of a mat 30 feet long on which no one of the spectators presumd to set a foot notwistanding the crowd, leaning upon the arm of a well looking well dressd woman about 30, possibly her nurse. We walkd up to her, as soon as we aproachd she stretchd out her hand to receive the beads we were to give, but had she been a princess royal of England giving her hand to be kissd no instruction could have taught her to have done it with a better grace. So much is untaught nature superior to art that I have seen no sight of the kind that has struck me half so much.

Gratefull possibly for the presents we had made to these girls the people in our return tryd every method to Oblige us; particularly in one house the master orderd one of his people to dance for our amusement which he did thus:

He put upon his head a large cylindrical basket about 4 feet long and 8 inches in diameter, on the front of which was fastned a facing of feathers bending forwards at the top and edged round with sharks teeth and the tail feathers of tropick birds: with this on he dancd moving slowly and often turning his head round, sometimes swiftly throwing the end of his headdress or whow so near the faces of the spectators as to make them start back, which was a joke that seldom faild of making every body laugh especialy if it happned to one of us.

We had also an opportunity of seeing the inside of the Ewharre no eatua so often mentiond. There were 3 of them much ornamented with jaw bones and very full of bundles lapd up with their cloth; these the people opned with some perswasion and in them we found complete skulls with their lower jaw bones in their proper places. Perhaps these were the skulls of those of the victorious party who died in battle and the jaw bones fastnd on the outside were those of the conquerd, but for this conjecture I had no authority from the Indians who seemd to avoid as much as possible any questions upon the subject.

1769 August 3.

This day went along shore in the opposite direction to that we took yesterday, intending to spend most of our time in purchasing stock, which we have always found the people readyer to part with at their houses and selling cheaper than at the market. In the course of our walk we met a set of stroling dancers Calld by the Indians Heiva who detaind us 2 hours and during all that time entertaind us highly indeed. They consisted of 3 drums, 2 women dancers and 6 men; these Tupia tells us go round the Island as we have seen the little Heivas do at Otahite, but differ from those in that most of the people here are principal people, of which assertion we had in the case of one of the women an undoubted proof.

I shall first describe their dresses and then their dances. The women had on their heads a quantity of tamou or plaited hair which was rolled and between the interstices of it flowers of Gardenia were stuck making a head dress truly Elegant. Their shoulders arms and breasts as low as their arms were bare, below this they were coverd with black cloth and under each shoulder was placd a bunch of black feathers much as our ladies nosegays or Bouquets. On their hips rested a quantity of cloth pleated very full which reachd almost up to their arms and fell down below into long peticoats reaching below their feet, which they managd with as much dexterity as our opera dancers could have done; these pleats were brown and white alternately but the peticoats were all white.

In this dress they advancd sideways keeping excellent time to the drums which beat brisk and loud; they soon began to shake their hips giving the folds of cloth that lay upon them a very quick motion which was continued during the whole dance, they sometimes standing, sometimes sitting and sometimes resting on their knees and elbows and generaly moving their fingers with a quickness scarce to be imagind. The chief entertainment of the spectators seemd however to arise from the Lascivious motions they often made use of which were highly so, more indeed than I shall atempt to describe.

One of these girls had in her ear 3 pearls, one of them very large but so foul that it was worth scarce any thing, the other two were as large as a midling pea and of a good and clear water as well as shape. For these I offerd at different times any price the owner would have but she would not hear of parting with them; I offerd once the price of 4 hogs down and any thing she would ask beside, but she would not hear of it. Indeed they have always set a value upon their pearls, if tolerably good, almost equal to our valuation supposing them as they always are spoild by the drilling.

Between the dances of the women (for they sometimes rested) the men acted a kind of interlude in which they spoke as well as dancd. We were not however sufficiently vers'd in their language to be able to give an account of the Drama.

1769 August 4.

We had often heard Tubia speak of Lands belonging to him which had been taken away by the Bola Bola men: these he tells us now are situate in the very bay where the ship lies. On going ashore this morning the inhabitants confirmd What he has told us and shewd us several different whennuas which they all acknowledged belong of right to him. The largest number of the people here are it seems the so much feard Bola Bola men, and we are told that tomorrow Opoony the King of that Island will come to visit us. We are much inclind to receive him civily as we have met with so civil a reception from his subjects.

Dr Solander and myself go upon the hills accompanied by several Indians, who carried us by excellent paths so high that we plainly saw the other side of the Island and the passage through which the ship went out of the reef between the Islets of Opoorooroo and Tamou. Our walk did not turn out very profitable as we found only two plants that we had not seen before.

In coming down again we saw the game that the Indians call Erowhaw, which is no more than pitching a kind of light lances headed with hard wood at a mark: of this amusement they seem to be very fond but none that we saw now excelld in doing it, not above one in 12 striking the mark which was the bole of a plantain tree about 20 yards distant.

1769 August 5.

Went in the boat to the Southward with the Captn &c. Saw two inlets in the reef and good harbours within them; they were both situate close to Islets, one having one on each side of it (indeed in general I have seen Breaches in Reefs almost wherever there are Islands upon them. The people all along shore were very poor, so much so that after all our days work we did not procure either hog or fowl nor indeed did we see either.

1769 August 6.

Yesterday Opoony the King of Bola Bola sent his Compts and a present of hogs and Fowls to the King of the ship, sending word also that he would in person wait upon him today. We therefore all hands staid at home in hopes of the honour of his excellencys visit. We were disapointed in our expectations not disagreably for instead of his majesty came 3 hansome lively girls who staid with us the morning and took off all regret for the want of his majesties company.

In the evening we all went to see the great king and thank him for his civilities particularly of this morning. The King of the Tatatoas or Club men who have conquerd this and are the terror of all other Islands we expected to see young lively hansome &c. &c. but how were we disapointed when we were led to an old decrepid half blind man who seemd to have scarce reason enough left to send hogs, much less galantry enough to send ladies.

1769 August 7.

We learnd from Opoony yesterday that his cheif residence was at Otahah, to this place he proposd to acompany us. As today Captn Cooke and Dr Solander went upon the expedition myself staid at home. They proceeded with Opoony and all his train, many Canoes, to a bay in Otahah calld Obooto-booto, his majesties cheif residence; here the houses were very large and good and the Canoes also finer than any the gentlemen had before seen. Such a prelude made them expect much from the owners of so fine houses, a boat load of hogs was the least they thought of, especialy as they had plenty of Spartan money to pay for them; but alas, the Gentlemen who had fatigued themselves with building the houses, chose to refresh themselves with eating the hogs; so that after the whole day was spent a small number only were procurd in proportion to what were expected.

Myself staid at home this morning and traded for some provisions and curiosities; in the afternoon took Mr Parkinson to the Heiva that he might scetch the dresses. The dancing was exactly the same as I had seen it before except that another woman was added to the two I saw before. The interludes of the men were varied, they gave us 5 or 6 which resembled much the Drama of an English stage dance. Most of my Freinds were constan[t]ly at the Heiva. Their names I set down and relationships as they are cheifly one family (1) Tiarree no Horoa a King or cheif; (2) Whannooutooa wife to 1; (3) Otoobooi sister to 2; (4) Orai Elder brother to 2; (5) Tettuanue younger brother to 2; (6) Otehammena dancing girl; (7) Ouratooa Do; (8) Mattehea father to 1; (9) Opipi mother to 1.

1769 August 8.

Dr Solander and self went along shore to gather plants, buy hogs or any thing else that might occurr. We took our course towards the Heiva and at last came up to it; it has gradualy moved from very near us till now it is 2 Leagues off, Tupia tells us that it will in this manner move gradualy round the Island. Our Freinds receivd us as usual with all manner of civility, dancing and giving us after the amusement a very good dinner as well as offering us a quantity of their Cloth by way of present, which we should have accepted had we not been full stockd with it before. We now understood a little more of the interludes than we had formerly done. I shall describe one as well as I can. The men dancers were divided into two parties differing in the colour of their clothes, one brown the other white. The cheif of the brown ones gave a basket of meat to the rest his servants that they might take care of it; the white represented theives who atempted to steal it several times, dancing all the time. Several different expedients they make use of without success till at last they found the watchmen asleep; they then gently went up to them and lifting them off from the basket, which for security sake they had placd in the middle of them, they went off with their prize. The others woke and danced but seem'd to shew little regret for their loss or indeed hardly to miss the basket at all.

1769 August 9.

This morn spent in trading with the Canoes for whatever they would bring, resolving to sail as soon as they left off to bring provision, which about noon they did and we again Launchd out into the Ocean in search of what chance and Tupia might direct us to.

1769 August 10.

Myself sick all day.

1769 August 11.

Tupia talks of an Island which he calls Mannúa, he says that we shall see it tomorrow morning but points out its place upon our weather bow so we shall probably go to leward of it.

1769 August 12.

Get rid of sea sickness today. Tupias Island not in sight, he tells us that it is et-pa (we are past it) for the same word is usd by them for the setting of the sun and the leaving behind of an Island. He says however that tomorrow or next day we shall see another which he calls Oheter-a.

1769 August 13.

At noon today high land in sight which proved to be Tupias Island of Oheter-a. At night we were close in with it. He sayd that there were many other Islands from south to south west of us most of their names beginning with Ohete, none however were in sight.

Many Albecores have been about the ship all the evening, Tupia took one and had not his rod broke would probably have taken many. He usd an Indian fish hook made of mother of pearl so that it servd at the same time both for hook and bait.

1769 August 14.

Close under the land: a boat was sent from the ship in which Dr Solander and myself took a passage, she rowd right in for the land on which several natives appeard armd with long lances. The boat standing along shore not intending to land till she got round the next point made them (I beleive) think that we were afraid of them. The main body about 60 sat down upon the shore and sent two of their number forwards, who after walking sometime abreast of us leap'd into the water intending to swim to us but were soon left behind; two more then atempted the same thing and were in like manner left behind; a single man then ran forwards and taking good start of the boat fetchd her easily, but when he was alongside I could not persuade the officer of the boat to take him, notwisthstanding it was so fair an opportunity of making freinds with a people who certainly lookd upon us as their enemies. He was therefore left behind as was another who followd his example.

We now came round a point where all our followers left us. We had opend a large bay at the bottom of which we saw another body of men armd like the former; here we hopd to land and pushd towards the place. The natives had pushd off a canoe which came out to meet us. As soon as it aproachd us we lay upon our oars and calld to them that we were freinds and would give them nails if they would come to us; they after a very little hesitation came up to the boats stern and took the nails that were given them, seemingly with great satisfaction, but in less than a minute seemd to have formd a design of boarding our boat and taking her, in pursuance of which 3 leapd almost in an instant into our boat and the others brought up the canoe which had flown off a little intending probably to follow their countrey mens example. The first who came in the boat was close to me, he instantly snatchd my powder horn out of my pocket which I immediately laid hold of and wrenchd out of his hand, not without some dificulty; I then laid my hand on his breast and attempted to shove him overboard but he was two strong for me and kept his place. The officer orderd a musquet to be fir'd over their heads his own having mis'd fire, two were immediately fird and they all instantly leapd into the water; one of our people however inconsiderately leveld a 3d at one of them who was swimming and the ball gras'd his forehead but I beleive did him no material harm, as he recoverd his boat and stood up in her as active as ever. The canoe now stood for the shore where were a large number of people collected I beleive 200; our boat also pulld in but found the land guarded all round with a shoal upon which the sea broke much, so was obligd to go along shore in hopes of finding a more convenient landing place. We saw the canoe go ashore where the people were assembled who came down to her seemingly very eager to enquire into our behavior to them; soon after a single man came along shore armd with a long lance, he came abreast of the boat and then began to dance and shake his weapon calling out in a very shrill voice, which we understood from Tupia was a defiance sent from the people. We rowd along shore and he attended us sometime, we found it however impracticable to land and as for the gen lemans tricks we gave ourselves very little concern about them: we therefore resolvd to return to the bay and try if it would be practicable to land where the Canoe did, hoping that if we should not the people would at least come and make peace either on the shoal or in their Canoes of which we saw only two in the Island, which was one more than Tupia allowd them who said they had but one.

As we rowd gently along shore our defying champion was joind by another likewise armd with a lance and dressd with a large cap of the tail feathers of tropick birds and his body coverd, as indeed many of them were, with stripes of different coulourd cloths, yellow red and brown; he (who we now calld Harlequin) danc'd as the other had done only with much more nimbleness and dexterity. These two were soon after Joind by an older looking man likewise armd who came gravely down to the beach and hailing us askd from whence we came, Tupia answerd him from Otahite. The three then went peaceably along shore till the boat came to a shoal upon which a few people were collected; they talkd together and soon after began to p-orah or pray very loud to which Tupia made his responses but continued to tell us that they were not our freinds. We after this enterd into a parley with them, telling them that if they would lay by their arms which were lances and clubbs we would come ashore and truck with them for whatever they would bring; they agreed but upon condition that we should lay down our musquets, an article which we did not think fit to comply with, so our negotiation dropt for the present at least. After a little time however they took courage and came nearer to the boat, near enough to begin to trade which they did very fairly for a smal quantity of cloth and some of their weapons, but as they gave us no hopes of provisions or indeed any thing else unless we would venture through a narrow channel to the shore we put off the boat and left them.

In this expedition we labourd under many disadvantages: we left the ship in a hurry taking with us no kind of arms but our musquets, which without bayonets would have made but a poor resistance against these peoples weapons all meant to fight hand to hand; but what was worst of all was the dificulty of landing which we could not do without wetting ourselves and arms unless we had venturd through the passage I have spoke of, which was so small that tho the weather was perfectly fine the sea often broke right across it, so that had we gone in and the least surf rose we could never have got out again but must have remaind the night in shoal water, liab[l]e to any stratagems that our enemies might devise, ill furnishd as we were to oppose their boarding us by swimming to which we were always liable.

The Island to all apearance that we saw was more barren than any thing we have seen in these seas, the cheif produce seeming to be Et-a (the wood of which make their weapons); indeed every where along shore where we saw plantations they were coverd by trees of this kind planted between them and the sea. It is without a reef and the ground in the bay we were in so foul and corally that tho a ship might come almost close to the shore she could not possibly anchor. The water was clearer than I ever saw it, I saw distinctly the ground at 25 fathoms depth.

The people seemd strong lusty and well made but were rather browner than those we have left behind; they were not tattowd on their backsides, but instead of that had black marks about as broad as my hand under their armpits the sides of which were deeply indented, they had also circles of smaller ones round their arms and legs. Their dress was indeed most singular as well as the cloth with which they were dressd which I shall first describe. It was made of the same materials as the inhabitants of the other Islands make use of and generaly died of a very bright and deep yellow. Upon this was on some sorts spread a composition which coverd it like oil colour or varnish, it was either red or of a dark lead colour; upon this again was painted stripes in many different patterns with infinite regularity much in the same way as some lute string silks in England are wove, all the streight lines upon them drawn with such accuracy that we were almost in doubt whether or not they were stampd on with some kind of press. The red cloth was painted in this manner with black, the lead coulord with white. Of this cloth, generaly the lead coulourd, they had on a short jacket that reachd about their Knees made of one peice with a hole through which they put their heads, the sides of which hole was contrary to any thing I have seen before stichd with long stitches. This was confind to their bodies by a peice of Yellow cloth which pass'd behind their necks and came across their breasts in two broad stripes crossing each other, it was then collected round their waists in the form of a belt, under which was another of the red cloth so that the whole made a very gay and warlike apearance. Some had on their heads caps as before describd made of the tails of tropick birds, but they did not become them so well as a peice of white or lead colourd cloth which the most of them had wound on like a small turban.

Their arms consisted of long lances made of the etoa or hard wood well polishd and sharpnd at one end; of these there were some near 20 feet long and scarce so thick as three fingers; they had also clubs or pikes of the same wood about 7 feet long, well polishd and sharpned at one end into a broad point. How expert they may be in the use of these weapons we cannot tell but the weapons themselves seem more intended for shew than use, as the lance was not pointed with the stings of Sting rays, and the clubs or pikes which must do more execution by their weight than their sharpness were not more than half so heavy as the smallest I have seen in the other Islands. Defensive weapons I saw none, they however guarded themselves against such weapons as their own by matts folded and laid upon their breasts and bellys under their other cloths.

Of the few things we saw among these people every one was ornamented infinitely superior to any thing we had before seen: their cloth was better coulourd as well as nicely painted, their clubs were better cut out and polishd, the Canoe which we saw tho a very small and very narrow one was nevertheless carvd and ornamented very highly. One thing particularly in her seemd to be calculated rather for the ornaments of a thing that was never intended to go into the water than a boat, which was two lines of small white feathers that were placd on the outside of the canoe which were when we saw them totaly wet with the water.

After leaving these unhospitable people we Stood to the Southward as usual and had in the evening a great dew which wetted every thing.See Manners and Customs of S Sea Islands, below

1769 August 15.

Crossd the tropick this morn, wind North and weather very pleasant; at night wind rather variable.

1769 August 16.

Soon after we rose this morn we were told that land was in sight; it provd to be a cloud but at first sight was so like land that it deceivd every man in the ship, even Tupia gave it a name. The ship bore down towards it but in about 3 hours all hands were convincd that it was but a cloud.

1769 August 17.

A heavy swell from the SW all day so we are not yet under the Lee of the continent: in the Even no wind. Our Taros (roots of the Yam kind calld in the W. Indies Cocos) faild us today, many of them were rotten; they would probably have kept longer had we had either time or opportunity of drying them well, but I beleive that at the best they are very much inferior to either Yamms or potatoes for keeping.

1769 August 18.

SE swell continues today with little wind at N.

1769 August 19.

Weather and swell much as yesterday; some of our people tell me that they have seen Albatrosses both yesterday and the day before.

1769 August 20.

A Large Albatross about the ship most of the day. Little wind, the swell less than yesterday but still troublesome, at night a heavy Dew.

1769 August 21.

A fine breeze at NW. Some Pintado birds (Proc. capensis) about the ship. This day our Plantains faild us, they were all eat, not one ever was rotten. Indeed since we left Ulhietea the Hogs have almost intirely subsisted upon them, of which we have no small number who I fear will feel the loss of them most sensibly as not one I beleive has yet eat the smallest proportion of English food.

1769 August 22.

Fresh breeze of wind but little sea. Several Albatrosses and Pintado birds about the ship today.

1769 August 23.

Light breeze. Our hogs and fowls begin to die apace, of the latter a great many, want of proper food and cold which now begins to pinch even us is I suppose the cause. Afternoon calm, many Albatrosses and Pintado birds about the ship.

1769 August 24.

The morning was calm. About 9 it began to flow fresh with rain which came on without the least warning, at the same time a water spout was seen to leward; it appeard to me so inconsiderable that had I not been shewd it I should not have particularly notic'd the apearance; it resembled a line of thick mist, as thick as a midling tree, which reachd not in a strait line almost to the waters edge and in a few minutes totaly disapeard; its distance I suppose made it appear so trifling, as the Seamen judg'd it not less than 2 or 3 miles from us. Many Birds about the ship, Pintado, Common and Southern Albatross.

1769 August 25.

Less wind today but the swell occasiond by yesterdays wind still troublesome. Birds today about the ship Pintado, Common and Southern Albatross and a shearwater in size and shape like the common, but grey or whitish on the head and back. It was this day a twelvemonth since we left England, in consequence of which a peice of cheshire cheese was taken from a locker where it had been reservd for this occasion and a cask of Porter tappd which provd excellently good, so that we livd like English men and drank the hea[l]ths of our freinds in England.

1769 August 26.

Few birds today cheifly Albatrosses, few pintados. In the evening several grampuses about the ship.

1769 August 27.

Pleasant breeze: birds today as plentifull as ever, Albatrosses of both kinds, Pintados and grey shearwaters.

1769 August 28.

Birds as yesterday with the addition of a kind of shearwater, quite black, the same as was seen and shot on the 21st of March last in our passage to the westward (p. atrata). Tupia not well today, he complains of a pain in his stomach; his distemper probably proceeds from cold of which we have for some days past had more than from our latitude we shoud have expected. One of the seamen Rayden by name was this morn found so drunk that he had scarce any signs of life and in about an hour he expird. Where he could have got his liquor is a mystery which however nobody seems to enquire into, probably not fairly. I have more than once had occasion to congratulate myself on my prudence in not taking wine on board at Madera, as I beleive I may safely say that there is not a cask on board the ship that has not been tap'd to the great dissatisfaction of the owners, who in general have had the comfort to find the gentlemen honest enough not to have filld up with salt water; in some cases however this was not a Consideration of much comfort as many of the casks were 2/3 empty and some quite.

1769 August 29.

Very moderate and pleasant, scarce any motion; few or no birds about the ship. In the course of last night a phenomenon was seen in the heavens which Mr Green says is either a comet or a Nebulus he does not know which, the Seamen have observd it these 3 nights.

1769 August 30.

Our Comet is this morn acknowledged and proves a very large one but very faint. Tupia as soon as he saw it declard that the people of Bola bola would upon the sight of it kill the people of Ulhietea who would as many as could fly into the mountains. More sea today than yesterday heaving in from WSW. Several birds, Pintados, Albatross's of both kinds, the little silver backd bird which we saw off Faukland Isles and Cape Horn, Pr. velox and grey shearwater. Peter saw a green bird about the size of a dove, the colour makes us hope that it is a land bird, it took however not the least notice of the ship. Some sea weed was also seen to pass by the ship but as it was a very small peice our hopes are not very sanguine on that head. The thermometer today 52 which pinches us much who are so lately come from a countrey where it was seldom less than 80. A swell from SW.

1769 August 31.

Blows fresh this morn with a good deal of sea; about 7 in the morn a heap of sea weed passd the ship. An immense quantity of birds are about her today: Albatrosses of both kinds which are easily distinguishd one from the other by their beaks, which in one is white in the other black; also large black shearwaters and a smaller sort with grey backs, Pintados; but above all many millions I may safely say of the small bird mentiond yesterday about as large as a dove, greyish on the back, some with a dark colourd mark going in a crooked direction on that and its wings. I try'd today to catch some of these numerous attendants with a hook but after the whole morning spent in the atempt caught only one Pintado which provd to be Procellaria capensis of Linnaeus.

previous
next