History
Polynesian Resource Center

Dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Polynesian Art and Culture

Journal of Joseph Banks, HMS Endeavour October 6th – October 10th 1769

Polynesian Resource Center
Sir Joseph Banks by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1771-1773

Joseph Banks was one of a pair of men made famous by HM Bark Endeavour 's voyage to the Pacific in 1769. That voyage which deserves the description of the first true scientific expedition in World History was unlike any circumnavigation before or since and was conducted with combination of maritime expertise and scientific enthusiasm for which Banks supplied the enthusiasm. That Banks ruined his chance for greater glory under the influence of the fame this voyage gained him is regrettable but his personality was such that he not only retained his friends and garnered fame at home and is why he deserves to be both respected and admired. He was of course a young man at the start of this voyage which Cook was not, so the fact that fame turned his head should be ascribed to youth not to personality. His real temperament was warm and kind hearted which this extract from his Endeavour journal shows. He was a good example of educated 18th Century Humanism which compares starkly to the uneducated, narrow if not positively evil missionaries who followed him into the Pacific forty years later.

1769 July 13. Depart Otahite

After a three month journey from Tahiti of which the last week the Enveavour passed through seaweed, seals and other sign that land was near:

1769 October 6.
This morn a Port Egmont hen and a seal were seen pretty early. At ½ past one a small boy who was at the mast head Calld out Land. I was luckyly upon deck and well I was entertaind, within a few minutes the cry circulated and up came all hands, this land could not then be seen even from the tops yet few were there who did not plainly see it from the deck till it appeard that they had lookd at least 5 points wrong. Weather most moderate. We came up with it very slowly; at sun set myself was at the masthead, land appeard much like an Island or Islands but seemd to be large. Just before a small shark was seen who had a very piked nose something like our dog fish in England.

1769 October 7.
This morn the Land plainly seen from the deck appears to be very large; about 11 a large smoak was seen and soon after several more, sure sign of inhabitants. After dinner dropd calm: myself in little boat shot Nectris munda and Procellaria velox, took with the dipping net Dagysa gemma and a good deal of Fucus, sertularia etc., the examination of which is postpond till we shall have more time than we are likely to have at present. In the Evening a pleasant breeze. At sunset all hands at the mast head; Land still distant 7 or 8 leagues, appears larger than ever, in many parts 3, 4 and 5 ranges of hills are seen one over the other and a chain of Mountains over all, some of which appear enormously high. Much difference of opinion and many conjectures about Islands, rivers, inlets etc., but all hands seem to agree that this is certainly the Continent we are in search of.

1769 October 8. Arrived New Zealand
This morn the land very near us makes in many white cliffs like chalk; the hills are in general clothd with trees, in the valleys some appear to be very large; the whole of the appearance not so fruitfull as we could wish. Stood in for a large bay in hopes of finding a harbour; before we are well within the heads saw several Canoes standing across the bay, who after a little time returnd to the place they came from not appearing to take the least notice of us. Some houses were also seen which appeard low but neat, near one a good many people were collected who sat down on the beach seemingly observing us, possibly the same as we saw in the canoes as they landed somewhere near that place. On a small peninsula at the NE head we could plainly see a regular paling, pretty high, inclosing the top of a hill, for what purpose many conjectures were made: most are of opinion or say at least that it must or shall be either [a] park of Deer or a feild of oxen and sheep. By 4 oclock came to an anchor near 2 miles from the shore. The bay appears to be quite open without the least shelter: the two sides of it make in high white Cliffs, the middle is low land with hills gradualy rising behind one another to the chain of high mountains inland. Here we saw many great smoaks, some near the beach others between the hills, some very far within land, which we lookd upon as great indications of a populous countrey.

In the evening went ashore with the marines etc. March from the boats in hopes of finding water etc. Saw a few of the natives who ran away immediately on seeing us; while we were absent 4 of them attackd our small boat in which were only 4 boys, they got off from the shore in a river, the people followd them and threatned with long lances; the pinnace soon came to their assistance, fird upon them and killd the cheif. The other three draggd the body about 100 yards and left it. At the report of the musquets we drew together and went to the place where the body was left; he was shot through the heart. He was a middle sizd man tattowd in the face on one cheek only in spiral lines very regularly formd; he was coverd with a fine cloth of a manufacture totaly new to us, it was tied on exactly as represented in Mr Dalrymples book p.63; his hair was also tied in a knot on the top of his head but no feather stuck in it; his complexion brown but not very dark.

Soon after we came on board we heard the people ashore very distinctly talking very loud no doubt, as they were not less than two miles distant from us, consulting probably what is to be done tomorrow.

1769 October 9.
We could see with our glasses but few people on the beach; they walkd with a quick pace towards the river where we landed yesterday, most of these without arms, 3 or 4 with long Pikes in their hands. The captn orderd three boats to be mannd with seamen and marines intending to land and try to establish a communication with them. A high surf ran on the shore. The Indians about 50 remaind on the farther side of the river; we lookd upon that as a sign of fear, so landing with the little boat only the Captn Dr Solander, Tupia and myself went to the river side to speak to them. As soon almost as we appeard they rose up and every man producd either a long pike or a small weapon of well polishd stone about a foot long and thick enough to weigh 4 or 5 pounds, with these they threatned us and signd to us to depart. A musquet was then fird wide of them the ball of which struck the water, they saw the effect and immediately ceasd their threats. We though[t] that it was prudent to retreat till the marines were landed and drawn up to intimidate them and support us in case of nesscessity. They landed and marchd with a Jack carried before them to a little bank about 50 yards from the river, which might be about 40 broad; here they were drawn up in order and we again advancd to the river side with Tupia, who now found that the language of the people was so like his own that he could tolerably well understand them and they him. He immediately began to tell them that we wanted provisions and water for which we would give them Iron in exchange: they agreed to the proposal but would by no means lay by their arms which he desird them do: this he lookd upon as a sign of treachery and continualy told us to be upon our guard for they were not our freinds. Many words passd the cheif purport of which was that each side desird the other to come over to them; at last however an Indian stripd himself and swam over without arms, he was followd by two more and soon after by most of the rest who brought with them their arms. We gave them Iron and beads, they seemd to set little value upon either but especialy upon the iron the use of which they certainly were totaly ignorant of. They caught at whatever was offerd them but would part with nothing but a few feathers: their arms indeed they offerd to exchange for ours which they made several atempts to snatch from us; we were upon our guard so much that their attempts faild and they were made to understand that we must kill them if they snatchd any thing from us. After some time Mr Green in turning himself about exposd his hanger, one of them immediately snatchd it, set up a cry of exultation and waving it round his head retreated gently. It now appeard nescessary for our safeties that so daring an act should be instantly punishd, this I pronouncd aloud as my opinion, the Captn and the rest Joind me on which I fird my musquet which was loaded with small shot, leveling it between his shoulders who was not 15 yards from me. On the shot striking him he ceasd his cry but instead of quitting his prize continued to wave it over his head retreating as gently as before; the surgeon who was nearer him, seeing this fird a ball at him at which he dropd. Two more who were near him returnd instantly, one seizd his weapon of Green talk, the other attempted to recover the hanger which the surgeon had scarce time to prevent. The main body of them were now upon a rock a little way in the river. They took the water returning towards us, on which the other three, for we were only 5 in number, fird on them. They then retird and swam again across the river. On their landing we saw that 3 were wounded, one seemingly a good deal hurt: we may hope however that neither of them were killd as one of the musquets only was loaded with ball, which I think I saw strike the water without taking effect, and Tupias gun which was the last that was fird I clearly saw strike two men low down upon their legs, who probably would be so lame as to walk with difficulty when they landed.

The Indians retird gently carrying with them their wounded and we reembarkd in our boats intending to row round the bay, see if there might be any shelter for the ship on the other side, and attempt to land there where the countrey appeard to be much more fruitfull than where we now were. The bottom of the bay provd to be a low sandy beach on which the sea broke most prodigiously so that we could not come near it; within was flat, a long way inland over this water might be seen from the mast head probably a lagoon but in the boat we could see no entrance into it. We had almost arrivd at the farthest part of the bay when a fresh breze came in from the seaward and we saw a Canoe sailing in standing right towards [us], soon after another padling. The Captn now resolvd to take one of these which in all probability might be done without the least resistance as we had three boats full of men and the canoes seemd to be fishermen, who probably were without arms. The boats were drawn up in such a manner that they could not well escape us: the padling canoe first saw us and made immediately for the nearest land, the other saild on till she was in the midst of us before she saw us, as soon as she did she struck her sail and began to paddle so briskly that she outran our boat; on a musquet being fird over her she however immediately ceasd padling and the people in her, 7 in all, made all possible haste to strip as we thought to leap into the water, but no sooner did our boat come up with her than they began with stones, paddles etc. to make so brisk a resistance that we were obligd to fire into her by which 4 were killd. The other three who were boys leapd overboard, one of them swam with great agility and when taken made every effort in his power to prevent being taken into the boat, the other two were more easily prevaild upon. As soon as they were in they squatted down expecting no doubt instant death, but on finding themselves well usd and that Cloaths were given them they recoverd their spirits in a very short time and before we got to the ship appeard almost totaly insensible of the loss of their fellows. As soon as they came onboard we offerd them bread to eat of which they almost devourd a large quantity, in the mean time they had Cloaths given them; this good usage had such an effect that they seemd to have intirely forgot every thing that had happned, put on chearfull and lively countenances and askd and answerd questions with a great deal of curiosity. Our dinner came, they expressd a curiosity to taste whatever they saw us eat, and did; salt pork seemd to please them better than any thing else, of this they eat a good deal. At sunset they eat again an enormous quantity of Bread and drank above a quart of water each; we then made them beds upon the lockers and they laid down to sleep with all seeming content imaginable. After dark loud voices were heard ashore as last night. Thus ended the most disagreable day My life has yet seen, black be the mark for it and heaven send that such may never return to embitter future reflection. I forgot to mention in its proper place that we pickd up a large pumice stone floating in the bay in returning to the ship today, a sure sign that there either is or has been a Volcano in this neighbourhood.

1769 October 10.
In the middle of last night one of our boys seemd to shew more reflection than he had before done sighing often and loud; Tupia who was always upon the watch to comfort them got up and soon made them easy. They then sung a song of their own, it was not without some taste, like a Psalm tune and containd many notes and semitones; they sung it in parts which gives us no indifferent Idea of their taste as well as skill in musick. The oldest of them is about 18, the middlemos[t] 15, the youngest 10; the midlemost especialy has a most open countenance and agreable manner; their names are Taáhourange, Koikerange, and Maragooete, the two first brothers. In the morning they were all very chearfull and eat an enormous quantity, after that they were dressd and ornamented with bracelets, ancklets and necklaces after their own fashion. The boats were then hoisted out and we all got into them: the boys express'd much joy at this till they saw that we were going to land at our old Landing place near the river, they beggd very much that they might not be set ashore at that place where they said were Enemies of theirs who would kill and eat them. The Captn resolvd to go ashore at that place and if the boys did not chuse to go from us, in the evening to send a boat with them to the part of the bay to which they pointed and calld their home. Accordingly we went ashore and crossd the river. The boys at first would not leave us. No method was usd to persuade them; it was even resolvd to return and carry them home when on a sudden they seemd to resolve to go and with tears in their eyes took leave. We then went along a swamp intending to shoot some ducks of which there was great plenty; the countrey was quite flat; the Sergeant and 4 marines attended us walking upon a bank abreast of us which overlookd the countrey. We proceeded about a mile when they Calld out that a large body of Indians was marching towards us, we drew together and resolvd to retreat; before we had put this in execution the 3 boys rose out of a bush in which they were hid and put themselves again under our protection. We went upon the beach as the clearest place and walkd briskly towards the boats. The Indians were in two parties, one marchd along the bank before spoke of, the other came round by the morass where we could not see them; on seing us draw together they ceasd to run as they had done and walkd but gently on, a circumstance most fortunate for us, for when we came to our boats the pinnace was a mile at least from her station, (sent their by the officer ashore to pick up a bird he had shot); the small boat only remaind, which was carried over the river, and without the midshipman who was left to attend her: the consequence of this was that we were obligd to make 3 trips before we were all over to the rest of the party. As soon as we were well drawn up on the other side the Indians came down, not in a body as we expected, but 2 and 3 at a time, all armd and soon increasd to a considerable number; we now despaird of making peace with men who were not to be frightned with our small arms. As the ship lay so far from the shore that [she] could not throw a shot there, we resolvd to reembark as our stay would most likley be the cause of killing still more people: we were begining to go towards the boats when on a sudden one of the boys calld out that the people there were their freinds and desird us to stay and talk with them, we did and much conversation past but neither would the boys swim over to them nor they to the boys. The bodys both of the man who was killd yesterday, and he who was killd the day before, were left upon the beach. The first lay very near us, to it the boys went and coverd it with part of the cloths we had given them; soon after a single man unarmd swam over to us (the uncle of Maracouete, the younger boy), he brought in his hand a green bough, probably emblem of peace; we made him many presents after having receivd his bough which he presented to Tupia our interpr[e]ter. We askd him to go onboard of the ship but he refusd so we left him, but all the 3 boys chose rather to return with us than stay with him.

As soon as we had retird and left him to himself he went and gatherd a green bough; with this in his hand he aproachd the body with great ceremony, walking sideways, he then threw the bough towards it and returnd to his companions who immediately sat down round him and remaind above an hour, hearing probably what he said without taking the least notice of us, who soon returnd to the ship. From thence we could see with our glasses 3 men cross the river in a kind of Catamaran and take away the body which was carried off upon a pole by 4 men.

After dinner the Captn desird Tupia to ask the boys if they had now any objection to going ashore at the same place, as taking away the body was probably a ratification of our peace. They said they had not and went most nimbly into the boat in which two midshipmen were sent; they went ashore willingly but soon returnd to the rocks, wading into the water and begging hard to be taken in again; the orders were positive to leave them so they were left. We observd from the ship a man in a catamaran go over the river and fetch them to a place where 40 or 50 were assembled: they sat till near sunset without stirring. They rose then and the 3 boys appeard who had till now been conceald by being surrounded with people, they left the party came down upon the beach and 3 times wavd their hands towards the ship, then nimbly ran and joind the party who walkd leisurely away towards the place where the boys live. We therefore hope that no harm will happen to them especialy as they had still the cloaths which we gave them on. After sunset loud voices were heard as usual in the bottom of the bay.

This disastrous encounter with multiple deaths and injuries was sadly typical of almost all first encounters in the Pacific, in fact this 9th of October fiasco shows how even under the best circumstances such events had a sort of tragic inevitability. Cook was under strict instructions not to resort to violence unless attacked, he had an competent interpreter and he himself was at least at this stage a very humane man, and yet Bank's words carry to us across two and a half centuries; 'Thus ended the most disagreeable day My life has yet seen, black be the mark for it and heaven send that such may never return to embitter future reflection.' Much worse was to come.

Sales Enquires This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Academic, Insitutional and Artist Enquires This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Unfortunately due to being a small institution without paid staff we have no facility to answer general inquiries or comments.