The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volume One]
1. New years day today made us pass many Compts and talk much of our hopes for success in the year 69. Many whales were about the ship today and much sea weed in large lumps but none near enough to be caught.
In the Evening rather squally; the true sea green colour upon the surface of the water was often to be seen now between the squalls, or rather under the black clouds when they were about half a mile from the ship. I had often heard of it before but never seen it in any such perfection, indeed most of the seamen said the same, it was very bright and perfectly like the stone calld aquamarine.
2. Fresh breezes today. In the Evening, Lat. about 45:30, met with some small shoals of the red lobsters which have been seen by almost every one who has pass'd these seas. They were however so far from couloring the sea red as Dampier and Cowley say that I may affirm that we never saw more than a few hundreds of them at a time, we took however several in the Casting and hoave netts and describd them by the name of Cancer Gregarius.3
3 They were Lobster Krill, Munida gregaria (Fabr.). Parkinson has a drawing, III, pl. 9. There is some conflict of testimony as to how many were seen. Wilkinson the master's mate says ‘a great Quantity’. Bootie the midshipman, perhaps talking in the tradition, says ‘a great Quantity of red shrimps insomuch that you could not tell the Colour of the water they was so thick’. Hicks refers to shoals. Cook merely says ‘saw some Whales and Porposes, and small red Crawfish some of which we caught’. Dampler's reference is in his New Voyage round the World (Voyages, ed. Masefield, I, p. 109): ‘great shoals of small Lobsters, which coloured the Sea red in spots, for a mile in compass….’ Captain Ambrose Cowley, the buccaneer and colleague of Dampier, in the abstract of his journal printed by Captain William Hacke, A Collection of Original Voyages (1699), p. 5, writes, ‘steer'd away [from the coast of Brazil] S.W. finding the Sea as red as Blood about the lat. of 40 deg. South, which was occasioned by great Shoals of Shrimps, which lay upon the water in great patches for many Leagues together’. See pl. 1a.
3. Lat: 47:17, all hands looking out for Pepys's Island;1 about observing time2 an appearance was seen to the westward so like an Island that we bear away after it almost assurd that it is Land as the midshipman at the mast head declard; for half an hour, which time he had steadily lookd at it, it did not alter its appearance at all, however about 4 we were convincd that we were in chace of Cape fly away as the seamen call it, no signs of Island or anything else appearing where it ought to have been.
This Evening many large bunches of sea weed came by the ship; we caught some of it with hooks, it was of an immense size every leaf 4 feet long and the stalk about twelve, the footstalk of each leaf was swelld into a long air vessel. Mr Gore tells me that he has seen this weed grow quite to the top of the water in 12 fathom, if so the swelld footstalks are probably the trumpet grass or weed of the Cape of Good Hope; we describd it however as it appeard and calld it Focus Giganteus.3 Here were also this Evening large quantities of a small bird somewhat like Mother Careys chickens but rather larger and grey on the back,4 and plenty of Albatrosses indeed we have seen more or less of them every day for some time.
4. Blew fresh today and night: the officer of the watch told me that in the night the sea was very much illuminated in patches of many Yards wide which appeard of a pale light colour.
1 Pepys Island was the name given by Captain William Hacke, the editor of Cowley's journal, to land sighted by Cowley in January 1684. Hacke placed it on his chart too far north. Both Cowley and Dampier agreed that what had been sighted was one of the Falkland Islands, but the separate identity bestowed by Hacke held the field—or the chart—for many years. One of the objects of Byron's voyage in 1764 was specifically to verify and identify Pepys Island. For further discussion, see General Introduction to Cook I, pp. lxxi, ltxxxvi.
2 i.e. noon, the time for determining by observation the position of the ship.
3 Macrocystis pyrifera (L.) Ag. <JDH> or less likely, Lessonia flavicans Bory.
4 Probably some kind of prion, Pachyptila sp.
6. Blew fresh foul wind, forcd to throw away the insects taken last night from the ship having so much motion. The Southeast wind now became very cold, to us at least so lately come from the Torrid Zone. Therm at noon 48. All hands bend their Magellan Jackets (made of a thick woolen stuff allowd them by the goverment calld fearnought) and myself put on flannel Jacket and waistcoat and thick trousers. In the Evening blew strong, at night a hard gale, ship brought too under a mainsail; during the course of this my Bureau was overset and most of the books were about the Cabbin floor, so that with the noise of the ship working, the books &c. running about, and the strokes our cotts or swinging beds gave against the top and sides of the Cabbin we spent a very disagreable night. We this morn expected to have made Falklands Islands where we intended to put in for a small time,2 so the missing of them which we much fear was a great disapointment to me, as I fear I shall not now have a single oppertunity of observing the produce of this part of the world.
1 Banks's description could apply to Noctiluca, one of the largest of the Protozoa, which occurs at times in countless numbers and is the cause of many of the startling displays of phosphorescence familiar to voyagers. Nereides: polychaete worms.
2 Cook does not mention this intention, and he passed well to the west of the Falklands. His instructions had left him free to call at Port Egmont, the English settlement in these islands, or somewhere on the coast of Brazil, or at both places, for refreshment, but, as he records, he had chosen Rio de Janeiro because of the certainty of finding supplies there, and had abandoned thoughts of Port Egmont. If he had wished to call at the Falklands he would have had no difficulty in finding them. We shall more than once see evidence of a conflict in purpose between Cook, who naturally put first his instructions as commander of a voyage with a specific scientific purpose, and afterwards of geographical discovery, and Banks, who would have liked to get off the ship everywhere in pursuit of objects of natural history.
3 A synonym for the Razorbill, Alca torda.
4 A number of penguins have ‘streaks upon their faces’. The most likely candidate in these seas would be Spheniscus magellanicus, with the broad white semicircular stripe upon the side of its head and its bray like that of a ‘ackass; but identification cannot safely be made.
About noon weather much more moderate; set the lower sails; before night sea quite down tho the wind still stood at south east. The sea rises and falls quicker in these latitudes than it does about England, which we have observd Ever since we came into variable winds way to the South of the tropicks. During this whole gale we observed vast plenty of birds about us, Procellarias of all the kinds we have before mentiond, the grey ones of the 3d of this month and a kind? all black, procell. aquinoctialis? Linn.2 but could not discern whether or not their beaks were yellow, and plenty of Albatrosses; indeed I have generaly observd a much greater quantity of birds upon wing in gales of wind than in moderate weather, owing perhaps to the tossing of the waves which must render swimming very uneasy; in this situation they must be oftener seen than when they set on the water.
The ship during this gale has shewn her excellence in laying too remarkably well, shipping scarce any water tho it blew at times vastly strong; the seamen in general say that they never knew a ship lay too so well as this does, so lively and at the same time so easy.
8. Smooth water and fair wind: many Seals and Penguins about the ship, the latter leaping out of the water and diving instantly so that a person unusd to them might easily be deceivd and take them for fish; plenty also of Albatrosses and whales blowing very near the ship. We were now too sure that we had missd Fauklands Islands and probably were to the Westward of them.
The ship has been observd to go much better since her shaking in the last gale of wind, the seamen say that it is a general observation that ships go better for being what they call Loosnen in their Joints, so much so that in chase it is often customary to knock down Stantions &c. and make the ship as loose as possible.
9. Clouds to the westward appear so like land this morn that even our first Lieutenant who prided himself on His judgement in this particular was deceivd. Wind vereable and calmer, many seals and some Albatrosses but none of those whitish birds which we saw in the gale of wind.
1 They were probably the Southern Fur Seal, Arctocephalus australis (Zimmermann).
2 Procellaria aequinoctialis was the Cape Hen. See 26 December 1768. These might equally well have been Sooty Shearwaters, Puffinus griseus (Gm.).
11. This morn at day break saw the land of Terra del Fuego, by 8 O'Clock we were well in with it, the weather exceedingly moderate. Its appearance was not near so barren as the writer of Ld Ansons voyage has represented it, the weather exceedingly moderate so we stood along shore about 2 Leagues off, we could see trees distinctly through our glasses and observe several smokes made probably by the natives as a signal to us. The captain now resolved to put in here if he can find a conv[en]ient harbour and give us an opportunity of searching a countrey so intirely new.
The hills within land seemd to be high and on them were many patches of snow, but the sea coast appeard fertile especialy the trees of a bright verdure, except in places exposd to SW wind which were distinguishable by their brown appearance; the shore itself sometimes beach and sometimes rock. At 4 in the evening wind came on shore so stood off.
1 Diving Petrels, which have a rapid flight. Two species occur here, Pelecanoides magellani (Matthew) and P. urinatrix (Gm.).
2 Probably Commerson's Dolphin, Cephalorhynchus commersoni (Lacépède). It has the alternative common names of Piebald Porpoise and Le Jacobite, which last was Commerson's own name for it.
3 Beroe incrassata: Parkinson's plate, III, 59, of this date, bears this name and appears to represent Beroe ovata Chamisso and Eysenhardt. Solander, p. 437, noted its occurrence in October 1769, when they were approaching New Zealand from the east.
4 Possibly an Aglaura sp. See Parkinson III, pl. 51; Solander, p. 463.
5 Medusa plicata: the animal with this name in Parkinson III, pl. 47, is too worn to be identifiable, and Solander's description, p. 453, is of the same specimen.
6 Medusa obliquata: unidentifiable; Parkinson III, p. 52, Solander, p. 465.
7 Alcyonium: neither of the species mentioned can be identified either from the drawing by Parkinson, III, pl. 74, of A. anguillare, or from the descriptions by Solander, pp. 477, 479. George Shelvocke (fl. 1690–1728), a privateer, commanded a fraudulent and semi-piratical but exciting voyage from England to Formosa, and wrote a not very honest book about it, A Voyage round the World, by the Way of the Great South Sea, performed in the years 1719, 20, 21, 22. … (London 1726). The book enjoyed some fame, and not only Banks, but Coleridge, found it useful: Shelvocke's account of the killing of an albatross provided the seed of the Ancient Mariner. The thing that he mentions on page 60, he mentions thus: sailing south beyond the River Plate, 'we had on the surface of the water abundance of things appearing like white snakes. We took some of them up, but cou'd not perceive there was any life in them, nor were they form'd into any shape resembling any kind of animal, they being only a long cylinder of a white sort of a jelly, and may probably be the spawn of some of the larger sort of fish’.
When we were nearest in we could plainly discover with our glasses spots in which the colour of white and yellow were predominant which we judg'd to be flowers, the white were in large clusters almost every where, the yellow in small spots or patches on the side of a hill coverd with a beautifull verdure;2 the trees could now be distinguishd very plainly and seemd to be 30 or 40 feet high with flat bushy tops, their trunks in many places were bare and resembled rocks a good deal till the glasse; cleard up the deception.
Among the things taken today observd ulva intestinalis3 and corrallina officin[alis].4 The wind very vereable all day, at nine this even the Three Brothers and Sugar Loaf5 were in sight and we stood gently along shore in hopes to be at the streights mouth by the Morning.
About 6 this even the gentlemen upon deck observd the Sugar Loaf coverd with a cloud for a short time which left it intirely white, they judgd it to have been a fall of snow upon the hill but as I did not myself see it I cannot give my opinion.
1 The ship was near the entrance to the Strait of le Maire, through which Cook intended to pass.
2 ‘The trees all belong to one kind, the Fagus betuloides; for the number of the other species of Fagus and of the Winter's Bark, is quite inconsiderable. This beech keeps its leaves throughout the year; but its foliage is of a peculiar brownish-green colour, with a tinge of yellow. As the whole landscape is thus coloured, it has a sombre, dull appearance; nor is it often enlivened by the rays of the sun.’—Darwin, Naturalist's Voyage round the World (ed. 1888), p. 210. It is possible that Banks's yellow colour was thus accounted for. But see also p. 226, n. 2 below, on the fungus of Nothofagus antarctica.
3 This name may refer to Enteromorpha intestinalis (L.), ‘since it is more or less cosmopolitan in temperate and cold seas’ (W. R. Taylor).
4 Corallina officinalis (L.) may be accepted with a query. Both Corallina officinalis and C. chilensis occur in the area, and though abundantly distinct, early travellers would not distinguish between them; cf. L. Gain, La Flore algologique … Deux. Expid. Antarct. Francaise (1908–1910) commandoes par le Dr. Jean Charcot (Paris, 1912).
5 Prominent landscape features on the coast of Tierra del Fuego. The Three Brothers have still the same name—Tres Hermanos; the Sugar Loaf seems to have been the remarkable table-topped hill called Meseta de Orozco.
14. we found ourselves the third time drove out, wind SSW, Short sea and ship pitching most violently. The Captn stood into a bay just without Cape St Vincent2 and while the ship plyd off and on Dr Solander and myself went ashore in the boat and found many plants, about 100, tho we were not ashore above 4 hours; of these I may say every one was new and intirely different from what either of us had before seen. The countrey about this bay was in general flat, here is however good wood and water and vast plenty of fowl and in the cod3 of the bay a flat coverd with grass where much hay might be made. The bay itself is bad affording but little shelter for shipping and in many Parts of it the bottom rocky and foul. This however may be always known in these Countreys by the beds of Fucus Giganteus which constantly grow upon the rock and are not seen on sand or owse; they are of an immence lengh, we sounded upon them and had 14 fathom water; as they seem to make a very acute angle with the bottom in their situation on the water it is difficult to guess how long they may be, but probably they are not less than one half longer than the depth of the water, which gives their lengh to be 126 feet, a wonderfull lengh for a stalk not thicker than a mans thumb.
1 The netting stretched as a safety measure under the jib-boom, the spar run out from the bowsprit, to which the lower corner, or foot, of the jib was secured.
2 Which he called Vincent's Bay; now Thetis Bay.
3 The bottom extremity.
4 Drimys winteri Forst., named for Captain John Winter, who was with Drake in the Straits of Magellan in 1578, and there successfully used it to combat scurvy. The bark was first described by de l'Ecluse in 1582, and later by Dalechamps (1586) and Clusius (1605), etc., under the name Winteranus cortex. It was much valued as an antiscorbutic. Although extensively used in Europe for over two centuries it finds a place today only in local domestic medicine. Drimys is a primitive bihemispheric and presumably paleoantarctic genus, ‘only very remotely related to the Magnoliaceae proper’ (cf. A. C. Smith, Jour. Arnold Arbor. 26: 48–59. 1945). See Pl. 27b.
The trees here are cheifly of one sort, a Kind of Birch Betula antarctica3 with very small leaves, it is a light white wood and cleaves very straight; sometimes the trees are 2 or 3 feet in diameter and run 30 or 40 feet in the bole; possibly they might in cases of nescessity supply topmasts. Here are also great plenty of cranberries both white and red, Arbutus rigida.4 Inhabitants I saw none but found their hutts in two places, once in a thick wood and again close by the beach; they are most unartificialy made, Conical but open on one side where was marks of fire so that probably the fire servd them instead of a door.
15. Stopd tide this morn in a bay on the Terra del Fuego side of the water, probably Prince Maurice's Bay, which servd our purpose very well; at 10 tide turnd and we stood out and by dinner came to an anchor in the Bay of Good Success. Several Indians were in sight near the Shore.
1 Apium prostratum Thouin <JDH>, as validated by a specimen bearing Solander's MS name. See pl. 27a.
2 Cardamine glacialis DC. ‘Scurvy grass’ was a loose term applied to many unrelated plants sharing antiscorbutic properties: Cardamine nasturtioides, as well as C. glacialis; Oxalis enneaphylla of the Falkland Islands; Amaranthus spp. Brassica juncea, Portulaca oleracea, Sesuvium portulacastrum, collectively called ‘verdura’ by the Spanish navigators, were all used in the Pacific Islands.
3 Banks's ‘birch’, as determined by an examination of his coll., was Nothofagus antarctica (Forst.) Oerst., a southern hemisphere counterpart of the beech.
4 Pernettya mucronata Gaud. <JDH> validated by a Banks collection. Pernety's original specimen, the basis of the illustration in his account of his voyage with Bougainville, Histoire d'un Voyage aux ties Malouines fait en 1763 & 1764 (Berlin 1770), was collected in the Falklands. Skottsberg, Wilds of Patagonia (London 1911), p. 56, remarks on the use of chaura (the native name) berries as emergency rations.
They eat bread and beef which we gave them tho not heartily but carried the largest part away with them, they would not drink either wine or spirits but returnd the glass, tho not before they had put it to their mouths and tasted a drop; we conducted them through the greatest part of the ship and they lookd at every thing without any marks of extrordinary admiration, unless the noise which our conjurer did not fail to repeat at every new thing he saw might be reckond as such.
After having been aboard about 2 hours they expressd a desire of going ashore and a boat was orderd to carry them. I went with them and landed them among their countreymen, but I can not say that I observd either the one party curious to ask questions or the other to relate what they had seen or what usage they had met with, so after having stayd ashore about ½ an hour I returnd to the ship and the Indians immediately marchd off from the shore.
1 The next naturalist to come to the Bay of Good Success was Darwin, on the voyage of the Beagle, in December 1832. ‘One side of the harbour’, he writes, ‘is formed by a hill about 1500 feet high, which Captain FitzRoy has called after Sir J. Banks, in commemoration of his disastrous excursion, which proved fatal to two men of his party, and nearly so to Dr. Solander…. I was anxious to reach the summit of this mountain to collect alpine plants; for flowers of any kind in the lower parts are few in number. A ridge connected this hill with another, distant some miles, and more lofty, so that patches of snow were lying on it. As the day was not far advanced, I determined to walk there and collect plants along the road’,—Naturalist's Voyage, pp. 210–11. See also Nora Barlow (ed.), Charles Darwin's Diary of the Voyage of H. M.S. ‘Beagle’ (Cambridge, 1933), pp. 122–3.
Soon after we saw the plains we arrivd at them, but found to our great disapointment that what we took for swathe1 was no better than low bushes of birch about reaching a mans middle; these were so stubborn that they could not be bent out of the way, but at every step the leg must be lifted over them and on being plac'd again on the ground was almost sure to sink above the anckles in bog.2 No traveling could possibly be worse than this which seemd to last about a mile, beyond which we expected to meet with bare rock, for such we had seen from the tops of lower hills as we came: this I particularly was infinitely eager to arrive at expecting there to find the alpine plants of a countrey so curious. Our people tho rather fatigued were yet in good spirits so we pushd on intending to rest ourselves as soon as we should arrive at plain ground.
We proceeded two thirds of the way without the least difficulty and I confess I thought for my own part that all difficulties were surmounted when Mr Buchan fell into a fit.3 A fire was immediately lit for him and with him all those who were most tird remaind behind, while Dr Solander Mr Green Mr Monkhouse and myself advancd for the alp which we reachd almost immediately, and found according to expectation plants which answerd to those we had found before as alpine ones in Europe do to those which we find in the plains.
1 Banks is here using a bit of Lincolnshire dialect; ‘swathe’ in his native tongue meant to him a measure of grass-land in open pasture; or in this case it might have been his spelling of ‘swarth’—sward, the surface of the ground.—Wright's English Dialect Dictionary.
2 Cf. Darwin again: ‘We followed the same watercourse as on the previous day, till it dwindled away, and we were then compelled to crawl blindly among the trees. These, from the effects of the elevation and of the impetuous winds, were low, thick, and crooked. At length we reached that which from a distance appeared like a carpet of fine green turf, but which, to our vexation, turned out to be a compact mass of little beech-trees about four or five feet high. They were as thick together as box in the border of a garden, and we were obliged to struggle over the flat but treacherous surface’.—Naturalist's Voyage, p. 210.
3 Buchan was unfortunately for the expedition an epileptic.
For two hours now it had snowd almost incessantly so we had little hopes of seeing any of the three alive: about 12 however to our great Joy we heard a shouting, on which myself and 4 more went out immediately and found it to be the Seaman who had page 221 wakd almost starvd to death and come a little way from where he lay. Him I sent back to the fire and proceeded by his direction to find the other two, Richmond was upon his leggs but not able to walk the other lay on the ground as insensible as a stone. We immediately calld all hands from the fire and attempted by all the means we could contrive to bring them down but finding it absolutely impossible, the road was so bad and the night so dark that we could scarcely ourselves get on nor did we without many Falls. We would then have lit a fire upon the spot but the snow on the ground as well as that which continualy fell renderd that as impracticable as the other, and to bring fire from the other place was also impossible from the quantity of snow which fell every moment from the branches of the trees; so we were forc'd to content ourselves with laying out our unfortunate companions upon a bed of boughs and covering them over with boughs also as thick as we were able, and thus we left them hopeless of ever seeing them again alive which indeed we never did.
In these employments we had spent an hour and a half expos'd to the most penetrating cold I ever felt as well as continual snow. Peter Briscoe, another servant of mine, began now to complain and before we came to the fire became very ill but got there at last almost dead with cold.
Now might our situation truely be calld terrible: of twelve our original number 2 were already past all hopes, one more was so ill that tho he was with us I had little hopes of his being able to walk in the morning, and another very likely to relapse into his fitts either before we set out or in the course of our journey: we were distant from the ship we did not know how far, we knew only that we had been the greatest part of a day in walking it through pathless woods: provision we had none but one vulture which had been shot while we were out, and at the shortest allowance could not furnish half a meal: and to compleat our misfortunes we were caught in a snow storm in a climate we were utterly unaquainted with but which we had reason to beleive was as inhospitable as any in the world, not only from all the accounts we had heard or read but from the Quantity of snow which we saw falling, tho it was very little after midsummer: a circumstance unheard of in Europe for even in Norway or Lapland snow is never known to fall in the summer.
17. The Morning now dawnd and shewd us the earth coverd with snow as well as all the tops of the trees, nor were the snow squalls page 222 at all less Frequent for seldom many minutes were fair together; we had no hopes now but of staying here as long as the snow lasted and how long that would be God alone knew.
About 6 O'Clock the sun came out a little and we immediately thought of sending to see whether the poor wretches we had been so anzious about last night were yet alive, three of our people went but soon returnd with the melancholy news of their being both dead. The snow continued to fall tho not quite so thick as it had done; about 8 a small breeze of wind sprung up and with the additional power of the sun began (to our great Joy) to clear the air, and soon after we saw the snow begin to fall from the tops of the trees, a sure sign of an aproaching thaw. Peter continued very ill but said he thought himself able to walk. Mr Buchan thank god was much better than I could have expected, so we agreed to dress our vulture and prepare ourselves to set out for the ship as soon as the snow should be a little more gone off: so he was skinnd and cut into ten equal shares, every man cooking his own share which furnishd about 3 mouthfulls of hot meat, all the refreshment we had had since our cold dinner yesterday and all we were to expect till we should come to the ship.
About ten we set out and after a march of about 3 hours arrivd at the beach, fortunate in having met with much better roads in our return than we did in going out, as well as in being nearer to the ship than we had any reason to hope; for on reviewing our track as well as we could from the ship we found that we had made a half circle round the hills, instead of penetrating as we thought we had done into the inner part of the cuntrey. With what pleasure then did we congratulate each other on our safety no one can tell who has not been in such circumstances.1
1 We owe to the journal of Molyneux the master a side-light upon the quenchless enthusiasm of Banks. As soon, he says, as the travellers ‘came on Board & Refresh'd they were put into warm Beds, Mr Banks excepted who considering our short Stay & the Uncertainty of the weather, Apply'd for a Boat to Haul the Sane which was done without Success the foul Ground & depth of water rendering the Sane useless. However he had the Satisfaction in his late Excursion to make a Valuable Collection of Alpine & other Plants Hitherto unknown in Natural History’. Banks apparently, though he had not expected to be out all night, had relied too much on the fact of summer. Sir Joseph Hooker, who, when a young man, went with Ross to the Antarctic in the Erebus (1839–43) made some relevant comments. He and his companions, he said, had frequently been overtaken by heavy snowstorms on their expeditions on the Tierra del Fuegan hills. ‘Nothing, however, but personal weakness, or too sudden a change, would have made Sir J. Banks feel their effects so much, for we thought nothing of it, and were it necessary, even without a fire, a shelter might be made which with the warmth of two or three persons close together, might have defied death by cold’.—Hooker to his Mother, 6 December 1842, quoted in Leonard Huxley, Life and Letters of Sir J. D. Hooker, I, p. 138. Again, ‘This part of the world (Fuegia) has always borne the character of being eminently rigorous and inhospitable,—very much because poor Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Solander, after being accustomed to tropical heat and that hottest of harbours, Rio Janeiro, were rather suddenly cooled down here in the height of summer. The climate in winter is, however, as mild in proportion as the summers are chilly; the annual temperature is assuredly low, but the averages of that of each season are remarkably close’.—To Mrs Boott, 28 November 1842, ibid., pp. 138–9. Hooker overdoes the element of sudden change, for Banks and the others had had plenty of time to get used to lower temperatures than that of the tropics. Richmond and Dorlton would have survived if it had not been for the rum. It was not the snowstorm, or lack of food for a few hours, that was the danger, but for Buchan his epilepsy, and for Solander—one guesses—the effect of too much exercise after too little. Naturally Banks could not help painting the most horrific picture in his journal.
18. Peter was very ill today and Mr Buchan not at all well, the rest of us thank god in good health tho not yet recoverd from our fatigue.
It blew fresh without and made such a heaving swell in the bay that no one could go ashore and even the ship was very uncumfortable, rolling so much that one could scarcely stand without holding.
19. The swell still continued and we were again hinderd from going ashore tho the loss of two days out of the short time we had to stay here made the Dr and myself ready to venture any risk. The officer who was sent to attempt landing returnd bringing word that it was absolutely impossible without great danger of staving the boat, if even that would do. Both yesterday and today a good deal of snow fell in squalls.
20. Last night the weather began to moderate And this morn was very fine, so much so that we landed without any difficulty in the bottom of the bay and spent our time very much to our satisfaction in collecting shells and plants. Of the former we found some very scarce and fine particularly limpits of several species: of these we observd as well as the shortness of our time would permit that the limpit with a longish hole at the top of his shell is inhabited by an animal very different from those which have no such holes.1 Here were also some fine whelks, one particularly with a long tooth,2 and infinite variety of Lepades, Sertularias, Onisci3 &c &c &c much greater variety than I have any where seen, but the shortness of our time would not allow us to examine them so we were obligd to content ourselves with taking specimens of as many of them as we could in so short a time scrape together.
2 Acanthina calcar (Martyn). One of these too is in the Banksian collection at the British Museum. Other molluses collected at that time are listed by Wilkins in his Catalogue account of Banks's shell collection published in 1955 (Bull, B.M. (N.H.) Historical Series, I, No. 3).
3 Lepades, Sertularias, Onisci; there are no dated descriptions or drawings by which these animals (barnacles, hydroids, crustaceans) can be identified.
We returnd on board to dinner and afterwards went into the Countrey about two miles to see an Indian town which some of our people had given us intelligence of; we arrivd at it in about an hour walking through a path which I suppose was their common road tho it was sometimes up to our knees in mud. The town itself was situate upon a dry Knowl among the trees, which were not at all cleard away, it consisted of not more than twelve or fourteen huts or wigwams of the most unartificial construction imaginable, indeed no thing bearing the name of a hut could possibly be built with less trouble. They consisted of a few poles set up and meeting together at the top in a conical figure, these were coverd on the weather side with a few boughs and a little grass, on the lee side about one eighth part of the circle was left open and against this opening was a fire made. Furniture I may justly say they had none: a little, very little, dry grass laid round the edges of the circle furnishd both beds and chairs, and for dressing their shell Fish (the only provision I saw them make use of) they had no one contrivance but broiling them upon the Coals. For drinking indeed I saw in a corner of one of their hutts a bladder of some beast full of water: in one side of this near the top was a hole through which they drank by elevating a little the bottom which made the water spring up into their mouths.
In these few hutts and with this small share or rather none at all of what we call the nescessaries and conveniences of life livd about 50 men women and children, to all appearance contented with what they had nor wishing for any thing we could give them except beads; of these they were very fond preferring ornamental things to those which might be of real use and giving more in exchange for a string of Beids than they would for a knife or a hatchet.1
As this is to be the last time of our going ashore on this Island I take this opportunity to give an account of such things the shortness of my stay allowd me to observe.
1 Cook does not mention the visit to this ‘town’, but other traces of it, and of the ‘Indians’ of the vicinity, are found in Buchan's drawings, four in number, in B.M. Add. MS 23920, ff. 11 (?), 12, 16, 17, and in one by Parkinson, f. 13. Buchan, much ‘improved’ by Cipriani, will be found as pl. I in the second volume of Hawkesworth. See Pl. 5.
The hills are high tho not to be calld mountains, the tops of these however are quite bare and on them frequent patches of snow were to be seen, tho the time of the year when we were there answerd to the beginning of July in England. In the valleys between these the Soil has much the appearance of Fruitfullness and is in some places of a considerable depth; at the bottom of almost every one of these runs a brook the water of which in general has a reddish Cast like that which runs through turf bogs in England but is very well tasted.
Quadrupeds I saw none in the Island, except the Seals and Sea lions1 which we often saw swimming about in the bay might be calld such, but Dr Solander and myself when we were on the top of the highest hill we were upon observ'd the footsteps of a large beast imprinted on the surface of a bog, but could not with any probability guess of what kind it might be.2
Land birds there are very Few. I saw none larger than an English blackbird except hawks and a vulture,3 but water fowl are much more plentyfull; in the first bay we were in I might have shot any quantity of ducks or geese but would not spare the time from gathering plants. In the other we shot some but probably the Indians in the neighbourhood had made them shy as well as much less plentiful, at least so we found them.
Fish we saw few nor could with our hooks take any fit to eat. Shell fish however are in the greatest abundance, limpits, muscles, Clams &c. none of them delicate yet such as they were we did not despise them.4
Insects there are very few and not one species either hurtfull or troublesome; all the time we have been here we have seen neither gnat nor musqueto a circumstance which few if any uncleard countrey but this can boast of.
1 The Southern Sea Lion, Otaria byronia, and the Southern Fur Seal, Arctocephalus australis.
2 The beast was no doubt the Guanaco, Auchenia huanaco, one of the two species of South American llamas, the other being the Vicuña, which is sometimes used as a beast of burden. Cf. p. 227 below.
3 The only bird of prey from Tierra del Fuego figured on this voyage was the Chimango Caracara, Milvago chimango (Vieill.); Parkinson I, pl. 7.
4 These are discussed by Wilkins (op. cit.), who shows that one of the principal clams they used was the large Marcia exalbida (Dillwyn). See 20 January 1769.
1 Nothofagus betuloides, the Guindo, whose more accessible stands are now nearing extinction, though some timber is sawed at local mills.
2 Nothofagus antarctica, known as Mire, is host to an orange-yellow fungus (Cyttaria), as is also N. cunninghami of Tasmania. ‘The fact that species of Nothofagus, widely separated geographically, have unusual similarities extending even to the parasites, lends support to the theory of the former continuity of the antarctic continents.’ (Record and Hess).
3 Drimys winteri; cf. 216, n. 4 above.
The inhabitants we saw here seemd to be one small tribe of Indians consisting of not more than 50 of all ages and sexes. They are of a reddish Colour nearly resembling that of rusty iron mixd with oil: the men large built but very clumsey, their hight from 5 ft 8 to 5 ft 10 nearly and all very much of the same size, the women much less seldom exceeding 5 ft Their Cloaths are no more than a kind of cloak of Guanicoe1 or seal skin thrown loose over their shoulders and reaching down nearly to their knees; under this they have nothing at all nor any thing to cover their feet, except a few of them had shoes of raw seal hide drawn loosely round their instep like a purse. In this dress there is no distinction between men and women, except that the latter have their cloak tied round their middle with a kind of belt or thong and a small flap of leather hanging like Eve's fig leaf over those parts which nature teaches them to hide; which precept tho she has taught to them she seems intirely to have omitted with the men, for they continualy expose those parts to the view of strangers with a carelessness which thoroughly proves them to have no regard to that kind of decency.
Their ornaments of which they are extreemly fond consist of necklaces or rather Solitaires of shells and braceletts which the women wear both on their wrists and legs, the men only on their wrists, but to compensate for the want of the other they have a kind of wreath of brown worsted which they wear over their Foreheads so that in reality they are more ornamented than the women.
They paint their faces generaly in horizontal lines just under their eyes and sometimes make the whole region of their eyes white, but these marks are so much varied that no two we saw were alike: whether as marks of distinction or mere ornaments I could not at all make out.
They seem also to paint themselves with something like a mixture of grease and soot for particular occasions, as when we went to their town there came two out to meet us who were dawb'd with black lines all manner of ways so as to form the most diabolical countenance imaginable, and these two seemd to exorcise us or at least made a loud and long harangue which did not seem to be address'd either to us or any of their countreymen.
1 Guanaco, Auchenia huanaco, one of the two South American Bamas; cf. p. 225, n. 2.
Of Civil goverment I saw no signs, no one seemd to be more respected than another nor did I ever see the least appearance of Quarreling or words between any two of them. Religion also they seemd to be without, unless those people who made strange noises that I have mentiond before were preists or exorcisers which opinion is merely conjectural.
Their food at least what we saw them make use of was either Seals or shell fish. How they took the former we never saw but the latter were collected by the women, whose business it seemd to be to attend at low water with a basket in one hand, a stick with a point and barb in the other, and a satchel on their backs which they filld with shell fish, loosning the limpits with the stick and putting them into the basket which when full was emty'd into the satchel.
Their arms consisted of Bows and arrows, the former neatly enough made the latter neater than any I have seen, polishd to the highest degree and headed either with glass or flint very neatly; but this was the only neat thing they had and the only thing they seemd to take any pains about. Their houses which I have describd before are the most miserable ones imaginable and furniture they have none.
That these people have before had intercourse with Européans was very plain from many instances: first from the Européan Commodities of which we saw Sail Cloth, Brown woolen Cloth, Beads, nails, Glass &c, and of them especialy the last (which they used for pointing their arrows) a considerable quantity; from the confidence they immediately put in us at our first meeting tho well acquainted with our superiority; and from the knowledge they had of the use of our guns which they very soon shewd, making signs to me to shoot a seal who was following us in the boat which carried them ashore from the ship. They probably travel and stay but a short time at a place, so at least it should seem from the badness of their houses which seem intirely built to stand but for a short page 229 time; from their having no kind of household furniture but what has a handle adapted to it either to be carried in the hand or on the back; from the thinness of their Cloathing which seems little calculated even to bear the summers of this countrey much less the winters; from their food of shell fish which must soon be exhausted at any one place; and from the deserted huts we saw in the first bay we came to where people had plainly been but a short time before, probably this spring.
Boats they had none with them but as they were not sea sick or particularly affected when they came onboard our ship, possibly they might be left at some bay or inlet which passes partly but not all the way through this Island from the Streights of Magellan, from which place I should be much inclind to beleive these people have come as so few ships before us have anchord upon any part of Terra del Fuego.
Their dogs which I forgot to mention before seem also to indicate a commerce had some time or other with Européans, they being all of the kind that bark, contrary to what has been observd of (I beleive) all dogs natives of America.1
The weather here has been very uncertain tho in general extreemly bad: every day since the first more or less snow has fallen and yet the glass has never been below 38: unseasonable as this weather seems to be in the middle of summer I am inclind to think it is generaly so here, for none of the plants appear at all affected by it, and the insects who hide themselves during the time a snow blast lasts are the instant it is fair again as lively and nimble as the finest weather could make them.
21. Saild this morn, the wind Foul, but our keeping boxes being full of new plants we little regarded any wind provided it was but moderate enough to let the draughtsmen work, who to do them justice are now so used to the sea that it must blow a gale of wind before they leave off.
22. Weather pleasant but a little cold wind came to the Northward and we get a little westing.
1 Banks gives us here the best early description of the Ona people of the main island of Tierra del Fuego, a people of obscure origin who were, as he rightly surmised, nomadic hunters, living in small groups bound together by family ties, and without ‘civil government’. They were remarkable as an insular people who did not use boats. Their diet, besides the seals and shell fish that Banks saw them use, was guanaco, and tussock roots and wild celery; their distaste for strong drink was noticed by more than one journal-keeper on English ships. Their numbers have declined, E. Lucas Bridges, in his Uttermost Part of the Earth (London 1948), has some interesting remarks.
24. Many Islands about us today: weather very moderate: one of the Islands was surrounded by small pointed rocks standing out of the water like the Needles.1
Ever since we left the streights the albatrosses that have flown about the ship have either been or appeard much larger than those seen before we enterd them, but the weather has never been moderate enough to give us an opportunity of getting out a boat to shoot any of them.
25. Wind today Northwest: stood in with some Islands which were large, we could not tell for certain whether we saw any part of the main. The little Island mentiond yesterday was in view, and beyond that the land made in a bluf head, within which another appeard tho but faintly which was farther to the Southward; possibly that might be Cape Horn, but a fog which overcast it almost immediately after we saw it hinderd our making any material observations upon it, so all we can say is that it was the Southermost land that we saw and does not ill answer to the description [of] Cape Horn given by the French, who place it upon an Island and say that it is composd of two bluff headlands: v. Navigat aux terres australes tom 1. pag. 356.2
26. Weather vastly moderate today, wind foul so we were sorry that we had ran away from the land last night.
1 Cook: ‘this I take to be the Island of Evouts, it is about one League in circuit and of a moderate height and lies 4 League from the Main, near the south point of it are some peeked Rocks pretty high above water’.—I, p. 48.
2 See Cook's discussion of Cape Horn, I, p. 49. The French volumes were those of de Brosses, Navigations aux terres australes (1756). Charles de Brosses (1709–77), lawyer and magistrate, classical scholar, philosophe, was the author of the first published account of the excavations at Herculaneum (1750), which was translated into Italian and English, of a great edition of Sallust (1777), and of works on fetish-worship, etymology and grammar, musical theory, etc. A number of his MSS were destroyed in the Revolution. He had a considerable correspondence with savants and men of letters, but had the misfortune to make an enemy of Voltaire (see the diverting paper by Lytton Strachey in Portraits in Miniature). For the story of Cook and Banks, de Brosses's two volumes on South Sea discoveries, imperfectly arranged and discursive as they are, are his important work. I have touched on his place in eighteenth century geographical thought in my Introduction to Cook I, pp. Ixxviii ff. See also A. Rainaud, Le Continent Austral (Paris 1893), pp. 413–22; and Alan C. Taylor, Le Président de Brosses et l'Australie (Paris 1938).
27. Wind came to the northward and we got some little westing, possibly today we were to the westward of the cape, at least a great swell from the NWt makes it certain that we were to the Southward of it. Many large albatrosses d. exulans were about the ship whose backs were very white;1 at noon a shag Pelecanus antarcticus2 came on board the ship and was taken. Soon after dinner saw an Island to the northward possibly Diego Ramires.3
28. Pleasant breezes but a heavy swell from NNW continued and made it likely that we were past the Cape, tho we had made but little westing.
29. Wind still Foul and swell continued; today at noon lat. 59.00.
30. At noon today Lat 60.04: near calm: almost all navigators have met with Easterly winds in this Lat. so we were in hopes to do the same: towards Even wind got to the Southward.
31. Wind SE: stood to the westward with very fine weather.
1 These were possibly not the Wandering but the Royal Albatross, Diomedea epomophora Lesson. Murphy considers it probable that many of the sight records of large white albatrosses in the southern waters of South America refer to the latter species (Oceanic Birds of South America, 1936, p. 577).
2 A shag, Phalacrocorax albiventer (Lesson). Solander, p. 15; Parkinson I, pl. 29. Dr Falla has identified this pencil sketch as one of a sub-mature individual of the species.