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The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volume Two]

April 1771

April 1771

3. Theodosio seaman died very suddenly;1 he had enjoyd an uninterrupted state of Good health during all our times of sickness.

7. The Europa Indiaman Captn Pelley came into the Bay.

Of the four French vessels which we found in this Harbour 3 are now saild and the fourth is ready for sea. Of them two were 64 Gun ships, the other a large Snow2 and the fourth which still remains a frigate. All these Came from the Isle de France for Provision, of which they carry away from hence a prodigious quantity and consequently must have many mouths to feed upon that Island, from whence it is probable they Meditate some stroke at our East Indian Settlements in the beginning of a future war; which however our India people are not at all alarmd at, trusting intirely to the vast standing armies which they constantly keep up, the support of which in the Bengall alone Costs 840000 eight hundred and forty thousand pounds a Year!

Mr De Bougainville pleasd with the Bea[u]ty of the Ladies of Otahite gave that Island the Name of Cypre.3 In his return home he touchd at Isle de France where the Person who went

1 No one is elsewhere recorded as dying on 3 April. According to the muster book John Dozey, a native of ‘the Brazils’, died on 7 April.

2 The largest two-masted vessels in the eighteenth century were rigged as snows— i.e. square rigged, but having close behind the mainmast a sort of supplementary small mast which carried a trysail. There were small snows, however—smaller than a large brig.

3 The name given to Tahiti by Bougainville was la nouvlle Cythée, New Cythera. Cyprus as well as cythera had close associations with Venus in classical myth, and this report which Banks picked up from the French may indicate either a divided mind over names on Bougainville's part, or (more likely) some confusion of mind on the part of Banks's informant.

page 249 out with him in the character of Natural Historian1 was left and still remains. Otorroo the Indian whoom he brought from thence was known on board his ship by the name of Tootavee, a plain corruption of Bougainville,2 with whoom it may be supposed he meant to change names according to his Custom. This man is now at L'Isle de France, from whence a large ship is very soon to Sail and carry him back to his own countrey where she is to make a settlement, in doing which she must Necessarily follow the Tract of Abel Jansen Tasman and consequently if she does not discover Cooks Streights, which in all probability she will do, must make several discoveries on the Coast of New Zealand. Thus much the French who were here made no secret of.3 How necessary then will it be for us to publish an account of our voyage as soon as possible after our arrival if we mean that our own countrey shall have the Honour of our Discoveries! Should the French have publishd an account of Mr De Bougainvilles voyage before that of the second Dolphin how infallibly will they claim the Discovery of Cypre or Otahite as their own, and treat the Dolphins having seen it as a fiction, which we were enabled to set forth with some shew of truth as the Endeavour realy did See it, a twelvemonth however after Mr De Bougainville; which if England chuses to exert her Prior Claim to it, as she may hereafter do, if the French settle it may be productive of very disagreable consequences.4

1 The Isle-de France was Mauritius. The ‘Person… in the character of Natural Historian’ was a person for whom Banks would presumably have shown greater respect had he known his name; for he was the celebrated botanist Philibert Commerson (1727–73), the correspondent of the great astronomer Lalande. Trained as a physician, he turned his energies to natural history, and formed the finest herbarium known up to that time. On Bougainville's homeward journey he was engaged to stay at Mauritius (where he died) to work on its botany and on that of the Isle de Bourbon and Madagascar. He was too much occupied in observing and collecting to finish any great work, but was eminent enough, in spite of not supplying memoirs to the Academie des Sciences, to be made a member before the news of his death reached France; while Jussieu and Lamarck both drew on his herbarium, drawings and Mss, and Forster named a genus of plants Commersonia. His epistolary style is so enthusiastic that his lack of literary production may be the less regretted—see for example his letter to Lalande on Tahiti, printed in Mercure de France, November 1769, and reprinted by Bolton Glanvill Corney, The Quest and Occupation of Tahiti, II, pp. 461–6.

2 Bougainville was known as Putaveri.

3 This seems to be advance information of the voyage of Marion du Fresne (1729–72), a wealthy man who set out to return Ahutoru at his own expense, and incidentally to make discoveries. Ahutoru died at Madagascar. Marion did, roughly, follow Tasman's track; calling at the Cape in December 1771, he then sailed south and east, discovering the Prince Edward Islands and Crozet Islands and visiting Prince Henry Bay in Tasmania; but his New Zealand landfall was Mount Egmont and not any part of the South Island. He therefore missed Cook Strait. Turning the North Cape, he anchored in the Bay of Islands, where he, together with two officers and thirteen men, was massacred on 12 June 1772. His ship Mascarin reached home in 1773 via Tonga and Manila.

4 Banks is unjust to the French. There was no account published of the second voyage of the Dolphin, under Wallis, till Hawkes worth's volumes of 1773. Bougainville published his Voyage autour du monde in 1771, and naturally enough paid no attention to Wallis.

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