|7 December 1768
||Banks's Journal: Daily Entries
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On this day ...
7 December 1768
Endeavour Voyage Maps
7 December 1768
7. This morn weighd and stood out to sea. As soon as we came to Sta Cruz the pilot desired to be dischargd and with him our enemy the guard boat went off, so we were left our own masters and immediately resolved to go ashore on one of the Islands in the mouth of the harbour: their ran a great swell but we made shift to land on one calld Raza, on which we gatherd many species of Plants and some insects. Alstromeria salsilla was here in tolerable plenty and Amarillis mexicana, they were the most specious plants; we stayd till about 4 oClock and then came aboard the ship heartily tired, for the desire of doing as much as we could in a short time had made us all exert ourselves in a particular manner tho exposd to the hottest rays of the sun just at noonday.
Now we are got fairly to Sea and have intirely got rid of these troublesome people I cannot help spending some time in describing them tho I was not myself once in their town, yet my intelligence coming from Dr Solander who was, and our Surgeon Mr Monkhouse a very sensible man who was ashore every day to buy our provisions, I think cannot err much from truth.
The town of Rio de Janiero the capital of the Portugese dominions in America situate on the banks of the River of that name, both are call'd I apprehend from the Roman saint Januarius accord[in]g to the Spanish and Portugese custom of naming their discoveries from the Saint on whose feast they are made.
It is regular and well built after the fashion of Portugal, every house having before its windows a Lattice of wood behind which is a little balcony. For size it is much larger and I could have thought, probably little inferior to any of our Countrey towns in England Bristol or Liverpool not excepted; the streets are all straight intersecting each other at Right angles and have this peculiar Convenience, that much the greater number lay in one direction and are commanded by the Gunns of their citadel calld St Sebastian which is situate on the top of a hill over looking the town.
It is supplyd with water by an aqueduct which brings it from the neighbouring hills upon two stories of arches, said in some places to be very high; the water that this brings is conveyd into a fountain in the great square immediately opposite the Governors palace, which is guarded by a sentry who has sufficient work to keep regularity and order among so many as are always in waiting at this place; there is also water laid into some other part of the town but how it is brought there I could not hear, only that it was better than the fountain which is exceedingly indifferent, so much so as not to be likd by us tho we had been two months at sea in which time our water was almost continualy bad.
The Churches here are very fine dressd out with more ornaments even than those in Europe, and all parts of their religion is carried on with more shew; their processions in particular are very extrordinary, every day one or other of the parishes go in solemn order with all the insignia of their church, altar, host &c through their parish, begging for what they can get and praying in all form at every Corner of a street.
While we were there one of the largest churches in the town was rebuilding and for that reason the parish belonging to it had leave to walk through the whole City, which they did once a week and collected much money for the carrying on of their Edifice: at this ceremony all boys under a certain age were obligd to attend nor were the gentlemens sons ever excusd. Each of these were dressd in a Black cassock with a short red Cloak reaching half way down their shoulders, and carried in his hand a Lanthorn hung on the End of a pole about 6 or 7 feet long, the light caused by this (for there were always at least 200 Lights) is greater than can be imagind; I myself who saw it out of the cabbin windows call[d] together my mess mates and shewd it to them imagining that the town was on fire.
Besides this traveling religion a man who walks the streets has opportunity enough to shew his attachment to any saint in the Calendar, for every corner and almost every house has before it a little cupboard in which some Saint or other keeps his Residence, and least he should not see his votaries in the night he is furnishd with a small lamp which hangs before his little glass window: to these it is very customary to pray and sing hymns with all the vociferation imaginable, as may be imagind when I say that I and every one Else in the Ship heard it very distinctly every night tho we lay at least half a mile from the town.
The Goverment of this place Seems to me to be much more despotick even than that of Portugal tho many precautions have been taken to render it otherwise. The Cheif Magistrates are the Viceroy, the Governour of the town and a Council whose number I could not Learn, but only that the Viceroy had in this the casting vote: without the consent of this Council nothing material should be done, yet every day shews that the Viceroy and Governour at least if not all the rest do the most unjust things without consulting any one. Puting a man into prison without giving him a hearing and keeping him there till he is glad at any rate to get out without asking why he was put in, or at best sending him to Lisbon to be tried there without letting his family here know where he is gone to, is very common. This we experien[c]d while here, for every one who had interpreted for our people, and some who had only assisted in buying provisions for them, were put into Jail merely I suppose to shew us their power. I should however except from this one John Burrish an officer in their customs, a man who has been here 13 years and is so compleatly become a Portugese that he is known by no other name than Don John: he was of service to our people, tho what he did was so clogd with a suspicious fear of offending the Portugese as renderd it disgustfull. It is nescessary that any one who should Come here should know his Character, which is mercenary tho contented with a little as the present given to him demonstrated, which consisted of 1 dozn of beer 10 galls of Brandy 10 peices of ships beef and as many of Pork: this was what he himself askd for, and sent on board the Cagg for the spirit and with this he was more than satisfied.
They have a very extrordinary method of keeping people from traveling - to hinder them I suppose from going into any districk where gold or diamonds may be found, as there are more of such than they can possibly guard, which is this: there are certain bounds beyond which no man must go, these vary every month at the discretion of the Vic[e]roy, sometimes they are a few sometimes many Leagues Round the City: Every man must in consequence of this come to town to know where the Bounds are, for if he is taken by the guards who constantly patrole on their edges he is infallibly put in prison, even if he is within them, unless he can tell where they are.
The inhabitants here are very numerous, they consist of Portugese, negroes, and Indians aborigines of the countrey. The township of Rio, whose extent I could not learn but was only told that it was but a small part of the Capitanea or province, is said to contain 37,000 whites and about 17 negroes to each white, which makes their numbers 629,000 and the number of inhabitants in all 666,000. As for the Indians they do not live in this neighbourhood tho many of them are always here doing the Kings work, which they are obligd to do by turns for small pay for which purpose they come from their habitations at a distance. I saw many of them as the guard boat was constantly rowd by them, they are of a light copper colour with long lank black hair; as to their policy or manner of living when at home I could not learn any thing about it.
The military here consist of 12 regiments of Regulars, 6 Portugese and 6 Creolians and as many of Provincial militia who may be assembled upon occasion. To the regulars the inhabitants shew great deference, for as Mr Forster an English Gentleman in their service told me, if any of the people were not to pull off their hatts when they meet an officer he would immediately knock them down, which custom renders the people remarkably Civil to strangers who have at all a gentlemanlike appearance. All the officers of these regiments are expected three times a day to attend at the Sala or Viceroys levee, where they formaly ask for commands, where their constant answer is there is nothing new: this policy is Intended as I have been told to prevent them from going into the countrey which it most effectualy does.
This town as well as all others in South America belonging either to Spanyards or Portugese has long been infamous for the unchastity of its women; the people who we talkd with here confirmd the accounts declaring, especialy Mr Forster, that he did not beleive there was one modest woman in the township, which I must own appeard to me a most wonderfull assertion but I must take it for granted as I had not even the least opportunity to go among them. Dr Solander who was ashore declares however that as soon as it was night the windows were every one furnishd with one or more women, who as he walkd along with two more gentlemen gave nosegays to which ever of them each preferrd, which Complement the gentlemen returnd in kind, notwithstanding which each of them threw away whole hatfulls of flowers in their walk tho it was not a long one.
Assassinations are I fancy more frequent here than in Lisbon as the churches still take upon them to give protection to criminals: one accident of the kind happned in the sight of S. Evans our Cockswain, a man who I can depend upon, who told me he saw two people talking together to all appearance in a freindly manner, when one on a sudden drew a knife and stabbd the other twice and ran away pursued by some negroes who saw the fact likewise, but what the farther Event of this was I could not learn.
Thus much for the town and its inhabitants. I shall now speak of the countrey which I know rather more of than of the other as I was ashore one whole day: in that time I saw much Cleard ground but cheifly of an indifferent quality, tho doubtless there is such as is very good as the sugar and tobacco which is sent to Europe from hence plainly testifies; but all that I saw was employd in Breeding cattle of which they have great plenty, tho their pastures are the worst I ever saw on account of the shortness of the grass, and consequently the beef sold in the market tho it is tolerably cheap is so lean that an Englishman can hardly Eat it. I likewise saw great plantations of Iatropha manikot, which is calld in the West Indies Cassada and here Farina de Pao, i.e. wooden meal, a very proper name, for the cakes they make with it taste as if they were made of Sawdust and yet it is the only bread which is Eat here - for European bread is sold at nearly the rate of a shilling a pound, and is also exceeding bad on account of the flour which is generaly heated in its passage from Europe.
The Countrey produces many more articles but as I did not see them or hear them mentiond I shall not set them down, tho doubtless it is capable of bringing any thing that our West India Islands do, notwithstanding this they have neither Coffee or chocolate but import both from Lisbon.
Their fruits however I must not pass over in Silence, they have several I shall particularly mention those that were in season while we were there, which were Pine apples, Melons, water melons, oranges, Limes, Lemons, sweet Lemons, citrons, Plantanes, Bananes, Mangos, Mamme apples, acajou apples and nutts, Jamboira, another sort which bears a small black fruit, Coco nutts, Palm nuts of two kinds, Palm berries. Of these I must seperately give my opinion, as no doubt it will seem strange to some that I should assert that I have eat many of them and especialy pine apples better in England than any I have met with here. Begin then with the pines as the Fruit from which I expected the most, they being I beleive natives of this countrey, tho I cannot say I have seen or even heard of their being at this time wild any where in this neighbourhood: they are cultivated much as we do cabbages in Europe or rather with less care, the plants being set between bedds of any kind of garden stuff and sufferd to take their chance, the price of them in the Market is seldom above and generaly under a vintain which is 3 halfpence. All that Dr Solander and myself tasted we agreed were much inferior to those we had eat in England; tho in general they were more Juicy and sweet yet they had no flavour but were like sugar melted in water. Their Melins are still worse from the Specimen we had, for we got but one, which was perfectly mealy and insipid; their water melons however are very good for they have some little flavour or at least a degree of acid which ours have not. Oranges are large and very juicy, we thought them good, doubtless better than any we had tasted at home, but probably Italy and Portugal produce as good had we been there in the time of their being in perfection. Lemons and limes are like ours, Sweet Lemons are sweetish and without flavour, Citrons have a sickly faint taste otherwise are like them. Mangos were not in perfection but promisd to be a very fine fruit, they are about the size of a peach, full of a melting yellow pulp not unlike that of a summer peach which has a very gratefull flavour, but in all we had it was spoild by a taste of turpentine which I am told is not found in the ripe ones. Bananas are in shape and size like a small thick sausage, coverd with a thick yellow rind, which is peeld off and the fruit within is of a consistence which might be expected from a mixture of Butter and flour but a little Slimey, its taste is sweet with a little perfume. Plantanes differ from these in being longer and thinner and having less lusciousness in their taste: both these fruits were disagreable to most of our people but after some use I became tolerably fond of them. Acajou or casshou is shapd like an apple but larger, he taste very disagreab[l]e sourish and bitter, the nut grows at the top of them. Mamme apples are bigger than a Codlin in England, Coverd with a deep yellow skin, the pulp on the inside is very insipid or rather disagreable to the taste, and full of small round seeds coverd with a thick mucilage which continualy Cloy your mouth. Jamboira is the same as I saw at Madeira, a fruit calculated more to please the smell than the taste; the other sort are small and black and resemble much the taste of our English bilberries. Coco nutts are so well known in England that I need only say I have tasted as good there as any I met with here. Palm nutts of two sorts, one long and shapd like dates the other round, both these are rosted before their kernels are Eatable and Even then they are not so good a[s] Coco nuts. Palm berries appear much like Black grapes, they are the fruit of Bactris minor, but for Eating have scarce any pulp covering a very large stone and what there is has nothing but a light acid to recommend it. Here are also the fruits of several species of prickle pears which are very insipid. Of Europaean Fruits I saw apples but very mealy and insipid and one peach which was also a very bad one.
Tho this Countrey should produce many and very valuable druggs we could not find any in the apothecarys shops but Pareira Brava and Balsam Copivi, of both which we bought at excessive cheap prices and had very good of the sort. I fancy the drug trade is cheifly carried on to the northward as is that of the Dying woods, at least we could hear nothing of them here.
For manufactures I know of none carried on here except that of Cotton hammocks, which are usd for people to be carried about in as we do Sedan chairs, these are made cheifly by the Indians. But the cheif riches of the countrey comes from the mines, which are situated far up in the countrey, indeed no one could tell me how far, for even the situation of them is as carefully as possible conceald and Troops are continualy employd in guarding the Roads that lead to them, so that it is next to impossible for any man to get a sight of them except those who are employd there; at least no man would attempt it from mere curiosity for every body who is found on the road without being able to give a good account of himself is hangd immediately.
From these mines a great quantity of gold certainly comes but it is purchasd at a vast expence of lives; 40,000 negroes are annualy imported on the Kings accompt for this purpose, and notwithstanding that the year before last they dyed so fast that 20,000 more were obligd to be draughted from the town of Rio.
Pretious stones are also found here in very large quantities, so large that they do not allow more than a certain quantity to be collected in a year, which is done thus: a troop of people are sent into the Countrey where they are found and orderd to return when they have collected a certain quantity, which they sometimes do in a month more or less, then they return and after that it is death for any one to be found in the Countrey on any pretence whatever till the next year.
Diamonds Topazes of several different qualities and amethysts are the stones that are cheifly found. Of the first I did not see any but was told that the viceroy had by him large quantities and would sell them on the King of Portugals account, but in that case they would not be at all cheaper than those in Europe. Topazes and amethysts I bought a few of for specimens; the former were divided into three sorts of very different value, Calld here pinga dogua Qualidade premeiro and segondo, and chrystallos ormerilles; they were sold large and small good and bad together by octavos or the eighth part of an ounce, the first sort 4sh:9d; 2[nd sort] 4:0; 3[rd sort] . Amethysts . But it was smugling in the highest degree to have any thing to do with them formerly there were Jewelers here who wo[r]kd stones, but about 14 months ago orders came from the Court of Portugal that no more stones should be wrought here except on his account; the Jewellers were immediately orderd to bring all their tools to the Viceroy which they were obligd to do, and from that time to this have not been sufferd to do any thing for their support. Here are however a number of slaves who work stones for the King of Portugal.
The Coin current here is either that of Portugal especialy 36 shill peices, or Coin made here which is much debasd, especialy the silver which are calld petacks, of which there are two sorts one of less value than the other, easily distinguishable by the number of rees markd on the outside, but they are little used; they also have Copper coin like that in Portugal, 5 and 10 rey peices, two of the latter are worth 3 halfpence, 40 petacks are worth 36 shillings.
The harbour of Rio de Janeiro is certainly a very good one: the Entrance is not wide but the Sea breeze which blows every morning makes it easy for any ship to go in before the wind, and when you get abreast the town it increases in breadth prodigiously so that almost any number of ships might lay in 5 or 6 fathom water oozey bottom. It is defended by many works, especialy the entrance where it is narrow, there is their strongest fortification calld Sta Cruz and another opposite it; there is also a platform mounting about 22 gunns without that just under the Sugar Loaf on the sea side, but that seems intirely calculated to hinder the Landing of an Enemy in a sandy bay from whence there is a passage to the back part of the town, which is intirely void of Defence except that the whole town is open to the Gunns of the Citadel St Sebastian as I said before. Between Sta Cruz and the town are several small batteries of 5 to 10 gunns and one pretty large one calld Berga Leon. Immediately before the town is Ilhoa dos Cobras, an Island fortified all round, which seems incapable of doing much mischeif from its immense size, at least it would take more men to defend it even tolerably in case of an attack than could Possibly be spard from a town totaly without Lines or any defence round itself. As for Sta Cruz, their cheif fortification on which they most rely seems very incaple of making any great resistance if smartly attackd by shipping: it is a stone fort which mounts many gunns indeed, but they lie tier above tier and are consequently very open to the atack of a ship which may come within 2 cable lengh's or less of them. Besides they have no supply of water there but what they have from a cistern in which they catch rain, or in times of Drouth are supplyd from the adjacent countrey; this they have been obligd to build above ground Least the water should taint by the heat of the climate, which a free access of air prevents; a shot consequently which fortunately should break that cistern would reduce the defenders to the utmost nescessity.
I was told by a person who certainly knew and I beleive meant to inform me right, that a little to the southward just without the South head of the harbour was a bay in which boats might land with all facility without an obstruction, as there is no kind of work there, and from this bay it is not above three hours march to the town, which you aproach on the Back part where it is as defenceless as the Landing place; but this seems incredible yet I am inclind to beleive it of these people whose cheif policy consists in hindering people from looking about them as much as possible. It may therefore be as my informer said that the existence of such a bay is but lately found out, indeed was it not for that policy I could beleive any thing of their stupidity and ignorance, when the Governor of the town Brigadier General Don Pedro de Mendoza y Furtado ask'd the Captain of our ship whether the transit of Venus which we were going to observe was not the passing of the North star to the South pole, which he said he always understood it to be.
The river and indeed the whole coast abounds with greater variety of Fish than I have ever seen; seldom a day passd in which we had not one or more new species brought to us, indeed the bay is the most convenient place for fishing I have ever seen for it abounds with Islands between which there is shallow water and proper beaches for drawing the Seine. The sea also without the bay is full of Dolphins and large mackrell of several sorts who very readily bite at hooks which the inhabitants tow after their boats for that purpose, in short the Countrey is Capable with a very little industry of producing infinite plenty both of nesscessaries and luxuries: was it in the hands of Englishmen we should soon see its consequence, as things are tolerably plentifull even under the direction of the Portugese, who I take to be without exception the laziest as well as the most ignorant race in the whole world.
The Climate here is I fancy very good, the Countrey certainly is very wholesome, during our whole stay the Thermometer was never above 83. We had however a good deal of Rain and once it blew very hard. I am rather inclind to think that this countrey has rather more rain than those in the same northern Latitude are observd to have, not only from what happend during our short stay but from Marcgrave who gives us metereological observations on this Climate for 3 years: you may observe that it raind here in those years almost every other Day throughout the year, but more especialy in May and June in which months it raind along without Ceasing.
© Derived from State Library of NSW 1998 Transcription of Banks's Endeavour Journal pages (vol.1) 102 - (vol.1) 104, 2004
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