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14 April 1769
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14 April 1769

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James Cook
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1769

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in Falconer's Dictionary of the Marine
14 April 1769

14. This morn several Canoas came on board among which were two in which were people who by their dress and appearance seemd to be of a rank superior to those who we had seen yesterday. These we invited to come on board and on coming into the Cabbin each singled out his freind, one took the Captn and the other me, they took off a large part of their cloaths and each dress'd his freind with them he took off: in return for this we presented them with each a hatchet and some beads. They made many signs to us desiring us to go to the places where they livd to the SW of where we lay; the boats were hoisted out and we took them with us and immediately proceeded according to their directions.

After rowing about a league they beckon'd us in shore and shewd us a long house where they gave us to understand that they livd; here we landed and were met by some hundreds of inhabitants who conducted us into the long house. Matts were spread and we were desired to set down fronting an old man who we had not before seen, he immediately orderd a cock and hen to be brought which were presented to Captn Cook and me, we accepted of the present. Then a peice of Cloth was presented to each of us perfumd after their manner not disagreably which they took great pains to make us understand. My peice of Cloth was 11 yards long and 2 wide: for this I made return by presenting him with a large lacd silk neckcloth I had on and a linnen pocket handkercheif, these he immediately put on him and seemd to be much pleasd with.

After this ceremony was over we walkd freely about several large houses attended by the ladies who shewd us all kind of civilities our situation could admit of, but as there were no places of retirement, the houses being intirely without walls, we had not an opportunity of putting their politeness to every test that maybe some of us would not have faild to have done had circumstances been more favourable; indeed we had no reason to doubt any part of their politeness, as by their frequently pointing to the matts on the ground and sometimes by force seating themselves and us upon them they plainly shewd that they were much less jealous of observation than we were.

We now took our leave of our freindly cheif and proceeded along shore for about a mile when we were met by a throng of people at the head of whoom appeard another cheif. We had learn'd the ceremony we were to go through which was to receive the green bough which was always brough[t] to us at every fresh meeting and to ratifie the peace of which that was the emblem by laying our hands on our breasts and saying Taio, which I imagine signifies freind. The bough was here offerd and accepted and in return every one of us said Taio. The cheif then made us signs that if we chose to eat he had victuals ready: we accepted the offer and dind heartily on fish and bread fruit with plantains &c dressd after their way, raw fish was offerd to us which it seems they themselves eat. The adventures of this entertainment I much wish to record particularly, but am so much hurried by attending the Indians ashore almost all day long that I fear I shall scarce understand my own language when I read it again.

Our cheifs own wife (ugly enough in conscience) did me the honour with very little invitation to squat down on the mats close by me: no sooner had she done so than I espied among the common croud a very pretty girl with a fire in her eyes that I had not before seen in the countrey. Unconscious of the dignity of my companion I beckond to the other who after some intreatys came and sat on the other side of me: I was then desirous of getting rid of my former companion so I ceas'd to attend to her and loaded my pretty girl with beads and every present I could think pleasing to her: the other shewd much disgust but did not quit her place and continued to supply me with fish and cocoa nut milk. How this would have ended is hard to say, it was interupted by an accident which gave us an opportunity of seeing much of the peoples manners. Dr Solander and another gentleman who had not been in as good company as myself found that their pockets had been pickd, one had lost a snuff box the other an opera glass. Complaint was made to the cheif, and to give it weight I started up from the ground and striking the but of my gun made a rattling noise which I had before used in our walk to frigh[t]en the people and keep them at a distance. Upon this as a signal every one of the common sort (among whom was my pretty girl) ran like sheep from the house leaving us with only the cheif his 3 wives and two or three better dressd than the rest whose quality I do not yet guess at. The cheif then took me by the hand to the other end of the house where lay a large quantity of their cloth, this he offerd to me peice by peice making signs that if it would make me amends I might take any part or all. I put it back and by signs told him that I wanted nothing but our own which his people had stole. On this he gave me into charge of my faithfull companion his wife who had never budged an inch from my elbow; with her I sat down on the mat and convers'd by signs for near _ an hour after which time he came back bringing the snuff box and the case of the opera glass, which with vast pleasure in his countenance he returnd to the owners, but his face soon changed when he was shewn that the case was empty which ought to have been full. He then took me by the hand and walkd along shore with great rapidity about a mile. By the way he receivd a peice of cloth from a woman which he carried in his hand. At last we came to a house in which we were receivd by a woman; to her he gave the cloth he had and told us to give her some beads. The cloth and beads were left on the floor by us and she went out, she stayd about _ of an hour and then returnd bringing the glass in her hand with a vast expression of joy on her countenance, for few faces have I seen which have more expression in them than those of these people. The beads were now returnd with a positive resolution of not accepting them and the Cloth was as resolutely forcd upon Dr Solander as a recompence for his loss. He then made a new present of beads to the lady and our ceremonies ended we returnd to the ship admiring a policy at least equal to any we had seen in civilizd countries, excercisd by people who have never had any advantage but meer natural instinct uninstructed by the example of any civilizd countrey.


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© Derived from State Library of NSW 1998 Transcription of Banks's Endeavour Journal page (vol.1) 217, 2004
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