21 October 1769
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21 October 1769

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James Cook



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in Falconer's Dictionary of the Marine
21 October 1769

21. This morn at day break the waterers went ashore and soon after Dr Solander and myself; there was a good deal of Surf upon the beach but we landed without much difficulty. The natives sat by our people but did not intermix with them; they traded however for cloth cheifly, giving whatever they had tho they seemd pleasd with observing our people as well as with the gain they got by trading with them. Yet they did not neglect their ordinary occupations: in the morn several boats went out fishing, at dinner time every one went to their respective homes and after a certain time returnd. Such fair appearances made Dr Solander and myself almost trust them. We rangd all about the bay and were well repaid by finding many plants and shooting some most beautifull birds; in doing this we visited several houses and saw a little of their customs, for they were not at all shy of shewing us any thing we desird to see, nor did they on our account interrupt their meals the only employment we saw them engagd in.

Their food at this time of the year consisted of Fish with which instead of bread they eat the roots of a kind of Fern Pteris crenulata, very like that which grows upon our commons in England. These were a little roasted on the fire and then beat with a stick which took off the bark and dry outside, what remaind had a sweetish clammyness in it not disagreable to the taste; it might be esteemd a tolerable food was it not for the quantity of strings and fibres in it which in quantity 3 or 4 times exceeded the soft part; these were swallowd by some but the greater number of people spit them out for which purpose they had a basket standing under them to receive their chewd morsels, in shape and colour not unlike Chaws of Tobacco.

Tho at this time of the year this most homely fare was their principal diet yet in the proper seasons they certainly have plenty of excellent vegetables, tho we have seen no sign of tame animals among them except doggs, very small and ugly. Their plantations were now hardly finishd but so well was the ground tilld that I have seldom seen even in the gardens of curious people land better broke down. In them were planted sweet potatoes, cocos and some one of the cucumber kind, as we judgd from the seed leaves which just appeard above ground; the first of these were planted in small hills, some rangd in rows other in quincunx all laid by a line most regularly, the Cocos were planted in flat land and not yet appeard above ground, the Cucumbers were set in small hollows or dishes much as we do in England. These plantations were from 1 or 2 to 8 or 10 acres each, in the bay might be 150 or 200 acres in cultivation tho we did not see 100 people in all. Each distinct patch was fencd in generaly with reeds placd close one by another so that scarce a mouse could creep through.

When we went to their houses Men women and children receivd us, no one shewd the least signs of fear. The women were plain and made themselves more so by painting their faces with red ocre and oil which generaly was fresh and wet upon their cheeks and foreheads, easily transferrable to the noses of any one who should attempt to kiss them; not that they seemd to have any objection to such familiarities as the noses of several of our people evidently shewd, but they were as great coquetts as any Europaeans could be and the young ones as skittish as unbroke fillies. One part of their dress I cannot omit to mention: besides their cloth which was very decently rolld round them each wore round the lower part of her waist a string made of the leaves of a highly perfumd grass, to this was fastned a small bunch of the leaves of some fragrant plant which servd as the innermost veil of their modesty. Tho the men did not so frequently use paint upon their faces yet they often did: one especialy I observd whose whole body and garments were rubbd over with dry Ocre, of this he constantly kept a peice in his hand and generaly rubbd it on some part or other of him.

One peice of cleanliness in these people I cannot omit as I beleive it is almost unexamp[l]ed among Indians. Every house or small knot of 3 or 4 has a regular nescessary house where every one repairs and consequently the neighbourhood is kept clean which was by no means the case at Otahite. They have also a regular dunghil upon which all their offalls of food &c. are heapd up and which probably they use for manure.

In the evening all the boats being employd in carrying on board water we were likely to be left ashore till after dark; the loss of so much time in sorting and putting in order our specimens was what we did not like so we applied to our freinds the Indians for a passage in one of their Canoes. They readily launchd one for us, but we in number 8 not being usd to so ticklish a convenience overset her in the surf and were very well sousd; 4 then were obligd to remain and Dr Solander, Tupia, Tayeto and myself embarkd again and came without accident to the ship well pleasd with the behaviour of our Indian freinds who would the second time undertake to carry off such Clumsy fellows.

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© Derived from State Library of NSW 1998 Transcription of Banks's Endeavour Journal page (vol.2) 50, 2004
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