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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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On this day ...
1 - 2 May 1769

Endeavour Voyage Maps
James Cook
Joseph Banks

Observatory set up and a Visit to Tootaha


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CHAP. XI. The Observatory set up; the Quadrant stolen, and Consequences of the Theft: A Visit to Tootahah: Description of a Wrestling-match: European Seeds sown: Names given to our People by the Indians.

IN the afternoon, of Monday the 1st of May, we set up the observatory, and took the astronomical quadrant, with some other instruments on shore, for the first time.

The next morning, about nine o’clock, I went on shore with Mr. Green to fix the quadrant in a situation for use, when to our inexpressible surprize and concern it was not to be found. It had been deposited in the tent which was reserved for my use, where, as I passed the night on board, nobody slept: it had never been taken out of the packing-case, which was eighteen inches square, and the whole was of considerable weight; a sentinel had been posted the whole night within five yards of the tent door, and none of the other instruments were missing. We at first suspected that it might have been stolen by some of our own people, who seeing a deal box, and not knowing the contents, might think it contained nails, or some other subjects of traffic with the natives. A large reward was therefore offered to any one who could find it, as, without this, we could not perform the service for which our voyage was principally undertaken. Our search in the mean time was not confined to the fort and the places adjacent, but as the case might possibly have been carried back to the ship, if any of our own people had been the thieves the most diligent search was made for it on board; all the parties however returned without any news of the quadrant. Mr. Banks, therefore, who upon such occasions declined neither labour nor risk, and who had more influence over the Indians than any of us, determined to go in search of it into the woods; he hoped, that if it had been stolen by the natives, he should find it wherever they had opened the box, as they would immediately discover that to them it would be wholly useless: or, if in this expectation he should be disappointed, that he might recover it by the ascendancy he had acquired over the Chiefs. He set out, accompanied by a midshipman and Mr. Green, and as he was crossing the river he was met by Tubourai Tamaide, who immediately made the figure of a triangle with three bits of straw upon his hand. By this Mr. Banks knew that the Indians were the thieves; and that, although they had opened the case, they were not disposed to part with the contents. No time was therefore to be lost, and Mr. Banks made Tubourai Tamaide understand, that he must instantly go with him to the place whither the quadrant had been carried; he consented, and they set out together to the eastward, the Chief inquiring at every house which they passed after the thief by name: the people readily told him which way he was gone, and how long it was since he had been there: the hope which this gave them that they should overtake him, supported them under their fatigue, and they pressed forward, sometimes walking, sometimes running, though the weather was intolerably hot; when they had climbed a hill at the distance of about four miles, their conductor shewed them a point full three miles farther, and gave them to understand that they were not to expect the instrument till they had got thither. Here they paused; they had no arms, except a pair of pistols, which Mr. Banks always carried in his pocket; they were going to a place that was at least seven miles distant from the fort, where the Indians might be less submissive than at home, and to take from them what they had ventured their lives to get; and what, notwithstanding our conjectures, they appeared desirous to keep: these were discouraging circumstances, and their situation would become more critical at every step. They determined, however, not to relinquish their enterprize, nor to pursue it without taking the best measures for their security that were in their power. It was therefore determined, that Mr. Banks and Mr. Green should go on, and that the Midshipman should return to me, and desire that I would send a party of men after them, acquainting me at the same time, that it was impossible they should return till it was dark. Upon receiving this message I set out, with such a party as I thought sufficient for the occasion; leaving orders, both at the ship and at the fort, that no canoe should be suffered to go out of the bay, but that none of the natives should be seized or detained.

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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 111 - 113, 2004
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