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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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On this day ...
9 October 1769

Endeavour Voyage Maps
James Cook
Joseph Banks
Parkinson


The Passage from Oteroah to New Zealand


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The Passage from Oteroah to New Zealand (continued)

To my great regret, I found no place where I could land, a dangerous surf every where beating upon the shore; but I saw two canoes coming in from the sea, one under sail, and the other worked with paddles. I thought this a favourable opportunity to get some of the people into my possession without mischief, as those in the canoe were probably fishermen and without arms, and I had three boats full of men. I therefore disposed the boats so as most effectually to intercept them in their way to the shore; the people in the canoe that was paddled perceived us so soon, that by making to the nearest land with their utmost strength, they escaped us; the other sailed on till she was in the midst of us, without discerning what we were; but the moment she discovered us, the people on board struck their sail, and took to their paddles, which they plied so briskly that she out-ran the boat. They were however within hearing, and Tupia called out to them to come along side, and promised for us that they should come to no hurt: they chose, however, rather to trust to their paddles than our promises, and continued to make from us with all their power. I then ordered a musquet to be fired over their heads, as the least exceptionable expedient to accomplish my design, hoping it would either make them surrender or leap into the water. Upon the discharge of the piece, they ceased paddling; and all of them, being seven in number, began to strip, as we imagined to jump overboard; but it happened otherwise. They immediately formed a resolution not to fly, but to fight; and when the boat came up, they began the attack with their paddles, and with stones and other offensive weapons that were in the boat, so vigorously, that we were obliged to fire upon them in our own defence: four were unhappily killed, and the other three who were boys, the eldest about nineteen, and the youngest about eleven, instantly leaped into the water; the eldest swam with great vigour, and resisted the attempts of our people to take him into the boat by every effort that he could make: he was however at last overpowered, and the other two were taken up with less difficulty. I am conscious that the feeling of every reader of humanity will censure me for having fired upon these unhappy people, and it is impossible that, upon a calm review, I should approve it myself. They certainly did not deserve death for not chusing to confide in my promises; or not consenting to come on board my boat, even if they had apprehended no danger; but the nature of my service required me to obtain a knowlege of their country, which I could no otherwise effect than by forcing my way into it in a hostile manner, or gaining admission through the confidence and good-will of the people. I had already tried the power of presents without effect; and I was now prompted, by my desire to avoid further hostilities, to get some of them on board, as the only method left of convincing them that we intended them no harm, and had it in our power to contribute to their gratification and convenience. Thus far my intentions certainly were not criminal; and though in the contest, which I had not the least reason to expect, our victory might have been complete without so great an expence of life; yet in such situations, when the command to fire has been given, no man can restrain its excess, or prescribe its effect.


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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 289 - 290, 2004
Published by South Seas, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-jrnl-hv23-290