Thursday, 13th July, 1769

Thursday, 13th. Winds Easterly, a light breeze. This morning we was visited by Obariea and several others of our acquaintance, a thing we did not expect after what had hapned but 2 days ago; but this was in some measures owing to Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, and myself going to Apparra last night, where we so far convinc’d them of our Friendly disposition that several of them were in tears at our coming away. Between 11 and 12 o’Clock we got under Sail, and took our final leave of these People, after a stay of just three Months, the most part of which time we have been upon good terms with them. Some few differences have now and then hapned owing partly to the want of rightly understanding each other, and partly to their natural thievish disposition, which we could not at all times bear with or guard against; but these have been attended with no ill consequence to either side except the first, in which one of them was kill’d, and this I was very sorry for, because from what had hapned to them by the Dolphin I thought it would have been no hard matter to have got and keep a footing with them without bloodshed. For some time before we left this Island several of the Natives were daily offering themselves to go away with us; and as it was thought they must be of use to us in our future discoveries we resolved to bring away one whose name is Tupia, a Chief and a Priest. This man had been with us most part of the time we had been upon the Island, which gave us an opportunity to know something of him. We found him to be a very intelligent person, and to know more of the Geography of the Islands situated in these Seas, their produce, and the religion, laws, and Customs of the inhabitants, than any one we had met with, and was the likeliest person to answer our Purpose. For these reasons, and at the request of Mr. Banks, I received him on board, together with a young Boy, his Servant. For the first two Months we were at this Island the Natives supplied us with as much Bread fruit, Cocoa Nuts, etc., as we could well dispence with, and now and then a few Hogs, but of these hardly sufficient to give the Ship’s company one and sometimes two fresh Meals a week. As to Fowls, I did not see above 3 dozen upon the whole Island, and fish they seldom would part with; but during the last Month we got little refreshment of any sort. The detaining of their Canoes broke off Trade at that time, and it never after was begun again with any Spirit. However, it was not wholy owing to this, but to a Scarcity. The Season for Bread fruit was wholy over, and what other Fruits they had were hardly sufficient for themselves; at least, they did not care to part with them. All sorts of Fruits we purchased with Beads and Nails, not less than 40-penny, for a nail under that size was of no value; but we could not get a Hog above 10 or 12 pounds weight for anything less than a Hatchet, not but that they set great value upon Spike Nails; but, as this was an Article many in the Ship are provided with, the Women soon found a much easier way at coming at them than by bringing Provisions. Our Traffick with this people was carried on with as much Order as in the best regulated Market in Europe. It was managed ashore chiefly by Mr. Banks, who took uncommon Pains to procure from the Natives every kind of refreshment that was to be got. Axes, Hatchets, Spikes, large Nails, looking Glasses, Knives, and Beads are all highly valued by this People, and nothing more is wanting to Traffick with them for everything they have to dispose of. They are likewise very fond of fine Linnen Cloth, both White and Printed, but an Axe worth half a Crown will fetch more than a Piece of Cloth worth Twenty Shillings.

Upon our arrival at Batavia we had certain information that the two ships that were at George’s Island some time before our arrival there were both French ships.


This Island is called by the Natives Otaheite, and was first discovered by Captain Wallis, in His Majesty’s ship Dolphin, on June 19th, 1767, and to the Credit of him and his Officers, the Longitude of Royal Bay was by them settled to within half a degree of the Truth, and the whole figure of the Island not ill described. It is situated between the Latitude of 17 degrees 29 minutes and 17 degrees 53 minutes South, and between the Longitude of 149 degrees 10 minutes and 149 degrees 39 minutes West from the Meridian of Greenwich. Point Venus, so called from the Observation being made there, is the Northern extremity of the Island, and lies in the Longitude of 149 degrees 30 minutes, being the mean result of a Great number of Observations made upon the Spot. The Shores of this Island are mostly guarded from the Sea by reefs of coral rocks, and these form several excellent Bays and Harbours, wherein are room and depth of Water sufficient for the largest Ships.

Royal Bay, called by the Natives Matavie, in which we lay, and the Dolphin before us, is not inferior to any on the Island, both in Point of conveniency and Situation. It may easily be known by a Prodigious high Mountain in the middle of the Island, which bears due south from Point Venus, which is the Eastern point of the Bay. To sail into it either keep the West point of the Reefs which lies before Point Venus close on board, or give it a berth of near half a Mile in order to avoid a small Shoal of Coral Rocks, whereon is but 2 1/2 fathoms of water. The best Anchoring is on the Eastern side of the Bay in 16 or 14 fathoms of water, owsey bottom. The Shore of the bay is all a fine sandy beach, behind which runs a river of Fresh Water, so that any Number of Ships might Water here without discommoding one another. The only wood for fuel upon the whole Island is fruit Trees, and these must be purchased of the Natives, if you mean to keep on good Terms with them. There are some Harbours to the Westward of this bay that have not been mentioned, but as they lay Contiguous to it, and are to be found in the plan, the description of them is unnecessary.

The land of this Island, except what is immediately bordering upon the Sea coast, is of a very uneven Surface, and rises in ridges which run up into the middle of the Island, and there form mountains, that are of a height Sufficient to be seen at the distance of 20 leagues. Between the foot of the ridges and the Sea is a border of low Land surrounding the whole Island, except in a few places where the ridge rises directly from the Sea. This low land is of Various Breadths, but nowhere exceeds a Mile and a half. The Soil is rich and fertile, being for the most part well stock’d with fruit Trees and small Plantations. and well water’d by a number of small Rivulets of Excellent Water which come from the adjacent hills. It is upon this low Land that the greatest part of the inhabitants live, not in Towns or Vilages, but dispersed everywhere round the whole Island; the Tops of most of the ridges and mountains are Barren and, as it were, burnt up with the sun, yet many parts of some of them are not without their produce, and many of the Valleys are fertile and inhabited.


The produce of this Island is Bread Fruit, Cocoa Nuts, Bonanoes, Plantains, a fruit like an Apple, sweet Potatoes, Yams, a Fruit known by the name of Eag Melloa, and reck’ned most delicious; Sugar Cane which the inhabitants eat raw; a root of the Salop kind, called by the inhabitants Pea; the root also of a plant called Ether; and a fruit in a pod like a Kidney bean, which when roasted eats like a Chestnut, and is called Ahee; the fruit of a Tree which they call Wharra, something like a Pine Apple; the fruit of a Tree called by them Nano; the roots of a Fern and the roots of a plant called Thive. All these Articles the Earth almost Spontaniously produces, or, at least, they are raised with very little Labour. In the Article of food these people may almost be said to be exempt from the Curse of our Forefathers, scarcely can it be said that they Earn their bread with the sweat of their brow; benevolent Nature hath not only Supply’d them with necessarys, but with abundance of Superfluities. The Sea coast supplies them with vast Variety of most Excellent fish, but these they get not without some Trouble and Perseverance. Fish seems to be one of their greatest Luxuries, and they Eat it either raw or Dressed and seem to relish it one way as well as the other. Not only fish but almost everything that comes out of the Sea is Eat and Esteem’d by these People; Shell Fish, Lobsters, Crabs, and even sea insects, and what is commonly called blubbers of many kinds, conduce to their support.

For tame Animals they have Hogs, Fowls, and Dogs, the latter of which we learned to Eat from them, and few were there of us but what allow’d that a South Sea dog was next to an English Lamb. One thing in their favour is that they live intirely upon Vegetables; probably our Dogs would not Eat half so well. Little can be said in favour of their Fowles, but their pork is most Excellent, they have no beasts of Prey of any Sort, and Wild Fowls are scarce and confin’d to a few Species. When any of the Chiefs kill a Hog it seems to be almost equally divided among all his Dependents, and as these are generally very numerous, it is but a little that come to each person’s share, so that their chief food is Vegetables, and of these they eat a large quantity.

Cookery seems to have been but little studied here; they have only 2 Methods of applying Fire–broiling and Baking, as we called it; the method this is done I have before described, and I am of Opinion that Victuals dressed this way are more juicy and more equally done than by any of our Methods, large Fish in particular, Bread Fruit, Bananoes. Plantains Cooked this way eat like boil’d Potatoes, and was much used by us by way of bread whenever we could get them. Of bread Fruit they make 2 or 3 dishes by beating it with a Stone Pestle till it makes a Paste, mixing Water or Cocoa Nut Liquor, or both, with it, and adding ripe Plantains, Bananoes, Sour Paste, etc.

This last is made from bread Fruit in the following manner. This fruit, from what I can find, remains in Season only 8 or 9 months in the year, and as it is the Chief support of the inhabitants a reserve of food must be made for those months when they are without it. To do this the Fruit is gathered when upon the point of ripening; after the rinde is scraped off it is laid in heaps and coverd close with leaves, where it undergoes a fermentation, and becomes soft and disagreeably sweet. The Core is then taken out, and the rest of the fruit thrown into a Hole dug for that purpose, the sides and bottom of which are neatly laid with grass. The whole is covered with leaves and heavy stones laid upon them; here it undergoes a second Fermentation and becomes sourish, in which condition they say it will keep good 10 or 12 months. As they want to use it they make it into balls, which they wrap up in leaves and bake in the same manner as they do the Fruit from the Tree; it is then ready for eating either hot or cold, and hath a sour and disagreeable taste. In this last State it will keep good a Month or 6 Weeks; it is called by them Mahai, and they seldom make a Meal without some of it, one way or another. To this plain diet Salt Water is the universal sauce, hardly any one sets down to a meal without a Cocoa Nut shell full of it standing by them, into which they dip most of what they Eat, especially Fish, drinking at Intervals large sops of it out of their Hands, so that a man may use half a Pint at a Meal.

It is not common for any 2 to eat together, the better sort hardly ever; and the women never upon any account eat with the Men, but always by themselves. What can be the reason of so unusual a custom it is hard to say; especially as they are a people, in every other instance, fond of Society and much so of their Women. They were often Asked the reason, but they never gave no other Answer, but that they did it because it was right, and Express’d much dislike at the Custom of Men and Women Eating together of the same Victuals. We have often used all the intreatys we were Masters of to invite the Women to partake of our Victuals at our Tables, but there never was an instance of one of them doing it publick, but they would Often goe 5 or 6 together into the Servants apartments, and there eat very heartily of whatever they could find, nor were they the least disturbed if any of us came in while they were dining; and it hath sometimes hapned that when a woman was alone in our company she would eat with us, but always took care that her own people should not know what she had don, so that whatever may be the reasons for this custom, it certainly affects their outward manners more than their Principle.


With respect to their persons the Men in general are tall, strong-limb’d, and well shaped. One of the tallest we saw measured 6 feet 3 inches and a half. The superior women are in every respect as large as Europeans, but the inferior sort are in General small, owing possibly to their early Amours, which they are more addicted to than their superiors. They are of various Colours: those of the inferior sort, who are obliged to be much exposed to the Sun and air, are of a very Dark brown; the superiors again, who spend most of their Time in their Houses under Shelter, are not browner than people who are born or reside longer in the West Indies; nay, some of the Women are almost as fair as Europeans. Their hair is almost universally black, thick, and Strong; this the Women wear short Cropt Round their Ears. The Men, on the other hand, wear it different ways: the better sort let it grow long, and sometimes tying it up on the Top of their Heads, or letting it hang loose over their Shoulders; but many of the inferiors, and such who, in the exercise of their professions, fishing, etc., are obliged to be much upon or in the Water, wear it cropt short like the women. They always pluck out a part of their beards, and keep what remains neat and Clean. Both Sexes eradicate every hair from under their Armpits, and look upon it as a mark of uncleanliness in us that we do not do the Same.

They have all fine white Teeth, and for the most part short flat Noses and thick lips; yet their features are agreeable, and their gaite graceful, and their behavior to strangers and to each other is open, affable, and Courteous, and, from all I could see, free from treachery, only that they are thieves to a man, and would steal but everything that came in their way, and that with such dexterity as would shame the most noted Pickpocket in Europe. They are very cleanly people, both in their persons and diet, always washing their hands and Mouth immediately before and after their Meals, and wash or Bathe themselves in fresh Water 3 times a day, morning, Noon, and Night.

The only disagreeable thing about them is the Oil with which they anoint their heads, Monoe, as they call it; this is made of Cocoanutt Oil, in which some sweet Herbs or Flowers are infused. The Oil is generally very rancid, which makes the wearer of it smell not very agreeable. Another custom they have that is disagreeable to Europeans, which is eating lice, a pretty good stock of which they generally carry about them. However, this custom is not universal; for I seldom saw it done but among Children and Common People, and I am perswaided that had they the means they would keep themselves as free from lice as we do; but the want of Combs in a Hot climate makes this hardly possible. There are some very fine men upon this Island whose skins are whiter than any European’s, but of a Dead Colour, like that of the Nose of a White Horse; their Eyes, eyebrows, hair and beards are also White. Their bodys were cover’d, more or less, with a kind of White down. Their skins are spotted, some parts being much whiter than others. They are short-sighted, with their eyes oftimes full of rheum, and always look’d unwholesome, and have neither the Spirit nor the activity of the other Natives. I did not see above 3 or 4 upon the whole Island, and these were old men; so that I concluded that this difference of colour, etc., was accidental, and did not run in families, for if it did they must have been more Numerous. The inhabitants of this Island are Troubled with a sort of Leprosy, or Scab all over their bodys. I have seen Men, Women, and Children, but not many, who have had this distemper to that degree as not to be able to walk. This distemper, I believe, runs in familys, because I have seen both mother and Child have it.

Both sexes paint their Bodys, Tattow, as it is called in their Language. This is done by inlaying the Colour of Black under their skins, in such a manner as to be indelible. Some have ill-design’d figures of men, birds, or dogs; the women generally have this figure Z simply on every joint of their fingers and Toes; the men have it likewise, and both have other differant figures, such as Circles, Crescents, etc., which they have on their Arms and Legs; in short, they are so various in the application of these figures that both the quantity and Situation of them seem to depend intirely upon the humour of each individual, yet all agree in having their buttocks covered with a Deep black. Over this Most have Arches drawn one over another as high as their short ribs, which are near a Quarter of an inch broad. These Arches seem to be their great pride, as both men and Women show them with great pleasure.

Their method of Tattowing I shall now describe. The colour they use is lamp black, prepar’d from the Smoak of a Kind of Oily nut, used by them instead of Candles. The instrument for pricking it under the Skin is made of very thin flatt pieces of bone or Shell, from a quarter of an inch to an inch and a half broad, according to the purpose it is to be used for, and about an inch and a half long. One end is cut into sharp teeth, and the other fastened to a handle. The teeth are dipped into black Liquor, and then drove, by quick, sharp blows struck upon the handle with a Stick for that purpose, into the skin so deep that every stroke is followed with a small quantity of Blood. The part so marked remains sore for some days before it heals. As this is a painful operation, especially the Tattowing their Buttocks, it is perform’d but once in their Life times; it is never done until they are 12 or 14 years of Age.

Their Cloathing is either of Cloth or Matting of several different sorts; the dress of both Men and Women are much the same, which is a Piece of Cloth or Matting wrapp’d 2 or 3 times round their waist, and hangs down below their Knees, both behind and before, like a Pettycoat; another piece, or sometimes 2 or 3, about 2 yards or 2 1/2 yards long, with a hole in the Middle, through which they put their heads. This hangs over their Shoulders down behind and before, and is tied round their waist with a long piece of thin Cloth, and being open at the sides gives free liberty to their arms. This is the common dress of all ranks of people, and there are few without such a one except the Children, who go quite naked, the Boys until they are 6 or 7 years of Age, and the girls until 3 or 4. At these Ages they begin to cover what nature teaches them to hide. Besides the dress I have mentioned some of the better sort, such as can afford it, but more especially the Women, will one way or other wrap round them several pieces of Cloth, each 8 or 10 Yards long and 2 or 3 broad, so much that I have often wondered how they could bear it in so hot a climate. Again, on the other hand, many of the inferior sort during the heat of the Day, go almost naked, the women wearing nothing but the Petticoat aforementioned, and sometimes hardly that. The men wear a piece of Cloth like a Sack, which goes between their thighs, and brought up before and behind, and then wrapped round their waist. This every man wears always without exception, and it is no uncommon thing to see many of the better sort have nothing else on, as it is reckoned no shame for any part of the body to be exposed to View, except those which all mankind hide.

Both sexes sometimes shade their faces from the Sun with little Bonnets made of Cocoa-Nut leaves. Some have them of fine Matting, but this is less common. They sometimes wear Turbands, but their Chief Headdress is what they call Tomou, which is human Hair plaited scarce thicker than common thread. Of this I can safely affirm that I have seen pieces near a mile in length worked upon one end without a Knott. These are made and worn only by the women, 5 or 6 such pieces of which they will sometimes wind round their Heads, the effect of which, if done with taste, is very becoming. They have Earings by way of Ornament, but wear them only at one Ear. These are made of Shells, Stones, Berries, red pease, and some small pearls which they wear 3 tied together; but our Beads, Buttons, etc., very soon supply’d their places.


After their meals in the Heat of the day they often Sleep, middle Aged people especially, the better sort of whom seem to spend most of their time in eating and Sleeping. Diversions they have but few, shooting with the Bow and Wrestling are the Chief; the first of which is confin’d almost wholy to the Chiefs; they shoot for distance only, kneeling upon one knee and dropping the Bow the instant of the Arrows parting from it. I have seen one of them shoot an Arrow 274 yards, yet he looked upon it as no Great Shotte.

Musick is little known to them, yet they are very fond of it; they have only 2 Instruments–the flute and the Drum. The former is made of hollow Bamboo about 15 inches long, in which are 3 Holes; into one of them they blow with one Nostril, stopping the other with the thumb of the left hand, the other 2 Holes they stop and unstop with their fingers, and by this means produce 4 Notes, of which they have made one Tune, which serves them upon all Occasions, to which they sing a number of songs generally consisting of 2 lines and generally in rhime. At any time of the day when they are Lazy they amuse themselves by singing these Couplets, but especially after dark when their candles are lighted, which are made of the Kernels of a Nutt abounding much in oil; these are stuck upon a Skewer of Wood one upon another, and give a very Tolerable light, which they often keep burning an hour after dark, and if they have strangers in the House much longer. Their drums are made of a hollow block of wood covered with Shark’s Skin, and instead of Drumsticks they use their hands. Of these they make out 5 or 6 tunes and accompany the flutes.

The drums are Chiefly used at their Heivas, which are a set of Musicians, 2 or 3 Drums for instance, as many flutes and singers, which go about from House to House and play, and are always received and rewarded by the Master of the family, who gives them a Piece of Cloth or whatever he can spare, for which they will stay 3 or 4 hours, during which time his house will be crowded full, for the people are extravagantly fond of this diversion. The Young Girls whenever they can collect 8 or 10 Together dance a very indecent Dance, which they call Timorodee, singing most indecent songs and using most indecent actions, in the practice of which they are brought up from their earliest childhood; in doing this they keep time to a great nicety. This exercise is generally left off as soon as they arrive at Years of Maturity, for as soon as they have form’d a connection with man they are expected to leave off dancing Timorodee.

One amusement or custom more I must mention, though I confess I do not expect to be believed, it is founded upon a Custom so inhuman and contrary to the Principles of human nature. It is this: that more than one half of the better sort of the inhabitants have enter’d into a resolution of injoying free liberty in Love, without being Troubled or disturbed by its consequences. These mix and Cohabit together with the utmost freedom, and the Chilldren who are so unfortunate as to be thus begot are smother’d at the Moment of their Birth; many of these People contract intimacies and live together as man and wife for years, in the course of which the Children that are born are destroy’d. They are so far from concealing it that they look upon it as a branch of freedom upon which they Value themselves. They are called Arreoys, and have meetings among themselves, where the men amuse themselves with Wrestling, etc., and the Women in dancing the indecent dance before-mentioned, in the course of which they give full Liberty to their desires, but I believe keep up to the appearance of decency. I never see one of these meetings; Dr. Monkhouse saw part of one, enough to make him give Credit to what we had been told.

Both sexes express the most indecent ideas in conversation without the least emotion, and they delight in such conversation beyond any other. Chastity, indeed, is but little valued, especially among the middle people–if a Wife is found guilty of a breach of it her only punishment is a beating from her husband. The Men will very readily offer the Young Women to Strangers, even their own Daughters, and think it very strange if you refuse them; but this is done merely for the sake of gain.

The Houses or dwellings of these People are admirably calculated for the continual warmth of the Climate; they do not build them in Towns or Villages, but seperate each from the other, and always in the Woods, and are without walls, so that the air, cooled by the shade of the Trees, has free access in whatever direction it hapens to blow. No country can boast of more delightful walks than this; the whole Plains where the Natives reside are covered with groves of Bread Fruit and Cocoa Nut Trees, without underwood, and intersected in all directions by the Paths which go from House to House, so that nothing can be more grateful in a Climate where the sun hath so powerful an influence. They are generally built in form of an Oblong square, the Roofs are supported by 3 Rows of Pillars or posts, and neatly covered with Thatch made of Palm leaves. A middle-siz’d house is about 24 feet by 12, extream heigth about 8 or 9, and heigth of the Eves 3 1/2 or 4. The floors are cover’d some inches deep with Hay, upon which, here and there, lay matts for the conveniency of sitting down; few houses has more than one Stool, which is only used by the Master of the family.

In their houses are no rooms or Partitions, but they all huddle and Sleep together; yet in this they generally observe some order, the Married people laying by themselves, and the unmarried each sex by themselves, at some small distance from each other. Many of the Eares or Chiefs are more private, having small movable houses in which they Sleep, man and Wife, which, when they go by Water from place to place, are tied upon their Canoes; these have walls made of Cocoa-Nut leaves, etc. I have said that the houses are without walls, but this is only to be understood in general, for many of them are walled with wickering, but not so close but to admit a free circulation of Air. The matts which serve them to sit upon in the daytime are also their beds in the night, and the Cloathes they wear in the day serve for covering, a little wood Stool, block of wood, or bundle of Cloth for a Pillow. Besides these common houses there are others much larger, 200 feet long and upwards, 30 broad, and 20 in heigth. There are generally 2 or 3 of these in every district, and seem’d not only built for the accommodation of the principal people, but common to all the inhabitants of that district, and raised and kept up by their joint Labour; these are always without walls, and have generally a large Area on one side neatly inclosed with low pallisades, etc.

Their Canoes or Proes are built all of them very narrow, and some of the largest are 60 or 70 feet long. These consist of several pieces; the bottom is round and made of large logs hollow’d out to the thickness of about 3 Inches, and may consist of 3 or 4 pieces; the sides are of Plank of nearly the same thickness, and are built nearly perpendicular, rounding in a little towards the Gunwale. The pieces on which they are built are well fitted, and fastned or sewed together with strong platting something in the same manner as old China, Wooden Bowls, etc., are mended. The greatest breadth is at the after part, which is generally about 18 or 20 Inches, and the fore part about 1/3 Narrower; the heigth from the bottom to the Gunwale seldom exceeds 2 1/2 or 3 feet. They build them with high curv’d Sterns which are generally ornamented with carved work; the head or fore part curves little or nothing. The smaller Canoes are built after the same plan, some out of one, 2, or more trees according to their size or the use they are for. In order to prevent them from oversetting when in the Water, all those that go single, both great and Small, have what is called Outriggers, which are Pieces of Wood fastened to the Gunwale and project out on one side about 6, 8, or 10 feet, according to the size of the Boat. At the end is fastened in a Parrallel direction to the Canoe a long log of wood simply; or some have it Shaped in the form of a small Boat, but this is not common; this lays in the Water and Balances the Boat. Those that are for sailing have Outriggers only on the other side abreast of the Mast; these serves to fasten the Shrouds to, and are of use in Trimming the Boat when it blows fresh; the sailing proes have some one and some 2 masts; the sails are of Matting and are made narrow at the head and Square at the foot, something like a Shoulder of Mutton Sail, such as are generally used in Man-of-War Barges, etc.

I have mentioned above that the single Canoes have Outriggers, for those that go double–that is 2 together, which is very common–have no need of any; and it is done in this manner: 2 Canoes are placed in a parrallel direction to each other, about 3 or 4 feet asunder, securing them together by small Logs of Wood laid across and lashed to each of their gunwales; thus the one boat supports the other, and are not in the least danger of upsetting, and I believe it is in this manner that all their large Proes are used, some of which will carry a great number of Men, by means of a Platform made of Bamboo or other light wood and the whole length of the Proes and considerably broader, but I never saw but one fitted in this manner upon the whole Island. Upon the Forepart of all these large double Proes was placed an Oblong Platform about ten or twelve feet in length, and six or eight in Breadth, and supported about 4 feet above the Gunwale by stout Carved Pillars. The use of these Platforms, as we were told, are for the Club Men to stand and fight upon in time of Battle, for the large Canoes, from what I could learn, are built most, if not wholly, for war, and their method of fighting is to Graple one another and fight it out with Clubs, spears, and stones. I never saw but one of these sort of Canoes in the water, the rest was all hauled ashore and seemed to be going to decay, neither were there very many of them upon the Island.

The Chiefs and better sort of People generally go from one part of the island to another in small double Canoes which carry a little movable House, this not only Skreens them from the Sun by day, but serves them to Sleep in in the Night, and this way of Travelling is Extremely commodious about such Islands as are inclosed by a reef as this is; for as these Canoes draw but Little water they can always keep in the Reefs, and by that means are never in danger.

They have some few other Canoes, Pahees as they call them, which differ from those above discribed, but of these I saw but 6 upon the whole Island, and was told they were not built here. The 2 largest was each 76 feet long, and when they had been in use had been fastned together. These are built Sharp and Narrow at both Ends and broad in the Middle; the bottom is likewise Sharp, inclining to a Wedge, yet Buldges out very much and rounds in again very quick just below the Gunwale. They are built of several pieces of thick plank and put together as the others are, only these have timbers in the inside, which the others have not. They have high Curved Sterns, the head also Curves a little, and both are ornamented with the image of a man carved in wood, very little inferior work of the like kind done by common Ship Carvers in England.

When one Considers the Tools these people have one cannot help but admiring their workmanship; these are Adzes and small Hatchets made of a hard Stone, Chizels and Gouges made of human bones, generally the bones of the Forearm, but Spike Nails have pretty well supplyd the place of these. With these ordinary Tools, that a European would expect to break the first stroke, I have seen them work surprisingly fast. To plain or polish their work they rub upon it, with a small stone, Coral Beat small and Mixed with Water; this is done sometimes by scraping it with Shells, with which alone they perform most of their Small wood work.

Their Proes or Canoes, large and Small, are row’d and Steer’d with Paddles, and, notwithstanding the large ones appear to be very unweildy, they manage them very dexterously, and I believe perform long and distant Voyages in them, otherwise they could not have the knowledge of the Islands in these Seas they seem to have. They wear for Shew or Ornament at the Mast Head of most of their Sailing Canoes Pendants made of Feathers.

Having described their fighting Canoes I shall next describe their Arms with which they attack their Enemys, both by Sea and Land. These are Clubs, Spears or Lances, Slings and Stones which they throw by hand. The Clubs are made of a hard wood, and are about 8 or 9 feet long; the one half is made flatish with 2 Edges, and the other half is round and not thicker than to be easily grasped by the hand. The Lances are of various lengths, some from 12, 20 or 30 feet, and are generally Arm’d at the Small end with the Stings of Sting-rays, which makes them very dangerous weapons. Altho’ these people have Bows and Arrows–and those none of the worst–we are told that they never use them in their wars, which doubtless is very extraordinary and not easily accounted for. They have very Curious breastplates, made of small wickers, pieces of Matting, etc., and neatly Cover’d with Sharks’ teeth, Pearl Oyster shells, birds’ feathers, and dogs’ hair. Thus much for their Arms, etc.

I shall now describe their way of making Cloth, which, in my opinion, is the only Curious manufacture they have. All their Cloth is, I believe, made from the Bark of Trees; the finest is made from a plant which they Cultivate for no other purpose. Dr. Solander thinks it is the same plant the bark of which the Chinese make paper of. They let this plant grow till it is about 6 or 8 feet high, the Stem is then about as thick as one’s Thum or thicker; after this they cut it down and lay it a Certain time in water. This makes the Bark strip off easy, the outside of which is scraped off with a rough Shell. After this is done it looks like long strips of ragged linnen; these they lay together, by means of a fine paist made of some sort of a root, to the Breadth of a yard more or less, and in length 6, 8 or 10 Yards or more according to the use it is for. After it is thus put together it is beat out to its proper breadth and fineness, upon a long square piece of wood, with wooden beaters, the Cloth being keept wet all the time. The beaters are made of hard wood with four square sides, are about 3 or 4 inches broad and cut into grooves of different fineness; this makes the Cloth look at first sight as if it was wove with thread, but I believe the principal use of the Groves is to facilitate the beating it out, in the doing of which they often beat holes in it, or one place thinner than another; but this is easily repair’d by pasting on small bits, and this they do in such a manner that the Cloth is not the least injured. The finest sort when bleached is very white and comes nearest to fine Cotton. Thick cloth, especially fine, is made by pasting two or more thickness’s of thin cloth, made for that Purpose, together. Coarse thick cloth and ordinary thin cloth is made of the Bark of Bread fruit Trees, and I think I have been told that it is sometimes made from the Bark of other trees. The making of Cloth is wholy the work of the women, in which all ranks are employ’d. Their common colours are red, brown and yellow, with which they dye some pieces just as their fancy leads them. Besides Cloth they make several different sorts of matting, both better and finer than any we have in Europe; the stuff they make it on is the Produce of the Palm tree.

This Island produceth 2 or 3 sorts of plants, of which they make the rope they use in rigging their Canoes, etc.; the finest sort, such as fishing lines, saine twine, etc., is made of the Bark of a Tree, and some from the Kind of Silk grass. Their fishing lines and saines are in Point of goodness preferable to any of ours. Their fishing Hooks are very curiously made of Tortoise, Pearl Oyster Shells, etc. They have a sort of Saine that is made of Coarse broad grass like flags; these are twisted and tied together in a loose manner until the whole is as thick as a large sack, and 60 or 80 fathoms long. This they haul in Shoal smooth water; its own weight keeps it so close to the ground that hardly the smallest fish can escape out.

I have before mentioned that the Island is divided into two districts or kingdoms, which are frequently at war with each other, as hapned about 12 Months ago, and each of these are again divided into smaller districts, Whennuas as they call them. Over each of the kingdoms is an Eare dehi, or head, whom we call a King, and in the Whennuas are Eares, or Chiefs. The King’s power seems to be but very little; he may be reverenced as a father, but he is neither fear’d nor respected as a monarch, and the same may be said of the other Chiefs. However, they have a pre-eminence over the rest of the People, who pay them a kind of a Voluntary Obedience. Upon the whole, these people seem to enjoy liberty in its fullest extent–every man seems to be the sole judge of his own actions and to know no punishment but death, and this perhaps is never inflicted but upon a public enemy. There are 3 ranks of Men and Women: first, the Eares, or chiefs; second, the Manahoonas, or Middling sort; and lastly, the Toutous, which comprehend all the lower-class, and are by far the most numerous. These seem to live in some sort dependent on the Eares, who, together with the Manahoonas, own most, if not all the land. This is Hereditary in their families, and the moment the Heir is born he succeeds the Father, both in title and Estate; at least to the name, for its most likely that the latter must have the power during his Son or Daughter’s Minority.

Upon our arrival at Batavia, we were informed the two French Ships, commanded by the Monsieurs Beaugainvile, touched at that place in their way home from the South Seas two years ago. We were here told many circumstances of these two Ships, all tending to prove that they were the same ships that were at George’s Island, which we judged were Spaniards; being led into this mistake by the Spanish Iron, etc., we saw among the natives, which is easy accounted for, for we are told that while Beaugainvile in the Frigate was delivering up that part of Falkland Islands possess’d by the French, to the Spaniards, the Store ship was trading with the Spaniards in the River Plate, where it is very probable she disposed of all her European goods, and purchased others to trade with the Islands in the South Seas. To confirm these last circumstances we were told that when they arrived at Batavia, the Frigate had on board a great quantity of Spanish Dollars.

Having given the best account I can of the manners and Customs of these people, it will be expected that I should give some account of their religion, which is a thing I have learned so little of that I hardly dare to touch upon it, and should have passed it over in silence, was it not my duty as well as inclination to insert in this Journal every and the least knowledge I may obtain of a People, who for many Centuries have been shut up from almost every other part of the world.

They believe that there is one Supreem God whom they call Tane; from him sprung a number of inferior Deities, Eatuas as they call them–these they think preside over them and intermeddle in their affairs. To these they offer Oblations such as Hogs, Dogs, Fish, Fruit, etc., and invoke them on some particular occasions, as in time of real or Apparent Danger, the setting out of a long Voyage, sickness’s, etc.; but the Ceremony made use of on these occasions I know not. The Mories, which we at first thought were burying places, are wholy built for Places of worship, and for the Performing of religious ceremonies in. The Viands are laid upon altars erected 8, 12, or 12 Feet high, by stout Posts, and the Table of the Altar on which the Viands lay, is generally made of Palm leaves; they are not always in the Mories, but very often at some Distance from them. Their Mories, as well as the Tombs of the Dead, they seem to hold sacred, and the women never enter the former, whatever they may do the latter. The Viands laid near the Tombs of the Dead are, from what I can learn, not for the deceased, but as an Offering to the Eatua made upon that Occasion who, if not, would distroy the body and not except of the soul–for they believe of a future state of rewards and punishments; but what their Ideas are of it I know not. We have seen in some few places small Houses set apart on purpose for the Oblations offer’d to the Eatua, which consists of small strips of Cloth, Viands, etc. I am of Opinion they offer to the Eatua a Strip or small piece of every piece of Cloth they make before they use it themselves, and it is not unlikely but what they observe the same thing with respect to their Victuals, but as there are but few of these houses this cannot be a common Custom; it may only be observ’d by the Priests and such families as are more religious than others.

Now I have mentioned Priests, there are men that Exercise that function, of which Numbers Tupia is one. They seem to be in no great repute, neither can they live wholy by their Profession, and this leads me to think that these People are no bigots to their religion. The Priests on some occasions do the Office of Physicians, and their prescriptions consists in performing some religious ceremony before the sick person. They likewise Crown the Eare dehi, or King, in the performing of which we are told much form and Ceremony is used, after which every one is at liberty to treat and play as many Tricks with the new King as he pleaseth during the remainder of the day.

There is a ceremony which they perform at or after the Funerals of the Dead which I had forgot to mention at the time; we hapned to see it sometime before we left the Island. An old Woman, a relation of Toobouratomita’s, hapned to die and was interr’d in the Usual manner. For several successive evenings after, one of her relations dressed himself in a very odd dress, which I cannot tell how to describe or to convey a better Idea of it than to suppose a man dress’d with plumes of feathers, something in the same manner as those worn by Coaches, Hearses, Horses, etc., at the Funerals in London. It was very neatly made up of black or brown and white cloth, black and white feathers, and pearl Oyster Shells. It cover’d the head, face, and body, as low as the Calf of the Legs or lower, and not only looked grand but awful likewise. The man thus equip’d, and attended by 2 or 3 more men and Women with their faces and bodys besmear’d with soot, and a Club in their hands, would about sunset take a Compass of near a mile running here and there, and wherever they came the People would fly from them as tho’ they had been so many hobgoblins, not one daring to come in their way. I know not the reason for their Performing this ceremony, which they call Heiva, a name they give to most of their divertisements.

They compute time by the Moon, which they call Malama, reckoning 30 days to each moon, 2 of which they say the moon is Mattee, that is, dead, and this is at the time of the new moon, when she cannot be seen. The day they divide into smaller Portions not less than 2 Hours. Their computations is by units, tens, and scores, up to ten score, or 200, etc. In counting they generally take hold on their fingers one by one, Shifting from one hand to the other, until they come to the number they want to express; but if it be a high number, instead of their fingers they use pieces of Leaves, etc.

In conversation one with another they frequently join signs to their words, in which they are so expressive that a stranger will very soon comprehend their meaning by their actions.

Having now done with the People, I must once more return to the Island before I quit it altogether, which, notwithstanding nature hath been so very bountiful to it, yet it does not produce any one thing of intrinsick value or that can be converted into an Article of Trade; so that the value of the discovery consists wholy in the refreshments it will always afford to shipping in their passage through those seas; and in this it may be greatly improved by transporting hither horned cattle, etc. Pumpkins have got quite a footing here, the seeds of which most probably were brought here by the Spaniards. We sowed of the seeds of Water and Musk Mellons, which grew up and throve very fast. We also gave of these seeds and the seeds of Pine Apples to several of the Natives, and it cannot be doubted but what they will thrive here, and will be a great addition to the fruits they already have. Upon our first arrival we sowed of all sorts of English garden seeds and grain, but not a single thing came up except mustard sallad; but this I know was not owing either to the Soil or Climate, but to the badness of the seeds, which were spoil’d by the length of the Passage.

Altho’ this Island lies within the Tropick of Capricorn, yet the Heat is not Troublesome, nor do the winds blow constantly from the East, but are subject to variations, frequently blowing a fresh gale from the South-West Quarter for two or three days together, but very seldom from the North-West. Whenever these variable winds happen they are always accompanied with a swell from the South-West or West-South-West, and the same thing happens whenever it is calm and the Atmosphere at the same time loaded with Clouds–sure indication that the winds are Variable or Westerly out at Sea, for clear weather generally attends the settled Trade.

The meeting of Westerly winds within the general Limits of the Easterly Trade is a little extraordinary, and has induced former Navigators, when they met with them, to think that they were caused by the nearness of some large Tracks of Land: but I rather think they were owing to another Cause. It hath been found both by the Dolphin and us that the trade winds in those parts of this Sea doth not extend further to the Southward than 20 degrees, and without which we generally meet with a wind from the westward. Now, is it not reasonable to suppose that when these winds blow strong they must encroach upon and drive back the Easterly winds as to cause the variable winds and South-Westerly swells I have been speaking of? It is well known that the Trade winds blow but faint for some distance within their limits, and are therefore easily stopt by a wind from the Contrary direction. It is likewise known that these limits are subject to vary several degrees, not only at different seasons of the Year, but at one and the same season. Another reason why I think that these South-West winds are not caused by the nearness of any large Track of land, is in their being always accompanied with a large swell from the same Quarter, and we find a much greater surf beating upon the Shores of the South-West sides of the Islands situated just within the Limits of the Trade winds than upon any other part of them.

The tides are perhaps as inconsiderable in these Seas as in any part of the world. A South or South by West moon makes high water in Royal Bay, but the water does not rise upon a perpendicular above 10 or 12 inches, except on some very Extraordinary occasions.

The variation of the Compass I found to be 4 degrees 46 minutes Easterly, this being the mean result of a great number of Trials made by 4 of Dr. Knight’s needles belonging to the Azimuth Compasses, all of which I judged to be good ones, and yet when applied to the Meridian line I found them not only differ one from another sometimes a degree and a half; but the same needle would differ from itself more or less, the difference sometimes amounting to half a degree, both at the same time and on differant days. This will in a great measure account for the seeming errors that may, upon a nice examination, appear to have been made in observing the Variation inserted in the Course of this Journal. This variableness in Magnetick Needles I have many times and in many places experienced both ashore and on board of Ships, and I do not remember of ever finding two Needles that would agree exactly together at one and the same time and place, but I have often found the same Needle agree with itself for several Trials made immediately one after another. However, all this is of no sort of consequence to Navigation, as the Variation of the Compass can always be found to a degree of accuracy more than sufficient for all nautical Purposes.

I have before hinted that these People have an Extensive knowledge of the Islands situated in these Seas. Tupia, as well as several others, hath given us an account of upwards of 70; but, as the account they have given of their situation is so Vague and uncertain, I shall refer giving a list of them until I have learnt from Tupia the Situation of each island with a little more certainty. Four of these islands–viz., Huaheine, Ulietea, Otaha, and Bolabola–we were informed, lay only one or two days’ sail to the Westward of George’s Island, and that we might there procure Hogs, Fowls, and other refreshments, Articles that we have been very sparingly supply’d with at this last Island, as the Ship’s Company (what from the Constant hard duty they have had at this place, and the two free use of Woman) were in a worse state of health than they were on our first arrival, for by this Time full half of them had got the Venerial disease, in which Situation I thought they would be ill able to stand the Cold weather we might expect to meet with to the Southward at this Season of the Year, and therefore resolved to give them a little time to recover while we ran down to and explored the Islands before-mentioned.

Tupia informs us that in the Months of November, December, and January they have constant Westerly winds, with rain; also that the whole island can muster 6780 Fighting Men, by which some judgment can be formed of the number of inhabitants. Each district furnishes a certain number, which the chief is obliged to bring into the field when summoned by the Eare dehi, or King of the Island, either to make war or repell an invasion.


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