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The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
To Thomas Wilson, Esq.
As the following Journal was undertaken at your Request, and its principal Object to afford you some Amusement during your Hours of Relaxation, I shall esteem myself happy if it answers that Purpose.
I hope that the Specimens of Natural History may tend to the Promotion of your favourite Science, and that, on this Account, it will not be unacceptable to you. By the next Conveyance I trust I shall be enabled to make some Additions, that will not be unworthy the Attention of the Naturalists.
Let my present Communications, which the sudden sailing of the Ships from hence, and the Duties of my Department, have rendered less copious than I intended, at least serve to convince you of my Readiness at all Times to comply with your Wishes; and of the Respect and Esteem with which I am,
Your very obedient and humble servant,
Port Jackson, New South Wales,
November 18th, 1788.
It becomes the duty of the Editor, as much as it is his inclination, to return his public and grateful acknowledgments to the Gentlemen through whose abilities and liberal communications, in the province of Natural History, he has been enabled to surmount those difficulties that necessarily attended the description of so great a variety of animals, presented for the first time to the observation of the Naturalist, and consequently in the class of Non-descripts.
Among those Gentlemen he has the honour, particularly, to reckon the names of Dr. Shaw; Dr. Smith, the possessor of the celebrated Linnaean Collection; and John Hunter, Esq., who, to a sublime and inventive genius, happily unites a disinterested and generous zeal for the promotion of natural science.
The Public may rely, with the most perfect confidence, on the care and accuracy with which the drawings have been copied from nature, by Miss Stone, Mr. Catton, Mr. Nodder, and other artists; and the Editor flatters himself the Engravings are all executed with equal correctness, by, or under the immediate inspection of Mr. Milton. The Birds, etc. from which the drawings were taken are deposited in the Leverian Museum.
5th March. I this day left London, charged with dispatches from the Secretary of State’s office, and from the Admiralty, relative to the embarkation of that part of the marines and convicts intended for Botany Bay; and on the evening of the seventh, after travelling two days of the most incessant rain I ever remember, arrived at Plymouth, where the Charlotte and Friendship transports were in readiness to receive them.
General Collins, commander in chief at that port, lost no time in carrying the orders I had brought into execution: so that on the morning of the ninth the detachment of marines were on board, with all the baggage. But the next day being ushered in with a very heavy gale of wind, made it impracticable to remove the convicts from on board the Dunkirk prisonship, where they were confined. So violent was the gale, that his Majesty’s ship the Druid, of thirty-two guns, was forced to cut away her main-mast to prevent her driving on shore.
The weather being moderate the following day, the convicts were put on board the transports, and placed in the different apartments allotted for them; all secured in irons, except the women. In the evening, as there was but little wind, we were towed by the boats belonging to the guardships out of the Hamaoze, where the Dunkirk lay, into Plymouth Sound. When this duty was completed, the boats returned; and the wind now freshening so as to enable us to clear the land, we proceeded to Spithead, where we arrived the seventeenth, and anchored on the Mother Bank, among the rest of the transports and victuallers intended for the same expedition, under the conduct of his Majesty’s ship the Sirius.
As soon as the ship came to anchor, I visited all the other transports, and was really surprised to find the convicts on board them so very healthy. When I got on board the Alexander, I found there a medical gentleman from Portsmouth, among whose acquaintances I had not the honour to be numbered. He scarcely gave me time to get upon the quarter-deck before he thus addressed me — “I am very glad you are arrived, Sir; for your people have got a malignant disease among them of a most dangerous kind; and it will be necessary, for their preservation, to get them immediately relanded!”
Surprised at such a salutation, and alarmed at the purport of it, I requested of my assistant, Mr. Balmain, an intelligent young man, whom I had appointed to this ship for the voyage, to let me see the people who were ill.
“Sir,” returned Mr. Balmain, taking me aside, “you will not find things by any means so bad as this gentleman represents them to be; they are made much worse by him than they really are. Unlike a person wishing to administer comfort to those who are afflicted, either in body or in mind, he has publicly declared before the poor creatures who are ill, that they must inevitably fall a sacrifice to the malignant disorder with which they are afflicted; the malignity of which appears to me to exist only in his own imagination.
“I did not, however,” continued Mr. Balmain, “think proper to contradict the gentleman, supposing, from the consequence he assumed, and the ease with which he had given his opinion, or more properly his directions, that he was some person appointed by the Secretary of State to officiate for you till your arrival. When you go among the people you will be better able to judge of the propriety of what I have said.”
Mr. Balmain had no sooner concluded than I went between decks, and found every thing just as he had represented it to be. There were several in bed with slight inflammatory complaints; some there were who kept their bed to avoid the inconvenience of the cold, which was at this time very piercing, and whose wretched clothing was but a poor defence against the rigour of it; others were confined to their bed through the effects of long imprisonment, a weakened habit, and lowness of spirits; which was not a little added to by the declaration of the medical gentleman above mentioned, whom they concluded to be the principal surgeon to the expedition.
However, on my undeceiving them in that point, and at the same time confirming what Mr. Balmain had from the first told them, viz. that their complaints were neither malignant nor dangerous, their fears abated. To this I added, that I would immediately give orders for such as were in want of clothing, to be supplied with what was needful; a power delegated to me by Captain Phillip, together with the liberty of giving such other directions as I thought would tend to the recovery or preservation of their health. And, further, as they had been nearly four months on board, and during that time had been kept upon salt provisions, I would endeavour to get fresh for them while in port.
This short conversation had so sudden an effect on those I addressed, and was of so opposite a tendency to that of the gentleman alluded to, that before we got from between decks I had the pleasure to see several of them put on such clothes as they had, and look a little cheerful.
I then pointed out to Lieutenant Johnson, commanding officer of the marines on board, and to the master of the ship, the necessity there was of admitting the convicts upon the deck, one half at a time, during the course of the day, in order that they might breathe a purer air, as nothing would conduce more to the preservation of their health. To this these gentlemen readily assented; adding that they had no objection to the whole number coming upon deck at once, if I thought it necessary, as they were not apprehensive of any danger from the indulgence.
On returning to the quarter-deck, I found my new medical acquaintance still there; and before I could give some directions to Mr. Balmain, as I was about to do, he thus once more addressed me —“I suppose you are now convinced of the dangerous disease that prevails among these people, and of the necessity of having them landed, in order to get rid of it.”
Not a little hurt at the absurd part the gentleman had acted, and at his repeated importunity, I replied with some warmth, “that I was very sorry to differ so essentially in opinion from him, as to be obliged to tell him that there was not the least appearance of malignity in the disease under which the convicts laboured, but that it wholly proceeded from the cold; and was nearly similar to a complaint then prevalent, even among the better sort of people, in and about Portsmouth.”
Notwithstanding this, he still persisted so much in the propriety of their being landed, and the necessity there was for an application to the Secretary of State upon the occasion, that I could no longer keep my temper; and I freely told him, “that the idea of landing them was as improper as it was absurd. And, in order to make him perfectly easy on that head, I assured him that when any disease rendered it necessary to call in medical aid, he might rest satisfied I would not trouble him; but would apply to Doctor Lind, Physician to the Royal Hospital at Hasler, a gentleman as eminently distinguished for his professional abilities as his other amiable qualities; or else to some of the surgeons of his Majesty’s ships in Portsmouth harbour, or at Spithead, most of whom I had the pleasure of knowing, and on whose medical knowledge I was certain I could depend.”
This peremptory declaration had the desired effect. The gentleman took his leave, to my great satisfaction, and thereby gave me an opportunity of writing by that evening’s post, to inform the Secretary of State, and Captain Phillip, of the real state of the sick; and at the same time to urge the necessity of having fresh provisions served to the whole of the convicts while in port, as well as a little wine for those who were ill. Fresh provisions I dwelt most on, as being not only needful for the recovery of the sick, but otherwise essential, in order to prevent any of them commencing so long and tedious a voyage as they had before them with a scorbutic taint; a consequence that would most likely attend their living upon salt food; and which, added to their needful confinement and great numbers, would, in all probability, prove fatal to them, and thereby defeat the intention of Government.
The return of the post brought me an answer, and likewise an order to the contractor for supplying the marines and convicts daily with fresh beef and vegetables, while in port. A similar order I found had been given long before my arrival; but, by some strange mistake or other, had not been complied with.
The salutary effect of this change of diet, with the addition of some wine and other necessaries ordered for the sick, through the humanity of Lord Sydney, manifested itself so suddenly that in the space of a fortnight, on comparing my list of sick with that of a surgeon belonging to one of the guardships, allowing for the disproportion of numbers, mine did not exceed his. And yet, notwithstanding this, which is a well-known fact, the report of a most malignant disease still prevailed: and so industriously was the report promulgated and kept alive by some evilminded people, who either wished to throw an odium on the humane promoters of the plan, or to give uneasiness to the friends and relations of those engaged in the expedition, that letters from all quarters were pouring in upon us, commiserating our state.
The newspapers were daily filled with alarming accounts of the fatality that prevailed among us; and the rumour became general, notwithstanding every step was taken to remove these fears, by assurances (which were strictly true) that the whole fleet was in as good a state of health, and as few in it would be found to be ill, at that cold season of the year, as even in the most healthy situation on shore.
The clearest testimony that there was more malignity in the report than in the disease, may be deduced from the very inconsiderable number that have died since we left England; which I may safely venture to say is much less than ever was known in so long a voyage (the numbers being proportionate), even though not labouring under the disadvantages we were subject to, and the crowded state we were in.
During the absence of Captain Phillip, I mentioned to Captain Hunter, of the Sirius, that I thought whitewashing with quick lime the parts of the ships where the convicts were confined, would be the means of correcting and preventing the unwholesome dampness which usually appeared on the beams and sides of the ships, and was occasioned by the breath of the people. Captain Hunter agreed with me on the propriety of the step: and with that obliging willingness which marks his character, made the necessary application to commissioner Martin; who, on his part, as readily ordered the proper materials. The process was accordingly soon finished; and fully answered the purpose intended.
12th May. His Majesty’s ship the Hyaena joined us this day, and put herself under the command of Captain Phillip, who had instructions to take her with him as far as he should think needful. In the evening the Sirius made the signal to weigh, and attempted to get down to St. Helen’s; but the wind shifting, and several of the convoy not getting under way, through some irregularity in the seamen, she was obliged to anchor. When this was done, Captain Phillip sent Lieutenant King on board the ships which had occasioned the detention, who soon adjusted the difficulties that had arisen, as they were found to proceed more from intoxication than from any nautical causes.
13th May. This morning the Sirius and her convoy weighed again, with an intention of going through St. Helen’s; but the wind being fair for the Needles, we ran through them, with a pleasant breeze. The Charlotte, Captain Gilbert, on board of which I was, sailing very heavy, the Hyaena took us in tow, until she brought us ahead of the Sirius, and then cast us off.
15th May. An accident of a singular nature happened to-day. Corporal Baker of the marines, on laying a loaded musquet down, which he had just taken out of the arms chest, was wounded by it in the inner ankle of the right foot. The bones, after being a good deal shattered, turned the ball, which, taking another direction, had still force enough left to go through a harnesscask full of beef, at some distance, and after that to kill two geese that were on the other side of it. Extraordinary as this incident may appear, it is no less true. The corporal being a young man, and in a good habit of body, I had the pleasure, contrary to the general expectation, of seeing him return to his duty in three months, with the perfect use of the wounded joint.
20th May. A discovery of a futile scheme, formed by the convicts on board the Scarborough, was made by one of that body, who had been recommended to Captain Hunter previous to our sailing. They had laid a plan for making themselves masters of the ship; but being prevented by this discovery, two of the ringleaders were carried on board the Sirius, where they were punished; and afterwards put on board the Prince of Wales transport, from which time they behaved very well. Being now near one hundred leagues to the westward of Scilly, and all well, Captain Phillip found it no longer necessary to keep the Hyaena with him; therefore, having committed his letters to the care of the Hon. Captain De Courcey, he in the course of this day sent her back.
28th May. Departed this life, Ismael Coleman, a convict, who, worn out by lowness of spirits and debility, brought on by long and close confinement, resigned his breath without a pang.
30th May. In the forenoon passed to the southward of Madeira, and saw some turtle of the hawks-bill kind.
2nd June. Saw and passed the Salvages. These islands are not laid down in any of the charts we had on board, except a small one, by Hamilton Moore, in the possession of the second mate. They lie, by our observation, in lat. 30°10’N. long. 15°9’W.
3rd June. This evening, after seeing many small fish in our way from the Salvages, we arrived at Teneriffe, and anchored in Santa Cruz road, about a mile to the N.E. of the town of that name, in sixteen fathom water; some of the ships came to in twenty fathom. We were visited the same night, as is the custom of the port, by the harbour master, and gained permission to water and procure such refreshments as the island afforded. The marines were now served with wine in lieu of spirits; a pound of fresh beef was likewise daily distributed to them as well as to the convicts, together with a pound of rice instead of bread, and such vegetables as could be procured. Of the latter indeed the portion was rather scanty, little besides onions being to be got; and still less of fruit, it being too early in the season.
4th June. Captain Phillip, as governor of his Majesty’s territories in New South Wales, and commander in chief of the expedition, accompanied by twenty of the principal officers, paid his respects to the Marquis de Brancifort, governor of this and the other Canary islands. We were received by his Excellency with great politeness and cordiality; and, after the ceremony of introduction was over, he entered into familiar conversation with Captain Phillip on general topics. In person the Marquis is genteel; he is rather above the middle size, but cannot boast of much embonpoint; his countenance is animated; his deportment easy and graceful; and both his appearance and manners perfectly correspond with the idea universally entertained of the dignity of a grandee of Spain. This accomplished nobleman, as I have been informed, is not a Spaniard by birth, but a Sicilian; and descended from some of the princes of that island. On this ancestry and descent, it is visible that he prides himself not a little. The people he is placed over will have it that he carries himself with too much stateliness to be long a favourite there; they cannot, however, help acknowledging that he preserves a degree of disinterestedness, moderation, and justice, in his conduct towards them, that is not to be objected to.
6th June. A convict, named James Clark, died of a dropsy; he had been tapped ten days before, and discharged twelve quarts of water.
8th June. During the night, while the people were busily employed in taking in water on board the Alexander, a service in which some of the convicts assisted, one of them, of the name of Powel, found means to drop himself unperceived into a small boat that lay along-side; and under cover of the night to cast her off without discovery. He then drifted to a Dutch East Indiaman that had just come to an anchor, to the crew of which he told a plausible story and entreated to be taken on board; but, though they much wanted men, they would have nothing to do with him. Having committed himself again to the waves, he was driven by the wind and the current, in the course of the night, to a small island lying to leeward of the ships, where he was the next morning taken. The boat and oars, which he could not conceal, led to a discovery; otherwise he would probably have effected his escape. When brought back by the party sent after him, Captain Phillip ordered him into irons, in which state he remained for some time; but at length, by an artful petition he got written for him, he so wrought on the governor’s humanity as to procure a release from his confinement.
As you approach the island of Teneriffe, and even when you are near to it, the appearance from the sea conveys no very favourable idea of its fertility, one rugged, barren hill or mountain terminating in another, until it forms the famous Peak. The town of Santa Cruz is large and populous, but very irregular and ill built; some of the private houses, however, are spacious, convenient, and well constructed. Although this town is not considered as the capital, Laguna enjoying that pre-eminence, yet I cannot help thinking it ought to be so; not only from its being more frequented by ships of various nations, and having a greater share of trade than any other port in the Canaries, but on account of its being the residence of the governor-general.
Among other steps for its improvement, the Marquis set on foot a contribution, and from the produce of it has caused to be built an elegant and commodious mole, or pier, about the center of the town. To this pier, water of an excellent quality is conveyed by pipes; so that boats may come along-side, and by applying a hose to the cocks, placed there for this purpose, fill the casks without the usual trouble and fatigue. The landing or shipping of goods is likewise, by means of this pier, rendered both convenient and expeditious. In short, I think I may safely recommend this port as a very good one for ships undertaking long voyages to water at and refresh their crews, more especially in the time of the fruit season.
About four or five miles, inland, from Santa Cruz, stands the city of Laguna, so called from a lake near which it is situated. This lake, during the winter, or in rainy weather, is full of stagnant water, that in a little time becomes putrid, and, in very dry hot weather, is totally exhaled. I have before observed, that Laguna is considered as the capital of the island, and added my reasons for thinking this an ill-judged distinction. The road from Santa Cruz to it is a pretty steep ascent until you approach the town, which is situated at the extremity, or rather on a corner, of a plain three or four miles long. This city has two churches, one of them richly ornamented; and several convents both of friars and nuns. It has likewise three hospitals; two of which were originally instituted for the wise, but ineffectual, purpose of eradicating the lues venerea; a disease that has long been, and still continues to be, very common in this island. I was, however, informed that persons afflicted with other disorders are now received into these two charitable institutions; and that the third is appropriated to the reception of foundlings.
Besides the foregoing, there are some other public, as well as private buildings, that tend to improve the appearance of the town. There is very little trade carried on at Laguna, it being rather the retired residence of the gentry of the island, and of the merchants of Santa Cruz, which is the principal seat of commerce. The officers of justice likewise reside here; such as the corrigedor, lieutenant of the police, etc. and a judge whose business it is to regulate commercial affairs. An office of inquisition, with the proper officers, delegated from, and subject to, the tribunal of the holy office held at Grand Canary, is besides established here.
The present natives of this island seem to have in them very little of the stock from whence they sprung; intermarriages with the Spaniards have nearly obliterated all traces of the original stamina: they are of a middle stature, inclining to be slender, and of a dark complexion, with large animated black eyes. The peasants in general are wretchedly clothed; when they do appear better, they are habited in the Spanish fashion. The men in a genteeler line dress very gaily, and are seldom seen without long swords. It is remarked that few of them walk with dignity and ease; which may be attributed to the long cloaks they usually wear, except on particular occasions.
The women wear veils: those worn by the lower ranks are of black stuff, those of the higher, of black silk; and such among the latter as have any claim to beauty, are far from being over careful in concealing their faces by them. The young ladies, some of whom I saw that were really pretty, wear their fine long black hair plaited, and fastened with a comb, or a ribbon, on the top of the head.
The common people, and in this they resemble the inhabitants of most of the islands in the Pacific Ocean lately discovered, have a strong spice of furacity in them; they are besides lazy; and the most importunate beggars in the world: I observed likewise, that the itch was so common among them, and had attained such a degree of virulence, that one would almost be led to believe it was epidemic there.
Some of the women are so abandoned and shameless that it would be doing an injustice to the prostitutes met with in the streets of London to say they are like them. The females of every degree are said to be of an amorous constitution, and addicted to intrigue, for which no houses could be better adapted than those in Teneriffe.
The manufactures carried on here are very few, and the product of them little more than sufficient for their own consumption. They consist of taffeties, gauze, coarse linens, blankets, a little silk, and curious garters. The principal dependance of the inhabitants is on their wine (their staple commodity), oil, corn, and every kind of stock for shipping. With these the island abounds, and, in their season, produces not only the tropical fruits but the vegetable productions of the European gardens in the greatest plenty.
Teneriffe enjoys an agreeable and healthful mediocrity of climate. Indeed I know of none better adapted for the restoration of a valetudinarian; as, by going into the mountains, he may graduate the air, and chuse that state of it which best suits his complaint. But although the inhabitants are thus healthy, and have so little occasion for medical aid, they loudly complain of the want of knowledge in the professional gentlemen of the island.
The present governor has established a manufactory of silk and woollen goods in the suburbs of Santa Cruz, which is carried on by poor children, old and infirm people, and by abandoned females, with a view to reclaiming them: an institution that will ever do honour both to his excellency and to those who have liberally aided him in so laudable a scheme.
Like the inhabitants of most catholic countries, the people of this island are very profuse in decorating their churches, and even their dwellinghouses, on the festivals held in honour of their saints. This being Corpus Christi, a day of much solemnity and parade, I went on shore with Lieutenant Ball of the Supply to see the procession incident to the occasion. Before we landed we formed a resolution to avoid, as much as lay in our power, giving offence even to the most zealous devotee. But we found this was not to be done.
When we arrived at the church, from whence the procession commenced, the Host was just making its appearance, a circumstance that is announced by ringing of bells and firing of guns. As it passed by us we fell on our knees, as we observed those around us to do; but, it unfortunately happening that the spot we knelt upon consisted of sand intermixed with small rough pebbles, the posture we were in soon became so exceedingly painful that, in order to procure a momentary ease, we only let one knee remain on the ground. This heretical act did not escape the observation of one of the holy fathers, all of whom were intent on the exact performance of every ceremonious etiquette. It procured for us a frown from him, and treatment that was not of the most civil kind; so that, in order to pacify him, we again dropped on both knees. He did not, however, pass on, without exhibiting strong marks of ill-nature and resentment in his countenance, at this trivial and unintended breach of respectful attention to the religious rights of the country.
The procession, in which the governor and all the principal inhabitants joined, having passed through most of the streets, returned, with the same solemnity, to the church it had set out from, which was richly ornamented and splendidly illuminated with large wax tapers upon the occasion.
During our stay here, his excellency the governor entertained Captain Phillip and all the officers belonging to the expedition with a very elegant dinner.
Before we sailed from the Motherbank, a sporatic disease had appeared among the marines and convicts. On its first appearance it resembled the mumps, or swellings of the chaps; and as that distemper sometimes terminates in a translation of the inflammation to the testicles, so this complaint (after the swelling and induration of the jaws had subsided, which usually happened on the sixth or seventh day) never in one instance failed to fix on those parts; and that in so very obstinate a manner as not to give way to the treatment generally found effectual in similar inflammations. One of the convicts, thus affected, was seized with an intermitting fever: between the paroxysm I gave him an emetic, which had such a sudden and wonderful effect on this strange complaint that I was induced to repeat it; and I found it effectual in this, as well as in all subsequent cases.
As soon as we got to sea, the motion of the ship acted on all those who were affected, to the number of seventeen, in a most surprising and extraordinary manner. Indeed it was so sudden that it was like a placebo. I could never account, with any satisfaction to myself, for the origin of this uncommon disease, though much acquainted with those incident to seamen; nor did I ever see or hear of any that resembled it. The most steady and prudent of the mariners, even those who had their wives on board, were equally affected with those who led more irregular lives.
At first I attributed it to the verdigrease that might gather on the copper utensils wherein the provisions were cooked; but I am now fully persuaded that this was not the source from which it proceeded; for at the very time it was most prevalent, and attended with the greatest degree of inveteracy, the coppers were cleaned, and made as bright as they could be, every day, under my own inspection. Another proof, and a very strong one, that it did not proceed from the before-mentioned cause is that the provisions still continued to be dressed in the same coppers, when the smallest trace of the disease was no longer to be perceived; which was the case after being four or five days at sea.
9th June. P.M. The Sirius made the signal for all officers to repair on board their respective ships; an officer was likewise sent to the governor to inform him that we intended to put to sea in the morning, and, at the same time, to thank him for the civilities and politeness he had shown us. His excellency returned, in answer to this message, that his best and most sincere good wishes should attend us, and that he should ever feel a very particular interest in our success, which he hoped would answer the intention of government and the expectations of those who had so cheerfully entered as volunteers on so novel and very uncertain a service.
10th June. This morning the fleet got under way with a light breeze, which carried us out of Santa Cruz, but left us two days becalmed between Teneriffe and the Grand Canary. After this a fine breeze sprung up from the north-east; and no occurrence worthy of notice happened for some days. We crossed the tropical line in 18°20’ west longitude, and was nearly pressed on board the Lady Penrhyn transport, whose people did not attend to her steerage, being deeply engaged in sluicing and ducking all those on board who had never crossed it.
17th June. In the morning saw a strange sail to the northward, and at night the Sirius made the signal for the convoy to shorten sail.
18th June. Early this morning the Sirius threw out the Supply’s signal to make sail, and look out ahead. She immediately obeyed, and at eight o’clock made the signal for seeing land, which was repeated by the Sirius to the convoy. At eleven we passed the Isle of Sal, in lat. 16°38’N. long. 22°5’W., and in the evening Bonavista; two of the Cape de Verd islands, a cluster of islands so called from a cape of that name situated opposite to them on the continent of Africa. We passed the latter island so close, that we saw the breakers which endangered Captain Cook’s ship in his last voyage.² It blew at the time pretty fresh, and was so hazy that we could make no other observation than that the land was high, and the shore (what we could perceive of it through the haze, for the horizon line did not exceed two miles) had a white appearance, as if sand or chalk cliffs. At six in the evening, the Sirius made a signal for the convoy to observe a close order of sailing, and to shorten sail for the night; and at twelve, running under an easy sail, she made the signal for the ships to bring to, with their heads to the south-east.
19th June. At day-break we made sail, the Supply being ahead on the look-out. At eight o’clock she made the signal for seeing land; which proved to be the isle of Mayo, another of the Cape de Verd islands, lying in lat. 15°10’N. long. 23°W. The Sirius now made the signal to prepare to anchor; which was followed by one that the boats from the victuallers and transports may land, as soon as the ships came to an anchor, without asking permission as at Teneriffe. We ran down the east side of the island, close in with the shore, on which we could perceive a high surf, or rather the sea, breaking violently among the rocks. The haze still continued so thick that we could only observe the shore to be rough, craggy, and bold, and that several parts of the island seemed high and mountainous. At twelve, through the haze, saw the island of Saint Jago, the principal of the Cape de Verd islands, lying in lat. 14°54’N. long. 23°29’W.
Half after one, the Sirius leading into Port Praya Bay, on a sudden brought to, as we imagined, to wait for the sternmost ships, which, as they all came up, likewise brought to, on the outside of the entrance into the bay. After the preparations which had been made for anchoring, and the disposition shown by the Sirius to run in, we were not a little surprised to see her, at two o’clock, throw out the signal for the convoy to keep nearer the commanding officer; then make sail and bear away, steering south-west. At six in the evening we lost sight of the island, running with a smart top-gallant, and steering sail, breeze at north-east.
A small Portugueze brig lay at anchor in Port Praya, which was the only vessel of any kind at that time there. This bay is rendered memorable by the action that took place there, on the 16th of April 1781, between Commodore Johnstone and Monsieur Suffrein; in giving an account of which, the French admiral (in a letter said to be written by him) humorously thus observes: “In leading into the bay, I was some time at a loss to distinguish which was the commodore’s ship: but on getting more in, I at length saw his pendant blushing through a forest of masts; the Romney being securely placed in shore of the merchant ships and smaller men of war.”
The entrance into this bay appeared to be about a mile, between two bluff points, which makes it secure from every wind except a southerly one; and when that prevails a very high sea tumbles into it. On an eminence, in the center of the bay, stands a fort, where the Portugueze colours were displayed. Many people appeared on the batteries, looking at the ships; which were probably more in number than had been seen there since the memorable 16th of April.
The appearance of the town and the island, from the distant view we had, gave us no very favourable opinion of them. The face of the country seemed to be sterile in the extreme. The lifeless brown of the Isle of Mayo, described by Captain Cook, may very well be applied to this island; for as far as my eye or glass could reach, not the smallest trace of vegetation or verdure was to be perceived, except at the west end of the fort, on the left side of the bay, where a few trees of the cocoa-nut or palm kind appeared. But, notwithstanding the sterile picture it exhibits when viewed from the sea, geographers, and those who have been on shore, describe it to be, in many places, well cultivated and very fertile; producing sugar canes, a little wine, some cotton, Indian corn, cocoa nuts, and oranges, with all the other tropical fruits in great plenty; and point it out as a place where ships bound on long voyages may be conveniently supplied with water, and other necessaries, such as fowls, goats, and hogs; all of which are to be purchased at a very easy rate.
20th June. This evening, standing to the southward with all sail; the wind moderate; the air warm and damp, with haze; the Sirius made the Alexander’s signal, who had dropped considerably astern, and reprimanded the master for hoisting out a boat without permission. The two following days the weather was moderately warm, with some flashes of lightning.
23rd June. The weather became exceedingly dark, warm, and close, with heavy rain, a temperature of the atmosphere very common on approaching the equator, and very much to be dreaded, as the health is greatly endangered thereby. Every attention was therefore paid to the people on board the Charlotte, and every exertion used to keep her clean and wholesome between decks. My first care was to keep the men, as far as was consistent with the regular discharge of their duty, out of the rain; and I never suffered the convicts to come upon deck when it rained, as they had neither linen nor clothing sufficient to make themselves dry and comfortable after getting wet: a line of conduct which cannot be too strictly observed, and enforced, in those latitudes.
To this, and to the frequent use of oil of tar, which was used three times a week, and oftener if found necessary, I attribute, in a great degree, the uncommon good health we enjoyed. I most sincerely wish oil of tar was in more general use throughout his Majesty’s navy than it is. If it were, I am certain that the advantage accruing from it to the health of seamen, that truly useful and valuable class of the community, and for whose preservation too much cannot be done, would soon manifest itself. This efficacious remedy wonderfully resists putrefaction, destroys vermin and insects of every kind; wherever it is applied overcomes all disagreeable smells; and is in itself both agreeable and wholesome.
In the evening it became calm, with distant peals of thunder, and the most vivid flashes of lightning I ever remember. The weather was now so immoderately hot that the female convicts, perfectly overcome by it, frequently fainted away; and these faintings generally terminated in fits. And yet, notwithstanding the enervating effects of the atmospheric heat, and the inconveniences they suffered from it, so predominant was the warmth of their constitutions, or the depravity of their hearts, that the hatches over the place where they were confined could not be suffered to lay off, during the night, without a promiscuous intercourse immediately taking place between them and the seamen and marines.
What little wind there was, which was only at intervals, continuing adverse, and the health of these wretches being still endangered by the heat, Captain Phillip, though anxious to prevent as much as possible this intercourse, gave an order, on my representing the necessity of it, that a grating should be cut, so as to admit a small wind sail being let down among them. In some of the other ships, the desire of the women to be with the men was so uncontrollable, that neither shame (but indeed of this they had long lost sight), nor the fear of punishment, could deter them from making their way through the bulk heads to the apartments assigned the seamen.
25th June. Still inclinable to calms, in lat. 8°30’N. long. 22°36’W. we perceived a strong current setting to the north-west; so that on the following day, though by our log we had run thirty miles south by east, yet by observation we found ourselves in lat. 8°45’; which shows the current against us to be nearly a knot an hour. I visited the different transports, and found the troops and convicts from the very great attention paid to cleanliness, and airing the ships, in much better health than could be expected in such low latitudes and unfavourable weather.
27th June. Still calm, with loud thunder and incessant heavy rain.
28th June. A gentle breeze sprung up to the westward, and the next day, about eleven in the forenoon, we saw a strange sail standing to the south-west. At twelve she tacked, stood towards us, and hoisted Portugueze colours. The Sirius spoke her, after which we all made sail again, steering south-east by east.
2nd July. The wind continuing southerly, in latitude 6°36’N. and being still so far to the eastward as 20°23’W. longitude, the Sirius made the signal for the convoy to tack, and stood to the westward. This day we saw some remarkable flights of flying fish; they were so very numerous as to resemble flights of small birds. The poor creatures were so closely pursued, on all sides, by their common enemy, bonitoes, albacores, and skip-jacks, that their wings availed them little.
The succeeding night was a continuation of heavy rain. Every evening, while we continued between nine and six degrees of north latitude, we were baffled with calms, and adverse winds. For seven days together I observed that each day generally closed with heavy rains and some squalls of wind, which were always remarked to be from the northward.
5th July. The wind south-west by south, the fleet tacked by signal and stood to the eastward. In the evening, a more numerous shoal of porpoises than ever remembered to be seen by the oldest seaman on board, presented themselves to our view. They were, as we conjectured, in pursuit of some wounded fish; and so very intent were they on the object of their chase that they passed through the fleet, and close to some of the ships, without showing any disposition to avoid them. The sailors and mariners compared them to a numerous pack of hounds, scouring through watery ground; and, indeed, when the rays of the sun beamed upon them I know not what they resembled more.
The weather being moderate, I went round the ships, and was really surprised, considering the damp and unfavourable weather we had had, to find the people look so well, and to be in so good a state of health.
6th July. In lat. 5°38’N. long. 21°39’W. the wind S.S.W. we tacked by signal, and in the course of the day spoke a sloop bound to the coast of Africa, belonging to the house of Mether in London; had been out four months, and was then standing to the westward.
The wind continuing adverse, and the fleet making little progress in their voyage, Captain Phillip put the officers, seamen, marines, and convicts to an allowance of three pints of water per day (not including a quart allowed each man a day for boiling pease and oatmeal); a quantity scarcely sufficient to supply that waste of animal spirits the body must necessarily undergo, in the torrid zone, from a constant and violent perspiration, and a diet consisting of salt provisions.² Necessity, however, has no law in this instance as well as in every other; and I am fully persuaded the commander acted upon this occasion from the best of motives, and for the good of the whole.
Were it by any means possible, people subject to long voyages should never be put to a short allowance of water; for I am satisfied that a liberal use of it (when freed from the foul air, and made sweet by a machine now in use on board his Majesty’s navy) will tend to prevent a scorbutic habit, as much, if not more, than any thing we are acquainted with. My own experience in the navy has convinced me that when scorbutic patients are restrained in the use of water (which I believe is never the case but through absolute necessity), and they have nothing to live on but the ship’s provision, the surgeon’s necessaries being ill-chosen and very inadequate to the wise and salutary purposes for which government intended them, all the antiseptics and antiscorbutics we know of will avail very little in a disease so much to be guarded against, and dreaded, by seamen.
In one of his Majesty’s ships, I was liberally supplied with that powerful antiscorbutic, essence of malt; we had also sour krout; and, besides these, every remedy that could be comprised in the small compass of a medicine chest; yet when necessity forced us to a short allowance of water, although aware of the consequence, I freely administered the essence, etc. as a preservative, the scurvy made its appearance with such hasty and rapid strides, that all attempts to check it proved fruitless, until good fortune threw a ship in our way, who spared us a sufficient quantity of water to serve the sick with as much as they could use, and to increase the ship’s allowance to the seamen.
This fortunate and very seasonable supply, added to the free use of the essence of malt, etc. which I had before strictly adhered to, made in a few days so sudden a change for the better in the poor fellows, who had been covered with ulcers and livid blotches, that every person on board was surprised at it: and in a fortnight after, when we got into port, there was not a man in the ship, though, at the time we received the water, the gums of some of them were formed into such a fungus as nearly to envelope the teeth, but what had every appearance of health.
7th July. Dark, cloudy, unpleasant, sultry weather; the wind south by east. We saw many fish, and caught two bonitoes. The boat-swain struck, with a pair of grains, out of the cabin window, a most beautiful fish, about ten pounds weight. In shape it a good deal resembled a salmon, with this difference, that its tail was more forked. It was in colour of a lovely yellow; and when first taken out of the water, it had two beautiful stripes of green on each side, which, some minutes after, changed to a delightful blue, and so continued. In the internal formation of this fish I observed nothing particular, except that its heart was larger, and its respirations contracted and dilated longer, than I had ever seen before in any aquatic animal, a tortoise not excepted. As we were at a loss what appellation to give it, having never met with a fish of this species, and it being a non-descript, the sailors gave it the name of the Yellow Tail.
8th July. The wind still S. by E. in lat. 4°36’N. long. 23°W. we saw a large vessel standing to the northward under a press of sail. Her colours, though at a considerable distance, were judged to be Imperial. Again saw fish of various kinds in chase of the flying fish, whose enemies seem to be innumerable. In order to avoid being devoured by their pursuers, they frequently sought for shelter in the ships, but much oftener flew with such force against their sides as to drop lifeless into the water. We caught three fine bonitoes, and thereby rid the poor flying fish, whose wings seemed to excite the enmity of all the larger finny race, of three formidable enemies.
9th and 10th July. Caught a great number of fish, as did the Alexander, who was near us. At night, in the wake of the ship the sea appeared quite luminous; a phaenomenon we attributed to the spawn of the fish which surrounded us on all sides.
14th July. About five in the evening we crossed the equator, without any wish or inclination being shewn by the seamen to observe the ceremony usually practised in passing under it. The longitude was 26°37’W. the wind at east, the weather moderate and clear. In lat. 1°24’S. long. 26°22’W. the boatswain caught sixteen fine bonitoes, which proved a very seasonable and acceptable supply.
At night the sea, all around the ship, exhibited a most delightful sight. This appearance was occasioned by the gambols of an incredible number of various kinds of fish, who sported about us, and whose sudden turnings caused an emanation which resembled flashes of lightning darting in quick succession. What I before spoke of as the spawn, I am now fully convinced were rather the fish themselves, turning up their white bellies at some little distance below the surface of the water, and these sudden evolutions were what gave the sea the luminous appearance observed on it before.
I can the more readily affirm this to be the cause, as, one evening, when we had immense quantities about us, I carefully attended to them till it became dark, and was fully satisfied, from the observations I was then able to make, that it was the fish, and not the spawn, which occasioned the appearance; for there was not an officer or person on board but what was able very plainly to perceive their frolicsome turnings and windings. Indeed, some of them came so near the surface that we frequently attempted to strike them with a pair of grains.
18th July. Being informed that several of the mariners and convicts on board the Alexander were suddenly taken ill, I immediately visited that ship, and found that the illness complained of was wholly occasioned by the bilge water, which had by some means or other risen to so great a height that the pannels of the cabin, and the buttons on the clothes of the officers, were turned nearly black by the noxious effluvia. When the hatches were taken off, the stench was so powerful that it was scarcely possible to stand over them.
How it could have got to this height is very strange; for I well know that Captain Phillip gave strict orders (which orders I myself delivered) to the masters of the transports to pump the ships out daily, in order to keep them sweet and wholesome; and it was added that if the ships did not make water enough for that purpose they were to employ the convicts in throwing water into the well, and pumping it out again, until it become clear and untinged. The people’s health, however, being endangered by the circumstance, I found a representation upon the subject to Captain Phillip needful, and accordingly went on board the Sirius for that purpose.
Captain Phillip, who upon every occasion showed great humanity and attention to the people, with the most obliging readiness sent Mr. King, one of his lieutenants, on board the Alexander with me, in order to examine into the state of the ship, charging him, at the same time, with the most positive and pointed instructions to the master of the ship instantly to set about sweetening and purifying her. This commission Mr. King executed with great propriety and expedition; and, by the directions he gave, such effectual means were made use of, that the evil was soon corrected: and not long after all the people, who, suffering from the effects of it, were under Mr. Balmain, my assistant’s care, got quite rid of the complaint.
I now returned to the Sirius and solicited an increase of water, which Captain Phillip with equal readiness complied with; and as we had by this time got into a regular south-east trade wind our allowance served tolerably well, every man having three quarts a day.
22d July. The weather moderate and cloudy, in lat. 9°6’S. long. 26°4’W. we saw a noddy and two pintado birds. At night, the commanding officer of marines having re ceived information that three men had made their way, through the hole cut for the admission of the windsail, into the apartment of the female convicts, against an express order issued for that purpose, he apprehended them, and put them in confinement for trial.
23d July. The weather being dark and cloudy, with heavy rain and strong breezes, the Sirius carried away her main-topsail-yard, in the slings, which, however, in a little time she got replaced. In the evening we saw some grampuses sporting about.
26th July. In latitude 15°18’ south, the Sirius made the signal for the longitude by lunar observation, which was found to be 29°34’W. Strong breezes and cloudy weather. The Borrowdale victualler carried away her foretop-gallant-mast. This evening we observed some flying fish, very different from those we had before seen. They had wings on both the head and tail, and when in the act of flying were said by our people to resemble a double- headed shot. About six o’clock the Alexander brought to, and hoisted out a boat in order to pick up a man who had fallen overboard from the spanker boom; but, as he sunk before the boat could reach him, the attempt proved ineffectual.
27th July. The Sirius made the signal to close and keep nearer the commanding officer. The weather rainy and unsettled, with strong breezes and a heavy swell from the eastward.
28th July. Fresh breezes and cloudy weather. At ten in the morning the Sirius made the Supply’s signal to come within hail, and desired the commanding officer to acquaint the different transports that in the track we then were, lat. 18°9’S. long. 28°2’W., there were some sunken rocks, for which we were directed to keep a good look-out. This signal was followed by one for the ships to take their proper stations in the order of sailing, and for the Lady Penrhyn, who was considerably to windward, and astern withal, to come into the wake of the Sirius. After these orders were complied with, we bore away, steering S. by W., the wind E.S.E.
30th July. The Supply hailed us, and acquainted me that a female convict, on board the Prince of Wales, had met with an accident which endangered her life. It being then nearly dark, and the ships making quick way through the water, it was judged imprudent to hoist a boat out. Lieutenant Ball, of the Supply, therefore promised to send a boat early in the morning, in order that I might go and see her: but it was then too late, as she died in the night. Her death was occasioned by a boat, which rolled from the booms, and jammed her in a most shocking manner against the side of the ship.
1st August. In latitude 22°39’S. Captain Phillip for the first time displayed his broad pendant; and in the evening made the signal for the longitude, which, being considerably astern, we could not discern.
2nd August. Early in the morning we passed and spoke a Portugueze brig steering the same course with us, which was to the coast of Brazil. She sailed so very dull that we passed her as if she lay at anchor, although we had not a fast sailing ship in the fleet. At eight in the morning saw a ganet, which are seldom seen out of soundings.
Being now in expectation of soon seeing land, the commodore made the Supply’s signal to look out ahead, and the Alexander’s and Prince of Wales’s to take their station in the order of sailing, being too far ahead. At three in the afternoon the Supply made the signal for seeing land, which was repeated by the commodore to the convoy. At nine at night, being well in with Cape Frio, we shortened sail, running at an easy rate until morning, when the wind was little and variable.
3rd August. This evening, finding it impossible to get hold of anchorage, the commodore dispatched Lieutenant King in the Supply, which sailed well in light winds, to the viceroy, with information that he was, with his convoy, arrived near the mouth of the harbour. He then made the signal for the ships to bring to, with their heads to the southward, about six miles from the shore, Rio de Janeiro Sugar Loaf bearing west half north, distant about six leagues. In the course of the day we saw many whales playing about.
4th August. This morning, standing in for the harbour, the wind headed us, which obliged us to tack, and stand out to sea a little, in order to prevent our falling to leeward of the port, which it would have been no easy matter to have regained.
5th August. Still calm. This morning a boat came alongside, in which were three Portugueze and six slaves, from whom we purchased some oranges, plantains, and bread. In trafficking with these people, we discovered that one Thomas Barret, a convict, had, with great ingenuity and address, passed some quarter dollars which he, assisted by two others, had coined out of old buckles, buttons belonging to the marines, and pewter spoons, during their passage from Teneriffe. The impression, milling, character, in a word, the whole was so inimitably executed that had their metal been a little better the fraud, I am convinced, would have passed undetected. A strict and careful search was made for the apparatus wherewith this was done, but in vain; not the smallest trace or vestige of any thing of the kind was to be found among them. How they managed this business without discovery, or how they could effect it at all, is a matter of inexpressible surprise to me, as they never were suffered to come near a fire and a centinel was constantly placed over their hatchway, which, one would imagine, rendered it impossible for either fire or fused metal to be conveyed into their apartments. Besides, hardly ten minutes ever elapsed, without an officer of some degree or other going down among them. The adroitness, therefore, with which they must have managed, in order to complete a business that required so complicated a process, gave me a high opinion of their ingenuity, cunning, caution, and address; and I could not help wishing that these qualities had been employed to more laudable purposes.
The officers of marines, the master of the ship, and myself fully explained to the injured Portugueze what villains they were who had imposed upon them. We were not without apprehensions that they might entertain an unfavourable opinion of Englishmen in general from the conduct of these rascals; we therefore thought it necessary to acquaint them that the perpetrators of the fraud were felons doomed to transportation, by the laws of their country, for having committed similar offences there.
About one o’clock a gentle breeze from the east carried us within about a mile of the bar, where, at nine o’clock, we anchored in sixteen-fathom water. The calms had baffled the Supply so much that she had only dropped her anchor a little while before us.
6th August. Early this morning, it being quite calm, the commodore dispatched an officer to the viceroy, who met with a courteous reception, and about eleven o’clock returned with the boat nearly full of fruit and vegetables, sent as presents to the commodore from some of his old friends and acquaintances.
Some years ago Captain Phillip was on this coast, commander of a Portugueze man of war. During that time he performed several gallant acts, which, aided by his other amiable qualities, rendered him extremely popular here, and recommended him to the notice of the court of Lisbon. Shortly after, his own country having a claim to his services, on the breaking out of a war, he declined a command offered him by the Portugueze, and returned to the English navy, where he served some time as lieutenant (a rank he had held before he had engaged in the service of Portugal) on board the Alexander, under the command of that brave and exemplary character, Lord Longford.
About two o’clock we got under way, with a gentle sea-breeze, which ran us into the harbour. In passing Santa Cruz fort, the commodore saluted it with thirteen guns, which was returned with an equal number. This day a Portugueze ship sailed for Lisbon, which gave us an opportunity of writing short letters to our friends in England.
8th August. In the forenoon, the commodore, attended by most of the officers on the expedition, paid the viceroy a visit of ceremony. On our landing, we were received by an officer and a friar, who conducted us to the palace. As we passed the guard on duty there, the colours were laid at the feet of the commodore, than which nothing could have been a higher token of respect. We then proceeded up stairs into a large anti-chamber, crowded with officers, soldiers, and domestics. Here we were received by several officers belonging to the household, and the surgeon-general to the army, who spoke good English, having acquired his professional knowledge in London.
A few minutes after our arrival, a curtain, which hung over the door of the presence-chamber, was drawn aside; and on our entrance we were individually introduced to the viceroy by the commodore. The ceremony being ended, and a short conversation having taken place, we were ushered into another spacious room, where we all sat down. I could not help remarking that the viceroy placed himself in such a manner as to have his back turned on most of the officers. I was told afterwards that he apologized for this; but I did not hear him, though very near.
Neither the room we were now in, nor that into which we were first introduced, exhibited any marks of magnificence or elegance. I acknowledge that, for my own part, I was exceedingly disappointed. From the parade without, such as the number of guards, etc., I was led to suppose that we should find everything within the palace proportionably magnificent and princely. But this was by no means the case. The only furniture I saw in the room we were in, except chairs, were six card tables, and portraits of two of the sovereigns of Portugal, one of which was that of King Sebastian the First, the other of her present majesty; the former placed in the centre, the latter at the upper end of the room.
The viceroy appeared to be of a middle age, somewhere between forty and fifty, stout and corpulent, with a strong cast or defect in both his eyes. He seemed to be a person of few words, but at the same time civil and attentive. I could not, however, help observing the very great difference there was between his excellency’s manner and address and that of the elegant and accomplished Marquis de Brancifort.
9th August. The contract being settled, the commissary supplied the troops and convicts with rice (in lieu of bread), with fresh beef, vegetables, and oranges, which soon removed every symptom of the scurvy prevalent among them.
11th August. The commodore ordered six female convicts, who had behaved well, to be removed from the Friendship into the Charlotte; and at the same time an equal number, whose conduct was more exceptionable, to be returned to the Friendship in their stead. The commodore’s view was (a matter not easily accomplished) to separate those whose decent behaviour entitled them to some favour from those who were totally abandoned and obdurate.
13th August. Cornelius Connell, a private in the marines, was, according to the sentence of a court martial, punished with a hundred lashes, for having an improper intercourse with some of the female convicts, contrary to orders. Thomas Jones was also sentenced to receive three hundred lashes, for attempting to make a centinel betray his trust in suffering him to go among the women; but in consideration of the good character he bore previous to this circumstance, the court recommended him to the clemency of the commanding officer, and, in consequence thereof, he was forgiven. John Jones and James Reiley, privates, accused of similar offences to that of Connell’s, were acquitted for want of evidence, their being no witnesses to support the charge except convicts, whose testimony could not be admitted.
15th August. This being a day of great parade and gaiety with the Portugueze, the inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro, arrayed in their best and richest attire, as their custom is on regale days, began to show themselves, during the forenoon, between the city and the church of St. Gloria, which is about a mile distant, and situated on a rising ground near the sea. Persons of all ranks, as well in carriages as equestrians and pedestrians, joined in the crowd; but what was the purpose of this cavalcade, or to what circumstances it owed its origin, I am still at a loss to know.
Gloria church, which is rather neat than rich, was decorated with various flowers (in the disposal of which some taste was displayed), and most brilliantly illuminated. I observed that the multitude generally stopped here, in succession, and employed themselves in some religious ceremonies, such as praying and singing hymns, before they returned to the city. This kind of parade was continued the whole day; the better sort of people, however, made their appearance only in the afternoon.
Returning with the rest of the crowd, after it was dark, to the town, I perceived a small church, in one of the bye streets, richly ornamented and elegantly illuminated. As I saw men, women, and children, struggling for entrance, I joined in the throng out of mere curiosity, and with no little difficulty made my way in; but all the satisfaction I reaped from being thus squeezed and jostled was seeing such as could gain admission fall on their knees, and praying with more fervor, to appearance, than real devotion.
On one side of the church stood a shabby ill-looking fellow, selling to the multitude consecrated beads; as did another, on the outside of the door. I own I could not help resembling them to mountebanks vending and distributing their nostrums. There were many more of these religious hawkers in the streets, from some of whom, as I saw it was the custom, I purchased a few of their beads.
At a little distance from the door of the church was erected a stage, on which was placed a band of vocal and instrumental performers, who exerted themselves with might and main to please the surrounding audience. I cannot, however, say that they succeeded in pleasing me. About ten o’clock a display of fireworks and rockets, of which the Portugueze seem to be very fond, concluded the entertainments of the day.
Some intrigues, I have reason to believe, followed. I was led to this conclusion from seeing many well-dressed women in the crowd quite unattended; and this was the only time during my stay in the country that I ever saw any circumstances which could warrant my forming such an opinion. I know it has been asserted by some writers, that the women of Rio de Janeiro are not uncensurable in this point. They have affirmed that, as soon as it became dark, the generality of them exposed themselves at their doors and windows, distinguishing, by presents of nosegays and flowers, those on whom they had no objection to bestow their favours, a distinction in which strangers shared as well as their acquaintance.
That this might have been the case I will not take upon me to deny, and, impressed with the idea, on my first arrival, I considered every woman as a proper object of gallantry; but a month’s residence among them convinced me that this imputed turn for intrigue is chiefly confined to the lower class, and that, in general, the higher ranks are as undeserving of the imputation as the females of any other country.
The popularity of our commodore with the viceroy and principal inhabitants here procured for the officers the liberty of going wherever they pleased. It has always been the custom for a soldier to follow every foreign officer that landed at this port, and it was scarcely ever dispensed with. It was, however, unknown to us, and this unaccustomed liberty gave us an opportunity of inspecting more minutely into the manners and disposition of the women as well as the men.
21st August. This being the Prince of Brazil’s birth-day, the commodore, with most of his officers, went to court, to compliment the viceroy on the occasion. As soon as we landed, we were received by an officer, who conducted us to the presence-chamber, where his excellency stood, under a canopy of state, receiving the compliments of the officers of the garrison, the principal inhabitants, and such foreigners as were in the place. After having paid our respects, we withdrew, as did every other person, except the principal officers of state, some general and law officers, and those of the governor’s household. The Sirius and one of the forts fired royal salutes.
The court was brilliant, if a place where a female does not appear can be said to be brilliant; but this, I was informed, is always the case here. Those gentlemen who appeared in the circle were richly and elegantly dressed. The officers of the army and of the militia were particularly so, and that in a stile and fashion which did no small credit to their taste. The viceroy wore a scarlet coat trimmed with very broad rich gold lace, and his hair, according to his usual mode of wearing it, in a remarkable long queue, with very little powder; an article of dress to which I observed the Portugueze were not very partial, while, on the contrary, they were profuse in the use of pomatum.
The day ended without any other demonstrations of joy. As the Portugueze seemed fond of fireworks and illuminations, and never fail to exhibit them on every religious festival, we were not a little disappointed in finding them omitted on the birth-day of their prince.
31st August. James Baker, a private marine, received two hundred lashes, agreeable to the sentence of a court-martial, for endeavouring to get passed on shore, by means of one of the seamen, a spurious dollar, knowing it to be so; and one he had undoubtedly got from some of the convicts, as it was of a similar base metal to those which they had coined during the passage, and had attempted to put off on our first arrival at this port.
1st September. Having now procured every thing at Rio de Janeiro that we stood in need of, and thoroughly recovered and refreshed our people, the commodore, with such officers of the fleet as could be spared from duty, waited on the viceroy to take leave, and to return our acknowledgments for the indulgence and attention shown us, which, I think we may say, we experienced in a greater extent and latitude than any foreigners had ever before done. On our landing, the same officer who had attended us upon every other public occasion, conducted us to the presence-chamber. As we passed, every military and public honour was paid to the commodore; the colours were laid at his feet, as they hitherto had been whenever he landed in his public character; a token of respect that is never bestowed on any person but the governor himself.
When we arrived at the palace, an officer of the household, who was waiting to receive us, conducted us through a most delightful recess, hung round with bird-cages, whose inhabitants seemed to vie with each other both in the melody of their notes and the beauty of their plumage. The passage we walked through was adorned on each side with odoriferous flowers and aromatic shrubs, which, while they charmed the eye, spread a delightful fragrance around. This passage led to a private room, on the outside of the door of which we were received by the viceroy, who stood uncovered, and noticed each person separately in the most friendly and polite manner.
His excellency preceded us into the room, and having requested all of us to be seated, placed himself by the commodore, in a position that fronted us. In return for our thanks and acknowledgments, he said, “it gave him infinite pleasure and satisfaction to find that the place had afforded us the supplies we stood in need of:” to this he added, “that the attention of the inhabitants, which we were good enough to notice, was much short of his wishes.”
We then arose and took our leave; but not before his excellency had expressed a desire of hearing from the commodore, with an account of his success in the establishment of the new colony. He concluded with saying, “that he hoped, nay did not doubt, from the character the English bore for generosity of disposition, but that those who had so cheerfully engaged in a service, strange and uncertain in itself, would meet with an adequate reward — a recompense that every one must allow they justly merited.”
The room in which the governor received us was that wherein he usually sat in his retired moments. It was furnished and painted in a neat and elegant stile; the roof displaying well-executed representations of all the tropical fruits and the most beautiful birds of the country. The walls were hung round with prints, chiefly on religious subjects.
Rio de Janeiro is said to derive its name from being discovered on St. Januarius’s day. It is the capital of the Portugueze settlements in South America, and is situated on the west side of a river, or, more properly (in my opinion), of a bay. Except that part which fronts the water, the city is surrounded by high mountains, of the most romantic form the imagination can fashion to itself any idea of.
The plan on which it is built has some claim to merit. The principal street, called Strait Street, runs from the viceroy’s palace, which is near the south-east end of the town, to the northwest extremity, where it is terminated by a large convent belonging to the Benedictine friars, situated on an eminence. The street is broad, well built, and has in it a great number of handsome shops. All the others are much inferior to this, being in general only wide enough to admit two carriages to pass each other in the centre. The pavement for foot-passengers (except in Strait Street, which is without any) is so very unsociably narrow that two persons cannot walk with convenience together.
The houses are commonly two, and sometimes three, stories high, of which, even though inhabited by the most wealthy and respectable families, the lower part is always appropriated to shops, and to the use of the servants and slaves (who are here extremely numerous), the family rather chusing to reside in the upper part, that they might live in a less confined air. To every house there is a balcony, with lattice-work before it, and the same before all the windows.
The churches are very numerous, elegant, and richly decorated; some of them are built and ornamented in a modern stile, and that in a manner which proclaims the genius, taste, and judgment of the architects and artists. Two or three of the handsomest are at this time either unfinished or repairing; and they appear to go on but very slowly, notwithstanding large sums are constantly collecting for their completion. As they are erected or repaired by charitable contributions, public processions are frequently made for that purpose, and the mendicant friars belonging to them likewise exert themselves in their line.
At these processions, which are not unfrequent, persons of every age and description assist. They usually take place after it is dark, when those who join in it are dressed in a kind of cloak adapted to religious purposes and carry a lanthorn fixed at the end of a pole of a convenient length: so that upon these occasions you sometimes see three or four hundred moving lights in the streets at the same time, which has an uncommon and a pleasing effect. Considerable sums are collected by this mode. At the corner of every street, about ten feet from the ground, is placed the image of a saint, which is the object of the common people’s adoration.
The town is well supplied with water from the neighbouring mountains; which is conveyed over a deep valley by an aqueduct formed of arches of a stupendous height, and from thence distributed by pipes to many parts of the city. The principal fountain is close to the sea, in a kind of square, near the palace, where ships water at a good wharf, nearly in the same manner as at Teneriffe, and with equal expedition and convenience. On the opposite side of the fountain are cocks, from which the people in the neighbourhood are supplied. This convenient and capital watering place is so near the palace that when disputes or contentions arise between the boats’ crews of different ships, the slaves, etc. they are suppressed and adjusted by the soldiers on guard, who, in the Portugueze service, have great power and often treat the people with no little severity.
While we staid at this place, we made several short excursions into the country; but did not go near the mines; as we knew the attempt would not only prove hazardous but ineffectual: and as the liberty and indulgence granted us was on the commodore’s account, we never extended our trips beyond a few miles, lest our doing so should appear suspicious, and reflect discredit on him, we considering him in some degree responsible for our conduct. As far as we did go, we experienced the same polite and attentive behaviour we met with from the inhabitants of the city. Never was more distinguished urbanity shown to strangers than was shown to us by every rank.
From its complicated state, I could learn but few particulars relative to the government of Brazil. The viceroy is invested with great power and authority, subject in some cases to an appeal to the court of Lisbon; but, like a wise and prudent ruler, he seldom exerts it, unless in instances where sound judgment and true policy render it expedient and necessary. He is a man of little parade, and appears not to be very fond of pomp and grandeur, except on public days, when it is not to be dispensed with. When he goes abroad for amusement, or to take the air, his guard consists only of seven dragoons; but on public occasions he makes his appearance in a grander stile. I once saw him go in state to one of the courts of justice; and, though it was situated not a hundred yards from his palace, he was attended by a troop of horse. His state carriage is tolerably neat, but by no means elegant or superb; it was drawn by four horses irregularly mottled.
Carriages are pretty common at this place; there is scarcely a family of respectability without one. They are mostly of the chaise kind, and drawn in general by mules, which are found to answer better than horses, being more indefatigable and surer-footed, consequently better calculated to ascend their steep hills and mountains.
The military force of Brazil consists of a troop of horse, which serve as guards for the viceroy, twelve regiments of regulars from Europe, and six raised in the country: these last enlist men of a mixed colour, which the former are by no means suffered to do. Besides the foregoing, there are twelve regiments of militia always embodied. This whole force, regulars and militia, except those on out-posts and other needful duties, appear early in the morning, on every first day of the month, before the palace, where they undergo a general muster and review of arms and necessaries. The private men, although they are considered as persons of great consequence by the populace, are, on the other hand, equally submissive and obedient to their officers. This strict discipline and regularity, as the city is in a great measure under military orders, renders the inhabitants extremely civil and polite to the officers, who, in return, study to be on the most agreeable and happy terms with them.
A captain’s guard (independent of the cavalry, who are always in readiness to attend the viceroy) is mounted every day at the palace. Whenever Commodore Phillip passed, which he did as seldom as possible, the guard was turned out, with colours, etc. and, as I before observed, the same mark of honour paid to him as to the governor. To obviate this trouble and ceremony, he most frequently landed and embarked at the north-west side of the town, where his boat constantly waited for him.
On both sides of the river which forms the bay or harbour, the country is picturesque and beautiful to a degree, abounding with the most luxuriant flowers and aromatic shrubs. Birds of a lovely and rich plumage are seen hopping from tree to tree in great numbers; together with an endless variety of insects, whose exquisite beauty and gaudy colours exceed all description. There is little appearance of cultivation in the parts we visited; the land seemed chiefly pasturage.
The cattle here are small, and when killed do not produce such beef as is to be met with in England: it is not, however, by any means so bad as represented by some travellers to be; on the contrary, I have seen and eat here tolerably good, sweet, and well-tasted beef. I never saw any mutton: they have indeed a few sheep, but they are small, thin, and lean. The gardens furnish most sorts of European productions, such as cabbages, lettuce, parsley, leeks, white radishes, beans, pease, kidney beans, turnips, water melons, excellent pumpkins, and pine-apples of a small and indifferent kind. The country likewise produces, in the most unbounded degree, limes, acid and sweet lemons, oranges of an immense size and exquisite flavour, plantains, bananas, yams, cocoa-nuts, cashoo apples and nuts, and some mangos. For the use of the slaves and poorer sort of people, the capado² is cultivated in great plenty; but this cannot be done through a want of corn for bread, as I never saw finer flour than at this place, which is plentiful, and remarkably cheap.
Brazil, particularly towards the northern parts, furnishes a number of excellent drugs. In the shops of the druggists and apothecaries of Rio de Janeiro, of which there are many, hippo, oil of castor, balsam capiva, with most of the valuable gums, and all of an excellent quality, are to be found; but they are sold at a much dearer rate than could possibly have been conceived or expected in a country of which they are the natural produce.
The riches of this country arising from the mines are certainly very great. To go near, or to get a sight of these inexhaustible treasuries, is impossible, as every pass leading to them is strongly guarded; and even a person taken on the road, unless he be able to give a clear and unequivocal account of himself and his business, is imprisoned, and perhaps compelled ever after to work in those subterraneous cavities, which avarice, or an ill-timed and fatal curiosity, may have prompted him to approach. These circumstances made a trial to see them without permission (and that permission I understand has never been granted the most favoured foreigners) too dangerous to be attempted.
In addition to the above source of wealth, the country produces excellent tobacco, and likewise sugar canes, from which the inhabitants make good sugar, and draw a spirit called aquadente. This spirit, by proper management, and being kept till it is of a proper age, becomes tolerable rum. As it is sold very cheap, the commodorepurchased a hundred pipes of it for the use of the garrison when arrived at New South Wales.
Precious and valuable stones are also found here. Indeed they are so very plenty that a certain quantity only is suffered to be collected annually. At the jewellers and lapidaries, of which occupation there are many in Rio, I saw some valuable diamonds and a great number of excellent topazes, with many other sorts of stones of inferior value. Several topazes were purchased by myself and others, but we chose to buy them wrought in order to avoid imposition, which is not unfrequent when the stones are sold in a rough state. One of the principal streets of this city is nearly occupied by jewellers and the workers of these stones, and I observed that persons of a similar profession generally resided in the same street.
The manufactures here are very few, and those by no means extensive. All kinds of European goods sell at an immoderate price, notwithstanding the shops are well stored with them.
The Brazil, or native Indians, are very adroit at making elegant cotton hammocks of various dyes and forms. It was formerly the custom for the principal people of Rio to be carried about in these hammocks; but that fashion is succeeded by the use of sedan chairs, which are now very common among them; but they are of a more clumsy form than those used in England. The chair is suspended from an aukward piece of wood, borne on the shoulders of two slaves, and elevated sufficiently to be clear of the inequalities of the street. In carrying, the foremost slave takes the pavement and the other the street, one keeping a little before the other, so that the chair is moved forward in a sidelong direction, very unlike the procedure of the London chairmen. These fellows, who get on at a great rate, never take the wall of the foot-passengers, nor incommode them in the smallest degree.
The inhabitants in general are a pleasant, cheerful people, inclining more to corpulency than those of Portugal; and, as far as we could judge, very favourably inclined to the English. The men are strait and wellproportioned. They do not accustom themselves to high living, nor indulge much in the juice of the grape.
The women, when young, are remarkably thin, pale, and delicately shaped; but after marriage they generally incline to be lusty, without losing that constitutional pale, or rather sallow, appearance. They have regular and better teeth than are usually observable in warm climates, where sweet productions are plentiful. They have likewise the most lovely, piercing, dark eyes, in the captivating use of which they are by no means unskilled. Upon the whole, the women of this country are very engaging; and rendered more so by their free, easy, and unrestrained manner.
Both sexes are extremely fond of suffering their hair, which is black, to grow to a prodigious length. The ladies wear it plaited and tied up in a kind of club, or large lump, a mode of hair-dressing that does not seem to correspond with their delicate and feminine appearance. Custom, however, reconciles us to the most outré fashions; and what we thought unbecoming the Portugueze considered as highly ornamental. I was one day at a gentleman’s house, to whom I expressed my wonder at the prodigious quantity of hair worn by the ladies, adding that I did not conceive it possible for it to be all of their own growth. The gentleman assured me that it was; and, in order to convince me that it was so, he called his wife and untied her hair, which, notwithstanding it was in plaits, dragged at least two inches upon the floor as she walked along. I offered my service to tie it up again, which was politely accepted, and considered as a compliment by both.
It has been said that the Portugueze are a jealous people, a disposition I never could perceive among any of those with whom I had the pleasure of forming an acquaintance; on the contrary, they seemed sensible of, and pleased with, every kind of attention paid to their wives or daughters.
The current coin here is the same as that in Portugal, but silver as well as gold is coined at this place, where they have an established mint. The pieces of gold are of various sizes, and have marked on them the number of thousand rees they are worth. The most common coin is a 4000 ree piece which passes for £1. 2. 6, though not so heavy as an English guinea. The silver pieces, called petacks, value two shillings, are also marked with the number of rees they are worth. You get ten of these in exchange for a guinea; and for a Spanish dollar two petacks, five vintins and a half, which is about four shillings and eight-pence.
Here, as in Portugal, they have five, ten, and twenty thousand ree pieces. A ree is a nominal coin; twenty make a vintin, value about three half-pence; eight vintins make one shilling; a petack is worth two shillings, and of these there are some double pieces, value four shillings sterling.
One morning, as I attended Mr. Il de Fonso, surgeon general to the army, and a man of ingenuity and abilities in his profession, to a large public hospital, a soldier was brought in with a wound in his left side. The instrument had penetrated the abdomen, without injuring the intestines; and from its form and nature the wound must have been inflicted with the point of a knife, or a stiletto.
The patient, after being dressed, acquainted us that the preceding night he had had some words with another man about a woman, who, notwithstanding blows had not passed, stabbed him with some sharp instrument, of what kind he could not see, as it was then dark, and afterwards made his escape.
This account led me to believe that assassinations were not unfrequent in Brazil; but Mr. Il de Fonso assured me to the contrary, telling me that such instances seldom happened except among the negroes, whose vindictive and treacherous dispositions led them wonderful lengths to gratify their revenge, whenever night and a convenient opportunity conspired, at once to aid and to conceal their horrid acts.
While we remained here, the weather being cool and favourable, I prevailed on the surgeon who was about to amputate a limb to allow me to take it off according to Allenson’s method. During the operation I could plainly see that he and his pupils did not seem much pleased with it, and he afterwards told me it was impossible it could ever answer. A very short space of time, however, made them of a different opinion; and in eighteen days after, when we sailed, I had the satisfaction to leave the patient with his stump nearly cicatrized, to the no small joy of the surgeon, who said that if the man had died he should have been heavily censured for making him the subject of experiments.
The circumstance of a man’s leg being cut off, and almost healed in as many days as it generally takes weeks, soon became known, and added very much to the estimation in which the people of this place held English surgeons. Whenever I visited the hospital afterwards, the objects of pity with which it was filled used to crowd around me in such a manner, and in such numbers, for my advice, that I found it difficult to get from them. And they now would readily have submitted to any operation I should have proposed, but, as I saw the surgeon did not much approve of my interference, I gave up all ideas of it.
The harbour of Rio de Janeiro lies in 22°54’ south latitude, and 43°19’ west longitude, about eighteen or twenty leagues to the westward of Cape Frio. The entrance is good, and cannot be mistaken, on account of a remarkable hill, resembling a sugar loaf, that is on the left-hand side; and some islands before it, one of which is oblong and does not, at some distance, look unlike a thatched house: they lie from the mouth of the harbour S. by W. about two leagues. Ships going in may run on either side.
The bar, over which we carried seven-fathom water, is not more than three-fourths of a mile across, and well defended by forts. The strongest is called Santa Cruz, built on a rock, on the starboard side as you run in, from which every shot fired at ships passing must take effect. The other, named Fort Lozia, is smaller, and built on an island or rock, on the larboard side, a little higher up, and lying contiguous to the main-land. The tide in the harbour rarely ebbs and flows more than seven feet; however, ships, if possible, never anchor in this narrow pass between the forts, as the bottom is foul and the tide runs with considerable rapidity. All danger in going in, or running out, may be avoided by keeping the mid channel, or a little bordering on the starboard shore.
After Santa Cruz fort is passed, the course is nearly N. by W. and N.N.W.; but, as I before observed, the eye is the best pilot. When you get within a mile of a strong fortified island which lies before the town (only separated by a narrow pass), called the Isle of Cobras, you are then in the great road, where we anchored in fifteen fathom water; or, should you have occasion to get nearer the town, you may run round this island, on the north side, and anchor above it, before the convent of Benedictine friars at the N.W. end of the city, before spoken of.
The city and harbour are strongly defended and fortified, but with very little judgment or regularity. The hills are very high, and so is the coast, which has such strange, romantic, and almost inaccessible terminations that nature of her own accord, without the aid of military skill, seems disposed to defend them. Taking everything into the account, I think it one of the best harbours I have ever seen, and, upon the whole, better calculated to supply the wants of people who have long been at sea, and stand in need of refreshment, than any part of the world, everything being so remarkably cheap.
Beef may be purchased at seven farthings per pound; hogs, turkeys, and ducks, both English and Muscovy, were equally reasonable. Fowls were dearer, but still sold at a lower rate than in England. Fish was not very plentiful, but I was told that at other seasons they have a most excellent market for that article. Their market for vegetables, however, abounded with fruit, roots, and garden stuff of every kind, notwithstanding it was not the best season for fruit, it then being too early in the spring to expect abundance. Oranges, which we had in the greatest plenty, cost only fivepence the hundred.
On a hill about half a mile S.E. of the city stands a convent, named Convento de Santa Theresa, the nuns of which, amounting to about forty, are not allowed to unveil when they come to the grate: and on a plain between this convent and the city stands another, called Convento A. de Juda, a very large building, governed by an abbess and several nuns, all under the direction of a bishop. Here about seventy young ladies are placed to be educated, who are subject to all the restrictions of a monastic life, only they are permitted to be frequently at the grate, and that unveiled.
But, what is singular, the nuns of this convent, when they arrive at a proper age, are allowed either to take a husband, or to take the veil, just as their inclination leads. They are not, however, suffered to quit the convent on any other terms than that of marriage, to which the consent and approbation of the bishop is always necessary. If they do not get a husband early in life, it is common for them to take the veil.
Many of these young ladies were very agreeable both in person and disposition, and, by frequently conversing with them at the grate, we formed as tender an intercourse with them as the bolts and bars between us would admit of. Myself, and two other gentlemen belonging to the fleet, singled out three of those who appeared to be the most free and lively, to whom we attached ourselves during our stay, making them such presents as we thought would prove most acceptable, and receiving more valuable ones in return. These little attentions were viewed by them in so favourable a light, that when we took a last farewell they gave us many evident proofs of their concern and regret.
Indeed every circumstance while we continued at this charming place (except there being no inns or coffee-houses, where a stranger could refresh himself, or be accommodated when he chose to stay a night or two on shore) conspired to make us pleased and delighted with it; and I can truly say that I left it with reluctance, which I believe was the case with many of my companions.
3rd September. The commodore sent Mr. Moreton, the master of the Sirius, and two of his midshipmen, who had been put on the invalid list, aboard an English ship returning from the Southern whale fishery to England, which, being leaky, had been forced into Rio. As this ship was to sail in a few days, it furnished us with an opportunity of writing to our friends. About two in the afternoon the commodore made the signal for all officers to repair on board their respective ships, and for the transports to hoist in their boats.
4th September. At six the fleet weighed with a light land breeze. On the commodore’s approaching Santa Cruz Fort, he was saluted from the batteries with twenty-one guns; which he returned from the Sirius with an equal number. About ten o’clock we got clear of the land, steering to the eastward with a gentle breeze.
Thomas Brown, a convict, was punished with a dozen lashes for behaving insolently to one of the officers of the ship. This was the first that had received any punishment since their embarkation on board the Charlotte.
5th September. Wind variable and cloudy; Rio Sugar-loaf still in sight, about eight or nine leagues distant.
6th September. The officers, ship’s company, marines, and convicts, were, by signal from the Sirius, put to an allowance of three quarts of water per day, including that usually allowed for cooking their provisions. In the course of the day a steady breeze sprung up at N.E. About six in the evening, the Fishburne victualler carried away her fore-top-gallant yard, which she soon got replaced with another.
7th and 8th September. The weather continued dark and cloudy, with some heavy showers of rain. On the evening of the 8th, between the hours of three and four, Mary Broad, a convict, was delivered of a fine girl.
9th and 10th September. Fine, clear, dry weather. The commodore made a signal for the convoy to close, being scattered about at a considerable distance from him.
11th, 12th, and 13th September. Fresh breezes, with sudden squalls and heavy rain. The four succeeding days, light airs, and hazy, with some showers, and a damp moist air. On the evening of the 17th, our longitude being, by signal from the commodore, 31°34’W. we caught a shark six feet long, of which the people made a good mess.
18th September. Heavy rain, with dark and cold weather. Saw several albatrosses and pintado birds.
19th September. William Brown, a very well-behaved convict, in bringing some clothing from the bowsprit end, where he had hung them to dry, fell overboard. As soon as the alarm was given of a man being overboard, the ship was instantly hove to, and a boat hoisted out, but to no purpose. Lieutenant Ball of the Supply, a most active officer, knowing from our proceedings (as we were at the time steering with a fair wind, and going near six knots an hour) that some accident must have happened, bore down; but, notwithstanding every exertion, the poor fellow sunk before either the Supply or our boat could reach him. The people on the forecastle, who saw him fall, say that the ship went directly over him, which, as she had quick way through the water, must make it impossible for him to keep on the surface long enough to be taken up, after having received the stroke from so heavy a body.
23rd September. From the 19th, the weather had been cold, dry, and pleasant; it now became wet, squally, and unsettled; the wind westerly, with a high sea; albatrosses, pintado birds, and some small hawks hovering round the ship.
30th September. The weather became more moderate and pleasant, the wind variable, inclining to calms.
1st October. Light airs, with haze and rain. Saw a great number of different birds; we were then in latitude 34°42’S. longitude 1°10’E. of the meridian of London.
13th October. The Sirius made the signal for seeing land; and at seven in the evening we came to, in Table Bay, at the Cape of Good Hope, in seventeen-fathom water, abreast of Cape Town, distant about a mile or a mile and half. As soon as the Sirius anchored, the commodore and commissary went on shore and took up their residence in lodgings at the house of Mrs. De Witt. They were soon followed by such officers as could be spared from the duty of the fleet, all wishing to prepare themselves, by the comforts and refreshments to be enjoyed on shore, for the last and longest stage of their voyage.
14th October. The contract for provisions being settled with Messrs. De Witts and Caston, the troops, men, women, and children, were served with a pound and half of soft bread, and an equal quantity of beef or mutton daily, and with wine in lieu of spirits. The convicts, men, women, and children, had the same allowance as the troops, except wine.
16th October. Commodore Phillip, attended by most of the officers of the fleet, paid a complimentary visit to his excellency Mynheer Van Graaf, the Dutch governor, by whom we were received with extreme civility and politeness.² A few hours after we had taken leave, he called on the commodore at his lodgings, to return his visit, and the next day returned the visit of such officers, residing on shore, as had paid their respects to him.
Notwithstanding this studied politeness, several days elapsed before the commodore could obtain a categorical answer to the requisition he had made for the supplies he stood in need of for the expedition: and had it not been for the judicious perseverance Commodore Phillip observed, in urging his particular situation, and the uncommon exigency of the service he was engaged in, it was believed the governor fiscal, and council would have sheltered their refusal under the pretence that a great scarcity had prevailed in the Cape colony the preceding season, particularly of wheat and corn, which were the articles we stood most in want of.
This idea they wished to impress us with; but, as just observed, the commodore’s sagacity and industrious zeal for the service subdued and got over the supineness shown by the governor, etc. and procured permission for the contractor to supply us with as much stock, corn, and other necessaries, as we could stow. It is, however, much to be lamented that the quantity we could find room for fell very short of what we ought to have taken in, as the only spare room we had was what had been occasioned by the consumption of provisions, etc. since we left Rio de Janeiro, and the removal of twenty female convicts from the Friendship into the Charlotte, the Lady Penrhyn, and the Prince of Wales.
After the supplies had been granted, his excellency Governor Graaf invited the commodore, and many of the officers of the expedition, to a very handsome dinner at his town residence. The house at which we were entertained is delightfully situated, nearly in the centre of an extensive garden, the property of the Dutch East India company, usefully planted, and at the same time elegantly laid out. The governor’s family make what use they please of the produce of the garden, which is various and abundant; but the original intention of the company in appropriating so extensive a piece of ground to this purpose was that their hospital, which is generally pretty full when their ships arrive after long voyages, may be well supplied with fruits and vegetables, and likewise that their ships may receive a similar supply.
This garden is as public as St. James’s park; and, for its handsome, pleasant, and well-shaded walks, is much frequented by persons of every description, but particularly by the fashionable and gay. There are many other agreeable walks about Cape Town, but none to be compared with these. At the upper end of the principal of them is a small space walled in for the purpose of confining some large ostriches and a few deer. A little to the right of this is a small menagery, in which the company have half a dozen wild animals and about the same number of curious birds.
As you approach the Cape of Good Hope, a very remarkable mountain may, in clear weather, be discovered at a considerable distance; it is called the Table Land, from its flat surface, which resembles that piece of furniture. Mr. Dawes, lieutenant of marines on board the Sirius, an ingenious and accurate observer, who has undertaken during the voyage the astronomical observations, accompanied by Messrs. Fowell and Waterhouse, midshipmen of the Sirius, Lieutenant De Witt, of the Dutch navy, and myself, went to the top of this mountain, an undertaking which we found to be of a far more serious nature than we at first were aware of. For my own part, I suffered so much from heat and thirst that, had not the fear of shame urged me on, my companions being determined to accomplish it at all events, I should most certainly have given it up before I reached the top. During this sultry and fatiguing expedition, I found great benefit, towards alleviating my thirst, by keeping a small pebble in my mouth; and sometimes by chewing rushes, which we met with in our way. But, when we had reached the summit, the delightful and extensive prospect we there enjoyed, the weather being uncommonly fine, fully atoned for the trouble, fatigue, and every suffering, we had undergone. From this elevation we could overlook all the country about the Cape.
As soon as we got to the top, our first business was to look out for water; but all we could find was some stagnant rain, which lay in the hollow of the stones. Our thirst, however, was so intolerable that the discovery even of this gave us inexpressible pleasure, and, notwithstanding we all perspired most violently, and were sensible of the danger and impropriety of drinking a quantity of bad water in such a situation, yet we could not refrain. As for my own part, it was utterly out of my power to listen at that time to the dictates of prudence, and I believe it was equally difficult to my companions, if I might judge from the avidity with which they drank out of the little pools, lying on the ground at full length, that being the only posture in which it was to be obtained.
The regularity of the streets of the town, which intersect each other at right angles; the buildings, gardens, castle, and forts, with twenty-three ships then at anchor in the bay, all which appeared directly underneath us, was a sight beautiful and pleasing beyond description. The perpendicular height of this land is 1857 feet from the surface of the water. On the top of it we gathered several species of heath, some wild celery, a few shrubs, and some nondescript plants; we found also some little stones of a fine polish and singular whiteness.
In our descent, which proved nearly as difficult and troublesome as going up, we saw some runaway negroes, round a fire, on the clift of a stupendous rock, where it was entirely out of the power of their owners to get at them. To look at their situation, one would think it beyond the utmost stretch of human ingenuity to devise a way to reach it. Here they remain all day in perfect security, and during the night make frequent excursions to the town and the parts adjacent, committing great depredations on the inhabitants.
The whole subsistence of these fugitives depends on this precarious method: and even this method would prove insufficient were it not for the assistance they receive from those who were once their fellow slaves. Nor is it always that they succeed in the depredatory trips, which necessity thus urges them to take; they are often betrayed by their quondam friends; and when this happens, as the Dutch are not famed for their lenity in punishing crimes, they are made horrid examples of. But neither the fear of punishment, nor hunger, thirst, cold, and wretchedness, to which they are often unavailably exposed, can deter them from making Table Land their place of refuge from what they consider to be greater evils. Scarcely a day passes but a smoke may be seen from some of these inaccessible retreats.
In the mild or summer season, which commences in September, and continues till March, the Table Land is sometimes suddenly capped with a white cloud, by some called the Spreading of the Table-cloth. When this cloud seems to roll down the steep face of the mountain, it is an unerring indication of an approaching gale of wind from the south-east; which generally blows with great violence and sometimes continues a day or more, but in common is of short duration. On the first appearance of this cloud, the ships in Table Bay begin to prepare for it, by striking yards and top-masts, and making everything as snug as possible.
A little to the westward of the Table Land, divided by a small valley, stands, on the right hand side of Table Bay, a round hill, called the Sugar Loaf, and by many the Lion’s Head, as there is a continuance from it, contiguous to the sea, called the Lion’s Rump; and when you take a general view of the whole it very much resembles that animal with his head erect. The Sugar Loaf, or Lion’s Head, and the Lion’s Rump have each a flagstaff on them, by which the approach of ships is made known to the governor, particularizing their number, nation, and the quarter from which they come.
To the eastward, separated by a small chasm from the Table Land, stands Charles’s Mount, well known by the appellation of the Devil’s Tower, and so called from the violent gusts of wind supposed to issue from it when it partakes of the cap that covers the Table Land, though these gusts are nothing more than a degree of force the wind acquires in coming through the chasm. When this phaenomenon appears in the morning, which is by no means so frequent as in the evening, the sailors have a saying, as the Devil’s Tower is almost contiguous to the Table Land, that the old gentleman is going to breakfast; if in the middle of the day, that he is going to dinner; and if in the evening, that the cloth is spread for supper.
The foregoing high lands form a kind of amphitheatre about the Table Valley, where the Cape Town stands. From the shipping the town appears pleasantly situated but at the same time small, a deception that arises from its being built in a valley with such stupendous mountains directly behind it. On landing, however, you are surprised, and agreeably disappointed, to find it not only extensive but well built, and in a good stile, the streets spacious, and intersecting each other at right angles with great precision. This exactness in the formation of the streets, when viewed from the Table Land, is observed to be very great.
The houses in general are built of stone, cemented together with a glutinous kind of earth which serves as mortar, and afterwards neatly plastered, and whitewashed, with lime. As to their height, they do not in common exceed two stories, on account of the violence of the wind, which at some seasons of the year blows with great strength and fury; indeed sometimes so violently as to shake the houses to the very foundation. For the same reason, thatch has been usually preferred to tiles or shingles, but the bad effects that have proceeded from this mode, when fires happen, has induced the inhabitants in all their new buildings to give the preference to slates and tiles. The lower parts of the houses, according to the custom of the Dutch nation, are not only uncommonly neat and clean in appearance, but they are really so; and the furniture is rather rich than elegant. But this is by no means the case with the bedrooms or upper apartments, which are more barely and worse furnished than any I ever beheld: and the streets seem to be much upon a par with them, they being rough, uneven, and unpaved. I was, however, upon the whole, extremely well pleased with the town. Many of the houses have a space flagged before the door, and others have trees planted before them, which form a pleasant shade, and give pleasing novelty to the streets.
The only landing-place is at the east end of the town, where there is a wooden quay running some paces into the sea, with several cranes on it, for the convenience of loading and unloading the scoots that come along side. To this place excellent water is conveyed by pipes, which makes the watering of ships both easy and expeditious.
Close to this quay, on the left hand, stands the castle and principal fortress, a strong extensive work, having excellent accommodations for the troops, and for many of the civil officers belonging to the company. Within the gates the company have their principal stores, which are spacious as well as convenient. This fort covers and defends the east part of the town and harbour, as Amsterdam fort does the west part. The latter, which has been built since commodore Johnstone’s expedition, and whereon both French and Dutch judgment have been united to render it effectual and strong, is admirably planned and calculated to annoy and harass ships coming into the bay. Some smaller detached fortifications extend along the coast, both to the east and west, and make landing, which was not the case before the late war, hazardous and difficult.
In a word, Cape Town is at this time fortified with strength, regularity, and judgment.
There are two churches here, one large, plain, and unadorned, for the Calvinists, the prevailing sect, and a smaller one for the Lutherans.
The hospital, which is large and extensive, is situated at the upper end of the town, close to the company’s garden. It is an honour to that commercial body, and no small ornament to the town. The only objection that can be made to it, as a building, is its situation: had it been erected on an eminence, and a little detached from the town, which might easily have been done, no fault could have been found with it. As it is, the convalescents have free access to the company’s gardens, where they reap the benefit of a wholesome pure air, perfumed with the exhalations of a great variety of rich fruit trees, aromatic shrubs, and odorous plants and flowers; and likewise have the use of every production of it, as before observed, advantages that compensate, in a great measure, for the flat situation of the hospital.
The inhabitants are all exceedingly fond of gardens, which they keep in most excellent order. The doing this is very little trouble to them, the climate and soil being most benign and friendly to vegetation. Among the many which afforded me delight, I must not forget that belonging to Colonel Gordon, commander in chief of the Dutch troops at the Cape; where not only the taste and ingenuity of the gardener, but the skill and knowledge of the botanist, are at once manifest.
The colonel is a man of science, of an active and well-cultivated genius, and who appropriates those hours he can spare from his military duties (in which he is said to excel), to a perusal of the book of nature, and researches after useful knowledge. These pursuits tend not only to his amusement, but to his honour; and they will, doubtless, at some time or other, further conduce to the advancement of natural history, and to the honour of his country, as it is said he intends to publish the observations and remarks which have been the result of his researches. Those he has made on the Hottentots, Caffres, and the countries they inhabit, will doubtlessly be valuable, he having made himself better acquainted with the subject, and penetrated farther into the interior parts, than any traveller or naturalist that has hitherto visited the Cape. It is to be lamented that he has so long withheld from the world the gratification and improvement, which most assuredly must be derived from the observations of a person so well and so extensively informed. His polite attention and civility, during our stay at the Cape, claim our most grateful acknowledgements.
Besides their hospital, the Dutch East India company have several other public buildings which tend to improve the appearance of the town. The two principal of these are the stables and a house for their slaves. The former is a handsome range of buildings, capable of containing an incredible number of horses. Those they have at the Cape are small, spirited, and full of life. The latter is a building of considerable extent, where the slaves, both male and female, have separate apartments, in a very comfortable stile, to reside in after the fatigues and toil of the day, which undoubtedly is great, but by no means equal, in my opinion, to that endured by the slaves in our own colonies.
However severe and cruel the Dutch may be considered in other respects, they certainly treat their slaves with great humanity and kindness, which, I am sorry to say, I scarcely ever saw done in the West Indies, during a residence there of three years. On the contrary, I have frequently been witness to the infliction of the most brutal, cruel, and wanton punishments on these poor creatures, who are the source and immediate support of the splendour of the Creoles. The bare retrospect of the cruelties I have seen exercised there excites a kind of horror that chills my blood. At the Cape, there are several officers placed over the slaves, who have commodious apartments, and treat them humanely.
The first week after our arrival at this place, the militia, consisting both of horse and foot, were embodied, and held their annual meeting: I say annual, as that is the usual period, but this was the first time of their assembling since the conclusion of the war in 1783.
The Cape militia differ from the English in not receiving pay or wearing regimentals. In fact they should rather be called volunteers, who turn out for the protection of their own property, and are not subject to strict military discipline. Most of them wore blue coats, with white metal buttons, aukwardly long, and in the cut and shape of which uniformity had not been attended to. Neither was it visible in the other parts of their dress or accoutrements; some wore powder, others none, so that, upon the whole, they made a very unmilitary appearance. The officers are chosen annually from among themselves. Some of these, indeed, I observed to be very well dressed. Neglect, non-attendance, and every other breach of their military rules, is punished by fine or forfeiture, and not corporally.
At this burlesque on the profession of a soldier, I could not help observing that many of them had either got intoxicated that morning or were not recovered from their overnight’s debauch; notwithstanding which they marched to the field and went through their evolutions with a steadiness and regularity that was really astonishing, considering the state they were in: but it is said, and I believe with some truth, that a Dutchman when half drunk is more capable of performing every kind of business than if he were perfectly sober.
After these annual exhibitions, the members of the corps meet their wives, daughters, etc. (who take care to be present, that they may be witnesses of their military skill and achievements) at some friend’s house, where they crown the night in dancing, of which they are uncommonly fond. To dancing are added substantial suppers and potent libations, in which they indulge not only upon this but on all other occasions. A Dutch supper to me, at first, was a matter of wonder, as I could never see any kind of difference, either in the quality or quantity, between them and their dinners, which were always abundant, and consisting chiefly of heavy food.
The inhabitants of the Cape, though in their persons large, stout, and athletic, have not all that phlegm about them which is the characteristic of Dutchmen in general. The physical influence of climate may in some degree account for this; for it is well known that in all southern latitudes the temper and disposition of the people are more gay, and that they are more inclined to luxury and amusements of every kind, than the inhabitants of the northern hemisphere.
The ladies at the Cape are lively, good-natured, familiar, and gay. They resemble the women of England more than any foreigners I have ever seen. English fashions prevail among them (the female part of the governor’s family excepted, who imitate the French), notwithstanding their intercourse with France is now by far greater than with England.
The habits and customs of the women of this place are extremely contrasted to those of the inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro. Among the latter a great deal of reserve and modesty is apparent between the sexes in public. Those who are disposed to say tender and civil things to a lady must do it by stealth, or breathe their soft sighs through the lattice-work of a window, or the grates of a convent. But at the Cape, if you wish to be a favourite with the fair, as the custom is, you must in your own defence (if I may use the expression) grapple the lady, and paw her in a manner that does not partake in the least of gentleness. Such a rough and uncouth conduct, together with a kiss ravished now and then in the most public manner and situations, is not only pleasing to the fair one, but even to her parents, if present; and is considered by all parties as an act of the greatest gallantry and gaiety.
In fact, the Dutch ladies here, from a peculiar gay turn, admit of liberties that may be thought reprehensible in England; but perhaps as seldom overstep the bounds of virtue as the women of other countries.
During my residence on shore, whenever I heard of any Hottentots being in town, I made a point of endeavouring to get a sight of them, in order to see whether their manners and appearance corresponded with the description given of them by travellers; such as being besmeared with grease, and decorated with the stinking entrails of animals, on which they likewise, when pressed by hunger, are said to feed.
I saw many of the men, without being able to make any other remarks on them, than that they were thin, of rather a low stature, but formed for activity: and, further, that their hair, which was short and woolly, as well as their whole bodies, was bedaubed with some unctuous or greasy substance, which was very offensive. They were of a dark brown colour, had a flat nose, thick lips, large full eyes, and were ornamented with ivory rings, and wore narrow strips of the skin of some animal, devoid of its hair, around their neck, legs, and arms. The only female of that nation I could get a sight of was during a little excursion in the environs of Cape Town: walking one evening with a Dutch gentleman, to see a garden about a mile from the town, I accidentally met one of these ladies, who was equally as offensive as the male I had met.
The heavy draft work about the Cape is mostly performed by oxen; which are here brought to an uncommon degree of usefulness and docility. It is not uncommon to see fourteen, sixteen, and sometimes eighteen in one of their teams; when the roads are heavy they sometimes, though rarely, yoke twenty; all which the Hottentots, Malayes, and Cape slaves have in the most perfect subjection and obedience. One of these fellows places himself on the fore part of the waggon, or, when loaded, on the top of the load, and with a tremendous long whip, which, from its size, he is obliged to hold in both his hands, manages these creatures with inexpressible address. I have often seen the driver, when he has found expedition needful, make them keep whatever pace he thought proper, either trot or gallop (a gait performed or kept up with difficulty by European oxen), and that with as much ease as if he was driving horses.
This immense whip, the only thing with which they guide the team, the drivers use so dexterously that they make them turn a corner with the utmost nicety; hitting even the leading pair, in whatever part they please. The blows thus given must inflict intolerable pain, or these slow animals could never be brought to go with the velocity they do at the Cape.
These sooty charioteers likewise manage horses with the same dexterity. To see one of them driving three, four, five, and sometimes six pair, in hand, with one of these long whips, as I have often done with great surprise, would make the most complete master of the whip in England cut a despicable figure. Carriages are not very numerous at the Cape, as the inhabitants in general travel in covered waggons, which better suit the roughness of the country. The governor and some few of the principal people keep coaches, which are a good deal in the English stile, and always drawn by six horses. The only chariot I saw there belonged to the governor; I however heard there were some others.
11th November. Having got on board such animals, provisions, etc. as we could stow, the commodore, with all the officers that had lodgings on shore, embarked. Previous to the commodore’s embarkation he gave a public dinner to some of the gentlemen of the town and the officers of his fleet. The Dutch governor was to have been of the party but by some unforeseen event was detained in the country, where he had been for some days before. Commodore Phillip had his band of music on shore upon the occasion, and the day was spent with great cheerfulness and conviviality.
13th November. About half past one o’clock we sailed from the Cape of Good Hope.
A small American ship had arrived during the forenoon, bound on a trading voyage to China, with several passengers on board. We learnt from her that the Hartwell East Indiaman had been lost, by bordering too close on the island of Bonavista, in order to land some recruits, who had mutinied and occasioned great disorder and confusion in the ship. It gave us pleasure to hear from the carpenter of the Hartwell, who was on board the American ship, that no lives were lost by the accident. The principal part of the crew, we found, had got to Madeira, on their return to England.
Abreast of Penguin Island, about three o’clock, we passed a large Dutch ship from Holland, bound to the Cape, with troops on board. A little before it was dark, we spoke the Kent whaler, from London, who had been four months out. She with ourselves was endeavouring to get to the eastward. On our first discovering her, as she seemed desirous of joining or speaking to the fleet, we were in hopes of her being from England, probably to us, or at least that we might get letters by her; but our suspense on these points, a suspense only to be conceived by persons on long voyages, was soon put an end to by hearing she had been so many months out.
A few days before we left the Cape, some of the officers of the expedition received letters from England by the Ranger East India packet, Captain Buchanan, who had put in to water, and stop a leak; both of which being soon accomplished, she proceeded on her voyage.
14th November. This morning Catherine Pryor, one of the convicts, was delivered of a male child. The officers, seamen, troops, and convicts, were put to an allowance of three quarts of water a day.
17th November. The wind variable, inclining to the southward and eastward, with hazy weather, an epidemic dysentry appeared among the convicts, which very soon made its way among the marines, and prevailed with violence and obstinacy until about Christmas, when it was got under by an unremitting attention to cleanliness, and every other method proper and essential for the removal and prevention of contagion. It gives me pleasure to be able to add that we only lost one person by this disease, violent and dangerous as it was, and that was Daniel Cresswell, one of the troops intended for the garrison, who was seized on the 19th of November and died the 30th of the same month, the eleventh day of his illness. From the commencement of his disorder, he was in the most acute agonizing pain I ever was witness to; nor was it in the power of medicine to procure him the shortest interval of ease. His case being a very singular one, I have transmitted it, with some others, to a medical friend in London, with permission to make what use of them he may think proper. The wind kept to the southward and eastward until the 21st, without veering a point in our favour, which carried us far out of our way to the westward; but that day it shifted.
23d November. We spoke the Prince of Wales, who informed us, that the preceding night one of the seamen had fallen from the top-sail yard, and was drowned. Indeed it was so dark, and the ship went so fast through the water, that all efforts to save him, had any been made, would have proved fruitless. This day and the following running to eastward, with the wind to the southward and westward, we saw many aquatic birds.
25th November. The commodore removed into the Supply armed tender, and took with him Lieutenant King of the Sirius, and Mr. Dawes of the marines, whom I had before occasion to mention as having undertaken the astronomical observations during the voyage. Having likewise selected some artificers from among the convicts, he went on, taking the Alexander, Scarborough, and Friendship with him, being fast sailing vessels; leaving the heavy sailers, both transports and victuallers, under the direction of Captain Hunter of the Sirius. Major Ross, commanding officer of the troops, removed into the Scarborough, as did the adjutant.
26th November. We had not lost sight of the Supply and other ships, though they were considerably ahead. Between nine and ten at night the wind came to the S.S.E. which made us tack and stand to the S.W. In the morning could see nothing of the flying squadron, as the seamen termed them. The wind continued all this day at E.S.E. with pleasant clear weather.
28th November. The wind shifted to the E.N.E.; the weather hazy, with small rain and strong breezes. The Sirius made a signal for the convoy to close.
30th November. The wind variable, with some heavy showers, and in the intervals clear weather.
1st and 2nd December. The wind from W.S.W. to S.W. by W. in lat. 40° south, long. 35°10’ east; the weather moderate, cold, clear, and pleasant. We saw birds of different kinds.
3rd December. In the evening, and on the succeeding day, the wind to northward and westward; fresh gales, dark, wet, unpleasant weather, with a high sea. The Sirius, for fear of separation, as the weather did not look kindly, made the signal for the convoy to keep nearer the commanding officer.
5th December. In the morning almost calm, with a heavy swell; in the evening a small breeze sprung up at the N.E. which next day shifted to the westward.
16th December. In lat. 41°7’ south, long. 74°54’ east, clear weather, with a small breeze at N.N.W. we saw some large whales, several birds, mostly of the peteral kind, a seal, and some rock weed.
17th December. Dark, cold, and gloomy. Had some gulls and whales round the ship.
20th December. Wind variable, inclining to the south. I visited the Prince of Wales, where I found some of the female convicts with evident symptoms of the scurvy, brought on by the damp and cold weather we had lately experienced. The two succeeding days the wind to the westward, though at times variable, with dark, wet, gloomy weather; in lat. 41°18’ south, long. 90°7’ east. We saw and passed some sea-weed. On those days the scurvy began to show itself in the Charlotte, mostly among those who had the dysentery to a violent degree; but I was pretty well able to keep it under by a liberal use of the essence of malt and some good wine, which ought not to be classed among the most indifferent antiscorbutics. For the latter we were indebted to the humanity of Lord Sydney and Mr. Nepean, principal and under secretaries of state.
24th December. The weather still dark and gloomy. Had several birds round the ship of the albatross and peteral kind; with what appeared to me to be something of the sea-hawk species.
27th December. Dark hazy weather, with some light squalls. We passed more seaweed; some gulls, and many of the before-mentioned birds, about the ship.
30th and 31st December.
Strong breezes, with unsettled-looking weather; birds still about us, and likewise some whales.
1st January. The new year was introduced with a pretty heavy gale of wind from the northward and westward, which was the first we had encountered since we left England. It began a little before 12 o’clock the preceding night, and continued till seven this evening. The Sirius was the whole day under her stay-sails, and the convoy under their fore-sail and stay-sails.
2d and 3rd January. Smart gales, with dark gloomy weather. Some seals and oceanic birds about the ship.
4th January. Cloudy weather, in latitude 44°2’S. The Sirius made the signal for the longitude by lunar observation, which was found to be 135°30’ East. In the evening some birds, called Mother Cary’s Chickens, were round the ship.
5th January. The weather cold and clear, the wind N.W. Passed some seaweed. In the morning the third mate thought he saw some divers; but, as they were not seen by any other person, not much attention was paid to the report. At night we had some squalls, with light showers of rain.
7th January. Early in the morning the Lady Penrhyn made the signal for seeing land; but it only proved to be a fog-bank; a circumstance that often deceives the anxious mariner. About two o’clock in the afternoon the Prince of Wales, being the headmost ship, made the same signal. The Charlotte being next in succession, the signal was scarcely displayed before we also discovered it very plainly through the haze, and repeated the signal, which was answered by the Sirius.
By our last lunar observation this land appears to be well laid down in Maskelyne’s Tables, and in the journals of the celebrated Cook: but to the surprise of every one on board, we found a small chart, published by Steele, and which was held in little estimation, to be not only accurate as to the situation, but also to give a tolerable appearance and description of Van Dieman’s Land: indeed such as may prove extremely useful to ships coming this way, and fully sufficient to enable them to avoid all danger if the weather be clear. For my own part, I see no hazard that attends making this land by day (such an attempt by night would be very incautious and absurd), as nature has been very particular in pointing out where it lies, by rocks which jutt out of the sea, like so many beacons.
I believe a convoy was never conducted with more care, or made the land with greater accuracy and certainly, than this. Indeed, ability and experienced nautical knowledge were never more fully evinced on all occasions than by Captain Hunter; who is, I may venture to pronounce, without much risk of having my veracity called in question, one of the most assiduous and accurate observers, and able navigators, the present day furnishes. His appointment to this expedition by Lord Howe is strongly marked with that prudence and wisdom which are known to govern his Lordship’s conduct. Captain Hunter has a pretty turn for drawing, which will enable him, no doubt, to give such a description of this coast as will do credit to himself, and be of singular advantage, as well to those whose lot it may be to visit, hereafter, this extensive coast, as to navigation at large.
The assistance of Lieutenant Bradley, first of the Sirius (who likewise is an officer of more than common abilities), as a navigator in conducting a convoy in a track so little known, must have been pleasing to Captain Hunter.
As we run in with the land, which is pretty high, we were surprised to see, at this season of the year, some small patches of snow. The haze being dispersed, by a gentle breeze at N.N.W., we could observe, and hear, as we were not more than six or seven miles from the shore, the surf beating high and loudly against some uneven rocks which jutted out, in strange projections, into the sea. This part of the coast, as far as we could see, is bold, irregular, and craggy; and very few trees, or appearance of verdure, to be seen.
At four in the afternoon, being about six or eight miles to the eastward of the eastward-most rock, called the Mewstone (there being several others which we distinctly saw), bearing N.N.W. we discovered to the westward of them some eminences, which probably might be islands; or, if not, some land running a considerable way into the sea. For my own part I am inclined to believe the latter to be the case; though the distance was too great to hazard a conclusive opinion upon it, as a large smoke was seen close to the innermost height.
About seven, steering to the eastward, along shore, nearly at the distance of four miles, being well in with the westward-most point of a very large bay, called Storm Bay, laid down in lat. 44°3’S. and long. 146°E. we discovered Swilly bearing S.E. 1/2S. and a little to the eastward of it a small rock rising out of the sea, distinguished by the name of the Eddystone, from its resemblance to the Eddystone light-house off Plymouth, which was very perceptible at the distance we were then from it. Our being close in with the land prevented us from seeing either of these before, as they lie at least six or seven leagues out to sea. From the S.W. cape, which lies in lat. 43°39’S. and long. 145°50’E. to the S.E. cape, which is admitted to be Tasman’s South Cape, is about the distance of fifteen or sixteen leagues. As we got to the eastward, we saw many trees, mostly of a dwarf or stunted kind, with a whitish bark, and perfectly leafless.
This part of the country still continued to be a rough, rugged, uneven tract, with very little appearance of fertility. Some small patches of verdure were discovered about Storm Bay, and the trees seemed to increase in number and size. Between eight and nine at night we saw a large fire on the east point of land which forms this bay, made by the natives, none of whom could we see during the day, though close in with the shore: nor did we perceive any other indication of its being inhabited but this fire, and the smoke mentioned to be seen on our first falling in with the land. The distance between the smoke and the fire was eight leagues, a space that would surely have exhibited some other proofs of populosity had it been thickly peopled.
About 10 o’clock, off Storm Bay, the weather moderately pleasant, the ship was taken aback. The Lady Penrhyn was then under our lee quarter, which obliged us to tack, after which we immediately wore, brought the ship to the wind on the other tack, and stood to sea with the rest of the ships. The wind was then at N.E. which just enabled us to weather Swilly and the Eddystone. As we got to sea the wind increased moderately.
8th January. The wind and weather variable; could perceive nothing of the land. I went on board the Fishburne, to see the boatswain, who, on the first night of the new year, having probably drank more grog than he ought, and the ship labouring much, had fallen from the top-sail yard, by which he bruised himself in a dreadful manner. The man being highly scorbutic, the parts soon mortified, and he died about half an hour after I got on board.
The master of the ship showed evident marks of great concern for this invaluable man, as he termed him. He declared to me that, sooner than venture again on so long a voyage without a surgeon, he would put to sea with less than half his complement of men; for he was strongly of opinion that if the poor fellow had received immediate assistance he would have recovered. I should have seen him sooner, but was prevented by my own indifferent state of health. How owners of ships can think of sending them through such a variety of climates, and a voyage of so great a length, without a surgeon, is to me a matter of surprise. The Lady Penrhyn, owned by Alderman Curtis, was the only merchant ship in our fleet that had a surgeon. What the others will do on their return, Heaven only knows; but this I well know, that they would never have reached thus far but for the succour given them by myself and my assistants.
9th January. Wind variable, and weather hazy, damp and dark; with some vivid flashes of lightning, succeeded by distant peals of loud thunder. On the morning of this day died Edward Thomson, a convict, worn out with a melancholy and long confinement. Had he lived, I think he would have proved a deserving member of society, as he seemed sensible of the impropriety and imprudence of his former life, and studious to atone for it.
10th January. The wind variable and weather dark and gloomy, with a very troublesome high sea. About two o’clock p.m. we had one of the most sudden gusts of wind I ever remember to have known. In an instant it split our main-sail; and but for the activity shewn by the sailors, in letting fly the sheets and lowering the top-sails, the masts must have gone over the side. The Prince of Wales, who was close to us, had her main yard carried away in the slings. Fortunately for us the squall was of short duration, otherwise the ships must have suffered considerably from the uncommon cross sea that was running; which we had found to be the case ever since we reached this coast.
11th and 12th January. The wind variable, inclining to the southward and westward, and still an unpleasant cross troublesome sea. We saw a whale, several seals, and many large oceanous birds, which we frequently fired at, without their betraying the smallest symptom of fear either at the report, or at the balls, which frequently dropped close to them. A conclusion may be drawn from hence, that they had never been harassed with fire-arms before; if they had, they would undoubtedly have shown some fear, a sensation they seemed to be totally unacquainted with. In all our firings we did not kill one of them.
19th January. In the evening we saw the land over Red Point, bearing W. by N. the extremes of the land from S.S.W. to N. We were then about three leagues from the shore, and, finding it unlikely to get in that night, Captain Hunter made the signal for the convoy to come within hail, when he acquainted them that the entrance into Botany Bay bore N.N.W.: adding that for the night he intended to stand off and on, and early in the morning make sail for the bay.
20th January. At four in the morning the Sirius and convoy made sail, and at eight o’clock anchored in eight fathom water; Cape Banks E.S.E., Point Solander S.S.E., and the entrance of the bay, between these two lands, W.S.W.
We found here the Supply tender, which had arrived the 18th, and the Alexander, Scarborough, and Friendship transports, who had only arrived the day before. To see all the ships safe in their destined port, without ever having, by any accident, been one hour separated, and all the people in as good health as could be expected or hoped for, after so long a voyage, was a sight truly pleasing, and at which every heart must rejoice. As we sailed into the bay, some of the natives were on the shore, looking with seeming attention at such large moving bodies coming amongst them. In the evening the boats were permitted to land on the north side, in order to get water and grass for the little stock we had remaining. An officer’s guard was placed there to prevent the seamen from straggling, or having any improper intercourse with the natives.
Captain Hunter, after anchoring, waited on the governor, on board the Supply, who, with several other officers, landed. As they rowed along the shore, some of the natives followed the boat; but on her putting in for the shore they ran into the woods. Some of the gentlemen, however, before they returned on board, obtained an interview with them, during which they showed some distrust, but, upon the whole, were civilly inclined. The boats sent to haul the seine returned, having had tolerable success. The fish they caught were bream, mullet, large rays, besides many other smaller species.
21st January. The governor, Captain Hunter, and the two masters of the men of war, with a party of marines, set off this morning, in two rigged long boats, to examine Port Jackson, a harbour lying a little to the northward, which was discovered by Captain Cook.
23rd January. The party returned this evening, full of praises on the extent and excellence of the harbour, as well as the superiority of the ground, water, and situation to that of Botany Bay, which, I own, does not, in my opinion, by any means merit the commendations bestowed on it by the muchlamented Cook, and others whose names and judgments are no less admired and esteemed.
During his excellency’s absence the lieutenant-governor had issued his orders to land all the artificers that could be found among the convicts, and a party of others, to clear the ground for the intended town, to dig sawpits, and to perform everything that was essential towards the works purposed to be carried on. Although the spot fixed on for the town was the most eligible that could be chosen, yet I think it would never have answered, the ground around it being sandy, poor, and swampy, and but very indifferently supplied with water. The fine meadows talked of in Captain Cook’s voyage I could never see, though I took some pains to find them out; nor have I ever heard of a person that has seen any parts resembling them.
While the people were employed on shore, the natives came several times among them, and behaved with a kind of cautious friendship. One evening while the seine was hauling, some of them were present, and expressed great surprise at what they saw, giving a shout expressive of astonishment and joy when they perceived the quantity that was caught. No sooner were the fish out of the water than they began to lay hold of them, as if they had a right to them, or that they were their own; upon which the officer of the boat, I think very properly, restrained them, giving, however, to each of them a part. They did not at first seem very well pleased with this mode of procedure, but on observing with what justice the fish was distributed they appeared content.
While we remained at Botany Bay, as I was one morning on board the Supply we saw twenty-nine of the natives on the beach, looking towards the shipping; upon which Lieutenants Ball and King, Mr. Dawes, and myself went on shore, landing at the place where they were. They were friendly and pacific, though each of them was armed with a spear or long dart and had a stick, with a shell at the end, used by them in throwing their weapons. Besides these, some few had shields made of the bark of the cork tree, of a plain appearance but sufficient to ward off or turn their own weapons, some of which were pointed and barbed with the bones of fish, fastened on with some kind of adhesive gum.
One of the most friendly, and who appeared to be the most confident, on signs being made to him, stuck the end of his shield in the sand, but could not be prevailed upon to throw his spear at it. Finding he declined it, I fired a pistol ball through it. The explosion frightened him, as well as his companions, a little; but they soon got over it, and on my putting the pistol into my pocket he took up the shield, and appeared to be much surprised at finding it perforated. He then, by signs and gestures, seemed to ask if the pistol would make a hole through him, and on being made sensible that it would, he showed not the smallest signs of fear; on the contrary he endeavoured, as we construed his motions, to impress us with an idea of the superiority of his own arms, which he applied to his breast, and by staggering, and a show of falling, seemed to wish us to understand that the force and effect of them was mortal, and not to be resisted.
However, I am well convinced that they know and dread the superiority of our arms, notwithstanding this show of indifference, as they, on all occasions, have discovered a dislike to a musquet: and so very soon did they make themselves acquainted with the nature of our military dress, that, from the first, they carefully avoided a soldier, or any person wearing a red coat, which they seem to have marked as a fighting vesture.
Many of their warriors, or distinguished men, we observed to be painted in stripes across the breast and back, which at some little distance appears not unlike our soldiers’ cross belts.
24th January. The boats were employed in getting water and grass for the live stock; as the governor, finding Port Jackson more suited to his wishes, had determined to remove to that place and form the settlement there. While these preparations were making, every person in the fleet was surprised to see, in this part of the world, two large ships plying hard in the offing to get into the bay. It was seen, in the evening, that they had French colours flying; but, the wind blowing pretty strong out of the bay, they were unable to get in, and, the weather becoming thick and hazy, we soon lost sight of them.
25th January. Nothing of the strange ships to be seen. The governor, with a detachment of marines, sailed in the Supply tender for Port Jackson, leaving instructions with Captain Hunter to follow him, with all the transports and victuallers, as soon as the wind and weather would permit.
26th January. We again descried the French ships standing in for the bay, with a leading wind; upon which Captain Hunter sent his first lieutenant on board the commanding officer’s ship, which was distinguished by a broad pendant, to assist them in coming in. Soon after the lieutenants were returned to the Sirius, Captain Clonnard, the French commodore’s captain (who during the late war commanded the Artois, taken by the Bienfaisant, Captain Macbride), waited on Captain Hunter, and informed him that the ships were the Astrolabe and the Boussale, which sailed from France in the year 1786, under the command of Messieurs de la Perouse and De Langle. He further acquainted him that, having touched at Navigator’s Isles, they had had the misfortune to lose Captain De Langle, the second in command, with ten other officers and two boats crews, all of whom were cut off by the natives of those islands, who appeared to be numerous and warlike. This accident induced them to put into this port in order to build some boats, which they had in frames. It also had afforded room for the promotion of Monsieur Clonnard, who, on their leaving France, was only the commodore’s first lieutenant.
At ten o’clock the Sirius, with all the ships, weighed, and in the evening anchored in Port Jackson, with a few trifling damages done to some of them, who had run foul of each other in working out of Botany Bay.
Port Jackson I believe to be, without exception, the finest and most extensive harbour in the universe, and at the same time the most secure, being safe from all the winds that blow. It is divided into a great number of coves, to which his excellency has given different names. That on which the town is to be built, is called Sydney Cove. It is one of the smallest in the harbour, but the most convenient, as ships of the greatest burden can with ease go into it, and heave out close to the shore. Trincomalé, acknowledged to be one of the best harbours in the world, is by no means to be compared to it. In a word, Port Jackson would afford sufficient and safe anchorage for all the navies of Europe.
The Supply had arrived the day before, and the governor, with every person that could be spared from the ship, were on shore, clearing the ground for the encampment. In the evening, when all the ships had anchored, the English colours were displayed; and at the foot of the flag-staff his Majesty’s health, and success to the settlement, was drank by the governor, many of the principal officers, and private men who were present upon the occasion.
27th January. A number of convicts from the different transports were landed to assist in clearing the ground for the encampment. His excellency marked the outlines, and, as much as possible to prevent irregularity, and to keep the convicts from straggling, the provost marshal, aided by the patrole, had orders to take into custody all convicts that should be found without the lines, and to leave them in charge of the main or quarter guard.
The boats sent this day to fish were successful. Some of the natives came into the little bay or cove where the seine was hauled, and behaved very friendly. Indeed they carried their civility so far, although a people that appeared to be averse to work, as to assist in dragging it ashore. For this kind office they were liberally rewarded with fish, which seemed to please them and give general satisfaction.
29th January. A convenient place for the cattle being found, the few that remained were landed. The frame and materials for the governor’s house, constructed by Smith in St. George’s Fields, were likewise sent on shore, and some preparations made for erecting it.
This day Captain Hunter and Lieutenant Bradley began to take a survey of the harbour. In the course of the last week, all the marines, their wives and children, together with all the convicts, male and female, were landed. The laboratory and sick tents were erected, and, I am sorry to say, were soon filled with patients afflicted with the true camp dysentery and the scurvy. More pitiable objects were perhaps never seen. Not a comfort or convenience could be got for them, besides the very few we had with us.
His excellency, seeing the state these poor objects were in, ordered a piece of ground to be inclosed, for the purpose of raising vegetables for them. The seeds that were sown upon this occasion, on first appearing above ground, looked promising and well, but soon after withered away, which was not indeed extraordinary, as they were not sown at a proper season of the year.
The sick have increased since our landing to such a degree, that a spot for a general hospital has been marked out and artificers already employed on it. A proper spot, contiguous to the hospital, has been chosen, to raise such vegetables as can be produced at this season of the year; and where a permanent garden for the use of the hospital is to be established.
1st February. We had the most tremendous thunder and lightning, with heavy rain, I ever remember to have seen.
2nd February. This morning five sheep, belonging to the lieutenant-governor and quarter-master, were killed by lightning under a tree, at the foot of which a shed had been built for them. The branches and trunk of the tree were shivered and rent in a very extraordinary manner.
5th February. A storehouse has been begun, for the purpose of receiving the stores and provisions of the three transports bound to China. On a muster of the convicts this morning, some were found to be missing, and supposed to have gone to Botany Bay, in hopes of being received on board the French ships, which are said to be short of hands, and made more so by the loss they had recently sustained, as before mentioned.
7th February. The governor’s commission, and that for establishing a criminal court of judicature, admiralty court, etc. were read. After this was done the troops under arms fired three volleys, when his excellency thanked the soldiers for their steady and good conduct, which Major Ross caused to be inserted in the general order book.
The governor then addressed the convicts in a short speech, extremely well adapted to the people he had to govern and who were then before him. Among many circumstances that would tend to their future happiness and comfort, he recommended marriage, assuring them that an indiscriminate and illegal intercourse would be punished with the greatest severity and rigour. Honesty, obedience, and industry, he told them, would make their situation comfortable, whereas a contrary line of conduct would subject them to ignominy, severities, and punishment. When the ceremony was concluded, his excellency, attended by all the officers of the colony, withdrew to a tent pitched for the occasion, where a cold dinner was laid out; and, after the cloth was removed, many loyal and public toasts were drank.
8th February. A party of the gentlemen of the garrison set out by land to pay a visit to the French at Botany Bay, from whom they met with the most hospitable, polite, and friendly reception and treatment. Many of the convicts who had been missing had been at Botany Bay. They had offered themselves to the French navigators on any terms, but not one of them had been received. This refusal obliged them to return; and when they came back they were real objects of pity. Conscious of the punishment that awaited so imprudent and improper an experiment, they had stayed out as long as the cravings of nature would permit, and were nearly half starved.
A woman, named Ann Smith, and a man have never since been heard of. They are supposed to have missed their way as they returned, and to have perished for want. As the French commodore had given his honour that he would not admit any of them on board, it cannot be thought he would take them. The convict, it is true, was a Frenchman, named Peter Paris, and it is possible, on that account, he might have been concealed, through pity, by his countrymen, and carried off without the knowledge of the commanding officer.
At the very time the party from hence were gone by land to Botany Bay, Captain Clonnard came round in a boat, on a visit of ceremony from Monsieur de la Peyrouse to the governor. He brought with him some dispatches, which he requested might be forwarded to the French ambassador at the court of London, by the first transports that sailed for England. The captain stayed all night and returned the next morning.
This day, for the first time, a Kangaroo was shot and brought into camp. Some of the natives passed pretty close to the Sirius, without seeming to express, by their countenance or actions, either fear, curiosity, or surprise.
During the course of this week fourteen marriages were solemnized.
The criminal court, consisting of six officers of his Majesty’s forces by land or sea, with the judge advocate, sat for the first time, before whom several convicts were tried for petty larceny. Some of them were acquitted, others sentenced to receive corporal punishment, and one or two were, by the decision of the court, ordered to a barren rock, or little island, in the middle of the harbour, there to remain on bread and water for a stated time.
12th February. The commissions were read a second time, at the desire of some of the officers whose situation with the battalion prevented them from being present at the first reading, after which the lieutenant-governor and judge advocate were sworn in justices of the peace, and Lieutenant King (second of the Sirius) superintendant and commanding officer of New Norfolk Island, an appointment given him by the governor.
14th February. The Supply sailed for Norfolk Island, with Lieutenant King and his detachment, consisting of Mr. Cunningham, master’s mate, and Mr. Jameson, surgeon’s first mate, of the Sirius, two marines, and twelve male and female convicts. The governor furnished him with provisions and stores of every kind for six months, and with tools for cutting down timber, which last employment was the purpose of his mission.
27th February. Thomas Barrett, Henry Lovel, and Joseph Hall, were brought before the criminal court and tried for feloniously and fraudulently taking away from the public store beef and pease, the property of the crown. They were convicted on the clearest evidence, and, sentence of death being passed on them, they were, about six o’clock the same evening, taken to the fatal tree, where Barrett was launched into eternity, after having confessed to the Rev. Mr. Johnson, who attended him, that he was guilty of the crime, and had long merited the ignominious death which he was about to suffer, and to which he said he had been brought by bad company and evil example. Lovel and Hall were respited until six o’clock the next evening. When that awful hour arrived, they were led to the place of execution, and, just as they were on the point of ascending the ladder, the judge advocate arrived with the governor’s pardon, on condition of their being banished to some uninhabited place.
29th February. Daniel Gordon and John Williams were tried and convicted of stealing wine, the property of Mr. Zachariah Clarke. Williams being an ignorant black youth, the court recommended him to the governor as a proper object of mercy, and he was accordingly pardoned. Gordon, who was another black, had his sentence of death, while at the gallows, changed to banishment with Lovel and Hall.
30th February (sic). John Freeman was tried for stealing from another convict seven pounds of flour. He was convicted and sentenced to be hanged; but while under the ladder, with the rope about his neck, he was offered his free pardon on condition of performing the duty of the common executioner as long as he remained in this country; which, after some little pause, he reluctantly accepted. William Sheerman, his accomplice, was sentenced to receive on his bare back, with a cat-o’nine-tails, three hundred lashes, which were inflicted.
A New Holland Cassowary was brought into camp. This bird stands seven feet high, measuring from the ground to the upper part of the head, and, in every respect, is much larger than the common Cassowary of all authors, and differs so much therefrom, in its form, as to clearly prove it a new species. The colour of the plumage is greatly similar, consisting of a mixture of dirty brown and grey; on the belly it was somewhat whiter; and the remarkable structure of the feathers, in having two quills with their webs arising out of one shaft, is seen in this as well as the common sort. It differs materially in wanting the horny appendage on the top of the head. The head and beak are much more like those of the ostrich than the common Cassowary, both in shape and size. Upon the upper part of the head the feathers, with which it is but thinly covered, are very small, looking more like hair than feathers, and in having the neck pretty well clothed with them, except the chin and throat, which are so thinly covered that the skin, which is there of a purplish colour, may be seen clearly. The small wings are exceedingly short, which form a ridiculous contrast with the body, as they are even less than those of the Cassowary: they have no large quills in them, being only covered with the small feathers that grow all over the body.
Another singularity also presents itself in this species, which is in respect to the legs. As to the back part of them, the whole length is indented, or sawed, in a remarkable manner. The toes are three in number, the middle one long, the other two short, with strong claws, not unlike the same part of the common species. On examining the viscera, they differed from that of every other species of the feathered kind which I had ever seen, particularly in having no gizzard, or second stomach, and the liver was so very small that it did not exceed in size that of a black- bird. To this liver was joined a large gall-bladder, well distended with bile.
The crop, or stomach, was filled with at least six or seven pounds of grass, flowers, and a few berries and seeds. The intestinal canal was at least six yards long, very wide, and of a regular cylindrical shape from the opening of the stomach to the vent. The heart and lungs were separated by a diaphragm or midriff, and bore a tolerable proportion to the size of the bird. The flesh of this bird was very good, and tasted not unlike young tender beef.
This bird is supposed to be not uncommon in New Holland, as it has been frequently seen by our settlers both at Botany Bay and Port Jackson, but is exceedingly shy and runs faster than a grey-hound. One of them, however, has been shot. [* A drawing was taken from this bird, of which an engraving is annexed. It has been lately sent to England by the governor as a present to Lord Sydney, who, through the medium of Sir Joseph Banks, has deposited it in the collections of Natural History of Mr. John Hunter in Leicester Square.]
9th March. The governor, with two long boats manned and armed, returned from Broken Bay, situated a little to the northward, which he had been exploring for several days. It affords good shelter for shipping, and the entrance is bold; it cannot, however, be compared to Port Jackson. While he was there, he saw a great many of the natives, some of whom he thinks he had observed before, either at Botany Bay or in the neighbourhood of Port Jackson. One of the females happened to fall in love with his great coat; and to obtain it she used a vareity of means. First, she danced, and played a number of antic tricks; but, finding this mode ineffectual, she had recourse to tears, which she shed plentifully. This expedient not answering, she ceased from weeping, and appeared as cheerful as any of the party around her. From this little incident it may be seen that they are not a people devoid of art.
At Broken Bay many of the females, young and old, had the first joint of the little finger on their left hand cut off. As this was the case with those who were married, or appeared to be so from their having young children, as well as with those who were too young for a connection of that nature, it was not possible to account for the cause of such an amputation.
Thefts and depredations on one another have become so very frequent and glaring among the convicts, that scarcely a day passes without some of these miserable delinquents being punished. So hardened in wickedness and depravity are many of them, that they seem insensible to the fear of corporal punishment, or even death itself.
The principal business going forward at present is erecting cabbage-tree huts for the officers, soldiers, and convicts; some storehouses, etc.; and a very good hospital; all which in the completion will cost a great deal of time and trouble, as the timber of this country is very unfit for the purpose of building. Nor do I know any one purpose for which it will answer except for fire-wood; and for that it is excellent: but in other respects it is the worst wood that any country or climate ever produced, although some of the trees, when standing, appear fit for any use whatever, masts for shipping not excepted. Strange as it may be imagined, no wood in this country, though sawed ever so thin, and dried ever so well, will float. Repeated trials have only served to convince me that, immediately on immersion, it sinks to the bottom like a stone.
The stone of this country is excellent for building, could any kind of cement be found to keep it together. There is not any limestone (I believe) in New South Wales. The governor, notwithstanding that he had collected together all the shells which could be found, for the purpose of obtaining from them the lime necessary to the construction of a house for his own residence, did not procure even a fourth part of the quantity which was wanted. The foundation stone of a private house for him has been laid, and a plate of copper, with the following inscription engraved on it, is to be placed in the wall:
ARTHUR PHILLIP, ESQ.
Captain General in and over his Majesty’s Territory
of New South Wales, and its Dependencies;
Arrived in this Country on the 18th Day of
January, 1788, with the first Settlers;
And on the 15th Day of May, in the same Year,
the first of these Stones was laid.
The Supply tender returned from Norfolk Island, where, with great difficulty and danger, the stores sent with Lieutenant King were landed, on account of the rockyness of its shore, and the violence of the surf that almost continually beats upon it. In her passage there she fell in with an island, in lat. 31°36’S. long. 159°4’E., never before discovered, to which Lieutenant Ball, who commanded the Supply on this occasion, gave the name of Lord Howe’s Island. On her return to this port she stopped at it, and found the landing nearly, if not quite, as difficult as at Norfolk Island. The shore in many places was covered with excellent turtle, eighteen of which were brought here, and proved a seasonable supply to the convicts afflicted with the scurvy, many of whom were in a deplorable situation.
The smallest turtle brought from Lord Howe’s Island did not weigh less than 150 lb. They also found on it, in great plenty, a kind of fowl, resembling much the Guinea fowl in shape and size but widely different in colour, they being in general all white, with a red fleshy substance rising, like a cock’s comb, from the head, and not unlike a piece of sealing wax. These not being birds of flight, nor in the least wild, the sailors, availing themselves of their gentleness and inability to take wing from their pursuits, easily struck them down with sticks.
There were also many birds of the dove kind, as tame as the former, and caught with equal facility. Some of them were brought alive to this place. Besides these, the shore abounded with sea birds of several species. The island is very barren, and not more than twenty miles in circumference.
25th March. The Scarborough, Lady Penrhyn, and Charlotte, transports, being cleared of government stores, were discharged from the service, and are shortly to depart for China in order to load home with tea, they being chartered by the East India company for that purpose.
15th April. His excellency, attended by Lieutenant Ball of the navy, Lieutenant George Johnston of the marines, the judge advocate, myself, three soldiers, and two seamen, landed in Manly Cove (so called from the manly conduct of the natives when the governor first visited it), on the north side of the entrance into Port Jackson harbour, in order to trace to its source a river which had been discovered a few days before. We, however, found this impracticable, owing to a thicket and swamp which ran along the side of it.
The governor, anxious to acquire all the knowledge of the country in his power, forded the river in two places, and more than up to our waists in water, in hopes of being able to avoid the thicket and swamp; but, notwithstanding all his perseverance, we were at length obliged to return and to proceed along the sea-shore, a mile or two to the northward.
At the end of this we fell in with a small salt-water lagoon, on which we found nine birds that, whilst swimming, most perfectly resembled the rara avis of the ancients - a black swan. We discharged several shots at them, but the distance was too great for execution. Our frequent firing, however, caused them to take wing, and they flew towards the sea, which was very near, in the order that wild geese generally preserve, the one before the other. Had we not raised them, we should certainly have concluded that they were black swans, but their flight gave us an opportunity of seeing some white feathers, which terminated the tip of each wing; in every other part they were perfectly black. Their size appeared not equal to that of an European swan, but the shape exactly corresponded, except about the wings, which seemed rather small for the body.
We not long after discovered the great brown King’s Fisher, of which a plate is annexed. This bird has been described by Mr. Latham in his General Synopsis of Birds, vol. ii., p. 603, nearly to the following purport:— The length eighteen inches; the bill black above and white beneath; the feathers of the head narrow and pretty long, so as to form a kind of crest. They are of a brown colour, streaked with paler brown; the back and wings in general brown; the lower part of the back and rump pale blue-green; the outer edges of the quills blue; within and the tips black; on the wing coverts is a patel of glossy blue-green; the tail is barred with ferruginous and steel-black, glossed with purple, the end, for one inch, white; the under part of the body is white, transversely streaked with dusky lines; legs yellow, claws black.
This bird is not uncommon in many islands of the South Seas, being pretty frequent at New Guinea, from whence the specimen came from which Mr. Latham took his description: it is also an inhabitant of New Holland, from whence several have been sent over to England.
We rounded this lagoon, and proceeded four or five miles westward, along the banks of a small fresh-water river, which emptied itself into it and had for its source only a swamp or boggy ground. After we had passed this swamp we got into an immense wood, the trees of which were very high and large, and a considerable distance apart, with little under or brush wood. The ground was not very good, although it produced a luxuriant coat of a kind of sour grass growing in tufts or bushes, which, at some distance, had the appearance of meadow land, and might be mistaken for it by superficial examiners.
Here we pitched our tents (without which the governor never travelled) for the night, near a swamp, out of which we were supplied with water, not, indeed, either of the best or clearest kind. The night being cold, and a heavy dew falling, we kept up a large fire before the tents, which, though in one respect an excellent precaution, far from chasing away seemed to allure the musquitos, which tormented us inexpressibly during the whole night.
We this day discovered the Banksian Cockatoo. This species was first described by Mr. Latham, in his seventh volume or supplement to the General Synopsis of Birds, and the one in the plate annexed differs from that in some few particulars. In Mr. Latham’s figure the general colour is dusky black, the feathers of the head longer than the rest, forming a crest; and each of those on the head, back of the neck, and major part of the wings has a spot of buff-colour at the tips; the under parts of the body barred with narrow bars of buff-colour; the tail is black at the bottom and ends of the feathers, but the middle of a fine red, barred irregularly with black. In our specimen, the general colour of the bird is olive, or rusty black; the head feathers pretty long, and about the sides of the head and top of it is a mixture of fine yellow; but none of the feathers are marked with buff at the tips, nor is the under part of the body crossed with buff-colour. In the tail it differs scarcely at all from Mr. Latham’s figure.
These birds have been met with in several parts of New Holland.
We likewise saw several Blue-bellied Parrots. This is a very beautiful bird, and Mr. Latham, whose leave we have to copy the account of it, from his Syn. vol. i., p. 213, No. 14. B., describes it thus: “The length is fifteen inches; the bill is reddish; orbits black; head and throat dark blue, with a mixture of lighter blue feathers; back part of the head green; towards the throat yellow green; back and wings green; prime quills dusky, barred with yellow; breast red, mixed with yellow; belly of a fine blue; thighs green and yellow; tail cuneiform; the two middle feathers green; the others the same, but bright yellow on the outer edges; legs dusky.”
This bird is a very common species in various parts of New Holland, and in great plenty both at Botany Bay and Port Jackson. It is found to differ much in plumage, several other varieties having been met with, which are natives of Amboina and others of the Molucca Islands.
16th April. We pursued our route westward, proceeding many miles inland without being able to trace, by a single vestige, that the natives had been recently in those parts. We saw, however, some proofs of their ingenuity in various figures cut on the smooth surface of some large stones. They consisted chiefly of representations of themselves in different attitudes, of their canoes, of several sorts of fish and animals; and, considering the rudeness of the instruments with which the figures must have been executed, they seemed to exhibit tolerably strong likenesses. On the stones, where the natives had been thus exercising their abilities in sculpture, were several weather-beaten shells. The country all around this place was rather high and rocky, and the soil arid, parched, and inhospitable.
In the evening, after a long and fatiguing march, we fell in with the north-west branch of Port Jackson harbour. Here the two seamen, overcome with fatigue, and having their shoes torn from their feet through the ruggedness of the road along which we had travelled, could proceed no further. This circumstance induced the governor to consign them to the care of Lieutenant Ball and a marine, supplying them with provisions sufficient to last them till they reached the ships. His excellency, with the rest of the party, pushed on to the westward, by the water side, in hopes of finding better land and a more open country.
About four o’clock in the afternoon we came to a steep valley, where the flowing of the tide ceased, and a fresh-water stream commenced. Here, in the most desert, wild, and solitary seclusion that the imagination can form any idea of, we took up our abode for the night, dressed our provisions, washed our shirts and stockings, and turned our inconvenient situation to the best advantage in our power.
Saw this day the Anomalous Hornbill, of which a plate is annexed. This bird is so very singular in its several characteristics that it can scarcely be said to which of the present known genera to refer it. In the bill it seems most allied to the hornbill, but the legs are those of a toucan, and the tongue is more like that of a crow than any other. It must therefore be left to future ornithologists or determine the point, resting here satisfied with describing its external appearance.
The size of the body is not much less than that of a crow: the bill is very large and bent, particularly at the tip of the upper mandible; the nostrils and space round the eyes are bare and red; the head, neck, and all beneath, are of a pale grey, crossed over the thighs with dusky lines; the back and wings dusky lead-colour, with the end of each feather black; the tail is long and wedgeshaped, the feathers white at the ends, near which is a bar of black. The bill and legs are brown; the toes are placed two before and two behind, as in the parrot or toucan genus.
This singular bird was met with at New Holland, from whence three or four specimens have found their way to England, but whether it is a numerous species has not been mentioned.
The next morning we hid our tents and the remains of our provisions, and, with only a little rum and a small quantity of bread, made a forced march into the country, to the westward, of about fourteen miles, without being able to succeed in the object of our search, which was for good land, well-watered. Indeed, the land here, although covered with an endless wood, was better than the parts which we had already explored. Finding it, however, very unlikely that we should be able to penetrate through this immense forest, and circumstanced as we were, it was thought more prudent to return. We, accordingly, after an expeditious walk, reached the stream from whence we had set out in the morning, and, taking up the tents and provisions which we had left, proceeded a little farther down, to the flowing of the tide, and there pitched our tents for the night, during which it rained very heavily, with thunder and lightning.
The Wattled Bee-eater, of which a plate is annexed, fell in our way during the course of the day. This bird is the size of a missel thrush but much larger in proportion, its total length being about fourteen inches. The feathers on the upper part of the head, longer than the rest, give the appearance of a crest; those of the underpart are smooth; the plumage for the most part is brown, the feathers long and pointed, and each feather has a streak of white down the middle; under the eye, on each side, is a kind of wattle, of an orange colour; the middle of the belly is yellow; the tail is wedge-shaped, similar to that of the magpie, and the feathers tipped with white; the bill and legs are brown. This bird seems to be peculiar to New Holland, and is undoubtedly a species which has not hitherto been described.
18th April. We began our progress early in the morning, bending our course down the river. Some places along the shore, where the tide had flowed so as to obstruct our passage, we were obliged to ford, and at times we were under the necessity of climbing heights nearly inaccessible. At length, after undergoing much fatigue, we were agreeably surprised, and cheered, with the sight of two boats, sent by Captain Hunter to meet us, and just then coming up with the tide. By them we learnt, that Lieutenant Ball, with his enfeebled party, had arrived safe at the ship the day after they had quitted us.
We all went on board the boats, and fell down the river till we got to a pleasant little cove, where we dined, with great satisfaction and comfort, upon the welcome provisions which were sent in the boats by the governor’s steward. After having refreshed ourselves, we again embarked, and about six o’clock in the evening arrived in Sydney Cove.
We were likewise able, during this excursion, to take one of the Goldwinged Pigeons, of which a plate is annexed. This bird is a curious and singular species, remarkable for having most of the feathers of the wing marked with a brilliant spot of golden yellow, changing, in various reflections of light, to green and copper-bronze, and, when the wing is closed, forming two bars of the same across it. The general colour of the bird otherwise is brown, changing to vinaceous red on the breast, in the manner of our domestic species. The fore part of the head and chin are buff colour, with a streak of brownish red passing on each side through the eye. The quills and tail are darker than the rest of the plumage, but all the feathers of the last, except the two middle ones, incline to lead colour, with a bar of black near the tip. The bill and legs are of a dull red.
This species is a native of New South Wales, several of them having been sent from Port Jackson.
22d April. On the morning of this day the governor, accompanied by the same party, with the addition of Lieutenant Cresswell of the marines and six privates, landed at the head of the harbour, with an intention of penetrating into the country westward, as far as seven days provisions would admit of; every individual carrying his own allowance of bread, beef, rum, and water. The soldiers, beside their own provisions, carried a camp kettle and two tents, with their poles, etc.
Thus equipped, with the additional weight of spare shoes, shirts, trowsers, together with a great coat, or Scotch plaid, for the purpose of sleeping in, as the nights were cold, we proceeded on our destination. We likewise took with us a small hand hatchet in order to mark the trees as we went on, those marks (called in America blazing) being the only guide to direct us in our return. The country was so rugged as to render it almost impossible to explore our way by the assistance of the compass.
In this manner we proceeded for a mile or two, through a part well covered with enormous trees, free from underwood. We then reached a thicket of brush-wood, which we found so impervious as to oblige us to return nearly to the place from whence we had set out in the morning. Here we encamped, near some stagnant water, for the night, during which it thundered, lightened [sic], and rained. About eleven o’clock the governor was suddenly attacked with a most violent complaint in his side and loins, brought on by cold and fatigue, not having perfectly gotten the better of the last expedition.
The next morning being fine, his excellency, who was rather better, though still in pain, would not relinquish the object of his pursuit; and therefore we proceeded, and soon got round the wood or thicket which had harassed us so much the day before. After we had passed it, we fell in with an hitherto unperceived branch of Port Jackson harbour, along the bank of which the grass was tolerably rich and succulent, and in height nearly up to the middle, interspersed with a plant much resembling the indigo.
We followed this branch westward for a few miles, until we came to a small fresh-water stream that emptied itself into it. Here we took up our quarters for the night, as our halts were always regulated by fresh water, an essential point by no means to be dispensed with, and not very abundant or frequently to be met with, in this country. We made a kettle of excellent soup out of a white cockatoo and two crows, which I had shot, as we came along. The land all around us was similar to that which we had passed.
At night we had thunder, lightning, and rain. The governor, though not free from pain, was rather recovering.
24th April. As soon as the dew, which is remarkably heavy in this country, was off the ground, we proceeded to trace the river, or small arm of the sea. The banks of it were now pleasant, the trees immensely large, and at a considerable distance from each other; and the land around us flat and rather low, but well covered with the kind of grass just mentioned. Here the tide ceased to flow; and all further progress for boats was stopped by a flat space of large broad stones, over which a fresh-water stream ran.
Just above this flat, close to the water-side, we discovered a quarry of slates, from which we expected to derive great advantage in respect to covering our houses, stores, etc., it being a material beyond conception difficult to be procured in this country; but on trial it was found of no use, as it proved to be of a crumbling and rotten nature. On this fresh-water stream, as well as on the salt, we saw a great many ducks and teal, three of which we shot in the course of the day, besides two crows and some loraquets.
About four in the afternoon, being near the head of the stream, and somewhat apprehensive of rain, we pitched our tents before the grass became wet, a circumstance which would have proved very uncomfortable during the night. Here we had our ducks picked, stuffed with some slices of salt beef, and roasted, and never did a repast seem more delicious; the salt beef, serving as a palatable substitute for the want of salt, gave it an agreeable relish.
The evening cleared up, and the night proved dry. During the latter, we heard a noise which not a little surprised us, on account of its resemblance to the human voice. What it proceeded from we could not discover, but I am of opinion that it was made by a bird, or some animal. The country round us was by no means so good, or the grass so abundant, as that which we had passed. The water, though neither clear nor in any great quantity, was neither of a bad quality nor ill-tasted.
The next day, after having sowed some seeds, we pursued our route for three or four miles west, where we met with a mean hut belonging to some of the natives, but could not perceive the smallest trace of their having been there lately. Close to this hut we saw a kangaroo, which had come to drink at an adjacent pool of stagnated water, but we could not get within shot of it. A little farther on we fell in with three huts, as deserted as the former, and a swamp, not unlike the American rice grounds.
Near this we saw a tree in flames, without the least appearance of any natives; from which we suspected that it had been set on fire by lightning. This circumstance was first suggested by Lieutenant Ball, who had remarked, as well as myself, that every part of the country, though the most inaccessible and rocky, appeared as if, at certain times of the year, it had been all on fire. Indeed in many parts we met with very large trees the trunks of which and branches were evidently rent, and demolished by lightning. Close by the burning tree we saw three kangaroos.
Though by this time very much fatigued, we proceeded about two miles farther on, in hopes of finding some good water, but without effect; and about half past four o’clock we took up our quarters near a stagnant pool. The ground was so very dry and parched that it was with some difficulty we could drive either our tent pegs or poles into it. The country about this spot was much clearer of underwood than that which we had passed during the day. The trees around us were immensely large, and the tops of them filled with loraquets and paroquets of exquisite beauty, which chattered to such a degree that we could scarcely hear each other speak. We fired several times at them, but the trees were so very high that we killed but few.
26th April. We still directed our course westward, and passed another tree on fire, and others which were hollow and perforated by a small hole at the bottom, in which the natives seemed to have snared some animal. It was certainly done by the natives, as the trees where these holes or perforations were, had in general many knotches cut for the purpose of getting to the top of them.
After this we crossed a water-course, which shews that at some seasons the rain is very heavy here, notwithstanding that there was, at present, but little water in it. Beyond the chasm we came to a pleasant hill, the top of which was tolerably clear of trees and perfectly free from underwood. His excellency gave it the name of Belle Veüe.
From the top of this hill we saw a chain of hills or mountains, which appeared to be thirty or forty miles distant, running in a north and south direction. The northernmost being conspicuously higher than any of the rest, the governor called it Richmond Hill; the next, or those in the centre, Lansdown Hills; and those to the southward, which are by much the lowest, Carmarthen Hills.
In a valley below Belle Veüe we saw a fire, and by it found some chewed root of a saline taste, which shewed that the natives had recently been there. The country hereabout was pleasant to the eye, well wooded, and covered with long sour grass, growing in tufts. At the bottom of this valley, or flat, we crossed another water-course and ascended a hill, where the wood was so very thick as to obstruct our view. Here, finding our provisions to run short, our return was concluded on, though with great reluctance, as it was our wish, and had been our determination, to reach the hills before us if it had been possible.
In our way back, which we easily discovered by the marks made in the trees, we saw a hollow tree on fire, the smoke issuing out of the top part as through a chimney. On coming near, and minutely examining it, we found that it had been set on fire by the natives; for there was some dry grass lighted and put into the hole wherein we had supposed they used to snare or take the animal before alluded to. In the evening, where we pitched our tents we shot two crows and some loraquets, for supper. The night was fine and clear, during which we often heard, as before, a sound like the human voice, and, from its continuance on one spot, we concluded it to proceed from a bird perched on some of the trees near us.
27th April. We now found ourselves obliged to make a forced march back, as our provisions were quite exhausted, a circumstance rather alarming in case of losing our way, which, however, we met with no difficulty in discovering by the marked trees. By our calculation we had penetrated into the country, to the westward, not less than thirty-two or thirty-three miles.
This day we saw the dung of an animal as large as that of a horse, but it was more like the excrement of a hog, intermixed with grass.
When we got as far back as the arm or branch of the sea which forms the upper part of Port Jackson harbour, we saw many ducks, but could not get within shot of any of them. It was now growing late, and the governor being apprehensive that the boats, which he had ordered to attend daily, might be, for that day, returning before we could reach them, he sent Lieutenants Johnston and Cresswell, with a marine, a-head, in order to secure such provisions as might have been sent up, and to give directions for the boats to come for us the next morning, as it then appeared very unlikely that all the party, who were, without exception, much fatigued, could be there soon enough to save the tide down. Those gentlemen accordingly went forward, and were so fortunate as to be just in time; and they returned to us with a seasonable supply of bread, beef, rum, and wine.
As soon as they had joined us, we encamped for the night, on a spot about the distance of a mile from the place where the boats were to take us up in the morning. His excellency was again indisposed, occasioned by a return of his complaint, which had been brought on by a fall into a hollow place in the ground that, being concealed by the long grass, he was unable to discern.
We passed the next day in examining different inlets in the upper part of the harbour. We saw there some of the natives, who, in their canoes, came along-side of the boat, to receive some trifles which the governor held out to them. In the evening we returned to Sydney Cove.
1st May. James Bennet, a youth, was executed for robbing a tent, belonging to the Charlotte transport, of sugar and some other articles. Before he was turned off he confessed his guilt, and acknowledged that, young as he was, he had been an old offender. Some other trifling thefts were brought before the court at the same time, and those concerned in them sentenced to receive corporeal punishment.
The Supply tender sailed for Lord Howe’s Island to fetch turtle; as did the Lady Penrhyn transport for China. The Scarborough dropped down the harbour; she was followed the next day by the Charlotte, and they sailed in company for China.
Some of the natives came along-side the Sirius, and made signs to have their beards taken off. One of them patiently, and without fear or distrust, underwent the operation from the ship’s barber, and seemed much delighted with it.
21st May. William Ayres, a convict, who was in a state of convalescence, and to whom I had given permission to go a little way into the country, for the purpose of gathering a few herbs wherewith to make tea, was, after night, brought to the hospital with one of the spears used by the natives sticking in his loins. It had been darted at him as he was stooping, and while his back was turned to the assailant. The weapon was barbed, and stuck so very fast that it would admit of no motion. After dilating the wound to a considerable length and depth, with some difficulty I extracted the spear, which had penetrated the flesh nearly three inches.
After the operation, he informed us that he received his wound from three of the natives, who came behind him at a time when he suspected no person to be near him except Peter Burn, whom he had met a little before, employed on the same business as himself. He added that after they had wounded him they beat him in a cruel manner, and, stripping the cloaths from his back, carried them off; making signs to him (as he interpreted them) to return to the camp. He further related that after they had left him he saw Burn in the possession of another party of the natives, who were dragging him along, with his head bleeding, and seemingly in great distress, while he himself was so exhausted with loss of blood that, instead of being able to assist his companion, he was happy to escape with his life.
The Port Jackson thrush, of which a plate is annexed, inhabits the neighbourhood of Port Jackson. The top of the head in this species is blueish-grey; from thence down the hind part of the neck and the back the colour is a fine chocolate brown; the wings and tail are lead colour, the edges of the feathers pale; the tail itself pretty long, and even at the end; all the under parts from chin to vent are dusky-white, except the middle of the neck, just above the breast, which inclines to chocolate. The bill is of a dull yellow; legs brown.
25th May. The Supply arrived from Lord Howe’s Island without a single turtle, the object for which she was sent: a dreadful disappointment to those who were languishing under the scurvy, many of whom are since dead, and there is great reason to fear that several others will soon share the same fate. This disorder has now risen to a most alarming height, without any possibility of checking it until some vegetables can be raised, which, from the season of the year, cannot take place for many months. And even then I am apprehensive that there will not be a sufficiency produced, such are the labour and difficulty which attend the clearing of the ground.
It will scarcely be credited when I declare that I have known twelve men employed for five days in grubbing up one tree; and, when this has been effected, the timber (as already observed) has been only fit for fire-wood; so that in consequence of the great labour in clearing of the ground and the weak state of the people, to which may be added the scarcity of tools, most of those we had being either worn out by the hardness of the timber or lost in the woods among the grass through the carelessness of the convicts, the prospect before us is not of the most pleasing kind.
All the stock that was landed, both public and private, seems, instead of thriving, to fall off exceedingly. The number at first was but inconsiderable, and even that number is at present much diminished. The sheep, in particular, decrease rapidly, very few being now alive in the colony, although there were numbers, the property of Government or individuals, when first landed.
26th May. Two men of the Sirius were brought before the criminal court and tried for assaulting and beating, in a cruel manner, another man belonging to the same vessel, while employed on an island appropriated by the governor to the use of the ship. They were sentenced to receive five hundred lashes each, but could not undergo the whole of that punishment, as, like most of the persons in the colony, they were much afflicted with the scurvy.
28th May. Captain Hunter, his first lieutenant, and the surgeon of the Sirius went to the point of land which forms the north head of Port Jackson. In going there they discovered an old man, with a little girl about five years of age, lying close to the ground watching their motions, and at the same time endeavouring to conceal themselves. The surgeon had his gun with him, the effects of which he let the old man see by shooting a bird, which fell at his feet. The explosion at first greatly alarmed him, but, perceiving that they intended him no ill, he soon got over his fears. The bird was then given to him, which (having barely plucked, and not more than half broiled it) he devoured, entrails, bones, and all. The little girl was much frightened, and endeavoured to hide herself behind the old man, to escape the least observation.
30th May. Captain Campbell of the marines, who had been up the harbour to procure some rushes for thatch, brought to the hospital the bodies of William Okey and Samuel Davis, two rush-cutters, whom he had found murdered by the natives in a shocking manner.
Okey was transfixed through the breast with one of their spears, which with great difficulty and force was pulled out. He had two other spears sticking in him to a depth which must have proved mortal. His skull was divided and comminuted so much that his brains easily found a passage through. His eyes were out, but these might have been picked away by birds.
Davis was a youth, and had only some trifling marks of violence about him. This lad could not have been many hours dead, for when Captain Campbell found him, which was among some mangrove-trees, and at a considerable distance from the place where the other man lay, he was not stiff nor very cold; nor was he perfectly so when brought to the hospital. From these circumstances we have been led to think that while they were dispatching Okey he had crept to the trees among which he was found, and that fear, united with the cold and wet, in a great degree contributed to his death.
What was the motive or cause of this melancholy catastrophe we have not been able to discover, but from the civility shewn on all occasions to the officers by the natives, whenever any of them were met, I am strongly inclined to think that they must have been provoked and injured by the convicts.
We this day caught a Yellow-eared Flycatcher (see annexed plate). This bird is a native of New Holland, the size of a martin, and nearly seven inches in length; the bill is broad at the bottom and of a pale colour; the legs dusky; the plumage is mostly brown, mottled with paler brown; the edges of the wing feathers yellowish; the under part of the body white, inclining to dusky about the chin and throat; the tail is pretty long and, when spread, seems hollowed out at the tip; beneath the eye, on each side, is an irregular streak, growing wider and finishing on the ears, of a yellow or gold colour.
Early the next morning the governor, Lieutenants G. Johnston and Kellow, myself, six soldiers, and two armed convicts, whom we took as guides, went to the place where the murder had been committed, in hopes, by some means or other, to be able to find out either the actual perpetrators or those concerned. As most of their clothes and all their working tools were carried off, we expected that these might furnish us with some clue, but in this we were disappointed. We could not observe a single trace of the natives ever having been there.
We then crossed the country to Botany Bay, still flattering ourselves that we might be able to discover, among a tribe at that place, some proof that they had been concerned, as the governor was resolved on whomsoever he found any of the tools or clothing to shew them his displeasure, and by every means in his power endeavour to convince them of his motives for such a procedure. In our route we saw several kangaroos, and shot a very fine teal.
A little before sun-set, after a long and fatiguing march, we arrived at Botany Bay. When we approached the bay we saw eleven canoes, with two persons in each, fishing; most of them had a fire in their canoe, a convenience which they seldom go without at any time or season, but particularly at this as the weather was very cold. Here we pitched our tents, for (as I have before observed) we never travel without them, and kindled large fires both in front and rear; still, however, the cold was so very intense that we could scarcely close our eyes during the night. In the morning the grass was quite white with a hoar frost, so as to crackle under out feet.
After breakfast we visited the grave of the French abbé who died whilst the Count de Peyrouse was here. It was truly humble indeed, being distinguished only by a common head-stone, stuck slightly into the loose earth which covered it. Against a tree, just above it, was nailed a board, with the following inscription on it:
EX F. F. MINORIBUS GALLIA SACERDOS
PHYSICUS IN CIRCUMNAVIGATIONE MUNDI
DUCE D. DE LA PEYROUSE.
OBIIT DIE 17th FEBR. ANNO 1788.
As the painting on the board could not be permanent, Governor Phillip had the inscription engraved on a plate of copper and nailed to the same tree; and at some future day he intends to have a handsome head-stone placed at the grave. We cut down some trees which stood between that on which the inscription is fixed and the shore, as they prevented persons passing in boats from seeing it.
Between this and the harbour’s mouth we found forty-nine canoes hauled upon the beach, but not a native to be seen. After we had passed them, we fell in with an Indian path, and, as it took a turn towards the camp, we followed it about two miles, when, on a sudden, in a valley or little bay to the northward of Botany Bay we were surprised at hearing the sound of voices, which we instantly found to proceed from a great number of the natives, sitting behind a rock, who appeared to be equally astonished with ourselves, as, from the silence we observed, they had not perceived us till we were within twenty yards of them.
Every one of them, as they got up, armed himself with a long spear, the short stick before described, used in throwing it, a shield made of bark, and either a large club, pointed at one end, or a stone hatchet. At first they seemed rather hostilely inclined, and made signs, with apparent tokens of anger, for us to return; but when they saw the governor advance towards them, unarmed, and with his hands opened wide (a signal we had observed among them of amity and peace), they, with great confidence, came up to him, and received from him some trifles which he had in his pocket, such as fish-hooks, beads, and a looking-glass.
As there appeared not to be less than three hundred of them in this bay, all armed, the soldiers were ordered to fix their bayonets, and to observe a close, well-connected order of march, as they descended the hill. These people (as already mentioned) seem to dislike red coats and and those who carry arms, but on the present occasion they shewed very little fear or distrust; on the contrary, they in a few minutes mixed with us, and conducted us to a very fine stream of water, out of which some of them drank, to shew that it was good.
The women and children kept at some distance, one or two more forward than the rest excepted, who came to the governor for some presents. While he was distributing his gifts, the women danced (an exercise every description of people in this country seem fond of), and threw themselves into some not very decent attitudes. The men in general had their skins smeared all over with grease, or some stinking, oily substance; some wore a small stick or fish-bone, fixed crossways, in the division of the nose, which had a very strange appearance; others were painted in a variety of ways, and had their hair ornamented with the teeth of fish, fastened on by gum, and the skin of the kangaroo.
As they conducted us to the water, a toadstool was picked up by one of our company, which, some of the natives perceiving, they made signs for us to throw it away, as not being good to eat. Soon after I gathered some woodsorrel, which grew in our way, but none of them endeavoured to prevent me from eating it; on the contrary, if a conclusion may be drawn from the signs which they made relative to the toadstool, they shewed, by their looks, that there was nothing hurtful in it.
We halted but a short time with them, as it was growing late and we had a long way to walk. Before we parted from them the governor gave them two small hand-axes, in exchange for some of their stone axes and two of their spears. As we ascended a hill, after our departure from them, eight of them followed us until we had nearly reached the top, where one of those who had been most familiar with us made signs for us to stop; which we readily complying with, he ran to the summit and made a strange kind of hallooing, holding at the same time his hands open above his head.
As soon as we came up to him, we discovered another large body of them in a bay, about half a mile below us. Our new friend seemed anxious to carry us down to them, but, it not being in our way, we declined his offer. Seeing us take another direction, he halted and opened his hands, in order, as we supposed, to put us in mind that he had received nothing from us; upon which we presented him with a bird, the only thing we had, with which he returned, to appearance, fully content and satisfied.
We now proceeded towards the camp, where we arrived about sun-set.
This was the greatest number of the natives we had ever seen together since our coming among them. What could be the cause of their assembling in such numbers gave rise to a variety of conjectures. Some thought they were going to war among themselves, as they had with them a temporary store of half-stinking fish and fern-root, the latter of which they use for bread. This we remarked as several of them were eating it at the time we were among them. Others conjectured that some of them had been concerned in the murder of our men, notwithstanding we did not meet with the smallest trace to countenance such an opinion, and that, fearing we should revenge it, they had formed this convention in order to defend themselves against us. Others imagined that the assemblage might be occasioned by a burial, a marriage, or some religious meeting.
The Tabuan Parrot, one of which was observed here, and of which a plate is annexed, is a bird about eighteen inches in length, and bigger than the Scarlet Lory. The head, neck, and under parts are of a fine scarlet; the upper parts of the body and wings are of a beautiful green; across the upper part of the wing coverts is an oblique bar of yellowish green, more glossy than the rest; the lower part of the back and rump is blue; there is also a small patch of blue at the lower part of the neck behind, between a scarlet and green, dividing those colours; the tail is pretty long, and of an olive brown colour; the bill is reddish; the legs deep brown, nearly black.
The female is mostly green; the head, neck, and under parts olive brown; belly red; rump blue; tail, on the upper surface, green, beneath dusky.
The above inhabits Botany Bay, and seems much allied to the Tabuan Parrot described by Mr. Latham in his Synopsis of Birds; but in that the head, neck, and under parts incline to purplish or chocolate colour; both quills and tail are blue, more or less edged with green, and a crescent of blue at the back part of the neck; it has also the under jaw surrounded with green feathers. It is probable, therefore, that our bird is only a variety of the Tabuan species.
4th June. This being the anniversary of his Majesty’s birth-day, and the first celebration of it in New South Wales, his excellency ordered the Sirius and Supply to fire twenty-one guns at sun-rise, at one o’clock, and at sunset.
Immediately after the King’s ships had ceased firing, at one o’clock, the Borrowdale, Friendship, Fishburne, Golden Grove, and Prince of Wales fired five guns each. The battalion was under arms at twelve and fired three vollies, succeeded by three cheers.
After this ceremony had taken place, the lieutenant-governor, with all the officers of the settlement, civil and military, paid their respects to his excellency at his house. At two o’clock they all met there again to dinner, during which the band of musick played “God save the King” and several excellent marches. After the cloth was removed, his Majesty’s health was drank with three cheers. The Prince of Wales, the Queen and royal family, the Cumberland family, and his Royal Highness Prince William Henry succeeded. His Majesty’s ministers were next given; who, it was observed, may be Pitted against any that ever conducted the affairs of Great Britain.
When all the public toasts had gone round, the governor nominated the district which he had taken possession of, Cumberland County; and gave it such an extent of boundary as to make it the largest county in the whole world. His excellency said that he had intended to have named the town, and laid the first stone, on this auspicious day, but the unexpected difficulties which he had met with, in clearing the ground and from a want of artificers, had rendered it impossible; he therefore put it off till a future day. Its name, however, we understand, is to be ALBION.
The day was passed in cheerfulness and good-humour; but it was a little damped by our perceiving that the governor was in great pain, from a return of his complaint. Though his countenance too plainly indicated the torture which he suffered, he took every method in his power to conceal it, lest it should break in upon the festivity and harmony of the day.
His excellency ordered every soldier a pint of porter, besides his allowance of grog, and every convict half a pint of spirits, made into grog, that they all might drink his Majesty’s health; and, as it was a day of general rejoicing and festivity, he likewise made it a day of forgiveness, remitting the remainder of the punishment to which the sailors of the Sirius were subject, and pardoning Lovel, Sideway, Hall, and Gordon, who had been confined on a little sterile island, or rather rock, situated in the harbour, until a place of banishment could be found.
This act of lenity and mercy, added to many others which the governor had shewn, it is to be hoped will work some change on the minds of these men. Indeed some good may be expected from Hall and Gordon, who, since their sentence, have appeared penitent; but from Lovel and Sideway very little change for the better can be expected, because they seem so truly abandoned and incorrigible.
At night every person attended an immense bonfire that was lighted for the occasion, after which the principal officers of the settlement, and of the men of war, supped at the governor’s, where they terminated the day in pleasantry, good humour and cheerfulness.
The next morning we were astonished at the number of thefts which had been committed, during the general festivity, by the villanous part of the convicts, on one another, and on some of the officers, whose servants did not keep a strict look-out after their marquees. Availing themselves thus of the particular circumstances of the day, is a strong instance of their unabated depravity and want of principle. Scarcely a day passes without an example being made of some one or other of these wretches, but it seems to have no manner of effect upon them.
10th June. John Ascott and Patrick Burn, two convicts, were brought before the criminal court and prosecuted by Lieutenant G. William Maxwell of the Sirius, and Mr Kelter, the Master of the same ship, for having, a few nights before, in a riotous manner, with many more of the convicts, attacked some seamen belonging to the men of war, and behaving in an insolent and contemptuous manner to them. After a long and judicious hearing, the prisoners were acquitted, as the charge brought against them was by no means substantiated.
26th June. About four in the afternoon a slight shock of an earthquake was felt at Sydney Cove and its environs. This incident had so wonderful an effect on Edward Corbett, a convict, who had eloped about three weeks before, on a discovery being made of his having stolen a frock, that he returned and gave himself up to justice. A few days antecedent to his return he had been outlawed, and was supposed to have driven off with him four cows, the only animals of this kind in the colony. This, however, he declared himself innocent of, but confessed his having committed the theft laid to his charge.
The strictest search was made, but in vain, after the cows. It is probable that they have strayed so far off, in this endless wild, as to be irrecoverably lost.
Previously to the return of Corbett he must have suffered very severely from hunger; his eyes were sunk into his head and his whole appearance shewed that he had been half starved. While he was absent, he says, he frequently fell in with the natives, who, though they never treated him ill, did not seem to like his company. He informed us that, in a bay adjacent to that where the governor and his party had met with so many of the natives, he saw the head of one of the convicts lying near the place where the body had been burnt in a large fire. This, in all likelihood, was Burn, who was carried off at the time Ayres was wounded, as he has not been heard of since.
The natives of this country, though their mode of subsisting seems to be so very scanty and precarious, are, I am convinced, not cannibals. One of their graves, which I saw opened, the only one I have met with, contained a body which had evidently been burned, as small pieces of the bones lay in the bottom of it. The grave was neatly made, and well covered with earth and boughs of trees.
The Pennantian Parrot (of which see plate annexed) was about this time first noticed. The general colour of the body, in the male, is crimson; the feathers of the back black in their middle; the chin and throat blue; the wings blue, with a bar of a paler colour down the middle of them; the tail is long, and blue also, and all but the two middle feathers have the ends very pale.
The female differs in having the upper parts of the neck and body of a greenish colour; the top of the head red, and a patch of the same under each eye; the chin and throat blue; lower part of the neck and breast red, as are the rump and vent; the middle of the belly dusky green; tail dark blue, fringed with chestnut; shoulders blue; the rest of the wing the same, but darker; bill and legs as in the male.
24th June. The governor revoked the decree by which Corbett was outlawed, and he was tried by the criminal court simply for the theft he had committed, and sentenced to be hanged.
Samuel Payton, a convict, likewise received the same sentence, for feloniously entering the marquee of Lieutenant Fuzer, on the night of the fourth of June, and stealing from thence some shirts, stockings and combs. His trial had been put off to the present time on account of a wound in his head, which he had received from Captain Lieutenant Meredith, who, on his return from the bonfire, found Payton in his marquée. When brought to the hospital, in consequence of the wound which he had received, he was perfectly senseless. During the time he remained under my care, I frequently admonished him to think of the perilous situation he then stood in, and to make known the accomplices whom he was supposed to have; but he firmly and uniformly denied his guilt and disclaimed his having any knowledge of, or concern in, robbing Lieutenant Fuzer.
He further said that he did not recollect how he came to Captain Lieutenant Meredith’s tent, or any circumstance relative to it. However, since he received his sentence he has confessed that he robbed Lieutenant Fuzer, and gave him information where to find the articles he had been robbed of; he at the same time acknowledged that he entered Mr. Meredith’s marquee with an intention to rob him, doubting not but he should be able to make his escape undiscovered, as every one seemed so fully engaged on the pleasures of the day.
When he and Corbett were brought to the fatal tree, they (particularly Payton) addressed the convicts in a pathetic, eloquent, and well-directed speech. He acknowledged the justice of his sentence, a sentence, which (he said) he had long deserved. He added that he hoped and trusted that the ignominious death he was about to suffer would serve as a caution and warning to those who saw and heard him. They both prayed most fervently, begging forgiveness of an offended GOD. They likewise hoped that those whom they had injured would not only forgive them, as they themselves did all mankind, but offer up their prayers to a merciful REDEEMER that, though so great sinners, they might be received into that bliss which the good and virtuous only can either deserve or expect.
They were now turned off, and in the agonizing moments of the separation of the soul from the body seemed to embrace each other.
The execution of these unhappy youths, the eldest of whom was not twenty-four years of age, which seemed to make a greater impression on the convicts than any circumstance had done since their landing, will induce them, it is to be hoped, to change their conduct, and to adopt a better mode of life than, I am sorry to say, they have hitherto pursued.
The principal business now going forward is the erecting huts for the marines and convicts, with the cabbage-tree. We have been here nearly six months and four officers only as yet got huts: when the rest will be provided with them seems uncertain, but this I well know, that living in tents, as the rainy season has commenced, is truly uncomfortable and likely to give a severe trial to the strongest and most robust constitution.
The trees of this country are immensely large, and clear of branches to an amazing height. While standing, many of them look fair and good to the eye, and appear sufficient to make a mast for the largest ship, but, when cut down, they are scarcely convertible to any use whatever. At the heart they are full of veins through which an amazing quantity of an astringent red gum issues. This gum I have found very serviceable in an obstinate dysentery that raged at our first landing, and still continues to do so, though with less obstinacy and violence.
When these trees are sawed, and any way exposed to the sun, the gum melts, or gets so very brittle, that the wood falls to pieces, and appears as if the pieces had been joined together with this substance. How any kind of houses, except those built of the cabbage tree, can be raised up, the timber being so exceedingly bad, it is impossible to determine.
I have already said that the stone of this country is well calculated for building, could any kind of cement be found to keep them together. As for lime-stone, we have not yet discovered any in the country, and the shells collected for that purpose have been but inconsiderable. From Captain Cook’s account, one would be led to suppose that oyster and cockle shells might be procured in such quantities as to make a sufficiency of lime, for the purpose of constructing at least a few public buildings, but this is by no means the case. That great navigator, notwithstanding his usual accuracy and candour, was certainly too lavish of his praises on Botany Bay.
The peculiarity I have mentioned relative to the wood of this place is strange. There are only three kinds of it, and neither of them will float on the water. We have found another resin here, not unlike the balsam Tolu in smell and effect, but differing widely in colour, being of a clear yellow, which exudes from the tree. This, however, is not to be met with in such quantities as the red gum before mentioned, nor do I think that its medicinal virtues are by any means so powerful.
A kind of earth has been discovered which makes good bricks, but we still are in want of cement for them as well as for the stone.
What animals we have yet met with have been mostly of the Opossum kind.² The Kangaroo, so very accurately delineated by Captain Cook, is certainly of that class, and the largest animal seen in the country. One has been brought into camp which weighed a hundred and forty-nine pounds. See plate annexed.
The conformation of this animal is peculiarly singular. Its hinder parts have great muscular power, and are, perhaps, beyond all parallel out of proportion when compared with the fore parts. As it goes, it jumps on its two hind legs, from twenty to twenty-eight feet, and keeps the two fore ones close to the breast; these are small and short, and it seems to use them much like a squirrel. The tail of these animals is thick and long; they keep it extended, and it serves as a kind of counterpoise to the head, which they carry erect, when bounding at full speed.
The velocity of a Kangaroo as far outstrips that of a greyhound as that animal exceeds in swiftness a common dog. It is a very timid, shy, and inoffensive creature, evidently of the granivorous kind. Upon our first discovering one of them, as it does not use its fore feet to assist it in running, or rather jumping, many were of opinion that the tail, which is immensely large and long, was made use of by them in the act of progression; but this is by no means the case. Had it been used in such a manner, the hair would probably have been worn away from the part which, of course, must be applied to the ground.
The tail, from its size and weight, seems to serve it for a weapon both of defence and offence; for it does not appear that nature has provided it with any other. Its mouth and head, even when full grown, are too small for it to do much execution with the teeth; nor is the conformation of either at all calculated for the purpose. Indeed, its fore feet, which it uses, as a squirrel or monkey, to handle any thing with, and which assist it in lying down, are too small and out of proportion, as are all the superior parts, to admit of its either possessing or exerting much strength.
It has been reported by some convicts who were out one day, accompanied by a large Newfoundland dog, that the latter seized a very large Kangaroo but could not preserve its hold. They observed that the animal effected its escape by the defensive use it made of its tail, with which it struck its assailant in a most tremendous manner. The blows were applied with such force and efficacy, that the dog was bruised, in many places, till the blood flowed. They observed that the Kangaroo did not seem to make any use of either its teeth or fore feet, but fairly beat off the dog with its tail, and escaped before the convicts, though at no great distance, could get up to secure it.
The female has a pouch or pocket, like the Opossum, in which she carries her young. Some have been shot with a young one, not larger than a walnut, sticking to a teat in this pocket. Others, with young ones not bigger than a rat: one of which, most perfectly formed, with every mark and distinguishing characteristic of the Kangaroo, I have sent to Mr. Wilson, of Gower Street, Bedford Square.
There is a peculiar formation in the generative parts of this animal. Of its natural history we at present know little, and therefore, as we are so unacquainted with its habits, haunts, and customs, to attempt particular and accurate descriptions of it might beget error, which time, or a fuller knowledge of its properties, would directly contradict. As to mere conjectures (and such too often are imposed upon the public for incontestible facts), it cannot be improper to suppress them.
Every animal in this country partakes, in a great measure, of the nature of the Kangaroo. We have the Kangaroo Opossum, the Kangaroo Rat, etc. In fact every quadruped that we have seen, except the flying squirrel, and a spotted creature, nearly the size of a Martin, resembles the Kangaroo in the formation of the fore legs and feet, which bear no proportion to the length of the hind legs.
The scarcity of boats will prevent our being so well supplied with fish as otherwise might be expected. Fish is far from abounding at the cold season of the year, but, in the summer, judging from the latter end of the last, we have every reason to conclude that the little bays and coves in the harbour are well stored with them. The fish caught here are, in general, excellent, but several of them, like the animals in some degree resembling the Kangaroo, partake of the properties of the shark. The land, the grass, the trees, the animals, the birds, and the fish, in their different species, approach by strong shades of similitude to each other. A certain likeness runs through the whole.
8th July. A party of the natives came to the place where the Sirius’s boat had been to haul the seine, and, having beaten the crew, took from them by force a part of the fish which they had caught. It is a great misfortune to us that we cannot find proper wood in this place wherewith to build a boat, particularly as fish is not only so very plentiful in the summer but the only change from salt provisions which we can procure, there being neither wild nor domestic animals fit for food.
Here, where no other animal nourishment is to be procured, the Kangaroo is considered as a dainty; but in any other country I am sure that such food would be thrown to the dogs, for it has very little or no fat about it, and, when skinned, the flesh bears some likeness to that of a fox or lean dog.
A few days since a civil court of jurisdiction (which consisted of the judge advocate, the Reverend Mr. Johnson, and myself), was convened, by his excellency, to hear a complaint made against Duncan Sinclair, master of the Alexander transport, by Henry Coble and Susannah his wife (the Norwich convicts who so much excited the public attention), for the non-delivery of a parcel sent on board the Alexander, by Mrs. Jackson of Somerset Street, containing wearing apparel, books, and other things, for the use of the said Henry Coble, his wife, and child, value twenty pounds. The parcel was proved (and this even by the acknowledgment of the master) to have been received on board; and it likewise appeared in evidence that, on moving it from one part of the ship to another, the package had broken and the books had fallen out, which books the convict said had been delivered to him.
The court, after deducting five pounds (the value of the books received), gave a verdict in favour of the couple, in whose cause the world had seemed so much to interest themselves, and in consequence of the authority unto them granted by Act of Parliament, in such cases made and provided, they adjudged the master of the transport fully to compensate the loss of the convicts, amounting to fifteen pounds.
Sinclair considered it as oppressive to be obliged to pay for that on account of which he had not received any freightage, but this objection had no weight with the court, as the ship was in the service of government and paid for the sole purpose of conveying these people, and the little property which they possessed, to this country.
13th July. The Alexander, Friendship, and Prince of Wales transports, with the Borrowdale victualler, sailed for England. His Majesty’s brig the Supply sailed at the same time for Norfolk Island, with provisions, etc. for the people there.
21st July. I went down the harbour, with the master of the Golden Grove victualler, to look for a cabbage tree as a covering for my hut. On our return, we fell in with three canoes that had been out fishing. We rowed towards them, when the natives in them suddenly appeared intimidated, and paddled away with all possible dispatch. Willing to convince them that they had nothing to dread from us, we rowed after them, in order to present them with some trifles which we had about us. When we approached the canoes, an old woman in one of them began to cast her fish overboard, in great haste; whether it was for fear that we should take them from her, or whether she threw them to us, we could not ascertain. However, when we came along-side, our conduct soon convinced her that her alarms, with respect to us, were groundless.
She had in the canoe with her a young girl, whom, as she wore a complete apron, we could not help considering as such an instance of female decency, as we had not at any other time observed among the natives. The girl did not betray the least sign of apprehension, but rather seemed pleased at the interview. She laughed immoderately, either at us or at the petulance shown by the old woman, who, I believe, was more terrified on the girl’s account than on her own.
After this we left them fully satisfied that we did not mean to offer them any injury.
We discovered the New Holland Creeper (see plate annexed). The general colour of the bird is black, spotted in various parts with white: the bill is dusky, growing paler towards the tip; the neck, breast, belly, and sides are more or less streaked with white; over the eye is also a white streak, and the sides of the neck and beginning of the back have likewise some streaks of the same. The quills and tail feathers are marked with yellow on the outer margins; the last are rounded in shape, and two or three of the outer feathers spotted within, at the tip, with white; legs dusky; is about the size of a nightingale, and measures seven inches in length. It is probably a non-descript species.
A party of convicts, who had crossed the country to Botany Bay to gather a kind of plant resembling balm, which we found to be a good and pleasant vegetable, were met by a superior number of the natives, armed with spears and clubs, who chased them for two miles without being able to overtake them; but, if they had succeeded in the pursuit, it is probable that they would have put them to death, for wherever persons unarmed, or inferior in numbers, have fallen in with them, they have never failed to maltreat them.
The natives had with them some middling-sized dogs, somewhat resembling the species called in England fox-dogs. A servant of Captain Shea being one day out shooting, he found a very young puppy, belonging to the natives, eating part of a dead Kangaroo. He brought it to the camp, and it thrives much. The dog, in shape, is rather short and well made, has very fine hair of the nature of fur, and a sagacious look. When found, though not more than a month old, he showed some symptoms of ferocity. It was a considerable time before he could be induced to eat any flesh that was boiled, but he would gorge it raw with great avidity. (See plate annexed.)
23rd July. The blacksmith’s shop, which was built of common brush wood, was burnt down. Very fortunately for us, the bellows and the other tools were, through the exertion of the people, saved. To effect this was no easy point, as in the course of three or four minutes, the wood being very dry, every part of the shop was in flames.
29th July. One of the convicts was met by some of the natives, who wounded him very severely in the breast and head with their spears. They would undoubtedly have destroyed him had he not plunged into the sea, near which he happened to be, and by that means saved himself. When he was brought to the hospital he was very faint from the loss of blood, which had flowed plentifully from his wounds. A piece of a broken spear had entered through the scalp and under his ear, so that the extraction gave him great pain.
Their spears are made of a kind of cane which grows out of the tree that produces the yellow gum; they are ten or twelve feet long, pointed, and sometimes barbed, with a piece of the same cane or the teeth of fish. These they throw, with the assistance of the short stick already mentioned, which has a shell made fast to the end of it with the yellow gum.
With this gum they likewise fasten their barbs to their spears and fish-gigs. The latter of these differ from the former by having four prongs, and being always barbed, which is not generally the case with the spears.
Their spears, the only weapon they are ever seen to have that may be considered in any degree as dangerous, they throw thirty or forty yards with an unerring precision. When equipped for any exploit, they are also armed with a shield made of the bark of a tree, with which they very dexterously ward off any thing thrown at them. An humble kind of scymitar, a bludgeon, or club, about twenty inches long, with a large and pointed end, and sometimes a stone hatchet, make up the catalogue of their military implements.
We this day shot a Knob-fronted Bee-eater (see plate annexed). This is about the size of a blackbird; the plumage mostly brown above and white beneath; the head and upper part of the neck are sparingly covered with narrow feathers, almost like hairs; but the fore part of the neck and breast are furnished with long ones, of a white colour and pointed at the ends; the tail is pretty long, and the feathers tipped with white; the bill is about one inch in length, and pale; but, what is most remarkable, on the forehead, just at the base of the bill, is a short blunt knob, about a quarter of an inch in length and of a brownish colour; the tongue is nearly of the length of the bill, and bristly at the end; the legs are brown. This inhabits New South Wales, and is supposed to be a non-descript species.
This day three canoes, with a man and woman in each, came behind the point on which the hospital is built, to fish. I went over to them, as did two other gentlemen, my assistants, without their shewing any fear at our coming; on the contrary, they manifested a friendly confidence. We gave them some bread, which they received with apparent pleasure, but did not eat any of it while in our presence. We likewise presented them with a looking-glass, but this they received with indifference, and seemed to hold in no kind of estimation.
I gave one of the women a pocket handkerchief, which she immediately tied round her head, and shewed great satisfaction. She had a young child between her knees in the canoe (the way in which they always carry their infants), for whom she solicited something, in the most suppliant tone of voice I ever heard. The only thing I had about me was a narrow slip of linen, which I gave her; and, trifling as it was, she appeared to be perfectly satisfied with it, and bound it round the child’s head. She would not come out of the canoe, though along-side the rocks; but the man quitted it, and shewed us some wild figs that grew near at hand. Such as were green and unripe he did not pull; but, after some search, having found one that was tolerably ripe, he made me pluck it and put it into his mouth. He eat it with an apparent relish, and smacked his lips, after he had swallowed it, to convince us how good it was.
At some little distance from the place where we were a sheep lay dead. As soon as he had discovered it, he took it by the horns, and, as well as we could understand him, he was extremely inquisitive and anxious to know what it was. When his curiosity was satisfied, he went into the canoe, where the woman had been waiting for him.
About ten or twenty yards from the shore, among the long grass, in the shallow water, he struck and took with his fish-gig several good fish; an acquisition to which, at this season of the year, it being cold and wet, we were unequal. While he was engaged in watching for them, both he and the woman chewed something, which they frequently spit into the water; and which appeared to us, from his immediately striking a fish, to be a lure.
While they were thus employed, one of the gentlemen with me sung some songs; and when he had done, the females in the canoes either sung one of their own songs, or imitated him, in which they succeeded beyond conception. Any thing spoken by us they most accurately recited, and this in a manner of which we fell greatly short in our attempts to repeat their language after them.
While we were thus amicably engaged, all on a sudden they paddled away from us. On looking about to discover the cause, we perceived the gunner of the Supply at some little distance, with a gun in his hand, an instrument of death, against which they entertain an insuperable aversion. As soon as I discovered him, I called to him to stay where he was, and not make a nearer approach; or, if he did, to lay down his gun. The latter request he immediately complied with; and when the natives saw him unarmed they shewed no further fear, but, returning to their employment, continued alternately to sing songs and to mimic the gentlemen who accompanied me.
August. We this day shot the Sacred Kings-Fisher (see Plate annexed). This bird is about the size of a thrush, and measures nearly ten inches in length: the top of the head is blue, and crested; sides of the head, and back part of it, black; over the eye, from the nostrils, a rusty-coloured streak; the chin, the middle of the neck, all round, and all the under part of the body, buffcolour, more or less inclining to rust; the upper part of the plumage chiefly blue; but the beginning of the back is black, as are also the quills and tail feathers within, being blue only on the outer edges; the bill is large and black, but the base of the under jaw is whitish; the legs are brown. This bird is subject to great variety, several of them being mentioned by Mr. Latham in his Synopsis. The present seems to come nearest his Var. C. See vol. ii, page 622, of that work.
12th August. Celebrated the Prince of Wales’s birthday. The men of war fired a royal salute, and all the officers in the colony, civil and military, dined with the governor. The evening was spent in making bonfires, and testifying such other demonstrations of joy as could be shewn in this country. The weather is now very wet and cold, and has been so for the last six weeks. Several mornings we have had a hoar frost, and a few distinct pelicles of ice were formed on shallow spots of water; the thermometer frequently as low as the freezing point.
16th August. A convict who had been out gathering what they called sweet tea, about a mile from the camp, met a party of the natives, consisting of fourteen, by whom he was beaten, and also slightly wounded with the shell-stick used in throwing their spears; they then made him strip, and would have taken from him his clothes, and probably his life, had it not been for the report of two musquets; which they no sooner heard than they ran away. This party were returning from the wood with cork, which they had been cutting, either for their canoes or huts; and had with them no other instruments than those that were necessary for the business on which they were engaged, such as a stone hatchet, and the shell stick before mentioned. Had they been armed with any other weapons, the convict would probably have lost his life.
That which we call the sweet tea is a creeping kind of vine, running to a great extent along the ground; the stalk is not so thick as the smallest honey-suckle; nor is the leaf so large as the common bay leaf, though something similar to it; and the taste is sweet, exactly like the liquorice root of the shops. Of this the convicts and soldiers make an infusion which is tolerably pleasant, and serves as no bad succedaneum for tea. Indeed, were it to be met with in greater abundance it would be found very beneficial to those poor creatures whose constant diet is salt provisions. In using it for medical purposes, I have found it to be a good pectoral, and, as I before observed, not at all unpleasant. (See plate annexed.)
We have also a kind of shrub in this country, resembling the common broom, which produces a small berry like a white currant, but in taste more similar to a very sour green gooseberry. This has proved a good antiscorbutic; but I am sorry to add that the quantity to be met with is far from sufficient to remove the scurvy.
That disorder still prevails with great violence, nor can we at present find any remedy against it, notwithstanding that the country produces several sorts of plants and shrubs which, in this place, are considered as tolerable vegetables, and used in common. The most plentiful is a plant growing on the sea shore, greatly resembling sage. Among it are often to be found samphire, and a kind of wild spinage, besides a small shrub which we distinguish by the name of the vegetable tree, and the leaves of which prove rather a pleasant substitute for vegetables.
22nd August. His Excellency Governor Phillip, Lieutenant George Johnston, his Adjutant of Orders, Lieutenant Cresswell of the Marines, myself, and six soldiers, landed in Manly Cove, in order to examine the coast to Broken Bay. At a short distance from the shore, we saw sixteen canoes, with two persons in each, and in some three, employed in fishing. They seemed to take very little notice as we passed them, so very intent were they on the business in which they were engaged.
On our landing, we saw sixty more of the natives, about two hundred yards distant from us. Some of them immediately came up to us, and were very friendly. A black man who carried our tents gave two of them a stocking each, with which they seemed much pleased; and, pointing to the naked leg, expressed a great desire to have that also clothed. The morning was so cold, that these poor wretches stood shivering on the beach, and appeared to be very sensible of the comfort and advantage of being clothed.
We sent back our boats, and proceeded northward along the coast about six miles, where we were forced to halt for near two hours, until the tide had run out of a lagoon, or piece of water, so as to admit of its being forded. While we were detained here an old native came to us, and, in the most friendly manner, pointed out the shallowest part of the water we had to cross; but the tide ran with too much rapidity at that time for us to attempt it.
After we had waded through, one of our company shot a very fine duck, which we had dressed for supper, on a little eminence by the side of a cabbage tree swamp, about half a mile from the run of the tide. Here the whole party got as much cabbage, to eat with their salt provisions, as they chose.
While we had been detained by the tide, several natives were on the opposite side, who also pointed out to us the shoalest water, and appeared, by their signs and gestures, to wish us very much to come over; but, before the tide was sufficiently low, they went away. One of them wore a skin of a reddish colour round his shoulders.
Near the place where we pitched our tent, we saw several quails exactly like those in England. I fired four or five times at them, but without success, as my shot was too large.
23rd August. As soon as the dew was off the grass, we began our march, and about twelve o’clock fell in with the south branch of Broken Bay: but finding the country round this part very rugged, and the distance too great for our stock of provisions, we returned to the sea shore, in order to examine the south part of the entrance into the bay. This, like every other part of the country we have seen, had a very indifferent aspect.
From the entrance of Port Jackson to Broken Bay, in some places from fifty to a hundred, in others to two hundred yards distant from the sea, the coast indeed is very pleasant, and tolerably clear of wood; the earth a kind of adhesive clay, covered with a thick and short sour grass.
All along the shore we met the natives, who seem to have no fixed residence or abode, but, indiscriminately, whenever they meet with a hut, or, what is more common, a convenient excavation or hole in the rocks, take possession of it for the time.
In one of their huts, at Broken Bay, which was constructed of bark, and was one of the best I had ever met with, we saw two very well made nets, some fishing lines not inferior to the nets, some spears, a stone hatchet of a very superior make to what they usually have, together with two vehicles for carrying water, one of cork, the other made out of the knot of a large tree hollowed. In this hut there were two pieces of coarse linen, which they must have obtained from some of our people, and every thing about it bespoke more comfort and convenience than I had observed in any other.
A little way from it we fell in with a large party of natives, whom we supposed to be the proprietors; they were armed with spears and stone hatchets. One of the latter they very earnestly wished to exchange for one of ours. Though we would readily have obliged them, it was not in our power to comply with their wishes, as we had only a sufficient number wherewith to cut wood for our own fires. However, notwithstanding our refusal, they parted from us without appearing at all dissatisfied.
As we proceeded along the sandy beach, we gathered some beans, which grew on a small creeping substance not unlike a vine. They were well tasted, and very similar to the English long-pod bean. At the place where we halted, we had them boiled, and we all eat very heartily of them. Half an hour after, the governor and I were seized with a violent vomiting. We drank warm water, which, carrying the load freely from our stomachs, gave us immediate relief. Two other gentlemen of the party ate as freely of them as we had done, without feeling the smallest inconvenience or bad effect. About this place we got some rasberries; but they had not that pleasant tartness peculiar to those in Europe.
24th August. We returned by the same passage, along the coast, without seeing any objects worth notice, until we came to a convenient spot to encamp for the night, where there was great plenty of cabbage trees and tolerable water; a circumstance, as I have already observed, not generally to be met with in this country except on the sea coast, and even there by no means in abundance.
While soup was making of some birds we had lately killed (which proved very good), and every thing was getting ready for the night, the governor, the two other gentlemen, and myself, took our guns and ascended a hill just above us. From this eminence we saw the southern branch of Broken Bay, which ran far into the country.
During our return, we picked up, in the distance of about half a mile, twenty-five flowers of plants and shrubs of different genera and species, specimens of which I have transmitted to Mr. Wilson, particularly the Red Gum Tree (see Plate annexed). On the spot where we encamped the grass was long, dry, and sour, and in such abundance, that we set it on fire all around, for fear the natives should surprise us in the night by doing the same, a custom in which they seem always happy to indulge themselves.
25th August. We set off early in the morning to look at the branch of Broken Bay which we had seen the evening before, and were led to it by a path not very much frequented. At the head of this branch we found a fresh-water river, which took its rise a little above, out of a swamp. Such is the origin and source of every river we have yet discovered in this country, though few, when compared to those in any other part of the world. It is very extraordinary that, in all this extensive tract, a living spring has not yet been explored.
On this river we saw many ducks and teal. Mr. Cresswell shot one of the latter, and I shot one of the former. They were both well tasted, and good of their kind. At the head of this branch we found the country rough and impassable. Having followed the course of the river to its origin, we that day returned to Manly Cove, where we surprised two old men, an old woman, a grown-up girl, and thirteen children, in a hut.
When the children saw us approach, they all gathered themselves closely together around the girl; they cried, and seemed much terrified. The old men showed such dislike to our looking at them that the governor and the rest of the party withdrew to some little distance to dine. Some of the children, on seeing all the party gone but myself and another gentleman, began to laugh, and thus proved that their fears had vanished. When we joined the rest of the party, the old man followed us in a very friendly manner, and took part of every kind of provision we had, but he ate none of it in our sight.
The women and children stood at some distance, and beckoned to us when the men, of whom they seemed to stand in very great dread, had turned their backs.
As soon as we had dined, and refreshed ourselves, the governor, by himself, went down to them, and distributed some presents among them, which soon gained their friendship and confidence. By this time sixteen canoes, that were out fishing, came close to the spot where we were, and there lay on their paddles, which they managed with wonderful dexterity and address; mimicking us, and indulging in their own merriment.
After many signs and entreaties, one of the women ventured to the governor, who was by himself, and, with seemingly great timidity, took from him some small fishing lines and hooks, articles which they hold in great estimation. This made her less fearful; and in a little time she became perfectly free and unrestrained. Her conduct influenced many others who came on shore for what they could procure. Many of them were painted about the head, breast, and shoulders, with some white substance. None of those who were thus ornamented came on shore, till by signs we made them understand that we intended to offer them some presents; and even then only one of them ventured.
To this person Lieutenant Cresswell gave a white pocket handkerchief, with which she seemed much pleased. Every gentleman now singled out a female and presented her with some trinkets, not forgetting, at the same time, to bestow gifts upon some of her family, whom she took considerable pains to make known, lest they should fall into the hands of such as did not belong to her.
It was remarked that all the women and children, (an old woman excepted) had the little finger of the left hand taken off at the second joint, the stump of which was as well covered as if the operation had been performed by a surgeon.
While we were thus employed among the women, a body of men came out of the woods with a new canoe, made of cork. It was one of the best we had observed in this country, though it fell very short of those which I have seen among the American or Musquito-shore Indians, who, in improvements of every kind, the Indians of this country are many centuries behind. The men had also with them some new paddles, spears, and fishgigs, which they had just been making. They readily showed us the use of every thing they had with them. Indeed they always behave with an apparent civility when they fall in with men that are armed; but when they meet persons unarmed they seldom fail to take every advantage of them.
Those females who were arrived at the age of puberty did not wear a covering; but all the female children and likewise the girls wore a slight kind of covering before them, made of the fur of the kangaroo, twisted into threads.
While we went towards the party of men that came out of the woods with the new canoe, all the women landed, and began to broil their fish, of which they had a large quantity. There seemed to be no harmony or hospitality among them. However, the female to whom I paid the most attention gave me, but not until I asked her for it, some of the fish which she was eating. She had thrown it on the fire, but it was scarcely warm.
Many of the women were strait, well formed, and lively. My companion continued to exhibit a number of coquettish airs while I was decorating her head, neck, and arms with my pocket and neck handkerchiefs, which I tore into ribbons, as if desirous of multiplying two presents into several. Having nothing left, except the buttons of my coat, on her admiring them, I cut them away, and with a piece of string tied them round her waist. Thus ornamented, and thus delighted with her new acquirements, she turned from me with a look of inexpressible archness.
Before the arrival of the boats, which was late, the natives pointed to a hawk, and made signs to us to shoot it. It had alighted upon an adjoining tree, and the governor desired that I would bring it down. The report of the gun frightened them very much. Some ran away; but on perceiving that no harm was intended against them, they returned, and were highly pleased to see the hawk presented by the governor to a young girl, who appeared to be the daughter of the most distinguished amongst them.
While the boats were preparing for our reception, an old woman, perfectly grey with age, solicited us very much for some present; and, in order to make us comply, threw herself, before all her companions, into the most indecent attitudes.
The cocks wain of the boat informed us that while he was waiting for our return, the day before, two parties of the natives met, and commenced hostilities against each other. The man thus described the manner in which this encounter was carried on. A champion from each party, armed with a spear and a shield, pressed forwards before the rest, and, as soon as a favourable opportunity offered (till which he advanced and retreated by turns), threw his spear, and then retired; when another immediately took his place, going through the same manoeuvres; and in this manner was the conflict carried on for more than two hours.
The boats crew and two midshipmen, who saw the whole of the proceeding, perceived that one of the natives walked off with a spear in his side. During the engagement, the women belonging to them, who stood at some distance, discovered strong marks of concern, and screamed loudly when any of the combatants appeared to be wounded.
As the boat was returning close along shore, a spear was thrown at the people by some of the natives, who were lurking behind the trees and rocks. It was hurled with such force, that it flew a considerable way over the boat, although we were between thirty and forty yards from the shore.
It was late in the evening before we arrived in Sydney Cove; and as soon as the governor landed he was informed that a gold mine had been discovered, near the entrance of the harbour, by a convict.
During his excellency’s absence, the convict had made this discovery known to the lieutenant governor and the judge advocate; for which he said that he hoped and expected to have his freedom, and a pecuniary reward. The gentlemen to whom he applied answered that they could not promise to grant his request until he should have put them in possession of the mine; but that they were well assured that the governor would bestow on him a proper recompence, after sufficient proof of the discovery. A boat was, in consequence, ordered from the Sirius, to carry him and Captain Campbell down to the place where he declared that the mine was situated. At their landing, he begged leave to withdraw a little, on some necessary occasion; when, instead of returning to Captain Campbell, he went back to the camp, and, waiting on the lieutenant governor and judge advocate, asserted that he had put Captain Campbell in possession of the mine, who had dispatched him over land for another officer and a proper guard.
His account not being doubted, he was well fed and treated; and Lieutenant Paulden, with a guard and all necessary articles, was ordered to attend him to the place. But, before they could set out, to the great astonishment of all Captain Campbell arrived, and unravelled the whole of this extraordinary deception. This produced an unexpected revolution. Instead of receiving a reward for his golden discoveries, the impostor was immediately taken into custody, with two others, supposed to be concerned in carrying on the artifice. The next day he was examined, with great privacy and strictness; but, no satisfactory elucidation being obtained from him, he was ordered to be severely whipped.
Subsequently to this punishment, of which he was prepared to expect a weekly repetition, between the intervals of hard labour, and to be loaded incessantly with heavy irons, during the time of his remaining in the colony, he most audaciously persisted in endeavouring to maintain the delusion, and declared that if an officer was sent with him he would show him the mine; adding that he was heartily sorry for what had happened.
Accordingly, he was suffered to accompany Lieutenant G. Johnston, the Governor’s Adjutant of Orders, to the place in question. Before the boat had reached its destination Mr. Johnston argued with him, yet not without protesting that if he either attempted to deceive him as he had imposed upon Captain Campbell or presumed to move five yards from him and his party, he would instantly order him to be shot. Finding that this officer was not to be trifled with, but seemed determined, he acknowledged that it was unnecessary to proceed any farther; that he was ignorant of the existence of any such mine, and that the specimens shown by him were only a composition of brass and gold, which he had filed down and melted.
Mr. Johnston brought him back, when he was again examined, and ordered to be punished. It is needless to add that no further discovery was made. He is now at liberty. He is, however, obliged to wear a large R on his back. The man, whose name is Daily, appears insane; yet others cannot be persuaded that he is a lunatic, but are rather of opinion that he is a designing miscreant, and that time will disclose a deep-laid scheme, which he had planned for some purpose hitherto undiscovered.
For my own part, I freely confess, that I cannot coincide with their sentiments. He was so artful as to circulate a report that he had sold several pounds weight of the ore to the master of the Golden Grove, and some of his seamen. This rumour was received with such credulity that, in consequence of the impression which it made, none of the sailors were suffered to leave the ship after a certain hour in the evening.
In a word, so many ridiculous circumstances attended this affair, that to attempt a complete enumeration of them would prove not less difficult than uninteresting.
26th August. The Supply arrived from Norfolk Island, after a long and rough passage. She had landed, but neither in apparent safety nor with facility, the stores which she carried to that place: and, upon the present occasion, I am sorry to add, that the hazard of landing and embarking from this little island is so very great that Mr. Cunningham, a midshipman of the Sirius (who resided on it with Lieutenant King, the superintendant), was lost, with three seamen, in a boat that was swamped by the surf, which on every part of the coast runs high, and beats against the shore with great violence; so that I much fear, from the difficulty of access, and its situation, it never will prove of any great consequence, although it promised some advantages, particularly in furnishing us with pine trees, which grow here to a size nearly equal to those of Norway.
In the whole island there is not a harbour capable of admitting even so small a vessel as the Supply, and the anchorage on every part of the coast is equally bad.
The island produces a kind of gladiolus luteus, or iris palustris, of which, as may be seen by the specimens sent Mr. Wilson, exceeding good hemp is to be made, and which is to be procured in any quantity, the plants growing in great abundance throughout the whole island. The foregoing articles, were the island larger and more easy of access, with even a tolerable harbour, might, in any other country, be of the first consequence to a maritime nation. But, from every information which I have gained from the officers and crew of the Supply, the procuring of this beneficial acquisition is at present somewhat doubtful.
The people settled upon it, when they can venture out, get great plenty of fish and, at certain seasons, turtle. In the island also are pigeons, as tame as domestic fowls; and the soil seems well adapted for the growth of all kinds of grain and vegetables. It produces a wild banana, or plantain tree, which, by cultivation, may assist the settlers as a succedaneum for bread: and I am not without hopes that we shall be able to make some additions from thence to such necessaries of life as may in time be produced here.
A few days since the natives landed near the hospital, where some goats belonging to the Supply were browsing, when they killed, with their spear, a kid, and carried it away. Within this fortnight, they have also killed a he-goat of the governor’s . Whenever an opportunity offered, they have seldom failed to destroy whatever stock they could seize upon unobserved. They have been equally ready to attack the convicts on every occasion which presented itself; and some of them have become victims to these savages.
I have already observed that they stand much in fear of a musquet, and therefore they very seldom approach any person by whom it is carried; and their apprehensions are almost equally great when they perceive a red garment.
5th September. About half after six in the evening, we saw an aurora australis, a phaenomenon uncommon in the southern hemisphere.
2nd October. His Majesty’s ship the Sirius sailed for the Cape of Good Hope, for a supply of flour, it being discovered that our stock of this article bore no proportion to the salt beef and pork.
The same day the Golden Grove sailed for Norfolk Island, with a reinforcement of male and female convicts; two free men, as gardeners; a midshipman from the Sirius to fill up the vacancy occasioned by the death of Mr. Cunningham; a sergeant, corporal, and six privates; and a supply of necessaries for eighteen months.
4th October. A convict, named Cooper Handley, who went out with an armed party of marines to collect wild vegetables and sweet tea, strayed from them, and was afterwards met by the natives, who murdered and mutilated him in a shocking manner. The natives were so near our men that they heard them very distinctly shouting and making a great noise, yet were unable to overtake them in the pursuit. In the evening, a party of soldiers and convicts were sent out to bury the deceased.
10th October. A general court martial was convened by warrant from the governor. When the members, with the deputy judge advocate, were assembled, they gave it as their opinion that, notwithstanding the governor has full power and authority to grant and hold court martials among regular troops, yet, as a corps of marines, under the influence of a particular code of laws, and instructions from the Admiralty, and only amenable to that board, they could not proceed to trial, the board of Admiralty not having delegated any part of their authority over the marine corps, particularly that of holding court martials, to the governor; neither did any part of the act of Parliament for forming a colony in New South Wales contain directions relative to that subject.
The marine instructions, with respect to court martials, state that no general court martial can be ordered but by the Lord High Admiral, or three commissioners for executing the office; nor any sentence be carried into execution until approved of by him or them, unless the marines, as in America, should be, by act of Parliament, considered as a part of the army, which is not the case here.
They are truly and literally governed and regulated by the same rules and instructions as the marine divisions at Chatham, Portsmouth, or Plymouth; and, consequently, their proceeding to trial would not only be illegal, but a direct insult to the governance and power of the Board under which they act, and to whom every appeal from them must come, unless an act of Parliament, in that case made and provided, otherwise directs.
28th October. A marine went to gather some greens and herbs, but has not returned; as he was unarmed, it is feared that he has been met and murdered by the natives.
31st October. A sergeant and four privates, who had been missing three days, returned. They were sent by the commanding officer to look for the marine, and lost themselves in the woods. In the evening of this day we had very loud thunder, and a shower of hail; many of the hail-stones were measured, and found to be five-eights of an inch in diameter.
2nd November. This day more hail; the weather dark and gloomy, with dreadful lightning. The mercury during the whole of the day stood between 66 and 68.
7th November. A criminal court sentenced a convict to five hundred lashes for stealing soap, the property of another convict, value eight pence.
10th November. The Golden Grove returned from Norfolk Island with a few spars, and some timber for the governor. While she lay there, she was obliged to cut her cable and stand to sea, there being (as before observed) no harbour in the whole island where a ship can ride in safety. The master of the ship was swamped in the surf and nearly lost, with his boat and crew.
11th November. Thomas Bulmore, a private marine, died in consequence of the blows which he received during a battle with one of his companions, who is to be tried for his life, on the 17th instant, by a criminal court. So small is our number, and so necessary is every individual who composes it, for one purpose or another, that the loss of even a single man may truly be considered as an irreparable disadvantage!
The preceding is all the account I am able at present to send you of the territories of New South Wales, and its productions. The unsettled state in which you must naturally suppose every thing, as yet, to remain, will not permit me to be as copious as I could wish; but, by the next dispatch, I hope to be able to send you no inconsiderable additions to the Natural History, and at the same time such further information concerning our affairs here as during the interim shall have occurred.
The finest new genus hitherto found in New Holland has been destined by Linnaeus, with great propriety, to transmit to posterity the name of Sir Joseph Banks, who first discovered it in his celebrated voyage round the world. It is indeed one of the most magnificent genera with which we are acquainted, being nearly allied to Protea and Embothrium in habit and botanical characters, but sufficiently distinguished from both by its fruit.
Four species of Banksia are described in the Supplementum Plantarum of Linnaeus, specimens of which we have seen in his Herbarium now in the possession of Dr. Smith of Marlborough Street; and we have deposited with the same gentleman specimens of all the plants we are about to describe in this work. Dr. Gaertner, in his admirable book on fruits and seeds, has figured the fruit of several Banksias, some of them described by Linnaeus. Having had his plates, with the names, engraved before he saw the Supplementum of Linnaeus, his nomenclature differs from that of the last-mentioned author; but he quotes his synonyms in the letter-press. We mention this that he may not be accused of wantonly changing Linnaean names, and that for the worse, as it would appear to any one uninformed of this circumstance.
The character of the genus is very badly made out in Linnaeus. Gaertner has greatly corrected it, but it is still a doubt whether the flowers are constantly monopetalous or tetrapetalous, nor have we materials sufficient to remove this difficulty. All we can say is, that Banksia is next in natural arrangement to Protea, from which it is essentially distinguished by having an hard woody bivalve capsule, containing two winged seeds, with a moveable membranous partition between them. It is strangely misplaced in Murray’s 14th edition of Systema Vegetabilium, being put between Ludwigia and Oldenlandia!
Mr. White has sent imperfect specimens and seeds of four species of Banksia, which we have endeavoured to settle as follows:
1. B. serrata. Linn. Supp. 126. B. conchifera. Gaertn. 221. t.48.
This is the most stately of the genus. Its trunk is thick and rugged. Leaves alternate, standing thick about the ends of the branches on short footstalks, narrow, obtuse, strongly serrated, smooth and of a bright green colour above, beneath opaque and whitish, with a strong rib running through their middle. A very large cylindrical spike of flowers terminates each branch. Most of the flowers are abortive, a few only in each spike producing ripe seed. The form of the capsules may be understood from the figure, which represents a whole spike in fruit, about half the natural size. The capsules are covered with thick down. Another plate of the plant in flower shews the curved position in which the style is held by the corolla; the increase of the former in length being greater and more rapid than that of the latter.
2. B. pyriformis. Gaertn. 220. t. 47. f. I.
This species was unknown to Linnaeus; and as Gaertner has given no specific character of it, we beg leave to offer the following:
B. floribus solitariis, capsulis ovatis pubescentibus, foliis lanceolatis integerrimis glabris.
Banksia with solitary flowers, ovate downy capsules, and lance-shaped entire smooth leaves.
The capsules are larger than in any other known species. In the figure they are represented somewhat smaller than the life, but the seed is given as large as life.
3. B. gibbosa. B. dactyloides. Gaertn. 221.t. 47. f. 2.? B. floribus solitariis, capsulis ovatis gibbosis rugosis, foliis teretibus.
Banksia with solitary flowers; ovate, tumid, rugged capsules; and cylindrical leaves.
We suspect this to be the Banksia dactyloides of Gaertner; but, if so, his figure is by no means a good one; as he is generally very accurate, we are rather inclined to believe ours a different plant, and have therefore given it a new name. The leaves are very peculiar, being perfectly cylindrical, about two inches long and one line in diameter, pale, green and smooth. The flowers we have not seen.
Fig. 1 of the same Plate represents the capsule of another Banksia, belonging to those which bear the flowers in spikes, but we cannot with certainty determine the species. The capsules are smooth, at least when ripe, and a little shining. We think this is neither the B. serrata, integrifolia, nor dentata of Linnaeus, nor probably his ericifolia; so that it seems to be a species hitherto undescribed. The leaves and flowers we have not seen.
An Eucalyptus obliqua, L’Heritier Sert. Angl. p. 18?
(See Plate annexed.)
This tree grows to the height of more than a hundred feet, and is above thirty feet in circumference. The bark is very smooth, like that of the poplar. The younger branches are long and slender, angulated near the top, but as they grow older the angles disappear. Their bark is smooth, and of a reddish-brown. The leaves are alternate, lanceolate, pointed, very entire, smooth on both sides, and remarkably unequal, or oblique, at their base; the veins alternate and not very conspicuous. The whole surface of both sides of the leaves is marked with numerous minute resinous spots, in which the essential oil resides. The foot-stalks are about half an inch in length, round on the under side, angular above, quite smooth. The flowers we have not seen.
What Mr. White has sent as the ripe capsules of this tree (although not attached to the specimens of the leaves) grow in clusters, from six to eight in each sessile and conglomerated. These clusters are supported on angular alternate footstalks, which form a kind of panicle. Each capsule is about the size of a hawthorn berry, globular, but as it were cut off at the top, rugged on the outside, hard and woody, and of a dark brown colour. At the top is a large orifice, which shews the internal part of the capsule divided into four cells, and having a square column in the center, from which the partitions of the cell arise. These partitions extend to the rim of the capsule, and terminate in four small projections, which look like the teeth of a calyx. The seeds are numerous, small, and angular.
The name of Peppermint Tree has been given to this plant by Mr. White on account of the very great resemblance between the essential oil drawn from its leaves and that obtained from the Peppermint (Mentha piperita) which grows in England. This oil was found by Mr. White to be more efficacious in removing all cholicky complaints than that of the English Peppermint, which he attributes to its being less pungent and more aromatic. A quart of the oil has been sent by him to Mr. Wilson.
The tree above described appears to be undoubtedly of the same genus as that cultivated in some greenhouses in England, which Mr. L’Heritier has described in his Sertum Anglicum by the name of Eucalyptus obliqua, though it is commonly called in the gardens Metrosideros obliqua; but we dare not assert it to be the same species, nor can this point be determined till the flowers and every part of both be seen and compared; we have compared the best specimens we could procure of each, and find no specific difference.
The Eucalyptus obliqua has, when dried, an aromatic flavour somewhat similar to our plant. We have remarked indeed innumerable minute white spots, besides the resinous ones, on both surfaces of the leaves in some specimens of the garden plant, which are not to be seen in ours, and the branches of the former are rough, with small scaly tubercles. But how far these are constant we cannot tell. The obliquity in the leaves, one side being shorter at the base than the other, as well as somewhat narrower all the way up, as in the Begonia nitida of the Hortus Kewensis, is remarkable in both plants.
The figure represents a branch of the Peppermint Tree in leaf: on one side of it part of a leaf separate, bearing the gall of some insect; on the other the fruit above described.
This is a small shrub, very much branched. The bark full of longitudinal fissures, and easily separated from the branches. Leaves on short footstalks, alternate, lanceolate, pointed, entire, about three-quarters of an inch in length, smooth on both sides, marked with three longitudinal ribs, and reticulated with transverse veins; they are also full of resinous spots, the seat of an aromatic essential oil. The flowers we have not seen, nor can we determine with certainty the genus of this plant. It most nearly approaches the Leptospermum virgatum of Forster, referred by the younger Linnaeus, perhaps improperly, to Melaleuca.
At least it may safely be determined to belong to the same genus with the Melaleuca virgata Linn. Supp. though a distinct species. The specific difference between them is, that the leaves of our plant have three ribs, whereas M. virgata has leaves perfectly destitute of ribs or veins. Hence we judge the figure and description of Rumphius, Herb. Amboin. V. 2. t. 18., to belong rather to our Tea Tree than to M. virgata; and if this conjecture be right, the plants are still further distinguished by the inflorescence, which in M. virgata is an umbel, whereas in the figure above mentioned the flowers are solitary.
a. Represents a leaf slightly magnified.
This is a tree or shrub whose leaves only we have seen, but from them we judge it to belong to the genus Smilax. For want of the stem we cannot settle its specific character. These leaves are about two inches long, ovatolanceolate, pointed, entire, marked with three longitudinal ribs, and many transverse elevated veins, smooth and shining above, glaucous beneath, with a thick cartilaginous edge of the substance of the ribs. The leaves have the taste of liquorice root accompanied with bitter. They are said to make a kind of tea, not unpleasant to the taste, and good for the scurvy. The plant promises much in the last respect, from its bitter as a tonic, as well as the quantity of saccharine matter it contains.
Leaves of this plant are represented on the same plate with the Tea Tree. A. is the front, B. the back of a leaf.
Floribus pedunculatis, calyptra conica acuta
(See Plate annexed.)
This is a very large and lofty tree, much exceeding the English oak in size. The wood is extremely brittle, and, from the large quantity of resinous gum which it contains, is of little use but for firewood. Of the leaves Mr. White has given no account, nor sent any specimens. The flowers grow in little clusters, or rather umbels, about ten in each, and every flower has a proper partial footstalk, about a quarter of an inch in length, besides the general one. The general footstalk is remarkably compressed (anceps), and the partial ones are so in some degree. We have perceived nothing like bracteae, or floral leaves.
The flowers appear to be yellowish, and are of a very singular structure. The calyx is hemispherical, perfectly entire in the margin, and afterwards becomes the capsule. On the top of the calyx, rather within the margin, stands a conical pointed calyptra, which of the same colour with the calyx, and about as long as that and the footstalk taken together. This calyptra, which is the essential mark of the genus, and differs from that of the Eucalyptus obliqua of L’Heritier only in being conical and acute, instead of hemispherical, is perfectly entire, and never splits or divides, though it is analogous to the corolla of other plants. When it is removed, we perceive a great number of red stamina, standing in a conical mass, which before the calyptra was taken off, were completely covered by it, and filled its inside.
The Antherae are small and red. In the center of these stamina is a single style or pointal, rising a little above them, and terminated by a blunt stigma. The stamina are very resinous and aromatic. They are inserted into the margin of the calyx, so that the genus is properly placed by Mr. L’Heritier in the class Icosandria. These stamina and style being removed, and the germen cut across about the middle of the calyx, it appears to be divided into three cells, and no more, as far as we have examined, each containing the rudiments of one or more seeds, for the number cannot with certainty be determined.
Whether the calyptra in this species falls off, as in that described by Mr. L’Heritier, or be permanent, we cannot tell. From one specimen sent by Mr. White, the latter should seem to be the case; and that the calyx swells and rises around it nearly to the top, making a pear-shaped fruit, with the point of the calyptra sticking out at its apex; but as this appears only in a single flower, and none of the others are at all advanced towards ripening seed, the flower in question may possibly be in a morbid state, owing to the attacks of some insect. (See fig. g.) Future observations will determine this point. We have been the more diffuse in our description on account of the singularity of the genus, and the value of the plant.
On making incisions in the trunk of this tree, large quantities of red resinous juice are obtained, sometimes even more than sixty gallons from a single tree. When this juice is dried, it becomes a very powerfully astringent gum-resin, of a red colour, much resembling that known in the shops by the name of Kino, and, for all medical purposes, fully as efficacious. Mr. White administered it to a great number of patients in the dysentery, which prevailed much soon after the landing of the convicts, and in no one instance found it to fail. This gum-resin dissolves almost entirely in spirit of wine, to which it gives a blood-red tincture. Water dissolves about one-sixth part only, and the watery solution is of a bright red. Both these solutions are powerfully astringent.
The plate represents a portion of the bark of the Eucalyptus resinifera, with the fructification annexed.
a. Is a bunch of the flowers the size of nature.
b. The flower, its calyptra, or hood, being removed.
f. Calyptra separate.
g. The enlarged flower, which we suspect to be in a diseased state.
This is about the size of an English walnut tree. Its trunk grows pretty straight for about fourteen or sixteen feet, after which it branches out into long spiral leaves, which hang down on all sides, and resemble those of the larger kinds of grass or sedge. From the center of the head of leaves arises a single footstalk, eighteen or twenty feet in height, perfectly straight and erect, very much resembling the sugar cane, and terminating in a spike of a spiral form, not unlike an ear of wheat. This large stem or footstalk is used by the natives for making spears and fish gigs, being pointed with the teeth of fish or other animals, some of which are represented, in the plate of implements, from originals now in Mr. Wilson’s possession.
But the most valuable produce of this plant seems to be its resin, the properties of which vie with those of the most fragrant balsams. This resin exudes spontaneously from the trunk, the more readily if incisions are made in its bark. It is of a yellow colour, fluid at first, but being inspissated in the sun it acquires a solid form. Burnt on hot coals, it emits a smell very much resembling that of a mixture of balsam of tolu and benzoin, somewhat approaching to storax. It is perfectly soluble in spirit of wine, but not in water, nor even in essential oil of turpentine, unless it be digested in a strong heat. The varnish which it makes with either is very weak, and of little use. With respect to its medicinal qualities, Mr. White has found it, in many cases, a good pectoral medicine, and very balsamic. It is not obtainable in so great abundance as the red gum produced by the Eucalyptus resinifera.
The plant which produces the yellow gum seems to be perfectly unknown to botanists, but Mr. White has communicated no specimens by which its genus or even class could be determined.
I cannot regard this bird in any other view than as a variety of the Psittacus cristatus of Linnaeus, or large white cockatoo, which has been described by almost all ornithologists, and figured in several works of Natural History. The bird seems liable to great variation both as to size and colour; the white in some being of a much purer appearance than in others, and the yellow on the crest and tail more predominant. All the varieties yet known agree in having the beak and legs blackish. The individual specimen here figured seems of a somewhat slenderer form than usual. The colour not a pure white, but slightly tinged on the upper parts, and particularly on the neck and shoulders, with dusky. The feathers on the front white, but the long lanceolate feathers below them, which form the crest, of a pale jonquil-yellow. The tail white above, and pale yellow beneath, as are also the wings.
Fulica alba, rostro fronteque rubris, humeris spinosis, pedibus flavis? Corpus magnitudine sere gallinae domesticae. Humeri spina parva incurvata. In specimine exsiccato pedes flavi; sed fortasse in viva ave rostro concolores.
White Fulica, with the bill and front red, shoulders spined, legs and feet yellow. The body is about the size of a domestic fowl. The shoulders are furnished with a small crooked spine. In the dried specimen the legs and feet are yellow, but, perhaps, in the living bird might have been of the same colour with the beak.
This bird is the only species of its genus yet known of a white colour. The birds of this genus rank in the order called by Linnaeus Grallae, and most of the species frequent watery places. To this genus belongs the wellknown bird called the Moor-hen, or Fulica chloropus; as also a very beautiful exotic species called the Purple Water-hen, which is the Fulica porphyrio of Linnaeus, and which in shape much resembles the White Fulica now described.
M. cinera, subtus flava. N.B. Gula fere albida.
Ash-coloured Motacilla, yellow beneath. N.B. The throat inclines a little to whitish.
It is not perhaps absolutely clear whether this bird should be referred to the genus Motacilla, or Muscicapa: the probability, however, is in favour of Motacilla.
The bird is about the size of the Motacilla flava of Linnaeus, or yellow wagtail, but seems of a stouter make. The beak is of a pale colour, and the legs brown. The two middle tail-feathers have the very extremities slightly marked with white.
The genus Motacilla is extremely numerous, and it is not easy to fix upon a proper or expressive trivial name. Such names should, if possible, convey some idea either of the colour or some other circumstance relative to the manners or habits of the animal; but in new species, whose history is unknown, this is impracticable. The trivial name, therefore, of Australis may be allowable, though it cannot be regarded as sufficiently distinctive.
The female Bee-eater is stouter in the body and in the legs, more brilliant in the plumage, the bill more curved: and the tail cuneated and tipped with white, but shorter than in the male. The feathers on the head are small, each tipped with white, and somewhat erected: it has no wattles, but on the chin the feathers are dark, long, and hang diffusely.
The general colour of the bird is a blackish chocolate, lighter on the breast, and towards the vent; darker on the abdomen and towards the tip of the tail. The feathers on the neck and breast have each a streak of white through the middle. On the wing the outer long feathers are slightly edged with whitish, those of the middle region round-ended and tipped only; and on the upper part of the wing each feather bears a streak down the middle, suddenly dilating at the tip.
The legs yellower than those of the male; claws blackish.
C. cinereo-fuscus, subtus pallidus, remigibus caudaque fasciis pallidis numerosis, vibrissis utrinque erecto-cristatis. Corpus supra punctis minutissimis subalbidis irroratum.
Cinereous-brown Goat-sucker, pale beneath; with the long feathers of the wings and tail sprinkled with numerous pale fasciae, and the vibrissae (or bristles on the upper mandible) standing up on each side, in the manner of a crest. The body on the upper part is sprinkled with very small whitish specks.
The birds of this genus are remarkable for the excessive wideness of the mouth, though the beak is very small; in their manner of life, as well as general structure, they are very nearly allied to the genus Hirundo, or swallow, and indeed may be regarded as a kind of nocturnal swallow. They feed on insects, particularly on beetles. The name Caprimulgus, or Goatsucker, was given to this genus from an idea that prevailed amongst the more ancient naturalists of their sometimes sucking the teats of goats and sheep; a circumstance in itself so wildly improbable that it would scarce deserve to be seriously mentioned were it not that so accurate a naturalist as the late celebrated Scopoli seems in some degree to have given credit to it.
This lizard comes nearer to the Scincus than any I am acquainted with, but is still a distinct species.
In the two specimens sent over by Mr. White, one had a process on the upper part of the tail, near the top, almost like a supernumerary or forked tail, but which I rather conceive to be natural; and as this one was a male I am inclined to think that this is peculiar to that sex, which would in some degree have been more clearly made out if the other, which had not this process, had proved a female; but as its being gutted and stuffed before I saw it prevented my examination, this remains still to be proved: but what makes the conjecture very probable is that it is mentioned by Mr. White that some are without and some with this process. Now if it was a monster, arising either from accident, or originally so formed, it would hardly be so common as to be taken notice of. The tail is longer than that of the Scincuses, and not so taper; the animal is of a dark iron-grey colour, which is of different shades in different parts, forming a kind of stripes across the back and tail. The scales of the cuticle are strong, but not so much so as those of the Scincus. Its legs are short and strong, covered with the same kind of scales as the body, but the scales of the feet are not. On the cuticle are small knobs, as if it were studded.
The toes on each foot are pretty regular; the difference in length not great, and the same on both the fore and hind foot; which is not the case with the Scincus, it having a long middle toe.
There are small short nails on each toe; on their upper surface they are covered with a series of scales, which go half round, like a coat of mail.
Just within the verge of the external opening of the ear on the anterior edge is a membrane, covering about one-third of it, which is scolloped on its loose or unattached edge; this can hardly be called an external ear, nor can it be called the reserve, viz. a valve; but if it is an assistant to hearing, which it most probably is, it should be considered as the external ear.
The teeth are in a row on each side of each jaw, becoming gradually larger backwards. They are short above the gum, and rounded off, fitted for breaking or bruising of substances more than cutting or tearing.
L. cauda tereti longa, corpore griseo, squamis carinatis mucronatis. Corpus supra fasciis tranversis fuscis; subtus pallidum. Valde affinis Agamae et Calotae.
L. with long rounded tail, body greyish, scales carinated and sharp pointed. The animal on its upper part is fasciated with transverse dusky bars, and is pale beneath. This species is very nearly allied to the L. Agama and Calotes.
This species measures somewhat more than a foot in length. The general colour is a brownish-grey, and the whole upper part of the animal is marked with transverse dusky bars, which are most conspicuous on the legs and tail. The tail is very long; the scales on every part of the animal are of a sharp form, and furnished with a prominent line on the upper surface; toward the back part of the head the scales almost run into a sort of weak spines; the feet are furnished with moderately strong, sharp claws.
L. laevis, cauda tereti longa, corpore supra taeniolis albis nigrisque, subtus albo. Affinis L. lemniscatae. Crura supra albo nigroque striata: digiti unguiculati: aures conspicuae: squamae totius corporis laevissimae, nitidissimae, cauda vix distincte striata, subferruginea.
This is a very elegant species. The length of the animal is about six inches and a half; and is distinguished by a number of parallel stripes, or bands of black and white, disposed longitudinally throughout the whole upper part of the body, except that on the tail the bands are not carried much above the base, the remainder being of a pale ferruginous colour. In some specimens a tinge of this colour is also visible on the back; the lower part of the body is of a yellowish-white; the tail is perfectly round, of a great length, and gradually tapers to the extremity.
L. cauda depresso-plana lanceolata, margine subaculeato, corpore griseo-fusco scabro. Ungues quasi duplicati. Lingua brevis, lata, integra, seu non forficata; apice autem leniter emarginato.
L. with a depressed lanceolate tail, almost spiny on the margin; the body of a dusky grey colour, and rough. The claws appear as if double; the tongue is short and broad, not forked, but slightly emarginated at the tip.
This Lizard is strikingly distinguished by the uncommon form of its tail, which is of a depressed or flattened shape, with very thin edges, and gradually tapers to a sharp extremity. This depressed form of the tail is extremely rare in Lizards, there being scarcely more than two other species yet known in which a similar structure takes place. One of these is the L. caudiverbera of Linnaeus, in which the tail appears to be not only depressed, but pinnated on the sides. Another species with a depressed tail has been figured by the Count De Cepede, in his History of Oviparous Quadrupeds.
The present species is about four inches and a half in length. The head is large in proportion; and the whole upper surface of the animal is beset with small tubercles, which in some parts, especially towards the back of the head and about the tail, are lengthened into a sharpened point. The lower surface is of a pale colour, or nearly white.
R. caerulea, subtus griseo-punctata, pedibus tetradactylis, posterioribus palmatis. Magnitudo Ranae temporariae.
Blue Frog, speckled beneath with greyish; the feet divided into four toes; the hind-feet webbed. Size of the common frog.
[Concerning Plate A] Plate A . annexed represents a production of which Mr. White has sent no description, nor can we give any satisfactory account of it. This is said to come from the root of the Yellow Gum Tree, and is a congeries of scales, cemented, as it were, together by the gum. Whether they are the bases of the leaves of that tree, or part of a parasitical plant growing upon it, future observations must determine. The latter supposition seems to be countenanced by the appearance of fibrous roots at the base of this singular production.
Falco-albus, rostro nigro, cera pedibusque flavis.
White hawk, with black beak, cere and legs yellow.
This species, in shape and general appearance, seems very nearly allied to the bird called in England the Hen-Harrier, which is the Falco cyaneus of Linnaeus. It is very nearly of the same size, and the legs and thighs are of a slender form, as in that species.
The whole plumage is white, without any variegation.
Corvus niger, remigum rectricumque basi apiceque caudae albis.
Black Crow, with the bases of the wing and tail feathers, and the tip of the tail, white.
This bird is about the size of a Magpye, and in shape is not much unlike one, except that the tail is not cuneated, but has all the feathers of equal length. The bird is entirely black, except the vent, the base of the tail feathers, the base of the wing feathers, and the extremity of the tail, which are white. The small part of the white base of the wing feathers gives the appearance of a white spot when the wings are closed. The beak is very strong; the upper mandible slightly emarginated near the tip, and the lower mandible is of a pale colour towards the tip. The capistrum reversum, or set of bristles, which are situated forward on the base of the upper mandible in most of the birds of this genus, is not very conspicuous in this species; but the whole habit and general appearance of the bird sufficiently justify its being regarded as a species of Corvus.
Procellaria fuliginosa, rostro albido.
Fuliginous Peteril, with whitish beak.
This is probably nothing more than a variety of the Procellaria Æquinoctialis of Linnaeus. Its size is nearly that of a raven. The whole bird is of a deep sooty brown, or blackish, except that on the chin is a small patch of white running down a little on each side from the lower mandible. The beak is of a yellowish-white.
Lacerta cauda longa carinata, corpore maculis transversis variis.
Lizard with long carinated tail, the body transversely variegated.
This Lizard approaches so extremely near to the Lacerta monitor of Linnaeus, or Monitory Lizard, as to make it doubtful whether it be not in reality a variety of that species. The body is about 15 inches in length, and the tail is considerably longer. The animal is of a black colour, variegated with yellow marks and streaks of different shapes, and running in a transverse direction. On the legs are rows of transverse round spots, and on the tail broad alternate bars of black and yellow. In some specimens the yellow was much paler than in others, and nearly whitish.
Chaetodon albescens, corpore, fasciis septem nigris, spinis pinnae dorsalis sex, tertia longissima.
Whitish Chaetodon, with seven black stripes on the body. Six spines on the dorsal fin, the third very long.
This appears to be a new and very elegant species of the genus Chaetodon. The total length of the specimen was not more than four inches. The colour a silvery white, darker, and of a bluish tinge on the back; the transverse fasciae, or bands, of a deep black; the fins and tail of a pale brown. The third ray or spine of the first dorsal fin is much longer than the rest.
This variety chiefly differs from that represented in a preceding plate, p. 244, in having the head less distinctly acculeated and the scales on the body not so strongly carinated.
Figure I. in the above-mentioned Plate is a small Snake, about a foot in length, of a white colour, tinged with ferruginous; the body marked by distant black bands, and each scale on the back marked with a small black speck.
Motacilla nigra, remigibus fuscis, abdomine albo, fronte genisque caeruleis.
Black Warbler, with the long feathers of the wings brown; the belly white; the forehead and cheeks blue.
This beautiful species is generally found in the state described in the specific character; but it appears to be subject to great variety, two of which are exhibited; the lower and largest specimen having not only more blue on the head than usual, but also a patch of brilliant blue on each side of the back and a mark of reddish-brown or orange near the shoulders.
The upper specimen is considerably less than that beneath, and has still more blue upon the head; the beak and legs smaller in proportion, darker in colour, and the latter almost black. The head is crowned with a small crest of bright azure; the cheeks and upper part of the back and wings are of the same colour; the lower parts of each brown. The outer feathers of the wing whitish, near the shoulder marked with brown. The head, neck, and breast deep black; abdomen white, faintly tinged with dusky. Tail black, highly cuneated. In this bird the blue is most lucid, composed of short, stiff feathers, resembling fish-scales, with shining surfaces; but it has not the beautiful scapulary of prismatic violet-colour found in the other. Legs, feet, and claws black, and extremely slender.
M. fusca, subtus pallida, cauda prope apicem fascia fusca.
Brown Warbler, pale beneath, with a band of brown towards the tip of the tail.
This little bird is about the same size with the Superb Warbler, and has evidently some affinity with that species, but (exclusive of the difference in colour) the tail is not in the least cuneated, but even at the end.
The species of Serpents are much less easily ascertained than those of most other animals; not only on account of the great number of species, but from the innumerable variations to which many of them are subject in point of colour. Amongst those lately received from New Holland, the following are the most remarkable.
SNAKE No. 1, about three feet and a half in length, of a bluish ashcolour, coated with scales rather large than small, and having nearly the same general proportion with the common English snake, or Coluber natrix of Linnaeus.
SNAKE No. 2, nearly three feet in length, slender, and of a tawny yellowish colour, with numerous indistinct bars of dark brown, and somewhat irregular, or flexuous, in their disposition.
SNAKE No. 5, upwards of eight feet in length, of a darkish colour, varied with spots and marks of a dull yellow: the belly also is of a yellowish colour. The scales are small in proportion to the size of the animal; the tail gradually tapers to a point.
SNAKES. See Plate containing Two Figures.
No. 1. Small, about fourteen inches in length, coated with very small scales, and varied with irregular markings of yellow on a dark brown or blackish ground. It is probably a young snake. No. 2. Small, about fifteen inches in length, and fasciated with alternate bars of black and white.
None of the above Serpents appear to be of a poisonous nature: they belong to the Linnaean genus Coluber; yet No. 5 has some characters of the genus Anguis.
The insects received from New Holland are:
No. 1. The large Scolopendra, or Centipede (Scolopendra morsitans Lin.). The specimens seemed of a somewhat darker colour than usual. See plate of large Scolopendra, etc. annexed.
No. 2. A smaller Spider, of a dark colour; with a small thorax and large round abdomen, and with the joints of the legs marked with whitish.
No. 3. A small species of Crab, or Cancer, of a pale colour, and which should be ranked amongst the Cancri brachyuri in the Linnaean division of the genus.
No. 4. A Caterpillar, beset with branchy prickles, and consequently belonging to some species of Papilio or butterfly.
With the specimens of Lacertae, several eggs were received. They were of an oval shape, and of a livid brown colour, whitish within and not much larger than pease. On opening them the young lizards were extracted, perfectly formed, and in all respects resembling the Scincoid Lizard, except that the tail was longer in proportion. See plate of the Skinc-formed Lizard, Fig. 2, 3, and 4, which are given of the natural size. Fig. 1 represents the eggs in the proportion they bear to the adult specimen.
Psittacus submacrourus viridis, capistro rectricumque basi rubris. Cauda subtus flavescens, basi rubra. Remiges latere interiore fuscae. Magnitudo Psittaci Porphyrionis. Rostrum subflavescens, seu fuscoflavescens Pedes subfusci.
Green Paroquet, with somewhat lengthened tail; the feathers round the beak, and the base of the tail feathers, red. About the size of the violet-coloured Otaheite Paroquet. The beak is yellowish, or brownish-yellow. The feet dusky. The tail feathers yellowish beneath, and red at the base. The wing feathers dusky on the interior margin.
Psittacus macrourus viridis, rectricibus basi ferrugineis, humeris subtus sanguineis.
Long-tailed Green Parrot, with the tail feathers ferruginous towards the base, the shoulders blood-red beneath.
This species, which appears to be new, is of that sort generally termed Paroquets. It is about ten inches in length: the general colour of the bird a fine green: the outer edge of the wing, near the shoulders, blue: the edge of the shoulders deep red; the under part the same. On the sides of the body a patch of red: round the beak a few red feathers: long feathers of the wings of a deep blackish-blue, edged slightly with yellow: tail deep ferruginous toward the base, each feather becoming blue at the tip: bill and feet pale brown.
Labrus corpore albescente.
Labrus with whitish body.
The length of this fish was about six inches; the colour whitish; scales large.
From the bad condition of the specimen it was not possible to make so accurate an examination of its characters as might have been wished.
Lophius nigricans, subtus pallidus.
Blackish Lophius, pale beneath.
This fish was about six inches in length; its general colour a very deep brown, almost black; the mouth extremely wide, and furnished with several rows of slender sharp teeth. On opening it many ova were found, which were very large in proportion to the fish.
Cottus albidus, capite aculeato, corpore fasciis transversis lividis.
Whitish Cottus, with aculeated head, body marked with transverse livid bands.
This fish did not exceed four inches in length, and is sufficiently described in its specific character.
Sparus? Argenteus, compressus.
Sparus? Of a silvery colour, the body much compressed.
The specimen figured was nearly six inches in length; the colour a silvery white; scales of a moderate size, and the body much compressed. It seemed to possess the characters of a Sparus, though they could scarce be determined with sufficient certainty, from the bad condition of the specimen.
Mullus subflavescens, fasciis longitudinalis fuscis.
Pale yellowish Mullet, with longitudinal brown bands. Length about five inches: scales large.
[ON COLLECTING AND CLASSIFYING]
The Non-descript Animals of New South Wales occupied a great deal of Mr. White’s attention, and he preserved several specimens of them in spirits, which arrived in England in a very perfect state. There was no person to whom these could be given with so much propriety as Mr. Hunter, he, perhaps, being most capable of examining accurately their structure, and making out their place in the scale of animals; and it is to him that we are indebted for the following observations upon them, in which the anatomical structure is purposely avoided, as being little calculated for the generality of readers of a work of this kind.
It is much to be wished that those gentlemen who are desirous of obliging their friends, and promoting the study of Natural History, by sending home specimens, would endeavour to procure all the information they can relating to such specimens as they may collect, more especially animals. The subjects themselves may be valuable, and may partly explain their connection with those related to them, so as, in some measure, to establish their place in nature, but they cannot do it entirely; they only give us the form and construction, but leave us in other respects to conjecture, many of them requiring further observations relative to their oeconomy.
A neglect in procuring this information has left us, almost to this day, very ignorant of that part of the Natural History of animals which is the most interesting. The Opossum is a remarkable instance of this. There is something in the mode of propagation in this animal that deviates from all others; and although known in some degree to be extraordinary, yet it has never been attempted, where opportunity offered, to complete the investigation. I have often endeavoured to breed them in England; I have bought a great many, and my friends have assisted me by bringing them or sending them alive, yet never could get them to breed; and although possessed of a great many facts respecting them, I do not believe my information is sufficient to complete the system of propagation in this class.
In collecting animals, even the name given by the natives, if possible, should be known; for a name, to a Naturalist, should mean nothing but that to which it is annexed, having no allusion to any thing else; for when it has, it divides the idea.
This observation applies particularly to the animals which have come from New Holland; they are, upon the whole, like no other that we yet know of; but as they have parts in some respect similar to others, names will naturally be given to them expressive of those similarities; which has already taken place: for instance, one is called the Kangaroo Rat, but which should not be called either Kangaroo or Rat; I have therefore adopted such names as can only be appropriated to each particular animal, conveying no other idea.
Animals admit of being divided into great classes, but will not so distinctly admit of subdivision without interfering with each other. Thus the class called Quadruped is so well marked that even the whole is justly placed in the same class. Birds the same; Amphibia (as they are called) the same; and so of fish, etc.; but when we are subdividing these great classes into their different tribes, genera, and species, then we find a mixture of properties, some species of one tribe partaking of similar properties with a species of another tribe.
This animal (probably from its size) was the principal one taken notice of in this island; the only parts at first brought home were some skins and sculls; and I was favoured with one of the sculls from Sir Joseph Banks. As the teeth of such animals as are already known in some degree point out their digestive organs, I was in hopes that I might have been able to form an opinion of the particular tribe of the animals already known to which the Kangaroo should belong; but the teeth did not accord with those of any one class of animals I was acquainted with, therefore I was obliged to wait with patience till I could get the whole: and in many of its other organs the deviation from other animals is not less than in its teeth.
In its mode of propagation it very probably comes nearer to the Opossum than any other animal; although it is not at all similar to it in other respects. Its hair is of a greyish-brown colour, similar to that of the wild rabbit of Great Britain, is thick and long when the animal is old; but it is late in growing, and when only begun to grow it is like a strong down; however, in some parts it begins earlier than others, as about the mouth, etc. In all of the young Kangaroos yet brought home (although some as large as a full-grown cat), they have all the marks of a foetus; no hair; ears lapped close over the head; no marks on the feet of having been used in progressive motion. The large nail on the great toe sharp at the point; and the sides of the mouth united something like the eye-lids of a puppy just whelped, having only a passage at the anterior part. This union of the two lips on the sides is of a particular structure, it wears off as it grows up, and by the time it is of the size of a small rabbit, disappears.
The teeth of this animal are so singular that it is impossible from them to say what tribe it is of. There is a faint mixture in them, corresponding to those of different tribes of animals.
Take the mouth at large, respecting the situation of the teeth, it would class in some degree with the Scalpris dentata; [* This tribe includes the Rat, etc.] in a fainter degree with the horse, and ruminants; and with regard to the line of direction of all the teeth, they are very like those of the Scalpris dentata. The foreteeth in the upper jaw agree with the hog, and those in the lower, in number, with the Scalpris dentata; but with regard to position, and probably use, with the hog. The grinders would seem to be a mixture of hog and ruminants; the enamel on their external and grinding surfaces rather formed into several cutting edges than points. There are six incisors in the upper jaw and only two in the lower; but these two are so placed as to oppose those of the upper; five grinders in each side of each jaw, the most anterior of which is small.
The proportions of some of the parts of this animal bear no analogy to what is common in most others. The disproportions in the length between the fore legs and the hind are very considerable; also in their strength, yet perhaps not more than in the Jerboa. This disproportion between the fore legs and the hind is principally in the more adult; for in the very young, about the size of a half-grown rat, they are pretty well proportioned; which shews that at the early period of life they do not use progressive motion.
The proportions of the different parts of which the hind legs are composed are very different. The thigh of the Kangaroo is extremely short, and the leg is very long. The hind foot is uncommonly long; on which, to appearance, are placed three toes, the middle toe by much the largest and the strongest, and looks something like the long toe of an ostrich. The outer toe is next in size; and what appears to be the inner toe is two, inclosed in one skin or covering.
The great toe nail much resembles that of an ostrich, as also the nail of the outer toe; and the inner, which appears to be but one toe, has two small nails, which are bent and sharp.
From the heel, along the under side of the foot and toe, the skin is adapted for walking upon.
The fore legs, in the full-grown Kangaroo, are small in proportion to the hind, or the size of the animal; the feet, or hands, are also small; the skin on the palm is different from that on the back of the hand and fingers. There are five toes or fingers on this foot, the middle rather the largest; the others become very gradually shorter, and are all nearly of the same shape. The nails are sharp, fit for holding. The tail is long in the old; but not so long, in proportion to the size of the animal, in the young. It would seem to keep pace with the growth of the hind legs, which are the instruments of progressive motion in this animal; and which would also shew that the tail is a kind of second instrument in this action. The under lip is divided in the middle, each side rounded off at the division.
It has two clavicles; but they are short, so that the shoulders are not thrown out.
The species of Spiders, unless seen recent, and in the utmost state of perfection, are not easily distinguished. The present species is most remarkable for the lucid surface of its thorax and legs, which latter are furnished with several long moveable spines, that may be either elevated or depressed at the will of the animal: this, however, is not peculiar to the present species, but is seen in some others. The eyes are eight in number, and are arranged in the same manner as those of the great American Spider, or Aranea Avicularia of Linnaeus.
The colour of this Spider is a clear chestnut brown, except the body, which is a pale brown, with a very deep or blackish fascia on its upper part, reaching about half-way down. The orifice at the tip of each fang is very visible by so slight a magnifying power as that of a glass of two inches focus: this Spider is therefore of the number of those which poison their prey before they destroy it.
The Plate exhibits the back and front view, of the natural size. A. the order in which the spines are placed. The lesser a. two spines enlarged, shewing the bracket on which they turn, and the groove or niche they shut into when closed. C. the fangs magnified.
This animal is about the size of a racoon, is of a dark grey colour on the back, becoming rather lighter on the sides, which terminates in a rich brown on the belly. The hair is of two kinds, a long hair, and a kind of fur, and even the long hair, at the roots, is of the fur kind.
The head is short; the eyes rather prominent; the ears broad, not peaked.
The teeth resemble those of all the animals from that country I have hitherto seen.
The incisors are not continued into the grinders by intermediate teeth, although there are two teeth in the intermediate space in the upper jaw, and one in the lower. The incisors are similar to those of the kangaroo, and six in number in the upper jaw, opposed by two in the lower, which have an oblique surface extending some distance from their edge, so as to increase the surface of contact.
There are two cuspidati on each side in the upper jaw, and only one in the lower; five grinders on each side of each jaw, the first rather pointed, the others appear nearly of the same size, and quadrangular in their shape, with a hollow running across their base from the outside to the inner, which is of some depth; and another which crosses it, but not so deep, dividing the grinding surface into four points.
On the fore foot there are five toes, the inner the shortest, resembling, in a slight degree, a thumb. The hind foot resembles a hand, or that of the monkey and opossum, the great toe having no nail, and opposing the whole sole of the foot, which is bare. The nails on the other toes, both of the fore and hind foot, resemble, in a small degree, those of the cat, being broad and covered; and the last bone of the toe has a projection on the under side, at the articulation. Each nail has, in some degree, a small sheath, covering its base when drawn up.
The tail is long, covered with long hair, except the under surface of that half towards the termination, of the breadth of half an inch, becoming broader near the tip or termination; this surface is covered with a strong cuticle, and is adapted for laying hold.
This animal is a variety of the dog, and, like the shepherd’s dog in most countries, approaches near to the original of the species, which is the wolf, but is not so large, and does not stand so high on its legs.
The ears are short, and erect, the tail rather bushy; the hair, which is of a reddish-dun colour, is long and thick, but strait. It is capable of barking, although not so readily as the European dogs; is very ill-natured and vicious, and snarls, howls, and moans, like dogs in common.
Whether this is the only dog in New South Wales, and whether they have it in a wild state, is not mentioned; but I should be inclined to believe they had no other; in which case it will constitute the wolf of that country; and that which is domesticated is only the wild dog tamed, without having yet produced a variety, as in some parts of America.
This animal is the size of a rat, and has very much the appearance of the martin cat, but hardly so long in the body in proportion to its size.
The head is flat forwards, and broad from side to side, especially between the eyes and ears; the nose is peaked, and projecting beyond the teeth, which makes the upper jaw appear to be considerably longer than the lower; the eyes are pretty large; the ears broad, especially at their base, not becoming regularly narrower to a point, nor with a very smooth edge, and having a small process on the concave, or inner surface, near to the base.
It has long whiskers from the sides of the cheeks, which begin forwards, near the nose, by small and short hairs, and become longer and stronger as they approach the eyes. It has very much the hair of a rat, to which it is similar in colour; but near to the setting on of the tail, it is of a lighter brown, forming a broad ring round it.
The fore feet are shorter than the hind, but much in the same proportion as those of the rat; the hind feet are more flexible. There are five toes on the fore feet, the middle the largest, falling off on each side nearly equally; but the fore, or inner toe, is rather shortest: they are thin from side to side, the nails are pretty broad, laterally, and thin at their base; not very long but sharp; the animal walks on its whole palm, on which there is no hair. The hind feet are pretty long, and have five toes; that which answers to our great toe is very short, and has no nail; the next is the longest in the whole, falling gradually off to the outer toe; the shape of the hind toes is the same as in the fore feet, as are likewise the nails; it walks nearly on the whole foot. The tail is long and covered with long hair, but not all of the same colour.
The teeth of this creature are different from any other animal yet known. The mouth is full of teeth. The lower jaw narrow in comparison to the upper, more especially backwards, which allows of much broader grinders in this jaw than in the lower, and which occasions the grinders in the upper jaw to project considerably over those in the lower. In the middle the cuspidati oppose one another, the upper piercers, or holders, go behind those of the lower; the second class of incisors in the lower jaw overtop those of the upper while the two first in the lower go within, or behind those of the upper.
In the upper jaw, before the holders, there are four teeth on each side, three of which are pointed, the point standing on the inner surface; and the two in front are longer, stand more obliquely forwards, and appear to be appropriated for a particular use. The holders are a little way behind the last fore teeth, to allow those of the lower jaw to come between. They are pretty long, the cuspidati on each side become longer and larger towards the grinders; they are points or cones placed on a broad base.
There are four grinders on each side, the middle two the largest, the last the least; their base is a triangle of the scalenus kind, or having one angle obtuse and two acute. Their base is composed of two surfaces, an inner and an outer, divided by processes or points: it is the inner that the grinders of the lower jaw oppose, when the mouth is regularly shut. The lower jaw has three fore teeth, or incisors, on each side; the first considerably the largest, projecting obliquely forwards; the other two of the same kind, but smaller, the last the smallest.
The holder in this jaw is not so large as in the upper jaw, and close to the incisors. There are three cuspidati, the middle one the largest, the last the least; these are cones standing on their base, but not on the middle, rather on the anterior side. There are four grinders, the two middle the largest, and rather quadrangular, each of which has a high point or cone on the outer edge, with a smaller, and three more diminutive on the inner edge.
It is impossible to say, critically, what the various forms of these teeth are adapted for from the general principles of teeth. In the front we have what may divide and tear off; behind those, there are holders or destroyers; behind the latter, such as will assist in mashing, as the grinders of the lion, and other carnivorous animals; and, last of all, grinders, to divide parts into smaller portions, as in the graminivorous tribe: the articulation of the jaw in some degree admits of all those motions.
Another animal of the same species; only differing from the Tapoa Tafa in its external colour, and in being spotted.
The head is flat sideways, but not so much so as the true Scalpris dentata. The ears are neither long nor short, but much like those of a mouse in proportion to the size of the animal.
The fore legs are short in comparison to the hind. There are four toes on the fore feet, the two middle are long, and nearly of equal lengths, with long narrow nails, slightly bent; the two side toes are short, and nearly equal in size, but the outer rather the largest. From the nails on the two middle toes, one would suppose that the animal burrowed. Their hind legs are long, and it is in their power to stand either on the whole foot, or on the toes only.
On the hind legs are three toes, the middle one large, and the two side ones short. The tail is long. The hair on the body is rather thin; it is of two kinds, a fur, and a long hair, which last becomes exterior from its length. The fur is the finest, and is composed of serpentine hairs; the long hair is stronger, and is also serpentine, for more than two- thirds of its length near to the skin, and terminates in a pretty strong pointed end, like the quill of a hedge-hog. It is of a brownish-grey colour, something like the brown, or grey, rabbit, with a tinge of a greenish-yellow.
It has a pouch on the lower part of the belly, the mouth opens forwards, and the cavity extends backwards to the pubis, where it terminates; on the abdominal surface of this pouch are four nipples or two pair, each pair placed very near the other.
This animal is of the size of a small rabbit: it has a broad flat body, the head a good deal resembles that of the squirrel: the eyes are full, prominent, and large: the ears broad and thin: its legs short, and its tail very long. Between the fore and hind legs, on each side, is placed a doubling of the skin of the side, which when the legs are extended laterally is as it were pulled out, forming a broad lateral wing or fin, and when the legs are made use of in walking, this skin, by its elasticity, is drawn close to the side of the animal and forms a kind of ridge, on which the hair has a peculiar appearance. In this respect it is very similar to the flying squirrel of America.
It has five toes on each fore foot, with sharp nails. The hind foot has also five toes, but differs considerably from the fore foot; one of the toes may be called a thumb, having a broad nail, something like that of the Monkey or Opossum: what answers to the fore and middle toes are united in one common covering, and appear like one toe with two nails; this is somewhat similar to the Kangaroo; the two other toes are in the common form, these four nails are sharp like those on the fore foot. This formation of the foot is well calculated for holding any thing while it is moving its body, or its fore foot, to other parts, a property belonging (probably) to all animals who move from the hind parts; such as the Monkey, Mocock, Mongoose, Opossum, Parrot, Leech, etc.
Its hair is very thick and long, making a very fine fur, especially on the back. It is of a dark brown-grey on the upper part, a light white-grey on the lower side of what may be termed the wing, and white on the under surface, from the neck to the parts adjacent to the anus.
The feathers of the New Holland Cassowary [Emu] are of a remarkable construction; and may, perhaps, be more easily delineated than described. The specimen is figured of the exact size, and consists of two long slender shafts, extremely flaccid, issuing from one small quill. The feather at the base of each shaft is closely set, soft, and flossy, widening and growing harder gradually to the tip, resembling the texture of a dried plant.
The colour brownish-ash, whitening towards the quill.
It seems incapable of resisting water, or of holding air. This circumstance in the feather, added to the great pliability of the shaft, is a most admirable provision for a bird whose safety is entrusted solely to its feet.
Fig. A. represents a hook of the same size, formed of a hard black woodlike substance, neatly executed, and finished with a small knob to assist in fastening it to the line; it is well mounted: the line consists of two strands very evenly laid, and twisted hard; made with a grassy substance dark in colour, and nearly as fine as raw silk: the length of it is shewn by the top of the rod being broken off.
Fig. B is a hook of mother of pearl, formed by an internal volute of some spiral shell, assisted by grinding it a little on one side only: the point of this hook, as well as of the former, seems, to an European, to turn so much as to render them almost useless.
AA. is a War Spear, formed of a light reed-like substance produced by the yellow gum tree, vide p. 235, which if the ends marked with the letters were joined together would shew its full length: the long pointed head is of hard wood, of a reddish colour, and is fastened into the shaft in the firmest manner by a cement of the yellow gum only.
B. is a Stick, at one end of which is a small peg fastened with the same cement, and forming a hook: the other end is ornamented with the shell of the limpet or patella, stuck on with the gum; and, thus constructed, it is used to throw the spear — in this manner: The shell end of the stick being held in the right hand, and the spear poised in the left, the end of the hook at B. is inserted into a hollow at the foot of the spear at D. and thus thrown with a force similar to that of a stone from a sling: this is shewn more particularly in a reduced figure at the upper part of the Plate, a. b.
CC. is a Spear or Gig, of a substance similar to the former, for striking fish in the water: the true length of which will be known by supposing the parts joined together at the lettered ends: the shaft consists of two pieces, a large and a small one, joined by the gum: and the head is composed of four sticks inserted into the shaft with gum, and tied together above with slips of bark, which are afterwards tightened by little wedges, driven within the bandage: each of these sticks is terminated by the tooth of a fish, very sharp, and stuck on by a lump of the gum cement: the shaft of this instrument is punctured in many places with very small holes, to the pith in the centre, but for what purpose is not known.
H. is a Hatchet, of which the head is a very hard black pebble stone, rubbed down at one end to an edge; the handle is a stick of elastic wood, split, which being bent round the middle of the stone, and the extremities brought together, is strongly bound with slips of bark, and holds the head very firmly, as smiths’ chissels are held by hazel sticks in Europe.
S. is a kind of blunt Sword, of hard wood, like the head of the spear A.
F. seems to be an instrument of offence; it is a stick of the natural growth, with the bark on; the root of which is cut round into a large knob; the end F. is made rough with notches, that it may be held more firmly in the hand.
R. is a Basket, formed by a single piece of a brown fibrous bark. This separated whole from the tree is gathered up at each end in folds, and bound in that form by withes, which also make the handle. The Basket is patched in several places with yellow gum, from which it appears to have been sometimes used for carrying water.
These implements are drawn from exact measurements, and fitted to a scale of three feet, inserted at the foot of the Plate.
This fish is so well known to naturalists, and is so frequently seen in every voyage, that it is unnecessary to give a particular description of it. See Plate page 266.
This animal, like the Flying-fish, being commonly known, a description is not necessary. It is the Syngnathus hippocampus of Linnaeus. See Plate page 264.
Balistes pinna dorsali anteriore biradiata, corpore granoso. Valde affinis B. Papilloso Linnaei. Corpus albido-cinerascens, papillis parvulis aspersum. Thorax velut in sacculum productus.
Balistes with the anterior dorsal fin two-spined, and the body covered with granules.
This fish is extremely nearly allied to the Balistes papillosus of Linnaeus. The body is of a whitish ash-colour, and covered with small papillae. The thorax as it were produced into a Sacculus beneath. See Plate page 254.
Au vere distincta ab A. hepseto Lin.? A. pinna ani radiis sedecim. Corpus subferrugineum. Cauda forsicata. Fascia lateralis nitidissima.
Doubtful whether really distinct from the A. hepsetus of Linnaeus. Atherine with the anal fin furnished with sixteen rays. The body is of a subferruginous cast. The tail forked. The lateral line extremely bright.
This fish is so well known, that a particular description need not be given. It is the Fistularia tabacaria of Linnaeus.
This fish, like the preceding, does not require a particular description; is met with in most seas, and possesses powerfully the faculty of adhesion, by the top of the head: frequently to ships’ bottoms, whence it is named Remora.
The general colours of the female are the same as in the male, but less vivid; nor has it the white markings on the front of the head and over the eye, but on the cheeks only. The back and breast are black without white interspersions. The abdomen black, streaked with dusky white; the yellow on the wings and tail inclining to an olivaceous green, the feathers in the latter obtusely pointed. A scapulary of brown adorns the shoulders, terminating in a lanceolate shape half way down the back.
In this bird the bill is longer, and the legs and general form stouter than the male.
|On the Passage|
|After the Landing|
|On the Passage|
|After the Landing|
|Male Convicts, including two murdered||22|
|Executed, by a sentence of
the Criminal Court
|Condemned to death by the Court,
but pardoned by the Governor
|Missing, including one Female||9|
ARTHUR PHILLIP, Esq., Governor in Chief, Captain General etc. etc.
ROBERT ROSS, Esq., Lieut. Governor, and Commander of the Troops.
REV. RICHARD JOHNSON, Chaplain.
ANDREW MILLER, Commissary, and Secretary to his Excellency.
DAVID COLLINS, Judge Advocate.
JOHN WHITE, Surgeon.
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WILLIAM BREWER, Provost Marshal.
H. T. AUGUSTUS ALT, Esq. Surveyor of Lands.
|First Lieutenants||G. JOHNSTON.
JAMES MAITLAND SHAIRP.
JOHN LONG, Adjutant.
|First Lieutenant||JAMES FURZAR, Quartermaster.|
|First Lieutenant||JAMES MAXWELL,|
[Maxwell and Collins] Returning to Europe for the recovery of their health.
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