2nd May 1769

[Royal Society librarian Keith Moore examines an astronomical quadrant said to have been used by Captain James Cook]

This morning, about 9 o'clock, when Mr. Green and I went to set up the Quadrant, it was not to be found. It had never been taken out of the Packing Case (which was about 18 Inches square) since it came from Mr. Bird, the Maker; and the whole was pretty heavy, so that it was a matter of Astonishment to us all how it could be taken away, as a Centinal stood the whole night within 5 Yards of the door of the Tent, where it was put, together with several other Instruments; but none of them was missing but this. However, it was not long before we got information that one of the Natives had taken it away and carried it to the Eastward. Immediately a resolution was taken to detain all the large Canoes that were in the Bay, and to seize upon Tootaha and some others of the principal people, and keep them in Custody until the Quadrant was produced; but this last we did not think proper immediately to put in Execution, as we had only Oberiea in our power, and the detaining of her by force would have alarm'd all the rest.

In the meantime, Mr. Banks (who is always very alert upon all occasions wherein the Natives are concern'd) and Mr. Green went into the Woods to enquire of Toobouratomita which way and where the Quadrant was gone. I very soon was inform'd that these 3 was gone to the Eastward in quest of it, and some time after I followed myself with a small party of Men; but before I went away I gave orders that if Tootaha came either to the Ship or the Fort he was not to be detain'd, for I found he had no hand in taking away the Quadrant, and that there was almost a Certainty of getting it again. I met Mr. Banks and Mr. Green about 4 miles from the Fort, returning with the Quadrant. This was about Sun set, and we all got back to the Fort about 8 o'Clock, where I found Tootaha in Custody, and a number of the Natives crowding about the Gate of the Fort. My going into the Woods with a party of Arm'd men so alarmed the Natives that in the evening they began to move off with their Effects, and a Double Canoe putting off from the Bottom of the Bay was ohserv'd by the Ship, and a Boat sent after her. In this Canoe hapned to be Tootaha, and as soon as our Boat came up with her, he and all the people that were in the Canoe jump'd overboard, and he only was taken up and brought on board the Ship, together with the Canoe; the rest were permitted to swim to the Shore. From the Ship Tootaha was sent to the Fort, where Mr. Hicks thought proper to detain him until I return'd. 

The Scene between Toobouratomita and Tootaha, when the former came into the Fort and found the latter in Custody, was really moving. They wept over each other for some time. As for Tootaha, he was so far prepossessed with the thought that he was to be kill'd that he could not be made sencible to the Contrary till he was carried out of the Fort to the people, many of whom Expressed their joy by embracing him; and, after all, he would not go away until he had given us two Hogs, notwithstanding we did all in our power to hinder him, for it is very certain that the Treatment he had meet with from us did not merit such a reward. However, we had it in our power to make him a present of equal value whenever we pleased.

Joseph Banks Journal
About 10 this morn the astronomical quadrant which had been brought ashore yesterday was miss'd, a circumstance which alarmd us all very much. It had been laid in Captn Cook's berth where no one slept, the telescopes were in my tent safe. Every place was searchd aboard and ashore but no such thing to be found. It appeard very improbable that the Indians could have carried so large a thing out of the tents without being observd by the sentries, our people might have stole [it] as it was packd up in a deal case and might by them be suppos'd to contain nails or some kind of traffick; a large reward was therefore offerd to any one who could find it and all hands sent out to search round the fort, upon a supposition that the Indians would immediately quit a prize that could be of so little use to them.

In about an hour all returnd, no news of the Quadrant. I now went into the woods to get intelligence no longer doubting but that it was in the hands of the Indians. Tubourai met me crossing the river and immediately made with 3 straws in his hand the figure of a triangle: the Indians had opend the cases. No time was now to be lost; I made signs to him that he must instantly go with me to the place where it was, he agreed and out we set acompanied by a midshipman and Mr Green, we went to the Eastward. At every house we went past Tubourai enquird after the theif by name, the people readily told him which way he had gone and how long ago it was since he pass'd by, a circumstance which gave great hopes of coming up with him. The weather was excessive hot, the Thermometer before we left the tents up at 91 made our journey very tiresome. Sometimes we walk'd sometimes we ran when we imagind (which we sometimes did) that the chase was just before us till we arrivd at the top of a hill about 4 miles from the tents: from this place Tubourai shew'd us a point about 3 miles off and made us understand that we were not to expect the instrument till we got there.

We now considerd our situation, no arms among us but a pair of pocket pistols which I always carried, going at least 7 miles from our fort where the Indians might not be quite so submissive as at home, going also to take from them a prize for which they had venturd their lives. All this considerd we thought it proper that while Mr Green and myself proceeded the midshipman should return and desire captn Cooke to send a party of men after us, telling him at the same time that it was impossible we could return till dark night. This done we proceeded and in the very spot Tubourai had mentiond were met by one of his own people bringing part of the Quadrant in his hand. We now stop'd and many Indians gatherd about us rather rudely, the sight of one of my pistols however instantly checkd them and they behav'd with all the order imaginable, tho we quickly had some hundreds surrounding a ring we had markd out on the grass. The box was now brought to us and some of the small matters such as reading glasses etc. which in their hurry they had put into a pistol case, this I knew belongd to me, it had been stole out of the tents with a horse pistol in it which I immediately demanded and had immediately restord. Mr Green began to overlook the Instrument to see if any part or parts were wanting, several small things were, and people were sent out in search of them some of which returnd and others did not; the stand was not there but that we were informd had been left behind by the theif and we should have it on our return, and answer which coming from Tubourai satisfied us very well; nothing else was wanting but what could easily be repaird so we pack'd all up in grass as well as we could and proceeded homewards.

After walking about 2 miles we met Captn Cooke with a party of marines coming after us, all were you may imagine not a little pleasd at the event of our excursion. The Captn on leaving the Tents left orders both for the ship and shore, which were that no canoes should be suffer'd to go out of the bay but that nobodys person should be seizd or detaind, as we rightly guessd that none of our freinds had any hand in the theft. These orders were obeyd by the 1st Lieutenant who was ashore, but the second aboard seeing some canoes going along shore sent a boat to fetch them back; the boatswain commander did so and with them brought Dootahah, the rest of their crews leap'd overboard, he was sent ashore prisoner. The 1st Lieutenant of course could not do less than confine him which he did to the infinite dissatisfaction of all the Indians, this we heard from them 2 miles before we reachd the tents on our return. Tubourai, Tomaio and every Indian that we let in Joind in lamenting over Dootahah with many tears. I arrivd about a quarter of an Hour before the Captn during which time this scene lasted; as soon as he came he orderd him to be instantly set at liberty which done he walkd off sulky enough tho at his departure he presented us with a pig.

No comments:

Post a Comment