6th June 1769

[How Venereal Disease arrived in Tahiti]

This day and for some days past we have been informd by several of the Natives that about 10 or 15 months ago Two Ships touched at this Island and stayed 10 days in a Harbour to the Eastward, called Ohidea, the Commander's name was Tootteraso, [ M. de Bougainville, who laid at Hitiaa from April 6th to April 16th, 1768] --so at least the Natives call him--and that one of the Natives, Brother to the Chief of Ohidea, went away with him. They likewise say these ships brought the venerial distemper to this Island, where it is now as Common as in any part of the world, and which the people bear with as little concern as if they have been accustom'd to it for Ages past. We had not been here many days before some of our People got this disease, and as no such thing hapned to any of the Dolphin's people while she was here, that I ever heard of, I had reason (notwithstanding the improbability of the thing) to think that we had brought it along with us, which gave me no small uneasiness, and did all in my power to prevent its progress, but all I could do was to little purpose, as I was obliged to have the most part of the Ship's Company ashore every day to work upon the Fort, and a Strong Guard every Night; and the Women were so very liberal with their favours--or else Nails, Shirts, etc., were temptations that they could not withstand, that this distemper very soon spread itself over the greatest part of the Ship's company, but now I have the satisfaction to find that the Natives all agree that we did not bring it here. We have several times seen Iron tools and other Articles with these people that we suspected came not from the Dolphin, and these they now say they had from these two Ships.

Joseph Banks Journal
In walking into the woods yesterday I saw in the hands of an Indian an Iron tool made in the shape of the Indian adzes, very different I was sure from any thing that had been carried out or made either by the Dolphin or this ship. This excited my curiosity, much the more so when I was told that it did not come out of either of those ships but from two others which came here together. This was a discovery not to be neglected. With much dificulty and labour I at last got the following account of them, viz, that in their month of Pepére which answers to our January 1768 2 Spanish ships came here commanded by a man whoom they calld To Otterah; that they lay 8 days in a bay calld Hidea, some leagues to the eastward of Matavie where the ship now lies; that during their stay they sent tents ashore and some slept in them; that they were cheifly connected with a cheif whose name was Orétte, whose younger brother they carried away with them promising to return in nine months; that they had on board their ships a woman; and that on their departure they stood to the westward as long as they were seen from the Island. I was very particular in these inquiries as the Knowledge got by them may be of some consequence. The methods I took to gain this account would be much too tedious to mention: one of my greatest dificulties was to determine of what nation they were which was done thus, I pointed to our colours and ask'd whether the ships had such or not. No, was the answer when the question was thouroughly understood. I opend a large sheet of Flaggs and askd which of them they had: Tubourai lookd stedfastly over them and at last pitchd upon the Spanish ensign and to that he adhered tho we tryd him over and over.

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