THE JOURNAL OF SIR JOSEPH BANKS.* "THE whirligig of time
has its revenges,"—and its recom- penses. Every lover of fair-play and of Colonial exploration will rejoice that at length due justice is done to the valuable and admirable work accomplished by the great naturalist of Captain Cook's first voyage round the world. The com- mander himself—Captain Cook—has already received his fair meed of praise, and his own journal was ably edited four years ago by the Hydrographer to the Navy, Captain W. J.
L. Wharton, RN., F.R.S. But Cook's faithful companion, accomplished observer, and ardent collector has been allowed till now to rest in undeserved oblivion, except so far as the
results of his observations appeared in Hawkesbury's medley, Cook's Voyages. That Sir Joseph's name and labour deserve recalling is abundantly evident from these remarks of his able editor :- " It needs no reading between the lines of the great navigator's Journal to discover his estimation of the ability of his companion, of the value of his researches, and of the importance of his active co-operation on many occasions. It was Banks who rapidly mastered the language of the Otahitans and became the in- terpreter of the party, and who was the investigator of the customs, habits, dm., of these and of the natives in New Zealand. It was often through his activity that the commissariat was sup- plied with food. He was on various occasions the thief-taker, especially in the case of his hazardous expedition for the recovery of the stolen quadrant, upon the use of which, in observing the transit of Venus across the sun's disc, the success of the expedi- tion so greatly depended "
It may well be added that it was to Banks's forethought and even at his own risk, that an Otaheitan man and boy were taken on board, for it was through these that communi- cations were opened with the Maoris, and our first knowledge gained of that interesting race.
Joseph Banks was a Londoner, having been born in Argyll Street on February 2nd, 1743 (O.S.) The son of William Banks, once M.P. for Peterborough, and a man of some fortune, young Banks was sent to Harrow at the age of nine, and four years later was transferred to Eton. Disliking Latin and Greek, the schoolboy found his greatest delight in col- lecting plants and insects and in all kinds of field sports. When seventeen he was entered as gentleman commoner at Christchurch, Oxford, whence, however, not being able to add to his knowledge of botany, he soon made his way to Cam- bridge, and there studied under Israel Lyons, at once astronomer and botanist. At the early age of twenty-three Banks was elected F.R.S., and having by this time a fortune of his own, he was free to gratify his taste and to devote him- self entirely to the study of natural science. In May, 1766, Banks accompanied his friend, Lieutenant Phipps (afterwards Lord Mulgrave), to Newfoundland, whence, having investigated its then unknown flora, he returned next year by way of Lisbon. The results of this first exploring voyage are pre- served in the British Museum.
Events were now fast hastening the time when England should initiate " the moat momentous voyage of discovery that has ever taken place,"—Cook's first voyage round the
world. Commodore Byron, Captains Wallis and Carteret, had already been to the Southern Seas in the interest of
geographical science ; their return quickened the desire for further exploration. The Government were about to fit out another expedition to Tahiti (Otaheite) under Lieutenant James Cook when Joseph Banks asked leave to be the naturalist of the party. This was readily granted ; and with characteristic energy and generosity Banks spent £10,000 in supplying the good ship 'Endeavour' with all the stores, draughtsmen, and servants needed to make the voyage a complete success. The result is told in the admirable volume before us, in the publication of which editor, draughtsmen, and publisher have combined to give to the world a trustworthy account of Sir Joseph Banks's share in the discoveries of a voyage which led so signally to the
enrichment of science, and by the discovery of Australia, to the enlargement and prosperity of the Empire. After being • Journal of the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Batas. Edited by Sir Joseph Hooker., London : Macmillan and Co.
President of the Royal Society for forty-one years, Sir Joseph died at Heston, Middlesex, on June 19th, 1820, leaving a widow, but no lineal issue. Australians are constantly reminded of
the great working naturalist by the beautiful species to which the name of Banksia was given ; and New Zealanders, like the present writer, have had his name in evidence every time they pass by or ramble over Banks's Peninsula, so named
by Captain Cook in affectionate remembrance of his comrade's ever-ready assistance in all stages of the memorable voyage.
Our extracts are chosen for their originality and picturesque force, as, for example, this one written by Banks just after an attempt was made to land at Poverty Bay, New Zealand. "The Indians (the Maoris) received us with threatening demonstrations, but a musket fire wide of them intimidated them, and they allowed us to approach near enough to parley ":—
" Tupia found their language so near his own that he could tolerably well understand them. He induced them to lay down their arms, and we gave them some beads and iron, neither of which they seemed to value; indeed, they seemed totally ignorant of the use of the latter. They constantly attempted to seize our arms, or anything they could get, so that we were obliged to fire on them and disperse them ; none were, we hope, killed. Soon after we intercepted a native canoe ; but when we came up with it the owners made so desperate a resistance, that we were com- pelled to fire upon them, killing four ; the other three (boys) attempted to swim to shore, but were captured and taken on board the ship. On finding that they were not to be killed, they at once recovered their spirits, and soon appeared to have for- gotten everything that had happened. At supper they ate an enormous quantity of bread, and drank over a. quart of water apiece. Thus ended the most disagreeable day my life has yet seen ; black be the mark for it, and heaven send that such may never return to embitter future reflection."
On going to New Zealand, Banks was sceptical as to the Indians (Maoris) being cannibals ; his doubts were scattered in this fashion :—
" The bones were clearly human; upon them were evident marks of their having been dressed on the fire ; the meat was not entirely picked off them, and on the gristly ends, which were gnawed, were evident marks of teeth ; and they were accidentally found in a provision basket. On asking the people what bones they were, they answeted The bones of a man.'—' And have you eaten the flesh ?'—` Ves.'—` Have you none of it left ? '— 'No.'—' Why did you not eat the woman we saw to-day in the
water ? She was our relation.'—'Whom, then, do you eat?'- `
Those who are killed in war.'—' And who was the man whose bones these are P'—' Five days ago a boat of our enemies came into this bay, and of them we killed seven, of whom the owner of these bones was one.' The horror that appeared in the counte- nances of the seamen on hearing this discourse, which was immediately translated for the good of the company, is better conceived than described."
Later travellers have described the Maori canoeists and their war-dance, but none have done it better than our author in this terse passage :-
" I have seen fifteen paddles of a side in one of their canoes move with immensely quick strokes, and at the same time as much justness as if the rowers were animated with one soul ; not the fraction of a second could be observed between the dipping and raising any two of them, the canoe all the while moving with incredible swiftness. To see them dance their war-dance was an amusement which never failed to please every spectator. So much strength, firmness, and agility did they show in their motions, and at the same time such excellent time did they keep, that I have often heard above a hundred paddles struck against the sides of their boats, as directed by their singing, without a mistake being ever made."
The advance of civilisation has rightly abolished the war- dance, but the later Maoris are as skilful as ever with their paddles and canoes.
When off New Guinea the party were much puzzled with the "fiery darts" which were hurled by the natives in self- defence. Some thought them actual muskets. But Banks could see in their hands a short piece of stick, perhaps a hollow cane, which they swung sideways from them, and immediately fire flew from it, perfectly resembling the flash and smoke of a musket, and of no longer duration.