3rd July 1769
Joseph Banks Journal
This morn very early Mr Monkhouse and myself set out, resolving to follow the cour[s]e of the valley down which our river comes in order to see how far up it was inhabited etc. etc. When we had got about 2 miles up it we met several of our neighbours coming down with loads of breadfruit upon their backs. We had often wonderd from whence the small supplys of breadfruit we had came, as there was none to be seen upon the flats, but they soon explaind the mystery, shewing us breadfruit trees planted on the sides of the hills and telling us at the same time that when the fruit in the flats faild this became ready for use, which had been by them planted upon the hills to preserve the succession. The quantity was they informd us much less than was in the low land and not sufficient by any means to supply all the interval of scarcity; when this was exhausted they must live upon ahee nuts, Plantains, and Vae, a wild plantain which grows very high up in the mountains.
How the Dolphins who were here much about this time came to find so great plenty of Breadfruit upon the trees is to me a mystery, unless perhaps the seasons of this fruit alter; as for their having met with a much larger supply of hoggs fowls etc. than we have done I can most readily account for that, as we have found by constant experience that these people may be frightned into any thing. They have often describd to us the terrour which the Dolphins guns put them into and when we ask how many people were killd they number names upon their fingers, some ten some twenty some thirty, and then say worrow worow the same word as is usd for a flock of birds or a shoal of fish: the Journals also serve to confirm this opinion. 'When” say they 'towards the latter end of our time provisions were scarce a party of men were sent towards Eparre to get hoggs etc. an office which they had not the smallest dificulty in performing, for the people as they went along the shore drove out their hoggs to meet them and would not allow them to pay any thing for them.' We proceeded about 4 miles farther and had houses pretty plentifully on each side the river, the vally being all this way 3 or 400 yards across. We were now shewn a house which we were told would be the last we should see, the master offerd us Cocoa nutts and we refreshd ourselves. Beyond this we went maybe 6 miles (it is dificult to guess distances when roads are bad as this was, we being generaly obligd to travel along the course of the river) we passd by several hollow places under stones where they told us that people who were benighted slept. At lengh we arrivd at a place where the river was bankd on each side with steep rocks, and a caskade which fell from them made a pool so deep that the Indians said we could not go beyond it, they never did, their business lay upon the rocks on each side on the plains above which grew plenty of Vae. The avenues to these were truly dreadfull, the rocks were nearly perpendicular, one near 100 feet in hight, the face of it constantly wet and slippery with the water of numberless springs; directly up the face even of this was a road, or rather a succession of long peices of the bark of Hibiscus tiliaceus which servd them as a rope to take hold of and scramble up from ledge to ledge, tho upon those very ledges none but a goat or an Indian could have stood. One of these ropes was near 30 feet in lengh. Our guides offerd to help us up this pass but rather recomended one lower down a few hundred yards which was much less dangerous, tho we did not chuse to venture, as the sight which was to reward our hazard was nothing but a grove of Vae trees which we had often seen before.
In the whole course of this walk the rocks were almost constantly bare to the view, so that I had a most excellent opportunity of searching for any apearance of minerals but saw not the smallest. The stones every where shewd manifest signs of having been at some time or other burnd; indeed I have not seen a specimen of stone yet in the Island that has not the visible marks of fire upon it, small peices indeed of the hatchet stone may be without them but I have peices of the same species burnd almost to a pumice, the very clay upon the hills gives manifest signs of fire. Possibly the Island owes its original to a volcano which now no longer burns; or Theoreticaly speaking, for the sake of those authors who balance this globe by a proper weight of continent placed near about these latitudes, that so nesscessary continent may have been sunk by Dreadfull earthquakes and Volcanos 2 or 300 fathoms under the sea, the tops of the highest mountains only still remain[in]g above water in the shape of Islands: an undoubted proof that such a thing now exists to the great emolument of their theory, which was it not for this proof would dhave been already totaly demolishd by the Course our ship made from Cape Horn to this Island.
Posted by Arborfield at 07:23