Fresh Breezes and Cloudy Weather with light Rain in the Middle part, but not such as to be of any service to the Plants. Wind at EBS and ESE and the Thermometer from 77° to 78¼°. Employed in the Hold getting coals up and taking in ballast as wanted. Sailmakers about the Fore Topsail. Received supplies from the Natives as usual. Three Venereals in the Doctors List.
Every thing continues to go on very well at the Tents. About an hour before sun set the Natives all collect and have every Evening their different amusements. The Men try their skill in wrestling in which they show more strength than any knowledge in the art. I have already described this diversion at a publick exihibition where the Parade takes off much of the real action to what it is in these private matches, for here there are only two combatants at a time, and as soon as those have tryed their skill two others take the Ground. A fair fall like as it is in England is to be thrown on the back, but if they fall to the ground any way the trial for that time is over. They graple by the Hair, Legs or any part they can lay hold of. However they have the art of the Cross buttock as in Cornwall, but the Man who takes that method is generally thrown or obliged to quit it, if the opponent is stronger than himself. The greatest good humour is carried through the whole, and the Man that is thrown laughs at his overthrow as much as the other does at his success.
The Women divide into parties about 30 or 40 yards apart and perform a kind of recitative accompanied with a Stamping of the feet and claping the hands with many wanton odd motions. A Breadfruit is then taken by a person of one party, and being placed on the foot is thrown over to the others. If it is caught, that party performs the dance, and the others look on, but if it is not caught, the Party who threw it has the dance in token of the Victory, and the ball is thrown by turns from side to side.
The recitative stile of singing is very common in this country, & accompanied by their flutes and a soft beating of the Drum, is an amusement they delight much in when at their Houses, and see various beauties in it according to the excellence of the performers. The whole shows a softness and delicacy in the manners and feelings which none in this sea, but the Otaheiteans have.
Another amusement of the Men & Boys is throwing a light lance at a Stump of a Plantain Tree about 30 yards distant, and this they do well with so much skill as generally to strike it. Yet this does not as one would imagine lead to any martial exploit, for we know of no such mode of fighting, any more than with Bows and Arrows, altho they have the use of them likewise for their diversion. The Bow is strong and would answer for War but the Arrows are only Reeds pointed with wood and not winged.
It is perhaps a happy circumstance that these people have no destructive Weapon of a Missive nature if we except the sling, and yet having it in their power it is extraordinary they have never adopted the Bow and Arrow in time of War.
The Weather continues so very cloudy that it prevents me making any Lunar Observations and others, and I therefore stay on board and forward the duty of clearing the Hold for ballast and examining the Provisions, which is not only a troublesome operation, but of dangerous tendency if not carefully managed.
I had my usual Visitors but no new circumstance happened.