Browse the documents Browse the documents Search
Advanced search
The Flinders papersletters and documents about the explorer Matthew Flinders (1774-1814)
You are here: Flinders > Browse the Documents > Documents > Documents
All pages | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Back to Index

Portion of Flinders' journal on HMS Providence (1791-93) (FLI08a)

Santa Cruz not a large Town, Streets wide, ill pavd [sic] and ir-
-regular – the Houses of the principal Inhabitants large and
have very little Furniture, but are airy and pleasant suit-
-able to the Climate most of them have Balconies, where the
Owners sit and enjoy the Air – Those of the lower Claƒs, ill
built dirty and almost without Furniture – On the East side
of the Town next the Road is a small public Garden of a
rectangular Figure, containing two Rows of Poplar Trees and
at this Time ornamented with Patches of Marvel of Peru
In the Square where the Market is held, near the Pier, is a
tolerably elegant marble Obelisk in Honour of our Lady of
Candelaria, the {tutelar} Goddeƒs of the Place, and ^ to whom the
Spaniards on their Arrival erected this Statue calling it our
Lady, keeping up some resemblance of the ancient Worship
that they might the better keep the Tenerifians in Subjec-
-tion – at the Top of the Obelisk is placed the Statue, and at
its Base are four well executed Figures representing the
Ancient Kings or Princes of Teneriffe, each of which has the
Shin bone of a Mans Leg in his Hand. This Image is held
in great Estimation by the Lower Claƒs of People, who tell
many absurd Stories of its first Appearance in the Isld
the many Miracles she has wrought &c On the four sides
of the Pedestal are the following Inscriptions in Spanish
                      On the East side
At the Expence [sic] and cordial Devotion of Don Bartholomew An-
tonio Montainez, perpetual Governor of the Royal Castle
of Candelaria the Strand of Candelaria, in the Year of our
Lord 1768, the tenth of the Pontificate of our Holy Father

Clement 13 th – and the ninth of the Reign of our Catholic
King Don Carlos 3rd
                    the North side
Is erected a Monument of Christian Piety, for the eter-
nal Memory of the wonderful Apparition of Candelaria
which holy Image was adored in this Island by the Gen-
tiles, one hundred and four years before the preaching of the
                    West side
The regal Succeƒsors of Teneriffe crownd [sic] with Flowers, bear-
-ing as majestic Sceptors, the witherd [sic] shin bones of their Fa-
-thers, reverenced the hidden Deity in this holy Image: they
saw the Light of God between Shades and they invoked it in
all their Neceƒsities –
                    South side
The Christian Conquerors implord [sic] her special Protection of
Teneriffe; The Islanders and their Patron-general of all the
Canaries adore it as the Image of the Mother of God, who for
Mens Redemption was made Man –
The natural Inhabitants of the Island are scarcely to be
distinguishd [sic] from the ^ lower Claƒs of Spaniards – they are of a larger Size
and more bony, the Complexion of both is very swarthy –
The better sort of People who are not exposd [sic] to the Sun
are tolerably fair fair – even the inferior Women, notwith-
standing their Colour, might several of them be accounted
handsome; their Feat [sic] are regular and they have good
Teeth, their immodest Importunities are troublesome but
in that the Tenerifians are not singular –

The Churches here are ^ richly ornamented with Images as in other
Roman Catholic Countries, and attended by a number of all-
-pious Priests, cloathd [sic] very shabbily, I suppose to shew their
Contempt of the World – this side of the Island is very moun-
-tainous much encumberd [sic] with Stones and has a very parched
and barren Appearance, some Figs, Vines, Euphorbia canarien-
-sis, Aloe americanae and the Semper vivum canariensa are
met with on the Hills but few or no other Plants – The Road
to Laguna is ascending, extremely stoney and uneaven, distance
5 or 6 Miles – in going there "we" met with a Syngenesious Plant
like the Baccharis menifolia, a small Trifolium and a
Number of Aloes, which at this Time were beautifully in Bloom.
The Laguna Town of Laguna is nearly as large as Santa Cruz
built in the same Stile [sic] but has a more ancient Appearance – it
contains a Square in a Corner of which is a fine Fountain, by
which "I" suppose the Town is principally supplied with Water –
near the Fountain is a large Prison which at this Time containd [sic]
many Prisoners of both Sexes, who looked thro' the Bars and
begd [sic] very heartily – In "our" Return, we met with an old Gen
-tleman who took a particular Fancy to a large ugly Knife "we"
had to gather Lichens with, and wanted to purchase it, with much
ado he was prevaild [sic] on to accept it, in return he askd [sic] "us" to his
House and entertaind [sic] us with Fruit and some excellent Wine
with the Spirit of true Spaniard, making a great display of
his Plate and riches, in many Utensils "we" had not the least
Occasion for – "We" visited a Nunnery of the Order of St Dominic
in the Chappel [sic] was a fine statue of the Virgin Mary, with four
Wax Candles burning before her, peeping thro the Bars of the
Convent "we" perceivd [sic] several fine young Women at Prayers, a
middle aged Woman opend [sic] the Door half way but would by

no means suffer us to enter this sanctified Spot – None
of the Nuns would be prevaild [sic] upon to come near us, however
they did not seem at all displeasd [sic] with our Visit, but presented
"us" with a sweet Candy they calld [sic] Dulce and some artificial
Flowers, in return for which "Mr Smith" gave them a Dollar –

The Beach affords few Shells – in attempting to pull up a
fleshey Fucus which grew in the Water, a Fisherman who was
present hastily snatchd [sic] "my" Hand, making me understand
it would cause the Part touchd [sic] to swell very much, however I
pulld [sic] up a whole Hand full with ^ out any disagreable [sic] Conse-
-quence at which he shook his Head – In general, these
People appear to be a merry good naturd [sic] People, are courte-
ous to and appear happy to see Strangers, "we" found this al-
-ways the Case altho' they said "we" were no Christians, but they
generally took Care to make us pay pretty well for what we had –
they live principally upon Fruits and Roots, are fond of dan-
-cing and singing and upon the whole they live as lazily, as
happily ^ as contentedly and in as much Poverty as any French Peasant
would wish to do – the Fruits of this Island are fine and
in great Plenty. The Grapes, Plantains, Peaches & Pears were
at this Time in Season, and were brought alongside the Ship
by the Natives and sold for three Times their Value on shore
tho' we thought them cheap, they have likewise Oranges
Figs and a few Cocoa nutts [sic] – Their Onions are good and in
great Plenty and their Potatoes ^ are equal to any in England and
we found them keep exceeding well – The Town of Santa
Cruz is supplied with Water from Hills, conveyd [sic] a conside-
-rable Distance in wooden Spouts, at this Time there was
a Scarcity of it – the Beef is small and lean – On the
North side of the Town next the Beach is a small Fort and
Barracks for the Soldiers, but it is a mean Buildings

as little deserving that Name as the Soldiers are of theirs,
for they are as shabby and as despicable as my old Hatt [sic]
this Fort and a few Peices [sic] (I believe eighteen) mounted on
the Peir [sic] command the Road, but these last are not in a
very offensive State, the others I did not see, the best Wine
to be bought here, is 15th a Pipe it is very strong and we found it
keep very well, their Goats of which they have a good Num-
-ber look tolerably well when they come on board, but before they
have been a Month at Sea, they become perfect Skeletons, the
immediate Cause of which is a large Maggot which either
gets up the Nostrils or are bred in the Head, these they often
frequently void and two out of three of them die soon after –
                          St Jago
Brought to – the American Schooner got under weigh in the
Afternoon – Captn Bligh sent home Dispatches by her to be
forwarded as soon as poƒsible – Great Numbers of fine beautiful
fish of various Colours about the Ship – the Spanish Mackerel
very conspicuous – those that were ^ mostly caught were a fish large
Fish 2 to 4 Pounds weight, spotted of a dull read [sic] Colour – The
inland Parts of the Island high and mountanous [sic], but towards
the Sea, descends into Plains, where stands the Town of Porto
Praya, consisting principally of a few straw coverd [sic] Hutts [sic]
There is a very few brick Houses for the Portuguese Inhabitants
and a Fort with Portuguese Colours – we saw some Plantati-
-ons, the Trees beautifully green which appeard [sic] more conspicuous
from the surrounding Land and Mountains being dry and
parchd [sic]. The Cocoa-nutt [sic] was amongst them – A reef runs out
from the North Point of the Bay, Sea broke very high upon
it. The Boat brought a few green Oranges, which however
were very acceptable; not able to get any thing because it

was Sunday. found it the same at Teneriffe the first day
we arrivd [sic] – the Air moderately warm and kept tolerable by
a Light Mode Breeze off the Land, some epidemic Disorder pre-
-vailing on shore, which was the Reason we staid [sic] so little Time
here and perhaps the Warmth being greater than at Sea,
might having some effect upon Captn Blighs Health, might
in some Measure conduce to it, for it is thought his Disorder
originated in that at Teneriffe, so that he was afraid to stay
here and we got under weigh as fast as poƒsible – the small hookd [sic]
a rock or perhaps one of those Anchors left here by Commodore Johnson, prior
to his Engagement with Suffraign, hove as large purchases as we were
able to rig [illegible] but could not purchase the Anchor – the Cable parted,
set the Topsails upon her and stood out of the Bay with a fresh
Breeze at NE – a strong Tide or current running from the Westward –

                          At Sea towards the Cape
Several Butterflies and Moths constantly about the Ship,
yet our Distance from Land is too great for them to come
off. The Butterflies are all of a small Species, Wing vari-
-egated with light red and purple – in all probality [sic] they
are left in embrio [sic] about the Ship when near Land. –
Septr 16 Heavy Rains – the Nectarines got upon Deck for the
Benefit of the Rain –
Septr 23 – A small species of Malacop ^ tarigii or Hedge Hog fish ^ caught, & calld from its
being coverd [sic] with Spines like that Animal – its length was
3½ I, and greatest breadth 1I. its colour, a light Blue, fine-
ly striated and spotted with black, spines likewise black – Skin
loose and capable of being distended to the size of a Mans fist
in which lays its Defence against the superior Fish of Prey, for
by Drawing in a Quantity of Water it produces this Distension,

is when it is round and its Spines erect, we saw some of this
Species of Fish five times its size at Adventure Bay, which
if stuck with a Knife when thus distended, the Water would
spring from them in a stream to a considerable Distance, they
appeard [sic] to have little Activity in them and to be incapable of
preying upon any smaller Fish, so that their Sustenance must
consist of Insects or something they may draw from Sea Winds
the Spawn of other Fish – –
croƒsd [sic] the Equator – – –
After Dinner, the Boatswain pipd [sic] all Hands to Mischief –
but before this on the preceeding [sic] Night, those who had before
croƒsd [sic] it, had got a kind of ^ triangular Gallows or more properly a Gibbet,
riggd [sic] out with Hands pikes seasd [sic] together and an Iron Bar
running up and down it to sink it, in this ^ Machine those who had to
under go the Ceremony were to be dowsd [sic] three times into the
Water from the Fore Yard to which it was slung with a
whip to this, they had got a Peice [sic] of Iron Hoop, fild [sic]
sharp on one Edge, and jagd [sic] on the other ^ by way of Razor and prepard [sic] a
lather ^ Lawder for each, the first in a Tar Bucket into which they
put every kind of dirt they could collect, the other was sim-
-ply Oatmeal and Water – the first was for those who
should refuse to give them any Liquor and the milder
Operation for the more liberal, but one of these and the
dowsing none where [sic] to escape – with these formidable pre-
-perations, with which every one were acquainted, after din-
-ner us nonequatorians were all sent down below, the
Hatchways coverd [sic] with Tarpaulins and a centry [sic] placd [sic]
over each to prevent any coming upon or seeing the dark
Mysteries going on upon Deck, presently we heard a Voice

hailing the Ship, asking her Name and that of the Captain, Mr
ansd that it was the Providence commanded by Captn
Bligh, who will be very happy to see you and ^ your retinue on board,
most noble Neptune, Neptune ansd that he would pay him and
Visit his Children whom he had not seen before, a Visit, accordingly
^ he comes out of the Head where this porrou had ^ paƒsd seated on his Carr,i,e
a main hatchway Grating, born by Seamen who were those that
had croƒsed the Line and were all in his Retinue, after we found
by their Talk on Deck, that Mr Neptune was fairly on board, we anxiously
waited to know what would be come next, presently two Seamen came
down who stiled [sic] themselves Constables, came down with their Faces
blackd [sic], deputed by Neptune to bring up Mr Nichols who was first
upon the List, they tied a Handkerchief over his Eyes and led him
up the after Hatchway, walking on each side of him with Tri-
-dents or Broomsticks in their Hands as marks of their Authority,
we soon heard a swashing of Water on Deck and a great deal of talk-
-ing and laughing, presently they came down for another and ano-
-ther and then for poor I, they blinded me, led me upon Deck,
and made me sit down, Oh this Gallows thinks I, however they
began to tell me, that Neptune was come on board, they hopd [sic] I would
not let him go without something to drink, and askd [sic] me how
much I proposd [sic] to give him, bidding me remember, the Gallows
the Razor and Lawder , "I'm shure [sic] I don't know, I am willing to
give the same as the Last, but how much; why – how much do you
want, one answers, the Gentleman wont think much of a Gal-
-low, no says another, half a one will do, the Captain says, why
he must give you ^ a Bottle, the same as the rest, yes Sir says Neptune
a Bottle will do, and addreƒsing himself to me, you'l [sic] give us a Bot-
-tle of Liquor Sir! O Yes, with all my Heart, then share give the Gen-
-tleman the white Lawder, accordingly they began to daub my face

and scrap [sic] it with the smooth edge of his Razor, tho I did not
find it remarkably so, when this was done, Now says Neptune
we must give him a wash, yes says another lay hold here and
give us a Hoist, but stand clear of the whip that he may
go down nicely – its only three Times Sir – yes thinks I that's
often enough – in a moment my Seat went from under me,
I fell back wds in the Water, ^ sluice comes half a Dozen buckets over me they took the Handkerchief off my
Eyes, and I found my self in a large Tub full of Water, and
every body with Buckets in their Hands in their Heaving at me –
on my left hand stood Neptune, his Wife our Gunners mate
and two other Seamen disguised as Neptune, his Wife and the
Barber, such horrid Figures, painted, plaisterd, [sic] blackd, [sic] Swabs
for Tails, [illegible] and Oatmeal instead of Powder and Po-
-manture, however, I got in amongst the rest, laid hold of a
Bucket and without any Remorse of Conscience sluiced away
at the next poor Devil that came – some of the Gents who
had croƒsd [sic] the Line before got up into the Tops thinking
to escape getting wet, but they were pursued by those that
were so, ^ who had Buckets of Water handed up sent to them with
which they compleatly sluiced these prior Equatorians, so
that the only Advantage the [sic] reapd [sic] from having croƒsd [sic] the Line
before was not being shavd [sic], after every Man had been
brought up in Succeƒsion and undergone paƒsd under the Hands
of the Tonsor, a kind of Water War commenced, one Party
against an other, which ceasd [sic] gradually and was given
up at the Captains expreƒsing a Desire that it shoud [sic]
then every one went below, and put on dry Cloathes [sic] and
the whole was concluded by the Captains giving each
Man a Dram – thus this famous Ceremony ended.

Octr 6th Sun nearly vertical, of Course we have now
no Shadow, yet we do not find it remarkably warm
The fine trade wind makes it remarkably pleasant, our
Constitutions being tolerably well seasond [sic] to 74° of the Ther
about which it generally ^ stands, even this degree of Heat is equal
to the Artificial one raisd [sic] in Hot Houses in England and
10° higher than the common summer weather there
but to us who have stood it at 89 in the Shade which it was
at Teneriffe and I dare ^ say more than 100 on the burning Sand
on shore, it was is only a pleasant Temperature. –
We almost every Day see many Nautili or Portuguese
Men of War
which in the Night make a luminous Ap-
-pearance, not but that there may be many other shin-
-ing Substances which may also cause the same Appear-
-ance particularly that Sparkling which the is almost
always observd [sic] in low Latitudes in the Water put in Motion
by the Ship, this I think Mr Forster in his Treatise on
the Causes of these Appearances says is occasiond [sic] by small
Molluscae which at pleasure make a radiant Appearance
and when taken up in a Bucket had a very perceptable [sic]
Motion. –
Octr 11th a visible Eclipse of the , but by not being
timely apprisd [sic] of it, we neglected that opportunity of
ascertaining of our Longitude ^ was neglected, however our Time Keepers
are certainly to be depended on to a greater Nicety, than
any Longitude we coud [sic] procure by any Eclipse of the
at Sea, yet it is always satisfactory to have as many
circumstances as poƒsible concur in determining our
Situation. –

Octr 15th we caught three Dolphins, these are certainly
a fine fish, both with Respect to flavour and form and
are deserve which is deservedly calld [sic] beauteous, their Colours change accord-
-ing to the angle you view them in, to blue, yellow, green,
and brown, a Number of Dolphins together display all
these different Colours at the same Time and are a beu- [sic]
-tiful Sight, the fish is about 3 feet long, head flat
and rounded Tail a little forkd [sic], a larger Fish running
fore and aft from his Head to the Tail, is rather ^ a slender
^ Fish and spotted with small, round, irregularly placed Spots. –
The same afternoon we caught a middle sizd [sic] Shark, I sup-
-pose about 7 feet long for there was not time to measure it
this is the best Fish in the World for Sailors, the Captains
not chusing [sic] to take any of him, A Shark is always considerd [sic]
lawful Plunder, from which circumstance this poor fellow
had not been on board three Minutes before he was in a
Dozen Peices [sic] and perhaps before half an hour they were
feasting upon him, he had a most forbidding stupid Appear-
-ance. I had no Idea the Mouth of this Fish was situated
so far under him, it must be inconvenient to him to
seize upon any thing. he or she had five young ones taken
out of her alive. –
Before we made the Cape, saw several Spermaceti Whales,
close to the Ship, great ugly Monsters that went rolling
along and blowing every now and then, they seemd [sic] to move
without any Sense as one might suppose a {House or Horse} woud [sic]
or rather a Ship by way of a better Similitude, I suppose
their Tops of the Sails which are horizontal could not be leƒs
than 12 or 15 feet broad.

                    Cape of Good Hope
The Town has a pretty Appearance from the Bay, a great
deal of Wood being dispersd [sic] all over it, indeed it is a Handsome
regular Built Place, the Houses are in general low and built
after one Plan, upon a Medium betwixt the small warm
Apartments of the cold and large airy ones of the warm Cli-
-mate. they mostly consist in a Paƒsage that terminates in a
Hall of a rectangular Figure, on each side the Paƒsage are
private Rooms – from the Hall are Doors into the Kitchen
and back Appartments [sic] on one side and bed or other retird [sic]
Rooms on the other, from the Hall too is a Paƒsage up Stairs
one Pair of Stairs to bed Rooms and from them onto ^ towards the Court
yard frequently jutt [sic] out Balconies – the Dutch from hav-
-ing great Quantities of Animal food are rather corpulent
nevertheleƒs they keep up their national Characteristic for
Carefulneƒs neither are they very polite – a Stranger will be
treated with a great deal of Ceremony but when you come to the
solid Part of the Compliments their Generosity is at a Stand –
Of all ^ the people I ever saw these are the most ceremonious,
every Man is a Soldier, and wears his square riggd [sic] Hat, Sword,
Epauletts [sic] and military Uniform, they never paƒs each other
without a formal Bow which even descends to the
lowest Ranks and it is even seen in the Slaves, by the bye
they have great plenty of Slaves here which are principally
Malays, some are brought from the Coast of Mosambique
which are their Tillers of Land, and hard working Men
but greatest Part of their Women slaves and domestics are
Malay who as they have left off the dirty Custom of chewing
Betle nutt [sic] are superior to those we afterwards saw at
Timor, they have a few Hottentots amongst them which
are easily distinguishd [sic] by their Copper Colour, high Cheeks


All pages | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Back to Index
View Print Friendly Version

Related people
Pope Clement XIII
Guthrie, James
Nichols, William
Bligh, William
Flinders, Matthew
Smith, Christopher

Cape of Good Hope


Words and phrases
Marvel of Peru
Aloe americanae
Semper vivum
Order of St Dominic
Spanish mackerel
Hedgehog fish
Portuguese man of war
Dolphin fish
Time keeper
Spermaceti whale

Related Documents
Other documents written by Flinders, Matthew