According to the best judgment that we could form of the people, when we were nearest the shore, they were about our size, and well-made. They were of a brown complexion, and appeared to be naked; their hair, which was black, was confined by a fillet that went round the head, and stuck out behind like a bush. The greater part of them carried in their hands two weapons; one of them was a slender pole, from ten to fourteen feet long, on one end of which was a small knob, not unlike the point of a spear; the other was about four feet long, and shaped like a paddle, and possibly might be so, for some of their canoes were very small: Those which we saw them launch seemed not intended to carry more than the three men that got into them. We saw others that had on board six or seven men, and one of them hoisted a sail, which did not seem to reach more than six feet above the gunwale of the boat, and which, upon the falling of a slight shower, was taken down and converted into an awning or tilt. The canoe which followed us to sea hoisted a sail not unlike an English log-sail, and almost as lofty as an English boat of the same size would have carried.
The people, who kept abreast of the ship on the beach, made many signals; but whether they were intended to frighten us away, or invite us on shore, it is not easy to determine. We returned them by waving our hats and shouting, and they replied by shouting again. We did not put their disposition to the test by attempting to land; because, as the island was inconsiderable, and as we wanted nothing that it could afford, we thought it imprudent as well as cruel to risk a contest, in which the natives must have suffered by our superiority, merely to gratify an idle curiosity; especially as we expected soon to fall in with the island where we had been directed to make our astronomical observation, the inhabitants of which would probably admit us without opposition, as they were already acquainted with our strength, and might also procure us a ready and peaceable reception among the neighbouring people, if we should desire it.
To these islands we gave the name of The Groups.
On the 7th, about half an hour after six in the morning, being just at day-break, we discovered another island to the northward, which we judged to be about four miles in circumference. The land lay very low, and there was a piece of water in the middle of it; there seemed to be some wood upon it, and it looked green and pleasant; but we saw neither cocoa-trees nor inhabitants: It abounded, however, with birds, and we therefore gave it the name of Bird-Island.
It lies in latitude 17 deg. 48’ S. and longitude 143 deg. 35’ W. at the distance of ten leagues, in the direction W. 1/2 N. from the west end of the Groups. The variation here was 6 deg. 32’ E.