During this excursion, Mr Banks had an excellent opportunity to examine the rocks, which were almost every where naked, for minerals; but he found not the least appearance of any. The stones every where, like those of Madeira, shewed manifest tokens of having been burnt; nor is there a single specimen of any stone, among all those that were collected in the island, upon which there are not manifest and indubitable marks of fire; except perhaps some small pieces of the hatchet-stone, and even of that, other fragments were collected which were burned almost to a pumice. Traces of fire are also manifest in the very clay upon the hills; and it may, therefore, not unreasonably be supposed, that this, and the neighbouring islands, are either shattered remains of a continent, which some have supposed to be necessary in this part of the globe, to preserve an equilibrium of its parts, which were left behind when the rest sunk by the mining of a subterraneous fire, so as to give a passage to the sea over it; or were torn from rocks, which, from the creation of the world, had been the bed of the sea, and thrown up in heaps, to a height which the waters never reach. One or other of these suppositions will perhaps be thought the more probable, as the water does not gradually grow shallow as the shore is approached, and the islands are almost every where surrounded by reefs, which appear to be rude and broken, as some violent concussion would naturally leave the solid substance of the earth.
On the 4th, Mr Banks employed himself in planting a great quantity of the seeds of water-melons, oranges, lemons, limes, and other plants and trees which he had collected at Rio de Janeiro. For these he prepared ground on each side of the fort, with as many varieties of soil as he could chuse; and there is little doubt but that they will succeed. He also gave liberally of these seeds to the Indians, and planted many of them in the woods: Some of the melon seeds having been planted soon after our arrival, the natives shewed him several of the plants, which appeared to be in the most flourishing condition, and were continually asking him for more.
We now began to prepare for our departure by bending the sails, and performing other necessary operations on board the ship, our water being already on board, and the provisions examined. In the mean time we had another visit from Oamo, Oberea, and their son and daughter; the Indians expressing their respect by uncovering the upper parts of their body as they had done before. The daughter, whose name we understand to be Toimata, was very desirous to see the fort, but her father would by no means suffer her to come in. Tearee, the son of Waheatua, the sovereign of Tiarrabou, the south-east peninsula, was also with us at this time; and we received intelligence of the landing of another guest, whose company was neither expected nor desired: This was no other than the ingenious gentleman who contrived to steal our quadrant. We were told, that he intended to try his fortune again in the night; but the Indians all offered zealously to assist us against him, desiring that; for this purpose, they might be permitted to lie in the fort. This had so good on effect, that the thief relinquished his enterprise in despair.