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Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 664 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 10.

There are but few birds.  One sort, called pardelas by the Spaniards, burrow in the ground like rabbits, and are said to be good eating.  There are also humming-birds, not much larger than bumble bees, their bills no thicker than a pin, their legs proportional to their bodies, and their minute feathers of most beautiful colours.  These are seldom taken or seen but in the evenings, when they fly about, and they flew sometimes at night into our fire.  There is here a sort of cabbage tree, of the nature of a palm, producing small cabbages, but very sweet.  The tree is slender and straight, with circular knobs on the stem fourteen inches above each other, and having no leaves except at the top.  The branches are about twelve feet long, and at about a foot and a half from the body of the tree begin to shoot out leaves, which are four feet long and an inch broad, and so regularly placed that the whole branch seems one entire leaf.  The cabbage, which grows out from the bottom of the branches, is about a foot long and very white; and at the bottom of this there grow clusters of berries, weighing five or six pounds, like bunches of grapes, as red as cherries and larger than our black-heart cherries, each having a large stone in the middle, and the pulp eats like our haws.  These cabbage trees abound about three miles into the woods, the trunk being often eighty or ninety feet high, and is always cut down to get the cabbages, which are good eating; but most of them grow on the tops of the nearest mountains to the great bay.

We found here some Guinea pepper, and some silk cotton trees, besides several others with the names of which I am not acquainted.  Pimento is the best timber, and the most plentiful at this side of the island, but it is very apt to split till it is a little dried.  We cut the longest and cleanest to split for fire wood.  In the nearest plain, we found abundance of turnip greens, and water-cresses in the brooks, which greatly refreshed our men, and quickly cured them of the scurvy.  Mr Selkirk said the turnips formed good roots in our summer months, which are winter at this island; but this being autumn, they were all run up to seed, so that we had no benefit of them excepting their green leaves and shoots.  The soil is a loose black earth, and the rocks are very rotten, so that it is dangerous to climb the hills for cabbages without great care.  There are also many holes dug into the ground by a sort of birds called puffins, which give way in walking, and endanger the breaking or wrenching a limb.  Mr Selkirk said he had seen snow and ice here in July, the depth of the southern winter; but in September, October, and November, the spring months, the climate is very pleasant, and there are then abundance of excellent herbs, as purslein, parsley, and sithes.  We found also an herb, not unlike feverfew, which proved very useful to our surgeons for fomentations.  It has a most grateful smell like balm, but stronger

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