A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 10 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 762 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 10.
as if trained by art.  There is another tree, much larger, which I think resembles that which produces the jesuit bark.  There are plains on the tops of some of the mountains, on which are groves of the Indian laurel, mentioned by Frezier in his description of Chili.  These have a straight slender body, from which sprout small irregular branches all the way from the root to the top, bearing leaves like the laurel, but smaller. Palm-trees are found in most parts of the island, growing in smooth joints, like canes, some thirty and some forty feet high.  Their heads resemble the cocoa-nut tree, except that their leaves are of a paler green, and bear large bunches of red berries, bigger than sloes, which taste like haws, and have stones as large as those of heart-cherries.  That which we call the palm-cabbage is the very substance of the head of the tree; which being cut off and divested of its great spreading leaves, and all that is hard and tough, consists of a white and tender young shoot or head, having its leaves and berries perfectly formed, and ready to replace the old one.  When in search of these, we were forced to cut down a lofty tree for each individual cabbage.

One good property of the woods which cover this island is, that they are every where of easy access, as there is no undergrowth, except in some of the deepest valleys, where the fern grows exceedingly high, and of which there are very large trees, with trunks of considerable solidity.[270] Some of the English who had been formerly here, had sowed turnips, which have spread much, as have also two or three plantations of small pompions; but my men never had patience to let any of these come to maturity.  We found also plenty of water-cresses and wild sorrel.  Some of the hills are remarkable for a fine red earth, which I take to be the same with that of which the inhabitants of Chili make their earthenware, which is almost as beautiful as the red porcelain of China.  The northern part of the island is well watered by a great many streams which flow down the narrow valleys; and we found the water to keep well at sea, and to be as good as any in the world.  Down the western peak, contiguous to the Table Mountain, there fall two cascades from a perpendicular height of not less than 500 feet.  These are close together, and about 12 feet broad.  What with the rapid descent of these streams, and the numerous palm-trees growing close beside them, adorned with vast clusters of red berries, the prospect is really beautiful.  We should have had no want of goats, could we have conveniently followed them in the mountains.  The Spaniards, before they settled in Chili, left a breed of goats here, and have since endeavoured to destroy them, by leaving a breed of dogs, but without effect.  Cats are also very numerous, exactly resembling our household cats in size and colour; and those of our men who eat of them, assured me they found more substantial relief from one meal of their flesh, than from four or five of seal or fish; and, to their great satisfaction, we had a small bitch, which, could catch almost any number they wanted in an hour.  There are not many sorts of birds; but the sea on the coast abounds with a greater variety of fish than almost any place I was ever in.

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