A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 822 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14.
hurt ourselves.  The natives who were accustomed to this desolate ground, skipped nimbly from stone to stone without the least difficulty.  In our way we saw several black rats running about, which it seems are common to every island in the South Sea.  Being arrived at the shrubbery which we had in view, we found it was nothing but a small plantation of the paper mulberry, of which here, as well as at Otaheite, they make their cloth.  Its stems were from two to four feet high, and planted in rows, among very large rocks, where the rains had washed a little soil together.  In the neighbourhood of these we saw some bushes of the hibiscus populneus, Linn, which is common also in the Society Isles, where it is one of the numerous plants made use of to dye yellow; and likewise a mimosa, which is the only shrub that affords the natives sticks for their clubs and patoo-patoos, and wood sufficient to patch up a canoe.  We found the face of the country more barren and ruinous the farther we advanced.  The small number of inhabitants, who met us at the landing-place, seemed to have been the bulk of the nation, since we met no other people on our walk; and yet for these few we did not see above ten or twelve huts, though the view commanded a great part of the island.  One of the sightliest of these was situated on a little hillock, about half a mile from the sea, which we ascended.  Its construction was such as evinced the poverty and wretched condition of its owners.  The natives told us they passed the night in these huts; and we easily conceived their situation to be uncomfortable, especially as we saw so very few of them, that they must be crammed full, unless the generality of the people lie in the open air, and leave these wretched dwellings to their chiefs, or make use of them only in bad weather.  Besides these huts, we observed some heaps of stones piled up into little hillocks, which had one steep perpendicular side, where a hole went under ground.  The space within could be but very small, and yet it is very probable that these cavities served to give shelter to the people during night.  They may, however, communicate with natural caverns, which are very common in the lava currents of volcanic countries.  We should have been glad to have ascertained this circumstance, but the natives always denied us admittance into these places.”—­G.F.
[6] “Captain Cook had not been very fortunate in trading with the people.  They seemed indeed to be so destitute as to have no provisions to spare.  A few matted baskets full of sweet potatoes, some sugar- canes, bunches of bananas, and two or three small fowls ready dressed, were the whole purchase which he had made for a few iron tools, and some Otaheite cloth.  He had presented the people with beads, but they always threw them away with contempt, as far as ever they could.  Whatever else they saw about us, they were desirous of possessing, though they had nothing to give in return.—­G.F.


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