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

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 705 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 14.
with Middleburg or Eaoowee, and Pylstart, make a group, containing about three degrees of latitude and two of longitude, which I have named the Friendly Isles or Archipelago, as a firm alliance and friendship seems to subsist among their inhabitants, and their courteous behaviour to strangers entitles them to that appellation; under which we might, perhaps, extend their group much farther, even down to Boscawen and Keppell’s Isles discovered by Captain Wallis, and lying nearly under the same meridian, and in the latitude of 15 deg. 53’; for, from the little account I have had of the people of these two isles they seem to have the same sort of friendly disposition we observed in our Archipelago.

The inhabitants, productions, &c. of Rotterdam, and the neighbouring isles, are the same as at Amsterdam.  Hogs and fowls are, indeed, much scarcer; of the former having got but six, and not many of the latter.  Yams and shaddocks were what we got the most of; other fruits were not so plenty.  Not half of the isle is laid out in inclosed plantations as at Amsterdam; but the parts which are not inclosed, are not less fertile or uncultivated.  There is, however, far more waste land on this isle, in proportion to its size, than upon the other; and the people seem to be much poorer; that is, in cloth, matting, ornaments, &c. which constitute a great part of the riches of the South-Sea islanders.

The people of this isle seem to be more affected with the leprosy, or some scrophulous disorder, than any I have seen elsewhere.  It breaks out in the face more than any other part of the body.  I have seen several whose faces were ruined by it, and their noses quite gone.  In one of my excursions, happening to peep into a house where one or more of them were, one man only appeared at the door, or hole, by which I must have entered, and which he began to stop up, by drawing several parts of a cord across it.  But the intolerable stench which came from his putrid face was alone sufficient to keep me out, had the entrance been ever so wide.  His nose was quite gone, and his whole face in one continued ulcer; so that the very sight of him was shocking.  As our people had not all got clear of a certain disease they had contracted at the Society Isles, I took all possible care to prevent its being communicated to the natives here; and I have reason to believe my endeavours succeeded.

Having mentioned a house, it may not be amiss to observe, that some here differ from those I saw at the other isles:  being inclosed or walled on every side, with reeds neatly put together, but not close.  The entrance is by a square hole, about two feet and a half each way.  The form of these houses is an oblong square; the floor or foundation every way shorter than the eve, which is about four feet from the ground.  By this construction, the rain that falls on the roof, is carried off from the wall, which otherwise would decay and rot.

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