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.
all this might be on our account; but I hardly think it.  We never gave them the least molestation, nor did we touch any part of their property, not even the wood and water, without first having obtained their consent.  The very cocoa-nuts, hanging over the heads of the workmen, were as safe as those in the middle of the island.  It happened rather fortunately, that there were so many cocoa-nut trees, near the skirts of the harbour, which seemed not to be private property; so that we could generally prevail on the natives to bring us some of these nuts, when nothing would induce them to bring any out of the country.

We were not wholly without refreshments; for besides the fish, which our seine now and then provided us with, we procured daily some fruits or roots from the natives, though but little in proportion to what we could consume.  The reason why we got no more might be our having nothing to give them in exchange, which they thought valuable.  They had not the least knowledge of iron; consequently, nails and iron tools, beads, &c. which had so great a run at the more eastern isles, were of no consideration here; and cloth can be of no use to people who go naked.

The produce of this island is bread-fruit, plantains, cocoa-nuts, a fruit like a nectarine, yams, tarra, a sort of potatoe, sugar-cane, wild figs, a fruit like an orange, which is not eatable, and some other fruit and nuts whose names I have not.  Nor have I any doubt that the nutmeg before mentioned was the produce of this island.  The bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, and plantains, are neither so plentiful nor so good as at Otaheite; on the other hand, sugar-canes and yams are not only in greater plenty, but of superior quality, and much larger.  We got one of the latter which weighed fifty-six pounds, every ounce of which was good.  Hogs did not seem to be scarce; but we saw not many fowls.  These are the only domestic animals they have.  Land-birds are not more numerous than at Otaheite, and the other islands; but we met with some small birds, with a very beautiful plumage, which we had never seen before.  There is as great a variety of trees and plants here, as at any island we touched at, where our botanists had time to examine.  I believe these people live chiefly on the produce of the land, and that the sea contributes but little to their subsistence.  Whether this arises from the coast not abounding with fish, or from their being bad fishermen, I know not; both causes perhaps concur.  I never saw any sort of fishing-tackle amongst them, nor any one out fishing, except on the shoals, or along the shores of the harbour, where they would watch to strike with a dart such fish as came within their reach; and in this they were expert.  They seemed much to admire our catching fish with the seine; and, I believe, were not well pleased with it at last.  I doubt not, they have other methods of catching fish besides striking them.[2]

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