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.
a bark perfectly whole and loose, and having narrow long leaves like our willows.  They were of the sort which Linne calls melaleuca leucadendra, and Rumphius arbor alba, who says that the natives of the Moluccas make the oil of cayputi, from the leaves, which are indeed extremely fragrant and aromatic.  Not the least shrub was to be seen on this eminence, and the trees did not intercept the distant prospect.  We discerned from hence a line of tufted trees and shrubberies, which extended from the sea- side towards the mountains, and immediately concluded that they stood on the banks of a rivulet.  The banks of this were lined with mangroves, beyond which a few other sorts of plants and trees occupied a space of fifteen or twenty feet, which had a layer of vegetable mould, charged with nutritive moisture, and covered with a green bed of grasses, where the eye gladly reposed itself after viewing a painted prospect.  The border of shrubberies and wild-trees which lined the sea-shore, was the most advantageous to us as naturalists; here we met with some unknown plants, and saw a great variety of birds of different classes, which were for the greatest part entirely new.  But the character of the inhabitants, and their friendly inoffensive behaviour towards us, gave us greater pleasure than all the rest.  We found their number very inconsiderable, and their habitations very thinly scattered.  They commonly had built two or three houses near each other, under a group of very lofty fig-trees, of which the branches were so closely entwined, that the sky was scarcely visible through the foliage, and the huts were involved in a perpetual cool shade.  They had another advantage besides, from this pleasant situation; for numbers of birds continually twittered in the tufted tops of the tree, and hid themselves from the scorching beams of the sun.  The wild circle of some species of creepers was very agreeable; and conveyed a sensible pleasure to every one who delighted in this kind of artless harmony.  The inhabitants themselves were commonly seated at the foot of these trees, which had this remarkable quality, that they shot long roots from the upper part of the stem, perfectly round, as if they had been made by a turner, into the ground, ten, fifteen, and twenty feet from the tree, and formed a most exact strait line, being extremely elastic, and as tense as a bow-string prepared for action.  The bark of these trees seems to be the substance of which they make those little bits of cloth, so remarkable in their dress.”—­ G.F.
[6] Wafers met with Indians in the Isthmus of Darien of the colour of a white horse.  See his Description of the Isthmus, page 134.  See also Mr de Paw’s Philosophical Enquiries concerning Americans, where several other instances of this remarkable whiteness are mentioned, and the causes of it attempted to be explained.—­This note is by Captain Cook.  The reader may not have forgotten some remarks on the subject, in
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