A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 12 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 659 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 12.

Having lain off this island from the 24th of June to the 27th of July, I shall now give the best account of its inhabitants, with their manners and arts, that I can; but having been in a very bad state of health the whole time, and for great part of it confined to my bed, it will of necessity be much less accurate and particular than I might otherwise have made it.

The inhabitants of this island are a stout, well-made, active, and comely people.  The stature of the men, in general, is from five feel seven to five feet ten inches, though a few individuals are taller, and a few shorter; that of the women from five feet to five feet six.  The complexion of the men is tawney, but those that go upon the water are much redder than those who live on shore.  Their hair in general is black, but in some it is brown, in some red, and in others flaxen, which is remarkable, because the hair of all other natives of Asia, Africa, and America, is black, without a single exception.  It is generally tied up, either in one bunch, in the middle of the head, or in two, one on each side, but some wear it loose, and it then curls very strongly:  In the children of both sexes it is generally flaxen.  They have no combs, yet their hair is very neatly dressed, and those who had combs from us, made good use of them.  It is a universal custom to anoint the head with cocoa-nut oil, in which a root has been scraped that smells something like roses.  The women are all handsome, and some of them extremely beautiful.  Chastity does not seem to be considered as a virtue among them, for they not only readily and openly trafficked with our people for personal favours, but were brought down by their fathers and brothers for that purpose:  They were, however, conscious of the value of beauty, and the size of the nail that was demanded for the enjoyment of the lady, was always in proportion to her charms.  The men who came down to the side of the river, at the same time that they presented the girl, shewed a stick of the size of the nail that was to be her price, and if our people agreed, she was sent over to them, for the men were not permitted to cross the river.  This commerce was carried on a considerable time before the officers discovered it, for while some straggled a little way to receive the lady, the others kept a look-out.  When I was acquainted with it, I no longer wondered that the ship was in danger of being pulled to pieces for the nails and iron that held her together, which I had before puzzled myself to account for in vain, the whole ship’s company having daily as much fresh provision and fruit as they could eat.  Both men and women are not only decently but gracefully clothed, in a kind of white cloth, that is made of the bark of a shrub, and very much resembles coarse China paper.  Their dress consists of two pieces of this cloth:  One of them, a hole having been made in the middle to put the head through hangs down from the shoulders to the mid leg before and behind; another piece, which is

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 12 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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