Their principal weapons are stones, thrown either with the hand or sling, and bludgeons; for though they have bows and arrows, the arrows are only fit to knock down a bird, none of them being pointed, but headed only with a round stone.
I did not see one turtle all the while I lay off this island; but, upon shewing some small ones which I brought from Queen Charlotte’s Island, to the inhabitants, they made signs that they had them of a much larger size. I very much regretted my having lost our he-goat, which died soon after we left St Iago, and that neither of our she-goats, of which we had two, were with kid. If the he-goat had lived, I would have put them all on shore at this place, and I would have left a she-goat here if either of them had been with kid; and I doubt not, but that in a few years they would have stocked the island.
The climate here appears to be very good, and the island to be one of the most healthy as well as delightful spots in the world. We saw no appearance of disease among the inhabitants. The hills are covered with wood, and the vallies with herbage; and the air in general is so pure, that, notwithstanding the heat, our flesh meat kept very well two days, and our fish one. We met with no frog, toad, scorpion, centipied, or serpent of any kind: And the only troublesome insects that we saw were ants, of which there were but few.
The south-east part of the island seems to be better cultivated and inhabited than where we lay, for we saw every day boats come round from thence laden with plantains and other fruit, and we always found greater plenty, and a lower price, soon after their arrival, than before.
The tide rises and falls very little, and, being governed by the winds, is very uncertain; though they generally blow from the E. to the S.E., and for the most part a pleasant breeze.
The benefit that we received while we lay off this island, with respect to the health of the ship’s company, was beyond our most sanguine expectations, for we had not now an invalid on board, except the two lieutenants and myself, and we were recovering, though still in a very feeble condition.
It is certain that none of our people contracted the venereal disease here, and therefore, as they had free commerce with great numbers of the women, there is the greatest probability that it was not then known in the country. It was, however, found here by Captain Cook, in the Endeavour, and as no European vessel is known to have visited this island before Captain Cook’s arrival, but the Dolphin, and the Boudeuse and Etoil, commanded by M. Bougainville, the reproach of having contaminated, with that dreadful pest, a race of happy people, to whom its miseries had till then been unknown, most be due either to him or to me, to England or to France; and I think myself happy to be able to exculpate myself and my country beyond the possibility of doubt.