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.

In this place we saw no quadruped except seals, sea-lions, and dogs; of the dogs it is remarkable that they bark, which those that are originally bred in America do not.  And this is a further proof, that the people we saw here had, either immediately or remotely, communicated with the inhabitants of Europe.  There are, however, other quadrupeds in this part of the country; for when Mr Banks was at the top of the highest hill that he ascended in his expedition through the woods, he saw the footsteps of a large beast imprinted upon the surface of a bog, though he could not with any probability guess of what kind it might be.

Of land-birds there are but few; Mr Banks saw none larger than an English blackbird, except some hawks and a vulture; but of water-fowl there is great plenty, particularly ducks.  Of fish we saw scarce any, and with our hooks could catch none that was fit to eat; but shell-fish, limpets, clams, and mussels were to be found in abundance.

Among the insects, which were not numerous, there was neither gnat nor musquito, nor any other species that was either hurtful or troublesome, which perhaps is more than can be said of any other uncleared country.  During the snow-blasts, which happened every day while we were here, they hide themselves; and the moment it is fair they appear again, as nimble and vigorous as the warmest weather could make them.

Of plants, Mr Banks and Dr Solander found a vast variety; the far greater part wholly different from any that have been hitherto described.  Besides the birch and winter’s bark, which have been mentioned already, there is the beech, Fagus antarcticus, which, as well as the birch, may be used for timber.  The plants cannot be enumerated here; but as the scurvy-grass, Cardamine antiscorbutica, and the wild celery, Apium antarcticum, probably contain antiscorbutic qualities, which may be of great benefit to the crews of such ships as shall hereafter touch at this place, the following short description is inserted: 

The scurvy-grass will be found in plenty in damp places, near springs of water, and in general in all places that lie near the beach, especially at the watering-place in the Bay of Good Success:  When it is young, the state of its greatest perfection, it lies flat upon the ground, having many leaves of a bright green, standing in pairs opposite to each other, with a single one at the end, which generally makes the fifth upon a foot-stalk:  The plant, passing from this state, shoots up in stalks that are sometimes two feet high, at the top of which are small white blossoms, and these are succeeded by long pods:  The whole plant greatly resembles that which in England is called Lady’s Smock, or Cuckow-flower.  The wild celery is very like the celery in our gardens, the flowers are white, and stand in the same manner, in small tufts at the top of the branches, but the leaves are of a deeper green.  It grows in great abundance near the beach, and generally upon the soil that lies next above the spring tides.  It may indeed easily be known by the taste, which is between that of celery and parsley.  We used the celery in large quantities, particularly in our soup, which, thus medicated, produced the same good effects which seamen generally derive from a vegetable diet, after having been long confined to salt provisions.

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