A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 794 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13.

Among the mountains, and in the desert parts of the island, there are tigers, it is said, in great abundance, and some rhinoceroses:  In these parts also there are monkies, and there are a few of them even in the neighbourhood of Batavia.

Of fish, here is an amazing plenty; many sorts are excellent, and all are very cheap, except the few that are scarce.  It happens here, as in other places, that vanity gets the better even of appetite:  The cheap fish, most of which is of the best kind, is the food only of slaves, and that which is dear, only because it is scarce, and very much inferior in every respect, is placed upon the tables of the rich.  A. sensible house-keeper once spoke to us freely upon the subject.  “I know,” said he, “as well as you, that I could purchase a better dish of fish for a shilling, than what now costs me ten; but if I should make so good a use of my money, I should here be as much despised, as you would be in Europe, if you were to cover your table with offals, fit only for beggars, or dogs.”

Turtle is also found here, but it is neither so sweet nor so fat as the West-Indian turtle, even in London; such as it is, however, we should consider it as a dainty; but the Dutch, among other singularities, do not eat it.  We saw some lizards, or Iguanas, here of a very large size; we were told that some were as thick as a man’s thigh, and Mr Banks shot one that was five feet long:  The flesh of this animal proved to be very good food.

Poultry is very good here, and in great plenty:  Fowls of a very large size, ducks, and geese, are very cheap; pigeons are dear, and the price of turkies extravagant.  We sometimes found the flesh of these animals lean and dry, but this was merely the effect of their being ill fed, for those that we fed ourselves were as good as any of the same kind that we had tasted in Europe, and we sometimes thought them even better.

Wild fowl in general is scarce.  We once saw a wild duck in the fields, but never any that were to be sold.  We frequently saw snipes of two kinds, one of them exactly the same as that in Europe; and a kind of thrush was always to be had in great plenty of the Portuguese, who, for I know not what reason, seem to have monopolized the wild fowl and game.  Of snipes, it is remarkable, that they are found in more parts of the world than any other bird, being common almost all over Europe, Asia, Africa, and America.

With respect to drink, Nature has not been quite so liberal to the inhabitants of Java as to some whom she has placed in the less fruitful regions of the north.  The native Javanese, and most of the other Indians who inhabit this island, are indeed Mahometans, and therefore have no reason to regret the want of wine; but, as if the prohibition of their law respected only the manner of becoming drunk, and not drunkenness itself, they chew opium, to the total subversion not only of their understanding, but their health.[148]

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