A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 16 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 768 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 16.

On the same side of the island, and about two miles to the eastward, is the harbour of Parowroah, much larger within than that of Taloo; but the entrance, or opening in the reef (for the whole island is surrounded by a reef of coral rock) is considerably narrower, and lies to leeward of the harbour.  These two defects are so striking, that the harbour of Taloo must always have a decided preference, It is a little extraordinary, that I should have been three times at Otaheite before, and have once sent a boat to Eimeo, and yet not know till now that there was a harbour in it.  On the contrary, I always understood there was not.  Whereas, there are not only the two above mentioned, but one or two more on the south side of the island.  But these last are not so considerable as the two we have just described.

We had no sooner anchored, than the ships were crowded with the inhabitants, whom curiosity alone brought on board; for they had nothing with them for the purposes of barter.  But, the next morning, this deficiency was supplied; several canoes then arriving from more distant parts, which brought with them abundance of bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, and a few hogs.  These they exchanged for hatchets, nails, and beads; for red feathers were not so much sought after here as at Otaheite.  The ship being a good deal pestered with rats, I hauled her within thirty yards of the shore, as near as the depth of water would allow, and made a path for them to get to the land, by fastening hawsers to the trees.  It is said, that this experiment has sometimes succeeded; but, I believe, we got clear of very few, if any, of the numerous tribe that haunted us.[1]

[Footnote 1:  A French traveller in Greece, it is believed Sonnini, makes mention of such an artifice having been used with success by a vessel that put into one of the islands he visited; but in this case the transference was made, not into the island, but into another vessel, containing apples, of which rats are known to be exceedingly fond.  A hawser was secretly fastened to the latter, so as to form a communication betwixt the two vessels.  On the following morning, it is said, not a rat was found in the one which originally contained them, the whole having gone over during the night to the other.  So much for the efficacy of the stratagem.  The reader will be at no loss to decide as to the morality of having recourse to it.  Mr Bingley relates another method of getting rid of these vermin, which seems to be abundantly serviceable, and which certainly has honesty in its favour.  The Valiant man of war, on its return from the Havannah, was so shockingly infested with them, that they destroyed a hundred weight of biscuit daily.  The ship was smoked between decks in order to suffocate them, which had the desired effect.  In proof of this, he says, that six hampers were for some time filled every day with the dead animals.—­E.]

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