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the island cannot be considered as uninteresting, and is here given in his own words.
"He sits down under the shade of the next tree, or on the shady side of his house, and a large quantity of leaves, either of the bread-fruit or bananas, are neatly spread before him upon the ground as a tablecloth; a basket is then set by him, that contains his provision, which, if fish or flesh, is ready dressed, and wrapped up in leaves, and two cocoanut shells, one full of salt water and one of fresh. His attendants, which are not few, seat themselves round him, and when all is ready, he begins by washing his hands and his mouth thoroughly with the fresh water, and this he repeats almost continually throughout the whole meal. He then takes part of his provision out of the basket, which generally consists of a small fish or two, two or three bread-fruits, fourteen or fifteen ripe bananas, or six or seven apples. He first takes half a bread-fruit, peels off the rind, and takes out the core with his nails; of this he puts as much into his mouth as it can hold, and while he chews it, takes the fish out of the leaves and breaks one of them into the salt water, placing the other, and what remains of the bread-fruit, upon the leaves that have been spread before him. When this is done, he takes up a small piece of the fish that has been broken into the salt water, with all the fingers of one hand, and sucks it into his mouth, so as to get with it as much of the salt water as possible. In the same manner he takes the rest by different morsels, and between each, at least very frequently, takes a small sup of the salt water, either out of the cocoanut shell, or the palm of his hand. In the mean time one of his attendants has prepared a young cocoanut, by peeling off the outer rind with his teeth, an operation which to a European appears very surprising; but it depends so much upon sleight, that many of us were able to do it before we left the island, and some that could
scarcely crack a filbert. The master when he chooses to drink takes the cocoanut thus prepared, and boring a hole through the shell with his fingers, or breaking it with a stone, he sucks out the liquor. When he has eaten his bread-fruit and fish, he begins with his plantains, one of which makes but a mouthful, though it be as big as a black-pudding; if instead of plantains he has apples, he never tastes them till they have been pared; to do this a shell is picked up from the ground, where they are always in plenty, and tossed to him by an attendant. He immediately begins to cut or scrape off the rind, but so awkwardly that great part of the fruit is wasted. If, instead of fish, he has flesh, he must have some succedaneum for a knife to divide it; and for this purpose a piece of bamboo is tossed to him, of which he makes the necessary implement by splitting it transversely with his nail. While all this has been doing, some of his attendants have been employed in beating bread-fruit with a stone pestle upon a block of wood; by being beaten in this manner, and sprinkled from time to time with water, it is reduced to the consistence of a soft paste, and is then put into a vessel somewhat like a butcher's tray, and either made up alone, or mixed with banana or mahie, according to the taste of the master, by pouring water upon it by degrees and squeezing it often through the hand. Under this operation it acquires the consistence of a thick custard, and a large cocoanut shell full of it being set before him, he sips it as we should do a jelly if we had no spoon to take it from the glass. The meal is then finished by again washing his hands and his mouth. After which the cocoanut shells are cleaned, and every thing that is left is replaced in the basket."
Captain Cook adds, "the quantity of food which these people eat at a meal is prodigious. I have seen one man devour two or three fishes as big as
a perch; three bread-fruits, each bigger than two fists; fourteen or fifteen plantains or bananas, each of them six or seven inches long, and four or five round; and near a quart of the pounded bread-fruit, which is as substantial as the thickest unbaked custard. This is so extraordinary that I scarcely expect to be believed; and I would not have related it upon my own single testimony, but Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, and most of the other gentlemen have had ocular demonstration of its truth, and know that I mention them on the occasion."
The women, who, on other occasions, always mix in the amusements of the men, who are particularly fond of their society, are wholly excluded from their meals; nor could the latter be prevailed on to partake of any thing when dining in company on board ship; they said it was not right; even brothers and sisters have each their separate baskets, and their provisions are separately prepared; but the English officers and men, when visiting the young ones at their own houses, frequently ate out of the same basket and drank out of the same cup, to the horror and dismay of the older ladies, who were always offended at this liberty; and if by chance any of the victuals were touched, or even the basket that contained them, they would throw them away.
In this fine climate houses are almost unnecessary. The minimum range of the thermometer is about 63°, the maximum 85°, giving an average of 74°. Their sheds or houses consist generally of a thatched roof raised on posts, the eaves reaching to within three or four feet of the ground; the floor is covered with soft hay, over which are laid mats, so that the whole is one cushion, on which they sit by day and sleep by night. They eat in the open air, under the shade of the nearest tree. In each district there is a house erected for general use, much larger than common, some of them exceeding two hundred feet in length, thirty broad, and twenty high.
The dwelling-houses all stand in the woody bel which surrounds the island, between the feet of th central mountains and the sea, each having a very small piece of ground cleared, just enough to keep the dropping of the trees from the thatch. An Otaheitan wood consists chiefly of groves of breadfruit and cocoanuts, without underwood, and intersected in all directions by the paths that lead from one house to another. "Nothing," says Cook, can be more grateful than this shade, in so warm a climate, nor any thing more beautiful than these walks."
With all the activity they are capable of displaying, and the sprightliness of their disposition, they are fond of indulging in ease and indolence. The trees that produce their food are mostly of spontaneous growth, the bread-fruit, cocoanut, bananas of thirteen sorts, besides plantains,-a fruit not unlike an apple, which, when ripe, is very pleasant; sweet potatoes, yams, and a species of arum; the pandanus, the jambu, and the sugar-cane; a variety of plants whose roots are esculent-these, with many others, are produced with so little culture, that, as Cook observes, they seem to be exempted from the first general curse that "man should eat his bread in the sweat of his brow." Then for clothing they have the bark of three different trees, the paper mulberry, the bread-fruit tree, and a tree which resembles the wild fig-tree of the West Indies; of these the mulberry only requires to be cultivated.
In preparing the cloth they display a very considerable degree of ingenuity. Red and yellow are the two colours most in use for dying their cloth; the red is stated to be exceedingly brilliant and beautiful, approaching nearest to our full scarlet; it is produced by the mixture of the juices of two vegetables, neither of which separately has the least tendency to that hue: one is the cordia sebestina, the
other a species of ficus; of the former the leaves, of the latter the fruits yield the juices. The yellow die is extracted from the bark of the root of the morinda citrifolia, by scraping and infusing it in
Their matting is exceedingly beautiful, particularly that which is made from the bark of the hibiscus tiliaceus, and of a species of pandanus. Others are made of rushes and grass with amazing facility and despatch. In the same manner their basket and wicker work are most ingeniously made; the former in patterns of a thousand different kinds. Their nets and fishing-lines are strong and neatly made, so are their fish-hooks of pearl-shell; and their clubs are admirable specimens of woodcarving.
A people so lively, sprightly, and good-humoured as the Otaheitans are, must necessarily have their amusements. They are fond of music, such as is derived from a rude flute and a drum; of dancing, wrestling, shooting with the bow, and throwing the lance. They exhibit frequent trials of skill and strength in wrestling; and Cook says it is scarcely possible for those who are acquainted with the athletic sports of very remote antiquity, not to remark a rude resemblance of them in a wrestling-match (which he describes) among the natives of a little island in the midst of the Pacific Ocean.
But these simple-minded people have their vices, and great ones too. Chastity is almost unknown among a certain description of women: there is a detestable society called Arreoy, composed, it would seem, of a particular class, who are supposed to be the chief warriors of the island. In this society the men and women live in common; and on the birth of a child it is immediately smothered, that its bringing up may not interfere with the brutal pleasures of either father or mother. Another savage practice is that of immolating human beings at the