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There were other matters too going on at the same time. Here you would see a stout warrior polishing his spear with a bit of old tappa, or adjusting the folds of the girdle about his waist; and there you might descry a young damsel decorating herself with flowers, as if having in her eye some maidenly conquest; while, as in all cases of hurry and confusion in every part of the world, a number of individuals kept hurrying to and fro, with amazing vigour and perseverance, doing nothing themselves, and hindering others..
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The Protestant Missions appear to have despaired of reclaiming these islands from heathenism. The usage they have in every case received from the natives has been such as to intimidate the boldest of their number. Ellis, in his 鈥楶olynesian Researches鈥, gives some interesting accounts of the abortive attempts made by the 鈥樷橳ahiti Mission鈥欌 to establish a branch Mission upon certain islands of the group. A short time before my visit to the Marquesas, a somewhat amusing incident took place in connection with these efforts, which I cannot avoid relating..
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Toby earnestly conjured me to continue the ascent, assuring me that a little more exertion would bring us to the summit, and that then in less than five minutes we should find ourselves at the brink of the stream, which must necessarily flow on the other side of the ridge.!
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It is this genial climate which causes the cocoanuts to flourish as they do. This invaluable fruit, brought to perfection by the rich soil of the Marquesas, and home aloft on a stately column more than a hundred feet from the ground, would seem at first almost inaccessible to the simple natives. Indeed the slender, smooth, and soaring shaft, without a single limb or protuberance of any kind to assist one in mounting it, presents an obstacle only to be overcome by the surprising agility and ingenuity of the islanders. It might be supposed that their indolence would lead them patiently to await the period when the ripened nuts, slowly parting from their stems, fall one by one to the ground. This certainly would be the case, were it not that the young fruit, encased in a soft green husk, with the incipient meat adhering in a jelly-like pellicle to its sides, and containing a bumper of the most delicious nectar, is what they chiefly prize. They have at least twenty different terms to express as many progressive stages in the growth of the nut. Many of them reject the fruit altogether except at a particular period of its growth, which, incredible as it may appear, they seemed to me to be able to ascertain within an hour or two. Others are still more capricious in their tastes; and after gathering together a heap of the nuts of all ages, and ingeniously tapping them, will first sip from one and then from another, as fastidiously as some delicate wine-bibber experimenting glass in hand among his dusty demi-johns of different vintages..
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* This passage, which is cited as an almost literal translation from the original, I found in a small volume entitled 鈥楥ircumnavigation of the Globe, in which volume are several extracts from 鈥楧alrymple鈥檚 Historical Collections鈥. The last-mentioned work I have never seen, but it is said to contain a very correct English version of great part of the learned Doctor Christoval Suaverde da Figueroa鈥檚 History of Mendanna鈥檚 Voyage, published at Madrid, A.D. 1613.
21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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21 August, 2019 - 13:08
The best!