The Library of History

Page 183

Page 183 by a Colony of Carthaginians: The Island is grac'd with famous Ports, and high Walls, and a great number of stately Houses. Barbarians of several Nations inhabit there, but most are Carthaginians, a Colony of whom settled there about a Hundred and Sixty Years after the building of Carthage.

There are other Islands over against Spain, which the Grecians call Gymnesiae, because in Summer-time the Inhabitants go naked. By the Natives and the Romans they are call'd Baleares, from casting of huge massy Stones out of Slings, wherein the Inhabitants excel all other People.

The Greater of these Islands is larger than all the rest of the Islands, except these Seven, Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, Crete, Eubaea, Corsica, and Lesbos. It's one Days Sail distant from Spain.

The Lesser lies more Eastward, and breeds and feeds all sorts of brave and large Cattel, especially Mules, which for the largeness of their Bodies, and the exceeding noise they make in their Braying, are remarkable above all others. Both these Islands are of a good and fertile Soyl, and are Peopled with above Thirty Thousand Inhabitants.

As to the Fruits of the Earth; they are altogether destitute of Wine; the want therefore of it makes 'em the more eager after it. Neither have they any Oyl amongst them; to supply which, they press out the Oyly part of Mastick, and mix it and Swines-Grease together, and with this Composition anoint their Bodies.

They love Women exceedingly, whom they value at such a Rate, that when the Pyrats bring any Women they have taken, thither, they'l give as a Ransom Three or Four Men for one Woman. They live in Caves hew'd in the Rocks, and spend all their Days in these Holes, dug up and down in the steepest part of the Rocky Mountains, by which means they provide for themselves both shelter and security.

They make no use either of Silver or Gold Coyn, but prohibit the importation of it into the Island; for which they give this Reason: For that Hercules in former times made War upon Geryon the Son of Chrysaores, for no other reason but because he was rich in Silver and Gold; and therefore that they may live more securely, and quietly injoy what they have, they have made it a standing Law to have nothing to do with that Wealth which consists in those Metals.

According therefore to this Decree, when once heretofore in a War they assisted the Carthaginians, they brought nothing of their Pay into their own Country, but laid it all out in Wine and Women.

They have a filthy Custom likewise amongst 'em concerning their Marriages; for in their Marriage Feasts, all their Friends and Houshold Servants, as they are in Seniority of Age, one after another, carnally know the Bride, till at length it come to the Bridegrooms turn, who has the honour to be last.

They have another strange Custom likewise about the burying of their Dead; they cut the Carcass in Pieces with Wooden Knives or Axes, and so put up all the Parts into an Urn, and then raise up a great heap of Stones over it.

Their Arms are Three Slings, one they wind about their Heads, another they tye about their Loyns, and the Third they carry in their Hands. In time of War, they throw much greater Stones than any other People, and with that Violence, as if a thing were shot out of an Engine; and therefore in the time of Assaults made upon Towns, they grievously gall those that stand upon the Bulwarks, and in Field-Fights break in pieces their Enemies Shields, Helmets, and all other defensive Armour whatsoever; and are such exact Marksmen, that (for the most part) they never miss what they aim at: They attain to this Skill by contiual Exercise from their very Childhood, for while they are very Young, they are forc'd under the tutorage of their Mothers, to cast Stones out of Slings. For they fasten a Piece of Bread for a Mark to a Pole, and till the Child hit the Bread, he must fast, and then at length the Mother gives him the Bread to eat.