The Library of History

Page 81

Page 81 some Parts of Africa. But the Eastern Parts being richer and more fruitful breed larger and more noble Creatures.

Those Creatures that are bred in other Countries have Natures agreeable to the Goodness of the Soyl. So as to the Trees, the Palm Trees of Africa bear but small and indigested Fruit: But in Coelo-Syria the Dates which they call Cariots, excel all others for pleasant Juice, Sweetness and Largeness. Yet in Arabia and in the Province of Babylon grow far larger than those, in Quantity fix Fingers round, some of a yellow, some scarlet, and others of a purple Dye, delightful both to the Eye and grateful to the Taste. The Palm Trees are very tall, streight and smooth to the Top. The Branches grow near to the Head, but not all in the like Manner. For some have their Branches growing round them on every side here and there and between them, the Fruit bursting out in Clusters through the Bark. Others represent a burning Lamp, their spiring Branches surrounding only one Part near the Top. Others whose Boughs clasp on every Part round the Tree, and guarded on both sides with a double row of tender Sprouts, represent something painted or inscrib'd.

That Part of Arabia lying to the South is call'd Arabia the Happy; the Arabians that inhabit the inner Parts, live Pastoral Lives, and in Tents. They have great Herds of Cattle, and are continually in vast and large Pastures. That Region which lyes between them and Arabia the Happy, is Desert, without Water, as we have before observ'd. The Places towards the West are sandy Deserts, so that all that travel there direct their Course (as Mariners at Sea) by the BearStar. The other Part of Arabia stretching towards Syria is full of Husbandmen and divers sorts of Merchants. These by their Traffic and Merchandize by importing and exporting plentifully furnish all other Parts round about, with what things they want. That Part bordering upon the Ocean lyes about Arabia the Happy, and there (by many Rivers falling down together) are made many large Ponds and Lakes up and down in the Country: And because large Tracts of Ground are water'd by the Rivers and the Rains that fall in the Summer time, they have a double Harvest. This Place breeds Troops of Elephants and other Beasts of vast Proportion, and likewise of double Shapes and strange Kinds; and also abundance of tame Cattle, especially Oxen and Sheep, which have very great and thick Tales. There are there bred in like manner a sort of Camels far beyond all others (both bare and rough) and the Bulch upon their Backs twice as big as any others, and therefore they are call'd Dityles. Some of these bring in great Profit both by their Milk and their Flesh. Others, accustom'd to Burthens, will carry twenty Bushels of Corn upon their Backs; which being of smaller Bodies, but swifter than the rest, are us'd to running, and dispatch a vast Tract of Ground, especially in the dry and desert Country.

These Beasts are useful in times of War; for in Battles they carry two Archers sitting back to back, the one to oppose them that attack them in the Front, and the other to repulse such as fall upon them in the Rear. Although this Discourse of Arabia and the Things there bred and produc'd may perhaps seem to be too tedious, yet the observing Reader may find in it many things worthy to be known.

And now we purpose to say something briefly of a certain Island lying in the Southern Ocean, and of the Wonders there, giving first an exact Account by what Means it came to be discover'd.

There was one Iambulus, from his Youth studious and learn'd. After the Death of his Father (who was a Merchant) he apply'd himself likewise to that Calling; but as he travell'd through Arabia to that Part of the Country where Spices most abounded, he and all his Company fell into the Hands of Thieves.

And first he was made a Shepherd, together with another of his Fellow Captives. Afterwards he was again taken by Ethiopian Skulkers, and carry'd away into the Maritime Parts of Ethiopia. And they were thus stolen and carried away, that (being Strangers) by them they might purge and expiate the Land. For the Ethiopian Inhabitants there had a Custom anciently us'd among them, and appointed by the Oracles of the Gods Twenty Generations before, that is, Six Hundred Years (every Generation comprehending Thirty Years) that the Land should be purg'd by Two Men that were Strangers. They prepar'd therefore

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books