The Library of History

Page 82

Page 82 a little Ship, yet sufficient to endure the Storms at Sea, and easily to be govern'd by Two Men: Upon this Ship they put the Men on Board, with Six Months Provision, that (according to the direction of the Oracle) they might sail away in a direct Course towards the South, in order to arrive at a Fortunate Island, where they might find People that were gentle and kind, with whom they might live happy lives. And that if they arriv'd safe at the Island (they told them) their own Nation, from whence they came, should enjoy Peace and Prosperity for Six Hundred Years to come.

But if they were affrighted with the length of the Voyage, and should return again, they told them, that like impious Wretches, and destructive to the Nation, they should undergo most severe Punishments. Then they say the Ethiopians kept a Festival upon the Sea-shoar, and after splendid Sacrifices, crown'd the Purgators with Garlands, and sent them away, and so perfected the Purgation of the Nation. These Two Men (they say) being tossed for Four Months together, having pass'd over a vast Ocean (after many Storms and hardships at Sea) at last arriv'd at the Island design'd in the Fourth Month.

The Island is of a round Form, Five Thousand Furlongs in Compass. When the Men drew near to Shoar, some of the Inhabitants came to meet them, and brought the Ship into Harbour: Whereupon many more flockt in, and throng'd about the Strangers, wondring how ever they got thither; however they courteously receiv'd them, and entertain'd them with what their Country could afford.

The Inhabitants are much unlike to us in these Parts of the World, both as to their Bodies, and their way of living; but among themselves, they are for Form and Shape like one to another, and in stature above Four Cubits high. They can bend and turn their Bones somewhat like unto Nerves; and as the Nervous Parts after motion ended, return to their former state and position, so do their Bones. Their Bodies are very tender, but their Nerves far stronger than ours, for whatever they grasp in their Hands, none are able to wrest out of their Fingers. They have not the least Hair in any part of their Bodies, but upon their Heads, Eye-brows, Eye-lids and Chins; all other Parts are so smooth, that not the least Down appears any where. They are very comely and well shap'd, but the Holes of their Ears are much wider than ours, and have something like little Tongues growing out of them. Their Tongues have something in them singular and remarkable, the Effect both of Nature and Art; for they have partly a double Tongue, naturally a little divided, but cut further inwards by Art, so that it seems two, as far as to the very Root, and therefore there's great variety of Speech among them, and they not only imitate Mans Voice in articulate Speaking, but the various Chatterings of Birds, and even all sorts of Notes as they please; and that which is more wonderful than all, is, that they can speak perfectly to two Men at once, both in answering to what is said, and aptly carrying on a continu'd Discourse relating to the subject Matter in hand; so that with one part of their Tongue they speak to one, and with the other part to the other.

This Island is under a most excellent and moderate Climate (lying under the Aequator) neither scorcht with Heat, nor pincht with Cold; there they have ripe Fruit all the Year long, as the Poet says,

〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 ,
〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 .
Apples and Pears always both ripe and green,
With Grapes and Figs may ever there be seen.

The Days and Nights are there always of an equal length; neither is there any Shadow at Noon-day, because the Sun is directly in the Zenith over head. They live divided into Tribes, according to their Kindred, and into distinct Societies; yet so as that there are not above Four Hundred admitted into any one Tribe or Society. They live in Meadows where they are plentifully supply'd with all things necessary for Food by what the Earth produces. For the Fertility of the Soyl, and the Temperature of the Air is such, that Corn (more than enough) grows there of it self. Plenty of Calamus likewise is produc'd there, whose Fruit is like to white Vetches: When they have gather'd it, they steep in it hot

Bibliotheca Historica

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