BOOK III - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
The first five books

Page 93 to catch Fish. These different and distinct People are yet exceeding Faithful one to another, in securing one another's Children from harm and prejudice, and preserving their several Habitations from force and incroachment; and though they are of different Stocks, yet they peaceably and affectionately converse one with another, without offering the least injury on either side.

And though this way of Living together be somewhat strange, yet through long custom, and constant use and practice, or because they find it necessary and conducing to their mutual advantage, it is still continu'd among them to this day.

These Nations inhabit not after the manner of the other Ichthiophages, but have divers sorts of Dwellings according as their several Circumstances fall out to be; some live in Caves lying most commonly to the North, by which they have the advantage of being refresh'd not only by the depth of the Covert, but by the cooling Breezes of the Northern Air. For those towards the South scorch like a Fiery Furnace, and by reason of the violent heat no Man can indure them. Others that cannot otherwise furnish themselves with Caves that lye Northward, gather the Ribs of Whales (which the Sea casts up in abundance) and then bending them, tye 'em together at both ends, and cover them with Sea-grass, and so rest under those, guarded from the parching heat of the Sun, as by the Cover of a shady Arch; which Art and Contrivance they are taught by their own Necessities.

A Third sort of Lodgings these Ichthiophages have are these; about those Places grow abundance of Fir-trees, which are water'd by the Sea, and bear very thick Leaves, and Fruit like unto Chesnuts: The Boughs and Leaves of these Trees, they interlace one within another, and so make for themselves a thick and close Shade, and live merry and jocund Lives, under this their new Canopy, both in Land and in Water at one and the same time, being hereby guarded from the Sun by the shade of the Trees, and the natural heat of the Place being mitigated by the continual Fluctuations of the Sea, and their Bodies refresht with the cooling Air of some Winds that blow at certain Seasons. But to proceed as to the Fourth sort of Dwellings.

In this place there has been from the beginning of Time, a vast heap of Moss, like a Mountain, cast up by the Sea, which is so firm by the constant heat of the Sun, that its become solid and cemented together with Sand. In this they dig Caves of a Man's height, that part over-head they leave for a Roof, but below they make long Passages or Galleries to go in or out, one over against another. Here they abide with ease, protected from the heat of the Sun; and about the Time the Tide comes in, out they start, and then for that time imploy themselves in Fishing; and at the ebbing of the Tide, after they have fed deliciously together upon the Fish they have caught, they fly again to their several Caves. They bury their Dead only at the time of Low-Water; and at that time they cast their Carcases upon the Shoar, and there let them lye uncover'd, to be carry'd away by the next Tide. And so after all, having spent all their Days in a strange and unusual Course and way of Living, they themselves at last in their Burials become Food for the Fishes.

But there's one Nation of the Ichthiophages whose Habitations are so strange, that inquisitive Men are very much pulled about them. For some of them dwell upon steep and dangerous hollows which time out of mind have been unaccessible to Mankind, as far as appears: For over their Heads are exceeding high Rocks, rugged and steep every way; and on both sides they are blockt up with unpassable Precipices; and before, the Sea is a Guard and Boundary to them, so that the best Footman cannot come at them. Neither have they any use or so much as knowledge of any Boats or Ships as we have. Hence (the thing being so intricate and doubtful) we may justly conclude that they are Aborigines, and were ever in this Place without any certain time of their First Generation; which some Naturalists doubt not to affirm of all other Works of Nature whatsoever. But for as much as the perfect Knowledge of things of this nature are far above our Comprehension we may easily conclude, that those know but little, who are the most inquisitive, and soaring so high as to know all; who may perhaps tickle Mens Ears with a probable Fancy, but never really attain to the Knowledge of the Truth.

Preface         Index
Credits         Tables