BOOK III - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
The first five books

Page 95 in upon the Land, and when it returns into the Channel they shut again. So that through these Portals with the Efflux of the Sea the Fish slip every day, and when it ebbs they are left behind, because they cannot pass with the Water through those Canes thus knit and wrought together: And therefore near to the Sea-side sometimes may be seen Heaps of Fish panting for want of Water, which those that have the Care and Oversight of this Business, gather and carry away. Hence they have both Plenty of Food, and raise a large Revenue beside. Some of the Inhabitants, when the Shoar is dry and the Country lies flat, draw broad Sluces from the Sea many Furlongs to their Cottages, at the ends of which they place Wears made of Twigs, which open when the Tide comes in, and shut again when the Sea goes out; And then the Water flowing through the narrow Mouths of the Portals, the Fish remain behind in the Sluces, and there they take out every time as many as they have occasion to use.

Having gone through all those People bordering upon the Sea-coasts as far as from the Province of Babylon to the Red-Sea, we shall now proceed to give an Account of the other Nations.

In Ethiopia above Egypt near to the River Asa, inhabit a People call'd Rizophages, who get up the Roots of the Canes that grow in the Marishes, and first wash them very clean: Then they bruise and pound 'em with Stones till they are soft and pliant; afterwards they lay a handful of 'em in the Sun till they are broil'd, and this is the Food they live upon all their days. But tho' they live in Plenty and are at constant Peace one with another, yet they are miserably infested and often fallen upon by the Lyons that abound in those Parts: For the Air being scorching hot, they come out of the Deserts into the Rizophages Country, both for shelter from the Heat, and to hunt the lesser Beasts for Prey; so that when the Ethiopians come out of the Marishes they are torn in Pieces by these Creatures; for being unarm'd they are unable to withstand the Strength of the Lyons: And the whole Nation would certainly be utterly destroy'd if Providence had not provided a Remedy in this Case; for about the beginning of the Dog-days, when there's not the least Wind, there comes in such a Multitude of Gnats (larger than those that are commonly seen) that the Inhabitants are forc'd to fly into the Marishes and so avoid them: And the Lyons partly tormented by their biting and stinging of 'em, and partly terrify'd with their humming and buzzing run far away out of the Country.

Next to these are those Nations call'd Hylophages and Spenmatophages. The last of these gather in great Plenty Fruits which fall from the Trees in the Summer time, and so feed on them without taking any further Pains. The rest of the Year they feed upon a certain sweet Herb which grow in the shady Valleys: Which being a solid Plant, and having a Stalk like to a Turnip, it sufficiently supplies the want of other necessary Food.

But the Hylophages, together with their Wives and Children, go into the Fields and climb the Trees, and feed upon the Buds and tender Branches; and by constant Usage and Practice are so nimble in getting up to the Top of the highest Branch that it seems almost incredible. They skip from Tree to Tree like so many Birds, and mount up upon the slenderest Branches without the least Hazard. For being very slender and light body'd People, if their Feet fail, they catch hold with their Hands; nay, if they fall down from the very Top they are so light they get no harm. They easily chew every juicy Twig of the Tree, and as easily concoct them. They always go naked, and make use of their Wives promiscuously, and therefore all their Children they look upon to be common amongst them. They sometimes quarrel one with another for Places of Habitation; Their Arms are Clubs, with which they both defend themselves and pound in Pieces their conquer'd Enemy. Many of them are often famish'd to Death when they grow blind, being depriv'd of so necessary a Member for the procuring of Sustenance.

The next adjoyning Country is inhabited by the EthiopianHylogones call'd Hunters, who are indeed but few, but live after a peculiar and strange manner, answerable to their Name; for the Land being infested with multitudes of wild Beasts, is very terrible to live in, and very little running Water is to be found; therefore for fear of the Beasts the Inhabitants sleep all Night in Trees; and in the Morning they go to the Pools of Water with their Arms, where they hide themselves among the Boughs, and spy in the mean time out of the Trees: Then

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