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THE BREAD-FRUIT TREE.
known to voyagers, and through them, by name, to the public, a popular, rather than a scientific, description of it may be acceptable here. It grows to the size of an ash in England, and is not unlike that tree in form and the colour of its bark. The branches affect an upright position. The leaves are much like those of the fig, but more deeply indented, besides growing to a far greater size, some being a foot and a half long. Its appearance is very stately and luxuriant. The fruit is egg-shaped, and sometimes measures twenty-two inches in its shortest, and twenty-five in its largest, circumference. The rind is smooth, green, and marked with hexagonal specks. Under this skin lies the pulp which is eaten, and within that a fibrous core, containing the seeds. The tree is propagated by scions springing from the root of the old stock. These are either suffered to remain and grow up in a clump, or are transplanted singly. They require to be carefully attended to; the ground must be kept clear from weeds for some time, and also well fenced from the hogs, who devour the plants greedily wherever they can light upon such dainties. They are cultivated almost entirely on the low grounds, rarely thriving on the mountain sides, or very near the sea. The trees retain perennial verdure, and bear four crops of fruit in the year. The manifold bounty of Providence is remarkably manifested in giving this valuable product of a soil (not copious in variety of plants) to the people of these islands. It supplies them with food, raiment, and timber---each in its kind abundant and excellent. Their canoes are hollowed out of its trunk, or framed from its planks; the beams, rafters, and flooring of their houses are hewn out of its substance; and it also furnishes a good pitch, in the gum which exudes from holes bored into its stem. Of the bark a very useful description of cloth is prepared, and with this,
indeed, they would want no other. The fruit is a delicate and wholesome substitute for bread; being very nutritious, and of a sweet and pleasant flavour.
Various modes of dressing this food are in use among the natives. The skin being pared away, the pulp is most generally split and roasted, or rather baked, in earthen ovens, upon and under hot stones ; and it is often thus cooked with part of a hog, a fowl, or a fish. When taken out, it is soft and mealy, much resembling, in colour and taste, fine spunge biscuit. The natives frequently beat or squeeze it in their hands, and dip the pieces in salt water, when they eat it. This fruit, in fact, is the principal support of the people, who seldom make a meal without a large proportion of it. They call it miory. Though there are about thirty varieties of this tree, which come in contemporaneously, or in close succession, each bringing four crops in the year, yet there are more than three months out of the twelve when the fruit is either not to be obtained or very scarce. To compensate this inconvenience, the inhabitants preserve great quantities of that which is quite ripe, in pits, about four feet deep, and of the same width. These pits are carefully lined with grass, and then with the leaves of the tii-plant, which give an agreeable flavour to the preserved fruit. The latter, being cleared of the green coating, and split, is thrown together on a heap, and covered with leaves, for from twenty-four to fortyeight hours, as the state of the weather may be. is then opened, and the cores of all the split pieces being extracted, these are again laid together ; after which the whole undergoes a process of fermentation, and becomes soft. It is then stowed in the pit, covered with grass, and the grass pressed down with stones. The bread-fruit thus cured is taken out of these store-pits from time to time, as it may be wanted, in the state of a sour paste, when it is dressed
MAPE OR CHESNUT TREES.
according to every man's taste. Though the natives, from habit, are fond of it in this way, the food is difficult of digestion, and by no means wholesome.
Dec. 22. We walked up the valley, this afternoon, that we might reach, if practicable, the summit of the right-hand mountain and examine the rocks which crown it. Having tracked the stream for some distance, we began to climb the steep acclivity through a forest so tangled with underwood that it was often difficult to thread or force our way. Many of the trees grow to a prodigious bulk, especially the
mape, a species of large chesnut, the fruit of which the natives roast and reckon delicious. This tree writhes itself into most fantastic shapes, and attains an enormous breadth as well as height. The trunk is singularly indented, like a deeply and irregularly fluted pillar, leaving in some places scarcely more than the thickness of a plank in the middle. Some specimens were evidently of incomputable age, measuring from forty to fifty feet in girth. — Higher up the mountain we found traces of ancient but long-forsaken dwellings, and contiguous to them groves of bread-fruit trees that once had fed the generations gone by. A great variety of parasitical plants, especially ferns, clothed the stems and branches of the old trees to the very top. One fern displayed leaves from three and a half to fourteen feet in length. It was growing on the side of a deep ravine, and was of that kind which the natives, in times of great scarcity, are constrained to eat, but it is very indifferent food even to their taste. We observed another curious fern, the seeds of which were formed on the tips of its thin and slender leaves.
We passed several veins of reddish earth, and of clayey consistence, adjacent to which were strata of rocks, hard and blue. Many of the loose stones, in our track, were
angular, and seemed to have been so formed by crystallization, not by contact with each other. After ascending the side of the mountain to a considerable height with great difficulty and fatigue, finding ourselves apparently little nearer the object of our aim, with the danger of being benighted in the wilderness if we proceeded much further, we abandoned our enterprise and returned. While contemplating the exuberance of vegetation here, and recollecting that thus it must have been poured with unceasing prodigality from the lap of the earth and returned thither, season by season, without having answered any proportionate end, as provision for brute or human life-few vestiges of either being any where discernible—we were ready to enquire, “Wherefore all this waste?” But He, without whose will not a sparrow falls to the ground, can have made nothing in vain. And here we may rationally believe that the perpetual renewal and decomposition of vegetable matter, in all its curious and exquisite forms of blade and stalk, of leaf, flower, seed, from the moss on the crag to the cocoa-nut and bread-fruit tree—has been preparing, through ages past, a soil in the desert, of which the produce, through ages to come, shall nourish a numerous and happy population, whose industry and wants, as they multiply on the earth, shall lead them alike to cultivate the deep declivities of the mountains, and clear the impervious fastnesses of the forests for food and for room to dwell in..
Dec. 23. (Lord's day.) In the afternoon Mr. Ellis preached a sermon from the text, Prov. xiv. 32. “ The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death :"--and he took occasion from these words to impress a powerful sense of the peril of living in sin, upon the hearts of his hearers, in consequence of the recent and awful end of a young man, who, though he
frequented public worship, was a scoffer at Christianity, and had been suddenly “ driven away,” it was to be feared, « in his wickedness."
The profession of religion is universal here, and the people's ideas of its importance are so exalted that, though many are strangers to its power, very few treat it otherwise than with reverence. They seem horror-struck at the fearful end of the reprobate young man alluded to, and it is hoped that what they deem a judgment upon him may be a profitable warning to themselves.
Dec. 24. We scaled the mountain Aridi, on the south of Mr. Ellis's house. The sides are very steep, and it was a laborious effort to gain the top, which is computed to be three thousand feet above the lagoon. Red and blue clay, and stone of the same colours, compose this mountain. Among other plants we observed many tufts of a short kind of grass, which the natives call More tohe noanoa on account of its strong aromatic scent, which is most rank in the tohe, or part above ground: in the blade there is nothing remarkable. From the crest of this eminence the panorama of land and sea is truly sublime; and the mind is expanded and elevated as the eye expatiates over its various and richly-contrasted features. There are but two points of land so high as to interrupt the sight from losing itself within a ring of horizon, immeasurably spread. At the head of the bay, and the foot of the hill, lies the Missionary settlement, with its multitude of small buildings, in every stage of erection. Northward, a gracefully curved tongue of land, green and flourishing, with tropical fruittrees, runs several miles into the sea.
North-east appear the sharp ridges which, rising abruptly, tier above tier, accumulate into the great mountain already mentioned as the loftiest in the island. This may be five thousand feet