Imágenes de páginas

I have never met with either before or since-the true breadfruit. A good deal of it has been planted about here and in the surrounding villages, and almost every day we had opportunities of purchasing some, as all the boats going to Amboyna were unloaded just opposite my door to be dragged across the isthmus. Though it grows in several other parts of the Archipelago, it is nowhere abundant, and the season for it only lasts a short time. It is baked entire in the hot embers, and the inside scooped out with a spoon. I compared it to Yorkshire pudding; Charles Allen said it was like mashed potatoes and milk. It is generally about the size of a melon, a little fibrous toward the centre, but everywhere else quite smooth and puddingy, something in consistence between yeast-dumplings and batter-pudding. We sometimes made curry or stew of it or fried it in slices; but it is no way so good as simply baked. It may be eaten sweet or savory. With meat and gravy, it is a vegetable superior to any I know, either in temperate or tropical countries. With sugar, milk, butter, or treacle, it is a delicious pudding, having a very slight and delicate but characteristic flavor, which, like that of good bread and potatoes, one never gets tired of. The reason why it is comparatively scarce is, that it is a fruit of which the seeds are entirely aborted by cultivation, and the tree can therefore only be propagated by cuttings. The seed-bearing variety is common all over the tropics, and though the seeds are very good eating, resembling chestnuts, the fruit is quite worthless as a vegetable. Now that steam and Ward's cases render the transport of young plants so easy, it is much to be wished that the best varieties of this unequalled vegetable should be introduced into our West India Islands, and largely propagated there. As the fruit will keep some time after being gathered, we might then be able to obtain this tropical luxury in Covent Garden Market.

Although the few months I at various times spent in Amboyna were not altogether very profitable to me in the way of collections, yet it will always remain as a bright spot in the review of my Eastern travels, since it was there that I first made the acquaintance of those glorious birds and insects, which render the Moluccas classic ground in the eyes of the



naturalist, and characterize its fauna as one of the most remarkable and beautiful upon the globe. On the 20th of February I finally quitted Amboyna for Ceram and Waigiou, leaving Charles Allen to go by a Government boat to Wahai, on the north coast of Ceram, and thence to the unexplored island of Mysol.



On the morning of the 8th of January, 1858, I arrived at Ternate, the fourth of a row of fine conical volcanic islands which skirt the west coast of the large and almost unknown island of Gilolo. The largest and most perfectly conical mountain is Tidore, which is over four thousand feet high-Ternate being very nearly the same height, but with a more rounded and irregular summit. The town of Ternate is concealed from view till we enter between the two islands, when it is discovered stretching along the shore at the very base of the mountain. Its situation is fine, and there are grand views on every side. Close opposite is the rugged promontory and beautiful volcanic cone of Tidore; to the east is the long mountainous coast of Gilolo, terminated toward the north by a group of three lofty volcanic peaks, while immediately behind the town rises the huge mountain, sloping easily at first, and covered with thick groves of fruit-trees, but soon becoming steeper, and furrowed with deep gullies. Almost to the summit, whence issue perpetually faint wreaths of smoke, it is clothed with vegetation, and looks calm and beautiful, although beneath are hidden fires which occasionally burst forth in lava-streams, but more frequently make their existence known by the earthquakes which have many times devastated the town.

I brought letters of introduction to Mr. Duivenboden, a native of Ternate, of an ancient Dutch family, but who was educated in England, and speaks our language perfectly. He was a very rich man, owned half the town, possessed many ships, and above a hundred slaves. He was, moreover, well educated, and fond of literature and science-a phenomenon in these regions. He was generally known as the king of Ternate, from his large property and great influence with the native Rajahs and their subjects. Through his assistance I obtained a house, rather ruinous, but well adapted to my purpose, being



close to the town, yet with a free outlet to the country and the mountain. A few needful repairs were soon made, some bamboo furniture and other necessaries obtained, and, after a visit to the Resident and police magistrate, I found myself an inhabitant of the earthquake-tortured island of Ternate, and able to look about me and lay down the plan of my campaign for the ensuing year. I retained this house for three years, as I found it very convenient to have a place to return to after my voyages to the various islands of the Moluccas and New

[blocks in formation]

Guinea, where I could pack my collections, recruit my health, and make preparations for future journeys. To avoid repetitions, I will in this chapter combine what notes I have about Ternate.

A description of my house (the plan of which is here shown) will enable the reader to understand a very common mode of building in these islands. There is of course only one floor. The walls are of stone up to three feet high; on this are strong squared posts supporting the roof, everywhere except in the

veranda filled in with the leaf-stems of the sago palm, fitted neatly in wooden framing. The floor is of stucco, and the ceilings are like the walls. The house is forty feet square, consists of four rooms, a hall, and two verandas, and is surrounded by a wilderness of fruit-trees. A deep well supplied me with pure cold water-a great luxury in this climate. Five minutes' walk down the road brought me to the market and the beach, while in the opposite direction there were no more European houses between me and the mountain. In this house I spent many happy days. Returning to it after a three or four months' absence in some uncivilized region, I enjoyed the unwonted luxuries of milk and fresh bread, and regular supplies of fish and eggs, meat and vegetables, which were often sorely needed to restore my health and energy. I had ample space and convenience for unpacking, sorting, and arranging my treasures, and I had delightful walks in the suburbs of the town, or up the lower slopes of the mountain, when I desired a little exercise, or had time for collecting.

The lower part of the mountain behind the town of Ternate is almost entirely covered with a forest of fruit-trees, and during the season hundreds of men and women, boys and girls, go up every day to bring down the ripe fruit. Durions and mangoes, two of the very finest tropical fruits, are in greater abundance at Ternate than I have ever seen them, and some of the latter are of a quality not inferior to any in the world. Lansats and mangosteens are also abundant, but these do not ripen till a little later. Above the fruit-trees there is a belt of clearings and cultivated grounds, which creep up the mountain to a height of between two and three thousand feet, above which is virgin forest reaching nearly to the summit, which on the side next the town is covered with a high reedy grass. On the further side it is more elevated, of a bare and desolate aspect, with a slight depression marking the position of the crater. From this part descends a black scoriaceous tract, very rugged, and covered with a scanty vegetation of scattered bushes as far down as the sea. This is the lava of the great eruption near a century ago, and is called by the natives "batu-angas" (burnt rock).

Just below my house is the fort, built by the Portuguese, below which is an open space to the beach, and beyond this

« AnteriorContinuar »