Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

and as these are often at variance, they quarrel among themselves.

NUTMEG.

The land has no other export than the nutmeg. This tree is in such abundance that the land is full of it, without being planted by any one, for the earth yields without culture. The forests which produce it belong to no one by inheritance, but to the people in COIn InC11.

For about a century the Portuguese monopolized the commerce of these islands, and throughout this period maintained a friendly intercourse with the natives. In 1609 the Dutch, however, resolved to annex them to their Eastern possessions, and invaded Great Banda with a force of 7oo soldiers, but falling into ambuscade, were compelled to retreat with considerable loss. They then began a war of extermination, which was prolonged for eighteen years, and brought to a successful issue only through the efforts of a large expedition from Java, commanded by the Governor-General in person. In this prolonged struggle, the natives, who fought with great courage and resolution, lost 3,000 killed and 1,000 prisoners. The survivors fled to the neighboring islands, where they were merged in the general mass, so that scarcely a vestige of their language or customs is now known to exist.

LOUTHOIR.

Of the little island group of Louthoir, it is said that beneath the shade of the lofty kanary trees, deriving their nourishment from the thin but warm volcanic soil, and fed by the constant moisture, the handsome glossy-leaved nutmeg trees, twenty to thirty feet high, line the roads and bloom in the gardens and spread over all the open places. They are very fair to look upon, with their thick-spreading branches, the tallest sprays of which are fifty feet high. The flowers are small and yellowish. The fruit, before it is fully ripe, resembles a peach that has not yet been tinted with red; but this is only the epicarp, or outer rind, which is of a tough fleshy consistence, and on maturing splits open into two equal parts, revealing a spherical, polished, dark-brown nut, enveloped in crimson mace. In this stage it may be fairly described as the most beautiful fruit in the cornucopia of Pomona.

It is now picked by means of a small basket fastened to the end a long bamboo. The epicarp being removed, the mace is carefully taken off and dried in the sun, which changes its bright crimson to an obscure yellow. It is then ready to be packed in cakes and shipped to market. Next the nuts are spread on a shallow tray of open basket-work, and exposed for a period of three months to the action of a slow fire. By the end of that time the actual genuine nutmeg has so shrunken that it rattles in its dark-brown shell. The shell is broken, and the nutmegs after being sorted, are packed in large casks of teak-wood, which are duly branded with the year in which the fruit was gathered and the name of the plantation where it was grown.

AMBOYNA.
Mountains, hills, rocks, forests, noisy burns and

rippling brooks, with well wooded valleys running in among the highlands and low fertile country stretch

ing along the shore. Such is the general character of Amboyna. It is not one of the fairest or richest islands of the Archipelago; much of its surface is bare and barren, and it presents but little of that exuberant vegetation which we are accustomed to associate with the tropics. In fact, it owes its celebrity and its wealth to one special vegetable product—the clove-tree—(caryophyllus Aromaticus). Such being the case, and groves of clove-trees, with their bright green verdure, being the pleasantest objects in the island, before we go further it will be well for us to devote some attention to so remarkable a source of wealth.

CLOVE.

We first hear of cloves in Europe about A. D. 175–180, in the reign of the Emperor Aurelian, when they are mentioned as imported into Alexandria from India—the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea forming then as now the great highway along which flowed the traffic of the East. They were carried by the Javanese and Malays from the Molluccas to the peninsula of Mallacca; thence the Telingas, or Klings, transported them to Calicut, the once famous capital of Malibar. From Calicut they passed to the western shores of India, and crossing the Arabian Sea, found their way up the Red Sea to the Egyptian port.

The native name for this fruit is chenki, which may be a corruption of the Chinese theng-ki, or “sweet smelling nails.” The resemblance to a nail has also suggested the Dutch name, Arind-nagel, or “hub-nail" (the trees are mage/en-boomen, or “nailtrees”), and the Spanish clavos (Latin clavus, a nail), whence comes our English “clove.”

The clove tree belongs to the order of Myrtles, which includes the guava, pomegranate and the roseapple. Its topmost branches are usually forty or fifty feet from the ground, and the full-grown trunk measures eight to ten inches in diameter. It was originally confined, says Bickmore, to the five islands off the west coast of Gilolo, which then comprised the whole group known as the Molluccas—a name that has since been extended to Bouru, Amboyna and the other islands off the south coast of Ceram, where the clove has been introduced and cultivated within a comparatively late period. On these five islands it begins to bear in its seventh or eighth year, and sometimes continues to yield until it has reached an age of nearlg one hundred and fifty years; the trees, therefore, are of very different sizes. Here at Amboyna it is not expected to bear fruit before its twelfth or fifteenth year, and to cease yielding when it is seventy-five years old.

A quaint description of this celebrated tree is given by Pigafetta, who accompanied Magellan in his voyage around the world: It attains a pretty considerable height, and its trunk is about as large as a man's body, varying more or less according to its age. Its branches extend very wide about the middle of the trunk, but at the summit terminate in a pyramid. Its leaf resembles that of the laurel, and the bark is of an olive color. The cloves grow at the end of small branches, in clusters of from ten to twenty, and the tree, according to the season, sends forth more on one side than the other. The cloves at first are white, as they ripen they become more reddish, and blacken as they dry. * -*

To this we may add that the buds when young

[merged small][graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »