These unfortunate people are afflicted with the terrible scourge of leprosy, which is so prevalent that at least a tenth part of the population are infested with the disease. The cause of this dreadful malady must be sought in the insalubrity of the climate, the miasma from the marshes, which are overflowed with sea-water every flood tide, the neighbourhood of the burial-places, which are badly kept, and perhaps also
The women are naturally ugly, and the hard work they have to do, with their general mode of life, render their appearance yet more displeasing. The men are rather less ill-favoured, though they are stunted and lean,
and covered with ulcers and leprosy scars. Arrows and bows are their only weapons, and, according to themselves, the former, with their very fine bone tips, soldered on with extremely tenacious gum, inflict mortal wounds. They therefore value them greatly, and the visitors had great trouble to obtain any.
"We were thus enabled," says D'Urville, "to gaze at our leisure upon the wonderful spectacle spread out before our eyes. Severe and grand beyond expression it not only excited the imagination but filled the heart with involuntary terror, nowhere else is man's powerlessness more forcibly brought before him.... A new world displays itself to him, but it is a motionless, gloomy, and silent world, where everything threatens the annihilation of human faculties. Should he have the misfortune to be left here alone, no help, no consolation, no spark of hope, would soothe his last moments. One is involuntarily...