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The Atoll of Funafuti, Ellice group : its zoology, botany, ethnology and general structure based on collections made by Charles Hedley of the Australian Museum, Sydney, N.S.W.



The visit of a ship, though an agreeable break in the dull monotony of atoll life, is yet almost as much dreaded as welcomed. For such contact with the outside world almost invariably induces a severe cold from which the whole population suffers. Upon the arrival of our party in H.M.S. "Penguin," it was not observed that any of the visitors had a cold, yet in a few days all the islanders were coughing and sneezing from a severe attack of cold which they said the ship brought.

Mr. Whitmee, "once visited several islands of the Ellice Group about a fortnight after a trading vessel from Sydney, which had influenza on board. This vessel had taken some of the natives from one island to another as passengers, and at three of the islands the entire population was suffering from the epidemic. Had this been a more severe disease the people would have been utterly helpless."

From some manuscript notes made during his voyage round the Ellice Archipelago and kindly placed at my disposal by the Rev. W. W. Gill, LL.D., I learn that he saw on Nanomana, "a woman carrying a pendulous excrescence weighing doubtless 75 lbs. ( = elephantiasis pudendi—a rare thing)," also that it was the custom for the women in attendance at a birth to taste the uterine haemorrhage which occurs after parturition. From the same source. I extract the following:—"At Vaitupu, circumcision is not practiced; but instead of it the prepuce of little boys is drawn back over* the glans and left thus. As at Niue it is clear (indeed they assert the fact) that their ancestors were in the habit of practising circumcision." Also at Vaitupu, "It was a common custom before the introduction of Christianity, to cut off a joint of a finger on the death of a child, or any other member of the

* Whitmee—Art. Polynesia, Ency. Britt. (9), 1885, xix., p. 422, foot note.

page 69family specially beloved. On shaking hands I noticed almost every third woman had lost a finger or more of the right hand, and some gave the left rather than expose the mutilated hand."*

Under the heading of Vegetation will be found what notes I could collect of plants used medicinally by the natives. And in the Ethnological Section will follow an account of the lancets used for blood letting. To the kindness of my friend, Surgeon F. W. Collingwood, R.N., of H.M.S. "Penguin," I am indebted for the following interesting notes.

* Whitmee—A Missionary Cruise in the South Pacific, 1871, p. 16. A finger joint was sacrificed in Tonga for the recovery of sick relations.—Mariner-—Tonga, ii., 1817, p. 222.