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[1792.] But though later on the spot, assisted by the remarks of previous observers, Labillardière, of all, was the most assiduous and exact.
The naturalist of D'Entrecasteaux's expedition, he saw mankind with the eye of a philosopher.
At first they fled from the French: an old woman they chased, took a leap which, if credible, was terrific; she dashed over a precipice forty feet high, and was lost among the rocks!
Labillardière having landed, with several companions, proceeded towards a lake; hearing human voices, they followed the direction of the sound; the sudden cry of the natives induced them to return for their arms.
The intercourse was hostile and left traces of blood; and to this may be attributed the absence of the natives when Furneaux appeared on the coast.
[1777.] The descriptions of Cook are founded on his own observations, and are, on the whole, favorable to the natives.
The English, while wooding and watering, were surprised by the visit of eight men and a boy.
He inferred that they possessed some unusual method of climbing, or that their stature was gigantic.
Then proceeding towards the woods, they met the tribe—the men and boys in a semicircle, with the women and children behind.
Labillardière offered a piece of biscuit, and held out his hand, which a savage chief accepted, and smiling drew back one foot, and bowed with admirable grace.
The Otaheitian, Omai, to exhibit his skill, fired off a musket: at the report they fled, and so great was their fear, that they dropped the axe and knives they had received.
A dead calm retarded the departure of the vessels next day, and the parties sent ashore, were accompanied by Cook.