“Here [Mauritius] the citizen does the talking about the country himself; the stranger is not asked to help. You get all sorts of information. From one citizen you gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius. Another one tells you that this is an exaggeration;”
- Mark Twain from Following The Equator
“…the Feathers are whiter there than the rest, which livelily Represents the fine Neck of a Beautiful Woman. They walk with so much Stateliness and good Grace, that one cannot help admiring and loving them ; by which means their fine Mein [i.e., mien) often saves their Lives.”
- From The Voyage Of François Leguat of Bresse – To Rodriguez, Mauritius, Java, and The Cape of Good Hope Transcribed from the first English edition. Edited and annotated by Captain Pasfield Oliver – London: Printed for the Hakluyt Society – 4, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, W.C. – 1891
François Leguat was a French Huguenot who escaped France in 1689, fleeing religious persecution. In 1690, he, along with a number of other refugees, took an ill-fated voyage to Rodigues Island, near Mauritius, where they stayed for two years before returning back to Europe. Leguat was the first European to record descriptions of the solitaire and other previously unknown species.
For a brief history of Leguat: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Leguat
Leguat’s entire account of his voyage and what he encountered is translated and printed by the Hakluyt Society (a fascinating organization in its own right) in an 1891 volume entitled From The Voyage Of François Leguat of Bresse – To Rodriguez, Mauritius, Java, and The Cape of Good Hope.
The book has been scanned and is made available online by the University of Pittsburgh Library. Click here to read it in .pdf form.