A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 822 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14.
from every people as soon as civilization has made any progress among them.  But though we are too much polished to be cannibals, we do not find it unnaturally and savagely cruel to take the field, and to cut one another’s throats by thousands, without a single motive, besides the ambition of a prince, or the caprice of his mistress!  Is it not from prejudice that we are disgusted with the idea of eating a dead man, when we feel no remorse in depriving him of life?  If the practice of eating human flesh makes men unfeeling and brutal, we have instances that civilized people, who would, perhaps, like some of our sailors, have turned sick at the thought of eating human flesh, have committed barbarities, without example, amongst cannibals.  A New Zealander, who kills and eats his enemy, is a very different being from an European, who, for his amusement, tears an infant from the mother’s breast, in cool blood, and throws it on the earth, to feed his hounds,—­an atrocious crime, which Bishop Las Casas says, he saw committed in America by Spanish soldiers.  The New Zealanders never eat their adversaries unless they are killed in battle; they never kill their relations for the purpose of eating them; they do not even eat them if they die of a natural death, and they take no prisoners with a view to fatten them for their repast; though these circumstances have been related, with more or less truth, of the American Indians.  It is therefore not improbable, that in process of time, they will entirely lay aside this custom; and the introduction of new domestic animals into their country might hasten that period, since greater affluence would tend to make them more sociable.  Their religion does not seem likely to be an obstacle, because from what we could judge, they are not remarkably superstitious, and it is only among very bigotted nations that the custom of offering human flesh to the gods, has prevailed after civilization.”—­These are evidently hasty speculations, and by no means conclusive, but they point with tolerable clearness to some principle of human nature adequate, independent of necessity, to account for the practice, and shew in what manner the investigation into its nature, causes, and remedy, ought to be carried on.—­E.
[10] “The officers and passengers entered upon this second cruise under several difficulties, which did not exist before.  They had now no livestock to be compared to that which they took from the Cape of Good Hope; and the little store of provisions, which had supplied their table with variety in preference to that of the common sailor, was now so far consumed, that they were nearly upon a level, especially as the seamen were inured to that way of life, by constant habit, almost from their infancy; and the others had never experienced it before.  The hope of meeting with new lands was vanished, the topics of common conversation were exhausted, the cruise to the south could not present any thing new, but appeared
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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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