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.
time, to flatter the vanity of their princes, by perpetuating their names by lasting monuments.  The remains of plantations found on the summits of the hub, give strength and support to this conjecture.  It is not in our power to determine by what various accidents a nation so flourishing, could be reduced in number, and degraded to its present indigence.  But we are well convinced that many causes may produce this effect, and that the devastation which a volcano might make, is alone sufficient to heap a load of miseries on a people confined to so small a space.  In fact, this island, which may perhaps, in remote ages, have been produced by a volcano, since all its minerals are merely volcanic, has at least in all likelihood been destroyed by its fire.  All kinds of trees and plants, all-domestic animals, nay a great part of the nation itself, may have perished in the dreadful convulsion of nature:  Hunger and misery must have been but too powerful enemies to those who escaped the fire.  We cannot well account for these little carved images which we saw among the natives, and the representation of a dancing woman’s hand, which are made of a kind of wood at present not to be met with upon the island.  The only idea which offers itself is, that they were made long ago, and have been saved by accident or predilection, at the general catastrophe which seems to have happened.  In numberless circumstances the people agree with the tribes who inhabit New Zealand, the Friendly and the Society Islands, and who seem to have had one common origin with them.  Their features are very similar, so that the general character may easily be distinguished.  Their colour a yellowish brown, most like the hue of the New Zealanders; their art of puncturing, the use of the mulberry-bark for clothing, the predilection for red paint and red dresses, the shape and workmanship of their clubs, the mode of dressing their victuals, all form a strong resemblance to the natives of these islands.  We may add, the simplicity of their languages, that of Easter Island being a dialect, which, in many respects, resembles that of New Zealand, especially in the harshness of pronunciation and the use of gutturals, and yet, in other instances, partakes of that of Otaheite.  The monarchical government likewise strengthens the affinity between the Easter Islanders and the tropical tribes, its prerogatives being only varied according to the different degrees of fertility of the islands, and the opulence or luxury of the people.  The statues, which are erected in honour of their kings, have a great affinity to the wooden figures called Tea, on the chief’s marais or burying- places, at Otaheite; but we could not possibly consider them as idols.  The disposition of these people is far from being warlike; their numbers are too inconsiderable and their poverty too general, to create civil disturbances amongst them.  It is equally improbable that they have foreign wars, since hitherto we know of no island near enough to admit
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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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