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.
[1] According to Mr G.F. nothing, except this very dubious circumstance of the solemn song, could be discovered among these people, to indicate religion or superstitious notions.  He mentions indeed, their practice of taking up the presents given them on a leaf, but properly enough remarks, that as even this was not general, and as it even ceased on the parties becoming better acquainted, no stress ought to be laid upon it.  Obviously, the information is too scanty to warrant decided opinions on the subject; but reasoning from analogy and what is related of the conduct and enjoyments of these islanders, one could not readily embrace the notion that they were quite destitute of both religious ideas and practices.—­E.
[2] Mr G.F. informs us that not less than forty different species of plants are cultivated in this island, and the nutmeg he conceives to be among its spontaneous ones.  Of the fish found here he specifies mullet, Brasilian pike, garfish, dolphins, cavalhas, parrot-fish, sting-rays, toothless-rays, angel-fish, sharks, sinking-fish, and varieties of mackrel.  Its birds are several sorts of pigeons, parroquets, fly-catchers, the Ceylonese owl, a species of creeper, a sort of duck, and a purple water-hen.  The cock and hen are its only tame fowls; and there are but three quadrupeds, hogs, rats, and bats.—­E.
[3] If I might venture a conjecture, founded upon the languages which we heard spoken in this island, I should suppose that several tribes of different nations have peopled it, and may have disputed the possession of the ground with each other.  Besides the common language of the island, and a dialect of that of the Friendly Islands, we collected some words of a third language, chiefly current among the inhabitants of its western hills; and we particularly obtained the numerals of all the three tongues, which are indeed totally extinct.  In the common language of Tanna we met with two or three words, which have a clear affinity with the language of Mallicollo, and about the same number corresponded with some words of the Malay; but in general they are wholly unlike each other, and related to no other language that I know of.  There is a strong kind of aspiration, and a guttural sound, in many words at Tanna, which are however very sonorous and full of vowels, and therefore easily pronounced.”—­G.F.
[4] Captain Cook has neglected to notice the musical genius of these people.  The following remarks on it are worthy of quotation.—­“As I happened to hum a song one day, many of them very eagerly entreated me to sing to them, and though not one of us was properly acquainted with music, yet we ventured to gratify their curiosity, and offered them a great variety of airs.  Some German and English songs, especially of the more lively kind, pleased them very much; but Dr Sparrman’s Swedish tunes gained universal applause; from whence it appeared that their judgment in music was not
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