It is also worth while noticing the following circumstance, which occurred during this excursion. “The appearance of a large beef-bone, which some of our people began to pick towards the conclusion of their supper, interrupted a conversation that was carried on with the natives. They talked very loud and earnestly to each other, looked with great surprise, and some marks of disgust, at our people, and at last went away altogether, expressing by signs that they suspected the strangers of eating human flesh. Our officer endeavoured to free himself and his shipmates from this suspicion; but the want of language was an insurmountable obstacle to his undertaking, even supposing it possible to persuade a set of people, who had never seen a quadruped in their lives.”—G.F.
Notwithstanding this appearance of dislike to so horrid a practice, it must not be hastily inferred, that these people are themselves free from the vice which they condemned. On the contrary, one might rather imagine that their so readily conjecturing the circumstance, from what they saw, proceeded from a conviction of their own occasional acquiescence in it; and that their present umbrage arose from apprehension of their own danger in the hands of persons so much more powerful than themselves. But we reserve the subject of cannibalism for another place, where perhaps it will be shewn that those very people are not free from this opprobrium of the savage state. The reader is already aware, that the younger Forster is not to be too strictly relied on as to his accounts of our species in its rude condition, more particularly where it is possible, with some stretch of liberality, to substitute the pleasing dreams of fancy for the disagreeable realities of truth.—E.
A Description of the Country and its Inhabitants; their Manners, Customs, and Arts.
I shall conclude our transactions at this place with some account of the country and its inhabitants. They are a strong, robust, active, well-made people, courteous and friendly, and not in the least addicted to pilfering, which is more than can be said of any other nation in this sea. They are nearly of the same colour as the natives of Tanna, but have better features, more agreeable countenances, and are a much stouter race; a few being seen who measured six feet four inches. I observed some who had thick lips, flat noses, and full cheeks, and, in some degree, the features and look of a negro. Two things contributed to the forming of such an idea; first, their rough mop heads, and, secondly, their besmearing their faces with black pigment. Their hair and beards are, in general, black. The former is very much frizzled, so that, at first sight, it appears like that of a negro. It is, nevertheless, very different, though both coarser and stronger than ours. Some, who