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.
reason to complain of our arrival among them.  When we consider how easy it is to provoke the mariner to sport with the lives of Indians, from the numerous examples throughout this narrative, we must acknowledge that it required an uncommon degree of good temper, not to draw upon themselves a single act of brutality.  Those philosophers who are of opinion that the temper, the manners, and genius of a people, depend entirely upon the climate, will be at a loss to account for the peaceful character of the inhabitants of New Caledonia.  If we admit that they are only strangers to distrust, because they have little to lose, we shall not solve the difficulty; since the people of New Holland, under the influence of a similar climate and soil, and in a more wretched situation than the inhabitants of New Caledonia, are savage and unsociable.  The different characters of nations seem therefore to depend upon a multitude of different causes, which have acted together during a series of many ages.  The inhabitants of New Caledonia do not owe their kind disposition to a total ignorance of wars and disputes; the variety of their offensive weapons being alone sufficient to put this matter out of doubt.  By conversing with them we learnt that they have enemies, and that the people of an island called Mingha had a very different character from their own.  Civilization is much farther advanced in some respects among them, than with their more opulent neighbours.  That higher degree of culture, however, where the understanding is sufficiently enlightened to remove the unjust contempt shown to the fair sex, is unknown to them; their temper is too grave to be captivated by female blandishments, or to set a proper value upon the refined enjoyments of life.  They are obliged to work hard, at times, for the means of subsistence; but their leisure hours are spent in indolence, without those little recreations which contribute so much to the happiness of mankind, and diffuse a spirit of chearfulness and vivacity throughout the Society and Friendly Islands.  Besides a sort of whistle, made of wood, about two inches long, and shaped like a bell, having two holes at its base and one at the upper end, we never saw a musical instrument among the people of New Caledonia.  Their dances and songs are equally unknown to us; and what we observed during our short stay, gave us reason to suppose, that even laughter is an uncommon guest among them.”—­G.F.


Proceedings on the Coast of New Caledonia, with Geographical and Nautical Observations.

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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