A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 16 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 768 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 16.
that he intended, nor had I ever made such a proposal to him.  The Eatooa also foretold that the ships would not get to Matavai that day.  But in this he was mistaken; though appearances now rather favoured his prediction, there not being a breath of wind in any direction.  While he was prophesying, there fell a very heavy shower of rain, which made every one run for shelter but himself, who seemed not to regard it.  He remained squeaking by us about half an hour, and then retired.  No one paid any attention to what he uttered, though some laughed at him.  I asked the chief what he was, whether an Earee, or a Toutou? and the answer I received was, that he was taata eno; that is, a bad man.  And yet, notwithstanding this, and the little notice any of the natives seemed to take of the mad prophet, superstition has so far got the better of their reason, that they firmly believe such persons to be possessed with the spirit of the Eatooa.  Omai seemed to be very well instructed about them.  He said that, during the fits that come upon them, they know nobody, not even their most intimate acquaintances; and that, if any one of them happens to be a man of property, he will very often give away every moveable he is possessed of, if his friends do not put them out of his reach; and, when he recovers, will enquire what had become of those very things which he had but just before distributed, not seeming to have the least remembrance of what he had done while the fit was upon him.[4]

[Footnote 4:  What is the origin of that singular notion which is found amongst the lower orders in most countries, that divine inspiration is often consequent on temporary or continued derangement?  Surely it cannot be derived from any correct opinions respecting the Author of truth and knowledge.  We must ascribe it, then, to ignorance, and some feeling of dread as to his power; or rather perhaps, we ought to consider it as the hasty offspring of surprise, on the occasional display of reason, even in a common degree, where the faculties are understood to be disordered.  Still it is singular, that the observers should have recourse for explanation to so injurious and so improbable a supposition, as that of supernatural agency.  What has often, been said of sol-lunar and astral influence on the human mind, the opinion of which is pretty widely spread over the world, may be interpreted so as perfectly to agree with the theoretical solution of the question now proposed, the heavenly bodies being amongst the first and the most generally established objects of religious apprehension and worship.  It is curious enough, that what may be called the converse of the proposition, viz. that derangement follows or is accompanied with inspiration, whether religious or common, should almost as extensively have formed a part of the popular creed.  The reason of this notion again, is not altogether the same as that of the former; it has its origin probably in the observation,

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