National Geographic : 1925 Oct
VOL. XLVIII, No. 4 WASHINGTON OCTOBER, 1925 NiATIONAL MAGAZlnE COPYRIGHT.1925. Y NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY.WASHINGTON D C. IN THE UNITED STATESAND GREATBRITAIN THE ROMANCE OF SCIENCE IN POLYNESIA An Account of Five Years of Cruising Among the South Sea Islands By ROBERT CUSHMAN MURPHY AUTHOR OF "SOUTH GEORGIA, AN OUTPOST OF THE ANTARCTIC," AND "THE MOST VALUABLE BIRD IN TIIE WORLD," IN TIIE NATIONAL (;EOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE With Illustrations from Photographs by Rollo H. Beck T Onumberless readers the flood of books and articles by war-weary sojourners in the southern Pacific has meant the discovery of a new liter ary field-one in which heavenly isles, green with the breadfruit and the hibiscus tree, ringed by sapphire lagoons and danc ing surf, are the setting for the lives of languorous natives who retain the pristine charm of Adam and Eve. Looking at the subject with a historic eye, however, it is illuminating to note that from the days of the early discov erers the lands and peoples of the Poly nesian archipelagoes have periodically claimed the attention and excited the im agination of civilized mankind. The pres ent tide of favor is only a recurrence, such as has taken place about once in every generation since 176o or earlier. In the beginning, the vital narratives of the great voyagers of the eighteenth cen tury, such as James Cook in Britain and Bougainville in France, were read by prac tically all educated men of their day. That they exerted a profound effect is reflected in the prose, the poetry, the hu mane and religious zeal, the developing wanderlust, and even the social customs of the period. About forty years after the death of Cook, or in the twenties of the nineteenth century, the activities of British non conformist missionaries in the Society Islands, as described in William Ellis's "Polynesian Researches," once again fo cused the eyes of the world upon the ever fascinating South Seas. MELVII,LE REVEALS CHARMS OI TIlE MAR QUESANS IN TYPEE" Ellis's studies, one volume of which is a classic source book for first-hand rec ords of Polynesian history, traits, and culture, passed through several editions. The memory of them had hardly faded, even from the popular mind, before the original "cannibal island thriller" ap peared, in the form of Herman Melville's "Typee" (1846). This work, which has recently shared in the general Melville revival, is a Yankee whaleman's simple, personal account of four months' captivity among the then uncontaminated savages of the Marquesas Islands, the same people whom Captain Cook had long before called the finest race in the Pacific, for fair form and regular features "perhaps surpassing all other na tions."