Polynesian Quotes (2 quotes)
For nearly twelve years I travelled and lived mostly among uncivilised or completely savage races, and I became convinced that they all possessed good qualities, some of them in a very remarkable degree, and that in all the great characteristics of humanity they are wonderfully like ourselves. Some, indeed, among the brown Polynesians especially, are declared by numerous independent and unprejudiced observers, to be physically, mentally, and intellectually our equals, if not our superiors; and it has always seemed to me one of the disgraces of our civilisation that these fine people have not in a single case been protected from contamination by the vices and follies of our more degraded classes, and allowed to develope their own social and political organislll under the advice of some of our best and wisest men and the protection of our world-wide power. That would have been indeed a worthy trophy of our civilisation. What we have actually done, and left undone, resulting in the degradation and lingering extermination of so fine a people, is one of the most pathetic of its tragedies.
The choice of zoology as a main subject [at university] was to follow up my childhood love of nature. … My animal studies never became quite what I had hoped for. We hardly heard of wild beasts and the way they lived in the wilderness. We sliced up intestines and looked at them under the microscope … but their life and function in the environment was ignored in favor of their Latin names. … Was our knowledge of nature superior to, or only different from, that of the eagle-eyed Polynesian islanders, who specialized in appraising nature the way it could best benefit man? I had to think as a scientist now. Not as a Polynesian yet. Knowledge was to be sought independently of its purpose.