Atlantis Online
December 08, 2023, 02:06:17 pm
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Secrets of ocean birth laid bare
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

Descent of Man [ 1871]

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 11 12 ... 15   Go Down
Author Topic: Descent of Man [ 1871]  (Read 3922 times)
Hero Member
Posts: 230

« Reply #75 on: February 09, 2009, 01:28:36 pm »

* Gerland, ibid., s. 12, gives facts in support of this statement.

  When civilised nations come into contact with barbarians the
struggle is short, except where a deadly climate gives its aid to
the native race. Of the causes which lead to the victory of
civilised nations, some are plain and simple, others complex and
obscure. We can see that the cultivation of the land will be fatal
in many ways to savages, for they cannot, or will not, change their
habits. New diseases and vices have in some cases proved highly
destructive; and it appears that a new disease often causes much
death, until those who are most susceptible to its destructive
influence are gradually weeded out;* and so it may be with the evil
effects from spirituous liquors, as well as with the unconquerably
strong taste for them shewn by so many savages. It further appears,
mysterious as is the fact, that the first meeting of distinct and
separated people generates disease.*(2) Mr. Sproat, who in Vancouver
Island closely attended to the subject of extinction, believed that
changed habits of life, consequent on the advent of Europeans, induces
much ill health. He lays, also, great stress on the apparently
trifling cause that the natives become "bewildered and dull by the new
life around them; they lose the motives for exertion, and get no new
ones in their place."*(3)

  * See remarks to this effect in Sir H. Holland's Medical Notes and
Reflections, 1839, p. 390.
  *(2) I have collected (Journal of Researches: Voyage of the
Beagle, p. 435) a good many cases bearing on this subject; see also
Gerland, ibid., s. 8. Poeppig speaks of the "breath of civilisation as
poisonous to savages."
  *(3) Sproat, Scenes and Studies of Savage Life, 1868, p. 284.

  The grade of their civilisation seems to be a most important element
in the success of competing nations. A few centuries ago Europe feared
the inroads of Eastern barbarians; now any such fear would be
ridiculous. It is a more curious fact, as Mr. Bagehot has remarked,
that savages did not formerly waste away before the classical nations,
as they now do before modern civilised nations; had they done so,
the old moralists would have mused over the event; but there is no
lament in any writer of that period over the perishing barbarians.*
The most potent of all the causes of extinction, appears in many cases
to be lessened fertility and ill-health, especially amongst the
children, arising from changed conditions of life, notwithstanding
that the new conditions may not be injurious in themselves. I am
much indebted to Mr. H. H.  Howorth for having called my attention
to this subject, and for having given me information respecting it.
I have collected the following cases.

  * Bagehot, "Physics and Politics," Fortnightly Review, April 1,
1868, p. 455.

  When Tasmania was first colonised the natives were roughly estimated
by some at 7000 and by others at 20,000. Their number was soon greatly
reduced, chiefly by fighting with the English and with each other.
After the famous hunt by all the colonists, when the remaining natives
delivered themselves up to the government, they consisted only of
120 individuals,* who were in 1832 transported to Flinders Island.
This island, situated between Tasmania and Australia, is forty miles
long, and from twelve to eighteen miles broad: it seems healthy, and
the natives were well treated. Nevertheless, they suffered greatly
in health. In 1834 they consisted (Bonwick, p. 250) of forty-seven
adult males, forty-eight adult females, and sixteen children, or in
all of 111 souls. In 1835 only one hundred were left. As they
continued rapidly to decrease, and as they themselves thought that
they should not perish so quickly elsewhere, they were removed in 1847
to Oyster Cove in the southern part of Tasmania. They then consisted
(Dec. 20th, 1847) of fourteen men, twenty-two women and ten
children.*(2) But the change of site did no good. Disease and death
still pursued them, and in 1864 one man (who died in 1869), and
three elderly women alone survived. The infertility of the women is
even a more remarkable fact than the liability of all to ill-health
and death. At the time when only nine women were left at Oyster
Cove, they told Mr. Bonwick (p. 386), that only two had ever borne
children: and these two had together produced only three children!

  * All the statements here given are taken from The Last of the
Tasmanians, by J. Bonwick, 1870.
  *(2) This is the statement of the Governor of Tasmania, Sir W.
Denison, Varieties of Vice-Regal Life, 1870, vol. i., p. 67.

  With respect to the cause of this extraordinary state of things, Dr.
Story remarks that death followed the attempts to civilise the
natives. "If left to themselves to roam as they were wont and
undisturbed, they would have reared more children, and there would
have been less mortality." Another careful observer of the natives,
Mr. Davis, remarks, "The births have been few and the deaths numerous.
This may have been in a great measure owing to their change of
living and food; but more so to their banishment from the mainland
of Van Diemen's Land, and consequent depression of spirits"
(Bonwick, pp. 388, 390).
  Similar facts have been observed in two widely different parts of
Australia. The celebrated explorer, Mr. Gregory, told Mr. Bonwick,
that in Queensland "the want of reproduction was being already felt
with the blacks, even in the most recently settled parts, and that
decay would set in." Of thirteen aborigines from Shark's Bay who
visited Murchison River, twelve died of consumption within three

  * For these cases, see Bonwick's Daily Life of the Tasmanians, 1870,
p. 90: and The Last of the Tasmanians, 1870, p. 386.

  The decrease of the Maories of New Zealand has been carefully
investigated by Mr. Fenton, in an admirable report, from which all the
following statements, with one exception, are taken.* The decrease
in number since 1830 is admitted by every one, including the natives
themselves, and is still steadily progressing. Although it has
hitherto been found impossible to take an actual census of the
natives, their numbers were carefully estimated by residents in many
districts. The result seems trustworthy, and shows that during the
fourteen years, previous to 1858, the decrease was 19.42 per cent.
Some of the tribes, thus carefully examined, lived above a hundred
miles apart, some on the coast, some inland; and their means of
subsistence and habits differed to a certain extent (p. 28). The total
number in 1858 was believed to be 53,700, and in 1872, after a
second interval of fourteen years, another census was taken, and the
number is given as only 36,359, shewing a decrease of 32.29 per
cent!*(2) Mr. Fenton, after shewing in detail the insufficiency of the
various causes, usually assigned in explanation of this
extraordinary decrease, such as new diseases, the profligacy of the
women, drunkenness, wars, &c., concludes on weighty grounds that it
depends chiefly on the unproductiveness of the women, and on the
extraordinary mortality of the young children (pp. 31, 34). In proof
of this he shews (p. 33) that in 1844 there was one non-adult for
every 2.57 adults; whereas in 1858 there was only one non-adult for
every 3.27 adults. The mortality of the adults is also great. He
adduces as a further cause of the decrease the inequality of the
sexes; for fewer females are born than males. To this latter point,
depending perhaps on a widely distinct cause, I shall return in a
future chapter. Mr. Fenton contrasts with astonishment the decrease in
New Zealand with the increase in Ireland; countries not very
dissimilar in climate, and where the inhabitants now follow nearly
similar habits. The Maories themselves (p. 35) "attribute their
decadence, in some measure, to the introduction of new food and
clothing, and the attendant change of habits"; and it will be seen,
when we consider the influence of changed conditions on fertility,
that they are probably right. The diminution began between the years
1830 and 1840; and Mr. Fenton shews (p. 40) that about 1830, the art
of manufacturing putrid corn (maize), by long steeping in water, was
discovered and largely practised; and this proves that a change of
habits was beginning amongst the natives, even when New Zealand was
only thinly inhabited by Europeans. When I visited the Bay of
Islands in 1835, the dress and food of the inhabitants had already
been much modified: they raised potatoes, maize, and other
agricultural produce, and exchanged them for English manufactured
goods and tobacco.

  * Observations on the Aboriginal Inhabitants of New Zealand,
published by the Government, 1859.
  *(2) New Zealand, by Alex. Kennedy, 1873, p. 47.

  It is evident from many statements in the life of Bishop
Patteson,* that the Melanesians of the New Hebrides and neighbouring
archipelagoes, suffered to an extraordinary degree in health, and
perished in large numbers, when they were removed to New Zealand,
Norfolk Island, and other salubrious places, in order to be educated
as missionaries.

  * Life of J. C. Patteson, by C. M. Younge, 1874; see more especially
vol. i., p. 530.
Report Spam   Logged
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 11 12 ... 15   Go Up
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy