Page:Descent of Man 1875.djvu/203

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Chap. VII.
The Extincion of Races.

island." This is almost exactly the same average as with the Tasmanians at Oyster Cove. Jarves, who published his History in 1843, says that "families who have three children are freed from all taxes; those having more, are rewarded by gifts of land and other encouragements." This unparalleled enactment by the government well shews how infertile the race had become. The Rev. A. Bishop stated in the Hawaiian 'Spectator' in 1839, that a large proportion of the children die at early ages, and Bishop Staley informs me that this is still the case, just as in New Zealand. This has been attributed to the neglect of the children by the women, but it is probably in large part due to innate weakness of constitution in the children, in relation to the lessened fertility of their parents. There is, moreover, a further resemblance to the case of New Zealand, in the fact that there is a large excess of male over female births: the census of 1872 gives 31,650 males to 25,247 females of all ages, that is 125.36 males for every 100 females; whereas in all civilised countries the females exceed the males. No doubt the profligacy of the women may in part account for their small fertility; but their changed habits of life is a much more probable cause, and which will at the same time account for the increased mortality, especially of the children. The islands were visited by Cook in 1779, Vancouver in 1794, and often subsequently by whalers. In 1819 missionaries arrived, and found that idolatry had been already abolished and other changes effected by the king. After this period there was a rapid change in almost all the habits of life of the natives, and they soon became "the most civilised of the Pacific Islanders." One of my informants, Mr. Coan, who was born on the islands, remarks that the natives have undergone a greater change in their habits of life in the course of fifty years than Englishmen during a thousand years. From information received from Bishop Staley, it does not appear that the poorer classes have ever much changed their diet, although many new kinds of fruit have been introduced, and the sugar-cane is in universal use. Owing, however, to their passion for imitating Europeans, they altered their manner of dressing at an early period, and the use of alcoholic drinks became very general. Although these changes appear inconsiderable, I can well believe, from what is known with respect to animals, that they might suffice to lessen the fertility of the natives.[1]

  1. The foregoing statements are taken chiefly from the following works: 'Jarves’ History of the Hawaiian Islands,' 1843, pp. 400-407. Cheever, 'Life in the Sandwich Islands,' 1851, p. 277. Ruschenberger is quoted by Bonwick, 'Last of the Tasmanians,' 1870, p. 378. Bishop is quoted by Sir E. Belcher, 'Voyage Round the World,' 1843,