at rest in these Capuan isles, and there yielded to the habits of indolent ease, which they so naturally engender.
Yet to this day the chief characteristics of the Malays are common throughout Polynesia. In each of these groups a truly Asiatic code of wearisome, elaborate ceremonial is observed on every possible occasion; the smallest breach of etiquette is considered a crime; a joke of any sort, especially of the nature of "chaff," is an unpardonable offence; in speech, flowery compliments which mean nothing and veil thought are the rule—slow, deliberate oratory, in which the best speaker is he who can talk for hours without touching his point, and then condense all he wishes to say, in a few pithy words.
All these islanders are distinguished by a natural grace and courtesy of manner—sometimes dignified, at others most winning; yet under extreme external politeness they have often nursed schemes of cold treachery and cruelty, which they have carried out unscrupulously to the bitter end. (I speak, of course, of the islanders as they were by nature, ere the mellowing, transforming influence of Christianity had dawned on the South Seas.) But to this hour the Polynesians, like the Malays, are, as a rule, careless, easy-going, impassive beings, generally light-hearted; all fatalists, as a matter of course; strangely indifferent to physical pain, whether endured by themselves or inflicted on others; but when once roused to fighting-pitch, wholly uncontrollable in their blind mad fury.
But the strongest proof of their Malay descent lies in the similarity of their various languages, both to one another and to the mother tongue. It is not merely a likeness in general construction, but many words are almost identical, as you may gather at a glance from the following vocabulary. In short, the whole subject is extremely interesting, but is one which I must leave to the discussion of learned folk, whose wise disquisitions you can study at your leisure.