[Review of The Mutineers of the Bounty, by Diana, Lady Belcher]
Alfred R Wallace
Sociology, Experiment, Heredity, Breeding, Race, Christianity, Politics, Population
After describing the main events of the famous mutiny of 1789, Wallace notes that 'it is to the subsequent careers of the mutineers and their descendants—the well-known Pitcairn Islanders—that we are most attracted', as it is 'so rarely that social problems can be subjected to anything like a critical experiment, owing to the impossibility of eliminating the disturbing influence of adjacent populations'. In the condition of complete isolation formerly enjoyed by the islanders 'Many curious problems were [...] in process of solution. The little community consisted almost entirely of half-breeds; would any signs of sterility appear, or could they permanently continue the race? They necessarily soon came to marry almost wholly with blood relations; would this cause disease or deterioration? In the mixed race would the characteristics of the white or of the brown progenitors ultimately prevail, and which special features of each would maintain themselves longest?'. However, these questions cannot be answered adequately now that many of the islanders have been removed to Norfolk Island, the home of 'a missionary college for Melanesian converts'. (108) Also examines the political situation of the islanders, and concludes that there are 'many problems in physical, social, and political science which increasing population will soon force upon them' (109).
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]