Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  8 (1884), 798–804.

Editor's Literary Record



Regular Feature, Review

Publications reviewed:

Nicholls 1884


Anthropology, Race, Imperialism, Disease, Extinction, Acclimatization, Degeneration, Darwinism

    Asserts that 'the Maoris [...] are far the noblest and most interesting of contemporary barbarous people. Less cruel than the Red Indians, and, perhaps, with a higher native civilisation', they 'have been the most chivalrous of warriors'. Nevertheless, this 'noble race of people is dying out [...] and it is dying as all the wild races do, when our civilisation touches them with its palsied finger. They contract European vices, drink allures them, our diseases fall fiercely on a fresh field of human victims'. (798) In this way does 'the law of the struggle for existence work, when an European meets an undeveloped people' (799). What is more, though, 'their mixed kind of life, half-European, half-native; men going now clad, now unclad, exposes them to cold, and to consumption. A blanket is almost as perilous a gift as a brandy bottle, to a savage', because when 'his body was "all face", all equally hardened by exposure, he did not catch cold'. Compared with their 'far stronger [...] untamed' fathers, the present generation of 'half-Europeanised' Maoris are 'slim, haggard, and touched with the maladie du siècle, and the melancholy of thought'. (798) This 'wild, brave, and chivalrous people, [are] soon to be succeeded by the sheep-owner and the manufacturer, the miner and the hotel keeper of civilisation' (799).

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