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25. CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE
GENERAL INFORMATION GATHERED AT THE FESTIVAL--PERSONAL BEAUTY OF THE TYPEES--THEIR SUPERIORITY OVER THE INHABITANTS OF THE OTHER ISLANDS--DIVERSITY OF COMPLEXION--A VEGETABLE COSMETIC AND OINTMENT--TESTIMONY OF VOYAGERS TO THE UNCOMMON BEAUTY OF THE MARQUESANS--FEW EVIDENCES OF INTERCOURSE WITH CIVILIZED BEINGS--DILAPIDATED MUSKET--PRIMITIVE SIMPLICITY OF GOVERNMENT-- REGAL DIGNITY OF MEHEVI
ALTHOUGH I had been unable during the late festival to obtain information on many interesting subjects which had much excited my curiosity, still that important event had not passed by without adding materially to my general knowledge of the islanders.
I was especially struck by the physical strength and beauty which they displayed, by their great superiority in these respects over the inhabitants of the neighbouring bay of Nukuheva, and by the singular contrasts they presented among themselves in their various shades of complexion.
In beauty of form they surpassed anything I had ever seen. Not a single instance of natural deformity was observable in all the throng attending the revels. Occasionally I noticed among the men the scars of wounds they had received in battle; and sometimes, though very seldom, the loss of a finger, an eye, or an arm, attributable to the same cause. With these exceptions, every individual appeared free from those blemishes which sometimes mar the effect of an otherwise perfect form. But their physical excellence did not merely consist in an exemption from these evils; nearly every individual of their number might have been taken for a sculptor's model.
When I remembered that these islanders derived no advantage from dress, but appeared in all the naked simplicity of nature, I could not avoid comparing them with the fine gentlemen and dandies who promenade such unexceptionable figures in our frequented thoroughfares. Stripped of the cunning artifices of the tailor, and standing forth in the garb of Eden--what a sorry, set of round-shouldered, spindle-shanked, crane-necked varlets would civilized men appear! Stuffed calves, padded breasts, and scientifically cut pantaloons would then avail them nothing, and the effect would be truly deplorable.
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