Myths and Songs from the South Pacificby William Gill
Having expressed a strong desire that the collection of Myths and Songs from the South
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Having expressed a strong desire that the collection of Myths and Songs from the South Pacific, which the Rev. W. Wyatt Gill brought home with him from Mangaia, should not be allowed to lie forgotten, or, like other valuable materials collected by hard-working missionaries, perish altogether, I could not well decline to state, in a few words, what I consider the real importance of this collection to be. I confess it seemed strange to me that its importance should be questioned. If new minerals, plants, or animals are discovered, if strange petrifactions are brought to light, if flints or other stone weapons are dredged up, or works of art disinterred, even if a hitherto unknown language is rendered accessible for the first time, no one, I think, who is acquainted with the scientific problems of our age, would ask what their importance consists in, or what they are good for. Whether they are products of nature or works of man, if only there is no doubt as to their genuineness, they claim and most readily receive the attention, not only of the learned, but also of the intelligent public at large. Now, what are these Myths and Songs which Mr. W. W. Gill has brought home from Mangaia, but antiquities, preserved for hundreds, it may be for thousands of years, showing us, far better than any stone weapons or stone idols, the growth of the human mind during a period which, as yet, is full of the most perplexing problems to the psychologist, the historian, and the theologian?
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