Quotes from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life

Herman Melville ·  368 pages

Rating: (3.7K votes)


“Strange as it may seem, there is nothing in which a young and beautiful female appears to more advantage than in the art of smoking.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


“Yet, after all, insensible as he is to a thousand wants, and removed from harassing cares, my not the savage be the happier man..?”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


“A high degree of refinement, however, does not seem to subdue our wicked propensities so much after all; and were civilization itself to be estimated by some of its results, it would seem perhaps better for what we call the barbarous part of the world to remain unchanged.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


“All of them at length succeeded in getting up the ship's side, where they clung dripping with the brine and glowing from the bath, their jet-black tresses streaming over their shoulders, and half enveloping their otherwise naked forms. There they hung, sparkling with savage vivacity, laughing gaily at one another, and chattering away with infinite glee.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


“The term 'Savage' is, I conceive, often misapplied, and indeed, when I consider the vices, cruelties, and enormities of every kind that spring up in the tainted atmosphere of a feverish civilization, I am inclined to think that so far as the relative wickedness of the parties is concerned, four or five Marquesan Islanders sent to the United States as Missionaries might be quite as useful as an equal number of Americans despatched to the Islands in a similar capacity.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life



“Every evening the girls of the house gathered about me on the mats, and after chasing away Kory-Kory from my side—who nevertheless, retired only to a little distance and watched their proceedings with the most jealous attention—would anoint my whole body with a fragrant oil, squeezed from a yellow root, previously pounded between a couple of stones, and which in their language is denominated ‘aka’. And most refreshing and agreeable are the juices of the ‘aka’, when applied to ones, limbs by the soft palms of sweet nymphs, whose bright eyes are beaming upon you with kindness; and I used to hail with delight the daily recurrence of this luxurious operation, in which I forgot all my troubles, and buried for the time every feeling of sorrow. Sometimes”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


“The islanders, while employed in erecting this tenement, reminded me of a colony of beavers at work. To be sure, they were hardly as silent and demure as those wonderful creatures, nor were they by any means as diligent. To tell the truth they were somewhat inclined to be lazy, but a perfect tumult of hilarity prevailed; and they worked together so unitedly, and seemed actuated by such an instinct of friendliness, that it was truly beautiful to behold. Not”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


“I ask whether the mere eating of human flesh so very far exceeds in barbarity that custom which only a few years since was practised in enlightened England:—a convicted traitor, perhaps a man found guilty of honesty, patriotism, and suchlike heinous crimes, had his head lopped off with a huge axe, his bowels dragged out and thrown into a fire; while his body, carved into four quarters, was with his head exposed upon pikes, and permitted to rot and fester among the public haunts of men! The fiend-like skill we display in the invention of all manner of death-dealing engines, the vindictiveness with which we carry on our wars, and the misery and desolation that follow in their train, are enough of themselves to distinguish the white civilized man as the most ferocious animal on the face of the earth. His”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


“Why, they are cannibals!’ said Toby on one occasion when I eulogized the tribe. ‘Granted,’ I replied, ‘but a more humane, gentlemanly and amiable set of epicures do not probably exist in the Pacific.’ But,”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


“There is scarcely anything when a man is in difficulties that he is more disposed to look upon with abhorrence than a rightabout retrograde movement—a systematic going over of the already trodden ground: and especially if he has a love of adventure, such a course appears indescribably repulsive, so long as there remains the least hope to be derived from braving untried difficulties. It”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life



“At the Sandwich Islands, Kaahumanu, the gigantic old dowager queen—a woman of nearly four hundred pounds weight, and who is said to be still living at Mowee—was accustomed, in some of her terrific gusts of temper, to snatch up an ordinary sized man who had offended her, and snap his spine across her knee. Incredible as this may seem, it is a fact. While at Lahainaluna—the residence of this monstrous Jezebel—a humpbacked wretch was pointed out to me, who, some twenty-five years previously, had had the vertebrae of his backbone very seriously discomposed by his gentle mistress. The”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


“The expedition for the occupation of the Marquesas had sailed from Brest in the spring of 1842, and the secret of its destination was solely in the possession of its commander. No wonder that those who contemplated such a signal infraction of the rights of humanity should have sought to veil the enormity from the eyes of the world. And yet, notwithstanding their iniquitous conduct in this and in other matters, the French have ever plumed themselves upon being the most humane and polished of nations. A high degree of refinement, however, does not seem to subdue our wicked propensities so much after all; and were civilization itself to be estimated by some of its results, it would seem perhaps better for what we call the barbarous part of the world to remain unchanged. One”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


“How often is the term ‘savages’ incorrectly applied! None really deserving of it were ever yet discovered by voyagers or by travellers. They have discovered heathens and barbarians whom by horrible cruelties they have exasperated into savages. It may be asserted without fear of contradictions that in all the cases of outrages committed by Polynesians, Europeans have at some time or other been the aggressors, and that the cruel and bloodthirsty disposition of some of the islanders is mainly to be ascribed to the influence of such examples. But”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


“Such is the summary style in which the Typees convert perverse-minded and rebellious hogs into the most docile and amiable pork; a morsel of which placed on the tongue melts like a soft smile from the lips of Beauty.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


“The Marquesas! What strange visions of outlandish things does the very name spirit up! Naked houris—cannibal banquets—groves of cocoanut—coral reefs—tattooed chiefs—and bamboo temples; sunny valleys planted with bread-fruit-trees—carved canoes dancing on the flashing blue waters—savage woodlands guarded by horrible idols—HEATHENISH RITES AND HUMAN SACRIFICES. Such”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life



“I am one of those unfortunate persons to whom the sight of these animals are, at any time an insufferable annoyance.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life


About the author

Herman Melville
Born place: in New York City, New York, The United States
Born date August 1, 1819
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