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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 27

Easter Island

Easter Island

Is thirty or forty miles in circumference. Its natives "live on yams, pototoes, and sugar-cane, the soil being so fertile that three days' work is sufficient to provide sustenance for a native page 87 for a whole year. Easter Island is celebrated for the wonderful remains of some prehistoric people, who must have lived there ages before the race who now inhabit it, and about whom the people there now cannot tell us anything at all. The remains consist of stone houses, sculptured stones, and gigantic stone images." Sculptured monuments extend over the island—"the most extraordinary are found in nearly every headland round the coast, where there is almost always an enormous platform of stone."

"Towards the sea there are high walls built of immense stones most ingeniously fitting into one another without cement, and stone platforms and terraces have been levelled with large slabs which had been pedestals for the images. Most of those slabs were 15 or 18 feet high, and some 37 feet. The figures are human bodies without legs, the heads being flat to allow of crowns being put on; these crowns were made of a red material found only at a crater three miles from the stone houses. The houses are built on regular lines, with doors facing the sea, the walls are 5 feet thick and 6 feet high, built of layers of irregularly-shaped flat stone, and lined inside with upright flat slabs. These are painted with figures of birds and animals, and geometrical figures. Quantities of a particular shell were found inside the houses, and in one of them a statue 8 feet high. Near these houses the rocks on the brink of the sea-cliffs are carved into all sorts of strange shapes, sometimes like odd human faces, and sometimes like turtle."

Was there once a civilisation over the Pacific Isles? Was this isle the Delos of the great Archipelago? Who can tell? The whole is enveloped in a mysterious shroud. So much for the Isles of the Pacific by B. Francis. It is a charming book, and will well repay the cost of purchase and the labour of pe rusal. It is full of illustrations, and fraught with wisdom.