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There is a marked similarity, almost an identity, between the religious institutions of most of the Polynesian islands, and in all exists the mysterious 鈥楾aboo鈥, restricted in its uses to a greater or less extent. So strange and complex in its arrangements is this remarkable system, that I have in several cases met with individuals who, after residing for years among the islands in the Pacific, and acquiring a considerable knowledge of the language, have nevertheless been altogether unable to give any satisfactory account of its operations. Situated as I was in the Typee valley, I perceived every hour the effects of this all-controlling power, without in the least comprehending it. Those effects were, indeed, wide-spread and universal, pervading the most important as well as the minutest transactions of life. The savage, in short, lives in the continual observance of its dictates, which guide and control every action of his being.

Ill-fated people! I shudder when I think of the change a few years will produce in their paradisaical abode; and probably when the most destructive vices, and the worst attendances on civilization, shall have driven all peace and happiness from the valley, the magnanimous French will proclaim to the world that the Marquesas Islands have been converted to Christianity! and this the Catholic world will doubtless consider as a glorious event. Heaven help the 鈥業sles of the Sea鈥!鈥擳he sympathy which Christendom feels for them, has, alas! in too many instances proved their bane..
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Whether our author entered on his whaling adventures in the South Seas with a determination to make them available for literary purposes, may never be certainly known. There was no such elaborate announcement or advance preparation as in some later cases. I am inclined to believe that the literary prospect was an after-thought, and that this insured a freshness and enthusiasm of style not otherwise to be attained. Returning to his mother鈥檚 home at Lansingburg, Melville soon began the writing of 鈥楾ypee,鈥 which was completed by the autumn of 1845. Shortly after this his older brother, Gansevoort Melville, sailed for England as secretary of legation to Ambassador McLane, and the manuscript was intrusted to Gansevoort for submission to John Murray. Its immediate acceptance and publication followed in 1846. 鈥楾ypee鈥 was dedicated to Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw of Massachusetts, an old friendship between the author鈥檚 family and that of Justice Shaw having been renewed about this time. Mr. Melville became engaged to Miss Elizabeth Shaw, the only daughter of the Chief Justice, and their marriage followed on August 4, 1847, in Boston.?
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The remotest idea of returning to Nukuheva, unless assured of our vessel鈥檚 departure, never once entered my mind, and indeed it was questionable whether we could have succeeded in reaching it, divided as we were from the bay by a distance we could not compute, and perplexed too in our remembrance of localities by our recent wanderings. Besides, it was unendurable the thought of retracing our steps and rendering all our painful exertions of no avail..
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21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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