Gibbon-o-Matic, Again

A correspondent writes: “I have taken to consulting the Gibbon-o-Matic as a daily oracle, as much part of my routine as the first coffee at the desk. Today’s excerpt was particularly fine, and I thought I should share it with you”.

“A philosopher may deplore the eternal discord of the human race, but he will confess that the desire of spoil is a more rational provocation than the vanity of conquest. From the age of Constantine to that of the Plantagenets, this rapacious spirit continued to instigate the poor and hardy Caledonians: but the same people, whose generous humanity seems to inspire the songs of Ossian, was disgraced by a savage ignorance of the virtues of peace and of the laws of war. Their southern neighbours have felt, and perhaps exaggerated, the cruel depredations of the Scots and Picts: and a valiant tribe of Caledonia, the Attacotti, the enemies, and afterwards the soldiers, of Valentinian, are accused, by an eye-witness, of delighting in the taste of human flesh. When they hunted the woods for prey, it is said that they attacked the shepherd rather than his flock; and that they curiously selected the most delicate and brawny parts, both of males and females, which they prepared for their horrid repasts. If, in the neighbourhood of the commercial and literary town of Glasgow, a race of cannibals has really existed, we may contemplate, in the period of the Scottish history, the opposite extremes of savage and civilized life. Such reflections tend to enlarge the circle of our ideas: and to encourage the pleasing hope that New Zealand may produce, in some future age, the Hume of the Southern Hemisphere.”

So who might the Hume of the Southern Hemisphere (with special reference to New Zealand) be? I’d say it’s this guy. But other suggestions are more than welcome.

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