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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/263

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NATIVE LIFE IN BRITISH BORNEO.

in my fields , may a crocodile swallow me . may the eggs never be hatched in my fowl-house , may I never catch a fish when I go fishing , may my life be ended . I cut this stick as if I was chopping my own head off . The Great Spirit is my witness . May this stick grow into life again if I ever kill or take any more heads , and I follow all the customs of the British North Borneo Company , and I take this oath with a sincere heart , and I shall pay the poll-tax of the company ."

One of the Murut chiefs "was chopping away at the stick, repeating the oath in a loud voice, when he came to the part 'may my wife die' (if ever I take another head), when he stopped short and exclaimed with a grim smile: 'I have no wife; you Peluans cut off her head long ago'; and the Peluans gave a shout of laughter in which he joined, the crowd around rolling on the grass, convulsed with merriment. This would denote that the retaliation in taking heads does not proceed from a spirit of affection for the departed relatives, but rather from a sense of revenge or vendetta, engendered by a feeling that shame has been cast upon the tribe by losing one of the family at the hands of the enemy. Another illustration of the indifference with which the people regard the head-hunting custom was afforded at a chief's house where fifty-two human heads and pieces of human bones were hanging from the rafters. The skin of some of the faces was so well preserved that the expression could still be recognized." Mr. Daly explained that he could not eat his evening meal in a room where these were suspended, and asked that they be cut down. This request the chief and his sons "cheerfully complied with, but with a bland smile of patronizing pity at the white man's amiable squeamishness; and so to humor me they took down the ghastly trophies, and, huddling them together in rattan baskets, put them away at the back of the house; doubtless they were reinstated as drawing-room ornaments after my departure."

It is claimed that great improvement in the order and civilization of the country, and in personal security, has already resulted from the occupation by the British North Borneo Company.

 


 
The higher scientific deductions, which could not have been reached without the aid of a faculty in which imagination had a share, are in standing contradiction to the often-repeated dictum that science is void of imagination and the play of thought. Newton, Kepler, Bacon, Helmholtz, Lyell, Owen, Darwin, and Pasteur, are cited by a writer in "The Lancet" as scientific investigators representing the very highest type of intellect, in which the insight and imagination of the poet were united with the capacity for severe and sustained observation. To represent scientific study as affording no play for emotion is false. "No poet's fancy can equal in grandeur the two twin generalizations of science, gravitation and evolution—the one binding together the universe of matter, the other uniting into a harmonious whole the universe of life."