The advancement of a people is profoundly influenced by three factors, namely: the source and quality of their food supply; their contacts and associations with other peoples; and their religious beliefs and activities.
It is, perhaps, the last factor that influences people most in matters respecting their intellectual development, especially when these beliefs and activities are laid out along rational lines. As intelligence increases, knowledge is gained concerning the various phenomena of life and the relation that man bears to the forces of nature that have an influence over him. Until such a state of intelligence is attained, the developing race conceives for itself gods, ghosts, and other supernatural forms to give it the connected relations between itself and the things and phenomena of nature which cannot be understood. Through the instrumentality of these supernatural forms, the imagination of a people is developed. Songs and legends originate, blending accounts of the lives and exploits of the living and dead with those of the supernatural beings, and in time these form literature and develop arts of great value to the people.
The ethnology of the peoples of the Pacific is an interesting and profitable field for study, and especially is this true of the Hawaiians, for during the period within the knowledge of man they have shown capacity for rapid intellectual development. In the dawn of their history they had no written language, but they were rich in songs and legends, not only of their own exploits, but also of their relations with the superior influences that guided their destinies. These were repeated at fireside and feast, until the imagination of the people became directive and resourceful. So there should be little wonder that they learned readily and that their transformation under organized government and institutions was rapid.
The chapters that follow are replete with the richness of the imagery peculiar to the Polynesian, and no doubt none will appreciate this volume of legends more than the people of Hawaii themselves. May it serve them as a light showing the path they have trod in passing through the valley of superstition to the high lands of truth and understanding.
The author is to be congratulated because of the patience and persistence with which he has worked in this little-known field of ethnology and also for the dearness and completeness of his narrative. As this part of the world comes
into the full measure of its importance may this book of "Legends of Ghosts and Ghost-gods" win wide appreciation as a contribution to our knowledge of the Pacific Islands.
J. W. GILMORE,
Professor of Agronomy,
University of California