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rev. john wood : tahiti, hawai'i, 1883 
John Wood  : The Uncivilized Races, 1868-1883.

Extracts and illustration from
Wood, John George:
The Uncivilized Races of Men in all Countries of the World
Volume II.
J. B. Burr & Co., Hartford, Conneticut, 1883.

Internet Archive

First edition:
Wood, John George:
The Uncivilized Races of Men in all Countries of the World
 : G. Routledge and Sons, London. 1868.

Illustration Publication Biography Extracts 1870 Edition

Wood's account of the Pacific islands, as probably the vast majority of this work, is compliled from previously published works.
There is a brief mention of surf-swimming in Tonga based on George Vason's Narrative, published in 1810, and a detailed account of canoe surfing in Tahiti, attributed to James Cook.
This is actually William Anderson's report at Matavi Bay in 1777, as published in the official account of Cook's third voyage, edited by John Douglas.
The report of Hawaii also quotes from official account of Cook's third voyage, supplemented with later material, probably from William Ellis' Polynesian Researches, 1830.
Note that the Tahitian account is sub-titled Surf Riding, whereas the sub-title for the Hawai'ian text, and the illustratation, is Surf Swimming.
Wood's cultural bias is exemplified by describing the Hawai'ian gourd headwear, illustrated in Masked Warriors on page 1089 (1883) showing the crew of an double war canoe, as  "a most ludicrous fashion." - page 1095 (1883).

The Illustration
The illustration Surf Swimming by Sandwich Island Natives  is probably one of the best and most accurate from the pre-photographic era.
A highly detailed image, it denotes various riding positions, stance, duck-diving, waves in sets, off-shore winds and significant wave height.
The artist is unknown, however the 1870 edition notes on the title page:
"With over 700 fine illustrations from new designs, by Zwecker, Anoas, Danby, Wolf, Handley, etc. etc"

The engravings are accredited to The Brothers Dalziel.

"The Brothers Dalziel were a highly productive firm of Victorian engravers founded in 1839 and until the advent of photo-mechanical processes, circa 1880, they were pre-eminent in their trade.
Examples of their work can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London."

- The Brothers Daziel

In 1883, a similar, but rather crude, illustration titled Sandwich Islanders Surf Riding, appeared in The Boy's Own Paper, published by the Religious Tract Society, London, and know to have included articles by Rev. John Wood.

- wikipedia.org: Boy's Own Paper (accessed 10 February 2013)
- stellabooks.com (accessed 10 February 2013)

For the illustration, see below.

The style and composition of the illustration bares a remarkable similarity to the work of Wallis Mackay, published in by Summer Cruising in the South Seas by Charles Warren Stoddard, published in 1874.

The first edition, titled Natural history of Man,  was published in two volumes by G. Routledge and Sons, London in 1868.
"Profusely illustrated with engravings by the brothers Dalziel," the illustration  Surf Swimming appears in Volume II along with the Hawai'ian surf riding text on pages 168-169.

- DeLaVega: Surf Literature (2004) page17.

The book was printed in multiple editions for the next  fifteen years.
it was printed in America and England by various publishers, with some modification of the title and variations in the formating and pagination.
The 1870 editon has the Hawai'ian text and the illustration on pages 437-439.
The Hawai'ian text appears on page 1092 of the 1883 edition, with the illustration following on page 1093.
As the 187onilne edition has been transcribed from microfilm, the online version of the 1883 edition is far more legible.
See: 1883 Edition

Known Editions
G. Routledge and Sons, London, 1868.
George Routledge, London, 1870.
American Publishing Co., Hartford, Conneticut, 1870.
J. B. Burr and Company, Hartford, 1870.
J. B. Burr, Hartford, Conneticut, 1871.
J.B. Burr and Hyde Publishers, Hartford, Conneticut (1870), 1872.
J. Brainard & Company, New York, 1873.
J.B. Burr Publishing Co., Hartford, Conneticut., 1875
J. B. Burr Publishing Co., 1876.
J. B. Burr Publishing Co, 1877.
J. B. Burr and Company, Hartford, Conneticut,1878.
J.A. Brainerd & Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, 1878.
J. A. Brainerd,, San Francisco:, 1882
J.A. Brainerd & Company, San Francisco, 1883.

John George Wood (1827-1889).
"English writer and lecturer on natural history, was born in London on the 21st of July 1827.
He was educated at Ashbourne grammar school and at Merton College, Oxford; and after he had taken his degree in 1848 he worked for two years in the anatomical museum at Christ Church under Sir Henry Acland.
In 1852 he was ordained a deacon of the Church of England, became curate of the parish of St Thomas the Martyr, Oxford, and also took up the post of chaplain to the Boatmen's Floating Chapel at Oxford.
He was ordained priest in 1854, and in that year gave up his curacy to devote himself for a time to literary work.
In 1858 he accepted a readership at Christ Church, Newgate Street, and he was assistant-chaplain to St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, from 1856 until 1862.
Between 1868 and 1876 he held the office of precentor to the Canterbury Diocesan Choral Union.
After 1876 he devoted himself to the production of books and to delivering in all parts of the country lectures on zoology, which he illustrated by drawing on a black-board or on large sheets of white-paper with colored crayons.
These "sketch lectures," as he called them, were very popular, and made his name widely known both in Great Britain and in the United States.
In 1883-1884 he delivered the Lowell lectures at Boston."

- "MRS HENRY WOOD." LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia. © 2003, 2004 LoveToKnow.

"As well as being editor of 'The Boys Own Magazine', Wood's numerous publications include 'Bees', 'The boy's own book of natural history', 'Animal traits and characteristics', 'The natural history of man', 'Half hours with a naturalist', 'Common British beetles', 'Illustrated natural history for young people', 'Natural history', his most important work.
He was most renowned for the series of books which began with 'Common Objects of the Seashore', many of which are held in the Whipple Library.

This article incorporates public domain text from: Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London, J.M. Dent & sons; New York, E.P. Dutton."

- http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/library/wood.html


Page 1062

The amusements of the Tahitans are much like those of other Polynesians, and therefore need but little description.
One of the most manly and graceful of these amusements closely resembles the surf swimming of the Sandwich Islanders, and is thus described by Captain Cook:

" Neither were they strangers to the soothing effects produced by particular sorts of motion, which in some cases seem to allay any perturbation of mind with as much success as music.
Of this I met with a remarkable instance.
For on walking one day about Matavai Point, where our tents were erected, I saw a man paddling in a small canoe so swiflly, and looking about
with such eagerness on each side, as to command all my attention.

" At first I imagined that he had stolen something from one of the ships, and was pursued, but on waiting patiently saw him repeat his amusement.
He went out from the shore till he was near the place where the swell begins to take its rise; and watching its first motion very attentively, paddled
before it with great quickness till he found that it overtook him, and had acquired sufficient force to carry his canoe before it without passing underneath.
He then sat motionless, and was carried along at the same swifl rate as the wave, till it landed him upon the beach, when he started out, emptied his canoe, and went in search of another swell.

"I could not help concluding that this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and so smoothly by the sea, especially as, though the tents and ships were so near, he did not seem in the least to envy, or even to take any notice of the crowds of his countrymen collected to view them as objects which were rare and curious."

" During my stay, two or three of the natives came up, who seemed to share his felicity, and always called out when there was an appearance of a favorable swell as he sometimes missed it by his back being turned and looking about for it
By this I understood that this exercise, which is called ...

Page 1063

... ehorooe was frequent amongst them, and they have probably more amusements of this sort, which afforded them at k»ast as much pleasure as skating, which is the only one of ours with whose effects I could compare it."'


Page 1091
We now come to the various games with ...

Page 1092

... which the Sandwich Islanders amuse themselves.
Chief among them is the sport of surf-swimming.
This is practised in several of the islands of Polynesia, but in none is it carried out to such perfection as in the Sandwich group.
The following spirited account of this sport is given in Captain Cook's Voyages:

" Swimming is not only a necessary art, in which both the men and women are more expert than any people we had hitherto seen, but a favorite diversion amongst them.
One particular mode in which they sometimes amused themselves with this exercise in Karakakooa Bay, appeared to us most perilous and extraordinary, and well deserving a distinct relation.

''The surf, which breaks on the coast round the bay, extends to the distance of about one hundred and fifty yards from the shore, within which space the surges of the sea, accumulated from the shallowness of the water, are dashed against the beach with prodigious violence.
Whenever from stormy weather, or any extraordinary swell at sea, the impetuosity of the surf is increased to its utmost height, they choose that time for this amusement, which is performed in the following manner:

" Twenty or thirty of the natives, taking each a long narrow board, rounded at the ends, set out together from the shore.
The first wave they meet they plunge under, and, suflfering it to roll over them, rise again beyond it, and make the best of their way by swimming out into the sea.
The second wave is encountered in the same manner with the first; the great difficulty consisting in seizing the proper moment of diving under it, which, if missed, the person is caught by the surf, and driven back again with great violence; and all his dexterity is then required to prevent himself from being dashed against the rocks.
As soon as they have attained, by these repeated efforts, the smootn water beyond tne surf, they lay themselves at length on their board, and
prepare for their return.
As the surf consists of a number of waves, of which every third is remarked to be always much larger than the others, and to flow higher on the
shore, the rest breaking in the intermediate space, their first object is to place themselves on the summit of the largest surge, by which they are driven along with amazing rapidity toward the shore.

"If by mistake they should place themselves on one of the smaller waves, which breaks up before they reach the land, or should not be able to keep their plank in a proper direction on the top of the swell, they are left exposed to the fury of the next, and, to avoid it, are obliged again to dive and regain the place from which they set out

"Those who succeed in their object of reaching the shore have still the greatest danger to encounter.
The coast being guarded by a chain of rocks, with here and there a small opening between them, they are obliged to steer their board through one of these, or, in case of failure, to quit it before they reach the rocks, and, plunging under the wave, make the best of their way back again. This is reckoned verv disgraceful, and is also attended with the loss of the board, which I have often seen, with great terror, dashed to pieces at the verv moment the islander quitted it.
The boldness and address with which we saw them perform these difficult and dangerous manoeuvres was altogether astonishing, and is scarcely to be credited."

These swimmers used often to pass nearly a mile seaward, in order to enjoy the rapid motion of their return as long as possible.
Both sexes and all ranks unite in it, and even the very chiefs themselves, who have attained to the corpulency which they so much admire, join in the game of surf-swimming with the meanest of their subjects.
Some of the performers attain to a wonderful degree or skill, and, not content with lying on the board, sit, kneel, and even stand on it as they are hurled shoreward by the giant waves.
The boards are of various sizes, according to the age and stature of the owner.
For adults they are about six feet in length.
They are slightly convex on both sides, and are kept very smooth all surf-swimmers cherishing a pride in the condition of their boards, and taking care to keep them well polished and continually rubbed with cocoa-nut oil.
The artist has finely represented on the following page the marvellous conquest of the sea by tnese islanders.

Such utter mastery of the waves can only be obtained by familiarity with the water from earliest childhood.
A Sandwich Island child can swim as soon as it can walk, if not sooner, the mothers taking them from the breast, laying them on the surface of the water and encouraging them to kick about as if lying on their mats ashore.
One writer mentions his encounter with an object which he took to be a very large frog, but which turned out to be a Kanaka (Sandwich Island) baby, which was l^nff on its back and disporting itself quite at its ease.

Indeed, in the mind of a Sandwich Islander there seems to be no connection between the ideas of water and danger, neither does it enter his imagination that any human being is unable to swim.
Consequently, there have been several instances where white men have fallen into the water and have been almost drowned, though in
the presence of the natives, simply because the idea that any one could be endangered by falling into the water never occurred to them.

They are equally skilfull in managing ...
Page 1093

(See page 1092.)

Page 1094


Page 1095

... their canoes, and have a curious mode of extracting amusement out of them.
A number of men will sometimes paddle a canoe after dressing themselves up m a most ludicrous fashion.
They take large empty gourds, and put them over their heads, atter cutting holes in them corresponding with the eyes and nose, so that the effect is not at air unlike that of a turnip lantern.
To the upper part of the gourd is attached a bunch of slender green twigs, which look at a little distance like a plume of feathers, and to the lower part are suspended a number of narrow strips of cloth, looking like a long beard.
Their appearance is shown in illustration No. 2, on the 1089th page.(below)

In every case where these masks were worn, the wearers seemed exceedingly jovial, laughing, shouting, and playing all kinds of antics.
It was suggested that these masks were in fact helmets, used to protect the wearers against the stones slung by their adversaries; but the whole demeanor of those who wore them was so completely that of mere masqueraders that the helmet theory seems quite untenable.

Page 1089

(See page 1085.)


Sandwich Islands Surf Riding.

Published in:
The Boy's Own Paper
Religious Tract Society, London , 1883.

Probably reprinted in:
The Boy's Own Annual 
Volume 15
October 1892 - October 1893.
The Boy's Own Paper, London. 

Possibly reprinted in:
The Boy's Own Annual 
Volume 16
October 1892 - October 1893.
The Boy's Own Paper, London. 

Reproduced in 
Surfing in Hawaii (2011) page 20.

Wood, John George:
 The Uncivilized Races, or, 
Natural History of Man.
Vol. II
American Publishing Company, 
Hartford, Conneticut,1870.

Wood, John George:
The Uncivilized Races of Men 
in all Countries of the World.
Vol. II
J.A. Brainerd & Company, 
San Francisco, 1883..

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Geoff Cater (2006-2013) : John Wood : Uncivilised Races, 1883.