Georg Forster

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Georg Forster at age 26, by J. H. W. Tischbein, 1781

Georg Forster (November 27, 1754January 10, 1794) was a German naturalist, ethnologist, travel writer, journalist and revolutionary.


A Voyage Round the World (1777)[edit]

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  • It is very natural to overlook that which is near home, and as it were within our reach, especially when the mind looks forward, on discoveries which it reckons more important, in proportion as they are more remote.
    • Book I, ch. I, Departure - Passage from Plymouth to Madeira - Description of that Island.
  • When we saw the most beautiful fishes of the sea, the dolphin and bonito, in pursuit of the flying fish, and when these forsook their native element to seek for shelter in air, the application to human nature was obvious. What empire is not like a tumultuous ocean, where the great in all the magnificence and pomp of power, continually persecute and contrive the destruction of the defenceless? - Sometimes we saw this picture continued still farther, when the poor fugitives met with another set of enemies in the air, and became the prey of birds, by endeavouring to escape the jaws of fishes.
    • Book I, ch. II, The Passage from Madeira to the Cape Verd Islands, and from thence to the Cape of Good Hope.
  • [...] each vulgar opinion, proved to be erroneous, is an approximation to truth [...].
    • Book I, ch. II, The Passage from Madeira to the Cape Verd Islands, and from thence to the Cape of Good Hope.
  • It is the natural fault of young people to think too well of mankind [...].
    • Book I, ch. II, The Passage from Madeira to the Cape Verd Islands, and from thence to the Cape of Good Hope.
  • It is unhappy enough that the unavoidable consequence of all our voyages of discovery, has always been the loss of a number of innocent lives; but this heavy injury done to the little uncivilized communities which Europeans have visited, is trifling when compared to the irretrievable harm entailed upon them by corrupting their morals. If these evils were in some measure compensated by the introduction of some real benefit in these countries, or by the abolition of some other immoral customs among their inhabitants, we might at least comfort ourselves, that what they lost on one hand, they gained on the other; but I fear that hitherto our intercourse has been wholly disadvantageous to the nations of the South Seas; and that those communities have been the least injured, who have always kept aloof from us, and whose jealous disposition did not suffer our sailors to become too familiar among them, as if they had perceived in their countenances that levity of disposition, and that spirit of debauchery, with which they are generally reproached.
    • Book I, ch. VI, Stay at the New Year's Islands. Discovery of lands to the southward. Return to the Cape of Good Hope.
  • A man wholly destitute of philanthropy is a monster, justly detested by all mankind; but another, entirely incapable of anger, is a sheepish wretch, liable to be insulted by every mean-spirited villain.
    • Book III, ch. II, Account of our stay at Tanna, and departure from the New Hebrides.

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