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Title: New Guinea Author: Charles Lyne * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1400631h.html Language: English Date first posted: February 2014 Date most recently February 2014 Produced by: Ned Overton. Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
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PROCLAIMING THE PROTECTORATE.
SPECIAL COMMISSIONER FOR THE "SYDNEY MORNING HERALD."
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE & RIVINGTON,
CROWN BUILDINGS, 188, FLEET STREET.
(All rights reserved.)
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.
The following pages give an account of the establishment of the British Protectorate over New Guinea by Commodore J. E. Erskine, A.D.C., in H.M.S. Nelson, in November last, and also a description of the country and its inhabitants. The Nelson and the other men-of-war cruised along almost the whole of the southern coast, and as far eastward as East Cape, visiting various centres of population, and staying sufficiently long at each to enable most on board the vessels to make themselves acquainted with the natives and their modes of existence, and in this manner a great deal of New Guinea and its people was seen.
The contents of this book were gathered by the writer in his capacity of Special Commissioner to the Sydney Morning Herald, and the only accredited newspaper correspondent travelling with the expedition. They have already in another form appeared in the columns of the newspaper mentioned, but it is thought that the information given of the country and its inhabitants, and the opportunities offered for white settlement, should have more than a local circulation, and it is believed that the book will prove not only interesting to the general reader—in Great Britain as well as in Australia—but also valuable to any one who contemplates visiting, or, when settlement shall be permitted, trying his fortune in, this latest and important addition to the British Empire.
Just before the departure of Commodore Erskine from Australia for England, the writer received from him the following letter, with reference to the publication of this book:—
"Government House, Tasmania,
"Saturday, Jan. 31.
"Dear Mr. Lyne,
"I write in answer to yours, which I received just as I was on the point of departure from Sydney, to say that I am glad to hear that you propose to republish the articles which have already appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, giving an account of our interesting cruise to New Guinea, as I feel sure they will prove to be as interesting as I know them to be reliable.
"Yours very faithfully,
"James E. Erskine."
Arrival of H.M.S. Nelson at Port Moresby—Assembling of New Guinea Chiefs—Presenting to the Head Chief an Emblem of Authority—Proclamation of the Protectorate, and hoisting the British Flag on Shore
The Native Village and the Natives at Port Moresby—Curiously formed Houses—Native Manners and Customs—Interesting Sights—The Village School—A Trading Voyage—A Village in the Trees
Visit to Hall Sound—A Lovely Island—Interesting Experiences of Savage Life—Picturesque Dress of the Native Chiefs—A New Guinea Queen—Proclaiming the Protectorate at Delena—A Mission House and its Inmates—Photographing the Queen
Influence of the Rev. J. Chalmers among the Natives—Landing through the Surf to collect Chiefs—Reception by the Natives—A Frightened Chief
Arrival at Motu Motu—"We want no Clubs here"—A Repulsive-looking Savage—Exciting Battle with the Surf—Native Women and Girls—Curious Mode of Feminine Adornment—A Singular Village—A New Guinea Beauty—A Motu Motu Dandy—The "Noble Savage" Delusion
A Second Visit to Port Moresby—Excursions Inland—Similarity of the Country to Australia—The Native Plantations
Departure for Hood Bay—The Reefs on the Coast—Native Village of Kerepunu—Remarkable Houses—Native Diseases—Climbing Cocoanut Trees—Beating the Native Drums—The Finest Chief in New Guinea—Ceremony of hoisting the Flag—Exhibition of Native Warfare—"Sneaking Murderers"
Queensland Labour Vessels—Escapees and Returned Natives—A Tragic Story
The Man-catcher—Death of a Noted Chief—Amazon Island—Enchanting Scenery—The Chief of the Village—Natives in Mourning—An Interesting Ceremony
Argyle Bay—A Charming Coast-line—The Native Villages Driving a Bargain—Thievish Habits of the Natives—Native Burial—Suspicion as to the Real Object of the Protectorate—Some of the Results from the Visits of the Labour Vessels
The Mission Station at South Cape—Cloudy Mountain—Attack on the Mission Houses—A Terrible Time—Signs of Cannibalism—A Horrible Present—Decorated Human Skulls—Picturesque Native Graves—The South Cape Canoes
Returning Native Labour to their Homes—Remarkable and Affecting Scene—Joy to some Homes, and others left in Sorrow—How the Labour Vessels entrap the Natives
Dinner Island—An Enormous War-canoe—Evidences of Fever—Cannibal Signs again—Rescuing a Girl from Cannibals—A Shocking Scene—A Labour-vessel Incident—The Killerton Islands—Wounded Natives—Challenging H.M.S. Swinger
In the Midst of Cannibals—A Cannibal Feast—Cannibal Chiefs on Board the Nelson—An Interesting Interview
Teste Island—Remarkable Upheavals from the Sea—The Last Ceremony on Shore—The Commodore's Concluding Address—Homeward bound
General Observations—The People of New Guinea and their Productions—Opportunities for White Settlement—No Signs of Gold—The Climate—Fever—Hostility of Natives—Missionary Experiences, and Results of Missionary Labours
Proclaiming the Protectorate Frontispiece
Native House and Canoes
Trading Canoes at Delena Village, Hall Sound
A New Guinea Queen
A Banana Plantation
Among the Cocoanuts
Hoisting the British Flag
A Village near South Cape
Arrival of H.M.S. "Nelson" at Port Moresby—Assembling OF New Guinea Chiefs—Presenting to the Head Chief an Emblem of Authority—Proclamation of the Protectorate, and hoisting the British Flag on Shore.
Commodore Erskine, in H.M.S. Nelson, arrived at Port Moresby on Sunday, the 2nd of November, 1884, and the Union Jack now flies from the flagstaff at the mission station, the proclamation of a British Protectorate having been made with much ceremony on Thursday, November 6. The Nelson entered Port Moresby at midday on the Sunday, followed shortly afterwards by H.M.S. Espiegle, from Cooktown, with Mr. H. M. Chester on board. In the harbour at anchor were H.M.S. Raven, Swinger, and Harrier, The last-named vessel had on board Mr. Deputy-Commissioner Romilly, who, when the Nelson had come to anchor, startled everybody by coming on board and informing the Commodore that the ceremony of proclaiming the British Protectorate and the hoisting of the British flag had been already performed at Port Moresby. It appears that Mr. Romilly received at Cooktown a telegram from Lord Derby, informing him of the establishment of the Protectorate, and directing him to notify that the settlement and purchase of land were forbidden. Conceiving that this meant an instruction to proclaim the Protectorate, and not knowing that Commodore Erskine was on his way to New Guinea, Deputy-Commissioner Romilly, who came to Port Moresby in H.M.S. Harrier, from Cooktown, made arrangements for issuing a proclamation, and marking the event with a ceremony. A proclamation was accordingly drawn up in accordance with the telegram from Lord Derby, which described the extent of the Protectorate as from the, Dutch boundary to East Cape and the islands adjacent to it, eastward to Kosman Island; and on the day after H.M.S. Nelson left Sydney, and in the presence of the Port Moresby natives, and Captain Wilcox and twenty blue-jackets from H.M.S. Harrier the proclamation was read, the flag was hoisted, and the blue-jackets fired a feu-de-joie.
It was evident, the moment the news was received on board H.M.S. Nelson, that this ceremony could not be recognized as authoritative or legal, and it was decided that it should be explained to the natives as being only preliminary to the duly authorized and proper ceremony to be performed by the Commodore, whose preparations were therefore proceeded with as though nothing had happened. It was the Commodore's desire that the establishment of the Protectorate should be made known among as many of the native tribes as it was possible to visit, and to carry out that idea it was necessary that as many chiefs as could be induced to come should be got together, and that this should be done by H.M.S. Nelson visiting the various native centres along the south coast, and then, with the assistance of one or more of the other men-of-war, and the missionaries, collecting from around those centres the chiefs of the different tribes, and proclaiming the Protectorate in their presence. The first and principal ceremony, it was arranged, should take place at Port Moresby, and, accordingly, early on Tuesday, November 4, H.M.S. Espiegle and Raven left their anchorage for the purpose of collecting the chiefs of the branches of the Motu tribe and the tribes adjacent within a certain distance east and west of Port Moresby; the Espiegle, on board of which was the Rev. J. Chalmers, going east as far as Round Head, and the Raven, taking with her a native teacher, going west as far as Redscar Bay. The other chiefs were to be brought in overland by the Rev. W. G. Lawes. The Espiegle and Raven returned on the Wednesday, both with chiefs on board, and the former with two who had been at war with each other the day before the vessel arrived, the quarrel having arisen through a dispute in reference to payment for a girl who had been stolen, and having ended with the killing and wounding of several natives and the burning of a village. On the Wednesday afternoon the chiefs and a number of other natives were brought on board H.M.S. Nelson, and a grand assembly took place, with a feast for the chiefs and an address from the Commodore, a presentation of gifts attractive to the native eye, and the firing of some of the ship's guns. The flags of various nations were hung over the quarter-deck in the form of an awning, and the officers wore frock coats and swords. Most of the chiefs were destitute of clothing, the mop-like hair and foreheads of some of them being bound round with bands of small shells, and the hair ornamented with tufts of feathers. Two or three wore old shirts, and one Boe Vagi, the chief of the Port Moresby natives, who was appointed by the Commodore to be the head chief of the Motu tribe, was dressed in a shirt, with a handkerchief round his loins, a red felt hat on his head (the hat having been given to him by Mr. Chester when the flag was hoisted in 1883), and some green leaves through the lobe of his left ear. Evidently he had been attired specially for the occasion, as his usual dress is as scanty as that of his fellows. There were in all about fifty of the chiefs, most of them being representatives of the Motu tribe; and, after having been permitted to look round the ship, they were directed by the missionaries, Messrs. Lawes and Chalmers, to seat themselves upon the deck. Then a great tub of boiled rice, sweetened with brown sugar, was brought on deck, and basins of this mixture were handed round to the chiefs, who received them, and devoured the rice with evident satisfaction. Ship biscuits were also served out, and the scene presented by the feasting savages, and by the grouping of the Nelson's officers and the parading of the blue-jackets on the opposite side of the deck—so that a photograph might be taken of the whole assembly—was exceedingly interesting and picturesque.
When the feasting was over, Commodore Erskine, attended by Mr. H. L. Warren, his secretary. Captain Bridge, of H.M.S. Espiegle, Deputy-Commissioner Romilly, Mr. H. M. Chester, and Messrs. Lawes and Chalmers, came upon deck, and the chief, Boe Vagi, having been invited by Mr. Lawes to come forward, the Commodore addressed him and his fellow-chiefs, and said:
"I have asked you to come on board to-day in order that I may explain to you about the ceremony which will take place to-morrow on shore. I have been sent to this place to notify and proclaim that her Majesty the Queen has established a Protectorate over the southern shores of New Guinea, and in token of that event I am directed to hoist the British flag at Port Moresby and at other places along the coast and islands. To-morrow, therefore, I intend to hoist the English flag here, and to read a proclamation which will be duly translated to you, and copies of which I hope to be able to send you printed in your own language, and in the mean time an English copy will be given to each chief for the information of the people. I desire, on behalf of her Majesty the Queen, to explain to you the meaning of the ceremonial which you are about to witness. It is a proclamation that from this time forth you are placed under the protection of her Majesty's Government; that evil-disposed men will not be able to occupy your country, to seize your lands, or to take you away from your own homes. I have been instructed to say to you that what you have seen done here to-day on board her Majesty's ship of war, and which will be done again to-morrow on shore, is to give you the strongest assurance of her Majesty's gracious protection of you, and to warn bad and evil-disposed men that if they attempt to do you harm they will be promptly punished by the officers of the Queen. Your lands will be secured to you; your wives and children will be protected. Should any injury be done to you, you will immediately inform her Majesty's officers, who will reside amongst you, and they will hear your complaints, and do you justice. You will look upon all white persons whom the Queen permits to reside amongst you as your friends and her Majesty's subjects. The Queen will permit nobody to reside here who does you injury. You will under no circumstances inflict punishment upon any white person; but if such person has done you wrong you will tell her Majesty's officers of that wrong, in order that the case may be fairly inquired into. You must know that it is for your security, and to prevent bloodshed, that the Queen sends me here to you, and will send her officers to live amongst you. And now I hope that you clearly understand that we are here amongst you as your friends. You will all keep peace amongst yourselves, and if you have disputes with each other, you will bring them before the Queen's officers, who will settle them for you without bloodshed. Should bad men come amongst you, bringing firearms and gunpowder and intoxicating liquors, you are not to buy them, and are to give notice at once to the Queen's officers, so that such men may be punished. Always keep in your minds that the Queen guards and watches over you, looks upon you as her children, and will not allow any one to harm you, and will soon send her trusted officers to carry out her gracious intentions in the establishment of this Protectorate."
At the Commodore's request Mr. Lawes read a translation of this address in the Motu language, the chiefs listening attentively; and when Mr. Lawes had concluded, the Commodore, again addressing the chiefs, said:
"I want to inform you that I have been sent here to proclaim this Protectorate, and that the Queen will very shortly send a high officer to take charge of the Protectorate, and that I am ordered, when I depart from New Guinea, to place the Protectorate in the charge of this officer, Mr. Romilly. This officer" (pointing to Mr. Romilly) "will be the representative of the Queen until the high officer the Queen appoints comes here to undertake your protection."
Then calling the chief Boe Vagi forward, Commodore Erskine shook hands with him, and introduced him to Mr. Romilly, and the Commodore's intimation of the appointment of a High Commissioner for New Guinea, and his explanation of Mr. Romilly's position, were interpreted to the chiefs by Mr. Lawes. This was followed by the appointment of Boe Vagi as head chief of the Motu tribe. It appears that the chiefs of a tribe of natives on Guinea recognize no one of their number as head or principal chief; and as the continuance of such a custom would make it very difficult for the High Commissioner or his deputy to deal effectually with matters connected with the natives which from time to time may require attention, Commodore Erskine saw the necessity for selecting from a tribe the chief possessing the highest claim to be regarded as the most important chief in his district and investing him with such authority as would make him the means of communication with the Commissioner respecting any matter which any branch or member of the tribe might desire to bring to the Commissioner's knowledge. Accordingly Boe Vagi was selected for the position of head chief of the Motu tribe. To make his appointment more distinct, he was presented with an emblem of authority in the form of an ebony stick with a florin let in at the top, the Queen's head being uppermost, and encircled by a band of silver. Handing to Boe Vagi this stick, the Commodore said:
"I present him with this stick, which is to be an emblem to him of his authority; and all the tribes who are represented by the chiefs here are to look to the holder of this stick, Boe Vagi. This stick represents the Queen's head, the Queen of England; and if at any time any of the people of these tribes have any grievance or anything to say, they are, through this man, the holder of this stick, Boe Vagi, to make it known to the Queen's officer, in order that it may be inquired into. This stick is to be the symbol of his authority, and all the tribes are to have communication through him with the Queen's officer."
This was interpreted by Mr. Lawes, and photographs of the scene were taken, one of the groups representing the Commodore shaking hand with Boe Vagi, who stood with his emblem of authority in his left hand.
Directed then to descend to the main deck, the chiefs walked one after the other into the Commodore's cabin, where each received a present consisting of a tomahawk, a butcher's knife, a coloured shirt, or a piece of coloured cloth, and some figs of twist tobacco. It was a curious sight to see these chiefs, some of them very old men, but others young, erect, and muscular, filing in at one door, and, after shaking hands with the Commodore and receiving a present, leaving by the other; and it was very amusing to notice how startled some of them were at suddenly discovering themselves in a large pier-glass, which they had to pass before leaving the cabin. The Commodore did not fail to point out, through Mr. Lawes, to the chief who had burnt the village of another, that for the future he would not be allowed to commit such an act, and must through the Queen's officers seek redress for any grievance he might have; and the man was evidently impressed by what was said to him.
After the chiefs had received their presents, the firing off of some of the guns of the ship took place, so that the natives might be interested by seeing what could be done in the way of firing at long distances. A Nordenfeldt was directed at a target in the water, and a Gatling was placed in the foretop, and several rounds of ball cartridges were fired, to the evident astonishment of the chiefs; but what filled them with the greatest wonder was the firing and bursting of a shell, and afterwards the firing of a shot from one of the 18-ton guns at a range of nearly four thousand yards. This ended the day's proceedings, and the chiefs left with the missionaries for the shore; but at night the Nelson was brilliantly illuminated with blue lights at the yardarms and at the ports facing the village, and the electric light was exhibited. Rockets shot up into the air from the Nelson and the Espiegle, and the Nelson's steam fog-horn, known on board as the "Siren," and possessing the power of making a most unearthly noise, was sounded.
At half-past six next morning the landing of officers and men from the squadron for the purpose of publicly proclaiming the establishment of the Protectorate and hoisting the British, flag commenced. The general order issued by the Commodore directed that the dress for officers should be cocked hat, undress coat, and epaulettes; the dress for seamen white frocks and hats, and that for marines white tunics and helmets. There was, consequently, a very attractive display of uniforms, and altogether it was an exceedingly interesting spectacle. The early hour appointed for the landing permitted of the ceremony being performed at a time of day when the heat, which was intense while the Nelson was on the coast, was not likely to be very trying to the men. The water of the harbour lay placid as a lake, with the ships of war far out from the shore, and here and there native canoes moving slowly along or resting idly on the surface; and the hills and valleys were green and shaded from the sun, and wore that refreshing appearance which is notable when the trees and the grass have been bathed in dew, and when the sun's rays are strong enough only to make the dewdrops sparkle, and to deepen the shadows in the recesses where the sunlight has not yet penetrated. The boats conveying the officers and men to the shore, each flying the white ensign, imparted life and colour to the scene upon the water, and nothing could be more picturesque and beautiful than the view on shore, where the houses of the native village bordering the beach, with their brown occupants gazing in amazement on what was taking place before them, were shaded by a grove of cocoanut palms, the refreshing dark-green fronds being rivalled only by the lighter green of the plantations of banana trees on the sides of the hills, which, rising high above the village, were, notwithstanding the evidence of cultivation by the natives and the existence of the little mission settlement, dressed in almost all their native loveliness, and robed in delicately tinted morning mists. Inside the enclosed ground around the mission house, and on a spot commanding a view of almost the entire harbour, was the flagstaff, on which the flag had been hoisted by Mr. Chester and by Mr. Romilly, and which was now to display the flag hoisted with the authority of the Queen by Commodore Erskine; and it was around this flagstaff that the troops were drawn up in a hollow square, the men facing inwards, with the officers to the front, and the Commodore and his suite standing with the missionaries and Mr. Chester on the verandah of the mission house. The native chiefs who had been on board the Nelson were seated in a picturesque group on the ground, immediately in front of the Commodore; and other natives and a few white spectators stood in a crowd at the rear of the blue-jackets. The only representative of English women present was Mrs. Lawes, wife of the Rev. W. G. Lawes, who was accommodated with a chair, and sat near the Commodore and the officers on either side of him.
The landing party from the ships consisted of two companies of blue-jackets, numbering ninety men, and one company of marines, to the number of forty-six men, belonging to the Nelson, fifty blue-jackets and marines from the Espiegle, twenty-five from the Raven, and ten from the Harrier. Besides these there was a band and colour party from the Nelson. Captain Bridge, of the Espiegle, had general charge of the arrangements; Commander W. H. Henderson commanded the Nelson's men, who formed the firing-party; and Lieutenant Ommanney, of the Espiegle, with Lieutenant Thompson, of the same ship. Lieutenant Lucas, of the Raven, and Mr. Broadhurst, boatswain of the Harrier, was in command of the unarmed party. Lieutenant Tillard, of the Nelson, was the officer in charge of the battalion, and under Commander W. H. Henderson there were the following officers from the Nelson:—Lieutenant Fenton and Major Dowding, R.M.L.I., as battalion leaders; Lieutenant Hon. G. Digby, Lieutenant Portman, and Lieutenant Drake, R.M.A., commanding companies; Midshipmen Henniker and Sullivan as guards of No. 1 Company, and Midshipmen Cleeve and Blackett as guards of No. 2 Company. The colours were carried by Midshipmen Walter and Hunter. The Commodore was attended by his secretary, Mr. H. L. Warren, Deputy-Commissioner Romilly, Staff-Commander Osborne, Fleet-Surgeon Knott, Paymaster Bowen, Chief-Engineer Giles, and Rev. W. G. Lawes; and among the officers who received him when he landed were Lieutenant-Commander Ross, of H.M.S. Raven, and Lieutenant-Commander Wilcox, of H.M.S. Harrier, Sub-Lieutenant Gaunt and Midshipman Hon. D. Lambton, of the Nelson, acted as the Commodore's A.D.C.'s; Midshipman Tollemache was A.D.C. to Captain Bridge; and Midshipman Shepherd A.D.C. to Commander Henderson. The other officers present were—from the Nelson, Surgeon Pickthorn, Lieutenant Thynne, Assistant-Paymasters Cubitt and Greenwood, Engineers Warrington and Medus, and Clerk Banon; and from the Espiegle, Staff-Surgeon Irvine, Paymaster Matthew, Assistant-Paymaster Forand. Remaining on board the Nelson, to salute the flag immediately it was hoisted on shore, and to dress the ship with bunting, were First Lieutenant E. E. Maxwell, Surgeon Dow, and Sub-Lieutenant H. G. Smith.
Immediately the blue-jackets had landed they were marched up the hill to the mission compound, but the marines remained upon the beach until the Commodore landed, when they presented arms, and afterwards, with bayonets fixed, marched with the band to join the blue-jackets in front of the mission house. This structure is a long weatherboard building of one story, with a wide verandah, the principal portion of which faces the harbour; but the eastern end is towards the hills and the palm trees, and it was at this end where the Commodore stood and proclaimed the establishment of the Protectorate. On the Commodore appearing before the troops they presented arms, and he then read the following proclamation:—
"Proclamation on behalf of her Most Gracious Majesty Victoria, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, establishing a Protectorate of her Most Gracious Majesty over a portion of New Guinea and the islands adjacent thereto.
"To all to whom these presents shall come, greeting:
"Whereas it has become essential, for the protection of the lives and properties of the native inhabitants of New Guinea, and for the purpose of preventing the occupation of portions of that country by persons whose proceedings, unsanctioned by any lawful authority, might tend to injustice, strife, and bloodshed, and who, under the pretence of legitimate trade and intercourse, might endanger the liberties and possess themselves of the lands of such native inhabitants, that a British Protectorate should be established over a certain portion of such country and the islands adjacent thereto.
"And whereas her Majesty, having taken into her gracious consideration the urgent necessity of her protection to such inhabitants, has directed me to proclaim such protection in a formal manner at this place: Now, I, James Elphinstone Erskine, captain in the Royal Navy, and commodore of the Australian station, one of her Majesty's naval aides-de-camp, do hereby, in the name of her Most Gracious Majesty, declare and proclaim the establishment of such Protectorate over such portions of the coast and the adjacent islands as is more particularly described in the schedule hereunto annexed.
"And I hereby proclaim and declare that no acquisition of land, whensoever or howsoever acquired, within the limits of the Protectorate hereby established, will be recognized by her Majesty; And I do hereby, on behalf of her Majesty, command and enjoin all persons whom it may concern to take notice of this proclamation.
"All that portion of the southern shores of New Guinea commencing from the boundary of that portion of the country claimed by the Government of the Netherlands on the 141st meridian of east longitude to East Cape, with all islands adjacent thereto south of East Cape to Kosman Island inclusive, together with the islands in the Goschen Straits.
"Given on board her Majesty's ship Nelson, at the harbour of Port Moresby, on the 6th day of November, 1884.
"God Save the Queen."
This was interpreted to the natives by the Rev. W. G. Lawes, who, at the request of Commodore Erskine, had translated it into the Motu language; and then, by direction of the Commodore, the Union Jack was slowly raised to the truck of the flagstaff by Sub-Lieutenant Gaunt, who filled the position of Flag-Lieutenant of H.M.S. Nelson, The troops immediately presented arms, and as the flag was ascending the band played a bar of the National Anthem, a salute of twenty-one guns was fired from the Nelson, and the ships of war were almost instantaneously dressed with flags from stem to stern, the royal standard flying conspicuously from the Nelson's main. When the Nelson had saluted the flag and the firing had ceased, the troops fired a feu-de-joie of three rounds, the band playing a bar of the National Anthem after each of the first two rounds, and two bars after the third.
All this not a little astonished the natives, though some of those whose homes were at Port Moresby had witnessed the firing of a feu-de-joie before; but though the firing startled some of them, it had, with the general display, the effect of impressing them all with some sense of the solemn importance of the ceremony that was being performed. The firing-party were then ordered to shoulder arms, and the Commodore, addressing all present at the ceremony but the natives, said:
"Officers and Men, Mr. Romilly and Gentlemen, This interesting and important ceremony being now formally concluded, it only remains for me, in her Majesty's name, to express the fervent hope that under the blessing of Almighty God the establishment of this Protectorate may conduce to the peace, happiness, and welfare of the people of this vast territory. May the British flag, which we have this day planted on these shores, be to the people of this portion of New Guinea the symbol of their freedom and their liberty, and the proclamation which I have just read the charter of their rights and privileges. May it be to them a Protectorate in deed as well as in name, protecting them alike from the encroachments of foreigners and the aggressive or unlawful actions of persons of any other nationality; may the blessings of civilization and Christianity, the seeds of which have been already sown by English hands in the persons of the brave and good men present on this occasion, increase and multiply exceedingly amongst them! And lastly, as the Union Jack, which has on several former occasions been hoisted on the shores of New Guinea and the adjacent islands, is on this day for the first time displayed and hoisted on New Guinea under the authority and by the command of her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, I most fervently pray that the establishment of a British Protectorate on these shores may tend to ensure the integrity and inviolability of the great Australian colonies, and promote the best interests of their people; and I trust that this important step may be attended with the happiest results, and redound to the honour of her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, for whom I now invite you to give three hearty cheers."
The call was right loyally responded to, and, with Captain Bridge leading, three British cheers rang out and echoed among the hills; and then, with a royal salute, the troops once more presenting arms, the ceremony was brought to a close.
The Native Village and the Natives at Port Moresby—Curiously formed Houses—Native Manners and Customs—Interesting Sights—The Village School—A Trading Voyage—A Village in the Trees.
The native village and the mission station at Port Moresby have been built close to the water's edge, the houses of the natives mostly in the water itself, and the mission house on the high land of one of the hills which rise, with little flat land about them, from the beach. The native village is a very curious place. It consists of three collections of houses, which are made of the leaf of the pandanus, used as a kind of thatch, fastened to a light framework of wood, and resting upon wooden props, or slender piles, driven into the sand, so that the tide washes around them. They look like a lot of haystacks raised to escape the effects of a flood. At each end of a house there is a doorway, but there is no window in any part of the structure, and the interior is generally dark and sombre-looking. Access to a house is obtained by means of a roughly constructed ladder, which ascends from the beach to a platform made of poles and of planks cut from the sides of old canoes, and the platform is available for the double purpose of affording sitting accommodation for a family of natives in the afternoon, when the whole population of the village is outside enjoying the fresh air, and of enabling the natives to pass from a house fronting the beach to one or more houses in its immediate rear. The natives literally swarm about the houses, the men destitute of any sign of clothing, and the women and girls wearing a petticoat made of pandanus fibre, which descends from the waist almost to the knees. The women do most of the work connected with the tribe. The men make the fences around the plantations and dig up the ground, and they fish; but the women do everything else. In front of most of the houses many of the women, particularly the very old ones, are constantly engaged in preparing clay for the manufacture of earthenware pots, which are made absolutely by the hand, and then baked in ordinary wood fires on the ground. These pots are the chief articles of trade with the Port Moresby natives, and they are taken along the coast and exchanged for sago and other articles of food.
The men, when at home, unless there is something very special for them to do, sit or saunter about without occupation, and give an observer the impression that they are very indolent and not over-clean. They are a small race of light copper-coloured people, with coarse black and brown hair standing out from the head like an immense mop, and with ornaments consisting of bands of dogs' teeth and shells twisted around the head to keep the hair from encroaching too much upon the forehead; shell necklaces and large pieces of pearl, crescent-shaped, which are greatly prized by the women, around their necks; and long, narrow, and rounded pieces of shell, like a cone and slightly curved, through the septum of the nose. Sticking out from their hair is an instrument used as a comb, but made of three sticks bound at one end, so that at the other they shall appear like three prongs several inches in length; and some of these combs are ornamented with feathers, and then the natives appear as though they were decorated with a plume.
NATIVE HOUSE AND CANOES.
From the experiences gained amongst these natives while the Nelson was at Port Moresby, their principal desire seemed to be tobacco, or koko as they call it, which they smoke in large bamboo pipes by a very singular method. Only the commonest twist tobacco, known as trade tobacco, suits their tastes, and when about to smoke a bit of this is broken into shreds by one of them, who is frequently a girl. It is then wrapped in a leaf into the form of a rude cigarette, which is placed in a small hole near the closed end of the bamboo pipe and lighted. The girl applies her mouth to the open end of the bamboo, which she fills with smoke, and then withdrawing the cigarette the pipe is handed round, each native inhaling from the hole where the cigarette has been as much of the smoke as his mouth will hold, and emitting it from mouth and nostrils until the quantity in the pipe has been exhausted.
Some very interesting, as well as repulsive, sights are met with by a visitor to the village. When strolling through in the afternoon, it is interesting to watch the method in preparing food, or in making earthenware pots or fishing-nets, or in watching the children skip about and play, which they do with as much innocence and glee as English children; but it is repulsive to notice that many of the natives, especially the children, suffer from loathsome sores, and that some of the habits of the village are very objectionable to European ideas of propriety. The village swarms with pigs and dogs, mostly young ones, and it is not an uncommon thing to see a native woman suckling her child at one breast and a dog at the other, the dog receiving quite as much attention as the child. It is equally common to see a 'native of one sex intently examining the head of one of the other sex, and eating with evident satisfaction what is found. There is also the unclean practice, which is followed by the natives of some other islands, of chewing the betel nut, and at the same time filling the mouth with lime, taken by means of a stick from a gourd, in which the lime is kept. This has the effect of greatly discolouring the teeth, and imparting to the mouth a very unsightly reddish appearance. On the other hand, cakes and fish are baked in a cleanly way, being wrapped in banana leaves and laid on the embers; and though a whole family may sit around a dish containing a meal of mashed yams, or sago and cocoanut, they eat in a decent manner with spoons made from the shell of the cocoanut.
Most of the children attend the mission school, and an exceedingly interesting scene was witnessed in the school by the Commodore during his stay at Port Moresby, after returning from the west. It was arranged that he would visit the school one afternoon, and the ringing of the bell, which hangs from the branch of a tree in full hearing of the village, brought together about 120 children, the boys in the nude condition usual with them, and the girls dressed in their fibre petticoats. The children were seated on the floor of the schoolroom—a long cool building, with walls and a roof made of the pandanus leaf, and the floor of boards from old canoes—the boys on one side and the girls on the other; and behind the children were the native teachers and their wives. The children manifested all the interest and obedience expected from European children, and they were examined by Mr. Chalmers. They sang, answered questions in geography, counted in English from one to a hundred, and gave the English for several phrases in common use spoken to them by Mr. Chalmers in their own language. Their knowledge of the names of countries and their capital cities, of oceans, seas, and islands, as they were indicated on the different maps, was remarkable; and they were perfectly familiar with the appearance and position of their own country, which they know only by the name of New Guinea. They sang in their own tongue some hymns, and also "Auld Lang Syne" and the "National Anthem;" and reverently standing, with eyes closed, they repeated the Lord's Prayer. There was something very touching about this to most of the English listeners; for, although the words of the dark-skinned children were unintelligible, their attitude and their earnestness showed that they had been taught to understand the meaning of the beautiful words they were repeating. The whole scene was such as to give rise to feelings of sympathy, and to make one long to be able to distribute a tin of lollies or a basket of buns amongst the little ones. It seemed very much opposed to the English idea of the fitness of things that fishhooks and sticks of trade tobacco should be considered suitable gifts for them, and yet the eyes of the little people, as they each received the Commodore's present of a fishhook, a stick of tobacco, and a small paper of beads, glistened with pleasure, just as the eyes of English children do at school when they receive gifts or prizes; and when they were dismissed-from school they bounded away with just the same glee.
The native women have a custom of assembling in a body when their husbands and their brothers go away from the village on a long trading voyage, and expressing great sorrow at their departure by loud cries of lamentation. When the trading canoes left the port, just before the proclamation of the Protectorate, the village was for a time full of weeping and wailing. While the canoes were being loaded and provisioned for the journey, the women were actively engaged in stowing away the earthenware pots, and cutting and carrying firewood, and in putting on board the canoes for food a large quantity of kangaroo or wallaby meat, the men having had, a day or two before, a grand kangaroo hunt; and it was not until the canoes were actually leaving the shore to get under way that their manifestations of grief burst forth. Then as the canoes, crowded with natives, were being pushed from the shore, the natives who were to join those already on board stood while their female relatives hung about their necks and wept and said farewell; and then, disengaging themselves, the men plunged into the water and swam to the canoes, the women seated themselves on some canoes drawn up on the shore, or stood in small crowds, indulging in tears and bitter cries. Many of the women followed the canoes as they were taken by the men, with the aid of bamboo poles, around to a part of the harbour where they would secure the full force of the south-east monsoon, and only bade farewell to their friends at the last moment; and another lot, more affectionate or demonstrative than the last, sped across the harbour to a point where the canoes could be intercepted just before they went out to sea, and farewell was said there. The spectacle was a most extraordinary one, and was only equalled in the interest it excited by the scene which the canoes presented as they took their departure.
The trading canoes are formed of two or three ordinary canoes lashed together. In general appearance they seem to be little more than a confused mass of wickerwork; but a closer examination will show them to have been carefully and strongly constructed, with a bamboo or cane deck, housed in at each end by means of a kind of rough deckhouse made of split bamboo and pandanus leaves. The principal mast is a sapling, which may be straight or crooked, and it is kept in its place by a rope which is simply one of the tough climbing plants indigenous to the country. On this mast is spread a mat sail, shaped at the top like the claw of a crab, one of the points being rigged to the mast, and the other held in its place by a sprit. Unwieldy as they may appear, the canoes, when they have a fair wind, sail very well and with swiftness, and as they carry a large number of natives, three or four of whom steer with their paddles, a fleet of them presents a very interesting sight. There is very little life in the village while these canoes are away, and, beyond the necessary labour of preparing food, the women do not appear to do much work.
One house in the village attracts attention at any time the place is visited, as it is the residence of the chief Boe Vagi, and his daughter, who is the village belle. She is not very beautiful according to English or Australian ideas of female beauty, for her face is broad, her nose. flat, her mouth large, and her head of hair immense. Moreover, she has been tattooed down the forehead and the nose, and on the shoulders. But her form is robust; she wears many bands of shells and a large piece of pearl around her neck; she wags her petticoat with as much style and effect as her sex in any more civilized place; and she is evidently the admiration, if not the envy, of a select circle of young female acquaintances who are generally with her in a capacity something like that of maids-of-honour. Ever since the ceremony performed in April, 1883, by Mr. H. M. Chester, when he annexed the country to Queensland, Boe Vagi has had flying in front of his house a small Union Jack; but by the direction of the Commodore this flag was taken down, and a more appropriate one put in its place. The new flag is a blue one, with a white square in the corner filled in with a representation of a bird of paradise, as in the case of an ensign with the Union Jack.
The tattooing of the natives is a singular custom, and is carried out in a singular way. Until a girl has been properly and fully tattooed she cannot get a husband, and her tattooing, like the education of a European girl, is completed by the time she reaches a marriageable age, when she is required to exhibit herself before the tribe to show that she has the requisite number of marks upon her body. Entering a house one day, I discovered two natives being tattooed, one on the arm and the other on the forehead. They were lying on the ground, and the tattooing was being done by girls, who were sitting near the recumbent natives, and puncturing the skin and inserting the colouring matter at one and the same time, the only instrument used being a kind of needle fixed to a small piece of stick, which was held in the girl's left hand, while it was being gently tapped with a small piece of stick held in the other hand.
Ten miles inland from Port Moresby the mountain tribes begin, and some excursions arranged by the officers of the Nelson to the Kaloki River led to the discovery of a most interesting village of one of the tribes. It should be first stated, however, that the country travelled through for the distance mentioned consisted chiefly of rich alluvial land, much of it, doubtless, in wet seasons being under water, but now luxuriant with palms, tree ferns, and forest trees, and covered thickly with brilliant green foliage and several kinds of blossoms and fruit The river itself has its banks clothed with a dense growth of vegetation, on which the wild fig tree and masses of gigantic vines and creeping plants are conspicuous, giving it very much of the appearance of the vegetation of some of the northern coast rivers of New South Wales. It was just beyond this river, and in the vicinity of a range of mountains, where the village just alluded to was found. With the assistance of a native guide, the stream was forded, and a track discovered through the brushwood, and then the first sign of the presence of a native population came into view in the form of an extensive banana plantation; and from the plantation the houses of the natives were to be seen, not upon the ground, or merely a few feet above it, as is the case with the houses of the coast tribes, but high up on a pinnacle of rocks, and higher still above the rocks in the branches of tall trees. One could scarcely believe one's eyes, so extraordinary did it seem, that any tribe of natives should construct their dwellings, not as men usually do, but as birds build their nests. Their houses were on the top of rocks fifty or sixty feet above the ground, and those in the trees were fifty or sixty feet above the rocks. On ascending the hill to reach the rocks, the reason which leads the natives to live so high in the air was at once apparent. The houses had been placed in their peculiar positions in order that the tribe might be the better able to withstand attacks from their enemies. The only paths by which the rocks can be reached are so hemmed in by thick brushwood, and are so full of obstacles in the form of stones and pieces of rock, that it would be very difficult for more than one man to pass along at a time; and right across the paths, about twenty feet below the rocks upon which most of the houses are built, two rows of strong wooden palisading have been placed; and if any enemies of the tribe succeeded in passing the palisading, then the natives of the village could at once abandon the houses on the rocks and retreat to those in the trees. The houses themselves are very similar to those on the coast, except that the pandanus thatch is fastened in a somewhat different manner to the framework of wood, and all of the houses in the trees have two stories. There is very little ground to stand upon when the summit of the rocks is reached, for the houses rest upon high pieces of rock, and the trees in which the other houses have been placed grow from the summit. These trees are large and lofty, with no branches below the houses, and the houses are so constructed that the branches on which they rest, or to which they are firmly lashed, pass through the floor and the roof, or through the floor and one or other of the walls. The houses are reached by means of roughly constructed wooden ladders, which are difficult of ascent, and may easily be removed by the natives after they retreat up the trees. There were very few people about the village at the time it was visited, and most of the houses were closed. Those natives who were there were different in several respects from the Port Moresby natives, as some of the men wore beards, and the women were not tattooed. Now and then women may be found among these mountain tribes with tattoo marks on their bodies, but these marks are the result of vanity more than anything else, and they occur in cases where a female visiting a coast tribe has had herself decorated like those of her sex living there. Game is abundant in the vicinity of the Kaloki river. Pigeons—the principal of which is the gowra, or crested pigeon, a bird weighing five or six pounds, having a handsome purple plumage and very fine crest—are numerous; and ducks and geese, the former including a white species with black wings, abound in the marshes or swamps.
Visit to Hall Sound—A Lovely Island—Interesting Experiences of Savage Life—Picturesque Dress of THE Native Chiefs—A New Guinea Queen—Proclaiming the Protectorate at Delena—A Mission House and its Inmates—Photographing the Queen.
Shortly after six o'clock on the morning of November 7, the day after the proclamation of the British Protectorate at Port Moresby, H.M.S. Nelson left westward for Hall Sound and Fresh Water Bay, the Raven taking back to their homes the chiefs who had been brought to Port Moresby, and afterwards following the Nelson and joining her at Hall Sound, at which place a ceremony somewhat similar to that at Port Moresby was performed.
TRADING CANOES AT DELENA VILLAGE, HALL SOUND.
Hall Sound is a harbour eighty miles west of Port Moresby, formed by the proximity of Yule Island to the mainland, and though rather exposed to weather from the south-east, is safe and affords good anchorage. Yule Island was the head-quarters of D'Albertis, and it is not surprising that it attracted the attention of the Italian explorer as a suitable base for his operations in New Guinea, for it is a lovely gem upon the water, and wears quite a fairy-like appearance. It is not very large, and yet it has beautiful green hills, with crests of trees upon their summits, from which one can look abroad upon a wide shining expanse of sea, or, landwards, upon the immense delta of a river which rises in far-off ranges of mountains whose secrets have not yet been disclosed to white men, but whence have come strange stories sufficient to create an intense longing to know more of this interesting land. Or one may stroll through green glades, wander among palms, revel in the shade and the delicious coolness produced by broad-leaved trees, many of them bearing fruit, and luxuriant creeping plants, some with gay blossoms, and all clinging to the trees and the rocks or running along the ground in rich festoons. And there are secluded bits of sandy beach where the rocks and the vegetation cluster, and form delightful nooks and crooks known only to a few natives who live in the vicinity, and to the birds. All this may be found on Yule Island, and it was with some astonishment we heard from Mr. Chalmers that, lovely as the island is in appearance, it is not healthy, but bears among the natives the reputation of being the haunt of fever, or, as they say, of too many evil spirits; for it is to evil spirits they ascribe all the sickness from which they suffer. If it be a sickly place, the sickness probably arises from the malaria blown over from the mainland, which immediately opposite the island is very low and marshy.
As the Nelson approached the island, and when she dropped anchor, which she did in the afternoon of Friday, November 7, a number of natives were observed on the slope of one of the hills, and half concealed by the vegetation, stealthily watching the movements of the ship, some of the men being armed with spears; but no sooner did a boat leave the ship for the island than the natives disappeared from where they were first observed, and on nearing the beach several of them could be seen running away along the sand as hard as they could go. They were evidently very frightened, and when the boat touched the shore there was not a native in sight anywhere. The boat party, minus, of course, the blue-jackets, who were left in charge of the boat, walked in the direction the natives had taken when running away, and a boy of the Port Moresby tribe, who had landed in the boat, was sent on ahead to assure the natives that we were friends. Then occurred an interesting experience of savage life. As we left the sand of the beach and entered the wood or bush bordering the beach, we could see some distance ahead the dark forms of the natives crouching about the trunks of trees and watching us as we advanced. A call of encouragement was made by the Port Moresby boy, and by the captain of the mission schooner Ellengowan, who also had landed in the boat, and then a number of the natives came slowly and hesitatingly forward, with green branches in their hands as a sign of peace. They were a peculiar lot of people, for many of them had smeared their faces with something like lamp-black or tar, and introduced between the patches of black, lines of red or white. Like the natives of Port Moresby, they were quite nude, wearing only a girdle of narrow cloth; but the women wore the grass petticoat or skirt, though it was not long enough to reach their knees. Physically the men were fine-looking fellows, of a dark copper colour; but with their paint, their nose ornaments, and their great heads of hair, bound in some instances into the form of a large chignon, their general aspect was not inviting. They appeared to be a little suspicious with regard to the object of our visit but they were evidently very pleased at finding we were friends, and they heaped betel-nuts and sticks of betel-pepper upon us in return for a few small pieces of tobacco we gave them, and led us at once to their village. Catching hold of the hands of some of us, the natives, with the chief at their head, took us to the houses and motioned some of us to seat ourselves on the platforms, and a large mat was spread upon the ground for the accommodation of the rest of the party. Then, while some of the natives were noisily talking and laughing, others brought cocoanuts, and, opening them, gave us the refreshing milk to drink. Up to that time we had seen only one female at the camp, but others soon came in from their hiding-places, and stood around, gazing at us in wonder; and they were followed by a lot of male natives, who, it was said, had probably been lying in ambush as we were walking along the beach to the camp, ready to throw their spears the moment they saw any sign of our being enemies, and who now came dropping in one after another rather sullenly, but only one or two carrying a spear. The native houses, we found, were temporary structures, consisting of bamboo platforms with sloping roofs of pandanus leaf, erected to afford protection from the sun or from the night dews, and to provide sleeping accommodation during the time the natives were on the island, for they appeared to be making a short stay there as a break in some long journey from one part of the mainland to another, and in order that they might gather cocoanuts, bananas, and yams from the plantations that existed on the island. Bunches of green bananas, small heaps of cocoanuts, and collections of yams were to be seen upon the platforms of some of the dwellings; and in several places there was a fire with a pot over it filled with yams and sago, cleanly protected from dust or ashes by a covering of green banana leaves. The men we saw were greatly interested with their white visitors, and it was very entertaining to watch their merriment at what, doubtless, they regarded as our stupidity when one of our number, taking possession of a native's lime-gourd, fed the native and one or two of his friends with the lime, while they chewed their betel-nuts, and in the intervals between their bursts of laughter cried "nahmo," which means "good." The women and girls were tattooed to only a small extent, and therefore differed in that respect from the women of Port Moresby; but their petticoats were of exactly the same material.
We left these natives on the best of terms, and returned along the beach to the boat, many of the men and boys accompanying us until, when passing a point, they suddenly saw H.M.S. Raven coming into the Sound; and their exclamations and gestures of astonishment at the appearance of a second large ship, or, in their imagination, probably wonderful canoe, were worth witnessing. We tried to make them understand that it was all right, but had to leave them in the midst of their expressions of surprise. The Raven had brought a number of chiefs to Hall Sound—natives who had been induced to come by Mr. Chalmers, and who, after the Raven had anchored, were brought on board the flagship and the next morning informed of what was being done with regard to the British Protectorate, and then given presents.
A NEW GUINEA QUEEN.
There were eighteen chiefs in all, and some native teachers and their wives, to listen to what the Commodore had to say. The chiefs wore a girdle different from that at Port Moresby, and only a few of them had ornaments around their necks. Some were adorned with boars' tusks and shell armlets, and all wore their hair in the form of a huge chignon, the band around it consisting of a circlet of cassowary feathers. One chief, who enjoyed the reputation of being a great warrior and a New Guinea Don Juan, wore a dense head-dress of white and yellow cockatoo feathers, and a band of some other birds' feathers around his hair. His face was painted yellow and black—black marks on a dirty yellow ground; and he wore armlets of green leaves, and then around his wrists, legs, and ankles bands of green leaves, and through the lobes of his ears—the holes in which, and in the lobes of the ears of his fellows, were enormously large—pieces of cane. Another of the chiefs wore a head-dress of cassowary feathers, which surrounded and stood out from his head as rays appear around the sun; at the back of his head was stuck a long single feather, like the plume in the bonnet of a Highlander; two pieces of the leaf of the pandanus were hanging from his ears; and at his neck was a fine pearl-shell crescent. The stick of office was given to Lavau, the chief of the Lolo tribe at Delena, and he was informed that after the Commodore left New Guinea a High Commissioner would come there, until whose arrival Mr. Romilly would act. He was directed by the Commodore to take care of the flag which was to be hoisted on shore, and of the stick, both of which, it was explained to him, were symbolical of the Queen's authority. The stick was to be handed over to the Queen's officer whenever the chief was called upon to do so; and when the Queen's officer came there, the chief was to bring it to him and show that he had preserved his trust in its integrity, and done his duty in the position he was now appointed to fill. Some of the chiefs were from Nara, or Cape Suckling; others from the Lolo tribe, around Hall Sound; others, again, from Miva, the district adjoining Hall Sound; and others from Kivori, or Cape Possession, the whole of them representing from ten to twelve thousand people.
It had been hoped that the Queen of the Nara tribe, Queen Koloka—a native dignitary who is really the only queen, as far as the missionaries are aware, in New Guinea—would have been present with the chiefs, but it was not until later on that she made her appearance. There was nothing indicative of a coronet about her head, nothing regal in her attire, nothing stately or dignified in her form or movements. She was simply a well-conditioned, dark copper-coloured woman, with black woolly hair worn in the form of a chignon, a rather flat nose, and a body plentifully tattoed; and she was attired in a grass petticoat, a necklace of red beads, and a band of plaited fibre around each arm. Her residence is at Cape Suckling, where she is said to be waited upon by other female natives, as maids-of-honour, and where she directs all feasts and the chiefs pay her deference. Her father was a great chief, and when he was dying he sent for his sons and directed them to place all power in her hands; and they and other chiefs consenting, she became queen of the tribe. Her presence on board the Nelson was an important feature in the days proceedings, and the Commodore gave her a special present.
In the afternoon of Saturday, November 8, the Raven conveyed a party of officers and a detachment of blue-jackets and marines from the Nelson to the shore on the mainland at a point where a village called Delena is situated. Delena is the principal village of the Lolo tribe, and has a mission station, the mission being conducted by native teachers and their wives from Raratonga. The houses of the natives are on the beach, built as usual on props in a manner similar to the style of houses at Port Moresby, but bunched more together. The male natives were dressed rather differently from what we had previously seen, as they wore a girdle of narrow cloth instead of one of string; the women wore the ordinary petticoat. In general appearance both males and females were, if anything, dirtier, and some of the children more diseased, than those of the tribes previously met with. The same affection on the part of the women for young dogs was noticeable. In one part of the village, where a wrinkled old woman was squatting with others of her kind upon the platform in front of a house, there was hanging a small net, in which was doubled up the sleeping form of an infant, the net being the New Guinea cradle, which is swung gently from side to side when it is necessary to soothe the infant to rest. Over the same platform, and a few feet from where the infant was sleeping, was a second net similar in all respects to the first, and in this second net were sleeping—swung to rest as the child had been—a litter of puppies.
The land about the village is very hilly, and is covered with dense brushwood and tall forest trees, in which pigeons and birds of paradise are said to be very plentiful. On one of the hills immediately behind the native village, and in the midst of a plantation of banana and mammy-apple trees, the mission house has been built, and it is one of the coolest and cleanest structures of the kind one could wish to see. The walls were made of thin slabs of the sago palm, the roof of pandanus thatch on light wooden rafters, and the floor, consisting of boards made from old canoes, was covered with clean native matting. In this simple dwelling lived a Raratongan teacher and his wife, the former dressed in clean light-coloured shirt and trousers, and the latter in a loose calico robe fitting close at the throat, and most effectively setting off a not unattractive figure, and one of the pleasantest of faces, with bright black eyes and a good forehead, showing well beneath a plentiful supply of neatly arranged glossy black hair. This pleasant face, and this clean, cool dwelling, at a part of New Guinea where the sun was shining with the fierceness of the heat of a great furnace, were exceedingly refreshing to the visitors, and no one could resist the temptation to enter the house and enjoy for a time its cool shade and a drink of cold water.
A working party of blue-jackets had landed from the Nelson, under the command of First Lieutenant Maxwell, early on the morning of November 8, to prepare and erect a flagstaff; and in good time, with the assistance of almost every native in the village, a large forest tree of suitable form and height was felled and prepared, and drawn up the hill to the site selected as the best for the ceremony of hoisting the flag. A hole was dug for the flagstaff immediately in front of the mission house, and almost in the centre of the banana plantation, on a spot where a grand outlook was attainable in the direction of the ocean, and where the Union Jack would be easily seen by any vessel entering the Hall Sound.
There was a great crowd of natives present to witness the ceremony of hoisting the flag, and some of them exhibited surprisingly large head-dresses. Two of them conspicuously adorned in this manner were men of stalwart and lofty build. One had painted his whole form black, and dressed his head and neck with feathers of the same colour, for he was in mourning for some deceased relative or friend. As the hair of this native was worn in the huge mop-like fashion, the feathers sticking out from it increased the size of what was to be seen above the man's head to a very great extent, and by wearing a flat circular shell on his forehead, and encircling his neck with a band of cassowary feathers, he had imparted to himself a most extraordinary appearance. The other man had lavishly adorned his head with cassowary feathers, and wore around his hair a band of white shells, like cowrie shells. His chest was ornamented with boars' tusks, which hung from his neck, and similar ornaments were hanging at his back. His face was painted in a manner which gave him a somewhat hideous aspect, and he was liberally tattooed, many of the marks being indicative, it was said, of the number of enemies he had killed. These and other men with conspicuous head-dresses were placed in the front of the general body of natives assembled, all of whom were directed to seat themselves upon the ground; but the position of honour was given to Queen Koloka, who sat with her husband, a most ordinary-looking Prince Consort, and, at least as far as appearances went, a very unimportant native. Then the ceremony began, and very soon the guns from the ships of war were thundering their salute to the newly hoisted flag, and the high hills were throwing back their echoes, while the picturesque group surrounding the flagstaff were listening in solemn silence, and the native portion of it with something akin to awe. Without a doubt they were deeply impressed by what they were witnessing. They sat with widely opened eyes, exchanging glances of amazement; and at the extraordinary sounds that appeared to be in the very midst of their own previously peaceful hills, there were not only signs of astonishment, but evidences of fear, which so increased when the small-arms party around the flagstaff fired the feu-de-joie, that at the first rattle of the rifles the natives, from the Queen and the chiefs downwards, crouched to the ground and tried to hide themselves, one behind the other, for safety.
The ceremony over, the Commodore desired to have the Queen photographed, but it was some time before her Majesty could be prevailed upon to consent to anything of the kind. She ran away and hid herself in a shed adjoining the mission house, and even when she was discovered by some of the mission teachers' wives, it took a great deal of persuasion to induce her to come from her hiding-place, and still more to get her in front of the photographer's apparatus. She was evidently possessed by the fear of something unpleasant happening to her if she were to consent to what was proposed; but she came out from the shed eventually, bringing with her a stuffed bird of paradise, which she handed to the Commodore as though she wished to conciliate him, and then she reluctantly submitted herself to those who wished to put her in the proper attitude for the photographer. She was taken to the steps which led up to the doorway of the mission house, and seated upon one of them, her grass petticoat being arranged as gracefully as its peculiar style and material would permit, and her hands folded upon her lap, and in that position her photograph was taken, though more than once, while the photographer, with his head concealed under the dark cloth, was adjusting his apparatus so as to judge his distance aright, she seemed again inclined to fly.
Influence of the Rev. J. Chalmers among the Natives—Landing through the Surf to collect Chiefs—Reception by the Natives—A Frightened Chief.
Early the following morning (Sunday), the Nelson and the Raven left Hall Sound for Motu Motu, a locality fifty miles further west The Raven carried Mr. Chalmers and Mr. H. M. Chester, and left in advance of the Nelson for the purpose of calling at some places between Hall Sound and Motu Motu to pick up chiefs.
For some distance westwards the coast is moderately high, but with a strip of flat land bordering the beach and planted with cocoanut trees, which supply food to the coast population. For forty miles along this part of New Guinea the cocoanut plantations can be seen with scarcely a break between them, and native villages are very numerous. The Raven kept much closer in shore than the Nelson, in order that Mr. Chalmers might be the better able to land; and it was not difficult to see from the former vessel how fruitful the land generally is, and how populous this part of the coast must be. I was on board the Raven, with the object of witnessing the manner in which Mr. Chalmers goes among the natives, and judging for myself the influence he is known to possess amongst them; and so I landed with him and Captain Ross, the commander of the Raven, at the first village from which chiefs were wanted. The Raven stood in as close to the shore as she could with safety, and then the ship's whaleboat was lowered. The landing was through the surf, for there was no harbour or shelter of any kind in the neighbourhood, and the presence of a heavy swell where the ship was lying-to was an indication that the sea would probably be breaking heavily on the beach. As we neared the shore we could see natives watching us, and gradually closing together in a crowd, while others could be observed running from the outskirts of the village to the part of the beach where we were expected to land. Mr. Chalmers asked Captain Ross to permit a native interpreter who was in the boat to get into the bow, so that he might speak to the natives on shore immediately we got within hearing of them; and with this precaution against going in a suspicious manner, unarmed and almost helpless, into the midst of a crowd of savages, who might, if they chose, take the lives of every one of us easily, the boat entered the surf, struggled through it, and then grounded within a few yards of the shore, the interpreter at the same time shouting to the natives an explanation of our strange appearance, and they in reply giving vent to a Babel of exclamations, and rushing into the water to the boat with the intention of dragging it upon the sand high and dry. This they were not permitted to do, and in a hurried account of our visit, and what was being done along the coast, they were made to understand that the boat must without delay return to the ship, which was waiting for it, but that we would go ashore for a few minutes, as we wanted the chief of the place to accompany us back to the Commodore, in order that they might see what was being done by him, and receive some presents.
Immediately a dozen or more natives were eager to carry us through the water from the boat to the shore; and, deeming it better to get astride their oily backs than get wet by wading, we clung to three of them, and were carried to the beach in front of the village. There, in a pleasant way, we greeted everybody, and Mr. Chalmers broke a few sticks of trade tobacco into small pieces and distributed them. This proceeding propitiated all in the crowd about us, and Mr. Chalmers, through the interpreter, then again urged that the chiefs should return with him to the ship. There were two chiefs present, and ultimately they consented to go, which was very satisfactory; but it was surprising that Mr. Chalmers should have succeeded so quickly and so easily. Though, before making a move to return to the ship, we stayed long enough to drink some cocoanut milk, to purchase a few curios, and to take some notice of the peculiarities of dress and habitation adopted in the locality, we could not have been on the shore more than about ten minutes, and it seemed marvellous that in so short a space of time Mr. Chalmers should have been able to persuade a community of natives—who had probably never before seen a vessel larger than a small schooner, and who must have found it difficult to imagine a vessel the size of the Nelson, and who certainly could not be expected to comprehend what was being done by the Commodore—that it was safe for their chiefs to go with him. Yet he did so persuade them, and the two chiefs got into the boat, and we pushed off from the shore at once. One of the chiefs appeared to repent of his rashness when the boat was about twenty yards on its way to the ship, and he shouted to the crowd on the beach so loudly and so earnestly, that we could not but see he was calling to them to come and bring him back; but Mr. Chalmers, knowing that in the end the chief would be well pleased with his visit to the Nelson, urged Captain Ross to get to the Raven as quickly as possible, and directed the interpreter to speak to the chief and dismiss his fears. This was evidently the right course to adopt, for after this chief had reached the Raven, and had been joined by other chiefs further along the coast—one of them being induced by Mr. Chalmers, before he reached the shore, to leave a canoe and get into the Raven's boat—he was as quiet and contented as possible.
Arrival at Motu Motu—"We want no Clubs here"—A Repulsive-looking Savage—Exciting Battle with the Surf—Native Women and Girls—Curious Mode of Feminine Adornment—A Singular Village—A New Guinea Beauty—A Motu Motu Dandy—The "Noble Savage" Delusion.
The villages visited by H.M.S. Raven along the coast between Hall Sound and Motu Motu were Oiapu, Iokea, and Lesi, and the natives in them belonged to the Elema tribe, who extend from Cape Possession to Maclatchie Point, and number in all about twenty thousand persons. The most central and the principal locality peopled by this tribe is Motu Motu, and it proved in some respects to be the most interesting place we called at during the whole of the time the Commodore was on the coast. When I landed with Mr. Chalmers and Captain Ross at Oiapu, I noticed that we had come amongst a people who differed in habitation, dress, and general appearance from the natives we had met further eastward, but at Motu Motu we saw the Elema natives in, as it were, their capital, with all their peculiarities of dress and ornament and their strange manner of life apparent on every hand, and unaffected in the slightest degree by any intercourse with or even knowledge of white men.
The Nelson anchored off Motu Motu rather late in the afternoon of Sunday, November 9, and was joined by the Raven shortly before dusk. The anchorage was several miles from the shore, entirely unprotected, and off a beach which, with the exception of a small opening into a lagoon, stretched in an unbroken line on either hand for many miles. Cocoanut trees were very abundant, and were within view east and west as far as the eye could reach, and in the midst of them, right opposite the ships at anchor, was the village of Motu Motu. Soon after the Nelson had dropped her anchor, a boat left for the shore, and though the hour was so late that the stay on shore was exceedingly short, some incidents of this preliminary visit were a very fitting introduction to the events which were to transpire on the morrow. The landing was through the surf, but at the time the boat went to the shore the surf was not heavy, and there was no difficulty in getting to the beach, where a small crowd of natives greeted the boat party with exclamations of astonishment and welcome. Two of the party in the boat were seized by a native and led towards his house, and there a mat was brought from the house and spread upon the ground in order that the visitors might seat themselves upon it. But this courtesy was as nothing compared with something else that occurred, for as the native was leading the two gentlemen to his house he noticed that another native held in his hand a stone club, and with an exclamation and gesture which seemed to say, "We want no clubs here," the first native snatched the weapon from the other and threw it inside a fence.
Nothing could have been more indicative of friendship; no proceeding could have shown more plainly the determination of at least some portion of the Motu Motu people not to be compromised by any display of arms, or anything else which might be regarded as a protest against the unaccountable invasion of the territory by the white strangers, and a wish to oppose their landing. And yet there were important reasons why some show of resistance would have appeared very natural. These natives were said to have seen only two white men previous to the landing of the party from the Nelson that Sunday evening, and though native teachers connected with the New Guinea mission had been introduced among them, the mission work had scarcely begun, for the teachers landed at the place only last June. Yet here were two enormous vessels—so large that the native mind when contemplating them must have been filled with amazement—anchored off the village, for what purpose the natives could not possibly conceive, and filled with white men who might or might not be friendly, and who had commenced to land immediately after their arrival. No wonder the stone club made its appearance; it would not have been surprising if a line of sable warriors, armed with clubs and spears and bows and arrows, had spread themselves along the beach, with their arrows at the string and their spears poised and quivering in readiness for a flight through the air at the white invaders. But nothing of that kind occurred. Astonishment and a desire to be friendly were the points most noticeable in the behaviour of the natives, and the boat party, before returning to the Nelson, were able to view some portion of the village and its inhabitants, to note that they were in many respects remarkably different from any village and people previously seen, and to observe that close to the village there was a large lagoon leading to the mouth of a river, and appearing, in its evening tints and shadows, and its picturesque surroundings of native houses and cocoanut and sago palms and forest vegetation, as pretty a bit of scenery as one might wish to see.
Later on, and after dinner, the chiefs of Motu Motu and those picked up by the Raven were assembled on board the flagship for the usual palaver and giving of presents, and together these chiefs were a fine-looking lot of men; but there was one fellow among them who was remarkable for his cruel and repulsive cast of features. Several of the chiefs were dressed and ornamented in a style that gave them a somewhat hideous appearance, and showed that they were warriors; but this fellow, besides being attired in his fighting paint and ornaments, had lost one eye, and had absolutely no chin—two peculiarities of countenance which, with-a receding forehead, short woolly hair, and large protruding mouth, imparted to him an aspect calculated to inspire any one in his vicinity with aversion and dread When this chief was allowed to see himself in the pier-glass in the Commodore's cabin, even he was struck with his repulsively ugly appearance. In all probability he had never before seen himself reproduced with more fidelity than had been the result of his stooping to drink from some mountain pool; and so, when he saw himself in the pier-glass with all the distinctness of reality, his first sensation was blank astonishment, then doubt and incredulity, and then, as the thought seemed to occur to him that what he saw must be a faithful representation of what he was, a parting of his ugly lips, a display of his black and red teeth, and a burst of harsh-sounding laughter. The chief to whom the stick of office was given was Semessi, a resident at Motu Motu, and to him and the others was explained by the Commodore, through Mr. Chalmers and a native who spoke the Motu Motu language, what the visit of the warships meant.
Early the following morning the ceremony on shore took place, and then there was a most interesting scene. A flagstaff was erected on a sandspit, some little distance from the village, and between the ocean and the lagoon, and shortly before eight o'clock, the boats of the men-of-war were conveying the officers and the blue-jackets and marines from the ship towards that part of the beach chosen as the most suitable place for landing. The weather had changed to some extent during the night, and the surf on the beach was very heavy—so heavy, in fact, that it seemed somewhat rash to attempt a landing, especially as the only place where the boats could with any probability of safety reach the shore was very much exposed and very awkwardly situated. Carefulness and skill, however, prevented the occurrence of any accident, though the scene presented by the boats, as they entered the surf and battled with or dodged the great rollers, was most exciting. The very large boats of the Nelson left the ship in tow of the steam cutter and the steam pinnace, but lay-to before the breakers were reached, as any attempt to take them through the surf would have inevitably resulted in disaster. Whaleboats, and those well handled, were what were required for the work, and therefore the orders were that the large boats should wait outside the surf and disembark their men into whaleboats and what other small boats were certain of getting through the surf without accident At the same time an order was given that the boats landing should follow exactly in the track of the Nelson's whaleboat, in which were Commander Henderson (who was in command of the landing party) and several more of us. This boat led the way, which to the eye of a landsman seemed as full of danger as any way could be; for there was nothing in the direction in which the boat was heading but a line of heavy breakers, with no sign of calm water through which a boat might pass, and as the boat rose upon the top of the swell and then swept onwards we could see that the one line of breakers observed from a distance was in reality a succession of lines, all of which must be crossed before reaching the shore. Presently a blue-jacket was noticed running into the water near the beach, and waving a flag as a signal that the boat was to be steered towards him, and then mounting to the top of a roller the boat plunged into the broken water, which curled and tossed and roared around it, and only ceased its angry grip when it had spent its fury and was beginning to make way for another great curling wave, that was coming on behind and threatening to overwhelm everything in its path. It was only during the very short intervals between the passing of one breaker and the approach of another that the boat could now make any progress, and there was almost every moment the danger of a great wave swamping us; but careful steering, so as to keep the boat end on to the surf, and a great effort on the part of the crew to make the best headway possible at every opportunity, carried us at last through the danger and into comparatively smooth water, where a hundred natives or more, submerged to their waists and frantically gesticulating and shouting, were ready to haul the boat, or to carry everybody in it to land. The boat, however, had to return to assist in landing the officers and men waiting outside the surf, and it was very soon fighting the breakers on its way seawards, while those persons who had already passed the surf in it were making their way on the backs of some of the natives, or wading to the shore. It was a rare sight, this struggle with the breakers and this strange reception by the natives in the water, and one to live in the memory; but it was seen in its fulness only when the boats commenced to plunge into the surf one after the other. Then the waves, surging harmlessly by the sharp-pointed whaleboats, would almost swamp the square-sterned boats, or, striking them on the quarter or the bow, would bring them almost broadside on to the sea—a position which required strong nerves and a skilful hand at the rudder to prevent them from capsizing. There were very few of those landing that morning who did not receive a good wetting, and the Commodore and the officers who came on shore with him were obliged to wade like the rest
The crowd of natives present afforded the visitors an excellent opportunity for observing the characteristics of the Motu Motu population. Instead of a string girdle, the men, who were fine, big fellows, wore bits of cloth or small grass aprons; their hair in most cases was cut short and frizzy; and their head-dresses and ornaments were peculiar, so far as we had seen, to themselves. The women and girls were very scantily attired, though most of them wore a kind of grass or fibre petticoat; but while they do not encumber their limbs with too much clothing, they practise another method of adornment, and that is smearing their bodies thickly with oily pigments like coarse red and brown paint This gives them an exceedingly repulsive appearance; but in their opinion it is only when they are in this attire that they are well dressed, and likely to arouse feelings of envy in the hearts of their female acquaintances, or inspire the opposite sex with admiration and love.
Quite a crowd of women and girls came down towards the landing-place to see the strangers and do what they could in the way of trading. They had nothing to sell but petticoats, and they were very timid; and therefore, though they were very anxious to sell the petticoats for the most they would fetch, they were for some time too frightened of their visitors to approach near enough to them to barter. It was a very amusing sight to see these female natives come down from the village in a troop, full of that curiosity which marks a woman all the world over, and to observe how, when any of us approached them, they glared at us and ran from us as though we were wild beasts. Some of the old men of the place ordered them back to the village; and if their gestures and the pitch of their voices were interpreted rightly, though their words could not be understood, they soundly rated these women and girls for their presumption in leaving their homes. But, just as most white women and girls would do under the circumstances, these native females merely scampered back a short distance towards the village, and then returned with increased curiosity and desire to see more of their white visitors. They would not, however, for a long time come near any of us, and though greatly tempted by the offer of tobacco for the petticoats they had for sale, if a sale were effected the tobacco had to be thrown to the holder of the petticoat, and the petticoat was then thrown in return. Neither the women nor the men could understand Major Dowding of the marines. His helmet and its spike puzzled them. Soon after his landing amongst them, he had good-humouredly lowered his head and pretended to butt at a native, and the whole community appeared to at once conclude that this was his mode of attack, and that his helmet spike was a formidable kind of tusk or horn. So they kept clear of him.
The village was away from the beach, and in the midst of the cocoanut trees and sago palms. Most of the houses were on props or piles, but there were some which were built on the ground, and generally they were larger, and seemed to be cleaner, than those we had become acquainted with further east. Many of them had roofs with very large projecting fronts, which pointed outwards and upwards in the style of a coal-scuttle bonnet. All had platforms in front of them, on which the natives belonging to the houses squatted to gossip or smoke; and one, at least, appeared to be a kind of half-temple and half lodging-house. In this instance, a roughly carved and painted wooden figure of a man, more grotesque than natural, and apparently a kind of idol, was to be seen on the platform under the projecting roof; and near the door inside the house were a number of what appeared to be sleeping-bunks, constructed in a manner not unlike what is to be seen in Chinese lodging-houses. The interior of the house was very dark, and the only occupant of the place was a sullen-looking native, with a large head of hair, who did not show any willingness to give us admission, but who signified assent when an inquiry was made by signs as to whether the bunks were used as sleeping-places. The arrangement of the houses was such as to admit of something like streets, by which the whole village might be traversed; but the passages which answered for streets were not very regular, and one sometimes had to go round a plantation, or dart between a plantation fence and the wall of a house, or take a rough circuitous path towards the beach, in order to see all there was to be seen.
The trouble, however, had its reward, for in one quarter of the village we discovered that among the young girls of Motu Motu there were several with very comely features and shapely forms, and at least one who, notwithstanding her dark skin, was a model of symmetry and grace. It may appear strange to associate a graceful manner with a black female savage, clothed in nothing more than a scanty covering of grass or vegetable fibre; but about this girl's form and movements there was an unmistakable dignity, and there was no denying her shapeliness. The only defect noticeable in her appearance was her discoloured teeth; for, like all New Guinea natives, though not more than fifteen or sixteen years of age, she was in the habit of chewing the betal-nut, and her teeth, though regular enough, were dyed an unsightly black and red. I saw her in the midst of a number of other girls, who were gazing at their white visitors with great curiosity, not unmixed with fear, as I was strolling through the village with one of the Nelson's officers; and, having some brass toy watches and chains in my pocket, I took one out and showed it to them, and excited amongst them at once a strong desire to possess it. By all the signs she could make intelligible, the pretty girl begged me to give it to her, and we, enjoying the fun, increased her longing for the gewgaw by my putting the chain partly around her neck in order that she might see how well it would look there. Then, seeing that she would be greatly disappointed if I were to put the toy back into my pocket, I fastened the chain around her neck, and she was immediately as vain of her new decoration as a white girl would be of a new necklace or bracelet, and the envied of all around her.
It was just at this time that we were startled by a yell from some of the crowd of natives about us, and, looking to see the cause, we found that two or three inquisitive females had caught sight of a white skin on one of my companion's wrists within his coat-sleeves, and the yell was a cry of astonishment at the discovery. They could not understand it, and a rush of both sexes was made to examine our wrists. It was as plain as daylight that they had regarded our dress as part of ourselves, joined in some way to our sunburnt faces and hands, and as we turned up our sleeves and exposed our white arms, and then, to further increase their wonder, unbuttoned a little of our coats and shirts to give them a glimpse of our white chests, the expressions of surprise were long and loud. It could easily be seen how little these Motu Motu people knew of white men, for on every hand there were signs of curiosity and wonder. In one part of the village a woman, who had apparently been confined to her house with her children all the morning, and had not seen anything of the white strangers, came out upon the platform before her dwelling to ascertain the meaning of the noise caused by a lot of passing natives who were following a number of us wherever we went, and immediately she caught sight of us she laughed outright at what she doubtless regarded as our ridiculous appearance.
The firing of guns was entirely new to the whole community. When the flag was hoisted, and the salute from the Nelson commenced, the ship was lying too far from the shore for the sound of the guns to be heard with much distinctness, and only a low rumble succeeded each puff of smoke; but at the first round of the feu-de-joie every native in the vicinity of the flagstaff fell flat upon his face, stricken with consternation.
But the most conspicuous incident at the flagstaff was the appearance of a Motu Motu dandy. He arrived very late, for it was said it had taken him the whole of the morning to dress, and certainly he must have spent considerable time in adorning himself. He was physically a very fine native—tall, well built, and strong, with a deep brown skin, and his adornments seemed to be in proportion to his size and strength. He wore a tremendous headdress of cockatoo and bird of paradise feathers, above which was a plume made of the shorter feathers of the cockatoo and parrot, gummed or attached by some other means to a bit of cane, and in the back of his hair were stuck the long tail feathers of some bird like a pheasant. Above his forehead, and beneath his head-dress, his hair was bound round with bands of small shells. From his ears were hanging enormous earrings, formed of large rings of tortoiseshell, stitched together with string, and ornamented at the ends with fancifully cut white shell, and outside with a long row of kangaroo or wallaby teeth, the length of each earring being fully six or seven inches, and the weight five or six ounces. Through the cartilage or septum of the nose he had placed a long nose-bone; around his neck were band after band of shells, beneath which were hanging his pearl crescent and a kind of breast-plate; his arms were encircled by broad shell armlets, and his ankles by bands of cassowary feathers. He was vastly proud of his finery, and had he been armed with bow and arrows, or with spear and shield, he would have been the nearest approach to the "noble savage" we could have wished to see; but, according to Mr. Lawes, who, with Mr. Chalmers, should be the best authority with regard to New Guinea, there is nothing of the "noble savage" at Motu Motu. Not long ago the Motu Motu natives made a raid at Redscar Bay, and, surrounding an unprotected village, the natives of which had done them no harm, they waited until the women and children had gone to the plantations, and then, falling upon them, defenceless as they were, killed fifty of them. This slaughter was followed by the looting of the village, and then the Motu Motu men returned to their canoes, carrying with them a young girl they had captured in the village alive. Even these proceedings were not the worst that took place during this inhuman expedition, for on the way back to Motu Motu a dispute arose as to the ownership of the captured girl, and, to settle the matter, a savage in his anger seized a bow and arrow, shot the poor girl to the heart, and threw her dead body overboard.
A Second Visit to Port Moresby—Excursions Inland—Similarity of the Country to Australia—The Native Plantations.
From Motu Motu the Nelson returned to Port Moresby and remained there several days, during which time she and some of the other war-vessels were coaled from a collier which had arrived from Newcastle, and a quantity of coal was landed for the future use of the men-of-war that are to remain for a time cruising along the coast. This second visit to Port Moresby was not so interesting as the first The native village was dull. The male population were still absent on their trading voyage—we had, in fact, seen their canoes in the lagoon at Motu Motu—and the women and children had become so used to their white visitors that the novelty of our appearance had passed off, and they took little notice of us or we of them. The chief occupation of the women during our second visit was preparing clay for the making of earthenware pots—and this was done by pounding the clay with large stones into small pieces, and then picking out the bits of stone and lime—and shaving the heads of some of their number; this operation, which was a very peculiar one, being performed without the aid of lather, and by means of pieces of broken glass bottle having a very sharp edge. It was during this time that some of us made the excursions into the country which brought under our notice the village in the trees and the tribe which inhabited it—one of the mountain tribes, and real Papuans.
One thing in these excursions which attracted the attention of those of the party who were familiar with the Australian bush, was the great similarity between the appearance of much of the country passed over and the country in Australia. There are palms, large flowering and fruit-bearing trees, and ordinary forest trees which are unknown to Australians; but, on the other hand, there is the gum-tree, or eucalyptus, appearing like an old friend and in considerable quantities, though, so far as we saw, not in anything like the perfection of growth seen in Australia. The silver-leaf gum was in some places growing very thickly, and from a distance a tract of land covered with this tree—generally it was growing on ridges or hill slopes—wore the appearance of being shrouded in mist. On the more level land the grass had grown to a considerable height, and the trees being no more numerous than is the case in what is known in the Australian colonies as open country, it was not difficult to indulge in the sport of heading one's horse after wallabies, which frequently made their appearance in the neighbourhood of the path, and on being disturbed hopped away to safer quarters. These marsupials were generally small and of a reddish colour. The brown wallaby was seldom seen, and in only one case was the animal of any appreciable size. But it is said that both the large wallaby and the kangaroo are to be found, and that the natives kill great numbers by first lighting a line of fires and then driving the animals towards the fires and spearing them. The flesh of these marsupials is the only meat the natives eat, and it is the only meat the missionaries get to eat except that which they import preserved in tins, for there are no cattle in New Guinea.
Boating and shooting parties were frequent at Port Moresby while the ships were at anchor there, and as the south-east monsoon which blows at this period of the year would freshen towards evening to something like half a gale, raising a tolerably rough sea for the boats, the boating excursions and even visits to the shore were neither uninteresting nor unexciting. Rambles about the hills surrounding Port Moresby were also worth undertaking, for it was from the summits of those hills that the plantations formed by the natives could best be seen. These plantations, notwithstanding that the season was very dry, appeared as green and flourishing as though constantly refreshed by rain, and surrounded as they were by very neatly constructed fences, formed of small upright saplings placed close together and securely tied to cross pieces acting as rails, there was a completeness about them which was very creditable to native industry. The fences would not be strong enough to keep out cattle, but they are sufficiently well made to prevent depredations by marsupials, and kangaroos or wallabies are the only enemies in New Guinea to native agriculture. In some of the plantations the more attractive of the trees which were growing on the land before it was placed under cultivation have been left standing, with very fine effect, and it is surprising to see how the soil on a stony ridge or summit of a hill has been utilized for the planting of banana trees though the stones lying around are innumerable.
A day or two before leaving Port Moresby the second time, three chiefs who had been at war at Redscar Bay, and who it was understood had been concerned in the sale of an extensive tract of land to a white trader at New Guinea, were brought from their villages to see the Commodore, and have explained to them the new order of things with regard to fighting and the sale of land, which, by the provisions of the proclamation establishing the Protectorate, will henceforth have to be observed. They were fine-looking fellows, with great heads of hair adorned with picturesque head-dresses, and they were quite a feature in the place during the time they remained there.
Departure for Hood Bay—The Reefs on the Coast—Native Village of Kerepunu—Remarkable Houses—Native Diseases—Climbing Cocoanut Trees—Beating the Native Drums—The Finest Chief in New Guinea—Ceremony of hoisting the Flag—Exhibition of Native Warfare—"Sneaking Murderers."
Everything being ready for a departure eastwards, the Nelson left Port Moresby finally early on the morning of Monday, November 17, for Hood Bay and the large native village called Kerepunu, the Espiegle having previously gone in the same direction for the purpose of picking up chiefs on the way.
We had seen something of this part of the coast, though at a greater distance, when the Nelson first sighted New Guinea on her voyage from Sydney and Brisbane, and therefore it was not entirely new to us. But we had no distinct acquaintance with Hood Bay and the large villages around it, and so, as the Nelson steamed closer towards the land, and the interesting features of the bay and its villages became apparent, we were again excited by the prospect of finding something new in the scenery, people, and incident on shore.
Hood Bay is a remarkable place. The indentation in the coast which entitles the locality to be called a bay is very slight, but a reef runs out in a south-easterly direction for a long distance to sea, and this affords fair protection to vessels anchoring there. Reefs abound on the coast of New Guinea, and when steaming into Hood Bay discoloured water seemed to start up ahead of the Nelson in every direction. But, as easily handled as a yacht, and with a good look-out in the foretop in the person of Captain Liljeblad, of the mission schooner Ellengowan, who piloted the flagship all the time she was at New Guinea, and with the leadsman constantly heaving the lead, the Nelson avoided all dangers, and dropped anchor about two miles from the shore, with the great reef protecting the bay right ahead of her, the open sea behind, and landwards a long line of cocoanut and banana plantations bordering the beach and fringing the background of hills, which were evidently of volcanic formation, and looked remarkably pretty in a covering of light green grass, flecked here and there with dark-looking clumps of trees and brushwood. Kerepunu, the village we were in quest of, was to be seen on the east point of the entrance to Hood Lagoon; and in the lagoon, immediately opposite the village, was anchored the Espiegle, though from the deck of the Nelson she was invisible, and seemed to have disappeared in some unaccountable manner behind the cocoanut trees.
A BANANA PLANTATION.
It was a long pull from the flagship to the village, but a couple of boats went on shore soon after the ship anchored, and we were soon in the midst of the natives and their houses. Seawards there could be observed a number of canoes with the natives in them fishing off the reef, and on the shore of the lagoon, opposite the village, native women and children were returning home from the plantations. The village was close to the beach, but away from the water, the houses being of a larger description than is ordinarily met with, and built upon more substantial-looking props or piles. They were peculiar, too, for having a very old, weather-worn, and soiled aspect The platforms in front of the houses were of heavier and more permanent make than those met with westward, and each house appeared to consist of two rooms, the one adjoining the platform being quite open, and the other entered by an aperture doing duty for a door. But that about the architecture of the houses which most struck the visitors was the extraordinary form of dwelling used by the chiefs of the place. These structures were altogether different from the ordinary habitations, and had in every case a spire carried above the roof-level to a height of about thirty feet, and on the top of the spire was a cane with a nautilus shell stuck upon the point. So curious did all this seem, that the general appearance of one of these houses was not very unlike the form of a giraffe, if that animal can be imagined with a dozen or so of legs instead of four. The body of the animal would then represent the roofed portion of the house, the long neck the spire, and the legs the props or piles upon which the house is built. The overhanging portion of the roof of the house, that is, the portion of roof that shaded the platform, was ornamented with the jawbones of pigs, strung together and suspended from the rafters, and the part of the house in which the chief and his family lived was approached by a short and roughly constructed ladder passing upwards from the platform. One chief had the posts upon which his house rested carved with various devices, one representing a crocodile or alligator some ten or twelve feet in length, and so well done that a very good idea was presented of this pest of all New Guinea inland waters. There were streets in the village, but with very little regularity about them, and, the soil being a very dirty-looking sand, there was nothing in the appearance of the streets pleasant to the eye.
Everything in the village itself presented a dirty, unattractive aspect; and the condition of the natives made matters very much worse in this respect, for a dirtier or more diseased-looking lot of people it would be difficult to find. They are a fairly large race, and they were attired somewhat the same as the natives westward—that is, the men wore the girdle, though of a different kind, and ornamented their necks with the crescent of pearl; and the women were clothed in the grass petticoat, the material of which the dress was made being in larger strips than at any other place we had visited. But while most of the men had bushy hair, the hair of others was short and curly, like that of the negro; and a large proportion of men, women, and children were suffering from a contagious skin-disease—a kind of ringworm which spreads over the whole body, causes the skin to peel off in shreds, afflicts the native suffering from it with an apparently constant and almost intolerable itch, and gives him a decidedly leprous appearance. As we went further eastward we found this disease existing in every tribe we visited, but in no instance was it so bad as we saw it at Kerepunu. It was not at all agreeable to find natives in this condition approaching us as closely and as anxious to handle us as natives who had nothing the matter with them, and it was with some consolation we heard, from those who professed to know, that this skin-disease never afflicts a white man. The natives came about us in a crowd, and everything they had for sale they endeavoured to barter for tobacco, knives, or tomahawks.
It was a very curious scene in the streets of the village while they were following the visitors about. Every native in the place was either in the streets or outside the houses on the platforms, and their incessant jabber and persistent efforts to attract attention to what they wished to sell—in some instances the articles being of a very paltry description—never seemed to grow less. There were many sullen-looking faces among the crowd; and sometimes a face of this kind would be seen scowling from a platform, as though its owner, denying the right of the visitors to come to the village, refused to have anything to do with them. But, on the other hand, there were large numbers of men who were very friendly and good-humoured; and the women, though very ugly and dirty, were not ill-disposed towards us. It was a relief, however, to get away from the natives and visit the mission house, which is very pleasantly situated on some rising ground overlooking the sea, and in the midst of a well-kept cocoanut and banana plantation. The heat of the sun and the sandy nature of the soil about the village had made walking rather tiresome, and it was with quite a new sensation that some of us stepped over a stile which is in the place of a gate at the mission plantation, and began to enjoy the cool shade of the palms above our heads. Very pleasant indeed it was, and still more pleasant to see the open, cheerful faces of the native teachers' wives, to eat the luscious bananas which they brought to us, and to drink a refreshing draught of milk from the cocoanut plucked but a few minutes before from a tree.
We had our first experience here of New Guinea natives climbing the cocoanut trees, and it was an interesting sight. Taking a piece of rope, a native would tie the ends together so as to make a loop, which, with his feet inside of it, would permit of his legs being extended just wide enough to give his feet a good grasp of the tree. Then, clasping the tree with his hands, he would draw himself upwards, his feet being raised together and stretched to the limits of the rope, and hands and feet alternately holding fast to the tree, until the full height of the long, straight, branchless stem had been climbed, when the cocoanuts wanted would be broken from the bunches growing immediately under the leaves and thrown to the ground. Other natives would then take pointed sticks and wrench the husks off, and a smart tap or two from something heavy around the top of a nut would in a few seconds make an opening, and, revealing the pleasant-tasting beverage within, strongly tempt one to drink.
We saw the belle of the village at this mission station. She was not handsome, or pretty, but she had a cheerful countenance, was tall and well made, tattooed rather elaborately, and wore necklaces of beads and shell armlets; and though somewhat shy, she was not averse to making our acquaintance.
We left the mission station and the village shortly before dusk; but prior to embarking in our boats we learned something interesting with regard to the native drum, an instrument formed of a piece of hollowed wood shaped like an hour-glass, but about three feet long, ornamented with feathers and string, and covered at the ends with snake or iguana skin. One of the officers of the Nelson possessed a boar's tusk, which was so good a specimen that it formed almost a complete circle, and every native in the village coveted it. Eventually he gave if away in exchange for the finest greenstone axe we saw during our stay at New Guinea; but before this axe made its appearance, almost everything any one native possessed was offered for the tusk, and among the articles offered were several drums. But though the natives offering these drums were willing to barter them for the tusk, they would not on any account permit any of the white visitors to beat them. They watched assiduously, and any attempt to tap the covering of the drum, however slightly, was carefully prevented. At first this could not be understood, but afterwards the natives managed to make us comprehend that if a white man were to beat the drum it would be the cause of some one dying in the village; so the drums, all the time we were there, were silent.
AMONG THE COCOANUTS.
The Nelson anchored off Kerepunu on the afternoon of November 17, and the chiefs of Hula, Kamala, Kalo, Kerepunu, and Aroma, representing a large number of the villages and probably twenty thousand natives, all of the Hood Bay district, were brought on board the flagship to receive presents, and to have the Protectorate explained to them. The interview was a very interesting one, and will in all probability result in the establishment of very much improved relations among the natives over a large and important part of New Guinea. All the New Guinea tribes are warlike, and some of them are almost continually fighting with each other, but one of the objects in view in the establishment of the Protectorate is peace among the natives themselves. If the constant condition of disquiet in which each tribe lives can be changed to a state of security from attack and injury at the hands of its enemy, a great improvement in the general condition of the tribes on the south coast will have been effected.
The principal chief among those brought on board the Nelson at Kerepunu was a great fighting chief, and one of the finest men we had seen. The missionaries said he was the finest chief they knew in New Guinea. His name was Koapena, and he was a chief of Aroma. He was well made, muscular, and strong, and, notwithstanding his light copper-coloured skin and large head of hair, a handsome fellow. His features, slightly pitted with smallpox, were aquiline, his nose well arched, and mouth and chin full of decision and firmness. His broad shoulders and arms were tattooed with blue marks, which represented the number of people killed by himself in fight; sixty-three were counted, besides many other marks which represented the enemies killed by his tribe. He wore armlets and small ornaments in his ears, and his hair was decorated with the scarlet blossoms of the hibiscus. In every respect he looked a splendid man; and his companion chiefs had more character about their features, and more bearing about them in their general appearance and in their movements, than any of the natives who had up to that time trod the Nelson's decks. They listened to what the Commodore had to say through the interpreter, and then they began to deliberate among themselves. One old chief of Hula, who was somewhat doubtful of the new theory of life which the Protectorate was seeking to establish, asked, "In the event of Kapa Kapa" (near the neighbourhood of Hula) "attacking us again, are we to understand that we are not to pay it?"—that is, be revenged. He was told, "Most certainly not." "Very good," he said; "but just tell me who is to do the payment?" Then the Commodore said that her Majesty's officers would see that justice was done. But this did not appear to satisfy the chief until the matter was explained to him by Mr. Chalmers in a manner better understood by the natives, that payment in the way of punishment or revenge would be administered by the Queen's officers, and then the chief signified that he was content. "Now," he said, "there is to be peace for ever, and I am satisfied so long as somebody will punish those who do wrong." Mr. Chalmers put the question to him again, and said, "Now, is it to be peace for ever and for ever?" "Yes," he answered; "it is peace for ever."
After the meeting of the chiefs, some firing from the big guns and the Nordenfeldts of the ship took place, and the chiefs, who were impressed by the display, began talking amongst themselves of their past desires and their efforts to be the friends of white men. One old chief, against whom something was mentioned concerning an attack on a Chinese junk and the murder of several Chinamen—not entirely undeserved, the missionaries say—stood up and said, "If there have been error in the past, there must be an end to it now and for ever;" and the Hula chief put up his hand and repeated, "For ever and for ever."
The British flag was hoisted in the village early on the following morning. The flagstaff had been erected in the midst of the houses, and in a kind of quadrangle which was named "Espiegle Square," a board with this name painted upon it being affixed to the platform of one of the houses; and the assemblage at the ceremony of the reading the proclamation of the Protectorate and hoisting the flag was a very interesting and picturesque one. The naval officers wore their cocked hats and epaulettes, the blue-jackets and marines were in white dress and straw hats, the crowd of natives was very much larger than had been present at any previous ceremony, and the attention to detail in the general arrangements for the occasion was as marked as it was at Port Moresby. The Commodore and the officers who landed with him in his barge from the Nelson, together with Mr. and Mrs. Lawes and Mr. Chalmers, stood upon one of the platforms at one side of the square, a sail having first been stretched over the platform to shade them from the sun. The native teachers and their wives seated themselves before the platform, and immediately in front of them were ranged the fine-looking chiefs of the Hood Bay district, with Koapena, the fighting chief of the Aroma, among them. He stood in the centre of this group, holding the stick of office that had been given him by the Commodore the day previous in his right hand, and his lime gourd in the other; and on either side of him were ranged his companion chiefs with tufts of green leaves stuck in their armlets, and armed as for war with shield and spear.
These shields, made of wood, shaped something like the figure eight, covered with a neat kind of matting, and ornamented with a fringe of bright-coloured feathers and string, were worn on the left arm, and allowed to rest on the left thigh, while the long-barbed spear was held in the right hand, the point of the weapon sticking in the sand, and the shaft inclining to the chiefs right shoulder. It can easily be imagined with what attractiveness the grouping of these native chiefs had been arranged; and when it is said that from this group the blue-jackets and marines branched off into the hollow square formation, that around the troops, and on every house platform in the square, and along the whole length of the village street, the brown forms of the natives congregated like bees, and that the uniforms of the officers present, and the colours borne by the colour-party who had landed with the troops, were particularly gay in the bright morning sun, it can be understood that the spectacle was one well worth witnessing. All that is then wanted to fill in the whole picture is, the attention of the natives while the proclamation is read and interpreted; the sudden fright and headlong disappearance of many of them into the recesses of their houses at the sound of the first gun saluting from the Espiegle the appearance on the flagstaff of the Union Jack; the rattle of the small arms firing the feu-de-joie; the strains of the National Anthem; and the final British cheers, led by Captain Bridge, for the Queen.
HOISTING THE BRITISH FLAG.
Then the troops fell back a few paces, and room was made for a war-dance, or an exhibition by the armed chiefs of the native method of fighting. Suddenly darting from where they had been standing, some of them rushed forward at an imaginary enemy, their shields raised as though to defend themselves from flying weapons, and their spears firmly grasped and quivering as they were poised ready to be hurled at the first glimpse of the foe: There was no war whoop, for the native warfare in New Guinea is carried on by stealth; only a low exclamation was now and then heard as though the forms of some of the enemy had been seen, and increased exertions were necessary to cope with them; and in that fashion the chiefs—those who commenced the attack being quickly joined by the others—ran this way and that, from the shelter or concealment of one imaginary tree or rock to that of another, now crouching to the ground as though creeping upon an unwary enemy, and then standing erect, and with all the strength of the right arm making the stroke, which in real warfare would send the spear whizzing on its deadly mission through the air. The rapidity of movement on the part of these chiefs was extraordinary, and their darting from side to side either in the supposed chase of an active enemy, or to dodge his weapons or divert his aim, showed they possessed in a remarkable degree the qualifications considered in their warfare to be essential to victory. But interesting as this display of fighting tactics was to the visitors, it was in a large measure a delusion, for the New Guinea natives are not brave warriors. There are, of course, exceptions; but the general body are (to use a term employed by Mr. Lawes in an address he delivered on board the Nelson on the Sunday preceding her return to Sydney) "sneaking murderers." They covet the tattoo marks, which show that they have killed some one, as ardently as a British soldier or sailor covets a medal, but not with the feelings of brave men. They will watch for weeks to get behind an enemy and pounce upon him unawares, and then, capturing him, all the young men of the village will stick their spears into him, and return home glorying in the deed. Or they will lie in wait for the women and children of a village, and falling upon them suddenly, slaughter them remorselessly. Mr. Chalmers on one occasion remonstrated with a chief for the part he had taken in a massacre of this kind, and told him that white men considered it the greatest cowardice to injure a woman. The chief was astonished at the idea, and, laughing derisively, exclaimed in his own language, "What fools you are! Don't you see that if you kill the women you prevent the birth of any more warriors?"
Queensland. Labour Vessels—Escapees and Returned Natives—A Tragic Story.
At the time the Nelson left port to proceed along the coast eastward she had on board twenty-six New Guinea natives, who had been recruited by labour vessels for the Queensland sugar plantations. Their story, as narrated by them, was a very tragic one. On the return of the Nelson to Port Moresby from the west, it was ascertained that a schooner named the Elsea had arrived from Thursday Island with a large number of New Guinea natives on board in charge of a Government agent, and the Commodore was soon afterwards officially informed by the agent of the arrival of the schooner, and of the nature of her passengers. Ten of the natives were men who, on being taken to Queensland, were rejected as being physically unfit for sugar plantation work, and therefore had to be returned to their homes; and sixteen of them were runaways from, it would appear, a plantation somewhere in the vicinity of the Johnstone River, a place they had escaped from in two boats to Murray Island, in Torres Straits, the passage occupying several days.
On the 12th of November Commodore Erskine held an inquiry in the mission school-house at Port Moresby, for the purpose of hearing the story of these natives from their own lips and having it taken down in writing, the natives being examined through interpreters, and in the presence of the Rev. W. G. Lawes and the Government agent on the Elsea. One native, who had been taken by a labour vessel from Milne Bay, stated that when he consented to go in the vessel, he understood that he was to be away from his village for only three moons—one moon to be spent on the passage to and from Queensland; that he was to receive clothes and hatchets in return for this; and that if he and the others had known how long they were really to be away they would never have gone. When questioned as to how the white men treated the natives at the places they called at while he was on board the labour vessel, the answer was, that as long as they were within reach of the missionary they were not cruel, but when away from mission influence or supervision they got guns, etc., burnt the villages, and took the men away by force. At Bentley Bay, he said, they took a woman and boy from a village; but at Teste Island the woman escaped by letting herself down from the vessel by a rope, and swimming on shore. The manner in which the woman was obtained was this: When the natives on shore were holding one of their feasts, the woman and boy were captured, and the two boats of the vessel pillaged and burnt the village, both boats being armed. There was no cause, the natives said, for this outrage. At another place, when the natives refused to go on board a labour vessel when asked to go, rifles were got to make them do so. The natives then ran away, but the crew of the vessel fired at them from the boats, and several women were killed At Normanby Island the natives came off from the shore in large canoes to trade, and when alongside they were fired upon. The natives in terror crowded to one side of the canoe and capsized it, and swam for the shore; but boats were at once lowered from the vessels, and the natives chased, with the result that nine were taken alive, and three were shot dead, one of those captured being among the number to be returned to their home by the Commodore. The bodies of the natives who were shot were washed ashore.
At another village the natives would not go on board the labour vessel, and armed themselves with spears, and the white men armed themselves with rifles. One white man was wounded by a spear, and a native was shot dead. At other places no wrong was committed, and the natives were engaged in return for hatchets and other articles of trade; but at a small village on Harris Island a native was shot because the white men were angry with the natives for asking too much trade. At this island it would appear that there were seven natives in a canoe, and that one was shot dead. The canoe then made off, but the boat of the labour vessel chased it, caught it, and took the remaining six natives on board the vessels and kept them there. One of them was wounded, and though he was cared for on board the vessel, he died from the effects of the wound. Of the remaining five one was among the natives examined by the Commodore, and the others are said to still be in Queensland.
The story of those who had escaped from Queensland was, that when they were landed in that colony from the labour vessel, and found they had to work for three years, they wept bitterly, and they ran away from the plantation because so many natives were dying, and because they were beaten. Having reached the Johnstone River, each party seems to have stolen a boat, one of the boats being owned by a Chinaman, and having in it two bags of potatoes. These potatoes served the natives for food, and for water they filled a number of empty bottles which they had stolen from the plantation. The boats reached the sea at daylight in the morning after starting down the river, and Murray Island was made in six days after leaving the Queensland coast. The second boat arrived there on the 17th of October last. On being asked by the Commodore how they liked the plantation work, the answer was that in their own land they could work well, but on the plantation it was all cry and work. They only got food in the morning, and had to work all day, and in the evening they were too tired to eat. A native said to the Commodore, "If we can be taken back to our own land we shall be very glad; but if our countrymen left behind in Queensland could be sent home too, we would be very thankful, and when you come back to our country we will give you plenty of pigs."
Recognizing the importance of doing all that could be done to have these natives returned to their homes, and their friends and tribes made to understand that henceforth they would be protected from recruiting vessels, and anything else that might do them any injury, the Commodore decided to remove them from the Elsea to the Nelson, and to send them to their homes by one of the men-of-war. This was a fortunate thing for the master and crew and the Government agent on board the Elsea, for at this time of the year sailing vessels frequently get becalmed at the east of New Guinea, and if the Elsea had found a tribe of hostile natives who had suffered from the visits of labour vessels, and were to be becalmed at the time, the consequences to the Elsea might have been very serious. The Elsea certainly would have had great difficulty in returning the natives to their homes, for some of the places from which the natives were taken are known to the missionaries only by name. One of the escapees was a chief from Moresby Island, and when the Commodore asked him if he wished to say anything to him, the chief said, "If you take us back to our homes we should be glad, but we want our countrymen back. There are plenty left in Queensland, and we are anxious that they should be brought back."
The Man-catcher—Death of a Noted Chief—Amazon Island—Enchanting Scenery—The Chief of the Village—Natives in Mourning—An Interesting Ceremony.
When the men of a native village resolve upon fighting the natives of some other village, they set out in an irregular party, and attack secretly, generally from behind trees. Besides their spears and bows and arrows, they have greenstone clubs, fitted securely on stout wooden handles, some of the clubs being star-shaped, and others flat and round, with a smooth sharp edge, and they have a very cruel-looking instrument called a man-catcher. This consists of a cane loop with a long handle, from which projects within the loop a sharp wooden prong several inches in length. Sometimes the cane forming the loop is decorated with bits of string or fibre, which gives it the appearance of being ornamented with ribands, and to a great extent masks the real purpose of the instrument But in the hands of a native on the war-path the man-catcher performs the duty of a lasso, and thrown over the head of a flying enemy, who may be a woman or a child, the loop falls to the shoulders, the flight of the unfortunate being is suddenly checked, and with the check the back of the neck is brought violently against the prong, which is apparently sharp and strong enough to pith the captive as a bullock is pithed in the shambles. It may be, however, that a spear or an arrow brings the fugitive to the ground, and then with a rush the pursuer is in a moment upon his fallen enemy; in another moment he has with one hand seized him by the hair of the head, while with the other he takes from his mouth a bamboo-knife, which by his tearing away a strip with his teeth at once acquires an edge as sharp as that of a razor, and before the poor wounded native has time to crave for mercy, or even to utter a cry, his head is off, and his conqueror carrying it in all its ghastliness away with him.
On one of the peaks of the Macgillivary range of mountains, near Hood Bay, there is the village of a mountain tribe who have built their houses inside and around what is evidently the crater of an extinct volcano, and so carefully has the village been planned for strategic purposes that the position of some of the houses has obviously been chosen so that they may be used as places from which a constant look-out can be kept, and any attempt on the part of an enemy to surprise the village prevented. This romantically situated village has been, it is said, the scene of many a native fight, a neighbouring tribe—the Kalo natives—having tried time after time to capture it; and recently it was the cause of the death of a noted warrior chief, whose native name was Vali, but who was known to the missionaries as Saul. About eighteen months ago the Kalo people went inland to the mountain village, and managed to capture a man and a girl, who were immediately decapitated, and their heads taken to the sacred place in the Kalo village, where they were displayed to the gaze of the populace. It so happened that the girl was the daughter of a chief of the village in the mountains, and the chief declared that the murder of his daughter could only be followed by more blood, and that he would have no peace between his tribe and the Kalo people. The consequence was the murder of Saul only a few days before the Nelson reached Kerepunu. A large number of the Kalo natives were out hunting the kangaroo, and being observed by the mountain tribe, who quickly signalled to tribes adjacent to them, the Kalo men were surrounded. They were warned by some Kerepunu natives of their danger, and most of them were able to escape; but Saul refused to run away. He possessed two heads, and he was a great warrior; and he and a cousin remained. His courage, however, did him no service. He was very soon the target for many spears, and, falling with the spears sticking in him, his head was cut off by the very chief whose daughter had been murdered, and his warrior tattoo marks were savagely hacked from his body. When a chief has killed his enemy he remains secluded in his village for several days. He is sacred for the time, and neither pays nor receives visits, and no consideration will induce him to violate this custom.
From Kerepunu H.M.S. Espiegle visited Toulon Island in Amazon Bay. Amazon Island is the name by which this island is generally known, for the reason, it is believed, that when the place was first visited only women were seen there, the men being at the time away on the mainland, either in the plantations or fighting. Mr. Chalmers' first experience of the locality was, however, sufficient to convince him that there was certainly some ground for the idea which had got abroad that the place was peopled by Amazons, for he had scarcely landed before some of the women ordered him back to his boat; and when their signs to him to depart were not heeded, they simply took hold of him, and, leading him to the boat, compelled him to go away.
The island is a lovely spot, small, but in some aspects not unlike Yule Island, for it has the same kind of beautiful light green hills rising above the dark foliage of the cocoanut palms and the luxuriant forest vegetation which fringe the beach and grow in the recesses which divide the hills. The water, where it laves the sand, and for some distance out from the island—to the limit, in fact, of the coral reef which surrounds it—is of a brilliant light-green colour and as clear as crystal, and through its transparent depths can be seen unlimited stores of marine treasures lovely enough to deck the daintiest fairy's bower. Out at sea a reef rises so close to the surface of the water that the waves passing over it break into foam; and in the vicinity of this reef were several large fishing-canoes under sail. Landwards and quite close to the mainland were some small islands with breezy-looking cocoanut trees upon them; and then behind, separated from these islands by narrow passages of water, the coast range of mountains—not alone, not one line of upheaved land running along the coast like a solitary and almost unbroken ridge, but standing as in the front rank of a battalion of mountains, and as though to show how insignificant it and its immediate companion ranges were in comparison with the majestic Owen Stanley range, which, rearmost of all, shot its peaks upwards far above everything, until they penetrated even some of the higher belts of cloud and seemed like distant islands in a misty sea.
Toulon Island is not far from Cloudy Bay, and a short time ago an affray took place between the Cloudy Bay natives and the crew of a beche-de-mer schooner, with the result that one of the white men received a severe spear-wound, and several natives were killed or wounded. As the natives of Toulon Island belong to the same tribe as those at Cloudy Bay, it was thought by Mr. Chalmers that the islanders might regard the Espiegle as a man-of-war come to punish them for the affair at Cloudy Bay, and might resist any attempt on the part of the boat's crew to land. It was therefore decided that two boats should land, each armed, the first to convey Captain Bridge and Mr. Chalmers ashore; and the second, under the command of Lieutenant Ommanney, to lie off from the shore as a covering boat, until it was seen that everything was safe.
There was something more than ordinarily exciting in the going ashore in an armed boat; but, as things turned out, there was no necessity for arms, and we did not see the sight that would have been worth seeing—a crowd of savages yelling their threats and cries of defiance as the boats approached the land, and then launching a cloud of spears; and finally the whole body of them running helter-skelter and tumbling one over the other in their frantic efforts to escape into the bush from the rifles of the blue-jackets. Instead of that, the canoes came off in a peaceful way to trade, and we were received in a friendly manner on shore; but, until we saw the first canoe coming out from the land to meet the Espiegle as she was approaching the island, there was no saying what our reception was likely to be, and a native teacher who was on board with us was directed to get into the rigging and explain to the natives in the canoe what we were and what our mission was, so that it might be understood at once that we were friends. Very soon after we had anchored, a fleet of canoes were around the ship to trade, and curios, including a tolerably large supply of bird of paradise plumes, were to be had on every hand for a few sticks of tobacco.
The village was situated in a lovely little cove sheltered on one side by an extraordinary mass of dark rock, which formed in one place a romantic, natural archway, backed by a hill covered to its summit with tropical vegetation; and on the other side was a second hill, with its slopes and the ravines upon its side studded with palms. The beach was for some distance lined by a fleet of large double canoes, each rigged with a mast and stays, and one covered in as with a roof or cane awning, and all with their sides ornamented in such a manner that they appeared to have painted ports. The houses of the village were close to the beach, but for the first time in our experience none of them faced the water. The fronts of the houses seen on approaching the land were the other way, and when we had landed and got into the midst of the village we found that it consisted of one long, narrow street, with houses on either side, facing inwards to the street, and built in a style very similar to what we had seen at Kerepunu, but rather higher in the roof and more pointed. Behind the houses, and at either end of the village, the cocoanut trees were growing, and the taro and yam plantations were to be found beyond the cocoanut trees, and in the rich alluvial soil about the hills. The natives were numerous, and sat upon the platforms in front of their houses, or followed us about the village. The hair of the men was in many instances very short, cropped close to the head, while in others it was rather woolly. When it was worn long it was decorated with plumes of cockatoo feathers, and sometimes with a red blossom from the hibiscus, worn over each ear, Many of them wore the ordinary girdle, but a few, and notably the chief of the village, wore a band of cords and cloth. He was attired also in a head-dress of shells, and in cane armlets, the one on his right arm being ornamented with a bunch of green leaves and with a long broad streamer or riband, which hung almost to the ground. Through his nose was a circular shell, and around his neck a band of small red shells, to which were appended some strings of small coloured beads and a large boar's tusk. But that which was most noticeable about the male portion of the population of this village was the number of men that were in mourning, and these had, according to the custom that prevails all along the coast, coloured the whole of their bodies an intense black, and adorned themselves with dark ornaments. It was said that the natives of Toulon Island are continually fighting the mountain tribes, and that this accounted for so many men being in mourning; but we learned also that there had been several recent deaths of an ordinary character in the village, and that these had thrown many of the natives into black.
I do not remember to have seen in any village along the coast a female native in mourning, and certainly, unless they had some mourning dress not noticeable to strangers, there were none in any but the ordinary everyday attire on Toulon Island. This ordinary attire was remarkable for its dimensions, for so very large and bulky was the grass or fibre petticoat that it suggested in some cases the presence of a crinoline, and in others the adoption of a style similar to that which is seen in the dress of a ballet-dancer. Tattooing appeared to be practised very extensively among the women, but they were not attractive in any respect, and in many instances their children were suffering from the skin disease which was so widespread at Kerepunu, or from loathsome sores.
The chief of the village came off to the ship, and returned to the shore in Captain Bridge's boat. When the shore was reached, Captain Bridge and Mr. Chalmers, with a native teacher connected with the New Guinea Mission, were conducted to the house of the chief, and Captain Bridge was accommodated with a seat on the platform. Then the population of the village were assembled, and Captain Bridge, addressing them, said:
"I have come here to tell you that Queen Victoria has sent one of her great chiefs, the Commodore, to proclaim that this part of New Guinea is henceforward to be under the protection of Great Britain. The Commodore has already proclaimed the Protectorate at several places, and he has now gone further east with four men-of-war, one of them many times as big as the man-of-war in which I have come here. This is the meaning of what is being done: The people of New Guinea will be protected by Queen Victoria; no one, whether a white man or not, will be allowed to take your land from you;' no one will be allowed to injure your wives or children; no one will be allowed to take you against your wishes away from your homes. There is to be no war between your tribes and any other; and if you have any misunderstanding with any other tribe you are to refer the matter to the first of Queen Victoria's officers who may come to your country. Fighting will certainly bring punishment on those who begin it. You are to treat all white men whom Queen Victoria may allow to dwell amongst you in a proper manner, and any injury done to them will be punished. If you have any complaint to make against a white man, you are on no account to act against him yourselves, but you are to make it known to the captain of a British man-of-war, or other white chief, as soon as possible. If any person comes to ask you to buy firearms, gunpowder, or intoxicating liquors, you are not to buy them, but are to make known the matter to the first British man-of-war you see. If any white man wants you to sell your land to him you are not to do so. Queen Victoria wishes you to become her children, and that you and your wives and little ones may be peaceful and happy. You are to look upon all of the chiefs whom she may send to you as your friends. Her chiefs will always be friendly with those who behave well, and it will be their duty to punish those who wilfully do wrong."
The natives listened very attentively, and when the remarks from Captain Bridge had been interpreted to them by the native teachers, they were evidently well pleased with what was being done by the Commodore. They were more particularly pleased with the intimation that fighting was to cease. The teacher told them that Queen Victoria had sent Captain Bridge to say that for the future they must not fight with any one, and on no account must any one fight with them. They were told, also, that they must not on any account sell the land; to which they nodded their heads in acquiescence, and said, "Good, good;" and that they were always to look upon a man-of-war, when it came there, as their friend. Then the Cloudy Bay affair with the beche-de-mer schooner was mentioned, and they began to show some signs of excitement, and to talk and gesticulate very much. But the chief said that now they would regard everything as peace, and he glanced upwards two or three times while speaking, as though he were appealing to heaven to witness what he was saying; and he concluded by repeating, "Now it is peace all along." He was given a present, consisting of a very large butcher's knife, a tomahawk, and some sticks of tobacco.
Argyle Bay—a Charming Coast-line—The Native Villages—Driving a Bargain—Thievish Habits of the Natives—Native Burial—Suspicion as to the Real Object of the Protectorate—Some of the Results from the Visits of the Labour Vessels.
In the afternoon of the same day as that of the visit to Toulon Island the Espiegle rejoined the Nelson, the Raven, and the Swinger, in Argyle Bay, the approach to which opened out to the view a panorama of very lovely scenery. Numbers of islands dot this part of the coast, and as one after another came in sight, with its leafy hills and its clusters of cocoanut trees, its sandy beaches or dark rocks, with their border of white surf, all standing out in bold distinctness from a majestic background of blue-tinted and cloud-capped mountains on the mainland, the scene was a very attractive one. On the westernmost side of the entrance to Argyle Bay is Du Faure Island, a large island with hills upon it of the prettiest green, and a curious mass of rocks, so formed in the water that they should be a wonderful place for sound and fury when a storm is at its height and the waves are high; and over to the east there is the tiniest rocky islet, with three or four cocoanut trees growing upon it, appearing in the ocean as an oasis must appear in a desert, and yet so diminutive that the rock and its few palms seem little more than a delicate etching on the sky.
When right inside the bay the ships were completely landlocked in a harbour where the hills rose high from the water's edge, covered with vegetation to their summits, and where the harbour water found its way around jutting points of land and through island passages in such a manner that the prettiest little nooks were to be discovered in all directions; and in the seclusion and peacefulness which these inlets afforded the cocoanuts grew, and the natives of the place had built their villages. The villages were small, and the houses were so constructed that some of the roofs were considerably depressed in the centre, while in others the gable ends were very much peaked. They were close to the beach, and in the midst of dense vegetation, in which the cocoanut palm and the breadfruit tree were conspicuous among forest trees of great variety and beautiful foliage.
The male natives wore a strip of banana tree bark, and the women a dress formed apparently of several of their grass or fibre petticoats placed one over the other, a style of fashion which imparted to them a very bulky appearance. The hair of the men was mop-like, though not by any means so much so as was the case at Port Moresby, and in their hair were stuck long wooden combs, with handles in some instances more than two feet long, and ornamented at the end with a bit of fibrous material which was blown about like a piece of riband. Many of them had painted broad black lines across their foreheads and faces, and had cut in the lobes of their ears large holes, in which they had placed pieces of banana leaf or tortoise-shell earrings. One fellow we saw had his face and chest quite black, as though he were in mourning. The women wore their hair twisted into very small ringlets, and they were tattooed very elaborately in lines across the face and about the body, and as a rule appeared healthy and robust and not bad-looking, but a number of them were suffering from the usual skin disease. They were full of curiosity respecting their strange visitors, though most of them, on the occasion of our first visiting a village, very carefully refrained from approaching too near to us. I remember bargaining with one for the purchase of a basket; but, in consequence of her aptness for trade, it was some time before I could effect an exchange for the tobacco I was offering, and when I did succeed my skill in driving a bargain appeared to so charm a big male savage who had been looking on that he laughed outright, and, throwing his arms around me apparently in admiration of what I had done, absolutely hugged me—a proceeding to which I was obliged to submit, as he was a strapping fellow, and carried in one of his hands a formidable-looking tomahawk, circumstances which might have made any resentment on my part somewhat serious in its results.
Another incident in which one of the Nelson's party was concerned, besides being amusing, showed the thieving propensities of the natives. He had taken ashore, among other articles of trade, a number of pipes, and had endeavoured to exchange some of them for curios, which the natives, however, valued more highly than he was disposed to consider fair. So he refused to part with his pipes, and returned with them, as he believed, on board the Nelson. But on examining his pockets he discovered that, while he had been protesting to one native against the exorbitant price he was asking for what he was willing to sell, some other natives had quietly picked his pockets and cleared them of every pipe he possessed.
It was at one of the villages of Argyle Bay where we first saw any very definite signs of the manner of native burial. We had seen two or three small patches of ground fenced round in a very ordinary way in front of some of the native houses at Port Moresby, and had understood they were graves; but at Argyle Bay the graves of the native dead were much more distinct, and greater attention appeared to be paid to them. They were quite close to the house, fenced round with fresh saplings, and shaded by palm branches, and they were regarded as sacred from the approach of strangers. One grave was close to a large tree, in the lower branches of which were the remains of a kind of platform covered with decayed palm leaves, as though they had formed a temporary resting-place for a body before it was placed in the ground near the foot of the tree; but we could not get intelligible information from the natives on that point All a native would do, when asked by signs what had been in the tree, was to indicate that there was some one buried within the sapling fence near the tree, and by a shake of his head and a warning movement of his mouth hint to us that we had better go away. A string was stretched around one of the graves, and whenever a string is seen around a grave it must be avoided, or great offence may be given to the natives of a village. Under no circumstances, it is said, must any one ever pass under the string. If a white man visiting a village should accidentally discover a grave protected in this manner, or should even approach quite close to the string before he is aware of its presence, he does well to retrace his steps, for such a proceeding as that would at once indicate to the natives that the visit to the grave was unintentional, and that there was no desire on the part of the visitor to show it any disrespect.
The proclamation of the Protectorate was read, and the flag was hoisted at Argyle Bay on the morning of November 20, on the beach of an inlet where there were only a few native huts, but where the flag would be in full view of any vessels anchoring in the bay. The locality was mountainous, and covered with luxuriant and beautiful foliage, but it was in general appearance somewhat like Middle Harbour, in Port Jackson, and the view from the beach towards the fleet at anchor was unique in its loveliness. From this little sandy nook one could see the headlands and the islands, the mountains and the foliage, and the brilliantly tinted water, all of which had formed such an attractive scene when the vessels entered the harbour the previous day, in a new aspect. With the altered position in which these constituents of the original view were now before the eye, the scene had changed as a picture changes by a turn of the kaleidoscope, and new beauties had sprung into existence with the new combination and arrangement.
There was a tolerably large assemblage of natives present, and they were very attentive to what was read to them by the Commodore and by the interpreter. The latter, however, did not appear to be as intelligible to his audience as the interpreters at previous places had been, and a sullen-looking chief rose in a threatening mood with other natives from where they had been sitting, and, walking over to the interpreter, he addressed him in words which, from his manner of speech, seemed to be a peremptory demand for an explanation of something they had not understood. There was evidently in the minds of some of the natives a suspicion that the real object of the visit of the ships of war might not be what the Commodore explained through the interpreter; and as labour vessels had been, it was said, at Argyle Bay, there was doubtless some ground for suspicion, especially if, as was probably the case, the only vessels these natives had ever seen were the labour vessels and the men-of-war. The recollection of the incidents connected with the visits of the labour vessels must indeed have been fresh in the minds of many of these natives, for before the conclusion of the ceremony, one chief suddenly took to his heels and ran away into the bush; and another, who had been taken on board the Nelson to receive a present, being suddenly seized with the apprehension that he was to be taken away, jumped through one of the ship's ports into the water, swam to a canoe, and returned to the shore.
The Mission Station at South Cape—Cloudy mountain—Attack on the Mission Houses—A Terrible Time—Signs of Cannibalism—A Horrible Present—Decorated Human Skulls—Picturesque Native Graves—The South Cape Canoes.
Soon after the ceremony at Argyle Bay the squadron left for South Cape, near which there is a large mission station, the first established on the coast eastwards of Port Moresby, and six or seven years ago the residence of the Rev. J. Chalmers. South Cape is not on the mainland; it is on Stacey Island, and the island is separated from the mainland by a very narrow water passage. The harbour where the ships anchored is, in some respects, as Argyle Bay was, very much like the New Zealand Sounds. The land bordering the water is high and steep, and is covered with dense vegetation to the water's edge; the arms or branches of the harbour spread in different directions, and appear to lose themselves among the hills; and wherever a bit of sandy beach exists, there a small community of natives have built their houses, among the cocoanut trees, and made the place their home.
But the most conspicuous objects at South Cape are Cloudy Mountain and the mission station. Both are full of interest. The mountain ascends precipitously almost from the water to a height of 4600 feet, clothed with a dense tropical foliage, and having its summit wrapped in a thick veil of cloud, which is very seldom dispersed by the wind sufficiently to afford a glimpse of the two or three peaks around which it clings so tenaciously and in a manner to make the mountain a grand object in the general view which meets the eye at this part of the coast. The mission station is situated on that part of Stacey Island nearest to the mainland, on a point where the beach is backed by lofty green hills, and washed by the waters of the narrow passage dividing the island from the hills on the mainland. There, on a spot where the beauties of tropical nature abound, and where an air of peacefulness and the contentment of a simple life seem to brood over the place like a blessing, the neatly constructed, cool mission houses stand, enclosed in a well-made fence of small saplings, and so situated that native villages are on either side of the mission compound, in the same condition, so far as outward appearance goes, as the villages seen elsewhere, but in their close proximity to the mission appearing to cling with affection to their new protectors. In the garden around the mission houses the cocoanut and the bread-fruit tree are growing, with other fruit trees indigenous to New Guinea, and others again, such as the orange, introduced from elsewhere; and among the trees and about the mission houses the brown forms of the natives—men, women, and children—are continually moving, and imparting variety and animation to the scene.
A VILLAGE NEAR SOUTH CAPE.
A visit to the mission house where the principal native teacher and his wife are living, will find a juicy pineapple just brought from the garden, and cut into tempting slices, and some cocoanuts resting upon drinking-glasses, with the milk in the nuts ready to quench the thirst as only this cocoanut milk in a perfect condition, and in a burning climate like that of New Guinea, can quench the thirst, and at the same time prove itself a wholesome beverage; and between eating the pineapple and drinking from one of the cocoanuts, the visitor may, if Mr. Chalmers be present, listen to the wild early history of the station, when the natural peacefulness of the place was turned, by the hostility of the natives, and their determination to murder the missionaries, into a pandemonium with hundreds of dark fiends continually besieging the station and thirsting for the missionaries' and the teachers' blood, and only the arm of Providence to protect the little band shut up in the mission house. One can scarcely believe that only six or seven years ago the fence—which, though good enough as an ordinary means of enclosing a house or garden, seems but a very frail protection from attack—withstood the repeated efforts of a crowd of determined savages to get into the mission house; that during the peril and anxiety of the time, when the savages, baffled in their efforts to storm the place in a body, would lurk about the confines of the garden, and in the very garden itself, waiting with the stealth and ferocity of wild beasts to spring upon their victims and murder them the moment the opportunity presented itself, a Scotchwoman, the devoted wife of Mr. Chalmers, since deceased, was there; that, at last, the anxiety, the want of rest, the incessant alarms, the ever-threatening danger, became so unbearable that it was determined to put an end to such a state of existence by fighting the savages, and subduing them, or perishing in the attempt, death appearing to all to be far preferable to what they had to endure. Yet so it has been, and the circumstances of the time were so fraught with peril, the defence of the mission house was so stubborn, and certainly in its way so heroic, and the triumph of the brave little company in the end so complete, that on becoming acquainted with the story one can hardly fail to be reminded of those verses of the Laureate which so graphically describe the perils, the anxieties, the long-sustained defence, and the final triumph of another little British band who, though not employed exactly in the same work as the New Guinea missionaries are engaged in, were like them fighting for the same cause and under the same flag. Changing the words which describe the instruments and the methods of fighting employed on the occasion referred to by Tennyson to those which would picture the weapons and manner of fighting common to the New Guinea savages, there is in the following lines a not inapt description of the state of existence which Mr. Chalmers and his wife and their companions—a few native teachers and friendly New Guineans—experienced:—
There was no one marching to the relief of the mission house; there was no way of escape or of obtaining assistance; the perils of the time had simply to be borne. But thanks to the few "kindly dark faces," who were faithful through all, Mr. Chalmers was always warned when danger was imminent, and he and his wife and those with them remained unhurt. But when human nature could endure no more, and when a warning more earnest than any which had preceded it was received that he and his wife and their companions should at once try and escape in the little mission vessel, as the savages had met together in one of the villages and determined to murder them the following day, Mr. Chalmers saw that the crisis had arrived and something decisive must be done, and then it was that the decision to fight was arrived at. There were firearms in the house, though they had not been used, and every gun was loaded. Then placing the teachers in positions where they would be able to make the best defence possible, Mr. Chalmers threw open the doors of the house, and confronting the savages, called upon them to fight or disperse, and threatened, if they refused to do one or the other, that he would shoot the first man among them who at any time attempted to pass the fence. In the excitement of the moment, his words and demeanour were so passionate and resolute that the savages were cowed. They blustered and threatened, and there was a movement among some of them as though they were going to attack him there and then; but, on his again warning them, they seemed to see that he was terribly in earnest, and at last they withdrew to one of the villages to hold a council. Soon afterwards, it was made known to Mr. Chalmers that the natives had decided to let him be for the present, but they wanted him and those with him to leave the island. This he was determined not to do, even if it were possible, which it was not; and, recognizing the fact that by his show of determined resistance he had evidently impressed the natives with some sense of his power, he sent back a reply that he intended to stay where he was, and that he would have no peace with the natives until they dispersed and returned to their homes. Eventually they did disperse, and though for some little time afterwards the inmates of the mission house did not dare go far from the house because of the danger they were in of being assassinated, the relations between the natives and the mission people gradually improved, and now all that remains on the island of the perils of the time I have been describing is the memory of them.
All the way along the coast from Argyle Bay to South Cape we had found the scenery on the mainland very mountainous and very pretty, and in many places the shore was fringed with cocoanut plantations and other evidences of the presence of native villages. Inside the harbour at South Cape the villages were small, but they peeped out in a charming manner from the little inlets in which they had been built, the charm of their situation being greatly enhanced by the hills which rose behind them, and, except where the natives had cleared the land and placed it under cultivation, were clothed luxuriantly with trees and shrubs from base to summit.
The natives indulge in little ornamentation of dress, but they have the reputation of either being or having been cannibals; and we very soon began to find about their houses human skulls, thigh-bones, and other remains of cannibal feasts. We saw no signs of recent feasts, but the skulls and bones were so displayed in front of the houses, and some of the natives possessing the skulls and bones could so graphically describe by signs what had been done with the flesh that had been upon them, and to what part of the human body the bones belonged, that cannibalism must have been practised about South Cape not very long ago. It is certain that the natives of some of the villages around this locality are at the present time cannibals—that they eat human flesh, whenever they fight and succeed in capturing any of their enemies; and Mr. Chalmers can describe how on one occasion his late wife was brought as a special present a piece of a human breast, wrapped in leaves, and carried in a basket. An incident so horrible to civilized people as that is equalled only by another of this gentleman's missionary experiences in New Guinea among cannibals, when he saw, on landing at a certain village, fully a dozen fresh skulls, which had just before his arrival been detached from as many bodies that had been devoured at a great cannibal orgie. One cannibal tribe he has been in the habit of visiting invariably asked him when he went among them to show them his breast, and for a time he did so, but immediately he discovered that the breast was regarded as a choice morsel at their cannibal feasts, he took care to keep his shirt and his coat closely buttoned. Yet he thinks the cannibal natives are the finest of fellows when you get to know them, and says that once they become friendly with you they will go through fire and water to serve you. Some of the human skulls hung before the houses at South Cape were decorated with cowrie shells, and in one or two places were seen the stone pavements which are understood to be the places upon which the bodies intended to be eaten are received by the chiefs before being prepared for cooking.
The natives about the mission house were ordinary-looking creatures, with some attempt at dress visible in their costumes; but those of the women who had been induced to wear calico gowns would have looked much better without them, for, inasmuch as they retained their grass petticoats under the gowns, their appearance was that of a lot of animated misshapen funnels. In their usual dress, both the male and the female natives were attired similarly to the natives we had observed elsewhere; but in general appearance, many of the men were fierce, sullen-looking fellows, and some of them would be found lying upon the floor in the dark interior of a house, and as we approached glaring at us with the expression of a savage watch-dog. The roofs of the houses were in many instances of that description which is considerably depressed in the centre, and peaked at both ends, and each of the houses appeared to be divided by a mat into two compartments, the one fronting the platform being used by men, and the other by women and children.
Close to many of the houses and near the beach were small plantations containing banana trees, the mammy-apple palm, a few tall cocoanut trees, and perhaps a splendid specimen of the croton which we found growing to great perfection at several parts of the coast; and in the centre of these plantations were graves. Nothing of the kind could have been prettier, nothing more appropriate; nothing could show more respect for the dead. The simple untutored savages of this part of the coast had laid their dead to rest in situations and amid surroundings fit for the last resting-places of poets. Each grave was enclosed within a fence of small logs, and this was roofed over with a roof similar to those of the houses, but smaller and more picturesquely constructed; and in some cases the grave was not only covered by a roof, but was shut in like a vault with walls, the material for both roof and walls being the leaf of the pandanus, used as a kind of thatch. At the principal end of the roof, that which was evidently the entrance to the grave, large white cowrie shells were hanging in bunches or singly—in some instances down both sides of the front from the gable—and in such a manner as to impart to the structure a very ornamental and yet chaste appearance; and the ground in the immediate proximity of the grave was carefully strewn with stones and pebbles. Then around the plantation was a substantially constructed stone and wood fence, with wooden uprights, upon which were stuck numbers of cocoanuts, apparently as offerings to the spirits; and about the fence some shrubs and plants, several of them bearing flowers, were springing up so thickly as to promise that before long they would completely hide the stones and the logs in their verdant embrace. How pretty and how peaceful all this looked may be understood by any one who can imagine the high-wooded hills on every side; the water of the harbour, which, except where it rippled on the beach, was bluer than the bluest sky; the loving manner in which the palms seem to cluster about the grave, and, while shading it from the rays of the sun, sighing a requiem as the wind rustled their leaves; and the sacredness of these graves to every native in the village. In some cases the graves and their surroundings were of a humbler kind than I have tried to describe—in one instance, everything was similar to what we had seen at Argyle Bay; but however humble they were, they showed signs of receiving careful attention, and in all cases they appeared to be regarded as hallowed ground.
Two things at South Cape which were new to us in our experience of natives along the coast, were the manner in which these natives expressed surprise, and the elaborate decoration of some of their canoes. The first visit of a canoe to the Nelson, and the first conception of her enormous size, were instantly followed by a prolonged cry like a shrill "Oh-h-h-h!" and wherever a boat's crew went for the first time the natives would give vent to this peculiar cry of astonishment. If we passed a canoe, the number of men in our boat, and their style of pulling, and probably also the boat itself, would at once cause the cry to be raised by the natives as they paddled by, and if we landed it was just the same. They were evidently struck with amazement at their strange visitors. They came about the ships in large numbers to trade, and it was through this circumstance that we were able to see what we did of their canoes. Many of the ordinary canoes had a line of streamers stretching from two upright sticks placed one at each end of the canoe, and at the outside edge of the outrigger. These streamers, which were similar to a line of small flags, were simply pieces of sun-dried palm leaf like that of the pandanus, but they had a very attractive appearance as they fluttered in the wind, especially as each of the upright sticks from which they were stretched had upon its point a large and handsome shell. Other canoes were ornamented with rows of large white cowries, a style of ornamentation, however, which was far more extensively adopted in the case of trading canoes. These canoes were very large, and they were not merely a huge hollowed-out log with an outrigger, but the log had carved ends and high topsides, the latter made from planks cut, probably, from the sides of old canoes, and securely sewn to the sides of the hollow log, and then apparently caulked in some rough manner. This has the effect of making the canoe very roomy, and enabling it to carry a very large number of natives and a considerable quantity of trade, and as the outside of the canoe is painted white or limewashed, with some devices in red to relieve the unbroken white colour, it has, with its strings of cowrie shells at the bow and the stern—ninety or a hundred shells being hung at each end—a very interesting appearance, and when its mat sail is set it travels through the water with great rapidity. One of these canoes, in the desire of its crew to make fast to the Nelson after sailing in from sea, gave us an exhibition of the quickness of the natives in overcoming difficulties. There was a strong current running where the Nelson was lying, and the natives in the canoe failing to catch a rope thrown to them from the ship, the canoe began to rapidly drift by, which meant that it must either beat up to the ship again or abandon the idea of getting alongside. Equal to the occasion, however, one native leaped from the bow of the canoe into the water, and, swimming towards the ship, caught the end of the rope that had been previously missed, while another native leaped into the water from the canoe with one of its ropes, and the two natives meeting in the water the ropes were joined, and the canoe was hauled alongside the ship without further difficulty.
Returning Native Labour to their Homes—Remarkable and Affecting Scene—Joy to some Homes, and others left in sorrow—how the labour Vessels entrap the Natives.
At daylight on the morning of Sunday, the 23rd of November, the Espiegle left Stacey Island in advance of the Nelson, bound for Basilaki or Moresby Island, with seventeen of the natives from Queensland, whose homes were on Moresby Island, and on Sunday afternoon the vessel anchored in Hoop Iron Bay. There was immediately a remarkable and affecting scene between the natives on the vessel and their friends and relatives on shore. The seventeen natives and others who are said to be still in Queensland, had been given up by their friends for dead, and their relatives and friends were in mourning for them. In some cases, so long had the returned natives been away that the period of mourning by their friends had expired, and their possessions had been divided amongst those entitled to share them, and the revulsion of feeling when it became known that seventeen of those who had been given up for lost had returned may be imagined. As the Espiegle anchored, an old native, the chief of Moresby Island, already mentioned, was seated on a hammock, gazing earnestly at the shore, and presently a canoe containing a man and boy approached the ship. A recognition occurred instantly, for it afterwards transpired that the man in the canoe was the chiefs brother; and when the canoe came close to the ship, and its occupants boarded the vessel, tears from the three natives flowed copiously, and, rushing to meet each other, they fell one upon the other's neck, rubbed noses, gave expression to loud wailings, and manifested other signs of sorrow and joy. Captain Bridge and Mr. Chalmers took the chief ashore, and there a still more affecting scene took place. The chief appeared as though he had determined to play the stoic and not exhibit too much feeling, and so, when he stepped from the boat on to the beach, he folded his arms and stood looking at the houses of his village and at the natives on the beach before him. He had stood, however, but a few seconds when his eyes overflowed again, and he burst into tears. Then, the astonishment amongst the natives at his reappearance giving place to joy on his return, his friends, full of that strange mixture of joy and grief which is common to all mankind, crowded around him, and several women, weeping bitterly and making the air resound with their wailings, threw their arms about him. The whole of the natives then sat down upon the beach, and weeping and wailings were continued for perhaps a quarter of an hour.
Later on in the day the remainder of the returned natives were taken on shore, and then the weeping and cries of joy and grief were much greater. There was a large crowd of natives on shore anxiously waiting for the boat to reach the sand, but nothing was said or done until the boat had touched the beach and a boy of about fourteen had got out of the boat. Then the wailings and demonstrations of joy began, and the boy was seized at once by several women, who hugged and wept over him. While this was taking place the other natives conveyed ashore in the boat were landing their little possessions in the way of luggage, and until they had completed this they were not interfered with. But the moment they had got all their luggage out of the boat they were set upon, and then the weeping and wailing became extraordinarily loud, and was no doubt partly due to the grief of those whose friends were not among the returned, and are still in Queensland, if they have not died there.
When the chief was landed in the morning, some of the natives said to Mr. Chalmers, "Where are the other boys? You have brought joy to some homes, but some are left in sorrow." They were told that they had better come to the Commodore and see him personally about it; but they were frightened, and refused to leave the island in any vessel. One native who has a son in Queensland implored Captain Bridge to bring the boy back to his home. "Now," he entreated; "go to-day, and we will fill the ship with pigs." Both Captain Bridge and Mr. Chalmers did all they could to induce this man to leave by the Espiegle, in order that he might tell his story to Commodore Erskine, but without success, and a movement of the screw of the vessel caused him to suddenly dart through one of the portholes of the vessel into a canoe, from fear that there was to be an attempt to take him away by force.
Grieved as many of the natives were, however, at the fact that some of their friends had not been brought back, they were all rejoiced more or less at the return of those landed from the Espiegle, and they tried to express their gratitude by every means in their power. They shook the hands of the boats' crews, patted them, smiled, and talked, and before the Espiegle left they sent on board to Captain Bridge a present of a large pig and yams, taro, and sago. The statement of the returned natives with regard to the period for which they had engaged themselves was corroborated by the natives of the village. They all said they had engaged for three moons only; they had not been kidnapped—they had gone away of their own free will, but only for three moons, and they went in order to get a tomahawk and bags of trade. They had been kept away so long that their friends had given them up for dead, and now looked upon them as having been brought back from the grave.
During the day Captain Bridge had some chiefs brought on board, and he explained to them through Mr. Chalmers and a native interpreter concerning the Protectorate, and read the proclamation. The names of sixteen Moresby Island natives still in Queensland were given to Captain Bridge, and when they were given the chiefs begged him to get these natives returned. The chiefs were too fearful of also being taken to Queensland to leave in the Espiegle for Dinner Island, where the Nelson was lying, but they were very earnest in their pleadings for the return of their absent people; and how very earnest they were was apparent not only from their actions and their words, but also from the circumstances that at night, while there was great rejoicing in the houses of the natives who had been brought back, there was in other houses which were still desolate nothing but weeping.
The Commodore is very strongly of opinion, as the missionaries, Mr. Lawes and Mr. Chalmers, are, that the natives when engaged by the labour vessels were under the impression that they would not be away from their homes more than three months, and he has probably reported this to the Admiralty, arid at the same time conveyed to the Governor of Queensland his conviction that, inasmuch as the natives were not properly acquainted with the period of time they were expected to serve in Queensland, they were engaged under false pretences. This may lead to the New Guinea natives now in Queensland being returned to their homes before their usual period of service expires.
Dinner Island—An Enormous War-canoe—Evidences of Fever—Cannibal Signs again—Rescuing a Girl from Cannibals—A Shocking Scene—A Labour-vessel Incident—The Killerton Islands—Wounded Natives—Challenging H.M.S. "Swinger."
H.M.S. Nelson left South Cape early on the morning of Sunday, November 23, for Dinner Island, the Swinger and the Dart going a short distance ahead in order to take soundings on the way, and act as pilots. The route taken on leaving the South Cape anchorage was not that by which the squadron had entered the harbour from sea, but between Stacey Island and the mainland. It is characteristic of the New Guinea coast that although coral reefs abound, the water, wherever a channel exists, is very deep; and so, though the passage between the point on Stacey Island, where the mission station has been established, and the mainland immediately opposite is exceedingly narrow, the channel is as safe to a well-handled vessel as an open seaway. For some miles the course steered lay between the mainland and a number of picturesque islands, all of which showed evidences of population wherever a bit of sandy beach or a secluded nook was to be seen; and though after these islands were passed there was a stretch of open sea for the ships to cross, we soon came upon more islands, and early in the afternoon we reached our intended anchorage.
We found Dinner Island a very pretty spot, small in size, but well cultivated, with palms and banana trees in plenty, and fringed with a beach of white sand and the lovely water tints produced by an adjacent coral reef. The island owes its name to the circumstance of Captain Moresby and some of his companions, during the cruise of H.M.S. Basilisk on the coast, landing there on one occasion to dine; and close by are the Hayter and Heath Islands, on the former of which Captain Moresby hoisted the British flag. Dinner Island belongs, it is understood, to the London Missionary Society, who are said to have purchased it from the natives for a very small sum of money represented by "trade," and there is a mission station there.
The natives on these islands were in general much the same as we had seen at South Cape and Argyle Bay; but those who assembled on board the Nelson on the Sunday evening for the usual ceremony of eating rice, hearing the Protectorate explained, and receiving presents, were a very poor-looking lot of people. A number of them connected in one way or another with the mission station wore clothes—in most cases coloured shirts—but one or two were dressed in trousers as well as shirts. The remainder were nude, with the exception of the covering around the waist. The only ornaments they wore were an armlet on the right arm, earrings through the lobes of the ears, and the usual comb stuck in their hair. Some of the canoes used by the natives of these islands were larger than any we had seen, and elaborately ornamented at each end with cowrie-shells. One made from the trunk of an enormous tree, with top sides and a very large outrigger, was found drawn up on the beach at Heath Island, and well protected from the sun by a rudely constructed shed. This canoe was capable of accommodating a very large number of natives, and must have been built for the purpose of conveying the warriors of the village on their fighting expeditions.
On Heath Island we saw for the first time evidences of fever among the people; but there was nothing surprising in this, when we noticed that the village where the natives suffering from this fever were observed was situated on very wet, ill-smelling, low land. Skulls and other human bones were hanging about the houses in several of the villages; but while the natives either were or had recently been cannibals, they had not neglected to cultivate the ground about their houses, and well-kept plantations of cocoanuts, bananas, sugar-cane, yams, and taro were to be found in many places.
On Dinner Island we saw a little girl who, four years ago, was rescued from cannibals on Hayter Island. There are two accounts given of her discovery and her rescue, and though they differ in certain of the details, they are each sufficiently sensational, and clearly show the barbarity of the New Guinea cannibals. One story, and that which is commonly told, narrates how the child was saved at a time when she was being tossed from one savage to another, in order that she might be made giddy before her throat was cut by a savage, who was standing close by with a knife waiting to commit the murder. But the second account of the incident, which was given me by Mr. Chalmers, contained no reference to the tossing of the child, though it is quite as revolting in other respects. According to Mr. Chalmers, the child and her mother had been captured by the cannibals, and the child had witnessed the murder of her mother and the cooking of a portion of the body for the cannibal feast, when the party were surprised by the arrival on the scene of a white man, who, with some companions, had landed to shoot on the island. The uncooked head and some other parts of the body of the murdered woman had been placed in a basket, while the trunk was made ready and cooked for the feast, and the poor child was close by, a terror-stricken witness to all the terrible proceedings. Horrified at what he saw, and fearing that the cannibals would kill and eat the girl also, the white visitor determined to rescue her, and, if necessary to effect his purpose, fire at and kill the chief who was present. Firearms, it so happened, were not needed, for the natives were willing to part with the girl for some tomahawks, and, the exchange being effected the child was taken to Dinner Island, where she has remained ever since. She is now a well-grown girl of fourteen years of age, and is known by the name of Mary. What her fate would have been if she had not been rescued from the cannibals, it is not easy to say. Mr. Chalmers' opinion is that she would not have been killed; she would have been adopted by the chief and kept as one of his children, and a husband found for her when she arrived at a marriageable age. Cannibals, according to his knowledge of them, do not kill children; but whether this be so or not, Mary is far better off at the mission station on Dinner Island than she could have been by remaining with the inhuman wretches who murdered and ate her mother.
The ceremony of reading the proclamation and hoisting the flag was performed early on the morning following our arrival at Dinner Island. The flagstaff was erected near the beach, in the midst of the cocoanut trees, and not far from the mission house; and as there was as much attention to detail in the ceremony as there had been at the most important places we had previously visited, the scene was both interesting and picturesque. When the ceremony had concluded, Commodore Erskine, Captain Bridge, and a number of other officers, visited the mission house, and there lying upon a table was found a singular memento of the visits to New Guinea of the notorious labour schooner Hopeful. It was a Wesleyan hymn-book, given, it was understood, by the master of the schooner to one of the teachers at Dinner Island, and underneath the name of the donor was the inscription "From the above to Eboneza, for having explained to recruits the Queensland agreement, May 18, '84." With a knowledge of the doings of the Nelson along the New Guinea coast, and the presence on the Nelson of some of the victims of the evil practices resorted to by that and other labour vessels, the visitors could only regard the hymn-book with astonishment.
Very soon after the ceremony at Dinner Island the Nelson was on her way again eastwards, her destination this time being the Killerton Islands. The Swinger had sailed earlier for Milne Bay, for the purpose of returning to their homes some of the natives who had been transhipped to the Nelson at Port Moresby from the schooner Elsea, With our departure from Dinner Island, the fine weather which had almost uninterruptedly attended our proceedings began to show signs of changing to rain, and it was not long before the wind became squally, and the atmosphere so thick with moisture that it was deemed prudent to stop the engines of the Nelson until the weather had cleared and land could be seen again.
The course was through the China Straits, with the mainland and the islands on either side quite close enough for us to observe, when the atmosphere was sufficiently clear, that there was a greenness and a luxuriance about the grass and the vegetation much more pronounced than we had noticed westward. This circumstance, and the fact that the rain began to fall frequently and heavily, seemed to indicate that the rainy season was setting in; but Mr. Chalmers informed us that rain falls on this part of the coast almost continuously, or, as he put it, for eighteen months out of every twenty-four, and doubtless this almost constant downfall accounts for the particularly fertile appearance which this part of the coast presents.
There is nothing specially attractive about the Killerton Islands. That on which the usual ceremony of hoisting the flag took place was a very small coral island, covered with coral sand, and having upon it a mission station. Palms of various kinds and banana trees grew round about the mission houses, and in that respect the island was pretty; but there was not about it anything of the interest which the lofty hills, the rich natural foliage, and the picturesque inlets along the line of beach had created at other places. Fruit and vegetables, however, were plentiful, and bananas, mammy apples or paw paws (which are very much like the rock melon), mangoes, a kind of custard apple, and yams and taro, were procurable in large quantities, and very cheaply. The mission houses were of a kind somewhat different from what we had previously seen. The principal house was constructed of pandanus thatch, and round about this house were a number of small huts the walls of which were formed of some kind of fibrous bark, stripped probably from the pandanus or the banana tree, and fastened to. a light framework of wood. These huts were peculiar in being of two stories, the upper story, which was reached by means of a log, with huge notches cut upon it for steps, being evidently used as a sleeping apartment, as the floor was neatly matted, and the room contained a bed and some plain but neat arrangements for the toilet.
That building, however, which attracted most notice from the visitors was one close to the beach, giving shelter to some wounded natives. There had been a fight, I think, the very day before our arrival. A hostile tribe of natives on the mainland had attacked some of the natives of the Killertons, and three men belonging to the mission island had been seriously wounded in several places about their bodies with spears. We saw them with their families in the hut or shed which the mission teachers had set apart for their use. The building looked very new, and probably had only recently been erected. Small saplings had been put closely together for walls; the roof was of the usual thatch; and the floor was the clean-looking coral sand of the island. The structure had an exceedingly neat appearance, and there was such an air of innocence and simplicity about its occupants, particularly in the aspect presented by the women and children, who were evidently very sorrowful and anxious respecting the condition of the wounded men, and these men were so quiet and patient, that it was impossible not to feel sympathy for them. All were seated upon the floor, the wounded natives leaning against something placed to support their backs and give them ease, and one of these poor fellows was so unfortunate as to have spear-wounds in the arm, the side, and the thigh.
The native tribes in the neighbourhood of the Killerton Islands are very warlike and bloodthirsty, and many of them are cannibals. In fact, fighting and cannibalism are said to be frequent in several localities along this part of the New Guinea coast. So warlike, indeed, are some of the tribes, that one chief not long ago sent a challenge to Captain Marx, of the Swinger, offering to fight that vessel; and during our stay at the Killertons it was stated that some of the natives on the mainland had been threatening to fight and to capture even the Nelson. The courage of the chief who challenged the Swinger disappeared when he saw that vessel commence target practice with some of her guns; but the fact that the challenge was sent, and that the threat with respect to the Nelson was made, shows how natural fighting is to these people. The flag was hoisted early on the morning after our arrival from Dinner Island, and was left in the charge of the principal native teacher, who was instructed by the Commodore to hoist it whenever a ship came to the islands; and two copies of the proclamation were given him, so that all white persons who visited the place might know what had been done, and that the islands and the coast of the mainland were now under the protection of Queen Victoria.
In the midst of Cannibals—A Cannibal Feast—Cannibal Chiefs on board the "Nelson"—An Interesting Interview.
It has been already mentioned that three of the Elsea natives were returned to their homes at Milne Bay by H.M.S. Swinger, Captain J. L. Marx. The visit of the Swinger to Milne Bay proved as interesting as that of the Espiegle to Moresby Island, for it gave us an introduction to cannibals surprised almost in the very act of feasting on the bodies of some of their enemies. We had for several days been in the region of cannibalism, and had found old skulls and human leg-bones hanging at the entrances to and inside the native houses; but we had seen no sign of any recent cannibal orgie, and were therefore considerably interested when the Swinger rejoined the Nelson at the Killerton Islands, with a cannibal chief on board who had so recently been gorging himself with human flesh that sufficient time had not yet elapsed for him to have been able to digest his horrid meal.
Milne Bay is peopled with cannibals, and very little intercourse has taken place between them and white men. They are constantly at war, one tribe with another, and those who are killed or taken prisoners are invariably cooked and eaten. On the morning of the Swinger's visit the Rabi natives had been fighting with another tribe, and had killed two men and one woman. The bodies of the two men they had cooked and eaten just before the Swinger arrived; the body of the woman they had thrown away—not because it was not likely to prove as palatable as the others, but because the others had proved sufficient to satisfy for the time their inhuman appetite.
A few hours' earlier arrival off the place would have revealed to Captain Marx and Mr. Chalmers the whole process of cannibalism—how the bodies, when brought from the scene of the fight, were put over a fire and singed; how the chiefs of the war-canoes which had been instrumental in killing the three natives had the singed bodies brought before them, while they sat on a kind of stone pavement to receive them, as it were, in state; how the chiefs then directed the bodies to be cut up; and how they were then cut up, and the various portions cooked by being boiled in pots (which are never afterwards used), or wrapped in banana leaves and roasted on hot stones; how the men of the tribe, in order to prepare themselves for the feast, shaved off a part of their hair and painted their faces hideously—first an intense black, and then relieving this blackness with a series of white lines down the forehead and nose and round the eyes; how the tidbits—the breast and the shin-bones, the latter because they are full of marrow—were handed to the chiefs, and the other portions, except the heads, to the rest of the savages; how the skulls were cleaned and hung up as trophies at the doors of the chiefs' houses; and how, amid all the excitement attending these proceedings, the women and children stood by, equally excited, but, in accordance with custom, not sharing in the feast All this might have been seen, for according to the best accounts it is an exact description of what takes place at the cannibal ceremony which the natives engage in; not so much, it appears, because they like the taste of human flesh—though they do like it, and say that the flavour of pig is nothing to it—but because of their insatiable longing for revenge. In the case under notice a neighbouring tribe attacked the Rabi people three months ago, and killed and ate one of their number, and the fight and cannibalism on the morning of the Swinger's appearance were the result of the previous enmity.
When the Swinger had approached as near the shore in Milne Bay as safety would allow, a boat containing Captain Marx, Mr. Chalmers, and an interpreter, left the vessel, in order to land at a village and induce the chiefs of the place to come on board the Swinger, so that they might be taken to the Killerton Islands and witness there the ceremony of proclaiming the Protectorate and hoisting the British flag. The appearance of the natives on shore was suspicious, even before the boat left the ship. A commotion could be observed among them. The boys and girls were sent into the bush, and then the women, carrying as many of their household goods as they could manage to take with them, followed. It was evident that the man-of-war was regarded as a vessel come to punish them for some misdoing. Many of the men also disappeared; but others came down to the beach, unarmed as far as could be seen, but in all probability having their spears within easy reach in the bush behind them. Observing all this, the Swinger steamed in a little closer to the land, so as to be able to assist the boat if the natives on shore should prove hostile, and the interpreter was directed by Mr. Chalmers to get into the bow of the boat, and shout to the people on shore that those in the boat and the ship were friends. This the interpreter did, and, the natives showing more confidence, Mr. Chalmers was able to get two chiefs into the boat; and then, ascertaining that another chief he wanted was away at a village situated at another part of the bay, the boat was immediately taken in that direction.
This other village was the one in which the cannibal feast had just taken place, and there also there were signs of fear that the Swinger had come to do the natives some harm. But Mr. Chalmers and Captain Marx landed with the interpreter, and it was explained to the natives who had come amongst them, and also that three native boys had been brought back from Queensland, and that the chiefs were wanted to receive them. The principal chief said they were glad to have these boys back, but he wanted to know where the others were who had been taken away, and fifteen or sixteen names of natives taken by labour vessels were mentioned. All these had gone away, he said, for three moons, and as they had not come back, and the three moons had long since expired, their friends had given them up for dead, and had cooked food for them and then thrown it away. He was told that he had better come to the Commodore and let him know all about it; and Mr. Chalmers stood alongside of the chief, so as to prevent him, if possible, from getting away until he had consented to come. As at the first-mentioned village, so it was at the second with regard to the women and children; and Mr. Chalmers asked the chief and the natives around him what they meant by sending the women and children into the bush—were they going to fight? They hung their heads, but said they wished it to be peace between the strangers and themselves. Mr. Chalmers, knowing that there was no proper security against attack on the part of the natives while the women and the children were away, at once directed the interpreter to say there would be no peace until the women and children were brought back, and then gradually they came back.
Many of the natives had their cannibal paint upon their faces, but it was not until the Swinger's boat had returned to the ship with three chiefs that it became known that there had been a cannibal feast in the village that morning. Then it was that the story of the fight and of the subsequent cooking and eating of the two bodies was recounted by one of the chiefs, and something of the horrible scene which the boat party had so narrowly missed witnessing, understood. The Swinger anchored at the Killerton Islands on the night of Monday, November 24, but before leaving Milne Bay Captain Marx read the proclamation concerning the Protectorate, and had it interpreted to about fifty natives who assembled on board the vessel.
On the Monday night the three cannibal chiefs were brought on board the Nelson, The principal one—he who had been feasting in the morning, and who came to be known on board as "Cannibal Jack"—was in all respects, so far as appearances went, a bad type of native, for his face was cruel and treacherous. Small, bright black eyes, deep set, looked out from beneath heavy eyebrows, and a large mouth and rather thick lips protruded savagely. The lines on his forehead converged at the nose, so that when he elevated his eyebrows to express anything of which indifference was a part, he appeared as though he had been deeply tattooed; and his chin, which was also marked, receded very much. He was naked with the exception of his girdle, and his limbs, though not very muscular, were lithe and active. His hair, which was considerably shorter than that of the Port Moresby natives and somewhat woolly, was bound by something that permitted of two greasy-looking ends hanging at the back of his neck; and in the front of his hair was stuck his comb, which was made of several long wooden prongs bound together, so that at one end the prongs spread out like a fan, and at the other were joined together in a handle. This position for the comb, it was said, was a sign of peace; but until he was induced to wear the comb in this fashion, it was stuck behind his ear as a sign of defiance. On his arms were two broad, black-coloured, grass-made armlets; in his ears small tortoiseshell and red shell earrings; and round his neck there was a plaited black cord necklace.
His companions were strikingly different. One of them was even more savage in appearance, for his features were painted with something like tar, so that a broad black line passed down the forehead and the nose to the lip, and then lines of the same kind from the comers of the mouth and of the eyes. In his case the hair was worn in a huge mop, with a long comb stuck in the top of it, the handle of the comb being ornamented at the ends with black beads and strings; and so low did the hair come down over his forehead that it hung penthouse fashion over his eyes, giving him not a little of the aspect of a wild animal. The third man, strange to say, had more benevolence than anything else about his features. There certainly was nothing of the bloodthirsty savage in his appearance, and as he had some very respectable grey whiskers, and a still more respectable-looking bald head and portly figure, he would, with a white face instead of a black one, have made a very presentable Methodist preacher, or, with his black face, a New Guinea Uncle Tom. He was evidently very old, for he could not chew his betel-nut; and to prevent himself from being altogether deprived of it, he had with him in his basket a small pestle and mortar, with which he pounded the nut before putting it into his mouth. It was he whom the Commodore appointed the principal chief of the Milne Bay district.
After the ceremony of reading the proclamation and hoisting the flag on shore, the Commodore had the three cannibal chiefs and other chiefs brought into his cabin, and he there had interpreted by Rev. W. G. Lawes and a native teacher the address which had been read at the various places visited along the coast, in order that the natives might clearly understand what was being done. The chiefs, who were seated on the cabin floor with their legs bent under them, the three cannibals appearing as already stated and most of the others attired in coloured shirts and with a handkerchief or cloth wrapped around their waists, listened to what was read to them, and signified that they understood it. They were then asked by the Commodore if they had any complaints to make to him now that he was there. The chief with the grey beard and the bald head spoke first, and with evident earnestness. He said that their children had been taken away from them (he meant by the labour vessels), and he was very anxious that they should be returned. "How many?" the Commodore inquired. The chief extended his hand and began counting on his fingers, mentioning the names of the natives as he did so consecutively, and another chief began to do the same, when they were told that the names had been given to the Commodore by Captain Marx, and therefore the Commodore was acquainted with them. "Cannibal Jack" was asked if he had anything to say. His face immediately wore an extraordinary expression, the movements of his mouth and his eyebrows causing the wrinkles to dart about like rays. One man had been taken from his village, but had been returned the day before by the Swinger. A chief among those who wore some clothing said a man had been taken from a village close at hand, and this appearing to be the extent of the labour vessels' recruiting in that part of New Guinea, the chiefs generally were questioned as to how long it had been understood that the natives who had been recruited were to remain away, and they all said that these natives were to be away for three moons. Then the Commodore told them that one of the objects of the Protectorate was to prevent fighting and bloodshed amongst themselves, and that he was sorry to hear Milne Bay had rather a bad reputation in this respect. For the future, he said, through the interpreter, they must not fight amongst themselves, and all disputes that arose amongst them must be reported to the one chief at Vaga Vaga (the old man with the grey whiskers), who would inform the Queen's officers. Then he directed the old chief to rise from the floor, and, taking him by the hand, he put upon the chiefs right arm a porcelain armlet as a mark or emblem to represent the position the chief was appointed to fill. The old fellow received the decoration with great seriousness, the other chiefs looking on attentively and in silence; and when they were all seated again, the subject of cannibalism was mentioned.
Addressing himself to the chief who had been concerned the day previous in the eating of the two men, the Commodore expressed his sorrow that on his first visit to that part of New Guinea he should have heard of a fight between some of the natives, and of cannibalism. He was there, he said, to express his regret that cannibalism still existed, and to say that Queen Victoria expected her children to give up that sort of thing; that cannibalism was a thing of the past, and therefore he hoped from that day forth the natives of Milne Bay would give it up. The cannibal addressed was asked if he understood what the Commodore intended to convey, and what he had to say in reply. He signified that he did understand it, but his only reply, at first, was a raising of his eyebrows and a movement of his lips, half contemptuous and half submissive. Then he said something which was interpreted to mean that he would tell his people what the Commodore had said, and that they must not practise cannibalism any more. "Tell him and the others," the Commodore then said to Mr. Lawes, "that I am able to give them a proof of what Queen Victoria and her officers will do for them, inasmuch as I brought twenty-six natives from Port Moresby to be returned to their homes in New Guinea, and a number of these have already been returned, some of them yesterday. This should be a proof to them that the Queen's officers have been sent to protect them."
Those of the twenty-six natives from the Elsea still on board the Nelson, namely, six of the escapees, had been brought into the cabin before the interview with the chiefs commenced; and, pointing to them, the Commodore had it explained to the chiefs that these six escapees belonged to islands to which the Commodore could not go, and therefore he intended to leave them with the teacher at the mission station ashore, who would see that they were taken to their homes, and he hoped the chiefs would do all they could to assist these natives in getting to their homes. "Tell these chiefs," he continued, "that I have myself brought these natives here as a sign to all the native tribes of friendship and protection." Most of the chiefs intimated that they understood this, but the two cannibals with the savage features were silent and gloomy. Presents were then distributed, each of the chiefs passing by the large pier-glass in the cabin as he left the room with what had been given him, and manifesting much astonishment at discovering himself in the glass; and "Cannibal Jack" receiving an additional reminder from the Commodore at parting, that for the future he was to eat no more men.
Teste Island—Remarkable Upheavals from the Sea—The Last Ceremony on Shore—The Commodore's Concluding Address—Homeward bound.
The last place visited by H.M.S. Nelson, and the last place of departure, was Teste Island, which was left at two o'clock in the afternoon of Wednesday, November 26. The Nelson arrived there, with the Espiegle, the Raven, and the Dart, the previous evening, from the Killerton Islands, by way of Dinner Island, where the Raven was waiting for the flagship with mails from Cooktown.
Teste Island lies some distance from New Guinea, so far, in fact, that the New Guinea coast disappears from view long before Teste Island is reached. But there is other land in sight. The weather was squally when the Nelson was there, with heavy showers of rain—a very common thing in this region, it is said—and it was therefore only dimly that the outline of the Basilaki, or Moresby Island, the scene of the Espiegle's interesting visit, was apparent to the eye. But nearer, and close to Teste Island, there were some remarkable upheavals from the sea, or the remnants of some sunken land, in the form of rocky eminences towering high in the air, the great cliffs being ornamented with a crest of vegetation extensive enough only to provide a home for seabirds. One of these solitary rocks is called the Bell Rock, because its shape is very much the same as that of a bell; but the name is not inappropriate for another reason, as when the weather is boisterous and the waves are high the breakers must dash against the cliffs (which in places have been hollowed out into caves) with a booming sound that should be, above the noise of the storm, a warning to the mariner as distinct as the sight of the white broken water. Teste Island itself is a few miles of land in the form of hills rising, as emeralds do from their setting, above a circlet of tropical vegetation, in which the cocoanut palms show conspicuously, and guarded, as it were, by a fringe of coral, upon which the sea breaks some distance from the beach.
The men-of-war anchored on the north side of the island, where only the vegetation bordering the beach, and the hills with signs of cultivation on their slopes, could be seen. On the south side there is a mission station, as well as a native village, containing, perhaps, five hundred natives. But circumstances did not permit of the Nelson's anchoring at the south side of the island, and it was therefore decided that the proclamation of the Protectorate should be read and the flag hoisted near the beach on the north side. Accordingly a spar was towed on shore early on the morning of the 26th of November, and set up as a flagstaff; and between eight and nine o'clock a detachment of blue-jackets and marines and a large number of officers landed to take part in the ceremony of reading the proclamation and hoisting the flag. There were not observed in this, the concluding, ceremony of the series arranged by the Commodore, all the details which were associated with the proceedings at Port Moresby and at two or three other places, where all the éclat possible was given to what transpired; but there was something very picturesque and fitting about it The cocoanut and mammy-apple palms clustered in a grove about the flagstaff, and, with the ordinary forest vegetation, formed a very pretty surrounding to the company of blue-jackets and marines drawn up in hollow square, with their colours—a white ensign and a union jack—to the front, and to the party of officers with Commodore Erskine at their head, and the gathering of astonished natives close by. And the manner in which the strains of the National Anthem rang out as a royal salute greeted the hoisting of the flag, and in which the sound of the guns of the Nelson reverberated among the hills, while all else was silent, and every man present stood bareheaded, gave an impressiveness to the ceremony which was very appropriate, and the effect of which was heightened by a few well-timed remarks with which the Commodore brought the proceedings and his visit to New Guinea to a termination.
Addressing those present the Commodore said: "Captain Bridge, Commander Henderson, officers, and men,—This being the last occasion on which the ceremony of proclaiming the British Protectorate in New Guinea will be performed, and having now hoisted the flag at nine different places, I may be permitted to say a few words of congratulation at having concluded the task allotted to us. Personally I shall always remember with the greatest satisfaction and pleasure my having had the good fortune to be connected with such an important work, especially as I shall be able to look back upon it as the last act of my interesting command on this station, when I was surrounded and assisted by the officers and men with whom I have been associated for the last three years. I ask you, in conclusion, to join with me in the fervent hope that the establishment of this Protectorate may conduce to the happiness, the peace, and the welfare of these people; that it maybe a security to the Australian Colonies, and to the best interests of their people; and that it may redound to the honour of her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, for whom I ask you now to give three hearty cheers." The cheers were given heartily, and the ceremony concluded.
Preparations for departure were made immediately everybody had returned on board the vessels from the shore. H.M.S. Dart sailed at once for Cooktown with telegraphic despatches, and H.M.S. Espiegle shortly afterwards for Port Moresby with despatches for Deputy-Commissioner Romilly, informing him that the Commodore had sailed from New Guinea, and therefore leaving him free to carry out his duties as Deputy Commissioner. H.M.S. Raven received orders to convey Mr. Chalmers back to South Cape, and, with H.M.S. Swinger, was for a few months to remain cruising on the New Guinea coast. Mr. Chalmers left the Nelson for the Raven shortly before the flagship took her departure, and he carried with him the good wishes of all on board. Just before leaving, the Commodore, with some kindly remarks and thanks for the services he had rendered, presented to him a stick of office like those which had been given to the principal native chiefs. It was the only stick remaining out of six, and in Mr. Chalmers's possession it is an interesting souvenir of a period which will always be remembered, and in which he played a prominent part. Very soon after Mr. Chalmers had joined the Raven the anchors of the Nelson were weighed, and with the band on the quarter-deck playing "Homeward Bound," Teste Island and its hills and cocoanuts were soon far behind, and the flagship was speeding on her way to Sydney.
General Observations—The People of New Guinea and their Productions—Opportunities for White Settlement—No Signs of Gold—The Climate—Fever—Hostility of Natives—Missionary Experiences, and Results of Missionary Labours.
Now that the account of the visit of H.M.S. Nelson and the men-of-war accompanying her to New Guinea has been brought to a close, it maybe well to offer a few general observations respecting the country, its people, and their productions, and the opportunities that present themselves for the settlement of a white population; and to say something of the missionary labours on the island.
Settlement is for the present prohibited, but when it shall be permitted it will not be easy for the settlers to make their positions in the country immediately profitable. The soil in many places—probably in most—is undoubtedly good, and the vegetable productions which are the result of the labours of the natives, show that it can be brought to a high state of cultivation. But some time must elapse before it can be accurately determined what the soil in particular localities will produce most readily and in the highest perfection. It was noticed, during the run of the squadron along the southern coast, that the vegetables grown by the natives were not found in all the places visited, and in some localities they were much larger and finer than they were in others. It was the same with fruit; and sugar-cane we saw in only two or three places.
We found, as is usually the case, that cultivation was carried on best where the natural vegetation was densest and most luxuriant, and that was in localities a considerable distance eastward of Port Moresby. There the rainfall is said to be more constant and copious than it is westward, and the soil is richer, producing yams, taro, and sweet potatoes, and bananas, mammy apples, and other fruits, in abundance. Sugar-cane was most commonly seen in the possession of the natives in the eastern part of the island, but this article of production does not appear to be cultivated extensively, though it is said to grow well in various parts of the country. Cocoanuts appear to be abundant along the whole length of the coast, but in all probability they are not more than sufficient for the native population, which is very numerous and little or nothing could be done with them in the way of export trade. The sago palm also forms part of the native food production, and westward of Port Moresby seems to be plentiful.
It is doubtful whether we saw any ebony. This wood is known to be procurable in New Guinea, and it was said, when the squadron was on its way to Kerepunu, that we should find plenty of it in that direction in the form of greenstone axe-handles, and, it might be, spears. But I saw none, and though it was reported that one or two specimens of the woods were obtained, it is probable that in these cases the wood was of an ordinary description blackened by fire or some dark colouring matter. Timber of various valuable kinds is to be found on the rivers and in their neighbourhood, and if what is said with regard to it be true, a very profitable timber trade might be carried on.
Gold, too, probably exists in the mountains and in their vicinity, though it is a remarkable fact that no sign of it is to be seen among the coast natives, and they would have nothing to do with any ornaments having the appearance of gold which were offered to them by persons on board the men-of-war in the way of trade. Polished and shining brass bracelets of a very pretty pattern, and neck pendants of the same material, only excited ridicule when they were offered to male natives in exchange for something they had to sell, and it was very plain that nothing like gold was either familiar or attractive to them. Grazing operations might be carried on, so far as they relate to cattle. Grass and water are in many places abundant, and cattle, it is believed, would thrive very well; but the industry, it is considered, would be confronted by a serious drawback, for it is difficult to say where a profitable market would be found for the cattle. As for sheep, it is thought the climate is altogether against them, and that they would lose their wool, as they do in Fiji.
What, therefore, there is at present to which white settlers could devote their attention with any likelihood of a profit sufficiently large to compensate them for the inconveniences they would have to put up with, it is difficult to say. The only prospect worth mentioning is that the island may, by the cultivation of certain products, be made another Java, with English or Australian capital and energy to establish and maintain a large export trade in sugar, coffee, tobacco, and other such articles.
The cultivation of these products, according to the system adopted in Java, would necessitate the employment of natives; for though white men, with due precautions, may be able to work in plantations under the New Guinea sun, it is doubtful whether these precautions would be taken, and without them it would be impossible to labour for any length of time and with anything like regularity in the open air. Then if native labour were necessary, it is probable that it would have to be imported, for the New Guineans are not a hard-working people, and what work they do in the fields in the way of cultivation is so much confined to their own wants that it is considered by those who know them to be hardly likely that they could be induced to toil for a certain number of hours each day for the benefit of others.
The heat along the southern coast is not only intense, but it is of that objectionable description known as "muggy." While the excessive temperature is very trying, and the glare of the sun burns one's features almost to the colour of the skin of a native, the great humidity of the atmosphere IS exceedingly oppressive, and one's clothes become sticky with perspiration.
Fever is said to be very prevalent; but we saw it in only one place, and in some localities where it was said to exist, the appearance of the country seemed to cast discredit on the statement. But in the healthiest spot fever may be contracted under certain conditions, and they are little more than a neglect of common sanitary precautions against the disease. For instance, in the interior where the land is more mountainous than at some parts of the actual coastline, rain falls frequently, and a traveller who is overtaken by a shower and gets wet, is certain to be attacked by fever if he camp in his wet clothes. To this single circumstance, of either neglecting or being unable to change one's clothes after getting wet, are ascribed many of the cases of fever which have attacked members of the parties who have at different times landed in New Guinea, with the object of exploring the country. But though fever has been a great obstacle to exploration hitherto, it may to a large extent be kept at a distance.
The probable hostility of the natives is a greater difficulty in the way of persons who may be desirous of attempting to open up the country Where exploring parties have been travelling their relations with the natives have in some instances been very unfriendly, and the effect of this on the native mind is lasting; and where explorers have not yet made their appearance, the natives may show signs of an intention to oppose by force any invasion of their territory. Every foot of land, and every cocoanut tree in the country are said to have owners, and not only are all the natives jealous of their rights, but they are, as a people, naturally evil-disposed and treacherous and cruel.
The experiences of the missionaries in this respect are well worthy of notice. Ten years ago, when the Rev. W. G. Lawes and Mrs. Lawes landed at Port Moresby, they found the natives there to be inveterate thieves. Even the oven had to be watched. There was no possibility of keeping anything without constantly watching it, and in spite of the watching, it seemed to go away. The worst feature about the matter was that the natives felt no shame. One man was appealed to by Mr. Lawes, who asked him whether, after the kindness that had been shown to him, he was not ashamed at what he had done, by stealing from his benefactor; and the answer was, "Oh no, I am not ashamed."
As I have mentioned in a previous article, the natives ardently covet the tattoo marks, which show that they have killed some one; but their manner of fighting is the manner of the assassin and the murderer. They are so superstitious that no native believes any one dies from disease. If a death occur in a village it is believed to have been caused by evil spirits, and because one of the medicine men of a tribe tells the natives that the death has been brought about by a spirit from some other tribe, it must be revenged. From this it may be understood what a feeling of animosity is always aflame between one tribe of natives and another; and there is no reason why similar superstitions should not possess the minds of the natives with regard to the members of any party of white men who may attempt to open up the country or form settlements.
But Mr. Lawes has found some good traits among the people. "I know some good and noble traits," he said, in the address he delivered to the officers and crew of the Nelson, to which in a previous part of this book I made some reference, "but these stand out in bold relief as exceptions, like some solitary-looking flowers in a desert, just indicating what the soil might produce if it were cultivated."
"We landed at Port Moresby," he said on the same occasion, "without knowing a word of the native language, and the natives knew nothing about us. But" (and here his remarks are of importance to any one who contemplates visiting New Guinea) "there is one language that is understood all the world over, and it is the language of human kindness. We had to go to New Guinea with that, and find our way by that That way may be down the native tobacco pipe, or in relation to other small and trivial things, but we had to establish ourselves first of all as the friends of the natives, so as to show them that our intentions were kindly and for their good."
Referring to the missionary efforts in the island, he emphatically said, "We must not try to introduce into New Guinea English Christianity. There is a great diversity between the dress of New Guineans and that of Englishmen, and to attempt to introduce to the natives a Christianity in an English dress would be a mistake. There is," he proceeded, "a wonderful adaptability in the gospel, and it is suited to all conditions of men. But that which may be the best channel for introducing the gospel to those used to English customs and dress may not be that which is best adapted to those who have been living without these customs and dress, and under very different circumstances. It would be a mistake to introduce among such a people any particular creed or formality, or to do otherwise than to put before them the gospel in its simplest form."
And how successful the work of the missionaries has been can also be told in Mr. Lawes' own words. "For instance," he said, "at Port Moresby, when we first went there, we never met a man who would not steal or tell a lie when he thought fit to do so; but the circumstances of our living among them, and neither stealing nor departing from the truth, told on them. We did not refrain from teaching and preaching, but in those early days, and when the first attempts at preaching were made, a man would sometimes shout in the midst of what I was saying, "That's a lie." The kind of audience we used to have was sufficient to surprise any one; but we found that there was nothing in the gospel of Christianity that could not be received into the native heart. We find no difficulty in explaining to them the truth, and I do not know that they have any difficulty in accepting it. I do not say that they understand all the Word of God, but the great central truths of Christianity, the great facts of the life of Christ and His atonement, are readily grasped by them."
Speaking of the native teachers, he pointed out how valuable were the labours of these South Sea Islanders, who were the coadjutors and colleagues of the missionaries, and he characterized the teacher at Port Moresby as one of the finest men in New Guinea. At the time when some diggers searching for gold were struck down with fever, this teacher went more than once several miles inland to carry the sick to Port Moresby and to tend them. Yet his father was a cannibal, and he is only one generation from cannibalism. At the east end of New Guinea, where cannibalism still flourishes, the teacher is a Loyalty Islander, and has himself been a cannibal. "In these cases," Mr. Lawes considers, "we have the best evidence of what the gospel will do." The perils to which these teachers are exposed are very great The murder of a number of them at Kalo occurred so recently that it is still fresh in the recollection of all who have paid any attention to matters in New Guinea, and a story that was told me of the marvellous escape of a teacher's wife from a horrible death in the jaws of an alligator, shows that the lives of these people are frequently in danger from causes other than the murderous weapons of the New Guinea natives.
In this incident of the escape from the alligator, the teacher's wife was on the beach at Kerepunu at a time when it was difficult in the dim evening light to distinguish objects with certainty, and she found herself suddenly attacked by an enormous alligator. The alligators of New Guinea are said to be dangerous only when anything gets between them and the water, and this poor woman found herself close to this enormous brute, as, startled by something, it was coming rapidly towards the water. She tried to escape out of its way, but did not succeed, and the reptile, seizing her by the dress, dragged her into the water, where she would certainly have been dreadfully mangled and drowned had not her screams providentially attracted the attention of her husband, who happened to be not far off. He rushed into the water after her, and by shouts and blows with a stick managed to frighten the alligator and to rescue his wife, though not before she was torn very much by the creature's claws.
The mission stations in connection with the eastern branch of the New Guinea mission now number thirty-six, and wherever the mission influence extends white men may with safety go among the natives; but even around the mission stations the natives retain some of their wild nature, and though they have learned to regard the white man as a friend, they will resent, and it may be with deadly effect, any insult or injury done to them.
The missionaries point out to those who look for the results from the mission that in a place like New Guinea we must not be impatient of results. "We are thankful," Mr. Lawes said on the Nelson, "for the indication of change. At Port Moresby, if the people are not strictly honest, they are now ashamed of thieving. They were at one time the marauders and pirates of the coast. When canoes came there to trade, a chief—one of those who came on board the Nelson—would say to the Port Moresby natives, "Now, boys, there's a canoe coming," and they would immediately go on board and help themselves to everything, and tell those in the canoe they might be thankful that their lives were spared. But for ten years past a spear has never been uplifted at Port Moresby in anger, and the influence proceeding from this fact along the coast is very great. Even at a raid the other day at Kapa Kapa no woman was touched, and this is an indication of a change in the moral feeling of the people. There are some New Guinea communicants about whose Christian faith I have no more doubt than I have of that of my own friends. Cannibalism has been shamed out of existence in some districts, and in others it has probably received its death blow; we have the confidence of the people all along the south-east coast."
LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES
AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.
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