The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 27
The most southerly of Melanesia, is 240 miles long, very mountainous and barren. The bread-fruit grows here. Plan tains, sugar-canes, and cocoa-nuts are to be found. The natives use spears, darts, slings, and clubs, and Tomahawks. They are good fishers, and catch sardines, eels, cray-fish, mullet, shell-fish and molluscs. The chiefs hold absolute rule, and have the power of life and death. Their ancestors are their gods, whose relics are carefully kept, and to which they pray before fighting, fishing, planting, feasting. The spirits of the dead go to the bush, where, periodically, feasts are spread before them. As in New Zealand, the first Christian worship was held on Christmas Day. "In a temple of waving cocoa-nut trees, with the blue sky for its roof, and the singing of birds in the branches, and the gentle murmur of the waves on the beach supplying the place of the solemn strains of the organ," the first act of public devotion was performed, We read of "the beauty of the scenery, the glorious mountains grand and bare, and the green valleys, and broad rivers often forming cascades." They are now comparatively civilized. Such is the marvellous influence "of the Gospel in taming the ferocity of savages and paving the way for the advance of civilization. It not only teaches them what is right and just, but wins their hearts to approve it; and thus prepares them to yield a willing obedience to fair and equitable laws."