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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 27

Languages of the Pacific

Languages of the Pacific.

Then, what else ought we to do to render Auckland a place of resort to people generally? Evidently this; you should have here in your Library the key to all the languages of the Pacific and Australia; and I venture to say it will be admitted no man can write truly upon the languages of Australia without coming to Auckland; that here will exist in manuscript the works which will page 14 enable a perfect description of the Australian languages to be given. Amongst other things, you will find what I believe to be a thing of extraordinary interest—the Gospel of St. Luke translated jointly into the native language of New South Wales, by a Mr. Threlkeld and a native of Australia, who was himself a Christian, and who had a thorough knowledge of the English language. To the goodness of Mr. Threlkeld, missionary, we owe that work. He wrote it out in a beautiful manner in the declining years of his life, and not knowing after his death what might be the fate of what had cost him and this native such a long period of trouble and anxiety, he sent it to me as a present, hoping that I would see that his labours would not be lost to the world, and that they would be preserved. Mrs. Layard has since beautifully illuminated it, in the manner of an ancient manuscript. And the manner in which it will be preserved will be by entrusting it to your care, and his name to the regard of yourself and your descendants. (Cheers.) If I were to tell you the number of works in the languages of the Pacific which will be found in your Library I should weary, and it would take me almost hours to describe them; but let me tell you, most of these works have been produced by men you have known—by Mr. English, of the Presbyterian Mission, and various Wesleyan missionaries who have visited this colony from time to time, and mixed amongst you—men venerated for their piety, men whose lives were devoted to the welfare of the inhabitants of the Pacific. Almost all are manuscript productions, or their first printed copies, printed in small presses by their own hands—every-thing thus surrounds them which can render them valuable in the estimation of those who have known these gentleman here, or the children of those who have been their friends. All these will be confided to your care, that here you may raise a Library, access to which will be absolutely necessary to anyone who studies the languages of the races of the Pacific. (Cheers.) These works are not only of great ethnological value, but will be endeared to you by the recollection of the labours and sufferings which were undergone in the production of them; but they are left to us valuable records to the present time, and I hope to future ages. (Cheers.) Then again, this great mercantile city, enthroned upon this isthmus, with the ocean upon each hand, with winds and currents to favour your passage to all the islands of the Pacific, and Nature having pointed you out as the proper capital for that commerce—this is a port to which many nations must throng, and you will have, as far as I can calculate, the means of enabling those who resort to this place to acquire a knowledge of any language they may select out of a collection numbering possibly one hundred dialects or tongues.