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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73

The Melanesian Mission

page 88

The Melanesian Mission.

The Photogravure Illustration on page 68 represents eighteen of the Melanesian "boys" grouped around the Rev. A. Brittain, one of the seven white missionary clergymen who, with Bishop Wilson, are engaged in mission work in the Islands of Melanesia. The picture was taken on board the mission yacht Southern Cross, in Lyttelton Harbour, and the spot selected is the after part of the neat little craft, the lads being gathered around the steering wheel. The twenty-two boys on board the Southern Cross have been collected from no fewer than sixteen different islands, which means, of course, that originally they spoke sixteen different languages, or at least dialects. This naturally makes the work of training somewhat difficult, but a plan has been devised by which they are all taught what is called the "Mota" tongue. Mota is a small island in the Banks Group, and the dialect spoken by the residents of this island was chosen by Bishop Patteson as the language to be taught the Mission boys. They acquire it rapidly, and hymns set to Old English tunes have been translated into the language for their use. The boys on board vary in age from 13 years to 25 years old, and several of them are almost ready to be ordained and will in a short time be sent back to their homes as teachers.