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The South Pacific and New Guinea

Past and Present; With Notes on the Hervey Group, an Illustrative Song and Various Myths
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William Wyatt Gill
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Eighty years ago the whole of the Pacific was heathen. Now, upwards of 300 islands are Christianised. I first saw the Pacific in 1851. At that period the light was struggling with darkness. Visiting in 1862 most of the islands of, the New Hebrides, there was scarcely one, save Aneityum, where the life of a stranger was worth five minutes purchase. To a large extent things are very different now life and property are respected, the Sabbath is well observed, the Bible (or a portion of it) is read, and an industrious and peace-loving people are well clothed and hospitable to strangers. War, cannibalism, human sacrifices, systematic infanticide, &c., are things of the past, except in the Solomon Islands, &c., where little has been as yet done by missionaries. But even there the good work done by the Melanesian mission is not without its salutary in?uence over a considerable area. Seven complete translations of the Scriptures have been made into dialects previously unwritten. Thirteen others are proceeding at the present moment. The Rev. W. G. Lawes has just carried through the press the entire New Testament in the Motu language spoken at Port Moresby, &c., in New Guinea. When, in 1872, the Rev. A. M. Murray and the writer first located native evangelists on the mainland of New Guinea, the existence of the Motu tribe was unknown to the civilized world yet, to-day the Word of God is read and valued by many of those natives. That the message of Divine love should thus be conveyed in twenty barbarous dialects is itself a wonderful fact, whether regarded from a literary or a religious point of view. A whole body of educational literature has sprung up in connection with mission work. The only attempt to make a collection of this sort of literature is that known in Auckland, New Zealand, as The Sir George Grey Collection.

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