Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/31

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9
Discoveries.

except at San Cristoval, where darts are mentioned; in recent times a voyager would not have found bows and arrows the usual weapon, but spears, except at Malanta. Gallego reports open cannibalism at Ysabel and Florida, whereas no modern visitor would have seen it except at San Cristoval. Nakedness is said by Gallego to have been complete, a point in which Figueroa differs from him, and complete nakedness would not have been found of late years anywhere but in Malanta. The probable conclusion is that, making allowance for lapses of memory on one side and exaggeration of fact on the other, the people, language, customs and condition of the people in the Solomon Islands have not changed since Mendana's discovery of 1567[1].

The account of the visit of Mendana to Santa Cruz in 1595 and of the Spanish attempt to form a settlement is ample and detailed; and it was remarked by Bishop Patteson, who was probably the first European after Mendana's party to go about the native villages, that what he observed corresponded closely with the Spanish record. It is only within the last ten years that, by the courage and enterprise of the present Missionary Bishop John Selwyn, the island of Santa Cruz has again become open to friendly, and unhappily also to mischievous, approach. The present writer has gone through the account of Mendana's visit with natives of Santa Cruz, whose comments were certainly interesting. One point may be mentioned; the Spaniards, failing to get the people of the main island to learn their language, sent to kidnap, after the fashion which from the beginning seems to have been natural to European visitors, some boys from the neighbouring Reef Islands, whom they had observed to be more intelligent

  1. Mr. Woodford, in Further Explorations in the Solomon Islands, has brought forward information from the Journal of Catoira, chief purser of Mendana's fleet. From this it appears that the use of the betel-nut was already established. Another native word, na mbolo, a pig, also occurs. Much may be learnt as to the present condition of the Solomon Islanders from Mr. Woodford's Naturalist among the Headhunters, as well as from Dr. Guppy's book; but there is no picture of native life so good as that given in 'Percy Pomo.'