Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/32

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Introductory.

than those of Santa Cruz. When this was related to a mixed group of Santa Cruz and Reef Island boys at Norfolk Island, it was at once declared that the Spaniards were quite right, that the Santa Cruz people now think the Reef Island boys sharper than their own; because it is the custom of their fathers to take them with them on their voyages, which Santa Cruz men do not do. The very short stay of the Spaniards, soon assuming hostile relations, cannot be thought to have affected native life at all; the looms with which they weave their mats, their fowls, common till lately to other islands with them, and many other things in which a difference has been observed, are mentioned in the Spanish narrative. There is nothing in the account of the discoveries of Quiros in the Banks' Islands and New Hebrides to shew any difference between the condition of the native people then and in the later times, when they have become well known to Europeans; but it may be observed that the Spaniards began to kidnap, doubtless with good intentions, and to recognise the 'devil' of the natives.

In the interval between the discoveries of Mendana and Quiros and the visits of whalers and missionaries in the present century, there is every reason to believe that all memory and tradition of white men had died away in the Solomon Islands and Santa Cruz[1]; Europeans appeared again as perfect strangers. We are able therefore to conjecture how the first explorers appeared to the natives, when we know how we have ourselves appeared. To the old voyagers, as

  1. Bishop Selwyn of New Zealand began his missionary voyages in 1849, and visited the Solomon Islands in 1850; he landed on sixty islands in 1857, in which year the Banks' Islands became well known to him. In 1861 Bishop Patteson, in H. M. S. Cordelia, became acquainted with Florida and Ysabel, the yearly visits of the Melanesian Mission having before stopped short at Guadalcanar. From that year forward the work of the Mission has been regularly carried on within the limits of Ysabel to the west, and Mae, later Pentecost, to the south. When the present writer made his first voyage in the Mission vessel, the Southern Cross, in 1863, Bishop Patteson was generally conversant with the people and the languages of the islands from New Zealand to Ysabel.