Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/372

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154
BRITISH NEW GUINEA.

and J. Chalmers. The former has acquired a scholarly mastery of the native language, has compiled a grammar and dictionary from an unknown language, and has organized a body of interpreters. To his efforts are due the possibility of being able to carry out investigations and enter into explanations with the natives. The latter, by his energy and enthusiasm—by his courage and tact—has not only overcome native shyness and distrust, but wherever he has gone he has upheld the moral superiority of the white man, and inspired even the wildest barbarians with trust and confidence.

Success is also partly due to the native teachers, who frequently, with their lives in their hands, have been pioneers to break down native superstition and distrust. They are the channels of communication between European ideas and native superstitions, and their usefulness from a political point of view is very considerable. To their devotedness and zeal is due the fact that Europeans are able to go with tolerable security into places which otherwise must have remained sealed to any but armed forces. By their means, moreover, the natives might be induced to undertake the cultivation of rice, maize, &c. They are excellent gardeners themselves, and have cultivated limes, Papua apples, pine-apples, oranges, tea, potatoes, &c.

Experience shows, that the presence among primitive barbarians of Missionaries of different sects is not infrequently the cause of political disturbances, or even civil war. This was especially the case in some of the islands in the Western Pacific, Rotumah, &c. The efforts of the Roman Catholic Mission to establish themselves in places which the London Mission Society had occupied for years, were, in Sir Peter Scratchley's opinion, upon political grounds, to be discouraged. He considered that the London Mission had, in equity, a prescriptive right within certain districts, and that the intrusion within these districts of a rival denominational sect was likely to produce trouble among the natives. Hearing, therefore, that certain Roman Catholic priests had established themselves at Yule Island, which had been previously occupied by the London Mission, he wrote to the head of the Roman Catholic Mission at Thursday Island, and pointed out the settlement on Yule Island of these priests was undesirable, and that other areas were available for their efforts. He further offered to take the priests in the s.s. "Governor Blackall" to the Louisiade group, or any other island they might desire.

There are, in all, about twenty white men now resident in New Guinea. The majority of these are traders, who are backed in a small way by merchants and firms in Australia. There are three stores at Port Moresby, and one settler has erected a sawmill. The traders, as a rule, live in their boats, but a few native