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Two Years with the Natives in the Western Pacific   By: (1880-1949)

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Two Years with the Natives in the Western Pacific


Dr. Felix Speiser

With 40 illustrations from photographs and a map


This book is a collection of sketches written on lonely evenings during my voyage; some of them have been published in daily papers, and were so kindly received by the public as to encourage me to issue them in book form. In order to retain the freshness of first impressions, the original form has been but slightly changed, and only so much ethnological detail has been added as will help to an understanding of native life. The book does not pretend to give a scientific description of the people of the New Hebrides; that will appear later; it is meant simply to transmit some of the indelible impressions the traveller was privileged to receive, impressions both stern and sweet. The author will be amply repaid if he succeeds in giving the reader some slight idea of the charm and the terrors of the islands. He will be proud if his words can convey a vision of the incomparable beauty and peacefulness of the glittering lagoon, and of the sublimity of the virgin forest; if the reader can divine the charm of the native when gay and friendly, and his ferocity when gloomy and hostile. I have set down some of the joys and some of the hardships of an explorer's life; and I received so many kindnesses from all the white colonists I met, that one great object of my writing is to show my gratitude for their friendly help.

First of all, I would mention His Britannic Majesty's Resident, Mr. Morton King, who followed my studies with the most sympathetic interest, was my most hospitable host, and, I may venture to say, my friend. I would name Mr. Colonna, Résident de France, Judge Alexander in Port Vila, and Captain Harrowell; in Santo, Rev. Father Bochu, the Messrs. Thomas, Mr. Fysh, Mr. Clapcott; in Malo, Mr. M. Wells and Mr. Jacquier; in Vao, Rev. Father Jamond; in Malekula, Rev. F. Paton, Rev. Jaffrays, Mr. Bird and Mr. Fleming; in Ambrym, Rev. Dr. J. J. Bowie, Mr. Stevens, Mr. Decent; in Pentecoste, Mr. Filmer; in Aoba, Mr. Albert and Rev. Grunling; in Tanna, Rev. Macmillan and Dr. Nicholson; in Venua Lava, Mr. Choyer; in Nitendi, Mr. Matthews. I am also indebted to the Anglican missionaries, especially Rev. H. N. Drummond, and to Captain Sinker of the steam yacht Southern Cross, to the supercargo and captains of the steamers of Burns, Philp & Company. There are many more who assisted me in various ways, often at the expense of their own comfort and interest, and not the least of the impressions I took home with me is, that nowhere can one find wider hospitality or friendlier helpfulness than in these islands. This has helped me to forget so many things that do not impress the traveller favourably.

If this book should come under the notice of any of these kind friends, the author would be proud to think that they remember him as pleasantly as he will recall all the friendship he received during his stay in the New Hebrides.

BASLE, April 1913.


Chap. Page Introduction 1 I. Nouméa and Port Vila 19 II. Maei, Tongoa, Epi and Malekula 28 III. The Segond Channel Life on a Plantation 35 IV. Recruiting for Natives 53 V. Vao 85 VI. Port Olry and a "Sing Sing" 109 VII. Santo 136 VIII. Santo (continued) Pygmies 161 IX. Santo (continued) Pigs 171 X. Climbing Santo Peak 179 XI. Ambrym 191 XII. Pentecoste 224 XIII... Continue reading book >>

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