Letter Published by John G. Paton, New Hebrides Mission:
For the following reasons we think the British government ought now to take possession
of the New Hebrides group of the South Sea islands, of the Solomon group, and of all the
intervening chain of islands from Fiji to New Guinea:
1. Because she has already taken possession of Fiji in the east, and we hope it
will soon be known authoritatively that she has taken possession of New Guinea at the
northwest, adjoining her Australian possessions, and the islands between complete this
chain of islands lying along the Australian coast.
2. The sympathy of the New Hebrides natives are all with Great Britain, hence they
long for British protection, while they fear and hate the French, who appear eager to
annex the group, because they have seen the way the French have treated the native races
in New Caledonia, the Loyalty Islands, and other South Sea islands.
3. Until within the past few months almost all the Europeans on the New Hebrides
were British subjects, who long for British protection.
4. All the men and all the money used in civilizing and Christianizing the New
Hebrides have been British. Now fourteen missionaries and the Dayspring mission ship, and
about 150 native evangelists and teachers are employed in the above work on this group, in
which over #6000 yearly of British and British-colonial money is expended; and certainly
it would be unwise to let any other power now take possession and reap the fruits of all
this British outlay.
5. Because the New Hebrides are already a British dependency in this sense---all
its imports are from Sydney and Melbourne and British colonies, and all its exports are
also to British colonies.
6. The islands on this group are generally very rich in soil and in tropical
products so that if a possession of Great Britain, and if the labor traffic stopped so as
to retain what remains of the native populations on them, they would soon, and for ages to
come, become rich sources of tropical wealth to these colonies, as sugar cane is
extensively cultivated on them by every native of the group, even in his heathen state. .
.The islands also grow corn, cotton, coffee, arrowroot, and spices, etc., and all tropical
products could be largely produced on them.
7. Because if any other nation takes possession of them, their excellent and
spacious harbors, as on Efate, so well-supplied with the best fresh water, and their
near-proximity to Great Britain's Australasian colonies, would in time of war make them
dangerous to British interests and commerce in the South Seas and her colonies.
8. The thirteen islands of this group on which life and property are now
comparatively safe, the 8000 professed Christians on the group, and all the churches
formed from among them are, by God's blessing, the fruits of the labors of British
missionaries, who, at great toil, expense, and loss of life have translated, got printed,
and taught the natives to read the Bible in part or in whole in nine different languages
of this group, while 70,000 at least are longing and ready for the gospel. On this group
twenty-one members of the mission families died or were murdered by the savages in
beginning God's work among them, not including good Bishop Peterson, of the Melanesian
mission, and we fear all this good work would be lost if the New Hebrides fall into other
than British hands.
For the above reasons, and others that might be given, we sincerely hope and pray that
you will do all possible to get Victoria and the other colonial governments to help and
unite in urging Great Britain at once to take possession of the New Hebrides group.
Whether looked at in the interests of humanity, or of Christianity, or commercially, or
politically, sure it is most desirable that they should at once be British possessions.
Letter Published by Dr. Steel, Sydney:
Some ten years ago, when an abortive effort was made by a number of private individuals
to form a settlement on New Guinea, representations were made to some of the colonial
governments on the importance of the annexation of New Guinea by the British government.
At the same period simultaneous efforts were made by Presbyterian churches to the
governments of Australian colonies respecting the annexation of the New Hebrides. The
labor traffic at that time excited great interest on account of its many inhumanities.
The government of New South Wales, at the period referred to, formally agreed to
recommend the annexation of New Guinea, the Duke of York islands, New Britain, New
Ireland, and the New Hebrides. Sir John Robertson, then colonial secretary of New South
Wales, addressed a communication to the Earl of Kimberley, the British minister for the
colonies, urging the importance of annexation. The answer of the Earl was unfavorable, but
the correspondence, which was published by the government of New South Wales, show that
this proposal is not now urged for the first time.
The population of natives in the New Hebrides is rapidly declining, and these islands
will certainly be annexed by some power, as they are so well fitted to grow all kinds of
tropical spices and other fruits. They were discovered for the most part by British
navigators, traded with by British vessels, regularly visited by her Majesty's ships of
war, and finally evangelized by the labors and munificence of British subjects.