State Library of NSW
New Guinea to Batavia
Sept 1770 upon his estates. They are said to be a people of good morals virtuous & chaste each man having only one wife which he keeps for life. Fornication & adultery is hardly known among them. When a great man marrys he makes presents to all his wifes relations of European & other foreign commodities to the value of 100 Ri? dollars this custom the Dutch East India Company find it this instant to encourage they speak a language peculiar to themselves into which the Dutch have [?]
the New Testament to be translated & have introduced it with the use of letters & writing among them by this means: several hundred of them have been converted to Christianity. therefore some heathens & others of no religion at all & yet all stick up to the strict rules of morality. they all both men & women
young & old chew of the Beetle Leaf. Areca nutts & a sort of white lime which I believe is made from coral stone. this has such an effect upon the teeth that very few even of the young people have hardly any left in their head & those they have are as black as ink; their homes are built on posts about 4 feet from the ground. we asked the reason why they built them so & was told that it was only custom. they are however certainly the cooler for it, they are thatched with palm leaves & the floors & sides are boarded.
The man who resides upon this island in behalf of the Dutch East India Company is a German by birth is name in Johan Christopher Langist is hard beiing upon short footing he is here he is so far a Governor that the natives dare do nothing without his consent & yet he can transact no sort of business with foreigners either in his own or that of the Company name nor can it be a place of either honour or profit, he is the only white man upon the island & has resided there ever since it has been under the direction of the Dutch which is about 10 years. He is allow'd 50 slaves/natives of the island/ to attend upon him they belong to & are maintain'd by the Company. he goes the circuit of the island once in 2 months but on what occa.n he did not tell us. when he makes these rounds he carries with him a certain quantity of spirits to treat the great men with, which he says he is obliged to look well after otherwise they would steal it & get drunk & yet at another time he told us that he never knew a theft committed in the island but some of the natives themselves contradicted him in this by stealing from us an axe, however from their behaviour to us in general I am of opinion that they are but seldom guilty of these crimes. this going round the island once in two months is not likely to see that the natives make the necessary preparations for fulfilling their engagement, with the Dutch & to see that the large boats or small vessels are taken proper care of which the Dutch keep in all the bays of this island in order to collect & carry the grain etc to the ship which comes annually.
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