Pioneer Life, Work and Adventure in New Guinea with James Chalmers

James Chalmers [1841-1901]The contents of these two books by James Chalmers [1841-1901] about his work in New Guinea overlap, so I am including them both in the same post. My thanks to Redcliffe College for providing me with a copy to scan. These titles are both in the Public Domain.

James Chalmers [1841-1901] & W. Wyatt Gill [1828-1896], Work Adventure in New Guinea 1877 to 1885. London: The Religious Tract Society, [1885]. Hbk. pp.288. [Click to download complete book in PDF]

James Chalmers [1841-1901], Pioneer Life and Work in New Guinea 1877-1894. London: The Religious Tract Society, 1895. Hbk. pp.255. [Click to download complete book in PDF]

Preface from Pioneer Work and Life [1895]

In 1877 the Rev. James Chalmers joined the New Guinea Mission, and his arrival formed an epoch. in its history. He is wonderfully equipped for the work to which he has, under God’s Providence, put his hand. He is the white man best known to all the natives along the south coast. From the first he had gone among them unarmed, and though not unfrequently in imminent peril, has been marvellously preserved. He has combined the qualities of missionary and explorer in a very high degree, and universally known by the natives as ‘Tamate’ (the nearest approach native lips can make to Chalmers), has added enormously to the stock of our geographical knowledge of New Guinea, and to our accurate acquaintance with the ways of thinking, the habits, superstitions, and mode of life of the various tribes of natives.

This volume contains sketches of his travels and labours in New Guinea during the years 1878 to 1894. Mr. Chalmers has made no effort to work them up into a finished book. Had he attempted· to do so, they would have never seen the light. He is more at home in his whale-boat or steam launch off the New Guinea coast than in his study, and his hand takes more readily to the tiller than to the pen. Hence the bulk of this volume is made up of extracts from journals hastily written while sitting on the platforms of New Guinea houses, surrounded by cannibals, or while resting, after a laborious day’s tramp, under a fly-tent on some outlying spur of the Owen Stanley Mountains, or while sailing along the south-eastern coast or the Fly River. Writing thus, liable to manifold interruptions, Mr. Chalmers has sought to preserve only what was essential to his purpose, viz., to record exactly what he saw and did; how the natives look and speak, and think and act; what in his judgment New Guinea needs, and how her needs can be best. [Continue reading]

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