The Committee who organised the late expedition to Dutch New Guinea, paid me the high compliment of inviting me to write an account of our doings in that country. The fact that it is, in a sense, the official account of the expedition has precluded me—greatly to the advantage of the reader—from offering my own views on the things that we saw and on things in general. The country that we visited was quite unknown to Europeans, and the native races with whom we came in contact were living in so primitive a state that the second title of this book is literallytrue. The pygmies are indeed one of the most primitive peoples now in existence.
Should any find this account lacking in thrilling adventure, I will quote the words of a famous navigator, who visited the coasts of New Guinea more than two hundred years ago:—“It has been Objected against me by some, that my Accounts and Descriptions of Things are dry and jejune, not filled with variety of pleasant Matter, to divert and gratify the Curious Reader. How far this is true, I must leave to the World to judge. But if I have been exactly and strictly careful to give only True Relations and Descriptions of Things (as Iviii am sure I have;) and if my Descriptions be such as may be of use not only to myself, but also to others in future Voyages; and likewise to such readers at home as are desirous of a Plain and Just Account of the true Nature and State of the Things described, than of a Polite and Rhetorical Narrative: I hope all the Defects in my Stile will meet with an easy and ready Pardon.”