This is from the August 1891 issue of The Nautilus:
I have just learned through Mr. Rossiter, of the Island of Noumea, that Mr. de Latour and his son (from whom I have received so many new shells from Aura Island, New Hebrides) have been murdered by natives; Mr. Garrett was wont to tell me of the great danger to be encountered by these collectors in these islands from the natives. When he was collecting in some of these islands he was obliged to be a walking arsenal and would never trust a native behind his back for fear of being stabbed and dragged off into the bushes and eaten.New Hebrides was the former name of a group of islands now called Vanuatu. A Google search using the string "New Hebrides cannibalism" returned more than 38,000 hits. Most of the hits appear to be 19th century or early 20th century hearsay accounts. Here is an example from 7 October 1899 New York Times:
The 1st paragraph gives an idea how many times the "news" must have been told and retold took before it reached New York. It's amazing that "reputable" newspapers took such stories seriously. The provenance of the item from The Nautilus was equally murky: it was an excerpt from a letter sent to Henry Pilsbry (the editor) by a Dr. W.D. Hartman who had heard the murder story from a Mr. Rossiter and the perilousness of the islands from a Mr. Garrett.
This is not to say that New Hebrides was a safe place for Western shell collectors; it probably wasn't and ritualistic cannibalism may indeed have been performed by the natives. But I suspect most Western accounts of savage, rampant cannibalism in the South Pacific and elsewhere were baloney.