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workmen in iron foundries, printing offi- To the west of Fiji and north-east of ces, and furniture factories, unable to ex- New Caledonia lies a group of important plain things in the Mabrati, Tamil, or Ben- islands, peopled by a peculiar medley of gali languages, at once call the workmen races. This is the great group called the stupid, and explain their meaning by kicks New Hebrides; it consists of cight large and blows. Throughout Polynesia no islands and more than thirty small ones, Englishmen were ever so hard upon the amongst which the island of Ambrym is native races as common sailors and those reckoned one of the most lovely in all the officers who had raised themselves from the South Pacific. The group is so unbefore the mast; and it was a most un- healthy that strangers cannot live in it happy thing that it was precisely into the with comfort. In some strange way unhands of this large class of men that the known to history, the people have been entire immigrant traffic fell, until it has thrown into this group from many quarended in piracy, kidnapping, and murder, ters, and seem to have had no connection and has brought reproach upon the Eng- with one another. No less than twenty lish name throughout the civilized world. separate languages are spoken in the
In one or two localities special circum- group, and the learning of one of those stances were found to favour the wishes tongues is no help to the attainment of of the English planters in leading the na- any other. The whole population numtives to emigrate to a foreign soil. In the bers about 60,000 people, all belonging to French settlements under the Governor of the Papuan branch of the Polynesian New Caledonia, especially in the Loyalty tribes. To the north-east of this group lies Islands, the hand of the Government has a small cluster of islands of the same kind pressed very hard upon the people. On called the Banks Islands. To the northmany occasions the religious persecution west are the Solomon Archipelago, which of the Protestants by the priests and local curve round westward towards New Briauthorities, heavy taxation, restrictions tain and New Guinea. on personal liberty, and forced labour, It was to the New Hebrides groups that have irritated the people greatly. Was it the recruiting vessels turned for their supto be wondered at that the young and ac-ply of labourers, and for a while the halftive were anxious to get away; and that taught heathen of Tanna, Erromanga, on many occasions they swam after an and Vate (Sandwich Island) were the obEnglish vessel before she could clear the ject of their special efforts. The Christian barrier reefs, and felt glad to be taken on population of the southern island, Aneitboard? Many such wanderers found their yum, would have nothing to do with them. way to Queensland. The people of Niue, As the year 1868 passed away, and the the “ Savage Island” of Cook, had for sev- area visited by the recruiting vessels eral generations held no intercourse with widened, rumours became numerous that the outside world ;-. but when they be- all which had been feared in respect to the came Christians, and heard of other lands, ill-treatment of the heathen islanders had a natural reaction from the exclusive sys- been more than realized. Now a missiontem laid their young men open to the same ary or a missionary's wife described in some desire for travel, and many of them found letter to an Australian friend soine deed their way to Samoa and the plantations of of violence witnessed with his or her own Tahiti. But this voluntary emigration eyes; then some cook or sailor on board was limited, and was confined to the Chris- one of the vessels gave details of the visits tian islands. In the presence of English which he had paid to the islands, and the missionaries, captains and crews could only seizure of persons which he had seen; or offer various forms of gain to the natives, some Queensland newspaper described the as inducements to leave home. The out- proceedings of the police courts, and cry against Peru made them afraid to showed that in not a few instances immipractise violence or fraud in mission sta- grants preferred to be sent to jail rather tions. They therefore steered their ves- than go back to the masters who flogged sels to another quarter.
and starved them.
Evidence was soon offered which none | Levinger was apprehended in Melbourne. could gainsay. Mr. Thurston wrote from They were found guilty of murder, and Fiji to Lord Belmore, the Governor-Gen- were sentenced to imprisonment for life eral of the Australian colonies, that he had with hard labour. Levinger was imprisreceived undeniable testimony that murder oned with hard labour for seven years. had been commited on board one vessel, Owing to the numerous complaints the Young Australian which had recently which began to be made, Commodore visited the northern New Hebrides. The Lambert, who was in command of the statement had been given in writing. Australian station, despatched Captain Two men who had witnessed the atrocity Palmer, in H.M.S. Rosario, to visit the had appeared before him; and as the ship New Hebrides and Fiji, and report upon was then in Sydney, he trusted the Gov- the subject. The results of his inquiry ernment would prosecute. The vessel was were startling, and proved that under the commanded by Captain Ross Howell, and so-called immigration system the worst feaconspicuous among the rougher men on tures of the old slave trade had reapboard were Robert Lennie, a Frenchman, peared. Captain Palmer quitted Sydney and Hugh Levinger, the supercargo. The on March 4, 1869, and spent three months following statement is drawn out by David in executing his commission. He proAfu, a Christian in Fiji from the lips of ceeded first to New Caledonia, where the Tanna men, whose words he inter- he received the complaints of Governor preted. Below the marks which the men Guillain, with details of the way in which made with the pen he writes: his people had been carried off. He then visited the southern islands of the New
These are their own or true hands with which they made these signs, and when they had made them they said, 'What we have seen and known we tell. The great ship went to Tanna,
and we Tanna natives went on board; then she went to Erromanga, thence to Sandwich, thence to Inea, thence to Api, thence to Pama. When we got there the boat was prepared to go ashore. Bob, the white man, three natives of Erromanga, and three natives of Rotumah pulled towards the shore. They met a canoe belonging to the place with three men on board, one being an elderly man, and two young men. The elderly man was a chief. They were seized by force and thrown into the boat, and taken to the great ship. When on board the ship they wept, and refused to come to Fiji. They did not wish to eat or drink, they wept only. Then said the captain of the ship, Let them be taken down into the hold till Bob comes back again from the land, and decides concerning them.' When they were in the hold they resisted, and threw stones at the black men in the hold, and shot at them with bows and arrows. Then all the black men fled on deck, and only the three Pama men were left in the hold. Then Bob came and tried to speak to them, but they threw stones at him, and he fled on deck. Then was opened a piece of the bulkhead in the captain's end of the ship, and they fired with guns. The old man was first wounded in the thigh, but he bound it up and went on fighting. Then the two young men were shot dead. Then the old man was shot again, and died. Then night was over the land, a lamp was put on its stand, and taken down into the hold, and the dead bodies were lifted up and thrown into the sea.". (Returns, 408, p. 58 )
Happily in this case a conviction was obtained. The captain was apprehended in Sydney, with one of his crew, Rangi;
Hebrides, and held repeated interviews
On his return to Sydney, Captain Palmer thus reported on the general question:
"2. All the missionaries at Aneiteum, Tanna, Erromanga, and Vate made the same complaints as to the kidnapping of the natives of that group, and the consequent undermining of their influence with the people.
"3. Several chiefs complained to me about the way their people had been stolen away, oftentimes by violence, but more frequently by false promises.
"4. In several instances natives have been enticed alongside these slavers by offers of muskets and tobacco, and then forcibly seized by the hair of their head, dragged on board, and their canoes sunk. Three natives that I examined at
Ovalau, Fiji, all made the same statement, namely, that they had come on board to sell mats, &c., and get tobacco; that on its getting
late, they were told they could sleep on board if they chose, and go on shore in the morning; they did so, but in the morning no land was in sight, and they were brought to Fiji.
5. As a further proof of the absurdity of the so-called engagements between the natives and the Queensland agents, a Tanna native informed me, that whenever the vessels anchored, the natives were put under hatches, and their arms held while performing the functions of nature, so as to prevent their swimming on · (Returns, c. 399, pp. 17, 18.)
It was a happy circumstance for the interests of justice and humanity, that during Captain Palmer's visit to Fiji, a case came under his notice, which both illustrates the worst features of the slave system, and shows with how much impunity the kidnappers could do their work.
On April 21st, 1869, the Rosario was lying quietly in the harbour of Levuka, when there came in from the westward a small schooner, the Daphne, with a hundred natives on board. She was seventythree feet long, ten feet deep, and of fortyeight tons burden; and the poor captives were stowed away in her little hold like herrings in a barrel. Two-thirds of them were stark naked; all were emaciated and half dead, and one young man had lost the use of his limbs. When the vessel was boarded, it was found that she was bound for Queensland, and that she held a licence to import fifty-eight_natives from Tanna into that colony. Now she was found in Fiji with a hundred on board, which she had procured somehow or other from the Banks Islands; her log and her papers disagreed, the victualling scale had been disregarded, all her transactions were irregular, and it was evident that she had come to Fiji instead of Queensland, hoping to make a better market. After consulting the consul, Captain Palmer seized the Daphne, landed all her natives, put a prize-crew on board, and sent her down to Sydney.
By the advice of the Attorney-General of the colony, proceedings were instituted, first in the Water Police Court against the master and the supercargo of the vessel on a charge of felony, and afterwards in the Vice-Admiralty Court, to obtain the condemnation of the vessel. In both cases the prosecution failed, apparently from the want of evidence to show that the islanders had been embarked as slaves, or were intended to be dealt with as slaves in violation of the Act. In the Water Police Court the proceedings seem to have ended in June or early in July, 1869. In
the Vice-Admiralty Court they occupied a longer time; but on the 21th of September Sir Alfred Stephen, the judge, after having heard counsel on both sides, decided that the charge had not been proved. His formal judgment was not delivered until his return from circuit on the 12th of November following, when he stated at length the grounds for his decision, and granted to Commander Palmer a certificate that he had probable cause for the seizure and prosecution of the vessel. In other words he decreed the release of the vessel, but without costs or damages against the captors; and the Daphne was quently sold by her owners to meet the expenses incurred by the seizure.
The English Government had all along felt very doubtful about the system. Lord Clarendon, in writing to Sir Edward Thornton, used very strong language respecting it; and in the beginning of 1869, he sent out Mr. March as consul to Fiji, with strict injunctions to do all he could to keep it under control. For a while, like his predecessor, Mr. March succeeded in checking ill usage on the estates, but soon the demand for labourers became so great, that no reserve was maintained, all scruples were flung aside, and the only cry among the owners of petty vessels was, "Get natives: honestly if you can; but any how, get natives."
It has been stated in many quarters, and has been allowed in a measure by the Imperial Government, that throughout these transactions the Queensland authorities have acted in good faith, have sincerely desired to secure the liberty of the immigrants, and have provided sound regulations both for their good treatment on the estates, and for the proper conduct of the importing system abroad. In our judgment the case is far otherwise. In the interests of this traffic they deliberately allowed their own regulations to be broken through. Ross Lewin, who had become notorious in connection with the system, first brought the Daphne with emigrants to Brisbane, Nov. 15, 1868. He had no licence, and ought to have been prosecuted. No prosecution was instituted. the Act, the immigrants ought not to have been landed, but to have been sent back. They were landed "on statutory declaration," and were divided among the planters. (468, p. 3.) A fine of £20 ought to have been paid on every immigrant so introduced. Not a single fine was enforced!
Not less extraordinary is the boldness with which the authorities grapple with ob
jections, and deny that in Queensland any was interested in their people. Mr. native immigrant had ever been ill-treated, Meiklejohn, unhappily for himself, was apor that any complaints had ever been pointed to the Jason, a vessel notorious in made! Reporting on April 6, 1871, Mr. the trade; and the trip from Maryborough Gray, the agent, says: “Up to the present to the New Hebrides and back occupied time about 4,150 islanders have been in- four months, from April to July, 1871. He troduced into Queensland, and not a single thus describes his first experiences, in a complaint has ever yet been made by one letter to the Colonial Secretary of Queensof them, that he has been brought to land dated Sept. 16, 1871. the colony against his will, or that he has
“I may be permitted to say that my under. been ill-treated on tiie voyage. They are, taking the office of Government Agent on board as a rule, treated most kindly by their em- the Jason was owing to my being wishful to see ployers; and not one instance has ever the South Sea Islands, and to my having always come under my notice where an islander felt an interest in the islanders. What I have has ever been returned to his home with- witnessed of the Queensland Polynesian trade out receiving full payment of his wages.”. has convinced me that it is abominably and in
All Queenslanders are not guilty of this curably immoral. folly, or think they can impose upon the
“ With reference to the duties devolving upon world. Even their own Parliament, by me as Government Agent, I found a few days special committee, recommended three after sailing that I was regarded and treated as years ago the improvement of the Immi- a spy, and that any remarks I made about the gration Act upon three vital questions. way islanders were obtained or treated after.
wards were met with speers.” The Brisbane people have again and again petitioned and remonstrated. Residents, Stronger measures were soon resorted like the “University man who published to, and the agent found himself in irons his adventures in the colony, openly speak among the kidnapped islanders. of the system as one of slavery. And two well-known planters, Messrs. Brookes and
“On the 12th of June the captain asked me Davidson, boldly declare that the authori- show him I bore him no animosity. I told him
in the afternoon to take some wine with him, to ties break their own regulations, and that an immense amount of evil is being and that he must not be deceived.
I would do so, but that I would still do my duty,
He said, done.
If I thought you would report me, you would During the last few months the Queens- never see Maryborough, as it could be very easy land Government has taken great credit to put you out of the way,' and that I surely to itself for having appointed agents to ac- would not be so cruel, as would completely company the recruiting vessels, in order to ruin him and his family. I had taken about a see that no improper practices are resort- wineglassful of wine out of a tumbler, standing ed to. But for three years they refused to at the time in the cabin in front of the capadopt this measure, though it was often tain's berth. I do not recollect leaving the pressed upon them, and though Lord Gran- place where I was standing. I seem to recolville had offered to select the agents. But lect being seized and dragged on deck.
“ When the Jason returned to Maryborough, what is the actual working even of the agent system; what check does it place ble state, and totally unable to attend to busi.
on the 13th of July, I was in an extremely fee. on the whole crime ?
having been confined in the ship's hold In October last one of the slavers amongst the islanders, handcuffed, and chained brought forty-four immigrants to one of to a ring-bolt for more than three weeks without the Queensland ports. The captain had bedding. This treatment I received by the or. obtained them with great difficulty from ders of the captain, who said I was insane and the Solomon Islands, and his cruise had dangerous. I was delirious for some time, but taken hiin six months. He had four I attribute my being so to the captain having sailors wounded with poisoned arrows. The drugged me in a glass of wine, on the 12th of Government agent, described as a drunken June. fellow, the man who had been appointed
“ The shirts provided were of cotton, and not to see that all natives were properly of flannel or wool
, as required by the Act. The shipped, openly declared to people at the The islanders were kept naked until within two
blankets supplied were of thin, poor quality. port on his return, that he had shot twen.
or three days' sail of Fairway Buoy, Hervey's ty islanders himself, and the captain many Bay, and they suffered much from cold, as it more!
was winter. I believe that nearly every one of A still stranger statement comes from a them had a cold or a cough when they landed, man who volunteered to join one of the and that this want of suitable warm clothing recruiting vessels as agent, because he was to some degree connected with the great wished to see the South Sea Islands, and mortality amongst the islanders since their ar
rival. Out of twenty-four taken by the Mary-results to their friends. But he feels that borough Sugar Company, seven died within the system is becoming unmanageable, and seven weeks,”
says:According to à census recently taken of
“ The importation of these natives is increasthe inhabitants of Queensland, 500 native ing from day to day, and will continue doing 80 immigrants were returned to the islands in proportion to the extending cotton cultivation during last year; and it is computed that and the highly remunerative results with which 2,235 (of whom only fifteen were females) it is attended. Ninety-five new settlers have remained in the colony at the end of the landed at Ovalau during the last month, who year. It is for this miserable addition to will, no doubt, soon commence bringing labour. their labour resources that all this crime is carried on! It is to increase the gains bility that in this large and scattered group of
“ Under these circumstances, and the probaof some fifty planters, by lowering the
islands wages of their field-hands, that the people evading my attention, I would respectfully sub
unscrupulous persons have facilities for and parliament of Queensland have set in mit that, could ships of war visit these waters motion the piratical crews of a dozen Eng- with more frequency, much would be done tolish vessels, to kidnap, steal, or murder wards the suppression of illegal enterprises." the poor heathen inhabitants of savage is- (Returns, c. 399, p. 144.) lands! It is for this contemptible gain, at the cost of such atrocities and crimes, that
By the end of January, 1871, the Eurothey have brought the immigration of pean population in Fiji had increased to English settlere into this colony to an
3,000 persons, of whoin 300 were Ameriend, and have made its name a byword cans; no less than 700 having landed in and a reproach throughout the civilized six months between April and September, world!
1870. Many of them brought capital with By May, 1870, the system was in full them, land was purchased from the naforce in Fiji. Vessels importing immi- tives, and new plantations were
menced. grants were frequent; many of them of
Mr. March, under date Ocsmall tonnage, and owned by persons in tober 14, 1870, writes to Commodore Fiji. There was a large demand; prices Stirling, that upwards of 1,700 native began to rise, and the cruel traffic was
iminigrants have been registered in the greatly stimulated. It is thus described in Consulate between January and October, the most business-like way by the Fiji cor
thus increasing the number of imported respondent of the Auckland Weekly News, natives to nearly 4000, and adds : in his letter dated
“Once these untutored people leave the con“LEVURA, June 1, 1870.–Tue LABOUR MAR- sulate, I have no means of ascertaining how LET.-Labour is still the cry, and the demand they are treated; and until the time arrives for is greater than ever. This year between 300
returuing them to their homes, they remain enand 400 men have completed their time, and tirely in the hands of their emplogers. I have will be returned to the islands from which they these natives whose period of service has ex
reason to believe that there are nuinbers of came. Many are already on the way, and others continually leaving. To convey them, and pired, who are yet retained in Fiji; and the to obtain more, fourteen vessels of different irregularity can only be detected by a visit to sizes are now out. The Sea Witch, Magellan, fear from what I have seen at Levuka that flog
the plantations where they are working . . I and Mary Ann Christina, from Sydney, are to leave in a week for the same purpose. The ging is the general mode of punishment adopibarque Harriet Armitage is also chartered to
ed by the planters." - (Returns, c. 199, pp. go for labour. If successful, these vessels will
192, 193.) bring about 1,000 men; not half enough to As the trade was pursued with fresh supply the present demand, without taking into earnestness, the kidnapping, decoying and account the wants of the numerous settlers just forcible seizure of the heathen islanders commencing plantations. £8 to £10 is now
were resorted to without scruple. In expaid willingly for the passage of these men. hibiting these atrocities, it is of the last Three years ago £4 was considered enormously importance that the facts should be debigb, and the general rate was from 50s. to scribed, as far as possible, in the words of 60s.” -(Returns, c. 399, p. 161.)
the authorities by whom they have been Mr. Consul March, writing about the supplied. same date, informs Lord Clarendon that The Presbyterian Mission in the New the evils he had apprehended are kept in Hebrides group is in the very midst of the check; that many of the immigrants are recruiting ground. Naturally the letters well treated, that they have earned good of the missionaries became more numerwages, and are anxious to return with the lous, and their complaints more indignant.