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master and supercargo of the vessel on a Ross Lewin, who had become notorious
employers; and not one instance has ever The English Government had all along come under my notice where an islander felt very doubtful about the system. Lord has ever been returned to his home withClarendon, in writing to Sir Edward Thorn- out receiving full payment of his wages." ton, used very strong language respecting All Queenslanders are not guilty of this it; and in the beginning of 1869, he sent folly, or think they can impose upon the out Mr. March as consul to Fiji
, with world. Even their own Parliament, by strict injunctions to do all he could
to keep special committee, recommended three it under control. For a while, like his years ago the improvement of the Immipredecessor, Mr. March succeeded in gration Act upon three vital questions. checking ill usage on the estates, but soon The Brisbane people have again and again the demand for laborers became so great, petitioned and remonstrated. Residents, that no reserve was maintained, all scru- like the “ University man," who published ples were flung aside, and the only cry his adventures in the colony, openly speak among the owners of petty vessels was, of the system as one of slavery. And “ Get natives ; honestly if you can ; but two well-known planters, Messrs. Brookes anyhow, get natives."
and Davidson, boldly declare that the auIt has been stated in many quarters, and thorities break their own regulations, and has been allowed in a measure by the Im- that an immense amount of evil is being perial Government, that throughout these done. transactions the Queensland authorities During the last few months the Queenshave acted in good faith, have sincerely de- land Government has taken great credit sired to secure the liberty of the immigrants, to itself for having appointed agents to and have provided sound regulations both accompany the recruiting vessels, in order for their good treatment on the estates, to see that no improper practices are reand for the proper conduct of the import- sorted to. But for three years they refusing system abroad. In our judgment, the ed to adopt this measure, though it was case is far otherwise. In the interests of often pressed upon them, and though this traffic they deliberately allowed their Lord Granville had offered to select the own regulations to be broken through. agents. But what is the actual working
even of the agent system; what check would completely ruin him and his family. does it place on the whole crime ? I had taken about a wine-glassful of wine In October last, one of the slavers out of a tumbler, standing
at the time in brought forty-four immigrants to one of the cabin in front of the captain's berth. the Queensland ports. The captain had I do not recollect leaving the place where obtained them with great difficulty from I was standing. I seem to recollect being the Solomon Islands, and his cruise had seized and dragged on deck. taken him six months. He had four sail- “When the Jason returned to Maryboors wounded with poisoned arrows. The rough, on the 13th of July, I was in an Government agent, described as a drunk- extremely feeble state, and totally unable en fellow, the man who had been appoint- to attend to business, having been confined to see that all natives were properly ed to the ship's hold amongst the islandshipped, openly declared to people at the ers, handcuffed, and chained to a ring-bolt port on his return, that he had shot twen- for more than three weeks without bedty islanders himself, and the captain many ding. This treatment I received by the more!
orders of the captain, who said I was inA still stranger statement comes from a sane and dangerous. I was delirious for man who volunteered to join one of the some time, but I attribute my being so to recruiting vessels as agent, because he the captain having drugged me in a glass wished to see the South Sea Islands, and of wine, on the 12th of June. was interested in their people. Mr. Mei- “ The shirts provided were of cotton, klejohn, unhappily for himself, was ap- and not of flannel or wool, as required by pointed to the Jason, a vessel notorious in the Act. The blankets supplied were of the trade; and the trip from Maryborough thin, poor quality. The islanders were to the New-Hebrides and back occupied kept naked until within two or three days' four months, from April to July, 1871. sail of Fairway Buoy, Hervey's Bay, and He thus describes his first experiences, in they suffered much from cold, as it was a letter to the Colonial Secretary of Queens- winter. I believe that nearly every one of land, dated Sept. 16, 1871:
them had a cold or a cough when they "I may be permitted to say that my landed, and that this want of suitable undertaking the office of Government warm clothing was to some degree conAgent on board the Jason was owing to nected with the great mortality amongst the my being wishful to see the South Sea Is- islanders since their arrival. Out of twenlands, and to my having always felt an in- ty-four taken by the Maryborough Sugar terest in the islanders. What I have wit- Company, seven died within seven weeks.” nessed of the Queensland Polynesian According to a census recently taken of trade has convinced me that it is abomi- the inhabitants of Queensland, 500 native nably and incurably immoral.
immigrants were returned to the islands “With reference to the duties devolving during last year: and it is computed that upon me as Government Agent, I found 2235 (of whom only fifteen were females) a few days after sailing that I was regard- remained in the colony at the end of the ed and treated as a spy, and that any re- year. It is for this miserable addition to marks I made about the way islanders were their labor resources that all this crime is obtained or treated afterwards were met carried on! It is to increase the gains of with sneers.”
some fifty planters, by lowering the wages Stronger measures were soon resorted of their field-hands, that the people and to, and the agent found himself in irons parliament of Queensland have set in moamong the kidnapped islanders,
tion the piratical crews of a dozen English “ On the 12th of June the captain ask- vessels, to kidnap, steal, or murder the poor ed me in the afternoon to take some wine heathen inhabitants of savage islands ! It with him, to show him I bore him no ani- is for this contemptible gain, at the cost of mosity. I told him I would do so, but such atrocities and crimes, that they have that I would still do my duty, and that he brought the immigration of English settlers must not be deceived. He said, If I into this colony to an end, and have made thought you would report me, you would its name a byword and a reproach throughnever see Maryborough, as it could be out the civilized world! very easy to put you out of the way,' and By May, 1870, the system was in full that I surely would not be so cruel, as it force in Fiji. Vessels importing immigrants were frequent; many of them of By the end of January, 1871, the Eurosmall tonnage, and owned by persons in pean population in Fiji had increased to Fiji. There was a large demand; prices 3000 persons, of whom 300 were Ameribegan to rise, and the cruel traffic was cans; no less than 700 having landed in greatly stimulated. It is thus described in six months between April and September, the most business-like way by the Fiji cor- 1870. Many of them brought capital with respondent of the Aukland Weekly News, them, land was purchased from the natives, in his letter dated :
and new plantations were commenced. "LEVUKA, JUNE 1, 1870.—THE LABOR Mr. March, under date October 14, 1870, MARKET.-Labor is still the cry, and the writes to Commodore Stirling, that updemand is greater than ever. This year wards of 1700 native immigrants have between 300 and 400 men have completed been registered in the Consulate between their time, and will be returned to the January and October, thus increasing the islands from which they came. Many are number of imported natives to nearly 4000, already on the way, and others continually and adds : leaving. To convey them, and to obtain “Once these untutored people leave the more, fourteen vessels of different sizes are consulate, I have no means of ascertaining now out. The Sea Witch, Magellan, and how they are treated; and until the time Mary Ann Christina, from Sydney, are to arrives for returning them to their homes, leave in a week for the same purpose. The they remain entirely in the hands of their barque Harriet Armitage is also chartered employers. I have reason to believe that to go for labor. If successful, these vessels there are numbers of these natives whose will bring about 1000 men; not half period of service has expired, who are yet enough to supply the present demand, retained in Fiji; and the irregularity can without taking into account the wants of only be detected by a visit to the plantathe numerous settlers just commencing tions where they are working. . : . I plantations. £8 to £10 is now paid wil- fear from what I have seen at Levuka that lingly for the passage of these men. Three flogging is the general mode of punishment years ago £4 was considered enormously adopted by the planters."-(Returns, c. high, and the general rate was from 5os. 199, pp. 192, 193.) to 6os." (Returns, c. 399, p. 161.)
As the trade was pursued with fresh Mr. Consul March, writing about the earnestness, the kidnapping, decoying, and same date, informs Lord Clarendon that forcible seizure of the heathen islanders the evils he had apprehended are kept in were resorted to without scruple. In excheck; that many of the immigrants are hibiting these atrocities, it is of the last imwell treated, that they have earned good portance that the facts should be describwages, and are anxious to return with the ed, as far as possible, in the words of the results to their friends. But he feels that the authorities by whom they have been supsystem is becoming unmanageable, and plied. says:
The Presbyterian Mission in the New“ The importation of these natives is in- Hebrides group is in the very midst of the creasing from day to day, and will conti- recruiting ground. Naturally the letters nue doing so in proportion to the extend- of the missionaries became more numering cotton cultivation and the highly re- ous, and their complaints more indignant. numerative results with which it is attend- Writing from Aniwa, near the large island ed. Ninety-five new settlers have landed of Tanna, under date December 19, 1870, at Ovalau during the last month, who will, the Rev. J. G. Paton thus describes what no doubt, soon commence bringing la- he had seen at Fil Harbor, in the island of borers.
Vate, (often called Sandwich Island,) dur“Under these circumstances, and the ing the visit of their missionary schooner, probability that in this large and scattered the Dayspring : group of islands unscrupulous persons have “ The Wild Duck, Captain Martin, came facilities for evading my attention, I would to anchor near us in Fil Harbor. When respectfully submit that, could ships of the Dayspring's boat went alongside the war visit these waters with more frequency, Wild Duck, three Santo lads instantly leapt much would be done towards the suppress from the deck into the boat and implored sion of illegal enterprises."--(Returns, c. to be set at liberty, as they did not want 399, P. 144.)
to go away in the vessel; but Captain
Martin had them dragged into his vessel “Having heard this statement from this
came to anchor near us; at Tanna one
and Captain Fraser were assisting to put
The captain of the Lyttona, on his way preferred to slavery. An armed guard is
He gave them and their captors twelve hours to reconsider what was to be done. “I, Michael Casal, of Spain, temporariDuring this interval every possible means ly residing at Lavü, being duly sworn, do was brought to bear upon them, so that depose and say that, about sixteen months when brought up again the Consul got ago I left this port in the schooner Samoa, them passed."
for the purpose of trading for Theodore A most striking portion of the evidence Weber, Esquire, on the islands under the accumulated on this subject is supplied by line; and that I was stationed at Samana, individuals who have in one way or other or Rotebis Island, trading ; that during my become involved in the trade. Many re- residence there several vessels came to the spectable seamen, with characters to lose, islands for the purpose of obtaining laborhave found themselves unexpectedly en- ers; that a barque, said to come from Tagaged in vessels, chartered at Fiji to get hiti, (she had no flag set) sent four boats immigrants; and have against their will on shore at a time, manned by eighteen been compelled to witness and perhaps men, all armed with swords, pistols, and share in the violence and the piracy with rifles; that as soon as the boats reached which it is carried on. Numbers of these near the reefs they commenced firing on the men have quitted their vessels at the con- natives, and continued the firing till they clusion of the voyage, vowing they would landed on the beach; they shot several of never have any thing to do with the trade the natives, but none killed to my knowagain. Mr. Alfred Davison, a well-known ledge. The natives went into the big planter in Queensland, says on this sub- house, when the people in the boats would ject:
fire at them while seated in the house; “ In Brisbane I have been indirectly in the natives would then make a rush and communication with white sailors who have run out of the house, when some of the sailed in these traders, but who refuse, for boats' crews would run after them and their own sakes, to go again. They will seize and carry them to the boat; they not give public evidence, but admit the caught three men that day, to my knowbadness of the thing, and that I am quite ledge, and took them off to the ship. right to oppose it. They say, 'Well, we This barque has been three times to the iswere paid. "
land while I was there, and tried to entice So well is this known, that in many ves- natives on board by offering them tobacsels, notoriously on Ross Lewin's ships, na- co; when the natives went alongside they tive crews are employed, some of whom would fire into the canoe and sink it, then are as violent, reckless, and cruel as the a boat would be lowered and pick up the most abandoned pirate among the whites. people who were swimming in the sea, and Several white men have furnished evidence take them on board. on the subject; though others were too “ The natives told me that 133 natives timid to speak against a system upheld by had been stolen off this island; they made such strong influences. Mr. Paton, in his me understand the number by counting letters, says of a man well known to the stones to the number of 133. This barque missionaries in the New-Hebrides : was a regular slaver."-(Returns, p. 191.)
“ Tom, an intelligent white man, living One of the most terrible pictures that at Port Resolution, Tanna, reported a case has been drawn of the system is given by a of a vessel running down a large canoe at seaman, James Harper, who was in the sea, with some eighteen or twenty-four na- employ of the Jason, one of the most notives in it, and taking all of them prisoners. torious vessels in the trade. Harper held Another vessel that saw what took place a certificate of ability and good conduct came up and threatened to fight if they did from the master of the Jason, which he not share in the prize. For the sake of left at the conclusion of the voyage; and peace they were divided between them. I he swore his declaration before Mr. W. forget the names of these vessels.”
Brookes, one of the magistrates of BrisIn November, 1870, Mr. J. C. Williams, bane, on March 16, 1871. The captain the English Consul in the Navigators' Is- of the Jason was convicted of piracy in lands, received from Miguel Casal, a Span- December last in Sydney, and was sen- . iard who had lived in the Gilbert Islands, tenced to five years' imprisonment, the following statement, which he embod- " James Harper, able seaman-Was in ied in an affidavit and forwarded to the Jason last trip. The Jason sailed from Foreign Office :
Maryborough and arrived at Fotuna; from