Art. VII.—Civilization of the Pacific.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, October 14th, 1876.]
The greater portion of the following paper was read before the Royal Colonial Institute in London in March last. The writer has since slightly altered and added to it in order to bring it down to date. The civilization of the Pacific should be at the present time an interesting subject for discussion. We have lately added Fiji to our colonial dominions. France is acquiring a firm foothold in the South Seas, and is rapidly peopling New Caledonia with convicts. Germany and America are becoming interested in some of the groups of fertile islands. War vessels of all nations are cruising amongst them, ready at any moment to plant the flag of the particular country which they represent, and indelibly mark their name upon the page
which the history of the Pacific will occupy in the annals of the world. The Australasian Colonies are agitating for the annexation of the islands to England, whilst at home deputations have waited upon Ministers in order to suggest Imperial action. It may, therefore, be advisable to consider their past and present history.
By the Pacific is meant the central portion of the Pacific Ocean, including all those groups of islands lying within 30° north and south of the equator, and stretching eastward from the Pelew Islands to Easter Island. This immense area, commonly called Polynesia, is divided by the equator into the North and South Pacific, which division may be again best divided in Eastern, Central, and Western Polynesia. The names of the principal groups of islands contained within these divisions, together with their population, area, etc., etc., will be found in Appendix A. *
I include New Guinea in Polynesia, although it is doubtful to which of three divisions it should belong—Malaysia, Australasia, or Polynesia.
Few persons are much acquainted with this portion of the Pacific Ocean or its extent. It is only when we are led to consider the present or future welfare of the islands which it contains that we find ourselves dealing with so vast an area of the earth's surface—something like 20,000,000 square miles. † The importance of this fact, it is necessary to remember, for the water which separates the various groups of islands contains not only many valuable articles of commerce, but, at the same time, is so much a naturally prepared highway for future inter-insular commerce.
The Pacific Ocean was discovered and formally taken possession of for Spain by Vasco Nunez de Balboa, in the year 1513. Crossing the American isthmus, he was the first European who gazed upon it. Descending, he stepped into its waters, and with drawn sword, and in full armour, took possession for his sovereign of all lands and islands the ocean might contain, even unto the Poles. In 1520, Magellan, a Portugese, in the Victory, ‡ passing through the straits which now bear his name, was the first to sail across the Pacific (so called by him from the tranquility of his voyage through it, in comparison with the stormy sea he had encountered at and near the straits). Magellan discovered the Ladrone and Philippine Islands.
[Footnote] * Melanesia and Micronesia are somewhat indefinite titles given to certain islands inhabited by the Papuan, or black, races. Micronesia principally comprises the Gilbert, Marshall, and Caroline Islands, amongst which, however, many pure Polynesians are found. Melanesia is simply Western Polynesia.
[Footnote] † The Pacific Ocean contains a superficial area of 70,000,000 square miles.
[Footnote] ‡ The Victory performed the first voyage round the world.
Alvaro de Mendana discovered and took possession of the Solomon Islands for Spain. He also discovered the Marquesas and Santa Cruz, which he attempted ineffectually to colonize, and where he died.
The Dutch are represented by Tasman, who, in 1643, discovered the Friendly Islands and Fiji; also by Commodore Roggewein, who, in 1772, named Easter Island, that curious speck of isolated land upon which stand colossal stone images of men. Sailing thence to the East Indies, the Commodore touched upon Samoa, New Britain, and New Guinea.
England, however, mainly achieved the exploration of the Pacific. Many expeditions were fitted out by the British Government during the reign of George III., although I must not pass over in silence the voyages of English navigators of a much earlier period, amongst which stand those of Sir Francis Drake and old Sir Constantine Phipps, first Lord Mulgrave (the founder of the family of his Excellency the Marquis of Normanby, the present Governor of New Zealand), who, in William and Mary's reign, discovered and named the Mulgrave Islands. But of all English navigators in the Pacific, the name of James Cook stands pre-eminent. He discovered New Caledonia (so named from its resemblance to Scotland), Norfolk Island, part of the Society Group, the Sandwich Islands, and many others. He surveyed the New Hebrides, Society, and Friendly Islands; determined the insularity of New Zealand,* explored the then unknown eastern coast of Australia for 2,000 miles, and circumnavigated the globe in a high southern latitude in order to decide the question whether any continent existed north of a certain parallel. Captain Cook performed three voyages. The first expedition left Plymouth in 1768, fitted out for the purpose of observing the transit of the planet Venus at Tahiti. The Society Islands were so named by Cook in honour of the Royal Society, which had induced the Government to fit out the expedition. The second left England in 1772, in order to settle the vexed question of the existence of a southern continent. The third left in 1776 for the purpose of discovering a passage to the Pacific in the direction of Hudson's and Baffin's Bays, or, as Cook preferred, from the Pacific to the Bays. It was at the Sandwich Islands, which he then discovered and named after his patron the Earl of Sandwich, that he met with his death, December, 1778. James Cook was indeed a great navigator and discoverer. The correctness and minuteness of his surveys have won the admiration of the most accomplished seamen who have succeeded him.
Besides Cook, the names of Anson, Byron, Wallis (who, in 1767, discovered and took possession of Tahiti for George III.), Marshall, Gilbert, and other English navigators are indelibly marked on the history of the Pacific.
[Footnote] * New Zealand was formerly supposed to be a portion of a great southern continent.
France is represented in the Pacific by the names of D'Urville, La Perouse, and D'Entrecasteaux, whose expeditions encountered more than ordinary misfortunes.
During the latter portion of the last century the accounts published by Wallis, Cook, and other voyagers in the South Seas, the visit to London of Omai, the Society Islander, concerning whom Cowper wrote, the tragic death of the great navigator himself, and the mutiny of the Bounty, kept public attention in England fixed upon the Pacific, and the state of the Polynesian Islanders. A strong desire was expressed for the religious improvement of the natives, and the London Missionary Society, at that time but newly formed, gratified that desire by sending away eighteen missionary clergymen to the Society Islands. On March 3rd, 1797, the Duff, the first missionary vessel, anchored in Matarai Bay, Tahiti, where Cook, in 1768, had observed the transit of Venus.
When the history of the Pacific is written, the year 1797 will be noted for the actual commencement of civilization therein. Previously to that date the islanders had been taught to fear rather than admire modern civilization. The teachings of the Spaniards can hardly be called civilized. Between 1668 and 1681 the island of Guam, in the Ladrones, was nearly depopulated by them of its 40,000 inhabitants, a notable instance of Spanish dealings in the Pacific. Our missionaries have carried out a totally different policy from that formerly pursued by the Spaniards. From 1797 to the present date, the loss of life has been always on the missionary side. Quietly and bravely have English missionaries advanced, reclaiming island after island from barbarism—at what cost only the missionary records can tell—until there are few islands now left which have not yielded to their gentle influence. No monument exists to commemorate this noble work, or to tellin of the many lives which it has cost. Cannibalism, immolation, suicide, idolatry, infanticide, tabu, polygamy, domestic slavery, tribal and internecine strife, have all been conquered. The rising generation is almost entirely ignorant of the dark deeds of its predecessors.
The London Missionary Society commenced the work of planting missionaries simultaneously at the Society, Marquesas, and Friendly Islands. The Wesleyan Missionary Society began its labours in the Friendly Islands in 1826, and in Fiji in 1835. The Church of England (or rather the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) about the year 1850 directed its attention to the Loyalty, New Hebrides, Banks, Santa Cruz, and Solomon groups, or, briefly, Melanesia. In 1820 the American Board of Foreign Mission took charge of the Sandwich Islands. The Presbyterian clergy are endeavouring to Christianize the New Hebrides. Roman Catholic missionaries
have spread themselves wherever they thought that their labours were required, and two or three local bodies have been formed for the especial purpose of assisting the cause. It would be unfair to mention conspicuously the name of any single clergyman. All have zealously devoted their energies, and many their lives, to the great work of Christianity and Civilization—Williams, Gordon, Baker, Patteson, are almost household words. Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon missionary labour in the Pacific.
Such is a brief outline of the past history, first discovery, and then missionary zeal. Unlike India, Africa, America, and Australia, wherein discovery was followed by commerce, and then by religious teaching, Polynesia first received religious civilization. Now commerce is stepping in, and we are becoming still more deeply interested in the welfare of the islands. As yet commerce has been of very slow growth, although the exceeding fertility of the islands, their tractable inhabitants, and the general wealth of the Pacific, have long been well known. The great distance of Polynesia from the principal centres of commerce must have been the cause of this slow progress. Steam, however, is lessening the distance; population is flowing over from the Australasian colonies, and a large trade is springing into existence. It was not until some few years since, when the colonies of Australia began to take an interest in the islands, that commerce assumed any degree of importance. The American war, and the suggestions contained in Dr. Seeman's well-known work, turned the attention of those colonists to cotton-growing, and many persons from the colonies commenced to form plantations. Previously to that date a few merchants in the principal groups carried on a small traffic, and one or two associated companies endeavoured to profit by the evident wealth of the islands: the celebrated South Sea Company of the last century, which resulted in what is commonly called the “South Sea Bubble” being the first attempt. There were also, as still there are, many traders, who, fitting out in Australasian ports small vessels with suitable articles of trade, cruised amongst the islands, and bartered with the natives, as the Carthagenians of old bartered with the Africans. (This sort of trading appears to be very suitable to Polynesia, and is likely to increase. When the resources of the islands are better opened up, trading schooners will give place to resident merchants.) Trade, however, is entirely in its infancy. The natives are hardly sufficiently educated to demand much from us. As yet their wants are few. The people of Western Polynesia, and nearly all Central Polynesia, have not sufficient civilization to want at all, a little calico and a few knives being all that is at present required. I do not suppose that the Pacific Islands import more than £700,000 per annum, one half of which is
for the use of the resident whites, the other half for native use. As the population of the Pacific, exclusive of New Guinea, must number something over a million, it will readily be seen that trade is in its infancy. Nearly all that we have as yet obtained is the surplus natural production—cocoa-nut oil, beche-de-mer, pearl shell, whale oil, sandal wood, etc. Other productions, such as cotton, coffee, sugar, tobacco, etc., have yet to be raised. An attempt has been made to grow cotton, but the uncertainty of obtaining the necessary labor has almost caused its abandonment. How sadly the Pacific needs protection, and how necessary it is for commerce to be under some sort of regulation, is shown in the fact that immediately an exotic production was attempted to be raised, the poor islanders suffered one of the greatest wrongs which the white race could inflict—the wrong of slavery.
That a species of slavery in the form of kidnapping did exist there is but little doubt. Spanish and Peruvian atrocities, the Peri and Carl investigations, besides other well authenticated instances, amply prove that fact. I happened to go on board the Carl, in Fiji, after her return from her slaving cruise, and I shall never forget seeing the badly obliterated blood-stains and shot-torn timbers of the vessel's hold, in which so many unfortunate natives had lost their lives. The planters of Queensland and Fiji may attempt to exculpate themselves from all blame, but it was not at their suggestion that kidnapping was suppressed. Had the Home Government refrained from interfering, kidnappers would still be gathering their ill-gotten gains. It is true that the Queensland Government, as soon as it recognized the evil, endeavoured to prevent it; but a young colony was powerless to suppress it. Not that any individual planter perhaps, was to blame. Three-fourths of the cotton-growers in Fiji desired the suppression of the traffic, but if any person wanted labourers, and these labourers had “passed the consul,” little inquiry was made as to how they were originally obtained. Fortunately kidnapping has had but a short reign. On June 27, 1872, the British Parliament passed an Act for “The prevention and punishment of outrages upon natives of the islands in the Pacific Ocean.” Our cruisers will see that the Act is enforced, and the disgraceful blot upon the fair face of the Pacific will soon disappear. It still exists in a modified form. Degraded Englishmen can still find sufficient protection under a foreign flag to carry out the nefarious practice, and late accounts state that New Caledonia is supplied with kidnapped natives. All labour vessels under a foreign flag should be regarded by our cruisers with the utmost suspicion. The British Government has gained the gratitude of the natives by acting as it has done. The enforcement of the Act has much strengthened the widespread opinion that England is the natural protector of the Pacific. With regard to domestic
slavery, I have before stated that this form of servitude yields readily to missionary teaching. Mission history affords numerous instances of this fact.
Inhabitants, whence derived.
The Pacific Islanders appear to be principally derived from two stocks—the Malayan, long-haired and light-coloured, and the Papuan, crisp-haired and dark-coloured. Those islands in close proximity to the Áustralian continent are principally inhabited by the latter race:—New Guinea or Papua, New Britain, New Ireland, the Solomon, Santa Cruz, Banks, New Hebrides, Loyalty, and New Caledonia groups, or, briefly, Melanesia. The remaining islands of the Pacific, or Polynesia, excepting Fiji and the New Hebrides, in which groups both races appear to combine, are inhabited by the former type. It was formerly supposed that New Guinea was solely peopled by the crisp-haired race, but later travellers inform us of other native types. The origin of the Papuan, Australian, and Polynesian races is a most interesting question. Many of the characteristics of the natives of the Australian continent will be found in New Caledonia. When we become better acquainted with New Guinea we may perhaps be able to discover whether the peculiar features of the Papuan race, dark colour and crisp hair (the Australian natives have long wavy hair), owe their origin to Africa or Madagascar, or simply to the fact of residence upon so large an island situated under the equator. In Ellis's “Polynesia Researches” the following passage occurs:— “The striking analogy between the numerals and other parts of the language, and several of the customs of the aborigines of Madagascar, and those of the Malays who inhabit the Asiatic Islands, many thousands of miles distant in one direction, and of the Polynesian, more remote in another, shows that they were originally one people, or that they had emigrated from the same source.”* I imagine that the author, by using the term Polynesia, meant also to include Melanesia, as he must have been acquainted with the difference which exists. In an able paper upon the native ownership of land in Fiji, the Hon. J. B. Thurston remarks:— “The highly elaborate Fijian system of relationship, which resembles in almost every particular that of the Seneca, Iroquois, and other American Indians on the one hand, and that of the people of South India, speaking the Dravidian language (Tamil), on the other, points to a bygone existence of the communal family, a state now regarded with horror and disgust and forbidden by stringent and elaborate laws.” Indian writers, also, have often been struck with the resemblance of many Polynesian habits and customs to those of the Hindoos. It will thus be seen that, when fairly investigated, the origin of the Polynesian islanders will not be a very difficult problem to solve. But whatever may be their origin, in future dealings with the natives we have only to consider the marked peculiarities of the two races.
[Footnote] * Vol. II, p. 48,
The inhabitants of Western Polynesia are more treacherous and cruel than the Polynesians proper. We should be more careful in trusting them. Both, however, are much less ferocious than either the Maoris, Malays, or American Indians. I do not think that the whole of the inhabitants of Polynesia will give as much trouble to any colonizing power as New Zealand gave to England.
The actual work of colonization has as yet been small. Tradition does not even give the name or race of the people who cut the stone images on Easter Island, or erected the immense buildings, whose ruins exist upon many islands in the Caroline group, “hundreds of acres in some localities being covered with the remains of walls, canals, and earthworks of the most stupendous character.”*
Spain was the first colonizing nation in the Pacific, but the attempts of the Spaniards have met with very poor results. They were compelled to abandon many of their settlements. That Government now possesses only the Ladrone and Bonin groups. (The Phillipine Islands belong rather to Malaysia than Polynesia.) The aboriginal inhabitants of the Ladrone Islands have simply been exterminated. We have to congratulate ourselves upon the fact that the Spaniards confined their colonizing efforts to so small a number of islands. Angas' “Polynesia” † supplies the following information:—“It is said that Americans and Sandwich Islanders have been allowed to settle themselves of late years on the island of Agrigan (Ladrone), on condition of acknowledging allegiance to Spain; also, that the island is being peopled with natives kidnapped from other parts of Polynesia. The Bonin Islands have no native population. Japanese junks occasionally visit the group. A few Japanese have established themselves on the northern islands. On some of the others there are British subjects located, for the purpose, it is supposed, of carrying on a contraband trade with Japan.” Spain also claims dominion over some of the neighbouring islands in the Pelew and Caroline groups, yet hardly a dozen of her subjects are settled upon them. ‡
[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]
|Name.||Area, Geographical Miles.||Population.|
|Caroline Islands and Palaos||43.1||28,000|
|Marian Islands (Ladrone)||19.6||5,610|
[Footnote] * H. B. Sterndale.
[Footnote] † 1866 Edition.
[Footnote] ‡ The “Statesman's Year Book” for 1875 gives the following information concerning the Spanish possessions in the Pacific:—
In 1842 France obtained the sovereignty of the Marquesas by treaty, and established a military colony upon Nukuhiva. In 1859 that experiment was abandoned. A few officials, and a couple of Roman Catholic missionaries, who have given up all hope of converting the natives and taken to planting, alone remain on the group. In 1844 the French Government established a protectorate over Tahiti, or the Society Islands, and consequently over the Paumotas (Low Archipelago), as there has always existed a close connection between the two groups.
In 1854 France took official possession of New Caledonia. With the exception of soiling a fair island with the refuse of her population, France has not made any colonising efforts. The natives are not benefited by the contact, and the resources of the islands are not developed. No matter how anxious the authorities at home may be for the progress of the colonies, French officials abroad alone represent their country—the nation does not appear to follow Government action. French occupation in the Pacific deteriorates but does not improve the native islanders, who are first awed into submission and then demoralised. Religious instruction is supplied by the Roman Catholic missionaries, who can always rely upon the bayonets of the gens-d'armes for assistance. France has found it impossible to do anything with the Marquesas, although a finer or more intelligent race of natives does not exist. The immorality of the Tahitians is a standing disgrace to French occupation. The natives of the Loyalty Islands, over whom France, I suppose, claims sovereignty (I have not seen any official notification of the fact), would much prefer our English missionaries to the Roman Catholic missionaries and French bayonets. If the English missionaries would but speak out, what a charge-sheet could they bring against France and the French in the Pacific! Oppression of white industry, bribery, forcible conversion of the natives, kidnapping, etc., etc., would be but a few of the charges. *
[Footnote] * While entertaining every respect for the Roman Catholic religion—for every religion, in my opinion, is entitled to respect—I cannot help stating that in the Pacific its members have been too anxious to extend their particular creed. Surely, when other Catholic missionaries had been striving for years to Christianize the inhabitants of any particular group of islands, Roman Catholic missionaries might well have refrained from interfering. “Go thou to the right, and I will go to the left,” might have been a good maxim for their guidance. With the hundreds of millions of Chinese and Japanese almost entirely in their hands, the few thousands of Polynesians might have been left to the Protestant missionaries, especially as they were first in the field. I feel certain that neither Christianity nor civilization has benefited by this interference, for the natives now hardly know which particular creed to respect. It is true that Protestant missionaries sometimes acted antagonistically to Roman Catholic clergymen, but the question is, whether the latter should have given cause for such antagonism.
Whether France claims sovereignty over any other groups of islands is uncertain. Her right to claim anything at all is a matter of dispute. The manner in which the protectorate was established over Tahiti was quite unworthy of a great nation. New Caledonia was taken possession of without even the nominal consent of the native population. They hardly knew anything of the circumstance. The treaty made with Admiral du Petit Thuars, by which France claims the sovereignty of the Marquesas, is no doubt a curious document. Neither were the interests of the many Protestant missionaries, the only foreigners who could well claim any interest, considered. The natives generally knew nothing of France; had never committed any offence against that Government, and did not desire its interference. They had been accustomed to regard England and the English as their friends, and next to England, America. English missionaries, English men-of-war, and English traders were always beside them, and many American whalers. Of France they were utterly ignorant; but they were powerless. The English Government did not think it necessary to support the Queen's subjects resident in the islands, and France acted as she pleased. It must be very mortifying to our missionaries to see so much of their labour completely thrown away. After devoting many years to the Loyalty Group—after rendering those islands habitable—France steps in and reaps the advantage. Our clergymen have to leave the group, for although France professes the greatest religious tolerance, their stay is useless. The Roman Catholic missionaries will not work amicably with Protestant clergymen, and as the first receive the active support of the Government, the second had better leave the field. The New Hebrides are about 150 miles from New Caledonia. Nearly every island in the group has been stained with the blood of English missionaries. Sydney and New Zealand traders have opened up the resources of the group, and a few Englishmen are settled there. France may claim the New Hebrides, and the English Government may allow her to quietly take possession of that which British energy has rendered valuable; but England would be hardly acting fairly either to the natives or to English subjects.
In the case of New Caledonia, the action of the home Government is scarcely to be admired. In 1774, as I have already remarked, New Caledonia was discovered by Cook, who so named it in consequence of its resemblance to Scotland. It was duly taken possession of for George III., and was at one time included either in the commission of the Governor of New South Wales, or in that of Sir George Grey's commission as Governor of New Zealand. In 1854 the French took possession. Hearing that military barracks, etc., were being erected, Sir George Grey went down and informed the French Admiral that New Caledonia was British territory.
On his return to New Zealand he reported the circumstance to the Colonial Office, and the matter ended by his commission being cancelled so far as it concerned New Caledonia. The Government of the time did not wish to go into the question. The Sydney papers of the day bitterly lamented the inaction of the home authorities.
With regard to Tahiti, French occupation means absolute authority. Now, the British public contributed thousands of pounds to the cause of civilization in this group, and the records of the London Missionary Society testify to the loss of life which the work entailed. For nearly fifty years the head-quarters of our missionaries in the Pacific were established in the group; yet the French were quietly allowed to add it to their Colonial possessions by the establishment of a nominal protectorate. In the petition for protection, which certainly is a most curious document, it will be seen that the poor Queen had to especially stipulate for the English missionaries to be allowed to pursue their calling unmolested. That the clause was necessary is shown in the fact that our clergymen, since that date, have been expelled from the group, only one remaining. I believe, however, that it is their intention to return.
Writing upon the civilization of the Pacific, one is almost inclined to say that the advent of the French drove the true civilizers—English missionaries—from the field. Is it not time that this portion of international law should be looked into, especially as regards the Pacific? English missionaries are also British subjects. Surely no foreign power has the right to occupy lands in which they reside without paying some deference to their interests. If any nation has acquired a vested interest in the Pacific, England, through her missionaries, planters, and traders, has most assuredly done so. Certainly no foreign power ought to occupy any such islands without at least informing the British Government of its intention so to do.
I purposely use the word occupy, as it possesses a peculiar meaning. Colonies are acquired by conquest, cession, or occupation. No power, with the exception of Spain, has acquired a colony in the Pacific by conquest; neither does any power wish to do so. Cession and occupation appear to be the favourite modes of acquiring possession therein. In a ceded group of islands, such as Fiji, the voice of all interested is taken, and no injury to any foreign interest is committed. France, however, chooses to occupy certain islands—viz., New Caledonia and the Loyalty Groups—whereby that Government greatly injures all foreign interests, besides ignoring the native population. In my opinion, the only fair and international mode of acquiring these islands is by cession. Civilized nations ought to treat the Pacific islands somewhat differently to their usual customs. It must be remembered that the islanders can make use of all their islands. There
are no vast tracts of unused land in the Pacific, such, as there were, and still are, in Australia and New Zealand, upon which the surplus population of Europe can find place. Every acre of land in Polynesia has an owner, and every man knows his land. The manner in which the Middle Island of New Zealand was taken possession of was, I suppose, international, but certainly most undignified two war-vessels, belonging to two Great Powers, almost racing to see which should first raise the flag of the country which they represented, and by that simple operation claiming the land. International law, so far as regards this portion of the globe, sadly requires some little alteration. The nation whose subjects have devoted many years to the civilization of any particular spot, or whose protection is sought for, is the one entitled to the sovereignty of the land. No disinterested power, at the caprice of a moment, has the right to raise its flag and occupy the land. That proceeding partakes more of conquest than occupation. France by nominally fair means has acquired Tahiti, the Paumotas, and the Marquesas, and by actual might New Caledonia. Our Government should not acknowledge her right to any other islands. If a notification were sent to the French Government that British subjects have certain vested interests in the Loyalty, New Hebrides, and other groups of islands near to French possessions, a great deal of trouble may hereafter be prevented.*
It appears to me that the entire action of the French Government in the Pacific was taken for the purpose of establishing a good convict station, and at the same time obtaining good naval stations. England was making use of Australia and Tasmania for a similar purpose, and France desired to do likewise in the Pacific, the civilization of the natives being the last consideration. England forestalled France in the acquisition of New Zealand,
[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]
|Name.||Date of Acquisition.||Area, Square Kilometres.||Population.|
|II. Protected Colonies—|
|Tahiti and Dependencies||1841||1,175||13,847|
|Toubouaï and Varau||1845||103||550|
[Footnote] * The “Statesman's Year Book” for 1875 affords the following information concerning French possessions in the Pacific:—
and so saved that colony from being a French convict station. French official documents testify that neither Marquesas nor Tahiti was considered suitable for the purpose. New Caledonia was chosen, and there are now many thousand convicts on the island. The official notification of the act of taking possession was made in the presence of the officers of the corvette “Le Phoque” and the French missionaries. The Admiral was compelled to build a block-house for the protection of the veryflag which he erected.
With regard to the convicts at present upon the island, they will no doubt, in time, gradually extend themselves over Australasia and the Pacific. It can hardly be said that they will be of any advantage to the cause of civilization therein; rather the opposite. I sincerely trust that the Australasian Colonies will endeavour to prevent any other European power following in the footsteps of France. Every country should maintain its own degraded citizens. Colonising from a convict root may be a problem, but the time has gone by for its solution. It is, in my opinion, almost an imperative duty for the Australian Colonies to discourage by every means in their power the continuance of the convict station at New Caledonia. If France requires a colony in the Pacific, so near to our own, let the colonies see, for their own benefit and for the benefit of the Pacific, that free emigrants are sent, no matter how poor.
Germany is principally represented in the Pacific by the well-known firm of Messrs. Godefroy and Co., of Hamburg, who in 1858 established their head-quarters at Samoa. From Samoa they have “pushed their agencies southward into the Friendly Archipelago (Tonga) and other islands; northward, throughout the whole range of the Kingsmills and the isles in their neighbourhood, that is to say Tokelau, the Ellice, and Gilbert Groups, and the Marshalls or Rallicks, through the Carolines and to Yap, a great island at the entrance of the Luzon sea, where they purchased 3,000 acres of land, formed a settlement, and established a large depôt intended as an intermediate station between their trading posts at the Navigator Islands (Samoa) and their old-established agencies in China and Cochin. Between Samoa and Yap (one of the Pelew Islands), a distance of 3,000 miles, the firm have, or had lately, an agent at every productive island inhabited by the copper-colored race (Malay), upon which the natives are as yet sufficiently well disposed to permit a white man to reside.”*
The Germans make good settlers, although mere traders. It is doubtful whether they have added much to the colonization of the Pacific. They barter a certain quantity of fire-arms, or so much calico, for an equivalent
[Footnote] * H. B. Sterndale.
in cobra (dried cocoa-nut, from which the oil is extracted after its arrival in Hamburg). In order to obtain a monopoly of this material one of the principal instructions to their agents is to oppose the missionary. The minds of Polynesian chiefs are systematically poisoned against missionary teaching. If it were possible, German traders would keep the natives in their present savage state in order to profit by their labour. Of course, the missionary prevents this. The result of German opposition to missionary teaching even in Samoa is lamentable, civil war amongst the native tribes being constant. The Germans fan the flames by supplying the belligerents with arms. In Fiji the German residents strongly supported Maafu in his opposition to King Thakambou, and the desire of the chiefs to cede the country to England. Had we not taken possession, Maafu, with German aid, would have been King of Fiji. The German settlement in Apia (Samoa) consists of some 25,000 acres of land, purchased at about ninepence per acre, and paid for by arms and ammunition. What this implies anyone acquainted with natives can easily understand. It is a pity that so enlightened a firm as Messrs. Godefroy should thus oppose the advance of civilization. A present profit may be made out of the civil war among the natives, but it will be of no advantage in the end, when Samoa becomes depopulated. As to the missionary, Messrs. Godefroy should remember that had it not been for his teaching they would not now be established where they are, and also the fact that every year the missionary is opening up new fields for commerce. The Germans treat their labourers well, but are not very particular as to how they are obtained. A German man-of-war occasionally visits the Pacific in order to look after the interests of the colonists. German policy at the present time is not a colonizing policy, otherwise Samoa would long since have fallen under their flag. At any moment, however, Germany may take possession of the group.
America is but slightly interested in the Pacific. There are a few merchants in the Sandwich Group, and a few whalers amongst the islands. The masters and crews of American whalers have done much harm during the past fifty or sixty years. They have been the cause of a great many of the atrocities which have occurred. Wantonly did the ignorant captains murder and wrong the natives, who revenged themselves upon the next vessel which happened to touch their shores. Luckily a better and more educated class of merchant seamen now sail over these waters. Numerous acts of cruelty on the part of the islanders must be excused; all accounts prove that they have generally acted from a spirit of revenge. The whites, and especially the American whites, must bear a great part of the blame.
At the same time, it is only fair to state that there are many whaling captains who treated the natives in a Christianlike manner. Of late years the whaling industry has greatly fallen off. Whether the United States Government will claim any portion of the Navigator Group is an open question. On February 17, 1872, Maunga, Pango chief of Pango, Tutuila, signed a treaty or agreement with Commander Meade, of the United States s.s. Narrgansett, granting the exclusive right to the United States Government of using that harbour as a coaling and naval station for a private line of steamers running between San Francisco and New Zealand, and their own ships of war, and binding himself not to grant a like privilege to any other power. This agreement was made to depend upon its ratification by the United States Government. In the same year the chiefs of Samoa petitioned President Grant for protection. No action has yet been taken by the Senate in either of these matters.
Until October, 1874, English action in the Pacific was confined to private energy and enterprise. The Imperial Government paid no attention to the hoisting of ensigns and taking possession of islands in England's name by discoverers and captains of men-of-war; Pitcairn Island, however, being an exception. On November 29, 1838, Captain Elliot, in H.M.S. “Fly,” took possession of this island, memorable for having afforded refuge to the mutineers of the Bounty. A brief account of the matter may be interesting. Captain Bligh stated that the original cause of the mutiny was the connection formed by the crew, while at Tahiti, with the Tahitian women; but the islanders flatly deny the assertion, and attribute it to his own perverse temper and tyrannical conduct. Putting Bligh and seventeen of the crew in an open boat, off Tofoa, one of the Friendly islands, April 28, 1789, the mutineers sailed for Toubouai, where they attempted to establish themselves, but the natives were too hostile. Returning to Tahiti, some of the mutineers landed, but the remaining (Christian and eight men), keeping their place of destination secret, took the vessel on to Pitcairn Island, where they burnt her, January 23, 1790. Those who remained at Tahiti were picked up by the “Pandora,” which frigate was sent out in search as soon as Bligh returned to England. In 1808 the American ship “Topaz” discovered the retreat of the mutineers, and in 1814 H.M. ships “Britain” and “Tagus” touched at the island. In 1838 it was taken possession of by England, and in 1850 the greater number of the inhabitants, at their own request, were removed to Norfolk Island, having outgrown their diminutive home.
Norfolk Island is also British territory, the English Government having twice used it as a convict station. Captain Cook was its discoverer. Until 1788 the island had remained uninhabited, but in that year a small number
of convicts, with, a party of marines, were sent there from Australia. It was finally abandoned in 1855, and is now the head-quarters of the Melanesian Mission, and the residence of the Pitcairn islanders. Norfolk Island is included in the commission of the Governor of New South Wales.
In 1864 the inhabitants of Rarotonga, the principal island of the Hervey or Cook's Group, petitioned Her Majesty, through the Governor of New Zealand, for protection, but the prayer was not granted.
On October 10, 1874, Fiji was unconditionally ceded to the British Crown. Want of space forbids my referring to the history of this cession.
A few private individuals, British subjects, claim certain islands by right of purchase or occupation. For example, Messrs. Houlder Brothers, of London, own three small guano islands in Eastern Polynesia; Mr. Brander, of Tahiti, Palmerston Island, in Central Polynesia; one Eli Jennings owns and lives upon Quiros Island; and Messrs. Godefroy and Co. claim and own many others. There are hundreds of similar uninhabited islands in the Pacific, which may thus be acquired. In what manner the title to such acquisitions will be treated by the Great Powers is a question for the purchaser or occupier to consider.
At the present time, therefore, Spain actually possesses and occupies the Ladrone and Bonin groups, together with a few islands in the Pelew and Caroline Groups; France, Tahiti and a few of the Georgian Islands, the Paumotas, Marquesas, Toubouai, and New Caledonia Groups; England, the Fiji Group, Pitcairn, and Norfolk Islands; and America has, or has not, a certain claim upon the Navigator Group, according to the decision of the United States Government.
The other islands are under the rule of their native chiefs. Three of the principal groups aim at possessing certain forms of constitutional government—the Sandwich, Navigator, and Friendly Islands. This movement has been brought about by the influence of the resident whites, principally Englishmen. Many other islands have also certain forms of monarchial government, such as Rarotonga and Huahine, together with fair codes of laws framed by the missionaries.
In 1863 the reigning chief of the Sandwich Islands, King Kamehamha V., granted his subjects a new constitution (the first constitution of 1840 was granted by Kamehamha III.), based upon the English model—King, Lords, and Commons.
I may be allowed to make a slight digression in order to explain the position of America with regard to the Sandwich Islands and Samoa. The United States, it appears, cannot protect foreign lands without altering certain clauses of the Republican Constitution which are antagonistic to the
Government despotically ruling foreign possessions. The President is very anxious to protect Cuba, San Domingo, the Sandwich Islands, and perhaps Samoa; but protection means annexation, and the Senate will pause before breaking down the fundamental principles of the Constitution. Cuba may be admitted into the Union as a new State, as it very nearly approaches the standárd of landed area and population required to constitute a State; but the other three places will require different treatment. Indirectly, American citizens are being encouraged to take such action as will afford the Senate an opportunity of publicly endorsing national claims over these particular spots should it at any time wish to do so. The cordial reception at Washington of any member of the reigning family of the Sandwich Group, the Samana Bay Company in San Domingo, Commodore Meade's action with respect to Pango Pango harbour, Samoa, and the appointment of an American citizen (Colonel Steinberger) to the chief administrative post in that group, are instances of this movement, all of which, I believe, receive the private support of the President, who is a very strong protectionist, or annexationist. There is very little doubt but that the Sandwich Islands will eventually fall under the American flag.
The Friendly Archipelago, or Tonga, is ruled by a native king and council of chiefs;—this group possesses the best native Government in the Pacific. King George Tabou administers the greater portion of the executive duties of the Government personally, and he administers them well. His power is almost absolute. The laws are simple and well framed, the king paying much attention to the advice of the missionaries, who, having no direct interest in commerce, can best advise him upon questions of a conflicting nature. There are many English planters upon the islands, and more flocking in. The group is becoming very valuable. One great trouble is looming before it—the succession to the crown. The king is over 70 years of age, and the heirs-expectant are beginning to talk of his successor. In the Pacific there are always many claimants for the chief authority, and they have each their supporters. The question is generally settled by war, and these wars of succession are most cruel and devastating, might usually overcoming right. A similar war is likely to happen in Tonga. The real well-wishers of Tonga hope that England will interfere and prevent the dark cloud from bursting, for it most assuredly will devastate the island, and cost hundreds of lives.
The Tongese are a most warlike race, and the most daring navigators in the Pacific. Their sympathies are entirely English, and their chiefs have steadily assisted the work of the Wesleyan missionaries; indeed, but for them, Fiji would still be a land of cannibals. The Tongese for more than a century have had much influence in Fijian matters, their warriors playing
the part of powerful mercenaries to the quarrelling chieftains. Maafu, a Tongan, carved out for himself a chieftainship in the Windward Islands of that group, and would have ousted Thakambou had it not been for our interference. He is the most likely man to succeed King George in Tonga, although he has no just right to the crown. Maafu is a great chief, and his friendship is worth cultivating. He rules his subjects well;—white settlers upon his islands can plant and trade in perfect safety.
The action of Sir Hercules Robinson, in inviting Thakambou to Sydney, is highly to be commended. It would be a great advantage if similar hospitality were extended to Maafu. Is it not advisable for the Australian Colonies to pay some such attention to the principal Polynesian chieftains? The practical lesson of civilization would be a great one, and the bond of friendship between the islands and the colonies much strengthened.
The Navigator Group, or Samoa, is also desirous of obtaining some representative form of government, but matters are in a very unsettled condition. Colonel Steinberger, U.S.A. (a special Commissioner sent by President Grant to investigate and report upon the petition for American protection made by the chiefs) was very lately appointed Prime Minister for life. He did not, however, long hold the appointment. It is a difficult matter for any man to endeavour to control the affairs of both natives and foreign residents in the Pacific. The interests are too diverse. The captain of a British man-of-war may view in a very different light actions which may have been prompted for the sole benefit of the native population. I believe that Colonel Steinberger—and I had many conversations with that gentleman—acted as he considered for the good of the Samoan people, but in doing so he fell under the ban of the foreign residents. On February 8, 1876, Captain Stevens, of H.M.S. “Barracouta,” at the request of King Malietoa, removed Colonel Steinberger from Samoa. The native chiefs objected, however, to the interference of Captain Stevens, and I think they were quite right in doing so. An affray ensued between the natives and our men, in which a few of our sailors lost their lives. The Admiralty has consequently ordered an investigation into the whole business, and we shall shortly be placed in possession of the actual facts of the case. Steinberger's reign was a short one—landing in March, 1875, removed in February, 1876. His mode of settling the dispute between the rival claimants of the crown (Malietoa the old, and Malietoa the younger) was somewhat peculiar. It was provided that each should reign for four years alternately, while Stein-berger himself should be Premier for life.
The Samoan Parliament consists of two bodies—the Tainua and Faipule. The Tainua are the sixteen nobles of Samoa, and the Faipule the elected body, one member being elected for every two thousand of the inhabitants.
The desire of these little communities to possess some form of government which can administer internal affairs, and be recognised by foreign powers, is very laudable; but it is doubtful whether any of them will long maintain the position which they have assumed. They will find themselves far better off under the rule of some great power than under their own. Representative constitution is quite unsuitable to them. Democracies cannot exist within the tropics. The great body of the natives implicitly obey the orders of their chiefs.
Previously to the cession of Fiji, the native Government passed an Act allowing manhood suffrage to both natives and Europeans. The consequence would have been that the power of nominating and returning the whole of the representatives would have fallen into the hands of about four chiefs. Our form of Government—Queen, Lords, and Commons—is not found to work well in the West Indies, neither will it in the Pacific. The people may eventually be taught to exercise the power of election, but at present they cannot be entrusted with it. Neither is the aristocratic form of government—King elected and Chiefs—suitable, as the white settlers must possess a powerful voice in the administration. In my opinion, the only form of government suitable is an absolute monarchy, the crown being assisted by a mixed council of native chiefs and influential white residents, this being analagous to one of our pure Crown colonies.
In such tropical islands as these there can only be two classes—labourers, and employers of labour; there cannot, for many generations to come, be a middle class. Employers of tropical labour must, therefore, be rulers, unless a power steps in to protect the labourer; that power, for the benefit of all concerned, must rule absolutely or not at all. Wherever coloured labour is used, the white employers look upon it as degrading. The planters require to be held in check just as much as the natives. The whites in Fiji utterly ignored the existence of the native population except as con-sumers of imported goods, possible labourers, and payers of a tyrannical poll-tax. In many other islands the same feeling prevails. It is to be hoped that white settlers will be more liberal in their ideas, and recognize the advantage of absolute government. It is not at all unlikely that many other groups of islands will set up certain forms of government.
Islands still retaining Old Customs.
The following are those islands which still follow their old forms of government, or rather old customs:—In the North Pacific, the Caroline, Marshall, and Gilbert or Kingsmill Groups; a few islands in Eastern Polynesia: the Phœnix and Ellice Groups in Central Polynesia; all the isles of Western Polynesia, with the exception of New Caledonia; and the numerous small islands which lie scattered amongst all the principal
groups. In most of these islands the missionary clergyman alone represents the bright side of modern civilization, and tempers the savage habits of the chiefs. In Western Polynesia, however, it is hardly yet safe for a missionary to land, or a trader to leave his vessel. New Guinea is a terra incognita, and its inhabitants are but little known. New Britain and New Ireland, the Admiralty and the Louisade Islands are almost in a similar position.
From some of these islands the principal portion of the labour employed in Queensland and the Pacific was, and still is, obtained. Possessing no government, nor any power which the whites could respect, the simple inhabitants were at the mercy of those who resorted to their shores. Luckily, our cruisers will now be some protection to them.
Placing upon one side the painful incidents connected with kidnapping, I am inclined to believe that the employment of native labour by cotton-planters and others has been beneficial, especially the employment of labour foreign to any particular locality. The mere fact of seeing other islands, other tribes, and a higher civilization, has led thousands of natives to reconsider and abolish their barbarous customs, and to listen more readily to missionary teaching. Anyone who has seen a large numbar of natives collected from perhaps ten different islands of Western Polynesia, or those near the equator, upon a well-ordered plantation, would hardly doubt that the lesson those natives received during their three or five years' residence upon that plantation tended to make them better members of the human family on returning to their respective homes. Official papers concerning the annexation of Fiji testify that Polynesian labourers upon Fijian plantations are far better off, as far as regards food, clothing, and house accommodation, than when upon their native islands.
On the other hand, the Melanesian Mission Report for 1873 totally disagrees with this opinion. The report states, with reference to the New Hebrides and Banks Islands, “that the labour trade is depopulating them, and that the returned labourer does not convey back the knowledge of any useful art, or even anything of civilization. It is therefore the business of those who carry on the mission to do all they can to prevent and oppose a traffic, the effects of which they see to be pernicious.” In this I think that the mission is decidedly in the wrong. Bishop Patteson himself never demanded the entire suppression of the traffic; he only demanded its proper regulation. Neither do I think that the trade, except in one or two minor instances, is depopulating the islands. It may lessen the population of any particular spot, but only for a time. When the report above referred to was written, there were many hundreds of New Hebridean and Banks
islanders in Queensland and Fiji, waiting to be returned to their different homes. His Excellency Sir Arthur Gordon has since returned them. That the labourer returns without having gained any knowledge of civilization or useful arts is a statement which can only be excused on the ground of missionary zeal. It is to be hoped that the clergy will not oppose the labour traffic, but suggest proper rules for its management, and lend their aid in seeing them carried out. The extension of commerce and the employment of labor will assist rather than retard missionary work. The Presbyterian report for 1873, concerning the mission in the New Hebrides, contains the following significant statement:—“We expected to find a people who would at least hear the Word of God and receive instruction, but, on the contrary, the great majority of those among whom we are stationed literally close their eyes, and refuse to be taught anything either sacred or secular.” When it is remembered that thirty-five years of missionary labour have been devoted to this group, such a statement is very significant.
Missionaries cannot ascribe this to the labour traffic, for that has only been in operation of late years. In my opinion, it results from the fact that commerce does not properly support missionary teaching. In Eastern and Central Polynesia commerce has followed in the footsteps of the missionary, and the natives are now orderly and well-conducted; but in the New Hebrides commerce has no footing, and the natives listen to nothing, either sacred or secular. It is true that a few natives return to their islands somewhat demoralised. If they carry back a gun and a little ammunition they are not slow in using them against their old enemies, but they would do the same with bows and arrows. It is a question whether even the vices of civilization are not more tolerable than their own previous savage customs —unfortunately they are apt to add the two together. Still, missionaries cannot expect to keep the islands closed until they have evangelized the natives; commerce must spread, and the first step is to take advantage of native labour. When the excitement connected with kidnapping has passed away, it will be found that the employment of labour has been beneficial, especially in spreading the power and superiority of the white race among the islands yet unvisited by the missionary clergymen.
Will the Native Population Die Out?
Whether the native population will die ont is an important question. The labour traffic may have somewhat thinned the population of a few islands; not from rough usage at the plantations, but from the mere fact of a certain number of natives being unable to stand the change of climate. Change of residence may, or may not, be good, but that question is subordinate to the great one before us—Whether the natives generally will survive
the contact with the white race? I believe they will. The idea that native races die out upon the appearance of the white race is true only in a limited sense. In my opinion the statement only applies to lands situate in temperate or cold zones, which happened to possess, or do still possess, an aboriginal population; it does not apply to tropical, or semi-tropical, lands —they are beyond its influence. Thus the Indians in some parts of America, and the Maoris in New Zealand, are certain to die out, being unable to survive the contact in temperate zones with the more fitting white race. The American Indians are being gradually driven into the central portion of the continent, which is their proper residence. They will for a time range free over the southern portion of the continent, because circumstances are still favourable for their habitation. The Maoris are gradually dying out because it was an error for any portion of the Malayan race to wander so far south. Certain climates kill native races just as surely as contact with the white race. We found very few Maoris or Malays in the Middle Island of New Zealand; they could not exist there. The American Indians have also much Malayan blood in their veins; their place is within the tropics. Tropical races cannot compete with the more fitting races beyond the tropics, and white races cannot compete with native races within the tropics. No one could possibly maintain that the white race will extinguish the East Indian, the Chinese, or the Malayan, neither will it the Polynesian. I am well aware that the aboriginal inhabitants of the West India Islands have nearly disappeared, but in the first instance they were almost exterminated by the Spaniards. I do not think that it is for our interest to exterminate the Polynesians. When the epidemic of measles was lately devastating Fiji, I heard many well-informed persons remark that if 50,000 natives, more or less, died off; the less trouble would be given to the Colonial Government. Now, a greater mistake could not possibly be made. Every native dying is a loss to the Government. It is to be hoped that not only the health, but the natural increase of the Fijians will be carefully looked after.
Figures purporting to show the decrease of any particular island cannot be relied upon. It was formerly supposed that the Sandwich Islands contained a population of 400,000 inhabitants, and New Zealand 200,000. Later calculations inform us that they now contain respectively 58,000 and 35,000. It is doubtful whether the first ever numbered more than 100,000, or the second 60,000. Captain Cook, generally so correct, was sadly out in his estimate of native population.
As soon as certain sanitary regulations are attended to, and infanticide put a stop to, I believe the population of the Pacific will increase. That of Java has nearly quadrupled itself since 1816, and it is a curious fact that
the few remaining aboriginal inhabitants of the West India islands are of late years increasing in numbers.
I have before stated that the true wealth of the Pacific, and indeed of all tropical countries, does not rest in the soil nor in its productions, but in the amount of resident voluntary labour obtainable to cultivate the soil. To prove this statement it is only necessary to refer to the West Indies. Immediately after the emancipation of the slaves, estates which were worth £50,000 would hardly realise £5,000; the liberated negroes refused to work, and the planters were ruined. It is therefore the primary task of any Government to superintend and supply the demand for labour if it desires to advance the prosperity of tropical lands.
Hitherto the labour supply has been conducted by private individuals, and the evils which have arisen to both labourers and employers prove the necessity of Government interference. In Fiji, Samoa, and Tahiti the greater portion of the labour used has been imported from the neighbouring islands, but the supply is uncertain and very small. It may almost be said that there is no labour to be obtained in the Pacific. The removal of a few natives from one group of islands to another, whereby the first group becomes depopulated for a time, is not a supply—it is doubtful whether such a transfer is advisable either for the sake of economy or for health; neither is any certain supply to be found in the resident population.
The existence of 140,000 men, women, and children upon 7,400 square miles of tropical land, as is the case in Fiji, affords no supply: hardly twenty to the square mile. Java contains a population of 337 to the square mile, and Ceylon 87. My general estimate of the population of the Pacific (vide chart) is 1,200,000 upon a superficial area of 98,000 square miles, giving about twelve to the square mile. Tropical lands admit a far denser population, and the Pacific must look either to the natural increase of the population, or to foreign countries, in order to obtain a fair supply of labour. The natural increase will be found much too slow a process, and the only remaining alternative will be to import labour from abroad under Government superintendence. In South-eastern Asia there exists a labour market able to supply the world. China and India contain a population which is commencing to burst the bounds that have so long restrained them within certain limits. That population is beginning to emigrate, and soon a flood of Asiatics will pour through the long-closed gate of South-eastern Asia, and scatter themselves over the eastern and western tropical and temperate zones.
Now, the Pacific Islands lie close at hand, and a little regulation will direct a stream of labour which will amply supply any demand. This
simple fact, this proximity to India and China, renders the Pacific Islands the most valuable within the tropical belt. The cost of passage (a very great consideration) will be small compared with that to the West Indies. A two or three years' contract with the Asiatic labourer will pay in the Pacific, whereas a five or six years' contract will hardly pay in the West Indies. Employers of tropical labour will soon perceive this important fact, and a great number will flock to the islands of the Pacific as soon as they are assured of sufficient Government protection.
In Fiji, Sir Arthur Gordon will doubtless look after these matters; but ought not the Imperial Government to take up the subject? If the statement is correct that the true wealth of tropical countries rests in the labour, should not the Imperial Government look after the interests of all its tropical possessions by superintending and regulating the supply of foreign labour. The West Indies, the Mauritius, Natal, Ceylon, Northern Australia, Queensland, Fiji, etc., all demand tropical labourers, which India and China can easily supply. The Registrar-General of Bombay informs us that the population of India is increasing by 2,000,000 annually. It is quite impossible for India to support its present population, together with such a yearly increase; should not, therefore, a proper system of emigration be determined upon? Our tropical possessions in the Pacific can easily absorb a vast number of labourers, and India would be greatly relieved. If, however, caste, prejudice, or custom cannot be overcome, there is a plentiful supply of labour to be obtained from China. Many Chinese are already in the islands, but many more are required. The Chinese make good settlers, and infuse some of their own untiring energy into the people around them. It is to be hoped that the Imperial Government will remove the restrictions which were lately imposed upon Chinese emigrants from Hong Kong.
There is very little doubt but that the Imperial Government can easily arrange a liberal labour supply from Asia if it favourably considers the proposal; but we have something else to consider besides the mere importation of labourers—we must endeavour to retain them after their term of service has expired. Increase of population in Polynesia implies increase of wealth. Fiji can well support a million inhabitants, and when the little colony contains that population, it will also possess a very fair supply of voluntary labour. Necessity will then compel the natives to work more strenuously than they do at present; the struggle for existence will be greater, and a greater amount of labour must result. It will therefore be seen that the present inhabitants of Fiji are not alone to be considered; a large increase must be provided for, and it is consequently necessary for the Government to gravely consider the land question. As much land as possible should be retained in order to provide for future increase, and foster future settlement.
Sir Hercules Robinson might not have fully considered this subject when he proposed that tribal lands should vest in the chiefs.
An unavoidable mistake has been made in the West Indies, which should, if possible, be avoided in Polynesia. The supply of female coolies, in anything like proportionate numbers, has been much too small, and the result has been found to be thoroughly demoralizing; marriage laws have been completely thrown aside. Too many male labourers ought not to be introduced without a proportionate number of females.
Health of the Islanders.
As yet the natives have not considered any sanitary regulations—their houses, although comfortable and suited to the tropics, are badly drained and ill-ventilated, the greater number of them being extremely unclean habitations. Mat upon mat is often piled upon the naked earth until the bottom layer is a mass of decomposition; the consequence is that vermin abound, and the natives have to resort to the use of lime in order to keep themselves personally free from the pest. Contagious diseases of every kind spread amongst them like wildfire—an epidemic kills them off by thousands. Should we not endeavour to prevent this? The natives should be induced to build their houses upon higher ground, not upon the sea-shore; also to keep them in open spaces. In many inland villages. I have seen the rank vegetation clustering around the very walls of the huts, which sometimes it is even difficult to discover. A traveller all at once stumbles on a native village buried in the luxuriant growth of the tropics. More wood and stone should be used in the construction of the private dwellings; coral will make a good floor when wood is not to be obtained.
The natives are also very improvident in their domestic habits, sometimes gorging to excess, at other times almost starving; they have no regular hours for taking food, but the principal meal is towards evening. Their chief article of diet is vegetable, which renders them incapable of sustaining any very prolonged labour. It is doubtful whether the free use of cocoa-nut is beneficial to health; in my opinion, maize would be found far more nutritious. The dense coast population of Ceylon is chiefly supported by the cocoa-nut, and we often hear of great epidemics raging in that island; some 10,000 natives were carried off by cholera in 1867.
Hardly sufficient attention is paid to the purity of the water supply, upon which health in the tropics so greatly depends. Where running water is used, the streams are generally fouled by the natives, and standing water ought to be avoided;—the great amount of vegetable decomposition constantly taking place soon charges standing water with a pestilential deposit, Some of the islands are, however, in themselves very unhealthy. These are principally to be found in Western Polynesia; why they should be so is a
difficult matter to determine. In many instances the islands surrounding any particular spot are healthy, whilst the spot itself is the abode of fever and ague; indeed it is oftentimes found that three sides of an island are healthy, while the fourth is totally the reverse.
The prevailing winds have much to do with the subject, and likewise the neighbourhood of the Australian continent. Large deposits of vegetable matter in a state of decomposition will also be found to greatly influence the healthy condition of the atmosphere. For these reasons the windward side of any island is more healthy than the leeward, in consequence of receiving the steady current of the south-east trade winds.
In the report of the Commissioners—Commodore Goodenough and Mr. Layard—concerning the cession of Fiji, there is a paper containing some observations by Dr. Messer upon the health of the islands. That gentleman states that the Fijian Archipelago is singularly free “not only from tropical diseases, but also from most of those diseases which in England and other countries yearly cause a large amount of sickness.” This is saying a great deal for future white residence in that group. It would be of the utmost advantage if our medical officers, generally, in the Pacific would report upon the health of the islands, as the most healthy are the most valuable for European residence. The climate of an unhealthy island will greatly retard the work of colonization. Our information on the subject is at present very vague, but I think I am fully entitled to say that the Pacific Islands are more healthy, and more suitable for European residence than the West Indies or British Guiana.
Language and Education.
The education of the islanders has been principally confined to religious teaching, Nothing else could have been expected, nor anything better imparted. Whilst, however, perfectly agreeing with what has already been done, I think that it will be found absolutely necessary to pay more attention to secular and industrial education, especially in those islands which have been christianized. The Melanesian Mission in Norfolk Island, and the Wesleyan training schools in Tonga and Fiji, combine the three;—an extension of this plan is alone required. I am quite certain that the missionaries will cordially assist in any matter connected with the welfare of the natives. Both secular education and industrial habits must be inculcated, and the more compulsory the system the better it will be for the natives. There should not be any hesitation in the course to be pursued. The lazy habits of past generations have to be rooted out, and compulsory means are the most suitable for the work. Boys and girls should be compelled to attend the schools, and the Fijian Government should consider the advisability of establishing such schools in every village. Public nurseries
and public schools might well be combined. One great difficulty exists with regard to secular education. Each group of islands has not only its peculiar language, but in many instances distinct district dialects—the missionaries say, distinct languages. The Rev. H. Codrington, in one of his early lectures, remarks, “It is not that each island has its own language, but that there are many languages, mutually unintelligible, on one island. I have a little chart of a part of the New Hebrides—the Shepherd Islands, including Tisiko and Fate; there are twelve islands and thirteen tongues, mutually unintelligible.”
Western Polynesia, however, possesses a greater diversity of language than Eastern or Central Polynesia, in consequence of having been populated not only by colonies of Asiatics and Papuan negroes, but also by many wanderers from Polynesia itself, driven westward by the trade winds. New Hebrides and the Solomon Islands contain many settlements of pure Polynesians. In Eastern and Central Polynesia the different dialects of the parent Malayan tongue are not so numerous. They must, however, rank as distinct languages in consequence of the missionary clergy having been compelled to erect them into that position. The Sandwich, Society, Cook's, Samoan, Tongan, and Fijian Islands have each their published Bibles, grammars, dictionaries, and vocabularies. Portions of the Scriptures have also been translated into some of the languages spoken in the following islands:—Marquesas, Caroline, Marshall, Gilbert, New Hebrides, Banks, Loyalty, New Caledonia groups. The Press has indeed aided Christianity in the Pacific.
Whether it is advisable to continue this bountiful supply of language is very doubtful. A population of little over a million does not require 25 or 30 different languages. It would be much better for the natives to learn one useful language, which could be used as a medium for imparting secular education, than the present numerous dialects of one or two parent tongues. One language is amply sufficient for Eastern, Central, and Northern Polynesia, another for Western Polynesia. In my opinion two languages are alone required—one founded upon a Malayan, the other upon a Papuan basis. The subject is very important, as the future work of Government in the Pacific will be much aided by such a simplification, for the cost of ruling the islands will be increased in proportion to the number of languages. It is also doubtful whether the English language is suitable to the tropics; the natives under our rule will pick it up, but it is much too harsh to become the popular language in Polynesia—French and Spanish are both more suitable. It would, however, be better for the English language to be taught than the numerous native languages which are at present being in a manner built up. Australia will contribute a large number of English-
speaking people to the population of the Pacific, and South-eastern Asia many Indian and Chinese. The necessity for having one language common to all, and easy of acquisition, is hence evident.
Position of the Australasian Colonies.
The position of the Australasian Colonies with regard to these islands is very important, as the trade of the Pacific is almost certain to be conducted from their ports for many years to come. There are few safe harbours in Polynesia, and the rise and fall of tide is very slight, consequently the Australasian ports must be largely relied on for many purposes.
The carrying trade of the Pacific will have to be principally conducted by means of small vessels of 80 to 150 tons burthen, either steam or sail, or a combination of both. Auxiliary screw wooden schooners or steamers will be found most suitable. Australasia can supply these vessels better and cheaper than any other country. One or two ports of the western coast of America may share in the trade, but the Australasian ports are likely to be the most relied upon.
Colonial shipping will also supply a cheap freight for island produce to European markets. At present, outward English shipping to Australia cannot always depend upon a homeward freight. Vessels have constantly to go from Melbourne, Sydney, and New Zealand to India and China in order to obtain a return cargo. The trade of the Pacific will supply that shipping with a return freight, and both countries will mutually profit. Of course, eventually, the islands will require their own lines of vessels, and accommodation will be required in the English docks for the Pacific trade, just as it is required for the West Indian.
The islands will draw from the colonies their supply of coals, building materials, flour, and other standing articles of consumption, also a vast quantity of material. Towns are yet to be built, roads and bridges to be constructed; small dry docks, mills, foundries, machinery, water and gasworks, lighthouses, telegraphs connecting group to group and island to island; indeed, all the wants of civilization have yet to be supplied, and the colonies are certain to share largely in the supply. At present the islands possess absolutely nothing—cultivation and production have hardly commenced.
The imports and exports of the British possessions alone in the West Indies amount to £15,000,000 sterling. The Pacific hardly imports more than £700,000 per annum. The West Indies employ a million tons of English shipping—not a vessel leaves an English port for the Pacific.
It is almost certain that the resources of the Pacific will shortly be greatly developed, and the position of Australasian Colonies with regard to that development is a very important consideration. Australasia is as
valuable to the Pacific as the Pacific is to Australasia; indeed, if the islands would consult their best interests, and also look to their geographical position, instead of seeking protection from America, France, and Germany, they would petition the Australian Colonies for assistance. It is for the interest of these colonies to render such assistance, whereas the powers above named have no particular interest in the matter.
Which of the colonies will take the lead in the island trade is uncertain. but in my opinion New Zealand, from its position, is likely to do so. Auckland is 1,200 miles nearer the greater number of the groups than Sydney or any Australian port. For nine months in the year the southeast wind prevails, and New Zealand lies to the windward of Australia. Auckland is likely to become the seat of a large ship-building trade, possessing, as it does, a good harbour, and plenty of iron, coal, and timber. Sydney will supply a great amount of merchandies; Queensland, meat; and South Australia, flour, etc.
New Zealand likewise possesses another great advantage over Australia —its beautiful climate; a flt sanitarium for tropical invalids. Many planters even now resort to this Colony in order to recruit their health. Ladies and children will find it of the utmost advantage to annually leave the islands for a couple of months, in order to escape the summer heat.
The bond of union between the colonies and the islands must become a very strong one. Population is gradually overflowing; colonial merchant are establishing agencies in the Pacific; and there will hardly be a planter who will not possess many friends in one or other of the Austrlian Colonies.
I must now bring the paper to an end. The subject upon which it treats is so extensive that the great difficulty under which I have laboured is not to find what to say, but what to leave unsaid. In a paper such as this it is almost impossible to do justice to so great a subject. Many important matters have been omitted. But slight reference has been made to New Gumea; the civilization and colonization of that island must be a task of time. In my opinion, the various groups of islands referred to require far more immediate attention than New Guinea. Their colonization is forcing itself upon our attention, although it has taken nearly a hundred years for the question to ripen into its present importance.
New Guinea, as I have before remarked, is a terra incognita; there is not much danger of any Great Power attempting to colonize it for some time to come. All that we require at present is the protection of our trade through Torres Straits, and the Royal Colonial Institute has duly brought that important point before the notice of the Imperial Government. That the civilization of New Guinea will be found a more easy task than that of
the Malay islands is true, but there is no necessity for us immediately to perform the task. Our missionaries will first lead the way. I notice that in May last the Wesleyan missionary barque, “John Wesley,” left Fiji with a deputation of white missionaries, and about fifteen native teachers, for the purpose of taking the first steps to implant Christianity on the north-west of the island, and at the same time on the islands of New Britain and New Ireland. The London Missionary Society have selected the south coast. There is very little doubt but that these noble efforts will succeed, yet the task is a difficult one. The natives are somewhat fierce and treacherous, and the climate, so far as we are acquainted, very unhealthy. It would be of much advantage if the Home Government directed our war schooners to visit the new stations occasionally. Nothing has been found more hurtful to missionary enterprise than the isolated condition of the clergy. For many months they are left to themselves to struggle with their numerous difficulties. The one or two mission vessels cannot perform the necessary work of visiting all the stations. I trust the societies at home will seek a little co-operation in this matter from the Imperial Government.
In the body of the paper it will be observed that reference has often been made to the West India Islands. In my opinion, the past history of those islands will be found a very valuable precedent for future action in Polynesia. The opening of the Isthmus of Panama by a canal has a most important bearing upon the future of the Pacific. The successful accomplishment of that great work will vastly increase the value of the islands. Through them will pass a great trade to Australasia and Eastern Asia, and back again to the Western Hemisphere. Great circle tracks are almost certain to be followed, and one or two of these tracks cut the islands. Such a traffic must greatly benefit the Pacific. The opening of the canal will also permit the island trade going direct to English markets, as the distance will then not be much greater than to any other.
That the canal will be constructed is almost a certainty; a late American commission upon the subject does not consider the difficulties insurmountable. The cause of civilization would be greatly advanced if America, France, and England warmly took up the subject;—our own Government, I believe, is fully alive to its importance. In conclusion, I may be allowed to express an earnest wish that the Imperial Government will consider the advisability of pursuing some definite policy. Action in Polynesia should not be made to depend upon the mere question of the suppression of slavery. It is not too much to consider that the islands will eventually form a great confederation; but much depends upon the manner in which they are acquired by the great powers. The tendency of late years in the West Indies has been towards such a confederation. Under a federal system the cost of
government will not be so great, taxes will be more uniform, and the labour supply can be better regulated—three very important considerations in tropical countries. I trust that Great Britain will act in such a manner as to enable the islands eventually to form a powerful confederation. I cannot close this paper without adding one tribute of respect to the memory of the latest martyr to the cause of civilization in the Pacific—James Graham Goodenough, commodore of the Australian station. Admired and respected by all who knew him, loved and esteemed by all his officers, his loss will be deeply felt. He fell a martyr in the attempt to restore confidence in the minds of the savage natives of Santa Cruz, after having successfully brought about the annexation of Fiji to the British Crown. Few events, since the death of Captain Cook, have created so powerful an impression upon the public mind. Bishop Patteson and Commodore Goodenough have both fallen victims to the treachery of these particular islands. When are these losses to cease? Almost a century since, La Perouse and his unfortunate comrades were cast away upon these very islands, and not one returned to tell the tale. Is it not time for us to regard these natives as dangerous to humanity? The lives of our sailors and traders in the Pacific are at their mercy. The late commodore would not allow them to be punished; but have we not a duty to perform? Should we not at once take steps to prevent the future loss of valuable lives? England cannot afford to lose such sons as John Coleridge Patteson and James Graham Goodenough.
[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]
|Name of Group.||No. of Islands||Formation.||By whom Discovered.||Area Square Miles.||Name of Mission||Native Population.|
|Bonin Islands||50||Volcanic||Spaniards||Roman Catholic|
|Ladrone or Marian Islands||20||Do.||Magellan, 1521||1,254||Do. 1668||55,000|
|Pelew Islands||20||Villalolos, 1543||Do. 1710||10,000|
|Caroline Islands||300||Volcanic and Coral||Portuguese, 1526; Drake, 1579; Mendana, 1595.||American Board of Foreign Missions, Hawaian Mission||*150,000|
|Marshall, or Mulgrave Islands||30||Coral||Marshall and Gilbert, 1788||Hawaian Miss'n. A. B. F. M. Samoan Mission||12,000|
|Gilbert or Kingsmill Islds.||16||Do.||Do.||Hawaian Miss'n. A. B. F. M.||10,000|
|Sandwich Islds. (1871)||13||Volcanic||Cook, 1778||6,090||A. B. F. M. 1820 Hawaian Mission Soc. Prop. Gosp'l. Am. Miss. Asso.||58,765|
|Marquesas||5||Do.||Mendana, 1595||777||Hawaian Mis. A. B. F. M. R. C. M.||10,000|
|Paumota, or Low Archipelago||78||Coral||De Quiros, 1606||4,125||R. C. & L. M. S. Soc. Prop. Grosp'l.||8,000|
|Tahiti, or (1871) Society Islands||3||Volcanic||Do.||734||L. M. S. 1797 R. C. M.||13,847|
|Georgian Islands||6||Do.||Do.||L. M. S.||10,000|
|Austral, or Tubai Islands||5||Vancouver, 1791||Do.||4,000|
|Cook's, or Hervey Islands||7||Volcanic and Coral||Cook, 1773||Do.||16,000|
|Name of Group.||Foreign Residents.||Government.||Imports £||Exports £||General Remarks.|
|Bonin Islands||30||Spanish||No native population. A few Japanese. Lloyd's Harbour, a very good one.|
|Ladrone or Marian Islands||Do.||The fleet of Prince Maurice, of Nassau, refreshed at Guam, 1625.|
|Pelew Islands||Native King & Spanish.||Antelope wrecked, 1783; Prince Lee Boo accompanied survivors to England.|
|Caroline Islands||120||Native Chiefs||Many excellent Harbours. Great resort of Whalers. Severe Hurricanes. Natives faithless and treacherous. Enormous ruins.|
|Marshall or Mulgrave Islands||6||Do.||Radick and Rallick Chains.|
|Gilbert or Kingsmill Islds.||Native King||On the Equator. Severe hurricanes. Degraded and savage type of Natives.|
|Sandwich Islds. (1871)||5,500||Monarchy and Constitution Since 1840||325,176||378,413||Cook killed at Hawaii, 1743. Independence recognised, 1843. Sugar principal export.|
|Marquesas.||French, 1842||Bad Harbours. Fine race of Natives.|
|Paumota, or Low Archipelago||French Protectorate, 1846||Eighteen uninhabited. Great pearl shell fishery.|
|Taihiti, or (1871) Society Islands.||Do.||120,000||90,000||Cotton principally exported.|
|Georgian Islands||Native Government.||Independence from Tahiti recognized. Fair code of laws. Two of the Islands under French protection.|
|Anstral, or Tebai Islands||Native Chiefs||Good Harbour in Rapa. Beautiful climate.|
|Cook's, or Hervey Islands.||30||Native Queen and Chiefs||No harbours. Beautiful climate. Hurricanes occasionally.|
|Name of Group.||No. of Island.||Formation.||By whom Discovered.||Area Square Miles.||Name of Mission||Native Population.|
|Ellice||L. M. S.||2,000|
|Tokelau, or Union||Do.||500|
|Navigator, or Samoa (1871)||10||Volcanic||Roggewein, 1722; Bougainville, 1768||1,650||L. M. S. Wesleyan. M. S.||35,000|
|Friendly Islands, or Tonga||100||Volcanic and Coral||Tasman, 1643||L. M. S. 1797 Wes. M. S. 1831||30,000|
|Fiji (1873)||200||Volcanic||Do.||7,404||Wes. M. S. 1835||140,500|
|New Hebrides||Do.||De Quiros, 1606 Bougainville, 1768; Cook, 1774||Melanesian Miss. and Presby. Miss. S.||*80,000|
|Banks Island||Do.||Melanesian Miss.|
|Santa Cruz Islds.||12||Do.||Mendana, 1570||Melanesian Miss|
|Loyalty Islands||4||Coral||1,354||L. M. S. 1841 Mel. M. & R. C. M.||*15,000|
|New Caledonia.||2||Cook, 1774||10,875||R. C. M.||29,000|
|Solomon Islands||140||Volcanic||Mendana, 1567||Molanesian Miss.||*200,000|
|Louisade Islands||Torres, 1606|
|New Guinea||Portuguese, 1511; Torres, 1606||260,000||L. M. S. and Wesleyan M. S.|
|Namo of Group.||Foreign Residents.||Government.||Imports £||Exports £||General Remarks.|
|Phoœnix||Native Chiefs||Few inhabitants.|
|Ellice.||Do.||Islanders once ignorant of warfare. Peruvian slavers in 1863 almost depopulated the group.|
|Tokehau, or Union.||Do.||No soil upon some islands. Natives once unaccustomed to the use of fire.|
|Navigator, or Samoa (1871).||500||Native Chiefs & Constitution||25,000||45,000||Possesses the finest Harbours in the Pacific. Rarely visited by hurricanes. Good climate.|
|Friendly Islands, or Tonga.||60||Native Monarchy||Low islands. Severe hurricanes. Earthquakes common.|
|Fiji (1876).||1,786||English, 1874||87,653||84,802||Hurricanes frequent and severe. Superficial area equal to Wales.|
|New Hebrides.||30||Native Chiefs||Hurricanes frequent and severe Unhealthy islands. Havannah harbour good. Williams murdered at Erromanga, 1839. Sandal wood discovered, 1828.|
|Banks Island.||Do.||Mota Island, head quarters of Melanesian Mission.|
|Santa Cruz Islds.||Do.||La Perouse lost, 1788. Bishop Patteson murdered, 1871. Commodore Goodenough, 1875. Numerous & savage population.|
|Loyalty Islands||Do.||France claims control over the group.|
|New Caledonia.||*10,000||French, 1853||Natives resemble Tasmanian Aborigines (now extinct). Ruins of ancient roads and aqueducts.|
|Solomon Islands||Native Chiefs||A magnificent group. Superficial area about 14,000 square miles. Great cannibals. Crocodiles seen upon Ysabel.|
|New Ireland.||Do.||A large and beautiful island. Numerous and contented population.|
|New Britain.||Do.||M. D'Urville (1827) much struck with its value and beauty. Numerous population.|
|Admiralty Islds.||Do.||Thickly populated. Cocoa-nut abundant.|
|Louisade Islands||Do.||Very ferocious Natives.|
|New Guinea||Do.||In 1828 the Dutch took possession of a little south-west territory, but afterwards abandoned it. They still retain the Arron Islands, lying to the south-west, and containing about 60,000 inhabitants.|
[Footnote] * Conjectural.
Explanation of Chart.
As the accompanying statistical chart of the Pacific Islands is the first of the kind attempted, I trust that every allowance will be made for inaccuracies. I have found it very difficult to obtain any reliable information; even the missionary accounts vary considerably.
Notice has been taken only of the principal groups, although scattered amongst them are numerous solitary islands of much value. For example—Savage Island, or Nive, population 5,000, discovered by Cook 1773; Wallis Island, population 3,000, the residence of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Oceania; Ocean Island, population 2,000; Pleasant Island, population 1,400, so named from its beauty; Gambier Island, population 1,500, under French protection; Easter Island, Fanning Island, and many others.
The names of the various groups are somewhat confusing; in many instances I have given those by which they are most popularly known. It is difficult to name correctly the two groups, generally called the Society Islands. Captain Wallis, I believe, named them the Georgian Islands, in honour of George III. Cook called them the Society Islands, in honour of the Royal Society. Ellis calls the Eastern Group (Tahiti) the Georgian Islands, and the Western Group, the Society Islands. I think that Tahiti should be called the Society Islands, as it was there that Cook made his observations.
With regard to the number of islands which each group is stated to contain, it is necessary to explain that most of them are mere rocks, or chains of islets upon one great reef, or numerous islands enclosed by one reef. There are very few large volcanic islands in any particular group. Fiji, for example, stated to contain 200, has only three or four large islands and six or seven small ones, whilst the remainder are mere spots, containing from two to a thousand acres each. The Island of Hogolue, commonly so called, in the Caroline Group, is an immense atoll, or coral reef, enclosing a vast lagoon, having a circumference of some 300 miles. Within the lagoon are four great islands, each from 20 to 25 miles in circumference, and more than 20 smaller uninhabited cays, covered with cocoa-nut and other trees.
The difference between the volcanic and coral islands it is important to distinguish, as the former are more suited for the growth of coffee, cotton, sugar, tobacco, etc., than the latter.
Exclusive of New Guinea, the area of the islands may be about 98,000 square miles, or five times as great as our West Indian possessions, excluding, of course, British Guiana. The gross area of any group is only an approximation, and cannot be relied on. By reducing kilometres into miles I have been enabled to arrive at some idea of the superficial area of the French possessions.
A further survey of the Pacific is sadly needed. Since the “Herald” and Commodore Wilkes expedition, but little has been added to the Admiralty charts. I am, however, somewhat uncertain whether the Imperial Government has not lately directed a few necessary surveys to be undertaken.
The population of any group marked with an asterisk is purely conjectural. One writer supposes the New Hebrides, for instance, to contain 200,000 natives, another 60,000. I prefer to under-rate, rather than over-rate, the native population. The total of the numbers given in the chart amounts to 843,612, to which must be added the population of the Phœnix, Santa Cruz, New Ireland, New Britain, Louisade, and Admiralty groups, and also the inhabitants of the numerous solitary islands before referred to.
Exclusive of New Guinea, the population of which it is quite impossible to conjecture, there cannot be less than 1,200,000 natives in Polynesia.
The foreign residents are principally European. I do not consider that there are more than 20,000 whites in the Pacific, of which number probably 10,000 are in New Caledonia.
The total of the imports amounts to £557,829, and exports, £598,215. Add to these sums the imports and exports of the Tongan Archipelago, the only remaining group of any present commercial importance, also the goods sold by the trading schooners in exchange for island produce, and the grand total of imports and exports will not exceed £1,450,000 per annum. The supply of the French convict station at New Caledonia can hardly be included under a commercial heading.*
The following table supplies a few statistics concerning other tropical countries;—
|Area in Square Miles.||Population.||Imports.||Exports.|
|British possessions in the West Indies, 1871||19,988||1,089,818||5,186,086||5,804,093|
|British Guiana, 1871||76,000||193,491||1,897,183||2,748,720|
|Phillipine Islands †||65,100||4,319,269|
In comparison with these figures, the result of my calculations and approximations may be given as follows:—
|Area in Square Miles.||Population.||Imports.||Exports.|
It will therefore be seen that the Pacific Islands, possessing a superficial area of five times the extent of our possessions in the West Indies, and a greater population, do not at present consume one-eighth of the amount annually imported by those islands.‡
[Footnote] * In 1874 New Caledonia imported £503,263 and exported £85,598.
[Footnote] † In 1871 the Phillipine Islands exported to Great Britain alone £1,391,254, and imported £463,359.
[Footnote] ‡ It is important to note that, in speaking of the West Indies, I only refer to the British possessions.