Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

race.

as a class, of a superior order to the almost extinct American caste referred to; but they will have to rise with the rise of Polynesia, or seek some other ‘islands at the gateways of the day.' Face to face with an organisation having a higher end than mere money-making, and backed by the imperial power of Britain, the vast majority of the beachcombers would, I feel convinced, accept the situation, and serve themselves and advance their nationality and

For most of these men are of British stock, some of them with good yeomen's blood in their veins, but they could not be persuaded by any human inducement to return to the old world. One of them at Samoa used to say :

'Sir, I wouldn't go back to Britain now if you would give me a £1000 a year ;

and

yet that when I came here first, more than fifty years ago, I had a fashion of sitting on the stones by the seaside of a night, and crying to myself for the home and friends I should never see again. But I know better now, and have done this many a year.'

He related when Commodore Wilkes's exploring expedition visited the Navigators’ Isles he went on board the Porpoise, dressed in savage mats, and begged the captain to take him away.

'I don't want any men,' was the answer ; 'but what countryman are you

?' ' A Scotchman,' was the reply.

"Well, then,' replied the Yankee, 'I guess I pity you more than a little. I cannot take you away, but here's a sheath-knife and a plug of James River

I will say

[ocr errors]

Cavendish, of which I make you a present ;

had

you been an American, I would have had you tied up to the gangway and have given you a dozen with the cat-o'-nine-tails.)

The Scot did not understand what he could have been guilty of to deserve this punishment, and asked the American to explain. Because,' retorted the commander, 'had

you

been a citizen of the United States I should have counted you a disgrace to humanity for letting yourself run wild among a lot of scalping savages; but seeing you are a Britisher, and there is not room enough for you all in your over-crowded country, I pity you from the bottom of my soul—I dew.'

It is only just to say that many of these stray wanderers feel themselves the shame of being the fellow-countrymen of some of the trading rascals who have disgraced the Anglo-Saxon name in the Pacific. Speaking of the natives of the Gilbert or Kingsmill Group, Mr. Sterndale thus writes :

• Their wants are few and their minds easily satisfied, so that if brought under the influence of good example and wholesome restraint, they could in a very few years be rendered in a high degree subservient to the interests of that civilisation which it is the manifest destiny of the Anglo-Saxon colonists to extend to the uttermost isles of the sea. No people have suffered more from the worst examples than these unfortunate islanders. Drunkenness, licentiousness, piracy, and murder have been the lessons inculcated among them during the past thirty years by deserters from ships or

escaped convicts from Australia, to whom they extended the most generous hospitality. I have questioned old white men who had spent the best years of their lives among the Kingsmills, as to how they could have reconciled themselves to dwell among a people so debased. They have replied, “Ah, sir, you do not know these natives. When we came among them they were different altogether from what they are now;

and even now there is a deal of good in them

than strangers can understand.”' I have already stated, as clearly as I can, my views on the great majority of Pacific missionaries. How. ever much I may as an individual differ from them on many subjects, I gladly place on record that, to my mind, much of the disgrace implied by the preceding paragraph is nobly redeemed by Englishmen, who, to their honour, teach a better gospel than murder and theft. Let my next sentence show how these zealous Protestant ministers are carefully obstructed by their brothers in the faith. About the year 1868, the missionary vessel Morning Star came to Apemama (Simpson Island), in the Kingsmill Group. She was boarded by a pilot, and directed to put her anchor down three miles from the village. Some of the missionaries wished to go ashore in the pilot-boat or their own ; the pilot had great trouble to keep them back, telling them that it was as much as his own life was worth to allow them to land until the King's permission could be obtained. On his return, the King asked him :

• What sort of a ship is it ?'

• Missionary ship.'
* Have they anything to sell ?'
No.'
Not even tobacco ?'
No.
• Have they anything to give away ?"

Yes, books.'
"Ah! we have no need of them.'

These people, though they cannot read, know what books are about. The Morning Star was not allowed to approach any nearer, or the missionaries to come ashore, but a message was returned to them by the King to the following effect :

'I know nothing of missionaries, and I do not wish to know. If you are in need of anything my land produces, say what it is, and you shall be supplied ; but go, and return no more.'

He said afterwards that he had lied in saying he knew nothing of missionaries.

'I have been told,' said he,' very much about them by the captains with whom I trade. They have said to me, “ Be advised. If you let those missionaries come on shore upon your islands, in less than a year you will not be master over your own people. They will bewitch both you and them, and you will not be able to do anything, only just what they tell you.” They shall never come here as long as I live.'

These captains were worthy successors of Morgan of Tonga, of whom more anon, and would have been qualified to reply satisfactorily to the last test which the Messrs. Godeffroy were said to put to their employés.

There are extraordinary industries as well as extraordinary men in Coral Lands. A chapter is certainly due to bêche-de-mer.

« ForrigeFortsæt »