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necessity of interference with the system—if system it can be called—under which this traffic had been conducted. the 26th of December, a despatch from Lord Canterbury was received at the Colonial Office, conveying the melancholy intelligence of the murder by natives of the Bishop of Melanesia (Bishop Patteson) and some of his companions. The undoubted cause of this murder was briefly stated in a paragraph of the Melbourne Argus' of November the 7th, to have been that the schooner's crew believe the murders ' were committed in revenge for recent outrages by slavers, • several of which were about the island.' This is not the place for either a biographical sketch or a panegyric, however well-deserved, upon the lamented Bishop; and yet it is impossible to make mention of his name without allusion to his great and eminent services in the cause of Christianity. From the year 1856, in which the Rev. John Coleridge Patteson went out to New Zealand with Bishop Selwyn, his life was one of entire self-denial and steadfast devotion to missionary work. He laboured incessantly for and amongst the native population of the islands of the Pacific, he was thoroughly familiar with as many as sixteen or seventeen of the different languages spoken by them, and his visits were everywhere hailed with acclamation and productive of the best possible effect upon those on whose behalf they were undertaken. But the very influence and popularity of the Bishop were employed by the kidnappers in the furtherance of their nefarious projects. We learn from the papers presented to Parliament that their almost invariable practice, in order to decoy the unsuspecting natives on board their ships, was to declare that * the Bishop was on board,' and on more than one occasion persons dressed in surplices paraded the deck of the slavetrading vessel in order the better to lull suspicion and entrap the intended victims. The success of these perfidious attempts could not fail to excite among the natives distrust and suspicion of the white man, and, unfortunately, this distrust and suspicion were followed by their natural results in murders perpetrated by way of retaliation. One of the articles of the creed of these ignorant people is the infliction of revenge for an injury committed, to be wreaked upon the family, nation, or race of the aggressor. No matter that, as in the case of Bishop Patteson, the victim had no cognisance of the offence, and would have been the first to protest against it; he was of the same race and colour as those who had wantonly inflicted injuries upon the islanders by kidnapping their friends and relatives, and, according to their inexorable law, his life
was forfeit. It would seem, indeed, that the Bishop had some foreboding of his fate, or, at all events, that he contemplated the probability - nay the certainty — that outrages such as had been committed in so many instances by the kidnappers would inevitably bring vengeance upon the heads of white men visiting the islands. In a memorandum to be laid before the Church Synod in New Zealand, bearing date January 11, 1871, Bishop Patteson makes use of these prophetic words :
• In conclusion, I desire to protest, by anticipation, against any punishment being inflicted upon natives of these islands, who may cut off vessels or kill boats' crews, until it is clearly shown that these acts are not done in the way of retribution for outrages first committed by white men. Only a few days ago, a report reached me that a boat's crew had been killed at Esperito Santo. Nothing is more likely. I expect to hear of such things. It is the white man's fault, and it is unjust to punish the coloured man for doing, what, under such circumstances, he may naturally be expected to do.'
In this memorandum, as in a former letter to Sir G. Bowen, dated July 4, 1870, the Bishop had enforced the necessity of legislation upon this subject. It is worthy of note that his views were not those of the worthy but somewhat impetuous gentlemen who have all along clamoured for the entire abolition of the labour-traffic. In the letter alluded to Bishop Patteson remarks: 'I do not advocate the suppression, but * the regulation, of this traffic;' and in the memorandum from which we have already quoted, he says : Imperial legislation * is required to put an end to this state of things; stringent * regulations ought to be made, and enforced by heavy penal
ties, as to the size and fittings of vessels licensed to convey 'natives to and from the South Sea Islands and Queensland ‘ and Fiji. Two small men-of-war ought to cruise constantly ' in the islands, and especially in the neighbourhood of
Queensland and Fiji, to intercept vessels bringing natives • to those parts, and to examine into the observance or non• observance of the regulations. It will thus be seen that Bishop Patteson was alive to the necessity of action being taken by the Imperial Parliament, and anticipated evil and bloodshed from the lawless behaviour of the slave-traders, unless such action should be speedily taken. Alas, that his anticipations should have been so sadly realised, and that in his own person his prophecies of evil should have been fulfilled! The murder of a Bishop who had won universal esteem from all those with whom he had been thrown in contact, occurring at a moment when the public mind had been agi
tated by recent disclosures concerning the atrocities committed in connexion with the labour-traffic, naturally increased that agitation in no trifling degree. Meetings upon the subject were held both in London and in the Australasian Colonies, and resolutions were forwarded to Her Majesty's Government calling upon them to introduce such legislation in the Imperial Parliament as might put an end to those practices which had led to the murder of the Bishop and which could but be productive of still further disasters unless promptly checked with a strong hand. Under these circumstances it was a matter of no surprise that the gracious • speech from the throne,' delivered upon the 6th of February in the present year, contained the following paragraph :
The slave-trade, and practices scarcely to be distinguished from slave-trading, still pursued in more than one quarter of the world, continue to attract the attention of my Government. In the South Sea Islands the name of the British Empire is even now dishonoured by the connexion of some of my subjects with these nefarious praetices; and in one of them the murder of an exemplary Prelate has cast fresh light upon some of their baleful consequences. A Bill will be presented to you for the purpose of facilitating the trial of offences of this class in Australasia; and endeavours will be made to increase, in other forms, the means of counteraction.'
In accordance with the intention thus announced, a Bill * for the prevention and punishment of criminal outrages upon
natives of the Islands in the Pacific Ocean' was early in the session introduced in the House of Commons by the UnderSecretary of the Colonies, and, with the addition of certain amendments by which its stringency was increased, was safely carried through both Houses of Parliament and duly passed into law. It is not our purpose to enter here into further details of the outrages alleged, and to a greater or less degree proved, against which this legislation has been directed.
It cannot, unfortunately, be denied that these crimes have been great and scandalous, and moreover that the implication in them of British subjects has been established beyond doubt. It is but just, therefore, to remark that an impartial perusal of the papers upon the subject presented to Parliament will show to any candid inquirer that the Government of Queensland has cleared itself from any blame in the matter. Individual instances of hardship there may have been, an occasional lack of vigilance, and possibly a want of caution in the difficult task of making the imported natives understand the conditions upon which they were asked to leave their homes. But the evidence establishes beyond all reasonable doubt that the
Government of Queensland, recognising the necessity of the employment of native labour within the colony, and of the consequent importation of South Sea Islanders, has fairly and honestly endeavoured to regulate that importation, and has shown itself ready and anxious to conform to any suggestions made by Her Majesty's Government with a view to the greater security and protection of the imported natives. There are doubtless many persons in this country whose indignation at the crimes committed (no matter by whom or in what particular locality), and whose horror of the very name of slavery, would induce them to suppress this • labour-traffic,' even in Queensland, once and for all; nor indeed have such views been without their supporters in the colony itself, where humanity has perhaps been occasionally inflamed by a certain jealousy of the (cheaper) native labour on the part of the white workmen. If, however, the abuses of the traffic can be otherwise checked, its total suppression would inflict a needless injury upon the colony. Inasmuch as the natives of the South Sea Islands are able to perform without distress, in the cotton and sugar plantations, work which cannot be performed by Europeans, à demand for native labour has naturally sprung up in Queensland, and increased simultaneously with the increase of sugar and cotton cultivation. In Lord Normanby's despatch of October 19, 1871, he states that he had visited various plantations, and had spoken to the Polynesian labourers with the view of ascertaining their feelings and condition. He says:
In no case could I make out that they made any complaints as to their treatment in Queensland, or as to the mode in which they were brought here. Many of them had been sent back to their own islands, after having served their time, and had again enlisted for a second period; whilst others expressed their intention of returning again as soon as they had visited their homes. They all seemed happy and contented, and are intelligent and quick in learning their work. Their masters uniformly spoke most favourably of their conduct, and assured me that they gave them no trouble whatever. They appear to be well supplied with food, and though, I must confess, that the amount of clothes that they wear is often somewhat scanty, this is caused, not from any want of clothes, which are supplied by the masters, but in consequence of the disinclination of the men themselves to wear them.'
After this evidence in favour of the good treatment and contented condition of the imported natives in Queensland, Lord Normanby, adducing as an additional proof the number of those natives who had returned a second time to the colony, informs Lord Kimberley of his determination to keep
a vigilant watch over the matter,' and prevent any injustice or irregularity. The concluding words of this despatch are worth quoting as evidencing the importance to Queensland of native labour:
· The question is one of vital importance, at any rate to the northern portion of this colony, as without a certain amount of black labour of some kind, I fear all the bright anticipations of future wealth and prosperity which are entertained must necessarily fall to the ground, and the whole of that large district must remain an uncultivated wilderness, only suitable for cattle-stations; as in that climate, I believe, that it is found quite impossible to grow sugar without the assistance of blacks, white men being unable to bear the heat in the fields; at the same time the employment of blacks, so far from diminishing the demand for white labour, positively creates it; as I found on each plantation a large proportion of white men (probably about one-third) engaged at very remunerative wages.'
Lord Normanby had already given the strongest assurances that the Government of Queensland, for the interests of the colony as well as from the higher motive of humanity, was ready' and anxious to do everything in their power to suppress any irregularities in this traffic, and in a subsequent despatch he touches upon the real difficulties of this question. Writing upon November 24, 1871, he mentions his visit to the · Ly• thona,' which had arrived at Brisbane with Polynesians, and his conversation with Mr. Gadsden, the Government agent on board, who had informed him that they had experienced no
difficulty in obtaining the men they had on board, as they • all camě most willingly, and that many of them even swam off to the vessel for the purpose of engaging themselves. '
He at the same time, however (continues Lord Normanby), told me that there could be no doubt that a system of kidnapping was being carried on among the islands, not by Queensland, but by Fiji vessels. From the conversation I had with Mr. Gadsden, and from other circumstances which have come to my knowledge of late, I think that there can be no doubt that the state of things among the islands is at present very bad, and that gross atrocities are being committed against the natives. At the same time I have every reason for hoping that the vessels belonging to this colony are in no way implicated. Every precaution is taken, not only by placing an agent on board each vessel, but also by strict investigation on her arrival in port, and I feel sure that not only my Government but the employers of labour themselves would be most anxious to check any irregularities and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Your Lordship will, however, see that this colony has no power of interfering with the evil practices of the Fiji vessels, and that it is only by Her Majesty's Government stationing cruisers in those seas that these depredations can be put a stop to. I believe, however, that the presence of Her Majesty's cruisers