Thomas Prestwood Lucas.

Cries from Fiji and sighings from the South Seas. Crush out the British slave trade. Being a review of the social, political, and religious relations of the Fijians online

. (page 1 of 9)
Online LibraryThomas Prestwood LucasCries from Fiji and sighings from the South Seas. Crush out the British slave trade. Being a review of the social, political, and religious relations of the Fijians → online text (page 1 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook




^^^ ^^^^

n ==s ^^^^1

n ~==^ ^^^^H




■-'■ tj






1 iiii












"Crush Out the British Slave Trade."

Being a Ret'iew of the Social, Political, and Religious

Relations of the Fijians ; a Consideration of the Policy

of the English Government; the Prosj^ects of

the White Settlers; the Labour Traffic; and

the Position and Duties of England to

the Islands of the Pacific.

Copiously illustrated with Facts and Anecdotes.




[BnferacJ at Stationers' Hall, London.^

E? :^ R A T ^ .

Page 'It) — Line 7, for ••neigh-,'" read neigh liour.

„ 26 — Line 15, for " do," read does.

,,' 62 — Line 4, for '• natives," read native.

,, 65 — Tliird line from bottom, after " lier?" read, Or like
the children of tender years, who, enticed
by sweetmeats or lollies, leave home to
accompany the beggar gipsy woman.

,, 82 — Last line, read " At all."

., 84 — Sixth line from bottom, for "She." rend The.








Crush out the British Slave Trade.

As the traveller journeys among the English-speaking
populations of the world, he finds acknowledged on all
sides this one fact, that the human family is fallen, and
depraved by nature.

Among those nominally Christian, there are heralded
two gospels of restoration.

The gospel of Christianity.

The gospel of Civilization.

The gospel of Christianity proclaims two command-
ments, and promises an eternal Eden.

The first, " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all
thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and
with all thy strength.'*



The second, " Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.'

The gospel of Cirilization enunciates two dogmas, and
hopes for heaven at last.

The first, " Do your duty in the position in ■which God
has called you, and forget not to return thanks to your

The second, " Unto others do as you would they should
do to you."

The latter gospel is a modified rendering of the former,
and is essentially a creed of expediency, but in practice
allows its devotees a wide latitude. Every man may do
what seemeth right in his own eyes, provided he keep up
an appearance of civilized respectability.

Christianity demands a complete surrender of the whole
manhood in sacrifice to the Deity ; the heart or affections ;
the mind or intelligence ; the soul or life energies, both
spiritual and physical ; and the strength or utmost powers
of all the capacities.

Civilization advises a respectable allegiance to the
Divine, necessitating no self denial, but such as may stamp
the man as a respectable citizen,

Christianity demands a perfect morality. Man is to
love or regard, and treat liis fellow-man, as himself, as far
as duty and official responsibilities dictate. The precept
is equally strict with man as with woman.

Civilization grants a large degree of licentiousness to
man, provided he keep up a certain amount of out-
ward respectability. For the sake of decency he must
not go too far, or if he err, he must recompense to


a degree, so as to suppress the public appeals for
redress, those whom he may wrong. But a stricter
law is laid down for woman. And too often under
this code, man, the wrong-doer, retains his position in
society, his foremost seat in the social circle, and his mead
of praise in the public life ; while woman, the wronged, is
condemned in obloquy and shame to despair and destruc-

The gospel of Christianity prescribes commercial inter-
course, but with clean hands, righteous dealings, just
weights, fair prices, reasonable profits.

The gospel of Civilization also prescribes commercial
intercourse, but allows clever trickery, sharp jobbery, smart
dealings, poor articles, adulterated wares, only providing that
the dealings must be covered by the cloak of respectability*

The animal nature of man, being essentially selfish, when
refined and polished by education, inclines him to the
dogmas of Civilization.

The spiritual nature should lead him upwards. But it
is so subjected to the animal and selfish, that too often it
degenerates downwards.

And so in life, we see three experiences. The animal
nature, without education and knowledge, tends to sink
man lower and lower — morally, socially, and intellectually.

The gospel of Civilization by education and refinement,
seeks to buoy man on the surface of moral depravity, and
to raise him socially and intellectually, to an atmosphere of

The gospel of Christianity seeks to raise him spiritually


and iiatelleotually to a conception of the highest virtues
and to the enjoyment of the purest vitality.

Thus while the spiritual sighs upwards, and the animal
gropes downwards, there is necessitated in the breast of
every man a mighty struggle. And it is only by super-
human aid that the spiritual can rise triumphant, keep the
animal in subjection, and advance daily by watchfulness and
devotion, in intelligence, experience and refined purity. It
is a struggle, a continuous, life-lasting struggle, and one
leading the very best men over many falls and stumbles.

Since then purity and righteousness of so high a type
are commanded as the acme of human aspirations and
intelligence, and since those most highly favoured and
most carefully nursed, inculcated and trained in the spirit
and teachings of these gifts and graces, have so often failed,
or come so vastly short, how shall we judge the heathen, or
the wild man just issuing from the stone to the iron age ?
And the difficulty is increased, when we remember that
opinions must vary, even as the higher or lower platforms
from whence the judges view the moral and social land-
scape. And the different views held upon these matters
would cause the several adherents to apply different
remedies for the raising the depraved wild man of the South
Seas. And so we found was practically the case in Fiji.
On the one hand we learned that the Wesleyan missionaries
had sought to raise the Viti man by heralding to him the
gospel of Christianity ; whereas, on the other hand, we
learned that the English Government, and the white popula-
tion largely, believed in bringing to bear upon the Fijian,


only the gospel of Civilization.

It did not require a long period or a yery close investi-
gation to discover that the advocates for the refining
influences of civilization were inimical to the heralders of
the gospel of Christianity. These self-denying men were
almost universally blamed for all the ills and woes which
had overtaken both black man and white in Viti-land,
Although official documents are so often favourable, and
although Sir H. Robinson acknowledged tiaat it was
through the peaceful conquest of the native races by this
agency that Fiji was at length a Crown Colony, yet high
officials too often privately sneer and pronounce Missions
largely to be a failure. It is the old example of kicking
away the ladder by which they climbed. The missionaries
were maligned as having large salaries, and as having
bought up land for little or nothing. I took special trouble
in official quarters to test these questions, and found that
the salaries received are lower than those of a carpenter,
boatbuilder, or other mechanic of second class ability. I
found that of forty-five missionaries, who had spent more
or less of their best days in the islands, only three had
bought land for their children. And surely, after these
philanthropists had given their life energies and denied
themselves the comforts of civilized society, not holding
their lives dear to them, so as to tame these savages, it
would have been a very small return to have received some
land on which to settle their children. Yet such was the
determined disinterested self-denial of these men, that only
three accepted a small portion, and after long service.


It was further given out in official quarters that the
Capital was removed from Levuka to Suva because the
Wesleyans refused the Government a piece of land, ex-
cepting at an outrageous price. Now, in Levuka, a large
piece of the land belongs to the Mission. Sir Arthur
Gordon was offered the piece of land in question at his own
figure, or another piece as a present, the Mission Com-
mittee of Management feeling that the acceptance of such
would increase the value of their other property. Sir
Arthur refused the land, having previously determined to
remove to Suva, a place with more accommodation, but as
unhealthy a spot as he could very well have selected, and
with a rainfall of 110 inches per annum. He wrote and
denied that the mission was in any way the cause of the
removing the Capital, but to this day officials repeat to the
visitor the now stale calumny.

The planters and white settlers generally do not speak
evil of the missionaries personally. In fact in early times
the mission house was the place of refuge and safety
against the warring or cannibal savages, and to-day very
many are still houses of hospitality. But they are jealous
of the mission. The natives will work for them with a
willing service, but only grudgingly and for good wages
for the whites. The missionary exerts more power and has
more influence than the whites. But even here there is no
ground for envy, as the missionaries simply have worked
and continue to work [disinterestedly for the well-being of
the natives. And it is only natural that the natives should
acknowledge, with some respect and affection, those to


whom they owe so much. While we can hardly wonder
that they are distant and mistrusting to the whites, as a
whole, seeing how often they have been previously bitten.
The whites moreover blame the missions for raising the
black man enough to make him troublesome and indepen-
dent. But, after all, this raising is the result of a civilizing
and not a Christianizing influence.

On the whole we found in Fiji, as in other young
colonies, much civil and social unrest. The planters had
misunderstandings with the sugar companies. The blacks
were dissatisfied with the whites, jealous of the importation
of Indian coolies, and other ways disaffected. While all
classes were more or less dissatisfied with the policy, red-
tapeism, and general actions of the Government.

On landing in Fiji, a number of natives came on board
the ship and sought to be employed in carrying our luggage.
One fine-looking, good-tempered, laughing Fijian obtained
my promise to allow him to carry my belongings as soon
as I could arrange as to lodgings, &c. By a mistake of
the ship's officer, my box was brought up from the hold
and sent to the Custom's House. I had to go for it as I
wished to stow away in it packages which were loose in my
cabin. My engaged native accompanied me. When I got
to the Custom's House and explained the situation of
affairs, a mere youth half screamed out in tones of authority
and dignified pompousness, "Now then, how much tobacco
have you in there ?" I quietly answered that as I was
neither a smoker nor a trader that I had none. " Now
then, open the box and turn out the things." My native


attendant stood by. " Get away, be off, get out of the
road," shouted the Custom's House official. The poor fellow
slunk off, but presently came near again. I explained that
I had agreed with him to carry my box. "But," answered
the official, " he is a lazy fellow and shall not be
encouraged." And with that he kicked the black man,
and effectually sent him away. After passing my belong-
ings through the Customs, I was directed to a verandahed
building where I could get a license to carry a gun. I
went up a flight of stairs, and when on the landing asked
another official where I could obtain a gun license. " Go
down these stairs, and up the next flight of stairs to the
door open on the verandah and at the other side of the
little gate. This part is private, the other is public." I
apologised as a stranger for coming up the wrong stairs,
but as I was close to the little gate, which was open, and
through which others were passing, I asked to be allowed
to go that way, so as to avoid the ascent unnecessarily of
another flight of stairs. With a growl he placed himself
in my way, and ordered me to go down the stairs, round to
the other side, and up the other stairs, and to come to
nearly the same point. Such were my first experiences of
English officialism on landing in Fiji.

My first interview was with the Government. " Our
policy," they stated, " is ijrotection for the native race. We
are obliged to protect them from the encroachments of the
white people. They look uj3on the black man as they do
upon a plough, as a something solely for their own use and
advantage. And they consider it a wrong not to be


allowed to force the black man to do their manual labour.
Thus we have to protect the natives, or they would die off.
Their government is patriarchal, so that the community is
dependent on each individual for its existence and pros-
perity. They are needed to till the ground, and to take
them from their villages would be to destroy the family life
and thus the maintaining and preservation of the race.
We do allow apportion to be employed, but under certain
restrictions and regulations, necessary, as we think, to pre-
vent undue advantage to be taken of them."

"But," I asked, "how about the labour question?"
The reply was — " This is nothing more nor less than a
slave trade. It is perfectly true that coast tribes kidnap
or in other ways obtain men from the inland tribes, and
that these are forced to go as recruits, or if they dare to
refuse, forfeit their lives for their temerity, the kidnappers
receiving the bounty money. And thus, not only are there
the evils of the particular kidnapping, but also the origin
of feuds and tribal wars. On the whole the whites treat
their labourers well, but many die soon after importation.
On these grounds we would discourage the labour traffic,
and have endeavoured to substitute Indian labour. And,
as far as tried, Indian (Coolie) labour has proved a

" But," I asked, "why are the whites so dissatisfied with
what only appears a philanthropic policy ?" " Because,"
they replied, " in many cases they have lost their all in
learning experience. They come down with a little money
and no experience, and so loose what little they have, and


hence they are dissatisfied with the country, the Govern-
ment, and with the blacks. Everything is wrong, and
everything and everybody is at fault excepting themselves.
They expect the natives to do their plantation work, and
because they refuse, they cannot speak badly enough."

" Are any Fijians," I asked, " working for the white
j)eople, and if so, how many ?"

" Yes," was the reply ; " out ©f a male adult popula-
tion of some 17,000, about six thousand are hired out to
work, thus only leaving a necessary quantum to do the
needed agricultural and village work,"

Tlie general drift of the conversation was the same,
jjainting the Government policy as the most philanthropic
philosophy, picturing the Government as persecuted and as
martyrs in a good cause, and chai'acterizing the whites as
a discontented, selfish, unrighteous conmiunity.

As may be imagined, our sympathies were drawn out
largely in favour of the Government, and we were strongly
prejudiced against the whites. But whatever our thoughts
we determined as yet to form no rash or hasty conclusions.
On the contrary, we determined to hear from all sides,
opinions, complaints, &c., and thus to endeavour to come
at the truth, and to form a common sense unbiassed

The outcome of our enquiries led to a severe judgment
on the policy of the Government. And where their policy
is at all of good intention, their actions show vast lacking
of brain power and political judgment ; for the good


out come is largely thwarted by absurd or mischievous
qualifying clauses.

Judged by the gospel of Christianity and in the light
of philosophy, it is righteous and proper to protect and to
seek to improve the native race. Judged by the gospel of
civilization, the sooner the weaker go to the wall, the
better !

In seeking to protect and preserve the native race, the
question arises, what are the wisest and best steps for
securing and carrying out such a line of policy ? What
are the characters and what the characteristic features in
the case, and what the protection needed so that these
natives should be saved in the race for life with the white

As stated by Government, the native governance is a
patriarchal one. From the earliest times, and doubtless
before their immigration to the Pacific islands, they lived
in obedience and servile bondage to chiefs. The rule of
these men became despotic and oftentimes tyrannical. A
chief appears to have held absolute and tyrannical power,
proportionately to his success in war. If fierce, cruel, war-
like and aggressively terrible to his foes, he obtained more
absolute sovereignty at home. His will was law. His
commands were absolute. The lives of his people were in
his hands. The daughters of the people were at his mercy
and caprice. A man like Thakombau on hearing of a petty
theft could order the thief at once to be clubbed ; on
hearing of his sister's adultery, he could at once direct that
her nose should be slit off ; on needing flesh for feast or


for visitors, he could pick from among the people, illegiti-
mate offspring, as victims for cannibalism. And under
such a regime, every man held his life in his hands, while
distrust, liatred, revenge and other allied evils kept the
people in a continuous unrest and fear. Such, under many
a potentate, was patriarchal government. The people
seemed cowed and awed. Traditions and laws held them
in crushing bonds. Superstition and a tyrannical patri-
archal government crushed them into complete submission.
A man ordered to be speared or clubbed would passively
submit to his fate ; a woman condemned to be strangled,
would unresistingly yield. Cruelty and abomination
marked the daily life of the potentate. Cringing sub-
mission and fawning flattery that of the subject. False-
hood was looked upon as a necessity. Family life was no
longer sacred. The communion was largely a communism,
but under a governing and owning master. The personal
goods and property and lives of the people were largely at
the beck and call of the chieftain. Goods were few and
held in common. Any one could beg whatever he or she
fancied from a fellow, and to refuse the gift was dis-
courteous, offensive, and in certain cases even criminal.
Property was inherited, but landed property was held in
little value, excepting as tribal. The chief or even lesser
chiefs could demand personal services at call. Life, as
stated before, depended on the will or whims of such poten-
tates, and was ever at stake through social differences or
through individual, family, or tribal quarrels. Marriage
was merely an agreement, and could easily be broken at


any moment by mutual consent, and at times the wife
would be appropriated by the chief, the husband considering
the same as an honor conferred upon liim. Thus the
common people had no object in life, beyond the merely
animal. Eating, drinking and sleeping appeared to be
their only end and aim. And of this their food was mostly
simple, and was portioned out on the communal system, all
sharing according to rank ; their sleep was taken under the
protection of warlike weapons, and ever in terrible uncer-
tainty. Such was absolute, tyrannical, patriarchal govern-
ment. And frightful were the crimes, and fearful to
contemplate the condition of these people under such a

In certain cases, and to a greater degree in former times,
the people, through enterprising leaders or because their
chiefs were less successful or less enterprising in warlike
aggressions, obtained a controlling hand. Under these
circumstances, the chief had to listen to one or more
counsellors. And if his rule became too biting, his subjects
could leave him, and migrate to another ruler, or a blood
relation, instigated by the tribe or clan, would club the man
and so end his tyranny. The assassin would then reign in
his victim's stead. But even under such modified govern-
ment, the rule was always despotic, and though prevented
from going to such great lengths, yet the lives and persons
of individuals were never safe, and all the evils connected
with this form of slavery were in arrogant reign. Slavery !
yes, slavery. The patriarchal system of government is always
a more or less mitigat«d form of slavery. The communism


destroys individual rights of property. The patriarch or
chief is the real and only man of independence and means.
The properties of his subjects are a mere nothing, and
are at their master's caprice. Their persons are at his
service, either for aggression or for social or other service.
His fiat is law. Individual liberty is restricted and freedom
is lost. All the interests are communal, and the whole
communism is at the mercy of the whims and temper of
the lord and father. Individual effort, individual ambition,
individual energy is lost in the one body of which this man is
the head. The patriarch or chief has to care for his subjects
or tribe ; but this care is more often only a selfisli one. A
taking care to procure absolute necessities demanded to his
retaining the number and wealth of followers. And it is
simply a directing the individual efforts, to the one con-
serving for the whole, and that whole for the aggrandise-
ment and power of the head. To make matters worse
and the slavery a greater bondage, the patriarch or chief
has to rely for aid on a number of iDersonages, who are
advanced to certain positions or rank, or who hold the same
as hereditary. These, while oppressing the people generally
for their chief's demands and dues, never neglect to oppress
and to cajole for their own selfish objects and aims. And
thus it is that whereas the tyranny of one despot might be
bearable, balanced as it must largely be, in his own safety
and interests, that of underlings becomes infinitely more
severe and crushing, the oppression bearing relative pro-
portion to the aims and ambitions of such in power. In
fact, it is impossible to imagine a patriarchal government,


heathen or even civilized, excepting as a communal
bondage and personal slavery. Perhaps the most righteous
patriarchal governance was that of Abraham. Yet under
it, the land was his, the cattle and camels and sheep were
absolutely his own ; tlie servants were his ; the whole com-
munity had to follow him to war. In this example of
patriarchal governance, we see the outcome of the system
under a righteous man. And in it we see the destruction
of individual liberties and ambitions, to the securing the
one end, the aggrandisement and power of Abraham and
liis heirs for ever. And whereas this dis})ensation might
have had its advantages in the early ages of the world, and
while men's minds and experiences were young, yet as the
descendents of Abraham increased in numbers and in know-
ledge and experience, they threw off the patriarchal com-
munism, fostered the family life, recognised the individual
manhood, and assigned to each their righteous standing and
importance. And tlms tliey became a nation, an impossibility
under patriarclial rule, which is distinctively tribal and
autocratic. The patriarclial rule is such that it is necess-
arily too limited in its area and influence to become
national. And as the history of the past has ever proved,
peoples have only become nations as they have discarded
the tribal and patriarchal, and by conquest and alliances
increased in numlier and influence under a mouarcliy or
republican government.

In a word, a nation becomes great and influential in pro-
jiortion to the sum total nf the wealth, power and influences
of its individual mcndjers. A tribe under })atriarc]ial rule


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryThomas Prestwood LucasCries from Fiji and sighings from the South Seas. Crush out the British slave trade. Being a review of the social, political, and religious relations of the Fijians → online text (page 1 of 9)