THE EARL OF BELMORE
moved that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for, Copies or extracts of any communications of importance respecting outrages committed upon natives of the South Sea Islands which may have been received from the Governors of any of the Australasian Colonies, from the Senior Naval Officers commanding in Australia and China, or from Her Majesty's Consuls in the Pacific since the last issue of papers upon this subject. Last Session he drew attention to two species of abominable crimes perpetrated in the South Sea on the natives of the Islands. The first was carried on under the name of "skull hunting," and the second under that of "kidnapping." In consequence of representations which had been made to him on the subject, shortly before he left Australia he made inquiries as to the practice of skull hunting. He found in some quarters that persons refused to believe in its existence; but the result of the inquiries showed that they were mistaken, and from what he had lately seen in the Australian press there seemed to be no doubt now of the existence of this barbarous practice. It was said that the whites did not take an actual part in it; but they hired ships to "the warriors," who carried on the practice as what they called a species of warfare. On the occasion in last Session to which he had already referred, he called their Lordships' attention to the proceedings of a person named Hayes, who was captain of a ship the name of which he did not now remember (the Water Lily), and also to several cases of kidnapping. Their Lordships had, no doubt, lately read in The Times an account of a horrible massacre which was committed on board the 186 Karl, which was owned by a Dr. Murray, who had been medical officer to the municipality of Sandhurst, in Victoria, a town which even in this country would be one of considerable importance, and who must therefore have been a man of social position and of considerable medical eminence. Having read extracts from The Times respecting the Karl's proceedings, the noble Earl stated that this was the account given by Dr. Murray, who had been allowed to turn Queen's evidence, and, of course, it was as favourable as possible to himself. Other people, however, gave a somewhat different account, as would be seen by the following extract from a letter addressed to The Australasian newspaper, by a Dr. Mount, resident in Victoria, and whose son had been on board the Karl. Dr. Mount quotes from a letter from his son, as follows. He says—On that frightful night of the fight, towards morning I stood over the main hatch, and protested in the presence of the crew against Dr. Murray's order to fire down on the natives in the hold, as long as they desisted from attacking us, and urged that they should be permitted to cool down. But no; Murray's orders to the crew were, to kill, shoot, exterminate them,' My son then, seeing that remonstrance was useless, says that he threw down his revolver,' telling them that the ship was safe, and he would have nothing to do with the bloody work. Then Murray had the poor wretches fired into again, indiscriminately, down in the darkness of the hold, where hostile tribes having been packed together were already murdering each other. 'Furthermore,' adds my son, 'he ordered all the wounded to be thrown overboard.' Repentant Dr. Murray!The captain and one of the crew of that vessel had been found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. It was reported that the Government of New South Wales had commuted the sentences to one of imprisonment for life. He (the Earl of Belmore) had no doubt that the Governor of New South Wales had some good reason for the commutation; but he must say that he feared that unless a striking example were made, kidnapping would not be put down. During the progress through their Lordships' House of the Kidnapping Bill passed last year, he pointed out that the licenses to be granted under it would be misunderstood. They were regulation licenses; but he thought they afforded no real protection against the kidnapping; they were unnecessary, as the labour trade, if properly carried on, was not unlawful, 187 as was clearly laid down by Sir Alfred Stephen, the eminent Chief Justice of New South Wales, while they might appear to render this country responsible for practices committed under cover of them. Their Lordships had seen in The Times a letter of Mr. March, our Consul, copied from the Melbourne Argus, with reference to proceedings in the Fiji Islands. Mr. March says—Another native, a girl named Kate, to whom I will refer by-and-by, was abducted from the Consulate.…. No doubt the planters who are at present enjoying the services of these kidnapped people would object to be deprived of them; but I am of opinion that the inconveniences of the case should be settled between the parties who had dealings. At all events, bearing in mind that these savages were wrongfully imported, such considerations should not be allowed to weigh against their return. If our Government should be induced to detach a ship of war for the purpose of taking these natives to their homes, it would have a most splendid effect.After describing the abduction of "Kate," he continues—Of course, I reported these facts to the Fijian Chief Secretary. He told me that no doubt the police thought it a good joke to have a native kidnapped from the Consulate, but he would see into the matter. After the lapse of some weeks, I brought matters to an issue, and Mr. Thurston (the Minister for Native Affairs) then told me that if I wished to get the girl back I should have to lay a criminal information, or some such rubbish. The farce of an inquiry was gone through. I gave my evidence, and followed up my statements by producing witnesses, but I have never so much as been acquainted with the result, although I have learnt from a private source that my case had been fully established.When last Session he called attention to the question of the definite recognition of the Fiji Government, his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies said that recognition would very much depend on the steps taken by the Fijian Government to put down those outrages. He would be glad to know what were the present views of Her Majesty's Government upon this subject. He believed Her Majesty's ships were doing all that they possibly could to put them down; but he complained that active steps were not taken sooner after the trials in the cases of the Young Australian and Daphné. He would conclude by moving for the Papers of which he had given Notice.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
I have no objection whatever to the production of the Papers asked for by my noble Friend, and I am glad that the state- 188 ment he has made gives me an opportunity of informing your Lordships of what has been done in this matter since last Session. Your Lordships may remember that last Session, at the time of the passing of what is known as the "Kidnapping Act," Her Majesty's Government promised that the squadron in the Australian seas should be increased, and that active measures should be taken against persons engaged in this kidnapping trade. I am glad to inform your Lordships that that promise has been vigorously carried out, that active measures have been taken, and that nearly the whole of the islands in the Pacific Ocean have been visited by Her Majesty's ships, inquiries made by the officers, and steps taken to suppress the practice. I think it desirable that I should read some extracts from the reports of the naval officers engaged in this service, as they will give you a better idea of the actual state of things than would be conveyed by anything I could say on the subject. My noble Friend (the Earl of Belmore) alluded to Captain Hayes, the master of a ship called the Water Lily. He is the most notorious man in those seas. There can be no doubt that he was one of the principal actors in the outrages that have been committed. His ship the Water Lily sometimes went by other names. Most careful inquiries have been made for him in the islands; but though the naval officers were often very near him and heard a great deal of his doings near the scenes of his action, they never succeeded in catching him. Every endeavour will, however, be made to effect his capture. The first ships employed in cruising over those waters were the Barrosa and the Basilisk, and detailed reports have been sent in by their commanders. The following is an extract of a report from Captain Moore, of the Barrosa, dated July 25, 1872. Writing with reference to proceedings on Knox Island, one of the Mulgrave Group, he states—These natives were kidnapped in this way:—Canoes went off with fruit, cocoanuts, &c., for which a high price was given; this brought more natives off to the ship, and when a good many were on board, they were seized and put below; one old man escaped the last time by jumping overboard. They did not know what vessels they were, where they came from, or where bound. They also informed me Hayes threatened to seize the King and flog him if he 189 did not bring him oil and cocoanuts, and Hayes's mate, Pittman, took the King's daughter away by force, and still had her in his possession.In the following extract from the same Report, the Marshall Islands, north of the Equator, appeared to be more specially referred to; but the statement also includes the Gilbert Group, which lie on either side of the Equator—The kidnappers come to the Northern Islands mostly for women, who are much better looking than the women of the more southern groups; they fetch at the Fiji Islands £20 a head, and are much more profitable to the slavers than the men.With reference to statements made at Ebon Island, Captain Moore's Report contains this passage—Mr. Capelle, Captain Milne, and the missionaries residing here are unanimous in stating that many of the islands are quite depopulated, and others fast becoming so, by the kidnapping, and that the remaining natives are so exasperated that in revenge they have murdered several ships' crews lately, more especially in the southern parts of the Gilbert groups, and round about the Solomon, Ellice, Santa Cruz, and other adjacent islands, although formerly the natives of these groups were very friendly to Europeans. A shipwrecked crew would stand but little chance of their lives on many of the islands; they would be massacred without mercy, owing entirely to the outrages committed by these slavers, and from the natives not knowing how to distinguish friends from foes.The last extract which I shall read from Captain Moore's Report has reference to the group of which Clarke's Island, called Francis Island on the chart, is the principal island. This small group belongs to the large group of Gilbert Islands—An Englishman informed me kidnappers have been here three times during that period. The last visit was about two years ago, when a Melbourne bark took 60 natives away; all the natives who attempted to escape overboard were shot down, and he had himself picked up the bodies of two natives killed in this way.Captain Moresby, of the Basilisk, made a Report, dated 12th September, 1872; and in reference to the Mitchell Islands, Ellice Group, he says—A few months before Peter Laban's return three Spanish barks of a considerable size called off the island, and an old man came ashore who spoke the Polynesian tongue, and, calling the islanders together, told them the ships outside the reefs were missionary ships, and that the missionaries wished all the men of the island to come on board and receive the Sacrament. On this all the able men manned their canoes and went on board, where they were immediately secured. The ships' boats then came on shore, and the women and children were told their husbands had sent for them. Thus they were 190 also induced to go on board; they were likewise secured, and then these accursed kidnappers bore away, it is supposed, for the Chincha Islands, with their prisoners. Two of the young men jumped overboard and swain back to their island. One of these I saw. Not one word has ever since been heard of the fate of those thus kidnapped. A native who could speak broken English corroborates, in every particular, the above story.… Since that time no kidnapping vessels have visited the Mitchell Islands.Referring to the Tunafuti Island, Ellice Group, Captain Moresby states—About eight years since a Spanish or Peruvian bark called at the island, pretending they were a missionary vessel, and induced about 250 of the natives to go on board. Having secured these unfortunate creatures the hark proceeded to Callao; not one of these taken has since been heard of.… All goes to prove the great raid made by the Spanish ships eight years ago, and since that period no kidnapping, except the six men before referred to, of any consequence has occurred among the islands of the Ellice Group.The last extract I shall read to your Lordships is from the same Report, and alludes to Vanua Lava, Port Patteson, belonging either to the Banks Islands or New Hebrides, which groups lie contiguous to each other—While at anchor in Port Patteson the Southern Cross, with the Rev. H. Codrington and other members of the Melanesian Mission on board, arrived from the Salmon Islands. From these gentlemen I learnt that they had not fallen in with any kidnapping or labour vessels, nor even heard of any searching among the Solomon Group this year. They accounted for this unusual fact by supposing that the new Act of Parliament and the presence of men-of-war had frightened the labour vessels away.Your Lordships will see from those extracts that the action of Her Majesty's ships had already produced seine effect. Now with regard to the Karl, my noble Friend (the Earl of Belmore) will remember that the circumstances to which he has alluded occurred a considerable time before the passing of the Act under which the present form of licence was granted. I think myself there may be a question as to the advisability of issuing such licences as those under the Act, though they are entirely different from those issued before the passing of the Act. I may observe that the licences now given were not in the Bill when it was introduced originally. Your Lordships have no doubt read the accounts in the public papers of the doings of the Karl, and I believe there is no doubt that those accounts are substantially true. The master and one man were 191 sentenced to death, and four other persons to imprisonment for two years. A private telegram states that the capital sentence has been commuted; but we have no official notice of the commutation, and I cannot therefore state the grounds on which it was granted. As to Murray, he was the most atrocious criminal of them all; but he was not tried, because without the statements made by him it would have been impossible to convict the others, and on his becoming Queen's evidence our Consul gave him a pledge for his safety. Therefore, my Lords, however we may regret that he did not meet with the punishment he deserved, I think the Consul is in no way to blame. Nothing, I believe, can exceed the strength of feeling in the Australian Colonies on the subject of the Karl. The fact that she is a Melbourne vessel may have something to do with it; but I doubt not that there would have been quite as strong a disposition to see punishment inflicted on the offenders, even if she had belonged to any other place. There was the case of another vessel—the Nukalau—which had been traced to several islands, but there was not evidence to convict. This, I believe, was owing to the want of proper interpreters. Regard will be had to this in future in the case of all Her Majesty's ships employed in the suppression of this kidnapping. There are six of them already, and four more will be added to the squadron. I need not detail all the islands visited, nor the extent of ocean passed over by Her Majesty's ships; but on looking through the reports of the naval officers it seems to me, as a layman, that the proceedings have been exceedingly creditable to those engaged in. them, and that the inquiries have been conducted in a very judicious manner. I should mention that the captain of a vessel named the Challenger has been condemned to 12 months' imprisonment, and I see it reported in the newspapers that the squadron has captured three more vessels. The Act was passed only last Session, and as the distance is too great to allow of very rapid communication, we cannot say at present that it has had time to be fairly tried. The same remark applies to the Fiji Islands. We have not yet had time to learn the effect of the Act on the Fiji Islands traffic, nor what effect the strengthening our naval force has had in those parts. 192 As to the recognition of the Fiji Government, the question remains in the same position as before. We have acknowledged it as the de facto Government till we see what further steps it will take in regard to this traffic. I have no objection to the production of the Papers moved for by my noble Friend.
§ In reply to The Earl of LAUDERDALE,
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
said, we had no power under the Act to interfere on the high seas with ships of another Power. Some communications had passed between Her Majesty's Government and some foreign Governments, and an assurance of assistance had been received from the Government of the United States. No doubt, if it were found that the traffic was promoted by ships of another nation, a communication with the Government of that nation would become necessary.
§ Motion agreed to.
Copies or extracts of any communications of importance respecting outrages committed upon natives of the South Sea Islands which may have been received from the Governors of any of the Australasian Colonies, from the Senior Naval Officers commanding in Australia and China, or from Her Majesty's Consuls in the Pacific since the last issue of papers upon this subject.—(The Earl of Belmore.)