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your letter of the 9th instant, and its enclosures, rclat'ng to the proposed cession by the King of the Fiji Islands of bis territories to Great Britain, and statiug that Secretary Sir E. Bulwer Lytton would be glad, before coming to any decision on the subject, to have the opinion of my Lords on certain parts of the question which appear to have a naval bearing; 1 am commanded by their Lordships to enclose you a copy of a report from their hydrographer on the subject of the Fiji Islands, from which report it will be perceived that there are several reasons which, in their Lordships' opinion, would make it desirable to obtain possession of the islands.
Tha chart referred to by the hydrographer and the original papers forwarded in your letter are herewith transmitted.
I am, <fcc.
//. Merwale. Esq. H. CORKY.
(Inclosvre )—On the Fiji Inlands.
Admiralty, March 12, 1850.
I;» accordance with the Board Minute, to report upon the Colonial Office letter of the 9th instant, I have to state that:
The Fiji, or more properly the Viti group, in the south-western Pacific, consists of some 200 islands, islets, and rocks, lying between latitude 15J° and 19J° south, at about 1,900 miles N.E. of Sydney, and 1,200 miles north of Auckland, at the north end of New Zealand. The two largest islands may be some 300 miles in circumference, or each is about the size of Corsica; 6.5 of the islets are said to be inhabited, and the whole population of the group may be 200,000.
I propose to reply categorically to the queries contained in the Colonial Office letters
Q. 1. If the Fiji Lies be obtaiued, are all the available harbours obtained in that part of the Pacific?
A. 1. Certainly not all, but a great part of them. The Friendly or Tonga Islands, only 400 miles to the south-east, possess good harbours, as Tonga-tabii and Vavau. The Samoa or Navigation Lies, the same distance to the north-east, have good harbours, as Sangopango and Apia. Some of the Society Islands also may be available, but lying 1,800 miles to the eastward they may not be considered as within the limits named; none of the harbours, however, are superior to those of the Fiji Islands.
Q. 2. Do the natural harbours now existing require much, if any, artificial development for naval purposes? Whether such harbours are few or many?
A. 2. There are several roadsteads and harbours in the Fiji group, the principal of which is the extensive harbour of Levuka, on the eastern side of Ovalau; this harbr -ood holding ground,
[1862-63. mi.] G
is easy of access, and has every facility for the supply of fruit, vegetables, wood, and water.
Angau, on its western side, has a sheltered roadstead of large extent.
Totoga is surrounded by a coral reef, within which is a spacioua sheltered anchorage, with good holding ground and an entrance for ships.
All the above harbours have been thoroughly surveyed by order of the Admiralty, and plans of them on a large scale are available when required. These natural harbours will not require any artificial development for naval purposes.
3. There is nothing unusual in the tides and currents around the Fiji group: they depend chiefly on the prevailing winds; nor are they of sufficient strength to render the entrance into or egress from the harbours dangerous. There is no present necessity for buoys, beacons, or lights, but should trade greatly increase, or should mail steamers call by night, a light would become necessary.
4. The Fiji Islands lie nearly in the direct track from Panama to Sydney, as will be seen by the annexed chart of the Pacific Ocean, on which I have shown that track, as also one by calling at the Fijis, whence it appears that the steamer, if she touched at one of the Fiji isles for coal, would lengthen her voyage only about 320 miles, or one day's run out of 32 days, on a distance of 8,000 miles. In like manner it appears that on the voyago from Vancouver Island to Sydney, the touching at Fiji would lengthen the distance 420 miles in a voyage of 7,000 miles.
An intermediate station between Panama and Sydney will be most desirable, indeed if the proposed mail route is to be carried out it is indispensable; one of the Society Islands, as lying half way, would be a more convenient coaling station, but as they are under French protection it seems doubtful if one could be obtained.
The Consul at Fiji, in the enclosed papers, hints at the possibility of coal being found in one of the islands; if this should prove to be the case it would at once double their value as a station.
In the above statements I have confined myself to answering the questions in the Colonial Olfice letter, but on looking into the subject I have been much struck by the entire want by Great Britain of any advanced position in the Pacific Ocean. "We have valuable possessions on either side, as at Vancouver and Sydney, but not an islet or a rock in the 7,000 miles of ocean that separate them. The Panama and Sydney mail communication is likely to be established, yet we have no island on which to place a coaling station, and where we could insure fresh supplies. • * * * And it may hereafter be found very inconvenient that England should be shut out from any station in the Pacific, and that an enemy should have possession of Tonga-tabu, where there is a good harbour, within a few hundred milea of the track of our homeward-bound gold ships from Sydney and Melbourne. Neither forts nor batteries would be necessary to hold the ground, a single cruizing ship should suffice for all the wants of the islands; coral reefs and the hearty good-will of the natives would do the rest. I have, Ac.
JOHN "WASHINGTON, Hydrographer.
No. 4.—Mr. Merivale to Mr. Hammond. Sib, Downing Street, April 13, 1859.
SraE. Ltttojt has under his consideration the proposal made for the cession of the Fiji Islands to this country, and discussed in your letters of the 18th February, and 5th of March.
The question is one not hastily to be decided, as involving various considerations of importance and expense; but before proceeding farther in the matter, Sir E. Lytton would be glad to be informed whether, in Lord Malmesburv's opinion, supposing that on other grounds it is found to be desirable to accept the sovereignty of these islands, their occupation by us may not lead to embarrassment or complication with foreign Powers who have rights or claims in that part of the Pacific. I have, &c.
E. Hammond, Esq. H. MEBIVALE.
No. 5.—Mr. Hammond to Mr. Merivale. Sib, Foreign Office, April 13, 1859.
I Am directed by the Earl of Malmesbury to transmit to you herewith, to be laid before Secretary Sir Edward Lytton, a copy of a despatch from Mr. Pritchard, Her Majesty's Consul in the Fiji Islands, stating his views as to the mode in which those islands might be governed, if their cession should be accepted by Her Majesty's Government. I am, Ac.
H. Merivale, Esq. E. HAMMOND.
\(Inclosure.)—Mr. Pritchard to the Earl of Malmesbury. Mr Lord, London, March 28, 1859.
With reference to the plan of Government which my intercourse with the various tribes of Polynesia has induced me to deem most suitable for Fiji, and upon which subject your Lordship inquired on the occasion of the interview with which I was honoured on the 16th instant, I would respectfully submit the following remarks:
I should, however, premise that my observations are based on the supposition that the aboriginal population of Fiji is the class to whom legislation is, in the first instance, especially directed.
As this population becomes mix«d, and the foreign element more numerous, a more complex and comprehensive system than that which I now purpose, with your Lordship's permission, submitting to your notice, would necessarily be required and would naturally result.
To manage a Polynesian easily and successfully, it is necessary to gain a moral ascendancy over him; by such power he is influenced at will. To win his full confidence it is necessary to convince him that his individual good is sought to be promoted, and that one's motives are disinterested. Caution is requisite to guard him from thinking that the efforts for his advancement are selfish and dependent only upon a reciprocal advancement of interests.
It is to the moral power which our missionaries, whatever their creed or denomination, invariably attain over the islanders by their conciliatory teachings and uniformly disinterested conduct, that I attribute the unparalleled influence and deep-seated hold they possess throughout Polynesia.
Direct and ready access to some one in authority should be secured to every native, for the bare fact of stating his complaint and disburdening himself of his trouble, though there may be no immediate prospect of redress, at once relieves his mind. To allow a savage, or a semi-civilized native who has abandoned his heathenism to brood over wrongs, imaginary though they may be, is only to create a feeling of distrust, which in turn engenders a desire for revenge.
On the other hand, my Lord, the more quickly after conviction retributive punishment follows the commission of crime on the part of the native, the more salutary is the effect, and the more lasting the impression. Every Polynesian, per force of the barbarous training received from infancy, looks upon promptitude apart from the justice with which it may be accompanied as indicative of an irresistible power to punish or to protect, as the case may bo.
It is no difficult task to lead the Polynesian, while to drive him is sometimes an impossibility. By persuasive means he generally can be induced to follow wherever directed. But by peremptory and harsh measures, without taking the trouble to show him the propriety of your proceedings or the injustice of the act with which he stands charged, he becomes stubborn and sullen, and even while acknowledging his inferiority and impotence, he will not submit.
And the ill success commercially of the French establishments in Oceania originates, I think, in the fact that no attempt whatever is made either on the part of the civil power to conciliate by protecting the native tribes from the aggressions of the foreigner, or on the part of their missionaries effectually to induce the renunciation of heathenism, and the adoption of more civilizing practices. While advocating a policy which shall tolerate the general customs of the people, great discretion is necessary to discriminate between those customs whose observance might tend to retard the progress of the natives, and those which may be with propriety permitted.
"With these observations, then, I would respectfully submit to your Lordship that, should Her Majesty's Government accept the cession of Fiji, the only officers required for the governance of the country, under existing circumstances, are:
A Superintendent or Governor;
A Colonial Secretary, with the superintendence of commercial and financial affairs;
A Judicial Secretary, with the supervision of all legal proceedings.
Two steam gun-boats permanently stationed iu the group would be a competent force to control the whole of Fiji, and to repress the local troubles that may occasionally occur. The most fruitful source of these local troubles, I apprehend, to exist in the ancient feuds maintained by the families of some of the Chiefs. Such an establishment as this which I have now submitted to your Lordship can, I think, within a very limited period, be maintained by the present population, and if their resources are judiciously appropriated, a surplus revenue obtained.
The production of a large and continuous supply of cotton being the great commercial prospect for Fiji, I would submit the expediency of prizes on a graduated scale being awarded to those Chiefs whose clans or districts excel in the cultivation of cotton, and produce the largest quantities within stated periods. I limit the distribution of these prizes to the Chiefs, because the enjoyment of the produce of their labour will be appreciated as an incomparable boon by the people, and prove an irresistible incentive to their industry, while the prospect of these prizes would tend to attach the Chiefs to us as at once their rulers and the source of their wealth, and to implant a feeling of inseparable dependence, which it is well to promote as early as possible. Such prizes would also have a conciliatory tendency by compensating for the loss of the undisputed privilege the Chiefs at present enjoy, of absorbing the entire labour of their respective clans.
Though the simple establishment and the small force which I have ventured to submit to your Lordship may at first sight appear altogether so inconsiderable to govern and keep in peaceful subjection 200,000 people, still I have not the least hesitancy, my Lord, in adhering to my position, that the plan is quite feasible if the requisite knowledge and tact to manage the natives are possessed by those engaged in the enterprise.
Putting out of view the strategical importance of the group in case of war with any Naval Power, and the military measures which that would render necessary, I would lay down as the principal