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A Footnote to History by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Transcribed from the 1912 Swanston edition by David Price, email



An affair which might be deemed worthy of a note of a few lines in
any general history has been here expanded to the size of a volume
or large pamphlet. The smallness of the scale, and the singularity
of the manners and events and many of the characters, considered,
it is hoped that, in spite of its outlandish subject, the sketch
may find readers. It has been a task of difficulty. Speed was
essential, or it might come too late to be of any service to a
distracted country. Truth, in the midst of conflicting rumours and
in the dearth of printed material, was often hard to ascertain, and
since most of those engaged were of my personal acquaintance, it
was often more than delicate to express. I must certainly have
erred often and much; it is not for want of trouble taken nor of an
impartial temper. And if my plain speaking shall cost me any of
the friends that I still count, I shall be sorry, but I need not be

In one particular the spelling of Samoan words has been altered;
and the characteristic nasal n of the language written throughout
ng instead of g. Thus I put Pango-Pango, instead of Pago-Pago; the
sound being that of soft ng in English, as in singer, not as in

R. L. S.



The story I have to tell is still going on as I write; the
characters are alive and active; it is a piece of contemporary
history in the most exact sense. And yet, for all its actuality
and the part played in it by mails and telegraphs and iron war-
ships, the ideas and the manners of the native actors date back
before the Roman Empire. They are Christians, church-goers,
singers of hymns at family worship, hardy cricketers; their books
are printed in London by Spottiswoode, Trubner, or the Tract
Society; but in most other points they are the contemporaries of
our tattooed ancestors who drove their chariots on the wrong side
of the Roman wall. We have passed the feudal system; they are not
yet clear of the patriarchal. We are in the thick of the age of
finance; they are in a period of communism. And this makes them
hard to understand.

To us, with our feudal ideas, Samoa has the first appearance of a
land of despotism. An elaborate courtliness marks the race alone
among Polynesians; terms of ceremony fly thick as oaths on board a
ship; commoners my-lord each other when they meet--and urchins as
they play marbles. And for the real noble a whole private dialect
is set apart. The common names for an axe, for blood, for bamboo,
a bamboo knife, a pig, food, entrails, and an oven are taboo in his
presence, as the common names for a bug and for many offices and
members of the body are taboo in the drawing-rooms of English
ladies. Special words are set apart for his leg, his face, his
hair, his belly, his eyelids, his son, his daughter, his wife, his
wife's pregnancy, his wife's adultery, adultery with his wife, his
dwelling, his spear, his comb, his sleep, his dreams, his anger,
the mutual anger of several chiefs, his food, his pleasure in
eating, the food and eating of his pigeons, his ulcers, his cough,
his sickness, his recovery, his death, his being carried on a bier,
the exhumation of his bones, and his skull after death. To address
these demigods is quite a branch of knowledge, and he who goes to
visit a high chief does well to make sure of the competence of his
interpreter. To complete the picture, the same word signifies the
watching of a virgin and the warding of a chief; and the same word
means to cherish a chief and to fondle a favourite child.

Men like us, full of memories of feudalism, hear of a man so
addressed, so flattered, and we leap at once to the conclusion that
he is hereditary and absolute. Hereditary he is; born of a great
family, he must always be a man of mark; but yet his office is
elective and (in a weak sense) is held on good behaviour. Compare
the case of a Highland chief: born one of the great ones of his
clan, he was sometimes appointed its chief officer and conventional
father; was loved, and respected, and served, and fed, and died for
implicitly, if he gave loyalty a chance; and yet if he sufficiently
outraged clan sentiment, was liable to deposition. As to
authority, the parallel is not so close. Doubtless the Samoan
chief, if he be popular, wields a great influence; but it is
limited. Important matters are debated in a fono, or native
parliament, with its feasting and parade, its endless speeches and
polite genealogical allusions. Debated, I say--not decided; for
even a small minority will often strike a clan or a province
impotent. In the midst of these ineffective councils the chief
sits usually silent: a kind of a gagged audience for village
orators. And the deliverance of the fono seems (for the moment) to
be final. The absolute chiefs of Tahiti and Hawaii were addressed
as plain John and Thomas; the chiefs of Samoa are surfeited with
lip-honour, but the seat and extent of their actual authority is
hard to find.

It is so in the members of the state, and worse in the belly. The
idea of a sovereign pervades the air; the name we have; the thing
we are not so sure of. And the process of election to the chief
power is a mystery. Certain provinces have in their gift certain
high titles, or NAMES, as they are called. These can only be
attributed to the descendants of particular lines. Once granted,
each name conveys at once the principality (whatever that be worth)
of the province which bestows it, and counts as one suffrage
towards the general sovereignty of Samoa. To be indubitable king,
they say, or some of them say,--I find few in perfect harmony,--a
man should resume five of these names in his own person. But the
case is purely hypothetical; local jealousy forbids its occurrence.
There are rival provinces, far more concerned in the prosecution of
their rivalry than in the choice of a right man for king. If one
of these shall have bestowed its name on competitor A, it will be
the signal and the sufficient reason for the other to bestow its
name on competitor B or C. The majority of Savaii and that of Aana
are thus in perennial opposition. Nor is this all. In 1881,
Laupepa, the present king, held the three names of Malietoa,
Natoaitele, and Tamasoalii; Tamasese held that of Tuiaana; and
Mataafa that of Tuiatua. Laupepa had thus a majority of suffrages;
he held perhaps as high a proportion as can be hoped in these
distracted islands; and he counted among the number the
preponderant name of Malietoa. Here, if ever, was an election.
Here, if a king were at all possible, was the king. And yet the
natives were not satisfied. Laupepa was crowned, March 19th; and
next month, the provinces of Aana and Atua met in joint parliament,
and elected their own two princes, Tamasese and Mataafa, to an
alternate monarchy, Tamasese taking the first trick of two years.
War was imminent, when the consuls interfered, and any war were
preferable to the terms of the peace which they procured. By the
Lackawanna treaty, Laupepa was confirmed king, and Tamasese set by
his side in the nondescript office of vice-king. The compromise
was not, I am told, without precedent; but it lacked all appearance
of success. To the constitution of Samoa, which was already all
wheels and no horses, the consuls had added a fifth wheel. In
addition to the old conundrum, "Who is the king?" they had supplied
a new one, "What is the vice-king?"

Two royal lines; some cloudy idea of alternation between the two;
an electorate in which the vote of each province is immediately
effectual, as regards itself, so that every candidate who attains
one name becomes a perpetual and dangerous competitor for the other
four: such are a few of the more trenchant absurdities. Many
argue that the whole idea of sovereignty is modern and imported;
but it seems impossible that anything so foolish should have been
suddenly devised, and the constitution bears on its front the marks
of dotage.

But the king, once elected and nominated, what does he become? It
may be said he remains precisely as he was. Election to one of the
five names is significant; it brings not only dignity but power,
and the holder is secure, from that moment, of a certain following
in war. But I cannot find that the further step of election to the
kingship implies anything worth mention. The successful candidate
is now the Tupu o Samoa--much good may it do him! He can so sign
himself on proclamations, which it does not follow that any one
will heed. He can summon parliaments; it does not follow they will
assemble. If he be too flagrantly disobeyed, he can go to war.
But so he could before, when he was only the chief of certain
provinces. His own provinces will support him, the provinces of
his rivals will take the field upon the other part; just as before.
In so far as he is the holder of any of the five NAMES, in short,
he is a man to be reckoned with; in so far as he is king of Samoa,
I cannot find but what the president of a college debating society
is a far more formidable officer. And unfortunately, although the
credit side of the account proves thus imaginary, the debit side is
actual and heavy. For he is now set up to be the mark of consuls;
he will be badgered to raise taxes, to make roads, to punish crime,
to quell rebellion: and how he is to do it is not asked.

If I am in the least right in my presentation of this obscure
matter, no one need be surprised to hear that the land is full of
war and rumours of war. Scarce a year goes by but what some
province is in arms, or sits sulky and menacing, holding
parliaments, disregarding the king's proclamations and planting
food in the bush, the first step of military preparation. The
religious sentiment of the people is indeed for peace at any price;
no pastor can bear arms; and even the layman who does so is denied
the sacraments. In the last war the college of Malua, where the
picked youth are prepared for the ministry, lost but a single
student; the rest, in the bosom of a bleeding country, and deaf to
the voices of vanity and honour, peacefully pursued their studies.
But if the church looks askance on war, the warrior in no extremity
of need or passion forgets his consideration for the church. The
houses and gardens of her ministers stand safe in the midst of
armies; a way is reserved for themselves along the beach, where
they may be seen in their white kilts and jackets openly passing
the lines, while not a hundred yards behind the skirmishers will be
exchanging the useless volleys of barbaric warfare. Women are also
respected; they are not fired upon; and they are suffered to pass
between the hostile camps, exchanging gossip, spreading rumour, and
divulging to either army the secret councils of the other. This is
plainly no savage war; it has all the punctilio of the barbarian,
and all his parade; feasts precede battles, fine dresses and songs
decorate and enliven the field; and the young soldier comes to camp
burning (on the one hand) to distinguish himself by acts of valour,
and (on the other) to display his acquaintance with field
etiquette. Thus after Mataafa became involved in hostilities
against the Germans, and had another code to observe beside his
own, he was always asking his white advisers if "things were done
correctly." Let us try to be as wise as Mataafa, and to conceive
that etiquette and morals differ in one country and another. We
shall be the less surprised to find Samoan war defaced with some
unpalatable customs. The childish destruction of fruit-trees in an
enemy's country cripples the resources of Samoa; and the habit of
head-hunting not only revolts foreigners, but has begun to exercise
the minds of the natives themselves. Soon after the German heads
were taken, Mr. Carne, Wesleyan missionary, had occasion to visit
Mataafa's camp, and spoke of the practice with abhorrence. "Misi
Kane," said one chief, "we have just been puzzling ourselves to
guess where that custom came from. But, Misi, is it not so that
when David killed Goliath, he cut off his head and carried it
before the king?"

With the civil life of the inhabitants we have far less to do; and
yet even here a word of preparation is inevitable. They are easy,
merry, and pleasure-loving; the gayest, though by far from either
the most capable or the most beautiful of Polynesians. Fine dress
is a passion, and makes a Samoan festival a thing of beauty. Song
is almost ceaseless. The boatman sings at the oar, the family at
evening worship, the girls at night in the guest-house, sometimes
the workman at his toil. No occasion is too small for the poets
and musicians; a death, a visit, the day's news, the day's
pleasantry, will be set to rhyme and harmony. Even half-grown
girls, the occasion arising, fashion words and train choruses of
children for its celebration. Song, as with all Pacific islanders,
goes hand in hand with the dance, and both shade into the drama.
Some of the performances are indecent and ugly, some only dull;
others are pretty, funny, and attractive. Games are popular.
Cricket-matches, where a hundred played upon a side, endured at
times for weeks, and ate up the country like the presence of an
army. Fishing, the daily bath, flirtation; courtship, which is
gone upon by proxy; conversation, which is largely political; and
the delights of public oratory, fill in the long hours.

But the special delight of the Samoan is the malanga. When people
form a party and go from village to village, junketing and
gossiping, they are said to go on a malanga. Their songs have
announced their approach ere they arrive; the guest-house is
prepared for their reception; the virgins of the village attend to
prepare the kava bowl and entertain them with the dance; time flies
in the enjoyment of every pleasure which an islander conceives; and
when the malanga sets forth, the same welcome and the same joys
expect them beyond the next cape, where the nearest village nestles
in its grove of palms. To the visitors it is all golden; for the
hosts, it has another side. In one or two words of the language
the fact peeps slyly out. The same word (afemoeina) expresses "a
long call" and "to come as a calamity"; the same word (lesolosolou)
signifies "to have no intermission of pain" and "to have no
cessation, as in the arrival of visitors"; and soua, used of
epidemics, bears the sense of being overcome as with "fire, flood,
or visitors." But the gem of the dictionary is the verb alovao,
which illustrates its pages like a humorous woodcut. It is used in
the sense of "to avoid visitors," but it means literally "hide in
the wood." So, by the sure hand of popular speech, we have the
picture of the house deserted, the malanga disappointed, and the
host that should have been quaking in the bush.

We are thus brought to the beginning of a series of traits of
manners, highly curious in themselves, and essential to an
understanding of the war. In Samoa authority sits on the one hand
entranced; on the other, property stands bound in the midst of
chartered marauders. What property exists is vested in the family,
not in the individual; and of the loose communism in which a family
dwells, the dictionary may yet again help us to some idea. I find
a string of verbs with the following senses: to deal leniently
with, as in helping oneself from a family plantation; to give away
without consulting other members of the family; to go to strangers
for help instead of to relatives; to take from relatives without
permission; to steal from relatives; to have plantations robbed by
relatives. The ideal of conduct in the family, and some of its
depravations, appear here very plainly. The man who (in a native
word of praise) is mata-ainga, a race-regarder, has his hand always
open to his kindred; the man who is not (in a native term of
contempt) noa, knows always where to turn in any pinch of want or
extremity of laziness. Beggary within the family--and by the less
self-respecting, without it--has thus grown into a custom and a
scourge, and the dictionary teems with evidence of its abuse.
Special words signify the begging of food, of uncooked food, of
fish, of pigs, of pigs for travellers, of pigs for stock, of taro,
of taro-tops, of taro-tops for planting, of tools, of flyhooks, of
implements for netting pigeons, and of mats. It is true the beggar
was supposed in time to make a return, somewhat as by the Roman
contract of mutuum. But the obligation was only moral; it could
not be, or was not, enforced; as a matter of fact, it was
disregarded. The language had recently to borrow from the
Tahitians a word for debt; while by a significant excidence, it
possessed a native expression for the failure to pay--"to omit to
make a return for property begged." Conceive now the position of
the householder besieged by harpies, and all defence denied him by
the laws of honour. The sacramental gesture of refusal, his last
and single resource, was supposed to signify "my house is
destitute." Until that point was reached, in other words, the
conduct prescribed for a Samoan was to give and to continue giving.
But it does not appear he was at all expected to give with a good
grace. The dictionary is well stocked with expressions standing
ready, like missiles, to be discharged upon the locusts--"troop of
shamefaced ones," "you draw in your head like a tern," "you make
your voice small like a whistle-pipe," "you beg like one
delirious"; and the verb pongitai, "to look cross," is equipped
with the pregnant rider, "as at the sight of beggars."

This insolence of beggars and the weakness of proprietors can only
be illustrated by examples. We have a girl in our service to whom
we had given some finery, that she might wait at table, and (at her
own request) some warm clothing against the cold mornings of the
bush. She went on a visit to her family, and returned in an old
tablecloth, her whole wardrobe having been divided out among
relatives in the course of twenty-four hours. A pastor in the
province of Atua, being a handy, busy man, bought a boat for a
hundred dollars, fifty of which he paid down. Presently after,
relatives came to him upon a visit and took a fancy to his new
possession. "We have long been wanting a boat," said they. "Give
us this one." So, when the visit was done, they departed in the
boat. The pastor, meanwhile, travelled into Savaii the best way he
could, sold a parcel of land, and begged mats among his other
relatives, to pay the remainder of the price of the boat which was
no longer his. You might think this was enough; but some months
later, the harpies, having broken a thwart, brought back the boat
to be repaired and repainted by the original owner.

Such customs, it might be argued, being double-edged, will
ultimately right themselves. But it is otherwise in practice.
Such folk as the pastor's harpy relatives will generally have a
boat, and will never have paid for it; such men as the pastor may
have sometimes paid for a boat, but they will never have one. It
is there as it is with us at home: the measure of the abuse of
either system is the blackness of the individual heart. The same
man, who would drive his poor relatives from his own door in
England, would besiege in Samoa the doors of the rich; and the
essence of the dishonesty in either case is to pursue one's own
advantage and to be indifferent to the losses of one's neighbour.
But the particular drawback of the Polynesian system is to depress
and stagger industry. To work more is there only to be more
pillaged; to save is impossible. The family has then made a good
day of it when all are filled and nothing remains over for the crew
of free-booters; and the injustice of the system begins to be
recognised even in Samoa. One native is said to have amassed a
certain fortune; two clever lads have individually expressed to us
their discontent with a system which taxes industry to pamper
idleness; and I hear that in one village of Savaii a law has been
passed forbidding gifts under the penalty of a sharp fine.

Under this economic regimen, the unpopularity of taxes, which
strike all at the same time, which expose the industrious to a
perfect siege of mendicancy, and the lazy to be actually condemned
to a day's labour, may be imagined without words. It is more
important to note the concurrent relaxation of all sense of
property. From applying for help to kinsmen who are scarce
permitted to refuse, it is but a step to taking from them (in the
dictionary phrase) "without permission"; from that to theft at
large is but a hair's-breadth.


The huge majority of Samoans, like other God-fearing folk in other
countries, are perfectly content with their own manners. And upon
one condition, it is plain they might enjoy themselves far beyond
the average of man. Seated in islands very rich in food, the
idleness of the many idle would scarce matter; and the provinces
might continue to bestow their names among rival pretenders, and
fall into war and enjoy that a while, and drop into peace and enjoy
that, in a manner highly to be envied. But the condition--that
they should be let alone--is now no longer possible. More than a
hundred years ago, and following closely on the heels of Cook, an
irregular invasion of adventurers began to swarm about the isles of
the Pacific. The seven sleepers of Polynesia stand, still but half
aroused, in the midst of the century of competition. And the
island races, comparable to a shopful of crockery launched upon the
stream of time, now fall to make their desperate voyage among pots
of brass and adamant.

Apia, the port and mart, is the seat of the political sickness of
Samoa. At the foot of a peaked, woody mountain, the coast makes a
deep indent, roughly semicircular. In front the barrier reef is
broken by the fresh water of the streams; if the swell be from the
north, it enters almost without diminution; and the war-ships roll
dizzily at their moorings, and along the fringing coral which
follows the configuration of the beach, the surf breaks with a
continuous uproar. In wild weather, as the world knows, the roads
are untenable. Along the whole shore, which is everywhere green
and level and overlooked by inland mountain-tops, the town lies
drawn out in strings and clusters. The western horn is Mulinuu,
the eastern, Matautu; and from one to the other of these extremes,
I ask the reader to walk. He will find more of the history of
Samoa spread before his eyes in that excursion, than has yet been
collected in the blue-books or the white-books of the world.
Mulinuu (where the walk is to begin) is a flat, wind-swept
promontory, planted with palms, backed against a swamp of
mangroves, and occupied by a rather miserable village. The reader
is informed that this is the proper residence of the Samoan kings;
he will be the more surprised to observe a board set up, and to
read that this historic village is the property of the German firm.
But these boards, which are among the commonest features of the
landscape, may be rather taken to imply that the claim has been
disputed. A little farther east he skirts the stores, offices, and
barracks of the firm itself. Thence he will pass through Matafele,
the one really town-like portion of this long string of villages,
by German bars and stores and the German consulate; and reach the
Catholic mission and cathedral standing by the mouth of a small
river. The bridge which crosses here (bridge of Mulivai) is a
frontier; behind is Matafele; beyond, Apia proper; behind, Germans
are supreme; beyond, with but few exceptions, all is Anglo-Saxon.
Here the reader will go forward past the stores of Mr. Moors
(American) and Messrs. MacArthur (English); past the English
mission, the office of the English newspaper, the English church,
and the old American consulate, till he reaches the mouth of a
larger river, the Vaisingano. Beyond, in Matautu, his way takes
him in the shade of many trees and by scattered dwellings, and
presently brings him beside a great range of offices, the place and
the monument of a German who fought the German firm during his
life. His house (now he is dead) remains pointed like a discharged
cannon at the citadel of his old enemies. Fitly enough, it is at
present leased and occupied by Englishmen. A little farther, and
the reader gains the eastern flanking angle of the bay, where
stands the pilot-house and signal-post, and whence he can see, on
the line of the main coast of the island, the British and the new
American consulates.

The course of his walk will have been enlivened by a considerable
to and fro of pleasure and business. He will have encountered many
varieties of whites,--sailors, merchants, clerks, priests,
Protestant missionaries in their pith helmets, and the nondescript
hangers-on of any island beach. And the sailors are sometimes in
considerable force; but not the residents. He will think at times
there are more signboards than men to own them. It may chance it
is a full day in the harbour; he will then have seen all manner of
ships, from men-of-war and deep-sea packets to the labour vessels
of the German firm and the cockboat island schooner; and if he be
of an arithmetical turn, he may calculate that there are more
whites afloat in Apia bay than whites ashore in the whole
Archipelago. On the other hand, he will have encountered all ranks
of natives, chiefs and pastors in their scrupulous white clothes;
perhaps the king himself, attended by guards in uniform; smiling
policemen with their pewter stars; girls, women, crowds of cheerful
children. And he will have asked himself with some surprise where
these reside. Here and there, in the back yards of European
establishments, he may have had a glimpse of a native house elbowed
in a corner; but since he left Mulinuu, none on the beach where
islanders prefer to live, scarce one on the line of street. The
handful of whites have everything; the natives walk in a foreign
town. A year ago, on a knoll behind a bar-room, he might have
observed a native house guarded by sentries and flown over by the
standard of Samoa. He would then have been told it was the seat of
government, driven (as I have to relate) over the Mulivai and from
beyond the German town into the Anglo-Saxon. To-day, he will learn
it has been carted back again to its old quarters. And he will
think it significant that the king of the islands should be thus
shuttled to and fro in his chief city at the nod of aliens. And
then he will observe a feature more significant still: a house
with some concourse of affairs, policemen and idlers hanging by, a
man at a bank-counter overhauling manifests, perhaps a trial
proceeding in the front verandah, or perhaps the council breaking
up in knots after a stormy sitting. And he will remember that he
is in the Eleele Sa, the "Forbidden Soil," or Neutral Territory of
the treaties; that the magistrate whom he has just seen trying
native criminals is no officer of the native king's; and that this,
the only port and place of business in the kingdom, collects and
administers its own revenue for its own behoof by the hands of
white councillors and under the supervision of white consuls. Let
him go further afield. He will find the roads almost everywhere to
cease or to be made impassable by native pig-fences, bridges to be
quite unknown, and houses of the whites to become at once a rare
exception. Set aside the German plantations, and the frontier is
sharp. At the boundary of the Eleele Sa, Europe ends, Samoa
begins. Here, then, is a singular state of affairs: all the
money, luxury, and business of the kingdom centred in one place;
that place excepted from the native government and administered by
whites for whites; and the whites themselves holding it not in
common but in hostile camps, so that it lies between them like a
bone between two dogs, each growling, each clutching his own end.

Should Apia ever choose a coat of arms, I have a motto ready:
"Enter Rumour painted full of tongues." The majority of the
natives do extremely little; the majority of the whites are
merchants with some four mails in the month, shopkeepers with some
ten or twenty customers a day, and gossip is the common resource of
all. The town hums to the day's news, and the bars are crowded
with amateur politicians. Some are office-seekers, and earwig king
and consul, and compass the fall of officials, with an eye to
salary. Some are humorists, delighted with the pleasure of faction
for itself. "I never saw so good a place as this Apia," said one
of these; "you can be in a new conspiracy every day!" Many, on the
other hand, are sincerely concerned for the future of the country.
The quarters are so close and the scale is so small, that perhaps
not any one can be trusted always to preserve his temper. Every
one tells everything he knows; that is our country sickness.
Nearly every one has been betrayed at times, and told a trifle
more; the way our sickness takes the predisposed. And the news
flies, and the tongues wag, and fists are shaken. Pot boil and
caldron bubble!

Within the memory of man, the white people of Apia lay in the worst
squalor of degradation. They are now unspeakably improved, both
men and women. To-day they must be called a more than fairly
respectable population, and a much more than fairly intelligent.
The whole would probably not fill the ranks of even an English
half-battalion, yet there are a surprising number above the average
in sense, knowledge, and manners. The trouble (for Samoa) is that
they are all here after a livelihood. Some are sharp
practitioners, some are famous (justly or not) for foul play in
business. Tales fly. One merchant warns you against his
neighbour; the neighbour on the first occasion is found to return
the compliment: each with a good circumstantial story to the
proof. There is so much copra in the islands, and no more; a man's
share of it is his share of bread; and commerce, like politics, is
here narrowed to a focus, shows its ugly side, and becomes as
personal as fisticuffs. Close at their elbows, in all this
contention, stands the native looking on. Like a child, his true
analogue, he observes, apprehends, misapprehends, and is usually
silent. As in a child, a considerable intemperance of speech is
accompanied by some power of secrecy. News he publishes; his
thoughts have often to be dug for. He looks on at the rude career
of the dollar-hunt, and wonders. He sees these men rolling in a
luxury beyond the ambition of native kings; he hears them accused
by each other of the meanest trickery; he knows some of them to be
guilty; and what is he to think? He is strongly conscious of his
own position as the common milk-cow; and what is he to do? "Surely
these white men on the beach are not great chiefs?" is a common
question, perhaps asked with some design of flattering the person
questioned. And one, stung by the last incident into an unusual
flow of English, remarked to me: "I begin to be weary of white men
on the beach."

But the true centre of trouble, the head of the boil of which Samoa
languishes, is the German firm. From the conditions of business, a
great island house must ever be an inheritance of care; and it
chances that the greatest still afoot has its chief seat in Apia
bay, and has sunk the main part of its capital in the island of
Upolu. When its founder, John Caesar Godeffroy, went bankrupt over
Russian paper and Westphalian iron, his most considerable asset was
found to be the South Sea business. This passed (I understand)
through the hands of Baring Brothers in London, and is now run by a
company rejoicing in the Gargantuan name of the Deutsche Handels
und Plantagen Gesellschaft fur Sud-See Inseln zu Hamburg. This
piece of literature is (in practice) shortened to the D. H. and P.
G., the Old Firm, the German Firm, the Firm, and (among humorists)
the Long Handle Firm. Even from the deck of an approaching ship,
the island is seen to bear its signature--zones of cultivation
showing in a more vivid tint of green on the dark vest of forest.
The total area in use is near ten thousand acres. Hedges of
fragrant lime enclose, broad avenues intersect them. You shall
walk for hours in parks of palm-tree alleys, regular, like soldiers
on parade; in the recesses of the hills you may stumble on a mill-
house, tolling and trembling there, fathoms deep in superincumbent
forest. On the carpet of clean sward, troops of horses and herds
of handsome cattle may be seen to browse; and to one accustomed to
the rough luxuriance of the tropics, the appearance is of
fairyland. The managers, many of them German sea-captains, are
enthusiastic in their new employment. Experiment is continually
afoot: coffee and cacao, both of excellent quality, are among the
more recent outputs; and from one plantation quantities of
pineapples are sent at a particular season to the Sydney markets.
A hundred and fifty thousand pounds of English money, perhaps two
hundred thousand, lie sunk in these magnificent estates. In
estimating the expense of maintenance quite a fleet of ships must
be remembered, and a strong staff of captains, supercargoes,
overseers, and clerks. These last mess together at a liberal
board; the wages are high, and the staff is inspired with a strong
and pleasing sentiment of loyalty to their employers.

Seven or eight hundred imported men and women toil for the company
on contracts of three or of five years, and at a hypothetical wage
of a few dollars in the month. I am now on a burning question:
the labour traffic; and I shall ask permission in this place only
to touch it with the tongs. Suffice it to say that in Queensland,
Fiji, New Caledonia, and Hawaii it has been either suppressed or
placed under close public supervision. In Samoa, where it still
flourishes, there is no regulation of which the public receives any
evidence; and the dirty linen of the firm, if there be any dirty,
and if it be ever washed at all, is washed in private. This is
unfortunate, if Germans would believe it. But they have no idea of
publicity, keep their business to themselves, rather affect to
"move in a mysterious way," and are naturally incensed by
criticisms, which they consider hypocritical, from men who would
import "labour" for themselves, if they could afford it, and would
probably maltreat them if they dared. It is said the whip is very
busy on some of the plantations; it is said that punitive extra-
labour, by which the thrall's term of service is extended, has
grown to be an abuse; and it is complained that, even where that
term is out, much irregularity occurs in the repatriation of the
discharged. To all this I can say nothing, good or bad. A certain
number of the thralls, many of them wild negritos from the west,
have taken to the bush, harbour there in a state partly bestial, or
creep into the back quarters of the town to do a day's stealthy
labour under the nose of their proprietors. Twelve were arrested
one morning in my own boys' kitchen. Farther in the bush, huts,
small patches of cultivation, and smoking ovens, have been found by
hunters. There are still three runaways in the woods of Tutuila,
whither they escaped upon a raft. And the Samoans regard these
dark-skinned rangers with extreme alarm; the fourth refugee in
Tutuila was shot down (as I was told in that island) while carrying
off the virgin of a village; and tales of cannibalism run round the
country, and the natives shudder about the evening fire. For the
Samoans are not cannibals, do not seem to remember when they were,
and regard the practice with a disfavour equal to our own.

The firm is Gulliver among the Lilliputs; and it must not be
forgotten, that while the small, independent traders are fighting
for their own hand, and inflamed with the usual jealousy against
corporations, the Germans are inspired with a sense of the
greatness of their affairs and interests. The thought of the money
sunk, the sight of these costly and beautiful plantations, menaced
yearly by the returning forest, and the responsibility of
administering with one hand so many conjunct fortunes, might well
nerve the manager of such a company for desperate and questionable
deeds. Upon this scale, commercial sharpness has an air of
patriotism; and I can imagine the man, so far from haggling over
the scourge for a few Solomon islanders, prepared to oppress rival
firms, overthrow inconvenient monarchs, and let loose the dogs of
war. Whatever he may decide, he will not want for backing. Every
clerk will be eager to be up and strike a blow; and most Germans in
the group, whatever they may babble of the firm over the walnuts
and the wine, will rally round the national concern at the approach
of difficulty. They are so few--I am ashamed to give their number,
it were to challenge contradiction--they are so few, and the amount
of national capital buried at their feet is so vast, that we must
not wonder if they seem oppressed with greatness and the sense of
empire. Other whites take part in our brabbles, while temper holds
out, with a certain schoolboy entertainment. In the Germans alone,
no trace of humour is to be observed, and their solemnity is
accompanied by a touchiness often beyond belief. Patriotism flies
in arms about a hen; and if you comment upon the colour of a Dutch
umbrella, you have cast a stone against the German Emperor. I give
one instance, typical although extreme. One who had returned from
Tutuila on the mail cutter complained of the vermin with which she
is infested. He was suddenly and sharply brought to a stand. The
ship of which he spoke, he was reminded, was a German ship.

John Caesar Godeffroy himself had never visited the islands; his
sons and nephews came, indeed, but scarcely to reap laurels; and
the mainspring and headpiece of this great concern, until death
took him, was a certain remarkable man of the name of Theodor
Weber. He was of an artful and commanding character; in the
smallest thing or the greatest, without fear or scruple; equally
able to affect, equally ready to adopt, the most engaging
politeness or the most imperious airs of domination. It was he who
did most damage to rival traders; it was he who most harried the
Samoans; and yet I never met any one, white or native, who did not
respect his memory. All felt it was a gallant battle, and the man
a great fighter; and now when he is dead, and the war seems to have
gone against him, many can scarce remember, without a kind of
regret, how much devotion and audacity have been spent in vain.
His name still lives in the songs of Samoa. One, that I have
heard, tells of Misi Ueba and a biscuit-box--the suggesting
incident being long since forgotten. Another sings plaintively how
all things, land and food and property, pass progressively, as by a
law of nature, into the hands of Misi Ueba, and soon nothing will
be left for Samoans. This is an epitaph the man would have

At one period of his career, Weber combined the offices of director
of the firm and consul for the City of Hamburg. No question but he
then drove very hard. Germans admit that the combination was
unfortunate; and it was a German who procured its overthrow.
Captain Zembsch superseded him with an imperial appointment, one
still remembered in Samoa as "the gentleman who acted justly."
There was no house to be found, and the new consul must take up his
quarters at first under the same roof with Weber. On several
questions, in which the firm was vitally interested, Zembsch
embraced the contrary opinion. Riding one day with an Englishman
in Vailele plantation, he was startled by a burst of screaming,
leaped from the saddle, ran round a house, and found an overseer
beating one of the thralls. He punished the overseer, and, being a
kindly and perhaps not a very diplomatic man, talked high of what
he felt and what he might consider it his duty to forbid or to
enforce. The firm began to look askance at such a consul; and
worse was behind. A number of deeds being brought to the consulate
for registration, Zembsch detected certain transfers of land in
which the date, the boundaries, the measure, and the consideration
were all blank. He refused them with an indignation which he does
not seem to have been able to keep to himself; and, whether or not
by his fault, some of these unfortunate documents became public.
It was plain that the relations between the two flanks of the
German invasion, the diplomatic and the commercial, were strained
to bursting. But Weber was a man ill to conquer. Zembsch was
recalled; and from that time forth, whether through influence at
home, or by the solicitations of Weber on the spot, the German
consulate has shown itself very apt to play the game of the German
firm. That game, we may say, was twofold,--the first part even
praiseworthy, the second at least natural. On the one part, they
desired an efficient native administration, to open up the country
and punish crime; they wished, on the other, to extend their own
provinces and to curtail the dealings of their rivals. In the
first, they had the jealous and diffident sympathy of all whites;
in the second, they had all whites banded together against them for
their lives and livelihoods. It was thus a game of Beggar my
Neighbour between a large merchant and some small ones. Had it so
remained, it would still have been a cut-throat quarrel. But when
the consulate appeared to be concerned, when the war-ships of the
German Empire were thought to fetch and carry for the firm, the
rage of the independent traders broke beyond restraint. And,
largely from the national touchiness and the intemperate speech of
German clerks, this scramble among dollar-hunters assumed the
appearance of an inter-racial war.

The firm, with the indomitable Weber at its head and the consulate
at its back--there has been the chief enemy at Samoa. No English
reader can fail to be reminded of John Company; and if the Germans
appear to have been not so successful, we can only wonder that our
own blunders and brutalities were less severely punished. Even on
the field of Samoa, though German faults and aggressors make up the
burthen of my story, they have been nowise alone. Three nations
were engaged in this infinitesimal affray, and not one appears with
credit. They figure but as the three ruffians of the elder play-
wrights. The United States have the cleanest hands, and even
theirs are not immaculate. It was an ambiguous business when a
private American adventurer was landed with his pieces of artillery
from an American war-ship, and became prime minister to the king.
It is true (even if he were ever really supported) that he was soon
dropped and had soon sold himself for money to the German firm. I
will leave it to the reader whether this trait dignifies or not the
wretched story. And the end of it spattered the credit alike of
England and the States, when this man (the premier of a friendly
sovereign) was kidnapped and deported, on the requisition of an
American consul, by the captain of an English war-ship. I shall
have to tell, as I proceed, of villages shelled on very trifling
grounds by Germans; the like has been done of late years, though in
a better quarrel, by ourselves of England. I shall have to tell
how the Germans landed and shed blood at Fangalii; it was only in
1876 that we British had our own misconceived little massacre at
Mulinuu. I shall have to tell how the Germans bludgeoned Malietoa
with a sudden call for money; it was something of the suddenest
that Sir Arthur Gordon himself, smarting under a sensible public
affront, made and enforced a somewhat similar demand.


You ride in a German plantation and see no bush, no soul stirring;
only acres of empty sward, miles of cocoa-nut alley: a desert of
food. In the eyes of the Samoan the place has the attraction of a
park for the holiday schoolboy, of a granary for mice. We must add
the yet more lively allurement of a haunted house, for over these
empty and silent miles there broods the fear of the negrito
cannibal. For the Samoan besides, there is something barbaric,
unhandsome, and absurd in the idea of thus growing food only to
send it from the land and sell it. A man at home who should turn
all Yorkshire into one wheatfield, and annually burn his harvest on
the altar of Mumbo-Jumbo, might impress ourselves not much
otherwise. And the firm which does these things is quite
extraneous, a wen that might be excised to-morrow without loss but
to itself; few natives drawing from it so much as day's wages; and
the rest beholding in it only the occupier of their acres. The
nearest villages have suffered most; they see over the hedge the
lands of their ancestors waving with useless cocoa-palms; and the
sales were often questionable, and must still more often appear so
to regretful natives, spinning and improving yarns about the
evening lamp. At the worst, then, to help oneself from the
plantation will seem to a Samoan very like orchard-breaking to the
British schoolboy; at the best, it will be thought a gallant Robin-
Hoodish readjustment of a public wrong.

And there is more behind. Not only is theft from the plantations
regarded rather as a lark and peccadillo, the idea of theft in
itself is not very clearly present to these communists; and as to
the punishment of crime in general, a great gulf of opinion divides
the natives from ourselves. Indigenous punishments were short and
sharp. Death, deportation by the primitive method of setting the
criminal to sea in a canoe, fines, and in Samoa itself the penalty
of publicly biting a hot, ill-smelling root, comparable to a rough
forfeit in a children's game--these are approved. The offender is
killed, or punished and forgiven. We, on the other hand, harbour
malice for a period of years: continuous shame attaches to the
criminal; even when he is doing his best--even when he is
submitting to the worst form of torture, regular work--he is to
stand aside from life and from his family in dreadful isolation.
These ideas most Polynesians have accepted in appearance, as they
accept other ideas of the whites; in practice, they reduce it to a
farce. I have heard the French resident in the Marquesas in talk
with the French gaoler of Tai-o-hae: "Eh bien, ou sont vos
prisonnieres?--Je crois, mon commandant, qu'elles sont allees
quelque part faire une visite." And the ladies would be welcome.
This is to take the most savage of Polynesians; take some of the
most civilised. In Honolulu, convicts labour on the highways in
piebald clothing, gruesome and ridiculous; and it is a common sight
to see the family of such an one troop out, about the dinner hour,
wreathed with flowers and in their holiday best, to picnic with
their kinsman on the public wayside. The application of these
outlandish penalties, in fact, transfers the sympathy to the
offender. Remember, besides, that the clan system, and that
imperfect idea of justice which is its worst feature, are still
lively in Samoa; that it is held the duty of a judge to favour
kinsmen, of a king to protect his vassals; and the difficulty of
getting a plantation thief first caught, then convicted, and last
of all punished, will appear.

During the early 'eighties, the Germans looked upon this system
with growing irritation. They might see their convict thrust in
gaol by the front door; they could never tell how soon he was
enfranchised by the back; and they need not be the least surprised
if they met him, a few days after, enjoying the delights of a
malanga. It was a banded conspiracy, from the king and the vice-
king downward, to evade the law and deprive the Germans of their
profits. In 1883, accordingly, the consul, Dr. Stuebel, extorted a
convention on the subject, in terms of which Samoans convicted of
offences against German subjects were to be confined in a private
gaol belonging to the German firm. To Dr. Stuebel it seemed simple
enough: the offenders were to be effectually punished, the
sufferers partially indemnified. To the Samoans, the thing
appeared no less simple, but quite different: "Malietoa was
selling Samoans to Misi Ueba." What else could be expected? Here
was a private corporation engaged in making money; to it was
delegated, upon a question of profit and loss, one of the functions
of the Samoan crown; and those who make anomalies must look for
comments. Public feeling ran unanimous and high. Prisoners who
escaped from the private gaol were not recaptured or not returned
and Malietoa hastened to build a new prison of his own, whither he
conveyed, or pretended to convey, the fugitives. In October 1885 a
trenchant state paper issued from the German consulate. Twenty
prisoners, the consul wrote, had now been at large for eight months
from Weber's prison. It was pretended they had since then
completed their term of punishment elsewhere. Dr. Stuebel did not
seek to conceal his incredulity; but he took ground beyond; he
declared the point irrelevant. The law was to be enforced. The
men were condemned to a certain period in Weber's prison; they had
run away; they must now be brought back and (whatever had become of
them in the interval) work out the sentence. Doubtless Dr.
Stuebel's demands were substantially just; but doubtless also they
bore from the outside a great appearance of harshness; and when the
king submitted, the murmurs of the people increased.

But Weber was not yet content. The law had to be enforced;
property, or at least the property of the firm, must be respected.
And during an absence of the consul's, he seems to have drawn up
with his own hand, and certainly first showed to the king, in his
own house, a new convention. Weber here and Weber there. As an
able man, he was perhaps in the right to prepare and propose
conventions. As the head of a trading company, he seems far out of
his part to be communicating state papers to a sovereign. The
administration of justice was the colour, and I am willing to
believe the purpose, of the new paper; but its effect was to depose
the existing government. A council of two Germans and two Samoans
were to be invested with the right to make laws and impose taxes as
might be "desirable for the common interest of the Samoan
government and the German residents." The provisions of this
council the king and vice-king were to sign blindfold. And by a
last hardship, the Germans, who received all the benefit, reserved
a right to recede from the agreement on six months' notice; the
Samoans, who suffered all the loss, were bound by it in perpetuity.
I can never believe that my friend Dr. Stuebel had a hand in
drafting these proposals; I am only surprised he should have been a
party to enforcing them, perhaps the chief error in these islands
of a man who has made few. And they were enforced with a rigour
that seems injudicious. The Samoans (according to their own
account) were denied a copy of the document; they were certainly
rated and threatened; their deliberation was treated as contumacy;
two German war-ships lay in port, and it was hinted that these
would shortly intervene.

Succeed in frightening a child, and he takes refuge in duplicity.
"Malietoa," one of the chiefs had written, "we know well we are in
bondage to the great governments." It was now thought one tyrant
might be better than three, and any one preferable to Germany. On
the 5th November 1885, accordingly, Laupepa, Tamasese, and forty-
eight high chiefs met in secret, and the supremacy of Samoa was
secretly offered to Great Britain for the second time in history.
Laupepa and Tamasese still figured as king and vice-king in the
eyes of Dr. Stuebel; in their own, they had secretly abdicated,
were become private persons, and might do what they pleased without
binding or dishonouring their country. On the morrow, accordingly,
they did public humiliation in the dust before the consulate, and
five days later signed the convention. The last was done, it is
claimed, upon an impulse. The humiliation, which it appeared to
the Samoans so great a thing to offer, to the practical mind of Dr.
Stuebel seemed a trifle to receive; and the pressure was continued
and increased. Laupepa and Tamasese were both heavy, well-meaning,
inconclusive men. Laupepa, educated for the ministry, still bears
some marks of it in character and appearance; Tamasese was in
private of an amorous and sentimental turn, but no one would have
guessed it from his solemn and dull countenance. Impossible to
conceive two less dashing champions for a threatened race; and
there is no doubt they were reduced to the extremity of muddlement
and childish fear. It was drawing towards night on the 10th, when
this luckless pair and a chief of the name of Tuiatafu, set out for
the German consulate, still minded to temporise. As they went,
they discussed their case with agitation. They could see the
lights of the German war-ships as they walked--an eloquent
reminder. And it was then that Tamasese proposed to sign the
convention. "It will give us peace for the day," said Laupepa,
"and afterwards Great Britain must decide."--"Better fight Germany
than that!" cried Tuiatafu, speaking words of wisdom, and departed
in anger. But the two others proceeded on their fatal errand;
signed the convention, writing themselves king and vice-king, as
they now believed themselves to be no longer; and with childish
perfidy took part in a scene of "reconciliation" at the German

Malietoa supposed himself betrayed by Tamasese. Consul Churchward
states with precision that the document was sold by a scribe for
thirty-six dollars. Twelve days later at least, November 22nd, the
text of the address to Great Britain came into the hands of Dr.
Stuebel. The Germans may have been wrong before; they were now in
the right to be angry. They had been publicly, solemnly, and
elaborately fooled; the treaty and the reconciliation were both
fraudulent, with the broad, farcical fraudulency of children and
barbarians. This history is much from the outside; it is the
digested report of eye-witnesses; it can be rarely corrected from
state papers; and as to what consuls felt and thought, or what
instructions they acted under, I must still be silent or proceed by
guess. It is my guess that Stuebel now decided Malietoa Laupepa to
be a man impossible to trust and unworthy to be dealt with. And it
is certain that the business of his deposition was put in hand at
once. The position of Weber, with his knowledge of things native,
his prestige, and his enterprising intellect, must have always made
him influential with the consul: at this juncture he was
indispensable. Here was the deed to be done; here the man of
action. "Mr. Weber rested not," says Laupepa. It was "like the
old days of his own consulate," writes Churchward. His messengers
filled the isle; his house was thronged with chiefs and orators; he
sat close over his loom, delightedly weaving the future. There was
one thing requisite to the intrigue,--a native pretender; and the
very man, you would have said, stood waiting: Mataafa, titular of
Atua, descended from both the royal lines, late joint king with
Tamasese, fobbed off with nothing in the time of the Lackawanna
treaty, probably mortified by the circumstance, a chief with a
strong following, and in character and capacity high above the
native average. Yet when Weber's spiriting was done, and the
curtain rose on the set scene of the coronation, Mataafa was
absent, and Tamasese stood in his place. Malietoa was to be
deposed for a piece of solemn and offensive trickery, and the man
selected to replace him was his sole partner and accomplice in the
act. For so strange a choice, good ground must have existed; but
it remains conjectural: some supposing Mataafa scratched as too
independent; others that Tamasese had indeed betrayed Laupepa, and
his new advancement was the price of his treachery.

So these two chiefs began to change places like the scales of a
balance, one down, the other up. Tamasese raised his flag (Jan.
28th, 1886) in Leulumoenga, chief place of his own province of
Aana, usurped the style of king, and began to collect and arm a
force. Weber, by the admission of Stuebel, was in the market
supplying him with weapons; so were the Americans; so, but for our
salutary British law, would have been the British; for wherever
there is a sound of battle, there will the traders be gathered
together selling arms. A little longer, and we find Tamasese
visited and addressed as king and majesty by a German commodore.
Meanwhile, for the unhappy Malietoa, the road led downward. He was
refused a bodyguard. He was turned out of Mulinuu, the seat of his
royalty, on a land claim of Weber's, fled across the Mulivai, and
"had the coolness" (German expression) to hoist his flag in Apia.
He was asked "in the most polite manner," says the same account--
"in the most delicate manner in the world," a reader of Marryat
might be tempted to amend the phrase,--to strike his flag in his
own capital; and on his "refusal to accede to this request," Dr.
Stuebel appeared himself with ten men and an officer from the
cruiser Albatross; a sailor climbed into the tree and brought down
the flag of Samoa, which was carefully folded, and sent, "in the
most polite manner," to its owner. The consuls of England and the
States were there (the excellent gentlemen!) to protest. Last, and
yet more explicit, the German commodore who visited the be-titled
Tamasese, addressed the king--we may surely say the late king--as
"the High Chief Malietoa."

Had he no party, then? At that time, it is probable, he might have
called some five-sevenths of Samoa to his standard. And yet he sat
there, helpless monarch, like a fowl trussed for roasting. The
blame lies with himself, because he was a helpless creature; it
lies also with England and the States. Their agents on the spot
preached peace (where there was no peace, and no pretence of it)
with eloquence and iteration. Secretary Bayard seems to have felt
a call to join personally in the solemn farce, and was at the
expense of a telegram in which he assured the sinking monarch it
was "for the higher interests of Samoa" he should do nothing.
There was no man better at doing that; the advice came straight
home, and was devoutly followed. And to be just to the great
Powers, something was done in Europe; a conference was called, it
was agreed to send commissioners to Samoa, and the decks had to be
hastily cleared against their visit. Dr. Stuebel had attached the
municipality of Apia and hoisted the German war-flag over Mulinuu;
the American consul (in a sudden access of good service) had flown
the stars and stripes over Samoan colours; on either side these
steps were solemnly retracted. The Germans expressly disowned
Tamasese; and the islands fell into a period of suspense, of some
twelve months' duration, during which the seat of the history was
transferred to other countries and escapes my purview. Here on the
spot, I select three incidents: the arrival on the scene of a new
actor, the visit of the Hawaiian embassy, and the riot on the
Emperor's birthday. The rest shall be silence; only it must be
borne in view that Tamasese all the while continued to strengthen
himself in Leulumoenga, and Laupepa sat inactive listening to the
song of consuls.

Captain Brandeis. The new actor was Brandeis, a Bavarian captain
of artillery, of a romantic and adventurous character. He had
served with credit in war; but soon wearied of garrison life,
resigned his battery, came to the States, found employment as a
civil engineer, visited Cuba, took a sub-contract on the Panama
canal, caught the fever, and came (for the sake of the sea voyage)
to Australia. He had that natural love for the tropics which lies
so often latent in persons of a northern birth; difficulty and
danger attracted him; and when he was picked out for secret duty,
to be the hand of Germany in Samoa, there is no doubt but he
accepted the post with exhilaration. It is doubtful if a better
choice could have been made. He had courage, integrity, ideas of
his own, and loved the employment, the people, and the place. Yet
there was a fly in the ointment. The double error of unnecessary
stealth and of the immixture of a trading company in political
affairs, has vitiated, and in the end defeated, much German policy.
And Brandeis was introduced to the islands as a clerk, and sent
down to Leulumoenga (where he was soon drilling the troops and
fortifying the position of the rebel king) as an agent of the
German firm. What this mystification cost in the end I shall tell
in another place; and even in the beginning, it deceived no one.
Brandeis is a man of notable personal appearance; he looks the part
allotted him; and the military clerk was soon the centre of
observation and rumour. Malietoa wrote and complained of his
presence to Becker, who had succeeded Dr. Stuebel in the consulate.
Becker replied, "I have nothing to do with the gentleman Brandeis.
Be it well known that the gentleman Brandeis has no appointment in
a military character, but resides peaceably assisting the
government of Leulumoenga in their work, for Brandeis is a quiet,
sensible gentleman." And then he promised to send the vice-consul
to "get information of the captain's doings": surely
supererogation of deceit.

The Hawaiian Embassy. The prime minister of the Hawaiian kingdom
was, at this period, an adventurer of the name of Gibson. He
claimed, on the strength of a romantic story, to be the heir of a
great English house. He had played a part in a revolt in Java, had
languished in Dutch fetters, and had risen to be a trusted agent of
Brigham Young, the Utah president. It was in this character of a
Mormon emissary that he first came to the islands of Hawaii, where
he collected a large sum of money for the Church of the Latter Day
Saints. At a given moment, he dropped his saintship and appeared
as a Christian and the owner of a part of the island of Lanai. The
steps of the transformation are obscure; they seem, at least, to
have been ill-received at Salt Lake; and there is evidence to the
effect that he was followed to the islands by Mormon assassins.
His first attempt on politics was made under the auspices of what
is called the missionary party, and the canvass conducted largely
(it is said with tears) on the platform at prayer-meetings. It
resulted in defeat. Without any decency of delay he changed his
colours, abjured the errors of reform, and, with the support of the
Catholics, rose to the chief power. In a very brief interval he
had thus run through the gamut of religions in the South Seas. It
does not appear that he was any more particular in politics, but he
was careful to consult the character and prejudices of the late
king, Kalakaua. That amiable, far from unaccomplished, but too
convivial sovereign, had a continued use for money: Gibson was
observant to keep him well supplied. Kalakaua (one of the most
theoretical of men) was filled with visionary schemes for the
protection and development of the Polynesian race: Gibson fell in
step with him; it is even thought he may have shared in his
illusions. The king and minister at least conceived between them a
scheme of island confederation--the most obvious fault of which was
that it came too late--and armed and fitted out the cruiser
Kaimiloa, nest-egg of the future navy of Hawaii. Samoa, the most
important group still independent, and one immediately threatened
with aggression, was chosen for the scene of action. The Hon. John
E. Bush, a half-caste Hawaiian, sailed (December 1887) for Apia as
minister-plenipotentiary, accompanied by a secretary of legation,
Henry F. Poor; and as soon as she was ready for sea, the war-ship
followed in support. The expedition was futile in its course,
almost tragic in result. The Kaimiloa was from the first a scene
of disaster and dilapidation: the stores were sold; the crew
revolted; for a great part of a night she was in the hands of
mutineers, and the secretary lay bound upon the deck. The mission,
installing itself at first with extravagance in Matautu, was helped
at last out of the island by the advances of a private citizen.
And they returned from dreams of Polynesian independence to find
their own city in the hands of a clique of white shopkeepers, and
the great Gibson once again in gaol. Yet the farce had not been
quite without effect. It had encouraged the natives for the
moment, and it seems to have ruffled permanently the temper of the
Germans. So might a fly irritate Caesar.

The arrival of a mission from Hawaii would scarce affect the
composure of the courts of Europe. But in the eyes of Polynesians
the little kingdom occupies a place apart. It is there alone that
men of their race enjoy most of the advantages and all the pomp of
independence; news of Hawaii and descriptions of Honolulu are
grateful topics in all parts of the South Seas; and there is no
better introduction than a photograph in which the bearer shall be
represented in company with Kalakaua. Laupepa was, besides, sunk
to the point at which an unfortunate begins to clutch at straws,
and he received the mission with delight. Letters were exchanged
between him and Kalakaua; a deed of confederation was signed, 17th
February 1887, and the signature celebrated in the new house of the
Hawaiian embassy with some original ceremonies. Malietoa Laupepa
came, attended by his ministry, several hundred chiefs, two guards,
and six policemen. Always decent, he withdrew at an early hour; by
those that remained, all decency appears to have been forgotten;
high chiefs were seen to dance; and day found the house carpeted
with slumbering grandees, who must be roused, doctored with coffee,
and sent home. As a first chapter in the history of Polynesian
Confederation, it was hardly cheering, and Laupepa remarked to one
of the embassy, with equal dignity and sense: "If you have come
here to teach my people to drink, I wish you had stayed away."

The Germans looked on from the first with natural irritation that a
power of the powerlessness of Hawaii should thus profit by its
undeniable footing in the family of nations, and send embassies,
and make believe to have a navy, and bark and snap at the heels of
the great German Empire. But Becker could not prevent the hunted
Laupepa from taking refuge in any hole that offered, and he could
afford to smile at the fantastic orgie in the embassy. It was
another matter when the Hawaiians approached the intractable
Mataafa, sitting still in his Atua government like Achilles in his
tent, helping neither side, and (as the Germans suspected) keeping
the eggs warm for himself. When the Kaimiloa steamed out of Apia
on this visit, the German war-ship Adler followed at her heels; and
Mataafa was no sooner set down with the embassy than he was
summoned and ordered on board by two German officers. The step is
one of those triumphs of temper which can only be admired. Mataafa
is entertaining the plenipotentiary of a sovereign power in treaty
with his own king, and the captain of a German corvette orders him
to quit his guests.

But there was worse to come. I gather that Tamasese was at the
time in the sulks. He had doubtless been promised prompt aid and a
prompt success; he had seen himself surreptitiously helped,
privately ordered about, and publicly disowned; and he was still
the king of nothing more than his own province, and already the
second in command of Captain Brandeis. With the adhesion of some
part of his native cabinet, and behind the back of his white
minister, he found means to communicate with the Hawaiians. A
passage on the Kaimiloa, a pension, and a home in Honolulu were the
bribes proposed; and he seems to have been tempted. A day was set
for a secret interview. Poor, the Hawaiian secretary, and J. D.
Strong, an American painter attached to the embassy in the
surprising quality of "Government Artist," landed with a Samoan
boat's-crew in Aana; and while the secretary hid himself, according
to agreement, in the outlying home of an English settler, the
artist (ostensibly bent on photography) entered the headquarters of
the rebel king. It was a great day in Leulumoenga; three hundred
recruits had come in, a feast was cooking; and the photographer, in
view of the native love of being photographed, was made entirely
welcome. But beneath the friendly surface all were on the alert.
The secret had leaked out: Weber beheld his plans threatened in
the root; Brandeis trembled for the possession of his slave and
sovereign; and the German vice-consul, Mr. Sonnenschein, had been
sent or summoned to the scene of danger.

It was after dark, prayers had been said and the hymns sung through
all the village, and Strong and the German sat together on the mats
in the house of Tamasese, when the events began. Strong speaks
German freely, a fact which he had not disclosed, and he was scarce
more amused than embarrassed to be able to follow all the evening
the dissension and the changing counsels of his neighbours. First
the king himself was missing, and there was a false alarm that he
had escaped and was already closeted with Poor. Next came certain
intelligence that some of the ministry had run the blockade, and
were on their way to the house of the English settler. Thereupon,
in spite of some protests from Tamasese, who tried to defend the
independence of his cabinet, Brandeis gathered a posse of warriors,
marched out of the village, brought back the fugitives, and clapped
them in the corrugated iron shanty which served as gaol. Along
with these he seems to have seized Billy Coe, interpreter to the
Hawaiians; and Poor, seeing his conspiracy public, burst with his
boat's-crew into the town, made his way to the house of the native
prime minister, and demanded Coe's release. Brandeis hastened to
the spot, with Strong at his heels; and the two principals being
both incensed, and Strong seriously alarmed for his friend's
safety, there began among them a scene of great intemperance. At
one point, when Strong suddenly disclosed his acquaintance with
German, it attained a high style of comedy; at another, when a
pistol was most foolishly drawn, it bordered on drama; and it may
be said to have ended in a mixed genus, when Poor was finally
packed into the corrugated iron gaol along with the forfeited
ministers. Meanwhile the captain of his boat, Siteoni, of whom I
shall have to tell again, had cleverly withdrawn the boat's-crew at
an early stage of the quarrel. Among the population beyond
Tamasese's marches, he collected a body of armed men, returned
before dawn to Leulumoenga, demolished the corrugated iron gaol,
and liberated the Hawaiian secretary and the rump of the rebel
cabinet. No opposition was shown; and doubtless the rescue was
connived at by Brandeis, who had gained his point. Poor had the
face to complain the next day to Becker; but to compete with Becker
in effrontery was labour lost. "You have been repeatedly warned,
Mr. Poor, not to expose yourself among these savages," said he.

Not long after, the presence of the Kaimiloa was made a casus belli
by the Germans; and the rough-and-tumble embassy withdrew, on
borrowed money, to find their own government in hot water to the

The Emperor's Birthday. It is possible, and it is alleged, that
the Germans entered into the conference with hope. But it is
certain they were resolved to remain prepared for either fate. And
I take the liberty of believing that Laupepa was not forgiven his
duplicity; that, during this interval, he stood marked like a tree
for felling; and that his conduct was daily scrutinised for further
pretexts of offence. On the evening of the Emperor's birthday,
March 22nd, 1887, certain Germans were congregated in a public bar.
The season and the place considered, it is scarce cynical to assume
they had been drinking; nor, so much being granted, can it be
thought exorbitant to suppose them possibly in fault for the
squabble that took place. A squabble, I say; but I am willing to
call it a riot. And this was the new fault of Laupepa; this it is
that was described by a German commodore as "the trampling upon by
Malietoa of the German Emperor." I pass the rhetoric by to examine
the point of liability. Four natives were brought to trial for
this horrid fact: not before a native judge, but before the German
magistrate of the tripartite municipality of Apia. One was
acquitted, one condemned for theft, and two for assault. On
appeal, not to Malietoa, but to the three consuls, the case was by
a majority of two to one returned to the magistrate and (as far as
I can learn) was then allowed to drop. Consul Becker himself laid
the chief blame on one of the policemen of the municipality, a
half-white of the name of Scanlon. Him he sought to have
discharged, but was again baffled by his brother consuls. Where,
in all this, are we to find a corner of responsibility for the king
of Samoa? Scanlon, the alleged author of the outrage, was a half-
white; as Becker was to learn to his cost, he claimed to be an
American subject; and he was not even in the king's employment.
Apia, the scene of the outrage, was outside the king's jurisdiction
by treaty; by the choice of Germany, he was not so much as allowed
to fly his flag there. And the denial of justice (if justice were
denied) rested with the consuls of Britain and the States.

But when a dog is to be beaten, any stick will serve. In the
meanwhile, on the proposition of Mr. Bayard, the Washington
conference on Samoan affairs was adjourned till autumn, so that
"the ministers of Germany and Great Britain might submit the
protocols to their respective Governments." "You propose that the
conference is to adjourn and not to be broken up?" asked Sir Lionel
West. "To adjourn for the reasons stated," replied Bayard. This
was on July 26th; and, twenty-nine days later, by Wednesday the
24th of August, Germany had practically seized Samoa. For this
flagrant breach of faith one excuse is openly alleged; another
whispered. It is openly alleged that Bayard had shown himself
impracticable; it is whispered that the Hawaiian embassy was an
expression of American intrigue, and that the Germans only did as
they were done by. The sufficiency of these excuses may be left to
the discretion of the reader. But, however excused, the breach of
faith was public and express; it must have been deliberately
predetermined and it was resented in the States as a deliberate

By the middle of August 1887 there were five sail of German war-
ships in Apia bay: the Bismarck, of 3000 tons displacement; the
Carola, the Sophie, and the Olga, all considerable ships; and the
beautiful Adler, which lies there to this day, kanted on her beam,
dismantled, scarlet with rust, the day showing through her ribs.
They waited inactive, as a burglar waits till the patrol goes by.
And on the 23rd, when the mail had left for Sydney, when the eyes
of the world were withdrawn, and Samoa plunged again for a period
of weeks into her original island-obscurity, Becker opened his
guns. The policy was too cunning to seem dignified; it gave to
conduct which would otherwise have seemed bold and even brutally
straightforward, the appearance of a timid ambuscade; and helped to
shake men's reliance on the word of Germany. On the day named, an
ultimatum reached Malietoa at Afenga, whither he had retired months
before to avoid friction. A fine of one thousand dollars and an
ifo, or public humiliation, were demanded for the affair of the
Emperor's birthday. Twelve thousand dollars were to be "paid
quickly" for thefts from German plantations in the course of the
last four years. "It is my opinion that there is nothing just or
correct in Samoa while you are at the head of the government,"
concluded Becker. "I shall be at Afenga in the morning of to-
morrow, Wednesday, at 11 A.M." The blow fell on Laupepa (in his
own expression) "out of the bush"; the dilatory fellow had seen
things hang over so long, he had perhaps begun to suppose they
might hang over for ever; and here was ruin at the door. He rode
at once to Apia, and summoned his chiefs. The council lasted all
night long. Many voices were for defiance. But Laupepa had grown
inured to a policy of procrastination; and the answer ultimately
drawn only begged for delay till Saturday, the 27th. So soon as it
was signed, the king took horse and fled in the early morning to
Afenga; the council hastily dispersed; and only three chiefs, Selu,
Seumanu, and Le Mamea, remained by the government building,
tremulously expectant of the result.

By seven the letter was received. By 7.30 Becker arrived in
person, inquired for Laupepa, was evasively answered, and declared
war on the spot. Before eight, the Germans (seven hundred men and
six guns) came ashore and seized and hoisted German colours on the
government building. The three chiefs had made good haste to
escape; but a considerable booty was made of government papers,
fire-arms, and some seventeen thousand cartridges. Then followed a
scene which long rankled in the minds of the white inhabitants,
when the German marines raided the town in search of Malietoa,
burst into private houses, and were accused (I am willing to
believe on slender grounds) of violence to private persons.

On the morrow, the 25th, one of the German war-ships, which had
been despatched to Leulumoenga over night re-entered the bay,
flying the Tamasese colours at the fore. The new king was given a
royal salute of twenty-one guns, marched through the town by the
commodore and a German guard of honour, and established on Mulinuu
with two or three hundred warriors. Becker announced his
recognition to the other consuls. These replied by proclaiming
Malietoa, and in the usual mealy-mouthed manner advised Samoans to
do nothing. On the 27th martial law was declared; and on the 1st
September the German squadron dispersed about the group, bearing
along with them the proclamations of the new king. Tamasese was
now a great man, to have five iron war-ships for his post-runners.
But the moment was critical. The revolution had to be explained,
the chiefs persuaded to assemble at a fono summoned for the 15th;
and the ships carried not only a store of printed documents, but a
squad of Tamasese orators upon their round.

Such was the German coup d'etat. They had declared war with a
squadron of five ships upon a single man; that man, late king of
the group, was in hiding on the mountains; and their own nominee,
backed by German guns and bayonets, sat in his stead in Mulinuu.

One of the first acts of Malietoa, on fleeing to the bush, was to
send for Mataafa twice: "I am alone in the bush; if you do not
come quickly you will find me bound." It is to be understood the
men were near kinsmen, and had (if they had nothing else) a common
jealousy. At the urgent cry, Mataafa set forth from Falefa, and
came to Mulinuu to Tamasese. "What is this that you and the German
commodore have decided on doing?" he inquired. "I am going to obey
the German consul," replied Tamasese, "whose wish it is that I
should be the king and that all Samoa should assemble here." "Do
not pursue in wrath against Malietoa," said Mataafa "but try to
bring about a compromise, and form a united government." "Very
well," said Tamasese, "leave it to me, and I will try." From
Mulinuu, Mataafa went on board the Bismarck, and was graciously
received. "Probably," said the commodore, "we shall bring about a
reconciliation of all Samoa through you"; and then asked his
visitor if he bore any affection to Malietoa. "Yes," said Mataafa.
"And to Tamasese?" "To him also; and if you desire the weal of
Samoa, you will allow either him or me to bring about a
reconciliation." "If it were my will," said the commodore, "I
would do as you say. But I have no will in the matter. I have
instructions from the Kaiser, and I cannot go back again from what
I have been sent to do." "I thought you would be commanded," said
Mataafa, "if you brought about the weal of Samoa." "I will tell
you," said the commodore. "All shall go quietly. But there is one
thing that must be done: Malietoa must be deposed. I will do
nothing to him beyond; he will only be kept on board for a couple
of months and be well treated, just as we Germans did to the French
chief [Napoleon III.] some time ago, whom we kept a while and cared
for well." Becker was no less explicit: war, he told Sewall,
should not cease till the Germans had custody of Malietoa and
Tamasese should be recognised.

Meantime, in the Malietoa provinces, a profound impression was
received. People trooped to their fugitive sovereign in the bush.
Many natives in Apia brought their treasures, and stored them in
the houses of white friends. The Tamasese orators were sometimes
ill received. Over in Savaii, they found the village of Satupaitea
deserted, save for a few lads at cricket. These they harangued,
and were rewarded with ironical applause; and the proclamation, as
soon as they had departed, was torn down. For this offence the
village was ultimately burned by German sailors, in a very decent
and orderly style, on the 3rd September. This was the dinner-bell
of the fono on the 15th. The threat conveyed in the terms of the
summons--"If any government district does not quickly obey this
direction, I will make war on that government district"--was thus
commented on and reinforced. And the meeting was in consequence
well attended by chiefs of all parties. They found themselves
unarmed among the armed warriors of Tamasese and the marines of the
German squadron, and under the guns of five strong ships. Brandeis
rose; it was his first open appearance, the German firm signing its
revolutionary work. His words were few and uncompromising: "Great
are my thanks that the chiefs and heads of families of the whole of
Samoa are assembled here this day. It is strictly forbidden that
any discussion should take place as to whether it is good or not
that Tamasese is king of Samoa, whether at this fono or at any
future fono. I place for your signature the following: 'We inform
all the people of Samoa of what follows: (1) The government of
Samoa has been assumed by King Tuiaana Tamasese. (2) By order of
the king, it was directed that a fono should take place to-day,
composed of the chiefs and heads of families, and we have obeyed
the summons. We have signed our names under this, 15th September
1887." Needs must under all these guns; and the paper was signed,
but not without open sullenness. The bearing of Mataafa in
particular was long remembered against him by the Germans. "Do you
not see the king?" said the commodore reprovingly. "His father was
no king," was the bold answer. A bolder still has been printed,
but this is Mataafa's own recollection of the passage. On the next
day, the chiefs were all ordered back to shake hands with Tamasese.
Again they obeyed; but again their attitude was menacing, and some,
it is said, audibly murmured as they gave their hands.

It is time to follow the poor Sheet of Paper (literal meaning of
Laupepa), who was now to be blown so broadly over the face of
earth. As soon as news reached him of the declaration of war, he
fled from Afenga to Tanungamanono, a hamlet in the bush, about a
mile and a half behind Apia, where he lurked some days. On the
24th, Selu, his secretary, despatched to the American consul an
anxious appeal, his majesty's "cry and prayer" in behalf of "this
weak people." By August 30th, the Germans had word of his lurking-
place, surrounded the hamlet under cloud of night, and in the early
morning burst with a force of sailors on the houses. The people
fled on all sides, and were fired upon. One boy was shot in the
hand, the first blood of the war. But the king was nowhere to be
found; he had wandered farther, over the woody mountains, the
backbone of the land, towards Siumu and Safata. Here, in a safe
place, he built himself a town in the forest, where he received a
continual stream of visitors and messengers. Day after day the
German blue-jackets were employed in the hopeless enterprise of
beating the forests for the fugitive; day after day they were
suffered to pass unhurt under the guns of ambushed Samoans; day
after day they returned, exhausted and disappointed, to Apia.
Seumanu Tafa, high chief of Apia, was known to be in the forest
with the king; his wife, Fatuila, was seized, imprisoned in the
German hospital, and when it was thought her spirit was
sufficiently reduced, brought up for cross-examination. The wise
lady confined herself in answer to a single word. "Is your husband
near Apia?" "Yes." "Is he far from Apia?" "Yes." "Is he with the
king?" "Yes." "Are he and the king in different places?" "Yes."
Whereupon the witness was discharged. About the 10th of September,
Laupepa was secretly in Apia at the American consulate with two
companions. The German pickets were close set and visited by a
strong patrol; and on his return, his party was observed and hailed
and fired on by a sentry. They ran away on all fours in the dark,
and so doing plumped upon another sentry, whom Laupepa grappled and
flung in a ditch; for the Sheet of Paper, although infirm of
character, is, like most Samoans, of an able body. The second
sentry (like the first) fired after his assailants at random in the
dark; and the two shots awoke the curiosity of Apia. On the
afternoon of the 16th, the day of the hand-shakings, Suatele, a
high chief, despatched two boys across the island with a letter.
They were most of the night upon the road; it was near three in the
morning before the sentries in the camp of Malietoa beheld their
lantern drawing near out of the wood; but the king was at once
awakened. The news was decisive and the letter peremptory; if
Malietoa did not give himself up before ten on the morrow, he was
told that great sorrows must befall his country. I have not been
able to draw Laupepa as a hero; but he is a man of certain virtues,
which the Germans had now given him an occasion to display.
Without hesitation he sacrificed himself, penned his touching
farewell to Samoa, and making more expedition than the messengers,
passed early behind Apia to the banks of the Vaisingano. As he
passed, he detached a messenger to Mataafa at the Catholic mission.
Mataafa followed by the same road, and the pair met at the river-
side and went and sat together in a house. All present were in
tears. "Do not let us weep," said the talking man, Lauati. "We
have no cause for shame. We do not yield to Tamasese, but to the
invincible strangers." The departing king bequeathed the care of
his country to Mataafa; and when the latter sought to console him
with the commodore's promises, he shook his head, and declared his
assurance that he was going to a life of exile, and perhaps to
death. About two o'clock the meeting broke up; Mataafa returned to
the Catholic mission by the back of the town; and Malietoa
proceeded by the beach road to the German naval hospital, where he
was received (as he owns, with perfect civility) by Brandeis.
About three, Becker brought him forth again. As they went to the
wharf, the people wept and clung to their departing monarch. A
boat carried him on board the Bismarck, and he vanished from his
countrymen. Yet it was long rumoured that he still lay in the
harbour; and so late as October 7th, a boy, who had been paddling
round the Carola, professed to have seen and spoken with him. Here
again the needless mystery affected by the Germans bitterly
disserved them. The uncertainty which thus hung over Laupepa's
fate, kept his name continually in men's mouths. The words of his
farewell rang in their ears: "To all Samoa: On account of my
great love to my country and my great affection to all Samoa, this
is the reason that I deliver up my body to the German government.
That government may do as they wish to me. The reason of this is,
because I do not desire that the blood of Samoa shall be spilt for
me again. But I do not know what is my offence which has caused
their anger to me and to my country." And then, apostrophising the
different provinces: "Tuamasanga, farewell! Manono and family,
farewell! So, also, Salafai, Tutuila, Aana, and Atua, farewell!
If we do not again see one another in this world, pray that we may
be again together above." So the sheep departed with the halo of a
saint, and men thought of him as of some King Arthur snatched into

On board the Bismarck, the commodore shook hands with him, told him
he was to be "taken away from all the chiefs with whom he had been
accustomed," and had him taken to the wardroom under guard. The
next day he was sent to sea in the Adler. There went with him his
brother Moli, one Meisake, and one Alualu, half-caste German, to
interpret. He was respectfully used; he dined in the stern with
the officers, but the boys dined "near where the fire was." They
come to a "newly-formed place" in Australia, where the Albatross
was lying, and a British ship, which he knew to be a man-of-war
"because the officers were nicely dressed and wore epaulettes."
Here he was transhipped, "in a boat with a screen," which he
supposed was to conceal him from the British ship; and on board the
Albatross was sent below and told he must stay there till they had
sailed. Later, however, he was allowed to come on deck, where he
found they had rigged a screen (perhaps an awning) under which he
walked, looking at "the newly-formed settlement," and admiring a
big house "where he was sure the governor lived." From Australia,
they sailed some time, and reached an anchorage where a consul-
general came on board, and where Laupepa was only allowed on deck
at night. He could then see the lights of a town with wharves; he
supposes Cape Town. Off the Cameroons they anchored or lay-to, far
at sea, and sent a boat ashore to see (he supposes) that there was
no British man-of-war. It was the next morning before the boat
returned, when the Albatross stood in and came to anchor near
another German ship. Here Alualu came to him on deck and told him
this was the place. "That is an astonishing thing," said he. "I
thought I was to go to Germany, I do not know what this means; I do
not know what will be the end of it; my heart is troubled."
Whereupon Alualu burst into tears. A little after, Laupepa was
called below to the captain and the governor. The last addressed
him: "This is my own place, a good place, a warm place. My house
is not yet finished, but when it is, you shall live in one of my
rooms until I can make a house for you." Then he was taken ashore
and brought to a tall, iron house. "This house is regulated," said
the governor; "there is no fire allowed to burn in it." In one
part of this house, weapons of the government were hung up; there
was a passage, and on the other side of the passage, fifty
criminals were chained together, two and two, by the ankles. The
windows were out of reach; and there was only one door, which was
opened at six in the morning and shut again at six at night. All
day he had his liberty, went to the Baptist Mission, and walked
about viewing the negroes, who were "like the sand on the seashore"
for number. At six they were called into the house and shut in for
the night without beds or lights. "Although they gave me no
light," said he, with a smile, "I could see I was in a prison."
Good food was given him: biscuits, "tea made with warm water,"
beef, etc.; all excellent. Once, in their walks, they spied a
breadfruit tree bearing in the garden of an English merchant, ran
back to the prison to get a shilling, and came and offered to
purchase. "I am not going to sell breadfruit to you people," said
the merchant; "come and take what you like." Here Malietoa
interrupted himself to say it was the only tree bearing in the
Cameroons. "The governor had none, or he would have given it to
me." On the passage from the Cameroons to Germany, he had great
delight to see the cliffs of England. He saw "the rocks shining in
the sun, and three hours later was surprised to find them sunk in
the heavens." He saw also wharves and immense buildings; perhaps
Dover and its castle. In Hamburg, after breakfast, Mr. Weber, who
had now finally "ceased from troubling" Samoa, came on board, and
carried him ashore "suitably" in a steam launch to "a large house
of the government," where he stayed till noon. At noon Weber told
him he was going to "the place where ships are anchored that go to
Samoa," and led him to "a very magnificent house, with carriages
inside and a wonderful roof of glass"; to wit, the railway station.
They were benighted on the train, and then went in "something with
a house, drawn by horses, which had windows and many decks";
plainly an omnibus. Here (at Bremen or Bremerhaven, I believe)
they stayed some while in "a house of five hundred rooms"; then
were got on board the Nurnberg (as they understood) for Samoa,
anchored in England on a Sunday, were joined en route by the famous
Dr. Knappe, passed through "a narrow passage where they went very
slow and which was just like a river," and beheld with exhilarated
curiosity that Red Sea of which they had learned so much in their
Bibles. At last, "at the hour when the fires burn red," they came
to a place where was a German man-of-war. Laupepa was called, with
one of the boys, on deck, when he found a German officer awaiting
him, and a steam launch alongside, and was told he must now leave
his brother and go elsewhere. "I cannot go like this," he cried.
"You must let me see my brother and the other old men"--a term of
courtesy. Knappe, who seems always to have been good-natured,
revised his orders, and consented not only to an interview, but to
allow Moli to continue to accompany the king. So these two were
carried to the man-of-war, and sailed many a day, still supposing
themselves bound for Samoa; and lo! she came to a country the like
of which they had never dreamed of, and cast anchor in the great
lagoon of Jaluit; and upon that narrow land the exiles were set on
shore. This was the part of his captivity on which he looked back
with the most bitterness. It was the last, for one thing, and he
was worn down with the long suspense, and terror, and deception.
He could not bear the brackish water; and though "the Germans were
still good to him, and gave him beef and biscuit and tea," he
suffered from the lack of vegetable food.

Such is the narrative of this simple exile. I have not sought to
correct it by extraneous testimony. It is not so much the facts
that are historical, as the man's attitude. No one could hear this
tale as he originally told it in my hearing--I think none can read
it as here condensed and unadorned--without admiring the fairness
and simplicity of the Samoan; and wondering at the want of heart--
or want of humour--in so many successive civilised Germans, that
they should have continued to surround this infant with the secrecy
of state.

September '87 to August '88

So Tamasese was on the throne, and Brandeis behind it; and I have
now to deal with their brief and luckless reign. That it was the
reign of Brandeis needs not to be argued: the policy is throughout
that of an able, over-hasty white, with eyes and ideas. But it
should be borne in mind that he had a double task, and must first
lead his sovereign, before he could begin to drive their common
subjects. Meanwhile, he himself was exposed (if all tales be true)
to much dictation and interference, and to some "cumbrous aid,"
from the consulate and the firm. And to one of these aids, the
suppression of the municipality, I am inclined to attribute his
ultimate failure.

The white enemies of the new regimen were of two classes. In the
first stood Moors and the employes of MacArthur, the two chief
rivals of the firm, who saw with jealousy a clerk (or a so-called
clerk) of their competitors advanced to the chief power. The
second class, that of the officials, numbered at first exactly one.
Wilson, the English acting consul, is understood to have held
strict orders to help Germany. Commander Leary, of the Adams, the
American captain, when he arrived, on the 16th October, and for
some time after, seemed devoted to the German interest, and spent
his days with a German officer, Captain Von Widersheim, who was
deservedly beloved by all who knew him. There remains the American
consul-general, Harold Marsh Sewall, a young man of high spirit and
a generous disposition. He had obeyed the orders of his government
with a grudge; and looked back on his past action with regret
almost to be called repentance. From the moment of the declaration
of war against Laupepa, we find him standing forth in bold,
consistent, and sometimes rather captious opposition, stirring up
his government at home with clear and forcible despatches, and on
the spot grasping at every opportunity to thrust a stick into the
German wheels. For some while, he and Moors fought their difficult
battle in conjunction; in the course of which, first one, and then
the other, paid a visit home to reason with the authorities at
Washington; and during the consul's absence, there was found an
American clerk in Apia, William Blacklock, to perform the duties of
the office with remarkable ability and courage. The three names
just brought together, Sewall, Moors, and Blacklock, make the head
and front of the opposition; if Tamasese fell, if Brandeis was
driven forth, if the treaty of Berlin was signed, theirs is the
blame or the credit.

To understand the feelings of self-reproach and bitterness with
which Sewall took the field, the reader must see Laupepa's letter
of farewell to the consuls of England and America. It is singular
that this far from brilliant or dignified monarch, writing in the
forest, in heaviness of spirit and under pressure for time, should
have left behind him not only one, but two remarkable and most
effective documents. The farewell to his people was touching; the
farewell to the consuls, for a man of the character of Sewall, must
have cut like a whip. "When the chief Tamasese and others first
moved the present troubles," he wrote, "it was my wish to punish
them and put an end to the rebellion; but I yielded to the advice
of the British and American consuls. Assistance and protection was
repeatedly promised to me and my government, if I abstained from
bringing war upon my country. Relying upon these promises, I did
not put down the rebellion. Now I find that war has been made upon
me by the Emperor of Germany, and Tamasese has been proclaimed king
of Samoa. I desire to remind you of the promises so frequently
made by your government, and trust that you will so far redeem them
as to cause the lives and liberties of my chiefs and people to be

Sewall's immediate adversary was, of course, Becker. I have formed
an opinion of this gentleman, largely from his printed despatches,
which I am at a loss to put in words. Astute, ingenious, capable,
at moments almost witty with a kind of glacial wit in action, he
displayed in the course of this affair every description of
capacity but that which is alone useful and which springs from a
knowledge of men's natures. It chanced that one of Sewall's early
moves played into his hands, and he was swift to seize and to
improve the advantage. The neutral territory and the tripartite
municipality of Apia were eyesores to the German consulate and
Brandeis. By landing Tamasese's two or three hundred warriors at
Mulinuu, as Becker himself owns, they had infringed the treaties,
and Sewall entered protest twice. There were two ways of escaping
this dilemma: one was to withdraw the warriors; the other, by some
hocus-pocus, to abrogate the neutrality. And the second had
subsidiary advantages: it would restore the taxes of the richest
district in the islands to the Samoan king; and it would enable
them to substitute over the royal seat the flag of Germany for the
new flag of Tamasese. It is true (and it was the subject of much
remark) that these two could hardly be distinguished by the naked
eye; but their effects were different. To seat the puppet king on
German land and under German colours, so that any rebellion was
constructive war on Germany, was a trick apparently invented by
Becker, and which we shall find was repeated and persevered in till
the end.

Otto Martin was at this time magistrate in the municipality. The
post was held in turn by the three nationalities; Martin had served
far beyond his term, and should have been succeeded months before
by an American. To make the change it was necessary to hold a
meeting of the municipal board, consisting of the three consuls,
each backed by an assessor. And for some time these meetings had
been evaded or refused by the German consul. As long as it was
agreed to continue Martin, Becker had attended regularly; as soon
as Sewall indicated a wish for his removal, Becker tacitly
suspended the municipality by refusing to appear. This policy was
now the more necessary; for if the whole existence of the
municipality were a check on the freedom of the new government, it
was plainly less so when the power to enforce and punish lay in
German hands. For some while back the Malietoa flag had been flown
on the municipal building: Becker denies this; I am sorry; my
information obliges me to suppose he is in error. Sewall, with
post-mortem loyalty to the past, insisted that this flag should be
continued. And Becker immediately made his point. He declared,
justly enough, that the proposal was hostile, and argued that it
was impossible he should attend a meeting under a flag with which
his sovereign was at war. Upon one occasion of urgency, he was
invited to meet the two other consuls at the British consulate;
even this he refused; and for four months the municipality
slumbered, Martin still in office. In the month of October, in
consequence, the British and American ratepayers announced they
would refuse to pay. Becker doubtless rubbed his hands. On
Saturday, the 10th, the chief Tamaseu, a Malietoa man of substance
and good character, was arrested on a charge of theft believed to
be vexatious, and cast by Martin into the municipal prison. He
sent to Moors, who was his tenant and owed him money at the time,
for bail. Moors applied to Sewall, ranking consul. After some
search, Martin was found and refused to consider bail before the
Monday morning. Whereupon Sewall demanded the keys from the
gaoler, accepted Moors's verbal recognisances, and set Tamaseu

Things were now at a deadlock; and Becker astonished every one by
agreeing to a meeting on the 14th. It seems he knew what to
expect. Writing on the 13th at least, he prophesies that the
meeting will be held in vain, that the municipality must lapse, and
the government of Tamasese step in. On the 14th, Sewall left his
consulate in time, and walked some part of the way to the place of
meeting in company with Wilson, the English pro-consul. But he had
forgotten a paper, and in an evil hour returned for it alone.
Wilson arrived without him, and Becker broke up the meeting for
want of a quorum. There was some unedifying disputation as to
whether he had waited ten or twenty minutes, whether he had been
officially or unofficially informed by Wilson that Sewall was on
the way, whether the statement had been made to himself or to Weber
{1} in answer to a question, and whether he had heard Wilson's
answer or only Weber's question: all otiose; if he heard the
question, he was bound to have waited for the answer; if he heard
it not, he should have put it himself; and it was the manifest
truth that he rejoiced in his occasion. "Sir," he wrote to Sewall,
"I have the honour to inform you that, to my regret, I am obliged
to consider the municipal government to be provisionally in
abeyance since you have withdrawn your consent to the continuation
of Mr. Martin in his position as magistrate, and since you have
refused to take part in the meeting of the municipal board agreed
to for the purpose of electing a magistrate. The government of the
town and district of the municipality rests, as long as the
municipality is in abeyance, with the Samoan government. The
Samoan government has taken over the administration, and has
applied to the commander of the imperial German squadron for
assistance in the preservation of good order." This letter was not
delivered until 4 P.M. By three, sailors had been landed. Already
German colours flew over Tamasese's headquarters at Mulinuu, and
German guards had occupied the hospital, the German consulate, and
the municipal gaol and court-house, where they stood to arms under
the flag of Tamasese. The same day Sewall wrote to protest.
Receiving no reply, he issued on the morrow a proclamation bidding
all Americans look to himself alone. On the 26th, he wrote again
to Becker, and on the 27th received this genial reply: "Sir, your
high favour of the 26th of this month, I give myself the honour of
acknowledging. At the same time I acknowledge the receipt of your
high favour of the 14th October in reply to my communication of the
same date, which contained the information of the suspension of the
arrangements for the municipal government." There the
correspondence ceased. And on the 18th January came the last step
of this irritating intrigue when Tamasese appointed a judge--and
the judge proved to be Martin.

Thus was the adventure of the Castle Municipal achieved by Sir
Becker the chivalrous. The taxes of Apia, the gaol, the police,
all passed into the hands of Tamasese-Brandeis; a German was
secured upon the bench; and the German flag might wave over her
puppet unquestioned. But there is a law of human nature which
diplomatists should be taught at school, and it seems they are not;
that men can tolerate bare injustice, but not the combination of
injustice and subterfuge. Hence the chequered career of the
thimble-rigger. Had the municipality been seized by open force,
there might have been complaint, it would not have aroused the same
lasting grudge.

This grudge was an ill gift to bring to Brandeis, who had trouble
enough in front of him without. He was an alien, he was supported
by the guns of alien war-ships, and he had come to do an alien's
work, highly needful for Samoa, but essentially unpopular with all
Samoans. The law to be enforced, causes of dispute between white
and brown to be eliminated, taxes to be raised, a central power
created, the country opened up, the native race taught industry:
all these were detestable to the natives, and to all of these he
must set his hand. The more I learn of his brief term of rule, the
more I learn to admire him, and to wish we had his like.

In the face of bitter native opposition, he got some roads
accomplished. He set up beacons. The taxes he enforced with
necessary vigour. By the 6th of January, Aua and Fangatonga,
districts in Tutuila, having made a difficulty, Brandeis is down at
the island in a schooner, with the Adler at his heels, seizes the
chief Maunga, fines the recalcitrant districts in three hundred
dollars for expenses, and orders all to be in by April 20th, which
if it is not, "not one thing will be done," he proclaimed, "but war
declared against you, and the principal chiefs taken to a distant
island." He forbade mortgages of copra, a frequent source of
trickery and quarrel; and to clear off those already contracted,
passed a severe but salutary law. Each individual or family was
first to pay off its own obligation; that settled, the free man was
to pay for the indebted village, the free village for the indebted
province, and one island for another. Samoa, he declared, should
be free of debt within a year. Had he given it three years, and
gone more gently, I believe it might have been accomplished. To
make it the more possible, he sought to interdict the natives from
buying cotton stuffs and to oblige them to dress (at least for the
time) in their own tapa. He laid the beginnings of a royal
territorial army. The first draft was in his hands drilling. But
it was not so much on drill that he depended; it was his hope to
kindle in these men an esprit de corps, which should weaken the old
local jealousies and bonds, and found a central or national party
in the islands. Looking far before, and with a wisdom beyond that
of many merchants, he had condemned the single dependence placed on
copra for the national livelihood. His recruits, even as they
drilled, were taught to plant cacao. Each, his term of active
service finished, should return to his own land and plant and
cultivate a stipulated area. Thus, as the young men continued to
pass through the army, habits of discipline and industry, a central
sentiment, the principles of the new culture, and actual gardens of
cacao, should be concurrently spread over the face of the islands.

Tamasese received, including his household expenses, 1960 dollars a
year; Brandeis, 2400. All such disproportions are regrettable, but
this is not extreme: we have seen horses of a different colour
since then. And the Tamaseseites, with true Samoan ostentation,
offered to increase the salary of their white premier: an offer he
had the wisdom and good feeling to refuse. A European chief of
police received twelve hundred. There were eight head judges, one
to each province, and appeal lay from the district judge to the
provincial, thence to Mulinuu. From all salaries (I gather) a
small monthly guarantee was withheld. The army was to cost from
three to four thousand, Apia (many whites refusing to pay taxes
since the suppression of the municipality) might cost three
thousand more: Sir Becker's high feat of arms coming expensive (it
will be noticed) even in money. The whole outlay was estimated at
twenty-seven thousand; and the revenue forty thousand: a sum Samoa
is well able to pay.

Such were the arrangements and some of the ideas of this strong,
ardent, and sanguine man. Of criticisms upon his conduct, beyond
the general consent that he was rather harsh and in too great a
hurry, few are articulate. The native paper of complaints was
particularly childish. Out of twenty-three counts, the first two
refer to the private character of Brandeis and Tamasese. Three
complain that Samoan officials were kept in the dark as to the
finances; one, of the tapa law; one, of the direct appointment of
chiefs by Tamasese-Brandeis, the sort of mistake into which
Europeans in the South Seas fall so readily; one, of the enforced
labour of chiefs; one, of the taxes; and one, of the roads. This I
may give in full from the very lame translation in the American
white book. "The roads that were made were called the Government
Roads; they were six fathoms wide. Their making caused much damage
to Samoa's lands and what was planted on it. The Samoans cried on
account of their lands, which were taken high-handedly and abused.
They again cried on account of the loss of what they had planted,
which was now thrown away in a high-handed way, without any regard
being shown or question asked of the owner of the land, or any
compensation offered for the damage done. This was different with
foreigners' land; in their case permission was first asked to make
the roads; the foreigners were paid for any destruction made." The
sting of this count was, I fancy, in the last clause. No less than
six articles complain of the administration of the law; and I
believe that was never satisfactory. Brandeis told me himself he
was never yet satisfied with any native judge. And men say (and it
seems to fit in well with his hasty and eager character) that he
would legislate by word of mouth; sometimes forget what he had
said; and, on the same question arising in another province, decide
it perhaps otherwise. I gather, on the whole, our artillery
captain was not great in law. Two articles refer to a matter I
must deal with more at length, and rather from the point of view of
the white residents.

The common charge against Brandeis was that of favouring the German
firm. Coming as he did, this was inevitable. Weber had bought
Steinberger with hard cash; that was matter of history. The
present government he did not even require to buy, having founded
it by his intrigues, and introduced the premier to Samoa through
the doors of his own office. And the effect of the initial blunder
was kept alive by the chatter of the clerks in bar-rooms, boasting
themselves of the new government and prophesying annihilation to
all rivals. The time of raising a tax is the harvest of the
merchants; it is the time when copra will be made, and must be
sold; and the intention of the German firm, first in the time of
Steinberger, and again in April and May, 1888, with Brandeis, was
to seize and handle the whole operation. Their chief rivals were
the Messrs. MacArthur; and it seems beyond question that provincial
governors more than once issued orders forbidding Samoans to take
money from "the New Zealand firm." These, when they were brought
to his notice, Brandeis disowned, and he is entitled to be heard.
No man can live long in Samoa and not have his honesty impugned.
But the accusations against Brandeis's veracity are both few and
obscure. I believe he was as straight as his sword. The governors
doubtless issued these orders, but there were plenty besides
Brandeis to suggest them. Every wandering clerk from the firm's
office, every plantation manager, would be dinning the same story
in the native ear. And here again the initial blunder hung about
the neck of Brandeis, a ton's weight. The natives, as well as the
whites, had seen their premier masquerading on a stool in the
office; in the eyes of the natives, as well as in those of the
whites, he must always have retained the mark of servitude from
that ill-judged passage; and they would be inclined to look behind
and above him, to the great house of Misi Ueba. The government was
like a vista of puppets. People did not trouble with Tamasese, if
they got speech with Brandeis; in the same way, they might not
always trouble to ask Brandeis, if they had a hint direct from Misi
Ueba. In only one case, though it seems to have had many
developments, do I find the premier personally committed. The
MacArthurs claimed the copra of Fasitotai on a district mortgage of
three hundred dollars. The German firm accepted a mortgage of the
whole province of Aana, claimed the copra of Fasitotai as that of a
part of Aana, and were supported by the government. Here Brandeis
was false to his own principle, that personal and village debts
should come before provincial. But the case occurred before the
promulgation of the law, and was, as a matter of fact, the cause of
it; so the most we can say is that he changed his mind, and changed
it for the better. If the history of his government be considered-
-how it originated in an intrigue between the firm and the
consulate, and was (for the firm's sake alone) supported by the
consulate with foreign bayonets--the existence of the least doubt
on the man's action must seem marvellous. We should have looked to
find him playing openly and wholly into their hands; that he did
not, implies great independence and much secret friction; and I
believe (if the truth were known) the firm would be found to have
been disgusted with the stubbornness of its intended tool, and
Brandeis often impatient of the demands of his creators.

But I may seem to exaggerate the degree of white opposition. And
it is true that before fate overtook the Brandeis government, it
appeared to enjoy the fruits of victory in Apia; and one dissident,
the unconquerable Moors, stood out alone to refuse his taxes. But
the victory was in appearance only; the opposition was latent; it
found vent in talk, and thus reacted on the natives; upon the least
excuse, it was ready to flame forth again. And this is the more
singular because some were far from out of sympathy with the native
policy pursued. When I met Captain Brandeis, he was amazed at my
attitude. "Whom did you find in Apia to tell you so much good of
me?" he asked. I named one of my informants. "He?" he cried. "If
he thought all that, why did he not help me?" I told him as well
as I was able. The man was a merchant. He beheld in the
government of Brandeis a government created by and for the firm who
were his rivals. If Brandeis were minded to deal fairly, where was
the probability that he would be allowed? If Brandeis insisted and
were strong enough to prevail, what guarantee that, as soon as the
government were fairly accepted, Brandeis might not be removed?
Here was the attitude of the hour; and I am glad to find it clearly
set forth in a despatch of Sewall's, June 18th, 1888, when he
commends the law against mortgages, and goes on: "Whether the
author of this law will carry out the good intentions which he
professes--whether he will be allowed to do so, if he desires,
against the opposition of those who placed him in power and protect
him in the possession of it--may well be doubted." Brandeis had
come to Apia in the firm's livery. Even while he promised
neutrality in commerce, the clerks were prating a different story
in the bar-rooms; and the late high feat of the knight-errant,
Becker, had killed all confidence in Germans at the root. By these
three impolicies, the German adventure in Samoa was defeated.

I imply that the handful of whites were the true obstacle, not the
thousands of malcontent Samoans; for had the whites frankly
accepted Brandeis, the path of Germany was clear, and the end of
their policy, however troublesome might be its course, was obvious.
But this is not to say that the natives were content. In a sense,
indeed, their opposition was continuous. There will always be
opposition in Samoa when taxes are imposed; and the deportation of
Malietoa stuck in men's throats. Tuiatua Mataafa refused to act
under the new government from the beginning, and Tamasese usurped
his place and title. As early as February, I find him signing
himself "Tuiaana Tuiatua Tamasese," the first step on a dangerous
path. Asi, like Mataafa, disclaimed his chiefship and declared
himself a private person; but he was more rudely dealt with.
German sailors surrounded his house in the night, burst in, and
dragged the women out of the mosquito nets--an offence against
Samoan manners. No Asi was to be found; but at last they were
shown his fishing-lights on the reef, rowed out, took him as he
was, and carried him on board a man-of-war, where he was detained
some while between-decks. At last, January 16th, after a farewell
interview over the ship's side with his wife, he was discharged
into a ketch, and along with two other chiefs, Maunga and Tuiletu-
funga, deported to the Marshalls. The blow struck fear upon all
sides. Le Mamea (a very able chief) was secretly among the
malcontents. His family and followers murmured at his weakness;
but he continued, throughout the duration of the government, to
serve Brandeis with trembling. A circus coming to Apia, he seized
at the pretext for escape, and asked leave to accept an engagement
in the company. "I will not allow you to make a monkey of
yourself," said Brandeis; and the phrase had a success throughout
the islands, pungent expressions being so much admired by the
natives that they cannot refrain from repeating them, even when
they have been levelled at themselves. The assumption of the Atua
name spread discontent in that province; many chiefs from thence
were convicted of disaffection, and condemned to labour with their
hands upon the roads--a great shock to the Samoan sense of the
becoming, which was rendered the more sensible by the death of one
of the number at his task. Mataafa was involved in the same
trouble. His disaffected speech at a meeting of Atua chiefs was
betrayed by the girls that made the kava, and the man of the future
was called to Apia on safe-conduct, but, after an interview,
suffered to return to his lair. The peculiarly tender treatment of
Mataafa must be explained by his relationship to Tamasese. Laupepa
was of Malietoa blood. The hereditary retainers of the Tupua would

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