No. 304.
Mr. Moran to Mr. Fish.

No. 498.]

Sir: With reference to my No. 478, of the 9th ultimo, in regard to the alleged transfer of the sovereignty of the Fiji Islands to Great Britain, [Page 507] I have now the honor to send herewith a copy of a newspaper telegram of the 15th instant from Melbourne on the subject, and also two copies of a paper just presented to both houses of Parliament, by command of the queen, containing a letter addressed by Lord Kimberley to Commodore Goodenough, royal navy, and E. L. Layard, esq., Her Majesty’s consul in Fiji, instructing them, as commissioners, to report upon various questions connected with those islands, and especially with a view to the assumption of sovereignty over them by Great Britain.

Although it has not yet been announced that Great Britain will accept the rule of these islands, there is, unquestionably, a strong public feeling here in favor of her doing so, and that at an early day.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 498.]

The cession of the Fiji Islands.

[From the Morning Post, Saturday. May 16, 1874.]

The following are the terms on which the cession of the Fiji Islands is offered to England: The King to retain the royal title and receive a pension of £3,000 per annum, with reversion to his eldest son; other chiefs to receive allowances varying from £20 to £500. The British government to assume the financial liabilities of the Fijian government, and to confirm all existing contracts and charters. The ruling chief is to be recognized as the owner of the lands and as guardian for the tribes.

The above offer to remain open for the space of one year.

[Extracts from inclosure 2 in No. 498.]

Copy of a letter addressed to Commodore Goodenough, royal navy, and E. L. Layard, esq., Her Majesty’s consul in Fiji, instructing them to report upon various questions connected with the Fiji Islands, with inclosures.

Sir: Her Majesty’s government desire to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by your proceeding to assume the appointment of consul for the Fiji and Tonga Islands, to request you, in conjunction with Commodore Goodenough, who has been appointed to the chief naval command on the Australian station, to inquire and to report to them on certain matters connected with the Fiji Islands; and I now proceed to explain to you the general course which this inquiry should take, and to direct your attention to those points which principally require investigation.

A similar instruction has been addressed to Commodore Goodenough, and I have to request that you will in this matter act in full concert and combination with him.

I transmit to you herewith copies of various papers which have been laid before Parliament on the subject of the Fiji Islands, together with two memoranda recently furnished by Mr. March, Her Majesty’s late consul for those islands. As you will find in these papers full details of the relations of Her Majesty’s government with the Fiji Islands up to the present time, it is unnecessary that I should do more than briefly notice what has occurred since Colonel Smythe made his report.

After considering that report. Her Majesty’s government communicated (in 1862) to the king and chiefs the determination of Her Majesty to decline the sovereignty of Fiji, and for some years after that date they were not called upon to consider any questions connected with the government of the islands. In 1868, the number of persons of European origin settled in Fiji having by that time considerably increased, Mr. Thurston, through the Earl of Belmore, then governor of New South Wales, called attention to the proceedings of a company formed in Melbourne, who had obtained from the Chief of Bau (Thakobau) a charter by which it was proposed to secure to the company 200,000 acres of land belonging to a tribe stated to be independent of him. Mr. Thurston pointed to this and to other proceedings as showing the desirability of establishing British or other civilized authority in the islands. By the terms of the charter the company undertook to make provision for the settlement of a claim of about £10,000 preferred by the United States against King Thakobau.

In a letter dated the 31st of December, 1869, the foreign office called the attention [Page 508] of my predecessor to an extract from a Melbourne journal containing a copy of an address to the President of the United States, inviting the protectorate of the United States Government. Lord Granville observed in reply that, in his opinion, it was not desirable that this country should take the responsibility of the government of Fiji, and that he considered that there would be more disadvantage in doing so than in the risk of the United States assuming the protectorate.

In March, 1870, the foreign office received a dispatch from Sir E. Thornton, stating that he had reason to believe that the United States Government had no intention to establish a protectorate over Fiji.

In a dispatch dated the 20th of May, 1870, the governor of Victoria expressed his opinion that, at the approaching conference, all the Australian colonies would unite in a representation to Her Majesty’s government in favor of the establishment of British supremacy in the Fiji Islands, and in deprecating the introduction of a foreign government or protectorate; and on the 15th of July following, Lord Canterbury inclosed an extract of a resolution adopted at the conference, “for obtaining the establishment of a British protectorate over the Fiji Islands.”

On the 12th of August Lord Canterbury forwarded a memorandum from his ministers, urging the importance of the question.

Two memorials, dated in 1870, were also received at the foreign office from native chiefs and others, praying for British protection.

On the 16th of March, 1871, in answer to Lord Canterbury’s dispatch sending the memorandum of his ministers, I stated that Her Majesty’s government could not depart from their former decision not to extend British sovereignty over the islands, and a copy of this dispatch was sent to the governor of New South Wales.

On the 15th of July, 1871, I transmitted to the governor of New South Wales a copy of a dispatch received through the foreign office, covering a petition from Dr. Laing to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, praying for the annexation of the islands; and the foreign office was informed in reply (15th July) that Dr. Laing was in error in supposing that there was authority in the governor’s commission for annexing and establishing a regular government in the Fiji Islands as a dependency of New South Wales.

On the 9th of August, 1871, the governor of New South Wales sent to me a copy of a letter addressed to him by Sir J. Martin (as first minister) in answer to the dispatch to Lord Canterbury of the 16th of March, in which Sir J. Martin deprecated the refusal of Her Majesty’s government to annex the islands, and, with reference to a rumored proposal to place the islands under the protection of New South Wales, declined on the part of the colony to accept the responsibility of their government for reasons which he assigned. My reply to this communication is contained in my dispatch of the 3d of November, 1871.*

On the 19th of April, 1872, Sir A. Stephen, then administering the government of New South Wales, remarked, in reference to the above-mentioned dispatch, that he considered that the question had been disposed of by Sir James Martin’s letter, inclosed in Lord Belmore’s dispatch of 9th August.

On the 14th of August, 1872, I addressed a circular dispatch to the governors of the Australasian colonies, informing them, with reference to questions which had arisen as to the status of British subjects in connection with Fiji, that Her Majesty’s government were advised that British subjects could not, beyond the limits of the new state not yet duly recognized, be accepted as citizens of that state; nor be held exempted from British jurisdiction for acts done by them on British territory, or on board ships which ought to be navigated under the British flag; nor in respect of engagements, the construction of which would properly and ordinarily, be triable before a British tribunal. And I further explained that Her Majesty’s government might interfere with the acts and engagements of British subjects within Fiji, and might declare certain acts and engagements to be legal or illegal in the case of British subjects within Fiji.

On the 6th of November, 1872, the governor of Victoria reported that an agitation had been set on foot in that colony in favor of the annexation of Fiji, but with little success.

On the 19th of October, and again on the 16th of December, 1872, Mr. Thurston, on behalf of the existing Fijian government, addressed to Earl Granville letters on the subject of Fijian affairs, copies of which are annexed; and on the 31st of January, 1873, Mr. Thurston inquired of the secretary of state for foreign affairs whether Her Majesty’s government would entertain a proposition from the government of Fiji to cede the kingdom to her Britannic Majesty, if its King and people once more, and now through the King’s responsible advisers, express a desire to place themselves under Her Majesty’s rule, and requested a reply by telegraph.

In reply to this last letter, the governor of New South Wales has been instructed [Page 509] by telegraph to inform Mr. Thurston that the inquiry which you are desired to hold will be instituted.

In the actual position at which the affairs of Fiji have thus arrived, there appear to be four possible modes of action open to Her Majesty’s government:

To invest the British consul with magisterial power over British subjects settled in the islands.
To recognize the government which now exists in the islands, and which has already been dealt with as a de facto government.
To establish a protectorate over the islands.
The assumption by Her Majesty of territorial sovereignty over the islands, and, as a necessary sequence, the constitution within them of some form of colonial government.

With regard to the first of these propositions, I have to refer you to the memorandum (inclosed herewith) by Mr. March, in which he has explained the nature of the jurisdiction which he thinks might be exercised by a consul-general, supported by a cruiser and a small force of police, over Her Majesty’s subjects settled or trading in Fiji or among the neighboring islands. It would be difficult to justify the establishment of such consular jurisdiction, unless it can be shown that the country in which it is to be exercised does not possess a government capable of controlling those who reside within its limits; and, apart from the difficulties which might attend the practical working of Mr. March’s scheme, the question arises whether the time may not have gone by for adopting such a measure in the case of Fiji. But supposing Her Majesty’s government should be of opinion that there is no objection in principle to conferring such powers upon the British consul, various important questions would have to be answered before they could take this step, as, for example, 1. Whether the government now holding power in Fiji would acquiesce in such an arrangement, or could properly be required to accept it. 2. Whether the settlers of British origin would submit to such consular jurisdiction, or could be compelled to do so. 3. In the event of such jurisdiction being established over British subjects, what would be the position of other persons of European origin, not being British subjects. 4. What would be the status of vessels owned by British subjects in Fiji, and whether in the-event of such vessels being placed for any reason under the Fijian flag, Her Majesty’s government could practically refuse to recognize them as having thereby acquired any rights or immunities which they would not possess if they remained under the British flag. You will understand that Her Majesty’s government do not desire your opinion on the legal difficulties attending this scheme, but on the question whether its adoption would be expedient and practicable in the present state of the islands.

It would be a most important part of the duty of a consul invested with such powers to enforce upon British settlers obedience to all proper regulations (whether those of the local government, or such as the consul, with the approval of Her Majesty’s government, might himself promulgate) with respect to the employment of Polynesian immigrants and other colored laborers.

You will pay particular attention to this part of the subject, as no arrangement would be satisfactory to Her Majesty’s government which failed to provide adequately for the prevention of the abuses which have arisen in connection with the importation of Polynesian laborers into Fiji and their employment there by the white settlers.

Proceeding next to the suggestion that the government now existing in Fiji should receive full recognition, the following are among the principal points to which I have to direct your attention:

It would be necessary to ascertain—1. To what extent is the actual government acknowledged throughout the islands by either the natives or by the white settlers. 2. Whether the resistance which has recently been offered to it is grounded upon a belief that it is not properly constituted, and has no sufficient title to the power which it affects to exercise, or to an objection to the persons now constituting the administration, such as would be removed by the substitution of persons possessing in a greater degree the confidence of the inhabitants. 3. Whether there is a reasonable prospect that a government so constituted will possess stability, and will be able to preserve order and to punish crime. 4. It would be especially important to learn what securities the Fijian government, if recognized, would be prepared to give that slavery should not in any form, directly or indirectly, exist in the islands; that kidnapping, whether carried on in ships under the Fijian flag or under other flags, should, as far as lay in their power, be effectually repressed; and that laborers imported from other islands should be humanely treated, and should only be employed in accordance with contracts freely entered into by them. Her Majesty’s government would not be satisfied with regulations less favorable to the Polynesian immigrant than those established in Queensland, as shown in the acts and regulations appended to this letter; and they would require that the Fijian government should, as a condition of recognition, enter into a formal treaty with this” country, giving Her Majesty’s cruisers the same rights of search in the case of the Fijian ships engaged in carrying Polynesians to Fiji as of British ships, and embodying complete and stringent regulations for the prevention of kidnapping, [Page 510] and for the proper treatment of Polynesian and other immigrants, such as are contained in the Queensland acts on this subject, and in the Imperial act (35 and 38 Vict., cap. 19) for the suppression of kidnapping. Her Majesty’s government would also expect that the Fijian government should enter into a stipulation securing to British subjects and British commerce in Fiji to the fullest extent the treatment accorded to the most favored nation, and that British ships in Fijian ports should receive the same treatment and enjoy the same privileges as national vessels.

I may dismiss more briefly the third suggestion that has been made, namely, that Her Majesty’s government should establish a protectorate over Fiji. The objections to a protectorate are obvious, inasmuch as it would impose upon the protecting power undefined responsibilities, with limited power of discharging such responsibilities; and it can scarcely be doubted that, in such a state of society as must for a long time prevail in Fiji, many things would be done or tolerated by the local authorities which this country could not as a protecting power pass over in silence without discredit, and interference as to which would before long irresistibly tend to the exercise of direct control over the local government. At the same time it will be desirable that you should ascertain whether a protectorate meets with favor in the islands, and, if so, what are the conditions under which it is considered that it could be advantageously exercised.

I now come to the fourth and last of the possible courses which I have enumerated, namely, the annexation of the islands to the territories of the British Crown.

Before the adoption of so grave a measure could be seriously entertained, it is necessary that full and satisfactory explanations should be given on some very material points, on which hitherto no sufficient information has been furnished:

1. Whether Thakobau and the other native chiefs, and the native population generally, as well as the white settlers, desire and would acquiesce in the establishment of the authority of the British Crown over the islands. Full inquiry should be made as to the power and authority of the chiefs to make over the sovereignty. 2. What form of government is it proposed should be established in the islands in the event of their becoming British? 3. Is it supposed, having regard to the numbers and nationality of the white residents and of the native population, that responsible government, as it exists in the neighboring colonies, would be appropriate to Fiji, and if so, is there among the settlers a sufficient number of persons qualified to supply the materials for an elected legislature and for an executive government composed of members of that legislature? 4. How, if at all, would the natives be represented in the legislature? 5. If, on the other hand, it is considered that the control of public affairs should rest, as in a crown colony, with the governor, subject to the instructions of the secretary of state, would it be proposed to admit the settlers to some voice in the council of government, and would it be necessary or expedient that the native element of the population should likewise be represented in the council? 6. What would be the probable expenses of the government? It would be desirable that upon this point some general statement should be laid before Her Majesty’s government of the nature of the civil establishments which would have to be created, distinguishing judicial from other officers, with an estimate of their salaries, and the other consequent expenses. 7. What is the actual revenue now levied by the existing government? What are the sources from which it is derived? To what extent and in what manner can it be increased, and what amount of revenue can reasonably be calculated upon as permanent? 8. In what hands is the control over the revenue and expenditure to be lodged; especially how far could such control, in any circumstances, be exercised from this country?

It has been reported that the existing government has contracted a considerable debt. Full particulars should be ascertained as to this debt, the amount of the principal and interest, the circumstances under which it has been contracted, the persons from whom it has been borrowed, the validity of the engagements entered into with them, the manner in which the money so obtained has been expended, and the precise extent of the obligations which would have to be assumed in respect of this debt by the future government of Fiji, if the islands should be annexed to the British Crown. It will, of course, be understood that Her Majesty’s government could not consent to make the revenues of this country liable in any way for this debt, or to charge upon them any portion of the cost of the local government, or of maintaining order within the islands.

Closely connected with the question of the expense of the government is the question of the amount and character of the force which would have to be maintained in the islands for the preservation of order and the protection of life and property. If responsible government were established, this duty would, of course, devolve entirely upon the local government, as Her Majesty’s government could not be answerable for the results of a policy which they did not directly control. But it would not be sufficient for the settlers to express their readiness to undertake the management of their internal affairs and the maintenance of order, unless there were good reason to believe that they would be able to discharge such obligations effectively on principles which [Page 511] Her Majesty’s government could approve. Assuming the character of the natives, with perhaps the exception of the mountain tribes of Viti Levu, not to be warlike, and their distribution among numerous islands to throw difficulties in the way of their acting in combination, it is nevertheless obvious that a native population estimated at as many as 170,000, liable at any moment to come into collision with the white settlers whose plantations are scattered in all directions, could not be efficiently controlled without a considerable and thoroughly-organized armed force.

It would have to be determined what should be the nature of this force, whether it should be a military or a police force, or of both kinds; whether white or colored; and whether it could be recruited altogether or partly within the islands. Upon the answers to these questions would depend what would be the cost of this force, and whether the islands could provide for that cost.

Provision would have to be made for the rapid concentration of any forces that might be required to meet a sudden emergency in one of the islands, and for the enforcement of the law and suppression of crime over a very large extent of seaboard. It should be considered whether this requirement could be met by the organization of a water-police, or whether the aid of one or more armed colonial vessels would be necessary to support the authority of the government; and, further, what amount of aid the local government would probably require from Her Majesty’s ships.

There are numerous other islands in the South Seas, both near to and at some distance from Fiji, on some of which British settlers are already established, and many of which are believed to be not less fertile and suitable for settlement than Fiji., One of the principal arguments for the annexation of the Fiji Islands has been that this would be at once the most effective and the most economical mode of repressing the kidnapping practices, to prevent which it has been found necessary to station a large naval force in the South Seas. Is there good reason to expect that, in the event of Her Majesty’s government assuming direct control over the Fiji group, the same abuses which had been checked in these particular islands would not be transferred to other islands in which lawless proceedings could be carried on with comparatively little hinderance?

Another important subject, as to which the information before Her Majesty’s government is very imperfect, is the tenure and ownership of the land in Fiji. On this head you should make careful inquiry: (1) whether the title to the land is fully vested in the King or chiefs; (2) whether there are any tribal rights or local customs which affect or limit their power to grant or dispose of it; (3) whether it is proposed that unalienated land shall be absolutely surrendered to the Queen, or shall continue to remain in the hands of its native owners until conveyed to private purchasers; (4) on what terms and conditions land is now occupied or owned by white settlers; (5) what proportion of the land in the islands is in such occupation, and what amount remains - available for future settlement. With regard to the capabilities of the soil much information is given in the report by Dr. Seeman which follows the report by Colonel Smythe; but it will be desirable to have a further statement as to the practical success which has attended the cultivation (whether by Europeans or natives) of cotton, sugar, or any other staple article of export during the past twelve years, and as to the amount of trade which is at present carried on with the islands, and the prospects of its further increase.

In the papers to which I have referred you, you will find allusion made to the claim of the United States Government against King Thakobau, and the steps which have been taken with a view to the liquidation of that claim. You will report whether Mr. March’s memorandum recently furnished on this subject requires any addition or correction. As the land suitable for cultivation in Fiji appears to be limited by the mountainous formation of the islands to a comparatively small area, the field open for future settlers must be greatly circumscribed if the title of the Melbourne company to 200,000 acres of the best land is a good one. And as it might be necessary to raise a revenue from land, it should be distinctly ascertained whether those who claim to have already acquired freehold rights in the land would be prepared for the imposition of a land-tax or other like charge.

In the event of the Fiji Islands being brought under British sovereignty, important and probably embarrassing questions would arise as to the position of Thakobau and the other chiefs, and the status of the native population. Her Majesty’s government desire to know what are the expectations of Thakobau and the other principal chiefs, as well as the recommendations of the existing government, on this head, and how far those recommendations would be likely to be acquiesced in by the chiefs. The utmost care should be taken that the chiefs thoroughly comprehend all that is proposed on a subject which is so likely to be productive of difficulties hereafter. If it is suggested that the rights and privileges of the King and chiefs should be commuted for an annual stipend or pension, or that the native title to land should be similarly extinguished, you will carefully consider whether the amounts proposed to be paid, and the other conditions, appear equitable and such as the natives are not likely hereafter to repudiate.

[Page 512]

Colonel Smythe stated in his report that among more than two-thirds of the native population, cannibalism, strangulation of widows, infanticide, and other enormities prevailed to a frightful extent. It should be ascertained whether any material improvement in these respects has taken place during late years; whether there are any other native customs which could not be tolerated under British rule; and whether the suppression of such practices or customs would be attended with danger or difficulty. If there is any system of domestic slavery in the islands, the particulars of it should be furnished.

In conclusion I have to add that you will understand that while it is the desire of Her Majesty’s government to Obtain, with reference to the points presented to you, and to all others which may suggest themselves to your minds, the expression of your deliberate and impartial judgment, formed after a careful examination of the facts upon the spot, they are not only far from desiring any increase of British territory, but they would regard the extension of British sovereignty to Fiji as a measure which could in no case be adopted unless it were proved to be the only means of escape from evils for which this country might be justly held to be bound to provide an adequate remedy. If the Fiji Islands are capable of being ruled in a tolerable manner by a government which is in any real or even qualified sense their own and indigenous, it can scarcely be doubted that the establishment of such a government would be more conducive to the interests of the British Empire, as well as of the islands themselves, than that this country should assume the heavy responsibility of governing a dependency inhabited by a large native population at the other side of the globe.

I have, &c.,


Memorandum by Consul March respecting the claim of the United States on Thakobau for $45,000.

The circumstances under which Thakobau was made responsible for a fine of $45,000, and his present position toward the United States Government, may be epitomized as follows: The natives of Ovalau, Bau, and Viwa, at various times previous to the year 1849, had robbed and ill-treated several American subjects residing in or trading to the islands; but their principal offense was committed upon the 4th of July, 1849. Upon that day the American consul, celebrating the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, fired a salute to the windward of his native-built house, and the wind carrying one of the burning wads upon the thatch, set the building on fire. Very little was saved. Under the pretext of assisting, the natives stole the few articles rescued from the flames. The consul therefore, in 1851, taking advantage of the presence of a United States ship of war—the St. Mary—sent in a statement of the value of goods stolen, amounting to $5,001.30. Subsequently interest was added, swelling the claim to $6,166.19. In 1855 it had increased to $19,385. Other claims preferred in 1851 had also, by some strange process, increased as follows:

1851. 1855. Increased to New claims. 1851. 1855. Increased to
J. B. Williams. $5,001 38 $19,365 Tim Pickering $2,800
Chamberlain 4,000 00 7,300 Rider 1,500
D. Whippy 1,500 00 6,000 Wilkinson Brothers 4,000
Ship Elizabeth 1,000 00 1,000 Shattuck & McAmber 2,600

These claims were admitted by Commander Boatwell, but upon what grounds it was not clear, even to the United States Government. An American journal, published at the time, said: “Having thus arrived at a satisfactory conclusion, a paper wag drawn up, called a treaty, which Thackobau, under the heaviest threats, was forced to sign. Therein he undertook to pay the sum claimed in two years, with another extorted promise that if he failed he would resign the government of Bau and go voluntarily on board a United States ship of war and submit to any punishment the commander might think proper to inflict. On returning from the John Adams, where he had been compelled to sign the so-called treaty, acknowledging the justice of the claims and promising to pay the $45,000 in two years, Thackobau addressed a protest to the United States consul in Sydney, for transmission to his Government.”

The foregoing remarks have not only never been disproved, but it has been admitted that the claim of Consul Williams was unjust. So late as October, 1889, the commander of the United States ship Jamestown, in writing to Thakobau, officially addressed him as King in Fiji, the chief having declined to go on board if he was to be received as King of Fiji. At this visit a court of arbitration for adjudicating on all [Page 513] matters in dispute was held on hoard, on the 28th of October, 1869. It consisted of three officers of the ship and two American citizens, settlers in the group, one of whom, Mr. D. Whippy, was a claimant for $6,000. In the matter of Consul Williams’s claim, the court found as follows:

“By an original statement of his losses, made in his own handwriting, he claims the sum of $6,166.19, of which $2,048.57 is interest. It appears from the records of the United States consulate, that in 1858 he was allowed by Commander Sinclair and a board of officers of the United States ship Vandalia an additional sum of 81,054 for damage sustained in 1858, making a total of $7,199.67, which is all the amount of his claim sustained by tradition or the records of the consulate, and yet he stands on the list of awards as entitled to $19,365. There is no possible way of accounting for this great and strange discrepancy.” It is, however, extraordinary that the resident United States commercial agent should have failed to apprise his Government that the enormous claim which he was pressing upon a helpless savage was neither supported “by tradition nor the records of his office;” and when it is known that he acted as the agent or administrator to the estate of the late J. B. Williams, the claimant, and is therefore likely to have the best evidence of that gentleman’s real loss, the fact is more inexplicable.

These claims, amounting to £10,000. were taken up by a company formed for that purpose in Melbourne, composed of British subjects. This company engaged—

To pay off the American debt of $45,000.
Give Thakobau an annuity of £200.
Aid and assist him in upholding and defending his kingdom, by supplying him with an armed steamer whenever he might require one.

For these considerations the chief engaged—

To make over to the company 200,000 acres of land in different parts of Fiji.
To give them a banking monopoly.
A pre-emptive right to all lands in his territory.

Thus a very large portion of Fijian territory was made over to an English company. The last installment of the debt was paid more than a year ago, but the company have been unable to gain possession of all the land, for the simple reason that much of it did not belong to Thakobau, and was in districts independent of his rule. From this has resulted much ill-feeling and dishonesty. The company, consisting of three or four obscure individuals, paid the debt with the proceeds of the allotments of land, which, on the purchasers, proceeding to occupy, were found either to have no existence or to appertain to independent chiefs. Thus Thakobau deceived the company, and the company cheated its clients, who in their turn settled themselves on the debatable ground, and thus commenced an epoch of quarrels and outrages between the whites and natives.


Circular dispatch to the governors of Australian colonies.

Her Majesty’s government have had under their consideration a question which has arisen with reference to the government established de facto in the Fijian Islands, namely, whether beyond the limits of the new state British subjects, so long as the new state is not recognized, can be accepted as citizens of it, and exempted from British jurisdiction in respect of acts done by them or engagements entered into with them. A reference has been made to the law-officers of the Crown, who have advised Her Majesty’s government that British subjects beyond the limits of the new state, not yet duly recognized, should not be accepted as citizens of the new state, nor be held exempted from British jurisdiction for acts done by them on British territory or on board ships “which ought to be navigated under the British flag.” And further, that they should not be held exempt from British jurisdiction for engagements entered into with them in cases where the validity or construction of such engagements would properly and in ordinary course be triable before a British tribunal. They are further of opinion that Her Majesty’s government may interfere with the acts and engagements of British subjects within Fiji, and may declare certain acts and engagements to be legal or illegal in the case of British subjects within Fiji. The law-officers have also reported with reference to inquiries made through Mr. Consul March, by certain half-castes residing in Fiji, as to the protection which could be granted to them on account of their British origin, in connection with the establishment of a de-facto government; that the half-castes in question appear to be illegitimate children of Fiji women, and to have been born in Fijian territory, and that, consequently, their nationality is not British, and that they are not entitled to British protection. These opinions are communicated to you for your information and guidance.

I have, &c.,

  1. Parliamentary paper, C, 509, page 2.
  2. Parliamentary paper, 124, No. 3.
  3. Parliamentary paper, C. 509, page 1.