Mr. Herbert to Mr. Foster.

Sir: With reference to Sir Julian Pauneefote’s note of the 19th April last, I have the honor, by direction of my Goverment, to inclose for your information copy of an instruction which has been addressed to Her Majesty’s consul in Samoa in regard to the conditions on which the three treaty powers concerned have agreed to accede to King Malietoa’s request that their ships of war in Samoan waters might be permitted to inforce the authority of the supreme court of Samoa in the execution of its warrants.

I have at the same time the honor to inform you that instructions in the same sense have been sent by Her Majesty’s Government to the British commander in chief on the Australian station, and I am desired by the Marquis of Salisbury to express the hope that similar instructions may shortly be forwarded to the American consular and naval authorities, if they have not been already issued.

I have, etc.,

Michael H. Herbert.
[Page 540]

Sir Philip Currie to Mr. Cusack-Smith.

No. 11.]


Sir: With reference to your dispatch No. 71, of the 9th of December last, I am directed by the Marquis of Salisbury to inform you that an identic letter was on that date addressed by King Malietoa to the Governments of Great Britain, Germany, and the United States, requesting the assistance of their ships of war at Apia to enable the supreme court of Samoa to execute its warrants.

With a view to uphold the system of judicature established by the final act of the conference of Berlin on Samoan affairs, the treaty powers are disposed, upon certain conditions to accede to King Malietoa’s appeal, and an understanding as to the procedure to be adopted in such cases has been arrived at. You will find it recorded in the inclosed memorandum, and you will be guided by the rules therein laid down in any future action which you may have to take in this matter.

You are authorized to inform the Samoan Government of the decision come to, and you should concert with your colleagues of Germany and the United States, to whom similar instructions will be sent, as to the form in which this communication should be made.

The British naval authorities in the Pacific have also received instructions which will insure their cooperation when it is required.

I am, etc.,

P. M. Currie.


The intervention of ships of war will be restricted to the action required for executing the warrants of arrest issued by the supreme court. Such intervention is to take place only on a requisition from the consul of the country to whom the vessel belongs, and he will make the requisition only on occasions when the consuls of the three treaty powers are unanimously of opinion that support is necessary and request him to apply for it.

The execution of warrants for the arrest of persons other than natives should, if possible, be intrusted to a ship of war of the nationality of the person to be arrested. In other cases any action that may be taken in compliance with these requisitions should, as far as possible, be taken by the ship of war in turn.

It is to be borne in mind that the intervention of the ship in war in these cases should have the character of an executory measure against individuals and should not lead to any warlike action.

There will thus be antecedent reasons against the employment of ships of war in cases where the desired end can not be obtained without an expedition far into the interior.

The question whether compliance with a requisition is practicable from a military point of view is one that must be left to the discretion of the commander of the ship of war concerned.