Mr. Lincoln to Mr. Gresham.

No. 969.]

Sir: Referring to my dispatch, No. 967, of yesterday’s date, I have the honor to inclose herewith for your information a telegram which has appeared in to-day’s Times newspaper, from its Berlin correspondent, who professes to give therein the opinion of the German Government relative to Samoan affairs.

I have, etc.,

Robert T. Lincoln.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 969.—From the Times, Saturday, April 8, 1893.]

the situation in samoa.

The announcement that Herr von Cedercrantz, the chief justice of Samoa, has handed in his resignation excites here neither astonishment nor regret. Since his installation there have been a series of petty dissensions, chiefly between him and the consuls, which put peace and quiet out of the question, and the three signatory powers have for some time past been agreed that such a state of things could not he allowed to continue. Probahly Herr von Cedercrantz has come to see this in the same [Page 743] light as Germany, England, and America, and has done the wisest thing in resigning, thus rendering it unnecessary for the signatory powers to take the initiative against an official chosen by the King of Sweden. Herr von Cedercrantz was right in applying the term “a comedy” to the Samoa convention of 1889, hut the question forces itself upon us whether the chief justice had done his best to put a better face on the matter. This question must unfortunately be answered in the negative. Herr von Cedercrantz had adopted as his motto “Samoa for the Samoans,” and irrespective of the interests of foreign residents formed his policy on these lines. It is true the native inhabitants outnumber the foreigners in the proportion of 120 to 1, and this numerical superiority may have induced the chief justice to overlook the little band of settlers. The natives, however, have not been slow to give proofs of their overbearing character in times past, and Herr von Cedercrantz’s conduct has done nothing to lesson the danger of revolution in the future.

Leaving out of count the fact that the Polynesians of Samoa are not a very highly cultured race, the Germans, English, and Americans certainly deserve the chief consideration. It is they who pay the taxes which form the greater part of the income of Samoa, and it is in their hands that the whole trade of the islands is concentrated. Another point, though apparently insignificant, deserves mention. Herr von Cedercrantz has always made it his custom to live in the most simple style, and has therefore failed to make much impression on the natives, who, like all uncultured people, are highly susceptible to the influence of outward show. In a word, Herr von Cedercrantz has failed to satisfy either the powers, the foreign settlers, or the Samoans themselves, though probably acting with the best intentions.

It would, perhaps, be unfair to cast all the blame on the shoulders of the chief justice. No one will extol the Samoan treaty of 1889 as a masterpiece of combined European and American policy in the nineteenth century, and this unlucky agreement must be given its full weight in judging of the conduct of Herr von Cedercrantz. Probably the only sensible suggestion made at the Samoan conference was the proposal of England that a cable should be laid to Samoa at the common expense of the signatory powers. This plan was disregarded, and its rejection has only served to make a difficult task more difficult. In the present circumstances dispatches reach Europe in four, five, or six weeks, and the necessary interchange of diplomatic notes between the cabinets of England, Germany, and Washington causes further delay. It can, therefore, easily happen that the state of things in the islands, regarding which the instructions of the powers were requested may, during this space of time, have given place to a situation requiring renewed diplomatic communication and fresh instructions. Again, one constant danger lies in the fact that the native inhabitants, numerous as they are, have provided themselves with arms and ammunition. In case of a general revolution the ships stationed at Samoa would not be capable of disarming the natives, a course that would probably require a squadron of at least nine vessels.

These remarks, which do not make the slightest claim to novelty, represent in substance the views held in Germany on Samoa. England and America will not feel disposed to deny the anomalous and intolerable condition of things in these unhappy islands, but nowhere is this more fully recognized and nowhere is the desire for a speedy amendment stronger than in Germany. In view of the preponderating numbers and influence of the Germans in Samoa, the Cologne Gazette goes so far as to advise an annexation of the islands by the German Empire.

It is imperative that a remedy should be found, and for one power to be supreme in Samoa seems to be the simplest way out of a difficulty created by a treaty which may fitly be characterized by borrowing the words used by Prince Bismarck, in a very different connection, as “the most miserable of all treaties.”—(Our own correspondent.)

[The Times, Saturday, April 8, 1893.]

Sydney, April 7.

Sir John Thurston, governor of Fiji, and high commissioner of the western Pacific, denies that he is in any way hostile to Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson. He considers, however, that peace and good order are unattainable in Samoa, owing to the unnecessary interference of meddlesome and irresponsible persons.—(Dalziel, The Times special.)