Mr. Hay to Mr. Griscom.

No. 53.]

Sir: I inclose herewith for your information a copy of a dispatch from Mr. Lambert, vice-consul, in charge of the American consulate [Page 446]at Tamsui, reporting the punitive measures taken against the Botel Tobago natives for their ill treatment of the crew of the American ship Benjamin Sewall.

You will call the attention of the Japanese Government to the three suggestions which Mr. Lambert makes.

I am, etc.,

John Hay.

Mr. Lambert to Mr. Loomis.

No. 101.]

Sir: In reference to the wreck of the ship Benjamin Sewall, I have the honor to herewith inclose a detailed account of the attack by the Formosan authorities upon the natives of the Botel Tobago Island.a I have sent similar documents to the American minister at Tokyo.

In connection with the above matter, I have the honor to inform you that on receipt of his communication I at once called upon Doctor Goto, chief of the civil administration, Formosan government, to thank him for undertaking these punitive measures. He assured me that it is the Formosan government’s earnest desire that the actual participators in the murders should be brought to justice, and that it is the intention of the government to hang the ringleaders should they be discovered. For the government to put hands upon the right parties is, however, a task of great difficulty, as no person has as yet been found who can speak the dialect of the Botel Tobagoans.

I understand that natives from the neighboring coast of Formosa were taken to the island in the hope that they might perform the duty of interpreters to the attacking force. These hopes were not realized, as the Formosan natives could not understand the islander’s dialect.

In the absence of distinct proof, the Formosan government is loath to execute the death penalty on any of the natives at present incarcerated in Taito-cho prison. Doctor Goto Informs me that such a course would only lead to further retaliations in the future, should innocent natives suffer the extreme penalty of the law. From what I know of the Formosan aborigine, as seen in the person of the head hunter, I feel certain that the fears of the chief civil administrator would be justified did he pursue a course of retaliation on general principles.

In the meantime I have his assurance that the captured natives will be kept in prison pending the result of further measures on the part of the government to discover the right culprits.

I fancy that the government is rather at a loss itself as how to deal most satisfactorily with the case. I have therefore written to the American minister at Tokyo the following suggestions, which, if he considers suitable, might be suggested to the Japanese Government as a means of preventing such lamentable occurrences in the future.

  • First. That three or four of the principal chiefs of the villages known to have been implicated in the outrage shall be detained as hostages for the good behavior of their tribesmen for a period of not less than three years, and that the place of their detention be the jail at Taihoku, where an opportunity would present itself for a mastering of their dialect by some responsible officials.
  • Secondly. That the police force on the island of Botel Tobago be increased in numbers, particularly during the typhoon season when wrecks are most likely to occur.
  • Thirdly. That in the event of any further outrages occurring the hostages be promptly made to pay the penalty.

These measures would have the additional advantage of bringing natives and officials in closer touch to the furthering of law and order.

I have, etc.,

A. C. Lambert.
  1. Not printed.