The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 27
The Loyalty and Fiji Islands
The Loyalty and Fiji Islands.
Sandal-wood forms their staple article of barter. "They are the most civilized of the Melanesian race, and nearly all Christianized. There is a certain resemblance in all the languages of the Pacific Islanders, though there are an immense variety of them, all totally distinct." The Fiji group numbers 150 islands of all shapes and sizes. The largest is Viti Levu. Levuka, the page 84 capital, is on Ovalau. They were a very savage and degraded race of cannibals, but are now Christianized. They used to bury each other alive—generally with the consent of the party to be interred. They had a great variety of gods, with qualities like themselves. The natives are fond of dancing. The women are graceful, and light and agile in movement. Before conversion they were fearfully superstitious. They are also lazy. The climate is pleasant. The sea breeze sweeping continually over the islands keeps them comparatively cool and fresh during the summer; but the midges, flies and, mosquitoes, that love the damp, are almost intolerable. Insect life flourishes in Fiji. There are also rats, frogs, lizards and snakes.
Twenty years ago—1863—I wrote a series of letters and articles, urging upon the people of Australia and New Zealand to insist upon the English Government assuming the sovereignty of this group. Now the Fiji Isles form England's youngest Colony. England should annex the whole of the Pacific Isles, and thus prevent other powers stepping in upon this large archipelago. But Gladstone's parish policy prevents this desirable consummation.