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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29

In The Fijis, 1870

In The Fijis, 1870.

Again Dr. Lang points out a similar state of things, as recently going on in the Fiji Islands; which, when he wrote (1870), were not yet under British dominion. He enters his protest

"Against the continuance of the system which is now in pretty extensive operation in the Fiji Islands, on the part of certain long-headed individuals and Companies, having their head quarters principally in Melbourne, and professing to purchase from the natives, at remarkably convenient prices, large tracts of the finest lands, which they expect to hold in future absolutely as their own. These parties may not, indeed, be practising on so magnificent a scale as Mr. Wentworth and his associates in 1840. by pretending to purchase from the natives so large an extent of territory as twenty millions of acres at the rate of one brass farthing for every hundred acres; but they are doing precisely the same thing, only on a smaller scale. Now no Government, emanating either directly or indirectly from Great Britain can ever tolerate such proceedings—can ever either relinquish or surrender the right of pre-emption on the part of the Government, in the case of all purchases of land from uncivilised tribes. This, I maintain, is absolutely necessary for the interests of humanity and justice, and for the protection of the natives themselves. But there is another party who are also deeply interested in the case, and on whose behalf I would urge my protest. I mean the humbler classes of the redundant population of Great Britain and Ireland; for if Mr. B and his associates from Melbourne are allowed to purchase at their own convenient price, even moderate principalities from the natives, and to hold them absolutely as their own, how would it be possible to create an Emigration Fund for the transference of thousands and tern of thousands of these classes from their present cheerless habitations to the happy homes that might otherwise await them in the beautiful isles of the Western Pacific?"