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looked up to good; till falsehood and evil shall seem everywhere and truth and good nowhere? You spoke of the moral happiness and safety of your children; will you let them consist in falsehood, and depend upon the duration of error? Will you let your children run the risk of losing their old faith, without helping them to find a new one? Will you waste so much of their happiness for themselves, and of their usefulness for the world?"
Vere did not answer; he remained as if absorbed in thought, nervously tearing the petals off a rose which stood in the glass before him.
"Do please leave that flower alone, Vere," remonstrated Bernhardt; "that is just the way that all you pessimists behave— pulling to pieces the few pleasant things which Nature or man has succeeded in making, because the world is not as satisfactory as it might be. Such a nice rose that was, the very apple of our landlady's eye, who picked it to afford you a pleasant surprise for supper, and you have merely made a mess of it on the tablecloth. That's what comes of thinking too much about responsibilities. One doesn't see the mischief one's fingers are up to."
And Rheinhardt, who was a tidy man, rose, and carefully swept the pink petals and the yellow seeds off the table into his hand, and thence transferred them into a little earthenware jar full of dry rose leaves, which he kept, in true eighteenth-century style, on his writing table.
"That is the difference of our philosophies," he remarked, with satisfaction; "you tear to pieces the few roses that are given Uj, and we pick up their leaves, and get the pleasant scent of them even when withered."
"The definition is not bad," put in Baldwin, throwing a bundle of faggots on the fire, and making it crackle and flare up lustily, flooding the room with ruddy light.
Vere turned away his face from the glow, and looked once more, vaguely and wistfully, into the bleak blueness of common and downs lying chill and dim in the moonlight.
"What you have been saying, Baldwin," he at last remarked, "may perhaps be true. It may be that it would be wiser to teach my children the things which I believe to be true. But you see I love my children a great deal; and— Well, I mean that I have not the heart to assume the responsibility of such a decision."
"You shirk your responsibilities," answered Baldwin, "and in doing so, you take upon yourself the heaviest responsibility of any."'
NATIVE COUNCILS IN FIJI.
("NA VEIMBOSE VAKA TURANGA.")
THE communal polity, and system of government by councils, with which we are all familiar from Indian and other examples, does not prevail among races of Aryan descent alone; and when, with the unwilling assent of Her Majesty's Government, the islands of Fiji, some nine years ago, passed into the possession of the British Crown, such a system was found in vigorous existence there.
Always regarding himself as one of a community, the Fijian has been accustomed in all his acts, and even in all his thoughts, to move in concert with his fellows,—with his immediate family, his village, his sept, his tribe, his district, as the case requires. Even the highest chiefs recognized their position as members of the tribe, and, arbitrary as their acts towards individuals occasionally were, they invariably acknowledged, in matters of general policy, the superior authority of the councils, which they indeed called together, but in which, when assembled, they only bore a part, and the decisions of which they were unable to disregard.
Nothing was done in the way of communal work, nothing of importance was ordered by any chief, without a previous Veim Bose, or discussion. Every village had, in addition to its chiefs and hereditary office-bearers, a council of elders. The chiefs of villages discussed, with the Buli of the district, all matters of general interest to the tribe, and the Bulis themselves formed a council to the Roko Tui, or kinglet of the province. Such was at least, roughly speaking, the general theory, modified in practice by many causes, and by none more profoundly than by the residence in the group of white men, whose influence was invariably exerted either to strengthen the despotism of the chief, who protected them, or to replace all other authority by their own.
The missionary and the trader had soon been followed to Fiji by the cotton planter and the settler. Large areas were between 1860 and 1870 purchased and partially occupied by white men, and more than one attempt to give to the settlers the control of the government had, during that time, been made, and had failed.
In 1871 a more serious, and apparently more successful, effort was made to establish a sovereignty over the group, nominally vested in the great chief Thakombau, but to be in fact exercised by Ministers named by the settlers themselves. There can be no doubt that the Fijian constitution of 1871 was framed with the intention of conducting the government according to the dictation and for the exclusive benefit of the " superior race," but the Ministers quickly perceived (and it is creditable to their sagacity that they should have done so), that if in compliance with these anticipations they attempted to govern without regard to the susceptibilities and position of the chiefs, or to the interests of the people in whose hands all physical force rested, the attempt must end in failure: if, on the other hand, they elected to consult native interests, and to govern through native agency, they cut away from under them the support of their own countrymen who formed the "Parliament," which had placed and kept them in office, and voted the supplies which enabled them to exist. Through so perilous a strait it would have been difficult for the ablest man to steer, and (with one remarkable exception) the Ministers of Thakombau were men of but moderate capacity, and limited experience. Still, though shipwreck was in any case imminent, it is clear that, for the moment, the European Ministers of Thakombau would have rendered their position more secure by yielding to the pressure of the settlers, and it is to their honour that they adopted an opposite course. The legislation proposed by them was of a far more intelligent character than has usually distinguished attempts to introduce the forms and phraseology of civilized States among races unfitted to receive them, but after making the somewhat naive discovery that to commit all administrative and legislative power to a legislature of foreigners elected by foreign residents was scarcely compatible with any theory of national independence, the Government fell into bad odour with the settlers, who clamoured for annexation to Great Britain. The King was advised to yield to this clamour so far as to inquire whether such an offer would be accepted. The inquiry was no doubt made in the anticipation that the offer of cession would be refused, as it had been fifteen years previously, and that the settlers, having thus ascertained that their wishes could not be realized, would reconcile themselves to the inevitable.
When it appeared, however, that the cession would, if again tendered, be on certain conditions accepted, considerable hesitation was shown as to the renewal of the offer, and but for the exercise of pressure certainly not contemplated by Her Majesty's Government, Thakombau would have elected to retain his sovereignty. Whether such a Government would, under any circumstances, have lasted, may very reasonably be doubted. Speculation, however, on this point is idle. Thakombau and the other High Chiefs of Fiji, on the 21st of March, 1874, absolutely surrendered their sovereignty to the Queen, and on the 10th of October in that year signed a formal Deed of Cession, which made them British subjects, thus raising again the question—one which has seldom been answered in any satisfactory manner—how a large native population should be governed by a handful of white aliens?
Fortunately on this occasion, policy, and indeed necessity, pointed in the same direction as right and justice. The white settlers in Fiji had not colonized an empty waste, or cultivated for the first time land until then only roamed over by nomadic savages. The estates of the planters were scattered here and there among a large and industrious settled population, owners and cultivators of the soil, and possessing a complex social and political organization in vigorous activity. "Where this is the case, and when a native population also outnumbers, by more than fifty to one, the strangers dwelling among them, it is not safe, even if it be practicable, to deny to the natives a large measure of self-government.
Such an acknowledgment, indeed, might have been grudgingly accorded, and accompanied by a jealous reluctance to extend such privileges one hair's breadth beyond the narrowest limits within which, consistently with safety, they could be confined, but this was not the spirit in which the question was approached, either by those in authority at home, or those to whom the practical direction of affairs in the new colony was entrusted.
They were well aware that it was not enough to abstain from seeking hastily to replace native institutions by unreal imitations of European models, but that it was also of the utmost importance to seize the spirit in which native institutions had been framed, and develop to the utmost extent the capacities of the people for the management of their own affairs, without exciting their suspicion or destroying their self-respect. Every effort was therefore made to preserve the traditional laws and customs, to maintain in authority the local chiefs, and in all possible ways to utilize the existing native organization.
As regards the Councils, of which mention has before been made, little more was required than to define with somewhat greater accuracy their method of procedure, and to regulate their times of meeting. The District Councils, or Bose ni Tikina, which meet once a month, under the presidency of the Buli, nominate the chiefs of towns, and may suspend them from office. They also discuss and regulate all local matters, such as the cleansing and scavenging of villages, the management of animals belonging to the different communities, the maintenance of roads and bridges, the control of public bathing places. They also superintend the payment, out of local rates, of the village constables. The Bose vaka Yasana, or Provincial Council, meets half-yearly, under the presidency of the Roko Tui. In its presence every Buli is compelled to reply to a series of questions as to the state of his district, and to it has been assigned the discussion of all provincial affairs, and the imposition of provincial rates, subject, of course, to the Governor's approval.
The chain connecting the village authorities with the Government has been completed by the institution of an annual meeting of the Roko Tuis themselves, and of representatives chosen from all districts of Fiji, presided over by the Governor. This assembly has however been called into being almost undesignedly, and has assumed its present social and political importance rather by natural development than of set purpose.
At the urgent request of Thakombau, the Governor consented to receive the assurances of fealty of the principal chiefs of Fiji after their own native fashion, at Bau, the native capital, in September, 1875. All the Roko Tuis and other great chiefs assembled to attend that ceremony, and after its close various questions were submitted by the Governor to their consideration. The chiefs thus collected had not been brought together for this special purpose, but advantage was taken of their accidental presence to consult them.
In answer to the questions put to them, they shortly explained the nature, and showed the necessity for the preservation, of "Lala"— the peculiar institution which may be variously regarded as a tenure of land by service, or (in my opinion more correctly) as a communal duty imposed on all members of the commune; and they suggested limitations on its exercise which were afterwards adopted by law. They made sensible recommendations as to the modification of the law of marriage and divorce, and requested time more minutely to examine the other laws of the old Fijian Government which had been submitted to them. They approved generally of the scheme suggested for native taxation in kind; and called attention to the abuses which attended the recruiting of labourers for service in provinces distant from their homes. They recommended the appointment of a Roko Tui to the province of Mathuata, and the return to their homes of the chiefs who, for political reasons, had been detained under surveillance by the former Government. They also made suggestions as to various ceremonial matters, such as the title to be borne by the Queen in Fiji, and the forms of salutation to be observed towards the Governor.
This meeting had been purely experimental, but the result was such as to encourage the summons, in the following year, of a more formal gathering, and one was accordingly held in December, 1876,