« AnteriorContinuar »
with an excuse for further arbitrary proceedings. The determination come to was to write for the opinion of Great Britain.
The morning after this meeting Morenhout went to the queen and acted in a manner so gross and insulting that she determined to complain to Sir Thomas Thompson of the Talbot frigate, who promised her protection. All this happened, as we have seen, before the arrival of Mr. Pritchard, who in truth, instead of proving a firebrand, introduced moderation and caution into the councils of Pomare. Sir Toup Nicholas, it is true, commanding the Vindictive, which brought our consul to Tahiti, did go so far, despising some of the forms which were perhaps necessary, as to threaten that unless the French ceased to molest British subjects, he would employ force to compel them. He is even said to have cleared for action. When we consider what was daily passing under his eyes, there was some excuse for this gallant captain's warmth. Setting aside the insults offered to our own countrymen, he was the spectator of constant tyrannical conduct towards the queen. Messrs. Reine and Vrignaud, under whose name all this was done, were but instruments in the hands of the sagacious Morenhout. The following letter of Queen Pomare, hitherto, we believe, unpublished, will throw some light on his conduct. It is addressed to Toup Nicholas, who took measures to fulfil the wishes it contains.
Paöfaë, March 5, 1844.
"I make known unto you that I have oftentimes been troubled by the French consul, and on account of his threatening language I have left my house. His angry words to me have been very strong. I have hitherto only verbally told you of his ill-actions towards me; but now I clearly make these known to you, O Commodore, that the French consul may not trouble me again. I look to you to protect me now at the present time, and you will seek the way how to do it.
"This is my wish, that if M. Morenhout, and all other foreigners, want to come to me, they must first make known to me their desire, that they may be informed whether it is, or is not, agreeable to me to see them.
"Health and peace to you,
"O servant of the Queen of Britain,
During the time that elapsed between the establishment of the protectorate and the third visit of Dupetit Thouars to Tahiti, the only overt act which the French could complain of was the hoisting of a fancy flag by the queen over her house. Whatever difficulties existed at the outset had been in reality overcome in spite of the intriguing Mr. Pritchard.' Even M. Guizot* has declared * February 28, 1844.
"Queen of Tahiti, Mourea, &c. &c."
Deposition of Queen Pomare.
in his place in the Chamber of Deputies: There existed on the admiral's arrival none of those difficulties which are not to be surmounted by good conduct, by prudence, by perseverance, by time, or which require the immediate application of force.' Nevertheless, on the first of November, 1843, our buccaneering admiral entered the harbour of Papeete, and wrote immediately to inform the queen that unless she pulled down the flag she had hoisted he would do so for her, and at the same time depose her. In spite of his threats, however, she refused compliance; and Lieutenant D'Aubigny landed at the head of five hundred men, to occupy the island. The speech in which this person inaugurated French dominion in Tahiti was one of the richest specimens of bombast and braggadocio ever uttered. Much merriment might be excited by its repetition; but it has already caused the sides of Europe to ache more than once. We are not at present in a laughing mood. Suffice it to say that the deposed queen fled on board the British ship of war, the Dublin, commanded by Captain Tucker-the Vindictive had unfortunately been recalled-and Papeëte was for many days like a town taken by storm. Drunkenness, debauchery, rioting filled its streets, and every means were taken to undo what the English missionaries had by half a century of labour accomplished. We have the satisfaction to reflect, therefore, that all the treasure we have expended in the Pacific has been in vain. A population converted by our means, yet tottering on on the verge of the abyss from which it had escaped, was given over on the 1st of November, 1843, to be corrupted, murdered, and plundered by the most corrupt, cruel, and rapacious nation in Europe.
What in the meantime had become of Mr. Pritchard? No sooner had the usurpation been consummated than he hauled down. his flag, and informed the Frenchmen who had perpetrated the acts of injustice we have detailed, that not considering them legally constituted authorities he could hold no official communication with them. Lord Palmerston has so clearly exposed the miserable sophistry by which this act has been interpreted into a resignation of consular functions, that it will be unnecessary to dwell on the point. Every body now perceives that up to the moment when Mr. Pritchard received intelligence of his appointment to the Navigator's Islands he remained consul of Tahiti. His credentials, if published, would prove this fact incontestably. This being granted, let us ask: Did he by any act of his justify the assumption that he had ceased to consider himself a consul-did he excite the people to rise against the French? We declare that he did not. Even the French ministry make no more than vague charges against him. It has never been advanced that on such and such
a day Mr. Pritchard did or said such and such a thing.' All that is maintained is that he intrigued in general, that he excited the natives in general, that he declaimed in general, but how, where, when, no one ventures to determine. He seems to have acted by supernatural agency. His mere presence sufficed to stir the passions of all the population of Tahiti. Every gesture, every motion was interpreted into a condemnation of French tyranny. He could not walk without shaking their fabric of oppression to its basis. His very cough was a call to arms.
From November to February many little events took place without much changing the relative position of parties. The Dublin had departed, leaving only the Basilisk ketch and a steamer to represent the British navy. The queen sometimes ventured ashore, whence, however, she was at length finally driven on board the Basilisk, the commander of which was informed that if he landed her on any of the Society Islands it would be considered as a hostile demonstration. She, meanwhile, still advised by Mr. Pritchard, refrained from taking advantage of the gradually increasing excitement of her people to attempt to recover her authority by force. She waited patiently for news from Europe, confidently expecting that the act by which she had been deprived of her dominions would not be ratified.
We might here enlarge on the savage conduct of the licentious French soldiery since the complete occupation of the island;* we might describe them carrying off men's wives and shooting the husbands when they attempted to resist; we might detail the measures by which all the cattle in the island were confiscated by M. Bruat in order to insure a supply of provisions to the Army of Occupation.' This, however, would but obscure the real state of the question. It is acknowledged by the whole world that it is lawful and virtuous to resist injustice. All the patriotic songs which stir so violently the passions of every nation in Europe, are based on this conviction, that if an armed force unjustly invade the territory of a people, that people is bound to resist, if possible, by force, and that it can do no act more worthy of universal sympathy than to exterminate its oppressors. The Tahitians were precisely in this position. It is not we alone that declare it. M. Guizot has vehemently proclaimed this truth. We cannot
A society called the Aborigines Protection Society has been established in London. The idea is philanthropic and beautiful, but its objects can never be accomplished, whilst the French system is tolerated in the world. We recommend the high-minded and benevolent men who have founded this society to exert themselves in favour of the unfortunate Tahitians. Perhaps, however, the time is past; and this wretched people is irrecoverably lost.
Gallic Civilisation in Tahiti.
quote the whole of his observations. A few, however, will suffice. French force encountered there no rival, no obstacle; it was bound at least to keep right on its side. We think that it did not do so. There were no instructions, there was no utility or necessity, neither was there justice towards the queen and the natives. We are of opinion that the establishment of France in new regions should not be accompanied by an act of violence towards the people among whom it appears for the first time.+ There existed, seriously speaking, neither ne
cessity nor right.'‡ By the showing, therefore, of the government of Louis Philippe themselves, the Tahitians were placed perfectly in the right, the creatures of Dupetit Thouars in the wrong. It became the duty of the former on the 1st of November to take up arms; it became their duty to expel or put to death every Frenchman on the island; if they had not attempted to do so, considerations of prudence could alone have withheld them; their right was evident, of the expediency they were the best judges; if they had quietly submitted we might have pitied without respecting them. It is certain that the English missionaries on the island, probably from the same motives which induced them soon after their first landing to send away their fire-arms, preached peace and patience; and their well-meant efforts would probably have proved successful, had not the brutality of the French soldiers at length exasperated the people beyond endurance. Fathers, whose daughters had been torn from their arms, hurried from village to village, beseeching their countrymen to revenge their wrongs: husbands, whose wives had been violently carried off, echoed the appeal to arms. These were the preachers of insurrection; these were the intriguers who rendered the French uncomfortable in their position; these were the ambitious and turbulent spirits who caused hill and valley to ring with shouts of vengeance. Now was the moment to exhibit courage; this was the time when the men who had provoked the danger were bound to meet it manfully. But M. Bruat was made of different mettle. He began to be frightened at the storm he had raised, grew moody and fretful, posted sentinels all over Papeëte, never moved abroad without a guard. So far did his fears carry him that he declared publicly
*"La force Française n'avait là aucun rival, aucun obstacle; elle pouvait bien garder pour elle le droit. Nous pensons qu'elle ne l'a pas fait. Il n'y avait pas d'instructions, il n'y avait pas utilité, necessité; il n'y avait pas non plus justice envers la reine et les indigènes. Nous pensons que l'établissement de la France dans des mers nouvelles ne doit pas s'inaugurer par un acte de violence contre les peuples au milieu desquels elle arrive. Il n'y avait, sérieusement parlant, ni nécessité, ni droit."
Séance du ler Mars.
Séance du 29 Fevrier.
in a state of piteous nervous excitement, with pale face and faltering voice, that if a rising really took place he would pistol Mr. Pritchard with his own hand. Instead of meeting the enemy, he would shoot an unarmed English consul. This is the gallant man with whom the French government, urged on by a people as bloodthirsty now as in 1793, a people whose character never has changed since the massacre of St. Bartholomew, reckless of slaughter, incapable of comprehending the idea of justice, and which has chosen to identify itself all over the world with blasphemy and infidelity-this is the man, we say, whom the French government takes under its protection; and this is the man whose presence Lord Aberdeen has consented to tolerate in Tahiti, and who is to remain unpunished, nay, applauded, for imprisoning and expelling a British consul, in virtue of authority acquired by an act of the most flagrant injustice ever perpetrated even by a French officer.
Not content with taking the precautions we have above alluded to, M. Bruat began to erect fortifications, and batteries, and redoubts, and sent off in all haste to the Marquisas for a reinforcement. He then started, surrounded by four hundred men, to build a fort at some distance from the capital, leaving, as his substitute, Lieutenant d'Aubigny, who had rendered himself conspicuous by constant asseverations that he was ready to die for the tri-coloured flag. This person was instantly intoxicated by the possession of supreme authority, and resolved to do something to make a noise in the world. One of his sentinels having, it is said, been attacked by an unarmed native-what fire-eaters these Tahitians must be! -he thought the opportunity had arrived for distinguishing himself. Accordingly, next day (March 3rd, 1844,) as Mr. Pritchard was going to pay a visit to the commander of the Cormorant steamer, four or five soldiers rushed, with a sort of desperate courage, pell-mell out of a guard-house, some with, some without their hats, but all well armed, and, seizing him by the collar, uttered a sort of timid imitation of the Iroquois war-hoop. We have been assured, by an eye-witness, that the scene would have been infinitely ludicrous had not the savage character of the French soldiers been known. But it was immediately understood that Mr. Pritchard's life was in danger, and the utmost alarm manifested itself. Two officers of the Cormorant waited on M. d'Aubigny to demand an explanation, and to inquire whither the British consul had been conveyed. They were at first refused an answer; but at length the lieutenant condescended to read a proclamation, which was soon afterwards posted up against all the walls of Papeëte. It ran as follows: