§ MR. J. F. HOGAN (Tipperary, Mid)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the letter of the late Robert Louis Stevenson on Samoan affairs, published in The Daily Chronicle of the 18th instant; whether he is in a position to affirm or deny the accuracy of Mr. R. L. Stevenson's statement that Mataafa, after surrendering, was brought to Apia in the ship of Captain Bickford, who pointed to a British ensign and declared he was safe under that flag; whether, notwithstanding this declaration, Mataafa and his chiefs were transferred to a German warship and carried away to exile in the Marshall Islands; whether any official report of the circumstances attending the deportatation of Mataafa to the Marshall Islands has been received from Captain Bickford; and, if so, whether there is any objection to making it public; whether he can suggest any explanation of the nominal fine of 100 rifles imposed on Tamasese for a serious rebellion, as compared with the punishment of indefinite exile to a low island, to which Mataafa has been condemned, for merely constructive rebellion; and, what is the latest official information with respect to the condition and treatment of Mataafa, and the facilities, if any, afforded him for communicating with his friends?
§ SIR E. GREY
I have seen the letter in question. Mataafa surrendered in consequence of an ultimatum sent to him by the consuls of the three Powers, and was taken to Apia in H.M.S. Katoomba, commanded by Captain Bickford, who gave him no assurance except that his life would be spared. This assurance was kept and Mataafa was, under an agreement between the three Treaty Powers, taken to the Marshall Islands in a German man-of-war. Captain Bickford had no concern with the deportation. His duty ended after he had brought Mataafa to Apia. The circumstances as regards Tamasese and Mataafa were quite different. The former surrendered peaceably on arranged terms; the latter when in open rebellion on the condition only of safety for his life. The latest information is that Mataafa and his chiefs are well treated; arrangements have been made that they shall be joined by members of their families, but communications with the outside are of course under strict control.
§ MR. HOGAN
Is the hon. Baronet aware that Mataafa is a devoted Catholic, that in his present place of exile he has no facilities for the exercise of his religion, and that he feels this deprivation very acutely? Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson suggests that Mataafa's place of exile should be changed to Fiji, where a number of Catholic priests are stationed, where, in Mr. Stevenson's own words, he would have—the food and fresh water of his childhood, where some of us could see him, where we could write to him and receive answers, where he might have a tolerable old age.Will the hon. Baronet use his influence with Germany to secure the early removal of Mataafa from the Marshall Islands to Fiji, and thus carry out the dying wish of a writer who has endeared himself to the English-speaking world?
§ SIR E. GREY
said, as it appeared that Mataafa was being well treated where he was, there seemed to be no pressing necessity for urging the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman. He was informed that Mataafa had full facilities for the exercise of his religion.