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possible under the circumstances, but often necessarily in very perfunctory fashion.
In 1872 and 1875 Acts of Parliament were passed to prevent blackbirding,' i.e. to regulate the recruiting of natives from the Pacific Islands for labour in Queensland and in Fiji; and in 1877 the provisions of these Acts were first incorporated in a general 'Order in Council,' which was much extended in 1893 and again in 1907, and still forms the letter of the law under which British rule is administered in most of the Pacific Islands. By these Orders in Council the office of High Commissioner for the Western Pacific was created; and, as a matter of convenience, this office has from the first been held by the Governor of Fiji, in addition to his own office. The Order in Council provides that the jurisdiction of the High Commissioner shall extend over Europeans, and in certain respects over natives, resident in such Western Pacific Islands as are not within the limits of the Colony of Fiji, or the Dominion of Australia or New Zealand, and are not within the jurisdiction of any foreign civilised Powers.
There has thus been brought within the jurisdiction of the High Commissioner an immense area, of which Fiji is practically, though hardly geographically, the centre, so far as the more important of the islands within it are concerned. Let us suppose that the High Commissioner sails from Fiji on a tour of inspection. He would most conveniently start in a south-easterly direction, making for the Tongan Islands, or, as Captain Cook called them, the Friendly Islands,' a group which is nominally an independent kingdom, the last in the Pacific, but is really entirely under British protection and influence. He might then go-though it would be far out of his course—a long way eastward, passing the Cook Islands, a dependency of New Zealand, and going near the French Archipelago which is made up of the Society, Low, and Marquesas Islands, to visit the tiny British island of Pitcairn, famous as the home of the mutineers of H.M.S. 'Bounty,' and still the residence of some of their descendants. He might also from Pitcairn visit the two or three tiny islets in that neighbourhood, which have for one reason or another, but chiefly because of their supposed deposits of phosphate, been annexed to Pitcairn
and so brought under the High Commissioner. From Pitcairn we will assume that he would return on his course to Tonga; thence he would go north and slightly eastward, passing between the two tiny French possessions of Wallis and Fotuma and the Samoan or Navigators group (which is now divided between Germany and the United States, but was once largely under British influence), to the Union and Phoenix groups; thence eastward to the Ellice Islands, and northward along the chain of the Gilbert or Kingsmill Islands.
In so doing he would pass the Equator, and approach, but not visit, the German Marshall or Jaluit Islands; but from the northernmost of the Gilbert Islands he would turn southward and west to wonderful little Ocean Island, a solitary mass of pure phosphate rock, and would pass by the similar German island of Nauru, or Pleasant Island, and by the lonely coral atoll of Ongtong Java, till he came to the Solomon Islands. He would leave the northernmost of the Solomon Islands, the large and only partly explored German island of Bougainville, to the north, and, after running southward along the whole of the rest of the Solomon Islands, with the Santa Cruz Islands, bearing now still south but westward, he would pass the Torres and Banks group and would run down the New Hebrides, which, with the Torres and Banks Islands, are jointly under British and French jurisdiction. From the southernmost of the New Hebrides he might, as a matter of interest, pass still further south, through the pine-clad Loyalty Islands (French) and reach the large and important French island of New Caledonia. Having thus passed through all the islands under his jurisdiction, the High Commissioner would, from the New Hebrides, bear directly eastward back to his own proper charge in Fiji.
A glance at the map will show that the places mentioned in the imaginary journey just described are very widely scattered; and, as there is no regular means of communication between any two of the islands or groups of the West Pacific, the High Commissioner's task of control from Fiji is a difficult one. It is somewhat lightened, it is true, by deputies resident in the more important places; but it is to be hoped that in the near future a system of wireless telegraphy may be established
throughout the islands, and that, within no long time, communication by mail-steamer may also be provided. The importance of the British islands in the Pacific lies in their situation, scattered as they are over the great ocean in which the British Empire, and more especially the Dominions of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, are all deeply interested, and other great World-Powers-the United States and Japan, Germany and France-are also more or less concerned. These other Powers are all at pains to strengthen their position and influence in the Pacific; and it would surely be a politic act on the part of the British Empire to do the same.
The British islands in the Western Pacific, with a few negligible exceptions already annexed to the Dominions of Australia and New Zealand, form one growing Crown Colony, widely isolated from all others, and lying near to the two great Dominions just mentioned. There are good and strong reasons why the Islands should not at present be annexed to either of these Dominions, despite their geographical position and community of commercial interests; but it seems that the time has come when every effort should be made to assist the development and growth of the Pacific Crown Colony towards the point at which it might safely be allowed to pass out of the Crown Colony stage, and to join that united 'Dominion of Australasia' which seems certainly destined one day to represent the British Empire in the western portion of the Pacific Ocean.
EVERARD IM THURN.