Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/164

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land at the same spot as their enemies had done, failed to discriminate friend from foe.

It is impossible to overstate the amount of hindrance to mission work and to all civilising influences which has been occasioned by the lawless proceedings of unprincipled white men, too many of whom have proved themselves truly white barbarians. In their greedy craving for gain, they have so thoroughly quenched every spark of justice and honour in their dealings with the dark-skinned races, that on some of the Papuan Isles, the name by which the natives describe a white man means literally "a sailing profligate."

The vessels employed in the labour trade—i.e., in "engaging" or securing men to work on plantations in Fiji or Australia—were by no means the only culprits, though the horrible cruelties practised by many of these in former years have been a disgrace to humanity. Nearly as much harm was done by men engaged in the sandal-wood trade, who gloried in defrauding the natives by every means in their power—promising certain articles in exchange for a given amount of sandal-wood, and on its receipt sailing away, to be no more heard of. Or perhaps they inveigled a chief on board, and there kept him as a hostage till his people brought large quantities of sandal-wood as his ransom; and having secured all they could get at that particular isle, they still refused to give up the chief—probably secured some of his followers, and carried them to another isle, where they forced them to work for months in cutting the coveted wood, and finally sold them to the natives, in exchange for yams and pigs—a man fetching from five to ten live pigs, according to his size. It is almost needless to say that the hostile natives merely purchased the strangers as food for the cannibal oven. Occasionally some of these unfortunates contrived to escape, and got on board whaling-ships, where they were kindly treated, and some were even taken back to their own isles. There were ships which fired unscrupulously on any village which failed to bring them sandal-wood. On one occasion three vessels engaged in this trade anchored off one of the New Hebrides. Their men plundered the yam-gardens and stole all the pigs, numbering several hundreds. Of course the owners resisted, and were