Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/82

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till the members of one council have arrived at something very near a unanimous decision. Of course, in times of war like the present, these matters are very irregular.

In January 1875, a new experiment was tried. Unheeding the wisdom which forbids having "two queens in Brentford," the Samoans resolved to have a king of each dynasty, who should reign jointly: so Pulepule of the ancient Tupua race ascended the throne in company with Malietoa Laupepa; and the number of the Taimua was raised from seven to fourteen. How long this amicable arrangement might have continued, it is impossible to say; for on the 1st April 1875, a very serious phase of April fooling was enacted by an American adventurer, known as Colonel Steinberger, who, by some means not clearly explained, obtained a passage to Apia in the United States man-of-war Tuscarora, and on landing stated that he had been sent from Washington to organise a new government. As his sole credentials, he presented the Samoans with four pieces of cannon and a Gatling gun, which, he said, were a gift from President Grant.

Utterly ignoring all the foreign consuls, including the representative of the States, he proceeded, under protection of the American man-of-war, to draw up a new constitution, declaring Malietoa sole king, and himself (Steinberger) prime minister, and, in fact, supreme ruler. This matter being settled, the Tuscarora sailed, and Steinberger proceeded to arm the schooner Peerless (which he had purchased in San Francisco) with guns and ammunition, and sailed to Tutuila to put down the disturbances in that island. The American consul (Mr Foster) vainly remonstrated against the proceeding of this unlicensed vessel flying the American flag; and taking advantage of the arrival of H.M.S. Barracouta, commanded by Captain Stevens, he seized the Peerless for breach of the neutrality laws.

Then followed a meeting of all the foreign residents, resolving to free themselves from the tyranny of this self-constituted dictator. Many of the Samoan chiefs joined with the foreigners in claiming British protection—the German consul, Godeffroy's representative, being the only one to stand aloof. The Barracouta arrived on the