A Footnote to History
Robert Louis Stevenson

Part 2 out of 3

see him exiled even with some complacency. But Mataafa was Tupua
himself; and Tupua men would probably have murmured, and would
perhaps have mutinied, had he been harshly dealt with.

The native opposition, I say, was in a sense continuous. And it
kept continuously growing. The sphere of Brandeis was limited to
Mulinuu and the north central quarters of Upolu--practically what
is shown upon the map opposite. There the taxes were expanded; in
the out-districts, men paid their money and saw no return. Here
the eye and hand of the dictator were ready to correct the scales
of justice; in the out-districts, all things lay at the mercy of
the native magistrates, and their oppressions increased with the
course of time and the experience of impunity. In the spring of
the year, a very intelligent observer had occasion to visit many
places in the island of Savaii. "Our lives are not worth living,"
was the burthen of the popular complaint. "We are groaning under
the oppression of these men. We would rather die than continue to
endure it." On his return to Apia, he made haste to communicate
his impressions to Brandeis. Brandeis replied in an epigram:
"Where there has been anarchy in a country, there must be
oppression for a time." But unfortunately the terms of the epigram
may be reversed; and personal supervision would have been more in
season than wit. The same observer who conveyed to him this
warning thinks that, if Brandeis had himself visited the districts
and inquired into complaints, the blow might yet have been averted
and the government saved. At last, upon a certain unconstitutional
act of Tamasese, the discontent took life and fire. The act was of
his own conception; the dull dog was ambitious. Brandeis declares
he would not be dissuaded; perhaps his adviser did not seriously
try, perhaps did not dream that in that welter of contradictions,
the Samoan constitution, any one point would be considered sacred.
I have told how Tamasese assumed the title of Tuiatua. In August
1888 a year after his installation, he took a more formidable step
and assumed that of Malietoa. This name, as I have said, is of
peculiar honour; it had been given to, it had never been taken
from, the exiled Laupepa; those in whose grant it lay, stood
punctilious upon their rights; and Tamasese, as the representative
of their natural opponents, the Tupua line, was the last who should
have had it. And there was yet more, though I almost despair to
make it thinkable by Europeans. Certain old mats are handed down,
and set huge store by; they may be compared to coats of arms or
heirlooms among ourselves; and to the horror of more than one-half
of Samoa, Tamasese, the head of the Tupua, began collecting
Malietoa mats. It was felt that the cup was full, and men began to
prepare secretly for rebellion. The history of the month of August
is unknown to whites; it passed altogether in the covert of the
woods or in the stealthy councils of Samoans. One ominous sign was
to be noted; arms and ammunition began to be purchased or inquired
about; and the more wary traders ordered fresh consignments of
material of war. But the rest was silence; the government slept in
security; and Brandeis was summoned at last from a public dinner,
to find rebellion organised, the woods behind Apia full of
insurgents, and a plan prepared, and in the very article of
execution, to surprise and seize Mulinuu. The timely discovery
averted all; and the leaders hastily withdrew towards the south
side of the island, leaving in the bush a rear-guard under a young
man of the name of Saifaleupolu. According to some accounts, it
scarce numbered forty; the leader was no great chief, but a
handsome, industrious lad who seems to have been much beloved. And
upon this obstacle Brandeis fell. It is the man's fault to be too
impatient of results; his public intention to free Samoa of all
debt within the year, depicts him; and instead of continuing to
temporise and let his enemies weary and disperse, he judged it
politic to strike a blow. He struck it, with what seemed to be
success, and the sound of it roused Samoa to rebellion.

About two in the morning of August 31st, Apia was wakened by men
marching. Day came, and Brandeis and his war-party were already
long disappeared in the woods. All morning belated Tamaseseites
were still to be seen running with their guns. All morning shots
were listened for in vain; but over the top of the forest, far up
the mountain, smoke was for some time observed to hang. About ten
a dead man was carried in, lashed under a pole like a dead pig, his
rosary (for he was a Catholic) hanging nearly to the ground. Next
came a young fellow wounded, sitting in a rope swung from a pole;
two fellows bearing him, two running behind for a relief. At last
about eleven, three or four heavy volleys and a great shouting were
heard from the bush town Tanungamanono; the affair was over, the
victorious force, on the march back, was there celebrating its
victory by the way. Presently after, it marched through Apia, five
or six hundred strong, in tolerable order and strutting with the
ludicrous assumption of the triumphant islander. Women who had
been buying bread ran and gave them loaves. At the tail end came
Brandeis himself, smoking a cigar, deadly pale, and with perhaps an
increase of his usual nervous manner. One spoke to him by the way.
He expressed his sorrow the action had been forced on him. "Poor
people, it's all the worse for them!" he said. "It'll have to be
done another way now." And it was supposed by his hearer that he
referred to intervention from the German war-ships. He meant, he
said, to put a stop to head-hunting; his men had taken two that
day, he added, but he had not suffered them to bring them in, and
they had been left in Tanungamanono. Thither my informant rode,
was attracted by the sound of walling, and saw in a house the two
heads washed and combed, and the sister of one of the dead
lamenting in the island fashion and kissing the cold face. Soon
after, a small grave was dug, the heads were buried in a beef box,
and the pastor read the service. The body of Saifaleupolu himself
was recovered unmutilated, brought down from the forest, and buried
behind Apia.

The same afternoon, the men of Vaimaunga were ordered to report in
Mulinuu, where Tamasese's flag was half-masted for the death of a
chief in the skirmish. Vaimaunga is that district of Taumasanga
which includes the bay and the foothills behind Apia; and both
province and district are strong Malietoa. Not one man, it is
said, obeyed the summons. Night came, and the town lay in unusual
silence; no one abroad; the blinds down around the native houses,
the men within sleeping on their arms; the old women keeping watch
in pairs. And in the course of the two following days all
Vaimaunga was gone into the bush, the very gaoler setting free his
prisoners and joining them in their escape. Hear the words of the
chiefs in the 23rd article of their complaint: "Some of the chiefs
fled to the bush from fear of being reported, fear of German men-
of-war, constantly being accused, etc., and Brandeis commanded that
they were to be shot on sight. This act was carried out by
Brandeis on the 31st day of August, 1888. After this we evaded
these laws; we could not stand them; our patience was worn out with
the constant wickedness of Tamasese and Brandeis. We were tired
out and could stand no longer the acts of these two men."

So through an ill-timed skirmish, two severed heads, and a dead
body, the rule of Brandeis came to a sudden end. We shall see him
a while longer fighting for existence in a losing battle; but his
government--take it for all in all, the most promising that has
ever been in these unlucky islands--was from that hour a piece of

September 1888

The revolution had all the character of a popular movement. Many
of the high chiefs were detained in Mulinuu; the commons trooped to
the bush under inferior leaders. A camp was chosen near Faleula,
threatening Mulinuu, well placed for the arrival of recruits and
close to a German plantation from which the force could be
subsisted. Manono came, all Tuamasanga, much of Savaii, and part
of Aana, Tamasese's own government and titular seat. Both sides
were arming. It was a brave day for the trader, though not so
brave as some that followed, when a single cartridge is said to
have been sold for twelve cents currency--between nine and ten
cents gold. Yet even among the traders a strong party feeling
reigned, and it was the common practice to ask a purchaser upon
which side he meant to fight.

On September 5th, Brandeis published a letter: "To the chiefs of
Tuamasanga, Manono, and Faasaleleanga in the Bush: Chiefs, by
authority of his majesty Tamasese, the king of Samoa, I make known
to you all that the German man-of-war is about to go together with
a Samoan fleet for the purpose of burning Manono. After this
island is all burnt, 'tis good if the people return to Manono and
live quiet. To the people of Faasaleleanga I say, return to your
houses and stop there. The same to those belonging to Tuamasanga.
If you obey this instruction, then you will all be forgiven; if you
do not obey, then all your villages will be burnt like Manono.
These instructions are made in truth in the sight of God in the
Heaven." The same morning, accordingly, the Adler steamed out of
the bay with a force of Tamasese warriors and some native boats in
tow, the Samoan fleet in question. Manono was shelled; the
Tamasese warriors, under the conduct of a Manono traitor, who paid
before many days the forfeit of his blood, landed and did some
damage, but were driven away by the sight of a force returning from
the mainland; no one was hurt, for the women and children, who
alone remained on the island, found a refuge in the bush; and the
Adler and her acolytes returned the same evening. The letter had
been energetic; the performance fell below the programme. The
demonstration annoyed and yet re-assured the insurgents, and it
fully disclosed to the Germans a new enemy.

Captain Yon Widersheim had been relieved. His successor, Captain
Fritze, was an officer of a different stamp. I have nothing to say
of him but good; he seems to have obeyed the consul's requisitions
with secret distaste; his despatches were of admirable candour; but
his habits were retired, he spoke little English, and was far
indeed from inheriting von Widersheim's close relations with
Commander Leary. It is believed by Germans that the American
officer resented what he took to be neglect. I mention this, not
because I believe it to depict Commander Leary, but because it is
typical of a prevailing infirmity among Germans in Samoa. Touchy
themselves, they read all history in the light of personal affronts
and tiffs; and I find this weakness indicated by the big thumb of
Bismarck, when he places "sensitiveness to small disrespects--
Empfindlichkeit ueber Mangel an Respect," among the causes of the
wild career of Knappe. Whatever the cause, at least, the natives
had no sooner taken arms than Leary appeared with violence upon
that side. As early as the 3rd, he had sent an obscure but
menacing despatch to Brandeis. On the 6th, he fell on Fritze in
the matter of the Manono bombardment. "The revolutionists," he
wrote, "had an armed force in the field within a few miles of this
harbour, when the vessels under your command transported the
Tamasese troops to a neighbouring island with the avowed intention
of making war on the isolated homes of the women and children of
the enemy. Being the only other representative of a naval power
now present in this harbour, for the sake of humanity I hereby
respectfully and solemnly protest in the name of the United States
of America and of the civilised world in general against the use of
a national war-vessel for such services as were yesterday rendered
by the German corvette Adler." Fritze's reply, to the effect that
he is under the orders of the consul and has no right of choice,
reads even humble; perhaps he was not himself vain of the exploit,
perhaps not prepared to see it thus described in words. From that
moment Leary was in the front of the row. His name is diagnostic,
but it was not required; on every step of his subsequent action in
Samoa Irishman is writ large; over all his doings a malign spirit
of humour presided. No malice was too small for him, if it were
only funny. When night signals were made from Mulinuu, he would
sit on his own poop and confound them with gratuitous rockets. He
was at the pains to write a letter and address it to "the High
Chief Tamasese"--a device as old at least as the wars of Robert
Bruce--in order to bother the officials of the German post-office,
in whose hands he persisted in leaving it, although the address was
death to them and the distribution of letters in Samoa formed no
part of their profession. His great masterwork of pleasantry, the
Scanlon affair, must be narrated in its place. And he was no less
bold than comical. The Adams was not supposed to be a match for
the Adler; there was no glory to be gained in beating her; and yet
I have heard naval officers maintain she might have proved a
dangerous antagonist in narrow waters and at short range.
Doubtless Leary thought so. He was continually daring Fritze to
come on; and already, in a despatch of the 9th, I find Becker
complaining of his language in the hearing of German officials, and
how he had declared that, on the Adler again interfering, he would
interfere himself, "if he went to the bottom for it--und wenn sein
Schiff dabei zu Grunde ginge." Here is the style of opposition
which has the merit of being frank, not that of being agreeable.
Becker was annoying, Leary infuriating; there is no doubt that the
tempers in the German consulate were highly ulcerated; and if war
between the two countries did not follow, we must set down the
praise to the forbearance of the German navy. This is not the last
time that I shall have to salute the merits of that service.

The defeat and death of Saifaleupolu and the burning of Manono had
thus passed off without the least advantage to Tamasese. But he
still held the significant position of Mulinuu, and Brandeis was
strenuous to make it good. The whole peninsula was surrounded with
a breastwork; across the isthmus it was six feet high and
strengthened with a ditch; and the beach was staked against
landing. Weber's land claim--the same that now broods over the
village in the form of a signboard--then appeared in a more
military guise; the German flag was hoisted, and German sailors
manned the breastwork at the isthmus--"to protect German property"
and its trifling parenthesis, the king of Samoa. Much vigilance
reigned and, in the island fashion, much wild firing. And in spite
of all, desertion was for a long time daily. The detained high
chiefs would go to the beach on the pretext of a natural occasion,
plunge in the sea, and swimming across a broad, shallow bay of the
lagoon, join the rebels on the Faleula side. Whole bodies of
warriors, sometimes hundreds strong, departed with their arms and
ammunition. On the 7th of September, for instance, the day after
Leary's letter, Too and Mataia left with their contingents, and the
whole Aana people returned home in a body to hold a parliament.
Ten days later, it is true, a part of them returned to their duty;
but another part branched off by the way and carried their
services, and Tamasese's dear-bought guns, to Faleula.

On the 8th, there was a defection of a different kind, but yet
sensible. The High Chief Seumanu had been still detained in
Mulinuu under anxious observation. His people murmured at his
absence, threatened to "take away his name," and had already
attempted a rescue. The adventure was now taken in hand by his
wife Faatulia, a woman of much sense and spirit and a strong
partisan; and by her contrivance, Seumanu gave his guardians the
slip and rejoined his clan at Faleula. This process of winnowing
was of course counterbalanced by another of recruitment. But the
harshness of European and military rule had made Brandeis detested
and Tamasese unpopular with many; and the force on Mulinuu is
thought to have done little more than hold its own. Mataafa
sympathisers set it down at about two or three thousand. I have no
estimate from the other side; but Becker admits they were not
strong enough to keep the field in the open.

The political significance of Mulinuu was great, but in a military
sense the position had defects. If it was difficult to carry, it
was easy to blockade: and to be hemmed in on that narrow finger of
land were an inglorious posture for the monarch of Samoa. The
peninsula, besides, was scant of food and destitute of water.
Pressed by these considerations, Brandeis extended his lines till
he had occupied the whole foreshore of Apia bay and the opposite
point, Matautu. His men were thus drawn out along some three
nautical miles of irregular beach, everywhere with their backs to
the sea, and without means of communication or mutual support
except by water. The extension led to fresh sorrows. The Tamasese
men quartered themselves in the houses of the absent men of the
Vaimaunga. Disputes arose with English and Americans. Leary
interposed in a loud voice of menace. It was said the firm
profited by the confusion to buttress up imperfect land claims; I
am sure the other whites would not be far behind the firm.
Properties were fenced in, fences and houses were torn down,
scuffles ensued. The German example at Mulinuu was followed with
laughable unanimity; wherever an Englishman or an American
conceived himself to have a claim, he set up the emblem of his
country; and the beach twinkled with the flags of nations.

All this, it will be observed, was going forward in that neutral
territory, sanctified by treaty against the presence of armed
Samoans. The insurgents themselves looked on in wonder: on the
4th, trembling to transgress against the great Powers, they had
written for a delimitation of the Eleele Sa; and Becker, in
conversation with the British consul, replied that he recognised
none. So long as Tamasese held the ground, this was expedient.
But suppose Tamasese worsted, it might prove awkward for the
stores, mills, and offices of a great German firm, thus bared of
shelter by the act of their own consul.

On the morning of the 9th September, just ten days after the death
of Saifaleupolu, Mataafa, under the name of Malietoa To'oa Mataafa,
was crowned king at Faleula. On the 11th he wrote to the British
and American consuls: "Gentlemen, I write this letter to you two
very humbly and entreatingly, on account of this difficulty that
has come before me. I desire to know from you two gentlemen the
truth where the boundaries of the neutral territory are. You will
observe that I am now at Vaimoso [a step nearer the enemy], and I
have stopped here until I knew what you say regarding the neutral
territory. I wish to know where I can go, and where the forbidden
ground is, for I do not wish to go on any neutral territory, or on
any foreigner's property. I do not want to offend any of the great
Powers. Another thing I would like. Would it be possible for you
three consuls to make Tamasese remove from German property? for I
am in awe of going on German land." He must have received a reply
embodying Becker's renunciation of the principle, at once; for he
broke camp the same day, and marched eastward through the bush
behind Apia.

Brandeis, expecting attack, sought to improve his indefensible
position. He reformed his centre by the simple expedient of
suppressing it. Apia was evacuated. The two flanks, Mulinuu and
Matautu, were still held and fortified, Mulinuu (as I have said) to
the isthmus, Matautu on a line from the bayside to the little river
Fuisa. The centre was represented by the trajectory of a boat
across the bay from one flank to another, and was held (we may say)
by the German war-ship. Mataafa decided (I am assured) to make a
feint on Matautu, induce Brandeis to deplete Mulinuu in support,
and then fall upon and carry that. And there is no doubt in my
mind that such a plan was bruited abroad, for nothing but a belief
in it could explain the behaviour of Brandeis on the 12th. That it
was seriously entertained by Mataafa I stoutly disbelieve; the
German flag and sailors forbidding the enterprise in Mulinuu. So
that we may call this false intelligence the beginning and the end
of Mataafa's strategy.

The whites who sympathised with the revolt were uneasy and
impatient. They will still tell you, though the dates are there to
show them wrong, that Mataafa, even after his coronation, delayed
extremely: a proof of how long two days may seem to last when men
anticipate events. On the evening of the 11th, while the new king
was already on the march, one of these walked into Matautu. The
moon was bright. By the way he observed the native houses dark and
silent; the men had been about a fortnight in the bush, but now the
women and children were gone also; at which he wondered. On the
sea-beach, in the camp of the Tamaseses, the solitude was near as
great; he saw three or four men smoking before the British
consulate, perhaps a dozen in all; the rest were behind in the bush
upon their line of forts. About the midst he sat down, and here a
woman drew near to him. The moon shone in her face, and he knew
her for a householder near by, and a partisan of Mataafa's. She
looked about her as she came, and asked him, trembling, what he did
in the camp of Tamasese. He was there after news, he told her.
She took him by the hand. "You must not stay here, you will get
killed," she said. "The bush is full of our people, the others are
watching them, fighting may begin at any moment, and we are both
here too long." So they set off together; and she told him by the
way that she had came to the hostile camp with a present of
bananas, so that the Tamasese men might spare her house. By the
Vaisingano they met an old man, a woman, and a child; and these
also she warned and turned back. Such is the strange part played
by women among the scenes of Samoan warfare, such were the
liberties then permitted to the whites, that these two could pass
the lines, talk together in Tamasese's camp on the eve of an
engagement, and pass forth again bearing intelligence, like
privileged spies. And before a few hours the white man was in
direct communication with the opposing general. The next morning
he was accosted "about breakfast-time" by two natives who stood
leaning against the pickets of a public-house, where the Siumu road
strikes in at right angles to the main street of Apia. They told
him battle was imminent, and begged him to pass a little way inland
and speak with Mataafa. The road is at this point broad and fairly
good, running between thick groves of cocoa-palm and breadfruit. A
few hundred yards along this the white man passed a picket of four
armed warriors, with red handkerchiefs and their faces blackened in
the form of a full beard, the Mataafa rallying signs for the day; a
little farther on, some fifty; farther still, a hundred; and at
last a quarter of a mile of them sitting by the wayside armed and

Near by, in the verandah of a house on a knoll, he found Mataafa
seated in white clothes, a Winchester across his knees. His men,
he said, were still arriving from behind, and there was a turning
movement in operation beyond the Fuisa, so that the Tamaseses
should be assailed at the same moment from the south and east. And
this is another indication that the attack on Matautu was the true
attack; had any design on Mulinuu been in the wind, not even a
Samoan general would have detached these troops upon the other
side. While they still spoke, five Tamasese women were brought in
with their hands bound; they had been stealing "our" bananas.

All morning the town was strangely deserted, the very children
gone. A sense of expectation reigned, and sympathy for the attack
was expressed publicly. Some men with unblacked faces came to
Moors's store for biscuit. A native woman, who was there
marketing, inquired after the news, and, hearing that the battle
was now near at hand, "Give them two more tins," said she; "and
don't put them down to my husband--he would growl; put them down to
me." Between twelve and one, two white men walked toward Matautu,
finding as they went no sign of war until they had passed the
Vaisingano and come to the corner of a by-path leading to the bush.
Here were four blackened warriors on guard,--the extreme left wing
of the Mataafa force, where it touched the waters of the bay.
Thence the line (which the white men followed) stretched inland
among bush and marsh, facing the forts of the Tamaseses. The
warriors lay as yet inactive behind trees; but all the young boys
and harlots of Apia toiled in the front upon a trench, digging with
knives and cocoa-shells; and a continuous stream of children
brought them water. The young sappers worked crouching; from the
outside only an occasional head, or a hand emptying a shell of
earth, was visible; and their enemies looked on inert from the line
of the opposing forts. The lists were not yet prepared, the
tournament was not yet open; and the attacking force was suffered
to throw up works under the silent guns of the defence. But there
is an end even to the delay of islanders. As the white men stood
and looked, the Tamasese line thundered into a volley; it was
answered; the crowd of silent workers broke forth in laughter and
cheers; and the battle had begun.

Thenceforward, all day and most of the next night, volley followed
volley; and pounds of lead and pounds sterling of money continued
to be blown into the air without cessation and almost without
result. Colonel de Coetlogon, an old soldier, described the noise
as deafening. The harbour was all struck with shots; a man was
knocked over on the German war-ship; half Apia was under fire; and
a house was pierced beyond the Mulivai. All along the two lines of
breastwork, the entrenched enemies exchanged this hail of balls;
and away on the east of the battle the fusillade was maintained,
with equal spirit, across the narrow barrier of the Fuisa. The
whole rear of the Tamaseses was enfiladed by this flank fire; and I
have seen a house there, by the river brink, that was riddled with
bullets like a piece of worm-eaten wreck-wood. At this point of
the field befell a trait of Samoan warfare worth recording. Taiese
(brother to Siteoni already mentioned) shot a Tamasese man. He saw
him fall, and, inflamed with the lust of glory, passed the river
single-handed in that storm of missiles to secure the head. On the
farther bank, as was but natural, he fell himself; he who had gone
to take a trophy remained to afford one; and the Mataafas, who had
looked on exulting in the prospect of a triumph, saw themselves
exposed instead to a disgrace. Then rose one Vingi, passed the
deadly water, swung the body of Taiese on his back, and returned
unscathed to his own side, the head saved, the corpse filled with
useless bullets.

At this rate of practice, the ammunition soon began to run low, and
from an early hour of the afternoon, the Malietoa stores were
visited by customers in search of more. An elderly man came
leaping and cheering, his gun in one hand, a basket of three heads
in the other. A fellow came shot through the forearm. "It doesn't
hurt now," he said, as he bought his cartridges; "but it will hurt
to-morrow, and I want to fight while I can." A third followed, a
mere boy, with the end of his nose shot off: "Have you any
painkiller? give it me quick, so that I can get back to fight." On
either side, there was the same delight in sound and smoke and
schoolboy cheering, the same unsophisticated ardour of battle; and
the misdirected skirmish proceeded with a din, and was illustrated
with traits of bravery that would have fitted a Waterloo or a

I have said how little I regard the alleged plan of battle. At
least it was now all gone to water. The whole forces of Mataafa
had leaked out, man by man, village by village, on the so-called
false attack. They were all pounding for their lives on the front
and the left flank of Matautu. About half-past three they
enveloped the right flank also. The defenders were driven back
along the beach road as far as the pilot station at the turn of the
land. From this also they were dislodged, stubbornly fighting.
One, it Is told, retreated to his middle in the lagoon; stood
there, loading and firing, till he fell; and his body was found on
the morrow pierced with four mortal wounds. The Tamasese force was
now enveloped on three sides; it was besides almost cut off from
the sea; and across its whole rear and only way of retreat a fire
of hostile bullets crossed from east and west, in the midst of
which men were surprised to observe the birds continuing to sing,
and a cow grazed all afternoon unhurt. Doubtless here was the
defence in a poor way; but then the attack was in irons. For the
Mataafas about the pilot house could scarcely advance beyond
without coming under the fire of their own men from the other side
of the Fuisa; and there was not enough organisation, perhaps not
enough authority, to divert or to arrest that fire.

The progress of the fight along the beach road was visible from
Mulinuu, and Brandeis despatched ten boats of reinforcements. They
crossed the harbour, paused for a while beside the Adler--it is
supposed for ammunition--and drew near the Matautu shore. The
Mataafa men lay close among the shore-side bushes, expecting their
arrival; when a silly lad, in mere lightness of heart, fired a shot
in the air. My native friend, Mrs. Mary Hamilton, ran out of her
house and gave the culprit a good shaking: an episode in the midst
of battle as incongruous as the grazing cow. But his sillier
comrades followed his example; a harmless volley warned the boats
what they might expect; and they drew back and passed outside the
reef for the passage of the Fuisa. Here they came under the fire
of the right wing of the Mataafas on the river-bank. The beach,
raked east and west, appeared to them no place to land on. And
they hung off in the deep water of the lagoon inside the barrier
reef, feebly fusillading the pilot house.

Between four and five, the Fabeata regiment (or folk of that
village) on the Mataafa left, which had been under arms all day,
fell to be withdrawn for rest and food; the Siumu regiment, which
should have relieved it, was not ready or not notified in time; and
the Tamaseses, gallantly profiting by the mismanagement, recovered
the most of the ground in their proper right. It was not for long.
They lost it again, yard by yard and from house to house, till the
pilot station was once more in the hands of the Mataafas. This is
the last definite incident in the battle. The vicissitudes along
the line of the entrenchments remain concealed from us under the
cover of the forest. Some part of the Tamasese position there
appears to have been carried, but what part, or at what hour, or
whether the advantage was maintained, I have never learned. Night
and rain, but not silence, closed upon the field. The trenches
were deep in mud; but the younger folk wrecked the houses in the
neighbourhood, carried the roofs to the front, and lay under them,
men and women together, through a long night of furious squalls and
furious and useless volleys. Meanwhile the older folk trailed back
into Apia in the rain; they talked as they went of who had fallen
and what heads had been taken upon either side--they seemed to know
by name the losses upon both; and drenched with wet and broken with
excitement and fatigue, they crawled into the verandahs of the town
to eat and sleep. The morrow broke grey and drizzly, but as so
often happens in the islands, cleared up into a glorious day.
During the night, the majority of the defenders had taken advantage
of the rain and darkness and stolen from their forts unobserved.
The rallying sign of the Tamaseses had been a white handkerchief.
With the dawn, the de Coetlogons from the English consulate beheld
the ground strewn with these badges discarded; and close by the
house, a belated turncoat was still changing white for red.
Matautu was lost; Tamasese was confined to Mulinuu; and by nine
o'clock two Mataafa villages paraded the streets of Apia, taking
possession. The cost of this respectable success in ammunition
must have been enormous; in life it was but small. Some compute
forty killed on either side, others forty on both, three or four
being women and one a white man, master of a schooner from Fiji.
Nor was the number even of the wounded at all proportionate to the
surprising din and fury of the affair while it lasted.

September--November 1888

Brandeis had held all day by Mulinuu, expecting the reported real
attack. He woke on the 13th to find himself cut off on that
unwatered promontory, and the Mataafa villagers parading Apia. The
same day Fritze received a letter from Mataafa summoning him to
withdraw his party from the isthmus; and Fritze, as if in answer,
drew in his ship into the small harbour close to Mulinuu, and
trained his port battery to assist in the defence. From a step so
decisive, it might be thought the German plans were unaffected by
the disastrous issue of the battle. I conceive nothing would be
further from the truth. Here was Tamasese penned on Mulinuu with
his troops; Apia, from which alone these could be subsisted, in the
hands of the enemy; a battle imminent, in which the German vessel
must apparently take part with men and battery, and the buildings
of the German firm were apparently destined to be the first target
of fire. Unless Becker re-established that which he had so lately
and so artfully thrown down--the neutral territory--the firm would
have to suffer. If he re-established it, Tamasese must retire from
Mulinuu. If Becker saved his goose, he lost his cabbage. Nothing
so well depicts the man's effrontery as that he should have
conceived the design of saving both,--of re-establishing only so
much of the neutral territory as should hamper Mataafa, and leaving
in abeyance all that could incommode Tamasese. By drawing the
boundary where he now proposed, across the isthmus, he protected
the firm, drove back the Mataafas out of almost all that they had
conquered, and, so far from disturbing Tamasese, actually fortified
him in his old position.

The real story of the negotiations that followed we shall perhaps
never learn. But so much is plain: that while Becker was thus
outwardly straining decency in the interest of Tamasese, he was
privately intriguing, or pretending to intrigue, with Mataafa. In
his despatch of the 11th, he had given an extended criticism of
that chieftain, whom he depicts as very dark and artful; and while
admitting that his assumption of the name of Malietoa might raise
him up followers, predicted that he could not make an orderly
government or support himself long in sole power "without very
energetic foreign help." Of what help was the consul thinking?
There was no helper in the field but Germany. On the 15th he had
an interview with the victor; told him that Tamasese's was the only
government recognised by Germany, and that he must continue to
recognise it till he received "other instructions from his
government, whom he was now advising of the late events"; refused,
accordingly, to withdraw the guard from the isthmus; and desired
Mataafa, "until the arrival of these fresh instructions," to
refrain from an attack on Mulinuu. One thing of two: either this
language is extremely perfidious, or Becker was preparing to change
sides. The same detachment appears in his despatch of October 7th.
He computes the losses of the German firm with an easy
cheerfulness. If Tamasese get up again (gelingt die
Wiederherstellung der Regierung Tamasese's), Tamasese will have to
pay. If not, then Mataafa. This is not the language of a
partisan. The tone of indifference, the easy implication that the
case of Tamasese was already desperate, the hopes held secretly
forth to Mataafa and secretly reported to his government at home,
trenchantly contrast with his external conduct. At this very time
he was feeding Tamasese; he had German sailors mounting guard on
Tamasese's battlements; the German war-ship lay close in, whether
to help or to destroy. If he meant to drop the cause of Tamasese,
he had him in a corner, helpless, and could stifle him without a
sob. If he meant to rat, it was to be with every condition of
safety and every circumstance of infamy.

Was it conceivable, then, that he meant it? Speaking with a
gentleman who was in the confidence of Dr. Knappe: "Was it not a
pity," I asked, "that Knappe did not stick to Becker's policy of
supporting Mataafa?" "You are quite wrong there; that was not
Knappe's doing," was the reply. "Becker had changed his mind
before Knappe came." Why, then, had he changed it? This
excellent, if ignominious, idea once entertained, why was it let
drop? It is to be remembered there was another German in the
field, Brandeis, who had a respect, or rather, perhaps, an
affection, for Tamasese, and who thought his own honour and that of
his country engaged in the support of that government which they
had provoked and founded. Becker described the captain to Laupepa
as "a quiet, sensible gentleman." If any word came to his ears of
the intended manoeuvre, Brandeis would certainly show himself very
sensible of the affront; but Becker might have been tempted to
withdraw his former epithet of quiet. Some such passage, some such
threatened change of front at the consulate, opposed with outcry,
would explain what seems otherwise inexplicable, the bitter,
indignant, almost hostile tone of a subsequent letter from Brandeis
to Knappe--"Brandeis's inflammatory letter," Bismarck calls it--the
proximate cause of the German landing and reverse at Fangalii.

But whether the advances of Becker were sincere or not--whether he
meditated treachery against the old king or was practising
treachery upon the new, and the choice is between one or other--no
doubt but he contrived to gain his points with Mataafa, prevailing
on him to change his camp for the better protection of the German
plantations, and persuading him (long before he could persuade his
brother consuls) to accept that miraculous new neutral territory of
his, with a piece cut out for the immediate needs of Tamasese.

During the rest of September, Tamasese continued to decline. On
the 19th one village and half of another deserted him; on the 22nd
two more. On the 21st the Mataafas burned his town of Leulumoenga,
his own splendid house flaming with the rest; and there are few
things of which a native thinks more, or has more reason to think
well, than of a fine Samoan house. Tamasese women and children
were marched up the same day from Atua, and handed over with their
sleeping-mats to Mulinuu: a most unwelcome addition to a party
already suffering from want. By the 20th, they were being watered
from the Adler. On the 24th the Manono fleet of sixteen large
boats, fortified and rendered unmanageable with tons of firewood,
passed to windward to intercept supplies from Atua. By the 27th
the hungry garrison flocked in great numbers to draw rations at the
German firm. On the 28th the same business was repeated with a
different issue. Mataafas crowded to look on; words were
exchanged, blows followed; sticks, stones, and bottles were caught
up; the detested Brandeis, at great risk, threw himself between the
lines and expostulated with the Mataafas--his only personal
appearance in the wars, if this could be called war. The same
afternoon, the Tamasese boats got in with provisions, having passed
to seaward of the lumbering Manono fleet; and from that day on,
whether from a high degree of enterprise on the one side or a great
lack of capacity on the other, supplies were maintained from the
sea with regularity. Thus the spectacle of battle, or at least of
riot, at the doors of the German firm was not repeated. But the
memory must have hung heavy on the hearts, not of the Germans only,
but of all Apia. The Samoans are a gentle race, gentler than any
in Europe; we are often enough reminded of the circumstance, not
always by their friends. But a mob is a mob, and a drunken mob is
a drunken mob, and a drunken mob with weapons in its hands is a
drunken mob with weapons in its hands, all the world over:
elementary propositions, which some of us upon these islands might
do worse than get by rote, but which must have been evident enough
to Becker. And I am amazed by the man's constancy, that, even
while blows were going at the door of that German firm which he was
in Samoa to protect, he should have stuck to his demands. Ten days
before, Blacklock had offered to recognise the old territory,
including Mulinuu, and Becker had refused, and still in the midst
of these "alarums and excursions," he continued to refuse it.

On October 2nd, anchored in Apia bay H.B.M.S. Calliope, Captain
Kane, carrying the flag of Rear-Admiral Fairfax, and the gunboat
Lizard, Lieutenant-Commander Pelly. It was rumoured the admiral
had come to recognise the government of Tamasese, I believe in
error. And at least the day for that was quite gone by; and he
arrived not to salute the king's accession, but to arbitrate on his
remains. A conference of the consuls and commanders met on board
the Calliope, October 4th, Fritze alone being absent, although
twice invited: the affair touched politics, his consul was to be
there; and even if he came to the meeting (so he explained to
Fairfax) he would have no voice in its deliberations. The parties
were plainly marked out: Blacklock and Leary maintaining their
offer of the old neutral territory, and probably willing to expand
or to contract it to any conceivable extent, so long as Mulinuu was
still included; Knappe offered (if the others liked) to include
"the whole eastern end of the island," but quite fixed upon the one
point that Mulinuu should be left out; the English willing to meet
either view, and singly desirous that Apia should be neutralised.
The conclusion was foregone. Becker held a trump card in the
consent of Mataafa; Blacklock and Leary stood alone, spoke with all
ill grace, and could not long hold out. Becker had his way; and
the neutral boundary was chosen just where he desired: across the
isthmus, the firm within, Mulinuu without. He did not long enjoy
the fruits of victory.

On the 7th, three days after the meeting, one of the Scanlons
(well-known and intelligent half-castes) came to Blacklock with a
complaint. The Scanlon house stood on the hither side of the
Tamasese breastwork, just inside the newly accepted territory, and
within easy range of the firm. Armed men, to the number of a
hundred, had issued from Mulinuu, had "taken charge" of the house,
had pointed a gun at Scanlon's head, and had twice "threatened to
kill" his pigs. I hear elsewhere of some effects (Gegenstande)
removed. At the best a very pale atrocity, though we shall find
the word employed. Germans declare besides that Scanlon was no
American subject; they declare the point had been decided by court-
martial in 1875; that Blacklock had the decision in the consular
archives; and that this was his reason for handing the affair to
Leary. It is not necessary to suppose so. It is plain he thought
little of the business; thought indeed nothing of it; except in so
far as armed men had entered the neutral territory from Mulinuu;
and it was on this ground alone, and the implied breach of Becker's
engagement at the conference, that he invited Leary's attention to
the tale. The impish ingenuity of the commander perceived in it
huge possibilities of mischief. He took up the Scanlon outrage,
the atrocity of the threatened pigs; and with that poor instrument-
-I am sure, to his own wonder--drove Tamasese out of Mulinuu. It
was "an intrigue," Becker complains. To be sure it was; but who
was Becker to be complaining of intrigue?

On the 7th Leary laid before Fritze the following conundrum: "As
the natives of Mulinuu appear to be under the protection of the
Imperial German naval guard belonging to the vessel under your
command, I have the honour to request you to inform me whether or
not they are under such protection? Amicable relations," pursued
the humorist, "amicable relations exist between the government of
the United States and His Imperial German Majesty's government, but
we do not recognise Tamasese's government, and I am desirous of
locating the responsibility for violations of American rights."
Becker and Fritze lost no time in explanation or denial, but went
straight to the root of the matter and sought to buy off Scanlon.
Becker declares that every reparation was offered. Scanlon takes a
pride to recapitulate the leases and the situations he refused, and
the long interviews in which he was tempted and plied with drink by
Becker or Beckmann of the firm. No doubt, in short, that he was
offered reparation in reason and out of reason, and, being
thoroughly primed, refused it all. Meantime some answer must be
made to Leary; and Fritze repeated on the 8th his oft-repeated
assurances that he was not authorised to deal with politics. The
same day Leary retorted: "The question is not one of diplomacy nor
of politics. It is strictly one of military jurisdiction and
responsibility. Under the shadow of the German fort at Mulinuu,"
continued the hyperbolical commander, "atrocities have been
committed. . . . And I again have the honour respectfully to
request to be informed whether or not the armed natives at Mulinuu
are under the protection of the Imperial German naval guard
belonging to the vessel under your command." To this no answer was
vouchsafed till the 11th, and then in the old terms; and meanwhile,
on the 10th, Leary got into his gaiters--the sure sign, as was both
said and sung aboard his vessel, of some desperate or some amusing
service--and was set ashore at the Scanlons' house. Of this he
took possession at the head of an old woman and a mop, and was seen
from the Tamasese breastwork directing operations and plainly
preparing to install himself there in a military posture. So much
he meant to be understood; so much he meant to carry out, and an
armed party from the Adams was to have garrisoned on the morrow the
scene of the atrocity. But there is no doubt he managed to convey
more. No doubt he was a master in the art of loose speaking, and
could always manage to be overheard when he wanted; and by this, or
some other equally unofficial means, he spread the rumour that on
the morrow he was to bombard.

The proposed post, from its position, and from Leary's well-
established character as an artist in mischief, must have been
regarded by the Germans with uneasiness. In the bombardment we can
scarce suppose them to have believed. But Tamasese must have both
believed and trembled. The prestige of the European Powers was
still unbroken. No native would then have dreamed of defying these
colossal ships, worked by mysterious powers, and laden with
outlandish instruments of death. None would have dreamed of
resisting those strange but quite unrealised Great Powers,
understood (with difficulty) to be larger than Tonga and Samoa put
together, and known to be prolific of prints, knives, hard biscuit,
picture-books, and other luxuries, as well as of overbearing men
and inconsistent orders. Laupepa had fallen in ill-blood with one
of them; his only idea of defence had been to throw himself in the
arms of another; his name, his rank, and his great following had
not been able to preserve him; and he had vanished from the eyes of
men--as the Samoan thinks of it, beyond the sky. Asi, Maunga,
Tuiletu-funga, had followed him in that new path of doom. We have
seen how carefully Mataafa still walked, how he dared not set foot
on the neutral territory till assured it was no longer sacred, how
he withdrew from it again as soon as its sacredness had been
restored, and at the bare word of a consul (however gilded with
ambiguous promises) paused in his course of victory and left his
rival unassailed in Mulinuu. And now it was the rival's turn.
Hitherto happy in the continued support of one of the white Powers,
he now found himself--or thought himself--threatened with war by no
less than two others.

Tamasese boats as they passed Matautu were in the habit of firing
on the shore, as like as not without particular aim, and more in
high spirits than hostility. One of these shots pierced the house
of a British subject near the consulate; the consul reported to
Admiral Fairfax; and, on the morning of the 10th, the admiral
despatched Captain Kane of the Calliope to Mulinuu. Brandeis met
the messenger with voluble excuses and engagements for the future.
He was told his explanations were satisfactory so far as they went,
but that the admiral's message was to Tamasese, the de facto king.
Brandeis, not very well assured of his puppet's courage, attempted
in vain to excuse him from appearing. No de facto king, no
message, he was told: produce your de facto king. And Tamasese
had at last to be produced. To him Kane delivered his errand:
that the Lizard was to remain for the protection of British
subjects; that a signalman was to be stationed at the consulate;
that, on any further firing from boats, the signalman was to notify
the Lizard and she to fire one gun, on which all boats must lower
sail and come alongside for examination and the detection of the
guilty; and that, "in the event of the boats not obeying the gun,
the admiral would not be responsible for the consequences." It was
listened to by Brandeis and Tamasese "with the greatest attention."
Brandeis, when it was done, desired his thanks to the admiral for
the moderate terms of his message, and, as Kane went to his boat,
repeated the expression of his gratitude as though he meant it,
declaring his own hands would be thus strengthened for the
maintenance of discipline. But I have yet to learn of any
gratitude on the part of Tamasese. Consider the case of the poor
owlish man hearing for the first time our diplomatic commonplaces.
The admiral would not be answerable for the consequences. Think of
it! A devil of a position for a de facto king. And here, the same
afternoon, was Leary in the Scalon house, mopping it out for
unknown designs by the hands of an old woman, and proffering
strange threats of bloodshed. Scanlon and his pigs, the admiral
and his gun, Leary and his bombardment,--what a kettle of fish!

I dwell on the effect on Tamasese. Whatever the faults of Becker,
he was not timid; he had already braved so much for Mulinuu that I
cannot but think he might have continued to hold up his head even
after the outrage of the pigs, and that the weakness now shown
originated with the king. Late in the night, Blacklock was wakened
to receive a despatch addressed to Leary. "You have asked that I
and my government go away from Mulinuu, because you pretend a man
who lives near Mulinuu and who is under your protection, has been
threatened by my soldiers. As your Excellency has forbidden the
man to accept any satisfaction, and as I do not wish to make war
against the United States, I shall remove my government from
Mulinuu to another place." It was signed by Tamasese, but I think
more heads than his had wagged over the direct and able letter. On
the morning of the 11th, accordingly, Mulinuu the much defended lay
desert. Tamasese and Brandeis had slipped to sea in a schooner;
their troops had followed them in boats; the German sailors and
their war-flag had returned on board the Adler; and only the German
merchant flag blew there for Weber's land-claim. Mulinuu, for
which Becker had intrigued so long and so often, for which he had
overthrown the municipality, for which he had abrogated and refused
and invented successive schemes of neutral territory, was now no
more to the Germans than a very unattractive, barren peninsula and
a very much disputed land-claim of Mr. Weber's. It will scarcely
be believed that the tale of the Scanlon outrages was not yet
finished. Leary had gained his point, but Scanlon had lost his
compensation. And it was months later, and this time in the shape
of a threat of bombardment in black and white, that Tamasese heard
the last of the absurd affair. Scanlon had both his fun and his
money, and Leary's practical joke was brought to an artistic end.

Becker sought and missed an instant revenge. Mataafa, a devout
Catholic, was in the habit of walking every morning to mass from
his camp at Vaiala beyond Matautu to the mission at the Mulivai.
He was sometimes escorted by as many as six guards in uniform, who
displayed their proficiency in drill by perpetually shifting arms
as they marched. Himself, meanwhile, paced in front, bareheaded
and barefoot, a staff in his hand, in the customary chief's dress
of white kilt, shirt, and jacket, and with a conspicuous rosary
about his neck. Tall but not heavy, with eager eyes and a marked
appearance of courage and capacity, Mataafa makes an admirable
figure in the eyes of Europeans; to those of his countrymen, he may
seem not always to preserve that quiescence of manner which is
thought becoming in the great. On the morning of October 16th he
reached the mission before day with two attendants, heard mass, had
coffee with the fathers, and left again in safety. The smallness
of his following we may suppose to have been reported. He was
scarce gone, at least, before Becker had armed men at the mission
gate and came in person seeking him.

The failure of this attempt doubtless still further exasperated the
consul, and he began to deal as in an enemy's country. He had
marines from the Adler to stand sentry over the consulate and
parade the streets by threes and fours. The bridge of the
Vaisingano, which cuts in half the English and American quarters,
he closed by proclamation and advertised for tenders to demolish
it. On the 17th Leary and Pelly landed carpenters and repaired it
in his teeth. Leary, besides, had marines under arms, ready to
land them if it should be necessary to protect the work. But
Becker looked on without interference, perhaps glad enough to have
the bridge repaired; for even Becker may not always have offended
intentionally. Such was now the distracted posture of the little
town: all government extinct, the German consul patrolling it with
armed men and issuing proclamations like a ruler, the two other
Powers defying his commands, and at least one of them prepared to
use force in the defiance. Close on its skirts sat the warriors of
Mataafa, perhaps four thousand strong, highly incensed against the
Germans, having all to gain in the seizure of the town and firm,
and, like an army in a fairy tale, restrained by the air-drawn
boundary of the neutral ground.

I have had occasion to refer to the strange appearance in these
islands of an American adventurer with a battery of cannon. The
adventurer was long since gone, but his guns remained, and one of
them was now to make fresh history. It had been cast overboard by
Brandeis on the outer reef in the course of this retreat; and word
of it coming to the ears of the Mataafas, they thought it natural
that they should serve themselves the heirs of Tamasese. On the
23rd a Manono boat of the kind called taumualua dropped down the
coast from Mataafa's camp, called in broad day at the German
quarter of the town for guides, and proceeded to the reef. Here,
diving with a rope, they got the gun aboard; and the night being
then come, returned by the same route in the shallow water along
shore, singing a boat-song. It will be seen with what childlike
reliance they had accepted the neutrality of Apia bay; they came
for the gun without concealment, laboriously dived for it in broad
day under the eyes of the town and shipping, and returned with it,
singing as they went. On Grevsmuhl's wharf, a light showed them a
crowd of German blue-jackets clustered, and a hail was heard.
"Stop the singing so that we may hear what is said," said one of
the chiefs in the taumualua. The song ceased; the hail was heard
again, "Au mai le fana--bring the gun"; and the natives report
themselves to have replied in the affirmative, and declare that
they had begun to back the boat. It is perhaps not needful to
believe them. A volley at least was fired from the wharf, at about
fifty yards' range and with a very ill direction, one bullet
whistling over Pelly's head on board the Lizard. The natives
jumped overboard; and swimming under the lee of the taumualua
(where they escaped a second volley) dragged her towards the east.
As soon as they were out of range and past the Mulivai, the German
border, they got on board and (again singing--though perhaps a
different song) continued their return along the English and
American shore. Off Matautu they were hailed from the seaward by
one of the Adler's boats, which had been suddenly despatched on the
sound of the firing or had stood ready all evening to secure the
gun. The hail was in German; the Samoans knew not what it meant,
but took the precaution to jump overboard and swim for land. Two
volleys and some dropping shot were poured upon them in the water;
but they dived, scattered, and came to land unhurt in different
quarters of Matautu. The volleys, fired inshore, raked the
highway, a British house was again pierced by numerous bullets, and
these sudden sounds of war scattered consternation through the

Two British subjects, Hetherington-Carruthers, a solicitor, and
Maben, a land-surveyor--the first being in particular a man well
versed in the native mind and language--hastened at once to their
consul; assured him the Mataafas would be roused to fury by this
onslaught in the neutral zone, that the German quarter would be
certainly attacked, and the rest of the town and white inhabitants
exposed to a peril very difficult of estimation; and prevailed upon
him to intrust them with a mission to the king. By the time they
reached headquarters, the warriors were already taking post round
Matafele, and the agitation of Mataafa himself was betrayed in the
fact that he spoke with the deputation standing and gun in hand: a
breach of high-chief dignity perhaps unparalleled. The usual
result, however, followed: the whites persuaded the Samoan; and
the attack was countermanded, to the benefit of all concerned, and
not least of Mataafa. To the benefit of all, I say; for I do not
think the Germans were that evening in a posture to resist; the
liquor-cellars of the firm must have fallen into the power of the
insurgents; and I will repeat my formula that a mob is a mob, a
drunken mob is a drunken mob, and a drunken mob with weapons in its
hands is a drunken mob with weapons in its hands, all the world

In the opinion of some, then, the town had narrowly escaped
destruction, or at least the miseries of a drunken sack. To the
knowledge of all, the air of the neutral territory had once more
whistled with bullets. And it was clear the incident must have
diplomatic consequences. Leary and Pelly both protested to Fritze.
Leary announced he should report the affair to his government "as a
gross violation of the principles of international law, and as a
breach of the neutrality." "I positively decline the protest,"
replied Fritze, "and cannot fail to express my astonishment at the
tone of your last letter." This was trenchant. It may be said,
however, that Leary was already out of court; that, after the night
signals and the Scanlon incident, and so many other acts of
practical if humorous hostility, his position as a neutral was no
better than a doubtful jest. The case with Pelly was entirely
different; and with Pelly, Fritze was less well inspired. In his
first note, he was on the old guard; announced that he had acted on
the requisition of his consul, who was alone responsible on "the
legal side"; and declined accordingly to discuss "whether the lives
of British subjects were in danger, and to what extent armed
intervention was necessary." Pelly replied judiciously that he had
nothing to do with political matters, being only responsible for
the safety of Her Majesty's ships under his command and for the
lives and property of British subjects; that he had considered his
protest a purely naval one; and as the matter stood could only
report the case to the admiral on the station. "I have the
honour," replied Fritze, "to refuse to entertain the protest
concerning the safety of Her Britannic Majesty's ship Lizard as
being a naval matter. The safety of Her Majesty's ship Lizard was
never in the least endangered. This was guaranteed by the
disciplined fire of a few shots under the direction of two
officers." This offensive note, in view of Fritze's careful and
honest bearing among so many other complications, may be attributed
to some misunderstanding. His small knowledge of English perhaps
failed him. But I cannot pass it by without remarking how far too
much it is the custom of German officials to fall into this style.
It may be witty, I am sure it is not wise. It may be sometimes
necessary to offend for a definite object, it can never be
diplomatic to offend gratuitously.

Becker was more explicit, although scarce less curt. And his
defence may be divided into two statements: first, that the
taumualua was proceeding to land with a hostile purpose on Mulinuu;
second, that the shots complained of were fired by the Samoans.
The second may be dismissed with a laugh. Human nature has laws.
And no men hitherto discovered, on being suddenly challenged from
the sea, would have turned their backs upon the challenger and
poured volleys on the friendly shore. The first is not extremely
credible, but merits examination. The story of the recovered gun
seems straightforward; it is supported by much testimony, the
diving operations on the reef seem to have been watched from shore
with curiosity; it is hard to suppose that it does not roughly
represent the fact. And yet if any part of it be true, the whole
of Becker's explanation falls to the ground. A boat which had
skirted the whole eastern coast of Mulinuu, and was already
opposite a wharf in Matafele, and still going west, might have been
guilty on a thousand points--there was one on which she was
necessarily innocent; she was necessarily innocent of proceeding on
Mulinuu. Or suppose the diving operations, and the native
testimony, and Pelly's chart of the boat's course, and the boat
itself, to be all stages of some epidemic hallucination or steps in
a conspiracy--suppose even a second taumualua to have entered Apia
bay after nightfall, and to have been fired upon from Grevsmuhl's
wharf in the full career of hostilities against Mulinuu--suppose
all this, and Becker is not helped. At the time of the first fire,
the boat was off Grevsmuhl's wharf. At the time of the second (and
that is the one complained of) she was off Carruthers's wharf in
Matautu. Was she still proceeding on Mulinuu? I trow not. The
danger to German property was no longer imminent, the shots had
been fired upon a very trifling provocation, the spirit implied was
that of designed disregard to the neutrality. Such was the
impression here on the spot; such in plain terms the statement of
Count Hatzfeldt to Lord Salisbury at home: that the neutrality of
Apia was only "to prevent the natives from fighting," not the
Germans; and that whatever Becker might have promised at the
conference, he could not "restrict German war-vessels in their
freedom of action."

There was nothing to surprise in this discovery; and had events
been guided at the same time with a steady and discreet hand, it
might have passed with less observation. But the policy of Becker
was felt to be not only reckless, it was felt to be absurd also.
Sudden nocturnal onfalls upon native boats could lead, it was felt,
to no good end whether of peace or war; they could but exasperate;
they might prove, in a moment, and when least expected, ruinous.
To those who knew how nearly it had come to fighting, and who
considered the probable result, the future looked ominous. And
fear was mingled with annoyance in the minds of the Anglo-Saxon
colony. On the 24th, a public meeting appealed to the British and
American consuls. At half-past seven in the evening guards were
landed at the consulates. On the morrow they were each fortified
with sand-bags; and the subjects informed by proclamation that
these asylums stood open to them on any alarm, and at any hour of
the day or night. The social bond in Apia was dissolved. The
consuls, like barons of old, dwelt each in his armed citadel. The
rank and file of the white nationalities dared each other, and
sometimes fell to on the street like rival clansmen. And the
little town, not by any fault of the inhabitants, rather by the act
of Becker, had fallen back in civilisation about a thousand years.

There falls one more incident to be narrated, and then I can close
with this ungracious chapter. I have mentioned the name of the new
English consul. It is already familiar to English readers; for the
gentleman who was fated to undergo some strange experiences in Apia
was the same de Coetlogon who covered Hicks's flank at the time of
the disaster in the desert, and bade farewell to Gordon in Khartoum
before the investment. The colonel was abrupt and testy; Mrs. de
Coetlogon was too exclusive for society like that of Apia; but
whatever their superficial disabilities, it is strange they should
have left, in such an odour of unpopularity, a place where they set
so shining an example of the sterling virtues. The colonel was
perhaps no diplomatist; he was certainly no lawyer; but he
discharged the duties of his office with the constancy and courage
of an old soldier, and these were found sufficient. He and his
wife had no ambition to be the leaders of society; the consulate
was in their time no house of feasting; but they made of it that
house of mourning to which the preacher tells us it is better we
should go. At an early date after the battle of Matautu, it was
opened as a hospital for the wounded. The English and Americans
subscribed what was required for its support. Pelly of the Lizard
strained every nerve to help, and set up tents on the lawn to be a
shelter for the patients. The doctors of the English and American
ships, and in particular Dr. Oakley of the Lizard, showed
themselves indefatigable. But it was on the de Coetlogons that the
distress fell. For nearly half a year, their lawn, their verandah,
sometimes their rooms, were cumbered with the sick and dying, their
ears were filled with the complaints of suffering humanity, their
time was too short for the multiplicity of pitiful duties. In Mrs.
de Coetlogon, and her helper, Miss Taylor, the merit of this
endurance was perhaps to be looked for; in a man of the colonel's
temper, himself painfully suffering, it was viewed with more
surprise, if with no more admiration. Doubtless all had their
reward in a sense of duty done; doubtless, also, as the days
passed, in the spectacle of many traits of gratitude and patience,
and in the success that waited on their efforts. Out of a hundred
cases treated, only five died. They were all well-behaved, though
full of childish wiles. One old gentleman, a high chief, was
seized with alarming symptoms of belly-ache whenever Mrs. de
Coetlogon went her rounds at night: he was after brandy. Others
were insatiable for morphine or opium. A chief woman had her foot
amputated under chloroform. "Let me see my foot! Why does it not
hurt?" she cried. "It hurt so badly before I went to sleep."
Siteoni, whose name has been already mentioned, had his shoulder-
blade excised, lay the longest of any, perhaps behaved the worst,
and was on all these grounds the favourite. At times he was
furiously irritable, and would rail upon his family and rise in bed
until he swooned with pain. Once on the balcony he was thought to
be dying, his family keeping round his mat, his father exhorting
him to be prepared, when Mrs. de Coetlogon brought him round again
with brandy and smelling-salts. After discharge, he returned upon
a visit of gratitude; and it was observed, that instead of coming
straight to the door, he went and stood long under his umbrella on
that spot of ground where his mat had been stretched and he had
endured pain so many months. Similar visits were the rule, I
believe without exception; and the grateful patients loaded Mrs. de
Coetlogon with gifts which (had that been possible in Polynesia)
she would willingly have declined, for they were often of value to
the givers.

The tissue of my story is one of rapacity, intrigue, and the
triumphs of temper; the hospital at the consulate stands out almost
alone as an episode of human beauty, and I dwell on it with
satisfaction. But it was not regarded at the time with universal
favour; and even to-day its institution is thought by many to have
been impolitic. It was opened, it stood open, for the wounded of
either party. As a matter of fact it was never used but by the
Mataafas, and the Tamaseses were cared for exclusively by German
doctors. In the progressive decivilisation of the town, these
duties of humanity became thus a ground of quarrel. When the
Mataafa hurt were first brought together after the battle of
Matautu, and some more or less amateur surgeons were dressing
wounds on a green by the wayside, one from the German consulate
went by in the road. "Why don't you let the dogs die?" he asked.
"Go to hell," was the rejoinder. Such were the amenities of Apia.
But Becker reserved for himself the extreme expression of this
spirit. On November 7th hostilities began again between the Samoan
armies, and an inconclusive skirmish sent a fresh crop of wounded
to the de Coetlogons. Next door to the consulate, some native
houses and a chapel (now ruinous) stood on a green. Chapel and
houses were certainly Samoan, but the ground was under a land-claim
of the German firm; and de Coetlogon wrote to Becker requesting
permission (in case it should prove necessary) to use these
structures for his wounded. Before an answer came, the hospital
was startled by the appearance of a case of gangrene, and the
patient was hastily removed into the chapel. A rebel laid on
German ground--here was an atrocity! The day before his own
relief, November 11th, Becker ordered the man's instant removal.
By his aggressive carriage and singular mixture of violence and
cunning, he had already largely brought about the fall of Brandeis,
and forced into an attitude of hostility the whole non-German
population of the islands. Now, in his last hour of office, by
this wanton buffet to his English colleague, he prepared a
continuance of evil days for his successor. If the object of
diplomacy be the organisation of failure in the midst of hate, he
was a great diplomatist. And amongst a certain party on the beach
he is still named as the ideal consul.

November 1888

When Brandeis and Tamasese fled by night from Mulinuu, they carried
their wandering government some six miles to windward, to a
position above Lotoanuu. For some three miles to the eastward of
Apia, the shores of Upolu are low and the ground rises with a
gentle acclivity, much of which waves with German plantations. A
barrier reef encloses a lagoon passable for boats: and the
traveller skims there, on smooth, many-tinted shallows, between the
wall of the breakers on the one hand, and on the other a succession
of palm-tree capes and cheerful beach-side villages. Beyond the
great plantation of Vailele, the character of the coast is changed.
The barrier reef abruptly ceases, the surf beats direct upon the
shore; and the mountains and untenanted forest of the interior
descend sheer into the sea. The first mountain promontory is
Letongo. The bay beyond is called Laulii, and became the
headquarters of Mataafa. And on the next projection, on steep,
intricate ground, veiled in forest and cut up by gorges and
defiles, Tamasese fortified his lines. This greenwood citadel,
which proved impregnable by Samoan arms, may be regarded as his
front; the sea covered his right; and his rear extended along the
coast as far as Saluafata, and thus commanded and drew upon a rich
country, including the plain of Falefa.

He was left in peace from 11th October till November 6th. But his
adversary is not wholly to be blamed for this delay, which depended
upon island etiquette. His Savaii contingent had not yet come in,
and to have moved again without waiting for them would have been
surely to offend, perhaps to lose them. With the month of November
they began to arrive: on the 2nd twenty boats, on the 3rd twenty-
nine, on the 5th seventeen. On the 6th the position Mataafa had so
long occupied on the skirts of Apia was deserted; all that day and
night his force kept streaming eastward to Laulii; and on the 7th
the siege of Lotoanuu was opened with a brisk skirmish.

Each side built forts, facing across the gorge of a brook. An
endless fusillade and shouting maintained the spirit of the
warriors; and at night, even if the firing slackened, the pickets
continued to exchange from either side volleys of songs and pungent
pleasantries. Nearer hostilities were rendered difficult by the
nature of the ground, where men must thread dense bush and clamber
on the face of precipices. Apia was near enough; a man, if he had
a dollar or two, could walk in before a battle and array himself in
silk or velvet. Casualties were not common; there was nothing to
cast gloom upon the camps, and no more danger than was required to
give a spice to the perpetual firing. For the young warriors it
was a period of admirable enjoyment. But the anxiety of Mataafa
must have been great and growing. His force was now considerable.
It was scarce likely he should ever have more. That he should be
long able to supply them with ammunition seemed incredible; at the
rates then or soon after current, hundreds of pounds sterling might
be easily blown into the air by the skirmishers in the course of a
few days. And in the meanwhile, on the mountain opposite, his
outnumbered adversary held his ground unshaken.

By this time the partisanship of the whites was unconcealed.
Americans supplied Mataafa with ammunition; English and Americans
openly subscribed together and sent boat-loads of provisions to his
camp. One such boat started from Apia on a day of rain; it was
pulled by six oars, three being paid by Moors, three by the
MacArthurs; Moors himself and a clerk of the MacArthurs' were in
charge; and the load included not only beef and biscuit, but three
or four thousand rounds of ammunition. They came ashore in Laulii,
and carried the gift to Mataafa. While they were yet in his house
a bullet passed overhead; and out of his door they could see the
Tamasese pickets on the opposite hill. Thence they made their way
to the left flank of the Mataafa position next the sea. A Tamasese
barricade was visible across the stream. It rained, but the
warriors crowded in their shanties, squatted in the mud, and
maintained an excited conversation. Balls flew; either faction,
both happy as lords, spotting for the other in chance shots, and
missing. One point is characteristic of that war; experts in
native feeling doubt if it will characterise the next. The two
white visitors passed without and between the lines to a rocky
point upon the beach. The person of Moors was well known; the
purpose of their coming to Laulii must have been already bruited
abroad; yet they were not fired upon. From the point they spied a
crow's nest, or hanging fortification, higher up; and, judging it
was a good position for a general view, obtained a guide. He led
them up a steep side of the mountain, where they must climb by
roots and tufts of grass; and coming to an open hill-top with some
scattered trees, bade them wait, let him draw the fire, and then be
swift to follow. Perhaps a dozen balls whistled about him ere he
had crossed the dangerous passage and dropped on the farther side
into the crow's-nest; the white men, briskly following, escaped
unhurt. The crow's-nest was built like a bartizan on the
precipitous front of the position. Across the ravine, perhaps at
five hundred yards, heads were to be seen popping up and down in a
fort of Tamesese's. On both sides the same enthusiasm without
council, the same senseless vigilance, reigned. Some took aim;
some blazed before them at a venture. Now--when a head showed on
the other side--one would take a crack at it, remarking that it
would never do to "miss a chance." Now they would all fire a
volley and bob down; a return volley rang across the ravine, and
was punctually answered: harmless as lawn-tennis. The whites
expostulated in vain. The warriors, drunken with noise, made
answer by a fresh general discharge and bade their visitors run
while it was time. Upon their return to headquarters, men were
covering the front with sheets of coral limestone, two balls having
passed through the house in the interval. Mataafa sat within, over
his kava bowl, unmoved. The picture is of a piece throughout:
excellent courage, super-excellent folly, a war of school-children;
expensive guns and cartridges used like squibs or catherine-wheels
on Guy Fawkes's Day.

On the 20th Mataafa changed his attack. Tamasese's front was
seemingly impregnable. Something must be tried upon his rear.
There was his bread-basket; a small success in that direction would
immediately curtail his resources; and it might be possible with
energy to roll up his line along the beach and take the citadel in
reverse. The scheme was carried out as might be expected from
these childish soldiers. Mataafa, always uneasy about Apia, clung
with a portion of his force to Laulii; and thus, had the foe been
enterprising, exposed himself to disaster. The expedition fell
successfully enough on Saluafata and drove out the Tamaseses with a
loss of four heads; but so far from improving the advantage,
yielded immediately to the weakness of the Samoan warrior, and
ranged farther east through unarmed populations, bursting with
shouts and blackened faces into villages terrified or admiring,
making spoil of pigs, burning houses, and destroying gardens. The
Tamasese had at first evacuated several beach towns in succession,
and were still in retreat on Lotoanuu; finding themselves
unpursued, they reoccupied them one after another, and re-
established their lines to the very borders of Saluafata. Night
fell; Mataafa had taken Saluafata, Tamasese had lost it; and that
was all. But the day came near to have a different and very
singular issue. The village was not long in the hands of the
Mataafas, when a schooner, flying German colours, put into the bay
and was immediately surrounded by their boats. It chanced that
Brandeis was on board. Word of it had gone abroad, and the boats
as they approached demanded him with threats. The late premier,
alone, entirely unarmed, and a prey to natural and painful
feelings, concealed himself below. The captain of the schooner
remained on deck, pointed to the German colours, and defied
approaching boats. Again the prestige of a great Power triumphed;
the Samoans fell back before the bunting; the schooner worked out
of the bay; Brandeis escaped. He himself apprehended the worst if
he fell into Samoan hands; it is my diffident impression that his
life would have been safe.

On the 22nd, a new German war-ship, the Eber, of tragic memory,
came to Apia from the Gilberts, where she had been disarming
turbulent islands. The rest of that day and all night she loaded
stores from the firm, and on the morrow reached Saluafata bay.
Thanks to the misconduct of the Mataafas, the most of the foreshore
was still in the hands of the Tamaseses; and they were thus able to
receive from the Eber both the stores and weapons. The weapons had
been sold long since to Tarawa, Apaiang, and Pleasant Island;
places unheard of by the general reader, where obscure inhabitants
paid for these instruments of death in money or in labour, misused
them as it was known they would be misused, and had been disarmed
by force. The Eber had brought back the guns to a German counter,
whence many must have been originally sold; and was here engaged,
like a shopboy, in their distribution to fresh purchasers. Such is
the vicious circle of the traffic in weapons of war. Another aid
of a more metaphysical nature was ministered by the Eber to
Tamasese, in the shape of uncountable German flags. The full
history of this epidemic of bunting falls to be told in the next
chapter. But the fact has to be chronicled here, for I believe it
was to these flags that we owe the visit of the Adams, and my next
and best authentic glance into a native camp. The Adams arrived in
Saluafata on the 26th. On the morrow Leary and Moors landed at the
village. It was still occupied by Mataafas, mostly from Manono and
Savaii, few in number, high in spirit. The Tamasese pickets were
meanwhile within musket range; there was maintained a steady
sputtering of shots; and yet a party of Tamasese women were here on
a visit to the women of Manono, with whom they sat talking and
smoking, under the fire of their own relatives. It was reported
that Leary took part in a council of war, and promised to join with
his broadside in the next attack. It is certain he did nothing of
the sort: equally certain that, in Tamasese circles, he was firmly
credited with having done so. And this heightens the extraordinary
character of what I have now to tell. Prudence and delicacy alike
ought to have forbid the camp of Tamasese to the feet of either
Leary or Moors. Moors was the original--there was a time when he
had been the only--opponent of the puppet king. Leary had driven
him from the seat of government; it was but a week or two since he
had threatened to bombard him in his present refuge. Both were in
close and daily council with his adversary, and it was no secret
that Moors was supplying the latter with food. They were
partisans; it lacked but a hair that they should be called
belligerents; it were idle to try to deny they were the most
dangerous of spies. And yet these two now sailed across the bay
and landed inside the Tamasese lines at Salelesi. On the very
beach they had another glimpse of the artlessness of Samoan war.
Hitherto the Tamasese fleet, being hardy and unencumbered, had made
a fool of the huge floating forts upon the other side; and here
they were tolling, not to produce another boat on their own pattern
in which they had always enjoyed the advantage, but to make a new
one the type of their enemies', of which they had now proved the
uselessness for months. It came on to rain as the Americans
landed; and though none offered to oppose their coming ashore, none
invited them to take shelter. They were nowise abashed, entered a
house unbidden, and were made welcome with obvious reserve. The
rain clearing off, they set forth westward, deeper into the heart
of the enemies' position. Three or four young men ran some way
before them, doubtless to give warning; and Leary, with his
indomitable taste for mischief, kept inquiring as he went after
"the high chief" Tamasese. The line of the beach was one
continuous breastwork; some thirty odd iron cannon of all sizes and
patterns stood mounted in embrasures; plenty grape and canister lay
ready; and at every hundred yards or so the German flag was flying.
The numbers of the guns and flags I give as I received them, though
they test my faith. At the house of Brandeis--a little,
weatherboard house, crammed at the time with natives, men, women,
and squalling children--Leary and Moors again asked for "the high
chief," and, were again assured that he was farther on. A little
beyond, the road ran in one place somewhat inland, the two
Americans had gone down to the line of the beach to continue their
inspection of the breastwork, when Brandeis himself, in his shirt-
sleeves and accompanied by several German officers, passed them by
the line of the road. The two parties saluted in silence. Beyond
Eva Point there was an observable change for the worse in the
reception of the Americans; some whom they met began to mutter at
Moors; and the adventurers, with tardy but commendable prudence,
desisted from their search after the high chief, and began to
retrace their steps. On the return, Suatele and some chiefs were
drinking kava in a "big house," and called them in to join--their
only invitation. But the night was closing, the rain had begun
again: they stayed but for civility, and returned on board the
Adams, wet and hungry, and I believe delighted with their
expedition. It was perhaps the last as it was certainly one of the
most extreme examples of that divinity which once hedged the white
in Samoa. The feeling was already different in the camp of
Mataafa, where the safety of a German loiterer had been a matter of
extreme concern. Ten days later, three commissioners, an
Englishman, an American, and a German, approached a post of
Mataafas, were challenged by an old man with a gun, and mentioned
in answer what they were. "Ifea Siamani? Which is the German?"
cried the old gentleman, dancing, and with his finger on the
trigger; and the commissioners stood somewhile in a very anxious
posture, till they were released by the opportune arrival of a
chief. It was November the 27th when Leary and Moors completed
their absurd excursion; in about three weeks an event was to befall
which changed at once, and probably for ever, the relations of the
natives and the whites.

By the 28th Tamasese had collected seventeen hundred men in the
trenches before Saluafata, thinking to attack next day. But the
Mataafas evacuated the place in the night. At half-past five on
the morning of the 29th a signal-gun was fired in the trenches at
Laulii, and the Tamasese citadel was assaulted and defended with a
fury new among Samoans. When the battle ended on the following
day, one or more outworks remained in the possession of Mataafa.
Another had been taken and lost as many as four times. Carried
originally by a mixed force from Savaii and Tuamasanga, the
victors, instead of completing fresh defences or pursuing their
advantage, fell to eat and smoke and celebrate their victory with
impromptu songs. In this humour a rally of the Tamaseses smote
them, drove them out pell-mell, and tumbled them into the ravine,
where many broke their heads and legs. Again the work was taken,
again lost. Ammunition failed the belligerents; and they fought
hand to hand in the contested fort with axes, clubs, and clubbed
rifles. The sustained ardour of the engagement surprised even
those who were engaged; and the butcher's bill was counted
extraordinary by Samoans. On December 1st the women of either side
collected the headless bodies of the dead, each easily identified
by the name tattooed on his forearm. Mataafa is thought to have
lost sixty killed; and the de Coetlogons' hospital received three
women and forty men. The casualties on the Tamasese side cannot be
accepted, but they were presumably much less.

November-December 1888

For Becker I have not been able to conceal my distaste, for he
seems to me both false and foolish. But of his successor, the
unfortunately famous Dr. Knappe, we may think as of a good enough
fellow driven distraught. Fond of Samoa and the Samoans, he
thought to bring peace and enjoy popularity among the islanders; of
a genial, amiable, and sanguine temper, he made no doubt but he
could repair the breach with the English consul. Hope told a
flattering tale. He awoke to find himself exchanging defiances
with de Coetlogon, beaten in the field by Mataafa, surrounded on
the spot by general exasperation, and disowned from home by his own
government. The history of his administration leaves on the mind
of the student a sentiment of pity scarcely mingled.

On Blacklock he did not call, and, in view of Leary's attitude, may
be excused. But the English consul was in a different category.
England, weary of the name of Samoa, and desirous only to see peace
established, was prepared to wink hard during the process and to
welcome the result of any German settlement. It was an
unpardonable fault in Becker to have kicked and buffeted his ready-
made allies into a state of jealousy, anger, and suspicion. Knappe
set himself at once to efface these impressions, and the English
officials rejoiced for the moment in the change. Between Knappe
and de Coetlogon there seems to have been mutual sympathy; and, in
considering the steps by which they were led at last into an
attitude of mutual defiance, it must be remembered that both the
men were sick,--Knappe from time to time prostrated with that
formidable complaint, New Guinea fever, and de Coetlogon throughout
his whole stay in the islands continually ailing.

Tamasese was still to be recognised, and, if possible, supported:
such was the German policy. Two days after his arrival,
accordingly, Knappe addressed to Mataafa a threatening despatch.
The German plantation was suffering from the proximity of his "war-
party." He must withdraw from Laulii at once, and, whithersoever
he went, he must approach no German property nor so much as any
village where there was a German trader. By five o'clock on the
morrow, if he were not gone, Knappe would turn upon him "the
attention of the man-of-war" and inflict a fine. The same evening,
November 14th, Knappe went on board the Adler, which began to get
up steam.

Three months before, such direct intervention on the part of
Germany would have passed almost without protest; but the hour was
now gone by. Becker's conduct, equally timid and rash, equally
inconclusive and offensive, had forced the other nations into a
strong feeling of common interest with Mataafa. Even had the
German demands been moderate, de Coetlogon could not have forgotten
the night of the taumualua, nor how Mataafa had relinquished, at
his request, the attack upon the German quarter. Blacklock, with
his driver of a captain at his elbow, was not likely to lag behind.
And Mataafa having communicated Knappe's letter, the example of the
Germans was on all hands exactly followed; the consuls hastened on
board their respective war-ships, and these began to get up steam.
About midnight, in a pouring rain, Pelly communicated to Fritze his
intention to follow him and protect British interests; and Knappe
replied that he would come on board the Lizard and see de Coetlogon
personally. It was deep in the small hours, and de Coetlogon had
been long asleep, when he was wakened to receive his colleague; but
he started up with an old soldier's readiness. The conference was
long. De Coetlogon protested, as he did afterwards in writing,
against Knappe's claim: the Samoans were in a state of war; they
had territorial rights; it was monstrous to prevent them from
entering one of their own villages because a German trader kept the
store; and in case property suffered, a claim for compensation was
the proper remedy. Knappe argued that this was a question between
Germans and Samoans, in which de Coetlogon had nothing to see; and
that he must protect German property according to his instructions.
To which de Coetlogon replied that he was himself in the same
attitude to the property of the British; that he understood Knappe
to be intending hostilities against Laulii; that Laulii was
mortgaged to the MacArthurs; that its crops were accordingly
British property; and that, while he was ever willing to recognise
the territorial rights of the Samoans, he must prevent that
property from being molested "by any other nation." "But if a
German man-of-war does it?" asked Knappe.--"We shall prevent it to
the best of our ability," replied the colonel. It is to the credit
of both men that this trying interview should have been conducted
and concluded without heat; but Knappe must have returned to the
Adler with darker anticipations.

At sunrise on the morning of the 15th, the three ships, each loaded
with its consul, put to sea. It is hard to exaggerate the peril of
the forenoon that followed, as they lay off Laulii. Nobody desired
a collision, save perhaps the reckless Leary; but peace and war
trembled in the balance; and when the Adler, at one period, lowered
her gun ports, war appeared to preponderate. It proved, however,
to be a last--and therefore surely an unwise--extremity. Knappe
contented himself with visiting the rival kings, and the three
ships returned to Apia before noon. Beyond a doubt, coming after
Knappe's decisive letter of the day before, this impotent
conclusion shook the credit of Germany among the natives of both
sides; the Tamaseses fearing they were deserted, the Mataafas (with
secret delight) hoping they were feared. And it gave an impetus to
that ridiculous business which might have earned for the whole
episode the name of the war of flags. British and American flags
had been planted the night before, and were seen that morning
flying over what they claimed about Laulii. British and American
passengers, on the way up and down, pointed out from the decks of
the war-ships, with generous vagueness, the boundaries of
problematical estates. Ten days later, the beach of Saluafata bay
fluttered (as I have told in the last chapter) with the flag of
Germany. The Americans riposted with a claim to Tamasese's camp,
some small part of which (says Knappe) did really belong to "an
American nigger." The disease spread, the flags were multiplied,
the operations of war became an egg-dance among miniature neutral
territories; and though all men took a hand in these proceedings,
all men in turn were struck with their absurdity. Mullan, Leary's
successor, warned Knappe, in an emphatic despatch, not to squander
and discredit the solemnity of that emblem which was all he had to
be a defence to his own consulate. And Knappe himself, in his
despatch of March 21st, 1889, castigates the practice with much
sense. But this was after the tragicomic culmination had been
reached, and the burnt rags of one of these too-frequently
mendacious signals gone on a progress to Washington, like Caesar's
body, arousing indignation where it came. To such results are
nations conducted by the patent artifices of a Becker.

The discussion of the morning, the silent menace and defiance of
the voyage to Laulii, might have set the best-natured by the ears.
But Knappe and de Coetlogon took their difference in excellent
part. On the morrow, November 16th, they sat down together with
Blacklock in conference. The English consul introduced his
colleagues, who shook hands. If Knappe were dead-weighted with the
inheritance of Becker, Blacklock was handicapped by reminiscences
of Leary; it is the more to the credit of this inexperienced man
that he should have maintained in the future so excellent an
attitude of firmness and moderation, and that when the crash came,
Knappe and de Coetlogon, not Knappe and Blacklock, were found to be
the protagonists of the drama. The conference was futile. The
English and American consuls admitted but one cure of the evils of
the time: that the farce of the Tamasese monarchy should cease.
It was one which the German refused to consider. And the agents
separated without reaching any result, save that diplomatic
relations had been restored between the States and Germany, and
that all three were convinced of their fundamental differences.

Knappe and de Coetlogon were still friends; they had disputed and
differed and come within a finger's breadth of war, and they were
still friends. But an event was at hand which was to separate them
for ever. On December 4th came the Royalist, Captain Hand, to
relieve the Lizard. Pelly of course had to take his canvas from
the consulate hospital; but he had in charge certain awnings
belonging to the Royalist, and with these they made shift to cover
the wounded, at that time (after the fight at Laulii) more than
usually numerous. A lieutenant came to the consulate, and
delivered (as I have received it) the following message: "Captain
Hand's compliments, and he says you must get rid of these niggers
at once, and he will help you to do it." Doubtless the reply was
no more civil than the message. The promised "help," at least,
followed promptly. A boat's crew landed and the awnings were
stripped from the wounded, Hand himself standing on the colonel's
verandah to direct operations. It were fruitless to discuss this
passage from the humanitarian point of view, or from that of formal
courtesy. The mind of the new captain was plainly not directed to
these objects. But it is understood that he considered the
existence of a hospital a source of irritation to Germans and a
fault in policy. His own rude act proved in the result far more
impolitic. The hospital had now been open some two months, and de
Coetlogon was still on friendly terms with Knappe, and he and his
wife were engaged to dine with him that day. By the morrow that
was practically ended. For the rape of the awnings had two
results: one, which was the fault of de Coetlogon, not at all of
Hand, who could not have foreseen it; the other which it was his
duty to have seen and prevented. The first was this: the de
Coetlogons found themselves left with their wounded exposed to the
inclemencies of the season; they must all be transported into the
house and verandah; in the distress and pressure of this task, the
dinner engagement was too long forgotten; and a note of excuse did
not reach the German consulate before the table was set, and Knappe
dressed to receive his visitors. The second consequence was
inevitable. Captain Hand was scarce landed ere it became public
(was "sofort bekannt," writes Knappe) that he and the consul were
in opposition. All that had been gained by the demonstration at
Laulii was thus immediately cast away; de Coetlogon's prestige was
lessened; and it must be said plainly that Hand did less than
nothing to restore it. Twice indeed he interfered, both times with
success; and once, when his own person had been endangered, with
vehemence; but during all the strange doings I have to narrate, he
remained in close intimacy with the German consulate, and on one
occasion may be said to have acted as its marshal. After the worst
is over, after Bismarck has told Knappe that "the protests of his
English colleague were grounded," that his own conduct "has not
been good," and that in any dispute which may arise he "will find
himself in the wrong," Knappe can still plead in his defence that
Captain Hand "has always maintained friendly intercourse with the
German authorities." Singular epitaph for an English sailor. In
this complicity on the part of Hand we may find the reason--and I
had almost said, the excuse--of much that was excessive in the
bearing of the unfortunate Knappe.

On the 11th December, Mataafa received twenty-eight thousand
cartridges, brought into the country in salt-beef kegs by the
British ship Richmond. This not only sharpened the animosity
between whites; following so closely on the German fizzle at
Laulii, it raised a convulsion in the camp of Tamasese. On the
13th Brandeis addressed to Knappe his famous and fatal letter. I
may not describe it as a letter of burning words, but it is plainly
dictated by a burning heart. Tamasese and his chiefs, he
announces, are now sick of the business, and ready to make peace
with Mataafa. They began the war relying upon German help; they
now see and say that "e faaalo Siamani i Peritania ma America, that
Germany is subservient to England and the States." It is grimly
given to be understood that the despatch is an ultimatum, and a
last chance is being offered for the recreant ally to fulfil her
pledge. To make it more plain, the document goes on with a kind of
bilious irony: "The two German war-ships now in Samoa are here for
the protection of German property alone; and when the Olga shall
have arrived" [she arrived on the morrow] "the German war-ships
will continue to do against the insurgents precisely as little as
they have done heretofore." Plant flags, in fact.

Here was Knappe's opportunity, could he have stooped to seize it.
I find it difficult to blame him that he could not. Far from being
so inglorious as the treachery once contemplated by Becker, the
acceptance of this ultimatum would have been still in the nature of
a disgrace. Brandeis's letter, written by a German, was hard to
swallow. It would have been hard to accept that solution which
Knappe had so recently and so peremptorily refused to his brother
consuls. And he was tempted, on the other hand, by recent changes.
There was no Pelly to support de Coetlogon, who might now be
disregarded. Mullan, Leary's successor, even if he were not
precisely a Hand, was at least no Leary; and even if Mullan should
show fight, Knappe had now three ships and could defy or sink him
without danger. Many small circumstances moved him in the same
direction. The looting of German plantations continued; the whole
force of Mataafa was to a large extent subsisted from the crops of
Vailele; and armed men were to be seen openly plundering bananas,
breadfruit, and cocoa-nuts under the walls of the plantation
building. On the night of the 13th the consulate stable had been
broken into and a horse removed. On the 16th there was a riot in
Apia between half-castes and sailors from the new ship Olga, each
side claiming that the other was the worse of drink, both (for a
wager) justly. The multiplication of flags and little neutral
territories had, besides, begun to irritate the Samoans. The
protests of German settlers had been received uncivilly. On the
16th the Mataafas had again sought to land in Saluafata bay, with
the manifest intention to attack the Tamaseses, or (in other words)
"to trespass on German lands, covered, as your Excellency knows,
with flags." I quote from his requisition to Fritze, December
17th. Upon all these considerations, he goes on, it is necessary
to bring the fighting to an end. Both parties are to be disarmed
and returned to their villages--Mataafa first. And in case of any
attempt upon Apia, the roads thither are to be held by a strong
landing-party. Mataafa was to be disarmed first, perhaps rightly
enough in his character of the last insurgent. Then was to have
come the turn of Tamasese; but it does not appear the disarming
would have had the same import or have been gone about in the same
way. Germany was bound to Tamasese. No honest man would dream of
blaming Knappe because he sought to redeem his country's word. The
path he chose was doubtless that of honour, so far as honour was
still left. But it proved to be the road to ruin.

Fritze, ranking German officer, is understood to have opposed the
measure. His attitude earned him at the time unpopularity among
his country-people on the spot, and should now redound to his
credit. It is to be hoped he extended his opposition to some of
the details. If it were possible to disarm Mataafa at all, it must
be done rather by prestige than force. A party of blue-jackets
landed in Samoan bush, and expected to hold against Samoans a
multiplicity of forest paths, had their work cut out for them. And
it was plain they should be landed in the light of day, with a
discouraging openness, and even with parade. To sneak ashore by
night was to increase the danger of resistance and to minimise the
authority of the attack. The thing was a bluff, and it is
impossible to bluff with stealth. Yet this was what was tried. A
landing-party was to leave the Olga in Apia bay at two in the
morning; the landing was to be at four on two parts of the
foreshore of Vailele. At eight they were to be joined by a second
landing-party from the Eber. By nine the Olgas were to be on the
crest of Letongo Mountain, and the Ebers to be moving round the
promontory by the seaward paths, "with measures of precaution,"
disarming all whom they encountered. There was to be no firing
unless fired upon. At the appointed hour (or perhaps later) on the
morning of the 19th, this unpromising business was put in hand, and
there moved off from the Olga two boats with some fifty blue-
jackets between them, and a praam or punt containing ninety,--the
boats and the whole expedition under the command of Captain-
Lieutenant Jaeckel, the praam under Lieutenant Spengler. The men
had each forty rounds, one day's provisions, and their flasks

In the meanwhile, Mataafa sympathisers about Apia were on the
alert. Knappe had informed the consuls that the ships were to put
to sea next day for the protection of German property; but the
Tamaseses had been less discreet. "To-morrow at the hour of
seven," they had cried to their adversaries, "you will know of a
difficulty, and our guns shall be made good in broken bones." An
accident had pointed expectation towards Apia. The wife of Le
Mamea washed for the German ships--a perquisite, I suppose, for her
husband's unwilling fidelity. She sent a man with linen on board
the Adler, where he was surprised to see Le Mamea in person, and to
be himself ordered instantly on shore. The news spread. If Mamea
were brought down from Lotoanuu, others might have come at the same
time. Tamasese himself and half his army might perhaps lie
concealed on board the German ships. And a watch was accordingly
set and warriors collected along the line of the shore. One
detachment lay in some rifle-pits by the mouth of the Fuisa. They
were commanded by Seumanu; and with his party, probably as the most
contiguous to Apia, was the war-correspondent, John Klein. Of
English birth, but naturalised American, this gentleman had been
for some time representing the New York World in a very effective
manner, always in the front, living in the field with the Samoans,
and in all vicissitudes of weather, toiling to and fro with his
despatches. His wisdom was perhaps not equal to his energy. He
made himself conspicuous, going about armed to the teeth in a boat
under the stars and stripes; and on one occasion, when he supposed
himself fired upon by the Tamaseses, had the petulance to empty his
revolver in the direction of their camp. By the light of the moon,
which was then nearly down, this party observed the Olga's two
boats and the praam, which they described as "almost sinking with
men," the boats keeping well out towards the reef, the praam at the
moment apparently heading for the shore. An extreme agitation
seems to have reigned in the rifle-pits. What were the newcomers?
What was their errand? Were they Germans or Tamaseses? Had they a
mind to attack? The praam was hailed in Samoan and did not answer.
It was proposed to fire upon her ere she drew near. And at last,
whether on his own suggestion or that of Seumanu, Klein hailed her
in English, and in terms of unnecessary melodrama. "Do not try to
land here," he cried. "If you do, your blood will be upon your
head." Spengler, who had never the least intention to touch at the
Fuisa, put up the head of the praam to her true course and
continued to move up the lagoon with an offing of some seventy or
eighty yards. Along all the irregularities and obstructions of the
beach, across the mouth of the Vaivasa, and through the startled
village of Matafangatele, Seumanu, Klein, and seven or eight others
raced to keep up, spreading the alarm and rousing reinforcements as
they went. Presently a man on horse-back made his appearance on
the opposite beach of Fangalii. Klein and the natives distinctly
saw him signal with a lantern; which is the more strange, as the
horseman (Captain Hufnagel, plantation manager of Vailele) had
never a lantern to signal with. The praam kept in. Many men in
white were seen to stand up, step overboard, and wade to shore. At
the same time the eye of panic descried a breastwork of "foreign
stone" (brick) upon the beach. Samoans are prepared to-day to
swear to its existence, I believe conscientiously, although no such
thing was ever made or ever intended in that place. The hour is
doubtful. "It was the hour when the streak of dawn is seen, the
hour known in the warfare of heathen times as the hour of the night
attack," says the Mataafa official account. A native whom I met on
the field declared it was at cock-crow. Captain Hufnagel, on the
other hand, is sure it was long before the day. It was dark at
least, and the moon down. Darkness made the Samoans bold;
uncertainty as to the composition and purpose of the landing-party
made them desperate. Fire was opened on the Germans, one of whom
was here killed. The Germans returned it, and effected a lodgment
on the beach; and the skirmish died again to silence. It was at
this time, if not earlier, that Klein returned to Apia.

Here, then, were Spengler and the ninety men of the praam, landed
on the beach in no very enviable posture, the woods in front filled
with unnumbered enemies, but for the time successful. Meanwhile,
Jaeckel and the boats had gone outside the reef, and were to land
on the other side of the Vailele promontory, at Sunga, by the
buildings of the plantation. It was Hufnagel's part to go and meet
them. His way led straight into the woods and through the midst of
the Samoans, who had but now ceased firing. He went in the saddle
and at a foot's pace, feeling speed and concealment to be equally
helpless, and that if he were to fall at all, he had best fall with
dignity. Not a shot was fired at him; no effort made to arrest him
on his errand. As he went, he spoke and even jested with the
Samoans, and they answered in good part. One fellow was leaping,
yelling, and tossing his axe in the air, after the way of an
excited islander. "Faimalosi! go it!" said Hufnagel, and the
fellow laughed and redoubled his exertions. As soon as the boats
entered the lagoon, fire was again opened from the woods. The
fifty blue-jackets jumped overboard, hove down the boats to be a
shield, and dragged them towards the landing-place. In this way,
their rations, and (what was more unfortunate) some of their
miserable provision of forty rounds got wetted; but the men came to
shore and garrisoned the plantation house without a casualty.
Meanwhile the sound of the firing from Sunga immediately renewed
the hostilities at Fangalii. The civilians on shore decided that
Spengler must be at once guided to the house, and Haideln, the
surveyor, accepted the dangerous errand. Like Hufnagel, he was
suffered to pass without question through the midst of these
platonic enemies. He found Spengler some way inland on a knoll,
disastrously engaged, the woods around him filled with Samoans, who
were continuously reinforced. In three successive charges,
cheering as they ran, the blue-jackets burst through their
scattered opponents, and made good their junction with Jaeckel.
Four men only remained upon the field, the other wounded being
helped by their comrades or dragging themselves painfully along.

The force was now concentrated in the house and its immediate patch
of garden. Their rear, to the seaward, was unmolested; but on
three sides they were beleaguered. On the left, the Samoans
occupied and fired from some of the plantation offices. In front,
a long rising crest of land in the horse-pasture commanded the
house, and was lined with the assailants. And on the right, the
hedge of the same paddock afforded them a dangerous cover. It was
in this place that a Samoan sharpshooter was knocked over by
Jaeckel with his own hand. The fire was maintained by the Samoans
in the usual wasteful style. The roof was made a sieve; the balls
passed clean through the house; Lieutenant Sieger, as he lay,
already dying, on Hufnagel's bed, was despatched with a fresh
wound. The Samoans showed themselves extremely enterprising:
pushed their lines forward, ventured beyond cover, and continually
threatened to envelop the garden. Thrice, at least, it was
necessary to repel them by a sally. The men were brought into the
house from the rear, the front doors were thrown suddenly open, and
the gallant blue-jackets issued cheering: necessary, successful,
but extremely costly sorties. Neither could these be pushed far.
The foes were undaunted; so soon as the sailors advanced at all
deep in the horse-pasture, the Samoans began to close in upon both
flanks; and the sally had to be recalled. To add to the dangers of
the German situation, ammunition began to run low; and the
cartridge-boxes of the wounded and the dead had been already
brought into use before, at about eight o'clock, the Eber steamed
into the bay. Her commander, Wallis, threw some shells into
Letongo, one of which killed five men about their cooking-pot. The
Samoans began immediately to withdraw; their movements were
hastened by a sortie, and the remains of the landing-party brought
on board. This was an unfortunate movement; it gave an
irremediable air of defeat to what might have been else claimed for
a moderate success. The blue-jackets numbered a hundred and forty
all told; they were engaged separately and fought under the worst
conditions, in the dark and among woods; their position in the
house was scarce tenable; they lost in killed and wounded fifty-
six,--forty per cent.; and their spirit to the end was above
question. Whether we think of the poor sailor lads, always so
pleasantly behaved in times of peace, or whether we call to mind
the behaviour of the two civilians, Haideln and Hufnagel, we can
only regret that brave men should stand to be exposed upon so poor
a quarrel, or lives cast away upon an enterprise so hopeless.

News of the affair reached Apia early, and Moors, always curious of
these spectacles of war, was immediately in the saddle. Near
Matafangatele he met a Manono chief, whom he asked if there were
any German dead. "I think there are about thirty of them knocked
over," said he. "Have you taken their heads?" asked Moors. "Yes,"
said the chief. "Some foolish people did it, but I have stopped
them. We ought not to cut off their heads when they do not cut off
ours." He was asked what had been done with the heads. "Two have
gone to Mataafa," he replied, "and one is buried right under where
your horse is standing, in a basket wrapped in tapa." This was
afterwards dug up, and I am told on native authority that, besides
the three heads, two ears were taken. Moors next asked the Manono
man how he came to be going away. "The man-of-war is throwing
shells," said he. "When they stopped firing out of the house, we
stopped firing also; so it was as well to scatter when the shells
began. We could have killed all the white men. I wish they had
been Tamaseses." This is an ex parte statement, and I give it for
such; but the course of the affair, and in particular the
adventures of Haideln and Hufnagel, testify to a surprising lack of
animosity against the Germans. About the same time or but a little
earlier than this conversation, the same spirit was being
displayed. Hufnagel, with a party of labour, had gone out to bring
in the German dead, when he was surprised to be suddenly fired on
from the wood. The boys he had with him were not negritos, but
Polynesians from the Gilbert Islands; and he suddenly remembered
that these might be easily mistaken for a detachment of Tamaseses.
Bidding his boys conceal themselves in a thicket, this brave man
walked into the open. So soon as he was recognised, the firing
ceased, and the labourers followed him in safety. This is
chivalrous war; but there was a side to it less chivalrous. As
Moors drew nearer to Vailele, he began to meet Samoans with hats,
guns, and even shirts, taken from the German sailors. With one of
these who had a hat and a gun he stopped and spoke. The hat was
handed up for him to look at; it had the late owner's name on the
inside. "Where is he?" asked Moors. "He is dead; I cut his head
off." "You shot him?" "No, somebody else shot him in the hip.
When I came, he put up his hands, and cried: 'Don't kill me; I am
a Malietoa man.' I did not believe him, and I cut his head
off...... Have you any ammunition to fit that gun?" "I do not
know." "What has become of the cartridge-belt?" "Another fellow
grabbed that and the cartridges, and he won't give them to me." A
dreadful and silly picture of barbaric war. The words of the
German sailor must be regarded as imaginary: how was the poor lad
to speak native, or the Samoan to understand German? When Moors
came as far as Sunga, the Eber was yet in the bay, the smoke of
battle still lingered among the trees, which were themselves marked
with a thousand bullet-wounds. But the affair was over, the
combatants, German and Samoan, were all gone, and only a couple of
negrito labour boys lurked on the scene. The village of Letongo
beyond was equally silent; part of it was wrecked by the shells of
the Eber, and still smoked; the inhabitants had fled. On the beach
were the native boats, perhaps five thousand dollars' worth,
deserted by the Mataafas and overlooked by the Germans, in their
common hurry to escape. Still Moors held eastward by the sea-
paths. It was his hope to get a view from the other side of the
promontory, towards Laulii. In the way he found a house hidden in
the wood and among rocks, where an aged and sick woman was being
tended by her elderly daughter. Last lingerers in that deserted
piece of coast, they seemed indifferent to the events which had
thus left them solitary, and, as the daughter said, did not know
where Mataafa was, nor where Tamasese.

It is the official Samoan pretension that the Germans fired first
at Fangalii. In view of all German and some native testimony, the
text of Fritze's orders, and the probabilities of the case, no
honest mind will believe it for a moment. Certainly the Samoans
fired first. As certainly they were betrayed into the engagement
in the agitation of the moment, and it was not till afterwards that
they understood what they had done. Then, indeed, all Samoa drew a
breath of wonder and delight. The invincible had fallen; the men
of the vaunted war-ships had been met in the field by the braves of
Mataafa: a superstition was no more. Conceive this people
steadily as schoolboys; and conceive the elation in any school if
the head boy should suddenly arise and drive the rector from the
schoolhouse. I have received one instance of the feeling instantly
aroused. There lay at the time in the consular hospital an old
chief who was a pet of the colonel's. News reached him of the
glorious event; he was sick, he thought himself sinking, sent for
the colonel, and gave him his gun. "Don't let the Germans get it,"
said the old gentleman, and having received a promise, was at

December 1888 to March 1889

Knappe, in the Adler, with a flag of truce at the fore, was
entering Laulii Bay when the Eber brought him the news of the
night's reverse. His heart was doubtless wrung for his young
countrymen who had been butchered and mutilated in the dark woods,
or now lay suffering, and some of them dying, on the ship. And he
must have been startled as he recognised his own position. He had
gone too far; he had stumbled into war, and, what was worse, into
defeat; he had thrown away German lives for less than nothing, and
now saw himself condemned either to accept defeat, or to kick and
pummel his failure into something like success; either to accept
defeat, or take frenzy for a counsellor. Yesterday, in cold blood,
he had judged it necessary to have the woods to the westward
guarded lest the evacuation of Laulii should prove only the peril
of Apia. To-day, in the irritation and alarm of failure, he forgot
or despised his previous reasoning, and, though his detachment was
beat back to the ships, proceeded with the remainder of his maimed
design. The only change he made was to haul down the flag of
truce. He had now no wish to meet with Mataafa. Words were out of
season, shells must speak.

At this moment an incident befell him which must have been trying
to his self-command. The new American ship Nipsic entered Laulii
Bay; her commander, Mullan, boarded the Adler to protest, succeeded
in wresting from Knappe a period of delay in order that the women
might be spared, and sent a lieutenant to Mataafa with a warning.
The camp was already excited by the news and the trophies of
Fangalii. Already Tamasese and Lotoanuu seemed secondary
objectives to the Germans and Apia. Mullan's message put an end to
hesitation. Laulii was evacuated. The troops streamed westward by
the mountain side, and took up the same day a strong position about
Tanungamanono and Mangiangi, some two miles behind Apia, which they
threatened with the one hand, while with the other they continued
to draw their supplies from the devoted plantations of the German
firm. Laulii, when it was shelled, was empty. The British flags
were, of course, fired upon; and I hear that one of them was struck
down, but I think every one must be privately of the mind that it
was fired upon and fell, in a place where it had little business to
be shown.

Such was the military epilogue to the ill-judged adventure of
Fangalii; it was difficult for failure to be more complete. But
the other consequences were of a darker colour and brought the


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