# 31169

"VAGABOND" [pseud. of JAMES, Stanley, 1843-1896]

[BLACKBIRDING] South Sea massacres

  • Sold

/ By the Author of “The Vagabond Papers”… … At head of cover title: “The Vagabond” Series. Sydney : “The Australian” Office, 15 Bridge Street, 1881. First (and only) edition. Octavo, original pictorial blue wrappers (chipped at corners and along spine, upper wrapper with early ownership signature ‘Thomas’ in pencil); inner wrappers with advertisements, pp [4 advertisements], 36, [8 advertisements], contents clean; a good example, very scarce in the original wrappers.

This self-published pamphlet by the Sydney journalist “Vagabond” – the nom de plume of Stanley James – was printed at a time when controversy still raged about the brutal and dehumanizing practice of blackbirding which had been conducted for decades throughout the islands of the Western Pacific. At first glance its title would, therefore, suggest that the contents concern abuses perpetrated by European colonizers – most notably the British – against indigenous populations; however, as far as James is concerned, the most heinous crimes that had been carried out in recent times – most typically in the Fijian and Solomon Islands – were the murders of British subjects by natives. Although he acknowledges that kidnapping and murder of indigenous peoples had taken place earlier in the nineteenth century, he asserts that blackbirding is a thing of the past, and that now British ‘vengeance is loudly called for’:

‘During the last few months outrage upon outrage, massacre upon massacre have been committed by the natives. Englishmen have died slow and lingering deaths; English vessels have been captured and pillaged. The savages of the Solomon Islands have been enjoying a saturnalia of bloodshed and robbery. With impunity they have followed up their misdeeds….’ (p.16)

Ferguson, 10878