|| [ Cutting taken from Hobart Mercury, Saturday January 11, 1873 ]
THE CARL CAPTIVES.
The following correspondence relative to the release of the Carl captives has passed between the Chief Secretary and Commodore Sterling :-
Memorandum to his Excellency the Right Hon. Viscount Canterbury, K.C.B., Governor of Victoria.
Since the date of the Chief Secretary's previous minute to his Excellency, offering the Victoria steamship to assist in putting a stop to the kidnapping of the natives of the Polynesian Islands, a deputation waited on the Government urging that steps should be taken to restore to their homes the survivors of the massacre on board the Carl at present at Fiji, and amounting it is stated to about 144 persons.
The Chief Secretary informed the deputation that no special obligation rested on this colony to restore those persons to their native islands, and that, although he personally felt some sympathy with the feelings they expressed, he could not avoid seeing that if the Government undertook to provide a vessel (as the deputation expressed it to the Government) to convey them back, its action would be liable to be misconstrued into a kind of admission that the colony regarded itself as being answerable for the wrongs perpetrated on board the Carl, and responsible for seeing the wrongs redressed.
Being, however, urged not to allow these considerations to stand in the way of an act of humanity, and being also given to understand that unless some authority intervened on their behalf the unfortunate persons referred to would, in all probability, remain deprived of their liberty for a lengthened period, Mr. Francis finally consented to bring the matter under your Excellency's notice. He now does so, and desires, at the same time, to acquaint his Excellency that if the commodore in command of Her Majesty's squadron on this station, or Consul March at Levuka, is of opinion, under all the circumstances of the case, that the kidnapped islanders should be sought out and returned to their homes, and that this could be done in an efficient and speedy manner. The Government of this colony is prepared, in the interests of humanity, and if the object in view has not been effected previously by Imperial authority, or by other means, to incur any reasonable cost to that end, even to the extent of placing the Victoria at the disposal of the commodore for the purpose, if no other plan suggests itself. (Signed) J.G. FRANCIS.
Clio, at Sydney, 27th December, 1872.
My Lord,-In reply to your lordship's letter, dated 19th December, 1872, enclosing copy of a memorandum submitted to you by the Chief Secretary of Victoria, recommending that steps should be taken for the restoration to their homes of the survivors of the massacres on board the Carl.
I have the honour to acquaint your lordship that this subject has already engaged my attention, and I am now taking steps towards the desired object.
There will not be much difficulty in returning the Line islanders to their homes; but as regards the Solomon islanders great care will have to be used. Your lordship is doubtless aware that if the latter are landed on any spot, even a mile from their homes, they will be killed by the neighbouring natives. There will be great difficulty in finding out where these spots are, and in tracing the natives now in Fiji.
It is not so much the want of ships, as the foregoing circumstances, which prevent, on the instant, the return of the natives to their homes. Some little time must elapse in making preliminary arrangements, and in communicating with H.M.'s Consul at Levuka, and Mr. Codrington, at Norfolk Island, to whom I intend to apply for assistance in the way of interpreters and information.
It may become absolutely necessary to request Dr. Murray's assistance, but I am very loath to do this; and, indeed, shall not, unless I find that his aid cannot be dispensed with.
If at any time I find that the Victoria will be of any assistance in performing this charitable object, I shall not fail to apply to the Victorian Government for her, or for any other help which they may reasonably give under the circumstances.
I have the honour to be, my lord, your lordship's obedient servant, F.H. STIRLING
P.S. - Of the number landed at Fiji, only sixty were Solomon Islanders. Many of those natives, have, I hear, since died.