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Historical Records of New Zealand

Sir Joseph Banks to Governor King. (King Papers.)

Sir Joseph Banks to Governor King. (King Papers.)

Soho Square, 29th August, 1804.

My Dear Sir,—

As the opportunity by which I now write is not a King’s ship, I shall not say much on the points we usually correspond on. All worth mentioning is that I had a great loss in Lord Hobart’s going out of office; for I had just prevailed upon His Lordship and Mr. Sullivan, his Secretary, to understand the history of your colony, and was in hopes of going on better than I ever have done, when His Lordship resigned.

I have a new task to undertake, to bring Lord Camden and Mr. Cooke into the same happy disposition. I do not, however, despair of doing it before the ship, whatever she may be, that is to replace the Porpoise is fitted out; and I shall struggle hard to get a garden on board her, and some shepherds’ dogs.

What is become of Fleming I do not know. He came to me on his arrival, and found me sick in my bed, where I lay near three months. When I got up, Fleming was not to be found. I conclude, therefore, he has got some berth, either honest or dishonest, which he likes better than an appointment in your colony, which, from the recommendation you give me, I should have struggled hard to obtain for him.

Barrallier come to me as soon as he arrived, having learned that his unintelligible journals had been sent to me, and requested to borrow them that he might correct them and transcribe them

This is the man whom King sent Home in charge of plants, &c. From a subsequent letter (16th October, 1804) it will be seen that he had accepted a situation in a botanic garden in the West Indies.

page 250 fair. I put them into his hands on condition of receiving them back. He soon after went to Milford, where his father is building a large ship for Government, and I have not since heard of him. The stones he brought from the mountains are in my hands; but nothing in them seems to promise either scientific or profitable discovery. The many things you have been so good as to send to me by the Glatton and the Greenwich came safe, and so, I trust, have those by the Calcutta. I have got Mr. Brown’s plants and Mr. Westhall’s drawings; the rest will come up in a day or two.

The root you send me, and propose as a substitute for hops, does not taste bitter, or very little so. It has a bad taste, which I think would spoil the beer. Your hops will be two years old when this comes to hand, and will have borne some fruit this season; next they will give you a good crop. I would advise you, therefore, to wait with patience, and not search for substitutes which, if of ever so promising a nature, might have evil effects on the human constitution.

I will enquire for Mr. Chapman.* He called once upon me, and I was not at home. I wrote to him the next day, wishing to see him, but have not, and conclude he is gone into the country.

Poor Flinders, you know, I suppose, put into Isle de France for water, and was detained as a prisoner, and treated as a spy. Our Government have no communication with the French; but I have some with their literary men, and have written, with the permission of Government, to solicit his release, and have sent in my letter a copy of the very handsome one M. Baudin left with you. If this should effect Flinders’s liberation, which I think it will, we shall both rejoice.

Allen, the miner, has arrived safe. He left his chief collections; but, among the few things he had preserved for himself, I see nothing worthy of much notice.

Your linen, made from flax grown at Sydney, lays before me; a very good linen it is. I conclude that you do not mean that it is made of New Zealand flax, and I fear it is not a cheap article.

I do not think you need to trouble yourself about getting possession of the fine-woolled sheep for Government. If the project for breeding them succeeds, they must soon become so abundant that the genius of your people, who will not let a potato stay under ground till it is ripe, will soon spread them over the country.

* W. N. Chapman (Secretary to Governor King) was, at the time Banks penned the above letter, in England on leave.

page 251

A proposal has been made to institute a company here with a capital of £10,000 for the purpose of increasing the breed of sheep, which are to become the property of the subscribers—the wool, I mean—and the mutton to remain that of Mr. McArthur, the manager. Government have been applied to to make grants of land for that purpose. I have advised that a grant be made of a million of acres in such parts as Capt. McArthur shall chuse, at a proper distance from all settlements, for the sole purpose of feeding sheep, resumable at the will of Government, whenever any part of it may be appropriated to tillage or other purposes, on satisfaction being made for any stock-houses on the premises resumed, and an equal quantity of land granted at a more distant point, 100,000 acres at first and 100,000 more when 100,000 fine-wooll’d sheep are actually in existence on the first 100,000, and so on.*

Col. Paterson complains to me of the asperity of some expressions you have used to him. I fear I ought not to doubt of his having richly deserved them; yet, as I sincerely wish the colony to prosper, I as sincerely desire that you two may again be friends and pull together for the good of the whole. I have written to him on the subject and stated the necessity of a reconciliation on his part, as I am confident that no well-regulated Government will suffer a Governor and a Lt.-Governor to remain together if on bad terms, and that in that case he must be recall’d. I cannot therefore but hope that a little relaxation on your part may bring about a reconciliation, and that a sense of the value of your friendship to the Colonel may make it both permanent and sincere on his part.

I observe that I have paid in very little money on Caley’s account to your agent. I wish you would favour me with a request to pay in more. I should be thankful, as I do not like to be in debt in money matters to a man to whom I owe so much for literary assistance.

I send to you with this two volumes of the natural history of the Paraguay for the chapter in the second volume, which give some account of the manner of managing housed stock in an open country. Some hints from it may be used by you and be useful. The chief thing to be wished for is some person from Buenos Ayres, skilled in the management and the use of the bullet

* This scheme, proposed by Captain Macarthur, was never carried out. A smaller quantity of land was granted to him, and he undertook the breeding of fine-woolled sheep as a private investment. It is his enterprise in devoting his means to the cultivation of such an industry, and his assiduity and zeal in bringing the matter before the British Government and clothing manufacturers at Home, that entitle Captain Macarthur to be honoured as the founder of the wool-growing industry in Australia.

page 252 and thong; this may be effected by the S. whalers and shall be propos’d to Government.

I doubt whether you did well or not in killing the savage bulls. They are the defenders of the herd against savages. New ones, however, will spring up from among the younger ones within a fortnight and be in a month quite as savage as their predecessors.

I thank you very much for the Gazettes you have been so good as to send me. Your papers are rather under the influence of Government and no opposition Gazette can yet be set up. They give, in my opinion, a most unequivocal testimony of the flourishing state of the colony and bring forward some excellent matters and regulations which have from time to time taken place much to your honor and somewhat to that of Lord Hobart and His Lordship’s advisers. Pray be so good as to continue them as regularly as you can. I have at present from No. l to ll and from 30 to 54; the intermediate ones, 12–29 inclusive, have not been sent.

Caley, who always was very useful to me, has of late sent me Home many very interesting things, and seems industrious in the extreme. I feel a particular obligation to you for bearing with the effusions of his ill-judging spirit. Had he been born a gentleman, he would have been shot long ago in a duel. As it is, I have borne with much more than ever you have done, under a conviction that he acted under strong tho’ mistaken feelings of a mind honest and upright. I expect much from his excursion to the south, where everything is new.

There is only one part of your conduct as Governor which I do not think right—that is, your frequent reprieves. I would have justice, in the case of those under your command who have already forfeited their lives and been once admitted to a commutation of punishment, to be certain and inflexible, and no one case on record where mere mercy, which is a deceiving sentiment, should be permitted to move your mind from the inexorable decree of blind justice. Circumstances may often make mercy necessary—I mean those of suspected error in conviction—but mere whimpering soft-heartedness never should be heard.

Excuse the desultory state of this letter. It was written, as most of mine, at intervals between numerous interruptions which have too frequently broke in upon the arrangement of matter which ought and otherwise would have taken place.

Believe me, &c.,

Jos. Banks.