Historical Records of New Zealand
John Thomson to Henry Dundas
John Thomson to Henry Dundas.
The Right Honourable Henry Dundas, one of His Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State.
Hearing that superintendants of the agriculture at Botany Bay were needed, and having had a good deal of experience in various parts of S. and N. Britain, I offer myself for that service, if in other respects it can be made agreeable; if the State needs such a servant, one of your Secretaries or Clerks may find me at Burford, Oxfordshire, where any letter directed to me by name will find me.
John Thomson, A.M., Ed.
If the Ministry should think fit now, in profound peace, to settle a colony in New Zealand or Nootka with fifty sober men, one hundred seapoys, and 100 convicts, and with provisions for one year and military stores for twice the number of men, I think I could effect it. If you please to see the scheme, it follows.
The inhabitants of New Zealand are just in that state of civilisation proper to be made useful. By coming upon the coast in a friendly manner, and observing the state of the people, an opportunity may be found to join one tribe against another, which last, on conquest, would be obliged to submit to your own conditions, which must be to furnish a town and district, with an engagement to refrain from war unless when in alliance with you. This unheard of clemency in that country would have a great effect on the neighbours, more might be reduced and hostages received, who, by being taught and well treated, would introduce civilisation and render the country, now so inhospitable, then an asylum for distressed mariners. By introducing the European grains and roots in addition to those already cultivated it might be an emporium for many nations, and by page 585 strengthening the garrison in proportion to the value of the island, I doubt not but it might be equally protected and equally useful with the Sunda or Philippine Islands; and the inhabitants once brought under command, would favour the settling many places in New Holland where pearl fisheries would be established. My method of bringing the natives under command is this: By the superiority of firearms there is no doubt of subduing the most powerful kings; bring him under by confining himself or taking hostages; make him give orders to his people and share the revenues. A fleet of canoes by no means formidable to armed ships, yet powerful in these seas, might be equipped, with stationary shields, prows, awnings, slings, cows, and other European machinery quite unknown in that country; a discipline might be introduced (without firearms) which would make them superior to their neighbours; thus they would subdue each other, and we be their master; hence peace would ensue, and subjection, and agriculture, a little known, almost eradicated by wars, would thrive, and the King of England would enjoy a fine country, from whence he might conquer the greatest part of the South Sea Islands, and conquest would bring peace, hence improvement and civilisation, &c.—a work worthy of so great a King, distinguished for his philanthropy. This I, with an ensign’s commission, with the number of men mentioned above, drawn from any sober regiments, would effect in a few years, to the honour of you, and good of mankind in general. Indians when treated with honour will be so many more faithful subjects of the Crown, as who cannot escape in a rude extended country. I should be happy if from the hint it were practised by any other, but I should have no fear to engage and succeed.