Return of Governor Sir George Grey.
Thursday, the 26th September, 1861, will, in all probability, be recorded as one of the most memorable days in the future history of New Zealand; for, on that day, his Excellency Sir George Grey, after an absence of nearly eight years,—having relinquished the superior government of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope, at the express desire Of the Imperial Government of Great Britain—returned to the scene of his pristine, and most successful, achievements again, we confidently trust and firmly believe, to rescue New Zealand from the condition to which it has latterly fallen.
On Thursday, at a little before 6 a.m., signal for a steamer was flying; and shortly afterwards a telegraphic annunciation was made that she had a personage of distinction on board. At a little after 6 o'clock, the stranger rounded the North Head, and under the guidance of Captain Burgess, Pilot, came to abreast of Fort Britomart. The steamer proved to be H.M. Corvette Cossack, 20 guns, 1388 tons, Captain Richard Moorman, forty-one days from Table Bay, whence she took her departure on the morning of the 16th August, his Excellency having been detained until the 15th in order to prorogue one of the longest and most important Sessions of the Cape Parliament yet on record,—upwards of one hundred days having transpired. The Cossack, we may here (par parenthesé) remark, is one of two very fine corvettes built for the Russian Government, in 1854 (Tartar being the second), by Messrs. Pilcher of Northfleet, and seized by the British Government on the outbreak of the Crimean war. The Cossack is further remarkable as the ship on whose boats the violation of the flag of truce was perpetrated in the Baltic at Hango. She is a fine ship—such as might be expected from such able constructors as those by whom she was designed. Early as was the hour of the Cossack’s arrival, our citizens were by no means caught napping. Long before her anchor had struck bottom, more than one shore boat was along side to greet the returning Governor, who was equally on the alert to welcome his old familiar friends. The news of his arrival spread like wildfire ; and if we ever witnessed downright enthusiasm in Auckland it was on Thursday last. It was not only a holiday, but a day of universal Jubilee. Business by common accord, was entirely suspended; every shop and warehouse remained closed; even our own printers—those untiring slaves of the Press—set canes and composing sticks at defiance; the inmates of every house and tenement poured forth in their gayest array; the streets swarmed with an excited and delighted population, and the universal stream was directed towards the Wynyard Pier, where it was supposed the Governor would land at an early hour. In this assumption, however, the anxious citizens were mistaken. There were requisite arrangements to be made; and the holiday and eager crowd were, very good humouredly, obliged to postpone their expectations until near 3 o'clock, about which hour it was officially notified that his Excellency would debark at the Queen-street Wharf.
By 2 o'clock, active preparations to greet the returning ruler, with a cead mille failté, were observable in every direction. The streets were alive. Every window, every wall, every outside ladder,or stair-case, on the line of march, was densely packed. Horse, Foot, Artillery, Rifle Volunteers, the latter, with their Band playing “Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot,” were converging towards the Queen-street Wharf. We have witnessed our hills, our bays, our wharves, our every coin of vantage crowded and crammed on Regatta and other national fête days, but never, since Auckland was Auckland, did we witness such a universal turn out as that which greeted the return of Sir George Grey. We know but one Colonial parallel, that which deplored the departure of that great and good Governor Sir George Gipps when he retired from the government of New South Wales. The Queen-street Wharf, throughout its entire length, from Custom House-street to the outermost T was kept by the troops in garrison, ported in the following order:—Abreast the landing stairs was a guard of honour, comprising a hundred rank and file with the Band and regimental colour of the 65th Regiment, under the command of Captain MacGregor, Lieutenants Talbot, and Pagan; then the Auckland Volunteer Coast Guard, under Lieutenants Hobbs and Graham, and the Auckland Volunteer Rifles with their Band in command of Lieutenant-Colonel Balneavis; both divisions of these, our truly national guards, presented a highly soldierly and steady appearance; next to them were placed all the available officers and soldiers of the 65th Regiment, commanded by Colonel Young; then came the Royal Engineers under Captain Mould; the Foot Artillery under Captain Strover; and the Horse Artillery under Captain Watson. The serenity and beauty of the day, the glittering Military array extending along the great length of the Wharf, the hills which encompass it covered with crowds of well-dressed spectators; the harbour studded with noble shipping, as well of her Majesty’s as of the Merchant service, decorated with their many coloured Bunting, presented a most striking and lively picture.
At 20 minutes to 3 o'clock, H.M. Ship Cossack manned yards and rigging and commenced a salute of seventeen guns, and her barge, with his Excellency on board, was discovered to be rapidly approaching the landing place where his Excellency Governor Gore Browne was the first to welcome Sir George Grey on shore. The leading officials, civil and military, together with many of the old colonists were also in waiting to receive him. Amongst these were Lieutenant-General Cameron, C.B.; Major Whitmore, Military Secretary; Capt. McNeill, A.D.C; Colonel Mould, R.E.; Colonel Wyatt, 65th Regt.; Colonel Sillery, Q.M G.; Capt. Mercer, R.A,; Major Marshall, 65th regt.; Messrs. Jones, Bartlett, Chislett, and Dunn of the Commissariat department; Messrs. Hamley, and Johns, Ordnance; Dr. Carter 14th Regt., P.M.O.; Drs. White, and Neill, 63th Regt.; Messrs. DeBurgh, Adams, Wright, and Bull, Medical Purveyors; Staff Assist.-Surgeon Everett. Among the civilian officers of the Government were the Honbles. W. Fox, Colonial-Secretary; Reader Wood, Colonial-Treasurer; H. Sewell, Attorney-General; W.B.D. Mantell, Native-Minister; Dr. Pollen, M.L.C.; Thos. Henderson, M.G.A.; John Williamson, Esq., Superintendent of the Province of Auckland; J.A. Gilfillan, Esq., Hon. H.J. Tancred, Alexander Kennedy, Esq., Thomas S. Forsyth, Esq., &c. Immediately that his Excellency stepped on shore Fort Britomart commenced pealing forth a salute of welcome; amidst the cheers that proceeded from the multitudes perched on the surrounding hills. The Bands struck up the National Anthem, and the cortege passed up the line to Custom House-street where a carriage was in waiting to convey their Excellencies, escorted by the Mounted Artillery to Government House, the foot soldiers , rifle volunteers and coast guard closing up and, with bands playing, following in the rear—thus ending one of the most memorable ceremonies that has ever yet been witnessed in New Zealand. We must not conclude, without noticing a very characteristic and gratifying incident; we allude to the exuberant delight manifested by a large assemblage of natives collected on the conspicuous grounds at Smale's Point, and who with song, and every expression of joy, welcomed their old friend back again.
In another portion of this morning’s issue we have given ample details of the expression of the feelings of the Cape colonists at losing the great and successful statesman whom we have so happily regained. Their deep felt and truthful regrets will, no doubt, instruct us to appreciate his approved merit, and to cordially unite in lending our utmost co-operation and support in furtherance of the grave and important mission which he has so disinterestedly come hither to fulfil.