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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3

Mr. Edward Wakefield

Mr. Edward Wakefield.

America has at the present time a distinguished visitor from New Zealand, in the person of Mr Edward Wakefield, the ablest journalist our colony has produced. Mr Wakefield is a nephew of the Colonel of that name who organized the New Zealand Company, by which the first systematic attempts at colonization were made; and the Wakefield family has produced men who have greatly aided in the advancement of the colony. The subject of this sketch, though only about forty years of age, has already made himself one of our men of mark, apart from his ability as a journalist. He was for many years a member of our House of Representatives, and when Major (now Sir Harry) Atkinson formed his Ministry in 1884, Mr Wakefield was appointed Colonial Secretary. He is a finished orator, and as a lecturer upon literary subjects his services were in continual demand. He is by profession an editor, and for many years his leaders have been extensively read, displaying as they do, wide information, keen observation, and a highly-developed critical faculty. For the past five or six years Mr Wakefield has been editor and part proprietor of the Evening Press of this city, and he published in the columns of that paper a novel, « The Hermit of Island Bay, » which was closely followed by an interested public.

Some two years ago Mr Wakefield was appointed by the Government to compile a « Handbook of New Zealand, » which was to be written in a readable popular style, instead of the orthodox dry-as-dust statistical book. Our journalist set to work with zest upon his task, for it was a labor of love, when suddenly a split in the Cabinet occurred, in which he, as an editor, was involved—and his services as a compiler were dispensed with. It was thought by those who were eagerly looking forward to the appearance of the handbook that it was knocked on the head—but the compiler took his copy home with him when he got notice to quit, on the chance, you know, that it might come in useful.

Allow me at this point to introduce the French Consul, Count Jouffray d'Abbans. The Count had in his possession a batch of MS. which was a record of the early missions of the French Roman Catholic priests in this Colony. These records are of great value in their bearing upon our early history. It is not generally known that the French dreamed dreams of our colony in the early days, and that it presented a new see land to their eyes—but while they were gazing England took possession. Now, in the split in the Cabinet to which I have referred, the Count was also involved, which probably brought the titled representative of a republican nation and the editor together, with the result that they have each put their copy on the same hook, with a title-page that reads something like this: « New Zealand in 1889, after 50 years, by Edward J. Wakefield and Count Jouffray d'Abbans. »

We have at last come right up to the cause of Mr Wakefield's appearance in Brother Jonathan's country. The « History » is to appear simultaneously in New York, Paris, and London. Messrs Harper Bros. have undertaken its publication in New York and London, having offered the authors splendid terms, undertaking also to publish in book-form the novel I have referred to, as well as a volume of « Sketches » and « Adventures in New Zealand, » written by Mr Wakefield. Count d'Abbans is now in Paris looking after the French edition of the history, which I understand will amount to the goodly number of 50,000 copies. The history will run into 400 pp. octavo, profusely illustrated, and is to be published at a very popular price, 2/6 in paper, and in cloth a little extra. As Mr Wakefield is to be in Wellington again in six months, his works will no doubt be placed on the market before he leaves the Old Country.

I have been informed that Mr Wakefield has received a large advertizing patronage for his history. It is stated that £1500 has been received, and that the price per page was £25.