Emily Bathurst; or, at Home and Abroad
"It is plain," pursued Lady Mary, "that our superabundant population must find room to expand itself beyond the confines of our little island. The New Zealanders possess a great deal more land than they want, and it would be a considerable advantage to them to have the arts and improvements of civilized life introduced amongst them. Their land is doing no good in its present uncultivated state, whereas it would be most productive and useful when managed by British industry, and improved by British capital."
"When I had the honour of visiting your ladyship at Newlands," replied the Archdeacon, "I admired particularly the extent of your park, the beautiful timber it contained, and the undulations of ground which afforded so great a variety of scenery within an easy walk of your house. Now I will page 96suppose myself a cotton manufacturer from the town of A——, which is, I think, two miles distant from Newlands."Lady M.
Three, I am glad to say.A. S.
I arrive at an early hour one fine summer's morning, and beg an audience, and being ushered into the morning room, find the lady of the mansion just rising from the breakfast table. The window commands a view which excites universal admiration. That group of trees on the left, on the rising ground above the river, is singularly picturesque.Lady M.
You remember the scene very accurately.A. S.
In my new character of cotton manufacturer, I address you on the flourishing state of trade, the increasing demand for cotton goods, the rapidly increasing population, and my earnest desire to employ as many more hands as possible; and being desirous of extending the establishment so satisfactorily commenced at A——, conclude by humbly intreating permission to erect page 97a manufactory just below those trees on the banks of the rapid little river that runs through the valley.Lady M.
You barbarous man! A cotton manufactory," with its huge chimneys and square windows, within sight of my own dwelling?A. S.
Of course, not a manufactory alone, I shall want dwellings near for my workpeople, and—Lady M.
Whither can your imagination be wandering? A row of dirty cottages; a settlement of men, women, and children in my very park, when I find three miles quite near enough for such neighbours?A. S.
I would not let them be dirty cottages; they should be good suitable brick houses, with a church and school-house into the bargain.Lady M.
And should you really expect me to consent to so preposterous a proposal?A. S.
Why not? I would make it very profitable to you; give you any rent you page 98might demand, or buy the land at so much per square inch.Lady M.
I am exceedingly obliged to you, I prefer my quiet and my present prospects to any addition to my income.A. S.
But consider the advantage to hundreds of your fellow-creatures. You know how they are herding together in the narrow lanes and alleys of A—. Fancy them enjoying the pure and fresh air which blows over your hills.Lady M.
Really I could not conceive myself bound to sacrifice my whole comfort and happiness, to say nothing of the estate which has been in our family for near a hundred years, for the benefit of those who have no claim whatever on me beyond the ordinary charities of social life, to which, I hope and believe,. I am not behindhand in contributing.A. S.
My dear lady, I am not a cotton manufacturer, nor do I suppose that any one of that respectable body would seriously page 99make you the proposal which I have pretended to offer. I have not been commissioned to make any appeal in behalf of the crowded inhabitants of A—, so do not be alarmed. But as I am in the humour for supposing, suppose now that our all-powerful Parliament, which ruthlessly cuts up quite as valued home associations as yours, should take a fancy, in the plenitude of its benevolence to A—, to oblige you to sell your land in that particular spot to a cotton manufacturer, what should you say?Lady M.
That it was a most unheard-of act of despotism, and that England could no longer be called a free country.A. S.
One more supposition, and I have done. Suppose such an Act were enforced on your neighbour Lord C—, and in fear and trembling at such spoliation extending to your property, you flew up to town by the quickest train, engaged learned counsel and special pleaders, and by dint of protracted exertions of your friends in Parliament, got an Act passed, pledging that such an inter-page 100ference should never be exercised with your property. You would then return in peace to your home.Lady M.
Certainly, and consider all my trouble well expended in securing myself from such unwelcome intruders.A. S.
Then the very next Parliament passes an Act, cancelling the one in your favour, and granting Mr. L. and Mr. B. full power to build on your estate, paying you either fair rent, or good purchase-money.Lady M.
Really your suppositions are beyond my comprehension. I know such liberties could never be taken with English subjects. You must have some hidden meaning in suggesting such atrocities which I confess myself utterly unable to fathom.A. S.
Then, now, I will try and explain myself. From the time of the discovery of New Zealand by Captain Cook, to the year 1840, the independence of those islands had never been questioned by this country. For years any settlement there would have been out of the question; the natives were bar-page 101barous, cruel, and cannibals; and when Mr. Marsden, about the year 1812, wished to settle some clergymen there, to endeavour to give them the blessings of Christian instruction, he had to wait three years before he could induce the master of any vessel to convey him and his party to this inhospitable country. At last they went, and there, in spite of innumerable dangers, a party of missionaries remained. It would take you too long a time to enter upon a detail of their proceedings; but by God's blessing on the labours of these devoted men, and of others who followed them, the whole character of the people has been changed; and now, out of a population of 110,000 in the northern island, 40,000 are attendants on public worship, and more than 4,000 are communicants.Lady M.
And this, you say, the effect of missionary labour.A. S.
Solely and entirely. Government had nothing whatever to do with it. These devoted men were supported by the voluntary contributions of certain benevolent page 102individuals in this country. But to proceed. New Zealand, with its salubrious climate and rich soil, and with the improved state of its inhabitants, offered a tempting field for settlers who wished to try their fortunes in a land where there was more scope for exertion than amongst the overgrown population of the Old World. In 1837 the New Zealand Association59 was formed in England, the object of which was the colonization of the islands of New Zealand. Government refused to support their views, and a Committee of the Lords in the following year, decided that any support which Government could afford, would be better given in aid of the exertions already made for the improvement of the religious and social condition of the Aborigines. These exertions, be it observed, were the labours of the missionaries.Lady M.
How could the New Zealand Association go on?A. S.
They next tried the Commons, and with no better success. Their Bill was thrown out at the second reading by a large page 103majority. The New Zealand Association then dissolved itself, and may be said to have re-appeared under the designation of "The New Zealand Land Company." As Government would not support them, they determined to prosecute their objects in defiance of both Crown and Parliament, and in 1839 their colonists formed a settlement in Port Nicholson, Cook's Straits, to which they gave the name of Wellington.Lady M.
This course was not a right one.A. S.
Assuredly not, and pray bear this in mind in considering the subject. Their entire proceedings were unconstitutional and illegal.* But, however, many British subjects who had gone to settle in New Zealand under the Company, were ignorant of the illegality of their proceedings, and for their sakes the Government felt compelled to pursue a course with regard to that country, to which, on grounds of general policy, they had shewn the strongest reluctance, namely, page 104the establishment of British sovereignty in New Zealand.Lady M.
But was this to be done by arms?A. S.
By no means. Entirely by treaty. Captain Hobson60 was sent out in 1839, and was to disclaim "for the Queen and her subjects any pretension to seize on the islands of New Zealand, or to gain them as a part of the kingdom of Great Britain, unless the free and intelligent consent of the natives, expressed according to their established usages, should first be obtained."Lady M.
Were they willing to give their consent?A. S.
Some were unwilling, but the larger number of the chiefs consented. One of those who was opposed to the treaty, gave as a reason for his opposition, "Your land will be taken from you, and your dignity as chiefs destroyed."Lady M.
But could the natives understand the treaty?page 105 A. S.
Most clearly and entirely. The missionaries explained it to them article by article. They assembled at Waitangi61 on the 6th of February, 1840, and Captain Hobson met them there. The treaty was concluded, and the sovereignty ceded to Great Britain on the strength of certain articles. By the 1st, the sovereignty was ceded to the Queen; by the 2d, "The Queen guaranteed to the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand, the full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession of their lands, estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess." By article 3, the Queen admitted The New Zealanders to the rights and privileges of British subjects. This treaty was understood, signed, and sealed, and at the conclusion of a speech on the subject, one of the chiefs turned to Captain Hobson and said, "You must be our father, you must not allow us to become slaves. You must preserve our customs, and never permit our lands to be wrested from us." Now, Lady Mary, am I not page 106justified in saying that by treaty, the natives of New Zealand, as British subjects, have as much right to the undisturbed possession of their lands, as you have of your park?Lady M.
Certainly. But the New Zealand Company does not wish to rob them of their lands.A. S.
What do they wish, then?Lady M.
To buy the land in order to improve it. There is much land lying waste there, which, if cultivated, would support a considerable population.A. S.
I rather think the same might be said with regard to your park, which is now only useful to the deer. Were the portions I mentioned ploughed up for wheat, or turned into potato ground, many poor families might be benefited.Lady M.
But if I don't choose to sell it for such purposes?A. S.
You have a full right to keep it; and so have The New Zealanders to keep their lands.Lady M.
I suppose I must assent to that; page 107but what steps were taken to try to overcome the repugnance of the natives to part with their lands?A. S.
A Select Committee of the House of Commons, in July, 1844, assert that the treaty of Waitangi, by Captain Hobson, was "a part of a series of injudicious proceedings, which had commenced several years previous to his assumption of the local government; that it would have been much better if no formal treaty had been made, since it is clear that the natives were incapable of comprehending the real force and meaning of such a transaction; therefore, that it amounts to little more than a mere legal fiction, and that means ought to be forthwith adopted, for establishing the exclusive title of the Crown to all lands not actually occupied and enjoyed by natives, or held under grants from the Crown."Lady M.
But are there lands unclaimed and unowned in New Zealand?A. S.
There may be some not actually occupied, but I believe it may truly be said,page 108that every part of the island is owned, and known to belong to some chief or tribe. Captain Symonds and Dr. Dieffenbach were anxious to ascend a mountain top, near Tongariro62, probably 6,000 feet high, for scientific purposes. But the natives opposed it on the ground of its having been made sacred by their forefathers, and that if the tapu were violated some evil would befall them. "They offered us gold," remarked an old chief; "had they brought us Testaments we would have consented to their going up the mountain." Thus, if the crater of a volcano, or a mountain covered with snow, be private property, it is difficult to suppose any spot on the island which is not so. Much land is uncultivated, and nothing better than sheep walks, but still it is exactly known where the boundaries of the property of the different tribes lie.Lady M.
And undoubtedly their rights of property ought to be respected.A. S.
Now, be so good as to remember that the chiefs consented to the treaty of page 109Waitangi, on the explanation of the missionaries, and solely in consequence of their confidence that they were their friends, and intended their good. Is not, therefore, the honour of the missionaries concerned in preventing the smallest infraction of the treaty? Can it be said, it is no business of the Church Missionary Society, when efforts are made to set that aside, on which alone The New Zealanders consented to submit to the sovereignty of Great Britain; and that this consent was given by means of their missionaries alone?Lady M.
I am compelled to give a verdict in your favour, and to acquit the Church Missionary Committee of undue interference in politics in this instance. And I must concede so far as to say, that I rejoice, for the honour of our country, that The New Zealanders have such faithful friends and defenders. But I really must apologize to Mrs. Bathurst for remaining till such an hour. Your poof daughter has been looking at you, Dr. Somerton, with despairing eyes for the page 110last half hour, but I cannot let you go till I have thanked you most heartily for clearing my mind of the haze which enveloped it in all previous considerations of this interesting subject.
59 Merged with the New Zealand Company in 1837 .
60 William Hobson, a British Royal Navy officer who served as the first Governor of New Zealand.
61 A locality in the Bay of Islands.
62 Mount Tongariro, a volcano in the North Island of New Zealand.
* N.B. The Company is now dissolved.