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The Life and Times of Sir George Grey, K.C.B.


page 479


{Note A.—See pages 32 to 45.)
Frederick Smyt H.

In the account of Grey's second exploration in Australia, there are two or three brief allusions to the brave lad who found a grave in the wilderness. Since that account has been in print, Sir George Grey has expressed to the writers his earnest desire that a more definite tribute should be paid to the memory of one who may be regarded as having met the death of a martyr in the cause of science and discovery, led on by personal friendship and affection for Sir George himself. Frederick Smyth came of a very good old English family. His grandfather and uncle successively represented Norwich in the House of Commons for many years. The likeness here produced is from a picture taken by Richmond, a copy of which is in Sir George Grey's possession.

(Note B.—See pages 62 to 65.)Stokes' Charges and Darwin's Letters.

The controversy alluded to between Captain Stokes and Sir George Grey, in pages 62 to 65, led to a strange correspondence between Grey and Darwin. The great naturalist had sailed on his memorable voyage in the Beagle a few years before she was employed to convey Grey and Lushington to Australia. Mr. Stokes was at that page 480time second lieutenant of the Beagle, and after Darwin's return to England a somewhat intimate and familiar correspondence was maintained by the author of the "Origin of Species" and the naval officer. Grey occupied the cabin formerly used by Darwin.

Fredertck Smyth.

Fredertck Smyth.

Captain Stokes communicated to Darwin the results of his so called survey of the country between Perth and Shark's Bay, and asked his friend's opinion—first, as to the propriety of Grey's page 481action; and, secondly, as to whether, in his opinion, the latter could reasonably be offended at the stand which he, Stokes, had taken.

Dr. Darwin was greatly surprised at the substance of this letter, and relying entirely upon the accuracy and good faith of his correspondent, stated in reply that he was grieved and astonished that a gentleman of Grey's character should, either by mistake or intention, have been guilty of such gross and dangerous errors.

In some strange way this letter found a place within the pages of a new book, forwarded with others by his publisher in London, to Grey, when Governor of New Zealand in 1846. Sir George, who had a great respect for Darwin, immediately enclosed this letter to its author, at the same time vindicating his own conduct and justifying the reports which he had made. The following correspondence then ensued:—

Down Farnborongh, Kent,

November 3rd, 1846.

My dear Stokes,—I have just received, to my great surprise, the letters of which the enclosed are verbatim copies. That with my signature was in my handwriting. I remember enclosing it to you with one of your proof sheets in answer to some query, whether Captain Grey could be offended at your manner of referring to some bay or river. I beg you to inform me immediately how it could possibly have been sent to Sir G. Grey. It places me in the position of wishing to make myself presumptuously impertinent to him—a position the very opposite to my feelings regarding him. I shall, of course, inform Sir G. Grey that I have written to you, and I should think it would be most agreeable to yourself to allow me to enclose your entire answer, or at least a paragraph from it, and I shall enclose a copy of this note. He will then see the whole part which I have been made by some means to play in this disagreeable affair.

To this Stokes replied as follows:—

November 6th, 1846.

My dear Darwin,—Your letter of the 8th, with its enclosure, lias greatly surprised and annoyed me. I remember receiving the note of yours you have alluded to, and thought I had destroyed it at the time; but how or by what, unfair means it has been most wickedly sent to Governor Grey, I am quite at a loss to know. It gives me great concern to think that I should in any way be the means of placing you in such a disagreeable position, and rest assured it will ever be a matter of deep regret to your very faithful friend,

W. Stokes.

P.S.—I shall endeavour to find out Hie mischief-maker.

On November 10th, Darwin wrote to the Governor of New Zealand in these words:—

My dear Sir,—I beg to thank you for the courteous tone of your com-page 482munication of the 10th of May, 1846, considering the circumstances under which it was written. I enclose a letter which I immediately wrote to Captain Stokes, and his answer. These will, T trust, exonerate us of intentional impertinence. Some most malicious person must have sent my note to you. I have been much mortified by perusing it, and though I am not presumptuous enough to suppose that you can care much for my opinion of your work on Australia, it is a satisfaction to me to be enabled to name to myself many individuals to whom I have expressed my strong opinion of the very high qualities shown in your work, of which the amusement it afforded was but a small part. Your account of the aborigines I have always thought one of the ablest ever written. As we are not likely to have any further communication, permit me to add that I have a most pleasant recollection of our former acquaintance. With much respect I beg to remain, yours faithfully,

Ch. Darwin

Sir George, in reply, answered the questions suggested to him, and wrote in such a strain of kindliness and good feeling as to elicit a somewhat remarkable epistle from the man of science, from which the following quotation is made:—

Down Farn borough, Kent,

November 13th, 1847.

My dear Sir,—Although Your Excellency must be over-burdened with business, I cannot resist the temptation to thank you cordially for the very kind, and if I may be permitted to say so, admirable spirit, with which you excuse and tell me to forget the, to me, painful origin of our correspondence. I have been the more gratified by your letter, as T had not the least expectation of hearing from you.

I am extremely glad to know how well your colony is now prospering. Ever since the voyage of the Beagle, I have felt the deepest interest with respect to all our colonies in the southern hemisphere. However much trouble and anxiety you must have bad, and will still have, it must ever be the highest gratification to you to reflect on the principal part you have played in two countries, destined in future centuries to be great fields of civilisation.

You are so kind as to offer aid in any natural history researches in New Zealand. T have no-personal interest on any point there; but there are two subjects which have long appeared to me well deserving investigation, and if hereafter your labours should be lightened, you might like to attend to them yourself, or direct the attention to them of any naturalist under you. The first is an examination of any limestone caverns. Such exist near the Bay of Islands, and I daresay elsewhere. I was prevented entering them, by their having been used as places of burial. Digging in the mud under the usual stalagmitic crust would probably reveal bones of the contemporaries of the Dinornis…. The second point is, whether there are "erratic boulders" in New Zealand, more especially in the Middle and Southern page 483Islands; and their northern limit, if such occur. Most geologists are now united in considering erratic boulders to have been transported by icebergs and glaciers. I consider it a most important question, as bearing upon the former climate of the world, to know whether such proofs occur generally in the southern hemisphere as in the northern. I have ascertained that such is the ease in South America from Cape Horn to about lat. 40°. This subject requires much care and some little knowledge, or at least thought.

As if to add assurance to assurance in confirmation of the views expressed by Captain Grey of the territory under discussion, a special correspondent despatched by the London Daily Chronicle traversed that district and reported upon it in the articles which appeared in that paper in August and September, 1891, under the heading, "The Outlook in Australasia."

He speaks of the very valleys indicated by Captain Grey as "the famous Greenough Flats, which the Agricultural Commission class among the richest agricultural land in all Australia." He dwells on "their deep, loamy richness, averaging wheat crops of thirty bushels per acre," and goes on to mention "the heather and innumerable flowering shrubs, making the plains bright enough, even in winter, and encouraging a belief in all that was told us of the glorious display of flowers which the summer sun brings forth, making the country a veritable Florida, after a fashion which English imagination can hardly compass."

In a subsequent article the correspondent again returns to his description of that country, using the same terms of praise regarding large portions of it which he had already employed.

(Note C.—See pages 66 to 68.)
Sir Godfrey Thomas.

The name of Captain Grey's step-brother was inadvertently omitted. The brothers were deeply attached to one another, and Sir Godfrey made his home with Grey for many years. His early death caused deep sorrow to his brother. He was a rising public man, and bade fair to achieve a useful career.

page 484

(Note D.—See page 131.)
Church Endowments in New Zealand: Speech of Sir George Grey, June 18th, 1851.

"Sir George Grey said that any information on this subject in the possession of the Government rested, he believed, solely on his own personal knowledge. All he knew regarding it was that the Agent of the Canterbury Association had read to him the draft of the letter, in which, as far as he remembered, was a recommendation that an application should be made for an extension of the block of land which was to be subject to disposal under the peculiar rules of that settlement. He had, however, heard rumours on the same subject from other sources. As far as he was informed of the intentions of the Home Government and of Parliament, he believed that they were in no way desirous that this particular mode of disposing of lands should be forced upon the inhabitants of this country. In fact, they were solely desirous of promoting the welfare of the inhabitants of New Zealand, and of consulting, in as far as practicable, their wishes. It therefore was the duty of those persons who disliked the portion of the islands they lived near being subjected to such regulations to state their objections to them. The points which appeared to require attention were these:—A district containing nearly three millions of acres, including within its boundaries Banks' Peninsula, and embracing one of the most fertile districts in New Zealand, which contained also—before the present regulations were established—many persons of a different faith from that of the Church of England, was placed under the control of the Canterbury Association; and then regulations were made, an important feature of which was that until three millions of pounds were paid for the purposes of the Church of England, the whole of that district could not be used, as their necessities required, by civilised man; nor could any part of it be used for these purposes until the proportionate part of the three million pounds which was due under these regulations upon that part was paid over for the purposes of the Church of England: even for the depasturing purposes the land could not be used under the present regulations except at a rate which, calculating that a hundred acres would feed thirty sheep, required a payment of nearly twopence per head per annum for the same purposes. Now, page 485as he understood from rumours, it was intended to ask that a farther block of perhaps three millions or four millions of acres should be placed under the same regulations, so that the case would then be, that, before the whole of this block could be used, seven millions of pounds must be paid for the purposes of the Church of England, and no part of it could be used until the proportionate amount due on that portion had been so paid. This appeared to involve questions worth}' the consideration of all classes in New Zealand, as the power of the humbler classes to acquire properties for their families was involved in it, the amount of the produce of the country was involved in it, and the extent and value of the commerce greatly depended on it. The only argument he had ever heard used in defence of this arrangement was that Great Britain had done much for New Zealand, and therefore had a right to make such regulations for the disposal of its lands as were for the benefit of the population of the whole Empire. This argument he admitted in its fullest extent; but he could not consider it for the benefit of the Mother Country that one of the most fertile portions of the Empire should be closed by such restrictions, which, in as far as he understood them, placed obstacles in the way of industrious men raising themselves from a state of want by the use of lands which, in their wild state, were useless to mankind. As a Churchman, he viewed this attempt with the utmost alarm, although on this subject he spoke with great diffidence, as he had the highest reliance upon the judgment of many members of the Association; indeed two right reverend prelates belonging to that Association were his intimate friends. Yet it did not appear to him—at the time that so large a portion of the population of Great Britain were in such distress—to be in accordance with any rule of Christianity that the poor of the earth should have closed against them by such restrictions so large a tract of fertile country which a bounteous Providence had placed at the disposal of the human race. It did not appear to him to be in accordance with the principle that those who preach the Gospel should live by the Gospel, because it wrung contributions to a Church from those who were not friendly to that Church, but whose absolute necessities compelled them to buy land necessary for their operations; and because it made the clergy, in the early stages of the scheme, dependent for their support, not page 486upon their flocks, not upon the members of tbe Church, but solely upon the amount of land to be sold; so that almost involuntarily men might be ted to aid in the sale of lands—a duty foreign to their calling. He thought, therefore, that this system of obtaining an endowment was objectionable, whilst he thought the endowment itself far too large, and likely ultimately to introduce habits of sloth and negligence into the Church, and thus to be injurious to its own welfare. He would rather have seen the virtuous and industrious, who could find no place at home, encouraged to occupy such a country upon terms which would have enabled them easily to acquire homes for themselves and their families, and readily to develop the resources of the country, and to have seen a busy, active clergy, by acts of kindness and Christian virtue, gaining from the members of their own Church, in that fertile district, a love and gratitude which would readily have yielded ample endowments for all their wants. He feared the present system would injure the Church; it led men incautiously, even in the publications issued under the authority of the Association, to hold out the elergy as a feature of attractiveness, and even to use such language in support of what is termed the religious principle as that 'the merest land speculator has an interest in the Canterbury Bishopric.' He thought that such arguments, whilst they might gain endowments for the Church, must injure the very religion they were meant to support. It therefore behoved those who objected to having the lands in their vicinity placed under such regulations to state their views upon the subject."—New Zealand Spectator, June 21st, 1851.

(Note E.—See page 206.)China Army And Lord Canning.

We have not been able to find any evidence to show that Sir George Grey received any proper recognition of his important services on this occasion from the Queen's Ministers. Indeed it seems that Her Majesty's Advisers were so anxious to support Lord Canning, and to manifest their approval of his conduct, that they were placed in a, great difficulty by Sir George Grey's continued energy in sending assistance to Bengal. Lord Canning evidently page 487desired that only a trifling aid and horses should be forwarded. His under-estimate of the gravity of the circumstances would have been revealed if more prominent notice had been bestowed upon Grey's action. Silence, therefore, was deemed by them to be advisable. They knew Canning to be a good and able man, surrounded by difficulties of a most extraordinary character, and they desired neither to weaken his authority nor to bring discredit upon his judgment. They therefore acted wisely.

(Note F.—See page 216.)German Legion And Bombay.

At the time when Sir George Grey re-enrolled and remodelled the German Legion and sent them to Bombay, thus increasing the strength of the British army beyond that authorised by law, there were two powers with authority in India. The East India Company, which could increase its army, was yet the governing power, although the British. Parliament and the British arms were conducting a great war in Hindostan, so great a war that Sir George Grey was confident it would result in India passing under the direct dominion of the Crown—a dominion which in truth had already commenced. Under this dual system of rule Grey fared badly. The German Legion was of invaluable service to Bombay at a most momentous crisis. Of this the East India Company was conscious, and its officers expressed their gratitude. But Her Majesty's Ministers had already condemned the illegal act of the Governor at the Cape in levying troops without authority of Parliament, and perhaps could not turn its censure into commendation even under such pressure as the circumstances brought to bear upon them. Thus in all directions Sir George Grey failed to receive that public recognition which his courage and foresight demanded. His sending of the China army was accredited to Lord Elgin. His continued stream of reinforcements and assistance was ignored. His recalling the German Legion, and the consequent saving of Bombay, brought upon him a censure which was never recalled.

page 488

(Note G.—See page 263.)The Great Hunt In The Orange Free State.

It might be thought from the description of this hunt given in the text that the destruction of such vast numbers of animals was useless and wasteful. The truth lies in the opposite direction. Many thousands of the natives joining in this unprecedented chase, obtained from its results food on which they and their families would depend through the ensuing winter. The different tribes had wagons on the field to carry off the portion of game distributed to them. This was then dried and thus turned into "bultong," and provided sustenance for communities which had little or no other means of subsistence. Nothing, therefore, was lost. In reference to this subject, see the letter of Moshesh on page 221.

(Note H.—See page 282.)
Kafir School At Zonebloem.

This establishment was assisted by donations from many quarters. In particular, the Baroness Burdett-Coutts contributed very generously. Without her assistance it could not have been founded or maintained. Sir George Grey expressly desires that the kindness of Lady Burdett-Coutts in this matter should not be forgotten.

(Note J.—See pages 451, 452.)
America And England.

The statement of Sir George Grey's opinion upon the claims of the United States to the leadership of the Anglo-Saxon peoples is too bald and emphatic. It is necessary both to modify and enlarge that opinion. The circumstances of the case of Samoa alluded to are peculiar, and yet illustrate the weakness of the position now held by England. Prince Bismarck bad determined to enter upon a system of German colonisation. In many places where he desired to plant colonies he found that he was brought into collision with British interests or with British settlements. He had without doubt determined to annex those islands of the Navigators Group page 489which pass by the name of Samoa, of which, between 1880 and 1887, Malietoa was the acknowledged King. Finding that the Australian colonies and New Zealand resented strongly his efforts to annex the Samoan Group, the Prince requested Sir Edward Mulet, the English Ambassador at Berlin, to convey to Lord Salisbury his (Bismarck's) resolve, if necessary, to treat with France in a manner which might be prejudicial to the interests of England if he wore not permitted to carry out his designs in regard to colonisation. Influenced by Continental interests, and more attentive to the chances of European complications than to the safety and the prosperity of Australasian commerce, Lord Salisbury's representatives permitted their hands to be tied by the threats of the German Chancellor. Had it not been for the resolute action of the American Consul at Apia, who, acting under the advice of one of the writers, placed the islands under the protection of the American Hag in the very presence of the German squadron, it is certain that Samoa would have been seized by Germany and incorporated in the German Empire. The cherished dream of Sir George Grey's life had been to exclude from the New World the policies, the rivalries, and the wars of the old. And he felt that the true welfare and greatness of England, and the safety of that freedom to which she had been a bulwark for generations, were more closely connected with the intimate relations existing between Britain and her great dependencies and the United States than in the balance of power upon the Continent. He was convinced that in the terrible wars which probably will yet devastate the Old World, England could not take an effective part. He was equally convinced that England had no right save in the interests of justice and of mercy to interfere at all. To his mind the hopes of the world rested upon the increasing numbers of English-speaking peoples scattered in free communities upon the earth, asserting the dominion of the sea, and offering to the citizens and subjects of all nations who might choose to join them those advantages which freedom and boundless territories bestowed. The cautious—even timid attitude of England in relation to Samoa drew forth the passionate scorn of the colonies of Australasia and the Western States of the great Republic Already in 1853 Sir G. Grey had warned the Imperial authorities on the occupation of page 490New Caledonia by the French. It was well known that in anticipation of war between England and other powers, plans had been prepared for the invasion of Australia and New Zealand. In the case of Samoa, it was not as if England were permitting Germany to occupy a desert and uninhabited territory; it deliberately sacrificed —under the stress of threats—a King and people with whom it was in solemn treaty to the tender mercies of Prince Bismarck. Beyond this, it was permitting a great nation to seize and fortify in the midst of the Southern Ocean a strong and fertile group of islands which directly command those great streams of commerce perpetually passing and repassing between Australasia and America, between America and China, Japan, and India; and which, without doubt, might easily dominate the commerce between Great Britain and her Australasian colonies. So vast were the interests involved, so wide the issues which depended upon this apparently trivial matter of the abandonment of Samoa to the Germans, that Sir George Grey feared England had taken a fatal step and dealt with her own hand a serious blow against her own supremacy. The inflexible resolution of all parties in the United States which prevented the annexation of Samoa by Germany filled him with delight, and convinced him that no questions of European politics, no outside entanglement with other nations, would prevent the United States from throwing its shield before the weakest community if the cause of human liberty and freedom could be thereby advanced. In his opinion, England and America should act conjointly. In all cases where it is distinctly in the interests of freedom and humanity, they should be guided by one spirit and work in unison for the same ends. So acting, the liberties of the world, as a whole, would receive a due consideration, and the Anglo-Saxon race would in all human probability be left to work out its own destiny in undisturbed peace. Thus, in relation to the New World he thought that America and England should unite to prevent the intrusion of the quarrels and wars of the Old, and so ensure a new and happier future for large portions of the human race. But if Great Britain allowed her Ministers to be interfered with by foreign powers, or guided by considerations possibly inimical to the interests of her widely-scattered children, then the hopes and trust of the young nations page 491of the future would be increasingly reposed in the judgment and sympathy of the United States.

Note K.—(See page 460.)
Auckland Library.

Owing to the liberality of various donors, a sum of nearly sixty thousand pounds is invested for the maintenance of the Library and Art Gallery. This, with other great endowments for the support of education in Auckland made by Sir George Grey during his first government, not only fulfils the desire of the many contributors to these institutions, but secures for Auckland the possibility of the first place in literature and art south of the Line. So widely extended and numerous are the exhibitions and prizes open for competition among the scholars of Auckland, that clever and industrious youths from the various district schools are continually coming to the front and entering the lists of the higher teaching. If she desire it, the old capital of New Zealand may become the Bedford of the Southern Hemisphere. Thus in New Zealand the cost of education for the brightest and most industrious of her children, from the clays of infancy to the highest degrees conferred by the University, is defrayed by the public purse.

We cannot close these pages without gratefully acknowledging the assistance we have received from many quarters in compiling them. We feel greatly indebted, amongst others, to Sir Walter Buller, Colonel Rookes, Captain Shillington, and Sir George Whitmore. Of Sir George Grey's uniform kindness and consideration in giving free access to all sources of information it is superfluous to speak.