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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 24

[Private.] 7, Westminster Chambers, Victoria-street, Westminster, SW., June 22, 1873

[Private.] 7, Westminster Chambers, Victoria-street, Westminster, SW.,

My Dear Sir,—

I have not been able to give the Special Settlement scheme the careful consideration it requires, but your proposals cannot be entertained.

The Government agrees to set aside a block of 10,000 acres of good hind for a special settlement of some fifty families. To the members of these families it will give, on certain conditions, a certain quantity of land; to the leader of the body of settlers (Mr. Stewart) it will give an extra quantity of land. But the Government certainly requires two things—1st. That the settlers are either capitalists or belong to the class of small farmers, each with an amount of money sufficient to work the land given to them; and 2nd. That all these settlers themselves defray the cost of their passages, whether they go as first, second, or third class passengers.

Any laborers they may wish to engage will be taken out for them under the existing arrangements.

The leader and fifty families will about absorb the whole 10,000 acres. You have given the Government to understand that some twenty-five families had already agreed to join Mr. Stewart, and that there will be no difficulty in largely increasing the number.

There seems, therefore, no reason why this body should not be got together, and be ready to start in three or four months.

It seems desirable that the selection of the whole body should be, as far as possible, entrusted to Mr. Stewart. It is intended that they shall be taken from the North of Ireland. There cannot, therefore, be any occasion to advertise or to issue regulations. Mr. S. has simply to invite others to join him, in the terms above specified. As soon as the number is made up, it can easily be arranged to have a ship from Belfast or any other more convenient port.

The scheme is, in all its main features, simply a revival of the forty-acre system, only on a very limited scale.

I don't know that you can be of much service to Mr. S. in carrying out his arrangements, but shall be glad to hear from you on the subject.

As you are aware, the Government have declined to give you more than 18s. per day. They have further, after censuring me for the salaries and travelling allowances hitherto paid to yourself, Messrs. Birch and Seaton, thrown upon me the sole responsibility of either continuing or dispensing with your services, expressing, at the same time, their own extreme disappointment of the results of your labors. Mr. Seatou's engagement was determined last month, and in a note received a few days ago from Mr. Birch I gather that he is anxious to go abroad. Pray let me know your wishes.—-I have, &c.,

I. E. Featherston.

Note.—Although Dr. Featherston, in the above letter, states that the page 17 Government declined to give me more than 18s. per day, yet Mr, Samuel Cochrane, who superseded me, was, and is still, paid £.500 per annum and all his expenses.