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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 24


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I have caused the letters, &c., in this pamphlet to be printed under the impression that honorable members of the House of Representatives, who will be called on to adjudicate in this matter, will be better able to arrive at a conclusion on the subject of my claims against the Colony on account of emigration services, by having the gist of the matter thus placed before them than they could by cursorily turning over the piles of official manuscript bearing on the subject.

I would beg further to refer the candid reader to the Emigration Return D 2, placed on the table of the House this session, as some of the papers therein contained bear indirectly the strongest testimony in favor of the work I did in Ireland. Sir J. Vogel on p. 23, No. 22, declines the responsibility of abolishing the agency I established at Belfast for fear of prejudicing the Special Settlement that I initiated and successfully carried out. He encloses what he justly terms an interesting memorandum from Mr. Kennaway, in which that gentleman states that the Special Settlement above referred to influences emigration from the North of Ireland to such an extent that it would be no use sending a vessel to embark emigrants at Belfast for any other port but Auckland. Sir William Power, when acting as Agent-General, writes, there is now no difficulty in keeping up a stream of emigration from the North of Ireland in consequence of the numbers who have left there for New Zealand.

I would also wish to compare the results of my one years service, 1872-73, under Dr. Featherston, with the result of the various New Zealand Agencies in 1876, given on pp. 32 and 33 of D 2, premising that I laboured under the greatest disadvantages. I had to open the agency, which was necessarily a work of time, and then I had to contend against the open hostility of the Agent-General, and the concealed but none the less dangerous hostility of his office. The following extracts from some of the letters I received from the latter, show how easy it was to throw obstacles in my way. On July 29th, 1872, I received a letter saying "I regret your notes of 18th, 19th, and 24th have remained unanswered." Again on August 7th I received one saying "Several of your letters have been referred to me to answer." Again I got one "I am desired to acknowledge receipt of yours of 18th, 20th, and 28th." It will easily be seen that this style of conducting a correspondence placed me in a most awkward position, for those people requiring the information for which I had written would be calling daily at my office, and the surprise which they would at first experience, would culminate in indignation.

I find by the return in D 2 that in 1876, Mr. Burton, with the assistance of a Mr. White, was instrumental in sending out 247 emigrants at an expense of £863 14s 10d, and that Mr. Cochrane who superseded me, despatched in the same year 73 at an expense of £647 16s 9d. My first year, that is from July 1872 to the time of my dismissal June 1873, I despatched 217 at a cost of £700, but it should be borne in mind that in my case I not only had the difficulties to contend with enumerated above, but all my emigrants, with the exception of single women, had to pay some part of their passage money, as at that time there was no free emigration. My emigrants page break paid £1,136 towards their passages, exclusive of £1 per adult for ship's outfit, besides this they had to pay their own fares to London, this latter was a serious item, amounting as it did to 25s or 30s a head. Of course the above numbers do not refer in any way to the Stewart party.

With regard to my claim for compensation on account of my abrupt dismissal by Dr. Featherston, it will be seen that some similar cases cropped up when Sir William Power was reducing the establishment at 7 Westminster Chambers, these cases were referred to Messrs. Mackrell & Co., the law advisers of the Agency, who gave their opinion that a jury would consider a notice necessary, and notice was consequently given. In my case I hadn't a day's notice, but I was in a measure compelled to remain, and I did remain, doing the work without any payment whatever for six months, when Dr. Featherston sent over Mr. Cochrane to supersede me. Shortly after Mr. Cochrane's arrival I received my appointment as Provincial Agent from the late Mr. John Williamson.

I am quite aware that by publishing these letters, &c., I am laying myself open to the charge of bringing accusations against one who is no longer able to defend himself, and the much hackniad "de mortuis nil nisi bonum" argument will no doubt be a source of strength to those unfavorable to my claims; at the same time—

"A living dog 'tis said,
"Is worth two lions fairly sped."

And there are duties to the living as well as to the dead. Notwithstanding the treatment I received at the hands M' the late Dr. Featherston, J always admired and respected him; in his lifetime I bore him no malice, still less do I do so now. But he was not faultless.

Roses have thorns and silver fountains mud,
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud;
All men make faults.

Dr. Featherston was—as is well known—a man who having made up his mind, would have his own way, neither the definite orders of those put in authority over him or the opinions of his subordinates would cause him even to waver in the course he had marked out for himself. As regards myself, from the first he objected to my appointment, not from personal motives, for I am well assured that personally he was well disposed towards me, but he conceived he had not been fairly treated by the Government in having Agents forced upon him in whose appointment he had no voice, and he determined to disembarrass himself of me at the earliest possible opportunity; as a preliminary to performing this "happy despatch" he endeavoured to utilize my services in such a manner that it would have been next to impossible for me to have shown any practical results arising from my agency. I maintain that it is most unfair that I should be made to surfer for the whim of one in authority—

Authority, though it err like others
Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself
That skins the vice o' the top.

I have suffered both in the estimation of the public and also pecuniarily in consequence of the course adopted towards me by the late Agent-General.

H. W. Farnall.