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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29

Prefatory Notice

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Prefatory Notice

In the month of January, 1839, I deemed it expedient and necessary to undertake a voyage to England on ecclesiastical business of importance to the Presbyterian. Church of the Australian Colonies. It was my fifth voyage from New South Wales to England by Cape Horn. On the four previous occasions I had made the voyage twice by the north and twice also by the south end of New Zealand; but as the captain of the vessel by which I had taken my passage for my fifth voyage—the ship Roslin Castle—had been an old whaler in the South Seas, and especially on the New Zealand whaling grounds, and was well acquainted with the coasts of that group of islands, he proposed to take us by Cook's Straits—the shortest route from Sydney to Cape Horn. Unfortunately, however, as we deemed it at the time, although providentially, as I was afterwards disposed to regard it, for obvious reasons, just as we were approaching the western entrance of the Straits, our vessel having sprung a dangerous leak, we were obliged to bear up for repairs to the Bay of Islands—the only part of the group then inhabited by Europeans.

During our stay in that port, I endeavoured to make myself acquainted with the state and prospects of the country, which page iv I knew was then in a very interesting and critical crisis of its history; and I embodied the result of my observations and enquiries, on returning on ship-board, in the following Pamphlet, written at sea, and entitled, "New Zealand in 1839 : or Four Letters to the Right Honourable Earl Durham, on the Colonization of that Island." His Lordship was then Chairman or Governor of the New Zealand Land Company—an Association formed for that purpose, and including not a few gentlemen of distinguished position in society; who, after having been defeated, through the adverse influence I have indicated in my pamphlet, in their endeavours to obtain an Act of the Imperial Parliament for the Colonization of New Zealand, had resolved to carry out their noble object, on their own resources, independently of the Government altogether.

My first object, therefore, in publishing my pamphlet, was to disabuse the public mind in England of the unfounded and erroneous impressions that had been made upon it in regard to the colonization of that island, or group of islands; and to demonstrate the urgent necessity for such a measure, for the interests of humanity on the one hand, as well as for those of Great Britain and her Colonies on the other; and pointing out, at the same time, the peculiar adaptation and eligibility of the New Zealand group of islands for British colonization.

A further object I had in view, in the publication of my pamphlet, was to shew that as the rejection of the Company's Bill for that object by the House of Commons, in the year 1838, had not only occasioned great disappointment to the numerous and influential friends of the measure, but was leading them into courses that would certainly issue in great page v pecuniary loss, if not in inextricable confusion, no Act of Parliament was necessary in the case, as the islands of New Zealand were included in the Commission granted to Captain Phillip, R. N., the first Governor of New South Wales, in the year 1787, and might, therefore, be taken possession of by Her Majesty at once as a Dependency of that Colony.

A third object I had in view, in the publication of my pamphlet, was to strengthen the hands of whatever Government might be established in New Zealand by ensuring to the Crown the right of pre-emption, both past and future, over all lands belonging to the natives, and thereby to prevent and render impossible those enormous frauds that were even then in progress, and that would otherwise be perpetrated on the natives to an incredible extent in the alleged purchase of their lands.

Believing as I do, therefore, that my pamphlet, coming out as it did at the very nick of time, when the great question of the Colonization of New Zealand was under consideration and was agitating the minds of thousands of the British people, and that it had, consequently, not a little to do with the accomplishment of that great national object, as will appear from the subjoined Appendix, I have deemed it expedient and necessary to republish it for the information of those who may either be desirous of ascertaining the particulars of the original settlement of their adopted country, or of those who may merely take an interest in what the great Lord Bacon justly calls the heroic work of colonization.

Sydney, New South Wales,