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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48

Melbourne, 20th August, 1875. Thomas M. Stewart, Esq


Thomas M. Stewart, Esq.

My dear Sir,—When you were good enough to consult me a few weeks ago as to a suitable man for the position of General Manager of the N.Z.S. Co.'s business at Christchurch, you did not tell me that your wish and intention was that I should suggest myself for the office.

Shortly afterwards, our mutual friend Mr. Murray Smith told me your views, and during our interview on the 17th inst., I learned from the extracts you read from your New Zealand correspondent's letter how favourably you must have spoken of me, and I am deeply indebted to you for commendation, which has evoked so cordial a concurrence and such generous impulse as is manifested in the invitation to me to visit the Directors of the Company, with a view to the arrangement of terms on which I might take the charge suggested.

I would at once go over as proposed, but at the moment I am liquidating a large insolvent estate, and have under adjustment some important average statements and negotiations which forbid my immediate absence from Melbourne.

Under these circumstances, I presume and venture to trouble you with my views so far as I am personally concerned; and I do so with full confidence that my letter will be respected by you and your friends as private.

Your correspondents have so generously expressed themselves as to my fitness for the position of Manager that I need only say I have owned and successfully managed ships for twenty-five years; at the age of twenty I had full charge of one of the largest establishments in Sydney, and I have ever since presided over important and extensive business concerns—having the control of many clerks and more men. My colonial experience extends over thirty-five years; interim I have voyaged and travelled much, and always had extensive correspondence both East and West, and so have acquired a thorough knowledge of the commerce of the world.

Through heavy losses in the realization of advances on pastoral securities a few years ago, I was obliged to suspend payment temporarily, but on resuming my business I have been able, with my large connection of friends, to make an income of from £1500 to £2200 a year,* with the prospect of its gradual increase as my means enable me prudently to extend my operations, and I am sure you will understand and appreciate the serious consideration it is for me to decide whether it is right for me to throw up this and break ground in a new field.

* This was after providing for household and personal expenses.

page 8

I frankly confess that the idea of a fixed income—if adequate to the requirements of my large family—has a great charm for me. I have too great faith in the future of New Zealand, a country whose importance is yet in its infancy, and which must afford good openings for men of enterprise and talent, and the invitation to me to stretch the cords of my tent there is so flatteringly couched that I am loth to say,—what prudence compels me,—I cannot, in view of the necessities of my family, give up what I have here, unless J am assured a commencing salary equivalent to the minimum I am now making. If this was conceded me, I would make early arrangements to join the Company's service, content that any increment to my salary should depend on the result of my management, and determined to devote myself wholly and heartily to the interests of the concern; and, let me add, I am no niggard at my work, nor am I afraid to cope with whatever may be presented to me. I have good plans for organizing and efficiently carrying out and administering business confided to me. My energy and activity are quite unimpaired.

I am, &c.,

H. Selwyn Smith.