The Founders of Canterbury
C. B. Adderley, Esq., M.P., Sussex Lodge, Ryde, Isle of Wight. — Reigate, 6th July, 1849
Reigate, 6th July, 1849.
My Dear Sir,
—I feel obliged by your invitation to join the party at Greenwich, and have written accordingly to Mr. Cocks.
The fifty copies of the Resolutions which you were so good as to send to me have been addressed to leading men in all the Australian Colonies, the Cape, and New Zealand; and they are urged to lose no time in sending home petitions founded on them, to your care. If they are diligent, you may receive such Petitions from the most distant colony about April next.page 88
Imagining that you may, in supporting your Resolutions make special allusion to the old charters of Municipal Government, I wish to point out the injustice done them by Roebuck in his book and speech, which have made an impression unfavourable to "the wisdom of our ancestors." The old Charters are doubtless far from perfect; but they laid the foundation of the whole system which Roebuck takes as his model—the present colonizing system of the United States. The original charter of Rhode Island was altered (in being made rather more democratic) for the first time about twelve years ago. Roebuck's view of the old charters is taken altogether from Bancroft: and every reader of Bancroft's history must see how he labours to make the impression that America owes nothing to England. The idea of America being indebted to England for her institutions distresses him: on behalf of his country he almost denies her parentage: he writes as a son hating his father to the extent of claiming himself to be self-begotten. There was good cause for the hatred; but it is unjust and misleading nevertheless. Grahame, though he sympathises in the hatred of England for her interferences with the municipal system, allows her merits in establishing it. He is fair and discriminating. Roebuck swallows whole the prejudice and passion of America as embodied in Bancroft's book. I fancy that the false impressions which Roebuck has made might be corrected without alluding to him.
If I am not mistaken, the Government proposes, as to the waste lands, to give up nothing but the price. Are the resolutions for selling to continue? That of them which the colonists most generally and violently dislike is the auction. Somebody should be induced to expose that monster grievance to the House. It could be well done in twenty minutes; but the doing of it would, I suppose, interfere with your general exposition of principles; that is, if you did it yourself. Molesworth could do it well, being quite master of the subject: but the question is so plain that anybody might master page 89it in a day. No part of the Debate would tell more, if so much, in the colonies: and the exposure of the grievance, maintained for years in spite of every sort of remonstrance, would be a capital proof of the mischievous effect of distant authority in local matters—a first-rate illustration of your great principle.
I suppose there will be speaking at the dinner. If so, have you thought of sending invitations to the dinner, as guests, to the Editors of newspapers? The attention is very useful in such cases It might be very serviceable if you could invite Mr. Bailey (the very clever writer in the Times on colonial questions) not as a person connected with the newspaper, but as a colonial reformer, which he is, and a gentleman to boot. Rintoul, I should think, might do it.