The Founders of Canterbury
Reigate, 13th July, 1849
My Dear Molesworth,
— The letter of mine to J. A. Smith, which I sent you, contains a resumé of the impression made on me by the recent intelligence from the Colony: but I will now endeavour to state those impressions rather more fully, snd with reference to the past, that will enable you to get hold of the main features of the case by a few hours' work.
Let us go back to 1845, when the N. Z. Debate oceupied the House of Commons for three days. That Debate was published in a book, which I suppose you have. It was published by Murray. The main points then established by Buller, Hawes, E. Ellice, Howick, Sheil, J. Russell, &c. (who corrected their speeches for the Book) were—
1st. That the Colony was in a state of the greatest disorder and adversity in consequence of gross mismanagement.
2nd. That the mismanagement consisted, principally, of flattering and corrupting the Natives by treating them as civilized proprietors of the soil.
Of attempting to colonize the North part of the Islands, where the great bulk of the Natives reside.page 95
Of placing the seat of Government there, and leaving the South, where alone there was colonization, without Government.
Of sacrificing the real settlement of the South to a mere official occupation of the North.
Of withholding all self-government from the colonists, and subjecting them to the arbitrary rule of a set of mere officials, who utterly neglected their interests, and often wronged and insulted them in all sorts of ways.
These were the main accusations (for I take no notice of the questions between the Company and the Government arising out of agreements violated by the Government); and what were the remedies proposed?
1st. The separation of the South from the North as respects Government.
2nd. The grant of free institutions to the real colonists of the South, so that they should be able to manage their own local affairs in their own way.
3rd. The abandonment of the policy of flattering and bribing the Natives.
Now, what has been done since Stanley's critics have had their own way with New Zealand affairs?
Not one of the things proposed has been done. The separation of the South and North into two Provinces is a sham, because the same individual is the despotic ruler of both; and he still resides permanently in the North, where there is no colonization. The Colony has been kept quiet by two means —by a great military outlay, which, as long as it lasts, will bribe any set of colonists into quietude; and by lavish payments to the Natives for land, which, as long as they last, are calculated to keep the Natives quiet: and secondly, in the South by the hope and promise of free government. The Natives in the North are not subdued: they are not subject to the British authority: they are only kept quiet by the presence of troops, and the hope of getting more money for page 96land, Take away the costly troops, and the British authority in the North is at an end Are we to go on maintaining Auckland as a costly military post? That is not pacifying New Zealand: the only way to pacify it is to cease the attempt to establish British authority and to colonize in the North, where really you can do neither. The vain attempt, besides its cost, is most injurious to the real colonists, whose seat of government (a grand grievance in 1845) is still as distant from them as if it were in New South Wales. The Governor's business is not to rule a colony, but just to prevent the Natives from breaking out against his authority. All the evils of a far distant and neglectful government are still suffered by the colonists—the true settlers of the South. They have been kept quiet by promises, which are now finally broken: and now they are in a state of violent discontent. The Governor, after vainly endeavouring to persuade their true leaders—their best men, to take seats in the Nominee Council for the South makes up a Council of clerks and shopkeepers, and splits each of the Settlements into two hostile factions—the small Government faction, and the great bulk of the people including the leading men whom he vainly tried to cajole. The Settlements of the South are now distracted by factions, moved by the bitter hostility which a great power of threat and corruption on the one hand, and a sense of grievous wrong on the other, always engender in small communities—and indeed any where among Englishmen. The Colony is in almost as bad a state as in Fitzroy's time: nothing has been done to redeem the promises made by those who for nearly three years have had the power to do as they pleased: and the policy of a great outlay and much promising has at last broken down. The only difference is that now Lord Stanley's critics are not more silent, but inclined to puff New Zealand as the most contented and prosperous of colonies.
Where is the prosperity? Is there any colonization? None. The sending away of a ship once a month is not colonization. Any ship broker could do that if there were no page 97Company. The Company has been silenced and is kept quiet by loans of money from the Government. There is not more colonization than at the worst part of Stanley's time—nay, not so much: the only difference is that nobody now complains, because the old complainers are in office and the Company silenced by its dependence on them. The Company, which really does nothing, is only kept alive by loans from the Government, which are saddled on the Colony as a debt. Expenditure, promising, cajoling and corruption—these are the means by which Stanley's critics have got along thus far without changing any of the things which they assailed him for allowing.
I am exhausted and unable to write more. But I have no idea that you will get an opportunity of speaking so soon as Monday next, and trust that, if you do not, you will have time and opportunity to do that in which you excel—namely, master the case yourself. Nobody else in the House can do it: and you would do it capitally if you had time.