The Founders of Canterbury
John Abel Smith, Esq., M.P
John Abel Smith, Esq., M.P.
Great Malvern, 30th November, 1847.
Dear John Abel Smith,
—I find that my notion of a distinct settlement in New Zealand, under the patronage of a powerful body in this country, desirous of spreading the Church of England, stands a good chance of being realised sooner than we expected. The subject has been fully considered, and at length something like practical conclusions have been arrived at. Mr. Godley left me this morning for Ireland; and I have undertaken to ascertain how far the Company is disposed to act in the matter.
We adhere to the old plan of a settlement, to consist of 300,000 acres (with right of pasturage attached), to be purchased from the Company for 10s. per acre, or £150,000.
The place to be, if possible, the valley of the Ruamahanga, near Wellington, which is delineated in the illustrations of my son's book.
The purchasers, whether colonists or absentees, to pay to the Company, as a trustee for them, £2 10s. per acre in addi-page 2tion to the price of 10s.; and the amount, being in all £750,000, to be laid out by the Company on behalf of the purchasers, in public objects, such as emigration, roads, and church and school endowments.
The plan of the colony with respect to such objects to be framed, and (except in so far as the Company would act as a trustee) be carried out, by a society outside of the Company, consisting of bishops and clergymen, peers, members of parliament, and intending colonists of the higher class.
In all this there is nothing new to many of the Directors. But now comes the all-important practical question, By whose exertions in particular is the whole scheme to be realised? I have succeeded in persuading Godley to think of devoting himself to the work. A good deal might be done by my son, according to your late suggestion to me. If Godley were to give himself up to this employment, he must be remunerated. He ought to become a Director of the Company, with a view of giving confidence in us to his friends and others who are expected to join the outside Society, of which my son would be a working member and intending colonist. Perhaps some other member of the outside Society, being a personage, would join our Direction. Godley should be offered a salary of £500 a year, which would induce him to settle in London and think of nothing but business till it was completed.
You and Hutt, who Know Godley, think, I believe, with me, that he is eminently qualified for taking the part proposed for him. I have had better opportunities than either of you of forming an opinion as to his means of success, arising from connections, friendships, and the confidence reposed in him by persons who have only to will that this scheme shall go forward in order to make it move, notwithstanding railroads and the scale of £900,000.
If the Company should come to a decision (not officially of course, till a formal proposal shall be submitted to them) in favour of this suggestion, I will communicate with Godley and arrange matters with him. I expect that if we give him page 3a reasonable assurance of our intention to adopt the plan, he would set to work immediately, and soon be in a condition to show such a prospect of success as would induce us to proceed step by step according to the above programme. He will not proceed further than at present without some security that the Company would not, by rejecting the proposal hereafter, expose him to the annoyance of having enlisted his friends and others in a fruitless project.
If the Directors and Commissioner entertain this suggestion, it will behove them to be very careful in framing general regulations for the disposal of land so as not to interfere with the Church Settlement. Their administration of the pasturage will be a potent instrument of colonization if they set about that work well. It is a business not to be accomplished by imperfect regulations upon paper. You see that my thoughts have been led to dwell on the means of getting things to rights for the Company and Colony in spite of the serious defects in the last arrangement with Government and the Constitutional law of New Zealand. This change of mind has arisen from my having discovered that others are disposed to act where I would have waited for better times, and still more from a notion, which is more and more impressed on me as my intended book advances to completion, that its publication will tend to settle some of the vexed questions in colonization, and will at any rate take me out of the false position of appearing to like what I condemn,
Very truly yours,
E. G. Wakefield.