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The Founders of Canterbury

Reigate, 29th March, 1850

Reigate, 29th March, 1850.

My Dear J. A. Smith,

—On further reflection, it strikes me that with the going on of Canterbury made a certainty in the way that would most effectually promote sales, you would have a much better state of things to represent to the shareholders than if you could tell them that the sale of the minimum quantity had been guaranteed or accomplished by the 30th April in the manner least likely to inspire confidence. You seem much impressed with the difficulty of facing the shareholders. Surely that difficulty will be less if you are able to tell them that a formidable obstacle to the success of the Canterbury Settlement has been removed. They wish that every possible aid should be given to the Association: for they know that on its success their own escape from a call depends. If you force the Association to take its own way of only just complying with the agreement with you as to the 30th April, you will get some cash a little sooner; but the whole state of relations between the Company and the Association, and of the Canterbury scheme, will be such as to give the shareholders no comfort, but the reverse: and you page 240will forego all the advantages which the shareholders might derive from your strengthening the hands of the Association as much as possible. It looks to me like killing the goose that might otherwise lay you golden eggs; that is, one of those narrow views by which great affairs are apt to be marred. It resembles cutting the green corn in order to get something by a fixed day before the natural harvest-time. So I conclude that this view is not yours. If so, and you cannot influence those whose view it is, I implore of you to tell me, so that I may not mislead those who trust me, by holding out hopes that cannot be realized.

Ever yours most truly,

E. G. Wakefield.

P.S.—I have begged all the leading Canterbury men to assemble on Monday morning, to hear the final result of my communication with some of the Directors. Three or four of them, including Lord Lyttelton, will come from the country on purpose; and I must needs say to them either "I advise so and so," or "I have failed": for delay in decision is in fact the worst of all decisions for every body.