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The Founders of Canterbury

The Lord Lyttelton. Saturday night, 13th. April

page 257
The Lord Lyttelton. Saturday night, 13th. April.

My Dear, Lord,

—I had a long conversation with Mr. Brittan, and fully hope that he will be able to submit to you, on Tuesday, a satisfactory solution of the difficulties which he mentioned.

Moved by the emergency arising from the double refusal of Mr. Wynter and Mr. Maddock, I recollected an interchange of letters which took place last year between a clergyman and myself; and I mentioned the fact to Mr. Simeon and Mr. Wynne. I take the liberty of enclosing a copy of the letters, by which your Lordship will see that he holds opinions about colonization congenial with your own. His courage in so writing to me, an utter stranger, led me to suppose at the time that he is of the sort of men who alone are capable of important achievements. Since then he has married a Tasmanian heiress, the only child of poor Sir John Franklin, and I have heard a good deal about him from friends of hers, clergymen in Suffolk, who are friends of his most intimate friend, Dr. Nixon, the chivalrous and masterly Bishop of Tasmania. He is a gentleman by birth as well as manners, and is, I hear, fast making a reputation in the Church. I never saw him till to-day, when, after some conversation with Mr. Simeon and Mr. Wynne, I found boldness to call upon him, and tell him the state of the Canterbury Bishopric question. He received me very cordially, expressed the warmest interest in the undertaking, and spoke in high terms of Dr. Selwyn's friend Mr. Abraham, whom he thought excellently fit for such an office. I explained to him that the subject was long ago mentioned to Mr. Abraham, who had already made his election to carry on the work of grafting the Church on to the fading Natives, instead of planting it along with the English race. He saw at once the force of this important distinction, and then said that the task of the Canterbury Bishop was indeed great and noble. His conversation and manner (not to mention his fine person) impressed page 258me with a belief that he is of the class of leaders of men. I told him that I was nobody; that what I said was nothing but my own talk, uttered without official concert with any one, and even without the knowledge of your Lordship, the real head of the Canterbury affair, to whom I was all but a stranger: and then, with many apologies for having intruded upon him, I asked him, as I was then ill and worn out, to let me know on Monday whether he would like to hear more on the subject.

If he should say "Yes," it may be inferred (but more from the manner than the words of our conversation) that he would be disposed, not only to take, but to avow his intention of taking, the vacant office: for I fully explained the emergency and the want of a man having not only the theological and episcopal qualities, the colonizing spirit, the right sort of wife, and the private fortune, but also the courage to run, for his Church's sake, some risk of being laughed at in case the endowment should not come as soon as is expected.

If he should not express a wish to see me again, my conversation with him will go for nothing: the same if your Lordship should not ask to see his letter. I thus hope to have done as much as the emergency and the pressure of time dictated, without placing myself or any body else in an improper position.