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The Founders of Canterbury

Lord Lyttelton. Reigate, 28th October, 1850

Lord Lyttelton. Reigate, 28th October, 1850.

My Dear Lord,

—Tour Lordship's two letters reached me together on Saturday. I proceed to notice those points in them which seem to require that I should trouble you with a letter.

I have no reserve with Mr. Sewell, to whom I beg that the paper may be communicated if you see fit. I was alone deterred from showing him my letter to Mr. Godley by a fear that it might somehow embarass him. So great is my faith in him, that I wished him to take his own course, even in communicating with yourself, undisturbed by a knowledge of the terms in which I had written to Mr. Godley.

But I sent the extract to your Lordship because I wished page 349you to know facts which I thought Mr. Sewell might not state in plain enough terms. I mean in particular facts relating to the impressions which Mr. Jackson's conduct has made on others. In doing this by means of sending what I wrote to a familiar friend, I am afraid that the impatient brusquerie which ill-health makes me apt to be guilty of, but for which Godley will make due allowance, was not redeemed by the distinctness of statement which is its only merit.

I deliberately intended, however, to understate the facts, and to abstain from giving them the worst colour. There are some facts not mentioned by me, from which any stranger to Mr. Jackson would infer his dishonesty. Knowing him, I sincerely believe only in his utter recklessness. But most people (as detraction never wants a large and partial audience) will not take that view: and thus the present state of things is a sort of killing of him by scandal—and half-killing the colony at the same time. I therefore rejoice to find that your Lordship is going to apply your mind seriously and practically to the question, because some definite course will by that means be settled upon. The present evil is much scandal, and no remedy at all.

If it did not appear from my letter to Mr. Godley, I am the more anxious to disclaim any profession of indignant virtue. If the facts in the case were known only to me, nobody else should ever know them. I disagree, or at any rate I do not go along, with those who take the strictest moral view. Even when thinking aloud to Godley, I have gone altogether on the grounds of recklessness in the individual, and of danger, policy, and possibility, as respects the Association.

With this feeling still, which may be called the expediency view, I trust that the whole of the facts and their bearings may be considered by your Lordship and any whom you choose to take counsel with, in private before the subject shall be again mentioned at the Board table: for after a sort of trial in the Board Room, if all the facts are to come out page 350there, the alternative of "making the best of it" would hardly be possible.

I would further beg for an opportunity of stating to you vivâ voce the accumulation of facts, not relating to money-matters, which have gradually counteracted my earnest wish and endeavour to make the best of the appointment: for I feel that the abrupt statement of impressions which have taken months to grow, may naturally appear to you like inconsiderate passion. The enclosed copy of a former outpouring to Godley will in part tell the disagreeable story.

P.S.—On reading over the above I find that from disorder of mind to-day, occasioned by fretting about this matter, I have left out two main points. The first is, that the dishonesty which appears to some is really almost disproved by the recklessness, for the manner of some of the misappropriations rendered exposure inevitable, and there appears nowhere any attempt at concealment; whilst in one or two cases it would be said of an ordinary man that he had taken pains gratuitously to get into scrapes. This goes to negative the culpability which some infer; but then it shows such a state of mind in Mr. J. as should induce his brother or closest friend to get him made something else than Bishop of Lyttelton, if that is possible. I cannot help trying to suppose that it would be possible, by means of some effort on the conjoint part of Mr. Hawkins and the Bishop of Norwich.

The second point is, that if it be impossible to obtain the desired change, or, indeed, at all events, the monies due ought to be at once paid by the Association, so as to stop the mouths of complainers and gossipers. The audit of the Board of Trade appears to me no serious obstacle to that politic step.

I am not quite sure that a copy of my former letter to Godley will be ready to send by this post.