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The Founders of Canterbury

Reigate, 2nd May, 1849

Reigate, 2nd May, 1849.

My Dear Godley,

—Having got home, I have a wish to make you better acquainted with what passed between John Abel and me at N. Z. House.

He came to me just as I had left off stating to you all the difficulties or rather insuperable obstacles with regard to Canterbury: and they all came out over again. He asked what would satisfy me. I said, "a good charter of local government for Canterbury alone, the settlement being made to comprise a large block of country, not less than four or five millions of acres, to which the whole land and emigration system of the Association should be applied, and within which the settlers should make all laws and carry on all government, save only laws and government relating to imperial subjects, which subjects should be strictly defined by the charter." After a good deal of conversation, enquiring on his part, and explanatory on mine, he said that he was sure he could get it. I said, "Well then, get it; and so surely I will find a colony of people." But I naturally proceeded to ask by what means he thought he could get it. From his answers, I gathered that Lord Grey is uncomfortable, perhaps almost humble; and that some of his colleagues perhaps would earnestly persuade him to do so popular an act. Then came the question of how to proceed. A good deal of discussion ended in his proposing that I should give him the heads of a satisfying charter, which he will use in his own way. If he should get on well, the next step (as we agreed) will be for the Association to apply officially for a charter in accordance with the above named heads. I then wrote, and showed to him, the letter on this subject which you will have received page 52ere now. He begged that no time might be lost, and was most eagerly in earnest.

It looks like an opportunity worth some vigorous endeavour to seize. If you think so, pray bring with you the Acts of Parliament and Charter of Government, so that we may see exactly what the Crown can do without applying to Parliament. They won't like an application to Parliament; but I have some doubt whether the real thing can be got without a new law.

Pray bring also a copy of the instructions to Thomas; and, if you can, leave them with me; for if this move for a good government were successful, I should be well disposed to work at enlisting a fine colony of people, and confident of success. Without a good government, after all that we have seen, said, and done, the attempt would be useless.