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The Founders of Canterbury

Reigate, 27th May, 1849

Reigate, 27th May, 1849.

My Dear Godley,

—I fully intended to allow Hawes a reasonable time, and only suggested preparation for the negative which I consider inevitable.

I have the impression with respect to Stafford and Stanley, that all depends upon the manner in which the former undertakes his work. He is too important a member of his party to be pooh-poohed or put off, if he is really in earnest. Stanley does not care seriously about any thing; and he always gives way to very strong pressure. I dare say he would prefer that there were no fresh discussions of New Zealand questions; page 59and he will try to prevent it. Bat if he sees distinctly at first that Stafford's mind is made up; that there will be a discussion at all events; and that the only question is whether or not he will give Stafford the support of the party for an end that would be highly creditable to them by showing them able to originate and carry a useful and popular measure; then he will not decide to leave Stafford unsupported by the party. All depends on their first interview. I take Stafford to be a high-spirited man, whom favourable circumstances would have made a leader of men. I suppose him capable of coming to the determination that he will take up this matter and go through with it unflinchingly to the end. Then I suppose him to be a person whom nature has gifted with the power of expressing resolve by manner—by the loot and the voice, rather than by mere words, which last Stanley, of all men, knows are often used to signify a determination that does not exist. I imagine Stafford telling Stanley that he has undertaken and is committed to the work, and must proceed with it come what may; that, of course, he wishes to succeed —that is, either to beat the Government after a debate, or to get their assent to his Bill before the debate; and that with this view it is, of course, very important to him to have the support of the party as a party—for which purpose he naturally comes to the leader of the party. Now, I can imagine a high-spirited man, like Stafford, doing this in such a way as, without a word of threat, to intimate that he should be mortally displeased if his request were refused. I am not imagining Stafford to put on an air of determination for the purpose of overcoming Stanley; but I say that if he is himself resolved, his resolution—his having set his heart on it—the certainty of his deep resentment if he should be baulked—will all appear in the manner of one so frank and free; and Stanley will be overcome. So we get back to the starting-point—all depends on how much decision of purpose, or resoluteness, there is in Stafford's nature. I fancy, a great deal; but, to be sure, he has never been tried in public affairs. page 60Again, how, Stanley may ask, is Stafford so committed, and bound to go on at any rate?—As a chief in the Canterbury Association, who have asked him to undertake the task, and whom he could not refuse. And who be they? One of the most conservative bodies in the kingdom, whose object, inter alia, is to prevent this Colony from becoming a democratic republic, which is what our present system is preparing every one of our larger colonies to be. Under the contemplated Act, the colonists would be authorised to establish aristocratic and monarchical institutions—subordinate, indeed, as respects imperial allegiance, but effective on the spot as institutions similar to our own at home. It therefore becomes Stafford's party to support him: he is entitled, as a party man, to expect Stanley's cordial aid. He knows already that many of the party will support him at any rate. It is most desirable that the party should not split on this matter.

Another argument.—Some of the liberal party must support him; and a good many more will do so from approving, not of aristocratic and monarchical institutions for New Zealand, but of letting the colonists determine for themselves the form and character of their own merely local government. So, if the Ministry oppose him, he is sure to split the Government party, and not unlikely to beat the Government—which is a fair party object. On party considerations alone, it is well the Conservative party should do some good as well as hinder wrong. A party that does nothing, cannot last long.

The object is not to make a speech, or get up a debate, or make a motion with a view to withdrawing it: but it is to bring in the Bill, carry it on as fast as possible through the Commons, and into the Lords, and make an Act of Parliament of it this very session. The object is practical, and, with the real support of the party, practicable.

Objections by Stanley to be anticipated by saying, that all imperial objects will be carefully provided for in the Bill, by being specifically excluded from interference by the local government: and amongst matters so reserved for exclusive page 61imperial control would be all dealings with the Natives for land in pursuance of the Treaty of Waitangi.

I fancy that there is a way of talking to Stanley, so as to lead his mind to the conclusion that circumstances are greatly altered since he was in Downing-street; and that under the new circumstances, it would be creditable to him to adopt a policy suitable to them. But this is not the safest ground to tread on; it should be done gingerly. Nor do I rely on any reasoning or persuasion, however conclusive for a man of politic mind, half as much as on his seeing that Stafford is determined to go on and will be deeply hurt if the support of the party should he withheld from him. That should be made to appear at every possible opportunity during the conversation; and there are twenty ways of showing it more impressively than by saying it.

Here is a cool sort of a preach, which might as well have been spared: but I have been led on by earnestness. Oh, that our public men, or any two or three of them, could make that excuse for over-doing!

I had considered your point, and provided for it by appeal to the Privy Council, but without any penalty. In like manner, I think, if the local government did what the imperial government deemed out of the charter, the Privy Council should decide between them. I am putting down all sorts of matter for the Bill, with some very explanatory and persuading preambles. The preambles of some of the old charters are noble.

To conclude—I feel persuaded that no official application ought to be made to Grey. His official refusal would commit him to oppose the Bill. What may pass in private with him or Hawes, goes for nothing. If you don't like Hawes's answer, you have only to make your bow, saying you won't trouble him further: and then we can go to work.