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The Founders of Canterbury

Reigate, 3rd June, 1849

Reigate, 3rd June, 1849.

My Dear Godley,

—Though we shall meet to-morrow, I return John Abel Smith's letter at once, in order to tell you its first impression on me.

It seems clear to me that Grey has rejected the proposal in the form in which you were desired to make it. In fact, or virtually, you have got the "No." I expected nothing else after Charteris's report of Grey's state of mind. Smith and Hawes have been foiled; and they now wish to avert the consequences—viz., independent action by your party—by means of a course which, whilst it comprises another attempt upon Grey, provides at all events for enough delay to preclude your party from acting with any effect. It is all nothing but more coaxing of Grey and more shuffling; and the end of it, I am persuaded, will be to land you in "too late." Smith and Hawes would if they could; but they cannot; and so their real object is, at all events, to keep you dancing on idle hopes till you must be quiet for this year.

The other course—that of your party making a public declaration that you cannot go on with Canterbury without a good government for New Zealand, and asking Parliament for a Charter of Government—is much favoured by the plan of page 64the Office for the Australasian Colonies. The absurdities of that plan furnish the most cogent arguments for letting H.M. subjects in New Zealand settle themselves their own purely-local government, all imperial matters being excluded from their jurisdiction. Why not? The old English Colonies had that power. You see with what indignation and scorn the Australians receive plans of constitutions drawn up here by people who cannot know their wants and inclinations. The new plan is a monster on the face of it—a most effectual provision for hot water or constituted anarchy for some years, to end in mating these colonies democratic republics. Stanley's party, more than any, ought to oppose this measure. But supposing them inclined to do as well as prevent, they ought also to settle the New Zealand matter once for all, by handing over to the colonists the business of framing and altering as they please a merely municipal constitution for themselves. If we got that power, New Zealand would soon be, far away, the most attractive of British Colonies. We would make a municipal Monarchy with government by the élite of the people.