The Founders of Canterbury
Reigate, 26th June, 1849
My Dear Aglionby,
— The quarrel between Fox and Bell is greatly to be deplored for their sakes and the sake of the colonists of the South. But it is just one of those colonial broils which necessarily grow in abundance out of applying arbitrary government to Englishmen. The Governor's conduct in deceiving the settlers by professions of his great anxiety to give them free government, and subjecting them to arbitrary rule for years, has split the Southern Settlements into two most hostile factions, the vast majority (as appears by the Wellington Petition to Parliament) not being of the Government faction. Bell is of that faction; Fox of the other; and therefore, of course, they quarrel. Bell has written to me at great length, setting forth his own case. His exposition shows that the quarrel is altogether an effect of the Governor's proceedings. They will produce many like effects. See my letter to John Abel Smith.
What is the use of my going to the New Zealand House, to discuss the matter? It is a political quarrel in the colony: and the Company has to choose between the two colonial parties. Its decision of the personal question must be viewed as an expression of its opinion on the political one. Upon my view of the political one, you cannot have the shadow of a doubt. Of course, I agree with Fox, and wholly differ from Bell notwithstanding his elaborate and clever apology for the Governor and himself. What is the use of my going amongst the Directors to say this? They know it already. They, I suppose, will side with the local government. What else can they do as humble servants of the Colonial Office? It would be idle for me to protest against that course. Nor, indeed, do I consider the decision of the Directors of much consequence to either Colony or Company. The fate of both has for some time been out of their control, and must now be decided by the issue of agitation here in favour of giving effect to the principles which the Company used to advocate with at least honour to the advocates. page 77What matters the Bishop's proceeding? If the Canterbury affair were all right as to land, you could not sell 5000 acres—with New Zealand in hot water again. Perhaps the Bishop's proceeding may save you the cost of a useless survey.
P.S.—Do not forget what I told you when we last met at Caterham, that I have sent to the Colony for publication a very full statement of my views on the state both of the Colony and the Company. When that letter arrives—in about August—the colonists will know that I wholly agreed with Fox by anticipation: and, doubtless, my letter will have the effect of encouraging the agitation there for free government. It was mainly written for that purpose; and I wish you had chosen to read it.