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The Founders of Canterbury

Francis Dillon Bell, Esq., Wellington, New Zealand.Reigate, 29th June, 1849

Francis Dillon Bell, Esq., Wellington, New Zealand.

(Sent by the Kelso, on the 4th July, 1840.)

Reigate, 29th June, 1849.

My Dear Francis,

—Long before this reaches you, you will have learned, by my letter to Henry Petre (sent in duplicate to him and to you for publication in New Zealand) how entirely I sympathise with those colonists who refuse to help in working the system of Nominee Councils. You know, therefore, that in the unhappy political quarrel between you and Mr. Fox, I entirely agree with him. The quarrel, whatever personal feud it may have engendered, is wholly political as respects its origin. Unfortunately, in such societies, political differences generally lead, very quickly, to bitter personal hostility: and your case seems to be no exception to the general rule. But let that pass for the moment.

Among the reasons which every week furnishes for rejoicing on my part at my total disconnection from the Direction of the New Zealand Company, is the fact that I am precluded from taking any part, direct or indirect, in the settlement by the Company of the question which you and Mr. Fox have referred to them. I inclose copies of letters which have passed between Aglionby and me on the subject. And now, I have only to add, that as your long letter to me, which states your side of the question, was clearly intended by you for the Directors generally, I have placed it in Aglionby's hands. As respects having your case fully stated by yourself, page 80you therefore lose nothing by my disagreement with you on public grounds, or by my disconnection from the Company. Doing you this justice, I could, of course, do no more in your favour, seeing how completely I am pledged to the Fox side of the question. I have no notion of what the Directors' decision is likely to be: but they will act inconsistently with their present devotion to Downing-street, if they do take your side against Fox. Perhaps they may reflect that their present devotion to Downing-street is not likely to last, and many see that at a time which is fast coming, their being now committed to your view of Governor Grey's policy, might be very inconvenient to themselves. But this guess-work is idle.

Your quarrel with Fox is to me a subject of deep regret, both on your own personal account and on that of the colony. Is it irreparable? Men of sense never quarrel irreparably. If I could imagine you exempt from the strange violence of colonial party feeling, I should earnestly counsel and beg you to put an end to the quarrel. In every quarrel the man who puts an end to it, is he who makes the first advance to reconciliation. To do that is only considered disgraceful by petty minds: men of sense and courage deem it magnanimous. The cause of Representative Government v. Nominee Councils in New Zealand, will be won here next session: and no one more than yourself desires this victory. You have made a mistake. Why not retrace the step? If you have the manly sense I give you credit for, you will be able to conquer a natural disinclination to admitting the mistake. Greater men than either of us have done this often: very little men cannot do it. I misjudge Fox greatly, if he is not a gentleman and a man of spirit: and if he is, he will cordially accept the offer of your hand. If you have, as may be natural, a difficulty about opening the way to peace, send him this letter, and wait for what he shall do.

It would be a vast satisfaction to me, were I thus to be the means of bringing together two men whose co-operation and friendship I consider of great importance to the welfare page 81of New Zealand. If you make up the quarrel, you will both be gainers, as well as the Colony; and you will be better friends, closer allies in the pursuit of the cause as to which you have never differed—that cause which I have at heart, and to which I make every sacrifice that it requires—than if you had never differed at all.

Upon second thoughts: for I go on thinking whilst writing; I shall myself send a copy of this letter to Fox. It is but fair that he should be asked at the same time as yourself to make a sacrifice of angry personal feelings to the cause which all have at heart.

The public letter which I send by this ship (and should send to you for publication if you were likely to be at Wellington) will not tell you all that I wish the colonists knew about the prospects of getting a good law of colonization and government for New Zealand, because some of my information is not fit for publication. It is information concerning the views of leading politicians in all parties here, which I derive from private communications and must not use. But you will take on credit my opinion on the subject—which is, that we have been very near to getting the object, and that it must be got next year, more especially if the advice contained in my letter to Petre should be acted on by the colonists. The Directors (or rather the very few of them who ever attend to the business of the Company) really care nothing about what sort of government New Zealand has: but they have deprived the Company of all weight, so that their indifference, not to say their present readiness to take any side along with Downing-street, is of little or no consequence. The work is in other hands; and I attend very seriously to nothing else. If I had not been ill so long, the work would not remain to be done.

I am glad of your marriage. Every colonist ought to be married, if not older than 40.

I cannot write about my brother "William.

It is quite settled that I go to New Zealand as soon as ever page 82the aforesaid work stall be crowned with success. Many first-rate colonists are so disposed also: and if things go well, we shall be a large party. If Governor Grey ha! established representative government, Canterbury would have gone ahead at a great rate, now that a good site for the colony seems almost secured.

Pray write to me fully. All my serious thoughts are engaged with New Zealand. Present my respects to your wife, and believe always in the sincere friendship of

Yours ever affectionately,

E. G. Wakefield.