Letter from P. Wilson
dated March 4th. 1849.
4th. March 1849
My dear McLean,
Your letters of the 12th. and 15th. ult. did not come to my hand till yesterday. They arrived, however, two or three days previous, but as I was out for the week at Omata, they were left for my return.
Very many thanks for the interest you have taken in my land affair with Mr, Fox. As yet I have taken no step either with him, or the Directors; but I shall not now delay it, as my oppose can in no way tend to interrupt the good feeling now likely to grow between us and the Company; but it must, I apprehend, rid that body of one who who has been, I have no doubt, in many instances besides mine, a stumbling block to both parties. I allude to that unprincipled scoundrel, Bell; and when I have told you my story, I think you will admit that by thus designating him, I give him no other than the name he deserves. But it is rather a long story, yet I hope will not weary you.
In my letter of grievances to Col. Wakefield, of the 14th. June last, I observed, in my 7th, and 8th, paragraphs, as follows:-
"7th. Somewhere about the 20th, of May, Mr. Wicksteed and myself were apprised by Mr. Bell, that his surveyor, Mr. W. Carrington, would be ready on the succeeding day to show us the (Omata) Block. Fox reasons to be hereafter assigned. I did not avail of this intimation; but considering Mr. Bell's limited time to the New Plymouth settlers had expired, Mr. Wicksteed availed thereof; and on the following day, waited on Mr. Bell, to say that he had been out and selected five fifty acre sections, and pointed them out on the map. On this announcement, he, Mr. W., had the mortification to learn that his choices could not be conceded, as a Mr. Sutton was stated to have the refusal of one of the sections he, Mr. W. had selected; and that till that person's ultimatum was received, Mr. Wicksteed's name could not be put upon the map of the Block.
8th., As Mr. Sutton had already chosen a
section in the vicinity of those of Mr. Wicksteed, and knowing that this person was an old New Plymouth settler, Mr. Wicksteed believed that this second choice, as the first, was his right of exchange from someone in the unavailable districts. Mr. Wicksteed, therefore, contented himself by requesting Mr. Bell to fix a day for Sutton to decide. But immediately afterwards Mr. Wicksteed learned, to his surprise, that the preference to Sutton was not in the way of exchange of land, but merely a proposed new purchase, and which Mr. Bell confirmed in a letter to Mr. Wicksteed two days afterwards, as follows, -
"With regard to the sections you mention, I beg to acquaint you that Mr. Sutton cannot purchase now, and they are therefore open for selection."
Surely this is clear enough, yet what think you he makes of it in the memorandum to Wakefield? Here it is, and is a good illustration of the old saying, - "Liars should have good memories."
"With respect to all that part of Dr. Wilson's letter which relates to Mr. Wicksteed's choices, I do not reply to
it, because it has nothing to do with the Doctor's case; and Mr. Wicksteed never made any objection himself. The only thing worth noticing is that Dr. Wilson mistakes Mr. Sutton's choice, which was an exchange, and not a purchase."
Here, then, you observe I am made to foist a false statement on the Colonel, though in so doing, I adduce the authority of Mr. Wicksteed, and even a copy of his own hand-writing to Mr. Wicksteed. In my life, I think, I never met with so un blushing a denial before; for Wicksteed has not only repeatedly averred the fact as I have stated it, but he gave me Bell's letter admitting it; which letter is now in my possession. I now come, without further remark, to another part of this strange story.
On Thursday last, when down at the Omata, I walked down by Sutton's section, in search of my man Wilkinson, who was down that way for stones. On my way I fell in with Sutton; and entering into conversation with him, I happened to mention that he had been one of the means of my being kept out of two sections. He enquired how that was, and when I told him that it was caused partly by Mr. Bell having asserted to Col. Wakefield that I had made a false
representation of his (Sutton's) case, he candidly gave me as follows:-
"I had only a claim, in all, for an exchange of twenty-seven acres; but anxious to obtain a whole section, I paid in cash the difference to Mr. Bell. Some time afterwards Mr. Bell solicited me to purchase an adjoining section which Mr. Wicksteed or one of you Wanganui people wanted; and he pressed me to do so, saying he wanted to disappoint you Wanganui settlers who had come here."
Thus you see the whole of my statement is corroborated, and the rascality of Mr. Bell is demonstrated. But this is not enough for me, for my intention is to get a declaration from Sutton before a Magistrate; and who knows but that on enquiring, I may find Newsham and Campbell reveal similar secrets; as they came in before me, precisely in the same way as Sutton was intended to come in before Wicksteed. But this solitary case is enough; and in my opinion, there can be but one way for the Directors to meet it. I mean to address my letter to Fox, and let him forward it to the Directors, giving him to understand that a
copy goes Home to be laid before them also. But I have other matters to moot also, by which I trust to shew that in the mere matter of measurement, while others were dealt liberally by, I was kept to the scrimpest measure.
I am glad you have so good an opinion of Mr. Fox, for it tallies with all I had ever heard of him. Report said, some time ago, that he was coming round here, and I hope it may prove true.
We are to have a picnic at the Omata on Saturday next. The Wicksteeds, Wanganui Kings, Hursthouses, and Mrs. Standish will, I suppose, constitute the party; and all the children are to be left at home. I have now finally fixed on a site for my house there, and a more delightful one there is not in the Block. Moreover, it is as near the centre of the property as may be, and overlooks every part of it. I have sent Home for nails of all sorts, hinges, locks, and all such iron-work for the building, as costs little there, but at least three prices here; so that with the overplus, I may get my own for nothing; so that having already contracted and paid for by land all the sawn timber I shall require, and as I shall sell of that I am yet to get enough to pay a carpenter for putting up, I think I shall
get myself established at the Omata, without recourse to my empty purse.
Our ball was not very numerously attended, but it went off famously; and the damage was 4/8 each, with lots to eat; and those who chose to drink strong liquors, had to pay extra for them. This is all right, as no guzzling at others' expense can be incurred. Balls, will, I believe, be in the future, conducted here on this principle, to the regret, probably of a very few.
I used every endeavour to get an acre at the Waiwakaio, to build Honi's house on, but could not succeed; so, as Honi Ropia was more anxious to have it on his own side of the road, I went up six weeks ago to look at it; and finding upwards of twelve hundred square yards there altogether, unappropriated; and which he, in the presence of his clan, avered was at his command, I did not hesitate to send for Spurdle, to measure out the ground. But he, Spurdle, I suspect, is more a man of this world than of that to come; for he has not yet done much to the house, but has taken care to sack twenty and more pounds of Hori's money, - four of which he got out of him last week, when I was at Omata; but I shall make him disgorge the same
to-morrow, and place to your account for Charlotte's foal. Moreover, I shall push him now, to go on with the house. Mrs. Blaschkie has got a daughter.
I took a cup of tea with Mrs. Harris, who is still living at Captain Creagh's, on Saturday evening, on my return from Omata; and was very glad to find her is such good spirits. Harris, she says, has taken quite a turn for country life, and has now got his fence nearly up, so they expect to be up in the course of a month. Poor Merchant returned from Auckland some time ago. Whatever object he had in view in going there, he failed in; and now he talks of going to Hobart town. I apprehend he is a monstrous fool; but whether or not, he should recollect that he has a wife and family.
Turton's native education institution was opened on Tuesday, and Friday last, to the entire gratification of, I believe, both races. I went to the Tuesday affair with Mrs. W. and all the Wanganui kings. We had lots of tea, cakes and so on, with a good account of the Institution from Mr. Turton; and a sort of speech from Mr. Flight. Altogether the evening was a most agreeable one; and about two hundred of our elite were present. It is called after Sir George, - the "Grey Institution". It has
cost £350, and almost incredibly small sum, when one comes to compare it and the Hospital, which cost £1200, and is not finished yet. Govett and Turton are not now estranged as formerly; and converse like Chieftains when they happen to meet. Our library is now going on very well, and books are circulating faster than I have time to read them.
All here is quiet and orderly, but still the cry is, - "When is McLean coming back?" Helen was to have written to you, but her walk out to Turton's last week has brought on one of her bilious attacks, so she delays till next post; but she desires me to thank you for your kind letter, and is looking forward to that promised from Manawatu. We have got our Compensation Scrip, so far all is well. I wish I could sell it, as I could profitably expend the proceeds here. I have communicated what you desired to both Nat Reid and Peter Elliot. Hulke's Mill, I understand, this week. There is enough of wheat to keep all three going; and it will put a stop, I trust, to the necessity of shipping off grain. The Omata crops turned out famously; and the coming year will be a no trifling quantity grown there, so that we shall want a Mill for ourselves. I am going to see Gillingham on the subject, as his one pair of stones would just suit
us. He has been fortunate enough to get his house in our neighbourhood sold to a farmer who recently came to settle here, from Auckland.
There was another newspaper meeting on Saturday, when Peter Elliot tells me it was finally agreed to have the paper set a-going. I have taken no share in the affair hitherto, but if I see it likely to go on right, I shall have great pleasure in forwarding it, by a now and then assistance, as I think that under proper conduct it ought to promote the interests of the place.
I had a letter last post from Mr. Grimstone, relative to his periodical; but in reply, I told him that the price he has put upon it, is much beyond the mark. Cold water seems to be thrown on it here, so that I much question if he would find a single subscriber. Besides, I think he has grossly erred in making it a vehicle for politicsm However, we shall see, but I fear for its prosperity.
I see little or nothing of McShane, but he has still got the Maori patient at your house; so I presume he holds the premises. I wrote to Campbell some time ago, relative to Lakemann's farm, but have heard nothing from him in return; and the man is waiting, and I suppose may wait for his determination.
I like punctuality in correspondence, and there can be no excuse for such delay.
Mrs. W. and Pat desire their kindest remembrances, and, I remain, my dear McLean
ever faithfully yours
P.S. Mrs. W. Bids me say that should the Miss McLean of Auckland prove to be your sister, and comes this way, she shall be most carefully attended.