Letter from H. Wilson to Mr. McLean, dated 23rd. May 1849
23rd. May 1849
Dear Mr. McLean,
You make such good excuses for your long silence, in your kind and welcome note of the 9th. inst., that they sent all my angry feelings to the four winds. So you may now fly back to our "Paradise" as soon as you like, without fear of the "Scolding wife", and the sooner you return the better, say we all.
Don Pedro has gone to sleep at the Hospital to-night, to watch over poor MacShane, who is not likely to trouble his friends long. It is painful to see a Father so young and so numerous a family, drawing so rapidly to his end. We know nothing of his circumstances, but fear they are not very good; as he never would have undertaken the duties of an Hospital in his delicate state of health. We feel quite happy to think that we did not forward your note. Had we done so, he would have received it the same evening he was taken 111; so that we would naturally have blamed its contents, for his excited feelings. The cause of our holding it back was in
consequence of an error, in your supposing that Dr. MacShane had taken your furniture without our leave. Do you not remember my stating to you in my letter after Dr. MasShane arrived, that he had requested the loan of a few articles of furniture, in the name of the Government, to enable him to furnish one room in the Hospital? This I consented to, as I then mentioned to you, because I was quite sure you would have done it, had you been there. This, and more particularly as he promised it should be returned as soon as the harvest was over, when he would be able to get workmen to supply him. Believe me, he had no other furniture of yours; nor could he have taken any other out of your house, as I have every article of furniture, papers, books, and clothes of yours under my roof and keeping. At the time you sent for old Campbell and your tent, I thought it best to send to Dr. MacShane for the furniture; but in speaking to William about going for it in my name, he advised me not to have anything to do with it until your return; as he had that day been to the Hospital, and found some of your articles much damaged, I consented to let the matter stand over till we should hear something more certain of your return home; when, of course,
I fully intended to see that everything was returned in the same condition as when I lent it.
On the receipt of your last letter, I sent for William, and told him that I should, on the following day, send him with a note to Dr. MacShane, demanding the return of the furniture. You may Judge of my surprise, when he answered me very coolly, that he had gone to Dr. MacShane a week ago, and got the furniture home. I told him he had done wrong, but he did not seem to think so. I believe you will agree with me, that, as I was the person answerable for the loan, I ought to have been acquainted with the circumstances, when it was returned. He has taken the power out of my hands to see it returned in proper order. But this is all of a piece with his unaccountable conduct towards us ever since you left. The reason is best known to himself. To us it is a complete mystery. You tell me "to keep him in order." You little know how perfectly impossible that would be for me to do; and more particularly Just now, he being hand-in-glove with your friend Willis. But enough of this subject until your return, when we shall have many a tale to unfold. I have been obliged to mention it, merely to let you know why we kept back your note; and to satisfy you that nothing of yours could be taken from our keeping.
27th. Don Pedro seems to have given you a good long letter, so that there can be but little for me to add. As there seems some better chance of our seeing you back again, I shall do my best to get seats made on each side of our fire-place, so that you and Mr. Cooke may not qaarrel about it. I hope that "our Breadalbane" will consent to Mrs. Campbell and the children's coming round here at once. Setting aside my own selfish feeling of having them at comfortable distance, I do really think it would be the best possible thing they could do. They certainly would get a house and bit of available ground attached to it, for even less than they now pay for Churton's bare walls; and if they were to bring round three or four cows, they might live for little or nothing; and the advantage to the bairns would be not a little. I could then keep my little Goddaughter in proper order, if she proved as unruly as you state her to be. I am quite delighted at the prospect of becoming acquainted with one of your sisters, but I cannot help having my fears of you ever again making New Plymouth your home; - that Sir George will make you Land Commissioner, is quite certain; and of course, in that event, your headquarters will be some of the great cities. I would
not stand in his shoes, if he takes you away from this settlement. We females would let our tongues loose upon him; and then, Mercy on him, but he would catch it. But let us hope for the best; and trust that I shall live to see you sitting in front of your cheerful fire in your own little parlour at the Henui, with your sister on one side, and Mrs. Donald Maclean on the other.
We have at last received letters from Home, acknowledging the receipt of ours mentioning our arrival here. Our friends are well pleased at the change we have made; but still cannot help expressing some doubt of our safety, owing to the Governor's remarks in his Despatch to Earl Grey, regarding the natives of Taranaki. But we hope that Mr. Charles Hursthouse's book will, long are this, have set their minds at rest. Mr. Turton told us that Mr. Gledhill's Meeting at Halifax was a failure, in consequence of his having taken his notes in his own hand-writing. Before he had proceeded far, he was obliged to come to a stand, not being able to read notes at all, He would have, no doubt, done well, being a good speaker. Many thanks for your offer to get me anything at Wellington. I do not know of anything excepting your chance to see a good large family metal tea-pot.
This would be most acceptable, as my poor old one is certainly on its last legs. I have many other wants, but the purse wants cash, so my pen must stop. We were so hard pushed lately for money owing to the tardy payment of Mr. Wilson's accounts for attending the natives, that I was obliged to make use of ten pounds which Honi Ropiha paid to Mr. Wilson for you, in part payment of Chas------(?) colt. I hope you will forgive this liberty. Last week Mr. Wilson got the amount of his bill for Witana's affair, but the other one still remains unpaid.
Your friend-Pat bids me remember him very kindly to you. He has been laid up lately with several troublesome boils, which prevented him attending school. I ought to have written a note to Mrs. Campbell to-day, as it is Ewen's birthday. He is the one I always call my own boy. It is Don Pedro's birthday as well, so will have the pleasure next post. My better half is to write to the Captain to-night. He is sleeping at the Hospital. I must say good-night, with every kind wish, and ever believe me
Donald Maclean Esq.