Letter from P. Wilson,
dated 23rd. May, 1849.
23rd. May 1849
My dear Mac,
I begin my letter so many days before post day, as I know not how I may be occupied when that day comes. Your long and welcome letters came forward by Minerapa on the 18th, and were kindly forwarded by Mr. Halse, to us immediately. I leave the detail of all domestic matters to Mrs. W., who is rather my superior in such affairs, though it does not do to acknowledge it, for wives are rather curious animals, if given to believe that they are the better half in any particular; so bottle this up as a maxim.
I have not given your letter to McShane, and I think you will approve of my not doing so. On Friday night or Saturday morning, he was seized with a violent hamoptus, or coughing up of blood, but of which I heard nothing but rumour till the Sunday, when I called on him. I found him most wretchedly weak,
and scarcely with power of utterance. Early on Monday he sent for me, and I found him under a renewed attack. This lasted some time, but he rallied eventually, though it has left him still weaker. Yesterday he wrote on a slate that he resigned the Hospital to me; and requested I would take immediate charge, it being his intention, should he survive these attacks, to return to Nelson. Charge, of course, I have taken, but I gave him to understand that I should do duty for him till he left, so that he may have the emolument; for, poor as I am, I have not the family that he has to provide for. Now you see my motive for not giving your letter, as any source of irritation must have tended to aggravate his complaint; and no earthly benefit to you would have resulted. The mare, I apprehend, will be returned; and as she is quite big in foal, I suppose I may send her out to the larger Station with Charlotte; or she can run in the Hospital grounds, where she is now. But I shall see to this.
My new mare is turning out very well. She was weak and out of order, having been fed for months on mere fern stuff, when I got her; but she is now getting sturdy, and promises to be very serviceable. Your saddle, I find, does not fit her, but gave her a sore back in two days' trial, so I wish you would look
out for one for me at Wellington.
Wilkie King has now come in from Cutfield's Station; and the old Captain, I am told, has resigned the farming to his entire management. This is all right, and I have no doubt he will do very well.
The Compensation Question was settled (not satisfactorily), last Saturday. The Committee put the settlers into classes, and awarded accordingly. Thus, those of 1840 - 1842 were put in the first class; those up to 1845 in the 2nd, class; and all ulteriors in the 3rd. class; awarding to the first, an acre and a half; to the second, an acre; and the third, half an acre. Now it strikes me that this is a very fair, and equitable arrangement. Our friend, Wicksteed, however, who attended as Attorney for Wheeler, thought it otherwise; and ere the Committee had well begun to develop their plan, he broke out against them, as having exceeded their powers, by classifying; and intimated that they had taken good care of their own interests. It unluckily happened that the Committee was entirely composed of first class men; which gave a colouring to his assertions. But I cannot hut think that he went too far, as his observations tended to no other purpose than to instigate bad feelings; and I, moreover, think that
as Attorney, he ought not to have pushed himself forward as the leader of the disaffected; and I regret it the more, as of late there certainly was a loosening of the animosity which has so long existed against him. There was less cause, too, for his interference, as it was quite an understood matter that in case of any difference of opinion, or sense of injustice, an appeal lay to the Governor. Therefore such, in my opinion, should have been the recourse. I have not see him since, but I shall give him a wiggin' when I do; for I regard him as a most useful public man here; and who would be efficiently more so if he played less the part of a demagogue, for I hold that popularity here is not at all worth the acquirement.
---The worthy Willis was to have left to-day for Wanganui, but I have seen nothing of him for these several days past, and care not should I never see his face here again; for he is as worthless a fellow as may be. We regret, however, his wife; for she is in every respect, a very useful and well-conducted a girl as there is hereabout; and one who you may safely recommend to Mrs. Campbell to wash. I suspect McGregor
will soon tire of Master Willis, He, and your William, are now inseparables, and seem to live together; though he was the man who took such especial care to guard against Willis, on account of his swindling propensities. I believe now, most firmly, that they form a well-matched pair, for we certainly have no greater reason to think well of the one than of the other.
---McShane has passed the last two days somewhat better; but no indication of lasting amendment; and I quite agree with him that he has no chance of prolonging a few months, but by the observance of perfect quietude; but as to doing duty, I consider his case an utter bar thereto. I have gone on doing duty for him, which is no great matter, as we have but eight cases in Hospital. He has not said anything since of his resignation; nor is there occasion; but I wish to speak to you privately on the subject; or please keep it to yourself.
---Before McShane came here, I always felt myself awkwardly situated. If in the event of a case of importance
should occur in sickness here, having no one to whom I could look to to assist me in any emergency; for neither St. George, nor Lowe, are competent to exercise the profession they pretend to. But in the event of my getting the Hospital, and McShane being incapacitated, I should be worse off than ever; besides obliging myself to be constantly within call of the Hospital, which would be a confinement not very agreeable. It has occured to both my wife and me, therefore, to ask you, should you revisit Wellington, to enquire after some steady, regularly educated young professional man, to come round here; who, as the Ordinance now about to be brought in will be a bar to all who are not properly educated would be pretty certain of having the best share of private practice; as I am determined to confine myself entirely to consultation visits; and if active, there is no likelihood that either Lowe or St. George could cope against him. In this case, too, I would allow him a proportion of my salary, to give me his occasional assistance in Hospital; and in this event, after two or three years of my desiring to retire, he should have, so far, a strong recommendation to fill my place. There was a young man of the name of Turnbull,
who resided at the Hutt, of whom I have heard a good report; and who, I believe, is from North the Tweed. However, as nothing is yet certain, you could only act proplematically; that is, you might sound him on the subject, without holding out more than that the circumstance might be, promising him that you would correspond with him hereafter on the subject. But first enquire into moral and professional character. But as Mr. McShane might so far recover as to desire to continue his Hospital duties, it were well, probably, to say or do nothing till I write again. So, for the present, let it be so.
Honi Ropiha's house is now advancing on to completion; and will, I presume, all be finished, except the chimney, in the course of the month. The Henui bridge is also going on favourably, and if the weather permits, will be about ready for you to cross over on your return. What a comfort it will be, and moreover, will, it is said, be the finest bridge in the Colony.
Miss Wright is coming out immediately, and the on dit is that she comes to be knit to Parson Thatcher. It is said that several passengers accompany her for this place, - among others, Josias and
Mrs. Hoskins' relations, and other branches of the Veale family. Such as these are what we want, not ticket-of-leave gentry. My impression is, that now, by Compensation, the settlers have got so much land here, that numbers of their relations will come out to avail of it. I am endeavouring to instil the notion into their minds, as a very rational means of emigration.
I hope you will manage to get Breadalbane to come round with you, that I may have an opportunity of getting paid for the vast number of games at Picquet he owes me. I applied to Fox, when here, to get Gilfillan's Wanganui section transferred here; which he immediately granted. He is now at Adelaide, but intends to return to this place. We have had a long spell of wet weather, and colds are quite epidemic amongst us. Mr. & Mrs. Wicksteed went out to Omata on Monday, to spend the week in arranging there for final settlement; and a precious time they must have had of it, for we have had but one tolerable day since.
Your dog Peter returned from Riemenschneider's some time ago; which, at the time, made us uneasy about the little man; but we learn since that R, sent him in; he having gone to Woon's place; where,
it seems, he is interdicted, in consequence of having killed one of Mrs. W's goats, when last there. Noon, 26th.
Riemenschneider just came in from Warea. I have seen him but for a moment, as he has his sermon to prepare for to-morrow.
At my visit to the Hospital this evening, McShane said to me that he feared he would be a loser of eight or nine pounds, by the mare; or incur the probability of not being able to dispose of her. I told him that I did not apprehend, as the mare is in good - indeed excellent order - and so near the foaling, that under the circumstances you would have any objections to have her returned. At this moment a fit of coughing came on, and as he was greatly fatigued thereby, I did not renew the subject; but as you, in your letter, have stated that you would take her back, I would rather she should be sent out to Maturoa to foal there, and probably will be the most profitable for you.
I would be glad to send you my letter to Mr. Fox, but it is an awkward size for the post; and as it is likely now you will soon be here, I need not.
McShane is much about the same to-day, very very weak. I conclude this this evening, as I
may not have time in the morning; as my hours then are engaged at the Hospital.
With kind regards to all friends at Wanganui,
my dear Mac,
ever faithfully yours,