Letter from P. Wilson to Donald McLean, dated 18th. May 1854.
18th. May 1854.
My dear McLean,
Your favor of the 1st. came to hand yesterday, while engaged in Court on the subject of manslaughter, - a Maori named Hariwanna, having deprived another named Aperahama, of his life. But, as it appeared to us, with, however, one exception, in defence of his own. I need not detail the case here; as, no doubt, you will have it all officially, and my Report among the rest, by this day's post. You will see, thereby, that a formal inquest was not to be insisted on; and it was no time to be attending to any of our law punctilios; which, indeed in my experience among the Maoris, under such existing circumstances, do invariably far more harm than good. Nor was excitement a feature in abeyance in this case; yet the good sense of the Maori mind was in the ascendant; and, by the Judicious conduct of Flight and Cooper, our public investigation went off admirably well; and if your Judge will only concede to come down here, and try the
man, he will advance Maori obedience to our laws, by a quarter of a century. Indeed, under all the circumstances, I cannot sufficiently applaud the conduct of the Maoris in this case; and I do hope and trust that in the trial of the prisoner, we shall not be guided by the strict technicalities of our law, and its usually unbending observances.
We are looking daily for a steamer, or some other vessel to take up our legislators to the capital. Cutfield, it seems, declines going; and my estimate of the man's public virtues, bids me say nothing of value is lost thereby; and had poor little Tommy King, and that vulgar, unlettered Yorkshire man, Gledhill, been similarly conscience-struck, the Auckland Assemblies would, rather paradoxically I must say, have been illuminated by the omission. I long to meet the others, and particularly Monro, partly from your account of him, and from my reminiscence of his glorious grandfather, Monro secundus, whose pupil I had, pro tem, the honor to be; and then he was, in his way, the great Gamaliel of my Alma Mater; consequently of all the world besides!
I am very glad to perceive that there is, at length, a chance of your settling down somewhere. Indeed I should not mind making you a present of a cow,
and all the necessary dairy apparatus, to see the said proposition realised; though I doubt you will not readily become like the hand of a town clock; but comet-like, be off at a tangent some day, so don't talk so fast of settling.
I am very happy that the clans are foregathering at or about Auckland; and all I wish is that there were enough to spare us an entrada, as my wife would say, into this woefully over-cockneyfied corner of the Colony. How the deuce they happen, I mean the cockneys, so to have congregated here, I know not; but I suppose that in no other part of the world was there ever such a concentration, out of the Imperial city, and cui bono?
Somehow or other Pat has got sick of Wanganui, even to the undoing of his health. I take it to be chiefly what we Doctor-folks call nostalgia; which means a longing for home; but I have no doubt that this has been mainly influenced by supposed, or real want of attention on the part of the Campbells. Be it one or other, I see it would be cruelty to keep him leading an ascetic's life there; for he has no companion but a Maori boy; and he has pride enough to go nowhere where he thinks he has not a sincere welcome. My intention, therefore, is to let the farm, and bring Pat home for a short time; and eventually send him to Auckland or
Wellington, not only to see what is called the world, but to study practically any good system of farming that may be within his reach. Some months so employed would benefit him; and indeed I have often blamed myself for having let him go on his own bottom so early. I should like to have your opinion on this matter, and my wife says I must; so you see I am in a fix entirely and wait accordingly.
I think I told you how our worthy Press refused to continue the publication of my journal; from the fear that I would go a-praising poor Wanganui; and I have strong reason to believe that a certain magnate of our sphere, was at the bottom of it; and strange enough, he was the first person to intimate it to me; and with the magnaminous observation that one settlement could not afford to uphold another. "No truly," said I, "I have praised Taranaki almost ad nauseam in both the Wellington and Auckland papers, and neither objected," ergo the---(?) exists only with our Press; and more anon, regarding it. So next time I met him I let him know that I had addressed a full copy to Featherstone, and another to the worthy brothers, Chambers, of Edinburgh; either to be published in their journal, or in the form of a pamphlet; and therein to be reviewed; at which double-headed intelligence, the
man looked a little foolish.; for, as I told him, had it gone on in the paltry hebdomadal, I should not have troubled myself further about its existence, or publicity. So you will see no more of it in the Taranaki; and I bite my fingers that I was such a goose as to give them a bit of it. But heartily condemn such paltry jealousy; particularly when emanating from Officials whose duty it was to advance the general good. As to young Woon, he is so much of the dunderhead tribe that he cannot stretch his mind's eyesight beyond the daily returns of his paper. For his worthy father's sake, I had promised to give him, weekly, a push forward with something or other, to make his paper commonly decent; but he may flounder now, as he best can; and trust to his justitias and veritares.
As you will see, by a long rigmarole critique of Brown's, in a late "Herald", two events under very favourable auspices; and, as novelties, of great pleasurable interest and importance to our community, took place recently, viz,- a public Concert, and an operatic drama. From the well-known strength and efficiency of our vocal and instrumental amateurs, no doubt was entertained as to the success of the first of these; and, as so anticipated, it came off with brilliant and unalloyed eclat. The vocal solos and
concerted pieces were entrusted to Mesdames Edmonds, Humphries, and Colson; and to old worthy Newland, young Sharland, Parvis, Murch, Lawson, Hollis, Woon Junr., (pity it had not been Senr.) Morrison, and young Homeyer; and the instrumental, to the able executive of Mrs. Lloyd, the Misses Homeyer, (a host in themselves), and other ladies and gentlemen; among whom, of course, was Ritchie, who plays the violoncello well. The whole performance would have delighted you; and indeed, it evinced a progress of musical taste, talent, and degree of perfectionment, highly creditable to the contributors, individually and collectively; and as a corps, no less beastful for ourselves, as being an inter se of our community. Having no previous Knowledge of the dramatic amount of ability existing among us; I had rather my misgivings as to the issue of the succeeding evening's entertainment, to wit, the operatic drama entitled, - "The last of the Red Indians", composed, or put together, I know not which, by Sandy King, our auctioneer. It was, therefore, a matter, as the former, of very pleasing gesticulation to find that, whether as regarded the composition, or setting together of the piece, or the performance thereof, it proved a most successful hit; and of course met with the most enthusiastic applause of the very
numerous and crowded audience, who witnessed it. So marked, indeed, was this, and so general the encoring, and so many were disappointed of admission, that a repetition of the piece was urgently solicited for the following evening; and as kindly accorded, when a record equally crowded house was the consequence. Now what think you of Taranaki, my boy? But I am at the end of my sheet; and thanking you for your long letter,
my dear Mac,
ever very faithfully yours
(Signed) P. Wilson