Object #1003015 from MS-Papers-0032-0159
From: Letters - Francis Dillon Bell to W Fox & W Gisborne, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0159 (9 digitised items). Nine letters written from London and Dunedin, 1869-1870 (some undated)
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22 April 1870
My dear Fox,
Your letter of 18th January, though marked via Marseilles quite plainly, came by the Southampton mail the week after last mail left London. However, I don't think there is anything in it that specially wanted answer, though you will have wondered why you get none.
All the account of your doings at Patea were most cheering; and it happened that the day I got your letter there were two M.P.'s with us, and they took so much interest in your account that they took copies of all that part relating to the employment of natives on roads, to use in Torrens' debate. By the bye this debate, which I told you in my last was to have taken place about the 5th Instant, had to be postponed till the 26th on account of the Irish Bills, and I am inclined to think it will not come off after all. The House of Commons has not only more to do than it can get through, so that morning sittings have had to be and will yet be constantly held, - it is in bad temper about the Colonies and in good temper with the Ministers. Lowe's Budget was a great success, the surplus much exceeding the expectation. After paying for the Abyssinn. war he had four millions to give away, and inasmuch as he made his speech just before Easter and the House forthwith ran away, you may be sure that when the members get together again they will want to go into the Budget proposals instead of Torrens' Emigration debate. A count out is prophesised, though I hope it wont be so bad as that: but the fact is there are no speakers in the Commons to take such a subject in hand, and Torrens and suchlike will be chawed up by Lowe and Gladstone. I think the Colonial Office has
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purposly kept back the Blue Book in order to meet the House next week with Bowen's last dispatches making everything pleasant. Granville said a day or two ago they had received four letters from Bowen, all of them quite satisfactory as to the state of the Colony: and so it seems as if the Fates were against us and he had luck all on his side. Grey (who is here constantly) was storming about Bowen's dispatches; but I reminded him that he had more than any one urged that the Governor's official statements were to be taken and believed and not the letters of other persons, and so he must expect his own doctrine to be quoted against him everywhere by the Colonial office in justification of their faith in Bowen's couleur de rose accounts. I wish to Heaven you had all been firm about not going on with these cursed expeditions after Kooti. They have done for the Defence Votes, and have yielded no result. You might for the same money have made all your tracks to Taupo and Murimutu and across from Foxton towards Napier. If in addition to this expedition cost it is true that Vogel has been endangering us by coquetting with Auckland for the next meeting of the Assembly, our chance is a poor one indeed. Farnall goes out next month, but as Bunny positively told me neither Featherston nor I should have pairs, it is clear
we shan't have a vote to spare. I am delighted to hear you were off to Auckland to stamp out the agitation about the meeting of the Assembly and the removal of the seat of Government
If I read your letters and Gisborne's rightly I think we are quite d'accord on the main questions. As regards the troops going, I look upon that as done for ever; the sooner we wash our hands of their memory the better; and you may be absolutely sure we shall never see the British grenadier in New Zealand again. I told you last mail that I had done with pining after them, and wanted to turn our hands at
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once to Emigration and other things. Monsell came and had a long talk with me while Featherston was in the north. He had, evidently, been sent to see whether there was any way of meeting us. But it was equally evident that if anything were done it could be only on condition of crying quits over the old quarrel. Substantially he said to me "Will you cry quits about the troops if we make N. Zealand a separate Naval Station with plenty of ships" (I had hinted this at a dinner party a day or two before) "and do something in the way of Emigration, and so forth." I said for my own self "Yes, provided your proposal is substantial and real and no shams." He said the Commons would never give us a guaranteed loan, and that Lowe would never ask for it if they would (this last of course he did not say, but it was all the same). Then I told him he could introduce 100,000 people without cost or much advances, and do us a real good turn without a guaranteed Loan at all. He denied the possibility whereupon I showed it him in two minutes, on something of the calculation I have just put in my letter to Gisborne. Then he said it was a very small thing, not worth while asking the House of Commons for. "Exactly so; then make it bigger," said I. He told Clifford sfterwards that he thought some thing of a really substantial kind might be done; and as you will see by our public letter that Granville brought the general question of aid to Emigration before the Cabinet and no adverse decision was given, we may succeed in getting a good thing somehow after all. But we shall never do it until and unless we wipe out the troops controversy: and I hope therefore Featherston and I shall be able to agree in doing so. Featherston of course is strongly in favour of a guaranteed loan. But while Lowe is Chancellor of the Exchequer it will never be got: and if we once thoroughly believe this we shall be able to get something else. If we stick at the troops or the guaranteed Loan I will tell you what will take place: the Session will pass away, and after keeping
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us on a string till then, Granville and Co. will suddenly go off to the Moors on the 12th August by limited mail, and we shall be left out in the cold. My notion of our position as diplomatist is this. First eliminate what it is evident will not be yielded on any terms. Then decide which of two courses to take: 1. to go in for what can be got out of the Imperial Government, or 2d. To wish them finally bon voyage
and go off to ascertain what we can do on our own hook absolutely in the way of Emigration, taking up money for public works, constructing telegraphs, and so on. I don't see there is any other choice. If we take the first, we can get (a) a separate naval station, specified ships at certain ports, to be permanently stationed, say at Auckland, Wellington, and Tauranga, and a cruiser between. (b) Magniac's or Morrison's or Bell's or somebody else's plan of emigration with moderate Imperial aid, either by direct advances, grants, or guaranteed N. Z. Treasury Emigration Bills. (c) Arms lent. (D) small things if we choose, such as loan of officers and so forth as so urgently recommended by Fitzherbert last session. If we take the second, we can get whatever we choose in London, for our credit stands very high everywhere in the City. I am inclined to neither course in preference to the other; each has its advantages. But we shall very soon have to decide which we shall take, and I think you would as well as Gisborne and the rest of our colleagues not care very much which we took provided we got immigration set going.
don't think I have anything more to say this mail, except that at dinner at Lord Granville's the D. of Argyll asked me why we made such a fuss about 1000 or less savages which I answered by asking him why Cameron with 10,000 men and a fleet could not settle the matter seeing he never had a thousand or anything like it against him at any one point, and why if it wasn't so easy for him it should be thought so easy for us.
Yours very truly,
F. D. Bell
Honble William Fox
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P. S. Your letter to Featherston, marked via Marsielles has again been delivered only just now by the long Southampton route. I am rather relieved by what you say of the position the Government still seems to hold in the country; but I am sure it can only be preserved by cutting the ground under the feet of all these expeditions, and I heartily hope to hear you did so at once and for good as soon as you reached Auckland. F. D. B.
Letters - Francis Dillon Bell to W Fox & W Gisborne, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0159 (9 digitised items)
Series 1 Inward letters (English), Reference Number Series 1 Inward letters (English) (14501 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)
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