Letter from P. Wilson,
to Donald McLean,
dated 9th. October 1851.
9th. October 1851.
My dear Mac,
I wrote to you last post; but don't much mind being two or three letters ahead of a lazy, and at the best of times, by no means an interesting correspondent. But whose fault is this but your own? The consequence is that none but those at and about your elbow can care a boddle for you. Mind, this does not include the wife; whom we all hope and trust is indeed your better half.
This is mainly a business letter; for you must know I am about to become a monied man for the first time these 8 years, having sold my upper Omata sections (150 acres) to a Mr. Weston, here, for £375; which, upon the whole, I consider a very fair sale, having never expended one penny upon them from the day of selection. So that you see the price of land at Omata is not on the decline, but otherwise; as I have gotten exactly double what it cost me three years ago. I wish Wanganui land would bear a like ratio; but that Highland confederacy,
the Campbells, Camerons, etc., will, with and by their cattle, so mainly keep agriculture down that years will be required to get land to rise above pastoral purpose prices. But to return,- in a twelvemonth's from this time, I shall have probably not less than £500 at command. Now, with this, my intention is to get some steady person to enter there with Patricio on Glen Reka, and to farm that for two or three years, till both have acquired a knowledge, not only of rearing cattle, but of scientific agriculture; for the more I look into the subject, and the more I hear from the really educated farmers, of my own country at Home, the more am I satisfied that to make money by agriculture, you must attend to scientific rules. Then, by the expiration of the above period, they ought to be fit to go on by themselves; when I should despatch them to Wanganui in a more scale; for there they would have 870 acres to pull and haul on, and with the prudence, care, and scientific acquirement, they ought to go at least somewhat before those oppositely circumstanced. Such, then, is the bare outline of my plan; and I believe I shall be found equal to the task not only of instructing them in the best system of agriculture, but that, also, I shall be enabled to communicate as much knowledge of agricultural chemistry as they may need.
The desideratum, then, is - the person to become Pat's partner. Your young friend, McKenzie, (Bethune's relation), it appears to me, would be a very eligible person, judging from what you said of him, and from what the little I saw, when he passed through New Plymouth. At all events, even on Glen Reka, he ought, by industry, to make a better thing of it than where he is; but prospectively, he ought to become independent in some few years. Pat seems quite disposed to be industrious; and works, I should say, at a rate beyond his years. McKenzie, by your account, is of similar habit. Therefore, I cannot but think that, were they together, they would do well; and eventually, if they did not, after six or seven years, choose to go together, they could separate, I making it a part of the Agreement, to make over to McKenzie, say 3 or 400 acres at a price agreed on when they began, or as may be arranged.
Now con over all this in your wise noddle; and should you think well of it, you might sound McKenzie on the subject, and hear what he says. But I should like an answer as soon as possible; as in the event of his not accepting, I shall send Home for a youth; where, goodness knows, there is, at present, no lack.
There is great discontent here on the part of those who have land to choose, at the circumstance of Cutfield having, as they say, -------(?), and on false
grounds, obtained 150 acres in the Tataraimaka Block. At our last Public Meeting some very severe remarks were passed thereon; and I hardly think the matter will be agreed to without a struggle. After all, it must be admitted that the partnership, individually and collectively, are a contemptibly greedy set; and I shall not be sorry to see them well exposed. Land aggrandisement seems to be their great ambition; and all for the purpose of enriching one young man; who never will possess the liberality of spirit to do one patriotic deed. From the bottom of my soul I do hate and despise such grovellers.
With the views expressed relative to Pat and McKenzie, I have this day let Glen Reka for one year, as a pasture ground to our friend Wicksteed; who, if his crops come well on this year, which hitherto they promise to do,- he will have his head quite above water again. I have recommended him and Mrs. W. to leave their own place, and reside at Glenreka; where there is a more roomy house than theirs.
Our silly folks, through, I firmly believe, misrepresentations, have refused the municipal Bill. At first both Wicksteed and I regretted it exceedingly; but on mature consideration, I rather think they are not yet in that state of enlightenment to govern or guide themselves.
The word taxation was that which alarmed them. No better proof of the state of public ignorance here need be adduced than the fact of their protesting against New Plymouth district being thrown into hundreds; and no argument could convince them of the difference between Company's local, and Government's general scrip. But no pains were apared on the part of Brown, Watt, and that fellow Hulke; whom I take to be a fire-brand in any society, to incite a packed room to behave as I am sure neither you not anyone else ever witnessed in Taranaki. Even Wicksteed could not keep them to their former loyalty; and both he and I are so disgusted with the affair that we have vowed to have nothing to do with New Plymouth Public Meetings again. We have conjointly written a letter to His Excellency, Sir George, on the subject, to at least exonerate ourselves, and I may say all the really educated people of the settlement. Moreover, Wicky has gone out to a Meeting he called for this evening at Omata, to take the sense of that portion of the community on the subject of the Hundreds Bill; and as none of our town wranglers can spout their vile eloquence there, and as the great majority of the really respectable portion of this community are luckily located there, I do not entertain a doubt but that he will carry a vote of thanks to Sir George for having extended the said Bill to us; and thus laugh at the fools who have
protested. But from this time forthwith I am done with the endeavour to do anything for the people here. For Omata, I may, and likely shall, act conjointly with Wicksteed. But I shall take no part in any other matter connected with the public. "The post of honour (here) is a private station"; and as to popularity, I never valued it beyond its real worth; which, as old Dutch Billy used to say, was no more than "Hosanna" today, and "Crucify Him" to-morrow. A pretty sort of curiosity this, indeed, for man to hunt after. Even to Pat, who was present at the Meeting, the language appeared so low and altogether so abusive, that he vows the most ardent desire to return to Wanganui. Yet there was something amusing too, in the eloquence of some of the orators; such as, for instance, William Bayley; who was particularly loud in his oration, reminding one of the old lines,-
"Shade of Demasthenes! couldst thou but view
This ranting, blundering, language-murdering crew,
Much should I wonder if in furious ire,
Thou didst not kick them to their sooty sire."
How Don Donaldo, I have given you a much longer than I intended. Yet I do not call upon you to do as you are done by; but go on as usual with your few words plastered over a half sheet of foolscap. Our united kindest
regards to Mrs. McL.; and do not forget to consider well what I have written about McKenzie.
Believe me ever
very faithfully yours,
P.S. Nobody now dreams, let alone asks, when you are likely to return.
To:- Donald McLean Esq.