Object #1006223 from MS-Papers-0032-0158

4 pages written 7 Oct 1870 by Sir Francis Dillon Bell in London to Sir William Fox

From: Inward letters - Francis Dillon Bell, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0158 (46 digitised items). Contains correspondence between McLean and F D Bell, and Bell and William Fox; the correspondence covers the purchase of Maori land (especially at Wairarapa), fighting in the New Zealand Wars, politics (including information about the formation of Governments in the 1870s), and personal matters. 47 letters written from Taranaki, Wellington, London, Shag Valley, Wanganui, Dunedin, Melbourne, 1847-1853

A transcription/translation of this document (by ATL) appears below.

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Page 1 of 4. View high-resolution image

English (ATL)

London,
7 October 1870.


My dear Fox

You will not be surprised that as I am on the point of leaving a heap of things come to my mind which I should like to put down in writing, as I am pretty sure to forget them on the way out. However, they must all take their chance; nor is there anything, that I know, of much importance that has not been attended to.

I notice that in the Financial debates Vogel said the Commissioners would probably be instructed to try for another short guarantee for the whole four millions instead of the long actual guarantee given. I do not envy the ambassador who goes to the Treasury here with that proposition, especially if he has the misfortune to be at all sanguine of success. But the mere fact of the idea being entertained by you all shows as plainly as possible that you think there was really no difficulty in our getting the million guaranteed, and that we should only have to ask for the other three in order to get them. We must of course accept this, but I should not be doing right if I encouraged any hope of the man who comes next being able to obtain anything more.

I see from Vogel's letter that came by last mail (dated early August) via California, that he blames us, apparently, for not having completed the Nelson & Cobden. Railway affair. You will have long ago heard how Brogden and Lancaster went off at the last: but you should realise the fact that the fault was really Curtis's, not ours. If

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English (ATL)

Curtis had sent his pleins pouvoirs home to Morrison in proper order, there would have been little difficulty. But the slovenly and incomplete state in which the necessary documents were sent from Nelson awakened the suspicion of the keen lawyers employed by Brogden, who could not understand how in a matter of such importance the Superin. had not taken the trouble to do his work properly. It is too much that he should throw the blame on us, who have helped him in the most cordial manner in a troublesome job. But independently of this, what Curtis ought to have done was to obtain from you express & sufficient authority to us to make the contract under the Act. If we could have executed that contract, there is no manner of doubt it would have been signed: for we could have bound the general government to certain things instead of only being able to give assurances. Here again the lawyers could not see why we had not been actually instructed to sign the contract proposed, seeing that the Act was not a Provincial but a general one, and had been passed by the Assembly.

Then again as respects the Telegraph Cable from N.Z. to Australia, Vogel says we ought not to leave without making some agreement. It is however only possible to repeat what we have said so many times, namely that 1st if we had had authority when we first came home there is not the slightest doubt we could have got the cable done and sent by this time, and 2nd it is impossible to get folk here to listen for a moment to merely provisional proposals, and without authority & specific power to sign we are now at this date just as powerless as we were then, to make

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English (ATL)

any contract for a cable. Do not mistake us to mean the least reproach: I am afraid from many passages in the letters of you all that you seem to think we reproach you. Not at all. What we mean is to urge upon you, as it is certain some one must come home to do your new loan, is that whoever it is should be armed with sufficient powers. It is no use coming to London without them. Featherston tells me he has written to you what took place only today about the cable. The war has ruined everything in the way of speculative enterprise, and we must wait.

I do not know whether I have mentioned in any of my letters that I have devoted a good deal of trouble to the system of Exchequer Audit & Treasury departments and the custody and outlet of Public Monies. I never could get from any of the men who had come here, real information on these questions. Fitzherbert did not seem to have more than a general idea of them, and even Crosbie Ward, whose scent for departmental system was strong, knew little of the routine. Fitzgerald used to awe us all into silence by the most portentous declarations of what the English system was, but he seemed to me in a maze. I suspect that Knight knows, but then Knight is a man who likes to keep his knowledge to himself. However this may be, I am taking out with me Blue Books & papers which will tell the lot of us all about it: and if I can prevent myself from being idle on the way out, I shall draw up a popular abstract of the thing, for elementary instruction to Hugo de Carleton and Bunny, and for the confounding of our enemies in the passing of the next Act for reversing all our financial laws.

Featherston duly brought back the papers about the light

Page 4 of 4. View high-resolution image

English (ATL)

Railways, but I need hardly say that at the last moment we have been too pressed for time to make a proper Report. We are taking out the documents with us in order to make a dispatch on the way.

I hope you will approve the step we have taken in the creation of the £150,000 Bonds. If you turn to the Consolidated Loan Papers you will find that when Fitzherbert was here he seems to have contemplated the same operation as the one we have undertaken, though he afterwards gave up the idea and re-opened his Conversion. I am not so sanguine of your approval, or rather the Treasury's, of our authority to Morrison to draw for paying the supplies your departments have ordered, in case the promised remittances should not arrive in time. Really, however, more care should be taken with the Treasury by the ordering Departments, to make the remittances accompany the order. Yesterday the list of goods supplied on orders from the Government amounted to nearly £4000, with some £700 in hand. The system has been going on so long that Morrison seems used to it: but it is not creditable, and causes nasty things to be said when the Government Agent has constantly to advance his private funds for public supplies.

I could go on for ever writing about one thing or another, but the hour for the mail is approaching and I must say goodbye. Looking back at the months we have been in England, there seems very little for the money: but we can say we have not spared work, and in my own case I have not been to pay a single visit in England nor gone to see any friends, till this blessed time when I am really off for a holiday till I catch the mail, sponging out the memory of all work for anything except the work & toil of pleasure.


Yours ever truly
F.D. BELL
Hon. W. Fox

English (ATL)

London,
7 October 1870.


My dear Fox

You will not be surprised that as I am on the point of leaving a heap of things come to my mind which I should like to put down in writing, as I am pretty sure to forget them on the way out. However, they must all take their chance; nor is there anything, that I know, of much importance that has not been attended to.

I notice that in the Financial debates Vogel said the Commissioners would probably be instructed to try for another short guarantee for the whole four millions instead of the long actual guarantee given. I do not envy the ambassador who goes to the Treasury here with that proposition, especially if he has the misfortune to be at all sanguine of success. But the mere fact of the idea being entertained by you all shows as plainly as possible that you think there was really no difficulty in our getting the million guaranteed, and that we should only have to ask for the other three in order to get them. We must of course accept this, but I should not be doing right if I encouraged any hope of the man who comes next being able to obtain anything more.

I see from Vogel's letter that came by last mail (dated early August) via California, that he blames us, apparently, for not having completed the Nelson & Cobden. Railway affair. You will have long ago heard how Brogden and Lancaster went off at the last: but you should realise the fact that the fault was really Curtis's, not ours. If Curtis had sent his pleins pouvoirs home to Morrison in proper order, there would have been little difficulty. But the slovenly and incomplete state in which the necessary documents were sent from Nelson awakened the suspicion of the keen lawyers employed by Brogden, who could not understand how in a matter of such importance the Superin. had not taken the trouble to do his work properly. It is too much that he should throw the blame on us, who have helped him in the most cordial manner in a troublesome job. But independently of this, what Curtis ought to have done was to obtain from you express & sufficient authority to us to make the contract under the Act. If we could have executed that contract, there is no manner of doubt it would have been signed: for we could have bound the general government to certain things instead of only being able to give assurances. Here again the lawyers could not see why we had not been actually instructed to sign the contract proposed, seeing that the Act was not a Provincial but a general one, and had been passed by the Assembly.

Then again as respects the Telegraph Cable from N.Z. to Australia, Vogel says we ought not to leave without making some agreement. It is however only possible to repeat what we have said so many times, namely that 1st if we had had authority when we first came home there is not the slightest doubt we could have got the cable done and sent by this time, and 2nd it is impossible to get folk here to listen for a moment to merely provisional proposals, and without authority & specific power to sign we are now at this date just as powerless as we were then, to make any contract for a cable. Do not mistake us to mean the least reproach: I am afraid from many passages in the letters of you all that you seem to think we reproach you. Not at all. What we mean is to urge upon you, as it is certain some one must come home to do your new loan, is that whoever it is should be armed with sufficient powers. It is no use coming to London without them. Featherston tells me he has written to you what took place only today about the cable. The war has ruined everything in the way of speculative enterprise, and we must wait.

I do not know whether I have mentioned in any of my letters that I have devoted a good deal of trouble to the system of Exchequer Audit & Treasury departments and the custody and outlet of Public Monies. I never could get from any of the men who had come here, real information on these questions. Fitzherbert did not seem to have more than a general idea of them, and even Crosbie Ward, whose scent for departmental system was strong, knew little of the routine. Fitzgerald used to awe us all into silence by the most portentous declarations of what the English system was, but he seemed to me in a maze. I suspect that Knight knows, but then Knight is a man who likes to keep his knowledge to himself. However this may be, I am taking out with me Blue Books & papers which will tell the lot of us all about it: and if I can prevent myself from being idle on the way out, I shall draw up a popular abstract of the thing, for elementary instruction to Hugo de Carleton and Bunny, and for the confounding of our enemies in the passing of the next Act for reversing all our financial laws.

Featherston duly brought back the papers about the light Railways, but I need hardly say that at the last moment we have been too pressed for time to make a proper Report. We are taking out the documents with us in order to make a dispatch on the way.

I hope you will approve the step we have taken in the creation of the £150,000 Bonds. If you turn to the Consolidated Loan Papers you will find that when Fitzherbert was here he seems to have contemplated the same operation as the one we have undertaken, though he afterwards gave up the idea and re-opened his Conversion. I am not so sanguine of your approval, or rather the Treasury's, of our authority to Morrison to draw for paying the supplies your departments have ordered, in case the promised remittances should not arrive in time. Really, however, more care should be taken with the Treasury by the ordering Departments, to make the remittances accompany the order. Yesterday the list of goods supplied on orders from the Government amounted to nearly £4000, with some £700 in hand. The system has been going on so long that Morrison seems used to it: but it is not creditable, and causes nasty things to be said when the Government Agent has constantly to advance his private funds for public supplies.

I could go on for ever writing about one thing or another, but the hour for the mail is approaching and I must say goodbye. Looking back at the months we have been in England, there seems very little for the money: but we can say we have not spared work, and in my own case I have not been to pay a single visit in England nor gone to see any friends, till this blessed time when I am really off for a holiday till I catch the mail, sponging out the memory of all work for anything except the work & toil of pleasure.


Yours ever truly
F.D. BELL
Hon. W. Fox

Part of:
Inward letters - Francis Dillon Bell, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0158 (46 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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