October 30th. 1857.
My dear McLean,
I am so ashamed of my long heglect of my promise of writing to you that I hardly dare set about it now. Better late than never is however an old saying, and like most other old adages, a very true one, so I must beg your forgiveness this once, and promise amendment for the future. The real truth of the matter is that the multiplicity of official correspondence passing through my hands lately, to every part of the Colony has so much interfered with my private letter-writing that I have got into disgrace at different times with everyone of my numerous correspondents. So much for the negligence and its excuse.
I sit down now to write, not that I know of any opportunity of sending it immediately, but because I happen to have a little time on my hands, so I think it better to have a letter ready as it has happened once or twice that when I did hear of a person going I have had no time to write.
Everything has been going on in the old jog-trot style since you left. We have had the Clara from Nelson and the Simlah from London and Auckland but neither of them brought any particular news. P.M. Hervey arrived in the former with a wife, a Miss Nicholson, who came out with him, and whom he married at Nelson. She is very highly spoken of, though certainly she is no beauty, age about 30 and tho'
plain, still very pleasing looking --- that is to say as far as we can judge from seeing her in the street.
I hear constantly from Halse (Wm.) who writes most methodically by each mail. They had a meeting there lately, which was attended by Te Huia. It was expected they would have offered to sell some of the land north of Waiwhakaiho, but as there was no one there to treat with them the meeting broke up without results. The Governor offered to give them a Charter of Incorporation on the same terms as the Auckland charter, but the idiots refused it. They got up a packed public meeting where the agitators spoke of taxation without representation and other clap-trap arguments, and succeeded in obtaining a show of hands against the proposed corporation. The blame is laid upon Wicksteed's mismanagement, I don't understand exactly how. After this meeting failed, he (Wicky) called one of the Inhabitants of Omata whereat he was to preside and make a loud speech, but when the time came and the people assembled, there was no chairman. At last, after keeping them waiting 2 hours, in came old Wicky --- speechlessly drunk! So the meeting was a failure. The Governor has directed a letter to be written to the Chairman of the first meeting (C. Brown) in reply to his letter forwarding the resolutions, which will I fancy put the matter in its proper light. The Simlah called there on her way down from Auckland and landed 45 people. No
other Taranaki news.
At Whanganui they think and talk of nothing but the approaching races. I hope to be able to go and see them. I may possibly be marching northwards about that time but it is quite uncertain, for the Chief has not mentioned a syllable to me about the matter since you left. He is going to Nelson in the brig when she returns thence (I.E. in about 2 or 3 weeks) and I expect he will settle my business one way or other before he goes. No one in Wellington knows a word about it. It strikes me that he may be deferring the final arrangements till you return, and that we shall probably start for the mountain in company. All this however is mere conjecture.
I have little or no Wellington news to give you. Poor Mrs. Strang has been very ill, but as that is a painful subject, and one on which you will of course be fully informed by others in whose province it more properly falls, I shall say nothing more about it.
Domett is appointed Secretary to the Genl. Government. He is also to duty as Col. Sec. of N. Munster. He is at present absent on a trip to Nelson in the brig. The Governor, Thomas, Ormond and all the ladies are going to Otaki for a week. They start tomorrow, so I suppose I shall have a day or two's holiday, and I want it. Lady Grey gave a very nice ball two days ago. There were
lots of people there and the affair want off altogether very well. I'd give you a description of it if I thought you would care for it.
I fancy there will be great doings in Nelson when Sir George goes over. He offered to erect Nelson into a separate Province and also to incorporate the town, and they refused the former offer but accepted the latter. I am certain that if they had known what they were rejecting they never would have refused to be made a Province. Domett however I expect will enlighten them on that head so that when the Govr. goes he will find everything ready for him and if they change their minds they will have representative institutions on the most liberal scale introduced immediately.
Pray write to me when you have an opportunity and let me know how you are getting on down at the "How Reedy". I suspect you must have a rum lot of pakehas to deal with.
Mantell is appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Southern district of the Middle Island, exclusive of the Otago block. His pay is £300 a year with 6/- a day when travelling. He sails today or tomorrow in the Clara. Col. Campbell is Commissioner of the Middle district, excluding the Canterbury block, with the same pay. They are both Commrs. under the N.Z. Co's ordinance and the old Land Claims ordce.
The Canterbury people seem to be pretty quiet
for for a wonder. The last arrivals brought no particular news.
I may say the same of Auckland. We have had no arrival from Otago for 6 months, so they may be all dead and buried for aught we know. One thing is certain, they must be precious hard up for flour.
The Executive Council have at last decided upon the cases of Nairn and Billing, adopting your report as the basis. King and Halse are to examine into each case on the spot, with authority to award to each claimant any sum not exceeding the amounts recommended by you (£280 to Naira and £70 to Billing) in compensation for his losses.
You will be glad to hear that the Secretary of State has relented and altered his decision upon old Moses Campbell's case. He is to get his land now.
Oct. 31st. The Court party are all off (ladies and all) for Otaki today, to return in a week. I intend, if the Chief does not object, to start for Wairarapa from which I shall return about the same time that he does. So if Strang does not know of an immediate opportunity I shall convey my own letter to Wairarapa and take chance of being able to send it on from there.
Good bye old fellow --- write soon to
Your sincere friend