Letter to A. Sinclair Esq., Colonial Secretary.
7th. May 1849
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 10th. ult., relative to the introduction of Convicts, with tickets of leave, into this Colony.
I have read over Earl Grey's letter, with attention, and while I rejoice that such benefit has resulted from the new transportation system in those places where it has been tried, I would depracate its extension to New Zealand as remotely problematical that the experiment would so issue here. I look at it only in its general bearing, and forbear detail.
Our natives, it is well known, are an exceedingly and aptly imitative people; somewhat more prone to vice than disposed to virtue; and supposing that but one in ten of the offered exiles - a moderate computation, I presume, should persevere in, a relapse into the vicious causes that caused their emigration, it would have, I apprehend, a very deteriorating influence
on the native mind, and eventually tend to frustrate the hitherto civilising efforts of the Government, as also, in a great measure, render nugatory the religious instillations of the Missionaries.
Again, as concerns the European population, I would observe, that as morals ought to be regarded as of infinitely more importance than wealth, or money-making, and whether as referable to our own immediate interests, or to the advancement, by our example, of sound civilization among the aboriginies, I cannot consider the argument of those exiles meeting our labour demand as cogent, or applicable; for, urgent as that demand may be, if vice in the latent state be the concomitant, and it must be admitted that a favourable character is easier assumed than rooted and persevered in, - then the benefit must be worse than obviated, and a permanent and growing evil take the place of a temporary and questionable advantage.
Much better were it that Earl Grey should offer like terms of expatriatian to families of honest and industrious character. Such, I believe, are, more or less, the prevailing sentiments of this community,
I have, etc.
The decision of our Public Meeting was much the same as the above, and Fox gave a very admirable contrast of crime in the United States and Great Britain, alleging that in the one it was accidental, or arising from temporary circumstances, - but that in the other it was a system instilled from infancy, - too true a case, I fear. However, we have vice enough without wholesale importation of it.
Helen desires me to beg of you to argue Campbell out of Wanganui. Surely he might rent a piece of ground with a house here so as to keep half a dozen cows here comfortably enough and cheaper than at Wanganui.
By the way, when you happen to see the Lieutenant Governor, lay the subject of our Post before him, so as to have it weekly brought in, as at Wanganui. It causes much grumbling, and properly enough; and no doubt will be publicly reprobated unless remedied, that for the sake of a few Military at Wanganui, a weekly post is conceded, while a settlement like this is overlooked. Moreover, there are now conveniences of passing the rivers between Wellington and Wanganui; while betwixt Wanganui and this there is no attempt at accommodation. Thus rarely can either traveller or mail depend on getting a canoe at Patea; and you will
find on enquiring, that but the post before last the postman, for want of a canoe, was obliged to swim that river. Yet the Government winces when its neglect on the one hand, and its extravagance on the other, are commented on in the public papers. I tell you what, - if when I go to Wanganui, I do not find a canoe at Patea, I shall join the Radicals, and call out as loud as any of them; hut would much rather see the Government take a sotto voce hint; for in reality I wish to support the Government if possible. But I only use partiality, especially when shwen to Military, as in this instance.