Letter from Mrs. Wilson
to Donald McLean Esq.,
dated 26th. September 1857.
26th. September 1857,
My dear Big Son,
Your note of the 24th. August and letter of the 31st. both reached me within a day or two of each other. They were most welcome, as they assured me that you were quite well; and I only wish they had had also assured me that you would soon make your appearance in this our (would-be Big) settlement. But I suppose we shall not be grand enough for you. Now that the wise heads of Wellington have made you understand that you have some drops of "Royal Irish" Blood in your veins!!! I shall begin to hold my head a little higher, seeing that my son and Cousin Ritchie are both connected with Crowned Heads!!! A truce with this nonsense; let's to something rational. What a glorious voyage the Jacobs have had. Only five months since they left this, - and before they wrote from England, had had time to go to, and see, all their friends. The voyage was, as you may suppose, a very boisterous one.
They experienced most severe gales off the shore. Our next letters will give more particulars. Both Mrs. Govett and Isabella both declare they will never go through the voyage again. But this idea will wear off in time. I am glad to hear such good accounts of my dear grandson. I often wonder to myself, if I shall live to see the dear little fellow. I fully intended writing to Mrs. Strang to enquire about him. But my long illness has made me rather lazy in letter-writing. Mr. Ritchie often hears from him, and he always sends me some kind message regarding his Pet. Both Mr. Wilson and I have been very ill, I am thankful to say that Don Pedro is quite himself again, enjoying his usual good health. Not so your old mother. She finds herself breaking very fast; more so, than those around fancy, God's will be done. I hope I am thankful for the many mercies bestowed upon me, - more, many more, than I deserve. I have much to be thankful for. Few, at my age, (63) can do as much as I do. My illness was a long severe bilious attack, and nothing to do with my foot, as Rogan told me. The poor man has confounded my last attack with the accident which happened to my knee. Just now I am bothered for want of a servant. The work is far too much for me. I find it tells dreadfully on
me. One with a very good character comes to me in about five weeks. James Ritchie has been going on very steadily and satisfactorily for a long time, - particularly ever since he took the Pledge. Now that he is allowed to work at his own trade, he gets on famously. He certainly is a clever, clear-headed lawyer. He now is the father of two fine children, a girl and a boy. The latter is a great prize, there being few in the Ritchie family. The Frederic Carringtons are now here, as, of course you know. Mrs. C is a very pleasant person. We knew them in Wellington, on our first arrival in the Colony. So we have revived the acquaintance with no little pleasure. Carrington seems to have been shamefully used, (cheated, I may say), by his brother-in-law, Mr. Gains, whom he very foolishly sent out as his agent to manage his affairs here, - and a pretty mess he made of it; selling some houses, and letting others at a very low rate; and lastly, marching off with all the money he could collect. Carrington is waiting in the expectation of at last getting his Waitera sections. Do you really think there is any chance of Parriss succeeding in obtaining any part of this long-looked for Elysium? If they do, many think that the town of New Plymouth will be removed to the banks of the long-wished for river. The Henui
will then be like Mohamet's coffin. I am so vexed with all our would-be great law-makers; that of course means our gentlemanly Council. George Lethbridge Esqre; Clocky Wood; Gledhill, etc., etc. etc., that I will not waste paper, pen and ink on them. Therefore I shall leave Don Pedro to give you some account of them. I will only record the doings of our several Churches. Since Mr. Govett left, we have not had service at the Henui Chapel. Yet they can give three services in the Big Stone Church in town. Surely they might give us at least one, - if only every other Sunday. No doubt the good folks will blame the Henui congregation for going elsewhere to worship. Mr. Wilson and I go regularly to Mr. Long's, whom we like very much. He is a most excellent good man, and I am sure a most sincere Christian. He was most affectionately kind to me during my illness. We must ever esteem him, for his unremitted kind attention to poor Peter Wood. Sammy Ironside continues to fall out of the good opinion of his flock, which is now reduced to a very few. I must tell you rather a funny story about him, which has obtained for him the nickname of "Silly Sammy." When he first came here he brought a gold watch, which he soon found was not good for much. He gave this watch to Mr. Knight, our best
watch-maker, with an order to patch it up, and sell it for what he could get. This he did to a poor soldier, who gave him £3 for it. The soldier soon found out the true value of the watch; who, in his turn, took it to a Mr. Edmonds, and exchanged it for an accordion. Mr. E. very soon discovered what a bad bargain he had made, but said nothing about it to anybody; but put by the watch until the auction of his goods and chattels, which came off in a few weeks. At this auction "Silly Sammy" was fool enough to buy his own old gold watch for £7.10/- !!! and now wants to make Mr. Edmonds take it back, which of course he will not be such a fool as to do. We often hear from Turton, who is still persecuted by the Wesleyan body at Auckland, who are guided by that mischief-making body Ironside. Poor fellow, he has been very ill; and so have most of the family. With him, it is no doubt the mind acting on the body. He has had much, very much to try him. We, his sincere friends, think it very foolish for him to remain in the Mission. He ought to leave them, and let them feel his value. It is too bad that a man of his talents should be ridden over by such men as old Hobbe and such like. Turton is a man who could never want employment, - he being fit for almost any situation. Poor good Mr. Whiteley
is almost as much annoyed by them as Turton. He will not give in to their follies, nor will he allow Iron-side to pull over him as he wishes to do. Consequently a thousand and one reports against him, and his family are constantly forwarded by Ironside to Auckland; and these are sure to bring down some vexatious order or another. Witness their sending him out to the Mission House in the middle of Winter; and just as they had removed part of their furniture, comes an order for them to remain at the "Henui". Ironside was heard to say that "the Whiteleys must be removed from the near neighbourhood of the Flights and Wilsons." And so it proved. The Henui was the proper situation for Whiteley, as it was so near to the natives. Now he is three miles further away from them. He has managed to get up something of a school at the Grey Institute, but we doubt if he can keep it up. We all know how often they have failed in Taranaki. I hope you will, ere long, give me your promised long letter. Do not leave writing until the last moment. I merely ask for a long letter now; because it is such a very long long long time since we have heard anything as to your doings, past, present, and future. I well know you have a great deal to do. Therefore I do not look for more than one or two lines,
just to satisfy myself that you are well, But at least once a year I want to know what you are doing, or intend to do. I am almost ashamed to mention Mrs. Simpson's name to you, after her shameless conduct to you with regard to the money you so kindly paid for her; but she has done the same thing more than once. I never hardly hear from her, - the less, the better. Her daughter is going to be married to a Mr. Towgood, of Wanganui, - rather a nice young man. I only hope for his own sake that he will not allow the mother-in-law to have a voice in his house. If he does, he will only repent it. From all, I hear a good account of Sibright. You will hardly believe it, that his silly mother will not allow him to keep up a correspondence with me. I have told Don Pedro that he must give you all the ins and outs of our Council men and their doings; but he seems as loath to soil his paper with their names as I am; so I suspect you will hear little of them from us. We all agree that you will find their true characters in the "Nelson Paper", wherein they record so much about the New Zealand Law-makers.
I do not think I ever told you that our rumpus with the Sam Kings was made up while the Campbells were here. It is very comfortable to be upon the old footing again. With the sisters we are as ever we were.
Of course we can never be on the same terms with Mrs. King; for we knew so little of her, - only a few months acquaintance, whereas the Misses King and I, as you know, were on the most intimate terms for ten years. I must stop now for want of room, and having no more chit-chat to give.
God bless you, my dear Son, is the sincere prayer of your
affectionate old Mother,
Donald McLean Esq.