Letter from Mrs. Wilson
to Donald McLean Esq
dated 21st, and 22nd. December 1856
21st. and 22nd. Dec. 1856
My dear Son,
I am almost sure that I have answered your last, but whether I have or not, it is of little consequence; for, as Don Pedro is writing, I must slip in a line just to say that your old Mother will be as grumpy as any old woman in the Colony on Christmas Day; all owing to her big son's not being one of her valued guests. Still, as he says he will come if he can, she will keep a little hole open to let the bad humour escape, when he makes his appearance. There is His Grace, must needs find out that the road between this and the "Lakes" is not got over quite so soon as that between Inverness and London, nowadays; and he will not bring Louisa, fearing she will give him too much trouble on the road; and the Don must needs have my kitchen chimney taken down just now; so that Christmas Day will neither see cake, pudding, nor roast beef at my table. It will be well if we get a cup of tea and a roasted potato on that festive day. So that it
is just as well that you cannot come just at this season. A week or two later will be better - for you; and besides the figs and prickly pears will then be in a fitter state for your depradations.
Will not Wiremu Kingi's letter to the Governor and yourself oblige you both to come to this neighbourhood? If so, surely you will come a little further to see us. We are really very anxious to see you here, if it is only for a few days, - for many reasons. We are on the look out, with the greatest anxiety, for the next Auckland post, in the hope that the "Writs" will come to hand, so as to enable us to get rid of the Clique. You will see that the tone of our paper is much changed. It is now undrawing the curtain which has so long hid the foul play going on behind it. Were they to unveil all at once, I suspect it would be too much for us to bear. When Watt was in Auckland the other day, did you offer to introduce him to the Governor? He says you did; but that time did not permit to avail of it. I don't believe him, I am sure you would never (at least willingly) introduce such a "self-conceited ass" to His Excellency. But enough of the Clique. Let's to something more rational. Last Wednesday evening we had a very pleasant and satisfactory meeting, for the purpose of establishing a Society to be called the "Taranaki Institute", - principally
for the benefit of the youth of this Province. Something of this kind is absolutely necessary, to prevent the young lads getting into the habit of frequenting the tap-room, of which there are no less than six in the small town of New Plymouth, - one at the Bell Block, and one at the Omata, besides beer shops. On that evening Mr. Wilson was chosen President; Mr. Ironside, Treasurer; and a Mr. Harrison (a new-comer) Secretary and Librarian; and a Committee of twelve, amongst whom appear the names of Flight, Sam King, Dr. Neild, Ironside, Whiteley, Lakeman, and some more of his class. At a former meeting, Mr. Wilson, when framing the laws for the Society, proposed and carried, that Ladies should also become members, - well-knowing, that at the evening meeting or Soiree, the company of ladies will prove a magnet to draw the youth. These coming amusements will consist of Lectures on some instructive subject; or reading from some approved authors, with a little music between whiles. I was the first female who put my name down as a member. I have, before now, done my best for the young girls, by persuading the Kings to establish their school, and I will now try what I can do for the benefit of the lads. I sincerely hope we shall succeed. Mr. Wilson, as Chairman of the sub-committee, had to draw up a report of
their proceedings; which report he read to the meeting, and it seemed to give great satisfaction. This report he now forwards to the Governor, with a request that he will allow himself to be named as Patron of the Society. When you are discussing his champagne, pray put in a good word for our undertaking. May be he will show you the report. I should not be surprised if you helped me out in my part of the undertaking, by empowering me to put your name down as a subscriber. Pray do not forget to get me Sir George Grey's book; and that you are Native Secretary. You can very easily give orders that they forward us a complete set of the "New Series" of Maori Messengers, The few numbers of it which have reached us we find very interesting. Mr Strang had to write a letter on business to Mrs. Ritchie, and the good old gentleman sends many kind messages to me.
Mrs. Ritchie wrote to that silly woman, Mrs. Simpson, regarding the money you so kindly advanced to her. He only received her answer last post, and I think it better to send the letter to you, that you may judge yourself of her (I may say) shameful coolness about the matter. This foolish woman's conduct will give me many
a heart-ache, for the rest of my life. The accounts I, from time to time, get of her, from Wanganui, are any-thing but pleasant. She seems to get everything out of people that she possibly can; and then turns her back upon them. Pat is quite angry at her for her goings on. I am quite ashamed of her. It is a pity for the poor boys, for I really believe they would do well, if she would only let them. As to Emily, it is natural she should take after the mother.
I forgot to mention that Pat is much more quiet than he was a short time ago, but still wishes to take a voyage. In this I think he is right. As soon as we have the means he shall be gratified. He has, from want of experience, run the farm so much into debt that it will be some months yet before he can start. But of all this, you shall know more particulars when we meet. I cannot put it out of his head that his father ought to give up all here, and go to settle at Wanganui. You know as well as I do that it will never do. But he will be constantly writing to his father, urging him to come. It rather annoys me a little that he will never let me have a voice in the matter. When you come at Christmas, I must get you to write or speak to him on the subject. I do not think he will come up, although I have asked him to do so. They are calling me to breakfast, so God bless you.
ever yours affectionately,
Donald McLean Esq