Object #1018042 from MS-Papers-0032-0358

7 pages written 13 Aug 1860 by Alexander James Johnston in Wellington

From: Inward letters - Alexander J Johnston, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0358 (47 digitised items). 49 letters written from Auckland and Wellington, 1860-1876, and undated

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

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English (ATL)

Private. Wellington

13 August 1860.

My dear Sir,

I am obliged to you for your letter of the 2nd., and for the newspaper containing the account of the Maori conference. Whether it does any immediate good or not it seems to me that it has not been useless; for the attention not only of the Government but of the Assembly and the public has been drawn by some of the speakers to imperfections in the existing system of treating the Natives; and the necessity, as well as propriety of moderation in the proceedings of the Government after it has power to quell insurrection has been made manifest.

I am not a little afraid that after military ''pottering'', military madhness or military despotism, may find too much favour.

Military executions or anything of that kind would to my mind be deplorable. Fight with the men and beat them thoroughly - and try as many of them for murder as there is evidence against, and some few for sedition or treason - by the Givil power.

All humane and large minded Juristsprefer treating such risings as Civil war rather than mere rebellion - and behaving to the ''enemy'' according to the civilized customs of civilized war.

If our military commanders allow their troops to do such things as seem to have been done in the last trouhles in India we should scarodly be safe here without exterminating the whole race.

Military commanders - when they have not direct civil responsibilities are very liable to go unnecessarily far; and if our generals were to catch Wi King and make short work with him, I should expect no end of our troubles short of extermination.

That is not the way to shew our power. The amount of stuff that is put forth on both sides of the question is not very demonstrative of the good sense of the colony. I am much pleased with the Governor's speech to the Assembly and am very glad to read his letter of August 1859 to Bulwer Lytton.

The insolent noneense the papers publish about him disgusts me thoroughly.

I should think my notes would be of little value now; but if you are getting them printed and want to save time, perhaps you will get some competent person to take the trouble to correct the press, and supply any oversights. I would have fain added a few observations upon the limits of Civil and Military power in case of insurrection; hot for the purpose of giving any definite opinion, but with the the wiew of suggesting the danger of going too far in the direction of ''energy''. Real energy will consist in giving the insurgents a thorough, fare, exemplary licking, and treating them afterwards as honorable foes - except those implicated in murders and similar performances. And even to those latter I cannot keep thinking the more deliberate punishment of the Civil tribunal would be far more effective than ''energetic military justice''.

There is a rather striking artiole in the Westminster review of April on ''The Ethics of War'' which though not be any means sound throughout-yet contains matter of a suggestive kind. I think the question of proclaiming martial law a ticklish one. It is always better to be on the safe side.

I enclose a few extracts from Vattil the great authority on the Law of Nations.

I hope General Pratt is ''the right man in the right place''. I hear some of the natives who have come down by the Swan do and some do not speak favorably of the ''korero'' or runanga or what ever you callit. I suspect we must treat our Maori friends, according to the old but not very charitable maxim - as if they were one day to be our enemies. i.e. while there are any hostilities going on. By and by they will better appreciate their own interests.

I hope your health is quite re-established and Douglas is well.

I am
Very truly yours,
Alexander J. Johnston.


If you do think the Notes worth publishing perhaps you might add the extracts from Vattil in an Appendix as Note A putting in a reference to Note A. in appendix at the passage where I speak of the persons continuing to use force and using it being guilty of crime - in some cases treason.

I have also sent a note by way of Noha to the Reader which might be inserted at the commencement of the pamphlet or paper if you should think it really worth publishing so late in the day.


Part of:
Inward letters - Alexander J Johnston, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0358 (47 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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