Letter from P. Wilson
to Donald McLean Esq.
dated 1st. September 1856
1st. September 1856.
My dear Mac,
Your letters of the 6th. and 9th. ult., came forward by "Zingari"; also the bit; the money for which I shall remit on return of said ---, as the Spaniard says. I wrote some 6 days or more ago, to the Governor, in reply to his queries; which, as I found Govett, Whiteley, and Rhiemenschneider had got the same, I read over to them, and they thought I had said just quite enough. But they, no doubt, will answer more at large. But I need not take the trouble of saying more about these matters, as no doubt all will come under your supervision; and you may make a Kirk or a Mill o' them, --- but by no means under Ministerial guidance.
I can hardly tell you how our politics are now running, but the current is not with the loaf and fish party. B. has lost a vast amount of his canaille popularity; and as he never had other, you
may be sure he will he ousted at next election, if such we ever come to again for some years. For you must understand that the salary system has run our funds dry; and, now, all sorts of ways and means are in concoction how to keep our little vessel afloat. On the other hand, people, and those the most influential, begin to noise about that it is quite requisite the rig of the said vessel should be altered, and accordingly they now meditate doing what they should have done, viz, --- to petition to fall back to the state of Wanganui; we to be attached to Auckland. This was what Sir George Grey originally proposed; but Packington guided by Fox, would make us what experience has taught us we were not yet fitted for. And the cream of the joke --- a pretty expensive one --- is that the said cunning loon, after feathering us --- foxes are fond of feathers --- before we were hardly fledged with down, he gets up in your speaking house, and insults his bantling with the galling observation that "he did not see what claim Taranaki had to come before the aforesaid wiseacres as a pauper begging for assistance." So we say; and if we were rid of our present array of bloodsuckers, we would want an advance from none of you, and have good roads besides. Well, we are now seriously
going to set to work. Some say we are too late; but that is a folly easily over-ruled. Others think that if we once lose caste, we will never again regain it. But I tell them this is a gross mistake, for it is no more than falling back, taught by a three years' experience, to the wisdom or foresight of Sir George Grey; and that when we get numerically stronger, Provincial Government will not be with-held. Our "Herald" of Saturday, (30th. August) contains some novelties in the way of changes. It seems now that Flight is to be sent away somewhere; and that Halse is to be both Land Commissioner and Resident Magistrate! Humbug! and I really believe nothing more in the first case than an attempt to gratify B's spleen; and in the second, that that darling, sly slavery, Chilman, shall eventually fix himself in that part of his ambition, the Land Office. He is a cunning deep fellow, and is ever after his own interests; and, as in the case of the swamp, too often succeeds.
Halse requires to be on his guard, for as sure as fate, if he is once ensconsed as Resident Magistrate, he will not long be Land Commissioner. But I hope that we shall be able before long to have matters so changed that caprice will have little influence in governing us. Was it not very singular
that, in all the hot debate about Taranaki in the house, no one seemed to remember the circumstances that Sir George Grey considered us as not strong enough to require a district Provincial Government. We should have Mayor and aldermen unpaid, and nothing more. B's attack on you surprised everybody here. It tallied so ill with his speech, --- if so it could be called --- at the dinner he gave to you and the Native Chiefs in March 1854; when he eulogised you as the one "to whose systematic and sustained exertions the people of the Province were indebted for the land that had been acquired". But it is one of many instances which go to show a little mind. But the meanest of all his displays in this way, was that of ordering the police not to touch their hats to any of us Magistrates, except when addressing us on duty! a capital means, truly, of securing an influence at next election. He left with the intention of having several of the Bench superseded, and others put in their place; but hitherto we have not learned that his proposal, if made, has been listened to; and it may be hoped that it will not.
Turton seems very undecided as to what he is to do; but I fancy he will ultimately decide on
going Home. Whiteley superintends Maori affairs; and a better could not, I apprehend, have been selected. He is very assiduous in his visits; and, like yourself, he has a Job-like patience among them.
The Hospital is in statu quo, for the natives continue to make it an out instead of an in patient Institution, --- partly as intimated in my last yearly Report, owing to the tapu, in consequence of Rawiri, and some others dying of their wounds there, two years ago; and partly to their fears of being stolen away by their enemies, As an out-patient establishment, it is as useful as ever; and from the first, viz, --- in Report of 1849, I foretold that its grand utility would be in that way; and as such, it is of great benefit to the race.
Pat will perserve in the folly of leaving Wanganui, and going to Sydney, or thereabout. He is a strangely capricious lad; and, I apprehend, is only to be cured of the folly by allowing him to have his own way; and if, by so doing, he tastes of the adversities of life, so much the better for life's future progress. I offer, therefore, no further objection, but I think I may promise him that if he takes his way in the matter of going, I shall have mine in that of his stopping; and he will find me, in this, as good as my
word; for latterly he has vexed me beyond bounds.
I think it may be foreseen that the prosperity of this place in addition to the existing check, will be followed by a decadence of serious import. Too many of our labourers, and small-means men, became farmers; and mounted that ladder by borrowed money at high interest. Moreover, it was obvious that the outrageous prices paying for land, land could not pay back again; unless those gold-diggings' monstrous prices were assisuously to continue for ever. All the fools thought that such must be; and they are only now awaking from the golden dream to the cold iron reality. I can see but one good likely to result from this growing state of adversity; and that is that it open the eyes of the multitude to the monstrous mistake of our existing political state. We shan't starve; and it is a query with me, whether a wealthy, purse-proud, or a merely competently endowed community is the happiest. No doubt that with us the sudden influx of wealth was becoming injurious to man's honest calling.
Kind regards to your noble self, and to all or any who may enquire after me, and I remain,
My dear Mac,
very faithfully yours
P.S. I have written this in such a hurry for the post, that I can hardly read it myself.
Donald McLean Esq.