Letter from P. Wilson,
to Donald McLean Esq.,
dated 5th. June 1849.
5th. June 1849.
My dear Mac,
Your short epistle of the 28th. ult., came forward on Saturday; and singularly enough, was the only letter for this place, either from Wanganui or Wellington. We see there is no calculating when you may return to this vicinity; but our cattle holders do not seem to think you are greatly advancing their prospects by purchasing such sweeping lots of pasture land where you are. However, go on in your own way rejoicing, for nature never could have intended this for other than a corn district; and the sooner our Johnny Raws are convinced of this the better it will be for New Plymouth.
Peter Elliot is in a great quandry about the £20 still due for his horse; as Dorset insists on its being paid. I have read over to both what you say to me on the subject, in tow of your letters, viz, - that E. Might make himself easy. as you had arranged with Smith & Co. at Wellington; but D. says
that his orders, received by J.N. Watt, on Saturday, are to recover the amount from Elliott, and to remit it to Sydney direct, or via Auckland, I tell them, that having your assurance that the matter is, or has been, arranged with Smith & Co. I do not consider I would be justified in interfering in the matter, which D. thinks right enough. You had better see about this without loss of time.
It was while you were here, I think, that Mr. Secombe, the brewer, applied for a fresh Bush Licence, for a country Inn and Beer Shop at Omata; to which I willingly assented, as he promised to make it not only respectable, with bed-rooms for the wayfarer, but to combine it as a repository for groceries, etc., so as to save the settlers from the trouble and expense of going to town for every little want. Wicksteed was also very agreeable; and he and I appended our recommendation to the petition. Capt. King also approved of it; and finally the Governor, Sir George Grey, sent to say that he saw no objection. Accordingly Secombe began his operations by purchasing a piece of ground from R. law to put the house on, entered into contracts with sawyers, mason, and carpenter; and, in short, had got the frame of the house up, when, in December last, down came a letter from Dr.
Sinclair, acquainting him that Lieut. Governor Pitt could not consent to his having a licence. So here is a really industrious man floored at once, and why? is the mystery. He came to me about it a few days ago, when I recommended him not to lose a post in sending forth a memorial, which I wrote for him, as also a strong recommendation to be signed by the magistrates; not for a moment entertaining the slightest notion that there could be any objection to so obvious a good cause, I took these papers in this morning to the Captain; who, to my surprise, seemed in no way disposed to advocate the affair, but talked about its being his duty to see that those in town who paid high for their licenses should not suffer. This let the cat out of the bag at once; but without noticing that I had so discovered, I read him over the Memorial, and the Recommendation, which the Magistrates are to sign; to which he replied that he had no objections to offer to the transmission of either, to Headquarters; but that they could not go through him. Thus I have now no doubt that a counter representation must have been forwarded, to favour the Publicans; and a more crooked, - and to a poor industrious settler, a more injurious policy could not have been called into operation. Here, I
apprehend, and so Secombe seems convinced, is the influence of our lawyer. But my dear Sir, - be assured there must be an end put to this unprincipled, behind-the-curtain influence, which may be the result of bribery, for all that I know. That something of the kind has been, is, I think, demonstrated by the facts, that in the first instance the Captain approved of it, and saw no objections; and in the second instance, that he sees it imperiously his duty to disavow it, for the sake of the interests of the publicans in town. The Bush Licence Ordinance limits to three miles of a town; and Omata is from four to five. I hope this affair will yet come to light, for in my heart I do loathe all hole-and-corner arguings; and unitedly we may easily put an end to them here. The Magistrates' Recommendation will be signed by five or six of us, - enough I should say to cause the Government to institute enquiry. But suppose the Government, on our representation, grants the licence, - how will those who have acted adversely stand in the estimation of both Government and people? Mighty low, I apprehend, and will give fearful encouragement to oppose in future. I really feel for the Captain, because I see that he is daily losing influence; and I fear he will not have his eyes opened to the evil
counsellor till too late. But may there not be a feeling that Omata is getting on too fast?
McShane has been off and on since I last wrote to you, but my past experience must be worthless, or his constitution must be remarkable; if he so far recover, as ever to be fit to resume the duties of the Colonial Surgeoncy. Yet he has such ups follow his downs, as I believe buoys him up with the hope that he may yet be able to retain his situation.
The new Ordinance, regarding legally qualified Medical men, is a good one. The wonder is, how it has been so long of being thought of. The Nelson nominees do most certainly throw the drivellers of Wellington far in the shade; at least, in so far as we have yet seen. I am glad to see Monro so in advance. He is from an able stock; and is, I suppose, very superiorly educated, to his fellow members. How are we to manage with these two Governments and Councils? Will the laws made by the South be adopted by the North? And where is Taranaki situated? for at present it seems to be somewhat in the situation of Mohammed's coffin, - one saying, we are of the North; and another, that we are of the South. One thing is very certain, we are unrepresented in either; and such quiet people are
we, that we are not asked. Yet we pay taxes, or fancy we do, which is about the same thing. No doubt, however, we might object. We should therefore have had the option, when we could have delegated some one or two members to look after our interests, for I do not believe there is one here, who would have accepted a seat, unless probably my man Moyles, who left Turton some time ago, because he would not let him preach, so I presume he is an orator.
I dined with Capt. King to-day, and mentioned the case of our being so unrepresented, to him. The idea had not before occurred to the old gentleman, but he is going to write about it. But what should be first ascertained, is, which Division of the Government we belong to.
We learn here, that a fellow at Wanganui, whom we, - i.e. my wife and I, long entertained as an honest, and unfortunate man, viz, - Richard Matthews; but whom we now know to be a most unprincipled hypocrite, and probably a little mad into the bargain, yet more rogue than fool, is about to prosecute your friend Taylor, for pulling his house down in 1843. Should this be the case, let me be applied to. Some time ago he wrote to me
that he was going to prosecute him, for £36; and hoped I would assist him. This also, was a most villianous attempt, but fortunately I had his letter acknowledging he had received the money, and so put an end to that endeavour. This shows the utility of keeping letters; and, on referring again to his bundle of correspondence, I find Taylor had nothing whatever to do with the down-pulling of the house in question. So, should it be necessary, you can give this hint. Your letter to him is still here, uncalled for; so we suppose he has returned to Wanganui by another route.
I shall send, by Monday's post, my correspondence on Dillon Bell and the Land Question, to Woon; and shall desire him to forward it to you, to the care of Captain Campbell, as Halse tells me that otherwise you would have to pay a heavy postage; I telling him that it is a pamphlet; as, until we have Master Bell's definition as to the penalty, I demand for his conduct, I do not desire to make the matter public; and if he grants it readily, I will, as readily consign the whole to the flames, and endeavour to forget that he ever gave cause for putting it on paper.
7th. Eliott has paid Dorset the £20 on account of the horse, but seems sore on the subject; and begs you will remit the amount to him, per return of post. I fear you have been led into a blunder through Smith, of Wellington; who is one who never stood high in my estimation; but given to be tricky in matters of business, for I once had an affair with him also.
I have been reading over all the debates in the Council, up till the middle of last month; and think it is going on very fairly. There appears to be a wholesome opposition; and opposition there must be, for a Government to go on properly. But it is very manifest to me that the democratic feeling is too strong under the existing circumstances of this country, for a freer representation than that we have. At the same time there is no denying the fact that the Government does not take means to make friends to its support. This, it will more and more find; and ultimately be obliged to succumb to the torrent, if it does not look better about. I hope you will not forget to bring our more prominent wants before the Lieut. Governor, for this place is most shamefully neglected in all ways; and we have nothing in the shape of an advocate here, or one who cares a straw for anything
beyond his own immediate personal interests. Selfish interest is quite conventional among us, and public spirit is at a woeful discount; everyone pushing forward for himself, and trusting the general interest to the care of his neighbour; - ergo, there is no unity of exertion for the public good; hence all suffer.
9th. You see I give you a scrap daily. Smith was smoking his pipe at our fireside last night. He is, generally now, in very good spirits, having none of the cares of life to vex him, as when he had the farm. Hence is very good company. We have had, for days past, a rumour that a fatal accident has occurred to Mr. Taylor, at Taupo; but we do not incline to believe it, from the contradictoriness of the cause; some alleging that he was killed by a waterspout; others, by falling into a boiling spring. I have not had time of late, to go to the country, but you will be pleased when I tell you that the McLean Country, commonly called Omata, will have, this year, nearly one hundred and eighty acres in wheat; which is more than might have been calculated on, and does the industry of its people great credit. So far you have been rewarded for giving us a good road, and purchasing
the Block. Harris and Mr. Carrington are busy setting off the boundaries of the Native Reserves in all the districts, by order of the Government and Company, previous to issuing the Crown Grants. Perry is going on with his iron foundry, but hitherto finds his blast furnace too weak to run the iron. But the specimens he has fused give great promise; so no doubt, now, but that iron will soon be one - probably next to wheat and flour - of the most important of our exports; and save, ultimately, the importation of iron into the settlement. Coals, we sadly want; and Mokau should not be lost sight of in the way of purchase, whether by Government or Company. A man, or men, of capital, might do much here in the iron way, but as Sydney has found the value of our sand, I have not a doubt but that she will usurp the trade; which should not be permitted.
12th. McShane was not so well yesterday, as he had --- been for some days previously; and it is pretty apparent to me that he is daily losing strength. At his bed-making last night, he attempted to stand up, but could not. He had no idea that he was so debilitated. To-day he is much the same, and expressed an anxiety for answers to his letters, from Auckland.
My own opinion is, that the weather is most adverse to his ever rallying; independent to the hopeless nature of his disease, which is long past remedy; as he is, himself, aware.
Our friend, Sam King, is, as all along, busy beautifying his grounds; which, certainly, he is laying out with great taste; but I suspect, at no trifling expense. However, every man to his own fancy, but I do not think his notions and his purse balance; and he is anything but a utilitarian; which quality in a colonist, ought to predominate, for a few pounds saved, swells like a sponge in water. You, too, are one on whose brow the maxim should be engraved, for you set far too light a value on cash, and apt to forget that every individual has his rainy days. Mind this in all your prosperity.
We have had horrible weather for these last 2 1/2 months, and our roads are miserable. That place about half way to town is now a deep lake. Another not much better at Turton's chapel; and a third at the back of the Tannery, between King's and Hulke's Mill, is quite impassable. I spoke to the Captain about it some time ago, but he exerts himself in nothing beyond a careful observance as to the accurate routine of Returns and Accounts; which, no doubt,
tells well at Auckland, but does no good here. I am going to tip him a note on the subject, so soon as I conclude this; and must compel the old man to look about him; for really, in point of Magisterial Superintendence, our town is in sad abeyance. The people trust to the authorities, and these look only to themselves; and so we go. I do not believe that there is, under the Crown, a town so neglected as to Municipal management, as the good town of New Plymouth. Yet, by the punctuality and accurancy of checking matters, I believe we are considered the best governed in these Islands.
I was surprised yesterday, when, after a medical consultation, St. George consulted me regarding a colt, which Hone Ropiha - a week or ten days ago - had brought to him, with a fractured thigh-bone; and which he now has under treatment. His object in telling me about it, was, that as William came with it, he presumed he would look to you for the payment of the Bill. I told him I did not think so; as Hona had purchased the animal from you; and that I had received part of the price from Hona. He says the animal is doing very well, but I shall see after it to-day or to-morrow. By the way, I wish you would occasionally enclose if only a line, to Hona; for the
poor man seems greatly disappointed when a post arrives and he has no letter. The weather has been so wet of late that Spurdle has done nothing to Hona's house. We cannot get our bridge up on account of the weather; but every part is now finished and fitted, under the able superintendence of Robinson; so that a week or less of fair weather would do the business.
I fear your dog Peter will sooner or later get you into a scrape. Rimini took him with him last week to Warea, but he got away from him, came here, and was found three nights running down one of Peter Elliot's young steers; and had nearly succeeded when Sampson fortunately happened to be out, and sent him off. Peter vows he will shoot him if he sees him on his ground; so, as Rimini has got the chain and collar, and he gnaws a rope, we have taken him and tied him up with one of our cart chains. My advice to you is to have him destroyed; for, having taken to the trade of a marauder, he will never cease; and he would be a bad gift to anyone here, or elsewhere.
Kind regards to all the Campbells, and they "are coming."
very faithfully yours
Donald McLean Esq.