Letter from P. Wilson, dated 22nd. January 1849
22nd. January 1849
My dear McLean,
Your letter of the 6th. came forward last week, as also that of 22nd. December, brought by McShane, who arrived per "Victoria" better than a week ago.
Wicksteed and I were under the impression that last week's post would have brought us the news that our Compensation lands were to be given out on the 1st. proximo. Accordingly so far were we prepared to start, as to-morrow, for Wanganui, that we had got sausages, etc., to eat on the road. Instead, however, of that, I received a communication from Dillon, - or as he is now called, Apollo Bell, authorized by Mr. Fox to confirm his and the late Wakefield's deprivation of my hundred acres. Still no just argument, no substantial reason for the robbing; so I presume I must lay my case elsewhere, and would have done so immediately; but both Wicksteed and King request me to wait till we shall see Mr. Fox, who, it is said, is coming this way shortly.
I accordingly do so, though very contrary to my own inclination, as I believe nothing will be gained by the delay; and as I wish to demonstrate to the Company that while they delegate such tyrannical and vexatious powers to their Agents, they will never find otherwise than that the settlers will be averse to their interests.
I have not been able to get an acre from Honi Ropiha, in the vicinity of his Pa. Next to Pott's, there is an acre for sale, but Johnny won't hear of that; and instead, would rather have his home placed on the small piece of ground where the grave of his child is. But that would give him merely house room. There is a dispute now between Tom Harrison and Wilkinson, about a piece of land there; which, if Harrison surrenders, the other will probably let me have. But the fact is, all the Pakehas in that vicinity, are singularly tenacious of the land they have. Honi paid, in my presence, yesterday, to Spurdle, the sum of £5, being the stipulated amount for December and this month. In so far, therefore, he is up to his time.
I am at a loss what to make of our new Colonial Surgeon. I called on him within two hours of his arrival, and on the two following days. He
appeared a pleasant man, and conversible enough; but though living next door to us, and my wife has been in twice, neither he nor Mrs. McI. have returned our visit. Under these circumstances, one is at a loss how to act. One would think that under his unfortunate state of health, it would be more to his interest than mine to be on friendly terms, seeing that in emergencies I might be of service to him, as was my intention; but when he thus departs from the civilities of common life, one is at a loss how to act; and certainly I am by no means disposed to obtrude myself on him against his will; for it is pretty manifest that if he can do without me, I can certainly do without him. Thus, then, the case stands at present; and I regret it, because I would rather be neighbourly.
I think you have erred in letting him your house, for two reasons; first, - he seems very uncertain about keeping it for a year; and secondly, - because I think you sacrifice your promise to the Revd. Mr. Ward; and also lose, thereby, a certain tenant. W. has gone to Auckland, and is not aware that you have let your house over him; and as Mr. McI. has not decided about retaining it for a twelve months, you have it still in your power to keep to
your first bargain; and notwithstanding the difference in the amount of rent, the cheapest, be assured, will in the end be your best bargain. But you must decide by return of post; as that which follows, for April is coming, and that is the first of Ward's term. With regard to the sale of furniture, and all household matters, I leave the details to Mrs. W; who promises to give me an enclosure for this. McI. told me on Friday he was going to write to you; when, also, he told me that the mare would not suit him. But, as just said, Mrs. W. will give you all particulars in these matters, she having undertaken the management, and I having eschewed it, fearing that in any difference occurring, he might fancy I was acting against his interest, from improper motives.
We quite agree with you as to your future views regarding house-keeping. All you want is a room and a servant, and a stable, and a servant's room. Keeping house as you kept it, was a very unnecessarily extravagant affair; and from what I learn from William, you ought to have been more comfortable for less than one half of your annual domestic disbursement. Your plan should be to board at so much per day, deducting absences, and adding what might be right when you invited friends.
We are all going on very quietly, but the Hue and Cry is Why is McLean taken away from us in this way? Report is current that Wm. King is more and more disposed to part with his land at the Waitara; but I can trace this to no authentic source. His people, mixed with others, have come in nobly for the harvest; and I am told, have cut down and bound up to perfect satisfaction, at the rate of ten shillings per acre; which has greatly annoyed the Pakehas; who, with wages and living, i.e. - gorging both in eating and drinking, were running their harvest services up to from twenty-one to twenty-four shillings per acre. When you return you must lecture them, i.e. - the natives, as to perseverance in farm labour; and you should by all means get them to try other arts, as, for instance, saving. Mr. McShane assures me that at Nelson, sawn timber is at 6/- per hundred delivered. Here, it is from twelve to fourteen. Que differencia? as the Spaniard says.
My accounts have been returned from Auckland, for more detail, which they shall have. Brown's account, for my attendance on Waitara, was also returned for B. to pay; but B. Having already paid all that the Court awarded, declines the honour; so I suppose I will be the lost ball between the parties
for a time to come; though I ought not, as the error lies with the Court here, in not having included my bill in their damages. To say the least of it, Standish is a very bungling lawyer, for he it was who should have forseen this. But as I believe his services were secured in the affair, the cheaper he could get his client off, the more for him.
Are we in the Northern or Southern division of these Islands? No one here can tell. Our newspaper people have not come forward, and Wicksteed now says nothing about it; so I guess it will fall to the ground. Our Book Society is going on gaily. We have had one supply of books from Sydney, and we shall have another shortly; and you know we have sent through Turton, a large order, to London. Riemen was with us all the last fortnight. His German wife is not now coming out, on account of some family misfortunes; so, being determined to marry, he is looking out elsewhere. But there is so little to tempt a girl in his situation, that I hardly know if he will easily succeed.
McLean's bridge is becoming very bothering, and not a stick of the new one has yet been brought out of the bush. Turton and Billings' case
was brought into Court a fortnight ago, but I voted it out, because it was pressing the defendant, Turton, for a sum of money; no account having been previously presented to him. We had another case on the same day quite similar; which was, for the same reason, turned out; and another case of a Publican pressing a man for £8's worth of glasses of ale and brandy. This, I also demurred at, on the score that a Publican has no business to give credit. The Court, however, was against me, so the case was postponed, and was afterwards settled out of doors. The Ordinance says, - "No pledge whatever shall be taken". Now, according to Johnson and other accreditted authorities, a word or a note of hand is as much a pledge as a watch, a bed, or a chest of drawers. If the Law did not mean this, they should have said so specifically. We can only act on words by their acknowledged meanings. Of course Standish, who was referred to, was against me, Nevertheless the publicans seem to think I am right; and now, I understand, decline giving credit. So far, so good.
Our wheat harvest is far on, and I fancy, will be an average crop; but now that it is cut and cutting, Oh what secrets does it reveal of the wretched farming in this district. Government ought to grant
a loan to some one who understands the trade, and give a premium besides, to shew the people what good farming is; and to what a state, be persevering in their carelessness, they are bringing this district into. It is more than shameful. At Home, frosts correct many agricultural blunders, but here, weeds and weed seeds are nursed and protected by the mildness of the climate, so that even potatoes and apples are sowing a curse over the land.
We are anxious to learn how you are getting on at Rangitikei and Manawatu. The on dit here, now, is that the Canterbury settlement will yet be somewhere in this vicinity; but on what data they ground the notion, has not yet come to my ears. It is quite possible the pre-emption might be extended to Mocaw, but where in this vicinity is there room for so an extensive affair?
We are to have a subscription ball shortly. Newland has volunteered his new house for the occasion. I think it will do. We ought to have a reunion of this sort once at least every year. Hulke's Mill is going towards a finish briskly, and will be grinding in a week or two. So far we are now well off.
Your letter to the Ornate Chief, I have not yet delivered, because I have no means at present to employ
him. I got one Maori out in that direction to clear the flat on which I intend to build my house, at 12/- per acre, including burning. There was some bush among the fern; and, in addition, he has cut down of his own accord, a number of old dead trees; so that upon the whole he has done his bargain very honestly. It is now a fine open flat, - faces to the North, and will form a very admirable site for a house. I have been fairly badgered out of my intended name of Glenfine, so fall back to the first suggested one, Glen-Reka, which, by the way, to those who know-the language as you and I do, signifies much about the same thing.
I quite agree with you as to the nominee Council. We are too few in number yet for its being otherwise.
My own impression is that the new 43.1.47 cannot dothe work 80.4.24. - while there is fine 193.41 - 80.1.1 in so far as going to the 81.4.50 - may do, but otherwise 80.1.1 - will not be 198.1.5 - to leave room 81.2.1, and then there will be 68.3.51 - enough about the matter. 80.1.1 says that 80.1.1 only 198.3.23ed it on 22.4.56 that 80.1.1- 193.2.37 - not to go 113.4.25 - in this case who is?
McShane does not seem quite assured that he
will remain here. On this ground, therefore, I think that it is that he does not wish to conclude any bargains as to house, horse, and furniture; but he will explain all this to you himself, as he tells me he is going to write to you by this post.
Wicksteed has been a little unwell, but was much better yesterday. There is a feeling just now travelling among us to get a subscription piano, but I am averse quite to the nonsense of expending our girls' time in learning; so useless an accomplishment. At best we could make them mere strummers, and when they left school, and became farmers' wives, they would soon forget it. I recommend, in lieu, a pair of 18 inch globes, to let them know that they live on a globe, that it moves, that there is a variety of other countries besides New Zealand and Great Britain; and thus, with a little sound knowledge concerning the planets and stars, give them something rational to talk about, when they are roasting potatoes of a night after the fatigues of the house and dairy is done for the day. But to play the piano, even bearably well, takes much time in the first place, and far more daily practice afterwards, than any Colonial's wife can spare.
Now I think I have given you a good morning's
screed; so wishing you very soon among us,
my dear Mac,
ever faithfully yours,
P.S. Please say to your Valley de Sham, Willis, that I got his epistle, and that Eri, some little time back, was very ill of rheumatism, but is now all alive and doing well. She is a very good hearted creature, and on a recent occasion, when poor mouth-making Dalby was very ill, she behaved to him with great kindness and attention.