« PreviousContinue »
vice and crime among them than in any community in the world : their land is fertile, accessible, and peaceable : and those who like a quiet life, I imagine, would find themselves as happy there as anywhere. But from some reason or other, it has not been a very rapidly progressive Colony in respect of wealth and worldly prosperity.
It was founded by Scotch Presbyterians. Its capital is called Dunedin ; and its Governor or Superintendent, from the first, has been an old Scotchman of a very genuine breed, who complains to his Council of their sending him an “unsavoury” Address, and seems in many ways to have much of the ancient Covenanter or Northern Puritan in him.
There is still a very strong Scotch element in Otago, and no doubt they who delight in oatmeal would find it the most congenial place of all to settle in. But in these days the attempt to give an exclusive character to any settlement, apart, at least, from some natural peculiarity which may belong to it, cannot be expected to meet with more than a qualified amount of success, from reasons which I may better dwell upon in speaking of the Canterbury Colony.
I have reserved Canterbury for my last topic, as it has been announced as the most prominent subject of the Lecture. But, even if there was time for it, I should not speak at any great length about that Colony. To go into much detail would not be suitable for the occasion ; and apart from details, the origin and progress of the undertaking are simple, and may be shortly stated. I may be allowed to hope that this simplicity is not, in this instance, wholly foreign
from greatness, according to the union which often does exist between those qualities.
The first conception of the Canterbury Settlement may not be without a little local interest in this county. It was on the top of the Malvern Hills, some time in the year 1847, that the plan of forming a Church of England Colony in New Zealand was first talked over between two very remarkable men. The name of the one was Edward Gibbon Wakefield, of the other, John Robert Godley. They were both Directors of the New Zealand Company, which was, as I have said, the owner, in trust under the Crown, of a great part of the middle and south of New Zealand : within which limits the new Colony was to be founded.
Mr. Wakefield is a man of much vicissitude of fortune and much inequality of character. His name may not be familiar now, except to those who have attended to a particular class of subjects; but he will assuredly be known to posterity as the man, in these latter days, beyond comparison of the most genius and the widest influence whom we have had in the great science of colonization, both as a thinker, a writer, and a worker. Of almost all the colonization of New Zealand, of the Colony of South Australia, and of the whole system of relations now existing between England and her North American and Australasian dependencies, in the two great points of their freedom of self-government, and the principle of disposal of their waste lands, he may be regarded as the parent.
Mr. Godley has since those days become so intimate a friend of my own, that I hardly like to dilate much upon his character. In one word, I may say that he is
perhaps the man, of all whom I have known, the best fitted to be a leader of men in the conducting of a great enterprise ; as he was in the one before us.
These two men were the originators of Canterbury. The work so conceived was set on foot by a body of men, whom they brought together, called the Canterbury Association, who obtained a Charter from the Crown, purchased from the New Zealand Company the tract of land, about two and a half millions of acres, where the settlement was planted, and for a time continued to be the owners of it in trust, after the model of other similar Companies. But it may be noticed, I think to their honour, that it never was a Joint-Stock Company, and not one of its members, except paid officers, could make a shilling of profit from its operations.
I shall mention but few other names connected with the Colony, and those only of persons who have been there, and taken part in its affairs on the spot. The first step after the constitution of the Association, was necessarily to send out a practical surveyor and engineer, to select the site and make the first rough preparations for a settlement. His name was Thomas; and it too should be mentioned with honour, as he performed those functions admirably well. It happens again that he is not wholly unconnected with this county ; his brother was for many years a magistrate living at Worcester, and his widow and her brother died not long ago, at that place, and at Feckenham.
The land being chosen, was next to be sold by the Association to whoever would buy it; and its price was fixed at three pounds an acre. A little detail must be given on this point.
You will remember I said that the Crown puts a price on Colonial land open for purchase and settlement, But the Crown does not put the money so obtained into its own pocket ; indeed, in these days, the Crown has no pocket at all. But a Joint-Stock Company has, and capacious ones. And accordingly, the New Zealand Company, which sold this land to the Canterbury Association, demanded ten shillings an acre, or one-sixth of the price I have just mentioned, of three pounds an acre, for the benefit of its own shareholders.
Remained two pounds ten shillings an acre in the hands of the Association, from those who bought the land with a view to go and occupy it. What was to be done with that?
As I said, the Association did not exist for the pecuniary benefit of its members, or in the other words I used, had no pockets of its own, being in that respect like the Crown. And it dealt with the purchasemoney just in the way the Crown does, which is simply this :— after deducting the expenses of management, the money is applied for the benefit of the emigrants themselves, in respect of the land which they have colonized. Their own money is laid out for their own advantage.
The particular manner in which this is done in any instance, constitutes the distinctive system of that scheme of colonization. What the Canterbury Association, by its Charter, bound itself to do, was this. Of the fifty shillings an acre, which was contributed by the land-purchasers, and which we have to account for, ten shillings (an insufficient sum) was to be spent in miscellaneous expenses, including, as far as possible, surveys, bridges, and similar
operations in the Colony ; twenty shillings in the conveyance of labour to the Settlement, the great material need of every new community; and the rest, twenty shillings more, in religious and educational provisions, according to the Church of England. On this last point, I must dwell a little.
It has been sometimes supposed that we thought it possible, and intended, to form a Colony, which by its constitution should for ever be a purely Church of England community, if not indeed one representing one set of opinions within that Church. Now, though some of us were in those days ardent and sanguine young gentlemen, it is not true that we ever had such an idea, which in these times would be wholly absurd and chimerical. It would not have been thought so in older days. The Puritan founders of the New England Colonies in North America, attempted, and to a great degree succeeded in the attempt, to exclude from them, by the most rigid legislation, all who did not belong to their very straitest sect. But now, such legislation could not stand a moment in the face of public opinion.
What we did was this : to secure that by purely voluntary means the first settlers at Canterbury should be Churchmen. This we did by the provision beforementioned: that one pound an acre of the first purchasemoney should be laid out for Church purposes. This was announced, and voluntarily accepted by the first purchasers ; there could be no compulsion in it, for no one was obliged to buy if he did not like the conditions. And, of course, in that way, with hardly an exception, those first purchasers were Churchmen, for no others would be likely to give their money to be spent in