SIR GEORGE GREY., K.C.B.
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SIR GEORGE GREY.
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SIR GEO. GREY, K.C.B.
Early Life--Exploration of Australia--Arrival in New Zealand--Services in Heke's War--His Governorship of Cape Colony--Quarrel with General Cameron--Capture of Wereroa Pa--Dream of Anglo-Saxon supremacy--Arduous services in the Kaffir War--Clever Capture of the leading Rebel Chiefs--His timely aid during the Indian Mutiny--He replenishes the Cape Treasury out of his private funds--Efforts to establish a South African Confederation--Recalled and reappointed--Mediation between the Basutos and Orange Free State--Differences with the Secretary of State.
SIR GEORGE GREY was born at Lisbon, in 1812, three days after the death of his father, Colonel Grey, who fell while bravely leading his regiment at Badajoz; consequently, having imbibed the spirit of war at his very birth, it is not so much to be wondered at that he should still be found in the thick of the fight. Politically, Sir George Grey's career has been an eventful one. Too able and intractable to be led, and too much feared ever to be a strong leader, he has won staunch supporters and provoked bitter opponents; as with all men of pronounced character, his friends are as enthusiastic as his enemies are bitter. There are those who believe Sir George to be only one remove from the angelic, while others associate him with angels of a darker hue. Sir George started upon his public career in a rather remarkable way. A successful military course at Sandhurst gained him a captaincy in Her Majesty's 83rd Regiment before he was twenty-four years old. Two years later, his services were accepted by the Colonial Office, to explore North-Western Australia, and, in 1836, he landed at Hanover Bay, with Lieut. Lushington and twelve men, and had only penetrated about 70 miles inland, along the course of the Glenelg River, when his party were attacked by natives, and he received a spear-wound, from which he suffers to this day. Under these trying circumstances, further progress became impracticable, and, returning to Hanover Bay, the party were taken on board H.M.S. Beagle. After two years' recruiting at the Mauritius, Sir George prepared for a second attempt, and a whaler conveyed him to Shark's Bay, in Western Australia, where he was left, with three whaleboats and six months' provisions. Disaster again followed; the stores were washed away in a storm, and the party had to set out for Perth, a
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distance of 600 miles, in whaleboats, now in a leaky condition. They suffered such terrible privations, that all his party becoming exhausted, Captain Grey had to proceed ahead, and eventually succeeded in not only reaching his destination, but in sending back timely succour to his men. He was accompanied in this perilous journey by two non-commissioned officers of the Royal Sappers and Miners, John Cole and Richard Auger--two resolute and noble-minded men--and by a faithful native named Kaiber. His conduct on this occasion found such favour in the eyes of the Colonial Office that they rewarded him with the Governorship of South Australia; and some time after, when news of the native disturbances in New Zealand, under Captain Fitzroy's Government, reached England, Captain Grey was appointed to the head of affairs in this colony. He arrived here in November, 1845, and finding that the operations against the rebellious chief Heke were proceeding slowly and unsatisfactorily, he soon infused such spirit into the campaign, that within two months, not only had the Ruapekapeka Pa fallen, but Heke's power was completely broken. Matters were also in a very disturbed state in the southern part of the North Island, owing to the lawless behaviour of the chiefs Rauparaha and Rangehaeate, and the new Governor lost no time in punishing them. Having on the 23rd July, 1846, landed at Rauparaha's settlement before daylight with 130 men, he seized the old chief and carried him a prisoner on board ship, which act completely restored peace to the island. For these services Captain Grey was made a K.C.B.
The Home Government, having by this time formed a good opinion of Sir George Grey's administrative abilities, he was raised to the Governorship of the Cape Colony, and appointed High Commissioner for South Africa. The Kaffirs being in a state of insubordination, he took the reins of government at a most critical period, but was so successful in pacifying the natives, that in 1861, after the outbreak of the Maori War, he was once more dispatched to this colony, and continued to administer its affairs up to February, 1868, when his appointment ceased by effluxion of time.
During this period he came to an open rupture with General Cameron, who returned to England some two years before Sir George. Upon the latter's arrival, the Imperial Government who had throughout the correspondence apparently favoured the General against the Governor, instead of offering His Excellency another appointment, quietly pensioned him off. Sir George soon afterwards came back to New Zealand, and gave his valuable services for the good of the colony, by accepting various offices, such as the Superintendency of the Province of Auckland, the Leadership of the Opposition, and Premiership of the colony, which latter position he held for two years. In his quarrel with General Cameron, he vigorously refuted the charge brought by the General against the colonists, of desiring to use Her Majesty's forces in support of an iniquitous job, viz., to wrest land from the natives, and perpetuate
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large military expenditure. Sir George Grey was a man without fear, and his perseverance and courage were often called into play, particularly in his explorations, and during the Kaffir and Maori Wars. At Wereroa, after General Cameron had declined to attack the pa, on the ground that it could not be taken, and communications kept open, with less than 2000 soldiers, and then at a great sacrifice of life, Sir George assembled 309 friendly natives, 139 Forest Rangers, and 25 of the Wanganui Cavalry, and while 200 Imperial troops looked on as spectators, he personally, at the risk of his life, directed the operations against the pa, which he eventually succeeded in taking, capturing fifty natives who were hurrying to the relief.
The following correspondence took place between the Governor and the General upon the subject. The General wrote to the Governor on the 28th January, 1865, as follows:--
"I consider my force insufficient to attack so formidable a work as the Wereroa Pa. It would be necessary to establish two posts to keep our communication open with Wanganui, and we should have to furnish escorts daily for convoys. This would reduce my force to 700 or 800 men, which would not be sufficient to provide for the protection of the camp in such a country, and at the same time to carry on all the laborious operations of the siege. Instead of 1100 men, my present available force, I should require 2000. Besides, I should not have a single soldier left in reserve, and if anything should happen in any other part of the settlement, it would take a week or ten days to remove all the stores and raise the siege. For these reasons I do not intend to attack the pa, but to cross the Waitotara, and see what can be done on that side."
As the General would not attack the pa, the Governor proposed to let the friendly natives do it. He writes to General Cameron--
"The natives of this place and their friends, about 500 strong in all, wish to be allowed to attack the Wereroa Pa at Waitotara. Will their doing so interfere with your operations? If not, I will give them permission to do it. I am satisfied if they enter upon this that they will not commit any acts of cruelty, but will proceed in entire conformity with the rules of civilised nations."
The General, who had no faith in friendly natives, replies--
"So far from interfering with my operations, the friendly natives will materially facilitate them by attacking the Wereroa Pa, which Mr. Mantell affirms they will take 'in little more time than they will require to march thither.' I am quite sure that we could not take it in that off-hand manner, nor take it in any manner without considerable loss--that is, supposing the natives defend it in earnest, which there is no reason to think they will not do."
And a few days after--
"I was anxious to hear what the friendly natives are about. I expect to hear that their supposed desire to attack the Wereroa Pa was all bounce, though both you and Mr. Mantell seemed to have believed in it. However, if our operations should have the effect of drawing the greater part of the garrison
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out of the pa, which I expect they will, the friendly natives may have an opportunity of attacking it with some prospect of success."
The Governor replies--
"Mr. Mantell tells me that when the natives arrived at Wanganui, elated with their late victory over Pehi, they were anxious at once to have proceeded against the place, but he did not feel justified on his own responsibility in allowing them to do so. Since that time many of them have dispersed, and although they have repeatedly pressed me on the point of their going there I have thought it better for a little time to watch the course of events, and see what opportunities presented themselves, and what your movements may be, and what results flowed from these."
The General rejoins--
"I was very confident that the desire stated to have been entertained by the friendly natives to be allowed to attack the Wereroa Pa was mere bounce; and I was astonished that you should have believed in it, that is to say, if you really did believe in it; and yet you could hardly have proposed that 500 natives should attempt what I told you I would not undertake at that time with fewer than 2000 soldiers, if you did not really believe that they would succeed. As to Mr. Mantell, he appears to me an excitable person, entirely devoid of common sense, and I shall pay no attention whatever in future to his opinions."
A few days afterwards, however, he writes more soberly--
"The country north of Wanganui to the Patea cannot be subdued without taking possession of the Wereroa Pa; indeed, I believe that the capture of that position is all that is necessary to give us possession of the whole country between the Kai-Iwi and the Patea, for between the Waitotara and the Patea the country is perfectly open, and not likely to be defended. I wish, therefore, you would inform me whether you consider the immediate possession of the Waitotara block of such consequence that you wish me to attack the Wereroa Pa at once, notwithstanding the risk to which I have referred, or whether you wish me to continue my advance towards Taranaki."
The Governor answers--
"You have in your own correspondence answered the question whether or not I can wish you attack the Wereroa Pa at once. However necessary I might think the capture of the pa to be, to prevent wrong impressions in the native mind, or to attain the important objects, which you have pointed out in your letter of the 17th instant would follow from the capture of that pa, it is quite impossible for me to request you to attack it at once, when you have told me that you consider your force insufficient to attack so formidable a work, and that to enter upon this task you would require an available force of 2000 men; that the natives have rendered the pa so formidable a position, and have at the same time occupied it in such strength, that it could not be taken without serious loss, uncompensated by any corresponding loss on the side of the rebels, who could at any time escape into the bush with impunity. The other alternative presented to me, must, therefore, necessarily be the one that I choose, viz.--that you should continue your advance towards Taranaki, so far as the means at your disposal will admit."
The General now left the coast and retired to Auckland, without
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having attempted to take the pa. Then the controversy was renewed, the Governor writing on the 19th May--
"I have said that I have not taken so gloomy a view of the state of affairs as you appear to have recently done. I believe that large numbers of natives were prepared to submit to the Government. I think that they have in some measure been led to pause in this intention from what has taken place in regard to the Wereroa Pa, and the rumours which have for the last two months been circulated of trie intended withdrawal of the troops; but I still think much may shortly be done to bring about the submission of many of their leading men.
"My own view of the course which ought to be taken in the present circumstances of the country, is that a sufficient force should be collected with the least delay practicable, to take the Wereroa Pa in such a manner as, if possible, to secure a marked and decided success on our part; that the local government should then, occupying as it would an advantageous position, attempt to come to terms with the leading rebel chiefs, which I believe it could speedily do; and that then, as a consequence naturally and properly following the pacification of the country, the proposed reduction of the troops should be promptly carried out. The colony having in the interim made such arrangements as it thinks necessary for raising additional local forces to take the place of the troops which are to be sent home. In this way I think effect might safely be given to the instructions of Her Majesty's Government."
To this, General Cameron replies--
"In regard to your Excellency's proposal to collect, with as little delay as possible, a sufficient force to take the Wereroa Pa, I must inform your Excellency that I consider it impossible to take that position by any formal operation in such a manner as your Excellency wishes, viz., so as to secure a marked and decided success, inflicting a large loss on the enemy, and sustaining but a trifling loss ourselves. I believe that in any formal attack on this position (which, it must be remembered, cannot be surrounded, and from which the natives can effect their escape at any moment), our loss would most probably be heavier, much heavier, perhaps, than that of the enemy; and that, under such circumstances, the mere possession of the place would not be followed by the important advantages which it is your Excellency's desire to attain.
"On the contrary, it is possible that its capture, with a loss on our side exceeding that of the enemy, might have an injurious moral effect on the natives, and, instead of hastening their submission, encourage them in postponing it.
"It is, indeed, a matter of surprise to me, that any one with a knowledge or the country between Wanganui and Taranaki, can entertain a hope of striking a decisive blow there. The nature of the country forbids the idea, and if Her Majesty's troops are to be detained in the colony until one is struck, I confess I see no prospect of their leaving New Zealand."
"With reference to your remarks as to the expediency of now attacking the Wereroa Pa, I would observe that the numerous army which you state to be at present in the colony (and which, I may remark, is distributed in posts on lines amounting to some hundreds of miles in length, with the finest artillery in the world, and abundance of scientific appliances), is not wanted for such
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an operation as an attack on the Wereroa Pa; and were the army in the country much more numerous than it is, I should consider it unadvisable, at the present time, to assemble a large force for a formal attack on this position, by which there is, in my opinion, no reasonable grounds for expecting that the advantages your Excellency desires could be obtained. I stated my opinions fully on this subject in my last letter, and expressed my readiness to attack the position if, after the expression of those opinions, you thought proper to instruct me to undertake the operation.
"As your Excellency, however, still confines yourself to the expression of opinions in which I find it impossible to concur, and leaves the decision of the question to me, I must exercise my own judgment as to the time and manner of getting possession of the place; and I shall not allow myself to be influenced by remarks, however disparaging, to undertake an operation for the success of which I alone am responsible, in a manner which I do not fully approve.
"Under any circumstances, I consider that the capture of the Wereroa Pa, at the present moment, is not of sufficient importance to justify the detention of the whole force in the colony, after the instructions received from Her Majesty's Government."
As already stated, the issue of this correspondence was that Sir George Grey himself took the field, exposing himself to great danger, and with the colonial troops and native contingent, captured the pa. Some interesting facts in connection with this operation are given in the biographies of Colonel Rookes and Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell, who were in command of the attacking forces.
In the appendix to "Sir Gilbert Leigh," the author thus speaks of Sir George Grey, under the title of the Great Pro-Consul:--
Few English or American children have failed to hear of Sir George Grey. In the religious periodicals, in the stories of missionaries, both in New Zealand, South Africa, and the Islands of the South Pacific, that name continuously occurs. He was the friend of Ellis, the Madagascar Missionary; of Moffat and Livingstone of South Africa; and of Selwyn in New Zealand. In the colonial wars of the last thirty years, Sir George Grey continually appears. He was, as it were, born and bred for a soldier. His father, at Alexandria, first turned the tide of victory against the soldiers of the Republic, leading his regiment in a bayonet charge against the French. But Sir George Grey never saw that father, as Colonel Grey fell at the storming of Badajos, three days before his son was born.
"Sir George was educated at Sandhurst, but enjoyed through the days of his youth the teaching and guidance of Dr Whately, afterwards Archbishop of Dublin. Thus trained, the student also meets his name in the treasuries of art, science, and philosophy; yet few men are aware of his public labours, while still fewer attach to his life the notice which it merits. He started in the race with a definite purpose--that of opening a new future for Anglo-Saxondom in the boundless colonies of England. In those vast territories, washed by the waves of every sea, and canopied by every constellation, trusting to see communities arise free in the fullest sense--
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communities in which the facilities for success in life should be vastly increased, and where talent, virtue, and worth should have free play and a fair held; where the crowded hives of the United Kingdom, from the fields of Norfolk and Devonshire, from the hills of Scotland, and from the 'Green Isle of the West,' a continued exodus of the over-populated nation could wander forth to till the mighty solitudes, and gather the harvests of the world. With a prophetic eye he saw the continents and islands of distant seas peopled with settlers, rich and prosperous, virtuous and free, great and powerful.
"It was in this way he formed the lofty ideas which filled him with the future dominance of his kindred, and revealed to him their future destiny. As years rolled on, he saw them anchoring deeper and deeper in every quarter of the earth, claiming and holding nearly all the habitable globe, every sea whitened by the sails of their commerce, every land ringing with their tongue; and, judging from mortal arguments and human logic, he believed that eventually the united Anglo-Saxon power would be strong enough to quell, by its mere existence, all warlike opposition, and restrain mankind to decide their quarrels by a Congress of the Nations. He looked forward to times and states in which these nations should govern themselves by the most perfect and equal laws.
"He went to the colonies, therefore, as to a most delightful field of labour, and undertook the duties of a Colonial Governorship as a congenial task, firmly believing that directly a nation ceased to grow and expand it began to decay.
"Sir George Grey had been appointed Governor of the Cape of Good Hope two or three years before the Indian Mutiny, and after the campaign in which General Cathcart had done so much to destroy the Kaffir power, there still continued a series of alarms and outbreaks, occasioned by certain Hottentot troops, who, having been disbanded, were receiving less pension than they had been led to expect. Sir George Grey, finding this to be correct, issued a proclamation, in the Queen's name, stating that the Hottentot forces should receive the same pension as their English comrades, and all arrears should be paid up, which settled the discontent then and there, as far as the Hottentots were concerned. This act made the War Office furious; but their fury was unavailing, as it was done beyond recall, in the Queen's name, and by the Queen's High Commissioner.
"A more terrible peril now menaced the Cape. The Governor learned that the Kaffir chiefs were leaguing together to invade the colony at various points. He also discovered that the chiefs had induced their people to destroy their own crops and cattle before starting, so that behind them was nothing but a barren desert, whereas before them lay the land of promise--the crops, bread, and cattle of the English, which they must either take or starve; and, as they numbered 200,000 strong, a most appalling tragedy was imminent.
"Sir George Grey at once proceeded to the Kaffir country, while
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General Michel, who commanded the British troops, had received orders to take up a certain series of positions along the frontier.
"As Sir George Grey was passing through Kaffraria, with about fifty men, he was aroused from his sleep one night by messengers from the General. The missive was evidently drawn out of a brave officer by the weight and extent of the danger which threatened his forces, and the community they had to guard, as he set out the perilous condition in which his army would be placed by continuing to hold so extended a position, which rendered his line liable to be attacked at an awful disadvantage. He then continued, that, having well considered the position, he had determined to draw back to another line of defence on the Fish River, which his troops could hold against all-comers. But Sir George Grey, knowing well that the first step of retreat, the first receding standard of an English regiment, would be a certain signal for the onslaught of an almost innumerable host, without a moment's hesitation sat up and wrote the answer. Acknowledging the receipt of the letter, and the force of the General's reasoning, he said, that in his own opinion it was absolutely necessary to hold the advanced line. He reminded the General, that by the Queen's High Commission, he was in supreme command, and stated the line must be held, even if it became necessary for him to remove General Michel, and place in command some officer who would do it.
"The next day brought back the General's reply. 'He would obey and do what man could, and Sir George Grey might depend upon it, that no man would carry out his orders with greater skill or determination.' Sir George consequently passed on, and saw the Kaffir chiefs, satisfying himself that the tidings were too true. He pointed out to them the fact that they were only injuring themselves, and committing veritable suicide; but his arguments were useless, as one of their prophetesses, a woman reputed amongst the Kaffirs, as knowing the mind of the Fates, had said that it was the will of the deities that this sacrifice should be made, and that in return they would obtain tenfold from the English, in the day of victory. So Sir George returned, but in doing so, struck an efficacious blow. By a clever combination of secret movements, skilfully executed, and with great daring, he captured all the principal chiefs, and thus broke the neck of the confederacy, for now, the Kaffirs having destroyed their crops and cattle, had no one to lead them, and the people began to starve. Pale death reigned there, in dreadful silence, 50,000 Kaffirs dying of starvation, so that their villages became vast charnel houses, and stank with unburied corpses. Then the wisdom and humanity of Sir George came into full play, for, as Governor, he dispatched relief parties far and wide, rescuing the remnants from destruction. 34,000 of them he brought to the Cape, and distributed them amongst the colonists as servants, for a specified time. The remainder he built villages for, and, providing food, implements, seed, etc., settled them in British Kaffraria. So the dreaded tempest passed away,
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and history affords few parallels to these circumstances, and to the wisdom, determination, and mercy which marked the whole proceedings of the great Pro-Consul in this matter.
"In 1857, while Governor of the Cape Colony, he was called upon by Lord Elphinstone, then Governor of Bombay, to assist in the defence of the British Empire in India, and it so happened that just at this time a part of Lord Elgin's army, on their way to Canton to punish the Chinese, touched at Cape Town. These, Sir George Grey, on his own authority, directed to Calcutta, two days only after receiving Lord Elphinstone's letters, together with a part of the Artillery stationed there, fully horsed, and transmitted from the Cape Treasury £ 60,000 in specie; continuing to forward both men and horses. Knowing the Cavalry and Artillery must be supplied, he dismounted his own Cavalry and Artillery, even taking the horses from his own carriage, to keep up the supply. Vast stores of food for men and horses he also provided, and sent on with a quantity of ammunition. All this Sir George Grey did without any authority from the Imperial Government, and so quickly that the troops which enabled Lord Elphinstone to hold the mutineers in check at Bombay, and Sir Colin Campbell to relieve Lucknow, on the 17th November, 1857, were largely drawn from the forces sent by Sir George from the Cape.
"Yet all this time the great Pro-Consul was training a mixed community of Dutch, English, and natives to use the forms and substance of free representative political institutions, and laying the broad foundation of a great nation; while at the same time, he was contending and struggling against Downing Street, which did its best to hamper him in his great work.
"To sit down calmly and read the official correspondence is enough to make a man's cheeks glow with surprise and indignation. As I write, with the papers spread out before me, I wonder at the perverseness of the swiftly changing Secretaries of State, and with the patience with which Sir George marched on--not to fame, emolument, or distinction, but what is infinitely nobler, to the accomplishment of a great purpose--that of preserving peace and good government at home, and, at the same time, giving all possible assistance to Canning and Elphinstone in their tremendous conflict in the East.
"In one despatch Lord Stanley tells the Governor that the Parliamentary annual grant for 1858, for British Kaffraria, would be reduced from £40,000 to £20,000. Now British Kaffraria was a portion of the British Empire, in it 50,000 people, subjects of the Queen, were almost on the point of starvation. The cost of civil government, gaols, police, hospitals, justice, education, etc., demanded the whole of this £40,000, and yet, when half of the year was gone, during which the expenditure had been on the same scale as formerly, the High Commissioner is told, without warning, that only half the former amount will be given. At that time, owing to the judicious management of Sir George Grey, all affairs of British Kaffraria had been brought to a peaceable
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condition, and most of the native inhabitants located in regular villages, and another two or three years would have seen a great amount of prosperity; but had this reduction been carried out, all things would again have been thrown into confusion, and a fierce and bloody Kaffir war must have resulted. The authority of the Governor and High Commissioner would have been weakened. Deep offence would have been given in many dangerous quarters. Many of the most useful departments of Government would have been crippled or forsaken, and the common instincts of humanity outraged by the abandonment of thousands of starving Kaffirs to a miserable death. Meanwhile the 34,000 Kaffirs employed at the Cape would have filled the whole colony with bloodshed and destruction. Nor must it be forgotten by the public, although it seemed altogether forgotten by the Government, that Sir George Grey had, by the time the despatch reached the Cape, well nigh stripped South Africa of troops to send to India, 5000 veteran troops, with about 3000 horses and nearly all the Royal Artillery stationed at the Cape, having been sent on, while it was well known that some of the Kaffir chiefs, pretending to sympathise with the Sepoys, were intriguing against the English power. So Sir George Grey at once paid into the public account of British Kaffraria the sum of £6000 of his own private money. Then using as much economy as was consistent with safety, he carried on the government of British Kaffraria partly out of his own pocket.
"It is to be hoped that the British Government will never again place itself in the humiliating position which it then occupied. The most powerful and incomparably the most wealthy empire the world has seen was indebted to the private moneys of its servant for the lives and safety of tens of thousands of its subjects; on the other hand, long may the British people possess servants so true-hearted as to offer of their own for the public safety. It is satisfactory to know that the Imperial Government, after some considerable time, repaid this money to Sir George Grey, much to the credit of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton.
"It was about this time that, stung by the continued and unmerited censures heaped upon him by the War Office, he wrote to Downing Street thus:--
"'If virtual censures are continually recorded against me by one department of the State when I am right, what hope is there for me if, in the difficulties with which I am daily beset, I commit some error? And how can those who are not acquainted with the real state of the case think otherwise, even when I am right, but that I must have acted wrongly to be so censured?'
"In 1858-59 Sir George Grey, in accordance with the evident desire of the Home Government, invited the different legislatures in South Africa to express their willingness or objection to bring about a federation of all the States, which they were unanimous in wishing him to do. For this, in conjunction with the German immigration and his management of British Kaffraria, he was in 1859 recalled,--in effect dismissed from Her Majesty's service. This confederation
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in itself was the wisest step possible in relation to South Africa, and would have made those colonies and states a great and powerful confederation. The everlasting wisdom of Downing Street, however, thought otherwise, and he was harshly recalled. He broke up his establishments, suffered all the loss of such a step, and went home to find some in England who thought he was not deserving of censure. Among these were Her Most Gracious Majesty and the Prince Consort. When the steamer reached England, the first person whom Sir George Grey saw was a Times reporter. The ex-Governor asked the gentleman if he could tell him who had been appointed as the new Governor of the Cape.
"'Oh,' said the reporter, 'there has been a fuss over that matter. There has been a change of Ministry, no new Governor has been sent up, Sir George Grey has been re-appointed, and a steamer has been despatched to stop him from coming home.'
"This was so far satisfactory, as while straining every nerve to aid in the suppression of the Indian mutiny he was by the Minister of the day misunderstood and misrepresented, he was gladdened and supported by the love of the people whom he governed, and by the generous gratitude which Canning and Elphinstone, with their councils, expressed for the wise and noble assistance he was continually affording them in the great crisis. Yet no adequate public recognition of his services had been made. Indeed, when we remember that he was almost always at war with the Colonial and War Offices, this is not wonderful.
"The English Government, some time before Sir George Grey became Governor of the Cape, had abandoned to their fate certain portions of South Africa and the communities therein living. This, we suppose, was the first step in the plan so favourably regarded by some modern politicians known as 'Economists,' of dismembering the Empire and allowing the colonies to shift for themselves. One of the said communities erected itself into a Republic by the name of the Orange Free State, and the Colonial Office made a species of treaty with this State, allowing it, in case of war with the native tribes, to purchase all munitions of war in the British colonies, and at the same time bound the English people and Government not to sell or allow its people to sell any such to the natives.
"In 1857 a desperate and sanguinary war broke out between the Orange Free State and the Basutos, a powerful native tribe, under the chief Moshesh. At first the Free State gained ground, having such facilities for getting arms and ammunition, but ultimately the natives obtained the upper hand. While, therefore, Sir George was denuding South Africa of English troops, there was a constant danger upon the frontier of a war arising with the Basutos and other tribes, who bitterly resented the treaty which compelled us to sell powder, arms, and bullets to the Free State men, and made us deny the same to them. At the very height of this savage and bloodthirsty conflict, Sir George assumed the position of mediator, and so well was he loved and trusted, that he succeeded in averting all fear of an expensive and dangerous war, and in restoring perfect
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and complete peace between the contending parties, a peace so complete that he was enabled to send off, at once, 3000 more men to India, out of the 5000 then remaining in the colony.
"Yet, for all this he was severely reproved by the home authorities, and his accounts disallowed. Again, he had hardly received the despatches thus condemning him, when there appeared in the public press of the colony, letters which showed that some person in authority at home had communicated their contents to persons in South Africa, for the communications published in the colony stated that Sir George Grey's Kaffir policy was viewed so unfavourably by the Ministry at home, that he would be obliged to resign his commission and retire. Sir George, being at this time well nigh overwhelmed with toil and anxiety--anxious as he was to serve his country, yet possessed of a proud sensitiveness which was keenly touched by the idea so publicly set forth as to his probable conduct--wrote thus to Lord Stanley, then Secretary of State for the Colonies:--
CAPE TOWN, 23rd June, 1858.
"'My Lord,--In reference to some of the despatches which I have recently received, and which it appears to be thought here, and which (as you will find from my despatch No. 91) it is stated here, it was believed in England when they were written to me, were of such a nature that they would render it imperative on me to resign my office, I think it right to state that my life has been one of such constant active duty in remote parts of the world, and I have been so little mixed up in ordinary political affairs, that I am quite ignorant of what may be the conventional rules amongst public men on such subjects.
"'I simply believe, in so far as your Lordship is concerned, that if you thought it would be for the advantage of the public service that I should vacate my office, you would, in a very straightforward, although courteous manner, tell me so.
"'Yet, lest I should be violating any conventional rules which I do not understand, I beg to tell your Lordship that nothing but a sense of duty has made me hold my present office so long as I have done. My life is one of ceaseless toil and anxiety--of long separation from much which makes life valuable to man. I have only remained here because I thought I was useful to Her Majesty and to my country, from an attachment I feel for any duty which I am set to do, and from a personal regard to the very great number of persons in the colony who have helped me in my many difficulties. But when it is thought to be for the advantage of the public service to send me back to private life, I shall cheerfully and gladly make way for my successor.
"'If, therefore, Her Majesty's Government desire to remove me, the slightest intimation to that effect from your Lordship shall lead to my immediate retirement.--I have the honour to be, your Lordship's most humble servant,
"On another occasion, when he was severely galled by one of these despatches, he wrote to Downing Street:--
"I am here beset by cares and difficulties which occupy my mind incessantly and wear out my health. I feel I have conducted Her Majesty's affairs for the advantage of her service and the welfare of her subjects whose love, gratitude, and loyalty I have secured for the Queen, and I certainly feel it hard that the reward I should receive should be to have my spirits broken by
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accounts which I feel are entitled to the approval of Her Majesty's Government, disallowed, thus throwing me into new difficulties, and that this should be done in the uncourteous manner it is and in letters which as an old and loyal Government servant sorely wound my feelings is still worse."
"This was in relation to the non-payment for 2000 pairs of boots used for the German Legion, which force was clearly entitled to them.
"When will the farce of attempting to govern the colonies from the Home Office by men who cannot know anything of the colonies or of the people dwelling in them be played out?
"Here was a man governing a great satrapy or consulate with wonderful ability and patience, healing the wounds left by long years of war, mediating between fierce and hostile nations, tiding quietly over a tremendous crisis, inaugurating a system of free government, caring for the wants of his people down even to the desires of the meanest peasant, rectifying the mistakes of his predecessors, and amid all this, sending well nigh 10,000 veteran troops in strength and efficiency to aid the Empire in India, taking upon himself a responsibility so vast that if it had been unwisely or improperly taken, or if one single step had miscarried, it would have brought upon him ruin utter and absolute. Yet we see him in the midst of these congregated cares and perils suggesting to the Ministry at home new schemes for the welfare of the people and the glory of the Queen's Empire, fostering science, aiding religion, promoting education, art and settlement, binding the affections of the community to the Queen, and so ruling that the people refused absolutely to take the power from his hands and rule themselves. With one Minister he was strongly at variance in relation to the federation of the colonies of the South African Group. With a wise forethought he saw that all the colonies belonging to Great Britain in South Africa, together with the free territories upon our border, should be, before the safety and true greatness of that country were accomplished, drawn together into a federal union, which would give them unity of council and strength, unity of wealth and all resources. In a word, he in 1859 desired to accomplish what in 1875 the British Government sent Mr. Froude to the Cape to attempt. For this he was recalled in disgrace, but subsequently, when the Duke of Newcastle became Secretary for the Colonies, reinstated in his command, and it is, to say the least, wonderful that the same minister (Lord Carnarvon) who was so strongly averse to federation in 1859 should be the Colonial Minister who tried to achieve it in 1875.
"Sir George Grey was essentially a man of original ideas and determination. When a great crisis arose the Ministry sent him to the spot confident in his powers although the very exercise of that power alarmed them. When Colonel Gawler, the Governor of Adelaide, got into a mess the Ministry sent Sir George Grey to Adelaide and he soon settled matters. Then when Governor Fitzroy had embroiled the Government of New Zealand with the Maoris Captain Grey was sent there and succeeded. Then affairs
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at the Cape of Good Hope brought upon England a disastrous Kaffir War, Sir George Grey was sent there again to be successful, and there it was that the Indian Mutiny found him. It is questionable whether another man could have been found in the Queen's dominions to do the work done by him as well or as surely as he did it. Swift to read the signs of the times, fruitful in expedients to achieve victory and to avert defeat, wielding marvellous influence over the minds of those, whether civilised or barbarian, with whom he came in contact, Sir George Grey took steps which surprised and discomfited both the officials in Downing Street and at the War Office in Pall Mall. They were willing enough to accept the happy results, but they grumbled and chafed at the means by which those results were obtained."
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SIR T. GORE BROWNE.
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SIR THOMAS GORE BROWNE.
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SIR T. GORE BROWNE.
Incidents of the Afghan War--Appointment as Governor of New Zealand--Origin of the war--History of the Waitara land purchase--The discovery and early settlement of Taranaki--Governor Browne's firmness with the natives--The rival claimants, William King and Te Teira-- Dilatory action of Imperial troops.
COLONEL SIR THOMAS GORE BROWNE, K.C.M.G., son of Robert Browne, Esq., of Morton House, Buckinghamshire, and brother of the Bishop of Winchester, was born in 1807. He entered the army when very young, and served many years in the 28th Regiment; acted as Aide-de-Camp to Lord Nugent, Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands, and was for some time Colonial Secretary. In 1836 Major Gore Browne exchanged into the 41st Regiment, and was engaged in the occupation of Afghanistan. After the massacre of our troops at the Khyber Pass the 41st joined General England, and advanced to the rescue of General Nott and his troops. At this time Major Browne held the command of his regiment, and was also in command of the reserve at the disastrous battle of Hykulzie, where by forming his men into a square, when the van of the army had been broken, he was enabled to repulse the enemy and cover the retreat. He held command of the regiment also at the battles of Candahar, Ghuznee, Cabul, and during the march through the Khyber Pass, where he commanded the rear, as he did also under General McGaskett at the storming of the Nik Fort at Issaliff--the most daring action during the war. Major Gore Browne's gallantry and humanity were praised in the General's despatches, which were quoted in both Houses of Parliament, and for his services he obtained a lieutenant-colonelcy and was made a C.B. On his return with his regiment from India he exchanged into the 21st, which he commanded until made Governor of St. Helena in 1851. From St. Helena he was promoted to the Governorship of New Zealand, and in 1861, having completed his term of office, he took the place of Sir Henry Young as Governor of Tasmania; on resigning this last-mentioned appointment in January, 1869, he was created a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, and appointed Governor of Bermuda.
It was in the month of September, 1855, that Colonel Gore
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Browne succeeded Sir George Grey as Governor of New Zealand, Sir George having left to assume the direction of affairs at the Cape. I was residing at Taranaki at the time of the new Governor's first visit to that part of the colony, and from the unassuming and unostentatious manner of the Colonel's landing, he had nearly passed through the guard of honour drawn up to receive him before the settlers were aware of his presence. He was a soldier in every sense of the word, a man of prompt and decided action, and not easily turned from the strict path of duty by any fear of consequences. He was the first and only Governor who treated the natives in a blunt John Bull manner, a treatment which the Maoris, having hitherto been used to the flour-and-sugar policy, could not for a time understand. His policy began by impressing on the natives that his word was law; that he was here to dispense justice and defend the rights of Her Majesty, as well as to listen to and redress Maori grievances, and, as there was but one law for the two races, he would, in obedience to that law, respect and defend the individual rights of any native having land of his own and willing to sell. This declaration fell like a bombshell into the camp of the Maori King Land League, and caused the new Governor many enemies, not only amongst those who had hitherto existed on the peace-at-any-price policy, but also of many missionaries, who could see nothing wrong or extravagant in anything the natives did or demanded, and who were mainly instrumental in delaying, if not in preventing, the settlement of the great question at issue between the two races, viz., who were to be the future masters of New Zealand, for it was soon evident to Colonel Gore Browne that the policy hitherto pursued had not only lost us the prestige usually accorded to Englishmen, but had gained us the contempt of the whole Maori race, as up to this time they had actually dictated to the Government, bouncing them with the most extravagant demands, and defying the law whenever it suited them, and were supported in their rebellion by those who should have known better. To these false sympathisers may be attributed most of the troubles that have befallen the natives.
The new Governor's first attention was directed to the land question, the source and origin of all disputes in a new colony, particularly when the sovereignty of the same is vested in the hands of the natives, for they never will understand that land is of little or no value until rendered so either by population or cultivation, by labour bestowed upon it, or by roads made towards it, and it is only when so improved that, jealous of its increased value, they become dissatisfied, and, setting up some frivolous excuse, either demand the land back again or double the amount already paid for it. Many a settler who, by the labour of his hands, has carved from the wilderness a really comfortable homestead, sooner than leave it has, for the mere sake of peace, submitted to be robbed times out of number. This was the case of the Waitara settlers, who were dispossessed of their farms after a long occupation, the Government, to save a conflict, giving way, and
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removing the settlers to the site of the present township of New Plymouth. The dispute over this block was the legacy left by his predecessors to Colonel Gore Browne, to be fought out between the two races, and his determination to master the difficulty, by taking forcible possession of the land he had purchased, was not only endorsed by the authorities, but fully approved of by the settlers generally.
Taranaki, the seat of the war, takes its name from the lofty, snow-clad mountain, called by us Egmont, and by the natives Taranaki. The first European who beheld Taranaki was the Dutch navigator, Tasman, in December, 1642, and on the 10th January, 1772, Captain Cook sighted Mount Egmont, just one month before the French navigator, M. Marion du Fresne, made the land. From that time to 1839 Taranaki was only visited by whalers. In 1839 a company was formed in England, called the Plymouth Company, to establish a colony in New Zealand, and this company invested, £10,000 in the purchase of 50,000 acres from the New Zealand Company at the Waitara, Colonel Wakefield acting as agent for them in negotiating the purchase. He first arranged for the purchase with the fugitives residing on the shores of Cook's Straits, who had been driven from off the lands in question, and were afraid to return. About the end of the same year, the company's naturalist, Ernst Dieffenbach, found a handful of wretched natives living at Taranaki, on obscure plantations, hidden deep in the recesses of the forest, and succeeded in purchasing their right to the soil. After this, the head chief of Waikato who had conquered these tribes, sent a subordinate named Te Kaka, with 200 men, to demand payment for the Waitara land, it being his by conquest, and to satisfy him Governor Hobson gave him, £150 in cash, two horses and saddles, two bridles, and 100 red blankets, and further, entered into an agreement, that for the future one-tenth of the land purchased should be reserved to the natives, and so as to expedite their civilization, these reserves should be in the midst of the lands selected by the Europeans. Consequently, a village was soon formed about eight miles from the present township of Taranaki, on a beautiful and level tract of land on the banks of the Waitara, and the settlers had hardly taken possession of the dwellings they had erected, when a number of returned slaves, the original owners of the district, who had been set at liberty through the influence of the Rev. John Whiteley, became in their turn most insolent and tyrannical, demanding the land back again. And to settle this question, the Home Government sent out a Commissioner, by the name of Spain, who having heard all the pros and cons, gave his decision against the returned slaves, and confirmed the purchase; but as this decision rather increased the feeling of discontent, Governor Fitzroy, to avert unpleasantness, reversed the award of the Imperial Commissioner, declared the settlers trespassers, and abandoned the settlement (already twice purchased) to the returned slaves, with this proviso, that the dispossessed settlers should
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re-enter on their original selections whenever the native title should be extinguished. It was this imprudent act of Governor Fitzroy that first gave the natives a knowledge of their power over us, which they never forgot from that moment to exercise, and laid the foundation of a future war of races, which was staved off from year to year only by expensive gifts and repeated acts of humiliation on the part of the Government up to the arrival of Governor Browne. It was also a death-blow to the new settlement, inasmuch as many emigrants immediately left for Australia, others were induced by the Government to go up to Auckland and work a newly-discovered copper and manganese mine, while those who remained were compelled to go into the heavily-timbered land at Taranaki and hew out for themselves farms with the axe.
The new Governor had hardly set his foot in Taranaki before a deputation of the settlers waited upon him to describe the straits they were in ever since their removal from the banks of the Waitara on to a block of land far from sufficient in area to give to each sufficient acreage, with all their ingenuity, to carry their increase, while all around them were millions of acres of wild, uncultivated land lying idle, belonging to natives, who refused to cultivate it themselves, or dispose of it to those who would, the Taranaki tribes having joined the Land League initiated (through the suggestions of the pakeha-Maori) by the so-called Maori King, to put a stop to any further sale of land to the Government of the country. These representations it was that caused the Governor to take the first step towards counteracting and breaking up this compact, by declaring, at his first interview with the natives, that, for the future, it was his intention that if any native had land, of which he could give an undisputed title, and was willing to sell, he would respect such a one's wish, and make good his purchase; inasmuch as he would not allow any third person to interfere or forbid the sale of land he had no real interest in. On hearing this, a native by the name of Teira immediately arose and offered to the Governor a small block, belonging to himself and friends, at the Waitara, and asked him if he would purchase it. The Governor replied, "Yes, if you can show you are really the owners; but I will have nothing to do with any land where any of the parties interested are unwilling to sell. I do not wish anyone to sell against his will." This was the death-blow to the League, and William King as chief, saw that his only chance lay in his disputing Teira's right to sell, in which step he would be supported by all the King natives, and the League in every part of the island; for on the question being put to William King, "Is the land in question Teira's?" he, before a large assembly of pakehas and Maoris, replied, "Yes, the land belongs to Teira, but I, as chief, will not allow him to sell it." Notwithstanding this reply of William King, the Governor, to be further satisfied that Teira's title was good, took the greatest trouble to ascertain, by referring the question to the Chief Land Purchase Commissioners, Mr. McLean, Mr. Parris, and Mr.
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Stephenson Smith, for their report thereon, before he would entertain the purchase, as the following memorandum will show:--
[MEMORANDUM BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR.]
"Government House, 20th July, 1860.
"In order to complete the documents about to be printed for both Houses of Assembly, the Governor requests the Chief Land Purchase Commissioner to answer the following questions:--
"First: Had Tamata Rara, Rawiri Rauponga, and their people such a title to the block of land recently purchased at the Waitara as justified them in selling it to the Queen?
"Secondly: Had William King any right to interfere to prevent the sale of the above block of land at the Waitara to the Queen?"
[CHIEF LAND PURCHASE COMMISSIONER'S REPLY.]
"AUCKLAND, 23rd July, 1860.
"SIR,--In reply to your Excellency's memorandum of the 20th inst., I have the honour to state, with reference to the first-mentioned question, that I believe the above-mentioned chiefs, conjointly with others at the South, associated with them in the sale, had an undoubted right of disposal to the land in question. With reference to the second inquiry, William King's question of title has been carefully investigated. All the evidence that has come before me, including William King's own testimony, that the land belonged to the above parties, goes to prove that he had no right to interfere; the interference assumed by him has been obviously based upon opposition to land sales in the Taranaki province generally as a prominent member of an anti-land-selling league.--I have, etc.,
"Chief Land Purchasing Commissioner.
"To His Excellency
"Colonel GORE BROWNE, C.B., etc."
Mr. Parris' answer was equally condemnatory of William King's action in trying to stop the sale.
So anxious was the Governor to get at every information on the subject from both sides that he allowed nine months to elapse before he was completely satisfied, and paid over the deposit, he having during this time obtained the opinion of all those who were competent to judge on Maori matters, and who all declared Teira's title good. William King, in the meantime, had not been idle. He knew full well that if he once allowed the purchase of Teira's land to go unchallenged, all the resolutions of the Land League were useless; consequently he fought for the mana--the right of a chief to control his tribe and keep them slaves to his will--which Teira naturally objected to, and the Governor would not sanction while one law existed for both races. During the time the purchase was under consideration, Teira's party got tired of waiting, and wrote the following curious letter, showing the figurative language of the Maoris in their communications:--
"WAITOKI, 19th January, 1860.
"Go this loving letter to Governor Browne and to Mr. Smith. Friends, salutations to you. This is our word to you. Hearken. Why do you delay?
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You say that Mr. Parris has the arrangement of the matter. Mr. Parris says that it lies with the Governor to consummate our marriage with the beautiful woman, Waitara--with the land which we have given up to you. Give your consent at my request. You said that it was deceit on my part. Agree that Mr Parris shall complete it; do not delay the matter. If you are willing to do so, write to me; and if you are not, write to me. Write speedily, that it may come straight to your children who are residing with Mr. Parris. We are sad because of our marriage with this woman being deferred so long. This woman that we gave to you in the face of day is now lying cold. You had better turn her towards you and warm her, that she may sleep comfortably in the middle of the bed. Come also yourself, that I may know your intentions, and that you may hear my word to you. Come my father the Governor. This is our letter to you.
"From TE TEIRA, HEMI, TAMATI, WETERINI, ERUERA, PARANIHI,
"TE RETIMANA, RAWHIRI, MATIU, HORI.
"To His Excellency GOVERNOR BROWNE, Auckland."
On Thursday, March 1st, 1860, the Airedale arrived from Auckland with Governor Browne and suite, accompanied by Colonel Gold, an extensive military staff, and 200 rank and file of the 65th. The same day Her Majesty's steamship Niger dropped her anchor in the roadstead. The first step of the Governor was to issue the following proclamation in Maori, a translation of which is given in full, as it tends to explain both the origin and justness of the war:--
1. When the Pakehas first came to Taranaki there were no natives at the Waitara. The Ngatiawa had been dispossessed by the Waikato. 2. The Waikato transferred their rights to the Government and received a payment for the land. 3. Afterwards the Ngatiawa returned and occupied the land: the Government acquiesced in this occupation. 4. In March, 1859, some of these occupants, Te Teira and others, openly offered to sell to the Government their claims to a portion of the land at the Waitara. 5. William King opposed this offer, and said that no land at the Waitara should be sold. But the 'mana' of the land was not with William King, and he had no right to forbid the sale of any land which did not belong to him personally. 6. The Queen has said that all the natives shall be free to sell their lands to her, or to keep them--as they may think best. None may compel the Maori people to sell their lands, nor may any forbid their doing so. 7. William King sets his word above the Queen's, and says, though the rightful owners of the land may wish to sell, he will not allow them to do so. 8. The Governor cannot allow William King's word to set aside the words of the Queen. 9. The Governor has said that he will not allow land to be bought, the title to which is disputed. He has also said that he will not allow interference with the rightful owners in the sale of their lands. When land is offered, the title to which is clear, the Governor will use his own discretion in accepting or declining the offer. 10. The Governor accepted Te Teira's offer conditionally on its being shown that he had an indisputable title. 11. Te Teira's title has been carefully investigated and found to be good. It is not disputed by any one. The Governor cannot, therefore, allow William King to interfere with Te Teira in the sale of his own land. 12. Payment for the land has been received by Te Teira. It now belongs to the Queen. 13. William King has interfered to prevent the survey
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of the Queen's land by her own surveyors. This interference will not be permitted. 14. The Governor has given his word to Te Teira and he will not go back from it. The land has been bought and must be surveyed. The Queen's soldiers will protect the surveyors. If William King interferes again and mischief follow, the evil will be of his own seeking. 15. The Governor desires peace. It depends upon William King whether there shall be peace or not. If he ceases to interfere with what is not his own he will be treated as a friend, and there will be peace.
Closely following this, a meeting took place between the Maoris and the Governor, who after stating how anxious he was to see the natives become a happy and civilised people, told them boldly and determinedly that had he been in New Zealand when Katatore slew Rawiri, he would have had him arrested and brought before the judge, and, if the judge had sentenced him to be hanged, he would have caused him to be hanged. The Governor also stated that the Maoris would be wise to sell the land they could not use themselves, as it would make what they could use more valuable than the whole.
Governor Browne, seeing that the undecided and pusillanimous manner with which Government had hitherto met these difficulties had done much towards giving the Maoris an exaggerated confidence of their own prowess, gave instructions over and over again, in the early days of the rebellion, to officers commanding troops, to show the natives, by a decided demonstration, our superiority in arms, so as to convince them how futile it would be to attempt to compete with us and hope for success. Had the Governor's wishes been met, there is every reason to believe that the rebellion might have soon ended in a confirmed peace throughout the island. Instead of which, no one who has made himself acquainted with the proceedings of the Imperial forces in the conflict, but must see that in no one instance was an advantage gained that was followed up. At the very commencement of hostilities we allowed an inferior number of savages to evince their superiority in strategy, by escaping from their besieged pa, on an open flat, in the face of a very superior European force. After the Battle of Waireka, the beaten rebels were permitted, unmolested, to retire to their own country laden with plunder. The same at Kaihihi, and Mahoetahi, and in no instance were the beaten Maoris, by judicious and rapid movements on our part, prevented from occupying fresh, and in many cases, more advantageous positions. This it was that gave the Maoris such false hopes, and which tended to prolong the war for so many years.
The war, in consequence of the increasing disaffection of the natives, extended throughout the North Island, and on the termination of Colonel Gore Browne's term of office the Home Government recalled him, and re-established Sir George Grey as Governor, hoping that his previous knowledge and influence among the Maori chiefs would assist him in putting down the rebellion. News having reached the colony of the appointment of Sir George Grey as successor to Colonel Gore Browne in the Governorship of
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New Zealand, a valedictory address was presented to the retiring Governor, signed by the entire male adult population of Taranaki. Sir George Grey arrived in Auckland, from the Cape of Good Hope, on the 26th of September, and was welcomed on shore by Colonel Gore Browne, and on the 1st of October, Colonel Browne and family left Auckland, for Sydney, in the Henry Fernie, amidst the warmest expressions of respect and esteem from the inhabitants.
TROOPER A. RODRIQUEZ.
A brave Foreigner.
ANTONIO RODRIQUEZ was one of the earliest settlers at Taranaki, and was suddenly called upon to defend his life and property from the assaults of the disaffected natives of the district. He joined the mounted force under Captain Mace, and did such good service all through the war that he was recommended for and received the New Zealand Cross for noble and daring conduct in assisting and carrying wounded men from the field, under fire, on several occasions, notably on the 2nd October, 1863, at Poutoko, and 11th March, 1864, at Kaitaki, upon which latter occasion he was particularly mentioned in garrison orders after the engagement. Rodriquez's conduct was repeatedly mentioned by Colonel Warre and other officers in their despatches.
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His life as a bush settler--Growth of Maori discontent--Company of Bush Rangers formed--A series of spirited engagements--A devoted and brave company--Political success.
MAJOR ATKINSON and his brother (the late Decimus Atkinson) arrived in the colony about the year 1855, and settled down at Taranaki, where they purchased a quantity of bush land, and set to work with a will to carve out of the forests of New Zealand their future homesteads. Prior to their arrival some uncertainty existed as to the peaceful character of the natives of the district. Their constant demands on the Government, and the visible change in their behaviour towards the pakeha, induced the settlers to accept the offer of an old Indian officer (Major Lloyd) to give them lessons in drill, so that, in case of an outbreak, they might be able to work together, under their officers, for the protection of their wives and children. Major Lloyd constantly warned the young men to miss no opportunity, but to learn all they could, and as quick as they could, as the question of supremacy might arise at any moment, and would have to be fought out before any lasting peace could be established.
On my arrival in 1850, and for a few years afterwards, the natives of the Taranaki district were the best behaved and the most civilized of the North Island, vieing with each other as to who should possess the best farm implements, the best bullocks and carts; bringing in every Saturday (the market day) their produce, and laying out the proceeds in European clothing and provisions. But at last, quarrelling among themselves over the boundary of land claimed by one of their most influential men, a native magistrate named Rawiri, they shot him down. From that moment all was changed; the European clothing was discarded for the blanket, and the farm implements were seized and burnt. Although the settlers were not mixed up with these disputes at first, they were gradually drawn in by their sympathies.
When the war began in earnest, the colonists of Taranaki found the value of the drill they had received, and, having something to fight for, were always to be found where danger threatened. Amongst the foremost of these was Major Atkinson. The young men of the district were as thoroughly used to bush life, and as much at home in the forests of New Zealand as the natives
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themselves. Forming themselves into a company of bushrangers, they chose Mr. Atkinson as their captain. It was this sort of lighting the Imperial British soldier dreaded--a guerilla warfare in every sense of the word--which the newly-arrived regular was neither fitted for either in dress, nor in the way he was armed.
The first action fought by the colonial troops was at Waireka, on the 28th March, 1860, where their behaviour elicited the admiration of the whole colony, being the first under fire, and the last to leave the held. After this, Major Atkinson was present at the taking of several pas at Kaihihi in October, 1860; the battle of Mahoetahi, on November 6th of the same year; and the battle of Matarikoriko, in the following month. He also assisted in the capture of Kaitake, on the 24th March, 1864; the several skirmishes at Sentry Hill; the recovery of the wounded and killed at Ahu-Ahu, after the defeat of the Imperial troops; the battle of Allen's Hill at Potokou; and the taking of the pas and strongholds at Manutahi and Mataitawa. Having 150 men under his command, who would follow him anywhere, his company were effectively employed in clearing the bush and district of rebel natives. For his gallant services in the field, he was promoted to the rank of major, was repeatedly mentioned in despatches, and on several occasions received the thanks of the Government of the day. Colonel Warre, in his despatches, said that Major Atkinson possessed the energy and perseverance requisite to make him a first-rate guerilla leader.
Major Atkinson was soon afterwards chosen to represent a Taranaki constituency in the House of Representatives, and on a change of Ministry taking place, he accepted the portfolio of Defence Minister; and eventually rose to the highest office in the public service--the Premiership of New Zealand. Whatever the Major undertook, he gave his whole attention to; and, although many may have differed with him in his politics, all must admit and admire his earnestness in promoting the welfare of the colony.