1841 - Franklin, Jane. Letter from Lady Franklin to Sir John Franklin. [Australian Historical Monographs New Series, Vol. 18, Part II, 1977] - Letter No. XXVII. Lady Franklin to Sir John Franklin

E N Z B       
       Home   |  Browse  |  Search  |  Variant Spellings  |  Links  |  EPUB Downloads
Feedback  |  Conditions of Use      
  1841 - Franklin, Jane. Letter from Lady Franklin to Sir John Franklin. [Australian Historical Monographs New Series, Vol. 18, Part II, 1977] - Letter No. XXVII. Lady Franklin to Sir John Franklin
Previous section | Next section      

No. XXVII. --Lady Franklin to Sir John Franklin.

[Image of page 5]

Some Private Correspondence of Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin.

No. XXVII. --Lady Franklin to Sir John Franklin.

Government House.
21st April, 1841.

I have had no opportunity of writing to you earlier, or at least none which appeared to me to promise a secure, or otherwise than a very circuitous and prolonged passage.

I believe Mr. Ellerman left behind at Port Nicholson a letter for Henry Kay 1 which, tho it was not then known when it was likely to be forwarded, may have reached you, and I trust will have done so before this. At the same time you may have received Port Nicholson papers, and if so, will have read the address which was presented to me and to which I returned a verbal answer. I have not seen this paper, and am therefore ignorant of what they made me say, except so far as Capt. Hobson from whom I learnt the fact itself has communicated to me my sayings. He merely told me however that he thought it a very neat speech, and a very proper one, like a good wife who preferred her husband's praises to her own. I was exceedingly vexed however to hear what he did not conceal from me, his impression that there was a latent intention in the address to institute or at least insinuate a contrast very unfavourable to himself between you and him, and he informed me that Mr. Murphy the Police Magistrate, at Port Nicholson, and consequently the first Government officer, had written to him to apologise or explain why he had not signed the address, and which was because he considered that some of the main promoters of it were those who had already endeavoured to get up a public meeting against His Excellency, and whose object was to shew how different, and how much worse a Governor he was than you. These were not Mr. Murphy's words but that was the plain meaning of Capt. Hobson's communication. I said that I had certainly been struck with the very eulogistic strain in which you were mentioned, and had even a purely selfish gratification, in this, because it turned away observation from myself, and that I had not been surprised at the omission of Mr. Murphy's name considering it might arise from the same cause as Col. Wakefield 2 alleged for declining to sign it, namely, that he was not a merchant, and could not well include himself under the general appelation of "others". With these two excep-

[Image of page 6]

tions the address contains the names of every respectable resident and perhaps some not so in Wellington or the neighbourhood.

Col. Wakefield in spite of his withdrawing himself from this public declaration, is suspected by the Hobsons' or Government party of being at the bottom of this address in all the fulness of its offensive meaning towards himself, of this I doubt. But I must acknowledge I could not make out whether he desired or not that the address should be presented to me. I read in the paper immediately after my landing at Port Nicholson that such a thing was in contemplation, and I then called his attention to it and expressed my hope that it was not true, and my desire to avoid it. Col. Wakefield then appeared to me to answer as if he was involved in it, and as if steps had already been taken and that it could not be averted. Hearing that an address was being prepared to present to me I said I hoped it was not so. But time passed on and I heard no more of it, and had quite persuaded myself that the threatened shower had passed over, the more so as I had begged Mr. Bagot, who was frightened to death at the idea of it to make known my feelings, when on the last day while at dinner, and within an hour of our embarkation, (in H. M. S. "Favourite") a rap came at the dining room door with a request to know when the deputation could be received. Col. Wakefield was about saying that it was so late that they could not be received at all, which appearing to me to be rather a rude message I corrected it in form tho' not in substance, by saying I was not prepared for the announcement and was under the necessity of going on board immediately.

There was then a proposal to send it after me, a proposal I could not endure and which on a former occasion I had resisted at Port Phillip, when it was proposed there to send the address after me to Government House at Sydney, but I suggested that if they would give me the address into my own hands or convey it on board, I would in two words thank them viva voce, for the honour they intended me and for the kind sentiments which I felt sure I should find in it, and which I should read as soon as we had embarked.

With this contrivance I was getting into the boat, and we were making off when Col. Wakefield who had taken leave of me, hurried back to say the Deputation would come off instantly in another boat to the ship to present the address. It was very rough weather and the Captain was very impatient, our own boat bobbed about so much that we had some difficulty in getting on board, and the deck was a scene of noise and bustle under orders to make sail. I went down into the cabin which was a heap of trunks, boxes, and bedding in the utmost confusion, rolling about and ourselves holding on. In

[Image of page 7]

this position, and expecting every instant to be under weigh, it was announced to me that the deputation had arrived and I was asked where I would receive them. I determined in the cabin, tho' there was no room as yet for them to stand, preferring this to the deck where the scene would have been a matter of amusement for all the officers. Two gentlemen whom I did not know, and whose names I am yet ignorant of, presented me with the parchment or rather requested first to be allowed to read it to me. I thought I was to have been spared this. However, it could not be helped, so all of us holding on by the table as well as we could, we listened to your praises, and then I made, I assure you a very pretty and ready reply, for I watched sharply what they said to me, and according to prescriptive rule slightly alluded to all, or most of it. There was nobody I cared about who was listening, and Mr. Bagot looked as gracious and happy as a Prince seeing as he did that I spoke for myself and that it was he who would have to speechify for me. Such is the history of the address which would only have been another somewhat ludicrous era in my mock royal annals if it had not been for the disagreeable latent meaning involved in the affairs in Capt. Hobson's apprehension and which I of course could not appreciate at the time nor in anyway forsee. I saw that Port Nicholson entertained a sense of injury and feeling of anger against Capt. Hobson on account of his having sent invitations, and even a vessel for the immigrant mechanics there, to take them to his new Capital but even this feeling was guardily expressed towards me, and I gathered more of their feeling towards Captain Hobson by the immeasured praises they bestowed upon you chiefly on account of your conduct about the Emigrants, and by the desire which was once unequivocally expressed to me, that you had been their Governor, than from any abuse I heard of their own. I was therefore able to say with truth to Capt. Hobson that I had not heard him spoken of disrespectfully at Port Nicholson, that indeed it was not likely I should since whatever they thought they must have been much wanting in good sense and good taste to have addressed disrespectful observations to me, who must be supposed naturally to have more fellow feeling and sympathy with the Governor than with any other portion of the Community. I acknowledged that I was struck by the tone in which they spoke of you in the address, and did not affect to deny that his interpretation of it might in some degree be correct but I observed that it was of course not possible for me to have anticipated the substance of the address, nor without assistance to have interpretated it otherwise than as a compliment to myself, and I assured him that I entirely approved of Mr. Murphy's conduct and more than that, that if I had had the slightest conception before hand that the

[Image of page 8]

address could have had any such design as he attributed to it, nothing would have induced me to receive it in any form. Capt. Hobson said that there I should have been wrong, that I could not help receiving it, let it have contained what it might, for of course I could not tell, and was not to suppose anything before hand. I insisted however that I might and would have resisted it, and thus ended our discussion, which I was very glad had taken place for I am persuaded a feeling so perfectly natural, and inevitable that I cannot blame it, had been previously existing in Captain and Mrs. Hobson's mind which was not at all favourable to me, and was very painful to me to be the object of.

The ill feeling existing between the people of this place 3 and Port Nicholson is very strong indeed, it is no doubt reciprocal, but it is much more strongly expressed here than it was there, for here the Company is treated as a set of cheats and land jobbers, tho' at the same time it is acknowledged that a great proportion of the settlers there are people of the first respectability. I made this observation to the people here, and it was not denied, neither did Capt, Hobson deny that Col. Wakefield the Chairman of the Company, was a very gentlemanly and very agreeable man, and had always behaved to him personally with the greatest respect.

But of course if he believes him also to be cunning and designing and vitually at the bottom of all the offensive things said and done against himself, these outward demonstrations must be of little avail. I am in hopes however, that things are in a train of accommodation and better feeling. Capt. H. is going almost immediately to Port Nicholson and now that he is sole and independent Governor, they will feel it their interest to support instead of abusing him.

I told Capt. Hobson that you had not given me any letter to Col. Wakefield (which I thought he would like to hear, since you had sent so flattering one to him) and that of course I could not but feel the more obliged by Col. Wakefield's kindness and attention to me in coming instantly on board the ship and offering me his house to live in. I think Captain Hobson was gratified to learn that you had not used the same means to recommend me to Col. W. as you had to himself, and he was also I have no doubt, gratified to find tho' he did not say so, that another statement which he informed me was made in the Port Nicholson paper, viz., that I had bought an extensive allotment there had no foundation in truth. I was vexed when I heard of this last assertion of the Port Nicholson paper not so much on Captain H's account as on yours, tho' I cannot believe that you would take for granted the truth of every statement of a self puffing newspaper, the more so as after the wish you had

[Image of page 9]

expressed to me that I should not be entering into any speculations there, you had every reason to refuse credence to it. I trust that this assertion of the newspapers is merely a haphazard invention of the Editor to puff his own place, for I should be sorry to think that Col. Wakefield with whom alone I had any conversation about the Company's lands, should be so ungentlemanly as to convey such a meaning to the newspaper.

I learnt from him that the 110,000 acres which have been confirmed to them at and around Port Nicholson are all taken up and that their next purchasers must take their land in another district their right to which is still in abeyance. Col. Wakefield told me that if I or anybody belonging to me wished to make any future purchase the best way to do it would be to purchase in London of the New Zealand Company and then send out here to an agent to select, and that he would be happy at any time to be of any service.

It would be making a very shabby use of this conversation to pervert it into a purchase or an order for land which I understand the paper said. (I have not seen the paper) and it has vexed me exceedingly because tho' I did not think you could believe it yet you would suppose other people might, for every assertion is good until it is contradicted.

But supposing it should be believed, there is no great harm in it that I am aware of, it would only shew that I am a lady of independent fortune and like to have an interest like many others in this new country. I will tell you presently the amount of all my transactions in this way, and then you will not be alarmed. In the meantime, I have felt great satisfaction in reflecting that if you did not know whether or not to believe this newspaper story, a reference to Mr. McLachlan 4 would have convinced you of its falsehood by proving that I drew no money at all at Port Nicholson, and brought away with me my order for £500. I did not in fact remember that I had such an order not being in want of money there, or rather I did not recollect that the order I had was on Port Nicholson Bank till I arrived at Auckland, and there found I had passed the place whence I could draw money.

To return to Port Nicholson and our voyage, we arrived there in ten days. I went on board a little disordered inside and my complaint increasing with the motion of the ship it turned into a species of slight dysentery which reduced me extremely so that the two first days after anchoring I was not well enough to land, and on the third when I did land I was not strong enough to walk from the beach to Col. W's house tho' only a few hundred yards but had to be carried. The complaint however, had left me, and during the few days I was on shore I recovered to the astonishment almost of Dr.

[Image of page 10]

Kilroy and everybody else. Col. Wakefield has a very comfortable house, he gave me a sitting room and two bed rooms for our exclusive use besides the free use of the dining room and of another private sitting room which had a fire place and within which he was content to lodge himself in a closet. He desired us to order whatever we pleased of his housekeeper and for the two first days he went out himself to dine at the club in order to be out of our way. Another day when he found I was better he had some people to meet me at dinner. There were Capt. and Mrs. Daniell of Cornwall who gave me a letter of introduction from my Aunt. They are highly respectable persons and have large property at Port Nicholson. They seem to be great friends of Col. Wakefield. Another day we went up the valley of the Hutt in a boat and lunched at Mrs. Molesworth. Upon the whole we were treated with every possible kindness and consideration.............

Col. W. told me of the very handsome manner in which you had replied (not personally, he said, but through your Colonial Secretary) to a letter he addressed to you about the emigrants. He told me he intended to visit V. D. L. and I expressed on the occasion all that gratitude and politeness required. We were very favourably impressed with the respectability of all the people we saw at Port Nicholson, of its elegibility as the site for the Capital. I do not feel very confident to speak but I am inclined to think Capt. Hobson has chosen the better place on account of there being so much more available land for building and cultivation than at Wellington, a few miles to the North. We staid nearly a week at Port Nicholson and sailed for Akaroa, where we found the Frenchman with ill disguised alarm making ready for battle, and it was nothing I think, but the fact of there being ladies on board which convinced him that our assurance of the continuance of peace was perfectly correct. We found Akaroa a most beautifully snug and picturesque harbour, but its banks are exceedingly mountainous and seem little adapted for a settlement of any importance. There are about 60 French and German emigrants there, men, women and children, all of the class of labourers, simple-minded, harmless individuals. There is also living there M. de Beligny, the Agent of the Bordeaux Company, which sent them out and who I am told is a very agreeable and gentlemanly person. Capt. Lavand is I think quite prepared to learn that this Company's claims will not stand against those of my other rival candidates, and he is fully aware that if they do the proprietors or occupants are subjects of the Queen of Great Britain.

I found Capt. Lavand all that Capt. Stanley had represented him to be, the most frank, honest-hearted Frenchman I ever met with. We liked Capt. Cecile, but I prefer Capt. Lavand a thousand times

[Image of page 11]

to him. He gave me a detailed account of the French settlement there, denied all action on the part of the French Government of forming a penal colony, or arrogating any sovreignity, and said that if France did such a foolish thing, it would be a pleasant circumstance for England since on the first outbreak of war their Colony would fall into our hands. I asked him if the news of war between the two countries were to arrive while we were there, what he would do? and if he were to take the "Favourite" what would he do with us ladies. He said he would take us back instantly to Hobart. "I thought as much," I replied, "mais sans saccager la ville?" I added, "Ah madame," he replied, as if shocked. I thought it as well to add, however, that a short time ago he might have done this with immunity but that now we had guns arrived and forts erecting. A shade came over his face which I accounted for by his interpretation of this fact looking very much like war, and of war, tho' he did not say so, it was evident to all of us he was very much afraid, knowing very well that he would be sure to be taken somewhere or other before he got back to France.

He told me what a pity it was we had not sent to him to take us about in his ship, he would have done it with pleasure and would be delighted now to take us back to Van Diemens Land. I told him we might yet be glad of his services in the event of the "Favourite" not being able to take us, but as the Captain (Dunlop) was extremely anxious to return thither we could not leave his ship except in the case that he were ordered elsewhere, and in that case we would let him know, and claim his services. In the most earnest and solemn manner he said he trusted, he put his faith in me, that I would tell him if there was likely to be war or not, and if not, he would come to us immediately at our summons, either to Waitemata, Bay of Islands, or wherever we chose and take us to Hobart.

He and all his officers evinced the most ardent and even impatient desire to visit Van Diemens Land. They knew so well, they said, the noble hospitality you had exercised there towards their compatriots and Capt. Lavand sent me a number of the "Annales Maritimes et Coloniales" (an official Admiralty publication) in which is an article of M. Cecile on V. D. L. with the praises of its inhabitants, many of whom are mentioned by name. I will send it if I can lay my hands on it, and you can let Lady Pedder and all whom it concerns, see it; and pray let all the good Hobartians know that the French frigate "Aube" expects great things from them all. Capt. Lavand gave Mr. Bagot a letter for you which will be given with his letter to Tom into the hands of the Captain of the Patriot, a vessel sailing early tomorrow (27th April) from hence, (Russell) for Hokianga and thence for Hobarton.

[Image of page 12]

(From the original in the Fitchell Library.)

[Image of page 13]

We lodged at Akaroa, in a newly built and unfinished store, a small portion of which was fitted up with flags by M. Lavand for our accommodation. The building was raised on piles about four feet from the ground and a passage into the rooms was effected by some rude blocks of wood placed as steps before the door.

To this fact hangs my next unlucky tale. I was going out of one of these rooms (a sort of gallery) in the dark, and forgetting I believe that the floor I was upon was raised above the ground on which the doorway (for there was no door) opened, I stepped out, missed the step, and came down on the ground 4 feet below, striking in my way, I believe, the blocks I should have trodden on. I lay on the ground in great pain, almost afraid to move lest I should find I had broken my leg; this was not the case, however, though I was half inclined to attempt making some signal to the ship for the Doctor; however, the next day he seemed to think little of it from my description, and said he would not advise me to do anything to it. During the four or five days I remained at Okaroa I followed his advice but continued to suffer much and particularly in walking; my walking being limited however, to moving from the store to the boat and up and down the ship's side for dinner, etc. On embarking from Akaroa my leg was worse and Dr. Kilroy said I must by no means put it to the ground and that it would probably confine me a long while. There is nothing visible, but the Doctor thinks I have probably lacerated the tendons or muscles of the leg, by the great stretch I gave them, and that it will be long in healing, tho' he seems to have no fear whatever of its coming right at last. It has been a most unfortunate accident to me, rendering me helpless as to walking and very troublesome to others.

On landing at Auckland I had kept my crib a week in the cabin, and in it I received a visit from Capt. Hobson who notwithstanding my helplessness advised me not to miss the opportunity which was just about to present itself of witnessing a very large Missionary Meeting of Christian Natives at Waikato on the W side of the island, for which he was about setting off himself; he said the journey would be chiefly performed by boats, and the land part could be managed by bearers in the manner in which ladies usually travel in this country.

I was the more induced to accept this proposal as I found (tho' not from him) that Mrs. Hobson had very insufficient accommodation for us and was herself crowded into a small dwelling quite inadequate to the wants of her family, while the wooden Government House was putting up. It was agreed that Miss Williamson should remain with her however, during our absence. This expedition was accomplished with great satisfaction by all the party, (tho'

[Image of page 14]

it took us much longer than was expected) except that Capt. Hobson himself was unable to accompany us. He set off with us, but some arrangement he had contemplated not being carried into effect the first day, we were obliged instead of embarking on a boat to bivouack on the shore. I persuaded him as we were only seven miles from home to return home to sleep and come back in the morning whilst I would remain where I was; and I was extremely glad that he had done this, when next morning a letter was brought me to say that he was extremely unwell with sick headache and unable to come on begging me to proceed however with my party and make his excuses to the Missionaries. Some doctor of Capt. Hobson's has told him that he must be very careful of these sick headaches when they happen or they may lead to another attack, a foolish warning which alarms without leading to any good.

Never having seen Capt. Hobson before I am unable to say that he is a very altered man, but he gives me such an impression. His figure is shrunk and emaciated his complexion pale and his whole appearance and manner feeble, though he is occasionally flushed and excited. At first I thought his mind indicated some slight deterioration also, but in this further acquaintance convinced me I was mistaken, unless it might be in some slight degree in memory. Whatever Capt. Hobson may once have been he is even in his decline and decay, (if indeed he may be considered in such at all) more vigorous and active minded than many or most men in their prime; I think him a clever man, quick, of ready and sound judgment, and singularly active minded and observant; perhaps fidgetty and busy-bodyish. Nothing escapes him, and there is nothing he refrains from meddling with. He seems to understand how to do everything and to be as conversant with his wife's storeroom or his children's toilette as with the affairs of his new colony. He transacts his public business with his colonial secretary or others, in the presence of his wife, and sitting at her worktable, and more than this would I believe suffer her to interrupt or divert him if she thought proper to do so, without reproach. She appears to me to possess unbounded influence over him, if she chose to exert it but I observed in her nothing that indicated a mind of more than ordinary calibre, and consequently his measures are little affected by her opinions. For instance, he wishes her to go with him to Port Nicholson, thinking I believe, and very justly, not merely that he would like her company, but that her presence would do good. She would like very well to go too, but thinks she may perhaps be sick in the passage, an objection he does not think of overruling, because her enjoyment would be affected by it. They have four very nice children; the eldest eleven, the youngest born on board the

[Image of page 15]

"Druid." He has only one boy, and I told him of Mr. Gell and the college. He was much interested, asked about the expense, etc., etc. I told him there was the difference of £80 and £20 a year, for boarders and day scholars, but that if he liked him to be a day scholar, (and if Capt. Hobson's salary is not increased he can hardly afford to send him as a boarder) I was sure you as well as myself would be happy to give him a home, during the probably short remaining period of our stay in V. D. L. He seemed touched at this, and said he did not know how to answer it. If you have no objection I think a word or two from you, expressive of your acquiesance in such arrangement, would be very agreeable to him, tho' I doubt if he would accept it, because he said he sent him now to a private tutor and he thought for another year or two should continue to do so. The boy is a nice, well-behaved boy, or I should not have said so, and I added besides, that if the least inconveniences were to arise to us from such an arrangement, such as his not coming in at proper hours, I would immediately let him know, and place him within Mr. Gell's walls.

I was anxious to remove the painful impression which I felt sure was felt on our arrival with the Port Nicholson affair attached to us, and have consequently endeavoured to do everything gently to remove it, and to produce a contrary sentiment. In this there has been no hypocrisy for I feel (as you know) and have always done, a great interest in New Zealand, and now that I know Capt. Hobson, I feel a great interest in and regard for him also, an interest not the less lively because I cannot help thinking that though he may be yet spared some few years longer, that his years are not many. His doctors say that as long as he is not much worried, he will do well, but that agitation and uneasiness of mind are much to be feared, he is, however, of a very vivacious, happy disposition. 5

We were at Auckland or Waitemata as our headquarters between three weeks and a month, waiting for letters from Sydney for the direction of Capt. Dunlop and for the sale of the Town allotments. Capt. Stanley left the Bay of Islands early in March, telling Capt. Hobson that he was called away suddenly to Sydney by a letter from Capt. Wickham, with directions to Capt. Dunlop to remain in New Zealand till he heard again. The ships came in fact from Sydney for the sale, but the mail had been removed from all those that arrived, in order that they might be put on board another, the "Elizabeth" schooner which sailed eighteen hours earlier, and in it also some papers had been removed from the other ships in order that they might be sure to be in time for the sale. The sale came on and ended, and the "Elizabeth" schooner did not arrive. Capt. Hobson was vexed because it had on board his despatches respect-

[Image of page 16]

ing the change in Government 6 which as yet he knew only from the Sydney papers, and Sir George Gipps' congratulatory letter. And Capt. Dunlop was vexed because the contents of his expected letters from Stanley were yet not known. We were not less vexed because we were being detained at a place where our stay was extremely inconvenient, and without the means of proceeding onwards. At last fears were entertained that the "Elizabeth" was lost and this consideration together with his sympathy in our impatience to be gone, induced Capt. Hobson to request Capt. Dunlop to go up to the Bay of Islands to learn the fate of the "Elizabeth" and convey us thither. We embarked then on Friday last, the 23rd from Auckland for the Bay, learned in our way from an American vessel that the "Elizabeth" (a little thing of 80 tons) had been wrecked 15 miles S. of the Bay, the mail and crew saved, and that another vessel had already sailed from the Bay of Islands to pick them up and take them on to Auckland. Thus again we have missed the mail, and the "Favourite" is now likely to be detained here a week before she can return for her letters having on board the Collector of Customs and a Police Magistrate to look after the smuggling of some rum here.

We landed to-day (Bay of Islands) and are housed in the Government House of Russell, and here we must stay, I believe till the "Favourite" gets her orders or becomes at liberty, and till we know in what direction to turn for assistance. Capt. Hobson is fully aware of our position, and that in case there is any hindrance to the "Favourite" taking us back to Hobarton we desire a message to be conveyed as quickly as possible to Capt. Lavand that he may come and fetch us, or if both of these fail, that we may be informed of it as soon as possible in order that we may look out for a merchant ship. Capt. Hobson seemed to wish to go to Port Nicholson in the "Favourite" and if so, I think we shall part from her. In entering the Bay the day before yesterday, we met the "Ullswater" bound for Launceston going out with a fine breeze. Lieut. Von Donop boarded her and desired the Captain to let you know he had met us, all well...........

We can now have little hope of being back by the Queen's birthday, which I much regret, though less so than I should have done, had I been able to stand about and move as usual. If I get on as slowly as I now do I should be obliged to have my feet on a sofa even if I were present. I am, notwithstanding, making some progress, and should make perhaps more, were I not led now and then to stand and walk a few paces, in order to spare the trouble I give to others. My health has remained remarkably good during all this privation of the exercise to which I am accustomed. This I

[Image of page 17]

must attribute in a great degree to the salubrity of the climate which I find more equable and softer than V. D. L. though extremely rainy.

The separation of New Zealand from New South Wales 7 gives great satisfaction not to the Governor only, but to everybody and congratulations and addresses are pouring in upon him. He is anxious about his salary, says he cannot live on his present one, and thinks he ought to have £2,000 a year.........

Capt. Hobson told me he was with Mr. Gordon Gairdner when the latter read your letter about Capt. Maconochie, and that Mr. Gairdner expressed much sympathy and indignation. I hope if you have not already, that you will write a few lines of congratulation to Capt. Hobson on his being made an independent Governor, thanking him at the same time for his kindness to me..........

He was much interested also, about the scientific journal for which I have the promise of contributions both from the Surveyor General, and from Dr. Dieffenbach 8 a learned young German professor originally engaged by the Port Nicholson Company, and now by Capt. Hobson, to travel and report on the geology, etc., etc., of the country. He said the Doctor was satisfied with having his travelling expenses paid, which might be averaged at about a half a guinea a day during the year, and he sends in his report to the Governor. Capt. Hobson said he had little doubt of this engagement with Doctor Dieffenbach being approved of, but if otherwise, he would rather pay it himself than dismiss him. When I told Captain Hobson that Dr. Dieffenbach was coming to see us in V. D. L. he seemed alarmed and said I must not bribe him away. I told him I had not bribed him except by telling him that there was much to be done in V. D. L., but that Dr. D. had told me that he was determined to come, and that soon. I told Dr. D. that I presumed his researches were exclusively devoted to the Government of New Zealand and that I must therefore wait till I saw them in print, and could not hope for any contributions to our journal. "On the contrary," he said he should be extremely happy to send something to the journal, and would certainly and with great pleasure do so. I hope this will be encouragement to our Society and that they are hard at work and that the first number has come out and produced a great sensation.

Capt. Stanley has talked much to the Hobsons about the great happiness he enjoyed at Hobart and about the Observatory, and your interest and zeal in it.

Captain Lavand received a letter from him while we were at Akaroa, and it was, from beginning to end, all about the Observatory at Hobart. Capt. Lavand would much rather have heard

[Image of page 18]

something about peace or war. He did not care to be put off with magnetism when he wanted politics.

We received your packet of letters from Fort Nicholson on our arrival at Auckland, brought by some private hand. Mr. Halswell arrived himself soon after at Auckland and left a card for me...

I am sick of hearing of what Gilbert Robertson writes. It is a shame to our community that he is suffered to write at all, and so thinks Capt. Hobson, to whom the creature sends his papers.

The Government officers here have more spirit than with us, and have been subscribing together for a newspaper to support the Government. A printing press has arrived from Sydney and an Editor who has been similarly engaged before. Capt. Hobson has nothing to do with this, and affects not above half to like it...

I hope you are getting on quietly with your officers and that no more suspensions will be required.....

Captain Dunlop would not listen to dining in our cabin. He has most sacredly abstained from once putting his feet in it, and indeed has behaved with the most perfect quietness and propriety throughout. They have all behaved very well to us, but I am bound in particular to stand up for the Captain, whose name has been so much quoted the other way; he delights to tell everybody of his approaching marriage.

I wish we had put more stock on board, or at least more sheep. We bought 4 more at Port Nicholson for £9, but at Akaroa and Auckland they were not to be had. People live here almost entirely on pork, but it is very delicate and more like veal than pork. There was a grand dinner given to us by Capt. Lavand and another by his officers and one given to them in return. The ships' crews also exchanged entertainments....

I am extremely anxious to get back, and desirous of being at home again. My thoughts are constantly fixed on what may be going on while I am away. Capt. Hobson told me on leaving that he was so thoroughly aware of what we wanted, that he could not fail of attending to our wishes, either of sending back the "Favourite" to take us to Hobart or sending to Capt. Lavand. Perhaps in default of these he may even send us in his own Colonial Brig, the "Victoria" which he is half disposed to send to Van Diemen's Land, for fencing, etc. etc., for the Government buildings.

I had almost forgotten to tell you about the first Crown sale of land in New Zealand, the foundation of her Capital City of Auckland. Great excitement prevailed on this occasion and tho' a small portion only of the Town was sold, it realised high prices. It was put up to auction contrary to the usual plan and contrary to what Capt. Hobson supposed his instruction might be if they came in

[Image of page 19]

time; but fortunately they did not, so instead of selling it at a fixed price he has sold it by auction and by the prices realised has proved that his choice of a site is approved of, and that his mode of selling is the most profitable.

I told Capt. Hobson that altho' it was not true that I had purchased land at Port Nicholson yet that finding myself here at the foundation of his Capital, and at the first legalised sale, and having a real interest in New Zealand which I should like to preserve, I should like to have a small bit of his new town, provided by so doing I kept out no one else, and could get from it such a rent as would give me fair interest with the power of giving a small sum yearly to the Mission. He seemed pleased and referred me to the Surveyor-General who bid for three allotments for himself and gave me the choice of either. The allotment we chose, (I say we, Mr. Bagot and Miss Williamson being sharers with me) is at the lower end of Queen Street the great street (to be) of shops near the water. This allotment and the adjoining one sold each for 22s. Mr. Mathew bought it in trust for me, our division of it being an after affair, so that I cannot tell precisely what my portion of payment will be. The Surveyor General thinks it will let immediately on a building lease at 12 or 15 per cent for 7 years, the buildings then becoming your own, and the rent greatly raised. He would not hear of any agency for his trouble.

I hope you will not object to this very moderate outlay which is less than what I had expected by this time to have spent in travelling expenses, but unless we are obliged at last to go home in a merchant ship we shall come off this time, at a very moderate cost. My chief expenses have been in Maoris carrying me about. I gave also £5. to the Great Missionary meeting where a collection was made among the natives themselves amounting to £28, and I gave £10 to the church about to be built at Auckland.......

At Waikah we saw above a thousand natives assembled to hear preaching and be catechised. 200 partook of the Communion on the Sunday and about 120 men, women and children were baptized. This was a curious and interesting sight. At the Missionary meeting they held forth in very animated harangues, to propose or second resolutions. One of them was to deplore the Governor's absence and to thank me for my presence, and scarcely a native addressed the assembly without as I am told an allusion to me. I like much what I have seen of the Missionaries and am glad to learn that their land acquisitions are likely in all, or most cases, to be confirmed to them. We are going to set off from hence to Waimate the great Missionary agricultural establishment, in order that we may be back in readiness for any opportunity of departure......

1   Lieutenant Henry Kay, R. N. a kinsman of Sir John Franklin, who had been with him in the "Rainbow," was in charge of the magnetical observatory at Hobart. See Ingleton, "Charting a Continent," p. 51.
2   Edward Gibbon Wakefield at this time was Managing Director and Chairman of the New Zealand Company.
3   Auckland.
4   Charles McLachlan, Managing Director of the Bank of Van Diemen's Land.
5   For a brief account of Captain William Hobson see Aust. Ency. Vol. II., p. 617. Hobson died of a paralytic stroke about eighteen months after Lady Franklin wrote this letter. He was only 49.
6   [No footnote found]
7   New Zealand was created an independent Colony in May, 1841.
8   Lorenz Dieffenbach (1806-1883) Scientist and traveller. Later Librarian at Frankfurt.

Previous section | Next section