[Letter from Lord Lyttelton]
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ST. JAMES'S SQUARE,
Jan. 17th, 1854.
MY DEAR MR. SELFE,
It seems proper that the letter which you have been good enough to address to me, accompanying a statement of the accounts of the Canterbury Association, should not be made public without a few remarks from myself.
It may perhaps be asked why such a publication has not been made before. I have, however, not much to say on this point beyond what is contained in the opening sentence of your letter.
We have never, till recently, had expressed to us any formal wish or desire for such publication, on the part of any members and friends of the Association. It has indeed been called for, and I have been addressed for this purpose from various quarters; but in a hostile spirit, and after a foregone conclusion adverse to our proceedings. I did not think it requisite to promote such a statement as the present in answer to such demands, though we have never denied proper access to our accounts to any person interested in them. It is true that the attacks upon our proceedings have been accompanied by a disclaimer of
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personal imputations against certain members of our body: and a restriction of the charges to others, not named. But, as you are aware, this is an unreal distinction: nor can any such separation be admitted in respect of the acts of a Committee, for which all are responsible, between its different members.
On occasion, however, of the present publication, it may be right that I should state that I accept the distinct responsibility of all the authorized acts of the Committee since the spring of 1850; for no such act, of the least importance, was ever done without my knowledge and concurrence.
You have set forth in your letter both the steps taken and the grounds upon which they were taken, with equal accuracy and clearness. Nor is it possible for me to wish anything added to the statements you have made.
At the same time, I should say that we are ready at any time to give more detailed explanations on any of the points herein treated of, to any one interested in them.
More could not have been included in such a publication as this, without greater length and complication than seemed desirable. Indeed, one reason, besides the small interest to the public of the whole business, and the comparative insignificance of our affairs relatively to those of the colony itself, which has made me somewhat backward in promoting such a publication as this,
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has been that many of the transactions in question are of so complex a nature that I much doubted whether they would be fairly appreciated, even if explained with the clearness with which you have stated them in your letter. I refer particularly to the land-investments for ecclesiastical purposes.
Whether those who have so strongly censured our jn-oceedings will in any degree be satisfied by the present explanation, I cannot conjecture; but I have no fear of the judgment that will eventually be passed upon them by candid and reasonable minds.
Believe me, yours truly,
Henry Selfe Selfe, Esq.
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