6 JULY 1867, Page 8


in many respects one of the very best Colonial Secretaries we have had. Short as was the period of his official life, he had time to display qualities of firmness and judgment which inspired universal respect. His despatch to the Government of Canada on the subject of Mr. Seward's remonstrances as to our treatment of the Fenian prisoners, if not quite as peremptory in wording as we could have wished, was in substance thoroughly wise and dignified. His treatment of the Jamaica question, on which his sub- ordinate, Mr. Adderley, expressed himself so violently and improperly in Parliament last session, has been throughout firm, just, temperate. Nothing could be better than the circular he issued in January on martial law to all the Colonial Govern- ments, which was approved last Tuesday in the debate on that subject in Parliament. And indeed, except on the question of colonial bishoprics, on which one must, of course, admit that a High-Church Colonial Secretary is not likely to take a line agreeable to strong Erastians, and on the one unfortunate topic of New Zealand, Lord Carnarvon's ministry was all that even a Liberal could wish, and tended very much to raise the public estimate of his power and judgment, and to impress the country with a sincere respect for his high moral tone.

But on New Zealand he fell into exactly the same almost stupid class of blunders which disfigured Mr. Cardwell's ad- ministration, and more or less even the late Duke of Newcastle's, though no minister in recent years has shown, on the whole, so much temper and insight into the state of that unfortu- nate colony as the Duke of Newcastle. The vice of our colonial policy with relation to New Zealand has always been the same, —a sort of priggish schoolmasterish tone, the example of which was unfortunately set by Earl Grey, and which has been imitated by nearly all his successors,—a tone haughty, didactic, sus- picious, imperious without knowledge, and always full of a Pharisaic assumption of superiority. The root of this we believe to have been in many instances the promptings of the High-Church party in the colony, to whom our recent Colonial Secretaries have always inclined a favourable ear. But, at all events, the fact has undoubtedly been that in the case of no other colony could you produce a Secretary - of State's correspondence the tone of which is so uniformly unpleasant, so full of unfounded suspicions, of disagreeable warnings, of ostentatious lectures on the moral deficiencies of the Colonial Government. Yet in fact, and we have watched New Zealand politics very closely, on the chief subjects of dispute between our own Government and the colony our own Government has been almost invariably in the wrong, and not only so, but very needlessly wrong, in consequence of allowing insinuations from private sources to bias our Minister's mind before time or opportunity have been given to the colonial authorities to explain their own side of the questions at issue. A very remarkable illustration of this kind of blunder is now before us. On the 28th of December Lord Carnarvon wrote to Sir George Grey, the Governor of New Zealand, as follows :- "Finally, I must observe, that while you thus appear to cling to the expectation of continued assistance from this country, your own reports, or rather the absence of reports from you, show how little you recognize any continued responsibility to the Imperial Government for the conduct of the war. While in your despatch of the 15th October, you inform me that a trooper of the colonial forces had been killed by some hostile natives, you leave me to learn from the newspapers that in the neighbourhood of Hawke's Bay a body of natives who refused to give up their arms, had been attacked by the colonial forces in their pak (which is said to have been unfortified), and driven into the bush, twenty-three of them being killed, and a like number wounded ; and that a native village on the west coast, after being summoned to surrender, was attacked by a colonial force, and escape being cut off, about thirty or forty persons were killed. In the account before me, this last transaction is described as 'the most brilliant of this guerrilla war.' Meantime your own despatches would hardly lead me to suppose that any recognized warfare was in progress. I need hardly observe that if at any time it were alleged in this country that these affairs—described by the colonial press as brilliant successes—were in fact unwarranted and merciless attacks on un- offending persons, I have no authentic means of reply afforded me by your despatches."

We need not say that this tone from a Colonial Secretary to the Government of a colony is exceedingly unusual, and calculated to excite a very just feeling of irritation. Lord Carnarvon assumes the suppression of important facts, and in the absence of any explanation from the Government on the subject, goes on to hint a very disgraceful reason. The de- patches relating the engagements might possibly have been suppressed, he suggests, because the " brilliant successes " in question were " unwarranted and merciless attacks on un- offending persons." Now, what except the not unfrequent but very unworthy schoolmasterish spirit which makes it a duty to find fault, and to suggest faults if it cannot find them, could have prompted Lord Carnarvon to give this unjustifiable and needless kind of offence ? Was Mr. Gorst or some other ex- New Zealand Conservative at his ear, suggesting possible vices in the Colonial Government which it was his Lordship's duty hypothetically to rebuke ? No wonder the New Zealand Ministry, in their very natural irritation at such despatches, speak of Lord Carnarvon's innuendoes rather broadly as " calumnies." The real fact of the case was, that the Governor was absent in a remote disturbed district, and not able therefore to send home his official account of these victories by the mail by which Lord Carnarvon heard of them in the newspapers. Lord Carnarvon had ample means of knowing that this was so. Moreover, if he had read the Gazettes announcing the victories in question, which reached home before his despatch was sent off, though probably not before it was written, he would have known that no such interpretation as he suggested could possibly have been put on them. There is not really the shadow of blame to be cast on the New Zealand authorities for either of the mat- ters referred to. No one, even in the colony, has ever made any public charge that either of these successes was " an unwarranted and merciless attack on unoffending persons." The Colonial Ministers, in their memorandum, give full infor- mation, —which Lord Carnarvon no doubt had received from the Governor a few days after sending off his despatch,—as to the nature of those operations, and we confess we do not think it possible that Lord Carnarvon himself now attaches the slightest blame to the colonial authorities in, either case. This unpleasant suggestion was entirely and ab- solutely gratuitous, and the reason for the delay complained of in the despatches was as obvious and straightforward as it could be. No wonder that the aggrieved Colonial Ministers feel this needless and foolish taunt somewhat bitterly. They say, in reply :— "The first intimation of these calumnies reaches the Governor and his Ministers in this despatch. So far as ministers are aware, no question of the justice of the attacks on the natives, either at Hawke's Bay or on the west coast, or of the conduct of the colonial forces on these occasions has ever been publicly raised in this colony, or in the United Kingdom. Nor were they aware

until they read the despatch that the question had even been privately raised. The inference is painfully clear. The Secretary of State has allowed himself to be influenced by some secret report, studiously concealed from the Governor, from his ministers, and from the public, and without resorting to authentic intelli- gence, or waiting a few days for a despatch from the Governor, has given authoritative currency to such report. Ministers do greatly complain of that fatal facility, unhappily so often illustrated of late in some Imperial departments of State, of listening to secret slander of the reputation of public men in this colony, and of investing reports (which otherwise would never come to life), with the authority of official recognition. Against this system of secret defamation ministers most emphatically protest. It saps the foundations of all government, and destroys all confidence in public men. In the case of New Zealand, the tacit allowance, if not encouragement, in the War Department at home of such a system, has, ministers believe, done much to waste the resources of the Empire and the Colony, and to paralyze their joint efforts to suppress insurrection."

And we cannot say we regard the complaint as unjust in sub- stance, though it might have been more dignified, and rather less resentful in form.

Again, look at the way in which our Colonial Secretary has treated New Zealand in the matter of withdrawing the regiments. That the regiments should be withdrawn the colony had asked, and they had no right to complain of being taken at their word. But there was no sort of occasion to do the matter as it has been done, with the greatest possible ostentation of want of consideration for the colonial authori- ties. Some posts which imperfectly control the country were -vacated -without even that formal notice which would have enabled the colony to occupy them if it were thought right, and, in consequence, one had already, at the last advices, been occupied by the enemy, who announce that " the road that way is closed for man and mail. The way for the Pakeha is by the sea." The troops have been taken away as un- graciously as they were retained. The General was, we believe, directed to offer several regiments to any of the Australian colonies who would take them,—with or without contribution. The Australian colonies do not need them. New Zealand had consented to part with them because the Home Government insisted on such hard terms for their continuance that their finances would not admit of acquiescence. And now they are almost thrust upon Australia. The rebel natives on the west coast, whom Lord Carnarvon pro- poses to glorify as injured and "unoffending persons," were, as is now known, on the eve of tendering their allegiance at the very time selected by a subordinate officer,—the whole regulation of the movement of the troops has been expressly withdrawn by the Home Government from the power of the Governor and his responsible advisers,—" to give orders for the withdrawal of the Imperial troops occupy- ing certain posts on that coast." And of course the rebels were thereby at once encouraged to persevere.

In short, the Government of New Zealand has been systemati- cally treated by our recent Secretaries of State as alittle pickle who ought to be whipped as often as excuses for that proceeding can be invented. Instead of writing to the Governor and of his advisers as men who know but very little of the actual con- dition of things should write to men who know much, the various Secretaries of State sneer and scold, and invent little dis- courtesies and irritations for them which must before long end in separation. We confess we think Lord Carnarvon too wise, able, and high-minded a man to have taken any pleasure in this sort of thing. Yet a worse instance of groundless and unjust discourtesy than we have produced from his despatches we should find it difficult to discover in the archives of the Colonial Office. What unfortunate fate is it which makes really able and just men weak and impertinent, when they have to deal with this unfortunate colony of New Zealand ?