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The Diary of James Brogden, August 1871 – December 1872

Wellington Nov 4 1871

I seems perfectly impossible to fancy that I am out of England. Today eating ducks and green peas, bouquets of flowers of spring growth on the table and within sight, the trees bursting into the newest green leaf – all the surroundings just such as one would witness in a Country town at home, and yet to dream that I am at the farthest part of the earth from you and all my previous connections. As yet all is new, most impressive and interesting. I told you in my last that we arrived here on the 18th after encountering a terrible gale. It appears that we got out of the “Nevada” just in time, for after leaving her she ran into a Ship and encountered great risk and damage; but fortunately all got safely to Sydney. We did not leave our Ship until about 9 o’clock page 26 on the morning of arrival, taking lodgings without loss of timeat once with Col. Whitmore as our Companion, after which I reported ourselves to Mr Vogel the Colonial Treasurer, who at once put the questions to me as to what modifications we sought in the Railway Contract. I told him I could not state them without consulting a Solicitor, where upon he told me that in consequence of the outcry that had been made in all directions and the publications in the Colonial Newspapers, the Government had decided to “recommend the House not to adopt No 1 Contract, but simply to take No 2 to which they were bound. I stated that if I had known how intended to deal with us, I should not have left home. In a subsequent interview another day he repeated that he had held out a glittering hope in the No 1 Contract covering the negociations of No 2, and that he had not the idea of the No 1 Contract being adopted. He said we were sure to lose money by the No 2 and asked me if we were desirous of giving it up. I replied “No – we hold the Government to No 2 Contract, but asked for modifications”. The advice I had was that the Colony would not let us be fooled, and that I should see the Members of the Parliament personally. By this means I was enabled to turn the tide in our favour, and the very Opposition forced an amendment on the Ministry to the effect that No 2 Contract should be increased to £1,000,000 , or that the Govt. have power to negociate terms, enabling them to pay us in debentures or cash. The matter must stand over until the Railways Bill is paper, which is to authorise the Lines of Railway to be constructed. In putting page 27 shortly the above. I may fairly say that a great deal of anxiety and effort have gone together while all has been going on. I felt very angry at the result of my first interview with Mr Vogel; but I cannot fail to recognise the proper feeling in the Legislative Assembly, altho’ we are not indebted to the Ministry for it. But as this is not intended for a Business letter but one which may give you an idea of what I am doing. I now go back to the day of landing at Wellington.

We reported ourselves at the Government House. At night dined with Mrs Vogel, who took us to a ball. The ladies and gentlemen were such as you would meet with at home, and the whole such as you might describe as a County Ball. It seemed strange to land at the Antipodes and fall in with such a reception.