Life of Sir George Grey: Governor, High commissioner, and Premier. An Historical Biography.
A Proposed Dictatorship
A Proposed Dictatorship.
In receipt of such alarming statements and prognostics, is the British Government of the day to be blamed if it contemplated the appointment of a dictator? Before it decided, it resolved to take the counsel of the Englishman who knew New Zealand best—of the Governor who knew it supremely well. A military officer was sent to wait upon Sir George Grey and solicit his advice. Sir George prudently asked time to consider the proposal, and meanwhile, on this pretext, he cunningly retained the document that had been left with him. He condemned the scheme. Colonists who had for a decade and a half enjoyed representative institutions would never submit to the withdrawal of them and would themselves rise in mutiny at the mere mention of a dictator. By his own account, Grey's opposition to the proposal extinguished it, and it was never heard of again. He carefully preserved the document, however, and it is now in his archives.page 166
Would Grey himself have accepted the mission which he refused to another? He certainly would. No position on earth would have appealed more magnetically to his ambition—an ambition that had its noble side. He would have gone out once more to New Zealand, but as an ordinary Governor, with extraordinary powers. He would have proclaimed martial law in certain disturbed districts, as he several times did during the Wellington war of 1846 and the Wanganui war of 1847. Had he deemed it necessary, he would not have scrupled to place the whole North Island under martial law—which is, of course, the same thing as suspending the Constitution. Te Kooti would have been captured, as he was. The rebel Maoris would have been conquered, as they easily were. The loyal Maoris would have proved themselves devoted and serviceable, as under Rangihiwinui they did. And the neutral Maoris would have gone over to the wmning side. Then the ban would have been removed, and the colony would have become the peaceful community it had long been. And Grey, who knew how to arrogate the credit that should often have redounded to others, would have been deemed the wonder-worker of it all.