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Life of Sir George Grey: Governor, High commissioner, and Premier. An Historical Biography.

Its Aims Thwarted

Its Aims Thwarted.

It seemed specially constituted to arouse his distrust in advance, if not to excite his hostility. Its pretensions were high and its practices imperious. It virtually established an imperium in imperio. Before they landed in New Zealand, its officers and settlers, inspired by the theories of Hooker, Hobbes, and Rousseau, formed a social compact. Soon after they landed, they hoisted a flag, which was saluted by twenty-one guns from the ship page 71that brought them. They proceeded to set up a provisional government. They created a legislative and executive council, in emulation of the councils usually attached to the governors of Crown colonies, and they levied taxes. They appointed magistrates, who exercised judicial authority. They founded and named a settlement. Withal, the Company in England disclaimed all intention of establishing an independent polity. All its acts ran in the teeth of its professions. Three years later it denied, on legal authority, that the British government in New Zealand rested on a lawful foundation, and contested the validity of its acts. Governor Hobson dealt sternly with its pretensions in New Zealand, and Lord Stanley brutally suppressed its reclamations in England. Within an hour after he had learnt of the Company's proceedings at Wellington, Captain Hobson proclaimed the Queen's sovereignty over the North Island, and in another proclamation he declared the Association to be "illegal and usurping." He held its doings to "amount to high treason;" he sent an officer with a body of troops, who were authorised to "displace all persons holding office under the usurping Government;" and he ordered him to restore to all persons any property of which they had been deprived by the so-called magistrates. Finally a proclamation summoned all persons to withdraw from the Association and submit to the proper authorities. Hobson has been accused of weakness by people who mistake bluster for force and brutality for firmness, but he seems to have acted with equal promptitude and energy. His action was ominous of the attitude of the New Zealand Government towards the Company through the remainder of its history.