to "A Page from the History of New Zealand"
Being a short exposition of the pusillanimous compliance of the Secretaries of the Church Missionary Society,
the Political intrigue of Sir George Grey, Governor of New Zealand, set forth in his calumniatory Despatches,
the Secretary of Stale for the Colonies.
"He that justifieth the wicked and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord."page break
The following remarks as they bear upon the disturbances, which have arisen in connection with the New Zealand Mission, the chief particulars of which are so well known, may appear to many persons unnecessary; more particularly as they relate to the case of Archdeacon Henry Williams, which has been so fully and ably vindicated. But still there is a mystery connected with the affair, which demands explanation.
The Secretary, Mr. Venn, in a letter addressed January 28, 1853 to the Rev. J. W. Disney has observed: "further explanation can be of no service towards enabling you to understand the grounds on which the Committee have proceeded, and the facts upon which the ultimate decision of the Committee rested," that is, in discontinuing their connexion with the Archdeacon.—a decision made Nov. 20, 1849.
These expressions of Mr. Venn refer to a remarkable resolution, passed on January 10, 1853, and intended by the Committee to foreclose further investigation and inquiry, and especially to obviate the consequences that might arise to themselves and their Secretaries, by giving due consideration to a letter, addressed to them Dec. 29, 1852 by Mr. Disney (see Appendix) in which he specially called the attention of the Committee to seriously glaring misstatements put forth by the Secretaries in their official reply of Oct. 13, 1851.
This strange resolution of the Committee it will be necessary to notice in the following pages; as the history relating to the much injured New Zealand Mission, would be incomplete, without a further examination of this important fact to which it refers. Mr. Venn, when pressed by Mr. Disney's letter, and compelled in point of fact, to renounce the imputation, on which he rested formerly, as utterly untenable, immediately betakes himself, for present security and defence, to the indefinite, but characteristic observation "Oh these were not the grounds on which the Committee proceeded," and "a further explanation can be of no service in enabling you to understand them." In order, therefore, to arrive at a just and satisfactory page 4 conclusion, we must ascertain what "the grounds" really were ou which the Committee "proceeded," and it will be necessary therefore to subject Mr. Venu to examination, that we may extort from him evidence, he is otherwise unwilling to give upon this matter. The grave importance of the principles and facts involved must plead our excuse for the course we adopt in the following remarks.
The subject itself is not one of mere private interest: it is one of vital moment in its principles and possible issues to the Church at large. It has occupied the anxious attention of many of the best friends of the Church, both in England and New Zealand, for no less a period than eight years. It involves the integrity of public characters, (the representatives of a large and important Institution of the Church): the integrity, not of the Missionaries, against whom most unchristian proceedings have been directed, but of those official persecutors, who enacted their several parts in this unrighteous transaction, with adroitness and success. The Church, therefore, demands investigation of the question in all its bearings, that it may judge whether imposition has not been practised upon the Christian public, and whether the imputation resting against Archdeacon Henry Williams be supported by fact or fiction. The various documents produced during this controversy give the clearest evidence that the latter is the case, and to make this apparent, however painful a duty, has been made imperative by the pertinacity of Mr. Venn, and by his uncourteous and dictatorial conduct throughout the whole of these protracted proceedings.
Let it be kept in mind then, that the Secretaries, when the various imputations and false statements, put forth by them, were subjected to scrutiny and their incongruity made manifest—not only failed to establish any single accusation; but were compelled tacitly to admit their utter groundlessness: yet, insensible alike to candour, to honor, to righteousness and to duty, they refused to put the constituents of the society right upon the matter, and so to repair—in the only way open to them as Christians and gentlemen—a serious public wrong, they themselves had inflicted.
In 1851 the Committee was requested by the Rev. E. G. Marsh and Archdeacon William Williams to reconsider their proceedings of Nov. 20, 1849 against Archdeacon Henry Williams: and in May, page 5 June and July of that year, meetings were held in due form to discuss the question. But the fixed conclusion of the Committee, under the direction of their secretary Mr. Venn, was, "that nothing had been stated either in the way of new matter or of explanation, which in their judgment altered the view already taken the Committee on Archdeacon Henry Williams' case." (Reply page 20.) Strange indeed must this decision appear to every impartial mind, when told that, from the mass of new matter laid before them, and the explanations given them by Archdeacon Wm. Williams, the Committee were necessitated to revoke their confirmation of Governor Grey's dispatches. This they did formally by a resolution passed May 20, 1851, and published in the Church Missionary Society's Report for that year! Yet to how small an extent the duty of reconsidering their erroneous ways and judging "righteous judgment" was observed by this Christian Committee will appear in the sequel.
At the close of the last general meeting, very fully attended, held July 14, 1851, when the Rev. E. G. Marsh and Archdeacon Wm. Williams expressed the surprize and serious disapprobation they felt at the decision of the Committee, Mr. Venn declared, that; "if the subject were to be again opened, he could assure the meeting that (he matter, which would come under review would tend most seriously to prejudice the case of Archdeacon Henry Williams, and that he could not recommend any friend of the Archdeacon to press the point."
This malign attack against the character of one, who, by his distance from the present scene of controversy, was unable personally to defend himself, expresses an insinuation of the most flagrantly libellous and unjust nature possible, in as much as it cannot be supported by a single fact, or by one particle of credible evidence. The concealed purport however of this disingenuous declaration on the part of Mr. Venn, will hereafter become quite manifest. There could be no doubt that Mr. Venn, after uttering a sentiment so ambiguous in itself and so unworthy of his position and character, would employ every means to vindicate his own aspersion; and this he attempted to do Oct. 15, 1851 (with how little success will appear) in the "Reply" of the Committee to a statement made by the Rev. E. G. Marsh. This document drawn up with much evident page 6 pomp and show of form, and published under the prudent guardianship of the word "confidential," contains 24 pages and in these the misstatements, or the garbled and partial and therefore unfair quotations exceed forty—that is nearly two to each page! A mode like this adopted by the secretaries of vindicating-their proceedings, in the unfairness and unrighteousness of which, ignorance as to facts could not be pleaded, throws the most unfavorable light upon their character as Christians and as men.—
This erroneous and evasive reply to the Rev. E. G. Marsh, published by the authority of the Committee, was met by Archdeacon Wm. Williams in a letter addressed Dec. 20, 1851 to the President of the Society; and two months afterwards Febr. 20, 1852 Mr. Venn wrote to Archdeacon Wm. Williams a letter from which we extract the following, "we trust that you will therefore withdraw the imputation you have cast upon the Committee and secretaries (in your letter of December 20, 1851) and thus obviate the necessity of any further painful and unseemly controversy between the Committee and one of its Missionaries upon matters of fact of such grave importance."
This was a cool and modest request on the part of Mr. Venn! but no calculation of consequences could induce Archdeacon Wm. Williams to withdraw the imputations cast upon Nr. Venn and the Committee, and yet Mr. Venn did not deem it adviseable "to enter upon any further painful and unseemly controversy upon matters of fact of such grave importance": on the contrary, in March 8, 1852 a memorandum drawn up by Lord Chichester, the President of the Society, on the case of Archdeacon Henry Williams, was read and adopted by the Committee, which, to the extent to which it foes, is favorable to the representations and character of the Archdeacon in page 10 of the memorandum, bis Lordship states "it appears therefore that the Archdeacon cannot be considered as having done anything in contravention of his engagement with the Committee or of their regulations previous to 1847."
This declaration of the President is extremely satisfactory and greatly simplifies the question in dispute, as it clearly shows that the time and occasion of disagreement between the Committee and the Archdeacon was not "previous to 1847," and restricts therefore page 7 the whole case to the attention paid and the credence given to the wily and disgraceful despatches of Governor Grey in (hat (1847) and subsequent years.
It is important to observe however, that by the admission of Lord Chichester, the President of the Society, the unfounded imputations of Mr. Venn, the Secretary of the Society in his "Reply," are formally repudiated and flung back upon himself by a single dash of the pen: and at this period the quarrel might have been brought to a clear and satisfactory close, had not Mr. Venn and the Committee compromised themselves with lier Majesty's Government in a matter, which to Government was a mere question of Colonial Policy, to be carried out in a way utterly regardless of vested personal rights, the principles of religion or the interests of the mission.
The secretaries and Committee, however, preserve an ominous silence upon this grave matter of fact: and, showing that "discretion" which is said to be "the better part of valour," they were afraid as well they might be, of the consequences to themselves and the effect which would not fail tu be produced upon the constituents of the Society, by the honest, Christian, manly avowal, that through misinformation and other causes, their official reply, as the expression of imputation seriously prejudicial to the character and interest of Archdeacon Henry Williams, was erroneous from beginning to end.
But although this Committee maintained a prudent—would it could be said, an honorable Christian silence—the matter was not suffered to rest here by others, who, irrespective of all mere personal consideration and questions of mere worldly policy, attach a higher value to the great principles of righteousness and truth, than the Committee were prepared practically to do. In Dec. 29, 1852 fourteen months after the issue of their "Reply" by Mr. Venn, the Rev. J. W. K. Disney of Newark forwarded his review of this pamphlet to the Committee (see Appendix). Upon receiving this, to save themselves from any further penalty in the loss of influence and character they would necessarily sustain in the estimation of others, they immediately passed a bill of indemnity in favor of their own actions and conduct, in the form of the page 8 following resolution: but which, had other characters and interests not been affected, might more justly have been considered as intended to throw into merited obscurity the wilful, but unconfessed errors of which they had been guilty, and which could not endure the light cast upon them by Mr. Disney's exposure.
Jan. 10, 1853.
That without entering into the particular points brought forward, by Mr. Disney, the Committee in their ultimate resolution on the subject, proceeded not upon the particular statement in question, but after a full, mature, and repealed investigation of all the documents bearing on the case, and after hearing at very great length, the Rev. E. G. Marsh and Archdeacon Wm. Williams, In advocacy of Archdeacon Henry Williams' insterest, the Committee therefore cannot again open the question."
Such is the grave—and we suppose—"ultimate conclusion" of these Masters in Israel, the directors of an Institution, which has for its object the extension of the church of the living God the pillar and ground of Truth! We might ask—and the enquiry would be a sufficient reply to the resolution, and express the highest moral estimation to be given to it—of what value as evidence against character and conduct in the conviction, of honest minds are "all the documents bearing on the cuse" and to which they profess to have directed a full mature and repeated consideration, if the "particular statements" they contain, are not in accordance with fact and truth? Mow can a verdict be otherwi.se than "false" though the Jury be "all agreed" in "linding it;" and how can the "sentence" be otherwise than unjust and unconstitutional—alike opposed to right and liberty,—which rests on such a verdict, though the Judge "pass it" with all the seeming form and circumstance and right of law if each particular statement as to fact and occasion of circumstance of which the evidence, though documentary, consists, have not been duly considered and the proper worth assigned beforehand!
But however lightly the Committee may appear, as in this case to estimate character—even the character of those, they are bound to protect and defend—we are quite sure their conduct page 9 cannot be a matter of unconcern to those, whose minds are unbiassed by worldly influences, and unsophisticated by prejudice and private facts. Can il, by any possible consideration, be a matter of indifference to the constituents of the Society, whether the resolutions and acts of their officials consist with fact or invention and are based upon truth or falsehood? We "hope belter things" of them; assured that they have "not so learned Christ," as to be prevented, when even one member suffers, from "suffering' with it." We arc assured therefore that if the Missionary Society would continue to hold its influence in the estimation of the Church a scrutiny of these evasive proceedings of its Secretaries must be urged and demanded; and that Mr. Venn must be summoned, as an officer of one of the Church's most important institutions, to meet the charge of perverting facts seriously affecting character, and with the after inlent at least, of prejudicing the case of Archdeacon Henry Williams.
The rejection of Mr. Disney's letter which was written with the simple and laudable intention of drawing the notice of the Committee to the misstatements presented to the members of the society by Mr. Venn, as evidence against Archdeacon Henry Williams, was an act very satisfactory doubtless to the mind of Mr. Venn, bul certainly cannot be so In the constituents of the Society generally; as it naturally suggests the enquiry to every unprejudiced person; if facts ran be perverted or suppressed and information withheld of au essential character, in one instance, why may not the same course be pursued in each and every other case? Where then, our ground for confidence in the responsible managers of the Society's affairs? And is il not a most remarkable feature in the present case, that, whilst the accused and maligned missionaries, on the one side are demanding a full and open investigation and straining every nerve to secure it, Mr. Venn, on the other, is showing a corresponding degree of anxiety to suppress all enquiry and obviate all investigation.
A perusal of Mr. Disney's letter will show that the fads dwelt upon by him in so clear and pointed a manner, are of the gravest and most vital character to all parties concerned; and not less so, therefore, to the Secretaries, whose integrity they virtually impeach—men who in their personal and official character, ought to be free page 10 from the slightest taint of suspicion; and so fully aware of this was Mr. Venn himself, that he called upon Archdeacon Wm. Williams Jan. 20, 1852, as we have seen, to withdraw the imputation he bad cast upon the Committee and Secretaries.
It is important to notice however, that Mr. Disney did not call upon the Committee to open again the whole question; but merely to reconsider their own erroneous representations, made in their official "Reply" to the statement of the Rev. E. G. Marsh; and might it not therefore with reason have been concluded, that when errors so numerous and startling were brought to their notice, errors originating with, or sanctioned by themselves, and produced, as before God, in evidence against men, whom they were bound rather to uphold than to repudiate, to defend rather than to accuse and condemn, they would have been the first to reconsider their acts, to think upon their ways, and make all the reparation in their power.
Now from the particulars we have considered the following results appear;—that Mr. Venn and the Committee were obliged to endure the imputation cast upon them by Archdeacon Wm. Williams in bis letter to the Earl of Chichester Dec. 20, 1852; that by the resolution of the Committee thereupon, their inability to refute the statements of the Archdeacon is tacitly admitted, as well as the justice of the accusation brought against them of misrepresentation, as evidenced by Mr. Disney's letter; and thus the validity of their own assertions is annulled.—And yet with characteristic pertinacity, they endeavour to quash the accusation against themselves involved in Mr. Disney's exposition of facts, by the statement of their resolution; "that in the case of the Rev. Archdeacon Henry Williams, they proceeded not upon the particular statements in question:" although be it remembered, the particular statements in question, were adduced, as evidence by the Committee in their "Reply !" And we may therefore well ask,—why did the particular statements in question, seeing they were brought forward as evidence against the conduct, and affecting as they do the character of the defendant, not constitute also a part of the basis of the resolution? If the official reply to the Rev. E. G. Marsh be examined, it will be found to bear strictly upon missionary delinquency; and yet by the resolution in question it is declared to have had no part in the page 11 decision of the Committee! Surely evasions and inconsistencies like these are derogatory to the dignity of so great a Society, and unworthy of men who are entrusted with the duly of deliberating upon, and directing its affairs: and yet alas! this is in keeping with their conduct throughout the whole affair.
Mr. Disney points out several of the gravest errors, which the secretaries have made no attempt to correct or deny; on the other hand Mr. Venn, supporting the spirit and design of the resolution, passed January 10, 1853; and as if to add mystery to mystery—would that we could say not iniquity to iniquity—wrote to the Key. Mr. Disney January 28, 1853, in the following terms: "further explanation by correspondence can be of no service towards enabling you to understand the grounds on which the Committee have proceeded." But why this mystery! If ou the part of the Committee and Secretaries there were any desire to explain, why should not Mr. Disney understand? Mr. Venu knew well that it was neither his design nor intention to enable Mr. Disney to understand "the grounds ou which the Committee proceeded and he writes therefore with the official importance and confidence of one who securely fell, that Mr. Disney could not otherwise obtain, that knowledge of the mystery he desired, which would make the motive and policy of the Committee soluble and clear.
Seeing then that Mr. Venn refuses to explain: refuses to enable us "to understand the grounds on which the Committee proceeded;" it is our aim to ascertain them independently of his aid, though rendered difficult and intricate by his (Mr. Venn's) doublings and evasions. We always supposed, that "the grounds on which the Committee proceeded," were sel forth in their resolution of November 22, 1849; though, as these have been since shown to be utterly untenable, this has been conveniently denied by Mr. Venn.
Happily, however, the Blue Books, the Parliamentary papers furnish us with those particulars which Mr. Venn and his supporters would withhold. These documents disclose the whole mystery—unravel the whole tissue of deception and present unquestionable evidence, that the conduct of the Secretaries and Committee, in ill beginning, continuance and end, finds ils explanation in an unworthy, unrighteous scheme of political collusion.page 12
The grounds on which the Committee proceeded, though refused to be made known to Mr. Disney, the Committee have themselves stated in a Paper forwarded to the Secretary of State and printed amongst the State papers in the Blue Book of August 1850, p. 149, from which we give merely the following heading; "Extracts from minutes of Committee of correspondence Nov. 20, 1849, New Zealand Mission."
"Forwarded by Earl Chichester to Lord Grey, May 31, 1851.
The consideration of the despatches from New Zealand, respecting Archdeacon Hy. Williams.
Resolved 1st and 2d "—."
These resolutions declaring the dissolution of the connexion between Archdeacon Hy. Williams and the Church Missionary Society are so well known, that it is unnecessary to insert them here. "The despatches" however, the consideration of which is alluded to are disgraceful impositions on the Government, forming as they do, a mere tissue of secret insinuation and unsustained assertion, in no single instance corroborated by evidence of fact, though investigation was repeatedly desired, and even urgently demanded, by the accused.
These despatches which appear in the Blue Books for 1847, 48, 49 and 50 should be examined with care, in order to understand clearly the deceptive grounds, on which the Committee proceeded in discontinuing their connexion with Archdeacon Hy. Williams.
The Missionaries are charged in these official documents, with embarrassing the Government by their proceedings; and in that of August 2, 1847, they are also specially charged with having occasioned the war between the aborigiues and the Government. In New Zealand, the scene of the dispute, these despatches have been condemned by the unanimous voice of the Public as fictitious, both in their statements and facts; nevertheless, these mendacious documents, were accepted in evidence, and confirmed by the Committee as appears from their Reports for 1848 and 1849 and Jubilee Volume. Yet, though afterwards compelled to rescind their act of confirmation, as appears from their report for 1851, p. 223: the evil effect of their inconsistency and error, in refusing to rescind the resolution, which determined the dissolution of their connexion with their Missionary Archdeacon Hv. Williams, has been suffered page 13 to remain to this day unrevoked, a deed of unrighteousness to the Archdeacon and of scandal and offence to the Church.
From the above Parliamentary evidence, "the grounds on which the Committee proceeded" become clear: and hence the difficulty in which Mr. Venn and the Committee have involved themselves. Having compromised both principle and character by their collusion with the Secretary of State and Parliament, it became both difficult to alter their policy, and to acknowledge before the Public, that they had acted on partial, mistaken and worthless evidence. Indeed, the official communication, made Nov. 20, 1849 by the President of the Church Missionary Society to the Secretary of State, rather shows the ready but indiscreet compliance of the Committee to meet the desire of Earl and Governor Grey, and to effect the separation of Archdeacon Hy. Williams from the Missionary Society, ou Political grounds alone.
The Blue Book for 1818, p. 186, contains a letter (Feb. 8, 1818) from the Church Missionary Society to Governor Grey, in the margin of which are given the dates of certain despatches brought to the consideration of the Committee by the Secretary of State and containing the wellknown malicious charges against the Missionaries. These charges are now acknowledged by the Committee themselves to be false: but in this said letter, prejudging the tried and faithful servants of the Society, they expressed "their thanks" and "gratitude" to Governor Grey for his impeachment of their Missionaries!
In the Blue Book for 1819 a fresh series of despatches appeared, of the same style and character as the former, all of which have been stamped with the public reprobation in New Zealand.
The perusal of the evidence produced by the Reports of the Society for 1848, 1849 and Jubilee Volume; the resolution in the Report 1851 p. 223; "the Statement" of the Rev. E. Marsh, Aug. 30, 1851: the Rev. II. Venn s "Reply" Oct. 13, 1851: the Rev. E. G. Marsh's letter Nov. 1851, and Oct. 28, 1852: Archdeacon Wm. Williams' letter of December 1851 and that of the Rev. J. K. Disney Dec. 29, 1852; w ith the closing resolution of the Committee Jan. 10, 1853, and finally "a Page from the History of New Zealand'" by Metoikos, reveals an amount of dereliction in official duly on the part of the Committee and page 14 Secretaries of the Church Missionary Society unparallelled in prevarication and glaring inconsistency. That Governor Grey should have played the part he has, is not surprising: it was in character: he had his political designs to carry out, and no matter to him at what expense of character or money: but that the Committee, after having been lured into his snare, and discovering the deception, should shrink from an open and full investigation, appears altogether inexcusable, and ill accords with the truthfulness and plain dealing required from the Officers of a Christian Society.
It has been staled by a Clergyman in no way related to the persons who have been so grievously injured by false accusations, and who gave his vote against Archdeacon My. Williams, that, at that lime, he was perfectly ignorant of the real state of the question; that the Committee were were equally uninformed with himself; and that from the evidence adduced by Mr. Venn it was impossible for the Committee to have come to a different conclusion. Evidently then, Mr. Venn knew well what evidence to adduce and what to withhold in order to accomplish his unrighteous aim; and how safely, from his position to the Society, his influence over the Committee, and his entire control over all the necessary evidence, be could negative all demands for serutiny into his proceeding. Thus all explanation is withheld and secret and libellous comminucations received and acted upon by the Committee, as shown in "the Statement" by the Rev. E. G. Marsh p. 17. Any impartial inquirer into the actual state f the case, is in this way wearied and perplexed, and Mr. Venn by his wily and tortuous proceedings compasses the iniquitous object he has all along contemplated.
We now ask whether the members of the Church Missionary Society are aware of these inconsistencies and prevarications ou the part of the Secretaries; whether they arc aware that Mr. Venn has been guilty of conduct so grave as the production of partial and spurious evidence to accomplish a predetermined result; these things being manifest by papers published from time to time for the information of the Society, and last of all by "a Page from the History of New Zealand by Metoikos." Are they aware of these things? or being aware of them, are they willing to remain satisfied page 15 with the secret and worldly policy of him, who refuses "to come to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."
Doubt and discredit arc now necessarily cast upon the validity of the reports and proceedings of the Society; and an immediate examination is thus rendered indispensable. A marvellous wrong has been done; the lime is at hand when truth and righteousness must prevail to the utter confusion of those, who by silence or indifference, give sanction to error and deceit; or perpetuate the perpetration of injustice. Confidence once destroyed is not easily to be recovered; "it must needs be that offences come, but woe be to that man by whom the offence cometh."—
December 29th, 1852.
I am exceedingly anxious to call your attention, as a Member of the Committee of the Church Missionary Society, to the present position of the case of Archdeacon Henry Williams.
I apprehend that the Committee are under the impression that there is no difference between them and the friends of Archdeacon H. Williams in regard to facts, but that we dissent from the conclusions which they have drawn from the facts. Were this the case. I, for one, should never have engaged in the controversy, for I should have been disposed to submit my judgment to theirs. What we complain of is, that the Committee have been misinformed us to the facts, the very facts which have mainly influenced them in the conclusion at which they have arrived.
For instance. (1.) They have been told (Reply of Secretaries to Mr. Marsh's letter, p. 3), that so early as the year 1830, the Committee had refused to sanction 200 acres of land for each child of a Missionary on its attaining the age of 15. But they ought at the same time to have been told that this refusal had nothing whatever to do with the amount of land which a Missionary might purchase from his own prictate funds; it was simply, (as appears from the account of the transacton to be found in Appendix v. to the Society's Report for 1839—40, pp. 160—162) a refusal to grant so much land from the Society's funds in lieu of the final allowance to the children of the Missionaries.
(2.) They have been told (Reply p. 4) that they had already dismissed Mr. Fairburn for retaining in his possession an undue amount of land. Whereas Mr. Fairburn's separation from the Society arose from a totally different cause, the nature of which I have page 17 explained on the authority of Archdeacon W. Williams, in a paper which I lately forwarded to the Secretaries to be laid before the Committee.
(3.) They have been told (Reply, p. 6) that Archdeacon Henry Williams purchased his lauds subsequent to the year 1840, when the Committee expressed their strong objection to such purchases. It has since been proved that the Archdeacon's latest purchase was made in 1837.
(4.) The impression has been conveyed (ibid) that the Committee had no knowledge of the extent of the Archdeacon's land purchases, except from Mr. Marsh's statement. But a full account of the extent of those land purchases, together with a rindication by the Committee of the Archdeacon's conduct therein, appears in the Appendix to the Report for 1844-45.
(5.) They were told by the Governor, that the Missionaries could not be pul into possession of their lands without a large expenditure of British blood and money. Whereas in no one instance were they disturbed in the possession of them.
(6.) They were told by the Governor and Lord Grey, that no British subject had a legal claim to more than 2,560 acres of land, and that the land grants of Capt. Fitzroy, so far as they exceeded that amount, were invalid; whereas the Supreme Court of New Zealand decided on June 24, 1848, that the land grants of Capt. Fitzroy were good in law.
(7.) They have been told (Reply, p. 6) that the Committee did not sooner deal with the case of Archdeacon II. Williams, 1st, because they "were very imperfectly informed of these acquisitions of land," and 2ndly, because "the legality of the extended grants being afterwards disputed, they suspended their interference until the result of the Government measures for setting them aside was asccrtaitied." Now in regard to the 1st of these assertions, the Appendix to the Report for 1844-45, shews that instead of being imperfectly informed, they possessed the most exact information; and in regard to the 2nd, strange to say, the Committee in London, passed resolutions June 28th, 1818, based, as Mr. Venn stated in his letter accompanying them, on the supposition that the Governor's page 18 view of the law was correct, three days after the Supreme Court of New Zealand, had declared that it was erroneous!
(8.) They were informed by by Bishop that Archdeacon Henry Williams had made a promise to abide by his proposal, and that he afterwards withdrew that promise. But the Bishop in making this statement, suppressed a most material purl of the Archdeacon's paper, from which it appears that the Archdeacon's promise was consequent upon a promise made by the Bishop himself, which promise the Bishop failed to keep. The Archdeacon's paper in this garbled form, has been inserted by the Secretaries in their "Heply," p. 12, and is there made the foundation of the like charge against him of breach of promise.
I trust it will be understood that I charge no one with intentional misrepresentation: I only maintain that the statements to which I have referred are erroneous. It can hardly be necessary to shew that these allegations were material, and must have had a great influence on the minds of the members of the Committee. I was present at a Meeting of the Committee on March 8th, 1852, when several members spoke on the subject. One urged Mr. Fairburn's case as binding them in justice to act in the same way by the Archdeacon, Another assured me that the Committee when they passed their Resolutions in 1817, had no conception of the extent of the Archdeacon's land. And another commented very severely on the obscurity of his statements in regard to its extent; so little were they aware that the Appendix to the Report for 1844-45 contained accurate information respecting it. The breach between the Committee and the Archdeacon, may be traced entirely to the error into which the Committee were led concerning the legality of his title to more than 2,560 acres of land. In February, 1847, they disclaimed "all power or desire to interfere with the private property of their Missionaries only requiring them to keep in their own possession no more land than the Governor and Bishop jointly might see fit, and "leaving to their own decision the mode of disposing of' the remainder. In June, 1848, they peremptorily required the Archdeacon, on pain of dismissal, to renew his consent to the proposal of the Bishop, namely that he should accept of 2,560 acres, and that the surplus should be restored to the native page 19 owners. Whence this difference between the resolutions? In 1847 they believed the Archdeacon had a legal right to the whole of the lands for which he had received grants from Capt. Fitzroy; in 1848, they believed that he had no legal right to more han the 2,560 acres offered by the Governor. This may be proved undeniably, by Mr. Venn's letter to Archdeacon H. Williams accompanying the Resolutions of June 27, 1848. "It appears that you dispute the alleged illegality of the extended grants of Governor Fitzroy; but after the declaration of their illegality by Earl Grey, the Committee feel themselves bound to treat them in that light, and that there should be no hesitation on your part in giving them up to the Government, to be disposed of as the Government think right. At the time at which the Parent Committee adopted its Resolutions, 22nd February, 1847, they presumed that the extended grants were legal; the contrary decision of the Colonial Office, had not then been pronounced, as it has since been, against their validity."
I think I have now said enough, and more than enough, to shew how much the Committee have been influenced by these misstatements; and how, I ask, can it be expected that the friends of the Archdeacon should acquiesce in their decision, when they know them to have been wholly misinformed in respect to the facts on which they based that decision? My confidence in the justice of the Committee is my excuse for troubling yon with this letter.
Your faithful Servant in Christ,
James W. K. Disney,Incumbent of Christ Church, Newark.