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The New Zealand Journal, Saturday, November 07 (1840)

261

The Plymouth New Zealand Gathering.

The present number of our paper contains another interesting chapter of the history of New Zealand Colonisation, in the shape of a very copious report of the proceedings of the great meeting held at Plymouth on Friday week, to celebrate the departure of the first expedition of the Plymouth Company of New Zealand.
This Company, as our readers are well aware, was formed early in the present year; and on the list of its Directors are enrolled some of the best names in the counties of Cornwall and Devon. Of its object and plan we have already published ample details; all that we need now say is, that its success is commensurate with the judgment and energy with which its operations have been conducted.
The report which we now print will afford all necessary particulars of the arrangements, the decorations, and even the viands; but, from the representations which eye-witnesses have made to us, it does not convey an adequate conception of the great enthusiasm evinced by every one who assisted at the banquet—the deep interest which all seemed to feel in the subject which called them together. Those who have been accustomed to the comparative coldness of a metropolitan meeting can have no conception of the vivid animation which marked the Plymouth banquet. The frequent "cheers," and "hears," appear in our pages in the usual type; but they represent something very different from those cold conventionalities to which we are accustomed. Every individual present appeared to evince a vivid interest in the business which called them together; every expression uttered by the speakers was appreciated and felt; all seemed to be participators in the proceedings, rather than mere spectators; and, altogether, the scene is described as most cheering.
As to the speeches, the reader will perceive that they were to the purpose. Taken together, they unfold a most striking portion of the history of our times. Lord Eliot described the manner in which he became interested in the subject of New Zealand colonization, and the circumstances which led to the formation of the Committee of last session; and he generously acknowledged the assistance he had received from Mr. Wakefield and others, who had "enabled him thoroughly to investigate the subject under discussion." The generosity of this declaration, in a case in which really so much was due to Lord Eliot's personal exertions and ability, was fully appreciated, and drew down hearty cheers.
Sir Wm. Molesworth handled the subject, which he well unstands, in a masterly manner. His address had more the character of an able essay than a mere speech, and the manner in which it was appreciated shows that Sir William knew the character of his audience Although his address was extremely scientific in its character, it was, nevertheless, listened to with profound attention—a proof, as the Colonial Gazette well observes, "how great an advance the subject must recently have made in public appreciation."
But the most important communication was that which was made to the meeting by Mr. E. G. Wakefield, relative to the final adjustment of all the differences which had existed between the Government and the New Zealand Company. The manner in which the Company have been opposed and thwarted in every possible way by what may be called the Church Missionary section of the Colonial Office, is well-known to our readers. The proclamation of Captain Hobson, declaring New Zealand a British Colony, seems to have been the precursor of a better spirit, and we now learn that the negociations between the Company and the Colonial Minister are in a most satisfactory state. It is believed that this, and several other recent measures, in opposition to former Colonial Office policy, are Lord John Russell's own acts; and as we appreciate their value, so also are we ready to acknowledge the spirit in which they are made. We have been often disposed to separate the Colonial Secretary from the mischievousness as well as the meanness of "the office;" but we confess we did not anticipate that the separation would turn out to be so complete. It will be seen that the official communication made by Mr. Wakefield, that Lord John Russell's disposition is perfectly conciliatory: his Lordship cannot anticipate, that in the arrangements he is about to propose, "there will be any conditions to which the Company will entertain any serious objection;" and, as the Company have already shown, they will make any reasonable sacrifice for the purpose of promoting a satisfactory settlement of all disputed questions.
We had hopes that we should have been able to lay before our readers the details of Lord John Russell's plan, but we are sorry to say, we have nothing to add to Mr. Wakefield's communication, which we recommend to the attentive perusal of our readers.
Thus much we can say, that one of the results of the arrangement will necessarily be a very extensive Spring emigration. This is obviously the great end which alone renders an arrangement valuable. Another consequence will probably be, that Captain Hobson will be instructed to make Wellington the seat of his government. It is, by natural position, the commercial capital; it is about to be constituted the ecclesiastical metropolis; and good policy should also make it the seat of government, for which, as we have already shown, it is admirably adapted.
A further consequence of an arrangement is, that New Zealand will be relieved from the blessings of Sydney legislation. The free men of Port Nicholson will not be subjected to the laws of New South Wales, adapted for a community a large proportion of which either are, or have been, felons; and the colonists will be enabled to continue that freedom which has already made the trade of the islands much greater than their undeveloped resources would have generated. Freedom of trade is all that New Zealand requires to render both Port Nicholson and the Bay of Islands great commercial stations, and that freedom is unknown to the laws of New South Wales.
Mr. Wakefield's communication, it will be seen, induced Lord Eliot to propose the health of Lord John Russell. As this toast appeared to be wholly unpremeditated, as it was evidently the spontaneous emanation of a generous mind, it produced a prodigious effect upon the company. The applause it elicited was of the most vehement character, which may be set down partly to the subject of the toast, and partly to the spirit in which it was proposed.

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