John William Akerman to Henry Bulwer, 12 June 1876
Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C123 – 7
Author(s): John William Akerman
Recipient(s): Henry Bulwer
Sent from: Natal
Date: 12 June 1876
Copy of letter not sent to the Governor
June 12 1876
Dear Sir Henry,
I have to thank you for the reply of the 10th instant to my former note as it removes the possibility of a misunderstanding with reference to our conversation.
I desire in no [wise?] to presume to induce your Excellency to swerve from what you deem to be your duty, nor to impose on your any addition to it whether I regard its interpretation as somewhat rigidly literal or not.
My purpose in prefering the request that I should be named to the Secretary of State as the senior by vote of the Council as well as in all other respects, was to save his Lordship from the unpleasant predicament of discovering when too late that for want of information he had unwitingly given precidence to a junior. That Your Excellency has received no documentary or official request to convey such information to Lord Carnarvon I readily admit, yet fully believing as I do that the two delegates selected by Natal will not be permitted to visit England without one at least being summoned to sit at the conference; and remembering the literal construction placed by His Lordship on former resolutions of the Council relating to this subject it seems to me incredible to suppose that trifling information or incompleteness will be permitted to render the mission …
I submit further that inasmuch as the act of the Council duly recorded in its minutes honored me with a majority of votes, should both delegates not be admitted to this conference, the summoning of myself thereto could not be regarded as imposing a nomination upon the Secretary of State but rather as a compliance with the usual form of procedure regulating such cases, that is by seniority, and a proper fulfilment of the spirit of the address passed by the Council. But it is requisite for the Secretary of State to be make aware of the seniority.
While however … bowing to your decision regarding your duty in present instance that you ought to refrain from suggesting anything that would suggest to the Secretary of State the thought that with Him vested the nomination of one delegation; permit me respectfully to remind you that to convey any expression of opinion to the Secretary of State as to what were the intentions of the Council as stated in your note that they did not leave thus to the Secretary of State and would be an act scarcely consistent with the narrowed limits of duty as defined by Your Excellency.
If document alone is to control the framing of a covering despatch then let it convey its own interpretation. The address expresses a hope that from certain considerations both delegates may have seats and there it concludes. To this I add, as the fair construction to put upon the address, that should only one be able to sit, the secretary of state would but follow the usual course in all such cases by appointed the first named in the address who is known here to be the senior likewise, and this give effect to the nomination of the Council not by becoming an arbitrary nominator but by acting upon well established and understood rules. I cannot admit that the address means or the Council intends it mean admit both or exclude both. It seeks to obtain all it desires in so doing contains the names of two members in the order of seniority of their election, leaving the issue subject to acknowledged usage. And it is a fact that every public journal in the colony except the one conducted by the junior member has taken just the view that of course Lord Carnarvon would appoint the senior first.
Duly thanking Your Excellency for the kind offer to transmit any representations of mine to the Secretary of State I desire in this case to avail myself of the privilege of direct communication with His Lordship and propose enclosing copies of our correspondence as representing the opinions of both. Much regretting that the least shade of difference should have arisen between us in a question so important to the colony.
Dear Sir Henry
Sir H. Bulwer