Charlotte Weale to Frederick Chesson, 12 August 1884, C149/143

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Weale, Charlotte









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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C149-143


Tuesday Evg
22 Montague Place W.C.

Your note, my dear sir, has just come. I hope the maories will each be heard as to that wh they wish to do. A friend of mine was here today who is a very clever capable woman and she was struck with the lack of intelligence and manners of Mr Spencer and also in his disparaging tone as to the maories and to the maories as to the intentions of our governt towards them. To say to them that the governt wd ‘like them all to clear out’ ect is not the way to help them to do their duty, so much so that Te Wheoro asked me if the Bp of London cd be got to listen to their grievances and speak in the House and get them a hearing in a private committee of the House. He began to be distrustful even of Mr Gorst or any one at the Colonial Office. Mr Spencer urged Te Wheoro to stay, and the next moment said he did not think it would do any good. There was a foregone conclusion he felt sure and they wd not receive justice that bringing the king had hopelessly damaged their cause, also being at Mrs Saintsbury’s house he harped on in that fashion until the maories very naturally said we all go or we all stay. And when he though he had best write their letter, he shd make short work with it. Tawhiao got up excitedly and putting the pen into Skidmore’s hand told him to write and they bandied words uncomfortably until Mr Spencer exclaimed to my friend I am sick and tire of these fellows, there is to getting them to attend to business. I was glad that she remarked ‘they look possessed of capital brain power but naturally each man desires to have his say as to anything important to be written and this is very important to them.’ ‘All useless labour’ remarked Mr Spencer but I shd like Te Wheoro to remain in England he is a fine fellow and wd improve and be a credit and if the others were gone I wd do something with him and get Lord Shaftesbury to notice him but as for Tawhiao he is a senseless man. It ended in getting Tawhiao to be on the sofa without his boots wrapped over with one of my maori mats and Te Wheoro set to work writing and Skidmore [between?] them and I and my friend came in here to my bedroom when she exclaimed that Mr Spencer was a gross creature etc etc. Mr Spencer wished them to go back to NZ next week or the week after and the king said he must wait until the Lord Mayor got a reply from Lord Derby. ‘It will do you no good if you do see the Queen. Lord Derby is ready with words and that is the truth unpalatable tho it be.’ Then where is the good of my staying on in England observed Te Wheoro, only to find each endeavour a failure. I asked Skidmore what they were saying, their talk was so loud. And I pulled out Lord Derby’s speech in the dinner the one to the deputation and said the Earl wishes to see justice accorded to the maori and also to the English. ‘Its good to hear that, find us a friend to stand by us not one talking so much to the other side’ was Te Wheoro’s reply. ‘Of course I hear what Sir Dillon Bell and the Colonial Office have to say and know more abt it than either Miss Weale or Mr Chesson or anyone else can’ was Mr Spencer’s rejoinder. Mr Spencer’s plan of wishing Te Wheoro to stay at Clapham whilst he … as he calls it may do for Te Wheoro tho I doubt 2 or 3 months of that life being good for him, but Te Tahwiao will do with Mrs Grace until cold weather comes but Rickmansworth is very cold and maories go down with [ruin?] so soon as cold damp sets in.

She is a sincerely good woman but her ideas as to housekeeping are very narrow and Tawhiao needs a really good diet and he wd not be happy alone without Skidmore. As to Lichfield Mrs Selwyn in her letter some while back said she felt her age 75 and whilst not ill cd not ask the maories to Lichfield as she was unequal to the fatigue. Lichfield is a very foggy cold climate and wd not suit any maori constitution after Sept I feel sure and there is no one at Lichfield who would accept to care for Tawhiao I feel sure. Have you heard what Patara and Topia and Ropiha have to say abt Tawhiao and Te Wheoro remaining. The subject needs looking at all round. The maories were right in telling Mr Spencer they cd not at … elect how many berths he shd take for them in the … by tomorrow, the arrangements needed more than a few hours consideration. When Mr Spencer was out of the way Te Wheoro’s remark was ‘who can we trust?! I want a man very straight in his walk very independent in word and deed to deal with, who wont pretend and then go and give his version to the other side, and then he told Skidmore to say that I was to watch and keep my eyes open and that he wished I wd speedily learn maori.’ These maories are straightforward and are puzzled. Mr Spencer says that if Sir George Grey gets into office he will be no friend to the maori. Then Mr Spencer reiterated his statement … as he calls it sticks to, that tho he considers the governt have wronged the maories as to their lands and played false to them yet that the really best thing that cd happen wd be that the maories should have no land and no maney except that wch they wd earn by working for their daily bread and he then again repeated that absurd idea of his that no man will work unless he is obliged and that the maories wd thrive if they would take a humbler position. Mrs Grace I have asked to come on Saturday, as she wished to make my personal acquaintance and all the maories with G. Skidmore are to be here and Mr Spencer who will be glad not to be asked he frankly told me will be absent. If you and Mrs Chesson could come up in the course of the afternoon on Saturday I shd be so grateful as I think between us all something will be settled but will not now thrust my plans before you but wait till we meet. Its useless to wish that someone not of the narrow and feeble sort cd be found as interpreter, cd you ascertain abt Mr Fred Maunsell if he is in town and his address as he is a son of archdeacon Maunsell a Ch Miss Society clergyman in NW that society wd know his whereabouts. Cd you write to the Ch Mission House in Salisbury Square and ascertain? The Maunsells have some wits and he is a layman. I know that if one cant get a 1st class man one shd try and work on with a 3rd class. But that wch I hate is that he disparages the maories and then to the maories disparages the Colonial Office and the English, tells them justice is only a name. He remarks all tend to shake their faith in everyone. At last they exclaimed ‘nothing then to be done’ in English T Wheoro said it, and then the brilliant idea struck Mr Spencer ‘how wd it be if the maories write a letter straight to the queen. I suppose she gets letters by post the same as other people and I cd translate it then they wd at all events obtain a reply. A queen ought to be accessible to her people.’ Its well I have a grave face, for a clergyman in these day, and actually as he so often asserts, in the pay of the Colonial Office, to propose before these maories in English as well as to them in maori, such a procedure. I was obliged to tell the maories that an epistle thus sent wd damage their cause and be a very ungentlemanly … that great men were always able to wait and only little nobodies wd approach Her Majesty otherwise than according to court rules and then alluded to some points of native custom and how they appreciated their own aristocratic courtesies. It felt almost lacking in due respect to Mr Spencer to express ones opinion so strongly but he had been quite in fault in sugging to them such a plan. They listened with deep attention and then replied ‘very good, very good’ and clapped themselves vigourously making me vapid compliments with most emphatic gesticulations. If you and Mr Rusden had been here you wd have enjoyed the scene.

I … wish you to tell me on Saturday what you think about Topia whether we shd ask him if he wishes to see a priest and then quire if there is one now in London able to speak maori. I heartily wish Topia and Rapiha were not at that Tailor’s lodging. I gave Tawhiao 2 pigeons, knowing the maori belief ‘that it’s a bird to give courage.’ He admired their feathers but did so wish he cd have seen them flaying and then he got quite excited and begged I wd tell him where in England he cd see wild pigeons flying free for he wd like to journey to that part wh wd be like a visit to New Zealand. Te Wheoro also got wild with delight, they began imitating the coo coo and cries of birds and such a piteous hungering look came over their faces and how many miles off I was asked is it to there birds cd be heard not in cages but in tress. Mr Spencer thought it a most childish desire, when to me it seemed only natural and very innocent desire. Rickmansworth would be better than Clapham for Te Wheoro and until Mr Gorst needed their presence if they were to remain a month in one place and a month in another it wd do them good. If both remain in England until Nov. Wh I gather from yr note is that wh you recommend. Skimore will need weaning from drink, he pays frequent visits to the public house tho Mrs Saintsbury gives him claret and lemonade to keep him from tippling. I told Te Wheoro that much of their wish to see the Queen or the Prince … the mortification they wd feel if when they got home their neighbours wd say ‘behold the Ngapuhi 21 years ago and 20 years ago spoke to the queen, and two years ago the three from Ngapuhi had an interview with the Prince and Princess and behold formerly the Ngapuhi and Waikato were enemies. The answer was that I read their thoughts. Then I added a few words as to how Christ’s love in the hearts of both tribes had caused fights to leave and now if disappointment arose the love of God must grow stronger in their hearts and cast out all the envy and resentment etc. Instantly the maories began the details of … in certain family thro a marriage and wished judgement to be expressed and when … it strongly they were greatly amused and delighted and set Mr Spencer laughing saying they disliked and distrusted vague replies and shilly shallying, and the king exclaimed judgement shd be given with confidence and if an opponent expresses himself with authority and as a wise man gives his verdict with calm assurance, no shame is felt in submitting to the decision as wise men know the … of their wisdom. I apologized to Mr Spencer for tiring him with such talk but said the maories and myself were all the happier for … together and such hearty…

You will perhaps be overtired with reading my scribble but its these sorts of details wh tell a good deal. I am glad that the maories are going to Pangbourne and Reading for a little fresh air will do them good. The air tastes and smells so of smoke. I am sorry that Te Wheoro is not to go. Mr Spencer said there was too much business for him to attend to, to be able to go. Te Wheoro went nearly to sleep on the sofa here today and said he was worn out with his cough and the heat and gets next to no sleep. I can’t sleep for the noise of the horses in the stables as the back is great so I feel for the maories and wish they cd get into the country, not sightseeing but for a quiet day on Friday. Mr Spencer is not a man to plan …an outing. …

Yrs sincerely C. Weale