British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

37
LIEUT.-COLONEL EDWARD NICOLLS: MEMORIAL SUBMITTED TO LORD BATHURST FOR A MILITARY COLONY IN NEW ZEALAND 8 November 18231

[ Woolwich.]

. . . Your memorialist, having been long impressed with the conviction that in many cases the parent State might, and ought to, be relieved from the expense, vexation, and trouble to which colonization has hitherto subjected it, begs leave to submit to your Lordship's favourable consideration a plan which he humbly conceives would not only exempt the Mother country from the expense usually incurred in such undertakings, but which also in a peculiar degree embraces objects of vital importance to the naval consequence and commercial interests of the British Empire. . . .

[He maintains that a settlement of pensioners under military discipline would obviate the internal factions which had been the bane of most infant colonies, and would also put an end to inter-tribal wars among the Maoris.]

It has been too commonly the practice for settlers from this country, either forcibly to dispossess the natives of those lands which have devolved to them from their forefathers, or to obtain the peaceful resignation of them on certain stipulations which they afterwards deemed it unnecessary to fulfil. This violence in the first, or breach of faith in the latter, instance has been productive of the worst consequences to the settlers themselves, by provoking a just though savage retaliation, and has equally injured the natives by affording them an example and excuse for their ferocious acts.

During the last year, in the midst of an Indian population as wild and sanguinary as the natives of New Zealand, your memorialist learned the absolute necessity of adhering to the strictest rules of equity in all his transactions with them. Their experience of the perfect justice of his dealings induced an equal return of good faith on their part, and he had the happiness by this means of producing amongst them much civilization, and an abandonment of many of their barbarous customs. It is therefore essentially necessary to the success of this plan of colonization that Government should obtain from the

____________________
1
C.O. 201/147, ff. 181-4. Lieut.-Colonel Nicolls of the Royal Marines claimed to have had a long interest in colonization. He had had experience in various parts of the world, had read widely in books of travel and geography, and had already sounded the Southern Whalers on the value of his plan of colonization for New Zealand. (They had themselves entertained the idea of a colony there in 1810 at the time of the Boyd massacre; see H.R.N.Z., vol. i, p. 296.) R. W. Hay seems to have made a few inquiries himself, but no action was taken on Nicolls's plan, though missionary opinion was favourable; see below, pp. 519-20.

-446-

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