The Lyttelton Times. December 20, 1851.
Our first birthday is past,—and we have celebrated the event as a public festival with every manifestation of public rejoicing;. This is the best comment upon the events of the past year: notwithstanding the disappointment which many have experienced, for disappointment is an inevitable companion in all the undertakings of mortal men, it has been recognized by the great mass of the population of this settlement that it is good for them to be here. Let us review briefly the history of our settlement.
The first ships arrived on the 16th of December, 1850. The colonists found upon landing a small town laid out and prepared for their reception,—prepared to the extent of a good jetty for landing goods, a wharf along the sea, streets cut and levelled, barracks built for shelter, a store for warehousing goods. There were two public houses, and one 'private store, and some few small wliares. They soon found however, that Lyttelton was not Canterbury. The promised land was not yet attained. Those who surmounted the mountain barrier told of the plains beyond, and it was clear to all that on the plains was the desired place of habitation.
Then arose the first great difficulty. The road was not opened. There was not even a bridle track for travellers ; to convey luggage across the mountains was impossible. The communication by water was the only one available, but even that was intercepted by a bar at the mouth of the river, and a sea always boisterous in the easterly winds of summer, surrounding the bar with much real and ten-fold imaginary danger. And if there had been no bar, there were but some half dozen small boats, whilst more than a thousand tons of luggage was waiting for conveyance.
This was the state of affairs when the first meeting of the colonists took place. They decided that Christchurch on the plains should be the capital, in spite of the difficulty of getting there. The work commenced in earnest; boats plied as fast as they could, whilst gentle women and tender children plodded their way across the hills and through the swamps to arrive at homes which were still amongst the things to be. The bridle path, however, was soon finished, and the way became easier; in answer to the demand boats came in from the neighbouring settlements, and freights became more reasonable. Saws were busy iv Riccarton bush, and materials for building were provided. But the most cheering and most important event was the speedy selection of their properties by the land-purchasers, by which the mass of labour at iirst pent up in tfee narrow limits of the port town, flowed.out upon the land.
Very shortly after the colonists arrived, it was -determined to abandon the Stunner road, and to devote the funds at the disposal of the Agent to the accomplishment of such works as were within present means. Experience has completely justified this policy. The road from the ferry to Christchurch alone has been of infinite service to the colonists, whilst the sum which it cost, spent in the still incomplete Suinner road, would have been sunk without any corresponding benefit.
Since the opening of that road, Christchurch has rapidly increased, and farms have sj rung up in its neighbourhood. So that now the traveller who takes his place in the public car
which runs daily from the ferry to the Capital, finds it hard to recall the dreary and uninhabited waste over which he toiled through water courses and swamps when he first arrived in the settlement. The land-office was quickly run up, and houses clustered round it. The temporary church followed, and new roads are spreading, like spider's legs, in all directions, from the centre of civilization in the new colony. For accurate statistical information as to our progress, we shall look anxiously for the publication of the Census which has recently been taken by the Government. We believe, however, it will be found that the population of the settlement considerably exceeds three thousand souls. Eighteen ships have arrived which must have brought nearly that number, in addition to which there was a population of two or three hundred when we arrived, chiefly employed on the works of the Association; and many hundred persons must have since arrived from the neighbouring colonies. There cannot be less than 550 acres from which crops will be gathered at the first harvest, and there must be four times that quantity of land efficiently fenced. The importation of stock has been attended Avith great difficulty, but there are above 30,000 sheep in, or in the immediate neighbourhood of our district, besides cattle and horses. So many of the colonists are now turning their attention to pastoral occupations, that we may soon expect to see this number but a small fraction of the annual return.
Such has been the physical progress made. To those who are acquainted with the history of other settlements it is full of hopeful promise for the future.
Turning to the political aspect of affairs, if we have less to congratulate ourselves on for the past, we have scarcely less to hope for the future. Looking beyond the immediate boundary of our limited political horizon, we may remark that Canterbury has been founded at a time when the great battle which the southern colonies have been fighting is almost won. It seems inevitable that before long all the important and valuable features of the British constitution will be applied to the government of each. In the mean time we have been most fortunate in displaying a unanimity in politics almost unexampled, and, what is scarcely less a matter of congratulation, a total absence of political excitement, and political agitation, except only when we were called on by his Excellency to declare our sentiments.
Nor can we conclude these remarks without noticing the relation in which we stand to our elder sisters, the other settlements in New Zealand. Something of irritation no doubt there was, something scarcely friendly on their parts towards us at first, a feeling certainly caused, perhapsjustih'ed,by the unconsciously grand and big way in which we talked, and were talked of whilst yet in England. That feeling has wholly disappeared, a result equally creditable to our friends here and in other settlements of this colony. Lyttelton has much to thank the Wellington settlers for, a good deal of capital, most of the best shops, and much general assistance has been derived from old Wellington settlers. Nothing could be more discreditable to ourselves, or more disastrous to the colony at large, than the revival of any unworthy rivalry between fellow-citizens and fellow-labourers.
Nor are we less baclcward in acknowledging the debt we owe to the Australian colonists who have joined our ranks. They have brought us not only capital, but experience ; valuable knowledge in the especial craft of a colony, the production of wool ; and they receive from us in return the forms and fashions of civilized life at a reasonable distance from their squatters'
Such has then been our first year's work; —
small indeed compared with that which we once contemplated might have been done; but far from mean when compared with similar undertakings. Failure, so far as the original scheme of this settlement has been a failure, may have taught us some useful lessons, and impressed upon our community a more healthy tone; but all will admit that when the Canterbury Association dies, as we hope it soon may, with its honours green about its brows, it will not only have achieved a great and admirable work, but will leave behind it an example to governments, of how much might be accomplished by a wise system of colonization, vigorously, ably, and wisely conducted.
We are authorized to state that Mr. Godley has resigned the office of Resident Magistrate, and that his Excellency has been pleased to confer it upon Captain Simeon.
There are probably few who will not deeply regret the loss of Mr. Godley's services in the Resident Magistrate's Court. Those services were placed at the disposal of the colony gratuitously, in the most critical period of its existence. And apart from the mere economical consideration of expence saved, there has been on the whole great advantage gained by uniting the chief authority in different departments in one person. This arrangement was, however, necessarily of a temporary nature; the increasing amount of business in the Resident Magistrate's Court would alone have necessitated a new distribution of offices. It is, however, a matter of great congratulation that the appointment has been conferred upon Capt. Simeon. Capt. Simeon was strongly recommended by the Association to Earl Grey, and by Earl Grey to his Excellency. He is a laud-owner in the settlement, deeply attached to the principles on which it was founded, and deeply interested in its success. A soldier, and a gentleman of good family, good character, good abilities, and good address, he is in every way entitled to, and qualified for, the situation he is called on to fill. And above all, he is personally known to many of the settlers, having occupied the position (if Cbairiran of the meetings of the colonists in the rooms in the Adelphi, for several months after the departure of the first four ships. It has been our duty often to attack his Excellency's dealings, sometimes in strong though deserving terms ; but we cannot remain silent when the "policy meets with our approbation, and we are sure that Sir George Grey could not have exercised his patronage more judiciously, or in a manner more grateful to the feelings of the Canterbury settlers than in the appointment of Captain Simeon to the office of Resident Magistrate.
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The Lyttelton Times. December 20, 1851., Lyttelton Times, Volume I, Issue 50, 20 December 1851
The Lyttelton Times. December 20, 1851. Lyttelton Times, Volume I, Issue 50, 20 December 1851
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