The Sydney Herald.
MONDAY, APRIL 1, 1833.
" Sworn to no Master, of no Sect am I."
BESIDES the numerous publications noticed by us in a late paper, which had issued from the Eng- lish press, in June and August, respecting this Colony, and adjacent Islands, we have to state,
that " A memorial from Mr. Burnet to the Direc-
tors of tile Australian Agricultural Company" was also published about the same time, with the others, and in addition, that on the 1st of November, the following articles also appeared-" View of the Progress of Interior Discovery in New South Wales, by Allan Cunningham ;" " Notices of New Zea- land, from Original Documents in the Colonial Of- fice;" and " Recent Information from Australia." These appeared in the 2nd volume of the " Trans- actions of the Geographical Society of London." " A Natural History of the Mauritius" had also appeared, by the celebrated Botanist and Secretary Charles Telfair. An appendix to a work on " Se- condary Punishments," by Archbishop Whately, contained a long discussion on the propriety of continuing this Country as a Penal Settlement. Besides these, there was a re-publication of "Dykes Guide to Emigrants to New South Wales." These publications prove that some interest is taken in our affairs by our friends in the Mother Country, and that if it is profitable to publish such works, the number of readers must be considerable who desire to appreciate the capabilities of our infant Colonies
We copy from the Sydney Gazette the following letter, by Mr. ATKINSON, of Oldbury, in reply to the Secretary of the
Committee of the Petition for a House of
Assembly for the Colony of New South Wales. The letter is entitled to the greatest attention from the Colonists, on account of the sound principles which it contains, and the moral courage displayed in its publication :-
" Oldbury, 19th March, 1833.
" SIR-I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 20th ult., acquainting me that the General Committee for carrying into effect the Resolutions and Petitions agreed to at the Meeting on the 26th January last, had invited me to become a member of their Committee, and to act as a member of the Branch Committee for the district of Bong Bong.
" After maturely considering the subject, I re- gret to be under the necessity of declining the ho-
or intended me, because I cannot conscientiously support the Petition in question ; and I shall now take the liberty, with the candour which I hope to be consistent with the character I have endeavoured to support through life, to state my reasons for dis- senting from the Petition.
" I have been brought up to admire and revere the British Constitution, and have all my life che- rished those feelings with peculiar care ; and I am also as fully impressed as the most strenuous sup- porter of the Petition can be, with a firm conviction of the inadequacy of our present institutions for the advancing state of the Colony, and the necessity of a change ; yet I must be allowed to say, that I do not think the present Petition calculated to
effect the end desired.
" In the discussions in the House of Commons when our last Petition was presented, the abstract right of all free British subjects to partake in the free institutions of their native land, was fully ad- mitted by all parties. The question therefore be- comes narrowed to one of expediency, and all we have to do is to make out a good case, to the satis- faction of the House of Commons_1st, That a Legislative Assembly is necessary-and, 2ndly, That our population is in a fit state to admit of its introduction, with advantage to ourselves. The first point I consider as sufficiently made out by the amount of our revenue, and the extent of our agri- culture and trade. It is on the second point that I consider the Petition as defective; and this is the more to be regretted, because it was on the extent and component parts of our population that the merits of the question were made to rest by the va- rious speakers in the House of Commons.
" On this point the Petition asserts much, but proves nothing. I conceive that pains should have been taken to ascertain the number of electors, and of what class of persons they were composed ; and also the number of persons qualified to become can- didates ;- and, therefore, that some few funda- mental principles should have been laid down, to proceed upon, as to the extent and nature of the qualifications for both classes. It will be admitted, I apprehend, that some qualifications will be requi- site ; and I contend that no man, or set of men, can so well judge what is proper as ourselves. Our local circumstances are altogether so different from those of any other people, or community, that no- thing upon record, in either ancient or modern his- tory, bears any analogy to it. What might be a very proper standard of qualification in Great Bri- tain, Canada, or any other British Colony, might be wholly improper here. The Petition makes certain assertions with regard to the number of persons qualified to become candidates, but unsupported by any proofs whatever. It also states that the Legis- lative Assembly should not consist of less than fifty members. Why is this number fixed upon instead of forty, sixty, or any other number ? Upon what data or principles is it determined ?
" Lord Howick and others expressed an appre- hension that, by granting a Legislative Assembly to the Colony, one class of Colonists, from their superior numbers, would give laws to another class. This apprehension I believe to be wholly unfounded. A very large proportion of the freed men in our community possess no property whatever, or at any rate no freehold property; and the number of such men qualified to become electors, at even a very low standard of qualification, I believe to be much less than that of those who came free or were bom in the Colony ; and I am persuaded that a careful analysis of our population would prove this fact, and thus remove the objections of the strongest of our opponents in the House of Commons.
" I am also of opinion that if possession of cer- tain landed property within a county, and residence upon it, arc to be qualifications for candidates to represent those counties, that the number of freed persons so qualified is extremely small ; and that, of that number, still fewer, from their education and habits of life, would wish to become candidates,
" The most judicious plan, therefore, I conceive, would be to call another Public Meeting, and ap- point an extensive Committee, with power to call to their assistance, by adding to their numbers, men from all parts of the Colony, whose experience would be desirable ; and that this Committee should collect the requisite information, and fix upon cer- tain fundamental principles to proceed upon, at least provisionally, and embody these principles into resolutions ; and a Petition or Petitions, grounded thereon, to be submitted to a future Public Meeting.
" We should then go before Parliament with a case properly made out and supported, and could entertain just hopes of success ; whereas, by pro- ceeding with the present Petition, we should only be lending ourselves to a delusion ; and, by risking the rejection of our Petition, defer till a still more remote period the object we desire.
" The plan of proceeding I have here suggested, comes very near to what, it appears by the news- papers, Mr. James M'Arthur was desirous of pro- posing at the Meeting on the 26th January ; but although I have in some measure adopted his opi- nion, as every one was free to do, I beg it may be distinctly understood that I have no party bias or prejudice whatever ; and that I have never seen, conversed, or corresponded with Mr. M'Arthur on this subject, either before or since the Meeting ; although I cannot help regretting that a Gentle- man, whose deportment on all occasions is so ex- tremely mild and courteous, should not have been heard more patiently by the Meeting, especially when it is considered he is an Australian by birth, and one who possesses a large stake in the Colony, and employs as large a capital among us, of a na- ture not to be easily transferred or removed to any other country, nnd is therefore more identified with the Colony and its well-being, than a person whose residence is transitory, and property easily removed.
" I have the honor to be, Sir,
" Your obedient Servant,
" JAMES ATKINSON." " F. STEPHEN, Esq. Secretary
to the General Committee for
the Colonial Petition."