Story: Indians

Letters about a homeless Indian (1st of 3)

Letters about a homeless Indian

When John Cracroft Wilson settled in Canterbury, he brought Indian servants with him. This correspondence, published in the Lyttelton Times in 1860, concerns one, named Goordeen, who became homeless after leaving Wilson’s employ. This letter, written anonymously by ‘A lover of justice’, deplores Wilson’s lack of responsibility in allowing the situation to have arisen. The patronising and superior tone of his letter also reveals the racism prevalent among European settlers at this time.

VAGABONDAGE.

To the Editor of the Lyttelton Times.

Sir,— If an Englishman suffers from a grievance, real or imaginary, the most modern and effective recipe is to write to the ‘Times.’ In common with several others, I think I am so suffering, and as I do not see me remedy, perhaps, I had better let off my spleen by writing to you. A poor vagabond Hindoo has taken a fancy to my premises, and persists in sleeping in the stable, whether I like it or not. Perhaps, you would say, it would be no great stretch of humanity to let him sleep there; well, perhaps, it would not; but, there are some rather strong reasons against it, one of which is, that he was lately considered unfit to be admitted into the hospital on account of the miserably filthy condition of his person, and was accommodated for a fortnight in the dead house; another is that these gentry have very lax notions of meum and tuum, and there are a good many things about my place which might easily be taken, without being missed at once. Another good reason is, that I don’t want him about the place at all. I have applied to the inspector of police, who informed me that if I would send the man to Christchurch and bring him before the magistrate, he would be committed as a vagabond and locked up for a fortnight, to be let loose again upon society, as has been the case once or twice before.

But have we no better remedy then this? Surely the gentleman who imported this poor specimen of humanity, now that for some reason he has done with him, is bound either to keep him, or send him back again. Of course I allude to Mr J. C. Wilson. It has suited the purpose of that gentleman to bring a number of Indians to this place, but it is not to be tolerated that when one of them, as in this case, has either served his time or been dismissed, that he should be cast loose upon society, a useless miserable wanderer, alternating between the gaol and the hospital. What has happened with one, may happen with a dozen, and I can really see no reason at present why I should not some fine morning, find a dozen miserable uncleanly Indians sleeping in my outhouse.

Your obedient server,

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Christchurch City Libraries
Reference: Lyttelton Times, 26 May 1860, p. 3.

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How to cite this page:

Nancy Swarbrick, 'Indians - Early immigration', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/document/1823/letters-about-a-homeless-indian (accessed 2 October 2020)

Story by Nancy Swarbrick, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 25 Mar 2015