Robert Pemberton

The Happy Colony (London: Saunders and Otley, 1854):80- 82, 111.

Little seems to be known about Pemberton whose proposal for town design in New Zealand appears below. Apparently he was a philanthropist who lived in both London and Paris, being present in the latter city during the Revolution of 1848. He was an author of several books or tracts. These include An Address...on Robert Owen's Proclamation of the Millenial State to Commence this Year (1855) (1855); An Address...on the Necessity of Popular Education.... (1859); The Attributes of the Soul from the Cradle.... (1849); Explanation given...of his Happy Colony...proving that his Investigation of the Human Mind is in perfect Harmohy with the Philosophy of Robert Owen.(1855); the Infant Drama: a Model of the Time Method of Teaching all Languages (1857); Reportof the Proceedings at the Inauguration of Mr. Pemberton's New Philosophical Model Infant School.... (1857); and The Science ofMind-formation.... (1858).

Two illustrations accompanied Pemberton's proposal for colonial town founding in New Zealand. The following appears as the explanation below the rendered view of the town: "The first circle, an area of fifty acres, contains the four colleges, with conservatories, workshops, swimming baths, & riding schools adjoining each college; also the educational circles, such as the terrestial[sic] and celestial maps, laid down on the ground, the groves embodying history, the muses, mythology, the botanic & horticultural gardens,...and the miniature farm in the centre. In the second circle are placed the manufactories. The public horticultural gardens and arboretum occupy the fourth circle. the outer circle is the park, three miles in circumference." This explanation appeared at the bottom of the other illustration titled, "View of the Colleges for the Happy Colony:" "The colleges placed in the centre of the town, in a circle of fifty acres shewing the workshops, baths, conservatories, botanic & horticultural gardens, the terrestial & celestial maps, laid out on the ground, the circular groves, embodying history, the muses, mythology, the miniature farms &c."

I will now describe, in the best manner I am able, the way and plan of laying out your towns, and the lands around them; and in this I shall follow the creative laws, or, in other words, the forms in nature. Every workman must have seen that all the grand forms in nature are round--the sun, moon, stars, planets, our world, the human form, animals, trees, and perhaps, everything in the animate creation. Consequently the round, or circle, is the most natural, the most convenient, and the most scientific plan you can adopt. Right angles are opposed to the harmony of motion, and in a town there must be motion; therefore, the best method for the free circulation of man and beast must be adopted. You must make up your minds to abandon the system of the old countries in everything relating to the bad formation of towns as well as the bad formation of minds; and discard, and for ever renounced, all crooked lanes, angles, narrow streets, filthy alleys, and nasty courts and impasses. All must be public property, that is to say, must belong conjointly to the Happy Colonists. By adopting this system you can never have a nuisance, and all contention about individual property will be for ever done away with. Your ideas will be expanded, and you will commence acting upon universal systems, the same as those observed in the divine creation.

As the object of this philosophy is the perfection of man and all his works, and the development of all his capabilities and divine endowments, the colleges must be placed in the centre of the intended town, occupying the space contained in the first circle of about fifty acres, and will be the focus of all training and instruction in every branch of learning, science, art, and labour that is real and valuable, but nothing superfluous.... I propose to name the first town to be established in the intended Happy Colony, Queen Victoria Town, as Her Most Gracious Majesty possesses the most liberal and enlightened mind that has at any time graced the throne of Great Britain.... It is understood that the town is to be perfectly round, about a mile in diameter, and taking the form of belts or rings, which will become larger as they recede from the centre. The roads to be wide, spacious, and planted with ornamental trees, as shown in the pictorial plan, in which is also shown the manner of dividing the lands around the town, where every kind of grain is to be grown, and beautiful orchards are to be planted with the finest and choicest sorts of fruits, of every variety, selected from the best and most celebrated nurseries in Europe, or Australia,a or America, if they are there to be procured....

Concentration will be the grand feature in the happy Colony, so that the divine creative principle, economy of time, labour, and space, will be acted upon; yes, concentration is the grand principle to be acted upon in the happy Colony, in training man, from his birth, in love, science,and labour....

As regards the happy Colonies to be established in New Zealand, I have before observed that they are to contain twenty thousand acres each, and all the ten towns to be of the same form, according to the plan annexed: to be round or circular, resembling the creation, with communicating roads between all the towns. Each town to have its colleges placed in the centre of the first circle of not less than fifty acres; the colleges, or Natural Universities, to contain all kinds of models of art and science, as well as workshops and laboratories needful for instruction. Manufactories of all descriptions are to be properly arranged round the margin of the college grounds, for the valuable occupation of the adult population; and every thing is to be made substantial and good, and no doll and or rubbish, and useless finery, to be allowed. Economy of time and labour is to constitute the fundamental principle of the occupation of the Happy Colonists; concentration of labour, art, science, and learning being absolutely necessary for the perfection and happiness of man. 

Selected, scanned, edited, provided with headnotes, and formatted as a web document by John W. Reps, Professor Emeritus, Department of City and Regional Planning, West Sibley Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA. Tel: (607) 255-5391, Fax: (607) 255-6681, E-mail: jwr2@cornell.edu 
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