An hon. Member
wished to ask the hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of the Admiralty, whether the Admiralty had had any communication with Lieutenant Croke, relative to the pilot taken out of the Express packet at Vera Cruz?
§ Mr. C. Wood
could only repeat what he had before stated—namely, that the extract which he had read on a former evening, from the letter of Commodore Douglas, (who, as Lieutenant Croke's superior, was the only proper medium of communication between that officer and the Admiralty) contained all the informa- 845 tion which had yet been received. He might, however, mention, that he had seen a copy of a letter from Lieutenant Croke addressed by him to the British consul at Vera Cruz, after the pilot had been taken out of the packet, but he had not alluded to that letter formerly, because it had not been received through the regular and proper channel of communication.
Was not aware when he last alluded to this subject, that the Express packet bad arrived in England, and he now wished to ask, why the Admiralty had not obtained from Lieutenant Croke himself, an answer as to what had become of the pilot taken out of the vessel. He also wished to know whether Admiral Baudin had, immediately on discovering the mistake of the Prince de Joinville, given a satisfactory explanation of the circumstances to the lieutenant of the packet, or whether that explanation was only made when Commodore Douglas arrived on the spot with the squadron under his command.
§ Mr. C. Wood
said, what he had stated was, that there had been no correspondence on the subject beyond what he had read to the House on a former evening. The letter written by the lieutenant of the packet to the British consul at Vera Cruz had not been received through the proper medium of communication, as that letter ought to have been addressed to Commodore Douglas, whose duty it would then have been to have laid it before the Admiralty. Under these circumstances, he had not more particularly alluded to that letter on a former evening, and he must say, that while their information was so imperfect, the matter ought not to be agitated in the manner it had been. Commodore Douglas had stated, that he had received a satisfactory explanation from the French Admiral, and he thought, that until they had received fuller information from that officer the House of Commons ought not to agitate a question of this description. Commodore Douglas stated, that on the day he arrived at Vera Cruz, Admiral Baudin had given the most satisfactory explanation.
§ Captain Pechell
said, the next question he should ask would be a very distinct 846 one. He had no wish to embarrass the matter as far as it had reference to the question between this country and France, and he would view it as a question between Lieutenant Croke and the Admiralty. He wished to know whether the Admiralty had sought and obtained any explanation from Lieutenant Croke (who, as he knew, having served with him, was a brave and gallant officer) with respect to the pilot taken out of the packet. In his opinion, the lieutenant of the packet ought to have thrown the Prince de Joinville, or any other person, overboard who attempted to take a man out of his ship.
§ Mr. C. Wood
said, he had only to repeat for the third time that night, that the Admiralty had received, through Captain Plumridge, a copy of a letter from Lieutenant Croke, addressed to the consul at Vera Cruz, in explanation of the transaction.
said, he wished to know whether any written apology or explanation had been received from Admiral Baudin before the arrival of Commodore Douglas's squadron; or whether any negotiations were going on in reference to this subject?
§ Mr. C. Wood
replied, that he had stated before, and be now repeated again, that he had reason to believe, from a private letter which had been received, that the next despatches from Commodore Douglas would bring a much more detailed account of the transaction than the short notice which had already arrived. He had stated that this was the only communication on the subject which had been yet received, and he thought it did not become his noble Friend, or the House, to press the matter further at present.
§ Subject dropped.