§ On the motion that the House resolve itself into a Committee of Supply.
§ Sir C. Napier
rose to ask the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, whether he (Lord Stanley) had given his attention to facts which had been formerly brought under the notice of the House relating to the treatment which a Midshipman had received from the Governor of St. Kitt's? and whether the noble Lord had come to any other opinion on the subject different from that which he had previously given expression to?
said, that on a previous occasion he had stated to the hon. and Gallant Officer, that in his opinion the Midshipman in question having so demeaned himself as to lower the authority of the Governor in the eyes of those I amongst whom he was acting in that capacity, the Governor, in the moment of irritation, had taken the tiller out of the hands of the officer. Further, he had stated, that on that account he could not altogether acquit the Governor of having acted with indiscretion; but looking to the circumstances of the whole case he must 424 say that he did not think his conduct such as to render it justifiable for him to visit the Governor with any mark of displeasure. That was his opinion; and he did hope that the Gallant Officer would, on consideration, not think this a case which ought again to be brought under the notice of Parliament.
§ Sir C. Napier
said, that the noble Lord having declined to communicate his opinion to the Governor of St. Kitt's, he was driven to the painful necessity of proceeding with the case. Somewhere about January last, Mr. Cunningham, the Governor of St. Kitt's, embarked on board the Clyde, a packet belonging to the West India Steam Navigation Company, for the purpose of proceeding to Basse Terre. After the packet had departed the Governor was informed that he could not be landed at Basse Terre, but that the ship's-boat should put him ashore at "the point." A boat, under the command of Mr. Jericho, was accordingly launched, and the Governor, his secretary, and the postmaster, got into it, and were pulled towards the shore. As they approached it the Governor insisted on the boat's course being changed, and on his being landed at Basse Terre. The Midshipman replied to him that he had orders to the contrary, and insisted on steering to the point. An altercation took place, and the Governor told the Midshipman that if he did not go to Basse Terre he would fling him overboard. Mr. Jericho insists that the Governor suited the action to the word, and that on being "thrown" or "pushed overboard," he laid hold of the rudder and was hauled into the boat. The Governor then again insisted on being rowed to Basse Terre, but the young officer still refused to deviate from his orders. He then again threatened to throw him overboard, when the strokesman of the boat interfered, and told the Governor that they knew no other governor in the boat but that youngster, and that if he (the Governor) attempted to touch him he would cram his oar down his throat. Ultimately the Governor desisted, and was landed at "the point." The consequence of this altercation, however, was, that during the time it occupied, the steamer had proceeded on her way without the boat; and finding this, by the change in the position of the ship's lights, Mr. Jericho landed, got some bread and water, hoisted a sail in the boat, and ran 425 200 miles up to St. Thomas's, where he picked up the ship. This was the story as told by the complainant. The Governor's defence was, that the young officer, Mr. Jericho, had behaved with great rudeness—that he was steering the boat on a reef, when he, the Governor, interfered, and that the young man fell, and was not thrown, overboard. He believed in the correctness of the facts as he had stated them. Mr. Jericho declared that he was thrown or pushed overboard. The Governor said that, from his situation in the boat, it was impossible he could have pushed him, and, if anybody pushed him, the secretary must have done it. Now, that was perfectly impossible. Let the House just suppose that the Treasury Bench was the boat—they didn't row altogether there, but that was no matter. Well, the Treasury Bench was the boat—the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) was the person steering it. The noble Lord on his right (Lord Stanley) was the Governor, and the Under-Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Hope), who was still further to his right, was the secretary. Now, he would put it to the House, could the Under-Secretary (Mr. Hope) throw the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) overboard unless the Colonial Secretary (Lord Stanley) aided and assisted him. It was clear he could do no such thing, continued the Gallant Officer. Let him ask how would this case have stood if the boat belonged to a Queen's frigate? Wouldn't the youngster have been perfectly justified if he had thrust his dirk through the Governor's body? Of course he would. He would have done so any day. Let them suppose the boat a ship. Why, there might be a dozen governors on board a ship, and they might all object to the course the captain was steering, and attempt to seize the tiller. Wouldn't the captain be justified in that case if he threw the dozen governors overboard altogether? Of course he would, and, as the difference between this real case and that he had supposed was, in fact, only a difference of degree, he should move that a select committee be appointed to inquire into the conduct of the Governor of St. Kitts.
said that he owed some apology to the House for detaining them a single moment upon a subject so little worthy their attention. He wished merely to observe, that there was nothing could 426 be elicited by the inquiries of a committee that was not already before the House, and therefore the appointment of a select committee was quite unnecessary. He must say, however, that, under the circumstances, more attention ought to have been paid to the wishes of the governor on the occasion to which the hon. and gallant member had referred. The governor was well acquaintad with the coast, and there could be no doubt that he interfered for the preservation of life, and that what he did was under the influence of very pardonable excitement. Still his conduct could not be considered as otherwise than indiscreet. It was not perfectly justifiable perhaps, but yet he certainly did not think it called for any censure. He regretted that the hon. and gallant officer had thought it his duty to bring forward the subject so often, and to give it an importance not wished for by any of the parties.
§ Motion withdrawn.
§ House in committee of supply, several sums voted.
§ House resumed; report to be received.