HC Deb 05 May 1845 vol 80 cc183-6
Captain Rous

said, he did not rise with the intention of finding fault with Lord Stanley for superseding his gallant friend, Captain Fitzroy, for the best of all reasons—he was totally ignorant of the grounds of his dismissal; but his object was, when the supercession of Captain Fitzroy was made public, to be allowed to pay his tribute to the public worth of that gallant officer. Captain Fitzroy was a midshipman under his (Captain Rous's) command, in a corvette, in 1822 and 1823; and he would give the House his word that there was not a better seamen or officer in Her Majesty's navy. From 1831 to 1834, Captain Fitzroy commanded and surveyed the Coast of South America, from the River Plate to the Coast of Chili. In the performance of this arduous duty, as he could not complete the survey of Cape Horn without the assistance of a second vessel, he purchased and fitted out, at his own expense, a schooner. He likewise brought to England three natives of Terra del Fuego, whom he educated, that they might be useful in the event of Her Majesty's Government forming an establishment in that country; and the Admiralty refusing to send back these natives in a vessel of war, Captain Fitzroy was obliged to charter a merchant ship to convey them home. Not one sixpence was repaid to him, and he actually spent one-fifth of his private fortune in the service of the State. In 1843, Captain Fitzroy informed him, in that House, that Lord Stanley had offered him the government of New Zealand. He (Captain Rous) advised his gallant friend to refuse the appointment, knowing that an angel from heaven could not reconcile the differences between the natives, the missionaries, and the New Zealand Company. At that time, Captain Fitzroy had the honour of representing Durham, and he had a public income of 800l. per annum as a conservator of the River Mersey, and as one of the elder brethren of the Trinity House; all of which he gave up, besides a great sacrifice of private property, to accept the trifling balance of 400l. per annum. He mentioned these circumstances to show the House that Captain Fitzroy was always impressed with one idea—how he could best serve his country. As long as the New Zealand Company existed—as long as they had an imperium in imperio in that Colony—it was utterly impossible for any man to govern it. He wished to know why the New Zealand Company dared not bring forward their promised Motion? All he (Captain Rous) could assure them was, that, whenever they dared submit that Motion to the House, he would bring forward two charges against them — of getting money under illegal pretences, and of inveigling labourers and artificers from this country under promise of finding them employment and good wages, and then deserting them and leaving them to starve. Whenever the case of Captain Fitzroy's dismissal came before the House, he would be prepared to give an unbiassed opinion.

Mr. Aglionby

said, he would not occupy the time of the House by any observations upon the remarks which had been somewhat irrelevantly introduced by the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster. He would only say, that the hon. and gallant Officer was entirely ignorant of the whole subject; and at the proper time he should be prepared to meet the charges of the gallant Member.

Mr. R. Trevor

begged to thank the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. G. W. Hope) for the manner in which he had communicated to the friends of Captain Fitzroy the intention of the Government to recall that gallant Officer. He was well aware that the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Captain Rous) had for a long period taken a deep interest in the welfare of his gallant relative, Captain Fitzroy. He should be extremely sorry in any way to embarrass the Government, for the intimation he had received was made in the kindest spirit; and he took this opportunity of thanking the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department (Lord Stanley) for his courtesy. The hon. Under Secretary (Mr. G. W. Hope) had to-night read an extract from the despatch sent out to Captain Fitzroy. The only point on which Captain Fitzroy's family had entertained any anxiety was completely set at rest; for it was clear that nothing had occurred during the time he held the appointment in New Zealand, reflecting in any degree on his high character as a gentleman and an officer. He (Mr. Trevor) hoped the Government would be fortunate enough to secure the services of a gentleman who would be more successful in dealing with the difficulties of the situation. It was impossible to overstate the immense difficulties of the position Captain Fitzroy was called upon to fulfil when he assumed the government; and he would venture to say, that the Government would not obtain a more able or more honest servant than his gallant relative.

Mr. Ward

could not allow this discussion to close without saying, that there was something absolutely unfair on the part of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Captain Rous), in making a distinct charge against the New Zealand Company. He (Mr. Ward) had no connexion with that Company; but he believed they possessed the means of proving that almost every charge made against them had originated in their differences with the Government. When he saw Captain Fitzroy's friends coming forward in this manner, he thought, as an individual perfectly disinterested as to this question, he ought to say, that though there might be no imputation upon the moral character of Captain Fitzroy, or upon his character as an officer and a gentleman—a notion which no one could dream of entertaining—he believed that no measure of the Government had given more satisfaction to any person who had watched over the progress of our Colony in New Zealand, than the recall of Captain Fitzroy. The conduct of that gallant Officer had been most mischievous and unfortunate; and if his friends would parade his high character as a gentleman, he must say, that no man had ever shown so little fitness for the office to which he had unfortunately been appointed.

Sir R. Inglis

had long known Captain Fitzroy, and he fully concurred in every word that had been said in praise of that gallant officer, not only in his public capacity, but in all the relations of private life. Nothing could be purer than the intentions with which he accepted office; and, as far as intentions went, no man could stand more completely exonerated than he did.

Mr. Mangles

felt assured that the hon. and gallant Officer the Member for Westminster would, upon reflection, see the injustice of imputing to the New Zealand Company that they had raised money upon false pretences.

Mr. G. W. Hope

said, that there had been nothing said against the private character of Captain Fitzroy. On the contrary, every credit was given to him for an anxious desire to discharge his duty; he had evinced great courage and had made great sacrifices.