HC Deb 25 June 1847 vol 93 cc921-46

On the question that the Order of the Day for a Committee of Supply be read,


said: If, Sir, on former occasions, when it has been my duty to bring the subject of my present Motion under your attention, I have felt it necessary to crave the indulgence of the House, still more do I feel that necessity on the present occasion, when I cannot but be aware that the subject has become stale and wearisome; and when I have not only an adverse report to contend against, but also the authoritative dictum of the hon. and gallant member for Liverpool near me, given—I will not say how fairly—that the whole thing was the greatest humbug that had ever been attempted to be palmed on the gullibility of the British public. I shall not pause to inquire what grounds the hon. and gallant member has for pronouncing that opinion, knowing, as I do, that he has never had an opportunity of forming his own deliberate judgment on the matter, and that he must necessarily have taken his facts from hearsay evidence. Neither will I dilate on the manifest injustice of an opinion being so expressed by so high an authority as the gallant Officer, in answer to a question put to him by an hon. Member when no reply could possibly be given. I cannot conceal from myself that the whole tone and temper of the hon. and gallant member in this matter, from its very first introduction to him, has been marked, not only by a contemptuous dislike for the unfortunate inventor, but an ill-concealed determination to swamp him and his inventions; as if, in tendering a valuable discovery for the benefit of his country, he had caused some personal injury to the hon. and gallant member. The whole matter, as between the hon. and gallant member and Captain Warner, is, that one is a scientific man, and the other is avowedly not one; but still he can accomplish, with all his ignorance, whatever the hon. and gallant member can perform; whereas the gallant Officer cannot perform one tithe of the feats of the unlearned subject of his vituperation. It is equally apparent to me, that the right hon. Baronet the member for Tamworth, whose absence I regret on this occasion, from the way he put some questions in the early part of the Session, participates strongly in the feelings of the hon. and gallant member; and I am sensible, from the general laughter with which his remarks were received, that I have also the prejudices of a largo portion of this House arrayed against me. Fully aware, Sir, of these difficulties, hut still undismayed by them, and being actuated by no overweening confidence in myself, but acting from a conscientious sense of duty, I feel compelled to bring the matter once more under the consideration of the House. I trust that in so doing I may be acquitted of any obstinate adherence to my own opinions, and that my perseverance may be attributed to its true motive, that the House and the country should be made fully aware that their attention is invited to a matter of great public importance, and which it is most desirable they should understand, before they are called upon finally to reject inventions not yet fairly investigated. Much, Sir, having been said in former debates on this subject calculated to injure Captain Warner, I shall shortly endeavour to remove those erroneous impressions. First, in August, 1842, it was said by the hon. member for Salford, that these inventions had been offered for sale to other Powers; and an anonymous letter was read by him to the House, setting forth that Captain Warner had sold them to Don Pedro for 500,000l., but that he constantly evaded the carrying out the contract unless the money was paid down. The whole of this statement was publicly denied by Captain Warner. The anonymous correspondent was challenged to give his name and his authority; and I am now prepared to produce official documents which will show the real nature of the contract with Don Pedro, and the service on which Captain Warner was employed, with the sanction of His late Majesty William IV.; but per- haps it would be sufficient were I to read to the House a letter I have received from General Sir John Milley Doyle. He was a party to all their transactions, and cognizant of all the facts:— Osmond's Hotel, Strand, June 11. My Lord—I have been requested by Captain Warner to state, for your Lordship's information, what I know of his conduct in Portugal during the period he was connected with the service of Her Most Faithful Majesty, under the Emperor Don Pedro, respecting which some injurious representations, on anonymous authority, have been reported as been made in the House of Commons by Mr. Brotherton. During the whole time that Captain Warner was in Portugal, I was aide-decamp to Don Pedro, and constantly acted as interpreter between His Imperial Majesty and Captain Warner, who was present at the siege of Oporto by the Miguelite forces. Don Pedro, I know, had the highest opinion of Captain Warner; and the confidence he openly placed in him, the authority with which he from time to time armed him, was supposed to have excited the jealousy of many officers as well Portuguese as British auxiliaries; and to that feeling may, perhaps, be attributed the disparaging rumours of "which Captain Warner had so much reason to Complain. During Captain Warner's stay at Oporto, and off it, with his schooner—it very often, at that period, being the only armed vessel on which Don Pedro could rely—Captain Warner was prevented, I understand, by the command of His Majesty William IV., from using his destructive implements on shore; and for reasons which can only be known to the then commanding officer of the Queen of Portugal's naval forces, he was not allowed to operate, as he expressed his desire to do, against the Miguelite squadron, then retired into the Tagus. But he did good service to Don Pedro's cause on several occasions by his judicious and ingenious suggestions of the disposition of many of the batteries, and especially by his once landing a quantity of gunpowder by means of his own boats in a heavy gale of wind, when Don Pedro had no boats in the Douro fit for this hazardous service—and rendered, moreover, at a critical moment, as the garrison were reduced to their last barrel of powder. Presently after, Captain Warner proceeded to England with a contract from Don Pedro to return with a steamer armed and fitted out after a fashion of his own, and to employ it in Don Pedro's service. Captain Warner, however, as I have reason to believe, having been induced by His late Majesty William the Fourth to abandon foreign service never returned to Portugal. I repeat, that during Captain Warner's service under the Emperor Don Pedro, he enjoyed his Imperial Majesty's esteem and confidence, as well as that of the Portuguese Ministers. Some of the British auxiliaries, whom Captain Warner certainly took no pains to conciliate, were tin-questionably unfavourable to him, and to them have been attributed the calumnies to which an undue credit has been given by some Members of the House of Commons. I have had no intercourse with Captain Warner for many years: I have no connexion with him now, nor any interest in his inventions. I am moved by a simple wish to do justice to a gallant and meritorious man, who I think has been harshly used. I authorize your Lordship to make any use of this communi- cation you please, and have the honour to be, my Lord, your obedient humble servant, J. M. DOYLE. The Viscount Ingestre, R.N., C.B., M.P., &c Again, Sir, much prejudice has been excited by an answer given by Captain Warner to a question asked him by the hon. and gallant Member for Liverpool about the destruction of a privateer. In the first place, I would observe, that Captain Warner had no idea that the questions and answers were being taken down in writing; and he justly, I think, complains, that if they were to be so taken down, he was not made aware of it, and his answers shown to him afterwards, that he might affirm or deny their correctness. Secondly, the answers given prove the loose way in which the questions and answers were taken down, inasmuch as Folkestone and St. Valery are nearly opposite to each other in the Channel, and the whole thing evidently refers to one transaction, although a reference to the questions and answers before alluded to would give the notion that Captain Warner asserted he had destroyed privateers on two separate occasions. Lastly, can any one suppose that any man engaged in the sort of secret service he was then employed in, changing his vessel or her rig almost every day to avoid recognition, was likely to make a minute entry in a log book, a log being probably never kept at all; and that an accusation of falsehood was to be made because no record could be found at the Admiralty—more especially as the Admiralty had nothing whatever to do with Captain Warner? I should indeed have been much surprised if there had been any. I cannot omit to notice also the prejudice created against Captain Warner by the speech of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) in August, 1842, stating, that— Mr. Warner, before he would proceed to try any experiments, required that a sum of 400,000l should be guaranteed to him by Her Majesty's Government in the event of his being successful. On the 25th of the preceding May, Captain Warner wrote a letter to the right hon. Baronet, in which is the following pas-sago:— I am contented to leave the question of amount to your decision as to what you may consider, under all the circumstances of my case, and with reference to the value of my discovery, the rate of my remuneration ought fairly to be. He stipulates, in addition, a personal conference with the right hon. Baronet, and the appointment of a, third commissioner. Again, in a letter addressed to Sir George Murray, then Master General of the Ordnance, on the 6th of the preceding month of July, is the following passage:—. I observe in your letter that you twice dwell upon the large remuneration I ask. I have already expressed, and I repeat, my readiness to leave the amount to your own arbitration; no difficulties shall be presented by me on this head, I must also refer to the wish expressed by the right hon. Baronet in his letter to Sir George Murray, October 5th, 1841, in which he says— Could not the Ordnance make a shell of their own by way of experiment, with nitrate of silver, or whatever constitutes the most powerful exploding matter, and try the effect of that concurrently with Mr. Warner's? But, Sir, allow me here to ask, what on earth have all these questions to do with the merits of the case? Whether Captain Warner was entitled to be styled Captain or not, and other puerilities of that description. What we want to ascertain is, has Captain Warner, or has he not, made valuable discoveries, which are likely to be useful to the country, or detrimental to it if in other hands? Anxious, Sir, to avoid wasting the time of the House, I will merely state the broad fact, that during the Administration of the right hon. Baronet, no satisfactory arrangement could be arrived at. The subject might have been looked into with a determination to get at the truth. The inventor, instead of being treated as an impostor, and insulted with a string of petulant, pedantic, and irrelevant questions, might have had evinced towards him a disposition to treat him with decent respect, consistently with a determination to guard the public interests against imposture and deceit. But it was too manifest that the astounding invention of Captain Warner—so completely upsetting all previously conceived theories and practice—had arrayed against him a powerful clique of those interested in the maintenance of the present order of things. I make no doubt that if Captain Warner's plans had been merely the production of some projectile power that would only exceed that now in use, retaining those existing means, he would not have met with the absurd and petty professional jealousy he has had to contend with. Now, Sir, with respect to more recent transactions. Shortly after the accession to power of the present Government, I had an opportunity of bringing this subject under the attention of the noble Lord the Member for the city of London, and I was met by him with every courtesy and attention. The plans were shown to the noble Lord. Two commissioners were appointed, and approved of without hesitation by Captain Warner. It was asked, and at once conceded by the noble Lord, that to prevent any misunderstanding, I might be present at all the meetings of the commissioners, and at all trials, and that I should sign all records of the proceedings, so that I could not afterwards question their correctness. It was also further agreed that all reports were to he considered as most confidential, and were to be given to Lord Anglesey as Master General of the Ordnance, in the presence of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and in no way to be laid before the Board of Ordnance. After a preliminary meeting or two, and the instructions to the commissioners had been read over to Captain Warner, and approved of as most proper and just, an experiment was decided upon, which was to be conducted with great secrecy, and Captain Warner gave an estimate of the expense, and the money was advanced to him, upon his giving security that it should be duly expended in the experiment. Some considerable time elapsed in finding a suitable spot combining the requisites of affording sufficient scope and facilities for carrying on the operations with secrecy and without observance; and at last, with the kind permission of Lord Anglesey, Cannock Chase was selected. I wish to speak with all respect of the two commissioners, both officers of distinguished character; but I must remark that in their journal an imprersion is given that an unnecessary delay was created by Captain Warner. The delay was occasioned by the desire of the commissioners that an additional weight of shot should be carried beyond what was at first mentioned, and which wish, although involving the purchase of a balloon of greater capacity, Captain Warner was anxious to comply with without hesitation. Now, Sir, as to the report itself. The commissioners' report is very short. They pronounce the experiment to have been a failure; and I must say, that in so doing, in my opinion they have come to a very wrong and hasty conclusion. They remark that Captain Warner had the choice of the place of operation. This was to a certain extent true, as I had selected it, and Captain Warner and Colonel Chalmer had both agreed to it. They state that he also had the choice of direction. This is also to a certain extent true; there was a tree on this common, in which direction the greatest scope was afforded; and, therefore, if the wind proved suitable, that was doubtless the direction in which Captain Warner wished to operate. But Captain Warner always said, "If I am in a fixed spot, and I am to operate in one direction only, I must wait for a wind in one particular quarter. "If, as would have been hut fair, when laying these papers before the House, the original trial required by the commissioners, and written in the journal of the proceedings, and signed by myself, had been produced, it would have been shown that Captain Warner never undertook to aim at any particular object, but merely that he would convey the prescribed weights the prescribed distances. The day before the experiment he received a most urgent letter from the commissioners, calling on him to perform his experiment, or to remove his apparatus to a place where he would be able to operate with greater chance, from having wider scope. This would have been tantamount to throwing all the expense already incurred entirely away. On the morning of the experiment, thinking the weather might suit, he summoned the commissioners, having first sent up a pilot, by which he ascertained the true wind to be N.W. instead of N., and being told he might safely drop his shells four miles in that direction, towards the town of Rugeley, and having been told by Colonel Chalmer that he would be satisfied with four miles, he determined to let it go. Colonel Chalmer, it was understood, should be stationed a short distance from where Captain Warner was to see the direction of a pilot to be let go shortly before the main machine, and then let Captain Chads and Lord Anglesey, who were stationed at a considerable distance forward, know in what direction they were to expect it. This, from some mistake, he neglected to do, and the consequence was considerable delay, arising from Captain Warner not knowing whether to let the balloon go or not. However, he did let it go, and after it rose out of the hole in which it started from, and clearing the eddies, it took a direct course to where its last flight of shells was dropped, at a distance of upwards of four miles, carrying double the number of shells required by the commissioners, and dropping them in divisions in a continuous line. With respect to the balloon twisting about, this was after it had discharged its cargo, and when it was making its descent after the gas had es- caped. Two shells remained in the frame, which had been originally put there for the purpose of destroying the balloon and the frame, but from which at the last moment the communication was cut off with a view to save the balloon for another trial, if the present one should not have been thought satisfactory. I should not omit to remark that shot, and not shells, were used, and that consequently they were very difficult to find, buried as they were at a depth of four and five feet deep in a hard shingley substance, in ground covered with heath; and which difficulty of finding them was why the ground near Shoe Bury Ness would not do, as it was a quicksand, and where not only a favourable wind was required, but also necessary that the tide should be out. The commissioners did not think proper to remain to see where the shot fell, which was a main, if not the only object of their commission; but some were dug out in the presence of the Master General of the Ordnance, who also examined the frame from which the shells were projected, and from which it was evident they were projected in divisions as Captain Warner had described. I had the advantage, which the commissioners had not, of seeing the places where the shot fell, and am prepared to state that they fell in a direct line from the place of starting, and attained to a distance of upwards of four miles. I am told that the hon. and gallant Member for Liverpool is in possession of a diagram, describing the course of the machine. How he is so I cannot understand, as it was expressly stipulated that all reports were to be made to the Master General of the Ordnance, and to him alone; and I am prepared to show that if there was anything tortuous in the course of the balloon, it was only when it was rising from the valley from which it started, and at the end of its course when it had discharged its missiles. Be this, however, as it may, I think it is unprecedented that any invention should be condemned on a single trial. Moreover, Colonel Chalmer stated to me the day after the experiment, that there could be no doubt as to the power of going the distance required, or any other distance, and what was required to be ascertained was, that the direction could be made certain, and that the missiles could be dropped with precision. To this I replied that these two points could be easily ascertained by stationing a person dead to leeward, and starting a quantity of small and inexpensive balloons to note how near they came to each other in a direct line; and that nothing could be more easy than to suspend the frame to which the shells are appended, and desire Captain Warner to cause them to drop at any intervals of minutes or seconds he might be required. This, Colonel Chalmer replied, would be most satisfactory to him, and this Captain Warner consented to do; but I have heard nothing more of Colonel Chalmer, and the only result is an adverse report without sufficient inquiry. Much has been made of an admission on my part—I would almost say an extorted admission—that the thing was a failure. Doubtless, I used the expression; but it was before I knew that Captain Warner was not to fire in the direction of the oak tree, but only in the direction that the wind at the time would admit of. If advantage is to be taken of expressions that fell from me, I may equally take advantage of expressions that fell from others; and I would ask, what is the meaning of the Master General of the Ordnance saying "that it was a pity Captain Warner's brains were not knocked out long ago, and that he hoped it would be a failure?" Here, I must complain, that, according to the stipulation agreed to in the outset of these proceedings, I was not consulted as to the report, and the facts connected with it, and that the commissioners made a report upon one single trial, made under the most adverse and difficult circumstances, and without a sufficient examination of the result. The noble Lord, with characteristic fairness, sent me a copy of the report, and permitted me to make my observations upon it, which I did in a letter bearing date the 12th December, 1846. Captain Warner was also permitted to add his observations, and in the latter part of his letter occurred the following passage:— The commissioners remark that the principle of action will be always discovered on the first exhibition. I am as sensible as those gentlemen of the impolicy of publicity; hence the patience with which for years I have endured ridicule and injurious imputations, rather than make a public exhibition. But I beg to observe that very many years will probably elapse between the first revelation of the motive power I employ for my long range and the method of employing it with precision as a vehicle for the distribution of destructive substances; and if its first exhibition should be in actual warfare, the country against which its terrible agency is directed will be little comforted in its crippled condition by discovering too late the source from which its destruction has issued. This paragraph produced from the noble Lord the following most extraordinary letter:— Sir—I am desired by Lord John Russell to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 16th inst. With reference to a passage in the latter part of your communication, I am directed by his Lordship to inform you that should any British subject be found in arms, or in a hostile manner aiding and assisting a Foreign Power against his own country, he will immediately be brought to trial for high treason.—I have the honour to be, &c. "R. W. GREY. This was replied to by Captain Warner, giving to his Lordship, as acknowledged, a satisfactory explanation of the passage in question; and the end was a refusal on the part of the Government to entertain any of his inventions. I feel personally so grateful to the noble Lord for his conduct in this matter, that I do not wish to dwell on this part of the subject, nor to the unfairness of withholding these explanatory letters, when the papers were moved for by the hon. and gallant Member, and by the right hon. Baronet. Sir, I was always most desirous that the mode in which these missiles were sent should be a secret, not for the inventor's sake, but that such a wholesale mode of destruction should not be generally known, even with much inferior explosive powers; and hence the reserve I have always held on this subject. But when, Sir, I found that the report was current in London both at the Ordnance and Admiralty Boards a few days after the experiment was made, that such was the agent employed, I felt that it was an injustice to Captain Warner that the report only, and that an adverse one, should be laid upon the Table of the House, without the explanations before alluded to; and for that reason I urged upon the noble Lord, that if he allowed anything to be published in the matter, he would allow all to be made known. Sir, I think it is most unfortunate that such publicity should be given to the matter; but still there remains the secret, not only of how the balloon is managed, but also of the extraordinary explosive power it is quite evident Captain Warner possesses, and which he was desired not to use in this experiment. I cannot forbear to allude to the circumstance, trivial enough it is true, hut sufficient to show how every trifle has been made use of to throw a slur and a doubt on these proceeedings. I have before mentioned, that Captain Warner had to purchase a balloon; this he did from the noted Messrs. Green; and wanting necessarily some persons to aid him in the manual labour of making the gas and inflating his balloon, he employed one of the Messrs. Green. This gentleman went, for the sake of secrecy, by a feigned name, as, by the by, did Captain Warner himself, and also one of the commissioners, to whom I addressed a letter by way of precaution in another name than his own. Wishing to take up as little time as possible, I will not further advert to this experiment than to say I think it was most incomplete—that Captain Warner, in my presence, offered to repeat it, and to obey any suggestions made to him. I would now shortly refer to the other invention, the "invisible shell:" in my opinion the most valuable to us as a means of defence in an insular position, making us comparatively secure from invasion, and a great preventer of bloodshed, by enabling us to blockade a fleet in any hostile harbour, and preventing their coming out; and withal a most economical plan, as compared with the heavy outlay we are contemplating for harbours of defence. The efficacy of this was most fully proved off Brighton in 1844, and I have only to refer to the report of Colonel Chalmer and Captain Caffin to confirm it, although the Government of that day refused to be made acquainted with the mode in which it was done; and I can only regret that the Government should peremptorily reject all Captain Warner's inventions, because one was supposed to be a failure. Sir, after all the virulent animosity that has been manifested by the hon. and gallant Member for Liverpool on this subject, I expect to have a learned and perhaps pedantic diatribe upon the merits of these questions—that I may be told that gas cannot be carried in tanks—and that no provision is made for its expansion in different atmospheres; all this may be said to be contrary to the laws of nature, and all the dogmas he studied in early life. Be it so; to all this I answer by anticipation, you speak without book; you have never condescended to be informed or instructed in the matter; and, moreover, that the same obstacles might have been and were advanced against the introduction of gas, steam, electrical powers, and of all the useful sciences that even with my limited experience I have seen rise from these difficulties, and obtain the sanction of mankind. Sir, I feel a great responsibility in thus taking up the time of the House, and thus obtruding my opinion; but I am justified by officers of high standing and great reputation. First, I have a report to his late Majesty William IV., signed by Sir R. Keates and Sir T. Hardy, forward- ed to me, I believe, by a relative of one of those distinguished officers; but as it did not reach me in an official form, I will not make use of it. Secondly, I have the report of Lieutenant Webster, a man selected to examine these things solely on account of his long and meritorious services. And, thirdly, I have at a later date the unsolicited opinion of a talented and disinterested officer, Captain Harvey. Here, then, Sir, I rest my case: firstly, that the experiment, however fairly entered upon, was incomplete, and was no failure, and that the Commissioners reported without a thorough investigation; secondly, that the other invention, for the defence of harbours, roadsteads, &c., has been proved to be eminently successful, and therefore ought not to be condemned, even if the long range was worthy of the designation given it by the hon. and gallant Member. I am aware, Sir, of the difficulty of introducing a subject of this description to the House, rendered, as it is, wearisome by the frequent repetition, and by being imperfectly understood by the great majority of people, who look on the matter as out of their province and not within their capacity, and by a considerable number who fully know the magnitude of these powers, but who dislike the inventions, and are determined by all means to throw them into the back ground. I can confidently tell all such that these efforts will not succeed, and that sooner or later truth will prevail; that patriotism may sometimes burn as ardently in the humble breast as in that bedizened with stars and decorations; and I can also add, though not without fear that, according to the noble Lord's views, I may be indicted for misprision of treason—that these inventions cannot remain where they are—and that perhaps we may awake as from a dream and find these extraordinary and wonderful powers used, not only for the certain destruction and annihilation of all our commercial marine, hut also to the humbling the British flag, when proudly waving over the sea. and bidding defiance to the world. I have only, in conclusion, to apologize to the noble Lord for the form of bringing forward this Motion, which more or less implies a degree of hostility, and which I have only adopted to insure my having an opportunity of getting a hearing; and, thanking the House for the attention they have paid me, I beg to move for a Secret Committee composed of civilians, Members of this House, who are as capable of judging of this matter as profes- sional men, and without their professional prejudice, before whom I would have examined not only the commissioners but the Master General of the Ordnance, and all parties present at the late trial, who I fearlessly assert could not but give evidence of these extraordinary powers; and I feel assured that Committee would have proved before them that not only can Captain Warner discharge these powerful missiles, but direct and control them. The noble Lord concluded by moving as an Amendment, that a Select Committee be appointed to consider the report of the Commissioners appointed to investigate Captain Warner's invention.


seconded the Motion; he hoped the Government would grant the Committee. It was very desirable that this invention, as it was termed, should be demonstrated to the country to be nothing more than a deception. He wished for a Committee, to go into the facts, because the successful experiment at Brighton did not seem to have been accomplished by means of the same agency employed in the experiment upon which Colonel Chads and Captain Chalmer had reported. There was no balloon used at Brighton; at any rate nobody ever saw a balloon; and it was subsequent to that experiment that Captain Warner had applied to Mr. Green, the well-known aëronaut, requesting his services. He would state to the House the substance of a letter which he had received in reference to this affair from Mr. Green. That gentleman said that he had three years ago first constructed a balloon for Captain Warner, and that in August last that individual, giving the name of Palmer, had again called on him, requiring him to construct another balloon, which would be capable of taking up about 500 1b. Mr. Green was told that the balloon would be paid for by the Government; that it was to be applied to an experiment undertaken at the direction of the Government; and that, if the result was successful, the balloon would be returned, with adequate remuneration for the services employed. He was taken down to the Marquess of Anglesey's estate, and he inflated the balloon. A ponderous machine, as he described, was placed about sixty yards to windward of it; and after some delay this was attached to the neck of the balloon, which then was loosened from the ground. It ascended at a great velocity to an immense altitude, changing its direction with different currents, until it burst in the air from the great expansion of its gaseous contents, caused by the rapidity of its ascent into so rarefied a medium. The gunpowder in the machine, it proved, when the balloon was recovered, had not exploded. The greatest secrecy was preserved in the business; the people concerned went by assumed names; and Mr. Green, in his own words, had "turned Brown, as many greens do at that time of the year." He now complained that none of the articles or the apparatus which he had lent to Captain Warner for the experiment had been restored to him, and he had been left in ignorance of the address of that gentleman. The letter continued:— The week before Easter, his servant called to say the things I left in Mr. Palmer's care would be in town to-morrow, and should be sent to me next morning, and that he had orders from Government to sell the balloon for what it would fetch, and they expected to get 200l. for it. I told him I was satisfied Government had nothing to do with the selling of it; but if he brought it to me with articles I left with Mr. Palmer I would examine it, and say what it was worth to me. The balloon came, but nothing except that. On examining it I found it in so mutilated a condition, and the texture of the silk and net so much impaired by its having been packed up wet from November to that time, that I declined having anything to do with its purchase, and wished to know how, and by whom, I and my brother were to be remunerated for the great loss of time and expense we had been put to. He said Mr. Palmer would call on me in a few days, and my things would be returned safe in a day or two; but if I did not purchase the balloon he must take it back. I told him it should not leave my premises until I got my property. The same afternoon he brought me a letter he said from Mr. Palmer—in which letter this Mr. Palmer, for the first time, acknowledges by his signature (without any address) that he is no other than the notorious Captain Warner, and states that he purchased the balloon for Mr. Palmer, whose property it is, and if I did not immediately give it up, legal means would be taken to compel me. Still refusing to give it up, till I either got my property or its value, I was served with a copy of a writ, which my attorney, Mr. Spencer, settled for 3l.; this writ was at the suit of Mr. G. Palmer, and issued, by an attorney of that name, who charged 9l., which Mr. Spencer got reduced to 3l. Mr. Green, therefore, believed the alleged invention was a mere deception, and he petitioned the House to compel Captain Warner to return the apparatus. Considering that 1,300l. had been spent upon a man who did not even give his address, or let any one know where he lived, it was not asking too much to require that he should restore to their owner the various articles which Mr. Green had made use of in preparing the balloon for the experiment. He hoped that the House would grant the Select Committee, but that it would refuse to make it a Secret Committee. It was much to be wished that the public should be made aware of the little value of the suggestions of Captain Warner; and there could be no objection to agreeing to the proposal of the noble Lord, if no fresh supplies were asked for any further experiments.


wished to detain the House a few moments, while he replied to the observations of the noble Lord, in reference to some statements which, on a former occasion, he (Mr. Brotherton) had thought it his duty to make. The charge urged by the noble Lord was, that he had read anonymous letters to the House, and that he had no foundation for assertions contained in those letters. He knew nothing of Captain Warner, and cared nothing about him; his only object in reading those letters had been, not to injure Captain Warner, but to protect the public purse. The facts were these—he had received letters from a gentleman at Madrid stating that Captain Warner had offered the supposed invention to Don Pedro for a certain sum of money; but that nothing had resulted from the offer, inasmuch as Captain Warner would not explain the invention until he had obtained the money; and the parties who were to be the purchasers did not think it wise to deposit the price until they knew what they were about. He had received also a letter from Colonel Sir C. Shaw, late commissioner of police at Manchester, in which it was represented that some time ago, at Oporto, Captain Warner had been called on to destroy a battery with his invention, and that after every facility had been offered to him he delayed from day to day, and behaved in such a manner that Colonel Shaw was led to believe that it was "all humbug." Captain Warner had written a letter to the Times, contradicting all that he (Mr. Brotherton) had said, and all he had read from these letters; he had not answered that letter, because he thought it was the duty of Colonel Shaw to do so; and when the experiment which was atterwards made had been tried and failed, Colonel Shaw then wrote, apologizing for not having noticed Captain Warner's letter in the Times, but reiterating every one of his former statements. All he had now to say was, that as 1,300l. was already gone, he hoped the Government would not advance any more money.


I should have hoped that this question might have been set at rest by the experiments to which the noble Lord has alluded, without the appointment of a Select Committee, and indeed without further debating the point. The obligation under which I placed myself, to sanction any experiment at all, was less from any hope I had of a succesful result, than from the persuasion that many persons entertained the idea that Captain Warner had made an invention of great value, which, by means of what he called the "long range," would send a projectile, as it was understood to be, a distance of five miles with a certainty of aim and secrecy; and it was only in consequence of that persuasion that the Government was induced to think some experiment ought to be tried, with a view to dissipate all doubts on the subject. A commission was originally appointed, composed certainly of very able men, and that commission was in a fair way to set the whole question at rest, when, from some reason or other, not well explained, Captain Warner objected to their further proceeedings. The gallant Officer opposite can explain better than I can what took place under that commission. When the Government agreed to the request that they would institute some experiment, I thought the best course I could take was to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Master General of the Ordnance to name to me two officers of experience and ability to whom this question might be referred, and through whom any experiment might be tried. I agreed with my noble Friend the Marquess of Anglesey, at the same time that the long range, being the matter of the greatest difficulty, of the greatest importance if it succeeded, and altogether that to which the public attention had been most turned, should be taken as the test of these inventions of Captain Warner. The noble Lord who has made this Motion, agrees, I think, that the terms proposed were altogether fair; and he has borne testimony this evening very handsomely to the manner in which the Government showed its willingness to see if there was anything practicable in this invention. The officers appointed—Colonel Chalmer and Captain Chads—were men of ability and experience, and perfectly competent to the task assigned them. They understood that the Government desired some decisive experiment to be made. At the same time, with regard to the expenditure, I said the experiment was to be made, and that, on the part of the Treasury, I would undertake to authorize such an expenditure as they should declare to be necessary; but I directed them not to incur any expenditure not absolutely requisite for their purpose. They were told, in the first instance, what was the nature of the invention; and they declared at the very commencement that their first impression was, they did not consider it capable of realizing that certainty of aim, that impenetrable secrecy, and that power of being used under all circumstances, which Captain Warner had always ascribed to the long range. Their impression was unfavourable; but, nevertheless, as they understood an experiment would be desired, they thought that 1,300l. might be the extent to which advances should be made with that object. Well, then, as the commissioners say, the ground was chosen, if not by Captain Warner, by the noble Lord who has been always the intimate ally of Captain Warner in all those inquiries. I do not mean to attribute any undue degree of credulity to the noble Lord; hut he has always been considered as co-operating with Captain Warner. The commissioners waited for some time for their experiment to be made; and at last, as I had always stated the experiment was to be made under conditions to be settled between the commissioners and Captain Warner and the noble Lord, a spot, called the "Fair Oak," was fixed upon as the point to which the long range should be directed. The noble Lord says, it is inconceivable that persons should go and place themselves at the very point to which it had been arranged that the projectile should be directed. I do not wondor that those gallant officers, knowing the balloon was to be the mode employed, should have ventured to station themselves exactly at that spot. I own my apprehension was, when the secret was committed to me, not that Captain Warner should destroy some particular object appointed to be his aim; my fear was, that he would destroy something very wide from the aim; and when the commissioners informed me that, at one time, there was a question as to trying the experiment on the Downs, in Sussex, I said, "Well, I hope you will take care there are no villages on one side or the other, because I am afraid that the shells may not fall on the downs, as intended by Captain Warner, but on the villages on either side, and do serious injury." The officers, however, did take their post at the Fair Oak. They waited for some time; and my noble Friend says it was necessary that there should be a particular wind in order that the balloons should go in a certain direction. [Lord INGESTRE: From a fixed spot.] Exactly, from a fixed spot; but, then, unfortunately, that necessity exposes the defect of the whole invention. They were to go to S.S.W.; let the direction be what you like, it was impossible, except under certain circumstances, that the balloon should precisely reach the point desired; and those circumstances were such circumstances as Captain Warner could not have commanded, had he stayed there, not for three days or a week, but for three years. It is not merely necessary that there should be a wind exactly in that direction, from the one fixed spot to the other fixed spot; but it is necessary that the wind must have a certain force and velocity, so as to carry the balloon in the very same time as the pilot balloon. If that is not so, the experiment fails; and if, at ten in the morning, as the noble Lord says, the wind was going at the rate of ten miles an hour to carry the pilot balloon at that rate, and if afterwards, at four in. the evening, the wind was going only at the rate of four miles an hour, and would carry the larger balloon no faster, though still going in the same direction, in that way the experiment would fail. So that unless you have the wind going in the direction you wish, and at that velocity according to which you had made your calculations, the experiment would be sure to fail. And that, in fact, makes the whole worthless, because what you would want, in war, is to be able to go from some spot fixed in order to aim at some other object likely to be fixed; and if the wind is not in that direction, or were to vary in velocity after having despatched the pilot balloon, you would fall short of the mark, or on one or other side of it. And let me here state that what I understand from these papers was, the expectation of the officers was borne out by the result. It was said that a certain number of these shells or balls were to be dropped at distances of three, four, and five miles. The noble Lord says it was afterwards agreed that they should not go more than four miles, and that they should go in a certain direction. The result was that five fell within one mile of the place to which the balloon was sent, and that a great many others fell at different points, some of them a mile and a half and two miles to the east- ward of the points for which they were intended, thereby proving that their discharge would have been a total failure if they had been used in war. It was found that the balloon, as the noble Lord says, "wabbled" in its course; it crossed in an easterly direction and disappeared; and, as I have already observed, the projectiles never reached their destination; that, in short, these balls were not found to answer at all to the engagement that had been taken that they were to fall at certain spots and fixed distances from the place from which the balloon was sent out. The commissioners very properly said, in their letters of the 21st of August, that what they had in view was, to ascertain in the first place the "certainty of aim" which Captain Warner promised. But there was no certainty of aim whatever. The next thing was, "the power of using it under all circumstances;" but it was perfectly evident that there was no power of using it under all circumstances. The noble Lord seems to think that we ought to give Captain Warner the opportunity of making the experiment with the wind more favourable to his object, or without any wind; but this could not be done when engaged in actual war; and the projectiles would then be of no use unless there was a hostile army on every side. Unless in each particular case the wind was found favourable—as, for example, that the south wind should blow when it was wished to send them to the north, and the north wind when it was wanted to project them towards the south—the employment of these missiles would be entirely useless. The third condition of the experiment was "impenetrable secrecy;" but this, after the experiment had been gone into, was impossible. There were various attempts to conceal what was going on. Mr. Green, as we have heard, took the name of Brown, the more effectually to carry out concealment; but, notwithstanding these disguises, it was evident that not merely the Admiralty and the Ordnance must have known the secret, but that it would come to be known that a balloon and a number of shells or balls had fallen, and thus the public would be made aware that a balloon was the means which Captain Warner had employed; therefore it was impossible to keep that part of the experiment a secret. I say nothing with regard to the other inventions of Captain Warner, as they were not under question. We wanted to try this long range, which certainly had at- tracted a great amount of curiosity, and would unquestionably have been, if Captain Warner's statements were verified, a most extraordinary discovery. The commissioners, however, have shown that it was not likely to be of any use; and I may observe, that so far from the use of balloons for such purposes being a new discovery, from the early commencement of the last war offers were repeatedly made to the Government to produce, by means of balloons, destructive effects against the enemy. As my hon. Friend (Mr. Brotherton) has remarked, we may have spent l,300l. too much in this experiment; but it cannot be said that, considering the fair play shown to Captain Warner, this experiment has not had every chance of success that Captain Warner could have asked. The noble Lord says, "Let us have a steam ship, and try the experiment in an operation against the gulls." I do think there have been gulls enough already, and that such a proposal as that of the noble Lord is not called for. The Motion before the House is for a Select Committee; but I do not suppose the House will be disposed to think a Committee of Inquiry necessary, seeing that in the opportunities which have already been afforded to Captain Warner, he has completely failed in the professions and promises which he has given.


was by no means satisfied that it was not necessary to pursue this inquiry further. It had been some satisfaction to him to hear the speech of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), for, notwithstanding the jocosity which he had exhibited, his speech was, on the whole candid and fair towards Captain Warner. Every kind of misrepresentation and obloquy, and all sorts of sarcasms and abusive language, had been employed against that individual; and no opportunity had been lost of raising the laugh against him, by parties who evidently knew little or nothing about the matter. He believed few of those who ridiculed the professions of Captain Warner had taken any pains whatever to understand the question. He should like to know how many had gone to Arlington-street, to see for themselves the application, to a certain extent, of the materials embraced in the discovery, where they might have seen models and plans, and everything, indeed, with the exception of the secret, as to how it was to be used in war. How many of those who talked about gulls, and deception, and delusion, went to see and examine for themselves? He knew nothing about Captain Warner; but he did go in a spirit somewhat more sceptical than now, and received evidence that did not certainly convince him that the discovery would be valuable in war, but which brought him to this conclusion, that the subject was one that was neither ridiculous, nor absurd, nor disgraceful either to Captain Warner or his abettors. It was not a matter intended to gull or cheat the Government, but one deserving of inquiry before the Government or the country ought to pronounce it a failure. Every kind of misrepresentation had been raised on this subject out of doors. The hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Hollond) had read part of a letter from Mr. Green, and he was anxious to hear whether he would pronounce the use of a balloon for such purposes absurd; but he found that Mr. Green did not speak of it as absurd. His letter merely referred to a petty squabble as to whether he should not get payment of 3l. or 4l. for certain property which he contended belonged to him. Among other misrepresentations to which Captain Warner was exposed, the experiment at Brighton was said to have been a deception; and some people seemed to connect the use of the balloon with that experiment. But the experiment at Brighton had nothing to do with the balloon. It was with what was called the invisible shell, and it formed no part of the investigation on which the commissioners had reported. As to the experiment itself, when he read the report, he thought it might be made to appear that Captain Warner had been guilty of misrepresentation, and that he had brought about delay after delay in order to tire out the officers and drive them away, so that he might be able to say he had not had a fair trial; but the moment it came out that the explosion was to be accomplished by means of a balloon, it was made evident that the object of Captain Warner could not be delay, but sufficient time to make preparation for the experiment. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had argued as if the engine ought to be used from a fixed point to a fixed point, and then said, "But you must always wait until the wind is due south or due north." But he dissented from the noble Lord's proposition altogether; he had understood that this was an invention intended to be useful at sea or against towns on the coast. Again, when he (Mr. Aglionby) read the report of the commissioners, he had been led to believe that they stated that none of the shells had fallen. [Mr. HOLLAND: The commissioners do not say so.] They did not say so; but to his mind the report led to this impression. They did not say that no balls fell, but they said no balls were found; and he had believed they meant that no balls came at all. But heavy balls were projected at different intervals, as Captain Warner had promised. What would be the expense of a further inquiry? He did not ask the noble Lord to expend the public money; but he should like a Committee before whom not only officers but scientific men might be examined; and he hoped the Committee moved for would be appointed.


began by referring to The exploits said by Captain Warner to have been performed by him with The long range in the last war. The captain stated that he had sunk two French privateers, one off Folkestone, another on the French coast. These achievements were said to have been performed from a cutter called the Nautilus, which belonged to Captain Warner's father, and which was hired by the Admiralty for the King's service. Now, the former Commission of Inquiry, of which he (Sir H. Douglas) had been a member, thought it their duty to make reference to each and all the departments under which these services were said to have been performed, and they never could find the remotest trace of any such vessel or any such circumstance, He now came to the subject immediately under discussion, and with respect to it he could only reiterate the opinion which he had formerly expressed, that there never was a greater imposition practised on the credulity of any people, and that there never had been started a proposal so absurd as that of the long range. It was an imposition, which by a specious use of terms of scientific import—applied to the long range—led many who were unlearned in these matters, and even those who had a smattering of science, to believe in the discovery of some new and tremendous kind of projectile force. And hero he would put it to the noble Lord (Lord Ingestre) whether he—not designedly, of course—but whether he had not absolutely sanctioned the imposition by applying the terms "long range," "aim," and "bombardment," when he knew that all these phrases referred to operations to be conducted by a balloon. Why, what was a range? A range was the amplitude of a path described by a pro- jectile. What was to aim—to take aim? To point the engine, before discharging the instrument? Now, all these terms led the public to suppose that the long range was a new and stupendous projectile power. Why, every nation on the Continent was astonished at our gullibility. For his own part, he had been amusing himself in calculating the magnitude of those monster balloons which would be required to take up the great weights necessary to carry out Captain Warner's plan. First, there was the small class of balloons to take up in their ascent 45 missiles, weighing 10 lbs. a piece, or say in round numbers 500 lbs. Now, to take up that weight a balloon would require to be 33 feet in diameter. Then, supposing it to be globular in form, the gas requisite for its inflation would be 18,816 cubic feet. The surface of the balloon would be 380 square yards, and the quantity of silk requisite, at three feet in width, would be 570 yards. He understood, however, that the species of silk necessary for the manufacture of balloons, cost 8s. a yard, and was made only two feet in width, so that they would have to make an addition to the calculation on that scale. The result, however, was, that a balloon of 33 feet in diameter would cost about 300l. in stuff alone, exclusive of making up, of netting, or of gas. He now came to balloons of the larger class, for the conveyance of 40 missiles of 25 lbs. weight each. They would require to be 40 feet in diameter, would contain 33,570 cubic feet of gas, would show 569 square yards of surface, and would require 854 yards of material, which latter item would cost 455l.. Now, monstrous as this was, Captain Warner stated that it was nothing to what he could do, and he talked of discharging missiles by volleys of 100 at a time, of projectiles weighing each 500 lbs. Now, for such an exploit, there would be requisite a balloon 123 feet in diameter, charged with 974,349 cubic feet of gas, having 5,298 square yards of surface, and requiring 7,947 yards of stuff—[An Hon. MEMBER: All stuff!] Yes, and costing about 3,000l.. He thought that the commissioners had done their duty most ably. Nothing could have been more complete than the failure, and, as he understood, the noble Lord himself admitted that it was a failure. It was expressly stipulated that Fairoak Tree was to be the target; but the balloon ascended to a great height, got entangled in different currents of wind, and took a very tortuous direction—a sketch showing the general nature of which he held in his hand. [This sketch the hon. and gallant Gentleman handed across the Table, amid some mirth, to Lord John Russell, who inspected it with some interest.] The balloon, he repeated, went in a most tortuous direction, and came to the ground with a bag of powder and nine balls attached, which it had not fired. The "long range," it was evident, then, was good for nothing on land; but it was said that they could use it from steamers, which could paddle in the wind's eye, so as to get a windward position. Why, fancy balloons of the magnitudes he had stated, triced up to the masts of a steamer, in a breeze of wind, either to be inflated, or already filled. He would engage to riddle them at 1,500 yards with a spherical shell from a 32 pounder. And think of the size, a balloon of 123 feet diameter! Why, the globe of the Pantheon was only 144 feet in diameter. The dome of St. Peter's was about the same size; the Whispering Gallery of St. Paul's was only 100 feet. And then, setting aside the expense, how was the process to be managed? He believed that in the Ingestre and Warner's museum there were models of steamers with apparatus for the inflation of balloons, and cases, or gasometers, to fill others. But for this, the gas must be compressed. How, and by how many atmospheres? No doubt hydrogen gas might be compressed 30 atmospheres, but it must be contained in an immensely strong case, out of which, be it remarked, it would find an exit at fissures impenetrable to any other sort of gas. He certainly did think that such a body would prove a dangerous inmate on board a steamer in the midst of fire and sparks, and lighted fuzees; and the noble Lord would find it so, when he hoisted his flag with a squadron of Balloniers. But if the flight of a balloon be as the noble Lord and Mr. Warner say, a range, why limit it to five or six miles? We have the authority of a person who has risen to great eminence in his vocation, and who, no doubt, will be aeronaut-general of the new system of warfare—we have his authority that the range of a balloon is at least as far as hence to Nassau, and then the balloons must be burnt or lost. This is to burst or destroy your gun, as well as expend your ammunition. Expensive practice this! Throw away balloons costing from 300l. to 3,000l. at every discharge. But no! it appears, the balloons are not to be let go; but to be held captives like kites, and after they had dropped their missiles be hauled back and charged again. In that ease, the lines must be pretty long ones to fulfil the condition that the people who sent up the balloon should be out of harm's way. The retaining cord must be three or four miles long, and then of course the necessity of adding vastly to the ascending power of the balloons that is increasing their magnitude, in order to carry up the rope. And what sort of rope would be necessary? Not a mere string—not a mere ratline—no—they would require at least a young hawser. He had calculated the immense additional ascending power that would be required to take up such a rope, and to stand the oblique action and vertical weight; but he would not enlarge upon that absurdity. And now as to the invisible shell, and the destruction of the John o'Gaunt, off Brighton. That destruction was not effected by the long range. Yet Captain Warner declared to Mr. Somes that it was to be by the long range, and by no other means, that he proposed to achieve it. The Captain had published a challenge in the daily newspapers, in which he undertook to destroy a hulk moored at the back of the Goodwin Sands—and in that challenge, it was distinctly stated, that the agent employed should be a projectile. When the Government had refused to go into the matter, Mr. Somes gave the ship John o'Gaunt to be destroyed by the long range; and he (Sir H. Douglas) had the authority both of the late and the present Mr. Somes for the fact that the ship was thus to be destroyed. But the destruction of the John o'Gaunt was a trick of the same class as the blowing up of the punt on the fish-pond, which consisted merely of shells sunk and anchored under the water, and a long rope attached to the punt, which at a signal given was drawn by a team of horses, and which on striking the composition blew up the vessel. The destruction of the John o'Gaunt was just the same, except that a steamer was employed to drag the vessel to unavoidable destruction instead of a team of horses. He (Sir H. Douglas) held in his hand a sketch of a vessel destroyed by means of gunpowder quite as effectually as the John o'Gaunt. We wanted no new force; we had more force in gunpowder than we required. The elastic fluid generated by the decomposition of gunpowder, expands with a velocity of 10,000 feet in a second, and at the moment of decomposition exerts a force 2,000 times greater than the atmosphere upon the same surface. We have seen a cliff, one of the cliffs of Albion, blown into the sea, and the Royal George out of it; there was nothing that might not be done by gunpowder, and by a small quantity of it; ever so little in the heart of a rock would destroy it, if you could ignite the gunpowder. He (Sir H. Douglas) detected in his first conversation with Mr. Warner that his mighty agent was a balloon. As to the "bottled lightning," said to be contained in the invisible shells, if Captain Warner would walk up to the Royal Institution any morning, Brande or Faraday would show him that there was no invention or novelty in this matter at all, and that he had merely got hold of one of those compounds that were well known, though not used, because so dangerous. When he (Sir H. Douglas) first read Mr. Warner's most astounding assertions, he came to the conclusion that the man who wrote them, if he believed in those powers, must be mad; and if he did not, he must be an impostor. Mr. Warner has himself said, "Were I to promulgate these statements to the multitude, I could only expect to be derided as an impostor, or pitied as the dupe of my own fancy." He (Sir H. Douglas) adopted the more charitable conclusion suggested by himself, that Mr. Warner was under some strange hallucination upon this subject.


said, the hon. and gallant Officer had so completely blown Captain Warner out of the field, that it was unnecessary for him to add anything. He merely wished the House to remember that if they granted a Committee, or made further inquiry into this subject, there were many Captain Warners in this town who would come forward and demand to be placed in the same position. It behoved the House, therefore, to be cautious how they voted, or they would have to try the experiments over and over again.


said, that it might have been Mr. Somes' impression that the ship was to be destroyed by the long range, but it had not been so understood. As he saw that the tone and temper of the House were against the Motion, he would not trouble them to divide.

Original Motion agreed to. Order of the Day read. Motion made that the Speaker do leave the Chair.