I rise, Sir, to address the House on this occasion with considerable reluctance. No man is more desirous than I am to see the business of this House carried on with greater rapidity than it now is; and I must apologise for engaging its attention for a short time in reference to a matter wholly personal to myself. But it is a question which I have been forced to bring under the notice of the House, affecting, as it does, my personal honour. My veracity has been called in question in reference to a statement made by me, not in this House but elsewhere. That statement has been noticed in a particular manner in this House, and I was prepared to be called to account for that statement. I am certainly somewhat ignorant of the forms of this House, but during the short time I have been a Member of it I have noticed that hon. Members have been called to account for statements which they have made elsewhere. The noble Lord at the head of the Government only the other day called the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) to account for a statement made by him out of this House; therefore, I thought that some Member of the Government would take the opportunity of calling me to an account for what I had stated, and which would have enabled me to rise in my place, and give proof of the truth of the statement I had made. I believe, according to the rules of the House, I am not at liberty to refer to what may have occurred in any previous debate, but must confine myself strictly to the question of which I have given notice. But the House will, I trust, allow me in passing just to advert to those personal remarks which were made by an hon. Member in the course of a recent debate. I allude to the remarks which fell from the hon. Mem- 25 ber for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond). It is not my intention, in adverting to those remarks, or to any other personal observations that may have been made in reference to myself, to indulge in any harsh language. I merely wish to put myself right with the House and the country. I have not the honour and pleasure of the personal acquaintance of the hon. Member for West Surrey, but I respect him too much, as an old Member of this House, as a scholar, and as a gentleman, to say anything harsh in reply to the remarks he thought proper to make in regard to myself. He, on the occasion in question said:—One of the principal of these volunteers is the hon. Member for Tynemouth, and he comes forward to drive out all the upper classes as bad administrators, and to put in himself as a good one. I find, however, in the records of the police office, that about two years ago that Gentleman was, to use a Bow Street expression, 'had up' for not fulfilling a contract he entered into to convey some poor emigrants, in the ship Swarthmore, to Australia. Now, I do not mean in the least to insinuate that the hon. Member acted in the smallest degree dishonestly by them, nor cruelly, nor unkindly; but the better his intentions were, the more honest his intentions, and the more kind, the more did he show himself a most incompetent administrator, even in matters of his own business and of daily occurrence.— [3 Hansard, cxxxviii. 2180.]The House will, perhaps, allow me to state the actual facts of this case? Now, considering the extensive transactions in which I have for years been engaged, having had to send out a very large number of ships and many thousand passengers to various parts of the world, I do not think it very strange or surprising that I should have had once to go before a court of law or been summoned to appear before a magistrate. But in this instance the ship was one which bore my name; and the hon. Member somewhat sneered at that circumstance. Now, there are ships of other flags, which I never saw, and of the owners of which I know nothing, which bear my name; and this honour was conferred on me in regard to this particular vessel, not, certainly at my own request, but at the wish of the builder. She was a ship of a particular description—she was, I conceive, a stride in advance of the ships that were previously used. Up to the date of her construction, such ships had usually been built about five times their beam to their length; and I thought ships of the customary build were much too short. I accordingly gave orders for this vessel to be made seven and a half times her beam to her length, which I took to be an im- 26 provement. Now, when a man takes a step in advance in such matters, a great number of people naturally say, "Oh! your ship will not answer; she will capsize, and incur all kinds of risks." However, she came to London, and was engaged to convey about 300 passengers to Australia. She sailed, and had got as far as the Downs, when I received a telegraphic message informing me that something was wrong with her compasses, the weather at the time being stormy and boisterous. This communication reached me at midnight, but I immediately started for the Downs, and when I got on board I found that the ship's compasses were not properly adjusted. Combined with this circumstance, there was the cry still going on that something serious must happen to this vessel. Well, I felt persuaded in my own mind that all would go right, and the captain, together with the crew, had no apprehension, and were all prepared to continue the voyage, believing there was no danger whatever in such a course. However, I said, "If anything occurs to this ship, such as might occur to any other vessel, the public will consider that I am the cause of it, and will blame me for the loss of life that may ensue; the responsibility of 300 lives therefore rests upon my shoulders, and I will not take upon myself anything so serious." Under these circumstances, although against the wishes of her commander, I ordered the vessel back to London, and sustained thereby a loss of between 2,000l. and 3,000l. There were on board of her a great number of passengers who were very badly off; but I did not deal with them as the law directs, and give them 1s. per day for their detention until another ship was prepared. I made them allowances according to their several wants, paying to some 3s., to some 4s., and to others 5s. a day. The Act did not call on me to provide in this manner for the cabin passengers; but, unfortunately, a great portion of their number were in even worse distress than the second class passengers, some of them consisting of families who had seen brighter days, and who had lately sold off their all in order to go respectably to Australia. I therefore made them compensation likewise; and in this shape, to passengers of all classes, I gave away another sum of 3,000l.; thus making my total loss by this ship, by my own free act, about 6,000l. I say my own free act, because the Government officer had passed the vessel and had declared her to be perfectly sea-worthy. Well, among such a body of passengers, 27 you might naturally expect that there would be one or two malcontents; and accordingly I found four men who were determined to impose upon my good-nature. These persons summoned me to Guildhall Police Court; and I said that, however liberal I might feel disposed to be, I should consider it a duty to resist what I regarded as extortionate demands. I am sorry to occupy the time of the House with these details; but, as the remarks of the hon. Member for West Surrey affected my personal honour, I trust that I shall not be thought guilty of egotism in thus replying to them. I will briefly quote The Times' account of what occurred on the hearing of the case at Guildhall. The newspaper report states that—Sir Chapman Marshall then retired with Mr. Alderman Copeland and the chief clerk to consider the preliminary objection, and, on returning into Court, Sir Chapman Marshall said, they were of opinion that the 44th section did not apply to the matter; and, as the summons was founded upon it, they must dismiss it. … Mr. Lindsay's conduct, under the circumstances, was of a nature highly honourable to him.Perhaps the House will also permit me to read a very few words from the comments made by the press on the case at the time. The Economist observes—We see with surprise that the conduct of Mr. Lindsay, to which we adverted last week with praise, has not been so favourably viewed by all the passengers on board the ship.The Spectator, which was so good as to compare my conduct on that occasion with that of certain steam companies, with regard to which there was considerable noise at the period in question, also contains this remark—Mr. Lindsay, the owner of the vessel which is named after him, has indeed taken a course which fully sustains the character of the British merchant. Understanding that the ship was not perfectly fit for sea, he has recalled it, and has taken upon himself all the consequent expense and loss. He has not limited his liberality to telling his passengers that they might seek passages in other ships at their own expense, and merely 'without prejudice' to their claims upon himself. He has not forced his master to prosecute the voyage in spite of a certificate from the medical officer that disease would inevitably break out within the tropics. He must incur a very large sacrifice by his handsome treatment of the passengers; but that price will probably purchase its full worth to himself.I hope the House will excuse me for detaining it so long with these personal matters, after the statements that were made on a former night by the hon. Member for West Surrey. I will now turn, Sir, to the main points, to answer which I have risen. 28 An hon. and gallant Gentleman, a Member of Her Majesty's Government, the hon. Member for Gloucester (Admiral Berkeley), a night or two ago, was pleased to say, with respect to some statements made by me elsewhere, that they were "virulent untruths." Now, I think I can satisfy the House, in a very few words, and by the best of all testimony, that instead of my statements being "virulent untruths," instead of their being over the truth, they were actually under the truth. I shall prove my statement from the Government's own witnesses. The first case that stands before me is that of a valuable steamship, which I said was ordered to proceed from the Thames to Newcastle to take on board some twelve tons of combustibles on her way to Portsmouth. My proof of that assertion, Sir, is a note which I hold in my hand from one of the departments of the Admiralty, and which I am ready to submit to the inspection of right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury benches. The note runs thus—Sir James Graham insists the Robert Lowe shall be ready to proceed to Newcastle to take on board about twelve tons of combustible stores on Monday next, previous to her going to Portsmouth to embark her troops. The owners are to provide provisions for 680 men for two months. Government will supply tanks and water-casks and provide the water. There will be from 400 to 500 tons of stores shipped as cargo. The Admiralty expect every exertion to be used in getting the ship ready for sea.But the case, Sir, is really worse than I represented it; for in this note there is this passage, written in pencil, which I did not read elsewhere—And that men be employed to work day and night; in fact, Sir James says he must not be disappointed, the service being most urgent.This note is dated the 25th of October, 1854, and signed "H. J. Wentworth." So that it was not twelve tons of combustibles that were to be taken on board. If that had been so, there might have been some excuse for an order apparently so absurd, because the articles might have been of such a description that they could not have possibly been stowed in any other ship except that which was to carry them to the Crimea. But the fact was, they were nothing but twelve tons of iron tanks or cylinders, as they are called, which were to convey combustibles. But, further, the pencilled passage gives orders to the owners of the vessel to work night and day. To do what? Surely, to get these 680 men out? For I wish the 29 House to remember that at this time our army was very nearly driven out of the Crimea, and more troops were urgently demanded at such a critical juncture. But no; on the contrary, this vessel was actually ordered to go about 1,000 miles out of her way, and her owners were pressed to work night and day to get her ready, that she might take on board twelve tons of cylinders. If, however, the Government are not satisfied that the note I have read is a sufficient proof, here is another, from the dockyard at Deptford, and dated two days afterwards, namely, the 27th of October, 1854——begs to acquaint—,that in consequence of a telegraphic message just received, it is not now intended that the Robert Lowe should proceed to the Tyne, as the cylinders intended to be shipped in her will be sent thence to Woolwich.These, Sir, are my proofs from the Admiralty's own witnesses of the truth of my first statement, and they are at the service of the Government. In support of my next assertion I will adduce similar testimony, that of their own letters. Here they are. I stated that a steamer, valued at nearly 100,000l., was ordered to come round from the Clyde to Liverpool, in order to be surveyed, because the surveyor would not or could not go to her. Now, here is a letter from the office of the Directors of the Transport Service and Prisoners of War, dated Admiralty, June 8, 1855, and marked "Immediate." This case is actually even worse than the one I stated, for it was not merely that they ordered the ship to be sent from the Clyde to Liverpool in order that she might be surveyed, but all the way round from Greenock to Deptford. This was only so far back as the 8th of this month. If the Government wish me to rake up old stories, I can bring plenty forward, but I say that in the present month of June a ship was actually ordered all the way round the land from Greenock to Deptford, in order that the Surveyor should go on board and survey her. The letter states that they would accept the ship, but only upon the condition that she was that moment prepared to come round to the river Thames to be surveyed and fitted for horses. That letter was signed "E. Giffard." The owner remonstrated in a letter dated the 9th of June, as follows—Sir, the Columbian is quite ready; but do I understand rightly from your letter that the ship is to come round to Deptford before being finally accepted?30 The owner was thunderstruck, as well he might be, at such a proposal, and wrote to know what they meant. The reply he received was the following letter—Sir—In answer to your letter of this day, I am commanded by the Directors of the Transport Service to acquaint you that they cannot spars their officer at Liverpool to proceed to Greenock to survey the Columbian, as his duties require his presence at his own port.That is dated Admiralty, June 9, and likewise signed "E. Giffard." Here were cases in which the Government required that the ship should come to the surveyors, when it was stated by one of the owners that bringing his valuable ship from Glasgow to Liverpool would cost 400l. The consequence was that the merchant, the owner of the ship, who was a Manchester man and a man of business, was disgusted, and gave an order to the broker to write a letter, of which the following is a copy—No. 8, Austinfriars, June 12.Sir—I was duly favoured with yours of the 9th and 11th instant, in reference to the screw steamship Columbian. The owners decline to incur the heavy expense of sending so large a ship round to Liverpool or Deptford without first knowing that your surveyors approved of her, and they felt your demand to be so unreasonable and unbusiness-like, when at so small an expense you might have sent a surveyor to the ship at Greenock, that by their orders I have engaged this ship and the European elsewhere.JOHN GLADSTONE.The fact is, that that very day the ship was engaged to the French Government. Is not this a proof, by the mouths of their own witnesses, of the truth of the statement I made elsewhere? Now, the next case I think was the ordering of a steamship to go from Deptford to Woolwich, because the engineers resided at Woolwich, and it was more for their convenience to go on board there. Sir, the thing is so monstrous that it is really difficult to believe that it could have occurred. In this case I have no correspondence, but, if the House desires it, or if there is any doubt about it, I am prepared to bring witnesses to the bar of the House, who will swear to the truth of the statement I have made. In regard to the fourth statement, which was in reference to sending out 3,000 horses for the use of the army in the East, the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans) one night in the House had remarked to me that he was very anxious that 3,000 horses should be sent out to the Crimea, as the cavalry regiments were very much in want of them; but that, though the horses were ready, 31 the Government had over and over again told him that "they could not find ships." It was about the 1st of April that the hon. and gallant Gentleman made that statement, but at the end of that month he repeated it, and then said that the same high authority had told him that they could not find ships. On the 1st of May I wrote the following letter to the hon. and gallant Member—8, Austinfriars, City, May 1.Dear Sir De Lacy Evans—You mentioned to me a short time since that you were anxious to see sent out some 3,000 horses for the division of the army you commanded in the East, and that, though the horses were ready, the Government over and over again told you they could not find ships. I expressed my suprise to you, and I thought that where there was a will there was surely a way. I referred, and found at the very time the Government were telling you they could not find ships, a friend of mine had in one letter offered to Lord Panmure a magnificent fleet of, I dare say, the finest and swiftest ships in the world, ready in twenty-four hours' notice to convey, at the low rate of some 16s. or 17s. per ton register, 2,200 horses from this country to the Crimea, and that the only answer he received was the usual one, that it would be considered. That day I suppose that important letter was popped into the great big waste basket at the War Office, or sent to the Admiralty, and lost in the chaos which there appears to reign supreme, for he heard no more about it. These ships have, of course, since that time all gone on other voyages. Last night, in the House, you told me again that the horses were still eating their heads off, while our army prayed for them in the East, and that the same cause kept them here—no ships, at least no suitable ships.It is sad to think of all this perverse—what shall I call it?—perverse imbecility, if not something worse. I spoke to my Friend in the city this morning, and here is another fleet already for your horses at about the same low rates. … They are all ships averaging from 1,200 to 2,100 tons register, and could carry in safety the number of horses affixed to each.My Friend gave me the names of the vessels; they were capable of carrying 2,660 horses in all, and he was prepared to procure them that morning for the Government. Now, this is in point of fact based upon conversation between the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster and myself, and I repeat here, in my place, that that conversation did take place between us, that I sent a letter to him of which what I have read is a copy, which is at the service of the Government if they want it, and that the hon. and gallant Member acknowledged it at the time with great courtesy. I therefore repeat the statement here which I made elsewhere, and I have no doubt that the hon. and gallant Member is prepared 32 to confirm it. As to the question of the offer of such ships having been made to the Government, I presume that the Government will not deny that fact, because I think they will find the letter offering the ships, the date being somewhere about the 17th, 18th, and 19th of March. They will find on inquiry that such a letter was sent to the War Office, and that it was merely acknowledged and referred to as having been handed over to the Admiralty, who never answered it at all. Now, Sir, there was another statement which I made; I said that I doubted very much if the Returns which were lately laid upon the table of the House were correct. This is much more important than anything else I said. This House will remember that on the 29th of January a Return was ordered, upon a Motion made by myself, of the stores sent to the East, from the 1st of January, 1854, to the 1st of January, 1855, containing the nature of the service, the tonnage of the vessels, the period at which they were sent out, and when they arrived at the East. It is only some ten or twelve days since that these Returns were laid on the table of the House. The Government have been no less than five months making them up. The Returns themselves are exceedingly important, considering the amount of money the House had voted for the maintenance of the army in the East, and that that army died unclothed, unsheltered, and unfed, and I was very desirous to get at what quantity of stores had been bought, and what quantity had been sent out. Well, Sir, I doubted the correctness of the Returns, but the right hon. Baronet the late First Lord of the Admiralty, told me, and not only me but the House, that the books of the Admiralty, he was prepared to say, were as well, if not better kept, than the books in Austin Friars. I had good reasons for wanting to know what quantity of stores had been sent out, and I think the House will agree with me that I arrived at a sound conclusion when I expressed that doubt, for the Government have been five months compiling these Returns, which, had they kept proper books, might have been made out and laid upon the table, at all events, within one month instead of five. But what were the Returns after all? They do not give a, single item of the commissariat stores, which are the most important. The House wanted to know how much food, how much of the necessary articles of life, had been sent 33 out; but these Returns give nothing more than the quantity of shot and shell, gun carriages, and medicines sent out last year. Why is it that a Return has not been made of the stores sent out to the army in the East, which was one of the Returns for which the Motion was made? Now, as to the correctness of the other Return. Here it is; "A Return of the number of Transports engaged, with the work they have done," ordered on the 29th of January. The House will remember that I was constantly urging the Government to lay this Return on the table, but they have taken five months to prepare it also, and I believe that, had it not been that they were so urged, we should not have received it yet. The first ship I take up is the transport No. 102, and I call the attention of the Government to this particular ship, because I find that the captain is now in London, and he is willing to make an affidavit of the truth of the facts which he has stated to me. That ship is returned by the Admiralty as having made twelve voyages between the 10th of June, the time she left, in 1853, to the 31st of December, 1854, and to have taken so many horses and so forth, whereas in the list which the captain has given me, instead of twelve voyages, she is set down as having made twenty-one voyages within those two dates. The Return says that 713 tons of cargo have been sent, but I find that 1,063 tons were carried. Again, the Government return says that six military officers have been carried in that ship, but I find that she has really carried 190 officers. The Return mentions three horses as having been conveyed in the ship, but in truth she has carried 124 horses, 227 sheep, and fifteen bullocks. The Return also says she has carried 324 soldiers, but, in fact, she has carried no less than 4,306. The Return is silent as to her horse-power, and cannot state the quantity of coals consumed. But here is the consumption of fuel, day by day, which the Government could have ascertained with very little trouble. I say this is a serious matter. What was the object of the Return? I wanted to find out what had become of the 8,500,000l. of the people's money voted by Parliament. No information can be gathered from this Return, for I have a right to infer that if it is wrong in one instance it is wrong in others. This Return, then, I say, is not merely waste paper, but it is worse, for it deceives both the public and the House. I might call the attention of the House to 34 many other points, but I do not wish to occupy more of its time than is absolutely necessary for my own vindication. I must, however, be permitted to remark that one thing struck me in this Return as somewhat strange, that while certain ships are only getting 20s. per ton others are being paid 31s. and 32s. 9d. per ton. Here is one at 33s. 9d., which was reduced from that rate only in March, and that vessel is described to me as a "hogged" ship, something like broken-backed, or if any hon. Member will go and look at the floating battery now lying in Mr. Scott Russell's yard, he will see what I mean, although of course to a greater extent than in the case of the vessel I refer to. I find that ship was kept on until March at 32s. 9d., while magnificent thirteen year old ships were earning 20s. only. I do not say there has been anything wrong, but I have been told the owner of that vessel went out to Constantinople with letters and arranged the business out there. I know it will be said by any Member of the Government who may do me the honour of replying to my remarks, that it was impossible to pay off all the ships at that time. That is very questionable, for most of the shipowners to whom the circular of reduction was sent agreed at once to take the reduced rate of 20s. per ton. I think I have shown the House by the best possible means that I am not a teller of "virulent untruths." That statement, those words have grieved me deeply—they have gone forth far and wide wherever my name is known—not only in the seaports of England, but in the seaports of the world—and that name, which I trust and believe has been respected by others, has been stigmatised by a Member of the Government of England as that of a teller of "virulent untruths." I will not reply by any harsh words, but I declare that if the hon. and gallant Gentleman had taken from me all that which I have gained by my industry—if he had taken from me all my ships and all my capital, he would not have done me a worse injury than by depriving me, as he attempted to do, of my good name. During my career through life, from the state of a humble seaboy to my present position as a Member of this House, I may have made some envious enemies, who have endeavoured to stay me in my onward course, but no one has ever impeached my veracity. Therefore I say sincerely I have felt deeply that a Member of the Government should rise in his place 35 in Parliament, and, by denouncing me as a stater of untruths, should endeavour to rob me of that character which I value above all price, which was once my only capital, and which, if all my property should be taken from me, would enable me to regain fortune and position—a character for adherence to truth. I will now bring my observations to an end, although I could say much more on the maladministration of the Admiralty; and, thanking the House for its patient endurance, will conclude by saying, in the words of our great poet—Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;But he that filches from me my good name,Robs me of that which not enriches him,And makes me poor indeed.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
Much, Sir, as I regret the interruption to the public business of the House which the introduction of this new topic must occasion, I confess that I am personally grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making the statement which we have just heard. The hon. Gentleman has thought proper in another place to make a statement impugning, in no very moderate terms—in language a good deal stronger than that which he has now used—the administration of the Admiralty, not only since I have had the honour of a seat at that Board, but for some time before. I was surprised that the hon. Gentleman did not make this statement on a former evening, when he had ample opportunity for doing so. I certainly had expected that when the hon. Member for Aylesbury, the leader of the Administrative Reform Association, made the Motion which he did a few nights ago, he would have been better supported by the members of that Association; and I was more particularly surprised that the hon. Member for Tynemouth did not rise in his place and make in this House the accusations which he had made against the Admiralty at Drury Lane, and which he has now repeated. The hon. Gentleman says that he waited for some explanatory statement from me, and seems quite to forget the maxim of English justice, that the accusation ought to precede the defence. I will not, however, occupy the time of the House by further preface, but will proceed to state the real facts of the different cases brought forward by the hon. Gentleman, I will use no harsh language. I will not tell him 36 that he has said what is not true. I will leave the House to judge for itself, after hearing my explanations, whether the hon. Gentleman is warranted in making the statements which he has made with respect to the alleged mal-administration of the transport service, and of the Admiralty. Now, Sir, I have never said, and never intended to say, that the whole of the hon. Gentleman's statements were destitute of foundation. The hon. Gentleman told his audience at Drury Lane that he did not pretend to eloquence, and that what he dealt in were facts. But the hon. Gentleman dresses up his facts a bit here, and colours them a bit there, until a person acquainted only with the naked truth, would hardly know it again after it had been submitted to the process. Many persons have objected to historical novels, on the ground that they corrupted the pure stream of history by mixing up facts with fiction. I make precisely the same complaint of the hon. Gentleman. He has, in addition to that eloquence which we have heard to-night, a most lively imagination; and when he once gives the rein to his fancy, it seems as if his imagination altogether overpowered his memory, for the fictitious parts of his statement considerably exceed those which are true. The statements of the hon. Gentleman this evening are substantially the same as those which he made at the meeting at Drury Lane, and as I have a printed report before me of his speech on that occasion, I will refer to that report of what he said, in order that I may not inadvertently misrepresent anything which fell from him, and I will deal with his assertions one by one, as they were made on that occasion. One of the latter statements made by the hon. Gentleman to-night was the first made by him at Drury Lane—namely, that relating to the transport of horses. The hon. Gentleman said that the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans) had made to him the following statement. I now read from the printed report:—I have been waiting for more than a month to send out three thousand horses to the division which I commanded in the Crimea, which is very much in want of horses. I have bought the horses, but the Admiralty tell me they cannot find tonnage to send them out.Now, it is not true that three thousand horses were wanted for the Second Division; it is not true that the hon. and gallant General bought them; it is not true that the gallant Officer applied to 37 the Admiralty for conveyance; it is not true that he had been told by the Admiralty that no tonnage could be found for those horses. If the hon. Gentleman, this great administrative reformer, had taken the trouble to make himself acquainted with the mode in which horses are purchased for the army, he must have been aware that the statement he attributed to the hon. and gallant Member could not be true; and I need not add that all who know the hon. and gallant General must be certain that he could not have stated to the hon. Gentleman that which was not true. I am quite ready to admit that the hon. Gentleman has very much ornamented his story by the introduction into it of the hon. and gallant General's name, just as the account of the meeting at Drury Lane has been ornamented by introducing into the report of the persons present at the meeting the names of a great number of hon. Gentlemen who were said to have been on the platform, but who never entered the Theatre. [Cheers, and a cry of "Question!"] Were not the misrepresentations of the hon. Gentleman to the question? The hon. Gentleman said that not a syllable had fallen from his lips at Drury Lane which was not strictly true, and I have now pointed out, in the first sentence uttered by the hon. Gentleman, four circumstances which he alleged as facts, but which are utterly untrue. The hon. Gentleman might have heard something about a want of horses, and something about a difficulty in finding transport, but when he attributed what he had gathered from hearsay to the hon. and gallant General, he put words into the mouth of the hon. and gallant Officer which could never have fallen from his lips. But now I will show to the House what has, in fact, been the conduct of the Admiralty with regard to the transport of horses? The only date mentioned in the hon. Gentleman's speech was the 1st of May. I have, therefore, called for an account of what has been done by the Admiralty in sending out horses since that date. The Admiralty are guided in preparing tonnage by the requisitions of the Horse Guards and the War Department, and on the 1st of May the number of horses for which transport was required was 2,030. The requisitions in May were for 394, and those up to June 15 were for 386, making in all 2,810. The number of horses which have sailed or been embarked for the Crimea from the 1st of May to the present 38 time is 2,649, leaving 161 to be provided for. The House will thus see that the number of horses for which conveyance was required on the 1st of May was not 3,000, as stated by the hon. Gentleman, but only 2,000. More than that number has been sent out, and of the total number for which we have been called to provide up to the 15th of this month, only 161 have not been embarked. There are at the present time fitting out, and nearly ready, horse transports for 230 horses, and we have also heard of four vessels on their way home that will take 738 more, making thus a total provision for 968 horses. I am quite aware that further transport for horses will be required; but we have, in fact, ordered home from the Black Sea, transports capable of carrying 1,500 horses, and we are in daily expectation of their arrival. Hon. Gentlemen may say that we ought not to wait for this, and ought to have taken up other vessels. I am not ashamed to say, that however deep the interest of the war, we are bound to have some little regard to the public purse, and with such ample means of transport as we have at our disposal, we should not have been justified in recklessly taking up any more vessels. We have in the service of Government at this moment, transports capable of conveying 5,500 horses at once. They are of course mainly employed in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. They have been used for the conveyance of horses for the Turks, for the French Government, for our own army, for the Sardinian contingent, and of the horses and mules bought for the land transport service in Spain and various parts of the Mediterranean. The Admiralty wrote to the officers in the Black Sea, desiring them to send home such horse transports as could be spared as soon as possible, and we had every reason to suppose that many of them would have been here before this time. But two circumstances have delayed their arrival. We undertook to convey 2,000 horses for the Sardinians, and made provision accordingly; but they brought down to Genoa 3,000 horses, and provision had thus to be made unexpectedly for 1,000 horses more than we had been apprised of, and this delayed the return to this country of transports for 1,000 horses. Next, the generals seemed to have considered—and I have no doubt they were right—that the most pressing demand was the conveyance to the Crimea of the land transport animals. These two circum- 39 stances have delayed the arrival here of vessels which we had a right to expect, and we should not have been justified in taking up additional transports when we had good grounds for supposing that the vessels on the point of arriving would have been more than enough to enable us to satisfy the demands of the War Department. The hon. Gentleman talked of the fleets of transports which the Government might have taken up; but those which he mentioned were all sailing vessels. Now, the authorities of the army had remonstrated against the employment of transports of that description; and although the Government had, in the first instance, at a much earlier period in the year, when there was ample time for their voyage to the Crimea, made use of sailing vessels to a certain extent, we thought that we were now bound to comply with, the reasonable and just request of the military authorities, that, in future, horses should not be sent out except in steam transports. The hon. Gentleman may not be aware of the amount of service which has been performed in moving about men and horses during this year. He has complained of the incorrectness of the return for which he moved, and has stated that the vessel to which he more particularly alluded had carried more officers and horses than appeared separately in the return. Very likely it was so, for in addition to the horses and men set down as conveyed from this country the vessel has been employed in carrying troops of different descriptions in the Black Sea. The return only professed to state in detail the men and horses conveyed from England, but it is stated on the face of the document that the ship has also been employed in the transport of other troops, with whom there certainly must have been officers, and very probably horses, although not stated in detail. But how has the Admiralty shown any want of energy? I have before me a return which I have reason to know is considerably below the truth. [Mr. ROEBUCK: Why does it not state the exact truth?] Some experience in this House has taught me that nothing is more impolitic, as the hon. Members below the gangway are, by this time, probably aware, than to overstate a case, and therefore I always take very good care to be within the mark. Well, from the 1st of January to the 31st of May we have landed in the Crimea 90,000 men, consisting of English, French, Sardinians, and Turks, and we 40 have conveyed 13,000 more to the Mediterranean, making in all 103,000 men. We have also provided accommodation for 3,500 more, making thus a grand total of 106,500 men. We have conveyed 12,460 horses, and we have provided transport for 1,590 more, making in all 14,050 horses. I do not think, therefore, that we have much reason to be ashamed of the inefficiency of the Admiralty. I have now, I think, pretty well disposed of the first case of the hon. Member for Tynemouth. I now come to the case of the vessels in the Clyde to which the hon. Gentleman referred; and I must at the outset express my surprise that the hon. Member should not have stated that case with more accuracy, because he must have had the most intimate acquaintance with all the facts of the case, seeing that the vessels were offered to the Government by a house of which he is himself a partner, and it is very necessary to bear in mind throughout all these cases the connection which the hon. Gentleman has with the vessels, the circumstances of which he has brought forward. I will not say that he has an interest in them, because, as the hon. Gentleman is generally supporter of the Government, I should be sorry to lose his support, and I trust, therefore, that he has sufficiently assigned over all his interest in any of them to Mr. John Gladstone, in whose name those Government contracts, and vessels hired to Government, now stand, which were in the name of the hon. Gentleman or his firm, before he came into Parliament. Mr. Gladstone is, I believe, the father of one of the partners of the hon. Gentleman. But, at any rate, in the case of many of the vessels mentioned in his speech, he has applied to the Admiralty in reference to their pay—he has given directions as to their movements and the appointment of their officers—he has, in short, interfered in every detail of their management, and I am confident, therefore, that he must have been well acquainted with all the transactions in which the ships in question, which were tendered by Mr. Gladstone, were concerned. There is thus no excuse for the inaccuracies into which he has fallen, as there might have been if he had merely given the case upon hearsay. The ships in question were two—the European and the Columbian. The hon. Gentleman's statement was that a tender of those ships had been made to the Government, but "the conditions attached to the acceptance of 41 them were such that it was impossible that any man of business could agree to them;" that they were consequently offered to, and accepted by, the French Government. It does not appear from the hon. Gentleman's speech whether these conditions were special conditions as regarded these ships only, or general as applying to all ships taken up by the Admiralty. However, I will deal with both cases. The facts, as regards these two vessels, are as follow. The first vessel that was tendered was the European, which was offered to Government in March last, through Mr. Gladstone, for 60s. per ton, the vessel to be ready by the 20th of April. The hon. Gentleman stated that the negotiation had come to an end because a condition was proposed by the Admiralty so onerous that it was impossible to accept it. But what was that condition? The ship was wanted as a horse transport; and for that purpose a height between the decks of seven feet six inches is required. The European had a height of only six feet six inches, and was, therefore, declined, because the price asked was too high, and her decks were too low. The only condition exacted was, that she should be fit for the service, and, being unfit, she was declined. The Columbian was offered to the Government in May, and she was also declined, because she had not the requisite height for horses. The owners asked whether, if they could make her of the proper height, and have her ready by a particular day, the Government would positively take her. To that the Admiralty replied that they could not give an answer until they knew whether she would really be ready. So far from the owners thinking that unreasonable they thanked the Government, and after some further correspondence they at length reduced the price to 50s. per ton; and the Government then offered to engage the vessel provided she was ready to come round to the river to be surveyed and fitted. The owners replied that the Government had allowed the Oneida to be fitted at Greenock, and asked to be allowed to fit the Columbian there also. Now, the House is aware that a great deal of observation has been made as to the fittings for horses in our transports in spite of all the care we can take, and the fact was that the Oneida had been so badly fitted at Greenock that the Government determined to allow no more to be fitted, except under the superintendence of their own officers, who were experienced in such 42 fitting. They therefore told the owners that the Columbian might come round to Liverpool of Deptford, at which places we had such officers, to be surveyed and fitted. The hon. Gentleman used some very strong language, and said that the owners were thunderstruck at the order. I am surprised at this assertion, for when a similar request was made to Mr. Gladstone as to a vessel of his own, so far from being thunderstruck he acceded to it at once, and ordered his vessel to the river. The Robert Lowe came round from the Clyde to Deptford to be surveyed and fitted. Two other vessels—the Indian, and one whose name I forget—came to Liverpool, in a similar manner, without any objection being raised; and, therefore, I cannot see how the Government can be charged with acting unreasonably in this particular case, when the same requisition had already been complied with by the hon. Member himself, and by other respectable firms. So much for any special conditions as regards these vessels. Was the objection to any general conditions? I have heard that objections have been taken to the charter parties required by the Admiralty. Now, when it came to the knowledge of the Government that their form of charter party was objected to, they were at great pains to ascertain whether it was really so unreasonable. They submitted it to five large shipping firms in the City—Messrs. Lachlan and Macleod, Messrs. Toulmin, Livingstone, and Co., Mr. D. Dunbar, the Peninsular and Oriental, and the Royal Mail Companies; and the answer they received was to the effect that, although one or two alterations might be attended with improvement, nothing more could be fairly required of the Government. But the hon. Gentleman himself has no fault to find with the charter parties. He agrees in the opinion of the firms whom I have named. The hon. Gentleman stated at a meeting of the Administrative Reformers at Norwich, that he waited upon Sir J. Graham, and offered to give him the best advice in his power with respect to the management of the transport department. The hon. Gentleman said that Sir James received him very kindly, but that nothing ever came of it. But if the hon. Gentleman had been perfectly candid, he would not have omitted to state what has occurred since I have come to the Board. The hon. Gentleman came to the Admiralty and repeated his offer of assistance. I hope that I received the hon. Gentleman 43 with all the courtesy due to him, but as I had only recently come to the Admiralty, I desired Captain Milne, who had been at the head of the transport service, to be present. The interview, therefore, took place in the presence of a witness, to whom I have since referred, in order to ascertain whether my impression of what passed coincided with that of the gallant officer. I found that his recollection entirely agreed with my own, and I am therefore perfectly satisfied as to the accuracy of the account which I am about to give the House of what passed. I asked the hon. Member, first, whether the mode of taking up transports was the best that could be devised? The hon. Gentleman replied that it was as good a course as any that the Government could pursue, and indeed he subsequently made a statement to the same effect in this House, both as to the mode of taking up vessels and as to the price which we paid for our transports. There has been an opinion afloat, in which, I observe, the Committee presided over by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield appears in some degree to participate, namely, that there has been some fraud or collusion amongst the officers dealing with the contracts. I asked the hon. Gentleman, therefore, if that was his opinion. The hon. Gentleman replied that he had never seen any trace of such collusion, and that he believed the parties to be perfectly honest. I then asked him if he had any objection to the charter parties? His reply was, that there might be some slight alterations suggested; but that on the whole he agreed in their form, and that they contained nothing more than was required for the protection of the Government, and entailed no hardship or inconvenience on the merchants contracting. The hon. Gentleman then produced papers as to his mode of taking up vessels, but it was obvious on looking at them, as the hon. Gentleman himself at once admitted, that they were not applicable to the Government mode of doing business. The only suggestion that the hon. Gentleman made was with reference to the mode of keeping the accounts, in order to show more clearly how the different transports were employed. Captain Milne immediately took the hon. Gentleman into another room, and pointed out to him that the very improvement he recommended had been in use at the Admiralty for the last year. I do not pretend to give an opinion as to the mode in which 44 the hon. Gentleman manages his business, but, when he says that nothing is so gross as the mismanagement at the Admiralty, and that there chaos reigns uncontrolled, and when I am able to state that after a most friendly conversation with the hon. Gentleman the only suggestion which he could make was already in practice, I will leave the House to judge of the accuracy of the opinion which the hon. Member has stated as to our mode of doing business. I am, however, able to give the House further proof of the extent to which the hon. Gentleman approves of our charter parties. It is very remarkable that the hon. Gentleman is so satisfied with the charter parties of the Government that he actually copies them. The hon. Member contracts with the French Government. Of course, there is no objection to a Gentleman sitting in this House doing so; and the hon. Gentleman entered largely into contracts of that description—generally contriving, by the by, to obtain 5s. or 6s. per ton more from the French Government than the Admiralty pays for the vessels which we take up. [Mr. LINDSAY: Allow me to explain.] I have not the least objection to the hon. Gentleman getting a better price from the French Government; but, at all events, it is not a proof that the business of the English Admiralty is so ill-managed. I have in my hand a charter party between the firm of W. S. Lindsay and Co. and his Excellency the French Minister of War, and I find that it is not an imitation merely of that of the English Government, but a servile copy. For instance, everybody knows that certain risks are excepted in every charter party; but the House will be a little surprised to learn that in the charter party between the hon. Gentleman and the French Government there are specially excepted all risks "from the act of God and the Queen's enemies." The words should obviously be "the Emperor's enemies;" but the hon. Gentleman adheres rigidly to our words, however unfitted for his purpose. Again, the hon. Gentleman undertook to provision the French officers. He bound himself to give them breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper, "and a pint of good port or other good foreign wine," actually excluding all French wines from their mess table. That would be a very natural stipulation to make with respect to English officers, but is a very strange one with regard to French. The 45 fact was, the hon. Gentleman found our charter parties so good that he did not like to depart from them in the least degree; and he, therefore, copied them as they stood, however absurd they might be when applied to a French contract. I now come, Sir, to what the hon. Gentleman said was his great case, namely, the vessel which he said was directed to call at Newcastle on her way to Portsmouth. Now, I admit at once, that the ship was directed to go to Newcastle, not "on her way," as the hon. Gentleman said, but, as he has truly read from the letter of Lieutenant Wentworth to-night, previously to her going to Portsmouth. The hon. Gentleman stated, at the Drury Lane meeting, that—The steamer was under orders to go to Portsmouth to take up troops immediately for the Crimea, but orders were given by the Admiralty to the owner, that in her way to Portsmouth she must call at Newcastle.This statement is said to have been received with "shouts of laughter, 'hear, hear,' and cheers;" and, of course, with a packed audience and loose assertions, it is very easy to make people cheer or cry "shame!" He went on to say—If this was not so serious a matter for the country, he could laugh himself—but to be ordered to go to Newcastle to call for those twelve tons of stores! The owner wrote to the Secretary to the Admiralty, saying that those twelve tons could be brought up from Newcastle for 6l., but that it would cost the country 2,000l. for the ship to go round for them. The Admiralty wrote a very angry letter, as if he were presuming to dictate to them, and ordered the ship to go round. The owner again remonstrated, and an order came down in which it was said that, 'Sir J. Graham insisted that the ship should be made ready to go to Newcastle to take in twelve tons of combustibles on the following Monday, on her way to Portsmouth.' Still the owner said he could not put the country to the cost of 2,000l., and he would not let the ship go let the consequences be what they might. In three days, the Admiralty being ashamed to write a contradictory order, a letter came from another department at Deptford, in which it was said, 'Captain Austin begs to inform Mr.—' [Cries of 'Name, name!'] He would give the name to any one in confidence, but he did not think he should be required to state it publicly. Well, 'Captain Austin begs to inform Mr.—, that in consequence of a telegraphic message just received, it is not intended that his ship should go to the Tyne, as the articles at Newcastle will be sent thence to Woolwich.' And so they found out their mistake at last.I hope the House will forgive me, but I must beg their particular attention to each individual assertion, because I will show, assertion by assertion, that this alleged case of gross mismanagement is utterly untrue. 46 The name not given by the hon. Gentleman is that of Mr. Stringer, the partner of the hon. Gentleman, at least, if not his partner, the gentleman who communicated constantly with the Government on his business; and the ship in question is the Robert Lowe, a vessel which belonged to the hon. Gentleman, before he was a Member of this House, and which, having been transferred to Mr. Gladstone since the hon. Gentleman came into Parliament, was chartered to the Government by Mr. Gladstone in October last. The hon. Gentleman, however, constantly interferes in the management of this vessel, and, therefore, the whole of the circumstances must be perfectly known to himself. Now, why was the Robert Lowe ordered to Newcastle? At the time this transaction took place, the Government were very anxious to obtain the means of forcing the entrance into the harbour of Sebastopol. The late First Lord of the Admiralty communicated with Mr. Rendel, an eminent engineer; and after consulting with him and other gentlemen whom it is unnecessary to mention, it was determined that large explosive cylinders should be constructed for the purpose of blowing up the sunken ships at the entrance of the harbour. Mr. Rendel recommended that these cylinders should be constructed by an eminent manufacturer of Newcastle, Mr. Armstrong of the Elswick Iron Works. This gentleman was represented to Sir J. Graham as a most intelligent person, and one who was more likely than anybody to construct these cylinders in a way that would be effective. The reason why the Robert Lowe was ordered to Newcastle was, in consequence of the following letter from Mr. Armstrong to Sir Baldwin Walker, the surveyor to the Admiralty, dated October 20, 1854—I take the liberty of suggesting that much valuable time would be saved by shipping them direct from the Tyne. They cannot, I believe, be sent by continuous railway to any of the Royal arsenals, and the delay and risk of accident attending the shifting of such heavy things from one railway carriage to another, and the cartage of them from stations, would be considerable. The powder for charging the magazines might be obtained from Tynemouth Fort (where I understand there is a sufficiency), and sent to these works, so that the apparatus might be delivered here ready for use, without requiring subsequent disturbance.This, Sir, was the reason why the Robert Lowe was ordered to Newcastle. On this subject a letter has recently been received from Mr. Armstrong, stating the transaction more fully, written after he had seen 47 the statement made at Drury Lane, in which he says—I believe it was my own suggestion that the steamer which was to convey these cylinders to the Crimea should take them on board at Newcastle, in order that they might be charged and finally closed up before they left the manufactory; and you will recollect that, in consequence of this course not having been pursued, the cylinders had ultimately to be charged and closed up one by one as they were received on board the Robert Lowe, in the Thames, and that actually more time was thus consumed than was occupied in the making of the whole apparatus. The weight of the cylinders and their accompaniments is enormously understated by Mr. Lindsay. I cannot to-day (being Sunday) get you the particulars, but I believe the weight was nearer fifty tons than twelve. How Mr. Lindsay can make out that it would have cost 2,000l. to send this vessel (of which I understood he was himself the owner) to Newcastle I cannot conjecture, but I will venture to say that the demurrage ultimately incurred in consequence of not sending her there would be at least an equivalent expense, besides involving a great delay, which (as was then considered) was of the utmost importance to be avoided. There was no convenience at Woolwich such as we had at Elswick for charging these heavy cylinders, and the authorities there were so scrupulous about risk of explosion that they would not sanction the operation being performed within the arsenal.The real weight of the cylinders was upwards of seventy tons; but that is of little consequence except as a further example of the inveterate inaccuracy of the hon. Member for Tynemouth. I hope that I have now satisfied the House that there were good reasons for ordering the Robert Lowe to Newcastle, that it was done out of no whim, or freak, or senseless caprice on the part of the Admiralty, but for a good and sufficient reason. The hon. Gentleman went on to say that the owner wrote a strong letter of remonstrance to the Admiralty, stating that he would not expose the vessel to this risk—that he received an angry letter from the Admiralty, a subsequent order to send her to Newcastle, and ultimately answered that, be the consequence what it might, he would not send her to Newcastle. Now, in all this there is not a syllable of truth. This was the letter—London, October 26, 1854.In obedience to the command of Sir James Graham and the Lords of the Admiralty, the Robert Lowe, steam transport, will be ready to proceed to Newcastle on Monday; Mr. Mare, the shipbuilder, having promised to have the work ordered by Government completed on Saturday next. Everything else, as far as I am concerned, is in readiness. Might I be allowed to point out to their Lordships the risk attending a ship of so large a tonnage being sent to the north of England at this season of the year, and at a period when such great destruction has been caused by 48 the storms which are experienced there? Should any accident occur, it may detain the regiment going in the Robert Lowe for the sake of twelve tons of combustibles. Every order received by me shall be strictly attended to.JOHN GLADSTONE.That was the only letter which was received by the Admiralty. It did not bear out the description of the letter given by the hon. Gentleman, and when he stated that the owner refused at all hazards to send the ship to Newcastle, he certainly stated what was directly the reverse of the truth, for Mr. Gladstone said in his letter that she was ready to go. Nor was the answer from the Admiralty an angry letter, or a positive order for the ship to go to Newcastle. The answer was an intimation that the vessel was not to go to Newcastle. But why did she not go? Not in consequence of any change of determination on the part of the Admiralty, not because the Admiralty had found out their mistake, though they were ashamed to confess it, as the hon. Gentleman was pleased to assert, but because the ship was not ready at the time appointed. She was not ready at the time when the service was to be performed; a delay was incurred in consequence of her not being ready; and ultimately the cylinders were sent up at a considerable expense by railway. The hon. Gentleman said that they might be sent up for 6l., but the actual cost was 97l. They were sent up and charged at Woolwich, instead of at Newcastle, not, I repeat, in consequence of any change of purpose on the part of the Admiralty, but because the hon. Gentleman's house had failed in its duty. I will state another fact, which will perhaps not a little surprise the House. We have heard a good deal about the stowage of the Robert Lowe. Those statements were proved, upon inquiry, to be utterly inaccurate and unfounded. The only ground stated in the report of the Commission appointed to inquire into this subject, why the cargo of the Robert Lowe could not be delivered as it ought to have been, was, that the captain and the chief mate had both been removed before the sailing of the vessel. Now, the House would be a little surprised to find that the person who changed the captain and the chief mate of the Robert Lowe was the hon. Member for Tynemouth himself, and he did it without the knowledge of the Admiralty. The master was changed because he was ill; but I have heard of no reason why the mate was to be changed. The cones- 49 quence was, that, in the vessel of Mr. Gladstone, the father of the partner of the hon. Gentleman, and by the hon. Gentleman's own orders, a master and mate were sent out who were unacquainted with the manner of stowing the stores. I will now take the next statement of the hon. Gentleman:—A steam ship was lying at Deptford, and the Government engineer, who was to go in her, lived at Woolwich. It was necessary that before the ship was engaged the engineer should inspect her engines. Orders came from the Admiralty to the owner to take her round to Woolwich in order that the engineer might walk on board. The owner answered that it would be better for the engineer to come to the ship than for the ship to go to the engineer, and that it would cost the country less, as the engineer could come over to Deptford for 4d., and the ship would cost 100l. in going to Woolwich. The Admiralty ordered the ship to go down, but the owner said that he would not send her down, and that he would rather take her away from there.In this case, again, I can only suppose that the fancy of the hon. Gentleman has overcome his memory. As soon as I read the statement I applied immediately to Captain Austen, an officer of very high character, the superintendent of the victualling yard at Deptford, who has charge of the whole transport service, and I required him to report to what this statement could possibly allude. Captain Austen's letter is as follows:—I can with certainty declare no such thing as a transport proceeding from this to Woolwich has ever been ordered by the Admiralty, or contemplated by me. The system is for the surveying officers to search out and visit the vessels at their stations in the docks or river. This established custom is of daily occurrence.To make the matter more sure, I obtained a report from Lieutenant Wentworth, the agent for transports at Deptford. He says—I know nothing of the steamer worth 50,000l. being ordered from Deptford to Woolwich to have her engines inspected. All ships have been surveyed by me, and had such an order been given I should have known it. In all cases where ships have been ordered for survey in any part of the river I have considered it my duty to proceed to them, and not require them to come to Deptford. … The statement that ordering a steamer from Deptford to Woolwich for inspection would incur an expense of 100l. is absurd. Supposing she could not use her own steam, she could be towed there for 10l.As the hon. Gentleman did not give the name of any particular vessel, his statement could only be met by the assertion of the Superintendent of Deptford Yard and 50 of the transport officer at Deptford, that no such occurrence had ever taken place as a vessel being ordered from Deptford to Woolwich in order to have her engines surveyed. But in order to sift the matter to the bottom, if possible, I inquired what could possibly have given rise to such a statement; and as I find that all the hon. Gentleman's statements relate to vessels in which he himself is concerned, I have a strong suspicion that this statement referred to an occurrence which took place not long ago with a vessel called the Tyne-mouth. It is true, to a certain extent (I will show the House to what extent), that an order was given in respect to this vessel, with which the hon. Gentleman did not choose to comply. The Tynemouth was under repair somewhere up the river. She was reported by Mr. Gladstone to be ready to go to sea next day. The officers at Deptford had considerable reason to doubt that assertion; and, accordingly, inasmuch as the vessel was to go down the river, not by order of the Government, but to have her compasses swung, directions were given that she should go down with her own engines, in order to test the truth of the assertion that she was in a state to go to sea on that day. That order was not complied with. And why was it not complied with? Because the engines were not in a fit state to go to sea. And when the vessel was surveyed by an officer who went down to Greenhithe, she was then found not ready to go to sea, and the engines were not in a fit state for their work. In this case the hon. Gentleman came personally to the Secretary to the Admiralty, and tried to induce him to give an order superseding that given by the officers at Deptford. It was on the 4th of June that Mr. Gladstone stated that the vessel was ready to go to sea on the next day. On that next day, the 5th, the surveyors, not of the Admiralty, but of the Board of Trade, went down to Greenhithe the day after the vessel was reported ready to go to sea, to survey the hull and machinery, "but could not deliver Declarations because the ship's boats were not on board, and were not expected till the next tide; the register was not on board. The screens for the side-lights required fitting. The safety valves were not in accordance with the Act, and could not be examined, there being a fire in one of the furnaces. A crank pin required fitting. The auxiliary engine required fitting. The fire hose could not be found." 51 Therefore, after she was reported perfectly ready to go to sea, she was not in a state even to be surveyed, and she ultimately left the river without the surveyor's certificate being received. If that was the case to which the hon. Gentleman alluded, it was not one which showed any gross want of care on the part of the Admiralty. The vessel going down the river was not for the purposes of the Admiralty, but for those of the owners. I have now, Sir, gone through the four great statements on which the hon. Gentleman relied, as proofs of the mismanagement of the Admiralty, and I think I may confidently appeal to the House to say whether the case is proved, and I leave it to them to form their own opinion of the accuracy and the truth of the statements in which the hon. Gentleman indulges. He went on to state that the statement of provisions was not included in the return which he moved for of the stores sent to the Crimea. I do not pretend to give any opinion on the return made in obedience to an order of the House which I hold in my hand, and which is a return from the Ordnance, and not from the Admiralty; but if the hon. Gentleman or any one else wishes to see the return of the provisions sent to the Crimea, he will find it in Appendix 13 to the fourth report of the Sebastopol Committee. The hon. Gentleman then alluded to the return of transports laid before the House, and he referred to the case of transport 102. I find on referring to the return that transport 102 is no other than this very Tynemouth, of which I have just said so much. He stated, and probably with truth, that the number of officers and horses moved in the Tynemouth was greater than that stated in detail in the return, and that his captain told him he had moved a far greater number both of officers and of horses. It is obvious from the return that the detailed account of officers and horses includes only those officers and horses who embarked in England; the Admiralty had not the details of the embarkations which had taken place at Varna, in the Black Sea, and other places. The return gave the information that the ship conveyed the 44th Regiment. Of course there must have been many officers, and perhaps some horses, embarked at that time, but the Admiralty did not know how many officers or horses were with the regiment. The same remark is applicable with regard to the conveyance of wounded troops from 52 Balaklava to Constantinople, and the conveyance of Turkish troops to Varna. In all probability there may have been some officers in the first case. There must necessarily have been many officers, and may have been some horses, in the second case. This is no sort of proof of inaccuracy; for we cannot pretend to give in detail that which took place in the Black Sea. These are the assertions upon which the hon. Gentleman has founded his charges of mal-administration on the part of the Admiralty. I have now gone through them all, giving chapter and verse; I have quoted the letters of the parties concerned; and I now leave it to every man who has heard me to say for himself how far the assertions made at Drury Lane, and repeated in a modified tone in this House, are borne out by the facts. I must be permitted to observe that when the administrative reformers charge the Government with mal-administration in such strong terms, and point to the transport service as the particular department in which that mal-administration took place, they must remember that it is precisely the transport service which depends less upon the Government, and to a considerable extent more upon private trade, in one way or another, than any other department of the administration. The Government can do exactly what they please with the Queen's ships, and, if anything goes wrong in them, they alone are answerable. But with regard to the transport service, the stowage depends in great measure on the master and the owner; the sailing and management of the vessel, in like manner, depend upon the master and the other officers chosen and appointed, not by the Government, but by the owners; and the Government is less able to answer for the management of the transport service than for those branches of the service which are more immediately under their own control. When I look into the management of vessels by other parties, I do not find such a great distinction in favour of the management of private persons above that of the Government. There are, for instance, three classes of emigration ships. Some are taken up by the Government and are sent out entirely under the direction of the Emigration Commissioners; some sail from ports where there are emigration agents, and some from ports where there are no emigration agents at all, but where the owners of the vessels have the uncontrolled management. Now, there is the 53 greatest possible difference in the percentage of loss between those vessels which are controlled by the Government and those over which they exercise no control. On the former class, the loss is very small indeed; it is considerably greater in the vessels which are only partially superintended by the Government; but it is greater still in those over which they have no control at all. The case of the Seringapatam was mentioned some time ago, and it was said that there was great mismanagement on the part of the Government. The Gentleman who brought forward that case evidently supposed that that vessel had been entirely taken up by the Government. It was no such thing. The vessel belonged to Messrs. Green, one of the largest and best shipbuilding firms on the river, and was sent by them with cargo to India; and the Government took passage in it for the troops. They did their best to see that the ship was sea-worthy when she left this country; and I believe that she was so, and that the damage to the vessel arose from the improper stowage of some cargo which the Messrs. Green were sending out to Bombay. But, be that as it may, whatever was wrong was not owing to the mismanagement of the Government, but to that of Messrs. Green, one of the first firms in this country. We were told the other day of the wonderful performances of railway contractors in the Crimea, and I am ready to give them the full credit that is due to them, but I have heard from an officer at Gibraltar that there was no comparison whatever between the Government transports, and those in which the horses of the contractors were conveyed. The hon. Gentleman has made charges of so personal and direct a nature against the management of the Admiralty, has charged them with doing things so ill, and said that he would do them so well himself, that I cannot help alluding to the management of some of the hon. Gentleman's own affairs which have come before the public in rather a prominent way, in order that we may form some opinion whether the affairs of the Admiralty would be so much better conducted if the hon. Gentleman presided at the Board. Certainly the hon. Gentleman's management in connection with the William Lindsay emigrant ship, to which he has himself alluded to-night, however creditable his conduct was as regarded the passengers in that vessel—and I give the hon. Gentleman full credit for that conduct—was not such 54 as to impress any one with a strong conviction that he would manage things better than they have been managed by the Admiralty. This William Lindsay was the first of a series of vessels which the hon. Gentleman sent to sea in execution of a very good, laudable, and praiseworthy project—that of improving the class of emigrant vessels. In 1852 the hon. Gentleman addressed a circular to every clergyman in Great Britain in the following terms:—Austin Friars, London, November, 1852.Rev. Sir—Considering the immense numbers of persons of all ranks who are now leaving this country for the Australian colonies, and the wide field of employment offered to them there as compared with their native land, it is a matter of regret that comparatively few have the means of judging as to the efficiency of the vessels advertised, or the responsibility of the owners and charterers, and too often rush thoughtlessly, in the absence of proper information, to secure passages in vessels of which they know little more than the name. As, from your position, you may have many inquiries on this subject we are induced respectfully to draw your attention to the arrangements we have made for carrying out the necessary emigration on a scale and in a manner suited to the requirements of the times; and to beg your valuable aid in making the same known throughout your parish for the benefit of those who may have any desire to make their future home in the distant colony of Australia. We may suggest that the chief points on which intending emigrants should inform themselves are, the class and size of the ship by which they purpose sailing—her height between decks—whether she is coppered and copper fastened—whether well ventilated, and who is the owner or charterer. In a word, they should ask themselves the question, Is the person who undertakes to send them on a voyage of 16,000 miles one of established reputation or a mere adventurer? Finding that emigration to so distant a colony has not been generally conducted in the manner in which it ought or might have been, we have arranged to despatch monthly, or twice every month, according to the demand, vessels owned by ourselves, or entirely under our management, and fitted with every improvement that science can suggest, so as to insure to those who may proceed to that colony as large a measure of comfort and safety as it is possible to obtain on a voyage so lengthened. … The three following ships have been fixed to sail on the 1st of December, January, and February respectively:—W. S. Lindsay, James L. Bogert, and Swarthmore. These are all very superior, new, first-class vessels, built expressly for carrying passengers. …. On the 1st of August we will despatch two magnificent ships, which are now building, fitted with steam auxiliary screws.[The hon. Gentleman warms with his subject.]One of these vessels will be named the Caroline Chisholm, in which Mrs. Chisholm, with her family, will return to Australia, accompanied by 500 single females, to every fifty of 55 whom a matron will be appointed, whose duty it will be to instruct those under her charge during the voyage, for which purpose a portion of the lower deck will be set apart for a school-room. This will be a most desirable opportunity for respectable females who have resolved to emigrate, as the advantages to be derived from Mrs. Chisholm's maternal attention and patronage in the colony must be of lasting and substantial service to those who proceed under her guardianship. The second ship, which will be exactly similar in every respect to the Caroline Chisholm, will be called the Robert Lowe, after our respected friend the present Member for Kidderminster, who resided for several years in Australia, and was there an active Member of the Legislative Council.I give the hon. Gentleman ample credit for his kind and benevolent motives, for all the professions which he announced to the rev. gentlemen throughout the country, and through them to their parishioners. But how did he carry out these professed amiable and kind intentions? The first vessel was the William Lindsay; and that vessel, on the hon. Gentleman's own showing, was obliged to put back, because, for some reason or other, she was not able to go to sea, and the emigrants were landed. The hon. Gentleman, most creditably to himself, provided another vessel for them; but as regards the service to be performed, this first vessel was utterly unable to perform the voyage. The hon. Gentleman stated that she was built expressly for passengers; but the builder of the vessel stated most distinctly, in a letter which was published in The Times newspaper, that she was built for a totally different purpose, that in the course of building she was altered, and that in the alteration she was spoilt, in consequence of the express and positive directions of the hon. Gentleman himself. The passengers were sent out in another ship—I believe in the J. Bogert, an American ship, named in the hon. Gentleman's circular, which performed her voyage very well, but with the construction of which the hon. Gentleman had nothing to do. The next of the hon. Gentleman's ships, the third ship named in his circular, the Swarthmore, was surveyed under the Passengers Act, and the surveyors reported her to be deficient in seaworthiness. A second survey was made. The hon. Gentleman disputed this decision; but the Emigration Board came to the conclusion that they could not risk the lives of Her Majesty's subjects in such a, vessel, and she was rejected. The hon. Gentleman sent her out to India. She got to Tahiti; and there the master of the Swarthmore was so satisfied of 56 her unseaworthiness that he was obliged to call upon the authorities to survey her. Their report fully justified the opinion of the surveyors of the Emigration Commissioners. They reported (I use their own words) that—This vessel carries in her construction itself such elements of ruin, that unless considerable alterations are made, one can only expect to stop her actual leaks, without removing their causes, which will operate whenever the vessel labours at sea.That was the second vessel built expressly under the hon. Gentleman's control. Then there were the "two magnificent ships" referred to in the circular, the Caroline Chisholm and the Robert Lowe. Somehow or other it happened that the Caroline Chisholm never went to Australia. Mrs. Chisholm did not go out, charged with the care of these five hundred maidens and their matrons. The expectations excited by the hon. Gentleman's circular were disappointed. The Caroline Chisholm had her name altered; and the House will be amused to find that this vessel has, under her new name, occupied a prominent place in this discussion, for she is no other than the vessel now called the Tynemouth. The vessel which ought to have gone out with that fair and precious freight under the special charge of Mrs. Chisholm, is now in the employ of the Government conveying shot, shell, stores of various kinds, and armed men to the Crimea. I will not say any more about the Robert Lowe; we have heard enough of her—but such is the way in which the hon. Gentleman performed the promises he had held out. I come now to some engagements which Mr. Gladstone has made with the Government; and seeing what is the connection between Mr. Gladstone and the hon. Gentleman, I do not think that I do him injustice in saying that he has a good deal to do with the management of those contracts. There is more than one contract to deliver coals at certain times; and I believe that on no occasion whatever have these contracts been performed within the time. When I was at my late office, the India Board, I there too had the opportunity of seeing how the hon. Gentleman performed his contracts. There is no reason why a contractor with the East India Company should not sit in the House of Commons, and therefore in these cases there is no circumlocution about Mr. Gladstone. The contracts here are openly in the hon. Gentleman's own name. In 57 May, 1852, the hon. Gentleman contracted to deliver certain quantities of coal. According to the contract, the whole was to have been shipped by the end of August, 1852; it was not all shipped till June, 1853. In the next contract certain quantities of coal were to have been shipped by the end of August, 1852, for Bombay; they were finally shipped by the end of August, 1853, just a year behind the time. Nearly all the time letters were passing between the hon. Gentleman and the Court of Directors, calling upon him to perform his contract, and threatening to enforce the penalties. In 1853, 2,000 tons were to have been shipped by the end of November; they were not shipped till the end of March, 1854. There might be some reason for this—some difficulty in performing these contracts; but gentlemen who fall so much short of their own promises and engagements should make some allowance for others—those who live in glass houses should not throw stones—and ought not to be quite so lavish in their censure of those who have the affairs of the country to administer under very difficult circumstances—that of having to create a large establishment under the pressure of an overwhelming war, besides carrying on at the same time all the immense current operations rendered necessary by the war. But, above all, when they do make statements impugning the character of honourable, and most diligent, and deserving men, they ought to take especial care that their statements are within the fact, and are such as can be borne out. If the statements of the hon. Gentleman are not directly and altogether false and untrue, they are at least framed in such a way as completely to disguise the truth from those who, not having any knowledge of the facts, are utterly unable to distinguish between that slight foundation which is true and that large superstructure of fiction which has been added by the exuberant fancy of the hon. Gentleman.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, after the speech of the hon Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Lindsay) had appeared in the newspapers, he received a note from the Minister of War, requesting to know from him how far the statement of the hon. Member was accurate so far as he (Sir De Lacy Evans) was concerned. His answer to the noble Lord was, that he had seen the statement referred to in a day or two after it was made and he had mentioned to the hon. Member 58 in that House that there were some inaccuracies in it. The hon. Member replied by saying there might have been some verbal inaccuracies in it, but he did not think that, substantially, it was incorrect. He (Sir De Lacy Evans) now wished to state what really did occur in the brief conversation which he had had with the hon. Gentleman; and as that conversation took place in that House while a debate was going on it was of course held in a low tone, and it was not unlikely but that some mistake might have been made as to what he said. What the hon. Member had previously said was this—that he had heard from what he considered to be good authority that the Government had purchased some time before some 2000 or 3000 horses, for the purpose of remounting the cavalry and artillery in the Crimea. As to the remark of his (Sir De Lacy Evans) having purchased those horses, that, of course, was a mistake, for it would be absurd to suppose such a thing. It was not, however, absurd for him to feel much anxiety and interest upon this subject, and to endeavour to exert himself in forwarding this object. The hon. Member said that he (Sir De Lacy Evans) was naturally most anxious that the transport of those horses should not be delayed, because he knew that the army in the Crimea was greatly in want of them; but that he heard that the delay had arisen because the Government could not procure proper ships to convey them; and that he had asked him (Mr. Lindsay), knowing him to be connected with the shipping interest, whether he thought there could be so great a deficiency of shipping for the purposes required; and, if so, whether he could suggest some means of meeting this difficulty. Now his (Sir De Lacy Evans) only interference in the transaction was his observation that he had heard, from what he considered to be good authority, that the Government had purchased 2000 or 3000 horses for the cavalry, but that a considerable delay had occurred in transporting them to the Crimea. He had further said that he had heard from a certain quarter that sufficient shipping could not be procured for their conveyance. He then naturally inquired from the hon. Member, knowing him to be a good authority on the subject, whether there was really such a scarcity of shipping in the market or not. He knew nothing more of the controversy, but he was certainly inclined to think that the horses had been 59 kept longer in this country than they should have been kept. He did not think they could with economy have been kept so long, and that ships should have been hired at a higher price even to take them out. He had received a letter from an officer of rank within the last few days (not referring, of course, to this controversy), expressing his regret that the cavalry would not be completely remounted until about the 1st of July—a serious obstacle when external movements were contemplated by the Commander of the Forces. That was all he knew about the subject, and he believed the statement to be quite accurate.
said, that seeing his right hon. Friend (Sir O. Wood) had so completely answered the accusations that had been brought against the Board of Admiralty, he would not, though he had many more matters to state, add one word to the statement which had already been made to the House. He would, however, beg the hon. Member for Tyne-mouth to be careful how he made accusations against absent men, one of them not a member of the House (Captain Milne), to whom the transport service was at that time intrusted, and statements such as he had made with regard to the late First Lord of the Admiralty. He would ask, also, how it could be conceived that he, a naval officer, would counsel the Admiralty to send a ship from Woolwich to Newcastle on its way to Portsmouth? He would only say that no Member of that House was more anxious than himself to employ, on all occasions, such language as ought to come from gentlemen; and if he had, in connection with this question, been betrayed into warmth, he thought the occasion was one that justified it.
said, he wished to say that he had not uttered a word which could be considered prejudicial to the gallant gentleman just referred to—Captain Milne. With regard to the Tynemouth, he was able to state that she went to sea within one hour of the time when the Government had the last of their cargo placed on board.
§ Subject dropped.