§ MR. FAWCETT
said, that as this Bill appropriated the money voted by the Committee of Supply for the mainten- 710 ance of Kew Gardens and the payment of the staff, he was strictly in order in referring to the position in which Dr. Hooker was placed. He desired to avoid controversial matter, and merely wished to elicit some explanation from the Prime Minister showing an adequate appreciation of the eminent services of Dr. Hooker, and of what would be the great loss which the country would sustain if it should be deprived of the services of one who had served it so well and with so much distinction and with so much zeal as Dr. Hooker. It was of importance that what had been done should be made clear and intelligible. The hon. Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) had, no doubt, been actuated in the course which he had taken only by friendship and esteem for Dr. Hooker; but still it was necessary that the country should have some explanation as to what had been done. Last Monday week in "another place" a very distinguished nobleman who brought the matter forward said that he would not ask the opinion of that branch of the Legislature, because a Motion was going to be brought forward in the House of Commons in order to test the state of opinion there. As a decision had been avoided in the other branch of the Legislature, if this House were offered no opportunity of expressing its opinion upon the subject he was sure that the public might misunderstand the matter; and what he greatly feared was this—that some might think that the hon. Baronet (Sir John Lubbock), after reading the Papers upon the subject, had changed his opinion, and that this might have induced him not to bring forward the question. He (Mr. Fawcett) believed that this was not the case; but that the hon. Baronet was under the impression—which would probably be confirmed by the Prime Minister—that the personal element in the controversy being eliminated, the administrative question would be easily settled, and that it was in course of being settled. He believed that nothing more was required than that Dr. Hooker on his part should say that nothing in this Correspondence was intended to be personal, and that the Government should say on their part that nothing was intended that should, in the slightest degree, be discourteous to Dr. Hooker. This seemed to him to be the natural course to be adopted between 711 two gentlemen. He should carefully abstain from entering into any controversial matters, because he was afraid that if he entered into controversy he might do something which would render a settlement of the difference more difficult. He hoped to hear some statement from the hon. Baronet (Sir John Lubbock), and also from some Member of the Government, which the House would deem to be satisfactory; and he was quite certain that he was expressing the unanimous opinion of the House, and of almost everyone out-of-doors, when he said that considering the great services that Dr. Hooker had rendered to this country, and also to India; considering that Kew Gardens were an institution that we had a right to be proud of, and that every foreigner said that Kew was an institution which he had nothing to compare with in his own country; bearing all these things in mind, and that the Gardens had, to a great extent, been created by Sir William Hooker and his son, Dr. Hooker, he thought that he was but expressing the unanimous wish of the House, that few things would cause more disappointment and regret than that the public should lose the services of Dr. Hooker.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, that the question before the House fell naturally into two divisions—the first, administrative; the second, personal. Into the first he should not enter at length; though the Treasury Minute, however satisfactory in other respects, left two questions still open—namely, the management of the heating apparatus, and of the so-called pleasure grounds; which were said not to form part of the botanical establishment. He thought it undesirable that the heating apparatus should be removed from the control of the Director of Kew; it had been well said that you might as well remove from a surgeon the control of his instruments. He pointed out that the pleasure grounds were the Arboretum, and that trees and shrubs formed a most important part of the botanical establishment. He was sure, however, that the Prime Minister was anxious the Gardens should be maintained in their present state of efficiency.
Coming to the question as one between the Director of Kew Gardens and the First Commissioner of Works, he had been anxious, acting under advice, 712 that the matter should, if possible, be arranged without being brought publicly before the House. There were many things which, if privately explained, could be satisfactorily settled, which might become difficult to arrange amicably when once they had been made the subject of public discussion. He could not help feeling some regret that his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton had compelled him to address the House; but the hon. Member's remarks left no other course open to him. If the House would indulge him, he would state the circumstances which, in Dr. Hooker's opinion, were calculated to weaken his authority at Kew, and to render his position one of great difficulty, and he was anxious to do so in a manner which should not excite any greater amount of hostility and ill-feeling than already existed. He had not the slightest personal feeling towards the First Commissioner; he wished to avoid uttering a single word of which the right hon. Gentleman could have reason to complain; and he only hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give such an explanation as would be satisfactory to the House, to the public, and Dr. Hooker. There were few questions which had latterly excited more interest throughout the country than this. It was one which not only affected Kew Gardens, but it concerned the whole Civil Service of the country. He approached the matter from the point of view of those scientifically interested; resolutions had been passed by the principal societies connected with botany and horticulture; he had also received communications referring to the great value of the services Dr. Hooker had rendered to the Colonies and the West Indies, and expressing a hope that nothing done would prevent his continuing Director of Kew. It was only the other day that in that House a well-merited tribute was paid to Dr. Hooker on the part of the Indian Government. What, then, were the points with reference to which it was thought there was some reason to complain? The First Commissioner had been but a very short time in office when he sent Dr. Hooker a reprimand founded on a misapprehension. It was the first time in Dr. Hooker's long career that there had been anything but friendly communication between him and his official superiors.
713 Shortly afterwards arose a question about the appointment of a clerk. Dr. Hooker and the Treasury considered that this was an appointment which should be made under Clause VII. of the Order in Council—that is to say, that the candidates should be restricted to those who had had some preliminary training in a post of a similar character; on the other hand, the First Commissioner insisted on an open competitive examination. Without expressing any opinion of his own on the manner in which this correspondence was conducted, he would quote a letter which Mr. Lingen wrote from the Treasury to the First Commissioner. Mr. Lingen wrote—No doubt, the First Commissioner of Works, and not the Director of the Gardens, is ultimately responsible for the expenditure of the Vote upon the Establishment at Kew, nevertheless it appears to My Lords that there should be very serious reasons, such as they do not see in this instance, before the latter's recommendations are overruled, and My Lords think that this is peculiarly the case as regards a Director of such standing, experience, and success in managing the Gardens, as Dr. Hooker.Still, in spite of that, the First Commissioner persevered and maintained his own view. The Treasury acquiesced; but a subsequent letter of the 26th of June to the First Commissioner contained these remarks—At the time when My Lords ordered their letter of the 2nd ultimo to be written, they had not seen Dr. Hooker's letter to yourself of the 6th of September, 1871. After having done so, they have to observe that your letter of the 8th of September, 1871, to the Civil Service Commissioners, does not enclose a copy of it, does not contain the whole of the recommendations which Dr. Hooker makes in it, and does not mention him by name or office.The result was that a gentleman was appointed by open competitive examination to the vacant post. He had previously been at Kew as under-gardener, and was well known to Dr. Hooker, who was satisfied that he was incompetent to do the work for which he was chosen. Dr. Hooker accordingly reported this to the First Commissioner, who, after some delay, sent his accountant to report upon the qualifications of the clerk, Mr. Robert Smith; and when the accountant asked Mr. Smith whether he was qualified to perform the duties of the office to which he had been thus appointed, to his credit, be it said, Mr. Smith at once candidly admitted that he was quite unqualified for 714 the duties he was called upon to perform. The next ground of complaint was, that the superintendence of the heating was taken out of Dr. Hooker's hands—that he was not informed of the change, but left to discover the fact by accident. Another was, that considerable changes were proposed in the Museum, without consulting him. On another occasion, the First Commissioner went down to Kew, had an important interview with the Curator, and gave him to understand that he was not to mention the object of his visit. The First Commissioner explained that what he said was merely that the Curator need not mention the matter to Dr. Hooker, as he would do it himself; but it was unfortunate that the First Commissioner did not carry out that intention. Although a considerable time elapsed between the ordering and the production of the Correspondence, it was so ill-arranged that reference was very difficult for anyone who had not gone into the matter thoroughly; but it appeared at page 59 that the First Commissioner, without communicating with the Director, instructed Mr. Smith to meet him in Hyde Park to undertake the control of some important works there. This appointment would have taken a great part of the Curator's time for some months; and yet in this case again, no communication whatever was made to Dr. Hooker.
Without enlarging on that part of the case, he thought it natural that such circumstances, coming one after another, should have created an impression on Dr. Hooker's mind that there was an intention to give offence, and it could not be denied that the course pursued was calculated to raise difficulties and to embarrass him in his relations with his subordinates. Still, a courteous explanation from the First Commissioner would have put everything in a very different light. He had been told that Dr. Hooker was too thin-skinned, and took offence too easily. But that depended on whether there was any intention to give offence. The First Commissioner did not, in his Memorandum of the 15th July, take that line. On the contrary, the Memorandum seemed as if intended to confirm the impression on Dr. Hooker's mind. For instance, in the first page of the Memorandum, the following reference is made to the circumstances attending the publication of The Flora of Tropical Africa, as an instance 715 in which the First Commissioner had been bound to interfere:—With the department of botany, it would seem that the Commissioners have not interfered, beyond deciding questions affecting expenditure, of which the following are examples:—On the application of the Director in 1864, the Commissioners communicated to him that the Treasury had sanctioned the publication of The Flora of Tropical Africa, through the medium of the Stationery Office, in whose Estimates the cost was to be charged. In 1868, the first volume was published, and in 1871 the second. It becoming necessary to apply to the Treasury respecting a payment on account of it, their Lordships directed that the stock, after deducting the presentation copies, should be transferred to the Stationery Office. This was communicated to Dr. Hooker on the 29th of September, 1871. A letter was then received by the Commissioners from the Stationery Office, asking for certain particulars relating to the work, with a view to the sale of the surplus stock. This was referred to Dr. Hooker for report, when he replied on the 22nd of February following, that in his opinion the copies ought not to be sold: a further correspondence took place, and ultimately Dr. Hooker was informed, in accordance with the views of the Treasury, that it would be inconsistent with their views that a work of the kind should not be kept for sale, as well as for occasional presentation, and that the principal stock should be kept at the Stationery Office.But at page 39, appeared a letter from the head of the Stationery Department, in which it was pointed out that Dr. Hooker was right in objecting to this arrangement, which would have been inconsistent with the contract made with Messrs. Reeve, and would have amounted to a breach of faith. The very next paragraph in the Memorandum was this—In 1869 Dr. Hooker applied to be sent as a botanical commissioner to St. Petersburgh, at the public cost, but the Commissioners, in accordance with instructions from the Treasury, declined to comply with his application.If reference were made to the letters supposed to confirm this statement, it would be found that they did not bear it out in any way; but that, in fact, Dr. Hooker expressly offered to bear his own expenses in attending the Congress.
Again, it is remarked in the next page that Kew Gardens were intendedas a nursery for the other parks and gardens under the control of the Commissioners. The result of this does not seem to have been satisfactory, as shown by a letter of the Director proposing to sell 10,000 elms, because the superintendents of other gardens had no use for them, whilst at the same time they were unable to find in Kew Gardens the trees they required.This passage was calculated to create an impression that Dr. Hooker's manage- 716 ment had been injudicious; he thought the First Commissioner must have been under the impression when he wrote the passage, that the circumstance referred to happened under Dr. Hooker's management, because, if not, the passage seemed quite irrelevant. As a matter of fact, however, the sale of the elms took place some years ago, and under the late Director. It is only fair to add that the closing remark, as to the absence of other shrubs, does not appear to be borne out by the Correspondence. Again, in the same page, the First Commissioner said—When the First Commissioners have been of opinion that the amount asked for was excessive, it has been customary for them in communication, and in some cases without communication, with the Director, to strike out parts of the Estimates.So far, however, from Dr. Hooker's Estimates having been excessive, he believed that in no case had the First Commissioner found reason to reduce the expenditure he suggested to any material extent. Indeed, this was not a question of economy, for since Dr. Hooker took office the expenditure on the Gardens had been diminished rather than increased. In connection with the statement that it had been customary for the First Commissioner to strike out parts of the Estimates, reference was made to certain documents from which it appeared that the so-called excessive expenditure reduced itself to an order for a lawn-mowing machine. There was another paragraph in which Dr. Hooker was censured for having attended to give evidence before the Commissioners on Scientific Instruction. Now, he understood that everyone was bound when called upon to give evidence before a Royal Commission; although, no doubt, Dr. Hooker would have been quite ready to give notice of his intention to the First Commissioner if it had crossed his mind that it was his duty to do so. In consequence of Dr. Hooker's giving evidence, the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner wrote a letter to Professor Owen, dated the 16th of May last. He did not intend to follow up that branch of the subject; but, considering that this Memorandum reflected with some severity on the management of Kew Gardens, the right hon. Gentleman, before presenting it to Parliament, ought surely to have given his own subordinate an op- 717 portunity of answering the charges which were brought against him. He could not suppose that Professor Owen knew that his Memorandum would be published without Dr. Hooker's having had an opportunity of reply. In that case, Professor Owen would have had the opportunity of correcting several inaccuracies. For instance, he complained that some very fine araueariæ 20 feet high, had been transplanted from Richmond Park to Kew, and he said—It is doubtful whether the transplanted araucariæ, of 20 feet high, will be a permanent gain to Kew; it is certain that they are a loss to Richmond Park.But Dr. Hooker was not responsible for this removal, which was determined on by the authorities of Richmond Park. Professor Owen also said—It is notorious that the Gardens of Kew received the Araucaria Imbricata as early as did the Arboretum at Dropmore, if not at an earlier period. Also, that with ordinary care and proper culture, the Royal Gardens might now be ornamented with araucariæ, 40 feet or more in height, such as the lover of trees resorts, on permission, to the Arboretum of Dropmore, Holker Hall, or Percy's Cross, to enjoy the contemplation of.It should be borne in mind, however, that the araucariæ, referred to were planted in 1796, and that Dr. Hooker was not appointed Director of Kew Gardens till 1865.
He could have brought forward other cases; but he thought he had mentioned a sufficient number to show that Dr. Hooker had good reason to think there had been on the part of the First Commissioner an intention to disparage him in his office, and to deprive him of his proper authority. He sincerely hoped, however, to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that such was not the case. If the instances he had quoted were unlucky accidents; if there had been no intention to pain Dr. Hooker; if they had misunderstood the tenor and object of the First Commissioner's Memorandum, it would be easy for the First Commissioner to say so. He made, therefore, no attack on the First Commissioner; he merely stated the circumstances which had created an uneasy impression on the minds of Dr. Hooker and scientific men generally. He knew that misunderstandings would occasionally arise, and he sincerely hoped that the reply of the right hon. Gentleman would be of a nature to remove them. It would, of course, be for the First Commissioner himself to state 718 what his intentions really were. Lest he should be led to say anything of which the right hon. Gentleman might have any cause to complain, he would confine his concluding remarks to the language of the Treasury Minute, for which he believed he had to thank the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government. He had refrained from saying anything in praise of Dr. Hooker, because his merit was apparent on the face of this document itself. The Treasury Minute said—It is essential to maintain the superior authority in all respects of the First Commissioner, but the nature of the case makes it evident that this authority should of course be exercised with due regard to the feelings and position of the officers under him. This Botanical Department has been formed by the exertions of Sir W. Hooker and of his son Dr. Hooker. It stands high in the estimation of men of science both here and abroad, and both these eminent men are entitled to the gratitude of the country for their services in this department of science.In another part of the same Minute the subjoined passage occurred—But adverting to the facts contained in the Memorandum of the First Commissioner, their Lordships are not surprised that in various cases Dr. Hooker should have thought that he had just cause of complaint, though this may have grown, in some instances, out of arrangements for which the First Commissioner was not responsible, and in others they learn from the Memorandum of the First Commissioner that the cause of complaint has been removed.No one, indeed, who read that document could be surprised that Dr. Hooker should consider he had just reason for complaint, while Her Majesty's Government frankly admitted in the Treasury Minute that Dr. Hooker was entitled to the highest possible praise for the manner in which he had managed Kew Gardens. In conclusion, he hoped that the wish expressed by his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton would be realized—that there would be no danger whatever of our losing the services of so eminent a botanist: an honour to this country and one of the foremost scientific men in the world; who, so far from being open to reprimand or rebuke, was, according to the Treasury Minute itself, entitled to the gratitude of his countrymen for his devotion to the interests of science and of the public service.
§ MR. OSBORNE
So far, Sir, from finding fault with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), 719 I think the House is rather indebted to him for the statement he has provoked from the hon. Baronet (Sir John Lubbock). When the House considers that for Royal Palaces and pleasure gardens a sum of upwards of £100,000 is expended by Votes of this House, I think it not unnatural that we should inquire very strictly into the management of those gardens. What has occurred? Here is a Return I hold in my hand of the Correspondence relating to the management of Kew Gardens. It consists of 177 pages, so put together that I have made notes in order to test the dates with great difficulty. There are 20 letters which are twice printed in the Correspondence. There is no sort of index; and, indeed, the whole Return reminds me of the old house described by Gray as havingRich windows that exclude the light,And passages that lead to nothing.I do not know whether many hon. Gentlemen have at this time of the year had the patience to read through this voluminous Return. If they have, I think they will not be satisfied with the arrangement of Kew Gardens. Lord Bacon has laid down that a garden is the purest of human pleasures. I come then to ask—"How is it that Kew Gardens, in which the public so much delight, have become so fruitful a source of strife and bitterness?" The answer is at hand. There is nobody more willing than I to testify or acknowledge the valuable and efficient services of my right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works. I believe him to be a valuable public servant. But it is clear that with his love of economy he combines a military abruptness which, I think, would render him more qualified to be transferred to the Horse Guards or to a military command in Ireland than to preside over matters connected with science and art. The style of his rule reminds one of that of the centurion in the Scriptures who said to his servant "Go, and he goeth," and I think that it is very unfortunate that he should have been thrown into communication with a man like Dr. Hooker, who, although undoubtedly scientific, may perhaps be at the same time rather over-sensitive. The consequence has been that there has been nothing but heart-burnings, bickerings, and bad feeling between them since these two gentlemen came into official communica- 720 tion, or, perhaps, I should rather say collision. I intend to touch but lightly on the principal points in the dispute. What is the first thing that these Papers disclose? In the first place, in my opinion, they deal a heavy blow at the system of competitive examination instituted by the Civil Service Commissioners. The Curator of Kew Gardens wants assistence in the shape of a clerk. To most people this would appear to be a very simple matter. So it would be if the Director of the Gardens were allowed to choose a clerk himself; but the House of Commons chooses that all civil servants shall be required to pass a competitive examination under the eyes of the Civil Service Commissioners. Mr. Smith, having passed a competitive examination under the eyes of the Civil Service Commissioners, is with the approval of the Treasury appointed to the office of Clerk to the Curator of Kew Gardens. In the words of Lord Russell—"Nowadays, these people must know Botany, Astronomy, German, French, Italian, and Political Economy." Well, Mr. Smith is examined in some or all of these things, and, having received a first-class certificate from the Civil Service Commissioners, he obtained the appointment. But directly he is appointed, Dr. Hooker, who had known him as an under-gardener, declares him to be utterly incompetent, and asks that his appointment should be cancelled. Whereupon the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, with that stern sense of duty which characterizes him, refuses to cancel the appointment, but says—"Give him a probationary trial for six months." To that request Dr. Hooker replied that he was not there to teach a clerk his duties, that what was required was a person who was capable of discharging them at once; whereas Mr. Smith was utterly incompetent, being unable to, write, or to spell correctly, or to keep accurate accounts. Well, the appointment of this gentleman, who has passed a competitive examination before the Civil Service Commissioners, who have given him a first-class certificate, is eventually cancelled by the Treasury, after about 20 letters have been written with respect to it. The House is allowed to peep a little behind the scenes in these letters with regard to the merits of the Civil Service Commissioners. I have always had great doubts 721 of the advantages derived from competitive examinations even in the case of higher appointments; but in petty matters of this sort they are apt to degenerate into a job. Here is the brewing of a pretty quarrel as it stands, and now comes the "hot water" controversy for getting into which the right hon. Gentleman is so singularly well adapted. Dr. Hooker writes to the Board of Works to know what his duties and his responsibilities are with regard to the heating apparatus and the raising of tropical plants, and the answer he gets is that he is to take his orders from the First Commissioner of Works, and it concludes with the unnecessarily offensive expression—an expression that would cause a man of far less sensitiveness than Dr. Hooker to take fire—"and that he is to govern himself accordingly." Then there is a dispute as to the tropical plants and the orchids, and I must say the First Commissioner here shows himself not only audacious, but orchidacious. A long correspondence ensues upon this subject, and, as has been already remarked in one of these letters, this is the way in which public money is consumed in disentangling the science of botany from business matters. Then comes another correspondence respecting the publication of The Flora of Tropical Africa. It extends over five pages, which I cannot well understand; but eventually the First Commissioner gives way, and the whole thing, I believe, turns out to be a mare's-nest altogether. Now comes on the scene the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock). On the 20th of June, 1872, the hon. Baronet writes a letter to the First Minister of the Crown, enclosing a memorial signed by many of the most scientific men in the country, complaining of the treatment experienced by Dr. Hooker from the First Commissioner of Works, and giving the former a character which very few men can get from anyone. They appeal to the First Minister of the Crown, and they print a very curious letter from Dr. Hooker to the First Minister, dated the 31st of August, 1871. But there is a very curious omission in this book—namely, a letter from Dr. Hooker to the First Minister, which never appears at all. I should like to know something as to what that letter was about, as we are completely in the dark about it at pre 722 sent. The right hon. Gentleman the First Minister returns an answer to that letter of the 31st of August; but, like many of his answers in this House, it is neither very precise nor very definite. Dr. Hooker thus is left in doubt as to what he is to do. He did not understand the answer, and he therefore waited upon Mr. West, the right hon. Gentleman's private secretary, asking him for some explanation of it. Mr. West replied that something was about to be done by the Cabinet. What then happens—why, with the arbitration at Geneva before them, it, of course, struck the First Minister that they should refer the case to arbitration. [Mr. GLADSTONE: I never said any such thing.] If the right hon. Gentleman will hear me out, I will give him chapter and verse. Will the right hon. Gentleman say that it was not referred to arbitration? Why, there were three Members of the Cabinet appointed to act as arbitrators. Of course, Lord Ripon was one; but I have not heard that he has since been promoted. And the others were Lord Halifax and Mr. Cardwell. Well, they arbitrated; but I do not know to what decision they came. It comes out, however, that the arbitrators came to the conclusion that a verbal answer should be conveyed to Dr. Hooker through Lord Ripon, and in the presence of Sir Arthur Helps, to the effect that he was to consider himself Director of the Gardens in subordination to the First Commissioner. That was not very satisfactory to Dr. Hooker. I wish to hold the balance evenly between all parties. I think that Dr. Hooker here acted intemperately. I think he had no right to accuse the First Commissioner of evasion, misrepresentation, and mis-statement. I think that is a very hard thing to say of the First Commissioner, for with all his faults we love him still. After this most extraordinary part of the business, there appears a Memorandum, dated July 24, 1872, which occupies 14 pages. It is from the First Commissioner of Works as to the management of Kew Gardens, and it contrives to stick additional pins into Dr. Hooker. But I pass on to what I think is the most improper thing in the whole transaction. I allude to the statement of Professor Owen, in Appendix 3, in which he criticizes the evidence of Dr. Hooker given before the Royal Commission for Scientific Education, but 723 which has nothing whatever to do with the quarrel. I think it was a most improper thing to print that statement without first submitting it to Dr. Hooker. I say that these things ought to have been above-board from beginning to end. The hon. Baronet below me (Sir John Lubbock) was forced into making his statement by the patriotic Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), because a general impression had got abroad that the hon. Baronet, being young and soft, had been "got at" by the Members of the Treasury bench, and that his Motion would never be heard of. The hon. Baronet has, however, nobly refuted that impression. I cannot help thinking that Kew Gardens are about to be thrown into more intimate connection with the South Kensington Museum. There are passages here which are very suspicious. The Professor talks of a herbarium in terms which he ought not to make use of. He regards a botanist as a person without feeling as, in the words of Wordsworth—One who would peep and botanize upon his mothers's grave. He asks—"What is a herbarium?" I do not know what the quotation is from. It is something like the First Commissioner of Works'. He suggests that it is "attaching barbarous binominals to foreign weeds." That is the way in which he talks of the gentleman at the head of the herbarium at Kew. Let the House beware lest by reason of this Appendix we are to have the South Kensington business over again, and lest at this very time we should be engaged in constructing a "Cole-cellar" for the growing of tropical plants at South Kensington. I have read the correspondence with attention, and I have come to the conclusion that Dr. Hooker, although a very sensitive man, has much to complain of; but as I wish to see both gentlemen retain their situations, and referring to what I have said that the First Commissioner is a valuable public servant, I would rather, however, see him anywhere else than at Kew. But wishing to retain him and Dr. Hooker both in the public service, I would advise them to read that scene in the Beggars' Opera between Peachum and Lockit, where they each say—"Brother, brother, we are both in the wrong;" and let them in future endeavour to forward the public service by keeping on good terms with one another.
said, he wished to refer to a matter personal to himself and the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works. Some time back he asked the right hon. Gentleman the following Qustion:—Whether it is intended to continue the ornamental shrubbery ground on the left of Rotten Row, between Albert Gate and Knightsbridge Barracks; and, if so, whether he will re-consider such intention as being one leading to a serious encroachment on a space long used as a public recreation and children's playground, which space has also already been curtailed by the additional riding ground recently made in that locality?The right hon. Gentleman, with the humour which distinguished him, said—I am happy to be able to assure the children who are interested in this matter that a 'serious encroachment' upon their playground is not intended. They will, therefore, be able to continue as heretofore to enjoy the playground in common with the Heavy Cavalry and the Light Volunteers, by whom it is used for drill."—[3 Hansard, ccx. 1683–4.]He was not going to enter the lists with the right hon. Gentleman in bandying discourteous expressions, because, in the first place, the contest would be unequal; in the second, he (Mr. Bromley-Davenport) might be betrayed into overstepping the bounds of Parliamentary license; and, if he succeeded, it would be like pouring water upon a duck's back or applying a lady's riding whip to the hide of a rhinoceros. What he wished to say was that the manner in which Questions were answered affected the honour of the House. An hon. Member rising in his place and putting a perfectly courteous and civil question ought to expect from the Treasury Bench—the occupants of which ought to set an example of good manners—at all events a decent reply, and not such as he received—namely, a concoction of words, carefully put together to escape, and just only to escape, the interference of the Speaker. Such a reply as he received was an insult to the House; and he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on this—that if, as he had reason to suppose, the right hon. Gentleman had a yearly wager with the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to which in the course of each Session should make the most discourteous answers to the most perfectly proper and orderly questions, to use a turf expression, the First Commissioner had this year "won in a 725 walk." If he might advise the First Commissioner of Works it would be to cultivate the Royal Parks less and himself more, and when next he felt disposed to be funny—or what he thought funny—at the expense of hon. Members in and out of the House, to ask some friend—assuming, of course, the very improbable fact that he had one—to give him some advice how to answer a question with propriety, and to point out to him the clear and distinct line of demarcation where "humour ends and insolence begins."
§ COLONEL BERESFORD
said, he could not allow the attack that had been made upon Professor Owen by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) to pass unchallenged, especially as no opportunity had been offered to the Professor of meeting it.
§ COLONEL BERESFORD
said, he could not recollect the exact words which the hon. Gentleman used; but he made a most decided attack on, and complaint against, Professor Owen.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, in reference to the appointment of the clerk referred to in the Correspondence, it appeared that the unfortunate man was a countryman of his, and that what the First Commissioner had done with reference to his appointment redounded very much to the right hon. Gentleman's credit instead of its being a cause of complaint against him. Dr. Hooker wished to retain the appointment as a piece of patronage in his own hands. The First Commissioner of Works had no such desire, and, therefore, urged that the best man should be selected by means of a competitive examination by the Civil Service Commissioners. Such an examination showed the man to be efficient in the very particulars wherein Dr. Hooker alleged he was incompetent. The Commissioners were best able to judge, and the First Commissioner was quite right in acting on their decision. Much had been said about what had been done—botanically—in Kew Gardens; but he begged to say that the same things had been done in the Botanical Gardens at Edinburgh ever since they were opened.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
desired to set the hon. Member right on one point. A memorandum by Mr. Gibbins, the accountant, appeared in the Correspondence at page 151, dated March 22, on the question of the fitness of Mr. Robert Smith. Mr. Gibbins said—Referring to the First Commissioner's Minute of the 6th instant, directing me to inquire as to the fitness of Mr. Robert Smith for the duties for which I recommended a person to be employed to assist the Curator in keeping the accounts, &c., I have the honour to report that, by appointment, I had an interview yesterday (at Kew) with the Curator, and explained to him that when I made the investigation on June last, it appeared to me that the duties in respect of which assistance should be given to him were the following:—The preparation of the weekly pay-sheets; the posting of labour-book, cash-book, and ledger; the preparation of cash accounts, store accounts; register of orders to trades people; register of accounts (when delivered); to check bills with order book as to quantities and prices (not to check computations and additions); general correspondence; arrangement of papers and other clerical duties; to act as guide to visitors in the absence of the Curator, or when he is particularly engaged. I yesterday submitted this list of duties to the Curator, and inquired whether Mr. Robert Smith was competent to perform them. The Curator replied, that possibly he could, but, as he had not tried him, he was not prepared to offer any opinion on the subject. I then had an interview with Mr. Robert Smith, and, placing the list before him, asked him if he felt qualified to perform the duties therein set forth. Mr. Smith promptly replied that he did not understand anything of them, and that he knew nothing whatever of office business.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, he should have been. Dr. Hooker wanted a man for this work, and he was supplied with a man who could not do it. It was instructive to read the First Commissioner's description of his mode of doing work, as contained in the peroration of the First Commissioner's Memorandum on the relation between the Board of Works and Kew Gardens. It ran—The First Commissioner has now gone through the somewhat tedious examination of the questions which have arisen during the last two years and a half in relation to Kew Gardens. He has disentangled the science of botany, and the art and practice of horticulture from occurrences which have happened in the course of business, and it appears to him easy to conduct the science of botany and the art of horticulture, without recurring again and again to little official omissions, whether they have arisen from haste, zeal, or inadvertence. He has throughout confined his writing to the exigencies of current public business, and desired to avoid using business for the purpose of writing; all his communications have, therefore, been as brief as possible. In 727 fact, he has abolished letter-writing and substituted official memoranda, for the transaction of all departmental business under the Office of Works, and, with the concurrence of the Postmaster General, for most of the business with the Post Office.If the result of the First Commissioner's abolition of letter-writing was to bring about such controversies as appeared to have arisen in this case, and to bring before the House such an enormous mass of perplexed and confused Correspondence, the sooner the right hon. Gentleman reverted to the old method of conducting business the better it would be for the public service.
§ MR. AYRTON
I am afraid that evil examples are somewhat catching, or I could not for a moment explain why the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Bromley-Davenport) without Notice should interpose in this debate, and refer to a subject of which he gave Notice two or three months ago, which was on the Paper again and again, but which he failed to bring before the House. [Mr. BROMLEY-DAVENPORT: I could not get it on.] Yes, but not for the want of an opportunity, but because he did not take advantage of the opportunities which the forms of the House afforded. [Mr. BROMLEY-DAVENPORT: At 3 o'clock in the morning?] If the hon. Member had given me Notice I should have been able to have shown him how easy it would have been to have brought it on, and then to have dealt with it more at large than at present. The hon. Member has been so obliging as to tender me advice how to answer questions—by taking counsel before I speak. Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to remind him that it is exactly the advice I gave him when he showed me his Question in manuscript, and which he did me the honour to follow. If I were to go into questions that arise out of the House I should be able to inform hon. Members what the advice was that the hon. Member received, and it is perhaps unfortunate for him that he has not followed it. He will recollect that the gentleman to whom I referred him was a gentleman eminently qualified to give him advice whether or not he should put the Question. I stated at the time that the Question itself was an improper one, because it assumed that I was engaged in planting the Parks, to the injury of the public—a 728 question pregnant with a very grave and a very unfounded assumption highly prejudicial to myself, and the hon. Member is astonished that instead of my being exceedingly angry with the Question I was content to laugh at it, and to look on it as being so trivial as not deserving of serious consideration.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the hon. Member, if he wished to make an explanation, must wait until the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Commissioner of Works had finished his speech.
§ MR. AYRTON
I shall be delighted to hear the hon. Gentleman answer, because I have a very accurate recollection of the circumstances, though Gentlemen on the front Opposition bench are not here to confirm my impression or to contradict it. But some hon. Gentlemen may perhaps think it is not the best way of treating a question, which, after remonstrance, is put, and which of itself is of a highly injurious if not of a highly offensive character. The hon. Member complains of the Answer that was given. I dare say it was not his intention to convey such an impression; but anyone reading the Question that was asked will see that the hon. Member assumes to be the protector of the people whose interests I was engaged in injuring. There never was a more unfounded assumption as regards the administration of Hyde Park; and when such assumptions and imputations are lightly made, the best way to treat them is not to give them an angry answer—still less to embark in a long expostulation—but to meet them in a very easy and good natured way. That was the treatment which the hon. Member's Question received. I may now pass to the subject, which comes before the House under most extraordinary conditions. Yesterday I was not in the House when it met; yet, without any communication whatever or notice whatever being conveyed to me that the subject was likely to come before the House, some remarks, I believe, were then made by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett); indeed, my hon. Friend endeavoured to deliver the speech which he has delivered today, but found himself out of Order. Now, I must say that this is a very novel mode of conducting the business 729 of the House; but, as I have said, example is very infectious, and to-day we have such an example set yesterday extended by the hon. Baronet (Sir John Lubbock), who without any communication having been made to me that he intended to make this attack upon me. or without the slightest intimation that he would even advert to this question, has risen in his place and brought the question forward as fully and as completely as if he had given formal Notice to impugn my conduct in the administration of the Office of Works. I venture to say that this is a proceeding unknown and unheard of in the House of Commons, that any Member should stand up in his place and impugn, in great detail, the administration of a Department by its Parliamentary head, without having given the smallest notice to that head of his intention to take that course. With regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for Brighton, it is true he has put no Notice on the Paper; but, again, I say if an hon. Member intends to take the course of referring to the conduct of a Minister of the Crown it is his duty, according to the usages of the House, to give Notice of his intention, and not to leave it to the chance of the Minister reading something about the matter in the newspapers or hearing of it casually. I, however, acquit the hon. Member for Brighton of having taken any unfair course, because in private conversation yesterday he mentioned to me that he would put some question to my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government on the subject. In this position it was by the merest accident that I happened to have any paper in this House relating to this question; but is it to be supposed every Minister of the Crown is expected to carry about him all the papers connected with the administration of his Department, and to carry in his head all the circumstances relating to that administration extending over some two years and a-half, and to stand up in the House and give a complete answer at a moment's notice to anything that may be alleged against him? I do not profess to be able to fulfil that duty; but, notwithstanding, I hope that, without any notice, if any Gentleman thinks fit to stand up and impugn my conduct, I shall be able to give an answer which, having regard to the circumstances under which it is made, will 730 be found satisfactory to the Members of the House. Sir, I was not surprised when the hon. Baronet brought forward this subject that my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) should intervene, because anyone who looks at this mass of Correspondence must see that from its peculiar character it affords, perhaps, a better vehicle for the joking and the humour of my hon. Friend than any other set of Papers that have lately been laid on the Table of the House. As doctors always use the purest water for the vehicle of their medicines, so my hon. Friend has used my conduct as the vehicle of his jokes; and I am very happy to have afforded him the opportunity of exercising his abilities, for his opportunities have been so few of late that I was really afraid they would fall into disuse. Nevertheless, there is always in the observations of my hon. Friend some element of good sense, however much it may be obscured by the jokes that surround it. I must, I presume, take this matter seriously, though it turns on mere trifling incidents, which scarcely served as the topic of a serious debate. If you go through any man's affairs running over two years and a-half, I venture to say you will find in them many incidents which you may discuss again and again. Whether he was engaged in business or had only to look after his own household, you will find that you could not look back over that time without discovering that many things had gone in a way he did not exactly like, and which might, perhaps, give cause for regret. It is not, therefore, a matter of surprise that in this but very small section of the business of the Office of Works any gentleman who wishes to be highly critical should discover that some errors have been committed there of a greater or less degree. That this is but a small portion of the business of the Board of Works may be seen from the fact that, while the whole expenditure on Kew Gardens under Dr. Hooker amounts to £12,000, that of the whole Department under my superintendence is £1,200,000. Although the Correspondence which has been laid on the Table with reference to this question is somewhat voluminous, yet it is but a comparatively small fraction of the correspondence which is carried on in the Department in relation to a great variety 731 of subjects. Even where it is obvious that errors had been committed I have not thought it necessary to write in the language of censure in reference to those errors, because we know very well that officers of any Department are liable in the conduct of much business to commit occasional mistakes. But what we have a right to expect is that, when they do commit them, those working with them in the same Department should be quick and active to have the mistakes rectified in a quiet and friendly way, and not make every little omission the subject of a long letter, trying to inflame it into a matter of grave consequence. If, instead of acting as he had done, the Director of Kew Gardens had merely gone to the Office and spoken to the Secretary, or one of the clerks, he would have got half the questions that he has raised in those Papers adjusted entirely to his satisfaction. But when the complainant assumes a tone of querulousness and defiance in the letters he writes, of course he cannot get his business done in the same way as other people who are exposed to the errors and omissions of an official Department. Let us look for a moment at the sort of objections that have been stated by the hon. Baronet as his case in behalf of Dr. Hooker. I will take one example. First, it is said, immediately upon my appointment I sent him a reprimand; but what was really the fact? Dr. Hooker, or rather the officers of the Department of Works, had made out an an estimate, in which they stated that a certain sum was to be expended upon a certain work. I may here mention that when I came into this Office the Treasury, and the House of Commons itself, had long been contending against what was considered to be a very grave error in the administration of the Board of Works. The House and the Treasury were being led to sanction the expenditure of money on works; and after the money was spent it was discovered that the work, instead of having been finished, was only half done, and large sums were again and again required to complete it. No one has contended against that system more than I did myself before I wes connected with the administration of the Board of Works. Well, that estimate being placed before me, a request came from Dr. Hooker to spend more than double the amount that was sanctioned to carry 732 on the work. I therefore asked for certain information as to how it was that a request had been made for sanctioning a smaller sum when so much larger a sum was required, and how that fact had not been brought forward at an earlier period, as I think it should have been in the proper conduct of business. Of this Dr. Hooker complains as a grave censure upon himself. But it is no censure at all. It was merely a letter asking for information. It was found that Dr. Hooker had sent a letter on the subject before I succeeded to the office. Well, that letter was not brought under my notice, as was manifest from the application made to Dr. Hooker; and the moment I got an explanation how the error occurred, the sanction of the Treasury was obtained and I was allowed to spend that additional money. Yet that has been characterized as an uncalled-for reprimand on my part. Why, business cannot be carried on unless explanations are asked for and given. I had to write to the Treasury to explain how it came about that some £1,200, I believe, was really requisite where it had been previously represented some £500 would have sufficed. That is really an illustration of the frivolous nature of the imputations cast upon me by Gentlemen who do not choose to look at the documents and inform themselves as to the mode in which the business of the Department is conducted. The next complaint of the hon. Baronet was this—that I wished to have a clerk appointed to Dr. Hooker, without the qualifications which Dr. Hooker said were necessary. There is really not a word of foundation in the Papers before the House for that assertion. What really occurred was this:—Dr. Hooker was himself asked to state what his views were with reference to the appointment of a clerk. Dr. Hooker stated them; and, the Treasury having sanctioned the appointment of the clerk, Dr. Hooker was referred to in order to settle the conditions of the examination of the clerk. The whole transaction necessarily took place between the Secretary of the Office, Dr. Hooker, and the Civil Service Commissioners. It was a mere matter of official detail how the examination of this clerk should be arranged for the purpose of obtaining a person possessed of the requisite qualifications. All I had to consider was, shall the appointment be in 733 the patronage of Dr. Hooker, or shall it be, in accordance with the Order in Council, by open competitive examination?—which had my assent. I claimed no power of appointment for myself. I disclaimed it. I waived my right in favour of the Civil Service Commissioners, and to them the whole question was committed. Personally, I had nothing to do with the matter. Well, what happened? The Civil Service Commissioners, acting according to their own rule, selected the candidate, and then the candidate was sent to me. I was bound by the Order in Council to accept that candidate and forward him on to Dr. Hooker. Then arose a very interesting question to persons entering the public service. According to the Queen's Order in Council, a person is not reported fit for appointment or immediately qualified to undertake the duties of the office; he is appointed as a person to be employed in the office for six months, in order that at the end of that period he may be qualified to perform the duties. It is the same all over the service. An ensign sent into the Army is not then and there to be qualified to perform regimental duties; he is to remain two years as a probationer, and at the end of that time he is to be fit to perform them. The object of competition is to get a guarantee that the person having sufficient education and intelligence will, if employed in the office, in course of time be fitted for its duties, not that he is so at the time of appointment. A long controversy took place with regard to the nature of the duties to be performed; and I ended the correspondence by putting to Dr. Hooker the simple question—"Will you give me a certificate, stating that this person, if he is allowed a probation of six months, will at the end of that period be fit for the performance of his duties?" And when I got the reply from Dr. Hooker that he would not be fit the matter was referred to the Civil Service Commissioners. They refused to cancel the appointment, stating that the person appointed ought to be employed in the office for six months. The result was, the Treasury did not think it necessary to wait for the six months' probation; and I had authority, notwithstanding the Order in Council, to cancel the appointment. I cancelled it accordingly. In vindication of 734 the Civil Service Commissioners, I would remind the House of what appears on the Papers—that there were two appointments made at the same time. They were made by the same order of proceeding; but while in the case of one there was failure, in the other the person appointed was eminently fit, though not the person Dr. Hooker had privately nominated, and is now attaining a higher grade in the public service. In the Papers before the House I have stated why that failure took place. The next complaint that is preferred against me is, that I deprived Dr. Hooker of the great gratification of keeping the works for heating the hot-houses under his control. Let the House consider what is the nature of this complaint. The letter written to him was studiously framed so as to prevent giving offence to him, or giving to the, matter even the colour of anything personal; because it was there stated that the directions given were in accordance with the general arrangements recently made for conducting the works of the Department. Dr. Hooker complained that the letter concluded with the words "govern himself accordingly." All I can say on that point is, that I cannot hold myself responsible for the terms in which official letters are written. I only regard the substance. ["Oh, oh!"] I say that, for I think it would be imposing upon the head of a Department a most laborious duty indeed if he were required to settle the precise language in which every letter should be written from his Office. After the letter is written it is put before me, and I take it for granted that it is written in the ordinary way, and that there is nothing special in the style of composition. What is the meaning of "govern himself accordingly" I really do not know. I do not know where the phrase came from, or how far it is used in a Department of the public service. All I know is, that it contains no offensive meaning. Dr. Hooker asks for a distinct definition of the mode in which he is to conduct his duties. I give that definition, and the letter is closed with a phrase applicable to a general rule for the conduct of the Department. I wish to avoid any controversy on this point; but the Papers on the Table show that the Director of Works and the officers under him are the proper persons to 735 superintend the construction, maintenance, and repair of all works of a structural character; and it is absolutely necessary to maintain that principle in the administration of the Department. No doubt we are told by persons who say they have experience that this cannot be done; but the answer of the Office of Works is that it is done. We have the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh under a gentleman who has rendered immense service to the science of botany—a gentleman quite equal to Dr. Hooker, as a scientific botanist; and what, in this case, was directed to be done at Kew has been and is the practice in the Royal Gardens at Edinburgh. Therefore, I repeat, there can be no reference personal to Dr. Hooker in the direction given, but only to the proper administration of the Department. Another charge against me is, that I directed an alteration to be made in the museum without consulting Dr. Hooker, and that I sent it to the Treasury. Dr. Hooker alleges that he engaged in what may be called an intrigue with the then Secretary of the Treasury, my right hon. Friend now at the head of the Local Government Board (Mr. Stansfeld), inducing my right hon. Friend to alter the estimate I sent in behind my back. It so happened that Dr. Hooker was dissatisfied with what had been proposed; but when the proposal arrived at a certain stage I determined not to proceed with it. It was never put into the estimate sent to the Treasury, and my right hon. Friend the then Secretary never struck it out. What I directed to be, done was only in the performance of my duty, for the people frequenting the museum were overcrowded, and it is the particular function, I take it, of the First Commissioner of Works to direct that proper arrangements should be made for the public use of the establishment at Kew. The hon. Member also complains that I spoke to the Curator of Kew Gardens. I must remind the House that the Curator is a person who has many responsible duties to perform. He is recognised as having charge of the cultivation of these Gardens, and my object was, as I have stated in this Paper, to establish what I considered to be a better system for the administration of the Gardens by the Office of Works. That was a question much beyond Dr. Hooker's province, for it ex- 736 tended to the whole service; not to that for £12,000, but to arrangement costing upwards of £100,000 placed under the Office of Works. That being the service with which I had to deal, I thought that the proper mode of carrying it on would be to have an officer specially charged with the supervision of those Gardens, who possessed a competent knowledge of the cultivation of parks and gardens. And, therefore, desiring to promote to this office the Curator of Kew Gardens, it was my duty to see that gentleman, either by asking him to come to my Office for examination, or by going into the Gardens myself as a visitor, and interrogating him as to his qualifications for the office. There is nothing strange in that; but Dr. Hooker says—"You did not tell me that." What was stated to the Curator was—"You are not the person to report this matter to Dr. Hooker; when I have to deal with it Dr. Hooker will be communicated with by me;" it was not a matter between me and him, but it was one between Dr. Hooker and me. It was quite competent for the Curator to communicate privately—as, in fact, he did—what had occurred; but he would not have been justified in making an official Report on my behalf of what I intended to do in re-arranging the Department. Dr. Hooker wrote an official letter to me at the time, and in it there is not a word of complaint of any injunction to the Curator; this was not discovered as a ground of complaint until eight months afterwards, and I say the course he has pursued in attempting to set up such a complaint so long after the subject was officially disposed of, is wholly inconsistent with the proper administration of the public service. I could have given an explanation to Dr. Hooker had he mentioned the matter; but he only brought it forward afterwards when it suited his convenience, and the moment it came under my notice I stated what I have now related to the House. Allusion has been made to the charge that I deprived Dr. Hooker of his assistant in order to carry on the works in connection with the Albert Memorial. I think it is much to be regretted that Dr. Hooker's friends should have taken notice of this matter; but I have no cause to object to it. Everybody knows the peculiar circumstances connected with the Albert Memorial. It was 737 about to be finished at a time when it was absolutely necessary that the works of horticulture which had to be carried on about that Memorial, and had been too long delayed, should be instantly begun and prosecuted with the utmost vigour. As I was then advised, if that had not been done the Memorial would have been open to the public whilst the whole place around it presented the appearance of a ragged wilderness. One would have supposed, having regard to the fact that the Memorial was being erected partly by public subscription and partly by grants made by this House, largely supplemented by Her Majesty, that on the mere suggestion that there was a difficulty everybody would have sunk every cause or idea of dispute; that everybody would have been active and anxious to know how he could render assistance. Why, when hon. Gentlemen and Ministers were enjoying that festive season appropriate to the period of Christmas, I could find time to go myself at 8 o'clock in the morning to Hyde Park to meet these executive officers for the purpose of exciting them to a more energetic performance of their duty, while Dr. Hooker, in his Hortus Siccus, could only find time to write a lamentable account of the grievances he was sustaining because the Curator of Kew Gardens had been invited to meet me at 8 o'clock in the morning in Hyde Park. The telegram was sent direct to the Curator, instead of to him, and no doubt that is a point of official punctilio; but the clerks sometimes do these things inaccurately in a hurry when they are told to use dispatch. They may have sent the telegram in a wrong way; but a reasonable man would have come to the Secretary, and asked how it was that the telegram had been so forwarded. Dr. Hooker does nothing of the kind; but cherishes this up as a tremendous grievance, which is to agitate the mind of every botanist and gardener in the country. The next day, when I had the fact brought under my notice, I directed that a communication should be made to Dr. Hooker personally, showing how little I had to do with any desire to slight him; and there is my own Minute, in the printed papers, written the morning after I had seen the Curator. It is said that Mr. Smith, the Curator, was placed in an equivocal relation towards Dr. Hooker. Can there be anything 738 more absurd? Mr. Smith is asked to come early in the morning to give a general direction to a person whom he afterwards admitted to be competent to carry on the business without him, and it is said that because he is asked to do that the whole administration of Kew Gardens is disarranged. I believed that it would be a great public advantage to get the counsel of this superior officer of Kew Gardens, and supposed it would be as easy for him to make arrangements to run up to Hyde Park as for myself to be there at 8 o'clock in the morning, and then to return to his business at Kew. However, the Curator of Kew declared that he did not wish to give directions in that way, and if he dealt with the matter he must take it in hand entirely; and as the people, on his own showing, could do just as well without him, I said—"Let us at once put an end to this, and get on without the assistance of the Curator of Kew." The whole thing was explained to Dr. Hooker. It was an emergency with which I had to grapple, and I am happy to think that the work was carried out to the general satisfaction of the public. [An hon. MEMBER: Agreed!] I think when an attack of this kind is made without Notice the least that I can expect is that the House of Commons will allow me to reply to it as best I can on the spur of the moment without interruption. The next point which has been raised is that Dr. Hooker was slighted with regard to the publication of the Flora of Tropical Africa. I can only say that I had absolutely nothing to do with the matter, for it was purely a question between the Treasury, the Stationery Office, and Dr. Hooker; the communications passed through the Office of Works as a common centre. The whole thing was eminently trifling, relating to the right of the Stationery Office to sell surplus copies of the work, and the matter was disposed of by a Treasury direction, which was communicated to Dr. Hooker. Another question is the mission of Dr. Hooker to St. Petersburg, and with that, again, I had nothing to do, because the whole business occurred before I was Chief Commissioner of Works. But I cannot help remarking, when a gentleman is said to be so very sensitive as to the official language employed, that Dr. Hooker is capable of using, in the most gratuitous 739 and uncalled-for manner, words of the most offensive character. If you want an illustration you have only to look at Dr. Hooker's letter, in consequence of the decision at which the Treasury arrived in reference to his mission. The Treasury informed Dr. Hooker, through the late Chief Commissioner of Works, of its decision, and Dr. Hooker, not knowing the ground of that decision, because it was not communicated, or whether it had been arrived at by the head of the Government, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the whole Cabinet, writes a letter—which I have not by me at this moment—stigmatizing the conduct of the Treasury in the most unqualified and opprobrious terms. Of course, no one took any notice of it, because Dr. Hooker was looked upon as a scientific gentleman who does not make himself amenable to the ordinary exigencies and proprieties of the public service. ["Oh, oh!"] I say that advisedly, because there never was a more offensive letter written by a subordinate with reference to an official communication. Then it has been said that Dr. Hooker has not been sufficiently consulted with reference to the Estimates. I understand that Dr. Hooker has complained that he did not receive the decision of the Office of Works at an early period, and in a memorandum which I have made I have directed means to be taken to prevent such an occurrence in future. But the only question which arose was as to the change made in the Estimates, without any reference to Dr. Hooker; but this arose on the general administration of the whole Vote of £100,000 of which Dr. Hooker's portion was only £12,000. Therefore, it is idle to assert that it was done for his particular annoyance. If he had taken the trouble to go from time to time to the Secretary, as any person ought to do who was one of a number of subordinates affected by a new arrangement, the information which he would have obtained would have relieved his mind of any feeling of that kind. I do not undertake to carry out all the minute details of the Department any more than any other political head does. All I can do is to lay down general principles on which the general business of the Department is to be conducted, and then leave the subordinate officers to conduct the business in detail in order that those 740 general principles may be fully carried out. An hon. Friend has put into my hand Dr. Hooker's letter as to the mission to St. Petersburg I have already mentioned. In it he says—I do not know whether this decision will be regarded as evidence of something more than indifference to the position which science holds in this country, or merely ignorance of that attained by the eminent men who have convened this Congress, and who will assemble at it, or mere disregard of international courtesy in scientific matters.I say that is a letter which contained the gravest reflections upon the Chief Department of the Government. A gentleman who can throw out these inuendoes and use such language has no right, I think, to be hypercritical as to the language addressed to himself. He cannot find throughout these Papers a word of mine which would bear the interpretation which anyone would give to that language applied to the Treasury. Well, Sir, Dr. Hooker is aggrieved that I should have obtained any evidence or information from Professor Owen; yet this gentleman, without any communication with me, could go before the Royal Commission and put forth a programme which gravely affected the whole administration of the Department of which he was a subordinate officer. I never heard of this evidence except by mere accident; but, finding what had been done, I was desirous of obtaining an opinion of some one disconnected with the office, and I knew no one more competent to offer an opinion than that distinguished Professor to whom I refer. He gave me an opinion. It is asked—"Why did you do nothing with it?" Because nothing was intended to be done with reference to these matters, nor were they intended to be made public. But when my acts were impeached it became necessary for my justification to show upon what grounds I was proceeding in the course which I advised the Government to take. There cannot be a more interesting or important question than that which was commenced but which could not be brought to a conclusion. I had been asked to supply the plans of the new Museum of Natural History. The Trustees of the British Museum did not take offence at my having to perform that duty, or having plans prepared on alterations which I suggested. On the contrary, they expressed satisfaction at the trouble taken 741 to bring the designs for the new Museum into their present condition, and I venture to think that those designs will produce for this country a building wholly unsurpassed by any Museum which exists in Europe or any other part of the world. The question to be considered was a large one, to be decided by the Cabinet, and all I had to do was to get the preliminary information necessary to enable me to show that I was proceeding upon the opinion of some one competent to advise on scientific subjects. Therefore I obtained the views of Professor Owen, and they would have been kept in confidence until the time arrived for entering upon an investigation of the subject. But I was forced into an expression of my own views by the attacks made upon me; and I am not sure that those attacks were not made because it leaked out that I was unfavourable to any separate department at Kew, and was favourable to carrying out a large and comprehensive scheme to complete the Natural History Museum within the building which Parliament had determined should be erected. I venture to say that no man of business who would take the trouble to carefully consider these Papers could come to the conclusion that there is a line in them conveying anything offensive. And I am happy to say that men of business on both sides of this House, who are not personal friends of mine, and whom I have only met within the walls of this House, have carefully read these through, and assured me that they have arrived at that conclusion. It is impossible always to carry on official correspondence in the style of correspondence of another kind. It is necessary that such communications should be written in clear and precise language; but if people write letters to me intended to provoke me into animosity I pass them by, for I have no kind of animosity in the conduct of public business, but carry it on in the most perfect good humour, with the desire of performing my duty in the manner which I consider best for the public interest. I am sorry I am not able to stop—as I should like to do—here; but, unfortunately, my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) has thought fit to introduce into this discussion another topic, which, I think, at this moment might well have been passed over. I wish, however, before 742 mentioning it, to state that the Papers have been laid upon the Table of the House in such a way as to lead the public to suppose that my official Memorandum is an answer to the representation of the Doctor's. When my official Memorandum was written I had not seen that paper of the philosophers, because they thought it consistent with their philosophy or profession to print this document, mark it confidential, circulate it privately amongst their friends, and let it go into the channels of the Press, without commuicating it to me. The letter was then sent to the Treasury, and was brought under consideration. These gentlemen claim for themselves great weight and authority. They are gentlemen eminent for their knowledge of organic and inorganic matter. They have applied their minds to various branches of natural science connected with these material pursuits, and they pride themselves in consequence on being infinitely superior to me. Well, Sir, I do not wish to pride myself upon anything. I am but a humble member of a profession which, however, does pride itself on studying and practising a science far higher and deserving far more consideration than the science of organic and inorganic matter. It is the great moral science which has in civilized nations regulated the relations of man to man, and which tends to teach people how they may judge righteously and act justly—I mean the great profession of the Law, which has taught man how to exercise power, not only in this Assembly, but in every Assembly which has undertaken to administer the affairs of nations. And I venture to think that if amongst these Professors there had been a barrister of one year's standing—or I may say even a pupil of one year's standing in the Temple—he could have taught wisdom which would have astonished these Doctors. Before they passed an opinion they should have taken care to be in possession of all the facts; but of the necessity of this these gentlemen seem to have been unmindful—they contented themselves with mere ex parte suggestions to arrive at a conclusion. There are some philosophers who have persuaded themselves by an imperfect appreciation of facts and slip-shod reasoning, that they have extended the domain of human science, and have arrived at 743 extraordinary conclusions. If by a process of natural selection you can raise some object of nature to a higher position by continuous cultivation, yet if you omit that, it invariably goes back to the state of its original stock. Therefore there is always a difficulty in that theory, when it is applied to our race—according to the authority of those who profess such special knowledge on the subject, for you never can tell the exact period when cultivation stops and when man who has been evolved by cultivation begins to go back to his original stock. If we are to judge the writers by their letter, what do we find? That without troubling themselves to gain information upon the facts which should be known before a conclusion can be arrived at, they have written a scurrilous and most calumnious libel upon myself. Who is the author of this? I have endeavoured to find out. There is some difficulty in discovering who is responsible for this. I can only regard it as the abuse contained which any public man with duties to perform must expect at the hands of those disappointed by the course be pursues. What was the origin of the matter? Dr. Hooker is by law a subordinate officer of the Board of Works, the Commissioner being invested by Parliament with the duty of governing Kew Gardens. Dr. Hooker has no status by law. He is an executive officer of the Board, and to it he is responsible. Let us look to the terms of his appointment and see whether he does or does not understand what is his position. The terms of his appointment provide that he will be required to give his exclusive time and attention to the business of the office and to observe strictly such orders as may be given by the Chief Commissioners of Works. That is his status. The published Papers show that his predecessor, Sir William Hooker, was subject to the most peremptory orders by the Chief Commissioner, even in matters which might be supposed peculiarly under his control, as to the cultivation of the gardens and laying out of the grounds. A gentleman having large gardens told me, after reading the style of those orders, that he should not venture to write thus to his own gardener if he went down to his country house and found his gardens in confusion. In one letter, having undertaken to lay out £30, Dr. Hooker was told he must not do 744 so again, and could only spend with the authority of the Office of Works. That was a letter of a few lines, such as would be written to a subordinate, and numerous letters have been printed for the purpose of showing the nature and extent of the interference of the Chief Commissioner in accordance with the Act of Parliament and with the conditions which Dr. Hooker has been content to accept. Dr. Hooker and his father have been addressed from time to time in a most peremptory manner—so peremptory that he admits having been quite disconcerted on making a well-considered proposal on some matters of cultivation because the First Commissioner shook his head at him. There cannot be more complete dependence than that. This having been the legal and actual state of things, how can Dr. Hooker complain of my continuing to exercise the power? It is clear that Dr. Hooker thought the time had come when this state of things should no longer continue. It was thought that a new and independent department was to be organized under Dr. Hooker, assisted by a council of wise men. I do not state it as an admitted fact, but as a just conclusion from facts. That was their object and purpose, and it is not surprising that they should have taken every opportunity of resisting the Chief Commissioner's authority, knowing that his opinion was in favour of maintaining the existing state of things in its entirety until the erection of the great Museum of Natural History, when the whole subject would be reconsidered, with a view to the advancement of botanical science and the management of the Gardens as a place of public recreation. This explains a great deal of the agitation that has been going on. My hon. Friend has revived what he calls the accusation against myself. Now, I expected before the debate commenced, that the Government having definitely decided to make no change in the administration of the Gardens under the Office of Works, leaving the question open till the erection of the Museum, that there would have been an end to this contention, and the business would have gone on as heretofore, Dr. Hooker being regarded—as I have always regarded him—as head of the department, and receiving, of course, from me all the consideration due to his botanical knowledge and the 745 experience he might have gained in carrying on the affairs of the department. When appealed to by my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, now nearly a twelvemonth ago, I denied that there was anything personal in these proceedings. I had no animosity against Dr. Hooker, but had shown the greatest respect for him—inviting his opinion, for instance, on the management of parks and gardens in the neighbourhood of the metropolis—what I had done was the mere prosecution of a public duty imposed on me by law. I regretted Dr. Hooker should find in every commonplace act of business a matter of personal contention, giving rise to personal expressions on his part. Not content with that, Dr. Hooker, doubtless in a moment of irritation and vexation at finding he was not likely to accomplish his end, wrote a letter to my right hon. Friend's private Secretary. My right hon. Friend at the head of the Government had written a letter which would have satisfied and gratified anyone in the public service; but finding Dr. Hooker not satisfied, he went further than he had perhaps ever done on a similar occasion, saying—"You had better go to my Secretary, and perhaps he will be able to arrange the matter with you to your satisfaction." To the Secretary Dr. Hooker accordingly went, and anyone aware of Mr. West's ability experience, and conciliatory manner must know that nobody better qualified for the duty could have been selected. It was a great thing for the First Minister of the Crown to take such trouble to satisfy a person occupying such a subordinate position; but what availed Mr. West's endeavours to please him? [Mr. OSBORNE: What did he propose?] I am not acquainted with the communications that passed between Mr. West and Dr. Hooker, for they did not come under my observation, but Dr. Hooker sent Mr. West a most offensive and calumnious attack on myself. That was his reward for the services Mr. West was disposed to render. Mr. West did what any gentleman of good feeling and judgment would have done; he told Dr. Hooker he had put his letter aside in the hope that he would have a better sense of the way he should treat the head of a public Department. For more than six months Dr. Hooker carried on his negotiations with Mr. West and with a 746 Committee of the Cabinet. In those negotiations I took no part; I had no personal feeling in the matter. But the negotiations went on with a Committee of the Cabinet on the basis of a written memorandum which had been delivered to them by Dr. Hooker. Throughout his communications with the Cabinet, however, he never made the slightest allusion to the charge which he had deposited privately with Mr. West. He went on in the hope, no doubt, that he would be able to induce the Government to alter the conditions of his appointment, and to set up an independent establishment at Kew. In saying this, I am merely drawing what I conceive to be the legitimate conclusion from all that has occurred. But having gone on in this way for six months, what does Dr. Hooker do? He publishes the charge to which I am referring, through his Professors, in order that they might circulate it confidentially behind my back. What sort of conduct, I should like to know, is it that a subordinate should in the first place lodge a charge with an individual in whose keeping he knows it will be wholly confidential, and that, after he has negotiated with the Government on an entirely different basis, he should then endeavour to revive that charge, and, when he does so, never venture to assert one single fact for the purpose of establishing it? In the paper signed by those Professors, although they make a charge, they do not state any facts by which it can be sustained. If I were to do justice to their intelligence, I should say that they never had any facts before them by which the charge could be supported. But if I were to do justice to their inconsiderate conduct, I should say that they were meddling with a business that did not concern them, and with respect to which they did not possess adequate information, and were not competent to express an opinion. Let the House just observe the nature of this charge, as also of that which has been solemnly preferred against me in "another place." The two charges are the very opposite of one another. The charge which has been made in "another place" is that I, conscious of my own knowledge and capacity, have been overbearing towards a subordinate officer. Such is the charge which it is attempted to support by those frivolous details to 747 which I have called the attention of the House. But the charge made against me by Dr. Hooker is that I have been guilty of evasion and misrepresentation and of all those errors that are used by a slave to escape from the anger of his master, but which a master, conscious of his power, is not in the habit of exercising against a slave. If I were a person who was, as has been represented, so overbearing and conscious of my power, I should not have resorted to evasion and misrepresentation and all those tricks that persons conscious of their weakness find themselves compelled to adopt. But there is, in point of fact, no foundation for the charge. It has got into the Parliamentary Papers. It has been sent by the Professors to my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government; but the House must bear in mind that the letter that conveyed it has never up to this day been officially brought under my own notice, and that up to the time it was printed by order of the House I have never even read it. It is true I received a letter apparently written by a clerk, sending me the confidential printed paper long after it had been circulated, but I had no opportunity whatever given me of refuting the charge before it had been made public. I think the House, therefore, will agree with me that I only acted in a manner consistent with my position when I stated that circumstances did not admit of my receiving the letter just mentioned, and that I meant no discourtesy to those who wrote it when I sent it back. They gave me notice when notice was of no use; but to give me notice when it would be of use was what they avoided doing. When the charge was sent for publication to the newspapers, they appeared to have arrived at some notion of the rules of moral conduct, but I then declined to condone their conduct. The hon. Member for Brighton made a speech, to which I take no objection whatever. The House has a right to know what I have done; why no Motion has been brought under its consideration; and whether the course taken has been at my request and for my benefit. When any appeal has been made to me with respect to the course which was to be pursued in reference to it, I have invariably declined to give an answer. I have always said it was not for me to regulate the where and 748 the how the matter should be discussed, and that it was for those who objected to my conduct to take their own course on their own responsibility. From the day the question was first mooted until the present hour no notice whatever has been given that any Resolution impugning my conduct would be moved in either House. There were, indeed, Notices which would furnish ample scope for any amount of observations; but no man has a right to bring forward a question impugning the conduct of a Minister unless he is prepared to pledge himself to some definite Resolution, or, at all events, to have in his hands complete all the evidence by which he thinks he can support the imputation which he is about to make. It did not, therefore, depend upon the publication of a single paper in the correspondence whether a Motion of this kind was made or not. The publication is for my defence; and the materials—if any existed in support of the accusation—could have been obtained from Dr. Hooker. It was the duty of anyone who wished to impugn my conduct in either House of Parliament to state distinctly what he proposed to do, and I would then be in a position to ask my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government to afford me an opportunity of meeting any charge. But what has actually been done? It has been stated in "another place" that no Resolution would be propounded there because it was to be propounded in the House of Commons. I have waited for such a Resolution, but I have waited in vain; Notice of no Resolution of the kind has been placed on the Books of the House, and therefore my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, having regard to the Public Business, was by no means bound to entertain the question. Of the conduct of the hon. Baronet behind me I have had no reason to complain. He has acted throughout consistently up to the present day. I very much regret what he has done now, because he has compelled me to go into matters which I should have been contented to leave upon the Parliamentary Papers. As matters now stand, a grave charge has been made against me by a subordinate officer, from which it is incumbent upon me to defend myself, and the ultimate result of which I will 749 not now anticipate, more especially as it is not my intention to take any part in its final solution. The charge has been made against me in a communication to the First Minister of the Crown, and my duty in the matter was performed when I drew his attention to it, and I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend will perform his duty also with respect to the subject. Whatever may be in the future, I can only say that the force of association of ideas, which is a source of the greatest pleasure, but which is also a source of the greatest prejudices and follies, has perhaps had too much influence on some gentlemen. No doubt, Dr. Hooker occupies a very important position as a botanist. He distributes thousands of interesting plants to persons who make botany their study, or who desire them for their gardens; and for years they have associated him with the benefits they have enjoyed. But this is the performance of a public duty, and it would be a grave reflection on all the greatest botanists of the country if it went forth that there is only one man in the kingdom who understands botany, and only one man who is competent to serve the Crown in this department. It would be a principle fatal to the administration of the public service if you were to allow it to be proclaimed that there is any one person who occupies such a position that he is entitled to dictate to his official superior, who is invested with the discharge of public duties, or to the Government, the course which they are to pursue.
wished to make an explanation in regard to what the right hon. Gentleman had said of him. It was quite true that he did ask the advice of several hon. Members whether he should put the Question which had been referred to to the right hon. Gentleman, and it was also true that they had all given him the same answer. They advised him not to put the Question, because, they added, "You will be quite certain to get an offensive reply."
Is the hon. Gentleman in Order in reciting in this House the statement made to him that if he put a certain Question he would get an offensive reply from any Member of this House?
I made use of the expression because it had been previously used by the First Commissioner of Works.
I must again rise to Order. The hon. Member has quoted an expression that he states was used by some of his friends of whom we know nothing, and by doing so makes the expression his own. You, Sir, having ruled that the expression is un-Parliamentary, the hon. Member, instead of withdrawing the expression, has attempted to defend it by referring to some other expression which, if equally un-Parliamentary, ought to have been withdrawn.
I naturally withdraw at your bidding, Mr. Speaker, the expression; but I think there should be one law for all Members of this House.
§ MR. AYRTON
The House will allow me to explain that the answer to which I referred was made in my presence—
§ MR. AYRTON
I am speaking of certain answers, and these answers were made in my presence by Gentlemen of authority and weight in this House; and hon. Gentlemen will recollect that that could not be the tenor of the answers, considering the Gentlemen from whom they came.
§ MR. EASTWICK
wished to recall attention to two matters of considerable importance to the public, which he feared might be lost sight of owing to the brilliant flashes of wit which had emanated from the hon. Member for Water-ford (Mr. Osborne) and the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works. The public would read the speeches of those Gentlemen next morning, and would be much amused and interested; but the interest would be of an evanescent character. What the public was really interested in was—first, the competitive examination which was described in the printed Correspondence about Kew Gardens, which had been laid before Parliament. Competitive examinations were of serious and abiding importance to the public. Now, 751 a more complete case of failure had never occurred in all his experience than in the instance of the examination which had been referred to. At page 1 of the Correspondence, it was expressly stated by the First Commissioner that the assistance of a clerk was to be granted to the Curator, to relieve him of duties by which he was frequently detained in his office till midnight. But this aid was so injudiciously given that the Curator himself protested against it. Thus, at page 21 of the Correspondence, the Curator writes as follows:—I therefore beg leave to protest against having any clerk thrust upon me for whom I have not full employment, and who would thus spend the greater part of his time in idleness, which is not to be elsewhere found in this establishment. I therefore beg that my duties, already onerous, may not be increased by having to superintend an officer of the Board doing next to nothing.It was easy to see how this failure had occurred. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that at the examination there were only three or five candidates—he did not remember which; and this paucity of candidates was owing to the default of the examiners in not making the fact that the examination was going to be held sufficiently public. Again, at page 9, there was a programme containing the conditions of the examinations, and it was expressly stated that—Candidates would be required to show what preliminary training, or technical education, they had undergone to qualify themselves for a situation of that nature.But at page 17 of the Correspondence, there was a letter from the examiners confessing that they had altogether omitted to inquire what preliminary training the successful candidate had had. Again, at page 20, Dr. Hooker stated that this successful candidate wrote indifferently, spelt badly, composed unsatisfactorily, was quite incompetent to direct foremen, had had no preliminary training, and had never kept accounts or stores. It was of importance to the public that such an examination as this should not occur again. The next subject in which the public was interested was one which had reference to the right hon. Gentleman himself. Everyone admitted the great abilities and the zeal for the public good shown by the right hon. Gentleman, and even his imperturable good humour. Why was it, then, that the right hon. Gentleman, in spite of all these great qualities, was 752 obliged to stand forward that night to defend his conduct? The reason was that there was something in his management of affairs, which certainly did—without his seeming to know it—give offence. He must remind the right hon. Gentleman of the French proverb—Qui s'excuse s'accuse. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Bromley-Davenport) had been deeply offended by an answer the right hon. Gentleman had given him; and on another occasion an old and respected Member of the House, the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird), had received an answer which had evidently given him much pain. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of those answers as playful, but it was a sort of play that resembled the pelting of the frogs in the fable. He trusted that in future the right hon. Gentleman would leave off pelting the frogs, and adopt a different course in dealing with those with whom he came into official communication, otherwise the public interests must suffer, as was clearly shown by this controversy, which might have ended—might even now end—in the country being deprived of the services of one of two gentlemen who were both extremely useful in their respective ways. In conclusion, he trusted that in future the right hon. Gentleman would guide his lance with more discretion.
I cannot resist the impulse to mention the deep regret with which I have listened to this discussion. My hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) has been pleased to sneer at the part which I took in reference to this question last summer, and he has been pleased especially to sneer at the part taken in the matter by the gentleman who was my private Secretary, and who has recently been rewarded for the arduous labours he had so well performed. From the first moment I heard of the differences that had unfortunately arisen between my right hon. Friend and Dr. Hooker, I felt that the matter was not one in which I was officially bound to interfere in my personal capacity. Indeed, it would be impossible for me personally to undertake the responsibility of settling all difficulties which might arise between Ministers and servants of the Crown acting under their directions. Feeling, however, that much mischief would be 753 likely to accrue were this matter to be allowed to run the usual official course, I did make an effort to bring the dispute to a satisfactory termination. In that endeavour, however, I entirely failed, and my private Secretary, Mr. West, full as he is of kindness, also failed in achieving that object—his only reward being that he has been made the subject of a taunt by the hon. Member for Waterford. [Mr. OSBORNE: I never uttered any taunt against Mr. West.] I am very glad to hear that, and I entirely withdraw what I have said; but I will not say whether I have not reason for misapprehending my hon. Friend. I am perfectly satisfied with what he has said. This proceeding became the subject of official communication, and I will say here that the object of the Government in all its endeavours has been to do what was well described by the hon. Member who last addressed the House—namely, to secure to the public the services of two men, each of them most able and valuable in their several capacities, the one as an important political officer of the Government; the other as a permanent officer in the public service, but subordinate to that officer who holds a political position of high trust and importance. That was our object, and I must say that three hours ago it was attained. I am not now going to make any vague or indiscriminate references to private communications; but I must allude to the position of my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock), and to the references to that position by the hon. Member for Waterford. My hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone, whose agency in this matter has been characterized by the hon. Member for Waterford in terms not the most complimentary, was not sought by me or by any Gentleman sitting upon this bench—my hon. Friend sought us and entered into communication with us, and I, for one, very willingly and gladly communicated with him, because it appeared that his object was compatible with the honour of both parties. My hope was that this object would be obtained. I lay no blame on my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) for the course that he has taken, for his speech was a judicious one. I had intended to point out the actual state of affairs: It was this—if ever there was any ambiguity about 754 the position of Dr. Hooker at Kew, that ambiguity had been removed by a clear official explanation on the part of the Treasury. That explanation was understood and accepted by my right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works; it was understood and accepted by Dr. Hooker; and no one has failed to see that that simple explanation appears to afford a basis for them to co-operate for the advantage of the public in the official positions in which they stand. I had communicated to my hon. Friend that I was perfectly convinced—and I made myself responsible for the statement—that there never had been on the part of the First Commissioner of Works the slightest intention to wound the feelings or disparage the character or position of Dr. Hooker; that his desire had been to acquit himself firmly and vigorously of his duties as a public servant; and if upon any occasion anything had been said or done—as might have been the case—which to Dr. Hooker might have conveyed an appearance different from the reality, it was far from the intention of my right hon. Friend. All that was perfectly clear. There was one other subject to which it would have been my duty to refer, and I will just mention it—namely, the special charge which has, most unfortunately and unhappily, been brought by Dr. Hooker against my right hon. Friend of "evasions and misrepresentations." That charge is, undoubtedly, a fact of the gravest character. But here I will express a belief more favourable to Dr. Hooker than that of my right hon. Friend. That charge was conveyed in a letter which Mr. West very prudently, as I think, treated—I will not say as waste paper—but as a document which ought not to have become part of the communication on this subject. Afterwards, to the great surprise of my right hon. Friend, he learnt from leading articles in the newspapers that this charge had been made. He brought it under my notice. I inquired where was it found, and discovered that it was in this private letter. It was certainly a matter of the greatest astonishment to me that it should have become a part of the citations in the leading articles of newspapers. It was a letter written to Mr. West, who was communicated with in his own personal capacity as one actuated by a friendly feeling between man and man. I am 755 convinced—unfortunate as the publication of this letter is—that it is totally impossible it could have been done by Dr. Hooker's agency or permission. I am bound also to add that the charge having been made, the whole House will see that it is absolutely necessary, if it cannot be sustained, that it should be distinctly and unconditionally withdrawn, and that regret should be expressed for its having been made. I feel that would be the wish of Dr. Hooker himself, and in that hope I will say that I think both these distinguished gentlemen may be able, without painful feeling on either side, to continue their co-operation in the public service. I must not refrain from expressing what deep regret I felt when I found my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone thought it part of his duty, in following the judicious and conciliatory remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, to enter upon matters of controversy with respect to charges against my right hon. Friend. I know too well the conciliatory disposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone to believe that he was actuated by any but the best of motives. He has been accused of being counselled by us. I do not know whether he was counselled by anybody else; but, if so, I do not envy that counsellor his reflections on the result. It is most unfortunate that this controversy should have been raised in this House. It was unfair to my right hon. Friend that, after seeing that no special Notice had been placed upon the; Paper, and that the general Notice which had been given had been withdrawn, without a moment's preparation, without any reference to documents, he should have been put upon his defence upon a matter as to which he was the butt of condemnation and abuse from various quarters. But was it fair to Dr. Hooker? On the contrary, it was not less unfortunate for his interests. There are many men in this House who take the most friendly and laudable interest in the character of Dr. Hooker, and hardly one of them is in his place to-night. No such discussion as this should have been brought forward as a controversial discussion, except with fair notice to all parties interested in what was to be done. Well, my hon. Friend having reiterated those charges, my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) having, as he says, held the 756 balance evenly between both—I should rather call it practising his surgery upon both—my right hon. Friend most naturally rose upon the moment to make his defence, met strong accusations with strong replies, and could not be expected to refrain from uttering what had been his own feelings in the course of this painful controversy. These feelings my right hon. Friend up to 5 o'clock had been perfectly content to bury,-and when I went to him on this bench, he said he would leave the matter in my hands. Now, I do hope—though affairs do not stand as well as they did awhile ago—that the error committed will be regretted as an error, and that we shall try to return to the point where we were. I must say that I think scientific men, as they are called by the exclusive appropriation of a title which I must protest against, have a great susceptibility. It is natural that it should be so. But independent of that, those who are not accustomed to enter into our sturdy conflicts take reproof in a much more serious manner than we who are hardened by long use are accustomed to do. Very possibly much allowance ought to be made for them; but I confess I am extremely sorry, on account of Dr. Hooker, for whose scientific attainments I have the deepest admiration, that this subject should be treated as it has been on the present occasion. As to the point affecting the personal character of my right hon. Friend, I understand that owing to the illness of Dr. Hooker he had not been able to make any communication to-day, bat which I hope will be received and put an end to the whole controversy. Assuming that it will be put an end to—for I am sure I cannot but assent to the sense of my right hon. Friend that if it is not the continuance of official relations cannot be considered to be anything but momentary—but assuming that it is got rid of in a satisfactory manner, I hope we will be able to take a practical view of this question. Those who have heard my right hon. Friend are, I am sure, convinced that his desire is to do his duty, and those who have known Dr. Hooker and his character will, I am certain, have exactly the same conviction of him. Well, let us say to Dr. Hooker and my right hon. Friend, if personal matters can be disposed of in the only way they ought to be disposed of—namely, in the way I have pointed out—let us say to 757 them—"Bury in forgetfulness the recollection of those differences," and if that can only once be done there will, I am sure, be no competition between such men except the anxiety of both to do their duty to the public, my right hon. Friend exercising his rule with mildness, and Dr. Hooker doing his duty in subordination to my right hon. Friend.
§ MR. COWPER-TEMPLE
expressed the hope that no change might occur in reference to Kew Gardens which would deprive that place of its scientific character; that they might not lose that which made it the centre of botanical knowledge for the whole world, nor the superintendence of the eminent Director who was foremost amongst the botanists of Europe. Of course, the First Commissioner had a right to defend himself with force; but he certainly did show a degree of bitterness against the scientific men which alarmed him (Mr. Cowper-Temple) greatly for the future of the establishment. His sneers against scientific men like Sir James Paget could harm no one but himself. He did not think that a Minister of the Crown should allude to a scientific man under the figure of a slave. Throughout the Correspondence, Dr. Hooker was not treated with that consideration and courtesy which were generally shown to gentlemen. He was treated in a tone that might be used to an under gardener; but surely people did not cease to be gentlemen because they were men of science. The Minute at the end of the Correspondence seemed upon the face of it to be satisfactory; it was satisfactory as an acknowledgment that Dr. Hooker had just cause of complaint, but by an artificial distinction between two parts of the Gardens it prepared the way for future annoyance, and withdrew from the Director the management of the arboretum, or pleasure gardens. He did not think that it was well to divide the Garden into two parts in this way, and to destroy the unity of responsibility and superintendence.
§ MR. AYRTON
explained that the metaphor as to a "slave" had been misunderstood:—it was Dr. Hooker who put the slave upon him (Mr. Ayrton).
§ Motion agreed to.