HL Deb 29 July 1872 vol 213 cc2-23

, who had given Notice to call attention to the Case of Dr. Hooker, Director of the Royal Gardens at Kew, said: My Lords, in the actual state of this House, and the thinness of the benches on this side of the House, I think it will not be necessary for me to disclaim any intention on my part to make the subject to which I am about to call attention a party question; but though there is no such intention on my part, in pursuance of Notice given I have to call attention to a controversy—an unfortunate and disagreeable controversy—between Dr. Hooker, Director of the Royal Gardens at Kew, on the one hand, and the First Commissioner of Works, representing Her Majesty's Government, on the other. I regret the delay which has occurred in bringing forward this subject; but though to me, personally, most of the facts are familiar, I could not, in fairness to one of the parties concerned, bring them forward until the argument on both sides—the justification, such as it is—was before the public. And even now I do so under great difficulty, for these Papers of 180 pages have not been yet quite 48 hours in either mine or your Lordships' hands, and being without index or lists of subjects, and classified in a way which I do not profess to understand, I am not at all sure that I may not have omitted some circumstance material, or at least important, in its bearings on the case. They, moreover, contain a mass of very trivial and irrelevant matter, while a good deal of what has passed between Dr. Hooker and the Government does not appear. Now, the case is one which, during the last few months, has attracted an unusual degree of attention, not only among members of various scientific professions, but also among the general public, which does not often interest itself in departmental controversies of this kind. Indeed, I can hardly call to mind an instance when a subject not of a political character—using the word in its conventional sense—not appealing to party feeling, or to class interest, or to sectarian zeal, has created so general a sympathy with the person attacked, or elicited so unanimous an expression of public opinion. Dr. Hooker's case has been taken up by the various representatives of science, with a degree of earnestness and warmth not often shown by persons occupied in these tranquil pursuits, and the substance of his complaint is contained in a Memorial addressed to the First Lord of the Treasury, by 11 gentlemen eminent alike by personal attainments and by professional position. I will enumerate them—Sir Charles Lyell, Mr. Darwin, Professor Huxley, Professor Tyndall, Sir James Paget, Sir Henry Holland, the President of the College of Physicians, the President of the College of Surgeons, the President of the Linnæan Society, Sir Henry Rawlinson (President of the Geographical Society), and Mr. Spottiswoode. No words of mine are necessary to point out the weight of authority which attaches to these names. Many of them are Liberals in politics, so far as they have any polities—practically, most are neutrals; and it is impossible to doubt that the only feeling that has actuated them in this matter is zeal for justice and for the interests of science. They declare that the resignation of Dr. Hooker—which they assume to be inevitable as a consequence of these transactions—unless some interference takes place, would be a calamity to English science, and a scandal to the English Government. Further, since this matter has been in my hands I have received numerous letters from men of more or less distinction in various lines of scientific study, all expressing the same feeling of sympathy and of indignation, though from various reasons the writers are unwilling to mix personally in the dispute. Memorials, too, from the Royal Horticultural Society, the Meteorological Society, from the Royal Botanic Society, from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and I believe from various other similar bodies, have been addressed to the Treasury, and I affirm confidently that all these individuals and public bodies have so bestirred themselves without pressure, or canvassing, or solicitation, and without the use of any one of those devices by which artificial agitation can be sometimes got up. My Lords, I set no undue value on what is called public opinion; it may be hastily formed—it may be formed on imperfect knowledge, or under the influence of strong prejudice; but where there has been time for consideration and reflection, where the facts are simple and generally known, where party or sectarian feeling does not and cannot operate, I think a Minister may reasonably suspect that he has put himself in the wrong when many voices are raised against him, and when not a single independent voice is raised in his support. I will say further—I cannot allow that this is a matter which concerns the First Commissioner of Works personally and exclusively; if it did so, as he is not a Member of this House, I should have preferred to leave the matter to be dealt with where he is able personally to reply. But though the acts complained of may have been his acts in the first instance, the responsibility of them is not confined to him; they have been made subjects of general complaint; they have been brought under the notice of the Treasury and the Cabinet; and there has been ample opportunity to disavow any act which was disapproved, or to repair any wrong admitted to be such. But no such disavowal has taken place; no such reparation has been made, except in one instance, where an objectionable appointment was cancelled, and except the very slight and inadequate explanation contained in a document from which I shall presently quote. And as I would not lightly charge noble Lords opposite, or their Colleagues "elsewhere," with the childish folly of proposing to defend what they know to be indefensible, rather than seem to give way to pressure from political opponents, I am thrown back on the only other alternative, and compelled to assume that, on a deliberate investigation of the whole matter, they think Mr. Ayrton has been right and Dr. Hooker wrong. Now, my Lords, who is Dr. Hooker, and what is his position in regard to Kew Gardens? I will rather remind your Lordships of facts which have been made familiar to you through the Press than state them at length, but they are a necessary part of the case. Rather more than 30 years ago Kew Gardens were handed over by Her Majesty—in whose personal occupation or that of the Royal Family they were—to the use of the public. They were to be maintained, as they have been, as a national scientific establishment, as well as a place of popular enjoyment and recreation. Sir William Hooker, father of Dr. Hooker, was at that time Professor of Botany at the University of Glasgow. He gave up his post, sacrificing more than half his income, to undertake the management, and was appointed Director at £300 a-year, which sum was raised to £600 and £800, as the Gardens extended, and the work in connection with them became heavier. Three botanical collections, containing 50,000 specimens, were made at his private cost and given by him to the country, and they are said to be the most complete now existing in the world. The Herbarium, too, was made by him, and was bought by the State at a very low valuation. Considering the labour, the skill, the scientific knowledge, and the personal outlay of Sir William Hooker on these Gardens, it is no exaggeration to speak of them as being his creation. The State gave the opportunity, and provided the funds; the rest was done by him. His son, Dr. Hooker, the present Director, assisted his father many years without pay in the scientific work of the Gardens. He served during four years as naturalist to the Antarctic Expedition; he was sent out by Government, first to the Himalayas, visiting there a country never traversed before or since by any European; he was afterwards employed on a scientific mission in Borneo, and I may mention that the cost to him of the Indian expedition more than doubled the allowance made for it by Government, while the collections at Kew have been largely enriched at his own cost. One instance is mentioned in which half his yearly salary was expended on a single purchase. The Gardens under his care now extend over 300 acres; and, as a scientific establishment, they are said by botanists to have no rival in Europe. As a place of popular enjoyment, they receive an average of 600,000 yearly visitors; while more than 130 volumes on subjects connected with botany have issued from Kew, and all this has been done at a cost of not more than £20,000 a-year. These are the antecedents of the gentleman who has been unfortunate enough to incur the displeasure of the First Commissioner of Works. It is also stated—and, I believe, not denied—that in 30 years of public service Dr. Hooker had never received a reprimand from an official superior; and there is not the least excuse for saying that there had been, on his part, either extravagance or waste. The Estimates for the last few years will show that the expenditure on these Gardens, at all times moderate, has, since Dr. Hooker's control of them, rather diminished than increased. He was undoubtedly subject to the Board of Works, and it was a matter of official routine that his estimates should be scrutinized and his plans approved by his official superiors; but he may reasonably have expected—and I presume he did expect—that, being master of his subject, having a long experience and almost unequalled knowledge of it, and that subject not being one with which Parliamentary officials are likely to have made themselves acquainted, he would be left to manage the ordinary business of the Gardens in his own way, using such means as seemed to him most suitable within certain definite limits of expense. Now, my Lords, what are the acts of which. Dr. Hooker complains? The first he describes as A transaction with my subordinate of a nature so new to my long experience of official life, and so repugnant to my principles, that I refrain from characterizing it. The circumstances appear to be these—The First Commissioner of Works called at Kew in December, 1870, Dr. Hooker being then on the spot. He did not see Dr. Hooker, nor ask to see him, but held a confidential conversation with the Curator, Dr. Hooker's subordinate, in which he offered to the latter a position in London as Secretary of the Parks, which, in regard to some of the duties which it involved, would have placed that gentleman over the head of Dr. Hooker himself. He was said to have added a request that the Curator would keep this proposal a secret from Dr. Hooker. That request—if it was made—very much to his credit, the Curator disregarded. I understand that fact is denied by the First Commissioner in his reply; but he admits that he told the Curator that it was unnecessary to mention the subject to Dr. Hooker, as he meant to do so himself, which he never did. My Lords, to anyone accustomed to official life, it is hardly possible to conceive a more singular violation of official discipline and custom, or even of the rules of fair play, than is involved in this transaction. The subordinate is consulted as to the placing him in a position of independence of, and even of superiority to his chief, and the offer is kept—whether by accident or design seems to be in dispute, but it is kept—from the person who is principally affected by it. In every branch of the public service of which I know anything, a head of a Department so treated would feel that in self-respect he had no alternative left except to resign. Only imagine the Foreign Secretary—I beg pardon for the supposition—corresponding privately with the Secretary of Embassy at Paris or Vienna, on the arrangements of those Embassies, and adding that it was not necessary that the Ambassador should be told of what was going on! I do not want to exaggerate, or use strong words, but it is difficult to speak of such a proceeding otherwise than as deliberately offensive. It may not have been meant so—I hope it was not; but if not, I must say the First Commissioner has a very odd idea of the way in which business is done among gentlemen. The second charge is, removing the Curator from his duties under Dr. Hooker without communication with Dr. Hooker. What appears to have happened in this matter is, that some alterations being required in Hyde Park, or Kensington Gardens, with which Dr. Hooker had nothing to do—his functions being limited to Kew—the First Commissioner proposed to place this work under the charge of the Curator, removing him thereby for several weeks from the duty for which he was employed and paid, leaving Dr. Hooker to do without him as best he could, and this without so much as asking beforehand whether the Curator's services could be spared or not. I need hardly point out either the official irregularity or the substantial injustice of this proceeding. It was, of course, objected to, correspondence ensued, and, finally, the idea was dropped, but not until an appeal to the Treasury or the Prime Minister personally—I do not know which—had been threatened. My Lords, the third grievance is, that Dr. Hooker having been charged by a former First Commissioner with the duty of re-modelling the heating apparatus used in the Department, the plans and estimates having been supplied by him, and the apparatus being, as is stated, for scientific purposes the most perfect that exists, he suddenly in June of last year discovered that without notice given or reason assigned he had been superseded in this duty. He appeals to the First Commissioner to know if this is so, and he is told in reply curtly that he had been superseded and that he was "to govern himself accordingly." I could hardly believe, when I first read this statement, that it was an accurate representation of the facts. I searched through the Papers for an explanation of it, and I can find none except that the Chief Commissioner supposed the transfer to have been notorious—not a reason for not communicating it to the person most concerned; but even if that had been so, and if the ignoring of Dr. Hooker in the first instance was a mistake or act of omission, I venture to say that the proceeding described is equally objectionable in substance and in form. The more public it was, the greater was the necessity of explaining that it was not intended as a censure. It does not require any argument to show that to take from the head of a Department—such as Kew—the control of the hot-houses, is to deprive him of all power over a very important part of his business, while leaving him responsible for the results. I believe that among botanists and horticulturists in this country there is on that point an absolute unanimity, and I have seen a letter stating that in the Jardin des Plantes, at Paris, the practice which prevails, and always has prevailed, is that which Dr. Hooker contends for. But even if the matter in dispute were more contestable, that could be no justification. It is one thing to limit in the first instance the functions of a public servant, and it is quite another thing to take away from him functions which he is actually performing, and as to his discharge of which no complaint has arisen—without warning, without an opportunity for discussion or appeal, and even without the common courtesy of informing him that these powers were to be withdrawn. Done in that way the act is an official censure—you can make nothing else of it—and a censure the more gratuitous, because—and I repeat it—anyone who looks at the Estimates will see that there was really no pretext for a charge of waste; on the contrary, since Dr. Hooker took charge of these Gardens the cost of them has been diminishing and not increasing. Another complaint is that the First Commissioner, without the knowledge of Dr. Hooker, the responsible person, did on his own account lay before the Treasury plans and estimates for an alteration in the Museum, which Dr. Hooker believes would have been entirely useless, which would have involved the closing of the Museum for months, and have led to great expenditure, for which Dr. Hooker would have been held by Parliament and the public to be the party responsible. What happens? He hears of this accidentally—he remonstrates. High powers interfere, the estimates are taken back and the matter is reconsidered. But even then the withdrawal is done in the most ungracious manner. Dr. Hooker, in this as in other cases, is not consulted nor informed; but the Curator, his subordinate, is sent for, and through that gentleman, without reference to his chief, the obnoxious act is cancelled. I am unwilling to go more than I can help into these details—but, as a sample of the way in which matters have been carried on at Kew, I must refer to a matter which occupies the first 25 pages of the Blue Book, and which appears to me a signal instance of how Departments contrive to make unnecessary work for themselves. It appears that an assistant was wanted for the Curator to perform certain special duties. Those duties involved the keeping of accounts, the custody of stores, the conducting of a large correspondence, and the direction of the foremen employed in the Gardens. The appointment is competed for not by an open, but a special examination, showing that special qualifications were required, and is given, without any reference to Dr. Hooker, to a man who had been employed in the Gardens, well known to the Director, and of whom both the Director and the Curator had formed a very unfavourable opinion. Dr. Hooker's Report upon him is— Writes indifferently, spells badly, incompetent to direct foremen in regard to stores, no preliminary education or training to fit him for the situation. He has never kept accounts, he has never been in charge of stores, and cannot conduct a correspondence creditably. Dr. Hooker entreats that he may be removed. The Treasury concur; in a letter dated May 2, of this year, the First Commissioner objects; and on June 26 the Treasury repeat their expression of opinion in a letter which is too long to quote, but which I am bound to say, to the credit of the writers, the Lords of the Treasury, and, I suppose, principally of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, does very clearly show that they thought, in this instance, the position of the First Commissioner to be indefensible. The man was discharged at last, and then follows a controversy between the various Departments concerned—Treasury, Board of Works, and Civil Service Commission—which certainly points to a very curious state of confusion and uncertainty as to the status of persons holding appointments in the Civil Service. Justice compels me to admit that in this case the Treasury, though rather tardily, have set themselves right. But the fact remains that everything in the power of the First Commissioner was done to force on Dr. Hooker a man whom he disapproved, whom he knew to be unfit, and for whom he could find no suitable employment. I do not wish either to exaggerate or to overlay my case, and I shall therefore pass by without notice the misunderstanding which occupies many pages of this volume, about the keeping and issuing of a certain work called The Flora of Tropical Africa, of which Dr. Hooker is the unpaid editor. I pass that over, although the misunderstanding, as far as I can see, might have been averted if Dr. Hooker had been consulted frankly, in the first instance, or even kept informed of what was doing. But it seems probable that the whole transaction arose out of a mistake, which may show carelessness, but shows nothing more. At any rate, that defence is put forward, and, in case of doubt, it is only fair we lean to a merciful view, although I may point out that the whole difficulty arose from that curious determination, of which we have seen so many instances, to do everything behind Dr. Hooker's back. But, my Lords, I fear that the list of these complaints is not fully exhausted by what appears in these Papers. I hold in my hand a statement coming from what ought to be the best authority, to the following effect:—That within the last 10 days the First Commissioner has sent to Dr. Hooker Two letters containing vague charges of jobbery and mismanagement; one from a man of no character, the other from a late foreman of Kew, who is subject to hallucinations, and who, after engaging himself to another place, without informing the Director, suddenly left, wholly of his own accord, bringing purely imaginative charges against the Curator. For these the man abjectly apologized, and wrote to the Director expressing his regret, and begging that he might be taken into favour again. This man is known to have been for some time in communication with Mr. Ayrton, who, at the last hour, brings him forward. I should not put before you a statement of this kind if it did not come from a quarter which is to me a guarantee for the personal knowledge of the person making it. It may admit of explanation, I do not prejudge that; but unless or until explained, it certainly points to a continuance of the system of annoyance and persecution—petty persecution if you will, but not on that account less galling—to which for the last two years Dr. Hooker has been subjected. I need trouble your Lordships no further. I have endeavoured, with some difficulty—I hope not at some sacrifice of the interests which I am defending—to make my statement as brief as I could. I looked into the question first without prejudice, my acquaintance with Dr. Hooker is extremely slight, and towards the First Commissioner I have no feeling, except respect for his undoubted energy and ability, and regret that he should so habitually destroy the effect of those abilities by an overweening arrogance, and what seems an habitual disregard of the ordinary courtesies of official life. I cannot but say that his action in this case has been harsh, peremptory, and vexatious to the last degree, and it has not even the poor excuse of being evidence of that zeal for economy so much boasted of in some quarters. Even those who profess contempt for artists and architects, and persons of that kind, may understand so simple an economical proposition as this—that public services are paid for not exclusively in money, and if you make any kind of public work disagreeable and humiliating, you will have fewer capable persons willing to undertake it, and will have to pay more for those whom you employ. It is not every day that you will get men like Dr. Hooker to manage your public gardens, and you will not get them at all if they are to be treated like insubordinate servants who have somehow or another managed to secure higher wages and better places than they are fit for. It may be argued that these matters are small in themselves and that their importance has been unduly exaggerated. I deny that proposition altogether. It is not a small matter to anyone at the head of a Department to take away his subordinates; to refuse the help he does want; to force upon him assistants whom he does not want; to deprive him of control over the necessary appliances of his work, and to listen to the most frivolous and ridiculous charges against him. But even admitting that each of these grievances singly was small, it is their collective and cumulative effect that must be looked to. It is not the thing done, it is the animus shown that you must consider. We have all heard of men being driven out of a regiment or out of a public office by a series of petty vexations, each in itself almost too slight for serious complaint; but in the aggregate, making it evident to the person attacked that the object was to get rid of him. Whether the object has been to get rid of Dr. Hooker and put some one in his place I do not know; but I do know that if that had been intended, no course of conduct could have been more suitable. I said, in considering upon the subject, that Government substantially endorsed the views of the First Commissioner, and, with one exception, that view of the case is not altered by the Minute of the Treasury within five days ago, and published last Saturday. I readily admit that the tone of that document is far more—it could not well be less so—conciliatory than that of the Correspondence which led to it; and it is not an unfair inference, if I express my conviction that that change of tone has been mainly due—adopted as it was at the very last hour—to the expression of public feeling to which I have referred. For the first time in these Papers I find something like a recognition that public gratitude and consideration is due to Dr. Hooker. For the first time an attempt is made to define the position which he is to hold under the Office of Works. For the first time there is an admission that, adverting to the facts contained in the Memorandum of the First Commissioner, they are not surprised that in various cases Dr. Hooker should have thought that he had just cause of complaint. My Lords, why has even that scanty amount of justice been so long delayed? Has not the most serious part of the case been for months before the Treasury; and has not an unusual space elapsed between the time that the Papers were moved for and the time they were laid on the Table? And is it not perfectly clear that this Minute, written in the immediate expectation of Parliamentary discussion, is only an attempt to smooth matters over—a very little for Dr. Hooker, and a great deal for the public? But is it a reparation? Not in one instance does the Minute admit that Dr. Hooker has had a cause of complaint, only that the writers are not surprised that he should have thought so. A very ambiguous phrase. So far from conciliating, it may be taken as exactly the reverse. It is open to be read as implying—"We see that you are a touchy, irritable sort of person, always raising grievances, and, being so, it is not surprising you should have made a grievance out of this." ["Hear, hear!"] I hope that is not the meaning. I do not believe it is. But if anything in the way of conciliation was intended, surely one word of regret—such words cost gentlemen little—one assurance that no discourtesy was meant on the part of the Minister whose acts caused the offence, and under whom Dr. Hooker continues, would have answered the purpose. But for any such expression I look in vain. Again, the Minute declares that in future no alterations in existing arrangements in the scientific branch of the department shall be made without the Director's concurrence. Well, that is something; it is a guarantee. But then, if you have virtually admitted, by giving this guarantee, that Dr. Hooker was right in his claim, I think a few words might have been said admitting the justice of his protest—which never has been admitted—against the act of interference about which he originally complained. Again, the Minute says— My Lords do not consider that it would be conducive either to the public advantage or the maintenance of that good and friendly feeling which they are anxious to see prevailing in every public Department, if in closing this correspondence they were to go in detail into the cases where any disagreement has taken place between the First Commissioner and the Director. In their own interest, if they meant to support the First Commissioner, they are undoubtedly wise; but it seems to me rather hard and rather strange that a servant of Government asking redress for an injury is to be told—"We do not know whether you have been ill-used or not, and we shall not care to inquire." A very summary way of disposing of complaints, but more convenient to the tribunals than satisfactory to the applicants. But there is a more substantial grievance left—the Minute does not do what Dr. Hooker asked; it does not replace him in the position in which he stood before these controversies arose. He has hitherto had the sole and, practically, uncontrolled direction of these Gardens, within certain limits of expense. What is proposed now is that he shall have one-half of them left in his hands—the "Department of Botany," as it is called in the Minute; and that the other half shall be taken directly into the hands of the First Commissioner, giving his orders to the Curator through the Director, which is not practically the system which had prevailed up to the time of the present Ministry; and though, of course, the power rests with the Executive in such matters, yet I think it very doubtful whether you will retain the services of Dr. Hooker on those terms. The redress you give him is this—that having taken all power out of his hands, you now, with various complimentary phrases, give him back half. One word more. I may be asked why, if I feel so strongly on this matter, I do not take the decision of the House upon it? That is the course which I should have preferred, but for two reasons—one, the time of year, never favourable in this House to Motions of this kind; the other, that I understand the matter is on the point of being discussed in the branch of the Legislature which has financial control over the Board of Works. If the action of the Government is there condemned, our vote is superfluous; if otherwise, there is always a disadvantage in opposite views being taken of the same subject by the two Houses. My wish in the matter is merely that justice may be done. I have endeavoured to call the attention of the House and of the country to proceedings which I think it would be discreditable to Parliament not to notice, and I shall heartily rejoice if by any interpretation that can be put upon them those proceedings can be made to bear a less painful character than that in which they appear to me.


said, he regretted that such a discussion as that should have arisen in their Lordships' House, and he further regretted that he must address himself to the subject without the ability, weight, or Parliamentary experience of the noble Earl who had just spoken. Their Lordships were, no doubt, aware that, though in their Lordships' House he had for some time been accustomed to answer Questions with reference to the business of the office of the First Commissioner, he had nothing to do with the administration of the Department. He would ask their Lordships to consider, in the first place, the comparative positions of the two parties to this dispute. On the one hand there was a Gentleman who, by a long course of energetic action in political life, had evoked no small amount of party antagonism; on the other was a gentleman who had led a life devoted to science, and who found none but friends to view his proceedings. The name of Mr. Ayrton was as a red flag to some politicians. The noble Earl had read to their Lordships the names of the memorialists in favour of Dr. Hooker. Prom such men even blame itself might be regarded as a distinction, but he could not help noticing an omission in the list of memorialists. He observed that the distinguished name of Professor Owen was not among them. He must ask their Lordships now, justly and impartially, to consider the less popular side, and he need not say that in treating the matter he felt a very great difficulty lest he should wound the feelings of a gentleman whose nature was as sensitively delicate as that of any of the plants under his care. But first he wished to allude to a statement not referred to in the Papers which had been produced on the subject—namely, that two important letters which had been received at the Office of Works had been forwarded to the Director. He wished to say that these letters came to the Office officially, and, like other letters, they were forwarded to the Director of Kew Gardens. There was no reason why an exception should be made in respect of those letters. But the fact was, that once an unfortunate misunderstanding had arisen, things which otherwise would be taken in the natural course of business assumed a new and extraordinary appearance. The Department of Botany, as stated in the Memorandum of the First Commissioner, was under the immediate direction and control of the Director of Kew Gardens, assisted by a special staff of officers. It comprised the Botanic Museum and Library, the collection and interchange of botanical specimens, whether for the Herbarium or for cultivation, and all other matters pertaining to the pursuit of botanical science. The Department of Horticulture was under the immediate direction of the Curator, subject to the orders and control of the Director as the responsible head. The Curator carried on the cultivation of the Gardens, with a large staff of gardeners and workmen. Dr. Hooker, having for some years held the office of Assistant Director, was appointed Director in 1865, by a letter from the First Commissioner, enjoining him to give his whole time to the business of the office, and to observe strictly such orders as he might receive from the First Commissioner. The noble Earl had stated that Dr. Hooker had received various slights during the administration of the present First Commissioner of Works. But it would be his business now to show that it was necessary that proper supervision should be exercised over the management of those Gardens. In page 74 of the Correspondence, Sir Benjamin Hall, then First Commissioner, writing to Sir William Hooker, father of Dr. Hooker, on the 5th of October, 1856, said— I think it necessary again to call your attention to the present state of the Gardens at Kew, which I do not consider at all satisfactory. Soon after I became First Commissioner I visited the Gardens and pointed out to you the very bad condition of the walks, the coarse appearance of the grass, and the very insufficient supply of flowers for the beds. Hardly any preparation had been made for filling the beds this year by providing cuttings; and when I desired to have a few more flower beds, in order that the Gardens might look more gay in the vicinity of the Palm-house, I was told that there were not cuttings enough to plant out, upon which I directed that the new beds should be filled with annuals. In short, there was little, scarcely any, preparation made, and when I was at the Gardens a few days ago I was informed that very little had been done in the way of making provision for next summer. I also saw that the walks were in a very bad state; the day was wet, and I was thus better able to judge of their condition than if it had been fine, for I could see the hollows in which the water stood most clearly. You agreed with me in the observations made, and you quite acquiesced in the opinion I expressed, that the condition of the Gardens was not at all what it ought to be…. The funds provided by Parliament are enormous, and ample for the purpose; and when I compare the state and general appearance of the Botanic Gardens at Edinburgh, and compare them with those at Kew, and look at the miserable sum of £1,000 which is expended on the Edinburgh Gardens, which sum covers all salaries and expenses of every kind, I am sorry to say that the deductions to be drawn are by no means in favour of Kew; instead of your having a very insufficient supply of flowers to plant out in the Gardens of Kew, those Gardens should afford ample supply for other places, and it is very probable that I shall require geraniums and other half-hardy plants to put out in some of the clumps in St. James's Park and Kensington Gardens next year; I must, therefore, request that you will have ample provision. I wish also that the walks may be put in better order, and the grass kept in a better state, and that you should plant a large number of laburnams, lilacs, and other flowering shrubs in those parts of the Gardens and pleasure grounds where they can be placed with advantage. Then, again, in Letter 53, dated June 19, 1867, Lord John Manners appointed Dr. Percy and Mr. William Ingram on a Committee of Inquiry into "the present system of Heating the Houses," and in Letter 49, Mr. Starie, Mr. Smith, Mr. Ormson, and Mr. Weeks were appointed to look over the horticultural works, and to advise as to "the best means of remedying defects" and "economizing of fuel." He had endeavoured by these short references to show that the First Commissioner has always exercised a certain legal power over the Director of Kew Gardens. In addition to that, Professor Owen had also complained that Kew had done little in the way of producing new fruits and flowers; whereas it was well known that our choicest cultivated plants had once been weeds. He came now to another point. A complaint had been made about a visit of the First Commissioner to Kew Gardens on a Sunday in December, 1870. But the object of the visit was to ascertain personally whether Mr. Smith was able to fill an independent and separate position as Surveyor of one of the parks in London. The noble Earl had also alluded to the fact that the same person was summoned up to take charge of some works in Hyde Park. There was no doubt of the fact being true. The Superintendent of Hyde Park was ill; there was pressing work to be done there, and naturally the First Commissioner obtained the services of Mr. Smith; but as soon as Dr. Hooker stated that his services could not be dispensed with at Kew, he was sent back to the Gardens. He regretted that he was only able to bring the facts of the case so imperfectly before their Lordships; but he must say that in common fairness Mr. Ayrton ought to be judged, not by the imperfect reports of conversations that had taken place months before, but by the official records in the Office. He might also say that the Office of Works was fully as anxious as the noble Earl opposite or the public could be to retain the services of Dr. Hooker as Director of Kew. It must be clear to all, that under the arrangements now sanctioned his position would be no worse than the one he formerly held under previous First Commissioners of Works. He regretted that Dr. Hooker had allowed the particulars of this unfortunate dispute to be communicated to the public Press, for such a course was not well calculated to uphold the discipline of the Department, nor was it an example that it was desirable to establish in the public service.


said, he had seen with much regret many of the articles which had appeared in the public Press on the subject, as they had a tendency to create a feeling which it was most desirable to avoid. He also regretted that they had appeared before Mr. Ayrton had had the opportunity of explaining his conduct, and would appeal to their Lordships, whether the facts of the case did not assume a very different footing now that all the particulars were published? Moreover, it was, in his opinion, of the greatest importance that harmony should prevail between the First Commissioner of Works and the Director of Kew Gardens. He must say, however, that he thought Dr. Hooker was rather apt to take offence, where none was intended; and that that was evident, from the fact that, as shown on the learned Doctor complaining of the proposed form of estimate to be applied to the expenditure at Kew, Mr. Ayrton immediately assented to its modification. As to the projected employment of Mr. Smith, there was no necessity to communicate with Dr. Hooker, because the plan which was at one time in contemplation was not adopted, and therefore there was an end of the matter. It was no doubt to be regretted that the matter was not mentioned to Dr. Hooker before Mr. Smith was summoned to London to assist in Hyde Park; but as soon as Dr. Hooker remonstrated, Mr. Smith was sent back to the Gardens. No doubt, it was also proposed that the construction of the heating houses should be entrusted to Mr. Ferguson, but it was not intended to take the control from Dr. Hooker. All that was said was, that whatever was done in respect to these buildings was to be done under the Director of Works, Dr. Hooker being, of course, consulted. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) had certainly not been just to the Treasury in respect to the course they had adopted in this matter. While that Department had insisted that the First Commissioner must be supreme, as the Minister responsible to Parliament for the expenditure of the money voted, they had nevertheless dwelt emphatically upon the scientific eminence of Dr. Hooker and the peculiarity of the position he occupied, and had said that his recommendation should be treated with the greatest respect, and should never be overruled without strong reason.


remarked that all these expressions of civility on the part of the Treasury dated from a time when a good deal of feeling had been expressed out-of-doors with regard to Dr. Hooker's case.


said, however that might be, he thought that the scientific part of Kew Gardens, of which Dr. Hooker was the head, formed a very small part of the establishment of Kew Gardens. The greater portion was capable of being managed by a very good gardener, and the care of young trees, the laying out of flower beds, and the preservation of walks did not require any great amount of science. The Treasury Minute of July 24, indeed, seemed to put the whole matter on a proper footing. It 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. The 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 all matters connected with this department of the establishment, whether as regards the hot-houses, buildings, or the cultivation of shrubs and plants for botanical purposes, the opinion of Dr. Hooker should be followed, subject only to the consideration of expense. It is for him to represent to the First Commissioner what he considers necessary for the advancement of botanical science, and it is then for the First Commissioner and the Treasury to determine whether the expense necessary for the purpose shall be incurred. No alterations in existing arrangements in the scientific branch of the Department should be made without the Director's concurrence. The actual execution of the works to be undertaken must be under the direction of the proper officer of the Office of Works, but the opinion of the Director of the Gardens should be taken as to the efficiency of what it is proposed to do, and any requisition of his for work or repairs necessary for the preservation of the valuable plants in the houses should on all occasions receive prompt attention. With regard to those parts of the grounds which are not used for the purpose of botanical science, but as nursery grounds or pleasure grounds, it will be the office of the First Commissioner to give such directions as he may think advisable. My Lords, however, think it desirable that even on these points he should communicate with the Director of the Gardens, through whom, as head of the establishment, all orders to the Curator and to other subordinate officers should, in regular course be conveyed. My Lords gather from the Memorandum of the First Commissioner that, speaking generally, the business connected with Kew Gardens has been conducted in accordance with the views thus entertained by their Lordships. My Lords do not consider that it would be conducive either to the public advantage or to the maintenance of that good and friendly feeling which they are anxious to see prevailing in every public department, if, in closing this correspondence, they were to go in detail into the cases where any disagreement has taken place between the First Commissioner and the Director. But adverting to the facts contained in the Memorandum of the First Commissioner, they 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. My Lords see no reason why under these conditions there should be any serious difficulty in discharging the respective duties of the First Commissioner and of the Director of the Gardens in a manner satisfactory to both, whoever may be the occupants of those offices, maintaining the proper authority of the First Commissioner, with due regard to the position and character of the Director of the Gardens. The supremacy of Dr. Hooker being thus thoroughly maintained, he most earnestly trusted that the harmony which should exist between the First Commissioner and the Director of Kew Gardens would be perfectly restored, and that Dr. Hooker would feel himself free to continue the devotion of his great acquirements in botanical science to the service of his country and to the preservation of the very valuable collection of plants at those Gardens. Meanwhile, it was well that nothing should be said tending to aggravate any angry feeling on either side.


said, he ventured to think that the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) would not meet with much gratitude from the country for having added this Blue Book to the too large number which already existed, nor from their Lordships individually, for having imposed on them the burden of such tedious reading. He (Lord Stanley of Alderley) disagreed entirely from those who accused Mr. Ayrton of making himself unpopular. From the nature of things, it was not the man, but the office that was unpopular. The Board of Works had to supervise and curtail the expenditure of public money; and if such supervision was carried out with fidelity to the public interests, it must be unpopular among those who were supervised. As an instance, the person who held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer and the strings of the public purse at the same time was similarly situated and was similarly unpopular. Now, Mr. Lowe was a most agreeable man in private life; but he must say from experience that few persons would desire to see Mr. Lowe on public business twice if they could avoid it. It would be in their Lordships' recollection that the outcry of a portion of the Press against Mr. Ayrton began with his struggle with the architect of the Houses of Parliament. Mr. Ayrton succeeded in emancipating the Parliament Houses from the lien established upon them by the architect, under the rules of the Architects' Trade Union, and thereby saved a large portion of the public money. His good services on that occasion were recognized and applauded by the leading journal, which went so far in speaking of the architect as to use the term "artistic morality," which was hard upon the artists, who had not deserved this, although it fully applied to the architect in question and to others. He did not think that anything in the Blue Book justified an attack upon an excellent public servant, especially in their Lordships' House, where he not only was not present himself, but also where his Department was not represented; for the noble Duke, who had spoken on behalf of the Government (the Duke of St. Albans), had no connection with the Board of Works, and no departmental knowledge of the subject. The necessity for the noble Earl's Motion, however, had been created by the memorial signed by 11 men of science and addressed to the Prime Minister. He did not attach any weight whatever to some of the signatures of that memorial, among other reasons because it had been called forth not by sympathy for Dr. Hooker, nor by ill-will to Mr. Ayrton, but by the fact that Professor Owen, of the British Museum, had expressed the views contained in Appendix No. 3 of the Blue Book—that he had severely critized Dr. Hooker and the Kew Herbarium, and had expressed the desire for its removal to a central botanical museum in London. Professor Owen's name alone was sufficient to array against the Board of Works, which favoured these views, the hostility of some of the leading men who had called for the emancipation of Dr. Hooker from all official control; but, besides the scientific hostility to Professor Owen, there existed among some of the partizans of Dr. Hooker hostility to Professor Owen on other grounds, for the discussion of which their Lordships' House was not a very fitting place. Dr. Hooker applied to Lord Clarendon to be sent to a Botanical Congress at St. Petersburgh as Royal Commissioner. Dr. Hooker was informed that Lord Clarendon, after communicating with the Treasury, had declined to send him to St. Petersburgh. He would ask leave to read his reply to Mr. Layard, then First Commissioner of the Board of Works, in which Dr. Hooker took Her Majesty's Government to task with an amenity of language which showed that he was not a good judge of style— I much regret this action of the Treasury, as contrasting so unfavourably with the liberal action of the Imperial Government of Russia, which sent Commissioners both to our Botanical and Horticultural Congress of 1867, and to our industrial exhibitions, and with the action of the foreign governments, who are now sending Commissioners to St. Petersburgh. I cannot, further, refrain from expressing my conviction that the refusal on the part of Her Majesty's Government to recognise both the scientific and practical importance of the Congress about to assemble under the Imperial auspices at St. Petersburgh,…will be regarded as evidence of something more than mere indifference to the position which science holds in this country, or mere ignorance of that attained by the eminent men who convene the Congress, and who will assemble at it, or mere disregard of international courtesy in scientific matters. That Mr. Ayrton could not justly be accused of disregarding the claims of science or of scientific men might be proved by a passage of a letter of his to Lord Granville, dated January, 1866, and laid before the House of Commons, in which he said, speaking of the reorganization of the Metropolitan Public Schools— Natural science should also be made a basis for the education of the faculties of perception, discrimination, reason, and judgment. It is easy to guard against the degenerating of such an education into the mere acquisition of information if the beginning be made with inorganic chemistry and the laws of physics, to be taught with precision, and the course ascend to the rigid investigation of physical phenomena and problems.

Correspondence between the Board of Works, the Treasury, and Dr. Hooker.—Parl. Paper. (L. 213.)