No. 183
2 July 1859
I have duly received your Despatch of the 12th April last No 50, in reply to my proposal to purchase or build a Steam Vessel intended for the transport of Troops and Government Stores in Fraser's River, and as a means of restraining the refractory, and of enforcingManuscript imageenforcing law and order among the population of the Mining Districts.
2. I observe that Her Majesty's Government, without doubting the judiciousness of the plan for local interests, decline giving it their countenance or support. I rejoice, therefore, that circumstances subsequent to the date of my Despatch induced me to defer the execution of the project until I received your reply. I will now abandon it altogether, or until such time as the Colony may be in a condition to defray the cost from her own resources.
YouManuscript image3. You again call my attention to the circumstance of the liability to the Mother Country which the infant Colony of British Columbia has incurred in the earliest step taken by the Home Government for her establishment and protection. Her Majesty's Government may rest assured that when the Colony can do so, the obligation will be faithfully repaid. She can only attain to that condition when her resources are more fully developed, and it is undeniable that her development has been retarded, and my hands have been tied through the want of funds to undertake and carry out important andManuscript imageand indispensable public works. The assistance of a Parliamentary Grant would have enabled me months ago to have adopted such measures as to settle and retain a large population in the Country, and to hold out inducements to British Subjects to flock to this desirable land. Upon the first intimation of the discoveries of gold, thousands poured into the country and spread abroad throughout its length and breadth, without a thought, and apparently without a care, as to how a land hitherto wild and uninhabited, except by the native Indian, was to provide them withManuscript imagewith the means of subsistence. Gold was found, and in quantities beyond the usual yield in the neighbouring and older gold Districts of California. So long as his scanty stock of Provisions lasted the adventurous Miner was content, but when the winter approached and the rugged mountain passes no longer afforded the means for introducing further supplies, he was exposed to privation and hardships of no ordinary description. Numerous were the departures from the Country in consequence, and those leaving did not fail to exaggerate their ills, and to spread abroad the reports most unfavourable to the Country. This mightManuscript imagemight naturally have been expected to some extent under any circumstances or condition of the Country, for the wildest notions being entertained of the facilities which existed for acquiring instant wealth, disgust and ill feeling soon followed the non-realization of extravagant expectations; but had the means been at my Command much might have been avoided. I used the most strenuous efforts to facilitate the introduction of supplies, but my resources were limited, and I could only partially open one route, although Fifteen Thousand pounds from the Revenues of the Colony were expended in the object. TheManuscript imageThe difficulties to be overcome in opening out the Country of British Columbia, are of no ordinary character, and the expense attending all works of labor is enormous, but I do not despair of the benefits resulting in time repaying the outlay. In another Despatch of this date I have mentioned that the Colony can and will support in a befitting manner all her Civil Staff—large as that Staff is—in consequence of the extensive nature of the Country, and the scattered condition of the inhabitants, but the cost of the Military Establishment is a charge that she cannot at present find the means to meet, forManuscript imagefor it alone would more than absorb the entire Revenue of the Colony, and therefore for the present, we must earnestly hope that the Mother Country will be kind and generous, and will not refuse her aid to this her youngest but not least valuable Colony; for the day will, undoubtedly, come, and may not be far distant, when the possessions of Great Britain in this part of the world will exercise no insignificant or unimportant influence on the fast spreading interestsManuscript imageinterests in the Pacific Ocean of other great Nations.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
See 8576, as regards the inability of the Colony to defray the cost of its Military Establishments.
Acknowledge with that despatch.
HT Irving 29 Augt
HM Augt 30
N 2-9