4 May 1860
My Lord Duke,
With reference to my Despatch of this date No 44 forwarding a Copy of a letter from Mr Cooper appealing against instructions I had issued to him to proceed without delay to take up his residence in New Westminster, or to resign his appointment under the Government of British Columbia, such being the conditions laid down Manuscript image down in your Confidential Despatch of the 5th September 1859, to which I am referred by Your Grace in your Despatch No 1 of the 2nd January last. I would desire to state to Your Grace more fully than would be convenient in a public Despatch the particular reasons which induced me to listen to Mr Cooper's appeal and to permit him to remain at Esquimalt until I could receive express instructions from Your Grace.
2. In Sir Edward Lytton's Despatch of the 2nd September 1858 No 15 acquainting me of the circumstances under which he had selected Mr Cooper for the situation of Harbour Master at Esquimalt Vancouver's Island, for Manuscript image for services in connection with British Columbia, I am instructed that if I find his "services at Esquimalt" can be better combined with some other Office attached to "that Colony" (British Columbia), I am to alter the "title" of his appointment.
3. It is thus clear that at the period of Mr Cooper's appointment to Office in British Columbia it was arranged that he should reside at Esquimalt, Vancouver's Island. There was no doubt whatever in my mind upon the subject, but if there had been it would have been removed by the receipt of a Confidential Despatch from Sir Edward Lytton dated the 24th March 1859 in which my attention is again called to the circumstances connected with Mr Cooper's appointment, and I am informed that the faith of Her Majesty's Government " is Manuscript image is pledged" to his appointment to an office of the value of Four Hundred pounds per annum; and that any "delay or obstruction" to his appointment would be regarded as owing to the "hostility he may have provoked from the Hudson's Bay Company, and would lead to difficulties and inquiries therein which it might be desirable to avoid."
4. In the Confidential Despatch of Your Grace of the 5th September, 1859, no mention is made of Mr Cooper, and I considered that the omission had been intentional when viewed in connection with the facts above stated. Your Grace's Despatch of the 2nd January last merely refers me to the Despatch of the 5th September, but I understand it as Manuscript image as instructing me to apply the rule therein laid down to Mr Cooper, & I did not hesitate to do so, but when he appealed to the circumstances of his appointment, I felt I should hardly be justified in enforcing the rule except under as specific instructions as those requiring me to employ Mr Cooper at Esquimalt.
5. I trust this explanation will be satisfactory to Your Grace, and I feel sure you will appreciate the delicate position in which I am placed.
6. I should however be wanting both in my duty to Your Grace and to myself did I not clearly put before you upon this occasion the precise facts of the case in connection with Mr Cooper's appointment Manuscript image appointment. His appointment so far as regards the Colony of British Columbia is a complete sinecure. He does not perform and cannot perform any duties at Esquimalt on behalf of British Columbia, and there is no office there whatever in which I could employ him by which I could make his services available to British Columbia. His education and training only fit him for the office of Harbour Master, and, I believe, for that office he is fully competent. Upon two particular occasions where I have urgently required the services of such a functionary in British Columbia I have not hesitated to call upon Mr Cooper to proceed thither to perform the necessary duty. He has readily carried out my instructions, but Manuscript image but being absent from the Residence fixed by his appointment, has increased the expenses attendant on the Services by charge for the usual personal allowance granted to Officers when absent on duty from fixed residence, in addition to the expenses for his passage backwards and forwards, both of which charges would probably have been saved had he resided at New Westminster: and again recently when I employed him in replacing some of the Buoys at the entrance of Fraser River he was compelled to employ the professional services of a Pilot to assist him, thereby materially increasing the expense, he having no local knowledge of the Pilotage, which he most undoubtedly would have had or should have had, had he been resident Manuscript image resident at New Westminster.
7. At the present moment I really do not think the services of a Harbour Master are required at New Westminster, although I have no doubt that before many months pass such a functionary will be necessary, for the City is making rapid strides and vessels are commencing to carry goods there direct. The appointment however having been made I see no good reason why Mr Cooper should not at once undertake the duties, if the former arrangement as to his residence at Esquimalt, be under the altered state of affairs, rescinded by Your Grace.
8. Before concluding I deem it right further to inform Your Grace that Manuscript image that Mr Cooper has obtained a seat in the Legislative Assembly of Vancouver's Island; that he has allied himself with the clique who abuse and villify the Government, and every officer connected with the Government, through the Columns of a newspaper which is published at Victoria, called the "British Colonist" and is edited by an individual whose real name is William Alexander Smith, but who styles himself Amor de Cosmos, and for which newspaper Mr Cooper is actually one of the Sureties; and that he persisently opposes every measure originated by the Government—apparently so only for the reason that it is a Government Manuscript image Government measure—so that in point of fact Mr Cooper residing in Vancouver's Island, and being paid Four Hundred pounds a year from the Colony of British Columbia for doing nothing for that Colony, has ample leisure on his hands to devote himself almost entirely to the work of creating dissension between the Government and the people of Vancouver's Island.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
See 6338/60.
Mr Cooper's political conduct, & his connection with a newspaper render his claim to further indulgence more, I think, than questionable.
ABd 28/6
See 6338.
TFE 7 July