No. 26
13 May 1862
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch of the 27th February last No 104, acquainting me that it is not possible for your Grace to comply with my solicitation for a continuance during the year 1862-63 of the provision from Imperial Funds necessary for the maintenanceofManuscript image of the Detachment of Royal Engineers serving in British Columbia, but that on the contrary, one moiety of the cost, viz. £11,000, must be defrayed from Colonial Funds, and calling my attention to the belief existing in the Financial Departments of the Government, that I have drawn upon Her Majesty's Government in excess of the sums voted by Parliament for the service of the Colony.
2. The circumstance of so large a sum as £11,000 of the ColonialRevenueManuscript image Revenue being diverted from the pressing object of opening the communications of the country towards the maintenance of the Royal Engineers, is so intimately connected with the present critical state of the Colony, that it is fully discussed in another despatch No 25 of this date, and it is therefore unnecessary for me to enter into any repetition here, further than to observe, that although your Grace's instructions shall be implicitly followed, it is my positive duty plainly to represent to your Grace the sacrifice of Colonial andManuscript image necessarily of Imperial interests that such a course must involve, unless immediate measures be instituted for the adoption of some expedient whereby the works I have set on foot, as fully detailed in my despatch of 15th April last, Separate, may be vigorously prosecuted, works that are no less essential to the advancement and prosperity of the Colony than to its peace, order, and good Government, works that cannot be delayed, not alone on account of the sacrifice of interests which would be involvedbutManuscript image but also on account of the consequences which would follow their abandonment, consequences inevitable from the congregation of starving multitudes attributing their distresses not to their own precipitancy and improvidence, but to the inaction and indifference of the Government.
3. I have in previous despatches attempted so fully to place before Your Grace the exact condition of the Country. I have reported at such length all the information of importance in connection withtheManuscript image the extraordinary discoveries of gold in the Carribou District; I have represented to your Grace the consequent certainty of an immense influx in the spring, of a population not altogether the most desirable, drawn as it principally would be from the dissatisfied of California, and of the vital necessity which exists for pouring food into the Country in adequate quantities, and at lessened prices, that I feel loth to trespass upon your Grace's timebyManuscript image by any recapitulation of these matters, and will only here state that the rush of people to the mines has commenced, that altho' the season has not yet opened, such impatience is manifested, such improvidence is exhibited, that provisions destined for the Upper country are actually consumed on the road before one third of the journey has been accomplished, and that the stream of immigration is by latest reports actually in advance of the means of subsistence. Your Grace cannot I am certainbutManuscript image but feel for me in the harassing and perplexing position in which I now find myself placed, impelled to action and action of a vigorous and indispensable character, crippled in resources and involved in a heavy liability. To abandon that action, to break the faith of my Government, and to leave the solution of difficulties to the category of chances, would be a course which is almost forced upon me; but forseeing as I do the disaster and ruin that would follow, it is a course which IdareManuscript image dare not take, a course which Her Majesty's Government could not approve when its fruits became developed, and however much I may have failed in placing before Her Majesty's Government in a sufficiently clear light the circumstances and condition of the country, the results of any stoppage in the work of opening roads to the Carribou District are to me so apparent and so appalling that I am satisfied Her Majesty's Government would consider me unworthy the sacred trust I hold, did I for one momentstayManuscript image stay my hand with the conviction upon me of thereby bringing such results on the Country.
4. Although the sum of £11,000 is but about an eighth part of the expenditure demanded by the Works in question, yet your Grace can readily understand what a serious matter it will be to part even with that eighth, and that if it be parted with, other means must be instituted to replace it. If Her Majesty's Government will not grant thismoneyManuscript image money for this one year longer, I earnestly trust on behalf of the Colony and the serious interests at stake, that Your Grace will be pleased to obtain an arrangement whereby the Lords of the Treasury will advance the sum as a loan, and I will make provision in the Colonial Estimates for the ensuing year for the repayment of such loan together with any interest that their Lordships may think fit to settle.
5. With respect to your Grace's observations as to my overdrawinguponManuscript image upon the Imperial Treasury and more especially with regard to the remarks contained in the Postscript of your Grace's despatch, I am utterly at a loss to comprehend the position of affairs therein represented, and I can in no way reconcile it from any data I can obtain here. I have been under the firm impression all along that my Drafts upon the Imperial Treasury were strictly confined to the sums voted by Parliament. The only point upon which I had any doubt was thechargeManuscript image charge of the £6900 sent out in coin, and this doubt was created in my mind from the fact of noticing in the Printed Estimates for the year ending 31st March 1862 Page 4, that on the 31st December 1860 there was a Balance in the Exchequer of £10,000 in favor of British Columbia on the vote 1860-61, while the £6900 of coin was shipped from the Treasury in October 1860.
This Balance has nothing to do with the matter. It is the fleeting balance of the [moment when?] the Estimates are prepared.
6. I am not in possession of all the data necessary to form a precise account, but I have collated such as I can collect and roughly arrive at thefollowingManuscript image following result:
Voted by Parliament for service
of British Columbia 1859-60..............£42,998
Voted by Parliament for service
of British Columbia 1860-61.............. 30,000
Voted by Parliament for service
of British Columbia 1861-62.............. 17,800
Total..... £90,798
Amount drawn by Bills during 1859..........£39,320
Amount drawn by Bills during 1860......... 20,706
Amount drawn by Bills during 1861......... 9,000
Governors Salary........................... 5,400
Paid in England for stores &c
for Royal Engineers, say................ 12,000
Colonel Moody salary as Chief Commissioner
of Lands and Works............. 3,600
Total..... £90,026
Silver coin sent out.......................... 6,900
Balance against the Colony on 31st March 1862...... 6,128
Manuscript image
How the balance against the Colony as appearing from the Treasury Returns should be £20,000 in excess of this sum I am quite at a loss to explain.
7. In conclusion I deem it right again to repeat, that the application of Imperial Funds within the Colony has been strictly confined to the expenditure of the Royal Engineers, an expenditure which having been arranged by Her Majesty's Government with the Colonel Commanding and mainly left to hisdiscretionManuscript image discretion, is almost entirely beyond my control. I will bring this subject again before your Grace in a subsequent despatch, when I have obtained from Colonel Moody certain items of information and certain Returns for which I have called.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's most obedient
humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
I had not perused this desph when I wrote my minute on 6357. The contents of this desph add force to the opinion I have already expressed.
ABd 30 June
See Minute annexed.
TFE 7 July
Manuscript image
In 6357 the Governor regrets that the form of his Estimates does not give satisfaction. He encloses a statement about Works costing £7500 and asks what more is wanted. Nothing more, but the total of his public Works was £31,000. When the Secretary of State pointed out to him that he had given insufficient particulars of a proposed expenditure of £31,000, it is no answer to show that he has given proper details of an expenditure of £7500. I should tell him that he ought to set forth in like manner the names of any proposed roads and the amounts allotted to them.
In 6357 he also dwells on the extreme importance to the people who are seeking their fortunes in British Columbia that various objects should be cared for, and that they should not be put in any danger of wanting food. This is very likely: it is very important to them, but the question is why are they not to pay for their own needs? If a number of adventurous spirits, a large proportion of them consisting of Yankee Immigrants from California, rush to Gold FieldsinManuscript image in the eager desire to amass fortunes, is that a reason why the starving cotton spinners in Lancashire should be taxed in order to ensure these spirited young men against the inconvenience of neglecting to provide themselves with sustenance? If from sheer rapacity for gain, men who are otherwise in no want think proper to rush into extreme risks, at all events they have no right to expect to cast the burthen of taking care of them upon the more industrious and patient inhabitants of a thickly peopled and heavily taxed Community on the other side of the Globe. The Governor does, in my opinion, make out a good case for a loan, but this has now been sanctioned.
Both in 6357 and 6358, Governor Douglas pleads for more time before the British aid towards Engineers is reduced. But the Parliamentary Estimates have now been passed and the question is settled. In that case the Governor hopes (Par. 4) that the Treasury will advance the money as a loan, and he promises to provide in the next year's Colonial Estimates for repayment of the amount, with interest if required. I suppose hemustManuscript image must mean that if prior to answers to these despatches, he continues to draw his Bills as if the charge of £11,000 had not been transferred to the Colony, he hopes that the Treasury will pay them and let him repay next year. I confess that I should see no serious objection to that course, the notice to him has been rather short, and there is no reason to doubt that the Colony could liquidate in the following year an overdraft to this extent, if it should not be otherwise too heavily in debt to the Treasury.
The most startling thing in 6358 is the Governor's Account in Par. 6. He makes out that from 1859 to 31st March 1862, the Balance against the Colony, even including the silver coin to the value of £6900, amounts to only £6128. If that coin were left out of account, he would positively have drawn less for the Engineers than he was entitled to draw by the Estimates.
The manner in which he has contrived to produce this result shows a considerable want either of intelligence or of correctness in the treatment of account. His two first entries are as follows: Voted in 1859... £42,998
Voted in 1860... £30,000 HeManuscript image He quietly ignores the fact that the first sum comprised two items, amounting to £27,098, which he was expressly told in a despatch at the time were required to defray expenditure incurred in this Country. Again the second vote of £30,000 comprized £16,000 required to repay overdrafts made by him in 1859. The money was indeed voted by Parliament, but after, and not before, he had spent it; it was voted in order to cover his irregularity. Still it must be admitted that this item, having been granted, is an asset to place against the total amount of the drafts, but of the other sum of £27,098 this cannot be said. It is money wanted in England, voted for England, and which he was distinctly warned that he could not spend in British Columbia.
I should send the two despatches to the Treasury. I should say that the Governor asks to be relieved at least for this year, from the charge of £11,000 for the Royal Engineers, but that as the Parliamentary Estimate has already been voted the subject must be considered as settled. The Governor expresses a hope that in that casetheirManuscript image their Lordships would assist him through the difficulties of the present year by not refusing his Bills to the extent of this amount of £11,000, on his positively undertaking to repay the same next year with interest if required. This I should say would be matter for their Lordships' consideration in case it should be found that the Governor, pressed by the embarrassment of his position, should send home drafts beyond the authorised amount.
I should then briefly show the Treasury that we did not overlook the fallacy which I have above pointed out in the statement of Account at the end of despatch No 26.
When the time comes for answering the Governor, it will be necessary to dispel the absurd illusion under which, at the end of Par. 5, he speaks of the fleeting Balance mentioned at the head of the Parliamentary Estimates as if it showed a really available credit to that amount in favor of the Colony.
TFE 7 July
I agree.
CF 8
If the Govr was distinctly warned of the purpose for which the sums of £11,000 and £27,098 were votedManuscript image it is difficult to reconcile the statements of this despatch with perfect candour towards this Office.
Write to Treasury as proposed.
N 8
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 13 May 1862, CO 60:13, no. 6358, 219. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)