12 October 1863
I have the honor to transmit herewith a letter, with its enclosures, addressed to Your Grace by Messrs Cormack and Holbrook, of New Westminster, and placed in my hands unsealed to be forwarded in the regular manner according to the Rules of Her Majesty's Colonial Service.
2. I regret that Your Grace's attention should be taken upsoManuscript image so unprofitably, as by a perusal even of the accompanying documents, and also that my time should be diverted from matters of real importance now pressing upon me to report upon the conceptions of the gentlemen in question. Nevertheless the matter is not uninstructive as being a fair illustration of the species of misrepresentation that has obtained in respect of these Colonies, and as shewing how a few men, with an unscrupulous newspaper at their command, upon statement wholly ex parte, form their conclusions, and disseminate those conclusions not as theories of their own, but as well substantiated facts.
3. The gist of the complaint of these Gentlemen, as I understand it, is that this Government didnotManuscript image not publish verbatim et literatim an Essay upon the Colony of British Columbia, which they in their capacity of two members of the Board appointed for adjudication, had pronounced to be the best of the Essays submitted, and entitled to the reward offered by the Government to induce the production of such Essays. And these gentlemen further assume that not only has the Government not published the original Essay, but that it has been greatly altered and a complexion given to it wholly at variance with the sentiments of its Author.
4. I will endeavour as shortly as possibly to report upon this complaint.
5. This Government being desirous of obtaining and diffusing informationrespectingManuscript image respecting the capabilities, and resources of British Columbia, offered a premium of Fifty pounds sterling to any person who should produce an Essay that would best meet that object. A Board of three persons wholly unconnected with the Government were appointed to decide which Essay sent in merited the award. This Board consisted of the undermentioned persons:
The Revd Henry P. Wright, M.A., Archdeacon of Columbia
Mr Henry Holbrook Residents of
Mr W.E. Cormack New Westminster
Two Essays were submitted to them, one written by the Revd R.L. Brown a Clergyman of the Church of England resident at Lilloett in British Columbia, the other written by Mr A.C. Anderson, formerly of the Hudsons Bay Company'sserviceManuscript image service, and a resident of Vancouver's Island. The Board decided that Mr Brown's Essay was the better of the two, and that it was entitled to the Fifty pounds premium. The manuscript Essays were then returned to the Government. Both the Essays appeared to be valuable works written with much care, and containing a mass of statistical information highly useful to the intending Emigrant, but both otherwise appeared too diffuse and bulky to be sought by the intending Emigrant, and more calculated for the general reader who had no other object in view than seeking information and amusement. As Mr Brown's Essay was considered by the Board the better of the two, and as he had begged, if it were to be published that he should have the revisal of itpreviousManuscript image previous to publication, he was advised of the particular object the Government had in view in calling for the Essays, and was asked to undertake the condensation of his Essay to meet more closely the end intended. He readily assented, and the Manuscript of the original Essay was forwarded to him in precisely the same condition it was received from the Board of Adjudicators. He returned the Essay condensed, and it was sent unopened from the Colonial Secretary's Office to the printing Office at the Camp of the Royal Engineers at New Westminster. Mr Brown from time to time communicated with the Printer, but the Essay did not again come into the office of the Colonial Secretary until it arrived in its printed and complete state: and there is not the shadow of doubtthatManuscript image that the Essay as now printed is precisely word for word as it was written by Mr Brown; and that not one word has been interpolated or one sentiment suggested by any Officer connected with the Government. I annex copy of the correspondence which passed between Mr Brown and the Colonial Secretary, and this of itself I think most completely and satisfactorily overturns the statements of Messrs Cormack and Holbrook. Mr Brown is just now I believe at Carribou, and I doubt not when he returns will declare every word and every sentiment in the printed Essay to be his, and will throw some light upon the attempts which he hints at in his letter of the 27th March were made to induce him to publish his Essay clandestinely.
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6. Messrs Holbrook and Cormack publish in the British Columbian newspaper a paragraph which they assert was in the original Essay, and place it side by side with a paragraph which appears in the published Essay, and they would wish it to be inferred that changes of a similar character have been made throughout the Essay. In a letter addressed to the Editor of one of the Daily papers published in Victoria, the Arch-deacon of Columbia declares that the first time he "ever saw" the extract alleged to be taken from the original Essay "was in a leading Article of the 'British Columbian'". I forward a copy of the Archdeacon's letter here alluded to.
7. In the correspondence forwarded to Your Grace by Messrs Cormack and Holbrook will be found copies of two unofficial notes addressed by ArchdeaconWrightManuscript image Wright to Mr Young the Colonial Secretary, but as a copy of Mr Young's reply has been withheld, I also herewith enclose it. Your Grace will observe that Archdeacon Wright was in possession of it when he forwarded a copy of his second note to Mr Young to Messrs Holbrook and Cormack, and had Mr Young's note been published concurrently with the rest of the correspondence the whole of the charges made so recklessly against the Government by Messrs Cormack and Holbrook would have lost their plausibility and consistency. The Archdeacon himself does not explain why he in forwarding copies of his unofficial notes to Mr Young to Messrs Cormack and Holbrook suppressedMrManuscript image Mr Young's reply.
8. There are many other points upon which I might animadvert, and which would serve to overturn the fabric of complaint which I must say has been very ingeniously raised, but I think I have said enough to satisfy Your Grace of the groundlessness of the allegations preferred by Messrs Holbrook and Cormack, even if the correspondence between the Colonial Secretary and Mr Brown relative to the publication of the essay does not sufficiently elucidate the whole matter.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke
Your Graces most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
See 10840. The Governor has anticipated the instructions about to be sent to him on this case. So far as the statements of the two Members of the Board implied any tampering on the part of the Govt with the original Essay, the express denial of Governor Douglas & the Colonial Secretary must of course be received as conclusive. But this despatch & the letter of the Colonial Secretary on which the Governor so strongly relies, appear to me to leave the main allegation untouched. Did the original Essay contain the passage charging the Government with maladministration? This question the Govr had it in his power to solve by the production of the original, but when applied to by the Board he or the ColonialManuscript image Secretary declined to produce it. If the revised pamphlets contained statements of an opposite tendency to those contained in the original it became, I think, the duty of the Govt by whom the Essay was printed for the use of the Public, to call upon the Author for an explanation?
VJ 18 Decr
I have read and considered these papers (tho' the dispute is rather trifling in some of it's aspects) very carefully; and I am satisfied that Sir J. Douglas is wholly clear of blame, altho' Mr Brown was somewhat indiscrete to introduce the Sentence that has provoked these complaints. I submit a draft, which contains within itself a statement of the facts on which the conclusion is founded.
TFE 29 Dec
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Henry Holbrook and W.E. Cormack to Newcastle, 18 September 1863, stating details of their protest, as per despatch, and forwarding a newspaper clipping contrasting the paragraph in dispute.
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Schedule of appendices to letter as noted above, nine entries.
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Holbrook and Cormack to Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, 4 September 1863, protesting the publication of the pamphlet as containing an essay at variance with the one submitted and judged by the board of judges.
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Holbrook and Cormack to Archdeacon Wright, 5 September 1863, advising of the alteration to the substance of the winning essay and asking for an opinion.
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Wright to Holbrook and Cormack, 7 September 1863, regretting that the essay had been changed as noted by the other two members of the board of judges.
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Holbrook and Cormack to Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, 7 September 1863, asking for a copy of the original essay in order to accurately ascertain the "nature and extent" of the changes.
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Wright to W.A.G. Young, Colonial Secretary, 8 September 1863, declining to participate in the formal request of the other two judges for a copy of the original essay, understanding that Brown had destroyed much of the original in the process of condensation, but agreeing with the impropriety of the changes made to the manuscript.
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Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works to Holbrook and Cormack, 9 September 1863, advising that as the government merely acted as printers, and were not empowered to forward a copy of the manuscript as requested.
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Wright to Holbrook and Cormack, 12 September 1863, advising that he had protested the alterations and was informed by the government that the function of the board ceased once their decision was made and, while objecting to this view as open to abuse, he declined to act further on the matter beyond forwarding copy of his letter to Young.
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Wright to Young, 11 September 1863, agreeing that the board were not censors, but protesting the alteration of the essay after judging, particularly the insertion of a paragraph attacking those who called for certain administrative changes in the colony.
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Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works to Holbrook and Cormack, 14 September 1863, advising that he had been instructed by the Colonial Secretary not to forward copy of the original essay.
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Young to Reverend Brown, 16 January 1863, asking that the essay be revised in order to form a handbook for the intending emigrant rather than the general reader.
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Brown to Young, 22 February 1863, advising the revisions would take about a month and asking for certain recent statistics in order to provide the most up-to-date information possible.
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Brown to Young, 27 March 1863, forwarding copy of the revised manuscript, explaining some of the alterations, and stressing the need for speedy printing, trusting that "none of the New Westminster democrats may be suffered to touch it."
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Newspaper clipping, Wright and Holbrook to editor of Express, no date, each expressing dissatisfaction with the government over the publication of the essay.
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Young to Wright, 10 September 1863, advising that the judges were not appointed censors and, with the judging complete, it was up to the government to act upon the results, neither body having control over the opinion of the writer.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 62, 3 January 1864.
Minutes by CO staff
I have examined the papers very carefully, & submit this for consideration.
TFE 30/12
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 12 October 1863, CO 60:16, no. 11527, 195. 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.

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