Gosset to Fortescue (Parliamentary Under-Secretary)
58 Gloster Crescent
Hyde Park
July 27 1863
I have just returned to Town. Your communication of the 21st followed me in the country which will account for my delay in acknowledging it.
2. To comply with its command, to repair to British Columbia by August the 31st, (could I start this instant), would be an impossibility, the journey outwards being one of seven weeks, but as I deemed it my duty to make nosecretManuscript image secret at the Colonial Office of not wishing to return to B. Colbia in the position of Treasurer, it was perhaps termed with a view to elicit my intentions in official form.
3. Permit me to assure you, that in due deference to your right to the earliest information, such official intimation would have been furnished by me many months since, had I not understood that my presence in England was deemed useful to the Colony, and I could not have ensured it, had I onceplacedManuscript image placed myself at the command of another Department.
4. I make these observations to remove the impression, somewhat indicated by your letter, that I have hitherto protracted my stay under equivocal pretences.
5. There can however be offered no better evidence of the sincerity of my previous observation, that extended leave was but (pro forma) sought under the supposition of my attendance in London being still required by His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, than that, now informed to the contrary, I hasten respectfully to tender theresignationManuscript image resignation of my appointment.
6. It is with unfeigned regret that I contemplate a severance of my connection with the Colonial Office; and, I should seem ungracious were I not to state the circumstances which lead towards it.
7. By revised Treasury regulations, I am (as a second Officer of Royal Engineers) compelled, ere two years more expire, to elect between, either return to my Corps, or resignation of my military prospects: and, mypresentManuscript image present appointment in British Columbia would not enable me to incur the unavoidable expense of a journey out & back within that time (an outlay of 800£ to 1000£ for a family), still less justify me in relinquishing the rights of nearly 25 years service under Her Majesty.
8. I may have lately been persuaded by friends, that with my knowledge of British Columbia & Vancouver Island, I might have hoped, in some higher position than my present one, to have made my adhesion to the Colonial service, permanent; and that, my experience of the Ceylon model ofGovernment,Manuscript image Government, now to be adopted in British Columbia, might have proved useful to a colony, in whose progress, as one of it's early pioneers through four rough years of hardships, I cannot but be interested, and whose development, under the form of Government suggested by me in a despatch to Governor Douglas so long back as 1859 and lately pressed upon your notice, I may, not unnaturally, have entertained a desire to influence.
9. As in Ceylon, where such conduct was encouraged and approved by its experienced Governor Sir Henry Ward,whoseManuscript image whose good opinion it was my great fortune to gain, and hold to the day of death; so, in British Columbia, I have always always endeavoured faithfully, and without fear of consequences to myself, to perform my official duties, and, which is not without its influence in a distant colony where the incorporation of English customs has a powerful value not always appreciated, to fill my position as a Government Officer—socially, avoiding indecent greed or undignified speculations & relying only upon the Public Service for reward—I trust therefore that my services abroad have not merited the disapprobation of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies.
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10. In lately expressing my reflections upon the affairs of British Columbia & Vancouver Island, although not insensible to the fact that in doing so I may have been deemed troublesome and pragmatical, I have acted solely from a conviction that it was my duty to give your Department information, and, in pursuit of desired ends I have sought only access to your (i.e. Col Office) ear and declined the proffered aid of Members, in Parliament—careful, as I trust I showed myself even in my communications to you, to stir up as little dirt as possible in remedying evils.
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11. So much egotism it has been repugnant to me to utter, but some explanation seemed due to myself, in case I may have been misrepresented or misunderstood, for, if I am to quit the Colonial Service, I should desire to do so, not under a cloud, but carrying with me an agreeable impression of the light in which my conduct may have been regarded.
12. I avail myself of this, perhaps my last opportunity, gratefully to acknowledge the courtesy & kindness with which I have been treated by the Colonial Office ever since I accepted service under it in August 1855, and I request that youwillManuscript image will do me the favor of laying this letter before His Grace the Duke of Newcastle to whom I feel indebted for many evidences of his consideration, and whom I would in conclusion most respectfully thank.
I have the honor to be Sir
Your Most obt Humble Sert
W. Driscoll Gosset
Major, R. Engrs

C. Fortescue Esqe MP
Secty &c
Colonial Office
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
Accept the resignation. The inference to be drawn from this Letter is that Capn G. would like a complimentary Letter to be addressed to him in answer; but on a careful & fair review of his services in B.C. as known to the S.S. I do not know that we have any ground for such a communication. InformtheManuscript image the Governor? It wd be better for the Colony, I think, if the Duke of Newcastle were to select some body on his List of Candidates to succeed Major Gossett: instead of leaving the choice to the Governor.
The salary of the Office is £750 per annum.
ABd 28 July
I fear that the opening Pars. of this letter cannot be considered very frank or straightforward. After all that cloud of words and arguments, the fact remains that Major Gosset had remained on leave and did his best to get it extended, without any real intention of going back to his Office. It is not however worth further notice.
As to his official career all that I remember is that his accounts as Treasurer were sadly in arrear and formed the subject of repeated complaints on that ground from the Audit Office, but on the other hand I quite admit that ample allowance should be made for the probable difficulties of enforcing regularity, and of getting competent aid, in the infancy of a Colony. He as it were challenges a verdict. I do not think that he is entitled to force an expression of approval. Would some such answer as follows suit the case?
In reply to his letteracceptManuscript image accept his resignation of his office of Treasurer in B. Columbia. With reference to the remarks in the latter part of his letter, assure him that the Duke has no wish to intimate any disapprobation of his conduct in his office, which His Grace does not doubt that he discharged to the best of his power in the midst of the difficulties of a new Colony.
TFE 29 July
Major Gossett evidently expected to have been made Commr of Land & Works, or Governor, of B. Columbia, and is disappointed. But that is no reason why we sh. not make his retirement from the Colonial Service as satisfactory to him as we properly can. I would convey to him the Duke's thanks for the valuable information with respect to the affairs of B.C., with wh. his experience had enabled him to furnish His Grace—and assure him that the fact, to wh. H.G. understands him to allude, of some other appointment in that Colony not having been offered to him, implies no misunderstanding of his conduct, either in the Colony or at the C.O., nor any disapprobation on the part of the Sec. of State of his services to the Colonial Department.
CF 31
Do not lay on praise or thanks too thick. We should always keep a reserve of those articles for first-rate Officers. I have not a high opinion of Captn G.
Other documents included in the file
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36 Bury St
St James
Aug. 10.63
Dear Mr Blackwood
Having received my cong£e from the Col Office this morng I marched to the Horse Guards to report myself, when I wasManuscript image told that your notification to the War Dt of having dispensed with my Services may be requisite to enable the Military Authorities to receive me. As matters of pay & promotion hang uponManuscript image this, will you add to the many favors I have had at yr hands, by getting this attended to at your early convenience.
Yrs vy truly
W. Driscoll Gosset
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Fortescue to Gosset, 7 August 1863, accepting his resignation.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Fortescue
See the Duke of Newcastle's minute. This draft follows the topic of your Minute, but somewhat abridged, in order to conform at the same time to the Duke's remark.
Other documents included in the file
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Colonial Office to Under-Secretary of State for War, 13 August 1863, advising of Gosset's resignation.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Elliot
Vide letter from Major Gosset to Mr Blackwood within.
EBP 11-8/63
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 45, 12 August 1863.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Elliot
I suppose the Govr should be told this. The last sentence is inserted for consideration.
EBP 11-8-/63