No. 62
3rd January 1864
I have had before me your despatch of the 12th October marked "Separate," accompanied by a Memorial from Mr. Cormack and Mr. Holbrook relative to the Essay of the Revd. R.C. Brown upon British Columbia. It appears that in conjunction with the Archdeacon of British Columbia these two gentlemen formedtheManuscript image the Judges who awarded to Mr. Brown the prize offered by the local Government for the best Essay on the capabilities and advantages of British Columbia. Their complaint is that whilst the Essay to which they allotted the Prize contained a passage strongly condemning the manner in which the affairs of British Columbia are administered, the Essay as afterwards printedatManuscript image at the Royal Engineer Press contained no such passage, but on the contrary spoke of the satisfaction given by the Government to the colonists, with the exception only of a part of them which was described in disparaging terms. The Archdeacon does not remember seeing the alleged passage censuring the Government, but disapproves of the introductionofManuscript image of one offensive to a distinct portion of the community.
The facts of the case, as established by the documents which you have sent home, are as follows. A prize of £50 was offered for the best Essay on the resources of the Colony, but all the Essays were afterwards to remain the property of the Government. When Mr. Brown had obtainedtheManuscript image the prize, you thought that it would be fore the good of the Colony to publish it, but that it's usefulness would be increased by its being much condensed. Mr. Brown had himself asked to have an opportunity for revision in case the pamphlet were published. From that time forth it appears that he dealt with the pamphlet entirely at his own discretion, andcommunicatedManuscript image communicated directly with the printers, and completed it exactly in the shape which he himself thought proper.
These facts conclusively exonerate the Colonial Government from any charge of tampering for it's own purposes with the work which was printed at the Royal Engineer Press. I have no doubt that you judged very rightly in thinkingitManuscript image it expedient that the pamphlet should be condensed, as certainly you took the most judicious and proper course in leaving the accomplishment of that object entirely to the Author.
On the other hand I am bound to say that I think it is to be regretted that the Revd. Mr. Brown, whilst the bulk of his pamphlet is laudably confined to the statisticalandManuscript image and descriptive matter which forms it's proper subject, should anywhere have introduced a disparaging allusion to any of the Colonists. The Essay was not of a kind to form a suitable vehicle for any political sentiment. On the same ground it seems to me that if it had contained a sweeping charge of mal-administration, this would have been especiallymisplacedManuscript image misplaced in a Tract for which the Government had offered a Prize as for an account of the material resources of the Colony; indeed so much misplaced as to render it a matter of some surprise that the Judges should have selected that Essay for the object of their award.
The work, I observe, has been produced with the title not of "a Prize Essay," but of "An Essay"byManuscript image by the Revd. Mr. Brown. It contains however on the fly leaf the advertisement under which the original Essay was tendered and obtained the prize. The complaints which have been made would have been obviated if the fly leaf had contained instead a notice that this Essay, although founded on one which had obtained the prize offered by theGovernmentManuscript image Government, had been curtailed in some parts and expanded in others, and largely altered, and that the Author alone was responsible for it's contents. This would have met the anxiety which I think it natural that the Judges should have felt not to seem answerable on such an occasion for the approvalofManuscript image of any passages which were calculated to displease any portion of their fellow colonists.
But whilst I have entered into these details in order to satisfy the gentlemen who have appealed to me that I have examined fully into their complaint, I wish to state in conclusion that the Revd. Mr. Brown appears to me to havedischargedManuscript image discharged his task in a manner which does great credit to his industry and ability, and that although a casual sentence which escaped him may excite attention on the spot where party differences prevail, I believe that it will be wholly passed over by distant readers, and that the only effect of the work will be to render service to the Colony by diffusing aknowledgeManuscript image knowledge of it's resources, and by offering a favorable though discriminating, account of the advantages which it holds out to properly qualified settlers.
I have the honor to be
Your Obedient Servant