2 February 1865
I have had the honor to receive your confidential despatch of the 16th of November, 1864 informing me that on the representation of Lieutenant Governor Austin you hadsuspendedManuscript image suspended, with a view to cancelling, the appointment of Captain Holmes to the Colonial Secretaryship of Honduras. You further state that the facts admitted in my letter of the 30th of August ought not to have been withheld from the Secretary of State by a Governor who was recommending a candidate for employment in a Colony he was leaving.
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2. I would now very respectfully venture to add some further explanations to that contained in my letter above referred to. That letter was written with the utmost haste on my return from Cariboo.
3. In the first place I should point out that at the time I recommended Captain Holmes to His GraceManuscript image the Duke of Newcastlethe Duke of Newcastle the Duke of Newcastle for an appointment Mr Austin's accusation could by no possibility be sustained. It was not until he was about to have his large family in uncertain circumstances to accompany me to England that appetite and sleep forsook Capn Holmes, and the stimulants which would have had no effect upon a man in good health conduced to bring on a nervous attack at Jamaica onManuscript image his passage to England. The attack—I have seen as bad in the [Lord Brown?] caused by imprudently drinking the Carlsbad waters—yielded at once to medical treatment and did not return. The Governor of the Island says, in his despatch of the 24th of May 1864, that he never heard of the circumstances.
4. On our arrival in England I saw no wish on the part of Captain Holmes toManuscript image exchange the Private Secretaryship in British Columbia for a permanent official employment. Why should I then gratuitously injure the prospects of a young officer with a family dependent upon him? I mentioned to Mr Elliot that I was willing to take Captain Holmes with me to British Columbia and give him the chance of becoming Surveyor General, but I did not press it & I do notManuscript image think that I wrote a line to any one on the subject. So far then from my wishing to foist an unworthy Officer upon my successor in Honduras, I brought Captain Holmes with me. If I deemed him worthy to appear at all hours in this house where visitors abound, I can hardly be supposed to consider Captain Holmes as likely to throw discredit upon anyManuscript image public employment in another colony. It so happens that I was hundreds of miles away from New Westminster when the offer of the Colonial Secretaryship at Belize was made to Captain Holmes through Mr Birch. I may venture to say that had he contemplated the possibility of the appointment being cancelled be would hardly have refrained from advising Captain Holmes to leave well alone and remain inManuscript image this Colony.
5. I believe that I wrote strongly to the Duke of Newcastle in favour of Captain Holmes, for I know that I, together with the whole community, had reason to be grateful to him when I wrote. We had had troublous times in Honduras, and, apparently by a natural law, Captain Holmes rose to the command of things when otherManuscript image men were wanting in energy or presence of mind. In the great fire of the 10 March 1863 when a large portion of Belize was burnt down, the Artillery detachment was the most serviceable body present, and Captain von Donop of HMS "Jason" placed his officers and men under Captain Holmes's command. In the very crisis of the conflagration when it seemed probable that the whole townManuscript image would be consumed, hundreds of people gazed with breathless anxiety while Captain Holmes, having driven away the solitary gunner by whom he had been assisted, kicked the head out of a barrel of gunpowder in a burning house which was already scattering its flakes of fire over the public buildings. As soon as the fire was mastered the Legislative Assembly, as will be seen by a reference to myManuscript image despatch in your office, placed almost despotic powers into the hands of the Government. My despatch will, I think, report that I selected for the exercise of these unusual powers Captain Holmes and the Speaker. I believe that you will find in the Legislative minutes that the thanks of the Assembly were specially tendered to Captain Holmes.
6. Again, when a great alarm was caused by a collisionManuscript image with loss of life, between the black troops and townpeople, a deputation headed by the Speaker called on me late at night to request that I would send over to Fort George for Captain Holmes and his detachment to take charge of the town. In purely civil matters, when acting as Colonial Secretary, his personal popularity and tact in maintaining friendly relations between theManuscript image Governor and the Legislative Assembly were of great value to me.
Lt Govr Austin says his unpopularity wd occasion inconvenience in the Assembly.
7. You say that I must on reflection see that I acted wrongly in not mentioning the unfortunate, and I allow, suspicious, Jamaica episode of the voyage to England. I deeply regret that I should by any omission have given you trouble, but I feel but little cause for self reproachManuscript image in not having introduced the system inaugurated by Mr Austin. Is he prepared fully to carry it out? If so, has he reported to you that one of his principal Officers, promoted since my departure, was intoxicated on nearly every public occasion? That Mr Price had to order that Officer out of a ball room? That I forbad his appearing in my presence when I opened the Legislative Session of 1862? That theManuscript image Assembly had, at least on one occasion if not more to suspend its sitting on account of the inebriety of its principal leader? Yet is Mr Austin prepared to say that the mercy I showed has been misplaced? Will it disturb his devotions to know that the clergyman he listens to has performed the feat he deems impossible of becoming, from a drunkard in this colony, a temperate man in the tropics?
8. You, Sirs,Manuscript image are too far above our position to understand the jealousy with which some men appointed to administer a Government regard their predecessors. With every disposition to attribute the best motives to Mr Austin, I may mention that I have received letters from my late servants in Belize complaining of the manner in which he has condescended to attack even their character. It is enquired of me whether I really stated verballyManuscript image to their new Governor the very reserve of what I certified in writing before leaving Belize.
9. During my many years' administration of Colonial Governments it has happened to me but twice to incur censure, even so mild as that conveyed in the despatch I have now the honor to acknowledge. I was blamed for reporting the misconduct of the late Chief Justice of Honduras,
Not for reporting it I think but for want of candour & for personal hostility in the manner of doing so.
who wasManuscript image subsequently dismissed by the Secretary of State & now it is intimated to me, though in the kindest manner, that I ought to have reported the fleeting irregularity of conduct of a gentleman who at the time was not a candidate for office.
10. I remain fully impressed that Captain Holmes restored in comparative affluence & comfort to his family in Belize would have in every way done credit to my recommendation.
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I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
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ABd 18-3
P. by.
ABd 28 July