Berens to Newcastle
Hudson's Bay House
19 July 1859
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Mr C. Fortescue's letter of the 12th Instant transmitting Copy of a Despatch from the Governor of Vancouver's Island to your Grace dated the 14th May 1859 and of the documents enclosed therein on the subject of the erection of certain Public Buildings at Victoria, together with Draft of a Despatch which your Grace intends to address to the Governor by the next Mail.
Your Grace is probably aware that from the time that this Company took possession of Vancouver's Island under the Grant from the Crown they have been lookedManuscript imagelooked to to provide all the funds that might be required for its' colonization and improvement, and they have not hesitated on any occasion, although very often at considerable inconvenience, to advance their own monies for the purpose when they were not in funds from receipts for the Sale of land or otherwise.
Although the Company have never yet received a distinct notice of the intention of Her Majesty's Government to repurchase the Island at the expiration of the License to Trade they have always assumed from Mr Under Secretary Merivale's communication to them of the 20th January 1858 which intimated that it was the intention of the Colonial Office to recommend theManuscript imagethe adoption of that cause, that in the result it would be so adopted; and they have therefore since that period strongly impressed upon the Governor, so far as the connection of the Company with him enabled them to do so, the necessity of exercising the greatest caution in the Government expenditure, with a view of restricting the advances which the Company felt themselves bound to make to what was actually necessary for the maintenance of the Government.
Your Grace must be aware that the Officers conducting the monetary and Commerical affairs of the Hudson's Bay Company in the Colony can only look to the Governor representing the Home Government as the party to determine whatManuscript imagewhat disbursements are required for the wants of the Government, and if the Governor deemed it necessary that certain Buildings should be erected for Government purposes, it would not be the business of the Officers of this Company to express any judgment upon the resolution he might arrive at. Nor would they, under such circumstances, feel themselves justified in withholding the funds that might be required for carrying out the Governor's demands. This Company have no means of knowing what passes between the Governor and the Colonial Office. They can only presume he acts under instructions from the Home Government.
So far from this Company beingManuscript imagebeing desirous to increase their advances on account of the Government it has been their anxious desire, ever since they had reason to expect that it was intended to exercise the right of repurchase, to restrict them as far as it was possible to do so consistently with the obligations imposed upon them by the terms of the Grant of the Island.
I have etc.
H.H. Berens
P.S. In compliance with Mr Fortescue's wishes, I have the honor to enclose the account of the proceedings of the House of Assembly of Vancouver's Island.
Not recd in Regy.
CWS 21/7/59
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
There seems to me nothing in this Letter whh should arrest the sending of the proposed desph to Governor Douglas, in it's present shape.
Wd you send the Govr a copy of this Letter as well as of ours to him.
ABd 21 July
Whatever suspicions of private arrangements between the Company's agent & the Governor we may entertain, we have no evidence on which to accuse the Directors of the Company of any share in this very questionable transaction, by which (according to Mr Berens) they have been as much surprized as ourselves. I think the correspce should go to the Governor, with reference to ours of the 12th.
HM July 22
Govr Douglas wd seem to be the party in fault in this transaction.
CF 23
N 26
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 6, 1 August 1859, transmitting a copy of a despatch on the Erection of Certain Public Buildings at Victoria.