No. 4
14 February 1863
My Lord Duke,
Adverting to my Despatch No 44, of the 23rd August last, and to Your Grace's Despatch No 101, of the 2nd June 1862, in which were transmitted for report certain letters from Mr E.E. Langford, formerly residentatManuscript image at Esquimalt, Vancouver's Island, containing statements affecting various Officers of my Government, and the administration of Justice within the Colony, I have now the honor to forward herewith a report from Mr Cameron, the Chief Justice, upon Mr Langfords complaint in respect of certain proceedings in the Supreme Court, accompanied by copy of minutes of evidence, and of the Judges notes of the trial in which Mr Langford was concerned. I have also the honor to enclosetheManuscript image the reports I have received from Mr Begbie, the Judge of British Columbia, and from Mr Good, the Chief Clerk in the Office of the Colonial Secretary of British Columbia, in reply to the particular charges preferred by Mr Langford against them.
2. Your Grace desires me in forwarding these Documents to accompany them with my own observations. It seems to me, however, that the Documents in question when read with Mr Langford's correspondence, andconsideredManuscript image considered in connection, therewith, and with the report furnished by Mr Cary, forwarded in my Despatch of this date, No 3, so clearly disclose the character and evident object of Mr Langford, that it is unnecessary for me to occupy Your Grace's time by adding the result of my general experience of Mr Langford during the period that he was a resident of Vancouver's Island: but I deem it right, nevertheless, to observe that when I appointed Mr Langford a JusticeofManuscript image of the Peace I had no choice of Candidates. He was the first settler who could consistently be appointed to that office, and the circumstance upon which he lays so much stress of having filled the responsible position of Chairman of Quarter Sessions, was simply the result of his seniority: and I must also observe that had I been in possession of all the circumstances now disclosed, I should have felt it my duty prior to Mr Langford's departurefromManuscript image from Vancouver's Island to strike his name off the Commission of the Peace.
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
I shd say that Messrs Cameron, Begbie & Good successfully defend themselves against the complaint of Mr Langford.
ABd 15 Apl
Sir F. Rogers
See minute on 3699.
TFE 16 Apl
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Mr Langfords charges are agst 1. Ch. Justice Cameron of V.C.I., 2. Atty Gen. Carey [Cary] of V.C.I., 3. Ch. J. Begbie of B. Columbia, 4. Mr Good, Private Secrety of B Columbia to Govr.
1. As to Ch Justice Cameron Mr L. writes 5078 B.C. on my refusing to answer a question which was irrelevant to the statements contained in the declaration, inquisitional and harsh in its tendency, & which affected the interests of society at large…evidence which I had given on oath was struck out by direction of the Judge, & a non suit recorded (and I) was sentenced (for contempt) to be imprisoned in the Common Jail & to pay a fine of £10. I was taken to prisonManuscript image and locked up with felons, Indians and maniacs.
The facts are that Mr Langford brought an action for libel against the printer of a placard wh will be found in pp 2 & 3 of Enclosure A to 3700/63. The placard is a very severe and well written election squib—and I hope I shall not be considered to disclose a low tone of morality when I say that—supposing always it is just in substance—I do not think it goes beyond the licence wh may be allowed [least?] (propter duritiem cordis) in a Colonial contested election.
However it implies an accusation agst Mr Langford of not giving intelligible accounts to his Employers. The question wh he refused to answerManuscript image was "What book does folio No 2 refer to in that account?" wh appears relevant to the matter.
I think that the Judge (as far as can be seen) was quite right in requiring an answer to that question (to wh Mr L's counsel did not object) and on Mr L's refusal to give an answer could do not otherwise than punish him for contempt.
It seems just also that the evidence of a man who refuses (in substance) to undergo cross-examination, shd be struck out.
I think however that it is not for the Secretary of State to pronounce on the right or wrong of a Judge's decision, unless it is so manifestly corrupt or intemperate as to be a ground for proceedings before the Govr & Ex Council.
The answer therefore to Mr Langford is that having made enquiry respecting the case, the D of N doesManuscript image not find that it contains any circumstances which would call for the interposition of the Executive authority.
2. As to Mr Carey.
The charge is that this Gentleman being attorney (as well as counsel) in the case of Langford v. King & as such responsible for the bill of costs inserted in that bill "items of payment which had never in fact been paid."
The answer is that the bill of costs was framed & payment required by an Attorney named Drake & not by the Attorney Genl.
Also that the items referred to are witnesses expenses (8£8s0). That sum was apparently paid to one of the witnesses for the rest. But the witnesses refused to receive the money. Mr Langford refused to receive it backManuscript image and the man to whom it was paid accordingly paid them on to a hospital.
I think this answer is complete and that Mr L may be told that the Duke of N. finds no reason to suppose that Mr Cary has acted with any impropriety.
3. Mr Begbie C.J. of B Columbia is accused of being author of the alleged libel.
Mr Begbie's answer is very clever and should not be left unread. I should say that he wishes the Secretary of State to understand that he is and is rather proud of being the author of the placard, but to do this witht giving Mr Langford the right to say that he has avowed it. It seems to me that his power of dry humour & his desire to demolish a charlatan have led him to do what a Ch Justice (even of a neighbouring Colony) ought to have refrained from. But I do not see thatManuscript image on the alleged & doubtful authority of this Capt King who is dead the Secretary of State is bound to institute enquiries into the authorship of this trifle, and to bring it home to him (even if this were possible).
4. Mr Good private Secretary to the Govr is said to have brought the placard in MS to the printing office—and to have given the printer 20£ towards the costs of the action.
This information Mr L professes to have derived from Capt King.
As Good replies that this is an old story & that Capt King being called to account by him (Mr Good) positively denied having informed Mr Langford that he had recd the placard from Mr Good—an allegation wh Mr G. qualifies as "absurd."
Of the 20£ he says nothing. If, asManuscript image I infer, he was the medium of transmitting the £20 to Mr King, I cannot myself think it more than an imprudence.
On the whole—It will be observed that Mr Langfords charges are in themselves so absolutely vague they deserve no answer (vide minute on 5078 V.C.I.) nor has he any right after making a loose statement which commits him to nothing to require information as to what is said to the Secretary of State by those whom he is assailing, writing not with the caution which they would use to him, but with the freedom which they use to their superior.
I would therefore tell him nothing. If he wants to know anything, let him get somebody to move for papers. This he will probably not do unless he can find out what [he] will get.
I annex the draft answers wh I shd propose to the Gov. & to Mr Langford.
This whole affair is extremely ridiculous & Mr Langford takes little indeed by hisManuscript image proceedings. If my Parliamentary friend moves for these papers he will find the dry sarcasm of Judge Begbie's letter quite as unpleasant as the placard.
N 20
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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David Cameron, Chief Justice, to W.A.G. Young, Colonial Secretary, 29 January 1863, responding to Langford's charges against the administration of justice in the colony, and enclosing trial evidence to support his position.
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Copy of the Record as entered for trial charging Edward Hammond King with libel and asking for damages, 8 February 1860, signed by Langford.
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Copy of the daily minutes of the proceedings of the Court for 17 April 1860, copy made 30 August 1862, signed by Thomas G. Williams, Registrar.
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Copy of a charge against the plaintiff, Edward Langford, for contempt and ordering that he "be committed to the custody of the Sheriff for twenty four hours" and that he pay a fine of £10, signed by Cameron.
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Copy of the judge's notes of the trial for 12 April 1860 describing the course of events, no signature.
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Matthew Begbie, Chief Justice, to Young, 23 December 1862, responding in detail to the charges laid against him by Langford.
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Charles Good, Chief Clerk, Colonial Secretary's Office, to Young, 23 December 1862, responding in detail to the charges laid against him by Langford.
Other documents included in the file
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Rogers to Langford, 23 April 1863, providing a detailed explanation of why the Duke of Newcastle feels it unnecessary to reopen a matter properly disposed of in the colony.
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 12, 23 April 1863, acknowledging the receipt of Douglas's despatch, which forwarded the reports of Cameron, Begbie, and Good.