JUGGLING WITH THE PUBLIC MONIES —MESSRS. FISHER, MACLAREN, AND STEPHENS.
THE correspondence which we published in our number of the 7th instant between Mr. DAVID McLAREN, manager of the Bank of South Australia, Mr. GILLES, the Colonial
Treasurer, and Mr. Fisher, the Resident Commissioner, is doubtless fresh in the me- mory of our readers. Prevented at the time by the press of more evanescent matter from inserting the remarks that correspondence called forth, we now return to the subject with the intention of fully exposing the disreputable transactions to which it relates. In the first letter addressed by Mr. McLaren (July 2) to Mr. Gilles, that gentlemen says: " You are aware, I presume, that in No. 21 of the South Australian Gazette there appeared a copy of the account which, as Manager of the South Australian Company, I handed to the Hon. the Colonial Commissioner for freightage, &c., of the brig the Lord Hobart. I beg to know if you were accessary to furnishing the editor of that news paper with a copy of that account, or if it was done with your knowledge, or whether or not you have adopted any measures to punish the indi- vidual or individuals who have so grossly violated official confidence. "I presume you have seen No. 23 of that paper, in which is an article entitled 'A Fresh Juggle.' I have to enquire if that article was inserted with your knowledge, and if you have given any authority for the false representation therein made, that the persons charged with the manage- ment of the Bank were ordered to remit that money to England, and for the vile insinuation that these 'orders may have been evaded for some occult purpose.'" The answer of Mr. Gilles to the above was prompt. He refuses "to recognise Mr. McLaren's right to put any question to him as relative to the execution of his office as Co- lonial Treasurer,' and observes— "As an act of courtesy, however, I may state that the Honorable the Colonization Commissioners, as well as the Colonial Government, have been fully advised of my proceedings in reference to the sale and resale of the pork, as well as the unfortunate expedition to the Island of Timor for a supply of ponies; and has been furnished with copies of all the necessary vouchers in reference up to the close of last month." "With regard to the sum of £3444, say three
thousand four hundred and forty-four pounds paid into the Bank of South Australia by me on the 10th and 22nd April, 1837, to the credit of the Treasurer to the Colonization Commissioners. George Barnes, Esq., in London, I request to know why the money was not remitted to the Treasurer forthwith." Mr. McLaren in his reply to the above staggering question, in the first place de- clares— "I seek not to interfere with the execution or non-execution of the business of your office; but I shall, without hesitation, make such enquiry at you as I think necessary whenever I have so strong grounds as I have at present for believing that you have attempted, through a dis- reputable newspaper, to excite a prejudice against the Company or the Bank, of which I have the honor to be the manager, by an improper use of the official documents sent you, and of the official information obtained by you as Colonial Trea- surer." He then goes on: "In your letter of the 2d instant, you request to know why the money paid into the Bank by you on the 10th and 22d April, 1837, to the credit of the Treasurer to the Honorable the Coloniza- tion Commissioners, George Barnes, Esq., in London, was not remitted to the Treasurer forth- with?' Perhaps I might, without much impro- priety, decline answering this question, as I have every reason to believe that the Honorable the Colonization Commissioners and their Treasurer I know the reason long ago; and further, because you know that that money has been paid to George Barnes, Esq., or, at least, is ready fo be paid on demand; but I answer your question by saying that the reason why that money was not remitted to the Treasurer forthwith was that, when that money was paid into the Bank, the Colonial Treasurer did not order it to be remitted to the Treasurer in London, but on the contrary did say to the Cashier of the Bank, that 'no one could now touch it without an order from Mr. Barnes., The Bank, of course, has retained that money, waiting such an order; but the Directors of the South Australian Company have, notwithstanding, paid the money in London, or at least have informed George Barnes, Esq., that they will pay it on demand." So far Mr. McLaren. Mr. Fisher next steps in, by the manager's orders no doubt, to save him if he can from the exposure which seemed inevitable; and here is the mode in which that skilful manouverer takes up the subject. He is now addressing the Colonial Treasurer: "All that I know upon the subject is that in express obedience to the instructions of the Colonization Commissioners, I directed you to pay the sum in question into the South Austra- lian Bank to the credit of the Treasurer in Eng- land. How far you attended to this direction you can best answer; but having been informed by you that you had done so, I immediately made a com- munication to that effect to the Commissioners in England. I was not aware until the receipt of a recent despatch from the Commissioners that the money had not, up to a certain period, either been remitted or drawn for by them, and upon enquiry into the reason I find it was owing to the mode in which you paid it into the Bank, which the manager informs me he has explained to you." The answer of Mr. Gilles to Mr. Fisher is the most humbling and conclusive exposure that can be imagined. Mr. Gilles, in the first place, observes— "I have not received from Mr. McLaren, the Ma- nager of the South Australian Bank, any satisfactory explanation of the detention of this money by the Bank, than which I must say a more unbusiness- like proceeding I have never met with in the course of an experience of commercial and banking matters of twenty-five years and upwards." He requests Mr. Fisher to have the great kindness to contrast Mr. McLaren's assertion that the money had been paid to George Barnes, Esq., with the extract of a letter from that gentleman just received by the Rapid, in the following terms:— "I am sorry to say that when, holding still the office of Treasurer here, I applied for the money, they told me that there appeared to be some ir- regularitv or misunderstanding respecting the manner in which it had been deposited, which created a difficulty in the payment of it; that it had been paid in by Mr. Fisher with a declaration that he could not say whether it was to be drawn out in the colony or paid in England, and must therefore wait for the instructions of the Commissioners upon that point." Mr. Gilles then repeats and transcribes copies of Mr. Fisher's instructions as to the payment of these monies, and of the receipts by Mr. E. Stephens, then acting as Bank Manager for the same, in which the latter ac- knowledges that these monies are "placed to the credit of George Barnes, Esq., Treasurer in England to the Colonization Commissioners for South Australia." Having thus proved his implicit obedience to Mr. Fisher's in- structions, Mr. Gilles concludes by "trusting that Mr. Fisher is now satisfied that 'the in- formation he obtained at the Bank, upon en- quiry, that the mode in which Mr. Gilles paid this money into the Bank was the reason of its not being remitted,' is not correct, or such as a respectable Banking Establishment ought to have given." Such is a faithful outline of this most sin- gular correspondence. Our readers will remark that the first sub- ject which excites the ire of Mr. McLaren is the publication, in this journal, of the account for the freight of the Lord Hobart to Timor for ponies. Had there been nothing disre- putable in this account —had it been fair, honest, and above-board —we presume Mr. McLaren's virtuous indignation would not have been so excessive because of its seeing the light. The account was a public one; it con- talned a heavy charge against the Colonization Commissioners: we allow it was a secret; that the transaction was unauthorised; but
it was no private matter either of the Bank or of Mr. Fisher. Here is the account itself as originally printed:— " South Australian Company, Adelaide, April 30, 1838. The Hon J. H. Fisher, Resident Commissioner, To the South Australian Company. For freightage, &c, of the brig the Lord Hobart, 189 66-94 tons, as per agreement, sailed from Nepean Bay September 11, 1837; voyage ter- minated April 25, 1838; two days additional to be charged as a compensation for the detention of the schooner John Pirie by the Hon. the Resident Commis- sioner, say, from September 9, 1837, till April 25, 1838, inclusive, seven months and seventeen days, at 21s. per ton per month £1506 16 6 For board to Mr. C. Birdseye per the Lord Hobart, from September 3, 1837, till April 22, 1838, inclusive, 230 days, at 7s. 6d. per day 86 5 0 For board to Mr. Alex. Dawsey and four men, from October 25, 1837, till April 26, 1838, inclusive, 184 days, at 2s. per man per day..92 0 0 Total £1685 1 6 Payable per the Commissioners' Treasurer's Draft on George Barnes, Esq., Treasurer to the Colonization Commissioners for South Australia, London; countersigned by the Hon. the Resident Commissioner. E & O. E. D. McL." Wherein, therefore, is the crime of pub- lishing so harmless a document ? Will our readers mark the simple fact? The freight of the Lord Hobart is charged in that account from the period of her leaving Nepean Bay on the 11th of September, 1837, until the day of her return to Port Adelaide on the 25th April last; and no deduction is made by Mr.McLaren in that enormous charge for the detention of the vessel for five weeks at Sydney, during which time she was obtaining sufficient water-casks and undergoing the repairs ne- cessary to render her seaworthy and fit for the voyage! Mr. Commissioner Fisher casually, of course, overlooks this slight error, and sends the account forthwith to the Colonial Treasurer with peremptory orders to draw bills on the Commissioners in favor of Mr. McLaren for its gross amount without abatement; but Mr. Gilles, being unfortunately a man of bu- siness and knowing his duty, desires an ex- planation of the affair, which, not being con- venient, he most properly refuses to have any- thing to do with the transaction. Mr. McLaren therefore in dudgeon at this contre-temps, sends his attorney to the Treasury to protest the ready prepared bills for —whisper it not in Lombard-street—not drawing ! ! Nei- ther Mr. McLaren nor his learned "reteined legal adviser," Mr. Mann, probably knew that the bits of paper he held in his hand and pre- sented to Mr. Gilles did not become bills till they were drawn! Fit attorney—fit manager! The protest would be a curiosity. Finding after all that Mr. Gilles was neither to be coaxed nor bullied out of the line of his duty, Mr. McLaren, after a fortnight's cogitation, vents his bottled-up bile at that officer because the account itself found its way into the columns of that "disreputable newspaper" the South Australian Gazette ! The false saint in Moliere's play is scandalised not at the sin itself, but at the exposure of it; and this we suspect is not far from the true cause which in the present case has stirred Mr. McLaren into a fit of rage at the publication of the document in question. But the prime juggle—the grand achieve- ment in hocus pocus— is the quiet pocketing of tho colonists' hard cash in place of trans- mitting it to its destination in England. Our readers will observe that Mr. Gilles pays into the Bank to the credit of the Treasurer in London £3444; and he advises the Treasurer that he has done so. Mr. Barnes on receiving that advice proceeds as a matter of course to the Company's Bank in England to draw the money, when, in place of having it handed across the counter, he is cooly told " that there appeared to be some irregularity or misunderstanding respecting the manner in which it had been deposited which created a difficulty in the payment of it; that it had been paid in by Mr. Fisher with a DECLARATION that he could not say whether it was to be drawn out in the colony or paid in England, and must therefore wait for the instructions of the Commissioners on that point." Now before going further we must remark that there are lies, and very gross ones too, hereabouts. In the first place, the money was not paid in by Mr. Fisher; but whether he made the declaration as he is reported by the Company's Manager in England to have done, on the authority, of course, of Mr. E. Stephens, we cannot tell. Mr. Fisher's own account of the matter, though even for him more than usually obscure, seems to repudiate all knowledge or sanction of the detention of the money. " I was not aware," he says, " until the receipt of a recent despatch from the Commissioners that the money had not, up to a certain period, either been remitted or drawn for by them. On enquiry into the reason," continues Mr. Fisher, " I find it wat owiny to the mode in which you (Mr. Gilles) paid it into the Bank" —not, be it observed, for the reason given by the Bank to Mr. Barnes in London, in which the detention is laid distinctly at Mr. Fisher's door, but for one totally different, and in no shape or maneer connected with it. The correctness of Mr. Barnes' account to Mr. Gilles of the reasons given by the Bank In Englad for non-payment of the money to him is beyond all question; nor can it be
supposed for a moment that the respectable gentlemen connected with the South Australian Company in London did more than merely repeat to Mr. Barnes the version of the story sent home to them by their manager here. That manager was at the time Mr. Edward Stephens; but the story, by whoever trans- mitted, is false. The money was not paid in by Mr. Fisher, but by Mr. Gilles; what re- mains of the lie rests between Messrs. Stephens and Fisher. But there is a remarkable contradiction be- tween the reason assigned to Mr. Barnes in London and that given by Mr. David McLaren here for the detention of the money. Mr. E. Stephens writes home, and Mr. Wheeler repeats to Mr. Barnes, that the money had been " paid in by Mr. Fisher with a declaration that he could not say whether it was to be drawn out in the colony or paid in England," and that, there- fore, it was not paid; while Mr. David McLaren states " the reason why that money was not remitted to the Treasurer forthwith was, that when the money was paid into the Bank the Colonial Treasurer did not order it to be remitted to the Treasurer in London, but on the contrary did say to the Cashier of the Bank, (Mr. E. Stephens) that ' no one could now touch it without an order from Mr. Barnes!' The Bank, of course, has retained that money, waiting such an order !!!" It is a pity Messrs. Stephens and McLaren had not agreed to stick by their original story, whatever it was. Poor Mr. McLaren only gets deeper into the dirt by venturing upon any other " The money was not remitted forthwith," quoth Mr. M'Laren, " because the Colonial Treasurer did not order it to be remitted." Indeed ! Has he so utterly for- gotten that the following letters are extant ? "Adelaide, April 10, 1837. "Sir—By order of the Colonial Commissioner I am directed to pay into the Bank of South Austra- lia three thousand and nine pounds fifteen shillings and five pence, in British sterling and colonial from ds, for account and at the disposal of George Barnes, Esq., Treasurer to the South Australian Colonization Commissioners in London, for which amount you will be so obliging as to furnish me with a receipt and duplicate in the form of a letter. " Osmond Gilles, " Colonial Treasurer. "Edwd. Stephens, Esq., Manager of the Bank of South Australia, Adelaide." " Bank of South Australia. "Adelaide, April 10, 1837. "Osmond Gilles, Esq., Colonial Treasurer. " Sir—l have this day to acknowledge receipt (two copies of which are given) of three thousand and nine pounds fifteen shillings and five pence, in British sterling, and colonial notes, which I have passed to the credit, at this Bank, of George Barnes, Esq., Treasurer to the Colonisation Com- missioners in England. "Say £3009 15s. 5d. "(Signed) Edward Stephens, " Pro. Manager," " Bank of South Australia, " Adelaide. April 22, 1837. "Osmond Gilles, Esq., Colonial Treasurer. "Sir—l have this day to acknowledge the receipt of three hundred and ninety pounds four shillings and seven pence, in British sterling and colonial notes, which I have placed to the credit of George Barnes, Esq., Treasurer in England to the Coloni- zation Commissioners for South Australia. " Say £390 4s. 7d. " (Signed) Edwd. Stephens, " Pro. Manager." We may charitably suppose that Mr. M'Laren and Mr. Stephens are ignorant of their business; but what banker or merchant could doubt that money so paid in was, ac- cording to all mercantile usage, ordered to be remitted to England ? Mr. McLaren, indeed, repeats an observation reported to have been made by Mr. Gilles when the money was paid in, " that no one could now touch it without an order from Mr. Barnes," which observa- tion he strains into an order by Mr. Gilles not to remit the money at all to Mr. Barnes. But although we are authorised on the part of Mr. Gilles distinctly to deny that such a remark was made by him, still we give Mr. McLaren the full benefit of his " on the con- trary ;" and to what does it amount ? Why, that nobody but Mr. Barnes could touch the money. Is that Mr. McLaren's exquisite reason ? To keep the money where Mr. Barnes could not touch it—in place of sending it to England where he could ? Did Mr. McLaren expect Mr. Barnes to make a voyage from London to Australia for the purpose; or did he suppose if he perilled the voyage of so much treasure to England that the directors and managers of the Bank there would be such nincompoops as to allow any " one to touch the money without an order from Mr. Barnes ?" But if the money after all was not to be touched without an order from Mr Barnes, has Mr. McLaren religiously attended to Mr. Gilles instruction on that head ? Have the colonists' gold and silver been locked up in the Bank coffers in Adelaide untouched till Mr. Barnes' good pleasure was known ? Or has not Mr. Maclaren himself been putting that identical money to usance, aye, and making twenty or thirty per cent, of it at least, without an order from Mr. Barnes ? Has it not fur- nished the means of grinding the colonists a little further; nay, even of enabling Mr McLaren to advance to the Commissioners THEIR OWN MONEY at a charge of twenty per cent., for the use of which, during the period of ascertaining Mr. Barnes' wishes, the Bank was most liberally allowing them seven per cent. ! Does Mr. McLaren desire proof of these facts ? Let him intimate to us his wishes, and we shall return to the subject and furnish him besides with a correct calculation of the gains of the bank and the loss to the colony through this convenient, but most discreditable juggle.