SMH TUESDAY 27th April 1858


Mr. Rowland has not much improved his position before the public by the long letter he has addressed to us. His sudden disappearance when he was summoned to answer the charge of assault, naturally induced every one to suppose that he was conscious of guilt, and wished to avoid punishment. His professed reasons for running away are without force. He justifies his conduct towards the handcuffed girls, and alleges that his treatment of them was absolutely necessary to preserve the ship from be coming a scene of disorder and disease ; and that therefore, so far from being wanton cruelty, it was a real kindness to them and to the whole ship's company. But if these allegations are true, what has he to fear from a charge of assault? If his conduct was justifiable, why should he shrink from an enquiry? If his accusers were disposed to be hard upon him, magistrates and judges would not be. Our courts are impartial. Let him show that he in no respect abused his authority, and he would receive a triumphant vindication. He would be put to no ruinous legal expense, while he would become entitled to his gratuity. But he has absented himself, precisely at the time when it was most necessary for his credit that he should have been present. The enquiry by the Immigration Board has terminated, and judement has   gone against him by default  

His account of the moral weakness of the captain, of the mutinous and impudent behaviour of the crew, and of the bad disposition of some few of the single women is, we believe, confirmed by the general tenor of the evidence taken before the Board, and this state of things unquestionably made his position a most delicate and difficult one. This is not denied, but it fails to justify the conduct with which he is charged. It would appear from his own version of the facts, that the access of the sailors to the female apartment took place mostly, if not entirely, prior to the visit to Pauillac, and was encouraged by the slenderness of the bulk head, and the confusion on board ; but that afterwards, when a new and stronger partition was built, and when the Matron's berth was shifted, this irregular conduct was put a stop to.

Mr. Rowland says that the Commissioners gave him authority to send back from Pauillac any girl who had criminally committed herself, but he declined to avail himself of the power. If he knew of any such case, he acted wrongly. His toleration might have been intended as a kindness to those who would thus have been exposed, but it was a gross injustice to the rest of the single women not to purify the ship when the opportunity presented itself. It is a cruel thing to shut virtuous young women up for three or four months with per sons of degraded character, and to force them into daily and hourly contact with corrupting influences. If improper persons had succeeded in securing a passage, it was Mr. Rowland's duty, when he found it out, to have cleared the ship of their presence, when he had the chance of doing so. He had no right to risk the consequences of retaining them, and to trust to his discipline to prevent misconduct. For even if that discipline had availed to check open improprieties, he could not have guarded against the evil and insidious effects of so baneful an influence upon the moral character of many of the passengers. An emigrant ship is not a reformatory, nor should it be used as such. Respectable emigrants will be loath to commit themselves to a voyage if they find that immoral associates will, through too careless an inspection, be shut up with them, or will be needlessly retained in the ship when discovered, from a misplaced tenderness for their reputation

But the difficulties which Mr. Rowland describes as occurring towards the close of the voyage, and which led him to inflict excessive punishment, do not seem to have been, at least directly, connected with the retention of these particular characters on board the ship. The insubordination complained of was not exhibited by those whose moral character is aspersed, nor had it any relation to the conduct of the crew. It was simply an exhibition of   temper and obstinacy which, however reprehensible and deserving of punishment, did not call for extreme rigour. It is pretty clear that both Matron and Surgeon were deficient in the art of managing unruly spirits, and probably both allowed themselves to be put out of temper under circumstances which specially required them to act guardedly. Mr. Rowland speaks as though he were ignorant of the effects of the handcuffs upon his prisoners. "If they really did suffer any pain   from them," he says " it must have been caused entirely by their own violent efforts to wrench their hands through them." If the statements already made public are to be believed, the wrists of at least one of them were in such a state after her release, as to have demanded im mediate attention on the part of the surgeon, so that ignorance on the point must, have been either impossible or culpable.

Mr. Rowland makes no reference to the two charges brought against him by the Commissioners, of being on several cases intoxicated, and of professional neglect in at least two in stances, from which it is to be inferred that he at least tacitly acknowledges their justice. If, however, he has been unfairly accused - if, in consequence of his absence, his own exculpatory evidence has not been allowed to modify the public judgement, he will still have opportunity to set himself right. We presume that his re-appearance in town will be the signal for the restoration of those actions that were abruptly stopped by his absence ; and that the Solicitor-General, who pathetically bewailed his departure, will, now that his whereabouts is once more known, favour him with a call