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PUBLIC OPINION IN THE EAST
ON THE SUBJECT OF
CAPTAIN DILLON'S VOYAGE,
THE OPPOSITION AND ILL TREATMENT HE EXPERIENCED
AT VAN DIEMEN'S LAND;
Testimonies of Approbution from the Asiatic Society of Bengal,
at its successful Result.
I have been prevailed on by the advice of several friends to print the following extracts from the public journals of Van Deimen's Land, New South Wales, and Bengal, regarding my voyage, as the best mode of shewing what are the opinions entertained on the subject in these distant countries, and of proving that the opposition, (I may rather say persecution) which I encountered in the outset, and which at one time threatened to prove fatal to the objects of the voyage, was condemned by the most enlightened and independent part of the community.
Remarks on Captain Dillon's Treatment at Van Deimer's
(From the TASMANIAN, May, 3, 1927.) We have published a report of the trial which has occupied so much discussion in the Supreme Court, against Captain Dillon, for an assault. We were much surprised to hear the Chief Justice state to the Jury, that the captain of this ship, belonging to the East-India Company, manned by the Company's officers, and fitted out as a discovery ship, was precisely similar to that of a merchant vessel from London to Van Deimen's Land. It may be true that the officers are not liable to be tried by martial law, but they will find, upon their return to Bengal, that they are liable to be tried under the Company's regulations, whose commission they hold. It does not follow, because a Jury have found Captain Dillon guilty of the assault, that the letter of Dr. Tytler may not be viewed in a different light by the Government at Bengal ; and if it should be so considered, it is quite clear what must be the result.
The Government of Bengal has evinced the greatest anxiety respecting the object of this expedition, which has cost them about £15,000. We cannot, therefore, for a moment believe that the ship Research was considered by any member of the Marine Board as only fit for a rice hulk, and that she would be lost on the rocks of Tucopia ; and to make such an assertion, which imputes a most criminal act on the part of the Bengal Government, would be one of the foulest libels ever published against it.
If the jury believed Dr. Tytler's letter to be true, and that Captain Dillon was mad, he ought, in our apprehension, to have been acquitted upon that ground; and if they believed the letter was not true, he was then entitled to an acquittal. From what fell from the Chief Justice, we expected the Jury would have found the facts specially; but, as it is, the verdict, and especially the sentence, excites a feeling of surprise.
We regret, for the sake of the objects of the expedition, so interesting to the civilized world, that the punishment had not been entirely of a pecuniary nature. The imprisonment of Captain Dillon for two months may destroy the expedition.
The King on the Prosecution of Dr. TYTLER, against
This case, which has occupied the attention of the court four days, and excited considerable interest, was for an assault and battery committed by the defendant on Dr. Tytler, on the 28th February last, and for confining him in prison up to the time of the arrival of the Research in the Derwent, on the 6th April last.
The facts which were proved by the examination of the prosecutor's witnesses, were as follows :
Captain Dillon having acquired some information at the Malicolo Islands respecting the fate of Count La Pérouse, communicated the particulars of his discoveries to the Supreme Government of Bengal, in the month of October last. In the month of November, the subject engaged the attention of the Asiatic Society, when it was determined that the Society should solicit the interference of Government.
The Supreme Government of Bengal entered fully into the views of Captain Dillon and of the Asiatic Society; and, being firmly persuaded of the truth of Captain Dillon's statement, resolved to equip a vessel under Captain Dillon's command, for the express purpose of procuring authentic information respecting the fate of Count La Pérouse and his associates, and for the purpose of procuring scientfic knowledge. Dr. Tytler was appointed surgeon to the ship, botanist, &c. &c.
The Honourable East-India Company's surveying ship Research, having been selected by the Marine Board as being properly adapted for this expedition, was commissioned for the purpose, and Captain Dillon appointed to command her.
About a fortnight before the Research sailed, Captain Dillon, was taken ill, and reported by Dr. Tytler to the Marine Board at Bengal to be labouring under delirium. The Board having required a report upon the subject, and also as to the probability of the malady impeding the object of the expedition, Drs. Savage and Adam were called in, who reported that it was only a temporary illness caused by severe cold.
A few days before the ship sailed from Diamond Harbour, some dispute took place between Dr. Tytler and Captain Dillon, respecting the provisions to be allowed to Mr. Hillawick the dresser, in which the Doctor accused the Captain of ungentlemanly conduct, and quitted the table with some warmth. The matter in dispute was referred to the Marine
Board, but no satisfactory explanation took place between the parties.
On the 230 January, the Research proceeded to sea, and on the following day the Doctor observed to Mr. Dudman, the third officer in the ship, that Captain Dillon was madthat he was eating chips, which was indicative of madness. Mr. Dudman entered the conversation in his log, which was seen by the Captain a few days afterwards. A day or two afterwards the Doctor observed at the cuddy table, after dinner, in the presence of the officers of the ship, that the Captain was mad.
On the 27th January, the Doctor introduced at the dinner table some conversation respecting the ship Research. He observed that Commodore Hayes's opinion was, that the ship was only fit for a rice hulk ; that she might slip down to Van Diemen's Land, but that she would go down in a gale of wind, or be lost on the rocks of Tucopia. Captain Dillon, highly offended at such observations being made in the presence
of his officers, left the cabin.
The latitude and longitude were presented daily to Dr. Tytler, for which he had given a receipt merely signed “R. Tytler, M.D.” On this day the receipt was signed “ Recorder of Proceedings to the Supreme Government." This put Captain Dillon in a great rage; he abused Doctor Tytler, called him scoundrel, &c. &c., and threatened him, if he ever addressed language at the table similar to what he had done that day, which was calculated to intimidate his officers, he would have him tied to the capstan and give him five dozen. The Captain accused the Doctor of mutiny, loaded his firearms, &c.
On the evening of the 27th day of January, Doctor Tytler wrote a letter to the chief officer, stating that he considered his life in danger; that it was his decided opinion the Captain was mad, and throwing himself upon the protection of him and his brother officers. The original letter was shewn to the other officers, and to Captain Speck (a passenger). Not a word was said to Captain Dillon respecting this letter until the 28th of February (the day the assault took place). The original letter was sworn to have been returned by Mr. to Dr. Tytler, about the 6th of February, and stated by Dr. Tytler to have been destroyed by him about six days afterwards, and no copy taken. Dr. Tytler however stated, from memory, that it was to the following effect :
“ To the Chief Officer of the H. E. 1. C. Ship Research.
“ Sir ;-In consequence of the dreadful scene which occurred this afternoon, when Captain Dillon came to the door
of my cabin, and used threats merely for sending him a receipt for the longitude and latitude, signed in a manner which, by my instructions from Government, I am perfectly justified in employing; together with his raving about the mouldering bones of the late Sir David Ochterlony, and his correspondence with me for the last three days, I have not the smallest doubt, in my mind, as to his being in a state of mental aberration, which occasionally bursts forth into violent fits and frantic madness. I conceive it therefore to be an imperative act, and official duty in me, to communicate this my recorded opinions to you, the result having fol. Howed from over excitement and exposure, as I predicted it might to the Marine Board at Calcutta. I accordingly leave it to you to confer with your brother officers as to the proper steps to be taken in this case generally, for the preservation of the ship and the lives of all on board. I throw myself upon you and the officers for protection. My own life and that of my son I consider especially in danger, my being in the cabin next to him, and he having conveyed loaded fire-arms into his room for some purpose unknown. Captain Dillon ought now to be confined in his cabin. and take medicine, and be bled and purged, otherwise I fear his malady will increase and become permanevit; and this I declare, before God, to be my solemn opinions communicated to you. I am, Şir, your most obedient servant,
(Signed) “ R. TYTLER, M. D." H. E. Ship Research, at sea, January, 1827.” Masters went on tolerably quiet until the 28th February, when
a dispute between the chief officer and Mr. Dudman was referred to Captain Dillon. Upon that occasion, Mr. D. tõld" the Captain there was a mutiny fore and aft the ship, and that if he had seen the Doctor's letter he would be satisfred of it. The Captain found from the chief officer, that the letter had been destroyed. He learnt from an officer that the copy made by him had also been destroyed; but he was informed that the Doctor had stated that he was mad, and that he ought to be confined to his cabin, and bled and purged profusely. Captain Dillon observed to his officers, that he must put a stop to this,--and went to the quarter-deck, laid his hand upon the Doctor's shoulder, put him under arrest, and sent him into his cabin. The Doctor remained under close arrest for two hours, during which time his arms were taken away. A letter was then read to him by the chief officer, informing him that he was at liberty to walk the decks as usual, but not to be allowed to hold any conversation with any officers of the ship. This permission was refused by the