|Lt.Palmer at British Columbia, Canada|
|Lt.Palmer at British Columbia, Canada|
|Mrs. H.S. Palmer (1861)|
|Lt.General, Sir Henry James, R.E.|
|Captain Palmer at Sinai Peninsula 1|
|Captain Palmer at Sinai Peninsula 2|
|Rev. & Mrs. Peter Walker|
(Former Bishop of Cathedral at Ely)
|Sir George Airy, Astronomer Royal|
Henry Spencer Palmer was born on April 30, 1838, at Bangalore1, East India, his father being the late Colonel John Freke Palmer, of Madras Staff Corps, and his mother Jane, the daughter of John James, Esquire of Truro, Cornwall, and sister of Lieutenant General, Sir Henry James, Royal Engineers.
He was the third son but he lost his mother within one month after his birth.
He was educated at a private school at Bath (his father lived there after he retired from East India Company's service) and was educated by private tutors at Woolwich and Plumstead.
In January 1856, he successfully competed his studies for admission to the Practical Class of the Royal Military Academy gaining the 7th place among the 40 successful candidates.
He was the youngest of them all, being indeed, under the prescribed age (18-20), an exception having been made in his case by the authorities.
On graduating Woolwich at the end of the same year, he obtained the second place, chiefly owing to proficiency in mathematics and surveying, in which subjects he was far ahead of other classmates.
Henry Spencer Palmer was gazetted a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers on December 20, 1856, and was stationed to Chatham.
He spent a year at the School of Military Engineering there in the usual course of young Engineer officers and then about nine months as a company officer at Portsmouth with district duty on the Isle of Wight.
Lieutenant Palmer was appointed on September 1858 to the British Columbian Expedition, under Colonel R.C. Moody, R.E. 2 who had been appointed Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works for that Colony.
Let the writer introduce the prevailing conditions in British Columbia at the time of 1858, by referring to a portion of the article titled The Royal Engineers British Columbian Detachment, their work in helping to establish British Columbia written by Kathereen S. Weeks, which appeared in Canadian Geographical Journal -July 1943. It is as follows;
Fifty years of peaceful trading came to an abrupt end with the finding of placer gold in the Fraser and Thompson rivers.Following is an excerpt of Sir Lytton's farewell speech to the detachment sent to British Columbia.
It was not until the spring of 1858 that the real gold rush began; by this time the stories of the finding of gold had spread far and wide.
Men came in their thousands to Victoria, the last place from which supplies could be obtained.
Between June 5 and July 8, nineteen ships had brought some 30,000 men to that port, transforming it from a peaceful pioneer settlement into a metropolis of tents.
The new-found mineral wealth of British Columbia had attracted from California some of the most reckless rascals gold has ever given birth to.
Strolling about the canvas streets of Victoria might be seen men whose names were in the black book of the Vigilance Committee of San Francisco.
James Douglas, Chief Factor for the Hudson Bay Company and Governor of Vancouver Island, with his conservative company training and experience, was alarmed at this influx of men of such varied types pouring into a country which was absolutely without the means of enforcing order, or of maintaining a flow of supplies for the feeding of such a multitude.
In the Colonial Secretary of that day, Sir Edward Bulwar Lytton3, Douglas had a wise and understanding adviser.
In Lytton British Columbia found a firm friend, a man who had the vision to see what the Colony become and the wisdom to advise those who had to grapple with the problems so suddenly confronting them.
Speaking in the House of Commons on July 8, 1858, Lytton urged the necessity of an immediate measure to secure this promising and noble territory from becoming the scene of turbulent disorder, and to place over the fierce passions which spring from a hunger of gold the restraints of establishing law.
A few days later Lytton wrote to Douglas telling him of his decision to send to the Colony a detachment of the Royal Engineers; he was thinking not only of establishing law and order, but of developing with all speed the resources of the country.
On July 31, 1858, Lytton wrote; <It will devolve upon them (The Engineers) to survey those parts of the country which may be considered most suitable for settlement to mark out allotments of land for public purposes, to suggest a site for the seat of government, to point out where roads should be made, and to render you such assistance as may be in their power.
This force is sent for scientific and practical purposes, and not solely for military objects.>
In all, six officers and 150 non-commissioned officers and men were selected for this service, thirty of them brought their wives and families from a much larger number who volunteered, and we were told that the chosen included surveyors, astronomers, engineers, draughtsmen, architects, accountants, clerks, printers, lithographers, carpenters, boat-builders, masons, bricklayers, blacksmiths, shoemakers, tailors, in fact, men of every trade and calling.
Soldiers, you are going to a distant country, not, I trust, to fight against men, but to conquer nature; not to besiege cities, but to create them; not to overthrow kingdoms, but to assist in establishing new communities under the sceptre of your own Queen.This dignified speech delivered by Sir Lytton must have given deepest impression to the heart of young Palmer who had just started his career.
For those noble objects, you, soldiers of the Royal Engineers, have been specially selected from the ranks of Her Majesty's armies.
Wherever you go, you carry with you not only English valour and English loyalty, but English intelligence and English skill.
Wherever a difficulty is to be encountered, which requires in the soldier not only courage and discipline, but education and science, sappers and miners, the Sovereign of England turns with confidence to you.
If this were the service of danger and bloodshed, I know that on every field, and against all odds, the honour of the English arms would be safe from a stain in your hands; but in that distant region to which you depart, I hope that our national flag will wave in peaceful triumph, on many a Royal birthday, from walls and church towers which you will have assisted to raise from the wilderness, and will leave to remote generations as the bloodless trophies of your renown.
Soldiers! You will be exposed to temptation.
You go where gold is discovered, where avarice inflames all the passions.
But I know that the voice of duty and the love of honour will keep you true to our officers, and worthy of the trust which your Sovereign places in her Royal Engineers.
(1) He should give immediate attention to means of transport by land and water.The last detachment of Royal Engineers for service in British Columbia sailed finally from the Downs at 10 p.m. on Sunday, October 17, on board the clipper ship Thames City, 557 tons, commanded by Captain Glover.
(2) Report on the unification of British interests on the Pacific.
(3) Report on harbours of the Colony and the existence of all minerals, especially, coal, and on fisheries, timber, oil and agriculture.
(4) Keep his force from drink.
(5) Show courtesy and tact for all foreigners.
(6) Work harmoniously with the Governor.
(7) See the Colony was self supporting.
(8) Survey the land most needed and send full reports on permanent settlement as the Home Authorities wished to establish responsible government as soon as possible.
We know, all of us, that of our duties to one another, the chief is at all times, and never more so in our own cases than now, a constant feeling of brotherly love and kindness, a resolution to avoid offence, a desire to please and be pleased, and a readiness to contribute, each in his ability, to the common fund of content and cheerfulness. ---------By reading these sentences, we cannot help feeling inspired by the fine spirit of the young editors.
As one means towards this desired end, a thoughtful friend on shore, whose name should be held in honour, among us, has provided us with the means of establishing a small Newspaper, to be kept by our own contributions.
Let us set about it with good will and heartiness.
Some little amusement and instruction will be sure to follow.
Any trifling matter recorded now it will be a pleasure to refer to hereafter as a memorial of the peaceful and happy days of our voyage, contrasted with the turmoil and excitement, that await us in the Colony of British Columbia.
In conclusion, we earnestly appeal to all interested in our success to give their hearty support to this interesting publication, and feel sure that provided each does his best the production of the rare talent hitherto lying dormant on board the Thames City cannot fail to ensure a long life and glorious success to the Emigrant Soldiers' Gazette and Cape Horn Chronicle.
Editorials - Natural History - Correspondences -Among them, Lieutenant Palmer's Natural History of the voyage in series of 17 weeks was very popular.
Naval and Military intelligence - Birth - To
Correspondents - Songs and Poems - Charades -
Conundrums - Jokes &c.
The study of Nature is one which ought to interest the most listless of observers at all times, but if there is one time more calculated than another to inspire man with reflections on the wonders and beauties of the world we live in, and fill his mind with feelings of gratitude towards the Architect of the Universe for his bountiful goodness in arranging all things for the good of his creatures, it is when like ourselves, he is on a long voyage traversing the vast and boundless ocean, where at times nothing is discernible around him but the wide circumference of water and the vast canopy of Heaven apparently meeting the waters at the boundary commonly known as the horizon.And he started his series treating the following subjects;
With the exception of the ship beneath our feet, we are entirely surrounded by natural objects.
We have beneath and around us the briny deep calm, and unruffled at one moment, boisterous, foaming, and angry at another, we have over our heads the spacious firmament at times presenting one beautiful rich blue even curtain, and at others displaying the most dismal looking black clouds, forewarning us of the heavy rains, furious winds and tempestuous seas.
Then again we cannot help feeling interested in the animated creatures which constantly present themselves to our view.
Scarcely a day passes without our attention being called to some poor little wandering bird whose appearance is as unexpected as it is mysterious, or to some one of the numerous finny tribes which frequently follow vessels for several hours at a time in the hope of picking up scraps of food for their subsistence, and which in the clear waters of the southern seas are visible many feet below the ship's keel.
Now, though we all of us more or less see and observe these objects, still how few there are who think of enquiring into their nature and habits, and who ask themselves why and wherefore the winds blow, the waves rise, the clouds form, the rain falls, & c.
The object of our paper being to afford us all amusement, instruction, and useful information as will tend to illustrate the nature and habit of such fish and birds as may happen to come across us during the week, and the causes and effects of the various natural phenomena which will constantly present themselves in the course of our voyage, constituting in fact a <Journal of the Natural History of the Voyage>.
(1) Trade winds.In the final number of the Natural History, he wrote as follows;
(2) The phosphorescence or luminosity of the sea medusae.
(3) General character of the Ocean, its saltness, temperature, depth, pressure, formation of waves.
(4) Huge whale to the luminous animalculae
(5) Stormy petrel, sea swallow
(6) Majestic albatross, penguins.
(7) Bonitos, pilot fish, flying fish, porpoises, and whales
(8) The classifications of the animal creation into divisions, classes and orders.
(9) Thunder and lightning, electric fluid.
The object of these articles on the Natural History of the Voyage has been to direct the attention of the student of Nature to the consideration of a few of the many objects of interest more or less directly connected with the sea, and, by describing the causes and effects of those phenomena which from time to time come under our notice, to lead the mind to contemplate the beauty and grandeur of the world in which we live, and to impress us with the infinite power and wisdom displayed in the miracles of nature by the Creator of the Universe.As the journal was found very popular among the emigrants, they were later printed at the Printing Office in New Westminster in British Columbia in 1863 and distributed to many applicants.
It is to be hoped that the subject has proved worthy of interest, and that not a few will be found prosecuting their researches in Natural History in the new Colony to which we are bound, and which by all accounts teems with objects for the study of the Naturalist, who will undoubtedly be amply repaid for any exertions which he may deem fit to make towards acquiring a knowledge of Nature, and an acquaintance with God's creatures.
The speakers commenced to relate their reminiscences of the long voyage of six months that <The Thames City> took to bring them to this fair land of British Columbia.
<Do you remember when we came out with our fathers and mothers in The Thames City, we were very little chaps then?>
<Wasn't there a young chap-Lieutenant Palmer, I think his name was.
He was a regular swell. They said he was the Assistant Editor of the Gazette and I think he must have been, for there were many interesting scientific articles in the paper which I think must have been written by him, for he was a clever fellow. I have heard it said that he was a wonderful man at figures, could add up pounds, shillings and pence all at once, just run his fingers up the three columns of figures and tell you the total, in a jiffy.> <Some of the fellows used to think that Doctor Seddall, the men called him 'Bouncer,' was a frequent contributor to the paper; perhaps he might have been the author of those articles on the Natural History of the voyage. --- Yes, perhaps, he was, but if he did not write them, either Captain Luard, Lieutenant Palmer, or the Parson did.
Anyway, whoever wrote them, don't you think they were cleverly written?
Their name stands identified with nearly all the important public works of the Colony, either as engineers, mechanics or operatives.Now for Lieutenant Palmer, immediately after arrival, he was assigned to the Surveying Unit under the command of Captain Parsons, R.E., and actively engaged in the construction of the New Colony with the spirit of ideal and passion. During this service, he made surveys and explorations, some of them, of considerable extent. In the summer of 1862, 24 year old Palmer was chosen to carry out an extensive survey of the Cariboo district and at the same time examine and report on the proposed Bentinck Arm Road.
They have made their marks and it will be seen by future generations whether in throwing a pathway across a foaming torrent, or cutting a highway through the towering mountains of everlasting rock. A summary of the work done makes an imposing catalogue; in addition to all important explorations and surveys, both inland and of the whole peninsula between the Fraser River and Burrad Inlet, they had surveyed all townsites and all mainroads, building parts of most roads and many miles of trails. Almost all the maps were made from their surveys, prepared in their draughting office, lithographed and printed by them. They founded the Colony's first building Society in 1862, designed the first hospital. The Government Printing Office, the Department of Lands and Works, an observatory, and the taking of meteorological observations all came under their care. They also designed the first coat of arms and postage stamps for the Colony. Colonel Moody, in addition to being Commissioner for Lands and Works, also held a dormant commission as Lieutenant-Governor. He and his force were an unbounded influence for good in a new land, doing their best to help forward every moral and religious movement, to support missionary work and everything that would improve social conditions.
(1) To proceed by the first opportunity to North Bentinck Arm and after laying out a townsite, and Indian reserve and mapping the location of all buildingsHe and his little party were only saved from massacre by the Bella Coola 4 Indians, at North Bentinck Arm, by his own coolness, address and knowledge of the Indian character.
(2) To travel as soon as possible along the proposed road to the Junction of Swift River and the Fraser, altering the line as he may think proper
(3) To examine and report on the lines of communication in the Cariboo district and lay out reserves for several townsites
(4) To return to New Westminster by way of the proposed line of the Cariboo Waggon Road and map it and report thereon.
Obviously Governor Douglas was very fortunate that Lord Lytton had dispatched the Royal Engineers to the Colony so promptly.For reference purposes, the writer would like to quote on the comment on Palmer by Douglas as follows;
He was less fortunate in the appointment of Colonel Moody as commanding officer and Lieutenant Governor.
Fortunately Governor Douglas was of a strong character and would not brook Moody's interference nor Moody's attempts to by-pass Douglas when reporting matters to London.
Moody's disrespect for the non-elitist Governor culminated in the Governor declining to communicate directly with Moody.
Douglas's disdain for Moody was not matched by Palmer's apparent affection for his commanding officer, judging by Palmer by Palmer's correspondence.
Or was this further evidence of Palmer's astuteness and discipline?
Lt. Palmer is an exceedingly clever young officer who, being on the spot and faut de mieux, might make a good successor to Colonel Moody in the office of Chief Commissioner of Lands.As to Palmer's activities, Mr. Fleming writes as follows;
Having carried out his Harrison-Lillooet7 survey in summer of 1859 and his Fort Hope to Fort Colville survey in autumn of 1859, Lieutenant Palmer became active in superintending roadbuilding locally until Governor Douglas decided to commence construction of the Cariboo Waggon Road in the summer of 1861.Palmer also actively participated in various cultural activities; such as drama played by the Royal Engineers.
A further interruption was caused by Palmer's North Bentinck Arm to Fort Alexandria survey in the summer of 1862 and its continuation to the Cariboo gold fields in the autumn of 1862.
Work on the Cariboo Waggon Road then continued until the Royal Engineers were disbanded and departed for England on November 11th 1863.
a few miles from
the location of the story
You want me to tell you something of the early days of the adventure of my gallant husband, who as Lieutenant Palmer of the Royal Engineers, is still, I am happy to know, remembered by the people of British Columbia.Incidentally, Vancouver of British Columbia, the initial site of Palmer's achievements throughout his life and Yokohama of Japan, the site of his last achievements, are miraculously related to each other today as sister cities.
He had many adventures and narrow escapes in those colourful days on the early sixties when we and the country were young.
But I will tell you of an amusing and at the same time dangerous experience he had on the Palmer trail, where it runs through the valley of the Bella Coola.
It was in 1862, before our marriage.
He bade me goodbye, telling me he had been detailed to continue his work of finding a new route, via Bella Coola into the Cariboo country.
He left New Westminster for the north on the old Enterprise.
Camped in Bella Coula
On arriving at Bella Coola, he was warned that the Indian villages were infested with smallpox, and, with the one sapper, a fine man named Edwards, who was accompanying him, pushed on up the valley where they camped.
They caught a fine salmon, and next morning Edwards asked Lieutenant Palmer how he would have it cooked.
"I have not had a salmon steak for some time. We will fry one now," responded the Lieutenant.
A fine salmon was cut and the steak was placed on the frying pan over the fire.
Lieutenant Palmer undertook to superintend the frying while Edwards busied himself with other preparations for the meal.
Suddenly, the officer's elbow was struck, and over went the frying pan, upsetting the salmon into the fire.
Indian boy caught in the bush
Another steak was cut and again he set about frying it, squatting down beside the fire.
It was browning nicely when once more his elbow was jostled and the frying pan upset.
This time he looked quickly about and saw a brown hand being withdrawn into the bush.
He sprang towards the place and caught a young Indian lad, who, he cuffed and allowed to go.
The youth ran away crying at the top of his voice and unmolested the frying was continued.
A little later Edwards looked up, and then exclaimed;
"Indians, sir, and they are all armed."
Lieutenant Palmer looked up and sure enough the whole place seemed to be swarming with natives, all armed with muskets, spears and knives.
He knew that if you could excite an Indian's curiosity he would not act until he was satisfied.
Springing up, he seized his gold-braided cap, and placed it on this head, and then started to whirl about and jump up and down as if demented.
The Indians stayed their attack.
They gazed in open-mouthed wonder at the strange antics of this decorated King George tyee.
Stopping his mad capers as quickly as he had started them, Lieutenant Palmer shouted out in Chinook, asking the chiefs what they wanted.
"We've come to kill you," was the surly answer of the head chief.
Death for cutting salmon's backbone
"Why" demanded Lieutenant Palmer.
"I don't mind being killed, but I would like to know the reason for it."
"You cut the backbone of a salmon," accused the chief.
"And that will make the Salmon God angry and he won't send any more fish."
"What?" demanded the Lieutenant, "Have you only one God who controls the salmon?"
The old chief nodded.
"I have two," asserted the Lieutenant.
"I have the Saghalie Tyee, up above.
He knows everything.
Then there is another, but it takes six months to go to her (Queen Victoria).
I am sorry if I offended by cutting the backbone of the salmon, but I'll go and make it right with the god whom I am telling you about.
She will arrange it that you will have twice as many salmons as before.
I'll fix that for you."
The Indians were impressed and delighted.
They went away in gay good humour.
Presently Edwards called out.
"They are coming back sir, but this time they have their women with them and they are all decorated."
It was so.
The whole of the village appeared to be in the procession that was coming, led by the head chief, who had on his ceremonial robes, and was accompanied by two young women.
Chief offered officer highest honor
When he came up to Lieutenant Palmer, he delivered a long address in Chinook, the purport of which was that they wanted him to come and live with them and become one of their chiefs.
The chief concluded his talk by presenting his two daughters to Lieutenant Palmer to become his wives.
In telling of his experience later Lieutenant Palmer said he did not know whether he did not prefer that the Indian carried out the purpose of their first visit.
But his presence of mind, and quickness of thought, did not desert him.
He went forward to the native beauties, and touched one of them, onthe forehead, and then, exclaimed at her beauty and evident charms.
Such a wife, he declared, was fitting of the highest rank.
Then he touched the forehead of her sister, and spoke most flatteringly of her also.
The old chief was pleased indeed.
The Indians were jubilant.
Then Lieutenant went on to explain that he would have first to obtain the permission of the goddess of whom he had spoken.
If she disapproved, it would mean that he would not have the blankets and idktas so necessary for a chief who was to acquire two beautiful wives.
Then again, if he married without permission, it might mean that in her anger the goddess would not send any salmon at all.
And his first duty was to see that the salmon runs were preserved.
He added his talk by advising the chief to keep the girls in comfort, and away from the prying eyes of any white men who might come, until his return.
This satisfied the chief and his followers, and after shaking hands all round they departed, while Lieutenant Palmer and Edwards lost no time in making their way up the valley as fast as they could from the village where lurked the dual dangers of death and matrimony.
that there is a great need of such Survey must be manifest to all students of Old Testament history; among the most important and interesting questions which are now subjects of inquiry, and on which it may be hoped that much additional light would be thrown by the proposed Survey, may be specifiedEntirely agreeing with him, Palmer approached Major-General, Sir Henry James8, Director-General of Ordnance Survey, and sent him a written application for the plan.
The Passage of the Red Sea.
The Route and encampment of the Israelites.
The identification of the Mountain of the Law-giving.
Those who have given careful attention to these and many other points of interest connected with the Desert of Sinai must be aware how far from complete and how seriously the testimony of even the best maps tends to embarrass the student of this section of Biblical History by its imperfectness.
(1) Special Survey to be made of Jebel Musa and Jebel Serbal, the "rival" mountains as they were called, for the honour of being the Mount Sinai of the Bible.As it was considered necessary that the Expedition should set out from this country no later than the end of October so that the Survey might be completed before the return of the hot weather in spring, the surveying party, including Mr. Holland, embarked for Alexandria in the Peninsular and Oriental Company's steamer Ripon on October 24, 1868, and arrived in Suez on November 8 and at Ayun Musa (the wells of Moses) on the 12th.
The surveys to be carried out with scrupulous care, and in such detail that accurate models of both mountains could be made from them.
(2) After the special surveys, a geographical survey should be made in the first place, of the district between Suez and Jebel Musa, including all main routes to Jebel Serbal and Jebel Musa, and then of as much of the remainder of the Peninsula as time would admit of.
(3) A special survey to be made also of the Convent of St. Katherins.
(1) the passage of the Red SeaAnd all member returned safely homeland in May 1869.
(2) the routes and encampments of the Israelites in Sinai
(3) the identifications of the Mountain of the Law-Giving, all mentioned in the Old Testament history
I hope I said enough to prove that sacred geography had an important function to perform as an handmaid to Divine Truth, by confirming where necessary and illustrating the narrative of Holy Scripture.
The Sinaistic Peninsula in its physical character answered in a most remarkable degree what they should expect to find from the accounts therein contained, and the result of such inquiries, if conducted in an honest and humble spirit, so far as they might go, serve to establish beyond doubt the literal accuracy and fidelity of the Inspired Book of God.
To the magnificent volumes, published by the Authority in 1872, under the title of ORDNANCE SURVEY OF PENINSULA OF SINAI (1869), with the special budget amounting to 500 pounds, which were the fruits of that Expedition, Captain Palmer contributed largely some two-fifths of the descriptive matter, together with the computation of the astronomical and other works of the survey, the drawings of several of the maps and the part editing of the whole work having fallen to his share.
The report consists of five massive folio volumes of which one contained the letter-press accounts, while three are filled with photographs and the fifth with maps and plans.
The descriptive matter was enriched by articles, such as;
Preface by Major-General Sir Henry James F.R.S. Introduction by Rev. G. Williams, B.D., titled On the Exodus, and the necessity which existed for having an accurate survey to elucidate and its history & etc.,Let the writer introduce the portion of Captain Palmer's description in Volume 1, Chapter IV as follows;
Our last march across El Gaah was one which I am sure none of us will easily forget.
It was performed at night, on one of those nights seldom seen except in the Desert, calm and intensely still, the sky perfectly cloudless, with a moon of surpassing brilliancy, paling the stars, illuminating hill and sea and plain, and casting our shadows far back over the waste.
Men and animals wound sleepily, almost noiselessly, along; before and around us stretched the blank barren plain; beyond it the glittering sea; beyond, the gaunt shadowy outlines of the mountains of Sinai, amid which we had spent more than four months of hard, but pleasant, and, as we hoped, useful work.
The Times dated September 26, 1872, gave three columns for reviewing the newly-published ORDNANCE SURVEY OF PENINSULA OF SINAI in which The Times quoted three passages on the conclusive and scientific evidence of Jebel Musa as the Mountain of Law Giving which Captain Palmer wrote in the said Report.
Palmer was very pleased with it (the fact that his writings were quoted in The Times and he made a ballad titled A Virtue Rewarded as follows;
VIRTUE REWARDED - A BALLADAs Ordnance Survey of Peninsula of Sinai (1869), the official Report of the Expedition, was so voluminous and costly that it was beyond the reach of most readers. Hence, Captain Palmer hoped for the publication of its popular edition, and obtained the permission of Major-General Sir Henry James, Director-General of Ordnance Survey Office. And on March 1878, this popular edition was published in 215 pages from the Society of Promoting Christian Knowledge with the title of Sinai11 as one of the series of Ancient History from the Monuments, while hewas staying in London on his way from Barbados to Hongkong. In the edition, he efficiently arranged the booklet in 6 chapters. viz.,
It was a great Archbishop,
On his Cathedral throne,
The oiliest Archbishop,
The Church hath ever known.
He read "The Sinai Survey,"
And laughed aloud with glee,
They'll want to know who wrote it,
And p'haps they'll think it's me.
It was the Poet Laureate,
With laurels on his brow,
Ho, bring me here my "Times" he said,
I fain would read it now.
He read the "Sinai Survey"
Now by the Table Round
No language like this article
Can in my works be found
Men call me sweetest songster.
They vote me quite divine,
But I would give my Laurel Crown
Were those three columns mine.
It was the Duke of Cambridge,
A mighty man was he,
On Salisbury Plain, amid the rain,
He fights right merrily
On Aide de Camp and General,
Who to my orders yield,
Come lay a copy of the "The Times"
Upon the tented field
He read the "Sinai Survey,"
And tore his hair with rage,
Now did I think the Royal George,
The Phoenix of the age.
But by far the War Department,
And by our autumn fight,
The greatest man in England,
Is he who thus can write.
It was the Times Reviewer,
Was dining with the Queen,
(Where ever since a knife and fork,
Have at his service been)
Now welcome bold Reviewer.
For by this Royal hand,
Thou art the ablest writer,
In all our English land.
Thy welfare and thy children's
Shall be our Royal care,
Rise up Sir Times Reviewer
Of Printing House its Square.
1) Description of the countryAs previously explained, after Captain Palmer returned to Ordnance Survey Office in Tunbridge, from the Sinai Expedition in 1869, he occupied himself in preparing the official report and lecturing on the Expedition for a couple of years.
2) Climate of the country
4) The people
5) Ancient Monument and Remains and early history
6) On the topography and other circumstances of the Exodus
The writer had known from Dictionary of National Biography by Oxford University Press that, in 1874, Henry Spencer Palmer went to New Zealand as the chief of N.Z. Observation Party for the Transit of Venus.
In June 1985, the writer visited The Airy Archives12 in the compound of Royal Observatory in Hurstmonceux in East Sussex, England.
Fortunately enough, he could discover, with the assistance of a volunteer student of the University of London, from the bulk of old files, the letters written by Palmer addressed to Sir George Airy, Astronomer Royal and Captain Tupman, then chief of British Observation Party for the Transit of Venus in 1874.
He obtained necessary copies in due course and could finally grasp the whole movements of Palmer during 1873/4 for the observation of the Transit of Venus.
For your information, the writer would like to quote from the writings of A.J. Meadows on the Transit of Venus in the book titled Greenwich Observatory (1975) as follows;
Transit of Venus across the solar disc occur in pairs spaced eight years apart, with over a century elapsing between successive pairs. Though the 18th century pair, in 1761 and 1769, had proved disappointing for the measurement of solar parallax, it was felt that the technical advances in astronomy made since then should help ensure the success of observations of the next pair in 1874 and 1882. All the leading astronomical nations therefore began preparations for the first of these transits; in the U.K., the organization of the expeditions devolved on Airy, the Astronomer Royal of Royal Greenwich Observatory. The first decision had to be where the expedition should be placed, and this, in turn, depended on the observing technique adopted. The 18th century transit observations had used a method devised by Halley, which required observations of Venus at ingress and egress. Airy, however, felt that the transit of Venus of 1874 would best be observed by an alternative method proposed by Delisle, which only required observations of Venus at one limb of the Sun. When Airy announced his decision, he came under heavy fire from some of his fellow astronomers in Britain, especially R.A. Proctor, then a leading member of the Royal Astronomical Society. Ultimately, and reluctantly, Airy gave way a little, and allowed for both methods of observations to be attempted. The overall result was that British parties were placed at strategic intervals across the Pacific (The area of the world from which the transit could best be seen).
In March 1873, Palmer was recommended to the Astronomer Royal by Admiral G.H. Richards, then hydrographer to the Admiralty for a chief astronomership in the enterprise for observing the transit of Venus.
Sir George soon afterwards nominated him as chief of the new Zealand party as Palmer by then, well known to have many years of experiences in British Columbia in Canada, in the Peninsula of Sinai, and in England in the field of astoronomy, and ordnance survey.
For this service, Palmer, in August 1873, moved from the Ordnance Survey Office at Tunbridge Wells to the officers' quarters in the Naval Academy at Greenwich and received a course of practical preparations at the Royal Observatory for about ten months.
He was nominated Major, having been promoted to that rank in December 1873.
His appointment on the Ordnance Survey was relinquished on May 31, 1874, after 10-1/4 years of service.
At about this time, in January 1874, he wrote a letter to Capt. Tupman, his best friend, as follows;
Dear Tupman,The Times dated April 6, 1874 published the article written about the preparation for the Observation of the Transit of Venus in 1874. (In Yokohama, Japan, The Japan Weekly Mail dated December 6, 1874 reprinted it in complete form.)
The Times have agreed with me to write an article on the Transit of Venus preparations and I am going to ask you to be so kind as to give me a little of your valuable help and advice.
It is a chance people don't often get, and it should be a pity not to make the most of it, and I am sure your help and advice will be of the utmost value.
I send you a rough draft of what I have written which perhaps you will look through, if you can make it out and if you have time, tomorrow morning, I think I shall send 3 columns (4,800 words) which will allow of about another page besides those already written.
Pray keep the Times news a strict secret.
Any amateur astronomer competent to undertake independent observation at places distant from Christchurch will have a great facility of personal communication with the observatory party, so as to obtain hints as to the surest mode of working, by which they can give substantial and reliable assistance.
On November 18, Major Palmer also distributed the bulletin titled The Transit of Venus 1874 which he wrote for the convenience of the observers at various stations.
And the party and amateur astronomers waited for the Big Day, December 9, after completion of all the necessary preparations.
But Alas!!, as the cable despatched by Major Palmer to Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airy quotes
ENGLISH NOTHING VALUABLE ANYWHERE CLOUDS AMERICANS GETS INGRESS AND PHOTOGRAPHS TILL NEAR THIRD CONTACT EGRESSThe weather was so cloudy in New Zealand at the critical phase of the Transit on December 9, that, though every phenomenon that could be seen was carefully observed and noted by Major Palmer, he believed and reported that his observations were valueless.
The preliminary phenomena which it was found were most to be relied upon, had been very well observed by him.
Let the writer introduce a portion of the letter sent by Palmer to Cap. Tupman on December 21, 1874 as follows;
Many thanks for your letter from which I am glad to hear that all was going well with you and your party, and I only hope that on the 9th your exertions were covered with perfect success.
We, alas, as you may have heard, had a day of desperate weather and could do nothing at all.
I saw the sun for a few seconds at a time in several glimpses while ingress was going on, but so faintly that I could only just make out the Limb without any covered shade.
Micrometer work was absolutely impossible, and at second contact everything was hidden.
There was a finer interval about a quarter of an hour after ingress when Darwin got about 20 photos and I some (probably useless) measures of Limbs.
Then the sun wasn't seen again till 10 minutes after fourth contact.
The Jansen could not be tried at ingress because no image of the sun could be got to plant the instrument on.
It is a bitter disappointment to us all, as you may suppose.
We were perfectly prepared and fit and only waited a decent day.
I am sorry for Sir George Airy too, to whom each failure must be a source of worry and disappointment.
What made our luck even worse, was that in my five stations, distributed over both islands, and covering a range of 650 miles of country, were all as unfortunate as myself and saw neither contact.
I had given a great deal of time and trouble to these stations, as I found several good instruments and observers in the country, and was glad to press them into the service, and coach the men so as to multiply our chances of success.
Concerning the observation of the Transit of Venus in 1874, as far as Japan is concerned, observing parties from various countries; viz., France, United States of America and Mexico, arrived in Nagasaki, Kobe, and Yokohama and busied themselves in the preparations for the Big Day.
Japan was in her infancy in the field of the astronomical observations and Hydrographic Bureau of the Japanese Navy was the only one government Office that specialized in it.
Captain Yanagi, Director of the Hydrographic Office of the Japanese Navy, utilizing this opportunity, is said to have undertaken to let his officers accompany the foreign experts who visited Japan so that they may learn the observing techniques and obtain information on various brand-new observing instruments, books, celestial maps and so forth.
Japan herself, observed the Transit of Venus at the naval Observatory in Iikura, Azabu and Gotenyama in Tokyo and in Hakodate.
In Yokohama, five experts of the Mexican party established the observing stations at Iseyama and on the Bluff in the Foreign Settlement.
While Major Palmer failed to observe the Transit of Venus in New Zealand due to bad weather, the Mexican party was successful in the observation on December 9 thanks to very fine weather.
Palmer wrote a memorandum concerning the recommendations in eleven clauses for the coming Transit of Venus in 1882 and furnished (date unknown) it to the Astronomer Royal of Greenwich Observatory, Sir George Airy.
In it, concerning the weather, he suggested to immediately apply the New Zealand Government to have observations made and recorded at a number of points in the Colony on December 5, 6, 7, for seven years from 1875 to 1881, to ascertain the amount of cloud at 6, 8, 10 am, or such other hours as may be preferred; the registers of these observations to be sent to the Astronomer Royal.
The writer understands that Palmer furnished the memorandum from his own steady character so that he may be successful in the observation on the second Transit of Venus in 1882 which is the last chance left in his life.
In fact, he wrote several letters to Sir Airy asking to volunteer for new Zealand Party in 1882.
Before leaving new Zealand, Major Palmer, at the request of the Governor, the Marquis of Normanby, undertook an investigation of the provincial surveys throughout the Colony with the view of advising the Government as to the best means of evolving order out of the chaos that then existed, and of placing the whole future system on a uniform, intelligent, and scientific basis.
Between three and four months were given to this work, at the end of which Major Palmer submitted a Blue Book Report embodying his results and recommendations, for which he was warmly thanked by the Government, and which was adopted as the guide to subsequent reforms.
On his way back to England, he called at Campbell Island, a French territory, and helped its latitude determinations.
He finally returned home on June 4, 1875.
Major Palmer worked for a few months under the Astronomer Royal, reducing his observations and preparing his report.
Returning to Corps duties, he found himself at the head of the roster for foreign service, and he obtained furlough until November 1875.
Palmer, staying in London during the furlough, wrote two letters to Captain Tupman.
In his letter of September 14, he wrote as follows;
You spoke some little time since of having a sum of 600 or 700 pounds which you wished to invest at 5%, and I suggested to you that I might be glad to borrow such a sum on those terms if I should go to New Zealand in order to get an outfit & etc.
It is now morally certain that I shall go out, and I am arranging with that view, and I write to say that if the money is still disengaged, I shall be very glad to borrow it for such period as may be most agreeable to yourself.
My two half brothers, Major-General Palmer and Captain Palmer, would, I know, be perfectly willing to become my securities (executing a joint bond with me for repayment) so that the money would be entirely safe; and as a precaution in the event of my death, they would be protected by a life policy securing the amount to them. Let me know what you think of this. Can you come down next Saturday, or Saturday week? (p.s. If the whole 700 pounds is not available, perhaps 500 pounds is.)
In his second letter to Cap. Tupman, dated October 27, he wrote as follows;
New Zealand after all is put off another year, and the War Office ordered me to Barbados, which, in this beastly weather, seems less dreadful, than it might do otherwise.
I write this to ask you if you will kindly send to me at Barbados, West Indies, a presis of the final results for longitude of our station at Burnham, when they are known, as I promised the Colonial Society I would get the information for them.
I am afraid I shall not be able to run down to Greenwich before I start, so I will say goodbye and goodluck to you.
I hope we may meet again before very long.
After posting the above letter of October 27, on his way to his new post in Barbados, he called on Southborough to pick up his family.
With Mrs. Palmer and their two younger children, they departed for Barbados.
The following letter which Major Palmer wrote to his friend Captain Tupman dated January 10, 1876, clearly expresses his mental state at this stage of his career.
My dear Tupman,On March 20, 1876, Major Palmer in Barbados contributed a small treatise titled On determinations of geographical positions in West Indies and Central America to the Royal Astronomical Society.
You probably heard that I had a heavy disappointment just at the last, when I was daily expecting the actual application for me to go out to New Zealand, certain political exigencies having compelled the N.Z. Government towards the closure of the session to abandon their intention of bringing in a Bill for a trigonometrical survey and getting me appointed.
Consequently, I had to resume Corp's duty when my leave expired, and being first on the roster for foreign service, I was exactly nailed for this station, which fell vacant just then, I came out in November with my wife and two children.
I like it better than I expected.
It is rather a matter a one-horse place, (perhaps you know it) and the island society is of a very ornery sort, but it certainly has its advantages.
It is very healthy and (for the latitude) cool, owing to the almost constant N.E. trader, it is pretty near home; my pay is good, 800 pounds a year, and living is cheap, and I have an excellent quarter on the savannah.
There are about 40 officers in garrison, which make it cheerful, and generally a man-of-war is here as well; and we have plenty of crickets, rackets, boating, billiards, whist, and lawn-tennis for them as goes in for such things, to say nothing of band playing and croquet & c, but unfortunately no sport.
The work is, to me, putrid, because, having done no corps duty for 18 years, I knew nothing of it, and what's worse it is work I hate.
But it is the fashion of our masters to put round men into square holes when they can, and there never was a dearer case of it than this.
It is sheer injustice both to the officer and to the service to set him to do what he can know nothing of.
Fortunately the work here is light and unimportant, so I hope there will be no serious consequences!
I am lucky in my chief, Col. Puter, who is a very good sort indeed and so, is his wife. (He knew you in Malta).
We are all the best of friends and I am practically my own master.
One thing I enjoy here is the comparative leisure and rest after England.
I have more time for quiet reading and writing than I have had for years.
I hope, nevertheless, to be on my way to a busier sphere, and one more suited to me before the year is out.
The Premier of New Zealand has written me, explaining about the survey business and rendering their firmer offer should they be able to pass the measure next session as to which he seems to have no misgivings, as, with a newly elected House, they anticipate a good working majority.
I hope Sir George Airy and the wife Airy's are very well, and that you will give them my best regards, also to Wilfred Airy.
I was so pressed before leaving home that I could not write or go to see them and you.
How goes on the Tr. Q work?
I want you to make a solemn memo to send me the final results for N.Z. longitude as soon as they have been arrived at, and anything as to personal equations, & e.
I am wishing to write an account of our New Zealand operations for the N.Z. Professional Papers.
Something certainly should be contributed on the subject.
But I have not the materials here for preparing it.
Has the account I wrote for the A.R. been set up, in type yet, or will it be soon?
If either, perhaps you could send me a set of proof, I am anxious to get access to, it if I can.
I am afraid the A.R. could not let his M.B. be returned to be copied, even if sent as a registered letter.
If he would, I should like to have it here for a month.
If not, and if nothing in the way of printing has been or is about to be done, perhaps you could get (with A.R.'s approval) a copy made for me for a few shillings, and sent by book post, I would ask you to enclose with it in any case a copy of the A.R.'s instructions to observers.
Love to Neate if still at Greenwich, Ardin, whom you may remember, as at one time at Tr. Q volunteer has been here, but is now gone as Flag-Lieut. to Admiral Puimail.
very truly yoursWhat a stunning cartoon that was of the chief in Vanity Fair.
Remember me to Christie.
The article too I thought capital, though it omitted his Lunar Theory.
A few nights ago, I paid a visit to the temporary Observatory of Lieutenant-Commander F.M. Greene, of the United States Navy, erected at Rickett Battery in Barbados.
The astronomical work in which Commander Greene is engaged under the American Hydrographic Office is of so highly useful and practical a character that I think a short notice of it is likely to interest the Society, or at least those of its Fellows who are practical field astronomers.
It is the determinations, with an accuracy much greater than any yet attained, of the geographical positions of various points in the West Indies and Central-America, which are connected with one another by telegraphic cable.
The latitude in these operations are found by the method very generally used by American astronomers, of observing pairs of stars on the meridian, N. and S. with the zenith-telescope; and the longitudes, by means of telegraphic comparisons of local times.
The work was begun in the winter of 1874-5, at the suggestion, I believe, of Commander Greene; the U.S.S. Fortune was commissioned for the purpose, and Commander Greene, with a sufficient staff, was placed in charge of her.
During the first season, the latitudes and relative longitudes of Panama, Aspinwall, Kingston, Havana, and Santiago de Cuba were ascertained with great precision.
It is not too much to hope that other nations will promptly follow the lead taken by the American Hydrographers, and that especially our own Hydrographic Department will add this branch of work to the admirable maritime surveys in which it is justly pre-eminent.
The vast and constantly spreading network of telegraphic cables and land lines will afford work for many years to come and each extension of measurements of the class I have described will add accuracy to geographical knowledge and maritime cartography.
In the same month in 1876, Palmer was appointed to serve as aide de camp to the Governor of the Windward Islands, Mr. Pope-Hennessy, and he remained in this post through the riots of 1876, and up until Mr. Hennessy's departure from the Colony in November in the same year.
The intimate relations between the Governor and Palmer continued until 1882 in Barbados and Hongkong.
They say Hennessy gave no small influence to Palmer.
Here, please let the writer introduce Mr. Pope-Hennessy portrayed in Dictionary of National Biography by the Oxford University Press;
Pope-Hennessy, the Governor of the Windward Islands, was born in Cork, South Ireland, in 1834 and educated at Queens College in Oxford, whence he went to the Inner Temple.
Later, he entered Parliament in 1859.
In Parliament, he proved zealous, hard-working and made some reputation.
In regard to Ireland, he obtained
(1) the amendment of the poor Law (1861/2).
(2) urged the amendment of the Land Law.
(3) urged the declamation of bogs as a means of staying the
emigration of the Irish population.
(4) recommended the system of open competition for admission to
the public service.
(5) promoted the passage through Parliament of the Prison
(6) Amendment in the Mines Regulation Acts by the miners of
From 1867, he served as the governors in Lubuan, Gold-Coast, Bahama, and in 1875, he received the more important government of the Windward Islands, the seat of which is Barbados.
In January 1876, he laid before the legislature his first proposals for an amended administration, tending in the direction of <federation> of the Windward Islands. The Barbadian, always fearful of any tampering with their ancient constitution, formed the Barbados Defence Association and the planters were soon avowedly hostile to Pope-Hennessy. On May 17, a motion was passed to address the Queen for his recall.
Despite this opposition, he proceeded steadily with projects of reform.
He strove to promote emigration of the negroes to other West India Islands; he put an end to flogging as a punishment.
Prison reform was a favourite subject with him.
The provision of medical aid to the poor and extension of educational facilities also occupied his attention.
His popularity with the negroes was exceptional; but in November 1876 the Home Government nominated him to Hongkong.
As readily understood, he showed the instinctive sympathies towards the oppressed people, regardless of the races and classes and he was said to be a man of strong personality to kindle his passion in devoting the liberation of those people.
Pope-Hennessy was <an able and typical Irishman, quick of wit and repartee,> of humane and sympathetic but impulsive temperament.
On August 10, 1877, Major Palmer wrote to Sir Airy, Astronomer Royal, Greenwich Observatory as follows;
At the close of 1877, Major Palmer was appointed Executive Engineer at Hongkong, and he left Barbados in January 1878.Barbados
August 10, 1877
My dear Sir George
I am glad that Tupman's heavy task is progressing well, will you remember me kindly to him and Christie.
I trust that, when I come back to England, I shall find you as well as and full of work as ever.
Possibly you will be beginning about that time, or soon after, to make some plans for the next Transit.
When you do, I hope that my ill-success at New Zealand will not prevent my name from being noted as that of a candidate for a station in 1882.
"Major Palmer may be a very scientific person, but he is only known here as an officer who was with Governor Hennessy in Barbados and followed him to Hongkong under promise of employment of his staff."Such being the case, although Palmer was stationed at Hongkong for nearly five years, the work he actually executed was found very little, except for the drawing up of the Hongkong Observatory as well as the survey of the latitude for the site of the Observatory.
(1) To determine the Local Time by astronomical observations and drop a Time Ball daily.And he furnished another Report on February 22, titled On a determination of Latitude at Mount Elgin in the Kau-Lung Peninsula after he actually determined it by borrowing necessary instruments from Lieutenant Commander Greene of U.S. Navy.
(2) To obtain series of Meteorological observations with instruments of the best kinds, and to acquire information relating to the Typhoons and Monsoons of the China Sea.
(3) To obtain series of observations in Terrestrial Magnetism, also with the best modern apparatus.
The work of the Tokio Bureau of Survey, which forms part of the Geographical Department under the Ministry for Home Affairs, is carried out on modern principle, and conducted by officers who have received some scientific training and are equipped with instruments of European make.
This Bureau, though still in its infancy, has done, and is doing good and useful work in beginning a general triangulation of the country.
So far as I would ascertain, there is a very good stock of necessary surveying appliances generally.
I gathered, in fact, that in the way of equipment, they have all or nearly all that can be desired for a thorough execution of the work on a better system than at present.
Hence, it appears that the Modern Survey of Japan is at present little more than begun, and that now is the time to devise and organize such a system as, after due consideration, shall in the opinion of the Government, be best suited to the present and future requirements of the Empire.
The consideration of this question, is, as I proceed to show, a most important one, and by no means free from difficulty.
But, with some experience of the subject and having regard to Japan's true interests, what I venture to press, for earnest attention, is the necessity of the foundation and carrying out the early stages of this important work.
It would be well for Japan to benefit in this matter by the past experiences, often costly and bitter, of other countries; and those experiences, have clearly established that the only true policy to be, if possible, pursued in entering upon a National Survey, on grounds of economy and usefulness and the avoidance of future expense, confusion and litigation, is that, from the very beginning, each step, no matter how slow, shall be so done as to stand for all time and form an integral part of the structure to be in due course completed.
There is, indeed, no public undertaking to which the maxim that what is worth doing at all, is worth doing well applies more truly than to a National Survey.
Especially is this the case as regards triangulation.
No pains, therefore, should be spared to execute it thoroughly once for all.
It will then amply repay its cost.
In the case of Japan, the importance of good and precise survey has special weight.
The tax upon land is the chief source of Imperial revenue, forming on the average at least two-thirds of its whole amount.
Concerning the astronomy, after I checked the status of instruments which the Bureau of Trigonometrical Survey, and the Naval Observatory possess, I would like to report as follows;
Though scarcely any of the instruments could be classed as standard for an astronomical observatory of the first order, many of them are excellent of their kind, and would be serviceable adjuncts to any such establishments.
They must have cost altogether a considerable sum of money, and are capable of being made to do much useful work.
I am not aware what difficulties, if any, may lie in the way of merging the two collections into one for National purposes.
But, when it be possible to do this, I would venture to point out that, much valuable materials is at hand which with a slight extra expenditure, can be turned to important scientific and educational uses; and that a fitting time has come for adding the cultivation of Astronomy to the many enlightened schemes of progress, which have been taken in hand by the Government of Japan.
Besides countless private establishments, every country in Europe (with the single exception of Turkey), the United States of America, India, Canada, the Australian Colonies, and other places, have their fixed National or Government Observatories, the whole of them contributing in various ways to build up the science of Astronomy, performing much work of utilitarian value, and adding, bit by bit and year by year, to the domain of knowledge in a subject which in all ages and countries has possessed the strongest interest for the minds of men.
The section of the globe in which Japan lies is, however, peculiarly deficient in Astronomical observatories.
Eastward from India, until we approach the Atlantic seaboard of the United States, the only public observatories in existence are those at Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, and at Batavia of Java, that is to say, the vast region which extends from pole to pole and over more than 190 degrees of longitude, in other words, upwards of one half the entire Earth's surface is, with these exceptions, destitute of fixed observatories.
It is plain, therefore, that Japan has before her a fine opportunity for helping to supply this deficiency, and for earning appreciation and grateful acknowledgements from Government and scientific men in all parts of the world.
In this matter, as with the Survey, I am no advocate of hasty or costly measures.
Here, as there, I would urge caution and moderation and a modest beginning.
But the sooner a small staff of Japanese gentlemen of scientific tastes are brought together and interested and instructed in the work, the easier and cheaper will it be hereafter to expand that beginning into an institution which shall do credit to the Government of Japan.
The current number of the British Quarterly Review contains an article on recent Japanese progress, which is by far the most valuable that has been published on this subject for many years past.In the meantime, Kaoru Inouye, the Foreign Minister, who had passionately devoted his youth to the construction of New Japan as well as today's earnest driver of Japan's Europeanization policy, never missed the article.
The author, Col. H.S. Palmer, R.E., describes fully the causes and course of the changes which have passed over the Land of the Rising Sun in the past fourteen years, and, the various and complicated changes in the constitution and administration from the pure oligarchy which succeeded the revolution of 1868, to the system of the present day were clearly explained, and the effect of the various steps in these changes made comprehensible to the general reader.
The writer then takes the recent reforms under various heads, the army, navy, education, public works, prisons, etc., and shows by statistics, what advance had really been made.
The last half of the paper is, in fact, a comprehensive summary, with running commentary, of the Japanese Government in every department.
The knotty subject of finance is treated with as much clearness as the subject admits of.
Under this head the almost inevitable character of the present financial depression is explained, but it is gratifying to notice that a careful and impartial observer like Col. Palmer is able to conclude his article with confidence in the future of the country to which he has devoted so much study.
Many of the interesting statistics in the paper have already appeared in the columns of Nature.
Recent Japanese ProgressThe years, 1881/2 were the period when the negotiations of the treaty revision driven by Japanese Foreign Minister, Kaoru Inouye, were having difficulty sailing in the conference among the Treaty Powers held in Tokyo.
(The Japan Weekly Mail)
January 13, 1883
(Extracted portion on Treaty Revision)
At present the important question of Treaty Revision occupies a considerable share of the attention of Japanese politicians.
One of the first objects which the Government - as reconstructed in 1871 - set themselves to accomplish was the revision of the treaties and tariff which had been made by foreign Powers with their predecessors, at a time of much difficulty and danger to the latter.
This desire led to the despatch of an influential Embassy, headed by Mr. Tomomi Iwakura, to America and Europe, in December 1871.
The Embassy was not immediately successful, and since then more pressing and important affairs - some of them involving the very existence of the present regime - have caused the postponement of foreign questions until the present time.
Now, when profound tranquillity reigns throughout the Empire, the matter has at last assumed a definite shape.
Formal proposals for revision have been laid before all the foreign Powers and although these have not yet been authoritatively made public, it is pretty well known that they embrace a moderate increase in the tariff, and a very limited jurisdiction over foreigners in Japan.
This latter, it is proposed, shall be confined to breaches of administrative law, the punishment for which does not exceed three months' imprisonment, or a fine of five hundred dollars.
Disputes of all kinds amongst foreigners themselves will be adjudicated upon by the Consul of the nation to which the defendant, or accused person, belongs, as is the custom in most of the Mohammedan States.
In Japan this question of treaty revision is one of burning interest to the Government and the educated classes, who have long smarted under tariff restrictions and under extra-territorial stipulations which denied them any jurisdiction whatever over foreigners.
It certainly is but natural that an intelligent and progressive race should view as unfair and oppressive treaties according to which they have no power to regulate their own customs dues for purposes either of protection or of revenue; and that they should grudge clauses which deprive them of rights of government over the very foreigners whom they are called upon to protect, and for whose safety they are held responsible.
The conditions which favoured the imposition of such terms at the time when the treaties were framed have already either disappeared or been very extensively modified.
Not only have the criminal procedure and prison system of Japan been thoroughly remodelled to suit her altered circumstances, but she is now providing herself with a complete code of laws, and can claim the services of magistrates and judges who, if wanting in the long training and experience which we are accustomed to find on the English Bench, nevertheless possess considerable legal capacity, and sufficient training to render them more than capable of a wise exercise of such limited jurisdiction as it is now proposed to give them.
The Japanese Government, accordingly, feel that the time has come at which they may fairly claim to be relieved from the humiliation of conditions applicable only to barbarous of semi-barbarous races.
They urge, further, that the moderate concession now desired would do much to infuse greater harmony into their dealings with the foreign representatives.
Much objection will doubtless be made to the proposed revision by foreigners resident in the country, but it will be hard for European Government to refuse to a nation like Japan that which they have granted to such countries as Tripoli, Tunis, and Morocco.
Expense and unsatisfactory state of the Consular Courts will also be arguments in favour of a measure which, while curtailing their jurisdiction now, would be a step towards their total abolition in the future.
Until that abolition is complete, it would be idle to hope for the extinction of the system which at present requires foreigners travelling in the interior of Japan to be provided with passports; a system which owes its origin wholly to the extra-territorial privileges for foreigners that have been thrust upon the Japanese.
Still more idle would it be to expect that the Japanese will open their country to foreign trade and residence.
On August 15, 1881, Sir Airy left the position of Astronomer Royal which he had served for 46 years and retired,Kobe Japan
1880 July 30
My dear Sir George,
I see by my last number of the Monthly Notices that you have entered upon the question of the next Transit of Venus.
It does not appear, and perhaps is hardly known yet, whether the Government will assist as before in the enterprise, but, not to be behindhand, I venture to write you and repeat to you my former offer of services, if you should be disposed to accept them and if Government purpose joining in the work.
I can hardly yet say exactly when I shall return to England, perhaps, it will be in the first half of 1882, earlier or later as might suit your wishes.
As you propose to use New Zealand again, perhaps, in the event of your employing me, it might be advantageous to send me again to that station, where I am well known and where I could avail myself of knowledge and experience gained in the former occasion, in 1874/5.
One more suggestion I will venture upon is that, should Lieutenant Darwin again be a volunteer, and not have an important charge himself, I should be only too glad to be associated with so excellent an aide.
I have this day arrived here from Hongkong, bent on two months holiday travel in this most delightful country.
One needs an annual run somewhere, to get away from the relaxing climate of Hongkong, which in summer is especially trying, and we are fortunate in having such a charming sanatorium as Japan within a week's sail.
I shall not be sorry when my term of tropical service is ended, but I much prefer to the East to the West, and so far as salary goes I have a most excellent appointment.
The Secretary for the Colonies has lately approved a vote of 2,000 pounds for beginning an observatory of which is to determine time for the shipping and for magnetic and meteorological observation.
If you should at any rate be writing me, I need hardly say that a hint from you as to the class of astronomical work (within the compass of a good transit instruments and a good telescope) which might be usefully followed, would be very much valued.
Pray remember me very kindly to the wife Airy's and your sons and my friends in the Department and believe me
Dear Sir George
yours very faithfully
(My address is Hongkong)
It had been my wish to retire from the Observatory in the summer of 1880, but the old Transit of Venus was still hanging over me.The letter sent from Sir Airy to Mrs. Palmer dated August 24, 1881, which the writer would like to introduce herein was written just after his retirement, out of which no one may miss to notice the worn-out air oozing out from the contents of the letter of a 79 year old conscientious scientist.
My part was cleared off in the summer of 1881, and then I took my opportunity.
August 24 1881
My dear Madam.
My daughter Christbal has shown me your letter, conveying the wish of Col. Palmer to be informed whether he can be appointed as an Observer of the Transit of Venus 1882.
I duly received Col. Palmer's letter of 1880 July 30, and have it in its proper place for reference, and action thereon.
Nothing could be done for a time.
For I had notified to the Admiralty that the business was too heavy for me; and therefore they referred it to the Council of the Royal Society, who referred it to a Committee upon whose report a new Committee was appointed, who have at length referred the practical points to Mr. Stone.
I should have been in vigorous action with him before this time, but I have resigned my office of Astronomer Royal and changed my residence and nobody can imagine the occupation of time which, under peculiar circumstances this has caused and is causing.
But I will put my part of the business in order before long and will inform you or Col. Palmer.
I am, my dear Madam
yours very truly
In response to the above letter. Mrs. Palmer replied as follows;
Ile of Wight
September 8th 1881
I must write a line to thank you for your kind note.
I should have acknowledged it before, but as you will see by my address, I have been travelling about lately I thought it so exceedingly kind of you to write to me yourself.
Immediately I received your letter I forwarded it to my husband so that he might see exactly how matters stand respecting the coming Transit, but I fear he will think I have done wrong in troubling you on the subject.
Should he however get appointed on it would you kindly letting me have a line addressed to me at my father's
Rev. Archdeacon Wright
where I shall be staying until next March, for it would be such a long time before I should hear if the news went out to Hongkong first.
With my kind regards to, yourself and Miss Airy.
On November 18, 1882, Lt. Col. Palmer contributed a very interesting article titled "The Great Comet of 1882" to The Daily Press Hongkong which appeared on November 20.
In the said press, he introduced various theories on the Comet prevalent at the time from the standpoint of an astronomer and took part in breaking down the old popular views usually attached with the appearance of the Comet which foretell the possible destruction of the Globe.
Mr. F. Brinkley, a dear friend of Palmer for many years, and the owner and editor of The Japan (Weekly) Mail read the article on the Daily Press Hongkong of November 20 and introduced it promptly in his paper dated December 2, 1882.
Being well versed in the astronomy, he developed his own unique views on the Comet in addition.
In 1883, while Col. Palmer stayed in Japan on his way back to England, he wrote about the 1882 Comet in The Japan Weekly Mail dated February 1, March 3 and May 19, 1883.