The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prevalebit. SATURDAY, MAY 21, 1881. Dr. Skae’s Dismissal.
TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 4.30 p.m.]
We were a little surprised on perusing the telegrams this morning, giving particulars of the action of the Government in Dr. Skae’s case. For some time past, we have received at intervals, items on this subject, all tending to the creating of a belief that the Ministry were leaning towards a view of the case, the gross injustice of which was fully apparent on the face thereof. We are glad to find this is not the case, and that for once influence and party power in their efforts to shield the offender have been unavailing. From the outset the tide of Ministerial opinion on this subject was in favor of a leniency towards Dr. Skae which would have been neither more or less than a gross piece of favoritism. That gentleman was proven to have been guilty of wilful negligence of the duties devolving upon the office which he held, and such carelessness had been productive of the prolongation of unnecessary tortures on a patient in the Asylum; therefore, that the reward he has received is merited is undeniable. We do not wish it to be understood that we consider any praise is due to the gentlemen composing the Cabinet for the adoption of the measures they have taken towards Dr. Skae. These have been neither more or less than forced upon them, and their proceeding in any other manner would have been deterioratory to their chances of a reelection to power in February next. Had their action regarding the dismissal of the Inspector of Lunatic Asylums been as prompt as was the institution of criminal proceedings against Whitelaw, some credit might have been attachable thereto. Till is not being the case, it is otherwise. Safety at Sea. Nearly every day the various journals in this colony have advocated, since the late disaster to the Tararua, improved methods of saving life in case of shipwreck, by means of improved equipment of the vessels themselves, and also greate r coast protection by means of lightships, lighthouses, and hosts of other methods on our dangerous coast. Cur shipping companies will find eventually chat they must provide adequate equipment on board their passenger boats, or the Government must interfere and strictly enforce efficient life-saving means on each and every passenger boat on our coast. In the case of the terrible Tararua disaster, whereby some 131 lives were lost, the evidence of the surviving officers is anything but creditable to the company, showing, as it does, that a very inefficient and inadequate supply of life-belts, buoys, or even boats was on board the ill-fated vessel. We find that there were some six life-buoys, and a few life-belts, and the latter at the time of the accident under lock and key. We feel confirmed that had Captain Garrard been provided with better means of saving life, many more would have been saved from the wreck in the early part of Friday—the day on which the vessel struck. Rumours are now afloat that Captain Garrard and his officers were not on the best of terms, and this, in some unaccountable way, has been suggested by some as the probable cause of the disaster. Any comments on the evidence must be withheld until the judgment of the Court is given. While agreeing that a great necessity exists for a proper lightship or other light, or means of warning, on Waipapa Point, and other dangerous places for the safety of the shipping, we must point out that a great necessity exists, for many reasons, that passenger steamers and vessels should have at hand proper appliances to rescue unfortunate passengers from a watery grave. We have before us a short description of a new life-saving vessel, which was launched some four years ago by Mr J. A. Stockwell, at Blackwall. The following description is taken from the London Times, and we must say that if it has been proved to be successful, every passenger ship ought to be compelled to have a similar appliance on board, just as much as if they went to sea in a leaky condition j It is circular in form, and capable of carrying sixty passengers below deck, all of whom can be safely housed before the vessel takes the water. It is fitted with masts, sails, ancj rudder, a stem or projecting cutwater, aijd a shifting keel, to drop down at pleasure, with lockers for provisions, and watertight compartments to hold fresh water. In the centre is an aperture fitted with a network made of hemp, combined with indiarubber, allowing free play for the waves, whereby, it is believed, wilt be insured a comparative immunity from capsizing. It is suggested by the inventor that in large passenger ships one of these vessels might be built as one of the ordinary deck houses, fitted for use either as captain’s cabin, chart house,for store rooms, and built on a radiated girder just high enough above the deck to form 1 a curve for the outer launch-ways, and the 1 berthing on either side being made moveable, i
the whole deck-house capable, say, of carrying 600 souls, could he launched complete into the water. A technical description of the machinery would, perhaps, seem somewhat complicated, but it is only fair to say that, in the opinion of those Lest acquainted with the working, the launch, even under the most adverse circumstances, would he an affair of but a very few minutes. The trial was certainly in every respect as satisfactory as such trials can be, taking place as they must under circumstances so esscn'ially different from the reality. The vessel and launching gear was adapted to a vessel of 1,500 tons, but the latter was tilled to an old hulk, which would fairly have represented one of 3,000 tons. Consequently, the height from which the vessel took the water was far in excess of what it properly should have been, considering also that the deck from which it was launched was stationaiy. Nevertheless, the little craft slid down easily enough in to the water, carrying-.on her deck ten or twelve men, whe paid the penalty of their refusal to seat themselves below, as they should have clone, with a sound ducking. The vessel quickly righted, and as regards the success of this invention, it would certainly seem that it is about the most complete of its kind that has yet been seen. We hope that the passenger steamers, at all events, will be provided with some adequate method for the safety of those who travel on the “ briny deep,” and that those companies who allow vessels to go to sea without efficient life-saving apparatus will be brought under very severe Parliamentary legislature.