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A Desertion and its Sequel., Issue 7977, 5 August 1889
A Desertion and its Sequel.
The London correspondent of the * ArguV writes thus in reference to a matter that was more than onco referred to in last month's cable messages : There has been a great deal of fuss in the papers and the Law Courts about au astounding piece of arbitrary blundering od the part of the Admiralty and other departments in relatiou to an unhappy militia recruit named Thompson. In November last a seaman named Kloyd, aged twentyfuur, deserted from 11. M.S. Calliope at Sydney. A circular was in due course issued to the polbe authorities in Knghuul, notifying the desertion and describing the deserter. A certain proternaturally acute detective at Derby "detected" tho deserter in the person of Thompson, a militia recruit, who happened to bo seven years younger, two inches shorter, and quite differently marked. The detective thereupon claimed the usual reward, through his superior, which tho Admiralty appear to have paid, at the same time ordering a certain Captain Woodward at Portsmouth to punish Thompson summarily, and then send him to sea. Captain Woodward accordingly gave him ninety days' hard labor, without any evidence of his guilt, and when in prison he got threo days' bread and water for saying that he was not Floyd. After he eame out of gaol it began to dawn on the admiral at Portsmouth that, as he differed in every physical particular from Floyd, he possibly might not bo that person. It was also a featuro in the case that ho turned up at Derby about three weeks after Floyd had deserted at Sydney ; but the naval authorities appear to have such an enthusiastic belief in the steaming achievements of the Australian mail steamers that tho fact of itself bad no weight with anyone in authority. At this stage of the affair, in view of the offensive doubts thrown upon the wisdom of their previous proceedings by tho admiral, my lords appear to have consulted Sir A. K. Stevenson, the solicitor of the Treasury, who advised that if Floyd— i.e., Thompson—- " admitted " that he was Thompson (which he had been cruelly punished for asserting) he should be sent back under escort, as if he were a deserter, to the militia depot at ]>rby—he never having deserted at all. At this stage of the proceedings the supernaturally acute detective created a diversion in favor of his friends at the Admiralty by arresting Thompson on a charge of stealing money from his landlady. But this matter was not gone into, and the charge is said to be wholly groundless. The case has now come on a writ of habeas corpus before two Judges (Mathew and Manisty) in the Queen's Bench, who have "attached" Captain Woodward, and are likely to make the thing unpleasant for others. Rarely in modern times has such stirring language in favor of the liberty of the subject been heard from the Bench. In Mr Justice Mathew it is easy enough to understand the pleasure it has been to him to take up this line. He ia a nephew of the famous "Father Mathew," and a strong Irish Nationalist, but he is quite outdone in the strength of his language by his colleague, Mr Justice Manisty, a fine old Tory—formerly a member for Cambridge University—of eighty years old, who until a month ago had drunk a bottle of port wire every day of his life since he left college. The other day he got the gout for the first time, and his doctor reduced him to a pint of port a day ; but on this allowance the grand old man grew sadly weak, and therefore the doctor said " Well, I think on the whole you had better go back to your bottle a day. Henceforth you may indulge in a whole bottle each day." "Aye, aye, doctor," replied the Judge, who has preserved a strong Yorkshire accent: "that's all very well, but how about the arr-e-e-a-rs ? " He settled that question himself by adding each day something on account of arrears, and tho Bar notice that he has been a " stronger judge" ever since. The Admiralty are finding him unpleasantly strong just now.
A Desertion and its Sequel., Issue 7977, 5 August 1889
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