10 AUGUST 1872, Page 1

Mr. Ayrton got his opportunity on Thursday night for punish-

ing Dr. Hooker, and he used it with a delight such as only an intellectual prizefighter knows. Dr. Hooker, in a note to Mr. Gladstone's Private Secretary, had complained of Mr. Ayrton's " evasions and misrepresentations," words which he used as merely corrtroversial—they are constantly used in Parliament—but which of course, as the Premier said, involved a serious breach of dis- cipline. Personally Dr. Hooker is the superior, but officially he is the subordinate of the First Commissioner. Mr. Ayrton therefore, being called on by Mr. Fawcett and Sir J. Lubbock for a reply to the general charge of unjust treatment of the Director of Kew, exerted his whole capacity—and the whole power of the man was never more conclusively shown than in this speech ; it is forty times as able as his written memorandum—in developing this thesis, that when, as Justice Mettle said, " God Almighty was addressing a black-beetle," He could not be expected to choose His words. The whole drift of his reply was that he had not injured Dr. Hooker, and that Dr. Hooker was far too low an official to have a right to raise questions of manner with a Minister of the Crown. He was a mere subordinate spending £12,000 a year, while the " depart- ments I control spend £1,200,000." It was a "great thing for a Minister of the Crown to take such trouble to satisfy a person occu- pying so subordinate a position." Dr. Hooker ought to have called on the Secretary, if he had anything to complain of, " like anyone else who was one of a number of subordinates." His scientific friends had written a scurrilous libel on him (Mr. Ayrton) secretly, though they only knew "about organic and inorganic matter," while he knew something "far higher," the science of the law. Evasions ! Those were "errors used by a slave to escape from the anger of his

master, but which a master, conscious of his power, was not in the habit of using against a slave." Is it necessary to analyse the speech further ? or can there be the shadow of a doubt that a subordinate Minister who can use to a man like Dr. Hooker language a King would not use to a footman, or a Judge to a convict at his bar, is incapacitated, by arrogance rising to a moral offence, for the service of the Crown ?