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Colonial Cases

In re Esplen, 1865

[shipping, medicine supplies]

In re Esplen

Consular Court, Shanghai
Source: The North-China Herald, 27 May 1865



Present - SIR HARRY S. PARKES, K.C.B., H.B.M. Consul.

TH. KROES, H.N.M. Vice Consul.

J. LAMPHREY, Esq., M.B., H.M. 67th Regt.

This was an investigation held at Her Britannic Majesty's Consulate, Shanghai, on the 26th May, 1865, into the truth of an assertion made by one Prideaux Selby, master mariner, commanding the British barque Ocean Gem, to the effect that the medicines for the ship had been supplied by Dr. Bauduin of Nagasaki.

The following depositions were read by Sir Harry Parkes:-

At Her Britannic Majesty's Consulate at Nagasaki, the 17th day of May 1865.

Doctor A. F. Bauduin, a subject of the Netherlands, voluntarily and personally appeared before me, Abel A. J. Gower, H.B.M. Acting Consul for Nagasaki, and being duly sworn deposed as follows:-

I have never been in the habit of supplying medicines to the medicine-chests of merchant (vessels) ships in Nagasaki; nor have I ever supplied medicines for the chest of the British barque Ocean Gem.  I do not keep an apothecary's shop; and all medicines supplied by me are prepared by myself, and for my own exclusive medical practice.

(Signed)  DR. BAUDUIN. Deposed and signed in due form of law at the office of me, the said Acting Consul, at the time and place first above mentioned.

(Signed) ABEL A. J. GOWER, H.B.M. Acting Consul for Nagasaki.


At Her Britannic Majesty's Consulate at Nagasaki, the 17th of May, 1865.

Thomas Blake Glover, a British subject resident in Nagasaki, voluntarily and personally appeared before me, Abel AS. J. Gower, H.B.M.'s Acting Consul for Nagasaki, and being duly sworn, deposed as follows:-

I have never received any medicines from Dr. Bauduin, to be sent on board the Ocean Gem, or to be delivered to Capt. Selby.  I am perfectly aware, of my own knowledge, that Dr. Bauduin never provides medicines for ships' medicine-chests.

I know that the medicines alluded to by Capt. Selby, at the Consular Court at Shanghai, concerning the death of the late chief mate of the Ocean Gem, were bought by a compradore of mine, at a Japanese medicine-shop in Nagasaki, during the month of September, 1864, for the sum of twenty-one Ichibus, and that the medicines bought for that sum were Laudanum, Liquidum Syden. (Vinum opii aromaticum), delivered in a bottle labelled Tincture of Rhubarb. Besides this there were other bottles filled, one with Spiritus nitri dulcis, one with Crema tartarii, and one with Oleum faniculi.

This statement was made to me three days ago by the Japanese shop-keeper who sold the medicines, and is certified by my compradore who bought them.  Capt. Selby was perfectly aware that Dr. Bauduin refused to supply the medicine, and gave his consent to have the bottles filled at the Japanese druggist's shop.


Deposed and signed in due form of Law at the office of me, the said Acting Consul, at the time and place first above written.

(Signed) ABEL A. J. GOWER, H.B.M.'s Acting Consul fort Nagasaki.


The subjoined letters, although not taken as evidence, throw some light upon the real facts of the case:-


NAGASAKI, 17th May, 1865.

Messrs. GLOVER & Co., Nagasaki.

GENTLEMEN, - I am in receipt of letters from Shanghai, informing me that Caption Prideaux Selby, master of the British barque Ocean Gem, has made a statement before H.B.M.'s Consul at the above port, relative to the death of his first mate, which was caused by taking what was supposed to be "Tincture of Rhubarb" but which on being analyzed wad found to be a narcotic poison, which Captain Selby asserts was procured from my Pharmacy.  I beg to inform you that such a statement is entirely false, as I have never supplied any medicines or dugs to this ship's medicine-chest, as my Pharmacy contains only sufficient quantity for my private practice, and although I have been frequently requested to supply ships' medicine-chests with medicines, I have invariable refused to do so.

I shall esteem it a favour if you will kindly let me know whether you or anybody in your house have at any time received from one or more bottles of medicines to be sent on board the Ocean gem, as Captain Selby states that four bottles were, at his request, forwarded by you to me, in order to be refilled at my Pharmacy.  A shall also feel obliged if you will inform me whether the bottles in question were refilled at one of the native shops at Nagasaki, and, if so, at what shop, and what medicines were procured, as it is my duty to clearly prove to the public that the statement made by Captain Selby is altogether unfounded, and I shall feel bound in my own defence to prosecute that gentleman for defamation of character.

I remain, &c., DR. BAUDUIN.



NAGASAKI, 17th May, 1865.



SIR, - We have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of this date, having reference to a statement made by Captain Selby of the Ocean Gem before H.B.M.'s Consul at Shanghai, to the effect that he had received from your Pharmacy through us, a bottle supposed to contain Tincture of Rhubarb, but which on being submitted to analysis proved to be a narcotic poison which Captain Selby administered to his mate on the presumption that the drug was Tincture of Rhubarb, and the taking of which resulted in the death of the mate.

In reply to your enquiry as to whether we procured any medicines from your Pharmacy to be sent on board the Ocean Gem we beg to state most positively that we did not.  We recollect, indeed, sending you, at the request of Captain Selby, four empty bottles to be refilled according to the labels respectively attached to them, and that you immediately returned the same informing us that you were unable to supply ships with medicines, and that as regarded the bottle labelled Tincture of Rhubarb you had none and never had any of that drug in your Pharmacy.  We mentioned this to Captain Selby, at the same time acquainting him that there was in Nagasaki a native druggist from whom we thought he might obtain the medicines he required, and at his desire we sent and had the four empty bottles refilled at the Japanese shop and handed back tom him, presuming of course that he would observe all the caution before administering any portion of the medicines ton the mate, in case the native Doctor should make any mistake  in filling the bottles, which unfortunately appears to have been the case, as the bottle labeled Tincture of Rhubarb turned out to contain Laudanum.

The native druggist's shop at which the four bottles were filled is situated in the Hanano-match, and the several medicines which were procured therefrom were Castor Oil, Cream of Tartar, Spirit of sweet Nitre, and what was supposed to be Tincture of Rhubarb but which was afterwards proved to be Laudanum, and for which we paid the sum of Itziboos 21 as per the enclosed cash order.

We presume that Captain Selby, in making the statement he did before H.B.M. Consul at Shanghai, and which was calculated ton seriously affect the good reputation you have so long enjoyed at Nagasaki, must have forgotten the circumstance of his having obtained the medicines alluded to from a native doctor, but we do not think he could hiver made such a statement without having considerable doubts as to its correctness.  Capt. Selby was distinctly told by our Mr. Glover that you could not supply him with the medicines he required, and as he stated he could not sail without them, the medicines were at his request procured from the native druggist.  We recommend you take an early opportunity of informing Captain Selby of your intention to commence legal proceedings against him unless he at once publishes a complete refutation of the statement he has made, accompanied by a full and ample apology to yourself.

We are, Sir, &c.  (Signed) GLOVER & Co.



No. 75.NAGASAKI, 1st Sept., 1864.

Compradore "Ocean Gem."

Pay Doctor (Japanese) the sum of Twenty-one Its. For medicines.

Its. 21.Entd. A.R.



4 ¼  Itziboos  Venkelolie

¾  Wynsteen (cremitartari.)

2 Spiritus nitridulcis

12 ½ Laudanum Liq. Sayd. (Liq. Syd.)

20 Itziboos.


For traduction.

The Japanese Interpreter APOTEEK LAKAIJA.  W. R. ARAKI.

The following is a copy of a power of attorney from Dr. Bauduin authorizing T. Kroes, Esq., H.N.M. Vice-Consul, to act for him in taking legal proceedings against Captain Selby of the Ocean Gem, for making the false statement that the medicines for his ship, including that medicine in particular which caused the death of his chief officer, had been supplied to him by Dr. Bauduin, whereas in reality they had been supplied by a Japanese druggist:-

Know all men, that by these presents, I. A. F. Bauduin, a subject of the Netherlands, resident at Desimu, (Nagasaki) in the Empire of Japan, have made, ordained, authorised, nominated and appoint T. Kroes, H.N.M.'s Vice-Consul at Shanghai, ton be true and lawful attorney for me, and in my name; and to take legal action against Captain Prideaux Selby, master of the British barque Ocean Gem, for asmuch as the said Prideaux Selby has, at an open Consular Court at Shanghai,  and also inn public printed papers, made use of my name to the defamation of my character as a medical man.

And further by these presents I do give and grant unto my said attorney or his substitutes and assigns full and absolute power and authority in the premises, ratifying and holding firm and valid all and whatever my said attorney, his substitutes or assigns, or any of them, shall lawfully do or cause to be done in and about the premises by virtue of these presents.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal, the seventeenth day of May, in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five.

(Signed). DR. BAUDUIN.  (Sealed.)

(Signed) ABEL A. J. GOWER.  H.B.M.'s Acting Consul, Nagasaki.


Mr. KROES thought that perhaps, as Captain Selby had already left Shanghai in the Ocean Gem, the best course to pursue, in taking legal proceedings against him, would be to communicate with the Board of Trade in London in order that he might be deprived of his certificate.

Sir HARRY PARKES thought that the above affidavits entirely exonerated Dr. Bauduin, and that it would be merely necessary to publish them, to clear his reputation.  He understood that Mr. Kroes was authorised to take legal measures against Captain Selby, but the latter had already left Shanghai, and he thought that there would be considerable difficulty in carrying out this object, as any Court would find it difficult to convict on the affidavit of Mr. Glover only.  He thought that the affidavit would be thrown out, as it was not taken in the presence of Captain Selby himself.  It would be impossible to bring him to justice without sending the evidence, and he presumed Mr. Glover would hardly be willing to follow him.  It was evident how the lamentable occurrence had been brought about - Captain Selby had wanted the medicines, and tried to procure them from Dr. Bauduin.  Not able to get them from the latter, he, through his agent, obtained them from a Japanese shop, and a preparation of laudanum had been supplied him instead of tincture of rhubarb.  Captain Selby seemed to put the same faith in a Japanese, as he would in a foreign druggist.

There were, then, two points to be settled.  The first and the more important of the two was to clear Dr. Bauduin of the charge made by the captain of the Ocean Gem.  This could be done by publishing the affidavits already read.  The second was to take proceedings against Captain Selby.  This he (Sir H.P.) would not advise Mr. Kroes to do, as he thought it would be impossible to convict him, in the absence of evidence.  He would remark that the whole case pointed to one fact - how very undesirable it was to obtain medicines through native druggists.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School