§ Lord John Russell
In rising, Sir, to move the Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of Supply, I do so for the purpose of giving the hon. Member for Westminster the opportunity of offering to the House any remarks that he may consider to be necessary or expedient to make with reference to the affairs of Canada. But lest the hon. Gentleman should be misled by the declaration of that intention which I made to this House, I wish to state to him, and to the House, what it is that is intended to be done with respect to the adjournment of this House. It was intended—I may say, we had hoped almost up to this day—that I should have been enabled to move the adjournment of the House to the 1st of February, with a view that Members might be relieved 1429 from business till that period; but, upon taking into consideration the whole of the affairs of Canada, I should think that I could not be justified in proposing the adjournment for so long a period. I do not, Sir, mean to say that any measure can he taken by Parliament with regard to the affairs of Canada; or that what passes in Parliament can have any immediate effect upon what is at present passing in the province of Lower Canada; but the state of affairs at present is this—the Assembly of that province having been convened to consider the resolutions which had passed this House, that Assembly was necessarily adjourned in consequence of the refusal of the House of Assembly to entertain the supplies, or to proceed to business; and since then details have been received from Lord Gosford, showing that the intention was not to obtain redress by means of representation from the Assembly but to look for redress by arms, to obtain it by violence, and to oppose by force her Majesty's Government in that province. I have already stated to the House, that it being the wish of Lord Gosford to retire, although he declared that he was ready to remain in Lower Canada should the public service require it, yet if there was not that necessity it was his wish to retire from the Government of Lower Canada, as the hope of settling the disputes by conciliation with which he went there had been disappointed. When he sent that request, hoping that his appointment might be cancelled, her Majesty's Government held that they ought to relieve him from that burden, and that the duties of his office should be intrusted temporarily to Sir John Colborne. The administration of affairs which was intrusted to Lord Gosford would, in case of the retirement of Lord Gosford, necessarily devolve upon Sir John Col borne. But when the accounts which we have received showed an evident disposition to resist by force the execution of the laws—when there has been shown a disposition to force those who are well disposed into the ranks of rebellion—when such was evidently the result aimed at—indeed, I am rather understating the accounts sent by Lord Gosford—Government felt it necessary, in intrusting to Sir John Colborne the affairs of the province, to inform him that the Government had the greatest confidence in his steadiness and judgment in the administration of its affairs, and while they asked of him to forbear from the strongest 1430 measures of severity unless in cases of absolute necessity, yet in a case of absolute necessity, if he should find the proclamation for the enforcement of martial law in the province requisite, that her Majesty's Government were ready to take upon themselves the responsibility of that act, and that he might look for the support of her Majesty in his legal efforts to secure the allegiance of the province, and to retain it in obedience to her Majesty. Such, in our opinion, was the course that ought to be pursued by the Government, in duty to her Majesty, and to this country. The accounts which have been received since these orders were sent out have tended to show a greater disposition to disturbance, a greater disposition to take up arms with a view of opposing the law, than previously. With respect to the accounts in the newspapers of this day, no official dispatches have been received by Government; but I think those accounts, from the form in which they have appeared, are probably correct, and that a collision has taken place between a portion of her Majesty's troops and a number of persons in arms, assembled for the treasonable purpose of overturning the authority of the British Government in that province. In such a state of things, although I do not think that any remedy can be applied, or that Parliament could give much greater authority than the Government has intrusted to Sir John Colborne, yet I do say that we should not be justified under such circumstances, when we have the means of assembling Parliament in considerable numbers, were we to postpone its assembling beyond the time absolutely necessary for the vacation. It is our duty as soon as a sufficient number of Members can be assembled, to call them together, that they may know what course we have pursued, both with respect to what has happened hitherto, and to the intelligence that may be received between this time and the meeting of Parliament, and this in order that the judgment of Parliament may be pronounced. This appears to me to be the duty of a Ministry acting in a matter of this kind, acting, as every Ministry in this country must do, in concurrence with the opinion of Parliament, and only justified in taking measures of extreme force so long as the opinion of Parliament supports them in those measures. Therefore it is, Sir, that I state that it is our intention to produce to-morrow all the information which can be produced, without injury 1431 to the public service, contained in the dispatches of Lord Gosford. That information, so laid before Parliament, it will necessarily require some short time for the Members to consider. Although Parliament could not be immediately brought together directly after Christmas in sufficient numbers to consider a matter of such importance, yet we should not be justified in adjourning to the 1st of February; and I therefore propose, that the adjournment should be only till Tuesday, the l6th of January next. I have, then, to inform the hon. Member who proposes to make a motion upon this subject, that it would not be useful or expedient, in any answer I might make, to enter into a general statement of the affairs of Canada, upon which no definite resolution can be come to. It is not, Sir, our wish to withhold information from Parliament upon a matter so grave and so important as this. In the middle of January I propose that when the Parliament meets, we shall call upon them for such measures as the necessity of the case may demand; at least, that we may call upon them for their opinion, whether they concur with us, aye or no, in our determination that the well affected to the Crown shall be supported, and that we, in any measures that we adopt, may say not only that we are acting by the command of her Majesty, but also with the full concurrence and consent of Parliament. I move, Sir, the order of the day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of Supply.
§ Mr. Leader
rose and spoke as follows: The noble Lord has told the House that he will lay all the papers connected with this subject before it, and the noble Lord went on to say, that he did not consider himself bound to enter further into this subject. The noble Lord will take that course which to him seems advisable; but the urgency and importance of the Canada question not only justify me in pressing the subject on the attention of the House, but render it an imperative duty on my part to call for a discussion of the question, in order to make the House and the country thoroughly aware of the present state of British North America, and to enable them not only to form an impartial judgment on the past and present conduct, and on the intentions, of the Government, but to decide for themselves what is now the best course to be taken for the interest alike of Canada and of Great Britain. The interests, the liberties, the very lives and 1432 fortunes of our Canadian fellow-citizens, the honour and peace of this country, are in imminent danger; it cannot, then, be unreasonable or ill-timed to ask the Representatives of the people to consider by what means a great, flourishing, tranquil, and eminently loyal colony has been driven into a state of disturbance, amounting to open insurrection; by what means the evil may be removed or mitigated; and above all, by what means we may be saved from an unjust war, which can bring no advantage, and which, whatever its results, must inevitably inflict dishonour on this country. It may be advisable, first of all, to give a very brief sketch of the present uneasy state of Lower Canada, and of the chief cause of that uneasiness. The affairs of that country, owing to its disturbed state, and to the deep and painful interest which attaches to the cause of a gallant but comparatively small and feeble people struggling for the r rights against a gigantic power, have lately occupied so much of the public attention that a very concise statement will be sufficient. For many years past, the Canadians have complained of numerous grievances, and, having first petitioned in vain, they at last demanded redress. Although every one of their complaints was admitted to be well founded, their prayers were neglected, their demands were treated as unreasonable; they were too weak to command attention, for they were not considered strong enough to enforce redress. For many years they went on petitioning in vain; trusting to the generosity of England, and hoping for relief, till even the hope of justice from England seems to have left them, then, and not till then, having discovered the fruitlessness of supplication, they had recourse to that legal power which their constitution gave them, and they refused to vote any money for a Government which had obstinately refused to accede to their just demands. In doing this, they exercised a known, recognised, legal right, conferred upon them by the constitution which England had given them. You say they used their right improperly and at an improper time, and therefore you coerce them; but you are not to make yourselves judges of the time and manner in which a constitutional assembly is to exercise a legal right. Yet such was the course pursued by the Government, when the Canadian Assembly determined to vote no supplies till their acknowledged grievances were redressed. Instead of redressing, or at- 1433 tempting to redress the grievances complained of, the Government passed resolutions subversive of the Canadian Constitution. By these resolutions the Canadians, before excited by long years of misgovernment, were driven to "desperation. They saw clearly that there was no justice for them in the executive government, or in the colonial-office, or in the British Parliament; that it was the intention of the Government to chastise and to oppress them. They felt that they were forced into this dilemma, either to submit to the resolutions and be slaves, or to resist them and run the risk of civil war. In this dilemma, they made that choice which would be made by every people who had once enjoyed any portion of freedom—they determined on resistance. They would have been despicable, and the English people would have been the first to despise them, if taking the other alternative, they had tamely submitted to injustice and oppression. Their measures of resistance have been well considered and well executed; meetings were held, at which the resolutions, and the Ministers who passed them, were denounced in the strongest terms of indignation and defiance; addresses were issued plainly declaring that no justice could be now expected from England, that the Canadians must now trust to themselves alone, and that they had no chance of good government but in a separation from Great Britain; clubs were formed for the purpose of complete organisation, and especially for mustering, and drilling, and habituating to the use of arms and to military evolutions the young men of the province; provisional local courts were established for the administration of law and the settling of disputes; the established courts, and those who continued to take their differences to be decided by them, were publicly denounced; all commerce and intercourse with English merchants was publicly proscribed, the Canadians pledging themselves to use no taxed articles that they might injure the revenue, and generally to use no articles of British manufacture, that they might show their sense of the injustice which the British Government had inflicted upon them. All these measures of resistance were carried into effect under the management of committees of vigilance, appointed especially for that purpose; but the Canadian population needed little or no admonition from their leaders to induce 1434 them to adopt, and rigidly to adhere to, these measures; their heart was in the cause, and he was considered the best patriot who most embarrassed the detested, because tyrannical, Government. So well have the measures of resistance been executed, that Canada is now in open revolt. There is one point to which I would especially call attention, and that is, to the determination of the Canadians to use no articles of British produce. The manufactures of this country, already embarrassed to find a sufficient market for their produce, will thus be almost entirely shut out from the markets of a country which consumed annually a large quantity of their produce. The House will remember that precisely the same system of non-intercourse was pursued by the Americans in the commencement of their struggle. The idea was ridiculed by the Minister of the day, who seemed really to believe that the Americans could not exist without articles of British produce. What was Benjamin Franklin's evidence on that occasion, when he was asked if he did not think cloth from England absolutely necessary for the Americans. "By no means," he said, "with industry and good management they may very well supply themselves with all they want." When he was further asked, if it would not take a long time to establish the manufacture among them, and if they would not in the meanwhile suffer greatly? "I think not," he answered; "they have made a surprising progress already; and I am of opinion that their old clothes will last them till they have new ones of their own making." The very same words may be applied to the present case, but with this addition, that the Canadians have also the advantage of getting all they want by smuggling from the United States. In this they will of course be assisted by the Americans, who derive from the system all the advantages which the British merchant has lost. An extensive plan of smuggling is accordingly at this moment in active operation; it is recommended openly at public meetings, and of course assisted in every possible manner by the Americans and the population on each side of the border. It may be said, that this plan of non-intercourse cannot have the effect intended by the popular party, because there is a strong and numerous party in Canada which far from adopting the system, will make every exertion to defeat it. Now, where is this party to be found, and who compose it? Why, it is to be found 1435 in Montreal and Quebec only; and it is composed almost entirely of those British merchants and their dependents against whom the system is expressly levelled; and stating their numbers at the very highest amount, they do not form one-fifth of the population. Now, that I am speaking of the ascendancy party, I have a remark to make on a recent riot at Montreal, in which it is said the popular party was defeated., and which has given rise to many exaggerated estimates of the strength of the ascendancy party in Lower Canada, and to many vain boastings of the ease with which the minority could put down the majority in that province—precisely as the Orangemen in Ireland are continually boasting of their superior intelligence and bravery, and of the ease with which they would, if permitted by England, overwhelm and for ever silence the Roman Catholics of Ireland. Now, the facts of the case are briefly these:—"A detachment of a club called the 'Sons of Liberty,' on their way home from a meeting, were attacked by a Tory Club, called 'The Doric' The aggressors were beaten off, and there the matter would have ended, but that the Tories, reinforced, came back to the scene of action, and finding no one there to oppose them, they proceeded to attack the office of The Vindicator, a Liberal paper, in which office there happened to be no one but an old woman. The Tories bravely stormed the office thus garrisoned, and destroyed all the property which they there found. And this is the great affair which has decided that the Tory party is much stronger than the popular party in Lower Canada. Now, consider the case for a moment; the strength of the Tory party, if not the whole party, is confessedly concentrated in Montreal and Quebec; the chief official and military force is also mustered there. Now, it would be madness in the popular party to commence the insurrectionary movement in either of these towns; in them they would be exposed to every disadvantage, while in any country district they would have every advantage. Besides, the triumph, if triumph there be, was achieved, not by the Tory mob alone, but by the Tory mob backed by the presence in the town of a largo military force; and such is the estimation in which British magistrates and British troops are held by the Canadians, that they firmly believe that in any disturbance or collision between even a Tory and Liberal mob, the 1436 magistrates and troops would not act fairly to disperse the general mob, and to afford equal protection to the persons and properties of Tories and Liberals indiscriminately, but that they would act as partisans for the Tories and against the Liberals. The fact is, that the riot at Montreal affords no indication whatever of the relative strength of the Tory and Liberal parties in Canada. It would be as reasonable to bring forward a riot at Belfast or Londonderry, in which an Orange mob should gain some slight uncontested advantage, as a proof that the Orange party was much stronger than the Roman Catholic party throughout Ireland. But what is the state of feeling in the other North American colonies? We are told by the Government that Lower Canada alone is discontented and rebellious. The Ministers find it quite refreshing to turn from the inflammatory denunciations and the violent resistance of the Lower Canadians to the calm, peaceable, well-effected inhabitants of Upper Canada. But are they not deluding themselves with vain hopes? There have been many meetings in Upper Canada, attended by great numbers of armed men; and at those meetings the coercive resolutions have been denounced in language as strong and as stern as in Lower Canada, and solemn pledges have been given by those present to their brethren in Lower Canada that they will assist them to resist the oppression of the British Government, and to assert their independence—and if Upper Canada is so very quiet and well disposed, what can be the meaning of certain demands made at these meetings for redress of grievances?—and why has the governor, who, according to official judgment, had done so much good in the province, lately resigned or been dismissed from his Government? But even if Upper Canada were really as quiet as Ministers would have us believe, they have determined that it shall not remain quiet much longer, for they have sent out as governor a man who, if he did not find a rebellion there, would be the cause of one. I have never seen Colonel Arthur—I hear from good authority that he is a man of talent and a good soldier—yet a more unfit man to be sent out as governor of a free colony could not have been selected. I pass by the grave and serious charges which are made against him, and I ask, is a man who for the last ten years has had despotic sway over a penal colony a fit man to send out 1437 as governor of a free colony?—that is, in other words, a man who has had to enforce a system of the most barbarous cruelty in a country which is one huge prison-house. It will, it must, hurt the proper pride of free colonists to have such a man set over them, and especially at a moment when the public mind in a neighbouring colony, if not in the colony itself, is most highly excited. Have Ministers heard no whisper of grievances unredressed in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick? Have they heard nothing of stopping the supplies in Newfoundland? Why, in The Chronicle of yesterday there was a paragraph, stating, that the differences in Newfoundland were not arranged, but that "no riot had yet taken place;" as if the writer was expecting everyday to hear that the inhabitants of Newfoundland had imitated the Canadians in insurrection, as they have already imitated them in refusing the supplies. Why, this is the very crime of the Canadians—the Government, if they mean to act consistently in their injustice, must at once draw up coercive resolutions against Newfoundland, and deprive the inhabitants of that province of their constitutional rights. The whole of British North America is in a state of uneasiness and disturbance; the Government, therefore, in any struggle, will have to contend, not against Lower Canada alone, but against all our colonies in North America. I come now to a review of the strength of the contending parties—of the chances of success, and of the consequent advantages which England on the one hand, and the North American provinces on the other, may fairly anticipate as the result of their struggle. On one side, then, is the authority of the Executive Government backed by the large military force, and all the power at their disposal—I will not say supported by the power of England, because I hope and trust that the people of England would not sanction a crusade against the constitutional rights of a free colony. But great as the power of the English Government unquestionably is, it was found insufficient, even when fostered and encouraged by the popular voice of England, to put down the comparatively insignificant force of the Americans, at the commencement of their struggle for independence. On the other side, the great distance from England—the vast extent of country to be subdued and occupied—and, above all, the determined spirit of the people, inflamed by the 1438 memory of wrongs unredressed, fortified by the conviction that they had justice on their side—all these obstacles now interpose, as they interposed in the last century, between any attempt of the English Government to coerce our North American colonies, and a successful termination of any such attempt. There is, thus, the obvious obstacle of conveying troops to the other side of the Atlantic, and keeping them in a country like Canada, with four-fifths of the population hostile. With a small force you may possibly keep possession of Quebec and Montreal, though Quebec is the only really strong place in the country. Montreal is an open town, and any military operations in it would do mischief chiefly to the warehouses and dwellings of the British merchants. But to keep possession of the country districts would require a very large force, at an enormous expense, and producing no advantage whatever to this country, and it would be almost impossible for almost any force effectually to protect the steamers and other vessels navigating the St. Lawrence from Quebec upwards from the harassing attacks of any small predatory parties suddenly posted on any of the numerous islands which stud the river, or on any of the high grounds which command it. But the Canadians have two advantages which the Americans had not: first, the inducements held out and the facilities afforded to British soldiers to desert; and, secondly, the assistance which has been offered, and will unquestionably be given to them by large and independent, but well armed and organised bodies of citizens from neighbouring states. The noble Lord denied the other night that there was an unusually large amount of desertion from the military, force in the Canadas; the usual amount of desertion there must then be very large indeed, for I have from the best authority that it is difficult to keep the regiments together, and that small detached parties frequently desert in a body. This will appear not only probable, but a thing in every way to be expected, if the position of a British soldier in North America be considered. He is in many stations within sight of a country where by a few months of labour he may save enough to enable him to become an independent proprietor, and a citizen of a great and fair nation. He cannot fail to compare his ill-paid, hardworking, inferior station on one side of the river with what it might be on the 1439 other side; and should he fail to think or to make the comparison for himself, he finds plenty of hints and information in the public papers and in the conversation of the people. Here is one of the advertisements, many of which appear almost every week:—"Five thousand labourers wanted at Indianopolis, Indiana, at from fifteen to twenty dollars a month, and board." A Canadian paper remarks, "We wonder if we could be indicted for treason, if we give it as our opinion, that twenty dollars a month and board in Indiana, are much better wages than sixpence a day with the privilege of being flogged or shot in the British army?" Moreover, the popular party, should they succeed, have lands wherewith to reward the Americans and the British soldiers who have assisted them. Certain lands—such as the reserved lands—the lands of the North American Land Company, and perhaps also certain lands which belong to persons who have meddled in the affairs of the country, to the great detriment of the people, will be confiscated and divided amongst the Americans and the British soldiers who have assisted the popular party, in proportion to the amount of service rendered. As to the assistance of American citizens, it is imagined by some persons in this country that the American government has the power to prevent, and would prevent, any such assistance. The recent example of Texas is enough to show that, however anxious the American government may be to prevent American citizens from taking part in a contest between a neighbouring country and one of its revolted provinces, there is no such power in the American government. There is no Foreign Enlistment Act in America, nor any chance of such an act being permitted in that country, and bodies of armed Americans may and will march to the assistance of the popular party in Canada which has risen against the English Government, precisely as bodies of armed Americans might and did march to the assistance of the Texians who had revolted against the Mexican government. The Government will thus have a more difficult task than they seem to anticipate; they seem by their speeches, and by the tone of their organs of the press, to look upon the outbreak of the Canadians as a mere passing ebullition of discontent on the part of a small but factious section of the people, incited by some disappointed and ambitious demagogues. It would be a waste of time 1440 to attempt to convince men who have resolved not to be convinced; but I must say that the facts of the case, even as stated by their own organs, plainly contradict their assumption, and would be sufficient to make reasonable and unbiassed men somewhat doubt whether there was truth in the information conveyed to them by their dependents, that the feeling of discontent was partial, and confined to a small party of disaffected French Canadians. Take the account of the first affray between a body of the popular party and a detachment of Montreal cavalry. From that very statement, garbled and perverted, as it evidently is, for party purposes, it appears that a body of some hundred insurgents appeared in arms, drawn up behind a breast-work of trees, felled and thrown across the road, that they rescued some prisoners, and put to flight the cavalry who had charge of them. The country near the scene of action is described as being in that state in which an insurgent district generally is: houses deserted—goods and provisions removed—the women and children gone to a place of safety—the men, armed with their rifles and hunting knives, scouring the country in small parties, or, as in this case, posted in ambush in the forest, to intercept a detachment of troops. The authorities at Montreal seem to have been aware of the state of the country, or why were they so particular in their orders of caution, and their strict injunction not to pass the bridge? To show that I have fairly stated the case, here is an extract from The Chronicle:—On Friday morning, (says The Montreal Herald, from which we gather most of our information), when about a mile from the village of Longueuil, the cavalry came up to a body of several hundred armed men, who were stationed behind a log fence, evidently prepared for their arrival, and apparently disposed to interrupt their further progress, and rescue the two prisoners. About sixty men of this multitude went upon their knees, so as to take a deadly aim, when Malo called out, 'Do not fire!' and the command was given to the cavalry to halt, which was, fortunately, promptly obeyed, as a considerable portion of the enemy's fire, given at the same moment, proved ineffectual, owing to their anticipating the continued advance of the troop. The cavalry then wheeled about and discharged their pistols amongst the crowd, and it is reported with some effect, as several were supposed to be killed or wounded. The little band of volunteers providentially escaped with but, comparatively speaking, slight injury, 1441 three only being wounded, Lieutenant Ermatinger in the face, Mr. Sharpe in the leg. It is extraordinary that every individual of the corps was not cut to pieces, the disparity of numbers being so great. Several of the horses were wounded severely, owing, it is supposed, to the rebels firing so low. The houses and barns by the road side, from which the cavalry had been fired upon in their retreat, were all found with the doors and window-shutters nailed up. A careful search was, of course, made; but though the fires were still burning in some of them, there were neither weapons nor inmates to be found in any. The party then proceeded along the road, finding the houses, with one or two exceptions only, deserted, and uniformly without arms in them. Scouts were frequently seen mounted, and riding down the several concession roads to the main roads; but upon sight of the troops they uniformly started off again. An individual, who was met upon the main road, slated, that as he came along he had seen numbers of men, women, and children, leaving the houses along the road, and going off right and left, the men mostly armed. About six miles from Chambly, a man was overtaken on the road armed. When arrested, he admitted that he had turned out to join a party that was designed to intercept the troops. About a mile further the cavalry, who were little in advance of the main body, gave chase to a party of about thirty armed horsemen, whom they saw at some distance before them, and who made off immediately at full speed, turning to the left up a concession road towards the Belleisle mountain.And where, it will be asked, did this affray take place, and what is this disturbed district? It must, you think, be a French district, in the very heart of the disaffected French population. No; it took place in one of those townships which are thought by the Government to be best affected. As to the alleged insignificance of the movement in Canada, and the ease with which Government expects to put down the insurrection, it would excite a smile, were not the subject of too serious and painful a nature, to hear precisely the same language now held by the Government as that which was held by the Government of the last century concerning the American resistance. Did the noble Lord ever read a paper of Franklin's called "Rules for Reducing a Great Empire," &c.,?—It is very applicable to the present case:—Rules for Reducing a Great Empire to a Small One, presented to a late Minister when he entered upon his Administration.—XVI. If you are told of discontents in your colonies, never believe that they are general, or that you have given occasion for them; therefore, do 1442 not think of applying any remedy, or of changing any offensive measure. Redress no grievance, lest they should be encouraged to demand the redress of some other grievance. Grant no request that is just and reasonable, lest they should make another that is unreasonable. Take all your informations of the state of the colonies from your governors and officers in enmity with them. Encourage and reward these leasing-makers; secrete their lying accusations, lest they should be confuted, but act upon them as the clearest evidence, and believe nothing you hear from the friends of the people. Suppose all your complaints to be invented and promoted by a few factious demagogues, whom if you could catch and hang, all would be quiet. Catch and hang a few of them accordingly, and the blood of the martyrs shall work miracles in favour of your purpose.The same blind faith in the report of officials and dependents, the same overweening confidence in their own strength, the same contempt of the armed peasantry opposed to their regular troops. It seems as if we had undergone the disgrace and the disasters of one American war in vain—as if the affair at Lexington, which at the time was sneered at like this affray at St. John's, but which led to mighty results, had passed into oblivion—as if Franklin had never written, and Washington had never fought, against Great Britain, for the honour and the independence of their oppressed and insulted native land. But, supposing that the Government should be successful in the approaching struggle—suppose that they should even succeed according to their own most sanguine expectations in speedily putting down with little bloodshed the insurgent Canadians, what, I ask, will be gained even by success? You will have gained a discontented province, ready on the first opportunity to break out into open rebellion, and which you will be able to keep in subjection only by a general and expensive military occupation of the country. What are the advantages supposed to be derived from that as from other colonies? An outlet for our manufactures, employment for our shipping, and a country for the emigration of our surplus population. For every one of these purposes, British North America would afford a larger and fairer field, if it were an independent power friendly to Great Britain. There is an example and proof of this in the case of the United States; and as two-thirds of the trade with Canada are forced and factitious, originating in the discriminating duty of forty shillings a load imposed on 1443 timber from the north of Europe over and above what is imposed on that brought from a British settlement in North America, and as almost the whole state of the Canadian trade may be shown to be injurious both to England and to Canada, there would be this great additional advantage in dealing with Canada as an independent state, that we should not then be compelled to tax ourselves to an enormous amount in taking bad and dear timber from Canada when we could obtain cheap and good timber from the north of Europe, nor should we be forced to pay for the maintenance of a large military force to keep possession of an unwilling colony. Canada, as a colony, is already a burthen to the people of England. By persevering in your present course, you will destroy or diminish every one of the advantages which you are now supposed to derive from the possession of Canada should the war continue—it may even become general. All trade and emigration to Canada would be destroyed. Should the Canadians be speedily put down, yet trade and emigration would both be damaged; and should the contest terminate in favour of the Canadians, there will yet have been created such a feeling of hostility to England, that for a long time even after separation, your trade would be almost destroyed and emigration to Canada almost prevented. Whatever, then, the result of the present struggle, the vacillating policy of Ministers will have produced decided mischief. In this dilemma, have the Ministers involved themselves, that, owing to their measures, England must incur disgrace and loss. If they fail in the contest, they will have brought on us the disgrace of an unjust and unsuccessful war, and the loss of any advantage which Canada may now confer on us; and if they succeed, they will still have brought on us the same disgrace and loss, with this difference only, that an unjust war has been successful. But how is it possible to avoid or mitigate the impending evil? Before collision had taken place between the Government troops and the Canadian people—before blood had been shed—I should have said that there were two ways of avoiding the evil: one, by immediate redress of grievances and immediate acquiescence in the demands of the Canadian Assembly. It is now, I fear, too late for that course. 'I he other and only remaining course is an amicable separation of the two coun- 1444 tries. The North American provinces are now strong enough to take care of themselves, and they know it. Is it then prudent to insist on keeping them in political subjection for a short time longer, knowing that they must soon be independent, and that if coerced now they will be hostile to England for many years—and that if an amicable separation be effected now, while it will anticipate the period of their independence but by a few years, it will render them sure friends to England, and convert their country from a burdensome colony into a most profitable free market for our manufactures, and a better and a more inviting field than now for emigration? The question, then, is now no longer one between parties in the colony only—it is no longer a question of right between the popular and the official parties, nor between the majority and the minority—nor, as the Government would have it appear, between the French and English races. It has become a great and urgent question between the Government and the people of England, whether the Government shall or shall not be permitted to plunge the country into a contest, indefensible on any principle of justice, and likely to involve us in a general war. Will the people consent to the pouring forth of blood and treasure to uphold the authority of the Colonial-office, or to gratify the love of dominion, or at best to keep in unwilling subjection an expensive colony? Will they support the Government in an unjust war, and submit to additional burdens in order to coerce the provinces of British North America? That is now the question; and it must be soon decided. I have thus endeavoured to show what is the state of Canada, and what must be the result of war with the Canadians—I have also endeavoured to show how the evil might even now be averted, or much mitigated. To the weakness and incompetence—to the affected fairness and yielding, followed by threats, and oppression, and insult—to the incapacity and vacillation of the Government the troubles which are now pressing on Canada, and those greater evils which are impending over both Canada and Great Britain, are almost entirely to be attributed. It is the present Government which, after having acknowledged the grievances of Canada, refused to redress them—which, when the Canadians asked for justice, sent them by way of conciliation, a coercion bill—which has insulted the assembly of their representatives, and violated the first prin- 1445 ciples of their constitution, and which, having thus driven the Canadians to resistance, now seeks, at the risk of a general war, to reduce them by force of arms to a state of abject submission. Whatever may be the result of the contest, I rejoice that the Canadians have resisted. Half a million of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of the rest. The noble Lord remembers similar words; he remembers by whom, and on what occasion they were used more than seventy years ago; he remembers the events of that period; but he seems to have forgotten or disregarded the warning indelibly stamped by them on the tablet of history. In defiance of experience, his Government is pursuing now the very course which then led to disaster and disgrace; and if they obstinately persevere in that course, I trust and verily believe that, even should they escape immediate and well-merited punishment, they will be held up to the scorn and execration of posterity, as the men who, with the example of the struggle for American independence before their eyes, plunged England into a disgraceful and disastrous war, for the purpose of chastising a colony which they had themselves, by their own incompetence, injustice, and misgovernment, forced into open rebellion.
§ Mr. Charles Lushington
said, that although he did not intend, after what had fallen from the noble Lord, to enter at large into the affairs of Canada, he could not sit quietly by and hear such language as that which had been used by the hon. Member for Westminster without expressing his utmost indignation. The hon. Gentleman had described to the House scenes of bloodshed and of hatred among unhappy countrymen in a distant part of the world, and dwelt upon it with feelings of exultation, which to almost every Member of that Assembly must have been most unpleasant and cruel to their feelings. The hon. Member for Westminster had not expressed the slightest commiseration for the miseries which these occurrences had brought upon Canada; but had exulted at acts of treason, which he certainly did not expect from any hon. Member of that House. The hon. Member seemed to revel in the idea that the course of justice had been suspended, and that the law of a party of insurgents had been established in its stead. The hon. Member had hailed with feelings of pleasure and delight the pros- 1446 pect of desertion from the British army, and had adverted to the advantages which were held out to those who deserted. He did not intend, as he had stated when he rose, to enter into the discussion of this question; but he had thought it his duty as a good and loyal subject, and as a Member of that House, to express the dissatisfaction, indeed the indignation, he felt at certain passages in the hon. Gentleman's speech.
§ Mr. Hume
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had expressed his indignation at the language used by his hon. Friend, but he thought it would have been better if the hon. Member had considered whether there was just cause for that indignation. He wished the hon. Member had directed a little attention to the causes of these things, and had not begun by attacking his hon. Friend for doing that which he considered to be his duty. The hon. Gentleman complained that his hon. Friend had not expressed any regret or commiseration at the existence of the present state of affairs in Canada. Why, so far from this being the case, his hon. Friend had commenced his speech by deploring his being obliged to bring forward at this time the statement of such occurrences. The hon. Gentleman next accused his hon. Friend of having exhibited feelings of delight at the suspension of the duties of the courts of law, and at the desertion of the troops to the insurgents. Let the hon. Member consider what were the duties which good citizens were called upon to perform, and ask himself whether any man could applaud on seeing soldiers called into the painful situation of supporting tyranny against their brother citizens; let the hon. Member inquire who had produced these evils. Was it the unoffending citizen? No, but the British Government, with all its unjust system of colonial agency, which had endeavoured to maintain principles utterly inconsistent and repulsive to the feelings of the people. The hon. Member might call the Canadians rebels if he pleased, but was there not as much virtue in resisting an illegal act as by upholding the principles and institutions of liberty? Did not the hon. Gentleman suppose that there was a limit to human suffering, and that there was a point when resistance became a virtue; and he asked the hon. Gentleman whether the Canadians had not arrived at that point? The hon. Member had not given a thought whether these unfortunate individuals would be driven 1447 perhaps, from their own firesides to the northern snows, rather than brave the tyranny of the Colonial Government. The noble Lord had intimated at the assembling of Parliament that he should take into consideration the affairs of Canada, but why had not the noble Lord profited by the advice and the warnings which had so repeatedly been given him? Let the noble Lord look to the year 1828, when petitions containing statements of the grievances of the Canadians were brought up. The subject was referred to a Committee; and what did the Committee report? Did it report that the complaints were frivolous or vexatious? No; but they brought up a report pointing out the grievances which had so long existed in Lower Canada, and the origin of them; and in the plainest language declaring that the Canadians were entitled to redress. Well, redress was promised, but none was ever given. Lord Dalhousie had been withdrawn, and was succeeded by Lord Aylmer, who was again replaced by Lord Gosford, but nothing was done to redress one of the grievances so justly complained of by the Canadians. Injustice and oppression were allowed to be continued under every succeeding governor, as in the case of Colonel Arthur in Van Diemen's Land, who was so detected that bonfires were lighted upon every mountain when he left the colony. The hon. Member who condemned his hon. Friend, the Member for Westminster, should put it to himself whether the Canadian Government had been such as any man in the country could bear; then ask himself who was to blame—the Government, who had brought on this state of things; or his hon. Friend, who had but fulfilled his duty in exposing it? Last year the Government was warned that it was about to infringe the constitution of the Canadians—the constitution given them in the year 1791—by the resolutions which it brought up to the House of Commons; that it was depriving them of the greatest privilege which could be enjoyed by a free country, by taking from their treasury the taxes which had been paid by the Canadians, and in the distribution of which they ought to have whole and sole authority. The noble Lord was warned that the Canadians would rise up against an increasing tyranny like this; that if they did otherwise than resist they would be slaves, and worthy to be treated only as slaves. But the Canadians were to be oppressed, forsooth, because they were of 1448 French origin. The noble Lord appeared to have totally forgotten the experience of past ages. He appeared to forget that at the first outbreak of the last American war an officer said, "Give me a regiment of soldiers, and I will drive these rebels from one end of the colony to the other." He would put a question to the hon. Member. Suppose an English Ministry were to endeavour to act towards England as they were now doing towards the inhabitants of Lower Canada—suppose they were to pretend unconstitutionally to dispose of the property of British subjects, supported in so doing by a minority of fifty-eight Members in the English House of Commons against six hundred—was there any man who claimed to be a freeman who, if a military force were to be brought out to support so illegal and tyrannical a proceeding, would not give open resistance? In Lower Canada the case was precisely this. Out of seventy-eight Representatives, only eight had been found to agree to the unconstitutional resolutions of the British House of Commons. They had risen to resist them; and he would ask whether, after years of petitioning in vain, it was not enough to rouse any man to resistance? He believed that the Canadians had no wish to separate from the mother country. All they wanted was good government, in order to render the colony prosperous and happy. It was only by repeated aggressions against their feelings and their liberties that they had at length been driven to adopt such extreme proceedings. To confirm this he would refer to some passages in the resolutions of one of the county meetings, similar meetings having been held in all the counties. The resolution stated, "That the colony had been uniformly oppressed since it fell under the British domination, that justice had been constantly refused them, and that the late debates in the House of Commons showed that there was no hope for them but in their own exertions, and the assistance of those whom nature had designated as their allies." The next resolution was to the effect that "the resolutions passed in the House of Commons, on the motion of Lord John Russell, were an injustice to the colony, that Great Britain could not seize on their money without a manifest violation of their rights as British subjects, and that it was the duty of every such person, by every legal and constitutional means, to resist such an interference." Now, he would ask, was there anything 1449 improper in these resolutions? Looking at the noble Lord as an historian, he was surprised that the lessons of history had been so lost to him as to suppose that a mere piece of waste paper such as that which was sent to the Canadians could coerce a great and free people. When Lord Gosford found that the people would meet to express their opinions on the resolutions of the House of Commons he issued a proclamation forbidding them to meet. The proclamations were torn from the church doors, but the governor dismissed from the magistracy and the militia two persons who took part in tearing down, or rather in removing, these proclamations from the doors. A member of the Assembly, also, who had been requested to meet his constituents on the subject, was also dismissed from the magistracy. After this every officer and magistrate who attended these meetings was similarly dismissed. When this was found to be the system pursued by the governor, a meeting of the inhabitants took place, where it was resolved, that to hold a commission under Lord Gosford, under existing circumstances, would be disgraceful, and where all the friends of the Canadians, who held such offices, were called upon to resign them. This invitation was immediately acceded to, and scarcely one of the former magistracy remained. Upon this Lord Gosford appointed others; but the people again met and declared that, as the newly-appointed magistrates were men who were known as those who were in league with the oppressors of their country, they would not submit their cases to them, but appointed magistrates of their own to act as arbitrators in all matters of dispute which might arise among them. Meetings of 1,200 and 1,400 persons were held to entertain the officers and magistrates who had resigned their commissions. Here was a state of things which the most submissive meekness could not endure. He agreed with his hon. Friend, the Member for Westminster, that there was a time when resistance became a virtue. Whether that time had arrived or not, the Canadian people were the judges. The only question was, whether the conduct of the British Government, for the last ten years, had not produced that state of things from which the present lamentable condition of the Canadians had arisen. He saw by a paper which had been placed in his hand since he came to the House, that it seemed to be a question whether companies of British troops were taken 1450 prisoners, or whether they had succeeded in burning villages or destroying the country. These were lamentable surmises. He fully believed that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) was ignorant of the state of the colony when he proposed the measures which were adopted. He would remind the noble Lord of an opinion which had been uttered by a noble Duke, who, in speaking of the possible consequences which might result from the continued oppression of Ireland, declared that he never could feel satisfied in his conscience if the result of persevering in oppression were to be civil war. And who was that noble Duke? Why, no other than the Duke of Wellington. Did any one blame him for that announcement? No; the whole country applauded the sentiment thus manfully expressed, and Ireland profited much by it. The fruit of the noble Duke's timely concession was peace; and was it too much to ask the noble Lord to follow so salutary an example? When the noble Lord saw how happy that country became after having been oppressed and trampled upon by the Tories, he ought to recollect that they had formerly been invariably told that Ireland never could be at peace, and that the people of that country were naturally rebellious, discontented, and factious. No sooner, however, was the obvious remedy of yielding in time adopted, and granting that measure of relief which ought to have been long before conceded, than the whole appearance of things was changed. And what had since been the condition of Ireland? He knew it was the fashion for hon. Members on the other side of the House to represent Ireland to be in a state of greater distraction since, than she had been before, that period. But this only convinced him how short-sighted some men were, and how unwilling they were to open their eyes to the fact, that Ireland had been, and was now, in a peaceful state. She waited, no doubt, for further concessions. Had she not a right to them? So long as one grievance remained unredressed, she ought never to rest contented. There was no reason why her people ought not to be placed on the same footing with those of England and Scotland. He could not understand the opinions of Gentlemen, who said—"You see the consequences of your concession: it only acts as a stimulant for a still further demand, and thus you must go on from year to year adding to the grants which you have made." Why, he maintained that such was the natural 1451 course of things; for every concession added to the power of the oppressed, and helped them to raise themselves from the state of suffering and degradation to which they were reduced. It was to him a matter of sincere gratification to see the change of policy adopted with regard to Ireland; and if anything could add credit to the Melbourne Administration, it was the course which they had adopted with regard to that country, in opposition to that pursued by those who had proceeded them. When Mr. O'Connell brought forward the question of the repeal of the union, what was the answer to the motion? Why, that Parliament would take into immediate consideration the evils of Ireland, grant them all just requests, and place them in a situation to benefit by the union which had been formed. He entreated the Government, then, to take the same steps with regard to Canada as those which they had so successfully followed in the case of Ireland. Let them not be ashamed of retracting the proceedings which they had taken, and which caused the infliction of so many wrongs, and such great irritation. Let them not now persist and be hereafter obliged to express their regret in sackcloth and ashes. The noble Lord had declared, that if the opinion of that House had not been supported by a large majority against the House of Assembly, he should not have felt justified in adopting the measures-which had been put in execution. If the noble Lord, then, did not expect that the House would alter its conviction, why should he not, now that he had triumphed, now that he had a subservient House of Commons, and a power to command the majority which he desired, admit, without any of the hesitation that some persons felt in confessing themselves to be in the wrong, that he acted for the best, but was mistaken; that he expected the advice of the Commissioners would sanction the steps which had been taken, though they had been told that the Commissioners knew nothing about the matter; and that if he had committed a fault, he only sinned in common with the House of Commons, which, with the exception of fifty-six Members, concurred in his view, which was fortified by the favourable opinion of another branch of the Legislature said to have great influence, with the exception of one man who dissented from the proposal, for passing those resolutions which had produced such a talismanic effect. Instead of producing 1452 peace, from the day on which they were promulgated, every county and city was a scene of agitation and destruction, and no tranquillity existed for the period preceding the actual outbreak of civil war. Lord Gosford had acted with a want of judgment and knowledge of mankind which showed him to be incapable of discharging the high and important duties intrusted to him, and had been allowed to linger out in possession of his official station until a state of discontent and dissatisfaction was produced which, instead of being calmed by conciliatory steps, was inflamed by a firebrand east into the elements of strife and discord from Upper Canada. The Government of Upper Canada was placed in the hands of a few Orangemen; and this produced all the evils which they were now called upon to remedy. What the result of the late changes in the appointment of Canadian governors would be he could not foretel; but he thought the troops, as far as he could judge from the accounts which had been received, were sent out to tyrannise and oppress. He trusted, then, that the Government would see the propriety of retracing their steps before civil war was rendered inevitable. All he asked was, that justice should be done to the Canadians; and the rights of the constitution imparted to that oppressed people. He trusted that in a case which so nearly resembled that of their own country, the Irish Members would not, as many of them he was sorry to say had done on a former occasion, desert their posts during the approaching discussions. Parliament would meet on the 16th of January; that time would soon arrive; and the Irish, Scotch, and English Members would be once more assembled. Me had no hopes that hon. Members on the opposite side would assist the cause of the Canadians. When the maintenance of misrule was the question, his experience told him that it would meet with the most powerful aid from that quarter. If the Gentlemen opposite would allow the Government and those who thought with him (Mr. Hume) to proceed with this business, there would be some chance of preventing her Majesty's Government from persevering in acts of tyranny and oppression.
§ Mr. Gladstone
, though he concurred in the opinion that they were discussing topics exceedingly vague, and that they had entered upon many particulars of a contradictory nature, which it would be necessary to investigate before they arrived 1453 at any legislative measures to be brought forward by her Majesty's Government, yet he could not reconcile it to his conscience or his sense of duty to remain altogether silent. Most important interests were involved in this discussion, both as regarded the mother country and Canada, and it was essential not to allow any species of party divisions to influence that House in underrating the magnitude of the matters which had been submitted, or in failing to consider them of deep concern. It was on that score that he wished to return thanks to the noble Lord for having declared his resolution to shorten the duration of the adjournment. He was sure that opinion must meet with the concurrence of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He might be tempted to diverge into many topics if he followed the example of the hon. Member for Westminster, who, although he owed his seat, in a great measure, to the influence of the Government, legitimately exercised he admitted, addressed to the House a speech in which he dwelt on the dismemberment of the empire by the separation of Canada with a strong degree of satisfaction, if not of glee, and scarcely a single expression fell from him during his whole speech which seemed to indicate that he felt any concern at the accounts which had been received describing the state of things in the colonies. He confessed, too, that he had listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Kilkenny with astonishment. He had supposed that hon. Member to be a man of dry facts and figures, but the observations which he had made proved him to possess a most vivid imagination. The hon. Gentleman said, "such were the oppressions which these parties suffered, that they were driven unfortunately to brave the rigours of winter in a northern latitude." Now, what were those oppressions? for that was the pith of the whole question. If the hon. Member proved the existence of grievances, if he showed that persons and property were insecure, that the great man was able to oppress the humble, and if the taxes were heavy and unjust, instead of being, he believed, none at all. If, in any one of these particulars, it appeared that oppression existed in Canada, then he should say, "Let no consideration of shame and pride—let no reliance on the superior power and resources of this empire hinder you from retracing your steps, rescinding your resolutions, and rendering full indemnification to this people." He 1454 owned he was not terrified at the prospect of separation. He did not think that the prosperity of England was dependent on its connexion with Canada. He was aware that there was an interchange of good offices and commercial advantages, but if any one were to look to the balance of the account, he would find, undoubtedly, that in point of commercial advantage, England gave more than she received. But that was not the question. The question was, whether in a country where no practical oppression was proved to exist—where person and property had been secure, and would be so, at this moment, but for the machinations of popular agitators—where the law was duly administered, and where the taxes were mild or none at all—they were, for the sake, and on the ground, of speculative and organic changes, which promised no advantage to the colonies, and which must prove utterly destructive of the analogy and harmony which had existed between the mother country and the Canadians, to be terrified from maintaining that which they believed to be just on the first manifestation of the spirit of insurrection. He trusted that, whether on the first outbreak or on the last, they would never show that they were terrified so long as their cause was just; but on the other hand, that justice, and not strength, should guide their proceedings, and that they would not suffer themselves to be swayed by threats or menaces, whether delivered in that House or expressed at the other side of the Atlantic. There were those, too, in the colonies whose interests they were bound to protect. Let it not be supposed that he meant to contend that this island should have distant portions of the globe for ever dependent upon it; but the time when a separation on the part of Canada might be beneficial had not certainly arrived at the present period, when her population was divided into two parties of different origin, and inflamed by their passions into continual collisions with each other. In this state of things, this country was enabled by her power to act as a mediator and umpire, and thus prevented contests which might be found still more fatal. The hon. Member for Kilkenny had referred to the cases of Ireland and the United States. He declined discussing the administration of Lord Mulgrave in Ireland. He refrained from going into particulars relative to the insurrection in the United States; but he must say, that the whole resistance of the American peo- 1455 ple was based on irrefutable facts, and on statements of positive and palpable grievances; and the abstract rights of man, such as they conceived them to be, were appealed to in support of the facts which had been previously stated. Let it, then, be shown that practical grievances existed in the case of the Canadians. The hon. Member for Westminster had ingeniously quoted the opinion of Dr. Franklin in favour of the opinion that this was a case in which the redress of grievances would not be attempted. If this had been true, he should confess that disturbances would follow naturally in the train of legislative consequences; but he found the case to be quite the contrary, for the attention of the home government had been actively engaged in considering, and the greatest care had been taken, and the most sedulous respect paid to, both the wants and wishes of the Canadian people; and he was not aware that, during the whole course of the discussions which occupied so many nights of the last Session, one single instance of a grievance unredressed was laid before the House which was not instantly refuted. If that were so, what became of the horrors—what became of the menaces, the anticipations, and the prophecies of evil, which the prophets themselves contributed more than any other party to verify? He rejoiced to find the hon. Member for Westminster confessing that, after a long series of speeches which might be supposed to convey the opinions of the British House of Commons, there were scarcely ten Members present who coincided in his views. He trusted that that Mouse would be ever ready to listen to complaints of grievances, come from what quarter they might. The hon. Member had referred to the American war, and quoted the language of Lord Chatham. The hon. Gentleman had come forward with no case of oppression—with nothing but a demand for organic changes; and he modestly asked, as a remedy for the dilemma in which we were placed, that Canada should be separated from the mother country. Had the hon. Gentleman forgotten that seventy years ago, Lord Chatham had pronounced his memorable words on his last great appearance, and declared that notwithstanding the oppression for which he ever sought to procure a remedy, and the resistance which he rejoiced to have seen take place, he was ready to spend his dying energies in expressing a hope that consent would never be given to separa- 1456 tion? The hon. Gentleman, it appeared, did not concur in the recommendation of the authority to which he had heedlessly appealed. He would no longer occupy the time of the House. Whether these manifestations of resistance were trifling, or on the other hand serious, he thought it was a subject on which there should be no exaggeration. He trusted that there would be not only firmness in their proceedings, but that a conciliatory spirit would pervade them; and, above all, that nothing would be granted which would weaken the connexion between Canada and the mother country, and that no act of apparent justice would be done which would be contrary to the laws of the country.
§ Sir William Molesworth
The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had asked what grievances the people of Canada had to complain of, and inquired if they were not in their person and property secure. He thought, if the hon. Gentleman had listened to the debates of last Session, he would find that it was admitted even by the Treasury benches, that there were many just causes of complaint existing with respect to the condition of the Canadians. They complained, that the Legislative Council was adverse to the wishes of the people, and rejected measures of the utmost importance which had been passed by the House of Assembly; that improper persons had been appointed to the high and responsible office of judges. They complained, that the House of Commons had refused to alter the constitution of the Legislative Council, and had passed statutes injuriously interfering with the internal concerns of the province. They alleged, that in times past, through the negligence of the colonial authorities, the Receiver-General had been permitted to fail to a large amount; and that the monies of the province had been repeatedly taken without the consent of the House of Assembly. But the last, greatest, and most severe grievance of all had been inflicted by the resolutions of that House, passed that year, to empower the governor to seize the money of the Canadian people. He, for one, should ever rejoice that he was so fortunate as to oppose those fatal and wicked resolutions, which the noble Lord, unhappily for his future fame as a statesman, still more unhappily for his renown as a consistent supporter of liberal opinions, had submitted last Session to the consideration of the House of Commons, for which measures it 1457 was likewise the noble Lord's misfortune to obtain the assent of this portion of the Legislature, and the eager and cordial approbation of the House of Peers. Those resolutions marked both a determination on the part of the Government to disregard the grievances and the wishes of the Canadian people, and an intention to violate the first and the most important principles of a free constitution, in the defence of which not only was rebellion justifiable, but resistance became the sacred and imperious duty of freemen—a duty which all who belonged to our race, whether on this or the other side of the Atlantic—all in whose veins English blood had circulated, had never failed to fulfil. Nor, though of different origin, had the Canadians as yet appeared less determined to maintain their rights than other portions of the British empire. For, as soon as the nature of these resolutions was known in their province the indignation of the people was aroused, and they hastened to take the steps which would in future frustrate the effects of similar measures. The chief object of the resolutions was, as he had already observed, to enable the government of Lower Canada to appropriate the monies of the people without the consent of the Canadian Legislature. In order to prevent similar acts of tyranny, the Canadians had resolved, that in future there should be no monies for the Government to appropriate. With this object in view, they determined not to consume the articles upon which the customs of the province were levied. The greatest portions of the revenues of the province consisted of duties on rum and brandy, of the former of which articles a million gallons were annually consumed, paying a duty of 1s. a gallon; of the latter 250,000 gallons, paying a duty of 1s. 6d. per gallon. Instead of these taxed liquors, the Canadians had determined to drink whiskey and beer; instead of tea, they had substituted a beverage made from roasted barley, beans, or bread crust; instead of the sugar of the sugar-cane, they would use the sugar of the maple; but, in addition to this course, which they had adopted for the purpose of diminishing the revenues of the province, they had resolved to be entirely independent of this country, and not to consume the productions of a people whose representatives had treated them with such cruel injustice. Instead, therefore, of the cloths and the woollens, instead of the cottons and the linens of our manufacture, 1458 they would be clad in their own homespun, in the coarse products of their own looms. Now, this was a most serious consideration, for of these fabrics this country annually exported to British North America a quantity, amounting in value to nearly one million pounds' worth—in another year, this sum would be considerably diminished. The consequence would be, that our manufacturers, who were suffering severely already from the want of a market for these articles, as he could unfortunately testify but too well, as Representative of one of the largest manufacturing communities in this empire—our manufactures, he said, and what was still worse, the labourers dependent upon them, would suffer still more severely than they now did, by a still further contraction of the market, and by the diminution of employment consequent thereon. Great additional misery, therefore, would be occasioned to this portion of the community by a quarrel with Canada. Nor let it be supposed, that when these turmoils were over this country would, as a matter of course, again supply the markets of British North America; for, if the present disputes should end, as was most probable, in a civil war, and if that civil war should terminate, as was still more probable, in the separation of the two countries, a considerable period must elapse ere commercial intercourse would be recommenced: meanwhile, the wants of the Canadians would give rise to rival fabrics in British North America, supplying the same articles as we were wont to supply; the manufacturers would form an interest hostile to our trade; they would expect, they would demand, protection for their produce, and in a certain degree they would appear justified in so doing, and in claiming a recompense for services rendered during a period of war. Thus this country would not only be deprived of its present trade to the Canadian provinces, but be cut off from that future extension of it which must take place to an enormous degree if this country were to continue to supply the markets of that great and flourishing province; a portion of the world which was now most rapidly increasing in a population fitted by taste and habits to consume our manufactures, and whose inhabitants this country could supply with the unrivalled produce of its manufacturing skill at the cheapest possible rate. He must beg pardon of the House for having dwelt somewhat at length on the possible 1459 consequences of a struggle with Canada, but he felt it a duty which he owed to the constituents who had so kindly placed him in his present distinguished position; and he trusted that the Representatives of the other great manufacturing emporiums of Birmingham, Sheffield, and Manchester, would equally feel it their duty to protest against a course of policy which would inevitably raise up rival manufacturing interests in the north of America, and which would cause the exclusion of our manufactures for a long time at least, to a great extent probably for ever, from the markets of a nation which already annually consumed two millions of the productions of this country—he must protest against a line of conduct which would make the Canadian nation view us with detestation, and induce them on the first occasion, and most justifiably, to give the sanction of the law to that non-intercourse which they had already proclaimed against this country. But, to return to the conduct pursued by the Canadians, in consequence of the arbitrary measures of the Government, for the purpose of enforcing the system of non-intercourse. In many of the counties public meetings were held, which were attended by the magistrates, the officers of militia, and other individuals of weight and importance. At these meetings resolutions were passed prohibiting the consumption of the obnoxious articles, and denouncing as enemies to the patriotic cause those who dared to disregard these injunctions; resolutions likewise were agreed to encouraging smuggling, as the easiest means of diminishing the public revenues, and of frustrating the views of the public enemies. At the same time, a general plan of organization was adopted and put in force throughout the country. Committees of vigilance were appointed in each parish and in each county to communicate with the central committee at Montreal. The object of the committees of vigilance was to enforce the regulations of the non-intercourse system, to which even the country traders had sworn obedience. The few persons who had acted in opposition to the popular feeling were admonished by the committees to be more patriotic in future, and in some cases the offenders were punished by the destruction of their property; but in general, these committees had had but little occupation, so strong was the public opinion on the subject—so willing were the people to obey, and to follow their leaders: Lord Gosford 1460 was, it would appear, alarmed by this conduct of the popular party; on the 15th of June, he issued a proclamation, in which he denounced as seditious and unlawful all meetings of a description similar to those just mentioned; he commanded all magistrates, militia officers, and peace officers, to prevent these assemblages by every means in their power. This proclamation produced no effect; meetings continued to be held, magistrates and other functionaries continued to attend, and, on one occasion it was said, the magistrates themselves tore to pieces the proclamation, in the presence and amidst the cheers of the assembled multitude. Militia officers were said to have acted in the same manner before their companies, to whom they were ordered to read the proclamation. Lord Gosford then proceeded to take the step of dismissing every magistrate and militia officer who he was informed had attended any one of these meetings. He would not say that Lord Gosford was to be condemned for this conduct, but he would say, that the persons dismissed considered themselves to be honoured by this act of the Government, and a number of magistrates who found that a similar distinction was not conferred upon themselves, hastened to resign their commissions. In the county of Two Mountains sixty commissions were said to have been returned at once. The functionaries who were dismissed or resigned on all occasions received the public thanks of the committees of their counties. In consequence of these dismissals and resignations, some of the counties were without acting magistrates: the people hastened to supply the want by appointing magistrates of their own. The following was the account he had received of the mode in which this was effected in the extensive county of Two Mountains. On the 15th of October there was a general meeting of the freeholders of that county, at which "sundry wise and discreet persons were chosen by each parish to fill the office of justice of the peace and pacificator." The duty of these justices was "to conciliate the differences and difficulties which may hereafter arise between the Reformers of their localities, with power to judge and determine all complaints which shall be brought before them." From the decision of the justice pacificator an appeal was instituted to the permanent committee of the county. To enforce these regulations, "Reformers were declared bound in honour to bring 1461 their cases before the justice-pacificator, in preference to the Queen's courts." Reformers who refused to acknowledge the authority of the said justices, or who carried their complaints before the Queen's courts "in preference to those of honour and conciliation now established, &c., were to be "deprived of their votes at any public meetings," and "not to be elected by Reformers to any office;" were to he "censured publicly, which censure was to be exposed on the church doors." With regard to the militia, it was resolved, "That the Reformers who began to drill should form themselves in each parish into volunteer companies of militia, under the command of officers elected by the militiamen, and shall be drilled in the management of fire-arms, and in light infantry evolutions and movements." It was resolved, likewise, that officers who had been dismissed be re-elected by the militia-men. In the midst of these events, on the 17th of August, the House of Assembly was called together. The governor, in his speech, officially communicated the resolutions which had been agreed to by the Imperial Parliament, informed the House of Assembly that the demise of the Crown would make no alteration in the councils of the Ministry, and concluded by asking for a vote of money to pay the salaries of the officials. The Assembly, in reply, maintained all its former positions, and refused to grant any money till the grievances complained of were redressed. The House of Assembly likewise, in its address to the governor, very properly commented in the strongest and most indignant terms on the resolutions in question. The House of Assembly said, "It is our duty to tell the mother country, that if she carries the spirit of these resolutions into effect in the Government of British America, and of this province particularly, her supremacy therein will no longer depend on the feelings of affection, of duty, and of material interest, which would best secure it, but on physical and material force." These plain words ought to make the deepest impression on our minds, and ought to convince us what would, be the conduct of the Canadian people if we did not hasten to do them justice. The tone of the debate in the House of Assembly on the Address was similar to that held at the public meetings throughout the country. The proclamation of the governor against these meetings was denounced, the conduct of the magistrates and others in 1462 attending them was highly approved of, and the people were exhorted to adhere to the system of non-intercourse, and to carry it out to its fullest extent. These determined proceedings on the part of the House of Assembly induced the governor to prorogue it on the 20th of August, after a session of only ten days. Since that period the system of organization to which he had already referred had been more and more extended throughout the province. Riots had taken place, blood had been shed, the troops had been called out, and there was every appearance of an approaching struggle. Such was the state of Lower Canada; but Upper Canada was by no means tranquil—a political union was extensively ramified throughout the townships and counties of Upper Canada, similar in many respects to the committees of vigilance in Lower Canada. The members of the union had set an example, which had been followed by their friends of the lower province: they had petitioned the Congress of the United States for a free trade between Canada and the neighbouring states, and in the meantime they have systematically encouraged smuggling by every means in their power. What had been the conduct of the Government in this crisis with regard to Upper Canada? The office of governor to that province was vacant. Whom ought a wise and reflecting Ministry to have chosen to fill this most important post? Undoubtedly some person eminent for his talents, still more eminent for his high virtues, who would have commanded the respect of all parties. To whom had the responsible advisers of the Crown confided the task of conciliating the inhabitants of Upper Canada, and inspiring them with regard for British authority? To the most obnoxious and unpopular person they could find in this country, with the exception of the gaoler of St. Helena, a gentleman whose conduct had excited the loudest and most vehement complaints, and produced almost rebellion in every colony over which he had ruled. Whether these complaints were just or not he would not pretend to say, but, whilst they existed, the policy of the Government in selecting such a person for so delicate an employment seemed most dubious. But he condemned this appointment on other grounds: he condemned it from having carefully studied the conduct of Colonel Arthur whilst that gentleman was governor of Van Diemen's Land, from having examined Colonel Arthur himself, and from 1463 his dispatches to the Colonial-office, which were laid before the Transportation Committee of last year, of which he (Sir W. Molesworth) had the honour to have been chairman. From that evidence it appeared that during the last twelve years Colonel Arthur had possessed despotic powers for the sole purpose of framing a system of atrocious and unheard-of cruelty, such as stood unparalleled in the annals of nations; his sole object was to inflict pain—intense pain—to render the condition of the convict most wretched and degraded—to make Van Diemen's Land what it now is, a hell upon earth—a fitting abode for the criminals, whom he by his tortures had converted into still worser fiends. He would most readily admit, that in so acting Colonel Arthur only obeyed the commands of the Colonial-office, that he in nowise outstripped or even acted up to the strict letter of those commands, and that he merely followed out the necessary consequences of transportation, and enforced a system of punishments, the existence of which was the deepest disgrace to this country. But he contended that the feelings, the habits, and the dispositions of a gentleman who twelve years had wielded the most uncontrolled authority, and for that period had administered, and could administer, such a frightful system of evil, must make him unfit to be the constitutional governor of a free province, inhabited, not, as the Australian colonies were, by the ruffians, felons, prostitutes, and outcasts of England, but by a high-minded and a moral race, who would feel most indignant at this insult. Nor were the other colonies of North America in that state of political repose and placid tranquillity which would be most agreeable to the feelings of the noble Lord who calmly slumbered at the head of the Colonial Department. Newfoundland had refused to grant supplies. Was a coercion bill ready for that province? Were the resolutions to seize its revenues prepared? Nova Scotia and Prince Edward's Island had both declared in favour of an elective Legislative Council; and in New Brunswick the most perfect harmony did not exist between the Assembly and the Executive. No reliance, therefore, could be placed on these provinces in a struggle between this country and Lower Canada. But to return to Lower Canada. The events to which he had referred, proved that the Canadians were determined not to submit to the mandates of her Majesty's Ministers—to pre- 1464 vent injustice by force—and, if needs be, to defend their rights by an appeal to the sword. Now, what course did her Majesty's Ministers intend to pursue? It seemed to him that they could prudently and wisely adopt but two courses. They ought either to attempt to conciliate the Canadians by acquiescing in all the demands of the House of Assembly, which were not inconsistent with the connexion of the two countries; they ought to grant an elective Legislative Council, and by these and similar measures they might prolong for some time the dominion of this country over Canada; the other and perhaps the wiser course would be now to propose a separation of the two countries, as the mass of the Canadian people no longer desired the dominion of this country; and when the greatest portion of the population of a colony felt dissatisfied with the authority of the mother country, then it appeared to him that the period was arrived when a friendly separation would be beneficial to the interests of both countries. These were the only alternatives which could be beneficially adopted—the remaining alternative, the one which he feared Ministers intended to pursue was to adhere to their past policy, and to assert the supremacy of this country over Canada without redressing the grievances of the Canadian people. The inevitable result of such a course would be a civil war, unless the people of this country were, as he trusted they were, wise enough to forbid it, and to hurl from power the administration who would dare to propose an appeal to arms. He feared that it was the intention of Ministers to pursue the course which would lead to a civil war, because he found they were sending troops to Canada. Could the Ministers, he would ask, depend upon the soldiers in Canada? Desertion, he understood, was going on to a great extent, especially in Upper Canada; hardly a week passed that the muster-roll of each regiment was not diminished in this manner; thirty soldiers in one week deserted from Toronto alone; parties were obliged to be stationed at the points of easy egress to the American frontier, in order to prevent desertion, and these parties (generally Serjeants' parties) sometimes deserted themselves. The 24th regiment, he had been informed, had nearly been renewed since it had been in Canada. Nor was desertion to be wondered at when the rate of wages and the demand for labour across the lines were known. A labourer could 1465 obtain from fifteen to twenty dollars a month; and as rich land costs only a dollar and a half an acre, the labourer can, by a few months' savings, make himself independent. With regard to the demand for labour, advertisements of the following kinds were not unfrequently to be seen in Canadian papers:—"Five thousand labourers wanted at Indianopolis, Indiana, at from fifteen to twenty dollars a month, and board." It seemed to him that a British soldier would be patriotic to a romantic degree, who would not, even in time of peace, prefer twenty dollars a month and board in Indiana, to sixpence a day and the privilege of being flogged in the British army; but in time of war, in an unjust and unholy war, as this would be, the patriotism of a soldier who would remain in the British service one moment longer than he could help, would be miraculous, tempted its that soldier undoubtedly would be by an offer of a portion of the territories of the anti-popular party, for instance; by a share in the fertile possessions of the Land Company, or in the rich fiefs of Beauharnais. In all events, therefore, a war with Canada would be attended with the greatest difficulties. "I shudder, Sir," said the hon. Baronet "at the idea of the consequences of a civil war with Canada; it would undoubtedly involve this country in a contest with the United States of America: first, it would bring our Government in collision with the Governments of the States bordering on Canada, for volunteers by thousands would swarm into Lower Canada from Maine, Vermont, New York, and Kentucky, animated they would be by the love of adventure—animated still more by the desire of driving the last relics of monarchy from North America, tempted likewise by the promises of rich lands, by the possessions of the anti-popular party; in this respect, I say, let Texas be a warning of what we may expect from America in the event of a struggle for Canada. Though this interference in the affairs of Canada would at first be confined to individual Americans, it would not terminate there; the conduct of American subjects would not be passed over unnoticed by our Government; complaints and remonstrances would be made to the Union, and the Union would be called upon to prevent its subjects from bearing arms against our troops: this, even if it were willing to do, it could not effect, for how powerful so ever the central government of the United States may 1466 be when it goes along with the wishes of the people, it is most feeble when the people are opposed or indifferent to its commands, or when one or more of the sovereign states are desirous of evading its decrees: it is exactly in a case like this that the central government of that republic is weakest; for how anxious so ever it may be, from general views of policy, to prevent all interference in the affairs of Canada—all hostilities with this country—yet its people will see in this struggle, but a repetition of their own glorious struggle for independence; they will behold in the conduct of England towards Canada the sequel of those despotic and unjust principles which a little more than half a century ago caused them to shake off our yoke—they will rejoice in the triumph of the Canadians, as the great and final victory of democracy in the New World—they will sympathise with their northern brethren as sufferers in the same great cause of liberty; and animated by these noble, these go d, and generous feelings, they will take a part in that conflict, which, whatever may be the temporary vicissitudes of war, will never terminate till our dominion in America be for ever destroyed. That that dominion should now be brought to a conclusion I, for one, most sincerely desire, but I desire it should terminate in peace and friendship, leaving behind it the memory of past kindnesses and mutual benefits, paving the way to new and more intimate connexions, arising from commercial intercourse and the opening of new channels of beneficial trade, leaving, therefore, to this country all the advantages of a vast and increasing market for our manufactures, without the burden, vexation, and expense of governing a. remote region. Great would be the advantages of an amicable separation of the two countries, and great would be the honour this country would reap in consenting to such a separation; and great would be the renown which a Ministry would derive from proposing such a measure. I can hardly endure to look at the consequences of a forcible separation. The expenditure of blood and of treasure, great as they would be, are not the greatest among the evils which such a war will engender; we must calculate the baneful prejudices, the odious antipathies, which it will produce amongst nations, whose mutual interest it is to cultivate kindly feelings towards one another We must remember more than half a 1467 century has hardly sufficed to obliterate the bad feelings between this country and America, which resulted from the American struggle for independence; and now, when the two nations have begun, as they ought, mutually to admire and respect one another, it must be a matter of the deepest regret to all thinking minds that a new conflict should disturb the relations of amity which are equally beneficial to both. Moreover, such a war invariably appeals to the vilest passions of a nation—to its worst national vanities, and tends, for a time, to put a stop to all improvements and many who fear the march of improvement will, I doubt not, gladly seize upon such an opportunity as the present with the hope of occupying by war the national mind, and turning it away from the consideration of reform, and thus delaying, for a time, the progress of all reform. I sincerely trust, that the people of this country are enlightened enough to forbid such a war, to disregard the prejudices in favour of extended dominion, and count as little the loss of a useless portion of their territories, when those territories can only be maintained by the infliction of such enormous evils. Should, however, a war take place, I must declare that I should more deplore success on the part of this country than defeat; and though as an English citizen I could, not but lament the disasters of my countrymen, still it would be to me a matter of less poignant regret than a success which would offer to the world the disastrous and disgraceful spectacle of a free and mighty nation succeeding by force of arms in putting down and tyrannising over a free though feebler community struggling in defence of its just lights. May such a calamity be averted. May such a reproach never fall upon this country; but if unhappily a war does ensue, may speedy victory crown the efforts of the Canadians, and may the curses and execrations of the indignant people of this empire alight upon the heads of those Ministers, who, by their misgovernment, ignorance, and imprudence, involve us in the calamities of civil discord, and expend our national resources in an unholy struggle against liberty.
§ Mr. C. Lushington
appealed to the Chair whether such language as the hon. Baronet had used was proper for the House to hear?
§ Sir G. Grey
, understanding that the hon. Baronet had concluded his speech, would take the liberty of addressing a few observations to the House. It was not his intention to enter upon a consideration of all the various topics which had been introduced into the discussion, and which he thought might well have been postponed till information respecting events in Canada should be before the House in an authentic shape. He was confident that that information would tend to correct some of the statements, or, as he might properly characterise them, gross misrepresentations of facts and of the real state of affairs existing in Canada which had been made to the House. The hon. Members for Kilkenny, Westminster, and Leeds, would all lead the House to suppose that there was a conflict between the British Government on the one hand, and the undivided people of an independent colony on the other. In the face of that House, and in the face of the country, he denied the truth of that statement. The hon. Members who had spoken seemed very carefully to have examined the Canadian papers, for the resolutions passed at public meetings by those of the inhabitants of those provinces who were in opposition to the British Government; but had they been equally careful of noticing the numerous meetings which had been held in different parts of the provinces, at which some of the most influential of the Canadians had recorded, in the strongest and most perspicuous manner, their sense of the value of the British Constitution, their decided attachment to the British constitution, and their firm determination to uphold by all means in their power the connexion existing between the two countries? Were not these hon. Members aware that a powerful and numerous minority denounced the measures which were taken by some leading persons of influence in the Colonial Assembly, as destructive to their interests, for the protection of which they relied on their connexion with this country? The fact was, that the. large class of which he spoke, having invested their capital in the colony, in dependence on the security which the connexion with the mother country afforded, dreaded the 1469 success of any measures which would lead to a separation of the countries, which, however desirable it might be to some hon. Members in that House, would be attended with ruinous results not only to the British but also to the French population of Canada. He begged to remind the House, that that population enjoyed many advantages under the dominion of the British Crown. They were most lightly taxed; they possessed the privileges of British subjects, and those privileges were more respected by the British Government than they would be were the colonists once amalgamated with the population of the United States. He might also inform the House, that there was a great portion of the colony within which the unhappy state of things which had been referred to did not exist. It was a great public calamity that a portion of the provinces was in a discontented condition; and if not actually in insurrection, at least bordering on that state. Collisions had taken place between the inhabitants and the British troops. But such disorders did not extend over the greater portion of the surface of the colony, for there was a large district in which the authority of the Government was respected. The hon. Member for Westminster had referred to the unhappy occurrence which occurred during the last month at Montreal, and had charged the Government with taking part with a lawless mob, and with opposing the French Canadians, and driving them out of the town.
§ Mr. Leader
said, that he did not accuse the Government of such a proceeding. He had only stated, that such was the opinion of the Canadian population.
§ Sir G. Grey
was surprised to learn, that the people of the colony were not aware that in that affair the French Canadians were the aggressors, and that they were driven out of the town by the indignant inhabitants. The British soldiery were called out, it was true; but for what purpose? To protect Mr. Papineau's property from those whose feelings had been excited by an unprovoked outrage. It was to the interference of the Government that Mr. Papineau owed the preservation of his property. Allusion had been made to the hostility which existed between the two races composing the Canadian population. That was a fact deeply to be deplored; but the Government had honestly and zealously applied themselves to remove 1470 that feeling of jealousy. It had been its earnest object to reconcile the moderate men of both parties, who desired the redress of real grievances, and were opposed to every measure having a tendency to sever the colony from the mother country. Hitherto the attempt to moderate the extreme opinions of either party had to a certain extent failed, but he trusted that the example set on a former occasion by that House, when party feeling was merged in a general desire to promote the advantage of the empire at large, would have the effect of rallying round the Government of Canada in the present crisis all men who were anxious to prevent the spilling of blood, and to see peace restored. With respect to what had fallen from the hon. Baronet, the Member for Leeds, he must say, that that hon. Baronet had taken a most mistaken view of the feelings of the inhabitants of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In Upper Canada every soldier had been dispensed with by the Lieutenant-Governor of that province, who, feeling that he could rely on the unshaken loyalty of the inhabitants, had sent the military to assist in suppressing any outrage that might be committed in the lower province. The latest intelligence from New Brunswick was, that an unanimous vote had been passed by the House of Assembly, expressing their gratitude in warm terms for the policy pursued by the British Government towards them; and that policy differed in no respect from that which had been acted upon with regard to Lower Canada up to the last summer. To the general charges brought against the Government by the hon. Member for Kilkenny it was not his intention to trouble the House by replying. That hon. Member had, with surprising impartiality, denounced every colonial governor as a tyrant. To a general charge of that kind he could only give a general denial; but the imputations which had been thrown out against Colonel Arthur he felt bound to notice. The hon. Baronet, the Member for Leeds had said, that Colonel Arthur was totally unfit to conduct the government of a liberal and free-minded people; and had also referred to the evidence given before the Transportation Committee. Until the present moment he was not aware, that any opinion unfavourable to Colonel Arthur was entertained by any Member of that Committee; and certainly his opinion of 1471 Colonel Arthur's conduct differed very materially from that entertained by the hon. Baronet. It was his opinion, that the colony of Van Diemen's Land flourished under Colonel Arthur's rule to an unprecedented extent, and under circumstances naturally disadvantageous. The hon. Baronet I ad said, that Colonel Arthur had only executed his instructions. It was, then, the instructions, and not Colonel Arthur, that ought to be blamed. Colonel Arthur had served under various colonial secretaries, and had received marks of approbation from many holding different political opinions. On his return to England from that colony, Colonel Arthur did not shrink from meeting the charges brought against him. Not one could be substantiated; indeed, only one was persisted in, and it would be in the recollection of the House, that that was satisfactorily refuted. An hon. Member asked whether he had not heard of a certain Honduras memorial. In answer to that question, he might slate, that the hon. Member for Southwark had a few nights ago given notice of a motion for the production of a letter sent from Honduras to Lord Bathurst in 1822. He had looked for the document but had been unable to find one of that description; but he discovered a memorial presented in the preceding year from Honduras, deprecating the return of Colonel Arthur in the strongest terms. There also existed another document relating to Colonel Arthur's conduct in liberating certain persons whom he believed to be unjustly held in slavery. This brought on him the odium of the slavemasters; but it was found afterwards that his conduct was perfectly proper. When, therefore, the hon. Member for Southwark made his motion, he would take care also to call for a copy of those two documents. He was confident that the choice made by the Ministry of this officer for the Government of Canada would be fully justified by the wise liberality and firmness with which he would discharge his duties. The hon. Member for Leeds had stated, that many British troops had fallen. He saw no reason for believing that statement; and indeed he did not think that even one had fallen. In conclusion he expressed his confidence, that the Government, backed by the authority of Parliament, would be enabled to stem the tide of insurrection in Canada, and to restore to that colony the advantages of peace 1472 and tranquillity, which it might long enjoy under the dominion of the British Crown.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, that if the present position of affairs in Canada was attributable to the conduct or misconduct of any particular party in Canada, he should have thought it desirable to have waited for the papers proposed to be laid on the table by the noble Lord; but considering the existing posture of affairs in that province to be the natural consequence of an infant colony opening into manhood, he did not see how the information which the papers contained could assist their discussion. The conduct which had been adopted by the British Government towards Canada he would not call criminal, but he would give it a name which generally implied what was worse than a political crime; he should call it a political blunder. An hon. Member had attempted to show that the conduct of the British Government in Canada had not been oppressive. That might be considered oppressive by a people on the other side of the Atlantic which would not be considered oppressive in this country. The conduct of Marshal Suchet in the Government of several provinces in Spain had been greatly admired out of that country. He had introduced into those provinces the greatest improvements; and his administration of power was infinitely superior to that of the preceding authorities. Yet the resistance of the people of those provinces to his measures was justifiable, for the changes were not in accordance with their wishes. We must not judge of the feelings and principles of the inhabitants of other countries by our own feelings and principles. How well was it said by Mr. Fox with reference to the Canadians, in the debate on the Quebec Bill, "Make them feel that their institutions may be advantageously compared with the republican institutions of neighbouring states." Who would tell him (Mr. Warburton), when during the last twelve years the table of the House had been covered with petitions from the Canadians complaining of their grievances, when Committee on Committee had been appointed to take those grievances into consideration, and when the justice which this country always professed its disposition to administer had been so tardy in its administration as not to be worth having—who would tell him that the Canadians had no cause for dissatis- 1473 faction? Look at all those things, and then could it be said that they had no reason to complain of oppression, and of the acts of the legislature and Government of this country? There had been two courses open to her Majesty's Government on the subject. On the one hand there was the course which had been so often recommended, not merely by a few persons on his side of the House, but by enlightened Members on the other side of the House. This was the course so strongly recommended by Lord Ashburton when he had a seat in that House, "Let the Canadians," said that noble Lord, "be governed in such a manner as may prepare them at the earliest possible period for a state of independence." Had that been done? Instead of characterising the demands of the Canadians by the term "organic changes," it ought to have been considered whether those demands related to objects which the Canadians themselves thought desirable. If, on the whole, concession to those demands would have introduced a greater portion of democratic arrangement, what had that to do with the question whether those arrangements would be consistent with the principles of our government at home? Why not give the Canadian people that which it was evident their hearts were so ardently set upon? Had they not repeatedly demanded an elective Council? Why not give it them? "Oh, but," exclaimed the opponents of their claims, "that would be to organize a change." The answer was, that it was the change which the Canadians wished for. That was one course which might be pursued. They might grant the Canadians all the changes they required. If they did that, the separation of the Canadas from the mother country might be for a considerable time deferred. If they would not consent to do that, they might come to the alternative to which, sooner or later, they must arrive—separation. Let the House consider the advantages which would belong to this or to that course. In the first place let them consider the enormous expense which had attended the maintenance of the administration of power in the Canadian colonies. Those expenses were not on the ordinary scale of the general system. There must be taken into the account the enormous sums which it had been necessary to expend for the purpose of advancing the prosperity of 1474 the colony. Twelve years ago, when he first entered that House, one of the first subjects which he had heard discussed was the Rideau canal, the expense of which was estimated at above a million and a half of money. That was only a single instance of the vast expense to which the colonies had subjected the mother country. No colony, while the mother country was employed in raising it up, was ever productive to that country. The object was to plant on a deserted soil, or on a soil inhabited only by savage hordes, a population which, when it became powerful and enlightened, might become consumers of the produce of the nation from which they sprung. That was the promised advantage to which all states looked when they planted colonies. Up to the present period the Canadas had been productive of nothing to the mother country but expense. To get rid of them, therefore, would be to get rid of a certain loss of money. The very trading monopoly occasioned by our possession of the Canadas had (as he had frequently represented to the House) cost the country 1,200,000l. in the amount of duties. If they got rid of the Canadas, that extension of trade would follow which was the necessary consequence of the independence and prosperity of a colony. All the advantages would accrue to both countries which under the principles of free trade, must flow from an interchange of commerce. Such was the invariable result of the prosperity that followed the establishment of independence. The next advantage would be the encouragement to emigration which would be occasioned by separation. If the House inquired into the extent of emigration from this country to the United States while those states were colonies of Great Britain, with the extent of emigration after those colonies became independent, they would see that the increased demand for labour which followed independence was the source of very extensive emigration. Let no one say, that at present there was a great opening in the Canadas for our superabundant population, which if they became independent would be dried up; for as the Canadas increased in prosperity the emigration to them from this country would increase in proportion. But there were other advantages, too obvious to render it necessary to dwell upon them. There was the saving of the expense and misery of a cruel and 1475 disgraceful civil war. The next advantage was the escape from the danger in which we were placed while we maintained these colonies of being engaged in war with other countries. Disagreements had already taken place between the diplomatic agents of this country and of the United States, with reference to the boundaries. Those boundaries were yet unsettled; and on the settlement of them it was not impossible that discussions might arise which would involve the two nations in hostilities. Now, if we were to make up our minds to an amicable separation, we should avoid all the consequences of war; we should avoid all the bad feelings engendered by every war, and which were produced in an aggravated shape by civil war. He trusted, therefore, that they would put aside those sentiments of national pride by which so many persons were influenced, and which frequently led governments to adopt measures which they knew in their hearts would be injurious to the countries the affairs of which they were administering. So far was he from regarding a separation with feelings of shame or disgrace (he believed the alternative would be productive of more shame and disgrace), that he devoutly wished the period of such separation had arrived; convinced as he was that the change which would then take place in the relations between the colonies and the mother country would be advantageous to all parties. If, on the other hand, they determined to retain the Canadas by war, they must be prepared to incur all the disadvantages of such a course of proceeding. What he most feared as the consequence of the breaking out of civil war in the Canadas was, that it might involve us in hostility with the United States, and that would necessarily lead to the breaking out of war in Europe. The course of events which would lead to this result, and which had been already pointed out by an hon. Baronet, was obvious. Thousands of American citizens would cross the boundaries for the purpose of assisting the Canadians. That would occasion complaints by Great Britain that the United States were taking part against us in the quarrel between ourselves and our colonies. Now, they all knew that the government of the United States, if they were inclined to do so, could not prevent American citizens from taking part in that quarrel. But the circumstance would produce a state of exasperation be- 1476 tween the two countries, and the transition to war would be easy. This country, then, would be engaged in hostilities with the United States: and being so engaged, a quarrel between this country and some of the European States would inevitably follow. If he were asked what powers were most likely, if they did not actually engage in war with us, to take a course which would be highly detrimental to our interests, he would say all the northern powers of Europe. Russia, Prussia, Sweden, Norway, if they did not do so openly, would secretly endeavour to promote the cause of the Canadians, in order to destroy the forced trade which we had established with the Canadas; and to recover their full and free trade with this country. This was an object which would render all those powers either the open or the secret allies of the Canadians. As to the question of the advantages or disadvantages which would result to the people of Canada from a separation from this country, that, of course, was a matter of opinion. But if a people took up arms, and subjected themselves to all the penalties attendant upon revolt and insurrection for the attainment of what they considered a beneficial object, it could not but be acknowledged that of the value of that object they must be the best judges. It was idle, therefore, to talk of drawing up a bill of indictment against the Canadians. He was satisfied by their conduct that they wished to discontinue their connexion with this country. It had been frankly admitted that the supporters of the British Government in Canada were only a minority of the population. And vet, forsooth! for the sake of that minority we were to plunge into civil war. The loyalists in America, on the breaking out of the revolution, were a minority. The Orangemen in Ireland were a minority. To tell him that the acknowledged fact of the friends of British connection being in a minority in Canada was not a proof that it was not desirable to maintain that connection was to tell him what he could not understand. He must say, that the conduct pursued with reference to this subject by the present Government, considering to what party in the state they belonged, struck him with astonishment. In the coarse of his reading, as bearing upon the history of this country, he had always admired the conduct of the Whigs at the time of the quarrel between the American colonies and the mother 1477 country as one of the brightest efforts that had ever been made in the cause of freedom. What would be said, therefore, if the very same party were to pursue an opposite course in the present instance?Who would not laugh if such a one there beWho would not weep if Atticus were he?If, however, the indications which had that night been given were to be followed up; if the course which had been darkly shadowed out were realized; if that were carried into effect, which he feared he but too truly anticipated, he should feel it his duty to do all in his power to oppose a government so acting. For he could foresee nothing from such a course but a repetition of all the disgrace which we had incurred in vainly endeavouring to prevent the United States from acquiring their independence. Still, he could not but believe that her Majesty's Government, having before them the history of the American war, and seeing that similar consequences were likely to result from engaging in a similar contest with Canada, would be sensible of their error. If they should really entertain this feeling, if they should at length come to the conclusion at which he (Mr. Warburton) had arrived, namely, that the separation would be advantageous to the mother country, he hoped they would make up their minds to relinquish their opposition to that separation, and not to plunge into a civil war which must lead to disastrous consequences in whatever way it might terminate. If in such a war they should triumph, they would triumph. They would "make a solitude, and call it peace." If they held the colony they could hope to retain it only by a monstrous expenditure; and, whatever the expenditure might be, it would eventually be ineffectual. If, on the contrary, as was recommended by his part of the House, they agreed to the terms of an amicable separation, they would derive from it all the advantages which he had described, and many more which he would not take up the time of the House by enumerating; and, so far from losing the advantages of the connexion between the colony and the mother country, those advantages would be increased to a tenfold degree. But, independently of the question of separation, (and a separation was not inevitable at the present moment), Government bad the alternative of granting all the changes which the Canadians wanted, whether organic or 1478 not, or of plunging into a war, the termination of which no man could foresee. He was aware that the number of individuals in that House disposed to support the cause of the Canadians was not large. If Parliaments were shorter, or if they were nearer a general election, he should expect better things. Unfortunately they were at the commencement of a Parliament; and therefore could not feel any assurance that many Members would be found disposed to oppose the court. But whether the House or the Government did or did not pursue the course which he recommended, he anticipated that the period would shortly arrive when the consequences of the breaking out of the war would become manifest, and when the opposition of Government to liberal principles should be more distinctly marked, the great majority of the people would declare themselves in favour of the cause which now met with so few supporters in that House. When the people experienced all the evils of war, when they found their comforts diminished, when they found all improvement stopped, when they found all attempts at national education at an end, their eyes would be opened, and they would raise their voices against a policy productive of so much mischief.
§ Mr. George F. Young
said, it was melancholy and humiliating that British senators should have indulged in such language as he had that night heard, and that men holding their high station should have dwelt with calmness and pleasure on a picture the most revolting; and that they should have pointed the way by which the enemies of England might, most easily, assail their country,—that they should have shown how a colony in a state of insurrection could most easily triumph over the laws, and in what part their country was most vulnerable. The language he had that night heard reminded him of the advice which he had heard had been given to the people of Ireland, "Trust in God, but keep your powder dry;" for although loyalty and peace had been talked of, it had been shown how the Canadians might obtain the greatest success, when they came in contact with her Majesty's troops. He did not expect that those holding the high station occupied by the hon. Member for Westminster, and the hon. Baronet, the Member for Leeds, would have adopted such a course or have made use of such language, and he was 1479 sure the country would hear with astonishment the sentiments which had been uttered that night by those hon. Members. There was more than one prominent fallacy pervaded the whole of the arguments and statements of the hon. Baronet, the Member for Leeds. That, however, was no matter for surprise, as it was the common mode of the small knot of politicians to which the hon. Baronet belonged, and of which he had apparently become the head since the late Member for Bath had lost his seat in that House, to pretend to a monopoly of all the information regarding Canada. Many, however, were at least equally well informed with themselves; and while the hon. Gentleman tried to alarm that House and the country by exaggerated statements, he would venture to put forward a very different picture, founded on solid information. The only effect of the hon. Baronet's language would be, to stimulate the efforts of those who were opposed to the Government in Canada. The hon. Baronet had said the extent of desertion from the army was enormous, but he could tell the hon. Baronet that although the inducements were very great, desertion had been much less since the province was in a state of discontent than previously. The hon. Baronet had next said that all the people of Canada were averse to British connexion and rule. Now it ought to be recollected that the population of Lower Canada was one fourth British, and three fourths French, and the British were all but universally in favour of the government of Canada by the mother country. Nor were the French Canadians so much averse to British connexion as had been represented. They were peaceable, quiet, and orderly, and in the main as much attached to the mother country as the British population. Their priests, too, who had great influence over the people, entertained the same feelings of attachment to England, and had no wish for a separation. When the hon. Baronet talked of the causes of the disturbance in Canada, he looked further for those causes than was proper. If he had been called on to account for the state of excitement in which that country unhappily was, he would not have left out of the number of causes which might be stated, the inflammatory harangues which had been addressed to the Canadians, not only in their own country, but nearer home, and within 1480 the walls of that House. During last Session, and in former Sessions, some of the speeches delivered in that House had been of the most inflammatory kind; and he was sorry to find that such a course of conduct was not yet abandoned, although the standard of insurrection, had been raised. If he were to follow the arguments which had been used in regard to the value of our connexion with Canada, he thought he would have little difficulty in showing the conclusions to have been erroneous. The advantages of separation were stated to be three,—a greater outlet to our manufactures, an increase in our shipping, and a wider opening for emigration. In regard to the first and the last he would not make any observations, but confine himself to the second, with which he was more intimately acquainted. With reference to the second head, he could state the conclusions to have been most erroneous; but he thought the question ought not to be examined on such narrow grounds, and that it ought to be investigated on principles of national justice and national honour. With regard to the shipping being increased, he would ask the hon. Baronet if he knew that all the carrying trade between Great Britain and the United States was in the hands of the Americans. There was no foundation, therefore, for the inference that the separation of Canada from the mother country would be beneficial to the shipping interest. He would say, however, that national justice and national honour were involved in this case, and he was not a little astonished at what had been said by the hon. Member for Westminster, that those who deserted would have a part of those rich lands which the Government had given to the American Land Company. That, they were told, was to be a part of the spoil—that was the rich prize which was to be the reward of desertion. Now he would ask whether it were justice to those who had invested their capital in that speculation, a speculation which had been most beneficial to Canada,—he would ask whether it were justice that they should be deprived of the guarantee for the capital they had invested, trusting to the good faith of the Government? Had those also who had emigrated no claim upon this country, and were they to give up Canada to those who would oppress those individuals who had left this country, and who were attached to British 1481 connexions? Such a course would not be justice, and it would be disgraceful to the Government and to this country. For these reasons he thought the hon. Member for Ashburton had done no more than express an honest indignation at the language used by those who had advocated such a disgraceful line of policy. When the House was in flames would they stop to inquire the cause,—would they not first seek to extinguish the burning? The hon. Member for Bridport might indulge in philosophical harangues, but he felt that the advantage of colonial possessions was too great to be disposed of, as the hon. Member and the little band of politicians with which he was surrounded seemed to wish, and he was sure that the country would not consent to part with them so easily. Allusion had been made to the war with the United States of America, and an analogy had been attempted to be drawn betwixt the present condition of Canada and that of the United States previous to the breaking out of that war. If, however, the matter were fully and fairly examined, it would be found that no such analogy existed. The hon. Gentlemen opposite begged the whole question by saying that the people of England would not support the Government in an unjust war. He hoped they would not. He hoped no war would take place, notwithstanding the sneer of the hon. Member for Westminster, who ventured to say that he supposed that hon. Gentlemen on the side of the House where he (Mr. Young) sat would support a war, because they might profit by it. He believed that there was no justifiable foundation whatever for the attempt which had been made to subvert the British power in Canada, and that the attempt found no sympathy or support among the great mass of the Canadian people. On the contrary, he believed that if that contingency should arise which the hon. Member for Bridport seemed to anticipate, they would put themselves in opposition to the insurgents, and assist in the maintenance of the authority of the British Government. Had not many hon. Members declared on the hustings, from which they had recently come into that House, as he did, that they were in favour of the policy pursued by the Government, and was there any dissatisfaction expressed by the constituents when they heard that declara- 1482 tion? None. Indeed, he believed that the people of this country would rather reject candidates if, like the hon. Member for Westminster, they openly avowed their desire to see the colony sacrificed to the machinators of a few outrages, who wished to introduce nothing but anarchy and ruin into Canada. He spoke thus, because he had always acted on the principle of measures and not men. If it could be proved that those who were intrusted with the powers of government in Canada abused their trust, let them be called to account, and impeached, and punished. But in the mean time, until the disorders which had now unfortunately broken out were put down by a salutary use of the authority and executive powers of the law, he should feel it his duty to give his support to the Government in the course they were pursuing. One word more—the hon. Member for Westminster alluded to one outrage said to have been committed by some belonging to that party of the Canadians who were attached to the British Government; but he did not say anything of the numerous outrages committed by the disaffected agitators, who in some instances had gone to magistrates, and by threatening their lives, had compelled them to resign their commissions.
§ Mr. Grote
, in the few observations which he should make upon the present crisis, did not intend to expose himself to anything like a charge of using expressions of triumph and exultation—expressions which had been most improperly and most unjustly applied by the hon. Member who spoke last, and by several other speakers on the other side of the House, to the hon. Gentlemen who sat behind him—his own feeling upon the subject was one of deep sadness and concern. If, indeed, there were in his bosom one lurking feeling of triumph, it rested solely upon the recollection that he was one of the very small minority who offered their most strenuous opposition to the fatal resolutions of the last Session, and which had given birth to all the present disasters in Canada. He would not have the responsibility of those resolutions upon his conscience, taking them in connexion with all the consequences to which they were destined to give birth, for anything that could be offered him. There was no part of his public conduct to which he looked back with such unqualified gratification, as to that in which he, united with a few 1483 others, had carried his opposition to the utmost verge that the forms of the House would allow, to prevent, if possible, the passing of anything so unjust as those resolutions to which all the present calamities of Canada were attributable. Every prediction which the opponents of the resolutions ventured to hazard had since been verified, and more than verified, in the way of calamitous consequences. However disagreeable it might be to the hon. Gentlemen opposite to entertain the idea of separation from Canada, he was quite sure that no person could weigh the subject well without seeing that that topic must, before long be brought under the mature consideration of every reflecting man in the kingdom. When the resolutions of last year were under discussion, he said that there were two things, either of which it was desirable (though certainly not equally desirable) to accomplish, either an amicable union, or, at least, an amicable separation. From the present posture of affairs he very much feared that neither the one nor the other of these alternatives would soon be within their reach. Notwithstanding the urgency of the time and the great changes of circumstances which had since taken place, he regretted to find the same tone adopted by the Government and the hon. Gentlemen who supported the views of the Government as that by which they seemed to be inspired when the fatal resolutions were under discussion. He regretted to find the same confidence expressed by the Government and by so many hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, that it wanted only the expression of a strong opinion from a large majority in the British Parliament at once to put down all idea of resistance in the minds of the people of Canada. Last year all the disturbances, all the disquiet of the province was attributed to a few agitators, who were talked of as insignificant and unworthy of a serious regard; and even now, the same language was held, although occurrence after occurrence took place to show that such talk was nothing better than the grossest delusion. It had been asserted by many Gentlemen in the course of the debate, that there was no analogy between the present slate of Canada and that of the provinces of the United States in 1774. But he had not heard one single argument to prove to him that there was any disparity whatever between the two cases. He contended 1484 not only that the treatment of England towards Canada was analogous to that of the treatment of England towards the United States, but that the grievances of which the Canadians complained were also in every respect exactly analogous to the grievances of which the United States complained. The principal grievance arose in fact, out of the right of the British Government to take the people's money. That was the chief ground of the complaint of the United States in 1774; it was also the chief ground of the complaint of Canada at the present moment. By the resolutions of last year, the Canadian people were substantially deprived of all control over their own revenues and their own treasury. He had listened with surprise to the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Gladstone) when he said, as he had done that evening, that it was not a mere speculative grievance, or grievance of principle, but a series of protracted oppressions which had led the United States of America to shake off the yoke of Britain. That statement was entirely inaccurate. It was not necessary to read more than the speech of Mr. Burke upon the subject to be convinced that the resistance of the Americans arose entirely out of the assumed right of the British Parliament to tax them without consulting their own Legislature. In point of fact the British Parliament did not take any money—did not exercise the right it claimed in that respect; it was the mere claim of the right which caused the bloody and protracted war in which the Americans engaged, and in which they would rather have died than submit to what they conceived to be the injustice and tyranny of the mother country. He believed that no great practical grievance had been entailed upon Canada, any more than upon the United States, but the British Legislature unfortunately assumed over the former, as it had done over the latter, a right of control, which, however the noble Lord, the Member for Stroud (Lord John Russell) might regard it, he was sure would have been considered by the Lord Russell of former days, and by Algernon Sydney, as equal to a sentence of slavery. Although he admitted that in the present circumstances the question of union, or separation between the mother country and the colony, was accompanied with difficulties peculiar to the time, yet he maintained that the British Legislature must not fear or even 1485 delay to face the evils of which it had itself been the cause. After matters had come to such a pass as that in which they now stood in Canada, how could the British Legislature hope to govern the colony except by superiority of force—how could it ever hope that its occupation of the country should be other than one of continual disturbance, revolting to the feelings of those who had to keep it, and absolutely intolerable to those who had to submit to it. Surely the material advantages, in point of wealth and commerce, must be great indeed if they could be worth purchasing at the cost of eternal coercion and an unceasing struggle to put down the feelings of the great mass of the Canadian people. Whether the state of affairs in Canada was as serious as had been represented or not, it was at all events, certain that a series of disturbances had taken place; and that the tendency of things was such as to render the continuance of pacific government scarcely to be expected under any circumstances; even if the House were disposed, which he did not think it was, to adopt a conciliatory course, it was much to be feared that it would now fail of producing that happy effect which, if adopted at an earlier period, it would have undoubtedly secured. Although sufficient information had not yet been received to enable them to estimate the extent to which the flame of rebellion had spread, they had still sufficient knowledge upon the subject to convince them that all the care and attention of the Government would be required to meet the difficulty in which the country and the colony were involved. He should be pleased to find that the rebellion had not reached the height which many Gentlemen seemed to anticipate, because it might give time to the Government to retrace, and perhaps retrieve, its policy. In conclusion he implored the House to allow the present disturbances of Canada to serve as a warning for the future, and instead of indulging at all times, when the rights and interests of the colony were discussed, in a tone of triumph at the superior power of England, to allow a little space for conciliation and justice, and to deal with the Canadians as they would with men who, though freemen like themselves, were still desirous of remaining, if they could do so with honour, in connexion with England as the mother country.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
observed, that from the appearance of the House, with its half-empty benches, and half-sleepy Members present, one would suppose that they were discussing some bill for the regulation of weights and measures, or something of an equally uninteresting character, rather than a rebellion in a colony which was one of the brightest jewels in the British Crown. The indifference was most striking, considering the magnitude and importance of the question. If the statements respecting Canada were correct, the Government ought not to delay the consideration of the subject a single moment; and instead of adjourning for a fortnight, they ought before the next twenty-four hours elapsed, attempt to bring it to something like a satisfactory settlement. A great colony was said to be on the eve of separation from us; therefore the Government had great and urgent duties to perform, and they ought not to suffer the House to separate unless they discharged all their responsibilities. He did not know whether it were his misfortune or his good fortune not to have heard all the speeches which had been made in the course of this debate, but he had heard the hon. Member for Westminster call on hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House to answer a sneer which he thought proper to address to them, as if they coveted an unjust war for the sake of crushing a free people. There was nothing in the conduct of the hon. Gentlemen with whom he (Sir R. Inglis) acted to justify the hon. Member in saying that they undervalued the horrors of war under any circumstances, or that they would advocate a cause which was unjust either in public or private, in war or in peace. He was perfectly certain that it would require eloquence and arguments far different from those of the hon. Member to convince the people of England that they were so. The hon. Member for Bridport, at a time when it was said that the cannons were roaring on the other side of the Atlantic, talked of an amicable settlement. Was this the time for an amicable settlement? Was it not rather a time for giving protection to those who were attached to the British Government? Not that he underrated an amicable settlement, or thought it utterly impossible; but he trusted that Canada would be reduced to that subjection which was desirable and necessary before any thing in the way of a settlement would be attempted. It was in Canada as in Ireland; in the one country 1487 a certain set of men called themselves Canadians; and in the other another party called themselves Irishmen. Those men to whom he alluded talked as if none but those of their own—he would not say, faction, but—party were entitled to the rights and feelings of Irishmen. So it was with a party in Canada. Only those who belonged to a faction were regarded as having any rights at all. At least there was one-fourth of British blood in Canada, and of the other three-fourths a very large portion of the people were in favour of the British Government. The hon. Member for Bridport had made a kind of philosophical speech, which was calm enough in its tone, but into which he introduced doctrines the very reverse of calm, and which were very inconsistent with other passages of his own speech. For instance, in one part he talked of the justice of the cause of the colonists, as sustaining their claims; and in another, of the popular will being the only ground upon which the popular claims rested; and he contended, that because a majority held certain opinions and claimed certain rights, they ought to be conceded. The question was not with the hon. Gentleman, whether they were well founded, but simply whether the majority adhered to them. He denied abstract political rights in any man, or any body of men. He contended that the Canadian people had certain rights emanating from a specific constitution, awarded to them by the competent power: to those rights in their fullest extent they might justly lay claim; but any attempt to demand anything beyond those rights was to be considered as rebellion; and ought not to gain that sympathy from hon. Members opposite, which he need hardly say how far had provoked the present state of things. But of this he was certain, that the best chance of bringing back the colonists to subordination was a manifestation in that House to support, he would not say the rights and honour of the Crown merely, but the loyalty of the better part of the population, and their peace and independence, which were threatened as much by the success of the present rebellious party as they would be if conquered by a foreign power. Did anybody suppose that if that party succeeded in revolutionising Canada, it could remain independent? Would not America aid in effecting its separation for the purpose of gaining it? Or would they not be compelled to turn to America? He hoped her Majesty's Ministers would not 1488 delay the consideration of this serious question, but that as early as possible they would call the whole of the Members of that House together to investigate so important a subject, and that the noble Lord would reconsider the announcement which he had made, and shorten still more the proposed adjournment.
§ Captain Pechell
lamented the tone and manner in which that discussion had been carried on, and he must especially express his dissent from the observations of the hon. Baronet the Member for Leeds, relative to the probability that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick would be found making common cause with Canada, and to the desertion which was likely to take place from the ranks of the British army, in case of open hostilities. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were in precisely the same situation now as was the province of Canada during the late war with the United States. Canada might then have easily joined those States, but had not so done; and the same reason which restrained the Canadians then would actuate the inhabitants of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick at the present day; and with respect to desertions, they all knew what inducements were held out in the American war, and how firmly all overtures had been resisted by the British soldiers. He anticipated, therefore, none of the evils from these sources which were dreaded by the hon. Baronet; and he hoped that whatever might be the ultimate extremity referred to in that discussion, Ministers would not agree to the advice of the hon. Baronet, the Member for Oxford, and would not consent to any proposition for a shorter adjournment; he thought that such a shortening of the vacation would be most unsatisfactory, and he trusted that the House and the country would rely on the good intent and discretion of her Majesty's Ministers.
§ Mr. Maclean
said, that although it might be distasteful to many hon. Members on both sides of the House that it should meet earlier than the 1st of February as originally proposed, still from the deep importance of this subject, a subject not very appropriately, he thought, offered to the consideration of the House this night, he was prepared to accede to the views of the hon. Baronet, the Member for the University of Oxford, as conveyed in the suggestion he had made. He was of opinion that Parliament 1489 should without any loss of time, take into its deep and most serious consideration the present condition of Lower Canada, the rebellious position of which made it necessary to have the opinion of the Legislature of this country; and the earlier the Parliament proceeded to the discharge of that important duty the better it would be both for the character of the mother country and the best interests of the colonies. He could not avoid alluding to some of the points of the speech which had been delivered by the hon. Member for Bridport—a speech remarkable for the singular discrepancies between the doctrine preached by the hon. Member and the conduct hitherto pursued in the House with regard to Canada. The doctrine of the hon. Member for Bridport was, that it signified nothing what had been the language, what the course of conduct, no matter whether it was rebellious or treasonable, nay, it mattered not to the hon. Member, if the subjects of the Queen were in a state of overt treason, of open rebellion, when he remembered that their complaints had not been attended to by the Legislature of this kingdom. Now he begged to ask whether Canada was a colony of this country, or was she an independent nation? Why, if the hon. Member for Bridport pushed his argument but a few steps further, every colony might take precisely the same ground as Canada, and when the British Legislature, or the Crown under which such colony was by conquest placed, declared that the colony was wrong in the course which it was pursuing, might say that the course it had taken was right by reason of its being supported by the majority of the people of that particular colony. Nay, the same doctrine might be brought even nearer home. Might it not equally be applied to another portion of her Majesty's dominions separated from Great Britain only by the sea, as indeed was Canada, and then would the hon. Member for Bridport declare that however treasonable the language used, however rebellious the feeling manifested, still it was to be justified by being in accordance with the views of the majority of the people? It was admitted that the Canadas were both colonies of this country, and had established in them two independent legislatures, but at the same time those legislatures invariably conferred with the mother country upon any course that was thought important to be pursued with re- 1490 ference to the government or interest of those colonies. The resolutions at present before him showed that it was the intention of Canada, acting on the principle of her constitution, to submit her grievances to the consideration of Parliament here, and if so, surely Canada was bound by the course the British Parliament might think fit to adopt. [Oh, oh.'] The hon. Gentleman might cry "Oh," but he would be glad if the hon. Gentleman, whoever he might be would tell him (Mr. Maclean) what became of the doctrine that the majority should always take the lead when, if the colony, submitting as it did its interests to the consideration of the Legislature of Great Britain, and a majority of that Legislature refused its sanction to the measure proposed by the colonists,—what became of the argument that they must act in conformity with the views of that majority? Why the Canadians themselves negatived that doctrine. They had represented either real or supposed grievances to the Legislature of this country—those real or supposed grievances had received the solemn deliberation of the House of Commons; and was it to be said that when Parliament, by a large and overwhelming majority, passed the resolutions now before him, and sent them out to the Canadian Legislature, that those resolutions so adopted were to be met with an address, which, according even to the hon. Member for Leeds, was couched in a most insulting tone towards the mother country? Why, if one course was more adapted than another to blow the flame of civil war in the Canadas, it was the course taken on the occasion to which he referred by the House of Assembly, with their Speaker at their head. But when the Earl of Gosford thought it his duty to make a proclamation in the name of her Majesty, was this House to be told by hon. Members who were here the advocates of that course of proceedings which might or might not be treasonable, that it was justifiable in some of the magistracy to be part and parcel of a meeting who tore down the Queen's proclamation and treated it with insult? That meeting had been held to set at defiance Her Majesty's authority, and when those gentlemen were dismissed from the commission of the peace for thus contemning the royal authority they appointed justices of their own, and under a solemn agreement bound themselves to pay no obedi- 1491 ence to the law or the courts of the country. Was the House then, under these circumstances, to be told that when the Governor-General saw these events passing before his eyes—that his authority was set at defiance, his whole jurisdiction abolished—he was to be blamed for taking such steps as were due to his Queen and his country against those who so much had violated the bonds of fealty and loyalty? Was it just to designate him as the man who had blown the flame of civil war, and had driven the Canadian people against the Government of the mother country? He should like hon. Gentlemen opposite to say what course they would have recommended to the Earl of Gosford under such circumstances; he should be glad to hear from them what they, in their wisdom, would have done if placed in the same position as that in which the noble Earl stood. He, however would say, that if the noble Earl, instead of pursuing the course he had done, had truckled to the parties engaged in these rebellious acts, he would have ceded the Queen's rights, and, in his opinion, would have been a traitor to his country and his Queen, and would have been taunted, when he returned home, with arrant cowardice in the failure to discharge the high and important functions with which his sovereign had invested him. He did not stand up either to vindicate or to discuss the nature of Lord Gosford's mission; but he would say, looking at all the facts before the House, that it did appear to him somewhat curious to charge the noble Earl with an abandonment of duty, when he had actually been forced into the severe exercise of the powers with which he was invested, by the unfair promulgation of doctrines which militated against the authority of the Crown. The Canadians had been told by some hon. Gentlemen in communication with them, that the time was coming when the baneful domination of this country over the colonies was to cease. Now nothing could be more calculated to excite the colonists and to lead them to suppose that the people of England were favourable to the views of M. Papineau's party than the language used in the correspondence and communications to which he alluded. When it had been understood that her Majesty's Government intended to call Parliament together for the purpose of discussing this subject, he had hoped the angry topics which had been launched 1492 forth to-night upon the attention of the country would have been avoided. He regretted that hon. Members opposite should have thought it right to declare that whatever course this question might take, if it came to blows, and her Majesty's troops were brought into collision with those parties engaged in the rebellion, that her Majesty's arms might be defeated. He could not but enter his protest against such language being uttered, especially by hon. Members of the station and rank of those to whom he adverted; and he (Mr. Maclean) trusted that the wishes of the majority of the House would be, however painful it was to contemplate a meeting of the nature all must deprecate, viz., between those who defied the authority of the Crown, and those sent to support and relieve the difficulties of the Governor General, that if any collision did take place that her Majesty's troops would be successful. He also extremely regretted that in this discussion hon. Gentlemen opposite should have dealt in expressions derogatory to individuals placed in authority in Canada. Of Colonel Arthur he knew nothing; but with regard to the gallant officer now in the command of the troops serving in that colony, and armed with a most delicate and important commission, he would say that the language applied to that gallant officer by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, was not in the most remote degree warranted by anything that was known of him. He spoke as the son of an old officer when he stated that Sir John Colborne was a man highly esteemed in the profession of which he was an ornament, and had discharged many most important services to the country. Sir John Colborne had been spoken of as a firebrand sent from one province to another, and as unlikely to extinguish civil war; but he was sure he spoke the whole voice of the military profession when he declared, that Sir John Colborne did not deserve the imputations which had been cast upon him. In conclusion, he could not but deprecate the unseasonableness of the present discussion, which he thought was calculated to give a false colouring to the events which had happened.
§ Sir C. Broke Vere
bore testimony to the great claims of Sir J. Colborne to that respect and esteem which he had acquired among his brother officers. He believed that the character of no officer in the 1493 public service stood higher, nor was there one better qualified to have trust reposed in him. He was a friend whom he had not seen for years; but he might safely say that every minister with whom he had had communication in the situation in which he had been placed, whether of the one political party or the oilier, was perfectly satisfied with the manner in which that gallant officer had discharged his duty.
§ Mr. John Ellis
impressed upon Ministers the necessity of withdrawing their consent from any lengthened adjournment. When he considered the nature of the sentiments which had been that night expressed, when he considered that the present debate would be a long way on its road to Canada before the three weeks would be up, and before any counteraction could be given to these sentiments, and when the House remembered that Lower Canada was on the very verge of insurrection, and that the flames of rebellion were ready to break forth there, he trusted that hon. Members would induce the noble Lord to fix an earlier day than the 16th of January for the re-assembling of Parliament. He must at the same time express his astonishment that the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Westminster, so soon after the news of a collision between the British troops and the insurgents had reached England should come down to that House and deliver a speech, he would not say tainted, but at any rate completely pregnant, with gratulation, in which he did not even point out any means of effecting an amicable separation, but suggested means by which the colony might resist that connection with the mother country, which the majority of the English people were most anxious to keep up. He hoped that the debate would be resumed at an early period, and that the language then held would be more in accordance with the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord in his opening speech than had been uttered that evening.
§ Mr. C. Hindley
said, that if there were any one vote which he had given in that House with which he was better satisfied than another, it was on the noble Lord's resolutions regarding Canada. He thought that all must most earnestly desire that Government should take some conciliatory steps on this pressing question. He deprecated some of the expressions made use of by his hon. Friend, the Member for 1494 Westminster, but he hoped that those expressions would not deter her Majesty's Government from taking those conciliatory steps. If England could keep Canada, let them act towards it as they would towards any other part of the British empire; and if they must part with it; let them part on the best of terms, and make the necessary arrangements for rendering it a prosperous and separate country.
§ Mr. Borthwick
remarked, that the last recommendation of the hon. Member for Ashton differed most materially from the course suggested by the hon. Member for Westminster, when he expressed his cordial and hearty approbation to what amounted to all but open rebellion. He, however, thought that the hon. Member for Westminster did not speak the sentiments of the great body of the people, who were indisposed to enter upon a course of headlong revolution. He thought that the country would rather support the dignity of the Crown and maintain the present connection with the colonies. When the Canadians had laid down their arms, when they had returned to peaceful allegiance, then, and not till then, could they talk of the redress of grievances; then, and not till then, could they pay any regard to the suggestion for the peaceful separation of the colony from the mother country. The hon. Member for Bridport had stated his surprise at the course which the Whig party were now taking, and had referred to the opinions of Mr. Burke upon the American question; but he thought that if Mr. Burke were alive he would take the same course as had been pursued by her Majesty's Ministers, that he would assert the authority of the Crown and of the Parliament as the only means of restoring peace and tranquillity to this unhappy province. In conclusion he had only to contrast the wishes of hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the arms of Queen Victoria might be defeated in one of her own colonies, with the desire expressed by the same Gentlemen with regard to Spain: they had then declared that however unjust might be the cause in which they were employed, they hoped that the British arms might never experience defeat; but now, when the cause was just, and the scene was in one of our colonies, they expressed a wish that the same arms might be defeated, and that rebellion might be successful.
§ Lord J. Russell
said, he thought the hon. Baronet, the Member for the University of Oxford, could hardly have been in his place when he made the statement which he had originally communicated to the House. He would beg leave, therefore, to put the hon. Baronet and others in possession both of what he had stated, and what he considered the actual circumstances of the case. He had been about to move the adjournment of the House from to-morrow to the 1st of February. There was no complaint made to that, and the House was ready to leave the responsibility of the arrangement and administration of the affairs of Canada, as well as of the other parts of the empire to her Majesty's Government. In this state of things, he came forward to make a volunteer proposition, namely, that instead of adjourning to the 1st of February, the adjournment should be to the 16th of January; but he did not do so on the ground that the Government felt themselves unable to take measures fitting for immediate emergencies or that he thought it was absolutely necessary that Parliament should be assembled to enable the Government to take those steps which the maintenance of the honour and interests of the Crown required. What he did state was, that he thought, with uncertain intelligence published, and with other intelligence received combined, that it was not according to the Parliamentary constitution of the country to adjourn for five weeks without asking the concurrence of Parliament on that general course of policy which the Government might think fit to pursue. It was with that view that he proposed the adjournment he had last stated; if he had proposed to adjourn for a week he should have proposed that for which there was no immediate necessity, namely, the immediate assembly of the House, and he should likewise have run the risk of there not being that full attendance of Members which he thought necessary in order to take the opinion of the House with respect to Canadian affairs. He trusted that the hon. Gentleman would be satisfied with this explanation, and that he would perceive that her Majesty's Ministers had no intention to shrink from the responsibility which attached to them, or to cast that responsibility upon Parliament from any apprehension which they entertained that they should pot be able of themselves to adopt measures 1496 sufficient for the matters with which they had to deal. Had this debate not been carried on in the manner in which it had been conducted, he should have had little now to add; but he thought it necessary to notice in some degree the speeches which had been made that night, and especially the tone and language adopted in many of those speeches. He did not find fault with the philosophical argument of his hon. friend the member for Bridport, who said that if you had a distant colony and complaints were made by that colony against the administration of the mother country, no matter whether your conduct had been regulated by a strict spirit of justice—no matter whether the notions of their rights entertained by that colony were unfounded—no matter from what part of the colony those complaints proceeded, but in such a case you ought to effect a separation between the colony and the parent state on amicable terms. He knew not, as had already been said by another hon. Member, if he were willing to discuss that philosophical argument, whither it would lead him. He knew not to what parts of this empire such a doctrine, if allowed to prevail, might not at some period of our history be applied. He knew not whether, if his hon. Friend had lived at the time of the accession of the House of Hanover to the throne of these realms, he would have said, Scotland being at that time unfriendly to the Hanoverian succession, that as the people of Scotland wished to have a Sovereign of another race, their desire ought to be gratified, and that the union between the two countries ought to be immediately repealed. He did think that if they were to discuss this question as a mere abstract proposition, it would be found that it stood indeed on very plausible data, but that it was irreconcilable with the dominion of a great empire, inconsistent with our position among the nations of the world, and as he believed, in the end, totally destructive of all social order and happiness. But supposing we were to give way to that theoretical and extreme proposition of his hon. Friend, should we avoid, as he stated we should avoid, the bad feelings which would be engendered by civil war, and the disaffection and discontent which at present, to a certain extent, unhappily prevailed in Canada? Did his hon. Friend believe, after the speeches which he had heard that night—did he really believe that those bad 1497 feelings would be got rid of by the adoption of such a course? Had he not heard enough to demonstrate to him, that if her Majesty's Ministers should be ill-advised enough to pursue such a line of policy, a large portion of her Majesty's subjects in Lower Canada would be doomed to instant proscription, that they would be subjected to the loss of their property, and would be in danger of their lives, if Government should abandon them at once to the mercy of their enemies? Had the House not heard—not indeed from a Canadian—not from one of French descent, and therefore, less likely to sympathize with natives of this country, but from a Member of that House—a sort of satisfaction expressed at the desertion of British troops, and a hope expressed that they would fail in their allegiance to those colours to which he hoped they would always be attached? Had not they seen, on the part of a Member of that House, a sort of gloating over the confiscation of public and private property in Canada—a confiscation of property the settlement of which was sanctioned by Act of Parliament, given to British settlers under the most solemn sanction of the law, acquired as it was by the proceeds of their own property, which was laid out in Canadian lands? Had they not witnessed a sort of delight expressed at the prospect of these lands being confiscated, and those persons being driven penniless from their homes, and this by a Member of a British House of Commons? If he were to comply with the specific proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Bridport, did his hon. Friend expect that tranquillity would be restored in Lower Canada, and that protection could be afforded by the Government to all classes of her Majesty's subjects in that country? He must remind his hon. Friend that Government would not be acting a part which became the Ministers of the British Crown, if they did not give protection to British subjects, and his hon. Friend might know that those who were foremost in this struggle against the lawful authority of the Crown had always been actuated by the most deadly animosity against British subjects living in the same country as themselves. He did not believe, from the information which had reached him, that the parties engaged in upholding the cause of rebellion were so much influenced by an abstract love for a particular form of constitution, as by those violent feelings which 1498 had grown out of and survived former feuds, and which they thought they should be more likely to gratify during the confusion of civil broils than while the country remained under the ordinary and legitimate form of government. But then they were told, as they often had been told, that the course which the Government had pursued was precisely that which this country had followed with respect to America. The hon. Member for London had said that the cases were exactly alike, and had maintained that there was not, as the hon. Member for Newark, who spoke with so much ability to-night, had contended, a dissimilarity between them. He must say that he agreed with the hon. Member for Newark in thinking that these contests were dissimilar in their origin, as he trusted they would be in their result. With respect to America, the first act of the British Parliament was passed, not in consequence of the refusal of the American Legislature to pay their contribution towards the expenses of their internal Government, for they had made large contributions for that purpose, but it was an act granting and applying certain stamp-duties, to be raised in the British colonies in North America, towards defraying the expenses of protecting the same. It was argued by Lord Chatham and by others who took the part of the Americans in Parliament, that we had no right to tax America for that purpose, without their own consent. He would not go through the aspects of the contest, but it was sufficient to say, that while Lord Chatham complained of this conduct on the part of the mother country as an aggressive act, he at the same time declared that this country had supreme legislative power over her colonies in North America. But had this been the story in our Canadian affairs? In the year 1791, a constitution was given to Lower Canada, and settled by act of Parliament. There was a Governor, an Executive Council, a Legislative Council, the members of which were appointed for life, and an Assembly elected by the people. So little was this country inclined to interfere with the privileges of that Assembly, that when they complained that by contributing towards the support of the local Government we diminished the control which the House of Assembly had a right to exercise over that Government, we discontinued our contributions, and gave them the whole power over the 1499 finances of their Government. In the course, however, of events in the history of Canada, the connexion between the two houses of their domestic Legislature became disturbed, and complaints arose on the part of the Canadian Assembly that many persons were elected as members of the Legislative Council who were known to be hostile to the Assembly, and that, therefore, they would not act in harmony with the other house, and did not agree to many useful bills. Now, with regard to that complaint, the British Government had never said that the Legislative Council should have the power of stopping the course of useful legislation in Canada. On the contrary, the constitution of that body had been so much improved, that the Government had reason to expect that the two houses might act together in concert. This country had never pretended to tax the Canadas for British objects, nor were the funds raised in the province applied for other than Canadian purposes. But what the Assembly insisted on was, that the Legislative Council should be made elective. That was one of the demands of the Canadians; but they also made another, that the Executive Council should be placed on the same footing as the members of the Administration in this country; and that they should be removable when they did not possess the confidence of the Assembly. These two demands formed together a demand of independence. Such a demand he understood it to be. It was not a demand for the removal of a grievance, but it was a demand to have a constitution, which must be an independent constitution, because it was impossible that the Ministers of the Government in Canada should be removable at the pleasure of the Assembly, and act at the same time upon orders which they received from the Queen's Government at home. When, therefore, this demand of theirs to become an independent state was refused, they, on their part, refused the supplies, and stopped the whole machine of Government. What this country then proposed—to take means to set the machine in motion again—was no act of oppression upon our part; it was not a measure of finance, but a measure of defence; it was a defensive position which England had taken up, in order that the provincial administration might be carried on by some means or other. But 1500 even if the Government had conceded these demands, he did not know that even by those means we should have secured tranquillity. Suppose the two Houses had passed a bill by which British troops should not be allowed to enter Quebec or Montreal. The Governor, indeed, might have rejected it, but then he would be obliged to dismiss his ministers, and then the Assembly would refuse the supplies. The difference, then, between the two countries would still exist, with this distinction, that in the case supposed, it would rest on the question of the exclusion of British troops from Quebec and Montreal, instead of arising out of our refusal to make the Legislative Council elective, and the Executive Council of the local government like our own Cabinet. He would maintain, therefore, that there were no features of resemblance between the American and the Canadian contests, except that the former was carried on against one of our colonies in North America, and that the present was with one of our American colonies. He did not like to deal in confident predictions. He had not predicted that the question would be settled by the resolutions passed by Parliament in the early part of the year. He had certainly said, that he hoped the opinion of that House would have a great moral weight with the people of Lower Canada. He must however say, with regard to this contest, that although he would not make any confident predictions, he had no apprehensions of the result. At the same time, he felt it his duty to declare, that he did not look forward to the maintenance of British authority and British dominion contrary to the express wish of the Canadian people. But he did not think, that the people of Canada were at heart indisposed to the British Crown. His belief was, that the resistance which had been made, had been artificially promoted. His belief was, that if by fair means that resistance could be put an end to, that there was no reason why the affairs of Canada could not be conducted in accordance with the interests of the Canadian people; and he saw no reason why, that people being lightly taxed, and suffering no grievance in the administration of the law, they should not remain, after this agitation had subsided, under British dominion, and subject to the Crown of this country. He said, therefore, that notwithstanding all that had 1501 passed during the last three years, he did not look forward to any separation between this country and Canada. If our North American colonies were panting for independence, and if Upper and Lower Canada, and Nova Scotia, were desirous of erecting themselves into Sovereign states, he was not sure that hostile powers, who aimed at clipping our strength and impairing our dominion, would be deterred from aggression by a submissive attitude. Allusion had been made to the possible interference of hostile powers in this contest, and it had even been said, that the demands made were likely to lead to such an interference. He could not say that that argument made any impression on him. He could not, indeed, tell whether this contest might not take a shape unforeseen by him, and whether it might not be one in which foreign powers might be engaged. But if this country took a timid and pusillanimous tone—if we sacrificed those who looked to us for protection, deserted British subjects who had always been steady and loyal to their allegiance, and withdrew our troops, that they might be overpowered—if we followed so weak and cowardly a course, then we should invite the aggression of foreign Powers, and give them occasion to say, "Here is the great British nation, which has attained so much glory in war, and prosperity in peace, forced to yield in a contest with one of her own colonies;" and they would think that her sun, which had shone with so much brightness, was sunk in darkness and in clouds. Sure he was, that no course could be more hostile to the British name than if we were to say that in such a contest we would rather look for defeat than for victory. He was sure, that if that House were to use the language which he must say he had, with great pain, heard employed that night, or if the country at large, which he did not fear, were to adopt it, the prevalence of such a feeling would be more fatal to its welfare than any Canadian rebellion. The discontent now existing in Canada, local and partial as he believed it to be, might be overcome or not; but if any spirit of this description were general, if we were disposed to become accomplices in our own fall and degradation, then our Canadian possessions might be left to their fate, and it would be of no avail to summon Parliament together to deliberate on the subject.
§ Mr. Harvey
said, it had been understood that the House was to adjourn to the 1st of February. Now, however, they were informed by the noble Lord that they would be assembled again on the 16th of January. Were it not for what fell from the noble Lord towards the close of his speech, it would be difficult to see a reason for this. The noble Lord did not attempt to go into any explanation of the causes that induced him to propose a course so likely to excite alarm throughout the country. The impression abroad must necessarily be that the motive for calling Parliament together again so soon was to call for men and money. But they had been told that the proceedings going on in the colonies excited the just alarm and fears of the Government, and that instead of adjourning the House to the period originally proposed, they intended to limit the adjournment to a very short period. Her Majesty's Ministers had at length relieved them from the difficulty they were under, for it was clear they were to have war—to have war for that which the noble Lord had described as merely a philosophical and abstract opinion; and in answer to the advice of his hon. Friend, the Member for Bridport, the noble Lord, in the glowing conclusion, said that they were to have a war of opinion—that concession should not be made even upon matters of the nature he had stated, even if the inhabitants of all these colonies, even if the whole people of a country were unanimous in complaining of the existence of abuses. They demanded redress by the change in the form of the Government, as the best adapted mode of working out an end to the evils they were exposed to; but it was refused to them. The noble Lord endeavoured to convince the House that there were no practical grievances in Canada; but he would ask whether an instance could be suggested, in early or later history, where the great majority of a people had enlisted themselves in support of a mere abstract proposition, unconnected with any possible or immediate advantage to themselves? The great evil that had now been complained of by those who were anxious to effect great changes, involving important philosophical considerations, was the sluggish inclination of a people to enlist themselves in support of such opinions. Whenever a people manifested prominent resistance it must arise from some long existing and gene- 1503 rally prevailing grievance. Whenever they went into the consideration of a subject of this kind, he should fairly look to this fact to form an opinion as to the nature of the grievance. But could any one read the documents on the table, and say that no grievances or just causes of complaint existed in Canada? Had they not for the last ten years had the subject constantly before them? Had not numerous Committees sat up stairs and Commissions been sent out to Canada which had furnished several reports? Had they not also statements made by persons competent to make and authorised to make the state of affairs in that country known to the Parliament? And were they now to be told that the only cause of complaint that existed in Canada was imaginary, and that the whole cause of the present state of things was, that a few discontented persons had been died on by certain French partisans to support some philosophical dogmas which were unconnected with any real grievances? He could understand that the noble Lord was anxious to maintain the British dominion in its present extent, and was most desirous of preventing the separation of any, even minute, portions of it; but he would ask were they to be told that the people had nothing to do with the mode in which justice was administered? It was an evil that had long been a subject of just complaint in Canada that the judges selected to preside in the courts in that colony were the least capable that could be appointed. They had long complained, and had at last been goaded to resistance by the continued insults that had been offered to them. The noble Lord said there was no analogy between the cases of Canada and the United States: the latter he said was a struggle for a great principle and for the attainment of an important and just object, and that he rejoiced at the result. The noble Lord stated, that there was no analogy between the cause of the people of the United States and the cause put forward by those who advocated the cause of Canada. Now, it appeared to him that the case of Canada was the stronger of the two; for the United States had for some time submitted to the Legislative pre-eminence of that House; and their principal complaint arose after a great delay, namely, that the British legislature had no right to tax the people of the colonies without their assent and con- 1504 currence; but in Canada they had an Assembly with functions coeval with those of a British House of Commons; and because that Assembly did not choose to submit to the control and authority of the Upper Chamber, that House in the plenitude of its power was called upon to sanction steps most unconstitutional in their nature; taking from the treasury of that country monies which had been voted by the Assembly for internal purposes, and devote them to purposes altogether extraneous. The noble Lord said, and he had no desire to impair the conviction in his mind, that this would be only a partial contest: but he had reason to believe that the disturbances in Canada would be of a more serious and determined character. The whole country must now understand the character of the proceedings in Canada, for hitherto they had not felt deep interest in these matters, connected as they were with a distant, colony; but now that the people understood the grounds upon which the contest proceeded, they would express their opinions on the subject. It had ever hitherto been admitted that every free people should, by its Representatives, declare how it would be governed; and it was for them to say whether it should be by an Executive Council appointed by the Crown, or by one elected by universal suffrage. This, indeed, was one of the first principles of every free Government. Whether or not the people of Canada were well advised in their course of proceeding it was not for him to say; but it was clear that the Government meant to say that the people of Canada were not competent to declare what the form of Government was which they considered most consonant to their best interests. The noble Lord said that if they did not check this feeling in Canada it would be impossible to say where it would stop; and he seemed to think that almost the existence of the constitution of the country depended on the defeat of the people of Canada. He was not one who thought so little of the stability of the constitution of the country as to suppose it depended on the success of an altercation with a colony or that giving to the colony the same independence that we enjoyed ourselves would impair the power or diminish the independence of the Crown. On the contrary, they would show how little they apprehended danger from 1505 external violence by extending to others the same blessings of free Government which they themselves enjoyed.
§ Mr. Wakley
could not allow the debate to close without asking one question. The debate had now lasted six hours, and he would ask any hon. Member whether there was one single fact which had been communicated by the Government with which he was not before acquainted? Had Government no information to give? He wished to know whether on the 16th of January they would be equally uninformed or equally taciturn? This was not treating the House or the people of England with proper respect, whose blood and whose treasure would be poured out in support of the dreadful principle which seemed to be indicated by the speech of the noble Lord. If the noble Lord were to tranquillise that country to-morrow at the point of the bayonet, what species of tranquillity would he produce? A tranquillity under which there would undoubtedly be concealed a feeling of revenge, a feeling which would only thirst for an opportunity to satisfy itself. He would tell the noble Lord what he must already be aware of, that the time had come when intelligence was not to be controlled by that species of brute force which the authorities in this country seemed to be so desirous of employing. Even at the eleventh hour he implored her Majesty's Government to hold out to Canada the olive branch of peace. In doing so they would indeed evince more magnanimity of disposition than they could possibly lay claim to even if their present proceedings were covered with the glory of a conquest. He implored of them to acknowledge that they were in error, in resisting the wishes of the people—to tell the Canadians at once that the grievances of which they complained were just, and that they (the Government), expressing regret that such grievances should ever have existed, were ready and disposed to redress them. Inquiry had been made into the subject in 1828, but had the grievances then proved to have existed been redressed? On the contrary, it was notorious that they had not, but that they had remained unredressed up to the present hour. Hon. Gentlemen opposite asked how was it possible they could hold communion with a people who were in a state of rebellion? He would answer, that they should commune with them through the voice of rea- 1506 son, of justice, and humanity, not through the medium of British artillery—not by the roar of cannon and the brandishing of bayonets, but in the soft and soothing accents which reason and philanthropy would suggest. Nothing was more foolish, nothing indicated more strongly that unfortunate state of mind, than for men, conscious of doing wrong, to proceed in their course of error rather than confess their fault and endeavour to repair the injury which it might have inflicted. He would address himself to the people of England through that House, and entreat every friend to the popular cause, every Friend to that democratical principle which was extending itself in spite of every effort made to retard its progress, to state clearly what was their feeling with regard to Canada. He would entreat of them to assemble and declare their opinions on the subject, and then call upon the Members of that House to reiterate those opinions at the re-opening of Parliament on the 16th of January. If the people of England did not make a strong manifestation of feeling in reference to the course which her Majesty's Ministers seemed determined to pursue, he feared very much that the country would be engaged in one of the most unjust, cruel, and oppressive warfares ever undertaken by a civilized nation. If they did but commence in earnest in the province of Canada, it would be impossible for any man in that House or elsewhere to predict where or what would be the termination of hostilities. Had the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, seen the newspaper which had been published that day in London, he meant the second edition of The Times newspaper, containing accounts from Canada of the burning of villages and the attacking and slaughtering of her Majesty's troops? He put that question to the noble Lord, because he believed that while such intelligence was spread throughout the city through the medium of a public journal, not a word was known upon the subject at the Colonial-office in Downing-street. Surely that was not the way in which the noble Lord could hope to secure the support of the people of this nation—certainly it was not the mode by which he could give satisfaction. He would sit down by imploring her Majesty's Government to retrace their steps, and to offer to Canada the hand of peace.
§ Mr. Leader
said, that he had been taxed 1507 very severely by those who had taken a different view of the subject from himself. These attacks upon him had been commenced by the hon. Member for Ashburton, from whom he did not anticipate an attack, and were concluded by the noble Lord, from whom he did anticipate an attack. It had been supposed that he had expressed something like a feeling of rejoicing and gratification at the prospect of the defeat and desertion of the British troops. Now, nothing was further from his intention than expressing anything like such a feeling at the defeat and disaster of his fellow-countrymen in Canada. If such had been the impression of the House, he could only say that he had no intention to express any such feeling, as it did not represent the state of his mind. All that he intended to state was, that the British troops were likely to desert, and that a greater force would be arrayed against the British toops in Canada than the Government or the House seemed to expect, and that they were very likely to meet with checks and defeats.
§ Lord John Russell
replied, that the papers relative to Lower Canada, which would be presented to-morrow had occupied so such time in their preparation that he feared that all the papers relative to Upper Canada could not be laid on the table; they should, however, be furnished with as little delay as possible.
§ Motion for Committee of Supply withdrawn.