§ Lord John Russell
said: Sir, I rise to ask for leave to bring in a Bill, of which I gave notice last night, to provide for the temporary government of Canada. As I have already explained the general purport of the Bill, and of the policy to be pursued under it, I do not think it necessary to enter at any length upon the subject at present. I will, however, shortly state the immediate object of this Bill, and of the instructions which will be given to the Governor-General who has just been appointed. The nature of the Bill is to enable the Governor-General and council—that council not to be limited in number, but of which five shall be a sufficient number to constitute a council—on the motion of the Governor-General, to pass any laws which may be considered necessary during the present suspension of the Legislature of that province. It may be necessary to pass laws, and to make provisions for temporary purposes, and for the maintenance of the civil authority in that province. It may be necessary also to pass temporary measures for other purposes. It is the intention of her Majesty's Government to confide these powers in the first instance to Sir J. Colborne, who at present administers the Government in the lower province of Canada, and in case it should be found necessary for him to resort to any extraordinary powers of legislation, in order to re-establish the authority of the Crown in that province, the power will be given to him by this Bill to do so. But immediately after the newly-appointed Governor-General arrives in the province, this power will become vested in him, and he will exercise it according to the provisions of the Bill which I now propose to introduce. With respect, therefore, to the measures which are necessary in order to re-establish tranquillity, besides those powers which confer the means of immediately putting an end to 97 the present insurrection, there will also be given a power to the Governor-General if he should think fit, to grant a general amnesty in that province. With respect to the future Government of the province, it is the intention of her Majesty's Ministers that the Governor-General should be invested with a power to convene a certain number of persons, namely, three from the Legislative Councils of the upper and the lower province respectively, making six in all, and ten representatives from each of the provinces, making twenty representatives, to form a council to concert with the Governor-General as to the measures which may be deemed advisable for the adjustment of the affairs of the two provinces. This is a power which may be given by the prerogative of the Crown. With respect to the persons to be named from the Legislative Council, they will be chosen by the Governor-General. With respect to the persons who are to be convened having a representative character, those persons may, of course, be chosen from the Legislative Assembly, but as, in the case of Lower Canada, it is almost impossible that the Assembly can be brought to act beneficially, it will be competent to the Governor-General, both in the upper and lower province, to hold elections for persons, amounting to twenty in the whole, to concert with him upon the general state of affairs. Sir, as I said before, the object of this arrangement is, that in any future plan for the Government of these provinces, whatever may be done may be adopted, not wholly on the authority of the Imperial Parliament, or the Government of this county, nor wholly upon the authority of the Governor of the colony, but on the authority of the Parliament and Government of this country, with the advice and sanction of the council which it is proposed to form in the colony itself, persons who, being well aware of the peculiar circumstances of the provinces in which they reside, may be supposed to know best what are the remedies most likely to produce that which her Majesty has declared to be the desire which she has at heart—the lasting peace and welfare of the province. The noble Lord concluded by moving for leave to bring in the Bill.
§ Mr. Ward
was anxious to make a few observations at the present early part of the debate, because, though he had attended the House last night at some per- 98 sonal inconvenience and suffering, he had failed to obtain an opportunity of expressing his sentiments, and had been obliged to go away without recording even his vote on this important subject. He was the more anxious to express his sentiments now, because he had opposed the resolutions proposed by Government last Session, which he had done, hot only because he considered them arbitrary and unjust, but because also he thought they did not lead to any practical result. He had declared his opinion that those resolutions either went too far or not far enough, that they would tend to exasperate the feelings of the Canadians, without leading to any permanent settlement of the questions at issue. He thought that the result showed that he had not been wrong in that opinion. They had irritated the Canadians, and the dispute was just as far from a settlement as ever, whilst the province was left without any Government but that of military and arbitrary authority. He acknowledged, however, that this country was not alone responsible for these results. He deplored, as sincerely as any Gentleman in that House could, the rash and unjustifiable appeal which had been made by the liberal party to war, by which they had undoubtedly sacrificed the powerful aid of public opinion and sympathy, and which in this country most certainly, sooner or later, was sure to awake in favour of the weaker against the stronger party, whenever the former had justice on their side. All these advantages the Canadians had now sacrificed by their own reckless act, and the question now for this House to consider was, whether it was prepared to give up the possession, not only of the lower, but of the upper province of Canada, for the secession of the latter must in his opinion inevitably follow that of the former; or whether, on the other hand, it should accede at once to all the demands of Mr. Papineau and his party, or sift those demands calmly and dispassionately, granting such as were just, or whether we should insist that the existing insurrection should first be put an end to entirely before any redress should be given to grievances which really were proved to exist. He owned that if the Government plan had contemplated nothing but coercion, and a suspension of the constitution without any remedial measures, he should have opposed it as uncompromisingly as he now 99 strongly and earnestly advocated the prudence of adopting, in all its parts, the plan submitted by the Government to the House. He believed that plan to be founded upon enlarged principles, combining justice to the Canadas with a due regard to the honour and rights of the Crown. He knew that objections were taken on the ground that it imposed upon us the necessity of suspending the constitution of 1791. Why, that constitution had been already repudiated and suspended by the Canadians themselves. From the moment that the Canadians appealed to the sword, it became evident that the only object they had in view in availing themselves of that constitution was to throw off the power of this country. At all the county meetings the Strongest declarations had been made of the necessity for declaring perfect independence. In conjunction with these declarations a regular military organization had been going on through the province, the people were drilled by foreign officers, resolutions for throwing off the jurisdiction of British authorities were passed, and a new judicial system organised throughout the country in place of the magistrates appointed by the Queen's authority, whilst all who disapproved of these proceedings on the part of Mr. Papineau's party were obliged, by threats of violence to themselves and their property, to acquiesce in them. Under these circumstances he thought it would be preposterous to allow men, on the one hand, to plead a constitution which, on the other hand, they repudiated and rejected. The only question for the House now to consider was, what measures presented themselves as best calculated for the permanent settlement of these disputes, and he must say, that he could think of none which in his opinion were better calculated for that purpose than the measures which the noble Lord had stated to the House, and he would place a statesman of eminent and admitted ability at the head of affairs in Canada, armed with powers sufficient for the purpose, but with this salutary principle for his guidance, that those powers should not be used without a previous attempt to obtain the concurrence of those to whom the intended measures were to apply. He held the example which England set on the present occasion, of appointing a convention with a view to an amicable adjustment of dif- 100 ferences between a colony and the mother country, to be one of the greatest moral triumphs ever achieved. On former occasions of this kind, the only argument appealed to was that of brute force and bloodshed. The only instance of the kind he believed on record, and that was not in the case of a dispute between a mother country and a colony, was in the case of the first constitution of the United States, which was soon found to give universal dissatisfaction, upon which, instead of dividing into separate communities, the States, in 1817, formed a convention for the consideration of their differences, and experience showed that that proceeding had led to satisfactory results. But, as between a colony and a mother country, he believed the present was the first instance in which the plan had been tried, and he thought that great praise was due to her Majesty's Government for proposing such a scheme to Parliament. He was not going to enter into a discussion of the principles upon which the future constitution of Canada should be settled, but he could not help pointing out to the House a very great difficulty which would have to be overcome in combating the prejudices of the French Canadians, who evidently wished to remain an independent and isolated people, distinct from their British fellow-subjects, amongst whom they lived, and in inducing them to acquiesce in any plan by which an identity of interests and a community of rights should be secured to them in common with the British settlers. He saw an hon. Friend of his shake his head at this, but he firmly believed that the disputes and difficulties which existed, had originated in great measure in the national prejudices and jealousies of the two branches of the community. He believed, also, that if the result of the provisions of the present Bill should lead to an union of the upper and lower provinces into one, it would produce the greatest benefit that could be conferred upon the colony. He could not think of leaving the two hostile parties to settle their differences by the sword; humanity and reason alike revolted against such a notion. The bloodshed which had already taken place was as nothing to what would occur in the course of the rash, rancorous, and uncompromising: warfare which would devastate the country if no mediating authority were interposed between the 101 hostile parties. An attempt to perpetuate the French Canadian people as an isolated race, consisting as they now did of 500,000 souls, must be regarded as perfectly impossible; whilst he believed that the best service they could render the French Canadians would be to give them a participation in British rights and institutions. The influence of party feeling was at present the bane of all classes in the Canadas. If the present contest were allowed to be carried on, he called upon the House to consider what must be the results of it. If the French party succeeded, the whole of the property of the British party would be confiscated, including that of the Land Company, which had already been declared by the French party to have been constituted by an illegal authority. On the other hand, if the English party were to triumph, the results would be for the French inhabitants spoliation and ruin, at which justice and feeling would equally revolt. It was his (Mr. Ward's) firm belief, that if the authority of the British Crown were once firmly established in the Canadas, the inhabitants might be left to exercise their own discretion and authority in the expenditure of their funds, with perfect security to the friendly connection between the colony and the mother country. He could not dismiss the subject without saying a few words on the subject of the Legislative Council, whose acts the noble Lord had taken upon himself to justify. He considered them not only wholly incompatible with the permanent good government of the colony, but also a direct inroad upon the old system of colonial government which had always been pursued by this country with respect to the old colonies of America (now the United States) for upwards of a century and a half. As an hon. Friend of his had said last night, these councils possessed all the most invidious features of an aristocracy, and them only—it was a sort of spurious House of Lords, creating bickerings, and quarrels, and party feelings, resulting in a distinction of interests between English or government interests and colonial interests. Almost every colony which England now possessed in North America had originally been conquered, and it was the practice of the British Government not to interfere in their internal concerns by the appointment of Legislative Councils. He hoped, therefore, that when the new council which the new governor-general was to convene 102 came to discuss the affairs of Canada and to frame their report, the latter would not be found to recommend the permanency of the Legislative Council, and that this country, in considering that report, would consent to its being dispensed with for the future. In conclusion he begged again to express his entire confidence in the scheme of policy which her Majesty's Government had adopted, and in the Nobleman to whose hands its execution had been confided. If worked out in the spirit in which it had been commenced, he had no doubt it would lead to lasting and beneficial results.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, that when he last addressed the House on this subject an hon. Friend of his had said, as a matter of reproach against him, that which he rather received as a compliment, that he came to the discussion of this subject with all the composure he would bring to the consideration of a bill relating to weights and measures. He could wish that all who approached the subject might be guided by the recommendation of the Minister of the Crown, at the time when those great debates arose on the disputes between Great Britain and her colonial possessions which now constitute the United States, and dismiss at once all bitterness of feeling. He was of opinion that, in order to obtain the best measure of justice for the Canadians, their friends ought to discuss the matter with the greatest possible coolness and moderation of tone. What he wished was to look at the positive state of the Canadas at present, and not retrospectively to what it had been. No one denied that grievances did exist, to which a remedy should be applied; but he did not see that any good could result in discussions like the present, in going back to canvass what amount of blame or praise was due to one party or the other in events which had already taken place. With regard to the insurgents themselves, he felt glad in believing that the insurrection was, he might say, put down. He must say, that if the insurrection was to be suppressed, it ought to be extinguished at the earliest possible period. If blood were to be spilled, the sooner such scenes of strife and exasperation ceased the more likely would it be to put an end to all the evils attendant upon a state of insurrection. He must be permitted to say, with regard to the course taken by Government in putting down this insurrection, that he did 103 not—without meaning to use any irritating language—agree in the unqualified praise bestowed on the officers engaged in this unfortunate conflict. He was willing to give every praise to their gallantry which the Government or people of this country might be willing to accord; but he could not help seeing that there were some circumstances concerning which their conduct was not such as ought to be lauded. He understood that houses and barns had been burned during the attacks which were made by the military. He understood, too, that a rule was laid down in the dispatches, which directed that where the proceedings which should be taken, by which it was declared that all the houses from which the troops should be fired at should be destroyed, not at the moment of attack, but at a subsequent period when the troops should be in possession of the houses from which the opposition had proceeded. He did not know for what outrages this was considered a proper mode of retaliation; but he could not forget that in the former rebellion of the North American continent numbers were driven into a state of exasperation and open insurrection from the adoption of such practices. Without wishing to pour oil on the flames, he could not help stating, that the conduct of the officers employed in suppressing this insurrection, acting very likely from mistaken motives, and from a belief that by such acts they best promoted the public service, was rather too general and unmeasured. He should have been better pleased to see such acts condemned in the dispatches. He should be the last man to attempt to justify a recourse to arms on the part of the colonies; but let them look at the position in which those persons were placed, and the grievances of which they complained, and he was sure they would agree in the opinion that the Government was bound to make every allowance, and to render the amnesty as wide and extensive as possible. The people in that country had many grievances to complain of, one of which—the constitution of the Legislative Council—had been touched on by his hon. Friend (Mr. Ward), and there were many matters brought as charges against the Government. He did not mean to justify the language which the Canadians had held on all occasions, and yet he thought that much indulgence ought to be extended to them 104 for the irritation which they exhibited on some subjects. There were, for example, the allegations which they made with respect to the Land Company. He was not disposed to deny the benefit which might be conferred on the colony by the introduction of foreign capital, but he must nevertheless say, that the feeling of jealousy which was entertained, was very natural when the people saw a great corporation of this kind put in possession of such extensive powers, particularly with regard to the purchase of land. Now, really, if they looked to the manner in which the mother country acted with regard to corporations having extensive possessions in land, the complaints of the Canadians on this head were not to be wondered at. Was there a single Act by which a body was incorporated in which their power of possessing land was not limited by the terms of the statute? Did not the charter by which such a grant was made, state the exact amount of land which the corporation was entitled to hold? Suppose a proposition was made in that House that the landed property of the Crown should be sold, would they approve of erecting a corporation to purchase and hold all the Crown land, and transferring the great capital of the Crown property to such a corporation? Would they not take care that if the Crown property were to be sold, it should be done in such a manner as that the corporations should be allowed to purchase only to the amount of their existing charters, and that the property should be divided amongst the great mass of the purchasers? He did not mean to say that the situation of the mother country and the colony was the same, but he only stated this as some excuse for the party whose conduct they were discussing; and he urged the jealousy of the mother country with regard to grants of land to corporations as some justification of the course pursued by those who were opposed to the Land Company in America, holding land to an extraordinary extent. It should be recollected, that this Land Company not only became possessed of certain lands, of which a sale had been made in the first instance, and, having improved them, continued to exercise the rights of property over them; but having disposed of certain portions of this territory, and other new lands being brought to the hammer since their charter was granted, this company entered the lists 105 as competitors for the purchase of them. It appeared, then, that there was no boundary to the domain over which this company might exercise its influence, and no chance of its property being limited within any given period of time. In this contest there was not only the insurgent party to be considered, but that of the Gentlemen who, in the year 1828, were among the foremost to petition that House for the removal of grievances, but who had not taken a part with Mr. Papineau, and the more ardent Reformers. Now, as there was a liberal party which remained attached to the Crown, and took no share in the insurrection, the honour and feelings of that portion of the inhabitants ought above all things to be consulted. And if there was anything in the course about to be taken, of which he was especially doubtful, it was whether the Government ought entirely to suspend the constitution of 1791, and thus cast a slur on that party whose cordial support they had received. In the year 1828 they were petitioners for the redress of grievances, and they continued attached until a late period to the individuals who now took a more violent course, because their former peaceful proceedings had failed of success. If it were now proposed to suspend altogether the constitution, he put it to the House whether they would not estrange from the British Government that moderate but liberal party, of which he believed that great numbers existed in Canada at the present moment. He begged to remind the House that in determining this question, it ought not to look at Canada precisely in the light of a mere colony. They were to recollect that the title which this country gained over Lower Canada was acquired by the treaty of 1763. By that they granted to the inhabitants of Lower Canada all the privileges and immunities which any individuals or corporation were at that time entitled to in the colony. He did not mean to include among them any of the privileges and immunities granted by acts of the Legislature at a later period; but the speech of the noble Lord dwelt on various conditions and statements with respect to the independence of Lower Canada, growing out of race and religion. He did not intend to assert that it was the intention of Government to invade the privileges guaranteed by the capitulation of 1763, and he only referred to the event for the 106 purpose of enforcing on the Government the necessity of keeping faith with the French Canadians, and of taking care that none of their privileges and immunities were overturned by any constitution which was granted them. He could not help thinking that injustice was done to the popular party by the stress which was laid on the supposed demand of the Canadians for the perpetuation of feudal rights. Why, if he could depend on anything relating to the popular party in Canada, he felt persuaded that the French Canadians were most anxious to commute their seigneurial rights—to the full as anxious as the British party was—provided they could do so on such terms as would be advantageous to the whole colony. He felt it, therefore, to be due to them to state, that they had been among the foremost to make such a proposition. He believed they were even prepared to introduce a Bill into the House of Assembly for the commutation of these seigneurial rights, if any encouragement had been given to such a proposal by the Legislative Council which then existed. The course which he advised his hon. Friends to take, in consequence of the declarations of the Government in favour of an amnesty, and in order that they might observe not only calmness and moderation, but the utmost appearance of a calm and deliberate spirit in receiving the propositions of her Majesty's Government was, not to divide against the Bill, but to allow it to be introduced and read a first time, and then, after its provisions had been considered, have it read a second time on Monday next. He had risen on the present occasion, not for the purpose of stating all his views on this subject, but to correct some misrepresentations which he thought had been made with respect to the sentiments which he expressed when the first of these discussions on the affairs of Canada had taken place. The advice which he then gave, and which he was now prepared to give to her Majesty's Government on the subject of colonial affairs in North America, supposing that the revolt was so extensive that there were no hopes of putting it down without a disastrous and exterminating war (which he was happy to say was not the case), amounted to this, that they ought to emancipate the colony. He should not now go fully into the discussion of the reasons which induced him to give that 107 advice, because be had particularly adverted to them in the last discussion which had taken place, and because he was prepared to resume them fully on Monday. But admitting—which he was happy 10 think was most probably the case—that this revolt was not wide spread, and that her Majesty's Government, with the aid of the troops and of the well-disposed in the colonies, would succeed in putting the insurrection down, and thus give a breathing time to consider what measures it would be most expedient to take under the circumstances, the advice which he was still ready to give was to emancipate the colony. In saying this he did not mean to justify the conduct imputed by the right hon. Member for Tamworth to the advocates of such an opinion. It was not because he found insurrection there, as it might break out in the Isle of Wight or in any part of Ireland, that he was for that reason ready to say, "Liberate yourselves, and separate from the mother country." No; it was because he believed it to be expedient and useful both to the mother country and the colony, not on a short-sighted money view of the question, but on the broadest, most national, and imperial consideration of it, that he was ready to sanction the adoption of that course. One of the evils resulting from the course which had been taken was, that such a feeling of disaffection had arisen towards the mother country as must drive the Canadians into revolt, and induce them to become a part and province of the United States; or, if they did not join the United States, such a feeling of interest would be excited in favour of the colonists that a party in the United States would be prepared to support them in their insurrection. Such a feeling of disaffection would unite the Canadians much more strongly to the United States than any course taken by the colonists alone could effect. He must say, that from the observations which had been made at both sides of the House, it seemed to him to be admitted that, when a colony came to Us strength and manhood, the inevitable consequence of our colonial system must be to have such a colony emancipated. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) seemed to doubt as to whether that time had arrived in the present instance. If the noble Lord were to look to the history of the United States—if he were to contemplate the feelings of affection which 108 prevailed previous to the year 1763—if he were to consider the support which the mother country had obtained from that people in the war against the French Canadians, and observed how short a time elapsed between the manifestation of such good feeling and the commencement of the troubles which terminated with the war of 1774, the noble Lord must be convinced how very necessary it was, not to be driven to consider the emancipation of a colony when the demands were so urgent that they could be no longer resisted, but that as a wise statesman he ought to watch the progress of the colonies towards independence, and, foreseeing that the period of emancipation could not be far remote, take such measures as must render it likely that, when that event did occur, it would be attended with the smallest quantity of evil, and the greatest good to the mother country. However disposed he was to admire the form of government and the wisdom of the United States, yet he must say, that if there was anything of which every state in the world ought to be apprehensive it was this—that a country, whether its form of government were monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy, should arise so powerful as to afford a just cause of apprehension on account of its strength and greatness to the rest of the world. He, therefore, thought that what ought to constitute the consideration of every statesman was that—seeing that emancipation was as natural an event in the history of the colonies as death to an individual—the aim of the Government should be directed to making the separation in such a manner that all these colonies, comprising; New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, should not fall separately into the possession of their great neighbour, but should be constituted as northern and free states, to act as a counterpoise to what might be considered the tendency of the United States to become an overgrown power, were it to comprise the whole of the colonies of North America. He hoped, then, that measures would be taken by the Government which might lead to a friendly and amicable separation at no very distant period, and thus unite all these colonies into an independent confederation, collected together for the purpose of balancing the enormous power of the North American states. It appeared to him that the ground on which the irresponsibility of the council was resisted was 109 worthy of consideration. For what reason were the three gentlemen belonging to the popular party whom Sir F. Head proposed to call to the council not attached to that body? The question of disagreement was as to whether they should be considered irresponsible Ministers. They declared, that if the Legislature considered the governor irresponsible, they must not be considered as sharing that irresponsibility. If the connexion between Canada and the mother country was to be dissolved, he held it was the duty of Government to lead the people of the colony by degrees from a state of dependence to one of independence, and that this should be the sole principle of legislation in respect to them. In conclusion, he hoped that the measures about to be adopted would embrace not only the Canadas, but Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; and that they might speedily have the elements for that great confederation which he hoped, at no distant period, to see established throughout the present British colonies of North America.
§ Mr. Cayley
was one of those who adopted upon this question, a view not wholly in accordance with the opinions which had been generally expressed by the different speakers upon either side of the House. He dissented, however, more materially from those speakers who were disconnected with her Majesty's Government. He must say that he felt it to be his duty, having entered upon the consideration of this subject in a calm and dispassionate temper, to do her Majesty's Government the justice of awarding to it the humble need of his praise and approbation of its conduct in connexion with this question. The hon. Member for Kilkenny, in the course of the observations which he had addressed to the House on the previous evening, had inveighed loudly against the shedding of human blood. For his part, he was as averse to the shedding of blood as any human being could be; but it appeared to him, that the very object of the Government, as unfolded in the speech of the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, was to prevent the useless shedding of blood; for if vigorous measures were not in the first instance adopted, the war would most probably become one of extermination. The hon. Member for Kilkenny had also said to them "Conciliate." Now, he would ask whether they had not already 110 conciliated as far as in them lay, and whether measures of redress had not been adopted for every real and not merely imaginary grievance? Had not the Committee of 1828 gone into a detail of every alleged grievance with the most honest intentions, and made an equally honest report? What, he would ask, was the stale of affairs in Lower Canada, so far as the British settlers were concerned, and what would be the result of their desertion by the parent country? Why, the whole of the shares in the canal companies, as well as in the banking and railway companies, were in the hands of British settlers; and there was only one instance within his knowledge, in which Frenchmen had associated to form any one of those companies in Lower Canada. And here he might observe how very different was the tone and temper, as well as the language, employed by the hon. Member for Kilkenny last night from that which he had employed when last he addressed the House upon this subject. Upon the former occasion, he and the other hon. Members who had concurred in his view of the question had almost exhausted the vocabulary of abuse. But it appeared to him that the hon. Member had, on the previous evening, adopted a totally altered tone. He believed that the secret of this change would be found in the fact that the feeling of the country had been very distinctly ascertained upon this subject, and ascertained to be at variance with the hon. Member's sentiments. The hon. Member for Leeds (Sir W. Molesworth) had put forth a manifesto inviting his constituents to make a display of their feelings in reference to Canadian affairs. This manifesto had drawn forth an able and temperate article in a newspaper (the Leeds Mercury) with which the other hon. Member for Leeds was connected. A meeting was shortly after held in that important manufacturing town, at which it was worthy of remark, that not one of the hon. Baronet's constituents attended. The meeting, however, was considered as a response to the appeal of the hon. Baronet, and the language employed by most of the speakers at that meeting was certainly of the most absurd and extravagant nature. "The only resistance," said these speakers, "which should be employed in these days, is that, of physical force, and if you can't carry fire-arms, you should carry daggers." It was quite obvious, that lan- 111 guage of this description would produce no effect whatever in this country. In reference to the conduct of the militia officers in Lower Canada, it was impossible for the Government to have acted otherwise than they had done. Those officers had attended the meetings which had followed their dismissal by the governor, and where they had been elected, in defiance of the civil authority, by the people. It was after the dismissal of those officers, and after those meetings had taken place, that the outrages had broken out. When the civil authorities attempted to seize some of the leaders and instigators of the insurrection, they met with the most formidable resistance; their prisoners were forcibly rescued, and it was only when the civil power was thus defied that the military was called out. It was said that the Government had acted improperly in not having a larger force in the Canadas at the time the insurrection broke out; but he thought such an opinion was not well founded, and he conceived that the issue had proved the wisdom of the policy which had been pursued by the Government, In none of the despatches, either from Lord Gosford or from Sir John Colborne, was there any complaint of a deficiency of military force, and Sir John Colborne distinctly stated that he had made such dispositions of the force under his command, as to leave him in no doubt as to the result of the contest. It was further said, that the Government had resisted the just wishes of the Canadian people, but every effort had been made to redress the grievances of which they complained, and every attempt at conciliation had been refused, and the Assembly would listen to no terms for the adjustment of the disputes which had arisen. It appeared to him that the gentlemen who were the leaders of the popular party in Lower Canada did not know at what point to stop in their opposition to the Government, and their conduct proved, in his opinion, that the redress of real grievances was not the object they had in view, and that their aim was, in fact, the total separation of the colony from the mother country. Since the appointment of the Committee of 1828 there had been a steady disposition on the part of every Government to improve the condition of the people of Lower Canada; and the people of that colony had expressed their approbation of, and confidence in, the labours 112 of that Committee, and their confidence also that the Government would fully carry out the recommendations contained in the report. When such was the feeling in Canada at that time, he wished to know what had taken place since that period to justify the measures which had been adopted by the popular leaders. He firmly believed that redress of grievances was not the object those persons had in view, and that the greater the disposition to conciliation on the part of the Government, and the more the redress of grievances was effected, the louder would be the complaints of the leaders of the popular party in Canada. But he did not believe that the people of Canada, as a body, were favourable to the views of M. Papineau, notwithstanding what had been said to the contrary at a recent meeting. The views of the leader of the Assembly were not confined to the removal of grievances, but evidently were directed to separation, and to the total independence of the mother country; and he was persuaded that the body of the people of Canada had no wish for separation, but that they were, on the contrary, warmly attached to this country. The real grievance with the leaders of the popular party was, in his opinion, the great increase of British emigrants, and the growing strength of the British party. That was the true cause of complaint, in his opinion, and it was one in which he was sure the body of the people would not join. It had been argued that the time for separation had arrived, and that the Government ought to take steps for dissolving the connexion which existed between the countries. If the time for effecting a separation had really arrived, then he fully agreed with the Member for Bridport that the object of the Government ought to be to effect that separation in such a way as to secure for this country all the advantages to be derived from a friendly intercourse with the people of Canada. But if they would look at the proportion of the British to the French population, and if they took into consideration the fact that almost the whole of the British settlers were in favour of British connexion, then in his opinion they must conclude that the time for separation had not yet arrived. The Canadas were not yet able to maintain themselves, and if they were separated from this country, the only effect of such a step would be to throw them into the hands of 113 some other power, and thus lose all the advantages which we at present derived from the connexion existing between the mother country and the colony. The hon. Member for Bridport had expressed a hope that all our colonies in North America would be formed into one federal union; and he sincerely wished that Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada would be formed into one union, but he wished also to maintain the connexion betwixt those colonies and the mother country, as that connexion was productive of the most beneficial results both to the colonists and to Britain.
§ Mr. Gillon
was anxious to say a few words on the subject which had been introduced by the noble Lord last evening. He did not often trouble the House, nor would he detain them long on this occasion. He should endeavour to follow the recommendation of the hon. Member for Bridport and speak on the matter without the slightest mixture of asperity or passion, and should not be led even by the injudicious observations of the hon. Member for Yorkshire to depart from that line. The reason that the hon. Member had assigned why the Canadians should be contented was the most extraordinary he had ever heard put forward amongst rational beings. That hon. Member said, that the Canadians ought to be contented under their grievances because the state of things at home was no better. That was a ridiculous assertion. He had yet to learn that bad Government at home justified an equally bad system abroad. Neither could he join in the hon. Member's eulogium on our colonial system. That hon. Member stated, that the Canadian grievances of 1828 had all been redressed; this was news to him, and he believed to most Members of that House. The grievances had been acknowledged, but the redress had not been granted. The Canadians had gone on petitioning the House in the most patient manner, and if their demands had increased with the protracted denial of justice it was only the legitimate consequence of the conduct of Government and of that House. No one could regret more than he did the unfortunate events which had just taken place. He regretted as deeply the line of conduct which had been adopted by some individuals. He did not think that neglect, or even aggression, justified men in engaging in civil war. No one deprecated civil war 114 more than he did; but if such took place—if the authority of Government were insulted—if the integrity of the empire were put in jeopardy—it was owing to the resolutions which had been passed last Session. The control of the revenues was guaranteed to the House of Assembly, and again confirmed by the Act of 1831. By this they were empowered to stop the supplies when the grievances of which they complained remained un-redressed. If the English House of Commons exercised the same privilege, would any Minister come forward to propose the suspension of the Constitution? No; no such desperate remedy would be resorted to; and why? Because England was known to be strong, and Canada was supposed to be weak. The resolution of the last Session was a breach of the contract entered into between this country and Canada, and though they might not warrant, they palliated the insurrection. Much had been said of the excitement which had been created by factious demagogues, but when the majority of the people complained for a long series of years of grievances unredressed it was vain to attribute what had taken place to factious demagogues. As well might the same be said of Ireland; and yet if the hon. and learned Member for Dublin were to close his days to-morrow would it be believed, that the power which he had used with such beneficial results would die with him? No—fresh O'Connells would arise, and, until the grievances of the country were redressed, would exercise a similar power. It had been said the greater portion of the Canadians were loyal; if so, where was the necessity of going so far as to abrogate the constitution? He was glad, however, to hear, that the Earl of Durham was about to be sent out to Canada. He had no words adequate to express his admiration of that Nobleman, and he was sure it was as fully shared by the country. His name was a rallying point for freedom, and no wiser selection could have been made to adjust the jarring councils of the colony; but then it was to be feared, that, whilst he went out with words of peace and conciliation, yet in reality he carried with him measures to suspend the constitution, and set aside the House of Assembly. He would not be able to carry his benignant intention into effect; and, instead of the respect which his conduct would be cal- 115 culated to conciliate, the noble Lord would be looked upon with jealousy and suspicion. It was his intention on coming down to the House to oppose any proposition for suspending the constitution of Canada, but, from the power of amnesty which was proposed to be given, and the conciliatory tone of the noble Lord's Address, he felt inclined to follow the advice of the hon. Member for Bridport, and would not press his opposition to a division, reserving to himself, however, a power of resisting the Bill in any of its details.
, in voting with Ministers on this occasion, begged not to be understood as sanctioning, much less praising, their colonial policy as respected Canada; on the contrary, he protested against that policy. He would not say, that Ministers conducted the affairs of Canada in such a way as to sanction rebellion, but he would at the same time insist, that they had not taken the necessary means to prevent it. They were inexcusable in not having a sufficient military force in the colony to put down the insurrection at its first outbreak. They were the more inexcusable on this point inasmuch as they had been forewarned by an hon. Gentleman not now in the House, that no sooner would the 8th Resolution be promulgated in Canada than a rebellion would instantly break out. This statement was made distinctly, unequivocally, and in a manner which could not be mistaken. Ministers heard it stated in that House, and stated in a manner likely to render the prophecy fulfilled, that insurrection would take place as soon as the winter froze up the passages of the St. Lawrence, so as to prevent the landing of the troops. This question could not be viewed as an isolated case. It was connected with other matters, which the House would do well to take into its consideration. The hon. Member for Bridport recommended reconciliation and charity towards Canada. Was that a time for conciliation—was that a time for the interposition of charity between the Crown and the subject, when the subjects were arrayed in open rebellion? It had been argued, that there was no sympathy with the Canadian rebels in this country. Did the late meeting at the Crown and Anchor warrant this assumption? What was the language held there—what were the appeals there made to the sympathies of the British public? 116 He held in his hand part of the report of those proceedings, over which a Member of this House, a subject of the empire, the hon. Member for Kilkenny presided. What was the language used at that meeting? One speaker concluded with a motto, which he said he would have inscribed on every Canadian banner—In freedom let Canadians live,And brave the death which tyrants give.Was that conciliation? Was there no sympathy in that? Another hon. and gallant gentleman, not now a Member of the House, declared himself rejoiced to hear that there was a disastrous civil war raging in Canada. Why, in that very speech the hon. and gallant gentleman had himself been guilty of treason. The hon. and gallant gentleman went still further. "He would refer them," he said, to the history of this country. Did they ask what page in that history? They would hear of it somewhere about Whitehall. There was a glorious scene of substantial justice once enacted in that neighbourhood, which had been said to give a crick in the neck of every Monarch at least once a-year." Was this no appeal to the passions? Was this no treason? If it did not bear that construction what would the law officers of the Crown say to the sentence which followed? "That is the precedent to which I would refer you. Is it policy or is it wisdom, to force us again to appeal to it?" Was it possible that a precedent for taking away the life of her Majesty would be thus freely spoken of in the heart of the metropolis by a citizen of London, and yet that the person who uttered it should still remain uncalled to an account by the law officers of the Crown in that House? Did we live in so insecure a state of society? Was the seat of empire held by so slight a tenure that treason so palpable could dare to be uttered in the presence of a British asembly, over which the hon. Member for Kilkenny presided? Was the rebellion in Canada, he would ask, unconnected with the state of things in this country? Was there nothing significant in the manner of the hon. Member for Bridport, who, in the same style and tone in which he would speak on the subject of weights and measures, spoke of the rebel Canadians as ardent reformers? Was the ardour for reform which thus evinced itself in Canada of a nature similar to that which existed 117 here? Was there nothing significant in what had fallen from the hon. Member who last addressed the House, and who, it would be admitted, spoke in a tone of more moderation than those others who sided with him upon the question—was there nothing significant in his saying, that, if the hon. Member for Dublin were dead, a hundred O'Connells would start up to fill his place? Wherefore was it that Ireland was thus linked with Canada? Was O'Connell to be considered another Papineau? If not—if he who was so closely connected with those who held high places in Downing-street was not to be considered in this light—why mix up the state of Ireland with that of Canada, and thus insinuate the reference to Papineau and his rebel associates? The charge which he made against Ministers was, that they had not acted with firmness in maintaining the integrity of the empire against the worse than Bœotianly-stupid philosophy of modern days. The hon. Member for Bridport had argued that a colony must in time separate from the mother country as a man must die; and—mark the philosophical ergo—when they take up arms, the mother country must accede to their demands. Then, forsooth, the mother country, which gave the colony birth, and afforded her unexpensive and untaxed protection, must lose all hold! It had been argued that Canada endured practical grievances which pressed heavily upon the colony. From the first time he entered into the House until the present moment, he had heard much declamation on this point, but he never heard the assertion substantiated in any one instance. What were the grievances now complained of, in unison with the rebellion of Canada? Did they affect the safety of person or property? Were the changes looked for such as were likely to promote any practical good? No, it was a mere speculative matter. The Canadians said, "We do not like the fashion of your constitution, so we will have a constitution of our own." The question was not a practical one, it was a mere abstraction, which the Canadian rebels felt themselves warranted in supporting by an appeal to arms; Ministers, however, might thank themselves for this state of things. Not, however, because of the resolutions which were passed last year—not because of any firmness which they had exhibited on the occasion—but because of the encouragement 118 which, in this country, they afforded to those whose intentions were treasonable. It had been asked whether Canada was worth what she cost us, and why we did not separate in a cordial manner. There were two reasons. First, this was not the time for separation, nor could any demands be granted until those who made them petitioned in the attitude of subjects. Next, the question was not now one of advantage—it was not whether the benefits to be derived from the navigation of the St. Lawrence would repay the expense—but whether Great Britain was or was not to be bearded with impunity by a colony—or whether any section of her subjects, whether in the colonies or at home, should present their petitions at the cannon's mouth. If the question was one of national policy, let the doctrine of separation be mooted at the proper time. For his own part, he was one of those old-fashioned politicians who thought "Ships, Colonies, and Commerce" was the true motto of English policy, and he would add to instead of diminishing our colonies if it were in his power. This, however, was not the question, but whether any citizens could make the demand for separation at the cannon's mouth. He would vote with the noble Lord, in the hope that the measure which he would introduce might reduce the rebels to subjection; but, he would accompany that vote with a distinct opinion that it was not owing to the energy of factious demagogues or to the spirit of discontent in Canada, that the present state of things was owing, but to the utter imbecility and the vacillating weakness with which the reins of our colonial policy had been held for the last four years. If the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had been still in power, and if Lord Amherst had been sent out to Canada, there was not a man in the House would have the hardihood to say that the present crisis would have arisen. Government ought to bring to trial and to punishment those who fomented the rebellion. He would not go into the merits of the measure about to be submitted to the House, as more ample opportunity would be afforded hereafter. He would, however, warn the Ministry—he would warn the House—he would warn the country, that rebellion was not confined to Canada. It had developed itself also in London, though not with the same helmet-head as it exhibited in the colony. 119 Either the life of the Queen was threatened at the late meeting of the Crown and Anchor, or there were infamous misrepresentations made in the newspapers. If the gallant Gentleman uttered what was reported for him, and that the Law Officers did not take the matter up, they were aiding and abetting high treason. He cared not for the consequences of his assertion. In the presence of God—in the presence of that House, such was his conscientious conviction; and if the gallant Gentleman had not used the words, the proprietors of the newspapers ought to be brought to trial for high treason.
§ Mr. Dillon Browne
would not follow the histrionic speech of the hon. Member, nor would he argue the judiciousness of sending either the hon. Member for Kilkenny or Colonel Thompson to the Tower; nor would he institute a comparison between the hon. Member for Dublin and Mr. Papineau—he thought, indeed, that there was an essential difference between them, one advocating a physical and the other a moral agitation—but he would try to adhere to the subject matter of debate. He rose with reluctance to address the House, and should not have done so, only fearing, as the Irish Members had taken little part in the debates regarding Canada, that it might be supposed they were apathetic respecting the interests of that colony, and did not sympathise in the sufferings of its people. The simple circumstance of his being an Irishman was a sufficient excuse for addressing them, for, on account of a sad association in misfortune, Ireland and Canada had been placed in a companionship. Similar, if not identical, grievances harassed and humbled them together. They knelt together before the same bar of British justice; they had been dismissed together with contumely and insult; and now, when they appeared again to seek their just rights, though not in the same companionship of humility, though not in the same attitude of prayer—Ireland in that of supplication, Canada in armour—it must be excusable in even the humblest representative of the Irish people to express his sentiments in a debate which so deeply involved the fortunes of those who were fellow-sufferers with his countrymen, and to take an interest in the struggle, in which their rulers might be taught a lesson which wisdom learned from experience might induce them to apply to his country. 120 He hoped the hon. Member for Dublin would denounce the resolutions as contrary to the great principle of civil and religious liberty which he had ever advocated, and that the hon. Member for Tipperary would prove, upon this occasion, that his estimate of justice was not measured by local prejudices and party antipathies, and that he did not wish that it should be limited to the boundaries of Ireland alone. The case of the two countries was nearly identical: in both there was a "monopolising miserable minority," and in both a powerful party in that House ready to pander to their wishes. Canada was in the worst position, for while Ireland had only to contend with hon. Gentlemen opposite, Canada had opposed to it the powerful force produced by the unnatural alliance of those Tories who were the avowed enemies, and those Whigs who were the avowed champions of reform. He always regarded an union between Whigs and Tories with much distrust, for then he apprehended some powerful resistance to the wishes of the people, if not some violent encroachment on public liberty. The Whigs were willing to allow the people to remain as they were, but it was always provided that it did not prejudice the aristocracy. They would even permit them to advance a little, provided always they gave the aristocracy an opportunity to overtake them. But the moment the people endeavoured to maintain a position from which they could not be dislodged, the moment they wished to raise between themselves and the aristocracy a barrier which the latter could not overleap, that moment the Whigs became Tories, and the people were the common enemy. He considered the conduct of her Majesty's Government with respect to Canada was unwise, unconstitutional, and timid withal. It was unwise, because contrary to the opinions of all great statesmen: it eudeavoured to govern a colony on the principle of coercion. It was obviously unconstitutional, because the resolutions of the noble Lord invaded the constitution of 1791; and it was timid, because, while it had popularity for its immediate object and oppression for its end, it had not the firmness of purpose to pursue the one or enforce the other. What the people of England must consider in this war, for war it would be if the sense of wrong continued, however the present efforts might be crushed, was 121 this: first, if it were a just war; next, it being just, if it were likely to be attended with success; and lastly, if successful, if it were likely to confer on England a benefit commensurate with the blood and treasure it would cost? To ascertain if it were a just war, they must define what principles should direct the mother country in her guardianship of the colonies, for that was the proper term to express the relationship between them. For his part, he thought they should extend to the colony that liberal policy which would enable it as soon as possible to maintain its independence, and we should govern it with that grace which would induce it, when free, to seek a friendly intercourse with the parent state. When they did separate—for separate they must in the course of time, to repeat the opinion of the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire—let it not be by a sudden convulsion, dangerous and degrading to either the one or the other, but let it be by mutual arrangement, which would promote the interest and honour of both. From that principle they had obviously deviated; but lest the opinion that they should nurse a colony merely for independence should be too extreme, let them take the opinions of eminent statesmen, and reflect how they would have acted towards Canada. Sir James Mackintosh had stated "that a colony should have permission to conduct the whole of its internal affairs, compelling them to pay all the reasonable expenses of their government, and giving them at the same time a perfect control over the expenditure of the money;" and he further said, that "in the government of the colonies nothing is lost in yielding to the wishes of the people when expressed by their representatives." Mr. Fox said, "With regard to foreign colonies, he was of opinion, that the power of the Crown ought to be kept low; it was impossible to foresee what would be the state of a distant colony at a distant time. But in giving, them a constitution, it was our duty as well as our interest to give them as much liberty as we could—to render them happy, flourishing, and as little dependent as possible; indeed, he thought the more despotic the constitution we gave a colony, the more we made it the interest of that colony to get rid of our constitution; and it was evident the American states had revolted, because they did not consider 122 themselves sufficiently free." And in another place he said, applying himself immediately to Canada, that "he conceived the only means of retaining a distant colony with advantage was to enable it to govern itself." Now, he would ask, did not the resolutions of the noble Lord invade those principles of colonial legislation? Far from extending to Canada a more liberal policy than was extended to the British people, did not her Majesty's Government, in thrusting their hands into the Canadian chest, do what they dared not do in England? Bring the matter home; suppose the executive could last year have paid itself, what would have been the consequence? They would have had a Tory Administration; the King was, avowedly a Tory, and he would have called the Tories to his councils; but they were not sufficiently disinterested to obey the call, as the people would not pay them. Had the present Government, in refusing to grant to the people an elective Legislative Council, acted in accordance with the opinions of Sir J. Mackintosh and those other statesmen who told them to receive their principles of government from the recommendation of the people? They deviated from those opinions, and proved that no good arose from doing so. Their only argument was an obstinate adhesion to the constitution, not because it was a good, but because it was the old constitution. The noble Lord opposite had said, "How ill the Legislative Council had discharged their office they might judge from the papers before them: the Members of the Council, on every occasion, had enrolled themselves on the side of Government against the wishes of the people—they stood as an impotent screen between the Government and the people—they neither repelled the people on the one hand, nor the Government on the other. But while they enabled the one to keep up a war against the other, they were the means of a continued system of jarring and contention. This council was the worst of all the evils which had taken place in the administration here for the last fifteen years." That was the opinion of the noble Lord who now so warmly advocated the continuance of that council, and the usurpations of the executive. The only benefit that could be derived from oppression, was the moral instruction which it brought to posterity; for, as success must eventually attend the 123 right, such acts of oppression, as procuring the triumph of liberty, while they held out a bright example to the people, taught at the same time a striking lesson to improvident monarchs and a reckless aristocracy; and when they viewed them through the vista of the past, and with the eye of memory, they stood as islands rising above the proper level of justice on which history had erected beacon lights to guide the giddy vessel of the state. He did not wish defeat to attend the arms of his Sovereign. He wished victory to crown them when directed against the natural enemies of the state and the sovereignty of England.
§ Mr. Brotherton
said, it was not his intention to make more than a few observations. He should not have trespassed at all on the attention of the House, if it had not been for some observations which fell from the hon. Member for Evesham in his speech—a speech which, like other similar speeches, was calculated to do much mischief. It was a great and fearful responsibility in any Government to plunge itself into a civil war. It was much easier to get into a civil war than to get out of it. He was not disposed to give any sanction to the using of physical force towards Canada. He would ask, however, whether the Canadians had not grievances to complain of? It was easy to talk of putting down an insurrection. He wished, rather, that justice should be done, and when that was done, he could not bring himself to believe that a whole nation would commit suicide. If the insurrection were only partial, it would be easily put down—it would, in fact, sink of itself. They should consider that the insurrection, if partial, was already at an end; but if general, it would be very difficult to put a stop to it by physical force. He felt considerable embarrassment in voting for the suspension of the constitution which had been granted to the people of Lower Canada. He could not but remember his own feelings when the Irish Coercion Bill was passed. Being brought up with a reverence for the laws and constitution, he could not bring himself to destroy that constitution so granted for the benefit of a whole people, and not of a party. He thought it would, in the present instance, be more advisable for Government to pursue a conciliatory course. He approved of the selection of Lord Durham; that nobleman was one in 124 whose judgment and discretion great confidence might be placed. He thought, however, that Lord Durham would go out under great disadvantages, if he were sent out accompanied by a coercion bill, and under the necessity of putting it in force. Public opinion would ever be found more efficacious than force, and measures of conciliation and forbearance would more effectually tranquillise the people of Canada, and would take a greater hold of their gratitude and affections, than the having recourse to violent and harsh proceedings.
§ Mr. Lucas
would not have obtruded himself upon the attention of the House, if it had not been for the direct appeal made to the Irish Members by the hon. Member for Mayo. Knowing, that most of the Gentlemen from Ireland, on both sides of the House, were absent in attendance upon duties which they considered of greater moment, and such as would more fitly occupy their attention, he (Mr. Lucas) was unwilling to put himself forward; but as he happened to be present, he would answer the appeal of the hon. Member for Mayo on the only point which could be justly brought into consideration at the present moment, as indicating a community of interest or feeling between the people of Ireland and the people of Canada. For a long period—a period of nearly fifty years—a considerable emigration had been going on from Ireland to Canada, fostered and encouraged by the loyal and well-meaning residents in the latter country; sanctioned also and protected by the Legislature. Continuing for fifty years, and each year progressively increasing, that process of emigration had the effect of locating in Canada a large amount both of the population and capital of Ireland. Those who were disposed to emigrate, must necessarily have some capital, and all the Irish settlers in Canada, when they quitted their native country, either on account of political disasters or pecuniary deficiencies, still carried with them their capital, some more and some less. That capital was embarked in successful mercantile or agricultural speculations, and rested for its protection entirely on the faith of the British Government. They were peaceable, industrious, and loyal, attached to the British Government, and inclined to support it if the Government would support them. For the sake of his country 125 and the Government, he (Mr. Lucas) raised his voice against any proposal for the relinquishment of those colonies in which his unfortunate countrymen were placed without protection. He protested against the attempts made on the part of the French population to encroach upon the rights of those well-disposed and industrious settlers.
§ Mr. Clay
could not bring himself to give a silent vote upon this occasion. He could not forbear from expressing the very great pleasure which he felt at hearing the calm, temperate, and rational speech of his hon. Friend, the Member for Bridport, in recommending the proper course of policy to be pursued by this country towards Canada. At the same time, he could not help observing, that although his hon. Friend, the Member for Bridport, did not attempt to defend the conduct and measures of the insurgents in Lower Canada, still there was, he thought, a disposition to palliate the insurrection. It appeared to him to admit of little doubt, that the present, insurrection in Canada was wholly without justification, without palliation, without excuse. All their grievances were likely to be redressed—all were in a fair, and reasonable, and probable course of adjustment, and they never wanted for the services of able and earnest advocates. He was of opinion that by a proper use of the privileges conferred upon them by their constitution, by a legitimate exercise of the power which a representative constitution had placed in their hands, by constitutional means, they might and would have succeeded in obtaining a redress of those grievances of which they complained, They had no right, however, to stop the supplies and throw the machinery of Government into disorder. They had no right to avail themselves of that power for the purpose of enforcing organic changes in the constitution of 1791. They should look at the nature of the compact between the colonies and the parent state. Upon that point he would observe, that there was no analogy whatever between the claim set up by the House of Assembly of Lower Canada to stop the supplies for the purpose of obtaining a constitutional object, and the legitimate and wise powers in that respect wielded by the Imperial Parliament. There was no second party to the compact in this country. There was no intermediate place of resort. There was a 126 second party to the compact between the colonies and the parent state. He held that they had no right to avail themselves of that control over the revenue and power of allocation placed in their hands by the constitution for the purpose of endeavouring to force on an organic change. That power they appeared to him to have wholly and grossly abused in attempting to wrest from the governor and authorities of Canada demands and concessions which it was not in their power, even if they had been so inclined to grant. He was bound to say that it appeared to him, that in the conduct and outbreak of that insurrection there was neither wisdom of council nor boldness of selection; that the leaders did not appear to him to exhibit many of those qualifications which would induce one to suppose that they would make safe and prudent leaders of a great and independent nation. Though Lord Gosford, might have made a mistake in his administration of the affairs of the colony, yet it should be remembered it was a mistake on the right side. He might have been slow in his deliberations, but if he had erred, it was a noble error, and one which, in his opinion, was likely to find pardon and palliation from the representatives of the people. Of the taking possession of the funds raised by the taxation of the people he could not approve. He did not mean to say that taking possession of the funds in accordance with the resolutions, afforded any justification of the insurrection. With regard to the plan now proposed, he had great pleasure in stating that it met with his entire and perfect concurrence. It appeared to be the only one which could be taken with any prospect of success. In this country, at a distance, and with but a necessarily imperfect knowledge of the circumstances, it would be impossible to legislate with any prospect of success, or with the likelihood of a final and satisfactory adjustment. Besides, the feeling among the Canadians would not be in favour of any plan originating directly in this country. The present plan for redressing the grievances of the Canadian population appeared to him to be a wise, generous, and well-contrived plan. He did not entertain the same exalted opinion of the value of colonies with the hon. Member for Evesham. The hon. Member concluded by repeating his approval of the Ministerial plan.
expressed his great satisfac- 127 tion at the appointment of the Earl of Durham to the mission on which he was shortly to proceed. He felt persuaded that if any man could settle the unfortunate differences that now existed between the provinces of Canada and the mother country, that noble Lord, from his sound judgment and great talents, would succeed in that most desirable object. He fully concurred in the Ministerial proposition. The question would no doubt have assumed a totally different shape, if the whole of the North American provinces had been, like the great majority of Lower Canada, desirous of a separation; but, when he found that New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Upper Canada were all anxious to retain their connection with this country, that was a sufficient reason with him to oppose emancipating any of the American provinces from their present allegiance to the British Sovereign.
Sir Hussey Vivian
, in answer to the allegation that the British troops had burned the houses of the Canadians, together with their inmates, begged to say, that there was no statement of any such circumstance having taken place, throughout the whole of the papers which had been laid before Parliament. It was true, a barn was destroyed by fire by the soldiers; but up to the present moment it did not appear that a single individual was in the barn at the time. When this question was discussed on a former occasion, he was sorry to hear it held forth as an argument for giving up the Canadian colonies, that, by possibility, the British soldiers would be induced, by improper motives, to quit their colours, and that they would look to the spoliation of the British settlers in Canada as an advantage that would compensate them for deserting their country. He (Sir Hussey Vivian) should like to know when British soldiers had ever been influenced by such base motives. It was perfectly well known that in the army in Canada great desertion took place. The habits and facilities afforded by the proximity of the United States and the advantages which were held out to the troops led to that desertion. He knew that during the time he was in Ireland, the dep6ts there had to send out twice the number of troops every year to the Canadas that they had to any other part of the British dominions. But what was the fact now? Why, that of late years the troops had not deserted; and he would venture to say that when the troops should be 128 called upon to do their duty to their country, so far from desertion, every man would be found to stand firm and hold fast by those colours, to which he was pledged equally by his honour and his oath. The hon. Member for Kilkenny had said that no preparations were made by the colonial government to anticipate and prevent the revolt, and that the people were driven to insurrection. Now, he would not trouble the House by going through the various dispatches that were before them, but he would, without quoting the passages, declare that they most satisfactorily proved that every preparation was made that the circumstances of the colony required. The hon. Member for Kilkenny had constantly stated in this House that he had foretold the revolt that had taken place in the Canadian provinces. He knew no man who had a greater right to foretel it than the hon. Gentleman himself. He recollected the letters of the hon. Member. He recollected also the speeches of the hon. Member. They all knew perfectly well the story of a person whose name was Martin, who foretold, that York cathedral would be burnt, and who then went and set it on fire; he really could not help thinking that the hon. Member had himself greatly contributed to fulfil his own prophecy. He contended that Lord Gosford in his government of Canada had proceeded upon the principle of conciliation as far as it was possible. He was quite sure that Lord Gosford was always most anxious to conciliate the people of Canada; and, indeed, this was most obvious from the circumstance that even when the revolt broke out, he did not feel himself authorised to adopt severe measures of repression. Looking from the beginning to the end of these dispatches, it would be seen that Lord Gosford's instructions were, to do everything that he possibly could to render justice to the Canadians, and to conciliate the feelings of the people of that country. He believed that the present disturbed state of those provinces was entirely owing to the existence of a strong party in that country inimical to the connection with England; but he hoped and trusted that the feelings of the people generally were in favour of continuing that connection. He would not now refer to the question of the emancipation of the colonies. The day might probably come when emancipation might be necessary. But he should be sorry to see a great nation like this give up its 129 colonies, because a party in those colonies chose to revolt. But it was said that the present was a question of justice towards the colonists. He admitted that it was so; and he would ask the hon. Member for Kilkenny whether he thought that Lower Canada was now in a fit state to be emancipated—whether, in justice to the British settlers there and those who inhabited Upper Canada, it was possible to grant emancipation and prevent a civil war from taking place? He most sincerely believed that unless this country asserted its power, and maintained its dominion over Canada, the effect would be destructive not only to the Canadians themselves, but to every British subject who, under the protection of this country, had settled there. It was to prevent this that he earnestly hoped every means of conciliation would be taken, that the noble Earl who was about to proceed thither would have full power to effect such conciliation, and that through his exertions the Canadians might long continue to live happily under the parental sway of this great nation.
§ Mr. Hume
was extremely happy to have heard from the hon. and gallant Officer who had just sat down a repetition of what the right hon. Baronet opposite last night stepped out of his way to notice. He had been afraid that he should not have an opportunity afforded him to reply to that right hon. Baronet; but the present occasion afforded him that opportunity, and he should avail himself of it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had, as well as others, lent himself to affirm and to propagate a most garbled and incorrect representation. "The hon. and gallant Gentleman has said (continued Mr. Hume) that I ought to know that the revolt would take place because. I had foretold it four years ago. Why, Sir, ten years ago 1 foretold it. When on the opposite side of the House I recommended that the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada should be separated amicably from this country. On that occasion I stated, that if the policy which had been hitherto followed in Canada were continued, it must ultimately lead to resistance and separation. I foretold that, as soon as I beheld the blind and narrow policy which this country was adopting towards those colonies. Ever since my attention has been directed towards the state of our colonies in North America, I have seen nothing 130 but misrule on the part of this country. A limited number of official persons, not having any interest in, nor connected by property or birth with, the colonies, have been uniformly maintained by the British Government in all the official situations in those provinces. The same spirit of religious persecution was pursued, the same disdain shown towards the Roman Catholics in Canada as had been for so many centuries exhibited towards the Catholics in Ireland. Every document proves that. [No, no. !] Let those Gentlemen who say "no," look to facts. In every respect, except the Government provision for the Catholic clergy, the Catholics of Canada are treated as the Catholics of Ireland have been. The cry of "no, no!" therefore, can only have proceeded from those Gentlemen who have taken up the one-sided tale which they have heard in this House. It is impossible for any Gentleman who has read the report of the Committee of Inquiry of 1828, to rise from its perusal with any other opinion than that a system of misrule had driven the people of Canada most reluctantly to the opinion that it ought to be met with resistance. There is a period when resistance becomes a virtue; and as I have frequently before stated, the parties interested must be the judges when the time for resistance has arrived. Such is the fact; and is there anything uncommon in this doctrine? I may be wrong in my opinions, but I never have flinched, and never shall flinch, from an open and candid avowal of them. My opinions with respect to the Canadian question have been before the public for many years; and what I expressed in that letter, which has been garbled by Sir Francis Head, is the opinion I still entertain. I say garbled, because it has suited the purpose of Sir F. Head to send home one part of the letter without sending home the whole. He contented himself with sending home a portion of one letter instead of a dozen letters, which he might have had if he chose. I am now prepared to repeat all that I stated in that letter. You now see the consequences that have entirely arisen from that system of injustice which has hitherto been acted upon towards the Canadians. I will, however, read the letter from which the objectionable words have been extracted. It is addressed to Mr. Mackenzie. Gentlemen have spoken of a correspondence between me and Mr. Papineau. I am not aware 131 that I ever had the honour of a letter from that gentleman, or that he ever received one from me, or that anything ever passed between us, except one communication from him, transmitting a vote of thanks which the House of Assembly had passed for the little services which I had been able to render Canada in this House. But let the documents be produced; let the letters be brought forward. I do think that that which I foretold has come to pass in the natural course of events, and that those Gentlemen who had the power to prevent it have been the real cause of this unfortunate revolt. I must say, that the manner in which the right hon. Baronet last night alluded to Mr. Mackenzie did show a worse and more vindictive spirit than I expected from him towards any individual, and particularly an individual in the situation in which Mr. Mackenzie is placed. Now, Sir, who is Mr. Mackenzie? Mr. Mackenzie was once a Member of the House of Assembly in Upper Canada. He had been the printer, editor, and proprietor of an opposition paper, called The Advocate. A party organisation destroyed his properly, pulled down his house, and endangered his life. He prosecuted the parties, and obtained damages for the injury he had sustained. But his enemies were not satisfied. The House of Assembly expelled him for a speech delivered by him on the hustings. The county of York re-elected him. He was expelled again, and re-elected again. Four successive times was be re-elected, in spite of all his opponents could do. His last rejection was only effected by a majority of one. I applied to the Colonial-office, and asked whether it was fit that such a course should be pursued? The Colonial-office told me they did not countenance any such thing, and sent out orders that, as far as Government could influence the House of Assembly, Mr. Mackenzie should not be again expelled. He happened to be in England the last time of his expulsion, and what brought him here? He was deputed by the House of Assembly to support the claims of the colony. It was here I became acquainted with him. Lord Goderich took immediate measures for remedying the grievances complained of, and I had the pleasure of presenting to that noble Lord the thanks of twenty-five counties and towns in Canada for the reforms he introduced. Mr. Mackenzie returned to 132 Upper Canada. Immediately after that how was the sense of the people of Toronto expressed towards him? They, at the first meeting of the corporation established the year before by Act of Parliament, elected him mayor of that city. This is the Gentleman of whom the right hon. Baronet spoke as a Mr. Mackenzie. True, he is a Mr. Mackenzie, but there is also a Sir Robert Peel. But that is not the way to speak of any individual. What farther did this lead to? Was he again expelled from the House of Assembly? No; he continued an active Member of it for two years. He was chairman of the different Committees, and prepared the reports of the grievances of Upper Canada. Was it to be supposed that such a man would be allowed by his opponents to remain quiet? No; they did every thing in their power to injure him, but nothing could be done to prejudice him in the minds of his constituents, until Sir Francis Head at the last election succeeded in getting him rejected. The House of Assembly, by a majority of thirty-five to five, met, and tore from the journals of the House the record of the whole of the proceedings by which he had been expelled, in like manner as was done by this House in the case of Mr. Wilks." Such being the character of Mr. Mackenzie, continued the hon. Member, he felt that when that gentleman left England, he was justified in doing all he could to see that the measures which were promised by the colonial office were carried into effect.. He would venture to say, that Mr. Mackenzie, who, though he had become a rebel, was a distinguished man. If he had been successful he would have been called a patriot. Yes, speeches had been made in that House by Gentlemen as if no such thing as revolutions had ever taken place. Why, by what power did the house of Hanover hold their present seat on the British throne? It was by a revolution. Let the grounds of the revolution of 1688 be inquired into; he wished the hon. Member for the Toner Hamlets, who had staled that there was no palliation or excuse for the present revolt in Canada, would examine into the grounds of that revolution, and he was confident that it would appear that there was no greater justification for the revolution of 1688 than could be urged on behalf of the Canadian people. But by what light did the king of the French 133 hold his throne? Was it by anything but a revolution? Yet had not this country formed an alliance with that individual who sat on a rebel throne? On what ground was it that the king of Belgium held his throne? Were hon. Members on that (the Ministerial) side of the House slow to recognise him as a lawful sovereign? They seemed, indeed, to act upon the doctrine that the people in all countries who made a popular movement were rebels till they were successful, but patriots when they had triumphed. Hon. Members on the other side of the House had indeed asserted of the Belgians, as of the Canadians now, that they had no grounds for their revolution. He would not stop to inquire which side was right or which was wrong in the opinion they had formed, but be did not say, that the case of the Canadians and the Belgians ought to stand together. The Belgians were successful, and they were proclaimed patriots, and had been recognised as such, the Canadians seemed to be unsuccessful, and they were denounced rebels, they gave title and honour to the one party, and they would gibbet and execute the other. Hon. Gentlemen seemed most mealy-mouthed now, and to be afraid of the mere mention of the term resistance, but did they recollect a statement which was made to the House in 1766, by a Mr. Pitt, when the Government of that day brought in a Bill, not, perhaps, entirely similar to the present Bill, but partaking of much of its spirit, called the Stamp Act? What would that hon. Gentleman have thought of the rhodomontade which had been uttered by the mealy-mouthed orators of the present day against any man who should dare to think of resistance? Let them mark well what—"a Mr. Pitt"—said upon that occasion:—We are told that America is obstinate—that America is almost in open rebellion. Sir, I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to to be slaves would have been fit instruments to make slaves of all the rest." For the three millions let the House read one million, or even five hundred thousand, and would not the same argument apply in all its details to the present case? Mr. Pitt went on to say—"The Americans have been wronged, they have been driven to madness by injustice. Will you punish them for the madness you have 134 occasioned? No; let this country be the first to resume its prudence and temper." This was the language then held by the Whigs, and the success of the Americans was rewarded and applauded, and the men who had taken part in the rebellion were eulogised as men who had risked their lives for the benefit of the country. And why did they not grant the same indulgence to the resistance of the Canadians? He thought that the Government was acting a most ungenerous part, and he would subsequently state his reason for this opinion more in detail, but first he would apply himself to get rid of the personal attack which had been made upon him. The letter which had been complained of was dated the 29th of May, 1834, and was directed to Mr. Mackenzie on the accession of Mr. Stanley to the colonial office. After acknowledging the receipt of a copy of the Vindicator newspaper, and alluding to Mr. Mackenzie's recent expulsion from the House of Assembly, he had said that the Government seemed willing to sacrifice great public principles to gratify a paltry and mean spirit of revenge against Mr. Mackenzie, and had then gone on—"Your triumphant election of the 16th, and ejection from the Assembly of the 17th, must hasten that crisis, which is fast approaching, in the affairs of the Canadas, and which will terminate in independence and freedom from the baneful domination of the mother country, and the tyrannical conduct of a small and despicable faction in the colony;" and he further expressed his hope that the Canadians would go on in their exertions for liberty, and that "success, glorious success, would crown their efforts." Was there anything wrong in such a sentiment? And he thus concluded:—" The proceedings between 1772 and 1782 in America, ought not to be forgotten; and to the honour of the Americans, and for the interest of the civilised world, let their conduct and result be ever in view." This was all of importance which was contained in the letter which seemed so much to delight hon. Gentlemen opposite. It showed only that he (Mr. Hume) was then, as he had long been, anxious that the grievances of the Canadians should be remedied, and he had written it at a most important period, when he was likely to feel most strongly. Lord Ripon had removed Mr. Bolton, the Attorney-General, 135 and Mr. Haggerman, the Solicitor-General, because the one had moved in the Council, and the other in the House of Assembly, that the dispatch of her Majesty's Ministers should be laid under the table, or be sent back to them. This dispatch contained several alterations proposed by Lord Goderich to meet the wishes of the majority of the people, and these officers had taken the lead in opposing the reforms which the Colonial Government had wished should take place. Lord Goderich had sent out orders that these gentlemen should either resign or be dismissed. They came home. He would challenge the noble Lord to produce any insult half so violent as these officers had perpetrated against Lord Ripon; but it seemed to be the maxim that the worse persons behoved in the colonies the better they would be treated; for no sooner had Mr. Stanley come into office, than Haggerman, the Solicitor-General, was sent back to the colony, promoted to the rank of Attorney-General, whilst Bolton, the Attorney-General, was made a Judge, and was sent to Newfoundland; and he was able to show that most of the stoppage of business complained of in that island, was mainly owing to this appointment. It was at the time that these gentlemen were sent back that he had written the letter which had been alluded to: he might, perhaps, have expressed himself in more temperate language, but feeling strongly upon the subject, he had expressed himself so as to be understood. He never minced matters, he called things by their proper names but seeing what had taken place in the United States, he wished to avoid a repetition. Another letter which he had sent out to the colony, but which had not been sent back to this country, was to congratulate the colony on the removal of Mr. Stanley and the appointment of Mr. Rice, and saying that he had known Mr. Rice for many years, and from what he knew he anticipated a new order of things; and he recommended that the wants of the colony should be embodied in a petition, which he hoped would meet with immediate attention, but at the same time that they should not give up their exertions till they had obtained good government, which was equally important to England as to the colonies. This was one of two or three letters to the same effect, in all of which his sole object was to prevent the scenes which had taken place. If 136 the hon. Baronet, the Member for Tam-worth, had known all this, he never would have made the observations which he had stepped out of his way to make. He had never intended his letters for publication; they were mere private communications; but the publication only showed how dangerous it was to write privately to a printer. At the same time he would tell hon. Members, that he never wrote any thing on private or public affairs which he cared about being printed. But, to show the House why the importance of his first letter had been magnified, he would call the attention of the House to what had taken place during the late election. They all knew the endeavours of both sides to make out a strong case in favour of the particular colours under which each was to fight. They (the Reformers) had for their standing dish the affairs of Canada, and the misconduct of the Duke of Cumberland, and he must confess that he was most willing to apply himself to the latter point in the best way which he could. The other hon. Gentlemen had for their great stalking-horse the fear of Mr. O'Connell; and he would venture to assert, that there was not a Tory hustings throughout the country which did not resound with cries on one of two questions—either respecting the poor-law or Mr. O'Connell and the Church. Hon. Members opposite might be honest with respect to O'Connell and the Church, but they were most dishonest with regard to the Poor-law Bill. Now, at the time of the publication of this letter an election was about to take place in Canada; and to make a good use of the letter, the common council of Toronto had been called together to pass a resolution, declaring that it tended to a separation between the colony and the mother country. This proposal was met by the following resolution:—That forced and unfair constructions have been attempted to be put upon the letter of Joseph Hume, Esq, dated Bryanston-square, March 29, 1834, by those who are hostile to the correction of the abuses in the administration of our provincial affairs; that the electors of the county of York fully deserve the commendation bestowed upon them by the great Reformer, for their continued, firm, and consistent support of their representative upon his repeated unlawful expulsions from the Commons' House of Assembly, whose rash and unconstitutional conduct betrays a want of common sense and prudence, being a sacrifice of the greatest of public principles, and an in- 137 vasion of the rights of the whole body of electors in the county; that Mr. Hume justly regards such conduct on the part of the Legislature, countenanced as it was by the Crown officers and other executive functionaries in the assembly, and unredressed by the exercise of the royal prerogative, as evidence of baneful and tyrannical domination, in which conduct it is both painful and injurious to find the provincial officials systematically upheld by the Minister at home against the people; that Joseph Hume, Esq., in desiring their independence and freedom from all such misrule, has no where expressed a desire to withhold from the people of this province that protection from the mother country, which he has for years generously laboured to secure for them upon the principles of good Government and enlightened policy, and that he has evidenced the sincerity of his intention by frequently repeated appeals to the Colonial Ministry and British House of Commons for the redress of existing grievances; that Mr. Hume's opinion of the provincial executive, is justified by the solemn declaration of the people of this province, through their representatives in a late Parliament, when they unanimously addressed the present Lieutenant-Governor in the following language, viz.; 'We feel unabated solicitude about the administration of public justice, and entertain a settled conviction that the continuance about your Excellency of those advisers, who, from the unhappy feeling they pursued, have long deservedly lost the confidence of the country, is highly inexpedient, and calculated seriously to weaken the expectations of the people from the impartial and disinterested justice of his Majesty's Government.'That amendment was carried by a majority of thirteen to seven, in spite of the influence of the Government; and it thus appeared that his letter was made a mere stalking-horse to get the council to affirm by a vote what it never believed. Thus be had only pointed out, not only to the present but to every preceding Government, that the course which had been taken was unjust to the colonies, and still more unjust to England. He would now ask the hon. and gallant Officer whether there were any other documents from which he had formed his opinions? If there were any such, he would ask their date, and what they were? But he denied altogether that there were any such; and he would challenge the hon. and gallant Member to produce any such; if he could not, let him hold his tongue for ever. Who obliged the right hon. Baronet to go out of his way to introduce this correspondence? No one had mentioned Upper Canada during the debate which 138 related wholly to the lower province, the proceedings in which were not affected at all by his letter. So much for the personal part of the matter. Last night he had asked fora delay of twenty-four hours to allow them to consider the address which was proposed, with a view to draw up a proper amendment, and he thought that the House had been ill-treated in not having had the same indulgence extended to them as was given to the other House of Parliament. Was the House of Commons to be trampled upon and treated as they had been last night? If the House were not to consider any question, but were to pass whatever was proposed without attention or consideration, the course which the noble Lord had pursued was perfectly right; but if the propositions were to be discussed, the noble Lord's conduct was most singular. It was because he had not been able last night to express his opinion that he should then move an amendment to place on record his own sentiments on this subject; he had consulted with no other Gentleman, but it would be a satisfaction to be able to put his own opinions upon the journals of that House. He was sorry to find that his hon Friend, the Member for the Tower Hamlets, agreed so cordially in the address proposed by the noble Lord. He must have read the papers on the table of the House to little purpose when he denied the right of the House of Assembly to stop the supplies, and that they were wrong in so doing; for if he had perused the dispatch of Lord Glenelg to Lord Gosford in June, 1836, he would have found it expressly stated, that his late Majesty recognised the right of the House of Assembly to stop the supplies. They had, undoubtedly, had the power, but whether they had exercised it with due discretion was a matter of opinion. He thought that they were right; for let it be remembered that they had not refused the supply altogether, but had voted it, accompanied with restrictions. Then again his hon. Friend objected to the conduct of the Canadians, because their leaders had not shown talents which would have fitted them for the duties of governors. This circumstance did not alter the nature of their conduct, and the Canadians were the best judges of the fitness of their friends for government. He was sorry also to find the hon. Member say that the Canadians had no pretext for the course 139 which they had pursued, when even Lord Gosford, in November, 1835, had deprecated the taking: of money without the consent of the House of Assembly; and having grievances to be redressed and rights to be withheld, he could not think that they were wrong in making a conditional stoppage of the supplies. It behoved him to show that House were taking a course which was most unnecessary; and he hoped that the hon. Members would bear with him whilst he did so. They bad been told that the Government was disposed to act in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the people; but he should like to ask how this desire had been manifested? Had they not opposed the resolutions agreed to in the 14th Parliament, not hastily but after due deliberation, passed by a majority of sixty Members, representing an aggregate of 372,000 persons, and opposed only by twenty-eight Members, representing only 138,000 persons, the number of liberal Members who voted having thus a constituency double those of the opposition? The Parliament was dissolved, and the result was, that the minority of twenty-eight was reduced to eleven, showing that the people were determined to support their representatives; and in the next Parliament the number of Members supporting the resolutions were increased to seventy-seven, representing a population of 477,000, whilst the eleven dissentients only represented 34,000, thus proving that the assertion of grievances was not merely the effect of excitement, got up by one, two, or three men of talent, with Mr. Papineau at their head, but that it was the settled opinion of the country, on which the decision of the local Parliament might be considered as the embodied verdict. [Interruption.] It might be very unpleasant to hon. Gentlemen who had listened with so much satisfaction to a statement which accorded with their own views to hear anything militating against their preconceived notions; but he must proceed. If any proof stronger than the renewed vote were required to show the opinion of the country, there was still another. Why did not Lord Gosford dissolve the Assembly? The constitutional argument was, if the vote of the House were thought factious, or as misrepresenting the people, that a dissolution should take place; but the reason why the appeal to the people was not made, was given in Lord Gosford's reply—"I cannot dissolve 140 the Assembly, because the same men would be sent back." He well recollected that when the House of Commons was divided in the proportion of 300 to 302, on the Reform Bill, William 4th came down to the House and dissolved the Parliament: he saw a difference of opinion so slight, as to make him doubt which side really represented the people, and to them he appealed for a decision; the result was as unequivocal as it was notorious—the Members on the benches opposite were reduced from 300 to 156. He thought, therefore, that they ought to be satisfied with using constitutional means to effect a reconciliation with Canada; and he would say, "do not suspend the constitution, do not send out Lord Durham with a bill of pains and penalties," for such was not the way to make peace—such was not the method to appease the irritation which unfortunately existed. If peace were the object of Ministers, they were, in his opinion, taking measures more likely to mar than to effect it. Let them learn from experience. Let them send out Lord Durham if they pleased, with paramount power; let him exercise to the full, every prerogative of the Crown; but let him not go armed with a Bill of oppression. By the course they were pursuing they were acting most unjustly; by taking away the democratic power from the hands of the people, they were but acting over again what had been done by the Parliament in 1774; they were doing precisely what was proposed at that period by Lord North, who, in the House of Commons, in the debate on the government of Massachusett's Bay, on the 28th March, 1774, said "I propose in this Bill to take the executive power from the hands of the democratic part of the Government. I would propose that the Governor should act as a Justice of Peace, and that he should have the power to appoint the officers throughout the whole civil authority, such as the sheriffs, provost marshal, &c. I therefore move you, Sir, that leave be given to bring in a Bill for the better regulating the government of the province of Massachusett's Bay." And let the House look back and see what had been the effect of the course which was then pursued. The moderately liberal party in America who were most anxious to preserve the connection with England, on the mere arrival of Lord North's proposal for a Bill, became as much opposed to this country as they had been to a separation; 141 in short, precisely the same effect was produced as had been experienced on the reception in Canada, of the recent resolutions of that House. And it was natural that the same causes should produce the same results. Lord North's Bill produced nothing but dissension and discontent, and were the Canadians a different class of men from those of the United States? True, it had been said, that the Canadians were cowards and would not fight, but, precisely the same thing had been said of the Americans; for Colonel Tarleton's boast was, that with a single sergeant's company of dragoons, he would march through the whole of North America. He could only apply to this Bill, the language of Lord Camden used in the debate of the 15th of March, 1775, on the bill for restraining the trade and commerce of the New England colonies:—"We are told by some that this is a Bill of firmness and rigour to fill up the measure of justice and to inflict condign punishment on the obstinate and rebellious colonists; but by others, that it is a Bill of mercy, kind and indulgent to the Americans. But, my Lords, the true character of the Bill is violent and hostile. My Lords, it is a Bill of war; it draws the sword, and, in its necessary consequences, plunges the empire into civil and unnatural war."' This was precisely the kind of war which must be what was referred to by the hon. and gallant Officer who had just sat down, and it was just that sort of war which he most deprecated. Every step which they had lately taken, had led them deeper and deeper into the mire, and the present measure would, in his opinion, produce the most mischievous effect. He had hoped that such a course would have been pursued as would have justified him in using the words of Lord Chatham; who, when he, on the 1st of February, 1775, submitted his Bill for settling the troubles of America, after stating that the colonies were entitled to all their rights, added, "So shall true reconcilement avert impending calamities, and this most solemn national accord between Great Britain and her colonies stand an everlasting monument of clemency and magnanimity in the benignant father of his people; of wisdom and moderation in this great nation, famed for humanity as for valour; and of fidelity and grateful affection from brave and loyal colonies to their parent kingdom which will for ever protect and cherish them." 142 There was another instance on record recently quoted by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), in which measures of conciliation to Ireland were strongly advocated. Mr. Fox, in his speech on the state of Ireland, in March, 1797, said:—I would, therefore, concede; and, if I found I had not conceded enough, I would concede more. I know of no way of governing mankind but by conciliating them; and according to the forcible way which the Irish have of expressing their meaning, 'I know of no mode of governing the people but by letting them have their own way.' And what shall we lose by it? If Ireland is governed by conceding to all her ways and wishes, will she be less useful to Great Britain? What is she now?What was Canada now? or would she be less useful if her just demands were conceded to her? The case was made out for Ireland, on only exchanging the name of Ireland for the name of Canada. He would say, let them govern themselves by allowing them to have their own way; let the people of Canada have the same principles with the people of Ireland, and let them have the option of adopting their own system of government. He had done his duty in explaining to the House the grounds on which he opposed the Bill, and he repeated, that he was of opinion, that it was advisable by peace and attempts at reconcilement to endeavour to maintain a colony in connexion with the mother country as long as possible; but so soon as the affection between the two countries was found to have ceased to exist, the sooner the system of separation was adopted, the better it would be for the welfare of both. It was on this ground, therefore, that he put in his protest against the proceedings which it was proposed should be adopted. He had proposed a resolution in which he had intended to take the sense of the House, and which embodied his reasons for refusing leave to the noble Lord to bring in the Bill; but in the opinion of many hon. Members sitting near him, it was considered better that he should postpone its proposition until the second reading of the Bill, in the event of its being brought in. He must acknowledge, that he was most unwilling to come to this conclusion; but the ground suggested by hon. Gentlemen was, that such a resolution should not be put until the House had had an opportunity of seeing the object of the 143 Bill; but he must declare that he could see no reason for any part of a measure being seen the whole of which was bad. He should, however, for the present, satisfy himself with taking the sense of the House against the introduction of the Bill; but on its being brought forward for second reading, he should take care that it was further considered.
Sir Hussey Vivian
in explanation, declared, that he was the last man in the world to calumniate any one. The hon. Member had spoken of some letters, which he said had not been alluded to. He did not know what other letters the hon. Member had written besides those referred to.
§ Sir George Grey
remarked, that had it not been for some observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for Kilkenny, he should not have obtruded himself upon the attention of the House, although he should have felt it to be a most grateful duty to express the gratification which he had received from the unanimity which prevailed upon the measure which had been submitted to them. Not only did he derive much gratification from that circumstance, but he also felt a peculiar pleasure in contrasting the tone and temper which had pervaded the debate of that evening with those which had characterised the discussion of the evening before the adjournment of the House, an adjournment every way called for, because the House was then in possession of but very imperfect information, and because that after more mature reflection, and the communication of more accurate intelligence, they would be enabled to approach the discussion of the subject with that tone and in that spirit which the hon. Member for Bridport had recommended, and in accordance with which that evening's debate had been conducted. He regretted that the hon. Member for Kilkenny, standing, as he rejoiced the hon. Member did, almost alone in that House, was not ashamed to avow himself the defender of rebellion. The hon. Member had complained of the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel) as having been guilty of disrespect and want of courtesy in speaking of the rebel Mackenzie as a Mr. Mackenzie, although 144 he had found no fault with the hon. Member who had applied the plainer term of traitor to that individual, and he was therefore bound, without any breach of charily, to suppose that it was one in which the hon. Member for Kilkenny considered it no serious reproach to be involved. The hon. Member came forward as the champion of that Mackenzie who had dared to plunge his country into bloodshed, not because any real grievances existed, but because the absence of her Majesty's troops seemed to afford an opportunity for carrying into effect his treasonable designs. But Sir Francis Head had formed a much sounder and truer estimate of the loyalty and British feeling of that province than Mr. Mackenzie; and although he distinctly anticipated, as was evident from his published letters, the course which Mackenzie might take, he did not hesitate for a moment to withdraw all the troops from the province, because he relied on the loyalty of the inhabitants to put down any attempt at insurrection. The hon. Member for Kilkenny said, that Upper Canada had nothing to do with this question. On the last occasion, however, on which the hon. Member addressed the House previous to the adjournment, he said the state of Upper Canada bore greatly upon the present question. He told the House that the same spirit prevailed in Upper Canada which they had been informed had broken out in the lower province, and he expressed his hopes and expectations that the same efforts would be made to free Upper Canada from the dominion of this country, and that the attempt would be crowned with success. The House was told also, that the same feelings were rife and warm in our other American provinces, and that this country would before long be committed in a conflict with them which must end in their independence. A few days after that declaration was made, specific information was received that an insurrection had actually broken out in Upper Canada, and that it had been at once put down. He had particularly stated, when the hon. Member for Kilkenny had asserted that the spirit which unhappily prevailed in Lower Canada obtained in the rest of our North American colonies, that such was not the case at least in Nova Scotia. Was he not right? Since the adjournment of the House there had been sent to this country from Nova Scotia as loyal an ad- 145 dress as ever came to the throne, proceeding from men of extreme as well as moderate opinions, testifying their extreme abhorrence of the course pursued in Lower Canada, and expressing the sense which they entertained of the value of British protection. What was the feeling of the inhabitants of New Brunswick? The same as that which existed in Nova Scotia, when the then Governor had said, that if circumstances were necessary (but he rejoiced to say they were not, as far as the information received at present would allow him to judge), he could put himself at the head of from 1,000 to 5,000 volunteers, and march into Lower Canada in aid of the Queen's troops and of the British Government. But no such necessity existed, and need not be feared, from the loyalty that still pervaded the people of Lower Canada, in which opinion he was borne out by the papers now lying on the table of the House. A spirit of insurrection had been infused into the province by a few individuals working on a portion of the people, but he felt confident that their success would be partial and limited, from the feeling of loyalty that was existing there still, as well as from the amount of the forces, and the aid that would be given them by the loyal inhabitants to crush this revolt. Allusion had been made in the course of the last night's debate to the want of troops in Lower Canada, but he thought it had been shown that the charge was entirely groundless, for during last year the force had been greater than in any preceding. One regiment that was to have left had not done so, and although Sir Colin Campbell had received instructions to send what forces he could to Canada, if it were considered necessary, yet, no such necessity appearing to exist, those instructions had not been acted on at that time. Since then, however, it was deemed expedient that troops should be sent, and he had no doubt they had already arrived there, though only to find that their services would not be required. Deeply deploring, as he did, the spirit which had induced men of influence in Canada to act as they had done, yet it was gratifying to know that the general feeling in these provinces was against them, and that there had been evinced a deep-rooted attachment to British government and British connexion. The hon. Member for Kilkenny had compared the present case with that of the American war: but he would 146 hardly allude to it, for it was only a superficial knowledge of history that could justify the comparison. The revolt in the present case he considered as limited, from the genuine British feeling which pervaded the colony, and which had been fostered and promoted by British rule. He thought there was no more ground for comparison or parallel between the two cases than there was between the able and eloquent speech of Lord Chatham and the speech they had heard to-night from the hon. Member for Kilkenny. The hon. Gentleman had alluded to certain grievances in Lower Canada, but in justice to Lord Gosford it was right to know what those grievances specifically were. A general declaration had been made of the fact of certain men being excluded from office, and of Catholics being treated severely; but it was just to remind the House that the instructions addressed to Lord Gosford last year, and which might be seen in the papers now laid before the House, but to which the hon. Member had not thought fit to refer, contained explicit directions that he should act in a spirit becoming a British governor towards British colonists; and if the hon. Gentleman would substitute specific for general grievances, which he had to complain of against Lord Gosford, he (Sir George Grey) was prepared to meet them, for he was sure they would be found to rest on no valid foundation. Many unjust and ungenerous allusions to Lord Gosford's government had been made that night by the noble Lord, the Member for Cornwall, which were not deserved. He would appeal to his Lordship's conduct as governor. His Lordship had acted as long as he could on the measures of conciliation, which he went out to Canada to forward and carry out, and it was only when those measures which were most congenial to him failed to effect tranquillity, that he was driven to those acts which had been stigmatised as tyrannical by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, and as weak and imbecile by Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. His Lordship on going out had been attacked by men of opposite parties; but, as had been said by the hon. Member for Bridport, whose speech had been governed by great calmness and moderation, he had attached himself to those men whose views were liberal and just, and who stood midway between the two extremes, and although he had the mis- 147 fortune to be unsuccessful in his government, yet looking to the correspondence now lying before the House, it would certainly be seen that it was his misfortune not his fault. He had concealed nothing from the Government who had sent him out. He had dismissed several magistrates (and by doing that he was vindicating the Queen's authority) on whom he might call for assistance in carrying out his measures, but who had presided at meetings that had been convened for the purpose of expressing opposition to the existing Government, on whom, therefore, he could not rely. The proclamation which had been issued by Lord Gosford had been spoken of slightingly; but he would ask, what better course than this could have been adopted to open the eyes of the people as to the misrepresentations by which they had been deceived? When revolt had actually arisen, would the House deprecate the Government for promising amnesty to a governor who had issued such a proclamation, in order to prevent the people from attending meetings that might eventually cause their destruction? This proclamation, too, had been greatly qualified by his Lordship's letter addressed to Sir John Colborne, in which he recommends him to restrict the severity of proclaiming martial law to the narrowest limits consistent with the public safety. Lord Gosford's conduct as governor had shown him to be a man of honour and of firmness, and he would again say, that if any specific charge could be brought against his Lordship, he (Sir George Grey) was fully prepared to meet it. When his Lordship resigned, the Government stated to him, that although the tranquillity of the colonies might require some new line of policy, and that the adjustment of their affairs ought to be intrusted to other authority, yet he retired with the fullest approbation of his Sovereign. There was one point referred to by the hon. Member for Bridport which he said in some degree implicated the Government in the mode of carrying on the war, but which did not in any way justify the observations which had been made regarding the British troops and their conduct. Looking at the dispatches which had reached the Government, and the accounts which they received of the demeanour of the troops, he did not see how the Government could abstain from stating the entire satisfaction with which they 148 viewed their steadiness, and the praiseworthy manner in which they had acted. But to show that the contest would not be carried on after resistance had ceased, he would appeal to the steps that had been taken. As for the destruction of the fortified houses, he would ask hon. Gentlemen, whether that was not the best course that could be taken for the sake of the peasantry themselves, who had been led into these acts of insurrection, and thus preventing them involving themselves in the same risk and danger in which they had so recently engaged? What was the language of the Government itself in the instructions that had been sent out to the Governor of the province of Lower Canada? "Her Majesty cannot contemplate the bloodshed and misery in which a portion of her subjects have involved themselves without the deepest feeling of regret for the necessity which has occasioned the active services of her troops in one of the provinces of the British empire. The Queen, however, entertaining the fullest confidence that, as far as depends on yourself"—and it should be recollected, that at this time Sir John Colborne had been appointed civil and military Governor of the province—"these evils will be restricted within the narrowest possible limits, and that on the part of her loyal and faithful subjects in the province no vindictive feeling will mingle itself with their zealous and strenuous endeavours, under your guidance, to put down insurrection and revolt, and to vindicate the authority of the law; but that their conduct will be equally marked with moderation as with firmness." Such was the spirit in which all the dispatches to the Governor of the province were drawn; and he was strongly urged to take any measure to prevent the sufferings of the people of the districts unhappily engaged in the revolt from extending beyond what was required by the exigencies of the case. He would not trouble the House further, but he felt called upon to make the few observations which he had addressed to it in consequence of what had fallen from the hon. Member for Kilkenny, and he regretted that the hon. Gentleman had not at once proposed the resolution to which he had alluded. He certainly entertained the sincere hope and expectation, that the Bill, the provisions of which had been explained by his noble Friend, and which was then to be laid on the table, would 149 furnish the means of putting an end to those evils and removing the difficulties which had retarded the welfare of the province of Lower Canada, and which ultimately led to the adoption of measures which would develope the resources of both provinces, bound together as they are by common ties and common interests. He trusted that the proceedings which would grow out of the measure before the House would prove beneficial to both the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, and that the inhabitants of these countries would find, that the British Government would be supported by the British Parliament in carrying out measures tending to the permanent interest and welfare of those colonies; that they would not sanction any measure that would hasten the separation of the colonies from the mother country, nor endeavour to retard that separation by measures of harshness and severity; but he sincerely trusted, that the course that would be pursued would be such, that the connexion would prove beneficial both to the mother country and the colony, and that by the promotion of the common interest of both, the union would be rendered permanent.
§ Mr. Baines
hoped, that his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny, under the circumstances of the case, would not divide the House, as it was impossible for hon. Gentlemen, without having seen the Bill, to form anything like a just estimate of its merits or defects. He therefore trusted, that, in a case in which there was so much difficulty, his hon. Friend would not call upon the House to divide.
§ Sir Robert Peel
observed, that as the hon. Member for Kilkenny intended to divide the House on the principle of the bill, he should at once state that he should vote for its introduction, but by voting for leave to bring in the bill he did not thereby mean to imply that he gave his unqualified approval to the measure, the details of which had that night been explained to them by the noble Lord. As the constitution of Lower Canada was at present practically suspended, it might be necessary to have some measure similar to a portion of the bill then proposed. Therefore, to so much of the bill as suspended the constitution of Lower Canada, and made provision 150 for the temporary administration of the government of that province, he should not object; but he confessed he did not understand the other provisions of the bill as they were explained by the noble Lord. He hoped that hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, whatever might be their opinions on the subject, would consider well the provisions of that part of the measure which called together the assembly which the noble Lord described as a convention of estates of Upper and Lower Canada for the purpose of providing for the future government of those provinces. He doubted the policy of the course involved in this proceeding, above all in the lower province, where men's minds were inflamed by what had so recently passed before them. He doubted the policy of discussing the provisions of a future constitution for the colony, when great excitement might naturally be expected to prevail. If they were anxious to bring about a union between the two provinces, he doubted whether it would be expedient or practicable to frame a satisfactory measure for the purpose at the present moment; he doubted whether the feelings of the different parties in both provinces were not in such a state of exasperation that it would be inexpedient, and almost impossible, at present to bring about such a result. The noble Lord, as a part of his plan for effecting this purpose, appeared to propose a convention of estates having legislative authority, and being elected in a certain manner, as he understood this body, it was to be composed of three members of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada, and three members of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada; these were to meet together, and they were to be aided by a certain number of persons having a representative character. They had a Representative Assembly in the Upper Province, and there might be no great difficulty in getting proper persons chosen there. He would not then say whether such a course was wise or expedient; but while they suspended the existing constitution of Lower Canada, how could they get representatives from the assembly of that province to attend the convention. Did the noble Lord mean to give to the governor of the province for the time being the power of nominating persons to attend in that capacity. Then how were they to be nominated when the constitution, was suspended? The noble Lord proposed to suspend the constitution, and therefore representation both legal and actual, would 151 be put an end to; how then could the representatives be convened at the moment to choose persons to attend the convention when they were about to suspend the constitution of Lower Canada? He confessed he did not understand from the noble Lord what course was to De pursued; but any measure giving a form of representation while the constitution was suspended and the province was under martial law must be of a very anomalous character. Many parts of the measure proposed by the Government would require much consideration on the part of the House, and he hoped that hon. Gentlemen of all parties would devote their serious attention to the subject. They should remember that this measure was nothing more nor less than an act of despotism, justifiable in his opinion, from the steps that had been taken by parties in Lower Canada, but still an act of despotism, and it was useless and unwise to conceal the character of the measure. What he objected to in it was, that at the present moment they pretended to conciliate, by saying that a certain form of representation should exist for the purpose of forming a body to frame the future constitution. He thought that it would be much better to confine themselves to the necessity of the case, and suspend the constitution for a time, and not at present take steps to frame a new constitution. The proper course would have been, that the Representatives of England should declare that they would make every inquiry, or direct inquiry to be made, so as to obtain adequate information for future legislation on the subject. He trusted that hon. Gentlemen would not be led to mistake the nature of the measure. The noble Lord, in introducing the Bill, said that there should be an Assembly chosen, which he would call the Convention of Estates, and that it should be composed of persons representing both provinces, and that this body should thus speak the sentiments and give expression to the feelings of the people of both colonies, and that they should assemble to draw up certain measures for the future government of those countries. The question was, when they were about to suspend the representative constitution of Canada, how these representatives to this assembly were to be chosen? Did the noble Lord mean that the governor of the province should name the districts and the class of persons who were to choose these representatives? Did the noble Lord mean to name the persons who were qualified to be chosen as 152 representatives, or those whom he could accept if they were elected? Or did the noble Lord mean that the governor of the province should at once name the persons who were to represent the province? If it was in any of these classes it was a mockery of representation. It would be infinitely better to guard against such a dangerous act as a precedent, clothed as it was in a character of liberality, which it did not possess. If the Bill contained provisions of this nature, he could not help feeling that they were called upon to come to a premature consideration of matters of this nature. He was most anxious to take steps to make provision for the future good government, and for granting a free and adequate constitution to Lower Canada, when the proper time came; but he believed that nothing could be more impolitic, or give rise to greater disasters, than the premature consideration of matters of this nature. He objected to this part of the measure on this ground, and also on the other ground; that the Bill proposed that which was a mockery of representation when the constitution was suspended and the representative bodies in the colony were no longer in existence. As the noble Lord intended to move that the House should adjourn from that night until Monday, he would take that opportunity of asking the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, whether it was his intention to make any communication to Parliament as to the negotiations respecting the line between the state of Maine and the province of New Brunswick? Very ample communications on the subject had been made by the Government of the United States to the American Congress, and he thought that similar information should be furnished to the House of Commons as to the state of this most important question.
§ Lord John Russell
felt it necessary to address the House after what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet. He was quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman had quite unintentionally misstated the intentions of the Government on this question, and had imputed to them a course of proceeding which they had no intention of following. The right hon. Gentleman said, in the first place, that when insurrection raged in certain parts of the province, and when men's minds were greatly excited by what had taken place in Canada, it would be inexpedient and unwise to call together what the right hon. Baronet called a convention of estates, and which he designated 153 as a mockery of representation in Lower Canada. He would state again what were the intentions of Government with respect to this question, and he thought that then they would be relieved from both the charges that had been brought against them. In the first place, then, what the Bill proposed to do was, to set aside and suspend for a time, the present constitution of Lower Canada, and to place the authority,—despotic authority, if the right hon. Baronet would have it so—in the hands of the Governor in council. But he also said at the same time, that they were determined to enforce the authority of the law, they did not design or intend to establish anything despotic in the government of the country; but they would take such steps that at the earliest possible time they could they would return to the constitutional government of Canada. For this purpose, he stated that it would be advantageous that the Governor to be sent out to Canada should have large powers intrusted to him, and that the future measures to be framed, should not only be the result of the experience of the Governor, but that they should also have the additional recommendation which would result from their being framed in conformity with the suggestions of persons in the Assembly which he had described, and by which those measures would have greater weight, both in this country and in North America. In considering the provisions of this Bill it appeared to be both wise and expedient that they should not interfere with the prerogative of the Crown, and whatever, therefore, was proposed to be done with respect to the constitution of the Assembly he had alluded to, would be contained in the instructions of her Majesty's Secretary of the Colonies to the Governor appointed, and not embraced in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman asked, whether the governor was to nominate the body which he called the convention of estates. He (Lord John Russell) would reply by no means, but the Governor would take steps to call together that body which he should call the committee of advice, on this subject. If the Governor should find, which he (Lord John Russell) did not believe would be the case, that great excitement still continued in the province, and that the calling together of the body he had alluded to, was calculated, instead of promoting peace, to aggravate the feelings of dissatisfaction, then it would be the duty of the Governor to withhold his sanction from its assembling; but much 154 on this point must be left to the discretionary power of the Governor. He did not, therefore, think that the plan was liable to the charge that had been brought against it, that in the midst of civil war and excitement they proposed to call together this body merely for the purpose of giving a liberal character to the measure. But if the Governor should think it fit to call together such a body, it was impossible to allow the House of Assembly of Lower Canada to depute members to such a body; but still he thought that adequate provision should be made and devised for choosing this body, and that elections could be taken, to which persons could be chosen to represent Lower Canada. Undoubtedly, however, this process ought not to be adopted until tranquillity was restored. But when the existing tumults and disturbances were put an end to, supposing that such a body was called together, containing persons, representing the interests and wishes of the inhabitants of Upper Canada, and the interests and wishes of the inhabitants of Lower Canada—such body called together by the Governor, and having had the whole subject laid before them by him, would be able amply to consider and deliberate on the matters submitted to their consideration, and the result of their deliberations would naturally have great weight both with Parliament and the country. He agreed to a considerable extent with an opinion expressed by the Committee of 1828, and which reported to the House after great deliberation, and having with great patience investigated the subject. They; stated that the British Parliament should not be called upon to interfere in the affairs of Canada, unless in time of great need, and where its authority was necessary; but that in general the constitutional assemblies of the provinces should be left to the management of their own internal affairs. If the Government of the country were not prepared to propose a plan at once, they at least recommended a course which they had good reason to believe would meet with the approbation of a large portion of the inhabitants of the provinces, and would lay the foundation for future concord in Canada. As the right hon. Gentleman said, that he should oppose this part of the Bill, he would at once state, that in framing it, his learned Friend, the Attorney General, had been consulted, and he had given it as his opinion, that it was unnecessary to frame enactments for empowering the Crown to do that which was at 155 present in the power of the Crown. It had, therefore, merely been mentioned in the preamble of the Bill that such instructions had been furnished to the governor. It was, therefore, already within the power of the governor about to be sent out to Canada to summon this committee of advice. The right hon. Gentleman said, that he should put it to the House whether such authority should be granted to this body. It was certainly competent for the right hon. Baronet to do so, and when he brought the matter forward, he should be prepared to meet the right hon. Baronet. He felt bound to state to Parliament so much respecting this body as an explanation of a part of the policy the Government meant to pursue with regard to Canada. He felt bound to explain that it was a part of the instructions given to the Earl of Durham to summon such a council, and this was done without any such wish for a show of liberality, as had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman, but from a belief and conviction that by it means might be devised for the future good government of these provinces. The responsibility for adopting such a course rested with the Government, and they were fully prepared to bear it for having given such advice to the Crown. It was, however, for the right hon. Gentleman, if he thought fit, to show that the royal authority had not been wisely or properly exercised on this matter. With respect to the conduct of Lord Gosford in Canada, he did not feel called upon to make any observations after what had fallen from his hon. Friend, the Under Secretary for the Colonies; and on this subject he fully agreed with his hon. Friend that Lord Gosford had acted fully in accordance with the instructions which he had received, and the character which he had to maintain; and that no man had ever manifested a greater desire to conciliate, and, at the same time, greater firmness in not yielding to cases in which he believed that the honour or interests of this country were involved. It was unnecessary for him to say more on this point after the able observations of his hon. Friend. This was a matter of the gravest importance, and he was most willing to admit that the closest attention of the House should be directed to a question so deeply affecting the future interests of our North American provinces, and the character of this country in North America, with the view of removing every ground for future dissension, and permanently providing for 156 the harmony and happiness of the colonists.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, he had one word to say in explanation of his former observations. He could not imagine that there were ten men in the House who had not inferred from the first speech of the noble Lord, that the proposed Bill contained provisions authorising and empowering the governor to call together a committee from both Canadas, such committee having a representative character. This, undoubtedly, must have been the construction put on that speech by others than himself; for the hon. Member for St. Albans had declared, that he had become reconciled to the Bill precisely on account of the general advance it made in legislation, by enabling the governor to call together a Canadian convention; and this compliment of the hon. Member to the liberality of the Government no Member of the Government had once attempted to repudiate. Now the noble Lord said, that all that was intended was to give instructions to the governor, by the exercise of the royal prerogative, to call a certain number of gentlemen together to advise with him. If this were all that was intended, no impediment could be offered to it. But what he (Sir R. Peel) objected to was, the giving the sanction of Parliament to any measure giving an authoritative and formal character to such a Committee. The noble Lord said, that the prerogative of the Crown might be extended to sending for these gentlemen as representatives of the districts of Lower Canada. He (Sir R. Peel) doubted whether there was such a power; but, at all events, if it was contemplated to give the governor the power, in the present state of Lower Canada, to name certain gentlemen to such a committee as representatives of the feelings and opinions of the Lower Canadians, he should object to such a proposition.
§ Lord J. Russell
said, he had stated just now, though the statement had not been noticed by the right hon. Baronet, that it would be inserted in the preamble that such instructions be given to the governor. He did not think it necessary that there should be any clause in the Bill empowering the governor to call a committee of advice together, such a proceeding being perfectly within the prerogative of the Crown, or to give power to the governor to make a new division of districts. He might not have made himself quite intelligible to the right hon. Gentleman; but this he 157 could say, that two hours before he had seen a draught of the bill in which it was proposed that in the preamble this power should be recited.
§ Viscount Palmerston
stated, that the documents and correspondence relating to the Maine boundary, from the date of those last laid before the House up to the present time, would shortly be laid on the Table of the House.
§ The House divided Ayes 198; Noes 7; Majority 191.
§ Bill brought in and read a first time.
§ On a motion being made for some returns,
§ Mr. Hawes
wished to put a question of considerable importance to the noble Lord (Lord John Russell). He wished to know, having supported the address in order to strengthen the hands of Government with a view to put down revolt, and being also prepared to give his consent to the introduction of this Bill, whether the noble Lord had taken measures to prevent sanguinary punishments from taking place previous to the arrival of Lord Durham in Canada?
§ Lord John Russell
said, it appeared to him that the hon. Member meant to imply that there was an expectation, either on the part of the Government or the House, that sanguinary executions would take place under the direction of Sir John Col-borne. He must say, in order to prevent misconception, that he had no expectation that Sir John Colborne would order sanguinary executions, or would do anything beyond what he would consider a painful duty on this subject. It was therefore certainly not necessary that the Government should take steps to desire Sir John Colborne to refrain from a course which he considered it unlikely he should pursue—namely, a course marked by a character of cruelty, or one of a sanguinary nature. At the same time Government had not thought right to withhold from Sir John Colborne their general opinion as to the inexpediency of capital executions on an occasion of this nature. They had informed him of this in their dispatches, the contents of which he was not inclined to state in detail, but they had stated their 158 general opinion—an opinion in which he believed that almost every person in the country would concur, namely, that, upon an occasion like that which had arisen, executions not immediately prompted by absolute necessity would tend both to prolong the contest, and would leave afterwards in the minds of the people feelings of an unpleasant nature. In stating this opinion to Sir John Colborne, he must say that they did not in the least doubt that gallant Officer's disposition; and he must also say that they were not laying upon him any positive instructions which should fetter him in the execution of his duty; they were merely slating to him what was the general opinion of the Government on this subject, an opinion in which he had no doubt but that Sir John Colborne would fully concur.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, that according to the common practice of this country, state prisoners were always treated with great humanity. It would, however, be seen from papers that had been laid on the Table of the House, that owing to the neglected state of the prisons of Montreal a prisoner had lately perished. He hoped that the same indulgence and attention would be shown to the prisoners in Montreal that was shown to prisoners in this country.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
said, it was a question with many, and himself amongst them, whether capital punishments might not be altogether abolished. But with respect to the person who on a late occasion had been denounced as a traitor, amidst the cheers of nine-tenths of the House, he must say that he should consider it a false and spurious humanity to extenuate any sentence that might be passed upon him.
§ Mr. C. Buller
was sorry to hear such an observation from the hon. Baronet. Sufficient angry feeling had been excited against the individual, and it did not require any addition. He should think that the mercy of Government might be properly extended towards any individual, and he believed that in such a course the feelings of the people would be with them. 159 In the present instance Government might set a memorable and useful example by not shedding one drop of blood.
begged to remind the hon. Member for Bridport that persons taken in war were not state prisoners.
§ Lord John Russell
did not wish to claim credit for the Government for carrying clemency to the extent to which some hon. Members supposed it would go. He did not say that Government had interposed or would interpose with respect to any individual case, upon which judgment should be pronounced in the colony. He had merely stated a general opinion with regard to executions, but with regard to any case that might occur, the opinion must depend upon the fads connected with that individual, and upon the state of the province at the time.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, that if anything could tend to diminish the influence of the Crown in the exercise of mercy, it was the House of Commons thus discussing the extent to which that mercy should go, without any knowledge of the nature or character of the crimes committed. Did the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard mean to say that for no crime attending the insurrection in Canada should a single drop of blood be shed?
§ Returns ordered.