HC Deb 25 July 1862 vol 168 cc851-76

said, that with reference to Captain Grant's cooking apparatus, to which he had called attention on Tuesday last, he wished to observe that the Motion which he had then made with respect to it had been defeated only by a majority of one, while he would go so far as to say that, had not the Government had special reasons for keeping a large number of its supporters in the House, in order that no obstacle might be thrown in the way of the introduction of the Bill to make provision to meet the distress in Lancashire, he should have defeated them on the occasion in question. That being so, he wished to ask the Secretary for War, Whether he had any objection to the appointment of a Committee to investigate the claims advanced by Captain Grant? He was sorry that that officer had thought proper to address a letter to the right hon. Gentleman and to the newspapers on the subject since Tuesday, inasmuch as he thought it would have been much better to leave his case in the hands of the House of Commons? He asked the question which he had just put to the right hon. Baronet, simply in the discharge of what he conceived to be a public duty, and he trusted he would have no objection to the appointment of a Committee of practical men, by whom the advantages of Captain Grant's system might be thoroughly examined.


said, he agreed with the gallant General that the Government were completely committed to making Captain Grant a handsome reward for an invention which was made use of by 100,000 men, and which had received the approval of the highest military authorities. He could not conceive, in fact, how the Government could reconcile itself to the course it had adopted; and for his own part he thought that £5,000 or £10,000 would be only a reasonable and fair sum to award to the gallant officer for his invention.

But, turning from that subject to the more important question of the military policy it was expedient we should pursue towards our colonies, he might observe that he agreed with the hon. Member for Taunton in thinking that we had hitherto been nursing them in a manner not calculated to do them permanent service. If the colonies were led to rely on the conviction that the whole power of the mother country would be brought to bear for their defence whenever the slightest danger threatened them, it was quite obvious they were likely to remain, so far as making provision for their own protection was concerned, in a very unsatisfactory state. The hon. Member for Taunton maintained that it would betray great inconsistency on the part of the Government to withdraw from Canada the troops which we sent there last winter. He did not agree with that opinion. The act of the Government in sending reinforcements to Canada was a fair and just measure; because whatever was the danger with which they were threatened at that time, it arose from Imperial, and not from Colonial policy. But was there any such danger now? He did not think there was; nor was there likely to be for three or four years to come. There were many Members of that House who were better acquainted with America than he was, but he was strongly of opinion that the boasting articles in the American newspapers, intimating that the Federal Government had nothing to do but to reverse the heads of its columns from the South and march into and take possession of Canada spoke of that which was wholly impracticable. In truth it was impracticable then, and it was still more impracticable now. The American Government, powerful as it was, enthusiastically as it had followed up the war with the South, had no means at present of making war upon either Canada or England. Canada, with a population of 2,500,000—a population nearly as great as was that of the United States when they successfully resisted the power of the British Empire, if true to itself, might defy all the efforts of the American Government to subdue it. He saw no objection, therefore, to Her Majesty's Government recalling these troops; and they had even ample excuse for so doing in the course taken by the Canadian legislature with regard to the Militia Bill. But his hon. Friend had suggested that if the Canadian government were to dome forward with an adequate measure; they ought to continue to leave the troops there. He (Sir De L. Evans) was of opinion that any such understanding would be a very inconvenient course to enter upon, for the Imperial (Government was hardly competent to lay down rules for its policy applicable alike to all its colonies. He confessed that he thought there was no ground for leaving these troops in Canada, even though the Mayor of Montreal had said, and most truly, that they would be glad to have as many red-coats as they could get at the expense of England.


Sir, I am sorry to interpose between the House and the consideration of a cooking apparatus; but when the great interests of a great empire are concerned, I may be pardoned for offering my opinion upon a matter of which I think I have some knowledge. The first thing we have to consider is, what is the feeling of the people of Canada with respect to England. My opinion is, that the people of Canada have been led to believe that we consider them of such wonderful importance that we shall undertake any expense to maintain dominion over them. What I want them to understand, and what I want our Government to make them understand, is that we do not care one farthing about the adherence of Canada to England. We have never drawn from our colonies anything like tribute. Other nations do at this moment derive tribute from their colonies, but we have never done so. The only chance of benefit we ever expected from our colonies was perfect freedom of trade. What has Canada done in that matter? The Canadians have laid 20 per cent upon the introduction of all English manufactures into their country, thereby following the bad example of their friends on the other side of the St. Lawrence. I want them clearly to understand that England has no benefit from her connection with them; and that if we maintain, not our dominion, but their independence, it is for their advantage and not for ours. There is nobody in this country who is in a position to speak with more freedom than myself with respect to Canada. Many years of my life were spent in that country. I have intimate relations with it now; but though I do not love Canada less, I love England more, and my opinion is, that if to-morrow we were to get rid of Canada, England would not lose a single farthing of benefit. But the position of Canada would be very different. When the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans) says that the United States cannot overrun Canada, I must say that I think he has studied history to very little purpose if that be his real opinion. I quite agree with the noble Lord in another place, who said that if the Federal Government were victorious to-morrow, they would turn round upon England, and the first thing they would do would be to pour their armies over the St. Lawrence into Canada; while if they were to be defeated in their struggle with the South, out of mere vengeance they would do the same thing. What would be the consequence? Canada, ceasing to be what she is how—a powerful and independent people, governing themselves, doing exactly as they like with their own, would be under the dominion of an over bearing and over powering democracy. She would be one among what were once thirty-seven United States. Her people would have one or two votes in the American Senate; whereas now they govern themselves, for England has given up dominion over them, and all we do is to send our soldiers—those redcoats whom the Mayor of Montreal talks about—to protect their independence. I want the Canadians clearly to understand that England would not be sorry to see them depart from her to-morrow. They do us no good, or, at least, not more than New York; they do not even receive bur manufactures, and they treat us like aliens. We have been told that the House of Commons should not dictate to the Parliament of Canada. Do we ever dictate now? I have stood up in my place against the dictation of this House to the people of Canada, but that system has been abandoned long ago. We have, on the other hand, gone too far in the opposite direction. The very veto of the Crown is entirely ignored, and that which we ought to have done—namely, protect the manufacturing interests of England—we have ceased to do. I say, therefore, we are now bound to look after the interests of bur constituents, and I shall be the very last man to lay one far- thing of expense upon the poor people of Sheffield in order to maintain the independence of the rich people of Canada.


With regard to Captain Grant's invention, I will only say it would have been my wish to give a fair consideration to the subject. The demand which he makes is not merely one for the recognition of the utility and merit of his invention, but it is a demand for a large sum of public money, fixed by my hon. and gallant Friend below the gangway at from £5,000 to £10,000, and by himself at from £30,000 to £40,000. The information I have received leads me to doubt whether any such considerable economy as Captain Grant states, or anything approaching to it, has been produced by his improvement; but in consequence of the opinion expressed by a nearly equal division in this House a few days since, I shall be ready to cause the subject to be investigated, with the view of seeing whether he is entitled to any reward. With regard to the question put by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes), I can only say we are not in possession of any such information as he refers to, beyond that which has been inserted in the Gazette—the despatches from the naval and military commanders in chief. With regard to the question of the military force in Canada, I am desirous of recalling the attention of the House to the position of affairs before Christmas last, because it is impossible to arrive at any sound and practical conclusion on the subject unless we go back to that period. Canada was then in its ordinary military position. It has a force of volunteers and a militia; but it never was the custom of our North American colonies, or, indeed, any colonies of British descent, to keep a standing army in time of peace. The practice in Canada was similar to that followed by the United States in time of peace—to maintain only a small, and not very effective militia. The House well remembers the alarm of the disruption of friendly relations with the United States which occurred in the course of last winter. The cause of that alarm was a misunderstanding with a captain of the American navy boarding a ship bearing the English flag. This was an affront to the English flag; but it was a question of purely Imperial interest, in which Canada was not directly concerned, and in which she was only indirectly interested as part of the Bri- tish empire. If Canada had been invaded in a war arising from the United States in consequence of that quarrel, the feelings of the Canadians would naturally have been that they were involved in a quarrel in which they had no direct concern, and that it was incumbent on the Imperial Government, through connection with which they were engaged in hostilities, to give them effectual assistance. The Government anticipated that the effect of a war with the United States would be the invasion of the Canadian frontier, and therefore they sent out a reinforcement of troops. The policy of that measure was discussed when the Supplementary Estimate was produced at the commencement of the Session, and it received, I think, the general assent of the House; it is therefore unnecessary to argue in support of the reinforcement which was then sent out to Canada. It is true that the arrival of these troops was the cause of great satisfaction to the Canadian people. They were received with hospitality and kindness, and much loyal feeling was expressed at that time. But then, be it remembered, that an immediate invasion of Canada was generally apprehended, and the troops arrived before it was known that the dispute arising out of the affair of the Trent had received a pacific solution. Since that time the contest between the ancient United States and the Confederates in the South has proceeded; great confidence was expressed by the Washington Government that they would be able to suppress what they denominated the rebellion in the South in a short period. They have fixed various times, consisting of months, or even of weeks, when this rebellion would be suppressed; but these prophecies have not been fulfilled, and at this moment we know that the contest seems further from a termination in favour of the North than it was at the beginning of the year. Under these circumstances, the hopes that Her Majesty's Government confidently entertained in the winter that the Canadian Government and people would make energetic efforts for their own defence, calling out their militia, and passing an amended Militia Bill, have, perhaps, not altogether unnaturally, been in some degree disappointed; because there is no doubt that the alarm of an immediate invasion which the Canadians felt early in the year has by subsequent events been greatly diminished. It is true, as my hon. and gallant Friend (General Sir De Lacy Evans) stated, that at present they do not anticipate any immediate danger of invasion, nor do Her Majesty's Government think, looking to the state of the contest between the North and South—looking to the manner in which the affair of the Trent was treated by the Government of the United States—looking generally to the complexion of public affairs in that country, that there is any immediate probability, under any circumstances, of the rupture of pacific relations with the United States. The Government of the United States must be well aware that an invasion of Canada is not merely an invasion of Canada, it is a war with England; and, of course, if the United States were to seek a war with England, and originate a ground of dispute and invade British territory, they would look forward to interference with the Southern blockade, by the British fleet, the raising of the blockade, and the entire reverse of much of the state of things with the South which now exists. Giving them credit, therefore, for ordinary prudence under trying and difficult circumstances, nothing at present seems more unlikely than that the United States should voluntarily originate a war with so powerful a nation as England, and one possessing so effective and disposable a fleet. Under these circumstances, even although the Canadian Government, contrary to our expectations, contrary to our wishes, contrary to the policy which Lord Monck, the governor, has expressed, and which has been admitted by the people of Canada, have not made those efforts which they ought to have made for strengthening their militia, still, Her Majesty's Government do not think that any ground exists for regretting having sent out reinforcements to Canada. But then we are told that we ought to take efficient measures for reducing our troops in Canada, and compelling the Canadian Legislature to establish an effective and numerous militia. There are two ways in which that compulsion could be applied. We could propose a Bill to Parliament to legislate for Canada and to compel them to establish a sufficient militia. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) himself does not propose any measure of that sort. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Roebuck) very truly said that for many years we have given up legislating for the internal affairs of Canada, and I can hardly think, looking to the principles of colonial policy which have been sanctioned by this House, that any hon. Gentleman will propose, or approve a Bill if proposed for that purpose. Well, but if not legislating directly, seeking to accomplish the object indirectly would seem to me infinitely more objectionable than direct legislation. The right hon. Gentleman proposes a penal withdrawal of our troops from Canada—that is we are to say to Canada, "Because you have not established a sufficient militia for the protection of your frontier we will punish you by withdrawing our troops and leave your frontier wholly undefended." That is a policy which the right hon. Gentleman deliberately proposes as a dignified and reasonable course for England to adopt towards Canada. I confess I can hardly conceive anything more unworthy of the Legislature of this country, or of the Government of this country, than such a vindictive proceeding. If we are deliberately dissatisfied with the Legislature of Canada—if we think that sufficient time has been given to them to reflect on what appears to have been a hasty decision, influenced by party considerations, and dictated by the motive of turning out a Government; for no doubt the division on the Canada Militia question was produced by a temporary combination for the purpose of bringing about a change of Government. ["No, no!"] Well, I speak on very good information and authority when I affirm that the main motive for the division was the desire to turn out the Government for the time being, and to improve the opportunity of forming a combination with the Lower Canadian party. If this House thinks that sufficient time has been given to the Canadian Legislature to reflect on that decision, and that their policy had been deliberately adopted, and if we are determined to throw the entire defence on the colony, and that the mother country should not take any considerable share in it, our proper course would be either to give them a long notice that we intend to withdraw our troops, or pass an Imperial Act compelling them to create a sufficient militia of their own. I have already said that I think under existing circumstances in the United States, there is little probability of an immediate invasion of Canada, and I will only suggest to the House, that although it is an unquestionable and lamentable fact that great irritation exists on the part of the people of the Northern States against England—an irritation, which, I may say, was as undeserved by the course which the Government have pursued towards the United States, as it was wholly unexpected —yet that irritation has been mainly caused by the recognition of the Southern States as a belligerent power. There may have been minor causes of irritation, but undoubtedly the main cause of the irritation that has existed has been the recognition by this country of the Southern States as a belligerent power. I cannot but think, as this contest proceeds, that the people of the Northern States, notwithstanding the excitement and the disappointment which the course of events may produce, must see upon reflection that England had, in fact, no other alternative than that which she adopted. It was necessary for Her Majesty's Government to consider not only the feelings of the country, but also the international relations that are created by the existence of a great war. If the people of the Southern States had been regarded as rebels, their ships fitted out as privateers must have been treated as pirates by England; and it was only by recognising the South in its real character as a belligerent that insoluble difficulties connected with the law of nations have been avoided. And really, Sir, I can hardly understand why the Northern States should so much resent the recognition of the belligerency of the Southern States, when I remember, that according to their own repeated declarations, they have an army of between 600,000 and 700,000 men on foot, and that after the recent battle near Richmond the President has made an appeal for an addition of 300,000 men to that large force. The mere statement of these numbers is surely sufficient to prove that the Power against which all these mighty preparations are made at least deserves the name of a belligerent Power. It is impossible to conceive that they can be correctly designated as a mere casual agglomeration of rebels. The resistance to the authority of the United States has acquired a firmness, a compactness, and a consistency, which justly entitle the persons composing it to the name of a belligerent Power. I cannot, therefore, but think, that taking all these very obvious circumstances into consideration, the Northern States will see that the only important step with reference to this matter taken by England was not only justifiable, but inevitable. Before I sit down I will only make one, allusion to the remarks of my hon. and learned Friend. (Mr. Roe- buck) upon our future relations with Canada. I, for one, can only say that I look forward without apprehension—and, I may add, without regret—to the time when Canada might become on independent State; but I think it behoves England not to cast Canada loose, or send her adrift before she has acquired sufficient strength to assert her own independence. We should not, by any acts of momentary irritation or ill humour which might throw her into the arms of the United States, place her in a position in which she would become annexed to a Power involved in a serious contest, and which has lately added millions and millions to its national debt. I think this would be a moment most unfortunately chosen for any act of that kind. The feelings of the Canadian people as shown upon the arrival of our troops in the winter were, undoubtedly, those of attachment and loyalty to the mother country. I do not believe that the recent vote with regard to the Militia Bill was the result of any deliberate policy or deep-seated design. It was accidentally thrown out by the play of party politics; and I cannot but wish to impress upon the House that any measure, such as the right hon. Gentleman recommends, of a menace on the part of England, that under certain circumstances, if they do not take efficient steps for organizing a powerful militia, our troops will be withdrawn, would be unworthy of this country, and would seem to be the result rather of hasty displeasure than of that dignified and prudent forbearance which has always been the characteristic of the Imperial policy.


said, that being in constant communication with Canada, and having much correspondence with that colony, he was informed that a feeling had recently arisen in that province, and was increasing, that there was a wish on the part of a great portion of that House to force upon it a precipitated separation from the mother country. And he must say, if anything could strengthen that feeling, it would be the recurrence of speeches like that of the right hon. Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) and the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), telling the Canadian people that they had not the least desire that they should loyally adhere to their allegiance to the Sovereign and their attachment to this country; that they wished they would separate entirely from England, and that they would see that sepa- ration not only without regret, but with satisfaction. He would not enter into questions of colonial policy. He believed that colonies might be a source of wealth and power to the mother country; that the union between the two might be one of mutual benefit; that it might be maintained without an extravagant expenditure; but to say that such a connection was merely a question of £. s. d. was quite unworthy of them, when they had, to a certain extent, to protect their fellow-countrymen, and had, at least, to regard them as their fellow-subjects until they themselves desired to separate from the mother country. Certain speeches which had latterly been delivered in another place, together with the tone of the public press, were calculated to make the Canadians believe that in this country there was no kindred feeling towards them—a result which he thought was much to be deprecated. The measure which had been referred to was defeated from a party manœuvre, without pledging the province to any policy of hereafter refusing to establish a sufficient militia, and with the expression, at the same time, on the part of those who opposed it, that they were in favour of a militia that should co-operate with the English troops in defence of the common country. These persons, he believed, would at this moment rise as one man in support of their union with England, and they had shown that when questions, not merely of colonial, but of Imperial concern arose, and when they would have suffered all the injury of invasion, they did not shrink from expressing manfully their hopes for the success of England and her colonies. It was said, "Leave Canada entirely to herself;" but as long as they wished to remain British subjects that was not language which ought either in honour or duty to be held to the Canadian people. He was convinced that Canada felt so much the advantage of her connection with England, that without burdening our resources, she would adhere to us from sentiments of loyal allegiance. To say therefore that because a certain legislative move in the Canadian Chamber, the object of which was the removal of a Ministry, had been carried out, they were to force the colonists into a separation by threatening to withdraw their troops, would be not only dishonourable to this country, and contrary to precedent, but would be a course against which the people of this country would strongly protest. It had been said that it was quite right to turn out that Ministry, because it was a jobbing Ministry. He believed it was always thought right to turn out any Ministry, and there was hardly any Ministry that was not occasionally accused of jobs. He knew some of the Canadian Ministers who were alluded to, and believed they were incapable of such acts. But that was not a question which the House had to investigate. The Canadian Parliament had exercised its right in refusing to accede to a measure from hostility to those who proposed it; and there was nothing to show that they were opposed to an adequate militia. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last confirmed him in his hopes and belief that there would be no war between this country and the United States. There could be no war between those States and Canada. If they attacked Canada, it would only be in order, through her, to make war upon England. He thought no event could occur so detrimental to both countries or to civilization itself, as a war between England and the United States. Yet due provision ought to be made against every casualty and contingency. In the present unsettled state of affairs in the United States they ought not to withdraw their troops from Canada; and that colony would, no doubt, soon provide a sufficient militia. The hon. and gallant Member for Westminster said that there was no chance of war with the United States, and therefore they ought to withdraw their troops from Canada; but that statement went to justify the Canadians for declining to increase their militia. But, while he hoped there was no probability of war, there was always a chance of some collision between this country and the United States; and when that did occur, the Canadians would be the first to feel the shock of war. Still they would be always ready to do their duty in defending their country. He might also remark that it was the financial difficulties arising from the disturbances in the United States that had prevented Canada from removing those duties upon British manufactures which were justly complained of, but which were levied for purposes, of revenue, and not for protection. That was not the moment at which to coerce Canada. The right policy was to conciliate, as he believed that by conciliation they would be more likely to gain their object than by threats.


said, that having lately had on opportunity of conversing with a distinguished Canadian gentleman who had expressed great regret at the irritated feeling which appeared to exist in this country against the colony, he would call the attention of the House to the subject. The Militia Bill, which was thrown out by the Canadian Parliament, was discussed a considerable time—some six months, at all events—after the panic which took place on the Mason and Slidell affair, which led to the supposition that there might be an immediate war with America, had passed away. From the details of the Bill he understood that it was considered by those who opposed it, that Canada would not have derived a benefit commensurate with the expenditure. He had also been informed, that when the question was discussed in the Canadian Parliament, the Government which introduced it refused to give estimates of the cost which would be incurred by it. Further, he was told, that had the Bill passed, the expense to Canada, instead of being from £400,000 to £500,000 in the first instance, would in all probability have been £700,000, and that without including arms which it was expected England would have sent over to them. At that time there existed a strong opposition to the Government in power, and the Militia Bill most unfortunately was made the question on which the issue was taken of displacing the Government. Well, that was not an unusual course even in this country. It was not a hundred years ago that they had heard of an English Government turned out of power because it was said that they were not the proper Government to carry a Reform Bill, and that their foreign policy was contrary to the feelings of the country. It was well known, too, that the very Government which followed, and which was specially sent into power to carry a Reform Bill, dropped the Bill, let it go by, and with regard to foreign policy, stated that they should continue in the steps of their predecessors; and if such things could happen in a British, why not in a Canadian Parliament? Of late years we had acted liberally towards our colonies, and had given them self-government; and, in consequence, he believed that at no former period were the colonies more closely attached to the mother country. He was assured that those members who defeated the Government on the Militia Bill in the Canadian Parliament, did so on its own particular merits, and were quite prepared to support a militia better proportioned than the present to the population and means of the colony; and, indeed, the whole people of Canada had shown in the strongest manner their loyalty to the Crown of England. Immediately after the Trent affair became known, and before anything had been heard from England, 300 of the principal inhabitants of Canada formed themselves into a Committee to promote the formation of Volunteer corps for the defence of the country, and in Montreal 3,000 citizens enrolled themselves as Volunteers. If war had then occurred, it would have been a war for Imperial purposes, but Canada would have lent us its best assistance in that war. He considered that the colonies of England were her glory, and took great interest in Canada, and lamented the tone of some speeches that had been made in that House and in another place, and the tone of the press upon this subject; for he did not think that a threat to do something if Canada would not do something else was a good way of promoting good feeling, or of obtaining our object, but could not fail to irritate a most loyal and intelligent people.


said, it was impossible to deny that Canada had not done all that she should have done in the matter of defence. What had been done could only be regarded as an instalment, and he felt convinced that in the next Session of the Canadian Parliament something more would be done. But, at the same time, he must strongly deprecate the tone and manner of many speakers in that House and elsewhere, and of writers in the press, which could only irritate a country every man in which, he firmly believed, was loyal to the Queen of Great Britain. It might be that Canada should do more than she had done, but it was not right to address her in language of contumely and insult. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had said that England would not be one penny the worse if Canada were separated from the British Crown. That might be true, but it was not a matter to be regarded solely in an £ s. d. light; it must also be regarded from a statesmanlike point of view. England and her colonies formed a vast confederacy upon which, as Daniel Webster had poetically expressed it, "the sun never set," and which ought not to be broken up by ill-considered speeches. He had noticed that those Gentlemen who talked most glibly about giving up Canada because she had exercised her own rights ever her own expenditure were the very persons who, when the subject of defences for this country came under discussion, exercised to the full their right of criticising the expenses, and of endeavouring by all means in their power to keep down expenditure. Canada had exercised her right; her members lived under a constitutional Government, and were responsible to their constituents for the outlay they sanctioned. The Bill for raising 10,000 militia was only an ad interim measure, brought forward by a gentleman unconnected with the Government while the members of the Government were being re-elected, and it would probably undergo considerable changes in a future Session. The Canadian system of finance was not founded upon a satisfactory basis; and probably, if the Colonial Government could put their hands upon a balance, instead of having a deficit, they would be more liberal in providing for their own defence. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded in contemptuous terms to the loyalty of the Canadian people, but what happened in the war of 1812 furnished a convincing reply to any such remarks. At the beginning of the struggle we had only about 900 regular troops in the province. Sir Isaac Brock, then in command, issued a proclamation calling to arms the loyal subjects of the British Crown, and in a short time he had under his command an overwhelming force. In the campaigns of 1812 and the two following years about fifty fights took place, and at the end of that period not a single foot of British soil remained in the hands of the Americans. General Scott and many of the invaders were taken prisoners; the battle of Queen's Town Heights had been gained, along with many others; the Canadian militia, assisted by the small force of regulars, drove the enemy across the frontier, and retaliated upon American ground. Canada was saved mainly by the ancestors of those who were now taunted with want of loyalty; and the Duke of York issued an order in which he expressed his high sense of the conduct of the Canadian militia, which, he said, mainly contributed to the success of the British arms, and the future security of the British empire in North America. The present Canadians came of the same stock with the men who fought thus gallantly, and he was quite sure, that if they were threatened by invasion, they would rise as one man. The same spirit animated them, along with the same devotion to the British rule. At present the organization of the militia was very much what it was in 1812. The country was divided into districts; regiments were organized, a sufficient number out of each regiment were assembled, armed, and clothed to form flank companies; and now there were in Canada men who would form a nucleus round which a numerous force might rally. The total number of enrolled militia in Canada was 600,000; and, taking one man in ten, that would raise a very large force for the defence of the colony. The late Government proposed to raise 50,000 men. When the present Government came into office, they found a deficit of 5,000,000 dols. per annum. They were pledged to retrenchment, and, under such circumstances, would any Chancellor of the Exchequer have recommended an expensive scheme as to the practical working of which there were two opinions. For not only was there a difference of opinion as to whether so large a force was desirable, it was doubted also whether the scheme itself was a satisfactory one, and whether it would not interfere too much with the volunteer organization which had been set on foot during the Trent affair, and had made great progress all over Canada. That was one of the reasons which induced the Canadian Government to pass an ad interim measure, with a view of reconsidering the question on on a future occasion. He would remind hon. Gentlemen that, besides the 10,000 militia, 13,000 volunteers were already enrolled, and these, like our own Volunteers, had been hard at work and had drilled themselves into a state of considerable efficiency, so that Colonel Lysons, who was sent out officially from this country, reported that they were quite as intelligent and as far advanced in discipline as those in England. Thus there were available for the defence of Canada 23,000 men, among whom were fourteen troops of cavalry and twenty-nine field-guns, properly equipped and ready to take the field. He quite admitted that Canada must do more than she had hitherto done, but the efforts which she had already made had certainly been undervalued. A fortuitous combination had turned out the late Government, with no particular feeling of hostility to the Militia Bill, and certainly from no want of loyalty to the British Crown. A new Ministry had come in, committed to a policy of retrenchment, with a deficit of 5,000,000 dols. upon a revenue of 12,000,000 dols.; and, under these circumstances, it would have been the height of madness for them to have proposed, at the fag end of the Session, any very large and expensive measure. That must be done when the Government had had time to look about them, and restore the financial equilibrium of the colony, and then he was certain that the Canadians would come forward as loyally and as heartily as the right hon. Gentleman himself could desire, and put the country into a state of adequate defence.


Sir, I cannot contemplate with the same feeling of indifference as the Secretary of State a separation taking place between this country and Canada. I think a great empire, founded on sound principles of freedom and equality, is as conducive to the spirit and power of a community as commercial prosperity or military force; and therefore I should be very sorry under the present circumstances, after all that has occurred, to suppose that the connection between the mother country and this important colony should end. The resources of Canada are great and various. It has had the advantage of having been colonized during centuries by two of the most distinguished nations of Europe. Canada is, in fact, a reflex of those two powerful races, differing in their manners and even in their religious opinions; and therefore has many of those diverse elements which tend to change in due season a mere colonial into a national character. I do not think that the importance of Canada can be overstated, but, unfortunately, we feel every day more and more that the relations between the mother country and those colonies in which what we call self-government has been established are not altogether of a satisfactory nature. That self-government was for a long time so obstinately refused by the mother country, and in the end so precipitately conceded, that I will not Say the terms, but the principles on which the new relations between the mother country and the colonies hereafter should be regulated were never sufficiently examined and matured. There were two principles on which the new connection might have been established, and which could not have been contested at the time when that self-government was formed and sanctioned. One was that every colony should adopt reasonable mea- sures of self-defence; and the other, that there should be between the colony and the mother country free commercial intercourse. I do not believe that at the time either of those principles would have been controverted, or refused by any colonies belonging to the English Crown, and now enjoying the blessings of self-government. It is impossible to deny that the heedlessness with which this great boon was conceded by England has brought about a very unsatisfactory state of relations between this country and those colonies to which self-government was granted; and this is especially remarkable in the case of Canada, from its great and preponderating importance; but I do not very well perceive how we can suddenly and hastily adopt a remedy for these evils. They are, in a great degree, the creation of our rashness and carelessness, and we must trust in the case of Canada, as well as in the case of other colonies similarly situated, to the spirit and sense of the inhabitants, and in a great degree to the character, talents, and resources of the governors whom we send out. It is the greatest error in the world to suppose that because those communities are in the possession of the inestimable blessing of self-government their destiny will not be greatly and most advantageously influenced by men of eminence sent by the mother country to preside over and regulate their affairs; and at no time in the history of this empire ought the appointment of individuals to great Colonial posts to be watched with more jealousy and scrutinized with more vigilance by Parliament than at this period, when there has been conceded to these colonial communities the power of self-government. In respect to Canada, I trust to the influences I have adverted to—I trust to the sense and to the spirit of the inhabitants, and to the abilities of those men whom Her Majesty may be recommended to send out as governors. I protest against the discussion, on occasions like the present, of Canadian politics. When I understand that the Parliament of Canada has come to a certain resolution, I accept it as the resolution of the Parliament and people of Canada; and I protest against any one rising in this House and telling us that, from secret information, he is cognizant of the reason why a certain vote has been carried. I find it difficult, in respect to divisions in this House, to trace on all occasions the causes which influence them; and therefore I think that it would be more safe, and certainly more respectful to the Canadians, for us to assume that the vote of their Parliament is one which represents generally the opinion of the Parliament of Canada, and of the people by whom it is elected. The Secretary of State contemplates the possibility—and more than the possibility, for he informs us that under certain circumstances it would be matter of congratulation—of the severance of the tie between the mother country and Canada, and says that we ought to be very careful in training the Canadians before the connection terminates, so that they may be able to go by themselves, and not fall into the hands of any vigilant neighbour watching for an opportunity of appropriating and absorbing them. But what I think to be the fault of the Government in this particular case is that they have not been thoughtful on this subject of training the Canadians. On the contrary, it appears to me that they have not trusted sufficiently to the resources and energies of the Canadians, but have rather unnecessarily anticipated duties which the Canadians were probably ready to perform themselves. The Secretary of State, in placing the case before the House, has made a very great omission in his statement. He said that we must go back to last Christmas; that before last Christmas military interference on the part of the mother country was an unusual state of affairs; but that at the end of the year very important events occurred, and, said the Secretary of State, we were obliged to act, and we acted on what we considered a considerable scale;—we believe that we received the sanction of Parliament and the country, and it is a policy which we are prepared to uphold. I myself do not, and did not when Parliament met, question the propriety of the course which the Government took after the affair of the Trent. It appeared to me that throughout that business the Government of this country conducted themselves with reference to the Government of the United States in a wise, dignified, and manly way, and that the measures adopted were perfectly justified by the circumstances. But the Secretary of State made a great mistake when he told us that it was only from last Christmas the commencement of the present state of affairs was to be dated. He forgets that in June last year we suddenly sent a considerable force to Canada —some 3,000 men—and I took an opportunity of making some observations to the House on the subject, and to express my doubts as to the policy of that hurried interference in the affairs of Canada. No doubt the state of the other hemisphere was troubled at that time; but nothing like the affair of the Trent had happened in June. No doubt the Canadians, being very shrewd and spirited men, were sufficiently conscious of the condition of their nearest neighbour; and the turbulence and disquiet prevailing in the territories of that neighbour were sufficient to alarm them. At that time, I believe, they were ready to take, and would have taken, any steps calculated to guard and maintain their independence. But what did the Government do then? In June they suddenly sent a force of 3,000 men to Canada. That was a considerable act; and yet, though the force as a reinforcement for the garrisons was large, it was, as a military expedition, not of a commanding magnitude. It was not sufficient to defend the frontier of Canada, and it was not wanted to increase the garrisons, because they were at the complement fixed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies of the present Government. I do not like to quote any observations I have made in the House; but I wish, on the present occasion, to refer to some that fell from me in June last year. I then gave credit to the Canadians for being a numerous and a gallant people. I said, that looking to the state of America, I could not doubt that they would take such steps as the emergency required. I proceeded to make these observations— On the other hand, I should say, that taking this early opportunity of letting the people of Canada know that we are prepared to assume the monopoly of defending them is rather calculated to damp their ardour and make them feel that it is not their business to protect their hearths and homes and national honour, and that they may pursue their profitable callings without coming forward in an exigency of this character." [3 Hansard, clxiii., 1525.] I now ask, whether that has not been the effect produced; and whether the sending out of these 3,000 troops did not at once damp the ardour of the Canadians and stop any attempt on their part to take measures to protect themselves? It may easily be conceived, when the affair of the Trent occurred, and when a considerable force was sent from England to Canada, that under these circumstances the colonists were glad to throw themselves under the ægis of the mother country; but, if at the previous period, when the circumstances of America, though troubled and menacing, had yet nothing in them of a character threatening to aim at the independence of Canada, the Government, through the Queen's representative there had called the attention of the Canadian Parliament to the state of affairs in connection with the question of defence, there would have been found no difficulty on the subject. When the affair of the Trent occurred six months afterwards, and when a force was very properly sent out from this country, it would then have been seen that the Canadians had laid some foundation of valid defence in preparing an efficient force of militia, which might have been further developed under the encouragement of the arrival of troops from England, and we should have found the general means of the defence of Canada to be adequate. That was a part of the policy of the Government of which at the time I questioned the propriety, and which experience has convinced me was an error. The sending 3,000 men to Canada, as was done in June of last year, was, I think, to some extent an intimation to the colonists that we were prepared to undertake a monopoly of their defence. It damped their ardour, and has tended, in my opinion, greatly to the unfortunate state of things which now prevails in that quarter. The Secretary of State, I therefore contend, committed a great error, and was guilty of a great omission, in not referring to the transmission of those 3,000 men to Canada in the June of last year, and in taking Christmas as the date at which the extraordinary position of affairs in the colony with respect to reinforcements commenced. I do not, as my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Adderley) knows, by any means agree with him in all the conclusions upon colonial questions at which he has arrived. He has, however, I think, done good service in bringing forward this subject to-night in a speech which I may be permitted to say was one of very considerable ability. It is a subject which excites the public mind of the country, which it is but right should be enlightened upon it as much as possible. For my own part I am anxious to maintain our colonial empire; but that I feel can be done only on principles of freedom and equality. If in olden days that empire was endangered because of a sense of oppression on the part of the colo- nists, it will in our day also be endangered if, on the part of the mother country, a sense of unfairness with regard to her connection with her dependencies should prevail. We ought not, however, to use the word "dependencies" any longer. We should look upon those communities as a portion of a great empire in whose prosperity and honour we are all alike interested. In that view of the case I look upon the colonial empire of England as being eminently conducive to her strength. The amount of the advantage which she derives from it cannot be measured by pounds, shillings, and pence, by commercial profits, or even by the military force with which at a moment of emergency our colonial connection might furnish us. I feel persuaded that the very fact that we belong to a great empire founded on those principles of freedom and equality which are necessary for the prosperity of such an empire, is in itself a source of strength to England, from the elevation which it gives to the character of our fellow-subjects; while it influences the councils of Europe and the course of human events. Nor do I despair that the unsatisfactory state of things prevailing in Canada at the present moment, so far as the relations between her and the mother country are concerned, will be modified and improved before long. When we are told, as we have been told to-night, that the Canadian Parliament does not represent the opinions of the colonists, there is, I cannot help feeling, a remedy for a circumstance so disagreeable, and means by which the views of the country may be duly ascertained. I will not, however, advert to that point more particularly, because I should in doing so be guilty of the error which I have deemed it my duty to criticise—that of mixing ourselves up with questions of merely local policy. I would simply repeat that I think the present disagreeable state of affairs in Canada has been mainly occasioned by the sending out there of 3,000 troops in the month of June in last year— a measure which at the time I deprecated; while I would express a hope that affairs in the colony may soon wear a more satisfactory aspect.


Sir, I certainly agree rather with the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken than with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire in the view which he takes with respect to the connection subsist- ing between the mother country and her Colonial dependencies. With the former, I quite concur in thinking that we should look upon our colonies as part and parcel of the British empire. Our fellow-subjects when they remove from this country do no not cease to be our fellow-subjects; their spirit is the same as ours; their interests should be our interests; we should be each to one another a source of mutual honour and mutual strength. I also quite concur with the right hon. Gentleman in wishing that the day may be far distant, when, from various causes, those great communities may deem it to be their interest to separate from us, because I do not think such a course would conduce to their benefit, while I feel assured it would not tend to the advantage of the mother country. The connection between us, however, as was justly stated by the right hon. Gentleman, can be maintained only by the adoption of a policy which will leave the colonies free to regulate their own affairs, binding them to the mother country by links of mutual interest, and allowing the exercise of perfect freedom in matters in which the one or the other happens to be more particularly concerned. I regret very much that, owing to circumstances which it appears will happen in countries possessing free institutions, local questions have resulted in the refusal on the part of the Canadian Legislature to make adequate provision for the defence of the colony. Generally speaking, it may be said that we are proud of the conduct and bearing of our Canadian fellow-subjects; but on the present occasion I certainly feel no such sentiment. It is, I think, but little to their credit that they should allow party considerations to exercise such an influence over them as to cause them to refuse to make manly provision for their defence in case of need. I cannot at the same time concur with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) in ascribing that result to the measure which we took in the summer of last year, in sending out 3,000 men to Canada; nor can I agree with him in regarding that step as an indication on our part that the mother country meant to undertake a monopoly of the defence of the colony. Why, Sir, that defence must surely be a very easy and trifling matter if 3,000 men could be considered as sufficient to give us a monopoly of it, in opposition to all the dangers to which Canada may be exposed. I think we judged rightly in sending out the force in question. The garrisons in our North American provinces were at the time greatly reduced in consequence of the demands arising out of the Crimean war. They were much lower than they had been before that war; and looking to the position of the United States, and to the civil war which had broken out in that quarter, we in my opinion, took a wise and proper precaution in sending some amount of reinforcement to those garrisons, even although there might be no apprehension of immediate danger so far as Canada was concerned. So far, however, from the force which we did send out being calculated to damp the exertions of the colonists, and to induce them to abstain from taking the necessary measures for their defence, it appears to me to have been precisely of a character to stimulate and excite them to the adoption of such a course. If, indeed, we had sent out 30,000 men—or a force so large as to be adequate to their defence in case of need—I could understand the argument which the right hon. Gentleman has advanced. The colonists might under those circumstances have said—"We are now amply provided for; it is unnecessary to do anything for ourselves; the mother country has sent an enormous force to protect us, and evidently means to put forth all her energies for our protection; and if that force be not sufficient for the purpose, we feel assured she will take to herself a monopoly of our defence and send additional troops to our aid." The colonists might, in the event which I suppose, have adopted that tone; but surely it cannot be said that they would be likely to look upon 3,000 men as a force sufficient to render any exertion on their part unnecessary. The opposite conclusion, indeed, seems to me to be one at which it would be more natural to arrive. It must be evident to every man who considers the subject that in time of real danger and military conflict a force like the militia and volunteers require the support of regular troops as a foundation to enable them to act with confidence and success. Now, the 3,000 troops which we sent to Canada in the June of last year were exactly the number calculated to constitute a foundation on which Canada might organize a militia or volunteer force, which would acquire habits of discipline and a feeling of emulation owing to the example set it by the regular troops, and which would more readily become effi- cient in the performance of its duties than if left solely to the direction of its own officers. When, however, danger appeared imminent, in consequence of the affair of the Trent, we sent a larger force to Canada, and the course we took in that respect was entirely approved by the right hon. Gentleman, the House, and the country at large. I was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman to-night a repetition of that approval, while I differ from him altogether in thinking that we acted injudiciously in sending out the 3,000 men to whom he adverted, as well as in the opinion that that step had anything whatever to do with the recent refusal on the part of the Canadian Legislature to provide an adequate militia for the defence of the colony. It might, it appears to me, with a much greater semblance of probability, be said that the large force which we sent out in December last had that effect. It might be argued with a much greater appearance of truth, that having reinforced the comparatively weak garrisons of the autumn by a large force in the winter, the Canadians were induced to suppose that we intended in the course of this summer to add a considerable number to the troops already there, and that therefore it was unnecessary for them to take any measures for their own defence. If that has been their delusion, I am glad this discussion has been raised, because it has enabled my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War to make a statement which must satisfy the Canadians, that unless they choose to make those exertions which it is becoming in them to make for their own defence, which it is their duty to themselves to make, which any people worthy of the name of men would make—unless they mean to fall into a state of apathy, and betray a want of spirit which would be disgraceful to the race to which they belong—we have done as much for them as we intend to do, and that it rests with them to do the remainder. That they are able, if they choose, to do what is needful nobody can doubt, because they have men in number and spirit sufficient to resist any attack which may be made upon them. I think, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government have not incurred any just blame for what they have done. I think we have done neither too much nor too little. We do not intend either to recall the troops now in Canada or to send any additional men there, for we cannot but believe that when that factious conflict which has taken place in Canada is over, and has resulted in the establishment of some Government likely to be permanent, the spirit of the people will urge their representatives to make more ample, more satisfactory, and more worthy provision than at present exists for the defence of their country in case of danger.