§ Lord Glenelg
said: My Lords, I rise, with pain, to address you on the important subject of the present bill; for I can assure you, that to have to propose, that the constitution granted to one of our colonies be, even for a time, withdrawn is no very agreeable duty. If I were to address your Lordships at length, and at all proportionate to the vast importance of the present subject, I fear I should, this evening, have to trespass upon your attention for a very considerable time. I am, however, relieved in a great measure from such a task, because the subject is not at all new to your Lordships, having already, on frequent occasions, been brought before you. My Lords, the bill, the second reading of which I now move, comes up to us, with the sanction of a very large majority from the other House of Parliament, and I trust it will also meet your Lordships' approbation. The character of this bill is one which, I admit, can only be justified by the necessity which the case creates for it, and, unfortunately, the necessity of the case, in the present instance, is so notorious as to present itself to the observation of the most casual spectator of passing events. The simple facts of the case, I apprehend, are amply sufficient to justify the measure. From the papers on your Lordships' table, and the acts which are known to the world to have occurred in the province of Lower Canada, it appears evident that the constitution bestowed upon the Canadas some forty or fifty years ago has, in truth, ceased to operate. That constitution during the first twenty years was in a state of abeyance, but during the last twenty-five years it has been in a state of constant struggle and progress; but it has been admitted that parts of it had not, to use a common phrase, worked well together, and had not properly performed their functions; and, notwithstanding the constant endeavours made to enlarge its operations, it had become at length almost paralysed. The 645 result is, I apprehend, not to be questioned by any one, namely, that the constitution of Lower Canada is, at the present moment, actually suspended. I do not wish to inquire to whom this state of things is to be ascribed, whether to the House of Assembly or the Legislative Council, or to both. I merely state the fact as a simple and sufficient ground for the measure which her Majesty's Ministers are now compelled to propose for the temporary government of the affairs of that colony. Now, this being the actual state of things, the constitution of Lower Canada having ceased to be in operation, we must at once revert to that power from which that constitution originally emanated—that is to say, Parliament must interpose to protect the society of the colony, and to hold together those very principles by which alone the safety and interests of society can be maintained. I know it has been said, that instead of calling on Parliament in the present emergency, it would be practicable and even advisable to summon the existing Assembly, and make another experiment to ascertain whether the functions of Government can be discharged in the colony. I must say, however, putting out of view the peculiar circumstances connected with the various Members of that Assembly, that such a step would only prepare the way to another disappointment, and to a fresh suspension of all constitutional functions. There is, indeed, another proposition upon which the Assembly might again be convened, and that with some prospect of its performing its functions; and that is, that Parliament should at once concede all those demands which the Assembly has preferred as the only condition upon which it will resume its functions. But what are these demands? They are various, but the principal and cardinal one of them all is, that the elective principle should be extended to the Legislative Council. I will not stop to inquire whether such a proposition as this is right in itself, or whether, under the peculiar circumstances, it would be applicable to the Legislative Council of Canada. I will merely remind your Lordships, that not many months ago both the Houses of Parliament pronounced a negative upon that proposition, and, having pronounced that negative, I do not think it would be politic to retract it. That negative was pronounced, after a complete review of all 646 the circumstances connected with the affairs of Canada, and nothing has since occurred to induce us to alter our view. Having refused these demands when they were made to us in a menacing tone certainly, but still not enforced by show of arms, in 1836, I think we can hardly concede them when they are demanded of us with an appearance of armed hostility. I think it unquestionable, that Parliament is called upon to interpose its authority on the present occasion, and the only question now appears to me to be, with what intention it should so interfere. One great object, in the first instance, should be to allay those animosities which at present exist in the colony, whilst the ultimate object should always be held in view of restoring to these provinces the advantages of the principle of the constitution of 1791, adapting it of course to the change of circumstances which has taken place, and consistently with a preservation of the interests and well-being of all classes of her Majesty's subjects. It is admitted, on all hands, that there are defects in the constitution of 1791, and what those defects are it becomes the duty of Parliament to ascertain from those who are best able to give an opinion on the subject, and to remedy them as in its wisdom it may think proper. The constitution relates to two provinces, namely the upper and the lower province; and when Parliament comes, I hope at no remote period, to reconstruct that constitution, it will be its duty to ascertain the wishes of both those general communities on the subject of any proposed arrangements. Parliament should not act upon the views or wishes of persons from one province alone, but of such persons from both those provinces as might be considered best informed and to have much at heart the wishes and interests of the two provinces. Of this branch of the subject I am not prepared at the present moment to treat, nor do I think, that in the present time of excitement and of extreme agitation which exists in this colony, any constitution, however wisely made, however wisely adapted to the general feelings of the people on ordinary occasions, would be called into operation with advantage to the people. There is already much to be done in allaying feelings of hostility and irritation, which must I apprehend necessarily be allayed before we can hope to bring any system of constitutional Govern- 647 ment into successful operation. It is obvious, therefore, that there must be an interval before we again introduce the constitution, improved and re-adapted as I propose that it should be. During this unavoidable interval it becomes equally necessary, that the Government of the colony should be carried on, and that as appears by the title of the bill, is the object of the present measure. This bill proposes to vest the Government of Canada in a governor-general and council, armed with legislative power, and limited in their authority to a fixed period of time, it being provided also that the laws enacted by their authority shall not endure beyond a given time. Having explained the character of the measure, I at once admit, that it is one which can only be justified by the exigency of the times and circumstances. But I think it appears obvious that as the old constitution no longer exists, and no new one can at present be called into operation, some provision must be made in the meantime for the government of the colony. The scheme of Government which this measure proposes is no doubt a great departure from the constitutional principles of Government; but being compelled to relinquish that principle by the exigencies of the times, there is no alternative left us but to resort to a Government of power and authority, in order to ensure a better state of things. But if we are compelled to depart from the constitutional principle in the present instance, the Canadians have at least this advantage, that the period of such departure from their accustomed privileges is fixed and determined by the bill itself; that the measure carries with it its own period of existence, and so cannot by any means be made whatever may be done under its provisions, the basis of any system hereafter to be pursued not founded upon liberal principles. As I have already said, the bill proposes a temporary system of government, during the operation of which it will be the duty of Parliament to consult upon the interests of the Canadas, so as to arrive at a better permanent system of Government than that which at present exists; and therefore this proposition is accompanied by a declaration that Parliament does not intend it as a permanent system of Government. The language of Parliament on the present occasion is, not that it was entering upon this course in the character of vindictive judges, 648 that the Canadians had behaved ill, and therefore that they should be deprived of their constitution for ever; on the contrary, Parliament, in passing this measure, distinctly proclaims "We do not ask whether there be delinquencies or not, but we look to the existing state of society in the colony, and to the constitution under which it is or has until recently been governed; and, admitting that this constitution has failed in many particulars to work the purpose intended by it, we come forward as arbiter between contending and hostile parties; and although we appear in the character of arbiters, and although we fix for a time an arbitrary authority in the colony, our anxious object is to return as soon as possible to a wise and liberal system of Government, believing that it will not be long before we shall be able to do so under bright auspices." Much undoubtedly will depend upon the character and judgment of the noble person who will be sent out in the important station of governor-general; and I think that every reliance is to be placed upon the noble Earl who has been appointed to the office, and I have no doubt but with that assiduity, impartiality, and liberality which distinguish that noble individual, he will be enabled to digest such measures as may eventually accomplish the object which we all have in view. Such is my opinion; and such is the simple and plain statement of the case which I have to make. I think it is not necessary for me to trouble your Lordships further than to express a hope that, whatever may be your Lordships' opinion upon other matters connected with the subject, you will at least think that the necessity of the case justifies the measure which I propose. The noble Lord then moved that the bill be read a second time.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
expressed his concurrence in the measure, which he hoped would receive the general, if not the unanimous, assent of their Lordships. He trusted when the necessity which called for this measure had passed by, that a Government founded on such a basis as would secure the rights and liberties, and protect the interests of all classes, would be established in Canada. Grieved as they must all be that such a measure was necessary, he did not think that they would differ materially in taking this step. They must, however, necessarily be expected to come to this discussion enter- 649 taining various opinions on different parts of this subject, with respect to past transactions, and especially with reference to the conduct pursued by her Majesty's Ministers in dealing with Canada. He was glad to be able to approach this subject with calmness, and he rejoiced that the state of the country was such that their Lordships might hope to place themselves in a position, which would enable them to look at it dispassionately, and without any feelings of prejudice. He would say, then, that there never was, in the history of the world, a revolt less provoked, or which presented less defensible grounds for rising, than the revolt in Canada exhibited. At the same time he must declare his opinion, that this was a case of so peculiar a nature as would justify the largest extension of mercy, consistent with civil tranquillity and safety. The inhabitants of those provinces, he fully believed, were naturally the best disposed, and would be amongst the most thriving, happy, and industrious people on the face of the earth, if unfortunately, they were not exceedingly ignorant, and therefore easily to be led astray by wicked and designing men. A certain degree of information was necessary for the proper exercise of political rights and privileges, and the noble and learned Lord opposite, in introducing his bill on education, expressed himself friendly to the principle of extending instruction to the colonies. Now he would ask how the Canadian provinces stood in that respect? Why, it was well known that nine-tenths of the population could neither read nor write. This ignorance was not confined to the elective body. He believed the fact to be, that representatives, members of the House of Assembly itself, might be found in the same situation. Now, with a population of this kind, what might be done by wicked, artful, and designing men could easily be imagined. He should, however, be very unwilling to support a measure of this description without the most full and adequate cause being laid before Parliament. He thought that no slight or trifling disturbance would afford sufficient reason for adopting it. He could easily imagine an outbreak of a similar kind which would not by any means justify a call for such a measure. But the noble Lord had told them that the constitution of Canada was already suspended. That effect was produced by the 650 proceedings of the malcontents there—a circumstance which ought to be especially observed. The House of Assembly would grant no supplies—they pushed to the utmost extent the authority with which they were intrusted for the good of the colony. Now, admitting that such an exercise of power was strictly in conformity with the spirit of the constitution, still, it was evident that the adoption of such a course must, in the end, lead to the climax of anarchy. The House of Assembly refused the demands of her Majesty's Government. They would not provide for the judges and other public functionaries. They declared that they would not meet to transact the business of the colony, until all their demands were satisfied; the chief and principal of these demands being to remodel the constitution—that constitution under which they derived their own political existence. He had no wish to drag their Lordships through the mazes of this Canada question, but there were one or two facts connected with it which fully justified the vote they were then called upon to give. He was by no means disposed to deny that there was a time in which the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada might with fairness and justice have complained of grievances, and have reasonably called on Parliament for redress. That time existed previous to the year 1828, but in that year the attention of Parliament had been most fully and minutely called to the state of the Canadas, and the complaints of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada. A committee had been appointed in that year at the recommendation of the then Colonial Secretary, and perhaps a committee comprising men of greater ability or more competent to the task they undertook, had seldom been appointed. After having paid the greatest possible attention to the whole subject, it made its report, and that report was received by Parliament with the utmost satisfaction, and with a disposition to carry its recommendations into effect. How had that report been received by the House of Assembly of Lower Canada? In their address to Sir James Kempt they say:—The charges and well-founded complaints of the Canadians before that august senate were referred to a committee of the House of Commons, indicated by the Colonial Minister; that committee exhibited a striking combination of talent and patriotism, uniting a general 651 knowledge of public and constitutional law to a particular acquaintance with the state of both the Canadas; formally applauded all the reforms which the Canadian people and their representatives demanded, and still fervently demand. After a solemn investigation—after deep and prolonged deliberation, the committee made a report—an imperishable monument of their justice and profound wisdom—an authentic testimonial of the reality of our grievances, and of the justice of our complaints, faithfully interpreting our wishes and our wants. Through this report, so honourable to its authors, his Majesty's Government has become better than ever acquainted with the true situation of this province, and can better than ever remedy existing grievances, and obviate difficulties for the future.Now, every recommendation contained in that report had been completely fulfilled; and, therefore, so far as the matter of that report was concerned, the answer to the complaints of the Assembly was complete and satisfactory. He knew that it had been endeavoured to be shown, that in one respect the recommendations of the committee had not been fully carried out; but he denied that such was the case, and he was prepared to prove that, with the exception of the Legislative Council (so we understood), all the complaints of the Canadians had been satisfactorily adjusted. The Government had even gone further than the report of the Committee required, particularly in reference to the Tenures Act and the territorial revenues. Without, however, going through the details of the various disputes between the mother colony and the House of Assembly, he would merely state, that the House of Assembly had refused the supplies year after year, or voted them in such a way that they could not be passed—and had been continually pressing new grievances upon the attention of Parliament, till, in October, 1836, they arrived at the resolution to which he had already referred, that they would no longer meet and transact the business of the state until the demands, and particularly till that one for extending the principle of popular election to the Legislative Council, had been conceded. Now, upon a revision of the case, this question very naturally suggested itself, namely, how it happened that every disposition on the part of the Government of this country to meet the complaints of the Canadian people, should have caused a proportionate increase of those complaints? In proportion as that friendly disposition was exhibited and acted upon, the 652 estrangement of the Canadian Assembly became more and more decided, and their demands increased in proportion to the spirit of conciliation which was shown them. Had they of late become sensible of the doctrine of instalments? Was it possible, also, that they had discovered that her Majesty's Government was made of compressible materials, and that with a little more exertion and show of energy they might obtain the utmost fulfilment of their most extravagant wishes. Being himself well aware of the difficulties with which her Majesty's Ministers had to contend in this matter, he (Lord Aberdeen) was disposed to view more charitably than others what many might conceive to be the blame able part of their conduct. He wished to exaggerate nothing, but he was constrained to say, that there were many points in their conduct which were open to the gravest imputations. The system of delay in which they had indulged, or rather the practice of delay, for he did not believe that with them delay had been the result of deliberation or the preference of any given cause of action, but simply the necessary result of doing nothing, this practice had been the occasion of most disadvantageous results. He did not believe that the noble Lord had adopted this style of policy upon reflection, or in the hope that in after days a grateful country would inscribe upon his tomb, as on that of a great statesman of old—Cunctando restituit rem.All had been the natural result of habitual wavering, irresolution, and infirmity of purpose. He would candidly and plainly state to the noble Lords opposite some of the points on which he thought they were justly liable to the accusations which he had made against them. First, he thought the appointment of Lord Gosford's Commission had caused great delay. What was that Commission of Inquiry? He did not mean to deny, that the Commissioners had furnished them with several valuable Reports, having ingenious speculations and able discussions, but the greater part of which might just as well and just as easily have been given in London. He maintained, that in the state to which the affairs of Canada had arrived at that time there was no need of further inquiry. They had had inquiry enough—they had too much inquiry. There had been, for the whole previous Session of 1834, a 653 Committee of the House of Commons occupied in fully investigating the whole of this subject—a Committee such as he believed had never been seen in the House of Commons before, where the Colonial office was laid open absolutely and without reserve to the demand of any person who chose to move for any papers. They were, therefore, in a state in which they were not only able, but in a state which rendered it incumbent on them, to come to a decision on the subject. And it was in vain for noble Lords to say, that they were not then in a condition to come to that decision; for they must be pleased to recollect, that when they returned to office, in April, 1835, they found all matters connected with Canada precisely in the same situation as they were in the preceding November. The House of Assembly had not met—no steps had been taken—no act had been done, declaring more explicitly the condition in which that country stood. They would be pleased to recollect, that on the very day on which the noble Viscount's Government retired from office, viz., on the 15th of November,—on that very day the Secretary for the Colonies had written to Lord Aylmer, and had told him that he was fully prepared to give him ample instructions upon every point at issue, and more—that he would have done so the very next day—had not the Government unfortunately been removed. Now, the hon. Gentleman who then filled that office, although he had not returned to it, had not afforded him the advantage of seeing those instructions. They, of course, were left in his portfolio; but although they had not been at his command, they would no doubt be perfectly at the service of his noble Friend, who had succeeded that hon. Gentleman in the Colonial Office. That noble Lord must, therefore, be supposed to have been fully prepared upon his entrance upon that office to communicate instructions upon every point at issue. But, besides that, there was also in the Cabinet a noble Lord who had been connected with the Colonial Office—who had always paid great attention to Colonial matters, and especially to the affairs of Canada—he meant the Secretary at War. Thus, then, the Government had been surrounded by persons perfectly familiar with the whole progress and course of proceedings in Canada—who could not assign any such reason for making further inquiry; because 654 they must have been, as they had stated themselves to be, fully prepared in reference to it. He said, then, that the Commission of Inquiry could have arisen from no other cause but a desire for delay. He had formerly taken the liberty of saying as much, and of pointing out what must be the inevitable consequence of adopting that course. He knew it had been said, that they had in that followed, as a precedent, the conduct which was intended to have been pursued by those servants of his late Majesty whom they had succeeded. But he would venture to say, that any Commission which might have been issued by that Government would not have been calculated to produce any such effect as that to which he bad referred. It might have had no better success than that of Lord Gosford and his colleagues; but at least it would have been intelligible, clear, and explicit, as to the objects for which it was sent to Canada; and if it did not take away or lessen, it would not at least have aggravated the difficulties with which the question was encumbered. To show their Lordships the difference between the two Commissions he was prepared to slate, that when the noble Lord, who had undertaken to repair to Canada—his family affairs in England rendering it extremely inconvenient to him to be absent—when that noble Lord inquired what was the probable length of time during which he would be engaged with the investigation, he (the Earl of Aberdeen) had told him, that he thought it very possible that within six weeks or two months after he had arrived at Canada all points might be settled one way or another, and that at least in that time Parliament would be ready to make some provision to meet the emergency of the case. When his noble Friend, to whom the present Government had intrusted this duty, made the same inquiry of the noble Lord opposite, what was the answer? Why, that probably the inquiry might last two years. Did they consider what was the condition of affairs in Canada at that time? Why, in the then state of Canada two years was an eternity. What benefit could be expected from a Commission of that sort? Instead of doing good, it could not fail to leave things worse than they were before. That, then, was the first instance of delay with which he thought the Government chargeable. The next instance of culpable delay arose upon the reports of 655 the commissioners themselves. By the second report, which was dated on the 12th of March, 1836, after the decision of the House of Assembly had been settled, and their concession considered hopeless, the commissioners recommended that it should be proposed to Parliament to repeal or suspend 1 and 2 William 4th., which was an Act that gave the appropriation of the revenues to the House of Assembly—which was fairly under the control of the Lords of the Treasury. In that recommendation all the commissioners concurred; and it was singular that that was about the only thing in which they ever did agree—for, able as they were, and clear and talented as their reports had been, the commissioners had differed so much that it was scarcely possible to find them even agreeing in the recommendation of any one measure; but on that point, however, they were unanimous. Well, that being the case, what did the noble Lord do? He thought, or he affected to think, for it was scarcely credible that he could seriously entertain any such opinion, that the House of Assembly had been deceived, and were labouring under a misconception of the instructions which had been given to the commissioners, and that if they knew the whole of those directions they would be willing to come to terms. Consequently, the noble Lord declined to act upon that unanimous recommendation of the commissioners. He directed them to call another session, and to communicate to the Assembly the whole of his instructions, and then to report the result. Now he could hardly imagine that the noble Lord could seriously hope for any change; but, however, Lord Gosford did call another session, he did present his instructions to the assembly in extenso, and what was the result? After resolutions much more stringent in their terms, and laying aside all respect and almost decorum, the House of Assembly summed up their demands by stating "that the same circumstances as well as the previous consideration of the salutary principle above referred to, namely, the principle of having a complete redress of grievances before they voted the supplies, rendered it incumbent upon them to adjourn their deliberations till Government should by their Acts redress the grievances complained of, and especially by rendering the second branch of the Legislature conformable to the 656 wishes and the wants of the people." The House of Assembly, therefore, declined to make any change in the hope to which the noble Lord referred. This he also thought was a case merely of delay, for he did not think that the noble Lord could seriously have expected that the consideration of these instructions of which the House of Assembly was already in possession of the substance could produce any such change as the noble Lord affected to expect. The next proof of delay he had to adduce was that most extraordinary and incomprehensible delay which took place in the nomination of the Executive Councillors and the members of the Legislative Council. It had always been intended to nominate as members of those councils gentlemen possessed of the good opinions of the people, and who were deservedly popular in the province. He believed that ever since the Committee of 1828 the persons who had been appointed had been, many of them, unconnected with the Government, holding no office, and indeed possessing a peculiar independence, and who were in other respects eligible to the situation; but it was desirable by all practicable means to conciliate the feelings of a numerous portion of the community by appointing persons in whom they had confidence and to whom they could look with respect. This had always been the desire and the expressed intention of the Government, that such persons should be appointed when the Government could properly place them in the council; at least, that no bar should exist against the appointment of any man who had deserved justly the confidence of the people. The commissioners, in their very full report on the composition of those councils, recommended the principle upon which the nomination should take place. This report was dated the 3d of May, 1836, and any one would have thought that the plan was simple and easy, and that Government would have adopted the principle; but nothing was said or done upon the report until the 14th of July, 1837, when the noble Lord (Lord Glenelg) wrote his instructions to Lord Gosferd on the subject. What could possibly have been the reason for this delay, and how did the noble Lord draw up his instructions when he did issue them, did he nominate the councillors? Not a bit. The noble Lord left Lord Gosford to do exactly what he 657 pleased. Why could not the noble Lord, instead of waiting a year and a half, have done this at first? If the noble Lord was right at last in giving to Lord Gosford a discretionary power to nominate whom he pleased, why might not the noble Lord have taken the same course in the first instance? And then let their Lordships mark at what time this was done—a time when it could not possibly be of any use. He admitted, with respect to the feelings of a great body of the Canadians, though it was a matter of no great importance in itself, that it would have pleased and gratified highly many of them if this popular measure had been conceded; but their Lordships must recollect that after having sent out the resolutions of last year, and that after their arrival in the colony they produced all that irritation which they were calculated to produce, then came this concession of the nomination of their councillors, at a time when a measure of that sort could not produce that good effect which it might have done had it been seasonable. This was an instance of what he must call pitiable delay; for he could not understand how there could have been so much irresolution in a matter that appeared so simple and easy. If the noble Lord (Lord Glenelg) had directed the commissioners minutely to scrutinise the claims of these gentlemen, and if the responsibility in the selection of them was one which affected the Colonial-office in London, he could understand that there might have been some difficulty in arriving at a satisfactory opinion; but as the difficulty was left after all to the discretion of Lord Gosford, surely the noble Lord opposite might have adopted this course during an earlier portion of the period that had elapsed. He must also say that he thought that the manner in which they passed the resolutions of last year was accompanied by very culpable and mischievous delay. These resolutions were introduced into Parliament in the other House early in March. They did not pass the House of Lords till early in May. They were carried in the other House by overwhelming majorities; every means were offered to expedite their progress. The noble Lords opposite knew perfectly well, that though some of their friends offered a little opposition, from their opponents they had met with none, but that every means would be taken to expedite the passing of the resolutions. 658 The noble Lords knew the value of expedition. In that House the Resolutions met with but the solitary opposition of the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Brougham). They had, however, taken two months in their passage through both houses, without any reason having ever been assigned for it. The resolutions had been postponed from day to day, sometimes the House did not meet, or for some other reason, but for no good reason to men determined to make that haste which the importance of the subject deserved. And when at length they did receive the assent of this House, what was done? Instead of the noble Lords opposite being ready on the next day with a Bill founded upon the resolutions, they left them in their then state. No doubt the events of that period, and the demise of the Crown, might, under certain circumstances, be pleaded as an excuse; but then there was plenty of time before the demise of his late Majesty to pass a Bill if the noble Lords opposite had been disposed to avail themselves of it. As to the reasons which had been alleged for not immediately proceeding in the matter—that there was a fear of wounding the feelings of her Majesty by making the first act of her reign one of a harsh and ungracious character—that had been already treated with the contempt which it deserved. But there was another circumstance which was to be considered—although there was time to pass the Bill, yet the illness of his late Majesty rendered it probable, and the accession of her present Majesty rendered it certain, that a new election must soon take place. In that state of things, therefore, it might probably be deemed expedient by the Government not to quarrel with its friends by the introduction of a measure of that description just at that period. That was the rational inference from their conduct—he could not account for it in any other way. Upon any other supposition it was wholly inexplicable. The noble Lord must either have been wholly ignorant and unaware of the importance of the subject and the necessity of expedition—and it was impossible that he could hare been so ignorant—or he must have sacrificed that importance to considerations of personal advantage and the conciliation of wavering friends. Having stated these instances of culpable delay, he would come to make a few remarks upon the military defence of the 659 provinces and the state of Lower Canada. Having heard the opinion on this subject, on a former occasion, of his noble Friend near him, and of other persons well qualified as military authorities to speak on this subject, he certainly would not take upon himself to blame Ministers for not having sent a reinforcement to Canada; but he could not help adverting to the extraordinary reason assigned by the noble Viscount opposite (Lord Melbourne) on a former occasion, when he said that he had considered the unpleasant effect which might have been produced on the public mind by the arrival of additional troops. After sending out the resolutions the noble Viscount need not have troubled himself about the feelings of the public mind on the arrival of additional forces. The reason which he thought justified the noble Lords for not sending out troops was this, that competent military opinions had been received, at least he presumed they had been received, by the noble Lords, as he had received them himself, to the effect that a rising in the provinces was not probable, and that if it took place there was a sufficient force there to put it down. In the first they were mistaken, but in the second opinion they were more correct. But, at all events, the noble Lords opposite knew that troops must be taken from the neighbouring provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and there was no reason why those places at least should not have been supplied with troops. It appeared that Sir C. Campbell had actually applied for a reinforcement when he was called upon to dispatch troops from Nova Scotia to Canada. This appeared from the confession of the noble Lord (Lord Glenelg) himself; and further, that the noble Lord had received this communication in August, at a time when he might have complied with Sir C. Campbell's wishes. There was, therefore, surely in this respect great remissness. But he must observe that military authorities in their opinions were not unfrequently disposed to look rather to the result of the contest than to its prevention. They were not unnaturally, perhaps, disposed to undervalue this view of the subject, as seeming to betray a degree of over-caution and timidity. But there was a great difference between the force necessary to prevent a revolt and that necessary to suppress it. He recollected some years ago a highly distinguished officer who was 660 employed in a command when a rising of the people was expected, and when the Government applied to him to know if he required the whole amount of his force, and if it was possible to spare any that were under his command, the answer was this:—" Before I answer your question I must know what you require of me. If you require me to prevent a rising, I cannot spare a man, but if you only require me to put it down when it shall have taken place, in that case probably half the number will be sufficient." Though therefore, he had all possible respect for military views and opinions, still he thought it not improbable that public considerations might not have been entered into so fully as might under other circumstances have been done. Having thus pointed out in what respect he thought the conduct of her Majesty's Ministers was gravely deserving of censure on the part of that House, he would repeat what he had already stated, that to the Bill itself it was not his intention to make any opposition. At the same time he must say, that the Bill was in one point somewhat singular. He believed, indeed, that it had been so amended that whatever might have been thought of it in its original and crude state, it had been greatly improved before it had arrived in that House. He certainly saw by the votes on the table, that the Bill had a new preamble, and he perceived by the votes of the House of Commons, that the Bill had had a preamble which was stigmatised as abominable, but a preamble had been added which was certainly unexceptionable; so that no doubt it had been changed for the better. But accompanying this Bill, they had produced on the table of the House a paper which nobody had ever thought of asking for, but it was produced by the Government and purported to be an extract from a dispatch to the noble Earl, who was about to undertake the government of the Canadas. The dispatch was dated on the 20th of January, and the noble Earl (Durham) would not depart in all probability till April. What, then, was the object of producing this dispatch? It was, he presumed, to enforce, or rather it was intended to bolster up and explain the preamble, in which some such doctrine as that divulged in the dispatch was referred to. But this dispatch recommended the calling of a convention, which was referred to in the preamble, and it was pro- 661 duced for the purpose of giving the preamble some countenance; it was however pronounced to be eminently absurd; and if the preamble were removed, this dispatch, which was intended to support it, would, in its character of a dispatch, be pre-eminently absurd. But what did it amount to? This dispatch directs the noble Earl (Durham) to summon a convention after a certain time. But, again, he understood that it had been recently stated that the Bill itself, as it stood, would render such a proceeding illegal. The noble Earl, therefore, would never be able to execute the instructions in consequence of the provisions of the bill itself, which prohibited such a proceeding as calling a convention as illegal. As he had exhausted the superlative expression in describing these proceedings already, he could only say in addition that this was super-saturated with absurdity. If it were not for one little expression that reconciled these contradictions, he should have thought that the noble Earl (Durham) was placed in an awkward predicament in being ordered to do what was illegal. But he perceived that the noble Earl was ordered to summon a convention if he should so think fit. Now he (the Earl of Aberdeen) would venture to say, that the noble Earl (Durham) would not so think fit; and in that case he might put his instructions in his pocket, he might do what he pleased with them provided he did not carry them into effect. He thought it was incumbent on Ministers in execution of the measures which had met with the approbation of Parliament, to employ those instruments which were best calculated to carry it into effect. He had too much respect for the prerogative of the Crown to question the appointment of the persons who were delegated for such a purpose, and it must be a strong case, indeed, that would ever make him do so. But without any disrespect to the noble Earl (Durham) he must say, that he thought that his nomination to the high office had not been entirely confined to the purpose of pacifying the revolted subjects of the Queen in the provinces of Lower Canada. He rather suspected that the appointment had also a reference to the pacification of certain disaffected and rebelliously disposed persons in this country, persons disaffected to the noble Lords opposite, and whose turbulence might become somewhat alarming. In this respect the appointment of the no- 662 ble Earl had been attended with very singular success; and he (the Earl of Aberdeen) sincerely hoped—for what effect it might have on the other side of the water, or how it would operate there, he knew not—but he sincerely hoped that it would produce there the good effects which it certainly had produced here, for it had, seemingly, pacified the disturbed and disaffected party to whom he had alluded. When the noble Earl (Durham) should have arrived in Canada there were three great questions on which he would find himself at issue with the House of Assembly. They were these—namely, the repeal of the Tenures Act, without any security for the titles of those who possessed land under it; the revision of the charter of the Land Company; and, thirdly, the establishment of the principle of election in the constitution of the Legislative Council. The two first questions there was no difference about. He believed that even the noble and learned Lord (Lord Brougham) had consented to the resolution which declared that the Land Company's charter should not be abrogated, and also that the Tenures Act should not be repealed without securing the titles of those who possessed under it. The noble and learned Lord might possibly be guilty of some political extravagancies, but he (the Earl of Aberdeen) was sure that in anything which related to justice, and where the honour of the country and of Parliament was concerned, the noble and learned Lord would be one of the first to assent to measures for preserving them. The noble and learned Lord on that occasion took an opportunity of volunteering his advice to the noble Earl (Earl of Durham) on the subject of the Legislative Council, and the noble and learned Lord said, that it would be useless for the noble Earl to proceed to Canada, unless he were prepared to make the Legislative Council elective—
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
Yes; that unless the noble Earl had power to make the Council elective, he might save himself the trouble of a voyage. Now, without being asked more than the noble and learned Lord, he (the Earl of Aberdeen) would also volunteer an opinion on the subject; and he would tell the noble Earl that if he was prepared to make the Legislative Council elective, he must be pre- 663 pared to sever that province from the dominion of this country. Such a course would be entirely at variance with the whole colonial system of this country. They might make their colonies as free as they pleased, but the colonies of this country must be governed on monarchical principles. He knew there were those who said, that republican institutions worked very well in the United States. It was very possible they might; but there was this great difference, that in the colonies we must preserve the monarchical principles of government in some shape or other. He could understand the case of a republic in the closest alliance with a monarchy, or under protection and in dependence upon a monarchy, but he could not comprehend how a republic could form any portion of a monarchy. He was quite sure of this, that the making of the Legislative Council elective would tend to the speedy separation of the province from this country. It was, no doubt, true, that in the course of ages, this event was equally certain, let their government be carried on what way it would. He saw no reason for closing their eyes to the fact. Perhaps the very efforts that they made to increase the wealth, the means, the prosperity, and the power of the colonies, would naturally tend to hasten this result. He thought it would be as unwise for them to forget this altogether, as it would be for any one of their Lordships in his full health and vigour, to forget that at some time or other he must taste of death. Both events were equally certain: though each might be postponed to a very distant day, they ought still to be prepared for it. By good government, by wise administration, the time of separation from this colony might be removed far from them; and he certainly saw no reason why they might not look forward to long years of happiness and prosperity in the union of the colonies and the mother country. They must all, he was sure, recollect that beautiful passage in Burke, in his speech for conciliation with America, in which he invoked the presence of Lord Bathurst, who could have remembered what America had been at the commencement of the last century; and then supposing the angel of that ingenious and auspicious youth pointing out to him what would be the future progress and rising prosperity of the American colonies, and telling him of all the wonders he might expect to behold re- 664 specting them before he descended to the grave. He thought that, with their present provinces of North America, there was no reason why they might not hope that their children would behold in them more increase and prosperity than all Lord Bathurst had ever lived to witness. The progress of those provinces had been great—it had been more rapid than that of the provinces referred to by Mr. Burke; and he saw no reason why that progress should not continue in the same ratio in connection with the mother country. They should endeavour at the same time so to shape their policy, that they might hope, if ever a separation did take place, it would be in amity and friendship.
spoke as follows:* How comes it to pass, my Lords, by what fate of mine is it, that as often as this great question of our colonies comes on in this place—whether in the ill-fated resolutions of last May, or in the interlocutory conversations raised by the expectations of this measure, or on the address which announced its nearer approach, or now on the Bill itself which embodies it—I alone should be found to interrupt the universal harmony of your councils—alone to oppose a Bill presented by the Government without any defence, but immediately taken up and zealously supported by their dversaries—alone to rise up in defence of the constitution—alone to resist the breach of all law, the violation of all justice, in this high Court of Law, which distributes justice without appeal—alone to withstand arbitrary and tyrannical innovations, standing here, in the Senate—the conservative Senate of a free country—alone to maintain the peace, and stay the dismemberment of the empire, among your Lordships, who, of all men that live, have the deepest interest in peace, and the empire being preserved entire? The position which I occupy is surrounded with difficulty and embarrassment, the task I perform is a thankless one, but I will not—I may not—abandon the post in which my duty has planted me, and I am here, at the last hour of the hateful conflict, again attempting to discharge this ungrateful duty. From so unequal a contest I may retire defeated, but not disgraced. I am aware that I may gain no advantage for those whose* From a corrected report published by Ridge way.665 rights I am defending, but I am well assured that I shall retain the approval of my own mind.
When the question of Canada was last before us, I purposely avoided following the noble Secretary of State over the ground to which he invited me, because I knew that another opportunity would occur for discussing the provisions of the measure, the outline of which he then gave by anticipation. That occasion has now arrived, and I have attentively, and, as became me, respectfully listened to the statement of my noble Friend. I find that he has said in explanation of the Bill—nothing; in defence of the Bill—nothing. Not a gleam of light was cast by him upon its darker places, nothing was said to clear up the obscurities which are remarked in its arrangements, nothing to reconcile the incongruities with which it abounds, nothing to make a measure acceptable, which all allow to be harsh and arbitrary, nothing to show why it is introduced now rather than at any other time. In short, nothing whatever is urged in defence or in palliation of the Government's policy, save the very able, and on that portion of the subject, the very temperate, speech of the noble Earl opposite (Lord Aberdeen), an avowed adversary of the Government on all other questions. And, it must be granted, that the noble Earl anxiously confined his support to the measure itself, and suffered no portion of his eulogy to overflow upon its authors. Taking under his protection the offspring of the cabinet, which had been abandoned by its parent as soon as it saw the light, the noble Earl fosters it with no stepmother's care, plainly shewing, that had such a thing not been engendered on this side the House, we should have had it produced on the other. Before going, however, to the arguments for the measure, I must advert for a moment to the course pursued by the noble Earl in following up the noble Duke's (Wellington), and noble Earl's (Ripon) protest against having it conceived that their approval of the Bill implied any approval of the Government's conduct, on which they intended afterwards to pronounce their free opinion. That opinion has now indeed been very freely pronounced by the noble Earl, and in listening to it, I could not help reverting to the extreme offence taken by my noble Friend a few nights ago at the freedom of my remarks upon the same 666 subject. I could not help recollecting the elaborate contrast which these remarks called forth between my conduct towards old colleagues, and the noble Duke's, who had so chivalrously come to the defence of his opponents—coupled with the panegyric pronounced, God knows, most justly, on the vast superiority of the Duke's mind, to his of whose attack the noble Secretary of State so bitterly complained. I really suspect that to-night if any such comparisons are instituted between me and the noble Earl, I may look forward to a more favourable verdict from my noble Friend. Not that the professions or the tone of the noble Earl had been less friendly than those of the noble Duke, for he promised to treat the Government with charity. My Lords, the noble Earl's is not that charity which covers a multitude of transgressions, but rather that which covers a multitude of attacks. Any thing less kindly I have seldom heard than the performance of this fine promise—any thing more bitter to taste than the fruit that followed a blossom so fair to behold. I am in hopes that it may by its contrast with my milder rebuke, have the effect of restoring me to the affections of my noble Friend. Of this I am quite certain, that he would fain I interposed to rescue him from the hands into which he has now fallen, and to deliver him from the Earl, as the Duke before delivered him from me. He must be most anxious to be saved from the charity of the noble Earl, and as for the forbearance he promised, why it was really worse to bear than the charity itself. He would not even give the conduct of Government the poor praise of being systematically wrong. It is not a system of delay, said he—it is a practice originating in inveterate and incurable habits of wavering, vacillation, and infirmity of purpose—and all this applied to describe the conduct of a great Minister in a great emergency, which called imperiously for the very opposite qualities—and this, the noble Earl's way of shewing his forbearance in the exercise of his charity.
Having endeavoured to set myself right on the personal matters connected with this question, and so remove the trivial parts of the subject, the way is now cleared for arriving at the important part of the argument; and I approach this, I confess, with some degree of anxiety, fearful of wearying your Lordships by 667 repetitions which it is hardly possible to avoid. The conduct of the Canadian Assembly is attacked again—that body is condemned by my noble Friend for an abuse of their privileges—by the noble Earl, with more accuracy of expression for a breach of duty in refusing supplies; it is indeed the whole defence of the measure before you. Both these noble Lords contend, that after such a refusal in Canada, there is but one course to be taken here—to suspend the constitution altogether. The powers you gave the colony are abused: therefore take away the constitution; not, observe, resume the powers that have been abused, but take away all powers together. That is the argument, neither as I think very conclusive, nor even quite intelligible. The noble Earl praised the proceedings of the Committee that sat in 1828, and quoted the Assembly's words in order to prove that the colonists were then satisfied and grateful. No doubt they were, because their grievances were considered, and redress was promised. The same kindly feelings continued not only till 1831, but after that year; they were even increased by the great measures of that year, which gave them the control of the supplies—the power of the purse. What were those complaints which then arose against them? They had been told that whatever grievances they complained of, the power of refusing supplies gave them the means of obtaining redress, that they no longer were mocked with the name of the English constitution, but had the reality conferred upon them, with all its rights. The power which we told them we had thus bestowed, and boasted of our kindness in bestowing, the short-sighted, simple-minded men, proceeded to use, as if they really believed they had gotten it. Innocent individuals! to believe what you told them, and act upon the belief! to believe you when you said they might give their money, or might withhold it, as they chose—and they chose to withhold it! to fancy that you meant something when you said they could now stand out for redress if they had anything to complain of, and then to stand out in the very way you had said they might! You gave them a specific power for a particular purpose, and the instant they use it for that very purpose, you turn round upon them] and say—' Saw any one ever the like of this? Were 668 ever men so unreasonable? You are absolutely doing what you were told you had a full right to do whenever you pleased; why, you are exercising the very rights the constitution gave you;—you are using the privileges we bestowed, and using them for the purpose they were meant to serve;—you are therefore abusing them; you are acting by the strict letter of your new constitution, therefore you are unworthy of it, and we shall instantly take the new constitution away, and not only the new but the old, which you have had for near half a century." Such is the mockery, the unbearable insult which you have put upon this people. First, you boast of having given them the power of the purse, and then the first time they use it, you cry out that they are acting illegally. It turns out that this power of granting or refusing supplies was all the while never intended to serve any other purpose than rounding a period in some conciliatory royal dispatch from Downing-street, or some gracious vice-regal speech at Quebec. The real meaning of the whole was simply this:—You shall have the power of doing as you choose about supplies, but always upon this condition, that you shall choose to do as we please. You have the option of giving or refusing, but understand distinctly, that if you exercise it in any way but one, you forfeit it, and with it all your other privileges.
As for the noble Duke (Wellington) I can far more easily understand his course upon the present occasion, because he singly opposed the bill of 1831, and entered his protest upon our journals. He objected altogether to giving the power over supplies which that bill bestowed. But when I turn to my noble Friends, the authors of that bill, they who gave that power, what am I to think, when I find them crying out treason the instant it is used? Nay, I find them not merely complaining of its use, but because it is used, they take away, not only the power itself, but the whole constitution given by Mr. Pitt's Bill of 1791, or rather Lord Grenville's—for he was the author of the constitution, and substituting in its stead what they themselves allow to be an arbitrary and tyrannical form of government. The crime charged upon the Canadians, and for which they are to be punished by the 669 loss of their free constitution, is refusing supplies. Instantly the resolutions are passed. The noble Earl (Aberdeen) confesses that those resolutions are calculated to harass and vex the Canadians. Then their natural consequences follow: the Canadians are irritated, and no precaution whatever is taken to prevent them from revolting; not a man is sent; not an order issued; not an instruction forwarded; not one line written; not one word spoken, to prevent what is freely admitted to be the natural consequences of the resolutions! All this seems sufficiently marvellous; but this is not all: we now have a scene disclosed that baffles description and mocks belief—a scene which I defy the history of all civilized, all Christian countries, to match. A governor, appointed to administer the law—to exercise the authority of the State for the protection of the subject—one commissioned to distribute justice in mercy—whose office it is above that of all mankind to prevent crimes—and only to punish them when it exceeds his power to prevent their being committed—he who, before all, because above all, is bound to guard against offences the people committed to his care—he who first and foremost is planted by the Sovereign in authority to keep the people out of doing any wrong, that the law may not be broken, and there may be no evildoers to punish—he it is that we now see boasting in his despatches, wherein he chronicles his exploits,—boasting yet more largely in the speech he makes from the Throne which his conduct is shaking, to the people whom he is misgoverning,—boasting that he refrained from checking the machinations he knew were going on;—that, aware of the preparations making for rebellion, he purposely suffered them to proceed; that, informed the crime was hatching, he wilfully permitted it to be brought forth;—that, acquainted with the plans laying by traitors, with the disaffection hourly spreading, with the maturity every moment approached by treason, with the seductions practised upon the loyal subject, with the approach each instant made by the plot towards its final completion, and its explosion in a wide spread revolt;—he, he the chief magistrate and guardian of the peace and executor of the law, yet deemed it fitting that he should suffer all to go uninterrupted, unmolested; should turn a deaf ear to the 670 demands of the peaceable and the loyal for protection, lest any such interference should stay the course of rebellion; nay, sent away the troops, for the express purpose of enticing the disaffected to pursue and to quicken the course of their crimes! Gracious God! Do I live in a civilised country? Am I to be told that such is the conduct of a parent state towards her children of the colonies? Is this the protection which we extend to the subjects over whom we undertake to rule on the other side of the Atlantic? Does it after all turn out that our way of governing distant provinces is to witness disaffection, and encourage it till it becomes treason; to avoid all interference which may stay its progress; to remove all our force, lest it might peradventure control the rebellious, while it comforted and protected the loyal? The fact was known, but the plan is now avowed; and the fatal result is before the world. Blood has been shed; but not on one side only—the blood of the disaffected has indeed flowed; but so also has the blood of those whom our wicked policy had suffered traitors to seduce. It was not until that horrid catastrophe had happened, that the King's peace was allowed to be restored. I am filled with unutterable horror and dismay at this scene. I appeal to the bench of Bishops. I call upon them that they lay this matter to their hearts, and reflect upon the duty and the office of a Christian man. Shall he be held guiltless, be his station what it may, if he allows sin in others whom he has the power to save from it, much more if he takes measures for ensnaring his brother into guilt, that he may fall, and pay the penalty of his transgression? How much more, then, if he be a ruler of the people, set over them to keep them right. I call upon the reverend judges of the land to frown down by their high authority this monstrous iniquity. Let them tell how they deal with the men who come before their tribunals, not as vindicators of crime, and enforcers of the law—but as tempters to seduce the unwary, and make him their prey. Let them describe to us those feelings, which fill their breasts, when the very scum of the earth's scum is cast up before the judgment-seat,—that indignation which agitates them, and seeks its vent upon the head of him who might have prevented the law from being broken, but prefers, for some sordid purpose, standing by to see 671 the offence perpetrated, and then drags his victim to justice. That indignation they must now transfer to this place, and pour it upon the supreme ruler of a province, who has the courage to boast that such has been his conduct towards the people committed to his care; vaunting of such misdeeds to the Sovereign who employed him, and to the subjects whom he misgoverned in the trust which he betrayed. It is well for him to speak with regret of the blood thus spilt—well to lament the gallant Colonel Moody thus foully slaughtered, and who would never have been attacked, had the troops been left at their post whom the Governor made it his boast that he had sent away. Possibly the whole may be the afterthought of a vain man, which he never would have uttered had the revolt not been put down. But, assuredly, if the force had remained, we should have had to rejoice in its prevention instead of its suppression; and instead of lamenting bootlessly the loss of the gallant men thus sacrificed, he might have had the better feeling to indulge of saving their lives to their country, and preserving, instead of restoring, the public peace which he was sent to maintain.
The same Governor, however, has not, as I find, been satisfied with a civil war; he must needs do his best to endanger the peace with the United States. He hits threatened that powerful neighbour with hostilities. It appears that the neutrality of the American territory has been violated, nor could such an event excite surprise. A volunteer force must always be less easy to control, and more prone to commit excesses, than those regularly disciplined troops who were sent away at the time their services were most indispensable. The noble Duke (Wellington) expressed himself satisfied with the force in the Canadas, upon the authority of military men whose opinions he had taken. No one is more ready than I am to be guided by such authority—that is to say, upon all military questions. If we are asked whether a certain number of troops be sufficient to defend a post, or even to put down a revolt which has actually broken out, to the opinion of military men I will bow—not so where the question is, what force should be kept in a province in order to prevent all revolt from taking place—that is a question of civil and not military polity. Still more if the question 672 be whether it is fitter to keep down all rebellion, than to wait till it rages, and then suppress it—that is no more a military question than any of those matters which daily occupy the attention of Parliament; no more than a Bill relative to police, or to any other department of the civil government of the country. The noble Earl (Aberdeen) with much good sense, referred to a high authority, and cited a very sound opinion upon this grave and important subject, when he repeated the valuable saying of an eminent man, that "a far less force might be required to put down a revolt than to prevent one.'' The charge I now make runs through the whole of the question before us; and one more serious cannot be brought against any Government. The Ministers are accused, and as yet without offering explanation or defence, of having occasioned by their own incapacity and that of their emissaries, a civil war, the effusion of innocent blood, and the seduction of loyal subjects from their allegiance. Upon the same gross neglect, and the necessity of employing an undisciplined and insubordinate rabble is also charged the rupture with America, to which that neglect led, not indirectly and as a remote consequence, but by a plain, direct, short rout, which might all along have been easily seen and closed up. My Lords, I most deeply lament any occurrence as most disastrous and appalling, which can endanger our relations of peace and amity with the United States. But I would not be understood as thinking that this most untoward occurrence will lead to a rupture, though I fear it will exasperate men's minds and embitter the feelings, already not too kindly, which the last American war left behind it. I know, however, the good sense which, generally speaking, prevails among the people of America—the sound policy which, for the most part, guides the councils of its Government. Long may that policy continue!—long may that great Union last! Its endurance is of paramount importance to the peace of the world—to the best interests of humanity—to the general improvement of mankind. Nor do I see how, if any disaster were to happen which should break up the Union, considering the incurably warlike nature of man, the peace of the New World could long be maintained. But in the present case, met. as I have no doubt these wholesome 673 dispositions towards amity will be by corresponding sentiments on this side of the Atlantic, I cherish the hope that after discussion, and explanation, and conferences, and negotiations, satisfaction will be yielded where outrage has been offered, redress will not be withholden where injury has been done, and the occasion of quarrel for the present be avoided. But there will not be an end of the consequences that must inevitably follow from this unhappy affair. The public mind will be seriously and generally irritated; the disposition to interfere with us in Canada will become far more difficult to repress; and a Government, at all times feeble to control the conduct of individuals, will become wholly impotent against so prevailing a spirit of hostility. All these mischiefs I charge upon the same inexcusable, inexplicable neglect, which has left Canada bare of defence against the progress of discontent, at the moment when your rash, violent, headlong policy had excited the universal resentment of your American subjects.
But your own faults are, with unparalleled injustice, to be laid to the door of the colonists; because you have misgoverned them, and alienated their affections, they are to be punished by the loss of their free constitution. Now, grant even that some portion of them have no justification and no excuse for their conduct—I ask you how you defend the policy of punishing the whole community for the errors or the offences of a few? I will not here stop to solve the problem, what proportion of a people must sin before you are entitled to visit the whole with penalty and coercion; but I will ask you to recollect the argument used a few days ago by the Ministers, when I complained of no troops having been sent to preserve the peace. The outbreak was then represented as a mere trifle; an affray in which but few of the people, but a handful of men, had taken any part—it was confined to a corner of the province—to the banks of the Richelieu alone—while all the rest of the country was peaceable, loyal, and firm. In Upper Canada not a soldier was wanted, and the Governor had sent every man away, returning to the inquiry, how many he could spare, the vapouring answer, "all."—Even in Lower Canada, six counties out of the seven were in a state of profound tranquillity, and but a few parishes 674 in the seventh had shewn any signs of disaffection at all; almost all else was loyalty, devotion, and zeal. Such was the ministerial statement last week.—Then how do you propose to reward all this loyal devotion and patriotic zeal? By depriving, not the criminal and seditious portion of the people, but the whole community of their rights;—by punishing, not the one county where the peace has been broken, but the other six also, where perfect tranquillity has reigned uninterrupted. And you intend to take away, not only rights that have been abused, not only privileges that have been too rigorously exercised, but all the rights and privileges together, which for near half a century the Canadians have enjoyed. They are told that for the trangressions of a few, the whole liberties of the people are at an end; and my noble Friend himself, a well-known friend of liberty, an advocate of popular rights, is to proceed among them in the character of Dictator, to enforce the Act for establishing among them a despotism never before known in any part of the British dominions. But without stopping to inquire longer into the justice of this policy, let us only ask whether or not it is consistent with our conduct towards other portions of the people;—whether or not we treat all parts of the empire in this kind of way? Is it the course we undeviatingly pursue every where, through good report and through evil report? Suppose we had to deal with a province situated not three thousand miles off, but almost within sight of our own shores; inhabited, not by half a million, but seven or eight millions of people; not unrepresented in Parliament, but sending over above a hundred zealous and active delegates to speak its wishes and look after its interests; and suppose that of these, a large proportion, say not less than seventy, were the sworn allies, the staunch friends, the thick and thin supporters, the unhesitating, unscrupulous voters of the very Administration which has been forging fetters for the Canadians—the remote, unfriended, unrepresented Canadians—bow would the same Government have treated the portion of the empire now called Canada, but which would then have borne another name? Suppose the leader of the seventy faithful adherents, the Mons. Papineau as he is now termed, the zealous and valuable coadjutor of the Ministers, should take up the ques- 675 tion of an elective council—should strenuously exert himself for its success—I must here use a European expression to be understood—should agitate for it,—would his urgent demands be treated with scorn, and the prayers of his countrymen and followers be rejected with disdain? My noble Friend, who represents the Ministry elsewhere (Lord John Russell) has furnished an answer to all these questions. Quoting from Mr. Fox, and greatly exaggerating that great man's meaning by taking literally what was said loosely, if seriously, my noble Friend has laid it down, that in Irish affairs there is but one rule for governing the people; and what do your Lordships think that golden rule is? By doing what is right and just? By pursuing the policy which the interests of all require? No such thing! The rule is far simpler than that. By administering, as my noble Friend on the cross bench did, (Marquess of Anglesea,) justice tempered with mercy—evincing at all times the most watchful care of the people's interests, mingled with the most undeviating condescension and kindness of demeanour towards their persons—at once endearing himself to them by the frank urbanity of his manners, and taking care that their best interests should be unceasingly promoted—doing them justice, securing them right, but at the same time, holding, the balance equal, with a firm, a manly hand—and never, for any consideration, abdicating those functions of a Government from which its very name is derived? Nothing like it! What, then, is my noble Friend, the Home Secretary's rule for governing the people? Is it to do what you ought by them? to give them what is good for them? to let them have what you ought to give, and nothing more? Oh, no such thing! but it is to let them have just what they themselves wish; to do as they bid you—as they, the subjects, bid you, their Governors; in a word, to let them save you the trouble of governing them by leaving them to govern themselves. That is the rule applied to a country which is close by, with six millions of men whom one common sentiment binds together, who follow one concentrated and individual influence, and who send seventy voters to the aid of the Ministry in the other House. The rule for dealing with them is, "Give them all they ask; if an elective council, let it be elective; if a life council, be it for life;— 676 just as they please." But for Canada, far off, thinly-peopled, and without the fraction of a member in either House to make its grievances known, or give expression and force to its desires, another rule prevails,—"Refuse all they ask; turn a deaf ear to every complaint; mock them with hopes never to be realised; insult them with rights which when they dare to use shall be rudely torn from them; and for abiding by the law, in seeking redress of their wrongs, punish them by the infliction of a Dictator and a despotism." We have all seen, or we have read, of the contrast between a parent and a stepmother in the treatment of the child; the contrast between tenderness, self-denial, self-devotion—and cruelty, self-indulgence, studied neglect. The one exhausts every resource of kindness and conciliation, anticipates all wants, yields to each wish that ought to be granted, studies to prevent offences by judicious training, and to reclaim from error by gentleness alone; nor ever has recourse to punishment until all means of prevention fail, and the safety of the cherished object forces her to do violence to her feelings rather than neglect her duty. But I have known conduct the reverse of all this. Who indeed has not heard of the stepmother—watching for the occasion of quarrel; taking offence at every thing, and at nothing; fostering any little failing of temper in the child till it ripen into disobedience, and furnish the pretext for inflicting the wished-for punishment; alternately too indulgent and too severe; by fits and by caprice harsh and gentle; now flinging to it some plaything, and the instant the child uses it flying into a fury, and snatching it away, and giving vent to anger by punishment or by restraint: now visiting on the offspring the faults of her own mismanagement; and never for an instant pursuing a steady, or a just, or a rational treatment. These things I have witnessed, as who has not? But never have I known an example of contrast so marked, so violent, so outrageous, as between the parental care of Ireland and the stepmother treatment of Canada.
The act of unprecedented oppression which Lord Durham is commissioned to execute, is, I find, explained and illustrated by the publication of the instructions under which he is to be sent out, and when I survey this strange document, I am sure I find it difficult to say whether the tenor of it or the production of it, is 677 the most unaccountable. I question if so extraordinary a proceeding altogether has ever yet been witnessed, as the publication of this paper. The Ministers have made public in January the orders which they intend to have executed next May. It is one of the great difficulties attending an extended empire, that the orders issued for the government of its distant provinces can hardly ever be executed in the same circumstances in which they are framed, because a considerable time must needs elapse between their being dispatched and enforced. But is that a reason for unnecessarily incurring the unavoidable difficulty—by sitting down—did mortal man ever before dream of such a thing—by sitting down at the Colonial-office in January and drawing up the orders in all their detail, which are to be obeyed by the emissary in May or June—when that emissary is not to leave the country before the month of April? How can my noble Friend know that he will be of the same mind in April, when Lord Durham is to set sail on his hopeful mission of conciliatory coercion? The measure, out of which these resolutions have arisen, has already been changed three or four times over in as many days, if report speak true. First the Ministers wavered a little; then they affected to have made up their minds; and having done so, they no sooner declared that nothing should move them from their fixed purpose, than they suddenly departed from it altogether, and adopted a totally different course, at the dictation of the Opposition in the Commons. Hesitation, uncertainty, wavering, delay—mark the whole course of their proceedings. It extends to the noble person who is to execute these projects in Canada. My noble Friend is not to set out on his progress towards the spot where disaffection is abroad, and insurrection has broken out, until the weather is fine. While every week is of incalculable importance, April is the time coolly appointed for his sailing, and it may be later. This extreme deliberation should seem to indicate no great apprehension that the colony is in such a state as affords any justification of a measure like the one propounded for its coercion. The noble Earl (Aberdeen) has mistaken what I formerly said of my noble Friend's powers. I never pronounced it as a clear matter that he should, at all events, be ordered to grant instantly an elective council. But I did 678 maintain, that unless he goes armed with a power of this extent, to be used if he shall see fit, his going is a mockery both of himself and of the Canadians; and that neither he nor this country can reap honour from his mission. But no power of this kind, or indeed of any kind, is to be given him. These instructions are from the beginning to the end, inquiry, and nothing else. They set out with stating, that it may probably be found necessary to adopt some legislative measures of a comprehensive nature for effecting a permanent settlement of the Canadian question—but what these measures are likely to be, there is no intimation given; indeed the plain implication is, that they have not yet been discovered; and the instructions proceed to describe how the information is to be procured on which they may be framed. The committee or convention is to be formed, and then my noble Friend is to bring before it various subjects on which he is to ask for their opinion and advice. The first is the matter in dispute between the upper and lower provinces. The next subject of deliberation it is said, will be furnished by the Act of 1791, with a view to examining how its defects may be corrected. Then follow some other heads of inquiry in their order—the mode of defraying the expense of the civil Government, the state of the law affecting landed property, the establishment of a court for trying impeachments and appeals. On all these several subjects the new governor is to inquire, and what then? To determine—to act—to do any thing that had not been done by his predecessors? No such thing—but to report to the Government at home exactly as they did before him. Why, have they not had reports enough? Had they not the Committee of 1828, with its ample investigation and voluminous reports? Had they not the Committee of 1834, with such a production of papers from the Colonial-office as never before was made to any such tribunal, and a report in proportion full to overflowing? The labours of these two Committees, sending for all persons, examining all papers, searching into all records, were not deemed sufficient to slake our boundless thirst for knowledge, and a commission was dispatched to inquire on the spot. They hastened thither, and inquired for years, examined all subjects, differed upon them all, recorded their disputations 679 in long arguments and elaborate protests, remitted the volume that contained the produce of their labours and their wranglings, and put their employers in possession of a whole body of controversy and of decisions, each Commissioner generally differing from his colleagues in the views he took of the argument, and frequently also from himself, but all agreeing in the conclusions at which they arrived, by the course of reasoning one way, and deciding another. Will not this satisfy us, insatiable that we are? Can we hope for more argumentation and more discrepancy from one inquiring man than from three? I defy any one, be he armed with powers ever so dictatorial—let him engross in his own person all the powers of his station, and be his own Master of the Horse into the bargain, to surpass the celebrated inquiry and report of Lord Gosford, and his learned and gallant Coadjutors. I had vainly imagined that all the inquiry of the last three years might have been enough to satisfy the greatest appetite for delay and inaction; but I find I was deceived; we are still to falter and pause; the hour for action recedes as we advance; and the mighty measure of abrogating all law and creating a dictator, ends in sending out one Lord to renew the inquiries which had been making for three years under another.
I have uniformly stated my conviction that it is the duty of the Government here at length to make up their minds and pursue some intelligible and consistent course towards the olony—above all, that sending Lord Durham thither without the only, power which can ever be of the least use towards attaining the object we have in view, is a mere pretence for new delays. The alarm expressed at that power by the noble Earl (Aberdeen) is to me incomprehensible. An Elective Council, he says, means the severance of the Colony—I have always held this to be a benefit and no loss, provided it can be effected in peace, and leave only feelings of kindness on either side. But I deny that the giving an Elective Council can possibly produce such a consequence.—Men commit a great and a palpable mistake when, arguing from the analogy of the Parliament of England, they transfer to Canada the ideas connected with our Upper House. In the Colony there is no aristocracy nor any thing like an aristocracy—consequently the materials of an Upper House 680 are there wholly wanting. But a yet more remarkable difference arises from the relation of Colonial dependency. Why is this House in which we sit necessary for our limited Monarchy? It is because the Crown would without its interposition, come into conflict with the people, represented in the Commons. The Monarch has no revenues but what he derives from the votes of that Lower House; if then he were to exercise his veto upon bills, all supplies would be stopt; and the Monarchy could not survive the shock were it often repeated, were not its violence mitigated by this Upper House being interposed between the other two branches. This House, by the influence which the Crown has in it, by its natural leaning towards the Court, and by its aversion to the extremes of popular opinion, relieves the Sovereign from the perilous office of refusing the, measures sometimes pressed upon both by the representatives of the people. But the state of things in a Colony is essentially different. There the Executive Government is not altogether dependent upon the supplies voted by the Commons—there the Commons have no more absolute power over the rest of the Government than they would have here if Hanover or some other dependency of the Crown yielded a revenue of twenty millions a year, which could defray such expenses as the Parliament might refuse to authorise. Consequently in the Colony, the Governor has no difficulty in rejecting bills, and exposes the constitution to no shock by the exercise of his veto. He wants no Upper House to do for him what he can safely do himself, and to deaden the concussion occasioned by a collision between him and the Commons. Were the Colonial Council then elective, there would none of the effects ensue which must follow from making this House a representative of the people like the other. Were we chosen and sent here by the same body that elects the Commons, any one must see that the only consequence would be, our having a House of Commons divided into two sections instead of one, sitting in two rooms, and passing bills through nine or ten stages instead of four or five; the Government would be wholly changed, and a pure Democracy substituted in its stead. In the Colony the reform of the Councilor its total abolition, would not alter one jot the nature of the Government, or impede its working for an 681 hour. The Commons might refuse supplies because the Governor rejected bills—each party would for awhile stand out against the other; in the end a middle course would be resorted to, each party giving up a little and gaining the rest; and the supplies of the mother country administered by her Parliament would be forthcoming, whenever the sense of the Government and people of England went along with the Colonial executive, to overcome any very unreasonable and pertinacious resistance of the House respecting the Colonial people.—Unable then to discover the least danger from the change so much desired by all the Canadians, I deeply lament the short-sighted and inefficient policy of sending out a new emissary without the power of granting it, or even of entertaining the question; and I remain decidedly of opinion, that whether we regard his own credit and honour, or the interests of the country and the colony, he had far better not go there at all, than proceed with mutilated powers upon a hopeless errand.
The colonial experience, my Lords, of the Spanish monarchy, fertile as it is in lessons of wisdom upon all subjects, is singularly so upon a question of this kind. There once broke out, as you are aware, a revolt so formidable, and so extensive, involving the whole of the most valuable of the settlements of Spain, that it is still known at the distance of three centuries as the great rebellion. I allude, of course, to the revolt of the Pizarros in Peru, compared with which, were the war in Canada to rage with tenfold fury, it would be a mere nothing for danger and difficulty. The events of that famous passage have been recorded by the illustrious historian, my revered kinsman, in that spirit of deep reflection for which he was renowned, and with a charm of style hardly exceeded by his celebrated narrative of Columbus's voyage, which it is difficult to read with a dry eye. The rebels had been eminently successful on all points; the revolt had raged for above a year, and had wrapt all Peru in the flames of civil war. At the head of his hardy and adventurous veterans, Pizarro had met the Spanish troops, and overthrown them in many pitched battles. The Viceroy had himself been defeated, taken, and put to death; the seat of Government was in the hands of the insurgents; and a combined system of revolt had been universally established 682 to the extinction of all lawful authority. In such an extremity, the Emperor Charles, a prince of vast experience, of practised wisdom in the councils both of peace and war; a ruler, whose vigour never suffered him to falter, saw that there remained but one course to pursue. He resolved to send out a person with ample powers of negotiation and of command; and his choice fell upon Pedro de la Gasca, who had, though in no higher station than Councillor of the Inquisition, distinguished himself by his ability and success in several delicate negotiations. He was recommended to the office by an enlarged capacity, hardly to be surpassed—an insinuating address—manners singularly courteous to all—a temper the most conciliatory and bland—above all, a rare disinterestedness and self-denial in whatever concerned himself, and a singular devotion to his public duties. Of this he early gave an unequivocal indication, in peremptorily refusing the offer of higher rank in the Church, which the Emperor pressed upon him with the purpose of increasing his weight and influence in the arduous service intrusted to his hands, "But (says the historian) while he discovered such disinterested moderation in all that related personally to himself, he demanded his official powers in a very different tone. He insisted, as he was to be employed in a country so remote from the seat of Government, where he could not have recourse to his Sovereign for new instructions on any emergency, and as the whole success of his negotiations must depend upon the confidence which the people with whom he had to treat could place in the extent of his power, that he ought to be invested with unlimited authority; that his jurisdiction must reach to all persons, and to all causes; that he must be empowered to pardon, to punish, or to reward, as circumstances might require; that in case of resistance from the malcontents, he might be authorised to reduce them by force of arms, to levy troops for that purpose, and to call for assistance from the Governments of all the Spanish settlements in America." Powers like these seemed to the men of mere precedent in the colonial office of Madrid, impossible to be granted to any subject, they were the inalienable attributes of the prerogative, according to these official authorities; "But the Emperor's views," says the historian, "were more enlarged. As 683 from the nature of his employment, Gasca must be intrusted with discretionary power in some points, and all his efforts might prove ineffectual, if he were circumscribed in any one particular, (as for example, the granting of an elective council) Charles scrupled not to invest him with authority to the full extent of his demand. Highly satisfied (he adds) with this fresh proof of his master's confidence, Gasca hastened, [much cheering attended the mention of this word]—he hastened his departure, and without either money or troops, set out to quell a formidable rebellion." The result is well known, and it was conformable to the vigour and the wisdom that' presided over these preparations. Gasca arrived in Peru without any suite, or any pomp whatever; he put in action the resources of his genius for negotiation; dividing his adversaries by the justice of his proceedings, winning over many of all parties by the engaging suavity and mingled dignity of his manners never making any sacrifice to temper of to selfishness of his arduous and important duty, but gaining every where friends to his mission, while he hardly left an enemy to his person. His bold and uncourtly antagonist perceived that he was undone, if further time were given for the practice of diplomatic arts, alike strange to his nature and his habits. He rushed to the field, his proper element, and to those arms which were the only arts he knew. To his dismay he found that he had to cope with one whose universal genius for affairs fitted him for following up in action the counsels of his provident sagacity. Gasca suddenly disclosed the result of the preparations which he had been making, while occupied in negotiating with the leaders of the revolt, and reclaiming the victims of their artifices. He equipped a fleet, met the cruisers of Pizarro, and captured them every where. He took the field against the veteran conquerors of the New World; he met their chief, overthrew him in a pitched battle, made him prisoner, put him to death with his principal accomplices, restored peace and order to the whole province, and gave back to the Spanish Crown, rather than kept in it, the brightest of its jewels. To complete the glory of this great man, already so brilliant both in council and in arms, there wanted but one crowning passage, which should bestow upon him a yet 684 higher fame, by showing the genius that inspired his conduct, eclipsed by the virtue that governed it. Nor was this proof wanting. Master, by the fortune of the war, and by his unlimited powers, of the whole forfeitures of the rebellion, he distributed a far greater mass of wealth, in money, and mines, and land, and palaces, than was ever by any absolute potentate bestowed upon his followers or his favourites; and reserving not the fraction of a farthing for himself or his connexions, he retired to Europe, and rendered up his trust, leaving to his grateful sovereign the payment of the few debts which he had contracted, and which his poverty disabled him from discharging. His reception by his country and his prince was all that might be expected from public gratitude for unparalleled services, and from unbounded admiration of the highest and most various capacity. But he retired into the privacy of his former life, and passed (says Robertson) the remainder of his days in the tranquillity of seclusion, respected by his country, honoured by his sovereign, and beloved by all.
Having, my Lords, called your attention to the lessons which this memorable passage of colonial history presents to the Government, as peculiarly applicable to the circumstances of the existing crisis, I will not any longer stop to dwell upon a picture, which, I fear, offers to the eye only sad contrasts in all its material features, between the capacity and the vigour of former and of present times. And here, too, I willingly retire from the contemplation of the whole ubject—painful to view in every respect—lamentable in some of its parts,—disgraceful in others. My closing words, my parting advice are to retrace your steps, and do justice. Let the Government make the restoration of kindly feeling the main object of all their endeavours. To compass this, let them go all lengths, and out of their way, in negociating with the disaffected and in ruling the province. Let them largely mingle mercy in the administration of its affairs. Above all never let them listen to those who would persuade them, like the noble Earl (Aberdeen), that what might have been rightly granted at one time it is dishonourable to give now that the supplicant has flown to arms, and become a rebel. If those concessions were wrong before, so are they wrong still, and I call upon you firmly to refuse them,— 685 but if it ever would have been just and politic to yield them, be you well assured that nothing has happened to make it less wise, and less right now, and the fame of England never will be tarnished by doing her duty. Make that your rule and your guide, and you may laugh to scorn the empty babblers who would upbraid you with the weakness of yielding to armed petitioners; you will show them that the concession is not made to the force of arms, but to the irresistible power of justice and of right. I devoutly pray that the end of all may be contentment and peace—that contentment and that peace without which outstretched empire is but extended eakness,—which, if you shall not restore, all your victories in the council, in the Legislature, in the field, will be won in vain—which, if you do restore, you may defy the world in arms, and despise its slanders as well as its threats. Viscount Melbourne thanked the noble and learned Lord for the exhortation and admonition with which he had concluded his speech. He could only say, that he entirely adopted the tone, he perfectly concurred in the spirit, he agreed in the justice and the wisdom of that admonition, and he was quite prepared to state, that by the principles which the noble and learned Lord had so ably, and powerfully, and eloquently impressed on their Lordships, her Majesty's Ministers, in the difficult course in which they were engaged, would be entirely guided. For the part of the noble and learned Lord's speech recommending harmony and conciliation, and attention to the dictates of justice tempered with mercy, the only pure and enlarged policy, he was extremely obliged. Those parts of the noble and learned Lord's speech which were of a different nature, which were so severe and sarcastic in their tone, their Lordships would readily excuse him from troubling them with any lengthened reply to. He had long expected the outburst of the noble and learned Lord. He all along knew it must come—that the spirit of bitterness, the acerbity of feeling which took its birth in the noble and learned Lord's mind in the beginning of 1833, and which had been gathering strength and bitterness from long and forcible suppression, must break out at last. This was nothing more than he had long expected—than was natural—for most people were blind in respect to themselves, and it was impossible to per- 686 ceive in their own case that which was clear and manifest to all the rest of mankind, and which was approved and assented to by the general opinion of all those who considered the subject. He thanked the noble and learned Lord for his active support in 1835, he thanked the noble and learned Lord for his absence from the House in 1836, for his less active support in 1837; and he felt no irritation at the very different tone which the noble and learned Lord's regard for the public service, his zeal for the public welfare, his great patriotism, and his anxious desire for the people's well-being, had reluctantly compelled the noble and learned Lord to adopt in the present Session. The topics which had been introduced in the present debate were much the same as those treated of on a former occasion. The charges which had been brought against Government were much of the same character as those urged before. The principal of these charges were great delay, vacillation, and fluctuation of opinion, a deficiency of firmness, and the not acting on a well-considered and well-determined line of policy. But what was the gist of the accusation and condemnation of overnment—what was the specific error—what was the step which ought to have been taken and which had not been taken—what was the evil proved to have arisen from the delay—what was the measure which ought to have been adopted, and which had been omitted? The noble and learned Lord said, the object of the Commission which was appointed was delay—that no further information was required, that the information attained in 1828 was sufficient. He did not concur in this view of the subject; on the contrary, the most plausible argument against the present measure seemed to be, that even now we had not sufficient information on the subject of the colony. Suppose that Lord Amherst had gone out with his instructions generally of a conciliatory nature, and directed to stand firm by the Legislative Council, what would have been the result? The Canadians would still have insisted on an Elective Council; every one knew that they would have insisted on this, and the effect would only have been to bring on at an earlier period the same state of things which had occurred now. There was no reasonable supposition that the House of Assembly would ever have voted the supplies with- 687 out not merely an Elective Council, the responsibility which they demanded of the Governor to themselves. He (Viscount Melbourne) would not now enter into any discussion on the question of an Elective Council; he did not know whether or not some mode of election might not be devised compatible with the monarchy of this country; but of this he was sure, that the responsibility of the Governor to the Assembly amounted to independence at once, and this demand was unquestionably made by the House of Assembly to be refused them only on peril of their putting into direct use the means which Parliament had placed in their hands. These things must be judged by the manner in which they were employed. The noble and learned Lord had described Parliament as having given the Canadians the power of refusing the supplies only in the intention that they should not exercise it, for that the moment they did exercise it, it was taken away, and their constitution suspended. But this was a question of manner and degree. If the House of Assembly made use of this power for the purpose of stopping the whole course of government, of shutting up the courts of law, it became evident that steps must be taken to restore Government to a situation in which it could work. When there were three estates in the constitution, and one of these pushed its power to an extremity, either the other two must yield to the third, or some change and alteration must take place in the distribution of their respective powers. The demand of the House of Assembly involved a decided change in the whole form of the constitution, and because it had not been acceded to they had stopped the whole course of government. What then remained for the supreme Government to do except to make a great change in the state of things, or at least to suspend the constitution, in order to see what changes might advantageously be made? The constitution had practically been suspended by the Canadians themselves. The Legislative Council refused the Bills sent up by the House of Assembly; the House of Assembly refused supplies; the heart and brain had ceased to act together; it was impossible that things could go on in such a state, and the best step to be taken appeared to be that of suspending for a short time the constitution of 1791, and giving the proposed powers to the Nobleman who had 688 been selected by Ministers to proceed to Canada; a Nobleman of great ability, though, as it might seem, hardly equal to the eminent ecclesiastic of whom the noble and learned Lord had read them so eulogistic an account—an account, indeed, which the lively historian made appear somewhat like a romance. [Lord Brougham: Dr. Robertson was a most accurate historian.] The next matter to which the noble and learned Lord had adverted, was the delay which had taken place in the nomination of the new Legislative and Executive Councils. He certainly must confess that he wished the nomination had taken place before the last week in December, but there had been great difficulty experienced in reference to the selection of members; and there were other circumstances, which, in the present state of affairs in the colony, it might be improper to particularize, which, to a certain degree, accounted for the delay; but there was nothing in these circumstances to justify in the Assembly the violent, obstinate conduct they had pursued. With respect to the resolutions, he believed they had passed their Lordships' House with as much rapidity as possible. There were many matters of great importance, and very exciting in their nature, in agitation at the time. As to the other House, it was well known that, in the present times, hon. Members were not very willing to bate an inch of their right of precedence, to give way with any motion, every one appearing as anxious to deliver himself of his speech as if it were a matter of life and death to his constituents; and, consequently, the march of public business was not quite so regular or smooth for the Government there as in former times, when there was not so much emulation or strong feeling among the Members of that House as at present. But he believed that, consistently with the state of public business, those resolutions proceeded with as much expedition as possible. The idea which the noble and learned Lord had seemed to express, that it would be more constitutional to pay the money in this country than to take it out of the chest of the Canadians, was in no degree adopted by the Canadians, or those who were best informed on Canadian affairs, who all considered such a course as much superseding the House of Assembly as the other course, as equally inconsistent with 689 the form and spirit and right working of a free constitution. As to the forces in Canada, the real fact was, the troops there had not been reinforced, because Government believed from the representations which had been made, both from the civil and military authorities there, and from other quarters, that there was no danger of an outbreak during the winter. This had turned out to be not the case—to be an error in judgment; and certainly, after what had taken place, he greatly wished that additional troops had been early sent out, though he did not believe that even this would have prevented the outbreak, for it was unpremeditated. He apprehended the state of the case to be this:—As far as could be collected from what was known on the subject, the information on which was by no means even yet complete, Mr. Papineau, finding himself playing a difficult and dangerous game, said to the people, "Do not resist now, but be prepared for resistance; arm yourselves, and be ready to assemble together at one point when I call upon you, but do not rise till you are desired." Now, this would not do; it would not do to tell people to arm themselves, to prepare for resistance, to inflame their minds with representations of their wrongs and injuries, and, at the same time, suppose that they were to be held in like greyhounds in a leash, to be let out only at pleasure. So it happened, that when the organization of the disaffected was discovered, and persons were apprehended, resistance and the outbreak followed; and whatever had been the number of troops in the province at the time, he fully believed that the outbreak would still have taken place. It was, however, impossible to deny that if there had been more troops there, Sir J. Colborne would not have been justified in draughting off the troops from the upper province. But Government proceeded on the opinion that there would be no insurrection in the winter. Some observations had been made in reference to the change which had elsewhere been made in the preamble of the Bill. He was well aware that the course which had been pursued in framing that preamble was novel, without precedent; but the circumstance of its being without precedent by no means necessarily proved it to have been erroneous; to show this, it must be proved to have been absurd and unwise. In framing that preamble, and the instructions which 690 had been adverted to, they had been guided by that spirit which had breathed throughout the speech of the noble and learned Lord. They were anxious that there should stand as the basis of the measure a distinct statement that though they were establishing an arbitrary power in Canada—an arbitrary power, let it be observed, not a despotism, for what he (Viscount Melbourne) understood by despotism was irresponsible power, a description which could not be applied to that with which Lord Durham was intrusted—they were anxious, he would repeat, to state in the front and face of the measure, to the people of Canada, of England, to the whole world, that what they were doing was only for a temporary purpose; to exhibit their anxiety to return to constitutional forms of government at the earliest possible period; and though he believed it to be unusual to refer to instructions given by the Crown in the preamble to an Act of Parliament, yet it had been considered how great was the magnitude of the occasion, and the necessity there was of giving this public notice, to show the full concurrence between the legislative and executive powers on the subject, and to prove the manner for which the one was disposed to combine and cooperate with the other. The noble and learned Lord had made some very severe observations on the dispatches from Upper Canada of Sir Francis Head, and unquestionably these might be considered as not altogether free from a certain over-chivalrous tone, not altogether unmixed with imprudence, and as exhibiting a mode of proceeding somewhat hazardous in its character; for it appeared from Sir Francis Head's own statement that it was only owing to accident, and to a little hesitation and want of resolution on the part of those by whom he was assailed, that he had not suffered very severely from his over-confidence. He quite agreed with the noble and learned Lord that if they were to judge entirely from the expressions used by Sir F. Head himself, it could hardly be denied that that officer would appear to have given encouragement to those crimes which it was stated might, by a different line of proceeding, have been prevented. But it must be considered that these expressions were cast in the epigrammatic pointed style which Sir F. Head was known to admire, and which might lead persons to see in them a wider statement 691 of what had been done, and what dangers had been incurred, than was meant to be conveyed. In considering the question of the propriety of delay in interfering in what was going on, it must be remembered that in the present times a preventive or precautionary policy was not very popular; that a man ran great risks in pursuing it; that until an insurrection actually broke out there were very few persons who would admit that there was an intention that it should break out. Had such strong measures been taken as to prevent the outbreak, and the parties in question had not actually joined themselves to the insurgents, it would have been asserted on all sides that there never had been the slightest intention of insurrection; that nothing had ever been proposed to be done but by the most constitutional means; and, therefore, though undoubtedly he could not praise the prudence of Sir F. Head's conduct, on his own showing, yet in all probability, if that officer had interfered too early, he would have run the risk of a charge of having interfered without any reason whatever. He must certainly admit also that the events which had taken place in Upper Canada, on the frontier, were full of that evil and misfortune which had been so eloquently and ably stated by the noble and learned Lord. There was, however, not an insurrection of the Upper Canadians, but in fact an invasion on the part of certain wild and lawless inhabitants of the United States of North America. The persons who had occupied Navy Island were mostly North Americans, and the person who described himself as their general was a native-born American. It was, under such circumstances, highly satisfactory to him to have it in his power to state that all these proceedings were entirely disapproved of and discountenanced by the Government of the United States; that our minister at Washington had received the most complete disclaimer of these proceedings on the part of the Government there, and the most satisfactory assurances that all the powers of the central Government would be exerted for the purpose of putting an end to the insurrection, and preserving the neutrality of the United States in a contest which they deeply lamented. Further, a message had been sent to Congress for additional powers for this purpose, and a proclamation had been made by the President exhorting the citizens of the 692 United States to abstain from interfering in the contest. Though he looked with as much anxiety as the noble and learned Lord to this subject, yet that anxiety and solicitude were much diminished by these assurances of good faith, prudence, and wisdom on the part of the North American Government. Notwithstanding the severity of the noble Earl opposite, and the bitterness, the acerbity, of the noble and learned Lord on his right hand, yet to him it was a great matter of consolation that on the bill before their Lordships there was no difference of opinion. He could assure their Lordships that so far as the Government of this country was concerned, and as far as the noble Earl entrusted with the execution of the measure was concerned, there was the utmost anxiety to heal the wounds now open, to produce a return of good feeling and affection between this country and Canada, and to do every thing to promote the happiness and prosperity of that province.
I purposely abstain on this occasion from going further into the personal remarks of the noble Viscount, because I will not thus interrupt the discussion of a great public question. But, when he compares and contrasts my conduct towards the Government this Session with that which I formerly held, he utterly and notoriously forgets the whole of the facts. Has he forgotten, can he have forgotten, that last May I both urged the same charges and recorded them on your journals? I even pursued the self-same course of argument which has, I observe, to-night given him so great offence. He speaks of "acerbity." A person supposed to have used bitter remarks is, perhaps, not a judge of the comparative "acerbity" of his different observations, nor is that person, possibly, against whom they have been employed. But, I venture to say, that, of all I said this night, the portion which he felt the most bitter, and to which, be it observed in passing, he made not the least allusion, was my comparison of his conduct towards unrepresented Canada and well-represented Ireland. Well, last May I drew the very same comparison, and nearly in the same terms, made the same quotations from the Ministerial speeches in the Commons, and recorded the substance of the comparison in my protest. My Lords, I indignantly and peremptorily deny that the motive or principle of my conduct is changed. But I know that 693 the changed conduct of others has compelled me to oppose them, in order that I may not change my own principles. Do the Ministers desire to know what will restore me to their support, and make me once more fight zealously in their ranks, as I once fought with them against the majority of your Lordships? I will tell them at once. Let them retract their declaration against reform, delivered the first night of this Session, and their second declaration, by which (to use the noble Viscount's phrase) they exacerbated the first; or let them, without any retraction, only bring forward liberal and constitutional measures, they will have no more zealous supporter than myself. But, in the mean time, I now hurl my defiance at his head—I repeat it—I hurl at his head this defiance, I defy him to point out any, the slightest, indication of any one part of my public conduct having, even for one instant, been affected, in any manner of way, by feelings of a private and personal nature, or been regulated by any one consideration except the sense of what I owe to my own principles, and to the interests of the country.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that he wished to avoid, as far as possible, any reference to what had passed theretofore; and he would only refer to that part of his noble Friend's speech, in which his noble Friend had referred to the mission of Lord Amherst. He concurred with his noble Friend in thinking that if Lord Amherst's mission had been allowed to go on, or if a similar mission had been sent out under the auspices of another person or under another Government, to carry into execution measures in 1835 which were only inquired into in 1835 and 1836, and which were not ready to be carried into execution until 1837, that there was at least a chance that these measures would have had some success in preventing what had happened. The noble Viscount had stated that the election of a legislative council, and the election of an executive council would still have been insisted on; and he (the Duke of Wellington) admitted that if this had been insisted on by the legislative assembly of Canada, it must have been resisted by this country; but at all events there was a chance, and he must say (and in this he concurred with the noble and learned Lord, and the noble Lord who had began the debate) that the inquiry of the last commissioners, considering what had 694 passed before, was, to say the least of it, utterly useless. The present measure was applicable only to Lower Canada, and he must observe, on what had been stated by the noble and learned Lord in respect of the necessity of defining the degree to which such a province as Upper or Lower Canada might offend, before such a measure should be insisted on, that there was a clear distinction to be drawn between Upper and Lower Canada. It was true that rebellion had occurred in each; but it must be observed that Upper Canada had not refused to provide the means of administering the civil Government; had not refused to supply the means of administering justice; had not insisted on a revolution of Government, and on rendering the legislative council elective; and. Upper Canada had refused the supplies to her Majesty on the score of those very measures; at the same time he must observe, that those measures had not been thought of by the Assembly of Lower Canada until after the act of 1831 had placed the money at their disposal; they had not thought of elective legislative council or of an elective executive council until the measure had passed which left the money at their disposal, and then they came and made their demands, and told us, that unless we destroy that constitution under which we claim to hold those provinces—viz., the act of 1791—that unless we repeal a great portion of that act, and give them possession, not only of the money, but also of the possession of the government, by means of an elective executive council, then they would not give us the means of administering the civil Government, and of administering justice to our subjects in Canada. The conduct of the House of Assembly in Lower Canada made a great distinction between Upper and Lower Canada; but this was not all. A great number of the Members of the Legislative Assembly, and even some of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada were concerned in this rebellion; some of them were leaders, and some had been killed, others had been made prisoners, and others had escaped to the United States, and now stood proclaimed as rebels and traitors, having fled from justice, and this made another distinction between Upper and Lower Canada. There might, be one or two traitors in Upper Canada, but for every one in Upper Canada there were at least thirty, forty, or fifty such in Lower 695 Canada. Under these circumstances, there was a strong distinction between the two provinces; and therefore, in his opinion, this bill had not properly been made applicable only to Lower Canada and not to Upper Canada. The noble and learned Lord had adverted to the complaints made of the conduct of the Assembly of Lower Canada, in using their privilege (and to which the noble and learned Lord adverted in very strong terms), the privilege of refusing the supplies. The noble Lord had said we told them that they had the money at their disposal, and consequently the privilege of refusing the supplies, and then we, at the very first moment of their exercising that privilege, turned round and say they must forfeit their constitution. He should be one of the last to defend the arguments of the noble and learned Lord; but against the act of 1831, which had given the House of Assembly, possession of all the revenue of the country he had protested. From every thing that had since taken place, he felt satisfied of the propriety of the course he had then taken. He must, however, do his noble Friend who brought in that act the justice to say that he believed, from what had taken place, that his noble Friend had every reason to believe, at the time of introducing and passing that act, from what had been told him by the persons who negociated the matter in 1831, that if that measure passed they would take steps to ensure the granting such a civil list as would be an ample compensation for the money surrendered, and that provision should be made for the civil government of the province and for the administration of justice. With this condition they nevertheless at last turn round and call upon us to destroy the constitution which had been given in 1791, and say that we had forfeited all claim to payment of a civil Government, and of the administration of justice in the province. There was a clear distinction between Upper and Lower Canada, and he thought there was no ground whatever for any definition (which had been maintained by the noble and learned Lord) of the amount of offence of any provision before they should lose their constitution. It was quite clear that it was absolutely impossible to call together the Assembly of Legislature of Lower Canada to carry into execution any measures which it might be expedient hereafter for the Government to propose with respect 696 to that province. In order to carry into execution the provisions of the present bill, and in order that an investigation might be instituted with regard to the measures which it might be necessary to adopt, as the basis of the future Government of Canada, her Majesty's Ministers had selected a nobleman, who was to proceed to that country with certain instructions. Their Lordships had before them a paper containing; those instructions, and, though it was not his intention to advert to them at any length, yet he must be permitted shortly to notice the principle on which they were founded. As he had before stated, the till exclusively referred to Lower Canada; but the instructions affected the Government, not only of Lower Canada, but of Upper Canada also. In respect to Lower Canada, the governor-general was directed to summon, for the purpose of advising on measures for the government of the lower province, not the legislative council of that province, but certain persons from the upper province, some of whom were to be selected from the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada. But this was not all. It was also proposed, for the purpose of forming a new constitution for Lower Canada, that there should be not only this detachment from the legislature of Upper Canada, but also a body consisting of ten persons elected by five districts in Lower Canada, who were to act with the governor, both as a council of advice, and as an executive council.—So, then, it appeared that the English Government had been disputing rightly and justly, in his opinion, on the claim made by the House of Assembly of Lower Canada for an elective Legislative Council; and, after all, the new Governor was to go out with instructions to form a council of persons elected in part by the Assembly of Upper Canada, which as regarded the lower province, was, to all intents and purposes, a foreign nation—in part by five districts in Lower Canada, and in part by the Governor. He certainly thought the noble Lord opposite was justified in not including Upper Canada in the provisions of the Bill, but he should like to know what that province had done to induce the noble Lord to deprive the legislature of Upper Canada of their power to legislate on the subject referred to in the instructions. Why was not the legislature of Upper Canada to be allowed to express an opinion on 697 the grievances affecting that province? Was all that to be settled by the new council of advice? On several subjects touching the two provinces, all was to be done by this convention to be framed by the Governor. Suppose that the Legislature of Upper Canada said, that they would not elect these thirteen persons to meet and hold consultations with the Governor, but that the subjects should be taken into consideration by the legislature of that province itself. He would advise that, if the constitution of Lower Canada was restored, that they should let the House of Assembly take these subjects into its consideration again, while, in the mean time, the matter could be considered by the Legislature of Upper Canada. He would rather let the Governor-general, to be sent out to Canada, call together certain persons to consult and advise with him as to the future government of that country, but would not let them have that convention which possessed no constitutional authority, but which was an usurpation by her Majesty's Government on the rights of the legislature of Upper Canada. It appeared to him, that the course which had been adopted was that which few persons were convinced would lead to a satisfactory result, but all agreed that the body to be called together was something like a convention for the formation of a new constitution. In the instructions there was a promise to return to the constitution as soon as possible, and words nearly to the same effect were repeated in the preamble of the Bill. It was clear, that the object in view in forming this convention, was the framing a constitution for the future government of Canada; but this convention, however, was altogether inconsistent with the Constitution of this country, and inconsistent with the principles on which the Legislature of this country acted in framing the Act of 1791, and on which principles the colonies of this country had been governed. In 1791, the measure giving a constitution to Canada was framed, in acquiescence with the opinion of all parties that this country had a right to give constitutions to these two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. This right had never been forfeited—it existed in the same degree now as in 1791, and there was no occasion for a convention of the states in Canada to enable the Legislature of Eng-Ian4 to frame and grant a constitution; 698 but the words of the preamble of the Bill were intended to throw a light on the subject, and induce persons to believe, that something like a convention was to be called together, on the recommendations of which the future constitution was to be framed. Did any one believe, that there was any use in calling this convention together under these circumstances? The noble Lord appeared rather disposed to dispute the advantage of sending Lord Amherst to Canada in 1835, but he (the Duke of Wellington) thought that it would be found to be a more convenient course to legislate here on the information sent home, than to call together such a convention as that now proposed. Nothing, in his opinion, would be found to be a greater difficulty than attempting to carry these instructions into effect in those two provinces. Moreover, he contended, that these instructions could not be carried into execution in the two provinces. It might be the duty of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to carry put the measures for the future government of Canada, and for the settlement of the questions that had arisen between the upper and lower province; but in doing so, he must attempt to carry measures into execution which would at an early period advance, in the opinion of the leading men, the interests of those countries, and that such a system of government should be adopted as would conduce to the well-being and satisfaction of the people. He was most anxious that these points should be clearly ascertained and known, for in his opinion it was quite inconsistent with the usual practices that such a body as this convention should be framed and called together by these instructions. He now wished to refer to a point in their discussions with respect to which a great deal had been stated by the noble and learned Lord in relation to the election of what was called the Legislative Council of Lower Canada. In his opinion the noble and learned Lord had not stated accurately the relations between the governors of a colony and the Executive Government of this country. The noble and learned Lord had seemed to think that the Governor of a colony could, without the smallest difficulty or inconvenience, refuse his assent to acts of the Colonial Legislature. Now, he conceived on this point the noble and learned Lord was not quite so accurate as he generally was. Some 699 of their measures might be referable to peculiar circumstances, respecting which the Government at home would be the best able to form a judgment. They might have reference to the relations with foreign states, or they might involve such a question as that which had grown up between the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, namely, as to the navigation of the St. Lawrence. Now, the Governor of Lower Canada might find it exceedingly inconvenient to refuse his sanction to a measure on this subject, but still it might be attended with great inconvenience to Upper Canada. Again, in Lower Canada there was a very large English population, which required protection, and whose only protection now was the Legislative Council, which was named by the Crown; and if the nomination of this part of the Legislative body was given up, this numerous class of inhabitants which so much called for sympathy and protection, would be sacrificed to the party that predominated in the House of Assembly. He entreated noble Lords in considering this or other measures respecting Canada, to take care to frame them in such a way as to secure to both provinces the best Government that could be conferred on them under their peculiar circumstances; to frame their Government on the principles of the British Constitution, and, above all, to take care to ensure ample funds for the administration of the civil Government, and also of justice, and at the same time to take care to render the Government as cheap as it possibly could be consistently with the attainment of these objects, for by no other means could tranquillity or peace be secured to them. He entirely agreed with what had been stated by the noble Viscount as to the military operations that had taken place. He believed from what he had heard and read, that both the rebellions in Lower and Upper Canada had been forced on prematurely—the one nearly a month and the other nineteen or twenty days before it was intended that it should break out. He had no doubt that that in the Upper Province broke out nineteen or twenty days before the period fixed for the outbreak; and under the peculiar circumstances, and knowing what was about to be attempted, as a matter of prudence, Sir F. Head might as well have kept his troops in the upper province as have sent them away. With respect to the other province the 700 military officer commanding there from the first, said that in case of an outbreak the insurgents had no chance of success. This opinion had been given some time ago. And here he begged to observe, that the present was not a military question, but was one of a political nature. He believed, that it had been stated at the early part of the Session before they heard of the outbreak, that there was no chance of one taking place. The general officer commanding in Canada, however, had made arrangements as if he expected a rebellion. He ordered officers on leave to be recalled, and lines of military communication to be opened, and instructions to be issued to officers commanding detachments—all which an officer in his situation was likely to do. It was evident a certain party in this country had been informed of these matters, for he was much surprised to find that an hon. Gentleman in the other House of Parliament, in the debate on the address, mentioned these very measures that had been taken, and asked a question as to what had taken place to call for these arrangements. From this it was clear that certain communications on this subject had been made to certain parties in this country by some of the disaffected in Lower Canada. It was impossible to say, that this rebellion could have been prevented; but now that it was perhaps suppressed, he entreated her Majesty's Ministers not to suppose that they had got rid of it. He entreated them to proceed with their propositions, and to assemble in Canada at the earliest possible period the largest force the resources of the country would admit of. He repeated, that there could be for this country no such thing as a little war; and he begged the noble Viscount to observe, that since the 22nd of December, the first day on which intelligence of the unfortunate transactions in Canada were received, not less than four important events had occurred, each of which was calculated to excite the deepest attention of the Government. He knew from accounts to which the noble Viscount had referred, that the President of the United States had desired additional power in order to prevent hostilities on the part of citizens of those states against Upper Canada, and that he had sent an officer (General Scott) to the frontiers of Canada to examine the state of things on the American side, with the view to the more 701 effectual prevention of the threatened hostilities. It had been seen, that within a a very short space, points had been raised relating to the question of the boundary of the state of Maine, to that of the river Columbia, to that of Mexico, besides other important subjects, and he had no doubt that, in proportion as the present difficulties in the Canadas died away, other questions would arise which would require the most vigilant attention on the part of the Government of this country. The Government must, therefore, he repeated, not look upon this as a small affair. They should consider, and he entreated them to do so, that in proportion as they were strong in Canada they would have the countenance and support of many in the United States who would otherwise be against them, even though in doing so they might act against their consciences. He entreated their Lordships not to suppose that this affair was at an end, or that the present business being over, a satisfactory settlement would, on that account, be effected of all the difficulties which encompassed our course of legislation with respect to that part of the empire.
wished to offer a word or two in explanation as to one part of the noble Duke's speech. He thought that nothing was more likely than that a man of the experience and skill of Sir John Colborne would take all measures of necessary precaution against any outbreak. But how could the noble Duke jump to the conclusion from that circumstance that the disaffected only were acquainted with the exact time at which the outbreak was to take place? Why, the noble Duke said, that he himself heard of the likelihood of such a proceeding, and no one, surely, could think that the noble Duke had any connexion with the insurgents.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
began by observing that the noble Viscount (Melbourne) had a manner of speaking which it was exceedingly difficult to meet with effect; for there was so much candour and good humour in the tone of his address that he almost disarmed all opposition. The noble Viscount's Government was placed in a situation of great responsibility: they were by their remissness liable to the charge of having so managed matters as to bring about the present unfortunate state of affairs; and it could not be asserted that they had given any adequate answer to those accusations. The noble 702 Viscount said, "I defy you to put your hand on any part of our conduct which is culpable." He thought, however, that not only had his noble Friend (Lord Aberdeen), but that previous to his speech that evening his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham), had preferred many great and heavy charges against the Government, fully deserving a well considered and a well reasoned defence. He, though much less able for the task than those who had preceded him, would endeavour to show that through the whole of these transactions, from the moment the present Government took office, every step, which was adopted was calculated to lead to the consequences which all now lamented, and all their measures from the first were justly liable to censure. When the Government which preceded that of the noble Viscount came into office they proceeded to take steps not of inquiry merely, but they sent out a noble person, who by the character and station which he before occupied, was well worthy of such a trust, and who was empowered to remedy all real grievances. That nobleman was to act on his own opinion, resting on the responsibility of the Government under which he served. Previous to that what was the state of Canada? There was not merely a refusal of supplies, but in February, 1834, ninety-two resolutions passed the House of Assembly, and he ventured to say, that if anybody read them with care, he would be convinced that an elective council and an alteration in tenures were not what they really desired, but that the object of the real and firm determination of those who agitated the Canadian people and led the House of Assembly at that time was the formation of a republic and a connexion with the United States. If any one were to read attentively these resolutions, he would perceive that the whole spirit which pervaded them was this, "What is good for your country is not. good for ours: we are Americans; we have happy and free estates on our frontier, and their institutions we desire to see introduced into Canada." Such appeared to him to be the real objects of the leaders at least of the Canadian people, namely the establishment of a republican form of government, with a view to throw off the connexion with this country, and to become a part of the United States. He agreed that this country would do wrong in not 703 making an effort to keep up the connexion, and to maintain the constitution which we had given them in analogy with our own. It was our duty to try and remove all the grievances which were found really to exist, but at the same time to tell these people, with firmness and decision, "You ask for some measures which you know must sever the connexion between us, and which cannot, therefore, be conceded by the Imperial Parliament, and must, if necessary, be resisted with force." What was the first fault committed by the present Government? They sent out three commissioners to inquire into the nature of the grievances, that was to commence an inquiry which was to last two years. The Commissioners sent home two reports, in which, though they contained much valuable information, it was almost impossible to see what it was they intended to come at. They had also this additional disadvantage, that against almost every recommendation of any individual Commissioner, there was the protest of the two others. There was scarcely any thing of any importance in which they were unanimous. To send such a commission was, he repeated, a wrong course. But what was the next course? When the supplies had been again refused by the House of Assembly, a series of eight resolutions had been moved and carried in the House of Commons. In carrying those resolutions, the Government had had the support not only of the great majority of those who usually voted with them, but also of those who in general opposed them. Yet, with all this support, they had allowed those resolutions to be hung up in the House of Commons from the 6th of March to the 24th of April. Much of this time had been lost by not making Houses and by early adjournments, which a Government, with such support on this question as he had just referred to, ought not to have permitted. Now, what defence did the noble Viscount make for such conduct? "How," said he, "could we prevent other subjects from being pressed for determination? Gentlemen must make speeches and motions on questions which they consider of vital interest to their constituents." He was aware of the great fault of the other House of Parliament—that there was too much talked and too little done; yet with that knowledge he would say, that if the Government, which had been more than 704 once urged to it, had acted with energy, the eight resolutions would not have been hung up in the Commons for the length of time he had mentioned. If it had been a bill which they had to carry through, and that a factious opposition had been raised to it, there might be some palliation of their conduct, though even a Bill they could have carried through in the time with the support they had. But it was not a Bill they had to carry through. It was a string of resolutions, which one vote of a Committee could have carried. The eight resolutions came up to that House on the 10th of May, and passed without any opposition, save, he believed, the protest of his noble and learned Friend. Why not then have brought in a Bill? It would have been of the utmost importance that the resolutions and the Bill founded on them should have gone out to Canada as early as possible. On the 15th of May a despatch was sent out saying that it was intended to bring in a bill, but between that and the 20th of June, when his late Majesty died, there would have been time to carry a Bill through. Even supposing a factious opposition, and that the King had died in the progress of the Bill, he thought that Ministers would have been doing their duty to her Majesty if they had not postponed the Bill to another Session. Why had the delay taken place? There was an event about to take place in which the Government took an interest. It was well known that a gentleman was to be proposed for Westminster who was strongly opposed to such a bill. It was also well known that not only had Ministers exerted themselves to forward the return of that Gentleman, but that even the name of the Queen had been used to promote it; but it was also well known that if the Canada Bill had passed before the election, it would not have been so easy a matter for Ministers to have given him their support. He would say that not having passed that bill in time was one great cause of the outbreak in Canada, and this was one of the charges which was entitled to a serious answer from the noble Lords opposite. The next ground of charge against Ministers was, that they had left the Canadian provinces without a sufficient military force before the outbreak. He knew it was said in answer to this that it was the opinion of the noble Duke (Wellington) and also of Lord Gosford, that the troops 705 in the Canadas was sufficient for any service on which it was at all probable that that they would be required. The noble Duke spoke from the information of other military officers, but as to Lord Gosford, though he might have been, and no doubt was, of that opinion at the time he gave it, yet he did not hold the same opinion in the July following, as he proved by sending to Halifax for all troops that could be spared, as he had previously been authorised to do. Now, that he thought ought to have been a sufficient warning to the Government at home, and should have induced them to make arrangements in time to provide a sufficient force. It was true, that two or three regiments of regular troops might be sufficient to put down any outbreak in Lower Canada; but that was not the only thing to be looked to. Provision should be made to protect the loyal, and also to destroy the temptation to rise, for that was a most important consideration, as one of the best effects of a sufficient military force was the prevention of any attempt at insurrection. He was fully sensible of the excellent conduct of the people of Lower Canada on the late occasion, and how much it redounded to their honour that the Government had been able to put down the revolt so effectually. Application was made to the Governor of Upper Canada, and he at once, with a boldness, or he might perhaps better term it a rashness, the principle of which was more to be admired than imitated, had at once sent away all his troops to the lower province. Could any man doubt for a moment that the absence of the troops was the immediate cause of the outbreak in the upper province? It was well to say that the governor could depend on the loyalty of the people of Upper Canada. There was no doubt that they were and would continue to be a loyal people; but then to call out men who had not been much accustomed to arms, and who above all were not under that strict discipline which distinguished regular troops was at least attended with some hazard; and it would be admitted that a few regiments of regularly disciplined troops would have been much more effective than large bodies without such discipline. Was it not partly owing to this want of discipline and impatience of restraint amongst the American neighbours of the Canadians, that we were now in the situation in which we at present found ourselves with respect 706 to the United States. Had a sufficient military force been left in Upper Canada, we should never have heard of the outbreak in that quarter, nor, of course, of the aid offered by those citizens of the United States who took part with the revolted. These results of the policy of Ministers were grave charges against the Government, and all the answer that had been given to them was, that in the opinion of some military officers any addition to the forces of Lower Canada was not considered necessary. He confessed that that answer did not satisfy him, and he was sure would not satisfy the country; and, with all the good humour of the noble Viscount, he thought it was a point on which he felt reluctant to press him. Though the rebellion was still said to continue in Upper Canada—though it had been crushed in the lower province, he, for one, thought that of the latter province much more serious in its nature. He knew that there had been, and that there always would continue to be, a number of discontented spirits in that province, and that they would always look to a government separated from that of this country. He knew also that there was there a constant influx of persons from these kingdoms, who went out poor in circumstances and with republican principles which they imbibed here, and which, though not very dangerous here, would not be found without danger in a colony which had close to it a long line of frontier of that republican government to which they were attached. The effect of the recent outbreak would be felt in that colony for many years to come, but the outbreak itself might have been prevented if the Government had used diligent exertion. Another cause of our present situation with respect to the Canadas was, the unfortunate situation in which the Government had been placed since its formation. They had never acted for themselves, but were always obliged to yield to, or dally with, those whose support was considered necessary to their existence as a Government. They, therefore, had not often the opportunity of asserting their own real opinions, which were so frequently overborne by those on whom they depended. There were, as he had said, some parts in their conduct since, which were deserving of censure: and first with regard to the notable convention. They would not dare, in the other House, to have recourse 707 to strong measures without the consent of a certain party in that House, without whom, it was well known, they could do nothing. In order to obtain that consent, they were obliged to qualify the severity of the measure by a show of liberality and constitutional form, and therefore they proposed the convention. Government was found, in that House, allowing its own Bill to be handled and corrected by their opponents, and were obliged to con. sent to the striking out of what had been termed the only redeeming clause. Another sop which they were obliged to throw out to conciliate that party was the appointment of Lord Durham. He entertained a great respect for the character and talents of that noble Lord, but he begged leave, at the same time, to intimate a doubt whether that noble Lord was the properest man to settle a question of such a kind. He knew of only one reason, and that was that Lord Durham was a man of strong and even ultra-liberal opinions, one who had gone further than many in supporting the Government of the noble Viscount opposite, and in recommending changes of, as it appeared to him, a dangerous, or, at least, questionable character. That noble Earl had, of course, a right to entertain those opinions. But, being pledged to them, he was not precisely the proper person to carry out the measure. If he were a loyal inhabitant of Lower Canada, he should be disposed to look with great suspicion on the acts of such a person. If, on the other hand, he were a follower of Mr. Papineau, he might look upon the noble Lord as being made up of "squeezable materials." These were the points in respect of which they were not acting right in the affairs of Canada. With regard to the Bill itself, he wished some experiment had been made with a view to obviate or prevent the suspension of the constitution of Canada in the first instance. He himself was not sufficiently informed upon the subject, but no doubt the Government were in possession of sufficient information to enable them to judge. He must say, that he was not quite satisfied whether it would not be possible to have done without the suspension of the constitution, at least for so long a time as it was suspended by the Bill—whether it would not be possible to call the Canadian Legislature again together at an earlier period. He thought, if they had passed the Bill of 1831, coupled 708 with strong, vigorous, and decisive measures, and had, at that time, told the people of Canada, that their demands for an elective council were exorbitant and impracticable, and would be firmly resisted, that the present measure would hardly have been necessary. He felt himself compelled reluctantly to give his assent to the Bill. With respect to the principles on which the noble Viscount opposite had declared that the Government was to be conducted, in them he entirely concurred. It was their business to redress grievances, to do justice to all parties, and so to work the Bill, as that in process of time, and at an early period, a constitution might be produced, fitted to the state of society in Canada, and suited to its wants and interests. He confessed he did not expect a great deal from the mission of the noble Earl. He hoped, however, that it might be successful, and that the noble Earl would not forget the principles expressed by him in that House.
§ Lord Glenelg
, in reply, said, there was one circumstance in the speech of the noble Lord who had just sat down which he regretted very much. Notwithstanding that the debate hitherto had been characterised by an almost total absence of all party allusions, and had been conducted in a manner and with a spirit superior to all political animosities, that noble Lord had thought proper to mix up with his speech a great deal of party feeling and party observation. The noble Lord seemed to think that the noble Viscount (Viscount Melbourne) had failed in offering any answer to the charge brought against Government. He had paid a merited eulogium to the speech of the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen), to that of his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham), and to the powerful and conclusive speech of the noble Duke, and referred to the inadequate and feeble addresses of the noble Viscount. By a consequence, however, not very easily foreseen, the noble Lord thought it necessary to support that side which he considered triumphant, and which it could not be supposed he should have deemed essential to espouse. He (Lord Glenelg) must own that he differed from the noble Lord in his remark, that the noble Viscount bad not adverted to the points on which he was attacked. It seemed to him, that his noble Friend followed accurately the points of attack, and gave a satisfactory 709 answer to each. The noble Lord had said with respect to the ninety-two resolutions passed by the House of Assembly in 1834, that it was impossible not to see that the object of the House, or at least of its leaders, was either to create an independent republic, or to form a connexion with the United States. He was not disposed to think that their real object was to establish a connexion with the United States. Judging from subsequent events, and drawing an inference from the proceedings which had been since developed, be was rather disposed to say, that the real object was the formation of a great independent Canadian republic. But what was blame able in the conduct of the Government with reference to those resolutions of the Canadian House of Assembly? Lord Stanley either brought in, or announced a bill, which was not favourably received by the House of Commons. A Committee was then moved for by Lord Stanley, to whom were referred the ninety-two resolutions drawn up by the House of Assembly, with a view of determining what line of proceeding was to be adopted in respect to them. That Committee met, examined various witnesses, and came to a decision, which, though it might not have been pronounced before noble Lords went out of office, pointed out the course to be pursued in respect to those resolutions. He (Lord Glenelg) conceived that that decision gave as complete a negative as could be given to the charge of not bringing a Bill into Parliament. But the noble Lord who spoke last, and he who began stated their opinion that we were to blame with respect to Lord Gosford. That was a matter of opinion in which he entirely differed from the noble Lord. It was very easy to state an opinion and to heap invectives on those who opposed it; but if this were a question on which men might reasonably be supposed to act from the same honourable motives, then he must submit that such censure ought not to affect the Government. Under these circumstances, there certainly was ground at that period for inquiry. In 1832, the House of Assembly of Lower Canada thanked Government for what had been done; three years after they changed their resolution, and passed the ninety-two resolutions to which the noble Lord had adverted. It was evident there must be some reason for the change that re- 710 quired examination. Not thinking it proper to negative at once all the demands of the Legislative Council, the course of inquiry was determined upon. The noble and learned Lord complained of delay on that occasion. He (Lord Glenelg) denied that there had been any delay. The Commissioners did their duty with as much expedition as possible. "But," said the noble Lord, and the noble and learned Lord, "you ought at that time to have taken your stand on the elective principle." If they had, Lower Canada would have been in a much worse state, both interiorly and anteriorly, than it was at present. When Lord Gosford first went to Canada the seigneurs and men of large estates on both sides of the St. Lawrence, below Quebec, were connected with the Papineau party. If those individuals had taken a part in the occurrences of 1837 a very different result might have occurred. By their great influence they might have produced most disastrous consequences. They had, however, been perfectly tranquil. He put it to the noble Lords, whether the talents, and character, and weight of the individuals he had alluded to might not have been exceedingly injurious, had not Lord Goeford taken measures for separating them from the Pápineau cause, and rendering them faithful to the royal cause? Similar measures were resorted to with reference to the adjoining provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, in which considerable discontent and agitation prevailed; and some most important changes were effected in these provinces. He begged, however, not to be misunderstood. He was confident those provinces would never have taken any part in the recent insurrection. They had too high a spirit of loyalty for that. But there could be no doubt there was a greater analogy between their feelings and ours, that their affection for England was stronger than at the period to which he had alluded. These were some of the advantages derived from the course of inquiry which had been adopted; and, therefore, he considered the censure which had been cast upon Government on the subject, was a precipitate one. The question of the military defence of Canada had been much discussed both on the present and on a recent occasion. He might be allowed to observe with respect to that question that none of the authorities in Lower Canada, civil or mili- 711 tary, had the least suspicion that there was any danger of insurrection in the province. Nothing could give a stronger proof of their convictions upon that point than the fact that they had troops within their reach, and did not consider it necessary to make use of them. Troops were always within their reach, and an order was sent to the Governor of Nova Scotia to supply them with troops. On the 1st of June a demand was accordingly made, but it was only for one regiment. There was no further call made for a considerable time. Indeed, it was not till the end of October that two additional regiments were asked for of the Governor of Nova Scotia. It was not, therefore, a fair statement or a just representation of the fact, to say that the authorities of Lower Canada were left without the means of supplying themselves with troops if they needed them. They had such means amply within their reach. Besides, the presence of troops in Lower Canada would not have prevented the outbreak, which was premature. He believed that the leaders had encouraged the people in strong measures. He believed, however, that it was far from their intention to precipitate matters so soon, or to bring on the crisis at that particular moment. In the Upper Province also, Sir Francis Head had willingly divested himself of the troops placed at his disposal. Upon that subject he could not but offer his best thanks to the noble Duke opposite, for his excellent and statesmanlike view of the question as regarded the United States. It was satisfactory to know the friendly feeling existing upon the part of the government of the United States. He trusted that in conformity with an advice of so much weight, and coming from so distinguished a person, they would continue to give their attention to the subject in all its bearings, and to the various topics suggested in the noble Duke's speech. It would be very satisfactory to hear what effect recent occurrences had had on the American government. Of this he was confident that that Government would not take any step inconsistent with the faith of treaties. No official accounts bad yet been received of the unfortunate event connected with the destruction of an American steamer. Any unnecessary loss of life must always be lamented; but, as his noble Friend had observed, both nations were at present in a 712 state of perfect amity and concord, which he did not think it likely that any event of that nature would disturb. He was persuaded that the American government would not take any rash or hasty step upon the subject; and if it should turn out that we were to blame in the transaction, the English Government would not hesitate to show their sense of what was due from (hem. Much had been said with respect to the instructions that had been given to the noble Earl who was about to assume the government of Canada; and the subject had been argued as if the Committee of advice mentioned in those instructions were to possess legislative powers. But it was not proposed that that Committee should possess any legislative power. That appeared to him to be a complete answer to the noble Lord, who said that the Bill would nullify the instructions. The Committee of advice would in no way trench on the privileges of the Legislature. Their functions would be entirely separate from those of legislation. It, however, had appeared to be of importance that the Committee should be recognised in the instructions. But it had been argued as if the noble Earl must of necessity carry the suggestion in the instructions into effect. That would be in his option. If he found things in Canada as Government supposed, then this suggestion was offered to him. The noble Duke had said, that he thought it would be right in making any alterations in Canada, to consult the feelings of the people themselves. That was a sentiment that must be echoed by every one. The noble Duke had, however, observed that this measure would be an encroachment on the functions of the House of Assembly of Upper Canada. With great respect to the noble Duke, he could not see the matter in that light, and that precisely because, as he had already said, the proposed Committee of advice would not possess any legislative power. The whole object of their appointment was, that they might offer their suggestions to the Governor-General. After that advice had been given, if it were approved of, measures would be taken to carry it into effect, not by the Committee, but either by the Imperial Parliament, or by the local Legislatures. As for the preamble, although certain words had been excluded from it, the purport and substance of it was the same as before. It appeared to 713 him to be impossible to separate the interest of Upper and Lower Canada. They could not leave Upper Canada much longer in its present situation. The inhabitants of that province had at present no free outlet to the sea. They were in the midst of a great nation, whose means and power were gradually swelling into the highest importance. The people of Upper Canada were shut out from the ocean, except by the medium of that noble river which mocked them with the notion of free commerce, or by traversing the dominions of another nation which might not favour their objects. This could not long be allowed to continue. It was their duty to give Upper Canada relief. But how was that to be effected? Only by uniting the two provinces with reference to objects common to both. They must give the tipper province some influence with respect to that great river through which alone their commerce with the world could be carried on. That could not be done while the insulated state of Upper Canada was a barrier to the union of the common interests of both provinces. While that state continued, we might say to the people of Upper Canada, "We know your situation is irksome, we hear your remonstrances, we admit that your conduct is such as to entitle you to our favourable attention, but we cannot give you any relief." Justice, therefore, required that we should consider whether the province of Upper Canada had not a right to have a voice in regulating and superintending the navigation of the St. Lawrence. There were other subjects, such as canals, railroads, &c, in which the two provinces might be considered as having a common interest; but respecting which, in the present relations of those provinces, discontent and fretfulness on either side might increase day after day, until at last consequences injurious to both sides would occur. It had been well said by the noble Viscount, that we must so shape our course as to show that we contemplated the future grandeur and independence of those noble provinces. Far be it from them to shrink from such a contemplation. Let them do, with reference to those provinces, what justice, reason, and common sense dictated, and he would boldly predict that their attachment to this country, their sympathy in its interests, their exultation at its triumphs, would continue to exist when they were raised from provinces to nations, They 714 had no wish for that at present. But what he wished especially to impress on their Lordships, was the expediency, while they took into consideration the interests of Lower Canada, not to exclude the consideration of the interests of Upper Canada. Some idea had been thrown out of a federal union of all our North American states. That was a subject for deep and future deliberation; and therefore one on which no one should hastily pronounce.
§ The Duke of Wellington
, in explanation, stated, that he did not object to calling in any of the inhabitants of Upper Canada to join in consultation with reference to the affairs of Lower Canada, but to calling them in for purposes of legislation.
§ Lord Ashburton
expressed his opinion, that if any one thing was more important than another, it was, that care should be taken to show clearly what it was that the noble Earl about to proceed to Canada, was to do; for the people of that country would otherwise be jealous of his authority. Having attended all the Committees of the other House on the affairs of Canada, he (Lord Ashburton) had of course a general knowledge of the subject; but he would take another opportunity of stating his sentiments on the present question. He was persuaded, that up to a certain period the representations of grievances made by the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada, had been fair and honest. But those grievances had been remedied; and the remedy for some of them had even been put into the hands of the Legislative Assembly itself. Looking at all the circumstances that had transpired in the province of Lower Canada, it was impossible not to perceive that, beginning with real grievances, the people had been encouraged by the feebleness of the Government to think of a separation from the mother country, which, had their complaints in the first instance been fairly met, they would never have dreamed of. At that hour of the night he would not longer detain their Lordships, but in a subsequent stage of the bill he should be anxious to express his opinions more fully.
§ Bill read a second time.
§ Lord Brougham moved, that Mr. Roebuck be called in and heard, prior to the House resolving itself into Committee on Monday.
§ Motion agreed to.