735 moved the Order of the Day for hearing Mr. Roebuck at the bar of the House.
came to the bar, and said: I appear at your bar, my Lords, as agent of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, for the purpose of laying before you statements, and arguments thereon, which, in my belief, prove the impolicy and the injustice of a bill now pending in your Lordships' House, entitled, very falsely, in my opinion, "An Act for the better government of Lower Canada." This act is intended as a punishment; it not only attempts to provide for the future better government of Canada, but while it does so punishes my clients for supposed misdeeds. The necessity for this extraordinary measure is supposed to arise out of the conduct of the people of Lower Canada and their representatives. The difficulties which have existed in the government of Canada are asserted to have their origin in the desires of the House of Assembly, which house has been supported by the unanimous voice of their constituents. Their desires are presumed to be mischievous; and, therefore, rather than yield to them, it is proposed to deprive the people of a representative government—to reduce the hitherto self-governed inhabitants of our American province to the abject condition of an Hindoo serf. It proposes to take from them the right which every other people on that continent possesses, and, in place of their rights, to send them a dictator, to govern according to his arbitrary discretion. My duty, my Lords, upon this extraordinary and momentous proposal is two-fold. I have first to prove the injustice, next to point out the impolicy of this measure. I shall prove that it is unjust by disproving the assertion, that the House of Assembly has been guilty of the misdeeds laid to their charge. I shall prove that their conduct, so far from deserving any reprobation, has been just, firm, and prudent; that their demands are those which a wise and honest body of representatives ought strenuously to have insisted on, and that the measures which they have adopted to attain their ends have been such as the constitution sanctions—such as great prudence, forbearance, and an earnest desire for the well-being of their country demanded. Furthermore, I shall show, that the really guilty parties, they who have unwisely and wickedly checked the operations of government, and put a stop to all im- 736 provement in this magnificent province, are they who are instigating your Lordships to break in upon the established principles of representative government, by this violent, high-handed, and arbitrary proceeding. It will be my painful duty to show your Lordships, that if on any side there has been folly, haste, violence, procrastination, vacillation, ignorance, petulance, and unconstitutional proceedings, they have been manifested, not in the conduct of the Assembly, but in that of those who have resisted their just demands; and that among those who have chiefly evinced all these evil qualities, the colonial administrations, past and present, are eminently conspicuous. I shall not, my Lords, attempt to justify revolt; but I shall justify the Assembly, by showing that the unhappy insurrection in Lower Canada, which has been suppressed with a cruelty shameful to our national character, lies not at their door, but was the legitimate offspring of the folly, and the ignorance, and the injustice which seem to be the necessary adjuncts and appendages of our colonial administration. If I shall succeed in these attempts, my case as to the injustice of this measure will be fully made out, and it will be plain to your Lordships that the real culprits nearer at hand are about to escape, while the innocent who are distant are to be treated as the guilty. I shall then attempt to make your Lordships aware of the great impolicy of this measure, by pointing out a means of allaying all discontent in Canada, and providing for the regular and peaceful administration of the government, means far more efficacious, more constitutional, and less revolting to the feelings of all men accustomed to representative government, than the proposed dangerous experiment. I will, with your Lordships' leave, submit to you a scheme which, while it will secure peace for the present, will also provide security for the future; and while I do all this, I shall endeavour to show that the proposed scheme is one of unmingled mischief, and that the noble Lord who is about to attempt to carry it into execution will find all his good intentions frustrated, all his hopes of peace dashed to the ground, by the suspension of the Canadian constitution; that the government of force which he is about to institute can never, while the colony is ours, be succeeded by a government of law; that, in short, we are blindly preparing for a violent disruption 737 of the empire, and that we shall after this fatal measure is passed, hold Canada by the sword, and maintain our dominion only so long as an overwhelming military force overrides and represses the indignant desires of an injured and insulted people. Before I attempt a defence of the House of Assembly, however, I must accurately ascertain that of which they are accused; and this, in reality, constitutes the most difficult portion of my task. For, amidst the wild farrago that has been spoken and written, it is hard to tell what has been put forth as matter of serious charge. Much has been asserted with base motives, and for base purposes; prejudices degrading to our nature have been constantly, and I fear but too successfully, appealed to, in order to persuade the English people to sanction a tyranny that they would not for a moment tolerate were they in the perfect possession of their reason, undisturbed by passion. Falsehood, too, has been lavishly employed to the same unrighteous end. The wildest stories, the foulest calumnies, have been unhesitatingly used to blacken the character of the Assembly, and to induce the people of this country to look upon them as a factious set of unprincipled demagogues. This calumny has taken every shape—speech, book, pamphlet, essay, sermon, and poem; it has graced the harangues of Ministers, and been employed and echoed by their servile dependents; nevertheless, however great the authority, still it was calumny, and I must endeavour to find something more definite and precise than these vague and flagitious assertions. It would seem that the volumes of vituperation which have issued upon this subject may be reduced to three distinct assertions:—1. It is asserted that the House of Assembly has unwarrantably stopped the supplies, and thus put an end to all the operations of Government. 2. It is said, that the people, or rather a portion of them have risen in revolt at the instigation of the Assembly. 3. It is declared that the large French majority of Lower Canada have oppressed the very small English minority of the inhabitants; and these three charges or assertions are supposed a sufficient justification for the extraordinary proceeding which your Lordships are now called upon to sanction—namely, the utter subversion of their present constitution and a destruction of the most valued rights of the people. But, my Lords, I, on the other hand, assert, 738 that each and every charge which I have just now stated is utterly false, and I shall at once proceed to prove that on the occasions on which the Assembly have stopped the supplies they were completely justified in so doing, and that they are not the parties who are chargeable with having checked and arrested the operations of Government, also that there is no evidence that the House of Assembly are in any way guilty of instigating the people to revolt. I will prove the outbreak to have been an outburst of mere passion, at the sight of gross injustice and tyranny, perpetrated under the eyes of the people, and I will then disprove the last recited charge or calumny—viz., that there has been any oppression of the English by the French inhabitants of Lower Canada. Your Lordships are doubtless aware, that the connexion between the mother country and her North American colonies has ever been attended with disputes and bickerings which not unfrequently broke out into violent and dangerous quarrels. The mother country, on the one hand, sought to obtain unlimited dominion over her distant possessions, while the colonies on the other, endeavoured to establish a self government as little dependent as possible on the metropolis. The people of New England, for example, set out with asserting that they were an independent people, subject to the Crown of England, and only voluntarily bound by charter to make no laws opposed to those of England. While these colonies were poor, and struggling for their very existence—while, in fact, they yielded no fertile field for official patronage, their high pretensions excited no displeasure, because the colonies themselves were matters of no consideration. When, however, the colonies became rich and extensive, then, indeed, the attention of England was awakened, and they were compelled by the superior force of the mother country to abate somewhat of their high tone, and submit to material and exceedingly painful restrictions upon their free will. The navigation laws were passed and trade restrictions imposed; and to these restraints the colonies submitted, with an ill grace, nevertheless, still asserting openly and fiercely their exclusive right to regulate their internal concerns. The exact line, however, was never drawn, defining what the mother country could nut, w hat she could do, by way of supervision and control. The colonies did, in fact, regulate all their internal affairs, 739 and in the case of all the New England states, which created and have ever guided the political creed of the new world, they actually elected and paid the greater part of their executive officers. The time at length came when England chose to have a share in the executive, and royal Governors were appointed. This no sooner happened than the quarrel commenced which is now actually raging in Canada. All the Executive were exceedingly averse to being responsible to the colonial Assemblies, and they were constantly persuading the metropolitan Government, that such responsibility was dangerous to the supremacy of England. To the colonial authorities of America, such responsibility was exceedingly obnoxious, because it had one very disagreeable consequence. When the people were displeased with the conduct of the Executive, they were accustomed to curtail their salaries. These salaries were at the outset completely under the control of the Assemblies, who decided on their amount, and who voted them annually. In the reign of Anne, however, the Governors were ordered to demand of the various Assemblies, fixed salaries for themselves, the judges, and certain executive officers. This demand was peremptorily refused by the Assemblies of some of the colonies, and to all gave great offence. The dispute went on from year to year, till at length it was brought to a close for a time in New England by the complete success of the Assemblies, who pertinaciously refused this demand of a permanent civil list. And if any of your Lordships have a curiosity to learn upon what grounds this demand was refused by our own purely English colonies, they will find them stated in an address passed by the Assembly of Massachusetts to the then Governor, Mr. Burnett, in the year 1728. The official party, however, did not approve of this settlement of the dispute; they still harped upon the old string, endeavouring to persuade the Ministers of the Crown to insist upon a permanent civil list. At length, their ingenuity suggested a means of making the affair which so deeply interested themselves, interest also the Ministry; they pointed out to the Ministry a new source of revenue, and speciously pretended that America, because she ought to pay for her own safety, and security, and good government, ought to submit to be taxed for these purposes by the Parliament of Great Britain. In an evil hour Mr. Grenville listened to these suggestions, and he 740 brought forward his too famous Stamp Act, expressly to provide means for the security and good government of the colonies. The colonies resisted this attempt, and for the moment it was foregone; the Stamp Act was repealed; with a declaration, however, that Parliament had supreme authority in all cases. In America this was thought merely a salvo to soothe fallen pride, and was, therefore, disregarded. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. C. Townshend, quickly acted upon this declaration by laying a tax on various articles of trade imported into America, expressly for the purpose of paying fixed and certain salaries to the judges and governors. This measure also raised up violent opposition; so much so, that it was repealed with the exception of a tax of 3d. a-pound on tea, the proceeds of which were also to be applied to the same purpose. In 1774 a cargo of tea was sent to Boston, was violently seized by the people, and thrown into the sea. This proceeding led to the famous Boston Port Bill, and also, by an ominous coincidence, to an Act for the better regulating the government of Massachusetts, and this Act produced the American revolution. I have thus hastily reminded your Lordships of these well known facts, in order that you may contrast the patient forbearance of the Assembly of Lower Canada, in circumstances precisely similar, with the heat and passion of the Assembly of Massachusetts. These last, when threatened with a permanent civil list, broke out into open and eventually successful rebellion, while the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, when threatened with the same calamity, demanded, before they submitted to the desires of the colonial Administration, that they should be relieved from an evil which America refused to bear—viz., a House of Legislature which was responsible to no one, and which had no interests in common with the people. The Act for the better government of Massachusetts transformed the Second Chamber from being one elected by the people to one nominated by the Crown. The threat of this change produced war and dismemberment of the empire. The patient people of Canada have borne the same evil for half a century; and at last, when everybody has condemned this Council—when Parliamentary Committees, Royal Commissioners, Parliament itself, have declared that change was necessary, the House of Assembly does what?—de- 741 clares war? no; rebels? no; but modestly employs a constitutional power, and, under circumstances of great provocation, stops the supplies for two consecutive seasons; and then what happens? Why, Parliament, wholly regardless of past experience, contemning the solemn sanction of two most momentous Acts of Parliament, violates the constitution of the people of Canada, by determining to rob their Exchequer. Shortly after, a riot or revolt occurs in one particular district of Lower Canada, and you now, without further consideration, are called upon utterly to destroy the constitution of 1791. Is this, my Lords, a true history? Let me shortly run over the facts, and then say, if it be not true to the letter, and then ask yourselves what mankind will say in after times when they shall read the two histories which I have ventured to lay before you, and compare the different fortunes of the United States and of Lower Canada. Although the people of Canada received their constitution in 1791, and the whole of their revenues were nominally subjected to the control of the Assembly in 1794 still the expenses of the civil government were paid by England up to the year 1816. In the year 1774 Parliament passed an Act imposing certain duties upon goods imported into Canada from England and her colonies—exactly like those duties which in that very year caused a revolution in America. From the proceeds of those duties (Canada having patiently submitted to our taxation), and from certain revenues derived from territorial sources, the expenses of the civil government were provided for. When the Assembly inquired what the expenses were, the answer always was, "You need not trouble yourselves about the matter, as England pays everything." The Assembly being well aware that much money was paid by the Canadians in the shape of duties and territorial dues, humbly asked in 1816 to be allowed to pay their own expenses. Up to this time the old quarrel which I have described as going on in our English Colonies had lain dormant; because, in reality, there was no responsibility to the Assembly on the part of the official people of Canada. When, however, in 1816, the offer of the House of Assembly to pay its own expenses was accepted, then was the old demand of a permanent civil list revived by the colonial authorities, and refused by the colonial Assembly. In America, the Governors had 742 themselves, on this refusal on the part of the Assemblies, arrested the business of Government by using the various powers they possessed. But in Canada this office was performed by the Legislative Council. This Council in the old colonies was elective, and did not therefore obstruct the desires of the people; but in Canada, being appointed by the Crown for life, and being moreover, the chief part of the Executive, they checked all the operations of the Legislature by opposing the Bills passed by the Assembly, which were of chief moment to the colony, and for the passing of which the people were most anxious. The consequence of these proceedings on the part of the Council, and certain arbitrary conduct on the part of the Government, was petitions from the people of Lower Canada to the Imperial Parliament in the year 1828. This year of 1828 is a remarkable epoch in the history of Canada, to which I must entreat your Lordships' most serious attention. The people in their petitions alleged various grievances, among which the most remarkable were the following:—First, An arbitrary taking and employment of their monies out of the provincial chest, and the payment of the public servants by the Governor, without the sanction of the Assembly. Second, A mischievous opposition on the part of the Legislative Council to all beneficial legislation. Third, And an improper dependence of the judges upon the Executive, inasmuch as they, the judges, were judges simply during the pleasure of the Crown. And they prayed, as a remedy for these grievances, that the Governor should be recalled, and the law steadily adhered to, which commanded, that no money is to be applied without their consent, and that all the revenues should be subjected to the immediate and complete control of the House of Assembly. Next, they prayed for a change in the composition of the Legislative Council, so that it might be made to harmonise with the general feelings of the great body of the people; and, lastly, that the judges should hold their offices during good behaviour, and be subject to impeachment before some competent tribunal. The whole of these allegations respecting their grievances were fully proved before the Committee of the House of Commons to which the Canadian petitions were referred, and the Committee deemed their various demands so reasonable as most explicitly to recommend the chief of them to the House, as 743 fit remedies for their grievances, and they earnestly advised, that the Legislative Council should be changed, so that it might be more independent and be made to deserve the confidence of the people; they, without ambiguity, recommended that the whole of the revenues of the province should be subject to the control of the colonial legislature, and they condemned, in very pointed terms, the manner in which the colony had been governed. In consequence of this report from the Committee of the House of Commons, great expectations were created in the province, and these expectations, in certain cases, took a definite shape, because of the words of the Committee's Report. First, it was confidently hoped, that a very thorough change would be made in the Legislative Council, and, being so made, it was hoped that it would be an effective tribunal of impeachment, that the judges should hold their offices during good behaviour, and, under this hope, the Assembly determined to grant them permanent salaries; and, lastly, it was now confidently expected, that all the revenues, without reserve, would be submitted to the control of the Colonial Legislature. Your Lordships must bear in mind that the chief hope, that on which all the others rested, was, that a thorough and searching change was to be made in the Legislative Council. And I would beg of you here to remark the remarkable prudence and forbearance of the House of Assembly. They did not rush headlong after change, and for certain defined grievances demand wide and startling reforms. The proposed change was just enough, in their belief, to cover the acknowledged evil; all that they asked in this first instance was, that the composition of the Council should be changed, believing that the home authorities had sufficient knowledge of the country, and sufficient good will towards it, to know the right men to put into the Council, and knowing, to put them into that body. The event belied their expectations—changes were made in that body—all the judges except the chief justice were requested to abstain from using their privilege of legislative councillors, but no precaution was taken by law to prevent them going down to the Council at any critical period, and overwhelming any opposition. Next, additions were also made to the Assembly, but these at once proved one of two things—either that the Minister at home did not possess sufficiently accurate knowledge 744 of the characters of the leading men in the country, or that, if he did, he was not willing to employ it so as to satisfy the people. The Council now did not, to use the language of the Committee of the House of Commons, deserve the confidence of the people. To show your Lordships, however, the anxiety felt by the Assembly to perform all that depended on them, to make the Government such as was required for the well-being of the people, and to prove to you, also, their confidence in the justice of the English Ministry, I must here mention one fact that is usually slurred over by the opponents of the Assembly. In spite of the old colonial dread of fixed salaries, the House did, in Feb, 1832, pass a Bill appointing permanent salaries for the judges; and they, at the same time, constituted the Legislative Council, a tribunal of impeachment. This was done in the confidence they felt that a real and effective change in that body was intended. I will here, with your Lordships' permission, read Lord Aylmer's dispatch respecting this measure, and his speech to the Legislature on the same subject. [The learned gentleman proceeded to read the dispatch.] It commenced by stating, that the writer, on the 15th of December, 1831, had the honour of communicating to his Lordship a message, sent down by him to the House of Assembly, calling upon them, in obedience to his Lordship's directions, to make a permanent provision for the salaries of the judges of Lower Canada. The message was referred to a Committee, who brought up a report on the 28th of December. That report was taken into consideration by a Committee of the whole House, and it was resolved by a majority of five, the numbers being thirty-four against twenty-nine, that the whole of the judges should be disqualified from having seats in the Legislative Council, no exception being made in favour of the chief justice. The exclusion of the chief justice would, under the instructions of his Lordship, render it impossible to sanction a Bill containing such provisions, but when it was again discussed, the objectionable clause was lost by a majority of thirty-four against twenty-four. The Bill for making the Legislative Council into a court of impeachment, passed the House of Assembly by thirteen to forty-two. The Bill subsequently passed the Legislative Council without a dissentient voice, and it was taken to be a sign of a good disposition on 745 the part of the House of Assembly. With regard to the chief judge having a seat in the Council, that question was given up for a time. The Bill did not receive the royal assent, because Lord Aylmer conceived it to be contrary to the instructions upon which he was acting Yet he used these remarkable words in his dispatch:—"At the same time I take leave, with the utmost submission, to recommend the Bill to the most favourable consideration of his Majesty." And the grounds upon which he made that recommendation was, "That in my opinion, at no time can we reasonably expect that we will get a Bill passed, or the dispute settled upon such favourable terms." Then, with respect to the same Bill, the same Governor said, "I cannot avoid noticing the Bill for establishing the independence of the judge. I think it necessary, at the same time, to inform you, that, although the principle of this Bill coincides altogether with the views of his Majesty's Government, it contains one or two provisions that impose on me reservation until I know his Majesty's pleasure." Lord Aylmer's prediction was verified, the Bill was rejected, and has never since been passed. Many things now concurred to create discontent and distrust on the part of the Assembly. The changes in the Council gave great offence; and a new claim was put forward, spite of the recommendations of the Committee of the House of Commons, and spite of former usage, to the exclusive supervision by the executive, of the casual and territorial revenues. Your Lordships have heard what Lord Aylmer says on the subject of those revenues, and it cannot but be a matter of deep regret, that such a claim should, under such circumstances, and at such a period, have been put forward. Nevertheless, for the year 1832, a Bill of supply was passed, though the House distinctly and firmly refused any further permanent provision for the executive. In May of this year, 1832, a most calamitous riot occurred in Montreal; the troops interfered, and three Canadians, who were proved to have taken no part in the disturbances, were shot. When the Assembly met in session, a long inquiry commenced respecting this unfortunate affair. Great offence was taken at the conduct of the executive, and the general feeling now was, that justice, even with annual salaries, was with great difficulty obtained by the people, but that, with permanent ones, justice would be impossible. This ill tem- 746 per was greatly aggravated by the conduct of the Legislative Council, which, at this time, took occasion to insult the House of Assembly; and by its continuance in the old plan of rejecting measures useful to the province, proved its spirit to be the same as heretofore. The ill-humour of the Assembly was not improved by the conduct of the Government respecting the civil list. In consequence of the Assembly's refusal to provide permanent salaries for the Governor and certain executive officers, the Colonial Minister determined no longer to ask the Assembly to furnish salaries for those functionaries, but took the proceeds of certain revenues, hitherto always submitted to the control of the Assembly, and out of them determined to pay the Governor and these executive officers. If your Lordships will put together and so arrange these various particular causes of discontent, as to see them all in one group, you will fully understand the state of feeling on the part of the Assembly. First, they found the old grievance of the Legislative Council was continued in all its pristine vigour. They believed that they saw good reasons for coming to the conclusion that justice would not be administered to the people fairly and impartially in matters of dispute between the executive and the people. They also saw the Colonial Minister pressing for permanent salaries for officers already, too independent, and, because refused, violently appropriating revenues which, by long usage, as well as by the solemn declaration of a Committee of the House of Commons, had been entirely under their own control. The natural conclusion from all these proceedings in their minds was, that there was a determination on the part of the executive to free themselves from the wholesome control to which, by the constitution, they were subject; and the Assembly very naturally, and in my opinion very wisely, applied itself to the task of strengthening that responsibility on the part of the public servants, by which alone good service is secured. But to effect this did they, as did the people of the united English colonies on their continent, declare war or rebel? No, my Lords, they employed the peaceful constitutional means in their power; they refused permanent supplies, and again petitioned Parliament to redress their grievances. Nevertheless, again in 1833, they passed the supplies for the year, attaching cer- 747 tain conditions to their grant, by which mischievous pluralities were prevented. This Supply Bill of 1833 the Legislative Council refused to pass; and thus began that war of refusals, of which such complaints are daily made. When the House met in 1834, seeing that the Legislative Council had refused the last year's supplies, and believing that this year also the Council would reiterate their refusal, the Assembly did not provide supplies, but resolved to petition Parliament for redress, and their chief demand was for an elective Legislative Council. But I must earnestly entreat your Lordships to remember that this is the first of the two solitary instances of refusal of supplies by the Assembly; I shall soon have to speak of the second. It may be thought, my Lords, that I have a delicate task to perform, while I defend this demand for an elective council before your Lordships. Many pretended friends of your Lordships' House, have endeavoured, by a forced analogy, to persuade the people of England that the Legislative Council, being a second chamber, is the House of Lords of Canada. I, however, will not pay you the ill compliment to make any such comparison. My opinions respecting any species of irresponsible legislative body are well known, and need not here be repeated; but, whatever be those opinions, I never for an instant was so blind as not to see the enormous difference that exists between an aristocracy, properly so called, and a body of men selected by one will at hazard almost from amongst the people, and endowed with legislative functions. An aristocracy is a social distinction, it is the growth of ages; it results from ancient national peculiarities; it cannot be brought into existence at a moment, or at the will of any man. Power may create a legislative body, and give them exclusive privileges, but power cannot create an aristocracy. Wealth may build a wall, but no extent of riches can produce suddenly an avenue of full-grown trees. The last is the long product of natural causes—the growth of ages, and not the work of an hour. Your Lordships are what you are, not by any one man's will—a breath has not made, neither can it unmake you. The institution of this Hone is sanctioned by time and by opinion—it is supported by the respect always paid to antiquity, and by large territorial possessions. Strip the peers of their possessions—strip them of the prestige which 748 attends them in consequence of their ancient history—reduce each one of you to the position of an obscure, poor, name-lt ss individual—then fancy yourselves suddenly called together by an Act of Parliament, in direct opposition to the people's wishes—then, my Lords, but not till then, will the comparison hold between this House and the Legislative Council of Lower Canada. Your Lordships' strongest support is the national opinion, but in Canada the national opinion is against this body of hungry and irresponsible nameless legislators. And the House of Assembly only speaks the unanimous voice of its constituents when it demands, that in place of this unknown and untrustworthy body, they should be favoured with a respectable and worthy band of legislators, supported by the approbation of the nation at large. This is, my Lords, their view, and to me it appears a wise and prudent one, of an elective Legislative Council. In Canada, there are no elements for an aristocracy; this is acknowledged by all men who know that country, and experience has shown that you cannot force an aristocracy as you would force a cucumber. Why then cling to the dead and empty form, and reject the only principle which gives vitality and strength to this institution? That principle is election—for this the Assembly contended; and because they took the path which wisdom pointed out, we are about to punish them, by reducing them and their countrymen to the condition of slaves. But, my Lords, I am not justified in thus seeking excuses for my clients; my duty requires that I should take higher ground, and boldly assume, that unless they had made a demand for an elective Legislative Council they would have betrayed their trust, their honour, and their country. You, my Lords, as I have already said, derive your best title from the nation's approval of your institution; but in Canada the national opinion is entirely against this Legislative Council, and they who called themselves the representatives of the people did no more than what their bare duty demanded when they gave expression to the national will. Experience had taught the people that it was Useless to expect any beneficial change in the body at the hands of governors 3,000 miles off, and they, therefore, failing in their first proposal of reform, were bound to endeavour to frame another, and what so natural as that they should adopt one 749 under which the old colonies flourished, and grew powerful, and which they daily-see produces innumerable benefits to their neighbours, the Americans? Looking to the past history of the American colonies, they learned that for nearly two centuries elective councils had existed in the most flourishing and powerful of the English colonies. Such being the fact, they could not anticipate that English statesmen now-a-days would gravely assert that such an institution was inconsistent with the relation of colony and mother country. What! is it impossible, when under it the most extensive colonies England ever possessed lived happily and peaceably; and that while it existed these colonies proved, by a prodigal effusion of their blood, and expenditure of their treasure in the cause of England, their attachment to her name and dominion? The Canadians, therefore, without hesitation adopted this precedent, and sought by the sanction of antiquity to conciliate opposition. They were mistaken; authority was disregarded when interest was endangered. Official people admire the wisdom of ancient times, and patronise Conservative doctrines only so long as they are likely to gain more by retaining an institution than by changing it. Show them some personal advantage to be derived form change, and there can be found none so daring, so reckless, in their desires and attempts at alteration. The men who shrink with affected horror from remodeling the constitution of the Legislative Council, without trembling and without compunction, do at one fell swoop carry off the entire constitution. They dread to touch a part, but exultingly destroy the whole. The House of Assembly could not foresee, that inconsistency would be so bold; neither could they believe that any serious objection would be made to the adoption of a plan which had, for so many years, existed in full operation in our most favoured colonies. It is said, however, that it was unjustifiable in the Assembly to use their constitutional power to obtain an organic reform. What, my Lords, do I hear this dangerous argument used by men of so called Conservative opinions? The wildest fanatic for revolutionary change never propounded a more destructive principle. What is the meaning of this statement? This, if it mean anything:—You are not to seek great reforms by peaceful means. All changes that are trifling, and not likely to agitate the whole body of society—these 750 you may pursue by quiet and legal means; but when you seek such extensive reforms as to excite all minds, to raise up a hope or fear in every heart—when the angry passions are most excitable—then you are to forego methods of peace, and modes of constitutional action. If you are determined on reform, it behoves you to seek it by arms, by violence. Are these counsels wise in these times of social, and genera), and very dangerous excitement? Is it not far more prudent to accustom men wholly to such peaceful modes of action—to dissuade them from ever looking to the adoption of violent and physical means for attaining great moral ends? Such, however, is not the advice or the creed of those who tell us that organic changes are not to be sought by constitutional means. They who blame the Assembly for adopting the peaceful means within their power, are the most vehement and successful preachers of violence and rebellion. A nation suffering under abuses will not fail, will not cease, to try to get rid of them. The desire and the hope of reform you cannot prevent: it is the height of wickedness and folly to force these desires into dangerous courses—to bid men be hopeless of relief from moral power. The Assembly of Lower Canada, however, were truly Conservative. They followed in the well-known and well-marked tracks of the constitution, and adopted the method of redress which Parliament had of aforethought placed in their hands; by which placing I assert, my Lords, that we are estopped, to use a legal phrase—we gave them with our eyes open a discretionary power, and we are not justified in quarrelling with their use of it. But it is asserted, and by high authorities, that by the conduct of the House of Assembly the constitution of Lower Canada was in reality suspended, and that, therefore, this measure is needed. Now, in answer, I will first prove that the assertion is wholly unfounded. The constitution has not been suspended by the Assembly. So much for the premises; but next, as to the conclusion, I will endeavour to make it manifest that none such accurately follows-In the history of Canadian grievances which I have ventured to lay before you, I have arrived at the demand made by the Assembly in the year 1834. In that year, they embodied their grievances in ninety-two resolutions, and sent agents home to lay their complaints before Parliament. A Committee was appointed to inquire into the truth of their allegations, but this 751 Committee never came to any determination respecting the matter, in consequence of the Ministerial difficulties which induced Lord Stanley to resign the office of Secretary for the Colonies, and placed Mr. Rice in his stead. Mr. Rice was anxious, as he said, not to be hampered by any determinations of the Committee, and he requested the Canadian agents, and myself, to allow the Committee to close without asking for a decision; promising, at the same time, loosely and vaguely, that his future proceedings as to Canada should be favourable. One solemn promise he made, the breach of which led to the second refusal and last refusal of supplies, and that was, not to pay the arrears of salary which the Assembly had not provided for: he professed great horror of any such encroachment upon the privileges of the Assembly, and great respect and attachment to the peculiar doctrines of our constitution concerning the appropriation of money by the Commons. The agents, at my request (for which request I most sincerely entreat pardon from the people of Canada), put faith in the right hon. Gentleman's professions and promises; yet we had hardly left his office, when despatches were sent to Lord Aylmer, ordering him to pay thirty-one thousand and odd pounds of salaries in arrear. The governor obeyed his instructions, and also with like obedience did, when the Assembly again met, demand of them to pay all the arrears of salary, together with the money which he had advanced. The Assembly, naturally irritated, refused compliance; they for the second and last time refused the supplies, saying, "We will again appeal to the Parliament of England, and ask whether they sanction such conduct," and they again strenuously insisted upon their demand of an elective Legislative Council. Before I proceed in my history, I would request your Lord-ships to mark well, and to reprobate, the example which I have here laid before you of a very dangerous, but very common, system at the present time. What could any man expect to be the consequence of conduct such as I have described—conduct little worthy of the high station of Colonial Minister—in fact, I know no honest station that would not be degraded by it? But I call your attention to it, as part of a disingenuous and dangerous system, which has throughout been followed with respect to this unfortunate affair. The people of Canada have not been fairly dealt with. The Minister has constantly, by ambigu- 752 ous language, raised hopes intentionally which he never intended to satisfy. In the very case before you, Mr. Rice made the agents believe, he made me believe, that he was about to pursue a course wholly unlike that of his predecessor. He intended by his language to raise this belief in our minds, while he endeavoured to screen himself by an ambiguous phraseology, which, with Old Bailey ingenuity, was to be used and explained upon fitting occasion. But neither he nor his successor ever seemed to consider what the result would be upon the minds of the colonists; the difficulty of the present time was staved off, and the future was left to take care of itself. To this disingenuous conduct, however (I will give it no harsher name), much of the discontent that arose can easily be traced. Hopes were raised only to be disappointed; disappointment brought anger; and anger brought resistance. It was so in the present case. The hopes of the Assembly had been raised by the language held by the Minister to their agents. Their disappointment was bitter, when they learned what his conduct had been. They considered themselves insulted—first, by the trickery of the proceeding, then by the interference thus openly practised with affairs wholly and peculiarly subject to their own control, and they indignantly applied to Parliament for redress. My Lords, you all know the history of the latter part of the year 1834. The Ministry was suddenly changed, and, as usual, a change took place in the colonial rule. Lord Aberdeen succeeded to Mr. Rice. That noble Lord determined to send a Commissioner to Canada for the purpose of inquiry and redress; but before he could carry his design into effect, the Ministry was again changed, and the unfortunate colonies had again to undergo a change of masters. The present Minister, Lord Glenelg, then came into office; he seized upon this idea of a Commission, and multiplied the numbers of the Commissioners, making them three instead of one. Lord Aylmer was removed also; Lord Gosford took his situation, and filled at the same time the somewhat incongruous offices of Governor and Commissioner. The system of deceit was now in full force; every possible method of cajolery and mystification was practised, and again hopes were raised, intentionally raised, which the Ministry were determined never to satisfy. I will not now stop, my Lords, to describe the low and degrading 753 arts employed to trap the Assembly into voting the supplies. It was my duty to set this whole history before the public of England. I have done it fully once, and I leave willingly, and for ever the humiliating subject. Suffice it to say, that in spite of their arts and mean devices, Sir Francis Head whose etourderie has hitherto been farcical, though it has lately led to tragical results, published his instructions, and thereby discovered the intentions of the colonial Minister, and the deception practised upon the Assembly of Lower Canada. The Assembly, therefore, refused for the present, to pay the arrears due to the public officers. But in order to prevent further inconvenience, they voted a six months' supply, and again appealed to the Parliament of England. At this period of my argument), I must request you, my Lords, to take a retrospect view of this history. At the outset, I told you that if there had been ill conduct, such as deceit, vacillation, non-fulfilment of engagements, petulance, and low arts of deception and intrigue, I would show the Assembly not to be the guilty parties, but that I would fasten the guilt chiefly upon the agents of the Crown. Have I not fulfilled my promise? You are constantly told that the people of Canada had, since the year 1828, had all their grievances redressed, and yet I have proved to you that in spite of all sorts of boastful promises and professions, the great grievances complained of in 1828 still remain. The Legislative Council was as bad as ever; the judges were still wholly dependent, on the Crown, thus poisoning justice at its very source; the revenues, the growing revenues, of ' the country, were withdrawn from the control of the Assembly, while the only step towards reformation, was the performance in 1831, of a promise made in 1794. But these three great grievances, the parent source of all the sufferings and all the complaints of the Canadians, were the grand subjects of complaint in 1828. They still remained in their pristine vigour; and yet are we told that all was redressed! But during this period, what was the conduct of the Assembly? Did they act in heat and with passion? Did they call in question the dominion of the mother country? Did they, like our English colonies, prepare for armed resistance? No, my Lords, they did none of these things, but they said, "We are tired of this state of oppression, we have the constitutional power of regulating the supplies, and, 754 although we will carry on the government, we will not recede from our demands, will not concede to our opponents that which they seek to tear from us, before we learn the definite determination of the Imperial Parliament." Did this conduct deserve punishment—was there here any abuse of power? How can any one assert that by such proceedings the constitution was suspended? Peaceably, calmly, the Assembly appealed to the great governing principle of that constitution, and waited with confidence to see them produce their legitimate effects by the assistance of the Imperial Legislature. The expectations of the Assembly were, however, doomed to a bitter disappointment. I now arrive at the eventful period 1837, and the Parliamentary proceedings respecting the Canadian difficulties. The Commissioners of the Crown sent home voluminous reports, which are in every one's hands. I will not now stop to describe them. They have been condemned by all parties, and need not my helping hand to consign them to their due place in history. But now came the grand determination of the Ministers, which may be briefly described thus:—They flatly refused to amend the Legislative Council by the mode of election. They gravely asserted that the Legislative Council required reform, and they thereupon determined to seize upon the money of the colony lying in the provincial treasury, and to apply it as they thought fit. Here was the first, the most flagrant, violent, breach of the constitution—a breach, too, of solemn promises made in acts of Parliament—promises made expressly to our North American colonies and expressly on this very point of application of the provincial funds. We never, even before our experience gathered in the American revolution, dared to try so bold an experiment upon the patience and forbearance of any colony. Here was collected together under acts passed in reliance upon England's honour, money the produce of three years' taxation. Safe, as the people of Canada believed, because guarded by the authority, and sanction, and guarantee of this country, they slept secure, although their treasure was in the hands of others, because they believed those others to be honest as well as powerful, and because they had our pledged faith and honour that we would never appropriate it without their approval. Alas! alas! for England's honour—alas! for our character for common prudence, for common honesty! 755 When we passed those fatal resolutions, we set a dangerous and fatal example of disregard of public faith and of public morals. We shook all men's faith in the most solemn compacts, and taught our subjects to believe that whatever we had the power to do we should believe that we had the right; that we placed ourselves above all moral rules, and decided upon our proceedings solely with reference to our own immediate power and expediency. Let us not, then, complain if others do as we have done, and imitate but too successfully the example we have set. Remark, however, the forbearance, the prudence, and the firmness of the Assembly at this pressing juncture. America, under circumstances far less exasperating, had at once rebelled and successfully resisted our attempts to assert our dominion. The kind feelings of the Canadians were not so easily shaken. Although their near neighbourhood to the United States rendered their situation in case of preconcerted and deliberate revolt, far more hopeful than was that of America formerly, still they did not call out for rebellion, or prepare for resistance. They believed that the strife would be one of no ordinary horror, and they shrank from the responsibility of beginning it. Still they determined not to yield wholly and without compromise; but they did determine, seeing the determination of Parliament for the present to forego their desire of an Elective Council, provided that the promise of reform contained in the resolutions of the two Houses of Parliament was fulfilled. The people, however, determined to try what they could do by legal means to shake the resolution of the mother country. They said—"If you determine not to do us justice, we are not bound to be your commercial customers, and we will learn to depend upon our own resources." In imitation of the Americans in 1774, non-intercourse was established, and they also resolved to settle all differences by arbitration of judges appointed by themselves. These last resolutions were of the people, be it remembered. The Assembly met in August, 1837, and to their astonishment they found the Governor asking them for money, threatening them with the resolutions of the Parliament if they refused it; and at the same time they discovered, that he had done nothing to soften the rigour of this proceeding by fulfilling the promise of reforming the Legislative Council. Their answer to this 756 demand was—"Perform the promise of reform, and then ask us for money; until that promise is fulfilled we cannot entertain your demand." Had that promise been fulfilled in its true spirit, I am prepared to prove by evidence at your bar that it was the intention of the Assembly to have voted the supplies. I will adduce this evidence, and your Lordships shall judge whether they who through negligence or some worse reasons did not obey the commands of Parliament, are the persons who ought to be accusers in this matter—whether the accused are not the innocent—whether the accusers be not the offending parties. I here solemnly charge the Minister of the Crown, the Secretary for the Colonies, with being the author of all the calamities which have resulted from this fatal betrayal of his duty. Whether it was indolence, incapacity, heedlessness, neglect, or intentional disregard of duty, it is not for me to inquire. I see the result, I know the cause, and I call on you, my Lords, if you seek to punish the guilty, if you desire to make answerable those who have disturbed the peace of the empire, have led to the slaughter of her peaceful subjects, have introduced the horrors and calamities of war into the peaceful vales of Canada, to look to the culprit who sits beside you. Call on the Minister of the Crown to answer this charge, and do not, I entreat you, add to the misery already existing by allowing this dreadful measure now upon your table to become law, and thus render confusion and dismemberment of the empire almost inevitable. Punish the guilty, spare the innocent. Throw out this Bill, which is an injustice to my clients, and bid the Minister of the Crown make his defence upon three grave and solemn charges. Some of you, my Lords, may smile at this idea, but be assured, that posterity and the world at large will affirm the judgment which I have ventured to pronounce. I have now, my Lords, brought to a close my history of the Assembly's proceedings. As soon as the Address was passed, to the effect that I have described, they were unceremoniously dismissed, without further explanation or application. Since that moment the Assembly which this proposed measure is to annihilate has had no means of acting. The members composing it, having returned to their homes, were scattered over a territory of above 800 miles in extent, and are not collectively answerable for 757 anything that has happened since. Looking back, then, my Lords, again, have I not made out my first proposition—viz., that the conduct of the Assembly has throughout been wise, firm, forbearing, and prudent? Spite of all the various provocations they received (and I have passed, of necessity, over many, lest I should tire your patience), spite of all the trying injuries heaped upon them, spite of disappointment of all their most cherished hopes, they never swerved from their path of duty, and always evinced respect and obedience to England; and yet are we now about to reward their generous zeal for their country, their confidence in us, their respect and attachment, to our dominion, by degrading and insulting them and their country, making them an object for the scorn and contempt of the whole continent of America. If this be prudent, it is not just, it is not generous. The world will wonder, I fear, at our rashness, as well as our injustice. But it may be said, it is true that the Assembly are not to blame, but the people have rebelled, and rebellion must be punished, and what so fit a punishment as depriving them of that power of self-government which they have abused? The answer to this assertion is,—first, the people have not rebelled; but a portion, a small portion, of the whole broke out into a riot in consequence of what they conceived a crying injustice committed by the authorities; next, in this riot there was no abuse of the powers of self-government—there was no connexion between the Assembly and the riot. The riot took place merely in consequence of some proceedings which the people thought unjust, and which they resisted. The people, in fact, had resisted the execution of certain writs, as he had no doubt their Lordships knew from the newspapers. There was evidence that the Government had knowledge of the proceedings of the people for a length of time before they chose to take any notice of it; at last, however, they seemed to have discovered that a conspiracy existed somewhere, and their method of taking measures to provide for the public safety was curious. They forthwith dismissed a number of officers of militia, much in the same way as a certain Government bad once dismissed Earl Fitzwilliam from a high situation for attending a meeting for the reform of Parliament; nearly in a similar way to this were those officers of militia dismissed for attending a meeting, 758 and along with them were dismissed also a number of magistrates, and a new commission was issued, leaving out almost all in whom the people had confidence. Your Lordships must understand, that just at this juncture the Jury Act had expired, leaving it in the power of the Crown, by means of the Attorney-General, an officer of the Crown, and appointed, paid, and dismissable by the Crown, to prick just whomsoever he pleased to serve on juries. Just at this time Lord Gosford issued warrants against persons on account of acts committed three months before: these were directed chiefly against M. Papineau's associates, but not against M. Papineau himself in the first instance, though very significant warning was given that it was intended to issue a warrant against him shortly. Such are the facts of the case: and were your Lordships called upon to disfranchise a borough, or to deprive a corporation of its charter upon such a case, you would give a flat refusal; and yet here, in a case where the outrage upon existing vested interests is far more marked and extraordinary, there seems no hesitation. A small portion of the whole people, a few parishes, resist a force endeavouring to arrest certain individuals; thereupon you punish the whole nation, who could have no part in the affray, who neither by word nor by action aided and abetted the rioters. Compare the conduct pursued with regard to the Canadians with that towards the people of Bristol. A dangerous riot occurred in that town; yet nobody thought of depriving the city of their Representatives nor of their charter. Look at the daily riots of Ireland—whole counties, not parishes, declared to be in such a state as to require martial law; and yet there is no proposal to deprive Ireland, or even the disturbed counties, of their Representatives. Take again a yet more striking case—Scotland in 1715 and 1745. At that time the whole of Scotland was on the side of the Pretender, and actually in willing subjection to him; and yet Scotland was not deprived of her Representatives. Even the supposed parallel case of Boston affords nothing like the present Bill. An outrage in that case had been committed expressly against the authority of Parliament; the whole people of the province of Massachusetts Bay applauded the rioters, and refused to give them up, and turned out in arms to resist the Government. Yet, then, all that was proposed to be done was to give to Boston 759 a constitution similar to that which Lower Canada now has. There was no attempt to destroy their means of self-government, their House of Representatives remained; but the Council was now to be chosen by the Crown, instead of being elected by the people. The truth is, my Lords, and we cannot hide it from ourselves or the world, this riot is but a pretext. The Ministers found that the Government of Canada, with its present constitution, was a painful and difficult matter, and they took advantage of the fright which this riot created in Parliament to persuade them that the source of all this confusion and terror was the House of Assembly, the fact all the time being, that the imbecility, the vacillation, and deception adopted by the Ministers, were the true causes of the disturbance. Pretences were wanted to cover this disagreeable fact, and the riot came opportunely to their aid. Nevertheless, it may still be insisted that some change is necessary, because the populations, English and French, are divided and hostile, and the French majority are said to oppress the English minority. Having thus proved the injustice of the proposed measure, by describing and defending the conduct of the Assembly, having, as I believe, successfully justified that much injured, much calumniated body, and repulsed the various attacks which malice and ignorance combined have made on it, I now proceed to that part of my duty which is comparatively light and easy. I am no longer on the defensive, I am about to attack the so called healing measure on your Lordships' table, and to prove it to be for good purposes wholly inadequate, while for mischief it is but too potent and effective. Let us, at the outset, clearly understand what the measure is, and what it is intended to effect. The Bill is called one for the government of Lower Canada. Difficulties have arisen in the government of that colony—difficulties such as I have been at some pains to describe; the machinery created by the act of 1791 has been found not altogether perfect; the Assembly has exercised its powers in a manner to give offence; and you are in consequence called upon—to do what? Amend the faulty parts of the machine? so to arrange the now conflicting powers of it that it may proceed to its accustomed and useful work? No, my Lords, this is not what you are now asked to do. The bright idea of mending the machine by first destroying it has sug- 760 gested itself to the Colonial Minister; and because the great mass of the Lower Canadian population are already somewhat displeased with the treatment they have received at our hands, it is deemed the height of wisdom to take a step which will inevitably increase their discontent, and render their allegiance the result of physical coercion, and not spontaneous and affectionate attachment to our dominion. Now, my Lords, I must presume to differ entirely from the policy of this proceeding, and I will at once endeavour to show your Lordships how all the present difficulties attending our rule will be greatly aggravated by this fatal measure—to point out to you the portentous evils with which it threatens us, the dire calamities which must of necessity flow from it. But stdl it may be said, something must be done. I allow it. This admission, however, does not yield anything in favour of this Bill. This measure makes bad worse; where under present circumstances you have one difficulty, under this brilliant specimen of colonial legislation you will have to encounter a hundred. When I have proved all this, my Lords, I will go one step further, by showing that it is wanton mischief—that a dangerous path has been chosen—that you have, while a safe one was open to you, adopted a course in which you encounter danger, in which you certainly incur enormous expense, which will probably produce calamity without limit, and yet attain no security for the future—that you do this, when it is possible with ease to allay all discontent, without incurring any danger of hostility at the present time, and also to provide for our future security from any evil that may threaten us in consequence of the great and rapidly increasing power of the great federal republic of North America. The Bill, in the first place, is a temporary measure. You suspend the constitution of Lower Canada till the year 1840, and in the mean time you send out a dictator. The question immediately arises—in what better condition do you suppose you will be in the year 1840 than now? What do you suppose will take place when the constitution revives r Will not the same difficulties which now beset and obstruct it revive also? But we intend to provide against them. By what means? and why are those means not at once adopted? Why do you not now amend the constitution in place of destroying it? You know the whole case—more information cannot 761 be obtained. Why, then, delay to act? Why, because they who have the power have not the courage to face the real difficulties of the question. This sending out a dictator, this temporary suspension of the constitution, is a part of the old system which has produced the present crisis. The great object of all Ministerial endeavours seems to be to stave off a difficulty. Manfully to grapple with it requires courage, requires knowledge; and courage and knowlege are qualities, unfortunately, which are far too rare in the rulers of mankind. At this moment the Ministers of the Crown are reduced to this dilemma—either they know what ought to be done, or they do not. If they do know what ought to be done, there is no need of delay; if they do not know, they never will. Let us not, however, hide the truth from ourselves. They who have governed England and her colonies for the last six years, have been always halting between two opinions, and subject to the influence of two sorts of principles diametrically opposed. They have obtained power under the guise of liberality—under the promise and pretence of reform. They have endeavoured to retain power without any fulfilment of their promises. The consequence has been that their Government at home and in our colonies has been one continued shuffle. They have allowed expectations to arise that they determined not to satisfy. They seek to make men live upon hope, and themselves desire to enjoy all the odour of liberality. Discontent, however, attends disappointment, and all our present difficulties in Canada are the result of discontent and anger, raised by the disappointment of hopes produced by this unwarrantable system of promise without performance. Habits, however, are not easily eradicated; the Ministers of the Crown will not take lessons from experience, and are determined to continue their old game of procrastination and delay. But, my Lords, I appeal fearlessly to your common sense, and to your honour and honesty, and I ask of you, possessed as you are of all the knowledge which the case affords or requires, whether it would not be more prudent, more honourable, more honest, at once to say what you will, what you will not, do to satisfy the wishes of your colonists? Take your measures like bold, like honest men: tell us what they are; establish your system of colonial rule—that system to which you determine to adhere, and at once frame that machine of 762 colonial government which you believe to be the best one. Do this, and there is no need to suspend the constitution of Canada. Change it, if you so determine; but do so at once, and do not fly to subterfuge. Do not come with hypocritical pretences of sorrow—hollow lamentations over the necessity which compels you to act, and under the guise of sham liberality perpetrate this crying outrage against common sense and common honesty. If you intend permanently to destroy the representative government of Lower Canada, say so at once, and do it avowedly and openly; and do not, I entreat of you, adopt the poor, the paltry screen, of saying that you suspend it only. If you do not intend to destroy, but to amend it, let us at once know what those proposed amendments are. For your own sakes, for the sake of that connexion between this country and the colony, which all in this House and most of those in the other House of Parliament prize so highly, I beseech you, my Lords, to adopt this manly, this honest course, for depend on me when I tell you, that the moment this Bill becomes a law, all hope of any peaceful maintenance of that connexion may at once and for ever be discarded. I know the people of whom I am speaking; I know the circumstances by which they are surrounded, and without hesitation I assert that they will deem this measure one of great, of unmitigated injustice: they will consider it part of a system, and that system they will believe to have for its object the establishment of such a colonial dominion as will leave them but the shadow of freedom. They will feel that this measure is an insult as well as injury; it will degrade them in their own esteem—it will degrade them in that of their neighbours. They will make comparisons between their own position and the happy situation of the free citizens of the United States, and they will, while they imprecate curses upon the rule under which they are compelled for a time to crouch, look with longing eyes to that mighty people who dwell near to them, and will in secret cherish the darling hope, that the fortune which ever pursues injustice, even though she be halt, and lame, and slow, will yet inevitably overtake it, and bring with the turn of her fatal wheel an opportunity of punishing their oppressors, and vindicating their own honour and freedom. I speak prophetically, my Lords, not as one wishing the misfortunes to England which I now predict; but be you 763 assured, that now in scorn and contemptuous disregard of worthy men and worthy feelings we are sowing seeds of discontent and resistance, which some day, not far distant, we shall gather into our garners with tears of sorrow and of shame. It is the fashion, my Lords, to talk of the ignorance of the Canadian people; and assertions are recklessly hazarded, which greater knowledge of the people and their actual condition, and also of the true criterion of education, would altogether have prevented. We are prone to believe that America and Europe are the same, and to fancy that the agricultural serfs, who in Europe form the mass of the inhabitants, find a counterpart in the independent possessors of the soil in America. Never was there committed a more gross or a more fatal error. America at this moment is governed by habits of thought and feeling, fostered, perpetuated, and extended by that remarkable band of religious and political enthusiasts who originally settled New England, and whose sons now swarm in every part of the great federal union of the United States. The political creed of these men has, in reality, become the political creed of the whole continent, and is entertained as well by the descendants of the French colonists on the banks of the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence, as by the immediate heirs of those English who originally seized and settled on the shores of the Hudson or the Connecticut, You are treated often with dissertations upon the feudal laws and burdens which exist in Canada; believe me, my Lords, when I tell you, that a feudal schism is unknown in that country; that the people are not driven, but persuaded by their leaders, and that the influence of Papineau and his friends at this moment is precisely the same sort of power as that possessed formerly by the Adamses, the Warrens, and the Washing-tons of America. How do I prove this? I do so by stating two facts, for which I challenge and defy contradiction. Let any seigneur change his present politics, and take part with the oppressors of Canada; let the priest of the parish preach the same doctrine, and then let these two persons combined go to a political election against a liberal candidate, and I will abide by the result. The seigneur and the priest will fail. Why do I assert this? Because the experiment has been tried and failed. Well-known instances must suggest themselves to every one conversant with the affairs of that country. But if this be so, 764 what becomes of the assertions concerning the ignorance of the Canadian people? Do you usually find an ignorant and dependent peasantry turning a deaf ear, and refusing obedience to the commands of their territorial lords, and their priesthood combined? Never. Such a phenomenon was never seen. But in America, where the farmer is his own master, living in great plenty and comfort, and surrounded by circumstances which daily call for great activity of mind, of great ingenuity, under novel difficulties which task his sagacity in the application of means to ends—the farmer, I say, who is thus situated, acquires habits of independent thought and action; he listens to him who comes armed with reason and with facts, and despises any attempt which would subject him blindly to authority. Talk not to me of reading and writing as the only criterion of education; I have seen many a farmer who knew nothing of scholastic learning, yet was well read in the book of nature and experience, whose judgment was far more sane and accurate, whose sagacity was far more acute, and whose mind was much more thoroughly guarded against the assaults of prejudice and superstition, than those of many a learned, but still ignorant bookworm, whose only knowledge was the pretended science of the schools. Furthermore, my Lords, when we speak of ignorance, let us remember this fact: the moment that the means of scholastic education were placed within the reach of the Canadian people, the whole population at once availed themselves of the advantages thus offered to them. And let us never forget, that they who are ever harping upon this ignorance of the Canadian people, the Legislative Council, in the year 1836, did, from political hate and to serve their own base purposes, deprive 40,000 children of the means of instruction, by shutting up the national schools. And this ignorant people have cherished, and will cherish, the memory of this wrong, so that when the day of retribution is come, they may not forget the punishment due to the crime. I now, my Lords, invite your serious consideration to the peculiar condition of the American continent, so that when you have well weighed the various and extraordinary circumstances there existing, you may be able to form something like an accurate and vivid conception of the probable effects of this proposed measure and the influence that it is likely to have upon the future peace and security 765 of our American colonies. Any person who should for the first time look upon the map of North America would naturally have his attention irresistibly attracted to that immense territory which stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific across the whole continent, and which extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the chain of lakes which have their outlet to the sea by the St. Lawrence. His astonishment would undoubtedly be created if he learned that this immense and fertile tract, situated within the most favourable degrees of latitude, possessing every conceivable natural advantage, belonged to a people speaking one language, and united under one Government. His opinion of the power of this people would be undoubtedly greatly raised when he also learned that the whole of the various of this stupendous country were self-governed, and that the people took every precaution to increase and improve their own education and that of their children. His ideas of this people's greatness would receive no diminution when he learned that their commerce extended to every realm, and that every improvement in science was, by the ingenuity and enterprise of the people, immediately on its becoming known, applied to practical purposes; that by this means a system of roads, railroads, canals, was there to be witnessed which defied the world to parallel it; that steam, with all its wonders, had there almost its birth, and was there certainly hourly extending the dominion of man over nature. Would he not exclaim when he was told that this gigantic power was only in its infancy, "We unto those who shall cross this mighty people in the hour of their meridian greatness; and blind must be those statesmen of other nations, who, if they have the power, neglect the means of creating a counterpoise to such a dominion?" Such, my Lords, however, is the United States; and the influence of her opinions is already paramount upon that continent, and affects the habits of thought and feeling of every inhabitant of its boundless regions. Now the leading dogma of this people's political creed is, that all men ought to be self-governed, and they look down with ineffable contempt upon all who submit to the domination of others. The Canadians, living in daily intercourse with these bold-thinking and free-speaking republicans, have necessarily acquired their habits, and adopted their political dogmata. What will be the necessary conse- 766 quence of your depriving the Canadians of that highly prized privilege—viz., the right of self-government? You will at once excite the indignation of the whole population of the United States, and create intense sympathy with the suffering, and as they will call them, the oppressed and enslaved Canadians. Not a newspaper among the millions that circulate within the American territories but will contain violent philippics against you and your enactment. You will be unable to pre-vent these papers circulating throughout the Canadas. Besides, you cannot prevent the expression of opinion reaching the Canadas through personal communication. Every trader coming from America will exhibit his indignation of the oppressor, and his sympathy for the reluctant, and contempt for the willingly suffering and submissive. Deep shame and bitter hatred, and cherished hope of revenge, ample and immediate, will be the inmates of every Canadian bosom. Your armies may for a while enforce obedience, but a thousand accidents may at once and for ever drive you from the continent. Any dispute with America which shall again, as in 1812, bring her armies on your frontier, will not find you with a population enthusiastically attached to, and ready to die for your dominion. No; in place of this, the Americans would find the Canadians stretching out their arms for succour, crying with piteous voices and bitter wailings and curses. "Aid us in throwing off the yoke of the oppressor. Come, brave and generous people, sympathise with our wrongs, and alleviate our misfortunes." Your dominion will end. Should any national calamity occur which would cripple our power and our resources, they will, if possible, rise in open rebellion, and again would they stretch out their arms and cry for succour from the already sympathising Americans. My Lords, this is no idle fancy of my brain—no fantastic product of a heated imagination. At this moment the picture that I have drawn may be seen in the life. You are told, and I believe truly, that the American Government sincerely desires peace with England; but in America it is the people that govern. There you cannot neglect or contemn the popular feeling; neither can you easily suppress its working. Is not the Federal Government at this moment powerless in its attempts to put down the excitement now existing on their northern frontier in favour of the Canadians? This excite- 767 ment has been created simply by the fact of revolt against the mother country (for as yet they know nothing of this measure of revenge). Their own revolution is ever in their thoughts. The cases, in their opinion, seem almost identical, and they believe that the God of the oppressed bids them aid and assist the Canadians. The revolt, in spite of all these formidable difficulties, may be suppressed; but where is your security for the future? Your well-trained soldiers may defeat the rebels, but they cannot convert them into attached and faithful subjects. Every act of this fatal tragedy only renders more certain the painful, and to us, humiliating, result. Hostile separation and war with the United States will some day inevitably follow. Then, my Lords, see what follows. This already too gigantic power will add to her union the whole continent of America. They are shallow politicians who cannot see the immense temptation which is held out by the free navigation of the St. Lawrence to all the northern states of the Union. The very question which, of all others, appears most likely to create dissention in the Union, viz. that of slavery, renders, under present circumstances, the annexation of the Canadas, as a counterpoise to Texas, almost inevitable, unless timely and wise precautions be taken by England to prevent it. Can such precautions be taken? Do any means exist by which this fatal junction might be prevented and our discontented colonies firmly attached to our dominion? My Lords, I think there are such means, and to those means, to that measure which ought to supersede the direful experiment you are about to venture, I will almost immediately apply myself, and shortly describe it, as the best apology I can offer to your Lordships for the trial I have made of your patience and attention. I would, however, before I do this, add a few observations upon the consequences likely to result from the precious specimen of legislation before your Lordships. It is clear that this suspension of the Canadian constitution is not needed for the suppression of the revolt. It is clear also that the noble Lord who is to be Dictator of Canada is not to employ his powers to that end, otherwise he would proceed immediately to his government, and not await the coming of fine weather in the spring. Except, then, for purposes of vengeance, the objects of this Bill are all prospective. By the preamble as it originally stood, and 768 also by the instructions to Lord Durham, which have been printed, we are told, that one of the means which his Lordship will adopt for the future better government of Canada is the calling together of a convention; and the members of this convention in Lower Canada are to be elected by the people of that country. Now, at this moment I will say nothing as to the wisdom or folly of this proposed arrangement, but I call attention to this remarkable circumstance. The very same persons—viz., the Ministers of the Crown, who dread the assembling of the Parliament of Lower Canada, who dread also a new election, yet have no fear of calling the people together for the election of delegates to a convention. It is obvious, then, that they do not fear assemblies of the people. What, then, do they dread? and why do they not allow the noble Lord who is to go out as pacificator after peace is established—why not allow him to call together the Parliament? I heard a whisper and a suggestion in the other House of Parliament which to me explained a mystery. There will be some plan devised to narrow the constituency of that country, and the ignorant meddlers in politics who have hitherto ruled the destinies of that unfortunate country are so blind as not to see the consequence of such an attempt. You are told, my Lords, that all the wealth of that country is in the hands of the English, and you believe what you are told. Now, hear my version of the story; all the real wealth of the country is in the hands of the agricultural community, and they, for the most part, are French, while the pretended riches of the merchants of Montreal and Quebec, who are chiefly English, is more show than reality. Few are rich—few are solvent; and the real cause of their furious outcry is the dread of bankruptcy in peaceful times. Create a riot, and to be a bankrupt will not be dishonourable. Keep the country quiet, and if they break, then men will scan closely the honesty of those who have deluded their creditors. However, make your electoral qualification higher, try the experiment, and you will not have one Englishman in your new Parliament. Your only chance is by extending the suffrage; but this does not accord with notions predominant here, and we are all but too prone to fancy the rest of the world like ourselves in every particular. The noble Lord who is about to go on this mission of supposed peace will find all his plans of good ruined 769 by the suspicion attendant on this Bill. He is popular it is said, in this country. I suppose that he is known to the people by some great achievement in their favour, by some great service rendered them. But to the Canadian people he is unknown, except as the dictator who strides over the ruins of their constitution, and the near connexion of one they deem their bitterest enemy. He may surround himself with pomp and parade; he may enact the viceroy, and play with what effect or vigour he pleases the farce of mock royalty; but when he sends this bill as his harbinger, be assured that he will play to empty benches: he will be no popular favourite; and, though a star from London, the provincials will not run after him. Some few fools may gape and cry God bless him; but the national feeling will be such towards him, that no man need envy him his power, even with all its tinsel concomitants; nor will he, if he have the heart of a man, long stand up against the concentrated hatred and indignation that will on all occasions break out against him who could seize this unhallowed sceptre, and consent to play the dictator over an injured and a helpless people. Perhaps, in the day of his failure, he will remember the words uttered this night. But what then ought to be done? Let me answer that question in one sentence:—Do justice to Canada. You seek to retain your dominion, you wish to maintain peace, you desire to have your colony a profitable possession. If you wish these things, reign over it with justice; but justice here means—grant the demands of the people. What are they? Freedom from irresponsible rule. The interests of England are in this the same as those of the colony. England gains nothing by an irresponsible Legislative Council. Give the people a government which shall provide for their interests and for yours, and not for those of the hungry band who have so long preyed upon the vitals of the colony. How is this to be done? As follows:—A careful and provident statesman would, in all his measures respecting the present government of Canada, keep a steady eye on the future destinies of the colony—would be careful so to arrange his plans as to render it impossible that any junction with the United States and our present colonies should ever take place. The present condition of those provinces gives you an opportunity of doing both the things which you should now seek to effect—viz., 770 to allay the discontents of the lower and upper province, and provide against the extension of the power of the United States. The mode of allaying the discontents of Canada I last year propounded to the House of Commons, and have lately again set forth to the head of her Majesty's Government. That plan contemplated the abolition of the Legislative Council, and the creation of a council of advice, to be chosen by each successive governor. By this means, responsibility would be fixed upon a single person, who would have all the advantage that could be derived from advice. In order to protect the general interests of the colonies and England's interests, it was proposed that there should be a general assembly composed of persons elected by the various legislatures of the different colonies, that by a written code the powers of this body should be determined—one of their functions being to hear impeachments preferred by the Colonial Legislatures. Besides this body, it was proposed to institute a superior court of judicature, to try all judicial questions between the several colonies—and such as should arise from calling in question the limits of the powers exercised by the general assembly and the several Colonial Legislatures. Such a machinery as this would keep your colonies in one compact body—would keep them separate from the United States, and when the time comes, which must come, in which they are to be independent of our dominion, they might form themselves into a northern confederation, balancing and controlling the powers of the United States of America. Such, my Lords, is my plan of pacification, to which no object on can be brought, but such as results either from misconception of the real interests of England or a too nice perception of personal interests. But before you decide upon this or any other plan, I would beseech you, my Lords, gravely and seriously to inquire into the benefit which you hope to derive from opposing the general wishes of the colonists, and then to set against this supposed benefit the real evils which you brave, by obstinately opposing yourself to the just wishes of our subjects At this moment, every one of you must feel that war with the United States has been risked by this insane quarrel with our colonies. No greater calamity could happen to mankind than such a war, and yet have we heedlessly—may I not say criminally?—incurred the danger of it— 771 and for what? To maintain a wretched band of hungry officials in the possession of ill-used as well as ill-gotten power—to shelter a few peculating servants from the just indignation of their robbed and insulted masters. This, my Lords, is the real end of all our great expense, of all our loss of money, time, and blood—the magnificent object for which we have stayed all improvement in Canada, for which we now seek to outrage the feelings of the whole continent of America, for which we have already risked the chance of the most disastrous calamity which ignorance and wickedness combined could inflict on mankind! Is not this, my Lords, a magnificent requital for such a risk? And are we not, by our proceedings, exhibiting to the world a scene humiliating to the national character for sense, for honour, and generosity? To you, my Lords, as the supposed guardians of our ancient honour, I appeal to save us from this degradation and disgrace. The learned gentleman, after reading part of a protest, recommending conciliatory measures to be pursued towards the colonies, a protest which had been entered on their journals by some of their most illustrious ancestors, among whom he mentioned the names of the Duke of Richmond, the Duke of Devonshire, Earl Fitzwilliam, Lord Falkland, and Lord Ponsonby, concluded by stating that he would not trespass further upon their indulgence, but would reserve to himself the right of calling, at a future stage of the bill, evidence to prove the various facts which he had stated in the course of his speech.
paid a high compliment to the distinguished power and ability with which the learned counsel at the bar had advocated the just claims of the Canadian people, while he had shown that the bill, suspending their constitution, ought not to pass into law. As the learned counsel proposed at a future stage of the bill to tender evidence in support of the allegations which he had just made, he thought that the best course for their Lordships to pursue would be to go at once into the Committee, and then, at a future stage of the bill, if their Lordships were so minded, they could hear the evidence which the learned counsel said he was ready to produce. Mind, he wished it to be understood as his opinion, that it was by no means a matter of course that such evidence should be heard at their bar. For his own part, he did not intend to 772 offer any vexatious or harassing opposition to the Committee on the bill, though he differed in every respect, not only from the principle, but also from the details of it. He would, however, reserve any observations which he had to make upon it to a future opportunity, if he thought it worth while, which he scarcely thought it was, to trouble their Lordships with any further objections which he had to this measure.
§ The Earl of Ripon
said, that in consequence of what had fallen from the learned counsel at the bar, he felt it necessary to trouble their Lordships with one or two observations. If this bill were right at all, it was so because the acts of the House of Assembly had de facto suspended the constitution of Lower Canada. Their Lordships were, therefore, compelled either to assent to this bill or to some other bill of a similar kind.
§ Their Lordships went into a Committee. The clauses of the Bill were agreed to without amendment, and the House resumed.
§ On the question that the report be received,
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
observed, that there was a clause by which it was provided that this bill, when it was proclaimed by the governor of Canada, should immediately take effect. Now, he wished to know, whether it was intended that the bill was to wait for proclamation until the arrival of the Earl of Durham in Canada, or whether it was intended to give a discretionary power to Sir John Colborne, as acting governor, to proclaim it when he should think fitting.
§ Lord Glenelg
, in reply, stated, that it was intended that Sir John Colborne should have power to carry the bill into effect before the arrival of the Earl of Durham in Canada.
§ Report received.