observed, that he had been unfortunately prevented by indisposition, from offering any observations on 838 this bill at its previous stages. That being the case, he hoped their Lordships would allow him to make a few remarks on the bill in its present state. At the same time he thought it right to assure their Lordships that he should not touch upon the grounds which had been travelled over in the previous debates. He should not think it fair if he were to enter into the consideration of the conduct of her Majesty's Government, particularly of that portion which belonged to the Colonial department. He must, however, express his entire concurrence in the views of the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen), as well as those of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Brougham). The observations of those noble Lords were, no doubt, very severe, but they were also, in his opinion, perfectly just. With that observation he should dismiss that part of the question. The first question which he should wish to have clearly answered was, what was the object of her Majesty's Government with regard to Lower Canada, or rather with regard to our North American colonies? Were the measures intended to be carried into execution to be founded on the bill now before their Lordships, or on the instructions to the commission by the noble Baron (Lord Glenelg)? There was the greatest possible distinction in these two modes of proceeding. To the bill he had this objection, that the suspension of the Colonial Legislature for two years, and the substitution for the present government of Canada of that which it was proposed to establish, shut out the legislature from one of the most favourable opportunities that ever occurred of making a permanent settlement of the affairs of Canada. The bill was presumed to rest on the state of Lower Canada, according to the accounts which were last received. Now, the present state of Lower Canada, as it appeared from those accounts, was very different from that which it was when the present bill was brought in; and it by no means followed that the measures proposed to be taken at the time the outbreak was first announced would be justified by the change which had occurred in the circumstances of the province. He trusted their Lordships would permit him to read a short extract from Lord Gosford's last dispatch. It was this:—Thus have the measures adopted for putting down this reckless revolt been crowned with entire success. Wherever an armed body 839 has shown itself it has been completely dispersed; the principle instigators and leaders have been killed, taken, or forced into exile; there is no longer a head, concert, or organization amongst the deluded and betrayed habitans; all the newspaper organs of revolution in the province, the Vindicator, Minerve, and Liberal, are no longer in existence, having ceased to appear about the commencement of the present troubles; and in the short space of a month a rebellion which at first were so threatening an aspect, has, with much less loss of life than could be expected, been effectually put down.Again Lord Gosford said:—Loyal addresses are daily pouring in upon me from the French Canadian population in all parts of the province, expressing their fidelity to the Queen and their attachment to British connection, and strongly reprobating the selfish ambition and treasonable designs which have thus ruthlessly involved one of the fairest portions of the country in all the horrors of civil war.Lord Gosford went on to say,The energy and activity displayed by the troops, the numerous offers of service from large portions of the population in various parts of the province to enrol themselves in volunteer corps for the defence of the government, the discomfiture of the rebellious faction in Upper Canada, the favourable disposition of the Roman Catholic clergy, encouraged and strengthened by a recent pastoral letter of the bishop of Quebec, which was read on the 19th instant in all the churches of his diocese, and a copy of which is enclosed, all combine to assure me that no further organised attempt is likely to be made to interrupt the public tranquillity.He had read these parts of the dispatch (Lord Ellenborough continued) in order to show that in a proceeding of this grave character they ought to proceed on the last information which they had received as to the actual state of Canada. Looking to the account which he had read, he did not see how the preamble supported the enactments; because it did not follow from the present state of things that the Legislative Assembly could not meet for the benefit of the public service. If overlooking the return of peace they passed over the present opportunity, they would shut out for ever the probability of effecting a permanent settlement of the differences which existed. Had there ever been a more favourable opportunity of proposing to the House of Commons what her Majesty's Government intended to propose with respect to the constitution of Canada? 840 Had there ever been an opportunity when the people of Lower Canada, suffering as they were under the effects of rebellion, would be more disposed to accept the alterations proposed by the Imperial Parliament? He would say further, "Is there ever likely to occur again a time when you can bring together, not the old, but a new Assembly, with a greater prospect of having men as representatives of the people who, with a sincere desire to maintain the connection which exists between the province and the mother country, will candidly and fairly endeavour to effect a settlement of the differences which prevail?" His opinion, then, was, that if they' acted on the bill itself, they would lose the only opportunity which they were likely to have of making a permanent settlement of the affairs of Lower Canada. It could not be said that her Majesty's Government were not prepared for such a course, for so early as May last, the noble Baron (Lord Glenelg) distinctly stated that the Government were prepared to legislate on those points which were now referred to the noble Lord who was going out as governor to Canada. These were precisely the points on which legislation was required; but again, it was proposed to throw all responsibility on the government in Canada, and to cause a further delay for two years, when measures would be proposed under circumstances far less favourable—he might say desperate — if they looked to a final satisfactory settlement of all disputes. Such was his conviction, if the measures of the Government were to be gathered from their bill; but if they were founded on their instructions then they were pushing their objects at a most unfavourable moment, for he could not imagine any possible conjuncture at which it would be more difficult to establish either a union of the Canadas or a legislature for certain common purposes than under the combination of events, which now existed. It was impossible that the Lower Canadians should not be excited to great jealousy and apprehensions when they saw that they were about to be deprived of the interests which they possessed in local government. On the other hand, there was in Upper Canada a feeling that all that had taken place in their province originated with the inhabitants of Lower Canada; and thus a principle of hostility was now 841 evolved which would induce the people of Upper Canada to resist any proposition for a union of the provinces, or a united legislature, until they were able to secure that to which they had so just a claim— a majority in the representation. The effect of the numerical majority of the inhabitants of British descent in Upper Canada would be to place the French Canadians in that province in the same state of thraldom to which the British settlers in the lower province might be subjected. Such a union would be worse than that of Holland and Belgium. Instead of producing concord and good government, it would sow new sources of dissension, perhaps of conflict, between the two provinces. But if, by any arrangement of the franchise and the local districts, they could secure in the upper province a majority in point of wealth and numbers on the side of those of English descent, still it would be counterbalanced by a minority in that province of republican principles, which added to the majority in Lower Canada attached to the same views, would command a complete supremacy, and make it impossible to contend against the demands of an united legislature. He felt satisfied that in all matters of difference in these provinces, the mediation, or rather the arbitration, of the home Parliament was absolutely necessary. He thought that experience had shown that it was quite impossible to expect that any convention formed of the persons whom it was proposed to select could lead to satisfactory results. Now, such being the probable results of the measures intended, whether they were founded on the bill or on the instructions, he asked was it likely that they would be well received in Lower Canada? He did not ask whether they would be well received by people of French origin merely, but how would they be received by persons of English origin, desirous of maintaining the connexion with this country, and disapproving highly of the conduct of the House of Assembly? He thought that some indication of what their feelings would be was contained in the despatch of Lord Gosford, when describing the reception of the resolutions of last year by that party in whose favour it might be supposed they were passed. Lord Gosford made use of language to this effect: —"I must observe that the feeling against the imperial Parliament taking money out 842 of the public chest is general, and even those who reprobated the conduct of the House of Assembly cannot refrain from an expression of disappointment at this part of Lord John Russell's resolutions." Now, if that were the state of feeling with respect to those resolutions, did their Lordships suppose that the measure which they were now about to pass—going as it did so much beyond what the Executive Council ever contemplated when rebellion was menaced—did they think, he repeated, that when that rebellion had occurred and was suppressed, this measure would be met, even by the friends of British connexion, with any other feelings than those evinced when they became acquainted with the nature of the eighth resolution? He had said that this measure had gone beyond what the Executive Council contemplated; for that council, when pressed by Lord Gosford, stated, that though they should recommend the suspension of the constitution for a limited period, or, at least, such part thereof as related to the calling and meeting of the provincial parliament, yet that in the interval the local government should make such laws only as should continue those which were old and revive those which had expired. They also recommended the repeal of the 1st William 4th, which would place his Majesty in possession of the revenues which he had heretofore enjoyed, so far as they were necessary to carry on the civil government. Under the present circumstances he considered that a fair, just, and proper measure. But while he acceded to that he was not prepared to admit that by a message from the Crown all the hereditary revenues which had been placed at the disposal of the Assembly should be resumed. It was also justifiable and right that there should be some power of reviving expired and continuing old laws. But let it be observed how much farther this bill went than the repeal of the 1st William 4th. There was not more required for the expenses of civil government than 60,000l. or 70,000l. a-year, whereas such a sum as 100,000l. would be placed at the disposal of the governor-general and his council. That being an unnecessary power, ought to have been withheld. He was bound also to state that the Executive Council never contemplated the delegation of general powers to make laws to a temporary body, and asserted that beyond the revival of expired laws, 843 and the continuance of expiring ones, "the actual circumstances of the province did not suggest any further alteration in the constitution." Now, all knew that the time at which a transaction should take place was a most important consideration in all warlike or civil affairs. If, then, the noble Baron (Lord Glenelg) desired to put off this question for three years, and to throw it from his own shoulders on the Governor of the Canadas—if he desired, by extinguishing the Assembly, to establish an autocracy, he could not have selected a better mode than that which he had adopted. He never could have found a House of Commons more disposed (as they acted under the influence of rebellion) to grant such a power. But if, on the other hand, the noble Baron desired to make at once a permanent settlement of this question, there was no time better than the present to carry such an intention into practice; there was none at which he would receive greater assistance from the Canadians or greater facilities at home for the accomplishment of such a purpose. He deeply regretted that the opportunity which offered had not been taken advantage of, because not only was the state of things now much more favourable for the legislation of the Imperial Parliament than when the Bill was brought in; but their Lordships were well aware that events had since taken place which urged them to come to a settlement at once if possible, and a conciliatory settlement, of the unfortunate differences which existed. It could not be concealed that the tendency of the revolt or the disaffection which prevailed in these provinces, especially in Lower Canada, was to create a danger of the greatest calamity which could befal this country or the human race; namely, a war between England and the United States. Every day that a satisfactory settlement was deferred, that danger became more imminent — but it would be most imminent by any unnecessary severity — by any attempt at injustice towards the French Canadians, which would displease even those of English origin, and excite the constant observation, if not sympathy, of the United States. Let not these feelings be agitated, or her Majesty's authority in Canada would be overturned. Another danger, though not so imminent a one, would arise by pressing down, as it seemed intended to do—though the noble Earl going out as Governor had too 844 much sense and was too statesmanlike in his views to share such language—the French Canadians, and subjecting them to a heavier punishment than that inflicted on those of English origin. Let them take care that the French people would not be thus aroused to active sympathy in their cause. On the whole he felt satisfied that there was much greater danger in suffering a long interval to elapse before there was any final settlement than would now accompany the attempt of any reasonable man to accomplish that purpose by an appeal to Parliament. With these impressions, feeling that they were now about to take a step which could not be easily retraced, which must induce discontent and collision with our own subjects, perhaps a collision with the United States, ending in a fatal war, perhaps with that country and with France; seeing that this measure was not supported by justice and that it was evidently impolitic, he was left no other course than to say, "not content" to the proposition which was now made.
§ Lord Glenelg
said, that the noble Lord had stated very ably his objections to the present Bill. If he could accede to the noble Lord's premises he should certainly be disposed to accede to his conclusions; but, he confessed, he was not able to go the length of the anticipations in which the noble Lord indulged. The noble Lord had said that if they passed that Bill they would establish an autocracy and show a disposition to crush the French under the English Canadians. He, on the part of the Government, disclaimed any such intention. He agreed, that there were grave interests involved in the discussion and settlement of this question. With regard to its possible consequences, he thought he might claim something in behalf of the Government, in opposition to the views taken by the noble Lord, which were not shared by those with whom he generally acted. It was perfectly true that in the interval between the suspension and restoration of the constitution many important events might be involved, but the noble Lord contended that we should at once carry into effect a permanent settlement. If they could proceed at this moment to act under the present constitution, and, could establish a permanent system which should work harmoniously for that country, and if by that means they should obtain a result satisfactory to 845 all parties—if they could obtain such an object by any other mode than the measure now proposed, he should cordially acquiesce in the negative pronounced by the noble Lord. But looking to the present state of the two provinces, he could not contemplate the possibility of such a result. The noble Lord said "why not summon a new assembly and proceed with the present constitution?" Why at this moment the great objection to a plan which had been promulgated, and by which the Governor was to act prospectively on certain propositions to which he was referred in the instructions, was, "The first thing you should consider is the present state of the province with a view to restore peace and tranquillity." What possibility of such a result could be expected from a new Assembly, when the excited state of parties was considered, and when the arguments of the leaders of the Canadians, instead of being repressed by such a proceeding, would be raised to still higher importance by being allowed an opportunity of being carried into operation at the new elections? He felt convinced that the state of the province was correctly represented by Lord Gosford. At the same time it was impossible to doubt in consequence of the excitement which prevailed amongst all parties, even supposing the revolt to be at an end, that there was not a justification of the present measure. If they looked to the long series of events which had occurred, the habitual resistance on the part of the Assembly to every wise system of legislation; if they adverted to the excited feelings of the French portion of the population, it was quite clear, that if they proposed to confer permanent tranquillity, by appealing to the voters at elections, they would overturn the constitution, revive agitation, and give a free scope to the measures and devices employed to seduce the unfortunate people into the present revolt. The grounds on which the measure rested were these—that, after a long series of concessions on the part of the Crown, after repeated experiments, after repeated appeals to the candour, good sense, and loyalty of the people, the Assembly of Lower Canada had resisted all efforts at conciliation, and at length blocked up the wheels of Government by placing the province in its present condition. The revolt was only a part of the system on which they proceeded; and, granting that we were bound 846 to give protection to all the inhabitants, and disclaiming all distinctions between French and English inhabitants, it was our duty to give the Canadians some government to hold society together, and to prevent the dissolution of all law and order in that province. The noble Lord stated, that these propositions would be unacceptable to the English party. It was perfectly true, that the resolutions of last year were disapproved of by that portion of the inhabitants, but he stated deliberately, that it was not merely the opinion of the English, but also of a considerable portion of the French inhabitants, who perceived the issue to which the plans of the leaders were tending; and feeling what must be the fatal effect of such a movement, if persevered in, that unless the British Parliament interposed, they could not be saved from the inevitable ruin by which they were threatened. He was persuaded, further, that the English population looked with particular feelings of interest to a continuance of the connexion with the mother country. It had been suggested that we should meet the wishes of the people of Lower Canada. He quite agreed in that view, and it was that on which the Government proceeded; but he did not think, that, in its present excited state, such amendments could be made in the constitution as would enable it to work harmoniously. He was sure, if they proposed any such measures as those calculated upon last year, they should be met with this remonstrance, "You are rash in bringing forward these measures, you ought to ascertain clearly what the feelings of the people were, prior to the revolt, at its commencement, and subsequently." They should be told "Try the course which should be recommended by a Governor on whom they imposed adequate authority, and not proceed to legislate by arbitrary changes in the constitution." If Parliament had taken advantage of a moment when the province was hardly recovering from a state of revolt and rebellion, to interfere and enact its own laws and regulations, and establish its own authority, he thought this would have been a disgrace to it and the country. Neither could it be consistent with the real power and dignity of this country to take advantage of a moment of excitement, and appeal to the feelings of the people of Lower Canada, and ask them to agree to a constitution and a form of go- 847 vernment which, under the circumstances, they could not be capable of appreciating calmly and dispassionately. It might be said, in answer to this, that, in whatever the Government thought it necessary to do in the present emergency, they would have the Parliament of the country with them; but they did not ask for powers, which, under the circumstances of the moment, they might perhaps be able to seize upon; but for the means of accomplishing that which would best conduce to the preservation of the great and permanent principles of constitutional government, and the prolonged connexion between the northern American provinces and the parent State. Government was of opinion, that the present moment was not the time in which the wishes and opinions of the Canadians themselves, upon the subject of their future government, could be consulted with advantage, and, therefore, they asked for an interval, during which an appeal would be made, he hoped successfully, to their better feelings, and lead the way to those measures of amelioration which both Parliament and the Government undoubtedly had in view at the present moment. This was the general feeling of the Government and, he believed, of Parliament upon this subject. He was aware that objections had been urged against points in the Ministerial plan, and that specious arguments had been urged against its details; but, looking at the present and permanent interests of the colony, and the feelings and wishes of the people themselves, he thought that it would be unwise in Parliament to attempt, at the present moment, to introduce any changes in the constitutional government of Lower Canada. It was upon these grounds that he opposed the proposition of the noble Lord, believing that that which had been proposed by the Government was supported by circumstance, by reason, by principle, and by a regard to the interests of the colonists themselves.
§ Lord Ashburton
concurred in the opinion of the noble Lord who had just sat down, that the settlement of this question ought not to be made at the present time. The noble Earl (Durham) who was going out to Canada, ought, however, to have the power of calling together the Assembly of Lower Canada, in case the misguided people should return to their allegiance, and tranquillity be restored. One thing was clear, that the agitators in the Canadas, 848 who excited others by acting on their fears or working on their passions, like some nearer home, did so from a conviction of the great weakness and evident want of decision of the Government. How could they feel otherwise? They had seen the rapid succession of Governors in a short period. They had seen Sir John Colborne removed to make way for Sir F. Head, and he recalled, to make room for Sir George Arthur, who, in his turn, would shortly retire, to give place to the noble Earl, who was to have the supreme authority in both provinces. It was impossible that such a system could have any other effect than that of weakening the Government in the opinion of the people of the two provinces. He could liken these rapid changes of Governors to nothing but what took place in the early campaigns of the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsula, when three generals-in-chief appeared on the field on one and the same day. He would now come to the question whether the measure before their Lordships was just to the people of Canada. He would at once admit that there was an injustice done by it to the Legislative Council. He would admit too that the state of things between the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada and the mother country had come to that pitch, that we must either give up the colony altogether, or assert the authority of the Crown over it. The whole of the argument of the learned gentleman who appeared at the bar the other evening went to show the impolicy of attempting to govern the colony at all from this country, and indeed he could not see how it would be possible to assert the authority of the Sovereign of England consistently with a compliance with all the complaints of the colonists. A Committee had sat for the consideration of those complaints, and on its recommendation Parliament had consented to redress the grievances complained of, with the exception of that in which it was sought to have the Legislative Council chosen by popular election in the same manner as the House of Assembly; a compliance with that would have put an end for ever to our authority in that colony. He had been a pretty constant attendant on the Committees of the House of Commons which had sat on this subject, and he found that the great object of the leading agitators, and of those who went with him was no other 849 than to set up Lower Canada with a national character, language, and laws, as an independent state, and, finding the Government of this country of "squeezable" materials, as it was termed, they hoped to carry that object. It was admitted on all hands that the Canadians of French origin were for the greater part in extreme ignorance, which many of them had since been shamed out of, and being so, they were persuaded by agitators that the time had arrived when they might assume a national character. They were induced to fall into this notion the more readily by the rapid advances emigration had made in that country, and they naturally thought that if they did not make the attempt now, they would soon be swamped by the masses of emigrants coming from England, Germany, and other states, who could not be disposed to feel any sympathy with them. Many seemed to look upon one possible result of the present state of things with some alarm, —namely, that the Canadas would separate from us, and join the United States; but, for his own part, he would rather see the two provinces join the United States, than see Lower Canada follow her own course. Nobody disputed that the power of the United States was gigantic, and that the accession of two such colonies as the Canadas would add to it; but, looking at their deficiency of harbours, except those in the St. Lawrence, he would say that the possession of those two colonies would not add one iota to her power of annoyance to this or any other maritime state. The case would, however, be very different if Lower Canada were established as a republic under the protection of France. Some reference having been made to opinions which he had given on this subject some twelve or fifteen years ago in the other House, he would state that he still entertained the same opinion —namely, that the value of colonies had been greatly overrated. He did not refer so much to their importance in a commercial point of view, as to the question whether the value of that commerce would not be just as great with the particular place existing as an independent government as if it continued under the sovereignty of the mother country. This led him to say a word as to colonization in general. The great reluctance of Parliament to enter very minutely into all the details respecting them — a reluctance 850 which very probably, placed as we now were with respect to the Canadas, made colonies in general of less value than they were—might render a few remarks on the subject not unnecessary. Under the old system of colonization in Europe the case was very different from what it was at present, and colonies then were more valuable; because at that time all commercial and maritime nations were pursuing the system of colonization to a vast extent. Spain and Portugal had seized on half the New World for the purpose. England, France, and Holland also were carrying on colonization to a great extent in the most distant parts of the globe. What so many commercial nations were then doing became necessary for all, for the colonial system at that time was almost entirely that of non-intercourse with any state but the mother country. The colonies were, therefore, highly valuable to the parent state. It was not so, however, when the colonial system became relaxed, and colonies then became of less value than they were before. This did not apply strictly to all our foreign possessions, for there were, for instance, some of the West India islands, some possessions in the Mediterranean and other places, which, in time of war, were of the utmost consequence to this country, but for other causes than those of their commercial value. The Canadas, however, were not of this description. They were taken from France during the war which ended in 1763, and reserved by this country, not so much for their own intrinsic value as to serve as a protection for our other North American possessions. At that time they were nothing but a barren soil, covered with snow; and as to Upper Canada, it was scarcely known. Now, however, the two provinces ran for 1,200 miles along the frontiers of a powerful— indeed an all-powerful state in the New World. The inhabitants of the North American States were an irritable and arrogant race, like ourselves, from whom they sprung. Looking at the people at both sides of the border—looking at the tendencies of a popular government, it would be almost impossible, under particular circumstances, to prevent the risk of a collision, and of being forced into a war, which he need not say, with the noble Duke, ought not to be a "little war;" for the people with whom we should be then engaged would not allow us to 851 make it a little war. We should consider that such a war must on our side be for the greater part a defensive war, and that must in time be a losing game. These were matters for grave consideration, and should make their Lordships examine whether in reality the colonies were of such value as they were usually held to be. It behoved this country to see what was the permanent value of these colonies to her. His object in making these observations was not to lessen in their Lordships' estimation the commercial value of many of our colonies; but he repeated we should consider whether they would be commercially less valuable as independent states than they now were under the sovereignty of this country. As long as they were content to remain in their present condition under the protection of this country, it was well that they should so continue; but if they demanded to be separate—to take on themselves a national character, then it appeared to him that it would be the wisest, the most liberal, and the most consistent with sound policy to shake hands with them, and let them join with the North Americans, if they so thought fit. We should still have these colonies to deal with, and not the less valuable would be their intercourse because they were under their own Government. Would any one say that the commercial intercourse with the United States of America was of less value to us at present than when most of its states were under the sovereignty of England? On the contrary, would it not be admitted that the commercial intercourse with each was of the utmost importance to the other? If they looked to the possibility of that change which history showed them took place in the condition of the most powerful nations—if the grandeur of England should fade, and its prosperity decay, the greatest monuments of her glory would remain in her colonies. What a contrast between their condition and that of the colonies of other states! When the colonies to which he had alluded came to emancipate themselves, not one of them was found to be capable of self-government. They possessed no public opinion to judge of; they had no common sense to guide them. Of the colonies which bad separated from the parent state the only one which enjoyed any degree of tranquillity was the kingdom of the Brazils. For nearly the entire period of 852 a quarter of a century, during which these colonies had been standing on their own legs, they had continued, almost without a single intermission, rebellious. They had remained in the possession and exercise of all that turbulence which democracy brings. There had been no relaxation of lawlessness or successfulness of rebellion. This country should learn from experience and derive wisdom from the knowledge of these facts. In the present instance, no person of common sense would be found to say that these colonies could belong to England for twenty years. The separation was inevitable, and they should therefore be prepared to expect it, and not to repeat the follies of past times. If they were compelled, as certainly they must be, to give up these colonies when the filling season arrived, it should be their wish and endeavour to part with them on friendly terms, so that kind feelings and relations might still continue to exist. Upon that subject he should have felt much in their case the force of an expression which had been made use of in one of those admirable letters of the noble Duke (Wellington) which had so much delighted the public of this country. Talking of his position in Portugal, at a time when he was oppressed by difficulties of all kinds, the noble Duke said that if he was to leave the country at all, he would wish to go out and leave it like a gentleman. That was precisely his feeling towards the Canadian colonies. If they were of opinion that the colonies should be retained, then the case would of course be different. But if they must go, he (Lord Ashburton) would then say, "Go out in a manner worthy of the dignity of a great people, and so as to merit their gratitude and affections." That was his opinion with respect to these colonies. The time, however, in which that could be best and most advantageously done was a time of quiet and tranquillity, when peace and good feeling prevailed. There could, therefore, be no time less opportune than the present, when a rebellion had occurred, and the minds of the people were excited, and their affections alienated. That would be one great difficulty. They would also have great difficulty arising from the state of their own people in Upper Canada, and from their people in Lower Canada being intermixed with the French population, from the conviction which must necessarily be 853 felt, that if the British settlers were abandoned they must be sacrificed, a result which appeared to him quite inevitable. It was their duty, and their painful duty, when subjects of that kind came under their consideration, to open their eyes and see their real interests and dangers in the matter; and although they might not be able at the moment to act up to their intentions, it was essential they should be ready to do so when the time arrived. As far as the people of Upper Canada were desirous of separating from the mother country, he, for one, did not know whether he would not encourage them; at least he was certain he would be a consenting party. The people of Upper Canada had, however, by their recent conduct given the strongest proofs of their desire to continue united to this country. The late calling of the House of Assembly, by the governor, Sir Francis Head, afforded the opportunity of testing their wishes and feelings in the matter. So far, however, from expressing any such inclination, they expressed directly the contrary, and it was a circumstance of consolation to see, that when they had the opportunity of showing to the world any such feeling, if it existed, they declined to do so, and that too under circumstances of strong temptation, arising from their proximity to a republican Government and other causes. They were conscious of the advantages which they derived from their connexion with this country, and the consequence was, that there never was exhibited so strong a muster of men anxious to defend and continue that connexion. That circumstance, therefore, connected with the state of the population in Lower Canada, would present a bar to acting upon the principles which he had pointed out. As his (Lord Ashburton's) opinions upon the subject had been quoted in another place, he would take the liberty of suggesting to noble Lords opposite, the Members of her Majesty's Government, whether there could not be left to the noble Lord (Durham), who was about to go out to Canada, the power, if he thought proper, of again calling together the Assembly of Lower Canada. There was little prospect, however, of such turning out to be feasible. With these observations he would leave the matter in their Lordships' hands.
The Earl of Mansfield
having had no opportunity on a former occasion of expressing his sentiments, would then 854 trouble their Lordships with a few observations. He felt, however, that he owed a particular apology for coming forward after the able and powerful speeches which had been already made upon the question, and would probably not have troubled them if it had not been for something which had taken place in the debate, which seemed to call for observation. The noble Baron had commenced his speech with so much good sense and knowledge of the subject, as must leave such an impression as the importance of the subject required. The bill upon their Lordships' table, had for its object the suspending of the constitution of Lower Canada, and the providing a temporary government, until Parliament, after due deliberation, should give them another constitution. He did not mean to oppose the bill, but he must say that he assented to it with extreme reluctance. It was founded upon a necessity which he at once acknowledged. It was founded upon the conduct of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada. It was, however, with the greatest reluctance, that he consented to take away any of the rights under a free constitution enjoyed by any portion of her Majesty's subjects, or to deprive them of the representation of a popular Assembly. Their Lordships were in a very awkward predicament. They were engaged in a contest of which many of them would not live to see, and none of them could confidently predict, the issue. Every step which they took should be marked by the greatest caution and prudence, and should be considered as a type of that system which we should adopt towards our colonies—a system of conciliation and justice. It should be an indication of the future conduct of England, and the measure of just severity they were about to pass ought not to be unaccompanied by a declaration of that system. It might be conceived that such a declaration was contained in the preamble. He thought it would have been a better course, and one more consistent with precedent, if that declaration had been made in a message from the Crown. In considering this very extensive subject, their Lordships must take into consideration the conduct of the House of Assembly, of the Government, of the Colonial Secretary, and of the state of the two provinces of Canada. It was to the conduct of the House of Assembly that 855 he looked for a justification of this measure of severity. He had been very much struck by an observation of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Brougham), as to the right which Parliament had given to the House of Assembly, and yet, on the first occasion of their exercising that right, proposing to take it away from them. Now, he could not conceive that the House of Assembly was justified in availing itself of an unfortunate omission of imposing conditions in the act of 1831—an omission against which the noble Duke near him (the Duke of Wellington) and a noble Earl now no more, but who had been at the head of the Colonial department for many years, remonstrated in vain. The Assembly, in refusing supplies, might be said to have exercised a right conferred on that body. Upon that point he wished to state his views. The different branches of the legislature had different powers. Their use was to keep the antagonist principles in a proper equilibrium. If one of those powers were allowed to preponderate, the rights and discretion of the rest became invaded. For, notwithstanding the theories of writers, there was a discretion to be exercised by prudent men. [The noble Lord then proceeded to unfold his position, and illustrated it by extracts from Sir Heneage Finch and other writers.] It was in that way the Americans proceeded before going further in obtaining a redress of their grievances. The House of Assembly wanted also improvements which they wished to introduce. One of these was the new formation of the Legislative Council. How, he asked, could that change, even supposing it to be beneficial, which he (Lord Mansfield) did not believe —how could that change take place without the consent of the other branch of the legislature? If it was an improvement, it could only be effected by the concurrence of all the branches of the Legislature. So far, however, from considering it an improvement, it would be, in his opinion, utterly the destruction of all government. But the House of Assembly had gone further. Not only did they endeavour to effect a redress of grievances by refusing the supplies, but they refused to go on with the regular business of the country; so that when the House of Assembly was prorogued, it seemed doubtful whether there had been a session or not. This was an important doubt; for, if there had been a Session, certain Acts of Parliament 856 had ceased to exist. This stoppage of the public business had been characterised even by the loudest advocates of liberal measures as factious. What could the Governor do? Was he to call a new Assembly? There was no chance of getting a new Assembly any better disposed. When there was a declaration of martial law, and the trial by jury, the right of habeas corpus and other constitutional privileges were suspended, Lord Gosford, could, under the influence of the excitement so produced, hope for no support. The Assembly, he was afraid, would rather vindicate the revolt, than support the Governor. He stated this to show the reluctance which he felt to take away the constitution. His opinions were derived from those with whom he was connected, whose acts, though they had been denounced as arbitrary and unconstitutional, would be found to terminate in substantial benefit. Though differing from her Majesty's present Ministers, as well as from former administrations, he had this satisfaction— that he never advised the Assembly of the province to persist in reiterating their grievances and obtain their redress by a refusal of the supplies. He now wished to make some remarks upon the conduct of her Majesty's Ministers. He must say, that although he had been a Member of Parliament for many years, he had never heard charges so ably stated, and so feebly refuted, and, he might say, so almost wholly uncontradicted. He could not help contrasting the conduct pursued by his noble Friend (the Earl of Aberdeen) and that pursued by her Majesty's Ministers with respect to the appointment of a Governor. His noble Friend had appointed as Governor a noble Lord of great ability and great knowledge of business, but her Majesty's Ministers had sent out three Commissioners, very respectable persons he must admit, but still they agreed to differ on almost every subject that came before them. He must also say that the conduct of her Majesty's Ministers in sending out the resolutions of last year without founding a bill upon them, was highly censurable. It gave rise to a suspicion that it never was the intention of her Majesty's Ministers to accompany the resolutions with a bill. And here he must ask what were the intentions of her Majesty's Ministers? for after all that had been said in the other House of Parliament, and after the dispatch of the 27th of May, his 857 conviction was, that no bill was intended to company the resolutions. Such a suspicion was pretty general at the time, and he must say, that the result had shown that it was a very good guess. There was reason to suppose that this suspicion had extended to Canada. These resolutions which were so well calculated to give rise to much dissatisfaction were, otherwise, wholly inoperative. They must irritate—they could not reconcile. Coupled as they were with the withdrawal of the Bill founded on them, in consequence of the approaching dissolution of Parliament, and taken likewise in connexion with the other circumstances in which they were passed, and with certain events which followed the passing of them, could there be an expectation that the Canadians could believe the assertion that a measure founded on the resolutions would be persevered in. He would ask, also, whether it would not have some effect on the people of Canada when they perceived her Majesty's Ministers taking an active part in supporting a particular candidate, one of the household having presided over the committee of the hon. Member, who was one of the most determined advocates of the claims, and the justifier of the conduct, of the House of Assembly, and this, too, in opposition to a most distinguished officer who had been colonial secretary, and one against whom the House of Assembly complained? This certainly was an indication that her Majesty's Ministers had no certainty in their actions. Whether this was a just inference or not it was a very natural one; it might afford grounds for the arguments of agitators who were endeavouring to keep the people of Canada under a delusion, and it certainly had not been refuted by the words or subsequent acts of her Majesty's Ministers. The noble Earl who was about to proceed to Canada was instructed to collect the opinions of the people, in order to enable Parliament, after due deliberation, to remedy the defects in the constitution of Canada. It appeared to him that the mission of the noble Earl was something like throwing the settlement of these questions into Chancery; it was like granting a lease of the disputes. He did not think that the noble Earl, who was going to Canada to complete his education, would find, when he had been there a time, that he knew more than at present; but he thought that Parliament had already 858 knowledge enough of the case to legislate upon—and he would ask what proof was there that the Canadians would resist?— and to frame an act of Parliament here which would give a constitution to the people of Canada. With regard to the instructions which the noble Baron proposed to send out for the guidance of the noble Earl (Durham), he must say, that it appeared to him that they must undergo very considerable alterations. The noble Earl was directed to bring before his council certain subjects on which he might require their advice; also the 10th of those resolutions which had passed that House was cited—namely, "that great inconvenience has been sustained by his Majesty's subjects inhabiting the provinces of Upper Canada and Lower Canada from the want of some adequate means for regulating and adjusting questions respecting the trade and commerce of the said provinces, and divers other questions wherein the said provinces have a common interest," &c., and the question in debate between the provinces was stated to be among the subjects which the noble Karl ought to bring before the council. That was a very important question; yet he did not know whether the noble Earl was in possession of any means of settling it; but it seemed to him that there was a subject of very great importance, not merely with reference to the trade between the provinces, but the question he meant was, whether it would not be practicable to consolidate those provinces—that was to say, to establish a complete re-union of the two, so as to place them in the relation to one another they occupied before 1791? That he thought a subject well worthy of inquiry, and though he did not mean to give an opinion of his own on the subject, he begged to mention that he had found on perusal of the debate on the subject in 1822, that Sir James Mackintosh made no great opposition to the measure then before the House having this object, but that he went so far as to approve of it. He would also make a few observations with regard to the intentions of her Majesty's Ministers in conjunction with this Bill. It appeared to him that the subject must not be considered by itself. As to any declaration of the intentions of her Majesty's Ministers, he had not been able to find it from the common reports, nor to extract it from the speeches that had been addressed to their Lordships. He had 859 listened with the greatest attention last year to the very able and eloquent speech of the noble Baron (Glenelg), but he could not find any positive opinion on the subject. If the noble Baron had one he had not made it known. When the noble and learned Lord (Brougham) stated his views of the proportionate advantages and disadvantages of holding our colonies, the noble Baron, in his answer, did not adopt or refute the noble and learned Lord's opinions. He thought that it became imperative on her Majesty's Ministers to declare their intentions with respect to these points, and to state whether they intended to preserve the colonies or not. Advantages were derived by the colony from the mother country, and the mother country derived advantages from the colony. In his opinion the advantages were reciprocal. It appeared that the colony had the advantage of the protection of the mother country, and participated in British commerce and in British institutions. The mother country, on the other hand, had the advantage of promoting its own trade, by extending its own commerce, and by providing for emigrants from this country, who would leave it Carrying with them British feelings and British predilections. The colony, too, had this advantage, of not paying as heavy taxes for the protection it enjoyed as under other combination of circumstances it might be compelled to pay, or which it would be obliged to contribute if it were perhaps in a state of independence. The time would come for the colony to separate from the mother country. But, perhaps, that separation was not sought for merely in those quarters of Lower Canada which were in a state of revolt; but there might be the same feeling also prevailing in other parts of the colony, where there was a greater predilection for the institutions of America. One noble Lord had alluded to this separation in terms of eloquence which he could not venture to imitate. That noble Lord had said, that a time might come when British colonies might wish to separate from them, and to such colonies they could say, "We protected you in your infancy, we have given to you institutions that you value, but still, if you wish for separation, then follow that course which seems best adapted for your own interests—pursue that line which you are inclined to adopt, and may fortune attend you; but in separating from us you 860 will carry with you the recollections of the great men of England; you will remember with pride how they have distinguished themselves in arts, in science, and in learning; with you we are by blood perhaps connected, and by name identified—farewell, and remember the country that fostered you in your infancy.Jamque vale et matris serva communis honorem.Such might be their language, but they ought not to provoke that separation. They ought not to take the impatience of control for the maturity of the purpose of separation. But this he must say, that whenever a separation should take place from those loyal colonists, it ought to take place under circumstances that must induce them to become faithful allies. But what he said with respect to the British colonists did not apply to the French Canadians. This class of men had been loyal to the French King, and they had become by conquest subjects to this country, and their obedience was rather to be looked for from their sense of honour than from their regard for this country; for notwithstanding their predilection for old institutions, and their being free from the crimes and offences of the French revolution, and though these persons were under the influence of strong aristocratical feeling, yet their antipathy to the British drove them into the contrary extreme, and they became the great advocates of republicanism. It did not appear, he thought, that they were inclined to an union with the United States, as they could not expect any advantage from that, and it was most probable that such an alliance would lead to an invasion of those institutions to which they were attached; nor could they have that independence to which they laid claim. It was, he considered, most important to know from her Majesty's ministers whether they were determined upon maintaining the control and dominion over these colonies; or whether they meant to anticipate the separation taking place at some time, if not at that very moment. He had no doubt he should be told, that they were determined to resist separation. Then he might be allowed to say, that when they made the declaration of their being determined to maintain a control over the colony, they ought to evince the sincerity of their determination. They said they would maintain their dominion over the 861 colony; and yet not taking every means in their power to support their authority in that country, and maintaining it, too, against any invasion that might take place, was a proceeding not at all reconcilable with their declaration. The noble Duke had stated that they were at war, and that it was impossible for this country to carry on war upon a small scale. He wished to know, did her Majesty's Ministers adopt that maxim? It was a question which every one asked who was interested in the preservation of the colony, and to which every one wished to receive an answer. The answer, no doubt, that would be given again by her Majesty's Ministers would be "Certainly we mean to carry on war, and not war on a small scale." But then came the definition of the noble Duke as to a war; and the manner in which it ought to be conducted —that was, by as great a force being sent there as the resources of the country would allow. This was both a military and a political opinion given by the noble Duke, and he confessed he had great deference for that noble Duke, both in his military and in his civil capacity, upon such a question. The question then came, if a large force was to be sent, whether it was to be sent from the forces in this country, or at its command now, or was it to be sent by means of making an addition to the army? He certainly thought it was most important for them to know whether an additional force was to be sent to Canada by increasing the army, or by taking forces from this country. He had heard a report upon this subject which he considered it to be his duty to mention. It was, that the noble Earl (the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland) had declared that he could spare a considerable force from that country. He did not know whether in making such an offer the noble Lord had not over estimated the tranquillity of that country. He did not know whether theDux inquieti turbidus Adriæ,he who had the province of settling, as well as of raising, the waves of civil commotion, was so inclined that the troops could with safety be spared from Ireland. He did not know whether that same person might not consider the time of their removal a convenient time, not for the commutation, but for the total abolition of tithes, that which he had threatened 862 their Lordships would be the consequence of their rejection of the former Tithe Commutation Bill; a threat, too, which had been reiterated in that House, or if not, distinctly intimated as the inevitable consequence for which they should be prepared. He did not know that there would be either prudence or wisdom manifested in the withdrawal of that force from Ireland, even if recommended by the noble Lord the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. If the noble Lord recommended the removal of the troops upon the ground of the tranquillity of the country, he could reply, that their Lordships might see, by The Gazette, specimens of that tranquillity which it enjoyed. It showed, at the same time, the tranquillity that existed, and the discrimination of the noble Lord in offering rewards for the discovery of particular offences, and which of them it was that he most anxiously desired to be brought to justice. It was his opinion that Parliament would not consent to a reduction of force in that country. Whether that should prove to be so or not, he must be allowed to say, that that was a point which must, if not on this occasion, yet very speedily at least, engage the attention of their Lordships. In the remarks he was now making, nothing could be further from the feelings which actuated him than the spirit of party virulence. He did not pretend to represent the opinions of others, he spoke only his own; but he believed a great proportion of her Majesty's subjects, of extensive influence and large landed and other property, did feel there was a a kind of incapacity in the present Ministers of the Crown from which they anxiously desired to be liberated. He would confess, when he looked at the high power and influence of the noble Duke—power and influence which were never greater than at the present moment —he could not help sometimes regretting that that noble Duke and a right hon. Gentleman in the other House did not take more active measures of opposition to the Government. In moments of irritation and disgust, excited by the feebleness or irresolution of the advisers of the Crown, it was natural that he should lament the absence of that activity; but that had led him to remember that those who were to incur no responsibility should not be too prompt to condemn. But something might be done by those who acted with those statesmen, or acted on the same general 863 principles which guided them—not by active opposition to the Administration, but wherever there was a failure of intention or an infirmity of purpose on their part, or a declaration of purpose and vacillation in carrying it into effect, by passing resolutions as to the state of the country and the colonies as they might seem to be called for. He hoped that they might be extricated from the difficulties that now embarrassed their condition, either by the introduction of a measure of conciliation in the present Session, which would finally settle all disputes, or, if the contest was to continue, by conducting the war upon that extensive scale which the noble Duke had pointed out—an advice, in the propriety of which he believed a majority of this House, and probably of the other House of Parliament, agreed with him. But there remained one consideration— whether a force sufficient to hold the country could in the mean time be maintained in Canada in the face of all those difficulties and dangers which would assail it. There was an uncertainty and hesitation about the proceedings of Ministers which little became the present conjuncture; and if there were, it would not be expecting too much of Parliament that they should give them the benefit of their advice and direction. If that were withheld, this country might be plunged into difficulties so great, that even if the present servants of the Crown were to make a hurried retreat from office, and more worthy advisers to be called to the councils of their Sovereign. It might be impossible to extricate our affairs. It would then be impossible to attain results so advantageous as might now be attained by passing a measure of conciliation—a measure that would settle all disputes—that would protect the loyal and curb only the ill-disposed—but he was confident that it was only by pursuing a course in which firmness was united with conciliation, that they would be entitled to the respect of other nations and the gratitude of their own.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
said, he had taken an opportunity of rising at an earlier period, but had given way with pleasure when he saw the noble Earl about to address their Lordships, the more readily that he did not mean to go through the various topics brought forward in the course of this discussion, but merely to reply to the only observation made by way 864 of objection to the bill, which had fallen from the noble Baron opposite (Lord Ellenborough). Before he proceeded to do this, however, he would notice one or two, and those the most material points, on which the noble Earl who had just sat down had insisted. In the first place, he closed entirely with the opinion stated by the noble Earl in the commencement of his speech, that it was on the ground of necessity alone that this bill could be recommended to their Lordships. He entirely agreed with the noble Earl, that it contained a destruction of the constitutional rights of the Canadians, to which, had those constitutional rights been exercised in a way that was at all consistent, he would not say with the safety and honour of this country, but with the safety and prosperity of Canada itself, it would have been utterly impossible for their Lordships to consent. He agreed in this with the noble Earl, and he thought it a matter of comparative indifference whether this opinion were declared, as was once proposed, in the preamble of the bill, a mode of enunciating it afterwards abandoned in compliance with the suggestions of others, or conveyed in instructions laid on the table of the House, or made the subject, as the noble Earl would prefer, of a direct message from the Crown, or expressed, as he thought would be far the most desirable plan, as regarded its effect on the colonies and on foreign states, in the declaration now recorded, of every man of any consideration in all parties in this and in the other House of Parliament, including, he was glad to find, the noble Earl himself, that necessity was the only foundation on which the bill rested. It was a corollary of that proposition thus stated, and it was evident at the same time from the language of those who recommended this measure to their adoption, that when the necessity ceased the operation of the bill ought also to cease. Far from its being the object of this bill to eradicate the principles of constitutional government in Canada, its object was to provide for the re-establishment, at the earliest period consistent with the admitted necessity of eliciting the opinion of the Canadians, of a government adapted to the wants, and agreeable to the feelings, of the various classes of the population. At the earliest period which that necessity would allow, they would be prepared to apply their minds, so assisted and so instructed, to the establishment of a free 865 constitution which would work, replacing a free constitution which did not work, and which they had evidence on the table to show could never work satisfactorily. The noble Earl having stated this doctrine, in which he entirely coincided, had proceeded to put what he no doubt considered to be an important question, judging from the earnestness of the noble Earl's manner and the length of the statement into which he had entered—a question to which he should have no difficulty in replying—whether it was the intention of Government to retain possession of the colonies. Without hesitation he answered that it was the intention of Government to preserve the colonies, nor did he know anything that had fallen from the lips of any of his noble Friends which could admit of any doubt on the subject. It did so happen, if the noble Earl's suspicions were to be awakened with respect to the possibility of a separation of the colonies from the mother country, it must be not by any opinions stated on that side of the House, but by opinions expressed on the side on which his noble Friend himself sat. No person on the Ministerial side had ventured to designate any period at which a separation could advantageously take place; and his noble Friend (the Earl of Mansfield) at the moment that he declared it was the tendency of all colonies in their progress to prosperity to attain a state in which, from the development of their resources, a connexion with the mother country would be no longer desirable, distinctly affirmed that no reasonable man could at present point out, or even anticipate, the time at which it would arrive. Why, then, did his noble Friend ask if Ministers now anticipated such a period? Most clearly it would be inconsistent with their duty to act on the belief that there was any such definite time, though undoubtedly they might participate with the noble Baron opposite, the noble Earl, and, in fact, with every man who contemplated the progress of civilization and the advancement of nations, in the supposition that there was a possible state of things in which such a separation might take place with benefit both to the mother country and the colony, as it had taken place he was ready to admit, beneficially for both parties in the case of the United States. He (the Marquess of Lansdowne) was not prepared with any theory on this subject; he did not suppose the noble Earl could mean to call on Ministers to lay down any theory binding themselves—binding Parliament—in- 866 volving in the obligation future Governments, by which they would be required to dissolve the connexion with a colony when it should attain a precise amount of population, of commerce, or of revenue. The noble Baron opposite, quoting an expression employed by the noble Duke in a work from which he might well borrow, inasmuch as it was replete with maxims of the soundest practical wisdom, derived from a series of most important events—an expression used in one of the noble Duke's despatches, had said, that it might now be desirable in Canada, as it had once been apprehended in the Peninsula, to go out when you could, like a gentleman, through the hall-door. He could only say he did not think the occasion did now exist, or had yet existed, in which the hall-door was thrown open for them to make an honorable retreat. On the contrary, he maintained that their condition in Canada was such as to exclude them from making such a retreat. He, for one, was not prepared to make it; he would not advise its being made; and so long as the honour of her Majesty and of this empire demanded it, no effort on his part would be wanting to prevent it. It would be disgraceful to the country to abandon to themselves the population of her colonies at the present crisis. The theory of the advocates of separation, as far as it had been laid down, supposed that the people of the colony were themselves favourable to a dissolution of the connexion with the mother country. But there was the strongest evidence that the feeling of the great majority of the Canadians, not the British party alone, but the French party themselves, were strongly opposed to the separation. Many of those who had taken part in the discussions in the other House had argued that the inhabitants of Canada were unanimously eager for a separation; but he was fully convinced that those who cherished that wish formed but an inconsiderable section of the population. If it were required to put forward any justification for that which had been termed a spirit of hesitation and delay in conducting those proceedings, it was, that that apparent delay was caused by a reluctance to have recourse to measures of constraint and violence. The manifestation of that reluctance had been attended, he was persuaded, with a very beneficial effect in convincing the great proportion of the Canadians that there was no desire on the part of the Queen's Government, but on the contrary, 867 the greatest unwillingness, to depart from a system of constitutional government, and that evils of every kind, even those attendant on delay, would be encountered rather than they should incur the false imputation of seeking an opportunity to overturn the constitution of the colony. He repeated, that the policy of Government had been attended with the very best effects; and that the moral interests of the French population of Canada had been in a great degree detached from those of the agitators, who had made an exhibition that he trusted would be followed by the subversion of any influence they might chance to have possessed. Almost all the respeclable part of the French population had for the last two or three years kept aloof from the proceedings of the agitators, and had shown increasing attachment to the throne of Britain. It had been most justly said, that it was desirable, before passing a final judgment on the bill, to be possessed of the latest accounts from the province, and he was happy to say that these accounts stated that address after address was pouring in from the French population, who had taken no part in the revolt, expressive of their loyal devotion to the Queen's Government, and their abhorence of those arts by which the agitators had seduced a portion of their ignorant, countrymen to join the ranks of rebellion. He stated, then, most distinctly, that it. was the determination of the Queen's Government to uphold British connexion, but the noble Earl was not satisfied with this, he demanded to know, whether it was their intention to use the means to carry this determination into effect. He had as little hesitation in answering this question as the other. Undoubtedly it was the intention of Government to use all the means that were necessary for the purpose of giving full effect to their determination. They believed that they had those means at their disposal but if they should prove to be mistaken, they would with confidence apply to Parliament to grant them the means, in the certainty that Parliament would not refuse to grant to the advisers of the Crown, whether those who now discharged that high duty, or those whom the noble Earl opposite wished to see substituted in their places, the means of carrying on the contest on a scale commensurate with its importance, and with its probable effects on the disposition of other nations towards us, for the purpose of vindicating the honour of Great Britain, and of telling America and Europe that, 868 if there ever should happen a severance of the connexion between this country and its North American colonies, it should be wished for, and fairly agreed on by both parties, and not rendered degrading to the mother country by being forced on her by the violence of a paltry faction, or the armed hand of rebellion. He thought he had now answered the questions of the noble Earl. He would not follow the noble Lord into those parts of his speech in which he had adverted to the conduct of his noble Friend. He would revert to the purpose for which he rose originally— namely, to notice the objection which the noble Baron (Ellenborough) had made to the Bill. That objection was, that, whereas he considered it to be desirable to leave to the Earl of Durham, as Governor of Canada, discretion to act with the House of Assembly as he thought fitting on his arrival in that colony, this Bill absolutely deprived that noble Earl of any such discretion. Now, he thought that one of the great advantages of this Bill was, that it did not leave to his noble Friend any such discretion. He thought it desirable that a change should be made in the constitution of that colony, and he should be sorry to throw upon his noble Friend the odium which would be attached to him if he refused to convene the House of Assembly when he had the power to do so. Moreover, he thought that the power of patching up that constitution, which had proved an entire failure, should not be left either to the House of Assembly or to his noble Friend. He had no hesitation in answering the question which had been put to him by his noble Friend, and to say, that his object was to hasten the period of the separation of the colony from the mother country, in the sense given to the words by his noble Friend on the opposite benches— namely, that whatever was done by England to promote the liberty, advance the interest, create the prosperity, and cement the happiness of the colony, did in its inevitable tendency hasten the period when the colony must of necessity become independent. In no other sense ought the Government of England to promote the separation of her colonies from her authority and protection. In that sense the duty which his noble Friend, the Earl of Durham, would have to discharge in Canada, would be to see how far he could reconcile the enmities which had sprung up out of the dissentions which had unfortunately prevailed for the last ten years—how far he could conciliate 869 those differences of race and language, which at present rendered any attempt to erect the colony into an independent state undesirable for its own tranquillity, and how far he could bring together those agricultural and commercial interests which were now opposed to each other, but which he believed to be in Canada, as elsewhere, inseparably blended and connected with each other. He would not trespass further upon the attention of their Lordships—he would not enter into the refutation of the long series of misrepresentations which had been made at their bar on a former evening by the learned gentleman who had addressed them at so much length, though there was one of that learned gentleman's assertions with respect to a right hon. Friend of his in the other House of Parliament to which he was desirous of giving a distinct denial. "I beg leave," said the noble Marquess, "to state distinctly, that every single word which fell from the learned gentleman, respecting the conduct and observations of my right hon. Friend on the occasion to which he so pointedly adverted, is not founded in fact., and that the statement which the learned gentleman made to your Lordships from the bar must have proceeded from an entire want of recollection of everything that really did occur. If I were to go into a statement of what my right hon. Friend assures me that he did say, I could show your Lordships, that the statement was supported to its letter, not only by the speeches, but also by the writings, of the learned gentleman himself. I am ready, when the occasion arises, to enter into such a discussion; but at this late hour, as the subject has not been referred to in the course of the debate, I think it unnecessary to enter upon a subject with which I admit that it has no necessary connexion." The noble Marquess concluded by stating, that he gave his cordial support to the present Bill.
§ Lord Brougham, when he reflected on his position in this House during the former stages of this bill, and compared it with the altered position in which to-night he found himself, to observe the contrast between the two was remarkably encouraging and pleasing to him. He no longer could be said to stand here alone to denounce this measure. He no longer could be complained of as being left unsupported on all hands in his opposition to this bill of tyranny and injustice. He no longer stood up among their Lordships to have 870 levelled at him—sometimes the lighter missives of sarcasm and taunt—sometimes the heavier artillery of statement though seldom indeed anything approaching to argument. He no longer stood there to have all those matters launched at his single and unsupported head; but he had the gratification to know that he had lived to see truth making its way, and to find himself supported by some of the most respectable members of their Lordships' House, in what he formerly should have reckoned in that House as it almost universally was out of doors and in the other House of Parliament, the most hopeless part of his whole views. And if to be supported in his views, if to find an advocate to back and stand up for constitutional privileges, were grateful to him— as it was to find himself supported on those principles—how much must his gratification be heightened when he found that, besides the respectability of those supporters in point of talents, experience, and character in that House, who had lamented, as the one did, the unconstitutional and arbitrary nature of this measure, and as another did, who actually announced his determination to vote against it for its injustice—those two descended from and bore the honoured names of two of the greatest luminaries of the law—the greatest, perhaps, in the administration of justice that this country ever produced, and who had left to their descendants a prouder inheritance than the titles they won for themselves and bequeathed to them, viz., their own unextinguishable love of the liberties of their country and adherence to its laws, and abhorrence of their violation. He might well feel pleased with that change in his present position, for he could no longer be denounced as a partisan, an encourager of rebellion, and taking the part of the revolters. He had even been designated by a pretty plain indication, as like Catiline, for that he had rushed out of the House as that ancient senator had done, for that he had rushed out of the House as that Roman senator did after he had delivered himself of a long, and apparently, by its effects, a not unforeseen oration, against the Lord Glenelg of that time. He admitted that the comparison was not to be carried fully out—there was not another such as the noble Lord; but if he had not a companion in these proceedings to the whole extent to which the likeness might have 871 been borne, the comparison was good in the most essential and important particular —that of objecting to the gross injustice of this measure—a measure which outraged every principle of justice—punishing the innocent with the guilty—making no distinction between the wrong-doer and those who had aided in repelling that wrong-doer—subjecting the whole province to the loss of their liberties because a few parishes in a single county had attempted an unsuccessful rebellion—thus punishing as well those who, instead of revolting, alone enabled the Government to put that revolt down, without whose aid they never would have succeeded in putting down the revolt—punishing them with the same loss of their liberties which it was said the Legislature had a right, with, as it was called, a just severity, to inflict on the rebels themselves. Now, he was told, that the delays which had marked this proceeding, begun as it was in the month of last March, and continued as it was by slow stages, first through the month of April, then through that of May, then through that of June, and then through all the months of the last year; now he was told that those delays were not accidental, as some had asserted — were not unintentional, as others had supposed—did not arise from want of vigour and activity, as a third party had contended, and did not emanate, as a fourth party insinuated, from an inveterate habit of wavering and infirmity of purpose. No, it was all design—it was all virtue—it was all system —it was all that natural but invincible repugnance which the framers of this measure had to entering upon a course which might be understood to savour of strong measures, of harsh measures,, of unconstitutional measures, of measures of severity towards the colonies—it was all a reluctance to intrench on the privileges of the colonists, and to suspend their legitimate constitutional rights. The longer one lived the more one wondered. It was just in the verge of probability that those who impeached and those who defended this measure—friend and foe —combatant, by-stander, and looker-on, were all deceived and misled as to the intentions with which her Majesty's Ministers had propounded it. Instead of a fault, the bill might be a perfection— instead of being arbitrary and oppressive, it might be that it was a mild, wise, and 872 just policy which dictated the present conduct of the administration. Was it so? It would be odd, if it were true. Certainly nobody could have suspected it, and if his noble Friend, the Secretary of the Colonies, had not given the weight of his great name and his high authority to the assertion, he should have been disposed to say, and he meant to say nothing harsh— that it was utterly impossible for any man of common sense to credit it. He would venture to predict that the whole proceeding would be continued in the same style in which it had commenced. If it were reluctance that was shown in the beginning, their Lordships might depend upon it that they would find the same reluctance continued to the end. But the fact was, that on the part of Ministers there had been no reluctance to pass those resolutions. They rushed into the thick of the matter on the 6th of March. The time for their reluctance was when all the mischief was done. They had applied a vigorous promptitude to a wrong part of the proceeding. As he had said three weeks ago, they were rash when they ought to have deliberated; but mighty slow, when they ought to have rushed into action. Still he would predict from all that had recently transpired, that there would be the same reluctance in executing, as there had been in framing, their plan. How could it be otherwise? Were the men of constitutional principles who were so slow and reluctant in bringing in their bill likely to be not slow in sending out their bayonets to Canada to carry it into effect, by putting down the constitution and taking the money of the colonists? He asked now, as he had asked three weeks ago, how it happened, if it were necessary to send out a dictator to destroy the constitution of Lower Canada because some few parishes in it had revolted unsuccessfully, that instead of going immediately, their noble emissary delayed so long in faring forth to the place of his destination, as if rebellion looked to the almanack, as if state affairs depended on the barometer, and as if hostilities ceased, as in times of old, at the commencement of the first frost, and were not to be resumed till the appearance of the second or third swallow? As this observance had long been dispensed with in modern war, he was at a loss to conceive how it happened that the noble Earl was not to get the 873 seal of his government till the month of April. If his noble employers felt constitutional qualms about suspending the constitution of Lower Canada, how much greater must be the constitutional qualms of their noble emissary, whose language had always been more vehement than theirs in support of popular rights and privileges? It was as plain as a parish church that the reluctance in him was much greater than in those who framed the measure. He could not be persuaded to go till he had tarried so long as to satisfy the people of Canada of his extreme reluctance to undertake the mission, so that when he arrived there he should have made it manifest to all mankind in that province that his consent had been wrung from him like drops of blood to administer an unconstitutional measure, and for a harsh and tyrannical purpose. He would now return to the short point which alone remained for discussion. His noble Friend who had been listened to, as he always was in proportion as he deserved to be on all subjects, but on no subject was he more deserving the attention of the House than this —his noble Friend, the Marquess of Lansdowne, differed from the noble Baron sitting near him in his opinion as to the course which ought to be taken with a view to the common object of settling these important matters of difference, and accomplishing peace. He differed in this; it was his noble Friend's opinion that the differences could not be settled here, but that they must be arranged and settled in Canada. Did not his noble Friend perceive that, though his opinion might be sound in itself, it was no argument in defence of the present bill? His noble Friend was supposing —if he did mean to use that argument as a defence of the measure—that the present bill gave the noble Earl no power of supplying the measure that might be necessary to an arrangement. The bill gave no such power; it did not even point towards that direction of the compass: it pointed in a totally different direction. It pointed not to settlement, but to inquiry—to non-settlement and delay; it pointed, therefore, towards the very opposite direction of the compass. Instead of sending out Lord Durham to settle the question, the effect of his powers would be, if possible, to render it more unsettled than it now was; instead of sending him out to make an end of these 874 disputes, the effect would be, at best, to leave them as he found them. Whatever new powers he possessed would be not only unauthorised by the act, but contrary to the act. His instructions were—inquire, inquire, inquire—report, report, report. It was one thing, therefore, to ask him to agree with his noble Friend, who wanted an emissary with full powers to settle the dispute on the spot—for he said the dispute should be settled on the spot, not here—and quite another thing to call upon him to approve of this bill, which gave no such powers, which tied up the hands, and which rendered it totally impracticable for him, unless he violated the instructions given by the act, to settle any of the questions or smooth in any manner or way the thorny difficulties which beset them. It was the mere inefficacy of this plan, the utter discrepancy which existed between the powers of the bill and the object to be accomplished, of which he had complained when he last entered upon this painful and he feared hopeless discussion. In order to make an end of the dispute, even on the principle of his noble Friend opposite—in order to the possibility of getting the question settled amicably and satisfactorily to both sides of the water, it was necessary they should send a governor or negociator, with full powers not only to treat, but to grant as well as treat: but here they were hardly giving even power to treat; they had told Lord Durham to inquire; and also comparing the speech of his noble Friend, the Colonial Secretary, with the bill itself, they had disclosed what were their notions as to the speediness with which the prescribed course being pursued, a settlement should be arrived at. How long did the bill say Lord Durham should be there for the purpose of completing the inquiry? Two years. Two years, therefore, according to the framers of this measure, during which inquiry should last; and until the end of those two years, the Legislature of the mother country, which could alone adjust the question, was to be understood not in a capacity to settle it. [Lord Glenelg: Two years is the maximum.] The noble Lord said two years was to be the maximum, but when he recollected the constitutional repugnance of the noble Lord to all harsh proceedings, as displayed through the whole of these proceedings, he could not but think, that the maximum and minimum were likely to be coincident 875 quantities. He asked, in common justice and consistency, why should they punish a whole people for the offences or errors of a few? It was perfectly evident, that the Executive Council contemplated no such measure as this—that was demonstrable by the quotation which had been read by the noble Baron. Was the bill, then, likely to work the purposes of conciliation? That question was answered already. Whatever information Government might wish to have—whatever further knowledge they might desire to obtain by the intervention of Lord Durham for two years or two months on this head, no further inquiry, no further knowledge, was necessary upon this point. Unhappily they knew the effects this bill would produce from the circumstances attending the resolutions of last Session. If resolutions taking the power of the purse, seizing on the strong chest, and spoliating the money of the Canadians, because they in the exercise of rights which we had given them refused to give it up voluntarily themselves—if resolutions leaving the right in all other cases— leaving entire and untouched the whole constitution of 1791—leaving it as amended in 1831—if those resolutions produced first discontent, then disaffection, then revolt, then actual rebellion,—(and who was bold enough to deny that all these had been the consequences of those resolutions — resolutions harmless, compared with this bill—mere water compared with the bitter drugged potion they were now commending to the same lips?)—who, he asked, would doubt that this bill, following up those resolutions, carrying them ten thousand times further, adding to those resolutions, bad as they were, an actual abolition of the constitution and the substitution of a despotism in its room, sent out to them by a dictator to rule over the Canadian people, without one single representative, without check or control within the body of the colony itself—good God! did any man profess to be sanguine enough, or pretend to be unthinking enough, to hesitate for one moment in the conviction, that if the former resolutions had occasioned revolt, the present bill— he used no harsh language, he purposely avoided prophecy—would, at all events, not be found to pour balm into the wound which was rankling from the lesser infliction of the resolutions of last May? Grievously, therefore, should he be disap- 876 pointed, if he found his noble Friend ever proceeded on such a measure with such powers, his hands tied up as they were by this bill—grievously should he be disappointed, if he consented to put himself in such a predicament by going forth on such an errand. He owned he should not be disappointed at all, however much he might regret, if the most deplorable consequences were found to result inevitably from the measure with which they were now following up the resolutions which first produced the mischief. He said the bill not only did not give powers to Lord Durham, but it tied up his hands: it seemed carefully framed with the view to prevent him from exercising any ample powers. He was to make laws undoubtedly alone, or with a council of his own choosing, which was pretty much the same thing. He was to make laws for the colony, but those laws were only to be such as the Canadian Assembly before him, and which he suspended of its functions by his proclamation, would be entitled to make if this bill were not passed. The restrictions on the power of the Assemblies by the act of 1791 were these— that no law could be made by the Colonial Legislature that was repugnant to, or inconsistent with, that act itself. Here, then, was one fetter imposed on Lord Durham's hands: he could not make any law inconsistent with the act of 1791. Such was the effect of the provisions of this bill; he presumed it was so intentionally. He knew that the attention of the Government had been called to the subject in the other House of Parliament by a high legal authority; and he took for granted, that the resources of law at their command had satisfied them that the construction which the words justified would accomplish the object they had in view. But that was not all; Lord Durham was not allowed to make any law whatever which trenched on any act of the Imperial Parliament, or on any act of the Canadian Legislature, repealing or altering any such act. There was another very usurping deduction from those powers of legislation which his noble Friend, the other evening, stated to be so immense, as though no man bad ever possessed such extensive powers before. He (Lord Brougham) very much doubted, whether any man had ever before been sent on such a mission with so many restrictions instead of amplitude of power. There 877 was very little to empower, but very much to tie up and restrain, from the beginning to the end of this very singular Act of Parliament. Then followed a whole list of exceptions—as to money, as to colonial and electoral districts, as to the right of voting, as to the functions of the Assembly, as to the time and mode of calling it together, even as to dividing the unions of parishes, and counties, and districts, for the purposes of elections: with respect to all these subjects, the whole of this ground was tabooed against his powers, high, ample, unparalleled as he believed them to be, and Lord Durham was to be confined, tied down within the simple narrow sphere to which he had already directed their attention. But there was another point to which he wished to call their attention: the laws which Lord Durham was to make were to last, according to the provisions of this bill, not till 1840, when the constitution was to be restored, but for two years afterwards, till 1842. This question then arose, which he hoped had been well considered—what would be the relative positions of Lord Durham and the revived assemblies? Would the revived assemblies have the power of repealing or altering the ordinances of Lord Durham daring those two years? He had read the act without being able to form a satisfactory opinion, whether those ordinances might be repealed or altered by the assemblies when their suspended animation ceased, and when they came into life again in 1840. It rather seemed that Lord Durham's laws should continue in force four years and a-half, that was till 1842, but there was no provision of this nature—"unless altered or repealed by the Assemblies." He looked on this measure as carrying within it, not the promise or earnest of peace, and the chance of conciliation, but rather the seeds of war; he was not, therefore, very nice in examining its features, in surveying its lineaments, in looking to see whether there was any particular symmetry, or any great consistency, in the structure of its parts; he could not help thinking, however, that when another infant, the origin of an Iliad of woes, was produced to the gossips of Troy, and when they looked on the interesting babe, they must have found much more beauty in it to have compensated them for all they had suffered, than our gossips in these days were likely to do when they came, as he hoped they 878 would to-morrow, to survey the offspring they were now ushering into the world. The symmetry, the consistency, and harmony of its parts would be found by no means remarkable. He would offer no amendment. He took no interest in the bantling whatever; he viewed it with abhorrence; he regarded it with feelings of disgust; he considered it a hateful progeny; he would lend it no helping hand whatever; if he did, he believed he should receive no thanks from those nearly connected with it; he would examine it no further; but he was satisfied of one thing —if its long delay had been lengthened out still further, it would have been happy for this country and happy for the colony. But he hoped before it was finally assented to, its features would be compared with the views he had just now flung out, in order that the other mischief might not take place to which he had shortly adverted, of not only sending out this measure with all its faults on its head, but stirring up a legal controversy, raising doubts and difficulties in respect of legality, to make our other proceedings still more intolerable. The noble and learned Lord then alluded to the policy and wisdom of establishing colonies at a time when the exclusive system of foreign powers shut out this country from commercial intercourse with those colonies. But when the colonies we had established were capable of standing alone—when they were fit for the task of self-government—when they could do without our aid, as happily, by the eternal decrees of Providence in the course appointed for nature as well as art, and society as well as nature, we could also do without them, the two purposes of each happily coinciding—the one being able to leave our care, and we able to carry on our commercial and other speculations without their aid—then it was that we reaped the richest harvest of all our former pains and cares; for then we secured a natural ally —a natural market—a people whose circumstances were such that they wanted what we had in superfluity, and we wanted what they had in superfluity—the best definition of a profitable market for both parties; and, above all, they having the same blood and origin—the same constitutional laws—the same language—the same manners—would be more or less our natural friends, our natural allies, and our natural customers, from those physical 879 and moral relationships, which no severance of political ties could ever put a stop to or relax. It was the great benefit of colonial establishments, that in different degrees and kinds in their infancy they helped us as well as we helped them, and, in their maturity, when separation became inevitable, they helped each other, in the increased proportion of our intercourse with independent America as compared with that intercourse during our former political and proprietary empire over it. But, let them remember that all these great advantages depended on the temperate manner in which we quitted the partnership, and the feelings in which the long-subsisting tie was severed. If those feelings were animosity—If wounds were left rankling on both sides, then we could no longer expect anything like the natural, and, in all other circumstances, what under the dispensation of a wise and just policy should be the inevitable advantages of the future intercourse with that independent state. His prayer was, that we might so order our policy with respect to North America, that when the hour of separation did arrive, as sooner or later, by common consent come it must, we might be found to have done nothing that should leave such a wound to rankle, but that the relation of colony and mother country—the relation of temporary dependence and sovereignty on either hand, ceasing in the course of nature, other relations might be substituted of one free state with another—not enemies, but in the utmost honest emulation of rivals on all substantial practical grounds.
§ Viscount Melbourne
was perfectly ready to admit that it was never too late to stop short in a career of injustice; and most assuredly, if it could be proved that the charge of injustice was attachable to the Bill now waiting its third reading, he should think it by no means too late to pause in the course on which they had entered, or at once to alter it. But unless it were proved to be an unjust measure— unless it were unanswerably shown that what they were going to do was, as it had been over and over again characterised by the noble and learned Lord, iniquitous and impolitic—their Lordships would hardly deem it consistent with the interests of this great empire, or tending to have a good effect upon that which was now taking place in Canada, now, at this moment of time, and at this season of the Bill to stop 880 short and refuse to proceed with a measure which had received the sanction of an overwhelming majority in the other House of Parliament, and had arrived at its last stage in that House without a dissentient voice hitherto raised against it, except that of the noble and learned Lord, until suddenly a new objection had been raised on somewhat new grounds, had sprung up on the present occasion. He, however, could not but consider that all those who had enlarged so much upon the dangers arising from past delays must at once acknowledge that Government would fail greatly in its duty if it now consented to alter its well-considered course in a matter of such vast importance, and to which the eyes of all persons, whether in America or in England, were anxiously directed. So far from being chargeable with injustice, the measure now before their Lordships appeared to him as thoroughly consistent with every principle of justice as any he had ever known, and that it was a just and necessary measure was clearly shown by the facts stated and admitted in the speech of the learned Gentleman who had appeared at their Lordships' bar as the Advocate of the Canadians. That speech was one of considerable power, of considerable talent and eloquence, an eloquence, indeed, not of the most soothing, or winning, or persuasive character, or well calculated to move the favourable feelings or win the affections of those who heard it, but it was at the same time altogether the speech of an advocate, omitting all enlarged views of the subject, and exhibiting only (hose narrow principles upon which he founded his case. The learned Gentleman had gone through various statements of the laws made, the proceedings adopted by the Assembly of Lower Canada, but he had omitted to make mention of any of those circumstances which rendered it impossible that the wishes of the Assembly could be carried into effect, But the learned Gentleman had admitted it to be quite true, as had been stated in the resolutions of the Imperial Parliament, that the House of Assembly had refused the supplies. The learned Gentleman had most readily admitted, over and over again, that for two years, "only two years," the Assembly had refused supplies, speaking of it as if it were nothing that for two whole years the entire course of public business should be stopped, the ad- 881 ministration of justice prevented, the salaries of the judges and other civil officers refused, the means of education withheld, the roads unrepaired, the whole service of the colony, in short, unprovided for; as if this were a matter of no sort of importance, and of which no notice was to be taken. The learned Gentleman's condemnation of the Legislative Council was one in which, on the sound general principle, he must concur; but the constitution proposed by the learned Gentleman at the conclusion of his speech went to give entire independent power to the Legislative Assembly, as at present constituted. It was clear, however, even on the learned Gentleman's own showing, that the present state of things in Canada could not go on, and that it was essential for some measures to be taken for the better administration of the Government of the colony; and the most advisable preliminary step appeared to be that which had been determined on —to suspend, for a time at least, the present constitution of that colony. It had been said by noble Lords opposite that the revolt was not a sufficient ground for the Bill. He fully admitted, that revolt, that resistance, was not in itself a sufficient ground; but the whole working of the constitution for the last four or five years, followed up and consummated by the revolt, was ground sufficient for the Bill, and to manifest, that it was fraught with no injustice. The noble and learned Lord had asked, would they punish a whole province for the fault of a few parishes? but the answer was, that there was no punishment in the case. It might be an evil to have an arbitrary Government established over them for a time—it might be a great evil to separate from the mother country—but it was a much greater evil to exist for so long a time without any Government at all; and Government held itself bound in duty not to allow such a state of things to remain, and they fully believed that the measure they had framed would be accepted as a been by all the thinking and well-disposed men of all parties, and by all the inhabitants of the province. A noble Lord opposite had given it as his opinion, arguing on what had passed before, that this would not be well received by the settlers of English descent. He had no reason to expect this to be the case: he fully believed that the measure would be acceptable to all parties. The noble and learned Lord near 882 him had complained that the powers intrusted to the new Governor were restricted in their character. He should have rather expected the complaint to have been the other way—that the powers were too extensive, were tyrannical, despotic; but, notwithstanding the noble and learned Lord's view of the matter, he confidently believed that the powers intrusted to Lord Durham would be found fully adequate to the purpose, and though unquestionably the noble Lord did not go out with powers absolutely to settle, finish, and arrange, yet that he had powers sufficient to enable him efficiently to prepare matters for the final and complete arrangement of the affairs of the province. The noble Lord opposite had gone much into the general question of colonial policy, and as to the prudence of considering closely the advantage which colonies were to the mother country, and as to the wisdom of looking at some future time to the separation of such colonies. There might be some sagacity in the remarks which had been made on this point, but he (Viscount Melbourne) had some doubts as to the policy of making them on this occasion. It was extremely doubtful policy to hold out temptations to separation on every trifling event, on every slight quarrel, on every small difference; and it must be recollected that however this might be considered in a commercial or political point of view, recession, the drawing back, the contraction of territories was no trifling matter. It had never been found easy. The boundaries of an empire might easily be pushed too far, it might be difficult to maintain them, but the drawing them within a smaller limit had never redounded to the credit or the safety of an empire. The noble Lord had said that all nations had parted with colonies at one time or another, and it was true that this country had at various periods lost great foreign possessions, while her greatness had survived the loss; but still it was impossible to deny that the loss of these had given us at the time great shocks. The voluntary parting with colonies was quite a novel idea. The separation of the United States from this country had been adverted to by the noble and learned Lord who stated that the grandeur and power, and prosperity of this country bad not suffered by the event. Perhaps such was the case; but at the same time, it was quite impossible for us to decide what 883 would have been the case had that event not taken place, and we had still maintained our dominion over those states. It was well known, however, that the war with those colonies had cost us a great deal of blood and treasure, and some loss of reputation? but still it could not be shown that we should have stood better if we had given way at the time the declaration of independence was made, instead of carrying on the war to its close in the manner we did. The noble and learned Lord had said, that everything in these cases depended on the temper of mind, the tone of feeling with which we quitted partnership with our separated colonies; yet, although the tone of feeling in which we parted from the United States was none of the most affectionate, our intercourse with those states most rapidly and largely increased after the separation. These were speculations, however, in which it was better not to indulge; it was their Lordships' duty to maintain the territory, the possessions which England possessed; and he believed that we should be fully able to maintain them, not merely by force of arms, but by the good will, the friendly feelings of the inhabitants of those countries; and he had no doubt but that, when peace and order were restored in Canada, means would be promptly found for cementing the union between that province and the mother country, by acting on those principles which it would be absurd to depart from, of considering the local nature of the case, the character of their Government, and acting strictly on the principles of constitutional liberty and freedom.
§ Earl Fitzwilliam
feared that this measure was the forerunner of greater difficulties than the Government appeared to anticipate; but if any individual was more peculiarly qualified than another to meet the exigencies of the case, it was the noble Earl who had been selected by the Government. If the resolutions of Parliament, last year, were received with such disgust in Canada, even as was acknowledged, by the friends of the connexion with this country, what must be the effect of this Bill when it reached the colony? He did not like the words "French party," or "English party;" but, it was well known, that many of the latter party had taken the side of the former. He felt it to be impossible to acquit this Bill of being a great measure of injustice towards 884 Canada. For it seemed to him to be extremely doubtful whether, after the passing of this Bill, it would be practicable to reconstruct a free and constitutional government in Canada. He was persuaded that the authors of the measure would be disappointed in their expectations of success. When he used the term "authors," he did not mean merely his noble Friends, but the people of England, who seemed to have rushed with an incredible blindness into the opinions which they held upon this subject. Under these circumstances, regretting, as he did, to vote against the noble Lords who now occupied the Ministerial Bench, he could not satisfy his conscience if he had allowed the Bill to go to a third reading without briefly expressing his sentiments upon it. He could not but fear that we should have all the scenes of the American war acted over again; that we should experience the same Iliad of woes that were experienced between the years 1768 and 1782; and that we should come out of the contest weakened, and in reputation, and every other respect materially injured by the struggle.
§ Bill read a third time.
wished to propose an amendment, providing for a very possible case; namely, that when the Bill arrived in Canada, it might be found that the Legislative Assembly was dissolved; an event which accounts from that country showed was by no means improbable. In that case the Governor would go out and find that he was unable to obtain that aid and advice which it was in contemplation he should receive. He proposed, therefore, a proviso to the effect that, "if on the arrival of the Act in the colony the Legislative Assembly should be found dissolved, and a new Assembly called, or if, after the arrival of the Act in the colony, it should be thought expedient by the Governor to dissolve the Assembly and to call another, it should be lawful for him to do so, and that the proclamation of the Act should be postponed until it was the pleasure of the Governor to order it to be proclaimed." To him it appeared to be perfectly impossible so to alter the character of the several districts in Lower Canada as to prevent the Assembly from representing the French party; and he was persuaded, that it would be quite as impossible two years hence as it was at the present moment. It was evident that 885 the object of the Government was, that no Lower Canada parliament should ever meet again. Their intention evidently was to endeavour to effect a union of the two provinces. He was sure, however, that in that attempt they would fail. They would then be driven to call a parliament in Lower Canada again; and if they found such a parliament unmanageable at present, how much more so would it be after the passing of this Act? In fact, it would become impossible.
§ Lord Glenelg
disclaimed all intention on the part of her Majesty's Government to form a union of the two provinces. In his opening speech on this Bill he had stated, that whatever speculative opinions might be entertained on the subject of a union, it was evident that there were great difficulties and objections in the way of such a measure. He had never contemplated such a step, unless it should appear to be the desire of both the provinces. He especially wished to guard himself from ever entertaining any such intention, except the minds of the inhabitants of both provinces should lead them to incline to a junction. He could, therefore, assure the noble Earl, that it was not at all the intention of her Majesty's Government to urge a union of the two provinces. Their object was only to endeavour to make such an alteration in the constitution of each province as might enable each to be better governed. He must object to the noble Lord's amendment. It was entirely contrary to the principle of the measure. It would counteract all that had been done, and would excite alarm and difficulty.
repeated, that if it were intended at some time or other to call together a Legislative Assembly in Lower Canada, it would be impossible to take such a step advantageously after the passing of this Act. It was impossible to cherish a hope that, under such circumstances, any lapse of time should render it practicable to call such a Legislative Assembly together; for, during the whole interval, every means would be used to irritate the feelings of the people of Canada. They would be operated upon internally, and they would be operated upon from without. Persons from the United States would be constantly at work among them, endeavouring, by every possible means, to excite them in a way that must terminate in rebellion. 886 He felt he had done his duty in stating his sentiments on the subject. He might be wrong. Considering to how large a majority he was opposed, the probability was that he was so; but being himself persuaded that the measure must fail, he was bound to express his opinion to that effect.
Amendment negatived, and Bill passed.
The following Protests against the third reading of the Bill, were entered on the Journals.
For the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th reasons, February 8, 1838. BROUGHAM.
§ Feb. 9, 1838. BROUGHAM.