The Bishop of Exeter
rose in accordance with the notice which he had given to submit to their Lordships a motion for an address to the Crown, in consequence of the ordinance agreed to by the Governor and Special Council of Lower Canada, relative to the incorporation of the ecclesiastics of the Seminary of St. Sulpice; and, in doing so, he hoped that he should be permitted to state his reasons for adopting this course. When he first brought this matter before their Lordships, it would be in their Lordships' recollection that he said it was his intention to state the reasons which struck his mind in favour of the prayer of the petition, the contents of the petition, and the objects which the petitioners had in view. On that night, if he had experienced any grave opposition to the observations which he had addressed to their Lordships; if he had encountered any grave opposition founded on solid argument, he should have paused and hesitated before he took the decisive step of submitting to their Lordships the motion which he was about to lay before them. But when he found that all he had said on the petition was remarked on by the noble Viscount near him (and he made the observation will all respect to the noble Viscount's fine talents) in a manner that seemed to him to be no answer to his observations, when he saw the importance that was attached to the statement and arguments which he had offered to their Lordships, when he recollected the noble declaration of the noble Duke opposite (that declaration being, that he was strongly and decidedly opposed to this first attempt to break in on the principles laid down at the Reformation); and when, moreover, he found that the sentiments of that illustrious man were re-echoed throughout the empire by every individual who seriously considered the subject, he felt that he had no other course to pursue but that which he had adopted. Such being his impression, he at once informed those who were more immediately interested in the subject, that he meant to give notice of that motion which he now brought forward. And yet, he frankly 195 confessed that he was greatly surprised at circumstances which had since occurred. He had been cheered by the ardent assurance of sympathy in the success of his motion on the part of many noble Lords in that House, and he had been urged on by that assurance, he would say, up to the very day for which he had given his notice; but rumours had since reached him—rumours which those who went through the streets could not help hearing, that new lights had broke in on the noble Lords opposite, that they now have found out that their sympathy had been misapplied; that it was a mistake; that he was wrong; in one word, he was told, that he could not bring forward his motion with any hope of success. The consequence was, that he felt himself placed in a situation of much difficulty; that he felt himself disappointed, discouraged, dispirited; nay, almost already discomfited. Still he was determined, under all the circumstances, to perform his duty to his country, to the British parts in Lower Canada—to the cause of true religion in that most interesting and valuable colony—from that no consideration should induce him to shrink.
The discussion of the present evening would be greatly simplified by one important admission that was now made; namely, that the Seminary of St. Sulpice had no legal right to the endowment which the ordinance of the Governor and the Special Council sought to bestow on it. In lieu of legal right, however, another claim was set up—that the ecclesiastics of St. Sulpice were entitled to this boon in equity; that claim in equity being founded, it seemed, on the suffrance of the Government during the last sixty or seventy years, and the intention manifested by different Ministers, one after another, to deal liberally with that which the recent ordinance professed to give at once. Now, as to this statement, be must remark, in the first place, that the statute called the Quebec Act was directly opposed to the principle on which the ordinance was founded; for that Act, in the very clause which assured to the Canadians the full enjoyment of their property, expressly excepted the religious orders and communities; and, in the next place, the principle on which the ordinance was founded, was not only not supported, but was directly opposed by all the law officers, who, on repeated occasions, had been called upon to give, and had given, their opinions on the question; and, in the 196 next, that principle was not, in any instance, supported by the law officers. Now, he believed, that the Crown was not in the habit of consulting the law officers, from time to time, for the purpose of acting contrary to the opinion of those law officers, when it happened not to be in accordance with the views of particular individuals. Every instance when the law officers were applied to, ought in fairness to be considered as a notice to the Seminary of St. Sulpice, that their claim was considered to be of a doubtful character, and that it was intended to act in conformity with the opinion given. A noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ripon), when at the head of the Colonial-office, had entered into a correspondence on this subject. He directed Lord Aylmer to enter into a negotiation with the heads of the seminary, and stated what terms were to be offered to them. The noble Lord said, "If they do not accept of these terms" (the noble Lord spoke it with all kindness and courtesy, but he did speak it), "if they do not accept of these specific terms, he must, however reluctantly, apply to the Crown to assert its just claims." But if those parties had a legal claim, or a claim founded in equity, what ought to be the result? Would it not have been necessary to concede the whole; to do all that was demanded; to give to those parties everything they asked, every thing, at least, which was included in the right asserted on the one hand, and conceded on the other? And yet, there is no doubt, no question, that the ordinance exercised a certain discretion with respect to what it gave It gave largely, enormously, much more than, he hoped, their Lordships would tolerate; but it did not give all; and by refusing to give all, it thus let in the whole question of what it was right and fair to give.
In this case their Lordships were called on by the constitution of the country to exercise their discretion. The law which required, that the ordinance should be laid before them, imposed on them this duty; and therefore it was necessary for him to ask their Lordships, in exercising that discretion, to consider what was the amount, and what was likely to be the result, of the gift now about to be conferred on this body of ecclesiastics. This was manifestly the more necessary, because, as he informed their Lordships on a previous occasion, the council, presided over by the Governor-general, had thought fit to refuse all in- 197 formation as to the amount of property to be given to this seminary under the ordinance. On that account the petitioners had deemed it necessary to inform their Lordships, through him, of the amount to which the intended donation would extend. The value of that property, according to the report of the Commissioners of Inquiry appointed in 1836, an extract of which he would read, was as follows:—
"The assessment on landed property within the city of Montreal is 2½ per cent, on the rental; and, according to evidence furnished to the Commissioners of Inquiry in 1836, the assessments in that year amounted to 4,150l. Buildings being supposed to pay on an aver age 8 per cent, interest, this would give the total value of property within the city as £.2,075,000 The island of Montreal, exclusive of the city, contains about 140,000 acres, mostly in a high state of cultivation. There are several villages in the island, and numerous country seats in the neighbourhood of the city. An average valuation of 10l. per acre is considered too low by those who are well informed on the subject 1,400,000 £3,475,000 "The commutation fixed by the ordinance varies from 5 to 12½ per cent., according to the extent of improvement on the land. Assuming an average of 7½ per cent., the St. Sulpicians would receive for the commutation of Lods et Ventes £260,625 "St. Gabriel Farm, of 300 acres, comprised partly within the city limits. Fief Nazareth, adjoining this property, has been conceded on building leases, at an annual rent of 3l. for the eighth part of an acre; and, besides paying that rent, the lots bear a value of from 10l. to 75l. each, according to situation. St. Gabriel Farm would certainly produce at present, if divided into building lots and sold on credit, a sum of not less than 50,000 £310,625 "The assessment on buildings within the city is, generally speaking, below the real value, and on farms, orchards, and vacant lots, forms no criterion as to the actual worth. The assessed rental of four properties Collectively, is 207l, which, according to the previous calculation, would represent landed estate to the value of 2,587l., and
yield to the St. Sulpicians, on a commutation of 7½ per cent., the sum of 194l. The real value of these properties being 26,400l., the St. Sulpicians would actually receive 1,980l., being more than ten times the amount previously estimated. "Not much more than one-fourth of the land within the city limits is yet built upon, and, taking that circumstance into view, together with the manner in which the assessment roll is usually prepared, vacant lots being frequently altogether omitted, and the number of valuable buildings erected since 1836, the St. Sulpicians will probably receive for commutation, within the city, over and above the amount already stated, a sum of not less than 50,000 "The arrears of Lods et Ventes, in the city of Montreal, by the Seminary's statement to the commissioners in 1836, amounted to 34,000 £394,625The value of the other seignories held by the St. Sulpicians cannot be so satisfactorily established as that of Montreal. The seignory of the lake of the Two Mountains and its augmentations contains about 200,000 acres, a great part unconceded, and having a valuable growth of timber. The number of inhabitants is supposed to be between 9,000 and 10,000, and there are two villages of some magnitude, St. Benoit and St. Scholastique. The seminary has two corn-mills and eight or ten farms in its own management, and several saw-mills and manufactories are possessed by individual proprietors.The seignory of St. Sulpice contains about 70,000 acres, all conceded. The population is about 12,000. There are three villages in this seignory, St. Jacques, St. Sulpice, and L'Assomption; the last named contains about 200 houses, many of them costly and commodious stone buildings.It would occupy too much space to go into a minute detail as to the probable sums to be levied on these two seignories on the terms provided in the ordinance; but it may be assumed with certainty, that the capital represented by the Cens et Rentes, the farm property, and the commutation of Lods et Ventes, would amount to more than 100,000l., yielding to the St. Sulpicians, the seignory of Montreal inclusive, a sum total of about 520,000l., in addition to which they would acquire a valid title to nearly 150,000 acres of land in the seignory of the Lake of Two Mountains, and the arrears of Cens et Rentes and Lods et Ventes on the two seignories amounting it may be supposed to a large sum.The entire value of the property was 199 estimated, it would appear, at 520,000l. He believed that the value was not overstated. If, however, any doubt was felt on that point, one or two of the parties who so estimated it were now in town, and would be glad to be examined at their Lordships' bar in support of the accuracy of their valuation. Now, the interest of money in Lower Canada was 6 per cent., which on 520,000l. gave an income of something more than 30,000l. a-year. The amount was no reason why the grant should be withheld, if it were demanded by justice, and he for one would not join in an adverse vote, if such were the case. But as this is not the case, as, on the contrary, the claim of right is abandoned, it behoved the Legislature of a Protestant country to consider well before they gave so enormous a sum for the support of the Roman Catholic religion—before they agreed to allow so enormous a sum for such a purpose in a country where 30,000l. a-year, an extremely large sum in any country, was absolutely appalling when they reflected on the purposes to which it would necessarily be applied. That sum was equal to one-third, or nearly so, of all the revenue of the lower province. He could not conceive how they could, consistently with their duty, give to a body of Ecclesiastics a sum equal to one-third of the revenue of the province for the purpose of maintaining the Roman Catholic religion. Why, the church of Rome in that province was already enormously richer than the Church of England—it was richer than the Church of England beyond all calculation—and the sum which they were now, by this ordinance, about to bestow on the seminary was an additional grant to seven times the whole amount that was given by the Government to the parochial clergy of the lower province. Let their Lordships also bear in mind that the miserable 4,000l. a-year given to the church in Canada was not settled in perpetuity. There was an absolute pledge given, that it should be contracted as the individuals dropped off to whom it was now doled out. But with respect to the Roman Catholic seminary, they were called on permanently to endow it, so that, through all generations, this Popish establishment might be upheld and supported. It ought to be recollected that Montreal was a city to which vast numbers of needy emigrants from this country resorted. There were no Poor-laws there—there were no means of relieving the distresses 200 of the poor. Under these circumstances, to give 30,000l. a-year to be dealt with by this ecclesiastical corporation, amidst such a population, was, in fact to enable them to plant triumphantly the standard of the Roman Catholic church throughout the whole province. Why this liberality to the Roman Catholics? Were their Lordships justified in this course, and were they even doing that which they were bound to do by the statute-law of the land? Not even so. By the statute law of England, by the statute law of Canada, and by the instructions which were issued to all governors of this province, and he supposed, therefore, to the present noble Governor, all the tithes due from Protestants were to be employed for the purpose of maintaining the Protestant Establishment. Not only was this the case, but it was also ordered by the instructions to which he alluded, that the amount of funds derived from vacancies in the church, should be employed in the same way. Such were the requirements of the statute law, and of the instructions issued by the Government to the governors of the province; but at this hour there was not an instance of a cure of the Roman Catholic church having a legal right to tithes; because none of them had received the licence of the governor. This had been told him by a high authority in the province, on whose testimony he placed the fullest confidence, and if he were wrong, there were some of their Lordships would have the power of contradicting him. The result was, that all the tithes in right belonged to the Protestant clergy, for there was no lawful Roman Catholic incumbent; yet, as they were not paid directly to the Protestant clergy, but through the governor, the Protestant church had lost every shilling of the amount. On this subject it was impossible to forget the measure of last Session in reference to Canada. Their Lordships had seen what a meagre and beggarly support had been given to the church of England in Canada, while that church, with others of a similar faith, had a clear, an exclusive, and an admitted right to the whole of the clergy reserves. Their Lordships were then quite willing to yield at the bidding of other parties, who required them to sacrifice the legal rights of the church—rights which it was their sacred duty to preserve—and yet he feared that they would be ready that night to act on a contrary principle, and would profess to admit the sacredness of 201 not legal, not equitable—but factitious and merely colourable—claims. In short, he feared that a majority of their Lordships would that night manifest a disposition to deal lavishly in favour of the church of Rome. That that church might have a claim on some persons he would not deny, but if it were admitted by their Lordships generally, he must presume that it would be admitted from a deep sense of duty. Yet how can a sense of duty lead them to such an admission? If this ordinance passed, it could only be regarded as a measure for Papalizing Lower Canada. Such would be the result, and if their Lordships consented to this ordinance they had better make up their minds to see it speedily realized. If their Lordships were resolved to give up this property to the Papists, if they thought that such a course was the best that could be adopted for attaching the Roman Catholics of Canada to Protestant England, and if for this reason of supposed expediency they were willing to sacrifice the interests of true religion, they must act as they saw fit; but for himself, he had a duty to perform to a Higher Power, and to a Higher Authority than any which he saw around him, and he should not shrink from the performance of that duty.
Whatever right the Roman Catholics had to this property—whether they had a claim in equity, or a claim on their generosity—it must at all events, be admitted, that that claim could not be on a better footing now than it was when the parent seminary was in possession under the rule of the French King. This seminary was an offshoot of the seminary of St. Sulpice at Paris, which, in 1667, was endowed with the seignory of Montreal by Louis 14th. The letters patent of 1667 were in the following words:—Louis, by the Grace of God, &c. Whereas the ecclesiastics of the seminary of St. Sulpice, of the Fauxbourg St. Germain de Paris, have humbly exposed to us that the Sieurs Faucamp, &c., have, by deed of gift, bearing date the 19th of March, 1663, given and conveyed to them the seignory of the island of Montreal, in New France, with its appurtenances and dependencies, whither they have sent priests, who have laboured in the conversion of the savages with so much success, that they have determined to send out other priests, to the number of fourteen, to establish a community, if it be our pleasure to grant them the necessary letters patent for this purpose—for these reasons, be well informed that we cannot do anything more advantageous for the propagation of the faith, and for the establishment of the Christian religion in our province of New France, and being willing to 202 favour the said memorialists, we have permitted, and by these presents do permit them, to erect a community and seminary of ecclesiastics in the island of Montreal, there to labour, according to the intentions of the petitioner, in conformity with the holy councils of the church, and the ordinances of our kingdom, in the conversion and instruction of our subjects, and in prayer to God for us and our royal successors, and the peace of the church, and of our kingdom.Such was the state of the seminary while Lower Canada was under the dominion of France. The ecclesiastics of that institution were bound to the performance of certain specified duties, in consideration of the vast endowments which were bestowed upon them, and the Crown of France had a right, and was bound, to see how the purposes for which the seminary was instituted, were fulfilled. This was an institution, not established for private, or even for merely charitable, purposes. France had a great state object in view—namely, the conversion of the Indians, and the instruction of all the subjects of New France, or Canada. Before the conquest of Canada, the seminary held its property under the Crown of France in consideration of the performance of the duties which he had mentioned, and the Crown of France was bound to see how those duties were discharged. Now, he need not tell their Lordships, that on the conquest, England obtained possession of Canada with exactly the same rights which were enjoyed by the kings of France. The right of conquest was, that the conquering sovereign should succeed to all the rights, power, and authority in and over the conquered province which were possessed by the sovereign from whom it was acquired. At the peace of 1763, Canada was ceded to this country, and by the express words of the treaty which was then concluded, all the rights, power, and authority possessed by France, were transferred to Great Britain. Their Lordships would therefore see, that the seminary of St. Sulpice was, even after the conquest, bound to dispense the funds arising from its vast endowments in the fulfilment of the great public purpose for which it was originally established—the conversion of the Indians, and the instruction of all the subjects of Britain in the province of Canada, and that under the direction of the Crown of England. Such was the necessary result of the conquest of Canada by England. From the circumstances of the province at that time, however, it was not surprising that England should have 203 been unwilling, immediately after the conquest, to exert the full right and authority over the seminary which she had acquired—that she did not at once insist on the funds arising from its possessions being applied to the conversion of the Indians, and to the instruction of all the subjects of England in Canada according to the principles of that religion which was acknowledged as true by the Crown of England. Yet, that England had that right was unquestionable, as their Lordships would find, on reference to the third book of Grotius's work De Jure Belli et Pacis, chap. 8. There the principle was distinctly laid down, that the conquering sovereign succeeded fully to the rights, power, and authority, enjoyed by the conquered sovereign, and he therefore held that, unless there were any special stipulations to the contrary in the treaty of peace, England had obtained over the seminary of St. Sulpice, all the rights which had been enjoyed by France. Now, in what way was it that this principle operated? Under the conquest, it became the duty of Great Britain to see that the funds arising from the original endowments of the seminary should be disposed of in the way appointed by the deed of Louis 14th, that was, for the conversion of the Indians, and for the instruction of all the subjects of the British Crown in the province, according to the doctrines of the Church of England. He was not going to claim it as the bounden duty of the sovereign of this country, that he ought to take possession of the whole funds, and that he ought to insist on their being applied solely in promoting instruction, according to the doctrines of the Church of England. He had no such intention; but the least measure of the duty of the Crown of England was, to see that a fair proportional part of the revenue of the seignory should be devoted to the religious instruction of Protestants; that was the least duty of the sovereign of this country, under the rights which were obtained by the conquest. If there were any doubt on their Lordships' minds on this point, he would remind them that the Sovereign of this country had entered into the most solemn and stringent engagements, in regard to this subject, and the Ministers of the Sovereign, offering their advice to the Crown, were bound by their oaths to hold those engagements sacred. Let them for a moment suppose, that while the seminary held its possessions under the Crown of France, the body politic in that nation had thought fit 204 to dissociate itself from Rome, and to become Protestant; what, under such circumstances, would have been the duty of the King of France? Had France become reformed, the King of that country must have insisted on the seminary employing its revenues in the promotion of religious instruction according to the doctrines of the Reformation. If there were any doubt on this point, then he would ask how was it, that, in this country, those endowments which had been granted in Popish times for the support of the Roman Catholic Church, were transferred at the Reformation to the Church of England? The same principle must necessarily have been acted upon in Canada, supposing France had become, like England, a reformed country, and had separated herself from the Church of Rome, and this seminary would then have been bound to administer its revenues for the promotion of the doctrines of the reformed religion. If this were the correct principle to be applied in the case of France which he had supposed, was it not to be equally applicable to England? Was the right of England less than the right of France? Was the right of a foreign sovereign greater than that of their own? England, now that it had possession of Canada, had the same rights and duties as France would have had, had France become reformed. If it were not so what would be the consequence? If great Britain had obtained possession of the colony, and if France had become reformed as well as England, then, if the doctrine which he had contended for were not correct, neither Great Britain nor France could have touched the revenues of the seminary nor applied them to any other than Roman Catholic purposes, even should both nations have become Protestant. Such was the manifest tendency of any doctrines at variance with the principles which he advocated.
In other words popery would have acquired in Canada a surer and more unalterable establishment by that province becoming a part of the dominions of the Crown of England, than it could have had while it continued a dependency of France.
They had heard a great deal of the consequences which it was asserted would result from denying this ordinance, and within the last twenty-four hours he had listened to much about the agitation and excitement which a refusal to sanction it would create. They were even told, perhaps by way of threat, that such a 205 course would revive a third rebellion in the province, and they were asked whether the prevention of such consequences would not be cheaply obtained by allowing the ordinance, recommended as it was by the Governor of Canada and his Special Council? He was not, however, aware that the noble Governor of the colony or his Council was infallible. They might err like other men, and he had the satisfaction on a former occasion of hearing from the noble Viscount near him a statement to which he now wished to call the attention of their Lordships. In reference to a dispatch from the noble Governor of Canada, in which he stated that he had pressed forward this ordinance in conformity with instructions from the Government at home, the noble Viscount had said that the Government had given no instructions upon the subject: all they said was, let some ordinance be passed. At least, then, he was warranted in concluding that this ordinance had not the sanction of the judgment of Her Majesty's Ministers. But were there no authorities on the other side of the question, and against the ordinance, as well as against the fears which some entertained of the consequences of refusing to sanction it? The British petitioners in Montreal—that body which in times of danger and difficulty had loyally supported the rights of the Crown—stated, that they apprehended no such danger, and they expressed their confident hope and prayer that the ordinance would not be passed, for this only reason, because to pass it would not be less unjust than it would be mischievous—mischievous, because tending to destroy the peace and tranquillity of the province. They had also the almost unanimous resolution of the magistrates of Montreal—eighteen out of twenty-four—not contradicted by any one of the other six against the ordinance, and expressive of their opinion that no bad consequences would result from its rejection. Nor was this all. The Solicitor-general of the colony also thought that no danger would result from its rejection. There was also the authority of four members of the Special Council to the same effect, and this was not all the authority they had upon the subject. He was able to state, upon the authority of two gentlemen of Montreal, that no danger was to be apprehended from the course which he advocated. One of those gentlemen had expressed his astonishment on this point in the strongest terms. 206 So strong, indeed, was his language, that he had begged leave to write it down, but the gentleman to whom he alluded was willing, if their Lordships saw fit, to state his opinions at the bar of that House. He had informed the noble Viscount who those gentlemen were, and, from the conversations which he himself had held with one of them in particular, he was satisfied that his statements were entitled to the utmost consideration. This gentleman was cautious in stating facts, he was a religious man, and anxious to correct any exaggeration into which he might have fallen. He would now read to their Lordships what this gentleman had stated. Mr. Matthewson, a member of the corporation of Montreal, on reading Lord Sydenham's despatch of January 20, 1841; in which he says that "all excitement has subsided," declared, in very strong terms, "that this averment is most delusive. (Of course, not written with a delusive intention on the part of the governor.)True it is, they say, that there is now a cessation from active measures of resistance. But this proceeds from the British party being satisfied that they have done all that is in their power against the ordinance, and because they have a confident hope that their petition to Parliament will be successful. Should this hope be disappointed, a feeling of deep dissatisfaction and discontent would be produced, though they may be too loyal to attempt any resistance to what, would then be law. One gentleman, a member of the Special Council, who had himself previously to the ordinance commuted his property and was therefore interested in seeing the claim of the seminary established, was yet strenuously opposed to the ordinance, because, as he publicly said, he considered it most iniquitous, and likely to endanger the safety of the colony, by weakening the attachment of the British population. Many other persons have said the same to these gentlemen, adding that they would gladly sell their property, if they could do so without a ruinous loss, and quit the colony for ever, rather than live there, when it is thus given up to a Romish seminary. They themselves had this feeling. There is a strong feeling on the part of the Protestants that the ordinance deals unfairly with them, who stood by the British Crown in the day of danger. There is scarcely one of the petitioners who did not take up arms and expose his life for the maintenance of the British Crown in Canada. On the other hand, few of the Canadians of Montreal, and those few connected by marriage or otherwise with the British, took up arms.In the battalion in which Mr. Matthewson himself bore the commission of captain, a battalion between 700 and 800 strong, 207 there were not more than twenty Canadians. He reckoned the number at the highest: he did not know that they were more than ten. Yet in the other three battalions he believed they were still fewer; for his battalion was formed of the inhabitants of the West Ward, in which the Canadians abound, it being in that part of Montreal which is mixed with the country. Mr. Matthewson said, he was confident that an address from that House against the ordinance, thus remitting the question to the provincial legislature, would not make the Canadians disaffected. He believed fully that they would be themselves glad of it, though under the influence of their priesthood they had supported the measure. He gave an instance. He himself carried the petition round his own ward, and on asking a most respectable Canadian, a Roman Catholic, a particular friend of his, an active magistrate, and most loyal man, one whose loyalty had exposed him to the threats of the rebels, one of the six aldermen of the corporation of Montreal, a churchwarden of the Roman Catholic church, to sign the petition, that gentleman read it and answered,You know the situation in which I am placed; I wish you to go on and prosper. If you had in your petition asked the Government to give the seminary something handsome, in consideration of their long possession, I would have signed your petition.Now, these petitioners said nothing to the contrary; nay, they were prepared to have joined in such a measure, and if a measure to settle this question could have been brought forward in the British Parliament, he had been furnished with documents by the petitioners which proposed to give to these ecclesiastics, or to the objects or establishment of which they were the head, a sum of not less than 8,000l. per annum, a sum equal to all that hitherto had been received by them. These then were authorities—important authorities, against the notion, which it had been attempted to make prevail in England, of the probability of a fresh rebellion in Canada, if this ordinance were not carried into effect. It seemed, however, that under this erroneous notion the British population in Canada, who already considered themselves much injured—they who had offered to shed their blood for this country, were to be sacrificed to the supposed interests of those who had rendered necessary the offer of that sacrifice. But these were not the only authorities with which he was pre- 208 pared. The fact was (and it was a fact not to be denied), that one of the greatest inducements, one of the most successful excitements to the rebellion in Canada, was, that if the rebellion succeeded, the population would get rid of all seignorial dues. So much was this felt that when Mr. Nelson attempted to re-excite the rebel feeling after it had been put down by the petitioners under the wise governors at that time placed over them, in one of the proclamations which be issued from the American borders, he stated as one of the grounds why he called upon the Canadians to renew the rebellion was, that by so doing they would get rid of all seignorial dues: and yet the House was to be now told, that if it interposed between the Governor and Council of Canada and the Crown in this instance, and thus obtained for their fellow-Protestants an act of mere justice, that then, forsooth, there would be a fresh rebellion. But while their Lordships were considering these matters, whether they were to encourage rebellion by pursuing one course, or to repel it by following another, he (the Bishop of Exeter) must remind them that there were other considerations which ought to have some weight. Was not right, was not duty right, was duty still to be considered of some weight? He knew not whether or not the time was gone by for such considerations, but here there was a claim of common honesty to be preferred—a claim which he trusted their Lordships would not lightly abandon. He repeated that the funds which these ordinances disposed of were not the Queen's, nor the governor's, nor the legislature's to give—they had already been given, and they belonged to the consolidated fund of the province—they had been surrendered already, and surrendered too on terms which formed one of the conditions of the union of the two provinces. Their Lordships knew well that all hereditary, territorial, and other revenues at the disposal of the Crown had been fully surrendered by the Act of Union to the provincial legislature. On a former occasion he had shown that the claim of the Crown to the property in question, was stated by the commissioners in 1836 as one item of value in the list of the boons which were to be given in exchange for a civil list. He had, however, since heard it remarked, that in another report a few months afterwards these very commissioners had said, that Parliament ought in generosity, or rather in the equity of generosity, to have given 209 this property to the seminary. Now, with all respect to the commissioners (and for one of whom he entertained the highest respect), there were no grounds for the position they had taken. Be this, however, as it may, what was the real course of the proceedings of these commissioners. In the January of that year they had offered to the Legislative Assembly all the hereditary revenues and (eo nomine) claims of the Crown in the Seminary of St. Sulpice for a civil list. The offer was refused by the Legislative Assembly, and therefore the commissioners were not bound to act thereafter in the same way, and they were at liberty to advise a different disposal of these funds, and so they did. Their advice, however, was not taken, and what then? Was this the last time they had heard of the proposition to surrender all the revenues of the Crown in exchange for a civil list? No; for the offer had been repeated by Sir George Arthur. The noble marquess (Normanby), reminded him, that Sir George Arthur was in Upper Canada. That was quite true, but in his time a bill on the subject had been proposed, which ought, if it stood alone, to have no operation on the question now before their Lordships. But when Lord Sydenham went out as governor of the whole province he opened the Parliament of Upper Canada in these words:I am commanded again to submit to you the surrender of the casual and territorial revenues of the Crown in exchange for a civil list.He admitted this offer could not be held to include the revenues of the lower province, but then this was not all that passed on the subject: for four days afterwards Lord Sydenham sent a message to the Legislature of Upper Canada as to the terms of the union of the two provinces: and in that message what did he say? The noble Lord stated three conditions upon which the union was to be based, and of those conditions the second stipulation was the grant of a sufficient civil list. The legislature of Upper Canada, the only constitutional legislature then existing, answered that demand of the governor, accepting the offer he had made to surrender the Crown revenues, and engaging to unite with the lower province on condition that there should be a surrender of all the revenues of the two provinces. [Lord Ellenborough.—No, no, not a word about it.] The noble Baron would have an opportunity by and by of showing there 210 was not a word about it; but in the mean time he thought he should be able to prove that there was a word about it. These, he repeated, were the terms offered for the union of both provinces; the second stipulation for the grant of a sufficient civil list; and the third for the charge of a portion of the debt incurred by the upper province upon the lower province. In the despatch he admitted that nothing was said in terms about the surrender of the Crown revenues; but that had been said before, and the question really was, whether the revenues of St. Sulpice were at the disposal of the Crown at the time the ordinance passed, or rather at the time the Act of Union passed. It could not now be denied that such was the case; but it would, perhaps, be said, that these ordinances took place before the Act of Union, and the revenues of St. Sulpice were therefore separated from the revenues of the Crown. He denied that the ordinance in question was worth the paper on which it was written until it had received the Royal sanction. The noble Viscount near him (Viscount Melbourne) shook his head. Why, true it was, that till November, 1842, the ordinance would be available if the Crown does not disallow it; but after that date, without the express sanction of the Crown, the ordinance would be absolutely void, and the House was that night called upon to decide, whether they would not advise the Crown to withhold its sanction of the ordinance.
He contended there could not be a permanent union under the Act of Union, unless all the stipulations made in that act were faithfully fulfilled, and one of those stipulations, he repeated, was, that all the property of the Crown should be placed at the disposal of the legislature of the province. The present question, therefore, was not an affair of generosity, for the funds had already been disposed of; it was a question upon which their Lordships ought to bear in mind the old adage "Be just before you are generous." These funds, the property of the Crown, had been placed at the disposal of the provincial legislature, and, therefore, in common honesty their Lordships were bound to remit the question back for the consideration of the provincial legislature. This was one of those points upon which on a former occasion he (the Bishop of Exeter) had the honour to receive the support of the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Wellington). The noble Duke had (as he 211 always did) stood forward plainly, simply, but manfully, in asserting the duty of this country to look to the distinct obligations which justice imposed, and he had recognised this as a clear and prominent claim of justice. Having already on a previous evening occupied their Lordships' attention, and feeling very much indisposed to trespass longer, there remained but one more topic upon which at present he desired to touch. It related to the character of that corporation which would be created by the ordinance, if permitted to pass. It professed to make an ecclesiastical corporation of these Popish ecclesiastics. Now, with all respect to the opinions of noble and learned Lords, (of whom he regretted there were at present only two in the House), he would in their presence venture to say, that no body of Popish ecclesiastics could be constituted an ecclesiastical corporation without violating the fundamental principles of our constitution. Let them but look to the purposes for which this body was to be incorporated, and the two noble and learned Lords present would, he was sure, sustain him in that opinion. It was the purposes for which it was incorporated not the persons incorporated which made it, or not, an ecclesiastical corporation. He had seen, it was true, an instrument which professed to incorporate some Popish ecclesiastics in Canada by letters patent, passed by George 4th, during the administration of colonial affairs by Earl Bathurst. That was not, he contended, an ecclesiastical corporation, and no attempt had been made to make it so. If the noble Earl opposite or any other noble Lord urged that instrument as a precedent on this occasion, he should listen with patience to the reasons why it should be so regarded, and either be convinced or have an opportunity of answering them; but, until he was better informed on the subject, he maintained with confidence that the purposes for which a corporation was designed could alone make it an ecclesiastical corporation. This was the language of a high authority on the subject of corporations (Kidd on Corporations):—Ecclesiastical corporations are those of which not only the members are spiritual persons, but of which the objects are spiritual. It is not the description of persons forming the members of the corporation, but its objects, which make it a lay or spiritual corporation.The colleges at Oxford and Cambridge were corporations, some of them consist- 212 ing principally of ecclesiastics, but they were not ecclesiastical corporations. He would not say whether it was within the power of Parliament itself to establish such a popish corporation as was intended in this ordinance, but he must deny the right to incorporate, salvâ republicâ such an institution in this country, or in any of its dependencies; it would be at variance with the Act of Supremacy He must entreat their Lordships to remember that the statute of the 1st of Elizabeth was made by subsequent Acts of Parliament specially to apply to Canada. Both the statute of 1774, called the statute of Quebec, and the 31st of George 3rd, ch. 31st, specially decreed that the supremacy of the Crown, as established by the 1st of Elizabeth, should be maintained, not only in England, but in all countries which either then were, or thereafter should be, under the dominion of the Crown of England; therefore, above all countries that could be named, Canada was that in which it would be most presumptuous in any government to violate the supremacy. That it was violated by this ordinance, was, he thought, pretty clear. He begged to ask, who would have jurisdiction over the incorporated body of Roman Catholics? On looking at the conclusion of the ordinance concerning St. Sulpice, he found these words.And be it further ordained and enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the said ecclesiastics of the Seminary of St. Sulpice, of Montreal, and their successors, as to temporal matters, shall continue and be subject to the same powers of visitation as in like cases were possessed and exercised by the kings of France before the conquest of the province, and are now possessed and exercised in that behalf by her Majesty in right of her Crown.Here, then, was an abandonment of the Crown's supremacy in spiritual matter, in this very ordinance. Would it be said, that in spite of this abandonment by implication, it could not be got rid of? If so, he wanted to know how the Crown was to visit the seminary. By the common law of this land all ecclesiastical corporations were visited by the ordinary. The ordinary of Montreal was Dr. Mountain, the Protestant bishop. Was he to be the visitor of this Popish seminary? If not, who was? The name of the Roman Catholic bishop of Quebec was mentioned, but the noble Marquess had stated this arose from a mistake. He 213 was glad to hear it, far a Secretary of State to ascribe to a Popish ecclesiastic a diocese within the dominions of the Queen of England would be a high crime and misdemeanour. Chief Justice Holt laid down that all ecclesiastical corporations must have a visitor; here there could be none, and on all these accounts he maintained, that it was plain that the establishment of an ecclesiastical corporation of Popish priests was contrary to the fundamental principles of the laws of the land. It yet remained for him to notice one particular of much less importance than others that he had considered, but yet absolutely conclusive as to this ordinance. By the very terms of the Act of Parliament, which gave to the Governor-general and special council in Canada, the power of making ordinances at all, they were precluded from making such an ordinance as that now upon their Lordships' Table. They were strictly precluded from making any ordinance which should alter or affect, (the act did not go so far as to say "damage") any spiritual or temporal rights of the clergy of the Church of England, or of the ministers of any religious community. Now, if these words had any meaning, it was manifest that they must extend so as to exclude the ordinance before the House, because the provisions of the 31st George 3rd, especially said, that nothing should be done in the way of benefiting any individual member or minister of any religious communion, without certain restraints, which restraints must in fairness be taken to explain the language of the statute in respect to the ordinance now under consideration. He submitted, therefore, that the special council of Canada, in adopting this ordinance, had exceeded its power, and consequently that the ordinance ought to be protested against by their Lordships. For all these reasons he humbly implored their Lordships to interpose between the special council of Canada and her Majesty, to prevent the commission of what he could only regard as a very great national crime. He repeated, that a measure which went to papalize a whole province, under a Sovereign who was sworn to maintain the Church of England to the utmost of her power—a measure which sought to give what it was not in the power of the Legislature to give, nor in the power of those who by this ordinance professed to have 214 the power to give—a measure which was a violation of the fundamental laws of the land—such a measure, he repeated, could never receive the sanction of their Lordships' House; and to pass such a measure, he asserted, would amount to a great national crime. He implored their Lordships, therefore, to step forward and exercise the power which the constitution had wisely given them. Need he say, how much this country—how justly this country—looked up to their Lordships for a vindication of all its dearest rights, and, above all, its rights of religion? The Protestant feeling of this country demanded from their Lordships such an evidence of their sympathy, as would be exhibited by their Lordships supporting him (the Bishop of Exeter) in the motion with which it was his duty now to conclude; viz.,That a humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying her Majesty to withhold her assent to the ordinance for incorporating the Seminary of St. Sulpice, in Montreal.
The Marquess of Normanby
, before he proceeded to offer such observations as he might think necessary, in opposition to the motion with which the right rev. Prelate had concluded, and in answer not only to the speech with which the right rev. Prelate had proposed that motion, but also to many portions of the speech which the right rev. Prelate had addressed to their Lordships on a previous occasion, could not avoid saying one word on the subject with which the right rev. Prelate commenced, namely, the assurance that but for the manner in which this question was met on the last occasion on which he brought it before the House, and when be addressed their Lordships merely on presenting a petition, he should not have thought it necessary to trouble their Lordships with the present motion. It was, of course, impossible for him to penetrate the right rev. Prelate's intentions; he could only judge by the right rev. Prelate's words; and in the course of the address which the right rev. Prelate made in presenting the petition, long before he was aware of the tone and manner in which that address would be received, or the manner in which it would be answered, he declared his intention of applying to their Lordships for their decision upon this question. Nay, the right rev. Prelate not only made that declaration, but actually stated the character in which he 215 should appeal to their Lordships that he should call upon them as legislators. The right rev. Prelate now stated that his noble Friend (Viscount Melbourne) had given him but a very feeble answer upon that occasion. But how was the subject brought forward? The right rev. Prelate, upon the mere presentation of a petition, in reference to which he announced his intention of afterwards making a motion, took not only the unusual, but, he believed, the unprecedented course of entering into a detail of the whole history of Canada in a speech which occupied in the delivery no less a space of time than two hours and a half. But what was the state of the House at the time? He appealed to the noble Duke (Duke of Wellington) in what manner the right rev. Prelate's speech was received. The right rev. Prelate addressed himself in vain to one after another of those noble Lords who in former times had filled the office of Colonial Secretary; but one after another he found them all absent, because nobody had an idea that the right rev. Prelate's intention in presenting a petition was to enter into a detailed statement which should occupy two hours and a half. Under these circumstances could any one blame his noble Friend that he had waited for a more appropriate occasion to discuss the comprehensive topics, thus irregularly brought forward by the right rev. Prelate. The right rev. Prelate had divided his objections to this ordinance into three principal heads:—first, that it was unconstitutional, and unprecedented secondly, unfair towards the parties; and, thirdly, that it was unjust towards the province generally. But before he proceeded to combat the right rev. Prelate's objections—before he proceeded to state the conduct of preceding governments, he begged to direct their Lordships' attention to what, within the last two years, had been their own conduct—a point upon which the right rev. Prelate had not said one word. The right rev. Prelate throughout the whole of his statement had always assumed that the ordinance of which he complained was a fancy of the noble Lord (Lord Sydenham) at present at the head of the government in Canada—that it was a whim that had occurred to that noble Lord—a project that had never before been heard of. But their Lordships would recollect that during the time of the administration of his lamented friend, the late Lord Durham, in Canada, there was a report made by Mr. Charles Buller—a very able and elaborate 216 report—upon the circumstance connected with this seminary. That report was adopted by Lord Durham; and subsequently acted upon by their Lordships: for in the next year, in the month of June, he had upon the Table a despatch from Lord Durham, embodying the report of Mr. Charles Buller, and at the same time a draft of the ordinance intended to be submitted by Lord Durham, and afterwards actually passed by Sir John Colborne. It was true, that the ordinance passed by Sir John Colborne passed only as a project, because the special council at that time had not the power of passing permanent laws. But what did he himself state in opening to the House the Amended Act of 1839, as one of the two grounds why he considered it necessary that the imperial Legislature should give its assent to the ordinance which he suggested? Why, he stated that it was for the very purpose of giving effect to the arrangement proposed by Mr. C. Buller with respect to the seminary of St. Sulpice, was then there any objection taken to the proviso inserted with the express intention, of giving permanent effect to a precisely similar ordinance. He (the Marquess of Normanby) said, therefore, that the character of that House and of the Imperial Parliament was involved in their Lordships not forgetting what they did two years ago. For their Lordships to adopt the course now suggested to them by the right rev. Prelate, would be most unjust and unfair. The question, after all, was one of bargain, a bargain already agreed upon, and to some extent in operation. With what justice could their Lordships step in to prevent one of the parties to the bargain from giving the equivalent agreed upon? Their Lordships had induced certain parties to part with a portion of their property, upon the understanding that, in return for that property, they were to receive the advantages contemplated by this ordinance. If their Lordships did not fulfil the terms of the bargain, they would be inflicting upon those parties a signal injustice. The right rev. Prelate in the course of his speech had remarked—a remark that he (the Marquess of Normanby) had never before heard—that the bargain, in this instance, was a very improvident one—that the profits given to the seminary of St. Sulpice would be enormous; and then the right rev. Prelate proceeded to lay before 217 their Lordships an estimate of the immense funds which would be at the disposal of these ecclesiastics. The information that he had received upon that point differed materially from the statement made by the right rev. Prelate. He believed that those persons had been commuting their property at only 50 per cent. upon the real value, so that instead of possessing the vast sums ascribed to them by the right rev. Prelate they were, in fact, in possession of no more than 200,000l. or 260,000l. at the very utmost. Then, in what manner did these persons spend their money? Why it appeared that they spent annually 100l. each on themselves, and 47 per cent. of their income in charity. The right rev. Prelate had referred to the authority of two Gentlemen connected with Canada to show that the ordinance was universally unpopular in that country. He (the Marquess of Normanby) had also some acquaintance with gentlemen connected with Canada, and in opposition to the statement made by the right rev. Prelate, he could refer to the testimony of a gentleman, a barrister, and a member of one of the oldest Protestant families of the province, who assured him that many of the old British families were very much in favour of the ordinance. He had also made inquiries of another gentleman of considerable station in the colony, as to the character of the two individuals quoted by the right rev. Prelate, whose names he had previously communicated to his noble Friend (Lord Melbourne). He must say, that it was not a very available piece of candour to give names merely, unless the right rev. Prelate had given the facts to which he meant to append their authority. This indeed might have really seemed to elicit the truth, but without invidiously canvassing the evidence of the parties whose names were thus given, he felt bound to state, that he did not believe, they occupied a position in the colony which gave much weight to there opinions. One had been but recently settled there, the other had merely made his money in a retail trade, being respectable people in their way, no doubt, but not authority on which the Governor-general's official report could be invalidated. The right rev. Prelate then proceeded to discuss the question of the legality or illegality of the ordinance. The right rev. Prelate contended that it was contrary to law, because it was at variance with the supre- 218 macy of the Crown. He was not qualified to speak with any authority upon that point. All he could say was, that upon that point, as upon all others of a legal nature, the greatest pains had been taken to obtain the best legal opinion. Previous to his leaving the Colonial-office, he asked this opinion of the law officers of the Crown upon the very point of how far it was, or it was not, competent under the act, for the special council of Canada to enact this ordinance. The opinion of the law officers was strong and decided; they said that there was nothing whatever to prevent the special council from passing such an ordinance. His noble Friend (Lord John Russell), now at the head of the Colonial department, since the passing of the ordinance, had submitted it to the consideration of the same legal authorities, and the reply received from them was of the same decided character. A further proof of the legality of the ordinance, and of the power of the special council to pass it, was furnished in the fact that Sir J. Stewart, the highest legal authority in the province, had voted in favour of it. The right rev. Prelate always spoke of Canada as if it were a Protestant colony. But was it so? He (the Marquess of Normanby) would presently quote authorities to show that it had not always been so considered. What happened at the very time of the capitulation of Montreal? The treaty of capitulation declared, that all the community and all the priests should retain their moveables and other property in the seignories, and that they should be preserved in all their rights and privileges. Then they came to the treaty of Paris, and much of the legal part of this question turned upon the validity of the deed of gift of the seignory of Montreal to the seminary of St. Sulpice. Now a communication had been made by the commissioners in 1764 to Lord Halifax, in which it was stated, that the King of England had engaged himself to leave in Canada the free exercise of the Catholic religion according to the laws of England. [The noble Marquess was proceeding to read the communication, translating it into English, when a noble Earl (Earl Mountcashel, we believe) appeared to dispute the correctness of the version given by the noble Marquess. The Marquess of Normanby then immediately read the whole extract in the original French, as follows:]— 219My Lord Halifax—Lui a dit que, quoi-que le Roi d'Angleterre se fut engagé, par le traité, à laisser en Canada le libre exercice de la réligion Catholique et Romaine, suivant les lois d'Angleterre, il ne s'ensuivoit pas que des biens fonds, situés en Canada, pussent continuer d'appartenir à des Francais, vivent en France, et sujets du Roi de France. Que S. M. B. consent que les prétres du séminaire de Montréal continuent à en jouir, mais sans dépendence du séminaire de Paris.This without entering into the question of its legal effect at least gave the Seminary an equitable claim upon the justice of the Government, by showing the object for which the transfer was made with the assent of the Bristish Crown. He would next call their Lordships' attention to the manner in which the act of 1774 had been received, not only by those who had supported, but by those who had opposed it, for the purpose of showing their Lordships what had been considered would be the effect of that bill. When the measure was under discussion in their Lordships' House, one, whom he believed the right rev. Prelate himself would admit to be of some authority—he meant Lord Chatham—was reported thus to have delivered his sentiments:—When their Lordships came to the religious part of the question he directed his discourse to the bench of bishops, telling them that as by the bill, the Catholic religion was made the established religion of that vast continent it was impossible they could be silent on that occasion.But he was quite mistaken; for the report goes on to say although several right rev. Prelates were on the bench, none of them made any opposition to the clause, they all voted with the Ministry, no bad precedent perhaps in those times. He would also quote to their Lordships what was said by Colonel Barré in the House of Commons.By this bill you establish the Roman religion where it never was established before, and you only permit the practice of your own. You do not even let them go hand in hand. For what purpose is the Ohio and the Illinois to be Roman Catholic?Noble Lords would perceive that through, out these discussions, the principal object-tion taken was to the extension of the limits of the province of Quebec. Every one seemed to admit, that Canada was Catholic. He had been hitherto reading to the House the opinions of the opponents of the bill, and he would now call their 220 Lordships' attention to what had been said by the Prime Minister of that day. Lord North said,After once fixing the government of Quebec in the hands of this nation, it was a matter of indifference to him what law or religion was established, so that it made the people happy.That was the manner in which Lord North spoke upon the subject of the Quebec Government Bill. It should be remembered that Lord North was a favoured minister of that "excellent Sovereign George 3rd, whose name was never to be mentioned but with reverence." Lord North was not one of those ministers whom that "excellent Sovereign" sometimes thwarted, but one whom he stood by through good and through evil, through much unpopularity and odium, and whom he retained for many years as his adviser. There was under the circumstances of the province much good sense in these expressions of Lord North, but he much doubted whether in these "degenerate days," his noble Friend behind him would venture to say as much. Such, then, had been the opinions on both sides in 1774—such were then thought to be the effects that would result from that bill which the right rev. Prelate, inventing a new word, said had "papalized" the colony. In such a manner had that bill been treated by Lord North, Lord Chatham, and Colonel Barré, in 1774. But there was another authority to which he would refer there Lordships—a philosopher whose name was held in respect and esteem—he meant Edmund Burke. That great man, in a letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe, in 1792, upon the subject of the Irish Catholics, thus expressed himself:—I voted last Session, if a particular vote could be distinguished in unanimity, for an establishment of the Church of England conjointly with the establishment which was made some years before, by Act of Parliament, of the Roman Catholics in the French conquered country of Canada. At the time of making this English ecclesiastical establishment, we did not think it necessary for its safety to destroy the former Gallican church settlement.These were the opinions of Mr. Burke, and he thought the right rev. Prelate might have found leisure during the recess, and in the course of the months that had elapsed since he had first brought the subject before their Lordship, to have informed himself of those various opinions which he (the Marquess of Normanby) 221 had been quoting, before he (the Bishop of Exeter) came down to the House and asserted that all these things were the "new lights" of 1841, and that this was the first time an attempt had been made to papalize what he called a Protestant colony. He would now beg leave to call their Lordships' attention to what had taken place in 1821 under Lord Bathurst. The incorporation at that time of the Seminary of St. Nicolet, was a precedent in favour of the present ordinance. Now, if the right rev. Prelate had been able to establish the fact that the corporation of St. Nicolet then created by Lord Bathurst was not a corporation of Romish priests, would lie have omitted the opportunity? [The Bishop of Exeter: It is not.] He should be glad to know how the right rev. Prelate could draw any distinction between the two colleges. How did the right rev. Prelate make it appear that St. Nicolet was not an ecclesiastical corporation of Romish priests? Could it be called a lay coporation, seeing that it consisted of the Roman Catholic bishop for the time being, his coadjutors for the time being, two vicaires grands for the time being, and the senior curé of the district for the time being? Was not that an ecclesiastical corporation? The right rev. Prelate said, it was a corporation for the purposes of education. For what purposes, then, was the Seminary of St. Sulpice established? The right rev. Prelate had described them in the last debate. Were they not the same in both cases? He was really at a loss to conceive how any distinction could be drawn between the two establishments. But, before he went any further, he should like very much to ask the right rev. Prelate whether he was aware of the existence of the document to which he now referred—the charter of the corporation of St. Nicolet, before he first brought this subject under the notice of their Lordships? [The Bishop of Exeter replied in the negative.] The right rev. Prelate did not know of the existence of that document then, and his ignorance in that respect must be his excuse for addressing their Lordships in such language as that on the 4th inst. In reference to the present ordinance, the right rev. Prelate said,But there were absolutely higher considerations, which proved the illegality of this ordinance. It professed to be in effect an ecclesiastical incorporation of Romish priests, and this was the first time such an attempt had 222 been made, King James the 2nd durst do no such thing. Father Peter never claimed it. The attempt was reserved for the year 1841—a new age of new lights.He might here observe, that however striking those "lights" might be, they could not pierce the eyes of those who were wilfully blind. The right rev. Prelate ought to have inquired if there had been a corporation. If the right rev. Prelate had read the protest of his noble Friend upon the subject, he would have seen the words, "In Canada, of late years, more than one Roman Catholic college had been established." That was the sort of information of which the right rev. Prelate ought to have availed himself before he made to their Lordships the assertion that this was the first time that Roman Catholic priests had been incorporated. He could not at this moment help asking the right, rev. Prelate whether he did not think some explanation was due to their Lordships of the manner in which he had thought proper to read a despatch of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Aberdeen); and of the use which he (the Bishop of Exeter) had made of the authority of the noble Earl in his absence, and when he (the right rev. Prelate) must have known from the document he held in his hand that if he had proceeded to read only one sentence further, he would have found that the sentiment quoted had nothing to do with the views attempted to be inculcated by the right rev. Prelate. The right rev. Prelate, in quoting the despatch, made the following selection:—Finally the terms of this bill are so chosen, that I apprehend they would terminate the question so long in debate, whether the corporate character, asserted by the priests of the Seminary of St. Sulpice, really belongs to them or not. The decision of that question in favour of the seminary would involve consequences which every Canadian, whatever his national origin or religious persuasion, would alike have reason to deprecate.When the right rev. Prelate used these words, he thought there was something behind them. The right rev. Prelate carefully selected sentences, which in the common and correct use of words did not bear out the inference he wished to draw. The right rev. Prelate broke off at the point, and then said be was proud that he had the authority of the noble Earl the Colonial secretary to the noble Duke in favour of the petitioners. But what was the very next, sentence of the despatch? [A noble Lord: What was the despatch about?] 223 It was on the subject of education, and it did not involve the tenure of one corporation only, but related to the bill that had been passed by the provincial legislature, conferring a corporate character upon every institution which might be possessed of lands to the amount of eight acres only, devoted to the purposes of education. But he was about to observe, that the very next sentence of the despatch, if the right rev. Prelate had chosen to go into it, was this: "Such as the necessity of holding a great commercial city upon a feudal tenure—" [The Bishop of Exeter: These words I added.] He thought the right rev. Prelate's memory had failed him in that respect. All he could say was, that he had not the slightest recollection of having heard those words used by the right rev. Prelate, neither had his noble Friends near him any recollection of their having been quoted. There were several reports of the right rev. Prelate's speech, and in all those reports except one, those words were omitted. But in the only report which contained those words in the extract quoted by the most rev. Prelate, there was an "&c." The "&c." had probably been copied from those extracts, which noble Lords and right rev. Prelates sometimes furnished to reporters after the debate. It still appeared that the right rev. Prelate was mistaken; that he did not read the words attributed to him; that the report in which those words were inserted happened to be one in which the right rev. Prelate had communicated his extracts. But if the right rev. Prelate had made no such communication—[The Bishop of Exeter: I did make a communication of extracts.] He still thought the recollection of the right rev. Prelate had failed him, as to having read the words in question, and the House would perceive that those words would completely have deprived the right rev. Prelate of the absurd authorities, to which he was appealing, as they would have shown that the objection felt by that Colonial Secretary was to a consequence which it the object of the present ordinance to remove for ever. The right rev. Prelate in the course of his speech, had made an attack upon his (the Marquess of Normanby's) noble Friend behind him, and also in the latter part of his tirade had attacked him, a humble member of the Government of the noble Viscount. The right rev. Prelate had said, that the present was 224 a Government, the effect of the acts of which was, somehow or other, more than any other, to support the Popish religion in preference to their own, and the right rev. Prelate had complained that he had, in a despatch, given to the Roman Catholic bishop of Quebec the title of Bishop of Quebec. Why, what were the terms of the capitulation? Had not Lord Bathurst called him Bishop of Quebec? Perhaps that was one of the papers which the right rev. Prelate had been so glad to receive. If the bishop was not so styled, what else was he called? He was really bound to say that this was a most inefficient ground—and, if the speech had not come from reverend lips, he should have said a most ridiculous ground—whereon to form a charge against the Government. He had had all the despatches in the Colonial-office which he had written, most carefully searched, and none could be found in which he had talked about the Bishop of Quebec. But, if even the right rev. Prelate had been right in his fact as to that despatch, which he doubted, if even he had used the phrase attributed to him, he did not think he should have been singled out for attack in consequence of having done that which Lord Bathurst had done in 1821. Lord Bathurst had called the rev. Gentleman alluded to, the Bishop of Quebec. Indeed, it appeared the Bishop of Quebec had rather presumed in those days, and had assumed the title of archbishop, for Lord Bathurst, before he proceeded to grant the charter referred to in his despatch, had been obliged to write as follows to the Earl of Dalhousie:—Downing-street, 6th April, 1821.My Lord—Since I had the honour of conveying to you his Majesty's approval of the appointment of the Rev. J. J. Lartigue and F. Proxencheur, as assistants to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Quebec, in the administration of his diocese, the enclosed paragraph from a North American newspaper has been brought under my consideration. After the communication which took place with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Quebec in this country, I can with difficulty credit the information contained in it; for I cannot believe that the bishop could have so far misunderstood the views of his Majesty's Government as to conceive himself at liberty to assume within the province, the title of archbishop, or to consecrate a bishop for a new diocese within his Majesty's dominions, without his Majesty's authority.Should M. de Plessis, however, have been so ill-advised as to assume the title of arch- 225 bishop, or should he have consecrated Mr. Lartigue as the Bishop of Montreal (of which facts your Lordship cannot fail of being correctly informed), it becomes highly necessary to mark his Majesty's disapprobation of such proceedings, and to withhold the sanction which his Majesty has been otherwise prepared to give to the appointment of two ecclesiastics as assistants to the Roman Catholic bishop, and to the establishment of a Roman Catholic school at Nicolet. Your Lordship will, therefore, not act upon the instruction of the 2d instant, unless in the event of being satisfied that the Roman Catholic bishop has not assumed the title of archbishop, and that he has not done more than appoint Mr. Lartigue and Mr. Proxencheur as assistants in the administration of his diocese.Should your enquiries lead to a different conclusion, you will confine yourself to communicating to Mr. de Plessis the reasons which now prevent an acquiescence in his wishes, and the regret which his Majesty feels in being compelled, by this undue assumption of authority on the part of the bishop, to withdraw his Majesty's sanction from an arrangement which the Roman Catholic bishop appeared to have much at heart, and to which, but for this circumstance, his Majesty would have had much pleasure in acceding.—I have,&c.(Signed)"BATHURST.The Earl of Dalhousie, &c.So much, then, for the accusation brought by the right rev. Prelate against him. But the right rev. Prelate was very apt, indeed, in making such accusations. He (the Marquess of Normanby) would say, that upon trivial and inefficient grounds, a serious accusation had been very ill supported—an accusation against the Ministers of the Crown, that they were supporting another religion at the expense of their own. What the Ministers were doing—and it was what he trusted they would continue to do—was to attempt to give a full and fair operation to the act of the noble Duke opposite for Catholic Emancipation. Such he felt to be the duty of her Majesty's Government. The right rev. Prelate, too, who is so fond of throwing out taunts, had not on that occasion given a continuance of his former vigorous opposition to that bill. The right rev. Prelate was at that time wielding not, indeed, a crosier, but a pen, and the right rev. Prelate very soon after the Catholic Emancipation Bill had been carried—he (the Marquess of Normanby), would not say, in the words which the right rev. Prelate had used the other night, ergo propter hoc, but certainly post hoc—had given their Lordships the advantage of his presence in that 226 House. But to the point. The right rev. Prelate was perfectly aware of the nature of the corporation of St. Sulpice. He well knew, that they were a body of secular ecclesiastics. They were not therefore in that sense a monastic body. The right rev.Prelate said, that the exception proved as to the religious orders barred their claim as well as their right. Was it so? In all the instructions issued to the different Governors of Lower Canada they were called the Society of the Seminary of St. Sulpice. The King of Great Britain, on the capitulation of that province, entered into possession of all the rights previously engaged by the King of France as Visitor of the Seminary. That was the condition of the treaty of surrender—that was the spirit of the ordinances in question, and their rights were protected in the ordinances by requiring all the actual rules and regulations of the society, to be submitted to the Governor for the time being. [The Earl of Ripon: And the expenditure.] And the expenditure also. The right rev. Prelate had inveighed against the existence of the society as unconstitutional, but he in reply to that invective, would call upon the House, before it decided the question as between the right rev. Prelate and the Government, on that ground to take into consideration the locality of that institution, the circumstances under which the province of Lower Canada was annexed to the British Crown, and the manner in which that colony had always been treated by the Parliament of this country. The House was also bound to bear in mind, that the act of 1774—the act under which this corporation was confirmed—was admitted to create a province in which the Catholic religion was established, and this act supported by men of all parties; likewise, that the seminary existed on the additional security of the good faith of the assurances given by all Governments from that period to the present. If, however, the House chose to exercise the power which it undoubtedly possessed, in the way pointed out by the right rev. Prelate, then it would exercise it with singular inconsistency as regarded itself, and with gross injustice as regarded others. He trusted, however, that their Lordships would not accede to the motion of the right rev. Prelate, and that they would refuse, by their vote on the question before them, to fling into a civil community the curse of 227 religious discord; a community, be it remembered, too, which, whatever had been its character for political strife, had always been remarkable for a Christian spirit in matters of religion, and a most peaceable piety on the score of faith. He also fondly hoped, that the vote to be come to that night by their Lordships, would be made the means of winning back to loyalty and good feeling a distracted colony, which had erred much, but which had suffered more. Under these circumstances, he hoped their Lordships would not advise her Majesty to refuse to confirm the ordinances which, he believed, in general equity, in justice to each individual, would have the effect of putting an end to one of the most oppressive and vexatious causes which now interrupted the growing progress of one of the most highly commercial communities in colonial connection with this country. He, therefore, trusted, that their Lordships, by a large majority, would mark their sense of the impolicy of the motion of the right rev. Prelate.
§ The Earl of Ripon
said, that although it appeared by the papers on the Table of the House, that he was more or less concerned in the affair before their Lordships, he nevertheless, did not feel it incumbent on him to enter into any lengthened argument in support of the principles or details of the ordinance of the Special Council of Lower Canada, now submitted to their consideration. He had listened to the speech of the right rev. Prelate with attention; but he was completely at a loss to discover on what specific grounds the House could be called on to support his motion. Judging from the speech made the other night on the presentation of the petition, as well as from some expressions which had been dropped to-night, one certainly would have supposed, that the objection of the right rev. Prelate was entirely and exclusively one of principle—that in every part of her Majesty's dominions, in England, Scotland, Ireland, in colonies settled by British subjects, by authority solely of the Crown, or in colonies acquired by conquest, nothing should be done which could be considered as tending to support the Roman Catholic religion. But when, in another part of his speech, the right rev. Prelate referred to the course he would himself have been disposed to pursue in settling this question, he appeared altogether to abandon the high ground of principle. He said, that he, and the petitioners themselves, would have been ready to give 228 up to this body a certain portion of those sums which, under this ordinance, would fall into their, hands. But surely if it were right to give them any portion, the question of principle entirely fell to the ground; and the right rev. Prelate's objection was founded on the principle in question, then he ought not to consent to appropriate the smallest portion of this property to that body; if not, they were as well entitled to all as to a portion of it, and the question was merely a matter of regulation, and of degree, not of principle. This the admission of the right rev. Prelate effectually made it. But there was one point of view in which the right rev. Prelate either did not see this subject, or forgot to consider it; and that was the position of the colony of Lower Canada to the Crown of England. When it was conquered, it was not of the Church of England; and a different religion was found to be established, perhaps exclusively among its inhabitants. Was that religion—were the institutions of that religion to be extinguished, and the established religion of Great Britain and its institutions substituted in their stead? No; justice as well as sound policy forbade it; and in fact, the policy pursued by England in all cases of colonies conquered from an enemy and subsequently retained upon a peace was wholly different. And it never happened yet, that instructions were issued to a general, or clauses inserted in a treaty containing such a principle. The province of Lower Canada was French Catholic when it passed into the possession of England; and common sense, as well as common justice, taught every succeeding government that they could never hope to retain its dominion with anything like a friendly feeling on the part of the inhabitants by the pursuance of any such course. In fact, such a colony could never be kept in a state of harmony with this country, if the stringent principles laid down by the right rev. Prelate were to be applied to it. So much for the general subject. He should next say a few words respecting his own part in the transaction under discussion. When in office, in reference to this question, he found that since the conquest of Canada the seminarists of St. Sulpice had exercised all the rights and privileges of the property now proposed to be confirmed in their possession by the charter, and from the conquest of Canada to that time, no one had ever set up a pretence in the province or out of it, 229 that they should be debarred from these rights and privileges because they were Roman Catholics. The only question ever raised on the point was a purely commercial or political one in the city of Montreal, and that was, whether it was proper that any corporation—it mattered not, lay or clerical—should be permitted to hold feudal powers such as they possessed. He (the Earl of Ripon) had never heard of any other objection to them. Under these circumstances he had only to deal with the case as it stood; and, in doing so, he felt bound to advert to the course taken by his predecessors in office, Lord Bathurst, Sir G. Murray, and others. Now, he found, that not one of his predecessors in office had ever proposed to deprive the seminary of St. Sulpice either of its corporate character, whatever that might be, or of the usufruct of the property which it claimed to hold of right, and which it held de facto. The right rev. Prelate laid much stress upon what he called the undoubted rights of the Crown as respected the corporation in question, and argued, and asserted, that in the course pursued by him and subsequent secretaries for the colonies these rights were improperly abandoned; and he argued that successive Attorneys and Solicitors general had given opinions favourable to these rights. Neither of these facts, the rights of the Crown, or the opinions of the law officers of the Crown, did he (the Earl of Ripon) dispute; but neither the government nor these legal authorities ever thought for a moment of driving the corporation into a court of law, for the purpose of having these rights asserted if such a course could be avoided. On the contrary, if ever there existed a case in which it was fit, proper, prudent, and honest, to propose a compromise, it was the case in question. On that conviction he (the Earl of Ripon) proceeded in his instructions for the government of the colony of Lower Canada. He did not deny the existence of the rights of the Crown, but he considered, that it would have been a most invidious act if the Crown pressed them to their full extent. It was a clear case for compromise, and as such he dealt with it. He should, perhaps, prefer his own plan to that propounded in the ordinances then under discussion; but he was of opinion, that if settled at all, it was far better that the question should be settled amicably than that any dispute should arise on it. It was only by dealing with the seminary of 230 St. Sulpice as a corporation which it had always been recognised to be, that the rights of the Crown could be asserted; but the admission of a corporate faculty, which that argument involved, struck at the root of the case of the right rev. Prelate, the gravamen of whose charge was, that this ordinance created the seminary into a corporation for the first time; and thus relieved the ordinance from his charge of being a great national crime. The right rev. Prelate stated, that the rights of the King of France devolved on the King of Great Britain by the conquest and capitulation of Lower Canada. True, they did so, but the duties of the King of France devolved upon the drown of Great Britain also; and it was certainly no part of those duties to seize on the property of those individuals under any pretence of right, or power, or privilege. To argue, therefore, that the Crown of England should seize on this property in pursuance of such a right, was, to say the least of it, preposterous. These were the reasons why he (the Earl of Ripon) supported the government in respect of the question before their Lordships, and in doing so, he did not consider that he compromised the Church of England in the slightest degree. He felt for the position of the Church of England in Lower Canada—in the midst, as it were, of another established church—for, in many material respects, such as a right to levy tithes from those of its own communion, the Roman Catholic church was established in that province, though not, perhaps, in the same manner as the Protestant Church in England—but he should not consider himself guilty of any crime, or conceive that he had done anything for which his conscience could reproach him, in supporting the ordinances of the Government on this occasion, and voting against the motion of the right rev. Prelate.
§ The Duke of Wellington
My Lords, in consequence of the few observations I made to your Lordships on this subject she week before last, I think it my duty to state to your Lordships the course I shall pursue in regard to the motion of the right rev. Prelate, and also to state to you the reasons which induce me to pursue that course to-night. My Lords, I entirely concur in the latter part of the speech of the noble Marquess opposite, when he says, that whatever might become of the greater portion of the property now in dispute, stated by some to belong legally to the 231 Crown, by others to the seminary called St. Sulpice—that body has an equitable title to a part of it. My Lords, I could never feel otherwise than this, whatever may be done with the great bulk of this property, made over to Canada, I conceive that there can be no doubt in the minds of any that ample provision should be made for all equitable rights to it, and all equitable claims, of which there is no doubt, and which right I consider exists in St. Sulpice. Of that I never entertained any doubt myself, and I concluded, that if this property had been made over under the Act of Union of the Canadas, and with the concurrence of the united Assembly of the provinces, of couse provision would be made for this seminary. And I confess I was of opinion that it also would have been desirable on other grounds, that this course should be taken, because I doubted exceedingly the propriety of another establishment of ecclesiastical corporations in these days, under the ordinances before your Lordships. But, my Lords, I must confess I was not then aware of what had passed on this subject, and on similar subjects on former occasions. I was not aware of it, my Lords, because I had totally forgotten these transactions. I must have been a party to some of them, for I was in the Cabinet in 1822, when Lord Bathurst wrote the instruction respecting St. Nicolet, I generally knew what was passing, and I conclude that I knew all about this; but I had certainly forgotten the circumstances. For, until I read the papers laid on the Table of the House, I had no notion that the subject was one of this nature; that the ordinance in question was but a copy of former transactions, the originals of which lay before me. The right rev. Prelate has attempted to draw a distinction between the corporation as established in Canada by Lord Bathurst under the Government of the Earl of Dalhousie, and that established by these ordinances. He has sought to make it clear, that the latter is an ecclesiastical corporation for ecclesiastical objects, because reference is made to ecclesiastical subjects in it, while he has endeavoured to establish in your Lordships' minds, that the former was not an ecclesiastical, but a lay corporation. But how stands the fact, my Lords? The former refers to precisely the same matters—in almost the same words as the latter, and they are identical in their objects in 232 every respect. I admit, my Lords, that I must have been a party to this transaction; I admit, that the corporation in question was an ecclesiastical corporation, composed of persons, all or for the greater part Roman Catholic ecclesiastics, and that it was established for the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical objects, and no others. My Lords, there are, I am free to confess, many other transactions connected with this subject to which I might have been, nay, was a party, and which happened at a period later than that I have mentioned, which had also escaped my recollection. I was in the administration with my noble Friend (the Earl of Aberdeen), in 1834 and 1835, when he wrote and sent that despatch, which has been already quoted. In that despatch directed to Lord Amherst, allusion is made to a list of ninety-two grievances which had been brought forward in the Assembly of Lower Canada. The instructions refera-able to the point now before us were directed to the object of removing one of those grievances, and no man who was a party to those instructions could now say, I will not consent to the formations of this institution, on account of certain religious principles. No man could justly vary so in consequence of anything that has since passed. Therefore, my Lords, I cannot now stand on the ground which I stated to your Lordships the other night had caused me to object to this ordinance, having been a party to the despatch in question. Arrangements of the same kind have been made in Canada on previous occasions. The right rev. Prelate has spoken at some length on the enormity of the grant made to the seminary of St. Sulpice, which, he says at six per cent, would give a revenue of 30,000l. per annum. Now, I do not suppose it is necessary to remind him of anything contained in the volumes before me on this subject, but if he reads the proceedings of the commissioners he will see the revenue set down under various heads, opened. I cannot now find the place—referring to the volume,—but I beg the right rev. Prelate to observe that the ordinance provides for the disposal of the revenue and the expenditure to certain objects under the direction of the State. Public education and religious worship are amongst the objects to which it is to be applied. The right rev. Prelate will find that the expenditure is to take place under the control 233 and sanction of Government, and the expenses to be incurred are nearly equal in amount to the revenues. Now that, I must say, is a complete answer to that part of his speech relating to the amount which the right rev. Prelate stated is placed under the control of the seminary. The expenditure is, in fact, to be under the control of Government. My Lords, another observation made a few nights since by the right rev. Prelate made a great impression—that relating to the disposal of this property to the Legislature of Lower Canada in composition for a Civil List. It appears the ordinance was passed in Canada some two or three months before the Act of Union was passed, and it may be a question whether that ordinance is law in Canada at this moment; for it is one which requires the sanction of her Majesty, which sanction has not yet been given. We shall, therefore, probably hear again of this transaction. The noble Lords opposite will have to examine this matter, and decide on a remedy for the inconvenience. It may be that the act of Parliament, disposing of the property to the legislative chambers, overrides the ordinance. I think, therefore, the right rev. Prelate might as well not put the House to the inconvenience of calling on us to vote. He might as well leave the ordinance to its own difficulties. Would he not do well to consider whether the subject may not be reconsidered, by leaving it thus to its difficulties without now pressing a division upon us? At all events, whatever course the right rev. Prelate may adopt, I certainly shall not vote in favour of his address. I entreated your Lordships, a few nights ago, when the subject of this ordinance was before us, to look carefully over the documents referred to by the right rev. Prelate, to consider his statements, and well weigh the subject before you voted on it. I asked your Lordships to do so, and I have done so myself. I have referred to the documents then alluded to, and to others which were not; but which perhaps, should have been mentioned, and to many of which I had lost all recollection. It is, therefore, my Lords, and on the conclusion at which I have thus arrived, that I feel called on to give my vote against the proposition of the right rev. Prelate, and I have deemed it proper to place before your Lordships the reasons that have determined me to adopt this course.
The Bishop of Exeter
felt certain that he should obtain the indulgence of their Lordships, while he made a few observations, as, indeed, he was bound to do, in reply to what had fallen from noble Lords at both sides of the House. And first, with reference to what, had fallen from the noble Person, who had last addressed them, and who on this, as on every occasion, was entitled to the first consideration. However he (the Bishop of Exeter) might be disappointed at the vote which the noble Duke had announced his intention to give, he should not utter the slightest complaint respecting it, or respecting the difference, as might strike himself or others between the noble Duke's declaration that night and his speech on the last occasion, when this subject was before their Lord-ships. Whenever that noble Duke addressed their Lordships, his mind was actuated only by the highest principle, and always, he was sure, intended to advise what was best for the good of his country. Most sincerely, and from his heart, did he say that. It was not in his power (who had the power?) to praise the noble Duke, but most readily and cheerfully did he express the sentiment which he had just uttered. His respect for the noble Duke should not, however, prevent him from remarking, that some of the positions laid down by the noble Duke were not quite correct. With regard to the revenues of the seminary, he (the Bishop of Exeter), had complained of an ordinance which placed 30,000l. a-year at the disposal of Popish ecclesiastics, being no less than four times the amount of their present income. The noble Duke said, the fact as to the increase of their revenues was not what he had stated, for that the expenses now incurred by the seminary were nearly equal to 30,000l. a-year. Now, the noble Duke referred for this information to the report of the commissioners. On turning, however, to that report (and it was Appendix No. 2, 5th Report of Commissioners), he found the whole amount was more than what the noble Duke stated; but then it was for five years, and not for one. The income for five years was given at 41,000l., and the expenditure at 39,000l. From the general accuracy of the noble Duke in quoting documents, he was surprised at the representation which he had made with respect to the amount of expenditure of this body. He had been unwilling to remark on any inaccuracy of the noble Duke, but as this had a bearing on one of his 235 strongest positions, namely, that they were arming with new and enormous power this Popish corporation (and he should continue to use that phrase, however it might offend the ears of the noble Marquess), he was bound to insist on the justness of his observation on this part of the subject.
Again, he had said, that there was an unexampled attempt made by this ordinance to establish an ecclesiastical corporation of Popish priests, In spite of all lie had heard from the noble Duke and the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Normanby), he persisted in that assertion. And, however lightly the noble Duke and noble Marquess might treat the distinction which he drew—not on his own authority but from every legal book which treated of the subject—between a corporation and an ecclesiastical corporation, as shown, not in the persons, but in the purposes, of such a body, he was quite sure, that a noble and learned Lord, who had since retired, and the other noble and learned Lord, who was still present (Lord Langdale), however reluctant he might be to declare his opinion in that House, would, if the question arose in that court, over which he presided with so much dignity and honour, not shake his head in doubt of his position, but that if he shook his head at all, it would only be in astonishment, that such an assertion as he had made, could be doubted for a moment. The noble Duke had said, that he (the Bishop of Exeter) had sought to draw a distinction between the two documents, referring to St. Nicolet and St. Sulpice, whereas they were almost the same in purport, and nearly in the same words. Never had any statement astonished him more. He (the Bishop of Exeter) would be under the painful necessity of collating the two documents which the noble Duke said were so nearly alike in purport, and even in words. Now, to his mind, no two documents could be more distinct. The charter of incorporation of St. Nicolet, after referring to the petition of Joseph Plessis, was expressly stated to be for purposes of general education. The petition stated, that Latin, French, English, philosophy, mathematics, history, poetry, and rhetoric, were to be taught in the institution; but there was not a word about religion. The noble Duke said, that that institution was established for Roman Catholic purposes, but the petition of M. Plessis showed great dexterity in excluding every thing of the kind, and the charter 236 was granted by the Government, of which the noble Duke was a Member, for purposes of general education, and not for Roman Catholic objects. But, in respect of St. Sulpice, the very first object mentioned was the cure of souls. Was not that an ecclesiastical object? Another was the spiritual care of the Iroquois, the Algonquins, and other tribes of Indians. Were not both these ecclesiastical objects? He wished to know whether it were possible to contradict more strongly the assertion (made, no doubt, from a too hasty perusal), that these two documents were precisely similar.
One part of the noble Duke's speech gave him great satisfaction—very great satisfaction. It was the assertion, that this question would not be settled by the vote of that night, but still remain to be considered. In consequence of that declaration, he should not ask their Lordships to divide. The noble Marquess laughed. Now he had not the slightest objection, however ridiculous it might appear to the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Normanby) to walk below that bar on a division, not, as he was sure, unattended—but if alone, with no sense of shame for himself, however, he might entertain that feeling as regarded others.
He would now turn to what had fallen from the noble Marquess. The noble Marquess had said the Roman Catholic Church in Canada was an established church. [Viscount Melbourne: The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ripon) said the same.] He was quite willing to admit that. But he should not be deterred by any declarations from either or both sides of the House, from giving his own opinion, and the authorities on which it was founded. The noble Marquess referred to the opinions of Lord North, on whom he was somewhat facetious. He had also indulged in some sneers at King George the 3rd. [No, no, no!] He might be mistaken, but he did think, that the noble Marquess asserted, that that Sovereign, whose name they all venerated and esteemed, had a peculiar facility in getting suddenly rid of his Ministers. That declaration, applied to one for whose pious and most estimable character, he (the Bishop of Exeter) had a special reverence, did strike him as something like a sneer. The noble Marquess also enlarged on the authority of Mr. Burke, and relied on it to prove, that the Church of Rome was established in Canada. Now he should refer, to prove the contrary, to no opinion given in a casual debate, not even to advised speaking; but 237 against all the authorities quoted by the noble Marquess, he should produce an authority which the noble Marquess, he was sure, would not treat with disrespect. It was the authority of the noble Marquess himself—an authority which extended beyond him to all the noble Lords, who sat on the same bench with him, as well as to those who composed the Government of which the noble Earl of Ripon was Colonial Secretary; to all the noble Lords opposite, to all the Ministers, in fact, who had served the Crown, since 1775. It was a most authoritative document; for it was neither more nor less than the Royal Instructions given to every Governor-general, including Lord Sydenham, who had ever been sent to Canada. These instructions had been drawn up with the utmost care as containing matter of the utmost moment. They had been recognized by the 31st George 3rd. They said:—Whereas the establishment of proper regulations on matters of ecclesiastical concern, is an object of very great importance, it will be your indispensable duty to take care, that, no arrangements in regard thereto be made, but such as may give full satisfaction to our new subjects in every point to which they have a right to any indulgence on that head.Now came the pinching part:—Always remembering that it is a toleration of the free exercise of the religion of the Church of Rome only, to which they are entitled, but not to the powers and privileges of it as an established church, that being a preference which belongs only to the Protestant Church of England.He heartily thanked the noble Marquess for enabling him to cite this document. The noble Marquess might quote jocosely or seriously the opinions of Lord North, Lord Chatham, or whomsoever he pleased, but still he affirmed, and he rejoiced in having so high authority for affirming, that according to what was recognized as a fundamental principle, the Church of England was the only Established Church in Canada. The noble Marquess thought, that the 34th article of the capitulation clearly established the right of the seminary, and had referred to it in spite of the advice of the Crown lawyers. In looking for what might be favourable to his view in that capitulation, he had overlooked what was unfavourable. The fact was, that the privilege had been asked for, but refused. [The Marquess of Normanby:
Read the 32nd article.] He could only read one at a time. The 32nd article granted to the nuns the continu- 238 ance of their privileges and of their property; the 33rd asked for similar concessions to St. Sulpice. He admitted, that the demands were the same, but the difference was, that whilst in the one case they were granted, in the other, the case of St. Sulpice, they were refused till the King's pleasure should be known. This was the purport of the 33rd article. The commissioners who were sent out to Canada, friendly as they were to the Seminary of St. Sulpice, nevertheless disposed of the 34th article, on which the noble Marquis relied by reference to the 33rd. The noble Marquess had quoted a communication of Lord Halifax, in 1764, to show that the English Court, was favourable to the grant made by St. Sulpice of Paris, to St. Sulpice at Montreal. Yet, what was this quotation made by a Colonial Secretary? On what authority did it rest? Was it drawn from the records of the Colonial-office? No. It was but the hearsay of a hearsay. It was a communication said to have been made to the Court of France in a despatch from their ambassador to England. The report, of the commissioners gave the authority on which they referred to this supposed admission of Lord Halifax, namely, that of M. Quiblier, the Superior of the Seminary of St. Sulpice, speaking after some written paper communicated from Paris. This the noble Marquess had forgotten to state. The noble Marquess had referred to part of a protest of Sir C. Grey, in which he mentioned, that more than one Roman Catholic college had been erected into corporations. There might be a dozen. He was not now speaking of colleges. These were lay incorporations. The noble Viscount must see the distinction, if the noble Marquess closed his eyes to it. The noble Marquess had accused him of garbling the despatch of the noble Earl opposite, and stated that it appeared in only one newspaper. He had received an application from the reporter of The Times, requesting the use of the documents referred to by him in the course of his speech, and feeling the great importance of having all the information laid accurately before the public, he had readily forwarded them to him. But since the noble Marquess had made the assertion, he had received a letter from the gentleman who made that application to him, a part of which he should endeavour to read. [A Laugh from the Marquess of Normanby] The noble Marquess laughed. He perceived 239 that the noble Marquess did not give that authority to this note which he did. He (the Bishop of Exeter) had not the least doubt as to the accuracy of what this gentleman stated, and his entire confidence in his accuraay was not in the slightest degree affected by the laugh of the noble Marquess. The right rev. Prelate then read as follows—Gallery of the House of Lords, March 15, 1841.The reporter to The Times, who reported part of the Bishop of Exeter's speech in the last debate on the Seminary of St. Sulpice, begs to inform his Lordship that he has in his notes, taken at the time, the very words to which the Marquess of Normanby has taken exception this evening—viz.,'Such as holding a great commercial city upon a feudal tenure,' &c. The reporter to The Times will show the Bishop of Exeter his note book if his Lordship think fit.[Cries of Order!] Their Lordships expressed their indignation at this breach of order; but was he the first to commit it? Did not the noble Marquess found his statement against him on the authority of reports of different newspapers? Now where was this virtuous indignation, this zeal for the maintenance of order, when the noble Marquess thought fit to refer to these reports, for the purpose of charging him with disingenuousness? Noble Lords were then all silence.
The Earl of Suffolk
—I rise to order. The right rev. Prelate has no right to read a letter from a person admitted, and very properly, by courtesy, into the Gallery of this House; and then to found a lecture upon it. Really, this is quite out of order.
The Bishop of Exeter
admitted that this was a violation of order, but it was rendered necessary by the noble Marquess's previous violation of order.
The noble Marquess had made some remarks on what he had said in respect to the noble Marquess having called the Roman Catholic Bishop "the Bishop of Quebec." Lord Bathurst called him the "Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church of Quebec." The noble Marquess knew very well, that the title of "Bishop of Quebec," implied a jurisdiction, whilst that of "Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church of Quebec," which had been given by Lord Bathurst, implied no jurisdiction at all. To give such jurisdiction to a Roman Catholic was at variance with the 1st of Elizabeth, and he was quite certain, that Lord Bathurst would have avoided such 240 a mistake. The demand in the sixth article of the capitulation of Quebec, it was true, mentioned the Bishop of Quebec, but the answer to that demand did not recognize him or his office permanently. But before Quebec was surrendered at the peace, he was unquestionably Bishop of Quebec, and he continued to be styled so to the end of his life, for he died within a few months after the capitulation, and before the definitive treaty of peace. The 6th article demanded safe-guard to religious houses, and particularly for the bishop, who should be permitted to perform all his functions. The concession given was, that he should exercise freely the functions of his office as he thought proper till the possession of Canada should be decided by a treaty. He thought the noble Marquess would agree with him, that this was no recognition of the Bishop of Quebec, as it was only sub modo and for a time, till the definitive treaty of peace which put an end to it by saying that—His Britannic Majesty, on his side, agrees to grant the liberty of the Catholic religion to the inhabitants of Canada; he will consequently give the most effectual orders that his new Roman Catholic subjects may profess the worship of their religion, according to the rites of the Romish Church, as far as the laws of Great Britain permit.And yet they were told that night, over and over again, that the laws of Great Britain were not to operate so as to affect the entire right of the Roman Catholics to claim for their religion all the privileges of an established religion. According to the treaties, and according to every act of Parliament that had passed subsequently, the Roman Catholics of Canada were to enjoy the free exercise of their religion, only so far as the laws of England permit. He would not trespass longer on their attention. He repeated, that however indifferent he should feel to walk out alone below the bar, he yet sincerely rejoiced, that what the noble Duke had said would enable him not to take that course, and that if this address should not be carried, the question would be left for re-consideration, which he presumed, meant in the province.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, he certainly did not state exactly that. His argument for what he stated, as an argument, might be a very bad one. He might be quite mistaken. What he said was, that it might be found, that this ordinance was not the law in Canada at this moment; and that if it were not the law in Canada 241 at this moment, and if it were not the law in Canada before the act of Parliament of last year established the union of the provinces, it might be found, that the act of Parliament over-rode the ordinance. If it should over-ride the ordinance, the noble Lord might find a remedy, and possibly the right rev. Prelate might find it convenient to leave the question with all these difficulties surrounding it between the passing of the ordinance and the act of Parliament, and not put the House to the inconvenience of a division.
The Bishop of Exeter
said, the noble Duke might be quite right, that it might not be desirable to press this subject to a division. He understood the noble Duke to express a doubt, because it was possible that it might be found, that the ordinance was either contrary to the act of Parliament which authorized the Governor with the Special Council to pass it, or that it was inconsistent with the union. He was quite sure, that that was the best way in which it could be left; and he was quite sure, that the noble Lords near him would enter on its consideration with that view. [No, no!] The noble Lords near him would not reconsider this, whether law or not. They were only asked, if they found, that this ordinance was not valid, because contrary to law, to take means to remedy it, and they said, "no, no;" but if it so turned out they would be obliged, he suspected, to remedy it.
The Marquess of Normanby
I am really very sorry to deprive the right rev. Prelate of any consolation which he can draw from the words of the noble Duke, but I must repeat, that all the circumstances bearing on this ordinance were submitted to the law officers of the Crown after the passing of the Act of Union, and they are decidedly in favour of the legality of the ordinance. I will just ask one question of the right rev. Prelate. He has alluded to a notice said to have been taken by me, somewhat after the manner of Lord Bathurst's despatch to the Earl of Dalhousie, of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Quebec. I wish to know, for my own satisfaction, on what document he founds his assertion?
The Bishop of Exeter
If the noble Marquess had told me, that he required proof of the fact, I should be prepared with it. He had not the paper now with him. It was a return of the Colonial-office when the noble Marquess was Colonial Secretary, and was a statement made of the ecclesiastical establishments in Ca- 242 nada, in which a sum of 2,000l. was set down for the Roman Catholic bishop, under the title of "bishop of Quebec." That is my authority.
The Marquess of Normanby
So, then, this signal proof of my recognition of the Church of Rome as an established religion is not conveyed in any letter to a Governor of the colonies—is not even my own individual act, but a return made in my official character to this House, and not only by me, but by my predecessor and successor.
The Bishop of Exeter
said, that he must really try to set the noble Marquess right; he had totally misunderstood the facts of the case. Instead of this return being one that was regularly laid upon the Table, he believed, that it was never produced until specially moved for in the year 1839.
The Marquess of Normanby
said that all he could say was, that the expression in question was the same as was used in all similar returns which he had seen. He could not undertake to say how far they went back.
§ Motion negatived.