Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

instead of leasing them (as at present), would relieve the province from a heavy charge now brought against its revenue, and would relieve the mother country from all charge for the civil establishments, introduce into this province a respectable population, which would add to its wealth and resources.

" Resolved, 11th.That the reservation of one-seventh of the lands in this province, for the maintenance of a protestant clergy, is an appropriation beyond all precedent lavish. That from the sale of these, churches might be erected and endowed, without any charge to the mother country. That to obtain so desirable a measure, a respectful representation be made to the imperial parliament, and recommending that

of the lands now appro. priated as clergy reserves, be sold and applied as above stated, and that in future there should be the instead of one-seventh part in each township reserved."

REVIEW.

THE work of compilation is now finished. I have placed before the reader documents not only authentic and interesting as they concern Upper Canada, but from which conclusions may be drawn of the utmost importance otherwise.

In the course of this work I have abstained, as much as possible, from intruding my own opinions, that those of the reader might form gradually as facts presented themselves, without prejudice or bias. My purpose now is to look back on the materials collected together, and discover what is most worthy of notice, and whence we may derive knowledge for decision and future transaction.

Thirty years have gone by since the Quebec Bill was debated, thirty years in which human intellect has made wonderful advances, and while a succession of most extraordinary events has given it play beyond all precedent. With increase of general knowledge and clear evidence from many determined results, on points before doubtful, it may not be presumption, even for a farmer, to speak freely of the recorded sentiments of the greatest statesmen and orators that ever emblazoned the page of British history ; to review and criticise the opinions and principles of Pitt, and Fox, and Burke, as they appear to us on the great question of giving to American colonies a constitution. In the debate on the Quebec Bill, the characteristic features of these great men are strikingly displayed; the masterly address and placid temper of Pitt; the common sense, the feeling, and genuine honesty of Fox; the genius, the vehemence, the frenzy * of Burke. We have in all sincerity; at least such is my persuasion.

* This expression may be questioned ; and therefore, it is necessary for me to say, in the first place, that it has not escaped without consideration. Mr. Burke was a man of the clearest perceptions; but it is possible that these perceptions might have been confounded and obscured by an extraordinary rush of feeling; or by the mind being wholly absorbed in the contemplation of foreign objects. I am willing, after perusing the debate on the Quebec Bill, to suppose this, and use the word frenzy, as one which implies no guilt. Were I to give in to the supposition that Mr. B.'s speeches, on this occasion, were part of a studied design, in unison with his “ Reflections on the French Revolution," to procure for himself and family a pension for life, then there would be no word in the English language which could be too strong to paint the villany; then we should, without hesitation, pronounce Mr. Burke to have been the willing instrument of bringing about all the horrors of the French revolution. I acquit him even after reading his letter to the Duke of Bedford, in 1792, which, of itself, would rather increase suspicion. Nothing is more true than that “it is human to err,” and nothing should be more constantly kept in mind, that we may deliver judgment in mercy. Were I to reflect for a hundred years on the conduct of ministers against the Queen, I would disapprove of it; and yet I have a conviction that Lord Liverpool and the Chancellor The fancy of giving to Canada the British constitution was a good one: about as rational as to. think of cultivating sugar canes in Siberia, or to entertain hope from grafting a fruit twig on an icicle. The British constitution is a thing which circumstances have generated, and which only can be upheld while peculiar circumstances exist,

are honourable men. After page 51 of my General Introduction was printed, it was read by several of my friends, who thought me right, with regard to the former, but not the latter stalesman. They knew not that I had a peculiar reason for being indulgent. Lord Eldon was an immediate cause of my ruin. He ordered cash, which was necessary to my salvation, to be taken from me, and put in bond for years at a low rate of interest, as I thought, without sufficient cause, and, as afterwards appeared, unjustly. Even when it was clearly due to me, he would have delayed an order for repayment, but for my rushing in between him and my counsel, personally, to protest against the wrong. I shall not be displeased if accident brings this to his Lordship’s eye, and induces reflection upon the monstrous nature and practices of the Court of Chancery. Let me finish with pushing ministers to the wall, and exclaiming they are “all, all, honourable men.” They had full testimony as to the savage murder of Ambristier, but thought it expedient to pocket the affront, lest inquiry might lead on to a quarrel with the United States *, or an exposure, perhaps, of their own wickedness, in stirring up the Indians against the Americans. Nineteen people out of twenty thought it inexpedient to prosecute the Queen, bụt ministers disregarded expediency, till a hopelessness of success made them think it expedient to give in. It is delusion : it is the intoxication of power, which human nature seems unable to withstand. But some may yet say, “ Had I surved my God as I have served my King, he would not, in old age, have thus deserted me.”

* Sec Lord Bathurst's Speech on that question.

Notwithstanding all our boasts, chance and neces. sity have had more to do in its maturation than reason and truth; and while we look back into history, and survey the world around us, we have much reason to be thankful that it is, as it is. To assume it as perfection, and palm it upon a distant country without consulting first principles, afforded little chance of success. At home, the British constitution would be all-sufficient if we had it; and were we ourselves perfect, we may have it in perfection: abroad, it cannot possibly be had, Mr. Pitt is so far excusable as he brings forward the measure only as one of trial. He is framing an act of parliament, which, at any time, can be repealed or new modelled; which is wholly " subject to revision :" and here the Canadian has advantage over the British constitution. The latter, suspended by the cobwebs of antiquity, cannot be taken down, cleansed out, and hung up again, without dirt and danger. The former, fresh in all its bindings and appointments, can be unloosed, examined, and altered at any time with the utmost safety. Church and State are not indissolubly joined together in Canada, as some say they are at home. Church, indeed, in Canada, is not yet thoroughly established and defined; nor does it appear to have any connexion with Church at home. Church at home is not responsible for Church abroad; and would lose neither credit nor security, though never united to it. As to ruling colonies, we know that Church can be dispensed with. Church has little to do with the govern

« AnteriorContinuar »