An Impartial and Authentic Account of the Civil War in the Canadas/Chapter VII
General Election of 1836 — Defeat of the Liberal Party — Means of Corruption at the Disposal of the Executive — Dr. Duncombe's Mission to England — Growth of Discontent — Organization by means of Political Unions — Meetings in favour of Lower Canada — Declaration of tho Toronto Reformers — The Churchville Meeting — An Independent Constitution Proposed — Influence of Lower Canadian Revolt.
BEFORE we go into the details of the insurrection in Upper Canada, it is necessary that we should place before the reader a review of the political state of the province during the years 1836 and 1837, and especially, that we should record the remarkable change which took place in the character of the House of Assembly at the general election of 1836. Our object is to enable the reader to estimate the state of public opinion in the Upper Province just previous to the revolt ; — to this end the present chapter is devoted.
The Assembly elected in 1834, coincidently with the general election in the Lower Province, was decidedly democratic in its character. Out of sixty members, thirty-five were liberals, and of these, twenty-five were deemed decidedly democratic. Of the twenty-five anti-reformers on the other hand, sixteen only were deemed ultra tories, the remaining nine being "moderate men," not unlikely to vote with the majority on many questions.121
A careful analysis published at the time, exhibited the following total of the number of each party, and of the population represented : —
During the progress of the first session, the liberal majority gradually increased in numbers, until at length the working majority of the liberal party was in the ratio of two to one.
In the month of May, 1836, this Assembly was dissolved by Sir Francis Head. The election took place in the months of June and July, and the result was, that the liberal party was signally defeated ; the newly-elected Assembly exhibiting a political division the very converse of that which we have just recorded. During the first session of the new provincial parliament, the majority gradually increased, as the liberal majority had before done, and as all strong majorities are wont to do ; so that the present Assembly numbers certainly more than forty members favourable to the ruling party, and consequently, less than twenty friendly to reform, of whom, perhaps, not more than six or eight represent the average tone of opinion of the late Assembly.
This is so considerable a change, that it is difficult to attribute it to what is called a reaction of opinion. Popular opinion is certainly liable to perpetual changes, but not to sudden reversal ; change of opinion is slow and progressive. Within a limited range of time it is difficult to appreciate it; by distant results only are we enabled to trace its progress. To suppose the Upper Canadian elections of 1836 to be the result of reaction, is to suppose a sudden overturning of opinion, such as never did, and probably never will occur.
Some change of opinion, however, must have taken place. Many timid politicians had, doubtless, become alarmed at the democratic proceedings of the late Assembly, the more especially, as the anti-popular party were constantly at work, predicting all sorts of fatal consequences as likely to flow from such proceedings. Hence, change of opinion may be taken as one of many causes — not as the sole cause of the defeat of the liberal party. The complete and extensive character of this defeat, requires to be accounted for on other grounds ; these, we now proceed to enumerate.
The first we shall mention is the existence of several small boroughs, in each of which some individual belonging to the ruling party has property, and therefore influence. The small boroughs of Cornwall, Prescott, Brockville, Kingston, Niagara, Hamilton, are all represented by the most virulent of the anti-popular party. Adding Toronto to these, they furnish one-ninth of the whole Assembly.
An extraordinary means of corruption at the disposal of the ruling party is to be found in the vast number of small places scattered throughout the country, the tenure of which is during the pleasure of the crown, the crown meaning of course the local executive. These innumerable petty offices, render subservient to the ruling party, not merely the incumbents and their families, but all those also who view with a longing eye the good things which the executive has at its disposal, wherewith to reward the well-affected. The expectant class will, of course, include all "fathers of numerous families," who are too proud to dig (almost the only road to wealth and independence in a new country) but who, to beg, are not ashamed. It is fearful to contemplate the extent of demoralization in Upper Canada arising from this single use. One single office may stand as a bait for a score of hungry expectants.
The next source of corruption lies in the credit and instalment system of disposing of waste lands. We are not here to discuss the social and economical evils which spring from this source; what we have now to describe is the instrumentality of this truly vicious system, in promoting the "foul influences" of elections. The Canada Land Company, and other large landowners, are in the habit of selling land at a price payable in four or five annual instalments. The industrious settler, ever eager to possess an independent freehold, has no sooner saved money enough to pay his first instalment, than he purchases a lot. He seldom stops to consider his prospect of paying his further instalments, so that in a large number of cases, second and third instalments remain in arrear, in which case, the independence of the debtor is destroyed. Any actual exercise of the power thus conferred on the ruling party is seldom, perhaps never, necessary. They need not say "vote as we desire, or we will oppress you," their known wishes being in most cases anticipated by their dependent and subservient debtors.
But it may be asked, if these sources of sinister influence prevail in Upper Canada, how is it that the liberals ever got a majority ? The answer is easy. At periods of great excitement, when it became apparent to the electors that there was a point to gain worthy of the sacrifice, they "braved the foul influences." In this country, no one doubts the undue influence of the aristocracy. It might, in like manner be asked, how a majority in favour of reform has been obtained by the people of England ? The answer is similar. Enthusiasm has at times prevailed to an extent sufficient to induce men to brave all the evils incidental to an independent vote.
At the Upper Canadian election we are speaking of Sir Francis Head, the governor, was accused of having made votes by issuing a vast number of land patents about the time of the election. From parliamentary papers since published, however, this accusation appears to have been rashly made. All the land patents signed by the governor during the year, were insufficient to produce the effects alleged, and in the months of June and July the number is not sufficiently above the average to warrant any such supposition. It is not necessary, however, to look to extraordinary causes, the ordinary foul influences would operate, the instant the check furnished by a period of excitement in favour of reform was taken off". Upper Canada is, in short, a little England in all that relates to elections.
There are also several minor expedients to which the ruling party always resort, which may be nullified by enthusiasm, but which operate to some extent in the absence of that saving grace. The polling-places are fixed at places convenient to Tory candidates — inconvenient to Liberal candidates. Here again some of the Liberals made a bungle of their charge against Head. They made it appear that he was the inventor of the system — as if the improper mode of locating the polling-places had never been heard of before. Head consequently had a good defence, in stating that he had made no change in the polling-places. Now this was precisely his offence, and so it should have been clearly stated. The system was vicious, the new Governor, a "Reformer" sent out by "Reformers," should have relieved the people from this vicious, oppressive and corrupt system ; he neglected to do so, and on that ground he should have been accused; instead of which he was accused in so lax and careless a manner, as to enable him to convert his very offence into a plausible defence.
Another of the minor expedients is to fix the day of election for the boroughs where the ruling party are omnipotent, some days in advance of the county elections ; in order that a few Tory returns at the commencement of an election, might depress the liberals, and stimulate and encourage their adversaries. This is another expedient which would be lost sight of during a period of enthusiasm, whilst in the absence of excitement it would become conspicuous.
There is one course pursued by Sir Francis Head, which is not pretended to be denied, a course which is certainly not within the fair province of a Governor, who ought to desire that a general election should be a fair expression of the opinion of the country, but which an aristocratic government will assuredly look upon as a venial offence, or, perhaps, even as a justifiable coup d'etat. About the time of the election, Sir Francis Head went about the country playing the part of a political agitator, receiving loyal addresses, and returning answers couched in the most inflammatory language.
To these several causes may, we think, be attributed the defeat of the liberal party in Upper Canada, and we are borne out in this view by the fact that a similar change has before occurred ; indeed, parliaments in Upper Canada seem to be alternately liberal and anti-liberal ; this being the turn of the latter.
The result of the elections of course excited in no small degree the discontent of the defeated liberal party, and of the great mass of the population, whose opinions and wishes they represented. They passed in review the several causes which had contributed to that result ; and it is not surprising that they should, in the excited feelings of the moment, lose sight of the fact, that many of the causes were not new, but were merely newly revived. That, in short, they had suffered by causes which were interwoven with the system of government which prevailed in the province, but which had accidentally been in abeyance at the election of 1834. Hence they were disposed, as we have seen, to consider the executive, and Sir Francis Head in particular, more than usually corrupt, whereas they were merely as vicious and oppressive as others had been at a moment when the people had a right to expect improvement.
In this state of mind, Dr. Charles Duncombe was deputed to this country by the "Constitutional Reform Society of Upper Canada," to lay their complaints before the government. He reached England two days before the close of the session of 1836, just in time to petition the House of Commons, his petition being presented by Mr. Hume. This petition is conspicuous as embodying the grand error above pointed out ; in addition to which, it prefers the untenable charge against Sir Francis Head, of having made votes by granting small lots of land for the purpose ; — a charge which the governor was, as we have already stated, able to repel by the very returns moved for the purpose of proving it. This, of course, strengthened the case of the ruling party. "A refuted fallacy," says a great writer on logic, "ought merely to go for nothing ; instead of which, it is usually followed by another fallacy, and made to tell against the party using it."122 The liberal party had what lawyers would call an admirable case. Corruption had exhibited itself, as it were, stark naked ; but they tried to prove, not more, perhaps, than they believed, but, certainly, too much, and hence they weakened their case.
When Dr. Duncombe applied for an interview with the colonial minister, he was refused. Lord Glenelg had previously refused to see Mr. Robert Baldwin, and in both cases the plea was the same, namely, that they represented a minority. This they could not but deem a dishonest plea, when they found that indivduals belonging to the party of the minority in Lower Canada, and not pretending to be deputed by any body, were admitted whensoever they desired. This has been the constant practice of the Colonial Office. The most insignificant persons connected with the anti-popular party in either province, are received on all occasions, whilst men who are known to be connected with the popular party, have the utmost difficulty in obtaining a hearing. This impresses the colonists with an idea that the government is always against them, always leagued with their oppressors. It is inconceivable the quantity of discontent this treatment has alone occasioned. On this ground, if on no other, it is unwise on the part of the colonial minister, who of all things in the world ought to preserve a character for impartiality and justice. But it is also impolitic for other reasons. A Secretary for the Colonies ought to be desirous of obtaining evidence at all hands ; he should be ready to hear every man's tale ; of course he would reserve to himself the privilege of making all sorts of allowances for the heated feelings of this witness, or the manifest interest of that ; but at all events no evidence should be rejected.123 Instead of this wholesome rule, one party alone is deemed well affected, and therefore invested with an exclusive monopoly of giving evidence, and the result is, that the colonial minister is the very last person to be made acquainted with the feelings and wishes of the people of the colonies, and generally the last person to receive even intelligence of mere facts.
It has been stated in parliament and elsewhere, on the authority of a committee of the present House of Assembly of Upper Canada, that Dr. Duncombe came to England merely as a private individual, that he was the delegate of no one, and that therefore he was not to be considered as representing the views of any considerable number of reformers. We have before us, however, the means of correcting this error, in the shape of a series of documents duly authenticated, showing that he was deputed by the executive committee of a society in Toronto, called the "Constitutional Reform Society;" that he was, moreover, furnished with a sum of money — an exceedingly moderate sum — to defray his expenses, and that consequently he was the delegate of the said society, and represented the opinions of all who concurred with this society, namely, the minority of the electors at the recent elections — a numerous body under any circumstances. The ground for the assertion that he had falsely represented himself as a delegate, seems to have been that it had been determined to keep his mission "a profound secret ;" and the reason given in one of the documents to which we have referred is, "that in every instance, where friends of the people have gone to England to represent their grievances, the executive have resorted to the vilest slanders against their character in their secret despatches to Downing-street."124 But even supposing Dr. Duncombe was no body's delegate, it should still have been deemed worth while to hear him. It was certain that he was the representative, in the Assembly, of a populous county, it was equally certain that there were some six or eight men in the Assembly whose political views were similar to his. Moreover, there had been, perhaps, forty or fifty candidates of similar opinions at the recent election who, although not successful, had, at all events, polled many votes. Under such circumstances, although not a delegate, his evidence might have been heard by Lord Glenelg, had it merely been for the purpose of gaining information as to the peculiar opinions of Dr. Duncombe and his colleagues ; and of that large minority of electors who, although they had failed to seat their men, ought, nevertheless, to be counted, in estimating the state of opinion in the colony. If this had been done, the government would have been saved from one case of that lamentable ignorance which it always displays on colonial questions.
In the meantime the new Assembly met, and busied itself by reversing all that the last Assembly had done, and by passing a series of measures in the highest degree obnoxious to the liberal portion, believed to be the majority of the people. It has been part of the policy of the ruling party to create a provincial debt, to be laid out in improvements. Unfortunately, previous loans with this view had led only to interminable jobbing, so that the late Assembly had set itself against this system. It was now, however, revived. Loans were voted and directed to be raised, so that at this time, the debt of Upper Canada is very considerable; more, indeed, than the province can well afford to pay interest on, until some of the works on which it has been and is to be laid out shall begin to yield profit. This can scarcely take place for some years, and as jobbing goes on wherever a hundred pounds are to be expended in Upper Canada, it is difficult to foretel when such revenue will commence. In the meantime, new loans must be raised to pay the interest on former loans, and the province thereby become involved more and more deeply in debt.
This and other acts of the Assembly increased the discontent, which had been generated by the manner in which the elections had been managed, and which the conduct of the colonial office towards Mr. Baldwin and Dr. Duncombe did not tend to allay. Every expression of the dissatisfaction of the reformers was met by triumph and taunts and revilings on the part of the Assembly, now composed of the successful party ; and although the numbers the reformers had succeeded in polling, against the most grievous odds, at the last election should at least have secured them some respect, they were treated by the executive, and especially by the governor, as a few factious demagogues, having no weight in the province, and representing no opinions but their own.
The result of this position, into which the liberals throughout the province saw themselves thrown, was the organization of political unions in almost every part of the province, all in communication with a central political union at Toronto the capital, at the deliberations of which, some of the most able men in the country presided.
By means of these unions, an extensive correspondence between all parts of the province, at least all the upper parts, was kept up. There is reason to believe that they had a very considerable effect in directing public opinion towards the vicious character of the Assembly, and had a new election taken place in 1837, on the demise of the crown, there seems no reason to doubt that a democratic Assembly would have been elected by the generation of a sufficient degree of enthusiasm and excitement in favour of reform, to over-weigh the influence which had contributed to the success of the ruling party at the last election. Indeed, the Assembly seems to have been aware of this; for knowing, from the infirm state of the late king's health, that the demise of the crown was an event to be looked for, they passed a bill to continue the provincial parliament in case of such an event. This bill was agreed to by Sir Francis Head, and transmitted to the colonial office, in accordance with the 31 Geo. III. c. 31,125 to enable the colonial secretary to disallow it, should he see fit. Lord Glenelg, however, could not but be delighted with the present Assembly, and the act, therefore, was allowed to remain law. This was another great disappointment to the liberal party, as they were ready to take advantage of any opportunity which should occur, to regain their lost position.
We now come to the period when Lord John Russell's resolutions reached Canada, in April, 1837. The Upper Canadians saw, at once, that the blow aimed at the liberties of the Lower Canadians would not be confined to that province, but would, at no very distant period, be extended to Upper Canada. As a result of this impression, the meetings in the upper province, to condemn the said resolutions, and to express sympathy with the people of Lower Canada,126 were scarcely less numerous than the county meetings of the last named province. A few specimens of the resolutions passed at these meetings will greatly assist the reader in forming an estimate of the state of popular opinion at the time.
In the township of Whitchurch, lying north of Toronto, in the Home district, a meeting was held, in the month of September, to take into consideration the resolutions passed by the Imperial Parliament, and about to be enforced in the other colony, and to sympathize with M. Papineau and the Lower Canadians. At this meeting, a long string of resolutions was passed, denouncing the coercive measures of the Imperial Parliament. From these resolutions we extract the following : —
That we view, with hatred and abhorrence, the course adopted by the British Government relative to Lower Canada ; and that it is our duty, not only to sympathize with, but, in case of the enforcement of Lord John Russell's Resolutions, to support the Lower Canadians in their struggle for independence.
"That, forasmuch as Sir F. B. Head has virtually succeeded in wresting from this province the same inestimable right that Lord John Russell's atrocious measures of coercion would take from the other colony by force, namely, the control of the provincial revenue, by which a constitutional check might be exercised over the corruption of the executive, we most heartily sympathize with the people of Lower Canada, and wholly approve of the course taken by Louis Joseph Papineau, and the majority of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada : we consider their cause our cause, and tender to them our warmest thanks and gratitude for their manful support of civil and religious liberty.
A few days after, a very numerous meeting was held in the township of Markham, immediately south of Whitchurch, which, after condemning "the atrocious Resolutions, moved by Lord John Russell, for coercing the Canadians, and governing them by the iron rod of colonial despotism," declaring "those who submit to such oppression unworthy of the name of freemen," and nominating "a committee of public safety," resolved as follows : —
That, being well assured of the love of liberty and hatred of oppression, by which the Hon. Louis Joseph Papineau and his patriotic countrymen of Lower Canada are animated in their present noble struggle, we are determined to make common cause with them and do hereby declare that we should consider the redress of their grievances the best guarantee for the redress of our own, which object we verily believe would have been obtained, had a responsible executive, on the principle laid down by Dr. Rolph, Mr. Baldwin, and the other members of the Executive Council, of January, 1836, been conceded to the colonists.
On the 6th of October, a public meeting took place at St. Thomas's, where the strongest feelings of sympathy with Lower Canada were manifested. From the resolutions passed by this meeting we select the following, as a specimen of the tone and spirit of the whole : —
That we deem the resolutions, lately passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, a subversion of the chartered rights of these provinces ; and we, therefore, applaud the patriotic stand taken against their baneful operation by our brethren in the lower province. We approve of their determination respecting the disuse of tax-paying articles, and we recommend their example as worthy of imitation in this province, until the obnoxious resolutions be annulled, and until both provinces obtain such an amelioration in the constitution, as will enable our respective legislatures to redress the grievances which have long pressed heavily on the people, and which have checked the prosperity of the provinces, and engendered such discontents as have at last destroyed the credits of the province abroad, and plunged it into bankruptcy at home.
That, time after time, both in this province and in Great Britain, most loyally, nay, most servilely, have we petitioned for a redress of the long and frightful catalogue of the wrongs of Canada. Our prayers have been spumed, and our feelings have been deeply wounded by the insults that have accompanied the contemptuous disregard of our most humble supplications for justice ; that we have too long hawked our wrongs, as the beggar doth his sores, at the fastidious threshold of haughty oppression, when, derided and mocked, we have been sent empty away. That, since our iron-hearted rulers have turned a deaf ear to the voice of our complaints, we, confiding in the goodness of our cause, resting as it wholly does on reason, truth, and equity, for its support, will call upon the God of Justice to aid us in our holy struggle as Britons and as men.
"When the business of this meeting was over," says the St. Thomas's Liberal, "several rounds of heart-stirring applause were given for the friends of Canada in the British Parliament, and for Papineau and the Lower Canadians."
During the same month, "the great northern meeting of the inhabitants of the counties of Simcoe and York,"127 was held at Lloyd Town, at which numerous resolutions were passed, from which we select the following : —
That the present circumstances of our sister province of Lower Canada cannot fail to attract the attention, and awaken the sympathies, of all civilized men throughout the world, but, in a more especial manner, such of this province, who, being under the same government, must partake largely of the same evils which are threatened upon them, if the home government persist in the prosecution of the measures lately resolved noon by the British Parliament, which course, we fully believe, will only tend to the further distractions of that province, and the final dismemberment of the empire.
That the distractions of Lower Canada are all owing to the partial and bad administration of the civil government, upheld by pretended 'English interests,' but really by an organised and intolerant party or fraternity, similar to, and mostly sprung from, the same class which opposed the restoration of civil and equal liberty to the Catholics of Ireland, and which is industriously occupied in producing division, discord, and slavery here.
That we sympathize with, and approve the steady, peaceable, yet patriotic conduct of our brother reformers of Lower Canada, and believe it necessary at this crisis to adopt a rigid economy, and to abstain as much as possible from all articles which are subject to duties and taxes for the support of a government not responsible to the people. We regret that past experience has not yet sufficiently taught the lesson, that opposition to reformation generally ends in revolution.
We pass over the proceedings of several other meetings where similar resolutions were passed, to come at once to the course pursued by the reformers in the capital.
As early as the 28th of July, a very numerous public meeting took place in Toronto, which appears to have given the tone to several of those which subsequently took place. We need not trouble the reader with all the resolutions which were passed ; it will be sufficient to quote those which bear witness of the intense interest with which the liberal party of Upper Canada and their supporters viewed the progress of the measures of passive resistance, which had been adopted in Lower Canada. Among other matters it was resolved —
That the warmest thanks and admiration are due from the reformers of Upper Canada to the Hon. Louis Joseph Papineau, Esq., Speaker of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, and his compatriots in and out of the legislature, for their past uniform, manly, and noble independence in favour of civil and religious liberty ; and for their present devoted, honourable, and patriotic opposition to the attempt of the British government to violate their constitution, to subvert the powers and privileges of their parliament, and to overawe them by coercive measures into a disgraceful abandonment of their just and reasonable wishes.
That the reformers of Upper Canada are called upon, by every tie of feeling, interest, and duty, to make common cause with their fellow-citizens of Lower Canada, whose successful coercion would doubtless be in time visited upon us, and the redress of whose grievances would be the best guarantee for the redress of our own.
Besides the general meeting of the reformers of Toronto, the central political union had several meetings where strong resolutions were passed ; these we pass over to make room for a document of considerable length, which notwithstanding that feature, we are induced to print entire, from the circumstance of its presenting the most complete as well as the most recent view we have seen of the opinions of the Upper Canadian reformers, as to their own grievances : —
THE DECLARATION OF THE REFORMERS OF THE CITY OF TORONTO TO THEIR FELLOW-REFORMERS IN UPPER CANADA.
The time has arrived, after nearly half a century's forbearance under increasing and aggravated misrule, when the duty we owe our country and posterity requires from us the assertion of our rights and the redress of our wrongs.
Government is founded on the authority and is instituted for the benefit of a people ; when, therefore, any government long and systematically ceases to answer the great ends of its foundation, the people have a natural right given them by their Creator to seek after and establish such institutions as will yield the greatest quantity of happiness to the greatest number.
Our forbearance heretofore has only been rewarded with an aggravation of our grievances ; and our past inattention to our rights has been ungenerously and unjustly urged as evidence of the surrender of them. We have now to choose, on the one hand, between submission to the same blighting policy as hath desolated Ireland, and, on the other hand, the patriotic achievement of cheap, honest, and responsible government.
The right was conceded to the present United States at the close of a successful revolution, to form a constitution for themselves ; and the loyalists, with their descendents and others now peopling this portion of America, are entitled to the same liberty without the shedding of blood — more they do not ask ; less they ought not to have. But, while the revolution of the former has been rewarded with a consecutive prosperity unexampled in the history of the world, the loyal valour of the latter alone remains amidst the blight of misgovernment to tell them what they might have been, as the not less valiant sons of American Independence. Sir Francis Head has too truly portrayed our country 'as standing in the flourishing continent of North America like a girdled tree with its drooping branches.' But the laws of nature do not, and those of man ought no longer to exhibit this invidious and humiliating comparison.
The affairs of this country have been ever, against the spirit of the Constitutional Act, subjected in the most injurious manner to the interferences and interdictions of a succession of colonial ministers in England who have never visited the country, and can never possibly become acquainted with the state of parties, or the conduct of public functionaries, except through official channels in the province, which are ill calculated to convey information necessary to disclose official delinquencies, and correct public abuses. A painful experience has proved how impracticable it is for such a succession of strangers beneficially to direct and control the affairs of the people four thousand miles off; and being an impracticable system, felt to be intolerable by those for whose good it was professedly intended, it ought to be abolished, and the domestic institutions of the province so improved and administered by the local authorities as to render the people happy and contented. The system of baneful domination has been uniformly furthered by a Lieutenant-Governor sent amongst us as an uninformed, unsympathising stranger, who, like Sir Francis, has not a single feeling in common with the people, and whose hopes and responsibilities begin and end in Downing-street. And this baneful domination is further cherished by a legislative council not elected, and, therefore, irresponsible to the people for whom they legislate, but appointed by the ever-changing colonial minister for life, from pensioners on the bounty of the crown, official dependents, and needy expectants.
Under this mockery of human government we have been insulted, injured, and reduced to the brink of ruin. The due influence and purity of all our institutions have been utterly destroyed. Our governors are the mere instruments for effecting domination from Downing-street ; legislative councillors have been intimidated into executive compliance, as in the case of the late Chief Justice Powell, Mr. Baby, and others ; the executive council has been stript of every shadow of responsibility and of every shade of duty ; the freedom and purity of elections have lately received, under Sir Francis Head, a final and irretrievable blow ; our revenue has been and still is decreasing to such an extent, as to render heavy additional taxation indispensable for the payment of the interests of our public debt, incurred by a system of improvident and profligate expenditure; our public lands, although a chief source of wealth to a new country, have been sold at low valuation to speculating companies in London, and resold to the settlers at very advanced rates, the excess being remitted to England, to the serious impoverishment of the country ; the ministers of religion have been corrupted by the prostitution of the casual and territorial revenue, to salary and influence them ; our clergy reserves instead of being devoted to the purposes of general education, though so much needed and loudly demanded, have been in part sold, to the amount of upwards of 300,000 dollars, paid into the military chest, and sent to England; numerous rectories have been established, against the almost unanimous wishes of the people, with certain exclusive ecclesiastical and spiritual rights and privileges, according to the established Church of England, to the destruction of equal religious rights ; public salaries, pensions, and sinecures, have been augmented in number and amount, notwithstanding the impoverishment of our revenue and country ; and the parliament has, under the name of arrearages, paid the retrenchments made in past years by reform parliaments ; our judges have, in spite of our condition, been doubled, and wholly selected from the most violent political partisans against our equal civil and religious liberties ; and a court of chancery suddenly adopted by a subservient parliament, against the long-cherished expectations of the people against it, and its operation fearfully extended into the past, so as to jeopardize every title and transaction from the beginning of the province to the present time. A law has been passed enabling magistrates, appointed during pleasure, at the representation of a grand jury selected by a sheriff holding office during pleasure, to tax the people at pleasure, without their previous knowledge or consent, upon all their rateable property, to build and support workhouses for the refuge of the paupers invited by Sir Francis from the parishes in Great Britain ; thus unjustly and wickedly laying the foundation of a system which must result in taxation, pestilence, and famine. Public loans have been authorized by improvident legislation to nearly eight millions of dollars, the surest way to make the people both poor and dependent ; the parliament, subservient to Sir Francis Head's blighting administration, has, by an unconstitutional act, sanctioned by him, prolonged their duration after the demise of the Grown, thereby evading their present responsibility to the people, depriving them of the exercise of their elective franchise on the present occasion, and extending the period of their unjust, unconstitutional and ruinous legislation with Sir Francis Head ; our best and most worthy citizens have been dismissed from the bench of justice, from the militia and other stations of honour and usefulness, for exercising their rights as freemen in attending public meetings for the regeneration of our condition, as instanced in the case of Dr. Baldwin, Messrs. Scatchard, Johnson, Small, Ridout, and others; those of our fellow-subjects who go to England to represent our deplorable condition are denied a hearing by a partial, unjust, and oppressive government, while the authors and promoters of our wrongs are cordially and graciously received, and enlisted in the cause of our further wrongs and misgovernment ; our public revenues are plundered and misapplied without redress, and unavailable securities make up the late defalcation of Mr. P. Robinson, the Commissioner of Public Lands, to the amount of 80,000 dollars. Interdicts are continually sent by the colonial minister to the governor, and by the governor to the provincial parliament, to restrain and render futile their legislation, which ought to be free and unshackled ; these instructions, if favourable to the views and policy of the enemies of our country, are rigidly observed ; if favourable to public liberty, they are, as in the case of Earl Ripon's despatch, utterly contemned, even to the passing of the ever-to-be-remembered and detestable everlasting Salary Bill ; Lord Glenelg has sanctioned, in the King's name, all the violations of truth and of the constitution by Sir Francis Head, and both thanked and titled him for conduct, which, under any civilized government, would be the ground of impeachment.
The British government, by themselves and through the Legislative Council of their appointment, have refused their assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good, among which we may enumerate the intestate estate equal distribution bill ; the bill to sell the clergy reserves for educational purposes ; the bill to remove the corrupt influence of the executive in the choosing of juries, and to secure a fair, free trial by jury ; the several bills to encourage emigration from foreign parts ; the bills to secure the independency of the Assembly ; the bill to amend the law of libel ; the bill to appoint commissioners to meet others appointed by Lower Canada, to treat on matters of trade and other matters of deep interest ; the bills to extend the blessings of education to the humbler classes in every township, and to appropriate annually a sum of money for the purpose ; the bill to dispose of the school lands in aid of education; several bills for the improvement of the highways; the bill to secure independence to voters by establishing the vote by ballot ; the bill for the better regulation of elections of members of the Assembly, and to provide that they be held at places convenient for the people; the bills for the relief of Quakers, Menonists and Tunkers ; the bill to amend the present obnoxious court of request laws, by allowing the people to choose the commissioners, and to have a trial by jury if desired ; with other bills to improve the administration of justice and diminish unnecessary costs ; the bills to amend the charter of King's College University, so as to remove its partial and arbitrary system of government and education ; and the bill to allow free competition in banking.
The King of England has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained ; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He has interfered with the freedom of elections, and appointed elections to fee held at places dangerous, inconvenient, and unsafe for the people to assemble at, for the purpose of fatiguing them into his measures, through the agency of pretended representatives ; and has, through his Legislative Council, prevented provision being made for quiet and peaceable elections, as in the case of the late returns at Beverley.
He has dissolved the late House of Assembly for opposing with manly firmness Sir Francis Head's invasion of the right of the people to a wholesome control over the revenue, and for insisting that the persons conducting the government should be responsible for their official conduct to the country, through its representatives.
He has endeavoured to prevent the peopling of this province and its advancement in wealth ; for that purpose obstructing the laws for the naturalization of foreigners, refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of the public lands, large tracts of which he has bestowed upon unworthy persons his favourites, while deserving settlers from Germany and other countries have been used cruelly.
He has rendered the administration of justice liable to suspicion and distrust, by obstructing laws for establishing a fair trial by jury, by refusing to exclude the chief criminal judge from interfering in political business, and by selecting as the judiciary violent and notorious partisans of his arbitrary power.
He has sent a standing army into the sister province to coerce them to his unlawful and unconstitutional measures, in open violation of their rights and liberties, and has received with marks of high approbation military officers who interfered with the citizens of Montreal in the midst of an election of their representatives, and brought the troops to coerce them, who shot several persons dead wantonly in the public streets.
Considering the great number of lucrative appointments held by strangers in the country, whose chief merit appears to be their subserviency to any and every administration, we may say with our brother colonists of old — 'he has sent hither swarms of new officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.'
The English parliament has interfered with our internal affairs and regulations, by the passing of grievous and tyrannical enactments, for taxing us heavily without our consent, for prohibiting us to purchase many articles of the first importance at the cheapest European or American markets, and compelling us to buy such goods and merchandise at an exorbitant price in markets of which England has a monopoly.
They have passed resolutions for our coercion of a character so cruel and arbitrary, that Lord Chancellor Brougham has recorded on the journals of the House of Peers, that 'they set all considerations of sound policy, of generosity, and of justice, at defiance,' are wholly subversive of 'the fundamental principle of the British constitution, that no part of the taxes levied on the people shall be applied to any purpose whatever without the consent of the representatives in parliament,' and that the Canadian 'precedent of 1837 will ever after be cited in the support of such oppressive proceedings, as often as the Commons of any colony may withhold supplies, how justifiable soever their refusal maybe;' and (adds his lordship) 'those proceedings, so closely resembling the fatal measures that severed the United States from Great Britain, have their origin in principles, and derive their support from reasonings, which form a prodigious contrast to the whole grounds and the only defence of the policy during latter years, and so justly and so wisely sanctioned by the imperial parliament in administering the affairs of the mother country. Nor is it easy to imagine that the inhabitants of either the American or the European branches of the empire should contemplate so strange a contrast, without drawing inferences therefrom discreditable to the character of the legislature, and injurious to the future safety of the state, when they mark with what different measures we mete to six hundred thousand inhabitants of a remote, province, unrepresented in parliament, and to six millions of our fellow-citizens nearer home, and making themselves heard by their representatives, the reflection will assuredly arise in Canada, and may possibly find its way into Ireland, that the sacred rules of justice, the most worthy feelings of national generosity, and the soundest principles of enlightened policy maybe appealed to in vain, if the demands of the suitor be not also supported by personal interests, and party views, and political fears, among those whose aid he seeks ; while all men perceiving that many persons have found themselves at liberty to hold a course towards an important but remote province, which their constituents never would suffer to be pursued towards the most inconsiderable burgh of the United Kingdom, an impression will inevitably be propagated most dangerous to the maintenance of colonial dominion, that the people can never safely entrust the powers of government to any supreme authority not residing among themselves.'
In every stage of these proceedings we have petitioned for redress in most humble terms ; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injuries.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here ; we have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity ; and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connexion and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity.
We, therefore, the reformers of the city of Toronto, sympathising with our fellow-citizens here and throughout the North American colonies, who desire to obtain cheap, honest, and responsible government, the want of which has been the source of all their past grievances, as its continuance would lead to their utter ruin and desolation, are of opinion —
1. That the warmest thanks and admiration are due from the reformers of Upper Canada, to the Honourable Louis Joseph Papineau, Esq., Speaker of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, and his compatriots in and out of the legislature, for their past uniform, manly, and noble independence, in favour of civil and religious liberty; and for their present devoted, honourable, and patriotic opposition to the attempt of the British government to violate their constitution without their consent, subvert the powers and privileges of their local parliament, and overawe them by coercive measures into a disgraceful abandonment of their just and reasonable wishes.
2. And that the reformers of Upper Canada are called upon by every tie of feeling, interest, and duty, to make common cause with their fellow-citizens of Lower Canada, whose successful coercion would doubtless be in time visited upon us, and the redress of whose grievances would be the best guarantee for the redress of our own.
To render this co-operation the more effectual, we earnestly recommend to our fellow-citizens that they exert themselves to organize political associations ; that public meetings be held throughout the province ; and that a convention of delegates be elected and assembled at Toronto, to take into consideration the political condition of Upper Canada, with authority to its members to appoint commissioners to meet others to be named on behalf of Lower Canada and any of the other colonies, armed with suitable powers, as a Congress, to seek an effectual remedy for the grievances of the colonies.
T. D. Morrison, Chairman of . . . . John Montgomery
Committee . . . . John Edward Tims
John Elliot, Secretary . . . . J. H. Price
David Gibson . . . . . . . . . . . John Doel
John Mackintosh . . . . . . . . . . M. Reynolds
W. J. O'Grady . . . . . . . . . . James Armstrong
Edward Wright . . . . . . . . . . James Hunter
Robert McKay . . . . . . . . . . John Armstrong
Thomas Elliott . . . . . . . . . . William Ketchum
E. B. Gilbert . . . . . . . . . . William L. Mackenzie.
About the 18th or 20th of November, a meeting was held at Churchville, in the county of York, for the purpose of framing, and recommending to the people of Upper Canada for adoption, a constitution, on the model of some of the state constitutions of America. Their publication of this constitution was called, by the papers of the United States, a "virtual declaration of independence." This, however, could scarcely have been intended, as such a course would have alarmed the authorities, and put them on their guard as to any actual declaration of the kind, which could only be made with effect by men fully prepared to maintain it by arms. All that was probably intended was the production of a moral effect ; that is, to aid in leading the public mind to a state to render such a declaration successful at some future, and, perhaps, not very distant period.
The constitution is addressed to "the Convention of farmers, mechanics, labourers, and other inhabitants of Toronto, met to consider of, and take measures for, effectually maintaining in this colony a free constitution and democratic form of government;" and purports to be a report of "the committee appointed to draft a popular constitution with guards suitable for this province, in case the British system of government shall be positively denied to the people of the province." The preamble of this draft runs as follows : —
Whereas, the solemn covenant made with the people of Upper and Lower Canada, and recorded in the Statute Book of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, as the 31st chapter of the Acts passed in the 31st year of the reign of King George III., hath been continually violated by the British government, and our rights usurped ; and whereas our humble petitions, addresses, protests, and remonstrances, against this injurious interference, have been made in vain — We, the people of the State of Upper Canada, acknowledge with gratitude the grace and beneficence of God in permitting us to make choice of our form of government, and, in order to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of civil and religious liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do establish this constitution.
The first article relates to the free exercise of religion, and provides that "matters of religion and the ways of God's worship are not at all intrusted by the people of this state to any human power, because therein they cannot remit or exceed a tittle of what their consciences dictate to be the mind of God, without wilful sin. Therefore, the legislature shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or for the encouragement or the prohibition of any religious denomination."
The following article proposes to devote all the lands in the province, except such as are held by private individuals, but not excepting those held by corporations, to the general purposes of revenue, reserving a portion for the support of common schools. This is in imitation of the excellent system of the United States: —
The whole of the public lands within the limits of this state, including the lands attempted, by a pretended sale, to be vested in certain adventurers called the Canada Company (except so much of them as may have been disposed of to actual settlers now resident in the state,) and all the lands called crown reserves, clergy reserves and rectories, and also the school lands, and the lands pretended to be appropriated to the uses of the University of King's College, are declared to be the property of the state, and at the disposal of the legislature, for the public service thereof. The proceeds of one million of acres of the most valuable public lands shall be specially appropriated to the support of common or township schools.
The following articles provide for the erection of a legislature similar in all respects to those of the several states of America. To adopt language well understood in this country, the people of the province or state of Upper Canada were to enjoy universal suffrage, short (biennial) parliaments, and vote by ballot. The second chamber was to differ from the lower house only in requiring the qualification of a freehold — a universal qualification in Canada ; and there was to be a fixed day for elections as well as for the assembling of the legislature. But let the articles speak for themselves : —
The legislative authority of this state shall be vested in a general Assembly, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Assembly, both to be elected by the people.
The legislative year shall begin on the ____ day of ____ and the legislature shall every year assemble on the second Tuesday in January, unless a different day be appointed by law.
The Senate shall consist of twenty-four members. The senators shall be freeholders and be chosen for four years. The House of Assembly shall consist of seventy-two members, who shall be elected for two years.
The state shall be divided into six senate districts, each of which shall choose four senators.
* * * * * *
In order to promote the freedom, peace, and quiet of elections, and to secure in the most ample manner possible the independence of the poorer classes of the electors, it is declared that all elections by the people, which shall take place after the first session of the legislature of this state, shall be by ballot, except for such town officers as may by law be directed to be otherwise chosen.
* * * * * *
The next election for governor, senators and members of Assembly shall commence on the first Monday of ____ next ; and all subsequent elections shall be held at such time in the month of ____ or ____, as the legislature shall by law provide.
The following relate to the choice of Governor : —
The executive power shall be vested in a governor. He shall hold his office for three years. No person shall be eligible to that office who shall not have attained the age of thirty years.
The governor shall be elected by the people at the times and places of choosing members of the legislature. The person having the highest number of votes shall be elected ; but in case two or more persons shall have an equal, and the highest number of votes, the two houses of Legislature shall, by joint votes (not by ballot) choose one of the said persons for governor.
The following article was probably inserted in token of amity with, and of the most liberal and friendly feelings towards, the United States of America. The free navigation of the St. Lawrence, being a privilege which the Americans have long sought, and to the enjoyment of which they are indefinitely approaching, by the increasing liberality of our customs arrangements in that part of the world.
The river St. Lawrence of right ought to be a free and common highway to and from the ocean ; to be so used, on equal terms, by all the nations of the earth, and not monopolized to serve the interests of any one nation, to the injury of others.
What effect this publication may have had on the public mind we have no means of ascertaining, as the democratic newspaper of Toronto, the Constitution, was shortly after discontinued ; besides which, events subsequently occurred of a character to absorb for a time all public interest.
It may now be well to place before the reader, the view which the governor took of the state of opinion at the time. In the month of October, Sir John Colborne had commenced concentrating his forces at Montreal, preparatory to the course which the executive then intended to pursue against the leading men in Lower Canada. He had written to Sir Francis Head to know what troops he could spare, and the answer of the latter had been all. On the 31st of October, Sir Francis addressed a letter to Sir John Colborne, again urging him to remove the whole of the 24th regiment, even to his "sentry and orderlies ;" the following is the singular production : —
On the receipt of your despatch of the 24th, which I received yesterday, I immediately begged Colonel Foster to carry your wishes into effect, by sending you down the 24th regiment. Colonel Foster told me you were good enough to propose that a guard should be left for me and for the stores and commissariat, but I begged to give up my sentry and orderlies and in fact to send you the whole of the 24th, which is stationed here.
I will now endeavour to explain to you the course of policy I am desirous to pursue. I am sure you will be of opinion that a great deal, if not the whole, of the agitation which is carried on in Lower Canada is intended to have the immediate effect of intimidating the two Houses of Parliament in England, by making them believe that republicanism is indigenous to the soil of America, and that nothing else will grow there.
But M. Papineau knows quite well that this assertion will not be considered as proved unless Upper Canada joins in it, and accordingly Mr. M'Kenzie and his gang,128 under his directions, are doing every thing in their power here to get up any thing that may be made to pass for agitation in the London market.
This province is, as far as my experience goes, more loyal and more tranquil than any part of England ; however, this does not matter to Mr. M'Kenzie, provided he can get up a few sets of violent resolutions, which you know very well are easily effected.
Now, what I desire to do is completely to upset Mr. Papineau, so far as Upper Canada is concerned, by proving to people in England that this province requires no troops at all, and, consequently, that it is perfectly tranquil.
I consider that this evidence will be of immense importance, as it at once shows the conduct of Lower Canada to be factious ; whereas, could it, under colour of a few radical meetings here, be asserted that the two provinces were on the brink of revolution, it would, as you know, be argued as an excuse for granting the demands of M. Papineau. I consider it of immense importance, practically, to show to the Canadas that loyalty produces tranquillity, and that disloyalty not only brings troops into the province, but also involves it in civil war.
To attain the object I have long had in view, I deemed it advisable not to retain, either for myself or for the stores, the few men we have been accustomed to require ; for I felt I could not completely throw myself, as I wished to do, on the inhabitants of the province so long as there remained troops in the garrison.
I cannot, of course, explain to you all the reasons I have for my conduct, but I can assure you that I have deeply reflected on it, and well know the materials I have to deal with.
The detachment of artillery and the barrack-master, who, I understand, is to take up his quarters in the barracks, will be, I believe, sufficient to take care of the barrack stores. The arms I have put under the charge of the mayor, which I am confident will arouse a very excellent feeling, which will immediately spread over the province. The military chest will be deposited for safe custody in the vaults of the Upper Canada Bank, where it will be much safer than in its present remote situation.
I enclose you a copy of a communication I have addressed to the mayor, and also to Mr. Foote, which will explain the arrangements I have made, for which I am quite prepared to take upon myself all the responsibility I have incurred.
I have now to ask you to assist me further in the policy I am pursuing, by removing the 24th regiment from Kingston, so as to take them out of Upper Canada. I have not the slightest occasion for them, particularly in that direction, where all is nothing but loyalty ; but if they remain there, the moral I am desirous to attain will be spoiled, for it will be argued in England that all which has been done in Upper Canada is merely that the troops have been moved from the midland to the eastern district. I am afraid you may find difficulty in finding room for them in the Lower Province, but, if by any exertion you can effect my wishes, I feel confident you will do so.
It is with reluctance I have incurred the responsibilities I have mentioned ; I know the arrangements I have made are somewhat irregular, but I feel confident the advantages arising from them will be much greater than the disadvantages.
What I am about to do will arouse loyal feeling throughout the province at a moment when it is of inestimable importance.
Colonel Foster will tell you that the detachment you have desired to have from Penetanguishene is at your service. I shall be anxious to hear from you on the subject of the removal of the 24th from Upper Canada, and
I remain, &c.
On the removal of the troops from Toronto, the militia requested to be placed as a guard over the arms in that city, amounting to about 4000 stand; "but," said Sir Francis Head, addressing Lord Glenelg, on the 3d of November — "I have insisted on their being merely under the care of a couple of policemen, and of the inhabitants generally. I know perfectly well that there exists no body of men in this province who would dare to attack government property under the protection of the civil authorities of Toronto."
We are now enabled to sum up, in a few words, the posture of affairs in Upper Canada at the time the disturbances commenced in the Lower Province.
In the first place, discontent prevailed, in various degrees of intensity, among a large proportion of the population. Even if no allowance be made for the effect of the foul influences we have pointed out at the commencement of this chapter, the sum of the minorities on the polls of the general election shows that a very large and influential portion of the population was opposed to the ruling party, and to the existing state of things. Whatever allowance be made for the "foul influences," it must go to augment the estimate of the strength of the popular party ; and as the leading men of that party could not but feel that those influences had been great, we must not wonder that they firmly believed a majority of the population to be actually in favour of the course pursued by the late assembly, and, consequently, opposed to the present.
To what lengths they were disposed to go in support of their views, was a question which the leading men would find it difficult to solve. As in this country, that portion of the population opposed to what they deem abuses call themselves "reformers ;" the question to be solved by a body of men, contemplating an attempt to establish independence evidently was, what proportion of the whole body of reformers they could calculate upon carrying with them. This was clearly a case of extreme difficulty, and so it always must be. Nevertheless, there was some evidence on the point to which they might refer, and on which the sanguine would be disposed to rely to a greater extent than the nature of the evidence warranted. We allude to the meetings in favour of Lower Canada, to which we have already alluded. These meetings, it is true, were antecedent to the breaking out of the disturbances in November. It was not, therefore, with actual, or even apparent revolt, that the people sympathised ; it was simply with that determined opposition to the local government, which the leaders in Lower Canada had adopted during the summer. Still, the language held at the township meetings of Upper Canada, might have induced the most sanguine of the popular party to believe that the province had arrived at that point of maturity, when the authority of the mother country should be thrown off". Now, this is precisely one of those opinions, the correctness of which cannot be tested beforehand. It is one which entirely precludes the idea of a canvass. To put it to the test, there must be some men willing to assume its correctness. If they meet with one success, a second becomes at once more probable, and at every subsequent stage, thousands declare themselves in favour of a change in the existing order of things, who, in the event of a failure, would either hold their tongues, or, perhaps, even be loudly loyal.
Thus, then, in Upper Canada there was, at the end of November, a body of reformers, of all degrees, in a state of discontent more or less intense, amounting certainly to a very large minority of the people, and, possibly, to a majority. Of this body of reformers, a section, more or less large, had expressed themselves, in very strong language, in favour of resistance of the government ; so that looking at the matter calmly, and without passion or prejudice, we ought not to be much surprised, that the advocates of self-government should determine on the bold measure of putting their opinions to the test, the more especially if other circumstances wore at the time a favourable aspect. Let us now look at some of the circumstances which may be supposed to have operated on the minds of those who behaved their opinions in favour of independence to be participated by a large body of reformers.
In the first place, Sir Francis Head's somewhat bombastic request that all the troops even to his "sentry and orderlies," should be withdrawn from the province, had been set forth in the anti-popular papers with the most ostentatious boastfulness. Every thing was stated calculated to tickle the vanity of the anti-popular party, armed and unarmed. How many times the "two policemen" were quoted as evidence of the supreme loyalty of the city, it would be dangerous to say ; and the arms — the "4000 stand of arms,"129 were constantly paraded on paper in all their naked defencelessness, as much as to say "come, steal me," to every gunless patriot. The want of arms, we have since learned, was felt as an almost insuperable impediment in the way of a successful assertion of independence, so that this peculiar stroke of policy on the part of Sir Francis Head, must be set down among the causes of the first outbreak. It was a rush for arms, as a necessary preliminary to further operations.
The next event, which cannot but have had considerable influence in accelerating the outbreak in Upper Canada, was the intelligence from Lower Canada at the time, namely, the end of November. The news of the rescue at Longueil, of the defeat of the troops at St. Denis, and of the alarm in Montreal, would reach Toronto in rapid succession ; and if the reader will take the trouble to turn back to the posture of affairs at the time Colonel Wetherall deemed it prudent to suspend his march on St. Charles, and remain at St. Hilaire, he will easily comprehend that even to less sanguine men than the Toronto patriots, it would look very like a successful rising ; without making any allowance for the exaggerated statements which appeared at the time of the strength of the Lower Canadians.
It is quite impossible to read Sir Francis Head's despatches without looking upon the author as something very like a mounte-bank. To suppose him seriously engaged in the business of administration is out of the question ; he appears to be perpetually occupied in managing some clever stage-trick, calculated to amuse men whose interests are in no way mixed up in the issue. The production just quoted affords ample evidence of this ; but it will be more apparent when we quote some other despatches, equally flippant in style, equally tricky in the conception of the plans they detail, when the circumstances of the moment had assumed a hue of such intense seriousness, as to demand the utmost gravity of thought and dignity of narration on the part of a governor.
If the peculiar style in which these despatches are penned, had been confined to those documents which were intended only for the eye of the Upper Canadian ruling party, it might have been permitted to pass unnoticed. Judging from the inflated style of their newspapers, and of some of the speeches of their orators, which they delight most to praise, we should have been disposed to admit, that Sir Francis Head was merely suiting himself to his audience. But when we see that all his state papers addressed to the Queen's minister, and destined in all probability for the perusal of members of the House of Commons, and others, to whom such a style is especially offensive, we cannot award him even the poor merit above hinted at.
We have now carefully enumerated the several occurrences, the knowledge of which is necessary to enable the reader to estimate the state of the province towards the end of November, and especially to appreciate the state of opinion which prevailed among the popular party. In doing so, however, he will not have failed to perceive, that under any circumstances there is a very large portion of the population favourable to the ruling party. Making due allowance for the deception created by the operation of the sinister influence of that party at the elections, there is still a large number of persons attached to the existing order of things. The extensive prevalence of Orange societies is alone a proof of this. A large number of persons have emigrated from the north of Ireland within a few years, and by them the establishment of Orange societies has been encouraged. The government found them useful, and encouraged them, even after they had been discountenanced in Great Britain and Ireland. The dominant party found them useful also, and joined them. Thus while discontent was spreading on the one hand, there was on the other a degree of skilful organization which the government could at any time turn to account against the unorganized mass of the people. Supposing the two parties to be tolerably equal in point of numbers, the government could easily turn the balance in favour of that which it deemed well-effected, by providing it with an abundant supply of arms. Such being the state of the province at the end of November, it only remains to be added, that not the least manifestation of revolt had as yet been made. Sir Francis Head characterises it as "a state of profound peace;" the first interruption of that state will be detailed in the next chapter.
121. These numbers are from statements put forward at the time by the adverse parties. Thus the radicals had a "black list," and the ruling party their "white list." The sixteen ultra tories above mentioned, are such as were on both lists — denounced in the one, recommended in the other. The same rule has been observed in relation to the ultra liberals.
123. For some admirable reasoning of universal application on the subject of the non-exclusion of evidence, the reader may consult Bentham's Rationale of Judicial Evidence, vol. i, p. 152 ; ii, 541 ; iii. 541—637 ; iv. 1. 477—482.
124. Proof of the justice of this suspicion has been furnished in a despatch of Sir F. Head's, just printed. Par. paper. No. 94, 23rd Jan. 1838, p. 93.
125. By this act a right is reserved to the crown to disallow provincial acts within two years of the time of their receiving the governor's assent.
126. For a description of the manner in which the resolutions were received in Lower Canada, see the Introduction.
127. For a statement of the population of these counties, and for a description of the country, see the next Chapter.
128. "Hancock and his gang" was the slang of 1776.
129. Sometimes stated by Sir Francis Head at 6000.
|This text is in the public domain worldwide either because its author died at least 100 years ago or because it was published by a public body. Translations published later may still be copyrighted.|