The Address of L. J. Papineau to the Electors of St. Maurice and Huntingdon
To the Electors of the County of St. Maurice
Gentlemen of the county of St. Maurice,
There could be nothing more consoling to the patriot, after a forced absence of eight years, away from the country of his birth, than to find himself the object, on the day of his return, of a benevolence so unalterable, a confidence so unaltered, as that of which my compatriots honor me and of which spontaneously you give me a proof as striking as that which result from the demand you formulated, on the part of the county of St. Maurice, to request that I should represent it in the next Parliament.
Horrid calamities have inundated the country; the victorious and vindicative minority punished it a thousand times above the limit permitted by the law; the reckless dictatorship of lord Durham condemned to exile and expatriation never heard and never confronted accused and did so under forms and conditions so arbitrary that even in England, where there was not a single Statesman who was more popular than he was, before the inexplicable error, a universal cry of surprise welcomed his ordinances. Worst days even succeeded to those. Only one party could speak and it calumniated.
The most modest defense of the most innocent condemned him to the gag and the prison. Were the persecutors happier than the victims? Who on Earth can read in the secret of consciences?
All your most eminent patriots, dead or alive, deported or present, were for a long series of years shamefully calumniated; but the lie made your confidence in them grow bigger and the evils they suffered rendered them dearer to you. Hey! what importance has that which will be said and will be thought in a local press pensioned and passioned: the patriots' mission was for you, as it came to them from you. Your approbation consecrates their names, where they wish that their memory be dear and respected.
Of all those whom the passion of our adversaries has torn apart, no one had a better share of their furious declamation than me. I was neither more nor less at fault, neither more nor less deserving than a great number of my colleagues, but their kind indulgence having for a long time and often carried me to the most honorable position in the country, the chair by means of election on the country's elite, I was more than the others in display before the eyes of political friends and enemies. Individual enemies I have not had many, I believe, since voluntarily, I never harmed nor gave offense to any individual as such. But no animosity is more virulent, especially among men who have more stomach than head, than that which results from political divergence, and I had walked to the polar opposite of the station in where most Tories take their root. I had walked this half-circumference of our political world in great company. To all of us, insults and violence were not spared. But the reward is greater even than was the violence. The people reelected, everywhere they consented to it, those who were proclaimed to be proscribed. That is how the people answered to the triumphant songs of their oppressors.
Since my return I have said, when sometimes I was proposed to resume my public life, that at my age, after my past services, after long and painful agitations and thirty years of work and anxieties, I believed I had a right to my retirement; that it was the turn of a younger generation to continue the endeavour that we had started; that the homeland has at all times the right to the services of her children, but that she should be equalizing the burden; that others could do as well as I did, because the country had day after day a greater number of enlightened and devoted patriots, and better even since my return could resurrect among our antagonists badly appeased angers, and also because of the zeal of the founders of our colleges, education was more general and stronger today than it was when I entered the career which an educated and patriotic youth must now take up.
Despite these sincere protestations, the two most populated rural counties of the districts of Montréal and Trois-Rivières wish to call me to the honour of representing them. Oh! the Canadiens are grateful of the good that we wanted but were not able to procure them, to this degree that they have the rights to and will obtain the services at all cost from those they will request it from. It is permitted to no one who knows how to appreciate the character of a people as virtuous and as suffering, to not yield to their demands, if we only have personal considerations to present them. Therefore it is not on my love of repose that I rely upon to tell the electors of these two great counties that I wish not to enter Parliament. I do it by relying upon considerations of public interest which I expose in full and of which I will let you be the judges.
To the Electors of the County of Huntingdon
Gentlemen of the county of Huntingdon,
When a deputation of influential men from the County of Huntingdon — the first in the country as to population, and which is second to none in intelligence, in agricultural and industrial wealth, but especially in patriotic devotion, in sacrifices made, in sufferings endured, in ravages experienced, as much as in any other part of the Province, owing to its patriotic devotion — avails itself of the opportunity of the first election made since my return to the bosom of my country, after eight years of absence in a foreign land, to beg of me to become a candidate of the honour of representing them in Parliament, — when, in reply to my objections, they answer not only with arguments, by when they appeal to reminiscences, and sentiments the most touching — and when some of them say to me, "For the holy cause of the country, we have suffered in common; we in our families as you in yours; we have returned from exile, and from deportation to the Penal Colonies, where we have been ill treated; you were able to escape the vengeance of our persecutors, and our knowledge of that fact was a consolation for us in our sufferings; you were able to find a protecting asylum in the time of trouble in the classic land of liberty — the happy country which adjoins us, the the glorious and powerful confederation of the United States — and afterwards in that hospitable, polite, and learned land of our ancestors, 'La Belle France,' — the instructress for years of those European peoples which desire to follow in her steps in the path of liberty, progress, and the highest civilization. We, in the name of our past trials — as men who have abandoned none of our convictions — who abjure none of our former opinions — who believe you to be as unchanged as ourselves — we beg of you to consent to represent us. We know enough of the country to be able to assure you that we express its unanimous wishes; and that we shall bring joy to it, if we carry with us your acceptance."
To give a refusal founded on personal considerations, upon the love of repose after long years of agitation, would be a disgrace and a meanness of which I shall not be guilty. Should I give such a refusal, it will only be after full consideration of the good that may result from my election or retirement. I incline to believe that at the present moment — I do not say always — my retirement will be the most advisable step. I owe it to your kindness — to my former position — not to withdraw without strong reasons for doing so; and I am compelled by your sollicitude to make them public, and to allow you to judge of them.
How has the confidence with which you honour me been inspired? It can only have been by your observation of my public life during thirty years — during a struggle almost incessant, energetic, but conscientious, against a bad Government; but much less guilty then than it has become since.
That bad government is not, in my opinion, that of the Murrays, Haldimands, Craigs, Dalhousies, Colbornes, Thomsons, and others, under which we and our associates have successively suffered; — it is that of England, which has selected, approved, recompensed, those men for their acts of tyranny and violence towards the Colonies, from which it is natural to conclude that they have been docile in following their instructions; — it is that of England, which has censured the Prevosts, Sherbrookes, Kempts, and Bagots, who endeavoured slightly to ameliorate the rigour of their instructions, through a desire to be moderately just towards us.
That this Government was a bad one is no longer a disputed question. The problem was first solved by the complaints of the people, and since by the denunciations full of bitterness as of truth which the representatives of royalty have fulminated against the system of which we complain. The report of Lord Durham, the correspondence of Lord Sydenham, in those parts in which they examine the conduct and opposing pretensions of the Executive and of the representative bodies in the two Canadas contain a condemnation against all the administrations subsequent to the introduction of the representative system as formal as the most zealous patriots had ever expressed. It was Lord Sydenham who said:
"When I look at what the government and the administration of the Province has been, my only astonishment is that they should have endured it so long. For my own part, strong as is my antipathy to Yankee domination and rule, I would never have combatted against them as thousands of poor devils have done, whom the Family Compact never cease to call rebels, in order to preserve such a government as they have."
The noble writer, partial to the aristocracy which had showered upon him wealth and honors, hostile and prejudiced against the wise institutions of the United States, the most perfect with which, up to this time, humanity has been gifted, says here with more authority than any colonist had ever done, that the government attacked did not deserve to be defended. Is there then a wide difference between the government which being attacked does not deserve that it should be defended by force of arms, and that which deserves that arms should be taken up to overthrow it? The writer in question has not endeavoured to establish such a distinction. Had he made the attempt, it would have been doubtless so fine drawn, that it would have eluded the observation of many clever men.
That we have lived under a wretched regime is abundantly admitted and proved. It is for those who cannot escape from the consequences which flow from their admissions to show that the new order of things is better than the old one — that the reforms which they have indicated were sincere and sufficient — that responsible Government such as has been practiced has not been a word thrown out at random, a vain theory nullified by the practice, and explanations of Lords Russell, Syndeham, and Metcalfe, that the Act of Union accompanied by this concession, has been given in order that popular influence should be efficiently respected by Governors. For myself I believe nothing of the kind. If I believed in the liberal dispositions of the men who passed the Act of Union of the Canadas, I could be tempted to accede to your wish that I should re-enter public life in spite of the fatigues, the disgusts, the persecutions that all the representatives who have defended with integrity your rights and your interests have experienced, because then I would admit that they could permit to the Provincial Parliament a Legislature in conformity with your wishes, in conformity with the great voice of the majority, and that the prospects of being able to aid in doing good to the dear country of our birth, would outweigh the reluctance which every man must have who has no other ambition than the public good, in assuming the moral responsibility which weighs upon those colonial representatives who, with influence to make their opinions felt, love the country of their birth or adoption and its liberties more than they love a distant metropolis with its monopolies, its privileges, and its partialities.
Lord Russell, who caused the Union Act to be passed, had no intention of giving us a better Government than that which he suppressed. It was not by a palpable injustice that it was desired to prepare a future of justice, conciliation, and contentment. The official documents placed before the eyes, and loading the tables of Parliament, established that in Lower Canada the proportion of those opposed to that scheme was in nine to one. The Act was nevertheless imposed upon us by coercion. Such a flagrant contempt for the known and expressed feelings of the people is overturning the first principle of all political morality. It declares as null and contemptible the words "rights of colonies" in the days of their weakness. Inside and outside these Provinces there is not one colonist, if he respects himself and his own dignity, as a man and a citizen, who does not feel that he is wronged — that his whole social existence is precarious and degrading when it depends on transatlantic legislation, deaf to the almost unanimous representations of interested parties settled in Canada, not one of whom but should stamp himself a malcontent for as long as this unjust aggression continues. If he must obey a bad law to avoid punishment, at least let him not love the authority which imposes it, nor keep a disgraceful silence. Everything must be said and done which is legally possible to cause it to be abrogated.
Before the Act of Union there was a strong public opinion. General elections caused no worry as to their results. The popular party was assured of coming out of each of those struggles better united and more numerous. The proud attitude that the representative body maintained towards the Executive, and the independence of the Parliamentary debates, prepared the people not only of this but also of the neighboring Provinces, to catch a glimpse, in a future indeterminate but certain, of a day of full liberty which will shine upon each portion of the American Continent.
Before the constitutions of these colonies had been destroyed by the power of the bayonet, and the intervention of a Parliament beyond the seas against those of Canadas, their people were strong, represented latterly in one of the Provinces by eighty-eight representatives, in the other by sixty odd. If it had been honestly intended to concede, with the Act of Union, true Responsible Government, they would have respected acquired rights, left to each Province its representation too numerous then to be easily intimidated or bought. But the reduction of members — the crafty and artificial arrangement of the representation proves to every one not wishing to shut his eyes to the light, nor his understanding to the evidence, what has been the Machiavelism of Ministers who, while conceding in theory, power to the representatives of the people, contrived such resources that the Governors, their agents, had opportunities of corruption at its source part of the representation in the seven little boroughs or towns of Upper Canada, and in many counties of the United Province, where a very small population of newly arrived colonists, debtors to the Crown, having as yet no local affection, are quite predisposed to sustain blindly the pretensions of each Governor, whatever he may be, thus exciting among them the desire to govern according to their own personal views or those of secret and irresponsible favorites, — a desired which could not have been excited if the only rational system of proportioning after each census the representation to the population had been established.
But if it be objected — Why demand what will be refused? — Why? because the demand is just, — why? because it will be refused, and such prolonged refusal will establish the bad faith with which Responsible Government has been conceded, which means, if it be not a snare and a deception, that England has removed all future interference in our legislation — that it has no predilection, no antipathy for any political system that the majorities may wish to impose on themselves on those if its colonies to which it has made the concession.
All that I demanded in the House in 1836, with so large a majority of my colleagues, supported as we were by an equal proportion in the mass of the population, I demand again in 1847, and believe that it is impossible there can be contentment as long as these just demands shall be unsatisfied. By some of them we claimed an absolute controul, by the representatives, over all duties levied in the Provinces. It was, of all the rights appertaining to the Colonies, the most firmly established by the authority of jurists, as well as by colonial history. The Union has taken it from us.
Why, then, delay to complain of the Union? It was desired that the same body should have an efficient controul over the public functionaries, by the establishment of an independent tribunal, with power to judge them, punish them, dismiss them, in all cases of incapacity, abuse of power, prevarications, proved against any of them, and for the reason that the authority which had partially chosen an accused functionary could not impartially chose his judges, it was desired that they should be elective. To establish the permanency of judges, without by the same act creating a tribunal competent to punish them in proved cases of misconduct, is to deprive the country of the last feeble, insufficient protection left to it by the right of the Executive to displace them when the excess of their wrongs shall have been sufficiently established by the representatives! In the election of the second chamber, which would have constituted this tribunal, a principle of harmony with the representative branch would have been found which would have caused to cease the perpetual scandal which has constantly existed between that which was named by and for the country, and that which was named by and for England, to which alone belongs the honor or disgrace of what Legislative Councils have been.
That these advantages, and many others which are indispensable to the well-being of society — such as the independence of Sheriffs to assure that of juries — have not been more easily obtained after than before the Union and the pretended concession of Responsible Government, causes me no surprise, and I reproach no one on that account. England does not yet wish to give them to us, and the country is garrisoned so that it cannot take them. But if they are never asked for, they will never be offered. We must conquer by one refusal, two refusals, until those at a distance shall blush for refusing justice to us so long. Bodies are only respected inasmuch as they are consistent and persevering. A people, or its representatives, cannot be too calm, or too cautious in their deliberations, nor too inflexible in their determinations. Hesitate before resolving; after having done so, persist.
The repeal of the Act of Union must be demanded because it is the wish of the people, declared in their petitions of 1822 and 1836 — because, apart from the injustice of its provisions, its principle is stupidly vicious in placing under Legislature a territory so vast, that it cannot be sufficiently well known for the representatives to decide advisedly as to the relative importance of local improvements demanded on all hands, and the contradictory allegations of the people on a great variety of measures. And yet in new countries, whose wants spread and vary with rapid increase of the population and of the clearances, the mass of the parliamentary labours relate to measures of detail which require a profound knowledge of the wants and of the resources of all their localities. Besides, since the Union, men the most enlightened, the most worthy of the title and of the functions of legislators, have almost invariably abstained from voting with those of Lower Canada on questions relating to Upper Canada, and vice versa. This is just, and proves the folly of the Legislative Union. But what is just to honest and enlightened minds does not always appear so to narrow and egotistical minds; and it is too often found that men of inferior capacity, passionate and presumptuous, will pass laws for the sections of the United Province of which they know neither the anterior jurisprudence, nor the social condition, nor the actual wants. Moreover, the crude and precipitate legislation of late years, is a chaos without connection, without stability, varying from one session to another in sure at degree; that if this last continues with that of the slow distribution of the statutes, contempt of the law will become general, owing to the impossibility of reading it before it shall be changed. Since the Union, the representation is diminished nearly a half, while the taxes are more than doubled. Those who demanded it foretold a different result, saying it would give more strength and authority to the representation — would materially diminish the expenditure — and would thus relieve commerce from the weight of taxation which pressed on it. Have these prophets, whether deceivers or deceived, to applaud themselves for their sagacity? Is their commerce better encouraged? Is it much more brilliant under the protection of a tariff of ten to twenty per cent, than under one of two to ten per cent?
How is it then that an act which has done evil to everyone — to those who asked it, and those who repelled it — against which there is in Lower Canada a universal reprobation and dislike — how is it that it does not find on the floor of the Legislature, one voice, one single voice to echo the incessant complaints which are heard outside. It is because some men, in all other respects, of great merit — the liberals of Upper Canada, with whom those of Lower Canada must act in concert, reduced to despair by the injustice of the Tory faction, and of the family compact, were deceived, and demanded the intervention of the English Parliament in favor of this fatal Union; imagining that they might obtain it on equitable conditions, and that united to the patriots of Lower Canada, they would assure to the united Province a just and liberal Government, such as the divided Provinces had never known.
In the anguish of their sufferings they forgot the strict principle of morality — that of not doing to others what we would not wish done to ourselves. Contrary to our wishes, of which they were not ignorant, they demanded from a power whose intervention has never taken effect, except to diminish colonial liberties, that she would augment theirs. They have been deceived in their attempt. Their demands were taken as the authority for the intervention; but the prejudices of the English aristocracy were alone consulted on the narrow measure of restricted liberty which should be accorded. The old societies of Europe, harrassed by political monopolies in favour of a small number of privileged persons, surrounded by large numbers of parasites, have, no doubts, prejudices, have, perhaps, necessities for absolute or strong aristocratic governments. In young America, where entire populations may be proprietors, where entails have not established hereditary fortunes; but where each man begins his own, and ca with moderate labour secure a decent competence, there are the instincts and necessities of democratic institutions. From thence comes the warning, that we ought always to dread and never to demand the interference of the metropolis. The history of the thirteen revolved colonies afforded them, the clearest monitions on the danger of their conduct. — Nevertheless these persons, only, (never the Tories) will be able and desirous of aiding us to put an end to our common miseries, when they shall have become aware of the deception practiced against them. They believed in good faith that Responsible Government would afford all the advantages which we sought to attain by the demand of two elective Houses.
For this demand we had the example of some of the ancient colonies, of which the free and happy citizens never received a Governor from England, but always elected him, as well as the members of the two houses, the sheriffs, and the magistrates of every rank. In demanding an order of things which had once been, we knew what we were asking. In welcoming Responsible Government with so much eagerness, we were little acquainted with what we received. The colonists believed it was that full responsibility, which more than once, in England has forced the sovereign to receive for ministers, those whom in other times he had called his enemies, or with tears and despair had refused to receive as such. But the ministers quickly declared that in a colony this responsibility was not precisely the same as in the metropolis. They told us what it is not; but did not tell us what it is. It must, then, be an enigma, interpreted differently by he who offers, and by he who receives it: hence the fertile source of misunderstandings, complaints and recriminations, between the Governor and the representatives. For the electors throughout the country, it must be that which the House of Assembly defined it to be. During a too short interval, under Sir Charles Bagot, it worked happily; it has ceased to do so since. His successor immediately after his arrival, wrote, that there existed an antagonism between himself and his Ministers who possessed the support and confidence of a large number of the representatives. He had private confidents. Upon the advice of irresponsible Ministers, he disposed of employments, without consulting those who were responsible to the country for the choice. They felt that the interests of the colony were wounded by this conduct, and that it was unjust and offensive to themselves: they resigned. The House sanctioned them. That was the legitimate tribunal, which in the first instance, was competent to decide between them and him. He ought to have recalled them to their posts. He did not do so; but placed himself in collision with the House, and from that moment ceased to be fit to continue the administration of the country, which in the general election confirmed the vote of approbation, which their colleagues the ex-ministers had received. The country has not, and will not change its opinions. This is a warning which has hitherto been invariably given to every Governor, and must be continued. The representatives are the only authority in the country, of which the affections, the passions, the interests, if you will, are identical with those of the people. Sometimes, perhaps, in matters of small importance they may be deceived, since they are men; but they will doubtless be deceived less often than the other authorities who are also men — men much more interested in withdrawing themselves from the supervision and control of public opinion, than are the trustees who depend entirely upon public opinion and popular election. It is, then, a duty alike of prudence and gratitude, to rally in all eases, round the majority of the representatives.
On occasions of conflict there is much stronger probability of their being right, than that a Governor brought up in a different state of Society from our own, should be so. This reasonable presumption, that with respect to us, they are in error when they are at strife with our representatives, has become stronger since they came willingly upon a mission so unjust, as that of working a system, so inequitable in its principles and details as is the Act of Union. In your county then, as well as in all others throughout the country, it will be proper to support those candidates who are known to you, as having allied themselves to the Ministry, who strove with energy against the Governor Metcalfe, and against his unconstitutional practice of attempting to govern, by other advisers than those which the country gave him: It will be proper that you should force the same men back into power. If Responsible Government be a reality, the time is come when it may do more good than I hope from it, I who only regard it as a mockery. Those who believe in its sincerity, and therefore in its real importance, will have the opportunity they desired to advance the cause of reform. If the new Governor, by himself, or by the Legislative Council, of which he is still the master, shall seek to hinder liberal measures which may be proposed, they will be undeceived, a little later than myself, as to the values of the despatches of Lord John Russell, and they will then commence a more energetic agitation than has hitherto existed. In all that they have done in the Legislature, in the conditions which they have annexed to their return to the Ministry, in the noble disinterestedness with which they resigned their charges, I approve their conduct. I am surprised and afflicted by the moderation, which has prevented them from taking into consideration any of the measures that they approved in 1834, which has prevented them from ever agitating the repeal of the Union. They are constrained by the necessity of coaxing the liberals of Upper Canada, who cannot so easily discover that they are fallen into a fatal error, so long as they indulge the very slightest hope of advantageously working Responsible Government. Every division among liberals of whatever shade, ought to be studiously avoided, and it is on this account that I must hesitate to yield myself to your spontaneous invitation for my return to public life. Nothing can be more honorable to me than this step on your part; and I may add, that nothing can be more consoling after the inexhaustible chagrin, which we feel at the conflagration and devastation of so large a portion of the country, at the bloody executions, the exile, the deportation, the sufferings after illegal military sentences, of so great a number of the dearest and most respected of our fellow citizens, than this manifestation on your part, which proves that you remain the same men in politics as you were in 1834, and that you believe, that I remain the same I was on the day of our forced separation, unshaken in my attachment to the reforms which I then demanded, after thirty years of political study, carried on with all the assiduity of which I am capable.
I do not believe that any of those who voted with me, like me, freely and willingly, have ceased to regard that epoch as one of the most honorable of their public life, that they have repudiated any of the doctrines they professed, or that they have renounced any of the reforms they solicited. They would degrade themselves too much, if they attributed to the influence of any other man, be he who he may, any of the determinations which they came to, and which the majority of their countrymen approved. They have, perhaps, judged it prudent, to adjourn the consideration of the required reforms, from the fear of alienating from the good cause some members, and a great number of the fellow citizens, heretofore Tories, but since conscientiously passed into the reformist ranks — especially from the fear of wounding the liberal representatives of Upper Canada. But, doubtless, they cannot have renounced the hope of obtaining them, nor will they cease to demand the most ample reforms at the first moment they may judge favorable.
Everything that will give us these, under whatever political arrangement may exist, is good. Since the majority of the representatives wish to try again a combination, which has been for four years inefficacious, let us unite ourselves to that majority — let no dissension trouble the unity of their efforts. It is because, while I approve their actions and projected reforms, I cannot equally applaud their silence, that I declare to you honestly, that I believe it neither useful for you nor suitable for me, to return to public life, at a moment when a great number of these, who have followed it with courage and constancy, during eight years, during which a sojourn in a foreign land has separated me from it, think that they ought not yet to despair of the useful working of Responsible Government. May they not be mistaken. May they succeed: none will rejoice more sincerely than myself. They believe that the day is not come, when they ought to go back to 1836, and re-demand, from this day forth, the reforms, which we demanded them — I think that the day is come. By reason, only, of this diversity of opinion, I declare to you freely and sincerely my ideas. Not only do I not desire to enter public life, but I desire to remain out of it. I fear that I shall do no good there, when I differ on so important a point from those with whom I have long acted in concert, and whose devotion to their country I respect. They represent the true majority of the country: they represent the populous counties. I do not count the votes, I weigh them. The vote of the representative of a borough of four hundred souls, has for me but the hundredth part of the moral value of the vote of the representative of a county of forty thousand souls. The representation of all the populous counties then ought speedily to be augmented — at least the proposition should be made. It can only be for the purposes of intrigue and corruption that so striking a disproportion is preserved, between the representation, as that which exists between the localities, which differ in population as one hundred to one, yet who each elect a representative for the national council. Against this abuse, and so many others, which I have already signalized, it will be necessary, a little sooner or a littler later to protest. It is thought, contrary to my opinion, that it is too soon to do so, that the liberal ministry has not yet been long enough in power to attempt it, and that if it be carried again in power, by the result of the present elections it will obtain the correction of abuses, without agitation. It is then but justice, to give it the opportunity of proving that it is able, as it certainly is willing to do much good. To thrown me upon public life, notwithstanding the representations that I make to you, will, perhaps, be a mistake, which will cause the appearance of difference in the ranks of the Reformers.
Respect for you and for myself obliges me to give you the reasons of my refusal, to make them public, and to prevent it from being said that I am acting from egotism or indifference. It proceeds from the fact that I see little chance of promoting, at present, the public good in the manner which appears to me the most efficacious — by a strong opposition rather than by an administration, which will be restricted by instructions coming from England, if the custom, which used to be observed, be still maintained, of mingling in Colonial deliberations — by a strong opposition which should have for its avowed programme some important reforms, submitted to the consideration of the people, in the same manner as the resolutions voted by the Legislature in 1836, or such as the manifesto, which the Quebec Committee of Reform and Progress has just put forth.
Before the end of the next parliamentary session, the reasonable doubt, which may exist at present among many sincere friends of the country, as to whether the course which I prefer is the best, or the worst, will have been definitively decided. The probabilities that our political friends are about to find themselves stronger in the next Parliament that they were, in numbers, at the last is so great, that I see them in power and at work. If they succeed in doing the good which you, they, and I wish for, their course will be the best. If they do not so succeed, we shall be altogether, people and representatives, constituents and nominees; there will be nothing to do but to organize the most vigorous opposition possible, withing the limits of the law.
Do not conclude from the nature and length of this communication, that I regard nothing but political reforms and organic changes, in our faulty constitution — that I am indifferent to the material amelioration of the country, to the multiplication of canals, bridges, railroads, lighthouses and wharves. Every individual who invests capital in works of this kind, merits well of society, and ought to obtain easily from the legislature the laws necessary for the execution of their laudable enterprises; at the same time, however, that the community is protected against immoderate profits. Useful enterprizes which exceed the means of individuals, ought often to be encouraged by the state; but then with knowledge and conscience — integrity and science giving beforehand correct estimates of the nature and value of the works to be undertaken, in order that those which are most necessary should, have the preference. Every absorption of capital in a foolish enterprize represses those which are useful.
As to free trade, and the free navigation of the St. Lawrence, I wish for them, and will sustain them, with all my power. A disciple of the school of Adam Smith from my earliest youth — and at all times the enemy of every political or commercial monopoly or privilege, I do not desire that any industry, or any class of citizens should be surcharged, for the profit of other classes and other industries. The imposts ought to be the minimum of that which it is necessary to receive from each citizen in proportion to his fortune and his expenditure, in order to provide for the just expenses of an economical and well managed government.
I have spoken of constitutional reforms with more of detail and ardour than of material improvements, because they are of a higher order — because it is necessary to have free institutions, well calculated to protect the property of each individual, in order to make all love that labor which renders nations more moral and more rich, and gives them the means of multiplying their material improvements, as is proved by their prodigiously rapid development amongst our active and industrious neighbors — lastly because others do not speak to you enough about them; because, also, material improvements belong to the order of the day, for there is no disagreement as to their powerful efficacy in promoting the well-being of those societies which facilitate them.
Lastly, I will conclude by communicating with you, on a subject, which in importance yields to none of those already treated of — that of popular education, and of the most general character which may be possible. In the advanced state of modern civilization the priest, the judge, and the schoolmaster, are the functionaries, who contribute the best, the most and at the least expense, to the maintenance of order in society, which day by day, in proportion as instruction is extended, is more easy to be governed by reason, more difficult to be governed by brutal and armed force. The more you pay schoolmasters, the less you pay policemen and soldiers; and in the civil service of the state you will have more enlightened functionaries, at less cost, in proportion to the increased number whom education shall qualify. Competition will reduce salaries. Cheap Government can only be had where there are plenty of good schoolmasters. There is no money better distributed as that thus usefully spent to avoid useless expenses.
You do not doubt that a rich man who sees a poor one suffering from hunger, is obliged to give him the nourishment which may allay his sufferings. But the mind, as the body, has its necessities. The duties of humanity are badly fulfilled, if the wants of the body only are supplied, without any aid being given to those of the mind. Oh! may those who make the mistake, of being indifferent to general instruction, give themselves the pleasure of a journey to the United States to see how much more at their ease the farmers are over there than over here — on how many bad lands they reap more than we do on our good ones — why their poor lands sell for then times as much as our rich ones. They will receive a uniform answer: we owe it to our good government, and our good schools. They will return from their trip changed and convinced; ardent friends of good schools and good government.
I am, Gentlemen, with profound respect, Your obedient servant, L. J. Papineau.
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