System of Government for Canada
This is a translated excerpt of the Épitre aux Canadiens (Epistle to the Canadiens), central piece of the collection of letters entitled Appel à la justice de l'État (Appeal to the Justice of the State) by Pierre du Calvet, published in London in 1784. You can read the original French language edition here.
The bill of Quebec grants you French jurisprudence, under which you were born; it is indeed the judicature which best tallies your properties and your tastes; but to crown this assortment of laws, it is necessary that they be administered under the auspices of the famous and beneficial constitution of England: Paris will judge your heritages, but London will govern your persons. In this economy, your happiness will be accomplished in all aspects.
Here is the first stone upon which the new building of your government must rest. But here, Messieurs, let us not be easily deceived by ignorance of the constitutional genius of our adoptive fatherland; it is the letter, and the sole content of the letter, which, in English legislature, has all the force, all the authority of the law: the derived consequences, the suggested interpretations, all this beautiful apparatus, which one calls the spirit of laws, are the most beautiful displays in the world in dialectics and in logic; but in the laws of England, in terms of validity, they are nothing; all explanations are but arbitrary interpretations by the individuals: the English are not so foolish as to bend their freedom under the arbitration of some private individuals; it is the law, and the law alone, speaking and pronouncing by itself, which governs them: let us respect this way of reasoning with regards to government; it has been the rule of all free peoples; in the beautiful days of its glory and its virtue, Rome did not know any other. Let us remember here, that one formless and faulty understanding of the term lois françaises, has cost us ten years of the most crucifying servitude; we must be tired of pouring tears of blood. The first amendment to the bill of Quebec which we must request from the benevolence of the British Senate, is an authentic and resounding declaration that it is...
- 1 First article of the reform
- 2 Second article of the reform
- 3 Third article of the reform
- 4 Fourth article of the reform
- 5 Fifth article of the reform
- 6 Six article of the reform
- 7 Seventh article of the reform
- 8 Eighth article of the reform
- 9 Ninth article of the reform
- 10 Tenth article of the reform
- 11 Eleventh article of the reform
- 12 Twelfth article of the reform
- 13 Conclusion
- 14 Author's notes
- 15 Translator's notes
First article of the reform
French jurisprudence, which is granted to us as a legislative donation, but under the immediate and sole direction of the constitution of England relative to our persons.
Here is the first stone of our new government; but as the various parts of the reform are intended to be used as material for drafting the petitions that you owe to yourselves, and to your children, for the sovereign and the Parliament, I will always assign them, by precaution, an isolated and worthy place, so that with one glance, the eye may locate them easily.
Second article of the reform
The reestablishment of the law of Habeas Corpus; trials by jury, and from the powers of the governor, the subtraction [of the ability] to arbitrarily dispose of the members of the Legislative Council, the Chief Justice, the subordinate judges, and even the simple legal professionals, finally to imprison the subjects on his personal authority, and on his own procedures; here are the first and most invaluable emanations of the constitution of England that we have to reclaim for the civil resurrection of the province.(1)a small writing attached to this essay; it is the works of the baron Maseres' patriotism, whose brightest of service had him be proclaimed, in London, the benefactor and the friend of the province of Quebec: this worthy patriot shone there [in Quebec] only for a flash, in the position of Attorney General, [a position] which he held but for a short time. The superiority of his lights, the extent of his knowledge, the integrity of his administration, the generosity of his disinterestedness, the most pleasant virtues in society, in the commerce of civil life, in a word, all this assembly of qualities which can make the public figure and the private individual respectable, granted him the votes of respect, recognition, and friendship: returned to London in his homeland, he devoted the long course of his days to build, of theory, the happiness of the province of Quebec; he devoted considerable sums to such a beautiful end, without ever collecting for himself anything other than the glory of being useful to you. It is to this beneficial goal that he directed his efforts and employed his powerful protections, on which his merit and his rank (one of the first on the chess-board) give him all kinds of rights to count on. His writings are the delights of people of the mind, those patriots especially who are concerned for our unfortunate province of Quebec. Lastly, to crown all these traits, the quality of Canadien is to him a title, for all those who bare it, to be ensured of his service: I can attest of honour, that at this very moment when I write, he cannot even suspect that his name could be mentioned in this essay; his modesty would be alarmed by it; but my recognition, and that of my fellow-citizens, owed to so much virtue and service this little testimony, as simple as it is sincere in its simplicity. Guided by this untiring zeal for your interests, Mr. Maseres, on March 13, 1784, assembled at his place Messieurs Powell, Adhemar, and de Lisle, your deputies, and with the openness of pure patriotism and honesty, he communicated(2) them in substance the five articles which, by their importance, give such weight to the preceding paragraph: the communication was received by a general applause; I was present, and I shared the pleasure of the concert of the decision, which can only be yours today, expressed by the means of your choice. Whatever the nature of the petitions which your wisdom will one day consider it a duty to prepare, whatever the success that must finally crown them, if there still remains in us some spark of love for our freedom, if some movement still animates us for the happiness of our posterity, we must make it a law to never grow tired of our supplications at the throne, until the legislature has sealed in an irrevocable sanction, in our favour, these first flows of the constitution of England, on which our civil existence and that of our children after us depend.
This sole sample of the constitutional freedom of England would at least bring you closer to the felicity of the freest peoples, if a too miserly economy were ever to suddenly limit you in the acquisition of the remainder of your citizens' prerogatives. Your fortunes would flower under the shade of safety, under the safeguard of the just protection of your peers; your persons would be trialled but in the courts of justice, in the sole name of the law which could call you there; the power of the governor would be pruned of the most voracious branches of his theoretical despotism: it is true that he would be left with enough branches to deploy and activate it; there is only the responsibility of his person before the laws of the province, which can, if not crown it all, at least make the safety of your national emancipation progress. Eh, what! A king of England would be in London but the first subject of the law, and this subordination is the most beautiful floret of his crown, and the most shiny privilege of his glory! All the governors of the English colonies would be dependent, as ordinary debtors, as simple subjects, of the respective laws their provinces; a governor of Jamaica would have recently seen his goods seized, exploited and auctioned, under the terms of a sentence of the colony's judicature which condemned him; but the governor of Quebec, in all the extent of the British empire, would be invested of the right to step on these laws, which bind us all, and as a privileged being, and above the remainder of men, his person would alone be free from them! But would this then be an obvious plot woven of malignant theory to invite him to violate these laws at the favour of his immunity? And such an oppressive system is reserved for Quebec only! In addition to the tyranny itself, the distinction is furiously odious; undoubtedly, we were scorned as the trash of human nature, since one had a plan of oppression made just for us. Let us call, Messieurs, upon our judgement; let us not cease to speak and plead in our favour, the laws of justice, and the rights of humanity, until the legislature has solemnly pronounced:
Third article of the reform
The person of the governor of Quebec is justiciable to the laws of the province.
When laws can be avenged, it is then that they are respected: without this revenge, they must fall in discredit and opprobrium: but it is time, Messieurs, to come to the branded item, the glaring piece, that must almost complete the philosopher's stone of your freedom, and to give to your new government a consistency which despotism, after that, would vainly conspire to shake. To lay your provincial felicity on such a solid and durable foundation, there must be between the governor and the peoples, a mediate body, furnished with enough provincial consequence to always be able to balance, moderate, restrain even, the power of the first in the various degrees of his exertion on the last. Today, what is each citizen? A simple individual, isolated, reduced, by a government, to himself, and his unity of inconsequent individuality. And what is the governor by the very content of his royal patent? A public figure, supported by all the prerogatives of the crown, amplified and outraged even, since he is in fact armed with the arbitrary power of the most ambitious despotism; he crushes us of the sole weight of his gigantic double power balanced by no counterweight in our favour. Eh, wait! we had and we still have to expect it, for as long as, in a conflict with him, a citizen will offer himself with such a monstrous disparity of advantages and force; but reinforce the inequality of the weapons of the weak and badly equipped combatant; wrap him with all the authority, all the protection, of a legislative and public body, which representing all the individuals of the province, is for this reason responsible to take care of the observance of the laws, under which the authority of even the governor himself is forced to bend; then any individual oppression coming from the governor will cease, because by attacking the individuals, he would arm against him the whole of the protective body, of which he depends. Here is, Messieurs, presented in its more beautiful attributes...
Fourth article of the reform
The institution of the Assembly.
I am not unaware, Messieurs, that a masked despotism took the initiative here, and conspired to arm you, beforehand, with indifference, dislike, alienation even, against an institution, only made to foster, of theoretical and practical policy, the national happiness of a province far away from its primitive authority. This despotism projected to fix its empire among you; its began by getting you to worry over an institution which is its enemy and is well devised to put it down: the strategy was not badly crafted to perpetuate its triumph; but reason educated at the school of a sad and unhappy experiment comes back from afar; and it is a triumph so worthy of any thinking being, that I promise myself of your uprightness and of your lights after a mature consideration of reality. On what grounds could the institution of an assembly, i.e., of a legislative body, gathering in its centre all your representatives, i.e. consisting of your most famous and most virtuous fellow-citizens, become unfavourable to your interests, and deserve, of start, your reprobation? I hear you; it is that this body of the new legislature would be authorized to tax the province, and to oppress it under the weight of taxes.
Here is, I know, this great scarecrow, which was generally used to startle your minds against the erection of an assembly; but first, Messieurs, (it is to your good faith to which I speak here) eh! which people in the universe is not subordinated to taxation? Can the State take care of the various phases of its conservation, its defence from the outside, and the economy of good order inside, without the mediation of administrators and agents, whose services it is necessary to pay and reward? And isn't it up to the citizens to support, by themselves, the expenses and expenditure which are all for them and their own needs? But don't you live today under an actual state of taxation? Eh, what are these import duties, which are imposed on all the imported food products which raise so tremendously their prices? It is in truth the chief merchant who pays, by preliminary provision, the tax, but of course you will pay it again of your own pockets with usury: the tax, although only mediate, is not less effective and affective relative to you. But did you never read, with much attention, the last statutes of the legislature, which constitutionally supplemented the power of your legislative body, and armed it de pied en cap to tax you? This body, in its present formation and constitution, is but a reserve corp all to the governor, and for the governor, who, having in his sole hands the arbitrary right to break or preserve its members, disposes of their suffrage as a sovereign; the governor, in the current shape of your government, is thus entitled to tax you, at least mediately; a miserable distinction, which does not increase your rights for as much, while not sparing your purses any more: and you are not startled by such a taxer, with so many rights, of which he would be armed to frighten you!
But here is a quite glorious circumstance, which would well differentiate the tax to your advantage, if it were statued by an assembly made out of your representatives; it would then be you who would have the pleasure and glory to be in person your own taxers: moreover, these representatives, subordinated themselves to their own injunctions, would be informed by their own interests not to overload you of a weight, which, as a necessary repercussion, would reflect on them too; their authority would even extend to the application of these taxes, to the nature, real or supposed, of the public needs, which would give rise to these taxes. So many positions fraudulently piled up on the same heads, to the degradation of these same offices, and to the ruin of the public! so many purely nominal services, but so truly paid, in spite of their simple nominality! so many frivolous, extortional, even cruel expenditures, advanced by the State, and that raise the receipt so extremely above the product of the colony! Under an assembly which would pass everything under review, the hand of the reforming economy would soon castrate these plunders of greed, as much for the relief of the State as for your own.
And these corvée, ah! do you think that a vigilant and human assembly would let them persist at the despotic level of today, i.e., without any real need for it, without any choice, without any moderation, without any reasonable allowance especially, and sufficient compensation, to the ruin of so many unfortunate farmers? But I return to the principle from which I started, because it is decisive and without appeal: the sovereignty of the State, i.e., the primitive and head justice of the colony, resides in the centre of England; it is to this court of supremacy that by right all litigations between the governor and the subjects belong: there is only a public body, such as a provincial assembly, that is continually on the way to cross, without obstacle, with success, and à point nommé, the distance which separates the province and this supreme court; it is however of this fortunately crossed passage, that must rebound the revenge and the safety of the oppressed individuals of the province: it is thus necessary, either to give a hand to the perpetual oppression of these unhappy individuals, or to raise in their favour this body of public guards, which alone can have hands long enough to reach so far a distance, and to victoriously call on the remedy for it. You are wise, Messieurs, the solidity of these reflexions could not have escaped your lights; but it is a fact that the nature of the body of assembly which up until now some talked about placing at the head of province's legislature offended you; it injured your delicacy, and obviously affected your rights (3).
They were Protestant-only assemblies, which were conceived from a short-sighted plan; we are no longer talking about such a small plan. Today, everyone in England agrees not to dispute your national prerogatives; your citizens rights are generally recognized; the law of nations gives it to you; England, under its virtuous constitution, does not know how to make violence to the law of nations: under this new constitutional aspect, there is no longer in Canada but one class of colonists, i.e., the subject-citizens, all submitted to the same Master, and united by interests: it is this sole title of subject-citizens which must decide the radical eligibility of the members of the new assembly; and it is based on this generic plan of electoral economy, that you should request its institution to the legislative power. It would be yourselves who would constitute the body of voters; you would be the supreme directors of the quality of the happy candidates to the elections. Canada, counts in its midst 125 parishes: each lord would be entitled to vote by birth to form the Upper House of the assembly, each parish would elect two members, taken indifferently from the various classes of citizens, according to whether it would please the body of voters to choose them: this last body, more numerous, would constitute the Lower House. This economy directing the shape of your assembly would not be without resembling the external decoration of the Parliament of England: by bringing you so close to the government of the capital, you would only perceive a more considerable portion of the constitutional happiness which she enjoys in substance and in mass.
The glory of such a clever plan is not for me; it is wholly due to Mr. the Baron Maseres, who, always focused on the consideration of your needs, always devoted to make them cease by effective remedies, had already crayoned its sketch during the course of his works, which deserved him, on this point in particular, but applause and general approval. He had drawn its model from the most beautiful constitutions of the colonies, the most wisely administered; for it is relevant to have you remark here, Messieurs, that Canada is the only colony of the British empire that is not decorated with the institution of an assembly, to govern it; Grenada even, which contains in its midst but a handful of French people, your old like your new compatriots, taste, almost since the Conquest, the delicious fruits of such an advantageous government. I cannot retrace you here the faithful image of extactic joy with which her children saw themselves, after the peace, given back to themselves, turned into their own taxers, their own legislators, I almost said their own sovereigns and their own kings, with the opening of their first assembly. The hearts of the Canadiens are made for great things; they know how to see them, and feel them; it is of these noble feelings, that I await the wisdom of your choice: thus we will not groan for a long time at the sight of a Canada degraded by these odious distinctions, which up until now have spoiled its glory as much as it disfigured its happiness; we will be thus, finally, be an English people, that is to say a free and happy people.
Uncertain however of the nature of your choice, I cannot put the final touch to such an important arrangement, without nuancing for you here, at any event, another plan of government, which without the erection of a house of assembly, embraces all the advantages, all these invaluable fruits of provincial administration, of which I just showed you the price: it is...
Fifth article of the reform
The appointment of six members, to represent Canada in the British Senate; three for the district of Quebec, and three for the district of Montreal.
Do not precipitate your judgement, until I had time to present you this new plan, with all its features, and in its entirety. I am not unaware that opulence, distributed by luck of a miserly hand, even in the first classes of our citizens of Canada, would not put at our disposal subjects who would be able to represent, with glare and external dignity, a province such as ours, in the British Senate. It would consequently be necessary to elevate their impotence with funds taken from their constituents, and to compensate the expenses of their pump and external decoration by stakes levied on all the classes of citizens. Thus our nobility would shine at the expense of the commoners, i.e. from loans taken from our poor farmers and those other citizens who are as useful as they are industrious: it would not be worth the effort for them to buy so expensively such a parliamentary promotion, which would degenerate into real public offices for the province. These are not the unpopular views which motivated me in preparing the all popular plan that I here submit to your deliberations. No; but while waiting for the revolution of times prepared and brought forward by the administrative wisdom of England, that Canada sees, in its midst, running with more abundance, the torrent of richnesses, and growing, by the increase in the circulation of gold, the fortunes of his children, it is in England, our national metropolis, that we would go to seek six gentlemen of fortune, and patriotic virtue, who could and would want to make us the honour to represent us in Parliament, i.e. to take care of our interests from there, and to prepare us, by their protection, an illustrious defence against the despotism, which, twelve hundred leagues away from the eyes of the sovereign and the senate, could very well decide to declare war on us, and to strike us of its blows of violence and cruelty.
This defence preparation, in our favour, would by itself be enough to choke in principle the occasion and the need for it. A governor, who would know that, in London, we can count on representatives in the senate to defend our rights, would hardly be tempted to attack them, i.e. to fight against stronger than himself. In the remainder, the elections in England cost nothing to the interested parties; over there, the famous bill of Mr. Grenville decided, for eternity, on the generosity, the disinterestedness, the nobility of sentiment, in one word the virtue, of the voters and the candidates. These last ones would redden not to owe their election exclusively to themselves and their own merit; therefore, they are wary no to corrupt and buy the votes out, which being always free are delivered for nothing: candidates having, of constitution, nothing to offer, the voters, also animated by such a noble spirit, have, neither in inclination nor in fact, nothing to accept; and of 548 members who sit in the name of the various electoral divisions of England, not one senator who has spent a penny for his senatorial place. What a wonder of honesty! The name of Mr. Grenville, author of such a famous and so general and virtuous revolution of the hearts, deserves to be inscribed with a distinction and a special glory, in the record of the apostles, the most famous converter of the universe. At all events, if twelve hundred leagues away from England Mr. Greenville's famous bill on the incorruptibility of elections, were to, on such a long road, lose a little of its energy, thousands of these so miserly candidates in England, in the days of their elections, would be furiously tempted to open, with full declads, their well furnished purses for you, to buy at all costs the honour of your votes; but born in the middle of wind gusts and storms, English virtue can support itself on the crossing of the seas. At least your elections would cost you nothing but a little time, wasted initially perhaps, but which would soon pay off with usury; because these happy candidates, honoured by your choice, and once elected turned into your representatives, would be strengthened by recognition and honour as so many public guards and friends, who, enlightened by your instructions, would find personal and national glory in espousing haut la main your interests, and in eloquently pleading your cause by the throne and the senate. In the shade of such a respectable protection, you would become respectable and frightening even for your governors, who would then hardly have the ideas turned towards oppression, when they would know that, to oppress you successfully and with impunity, they would have all the might of parliamentary authority to vanquish and overcome: you would be then too strong to fall victim of their weakness.Haldimand another Chevalier de Savile, alas! unfortunately for you and me, recently taken away from the glory and the virtue of the nation, in the midst of which his memory will never die. In the remainder, Messieurs, may the modesty of your sentiments not impose itself on the timidity your claims; perhaps a sad experiment had taught England that the wisest policy, to bind itself to the remote colonists, dictates their incorporatation in the assembly which represents the whole body of the nation, to simplify the empire, and to put it, by this incorporation in a unity of government, which is the mother of solidity and consistency.
At least your entry in the senate (if it were ever a question of it) would not degrade (4) the very majesty of the senate itself: Frenchmen have in the past illustrated, by their presence, the majesty of this august assembly: Calais, the small town of Calais, once appointed two members of Parliament, and these foreigners, (if however subjects, subjects indeed, can be foreigners in the States of their legitimate sovereign) these foreigners, say I, admitted, by introducing their virtues there, did but add gloss and glare to this famous body: History, written by a cosmopolitan mind, still speaks with praise of their services. You should note here, Messieurs, that the royal introducer, who believed it his duty, in justice for his French subjects on the continent, to introduce them in the British senate, was a despot, (Henri VIII) who, on his deathbed, prided himself with having never spared, during his reign, neither a man in his anger, nor a woman in his debauchery. What shouldn't we hope for from a sovereign who today makes the procession of all virtues reign on the throne of England? The most singular thing about this parliamentary admission of the French, is that under Edward VI, the reign of the Reform was established in England: the Calesians did not adopt it; yet their members were not expelled from their senatorial seats for that: thus one did not believe that there was a constitutional incompatibility between parliamentary dignity and non-reformation. How many reflexions to be made here! But me, I am Protestant; we must leave something to say, and especially to do for our Roman Catholics in Canada.
But in case you were not favourable to the combining of your representation in Parliament to the institution of an assembly, (two quite miscible establishments however, and quite necessary to your happiness) it would then be necessary to go back to the principles that we already defined; because, when it is the hand of reflexion (a happy reflexion) that chose them, their force and their solidity are set to subsist; these six members of Parliament would form but one body, twelve hundred leagues away from you; oppression could quietly devise to strike you with unexpected blows; and oppression, in exertion and in office, is always too long; the body which you qualify today (a little too liberally perhaps) of the sublime name of "Legislative Body", could become the "Body of your Mediators", by doubling their number up to 46. Their multiplication would bristle up the difficulty of their total corruption: but a just and wise economy should rule the terms of this increase. Their fee is [presently] set at 100 pounds sterling; reduce it in half, it would be enough, if it were honour and virtue that were to lead these legislators; and it would be too much, if a noble motive entered in the administration of their dignity.
In the remainder, the safety of the province would enjoy a more inviolable shelter, if we invested the Canadiens of the right to elect annually at least half of the 46 members of the legislative body, which, under this elective face, would offer, in spite of its mixity, at least a sample of the representation of the whole country: in this way its deliberations, brought at the feet of the throne, would announce the feelings of all of Canada, while, in the current shape of our provincial government, the ministry of England is deprived of any fixed point, of any similar pledge, to be assured of it; as such does we see him wander, on such an important article, alas, too much! à l'aventure, in the vague darkness of uncertainty and error; because our legislative body is not today dependent of any relation to the body of its citizens; insulated and concentrated in itself, it represents but its own members; if it were to claim to be speaking in the name of the generality, it would be a bold, insolent, usurper of public rights, to which one would be authorized to solemnly give the denial. Lastly, these annual elections would fix the elected legislators in the sphere of duty and fidelity toward their constituents, to whom they would depend upon for their renomination. The same yearly recurrence of election should mark the choice of the six members of Parliament, which should take place in September, to arrive in time for the usual opening of the Parliament in November. It would be to this senate to rule on the nature of the oath to administer to these senators of new creation. I have discussed at large these parts of the reform, which alone can give stability to a government made for your happiness; the other isolated and detached points require less comments; I am only making them ostensible by assigning them in paragraphs.
Six article of the reform
Religion.Savoy to beg and buy up a couple of priests there, to lend them to Canada? And it is our ministers who undertook to conclude this admirable bargain! Eh, but! it is to the vicar-generals, it is to the ecclesiastical leader of the diocese to provide his flocks with a sufficient recruit of Church ministers, his responsibility commands that he be the one doing this. But State leaders! Are they made to be parish administrators? One would soon lower them to make churchwardens out of them; greater responsibilities call them elsewhere; what narrow mindedness, but the more out of place here, that it seems that by doing this the government of England was startled and took offence of a handful of priests, who isolated all by themselves, and dispersed in the parishes of Canada, helpless, without external supports, can have no influence on politics, and are fortunately reduced out of necessity to the role which the holiness of their state prescribes them; we are no longer in those disastrous days, when the tiaras and the mitres were the only crowns of the universe; it is to revive, in a way, the shame of these unhappy times, to suppose ?enters priesthood an empire?, of which since a long time the enlightened wisdom of peoples precisely striped of. Canada, by the kind of education which it provides to its youth, generally destined to the needs of agriculture, enrols but few subjects to the service of the Church. Ah well! let the bishop, by his substitutes, borrow them from other Catholic States; but for the success of this plan, it is required that the legislature, by a solemn proclamation, opens the doors of Canada to all these foreign priests who would like to devote themselves to the service of religion.
Here is the only matter, in which the political providence of the government can intervene with honour; it should establish in London an ecclesiastical court, made out of all the bishops and dignitaries of the kingdom, who will be officially appointed to juridically enquire the morals and character of these new priests; and to administer them the oath of fidelity which subjects owe à titre sacré de religion, to their legitimate sovereign. This enquiry and this oath will serve as much the glory of the wisdom of the government, as to the advantage, the good édification, and the safety of the province.
In the remainder, this free entry in Canada granted to Roman priests, is the general system adopted today in all the American colonies; this power, still in the cradle of its sovereignty, has thus far deployed a smoothness of administrative policy: one can shamelessly copy it as a model. Moreover, here is a point which should not escape the public. A great part of the Indian nations is attached to the Roman communion: this attachment binds them in trade, preferably to their fellow-members of religion. In the piteous situation, in mercantile matter, where Canada sits today, it would be well out of place to deprive it from this help, by taking away its ability to dispatch its priests, for the service of the Savage Churches. America would benefit from avoiding to neglect this.
Seventh article of the reform
Reform of the judicature, by the re-establishment of the Superior Council of Quebec.
Alas! it was so easy to simplify the justice system of Canada, to completely adjust it à la française, and to reduce it to a unity of equal service, and for the people and for the State; instead of the erection of these heteroclite courts, there was nothing more natural than to restore the Superior Council of Quebec, with its twenty-four law-advisers, I say advisers, legal professionals, men raised and nourished by the study of laws; and not to substitute them sword-advisers, lancet-advisers, ell-advisers and other disparate instruments, which clash with the administration of justice, and are the opprobrium of justice itself. The wages of these advisers, before the conquest, did not exceed 100 little ecus, currency of France. Considering the circulation of cash, which by enriching the province increased the price of food products, the generosity of the English government could increase the wages of the these advisers up to 100 pounds sterling. The salaries of the judges today can go up to 500 pounds and several of them who have nominally up to four or five seats for themselves. Where is the economy for the State? because, Messieurs, this public economy, you must make it the basis of all the petitions which you have to submit to the justice of England. England is getting out of a ruinous war, in which the mass of her national debts increased to a monstrous magnitude. It would be to ask that she let herself and her peoples crumble down, to solicitate expensive and costly institutions: Canada already costs her too much; but I then assure on my honour here that it is not the fault of Canada itself; if ever a body of assembly were to chair its administration and to review public expenditure, soon the colony, discharged from insane expenses, would be self-sufficient to govern itself with its established incomes, and ever to flower. I can only add here: let us continue.
To complete the order of the judicial hierarchy of Canada, it would be suitable to restore the small subordinate courts of judicature, in Trois-Rivières and in Montreal, with the old spices granted back to legal professionals. Under the French government, these spices were reduced to the sphere of the greatest moderateness; because of that did Canada hardly ever saw in its midst this voracious race, which lives off the manure of all the madnesses of humankind: hardly three or four causes were being judged in the course of one year in the Superior Council of Quebec. Ah! if this age of simplicity, innocence and peace could live again in the colony! At least it would not cost much for the return of this golden age.
Eighth article of the reform
Military establishment of Canada; institution of a two-battalion Canadien regiment.
Here it is only to England that I have the honour to speak. The United States of America already gathers preparations for the building of a city, at a distance of only a few miles away from Montreal. In the event of war, if the colony is not permanently equipped with an army to face the enemy, as soon as he enters, we will consequently see it descending firmly all the way at the doors of the capital, i.e., become master and sovereign of all the extent of the colony: Quebec (whatever fortifications which today's a poorly calculating industry may pile up) can fall, without the expense of a single canon shot. It is only the Canadien providence, which can save it from this final destiny, imparable in any other case; but if the inhabitants are taken by surprise on the first step of the irruption, doesn't their reaction decide the fall of the capital? I stop here for an explanation; patriotism orders me to it. I will say enough to make the need of stopping the invasion clear right away. To delegate to the national troops of England this first office of resistance, would require a large army in Canada, whose value, in product, would not correspond to the value of maintenance. It is thus to the Canadiens to be their own defenders, and their principal guards: but it is necessary to initiate them, discipline them in military science, and to support them with leaders, on the traces of whom, they can go with confidence and courage to the defence of their fatherland.Fort de cèdres, attacked by our militia. Our officers who were within range had but 30 Canadiens at their disposal: they hastily collected 60 savages; and, in spite of such a marked inequality, they flew off to meet the enemy, which they attacked, defeated, and demolished at the first shock: and with the 80 victorious men who remained, they made 180 captive soldiers, the commander at their head; and with this victory, Fort de cèdres fell. It is the most brilliant action to have illustrated the arms of the king in these regions; but it cost a great deal to one of our brave Canadien gentlemen, (Mr. de Montigny, the elder) who by his hand had rendered captive one of the principal enemy officers: on the departure of the Americans he paid this action with the devastation of his lands, his house, and farm turned to ashes, and of his fortune entirely ruined. These losses were modestly exposed to the justice of the government, but the treasury office answered that such was the fortune of war, which had spread identical devastations, in the English Islands of America, and that it would be of equal justice, i.e. of national impotence, to compensate.
The case is neither similar in the circumstances, nor analogous in its continuations. At the invasion of the colony, an American proclamation had guaranteed their possessions to the Canadiens, who lived quietly in their domestic properties without initially entering the national quarrel; they were enjoying their heritage in peace; it was a royal proclamation which, in the name of the Master's munificence, tear them off of their neutrality. Is it to the glory of the sovereign that subjects be deceived and fall victims of the words he spoke through the body of his representative? We would then have no respect for them nor desire to obey them: to answer by the affirmative would not be good policy for who cares about the salute of a State. The consequences would be terrible here; at the first irruption, the Canadiens would thus be forced to bury themselves in the inaction of neutrality. Would they face the devastations of a war in favour of a State which would have declared them in advance, that there is little reparation and compensation to expect from him? I request the Treasury to excuse me for this little discussion: if I loved England and the conservation of her colony less, I would have stayed silent on a matter in which nothing can interest me but my patriotism, and my fidelity to my sovereign; because it is not my own cause which I plead here: the military career was indeed that of my ancestors: special circumstances and personal tastes decided of my person elsewhere; but the safety of the colony, and our national existence depend on the exertion of these soldiers: I would groan for England even more than for me if the exertion of these brave men came to be necessarily irritated by public ingratitude.
Otherwise, the regiment would not be made up of Canadien soldiers; they would all refuse to enrol themselves in it; and even their voluntary admission would not be acceptable to them for the progress of the colony because it needs the hands of her children for the daily work of farming. This regiment would thus consist only of foreigners, to whom, for the general good, the entry of the province should be made freely under the terms of a parliamentary proclamation. It is exactly the system of today, in all the American colonies, which provide themselves only with foreign troops. The administration is no longer twelve hundred miles away from them; it resides in their very centre: the sight of the present objects must allow one's glance to be more clear-sighted, more penetrating, more judge-like.
Ninth article of the reform
Freedom of the press.
Tenth article of the reform
Institution of colleges for the education of the youth.
The clergy is richly endowed in Canada; it has built, by its own hands, seminars where candidates to priesthood are trained in youth to the virtues of their state. The providential economy of the ecclesiastical hierarchy did not contradict its ancient vigilance, and activity of all times: but are there in the colony but priests to raise? There no longer exist, in all the extent of the country national institutions where the instructed youth can be initiated to the various economic sciences, analogous to the offices of the various classes of citizens in the State. What could the State expect of a generation of children that a precocious policy of education would not have shaped for the various jobs of the State? Many citizens today send their children to France, to compensate for the shortage of public schools, which in Canada condemns the youth to never be able to develop the talents which nature could have endowed them with. A so premature expatriation returns them afterwards to their fatherland, filled with feelings dont l'esprit de nationalité se formalise. It is the fault of the public foresight; the household leaders received from nature the order to educate their families; they accomplish it, in favour of the places which favour their success.
Today, the Jesuits are reduced to four individuals in Canada, and a fifth one has been for many years fixed in England by the public authority, for the service of the State. They all reached the more-than-started autumn of life. The government could, at the moment, place them in a honourable retirement, for the few days they have left. It would then have at hand rich funds ready to be put to good use for the institution of public schools for all kinds of educations; law, navigation, fortification, etc, could be developed doctrinally in the college. I am not unaware that the goods of the Jesuits constitute a prerogative intended for the crown; but the whole body of Canada claims against this destination, which revokes the rights of the province, and is without any analogy to the primitive donation of these funds. Our former sovereigns had piled up so many seigniories and so much opulence on the Society of the Jesuits, at the condition of perceiving the benefits from it solely for the education of youth: these goods remain destined to this end, as a perpetual mortgage for this commodity; it is on these very clauses, that the conservation of the goods was irrevocably stipulated at the Capitulation of Montreal. With the dissolution of this society, in France and in all of Europe, while seizing their goods, was fulfilled the obligation which they were responsible for by the founding of new colleges, endowed by royal finance. The best, the most just of princes would not want to deviate from such virtuous models and grow richer at the expense of his subjects' education.
Eleventh article of the reform
National naturalization of the Canadiens in all the extent of the British Empire.
By all constitutions of the various empires of the universe, the new subjects are authentically put in possession of all the citizens rights, as soon as the settling of the conquest is sworn by a peace treaty. Access to all dignities of the State is open to them, on the same titles, and in same measures as the nation; and the right to acquire landed property is granted to them without question. Only in England, are the new subjects forever bastard and foreign in the empire of their unique sovereign, and condemned to a national slavery, by a civil exhederation. The laws of nations, protest highly against this abuse of victory; but here it involves unpleasant consequences even for the conquering State, and it leaves the Canadiens very little to glean for in the distribution of public offices in their own fatherland. A dozen places, is all the proportion that the administration has dropped into their hands: but the harvest does not answer the needs of more than 100 000 souls, raised to collect it; from there, the need for several of our citizens to expatriate; they are not allowed in England in the various bodies of the national institutions; they are forbidden to go in its centre to found territorial establishments, to buy them, own them, and to give anything for their families to inherit. Eh well! they go to France to ask their former sovereign for their readmission in His Estates, and their rehabilitation in the national and civil order; it is thus that many of our best subjects, many of our most respectable families have deserted, desert, and will continue to successively desert from Canada, of which they could be the most beautiful ornaments today.
By what fatality does a nation, famous in the universe for the spirit of wisdom and the constitutional straightness which governs her, stubbornly condemns, for 24 years, a whole people to civil exheredation and national servitude because other followers of the religion which this people professes, but to which they are attached by a title neither natural nor civil, have formerly dishonoured themselves, by crimes against the State? But the natural balance, the judicial justice of the universe, the laws of nations, the decrees of the social contract, all claim against the punishment of the innocent. The English legislature, neither in the content, nor in the spirit of its criminal laws, could only have captured the culprits, or their descendants who were the only ones falling under its jurisdiction, either really or virtually by their representation; but strangers, who were not then justiciable, who could not even have foreseen that they be one day linked to the State, who were not dependent of this State, and who were under no guilt, ah! only blindness could have included them in this sentence: but England is the first one being deceived and the first victim of this mistake, which deprives her of a number of good and rich subjects, who, prohibited from settling in her midst, with citizens rights to public places and territorial acquisitions, migrate their families and their fortunes elsewhere, fortunes often acquired under the auspices of her wisdom and her services. The more I consider the wellbeing of the State, the more I promise myself that the Parliament will not let an error so detrimental to all the nation last any longer.
Here are, Messieurs, all the principal pieces of political detail which, as a whole, can be put together for the complete formation of a happy government in the province, which undoubtedly bought this government for quite an expensive price, if only for the calamities produced by more than 20 years of a failed administration. I have tried to tie them one to another, with as much order as it was possible using the weakness of my genius; you only have to sew them with more art in a provincial petition, to be submitted to the throne and the Parliament of England; because the ministers are in the State but the agents of the executive power: it is indeed in their power, in passing lenitives and temporary modifications, to soften for a time the bitterness of the yoke which you tasted for so long: they can even, by a thoughtful choice, and as such beneficial, place over your heads a governor who would be just, human, and virtuous, who would make it a glory to wipe your tears, and to resurrect among you the reign of serenity, safety and peace; but your happiness would only be the free gift of ministerial condescension, and the natural disposition of the honest and pleasant despot who would govern you; the ministers could come back from their goodwill, take back their gifts, and plunge your back in your old misfortunes; but the happiness of an entire people must be sat on firmer and more durable bases.Pennsylvania (Mr. Penn) has placed at the frontispiece of his legislative code, that "Good men make good laws, and all that a people need are good administrators to be happy": he was right; but before establishing such an reasonable axiom as a single rule of the legislation for a country, we should find a reference point to be forever assured of the virtue of public servants. Undoubtedly, this enthusiastic leader of the Quakers, saisi et agité de l'esprit(5), could read in the hearts of the his present and future co-religionists, but me, who do not claim the glory of the prophetic gift, I boldly sustain that it is to the goodness of laws to train the good public administrators: the virtue of the latter is so strongly due to chance and causality, that one cannot reasonably rely on it for the happiness of a whole people: but the virtue of the law is fixed; it reigns in spite of the iniquity of the executive, and the peoples are happy. It is admittedly not free from transgression; but the transgression of a law (I hear a fundamental, constitutional law of government, which is in question here) calls on the whole body of the people for revenge, or for the overthrowing of the transgressor, or for a total revolution. This doctrine, founded on the nature of the social contract, is especially sacred in England; because it was at the heart of this great and memorable revolution, which decided it forever, (at least it should be hoped for) the empire of the law, that is to say of freedom; because the later is the natural and legitimate child of the first: it is for these great lessons, Messieurs, that you cannot rely on any of the particular concessions which could be granted to you by subordinate hands, that would, consequently, be authorized to seize it back out of fancy tomorrow: law, Messieurs, the seal of the law, which forever consecrates the form of government whose choice you will have decided, here is the sole bond which can invariably attach yourselves to happiness, and happiness to yourselves: it is thus to the king sitting in Parliament that you must speak.
Twelfth article of the reform
Solemn delegation of Canada before the King and the Parliament of England.
Here, Messieurs, success will depend much on formalities: I am on the spot; suffer that I communicate you the experience of my eyes. You have dispatched three deputies, who are advisable as much as you want by their uprightness, patriotism, good spirit and personal merit; but they were ordinary citizens: they failed completely; by the least amount of knowledge of higher society you must have expected it. Individual merit, isolated virtue, shining only of their own internal and modest gloss, are not enough to succeed with a government; In the courts, one needs glare, grandeur, pump, to be noticed and listened; and it is only by the importance of the ambassador that the importance of the embassy is judged. After all, a province as respectable as the province of Quebec has some right to be represented grandiosely. It is from this point of view that I would advise you to form your delegation, whose members should be taken among the elite of each class of citizens; two from the clergy, two from the nobility, four from the body of traders, and four from that of the farmers: each class would defray their own deputies; it would be for each individual but a pure misery, from which you would be abundantly paid back with the success that would then surely be your. If however such a great number of deputies alarms your economy, reduce it by half, or even to a single representative for each class.Mabane, the Fraser, the Rouville, and a few flattering mercenaries in place over there, will at once sound the alarm in all of Canada; I can see them in advance flying from street to street, walking their sorrows and their frights, which they will try to universalize and pour in all the hearts, in favour of tumult and din; I am following them with my eyes, knocking from door to door, an address in hand, fabricated in the forging mills of imposture and lie, allied together to support the triumph of the tyranny of despotism, and, through manipulation, threats and artifices, make the frightened and surprised citizens sign a document saying that the administration of General Haldimand has been the administration of justice, humanity, benevolence, and that the current government is the sole government wisely designed for your freedom, your happiness and your glory.
Because such are the unfaithful and poisoned channels, which of source even more perfidious and diseased, led up until now State communications, regarding the current situation of our province, onto the desks of public agencies: and it is by these lying repertories, that our ministries are flattered to learn it: eh, but! would they be so little initiated to the knowledge of men, to imagine that a governor, whose heart is villain enough to play tyrants, could have enough virtue to entrust in the middle of ministers, i.e. of his judges, the evidence of his tyrannies? No; it would be to fall by his own hands, and to overthrown himself from the throne; he is wary to be his own enemy; so did he ever represent, and will he ever represent, to the public leaders, the province of Quebec, as an enchanting stay enchanter, where justice, happiness, the purest serenity reigns, without the sign of any sigh, except perhaps that of punished crime; that is to say, Messieurs, that you are and will always be presented as happy in London, at least in the court of civil administrators, even if in your fatherland you were swimming in blood and tears: and here is the lamentable illusion and the imposition which I bitterly deplored as of last December and November in my(6) letters to Milord North. My sighs and yours were then lost; are they condemned to be so forever?
At all events, Messieurs, here is a path that prepares the faction whose pernicious plots I traced the portrait a few moments before. It has absorbed in itself, all the public offices, all the emoluments and wages of the province; it is this way that it became strong, on the pinnacle of fortune; it can only maintain itself on this summit by the continuation of your humiliation, your oppression, and your slavery: it will move heaven and earth to choke, in their birth, the noble efforts by which you will try to raise up; and to consume your destruction, by consuming the triumph of the system of government which elevated it on your ruins. It is up to you to decide if your provincial existence must be sacrificed to the exaltation and the fortune of some false and perfidious citizens, and if it is appropriate for your glory, to be the idle and insensitive spectators... what do I say? ... the craftsmen and promoters of your own loss, by actively contributing to the success of the measures of these factious. I do not even hesitate to communicate you the confession of it, (because it is important to your glory, which is a part of my own) I will confess you, says I, that you were represented here as a submissive, timid and flexible people, so familiarized with obedience, and made for it, that the voice of liberty, and the sublime passions of man, would not be able to awake you, and to set yourselves in motion in order to lift even the weight of your irons, and much less to break them. All of England, well aware of your oppression, is today waiting to judge you by your courage and your firmness.
In the middle of this waiting, which your glory commands you to end soon, here is the only wish that my sincere patriotism expects in your favour: may your children, and the children of your children, return by their abundant blessings, the zeal and the love of freedom which you will deploy in the critical circumstances, in which you suffer, and never have to pour tears of blood over the faith which threatens them! because it is no longer time to let yourselves be blinded, Messieurs; it is of all your posterity, which it is question of defending and saving. Today, the government has the arrangement of the province of Québec(6) in its hands; it would take centuries to bring it back from an error of legislation it would not see against the economy of your interests and your rights; and how not to tremble before the future existence of such a sad event, since so many lying voices avert from all sides to mislay the government's justice, by surprising its good faith! There are only you as a body, Messieurs, who, by a decided and vigorous exertion, can form a counterweight, to counterbalance the actions of these enemies, unchained against your freedom. There is only you who can plead your cause with eloquence; but at least am I relying on quite authentic titles when I ensure you that, provided that you want to plead it as brave men, you will undoubtedly not lose it.Milord Sidney. This lord, then known only as Mr. Townshend(7), was the senator who rose up in advance with more energy and force, against the sanction given in Parliament to the bill of Quebec, because of the despotism, that he foresaw and justly predicted, would one day result from it: Milord Sidney is by honour bound to support the advances of Mr. Townshend, and to extirpate a tyranny which he had rejected and condemned before its advent.
Lastly, this great minister is, by his mother, the descendant of Sidney(8), the famous patriot who is the patron of freedom, of which he was so passionate and fond that he wished to never suffer at home anything that was not marked of his majestic livery. A blood so free, running in his veins, will not condemn to slavery a whole people of new subjects, who would come to his official court to reclaim freedom, in the name of the illustrious nation which adopted them.
I conclude, Messieurs, by the public testimony of one of England's most famous lords, (the Lord Sheffield) who, in an erudite and very patriotic book, has put, by a single stroke of the feather, the seal of confirmation on your hopes and your rights. "The wise policy of the legislature", says he, "should not balance a moment to grant the Canadians the form of government corresponding to their requests and their tastes, because the most beautiful title which England can arrange to ensure the conservation of their country, resides in their contentment and satisfaction; to lay this contentment on an unshakable basis, we make it a principle, to grant them a civil fate that is happier and more beautiful than the American colonies, which surround them, could promise to offer them."
All is said in a so precise and so public declaration: your freedom thus lay in your hands. It is only a question for you, to ask it appropriately; a people animated of such beautiful and great feelings as yours, cannot choose, preferably to their civil emancipation, the infamy of slavery, for them and all their posterity; they would cease to be themselves. The height of glory for me would be to be able to claim some share in this happy revolution which is the heart of my reflexions and my days; at least can I and must I ensure you that on its advent, your national happiness will alone suffice to console me of all my personal disgraces. I cannot conclude, by feelings worthier of you, and as your compatriot, I dare to say, worthier of me.
I have the honour of being, with the most perfect consideration,
Your humble and most obedient servant,
Pierre du Calvet
- (1) To these five articles, it would be good to add the representation of Canada in the British senate, such as it will soon be cleared up; it is a constitutional right of the Canadiens who must not forget anything to enjoy it.
- (2) The candour and the zeal of Mr. Maseres for all the province of Quebec never burst under a more beautiful day: "You know", said he to Messrs Powell, Adhémar, and de Lisle, "that I am in charge of three requests, on behalf of the old subjects, to obtain from Parliament a House of Assembly for the province. Such an institution would forever ensure the safety of the colony; there is no hope to succeed in this, for as long as all the colonists, in concert, will not meet to demand it: but under this circumstance, would we thus leave the colony completely at the mercy of the tyranny, under which it groans? The five articles that I propose you will help to alleviate the weight of its chains; since you approve them, I will redouble of zeal and effort, to have them approved by the Parliament; keep ready to support them of your voices, and to answer on the establishment of the Assembly."
- (3) I am not the only Protestant in the province of Quebec; but would we all be ready to protest, that we would all choose preferably to live under an all Roman Catholic Assembly, than under the present government such as it is today; and such must be, and are in fact, the feelings of all the honest people of the Roman communion, for an all Protestant Assembly, excluding perhaps some of these radically interested and servile men, whose rise in public places have forever sold to the iniquity of despotism and the despot.
- (4) Perhaps one could add here, that the French never spoiled their association with the English, in occasions of even more pageantry; in Poitiers, the Prince noir had at his orders but two thousand English, out of eight thousand Gascons. The indicipline of most of the French nation was defeated; but wasn't this victory in good part due to the discipline of another body of the French nation, formed by the greatest hero England ever produced? Forgive the reflexion; I seek to instruct myself.
- (5) In Quaker churches, one calls esprit, what is elsewhere called 'inspiration divine.
- (6) Lettres à Milord North
- (7) Here is an excerpt of the Courrier de l'Europe from Friday June 25 1784, in an article entitled Bulletin de Londres:
- One speaks of dividing Canada in two government, as was Nova Scotia, and to have a Governor General for the two provinces; Lord Grantham, presides the committee responsible to prepare the administration needed for the establishments left to England on the American continent. M. Pitt, lord Sidney, Mr. Jenkinson and Mr. Dundas are the other State counsellors of the committee.
- I am but a copyist here; because if I were a political commentator, I would have great State remarks to propose against this division of government, which, if it were implemented, would from the start double the employments and could very well end up dividing all the minds in the province. Simplicity is the mother of economy, and the first symbol of peace.
- The following reflexion will present the contrast in all its latitude: before the past war, it was juged convenient to extend the province of Quebec all the way up to the Mississippi; now that the Peace Treaty reduced its size by half, one wants to divide it in two! inconsequence which is only suited add more creatures for the governor and have the State carry the burden of it.
- (8) Voici les noms des personnes de marque qui s'élèvent le plus vivement contre les suites funestes de ce bill, dans la chambre basse du Parlement: Le conseiller Dunning, depuis Lord Ashburton, M. le chevalier Mackworth, M. Thomas Townshend junior, M. le chevalier Savile, M. David Hartley, le colonel Barré, le commodore Johnstone, M. Dempster, M. Edmund Burke, etc. Le Lord Maire, au nom de la ville de Londres, présenta une requête contre le bill. Dans la chambre haute, son altesse royale Mgr le duc de Gloucester, frère du roi, fut un des opposants. Hors du Parlement, M. le baron Masères, M. Hey, M. Lobinière, condamnèrent hautement ce bill, dont ils prédirent l'abus et les suites.
- (9) Barillon, alors ambassadeur de France à Londres, raconte, dans les mémoires de son ambassade, que Sidney étant en France, montait un superbe cheval anglais, dont Louis XIV fut épris, et dont il fit demander le prix. À cette question le patriote anglais s'arme de son épée, et courant à son cheval, ami, dit-il, (car la liberté familiarise tout) tu es né libre, tu mourras tel; et sur cela il le perce, et l'étend raide sur la place. C'est exactement le fameux Virginius se ruant sur un tranchet d'une boutique voisine, en frappant sa fille, et arrosant de son sang les rues de Rome; il est vrai qu'il était question pour celui-ci de sauver l'honneur d'une Romaine, de la brutalité du tribun militaire Appius: aussi la victime, aussi généreuse que son père, tendit-elle en silence le col sous le glaive du sacrificateur; mais ce malheureux cheval aurait pu faire observer à son maître, qu'on ne luis destinait pas à Versailles un autre mords que celui qu'on lui mettait en bouche à Londres, et que mords pour mords, il valait encore mieux vivre: mais le jeu de ce monde politique, n'est que celui d'une grande comédie; la pompe, l'ostentation orne la scène, en attendant le dénouement, qui vient comme il plaît au hasard.
- Compare with the original edition here.
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