User:Liberlogos/French Canadian Ingratitude and Disloyalty

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French Canadian Ingratitude and Disloyalty
September 15, 1860

Excerpt transcripted by Benoît Rheault from:

The New York Times



There is a peculiar aspect of English colonization in which it is not frequently regarded. India is not a colony at all, but, properly speaking, a subject Empire. Australia has nothing in it of a subject Empire, but is a colony settled purely by persons of the same race and living under the same laws as ourselves. But there is yet another type of colony, of which the Mauritius, the Cape of Good Hope, and Canada are specimens. Here the English are the conquering race, and another people of the same European family sit down close behind them. In no case has it been found that those who colonized the land before us were able to compete successfully with the English settler. We have asserted the superiority as much in the arts of industry as in arms; and, with the single exception of the vast territories which now form the United States, have never lost by violence a colony which we have once obtained. We may say more. We believe that we have, upon the whole, treated the European races that fell under our power with a mildness and a justice quite unexampled in the history of conquering States.

We cannot select a better instance than is affored at this moment by the colony of Lower Canada. We have held that province now exactly a hundred years. It was acquired by conquest, and consequently the Crown had the power, by virtue of its prerogative, of making whatever changes it thought fit in the laws and the constitution of the territory. We found it, like all the other possessions of France, under an absolute Government, with laws and customs in many respects very dissimilar from our own, strongly attached to the Roman Catholic religion, and with little disposition to adopt any improvement, either in legislation or administration. If we have erred in our treatment of this foreign population, it has been on the side of mildness and indulgence. They have long possessed representative institutions equal to our own, complete freedom of the Press and personal security from arrests and domiciliary visits, and therefore enormously superior to anything that they enjoyed since their separation. The desolating whirlwind of the Revolution has swept over France, and levelled with the dust not only the castle of the nobleman, but those splendid religious establishments, the monuments of the piety and benevolence of former ages. So effectually have the laws and customs of the ancient régime been swept away, that it is a matter of considerable antiquarian research to reproduce the state of society and law which existed under Louis XIV. and his two successors; indeed, if any one wants to form an idea of old France, he must not look to the France of to-day, which dates everything from the Assrmbly of the States-General, bu he must cross the Atlantic, and contemplate the manner in which these things are preserved in Lower Canada, like a fly in amber. We have been so anxious not to wound the prejudices of our fellow-subjects of the French race that we have forborne from forcing upon them the improvements in their laws which seem necessary, but which they regard with aversion. We have allowed their feudal tenures to die out quietly; we have respected their language so much that in a colony, a majority of the inhabitants of which are of the English race, we suffer both languages to be spoken and the statutes to be promulgated both in English and French. Let any one visit Quebec, and he will find it filled with convents and religious establishments, which have been protected under the rule of Protestant England from the fate which has overtaken the religious foundations of Roman Catholic France. In our hands the Roman Catholic Church has lost nothing; her rights, her privileges, her dignities, her property, are entire. We have carried our anxietty to please so far that each province possesses not only its separate laws and language, but distinct law officers and courts of justice. In fact, we are unable to point out any single grievance under which Lower Canada can even pretend that she suffers, unless it be that she now remains, as she was a hundred years ago, a dependency of the British crown. Some three-and-twenty years ago Lower Canada rose in rebellion.

Note

This is a letter from The Times newspaper of London as reprinted by The New York Times (September 15, 1860, p.1), from Historical New York Times archives available at the Proquest historical newspapers website, in turn available with a membership of the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec.