Canada History

Canada History   timelines 
AskAHistorian    blog 




The Nature of the problems in Lower Canada
(Part 1)

In a Dispatch which I addressed to Your Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies on the 9th of August last, I detailed, with great minuteness, the impressions which had been produced on my mind by the state of things which existed in Lower Canada: I acknowledged that the experience derived from my residence in the Province had completely changed my view of the relative influence of the causes which had been assigned for the existing disorders. I had not, indeed, been brought to believe that the institutions of Lower Canada were less defective than I had originally presumed them to be. From the peculiar circumstances in which I was placed, I was enabled to make such effectual observations as convinced me that there had existed in the constitution of the Province, in the balance of political powers, in the spirit and practice of administration in every department of the Government, defects that were quite sufficient to account for a great degree of mismanagement and dissatisfaction. The same observation had also impressed on me the conviction, that, for the peculiar and disastrous dissensions of this Province, there existed a far deeper and far more efficient cause, - a cause which penetrated beneath its political institutions into its social state, - a cause which no reform of constitution or laws, that should leave the elements of society unaltered, could remove; but which must be removed, ere any success could be expected in any attempt to remedy the many evils of this unhappy Province. I expected to find a contest between a government and a people: I found two nations warring in the bosom of a single state: I found a struggle, not of principles, but of races; and I perceived that it would be idle to attempt any amelioration of laws or institutions until we could first succeed in terminating the deadly animosity that now separates the inhabitants of Lower Canada into the hostile divisions of French and English.

It would be vain for me to expect that any description I can give will impress on Your Majesty such a view of the animosity of these races as my personal experience in Lower Canada has forced on me. Our happy immunity from any feelings of national hostility, renders it difficult for us to comprehend the intensity of the hatred which the difference of language, of laws, and of manners, creates between those who inhabit the same village, and are citizens of the same state. We are ready to believe that the real motive of the quarrel is something else; and that the difference of race has slightly and occasionally aggravated dissensions, which we attribute to some more usual cause. Experience of a state of society, so unhappily divided as that of Lower Canada, leads to an exactly contrary opinion. The national feud forces itself on the very senses, irresistibly and palpably, as the origin or the essence of every dispute which divides the community; we discover that dissensions, which appear to have another origin, are but forms of this constant and all-pervading quarrel; and that every contest is one of French and English in the outset, or becomes so ere it has run its course.

The political discontents, for which the vicious system of government has given too much cause, have for a long time concealed or modified the influence of the national quarrel. It has been argued, that origin can have but little effect in dividing the country, inasmuch as individuals of each race have constantly been enlisted together on the side of Government, or been found united in leading the Assembly to assail its alleged abuses; that the names of some of the prominent leaders of the rebellion mark their English, while those of some of the most unpopular supporters of the Government denote their French, origin; and that the representatives, if not of an actual majority (as has occasionally been asserted), at any rate of a large portion of the purely English population, have been found constantly voting with the majority of the Assembly against what is called the British party. Temporary and local causes have, no doubt, to a certain extent, produced such results. The national hostility has not assumed its permanent influence till of late years, nor has it exhibited itself every where at once. While it displayed itself long ago in the cities of Quebec and Montreal, where the leaders and masses of the rival races most speedily came into collision, the inhabitants of the eastern townships, who were removed from all personal contact with the French, and those of the district below Quebec, who experienced little interference from the English, continued to a very late period to entertain comparatively friendly feelings towards those of the opposite races. But this is a distinction which has unfortunately, year after year, been exhibiting itself more strongly, and diffusing itself more widely. One by one the ancient English leaders of the Assembly have fallen off from the majority, and attached themselves to the party which supported the British Government against it. Every election from the townships added to the English minority. On the other hand, year after year, in spite of the various influences which a government can exercise, and of which no people in the world are more susceptible than the French Canadians; in spite of the additional motives of prudence and patriotism which deter timid or calm men from acting with a party, obviously endangering the public tranquillity by the violence of its conduct, the number of French Canadians, on whom the Government could rely, has been narrowed by the influence of those associations which have drawn them into the ranks of their kindred. The insurrection of 1837 completed the division. Since the resort to arms the two races have been distinctly and completely arrayed against each other. No portion of the English population was backward in taking arms in defence of the Government; with a single exception, no portion of the Canadian population was allowed to do so, even where it was asserted by some that their loyalty inclined them thereto. The exasperation thus generated has extended over the whole of each race. The most just and sensible of the English, those whose politics had always been most liberal, those who had always advocated the most moderate policy in the provincial disputes, seem from that moment to have taken their part against the French as resolutely, if not as fiercely, as the rest of their countrymen, and to have joined in the determination never again to submit to a French majority. A few exceptions mark the existence, rather than militate against the truth of the general rule of national hostility. A few of the French, distinguished by moderate and enlarged views, still condemn the narrow' national prejudices and ruinous violence of their countrymen, while they equally resist what they consider the violent and unjust pretensions of a minority, and endeavour to form a middle party between the two extremes. A large part of the Catholic clergy, a few of the principal proprietors of the seigniorial families, and some of those who are influenced by ancient connexions of party, support the Government against revolutionary violence. A very few persons of English origin (not more, perhaps, that fifty out of the whole number) still continue to act with the party which they originally espoused. Those who affect to form a middle party exercise no influence on the contending extremes; and those who side with the nation from which their birth distinguishes them, are regarded by their countrymen with aggravated hatred, as renegades from their race; while they obtain but little of the real affection, confidence or esteem of those whom they have joined.

The grounds of quarrel which are commonly alleged, appear, on investigation, to have little to do with its real cause; and the inquirer, who has imagined that the public demonstrations or professions of the parties have put him in possession of their real motives and designs, is surprised to find, upon nearer observation, how much he has been deceived by the false colours under which they have been in the habit of fighting. It is not, indeed, surprising, that each party should, in this instance, have practised more than the usual frauds of language, by which factions, in every country, seek to secure the sympathy of other communities. A quarrel based on the mere ground of national animosity, appears so revolting to the notions of good sense and charity prevalent in the civilized world, that the parties who feel such a passion the most strongly, and indulge it the most openly, are at great pains to class themselves under any denominations but those which would correctly designate their objects and feelings. The French Canadians have attempted to shroud their hostility to the influence of English emigration, and the introduction of British institutions, under the guise of warfare against the Government and its supporters, whom they represented to be a small knot of corrupt and insolent dependents; being a majority, they have invoked the principles of popular control and democracy, and appealed with no little effect to the sympathy of liberal politicians in every quarter of the world. The English, finding their opponents in collision with the Government, have raised the cry of loyalty and attachment to British connexion, and denounced the republican designs of the French, whom they designate, or rather used to designate, by the appellation of Radicals. Thus the French have been viewed as a democratic party, contending for reform; and the English as a conservative minority; protecting the menaced connexion with the British Crown, and the supreme authority of the Empire. There is truth in this notion in so far as respects 2he means by which each party sought to carry its own views of Government into effect. The French majority asserted the most democratic doctrines of the rights of a numerical majority. The English minority availed itself of the protection: of the prerogative, and. allied itself with all those of the colonial institutions which enabled the few to resist the will of the many. But when we look to the objects of each party, the analogy to our own politics seems to be lost, if not actually reversed; the French appear to have used their democratic arms for conservative purposes, rather than those of liberal and enlightened movement; and the sympathies of the friends of reform are naturally enlisted on the side of sound amelioration which the English minority in vain attempted to introduce into the antiquated laws of the Province.

[. . .]

However unwilling we may be to attribute the disorders of a country connected with us to a cause so fatal to its tranquillity, and one which it seems so difficult to remove, no very long or laboured consideration of the relative characters and position of these races is needed for convincing us of their invincible hostility towards each other. It is scarcely possible to conceive descendants of any of the great European nations more unlike each other in character and temperament, more totally separated from each other by language, laws, and modes of life, or placed in circumstances more calculated to produce mutual misunderstanding, jealousy and hatred. To conceive the incompatibility of the two races in Canada, it is not enough that we should picture to ourselves a community composed of equal proportions of French and English. We must bear in mind what kind of French and English they are that are brought in contact, and in what proportions they meet.

The institutions of France, during the period of the colonization of Canada, were, perhaps, more than those of any other European nation, calculated to repress the intelligence and freedom of the great mass of the people. These institutions followed the Canadian colonist across the Atlantic. The same central; ill organized, unimproving and repressive despotism extended over him. Not merely was he allowed no voice in the government of his Province, or the choice of his rulers, but he was not even permitted to associate with his neighbours for the regulation of those municipal affairs, which the central authority neglected under the pretext of managing. He obtained his land on a tenure singularly calculated to promote his immediate comfort, and to check his desire to better his condition; he was placed at once in a life of constant and unvarying labour, of great material comfort, and feudal dependence. The ecclesiastical authority to which he had been accustomed established its institutions around him, and the priest continued to exercise over him his ancient influence. No general provision was made for education; and, as its necessity was not appreciated, the colonist made no attempt to repair the negligence of his government. It need not surprise us that, under such circumstances, a race of men habituated to the incessant labour of a rude and unskilled agriculture, and habitually fond of social enjoyments, congregated together in rural communities, occupying portions of the wholly unappropriated soil, sufficient to provide each family with material comforts, far beyond their ancient means, or almost their conceptions; that they made little advance beyond the first progress in comfort, which the bounty of the soil absolutely forced upon them; that under the same institutions they remained the same uninstructed, inactive, unprogressive people. Along the alluvial banks of the St. Lawrence, and its tributaries, they have cleared two or three strips of land, cultivated them in the worst method of small farming, and established a series of continuous villages, which give the country of the seigniories the appearance of a never-ending street. Besides the Cities which were the seats of government, no towns were established; the rude manufactures of the country were, and still are, carried on in the cottage by the family of the habitant; and an insignificant proportion of the population derived their subsistence from the scarcely discernible commerce of the Province.

The Nature of the problems in Lower Canada
(Part 2)

The seigniorial tenure is one so little adapted to our notions of proprietary rights, that the new seignior, without any consciousness or intention of injustice, in many instances exercised his rights in a manner which would appear perfectly fair in this country, but which the Canadian settler reasonably regarded as oppressive. The English purchaser found an equally unexpected and just cause of complaint in that uncertainty of the laws, which rendered his possession of property precarious, and in those incidents of the tenure which rendered its alienation or improvement difficult. But an irritation, greater than that occasioned by the transfer of the large properties, was caused by the competition of the English with the French farmer. The English farmer carried with him the experience and habits of the most improved agriculture in the world: He settled himself in the townships bordering on the seigniories, and brought a fresh soil and improved cultivation to compete with the worn-out and slovenly farm. of the habitant. He often took the very farm which the Canadian settler had abandoned, and, by superior management, made that a source of profit which had only impoverished his predecessor. The ascendancy which an unjust favouritism had contributed to give to the English race in the government and the legal profession, their own superior energy, skill and capital secured to them in every branch of industry. They have developed the resources of the country; they have constructed or improved its means of communication; they have created its internal and foreign commerce. The entire wholesale, and a large portion of the retail trade of the Province, with the most profitable and flourishing farms, are now in the hands of this numerical minority of the population.

In Lower Canada the mere working class which depends on wages, though proportionally large in comparison with that to be found in any other portion of the American continent, is, according to our ideas, very small. Competition between persons of different origin in this class, has not exhibited itself till very recently, and is, even now, almost confined to the cities. The large mass of the labouring population are French in the employ of English capitalists. The more skilled class of artisans are generally English; but in the general run of the more laborious employments, the French Canadians fully hold their ground against English rivalry. The emigration which took place a few years ago, brought in a class which entered into .more direct competition with the French in some kinds of employment

the towns; but the individuals affected by this competition were not very many. I do not believe that the animosity which exists between the working classes of the two origins is the necessary result of a collision of interests, or of a jealousy of the superior success of English labour. But national prejudices naturally exercise the greatest influence over the most uneducated; the difference of language is less easily overcome; the differences of manners and customs less easily appreciated. The labourers, whom the emigration introduced, contained a number of very ignorant, turbulent and demoralized persons, whose conduct and manners alike revolted the well-ordered and courteous natives of the same class. The working men naturally ranged themselves on the side of the educated and wealthy of their own countrymen. When once engaged in the conflict, their passions were less restrained by education and prudence; and the national hostility now rages most fiercely between those whose interests in reality bring them the least in collision.

The two races thus distinct have been brought into the same community, under circumstances which rendered their contact inevitably productive of collision. The difference of language from the first kept them asunder. It is not any where a virtue of the English race to look with complacency on any manners, customs or laws which appear strange to them; accustomed to form a high estimate of their own superiority, they take no pains to conceal from others their contempt and intolerance of their usages. They found the French Canadians filled with an equal amount of national pride; a sensitive, but inactive pride, which disposes that people not to resent insult, but rather to keep aloof from those who would keep them under. The French could not but feel the superiority of English enterprise; they could not shut their eyes to their success in every undertaking in which they came into contact, and to the constant superiority which they were acquiring. They looked upon their rivals with alarm, with jealousy, and finally with hatred. The English repaid them with a scorn, which soon also assumed the same form of hatred. The French complained of the arrogance and injustice of the English; the English accused the French of the vices of a weak and conquered people, and charged them with meanness and perfidy. The entire mistrust which the two- races have thus learned to conceive of each other's intentions, induces them to put the worst construction on the most innocent conduct; to judge every word, every act, and every intention unfairly; to attribute the most odious designs, and reject every overture of kindness or fairness, as covering secret designs of treachery and malignity.

Religion formed no bond of intercourse and union. It is, indeed, an admirable feature of Canadian society, that it is entirely devoid of any religious dissensions. Sectarian intolerance is not merely not avowed, but it hardly seems to influence men's feelings. But though the prudence and liberality of both parties has prevented this fruitful source of animosity from embittering their quarrels, the difference of religion has in fact tended to keep them asunder: Their priests have been distinct; they have not met even in the same church.

No common education has served to remove and soften the differences of origin and language. The associations of youth, the sports of childhood, and the studies by which the character of manhood is modified, are distinct and totally different. In Montreal and Quebec there are English schools and French schools; the children in these are accustomed to fight nation against nation, and the quarrels that arise among boys in the streets usually exhibit a division into English on one side, and French on the other.

As they are taught apart, so are their studies different. The literature with which each is the most conversant, is that of the peculiar language of each; and all the ideas which men derive from books, come to each of them from perfectly different sources. The difference of language in this respect produces effects quite apart from those which it has on the mere intercourse of the two races. Those who have reflected on the powerful influence of language on thought, will perceive in how different a manner people who speak in different languages are apt to think; and those who are familiar with the literature of France, know that the same opinion will be expressed by an English and French writer of the present day, not merely in different words, but in a style so different as to mark utterly different habits of thought. This difference is very striking in Lower Canada; it exists not merely in the books of most influence and repute, which are of course those of the great writers of France and England, and by which the minds of the respective races are formed, but it is observable in the writings which now issue from the colonial press. The articles in the newspapers of each race, are written in a style as widely different as those of France and England at present; and the arguments which convince the one, are calculated to appear utterly unintelligible to the other.

This difference of language produces misconceptions yet more fatal even than those which it occasions with respect to opinions; it aggravates the national animosities, by representing all the events of the day in utterly different lights. The political misrepresentation of facts is one of the incidents of a free press in every free country; but in nations in which all speak the same language, those who receive a misrepresentation from one side, have generally some means of learning the truth from the other. In Lower Canada, however, where the French and English papers represent adverse opinions, and where no large portion of the community can read both languages with ease, those who receive the misrepresentation are rarely able to avail themselves of the means of correction. It is difficult to conceive the perversity with which misrepresentations are habitually made, and the gross delusions which find currency among the people; they thus live in a world of misconceptions, in which each party is set against the other not only by diversity of feelings and opinions, '' but by an actual belief in an utterly different set of facts.

The differences thus early occasioned by education and language, are in no wise softened by the intercourse of after-life; their business and occupations do not bring the two races into friendly contact and co-operation, but only present them to each other in occasional rivalry [...]

The hostility which thus pervades society, was some time growing before it became of prominent importance in the politics of the Province. It was inevitable that such social feelings must end in a deadly political strife. The French regarded with jealousy the influence in politics of a daily increasing body of the strangers, whom they so much disliked and dreaded; the wealthy English were offended at finding that their property gave them no influence over their French dependents, who were acting under the guidance of leaders of their own race; and the farmers and traders of the same race were not long before they began to bear with impatience their utter political nullity in the midst of the majority of a population, whose ignorance they contemned, and whose political views and conduct seemed utterly at variance with their own notions of the principles and practice of self-government. The superior political and practical intelligence of the English cannot be, for a moment, disputed. The great mass of the Canadian population, who cannot read or write, and have found in few of the institutions of their country, even the elements of political education, were obviously inferior to the English settlers, of whom a large proportion had received a considerable amount of education, and had been trained in their own country, to take a part in public business of one kind or another.' With respect to the more educated classes, the superiority is not so general or apparent; indeed from all the information that I could collect, I incline to think that the greater amount of refinement, of speculative thought, and of the knowledge that books can give, is, with some brilliant exceptions, to be found among the French. But I have no hesitation in stating, even more decidedly, that the circumstances in which the English have been placed in Lower Canada, acting on their original political education, have endowed the leaders of that population with much of that practical sagacity, tact, and energy in politics, in which I must say, that the bad institutions of the Colony have, in my opinion, rendered the leaders of the French deplorably deficient. That a race which felt itself thus superior in political activity and intelligence, should submit with patience to the rule of a majority which it could not respect, was impossible. At what time and from what particular cause the hostility between such a majority and such a minority, which was sure sooner or later to break out, actually became of paramount importance, it is difficult to say. The hostility between the Assembly and the British Government had long given a tendency to attacks, on the part of the popular leaders, on the nation to which that government belonged. It is said that the appeals to the national pride and animosities of the French, became more direct and general on the occasion of the abortive attempt to re-unite Upper and Lower Canada in 1822, which the leaders of the Assembly viewed or represented as a blow aimed at the institutions of their Province. The anger of the English was excited by the denunciations of themselves, which, subsequently to this period, they were in the habit of hearing. They had possibly some little sympathy with the members of the provincial government of their own race; and their feelings were, probably, yet more strongly excited in favour of the connexion of the Colony with Great Britain, which the proceedings of the Assembly appeared to endanger. But the abuses existing under the provincial government, gave such inducements to remain in opposition to it, that the representatives of each race continued for a long time to act together against it. And as the bulk of the English population in the townships and on the Ottawa were brought into very little personal contact with the French, I am inclined to think 'that it might have been some time longer, ere the disputes of origin would have assumed an importance paramount to all others, had not the Assembly come into collision with the whole English population by its policy with respect to internal improvements, and to the old and defective laws, which operated as a bar to the alienation of land, and to the formation of associations for commercial purposes.

The English population, an immigrant and enterprising population, looked on the American Provinces as a vast field for settlement and speculation, and in the common spirit of the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of that continent, regarded it as the chief business of the Government, to promote, by all possible use of its legislative and administrative powers, the increase of population and the accumulation of property; they found the laws of real property exceedingly adverse to the easy alienation of land, which is, in a new country, absolutely essential to its settlement and improvement; they found the greatest deficiency in the internal communications of the country, and the utter want of local self-government rendered it necessary for them to apply to the Assembly for every road or bridge, or other public work that was needed; they wished to form themselves into companies for the establishment of banks, and the construction of railroads and canals, and to obtain the powers necessary for the completion of such works with funds of their own. And as the first requisite for the improvement of the country, they desired that a large proportion of the revenue should be applied to the completion of that great series of public works, by which it was proposed to render the Saint Lawrence and the Ottawa navigable throughout their whole extent.

Without going so far as to accuse the Assembly of a deliberate design to check the settlement and improvement of Lower Canada, it cannot be denied that they looked with considerable jealousy and dislike on the increase and prosperity of what they regarded as a foreign and hostile race; they looked on the Province as the patrimony of their own race; they viewed it not as a country to be settled, but as one already settled; and instead of legislating in the American spirit, and first providing for the future population of the Province, their primary care was, in the spirit of legislation which prevails in the old world, to guard the interests and feelings of the present race of inhabitants, to whom they considered the new-comers as subordinate; they refused to increase the burthens of the country by imposing taxes to meet the expenditure required for improvement; and they also refused to direct to that object any of the funds previously devoted to other purposes. The improvement of the harbour of Montreal was suspended, from a political antipathy to a leading English merchant who had been the most active of the Commissioners, and by whom it had been conducted with the most admirable success. It is but just to say that some of the works which the Assembly authorized and encouraged were undertaken on a scale of due moderation, and satisfactorily perfected and brought into operation. Others, especially the great communications which I have mentioned above, the Assembly showed a great reluctance to promote or even to permit. It is true that there was considerable foundation for their objections to the plan on which the Legislature of Upper Canada had commenced some of these works, and to the mode in which it had carried them on; but the English complained, that instead of profiting by the experience which they might have derived from this source, the Assembly seemed only to make its objections a pretext for doing nothing. The applications for banks, railroads and canals were laid on one side until some general measures could be adopted with regard to such undertakings; but the general measures thus promised were never passed, and the particular enterprises in question were prevented. The adoption of a registry was refused on the alleged ground of its inconsistency with the French institutions of the Province, and no measure to attain this desirable end, in a less obnoxious mode, was prepared by the leaders of the Assembly. The feudal tenure was supported, as a mild and just provision for the settlement of a new country; a kind of assurance given by a Committee of the Assembly, that some steps should be taken to remove the most injurious incidents of the seigniorial tenure, produced no practical results; and the enterprises of the English were still thwarted by the obnoxious laws of the country. In all these decisions of the Assembly, in its discussions, and in the apparent motives of its conduct, the English population perceived traces of a desire to repress the influx and the success of their race. A measure for imposing a tax on emigrants, though recommended by the Home Government, and warranted by the policy of those neighbouring states, which give the greatest encouragement to immigration, was argued on such grounds in the Assembly, that it was not unjustly regarded as indicative of an intention to exclude any further accession to the English population; and the industry of the English was thus retarded by this conduct of the Assembly. Some districts, particularly that of the Eastern Townships, where the French race has no footing, were seriously injured by the refusal of necessary improvements; and the English inhabitants generally regarded the policy of the Assembly as a plan for preventing any further emigration to the Province, of stopping the growth of English wealth, and of rendering precarious the English property already invested or acquired in Lower Canada.

The Assembly of which they thus complained, and of which they entertained apprehensions so serious, was at the same time in collision with the executive Government. The party in power, and which, by means of the Legislative Council, kept the Assembly in check, gladly availed itself of the discontents of this powerful and energetic minority, offered it its protection, and undertook the furtherance of its views; and thus was cemented the singular alliance between the English population and the Colonial officials, who combined from perfectly different motives, and with perfectly different objects, against a common enemy. The English desired reform and liberal measures from the Assembly, which refused them, while it was urging other reforms and demanding other liberal measures from the executive Government. The Assembly complained of the oppressive use of the power of the executive; the English complained that they, a minority, suffered under the oppressive use to which power was turned by the French majority. Thus a bold and intelligent democracy was impelled, by its impatience for liberal measures, joined to its national antipathies, to make common cause with a government which was at issue with the majority on the question of popular rights. The actual conflict commenced by a collision between the executive and the French majority; and, as the English population rallied round the Government, supported its pretensions, and designated themselves by the appellation of 'loyal', the causes of the quarrel were naturally supposed to be much more simple than they really were; and the extent of the division which existed among the inhabitants of Lower Canada, the number and nature of the combatants arrayed on each side, and the irremediable nature of the dispute, were concealed from the public view.

The treasonable attempt of the French party to carry its political objects into effect by an appeal to arms, brought these hostile races into general and armed collision. I will not dwell on the melancholy scenes exhibited in the progress of the contest, or the fierce passions which held an unchecked sway during the insurrection, or immediately after its suppression. It is not difficult to conceive how greatly the evils, which I have described as previously existing, have been aggravated by the war; how terror and revenge nourished, in each portion of the population, a bitter and irreconcileable [sic] hatred to each other, and to the institutions of the country. The French population, who had for some time exercised a great and increasing power through the medium of the House of Assembly, found their hopes unexpectedly prostrated in the dust. The physical force which they had vaunted was called into action, and proved to be utterly inefficient. The hope of recovering their previous ascendancy under a constitution, similar to that suspended, almost ceased to exist. Removed from all actual share in the government of their country, they brood in sullen silence over the memory of their fallen countrymen, of their burnt villages, of their ruined property, of their extinguished ascendancy, and of their humbled nationality. To the Government and the English they ascribe these wrongs, and nourish against both an indiscriminating and eternal animosity. Nor have the English inhabitants forgotten in their triumph the terror with which they suddenly saw themselves surrounded by an insurgent majority, and the incidents which alone appeared to save them from the unchecked domination of their antagonists. They find themselves still a minority in the midst of a hostile and organized people; apprehensions of secret conspiracies and sanguinary designs haunt them unceasingly, and their only hope of safety is supposed to rest on systematically terrifying and disabling the French, and in preventing a majority of that race from ever again being predominant in any portion of the legislature of the Province. I describe in strong terms the feelings which appear to me to animate each portion of the population; and the picture which I draw represents, a state of things so little familiar to the personal experience of the people of this country, that many will probably regard it as the work of mere imagination; but I feel confident that the accuracy and moderation of my description will be acknowledged by all who have seen the state of society in Lower Canada during the last year. Nor do I exaggerate the inevitable constancy any more than the intensity of this animosity. Never again will the present generation of French Canadians yield a loyal submission to a British Government; never again will the English population tolerate the authority of a House of Assembly, in which the French shall possess or even approximate to a majority.

Nor is it simply the working of representative government which is placed out of question by the present disposition of the two races; every institution which requires for its efficiency a confidence in the mass of the people, or co-operation between its classes, is practically in abeyance in Lower Canada. The militia, on which the main defence of the Province against external enemies, and the discharge of many of the functions of internal police have hitherto depended, is completely disorganized. A muster of that force would, in some districts, be the occasion for quarrels between the races, and in the greater part of the country the attempting to arm or employ it would be merely arming the enemies of the Government. The course of justice is entirely obstructed by the same cause; a just decision in any political case is not to be relied upon; even the judicial bench is, in the opinion of both races, divided into two hostile sections of French and English, from neither of which is justice expected by the mass of the hostile party. The partiality of grand and petty juries is a matter of certainty; each race relies on the vote of its countrymen to save it harmless from the law, and the mode of challenging allows of. such an exclusion of the hostile party that the French offender may make sure of, and the English hope for a favourable jury, and a consequent acquittal. [. . .]

In such a state of feelings the course of civil government is hopelessly suspended. No confidence can be felt in the stability of any existing institution, or the security of person and property. It cannot occasion surprise that this state of things should have destroyed the tranquillity and happiness of families; that it should have depreciated the value of property, and that it should have arrested the improvement and settlement of the country.

[Part 3 - Concluding analysis of the causes]

[Immediately before the section below, Durham examined the feelings and frustrations of the anglophone population of Quebec and their increasing feeling that they might have to turn to the United States for relief. He quoted an informant that had told him: "Lower Canada must be English, at the expense, if necessary, of not being British". Pp. 59-61]

I do not believe that such a feeling has yet sapped their strong allegiance to the British empire; but their allegiance is founded on their deep-rooted attachment to British as distinguished from French institutions. And if they find that that authority which they have maintained against its recent assailants, is to be exerted in such a manner as to subject them again to what they' call a French dominion, I feel perfectly confident that they would attempt to avert the result, by courting, on any terms, an union with an Anglo-Saxon people.

Such is the lamentable and hazardous state of things produced by the conflict of races which has so long divided the Province of Lower Canada, and which has assumed the formidable and irreconcileable [sic] character which I have depicted. In describing the nature of this conflict, I have specified the causes in which it originated; and though I have mentioned the conduct and constitution of the Colonial Government as modifying the character of the struggle, I have not attributed to political causes a state of things which would, I believe, under any political institutions have resulted from the very composition of society. A jealousy between two races, so long habituated to regard each other with hereditary enmity, and so differing in habits, in language and in laws, would have been . inevitable under any form of government. That liberal institutions and a prudent policy might have changed the character of the struggle I have no doubt; but they could not have prevented it; they could only have softened its character, and brought it more speedily a more decisive and peaceful conclusion. Unhappily, however, the system of government pursued in Lower Canada has been based on the policy of perpetuating that very separation of the races, and encouraging these very notions of conflicting nationalities which it ought to have been the first and chief care of Government to check and extinguish. From the period of the conquest to the present time, the conduct of the Government has aggravated the evil, and the origin of the present extreme disorder may be found in the institutions by which the character of the colony was determined.

There are two modes by which a government may deal with a conquered territory. The first course open to it is that of respecting the rights and nationality of the actual occupants; of recognizing the existing laws, and preserving established, institutions; of giving no encouragement to the influx of the conquering people, and, without attempting any change in the elements of the community, merely incorporating the Province under the general authority of the central Government. The second is that of treating the conquered territory as one open to the conquerors, of encouraging their influx, of regarding the conquered race as entirely subordinate, and of endeavouring as speedily and as rapidly as possible to assimilate the character and institutions of its new subjects to those of the great body of its empire. In the case of an old and long-settled country, in which the land is appropriated, in which little room is left for colonization, and in which the race of the actual occupants must continue to constitute the bulk of the future population of the province, policy as well as humanity render the well-being of the conquered people the first care of a just government, and recommend the adoption of the first-mentioned system; but in a new and unsettled country, a provident legislator would regard as his first object the interests not of the few individuals who happen at the moment to inhabit a portion of the soil, but those of that comparatively vast population by which he may reasonably expect that it will be filled; he would form his plans with a view of attracting and nourishing that future population, and he would therefore establish those institutions which would be most acceptable to the race by which he hoped to colonize the country. The course which I have described as best suited to an old and settled country, would have been impossible in the American continent, unless the conquering state meant to renounce the immediate use of the unsettled lands of the Province; and in this case such a course would have been additionally unadvisable, unless the British Government were prepared to abandon to the scanty population of French whom it found in Lower Canada, not merely the possession of the vast extent of rich soil which that Province contains, but also the mouth of the St. Lawrence, and all the facilities for trade which the entrance of that great river commands.

In the first regulations adopted by the British Government for the settlement of the Canadas, in the Proclamation of 1763, and the Commission of the Governor-in-Chief of the Province of Quebec, in the offers by which officers and soldiers of the British army, and settlers from the other North American Provinces, were tempted to accept grants of land in the Canadas, we perceive very clear indications of an intention of adopting the second and the wiser of the two systems. Unfortunately, however, the conquest of Canada was almost immediately followed by the commencement of those discontents which ended in the independence of the United Provinces. From that period, the colonial policy of this country appears to have undergone a complete change. To prevent the further dismemberment of the Empire became the primary object with our statesmen; and an especial anxiety was exhibited to adopt every expedient which appeared calculated to prevent the remaining North American Colonies from following the example of successful revolt. Unfortunately the distinct national character of the French inhabitants of Canada, and their ancient hostility to the people of New England, presented the easiest and most obvious line of demarcation. To isolate the inhabitants of the British from those of the revolted Colonies, became the policy of the Government; and the nationality of the French Canadians was therefore cultivated, as a means of perpetual and entire separation from their neighbours. It seems also to have been considered the policy of the British Government to govern its colonies by means of division, and to break them down as much as possible into petty isolated communities, incapable of combination, and possessing no sufficient strength for individual resistance to the Empire. Indications of such designs are to be found in many of the acts of the British Government with respect to its North American Colonies. In 1775 instructions were sent from England, directing that all grants of land within the Province of Quebec, then comprising Upper and Lower Canada, were to be made in fief and seigniory; and even the grants to the refugee loyalists, and officers and privates of the colonial corps, promised in 1786, were ordered to be made on the same tenure. In no instance was it more singularly exhibited than in the condition annexed to the grants of land in Prince Edward's Island, by which it was stipulated that the Island was to be settled by `foreign Protestants'; as if they were to be foreign in order to separate them from the people of New England, and Protestants in order to keep them apart from the Canadian and Acadian Catholics. It was part of the same policy to separate the French of Canada from the British emigrants, and to conciliate the former by the retention of their language, laws, and religious institutions. For this purpose Canada was afterwards divided into two Provinces, the settled portion being allotted to the French, and the unsettled being destined to become the seat of British colonization. Thus, instead of' availing itself of the means which the extent and nature of the Province afforded for the gradual introduction of such an English population into its various parts as might have easily placed the French in a minority, the Government deliberately constituted the French into a majority, and recognized and strengthened their indistinct national character. Had the sounder policy of making the Province English, in all its institutions, been adopted from the first, and steadily persevered in, the French would probably have been speedily outnumbered, and the beneficial operation of the free institutions of England would never have been impeded by the animosities of origin.

Not only, however, did the Government adopt the unwise course of dividing Canada, and forming in one of its divisions a French community, speaking the French language, and retaining French institutions, but it did not even carry this consistently into effect; for at the same time provision was made for encouraging the emigration of English into the very Province which was said to be assigned to the French. Even the French institutions were not extended over the whole of Lower Canada. The civil law of France, as a whole, and the legal provision for the Catholic clergy were limited to the portion of the country then settled by the French, and comprised in the seigniories; though some provision was made for the formation of new seigniorips, almost the whole of the then unsettled portion of the Province was formed into townships, in which the law of England was partially established, and the Protestant religion alone endowed. Thus two populations of hostile origin and different characters, were brought into juxtaposition under a common government, but under different institutions; each was taught to cherish its own language, laws and habits, and each, at the same time, if it moved beyond its original limits, was brought under different institutions, and associated with a different people. The unenterprising character of the French population, and, above all, its attachment to its church (for the enlargement of which, in proportion to the increase or diffusion of the Catholic population, very inadequate provision was made) have produced the effect of confining it within its ancient limits. But the English were attracted into the seigniories, and especially into the cities, by the facilities of commerce afforded by the great rivers. To have effectually given the policy of retaining French institutions arid a French population in Lower Canada a fair chance of success, no other institutions should have been allowed, and no other race should have received any encouragement to settle therein. The Province should have been set apart to be wholly French, if it was not to be rendered completely English. The attempt to encourage English emigration into a community, of which the. French character was still to be preserved, was an error which planted the seeds of a contest of races in the very constitution of the Colony; this was an error, I mean, even on the assumption that it was possible to exclude the English race from French Canada. But it was quite impossible to exclude the English race from any part of the North American continent. It will be acknowledged by every one who has observed the progress of Anglo-Saxon colonization in America, that sooner or later the English race was sure to predominate even numerically in Lower Canada, as they predominate already, by their superior knowledge, energy, enterprise and wealth. The error, therefore, to which the present contest must be attributed, is the vain endeavour to preserve a French Canadian nationality in the midst of Anglo-American colonies and states.

That contest has arisen by degrees. The scanty number of the English who settled in Lower Canada during the earlier period of our possession, put out of the question any ideas of rivalry between the races. Indeed, until the popular principles of English institutions were brought effectually into operation, the paramount authority of the Government left little room for dispute among any but the few who contended for its favours. It was not until the English had established a vast trade and accumulated considerable wealth, until a great part of the landed property of the Province was vested in their hands, until a large English population was found in the cities, had scattered itself over large portions of the country, and had formed considerable communities in the townships, and not until the development of representative government had placed substantial power in the hands of the people, that that people divided itself into races, arrayed against each other in intense and enduring animosity.

The errors of the Government did not cease with that, to which I have attributed the origin of this animosity. The defects of the colonial constitution necessarily brought the executive Government into collision with the people; and the disputes of the Government and the people called into action the animosities of race; nor has the policy of the Government obviated the evils inherent in the constitution of the Colony, and the composition of society. It has done nothing to repair its original error, by making the Province English. Occupied in a continued conflict with the Assembly, successive Governors and their councils have overlooked, in great measure, the real importance of the feud of origin; and the Imperial Government, far removed from opportunities of personal observation of the peculiar state of society, has shaped its policy so as to aggravate the disorder. In some instances it has actually conceded the mischievous pretensions of nationality, in order to evade popular claims; as in attempting to divide the Legislative Council, and the patronage of Government, equally between the two races, in order to avoid the demands for an elective Council, and a responsible Executive: sometimes it has, for a while, pursued the opposite course. A policy founded on imperfect information, and conducted by continually changing hands, has exhibited to the Colony a system of vacillation which was in fact no system at all. The alternate concessions to the contending races have only irritated both, impaired the authority of Government, and, by keeping alive the hopes of a French Canadian nationality, counteracted the influences which might, ere this, have brought the quarrel to its natural and necessary termination. It is impossible to determine precisely the respective effects of the social and political causes. The struggle between the Government and the Assembly, has aggravated the animosities of race; and the animosities of race have rendered the political difference irreconcileable. No remedy can be efficient that does not operate upon both evils. At the root of the disorders of Lower Canada, lies the conflict of the two races, which compose its population; until this is settled, no good government is practicable; for whether the political institutions be reformed or left unchanged, whether the powers of the Government be entrusted to the majority or the minority, we may rest assured, that while the hostility of the races continues, whichever of them is entrusted with power, will use it for partial purposes.

[Part 4 - Recommendations - Assimilation and Union (1)]

A plan by which it is proposed to ensure the tranquil government of Lower Canada, must include in itself the means of putting an end to the agitation of national disputes in the legislature, by settling, at once and for ever, the national character of the Province. I entertain no doubts as to the national character which must be given to Lower Canada; it must be that of the British Empire; that of the majority of the population of British America; that of the great race which must, in the lapse of no long period of time, be predominant over the whole North American Continent. Without effecting the change so rapidly or so roughly as to shock the feelings and trample on the welfare of the existing generation, it must henceforth be the first and steady purpose of the British Government to establish an English population, with English laws and language, in this Province, and to trust its government to none but a decidedly English legislature.

It may be said that this is a hard measure to a conquered people; that the French were originally the whole, and still are the bulk of the population of Lower Canada; that the English are new-comers, who have no right to demand the extinction of the nationality of a people, among whom commercial enterprise has drawn them. It may be said, that, if the French are not so civilized, so energetic, or so money-making a race as that by which they are surrounded, they are an amiable, a virtuous, and a contented people, possessing all the essentials of material comfort, and not to be despised or ill-used, because they seek to enjoy what they have, without emulating the spirit of accumulation, which influences their neighbours. Their nationality is, after all, an inheritance; and they must be not too severely punished, because they have dreamed of maintaining on the distant banks of the St. Lawrence, and transmitting to their posterity, the language, the manners, and the institutions of that great nation, that for two centuries gave the tone of thought to the European Continent. If the disputes of the two races are irreconcileable, it may be urged that justice demands that the minority should be compelled to acquiesce in the supremacy of the ancient and most numerous occupants of the Province, and not pretend to force their own institutions and customs on the majority.

But before deciding which of the two races is now to be placed in the ascendant, it is but prudent to inquire which of them must ultimately prevail; for it is not wise to establish today that which must, after a hard struggle, be reversed to-morrow. The pretensions of the French Canadians to the exclusive possession of Lower Canada, would debar the yet larger English population of Upper Canada and the Townships from access to the great natural channel of that trade which they alone have created, and now carry on. The possession of the mouth of the St. Lawrence concerns not only those who happen to have made their settlements along the narrow line which borders it, but all who now dwell, or will hereafter dwell, in the great basin of that river. For we must not look to the present alone. The question is, by what race is it likely that the wilderness which now covers the rich and ample regions surrounding the comparatively small and contracted districts in which the French Canadians are located, is eventually to be converted into a settled and flourishing country? If this is to be done in the British dominions, as in the rest of North America, by some speedier process than the ordinary growth of population, it must be by immigration from the English Isles, or from the United States, - the countries which supply the only settlers that have entered, or will enter, the Canadas in any large numbers. This immigration can neither be debarred from a passage through Lower Canada, nor even be prevented from settling in ' that Province. The whole interior of the British dominions must ere long, be filled with an English population, every year rapidly increasing its numerical superiority over the French. Is it just that the prosperity of this great majority, and of this vast tract of country, should be for ever, or even for a while, impeded by the artificial bar which the backward laws and civilization of a part, and part only, of Lower Canada, would place between them and the ocean? Is it to be supposed that such an English population will ever submit to such a sacrifice of its interests?

I must not, however, assume it to be possible that the English Government shall adopt the course of placing or allowing any check to the influx of English immigration into Lower Canada, or any impediment to the profitable employment of that English capital which is already vested therein. The English have already in their hands the majority of the larger masses of property in the country; they have the decided superiority of intelligence on their side; they have the certainty that colonization must swell their numbers to a majority; and they belong to the race which wields the Imperial Government, and predominates on the American Continent. If we now leave them in a minority, they will never abandon the assurance of being a majority hereafter, and never cease to continue the present contest with all the fierceness with which it now rages. In such a contest they will rely on the sympathy of their countrymen at home; and if that is denied them, they feel very confident of being able to awaken the sympathy of their neighbours of kindred origin. They feel that if the British Government intends to maintain its hold of the Canadas, it can rely on the English population alone that if it abandons its colonial possessions, they must become a portion of that great Union which will speedily send forth its swarms of settlers, and, by force of numbers and activity, quickly master every race. The French Canadians, on the other hand, are but the remains of an ancient colonization, and are and ever must be isolated in the midst of an Anglo-Saxon world. Whatever may happen, whatever government shall be established over them, British or American, they can see no hope for their nationality. They can only sever themselves from the British Empire by waiting till some general cause of dissatisfaction alienates them, together with the surrounding colonies, and leaves them part of an English confederacy; or, if they are able, by effecting a: separation singly, and so either merging in the American Union, or keeping up for a few years a wretched semblance of feeble independence, which would expose them more than ever to the intrusion of the surrounding population. I am far from wishing to encourage indiscriminately these pretensions to superiority on the part of any particular race; but while the greater part of every portion of the American Continent is still uncleared and unoccupied, and while the English exhibit such constant and marked activity in colonization, so long will it be idle to imagine that there is any portion of that Continent into which that race will not penetrate, or in which, when it has penetrated, it will not predominate. It is but a question of time and mode; it is but to determine whether the small number of French who now inhabit Lower Canada shall be made English, under a Government which can protect them, or whether the process shall be delayed until a much larger number shall have to undergo, at the rude hands of its uncontrolled rivals, the extinction of a nationality strengthened and embittered by continuance.

And is this French Canadian nationality one which, for the good merely of that people, we ought to strive to perpetuate, even if it were possible? I know of no national distinctions marking and continuing a more hopeless inferiority. The language, the laws, the character of the North American Continent are English; and every race but the English (I apply this to all who speak the English language) appears there in a condition of inferiority. It is to elevate them from that inferiority that I desire to give to the Canadians our English character. I desire it for the sake of the educated classes, whom the distinction of language and manners keeps apart from the great Empire to which they belong. At the best, the fate of the educated and aspiring colonist is, at present, one of little hope, and little activity; but the French Canadian is cast still further into the shade, by a language and habits foreign to those of the Imperial Government. A spirit of exclusion has closed the higher professions on the educated classes of the French Canadians, more, perhaps, than was absolutely necessary; but it is impossible for the utmost liberality on the part of the British Government to give an equal position in the general competition of its vast population to those who speak a foreign language. I desire the amalgamation still more for the sake of the humbler classes. Their present state of rude and equal plenty is fast deteriorating under the pressure of population in the narrow limits to which they are confined. If they attempt to better their condition, by extending themselves over the neighbouring country, they will necessarily get more and more mingled with an English population: if they prefer remaining stationary, the greater part of them must be labourers in the employ of English capitalists. In either case it would appear, that the great mass of the French Canadians are doomed, in some measure, to occupy an inferior position, and to be dependent on the English for employment. The evils of poverty and dependence would merely be aggravated in a ten-fold degree, by a spirit of jealous and resentful nationality, which should separate the working class of the community from the possessors of wealth and employers of labour.

I will not here enter into the question of the effect of the mode of life and division of property among the French Canadians on the happiness of the people. I will admit, for the moment, that it is as productive of well-being as its admirers assert. But, be it good or bad, the period in which it is practicable, is past; for there is not enough unoccupied land left in that portion of the country in which English are not already settled, to admit of the present French population possessing farms sufficient to supply them with their present means of comfort, under their system of husbandry. No population has increased by mere births so rapidly as that of the French Canadians has since the conquest. At that period their number was estimated at 60,000; it is now supposed to amount to more than seven times as many. There has been no proportional increase in cultivation, or of produce from the land already under cultivation; and the increased population has been in a great measure provided for by mere continued subdivision of estates. In a Report from a Committee of the Assembly in 1826, of which Mr. Andrew Steuart was chairman, it is stated, that since 1784 population of the seigniories had quadrupled, while the number of cattle had only doubled, and the quantity of land in cultivation had only increased one-third. Complaints of distress are constant, and the deterioration of the condition of a great part of the population admitted on all hands. A people so circumstanced must alter their mode of life. If they wish to maintain the same kind of rude, but well-provided agricultural existence, it must be by removing into those parts of the country in which the English are settled; or if they cling to their present residence, they can only obtain a livelihood by deserting their present employment, and working for wages on farms, or in commercial occupations under English capitalists. But their present proprietary and inactive condition is one which no political arrangements can perpetuate. Were the French Canadians to be guarded from the influx of any other population, their condition in a few years would be similar to that of the poorest of the Irish peasantry.

There can hardly be conceived a nationality more destitute of all that can invigorate and elevate a people, than that which is exhibited by the descendants of the French in Lower Canada, owing to their retaining their peculiar language and manners. They are a people with no history, and no literature. The literature of England is written in a language which is not theirs; and the only literature which their language renders familiar to them, is that of a nation from which they have been separated by eighty years of a foreign rule, and still more by those changes which the Revolution and its consequences have wrought in the whole political, moral and social state of France, Yet it is on a people whom recent history, manners and modes oP thought, so entirely separate from them, that the French Canadians are wholly dependent for almost all the instruction and amusement derived from books: it is on this essentially foreign literature, which is conversant about events, opinions and habits of life, perfectly strange and unintelligible to them, that they are compelled to be dependent. Their newspapers are mostly written by natives of France, who have either come to try their fortunes in the Province, or been brought into it by the party leaders, in order to supply the dearth of literary talent available for the political press. In the same way their nationality operates to deprive them of the enjoyments and civilizing influence of the arts. Though descended from the people in the world that most generally love, and have most successfully cultivated the drama - though living on a continent, in which almost every town, great or small, has an English theatre, the French population of Lower Canada, cut off from every people that speaks its own language, can support no national stage.

In these circumstances. I should be indeed surprised if the more reflecting part of the French Canadians entertained at present any hope of continuing to preserve their nationality. Much as they struggle against it, it is obvious that the process of assimilation to English habits is already commencing. The English language is gaining ground, as the language of the rich and of the employers of labour naturally will. It appeared by some of the few returns, which had been received by the Commissioner of the Inquiry into the state of Education, that there are about ten times the number of French children in Quebec learning English, as compared with the English children who learn French. A considerable time must, of course, elapse before the change of a language can spread over a whole people; and justice and policy alike require, that while the people continue to use the French language, their Government should take no such means to force the English language upon them as would, in fact, deprive the great mass of the community of the protection of the laws. But, I repeat that the alteration of the character of the Province ought to be immediately entered on, and firmly, though cautiously, followed up; that in any plan, which may be adopted for the future management of Lower Canada, the first object ought to be that of making it an English Province; and that, with this end in view, the ascendancy should never again be placed in any hands but those of an English population. Indeed, at the present moment this is obviously necessary: in the state of mind in which I have described the French Canadian population, as not only now being, but as likely for a long while to remain, the trusting them with alt entire. control over this Province, would be, in-fact, only facilitating a rebellion. Lower Canada must be governed now, as it must be hereafter; by an English population: and thus the policy, which the necessities of the moment force on us, is in accordance with that suggested by a comprehensive view of the future and permanent improvement of the Province.

The greater part of the plans which have been proposed for the future Government of Lower Canada, suggest either as a lasting or as a temporary and intermediate scheme, that the Government of that Province should be constituted on an entirely despotic footing, or on one that would vest it entirely in the hands of the British minority. It is proposed either to place the legislative authority in a Governor, with a Council formed of the heads of the British party, or to contrive some scheme of representation by which a minority, with the forms of representation, is to deprive a majority of all voice in the management of its own affairs.

The maintenance of an absolute form of government on any part of the North American Continent, can never continue for any long time, without exciting a general feeling in the United States against a power of which the existence is secured by means so odious to the people; and as I rate the preservation of the present general sympathy of the United States with the policy of our Government in Lower Canada, as a matter of the greatest importance, I should be sorry that the feeling should be changed for one which, if prevalent among the people, must extend over the surrounding Provinces. The influence of such an opinion would not. only act very strongly on the entire French population, and keep up among them a sense of injury, and a determination of resistance to the Government, but would lead to just as great discontent among the English. In their present angry state of feeling, they might tolerate, for a while, any arrangement that would give them a triumph over the French; but I have greatly misunderstood their character, if they would long bear a Government in which they had no direct voice. Nor would their jealousy be obviated by the selection of a Council from the persons supposed to have their confidence. It is not easy to know who really possess that confidence; and I suspect that there would be no surer way of depriving a man of influence over them, than by treating him as their representative, without their consent.

The experience which we have had of a Government irresponsible to the people in these Colonies, does not justify us in believing that it would be very well administered. And the great reforms in the institutions of the Province which must be made, ere Lower Canada can ever be a well-ordered and flourishing community, can be effected by no legislature which does not represent a great mass of public opinion.

But the great objection to any government of an absolute kind is, that it is palpably of a temporary nature; that there is no reason to believe that its influence during the few years that it would be permitted to last, would leave the people at all more fit to manage themselves; that, on the contrary, being a mere temporary institution, it would be deficient in that stability which is the great requisite of government in times of disorder. There is every reason to believe that a professedly irresponsible government would be the weakest that could be devised. Every one of its acts would be discussed, not in the Colony, but in England, on utterly incomplete and incorrect information, and run the chance of being disallowed without being understood. The most violent outcry that could be raised by persons looking at them through the medium of English and constitutional notions, or by those who might hope thereby to promote the sinister purposes of faction at home, would be constantly directed against them. Such consequences as these are inevitable. The people of England are not accustomed to rely on the honest and discreet exercise of absolute power; and if they permit a despotism to be established in their Colonies, they feel bound, when their attention happens to be directed towards them, to watch its acts with vigilance. The Governor and Council would feel this responsibility in all their acts; unless they happened to be men of much more than ordinary nerve and earnestness, they would shape their policy so as merely to avoid giving a handle to attacks; and their measures would exhibit all that uncertainty and weakness which such a motive is sure to produce.

With respect to every one of those plans which propose to make the English minority an electoral majority by means of new and strange modes of voting or unfair divisions of the country, I shall only say, that if the Canadians are to be deprived of representative government, it would be better to do it in a straightforward way than to establish a permanent system of government on the basis of what all mankind would regard as mere electoral frauds. It is not in North America that men can be cheated by an unreal semblance of representative government, or persuaded that they are out-voted, when, in fact, they are disfranchised.

The only power that can be effectual at once in coercing the present disaffection, and hereafter obliterating the nationality of the French Canadians, is that of a numerical majority of a loyal and English population; and the only stable government will be one more popular than any that has hitherto existed in the North American Colonies. The influence of perfectly equal and popular institutions in effacing distinctions of race without disorder or oppression, and with little more than the ordinary animosities of party in a free country, is memorably exemplified in the history of the state of Louisiana, the laws and population of which were French at the time of its cession to the American Union. And the eminent success of the policy adopted with regard to that State, points out to us the means by which a similar result can be effected in Lower Canada.

I believe that no permanent or efficient remedy can be devised for the disorders of Lower Canada, except a fusion of the Government in that of one or more of the surrounding Provinces; and as I am of the opinion that the full establishment of responsible government can only be permanently secured by giving these Colonies an increased importance in the politics of the Empire, I find in union the only means of remedying at once and completely the two prominent causes of their present unsatisfactory condition.

Two kinds of union have been proposed, - federal and legislative [… Originally Durham had been favourable to a federal union. However, he had progressively become aware of the difficulties involved in such a project. He had hoped that such a federal plan 'while conciliating the French of Lower Canada, by leaving them the government of their own Province and their own internal legislation, I might provide for the protection of British interests by the general government, and for the gradual transition of the Provinces into a united and homogeneous community']

Recommendations - Assimilation and Union (2)

But the period of gradual transition is past in Lower Canada. In the present state of feeling among the French population, I cannot doubt that any power which they might possess would be used against the policy and the very existence of any form of British government. I cannot doubt that any French Assembly that shall again meet in Lower Canada will use whatever power, be it more or less limited, it may have, to obstruct the Government, and undo whatever has been done by it. Time, and the honest co-operation of the various parties, would be required to aid the action of a federal constitution; and time is not allowed, in the present state of Lower Canada, nor co-operation to be expected from a legislature, of which the majority shall represent its French inhabitants. I believe that tranquillity [sic] can only be restored by subjecting the Province to the vigorous rule of an English majority; and that the only efficacious government would be that formed by a legislative union.

If the population of Upper Canada is rightly estimated at 400,000, the English inhabitants of Lower Canada at 150,000, and the French at 450,000, the union of the two Provinces would not only give a clear English majority, but one which would be increased every year by the influence of English emigration; and I have little doubt that the French, when once placed, by the legitimate course of events and the working of natural causes, in a minority, would abandon their vain hopes of nationality. I do not mean that they would immediately give up their present animosities, or instantly renounce the hope of attaining their end by violent means. But the experience of the two Unions in the British Isles may teach us how effectually the strong arm of a popular legislature would compel the obedience of the refractory population; and the hopelessness of success, would gradually subdue the existing animosities, and incline the French Canadian population to acquiesce in their new state of political existence. I certainly should not like to subject the French Canadians to the rule of the identical English minority with which they have so long been contending; but from a majority, emanating from so much more extended a source, I do not think they would have any oppression or injustice to fear; and in this case, the far greater part of the majority never having been brought in to previous collision, would regard them with no animosity that could warp their natural sense of equity. The endowments of the Catholic Church in Lower Canada, and the existence of all its present laws, until altered by the united legislature, might be secured by stipulations similar to those adopted in the Union between England and Scotland. I do not think that the subsequent history of British legislation need incline us to believe, that the nation which has a majority in a popular legislature, is likely to use its power to tamper very hastily with the laws of the people to which it is united.

The union of the two Provinces would secure to Upper Canada the present great objects of its desire. All disputes as to the division or amount of the revenue would cease. The surplus revenue of Lower Canada would supply the deficiency of that part of the upper Province; and the Province thus placed beyond the possibility of locally jobbing the surplus revenue, which it cannot reduce, would, I think, gain as much by the arrangement as the Province, which would thus find a means of paying the interest of its debt. Indeed it would be by-no means unjust to place this burthen on Lower Canada, inasmuch as the great public works for which the debt was contracted, are as much the concern of one Province as of the other. Nor is it to be supposed that, whatever may have been the mismanagement, in which a great part of the debt originated, the canals of Upper Canada will always be a source of loss, instead of profit. The completion of the projected and necessary line of public works would be promoted by such a union. The access to the sea would be secured to Upper Canada. The saving of public money, which would be ensured by the union of various establishments in the two Provinces, would supply the means of conducting the general Government on a more efficient scale than it has yet been carried on. And the responsibility of the executive would be secured by the increased weight which the representative body of the United Province would bring to bear on the Imperial Government and legislature.

But while I convince myself that such desirable ends would be secured by the legislative union of .the two Provinces, I am inclined to go further, and inquire whether all these objects would not. more surely be attained, by extending this legislative union over all the British Provinces in North America; and whether the advantages which I anticipate for two of them, might not, and should not in justice be extended over all. Such a union would at once decisively settle the question of races; it would enable all the Provinces to co-operate for àll common purposes; and, above all, it would form a great and powerful people, possessing the means of securing good and responsible government for itself, and which, under the protection of the British Empire, might in some measure counterbalance the preponderant and increasing influence of the United States on the American Continent. I do not anticipate that a colonial legislature thus strong and thus self-governing, would desire to abandon the connexion with Great Britain. On the contrary, I believe that the practical relief from undue interference, which would be the result of such a change, would strengthen the present bond of feelings and interests; and that the connexion would only become more durable and advantageous, by having more of equality, of freedom, and of local independence. But at any rate, our first duty is to secure the well-being of our colonial countrymen; and if in the hidden decrees of that wisdom by which this world is ruled, it is written, that these countries are not for ever to remain portions of the Empire, we owe it to our honour to take good care that, when they separate from us, they should not be the only countries on the American Continent in which the Anglo-Saxon race shall be found unfit to govern itself.

I am, in truth, so far from believing that the increased power and weight that would be given to these Colonies by union would endanger their connexion with the Empire, that I look to it as the only means of fostering such a national feeling throughout them as would effectually counterbalance whatever tendencies may now exist towards separation. No large community of free and intelligent men will long feel contented with a political system which places them, because it places their country, in a position of inferiority to their neighbours: .The colonist of Great Britain is linked, it is true, to a mighty Empire; and the glories of its history, the visible signs of its present power, and the civilization of its people, are calculated to raise and gratify his national pride. But he feels, also, that his link to that Empire is one of remote dependence; he catches but passing and inadequate glimpses of its power and prosperity; he knows that in its government he and his own countrymen have no voice. While his neighbour on the other side of the frontier assumes importance, from the notion that his vote exercises some influence on the councils, and that he himself has some share in the onward progress of a mighty nation, the colonist feels the deadening influence of the narrow and subordinate community to which he belongs. In his own, and in the surrounding Colonies, he finds petty objects occupying petty, stationary and divided societies; and it is only when the chances of an uncertain and tardy communication bring intelligence of what has passed a month before on the other side of the Atlantic, that he is reminded of the Empire with which he is connected. But the influence of the United States surrounds him on every side, and is for ever present. It extends itself as population augments and intercourse increases; it penetrates every portion of the continent into which the restless spirit of American speculation impels the settler or the trader; it is felt in all the transactions of commerce, from the important operations of the monetary system down to the minor details of ordinary traffic; it stamps, on all the habits and opinions of the surrounding countries, the common characteristics of the thoughts, feelings and customs of the American people. Such is necessarily the influence which a great nation exercises on the small communities which surround it. its thoughts and manners subjugate them, even when nominally independent of its authority. If we wish to prevent the extension of this influence, it can only be done by raising up for the North American colonist some nationality of his own; by elevating these small and unimportant communities into a society having some objects of a national importance; and by thus giving their inhabitants a country which they will be unwilling to see absorbed even into one more powerful.

While I believe that the establishment of a comprehensive system of government, and of an effectual union between the different Provinces, would produce this important effect on the general feelings of their inhabitants, I am inclined to attach very great importance to the influence which it would have in giving greater scope and satisfaction to the legitimate ambition of the: most active and prominent persons to be found in them. As long as personal ambition is inherent in human nature, and as long as the morality of every free and civilized community encourages its aspirations, it is one great business of a wise Government to provide for its legitimate development. If, as it is commonly asserted, the disorders of these Colonies have, in great measure, been fomented by the influence of designing and ambitious individuals, this evil will best be remedied by allowing such a scope for the desires of such men as shall direct their ambition into the legitimate chance of furthering, and not of thwarting, their Government. By creating high prizes in a general and responsible Government, we shall immediately afford the means of pacifying the turbulent ambitions, and of employing in worthy and noble occupations the talents which now are only exerted to foment disorder. We must remove from these Colonies the cause to which the sagacity of Adam Smith traced the alienation of the Provinces which now form the United States: we must provide some scope for what he calls ‘the importance’ of the leading men in the Colony, beyond what he forcibly terms the present ‘petty prizes of the paltry raffle of colonial faction’. A general legislative union would elevate and gratify the hopes of able and aspiring men. They would no longer look with envy and wonder at the great arena of the bordering federation, but see the means of satisfying every legitimate ambition in the high offices of the Judicature and executive Government of their own Union.

Nor would a union of the various Provinces be less advantageous in facilitating a co-operation for various common purposes, of which the want is now very seriously felt. There is hardly a department of the business of government which does not require, or would not be better performed, by being carried on under the superintendence of a general Government; and when we consider the political and commercial interests that are common to these Provinces, it appears difficult to account for their having ever been divided into separate Governments, since they have all been portions of the same Empire, subject to the same Crown, governed by nearly the same laws and constitutional customs, inhabited, with one exception, by the same race, contiguous and immediately adjacent to each other, and bounded along their whole frontier by the territories of the same powerful and rival State. It would appear that every motive that has induced the union of various Provinces into a single State, exists for the consolidation of these Colonies under a common legislature and executive. They have the same common relation to the mother country; the same relation to foreign nations. When one is at war, the others are at war; and the hostilities that are caused by an attack on one, must seriously compromise the welfare of the rest. Thus the dispute between Great Britain and the State of Maine, appears immediately to involve the interests of none of these Colonies, except New Brunswick or Lower Canada, to one of which the territory claimed by us must belong. But if a war were to commence on this ground, it is most probable that the American Government would select Upper Canada as the most vulnerable, or, at any rate, as the easiest point of attack. A dispute respecting the fisheries of Nova Scotia would involve precisely the same consequences. A union for common defence against foreign enemies is the natural bond of connexion that holds together the great communities of the world; and between no parts of any Kingdom or State is the necessity for such an union more obvious than between the whole of these Colonies.

Their internal relations furnish quite as strong motives for union. The Post Office is at the present moment under the management of the same Imperial establishment. If, in compliance with the reasonable demands of the Colonies, the regulation of a matter so entirely of internal concern, and the revenue derived from it, were placed under the control of the provincial legislatures, it would still be advisable that the management of the Post Office throughout the whole of British. North America should be conducted by one general establishment. In the same way, so great is the influence on the other Provinces of the arrangements adopted with respect to the disposal of public lands and colonization in any one, that it is absolutely essential .that this department of government should be conducted on one system, and by one authority. The necessity of common fiscal regulations is strongly felt by all the Colonies; and a common custom-house establishment would relieve them from the hindrances to their trade, caused by the duties now levied on all commercial intercourse between them. The monetary and banking system of all is subject to the same influences, and ought to be regulated by the same laws. The establishment of a common colonial currency is very generally desired. Indeed, I know of no department of government that would not greatly gain, both in economy and efficiency, by being placed under a common management. I should not propose, at first, to alter the existing public establishments of the different Provinces, because the necessary changes had better be left to be made by the united Government; and the judicial establishments should certainly not be disturbed until the future legislature shall provide for their re-construction, on an uniform and permanent footing. But even in the administration of justice, an union would immediately supply a remedy for one of the most serious wants under which all the Provinces labour, by facilitating the formation of a general appellate tribunal for all the North American Colonies.

But the interests which are already in common between all these Provinces are small in comparison with those which the consequences of such an union might, and I think I may say assuredly would, call into existence; and the great discoveries of modern art; which have throughout the world, and no where more than in America, entirely altered the character and the channels of communication between distant countries, will bring all the North American Colonies into constant and speedy intercourse with each other. The success of the great experiment of steam navigation across the Atlantic, opens a prospect of a speedy communication with Europe, which will materially affect the future state of all these Provinces. In a Dispatch which arrived in Canada after my departure, the Secretary of State informed me of the determination of Your Majesty's Goverment to establish a steam communication between Great Britain and Halifax; and instructed me to turn, my attention to the formation of a road between that port and Quebec. ,It wogld, indeed, have given me sincere satisfaction, had I remained in the Province, to promote, hy any means in my power, so highly desirable an object; and the removal of the usual restrictions on my authority as Governor-General, having given me the means of effectually acting in concert with the various provincial Governments, I might have been able to make some progress in the work. But I cannot point out more strikingly the evils of the present want of a general Government for these Provinces, than by adverting to the difficulty which would practically occur, under the previous and present arrangements of both executive and legislative authorities in the various Provinces, in attempting to carry such a plan into effect. For the various Colonies have no more means of concerting such common works with each other, than with the neighbouring States of the Union. They stand to one another in the position of foreign States; and. of foreign States without diplomatic relations. The Governors ; may correspond with each other: the legislatures may enact laws, carrying the common purposes into effect in their respective jurisdictions; but there is no means by which the various details may speedily and satisfactorily be settled with the concurrence of the different parties. And, in this instance, it must be recollected that the communication and the final settlement ' would have to be made between, not two, but several of the Provinces. The road would run through three of them; and Upper Canada, into which it would not enter, would; in fact, be more interested in- the completion of such a work than any even of the Provinces through which it would pass. The Colonies, indeed, have no common centre in which the arrangement could be made, except in the Colonial Office, at home; and the details of such a plan would have to be discussed just where the interests of all parties would have the least means of being fairly and fully represented, and where the minute local knowledge necessary for such a matter would be least likely to be found.