« ZurückWeiter »
years of war, England would have had the advantage, she would have distressed America most cruelly ; but in so doing she would have turned the poisoned chalice to her own lips; for while success itself would be her destruction, would assist in leading her to irretrievable bankruptcy, or its alternative, repudiation, America would arise from the contest like a young giant; in twenty years after the cessation of hostilities, she would have forgotten them and their effects; her cities would have arisen from their ashes, more fair to look upon than they were before, and her people would again be rejoicing in lavish abundance.
England, unhappily for her, has more than enough to do in India and in Africa; she has, besides, her difficulties at home; and these considerations, were they the only ones, should have dictated the policy of her letting Oregon alone now and for ever. Should she unwisely sound the war whoop in North America, Canada will instantly respond to the challenge. The tenure of Great Britain in that province daily becomes more and more frail. By a singular justice they who first re
deemed these Territories from a state of nature still possess them. England holds the Canadas by the influence of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy alone. The Sulpicians of Montreal are her Vice-gerents ; the Governor has only an honourable and troublesome sinecure. The enormous wealth of this magnificent Priesthood, who have possessed the Island of Montreal for upwards of two centuries, their wisdom, benevolence, and power keep the provinces' under sway; and the home Government acts well and wisely to leave them in possession of all their immunities, and all their privileges. All the charitable institutions and the educational establishments are conducted by them on the best arrangements; and I have seen two thousand children at their studies in the Schools of the Christian Brothers. In the Priesthood also, as is the case in all Catholic countries, is vested the keeping and guiding of the consciences of the people. The wisdom and statesman-like prudence of Lord Metcalfe, saw perfectly this position of Canada. When I had the honour of dining with that exalted personage, M. Quiblier, the Vicar General of the Order, and the Superior of the
Seminary, with his Secretary, were present, and none of the guests at that hospitable table were more honoured than the accomplished Priest.*
The French Canadians abhor the British whether they are of English or of Canadian descent and birth; they never call them Canadians, and in Montreal the two nations form a distinct local society; of which the French or Canadian is esteemed the best, independently of the officers of the Vice-Government. The Military, as far as I could understand, were eminently unpopular.
The slightest encouragement on the part of this all powerful Priesthood would induce the Canadians to declare themselves independent of the Mother, or more truly of the Step-Mother country (for the Canadians do not owe their birth to England, but
* Since his return to Canada, M. Papineau has been a guest at Monklands, and has also accepted a Government office. I had the pleasure of seeing this gentleman the day after his arrival at Montreal, in the society of M. Louis La Fontaine, with whose charming wife I was intimately acquainted. M. Papineau is a man of mild manners and pleasing conversation. M. La Fontaine bears an extraordinary resemblance to the busts and portraits of Napoleon Buonaparte. He has the same spiritual paleness of complexion. Madame La Fontaine had the kindness to accom. pany me in my visits to the Catholic Communities in Montreal. I was placed under her care by the amiable Bishop Bourget, of that Diocese.
to France; they are merely English by cession). I do not imagine that they would at first annex themselves to the United States, because they were originally children of France, called by her name,* and still revere the names of Francis the First, and of Louis the Great. The national admiration for the person and state of the Grand Monarque, obsolete in all the world, save here, combined with a certain prejudice against the Americans, would in all probability keep them for some time a separate People, under another and a less republican form of government.
The Canadas are suffering from the ill effects of a deputed Government; a system inherently vicious ; they cost England immense sums annually-more than their commerce is worth; and since the universal adoption of Free Trade measures, it is difficult to assign a reason for keeping them. Canada herself would be infinitely more prosperous as an independent country than as a colony of England. The Canadians are not blind to this ; they are patiently waiting till English capital shall have completed their public works, and as soon as
* La Nouvelle France.
opportunity is granted they will rally round the