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LORD DURHAM'S REPORT.*
This document is certainly a very able production, and fully merits the high eulogiums which were promptly pronounced upon it by the liberal press of England on its first .ppearance. were an ungracious task, and one for which we have but little inelination, to attempt to discriminate nicely, in bestowing this general meed of praise, between the ostensible and, possibly if not probably, the real authors of the Report. It is well known, indeed, that Lord Durham had attached to his commission, in the most confidential relation of advisers and assistants, two or three gentlemen of most consummate ability, as well as of that enlarged and liberal tone of political sentiment which characterizes the present Radical party of England, and which is remarkably transparent through the pages of this document. One of whom, Mr. Turton-whose name is unfortunately darkened nevertheless by an act of domestic immorality which no splendor of abilities can ever redeem, in that healthful moral sense of the community which, at the present day, we rejoice to say, constitutes a large element of that public opinion in which public men live, move, and have their being-has recently received from Lord Brougham, in the House of Lords, a testimonial of eulogy to his distinguished abilities and general integrity of character, which, from such a source, is praise indeed. It is impossible, of course, to ascertain the exact proportions in which the credit of the authorship of this production, which is the general résumé and sum total of the whole expedition, is to be distributed between the different individuals whose proper office and duty it was to assist in its production. It is certainly a much abler work, and marked by a much more expansive and liberal view of the principles which have been at work to bring the Canadas to their present miserable pass, than, from his private reputation and his actual course as Governor General, we should have supposed Lord Durham capable ef. However, we have no desire to pry behind the scenes into the mysteries of the coulisses and the greenroom; and are quite wilKing to give him the benefit of the old maxim of law, that de non apparentibus et de non existentibus eadem est ratio; and will therefore say, the more cheerfully, as we have formerly somewhat strongly expressed our distrust of him, that Lord Durham appears, by this production, a statesman of a high order, of a strong and
Report on the Affairs of British North America, from the Earl of Durham, her Majesty's High Commissioner, &c. &c. &c. (Presented by her Majesty's command.) Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be printed, 11th February, 1839..
comprehensive grasp of mind, and of a liberal, enlightened and philanthropic cast of political character, as well as being equally entitled to the inferior distinction of elegance, vigor and clearness as a writer. It will place him in a very favorable attitude relatively to the liberal party at home; and if he should yet turn out to be the man for the noble and brilliant mission of heading that party in the great work of peaceful, civil revolution in which it is engaged, it will do more than the whole previous course of his public hie, to elevate him to that position by proving his competency for it.
We have read the Report with the deepest attention, and with great satisfaction at the full and authoritative testimony which it bears to the general correctness of the views heretofore expressed by the Democratic Review in relation to the Canadas, their past history and future prospects. We by no means regard it as free from imperfections, and recognize in it more than one marked trace of British prejudice, and of the "official" influence by which Lord Durham was surrounded in the Canadas, and by which his actual conduct in his government, however disposed he may have been to keep himself aloof from and above it, was, in point of fact, substantially controlled. It is easy, however, to take these parts with the due allowance; and, with such ample materials of facts and sound views as the Report on the whole presents, to extract, from the very portions in which we can observe the imperfections and errors naturally consequent upon these influences, additional confirmation of the general truths to which, as already remarked, it bears so signal and satisfactory a testimony. In addition to the beneficial influence it is calculated to produce at home, we hope, too, that it will not be without its useful effect, on this side of the water, in putting to shame the flippant ignorance, and the selfish illiberality, which have been so disgracefully exhibited, by a large portion of the American press, in their discourses upon the "pretended grievances" of the Canadians, under the "free and paternal government" of the English ascendency. But, before proceeding to any remarks upon it, it will doubtless be acceptable to our readers that we should lay before them as brief an analysis and summary of the document itself as will suffice to place them in possession of its substance; since its great length (making a document of a hundred and twenty of the large folio pages in which the English parliamentary papers are printed) must make it accessible only to but a very few equal to the undertaking of encountering a state paper of such formidable dimensions. It has not moreover been reprinted in this country, strangely enough we must say, considering the political importance of the document and the interest of the subject to so large a portion of contiguous territory, and the huge amount of English trash with which we are daily crammed by our publishers.
The Report is divided into several distinct portions, under the following titles: 1st, Lower Canada; 2d, Upper Canada; 3d, the Eastern Provinces and Newfoundland; 4th, Disposal of Public Lands. 5th, Emigration,-followed by a general conclusion, recapitulating the outlines of the ground already gone over, and developing the plan of re-organization of the colonies which he proposes, as the only possible remedy for the accumulated disorders which have grown out of a long course of misgovernment, dating back from the conquest of the country. To the whole is added an Appendix, of upwards of sixty pages, containing various illustrative documents, and the addresses of public bodies to Lord Durham on the occasion of his retirement.
1. In the portion relating to Lower Canada, the Report sets out with the statement, that the struggle which has so long agitated the Province is not a mere political contest between the people and government, as he had supposed. Bad as the institutions of the Province were, and serious as were those "defects, in the spirit and practice of the administration in every department of the government, that were quite sufficient to account for a great degree of mismanagement and dissatisfaction," yet for the peculiar and disastrous dissensions of this Province, he soon became satisfied that there existed "a far deeper and 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 grievances of this unhappy Province. I expected says Lord Durham, "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."
He then devotes a large portion of the reoprt to the object of proving and illustrating this position. He says that this national hostility is not a mere aggravation of political discontents; but that all the particular dissensions that arise 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. He acknowledges that it is only of late years that this national hostility has assumed its permanent influence; 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 proportion of the purely English population, have been found constantly voting with the majority of the Assembly against what is called the British party." But he considers that such results have been chiefly produced by temporary and local causes; and that the tendency of the English population has been constantly increasing towards the support of the Government, the ancient English leaders of the popular party, one by one, falling off from the majority, and every election in the eastern townships adding to the "English minority." It should here be observed, however, that Lord Durham is not able, even in these townships, "removed," as he styles them, "from all contact with the French," to give to the Government party any other designation than "the English minority." The "insurrection," as he terms it, "of 1837, has completed the division; and since the resort to arms the two races have been, he says, distinctly and completely arrayed against each other, no portion of the English population being backward in taking arms in defence of the Government, and no portion of the Canadian population being allowed to do so, from the certainty that they would turn them against it.
The report then proceeds to draw a general outline of the long civil struggle of parties, based, as he states, on the ground of this national animosity-a ground which both parties, he says, disclaim, as "too revolting to the notions of good sense and charity prevalent in the civilized world." And Lord Durham undertakes to draw a nice distinction, to which it is very difficult to yield assent, between the means and the objects of the respective parties. The French Canadians, he says, "being a majority, 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. " "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," continues the Report," when we look to the object of each party, the analogy to our 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."
What is this, but the old threadbare excuse of all aristocracies and oligarchies for resisting the demand of popular reform?
The instance which he cites in illustration of this assertion, is the Assembly's refusal to establish registry offices, and to commute the feudal tenures; yet at the same time he acknowledges that it was among the ablest and most influential leaders of the English that he found some of the opponents of both the proposed reforms; that the leaders of the French were anxious to disclaim any hostility to these reforms themselves, the reluctance heretofore exhibited by the Assembly to entertain these questions being but the result of the "extraordinary influence" over it of Mr. Papineau; that the mass of the French population strongly desired them, and that these very reforms were among the prominent objects held out as popular inducements by the leaders of the late insurrectionary movements. From these double "inconsistencies" Lord Durham does not derive the inference, that the representations by which he found himself surrounded, of the anti-liberal character of the policy of the popular party, might possibly be unjust; but merely an evidence and illustration of the favorite idea which he has (very erroneously in our opinion) made his point of departure. "I cannot but think," he remarks, "that many, both of the supporters and the opponents, cared less for the measures themselves, than for the handle which the agitation of them gave to their national hostility; that the Assembly resisted these charges chiefly because the English desired them; and that the eagerness with which many of the English urged them was stimulated by finding them opposed by the French."
He describes the main body of the English population as enterprising, industrious, intelligent, active, and, though constantly professing a somewhat extravagant loyalty and high prerogative doctrines, yet as composing "a very independent, but very manageable, and sometimes a rather turbulent Democracy"—“ very determined on maintaining in their own person a great respect for popular rights, and singularly ready to enforce their wishes by the strongest means of constitutional pressure on the Government." And with respect
to the comparative national conditions of the two, he says: "The ascendency which an unjust favoritism had contributed to give to the English race in the government and 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."
He represents the Canadians as "an utterly uneducated and singularly inert population, implicitly obeying leaders who ruled them by the influence of a blind confidence and narrow national prejudices"-" mild and kindly, frugal, industrious, and honest; very