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the same principles as her own; and have given to the Canadians the right of electing, and being elected members of the legislature. How far it has been wise so to do, appears at least problematical. That which is a positive good in certain circumstances, may be a positive evil in others. Is it clear, that the British form of government is fitted for Canada, and that the Canadians are in a state to be benefited by being allowed a share in the government? Does their knowledge, their education, the whole train and direction of their ideas, prejudices, and passions, fit them for being legislators? I suspect that the answer must be in the negative. How can those men attain a knowledge of the principles of government, atad of eivit and religious liberty, who can neither read nor write, which is the case with the great mass of the people, and however strange it may appear, is the case with many of the members of the House of Assembly. This must seem incredible, but is however strictly true; and is of itself a most convincing proof that it was too soon to give them a share in the government.
The state of the country is so low as to arts and letters, that it is impossible to find in the counties, and even sometimes in the towns, men, who in any respect are capable of taking a part in the legislature. Let knowledge be more generally spread through the country; let the people be taught to read and to reason, which Englishmen had long been habituated to before they received their constitution, and then, and not till then, ought they to have a voice in the deliberations of government.
I do not deny that some of the Canadians are qualified from their education and general knowledge to take a part in state affairs, but it is the case with very few of them"; and to pretend to find in the counties in general, fit men to represent them, is altogether out of the question. The counties are large districts, thinly inhabited, and generally by people who cannot leave their families without great injury to their private interests. In fact, more than one half of the members of the House of Assembly are merchants, shopkeepers, lawyers, and notaries public, living in Quebec and Montreal. The House of Assembly consists of fifty members, and I will ven* ture to say, that taking away seven or eight of them, whom I could name, the business of the House could not go on at all, such is the incapacity of the rest. Would not a council, including these seven or eight members, answer every purpose of a House of Assembly? Nay, be more consonant to the feelings and prejudices of the majority of the Canadians, and to the state of the province both in a civil and military point of view.
I may be told that it is now too late, the Canadians having tasted the sweets of power. It is an observation as true as it is common, that it is never too late to do well. It is to be hoped, and presumed, that the House of Assembly will not in any material point thwart the intentions of the executive, or act contrary to the interest of Great Britain. If they did, I should think it by no means too late for the governor to dissolve them never to meet again, except to be instantly dissolved, which it is in his power to do. It would be doing many of them no great injury to transplant them to their corn fields, or country shops, instead
of allowing them to sit in a House of Assembly where they are mere cyphers, or, at best, tools to a few designing men.
The Canadians themselves seem to have felt their incapacity to. act as legislators, for they opposed as much as they could the introduction of the present form of government. It was brought about by the English residents in Quebec and Montreal; but from some mismanagement at home they were completely outwitted. If Upper and Lower Canada had had but one house of assembly, the English party would have always kept the majority. But Canada was divided into two provinces ; and as the French Canadians in Lower Canada greatly outnumber the English, they have completely the ascendency in the House of Assembly;—a thing never dreamed of by those who promoted the introduction of the present form of government. The Canadians find that the government of the country is virtually placed in their hands; the English cannot carry a single point if they choose to oppose them; and is it to be expected that a constitution founded
on the purest principles of civil and religious liberty, can be supported, explained, and acted upon, by men, who are as ignorant of such principles, as they are deficient in general knowledge?
The division of Canada into two provinces, with separate and independent governments, was certainly approved of by Mr. Pitt, though it did not originate with him:—the present lord Grenville I have understood was instrumental in bringing it about. It appears contrary to principles which Mr. Pitt afterwards applied to another part of the empire. He maintained, and all mankind must allow that union gives strength and vigour; by the union of Scotland and Ireland with England, the strength of the whole is generally allowed to be increased. The same principle will apply to the Canadas. They should not have separate legislatures, because it will in time engender separate interests, real or supposed; and produce a jarring in their co-operation for the general good of the colony, and in promoting the interests of the mother country.