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he appealed. We accordingly meet with much gasconading, which had little basis on truth. The French agents expressed themselves convinced of the perfect readiness of the French Canadians to risk life and fortune in the cause ; but there is not the slightest evidence that there was any organization or that any one person possessing influence was compromised in the agitation. The appeal to French sentiment may have made many discontented, to the extent of shewing unfriendly feeling to the government, and, no doubt, may have conveyed the impression that little reliance could be placed on them, in the event of an invasion by French troops, attended by the constantly promised fleet. The gratuitous assertion that they were prepared to take the field may be summarily dismissed. Le Fer described that the feeling he had found to prevail was the desire that Canada should be regained by France. Few, however, were willing to take up arms to join the movement. They would remain lookers-on. If success attended the invasion, to judge by what was said, they would have rallied around the invaders in great numbers.

What powers were given to Adet to make an attempt in Canada and what he was commissioned to endeavour to effect must remain a matter of doubt. The directory, it is probable, was equally without matured plans and would have been governed as chance suggested. Genet, after him Fauchet, and now Adet, represented the same principle, the desirability of repossessing Canada ; and each had represented to his government the undertaking to regain the province as feasible. The French government had incessantly given encouragement to its ministers in Philadelphia, in the prosecution of their intrigues. Such action was at least hostility to a British possession. As we read events to-day, we know France had not the power to furnish the ships or the troops to carry out the promises made in the parishes by the French agents. Le Fer described the plan laid down as he became acquainted with it. The fleet would ascend the Saint Lawrence with a force of 6,000 men and 30,000 stand of arms

1796]

AFFAIRS IN THE WEST.

453

to be placed in the hands of the French Canadians. The landing was to be made at Kamouraska. Here the rallying point would be made, and a proclamation issued. Success, of course, was considered assured. The belief, whether felt or not, was expressed that Quebec would immediately capitulate. The British should have the option of remaining in possession of their property, on condition of becoming French citizens; or would receive liberty to depart. The French Canadians themselves were to be relieved from all the burdens of the seigniorial tenure and made possessors of their property. This was the keynote of the song of liberty promised to them. The dîme was to be abolished. The priest would become a totally different person and depend upon voluntary contributions. The main scheme was thus clearly traced out. One Volney had been in Albany, in the summer of 1797, directing the movement in Canada, and had returned to France to concert measures for the invasion.*

There had been likewise a plan for Canada to be assailed from the west. A general Collot, in 1796 and the following year, had been busy with the Indians, with the design of engaging them to make a diversion against Upper Canada on the arrival of the French troops in the east. The difficulty in Prescott's mind was that the only troops to meet such an attack would be the Canadian militia ; for his whole force would be required for the defence of the lower provinces. The news of this design, communicated to Prescott, was made known to Russell. It caused great anxiety. Russell asked for troops, but they were not in the country, and Russell himself did not know the tribes on which he could depend from those that were considered to be in the French interest. +

Some light was subsequently thrown on the events of this time by the arrest of one M. Le Couteulx, a Frenchman,

* [Can. Arch., Q. 81.1, p. 21, Ist of Oct., 1798.] † (Can. Arch., Q. 82, p. 28, 12th of December, 1798.]

of war.

naturalized in the United States. He was arrested at Niagara on the 7th of October, with a large quantity of merchandise, and taken to fort George. He appears to have brought a letter of introduction from the officer in command at fort Niagara, major Rivardi. On hearing of his arrest, Rivardi wrote to know why an American citizen should be detained, but colonel McDonnel, in command at fort George, explained that he was without a passport and must be held until the pleasure of the commander-in-chief was known. Le Couteulx was sent to Quebec. The opinion of the attorney-general was that he could be held as a prisoner

Sir Robert Shore Milnes was then lieutenantgovernor. He ordered the papers of Le Couteulx to be examined, and he was placed in confinement in rooms in the jail. His letters, dated 1797, were full of bombast, but this fact did not lessen the dangerous character of the schemes in which he was engaged. Nothing, he wrote, would please the Canadians more than to see the arrival of ten ships of the line in the Saint Lawrence with 6,000 troops. There were 197,000 Canadians with French hearts that were burning with the desire for the old government of France.

He recommended the introduction of forged notes into England. What was essential was that France should have a footing both in the north and south of America ; at Florida and in Canada. It was precisely the policy the public men of ability in the United States opposed; they saw the mischief that might arise from such possession, and from the whole federalist party such theories received strong opposition. That this policy was entertained by Adet and his predecessors is ample proof the desire was strongly felt in France; we here have the origin of the crisis which threatened Canada. All that prevented such measures being carried out was the want of power to consummate them.

To meet an emergency which might arise in any attempt on the part of France, there were at the disposal of the government of Lower Canada but 2,034 rank and file of

1798]

THE DEFENCE OF CANADA.

455

the regular force, and 424 of the ist battalion Royal Canadian volunteers, principally French Canadians. In Upper Canada there were 647 troops, composed of the Queen's Rangers and second battalion Canadian volunteers, of the loyalist population.* The unceasing feeling of serious responsibility on the part of those charged with the defence of the province can, in these circumstances, be easily conceived.

[Prescott to Portland. Can. Arch., 81.1, p. 4, 22nd of August, 1798.]

CHAPTER II.

The last twenty months of Prescott's government were embittered by his serious dispute with the council on the subject of land grants. No principle affecting modern practice is involved in the points at issue.

In that sense, any inquiry into the merits of the misunderstanding can effect no result. The subject, nevertheless, is of historical interest and furnishes its teaching, as it bears upon the relations of the governor with the executive council. Moreover, although all traces of the quarrel passed away after the arrival of Prescott's successor, for it is to be presumed parties had learned the necessity of moderation, the ill feeling it engendered at the time actively penetrated the small society of Quebec. On one side were bishop Mountain, chief justice Osgoode, with the members of the council who acted with them, and their friends. On the other, the influence of government house, at no time a slight matter in Canadian social life, was enlisted. We read in the Simcoe papers how an aide-de-camp passed in the streets the bishop's wife without the customary salutation, although he had dined at her table. A colonel on the governor's staff resigned his position and asked leave to return immediately to England. His secretary took the same course.

On the representations of Prescott, the duke of Portland, in the first instance, authorized him to carry out the recommendations he had made. Subsequently, the duke took exception to Prescott's having arraigned the motives of the council committee, and directed that consideration should be given to the views expressed by them. Finally, Portland wrote that he regretted the continual difference between Prescott and his council, and the only remedy was his retirement. It was the king's pleasure that he should

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