« PreviousContinue »
REGULATION OF FEES.
against forestallers. When this question was under discussion, Haldimand submitted the matter to the attorney-general Monk, and received from him a written opinion that the statute of Edward VI. was in force in the province. Assured of the fact, Haldimand issued a proclamation declaring its provisions would be observed. It was of greater importance to act upon this principle, for by it offenders were not subjected to the verdict of juries, but were liable to conviction before the justices of the peace at the quarter sessions. Haldimand's remarks suggest that it would have been difficult to obtain any conviction ; he writes, “ The old subjects who give the tone in juries are traders, and few of them have any objection or scruple to get money, whether by Ingrossing, Forestalling or Regratting.”*
The council likewise passed an ordinance in the form of the governor's proclamation, including in its provisions milk and flour. It gave great umbrage to Cuthbert, L'Evêque, Allsopp and Grant. The ordinance was ready for publication, when fortunately it was discovered in Montreal by an attorney engaged to defend a person prosecuted for violation of the proclamation, that the act of Edward VI. had been repealed.
The council, in accordance with the provisions of that statute, had inflicted the penalty of the pillory upon those convicted of its non-observance. The discovery that the statute had been repealed dictated a change in the provisions of the ordinances. The Quebec act limited the powers of the council to the infliction of fine, and three months' imprisonment; it was necessary to obtain the royal approbation for any more severe punishment, before it could become law. The council was, therefore, restrained within this limit; Haldimand strongly expressed his dissatisfaction with regard to the conduct of the attorney-general on this occasion.
Haldimand's effort to obtain good government in another direction met with great opposition. He recommended for the consideration of the council the regulation of fees exacted by officers of the government, and those payable in the courts
(Can. Arch., B. 54, p. 365).
of law. The latter bore heavily on the people, and had become the cause of much complaint. Haldimand represented, that debts generally remained unpaid from the inability of the debtors to meet their obligations, rather than from any desire to evade them. Such may generally be considered the result of the experience of all time, here and there modified by the dishonesty of an unscrupulous debtor, when selfindulgent or reckless. The excessive cost of law had become so great a burden as to demand the interference of the government to restrain and adjust it.
Carleton, in 1770, had regulated the fees of the officers of the crown, but the order issued by him in 1774 had ceased to be observed except in the common pleas; the passage of the Quebec act had annulled the authority of his regulations. He had therefore seen the necessity of taking further action in this direction, and in 1775* had brought the matter before the council. Owing to Livius' conduct on this occasion, the council had been prorogued, and no ordinance had been passed. Under any circumstances, the determination of fees on a basis satisfactory to those who are to pay, and to those who are to receive them, is not a matter of easy arrangement. In this case, greater complications followed from the circumstance, that the officers whose fees were to be adjudicated were members of the council. The principal opposition came from Livius the deputy Surrogate of the admiralty, and Monk the attorney-general. The former declared that the fees of his court were beyond the power of the council and could be established only by the court in England. He was, however, silenced by the production of an official letter to the effect that the king had allowed the judge of the vice admiralty court a salary of £200 a year in lieu of all fees.
The attorney-general claimed all that his predecessors enjoyed, including the fees receivable from the Leward islands. In this contention he was supported by Finlay, Cuthbert, Allsopp and Grant. The ordinance, however, was passed and received the governor's assent. It was the best arrangement (Vol. VI.,
he could effect in the opposition he experienced. He has left the opinion on record that the “fees are in general by far too high, and more than the people of the province can bear."
The condition of the post-office also exacted attention, and an ordinance was passed regulating it. There was a strong opinion that during the war it should be annexed to the quartermaster-general's department and remain under military supervision. Finlay's influence in the council decided, that he should continue to direct it. Authority was, however, given to the government for the appointment of inspectors, consequently control could still be exercised on the operations of the office. Finlay, who corresponded with Germain, had communicated to him a plan for superintending the post roads, and had applied to be appointed postmaster-general. He was one of the many in the province who furnished Germain with information, and his communications appear generally to have taken the form which would be acceptable in London. Haldimand felt himself called upon to explain in his letter to Germain, that the views expressed by Finlay were not in accordance with what had taken place. Finlay's application had been referred to Haldimand, who reported against the creation of such an office. He pointed out that the only places at which any correspondence was carried on were Quebec and Montreal, and that Three Rivers and Sorel lay in the line of communication between them, and that there was a regular post twice a week, with a post to Chambly.
Finlay had also suggested a route by the Kennebec to Penobscot, to communicate with Clinton. Haldimand expressed the opinion that such a line of communication was not feasible.* Finlay was one of the clique who opposed the governor-in-chief on many important occasions. He may have felt that he owed Haldimand no good will for the non-acceptance of his views. His conduct certainly conveys that impression.
In Haldimand's speech to the council he mentioned that he had received the additional instructions of July the 16th,
Can. Arch., B. 54, 13th September, 1779.
1779, and they were communicated to the council on the 28th of January, 1780; whereupon Allsopp moved an address to the council, asking the governor to communicate any other instructions which he had received. *
The council gave no support to this motion, and voted it down by a large majority. It was regarded by many present as wanting in decency and decorum, and was even a covert attack on the governor.
It was well known to members of the council, that while Livius and those who sustained him were asking for the production of Sir Guy Carleton's instructions, they were in possession of the papers.
Although this motion had been rejected, Haldimand sent a message to the council that he did not think it advisable to submit to the council any further instructions he had received, and that he would give his reasons for so acting to the king. Caldwell moved that the question should be put, whether
Haldimand has given us a portrait of Allsopp (B. 54, p. 384] which does not create a prejudice in his favour. He had been many years in the province, and from the earliest time had been remarkable for his bad spirit. When in 1764 the robberies at Quebec were a constant source of complaint, Murray gave an order that everybody in the streets at night should carry a lantern. It was a measure suggested for the public security, and desired by the inhabitants. Allsopp appeared in the streets with a lantern without a candle. In accordance with the regulation, he was stopped by a sentry. Allsopp commenced a suit against the man, who was convicted by a jury at the first quarter sessions. It was the commencement of the bad feeling which grew up between the military and the civilians. Allsopp had been a leading spirit in the unwarrantable presentment of the grand jury of Quebec in 1764, which declared that that body alone represented the province and that it had the right to be consulted before any ordinance passed into law; likewise making the demand that the public accounts should be submitted to its members, with other absurdities. [Ante., Vol. V., p. 154.]
He had been an opponent of the Quebec act, and had continued in his turbulence. Carleton, in the hope of quieting him, gave him the appointment of regis. trar and clerk to the council, a position which had been refused him by Murray. When Pownall was appointed to these positions, Allsopp ceased to enjoy them, and to indemnify him in some way for his loss, he was appointed to the council. His nomination to the position was looked upon with dissatisfaction by the friends of the government, for he was distrusted, and suspected by them of disloyalty. He was the friend and relation of men who had actively engaged in the cause of congress : of Walker, of Wells, who was Allsopp's partner, and of the Benfields, who were his brothers-in-law. Allsopp was one of those spirits of evil who always introduce discord and trouble.
OPPOSITION IN THE COUNCIL.
the passage of an ordinance agreeably to the instructions of the 16th of July would contribute to the good of the people, and lead to the speedy and impartial administration of justice. It was decided that it would not, and an address to the governor setting forth the reasons of this opinion was voted.
It was presented on the 7th of March. Haldimand, although convinced of the "strength and truth of the reasons,” took exception to the form in which they were expressed, and referred the address back for consideration. Its language was therefore modified. Caldwell moved that the original address should be expunged from the minutes. Finlay, Allsopp, and Grant asked that it should remain on record, and this request was agreed to.
The ordinance in question was one for the reconstitution of the court of appeal, removing appeals from the council to the court, constituted in accordance with the recommendation of the privy council. Objection was taken not to the change itself, but to the period when it was proposed, being the time of war, when the fear of an invasion by the congress troops, with a large force of the French, was strongly felt. The council was nearly unanimous: the four dissentients were Finlay, Pownall, Allsopp, and Grant, and these all differed in their views. Finlay and Pownall recommended that it should be deferred for a year, the former with certain changes. Allsopp and Grant supported the publication of the ordinance without delay, Allsopp recommending that when the votes of the judges were equal, the eldest member of the council should be added to the bench and the case reheard.
The responsibility which bore the most heavily upon Haldimand in these trying circumstances was the defence of the province. He could gain no reliable information concerning the operations of the war in the southern provinces, by which his own conduct could be guided, and he had no certainty on whom in his own government he could rely. The British and German troops under his command, that he could bring into the field, alone constituted his strength, and he was oppressed by the conviction how insufficient they were to