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one sol tournois per superficial acre, and a bushel of wheat for forty superficial acres.
As to the cens, it consisted, generally speaking, of a sol, or a sol and a half tournois, for every acre in front, by the whole depth of the concessions.* This cens is subject to: 1. The right of lods et ventes.
2. La saisine; that is to say, twelve deniers Parisis, for being seised of it: but the eighty-second article of the custom says, Ne prend saisine qui ne veut. There is no obligation to take saisine. t
3. The fine when the case happens. I
By the ordinances already cited, and by the clauses inserted in the contracts, the censitaires are obliged,
1. To let their grain be ground at the seignior's mill, and to pay the fourteenth part for grinding.
2. To make, or permit to be made, all roads and bridges necessary for the public.
3. To clear their lands and occupy them, within a year and a day from the date of the contract. [A clause extremely favourable to agriculture, to the advancement of the province, and to population.]
4. They are subject to the reserve of mines, ores and minerals, and oak-trees.
* A sol and a half tournois is fifteen-eighteenths of a penny of cens, for an arpent in front, by twenty, thirty, forty arpents in depth. Some are known to be one hundred and twenty-six arpents in depth, which are subject but to this cens,
+ Twelve deniers Parisis are equal to two-thirds of a penny.
# This fine is of two sorts: one is incurred by the refusal of paying the cens et rentes, and is of five sols Parisis; the other arises from the default of notice being given of the sale, and consists of three livres and fifteen sols. But a sentence of the judge is necessary to oblige the proprietor to the payment of these fines.
As to oak-trees, this reserve does not take from them the liberty of cutting them down on the land they clear, nor even on their other lands; custom having ever considered this reserve in this sense: that the king has a right of taking those trees wherever he finds them, as also the seigniors for their mills, &c. without having it in their power to charge their censitaires with culpability for cutting them down. There is even a judgment of M. Begon, of the 20th of July, 1722, which forbids the seigniors to trouble their censitaires in the employment and sale of the oak-trees they cut down on their lands.
• Thus, every man has a right to insist on a grant of land, without its costing him a sol to become a perpetual proprietor of it;* and if the rentes are all stipulated to be in money, he will pay annually for an estate, for example, of four acres by forty, a rent of sixteen livres tournois, and a cens of six sols.
If, on the contrary, the rent is in money and wheat, he will pay eight livres tournois of rentes and six sols of cens, with four bushels of wheat. I 4. If afterwards this land is sold, the purchaser, on entering into all the rights of the settler, becomes also subject to the charges, and will owe the lods et ventes.
Is it, then, without reason that, under the present system of tenures, the people of this province are said to be happy? Is the censitaire exposed on his death to have the fruits of his labour torn from him, after flattering himself with having, by the labour of a whole life, acquired for the children of his bosom the sacred right of an inheritance ?
Can these tenures be compared to the leases of ten, twenty years, for life, &c. known in England, of one or of several acres of land for annual rents of two, four, six, ten guineas per acre, which the unfortunate husbandman cannot pay without being reduced to live on a fourth part of what is necessary to satisfy his appetite, and that in potatoes, oats, &c. ? Yet, still happy if he be not obliged, after having cleared a great part of his land, to abandon his sacred and natural right to the fruits of his labours, gained by the sweat of his brow, from his incapacity to pay an oppressive rent.
Is this a kind of tenure, which draws the blood of the labourer to nourish and satiate the rich lord, as voluptuous as indolent and useless ? Is this a tenure where the earth devours its inhabitants, and must fall, by a natural tendency, into the hands of these great proprietors, the eternal scourge of population ?
* It will cost him but the notary's fee for passing the deed. + Making 15s. 1d. annual rent for one hundred and sixty arpents of land.
# Making 7s. 8d., with four bushels of wheat, for the same quantity of land.
The lods et ventes, as has been already said, are the twelfth part of the amount of the purchase-money; the seigniors generally remit a fourth of this right, without any prescription being established against them by custom.
As a proof, none are known to leave the province to seek elsewhere a more advantageous kind of tenure; while we see arrive here families in swarms, to enjoy the benefits that its tenures offer them, and breathe the free air of its husbandmen.
Such are the observations I have made, after reading with attention and reflecting on the extract of the proceedings of a Committee of the whole Council of his Majesty, printed by order of his Excellency, dated the 20th of October last. As a citizen and native of the province, of course as much interested in its welfare as any can be, I think no one can blame me for them. I submit them, with the most humble respect, to the examination and wisdom of the Right Honourable Lord Dorchester.
THOMAS BEDARD, Priest. Quebec, February 16, 1791.
LEGISLATION IN INDIA.
It is paltry to hold a party in an argument to an inapplicable word, which has been incautiously uttered; but for the purpose of arriving at any practical conclusion, nothing is more necessary than that in such a case, if the word be an important one, an opportunity should be afforded for recalling it, or for defining what it was intended to indicate. In all likelihood, when an “impartial despotism” was recommended in the Parliamentary paper,* to which reference was made in the last Number of this publication,t the ideas which were connected with it were not very determinate. But the author of the minute is a great master of language, and was engaged at the time in a course of definitions : the paper, after having been under the consideration of the Court of Directors, and of the Board of Commissioners for Indian affairs, was selected for the perusal and information of the parliament: the passage is a remarkable one, and, doubtless, there is some meaning in it. “We know that India cannot have a free government; “but she may have the next best thing, a firm and impartial “ despotism. The worst state in which she can, possibly, be
* See page 3 of Sessional Paper, No. 275, printed in return to an order of the House of Commons, 2d April, 1838.
+ No. III. p. 99.
“ placed, is that in which the memorialists would place her. “ They call on us to recognise them as a privileged order " of freemen in the midst of slaves."
If the character of the laws which the imperial parliament has directed to be made for India is of any importance, it is important to understand what is really signified by these sentences; and one who has been desirous of arriving at this knowledge, and who was satisfied that the terms could not have been advisedly employed to express what he himself understood by despotism, resorted to the obvious and mechanical expedient of looking into a dictionary. In the best* which we have of the English language, the following passages are given consecutively as illustrative of the whole family of despotic words, and they have the accidental merit of at once pointing to the only sort of despotism which can be contemplated in British : India, and of expressing the sentiments with which it is certain that it would be regarded by the British people :
“ This liberty is best preserved when the legislative power is lodged in several persons, especially if those persons are of different ranks and interests; for were they all of the same rank, and consequently have an interest to manage peculiar to that rank, it differs but little from a despotical government in a single person.”- Spectator, No. 287.
“ To their favourite sons or brothers, they imparted the more lofty appellation of lord or despot, which was illustrated with new ornaments and prerogatives, and placed immediately after the person of the emperor himself.”—GIBBON, Roman Empire, c. 53.
“ As virtue is necessary in a republic, and in a monarchy, honour, so fear is necessary in despotic government; with regard to virtue, there is no occasion for it ; honour would be extremely dangerous.”—MONTESQUIEU, The Spirit of Laws, b. iii. c. 9.
* A new Dictionary of the English Language, by Charles Richardson, 4to. London : Pickering, 1835.