תמונות בעמוד

territories, and may accomplish the object of making it safe to employ British capital on new soils, and amongst rude populations, with the certainty of being able to recall the principal, and in the meanwhile to receive the higher rate of interest which fitly accrues to capital so employed.

Thirdly, India.

Fourthly, The interests and demands of all those classes of the United Kingdom who have no other property than their powers of labour or their faculties. These require, that throughout the empire, but firstly, and above all, in the United Kingdom, all facilities and all advantages shall be given to labour and skill which it is possible to give, without abandoning the principle of property.

Fifthly, For the accomplishment of what is required in these vast fields, and by these new demands, it is necessary that some well-considered and effective changes should be made in the methods of conducting public business in some of the tribunals of the kingdom and offices of government, and in the Imperial Parliament itself, which, according to present forms, fulfils but imperfectly, and with difficulty, the vast duties which have devolved upon it, and which are every day increasing.

It is not meant, that under these heads are comprised the whole business of Parliament. Finance, foreign affairs, other branches of trade besides colonial trade, the arrangement of the Established Church, the improvement of the municipal law; these, and many other matters of high import, must, no doubt, occupy a large portion of its attention and its labours. But the affairs which most earnestly require its attention, which will most severely task its labours, which most peculiarly call for legislation, which partly our own conduct, and partly external and uncontrolable circumstances, have brought upon us; which the bias of by-gone times, the wisdom and the errors, the achievements and the failures of our ancestors, the temper of the present times, the spirit of the age, the full stream of tendency bear in upon us at this era, may be, for the most part, arranged under the five heads which have been enumerated; and upon the forms into which these shall be cast, the other affairs of government must be moulded.

Without, therefore, precluding this publication from treating of any subjects whatsoever connected with the progress of British legislation, it may be observed, that it has hitherto been confined chiefly to those which fall under one or other of five categories : and it is probable that it will continue to be so, although, as a relief to such matters, some miscellaneous fragments may occasionally be interspersed.

1. The new title of the Dissenters and Catholics to the full enjoyment of the British Constitution, and the obligations which are attendant thereon.

2. The Colonies.
3. India.

4. The new claims of the labouring classes of the people of the United Kingdom.

5. The conduct of the business of the Imperial Parliament.

In future Numbers, some further indications may be given of the plan of The Preamble.


If any illustration were wanted of the fact, that the present confusion of British politics is produced, not so much by any change of principle or opinion,* as by the absence, on the most momentous subjects, of any thing which deserves the name of political principle, and of the other fact also that the means of the Imperial Parliament for presiding over the affairs of the dependent territories of the empire are wofully defective, that illustration glares painfully before us in the short history of Lord Durham's celebrated Ordinance, and of its consequences.

The crash in Canada, at the beginning of last winter, notwithstanding what had been so long going on, came upon all parties unexpectedly; and the legislative provision for the emergency was hastily made. The principal defect in the act of the 1 Victoria, c. 9. is, that it commits powers of legislation for Lower Canada to the Governor in Council, without giving any direct legislative power to the Queen in Council. It is true that, by the Governor's Commission, he is bound to obey all instructions proceeding from the Ministers of the Crown;t but it did not require a display of those feelings with which Lord Durham has borne the first check in his career, to mark the difference between the case of Ministers having had to communicate

* See page 194. + See Preamble, No. IV. p. 103; No. V. p. 151.

to a Governor General an absolute disallowance of his first Ordinance, together with instructions to a person not naturally inclined to take instruction how he was to alter his course of proceeding ; and that other case which might have existed, of the Queen in Council being enabled at once to make amendments in his Ordinances.

No doubt Lord Durham had a very difficult state of circumstances to deal with. In the peculiar relations of political parties in Lower Canada, it was extremely desirable that there should be as little of any putting to death under judicial sentence as possible : and it was absolutely necessary that, for a time at least, the leaders of the insurrection, and the principal men who had taken any part in it, should be prevented from renewing disturbance among the people. It was much to be wished, if it were possible, that they should be out of the province. Lord Durham appears to have had a perfectly right conception of these objects; but knowing the opposition which would meet him in the established course, it seems as if he had unfortunately been persuaded to make light of taking a short cut by overleaping the fences of the law. He did not care to observe the forms by which, without any violation of law, he might have transported Wolfred Nelson and his companions to the Bermudas, during the pleasure of the Queen ;* and upon the erroneous feeling that it was a matter rather of form than of substance, he issued the substantially illegal edict whereby he permanently precluded Papineau and fifteen others from the trial which they had a right to demand should be afforded them before condemnation, and sentenced them to the death of traitors if they should be found upon the soil of their birth.

Lord Durham meant this as a sentence only of temporary banishment; and he felt secure, that, as long as he should be in Canada, the threatened penalty of death with

* See Preamble, No. V. p. 165..

out trial could not be put into execution : but had he known himself as others knew him, he would have been aware, that by some in Canada it was already calculated that he was a person who might be excited to an abandonment of his office: and now, after he has walked upon the embers of the civil war in Canada, does he think it quite unreasonable to suppose that whensoever he might have gone away, leaving the province in as uncertain state as that in which he is now leaving it, if his Ordinance had remained behind him, Papineau, or any other of the sixteen, who should have been found within the border, might have been executed ; and that thus, by his orders, a claim for a hearing before condemnation, which, even in the most trifling cases, is the born right of every British subject, might have been choked in their throats by the ropes which terminated their existence? But, if no such casualties had ensued, Lord Durham's Ordinance, had it been admitted by the Imperial Parliament to be authorised by the act of the 1 Victoria, c. 9, must have established, generally, the right of the British Colonial Legislatures,* whether Councils or Parliaments, to entertain bills of pains and penalties, and of attainder; or, in other words, to substitute themselves for the courts of criminal justice, and to sentence whom they pleased to what penalties they pleased, not stopping short of death. To what consequences this might lead in the various, the distant, the scattered, the vast, the growing, the factious, and agitated dependencies of the empire, who can tell ?

The intelligence of this unlawful Ordinance arrived in England when the session of Parliament was almost at its close, and when the members of the Legislature, tired of the previous discussions of Canadian affairs, and fancying that they had been handed over for a time to another power, had in some sort dismissed them from their minds,

* See Preamble, No. V. pp. 161, 162.

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