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II. Canadian Law of Property in Land ........
V. The High Court of Parliament ....
Monday, 10 December, 1838.
THE NORTH AMERICAN PROVINCES.
The news from Canada is such as there was reason to expect.
One of the most objectionable properties of the Ordinance of the 28th of June was that, without an avowal of an intention to pardon them, the illegality of it, in relation to the French Canadian refugees, made it impossible that, as long as it subsisted, any punishment of them, for past offences, should be carried into execution by a court of law.
Whatever may have been the case in England, the lawyers of all parties in Canada knew enough of English law to know this.
The effect, then, of what was done in the month of June, in relation to the disaffected party, was, in reality, that all who had been captured by the military, or who had been arrested and thrown into prison, were released and pardoned, with the exception of eight, who were sent to Bermuda, with the prospect of a pardon at no distant period; and those who had established themselves beyond the frontier received an immunity from all real penalties of the law, whilst a verbal menace was made of a penalty to which, it was well understood by many, that no court of law could give effect.
The consequence, we are now told, on very high authority, was that a conspiracy for the establishment of a Republic was put into active operation : and it appears that the refugees in the United States had there numerous allies to support them; and that the whole were combined with a republican party within the Canadas, and kept up their intercourse by agents, who passed to and fro across the frontier.
When Lord Durham chose to retire, and it was ascertained that a plain-dealing military government had succeeded, and some of its first steps indicated its resolution to put a stop to treasonable meetings, the republican party took a premature, a hurried, and a desperate chance, which has speedily been determined by their discomfiture.
There is now no fear as to the fate of the two Provinces during this winter, if Sir John Colborne lives ; but the settlement of their affairs seems to be, at least, as distant and as difficult as ever; and the invasion which has taken place at Prescott, shews at once how fallacious have been the hopes that any conciliation had been effected of that portion of the American people amongst whom designs against the Canadian territory have, from the first outbreak, been entertained; and how lingering and difficult of cure will be that worst of all the disorders with which the Canadas are infected.
The border contest has this fatal character, that, improbable as it may sound, increase of appetite comes from what it is fed on; blood craves blood; each event supplies the flame with fresh fuel; not one American falls without his death awakening, in more breasts than one, a hostility as eager as his own. To put an end to this ominous warfare, without bringing the two governments into a state of general war, will require the most hearty, the most honest, the most steady co-operation of both.
The basis of our own proceedings must be an intelligible and firm plan of government for the two Canadas.
No British government can be firm which is not open and sincere; which does not mean what it says, and say what it means. No despotic government, in any territories which are British, can be open or sincere. The arbitrary plans of an individual are incompatible with that superintendence which the constitutional sovereignty of the British empire is bound to exercise in every part of it, according to the spirit and forms of British law. The only steady government which can be established any where, amongst those who have the full rights of British subjects, is one which, whether in peace or in war, will proceed according to the plain rules of our Constitution. These, rightly understood, are sufficient for all emergencies. With these there ought not to be much other interference, either of the Crown or Parliament, than in support of them, and to strengthen the hands of those who walk in the paths which those rules prescribe. Embarrassment and difficulty arise only from ignorance of them in quarters where there ought to be a clear understanding and knowledge; or from a dislike of them, and a desire to escape from their restraint, where there ought to be respect and veneration for them, and