« 이전계속 »
To give some idea of the nature and extent of this dead weight on the industry of the hardy pioneers of civilization. For some time it appears to have been the practice in Upper Canada, to specify a fraction of each grant, as clergy reserve ; these grants being commonly made in lots of two hundred acres each, and one seventh (not one eighth) of each being reserved. After a time, however, it became customary to set off in all parts of the country, as fast as it was surveyed, a seventh part of these two hundred acre lots ; and, in general, the reserved lots were separate from one another. In Lower Canada a system of very much the same character has prevailed, though with some aggravations. The whole extent of the reserves at the present time, exceeds three millions of acres, cut up into these fractional nuisances.
But this system, though bad, could be made worse ; and those who were in charge of it were the men to make it as bad as it could be. Whether the original sin of the contrivance we are going to describe, rested with the Home authorities' ignorance, or with our local Bureaucrats' selfseeking short-sightedness, we cannot say ; but we should incline to think the latter. It has all the look of being a device of a local oligarchy, dependent for the continuance of their profitable power on the future increase of those revenues of which they might have the disposal, in the name of the Crown, and without reference to the Assembly. The public lands were held to be Crown property, and their rerenues were sacred from popular interference. By what means the local officials were all this time quietly killing, for their own behoof, a large proportion of the geese which were one day to lay these golden eggs, we shall soon see. There was a plan for keeping enough of the geese alive, to supply at some future day, the revenue not absolutely necessary to their purposes then. If the Home government sug. gested it, the crime it committed was nothing to the blunder. The men who saw and knew its consequences, who hoped future profit from them, and therefore entered into, defended, and maintained a system which they could easily have set aside, — these men, whether its first contrivers or not, are the men most to blame for it.
Besides the seventh part of every township reserved in lots for the clergy, as a plague to the poor laity, a second seventh was reserved in the same way, for the future dispo
sal of the Crown ! Two lots out of every seven were thus kept for an indefinite time in wilderness, paying no tax, and yielding no revenue ; but taxing the scanty population everywhere, with all the extra road-making &c., rendered necessary by this impoverishing separation of each settler from his neighbours. A luminous device, to make settlers loyal and religious, by putting Crown and clergy at every turn before their eyes, in the shape of uncleared woods and marshes, to plague and pauperize them.
Pass we to another feature of this land system. The administration of the public lands was vested by the Home government in a few local officers for each colony, and the oversight of these men committed to the Executive Council thereof; the Home government, retaining a mischievous right of interference in directing private grants, in addition to any that might be made by the Council, and a right (for many long years, of course, tolerably inoperative) of directing the Council's proceedings, and, if necessary, reversing any of them. We need not do more than remind our readers of the composition of this Council, to prepare them to imagine the general tenor of their proceedings in virtue of this power. A single example, of a multitude which press forward for citation, must susfice. It is the earliest in point of time, and the foundation-stone is a fair specimen of the building. The first instructions to the local executive of Lower Canada, on this subject, direct that, to avoid the evils of excessive grants, no settler should have more than two hundred acres granted him. To meet the special case of a settler with more than ordinary means for clearing land, the Governor was authorized at his discretion, to grant as much as one thousand more to any such person. Who would have supposed, that very nearly 1,500,000 acres would, under these instructions, have passed in a few years into the hands of a few officials and their friends, in quantities of from 10,000 to 50,000 acres each ? Yet so it was ; and the mode of accomplishing the trick was this. The influential claimant for such a grant would procure the required number of signatures, to a petition headed by his own name, praying the Governor and Council to grant each signer the two hundred or more acres that could legally be disposed of by them. Private bonds were at the same time entered into between the “ leader” and his “ associates” (as the parties were commonly called), stipulating for the immediate relinquishment by the latter of their mock grants, in favor of the former, for some consideration merely nominal. The grants were made with a full knowledge of this fact. Indeed, blank forms of the required bond, drawn up by no other hand than that of the provincial attorney-general of the day, were publicly sold by the law stationers in Quebec. It will readliy be understood, first, that all these grants were free grants, fees excepted ; and, secondly, that hardly any of the land thus jobbed away, bas been cleared in any degree by its grasping holders. The system produced the same kind of fruit everywhere.
In 1826, however, the Colonial Office interfered to check the abuses which had been growing up ; and, in 1831, further and more efficient measures were taken to this end. A system of sale of lands by public auction was directed; but still under regulations not altogether judicious, and which left a good many opportunities for evasion to its administrators. Among Lord Durham's recommendations is one, which there appears no reason to doubt will be acted upon, for the complete reform of this whole department ; but our limits do not allow us to continue our remarks on this subject to the extent which would be required, to explain its principles and efficiency.
Our readers can be at no loss to imagine the effect of this system of land jobbing and reserving, upon the roads in the new districts, or the effect of the want of roads on the settlement of the country. Here, again, the Home government is chargeable with the sins of omission, rather than of commission. It has spent large sums on colonial improvements, but it has not taken care to have them expended in the most economical and effective way. It has given the provincial authorities abundant legislative powers for them to have effected the construction of all the roads the country could need ; but it failed so to balance those authorities in the first instance against each other, as to insure their discharge of that, or indeed of any other, public duty. One colonial party has jobbed in lands, so as to make roads in many districts almost impossible ; the other has too often jobbed in roads, so as to throw yet further obstacles in the way of the improvement of the country.
We might apply the same remark to a variety of other topics, to the provision or want of provision for local mu
pudiciary our limits adlooked ore
nicipal government ; for example, for a rural magistracy, for the judiciary, and, more than all perhaps, for popular education. But our limits admonish us to pass to a subject, which cannot possibly be overlooked or even very hastily discussed, if we would convey to our readers any idea of the true features of the whole case before us.
The policy of the English Crown in guarantying their language and institutions to the descendants of the French Canadians whom it conquered, has already been noticed in its connexion with the history of the old colonies, now the United States. We have yet to glance at its effects within the present colonies of Great Britain ; and first, for the real character of the laws and customs thus perpetuated, and the measures taken to perpetuate them.
The political system of the province was improved, beyond question, by the conquest. The complete military despotism of the French government was exchanged for a form of government, sufficiently arbitrary, it is true, but still neither military nor despotic. The introduction of the Habeas Corpus Act into the colony would have been an inestimable political boon, had it stood alone, which it did not. The first step taken by the British government was one, which, if it had been followed up in the spirit which appeared at first to dictate it, might have made the history of this continent read very differently from what it now does. In 1763, a Royal proclamation invited settlers to all parts of the newly acquired territory (comprising most of what is now British America), promising them for ever the enjoyment of laws " as near as may be conformable” to those of England. The French law was abrogated, and the courts were enjoined to proceed on the principles of the English. The Governor was empowered to convene a Representative Assembly ; and it is a fact now not very generally known, that most of the elections to the proposed House actually took place accordingly. A difficulty as to the form of oath required for its Catholic members, alone, prevented it from meeting ; and the project was then for the time laid aside, on a representation of the impolicy of such a step in a newly conquered country with a foreign population. The Thirteen Colonies of course enjoyed the advantages of this invitation and these pledges. In fact, their officers and men, who had served in the war, were offered grants of land in Canada, if disposed to settle there.
But the disputes of the Crown with its old colonies soon led it to adopt the fatal policy of fostering all that was peculiarly French in its new subjects; and in 1774, the Act called the Quebec Act was passed, at its instance, by the Imperial Parliament. By this, the French civil law was restored to the province of Quebec, leaving the criminal law of England still in force ; and the government was permanently vested in a Governor and Legislative Council named by the Crown. This state of things lasted through the war of Independence, and till the passage of the Act of 1791, which divided the Canadas and gave each province the constitution already described. The English law was now restored in its integrity to Upper Canada ; but the French civil law was guarantied anew to Lower Canada, or rather to such parts of it as were held under the feudal tenure, the system of land-granting in use under the French régime.
The criminal law continued as before ; and the whole body of English law, indeed, was, by implication, to prevail everywhere, beyond the seigniorial portions of the province. Besides so much of the French civil law as was thus renewed in its operation over a part of the country, it will be remembered, that, with slight modifications, the laws and usages relative to the Catholic Church, and its endowments, had been guarantied by the earliest acts of the British Crown within the province. Beyond the seigniorial districts, as there were then no French settlements, and consequently no Catholic parishes, these laws and usages were inoperative.
The assigned reason for this separation of the Canadas, was the desire of the British government of the day, to give each of the two populations, French and English, a province of its own ; within which its own language and institutions should prevail, and where it should be left free to govern itself, and maintain or modify its laws, at its own pleasure. At the first glance, a project like this may seem statesmanlike enough ; but a very little closer examination will suffice to show the contrary. The object aimed at was unattainable ; and, had it not been so, its attainment would still have been on all accounts most undesirable. The means were as illchosen as the end ; not simply because they had no tendency to produce a result at all like that which we have just declared impossible ; but because the whole of the results which they had in fact an inevitable tendency to bring about, were mis
ther holic pareted the B