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to those of no other site in North America, New York and New Orleans hardly excepted, ranks with the third or fourth rate cities of the Union. By nature the seaport of a territory only less than the great valley of the Mississippi, having water-power easily available, — and enough to cover her island with the mills and factories it might keep at work, with a denser rural population round her, than surrounds any other city on the continent for the same distance, and with no serious natural difficulty in the way of the extension of her trade in any direction whatever, — this city has a population of little more than thirty thousand souls, and the whole island on which it stands, thirty-two miles long and ten broad at its widest part, city and country together, numbers only about fifty thousand !
Does any one need further witness to convince him, that a result so striking is to be traced to so obvious a cause? The French Canadian law has evidence enough in store for the most incredulous. What if it be harder still to borrow on the security of seigniorial land, than it is to sell it to advantage ! An acknowledgment of debt passed before a notary becomes, as we have observed, a binding mortgage on all a man's real estate ; and, of course therefore, most creditors take good care to have one. These mortgages are not merely general, but secret. The notary keeps the originals, and, as there is no office of registry where copies are to be filed, it is impossible to tell how many different notaries may hold the same man's mortgages. On the death of a notary, his papers of this kind are deposited in a public office, and may be seen by parties interested ; but, during life, the notary acts under an oath of secrecy. An intending purchaser can thus, in no way, guess the incumbrances on the estate in treaty, except from the representations and supposed character of the vendor. How little these will serve his turn, may be inferred, when we add, that it is not merely the incumbrances the present holder may have brought upon the land, that are in question. Any uncancelled" acte” of any former holder will serve as well as one of yesterday. Such bonds are often held back for years, so long as a poor man, who cannot satisfy them, may continue in possession, and if, for any cause, a seizure and forced sale be thought inexpedient. The moment a new holder, who can pay, steps in, he is greeted with them, however, to a certainty. Arrears, too, of seigniorial dues, are held to be secured as by a mort
gage. By a sham seizure and sheriff's sale, these claims may be brought out before purchase, or, if not brought out, cancelled ; and this course, therefore, though both costly and tedious, is the one in common use. But even this does not bar all claims. There are contingent rights acquired (under a labyrinth of laws about dower and inheritance) by the widows, children, and children's children of all who have ever held real estate ; the claims growing out of which neither sheriff's sale nor time extinguishes. How is a man to buy, sell, lend, or borrow, with mill-stone laws like these about his neck ? Prices, credit, trade, — what meaning can the words have, where such a code furnishes the glossary?
The American reader, not conversant with the subject, may think that a representation like this must be overcharged. The Anglo-Canadian will feel and know, that it is the reverse. We have given an outline sketch of a part only of the picture. Could we add half the minor touches, which should go to a sketch of this part of the system as it exists in Lower Canada, and then proceed to show, how the other parts of the system all tend to make one another more intolerable, the representation would be rendered as much more faithful as it would become more startling.
We have spoken of the perpetuation of the French language, and the laws and usages co-existent with it, in Lower Canada, as a thing impossible ; and have said, that, if possible, the attempt to bring it about, would still have been, as it was, most unwise. Enough has surely been said, to establish both these positions. It remains, that we offer a remark or two on the measures taken with this design, and show, that they too were all that we have called them. It will not require much argument to do this. Whether we look to their inevitable tendencies, as regards the proposed English province of Upper Canada, or as it regards the English race in Lower Canada, or, finally, as regards the French themselves, we shall see them still in the same light, — ill-chosen means to an ill-chosen end.
How then was it, that the authors of the Constitutional Act, intending to separate the two populations for ever, and give each its own province, where it might be unmolested by the other, divided the country as they did between them? From the St. Lawrence towards the Ottawa, the division line sets out along the southwestern boundary of the highest of the
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French seigniorial grants; and this reason alone was looked to in selecting it. It was forgotten, that the navigation of the St. Lawrence was broken by a rapid, just above Montreal ; so that this arrangement, by giving that city to the Lower Province, left no seaport to the Upper. To be sure, if the island of Montreal had been given to Upper Canada, there would have been an end put, in another way, to the project of dividing the races and their systems; for this island and city of Montreal formed a seigniory, inhabited chiefly by French Canadians, and the property of a Catholic ecclesiastical community.
But, to show the weight of this objection to the line of demarkation selected. The two provinces had but one natural outlet to the ocean, and that their only direct channel of communication with the parent state. Had they both enjoyed equal access to this common outlet, the mischief would have been less ; but, as it was, one of them had it all to herself. All goods imported for either province must be landed in the Lower. The duties must be paid there. But Upper Canada paid part of these duties, and had a right therefore to part of the revenue. To how much, then ? Could the two colonies, one French and the other English, one collecting the whole revenue, and the other clairning part of it, the one which had the seaports uncommercial in its habits and laws, and that which was cut off from the sea commercial and maritime, — could these fail to quarrel ? But, besides the embarrassments of a revenue in common, they had those of a task in common too. The navigation of the St. Lawrence is impeded in both Provinces ; to a considerable degree, indeed, even below Montreal. Upper Canada must have water communication with the nearest seaport, and she must be anxious, that that seaport should have the best communication possible with the distant sea. But let her expend her money as she might, on canals towards Montreal, Lower Canada must finish them, or they would be worth nothing ; and below Montreal, Lower Canada still must be the party to improve, or no improvement could be had. These two matters of dispute, accordingly, have been in agitation from the first. The Imperial Parliament has been forced to try its hand at the adjustment of the quarrel about revenue ; but the award naturally made both parties more angry than ever. The improvement feud was
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left to take its course ; and unprofitable it has been to both the parties to it.
But the English in Lower Canada! If their countrymen in the Upper Province had reason to complain, how much more had they? They were not numerous in 1791 ; but their first settlement had been on the faith of a promise of English laws. Besides, their presence in the colony, and their comparatively rapid increase in wealth and numbers, were, from the nature of the case, unavoidable. Quebec and Montreal must have merchants, if only for the trade of Upper Canada ; and these merchants, as a class, must be English, for the French were not and would not be merchants, either to the extent or in the mode required. On the north bank of the Ottawa, too, was the chief supply of timber for the trade with Great Britain ; and the English merchants must have their full supply of it. These lands, too, had not been granted in seigniories to any distance up the river, and the English Crown now granted land in free and common soccage only. The French Canadians would not settle there, as it was beyond the bounds within which their laws were confined ; and thus an English population extending up the Ottawa must have part in Lower Canada. In fact, for this latter reason (which everywhere made the French keep near their old settlements), a population of the other race was sure to settle more or less rapidly in several other directions, on the extensive tracts in the rear of them. A great part of this population was equally sure to be of American origin. The townships * first surveyed, were along the frontier of the United States; and these soon began to be settled from the southward. At a later period the tide set in from Ireland and Great Britain. It was just as certain, moreover, that the race speaking the English tongue must be, for a long series of years, a small minority under the system set in operation, as it was that it must all the while be present in the colony. How then was this race to fare, with the French law we have been describing in force over all the French part of the country, the validity of the English law, for many long years, called in question, as regarded the remainder, and an overwhelming French majority
* The land, granted in free and common soccage, was set off in “ town. ships" of some one hundred square miles each. The division was purely territorial; and not, as in this country, the basis of a municipal system.
VOL. XLIX. — NO. 105.
to maintain their own laws, without change, in their own territory, and to struggle for their extension over the whole province, simply because they were the laws, of all others, fitted to keep it, the said rival race, out or under ?
And the French, — with Upper Canada thus hostile from without, and this English minority (steadily advancing in numbers and wealth, as compared with themselves,) hostile within, to all which they were indulged with the seeming power of perpetuating, — what were they to do? Their province set off on purpose to give them this power, were they not sure to make the attempt to exercise it ? If so, was not this, again, sure to embitter the hostile rivalry of the races, in a sort of geometrical progression ; till at length all other questions, -of Bureaucrat or Liberal, — of reform in law or government, —of local improvement, taxes, expenditure, land-granting,or aught else, --- should be fairly lost sight of in the melée, and be merged in the one war of race and language ?
From this hasty review of the chief causes which have been at work to produce confusion in the British American colonies, we pass to speak in few words of their results. And here our notice must be more hasty still. The facts are too many to be cited one by one ; or the proof could be made clear to moral demonstration, that all we have been saying of the tendencies of the system, may be truly said of its results. We have not the space even to present a full summary of those results, as they differ in different colonies. A remark or two on the state of parties in each, is all we can venture upon.
In Newfoundland, then, the controversy is, in the main, that of a popular party against a Bureaucracy ; though this is certainly not its sole feature. The great bulk of the community is Catholic ; most of the officials, Protestants and of the High-Church School. The religious element accordingly enters largely into the feelings of each party. In general, the merchants residing near the seat of government, side with the administration against the House. The constitution has been but a short time in being ; and the struggle under it is at its height. The Colonial Office, however, has made a number of concessions to the assailants of the local government.
In Prince Edward's Island, the all-absorbing question grows out of the ownership of the soil; the resident population en