Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

and the safety-valve, which saves Canada and England from the explosion of a war, may be looked upon as a wise and merciful contrivance. And no doubt there is much truth in this view.

Yet, on the other hand, there are considerations which make us pause, and modify the approbation with which we might otherwise regard the measure. Perhaps it is an advantage to a colony, in some respects, to be made to feel that a separation from the mother-country is an act fraught with danger and difficulty. It is not good to make such a severance too easy; or a very slight disgust, a momentary caprice, a quarrel which might have been healed by fair concession on both sides, may prove enough to drive them upon the irrevocable step. It is a wise policy that casts obstructions in the way of divorces between man and wife. The best friends may quarrel, and, while the heat lasts, be anxious to part, who, if they are forced to keep together, will soon be reconciled, and as cordial as at first. And it is certain that disputes, such as that at present subsisting between the governor of Canada and the house of representatives, would be soon healed, if the Canadians felt that it was necessary, either to make some little concession, or to prepare, if they pushed matters to an extreme, for a rebellion and war with England. As it is, they have only to hold by their constitutional rights, and take up a defensive attitude, and they will at once be perfectly safe from military violence, and become an independent state.

Thus a whim may separate them from us, and very likely will do so before long. And yet we know of no greater calamity that could befal Canada, than a present independence. She has not yet attained enough of unity to form a nation. A national spirit has not had time to grow up; and, without it, national existence is impossible. The amalgamation between the French and British Canadians must be the work of years to come; and until it is accomplished, or at least far more advanced than it yet is, freedom from English superintendence would only lead to civil war. The weaker party would call in foreign aid, and it is not easy to set limits to the disasters which must ensue. The violence of the hostility of the two races may be seen from the following passages in Lord Durham's Report :

I expected to find a contest between a government and a people; I found two nations warring in the bosom of a single state : I found a struggle, not of principles, but of races; and I perceived that it would be idle to attempt any amelioration of laws or institutions, until we could first succeed in terminating the deadly animosity that now separates the inhabitants of Lower Canada into the hostile divisions of French and English. It would be vain for me to expect that any description I can

me.

give will impress upon your Majesty such a view of the animosity of these races as my personal experience in Lower Canada has forced on

Our happy immunity from any feelings of national hostility, renders it difficult for us to comprehend the intensity of the hatred which the difference of language, of laws, and of manners, creates between those who inhabit the same village, and are citizens of the same state. The national feud forces itself on the very senses, irresistibly and palpably, as the origin or the essence of every dispute which divides the community; we discover that dissensions, which appear to have another origin, are but forms of this constant and all-pervading quarrel ; so that every contest is one of French and English in the outset, or becomes so ere it has run its course.”-pp. 8, 9.

But, perhaps, the sanguine will hope, this animosity will be confined to words and thoughts, and will not break out into actual war. It is a faint hope; since even the terror of an English army did not prevent the rebellion, which was, in fact, a war between the races, in which the French were worsted.

The treasonable attempt of the French party to carry its political objects into effect by an appeal to arms, brought these hostile races into general and armed collision. The French population, removed from all actual share in the government of their country, brood in sullen silence over the memory of their fallen countrymen, of their burnt villages, of their ruined property, of their extinguished ascendancy, and of their humbled nationality. To the government and the English they ascribe these wrongs, and nourish against both an indiscriminating and eternal animosity. Nor have the English inhabitants forgotten in their triumph the terror with which they suddenly saw themselves surrounded by an insurgent majority, and the incidents which alone appeared to save them from the unchecked domination of their antagonists.

They find themselves still a minority in the midst of a hostile and organised people; apprehensions of secret conspiracies and sanguinary designs haunt them unceasingly, and their only hope of safety is supposed to rest on systematically terrifying and disabling the French, and in preventing a majority of that race from ever again being predominant in any portion of the legislature of the province."-p. 20.

In short, according to Lord Durham, French and English, in Canada, hate like Orangemen and Repealers. There is, perhaps, some exaggeration in all this eloquence; and both parties have since had five years of tranquillity to cool down in. But no community can be safe, which is divided between two powerful factions, hating each other more bitterly than they hate foreigners. Both will be ready to call in foreign aid: and the country must either become the arena, in which stronger states, auxiliaries on either side, fight out their own battles ; or it must be dismembered like Poland ; or fall under the yoke of the foreign invaders. Canada would certainly be swallowed up in the United States, though not, perhaps, till after years of bloodshed. She might share the fate of Texas; or perhaps become the Botany Bay—the Siberia—of the American republic. At all events, the Canadians would not retain that independence, which half a century of consolidation under the protection of England would ensure for them. Her thin and scattered population would be unable to resist a people, which colonizes as fast as it conquers.

It seems highly desirable that Canada should eventually become a separate state, and not be merged in the American Federation. There would be the obvious advantage of having a counterpoise in North America to that formidable republic; a counterpoise, not merely to its political power, but to the immoralities and vices of its system. There would be a place on the transatlantic Continent, where dishonesty was not respectable: and where statesmen were not compelled slavishly to bow to every caprice, and flatter every folly, of the populace. Canada would be the seat of a new form of civilization, instead of falling into the ranks of the United States. Those amiable enthusiasts who attribute all vice and all misery to the overpressure of population, or the defects of monarchical governments, might hope to see another Utopia grow up North of the St. Lawrence. Such men hailed with joy the planting of the American provinces, and the era of American independence; and looked hopefully on the establishment of a great republic, free from the faults of European communities. Their expectations, it is true, have been sadly disappointed. Yet, with all the faults of the Americans, there can be no doubt but the influence which their republic has had upon Europe is immense, and prolific of much good. The entirely different ways of thinking and of acting which the Americans display cannot fail to have given an impetus to the minds and conduct of men in other countries. The establishment of any new form of civilization must produce a wide and beneficial effect upon all the old ones, as it cannot fail of evolving many new ideas, some of which, at least, must be of value. Its

very errors contain

germs
of truth

l; or, at least, they serve for warnings.

Hence it will be an advantage to all the civilized world if the Canadians, instead of following on the beaten track of the citizens of the United States, strike out a new one for themselves,-as they will do, no doubt, if they preserve their nationality. The Millennarians will then have a fresh impulse given to their benevolent hopefulness; and the less sanguine will expect to derive advantage from the many new experiments in government and all the arts of life, of which a young nation must be the subject.

For these reasons, we cannot look without some alarm at the danger which now seems to threaten our connection with Canada; and the workings of a measure which has a tendency to loosen our hold upon that country. The former system, indeed, was every way faulty, and calculated to excite discontent. And it is always too late to think of taking back any political concession: the British government would have neither the right nor the power to do so.

Nor would we subject ourselves to Lord Bacon's rebuke:“That which is past is gone and irrecoverable, and wise, men have enough to do with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves, that labour in past matters.” For a lesson

may be inculcated that has reference to the future. It is, that, as we have given the Canadians the power to separate themselves from us without much difficulty, we must be the more careful not to give them the inclination. We must respect their constitutional and commercial privileges; and must do all we can,

by the mildness of our sway, to make them so contented under British protection, that they may not be over-hasty to cast it off.

L.

ART. V.-A SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT ON THE RESULTS OF A SPECIAL INQUIRY INTO THE PRACTICE OF INTERMENT IN TOWNS. BY EDWIN CHADWICK, Esq.

This publication completes the Sanitary Report of the Health of Towns' Commission. We congratulate the Commissioners on the discharge of this great portion of their onerous and far-reaching labours : and we congratulate the British public on the possession of a body of evidence on this subject, so widely collected, so carefully sifted, and so ably condensed and arranged. A flood of strong light has been poured on many matters of the most vital concernment to society; and evils, hitherto supinely and hopelessly neglected, have been clearly shown to be susceptible of that best of remedies, PREVENTION !

We can well imagine, that, viewed in vagueness and at distance, the branch of the subject which this publication includes, might have appeared to the Reporter to promise more materials than, on a nearer approach, it was found capable of supplying. It touches upon solemn and imaginative ground : death, and all that relates to it, cannot lay down all their power—we were going to say, all their poetry-before the most dutiful and resolute intention to grapple with them in their most repulsive forms, to enter into their most revolting accompaniments, to follow dreadful facts into those last dark concealments, where corruption itself becomes phosphorescent with truth. We find no difficulty in conceiving that the subject appeared richer in promise than it proved to be in performance; for the nature of the duties imposed upon the Reporter, obviously precluded him from touching upon any topic of mere embellishment, and confined him to those stern, practical views of it, which the official character of the Report demanded. Life is infinitely more diversiform than death ; and if this portion of the Report should be found less interesting than the former, it should not be forgotten, that this is a disadvantage, under which the subject itself must always labour.

It was not to be expected, that, amid the mass of matter collected by the zeal and energy of the Commissioners, there should not be many particulars of which different views might be taken, and inferences as to which opinions might be divided. Such, we think, will be found in that section of the Report, which treats of the consequences of the retention of the remains of the dead among

the living

It appears to us that a

« ForrigeFortsett »