Page images

mind is the standard of the man; and the size of a country is generally measured by the men who are in it.

Let this Assembly but have the elevation of sentiment, the enlargement of soul, the energy, vigor, enterprise, to deal with it as they ought to deal, and its dimensions will be forgotten. Nova Scotia, however, is not so small as many may imagine. Take Massachusetts, with its numerous railways, extensive trade, vast capital, and place it side by side with Vermont, and together these two states do not comprise so many square miles as little Nova Scotia, Massachusetts having seven thousand, and Vermont nine thousand, making sixteen thousand. Again, Switzerland is not a very large country, but her enterprise is appreciated by every nation of Europe. Holland is not a large country, and yet the people have shut out the sea, and maintained, in the very heart of Europe, the freedom which elevates and the enterprise which prospers a nation. Why then should we despair? Look at our country! Sir, I have rambled and travelled over the most of it time and again, endeavoring to familiarize myself with its resources. Take her inexhaustable fisheries, and fruitful soil; her mines, minerals, water power, timber, all the natural advantages of which she is possessed, and I do not believe there is a spot of ground of equal area on the face of this continent, combining and including on its surface and in its bosom, so many natural advantages as does Nova Scotia. The rough elements of prosperity lie in profusion, within the grasp of all who choose to avail themselves of them; and with all this, she has a long line of sea coast, nearly equal to the whole available sea line of the United States, Go into her Western counties and contrast them with those of Western Canada, and, sir, I firmly believe that we should not lose by such a comparison. I have travelled in the United States, and in Canada, and have never entered a farmer's house where I could obtain a more abundant or substantial meal, than in the vales of Cornwallis, or on the mountains of Pictou.

We have been told, sir, that Nova Scotians will be unable to bear up under the weight of taxation which the supporters of this bill are about to impose. I have heard and read this statement, and I have wished that I could but direct back to the past history of our Province, the gaze of those who used it. I would have them contemplate the position occupied by us in years gone by. Let me say to my honorable friend from Yarmouth, whose strenuous opposition I have been led to expect, that whatever that opposition may be, nothing can ever lessen the respect I entertain for his ability and judgment. But I wish he could have viewed the old sturdy settlers of Yarmouth, as they stood beside the seashore, constructing the first ship that floated on the waters fronting that rising village. Sir, these old men had the nerve and energy to brave the dangers that surrounded them, with the primeval forests and unbroken solitudes stretching behind them, peopled by the red man, then their foes. With no roads, no bridges, no schools, no churches, scanty means for civilization; yet with strong arms they hewed down the timber, built their vessel, and dared all the risk.

But, sir, how would that risk have been lessened, the toil and danger sweetened, if that little group, gathered around their first ship, about to be launched, could have been informed that but a few years later, and their offspring would have peopled Yarmouth with thousands of inhabitants, and own two or three hundred sail of vessels ; that their roads would intersect the surface of the whole country, connecting them with its most remote districts; their bridges span every stream, their churches dot every village; that schools would be found the country over, offering every facility for internal improvement and progress; and, in addition to all this, that they were on the eve of having railway communication with the whole continent of America, already having obtained rapid steam communication with the continent of Europe; and that in order to obtain all this, they were to be taxed just 2s. 6d. per head. Think you they would have been afraid to launch their vessel? No! they would have smiled at any man who attempted to terrify and frighten them with such a weight of taxation as that.

Let me turn the attention of the honorable member for Clare, — and no portion of the Province has been more frightened from its propriety by this taxation bugbear, than the township he represents, — let me direct my honorable friend's attention to the trying circumstances through which that hardy French population passed, in the early settlement of this Province. If, sir, while their villages were in flames, their churches being destroyed by the axe - while general confiscation of their marsh and upland was made, any man had said to them, you shall have security and

peace, the free exercise of your own religion, secure possession of marsh and upland; nay, more, you shall have an immense market opened up to you in the other British possessions on this continent, with which you will be connected by railway; and you may hear weekly from your friends in France, but, mark you! you shall be taxed 2s. 6d. per head!! Sir, I understand the spirit of that bygone race better, than to believe that such an apprehension would have alarmed them. They would have felt bound to transmit down, from generation to generation, all the improvements they could possibly make in the country, and 2s. 6d. per head would not have prevented them from doing their duty.

But, sir, I have no fears for the way in which this measure will be dealt with by the people of this Province. I am, however, at this moment ignorant of the course of conduct which any member of this House may deem it right to pursue; I have not canvassed a single man, believing it to be beneath me and a degradation and disgrace to them; but, sir, I commend it to the good sense and kindly feeling of those who have stood with me, side by side, during many exciting and interesting epochs of my political existence. To those who hitherto have been my political opponents, I would say, that down to the present hour, neither personally, nor as a member of the government, bave I endeavored, by the ordinary means in the hands of an administration, to influence the mind, the opinions, or the judgment, of a single member of the Assembly. But, sir, I would say, that if after all the time and labor this negotiation has cost, personal interest, selfish or party feeling, should strangle the measure in its birth, I would feel deeply mortified and hurt. As an individual, I should feel much; for little Nova Scotia — her honor, credit and welfare, I should feel more. The eyes of the American States, the eyes of British North America and of the mother country are upon her at this hour; every message coming from the adjacent Colonies evinces the feverish and intense anxiety with which they are looking to her example. And, sir, let me say, in conclusion, that deep and strong as are my feelings at this moment, I have not the shadow of the shade of an apprehension for the mode in which it will be dealt with. Sir, I have never knowit this Legislature deficient in harmony and unanimity where a great occasion demanded it. It is my pride to contemplate those green spots which dot the history of this deliberative Assembly — neutral ground where we all meet as Nova Scotians uniting for their country's welfare. Sir, the common defence of our country, education, those offices of charity to surrounding Colonies when afflicted by the hand of Providence which we are sometimes called on to perform, unite us. And, sir, I firmly entertain the belief that, by the time this question is discussed and tried out, we shall be united. Sir, I should rather that the bills were lost than that this work should remain, after its construction, a hostile tower - the object of attack and defence; but I fervently believe it will be like the smiling rivers, with which a bountiful Providence has blessed our land, the common highway of all; the undivided property of every Nova Scotian, man woman and child; and that each one within these walls will have his share of the pride and gratification of aiding its construction.

A long and animated debate followed. Amendments were moved, in various forms, but were defeated by a majority of thirty-three to seventeen.

The burthen of this debate was borne by Mr. Howe, who was compelled to speak often ; to meet all sorts of objections ; to argue with opponents who were sincere ; and to laugh at those who were factious and unreasonable. We have not space to spare for any of these speeches, which however effective at the time are perhaps not worth preserving.

The bills were finally passed by large majorities, and on the 24th, Mr. Howe called the attention of the House to the importance of surveying and preparing the crown lands for the occupation of settlers who might, by the construction of our public works, be attracted into the country.

The Hon. Herbert Huntington had been a prominent and able member of the liberal party. An intimate friendship had existed between that gentleman and Mr. Howe, running over a period of fifteen years. They differed upon the railway policy. Mr. Huntington, whose health had been giving way for some time before, died in the course of this summer. A graceful tribute to his memory was paid, towards the close of the session, by Mr. Howe, who moved the following resolution, which was seconded and supported by the leader of the opposition, and unanimously adopted :

Resolved, That His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor be authorized, and respectfully requested, to cause some appropriate testimonial to be erected over the remains of the late Herbert Huntington, whose loss to his country and his family this House sincerely deplore.

Mr. Howe said:

Mr. Speaker, although our proceedings during the present session have not been quite unanimous, I trust that the resolution which I hold in my hand will be adopted without a division. It is the custom in civilized countries, to perpetuate the memory, and to record the virtues of those who have rendered eminent service to the State ; and even among barbarous nations, some rude cairn marks the spot where sleeps the warrior whose voice was respected at the council — whose arm in battle was strong. To the dead such memorials are of little worth, but they are of value to the living. The rising generations study the history of their country in the monuments which grace its surface; they emulate the virtues which their forefathers have regarded it as a sacred obligation to record. The gentlemen who have been recently returned to this Assembly may not be so familiar as the old members of the House are, with the peculiar characteristics and eminent qualities of the man to whom this resolution refers. For twenty years he served his county and his country faithfully ; during the whole of that time he acted under our personal observation. Every phase of his character was familiar to us; we saw him tried in every conflict; by every vicissitude of Colonial public life ; and I think that gentlemen on all sides will agree with me that for varied information, unbending integrity, and a rigid adherence to what he believed to be right, no man ever was more deservedly distinguished than the late Herbert Huntington. Self-taught, his stores of knowledge were yet various and ample ; trained in the Legislature, and in a community where agricultural and commercial pursuits blend, his mind was practical — his knowledge suited to circumstances as they

To permit a man like this to slip out of our ranks without a recognition of his services or a word to his memory, would not be creditable to this House; nor would such neglect be very encouraging to the rising intellect of our country. Let us place over Huntington's remains, then, some tribute to his worth. Let the country he served stamp her approbation on the spot where his body moulders. There may be novelty in the proposition, but if this is the first monument erected by Nova Scotia, let us hope that it may not be the last. Any elaborate or expensive work of art I do not contemplate or propose. It would be in bad taste. A simple shaft of Shelburne granite, with his name upon it, would be an ornament to his native town, and an appropriate memorial of plain manners, enduring virtues, and unbending integrity.


In closing this remarkable session, Sir John Harvey could not restrain the feelings of honest pride with which he surveyed the results of energetic government, and the elevated future of the noble Provinces in which he had served so long.

Never, during my long administration of Colonial governments, did I ciose a legislative session with more pride, and more entire satisfaction, than I feel at this moment.

Ilaving served in all the Provinces which you have labored to unite by bonds of peace, and mutual cooperation, I know their value, and highly estimate their vast resources.

At the close of a long life, nearly thirty years of which have been passed in the North American Colonies, in peace and war, the great

« PreviousContinue »